Sunday, 7 April 2019

April Skiing in Les Deux Alpes, France


With an a diverse collection of pistes and lifts above 2,000 metres, Les Deux Alpes is a good shout for a family skiing holiday in early April. The fairly gentle gradient on the sizeable glacier and steep descents back to town give Les Deux Alpes an unusual profile. It is not a massive resort, but the runs tend to be long and the lift system is pretty effective: you will be skiing a lot, particularly if you avoid the French school holidays. The slopes can be almost empty and there are some stunning views from the glacier. At the end of day, you might enjoy the run down from 3,200 metres to 1,650 metres in one go – a real leg burner, but you feel like you're travelling. Note, there are also a few enjoyable runs on the facing slopes in an area known as the Vallée Blanche, which may remain open when the main resort is struggling with an overload of snow. This area has more trees, and some fun off-piste, but it will only occupy you for a few hours.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Regent's Park Road, North London

Large Italianate stuccoed villas painted in pastel shades face Primrose Hill, giving Regent's Park Road a rarefied air.  The stucco was originally intended to be left bare, to resemble stone, according to Lyndon Goode Architects, which also notes that many of the homes feature decorative flourishes such as pediments, keystones and scrolled brackets on windows, eves and parapets.

Primrose Hill, North London

At 63 metres above sea level, the top of Primrose Hill affords far-reaching views across London to the south. In the Victorian era, it was a popular spot for duelling and prize fights. Today, this Royal Park attracts a steady stream of sightseers on sunny winter mornings, venturing up from nearby Regents Park.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Rice Republic, Streatham High Road, South London

More relaxed than many of the Chinese restaurants in the west end, The Rice Republic serves respectable staples at reasonable prices. To kick off, the crispy aromatic duck (£9.50) with pancakes, soy sauce, cucumber and spring onions, is competent and quite generous, while the prawn dumplings (three for £4.20) are delicious and the duo of steamed pork buns (£3.90) makes for a hearty appetiser. For a main course, the chicken in satay sauce is best avoided. It is a bit short of flavour, while the meat is a tad rubbery. The king prawns with ginger and spring onion (£9.50) are far better, while the crispy fried shredded beef is sweet and satisfying. Steamed rice (£3) is nicely done, but a tad pricey, while the egg fried rice (£4) is lacklustre. You can probably do without a small bowl of prawn crackers for a couple of quid.  On the whole, the dishes are good value, but the extras and sides soon rack up, particularly if you are drinking beer (£4 for a 330ml bottle of Tiger) to wash down the spicy food. Still, service at the Rice Republic is very smooth and the ambiance is appealing. A large mural of the Great Wall of China and the light shades that look like bird cages are among the eye-catching adornments. 7/10

Sunday, 3 February 2019

The Thames from Deptford Creek, South East London


From the cycle path hugging the U-bend in the Thames near Deptford Creek, there are fine sweeping views up and down the river, taking in Greenwich, the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Steak Night at the Prince Regent, Dulwich Road, South London

On a Thursday night, the Prince Regent pub has turned its menu over to mouthwatering steaks. A hefty and delicious 9oz sirloin steak (£18) arrives with some decent chips,  a crisp green salad and a moreish Béarnaise sauce. Served in the elegant and well-heated Victorian dining room, you can enjoy your hunk of meat with one of the fine beers on tap. Although the service can be a bit haphazard, it is well-meaning and welcoming. 8/10

Monday, 14 January 2019

Pollen Street Social, Pollen Street, Central London


At any Michelin-starred restaurant in London, a three course lunch for £37 is a bargain. At the expertly-run Pollen Street Social, it is almost a steal, particularly if you steer clear of the pricey wine list. Although there are only three choices for each course, the waiting staff also bring a steady stream of extras, so your taste buds will be well and truly stimulated. These memorable morsels include an afternoon-tea themed mix of appetisers, featuring caviar, smoked salmon, cucumber and a mini-Victoria sponge cake. The miniature mushroom soup, which appears before the main course, is also delicious.