A swaying palm tree, the gentle lapping of the waves, warm sunshine, dazzling blue sky - in the dark days of British winters, these are the images we conjure of the perfect escape.
If the Caribbean region has written the book on the must-have holiday ingredients of sun, sea and sand, Antigua and its sister island Barbuda - which boast 365 beaches between them - have perfected the formula.
With average temperatures ranging from the mid 70s to mid 80s in winter, these are the sunniest islands in the eastern Caribbean.
Day one in Los Angeles had been full of surprises, not all of them pleasant. On the debit side, an unremitting downpour and the discovery that there is more nightlife in Frinton than in parts of downtown LA.
For our 20-year-old daughter, there was compensation in initial retail therapy (we did not chance on LA’s three Urban Outfitters branches until later in the trip) and for us both, an evening of glorious spectacle watching the LA Kings ice hockey team at the Staples Centre.
A few years ago, Seattle tourism officials coined a new word to sum up the charms of this lively hub of the US Pacific Northwest. The slogan they came up with — “Metronatural” — evokes the way the city’s modern urban centre is ensconced in one of the most beautiful natural settings in North America ; it also reflects how this setting inspires the lifestyle and experience of residents and visitors alike.
A brow-beaten and slightly emphysemic eight-seater plane of uncertain age and less certain power (max speed 110 mph — my Audi does that on West End Lane) flew us from Guyana’s weather-boarded old colonial capital of Georgetown, birthplace of more West Indies cricket legends than you can wield a bat at, to the fabled and heart-stoppingly sensational Kaieteur Falls.
At 750 feet, one of the longest and most powerful single-drop waterfalls on the face of the planet, Kaieteur is arguably the most beautiful waterfall in the world, and incontestably the most remote and least visited.
If there are four of you — two picky teenagers and two exhausted adults — each with a differing view on how best to spend 10 days in the USA, where do you go? In an attempt to satisfy everyone, we embarked on a swift grand tour through three states — Arizona, Nevada and California.
The idea was that there would hopefully be enough variety along the way to satisfy the diverse requirements of the entire family.
Cape Cod is a lot easier to spot in a picture — all those iconic white clapperboard houses, picturesque lighthouses and wild beaches recalling any number of Edward Hopper paintings — than it is to find in real life.
Unlike the coastal strip of Massachusetts known collectively as North of Boston, where one charming township follows another, this old fishing ground — only latterly reinvented as a tourist destination — is a sprawl of mainland and island communities with no visible centre
My flip-flopped feet were speeding towards the beach when I heard someone shouting at me. I thought I’d been spotted smuggling fruit out of the breakfast buffet, but the smiling Barbadian just said: “Stop rushing — it’s illegal to hurry in the Caribbean!”
Looking down on the ruins of Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas and one of the Seven New Wonders of the World was mesmerising. Nestled in the steep slopes of the Andes overlooking the Urubamba River, this city in the clouds seemed magical. It was one of the most impressive sights I have ever seen — and I have seen the other six of the New Wonders of the World.