America, Countries, Sustainable Tourism, UK

London a national monument

Take the National Express when your life’s in a mess as Neil Hannon opined… ’appen he was en route to London a national monument.

Now there are many ways to get to London from around Britain.

And I have taken them all… planes, trains, automobiles.

But the most persuasive is by coach which is only around £28.80 on National Express for a 10hr 50mins trip.

Other coach companies pound the roads but ’appened Neil hadn’t opted for Stagecoach and FlixBus didn’t run back in 1999.

The train drain

Chug, chug, chug: The British trains

And you can cut out accommodation costs by kipping on the coach.

Those prices will, of course, as in the words of Neil, make you smile.

While the rest who have been deluded by the machinery of state into believing that ‘the train takes the strain’.

Yes, sure, if you want to lighten the load in your wallet.

Like clockwork

Tubeway Army: London Underground

One rider, of course, is the network for trains that go underground, the Tube, which works like clockwork.

And where you can swipe your bank card and so avoid queuing at ticket offices.

While their joined-up Oyster card, like the Leap card in Dublin and across a raft of cities makes a mockery of my own city, Edinburgh’s crumbing transport links.

It’s not the only area Scotland’s capital needs a good clean-up and a new facelift.

On a podium

Piece of history: With Stonewall Jackson in Virginia

Take our statues, those we put on a podium to look down on us.

Something of a hobbyhorse of your chronicler statues, as much as I’d love to see the royals and empire builders brought down to earth I’m realistic.

And know that just like the USA where a raft of Southern states surround themselves with Confederate heroes it’ll take time to change attitudes.

Redress the balance: With Fanny Lou Hamer

And while we do we should be redressing the balance by putting up more statues of our women, animals, cultural, sports, entertainment and international icons.

And maybe even objects of national endearment like the National Express coach.

Because be sure if it had been around in Dick Whittington’s Day he’d have hopped on it.

Out of Africa

Statue ahoy: Sailormen

It was rewarding too to see a celebration of post-colonial empowerment.

London In the statue of Malawian John Chilembwe which occupies the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.

Where he towers over the colonial ruler and where he is now the only African and person of colour thus celebrated.

The fourth plinth should be something we all hold onto.

It is an idiosyncrasy in the square dominated by Admiral Horatio Nelson, victor of the Napoleonic naval battle, that there is another plinth up for grabs.

Three corners are occupied by the ruling elite, King George IV, Henry Havelock and Charles James Napier.

Havewho, Napiehow? Yes, quite. Havelock and Napier were bigwigs during the Indian Raj.

The fourth plinth

Jesus: And Mark Wallinger

The reason why we should embrace the fourth plinth, originally meant for King William IV, 180 years ago, is that it is now a rolling statue.

No, not like Edward Colston who was rolled into the river in Bristol.

But every couple of years an artist’s new statue goes up.

Mark Wallinger’s Ecco Homo of Christ in 1999 making way to a number of others including an Anthony Gormley erection (stop it)!

To just now and Samson Gambalu’s Antelope which will come down in a year.

To accommodate Teresa Margolles’ 850 Improntas, casts of the faces of 850 trans people from London and the world.

The fourth plinth truly does sound like the solution, the future… London a national monument.

And something I’ll be recommending to Edinburgh council.

To pull down the spaceship of Walter Scott and replace it with the city’s most famous citizen, Sean Connery.


Asia, Countries, Europe, South America, Sustainable Tourism

The Leading Hotels of the World

IT’S that reminder, not that you need it, that you’re in the plushest of pads… the Leading Hotels of the World book on your table.

As you look out from the Dylan Amsterdam over the Keizersgracht canal in Amsterdam just down the corridor from George and Amal… or whichever Leading Hotel you, or they, are reclining in.

All of which we were reminded of when our friends at LHW alerted us to the new intake of six hotels which have been added to their 400+ roster.

And yes for all the swish billets we’ve stayed in over the years we still have 399+ to visit…

O Flower of Amsterdam: The Dylan

But every journey starts with one step.

This season’s LHW collection includes four new hotel openings…

An ambitious city resort on Samarkand’s Silk Road, an architectural jewel in Milan, a mountaintop hideaway in Montafon and a vibrant dining destination in Montevideo.

And they are joined by two storied hotels…

A grand lakeside estate in Lausanne and a Roman hotspot with historical charm.

Get thee to a seminary

Water place: The Portrait for wellbeing

Portrait Milano (Milan, Italy) NEW OPENING December 2022: And there’s plenty of them in holy Italy.

LHW tell us that this is one of the oldest seminaries in Europe, dating back to the 16th century.

And only recently opened to the public for the first time.

They tell us Portrait embraces the lively Piazza del Quadrilatero.

With the elegant, vaulted colonnade animated by restaurants and bars, boutiques, a lush garden and a wellness centre.

There are 73 sophisticated rooms and suites and other accommodations will provide an oasis of privacy and peace, surrounding guests by timeless elegance.

Smooth as the Silk Road

Asian peace: And tranquility

Samarkand Regency Amir Temur (Samarkand, Republic of Uzbekistan) NEW OPENING Autumn 2022:  Billing itself as the crown jewel of the Silk Road.

Any viewer of Joanna Lumley’s excellent travelogue will know all about one of the world’s oldest trade routes.

The name pays tribute to Uzbekistan’s 15th Century national hero, who made Samarkand one of the most illustrious empires.

The 233-room hotel features charcoal-grilled dining at El Sabor, 20th floor Sky Bar.

With panoramic views, and the Nephrite Spa & Wellness offering beauty and wellbeing treatments from Valmont and Thalgo alongside a hammam and pool.

Surrounded by thousands of years of history and magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The hotel is located steps from a first-of-its kind Eternal City, an entertaining and immersive ‘model city’ which was designed and created by Uzbek artist Bobur Ismoilov to honour the artistry and tradition of Uzbekistan.

Nature’s ski lodge

Mountain high: In Austria

Falkensteiner Hotel Montafon (Montafon, Austria) NEW OPENING December 2022: And this being the mountains, then the focus is on sustainability.

The 123-room hotel is designed to blend into the surrounding mountains.

And the outdoor facilities have been harmoniously integrated into the surrounding skiing and hiking areas of the Erlebinsverg Golm.

The first certified, climate neutral ski area in Austria.

A dedicated ski shuttle connects to over 27 miles of scenic ski slopes, offering endless opportunities for skiing and winter sports.

Montevideo star

South American dream: In Uruguay

Hotel Montevideo (Montevideo, Uruguay) NEW OPENING December 2022:  Transforming an iconic corner of the city into an elegant destination for dining and design.

Hotel Montevideo taps into the vibrant energy of Uruguay’s bustling capital city.

Each room offers floor-to-ceiling windows and a private balcony to take in the city views.

At the hotel, savour authentic local fare created by renowned chef duo Ale Morales and Flor Coureges at Polo Bamba during the day.

And journey to the Sky Bar at Piso 10 for awe-inspiring sunsets that attract travellers and locals alike.

Out on a wing in Lausanne

Royal Savoy Hotel & Spa Lausanne (Lausanne, Switzerland): One of Switzerland’s grandest dames, opened in 1909.

It has been restored to fuse old-world charm with modern luxury.

The estate near Lac Léman is divided between the historic Savoy Wing and the contemporary Park Wing.

Each of the sumptuously outfitted 196 rooms and suites are punctuated with Art Nouveau influence.

The Sky Lounge boasts spectacular 360° views of Lausanne, Lake Geneva.

Eternal pleasure 

No place like Rome: And what a view

Hotel Splendide Royal Roma (Rome, Italy): Established within an historic estate dating back to the 1800s.

The recently renovated Hotel Splendide Royal Roma is situated in the heart of Rome’s most prestigious neighbourhood.

Steps away from the Via Veneto, and the extraordinary Villa Borghese Gardens, the hotel offers unparalleled access to the very best cultural, culinary and shopping experiences in Rome.

All of which you can do seamlessly and in budget.

Each of the 69 exquisitely-decorated rooms and suites effortlessly balance the old-world elegance of period furnishings, classical art, and historic details with the understated refinement of modern luxury.

Boasting award-winning dining at the signature Mirabelle Restaurant and breathtaking views at the rooftop lounge.

This is a city hot spot that is a favourite with visitors and locals alike.

All of which is leading up to you rewarding yourself by staying in one (or more) of the Leading Hotels of the World in the new year.


Asia, Sustainable Tourism

World calling the Middle East

Qatar’s hosting of the Jules Rimet Trophy is a great pride for that Gulf state but also the greater region.. a chance to have the world calling the Middle East.

And here on your favourite site we have the contacts to relay to you what the Middle East are saying back.

From Jordan to Jeddah.

Camel and one: To Jordan with G Adventures

Following on from a certain meeting of minds in Sharm el-Sheikh in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt…

The world of travel is ready to do its bit too.

They have outlines five sustainable trends to look out for in the Middle East’s travel sector.

And what that looks like is a concentration on sustainable trends.

Of green airlines, eco hospitality, sustainable attractions, locally sourced produce and forward-thinking government initiatives.

All to be pushed through and without all the double talk associated with COP27, at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2023, at Dubai World Trade Centre from 1-4 May.

ATM’s theme for its 30th edition is ‘Working Towards Net Zero.

And tourism, as we all know, plays a major part in addressing climate change.

According to Sustainable Travel International, tourism-related activities account for
approximately 8% of worldwide carbon emissions.

Greener airlines

Electric Qatar? Flying high to the Gulf

Etihad Airways have been leading the way, having recently received the Environmental Sustainability Innovation of the Year award from the Centre of Aviation (CAPA).

For its progress towards net-zero targets and UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Abu Dhabi-based airline expect to cut single-use plastic waste by 80% by the end of this year and is also on course to achieve a 20% reduction in passenger fleet emissions intensity by 2025.

And while Qatar’s national football team may be licking their wounds after their opening-day victory, its national airline is flying high (sorry)!

Qatar Airways is making significant progress towards lowering its carbon emissions through similar initiatives, such as waste reduction and water conservation.

Eco hotels and resorts

Abu Fhabi: Abu Dhabi

Our hospitable hospitality sector are also focused on saving the earth… and giving us a good holiday to boot.

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has partnered with Hotelbeds to help increase inbound travel while promoting green hospitality.

On a broader level, the Middle East is already home to a diverse selection of eco-conscious hotels and resorts.

Many of which have eliminated single-use plastics (a pet subject of ours from our trip to the Maldives).

Sustainable attractions and activities

Dubai Dubai do: Images of Dubai

Step up Dubai which boasts eco-adventures ranging from sustainable camping to
wildlife safaris in conservation areas.

Elsewhere in the UAE, Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion, first developed for Expo
2020 Dubai and now located in Expo City Dubai, continues to wow guests.

With an immersive journey through forest roots and ocean depths.

Locally sourced produce

Paris of the Middle East: Beirut

The Middle East’s hospitality sector is making significant sustainability inroads through
the roll-out of sustainable food and beverage.

Dubai-based restaurant Lowe has focused on delivering delicious meals that have no detrimental impact on the planet since opening its doors in 2019.

Beirut’s Baron uses organic produce to create all its recipes.

While Abu Dhabi’s Sanderson’s uses corn starch in the manufacture of its eco-friendly food tubs and cutlery.

Top-down strategies

Hey man, Oman: And drive sensibly

And credit where where credit is due, our tourism leaders are showing their government what to do.

The Dubai College of Tourism (DCT) and Dubai Sustainable Tourism (DST) launched a new course earlier this month to enhance sustainable tourism offerings.

Available on Dubai’s innovative learning platform, Dubai Way empowers participants to drive water and energy savings.

Through effective green governance and procurement practices.

Elsewhere in the region, the Oman 2040 Tourism Strategy aims to improve
sustainability within the sultanate’s luxury travel sector within the coming two decades.

Arabian delights

Big hand: To Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is also working to establish itself as a sustainable tourism destination.

Through projects that combine world-class guest experiences and environmental

Of course they are hoping that yields fresh interest in their country.

And they are pushing ahead with their goal to increase inbound tourism.

By 10 million visitors annually as part of Vision 2030.

And so it’s clear that while we see the world calling the Middle East, the Middle East is answering big time.



Sustainable Tourism

Sustain Sebastian

And in the week that’s in it with Cop27 around the corner we’re reminded that sustainability and gastronomy don’t have to be strangers, in fact they complement each other just fine, in European culinary hotspot San Sebastian, or Sustain Sebastian if you will.

Bask in the Basque country‘s warmth of hospitality.

Where it is always centred around the dinner table and the farm to finger experience.

And their love of small dishes allows you to savour a range of foods.

And the joined sensual experience of sharing your food with others.

It is of course pintxos that you’ll be dipping your fingers in.

On a stick

Less is best: And put it on a stick

For those who like to know the derivation of these things some history here.

Pintxos were originally a slice of baguette piled high with food and held in place by a cocktail stick or pintxo.

These days rustic has become miniature haute cuisine.

With tiny flavour bombs from the traditional Gilda with an olive, guindilla pepper and anchovy.

To leek and prawns in brick pastry, for example, passing through myriad tastes (we’re told).

Get in with the locals by showing you know the difference between pintxos and tapas…

The pintxos are generally smaller.

Zurito or a txikito

This is how it’s done: Spanish food lessons

And order a zurito (a small beer), or a txikito (a small glass of wine) with your pintxo… or maybe both.

For those who’ve whiled away a day from Barcelona to Santiago, from Majorca to Tenerife then you’ll know how Spanish bars work.

And the Basques are a variation on a theme.

So in San Sebastian, the cold pintxos are available on the bar when you arrive.

And you can help yourself to them.

Hot pintxos should be ordered at the bar.

On a crawl

Turning native: In the Basque Country


And just like us they like a crawl too.

So it is normal to have one round (pintxo & drink) in each bar before moving on to another one.

And don’t worry about burrowing around in your pocket for your euro.

You generally pay when you are about to leave.

Or you can get on one of the tours for €65pp which includes four selected pintxos and four different wines from different national DO.

So get out there and enjoy the farm to finger experience in Sustain Sebastian.



Sustainable Tourism

Wonderful Copenhagreen

Fracking hell, why couldn’t this septic isle be more like sustainable others… today, I give you Wonderful Copenhagreen.

Yes, I know Copenhagen is the city and Zealand and Amager are the islands on which it sits.

But Copenhagen bestrides its islands and merges naturally with them.

With The Sound a watery playground for its citizens.

All of which I’m regularly reminded of by my old Uni mucker who works in sustainability and is saving the planet while I just scribble about it.

And true to form as one of the one in two Copenhagers who cycle everywhere he rode up to meet us on our trip to the Danish capital.

Ride on

Wheely good: Astrid Rasmussen

Everywhere you go in Copenhagen you’re struck by the clean air and how fit its people are because of the exercise they all seem to be doing.

Don’t be surprised either to see the more bohemian types scaling industrial structures.

While the tourists among us let the rollercoasters at the Tivoli Gardens twirl us all around.

Now while everyone else seemed to turn on to cycling over the lockdown restrictions yours truly alas kept his bike in the garage.

Because riding around the country roads here in East Lothian in Scotland just gets you run off into the banks.

The Copenhagers would never stand for this, putting cyclists first, and even having bike-only bridges.

Fairytale city

Stretch out: Walking on air in Copenhagen

Now for most of us who only see Copenhagen and not its hinterland we miss the green, wooded areas around the city.

So our friends at Visit Copenhagen have been pointing is out of the city to its lush suburbs.

Copenhagen, we all know as the birthplace of the greatest fairyteller of them all, Hans Christian Andersen.

And once we get beyond his statue and out of the city we see other larger-than-life characters populating the island.


Grab a bike and go hunting for the six wooden giants lurking in the woods of the burbs.

The 31-kilometre long route will guide you through a wide variety of danish scenery and double as your workout for the day. 

We’re all mermaids

Looking up: Tivoli Gardens

Of course alongside Andersen, the Little Mermaid is Copenhagen’s most famous citizen.

She is a typical Copenhager after all with a love for the water, and the city’s harbour in particular.

With our great Danes recommending for us to go native and jump in its clean waters.

With the claim that it’s one of the only capitals in the world where the harbour is clean enough for a swim.

While if you prefer an outdoors public baths, and we are proud too here of our own beachside baths in North Berwick

Kayakity yak

Fun on the water: Kayaking

Then head for Islands Brygge between May 15 and September 15.

If you prefer not to get your feet wet then Kayak Republic offers tours of the city harbour and canals.

Where you’ll get close to the local houseboats and around colourful Christiania.

Of course if you really want to be sustainable then rent a Green Kayak.

The kayak is free to rent as long as you collect trash while sailing through the harbour and the canals.

Now that really is Wonderful Copenhagreen.

Pics by Astrid Maria Rasmussen, Thomas Dambo and Sarah Murty.


Countries, Sustainable Tourism

World Tourism Day is a trip

And obviously we hope on this day of days you’ll be reading this in some foreign clime… yes, World Tourism Day is a trip.

Apart from the fact that every day should be World Tourism Day.

We obviously fully endorse anything that shines a light on our industry.

Now we never underestimate the joy of travel and were reminded of its importance to the human condition during lockdown.

So to have the United Nations step up and designate a day to Travel when our own countries too often pass over it is a boon.

The one in ten


Travel is too easily seen as a frippery and those who work in it frivolous and their field trips mocked as freebies.

I’m almost too tired to bother justifying what we do on the grounds that we do this because we’re good at it.

And that there is a market for what we do.

Travel’s back

A hundred thousand welcomes: On the go again

But don’t just take my word for it. Well do, but the UN confirms that one in ten people across the globe works in tourism.

It is encouraging then to see that there has been a strong rebound in 2022 with almost 250 million international arrivals recorded.

And that means that the sector has recovered almost half (46 per cent) of pre-pandemic levels.

And this means that our holiday providers are able to pitch our vacations at lower prices.

All of which I’ll find our more of when the world comes together in person for the first time since Covid at the World Travel Market in London.

Of course the world of travel didn’t stop during lockdown just because we couldn’t travel.

Bergamo leads way

With Matteo in Bergamo Alto

Although some of us did mask up to probe how Covid got into Europe with Omio in Bergamo in the north of Italy.

And how those heroic Bergamaschi endured that shockwave with forbearance and their recovery plan which is now yielding benefits.

We are glad to see that Asia where Covid broke out is reopening too.

And it is poignant that Japan should lift its restrictions on the eve of the Cherry Blossom fall… there’s hope in the air.

The Glasgow Declaration

But what can we do to improve our holiday experience both for ourselves and others from our corner of the world.

Well Scotland’s Second City might not jump out as the starting point.

But the Glasgow Declaration which came out of COP26 the commitment to accelerate climate action in tourism.

And to secure strong commitments to support the global goals to halve emissions over the next decade.

And to reach Net Zero emissions as soon as possible before 2050.

With 450 organisations having become signatories of this declaration.

And this Glaswegian is right behind that and this designated UN day.

Yes, World Tourism Day is a trip… so today let’s all be day trippers.


Asia, Countries, Deals, Europe, Sustainable Tourism

Wish you were hair in Istanbul

Stitched up and ready to go they looked like Frankenstein’s monster to me but hey, no pain, no gain… and I imagined they were sending back postcards with Wish you were hair in Istanbul.

Yes, Istanbul as well as being ahead of the curve in much else is also the epicentre for hair restoration.

And so armed with that information you won’t be staring, like someone I could mention.

Hair isn’t the only thing that they’re restoring in Istanbul though with the Stay Hotel chain leading the way in recycling.

Gone today, hair tomorrow: A full head again

Stay’s new hotel, Nisantasi, is now open for bookings in the heart of the city’s refined fashion and cultural district.

The 82-room property is housed in the heart of Nisantasi, a fashion hub in the old town.

So while the men are looking after the threads on their heads your womenfolk can hit the designer boutiques.

From Louis Vuitton to Chanel and Hermes, as well as local designers such as Begum Khan.

And true to The Stay Hotels’ sustainability pledge, they recently launched an eco-friendly fashion label, The Stay Line.

And guests can buy at the hotel’s dedicated retail space, the Stay Line Corner.

A stitch in time

Head start: For your new scalp

The Stay have clearly factored in the hirsuitically challenged tourists as they map out their specs.

The hotel boasts a vegan leather headboards graced with European Down and Feather Association-certified pillows, which will soothe the back of the head.

The recycling extends to room key cards and menus.

And they are brimming with local produce including vegan and vegetarian dishes accompanied by Turkish wines.

They’re really on this… evidenced by being awarded carbon-neutral status by sustainability specialist Bureau Veritas.

And they plan to be zero waste by the end of the year.

When in Istanbul

Art for arts sake: At The Stay Hotel

And when in Istanbul you’ll walk your curvy slipper shoes off (you know the ones you buy at the Grand Bazaar).

If only the Turks specialised in massage… wham, bam thank you hamam.

Stay have a spa and wellness floor opening in the autumn.

There’s a dip in the indoor pool, a Pilates session or an authentic Turkish hamam.

While If the gym is your thang, you can work out in the sleek fitness suite or book a personal trainer.

Wellness experiences include indulgent couples’ massages in a dedicated treatment room.

While here’s something which will be well up the Scary One’s street and take the edge off… a zen garden.

Mezze around by the Bosphorus

With Onur in Istanbul

And Istanbul, the crossroads of East and West clearly has more Turkish delights than the sticky square sweets with icing sugar.

And so the ground-floor Saint Pâtissier patisserie will offer guests French fancies, freshly baked bread, and Turkish treats.

From the autumn, foodies will flock to the entertaining Italian rooftop restaurant, Marcello E Matteo.

You’ll dine on the signature focaccia di recco al formaggio or sip well-crafted cocktails as the chefs break into an operetta.

The Stay Hotels will also reveal a curated art collection hung in rooms and public spaces.

And that includes an AI video-mapping installation by the world-renowned duo OUCHHH. Mmmmm!

The icing on the cake for lovers of culture, will be a bookshop while fresh flowers will be on sale at Misk flower shop.

And lots there then for all tourists to put on their postcards… Wish you were hair in Istanbul with double rooms coming in from £200 per night B&B, with flexible booking terms.







Countries, Europe, Sustainable Tourism, UK

150 years of swish Switzrailand

And as Britain’s trains career off the tracks with mortgage-price fares and looming strikes here’s where they do it properly… 150 years of swish Switzrailand.

1847 was when the first Swiss train route, the Swiss Northern Railway, opened between Zurich and Baden, and nicknamed the Spanisch Brotli Bahn.

Because previously gentry’s servants had to set out from Baden at midnight on foot with Spanish buns.

Bun ride

Poster boys: For the railways

The buns are a light, flaky pastry filled with a mix of roasted, crushed hazelnuts and apricot jam.

And they were apparently derived from those made in Spanish-ruled Milan during the 17th century.

Bun fight: For the Spanish buns

The new line took just 45 minutes to traverse the 20km route, just a little more than it takes me to get from North Berwick to Edinburgh.

And this is more challenging Swiss terrain and 150 years ago.

I know Swiss trains from my ride in the country from Interlaken.

And observed that they’re priced at the wherewithal of you and me with the Swiss Pass and not the gentry.

Even the ones, the unique ones, that scale the Eiger… the tallest railway ride in Europe, the Jungfraujoch.

Swiss funday and fondue

Only one Ondine: Ondine restaurant in Edinburgh

All of which reminisces we shared as we reconnected with our Swiss amis in the en vogue Ondine restaurant in Edinburgh.

Take the two-hour Luzern-Interlaken Express whose rails we rode taking in five crystal-clear mountain lakes.

Only way is up: On the Jungfraujoch

And for those of you of the trainspotter penchant (that’s my father-in-law Casey Jones) then here’s the science…

Shortly before starting its steep, winding ascent to Brünig Pass.

And there the train changes to cogwheel drivetrain technology in order to conquer the gradient.

On the right track

Swiss misses: With Fran, Myriam… and Bobby

Trains, in truth, are a joy in many countries across Europe and as easy as American pie on Amtrak in the States.

Fat as a lord and lubricated with the best white Swiss wine and brimming with the latest Swiss advances we went out into the daylight.

And paid homage to Edinburgh’s most famous son, Freeman of the City of Edinburgh Greyfriars Bobby.

Before thinking about catching the train to North Berwick… I’m just back!

Not a worry they’ve ever had in 150 years of swish Switzrailand.






Asia, Countries, Sustainable Tourism

Turtles within touching distance

They’ve been flirting with me the heroes in the half shell but here’s a tail (sorry) of turtles within touching distance from my old Maldives stomping ground.

And when I say stomping I mean when I got pooped off the shore of Kandolhu and had to stand for a breather.
Noooooo! It’ll cut your feet but worse than that, it’ll kill the coral.
My snorkelling skills have improved since then until I got within touching distance of the turtles off Bridgetown, Barbados, last week.

Turtle fans: In the Maldives

They’d surely be proud of me out in the Maldives.

And perhaps with a little work off my homestead in North Berwick, Scotland, I could get on a very important expedition.

What the doctor ordered.

Dr Stephanie Kohnk is the lead scientist for the Olive Ridley Project and author of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Maldives National Red List Assessment on the Hawksbill Sea Turtle,

And she is heading up a pioneering genetic research expedition to study the local Maldivian hawksbill sea turtle population.

Shadow snorkelling

Jump on board: Close and personal

Guests at Patina Maldives, Fari Islands, can shadow the Doc on a unique snorkelling expedition.

They will be given a morning guided tour of the research vessel.

And they will reveal the painstaking planning and specialist equipment involved in frontline marine biological research.

Guests will get in on the first stage of the expedition on a turtle snorkelling trip led by Dr Köhnk.

Adopt a turtle

Goggles on: And hit the sea

And to further support this pioneering research and conservation initiative they can adopt turtles included in the study.

Adoptees will be able to name their turtle.

And they will receive future re-sighting alerts.

And enjoy priority access to updates and insights from the project.

As part of the joint venture ‘Oceans First’ ethos from 1 June, a sea turtle biologist will be stationed on-island at Patina Maldives.

They will act as a guest educator; overseeing rescue efforts for any sea turtles that become entangled in so-called ghost gear in the area.

And they will support ongoing photo identification and population monitoring in North Male Atoll.

It is only home to the second largest turtle database in the country.

I ain’t afraid of no ghosts

I recognise them: Patina

The Patina Maldives team, along with its Fari Islands neighbours, also contributes to the ongoing removal of ghost gear from the ocean.

And that provides Olive Ridley Project with valuable data.

That can be used to trace the origins of discarded or abandoned fishing equipment.

And also help tackle the problem at source.

Because we all need our heroes in a half shell under the sea, our turtles within touching distance.

Countries, Europe, Sustainable Tourism

When I was a Tuscan farmer

The Italians parlano le mani (speak with the hands) and there was a lot of that when I was a Tuscan farmer.

And you can be one too with the nature-immersive wilderness Oasyhotel in San Marcello Piteglio.

If it had passed you by, my Italian farming background, let me refresh your memories.

When I tilled the land… at sea.

On board the billion dollar Celebrity Edge… and its sister brand Royal Caribbean which has been showing off the biggest ship Wonder of the Seas.

Farm to fork

Le Petit Chef is the conceptual experience where the diner sees their meal made from farm to fork in a film played out on your mat.

And ecco, there’s your Italian before you ready to eat.

OK I didn’t get my hands dirty but here in Oasyhotel you can become a farmer for a day on the Oasi Dynamo Farm.

Say cheese

The big cheese: And do some damage with the fromage

The farm is home to all God’s agricultural creatures as well as a wide variety of fruits, grains, and vegetables.

You’ll get an interactive farm tour and even learn how to make your own cheese for lunch.

Mangiamo (let’s eat)

Eat to the beat: Gentle living

In both of its restaurants (Le Felci and Casa Luigi), the team aim to provide the freshest and healthiest local Tuscan produce.

With the majority of ingredients being grown on the Oasi Dynamo farm itself.

Or otherwise being sourced within one kilometre from its doors.

Room at the lodge

Tranquil: The lodges

Oasyhotel offers 16 lodges on within the WWF-protected Oasi Dynamo reserve.

The 1,000+ hectares of land consists of undisturbed forest, farmland, lakes and rivers.

Nestled between Lucca, Pistoia, Florence and Bologna; Oasyhotel is easily accessible from these key Italian cities by road.

With those multiple servings of Italian food you’ll need some activity to work it off.

Stretch those legs

Causing ripples: But only on the private lake

And that’s where those great hiking and biking trails come in.

With complimentary electric-bikes included in all guest stays.

And among the guided seasonal activities are wildlife walks, wolf tracking (turn up, find out) orienteering and horse riding (I’m a natural).

Then there’s foraging, Nordic wellness walking, forest therapy, and meditation and yoga.

Oasyhotel is also home to its own beautiful private lake which can be used for wild-swimming, kayaking and paddle-boarding.

And there are three private spa lodges.

What’s the deal?

Anyone got a story: Campside living

This dream resort is open seasonally from April 14 until October 31 for its first season in 2022.

Stays start from €560 (approx. £472) per lodge per night on a bed and breakfast basis.

They include minibar access, e-bike usage, access to private lake and watersports and valet parking.

And they indulge all your creature comforts.

With the Eco-Lodge Double (with one double-bed and space for a small third-bed).

And Eco-Lodge Family (with four large bunkbeds in two separate bedrooms, and two bathrooms).

Maybe that’s more authentic then and I won’t have to bluff When I was a Tuscan Farmer.