How to (not) shoot a polar bear

Coming ashore

‘Hello bear, here we are. How ya doin?’

Our lead guide was talking to an enormous white bear which had appeared 20 metres in front of us. It stood straight up on its hind legs, a dazzling tower of power. It blinked.  It focused. It tried to make sense of this huddle of hyperventilating polar bear spotters fumbling with our cameras.

But I was not afraid – and not because there were eight other tasty morsels, including my children, between the bear and me. Continue reading

Tears and pears in the French Alps

Madame, vous aller pleurer d’émotion.” [Madame, you are going to weep from emotion.]

The Monsieur paused for dramatic effect then presented a tiny cup of amour de poire, a delicate pear wine produced high up in the French Alps, a cork’s throw from the Italian border.

I knew it was a good idea to step into this curious little shop.

“You’ll get stuck in there,” Sabbatical Man had warned, eyeing the many signs at the door that suggested an eccentricity of proprietorship and eclecticism of wares that would make a quick browse impossible. Continue reading

Surprising Switzerland

Allmendhubel

“Why the bloody hell do they build these monstrosities?” the cross English woman shouted at her terrified little husband. “Why? It’s just so bloody awful!”

She was glaring at a sparkling new adventure playground in the final stages of construction high up the side of a Swiss mountain.

The husband nodded sadly and watched his wife pull her hat down over her ears, stretch her waistband high up under her bosom and storm off to start the bloody nature walk she had bloody come here for.

Meanwhile the five of us, absentmindedly wiping her spittle from our faces, were spellbound.

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The truth about travelling with kids

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Every now and then travellers are rewarded with a moment of sublime timing.

Ours came at the end of a lovely day exploring The Camargue wildlife reserve, spotting flamingoes, wild horses, beavers and thousands of water birds. We were planning to top off the day with a late afternoon ice cream at a sleepy seaside village nearby.

But Saintes Maries de la Mer was not asleep.

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