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The Independent Culture
A boat

Richard Branson's latest shipping venture aims to scupper the new Heathrow Express. On Monday, the Virgin Atlantic boss launched the LimoBoat, a new river and road link between Heathrow and the City of London. Upper Class passengers are taken by boat from St Katherine's Dock in the City to Kew, where a limousine operates the eight miles onwards to the airport. Total journey time to Terminal Three is around one hour, less than the journey by Tube but rather longer than the Heathrow Express. Virgin reservations: 01293 747747.

A plane

If you demand dinner in London, followed by dinner over the Atlantic at 60,000ft, followed by dinner in New York, then you've missed your chance for five weeks. Yesterday's Concorde was the last evening departure until the double-daily service resumes on 4 September. British Airways (0345 222111) offers just a single morning departure in each direction; from New York, the inbound afternoon flight is also being withdrawn temporarily.

A train

The West Coast Railway Company (no relation at all to Virgin West Coast) begins its full six-day-a-week this week steam-hauled service between Fort William and Mallaig. Daily except Saturdays, the three-and-a-half hour run takes you past several British superlatives: the shortest river, the most westerly railway station, and the highest mountain. A day return on "The Jacobite" costs pounds 28.90 in first class, pounds 19.25 in standard; call 01397 703791.

A room

As the French capital closes down for August, the city-break bargains have begun to appear, Paris Travel Service (01992 456 014) is offering a one-star room for one night for pounds 99 per person, based on two travelling together. This includes flights on Air France from London Heathrow; departures from Manchester or Birmingham are available at pounds 10 more. Additional nights cost as little as pounds 20 per person.

A meal

To find out where Fray Bentos comes from, take advantage of excellent low-cost fares from London via Madrid to Montevideo in Uruguay, where you will find the town that gave corned beef its brand name. Aerolineas Argentinas is offering this for pounds 606 return. For pounds 10 more, you could go to Santiago or Buenos Aires. The fares are available through Journey Latin America (0181-747 3108).

A drink

"Now, it's not very nice to take the mickey out of other people's names, but there is such a thing as asking for it." In the section on soft drinks in his new Guide to Ghana (Bradt Publications, pounds 11.95),

Philip Briggs continues: "Ask for it, I'm afraid, is exactly what Mr Pee did when he started up a soft-drink factory and decided to name the product after himself - Pee Cola, indeed." Instead, Mr Briggs recommends the Cocktail des Fruits, sold in the Togolese border area.

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