THE MALDIVES is as good a place as any to go nuts - especially if the nuts in question are the coconut variety. OK, so coconut curries or coconut cakes are yum but, with its dark good looks and tough-on-the- outside, soft-on-the-inside (at the right stage of ripening) properties, this evocative and versatile product can be drunk, grated, cooked, carved or used for practically any other purpose. Best of all, though, the soft textured tones and natural durability of palm wood means that it can be shaped into sturdy household items.

Buy a coconut spoon in the Maldives (for around Rf20, or pounds 1 each) and you can use it to bring back fond memories of tropical holidays while you whip up anything from a fruity blancmange to a deadly bacardi back home. If you wait until you're back in the UK, a similar spoon from the General Trading Company (144 Sloane Street, London SW1X, 0171-730 0411) costs pounds 7.25. Buy up 200 in the Maldives, sell them at a suitable profit in the UK (about pounds 5.50 each) and you could even make enough to pay for the current pounds 764.30 return flight from London Heathrow to Male on Emirates through Trailfinders (0171-938 3366).