Dom Joly: Pop on a kilt, and you will always blend in

Last stop on my Tintin tour of the country. We landed on the beach in Barra in a twin-prop plane. It's an exhilarating ride and apparently the only scheduled flight in the world that uses such a landing strip. The tiny airport building was buzzing with activity for the only plane of the day and we were given a wonderful welcome. This must have been what travel was like before we all had to have our underwear scanned. Mind you, it wasn't long before I was standing in front of complete strangers in my pants. Like Tintin, I had changed into a kilt on the plane to "blend in". It soon became clear, however, that I had not put it on correctly. Two smiling ladies in high-visibility jackets who had greeted us at the door to the airport, beckoned me into an office. There I was told in no uncertain terms to take my kilt and sporran off. As I stood in my pants, the kind ladies put my kilt back on correctly. "Welcome to Barra," they laughed hysterically. I loved this island already.

Pandora: Kilfoyle: I gave Geoff his 'Buff Hoon' nickname

For years it has tormented him and delighted opponents. With Geoff Hoon back in the spotlight, so his unflattering nickname, "Buff Hoon", has once again sprung to the fore. And now, it appears the origin of the former cabinet minister's moniker has been found.

The Sketch: One well-timed retort and Gordon's back in the game

Ah bwaah bah habbab. Hang on, start again. Bwwhaaabwabab darrbba bubbua.

Win the ultimate whisky lovers prize

The wonderful World of Whiskies

Urinating student avoids prison

A student who was warned that he might be sent to prison for urinating on a war memorial was instead given community service yesterday.

Everyday Drinking, By Kingsley Amis

Alcohol is customarily a pastime for writers rather than a topic, but Kingsley Amis wrote three jolly books on the subject. Gathered in this volume, his bluff musings ("Vintages – aargh! Most of the crap talked about wine centres on these") made the New York Times bestseller list.

Album: Tim Easton, Porcupine (New West)

There's a rough-hewn, rootsy charm to Mojave Desert-based singer-songwriter Tim Easton's latest album, recorded in Nashville with a band that pairs his former Ohio punk buddies' rhythm section of drummer Sam Brown and bassist Matt Surgeson with multi-talented guitarist Kenny Vaughan, from Marty Stuart's band.

Observations: Seasick Steve: Stranded by modern life

Steve Wold, the American bluesman better known as Seasick Steve, is dressed in his usual garb of check shirt and trucker's cap. The title of his recently released fourth album, Man From Another Time, neatly sums up Wold's current musical status, and goes some way towards explaining his success.

Win a hipflask and whiskies from The Balvenie

Enjoy the traditional Christmas spirit

Book Of A Lifetime: Journal of a Novel, By John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck's Journal of a Novel is a book I've kept on every desk I've written at for the past 10 years. I've rarely opened it when I'm not working on a book, and never when I'm writing well. But on those days when the engine room of a first draft feels claustrophobic or static, when the words have turned brittle and the whole endeavour seems either pointless or ridiculous, that's when I'll reach again for this idiosyncratic one-sided correspondence which comes together to form a rare map of a literary mind at the point of creation.

Drunk social worker offered detox patient a double whisky

A social worker who offered to buy a double whisky in a pub for a client he had helped through detox was struck off today.

Still brewing in a dry land: Pakistan's only beer and whisky firm

After 150 years, business is booming at Pakistan's only beer and whisky firm. Andrew Buncombe finds out why

Making lunch for a legend: John Walsh meets Albert Roux

It was an offer no foodie could refuse – to cook in the kitchen of Albert Roux. Could John Walsh's bavette steak pass muster with this titan of haute cuisine?

The Harwood Arms, Walham Grove, London SW6

I think gastropubs tend to be best when they remember to be pubs as well as gastro, and don't forget they're also supposed to be down-to-earth boozers as well as purveyors of chorizo and purple sprouting broccoli. But really, there are limits. Standing outside the Harwood Arms, you feel your heart sink. The pub is situated at the end of a dispiritingly bricky suburban street. As pubs go, you're surprised this one hasn't gone long ago: it's so tired-looking, so bored, so uninterested in having anyone come through its doors. There's nothing about it that shouts, or even murmurs, "Trendy eating-house!" The colour scheme is mostly a flat matt magenta, over which the dust of years seems to have settled. Can this be the joint recently voted London's best gastropub? Have we come to the wrong address? As for that awful colour ... "If I remember the Farrow & Ball paint swatch," said my date, Madeleine, "this is a darker version of their Dead Salmon ..."

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
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