Strawberry and white port trifle

Serves 4

24-Hour Room Service: Aquapura, Douro Valley, Portugal

Northern Portugal's Douro region might be most widely acclaimed for its luscious port wine, but this is not the only thing that visitors to the area will want to soak up. Drive inland from the city of Porto, tracing the river Douro upstream, and upon entering the Unesco-listed Alto Douro region, the landscape really begins to take your breath away.

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Pesto, piazzas and palaces are among the highlights of Italy's principal port. And spring is the best time to enjoy them in splendid isolation, says Harriet O'Brien

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The historic Portuguese city of Porto, situated on the mouth of the river Douro, is famous for the most renowned export of the area, its port wine, which courses through its veins.

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Wing Cdr Patrick Gibbs: Air ace and journalist

"Dammit, man, we usually do this sort of thing on the grass," said the Wing Commander to Patrick Gibbs when he crash-landed his Beaufort torpedo bomber, heavily damaged after attacking the Italian battleship Littorio, and temporarily blocked the much-needed runway at Malta. It was June 1942 and the island was the key to the Mediterranean war theatre, controlling the flow of supplies to both sides. The heroic defence of Malta was dependent on the fighters who warded off the Axis bombers, and the Beauforts that attacked their supply ships. Patrick Gibbs was an outstandingly brave commander of the latter, with a shrewd grasp of both their tactical deployment and strategic importance.

Wine: Sweet sensations

Is wine and chocolate too much of a good thing? A friend who attended a chocolate and wine tasting recently found each match, to her dismay, worse than the preceding one. The problem is that chocolate, especially milk chocolate, which is both sweet and fatty, tends to strip wine of its natural fruit flavours, making it taste thin, lean and sour. Even a classic sweet wine like Sauternes can suffer under the assault of chocolate's lingering, mouth-coating sweetness. Can two such polar opposites ever attract? The answer is that they can, but only the most dedicated of chocaholics would put red wines and chocolate together.

24-Hour Room Service: Château La Chenevière Normandy

Heading up the tree-lined gravel driveway to La Chenevière, my first impression is of a very elegant and very formal French chateau hotel. But while this four-star property falls into both categories with poise, it certainly isn't formal to the point of being stuffy.

Seaside showdown: Britain’s most fought-over coasts

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Naples, Italy

Now's the time to visit this vibrant Italian city: the streets are finally litter-free, the sun is shining – and the other tourists haven't yet arrived, says Harriet O'Brien

Wine: Girl power

Those for whom every day is Valentine's Day may be interested in a new range of wines aimed at women developed by a French wine merchant. WineSight has selected about 30 French wines under the label Sublimelle, "parce que la femme est Sublimelle". It boasts "no need for images of lingerie", so the fact that a French lingerie label of the same name adorns such fine brands as Forplay (sic) and Leg Avenue, is presumably a coincidence. Selected by a man, Frédéric Auriol, the range (available at www.chateauselect. co.uk) offers wines for a variety of occasions, "whether it is a girls' night out, an individual tasting, a romantic dinner, after love-making, or a business success".

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Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
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English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

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