Brochures of the week

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The Independent Travel
FOR THE benefit of people who can't stand the thought of an idle holiday, I have dug out a couple of brochures which will ensure that you come home a considerably better person than when you went away.

Into the arts? Then look no further than Travel For the Arts, whose brochure contains a series of holidays built round various European art festivals. The Royal Swedish Ballet Gala in June? The Munich opera festival in July? The Salzburg festival in August? Terms such as the "discerning visitor" spring to mind for this stuff.

Don't expect garish colour photographs of happy holiday-makers in the brochure. Instead we have a lot of text, embroidered by Baroque-style engravings in gilt leaf. The only jarring note comes from the odd Hello- style capital letters in the introductions which have the effect of turning them into pompous announcements.

If your thing is nature, get hold of the Naturetrek brochure, which once again does not deign to reproduce photographs - here the illustrations are pencil drawings with captions such as Resplendent Quetzal (to be spotted in Costa Rica), or Coelogyne Corymbosa (of Bhutan's Bumthang Valley). These are among the worthiest holidays I have ever seen: almost 90 pages of them, from bird-spotting in Arunachal Pradesh to Cetaecean-spotting in the sub-antarctic islands of New Zealand.

I am slightly dubious as to their chances of winning over people who are not already nature-nuts though. Some of the prices are in the thousands of pounds. Measure your interest by reading sentences such as the following: "an excellent range of waterbirds may feature Wattled Crane and Pel's Fishing Owl if we are lucky". If your pulse is not already racing at the thought, you may wonder at what kind of company you might be letting yourself in for.

Naturetrek, Tel: 01962 733051

Travel for the Arts, Tel: 0171 483 4466

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