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News & Advice

Open Jaw - Where readers write back

Ski heaven

I hear Simon Calder paid nearly £800 for a one-week ski holiday. This sort of figure would put overseas skiing out of our price range, particularly now the pound is at near parity with the euro. We took a Ryanair flight from Edinburgh to Turin (£212 for the two of us, including checking in our ski boots, with as much as we could pack into our cabin bags). The bus into town, and train to the resort of Bardonecchia cost €44 in total, and we found self-catering accommodation for €294 for a week. Add €150 for ski rental, and the total was £644 for two. It was our best ski holiday ever! Peter Kellett

Fawlty Towers of the Alps

As a guest in the hotel that week [Le Viking, in Morzine], I cannot argue with any of Simon Calder's comments. It was a bit Fawlty Tower-ish, and I had to sit through the whole DJ-led, deafening outdoor party which I totally agree was not suitable. However, as someone who got to see more of the hotel than most, having injured my knee on day one, I would say the staff were an absolute delight and could not do enough for you. I booked the day before we went so I got a very good deal. "Openside"

As one of the three DJs playing at the party, I'd just like to eliminate myself as the player of any explicit music. I purposely chose family-friendly, feelgood tunes to create an atmosphere of end-of-season fun. On the whole, there was a wonderful atmosphere all afternoon. It was a shame it took a turn for the worse at the end. Dan

Knoydart – the final frontier?

Further to coverage in The Independent of this fascinating peninsula, the paddle-steamer Waverley (the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world; 0845 130 4647 or waverleyexcursions.co.uk) will be making a one-off public sailing from Oban to Inverie next Saturday 2 May, with calls at Tobermory (Mull) and Armadale (Skye) in both directions. Sadly the time allowed ashore at Inverie is only 30 minutes – so not everyone will have time for a drink at the Old Forge! - Dick Clague

For anyone who can drag themselves away from the pub in Inverie try to visit Tom McLean who has an outdoor centre on the south side of Loch Nevis. Just around from there is the hamlet of Tarbet. Visit the hostel and meet up with Frank, another character. - Bob Andrews

Sprouting Brussels

Adrian Mourby is clearly not a "plants person". His description of visiting the Belgian Royal Greenhouses at Laeken (pictured) hardly mentions the delights growing inside. This should be rectified or your readers will miss one of the real delights of Brussels. The variety of plants is stunning: colours, shapes, scents, low and high, up the walls and across the ceilings as well as in beds and containers, with differences in temperature, humidity and light provided in separate sections to create specialised growing conditions. Breathtaking would be an appropriate description; inspiring to photographer, embroiderer and gardener. - Dr Jane Howells

The age of the train?

You have written a lot about travelling by train as opposed to air recently. I thought you might be interested in one couple's experience of rail travel to Nice and back.

The first-class sleeper Paris to Nice, Le Train Bleu, sounded great. We knew it wouldn't be the Orient Express but expected more than basic couchette with a small bottle of water provided – and no other refreshments; no breakfast, nor even coffee available.

The return trip by TGV was excellent, a super-smooth ride. However, the refreshments were inadequate. There was nowhere to sit and eat – I don't count perch stools. The sandwich, listed as a club sandwich, was a poor ham and cheese. Furthermore, there was no wine – incroyable! We will certainly fly or drive next time. - Brenda Green