Q & A: The Independent Parents answers your questions

A date with Yeats


Q. My wife and I are planning to visit relatives in Dublin in October and, being great fans of Irish writers, particularly Yeats, would love to combine our trip with some literary sight-seeing. Can you advise us where to go?

Q. My wife and I are planning to visit relatives in Dublin in October and, being great fans of Irish writers, particularly Yeats, would love to combine our trip with some literary sight-seeing. Can you advise us where to go?

Brian Dawson Chester

A. You could start at the Dublin Writers' Museum, 18/19 Parnell Square, which is one of the city's top attractions. This restored Georgian home features the works of Samuel Beckett, Brendan Behan, George Bernard Shaw, Jonathan Swift and Oscar Wilde (tel: 00 353 1 872 2077). Next to the museum is the Irish Writers Centre, a meeting place for current writers, and at 35 North Great George Street is the James Joyce Centre.

For a more riotous experience, join a literary pub crawl which sets off from the Duke Pub, Duke Street (tel: 00 353 1 454 0228). This tour, led by two local actors, takes you to four or five pubs once frequented by famous writers.

Jonathan Swift thumped his tub as Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral (tel: 00 353 1 475 4817) in Patrick Street from 1713 to 1745. His pulpit is still on display. The cathedral, founded in 1191, is worth seeing in its own right, since it is the largest church in Ireland and probably the oldest Christian site.

As a Yeats lover, you may like to visit his memorial at St Stephen's Green at the south end of Grafton Street, and also Merrion Square where he lived in numbers 52 and 82.

The most rewarding trip you can make outside Dublin is to County Sligo. In Sligo Town, on Stephen Street, you'll find the Yeats Building (tel: 00 353 714 2693) which has an exhibition on the poet, and in the same street a famous statue with his poetry inscribed on it.

Q. I visited Ghana for the first time last year and had the most memorable trip. I want to go back soon, but my experience with anti-malarial tablets was disastrous - I was constipated for most of my trip. What's the alternative?

P Smit London

A: This is a common question from travellers to Africa.

The basis of taking all medication is this: do the benefits of taking the tablets outweigh the side-effects of the tablets? If the answer to that is "yes", then we suggest you take the treatment.

Malaria in West Africa is common and can often be deadly. There are four strains worldwide, one of which, falciparum malaria, exists where you are going. This strain can kill you quickly after contracting it. So we think that the tablets are worth taking.

But you must also do all you can to stop the mosquitoes from biting you; this is where homeopathic alternatives come in. Doctors normally recommend Deet which is sprayed on the skin. Alternatives, or additions, are vitamin B12 tablets and garlic capsules. These seem to make the skin less tasty. To prevent bites also wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers and avoid stagnant water at dusk. Always use a mosquito net.

You may have got constipation from the chloroquine/paludrine. However, a new tablet called malarone is available that seems to be well tolerated by travellers. It is not yet available on the NHS but we can prescribe it privately.

Dr Jules Eden runs www.e-med.co.uk, the online GP consultation service, which can advise, diagnose and treat travellers at home or abroad. For further information, please call 020-7350 2079 or email doctor@e-med.co.uk

Q. Are there budget hotel chains in Italy or, if not, can you recommend any other places?

Steve Goodwin via email

A: The hotel chains in Italy are mostly above budget standard. Best Western Hotels (tel: 0800 393130) offers nationwide mid-range hotels; Jolly Hotels (tel: 0800 7310470) offers four-star accommodation.

One of the pleasures of Italian travel is staying in characterful independent hotels. Logis D'Italia is an umbrella organisation for about 100 independent small good-value hotels (tel: 00 39 06 446 4399). Or try www.italyhotels.it - run by the Federalberghi.

Italy also has many superb youth hostels , costingfrom £15 per night including breakfast. It is advisable to book in advance. Joining the Youth Hostelling Association costs £12 per annum (tel: 01727 845047 or visit www.yha.org.uk). Members can use the International Booking Network (tel: 01629 581418), the umbrella organisation Hostelling International (www.iyhf.org) or AIG, Associazione Italiana per la Gioventu, in Italy (tel: 00 39 06 487 1152; www.hostels-aig.org).

You could try the Case Religione di Ospitalita; religious institutions that let out rooms. These can be located through local tourist offices.

Phil Haines, the youngest person to have visited every country in the world, runs a travel company, Live Limited (tel: 020-8737 3725; email: phil.haines@live-travel.com), which "specialises in travel to special places".

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