Something To Declare: A villa holiday; roads of France; flights in the autumn
Saturday 19 August 2006
Destination of the week: a villa holiday
Shrug off the stress and uncertainty of foreign travel - head for West Sussex to see two of the finest examples of Roman villas in Britain. Historians use the term "villa" to describe a Roman country house or substantial farm complex. By the 3rd century AD, some villas in Britain had become as grand as their counterparts in Italy, with lavishly decorated marble and mosaic floors. Their occupants, who were well-off Roman or Romano-British families, had adopted Roman standards of living, with bath houses, gardens and underfloor heating systems.
Bignor (01798 869259; www.pyrrha.demon.co.uk; open daily 10am-6pm; admission £4.35), on the northern edge of the South Downs near Petworth, is thought to have been surrounded by a 2,000-acre estate. There is a series of beautiful pavement mosaics: one, with geometric patterns, is the longest in Britain.
A half-hour drive away near Chichester is Fishbourne (01243 875859; www.sussexpast.co.uk/fishbourne; open daily 10am-6pm; £6.50). Discovered as recently as 1960, it was more a palace than a villa, with over 100 rooms, a colonnaded courtyard, formal garden and even a private harbour.
Highlights include stunning mosaics and the recreated garden (including a Roman potting shed with horticultural tools).
By Fred Mawer
Warning of the week: roads of France
Next weekend will see the autoroutes through France exceptionally busy; the usual end-of-August return of Parisians from the south to the capital will be amplified by British visitors heading for the Channel ports.
The French authorities have got prediction down to a fine art: if your command of the language is adequate, look at www.bison-fute.equipement.gouv.fr. And even if you can't read French, seek out the "Prévisions de trafic" menu from which you can click on "Calendrier Bison Futé". This calendar uses a colour-coding system to predict traffic levels: green for "normal" to black for "exceptionally busy".
Bargain of the week: flights in the autumn
The financial traumas suffered by many British airlines over the past nine days are still reverberating. The big problem now is to encourage people to book for next month, when the school holidays are over and planes look worryingly empty.
All the low-cost operators are likely to have short-term seat sales. Expect particular bargains on shorter routes, where road or rail presents a viable alternative to flying. And watch out for a "fire-sale" by British Airways for millions of seats this winter.
As always, November will be excellent in terms of low fares and plenty of availability.
By Simon Calder
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 4 Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting
- 5 Man hospitalised with pneumonia after downing eggnog at office Christmas party
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...
£240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...
£27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...