The Column That Gives The Global Picture

Destination of the week: Lapland

There may be 158 travelling days to Christmas, but you should book by the end of July for a discount on a Santa Claus holiday with Norvista (020-7409 7334, The price of a two-day tour from Gatwick to the northernmost destination, Ivalo, falls by £50 to £1,195 for a parent and child.

If you prefer to visit Lapland in summer, Finnair (0870 241 4411, has an August fare of £311 return from London via Helsinki to Rovaniemi, astride the Arctic Circle and home to Santa Claus's post office.

Warning of the week: red tide

in Canada

Paralytic shellfish poisoning could take the edge off your holiday, so go easy on the seafood when in eastern Canada. According to the travel medicine specialist MASTA (09068 224100,, the medical authorities are reporting an upsurge in red algae in seawater off Halifax, Nova Scotia. When fish and shellfish eat the algae, toxins become concentrated – and if you eat them, you can become paralysed. So you may prefer to choose chicken ahead of fish – or go for a vegetarian option.

Bargain of the week: joy-flights in the Outer Hebrides

Flying around the Western Isles is usually alarmingly expensive, but in summer there are cut-price alternatives. Before the end of August, Highland Airways (01667 464141, will fly you from Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis to Benbecula for £60 return, exactly half the normal fare.

Better still, British Airways will fly you there from the world's strangest airport, Barra, for £30 return. The Twin Otter takes off and lands on the beach at Barra. For this deal, book at the departure "airport" on the day – advance reservations are not allowed. Or pay £44 return for a longer stay.