The Foreign Office has issued a warning to any British men seeking an amorous encounter in Russia: "There are a number of services offering addresses and contact information about Russian women who are looking to become romantically engaged with Western Europeans."

Some of these are legitimate businesses, but a number of prospective suitors have entered into correspondence and have subsequently been defrauded.

"If this occurs," says the Foreign Office, "there is little that the British government can do to assist in the recovery of any capital outlay."

Destination of the week: West Africa

Traditionally, reaching most West African nations from the UK has involved unreliable or expensive flights - often both at once. But a Gatwick-based charter airline, Astraeus ( has built up a network of flights to Accra in Ghana, Malabo in Equatorial Guinea and Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone - which at the end of this month gets a third weekly flight.

Mauritania also gets an enhanced Air France link from Paris Charles de Gaulle to the capital city Nouakchott. Mauritania boasts 700km of mostly deserted shoreline, and is visited by hundreds of thousands of birds migrating from Europe.