Why I Love: Captivating Crimea

Patrick Mercer OBE, politician
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The Independent Travel

The Crimea: anyone who has heard of the war we fought there with the Russians in 1854 will have a mental picture of cold, brutality, pestilence and incompetence. While that may be true of the war, it is not, I can assure you, true of the place.

It's simply glorious. With a sub-tropical climate and architecture that would rival Paris, towns such as Sevastopol and Balaklava are surrounded by the sparkling Black Sea, rolling hills and some of the best vineyards in the world. But that's just the countryside: the history leaps out at you. In a society where little English is spoken, you can find monuments and memorials to British heroes whose names read like something out of Debrett's. I think I was the first Briton to see the battlefields since Winston Churchill did in 1945. Visit the place and you, too, will be entranced.

To Do and Die, by the former soldier and BBC defence correspondent Patrick Mercer MP (HarperCollins, £14.99), is out tomorrow