A likely story
"The cake will be delivered within 14 days" - Royal Mail promotion.

We like to keep our contributors sweet, especially those of the calibre of Harriet O'Brien (whose story on Cornwall appears on page nine). We also need to watch the budget. So the Royal Mail Send-a-Cake promotion, back in October, presented an ideal solution.

All you had to do was to collect a few first-class stamps and send a voucher to an address in Cambridge. You could have a personalised message added. With Ms O'Brien's birthday impending on 25 October, the timing was ideal. "Happy birthday and many happy returns," we wrote, and with the self-satisfaction of the prescient, looked forward to another satisfied contributor.

The cake arrived on Monday of this week, over six weeks late. If the Royal Mail had shown the nous to change the message to "Merry Christmas" we could have forgiven the organisation.

Except for one thing.

Look at the width of this column, then imagine a square cake of that dimension. That is the exact size of the bite-sized confection. Ms O'Brien was amused, but not nourished.

A likely story

Bargain of the week

After Christmas and New Year, there is always a slump in demand for leisure air travel. In anticipation, Air UK (0345 666777) has brought out a range of cheap fares, both one-way and return, for travel from 6 January to 15 March. The best deals are between London and Aberdeen or Inverness (pounds 40 one way, pounds 75 return, including tax) and from Stansted to Florence and back (pounds 54 single, pounds 108.60 return). You must book 14 days in advance, but note that the usual "Saturday night stay" rule does not apply - making these handy for business travellers, too.

Next Saturday in The Long Weekend

Winter tales: the poet Brian Patten paints a picture of midwinter Krakw in a thousand words.

Plus: sing-your-way-around-the-world - how many naff travel-related Christmas tunes can you identify?

Visitors' book

Posada Mirador, Chihuahua-Pacifico Railway, Mexico.

Awsome [sic]. Thrilling. Thanks so v much. Keith Thomson and Martha Krupp, Tucson, Arizona.

Wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful place. Mary and Earl Morris, Portland, Oregon.

Vista Magnifico. Nydia and John Gletne, Tahoe City, Ca.

Too romantic for someone so alone. Alona Guerra, San Antonio, Texas.

Es simplemente un lugar maravilloso. Betty Aguilar, Arocha, Nueva Rosita, Coahuila.