If you want to book a holiday home in Cornwall or Devon, then you should take a look at Helpful Holidays' brochure (right). This firm (the idea is that they are helpful people, not that you go around being helpful on your holiday) has a brochure that's free of all the usual holidayspeak. Indeed a letter to all potential customers contains this great note, "Competitions: very disappointing number of entries for 1997's 'most unusual, strange, or exciting thing' you saw on holiday competition: not a single beast of Bodmin Moor, UFO, or even beer-drinking horse." The company is run by Euan and Su Bowater and their character is stamped on the whole operation. So before you look at the properties for hire, you are told that, "We don't have any hard and fast clipboard-ticking rules about which properties to take on... we simply take those on where we feel the character of owner, property and situation combine to make them pleasant."

The holiday lets in this brochure have been photographed so that you can see what they look like and where they are located, and for many there are shots of the pleasingly decorated interiors too. Great.

If you are after a highbrow break, then order a copy of the pocket-sized Ace Study Tours brochure. Here you'll find guided tours to Uzbekistan, Iran, Portugal and Norwich that cater for people interested in the arts, walking and nature. Illustrated with wonderful line drawings, and very easy to use, this brochure also has a few surprises. For example, in addition to trips to ancient Anatolia and the lost cities of the Maya, there's a brilliant tour of New York and the Hudson Valley, concluding with five days in Manhattan. It costs a mighty pounds 1,890 for your flights, accommodation, excursions and entrance fees.

Helpful Holidays, tel 01647 433593; Ace Study Tours, tel 01223 8350565.