TRAVEL CLINIC

Your questions answered by our panel of travel experts, including a doctor and a lawyer
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The Independent Travel
I WANT TO GO ON A UK GARDENING HOLIDAY

I am interested in taking any British holiday which has something to do with gardens. As a keen horticulturalist, this is all I ask.

R Hammick

London

"Bed and Breakfast for Garden Lovers" is a very friendly and informative collection of 82 members who offer accommodation largely on a B&B basis (though some with dinner as well). The hosts are all gardening enthusiasts themselves, have interesting gardens of their own and will advise and direct their guests to places of interest locally.

The range varies from the 29 acre garden designed by Nesfield in. 1860 at Broxwood Court near Rembridge in Hereford with over half a mile long avenue of Deodars, Wellingtonias and Scots Pines, strutting peacocks and a trout lake costing pounds 35 a night B&B, to an old stone country cottage in Bourton, Dorset with a plantsman's garden and nursery (inspired by Margery Fish) which specialises in old and uncommon perennials, informally planted for all-the-year-round interest. The price here is pounds 18-50.

The Garden Lovers' leaflet which also includes details of horticultural tours, gardening courses and some B&Bs abroad is free (send a self-addressed envelope with four first class stamps) from BBGL, Handywater Farm, Sibford Gower, Banbury, Oxon OX15 5AE.

The properties tall into three price ranges; under pounds 20; medium from pounds 20- pounds 27 and luxury homes up to pounds 35, all with breakfast.

Another idea you might like to consider is the National Trust's bed and breakfast scheme whereby their tenants offer B&B in beautiful areas of the countryside, protected by the National Trust.

Coleton Fishacre House at Kingswear, Dartmouth for example was built in 1926 by a pupil of Lutyens for the D'Oyly Carte family. The house stands in 10 hectares of sub-tropical gardens running down to the sea, with spectacular views along the coast. A night here costs pounds 28.50, while at Sissinghurst Castle Farm, a Victorian farmhouse within a minute's walk of Sissinghurst Castle Garden, you'll pay from pounds 23.50.

The free leaflet, "National Trust Bed and Breakfast 1997" can be obtained by phoning the NT on 0181 315 1111.

Using either or both leaflets mentioned you could make up your own itinerary. If you prefer an organised tour, the National Trust also run these for their members in conjunction with Page & Moy (0116 250 7676). A four night "Great Houses and Gardens of Norfolk and tho Fens" tour based at King's Lynn includes Peckover House in Wisbech, an imposing merchant's house with a Victorian garden, the Palladian Houghton Hall, the Norfolk seat of the Marquis of Cholmondely, with a superb garden recently designed by the present marquis in memory of his grandmother Sibyl Bassoon.

The garden at Bradenham Hall with arboretum, formal walled gardens and herbaceous borders is also on the itinerary. The four night half-board tour costs pounds 425.

Jill Crawshaw is a travel expert, writer and broadcaster.

MY INSURER WON'T COVER MEDICAL EXPENSES

My husband was taken ill with a slight heart attack while we were on holiday in France recently and he incurred some serious medical bills for hospitalisation and treatment. Unfortunately our holiday insurance company are now refusing to pay, because they say my husband's heart problems were caused by a pre-existing condition (namely that his cholesterol was already too high when he bought the policy). This is in spite of the fact that he had never suffered any heart problems before. How can this be right?

Mrs G Powers

Warwick

I am sorry that your insurer has not supported you and your husband and seem to want to avoid making payment towards your husband's medical treatment.

Most travel insurance policies contain exclusion clauses which you can find in the small print in the wording of the policy. You should always read through the policy carefully to see what information you must tell the insurer about your medical history as otherwise they can refuse to pay up. Most travel insurance will allow your insurer to exclude liability if you have not told them about any hospital treatment taken in the months before the policy was taken up, and recurring illness needing medication or any serious illness which might cause medical problems when you are overseas.

You will need to look carefully at your policy to see what information your insurer says you failed to give which now entitles them to refuse to pay up. I would be surprised if your husband's cholesterol intake would itself be enough but it might well be different if he was having some treatment for a medical problem relating to a heart condition.

If you cannot resolve your dispute with the insurer you can take it up with the Insurance Ombudsman who will investigate matters on your behalf. Part of his brief is to review disputes between the Insurer and the consumer and to review how the insurer brought this exclusion clause to your attention.

Ian Skuse is the senior litigation partner with Piper Smith & Basham, which has specialised in advising the travel industry for over 20 years (tel: 0171-8288685).

MONEY SENSE

Can you provide me with some information with regard to carrying money on my person and leaving it in hotels whilst travelling? I will be travelling this summer to Mexico and then onwards through Central America spending six months away. My main concern is carrying large amounts of travellers' cheques and currency with me.

I Ford

London

The travel editor replies: You would be very unwise to carry "large" amounts of cash on you during your travels in Latin America. Travellers' cheques offer the undoubted advantage that they can be replaced if lost or stolen - more or less quickly, depending on how near you are to a major city where American Express or Thomas Cook (the major brands) have offices. When you buy your cheques, get a list of all local offices and contact numbers in Latin America. Just make sure you keep the record of cheque numbers and the original bill of sale in a separate place from the cheques themselves, as you you will need them to reclaim lost cheques.

These days, credit cards are becoming more useful in Latin America, from the point of view of withdrawing money as and when you need it. Visa, and to a lesser extent Mastercard, can be used to get cash advances from many banks. A growing number of automatic teller machines are also connected to the Cirrus or Plus network.

Naturally you will need to carry a certain amount of foreign currency for those situations when you are in the jungle on Sunday with no banks in sight. Take US dollars.

As for the question of carrying valuables on your person, you can do no better than keeping everything in a money belt inside your clothes. You can buy good ones, made of natural fibres which allow your skin to breathe, from specialist travel stores such as the Adventure Shops (Tel 01784 458625 for details of your nearest store). Avoid the temptation under any circumstances to wear your money-belt outside your trousers or around your neck (as some people do) which will make you a sitting duck to be mugged.

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