A wedding abroad please, but not a tacky one

I am 43 and have been divorced for 12 years and my partner is 41 and has never been married. We would very much like to get married abroad but are really too old for those awful looking ceremony things on the beach in Barbados. Is there a company that deals with marriages in Italian cities? We want a quiet, romantic affair, no glitz.

Chris Balfe


The travel editor replies: Italian Connection (0171-486 6890) can arrange a very nice wedding for you in Italy. It will do all the paperwork and documentation and arrange the date as well as sorting out churches, flowers, wedding dresses, receptions etc, ranging from the "simple to the rustic agriturismo to the elegant and flamboyant". It can also arrange an on- the-spot honeymoon to suit your budget; the areas it covers are Florence, Venice, Rome, Fiesole, Siena and San Marino.

Otherwise, why not just go and arrange it yourself? Ask the Italian Tourist Board (0171-408 1254) to send you instructions on how to do it. Be warned though that the bureaucracy is formidable - give yourself plenty of time to organise things.

Basically you'll need a certificate of non-impediment from your register office in the UK (21 days' notice required). Send this, plus copies of your passport, plus a fee of about 100,000 lire (pounds 36) to the British consulate general in the town where you wish to marry. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London (0171-238 4503), has a list of these).

Finally, Italy will issue you with a "Nulla Osta" which you take to a town hall on arrival. You need two witnesses and a translator.

By the way, you needn't assume that weddings of the "island-paradise- on-the-beach" type are all trashy, tacky affairs. Have you thought about Mauritius? Beachcomber Tours (01483 533008) offers some very superior wedding packages, for example at the Royal Palm Resort, which prides itself on its discretion and good taste. Another advantage is the environment that you will find in such a location: perfect beaches and palm trees. On the other hand you'll be looking at a pretty expensive holiday - the wedding itself will probably add at least pounds 1,000 to your bill.

I'm worried about skiing injuries

I am going on a cross-country skiing trip with my partner through Scandinavia but I am concerned at what might happen if one of us sprained an ankle while miles away from anywhere. Would the best thing be to hobble on, or would this be very bad?

CW Saturn


Dr Larry Goodyer replies: Ski boots usually protect the ankle and injury here is rare. More likely is injury to the shin or knee, with a smaller chance of shoulder and wrist damage. If any injury to the legs is suspected then it is advisable to stop skiing, as further accidents could make things worse.

As far as dealing with, for instance, a fractured shin, then immobilising the limb and waiting until your companion can reach the rescue services would be the best option, providing it is safe to be left for a short period of time. If medical help is too far away or the situation particularly perilous, the only alternative would be to improvise a splint but great care would need to be exercised if attempting to move the casualty. Perhaps a first aid course before you go might give you confidence.

All travellers should carry a simple first aid kit. At the very least this should include plasters and some antiseptic. In addition a crepe bandage would be useful for supporting strains and sprains and a triangular bandage for the arm. Also consider an analgesic such as ibuprofen, which can be useful for muscle and strain injuries.

Dr Larry Goodyer is superintendent of the Nomad Pharmacy (3-4 Turnpike Lane, London N8, Tel: 0181-889 7014) which specialises in catering for travellers' medical needs.

How best to take my folding bicycle abroad?

Can you advise me about buying a folding bicycle that I can carry on a plane as hand luggage? What ought I to be looking for? How much should I pay? Some of these bikes seem to be very expensive.

B Speake, Chipping Norton

Clive Tully replies: Your chances of taking a bicycle as hand luggage on an aircraft are slim to non-existent. First off, you'd need something which conformed to the maximum permitted dimensions for carry-on luggage of 20x15x10 inches. Then, although some airlines may be somewhat lax in enforcing it, there's also a weight restriction to carry-on luggage which would put even the lightest and most exotic bicycle well over the limit.

The options for bicycles as hand luggage on other forms of public transport are, however, better, and given that transporting bicycles on trains is nowhere near as straightforward as it used to be, one which converts into a piece of luggage isn't such a bad idea.

The most compact bikes are the small wheel variety, and I have two in my collection. One is the Moulton AM7, not a folding bicycle, but its unusual "space" frame comes apart in the middle, and you can pack it all into a single carrying bag. Not overly compact, but very much the dream machine to ride.The other, which packs even smaller, is the Brompton, whose ingenious design and clever engineering enables it to fold down to the size of a small suitcase. Just four actions reduce it from bicycle to a compact item of luggage weighing around 25lbs, all in under 30 seconds. My Brompton is a T5, the touring model which comes with Sturmey Archer five-speed hub, along with fitted luggage rack and dynamo lights.

You can get a three-speed version, and a lightweight option without the lights and rack. Prices start at pounds 390, going up to around pounds 600, depending on which model and accessories you opt for. For further details, telephone Brompton Bicycle on 0181 742 8251.

Clive Tully is is an expert on clothing and equipment for the outdoors. He is editor of 'TrailWalk', an online magazine devoted to walking, trekking and backpacking (www.trailwalk.com).