We are a family of four (children aged 9 and 6). We're planning on visiting the US this year (New England area), and would ideally like to stay on a camping/mobile home site, or an equivalent to CentreParcs. Is there such a thing?
The Travel Editor replies: Campsites in New England vary from the basic flat patch of land with water access, to rather elaborate open-air hotel- style centres with shops, bars, restaurants, swimming pools etc. Prices vary accordingly and you can expect pay about $30 per night for luxurious sites. There is really nothing like CentreParcs in New England - the more luxurious campsites are about as close as you are likely to get.
Smugglers' Notch in Vermont (tel: 0800 897159; www. smuggs.com ) is a popular family site, operating a summer and a winter camping programme, with a pet zoo, craft workshops, a pool and tennis courts. In winter there is a ski/snowboard programme, including ski camps for children.
Kampgrounds of America (tel: 00 1 406 248 7444) oversees a large number of camping grounds across New England, although these are almost exclusively geared to people with campervans. Tent-friendly places can be found in state parks and public land and can be booked in advance, for a fee, by contacting the relevant one of the six New England states. A publicly- funded organisation in the UK called Discover New England (tel: 01732 742777) is the best source for such contact numbers and for general advance information. It also has a good website, www.discovernewengland.com.
The Appalachian Mountain Club (tel: 00 1 617 523 0636; www. outdoors.org) has some well-maintained camping areas and mountain huts in good locations.
When it comes to mobile homes, your best bet is to rent one as part of a self-drive package, from a company such as Getaway Vacations (tel: 0181- 313 0550), Just America (tel: 01730 266588) or Major America (tel: 0171- 393 1060). Expect to pay from pounds 1,000 for a week's fly-drive for two adults, two children under 12 years old.
Discover New England (tel: 01732 742777; www.discovernewengland.com) is the best source in Britain for general inquiries about the state. It also has a good website.
A taste of Italy
I am looking for some information about cookery holidays in Italy. I am also interested in similar holidays in France and Spain.
The Travel Editor replies: The tourist offices for France (tel: 09068 244123; premium rate), Italy (tel: 0171-408 1254) and Spain (tel: 0171- 486 8077) offer listings for tour operators which specialise in cookery holidays.
Tasting Places (tel: 0171-460 0077) offers hands-on experience. Its Tuscan cookery course costs from pounds 1,185 for a week, including all tuition, meals and wine, accommodation but not return flights. Italian Cookery Weeks (tel: 0181-208 0112) offers a variety of courses throughout Italy. The courses run from May to October and cost from pounds 1,175 per person and include return flights, accommodation with meals and drinks, sightseeing and tuition.
EHS Travel (tel: 01993 700600) offers cookery holidays in La Mancha, Spain. Guests stay in a converted farmhouse and are taught modern and traditional Spanish/Mediterranean cookery. The holidays take place in early summer and cost from pounds 725 per person (no single supplements) and include full-board accommodation, excursions and lessons. Return flights are not included but can be arranged.
Closer to home, France offers some of the most economical cookery holidays. Inntravel (tel: 01653 628811) organises a series of Cook Around France three-night breaks. These self-drive holidays are priced from pounds 152 per person and include Channel crossings, half-board accommodation and tuition.
I have become rather taken with the idea of living in a lighthouse. But I cannot afford to buy one. Is it possible to rent them as holiday homes?
The Travel Editor replies: There are 24 lighthouses available for rent in the UK. The lighthouses of England, Wales and the Channel Islands are now monitored by Trinity House depot in Harwich (tel: 0171-481 6900). Those in Scotland and the Isle of Man are run by the Northern Lighthouse Board, which is based in Edinburgh (tel: 0131-226 7051).
The lighthouse at Great Ormes Head, Llandudno (tel: 01492 876819) is an unusual square, two-storey, castellated structure situated on spectacular limestone headland, built in 1862. Bed and breakfast costs from pounds 44.50 per person.
Self-catering accommodation is available at Portland Old Higher Lighthouse on the Dorset coast (tel: 01305 822300). There are three cottages, each sleeping four to six people, costing between pounds 220 and pounds 460 for a week.
Lighthouse Accommodation Britain and Worldwide, by Joy Adcock (available from Joy Adcock, 2 Ansell Close, Hatherley, Cheltenham, Glos GL51 5JS for pounds 5.95, including postage and packing. Make cheques payable to Joy Adcock.)
I am now rapidly approaching my final year at university and would like to have one last trip abroad before I start to worry about exams. As a student, I do not have a great deal of money, and with term starting in September, I do not have a great deal of time. Any ideas that won't bankrupt me?
The Travel Editor replies: As you should be aware by now, there are several companies that specialise in student travel arrangements. Your age (I assume you are under 25) means that you can take advantage of many good offers. For example, STA Travel (tel: 0171-361 6161) can book accommodation in youth hostels in many of Europe's cities. The accommodation is basic, but good value if you don't mind roughing it. Two-person dormitories cost about pounds 12 per person, per night. A bed in six- or eight- person rooms costs even less.
Air fares are also cheaper if you are a student and under 25. Call STA Travel for return flights to Dublin for about pounds 70, or Campus (0870 240 1010) for return flights to Madrid for about pounds 150.
Or you could consider travelling by coach. Eurolines (tel: 0990 143219) serves cities such as Amsterdam or Paris for as little as pounds 39 - or pounds 44 if you are over 25.
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