Your questions answered by our panel of travel experts

Any information on garden and gardening breaks? Nothing too far.

G Gordon

Redditch

Jill Crawshaw replies: Yes, lots. Pride of Britain Hotels, a privately- owned consortium of small hotels, is operating three tours during the rest of this year, all accompanied by experts. From 26-28 June there is "Enchanting Gardens and Cathedrals" based at Esseborn Manor, near Andover, "Devonshire Delights" from 7-9 August is based at Lewtrenchard Manor near Oakhampton, and from 16-18 October "Autumn Colour" is based at the Lake Country House in Llangammarch, Wells. Prices from pounds 279. Phone 01305 266440 for further details.

Acorn Activities (01432 830083) has an interesting two-day "Organic Kitchen Gardening" break in July to help participants get the most of their gardens, however small -and learn the skills of composting, manures, and how to deal with pests and diseases. The course costs pounds 80, accommodation pounds 144.

The theme for the 1998 Jersey Floral Festival from 13-18 July is modern gardening, looking at the trends inspired by our hotter, drier summers, the use of Mediterranean plants and how to grow orchids at home. Contact the Jersey Tourist Office in London (0171 493 5278) or in Jersey on 01534 500700.

"Bed and Breakfast for Garden lovers" is a collection of 102 enthusiast members with interesting gardens of their own. B&B prices range from pounds 25- pounds 35 a night per person. Its leaflet is free (send self-addressed 22cm x 11cm envelope with four loose first-class stamps) to BBGL, Handywater Farm, Sibford Gower, Banbury, Oxon OX15 5AE.

Across the Channel, VFB (Vacances Franco Britannique, 01242 240338)includes some classic gardens on its one-week Ile de France and Normandy tour; in the Bois des Moutiers south of Dieppe, Gertrude Jekyll's creation planted with rhododendrons and azaleas is considered by the French to be the supreme English park. June and September tours costs from pounds 553-pounds 559.

Coach holiday operator Leger (01709 839839) is offering four-day "Monet's Gardens and the Chateaux of Paris" tours until 25 September, with prices from pounds 149-pounds 159. The price also includes three nights' B&B in hotels, as well as excursions to the Chateaux of Fontainbleau and de Vaux le Vicomte, the Gardens of Versailles and Monet's own garden at Giverny, the inspiration of about 50 of his famous water-lily paintings.

Jill Crawshaw is a travel expert, writer and broadcaster.

What are the dangers of diving? I'm worried about the bends

I am thinking of going on a diving holiday but the whole problem of the "bends" and related breathing issues worries me quite a lot.

Ken Leaping

London

Dr Larry Goodyer replies: As you are presumably a beginner, the basic aqualung course that you receive should certainly cover decompression sickness (the bends) in some detail. Many dive schools overseas offer a basic Professional Association of Diving Instructors Course (PADI), which involves a fairly intensive four or five-day course to gain a certificate in "sport diving".

Under pressure more nitrogen tends to be dissolved in the body tissues; the amount will depend upon the depth of the dive and the time spent. If surfacing too quickly the dissolved nitrogen tends to come out of solution forming gas bubbles in the body tissues. The symptoms usually occur within three hours, but can sometimes take up to 24 hours to appear and may include joint pains, weakness, disturbed vision and loss of balance. Treatment consists of the use of a recompression chamber.

The problem can be avoided by a slow rate of ascent and the correct use of diving tables to calculate any stops that have to be taken. This should certainly be covered in your diving course.

It is worth remembering that you should not fly within 24 hours of your last dive, as the reduced pressure in the aircraft could bring on the bends.

Finally most dive centres will require a medical certificate of fitness before starting a course, so make sure that this is done before you leave.

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.

What to see in South America

My wife and I would like to visit South America, if possible with a company which makes all the arrangements. What should we see? We are active senior citizens and would be happy to be away for at least a month.

Keith Honess

Winchester

The travel editor replies: Even a month is not really long enough to do much justice to the whole continent of Latin America. I would have thought that you might do well to concentrate on one area - for example, the Andean countries of Colombia, Equador and Peru, or possibly southern Brazil, Argentina and Chile.

The best specialist operator is Journey Latin America (Tel: 0181 747 3108) which does a detailed tailor-made tour with all travel, accommodation and transfers prearranged, or, alternatively, take you on a conducted tour with a group. Another operator which runs tours round Latin America are Hayes and Jarvis (Tel: 0181 222 7844).

Accommodation in Bologna

My wife and I are planning to spend a few nights in Bologna in July. To judge by guide books, the choice is between expensive business hotels or cheap hostels. Is this typical of the place? How can I find something in between?

Nick Lawrence

Manchester

The travel editor replies: I think you should contact a very useful little operator called Accommodation Line, which specialises in making bookings for family-run, small hotels in Italian cities, all of which they have vetted for quality themselves.

These hotels are rather cheaper and far nicer than their large, chain counterparts. Accommodation Line also inform me that they can quite easily book you a double room for two people on a B&B basis for pounds 80. The number to call is 0171 409 1343.

GLOBAL MYTHS NO 18

Another story from the travellers' grapevine

A PAIR of London businessmen travelled up to Scotland for a week to do some deer hunting. They had no problem obtaining the necessary licences and so as soon as they had arrived and assembled their gear, they set off in their Range Rover to look for something to shoot.

As was required, before they started hunting on a piece of land, they asked permission from the farmer who owned it. On the morning of the last day they arrived at one of the best pieces of deer-hunting land in the country. The farmhouse was on the top of a hill with no road, and so one of the two walked up while his friend waited at the bottom with the car.

The hunter watched his friend plod up and knock on the door of the farmhouse. The farmer answered and he watched the two talk and gesticulate for several minutes.

The hunter eventually came back down and said: "Bad news. He says we can't shoot on his land. He doesn't like the look of us, apparently. He said we were both English tossers. I'm pretty angry. In fact, I'm so angry that I'm going to shoot that donkey over there." And with that he raised his rifle and killed an old donkey that was standing quietly in a neighbouring field with a single shot to the head.

"Yeah," said his friend, getting into the swing of it. "I'm really angry too. I'm going to shoot that bull over there." And he picked up his rifle and shot a bull which was standing minding its own business in another field.

"You stupid git," said the first hunter. "I was winding you up. What he actually said was that we could hunt on his land, and as a favour could we also shoot that sick old mule of his."

Maxton Walker

Send in the stories you've picked up on your journeys to `Global Myths' at the address above.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

    Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

    The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
    The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

    The Open 2014

    Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?