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.

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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
Latest stories from i100
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

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - OTE £36,000

    £12500 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Knaresborough ...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    Recruitment Genius: Cleaning Manager - York and Bradford

    £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...

    Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Drivers

    £18000 - £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Driv...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003
    Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

    Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

    Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

    Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
    Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

    Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

    Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
    New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

    Dinner through the decades

    A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
    Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

    Philippa Perry interview

    The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

    Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

    Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
    Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

    Harry Kane interview

    The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
    The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?