Other recent news & articles

Taking off: what’s new in the world
11/Mar/2015
Going up the Eiffel Tower is hardly the most original thing to do in Paris. But running up? The city’s most famous landmark is to host its first vertical race later this month, with 60, possibly deranged, runners tackling the 1,665 steps to the top of the 915ft tower. The March 20 race is a sell-out, but applications are now open for next year’s event. Think it sounds arduous? Try queuing to get up the thing without prebooking. verticaletoureiffel.fr

Say your prayers
The average congregation at St Giles, in Imber, is zero. That’s because the 13th-century church is off-limits to the public: it’s situated slap bang in the middle of a military training area on Salisbury Plain, with bullets and tank rounds flying overhead. But for four days this Easter, the Churches Conservation Trust, which repairs and finds new uses for old places of worship, will open the medieval church to visitors. You can admire its wall paintings and explore the surrounding ghost village; there’s even an Easter egg hunt. Note to the kids: if it’s pointy and cylindrical, it’s probably not an egg. Open weekend April 3-6; visitchurches.org.uk

By the book
Full marks to Alton Towers for originality, and its grasp of a damned good pun. The brilliantly named Insta-Gran is a new granny hire service, with delightful Mary Poppins types on hand to read bedtime stories to young guests at the Staffordshire theme park’s Enchanted Village. They’ll also provide hot chocolate and “poetic” wake-up phone calls for those staying in the assorted woodland lodges… as well as presumably slipping Werther’s Originals into tiny hands when parents aren’t looking. From £6 for 15 minutes; altontowers.com

In Tunis
An 18th-century palace in Tunis that once housed the grand mufti has been restored and turned into a new luxury hotel. Palais Bayram, in the oldest part of the city’s medina, has a wealth of intricate marblework and rare Iznik tiles. It took eight years to restore the building, but it now has a level of comfort befitting its former resident, the head of Islam in the country. There are 17 suites, including a royal suite, a hammam and a tea house. The menu in the restaurant was devised by the former Paris Ritz chef Guy Legay. Doubles from £218, B&B, knowledgehotels.com/ the-knowledge-palais-bayram

France in 15 minutes
Now here’s something that genuinely qualifies as Channel-hopping: a day trip to the Pas de Calais resort of Le Touquet, in northern France, flying by private plane, with a journey time of just 15 minutes. You get to chat to the pilot before take-off, quaff a glass of bubbly en route and then have a day at the seaside, Gallic style, before nipping home for tea. The best bit? You’re departing from Lydd Airport, Kent, whose idea of check-in congestion is two families turning up at the same time. From £222pp, based on nine sharing; packages include return transfers from anywhere in the southeast; worldexecutiveairways.com

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