• An Introduction

    I have been a freelance author and journalist for more than 20 years and my work has appeared in the Financial Times, the Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily and Sunday Express, Business Traveller, Conde Naste Traveller and many other magazines. My books have mostly focused on health, food and fitness - I wrote the first book published in the UK on Pilates. I have also written on music - I have a particular interest in opera and dance - as well as social history.


    My journalism has recently focused mostly on travel and I've written on places as varied as Botswana, Namibia, Ethiopia, Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, the Gulf States, Oman, India, Nepal, Kazakhstan, Russia, Iceland, the Baltic states, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, much of the Caribbean including Cuba, Mexico, the USA and Canada and most of Western Europe. I have left little parts of my heart in many of these places but the biggest is almost certainly in the Pacific Islands. I lived in Polynesia, starting in the Cook Islands (where I stayed for six months) and moving on through French Polynesia, to Fiji, Western Samoa and Tonga, as well as a short break in New Zealand before I returned "home" to island life. I have revisited many times and it is always as wonderful as the first.


    As well as travel journalism, I have written many more general features on everything from the love lives of race horses in Kentucky to Amish farming techniques, interviewing everyone from the world's oldest tandem paraglider (104) to the Bishop of Jerusalem, and investigating cross-dressing from the point of view of Samoan fa'fafines. I do love eclecticism.


    This is my first version of the new website - more to be uploaded soon!



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    Making a new friend in Walvis Bay off the coast of Namibia

  • Travel

    What I do most (and love best) these days is travel writing.

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    Club Tropicana welcomes you to Cuba’s wonderland

    Havana's most famous nightclub - Las Vegas can only weep.

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    River cruising to Venice on board La Bella Vita

    From Venice to Mantua is a short drive. On board La Bella Vita it takes a whole glorious week.

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    Arabian Delights

    Sailing in Arabia starting in Oman (surely one of the world's most beautiful countries) and on to the glitter of the Gulf.

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    Moscow to St Petersburg by Boat

    There's an awful lot of wood in Russia from silver birch forests to entire cathedrals to the gilded version in St Petersburg palaces.

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    The Iceland that Time Forgot

    A circumnavigation of the island of Iceland with puffins, geysers, miniature horses, whales and a hurricane!

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    Dancing off the North West coast of Africa

    Can't get enough of Strictly? Learn to dance with the professionals on board ship.

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    Mother's Day Magic in Burgundy

    How to treat your Mum on Mother's Day - my suggestions for a trip to remember.

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    Bella Italia delivers the Dolce Vita


    Cruising around the gorgeous Italian coast - a few suggestions for top trips.

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    Paradise found in Croatia

    Three weeks in the Adriatic - but can Dubrovnik top Venice?

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    Set Your Stall on a Christmas Cruise

    Pre-Christmas treat - it's a hard choice between music, shopping and gluwein.

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    Sea in the New Year with Style

    New Year on the high seas or more likely in port watching the fireworks.

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    Walking in Historic Baltic Cities

    Walking on water? Almost. The Ramblers Association joins forces with Fred Olsen.

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    Iceland's Warm Welcome

    Northern lights, geysers, lava fields and being dive bombed by Arctic terns.

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    Old Havana Cuba

    An extensive Caribbean cruise where I discover my inner George Forby (surely not?).

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    Adventure on the Nile

    From Cairo to Aswan, this is one of the world's most astonishing rivers with highlight sites all the way.

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    Gliding through the Glens

    The highlands glow in the autumn light and it's cosy inside the floating boutique, Scottish Highlander barge.

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    The Nile Cruise

    Egypt is empty right now - you get to photograph the sphinx not the tourists.

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    Driving Arizona


    1000 miles in seven days from the desert to forests 7000ft high - and the world's lowest motel room.

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    The Quin, NYC

    A couple of blocks from Central Park, across the road from Carnegie Hall, the Quin is an arts hotel - Chagall and George O'Keeffe stayed here and nowadays there are artists' salons and tickets to the ballet.

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    Scotland’s Paradise: Isle of Eriska

    Eriska is an island to yourself. Unless you count the otters, seals and that golden eagle with its 2m wing span.

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    Fishmore Hall, Ludlow

    Over a weekend in the heart of England I discover how to shop (with a chef) and the secret of the perfect boiled egg.

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    Andalusia's Moorish Cities

    Filled with the scent of orange blossom, spring comes early to the cities of Andalusia. And they have everything - the most beautiful Islamic architecture, flamenco and Carmen's cigarette factory.

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    Cruising the Norwegian Fjords

    Forget the argument between the beautiful and the sublime - here you'll find both. With fjords, trolls and a guide called Odd.

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    Marrakech’s Masterpiece: La Mamounia

    La Mamounia is the grandaddy of them all when it comes to Marrakech hotels. Churchill used to paint here and since De Gaulle came they've made the beds extra long.

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    Waltzing with the Viennese

    I did go to the ball! Here's how to do it from hiring the gown to learning the steps (not so easy) to navigating round the palace and breakfasting on wurst at 2am.

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    Possibilities in Porto

    J K Rowling's staircase, pasties de nata, how the Brits invented port and where to meet the world's oldest film maker.

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    Anassa, Cyprus

    It's a classically (as in ancient Greece) cool atmosphere at the Anassa. Perfect if you're looking for privacy, gourmet cooking and edible gold leaf.

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    Fiji, Samoa and the Cook Islands

    New developments in the Pacific islands.

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    The Cook Islands

    More Pacific updates.

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    Pacific Island Life

    Luxury living in the Pacific.

  • Spas

    My 'Spa of the Month' column in the Arbuturian has been going for nearly three years!

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    Grand Hotel Tremezzo’s ‘T Spa’

    Overlooking Lake Como is a spa with the most gorgeous views, and plenty of those little luxuries - handmade chocolates, massage rituals and lots of gold leaf.

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    A brand new concept, this itinerant spa roams the coast of GB in search of mindfulness, yoga and sea adventures.

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    AMA Resort, Andalusia

    An affordable spa on the Costa de la Luz, AMA is blessed with an adventurous director who also does a remarkably intuitive "facial."

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    Terma Smarjeske Toplice, Slovenia

    A spa that really delivers! Lose weight, gain energy, bathe in thermal waters, go Nordic walking and learn to juice fast.

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    Thai Square

    A subterranean London day spa, enlivened by Roman murals,jasmine-scented air, bronze statuary and a beach of Himalayan salt.

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    Asia Gardens, Alicante

    This is a ver upmarket spa surrounded with - as its name suggests - quite beautiful oriental gardens. A stone's throw from Benidorm!

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    Cavallino Bianco

    How many boxes can one spa tick? How about families, skiing and a huge spa programme? Also the first time I've ridden a bicycle in a sauna...

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    Lefay, Lake Garda

    This beautiful Italian spa rather surprisingly specialises in Classical Chinese Medicine. Boost your Qi and experience CCM-inspired health and beauty treatments.

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    A day spa in deepest Chelsea with a Malaysian ethos in the grand Victorian buildings of the Cadogan Estate. Lush products with Malaysian ingredients –- hibiscus, coconut, candlenut and papaya.

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    The Royal Mansour, Marrakech

    Royal Mansour is an idealised version of Marrakech, within the city's own walls. Enjoy a riad of your own, a sap like a giant white birdcage and the real hammam experience.

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    The Uniquely Organic EcoSpa

    Fancy a day at the seaside? Try out Brighton's jewel box of a spa. Don't expect your usual massage - these are based on chakras and there's a lot of intuitive healing.

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    Grand Kempinski, Slovakia

    A ski resort close enough for an easy long weekend, the Tatra Mountains in Slovakia are also home to the Grand Kempinski Hotel.The spa is super-luxe (everything's marble) with a bar - veggie juice or Louis Roederer - your choice.

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    Ynyshir Hall, Powys

    Celtic glamour with a Michelin-starred restaurant and a holistic wellness centre that left my head spinning.

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    Hotel Metropole, Monte-Carlo

    Two restaurants with three Michelin stars between them, a spa with designs by Karl Lagerfeld and Gwyneth's foot specialist.

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    The Ring, Vienna

    You're never going to lose weight in Vienna (all that sacher torte) but you can relax. Therapists a la carte at the rooftop Ring Hotel spa.

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    The Daffodil

    Rasul mud and precious stones - feel a million dollars by Wordsworth's favourite lakeland spot.

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    Borgo Egnazia

    An extraordinary spa - a place of fantasy and vision. Be sure to book the Roman spa to yourself - the closest to the original you'll find.

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    The Headland Hotel

    A spa with a surf school attached on one of Cornwall's finest beaches. Go for long walks over the headlands (the hotel will provide a picnic) and take your dog.

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    Zening, Cyprus

    A hand-made kind of spa with the emphasis on yoga and meditation and very healthy local, seasonal food, mostly vegetarian. Chilled-out detox.

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    Vals Therme

    The architect's spa - and a national monument in Switzerland. Design is all here. The thermal spa has no clocks, no plans - meander through and slow down time.

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    Desert Spas

    The perfect winter destination - sun guaranteed. Two spas in the desert lands of arty Scottsdale - with absolutely everything including aerial yoga.

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    Medicinal Malaysia

    Dental make-overs to tummy tucks - Malaysia is selling itself as a medical tourism hotspot.

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    The Tschuggen

    A spa inside a Swiss mountain - all 500 square metres of it. Perfect for spa-skiers, its "private mountain" event in November gives you the slopes to yourself (snow provided!).

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    Almyra, Cyprus

    Eastern therapies under the Cyprus sun with a great spa restaurant and very family friendly ambience.

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    Ti Sana, Milan

    Family-run Vegan spa in a glorious courtyard setting. Long countryside walks, Chi Gung and not a pizza in sight.

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    Pedras Salgadas

    A real family spa where you can live in a treehouse in the woods. Thermal waters (for drinking and bathing) ensure a total detox between biking and bird watching.

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    Calcot Manor

    Serious fitness training in glorious Cotswold surroundings with spa treatments designed to make you svelte and toned.

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    Viva Mayr

    The Cure is all about detoxing and weight loss. Grape seeds scrubs, cotton buds up your nose and plenty of Epsom salts.

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    The Alpina Gstaad

    Deluxe detox in glorious surroundings - plus perfect skiing. No sacrifices needed and big results on weight loss, BMI and biological age.

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    Serious yoga bunnies and total beginners mix up in a cosy Spanish setting for veggie detox.

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    St Michael’s

    Cornish seaside cool hotel - blowing away the city cobwebs and stress in equal measure.

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    New Year, New You

    The full panchakarma - Ayurvedic detox in the Austrian mountains. It works for the mind as much as the body.

  • General features

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    High Art at Highcliffe Castle

    Four artists in a joint exhibition at Highlicliffe Castle in Dorset.

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    All the rage in Milan

    Shopping in Italy's fashion mecca.

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    Dead Sea Restorative

    The remarkable cure produced by the Dead Sea.

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    My Cup Overfloweth

    Biontology, cupping and prosecco in Verona.

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    I'll have the rattlesnake

    Haute cuisine in Utah including the rattlesnake patties.

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    Slow quiet creatures

    The wild men of Borneo - better known as orang utans - in the Sabah jungle.

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    Walking with donkeys

    Just like R L Stevenson, I walk with my donkey, Gatino, through Arcadia and mountain thunderstorms.

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    Working with dinosaurs

    Turn a spade in Utah and you'll find a dinosaur bone - millions of them.

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    Horse Racing in Kentucky

    There's more to breeding winners for the Kentucky Derby than you think. What about their love life?

  • Critic

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    A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation


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    Dr Faustus


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    The Master Builder


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    The Queen of Spades


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    The Mikado


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    The Force of Destiny


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    Echoes of Eternity

    The Shanghai Ballet


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    The McOnie Company’s Jekyll & Hyde


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    Rhapsody & The Two Pigeons


  • Education

    I have written a great deal on different aspects of independent education. A selection of articles are available for downloading here. They range from advice on academic selection, scholarships, new teaching methods and value added to single sex education, teenage angst and unusual school clubs.

    All the World's a Stage

    How successful performing arts schools combine the glitter of stage training with outstanding examination results.

    Boys will be Boys

    The advantages of single sex education for boys. What they need is pace, variety,

    healthy competition and

    risk taking.

    The Art of being Brilliant

    How the top academic schools bring up the bottom third of their ability range to achieve A* and A grades.

    Guiding Our Girls

    A recent report on teenage girls

    painted a picture of unremitting unhappiness. How successful independent girl schools deal with the challenges of teenage angst.

    Gateway for the Gifted

    With independent schools putting more money into means tested bursaries than straight scholarships some pointers on how to navigate the system.

    Secret Societies

    A survey of the many clubs and societies, often unusual, in independent schools and the important role that they play in developing character, curiosity and skill as well as providing a great deal of fun.

    Rise of the Mixed Sixth Form

    Shrewsbury School, that bastion of maleness is at it. So is the academically renowned Perse

    School for Girls. A report on the growing trend of mixed sixth forms

    The Right Sums

    Maths seems able to strike fear into the hearts of otherwise bright, competent children. And the fear often stays into adulthood. How do you know your child is getting the right tuition?

    Value Added - Upping the Ante

    Value added indicators are entirely different from formal academic league tables but they provide a very subtle indicator of success.

    In with the New

    The State system is introducing radical new teaching methods such as the 8-minute lesson. Should Independent schools resist mightily?

    A* All the Way

    A* is the new A. Last year, a handful of universities were

    asking for an A* in their offers. This year, at least 15 universities want the new grade – and some of them want more than one.

    Testing Nursery Times

    Many nurseries allocate on a first-come, first-served basis. Some nurseries and pre-preps have a different approach. They wait till nearer the entrance date and then invite the children in.

    The Oxbridge Giants

    A number of schools achieve between 20 and 45% of Sixth Oxbridge offers year after year. How do they manage it?

    A Country Education

    If you are relocating to the country, start with the schools and then work back to homes and lifestyle.

  • Author

    I've published over 30 books, including several best sellers, on everything from health to opera, from travel to the Victorian lifestyle. Many of them have been published in international editions. Here are some of them.

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    A children's guide

    An intro to the country for children including the geography, the culture and the food.

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    A Victorian guide to healthy living

    Bread is brown

    The great Victorian baker, Allinson's, guide to living a long and healthy life.

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    Vitality Plan

    A month of health

    My first health plan book covering 28 days of nutrition, exercise, relaxation and more.

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    Pilates for pregnancy

    A semester by semester guide

    A guide for mothers-to-be on how to healthy, reduce back pain and plan for a good birth.

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    Stress busters

    Relaxation tips

    How to take a moment to relax at home, at work, even if you have just a few minutes.

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    Woman's work out book

    The first ever Pilates book

    My first book and the first-ever Pilates-based exercise book - the publishers had never heard of him though so didn't want his name on the cover....

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    The juice and zest book

    Juicing for beginners

    An intro to juicing, the benefits and how to juice fast.

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    Pocket guide to opera

    Intro to opera

    One of my passions is opera. This is a guide to the great operas and great composers and everything you need to know to get you started as an opera buff!

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    Food through the ages

    A history of food

    A history of food, both culinary and social from the ancient Egyptians to the present day. Roast swan, anyone?

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    Chakra energy plan

    Chakras and their role in your health

    The chakras are linked by energy channels running through the body. How to maximise your energy through exercise and meditation.

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    Easy diet tips

    What to eat, when to eat it, with what and a few things you should simply never touch!

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    Complete Ayurveda workbook

    Ancient Indian art of Health

    Ayurveda is the ancient Indian path to health. Are you pitta, vata or kappa? What should you eat, where should you live, how should you exercise?

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    Pilates for a flat stomach

    Focused exercise

    Nothing is better than Pilates when it comes to working the core. Result? Stomach flat as a pancake!

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    South America

    A children's guide

    An introduction for children to four of the main countries in South America - Argentina, Paraguay, Chile and Uruguay.

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    Antique Marks

    China and metal marks

    A guide to makers' marks on china, gold, silver and pewter - after a stint on the Antiques Roadshow!

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    Massage for beginners

    A guide to the oils and massage techniques of aromatherapy.

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    Water is life

    Water to drink and what it does for your body, plus water therapies.

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    Home health sanctuary

    Making your home a spa

    How to create spa-like therapies in your own home.

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    Miracle Foods

    Eating for health

    25 super foods plus recipes and how to use them for optimum health.

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    Creating the body you want

    A staged programme for developing your strength - especially the core.

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    Chinese herbalism

    A guide to the ancient art

    An introduction to Chinese herbalism, how it works and how to use it now.

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    Victorian Christmas

    Feast like Dickens

    How the Victorians celebrated Christmas and how to recreate it, including recipes.

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    Weekend Detox

    A weekend to yourself

    Three programmes (relaxing, detoxing, energising) where you can create spa results at home over a weekend.

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    Banish back pain

    A Pilates guide

    A guide to overcoming back pain with Pilates techniques.

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    Ayurveda Spa

    Ayurveda at home

    A guide to recreating ayurvedic techniques, diet and lifestyle in your own home.

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