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Cromer’s odyssey: from Victorian escape to foodie hub

It’s the classic crabbing-from-the-pier seaside town but alongside the faded grandeur is a thriving community with a fab food scene

Mention Cromer and someone within earshot will think “crabs”. Cromer crabs, a happy bit of alliteration which sticks in the mind and conjures visions of wide beaches, seaside fun and wholesome seaside fare, with or without mayonnaise.

And that’s pretty much how it is. The brown crab – Cancer pagurus – is found all around the UK, but here off our stretch of Norfolk, in the shallow water on the chalk reef, brown crabs are sweeter than anywhere else. Men were launching boats to bring them in long before visitors began to spread the word.

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Hitchin Lavender, Hertfordshire: ‘Kids will be in awe of the surroundings’ – review

A real field of dreams, get the family back to nature amid these 12 acres of beautiful lavender, where picking is encouraged – and photo opportunities abound

A family-run farm with a 12-acre blanket of lavender that paints one Hertfordshire hillside a vivid purple every summer. From late May to the end of August, the farm’s 25 miles of lavender rows are yours to explore. Children can pick their way around the field and take bunches of the stuff home by the bag. There’s also a field full of sunflowers and another scattered with wild flowers, which makes for pretty photo opportunities. The height of flowering season is late June to mid-July (so early visitors shouldn’t expect peak purple) but it’s worth keeping an eye on its Facebook page for updates to time your visit.

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10 of the best seaside cafes and restaurants in the UK: readers’ tips

Our tipsters tuck into everything from good strong tea and cake to scallops and langoustines – but all these coastal pitstops make the most of their gorgeous setting

The Rosemarkie Beach Cafe is run by community volunteers and set on the beachfront looking over the Moray Firth towards Fort George, not far from Inverness. It’s dog-friendly and serves good strong tea, homemade cakes, and the best sausage and black pudding sandwiches. It’s also a good place to browse secondhand books and CDs, and a social history exhibition, about local wildlife. We were there on a cold March day looking for dolphins and had given up. Set up by cake, strong tea and pig, we bumbled down the wonderfully clean beach and there they were: a school of bottlenose dolphins, just offshore. A good day out and a memorable drive home to the sounds of a triple CD collection of classic Motown bought at the cafe.
rosemarkiebeachcafe.info
howlinwilf

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Hong Kong – city walking guide: exploring the Sham Shui Po district

Traditional industry, bargain electronics, hipster wares and some of the city’s best bites make Sham Shui Po an essential Hong Kong stop-off

Sham Shui Po has long been a working-class district of Hong Kong. This humble area hides an intriguing press of markets, shops, stalls, eateries – and, inevitably, a touch of hipster resurgence.

We start our wander with that most Hong Kong of meals: a bowl of noodles. There are very few restaurants in Hong Kong that make their own any more, and there are fewer still that make it the old-fashioned way, by kneading the dough with a bamboo pole. At Lau Sum Kee Noodle (48 Kweilin Street, Sham Shui Po), owner Lau Fat-cheong makes them fresh every day using this technique. He balances on the end of a large bamboo pole, bouncing up and down to knead his springy, al dente noodles. The house specialties are the wonton soup noodles, or noodles tossed with dried shrimp roe.

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Top 10 budget beach hotels and B&Bs on Mexico’s Pacific coast

Enjoy ocean views from rooftop bars or just step out and get the sand between your toes. From Mazatlán to Pochutla, here are 10 charming beachside escapes

Mexico’s Pacific coast, more than 1,000 miles of it, is renowned for its beaches, as well as the resorts which have attracted Hollywood royalty. However, it’s also an area that can experience tropical storms, usually between June and December. The most recent was Hurricane Patricia, the strongest hurricane ever recorded at sea, which swept across the region at the end of October, but caused less damage than anticipated. Hotels are now operating as normal.

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Top 10 budget beach hotels, guesthouses and hostels on the Yucatán peninsula, Mexico

Well-known and deservedly popular for its jungle, coast and ancient ruins, the Yucatán peninsula can be a pricey place to stay – unless you pick one of these brilliant budget hotels and hostels

On the surface, this mid-size hotel in Cancún’s hotel zone is pretty unremarkable. The tile-floored rooms are big and clean, with terraces or balconies – though they’re not notably stylish. The restaurant is good, not gourmet. The pool is a sensible size. But set this against its glitzy, high-rise neighbours and check the rates, which are often lower than similarly appointed hotels on the mainland, 30 minutes from the water – and Beachscape starts looking pretty good. Then walk out on to the palm-shaded beach, one of the prettiest stretches in the hotel zone, and the place becomes a minor miracle.
• Doubles from $109, +52 998 891 5427, beachscape.com.mx

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Top 10 budget beach B&Bs in the Seychelles

The Seychelles islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue may be known for their luxury resorts but there is also a great selection of family-run, more affordable guesthouses just as close to the archipelago’s famous, world-class beaches

For a room with a five-star view, Colibri is hard to beat. Nine rustic rooms – all wood and stone – ensconced amid tropical foliage that tumbles down a hillside to the turquoise waters of Baie Sainte Anne. There’s no beach but you can use the small infinity pool overlooking the bay at neighbouring B&B Chalets Cote Mer, also owned by Sylvie and Stephan, and costing about €10 more a night. You also share the waterfront creole restaurant. The owners can help with car hire but it’s a five-minute walk to a bus stop – which will take you to Praslin’s most famous beach Anse Lazio and the Unesco-protected Vallée de Mai nature reserve – and the jetty for ferries to Mahé and La Digue.
Doubles from £112 B&B, +248 429 4200, colibrisweethome.com

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Top 10 budget beach guesthouses and B&Bs in South Africa’s Western Cape

From Cape Town and its peninsula to the Garden Route and the West Coast, the Western Cape is a dazzling part of South Africa, and its beachside accommodation doesn’t have to break the bank

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Holiday guide to Basilicata, Italy: what to see plus the best restaurants and hotels

‘Tourist hordes’ is not a phrase you’re likely to hear in Basilicata but given its rich cuisine, stunning national parks, ancient towns and great beaches, it’s hard to fathom why this seductive region remains so quiet

Imagine a region that has miles of white sand beaches on one coast, picturesque rocky bays on the other, two mountainous national parks, and one of the world’s oldest cities. Add lots of warm sunshine plus fine food and wine and you might expect the area to be a tourist mecca, busy with hotels and tour buses. However, Basilicata, the arch and instep of Italy’s boot, has all the above but – thanks admittedly to a history of poverty and difficult access – little mass tourism.

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Holiday guide to the Llŷn peninsula, north Wales

A haven for surfers and adventurers, ‘a timeless island feel pervades this often-overlooked peninsula’. Writers of the new Wild Guide Wales select the best coves and beaches, places to eat and seasonal campsites

With tiny lanes lined with wildflowers leading to empty coves and rugged cliffs, this magical, often-overlooked peninsula has a timeless island feel – some say the Llŷn is like Cornwall 50 years ago. Welsh is spoken more often than not, and sacred places abound. But it’s not stuck in the past: there’s a strong surf culture around Porth Neigwl (Hell’s Mouth), and you can taste the beginning of a good-food revolution.

The coast starts in rugged fashion on the north side with the towering peak of Yr Eifl, home of Tre’r Ceir, an iron age settlement with some of Wales’s best roundhouse remains. To the south, the coast is gentler – a string of pearly coves with tiny seasonal campsites. And at the distant tip sits Bardsey Island, glimmering across the tidal waters.

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A local’s guide to Chicago: 10 top tips

The city’s bars and music scene are among the most vibrant in the US. And with Lake Michigan beaches to relax on and two new budget flights from the UK, now is the time to go

Traditionally overshadowed by coastal powerhouses New York City and Los Angeles, Chicago is on the rise, with a record 55 million visitors in 2017 – and new direct flights from the UK with Norwegian and Wow making the US’s third-largest city more accessible. While visitors tend to congregate around the downtown and lakefront areas to admire the city’s world-renowned architecture, there’s a thriving music and bar scene that shouldn’t be missed.

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Dordogne holiday guide: what to see plus the best restaurants and hotels

The food, wine and idyllic lifestyle of this region’s villages have always appealed to Brits – and with Brexit looming they’re settling in record numbers – but that has not dimmed its thoroughly French allure

The Dordogne comes close to offering everything that travellers head to France for: beautiful chateaux, traditional French gastronomy, a bucolic landscape of vineyards, forests and rivers. Picturesque fortified villages, such as Beynac, La Roque Gageac and Eymet (site of an unexpected pre-Brexit boom for UK settlers), and charming towns such as Bergerac, Brantôme, Bourdeilles and Ribérac, have long been popular with Brits wanting to settle in France, and this is one part of the country where they have always been warmly welcomed into local communities.

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Antigua Guatemala city guide: what to see plus the best bars, hotels and restaurants

Thousands of visitors descend on Antigua for its famous Semana Santa celebrations over Easter, but this colonial gem is worth a visit at any time of year

Cobblestone streets lined with brightly coloured colonial buildings, a jacaranda-wreathed central plaza, 16th-century ruins and with volcanoes surrounding it … Few cities in Latin America can match Antigua Guatemala (usually referred to as just Antigua) for postcard prettiness. But this Unesco-listed city is about much more than surface-level charm and Instagram opportunities.

Founded in 1543 as the seat of Spanish power in the region, it served as its cultural, religious and economic centre for more than 200 years. The city was largely destroyed by earthquakes in the 17th century but many of the colonial buildings were rebuilt and have since been renovated. The remnants of others dot parks and gardens across the city.

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A local’s guide to Perth, Western Australia

As Qantas launches London-Perth, the first non-stop flights between the UK and Australia, Anna Reece of the Perth Festival picks her favourite cultural venues, restaurants, bars and beaches in the city

It’s among the most geographically isolated cities in the world, and sits on the edge of the Indian Ocean, so it’s only natural that the bright lights of Perth come from the sun and the sky. And that’s what gives Perth its sense of openness, endlessness and possibility.

Drive in any direction out of the city and the diversity of the Western Australian landscape is at your fingertips. Head north to Coral Bay, Exmouth and the Ningaloo Reef and it’s possible to walk from red dirt tracks on to white sand and into turquoise water. Venture south, and it’s the rolling farm land and vineyards of Yallingup and Margaret River, the towering karri and tingle trees of the Valley of the Giants and the rugged beaches of Denmark, Albany and Walpole.

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A local’s guide to Sydney

Ringed by national parks and blessed with more than 100 beaches, the best bits of Sydney are outdoors, active and (mostly) free. Here’s how to enjoy it like a local

‘The best things about Sydney are free,” resident Russell Crowe has said. It is arguably the top metropolis on the planet for soaking up the scenery, but Sydneysiders don’t take these God-given gifts for granted. When they’re not out in the surf, swimming laps in an ocean pool, or sailing around the harbour, locals are barbecuing, picnicking, or finding other ways to enjoy the subtropical setting.

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