The river that runs deep
Thoughts on the Thames, plus the attractions of northern France; Spanish driving; and the beauty of Romania
storage tanks and chimneys on the Isle of Grain – these are not to everyone’s taste, but I found the industrial landscape beautiful. Deadman’s Island and the yachts at Queenborough were soon left behind as we crossed shipping lanes busy with cargo ships heading towards London and towering car transporters entering Sheerness docks.
We landed at Southend with time to walk the long pier to the seafront for fish and chips before our return.
The Kingswear Castle has returned to the River Dart, but the Waverley, which is the last remaining seagoing paddle steamer in the world, continues to make annual visits to the Thames. HILARY SPON
Nearly half a century ago, my husband took me for lunch to the Swan at Streatley, whose buildings and grounds lie alongside the Thames at Goring. It was then owned by Danny La Rue. Now a hotel, the Swan has a small private barge which, two years ago, we hired for the day to celebrate my 80th birthday with our children and seven grandchildren. It was a wonderful party in truly exceptional surroundings. MARION SMITH
Low cost in France
I agree with Nick Trend’s suggestion of northern France for a late bargain
Lost in Transylvania
I enjoyed Rhiannon Edwards’ article on her whistle-stop tour of Romania (“Who dares wins in Dracula country”, June 17) – but there is so much more to see in this lovely part of the world.
We have just returned from a two-week tour of Transylvania, Bucovina and Maramures in the north of Romania. Such beauty, such hospitality, such wealth of wildlife, hospitality, tradition and (“No holiday? There’s still time to take the plunge”, June 17). It may not have the kudos of Provence, but there are huge sandy beaches near Caen and Le Touquet, plus lovely villages and scenery along the Seine towards Paris. Further south the Loire offers chateaux and, over to the west, are places such as the Quiberon peninsula and La Baule. The charm. Organised by a company specialising in sustainable tourism (Discover Romania), our tour took us to traditional “Hansel and Gretel” homestays furnished with locally spun and woven linens, rugs and hangings. We were treated to home and locally produced food, not to mention the homedistilled plum schnapps and wine with every evening meal.
We saw artisans of every sort: spoon-carving, weather may be less predictable – though southern Brittany has plenty of sunshine – but you will spend fewer hours driving and more time discovering somewhere new. DIANA COODE
Driving in Spain
Further to your correspondence about wool-spinning, weaving, slipper making. There were proud yet sad Saxon churches crumbling into disrepair, fairytale wooden churches, and monasteries with beautiful frescoes. And bears and wolves lurking in the forests…
If you love being close to nature and want a taste of what you thought was a lost world, then visit Romania. It won’t disappoint. HAZEL BAILEY WINS A £250 RAILBOOKERS VOUCHER driving to Spain and the responses of drivers there to those in cars with GB number plates (Travel views, May 6 and May 20), we have just been on a driving tour of southern Spain and found drivers no different to those in any other part of Europe, and in general a lot less aggressive than in England. ANTHONY WILD