Consider the English-speaking world. Don't panic - this isn't going to be some misty-eyed paean to the age of Empire, when Britannia ruled the waves, and the sun never set, etc; but if you think about the places that speak English as their first language, they make for a pretty spectacular wish list of destinations. Visiting places like Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and the US of A means scenery, culture, wildlife, food and fun for sure, but there's another - less obvious, but no less important - reason to go.
With apologies to all you clever types with triple firsts in modern languages from Cambridge University, most Brits tend more to the (how shall we put this?) linguistically challenged end of the spectrum; so travelling in English-speaking countries means you can really interact with the locals, and find out what makes them tick, rather than relying on a smattering of Franglais or continuing to speak English but… a bit…. slower… and A BIT LOUDER. Never a good look.
Splendid isolation in the South-western Pacific Ocean sometimes has its advantages , and New Zealand certainly feels a long way from the troubles affecting other parts of the globe at the moment. That this is also one of the most beautiful, exhilarating and memorable destinations imaginable is a bit of a bonus. Expect warm welcomes, awe-inspiring natural beauty, outstanding gastronomy and some of the most luxurious lodges in the world.
A true destination for all seasons, the USA has something to offer all year round, starting with the under-rated capital city of Washington DC - a must for House of Cards fans in this presidential election year - and a city famed for its Japan-rivalling cherry blossom in Spring. Summer should have you California dreamin' for road trips, beaches, slick cities, wine and wilderness in Yosemite. Fall (there are some linguistic differences, we admit) is best experienced in New England or in hot and happening Hawaii, while winter is ski time in immaculate resorts such as Jackson Hole, or shop time in NYC.
The French-speaking provinces of Canada - namely Quebec and parts of Ontario and Manitoba - have their merits, but for us the biggest noise in this big country emanates mainly from the Canadian Rockies and British Columbia. With the Canadian Dollar at a five-year low against the Pound, now's the time to see polar bears (in Churchill, which is, as the name suggests, in the English speaking bit of Manitoba); enjoy the natural wonders and sensational skiing/walking in the Canadian Rockies; or stay in the luxurious lodges of Vancouver Island from which you can spot bears and whales galore.
You know that Australia is best in our winter, right? Well yes - winter is great for beaches and barbies in the south, but head down under in our summer and a whole other part of this continent-sized country is at its best. Introducing the Northern Territory, home to mystical and monumental Uluru, the vast (think 7,750 square miles) Kakadu National Park and fascinating Aboriginal culture and rock art, best explored in the company of guru and guide Sab Lord.
At the risk of labouring a point made in previous newsletters, there's never been a better time to visit South Africa. A brief reminder why: the Rand is at a 10-year low against the Pound; Cape Town's culinary revolution continues unabated, the Winelands remain a most civilised place to learn about the wine-making (and drinking) process and there are exceptional game viewing opportunities in several parts of the country, from the Eastern Cape and Madikwe (both malaria-free, so great for families) to the Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands for super-luxury lodges.