Cobham is an affluent village roughly 20 miles south-west of London, in Surrey. An Iron Age settlement, the village now has nearly 11,000 inhabitants and is a popular home for commuters to London due to its easy rail and road links to the capital. During World War Two it was the location of several notable aviation factories. The area around Cobham has been named one of the best places to live in England and its desirability is increased by the proximity of Chelsea Football Club’s training ground and many of its players’ mansions.
Cristal is a brand of champagne produced by Louis Roederer. It was first made in 1876 for Tsar Alexander II of Russia and, due to his constant fear of assassination, the bottles were made of clear crystal so that he could see the contents – this gave rise to its name.
Cristal is one of the world’s premier brands of champagne, with a very high price tag and aura of exclusivity attached to it.
John Travolta is an American actor, dancer and singer. Born in New Jersey in 1954, he began acting in television as a young man and by the age of 24 had already starred in two of his major film roles: in Grease and Saturday Night Fever, the latter earning him an Academy Award nomination. After early success, his career was quiet during the 1980s, but he made a series of films in the 1990s including, notably, Pulp Fiction and Get Shorty. One of Travolta’s latest film appearances was the cross-dressing role of Edna in the 2007 musical Hairspray.
" And the timeshare sales are the cream on the cake? "
The notion of timeshare was founded in Europe in the 1960s by the ski resort developer Hapimag. A timeshare is a system of part-ownership, whereby holiday makers can buy a share of a resort property and are then allowed to use the property for a certain amount of time in the year – this is often the same one or two weeks every year. Timeshare owners can use the property during this time, rent it out, lend it to a friend or perhaps switch with another timeshare owner. Many large hotel chains as well as private property developers have bought into timeshare; it is a popular form of holidaying, especially in the USA, but unfortunately has led to many scams, such as the one imagined in ‘When the Siren Calls’.
A wandering minstrel playing the pipe and tabor - Credit: W.F.Dawson
This proverb dates to the old English tradition of music provided at country fairs, on village greens and other social occasions (spontaneous or planned) being provided by wandering musicians – usually pipers or fiddlers. Quite simply, the person paying for the musician’s services had the right to command their repertoire, and the proverb passed into common language to mean that the person doing the paying in any given situation is also the person in charge of the decisions.
Marc Jacobs is an American fashion designer, famous for his high-end men and women’s clothing, bags and accessories. Born in 1963, Jacobs launched his first eponymous label in 1986 and also runs the company Jacobs Duffy Designs Inc. along with his business partner Robert Duffy. He was the youngest designer to win the ‘New Fashion Talent’ award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America for his first collection in 1987. Marc by Marc Jacobs is his second major fashion line and there are now 239 Marc Jacobs stores around the world. Jacobs has also held the position of creative director at Louis Vuitton since 1997.
Mayfair is a very affluent area of central London, within the City of Westminster. It takes its name from the annual May Fair held there between 1686 and 1764. Home to some of London’s premium addresses such as Berkeley Square, Grosvenor Square, Bond Street and Savile Row, it boasts London’s most luxurious hotels, shopping and residential areas as well as a high concentration of embassies, private banks and hedge fund offices. Rents here are among the highest in London and the world.
Italian folk music is a very varied genre, due to the huge number of outside influences which have developed it throughout the centuries. Northern Italian music is more Slavic and Celtic in style, whereas Arabic and African influences have crept into the music of the South.
Sung ballads, narrative poetry and traditional dancing are a large part of Italian folk music, including the famous tarantella, danced in order to cure spider bites.
Tuscany is a famous wine-making region and has been since as far back as the Etruscan Empire. It is the third-most planted area of Italy and is suited to viticulture because of its warm climate and hillside vineyards which receive plenty of direct sunlight.
Some of the most well-known Tuscan wines include Chianti, Carmignano, Vernaccia di San Gimignano and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Vin Santo, a dessert wine, is also an acclaimed product of the region.
Wine-tasting and tours are a popular activity for tourists in Tuscany.
San Miniato (population 28,000) is a hilltop town not far from Pisa in Tuscany. The town has existed certainly since Etruscan times, if not longer, and became very important in the Roman period due to its location on three major trade and communication routes: between Florence and Pisa, Lucca and Siena, and Rome and Northern Europe. Not just traders and travellers passed through the town but armies as well – it was therefore fortified as a defensive town, with high walls, towers and a moat. The medieval towers, churches and palaces of the town are well-preserved and much-visited.
The countryside around San Miniato is home to valuable white truffles which are harvested and celebrated every year in an annual truffle festival, held for three weeks in November.
" less than ninety minutes from Abetone "
Abetone is a village in Tuscany, around 80km from Florence. It has a population of 700 and was created as a custom post on the main road between Tuscany and Modena in 1732. The name means ‘large fir’ – the tree was cut down to allow the development of the village. Unusual for Italy, Abetone has been a popular ski resort since the early 20th century and was the birthplace of Zeno Colò, the famous Italian skier.
Drawings of some of Gieves and Hawkes' famous customers - Credit: Gryffindor
Savile Row is a street in Mayfair, central London, running between Vigo Street and Conduit Street. Built between 1731 and 1735, it was named for Lady Dorothy Savile. In the 19th century it became known for its tailors and developed a reputation as the London destination for upper class gentlemen’s outfitters. Whilst none of the original shops remain today, it is still famous for its tailors and a Savile Row label is a mark of a suit of the highest class. Some famous Savile Row tailors include Gieves and Hawkes, Hardy Amies and Henry Poole & Co.