Hang out in stately mansion

Bargain breaks.

Travellers who sit down to dine in Charles and Wendy Wynne-Eyton's stately pile need to have a stronger stomach than most. And that is no reflection on the cooking. The problem is the hook embedded in the ceiling of the long, wood-panelled dining room of their historic home just south of Mold, in north-east Wales.

It was from that very hook that the luckless mayor of Chester was hanged in 1465. But if such gruesome mementoes do not put you off your kippers the Pounds 60 outlay (the cost of BB for two) for a night in one of the Wynne-Eytons' high-ceilinged bedrooms might well be a bargain.

Their idiosyncratic home, Tower (note the missing definite article - it also got the chop some time ago), is one of the properties featured in the Wales: Great Little Places Guidebook. The book is the product of thousands of miles of wanderings by Roger Thomas and Emyr Griffith who believe that they have selected 50 of the best small hotels, farmhouses, country inns and guest houses that the principality has to offer. One of the listed properties, Pantgwyn Farm, in Whitemill, near Carmarthen, is a Welsh winner of the Best Breakfast in Britain award (BB for two Pounds 50). Another is The Lighthouse at Great Orme's Head, near Llandudno. It's pricier than most (BB for two Pounds 79), but apparently on a clear day you can see as far as the Isle of Man. Who would dream of asking for more?

The guidebook is available free from Great Little Places, Prince's Square, Montgomery, Wales SY15 6PZ (tel: 01686 668030).

Tunis is sometimes dismissed as a poor man's Paris, with palm trees. That's rather unkind, but true. You don't have to be rich to live relatively well in Tunisia because a decent meal in the centre of Tunis often costs less than the price of a lukewarm beer in London.

That is one of the reasons why the British have been returning in greater numbers this year - last year only 200,000 of the country's 4 million package holiday-makers came from the UK. The other reason is The English Patient, the Oscar-winning film that has reminded us how photogenic the desert can be, provided you aren't standing at the back of a camel.

The downside of the country's renewed popularity is the explosion in hotel-building, but the developers' worst Majorcan excesses may yet be avoided. The Tunisian authorities have decreed that no hotel should be higher than the tallest palm tree and have suggested that they will be seeking slightly more discerning tourists in future.

TES readers still have time to help them achieve that goal as Panorama is offering a Pounds 395 week-long half-board holiday that starts from Gatwick on Wednesday, August 20. Further information from 0990 181818.

France's over-populated campsites are straining at their canvas seams. Some camping firms say they do not have a single unoccupied tent in Normandy, Brittany and the Loire valley.

But the crush will ease within the next fortnight and prices will begin to tumble. It may therefore make sense to pop across the Channel and snatch a few days at the end of August. Canvas Holidays is charging Pounds 149 for three-day breaks on the Continent starting between August 25 and 27 (the total price for two adults and up to four children, plus ferry crossing). Extra nights cost Pounds 31. But those who are able to set off between August 28 and September 1 can have the same three-day break for Pounds 139 and additional nights for only Pounds 20.

Phone 01383 644000 for a brochure.

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