Shuffling the deck You’ve probably never played shuffleboard, unless you’ve been on a cruise, and even then the likelihood isn’t high. Along with deck quoits and deck tennis, the game has been sidelined by more creative, and arguably more gratifying, onboard entertainment. The single shuffleboard court on a European cruise I took earlier this year was rarely, if ever, used, and the other two games were not offered at all. On my first cruise, 20 years ago in the South Atlantic, you had to sign up a day in advance for all three, or be faced with a dull lecture on penguins or Napoleon. Now, it seems, shuffleboard is back in vogue – at least in Britain, where the London Shuffle Club will soon open in the Old Truman Brewery, on trendy and tourist-friendly Brick Lane. Craft ales and cocktails will be served to players in smart, retro-styled surroundings amid potted palms, from October 12. Courts can be booked in advance at www.londonshuffle.com.
SHELF LIFE “New guidebooks have their uses, but old ones are much more informative,” says writer and historian Gavin Stamp. “They’re better written, they’re more intelligent and they have much
better maps … and the out-of-date information is in itself quite interesting.” For his excellent, and all-too-brief, television series, Orient Express (2007), the delectably grumpy Stamp took along ancient Guide Bleu, Baedeker and John Murray guides, as well as an 1886 edition of Bradshaw’s Continental Railway Guide. A couple of years later, the colourfully clad former British cabinet minister Michael Portillo began what became a very lucrative career making televised journeys (regularly broadcast in Hong Kong) all over Britain and Europe using old Bradshaw’s guides, mentioning them every five minutes while lamenting the passing of the golden age of travel. His latest series, Great American Railroad Journeys – released on DVD last month – was made with the help of an 1879 Appleton’s guidebook, the American equivalent of Bradshaw’s. I, too, am firmly in the Stamp camp when it comes to old guidebooks. I’ve happily searched in vain for vanished grand hotels in Penang and Singapore, discovered what remains of the 1940s Calcutta club scene, and sought out forgotten art deco cinemas and dance halls in Shanghai. Like-minded travellers can find a trove of original vintage guidebooks for sale at www.ctrarebooks.com. This is the website of the Complete Traveller Antiquarian Bookstore, which was located on Madison Avenue, in midtown Manhattan, until it closed its doors last year. A good facsimile edition of the 1913 Bradshaw’s Continental Railway Guide used by Portillo was published in 2012 and can be found at amazon.co.uk, along with all his TV series and Stamp’s superior Orient Express.
Junior jaunts The Cities Book is the latest in the Lonely Planet Kids series of colourful volumes aimed at encouraging children aged eight and over to explore the world and learn more about their holiday destinations. It contains all sorts of engaging facts and figures about 86 cities around the world, and is a companion volume to The Travel Book, which was released a few weeks ago in the same series and features 200 countries, with a full page dedicated to each. Both books can be previewed and ordered at shop.lonelyplanet.com/childrens-books.
DEAL OF THE WEEK The Horizon Hotel is the entry-level choice with Charlotte Travel’s two-night Kota Kinabalu package. Priced from HK$2,050 per person (twin share) it looks acceptable on its website, and is ranked a surprising seventh out of 89 hotels on TripAdvisor. Rated slightly higher and obviously more comfortable is the Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, which is offered from HK$2,390. Most people, though, fly to this unremarkable Malaysian city to get to nearby resorts, and the better ones on offer here include Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort Spa (from HK$2,650) and the Bunga Raya Island Resort Spa (from HK$3,690). Prices include flights with Dragonair and breakfast, and will be available until December. For reservations, go to www.charlottetravel.com.hk.