I’ve been lucky enough to have travelled all over the world – but it’s always great to come home to Malton in North Yorkshire, where I grew up and where Mum and Dad still have a farm. If there’s one thing Malton hasn’t had for a long time, though, it’s a really good hotel. But that’s all due to change this April when the old Talbot Hotel will re open with 26 rooms and a restaurant overseen by James Martin, after being totally gutted and refurbished (the hotel that is, not James.) Can’t wait.

There are some great independent shops there, such as Boyes (which is how Woolworths used to be ie lots of little nick nacks for bathroom, kitchen and the car at incredibly cheap prices) and Yates which stocks lots of country wear, but also toys, DIY and lots more besides. My favourite though is Woodalls which is an absolute Aladin’s cave of everything to do with the countryside from hiking boots to knives, string, mittens, lamb castrators, brooms….you name it, they could probably dig it out for you.

Having said that, there are also unfortunately a fair few empty shops there at the moment, which is something I have never seen before. The recession is biting. Come and spend your money in Malton!

 

We love to moan in England about winter weather. A couple of inches of snow and we grind to a halt for a week. Minus five? That’s not cold. It’s fresh.

If you really want cold head to Kangos, 150km above the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden where in mid January it’s light from around 9.30am to 2.30pm and the thermometer sinks as low as minus 40c. Now that’s cold.

 

I stayed at the Kangos Guesthouse, which I’d heartily recommend (and which you can book in┬áBritain┬ávia Inntravel), from where you can go cross country skiing, ice fishing, ski mobiling, husky mushing – that’s me above – and, with a bit of luck, see the Northern Lights as a bonus while poaching gently in the outdoor hot tub.

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