Sophia Martelli

Eight of the best river cruises

While ocean liners are hardly butterflies, they have a habit of flitting carelessly between countries, often visiting several within a week. A river cruise, however, takes its (relatively few) passengers to the heart of a country, the aim being to seduce with dramatic, ever-changing vistas and evocative insights — cruises for the connoisseur, if you

Exams: the great leap forward

GCSEs have already begun to change, and the A-level revolution comes next year. Sophia Martelli considers who benefits from the new rules – and who doesn’t A year from now, the new A-level curriculum will hit sixth-form classrooms; changes to GSCE have already been partly implemented. The exam reforms initiated by Michael Gove are hailed

South-west Ireland

Of course one feels free on a holiday: that’s what holidays are for. But I have rarely felt freer than when my younger brother, two wild Irish cousins and I, all aged 16 or under, drove across Éire to the south-west tip (with, I should mention, the permission and indeed encouragement of our respective parents).

Travel: Dublin, comeback city

The boom and bust have left their mark on Dublin. Cruising through the outskirts past the (industrial) estate of Sandyford — flimsy-looking buildings, each as nastily designed as the last but in wildly different styles — I double-take at a gigantic half-built multi-storey car park. There are ‘To Let’ signs everywhere and it’s all a

Marseilles: Tough love

Arriving at Marseilles’s Gare St Charles in the early hours of a balmy October night, the first marvel of the city that is pointed out to me — both proudly and affectionately — is a large, well-fed rat that pours itself into a nook in the stone wall of the station. ‘Welcome to Marseilles,’ says

Top buttons

What does the uniform say about a school – and its pupils? Sophia Martelli investigates  Every parent at some stage has to ask themselves: ‘Which school will suit my child?’ It’s a serious matter and no one — surely? — would consider it on the basis of the fetchingness (or not) of the school’s uniform.