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October 2008




Vip_vacations_039 DESTINATION: ITALY

TV presenter Konnie Huq, 33, relived her carefree student days at a friend's wedding in Italy

"I've been lucky enough to travel the world and see some fairly out-of-the-way places – like Bangladesh and the Bahamas – during my time on Blue Peter.

But my most memorable holiday was closer to home, when I spent five days in the beautiful coastal town of Positano, Italy, two years ago.

The trip was for a friend's wedding to her Spanish boyfriend, but although the ceremony, conducted on a dramatic cliff edge with the sea below, was always going to be magical, it was the other guests who made it such a special break.

Throughout the journey to my sea-view hotel and every time I went out into the winding, cobbled streets, I kept bumping into friends I hadn't seen in years.

I'd stayed in touch with a lot of people from school and university, but apart from the occasional night out, we only kept in contact through email.

So it was great when, for the first time in years, we all found ourselves in this little seaside town. And having grown up a bit since our student days, we swapped cut-price pints for chilled glasses of wine in the sunshine.

After the wedding, as we sat down to a fantastic rustic Italian dinner while the sun set and laughed over old memories, I knew that nothing else had changed and I vowed not to let it be that long until we did it all again."

Flights to Naples, around 20 miles from Positano, cost from £27.99 with easyJet.





He may not be a man mountain, but Top Gear's Richard Hammond, 38, loves scaling the heights on holiday

"I've been going to the Lake District for 20 years – it's my spiritual home. I've travelled all over the world, visiting exotic locations like the North Pole, Japan, Africa and America, but my favourite holiday was in Buttermere.

This summer, my wife Mindy and I took our daughters Isabella, eight, and Willow, five, for a four-day break at the Bridge Hotel, surrounded by the Buttermere Fells.

The girls are still very small but they were desperate to walk up a mountain, so we set off from Buttermere to climb nearby Helm Crag .

It was steep going and it took us hours. But I was amazed the girls kept on. We went past a spectacular waterfall called Sour Milk Gill up to Bleaberry Tarn – a natural mountain lake which serves the stream – where we stopped to have a picnic. It was the perfect place for lunch with the most spectacular views.

By the evening, we were starving and tucked into Lancashire hot pot. Forget five-star cuisine, this was one of the most delicious meals I've eaten.

The following day, the girls decided that having been up a mountain, they now wanted to go inside one too!

At the head of the Honister Pass – one of Cumbria's highest – there's an old working slate mine and we went on a guided tour. Afterwards, they served tea beside a warm fire and looking over at Mindy and our girls' happy smiling faces, I knew then that it was one of the best holidays I'd ever had."

Prices for the Bridge Hotel start from £59 per person.

Top Gear Live takes place in London from October 30-November 2, and in Birmingham from November 13-16. Tickets costs from £28, call 0871 230 7150 to book.




Vip_vacations_036 DESTINATION: ANTIGUA

Ben Fogle, 34, swapped a smelly rowing boat for beach romance – and popped a very important question

"After spending 50 days on a tiny, cramped boat with a very smelly, hairy James Cracknell in the Atlantic Rowing Race, I was desperate for a relaxing holiday.

So as soon as we crossed the finish line in January 2006, my girlfriend Marina and I checked into the Carlisle Bay Hotel on the south coast of Antigua.

I've been lucky to have travelled all over the world, but this holiday is my most memorable for a special reason.

It wasn't just that it was a five-star resort, with all the suites opening onto pure white sands and the turquoise blue ocean.

It wasn't even that it was the perfect place to unwind after our gruelling race – nor that it was so relaxed they didn't bat an eyelid if I had breakfast in my swimming shorts.

What set it apart was that Antigua was where 
I proposed to Marina.

I'd told the hotel I had a very special question to ask her, and my none-too-subtle wink left them in no doubt as to what I was planning.

They packed a picnic for us – nothing more glamorous than tea and sandwiches, as that was what I had missed most during the race – and took us by boat to a deserted island near the hotel.

There, using a piece of string salvaged from mine and James' boat, which I tied into a ring, I proposed – and Marina accepted.

I know it's a cliché, but I don't think I could have found a more romantic setting to ask her to marry me. I just hope that one day we can go back."

A seven-night stay at Carlisle Bay for two people starts from £3,000 (