Fully Alive

Here are some of the places I have stayed or shops and restaurants I have visited and really enjoyed over the years.

Blackpool, Lancashire
A J's Bistro: far and away the best place to eat in Blackpool

Belgium: Bruges
De Proeverie, Tea Room & Sukerbuyc Chocolaterie
De Vlaamsche Pot, Restaurant
Van Tilborgh, Handmade Pralines & Confiserie: Noordzandstraat 1, 8000 Brugge - superb, but now sadly closed.
Monasterium De Wijngaard, Oud Begijnhof, the Monastery of the Vineyard in the old Beguinage, which is now home to my good friends of many decades, the Benedictine sisters under the patronage of Our Lady of the Vine. They maintain the office in Latin and Gregorian chant.

Belgium: Chevetogne
Monastery of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the Latin-Byzantine monastic community founded by Dom Lambert Beauduin, of which I am an oblate

Belgium: Namur
Chateau de Namur, the house above the citadel, high above the city and the confluence of the Meuse and the Sambre, is a catering and hospitality training institute for the Province of Namur - with a fine restaurant and 24 rooms.

Belgium: Tongeren
Herberg de Horne at Vechmaal-Heers - restaurant and banqueting house set in a garden. Very close to the famous Hex Castle, with its June and September garden and plant shows.

Belgium: Westvleteren
Trappist Abbey of St Sixtus: not far from the border from Ostende and Calais - a good monastic Visitors' Centre, and award-winning Trappist beers at In De Vrede shop and restaurant

Brighouse
Waterfront Lodge Hotel and Prego Restaurant - just in case you need to stay in this part of Yorkshire, there is a direct train from Euston. Not bad, good Saturday market, and many pie shops.

Chichester
Field & Fork, fresh food restaurant, near the theatres, but behind the hotel - and better

Edinburgh, Scotland
Apex Hotels, in the Grassmarket - the City or the International
Petit Paris, French Bistro & Wine Bar in the Grassmarket

Exeter, Devon
Rendezvous Wine Bar and Restaurant, a gem hidden in a basement in Southernhay

France: St Tropez
Le Café, Place des Lices - a new menu every day, reasonably priced, where everyone meets - high and low, rich and poor
Caprice des Deux, 40, rue du Portail Neuf - wonderful cuisine, warm welcome, open all year - seemingly where the local people go for an evening to celebrate

Glasgow, Scotland
Carlton St George Hotel: the only place I like to stay in Glasgow. Good restaurant and splendid hospitality
Two Fat Ladies Restaurants
Sarti, Wellington Street, Ligurian & Tuscan cuisine

Germany: Koblenz
Hoelzenbein Rheinschiffahrt - ignore the ubiquitous Koeln-Duesseldorfer river trip chain, go for this local firm that takes in the Loreley and Ruedesheim and all the charming Rhineside castles and towns  from the Mosel to the Rheingau, with bar and restaurant service at table.

Hastings, Sussex
Rock-a-Nore Fishmongers & Smokehouse

India: Ahmedabad, Gujarat
The House of Mangaldas Girdhardas: boutique hotel and prime restaurant for Gujarati cuisine. Without doubt, the greatest hotel I have ever stayed in.

Italy: Fiumicino Town
Trattoria della Marina, via Torre Clementina 140, closed Thursdays, except public holidays

Italy: Florence
Quattro Leoni: fine restaurant of local cuisine and wines, hidden away in the south of the city on the way to the Borgo Santo Spirito
Trattoria Za-Za - really good atmosphere, on the Piazza Mercato Centrale
Villa Gamberaia, Settignano. Delightful gardens and water parterre overlooking Florence. Forget the crowds at Fiesole. Take a direct bus from San Marco and a short walk to the villa.

Italy: Montegabbione, Umbria
Il Gatto Giallo: an "agriturismo" not far from Fabro, with luxurious accommodation and delicious food.
La Scarzuola: Tomaso Buzzi's idealised City, realised in a complex of open-air theatres amid gardens in the grounds of the former Franciscan monastery where St Francis is believed to have undergone the spiritual experience of levitation. The Friary church has been lovingly restored by my friend Brian Pentland. I had the great privilege and delight of celebrating my Silver Jubilee with a mass there.

Italy: Monte Porzio Catone, Colli Albani
Il Romoletto: Restaurant and cantina. Really good local and home-made produce

Italy: Nemi
Bar Belvedere: go through the town, past the castle, beyond the gates and into the gardens - wonderful view over the Lake, homemade snacks - really worth it. Closed Tuesdays

Italy: Orvieto
La Pergola, via dei Magoni, 9B, closed Wednesday

Italy: Paliano
La Lanterna: on the main viale in the centre as you drive through - home made pastas and ice creams, locally cured meats - tourists are rare, but if you take the back road to Rome from Subiaco, this is a welcome and welcoming place

Italy: Pisa
Il Campano - trattoria in an old tower in the markets. Closed Wednesdays and Thursday lunch. Really good - try and get a table in the upstairs room or the Enoteca downstairs.
Osteria del Tinti - recommended from London by Il Convivio

Italy: Pontine Plain & Circeo, Lazio
Cantina Sant'Andrea: winery famous for its prize-winning dry Moscato di Terracina
Giardini di Ninfa: stunning water gardens in the Caetani family's ruined city
Punta Rossa: beautiful hotel in gardens and restaurant by the shore of the Tyrrhenian Sea

Italy: Ravenna
Palazzo Galletti Abiosi: outstanding hotel
Ristorante Ca' De Ven

Italy: Roma
Buca di Ripetta, excellent restaurant between the Piazza del Popolo and the Ara Pacis
Caffe Ciampini, Piazza Trinita dei Monti, at the top of the Spanish Steps and left. Higher prices, but wonderful view on a terrace overlooking the City, and a courtyard round a turtle pool.
Cantina Tirolese, South Germanic restaurant in Rome near the Vatican
Da Sabatino, Restaurant, Piazza Sant'Ignazio
Enoteca La Bevitoria, Piazza Navona. If you are thinking of treating yourself to a pricier lunch venue for the sake of the view, think again. Service charge, plus (now illegal) 'pane e coperte' and being harangued for not leaving a cash tip on top. Instead, go to the excellent Ciampini al Café du Jardin at the top of the Spanish Steps and left. It costs a little more, but the air and the views over Rome make it a delight.
Gelateria del Teatro, hard to find, but just in a little alley off the Via dei Coronari, not far from the church of San Salvatore in Lauro
Moriondo & Gariglio, chocolatier. Via del Pie di Marmo 21-22, 00186 Roma
San Crispino, gelateria. Delicious home made ice creams and sorbets, strictly seasonal. Near the Fontana di Trevi

Italy: Santa Marinella
Glem, fine dining in the Piazza Civitavecchia
L'Isola, good modest, classic B&B in the market square by the castle and two other restaurants
Molo 21, wonderful fish restaurant on the sea front at the hotel Le Naiadi, with bathing "stabilmente"

Italy: Tivoli
Ristorante Sibilla

Italy: Trevignano Romano, Lazio
Il Giardino degli Aranci: magical restaurant on the shore of the Lago di Bracciano. Closed Monday

Italy: Tuscania
La Torre di Lavello: Trattoria- Pizzeria, beautifully situated and finely composed menus of local Tuscan-Northern Lazio cuisine. Via Torre de Lavello 27, 01017 Tuscania (VT). 0761.434258. Closed Wednesday.

London
About Thyme, Restaurant on Wilton Road, Pimlico
Bar+Kitchen, Restaurant behind the Old Vic, Waterloo
Bar61, Streatham Hill, South London business of the year for 2011
Bar Americain at the Brasserie Zedel, Sherwood Street W1
Brasserie Toulouse-Lautrec, French cuisine, and live jazz in the wine bar every evening
Clos Maggiore: Restaurant, Covent Garden
E & A Wates, Furniture & Upholsterers, Streatham
Fino's Wine Cellar, subterranean classic Italian restaurant seeminly in a complex of caves and cellars in Mayfair
Fish Tale, fishmongers on Leigham Court Road, Streatham Hill
Grumbles, Restaurant, Pimlico
Gustoso, Restaurant, Victoria
Haz Wine & Dine, Turkish cuisine, Houndsditch
Il Convivio, outstanding and inventive Italian cuisine in Belgravia and the City
James of London, Tailors & Alterations, 32 Upper Tachbrook Street, London SW1V 1SW
Mele e Pere, ideal pre-theatre restaurant, Brewer Street, close to Piccadilly Circus
Norfolk Arms, better than anything on Kings Cross or St Pancras Station - a fusion of pub and tapas bar
Ognisko: The Polish Club and Restaurant, Kensington
Rasa, Vegetarian Cuisine of Kerala, N16 and W1
Reds Bar and Grill, Wimbledon Broadway - far better for pre-theatre than even the Gourmet Burger next door
Secret Garden Centre, Upper Norwood
Sunday, 169 Hemingford Road, N1 1DA - "near perfection," according to the Independent - 10/10 well deserved
Tartufo, 11 Cadogan Gardens, SW3 2RJ.
Truc Vert, 42 North Audley Street, W1K 6ZR. Pleasing, independent French bistrot in Mayfair.

Netherlands: Maastricht
Eetcafe Ceramique, Rechtstraat 78

Northiam, Sussex
Great Dixter House & Gardens: Heaven on earth, this is pinnacle of gardening

Orford, Suffolk
Lady Florence River Cruise Restaurant
Richardson's Smokehouse

St Leonard's on Sea, East Sussex
St Benedict Victorian Bed & Breakfast, an amazing step back in time with old fashioned comfort

South Africa: Durban
Teremok, beautiful small hotel near Umhlanga Rocks

South Africa: Johannesburg
Rosebank Lodge Guest House

Spain: Alicante
Darsena, Tapas on the Marina

Spain: Cordoba
Hotel Conquistador, right beside the Mezquita-Catedrale

Sri Lanka: Galle
Galle Hilltop, serene guesthouse in the hills above Galle, ideal retreat from and access to the town, the Fort and the beaches, as well as tours further afield
Amangalla Hotel - hotel, cool terrace and fine restaurant on Church Street in the Fort
Fortaleza - another good hotel with a lovely restaurant in the Fort

Sri Lanka: Bentota
Lunuganga, Dedduwa - house and gardens of the celebrated architect Geoffrey Bawa - an elevated rural retreat

Sweden: Goteborg
Fiskekrogen, the "best fish restaurant in Sweden" - it's hard to doubt it. In The Producers, Ulla says, "Ulla eat big Swedish breakfast. Many different herrings" - I had four types.

Sweden: Jarna/Nyvark/Soedertaelje
Bommersvik - Social Democratic Conference and Study Centre, with a marvellous, organic, locally-sourced products restaurant overlooking Lake Yngern

Sweden: Stockholm
2 Kronor City Hotel, Kammakargatan 62, 11124 Stockholm

Turkey: Istanbul
Borsam Tasfirin, Rihtim Caddesi, Resim Efendi Sokak, 1, Kadikoy, in the market at Kadikoy on the Asian side. Wonderful Turkish pizzas.
Cheers Hostel, next to the Zeynep Sultan Hotel at no 21. Not so much for staying at as for the excellent bar at the top, evidently an open secret found by accident.
Hamdi Restaurant, Tahmis Caddesi Kalcin Sokak, 11, Eminonu. Excellent kebabs
Kadi Nimet Balkicilik, Tarihi Balikcilar Carsisi Serasker Caddesi, 10A, Kadikoy - the greatest fish shop and restaurant in Istanbul - on the Asian side, in the market at Kadikoy
Krependeki Imroz, Nevizade Sokak, 16 Balikpazan-Beyoglu, Istanbul - in the fish market off Pera Street (Istiklal Caddesi). Greek owned - really good.
Nazahat Gokyigit Botanic Gardens - Great Dixter and every habitat in Turkey meet amid the motorway islands outside Istanbul
Tarihi Sultanahmet Koftecisi, Divanyolu Caddesi, 12, just up from Sultanhmet Square - the place for kofte
Zeynep Sultan Hotel, Zeyned Sultan Camii Sokak, 25, Sultanahmet, Istanbul. A lovely small hotel, very reasonable and just across from Aya Sofya

USA: New York
Cafe Un Deux Trois - for a wicked Elderflower Gimlet
Max Brenner Chocolate Restaurant

USA: San Francisco CA
Les Joulins Jazz Bistro
Lori's Diner

USA: Santa Barbara CA
Carlito's: Mexican Restaurant

USA: Santa Monica CA
Hotel Carmel by the Sea

USA: Washington DC
Pitango Gelato - great ice cream parlour