Interviews

'If I can do it, you can do it too': meet Belinda Bennett, the world's first black female cruise ship captain

Rewind 200 years and the only women found on a cruise ship were the carved wooden figureheads of topless ladies (an offering to the oceans in exchange for calm weather), attached to the bow. Women had no place onboard because they were believed to be bad luck on ships, while their presence was said to distract the sailors and steer them off course. 

Not that Belinda Bennett – the world’s first black woman cruise ship captain – let the antiquated idea that women don’t belong at sea, break her stride. 

Ahead of Mothering Sunday, we caught up with the woman who joins Serena Melani (the first woman to captain a new cruise ship) and Kate McCue (the first American woman to captain a giant cruise vesse), in helping make cruise ship history. 

Read the interview here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/cruises/articles/-if-i-can-do-it-anyone-can-do-it-meet-belinda-bennett/

Sophia Loren: ‘What brings me joy? A nice walk with a friend. I’m an easy person to please’

The legendary Italian actress, 84, has become a godmother again – to her 14th cruise ship, the £1bn MSC Bellissima. Ahead of the star-studded naming ceremony for Bellissima the screen star spoke to Telegraph Cruise about family, films and being low maintenance.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/cruises/articles/seven-minutes-at-sea-with-sophia-loren/

Talking Travel: Ecuador

Ecuador maybe small, but there's no shortage of things to see - from snow covered mountains to Amazonian rainforest and incredible wildlife - in this small Andean nation. 

For an insight into Ecuador, tune into ‘Talking Travel’ at Women's Radio Station later this month - where Ecuadorian, Monica Alexander, will be revealing why if homeland isn’t on your bucket list, it’s because you have already been…...

Womensradiostation.com

Touring Bird: London

Take a dip in a London landmark: Brockwell Lido

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When the sun is shining, few things are as appealing as London’s open air swimming pools, with the art deco lidos – built in the first 30 years of the 20th century – of particular interest.
Ask any Londoner for their favourite lido and chances are they’ll answer: Brockwell Lido.
This much-loved local landmark has been at the heart of the local community since 1937 and houses an Olympic size 50-metre outdoor swimming pool, Jacuzzis, and saunas in an Art Deco Grade II listed building. (People flock to this Dulwich Road spot as much to admire the beautiful 1930s art deco design as to actually enter the water).
Feeling hungry after all that swimming? Look to the lovely Lido Cafe which offers freshly ground coffee and a fabulous menu focused on seasonal produce.
 

Get a culture fix at the world's oldest grand music hall: Wilton’s

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Looking for a London culture fix? Leave the West End to the masses and make for Wilton’s Music Hall, a true hidden gem that’s situated down a small pedestrian path called Graces Alley.
The oldest – and arguably most loved – grand music hall in the world, Wilton’s completed a £2.5 million renovation in 2015, while losing none of its rustic charm.
Today the Victorian music hall stages a year round programme of exceptional live music and world-class productions in a Grade 2 Star listed building.
Theatre not your bag? Stop in for a swing dance class, history tour given by passionate heritage experts who work full time at Wilton's raising funds to save one of London’s most beautiful buildings, or perhaps just a drink and bite to eat in one of Wilton’s two bars.

 

Eat your way around SW9: Brixton Village

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Planning on paying Brixton – the birthplace of David Bowie – a visit?
Arrive with an appetite because Brixton's dining scene is among the most dynamic in London thanks largely to Brixton Market. 
This covered arcaded under the railway arches, underwent a renaissance back in 2009 when empty market stalls were leased for free for three months to encourage new restaurateurs.
The result? The original Caribbean stalls (Brixton isn’t known as ‘London’s little Jamaica’ for nothing) have been joined by bakeries, artisan coffee shops, Mexican, Thai spots and even a champagne bar – and half the fun is taking a chance on any place you like the look of.
Standouts include Federation Coffee for brunch and, as its name suggests, a great cup of coffee, Fish, Wings and Tings for a taste of the West Indies and KaoSarn for tasty Thai fare, at prices that won’t break the bank.

Quaff cocktails against a backdrop of St Paul’s Cathedral: Madison, One New Change

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There can’t be many, if any, better rooftop terraces in London than Madison.
Perched on the penthouse spot of One New Change (a stunning glass shopping centre designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect, Jean Nouvel), this rooftop terrace overlooks the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral and boasts supreme views of the London skyline. 
You can drink in more than the views at the bar and lounge which serves small plates and top notch cocktails. Two to try include the signature Madison Garden (cucumber, Death’s Door vodka, Kamm & Sons, Regal rogue lively white) and the cheekily named Hot bitch martini (sweet vanilla vodka flavours, passion fruit liquor and plenty of prosecco), which is designed to be shared with friends.
There’s also a more formal restaurant serving superb grills and and slow cooked classics.
The rooftop space can be enjoyed year round thanks to Madison’s umbrellas and heaters.

Catch a film at an independent cinema: The Ritzy Cinema

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Whether you’re into arty flicks, subtitled shenanigans or Hollywood blockbusters, there’s a seat in the dark with your name on it at The Ritzy Cinema.
Built in 1910, this Grade 11 listed building shows an eclectic mix of films on its five screens. But this Brixton institution doesn’t just attract filmgoers. Drinkers and foodies flock to its bars and cafe, the latter of which spills onto Windrush Square whose name commemorates the arrival of the Empire Windrush from Jamaica in 1948, and a new era of Caribbean settlement in post-war Britain.
Meanwhile Upstairs at The Ritzy always has something interesting going on from complimentary live music (think blues, jazz and reggae) to dance lessons, club nights, stand up shows and exhibitions.
Bottom line? The Ritzy Cinema is the cornerstone of Brixton’s community.

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Sip in secret: Evans & Peel Detective Agency

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London has fallen hard for the speakeasy trend. Consequently you’ll find speakeasy (the word was first coined in the US during the prohibition era, when the sale of alcohol was generally illegal from 1920 to 1933) bars across the capital but the most hidden is Evans & Peel Detective Agency.
Located on the cusp of zone two but less than a five minute stumble from Earls Court tube station – the first London station to install escalators in 1911 – this is where Londoners head when they want to pretend it’s Prohibition time in the 1920s.
However in order to enter the bar that’s disguised as a detective agency, you'll have to convince the person in the ‘office’ that your case is worth investigating. Pull that off and you’ll be rewarded with a brilliant cocktail bar: the Old Fashioneds are a particular highlight.

Fall for football: Wembley Stadium

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Football. You can’t escape it, especially in London which must have more clubs than any city in the world. 
However the one trip that every true football fan must make is to Wembley. This 90,000 capacity stadium, is renowned around the world for its iconic, 134m high arch that towers over the North stand, and has hosted some of football’s biggest spectacles: think England’s glorious World Cup victory in 1966, Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona’s stunning UEFA Champions League triumphs or the historic ongoing tradition of The FA Cup Final.
The excellent 75 minute Wembley Stadium tour takes you behind-the-scenes of what footballing legend, Pele, once called “the cathedral of football, the capital of football and the heart of football”.
Expect to see inside the dressing rooms, press room and players’ tunnel, and be taken pitch-side before climbing upto the iconic Royal Box to have your photograph taken with a replica of the world-famous FA Cup.
All told if you're a football fan, you won't regret making a pilgrimage to the beautiful game's spiritual home (that's as famous as the players it welcomes), unless you forget your smartphone.

Drink like Winston Churchill: Effra Social

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Situated on the site of a former local Conservative club, the Effra Social (not to be confused with the nearby Effra Hall Tavern), now appeals to a different party faithful. 
It’s out with politics and in with DJs and bands, one of Brixton’s best Quiz nights, book clubs, cinema clubs, comedy and poetry – all of which fill this Effra Road hot spot each week.
Yet while the Brixton boozer is no longer tied to its political past, its walls are still painted Tory blue and lined with memorabilia: think portraits of prominent local party members, club posters and old correspondence.
Fans of Churchill won’t want to miss the carefully restored Churchill Lounge, with its flock wallpaper, fireplace and own bar, where Britain’s wartime leader used to enjoy a tipple or two.
effrasocial.com/bookings

View my London tips for Touring Bird at: touringbird.com/london/activities/insider_tip/Kaye%20Holland