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Boath House, Auldearn, Nairn

It’s a relief to know that in an age when hotel chains are expanding as quickly as a politician’s waistline, that there is still the odd bolthole for people who don’t actually like hotels. Boath House, just a short drive from Inverness, is just such a place. Its seriously grand appearance – it’s a curvaceous Georgian house built in 1825 for a fortunate family by the name of Dunbar – belies a warm, relaxed interior of utterly manageable and homely proportions. No reception, no checking in and no fuss.

“We had very young children at the time, so we wanted to create somewhere relaxing so that people wouldn’t feel awkward turning up with children,” says owner Wendy Matheson, who bought Boath House with her husband Don in the mid-90s.

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Checking in to the Bangkok Hilton

Visiting just one of the thousands of Britons jailed abroad can be an enriching experience for both of you, as James Hopkirk discovered

I didn’t know how I would recognise David. As the prisoners filed out of their cells and into the visitors’ compound I tried to make eye contact with any westerners as they shuffled past my window. Eventually a balding, middle-aged man pulled up a chair in front of me, picked up the telephone and introduced himself. We didn’t know each other, and until a few minutes before he didn’t even know he had a visitor. We were meeting for the first time through reinforced glass at Bangkok’s Bangkwang prison.

David is one of more than 2,500 Britons in foreign jails and for him, like many others, visits from tourists and expats constitute much of the contact he has with the outside world.

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