Changes on the cards The first postcard was issued in Austria on October 1, 1869. For years afterwards, senders were required to write their messages on one side of a card and addresses on the other. It was only after the British Post Office allowed addresses and messages to occupy the same side that picture postcards came into fashion. Since then, however, notable changes in postcard design have been few and far between. But ripples have swept through the 'wish you were here' establishment recently with the introduction of the audio postcard. 'It's easier to send, has a more personal message, is delivered immediately and costs at least 60 per cent less than a postcard,' claims www.audiopostcard.net . The website also notes that with traditional cards 'it's hard to find the time to buy them, take the time to jot a note on each one, buy stamps and find a mailbox to put them in'. Such hardship and expense, however, can be sidestepped only by United States residents, although Audio Postcard does have plans for eventual international dissemination. To send an audio missive, you call in your holiday message to a central number and it is sent out to 10 recipients for US$3.95. Listen to this space. City sunbathing It seems tall, tanned, young and lovely will be the Ipanema-inspired look du jour at the Paris Plage this year. Parisian authorities have, in recent years, dumped tonnes of sand on the bank of a stretch of the River Seine in an attempt to recreate a seaside ambience for those unable to visit the Riviera or other coastal locations. This year, however, the Plage will take on a Brazilian theme. From Thursday, the Seine will echo to the strains of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Jo?o Gilberto, whose lilting melodies will liven up the capital's murky aquatic artery until the end of August. While the concept is an original and popular one, the main drawback seems to be that beachgoers are not allowed even to dip a toe in the river. Sound advice 'So welcome to Noo Yawk, food capital of da woyld' comes the enthusiastic introduction to Virgin Atlantic's new Podcast guide to the city. Podcasting, for the uninitiated, is the wireless downloading of radio content onto an MP3 player, and Virgin has begun offering free audio city guides to anyone, not just their customers, who visits www.virginatlantic.com/podcast and downloads the necessary software. Users can register to have future updates downloaded automatically. New York is the only destination available at present, but more are on the way. Highland getaway An invitation to be 'charmed' by a Tudor-style boutique resort might not sound appealing, but coming as it does from Malaysia's picturesque Cameron Highlands this is an offer that deserves some attention. Having just re-opened after a six-week renovation, The Lakehouse (right) is enticing guests with a two-night package for two starting at RM$750 ($1,500). While regulars of this 18-room, English-style property might wince at the thought of newly installed satellite television feeds in the Cameron Bar and Highlander Lounge, newcomers will doubtless appreciate the much-needed upgrade in furnishings. Visit www.lakehouse-cameron.com for more information or to make a reservation. Inflight savings An oft-quoted conversation-starter among airline-watchers and trivia-quiz contestants is that in 1987 American Airlines saved US$40,000 by removing one olive from each of the salads served to its first-class customers. Seemingly encouraged by this statistic, Northwest Airlines recently withdrew the free 15-gram bag of pretzels offered on domestic services. From now on, peckish passengers will have to hand over US$1 for a 90-gram bag of mixed nuts and raisins, thereby saving the carrier a reported US$2 million a year. American carriers are also trying to make an extra buck with some aggressive advertising - not of the airlines themselves but of other products and services being peddled inflight. American West, for example, is taking in-your-face promotions to new levels by selling space on its seat-back tray tables to several companies, including Bank of America and Saab, whose logo is also featured on American West's paper napkins. Alaska Airlines cabin crew have been using their captive audiences to promote Bank of America credit cards by handing out application forms, as have the staff of US Airways, who receive US$50 for every new customer they sign up. Deal of the week Charlotte Travel is selling a four-night package to the Sri Lankan capital Colombo for $5,080. This includes one night at the Taj Samudra ( www.tajhotels.com ), Colombo Plaza ( www.thecolomboplaza.lk ) or Hotel Galadari (galadarihotel.com), and three nights at the Mount Lavinia Hotel ( www.mountlaviniahotel.com ) south of the city. This striking colonial-style property, once known as the Mount Lavinia Grand Hotel, was built as the residence of the British governor in 1810 and is a favourite with many regular visitors to the country. Round-trip, economy-class flights are with Singapore Airlines via Singapore. The reason for the first night being spent at a different hotel is the midnight arrival time. This price will be valid from August 14 until the end of October. Travellers flying before then pay a high-season surcharge of $700. Breakfast is included, as are private transfers between the airport and hotels. For details and reservations contact Charlotte Travel on 2110 6070, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .