Play the world-wide Portofino word game

FROM Crete to Cockermouth, and Sharm el Sheik to Singapore. A restaurant owner has received a bag full of postcards from around the world.

And Hartlepool businessman Krimo Bouabda admits he was astonished after issuing a challenge to travellers to find places that share the name of his business – and receiving more than 60 replies.

Mr Bouabda asked people to find venues which have the same name as his quayside restaurant – Portofino.

A hoax card gave him the idea but since then there's been responses from Hawaii, Adelaide, Grand Cayman and Tenerife.

Others have sent in postcards from Minorca, Rio de Janeiro, Grenada and Fort Lauderdale in the USA.

And there's more still with replies from the Phillipines, Marakech, Singapore, Perth in Aurstalia and 64th Street in New York.

But it's not just restaurants which share the Portofino name. A seaside resort in the Phillipines and even a boat in the Lake District bear the name.

The Portofino Challenge was born in 1998 when Mr Bouabda received a postcard from the mayor of Portofino which turned out to really be a friend on holiday playing a practical joke.

But now with the cards building up Mr Bouabda decided it was time to count them.

He said: "Out of curiosity I counted the cards in the lobby and was pleasantly surprised to find that there are over 60 locations from all over the world – Italy to India, Spain to South Africa.

"This not only shows how far Hartlepool people travel but how popular the name Portofino is for restaurants and hotels."

The postcards have been stapled throughout the lobby of the restaurant on Hartlepool Historic Quay.

Senders have been rewarded with a bottle of wine on their visit to Portofino after proving the card's origins with a photocopy before posting.