A quiet year on 501 Places

Good intentions and all that… This time last year I wrote a post which, foolishly as it turns out, explained what I thought I’d do with this blog in 2014. “Posts on almost daily basis”, I promised. After an early flourish I’ve barely managed one a month. So what’s happened? For a start, I’ve had a busy […]

Tell-tale signs of a free press flight

There once was a time (long before I started this writing lark) when airlines were only too willing to offer free flights to travel writers. The usual payback for them was a mention in the factbox at the end of the article that would later be produced. The world has moved on and now you […]

What would Lenin say now?

Our journey from Tampere in Finland to Vilnius in Lithuania followed the journey of the Soviet Union, from the early plans for revolution to its grim consequences Lenin first met Stalin in 1905 in the Tampere Workers’ Hall in Finland, the same building which now holds one of the world’s few remaining museums dedicated to the […]

Travel Writing Tales at St Albans Literary Festival

In November St Albans will host its inaugural Literary Festival and as part of the four-day event I’m delighted to be organising the Travel Writing Workshop on Saturday, 8th November at the Cross Street Centre on Upper Dagnall Street. What I’m particularly thrilled about is the opportunity to introduce the visitors to the St Albans […]

A Day Out in Portsmouth

Portsmouth has enjoyed plenty of media attention in the last year or so since the opening of the new Mary Rose museum at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. We decided to have a day out in Portsmouth recently to see the Mary Rose as well as to explore one of the few large towns in the UK which […]

Reasons to fall out with a restaurant

A friend recently asked me for suggestions of where to go and what to do for their upcoming visit to London. As I was typing out a long list of recommended restaurants, it struck me how many restaurants I was consciously leaving off my list; places which were long-time favourites and which for some reason over the […]

Travel responsibly – stay at home

I’d like to travel responsibly. I mean, who wouldn’t? It would be nice to think that wherever I choose to go I make a positive impact on the places I visit while at the same time the process of actually getting there involves me burning up as little fossil fuel as possible. But how do […]

Faroe Islands and the thorny issue of whaling

When I mentioned that I was going to the Faroe Islands last week, several people immediately asked me: “Isn’t that the place where they kill whales?”. Others directly asked whether I would be reporting on the whale hunts. These tiny islands in the North Atlantic, blessed with stunning scenery and an incredible number of sea […]

2014 – A Year of Birds

  It wasn’t meant to be like this. Neither of us have ever been particularly excited by bird watching, apart from the thrill of a rare and fleeting blue flash of a kingfisher on a walk in the country. And yet our travels in the first half of 2014 have been almost exclusively dominated by […]

Japanese Winter Festivals – in photos

It’s been a few months since we visited Japan to experience the winter festivals, but I thought I’d share a few of our photos from our time on Hokkaido, Japan’s northern island. We spent a week in the main city of Sapporo, where the annual festival attracts around 2 million people. We then headed north to […]