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Stairs in Graz

The perils of trying to making sense out of nonsense

Often I read travel articles and blogs which make an attempt at informed analysis about a place from which the writer has just returned.  And it’s hardly surprising: most of us at some level attempt to make sense of what we see and experience, usually by framing it in the context of our knowledge of our […]

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Surabaya – an unlikely tourist destination

Some cities make a real effort to put on their best face for visitors. And then there are places like Surabaya: gritty, crumbling, and staggeringly chaotic, you’d be hard pushed to find even a local person who would call it beautiful. Few visitors stop to take in its sights such as they are, although thanks […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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