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St Albans kingfisher – more photos

When I posted my first set of photos of the St Albans kingfishers back in January, I assumed our good fortune in having these colourful birds frequenting our local park would be short-lived.  Here we are in mid-March and they’re still with us, visible most days along the River Ver as it runs alongside the […]

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Nagano Temple

Zenkoji Temple in Nagano: The High Priestess and the Bumbling Idiot

I’m never at my best first thing in the morning. We’d woken early at our temple lodgings in the Zenkoji temple complex in Nagano. The accommodation in the two-storey wooden house had been basic but the hospitality typically warm. Fearful that the winter nights in such an old place would be uncomfortably cold I’d packed the […]

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Japan and an ongoing affection

For a long time I had the same reaction as many folks when asked to name a favourite country from my travels: “How can I pick a favourite? It’s impossible; they’re all different and each has its own merits.” When we came back from a month in Japan in 2011, I changed my tune and […]

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Collection of Japanese signs

We’re just back from a couple of very enjoyable weeks in Japan and I’ll post several stories from our trip on here in the coming weeks. For now I thought I’d quickly share some of the funny Japanese signs and strange English translations we encountered on our way around the country. I should stress that […]

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The Kingfishers of Verulamium Park in St Albans

We must have walked around Verulamium Park in St Albans hundreds of times, dodging the swans, geese and marauding hordes of small children as we make our way around the lake and along the banks of the River Ver. During that time, we’ve gone out of our way to try and spot kingfishers on our […]

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The changing views from Westminster Bridge

Whenever I see the view of the London Eye from Westminster Bridge I’m reminded of the conmen who often sit along its busy eastern pavement. A line of men and women perform the ages-old scam of inviting punters to guess under which of the three cups they have hidden a ball. The crowd around each […]

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Why the City of London is an open history book

I’ve mentioned this before on this site, but the history you can uncover with even a minimal effort on a walk through London never ceases to surprise me. Take last week for example… We popped into the church of St Martins Within Ludgate, just down from St Paul’s Cathedral, to admire one of the few surviving […]

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A guide to free toilets in London

Having visited London quite literally hundreds of times in recent years and being cursed with a well-documented weak bladder, I’ve often been caught short on my trips around the city. Central London is a haven of presentable and reasonably hygienic toilets and there’s absolutely no reason why you’d ever need to pay any money to […]

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Lake Bled and a memory of never-ending rain

Lake Bled is a place where it never stops raining. At least that’s the way it will appear in my mind whenever I hear or read about it. It was pouring with rain when we boarded the bus in Ljubljana last month; it was raining even harder when we arrived in Bled. By the time […]

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Skopje – dazzling capital or monumental folly?

Take a walk for the first time through central Skopje and you’re bound to scratch your head in bewilderment. Mammoth statues of warriors adorn the main public spaces, while neo-classical palaces dominate the banks of the Vardar river. Figures of dozens of poets, musicians and artists line the bridges and embankments. And the bulldozers and […]

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