A sleepless night in the Polish Bieszczady Mountains

I can’t remember spending a more uncomfortable night. I fidgeted constantly in my rigid lower bunk bed, sleeping in short, unsatisfying 20-minute bursts and, worst of all, running at least once an hour, often more frequently, to the loo. By the end of the night I knew every loose floor board in the building; I knew exactly when […]

Sea eagles, Owls and Cranes – Japanese winter birds

  Japan has several claims to fame as a travel destination, but relatively few people think of the country as a wildlife destination. Fewer still choose to brave the bone-chilling temperatures on the northern island of Hokkaido to see the birdlife which is drawn to this harsh winter climate. Yet there we were, certainly not […]

Dunwich – an English town lost to the sea

The main street through the village looks pretty but unremarkable. A pub on the corner giving off the tempting smell of freshly-fried chips; a row of old cottages with a rusty bench in a modest front garden; a stone church with a sleepy, slightly overgrown graveyard. But Dunwich in Suffolk is no ordinary village. Despite […]

Editing – what is it good for?

Given the discussion generated by the previous post I thought it timely to share my experience of writing for editors, along with the benefits and inevitable frustrations. After this I will get back to writing about actual travel, I promise. One of the main criticisms levelled at blogging is in its unedited nature. The freedom to […]

When did blogging lose its soul?

With a small handful of worthy exceptions I rarely read travel blogs any more. Why? PR and marketing folks have firmly identified blogs as great places for them to promote their brands and their clients’ products. When writers (on any platform) get 5-star and Michelin-star carrots dangled before them, then the inevitable result is more […]

A visit to the Japanese snow monkeys

Everyone loves monkeys. Actually no, that’s not strictly true. While many people coo at the sight of seeing our distant cousins pulling funny faces, most of us consider them a pest when they get up to their usual mischief and try to separate us from our snacks and loose camera gear. The macaques that come […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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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