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 […]

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 […]

An unremarkable bus journey through northern Kosovo

As border crossing go, it was one of the quickest I’ve ever encountered. A burly policeman boarded the bus, shook hands with the driver, exchanged a few jokes with the passengers at the front and left, waving us through. We had crossed from Serbia to Kosovo or, according to the border police and every one […]

Painting a picture with a thousand words

I’m forever fascinated by the crowds that gather at popular tourist places and the combined obsession with taking thousands of photos of pretty much the same thing. Was it really like this back in the days of film, when 2 rolls of 36 photos would last for a fortnight’s holiday and even allow a token […]

Erm, erm, erm… Mr President

It’s not every day you address the person sitting across the table from you as Mr President. Neither is it every day that you interview a man for whose freedom you marched as a teenager. Whether or not these are sufficient reasons to explain my bumbling questioning of Lech Wałęsa, Poland’s first democratically-elected president after […]

Tall travel stories: are they inevitable?

My wife tells me I always exaggerate (she must have told me this at least a million times). While I’m prone to stretching a point on almost any subject, there’s no doubt that my tallest stories come from travel experiences. It’s an undeniable fact that the exact details of incidents that happened to me when […]

Imber – Britain’s abandoned village

You don’t expect to find a church completely surrounded by a double ring of barbed wire in the heart of the English countryside. But then St Giles is no ordinary church, with very few services and access to the building allowed for a maximum of 50 days a year. For the rest of the time […]

The true British tourism champions (no fancy campaigns required)

It was a story that led me to Aldeburgh in the first place. I recently read Scapegallows by Carol Birch, a book that follows the life of Margaret Catchpole, a feisty young lady who was twice sentenced to hang and eventually shipped off to Australia. Her true-life account is told in the context of the […]

Catalina on Vatersay: a plane wreck with more than one story

If you take a walk around the island of Vatersay in the Outer Hebrides, you’re likely to stumble upon a very interesting discovery, behind which lies a tragic tale. Just off the road (there’s really only one) as it runs around the east of the island you will find a black stone memorial, and scattered […]

Responsible tourism – who does it benefit?

I looked down from the crest of the hill, heart rate slowly settling after a draining climb in the midday heat. A patchwork of fields spread out into the far distance, with only a church spire and a few distant roofs providing a contrast to the shades of green and yellow so typical of the […]