Watching traffic on the New York high line

When we returned to New York in Dec 2012 for our first visit in 8 years, one of the most welcome changes was the opening of the High Line, an all-too-short but pleasant stretch of urban parkland running above the rooftops of the Chelsea district of Manhattan. While you might think the aim of a […]

Brighton Pavilion

The strange sight of Brighton Pavilion ice rink

Brighton Pavilion doesn’t fit in easily with its surroundings even at the best of times. How do you make a building that would look more at home in India than on the English south coast appear even more incongruous? Stick an ice-rink in front of it of course.

Fun Store Majuro

Welcome to the house of fun

Sometimes it’s tempting to wonder if people exist purely to act as a prop for the perfect photo. The appearance of the Fun Store in Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands, is probably enough to qualify it for the award of The World’s Most Inappropriately Named Shop. In case there was any lingering doubt, […]

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

Sometimes it’s important to know the full story behind a photo; at other times, as in this case, it really doesn’t matter. I can’t remember what this lady and her children were looking at, but judging by their expressions it was certainly of more interest than the stranger who was pointing a camera in their […]

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 […]

A new look for 501 Places in 2014

2013 was a quiet year on 501 Places. I barely published 30 posts in the whole year and anyone who was paying attention and cared would be forgiven for thinking that the site was in terminal decline. Wednesday marks a new year and with it, an excuse to start afresh with new enthusiasm for this […]

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 […]

2013 – a year of travel, near and far

19 countries, 22 flights and around 100 nights away from home – whichever way I look at it 2013 has been my busiest ever year of travel. Most of my travels were made on the back of pre-commissioned work, but a few were done just for fun (because everyone needs a holiday). My wife Sam […]

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 […]

Taxi drivers and the inevitable ‘tourist tax’

Almost every foreign trip is going to involve taking a taxi at some point. It’s also true that wherever you go, there’s a high chance that you’ll step out of at least one taxi knowing that you’ve paid too paid for the ride. Taxi drivers appear to have an exemption from the universal code of […]