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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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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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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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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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No comment – switching off the conversation on 501 Places

Engagement. It’s all about engaging your readers (or, if you use the lingo of the day, your fans). That’s what the brands want too; they’re looking for travel blogs that have a strong relationship and level of trust with their audience. The story goes that if a blogger shares their experience of a marvellous new product […]

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Knocking on doors in search of a good story

I’m sure many writers will identify with this. Your story gets published and while you might be pleased with the finished article there’s something that the readers will never know: that what you’ve shared with the reader is only half of the story. Indeed the untold back story to an article is often more illuminating […]

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