Recent Entries

  • Why South to East London can take 6 months

    Not everyone leaves South London to follow the west coast of Africa to East London, a city in South Africa, by public transport. Fewer continue along Africa’s East coast in order to return to their start point. In fact, no one does.   Imagine a really long, mostly uncomfortable but huge...
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  • When London gets too much

    When London gets too much, like it can during the Christmas and post-Christmas sales periods, I’m glad of being able to retreat to Cambridge, an hour’s journey time away. Tired of being struck on the back of the legs by shopping bags, I headed not just to Cambridge, but a little way beyo...
  • London's lost rivers

    Forget the Thames; London has more than just one river. While many have been diverted under London’s streets by means of hidden culverts, some do remain, even if they remain little-known. One of these rivers is the Wandle. Despite its short length it beats the Humber, Severn, and Thames to the...
  • Home in the south of France

    There’s nothing quite like making a foreign city a home, if only for a few days. The discovery of the best patisserie in town, entirely absent of other tourists and staffed by men and women only speaking the local tongue, for instance. I take special pleasure in being able to direct other tour...
  • Beyond El Dorado at The British Museum

    Beyond El Dorado: power and gold in ancient Colombia is The British Museum’s latest paid entry exhibition (the vast permanent collections remain, amazingly, free). It is an excellent example of an exhibition that succeeds in its aim of lifting the lid on one of the world’s forgotten and ...
  • Becoming an adventurer

    Who wouldn’t want to be an adventurer, constantly scouring the earth for lost tribes, intriguing paths, and new species (or even sitting in a small flat desperately searching for additional sources of funding)? Most people with a mortgage to pay, some might respond.   John Lennon one sa...
  • Towns of the south of France

    The south of France is still very visitable at this time of year. It has long been the destination of choice for British holidaymakers to their nearest neighbour. With the expansion of short-haul flights both in the UK and France to smaller airports, as well as high-speed rail routes from London, th...
  • Mapping London: the story of the A to Z

    I tend to take some things for granted, such as the ability to map my path through London, or know exactly where I am and which streets are ahead.   Lost on her way to a party in London’s Belgravia in 1935 because of the outdated nature of the map she was using, Phyllis Pearsall had the...
  • A call to arms: kicking the bucket list

    I have to confess that the idea of a bucket list only entered my consciousness a few months ago, when some graffiti appeared around the corner from my house on the perimeter boarding of a building site. The stencilled writing - white on black - read "Before I die I want to ............" again and ag...
  • No darkness in Sofia

    Everything I knew about Bulgaria (which was nothing) suggested that the country bordering Romania, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey and the Black Sea should be dark and full of sinister bodies intent on greedily removing every possession I owned from about my person.   Banya Bashi Mosque, ...
  • Underground Rome

    I reached the gates of the domus aurea completely incidentally a couple of years ago, while wandering through the ancient ruins and shaded park of Rome’s Esquiline Hill. The Colosseum lay immediately south of the hill, so that it felt as if I could peek over the amphitheatre’s high walls...
  • Crossing 'Bongoland'

    For a brief moment – in between accusations of stolen Zimbabwean elections (you can read my thoughts on what I believe this means for Africa here) and the acid attack in Zanzibar – Gabon made it into the news headlines. Facing accusations of racism for using the phrase ‘Bongo-Bongo...
  • Hidden Istanbul

    While the tourist destinations of central Istanbul were heaving with visitors in the hot July days, the ancient defensive walls of Constantinople were a peaceful contrast. Taking an easy tram ride from the city centre, I was the only visitor to the city’s Theodosian walls, built to protect the...
  • Edirne: Gateway to Turkey

    Edirne, for all its historical and cultural importance, is not on the bucket list of many people I have spoken to. While tourism is of increasing importance to the ancient city’s economy, its population is still more likely to be employed in agriculture or fishing. This means most of the stude...
  • A year of drawing with George Butler

    George Butler, illustrator and adventurer, is good. Everybody says so. He has won a shelf-full of prestigious awards including an International Media Award. He recently won both the Editorial Illustration Award and was named overall winner at this year’s V&A Illustration Awards, for images of ...
  • Tunisia: First-time North Africa

    During my circumnavigation of Africa by public transport (check out my website encircleafrica.org for more on my adventures) I travelled through 31 countries over 13 months; a total distance of 24,442 miles, which is equivalent to circling the Earth at the equator.   One of the countries I en...
  • Kraków and Poznań: Poland’s very different medieval cities

    Kraków, in Poland’s south, is the first experience of Eastern Europe for many tourists. It has been a poster child for Polish tourism since the dissolution of the Soviet Union on 26th December 1991. A visit to Kraków is considered de rigour, and I believe it is also worth planni...
  • Propaganda at the British Library

    Propaganda: Power and Persuasion is the first exhibition to consider the role of nation states in the creation and dissemination of propaganda, both positive – fighting disease by increasing awareness (such as early AIDS campaigns in the late 1980s) and negative – in repression and war. ...
  • The Holocaust Memorial, Berlin

    ‘I toured Europe a couple of years ago: Berlin, Warsaw, Krakow; Auschwitz’ a friend told me. ‘I’ve been to Auschwitz twice.’‘You’ll cry your eyes out’ said another. ‘Exhibits of hair, just piles of human hair; shoes, bags. You should go.’...