Gallery: cosy coffee breaks around the world
Sometimes it seems as if Starbucks is taking over the world. Wherever we travel, apart from in North Korea of course, we come across branches of this ubiquitous chain. But we don't go in. Even at home it’s a place we choose to avoid, preferring to support our local independent coffee shops. And when we travel the same rule applies. Even in Seattle, the birthplace of Starbucks, we refused to visit the first ever branch in Pike Place.
Some short stories from the Hermit Kingdom
We visited many strange and wonderful places on our tour of North Korea. But this is a short story about a place we didn’t visit. The Hungnam fertiliser factory was first established in Hungnam by the Japanese in 1927 and reopened by the Koreans after having been destroyed in the Korean War.
Gallery: Majolica, the ceramic tiles of Seville
Spain, along with its neighbour Portugal, is home to some of the most beautiful tilework in the world, and much of it originates in Seville. Or more accurately, in the Seville barrio of Triana. Known as Majolica, or sometimes Talavera, after the ceramic centre of Talavera de la Reina in Castilla, these tiles have been produced in this country for hundred of years. Made initially for churches and palaces, the art later spread to homes, adorning floors and walls.
Friendly Friday: meet some amazing guides (part two)
As I said last week, this is the last in this series of Friendly Friday: meet … challenges, as I’m planning a shake-up for the New Year. So I’m finishing the series by introducing you to some of the most amazing, wonderful, helpful and knowledgeable guides I’ve met on my travels.
The bliss of returning to the air
I believe I’ve mentioned once or twice in this blog that I love travelling! It’s the thing I’ve most missed during the past two years, when the world has been turned upside-down. Yes, I know that sadly worse things have happened to very many people than a few missed trips abroad. But the fact remains, I’ve missed travelling, and I know many others have felt the same.
Gallery: what’s in a name? Burgundy / Beaujolais / Ruby reds
A brief extract from one of my favourite poems by one of my favourite poets to introduce a gallery of burgundy-red images. Of course this colour takes its name from a red wine, the French Burgundy, but we might just as well use the name of any other red wine to describe it. Indeed, according to Wikipedia, the French themselves tend to instead call the colour Bordeaux!
Friendly Friday: meet some amazing guides
A local guide can make or break the travel experience. A good one will not only smooth the path and tell you about the sights you are seeing, they will also share something of themselves. Spending time together you will get to know each other and learn more about the country than you ever would from reading guidebooks, from the perspective of someone who lives there. They will be able to introduce you to some insider secrets: a little-known site; a café or bar frequented only by locals; a short…
A look inside the Grand People’s Study House
Nearly all the great buildings and monuments of Pyongyang were built to mark a significant event linked to the Great Leaders, usually a birthday; and Kim Il Sung was especially fortunate on his 70th to be honoured with three such gifts. This special event was marked with a grand library, a triumphal arch and a tower.
Looking for Thomas Hardy in Dorset
It would be hard to visit Dorset without at some point coming across the name of novelist and poet Thomas Hardy. He is inexplicably linked to the county, so many places in which featured in his novels. On a recent visit to the county I found links to Hardy everywhere.
Ruislip Woods: ancient woodland in suburbia
When the Domesday Book was written, in 1086, what is now the pleasant London suburb of Ruislip was known as Rislepe, ‘leaping place on the river where rushes grow’. The book also tells us that it had more pigs than human inhabitants. These pigs roamed the extensive woodlands; and Ruislip Woods remain to this day, although smaller than they once were.