Tag Archives: Travel

Recently

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Just a quick note about recent work—I was delighted to hear earlier this month that I’d been shortlisted for feature writer of the year at the Scottish Magazine Awards for my work on the equestrian magazine EQY. It was a wonderful evening, and although in the end the title went to the very deserving Pennie Taylor, a former BBC health correspondent, I was pleased to see my writing on the shortlist.

Elsewhere, I’ve written another dispatch for the Guardian’s Country Diary, this time from the far northeastern corner of the country, at Duncansby Head near John O’Groats, where I was lucky to come across a seal colony during the pupping season and hear their haunting siren song. (Full text can be found on the Guardian website).

I was fortunate enough to be commissioned to do a series of reviews of some of Scotland’s top hotels, in remote and beautiful areas of the country, for the Telegraph. Our stay at Arisaig House was blissful—helped no doubt by an invigorating swim at the silver sands at Camusdarach, in the clear winter sun—while Torridon House offered ultra-luxe accommodation in a most perfect location down by the lochside. Ardanaiseig House, near Oban, was a perfect romantic getaway (in a secluded country house decorated in flamboyant style by a noted antiques dealer), while Natural Retreats in John O’Groats was a bastion of Copenhagen cool in a part of the country that, to put it kindly, is not well known for its style. Continue reading

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A weekend in Casablanca

I visited the Moroccan port of Casablanca recently, and wrote it up for the Independent’s “48 hours in…” slot. Top tips: a tour of the awe-inspiring Hassan II Mosque, which sits out over the ocean on a rocky outcrop, then an aperitif at the stylish Rick’s Cafe, followed by dinner in the open air at La Sqala, amid the ramparts of an 18th century fort.

Full text of my article is available on the Independent’s website here, or after the fold.

Continue reading

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48 hours in… Jakarta

48 hours in Jakarta - Independent

I recently stopped off in Jakarta and took the opportunity to write this article for The Independent’s “48 hours in…” travel slot.

Most travellers will bustle through the city on their way to the beach or the rainforest, but take the time to explore over a weekend if you ever have the chance. I was visiting my friend Emma, who works for the wonderful Green Initiative Foundation, an NGO which seeks to find more sustainable livelihoods for communities living in areas of vulnerable rainforest.

Full text of the article can be found on the Independent’s website here, or after the fold. Continue reading

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Truffle hunting in Istria

Istria food tour

My reward for winning the Independent on Sunday/Bradt travel writing prize last year was a ludicrously luxurious tour of Istria, the Croatian peninsula, and a commission to write it up for the IoS travel section. We hunted for truffles with dogs, tasted dozens of different wines and ate until we couldn’t eat any more.

It was published last weekend – find the full text on the Independent’s website here, or after the fold. Continue reading

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A weekend in Melbourne

48hrs in Melbourne - IndependentI’ve been in Australia this month to do some research and took the opportunity to explore Melbourne for the ’48 hours in…’ slot for The Independent’s travel section.

What an excellent city – brunch, beach, sun, galleries, bikes, artists’ markets, cocktails on rooftop terraces. Top recommendations: brunch in the sun at The European (opposite parliament), swim in the sea baths in St Kilda, then head to Cumulus Inc for supper & fine wine.

Full text is available on the Independent’s website here, or after the fold.

Continue reading

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Marked ‘private and confidential’

Internet cafes serve up secrets

Last week I worked on a Sunday Times investigation into data breaches at internet cafes. Three reporters checked internet cafe computers around the country to see whether confidential data had been left in the computer memories.

And how. Simply by checking the desktop, documents and ‘my pictures’ folder, we stumbled across a treasure trove of private information: scanned copies of passports, visa applications, birth certificates, legal documents; a report from the editor-in-chief of a well-known property magazine detailing its legal struggles with a “confessed reformed cocaine addict”; a fax to a resident at the Dorchester referring to ‘the hostage situation in Cameroon’ and several databases of names, addresses and private details of vulnerable individuals left by care workers or civil servants.

The chain Mailbox Etc were the worst offenders, with no log-in/out process and irregular wiping of computer memories. I found documents dating back to mid 2012 on some machines. Many small independent cafes were among the best, such as the L2K Internet Gaming Centre in Manchester, which restricted users’ access to the computer memory.

The Information Commissioner announced that it would be investigating a number of bodies for a breach of confidentiality as a result of our investigation.

Full text is available on the Sunday Times website here, or after the fold. Continue reading

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Living in darkness

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I’ve written an essay about living through the polar night for Prospect magazine. Here in Enontekiö, in the far north of Finland, the sun goes down on 6 December and is not seen again for a month.

The picture above was taken on my iPhone while I waited with my stalled snowmobile, as described in the article below. Shortly afterwards the battery failed, as it tends to in extreme cold conditions (pro-tip: keep phones in a pocket next to your body for warmth).

The full text can be found on Prospect’s website here, or after the fold.

Continue reading

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Me and my Suka

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Meet Suka, my favourite husky here. She’s so dainty and delicate she deserves a life of leisure as a house dog. Wish I could take her home

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The reindeer gathering

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Lapland is reindeer country. They roam free across this flat land, docile as cattle, standing in the roads or digging for lichen in the deep snow.

But they are not wild animals, or not entirely. Many are owned by the Sami people, the indigenous group once known as the Lapps, who live throughout Arctic Scandinavia and western Russia.

The reindeer herders are – or, for the most part, were – a semi-nomadic group, migrating north to the coast with their animals for the short Arctic summer, south to the forests over winter.

Modern life has not been kind to the Sami. Main roads and national borders have sprung up across centuries-old migration routes, while many of the traditional ways have become lost after generations of Sami children were sent to Finnish language boarding schools in the south – from which many never returned.

But Sami culture lives on. Recent government initiatives have pumped money into Sami-language education and cultural revival.

Here in Enontekio, the elderly Sami ladies can be spotted their embroidered smocks and bonnets in the supermarket, browsing the sweet selection. The Sami men, oozing testosterone, can be found in the only bar in town, or blearily winding their way home again on their snowmobiles.

Reindeer herding here is still very much a way of life. Although the majority of the Sami reindeer herders now keep a permanent home – a house, a car, a comfortable bed – life is still dictated by the changing seasons; the movement of the reindeer. Continue reading

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On the start line

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iPhone snap of the dogs ahead of a 10k run. This is what day time looks like during the polar night. The sun will next rise on the 6th of January.

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