ARCHIVES: UNITED KINGDOM
SOUTHSEA CASTLE ARTILLERY MUSEUM
by Matthew Adams
Southsea Castle is a coastal fortification that dates back to the 16th century. Located on the coast of Clarence Esplanade, a grassy patch in Southsea beside the D–Day Museum, the castle remained a coastal fortification for centuries up until the world wars of the 20th century. It was constructed to guard the narrow coastal waters of the Solent from enemy navies, and was stocked with a considerable assortment of guns to blast ships out of the water. Today, some of that artillery remains in the Southsea Castle Museum.
A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES: MEMORIES OF DYLAN THOMAS
by W. Ruth Kozak
One Christmas was so much like another,
In those years around the sea-town corner now
And out of all sound except the distant speaking
Of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep,
That I can never remember whether it snowed
For six days and six nights when I was twelve
Or whether it snowed for twelve days and
Twelve nights when I was six.
A DAY IN ROYAL GREENWICH
by Nicole Bergstrom
Regal. That is the only word to describe the feeling I had when visiting Royal Borough of Greenwich. The neighborhood was only a ten-minute walk from my Greenwich hotel, and since it was an overcast and slightly chilly but otherwise mild November weather day, I explored this borough of southeast London by foot.
A TIP-TOP SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS COACH HOLIDAY
by Marc Latham
When shrouded in mist, the Scottish Highlands evoke an image of living history, aging in slow motion, travelling forward with its past preserved by its traditionally wet cold weather, like ancient history preserved in a peat bog. The historic setting for a comfortable Urquhart Coaches domestic holiday inspired contrasting memories of my youthful world travelling, including previous trips to Scotland.
LINDISFARNE, NORTHUMBERLAND: A SERENE SANCTUARY OR VIKING VENTURE
by Bonnie Hart
It is low tide as we pull up to the causeway that joins Lindisfarne or Holy Island to the mainland of Great Britain. We are struck by the serenity of the scene. The remnants of the North Sea’s high tide silently recede enabling us to drive over the causeway to the site of one of the earliest centers of Christianity in Britain’s Dark Age.
THE BATTLEFIELD OF CULLODEN
by Yehta Pearl
Did you know that the spirits of the dead talk to us? It is sometimes uncomfortable, but can be comforting as well. On the site of the Culloden battlefield in Scotland, near Inverness, the energy of the slaughtered Jacobites lingers, eager to spread their message to all who can hear.
TRACING THE INDIAN LINK AT TWO VENERABLE MUSEUMS
by Susmita Sengupta
London can be called the city of museums, or more correctly, a city well known for offering free admissions to its museums that are home to arguably the world’s greatest collections. As a frequent visitor to this multicultural city, my family and I make it a point to visit and revisit two of the most famous museums of London, namely the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
THE BEST PLACES TO FIND PEACE AND QUIET IN LONDON
by Elizabeth von Pier
London is noisy and teeming with tourists and horn-honking traffic. Crowds queue up in line or push and shove to see the sights. I spent three weeks there this past summer and, along with everyone else, I visited the usual attractions, queuing up in lines and pushing and shoving. But I also found that not far from the mayhem are lovely little places where you can quietly sit on a shady bench and rest and renew yourself. Here are some of the gems that I discovered.
EXPLORING MACKINTOSH’S GLASGOW:Scotland
by John Thomson
Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city, a little shabby in parts I must admit, its once busy dockyards replaced by a shopping mall, an amusement centre and a transportation museum. Thankfully, many of Glasgow’s magnificent sandstone buildings remain intact, a reminder of its better days when the city was flush with pride.
BRONTE COUNTRY REDISCOVERED: England
by Magdalena Zenaida
If you love Wuthering Heights devoutly, the words “bed and breakfast” can inspire fear. Would the broad beamed ceilings and mossy walls be protected, or would they be swallowed up into an upscale conversion? Bronte’s “Thrushcross Grange”, or Ponden Hall, is exactly as its hero and heroine would have it.
A TIME IN THE NORTH: Northumberland and Cumbria, England
by Jean Pidgley
Some thirty years ago I repeated a walk when on holiday with family in Yorkshire, which I had done often in my teens. Yorkshire, a lovely county and a favourite of mine, allows easy access to lovely dales and outstanding moorland and to the wilds of Northumberland and Cumbria.
A DIAMOND IN THE CROWN OF THE ISLAND OF MAN: Douglas, UK
by Glen Cowley
The vast sprawling smile of Douglas Harbour is for many their first view of the Isle of Man by sea. Since 1830 the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has been plying the waters of the Irish Sea bringing tourists and more from the shores of the United Kingdom and Ireland; the oldest continuously operating passenger service in the world.
THE LAND OF MONASTIC TRADITION
Ireland - by Troy Herrick
Ireland has been called the Land of Saints and Scholars. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, brought Christianity to the island in the 5th century CE. Within 100 years of his arrival numerous monastic settlements had sprang up. Two sites not to be missed are Glendalough and the Rock of Cashel.
PRINCES AND CASTLES
Wales, UK - by Keith Kellett
Ruthin Castle stands on a ridge overlooking the beautiful Vale of Clwyd. It was the castle that gave the town its name, for it’s a corruption of Welsh words meaning ‘red fort’, referring to the sandstone from which it was built. The castle, which Dafydd built in 1277, is in ruins now.
LITERARY LONDON: VIRGINIA WOOLF’S BLOOMSBURY
England - by Lynn Smith
Several months ago, on a visit to London, I opted to take such a tour and chose the Bloomsbury walking tour as I have always been fascinated by Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury group. I met the tour guide outside Russell Square Underground and we began the two hour walk from there. It was a beautiful summer’s day.
A DAY BY THE SEA
Brighton, England - by Paris Franz
Brighton had been the destination of choice for many a day at the seaside during my childhood, and would be forever associated in my mind with windswept, pebbled beaches and ideas of escape. It’s been said you should never go back to places where you were happy, lest the reality not measure up, but how could I not?
BREAKING CODES AT BLETCHLEY PARK
England - by Paris Franz
At first glance, the town of Bletchley, some fifty miles to the north of London, appears to be an unremarkable kind of place. Yet it was here, far from the bombs pounding London and the attention of enemy spies, that hundreds of formidably brainy people broke German, Italian and Japanese codes during World War Two.
ENJOYING A WHIRLWIND TOUR OF ENGLAND
England - by Chris Herbert
Rising to very un-English like weather (read “sunny”) the three of us headed for Petersfield, south of London. During our stay this would be our home away from home. Founded in the 12th century by William Fitz Robert the second Earl of Gloucester as a market town, Petersfield grew in importance because of its location on a direct route north to London and south to the coast.
HISTORY, SPORT AND NATURE WINS TOUR DE FRANCE START
Leeds, England - by Marc Latham
198 cyclists will ride 1864 miles (3500km) over three weeks, aiming for the 101st Tour de France finish line in Paris on July 27th. The third biggest sporting event in the world will start in the north of England for the first time. Leeds is steeped in sport and history, so it is a great choice for the 2014 Le Grand Depart on July 5th.
A HOLIDAY IN TORBAY
England - by Matthew Adams
During one summer, I took a holiday in the seaside town of Paignton, one of three towns in Torbay alongside Brixham and Torquay. It is part of a supposed English Riviera that has miles of sandy beaches, and some great coastal landscapes. Aside from soaking up the sun on Paignton's beaches, soak up the history at Torbay's museums, steam railway, Oldway Mansion and Berry Head.
THE HINTERLAND BEGINS AND ENDS IN ABERYSTWYTH
Wales - by Marc Latham
Aberystwyth is a Welsh language word meaning mouth of the Ystwyth. The town is unofficially considered the capital of Ceredigion county, and often called Aber by locals, as it’s the biggest Aber in the region. Its population of 15,000, supplemented by thousands of students in term time, is the largest for 70 miles north, east and south; Ireland is much farther west, beyond the Cardigan Bay horizon and over the Irish Sea.
LIVERPOOL WEEKEND WINS ME OVER
England - by Melissa Gardiner
I must admit to having my doubts about Liverpool’s World Heritage Status and its European Capital of Culture award back in 2008. The reality is that my visit to Liverpool was a wonderful surprise, from the moment I walked out of Lime Street Station to see the magnificent St. George’s Hall across the road, to my farewell drink in Ye Hole in the Wall pub.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Belfast, Ireland - by Helen Moat
I was back on the train to Belfast after decades, the new stock state-of-the-art shiny, clean, comfortable, smooth and fast. Back in the 1980s the train to Belfast shuddered and creaked its way to the city. The seats were blighted with cigarette holes and knife slits, the floors covered in litter, the walls plastered with graffiti.
A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES: MEMORIES OF DYLAN THOMAS
by W. Ruth Kozak
In 2014 Swansea, Wales is celebrating the centenary of the birth of one of the English languages most distinctive voices. The year-long celebration will honour the works and legacy of Dylan Thomas. Dylan Thomas has been acknowledged as one of the most important Welsh poets of the 20th century.
REMEMBERING JERSEY IN THE WAR TIME
England - by Ana Astri-O’Reilly
Germany’s capture of the Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Herm and Sark) in 1940 not only had strategic importance for Hitler’s plans; it was an emotional triumph for him in that he had finally invaded a portion of his enemy Britain.
HADRIAN’S WALL – A WALK THROUGH HISTORY
England - by Melissa Gardiner
It was a bright spring morning as my walking partner and I took our first footsteps along the path of Hadrian's Wall. It’s an 84-mile trail across the north of England. It also passes through some of England’s most notable archaeological sites, dotted across rolling hills and at times, wild, rugged countryside.
IN MEMORY OF THE TITANIC
Southampton, England - by Matthew Adams
In 2012, Southampton commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Titanic in the month of April.For the anniversary a new state-of-the-art SeaCity Museum was opened at Havelock Road, within the Cultural Quarter of Southampton.
THE LOST VILLAGES OF EAST ANGLIA
England - by Helen Moat
East Anglia is England’s little Holland. You know you’ve reached the farmlands of East Anglia when the pungent stench of root vegetables hit your nostrils. There are pockets of softer, rolling countryside as well, but mainly East Anglia is flat, very flat. It’s a hostile landscape, the kind of place where you have to be tough and insular to survive.
A STROLL ALONG THE COAST OF PORTSMOUTH
England - by Matthew Adams
The city of Portsmouth, on the south coast of England, is one that has a great coastline and harbor. As such, Portsmouth has plenty of boats! A variety of boats of various shapes and sizes, both modern and more historic, can be found at its harbor. As the city includes a Royal Navy naval base, which is one of the largest in Europe, it has a fascinating naval heritage.
REMOTE IRISH VILLAGE KEEPER OF CANADIAN MEMORIAL
Ireland - by Anna Marie D’Angelo
In a tiny village in southwest Ireland on the Atlantic is a memorial to the victims of the Air India bombing, Canada's worst mass murder terrorist attack. The memorial in West Cork's tiny Ahakista village to 329 people who died on June 23, 1985 doesn’t seem to be known to many people in Ireland where tragedies are forever remembered in bronze works such as the Famine Memorial in Dublin.
ST. KEVIN'S KITCHEN
Glendalough, Ireland - by J.M.Bridgeman
It is a sunny spring morning, perfect for a trip to Glendalough, an ancient "monastic city" set in a surround of Wicklow Mountains National Park, about an hour south of Dublin. Our local guide keeps us alert on the bus ride, pointing out the flora and fauna--the beauty of the yellow gorse which in other non-flowering seasons gets pelted with words such as weed, invasive, and noxious, the blossoming white thorn hedges, shades of green in the long vistas.
FINDING MY FATHER’S HISTORY
St Fagan’s National, Wales - by W. Ruth Kozak
Last summer, when I visited the St. Fagan’s National History Museum in Wales, I stepped into a small schoolhouse, circa 1910, much like the school my father would have attended. There on the desk beside the text books and slates was a bamboo switch, reminding me of his stories. I also found out the reason he didn’t speak much Welsh was because in those days the English forbade it.
AFTERNOON TEA AT DANESFIELD HOUSE
England by Angela Allman
Afternoon tea is a time-honored tradition in Britain, and this is my first proper tea experience. It is believed that the 7th Duchess of Bedford, Anna, started the fashionable trend in the 19th century. The Duchess began ordering tea and snacks to her room to ward off hunger and lift the afternoon ‘sinking feeling'. She then began inviting her friends around, and the trend soon spread like wildfire throughout the country.
THE LOST WORLD OF ARKWRIGHT
England by Helen Moat
Richard Arkwright was an opportunist, designer, engineer, entrepreneur, ruthless negotiator, business magpie and self-made man, who developed amongst other things the spinning frame, the water frame and carding engine. He established the great mills that still line Britain’s waterways. It was Arkwright who created the modern factory.
NAPLES BEYOND THE TRAIN STATION
Italy by Troy Herrick
Like me, your first impression of Naples is colored by the imposing maze of streets adjoining the train station. The success of your visit to old Napoli largely depends upon how quickly you can escape from this area of the city without becoming lost. And the secret to a successful escape is to ride the bus to your first tourist destination.
VISITING JANE AUSTEN ON A MOTORBIKE
England - by Darlene Foster
Our delightful visit to England included Yorkshire and North Wales. Viewing the countryside with its stone hedges and ancient castles was made even more enjoyable as we hurtled down narrow roads on a motorcycle. We were on our way to visit my hero, Jane Austen! My dear husband had planned this as a surprise for me.
A TREE, THE BIRD, THE FISH AND THE BELL - A BOY, A CHURCH AND A CEMETERY
Glasgow, Scotland - by Helen Moat
Glasgow has had its ups and downs. London it isn't – nor Edinburgh. There's nothing twee, contrived, touristy or pretty-pretty about Glasgow. Glasgow is down-to-earth, has real character. It's smart, gritty, witty, vibrant and alive. It's the genuine article.
DUBLIN MIXES GUINNESS, JOYCE, AND THE STONE AGE
Ireland - by Ken McGoogan
300,000 people are set for the Gathering in Ireland. Some will be tracing their ancestors. Others will come to see the monasteries, or to follow in the footsteps of James Joyce. Many will make their way to the Guinness Storehouse, where visitors journey through the 250-year history of Guinness and finish up in the Gravity Bar, free pint in hand.
EXPLORING THE GREAT CASTLES OF NORTH WALES
Wales - by Roy A. Barnes
The country of Wales may only be small, but every nook and cranny is full of history. 500-plus castles can be found in this part of the United Kingdom, in various degrees of disrepair and/or restoration, often seen on the hillsides as one speeds down the busy motorways. I explored five really special ones, coming away with a greater appreciation of Welsh history and its people.
READING FOR HENRY VIII
Oxford, England - by James G. Brueggermann
I'm in a rented morning suit, minus the hat. Looking down the slender nave of a church finished eight hundred years ago, with a man in a full suit of armor lying carved in stone one room over, I'm trying to get used to the idea that I'm supposed to read in here. Out loud, in public. We're early, on purpose.
THE QUEST FOR THE BOOK OF KELLS
Ireland and Scotland - by Troy Herrick
After six years, I arrived in Dublin under gray overcast skies. The quest was about to be completed; the circle was about to be closed and loose ends tied together. I was all set to gaze upon the most decorated manuscript to survive from the Early Middle Ages in Europe – the Book of Kells.
DESMOND CASTLE FROM FORTRESS TO WINE MUSEUM
Ireland - by Keith Kellett
I think Desmond Castle is the first one I ever visited that stood, not on the top of a hill, or in beautiful gardens, but in a street of houses. It dates from around the late 15th/early 16th Century, and is, actually, a ‘fortified tower house’, with spacious store-rooms.
THE WICKLOW MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
Exploring Celtic History in Ireland - by Becky Garrison
During my first trek to Ireland, I decided to visit Glendalough Valley, one of Ireland’s most popular destinations. While the monks abandoned “Monastic City” centuries ago as a result of political and religious upheavals,” the remains of a 6th century Christian monastic settlement founded by St. Kevin remain the centerpiece of this town.
STUMBLING INTO DICKENS' WORLD of WILTON’S MUSIC HALL
London, England - By Helen Moat
As the London traffic hums faintly in the distance, I stop outside an old crumbling building, the walls oozing patchy brick-red and mustard-yellow; a cracked wooden double door bearing the last remnants of faded paint. It feels as if I have stumbled into a Dickensian scene. Wilton's, the world's oldest surviving music hall, was opened in 1858.
TREKKING THROUGH THE TOWER OF LONDON
England - by Becky Garrison
The Tower of London is a massive twenty-one-tower complex built by William the Conqueror shortly after he came into power in 1066. It served a variety of functions, including a fortress against foreign attack, a repository for the crown jewels, and a refuge for the royal family in times of civil disorder. However, the Tower of London remains notorious as the site for some of England's bloodiest bits, a living testimony to the hell that happened when certain royals ruled the roost.
I’M DREAMING OF A DICKENS CHRISTMAS
I've always dreamed of celebrating Christmas in London, a real Dickens Christmas where the famous writer once lived. A Victorian Christmas with all the old traditions set right in the place where they all began. Charles Dickens probably had more influence on the way we celebrate Christmas today than any single individual.
SKARA BRAE AND ITS MANY MYSTERIES
The Orkney Islands, Scotland
Nestled on a small island just north of the Scotland mainland lies an ancient site that is just begging to be explored. Skara Brae, (a prehistoric village that was built before the Egyptian pyramids), has been listed as one of the “Heart of Neolithic Orkney” World Heritage Sites, and it illustrates a perfect example as to why the Orkney Islands have often been referred to as “The Egypt of the North.
VIEW FROM THE MALL
In London for the Royal Wedding
One third of the world’s population tuned in to watch the Royal Wedding coverage on TV, and nearly one million people took to the streets of London on Friday April 29th, 2011 just to be at the epicenter of all the festivities. Luckily for me, I was one of those people.
MEGALITHIC PASSAGE TOMB
I boarded the small bus from the Visitor Centre which had taken our group to Newgrange, a huge megalithic passage tomb. The Visitor Centre acts as a gateway to the Bru na Boinne area, the bend of the Boyne River. In this area lie three Neolithic (4000-2500 BC) Passage Tombs—Newgrange, Dowth and Knowth built over an area of 10 square kilometres.
THE CASTLE COAST AND HADRIAN’S WALL
I returned to the Hadrian’s Wall path for a big day of sightseeing at a battle site marked on the map. However, upon arrival we found out it was Heavenfield, and the information at the entrance to the grounds of St. Oswald’s church said it was the site of an important Dark Ages battle between British kingdoms in AD 635
200 years after the Romans departed British shores!
BRINGING IN THE LIGHT WITH THE WINTER SOLSTICE
I struggled against the wind and rain as I carried a knapsack and pulled a suitcase up the steep incline from the parking lot towards Newgrange, one of the Passage Burial Tombs in east coastal Ireland. My red umbrella continued to turn inside out. I felt constantly confronted yet also exhilarated with this fierce encounter with an early autumn storm.
THE COALPITS OF WALES
A Tribute to My Family’s Heritage
Kitted out in a helmet, cap lamp, battery pack and a miner’s belt, I enter the pit-cage and descend 90 meters to a world of shafts, coal faces and underground roadways. Guided by a good-natured ex-miner guide, I am about to experience a real sense of life in the coalpit.
Some cities have grown continuously through the ages. They're like onions, layer on layer of skin which you can unpeel all the way back to the foundations. Rome is like that, for instance, or Venice. But London was scarred forever by one single disruptive event – the Great Fire which laid the city waste in 1666.
THE PETRIE MUSEUM
EVERYDAY LIFE OF ANCIENT EGYPT
Well, that's the British Museum for you. Lots of Egyptian bling and Pharaonic excess; but not, perhaps, much of a feel for the way most Egyptians lived their everyday lives. To get the sand of Ancient Egypt right between your toes, you'll need to visit the Petrie Museum.
THE PETRIE MUSEUM - EVERYDAY LIFE OF ANCIENT EGYPT
To get the sand of Ancient Egypt right between your toes, you'll need to visit the Petrie Museum. Sir Flinders Petrie was the first professor of Egyptology in the UK, and is considered one of the founders of scientific archaeology. He'd been appalled by the destruction of ancient artefacts, and was concerned to save what he could.
AN HISTORIAN’S PILGRIMAGE
Canterbury and its cathedral has withstood centuries of religious change but has remained England’s center of Christianity for over a thousand years. I had the privilege of visiting the cathedral during a trip to England in 2007, and it was a memorable experience.
A Literary Stay In London
London, city of Shakespeare, has an illustrious literary history. If you’re taking a trip to England’s capital on the trail of your favourite writers, you might like to stay in a hotel with some kind of literary connection. There are several of these to be discovered if you know where to look.
Edinburgh has a worldwide reputation for its thriving and dynamic arts scene which comes to a head in August each year when millions of visitors converge on the city to enjoy the International and 'Fringe' Festivals.
THE GLOUCESTER AND SHARPNESS CANAL
England I recently took a short cruise on the Edward Elgar along the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal. This parallels the lower reaches of the river, which is tidal, so was by-passed by the canal. The canal also did away with ships needing to negotiate a dangerous bend in the river. They would sail through the Sharpness Lock, to be man-hauled along the canal to Gloucester.
There were nearly 80 miles of Hadrian’s Wall, which stretched from England’s west coast, at Bowness on Solway, near Carlisle to the east coast, at the appropriately-named Wallsend, near Newcastle.
Little appears to be left of Shakespeare's London. We know where he worked, and where he lived; but the Blackfriars theatre is no more, and though Ireland Yard (where Shakespeare bought a house when he could afford it) still exists, the buildings are much later.
Extraordinary Career Of Fiction’s Most Famous Consulting Detective
Throughout generations loyal fans have followed the career of the fictional amateur detective Sherlock Holmes, thrilled at his ability of solving criminal cases through his adept sleuthing."Come, Watson, come! The game is afoot”, was the cry heard in the exploits of Sherlock Holmes.
IN SEARCH OF THE BRONTE SPIRIT
I came to Haworth, as many do, in search of ghosts. I came, in the words of Virginia Woolf, "as though [I were] to meet some long-separated friend, who might have changed in the interval—so clear an image of Haworth had [I] from print and picture."
LEGEND OF THE 'HUNDERPREST' VAMPIRE OF MELROSE ABBEY
In the heart of the Scottish Borders, Melrose is the perfect holiday destination for, walking, cycling and rugby. Best known is the ruins of the Melrose Abbey, which lies on the north east side of the centre of the town and, off course the 'Hunderprest' vampire that roams the ruins at the dark of night.
AGATHA CHRISTIE - SETTING THE SCENE IN DEVON
It's hard to imagine Devon as the inspiration for murder. This rural county, the fourth largest in England, is better known to most for its rolling hills and Devonshire cream teas. But no fewer than fifteen of Agatha Christie's crime novels are set in Devon, or have specific connections with the county.
SEARCHING FOR SHAKESPEARE’S MACBETH
The Scottish highlands are rugged mountains, thick forests and lush green glens. Overcast skies, cold blustery winds and thick mists add a haunting quality to the region. In this environment, the supernatural doesn’t seem so outlandish – it is almost expected.
SEEKING OUT SEA CAVES
Isle of Skye, Scotland
The Spar Cave on Scotland's Isle of Skye is a truly wondrous place. In the 19th century it was a fashionable destination for well-to-do Victorian trippers, drawn north to the rugged Strathaird peninsula by Sir Walter Scott's poem The Lord of the Isles in which he wrote of a mermaid bathing in a pool concealed deep within the enchanted cell.
VISITING JANE AUSTIN’S HAUNTS
Hampshire is a truly remarkable corner of the English countryside with historic towns, boasting rich cultural heritage and small picture-postcard villages. The most famous person from Hampshire is undoubtedly the writer, Jane Austen (Sense and Sensibility; Pride and Prejudice; Northanger Abbey). Jane was born in the small hamlet of Steventon in 1775.
WHERE HISTORY AND LEGEND INTERTWINE
Did King Arthur exist? Was Excaliber real? Did Lancelot sweep Guinevere off her feet and seal the fate of Camelot? These questions are in my mind as I stand on the top of the cliffs where Tintagel, the English Heritage site and the mythical birthplace of one of the most famous legends in British history, perches.
A REAL FATHER CHRISTMAS
His name is synonymous with Christmas and for many may conjure up visions of plum pudding and a warm fireside. In fact, Charles Dickens probably has more influence on the way we celebrate Christmas today than any single individual (except one). It was Charles Dickens’ Christmas stories that rekindled the joy of Christmas across Britain and America.
THE FESTIVAL CITY
The fun starts in the beginning – or the end – of the year with Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, a multi-faceted festival brightening up the long dark nights of winter and welcoming in the New Year. Many modern day traditions for the New Year come from Scotland, including the iconic Auld Lang Syne song, written by Scottish poet Robert Burns. The song is written in Scots, which explains why many find the lyrics to be near undecipherable.
BELFAST’S HISTORIC CAVE HILL
When the first rays of sunlight break through the cold early morning mist, to reveal the uppermost peaks of Belfast’s Cave Hill, it’s easy for me to see why it’s said to have inspired Jonathan Swift to write his most well known novel, Gulliver’s Travels.
THE TALL SHIPS RACES
Around a million visitors were expected to descend on Liverpool’s World Heritage waterfront between the 18th and 21st July to watch the ceremonies and departure of The Tall Ships’ Races 2008. The fleet of tall ships, that is both spectacular and unique, was the largest ever to grace British waters, being made up of around 70 vessels.
NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL, UK'S BIGGEST STREET PARTY
When the Trinidadians first arrived in England they longed for their elaborate carnivals back home. Dressed in elaborate costumes, pounding on steel drums they began a small procession through the streets. Now, some 42 years later, the Notting Hill Carnival has become a full-blown Caribbean celebration, second only to that held in Rio.
TOURING THE THAMES
The Architectural Jewels of London
England's Thames River is one of the most celebrated bodies of water in the world. The section that runs through London and its outskirts has inspired artists for centuries. On my last trip to London, I discovered the reasons for its reputation when I toured the river.
THE GHOST OF BELGRAVIA
On a rainy morning in June 1922, Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, dressed in full military regalia complete with a ceremonial sword, returned to his home at 36 Eaton Place, Belgravia after dedicating a war memorial. He was about to enter his house when two armed gunmen approached him from behind and shot him nine times. Sir Henry died on his doorstep.
FOLLOWING A MONK’S LIFE
Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds, England
I am sitting in the tranquil green grounds of Kirkstall Abbey, with the medieval building to one side and swans gliding somewhere between the River Aire, the lowering sun to the other. It isn’t difficult to imagine why the Cistercian monks chose to build their new community here in the twelfth century.
Stonehenge & Avebury, UK
Since I live nearby, and have a pass which allows me free entry, I can get to Stonehenge any time. But, when I first arrived in the area, I made a very special visit. I went to the Stones to be lectured about them by none other than John Aubrey, the English antiquarian … or rather a re-enactor playing his part.
ENGLAND'S PROTESTANT DAUGHTER
During a recent trip to England, armed with an appropriate amount of knowledge, I toured from Devon and Cornwall, to London and Kent and came face-to-face with many of the English Reformation sites, including sites dedicated to many of the martyrs, both Catholic and Protestant, executed for their beliefs.
HIKING ON THE EDGE OF THE WORLD
As I stand high above the ocean I envision my fate if I were to stumble on a rock, slip on the narrow muddy path or get blown over the edge of the highest sea cliffs in Europe. I take a deep breath and my first steps towards crossing One Man's Pass.
THE VIEW FROM SNOWDON
The view from the summit of Mount Snowdon, when the cold wet mist evaporates from the barren slopes, is a vista of yellow-brown hills and intensely green meadows. This rugged region of North Wales served as a training ground for Sir Edmund Hillary’s mountaineering team before their ascent of Mount Everest in 1953.