Tag: Chester

How to get into travel writing at the Chester Literature Festival

The Chester Literature Festival was in full swing this week.

I was there on Friday to run a travel-writing workshop [pictured above] for future freelancers and career changers seeking to branch out.

Some planned to pitch ideas to magazines, others were looking to develop their voice online as a blogger.

I ran this workshop as a taster session but, given the interest on the day for a sold-out event, I will look at future workshops for the new year.

Meanwhile, as part of the session, I shared my top six travel-writing tips as follows:

People, not places

The best travel stories are not about places. They’re about the people who live in those places.

So talk to local people and weave this into your narrative. Nothing adds life to a story like direct speech.

Find a story

A lot of travel stories are very information led. But the stories that really stand out tell proper stories. So find a real story, get a proper angle, think about your readership. Then frame these elements in the context of a destination.

Get it right

Commissioning editors don’t have the time, nor the inclination, to correct your spelling, cut down your copy if you bust your word count and punctuate your sentences. Want more work? Then get it right.

Work with the medium

And not against it. Writing for print? You have the luxury of longer sentences and more descriptive language. But if you’re writing for online, then take a leaf from George Orwell’s book and keep the language more direct. People are increasingly reading your articles on mobile devices, so format for the screen.

Spot the openings

Publications thrive on regular sections and this is your way in, especially as a first-time contributor. Editors need to fill these sections and often to look to freelancers to plug the gaps. So, read, read and read some more.

 Strictly business

Travel writing is a job. Treat it as such. You’re working as a specialist reporter, covering a niche area. You want to be regarded as a professional? Then act professionally. And expect to be paid …

An exclusive preview of Chester’s new heritage attraction

Today was the opening day at Chester: A Life Story [pictured above], the new heritage attraction in Chester.

I was there early this morning for an exclusive preview of the exhibition, researching an article for The Guardian in the family travel section.

Here’s the recent news item I wrote for the Cheshire Ultimate Guide by way of a preview of the story to come.

A new family visitor attraction has opened in Chester to celebrate the city’s rich social history in time for this year’s Chester Heritage Festival.

Chester: A Life Story puts the emphasis on the often-overlooked stories of ordinary people, using multi-sensory interpretation to highlight the folk who have shaped Cheshire over the past 2,000 years.

Including sections on crime and punishment, and health and medicine, it traces human stories from Roman Chester to the present day via the Middle Ages, aiming to put the story of Chester into a global context.

The heritage attraction is based at St Michael’s Church on Bridge Street, Chester, and managed by Big Heritage, the company that also runs Western Approaches, the wartime secret bunker in Liverpool.

The Chester Heritage Festival runs June 21-29 this year with events around the city.

Chester: A Life Story

Read the full Guardian Travel story here.

Telegraph Chester story — My view

Did you read the Daytripper feature in the Telegraph this weekend [pictured above]?

Don’t bother if not.

I read it and couldn’t help wondering if the writer had actually spoken to anyone who lives in, or even knows Chester at all?

It’s sad to see the same tired, old clichés trotted out like a flagging mare at Chester Races.

Especially when Chester was recently voted one of Britain’s ten favourite cities by Telegraph readers — ahead of Lincoln and Oxford.

There’s a zoo — well, who knew? And there’s a hilarious anecdote about shooting a Welshmen within the city walls. Hold the front page.

It seemed to me that this article completely missed the real story in Chester right now.

There was nothing about the rise of the Chester indies, the high number of independent business owners now bringing new choice and variety to eating, drinking and shopping around the city.

No reference either to the revitalised Chester Market with its Friday-night foodie events.

Nor to the work that local MP Chris Matheson and creative community project GFN Chester have done to launch the Hunger Games promotion this week to champion local eateries.

There was also nothing about Storyhouse and its work to bring the Woman of the World festival to Chester this April. In fact, there was no reference to Storyhouse at all.

Surely anyone walking round the city with their eyes open would find it hard to miss the erstwhile Art Deco cinema converted into our new arts centre-library.

This was, at best, ill informed and lacking in proper research.

I’m tired of writers coming from London, casting a withering eye over the city and clearing off again having added nothing to the conversation.

Especially as I know how much hard work goes on behind the scenes to #makechester.

From individuals ploughing their heart and soul into a local business like Meltdown or Covino (amongst many others) to publications like Tortoise and Amble speaking up for non-chain Chester, this is a radically different place to the city l left in the Nineties to go to university.

I’ve already tweeted the writer with some suggestions for what he should have done on his visit.

#NotOurChester

How to make the most of a day out at Chester Zoo

An autumn afternoon spent wandering around Chester Zoo didn’t feel like work.

But it was: a guest blog post for the Marketing Cheshire blog with a half-term theme and timed for the return of the popular TV series, The Secret Life of the Zoo.

Here’s a sample:

I’ve come to Chester Zoo on an autumnal afternoon to meet some of the new arrivals from the zoo’s recent baby boom — some 733 mammals have been born in 2018, beating the previous highest total of 566 in the same time period.

But what lies behind the baby boom? Science, explains zoo ranger Amy Pilsbury. “We’re constantly monitoring the animals’ poo to check their hormone levels.”

Read the full story, Cute babies and half-term fun: how to make the most of a day at Chester Zoo.