Tag: cultural tourism

Two terrific reasons for a half-term day out in Liverpool

I owe Gary Oldman a beer.

I’d tried pitching a story before about Western Approaches, the secret wartime bunker under an office block in Liverpool. It didn’t work out.

But with Darkest Hour cleaning up at cinemas and Mr Oldman tipped for an Oscar on March 4, Winston Churchill is writ large on screen once more.

Good timing then to try the story again with a new angle. After all, Winnie was a bit of regular at the nerve centre for the Battle of the Atlantic.

The timing was right for a feature timed for February half term. Here’s a preview:

Western Approaches HQ houses the original Gaumont Kalee Dragon projector [pictured above] Churchill used to watch secret war footage. Newsreel controlled by the Ministry of Information was then shown to the public in cinemas to boost morale.

I even managed to tie a Liverpool trip into the press preview of the new Terracotta Warriors exhibition at the World Museum.

Just don’t ask how many warriors made it across the Mersey.

Read the full story, Take the kids to Western Approaches, Liverpool.

Oslo, Norway, and Portmeirion, Wales, travel writing for LoveExploring


Two more published articles — to add to a busy autumn for commissions.

Both articles were for the online travel site, LoveExploring.com.

The first looked at Portmeirion, North Wales, which marked the 50th anniversary of the cult TV series, The Prisoner, in September.

Here’s a sample:

The programme epitomised the counter-culture vibe of the late 1960s and Portmeirion village provided the perfect canvas for the psychedelic storyline. One memorable scene, involving a giant chess game with human pieces, is now regularly recreated in the central piazza.

Now read Six Reasons to Love Portmeirion, North Wales

Secondly, an article about Oslo [pictured] — my new favourite European city — offered suggestions for a perfect weekend and explored Oslo’s hipster district. No, really.

It also features the Noble Peace Prize Centre [pictured above] in time for the speech at Oslo City Hall by the 2016 winner, the President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos.

Try a taster here:

Grünerløkka, east of the city centre, is Oslo’s hipster central. The former industrial district has all the coolest vintage clothes shops and galleries. Check out the fashion-conscious locals over a microbrewed beer at the Grünerløkka Brygghus, or at the coffee-guru café run by Tim Wendelboe.

Now read A Perfect Weekend: what to do in Olso, Norway

Please do share your comments or tips for places I’ve missed.

Cannes Film Festival and Riviera for Telegraph Travel

Cannes. It’s getting to be a habit.

I’ve been three times on assignment in the past year and recently returned from another and very timely sojourn.

The reason? The Cannes International Film Festival opens tomorrow — May 17. This year marks 70 years of cinema heritage [mural pictured above].

I was there to report back on preparations for a feature in this weekend’s Telegraph Travel.

But, joining an escorted tour for a few days, I was also trying to put the glamour of the Riviera into context.

I explored some of the reports, spanning the French-Italian border, frequented by the British gentry long before the likes of Brigitte Bardot [pictured below] arrived with photographers in hot pursuit.

Casino Royale 

Here’s an extract from my first draft, based around a visit to Monte Carlo Casino. 

I’m not a natural high roller.

If I was Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, then I’d be sporting a freshly pressed tuxedo, sipping a martini, shaken not stirred of course, and nonchalantly placing all my chips on black 17.

In reality I’m budget Bond: a Ben Sherman shirt, sipping an espresso and observing the oligarchs at play from a safe distance.

Still, at least I can still admire the Belle Époque ceiling and renaissance frescos in the Europa gaming room of Monte Carlo Casino.

After all, I have paid 17 Euros just to walk inside.

Read more in Telegraph Travel this Saturday.


To Hull and back on a culture quest


The taxi driver was unimpressed.

“It’s a fingers-crossed job,” he grunted.

He sprawled back in the driving seat and folded his arms at the lights, revealing a tattoo snaking down his fleshy forearm.

It read: “Blessed to be born in Yorkshire.”

“The problem is,” he added, “City of Culture only interests about two per cent of local people.”

Running late

Hull has a problem. It has been chosen as the UK City of Culture and the blue touch paper for the fireworks is due to be lit on January 1st.

But Hull clearly isn’t ready. The street works are causing chaos, the regeneration projects are running behind and the city suffers a major dearth of hotels rooms.

With an extra 1m visitors expected in the year ahead, the new Hilton hotel looks unlikely to be ready before September and a rumoured Radisson Blu hasn’t even broken ground yet.

Local people are either feeling frustrated, or completely disinterested.

After successful cultural-regeneration projects in Derry and previously Liverpool (as a European City of Culture), Hull is feeling the heat.

Weekend away

I came to Hull for a half-term break, introducing the girls to the city closely associated with the poet Philip Larkin [his statue at the train station pictured above].

Larkin described his home town:

This town has docks were channel boats come sidling; Tame water lanes, tall sheds, the traveller sees … His advent blurted to the morning shore — Arrivals, Departures (1954)

Today much of the industry is gone. The Fruit Market area of the old docklands is a work-in-progress building site with hipster hang-outs closing as fast as they open.

Only The Deep, the family-bustling aquarium with its perennially popular penguins, rises with any certainly above the shifting cityscape beyond the waterfront.

I want Hull to hit its stride. I plan to return with the right commission.

But, meanwhile, the taxi driver wasn’t holding his breath.

“When it happens,” he added, dropping us at the station for the journey home, ” then it will be more luck than planning.”

More: Hull City of Culture 2017