Tag: travel writing

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.

British Pilgrimage — spiritual journey or Emperor’s New Clothes?

I took a weekend out during the summer.

Just me and a brand new experience. It felt good.

I joined a weekend pilgrimage [pictured above] with the British Pilgrimage Trust, a charitable trust with a modern-day take on the ancient art of pilgrimage.

After a night in an Airbnb in Frome and meeting a group of 20 complete strangers over coffee the next morning, we set off — pilgrim staffs in hands [pictured above].

It was a long haul, covering some 12 miles per day, although the bucolic countryside of the Avon Valley helped to distract from the burgeoning blisters.

After two full days of walking, we arrived into Bath and took the waters to conclude a pilgrimage devoted to the goddess Sulis Minerva.

Sinking in

So how did I feel at the end of the weekend? Underwhelmed.

The idea of weekend alone with my thoughts in nature really appealed. But the practicality of the pilgrimage itself started to grate, especially after we arrived really late at our overnight stop on the first day and having run out of water.

If you’ve got a group of people paying £150 a head to join the pilgrimage, you have a duty to cover the basics and look after people.

Maybe, I was expecting too much. As one of the walk leaders told me over breakfast:

“It’s about giving our pilgrims an experience. Whether they enjoy it or not, it’s still an experience.”

Tacking stock

I’ve deliberately waited a couple of months before pitching and placing an article about my experience. It will be published in the new year.

Meanwhile, I’ve had time to think back over the weekend. Did I bring my own stresses or preconceptions to the pilgrimage? Or is this type of group experience simply more Scout camp than spiritual journey?

Read my article and decide for yourself. Here’s a preview:

We finally made it to Iford Manner on the Somerset-Wiltshire border as night fell, tired and hungry, for an al-fresco take-away dinner and homemade cider.

Bedding down en masse on sleeping mats in an outbuilding that night, I pulled the sleeping bag around me glad to rest.

This pilgrimage lark, I was coming to realise, was no walk in the park.

A pilgrimage should be about the journey, not the destination. But it was only when I spent time alone in Bath afterwards that I actuallly found the sense of peace I had been looking for all along.

I’m not planning to re-book. Maybe I’m just not cut out to be a pilgrim after all.

Half term travel articles around Cheshire and Wales

Another half-term holiday then.

This year, swamped by a sudden upsurge in freelance work, we stayed close to home with commissions for articles around Cheshire and Wales.

First up was a trip to the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, Cheshire [pictured], for a story in The Guardian.

Read the whole story, Take the Kids to … Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre.

Second was an overnight stay in Aberystwyth and a ride on the Vale of Rheidol steam railway for Best Loved Hotels’ customer magazine.

The final version is out in the new year but here’s a sneak preview:

The craggy, stone-cut tunnel appeared to close in around us as we approached the final stop at Devil’s Bridge, a foreboding darkness briefly engulfing the carriage.

This is Hinterland country, the backdrop to the S4C Welsh-noir detective series, and home to generation-spanning folk legends.

I’m now back on the hunt for new family-travel ideas. Got a story? Please get in touch.

 

Big Heritage Chester article for Tortoise Magazine

The next issue of Tortoise magazine is out soon.

I’ve written an article for Chester’s new independent publication about Big Heritage, the not-for-profit organisation installing heritage attractions in historic buildings.

It’s based around an interview with Managing Director Dean Paton, who I met at Sick To Death [pictured above], the attraction about the history of medicine.

Here’s a sneak preview of the story:

“I always loved history and archaeology but, traditionally, it has been seen as a sport for the middle classes,” says Dean.

He is showing me around the Sick to Death exhibits, including a section dedicated to the first recorded incidents of The Plague in Chester in the early 17th century.

By 1603, we learn, 92% of deaths in Chester were due to plague.

“The problem with a lot of heritage attractions,” he adds. “is that there’s no excitement, no love.”

The organisation has also just completed a major project to reopen Western Approaches, the former secret WWII bunker under Liverpool. Dean is now working on a new project in Chester.

Read the full article in Tortoise magazine, available in independent shops, cafes and arts venues around Chester.