Every September, history and architecture buffs have a field day as countless private and government buildings across Britain throw open their doors to visitors – for free.
For Singapore Airlines’ SilverKris magazine; read it all at silverkris.com
One of my favourite Dorset walks takes me in and around the “ghost village” of Tyneham, by the southern coast of the Isle of Purbeck. This farming hamlet at the foot of Ridgeway Hill was requisitioned by the War Office in 1943 (the area was suited to gunnery practice), with a promise that it would be returned to the villagers after the war… It never was.
A short contribution to the Telegraph‘s “Best countryside holidays in Britain”; read it all at telegraph.co.uk
Finding the best late holiday deals online. It isn’t only tour operators’ websites that offer bargain holidays. For the best deals, you have to look farther afield.
September 9, 2010 No Comments
A year ago, I wrote a piece here about the great art of the Gothic and Renaissance periods, and how we owe its existence to the Dead Hand of the (Tuscan) State. But where should we look for actions of slightly more modern government working to enrich our lives? Certainly not in the unending flow of nutty, illiberal laws; nor in the insidious creep of compliance culture (subject of a memorable Stephen Fry podcast). So, here’s an idea: look to the British Library.
More specifically, their Turning the Pages project, 10 years in the developing, that put our national library in the very first rank of learning innovation worldwide. (See the video.) The project’s achievement has been to digitize 15 (so far) of the Library’s most valuable manuscripts, and deliver them inside an interactive online environment that re-creates the experience of handling them in the raw.
[Read more →]
February 26, 2009 No Comments
Two minutes and twenty-seven seconds. I’m sitting by the pool, legs dangling in the water, timing how long it takes the current to carry a drowned fly’s corpse around one lap and return it to a spot in front of me. Every time I kick my feet, the late-afternoon sun refracts patterns that slither like electric eels across the bottom of the pool. The only sound is water caressing stone, as the hotel’s fountain babbles away in the background. There’s hardly a whisper of wind to disturb the protea.
It doesn’t seem feasible that I’m sitting less than two miles away from the stretch of rock with such a fearsome reputation among sailors: the Cape of Good Hope. [Read more →]
April 11, 2004 Comments Off
On a clear morning, the last two hours of the flight into Cape Town are unforgettable. From seven miles up, I can see the lunar landscape of Namibia’s skeleton coast and the gaping mouth of the Orange River emptying into the Atlantic. Nearing our destination, Table Mountain, its peak obscured by a wispy tablecloth of cloud, is set in sharp relief by the pale-pink light of dawn.
The road east from the airport takes me past the shameful townships of the Cape Flats. Nyanga, Crossroads and Mitchell’s Plain finally give way to the sharp climb into the Overberg. Stopping at the top of Sir Lowry’s Pass to admire the view across False Bay, it’s almost possible to convince yourself that the degradation of what you have just seen isn’t real. Almost.
But, despite the wild beauty of the Garden Route, it’s not by clinging limpet-like to the shore that I am going to find what is truly unique about the Cape. For that, I head just a little inland. [Read more →]
October 20, 2002 Comments Off