Slemish: St Patrick’s Mountain in Northern Ireland

Slemish: St Patrick’s Mountain in Northern Ireland

I have been a regular visitor to Northern Ireland over many years, visiting the town of Ballymena, County Antrim. And anyone familiar with the approach to Ballymena will recognise Slemish. Towering over the surrounding flat landscape, Slemish is unmistakable and, when the mists clear, unmissable. It is also St Patrick's mountain.The story goes like this: at the age of 16, the teenager who would become St Patrick was captured in England and brought to Ireland against his will. For the next Read more [...]
Little Moreton Hall: A Tudor timewalk

Little Moreton Hall: A Tudor timewalk

Few periods of European history have quite the splendour and mystique of Tudor England. The age of Henry VIII and his six wives, of Bloody Mary and Elizabeth I, the period is known for its violent history and religious upheaval, set against a backdrop of elaborate fashions where doublets, hose and ruffs were the order of the day. But the period is also known for its distinctive architecture, and Little Moreton Hall in South Cheshire is a spectacular example.A traditional half-timbered manor Read more [...]
Traditional dance around the world

Traditional dance around the world

One of the joys of travel is to experience the best of cultures the world over. Music and dancing is a huge part of my life at home, and I’ve been lucky enough to experience it in many styles across the globe, sometimes as a display for tourists, sometimes in its most authentic form. Here are my 12 favourite traditional dance experiences - what are yours? 1. Kathakali dancers, Kerala, India India’s Kathakali dancers hail from the southern state of Kerala, and I was lucky enough to see Read more [...]
The Mourne Mountains: Northern Ireland’s southeast

The Mourne Mountains: Northern Ireland’s southeast

If you are visiting Northern Ireland, you could do far worse than a day or two spent exploring the Mourne Mountains. Nestled in the far south of County Down, the stunning peaks (of which the highest is Slieve Donard at 850m, Northern Ireland's highest point) rise out of the Irish Sea to provide breathtaking hiking and scenic drives across hillsides covered in moorland, farmland and pastures.Formed some 56 million years ago from volcanic magma which hardened and evolved into granite peaks, the Read more [...]
Explore historic Ely, Cambridgeshire

Explore historic Ely, Cambridgeshire

The historic city of Ely lies just north of Cambridge, and within easy reach of London and the Norfolk coast. It makes for a great day out, but why should you visit?Ely Cathedral Dating from 1083, the crown jewel of the city is the beautiful Anglican cathedral which stands proudly above the town. According to legend, Ely means “Isle of Eels” (from the eel-catchers of the surrounding fens), and the cathedral stands on the only area of high ground in this part of the flat Cambridgeshire landscape. Inside, Read more [...]
Portrush to Castlerock: Northern Ireland’s northwest coast

Portrush to Castlerock: Northern Ireland’s northwest coast

The part of the Northern Irish coast to the west of the Giant's Causeway is the province's holiday playground. With white sand beaches, caravan parks and coastal towns, it is a great spot for a family break, but it also has history and stunning scenery to explore. So how could you spend a day or two in Northern Ireland's northwest? Dunluce CastleDunluce is a ruined medieval castle, perched on a headland a few miles to the west of Bushmills and the Giant's Causeway. A spectacularly scenic Read more [...]