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The Mourne Mountains: Northern Ireland’s beautiful 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[…]

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Central Asia: rebuilding a heritage

I spent a couple of weeks this summer in Central Asia, visiting the Silk Road nations of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. These countries have had a chequered history. From a rich heritage as trading posts, and at the heart of Timur’s vast empire, all three nations have natural beauty but also magnificent historic cities, fortresses, mosques and madrassahs which play a substantial part in their[…]

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Turkistan and Otrar: Exploring Kazakhstan’s deep south

We arrived in Turkistan on a Thursday. It was our first day in Kazakhstan; after an overnight train journey from Bukhara to Tashkent, we took a private bus to the border. Kazakhstan was a shock to the system right away; very different from Uzbekistan, less Islamic and less developed, the wide open spaces and long distances were immediately striking. The drive north took us along[…]

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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[…]

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The night train from Bukhara: Travels through Uzbekistan

It’s quarter to ten on a Wednesday night, and I’m standing on a station platform in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. I’m here on a trip-of-a-lifetime, bucket-list kind of adventure – and that’s saying something for someone who travels as much as I do. But for many years now I’ve dreamed of visiting the beautiful squares and madrassahs of Uzbekistan, with their towering turquoise domes and exquisite mosaic[…]

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Kibera: Discovering life in an African slum

Something that’s really important to me is to learn about everyday life in the countries I visit. It doesn’t matter whether the country is affluent or impoverished, I want to see behind the tourist veneer and get a glimpse into how people live, the reality of normal life. In the past, this has taken me to supermarkets, residential streets and, in India, a multiplex cinema[…]

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