As the door opened everyone gasped in unison. A bright blue life-size hot air balloon filled the adjacent room, rising up out of a glistening snow-covered forest. A big brown bear in the basket waved down at us. These enchanting festive displays made me feel like a...read more
Famous department stores decorated in festive bling, twinkling lights draped above the streets as bright red double-decker buses pass by and sparkling Christmas trees of every size are plentiful. Wine is mulling, chestnuts are roasting and a rosy-cheeked, white-bearded Santa seems to be everywhere at once — how does he do that? — there really is no place like London at Christmas.read more
Christmas in London is just magical. And the annual Christmas lights display, in particular in Regent Street this year, is not to be missed. Follow my self-guided walking tour to see the best of the festive displays.read more
The squelch of grapes and squeals of joy met us in Locorotondo, Puglia, to celebrate the grape harvest in this lovely region of Italy.read more
Every 25th December my family come together for the most important meal of the year, Christmas Day lunch. Curious to know how different people celebrate Christmas I asked a few friends from around the world what they traditionally eat for their festive feast.read more
A traditional Jola Festival is the subject of my 3rd podcast from The Gambia with the transcript and plenty of photographs here on my blog. "Unnerving but fascinating to watch, they used everything from cutlasses and razor blades to energetically strike their bodies...read more
Christmas market stalls, spectacular ice-skating, scrummy chocolates and a delicious glass of Delirium or two! Having fallen in love with the beauty of Brussels’ Grand Place, I already felt our brief visit to Belgium's capital was more than worth it. The main reason...read more
Decadent Wittamer hot chocolate and the beauty of Brussels' Grand Place... I've recently returned from a wonderful weekend exploring Brussels in all her Christmas finery. For many years now I've been longing to visit Belgium but I had never quite made it there, other...
When I was given a pair of tickets to visit Salon du Chocolat in London, how could I refuse? This world famous chocolate show visited London for the first time last weekend bringing together the best chocolate companies from the UK and around the globe such as...read more
When I heard (on Twitter) that a kumpo, a mystical character of the West African Jola tribe, had been spotted near the village of Kanuma, just a few hours drive from where we were staying in The Gambia, there was only one thing for it; I was determined to arrange an...read more
Winchester Christmas Market, which has been running since 2006, has established itself as one of the best in Europe. Inspired by traditional German markets, all the stalls are in delightful wooden chalets in the grounds of the city’s majestic Cathedral. If you live or...read more
For one weekend every year the historic docklands of Portsmouth are transformed into a scene straight out of a Dickensian novel! Singing street urchins, chimney sweeps and ladies of the night (hold on to your husbands girls) are among the many characters in costume....read more
Last summer I discovered the Weed and Wild Flower Festival in a little village in the Sussex countryside. A wonderful fantasy woodland had been recreated inside Bignor's ancient church. I can't imagine how long it took to build (or clear up!) but the effect was...read more
The Gambia is known as the smiling coast of Africa for good reason and I love the smiles of this brother and sister playing around together at a Jola Festival where the brother was initiated. You can read about the fabulous day I had and see more photos on my...read more
Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park was a magical way to spend the afternoon on New Year's Eve 2011. Exploring the pretty craft stalls, listening to the shouts of joy from the ice rink, which looked particularly beautiful at dusk, tucking into delicious German sausages and...read more
Once a year, about 70 days after the end of Ramadan, virtually the whole of The Gambia holds a barbecue! This is the festival of Tobaski (also known as Tabaski or Eid Al Adha) when Muslim families ritually kill a ram in commemoration of Abraham’s willingness to...read more
Locals and tourists alike looked on in horror as Halloween arrived early to the normally easy-going and friendly seaside resort town of Brighton on the south coast of England this afternoon. Thousands of zombies appeared from nowhere, to the dismay of many a bemused...read more
In my last post I shared with you my experience of the wonderful festival held every September in Calvi Rencontres de Chants Polyphoniques de Calvi hosted by the polyphonic singing group A Fileta. For those of you not familiar with this form of singing here's a bit...
Every year Calvi's citadel, which was built over 500 years ago, is the stunning setting for Rencontres de Chants Polyphoniques de Calvi. Although I've visited Corsica a number of times, this was the first time I've been lucky enough to be there for this festival and I...read more
Held every June (21st to 26th June in 2011) the Calvi Jazz Festival is a wonderful time to visit Northern Corsica. I came across the festival by accident during my first visit to Corsica many years ago. I fell in love with Corsica and the Jazz Festival. Here's why!...read more
Wow! I just had the most amazing weekend in Valenza, Italy - 2 days of workshops with the London Community Gospel Choir culminating in a concert on Sunday night. It was a real privilege to be a part of this wonderful weekend. Friday evening was club night and we all...read more
Last month I felt I needed a bit of a boost, having just come out of a 12 year relationship feeling emotionally battered and bruised. Thinking a change of scene would do me good, I asked some friends if they fancied going to the New Forest for a few days camping. I...read more
Join my 'Behind the Scenes' newsletter
Delivered monthly to your inbox with all my behind the scenes news, latest posts and giveaways exclusive to my subscribers.