A magical Christmas at Château Vaux-le-Vicomte

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...

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Top 10 things to do in London at Christmas

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.

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Celebrating Christmas around the World

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.

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An upcountry adventure with the Jola Tribe

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...

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The magic of Brussels at Christmas, Part 2

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...

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The magic of Brussels at Christmas, Part 1

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...

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Salon du Chocolat visits London… oh my!

  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...

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On the trail of the mythical Kumpo of Kanuma

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...

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Winchester Christmas Market

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...

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A Victorian Christmas Festival

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...

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A typical English fete with a twist

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...

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Smiles, from the smiling coast

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...

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Happy Tobaski!

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...

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Zombies and protesters clash on Brighton seafront

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...

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Images of la Balagne, Sounds of A Filetta

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...

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Calvi Jazz Festival… not just jazz

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!...

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Singing the Forest Awake

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...

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Travel Planning Resources

Travel clothes for women

Check out my guide to all my favourite travel clothes for women.

Book your hotel

Agoda is my preferred hotel search engine. I also use Airbnb ($31 discount) for booking rooms/apartments.

Rent a car

Discover Car Hire is a great site for comparing car prices to find the best deal. They search both local and international rental companies.

Book an experience

When I’m travelling solo, especially to a new city, I use Viator and Get Your Guide to book tours and excursions, in particular, food walking tours or to visit somewhere tricky to get to by public transport.

Protect yourself and your trip

Don’t forget travel insurance! Protect yourself from possible injury, theft, and many other unexpected mishaps while abroad. World Nomads provides travel insurance to travellers from over 140 countries. For UK residence, Alianz Assistance offers insurance for backpackers, as well as annual multi-trip cover and single-trip cover starting from £3.36.  

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