Gili Islands mini guide

There are few places in the world where you can sunbathe on white sand beaches while admiring volcanoes in the distance; where you can snorkel with turtles right off the beach and yet pay practically nothing for your accommodation. Like the handful of other destinations that fit that description, the Gili Islands are pretty special — which is no doubt why so many of you end up arriving at An Unfamiliar Sky looking for scraps of information about them. I went to the Gili Islands as part of a six-week trip around Indonesia in 2010 and along with my time in…

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Japanese cookery class at Atsuko’s Kitchen

When KLM asked me if I wanted to take a Japanese cookery class a couple of weeks ago at Atsuko’s Kitchen in Shoreditch, I jumped at the chance. My favourite events are the ones where you can roll your sleeves up and get stuck into an activity, preferably before then proceeding to eat and drink the results of that activity. Twelve months ago I did a fantastic class at L’atelier des Chefs where I cooked a Christmas dinner and earlier this year I spent a wonderful evening learning to mix some mindblowing gin cocktails at the London Cocktail Club. Gin…

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Yazzing out at the Viceroy on opulent Yas Island

Blue eyed, dressed for every situation, Moving through the doorway of a nation… …is not exactly an accurate description of my appearance as I arrived at Abu Dhabi airport, but bear with me while I attempt to tenuously link my stay at a five-star hotel to a new wave band from 30 years ago. We sped down the city’s bizarrely empty highways until we reached Yas Island and the taxi driver pointed to a glowing fluorescent blob in the distance. “That is your hotel,” he said. All bleary-eyed off an eight-hour flight I squinted at the blob. “Blimey… hotel is…

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Making the most of your time away (even when things go wrong)

Travelling makes philosophers of us all. When you’re away there are good times, there are brilliant times and then occasionally there are the not so much talked-about sad and bad times too. How you deal with these is really a matter of personality and experience, but in my INFINITE wisdom (just call me Descartes, or something) I’ve put together some advice — some sensible, some mawkishly sentimental — about how to pick yourself up when times are hard and generally make the most of your time away. When you feel overwhelmed… …find a safe and peaceful spot, then take a…

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7 Super Shots

This post has been inspired by two things: firstly I am taking part in HostelBookers 7 Super Shots, the challenge from the HostelBookers blog to post seven travel photos I’ve taken that fit into various categories. Secondly, the Ansel Adams exhibition at London’s Maritime Museum in Greenwich, which I visited last weekend. It not only allowed me to check out some of my favourite landscape shots of all time up close, but encouraged me to work harder on improving my own photography skills. It’s closing in just over a week, so get down there fast if you want to catch it…

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