A wander through Positano’s pretty, pastel streets

The morning we set off for Positano was one of indecision and false starts. In the end, we found ourselves bundling into two separate cars and, with the windows rolled down, carefully hugging the via Nastro Azurro all the way along the coast using bright, white Atrani shining in the distance like a beacon as our waypoint. As we neared Positano we played peekaboo with the town as the road concertinaed in, then out, then in again in line with the deep folds of the cliff face. Then, pulling around the final bend, we commenced mission: find somewhere to park.…

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Finding F. Scott Fitzgerald at the Hotel Belles Rives

“With our being back in a nice villa on my beloved Riviera (between Cannes and Nice) I’m happier than I’ve been for years. It’s one of those strange, precious and all too transitory moments when everything in one’s live seems to be going well.” So reads the quotation engraved in marble in the lobby of the Hotel Belles Rives in the Riviera town of Juan-Les-Pins. Its author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, rented the hotel when it was still a private villa in the summer of 1925. His time in this part of France served as inspiration for both my favourite novel…

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The best of Rome

Visiting the cultural, historical, gastronomical, architectural behemoth that is Rome without a plan of attack would be a fool’s errand by any stretch of the imagination. With a blow-by-blow itinerary that included tactical naps, pre-booked, timed tickets, backup bars and restaurants and backups for the backups, there was no way I was going the Eternal City slip through my fingers on my very first trip. I know — I sound like the tourist of nightmares. But I’d like it to be known this is not my preferred approach to a city break. Ideally I’d like to stay for a month,…

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Behind the shot: the Northern Lights and me

This photo of me with looking out at the Northern Lights makes me so happy every time I look at it. But the story of how we got the shot while we were on holiday in Iceland is not what you might expect… I had a good feeling about Hofn from the start, which is odd given that it is not a place that makes a spectacular first impression.  It turns out that I had great intuition: it was a town full of surprises. First there is its name, which is not pronounced Hoffen, as we’d been calling it before…

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Wild swimming in Puglia’s hidden coves

Crunk! Like distant cannon fire, the thunder bounces long and menacing around the rocky rounded inlets due south of where we stand. The sky is split in two as starkly as a half moon cookie, and Porto Selvaggio sits on the dividing line. Just as we settle ourselves on an outcrop to the north of the bay where the sky is still pale, lightning slices through the sky above the squat, square Torre Santa Maria dell’Alto. There is nothing for it, we must turn on our heels and retrace our steps to the car with everyone else on the beach.…

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