Back in the summer of 1939, my grandmother graduated from teacher training college, fully intending to travel the world before she settled into her teaching career. On 3 September of the same year, Britain declared war on Germany and she was sent to Blackpool to supervise evacuees. She never did fulfil her dreams of travelling, only venturing outside of Europe once – in her old age – to visit family in Canada. I have in my possession her atlas, which she acquired as a young woman in 1937, probably as a gift. I can imagine her poring over it, wondering,…

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As December approaches, I become insufferably gleeful. It may be dark and cold and miserable outside, but there’s a full month of mini celebrations to be enjoyed. Each door that pops open on the advent calendar, each party, each annual ritual dutifully upheld is just as warming to the soul as a hot mince pie and mulled cider to the stomach. While I always migrate to the north of England in true homing-pigeon fashion when the big day nears, it’s also a wonderful time of year to go and explore the rest of the world and see how it celebrates…

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You’re on the Internet and you’re reading a blog, so I’m just going to go ahead and presume you like cats. I recently took a trip to Morocco, which I’m currently writing up in various parts — but to give you a little a taste of what’s to come, here’s a little teaser. A teaser made up purely of cat photos. As in many primarily Islamic countries, cats are far more prevalent than dogs in Morocco. There is an abundance of kitties on every street corner and in every village. Our tour guide Hassan taught us the etymology of many…

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I’m having a night in with a spiced chai latte and a nature documentary, so I thought I’d share with you a little bit about my thing for animals. It’s more of an obsession really. Tiger – Spy in the Jungle might be my favourite telly series ever, and earlier this year I was glued to Frozen Planet. If I’d been any good at science at school, I’d probably be living on a ranch somewhere in Africa right now working on a conservation programme. I’ve already written about the life-affirming experience I had on Crescent Island in Kenya, but I’ve…

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“For however inhospitable the wind, from this vantage point Manhattan was simply so improbable, so wonderful, so obviously full of promise – that you wanted to approach it for the rest of your life without ever quite arriving.” ― Amor Towles, The Rules of Civility I’ve been thinking over the past few weeks how strange it is that places we’ve never stepped foot in can become important and significant to us. There’s one city in the world that everyone has opinion on, has an understanding of, feels they know – because how could they not? New York is everywhere. I’ve…

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