There are a handful of places in the UK that make me feel nostalgic and that I could revisit time and time again. These are they; the places that are woven deep within my ongoing travel story: Cartmel and Coniston in the Lake District; the New Forest; Abersoch and Portmeirion in Wales and the Northumberland Coastline. I returned to the latter this weekend — to Druridge Bay — after Alison from the… Read More

Winter was long, spring is full of hope and this summer will be terrific. I have plans. I have a brand new passport with no stamps, I have a lot to prepare for and a lot to be excited about. Bells of Hemscott First up, this weekend I will be heading up to my favourite beach in the country, Druridge Bay in Northumberland to stay in a bell tent with some of… Read More

The Pig is nothing if not built for maximum comfort. At every turn there is something soft and squishy to throw yourself onto.

Messing about in boats — there’s nothing quite like it. I first got a taste for it when I was seven years old on Loch Lochy near Inverness. My father stationed me at the helm of the little motorised dinghy we’d hired and off we went, zig-zagging erratically across the water. My ashen-faced little brother nervously gripped the sides, while I struggled to keep control. My parents thought the whole thing was… Read More

This month marks the 20-year anniversary of the beginning of the Rwandan genocide. I was honoured to be invited to a remembrance event at the House of Lords in March, after which I wrote a blog post for Wired about the impact of the genocide on the country’s economic and social recovery and my personal reaction to seeing how far the country has come. What I’d like to add to that here… Read More

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… Read More

When one finds oneself alone in Barcelona, what does one do for fun? Why one eats tapas of course.

In my last post I wrote about how I booked an amazing ski holiday in France for myself and my friends for mere pennies (well… almost). What I didn’t tell you (although you might have guessed from the photos) was how much fun the trip was. It’s been a few years since I last skied and it felt so good to be back on the slopes, and with some of my best friends… Read More

I’ve been skiing since I was about nine years old, and so I know by now that’s there no way around it completely: skiing just ain’t cheap. That said, if you’re wily, there are ways you can book an awesome ski holiday on a more limited budget. If you’re a family and you’re careful, you can self cater in an apartment with the kids of a sofa bed, for example — but… Read More

Pastel-hued houses, a renowned antiques market and Hollywood validation mean that Notting Hill is one of the most famous and desirable corners of London. It’s easy to see why people are so keen to pay the area a visit as they pass through London or even try and settle here. To be perfectly honest, Portobello Road is so rammed at the weekends it can be a little overwhelming if you’re not keen… Read More

If I were to write what I know, as they say they should, I would tell you that it is February and London is not at its best. It is a few months yet until the people pour out into the streets at 6pm or thereabouts, and upon seeing the sun still lingering in the sky, feel that the day is still full of possibilities. Instead then — especially what with it… Read More

When the Stranger says: “What is the meaning of this city? Do you huddle close together because you love each other?” What will you answer? “We all dwell together To make money from each other”? or “This is a community”? T. S. ELIOT, The Rock It’s all too easy when you’re living in London to discover that you’ve been scurrying back and forth along your personal ant trail for a while without… Read More

I like to think I’m open minded about different cultures, but if I’m really honest with myself there are some countries I feel like I just… connect with on a deeper level. The one factor they have in common isn’t spiritual or political or profound in any way – the answer lies in a simple appreciation for cake. An easy test is as follows: does a place have an abundance of shops… Read More

Christmas in my family has been the same for years – there are only two places it can occur and it’s always the same ten or eleven people in the attendance. The years have slipped by though and now it’s the children rather the parents who are the ones with the responsibilities and complicated work schedules that celebrations need to be organised around. By pure coincidence, four of the family’s junior doctors… Read More

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… Read More