Five great books about…Norway

What do you think of when you think of Norway? A land of fjords slicing into its frayed coastline, one of the longest in the world; cosy fires, endless summers, and snow beneath the northern lights. Norway is a country of just five million people, but it is huge, and diverse in dialects and industries. … Continue reading Five great books about…Norway

Heligoland: North Sea island with its own seal colony

In the middle of the North Sea, north of the German coast, is a small island (well, archipelago really). Inhabited by around 1,100 people, it sits in an area of sea called German Bight. Best of all, it has its own grey seal colony. This island is Helgoland in the German spelling, Heligoland in English. … Continue reading Heligoland: North Sea island with its own seal colony

‘Your Name’ is a cosmic masterpiece

As Storm Ciara raged across the UK and the Netherlands this weekend, I found myself battling across Amsterdam to get to the cinema as everyone else seemed to be hiding inside. For the first time since moving here, I had decided to shun my beloved bicycle for weather reasons when I realised I would struggle … Continue reading ‘Your Name’ is a cosmic masterpiece

Nuclear storage and the future: “Welcome to the new age”

Recently, I went on a field trip to a nuclear waste storage facility called COVRA in the south-west of the Netherlands. The area is called Zeeland, the least populous province of this densely populated country. This watery land is criss-crossed by a series of large barriers, dams, and dykes which were put in place after … Continue reading Nuclear storage and the future: “Welcome to the new age”

The girl who loved islands

There is a surprisingly large number of people who go around dreaming about an island...Tove Jansson, 'The Island' (1961) Day 1 Sometimes the island was half in shadow; it appeared to her that the darkness was not entirely benign. It wasn't a mere absence of light, or a failure of sunshine to get through vegetation; … Continue reading The girl who loved islands

“Probably the worst weather we’ve had all year”: finding space under big skies in the Orkney Islands, Scotland

A couple of years ago, I was taken with a book called The Outrun by Amy Liptrot. The author, whose parents are English but who had grown up on the Orkney Islands, returned to her hometown after a tumultuous decade in London that had culminated in alcoholism. Her beautiful book charts her recovery, and her … Continue reading “Probably the worst weather we’ve had all year”: finding space under big skies in the Orkney Islands, Scotland

Tall ship sailing: Liberty Regatta 2019, Rouen to Scheveningen via the English Channel

The other trainees and me going off to the crew parade at Scheveningen! Read part I of my tall ships story here I am back, and this time, the ship was docked in Rouen, Normandy, for the Liberty Tall Ships Festival. It normally takes place every four years, but due to riverbank restorations it’s actually … Continue reading Tall ship sailing: Liberty Regatta 2019, Rouen to Scheveningen via the English Channel

Learning to sail with tall ship Atyla in Brittany, France

I am on my way to Vannes, in southern Brittany, western France. It is one of my favourite regions in France since visiting 18 months ago on a wintry voyage. Now it is springtime, the pollen is wreaking havoc on my nose and eyes, and the daylight only seeps away at 22:30. Thanks to a wonderful scheme … Continue reading Learning to sail with tall ship Atyla in Brittany, France

L’Île-des-Pins (Isle of Pines), a paradise island in New Caledonia

New Caledonia isn't a place many people have heard of. Sitting east of Australia, about equidistant from Melbourne and Auckland by plane, it's a sizeable collection of islands with a population nearing 300,000. The majority of the population is Kanak, the name for the indigenous Melanesian inhabitants who have existed there for 3,000 years. The … Continue reading L’Île-des-Pins (Isle of Pines), a paradise island in New Caledonia