Rwandan school kids

58 days of extraordinary travel to Rwanda, Uganda and Oman

58 days.  I was away from London for 58 days this year and now I’m back it feels in many ways that I’ve hardly been away but as  my days pass I feel like I’m not looking at my usual life properly straight on, more from a slight angle so familiar things are not exactly as they were.  It will pass but for now, I’m enjoying this feeling of dislocation as it allows me to hold onto my 58 days for a while longer. Travel is a wonderful thing but it is addictive… Continue reading

It’s good to be back in London

‘I’ve been building a school in Malawi’ usually provokes a raised eyebrow when people ask where I’ve been this year. The eyebrow is due to my appearance as a short, slim, city type who is definitely not in the first flush of youth! I say yes, I’ve been digging foundations and laying bricks with a team of local Malawian builders and that hard work and determination make up for size for most jobs. Continue reading

It’s great to be back in London!

I’ve been on a big adventure in Tanzania for the last 2 months doing a couple of volunteering projects followed by some travelling. I love to travel but it’s great to be back in London again.

There are 2,200 photos documenting this latest trip but you’ll be relieved to know that I’ve chosen just a handful to give you and idea of what I’ve been doing and where I’ve visited. Tanzania is a wonderful country with extraordinary wildlife, history dating back to early man and wonderful people but it has great poverty too and needs our support. Continue reading

Days out from London

I do love London but sometimes it is great to take a day out as there is so much to see in the surrounding towns and countryside. So my blog will bring you days out from time to time. One of my favourite things to do is to visit a National Trust property where you can get a good dose of history and beauty, calmness in the gardens, retail therapy in their shop and tasty cooking in their tea rooms. Continue reading

Looking for a weekend away from London? Try Rome!

I love London, it’s my favourite place but sometimes it’s good to go away for a weekend. London is a great transport hub so getting away couldn’t be easier whether it’s to somewhere else in the UK or to Europe.  So this weekend it was Rome!
So you leave London early (very early!)  on Friday and are back in time for Downton Abbey on Sunday, how much can you squeeze into an action packed few days?  Here goes:

The Colosseum and Constantine Arch. We walked around these, felt the grandeur and imagined the gladiator fights inside – helped my numerous men dressed up in gladiator gear.No time on this trip to go inside but it’s pretty good from the outside. Nearby is Trajan’s Forum, Market and Column which you can walk by, again saving time on a tour but leaving plenty of time for photos.  There are ruins everywhere and every corner and turn is a delight. Rome is compact and easy to walk around especially as many sights are very close to each other.  Also located just by the Colosseum is the Vittorio Emanuele monument which is absolutely huge, very white  not universally popular with Romans, it goes by the nickname of ‘the typewriter’ and they say the best view of Rome is from the top as you can’t see it!

Another good batch of sightseeing delights is the area around St Peter’s which gives you the church itself, the wonderful piazza in front of it and the Vatican. Together these would fill a good half day but the friends we were with had booked a Vatican tour for after we had to leave and I’d been already on a previous whistle stop visit. I still remember the sheer scale of the Vatican City and was awe struck by the Sistine Chapel.  We had every intention of having a look inside St Peter’s but the queue was at least an hour long so we wandered along the Tiber and enjoyed the wonderful October sunshine instead.

I love the Pantheon, built by the ancient Romans, it’s their most complete building in the city and is still used as a church despite the hoards of camera clicking tourists that flock in. It is an architectural wonder with its height (43m) being the same as its diameter and has a domed roof with no visible support.  Nearby is the Trevi Fountain which is enormous and takes up most of the square where it is squeezed in along with tons of tourists, many throwing a coin in the fountain which is supposed to ensure their return to the eternal city. From this iconic sight, it’s not far to another, the Spanish Steps which we reached at sun down giving it a mellow feel.


What else did we manage to fit in?  Several drinks stops, lunches, dinners and ice creams!  A visit to the Botticelli and Lippi exhibition,  several churches,some window shopping and some great catching up with long missed friends. Could we have stayed longer – definitely? Did we fit in as much as possible – absolutely!


One final sight to leave you with – in Rome, even gladiators need to do their shopping!


The next blog will be back in London so bye for now.

Fancy a day trip out of London?

As we gear up for a big week in London celebrating the Royal Wedding, here’s a day out of London to contrast with the crowds and the mad build up but still with a royal theme. At Hatfield House you can indulge your love of history, gardens and the fine sculptures of Henry Moore.



Just 20 minutes by train from Kings Cross, Hatfield House is directly opposite the train station. A short walk takes you to the house, or rather 2 houses. One is Elizabethan and the other is Jacobean, built in 1611 and the celebration of its 400 years was the reason for this visit, kindly hosted by folk at Hatfield House. The Elizabethan house was the childhood home of Princess Elizabeth and it was in these grounds that she learned of her accession to the throne and she subsequently held her first Council of State in the Great Hall. The first photos show the exterior, its formal gardens and the Great Hall.

The Jacobean House is much larger and was built using materials from the demolished wings of the old palace. It is very grand and worth spending some time exploring and also interesting as the family use it for part of the year. This family is the Salisbury’s who have owned the house since it was built. It too has a grand hall, fine armour and other collections including Elizabeth’s gloves and stockings! The kitchen bears testimony to the English love of tea with all the kettles lined up and the gardens are both formal and more wild with wonderful blossom at this time of year, a haven of peace and beauty.




As part of its 400 year celebrations, Hatfield House is holding an exhibition of an amazing collection of Henry Moore sculptures, many from the nearby Henry Moore Foundation at Perry Green. We were very lucky to have a talk from the current Marquess of Salisbury and Sir Anthony Caro, a pupil of Henry Moore, to give us fascinating background to this event. The sculptures are displayed around a large area of garden and you can see one in the distance as you enjoy each piece, which pulls you through the collection, anticipating the next piece. The grounds and the sculptures complement each other wonderfully and I hope these photos give you a taster of this treat.








Next week’s blog will be back in London for all the wedding fever!


Bye for now,