In praise of The Man in Seat 61

The Man in Seat 61 makes it easy to arrange train trips, and shows you how it’s done, step by step, but what he really does is package dreams. Here’s the world, he says. You don’t have to fly. Take the train. It’s romantic.

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A week on Windermere – 7 ideas for seeing England’s largest lake

Taken at face value – 10 miles long, not very wide, not very deep – and England’s largest lake, Windermere, doesn’t seem too impressive. But it’s the biggest we’ve got, and it’s extremely beautiful, set within the stunning Lake District National Park.

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Travel writers – scourge of the planet?

On Friday 24 May, a record number of flights took to the skies over the UK – more than 9,000 planes in the air in 24 hours (the same day, incidentally, that schoolchildren around the world staged their latest climate strike). That won’t be the last record broken. But it might be the one that forces you to have a serious conversation with yourself as a traveller or, like me, a travel writer.

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Hiking for beginners

Time has passed and the expensive counselling has obviously helped. But, says the therapist – usually with a weary sigh – I am never again to take hiking advice from a man wearing khaki gaiters.

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When in Rome – desperately seeking Caesar

I go by the name of Jules and, before that – named for the day of the week on which I was born in Ghana – Yaw. But most fundamentally of all I am Julian, the name chosen for me by my mother who took a trip to Rome when pregnant and, in turn, was mightily taken with the name Julius.

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6 rules for finding a great local restaurant

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? All you want on your travels is a decent restaurant, where the food’s good, authentic and inexpensive – the kind of place the locals would eat. However, it’s not always so straightforward, and I should know – I’ve spent many years seeking out the best places to eat for my readers, […]

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Sometimes lunch is the only answer

Let’s not worry too much about why I was in Ibiza. Not really my kind of place I’d always thought, until it turned into exactly my kind of place by virtue of the bargain airfare and the promise of some winter sun. Still not really my kind of place I thought as we exited the airport past posters for clubs featuring DJs called things like XXXMixx and not Disco Dave.

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Elvis, burgers and Tupelo, Mississippi

Not much moves on a scorching hot summer’s day in downtown Tupelo, Mississippi. Even the tarmac melts, and when there’s a breath of wind it’s like an oven door opening. Which rather makes you wonder where Elvis Presley – whose hometown this was – got the energy to curl his lip, let alone wiggle a hip.

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What’s your travelling style?

If you had to pick a word to describe the kind of traveller you are, what would it be? Spontaneous, nervous, restless, organised, solitary, inquisitive, confident, relaxed, outgoing, interested, adventurous, accident-prone – or none of these? (If it’s accident-prone – tell me it’s not accident-prone – may I suggest adequate travel insurance.)

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Born in Ghana – the boy from Takoradi goes home

This is where you get to take a peek at the first chapter of my new book, Takoradi to the stars (via Huddersfield) – I’m hoping it grabs you and sends you scurrying to Amazon right away, but even if you’re just dropping by for a moment or two, I send you warm wishes from Takoradi and Huddersfield, wherever you are!

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Tales of my Christmas past

Christmas – a time for family festivities and home comforts. Or, if you’re a travel writer – make that a not very well organised travel writer – a time for ending up somewhere a bit odd, that you hadn’t quite planned.

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Jungle emergency

To get to the lush Cameron Highlands – home of Malaysia’s best-known tea plantations – you go through the old tin-mining town of Ipoh. And to get to Ipoh, you used to have to go through my dad, who was stationed there as a conscripted National Serviceman in the early 1950s.

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Hanging out in Prague

Do you always make a beeline for a city’s best-known sights, or do you give them a miss, preferring to seek out the less ordinary, the off-beat, the – oh go on, I’m going to say it – hidden gem?

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Timeless Australian desert

I took my first trip to Australia in 1998. That’s so last century. No smart phone, no digital camera, just a point-and-shoot compact. Put the photos in an album and never really looked at them again. Until now.

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