A Grand Old Time in Strandhill, Ireland.

Dolly’s Cottage is more than just a museum. It survived the Great Famine, unlike the majority of the local residents. “A huge number died on the journey to North America, disease and sewage were everywhere. That’s why they were called coffin ships. But the alternative was staying and starving to death.” We were given a brief background to the disaster that severely affected farmers in the 1840’s

A nod to the Land of the Rising Sun in London, United Kingdom

‘When you compare the price of a hand painted, made to measure kimono to a Western designer dress it is quite reasonable’. I had to agree with Sonoe, £1000 for the stunning silk gowns did seem like a bargain. She adjusted the kimono jacket I tried on, showing how I could wear it in two different ways. It was from her vintage collection and had a lovely pink tweedy style pattern, circa late 1960’s to 1970’s. Luckily, it was a tenth of the price of the bespoke ones.

Serene & Satisfying, Schiermonnikoog Island, Netherlands

Texel was chosen as one of the top places to visit in 2016, but they got it wrong, my Dutch friend said. Apparently, Schiermonnikoog, which is also one of the West Frisian islands, is way better and also her favourite place in the Netherlands. The rest of the Dutch population agree; it was voted their best loved nature spot. I was sold. However, she warned me that we should also be prepared for an adventure, as when she has missed the last boat before she slept on the floor of the ladies room of an empty ferry and at the foot of a desolate sea dyke. I wondered, how remote is this place?

Do Geordies have more fun? Newcastle-Upon-Tyne’s arty, party & sporty reputation is put to the test!

Once synonymous with ship building, coal mining, flat caps and whippet dogs, the north-east of England’s main city of Newcastle has managed to migrate into a modern metropolis whilst still retaining its character. It hasn’t shed its party town image, nor its reputation for producing great musicians, comedians and sports players. We jumped at the chance to experience some of the new cultural highlights and also the traditional passions of this full of character city.

Unveiling the Virtues of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Part 1.

Amsterdam has had for far too long a naughty reputation, often attracting the ‘wrong kind of tourist’. But this former port town has so much more to offer. I wanted to see beyond the seedy, smoky, party facade, take a little peek behind the right kind of curtains and find out what else Amsterdam has to offer.

Fromageries, Menageries & Reveries in London, United Kingdom.

The Big Smoke. Nodnol. Londinium. The capital of the United Kingdom. A hectic mash-up, where big business, high-class art, ancient history, urban fashion, aristocracy and international cultures all meet and mingle freely. It’s a festival of human awesomeness disguised as a city. Famous wordsmith Samuel Johnson managed to put it succinctly: ‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford’. Too true.

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