If you have ever wondered how a penny managed to find its way into an impossibly small bottle then the answer lies in the city of Sunderland.
Sunderland’s association with glass goes all the way back to the times of the medieval monk Benedict Biscop, who introduced glass to Britain when he hired French glaziers to put windows into his nearby newly built priory in 674 AD. Then in the 18th century the glassmaking industry boomed on the shores of the river Wear as the great shipping links brought in a large amount of good quality sand from the Baltics plus there was abundant cheap local coal. It was even the British centre of revolutionary bakeware Pyrex for over eighty years. The National Glass centre in Sunderland is not only a celebration of the area’s importance in the history of making glass but also provides a learning zone and a creative hub for artists that love to use glass.
Ireland’s fair city, Dublin, is one of twenty officially recognised UNESCO cities of literature. Overflowing with associations to well known bards of the written and spoken word it is an ideal place for contemplating their compositions and appreciating literary wonders.
From colourful art and shiny jewels to local hangouts and historic homes via Surinamese food and microbrewed beers, I took a quick dip into the more cultural edge of this town. I’d love to come back and explore some more!
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.
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.