Hotel Tyrol

Save for a few miles on the shores of the Baltic, the Germanophone world is sadly lacking much in the way of coastline.  What they lack in beaches, both Germany and Austria more than make up for with a thriving network of big resort hotels nestled in the mountains. Hotel culture in France has been largely ruined by the rise of now ubiquitous Accor Hotels. Ibis, Mercure, Novotel […]

Tumbleweed Towns

The horror film 28 Days Later depicts a (fictional) post apocalyptic UK in which our protagonists struggle for survival following the release of a deadly virus and the collapse of society.  When the protagonists reach London they find a ghost city – the empty streets around well-known landmarks looking eerie without people. The scenes were laboriously filmed early on Sunday mornings during the long days of […]

The Do Over

By their nature all sports are physical. Few sports though are quite so physical as the Ironman. Sustaining the body’s power output over a 3.8km swim, 180km bike race and 42.2km marathon is nothing if not brutally physical. But the Ironman is also a sport that, if not exactly cerebral, is at least equally mentally demanding. The decisions you make before the race play a […]

P.S. Again

Palm Springs, you may have noticed, has started to make a regular appearance on these pages, with something approaching an annual visit. Whether it’s the guaranteed winter sun in the gloomy depths of December or proper desert heat in the scorching summer months – Palm Springs always offers a welcome change of climate. PS is known as a Mecca of mid-Century modern design, tucked away […]

Race Across the Sky

Pacing. Muleing. Crewing.  These three simple words are the difference between European and American ultra racing. In Europe, mountain ultra marathons are a solitary affair. You carry what you need. You run alone. You get lost. You struggle. In America, ultra racing is akin to a team sport. Whole teams of friends and family come out to support their runner; supplying them with food and […]


What do you regret?  What did you do that you wish you hadn’t?  Or didn’t do that you wish you had? Are you a cautious person who sits things out then wishes they’d been braver? Or the gun ho type who acts rashly and regrets at leisure? On balance I’m not one for regrets. I like to say yes and hate being timid. Better to […]

Crippled in the Caucasus

‘Oh for a Landcruiser and a pair of snow chains’ I thought as I desperately dug snow out from under the wheels of my rental car. Ironically it was only when I decided to turn back that I got stuck. Anyone who skies will know that it’s a fairly simple proposition that mountains get covered in snow over winter. I spend a lot of time […]

Baku Bound

The British Midland flight to Tbilisi does something rather odd. It flies right over Tbilisi, as if the pilot has forgotten to disengage the autopilot. It carries on for another hour or so across the Caucasus before landing in Baku. After landing in Azerbaijan, the crew twiddle their thumbs for 40 minutes whilst refuelling and offloading passengers – overfed oil executives mostly. The aircraft then […]

P.S. I Love You

Ok, dear reader, let’s not get carried away.  That P.S. isn’t a romantic little postscript.  No – the P.S. – that’s Palm Springs. I’d booked flights to LA some time ago – at least in part to try Air New Zealand’s new Club seat  – but then totally forgot to plan anything else for the long weekend. Time was short but you can pack a […]

Powerless at LAX

“Please return to your seats, fasten your seat belts, put your seat into the upright position and stow your tray tables for landing” You know the drill: the familiar sound of the flaps descending; the whoosh of air as the undercarriage deployes.  The end markers of the runway come into sight, then – hopefully – the gentle thud of the gear making contact with the […]

To Fly. To Serve. To Can’t Be Arsed

To fly. To Serve. This is British Airways’ new advertising slogan. Sadly they weren’t doing much of either last Sunday when I was due to fly back from Brussels. Fog had yet again crippled Heathrow, whose resilience to bad weather is comically poor. My first flight was cancelled. And the second delayed by nearly five hours.  Hungry and mildly irritated, I breathed a sigh of […]

Sound of Silence

Here that? Well, not for much longer. At the end of this month, the BBC World Service will stop broadcasts to much of Europe. For years the World Service has formed part of a daily routine for millions of listeners across the continent, providing an open and trustworthy source of news. Yet on the 27th March, the BBC will switch off their mighty Medium Wave […]

The Beirut Marathon

I’d been so busy the week before Beirut that I’d quite forgotten to book anywhere to stay.  A couple of days before I was due to leave, I fired off a quick email to the marathon organising team to see if it was still possible to get a place in the official marathon hotel.   Quick as a flash, the reply comes to say they’d be […]

The Khartoum Flight

When does travelling feel more like commuting?   Travelling should be fun, but commuting evokes thoughts of tedium.  Perhaps I’m becoming a little jaded but recently all my flights have felt like commuting rather than travelling.  Or maybe it’s just flying in and out of Brussels where the flights are always full of boring men in suits. The silence in the cabin is marked only by the gentle […]