Lumbini – first impressions and second thoughts

The second installment of my writing on Nepal is in The Japan Times today – this time it focuses on Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha that I blogged about back in April. In the article, I describe how I was underwhelmed with Lumbini on first acquaintance. That’s putting it kindly – I spent the first 24-hours […]

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Swandown – two men, 160 miles, one pedalo

Ahh… swan boats. Few lakeside beauty-spots in Japan are complete without a garish swannery of cygnus-shaped pedalos – and Lake Yamanaka famously goes one better, with swan-shaped cruise ships ferrying tourists around to the strains of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’. Turns out these birds migrate, and there’s a flock, badly off-course, at Hastings, the southern English seaside town where […]

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Aalborg: the best little city in Denmark?

Is Aalborg the best little city in Denmark? I’ve only been in the country a week, but it’s getting my early vote. If you can ignore the McDonald’s and Burger King on its central pedestrian drag, then central Aalborg is a dense little dollop of Scandicharm with a fabulous fjordside location, some striking historical buildings, proper cafes, […]

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Olav, Norway’s Arthur – Trondheim’s St Olav Festival

He’s ‘Norway’s Eternal King’, the Rex Perpertuus Norvegiae – and he reminds me a little of King Arthur, our own Rex Quondam, Rexque Futurus, ‘Once and Future King’ (why do these mystical titles always have to be in Latin?). But Norway’s Saint Olav has a rather more robust historical existence – and under Norway’s 1163 Succession […]

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