Dec 012015
 
2015 Travel Media Awards - Finalist in the Travel Blogger and Vlogger of the Year award.

This month saw a spate of awards ceremonies, including three in London that I attended as a shortlisted candidate. I was a contender for four major awards, which itself is a significant achievement, though I won none.

The 2015 Travel Media Awards, held at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London on 9 November saw me on shortlists for the Travel Blogger and Vlogger of the Year award plus the Travel Trade Feature of the Year awards.

2015 Travel Media Awards - Finalist in the Travel Blogger and Vlogger of the Year award.

2015 Travel Media Awards – shortlisted for Travel Blogger and Vlogger of the Year award

Alas, it wasn’t to be but chatting to fellow members of the travel media proved both interesting and enjoyable.

2015 Travel Media Awards - Finalist in the Travel Trade Feature of the Year award.

2015 Travel Media Awards – shortlisted for the Travel Trade Feature of the Year award

On 24 November I started the day at a breakfast ceremony within the hall of the Royal Institute of British Architects. I was one of the three people on the shortlist for the Independent Blogger of the Year award at the Comment Awards organised by Editorial Intelligence and hosted by Peter York.

I was placed on a table with journalists and editors from the Financial Times. Collectively the table bagged five awards. None of them bore my name.

Later the same day I headed to Central Hall at Westminster for the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) awards. At the AITO Awards I was shortlisted for the Blogger of the Year award.

Smiles and Champagne in The Savoy at the British Guild of Travel Writers gala dinner

Smiles and Champagne in The Savoy prior to the British Guild of Travel Writers gala dinner

At the beginning of the month I attended the British Guild of Travel Writers’ annual gala dinner at The Savoy. The evening provided an insight into the food and culture of Armenia, one of the sponsors of the event, along with Pas de Calais. I contributed a photo feature, Dresden through the lens, for the British Guild of Travel Writers website that appeared midway through the month.

After the event at The Savoy I went to the World Travel Market at the Excel London. While there I attended press conferences and met with PRs and representatives from tourist boards. It was great to see a number of new products, including Virtual Reality headsets, which look like they have huge potential.

A Virtual Reality headset being demonstrated at the 2015 World Travel Market.

A man demonstrates a Virtual Reality headset at the 2015 World Travel Market in London

I wrote about the impact of Formula One on tourism in host cities for the WTM Buyers’ Club Magazine. The feature includes facts and figures from Mexico and Abu Dhabi plus quotes from sports marketing experts but is too large to attach here.

The Rugby World Cup 2015 provided the basis of a feature about England as the tournament’s host nation.

Tyne Bridge during the Rugby World Cup 2015.

A sign announces the Rugby World Cup 2015 on the Tyne Bridge

On my blog – which I’m now very proud to say was shortlisted for three major awards – you’ll also see pieces on the chef Monk Epifanios of Mylopotamos and the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.

My feature Dresden: Germany’s Most Photogenic City, for the Huffington Post, attracted a lot of Facebook likes and shares

The Semperoper in Dresden, Germany

The Semperoper in Dresden, Germany

I also wrote about golf on some stunning courses in Austria and India for the CountrybyCountry 2016 Golf guide.

My work on training with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at their Depot base in Regina, Saskatchewan was published on the newly launched Canada Travel website.

Training at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Depot in Regina, Saskatchewan

Training at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Depot base in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

Nov 012015
 
Lobsters on the boardwalk in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

This month I spent two weeks teaching students in the Netherlands. I led two week long seminars. One focused on travel writing while the other was about travel photography. It’s always a pleasure to impart knowledge to students who have a genuine interest in the subject. Several interacted by asking probing questions and the overall quality of the groups’ work proved good.

Between seminars I visited Ghent in Belgium and look forward to writing about the city over the months ahead. My first feature is on the annual oyster festival held at the Pakhuis Brasserie. The event has become so popular it is now known informally as Oyster Sunday.

On my personal blog, www.go-eat-do.com, you can read my look at the Negen Straatjes (nine streets) shopping district in Amsterdam. For that piece I interviewed Djoeke Wessing, the shop owner who came up with the name of the area, which is short walk from Dam Square.

You can also see my review of The Bridges of Paris, a beautiful coffee table book written and photographed by Michael Saint James.

If you are looking for things to do, you might find inspiration via my post pointing you towards the interactive Born Ready microadventures site, a cooperation between Wrangler clothing and Alastair Humphreys.

An Eyefi Mobi Wi-Fi enabled SD memory card

An Eyefi Mobi Wi-Fi enabled SD memory card

Testing a wi-fi enabled memory card in my camera proved fun. You can find out how I got on in the kit review via my post about the Eyefi Mobi SD card and app.

Choosing a title for my feature on Thuringia, the state that’s known as ‘the green heart of Germany’, proved easy. In it I take a look at Erfurt, Weimar and Bad Langensalza. Each of those urban areas proved photogenic. The piece provides an overview of the region’s rich cultural heritage.

Half-timbered buildings near the Kraemerbruecke (Merchants' Bridge) in Erfurt, Germany.

Half-timbered buildings near the Kraemerbruecke (Merchants’ Bridge) in Erfurt, Germany.

Dusseldorf also provided me with material for a post examining the shopping, architecture and art museums of the metropole on the Rhine.

I also wrote a couple of pieces for The Huffington Post. My first was about visiting southern France, where I visited the attractive small town Sommières in the Gard department, part of the wine-producing Languedoc-Roussillon province. Here’s a link to my feature entitled Sommières in Southern France: Travel and Heritage.

Sommieres in France

The Roman built bridge in Sommieres, France

That piece was followed by a light-hearted but thought-provoking rant about what I see as the ridiculously early start to the Christmas season in the United Kingdom. Wandering through Newcastle-upon-Tyne I noted how the Intu Eldon Square was displaying a Christmas greeting even before the end of October. That prompted me to ask Why Does the United Kingdom Start Celebrating Christmas So Early?

My feature on for Rough Guides on Lunenburg in Nova Scotia, Canada provided an overview of the colourful fishing town that I visited in July.

Lobsters on the boardwalk in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

Soft toys in the shape of lobsters on the boardwalk in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

Over the past six months I’ve also been writing a column on the 2015 Milan Expo for an in-flight magazine. The world exhibition came to an end on 31 October meaning I’m looking for new column opportunities. By all means get in touch if you’re a commissioning editor looking for regular content.

As the month came to close I was preparing my schedule for the 2015 World Travel Market,  which will be held at the ExCeL London events centre from 2 to 5 November. If you are a PR or represent a tourist board and want to work with me over the months ahead please call me on (0044 – if you are outside the United Kingdom) (0) 7947 587136 or send an email.

Two fellas in Den Haag, the Netherlands.

Two fellas in Den Haag, the Netherlands.

Oct 012015
 
President of the Jury at the 2015 Zagreb Tourfilm Festival.

A couple of emails containing good news were sent to me during September. I was informed that I’ve been shortlisted for three national awards.

I’m one of three people on the shortlist for the Comment Awards’ Independent Blogger of the Year award for my work on www.go-eat-do.com. Organised by Editorial Intelligence, the Comment Awards are now in their seventh year. The names of shortlisted journalists reads like a who’s who of the UK’s media. It’s an honour to be invited to the 2015 awards ceremony, which takes place in London on 24 November.

Days later I learnt I’ve also been shortlisted in two categories of the 2015 Travel Media Awards. The awards evening will be held in at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London on 9 November.

I’m a finalist in the Travel Blogger and Vlogger of the Year category for my work on www.go-eat-do.com.

My feature Take me to the River was published in ABTA Magazine late in 2014 and has resulted in me being shortlisted as a finalist in the Travel Trade Feature of the Year award category.

It’d be great if I can share further good news with you next month but being shortlisted is a major achievement in its own right.

At the Zagreb Tourfilm Festival.

At the Zagreb Tourfilm Festival.

For ten days during September I was in Croatia, where I was President of the Jury at the Zagreb Tourfilm Festival. The festival showcases travel and tourism related films ranging in duration from 60 seconds up to an hour. More than 600 films were submitted for the 2015 festival. Selecting the best films for screening and awards was a tough task. The jury selected the short film Time, from Switzerland, for the festival’s grand prix.

Koenigsbau-Passage shopping mall by Stuttgart's central Schlossplatz.

Koenigsbau-Passage shopping mall by Stuttgart’s central Schlossplatz.

During September I posted three features on go-eat-do.com. The first looked at the Germany city of Stuttgart, in Baden-Württemberg, as a destination for a break. If you enjoy art, culture, history and motor vehicles then there’s much to do in Stuttgart, which also offers rapid access to nearby vineyards.

I also wrote about Gouda Cheese Market, which I visited on a sunny day earlier this year. For centuries the Dutch city has been selling cheese produced on surrounding farms.

The Roman Bridge in Sommières, France.

The Roman Bridge in Sommières, France.

Responsible tourism in the French town of Sommières proved the focus of a feature which I posted late in the month.

With the Rugby World Cup 2015 getting underway in England I wrote a feature on Newcastle-upon-Tyne, one of the tournament’s host cities, for The South African.

My feature 5 Reasons to go Wild in Langkawi, about Kilim Karst Geoforest Park in Malaysia, was posted on the Flight Centre website. The geopark is a great place for a day out if you enjoy nature and wildlife and are taking a break on the tropical island.

A brahminy kite (Haliastur indus) swoops at speed in Kelim Karst Geoforest Park on Langkawi, Malaysia.

A brahminy kite (Haliastur indus) swoops at speed in Kelim Karst Geoforest Park on Langkawi, Malaysia.

I also wrote the post 7 Amazing Pictures That Will Want You to go to Western Australia for the Flight Centre. It’s a great part of the world if you enjoy driving holidays and photography.

The Super Pit goldmine at Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western Australia.

The Super Pit goldmine at Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western Australia.

My review of the Masseria Torre Coccaro, a luxury resort hotel that draws stars such as George Clooney, was published on the Our Man On The Ground website. The hotel is in Apulia, Italy.

Wall of the Masseria Torre Coccaro five-star resort near Fasano in Apulia, Italy.

Wall of the Masseria Torre Coccaro five-star resort near Fasano in Apulia, Italy.

I also spent time working on a handful of newspaper and magazine features which will be published over the weeks ahead.

In the meantime the Sunderland Echo published a story about me and the recent success of go-eat-do.com under the headline Sunderland writer enjoys a taste of success with food blog. Thanks to Kevin Clark, a reporter with the newspaper, for writing that feature.

Mo Farah (GB) heads towards the finish line to win the men's elite race at the Great North Run.

Mo Farah (GB) heads towards the finish line to win the men’s elite race at the Great North Run.

I photographed on the finish line of the Morrison’s Great North Run on 11 September, getting some good shots of the likes of Mo Farah, Mary Keitany, David Weir, and Shelley Woods; the winners of the elite races.

Here’s looking forward to keeping to writing about achievements throughout October at the beginning of November. Have a great month!

Tuna steak with green vegetables, served at the Masseria Torre Coccaro.

Tuna steak with green vegetables, served at the Masseria Torre Coccaro.

Sep 012015
 
The reconstructed gate of Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum in South Shields, England.

August is traditionally a time to take time off but for me it proved a busy and rewarding month.

It was lovely to see my work attractively laid-out on the pages of The Independent on Sunday. I wrote about the Larkin Trail in Hull, to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the death of Philip Larkin, the poet who was a librarian at the University of Hull. Visiting Kingston-upon-Hull proved enjoyable and I’d recommend the city as a weekend destination. I also wrote about the Mas de la Rivoire, a chic bed and breakfast at Villevieille in the Languedoc region of southern France.

My blog, go-eat-do.com, was named as one of the top 50 food blogs to follow in the United Kingdom. It’s always a pleasure to receive feedback like that.

The new posts on go-eat-do.com this month include a review of Restaurant Chez Leon in Brussels, Belgium – a place that has been serving mussels and fries since 1893.

I also added a feature on the city of Sunderland in north-east England because travel writing can (and arguably should) start close to home. With a number of rail offers available at present I thought the post Exploring England by rail: Sunderland might provide visitors with timely guidance.

The National Glass Centre in Sunderland, England.

The National Glass Centre in Sunderland, England.

Following my recent trip along the scenic Limes Strasse in Germany, a 700km route that follows the course of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that once marked the frontier of the Roman Empire in German lands, I wrote about the Roman style food served at Pohl, a reconstructed fortlet in the Rhineland-Palatinate. You can read about it my post New old-fashioned food at Pohl Roman fortlet.

I also wrote about the potential for great travel photography on the German Limes route for The Huffington Post.

The Dinky Guide is aimed at couples who travel together and receives around two million unique visits a year. I wrote about the experience of driving together on a scenic driving holiday in Germany for the site, which was established back in 2009.

Reconstructed Roman tower at Pohl fortlet on the German Limes Route.

Reconstructed Roman tower at Pohl fortlet on the German Limes Route.

I have to admit, I didn’t know what haskap berries were ahead of my trip to Nova Scotia, Canada during July. They are tasty! I experimented with them and created a recipe featuring aubergine and mozzarella cheese. You’ll find the recipe in my post Discovering haskap berries in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Doha, in Qatar, proved a good spot for an unexpected stopover during a long-haul flight in 2014. Find out why I’d break my travel itinerary there again in the post A stop-over in Doha, Qatar.

If you take a look at the recently re-vamped British Guild of Travel Writers’ website you’ll be able to read my feature about events being held to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the death of Vincent van Gogh. Van Gogh is, incidentally, one of my favourite artists.

Detail from The Sower at the Kroeller-Mueller Museum in the Netherlands.

Detail from The Sower at the Kroeller-Mueller Museum in the Netherlands.

I focused on the legacy of Van Gogh in the village of Nuenen, in the Dutch province of North Brabant, for a feature entitled First Impressions, published in the Times of India Group’s Mirror publications.

Cherono took the time to interview me via Skype for a post on the Outdays Adventures blog.

I also had a photography shoot in Newcastle-upon-Tyne with the reality television star Lucy Mecklenburgh for Rex Features. Lucy, known to many people from The Only Way Is Essex, was at JD Sports to promote her new range of Ellesse sportswear.

Lucy Mecklenburgh at JD Sports in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England.

Lucy Mecklenburgh at JD Sports in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England.

I also photographed a handful of travel destinations in the north-east of England, including Sunderland, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Durham. They are now available from the photography stock agencies to which I regularly contribute.

If you want to see some of the photographs I shot using my phone then check out my goeatdo Instagram feed. Feel free to follow the feed to stay up-to-date with my latest travels. See Facebook for regular posts too.

Aug 012015
 
Cheese served with artichoke, lemon, wood sorrel and clover at the Restaurant de Jong in Rotterdam.

The 31 days of July soon zipped by but proved productive.

For part of the month I was exploring Nova Scotia, Canada, an experience which I’ll be writing about over the months ahead. While on a whale watching trip in the Bay of Fundy my 400mm lens helped identify an injured humpback whale. The coastguard were subsequently called.

I was in Halifax to coincide with the arrival of the Queen Mary 2, the luxury cruise ship. She was on a commemorative sailing, marking 175 years since Cunard’s first scheduled crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. Samuel Cunard was born in Halifax and you can find out more about the man and his connections to the city in my online feature, Crossing to Nova Scotia.

An injured humpback whale in the Bay of Fundy off Nova Scotia, Canada.

An injured humpback whale in the Bay of Fundy off Nova Scotia, Canada.

On go-eat-do.com I posted an interview with Jim de Jong, a young, innovative chef who enjoys creating attractive food at Restaurant de Jong in Rotterdam. Jim believes in using vegetables but prepared a meal showcasing cheeses from around the Netherlands on the night I was at his restaurant.

I also wrote a feature about exploring the attractions of New Delhi in India. They include India Gate, the Purana Qila, Humayan’s Tomb and Baha’i House of Worship, often known as the Lotus Temple. There’s much more to see within Delhi, of course. This feature looks only at the things to do and see in the area that, during the first half of the 20th century, became the short-lived capital of British-controlled India.

Cheese served with artichoke, lemon, wood sorrel and clover at the Restaurant de Jong in Rotterdam.

Cheese served with artichoke, lemon, wood sorrel and clover at the Restaurant de Jong in Rotterdam.

The death of Vincent van Gogh went largely unnoticed, even by art lovers, on 29 July 1890. Since his death the popularity of his work has mushroomed and he has proved an inspiration for numerous artists and designers. I took a look at some of the places you can see his work within the Netherlands during a summer that sees exhibitions at 30 art museums in Europe.

The signature of Vincent van Gogh at the Kroeller-Mueller Museum in the Netherlands.

The signature of Vincent van Gogh at the Kroeller-Mueller Museum in the Netherlands.

I started the month in Germany, travelling along the scenic Limes Route, one of more than 150 tourist routes in the central European country. This one follows the 550km course of the Roman frontier in German territory, today part of the same UNESCO World Heritage Site as Hadrian’s Wall. I photographed along my way and fortunately had good weather for much of my trip. After getting home my editing meant log hours at the computer to select and caption the best shots from a road trip which saw me drive well over 1,000km.

A reconstructed tower near Idstein, Germany.

A reconstructed tower near Idstein, Germany.

Sunderland International Airshow also kept me busy with my cameras. The three day event draw the Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows plus other leading aerobatic and parachute display teams. Around a million people headed to Roker and Seaburn in order to watch performances up in the sky and view displays on the ground.

The Royal Air Force Red Arrows arrive at Sunderland International Airshow.

The Royal Air Force Red Arrows arrive at Sunderland International Airshow.

I acquired lots of material for food and travel features in July and look forward to informing you about where they are published over the months ahead.

Jan 182015
 
Female staff in Dirndl dresses outside the Hotel Gotthard in Lech, Austria.

Early in December I headed to Lech in the Arlberg region of Austria for the beginning of the 2014-15 ski season.

I wrote about the region as a whole, entitled A Winter Break at Lech-Zuers in Austria’s Vorarlberg Region.

On Go-Eat-Do I wrote a review of the Hotel Gotthard and also published an interview with the hotel’s chef, Bruno Reichart.

I also reviewed the Hotel Gotthard for Our Man On The Ground.

More will follow in due course.

Jan 142015
 
Opatija in Croatia.

Here’s a feature that I’ve written about the attractive seaside resort of Opatija in Croatia.

Opatija – widely known as Abbazia and Sankt Jakobi in bygone days – was the first official Austro-Hungarian ‘climatic health resort’ on the Adriatic. Wellness treatments still draw a significant number of visitors to the town overlooking Kvarner Bay.

I visited in June while I was in Croatia for the Zagreb Tourfilm Festival.

Find out more about the resort on Opatija’s tourist board’s website.

My feature is entitled Opatija: Croatia’s Venerable Seaside Resort.