Oct 232014
Moroccan cuisine served at Bazar in Rotterdam.

I’d like to thank Mike Gerrard, a fellow travel writer, for passing on the baton in the writing process blog hop to me.

I’ll do what I can to answer the four questions succinctly before finding two more participants.

Since the end of March 2013 I’ve been blogging on my own website, www.go-eat-do.com, also writing posts for National Geographic Traveller and www.countrybycountry.com. Additionally, I blog intermittently on The Huffington Post.

I continue to write newspaper and magazine features and, at the start of this month, received my copy of The Irresponsible Traveller, a travel narrative to which I contributed a chapter about the experience of being run off a national highway in Kerala, India. Michael Palin, Dervla Murphy and Ben Fogle number among the other authors who contributed to the book.

What am I working on?

Today I’ve been working on a feature about my experiences in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan for a man’s magazine. I’ll post an update on this site when it is eventually published (it’ll be going to print soon).

I also completed a blog feature about the production of a herb and spice infused gin. While I was in Rotterdam, at the start of this month, I met a man with Indonesian forefathers who successfully launched Bobby’s Dry Gin onto the market. In my interview led feature, Sebastiaan van Bokkel talks about how his grandfather’s love of jenever inspired his aromatic gin.

Looking to the future, I also pitched a couple of story ideas to editors, in the hope they’ll be commissioned. Tomorrow I’ll be working on a newspaper feature about architecture and design in Rotterdam.

How does my work differ from others in this genre?

I write informed features based on my own experiences and interviews with experts in their field.

I like to get out into the field to acquire insights as well as to meet people who can lend a local and authoritative voice to features about a destination. I try to synthesise my experiences with the views of people on the ground so that I can successfully convey a sense of place.

Studying history gave me knowledge of how to undertake thorough and detailed research, so I always like to check facts and verify details. I think this is important because readers should be able to trust the features they read.

I suppose I’m not as gushing as some writers, as that just isn’t me. That means when I am enthusiastic about a destination, an activity or a dish that I’ve eaten, it’s because it’s exceptional.

Why do I write what I do?

I love sharing positive experiences and conveying how I perceive places.

Not everything I enjoy will be perfect for everybody, but it’s great to receive feedback from people as to how my writing has helped shape their holiday or travel. I’m also interested in hearing how other people perceive the destinations to which I’ve travelled.

I want to entertain and inform. If that also means inspiring people to travel then that’s great. Sometimes that might mean people venturing outside their comfort zone but going beyond what we already know helps us grow and learn.

How does my writing process work?

I’m an avid note taker, as I think it’s essential to jot down observations and ideas while they are fresh. To achieve this, I tend to keep a Moleskine notebook in my pocket at all times. I can refer back to them well into the future, confident I’m bringing an accurate personal touch to my writing.

Additionally, I find it useful to gather quotes using an Olympus Dictaphone. The same piece of kit is also good for recording ambient sounds, which can be useful in jogging my memory when I’m at my desk.

My photos feed into my writing process too, because sometimes it’s easier and more efficient to make a pictorial note than to stand in one spot jotting notes.

I tend to start writing early in the day, continuing until early in the afternoon, and then edit my work. I use the late afternoon for administrative and organisational tasks. Ideally, if a feature deadline is approaching, I like to complete my work a couple of days in advance, have a good night’s sleep, and then read through the piece when I’m fresh before submitting it to my editor. It gives me a bit of distance from the initial time of creation and allows me to be objective in assessing what I’ve written.

Passing the baton

I’m going to pass the writing process blog hop on to Sophie Collard, who specialises in train journeys on Soph on Track and dark tourism on Travel Darkly, plus the travel blogger Nila Tamaraa.

Oct 232014
Gateshead Millennium Bridge coloured pink in order to raise awareness of breast cancer, part of the 'Pink Landmarks' project by Breat Cancer Campaign. Photo by Stuart Forster.

Last night I photographed Gateshead Millennium Bridge on an assignment, a project that will be used as part of the Breast Cancer Campaign‘s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

You can see the photos on the Rex Features website and may catch a glance of some of them in publications over the days ahead.


Oct 232014
Boat and skyscrapers at the Wijnhaven in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Photo by Stuart Forster.

It was great to get over to Rotterdam, in Holland, from 29 September to 1 October.

While in Rotterdam I visited the new Markthal and chatted to the architect Winy Maas.

A feature on my visit was published on ABTA Magazines’s countrybycountry.com website a week after my return. You can see my feature here, Meandering Through The Markthal.

I wrote a more general feature about Rotterdam for The Huffington Post, A Look at the Architecture of Rotterdam.

On go-eat-do.com I published an interview with Sebastiaan van Bokkel, the maker of Bobby’s Dry Gin, who explained the key difference between jenever and gin. You can read it here, Learning the difference between jenever and gin in Rotterdam

You can find a number of my photos from the trip on the Rex Features website.