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The Real Wild West – inside the Arctic Circle (Vesterålen, Norway)

May 20, 2013

The narrow road is a roughed-out, potholed track gouged from ragged Norwegian mountains. Winding alongside a grey Arctic Ocean, it’s graced with the occasional passing bay and kept in place against northern tempests by discarded mountain boulders. Turning a last cliffside corner I stop the car and push open the door, buffeted by a wild […]

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Clarisse of Arabia – teaching the children (Helsinki, Finland)

January 19, 2014

Outside the station I squint in late summer sun, a grand entrance clad in grey Finnish granite and guarded by lamp-holding titans: stern-faced stone men far too serious to be the animated rap stars of railway advertising campaigns. At their feet, there’s a kid busker with peaked cap and grandmother’s clarinet. With a population of […]

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Towers, Castles and Kane – the lord of all things (New York, USA)

January 21, 2013

It’s Citizen Kane that brings me here, just south of Columbus Circle; to a castle of a place built in 1928 for William Randolph Hearst’s publishing empire. Hearst was a powerful man – with a thing about castles it seems – his newspapers read by 1 in 4 Americans and at the time already owning […]

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Down in the Lucky Country – beggars, charlatons and thieves (Melbourne, Australia)

April 17, 2013

Straight from a long lunch, I raised my umbrella and headed for the pedestrian bridge. Crossing the river, I turned onto the station path; Melbourne cold and soaked after 6-days rain. I recall the soulful sounds of an upright 2-string Vietnamese fiddle commingling with the distant strains of bagpipes that echo from under the bluestone […]

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In Safe Hands – a prayer for Sai Baba of Shirdi (Mumbai, India)

February 3, 2013

A dancing doll bobs on a string of beads slung from the top of a grimy windscreen, swinging back and forth like a hypnotist’s watch. The emaciated figure has a white beard and is dressed in a loose-fitting skullcap and long tunic of white. Meet the Indian mystic Sai Baba of Shirdi; a holy man, […]

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Children of Earth and Sun – searching for Frank Lloyd Wright (USA)

August 5, 2013

The sound of our footsteps is muffled by patchwork drifts of snow on a gravel track winding past the bottom of carpark stairs. Surrounding hills are covered in local rhododendron; the air icy, the trees tall, rough barked and bare. Our guide strides ahead – rugged-up for the 10min walk – black puffer coat full […]

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Lofoten Lost Dogs – back from the brink (Norway)

September 14, 2013

“Puffin dogs?” Hege shakes her head. “You know, there are none on the island at this point in time?” I’m speechless with disappointment. “Yah,” she adds, “but there were hundreds here last week.” It seems we’ve just missed the Norwegian Lundehund Club 50 Year Anniversary – a meeting of puffin dogs from around the world. […]

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Topknots and Talking Stones – the sinking of Easter Island (Chile)

April 14, 2013

I’m met at the airstrip by Toi my guide, with a vice-like handshake and welcoming lei of yellow bougainvillea draped around my neck. Two skinny girls in grass skirts and goosebumps serenade to the strains of a ukulele played by a man in a knitted jacket over an Hawaiian shirt. It’s winter on Easter Island. […]