Jerez and its Alcazar

Plaza Rafael Rivero

Jerez and Seville are two of Andalucia’s great cities, and they have much in common. Both were born out of civilisations that were at times pagan, Islamic and Christian and those cultures are written all over the streets and the architecture, and reflected in the way locals live their lives. It’s a fascinating muddle. Jerez […]

The castle at Sintra in Portugal

The Moorish Castle has plenty of atmosphere

Sintra’s an easy day trip on the train from Portugal’s wonderful capital Lisbon. Hilly, with great views and some fairy tale architecture, it’s easy to see why the rich, the famous and royalty built their mansions around the village as an escape from the big city. Sintra itself is touristy and busy but the real […]

Northern Ireland: The Argory   

The Argory

Pondering Northern Ireland, my thoughts are all too often coloured by the Troubles. It’s easy for me to forget that life went on despite the bombs, shootings and the hectoring background noise of politicians that filled my formative years. It’s weird to think that the National Trust was busy there despite all that trouble, doing […]

Verona: A Roman survivor

The Piazza Erbe from above

Italy may change but some things remain resolutely the same. The food is great, the architecture is awe-inspiring and the locals can’t resist a shiny puffer jacket.  On our first evening in Verona, nursing a beer in a touristy but quiet bar in the Piazza Bra, there were plenty of puffer jackets on display. Veronese and […]