Miu Ne, Vietnam – Kite-Surfing Central

Miu Ne, Vietnam – Kite-Surfing Central

Busy Mui Ne Beach

Busy Mui Ne Beach

Mui Ne with its temperate micro-climate and 6k stretch of golden sand is Vietnam’s kite-surfing central and adrenalin hub.  Surf’s up most days and although that brings with it a breeze its cooling and refreshing under a hot sun and vivid blue skies. Perfect for a kite-surfing or surfing holiday.  The fishing village at the end of the bay is authentic and colourful which means there’s also a surplus of fresh seafood and there’s some unusual sightseeing nearby too.


Saigon – Scooters and Sightseeing

Saigon – Scooters and Sightseeing

Saigon Traffic

Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City as it’s officially known, is the largest city in Vietnam with many visitors flying into the city before moving on to explore other parts of the country like Hoi An, Hue or Hanoi. It’s a city of modern high-rise buildings, traditional Vietnamese tube houses and French Colonial architecture. You’ll find street-food, Pho stalls and high-end eateries, parks, markets and shopping malls.  Here’re my tips on what to see in Saigon and how to get the best out of 48 hours in this frenetic city.  But first you need to know about the traffic….


Malaga Tips – What to see and do for a fabulous 48 hours in the city

Malaga Tips – What to see and do for a fabulous 48 hours in the city

Great food, art, culture, good beaches and a happening vibe. Read my Malaga tips for 48 hours in the city…

Post updated 5 Feb 2019

Malaga cathedralMalaga Cathedral

City Guide – Malaga Tips

Malaga, is a city on the Andalucian coast in Spain. It’s probably best known for being the gateway to the Costa del Sol and for the beaches, resorts and tourists that go with that. But the city has a traditionally Spanish side to it with depth, character and a history which is well-worth exploring. Next time you’re passing through Malaga airport think about taking a cultural swerve and explore the city before moving on to your resort. Read on for what to see and do in Malaga.


What’s Free to see in New York City – Instagrammed

What’s Free to see in New York City – Instagrammed

New York City in the autumn – or should I say the fall – is a fabulous time to see the city.  It’s full of contrast; the russet, yellow and orange-hued foliage looks stunning against the stark skyscrapers and reflective glass tower blocks.  The skies go from steely grey, giving the city streets a more dramatic feel, to crisp clear  blues. I went back recently for the first time in 18 years and discovered some changes, new attractions and re-discovered some old favourites.  There’s so much to see that won’t cost you a dime so here’s my favourites,  in no particular order, via Instagram – one of my favourite social media platforms.

1. Times Square

We arrived at night to see the city lit up and sparkling.  We stayed near to Times Square and I can tell you now that New  York is definitely a city that never sleeps.  Take a stroll in Times Square for people watching – you could even try out the indoor Ferris Wheel in the M&M shop or stock up on Hershey’s.

2. The High Line

We discovered The High Line and walked in the rain along the disused rail line that’s now an urban oasis which ribbons above the Lower West Side.

3. Ground Zero

We paid our respects at Ground Zero.  The last time I was in New York I viewed the city from the roof of the North Tower and still have vivid memories of how it used to look.  The memorial is a peaceful and reflective area. The museum at Ground Zero is well worth visiting although book on-line to avoid lengthy queues.  It’s $24 for adult admission and I’ve included it here because if you’re at Ground Zero it’s right next to it.

This is One World Trade Centre, currently the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere.

4. Grand Central Station

Grand Central Terminal is the busiest rail station in America and one of New York’s most historical monuments.  Definitely worth taking a look  if you’re passing by.  There’re are shops and restaurants if you decide to stay longer.

5. A Walk in central Park

A walk in Central Park is a must if you’re visiting New York in the autumn – the colours and foliage are beautiful.

The park’s just as interesting in black and white.  This is The Avenue which runs up the centre of the park.

 6. Just Walk

There’s loads of iconic New York Street scenes to see just by walking around…

7. Take the Staten Island Ferry

See the Statue of Liberty for free from the Staten Island Ferry.  Board at The Whitehall Terminal (4 South Street, Manhattan).  The Ferry’s free so just stay on for the return journey and see Liberty all over again before you get back to where you started!

8.  Views of Manhattan Island

There are fabulous views of Manhattan Island too –

So those are my free sights to see in New York City via Instagram.  Do you use Instagram?  Leave details in the comments and I’ll follow along.   You can check out my Instagrams here

Manhattan Bridge night-scene

The Tower of London Poppies and a tribute

The Tower of London Poppies and a tribute

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, the art installation at The Tower of London, will be completed on 11 November when the last of the poppies are set in place. The poppy installation, by Paul Cummins, commemorates the centenary of the start of the First World War in 1914. 

Over five million people visited the display of 888, 246 handmade ceramic poppies ‘planted’ in the moat surrounding the Tower of London. The poppies have now all been sold with proceeds going to Service charities.

The Tower of London Poppies

Tower of London Poppies

Tower of London Poppies

I visited the installation in October and quietly pondered the sea of red around the Tower. People gazed solemnly at the poppies and many shed a quiet tear or two. 

The thought that every poppy represents a British, Australian, or Commonwealth fatality from the First World War made the waves of poppies a powerful sight.

Tower lf London Poppies and Tower BridgeTower of London Poppies and Tower Bridge

I hadn’t realised until this year that my grandmother lost two uncles during WW1. My Dad and brother, while researching our family tree, have found out a little about them so I’m going to share a small piece of our own family history with you today in my own tribute to them this Remembrance Sunday.

Brothers Jasper Botting and George Botting  died whilst fighting in France in 1915. We know little about Jasper except that he served with the Royal Sussex Regiment and lost his life on 31 July 1915. He has a memorial in Houplines Old Military Cemetery in northern France. I’m told that my grandmother, now long gone herself, remembered her Mother being inconsolable when the news broke of the loss of her two brothers.

The Battle of Loos, France

We know a little more about George Botting, known as ‘Sim’ to his family. He served with the 7th Battalion East Surrey Regiment and died during active service aged 29 at the Battle of Loos on Friday 8 October. 

A Letter Home

He’d already had a near miss, as described in a letter home, and had endured the terrible mud in the trenches.

Letter home from WW1Letter from Great, Great, Uncle Sim (George)

Transcript of part of George’s letter home…

Dear Min and Chas

Just a line in answer to your letter which I received quiet safe and to say that I am still able at present.

Sorry that I have not answered your letter before but I have been back in the company for a while to let some learners get used to the guns. We have had a good lot of rain lately and there was plenty of mud about, I am really fed up with it, shall be glad when it is all over.

I have had one narrow escape, had a bullet through my hat, plenty close enough; it really made me drop a bit.

Thank Chas for the tobacco. I always look forward to your letters because you are the only one that sends a few cakes.

From your loving brother Sim xxx

George’s name is inscribed in the Loos Memorial in France.

George Botting

Private George Botting who died in active service in the Battle of Loos 8/10/1915

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

Poppy Installation Tower of London

The Weeping Window and Wave segments of the exhibition will remain in place until the end of November 2017 before touring the country. They will then be placed in an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum until November 2018.


St Ives, Cornwall – Beaches, Boats and The Old Green Door

St Ives, Cornwall – Beaches, Boats and The Old Green Door

St Ives is a captivating Cornish town built around a small crescent. Colourful fishing boats bob in the bay and fishermen unload their catches onto the quay.  Tate St Ives overlooks Porthmeor Beach and a multitude of galleries display art and artisan crafts.  Quaint fishermen’s cottages, pubs and restaurants are just a cobbled saunter from the granite quayside.

St Ives was a total contrast from the rugged Cornish coastline we’d worked our way around the previous day and not just in terms of scenery.  Soft golden sands replaced brooding, craggy rocks and translucent waters took the place of steel-grey, seas. The weather had changed completely and we awoke to a glorious October day – perfect for exploring…

Boats at St Ives Harbour