“Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday,
placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting,
so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear.” – Freya Stark

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and lose yourself in tales from all over the globe.

On Two Legs in the Peak District

Buffeted by a blustery wind, I took in the burnished autumnal hues of the Peak District. A frisson of warmth in the last few days had painted the countryside, and the pockets of trees splashed russet, gold and auburn among the green pastures of the hills. The picturesque village of Castleton, built in grey Derbyshire stone, was dappled with sunlight and shadows as clouds drifted across the sky. I couldn’t imagine a place I’d rather be on a crisp, sunny, November day than at the top of Mam Tor. Mam Tor means Mother Hill; she’s also known as Shivering Mountain. Apparently, the name’s due to some landslips that caused this peak to tremble, but it seems apt for different reasons when you reach the summit and the wind whips wildly around you. Whatever you call her, she’s a majestic feature of the Peak District, with the high, wild Dark Peak in one direction, and the undulating, limestone White Peak landscape in the other. When I moved back to Sheffield just over a month ago, one of the things I was most looking forward to was having the Peaks right on my doorstep. It’s one of the UK’s most beautiful natural areas, and its oldest National Park. I live on the edge of the city, and it takes just minutes to leave urbanity behind and find myself on the winding roads of the Peak District. But for the last few weeks, I’ve had problems with my legs, so I’ve barely left my everyday surroundings of home and university.  I’ve found walking difficult and driving painful, and I can feel my... read more

The little joys of Lisbon in three seasons

I could spend ages talking about the things to do in Lisbon – admiring the almost optically-impossible Sé cathedral, touring the castle, taking a literature tour… but we would be here all day, and it’s hardly groundbreaking stuff. It’s funny, but when I think of Lisbon, which is at least several times per day, it is the little experiences, the feather-light moments of magic, which cause my skin to tingle. So these are the little joys of Lisbon, through three seasons of the city.  Winter   Sink your teeth into a warm, smoky chestnut Be lured by the tendrils of smoke emanating from the many stands, and by the shouts of ‘castanhas, quentes e boas!’ (chestnuts, hot and delicious!) Gaze upon the rich, nutty beauties, roasting in the flat pan. Hand over your two euros, and clasp the warm cornet with anticipation. Peel off the first hard shell, licking the salt from your fingertips. Take your first, much anticipated bite. Gaze at chestnut-less passersby with a mixture of pity and smugness. Linger over coffee No self-respecting Lisboeta drinks anything other than espresso coffees. Learning to take your time and savour the tiny cup is a skill best learned on a dull winter day, when the light and warmth of a small, family-owned cafe is the most inviting thing in the world. When your espresso appears on the bar, treat it like a fine wine, allowing it to settle, and drinking in the rich aroma first. Allow it to cool a little, making conversation with the bartender. Then sip, slowly, pausing to gaze out of the window at the grey,... read more

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