From Bean to Bar. Chocolate in Samoa

Samoa is not known for its exports, outside of rugby union players, but it has a small but growing industry in producing extremely tasty chocolate. 

Bumping into Crater Man on a trip up a Volcano

While travelling on Samoa's less populated island Savai’i I headed deep into the interior to visit the Mount Matavanu Crater. Not only can you look deep into the impressive crater whose eruption reshaped the islands east coast, but you will be able to meet Crater Man, the guardian of this volcanic wonderland. 

Robert Louis Stevenson and Samoa

With rain splashing against my hotel window in the middle of a British winter I was engrossed in reading Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the Victorian bestseller about the horrors that can happen with a split personality. After finishing the book I researched a little more into the author, Robert Louis Stevenson, a Scot who I imagined had lived and worked in a lonely garret in his native Edinburgh. 

On the trail of Nicolae Ceausescu

The first (and still only) country to ever refuse me a visa was Romania. The country fascinated me, particularly the megalomaniac building projects of its leader Nicolae Ceausescu. But it was not to be, and I was refused entry by his government. 

Top 10 Things to do in Bucharest

Prior to the Second World War, and the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu, Bucharest was known as the 'Paris of the East'. Fifty years of unbridled construction of ugly Soviet-style utilitarian buildings has definitely put a dent in that image, but it still remains a great city to visit with plenty of activities for the visitor.

A Day Trip to Whisky Heaven. Islay

When I left home and moved to London at 18 I tasted Whisky for the first time at a party. It was a blended mix, the rather cheap (and it turns out, really nasty) Cutty Sark, and I foolishly drank over half the bottle. I was so sick I remained in bed for 2 days and the very smell of Whisky made me want to vomit.

The Monumental memorial to a Heroic Defence. Brest

I have always been a fan of Soviet gigantism from the skyline dominating Motherland statue in Kiev to the outsized Defender of the Soviet Arctic in Murmansk. While spending a few days in Minsk a day trip to Brest to see the mighty statue named Courage in the military fortress was an opportunity I was not going to miss.