Category Archives: Travel

Tips for visiting Cuba for the first time

Tips for visiting Cuba for the first time.

Here’s what I learnt from my recent trip to Cuba that might be useful for the first time visitor to the country.

Trekking to Fidel's hideout

Trekking to Fidel’s hideout in the Sierra Maestra

Water – Don’t drink tap water! Always drink bottled mineral water that is readily available throughout Cuba. Continue reading

Classic Cuba with Explore Worldwide

My wife and I have just returned from 15 days exploring the Caribbean island of Cuba, and what a fabulous trip it was.

All photos copyright Alan Pewsey

Vibrant colours from Havana's old buildings and classic 1950s American cars

Vibrant colours from Havana’s old buildings and classic 1950s American cars

Cuba has had a turbulent history over the last 500 years or so with the involvement in the slave trade and the English, French and Spanish all claiming sovereignty at one time or another. Add into this the well documented fall out with near neighbours the Americans over the last 60 years, and the current embargo following the rise of Fidel Castro and communism, and you have a melting pot of cultural influences that have formed a uniquely colourful and culturally rich country to visit. Continue reading

Travel: Beautiful Belgium part 4 – Bruges

Our last stop on our Belgium travels

The last stop on our brief tour of Flanders was the beautiful city of Bruges. (read part 3 here)

Boat trips on the Bruges canals are a popular tourist pastime

Boat trips on the Bruges canals are a popular tourist pastime

Bruges is the capital of West Flanders and famed for its canals, cobbled streets and medieval buildings. The old city within the city walls only has about 20,000 residents, so visit at the right time outside the peak tourist season and the city has a relaxed uncongested feel which is what we found when we visited in late September.

Staying in a Continue reading

Travel: Beautiful Belgium Part 3 – Ghent

Leaving the First World War memorials behind

After our very interesting stop around the Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery and Memorial and the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917, we left the WW1 memorials behind and headed for an overnight stop in Ghent.

Travel: Beautiful Belgium and WW1 history Part 1

Travel: Beautiful Belgium and WW1 history Part 2 – Ypres

Beautiful Ghent

Ghent is the capital and largest city of the East Flanders province and has a population of over 250,000. Not the usual ingredients to tempt us to stop over but I had heard that the city was very beautiful so why not.

Beautiful Ghent beside the Leie canal

Our BnB was located a short stone’s throw from the St Baafskathedral in the city centre, and after settling in we ventured out to explore. The city is dominated by a very impressive centre of 3 fine church buildings and a 4th modern building described by the locals apparently as the ‘Sheep Barn’ located next to each other in a line.

The Sheeps Barn!

The ‘Sheeps Barn’ was built in 2012 and sparked an angry letter from UNESCO apparently for not being warned. It is certainly very ‘striking’ and is all roof and no walls!

Either side of the Sheep Barn is the more traditional St Niklaaskerk church and the Belfort (Belfry) which is a typical Flemish watchtower built as a symbol of power during the middle ages and a UNESCO World Heritage site. There is a stunning view from the top apparently and the clock chimes are very musical! All in all the buildings and towers make up a lovely part of the city to spend a few hours on a sunny summer afternoon. Unfortunately for us it was rainy and a bit gloomy but we will just have to pay another visit.

The Belfont (Belfry) in Ghent at night

The Belfont, Ghent

Continuing our wander through the city the lights started to sparkle as twilight descended and the city took on an incredibly impressive night time beauty. We headed up to St Jacobskerk  before crossing the Vrijdag Markt and joining the Leie canal and following the cobbled streets alongside the canal towards St Michielskerk and the bridge alongside. Hardly a 100 metres passed on our walk without another beautiful vista to capture on camera. Back passed the avenue of towers where we started out after a beer by a canal side bar, and we came across an outside event at the cathedral.

The Last Supper

A film projection of the Leonardo Da Vinci Last Supper painting with accompanying classical music was being brought to life on the outside of the cathedral. Lasting about 10 minutes the film depicted the painting but the characters were moving. Apparently the film is doing a tour of churches and I think it was the opening night.

Two beautiful buildings in Ghent make the city spectacular to visit in the evening

Beautiful buildings in Ghent

The following day and we decided to walk more of Ghent in daylight before heading to Bruges. Without the lights the city still has lots of beautiful buildings and I imagine in better weather it would be an ideal stop for a more leisurely visit. However, our trip continued as we left for our last stop at Bruges.

More information

Visit Ghent tourism site:

Travel: Beautiful Belgium and WW1 history Part 2 – Ypres

From Diksmuide and on to Ypres

After our exploration around Diksmuide and the Trench of Death and Yser Tower, covered in my blog post Travel: Beautiful Belgium and WW1 history Part 1, we continued our Belgium journey to the beautiful city of Ypres (leper).

Ypres-cloth-hall

The impressive Cloth Hall dominates Ypres Grote Markt.

We had booked another AirBnB for our brief visit and what a find it turned out to be too. ‘Casa Martini della Corte‘ is the beautiful and Continue reading

Travel: Beautiful Belgium and WW1 history Part 1

West Flanders

We’ve just come back from 5 days touring West Flanders in Belgium, and what a fabulous country it is.

Trench of death World War 1 memorial site

Dodengang, West Flanders. Photo: Copyright A Pewsey

A brief 48 hour visit to Brussels and Bruges on a boys weekend away 2 years ago had whetted the appetite for a Continue reading

The finest view in England?

Sutton Bank, North York Moors National Park

A recent visit to Yorkshire to attend a Mountain Rescue conference in Leeds gave me the opportunity to briefly explore the area. This lead me to Sutton Bank in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park.

Sutton Bank the finest view in England according to James Herriot

The finest view in England according to James Herriot

Apparently Yorkshire author James Herriot, famous for his series of books about his life as a Yorkshire vet, declared the view from the Sutton Bank escarpment over the Vale of Mowbray and the Vale of York, the “finest in England”.

Now, I think you’ll agree that Continue reading

A journey, not a destination

You are not a Pewsey until you’ve had your photo taken

For generations of Pewsey’s, it was a right of passage to have your photo taken outside Pewsey Post Office in Wiltshire.

Pewsey Post Office in the 1960s

My mum outside Pewsey Post Office in the 1960s

According to Wikipedia, “Pewsey is a large village and civil parish at the centre of the Vale of Pewsey in Wiltshire, about 6 miles (9.7 km) south of Marlborough and 71 miles (114 km) west of London”. It’s a lovely Continue reading

Classic motorbike and sidecar roadtrip

1204 Miles from Devon, England to Pisa, Italy

For the last few years my pal Dick, myself and a few others have been sharing extended roatrips across Europe on a classic DNEPR Motorbike and sidecar combination.

Our route from Devon to Pisa

Our route from Devon to Pisa

The bike is a 1981 DNEPR MT10-36 with 2wd, commonly known as a ‘Cossack’ which includes other bikes such as the Urals.

Continue reading

Mount Cook and Lake Pukaki

New Zealand’s stunning south island

Driving past Lake Pukaki on New Zealand’s South Island, we were greeted with this beautiful scene over Lake Pukaki looking towards Mount Cook, (Auraki) the tallest mountain in the Southern Alps in New Zealand.

The stunning Lake Pukaki in front of New Zealand's highest mountain, Mount Cook (Auraki)

The stunning Lake Pukaki in front of New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mount Cook (Auraki)

Absolutely stunning I think you’ll agree. Views like this are very much the norm on New Zealnd’s south island and if this doesn’t encourage you to visit and experience the country yourself, nothing will!

Thanks to Peter Stephens Photography for processing the image for me.