Londonderry & Northern Ireland with Van the Man

Having spent a few consecutive summers exploring Ireland in a campervan in the 1990s at a time before the Good Friday Agreement initiated the peace process in the north of the country, it was great to be back last summer for the Daily Telegraph.

So much had changed: in the 1990s the border between the province, which then was punctuated with checkpoints and watchtowers, is now completely open, and the only hint that we’d crossed between the North and the Republic was the miles turning to kilometres on the road signs.

Our campervan had changed too, but one thing remained the same – the soundtrack to our trip, never more apt than in his own country: the great Van Morrison.

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My Oxford: our expert’s favourite places

I’ve lived in Oxford over 25 years, and have loved it ever since I first visited it as a teenager from my parents’ home in the neighbouring county of Buckinghamshire. So it was a delight to be asked to write a comprehensive guide to the city for the Telegraph, which appeared in 2011 (see this earlier post). The Telegraph asked me to produce a compact version of this guide, which appears here. This was harder than you’d think, as there are so many lovely paces to choose from – and every Oxford resident has their own particular favourites (which might not be the same ones as mine). But as a travel journalist I had to write the guide for visitors rather than residents, which meant missing out a few of my personal favourites that are too far off the beaten track, or difficult to find. Despite this challenge, it was fun seeing my own city through the eyes of a first-time tourist!

 

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