This England: a gaunt view from Ghent

This sceptred isle, this other Eden, this England and all that. I like to imagine this speech from Richard II spoken in a Flemish accent, given it is delivered by John of Gaunt – or as we now call it, Ghent.

Ghent is a great place to spend a few days, something like a combination of Oxford and Newcastle with an ancient, well-preserved city centre, a major port and lots of students. But going round its excellent museums you get a sense of departed glory. STAM, the city history museum, uses graphics to show how Ghent’s population was comparable to Paris and Brussels in the 16th century. But Ghent is now a city of just quarter of a million people. Continue reading “This England: a gaunt view from Ghent”

Norfolk uses data in libraries’ public health drive

Norfolk County Council has won a national award for its libraries’ health education work, which involves tailoring each library’s work based on local public health data.

In September, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals awarded Norfolk its annual Libraries Change Lives award for the county’s Healthy Libraries project. This involves activities in the county’s 47 libraries including pedal-powered smoothie bikes, hula-hoop challenges and neighbourhood lunches. Continue reading “Norfolk uses data in libraries’ public health drive”

Injured at Glastonbury? Three little words will help medics find you

New app What3Words, also used by emergency teams in a cholera outbreak in Tanzania, can help medical services locate ill festivalgoers amid a sea of tents

What3Words, which provides addressing services that work in the most desolate corners of the earth where people live in the most basic conditions, also covers the Glastonbury Festival.
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Into the woods: how walks are improving mental health

A trailblazing approach to mental health by Forestry Commission Scotland and local health boards is seeing service users go on activity-filled woodland walks

For Guardian Healthcare Professionals Network I have covered Branching Out, a programme run by Forestry Commission Scotland that uses the theraputic powers of woodland to help groups of mental health patients. Since it was launched in Glasgow in 2007, it has spread to most of the NHS boards in Scotland. Continue reading “Into the woods: how walks are improving mental health”

Art in Amsterdam article for Railbookers All Aboard magazine

Railbookers, the rail specialist travel agency, publishes a magazine called All Aboard. I have an article in the latest issue on art in Amsterdam, based on a trip just over a year ago which I wrote about for Beacon.

I focused on two galleries. One, the Rijksmuseum, is the obvious choice – although that doesn’t make it any less brilliant, particularly following its recent renovations. The other is less well-known, and is happy to be so given it only has capacity for a handful of visitors each day: the Six Collection, situated in the Six family’s grand house on the Amstel.

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