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.
Continue reading “Art in Amsterdam article for Railbookers All Aboard magazine”
Oxford is a very crowded place, and it is very hard to build anything there. As a result, the greatest single part of the University of Oxford Bodleian Library collection – the Book Storage Facility, holding 8,328,367 books (and roughly 1.5m maps) on the day I visited – is not actually in Oxford, but on the Keypoint trading estate just north of the A420 on the edge of Swindon.
The beautiful new Weston Library on Broad Street, opened last spring, would not exist without the Book Storage Facility, because the latter holds all the books that were previously stored in the space that is now the atrium and exhibition space (including the Sheldon Tapestry Map of Worcestershire, featuring Chipping Norton). And the Book Storage Facility would not exist without a load of IT: the environmental control systems, the Bodleian catalogue and the software that works out the routes for the pickers that retrieve and return items to the huge 11-metre high shelves. Continue reading “Oxford Bodleian Library’s Book Storage Facility (in Swindon)”
Spain has turned much of its coastline into a playground for foreign tourists, in particular Britons buying second and retirement homes. That doesn’t mean the UK shouldn’t treat it seriously.
First published on Beacon. Continue reading “How Spain built itself into a country for tourists”
The Register has published my article on a visit to the Spaceguard Centre, near Knighton in Powys. This privately-run observatory is Britain’s only facility dedicated to monitoring Near Earth Objects (NEOs), large Earth-bound asteroids and comets that could do anything from blow out thousands of windows (as happened in Chelyabinsk in 2013) to taking us the way of the dinosaurs.
The good news, according to Spaceguard founder Jay Tate, is that unlike the dinosaurs we have a space programme, and are perfectly capable of spotting and moving any rogue NEOs before they hit. Best not to nuke them like Bruce Willis – turns out you can simply nudge them on to a different course.
We do need to get better at the spotting part than at present, which is where Tate and the Centre come in, through educating visitors and using the entrance fees, donations and gift shop receipts to fund more spotting.
Continue reading “Visit to the Spaceguard Centre in Powys for the Register”
Tyneside in England’s north-east has a revived centre for everyone in Newcastle and Gateshead, but its coastal edges are struggling, like Whitley Bay, or moving upscale like Tynemouth. It’s like Britain in miniature.
Originally published on Beacon.
Continue reading “From Tynemouth chic to Whitley Bay, where every day is like Sunday”