Belleval’s Dream: the Botanical Gardens of Montpellier


Botanical Gardens, Jardin des plantes de Montpellier, Montpellier, France Right in the heart of Montpellier, a skip away from the Cathedral, are the peaceful University-managed botanical gardens.  Visiting in the summer, you get a mixed experience:  it’s sure nice getting out of the heat by hiding under the trees, but a lot of plants aren’t exactly at their most interesting…

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Little Holes in the Hills: the Punic Necropolis of Tuvixeddu


Necropolis of Tuvixeddu, Necropoli di Tuvixeddu, Cagliari, Sardinia Cagliari is a town full of unusual details: one of the most unusual is probably the Punic necropolis of Tuvixeddu that basically serves as a dog-walkers’ park.  Other creatures you may see are toads, mosquitoes and die-hard history buffs. In Sardinian, the word Tuvixeddu means the hill of the little holes, which…

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A Day at the Chinese Opera


Chinese Opera, A Ópera Chinesa, Museum of the Orient, Lisbon, Portugal I am fortunate enough to have visited a number of wonderful exhibitions in my time, but only a few of them have had a profound effect on my life.  This one on Chinese Opera at the Museum of the Orient is in my top five most influential exhibitions.  On the…

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Textiles and Toothpicks: Sardinian Ethnography in Cagliari


Ethnographic Museum, Museo Etnografico Regionale – Collezione Cocco, Cagliari, Sardinia Due to its position in the Mediterranean, Sardinia has a unique and interesting culture.  Life along the coast is different to life in the rugged interior of the island, and through everyday items it’s easy to see the tastes and preoccupations of Sardinians across the island. This collection on show…

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Looking Down on Geneva: A View from Salève


Salève, France Who could arrest a creature capable of scaling the overhanging sides of Mont Saleve? So says Mary Shelley in her “Frankenstein”, when the monster runs away to the mountain to escape from those hunting him in Geneva.  It’s an appropriate place for him to roam – the vast slug-like mountain looms over the city of Geneva, and with…

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Defending Geneva: Celebrating the Escalade in 2018


In Geneva, 8th December 2018 Having written at some length about the three-day 2017 Escalade celebrations in Geneva, I will not be adding anything except some pictures from the 2018 event (including some from the infrequently opened Arquebus Museum).  It really is a wonderful time for the city, full of families and tourists all enjoying the fun atmosphere over the…

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