The Surprising Chemistry of Maltese Balconies

It’s impossible to miss Maltese balconies when in Malta. (Hence their name!) They come in all shapes, sizes and colours, and brighten up our island. But a little-known fact is that, when they first started spreading throughout 19th century Valletta, they were typically painted with a deadly green  paint called Vienna Green. It’s a lucky…

Beijng’s Forbidden City

  A hundred years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to set foot in this place.  Only royalty, concubines and eunuchs could wander about the Forbidden City. It’s from here that China’s emperors ruled, set law, and lived for 500 years until the abdication of the last emperor, Puyi. He was forcefully evicted from his…

The Great Wall of China, all to ourselves!

  The air is heavy with the smell of spruce, as I hike my way through the Shuiguan mountains towards the Great Wall of China. I’m on a steep, solitary path that twists its way through larches, spruce, cherry blossom and other tree species. With my two travel partners ahead and behind me, and the…

Inside a 1916 battlefield medical kit

  I spotted this little piece of medical history in Dublin’s General Post Office. Besides being a buzzing postal hub, the building also doubles up as a museum on the 1916 Irish uprising against British rule. The case is a medical kit used on the battlefield, and provides a snapshot of medicine at the time….

Beautiful Rome

  There are times when my body craves beauty. It’s  a slowly spreading itch, which I can sometimes cure by being out in nature, or sitting down with a great book, musical piece or other form of art. But 2016 was a tough year, and I needed a full immersion to detox from the traces…

Inside an ancient alchemy laboratory

In August 2002, Prague was flooded by heavy rains. The results were catastrophic; billions of Czech korunas’ worth of damage, seventeen dead, and forty thousand people evacuated from their homes. In the aftermath, the resilient residents dusted themselves off and started to pick up the pieces. The owner of house number 1, on Haštalská street…