A local’s guide to Havana, Cuba: 10 top tips

Cuba’s capital is changing and a lot of the cutting-edge art and new wave restaurants are in characterful districts away from the much-visited old city

Dryburgh Abbey – Scottish Borders

Excerpt from the book Travels through History : Northern Ireland and Scotland  Belfast and the Causeway Coast has been rated best region in the world to visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet. In September 2017, Scotland was voted the most beautiful country in the world by a respected travel company, Rough Guides.

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In 1124 King David I came to the throne of Scotland. His brother-in-law was the then king of England Henry I. David established a feudal system in Scotland and introduced many novel ideas such as silver coinage, promoting education and giving royal audiences to rich and poor alike. Stirling, Perth and Dunfermline were made royal burghs which meant that they could engage in foreign trade.

However, David’s biggest desires for Scotland were to create a lasting peace with its southern neighbour and to create a nation where the influence of the Church would have a positive social effect, much as it had in the England of the time. Where better place than the Scottish Borders then, to show this demonstration of goodwill towards England, that the Scots shared their religious belief but did have the power and wealth to build large religious houses of their own? The result was the founding of four large abbeys: Kelso in 1128; Melrose in 1136; Jedburgh in 1138 and Dryburgh in 1150 with each of the buildings being the home of a different order of monks.

Dryburgh was founded in 1150 by Hugh de Moreville, one of the many Anglo-Normans who came north with David I in the first half of the 12th century. As High Constable of Scotland, de Moreville was one of the most powerful men in Scotland and had estates throughout the Borders, Ayrshire and in England. Despite his obvious piety (he enrolled as a novice in his old age) his son was one of the murderers of Archbishop Thomas à Becket at Canterbury in 1170.

The most underrated US attractions.

Sidestep big cities and theme parks to explore a bridge leading nowhere, great galleries, steaming volcanoes and outposts of US history

Eyes on the prize: on the civil rights trail in Washington DC

As America lurches to the right, we check out the cultural heritage sites associated with Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement

What a Shambles: a walk around York’s ancient walls and alleys

A grand railway station and one of Europe’s largest cathedrals contrast with tiny medieval lanes on this stroll through the ancient capital of England’s north

Marshes, mud flats and migrating birds on Denmark’s Wadden Sea

A futuristic thatched visitor centre is the latest focal point in Denmark’s Unesco-listed coastal national park, perfect for twitchers, cyclists and oyster lovers

Callanish Stone Circle – 1

After I visit places such as Callanish I am always bewildered, as I am sure that I can’t satisfactorily answer any of the obvious questions – why was it built, how was it built, who built it, what was the reason for building it here rather than on any other hillock in the area? Even the question as to when the site was constructed is open to discussion.

Callanish comprises a number of different elements – a stone circle containing a central monolith and a chambered tomb, three rows of stones intersecting with the circle, and an avenue of stones heading roughly northwards away from the circle. All the stones are Lewisian gneiss and were quarried locally.

The stone circle consists of thirteen stones, with an average height of 3 metres. The circle is not quite perfect as the east side is slightly squashed. The circle covers an area of 124 square metres with a diameter of 11.4 metres. The circle was built between 2,900 BC and 2,600 BC making it slightly older than Stonehenge.