How Did a Puffer Jacket, the Traveller’s Essential, Become Cool?

Puffer jacket with padded sections as seen at Marques' Almeida, Warehouse and Uniqlo

When I reluctantly bought a chunky red puffer jacket to travel with in 2013, I was pretty embarrassed and filed it under ‘style sacrifices made in the name of adventure’, along with mosquito-proof trousers and walking boots. The thing is, few pieces of attractive clothing are travel-ready, and not much of the contents of your average outdoor shop is fashion-friendly. My jacket had suede elbow patches as a hilarious extra detail, for goodness’ sake.

Though it was really useful for visiting Iceland and Peru, I didn’t feel confident in my bright red monstrosity at all and would’ve preferred something that didn’t remind me of my style mistakes in the late 90s and early Noughties (read: huge Adidas blue and yellow boys’ padded coat, worn circa 1999-2001 and alternated with a lime green fleece. It’s a wonder I wasn’t put up for adoption).

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What it’s Like to Visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum, New York

9/11 Memorial Museum Outside View with Pool and Carved Names

It doesn’t feel like 15 years have passed since the 9/11 attacks, nor two years since the 9/11 Memorial Museum opened at Ground Zero. Yet, somehow, they have, and the memorial site at Ground Zero is so familiar and so firmly embedded on the tourist route that group of lads on a stag party (or bachelor party, to American readers) will nonchalantly pose in front of the two sobering memorial pools, a blow-up doll alongside them.

The stag photos rightly caused controversy this week, but the outrage didn’t extend to the preening and pouting fellow tourists around them. One couple took a kissing selfie, perhaps blissfully unaware of their surroundings or just too self-absorbed to care. The thing is, it’s a privilege to stand at the memorial. It should be a place where you stop to reflect, whether you choose to go to the adjoining museum or not. If you are brave enough to face the Memorial Museum, this is what you can expect.

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Life Lessons from the Grazia Collective: Overcome Your Creative Barriers

August edition of Grazia UK magazine on marble table with candle

Last night, for the princely sum of £5 (plus free Prosecco, guys!), I joined a room full of other ambitious 20-somethings and 30-somethings to learn about the barriers blocking our creativity. The venue, Angela Hartnett’s Cafe Murano in Covent Garden, was the ideal backdrop to a Grazia Collective panel of talented women from across the literary board.

“Give yourself permission for the first draft to be rubbish.” Laura Jane Williams

This wasn’t an evening of airy motivation talks about releasing the novel inside us all (bleurgh), or patronising sermons on ‘how to live your best life’ (further bleurgh). It was aimed at any kind of creative woman who struggles to get their project off the ground, whether because of time constraints, work-life balance or the propensity to procrastinate.

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Poldark Filming Locations in Cornwall: Series 1 and 2

Charlestown Cornwall Poldark Location

It’s not long now until Series 2 of Poldark hits our TV screens, bringing Winston Graham’s popular saga back into the forefront of our minds and making everyone long for a Cornish holiday (preferably with Aidan Turner, a.k.a. Ross Poldark, to feed us a cream tea).

Whilst a few of the filming locations fell outside Cornwall, I’m going to ignore those anomalies and focus on the gorgeous Cornish settings used to bring these local novels to life once again.

Bodmin Moor

Both St. Breward and Minions village were used for their stark landscapes. This created the perfect mood for Ross Poldark’s family home, Nampara, and for the views between Nampara and Ross’ cousin’s estate. The crossroads in Minions ramped up the cinematic quality of these scenes, as did the rising sun at St. Breward as the backdrop to a duel.

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Dobrá Čajovna: A Damn Good Tea House in Prague

Good Traditional Tea House Cup and Pot in Prague Dobra Cajovna

Tea is a great unifier. It’s a comfort and a problem-solver; it’s enjoyed all over the world with perhaps a greater fervour than coffee. For travellers, taking tea is a way of absorbing local culture, but it can also be a much-needed break in an otherwise packed schedule. The fashion designer Waris Ahluwalia once said, ‘I like the pause that tea allows.’ He’s not the only one.

Today I’m looking back at a not-so-recent trip to the Czech Republic (my memory was jogged by a friend who’s travelling there this summer) and remembering that brilliant pause, at a traditional tea house in Prague.

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From Brolliday to Pity Break: Travel Buzzwords Waiting To Happen

Oblication, misadventure holiday and pity break: travel buzzwords to know

We’ve had ‘babymoon’, ‘baecation’, ‘minimoon’, ‘spacation’ and ‘staycation’. We’ve cringed at ‘glamping’, ‘greycation’ and countless other portmanteau travel terms invented to target certain audiences.

Here are some equally terrible potential buzzwords, not yet in common usage, that you might want to prepare for…


Holiday taken in the rainy season, because it’s cheaper. Pack your anorak and make sure that map is laminated, or live to regret it. Wonder why your glasses don’t have mini windscreen wipers. Drop your phone in a puddle and weep. Realise your shoes are nowhere near waterproof. Die a little inside.

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Reversible Travel Clothing to Kick-Start Your Holiday Wardrobe

Macro close-up of buttoned denim jeans with leopard print inner design

It’s a sad truth of practical holiday packing that, the more efficient your clothing, the less fashionable or sophisticated it’s likely to be. I say ‘likely’ because I’ve tracked down some brilliant examples of reversible travel clothing that won’t scream ‘TOURIST ALERT’ when you just want to stick to styles you love.

One thing you’ll notice is these items are often more expensive than your average top or sweater, but remember you’re essentially getting two for the price of one, plus saving space. Spend a little more and you’ll love the results.

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How to See Copenhagen on a Budget

Copenhagen free attraction Nyhavn for budget travellers to enjoy classic city view of Danish capital with boats and colourful buildings

Tell someone you’re off to the land of Borgen and The Killing and they’re bound to ask, “Is Copenhagen expensive?”. Technically the answer is ‘yes’, but only in the same way that Paris or London can be pricey for the uninitiated.  You really can do Copenhagen on a budget without skimping on culture, and I’ll show you how.

Free Things to Do in Copenhagen

Catch the Changing of the Guard ceremony every day at noon, at Amalienborg Palace. Yes, it’s a tourist cliché, but it’s fun too. Also, make time to wander around Nyhavn, which you’ll recognise from postcards and any films set here. For something a little offbeat, read my review of the free tour at the Danish Parliament, the Folketinget, or consider visiting the Danish Music Museum (Rosenørns Allé 22).

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New York Shopping: The Fountain Pen Hospital & Fishs Eddy

traditional American fountain pen ink sold in famous Tribeca New York stationery store, lined up on shelves

There’s more to the Big Apple’s retail scene than Macy’s, Bloomingdales and the designer haunts loved by Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City. In fact, New York shopping should be on your agenda even if you’re not a fashion fan, because there are some excellent specialist shops to discover on your travels. I’ve picked two of my new favourite niche stores not to be missed.

The Fountain Pen Hospital

With sixty years of pen repairs under its belt, this is a thriving business and a fascinating place to explore. It has survived relocation and the ups and downs of the economy, and is now run by the third generation of the Wiederlight family, brothers Terry and Steve. Inside its doors you can pick up a posh rollerball, browse the latest pen catalogue and check out limited edition fountain pens at well over the $1000 mark. As the ‘hospital’ name indicates, your pens can be repaired in store, and the staff really do know their stuff.

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Manus x Machina at the Metropolitan Museum, New York

Delphos dress at Metropolitan Museum exhibition 'Manus x Machina' with mushroom silk pleats

‘The hand and the machine’ is the vague-sounding inspiration for Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, at the Metropolitan Museum. It’s about the high levels of craftsmanship involved in making fashion since 1900, either by hand-sewing and embellishing or using sewing machines and 3D printers in the process. Kind of dry until you realise how important the fashion industry is around the world, how it reflects society, and how many economies it supports. It seems we could all learn from this show.

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Calavera (Span. feminine noun) = skull. A travel blog with a love of culture, dark tourism and the unconventional.

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