I handed over the money with a polite thank you and received a friendly but firm tá failte romhat in response. I had been cycling in County Waterford and following signs for the coastal village of Ring. In the space of a few metres I was been transported into a […]

Going to the Gaeltacht

The economic sanctions placed on North Korea have forced the People’s Republic to develop novel ways to sidestep western technology. Step forward Vinalon, a fabric made from the unlikely source materials of anthracite and limestone? Do rocks make for natural, luxuriant fibres? Not particularly, but the raw materials are plentiful […]

Juche couture – North Korea and the fabric of the future

Does the way you speak give away your background in an instant? Do you pop to the loo or go to the toilet? Do you live in a house or a home? Do you enjoy a sweet or pudding and do you eat it after dinner or tea? In this […]

Are you U or are you non-U?

Fordlandia! Where civilisation conquers the wild and untamed heart of the great Amazon rainforest. A city forged in adversity, the triumph of will and the product of the daring imagination of Henry Ford. This is America’s new frontier; a wilderness transformed by technology, labour and innovation into the prosperous hub […]


Few things were more powerful than a Victorian-era duke. They shaped empires, armies, estates and cities and had a particular interest in the development of the railway network. For some, this was manifested in vehement opposition. For others, it was a promise of further riches and easier access to pleasures […]

The Duke of Sutherland’s Railway

The City of St Davids lies in the south-west corner of St Davids Peninsula surrounded by some of the most stunning Pembrokeshire coastlines and countryside. It is easily the UK’s smallest city by population: home to 1,797  in the 2001 census. The next smallest, St Asaph, is also a Welsh […]

Once in Saint David’s City

Who owns the UK? This is a perennial favourite for newspaper articles and has spawned a series of books. There is no simple answer as wealth can be measured in different ways: cash, shares, GDP and, most tantalisingly of all, land. Land has always been an emotive issue and, even […]

Who owns the UK?

Various commemorative designs on the reverse of the British £2 coin - from left to right - Olympic Games handover, IV Olympiad, Robert Burns, Charles Darwin, Gunpowder Plot, King James Bible, Mary Rose, Charles Dickens, London Underground (two designs) and the Guinea
The British £2 is one of the most striking coins in circulation. As well as being the only mainstream bimetallic coin in the UK, it is wider and heavier than any other. With its golden edge and silver centre, it has become the coin of choice to commemorate events, people […]

A two pound piece

Remains of Augustine Abbey, Canterbury By User Willhsmit on en.wikipedia (own-work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 2
Amongst Britain’s diverse population are adherents of all of the world’s major faiths. Religious devotion often requires a place of worship: churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and gurdwaras. A reference to the first purpose built mosque in the UK made me wonder when each of these religious buildings were first erected […]

First places of devotion