Lisa Schumaier hands me a bright red gum ball and watches as I chew. It softens and I pluck it from my mouth. It’s now an earthy pink. “Okay, ready? Stick it wherever you like,” Schumaier orders. She jabs her finger at a portrait of Hello Kitty, made up entirely of gum, a white-beige face against a background of sea green and yellow. I do as I’m told, sticking my wodge of muted pink putty in Hello Kitty’s giant bow. A gum-born depiction of Jesus and his twelve disciples watch on as I do. Born and raised in Alexandria, the quaint city in northern Virginia I’m currently exploring, artist Schumaier has a talent for taking old things – bottle tops, cocktail umbrellas, gum chewed by strangers – and making them into something new. A talent her hometown of Alexandria, soon to be the base of Amazon’s eagerly anticipated new headquarters, shares. Take the Torpedo Factory Art Center, where Schumaier is a working artist. As the … [Read more...] about Why you should visit Alexandria, the new home of Amazon
So, how much do you remember of the links between Europe and the New World? The 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim Fathers’ arrival in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620 is looming, but even before that settlement, the French had put down roots in what is now Quebec. Many communities in New England and the Canadian Maritimes also enjoy links to Scots, Irish and Welsh settlers. Several feature on cruise itineraries. Here are some ports that are worth exploring, whether you join a guided tour or do your own thing. Instead of dry, dusty dates and battles, history here is all about people. Bath, Maine, USA Standing on the Kennebec River, the self-proclaimed ‘City of Ships’ has a proud tradition of shipbuilding. From the 1740s, it has produced everything from vessels for coastal trading to modern destroyers for the US Navy that are built at Bath Iron Works. The full story is told at the lively Maine Maritime Museum ($17.50/£13.80), which also offers short cruises to see … [Read more...] about Eight historic sites to visit on a cruise to Canada and New England
Winter might mean shorter days and colder weather but that's no reason not to get out and explore some of Britain's very best spots. Some of the wildest moors and least-travelled glens are at their most beautiful in the chillier months – and even the country's golden sand beaches can tempt, especially when you realise they're not thronging with summer holidaymakers. Tie up your boots, zip up your coat, wrap around that scrap and pick your bridleway, tor or forest – we're taking you rambling through the best hotels in Britain for lovely winter walks. And don't worry: they'll be a cosy room, comfortable bed and maybe even a fireplace waiting for your return... Devon Two Bridges Hotel, Princetown... To continue reading this article Start your free trial of Premium Access all Premium articles Subscriber-only events Cancel any time Free for 30 days then only £2 per week Try Premium Access one Premium article per week Register for … [Read more...] about Where to stay for some of Britain’s best countryside and coastal walks
The hotels industry has taken a turn for the Freudian with the launch of a ‘womb room’ in East London. With their soft, pink walls and dim lighting, the new ‘rooms’ – which are more akin to pods, installed in the Zed Rooms at the Cuckooz aparthotel in Shoreditch – have been designed to induce the deep slumber of the unborn by harnessing the womb’s comforting qualities. For a sense of complete immersion, even the furniture has been crafted in the style of a human’s internal anatomy, with rounded edges and springy surfaces creating a comfortable and safe environment in which to curl up (presumably in the foetal position). The idea was conceived through a union between Cuckooz and Simba, a London-based ‘sleep technology company’ and mattress manufacturer, before spending a wholly appropriate nine months in development. • The world's 50 most unusual hotels “If you’ve ever noticed that you don’t sleep … [Read more...] about A womb with a view: Is this the most disturbing hotel room ever conceived?
Are you keen to encounter South East Asia’s vast variety of wildlife? The Greater Mekong area has 1,200 species of bird, 800 species of reptiles and amphibian and 430 species of mammal. Since 1997, 1,300 new species have been discovered. Here’s how to admire the region’s wildlife on a Mekong river cruise. Just don’t forget to keep your camera to hand in case you stumble across some weird and wonderful new species – stranger things have happened, after all. Best for: dolphins The Mekong River is home to the largest of the five remaining freshwater populations of our favourite Mekong species, the cartoon-like Irrawaddy dolphin. They're most likely to be spotted on the stretch of river which winds from the Khone Falls in Laos to the waterfront town of Kratié in Cambodia. The latter is a stop-off on Pandaw's Classic Mekong cruise. Although the dolphins are occasionally spotted from larger river boats, they're notoriously shy creatures – there … [Read more...] about Five of the best Mekong river cruises for wildlife fans