Thursday June 13, 2013
Did you know that some people think the word "spa" derives from the Latin phrase "salus per aquam" - health through water? Don't worry if you didn't because it is almost certainly not true. But it's one of the elements of local color about the ancient Romans that you can pick up at one of their most important spas in Bath England. The recently revamped exhibits and audio trail through the city's Roman baths are informative yet delightfully irreverent. For a brief time, Roman men and women swam in the nude together - until a prudish Emperor Hadrian put an end to that. The the things found in excavations of the ancient drains include everything from wedding rings to false teeth.
After you tour the ancient baths, you can join the Romans for hot soak - in spirit anyway - at the city's 21st century thermal spa.
Find out more about Bathing as the Romans Did in Modern Bath England
© Ferne Arfin
Thursday June 6, 2013
Practicing quad biking by driving circles around a farmer's field only scared the livestock. But actually tackling the trails was another story. Find out how our intrepid adventure traveler conquered her fears on the back of a fat-wheeled monster in the hills of Highland Perthshire.
Photo courtesy of Robin McKelvie
Monday June 3, 2013
The long awaited Mary Rose Museum finally opened to the public at the end of May. Originally planned to open in time for the 2012 Olympics, the opening just missed the May bank holiday as well. But what's a small delay when you consider that the pride of Henry VIII's fleet was buried under the shifting sea bottom of the Solent for more than 450 years.
A few years ago, at the temporary museum, we had a tantalizing glimpse of some of the more than one million artifacts retrieved in what was the largest undersea archaeology excavation ever undertaken. In the past, other shipwrecks have revealed cargoes, canons or treasure. With the Mary Rose, for the first time, visitors and scholars alike will have a real, poignant and sometimes intimate knowledge of the everyday life of a 1600 century crew on board a warship - what they wore, the jobs they did, the games they played, their keepsakes. Even some of their faces have been reconstructed using modern forensic methods. And in 2009, divers recovered the ship's dog - nicknamed Hatch.
But the lady herself, the Mary Rose, is still hiding behind her veils. Having been sprayed with a preserving solution 24/7 for about 30 years, she'll be drying out until at least 2017 when she will be fully unveiled. Meanwhile, visitors will only be able to peek at the miraculously preserved and surprisingly huge hull through small portholes in the drying box.
Find out more about visiting the Mary Rose
Photo from the deck of the Mary Rose Museum, overlooking the Portsmouth Navy Yard and the newest ships in the fleet. © Ferne Arfin
Thursday May 30, 2013
The long distance trek between Lands' End in Cornwall and John O'Groats in Caithness, Scotland is part of many a hikers' bucket list. And not just hikers. For more than a century, the journey - 874 miles by road, 1,200 miles (more or less) off road has been undertaken by cyclists, motorcyclists, off-road vehicle enthusiasts, paragliders and even - we've heard - a golfer who hit a ball as he walked the entire distance.
But, as recently as three years ago, a Glasgow-based architecture magazine branded John O'Groats the most dismal tourist attraction in Britain.
Things are changing though. An organization of private businesses that own attractions in or near iconic British locations is investing millions in redeveloping the area - with a co-op shop, adventure travel outfitters, luxury lodges and the refurbishment and extension of a once derelict, historic hotel (pictured here in its derelict state as a backdrop to a 2009 team record setting event ).
Read more about the Lands' End John O'Groats Challenge and the brighter welcome now awaiting adventurers, their families and supporters.
Michael Blann/Getty Images