5. December 2013 11:56
Need some gift inspiration for the foodie in your life? We've gathered some of our favourite cookery books and food gifts. Perfect gifts for food lovers this Christmas!
3. December 2013 15:32
by Steve Davey
Many people are familiar with the Pushkar Mela: the so-called Pushkar Camel Fair where camels are traded in the Rajasthan desert, but the same Kartik Poornima full moon in November sees a less well known but much larger festival that attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. The Sonepur Mela happens just outside of the town of Patna in Bihar at the village of Sonepur and is billed as being the largest livestock market in Asia. It is most famous for the Haathi Bazaar, where dozens of elephants are traded in a sprawling encampment under an shady canopy of ancient trees.
Every morning and afternoon, these great beasts are taken down to the river to be bathed, and then they have decorations applied to their skin with paint. This shows them off to their best advantage and helps the owner to command a higher price. Technically it is illegal to sell elephants in India and so the whole process is shrouded in mystery, and people work out an elaborate series of leases for the animals to circumvent the law.
Other animals are traded at the fair, including cattle, buffalo and horses. The buffalo market seems to be the most animated. Sellers argue loudly with the owners. Deals seem to be concluded by a group of buyers physically taking the buffalo. This is in complete contrast to the haathi bazaar where trading seems to progress at a slow pace, and then be concluded by touch with hands under a cloth, so that no one outside of the deal knows the agreement.More...
2. December 2013 11:12
Take a look at our top gift ideas for Children this Christmas featuring lots of fun, educational and inspiring gifts they’ll love!
22. November 2013 14:38
As an early Christmas present, our friends at Marco Polo are offering 10 lucky winners a copy of the Marco Polo Map of the World…
We have 10 of these high quality maps of the World to give away!More...
22. November 2013 10:22
by Gregor Swiderek
For a start I should probably explain that the name of Great Basin is rather misleading. By a basin most people understand a flat area surrounded by hills or mountains. In the case of the Great Basin it is a bit more complicated. For a start it is an absolutely huge region, not much smaller than the whole of Spain, but with a small population. The only real population centres are located on its edges. But more importantly it is not flat at all. In fact the Basin includes valleys, basins, lakes and mountain ranges of Basin and Range topography. For example driving the US Hwy 50 in Nevada includes crossing at least half a dozen substantial mountain ranges and the road often climbs up to 7000-8000 feet. (2100-2500m) above the sea level. They run parallel to each other and are roughly oriented from north to south.
That means that driving here is never boring. Yes, there are long straight stretches of open highways (perfect for testing the top speed of our rental Camaro) but there are also twisted mountain roads as well as great vistas from the higher elevations. All this with minimal traffic. In fact some of the lesser roads were virtually empty. For example when we chose Nevada Hwy 722, which for 65 miles bypasses the main highway to the south, we only encountered 3 or 4 vehicles.
If the landscape wasn't wild enough then there was the weather. We were crossing the Basin at the same time as a cold front from the North Pacific stretched this way. That meant spectacular cloud formations, dark mysterious skies and snow. Yes we did experienced snowfall along with some freezing temperatures, especially crossing the mountain passes.
It took us the good part of the day to cross most of the Basin from Fallon in the west to the town of Ely, close to the Utah border in the east, where we decided to spend the night. On one hand we were mostly speeding but on the other hand we made plenty of photo stops. Probably too many judging from the number of pictures of the empty highways I now have on my laptop but it was damn difficult to stop taking pictures as the landscape kept changing every few minutes and the spectacular sky even more often.More...
14. November 2013 16:27
A globe is the perfect Christmas gift for those with a sense of adventure! At Stanfords we have a large range of different globes available with one to suit every taste. Below are some of our favourites but you can browse our full range here:
6. November 2013 14:18
We have your Christmas essentials covered here at Stanfords!
Take a look at our fantastic collection of Wrapping paper, Christmas Cards and Tree Decorations:
31. October 2013 09:42
Gregor Swiderek heads back to the USA taking a roadtrip through the Great Basin in Nevada stopping off at Carson City along the way..
Nevada is a fascinating state but apart from Las Vegas not really on many people's itineraries. I was always attracted to the less popular states but what especially drew me into Nevada was the Great Basin.
Now, Great Basin is one of the places which I’ve really wanted to visit for quite a while (some of my less diplomatic friends could even say that I was obsessed with it). In recent years I was however preoccupied with my little project of finishing off visiting all the lower 48 states. After finally ticking off that box last year, this year I felt free to return to the Western USA and obviously decided to make the Great Basin one of the main points of my road trip. But before descending into the properly wild depths of the basin I found myself in the heart of historic Nevada. Something I didn't really plan but that is the best thing about travel isn't it?
After spending some time in the Bay Area and later on the shores of Lake Tahoe (more about that later), we entered the Great Basin following the US Hwy 50 descending from the Sierra Nevada mountains towards the capital of the Silver State, Carson City.
It is a curious little place. With a population of only around fifty thousands it still has quite a lot of its frontier feel left. As usual I couldn't skip the state capitol while visiting a state capital. Nevada State Capitol is on the smaller side among all the state capitols but no less fascinating. It is also one of the ever smaller group of state legislatures which you can visit without passing through the airport-style security. You can just walk in and explore on your own, pretty much most of the building, not asked by anyone what are you doing. Built in 1870 it is apparently the second oldest capitol building west of the Mississippi. More...
23. October 2013 11:59
by Kasia Nowicka
I had visited Slovenia once before, only briefly, driving through it towards another destination. Then, as most of us probably do, I didn't think much of it. A small post-Yugoslavian country with a relatively expensive vignette for the motorways. Luckily, we were driving during the day (it took us less than two hours to cross the country) and I decided that this would be my next summer destination. I was amazed by the lush green carpet covering this mountainous part of the world, here and there embellished with a small red-roofed church. I felt snugly wrapped by that generosity of nature.
And here I was a year later, arriving at the small but well-organised airport of Ljubljana. We couldn't miss the capital so ventured there right away even though I was more excited by the mountains and lakes. What I expected to see was yet another south-eastern European city; just more of the same – a mixture of Prague and Dubrovnik. What I saw was an elegant high-class city. Its spacious old town streets were trodden by mothers with latest-fashion buggies, visitors mingled with locals walking at the same pace; no tat, no rubbish, only order and welcoming cafes by the river banks. More...
18. October 2013 17:18
by Gregor Swiderek
Another day off, another motorway walk. But this time I had persuaded my girlfriend to come with me so I had to add something extra, preferably historical, to my, normally, ultra-geeky motorway explorations. After spending some time pouring over an OS Explorer map (number 147 to be precise), I finally had a clear plan of action.
We started our trip in Dunton Green station conveniently located less than a mile from the interesting junction 5 on M25 (the one where the M25 is joined by the M26 and A21). From the station we followed London Road and Sundridge Road, and after just a few minutes we were standing on an impressive overpass carrying the local Chevening Road right over the junction. It was a perfect spot for some good road photography (which I can then share on websites even more geeky than me).
After taking a few dozen (or actually rather more) photos we were ready to move on to the second point of our adventure, the town of Westerham. Why there? During my studies of the OS map I spotted a National Trust property, called Quebec House, located in that town. After a few more minutes of online searches I knew that I really wanted to visit it as I am interested in historical connections between Britain and North America.More...