Homes and Haunts of Famous People: The Bucket List

Abbotsford ( Ann Burnett )

Re-visiting Sir Walter Scott at Abbotsford in the Scottish Borders

I had to read Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe at school and vowed never to open one of his books again. So what am I doing visiting Abbotsford, his house in the Scottish Borders? It’s re-opened to the public after a refurbishment (the Queen did the honors Read More

The first recorded slave ship docked in Portsmouth Harbor in 1645 (© Stillman Rogers)

Walking the Black Heritage Trail in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

We northerners tend to think of slavery as an institution peculiar to southern history, not to our own. But in fact, it was not at all uncommon for New Englanders to hold slaves. After all, New England ports -- including Portsmouth -- were the Read More

Taliesin, home of Frank Lloyd Wright. ©Melanie Radzicki McManus

Touring Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin in Wisconsin

When you live in Frank Lloyd Wright’s former backyard, you hear lots of stories. The famous architect was a skinflint who never paid his taxes. He was a scoundrel who bullied people and thought he was all that. He had expensive tastes and carelessly Read More

Roosevelt Cottage, Roosevelt Campobello International Park (Photo copyright Stillman Rogers)

Having Tea with Eleanor Roosevelt on Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada

"A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it's in hot water." We all laughed, but Eleanor Roosevelt’s favorite saying gives us a clue to what kind of person she was – never afraid of controversy or of standing up for her Read More

Monticello

Walking in Thomas Jefferson’s Footsteps at Monticello

The piercing ring of metal striking metal mingles with the sizzling fumes of a roaring forge. On Mulberry Row, a worker pounds smelted ore into nails – a mainstay of life at Monticello, circa 1790. Nearby, two men shape softened wood into strips for Read More

Graceland was built four years after Elvis was born. He bought it when he was 22. (photo credit: Katherine Rodeghier c 2013)

Touring Graceland, Home of Elvis Presley in Memphis, Tennessee

My first impression, taking the circular driveway to the home of Elvis Presley, is how small it is. For someone larger than life, I expected something grander for the King of Rock ’n’ Roll. But if you go by square footage (17,552), the home is Read More

Photo by Bruce N. Meyer

Exploring Jesse James Country in Northwest Missouri

The summer sun beat down on the brown and parched grass as we made our way across the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Kearney Missouri, a small community of 5,400 about 40 minutes northeast of Kansas City. We were in the oldest part of the cemetery where Read More

Castle of Ali Pasha, Ioannina

Finding Byzantium in the byways of Ioannina, Greece

As my sisters and I disembark the ferryboat onto into a calliope of sound, smell, and color, we walk up to what seems to be a pet shop. Chickens and doves squabble in hanging cages. Turtles elbow frogs for a better view. Eels shimmer amidst schools Read More

Shakespeare memorial

Discovering the City of Dickens and Shakespeare with a London Walks Tour

Our guide is loud and theatrical, and has no problem making himself heard by the crowd of people clustered hopefully around him. "It had to happen sometime," he booms. "A North American telling you about those two icons of English literature, Dickens Read More

Blenheim Palace, England

Following in the Steps of Winston Churchill at Blenheim Palace, England

The first thing I notice when we turn into the grand drive of Blenheim Palace is a woman (or should I say a lady?) in a flowery dress and a big hat. A moment’s panic, while I wonder if I am suitably dressed for such august surroundings, but I relax Read More

Massive buff-coloured factory with allotment gardens in front

Peering into the Life of a 19th-Century Mill Worker in Saltaire, Yorkshire

Whenever I discover something about one of my English ancestors, I wonder, "What was it like for them?" and begin to imagine the streets and houses of their time and place. To find out more about life as a Victorian-era worker in a woolen mill, my Read More

Star Spangled Banner

Stalking The Star-Spangled Banner in Baltimore

Francis Scott Key wasn't kidding when he used the words "broad stripes” to describe the flag he spotted one morning in Baltimore Harbor. Standing before that same flag in the Smithsonian Museum of American History, I stared at stripes that are two Read More

Main Street, Haworth, West Yorkshire

Exploring the Landscape that Inspired the Brontës: Haworth, West Yorkshire

The town is full of men with neat moustaches and women in high heels picking their way between the cobbles of the main street. The sound of We’ll Meet Again comes from an old gramophone and the whole place is festooned with Union Jacks. We had Read More

The old buildings of the Canongate, from the churchyard

Exploring the Canongate in Edinburgh’s Royal Mile

Right in the centre of Edinburgh, on its famous Royal Mile, I’m at the World’s End. Sounds like a riddle? It isn’t. I’m actually outside the World’s End pub, named because it was here that the security of the medieval city ended and the great Read More

Balmorl Castle, starting point for the tour

Land Rover Tours of the Queen’s Balmoral Estate, Scotland

I’ve never really had a lot of time for royalty. Perhaps it’s because the image of privilege (all at the taxpayers’ expense, of course) doesn’t go down so well with a commoner like me. But today something very strange has happened. I’ve had a Read More