Biography in brief
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a writer. Fortunately, not much of my early stuff survives.
I grew up in suburban south London. A family holiday to Jerusalem in 1980, when I was 11, was my first trip outside the UK. The memory of walking through the spice market for the first time remains strong. Even today, the smell of cumin takes me straight back there. That was also my first time in the desert – I remember standing on a lonely road, feeling the hottest sun I’d ever felt, seeing the longest views I’d ever seen.
Since then, I’ve lived and worked in Amman, Cairo, Jerusalem and elsewhere, learnt some Arabic and Hebrew, and travelled widely, over twenty years or more, through most of the Middle East.
I live with my wife, son, daughter and dog on a quiet street near a coffee factory in north Oxfordshire.
Journalism and photos
My journalism has been published by BBC News, as well as by media outlets around the world – the titles listed below are a small selection.
- News media – BBC – CNN – The Times (London) – The Independent – The Guardian – Daily Telegraph – The Observer – Sunday Telegraph – The National (Abu Dhabi) – Jewish Chronicle
- Magazines – National Geographic Traveller – Wanderlust – High Life – CNN Traveller – Sunday Times Travel – BBC Wildlife – Geographical – Abta – Gulf Life – Jazeera – JO (Amman) – Saudi Aramco World
The British Guild of Travel Writers named The Quiet Revolution, my article about Abu Dhabi’s tourist industry, published in CNN Traveller, ‘Best Business Travel/Trade Feature 2008’.
A Vine Romance, my article about Jordanian wine, also published in CNN Traveller, was named ‘Best Business Travel/Trade Feature 2009’ by the British Guild of Travel Writers.
- Rough Guide to Jordan (1998; 2002; 2006; 2009; 2013)
- Rough Guide to Switzerland (2001; 2003; 2006; 2010; 2014)
- Rough Guide to the Italian Lakes* (2006; 2009; 2012)
- Rough Guide to the Cotswolds (2011; 2014)
(*Awarded the International Prize for TV and Communication in Europe “Tau d’Oro”, Miasino, Italy, 2006 – and Best Guidebook runner-up at the Italian Travel Writing Awards, London, 2010)
My Rough Guides profile page is here.
- Rough Guide to England (2011)
- Mini Rough Guide to Wales (2007)
- DK Eyewitness Guide to Jerusalem & the Holy Land (2007)
- DK Eyewitness Guide to Switzerland (2005)
- Insight Guide to the Netherlands (2007)
- Insight Guide to Jordan (2005)
Updater of many other Rough Guides (1996 to date), including Amsterdam, Holland, Britain, Italy and Europe.
I have edited the Rough Guides to Bali and Lombok, Canada, Costa Brava, Crete, Europe, Ireland, Mallorca, Malta, the Netherlands, Scotland, Scottish Highlands and Islands, Thailand, Thai Beaches and Islands and Tuscany and Umbria – as well as Cadogan Travel Guides to the Loire, Egypt, Dublin and Rome.
I am an editor and copywriter for Switzerland Tourism and the Jordan Tourism Board, and was part of the research team for Blair, a political biography by Dr Anthony Seldon (Simon & Schuster, 2004).
- TV: live studio interviewee commenting on issues of travel safety in the Middle East, including for Sky News and the BBC TV documentary series Conflicts (BBC3). Live guest for Studiotalk.tv discussing holidays in Jordan.
- Radio: From Our Own Correspondent (BBC Radio 4 & World Service) from Kuwait, Riyadh, Amman, Jerusalem, Taif and Cairo, invited studio guest on Excess Baggage (BBC Radio 4) with Sandi Toksvig, field reporter in Jordan for Traveller’s Tree (BBC Radio 4), regular interviewee discussing travel and travel writing on radio stations in the UK and worldwide.
I have been profiled in the Jordan Times (6 April 2006), the Oman Daily Observer (26 April 2008) and Royal Wings magazine (July–Aug 2006), and have been interviewed and quoted by media around the world, including CNN, Die Weltwoche (Zurich), Jo (Amman), Islamic Tourism and others.
I have lectured frequently on travel to the Middle East, Europe and India at travel shows, public events and business meetings, in the UK and abroad, using my own photos and answering questions from the floor.
I spoke at the Royal Geographical Society in London at a public event celebrating the 200th anniversary of the rediscovery of Petra in Jordan. I have also spoken at the RGS as part of an expert panel discussing travel and society in the Islamic world, and on my travel writing as part of the RGS Travellers’ Tales Festival.
I have been an invited speaker at the US Educational Travel Conference, discussing social media in journalism and prospects for tourism in Egypt and Tunisia post-revolution.
I was asked to lecture for Art Tours of the Holy Land, run by Cox & Kings under the auspices of the Royal Academy of Arts, and to devise and guide author-led tours of the Middle East for Martin Randall Travel and On The Go Tours.