British Identity, Brexit and the End of the Empire

British Identity, Brexit and the End of the Empire

As the pre-election debates heats up in Britain, one thing is certain — that the country’s collective identity as either British or as citizens of wider Europe is still seriously polarized, and even the outcome of the election is unlikely to unite a divided nation or provide an answer to this complicated identity crisis.

Contrary to the simplistic view that this is as a result of immigration, some historians believe that it is borne out of a subconscious desire to return to the days of greatness that the British empire had prior to the beginning of their demise.

In the context of other large scale empires, Britain’s demise has been short-lived thus far. The Roman Empire spent 300 years falling from its pinnacle moment of greatness, clinging on to its powers by any means necessary and never submitting to other powers which may dilute their influence. Hindsight provides us the luxury of analysing the Roman Empire over the course of several hundred years and makes it easy for historians and political analysts to draw parallels between certain behaviors, such as rejecting large supranational powers and trying to retain sovereignty and power — much of the basis of the bubbling eurosceptic movement which resulted in the national referendum in 2016.

A desire to enter into new trade deals with commonwealth nations could signify a nostalgia for the past. Nations such as India and Singapore also happen to be widely emerging economies with successful, innovative and deeply competitive tertiary sectors. Some of the systems left behind by colonialism lend themselves to future partnerships, based on free-market principles and de jure democratic processes. Whether this is a tangible reality or a misplaced confidence is a matter for history to decide, but the kinship and shared sensibility between ex-colonial nations with such historical relationships is not to be ignored.

Whatever the outcome, history tells us it is difficult to reclaim the glory days of the past. Will Britain thrive as an independent nation in a global world, or is her position within a greater European superstate still the best option for economic prosperity and social harmony?

More information:

Read: Important Historical Sites of the British Empire

Read: Brexit and the British Empire

Watch: Empire Builders – British Empire

Buy: Globe Trekker – Rise & Fall of the British Raj DVD

Study Guide: The Lost World of Joseph Banks

Watch: The Grassroots Tour – Colonial Relics of the Raj

Watch: Historic Walks – Albertopolis, London: Age of Empire

Main Image: The Natural History Museum, Albertopolis, London. Pilot Productions ©

By Sofi Summers

 

 

 

All-Female Sailing Team ‘eXXpedeition’ on a Mission to Clean Up Our Oceans

All-Female Sailing Team 'eXXpedeition' on a Mission to Clean Up Our Oceans

10 eager members of the public have set off on the first leg of an around the world journey to research and assess the extent of the plastic pollution in our oceans, and to explore creative solutions to clean it up. The team hope to build knowledge to inform scientists, legislators and the public alike on how the problem can be tackled for generations to come.

The all-female and multidisciplinary crew departed from Plymouth, UK – the same port that 18th century explorer Captain Cook set sail from on his round the world journey – and will sail for a planned 11 days to the Azores before their first stop. The Azores are a group of 9 islands, which are volcanic in origin and a famed north-east Atlantic deep-sea coral hotspot.

eXXpedition ©

eXXpedition ©

Each of the 13 legs around the world will see a new set of women set sail for the cause, and in total over 300 women will participate in the project which is expected to take 2 years to complete.

Mission Director Emily Penn’s motivations don’t stop there – eXXpedition also hopes to raise awareness of a lack of female participation in STEM professions, to research female-specific diseases caused by plastic and chemical pollution in greater depth, and to encourage female participation and positive coverage in all-female sailing and the wider sporting community.

The UK registered Community Interest Company have been sailing for these causes since 2014, though this is their first journey of such scale. The team are supported by multiple sponsors from environment companies to firms in the technology and legal sector. Many of the ladies on board are also sponsored personally by smaller community groups and businesses local to their homes.

eXXpedition ©

eXXpedition ©

Each stop along the voyage will not only involve research, but also talks, panel discussions, community clean-ups and send-off parties in hope of bringing together passionate individuals who are all working towards solving the plastic pollution crisis.

You can follow the progress of the boat, S.V. TravelEdge, and all of the fantastic ladies on their regular blog which they are completing at sea, no matter how perilous the conditions!

All images courtesy of eXXpedition 

By Sofi Pickering

 

 

 

Submerging Turkey’s History: The Ilisu Dam

Submerging Turkey's History: The Ilisu Dam

The ancient town of Hasankeyf, Turkey faces submersion in just a few short months following the construction of a new hydroelectric dam on the Tigris river which will harness the flow of the the river to generate electricity at the expense of the areas surrounding the dam upstream.

Hasankeyf is currently inhabited by some 3000 residents, whom have a deadline of October 8th to vacate the town to their new dwellings on higher ground the opposite side of the river in the new development of ‘New Hasankeyf’. This is not an unfamiliar story of displacement; much of the world have trialed and succeeded in generating energy from renewable sources at the expense of people’s settlements. But what makes this case truly remarkable is that Hasankeyf has been continuously inhabited for the past 12,000 years and has been home to some of the worlds earliest civilisations.

Study Guide: The Turkish Diaspora

A monument to these civilisations, ancient relics are found scattered across the town; Neolithic caves, Byzantine ruins and Ayyubid mosques among many others. Some of the monuments from the ancient city have been moved to the new town, but the human history that goes along with them will be left to drown. The citizens fear for the loss of their ancestry as it provides a large part of their economy through both tourism and animal husbandry.

The plans for the development of the dam have been in the making for decades, and constriction began in 2006. The Turkish government’s plans to develop the poverty-stricken Kurdish south-eastern region have been undeterred by the national and international protests, and withdrawal of support from key European banks providing funding. The government expects that the dam will contribute a much-needed $412 million to the economy on an annual basis. However, the dam is also something of a diplomatic issue too – the Tigris flows through neighbouring Iran who have expressed concerns that the new, restricted flow of the river downstream could cause water shortages in their country.

The town does not have the special protection of global schemes designed to protect such relics. UNESCO status, for example, can only be achieved if nominated by the national government. Where this national government has already condemned this citadel to extinction, it seems unlikely that protections will be awarded.

Visit Hasankayf with us in our episode Globe Trekker – Turkey 2, available to buy on DVD at the Pilot Guides Store now!

 

DNA Evidence Suggests That Nessie Might Be A Very Real Eel!

DNA Evidence Suggests That Nessie Might Be A Very Real Eel!

New scientific research has discovered DNA in the water of Loch Ness that suggests that it may be home to Giant Eels. This kind of discovery isn’t unusual in itself, however in the Scottish Highlands the news has been received with much excitement. You see, since the 6th Century, the whole world has been trying – and failing – to find solid evidence that a ‘monster’ exists in this lake. A monster called Nessie.

Loch Ness Monster, rjp, Flickr Creative Commons

Loch Ness Monster, rjp, Flickr Creative Commons

The Loch Ness Monster, or ‘Nessie’,  is in folklore a large lake-monster which has been allegedly sighted over many years. It is described as being a large creature with a long neck that protrudes from the water in several places. She has also, interestingly, been described as being “serpent-like”.

Generally speaking, the scientific community has always regarded the Loch Ness Monster as a phenomenon without a biological basis and has explained sightings as hoaxes and incorrect identification of other objects.

However, scientist from the University of Otago have this week discovered the DNA of Eels which could explain the both the origin and the subsequent sightings of the Lock Ness Monster. Professor Neil Gemmell, who led the team, has said (of the discovery) that it is not impossible that the lake contains mutant giant Eels which occasionally surface and are sighted as ‘Nessie’.

Fresh Water Eels, Biodiversity Heritage Library, Flickr Creative Commons

Fresh Water Eels, Biodiversity Heritage Library, Flickr Creative Commons

Professor Gemmell explained that: “There is a very significant amount of eel DNA. Eels are very plentiful in Loch Ness. Our data doesn’t reveal their size, but the sheer quantity of the material says that we can’t discount the possibility that there may be giant eels in Loch Ness.”

Loch Ness is the largest lake by volume in the British Isles, and is 230 metres deep at its deepest point. The Loch Ness legend is big business for the Scottish Highlands, with some estimates suggesting that Nessie is worth $54 million to the Scottish economy each year. Looking out for the infamous lake monster also made it into the top 20 bucket list items of Brits.

Other similar Lake Monster phenomena such as Nessie include the ‘Ogopogo’ in Okanagan Lake, Canada; and ‘Champ’ of Lake Champlain which straddles the border of Vermont and New York State.

More information:

Read: In Search of Nessie: Scotland’s Elusive Loch Ness Monster

Watch: Globe Trekker – Scotland

Download: Adventure Golf – Scotland

Main Image: Loch Ness from Fort Augustus Scotland, Dave Conner, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Pickering

Rome Bans Tourists From Sitting On Spanish Steps

Rome Bans Tourists From Sitting On Spanish Steps

It came to public attention last week that the City of Rome is clamping down on tourists yet again, this time by banning visitors from sitting on the ever famous and ‘insta-worthy’ Spanish Steps.

Tourists who decide to stop here and who do not move along when requested – by the new specially employed police task-force – will be faced with a fine of up to €400.

The law came into effect at the beginning of July, however only last week did the police appear with their whistles to start moving people along.

The somewhat controversial move is part of a greater effort to improve Rome’s appearance and protect its heritage. The city is concerned by the amounts of litter left by tourists who stop to enjoy refreshments on the steps, and wished to discourage this kind of anti-social behaviour.

The Spanish Steps themselves are a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, and recently underwent a costly restoration project in 2016.

Rome has become one of the world’s busiest tourist destinations and its historical monuments are increasingly at risk from the perils of over-tourism. The city’s officials have become known for introducing rules and regulations such as banning bathing in any of the city’s fountains, and penalising “messy eating” near the monuments.

The move comes amid a greater concerns for many of Italy’s major tourist destinations. Officials have expressed concerns for the welfare of the environment, the important historical landmarks and the future of Italy’s tourism sector.

More information

Article: Important Historical Sites Of The Roman Empire

Article: Italy: Locations In Rome

Article: Ancient Rome

Article:  Italian Island Of Capri Bans Single Use Plastics

Article: The Past, Present & Future of Alberobello’s Iconic Trulli

 

Main Image: Spanish Steps, Ronald Tagra, Flickr Creative Commons

Tectonic: Italian Volcanic Island Of Stromboli is Erupting

Tectonic: Italian Volcanic Island Of Stromboli is Erupting

A volcano has erupted on the Italian island of Stromboli, killing one hiker and injuring a second. Lava streams and rocks have been slowly making their way down the volcano’s slopes following the eruption yesterday afternoon.

WATCH ON DVD: Volcanoes & Extreme Landscapes

Stromboli has a population of around 500, and its volcano is very active with frequent minor eruptions, making for an adrenaline junky’s paradise. As many as 7000 tourists flock to the island every summer to take in its incredible natural beauty, challenging landscape and Italian Island charm.

READ: Fireworks Night: Trekking Mount Stromboli

Yesterday’s eruption is described as a ‘major eruption’ with two major explosive events occurring. Tourist’s and locals alike have described scenes of people fleeing hotels and restaurants and jumping into the sea in a state of panic.

READ: Study Guide: Volcanoes

The Aeolian Islands, where Stromboli is situated, are a volcanic archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea, and are listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for providing “an outstanding record of volcanic island building and destruction, and ongoing volcanic phenomena”. Stromboli has been in a state of almost continuous eruption for the past 2000 years, its eruptions characterised as short and mild blasts of lava and rock and a slow and viscous flow of lava.

WATCH ON DVD: Globe Trekker – Cosica, Sicily & Sardinia where traveller Ian Wright visits the spitting summit of stromboli

 

Main Image: Flrnt, Stromboli, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Pickering

Decommissioned Turkish Plane Becomes A Diving Attraction

Decommissioned Turkish Plane Becomes A Diving Attraction

A decommissioned Airbus A330 has been sunk in the Gulf of Saros, Erdine, Turkey in order to attract diving tourism.

The operation, which involved slowly submerging the 90 Ton aircraft with deflatable flotation devices, took 4 hours to complete, and saw the plane reach the Aegean seabed at a depth of 30m.

The Gulf of Saros is located in northern Turkey close to the border with Bulgaria and provides a great location for a new diving attraction due to its close proximity to Istanbul. The plane was sunk by a local tourism board and under the sponsorship of Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project in a bid to promote tourism to the area.

The plane at 65m long is the worlds largest object yet to be sunk on purpose. Local officials believe that the site will not only bring tourism, but that it will also be of great benefit to local aquatic life.

This monumental effort is part of a greater artificial reef project which hopes to boost Turkey’s aquatic population, and has already seen very positive results.

Don’t miss our episode on Istanbul, where we travel to Erdine, and discover some of the other great tourism that Turkey has to offer!

Main Image: Caleb Maclennan, The Aegean, Flickr Creative Commons

 

The Queen’s Former Malta Home Is Up For Sale

The Queen's Former Malta Home Is Up For Sale

Despite the fact that she has travelled the world extensively during her reign, one fact little known about Queen Elizabeth II is that before she became Queen, she actually lived overseas. Her and her husband, Prince Phillip, lived on the Mediterranean island of Malta while he dutifully served in the Royal Navy from 1949-1951 .

The grand neoclassical Villa Guardamangia is the only place outside of the UK that a British Monarch has ever called ‘home’. Excitingly, it is currently privately owned and up for sale!

Currently listed for just under €6 Million by Maltese luxury estate agents Homes Of Quality, the listing describes the property as “an amazing grand Palazzo style property (…) with documented great historical value (…) complimented with sea views over Marsamxett Harbour (…) crying out for a great conversion and will make a superb residence or possibly a commercial venue.”

Located in Pieta, just outside the capital city of Malta, Valetta, the Maltese government have previously displayed interest in buying the property to renovate it as a tourist attraction. It is currently in a state of disrepair. It is reported that the Queen asked to visit the house, of which she holds fond memories, when on a state visit in 2012 but that the current owners refused.

Malta has a long and colourful history, gaining independence from British Rule in only 1964, and declaring itself a Republic in 1974. Prior to then, due to its desirable central Mediterranean location it had also been ruled by the French, Knights of St. John, Greeks, Arabs, Romans and more! The marks left by these ancient rulers make for a wonderful culture filled visit!

To learn more about the history of Malta, why not order our 6 part series Ottomans vs Christians Battle For The Mediterranean, or watch part 3 of the series on Vimeo!

By Sofi Pickering

Italian Island Of Capri Bans Single Use Plastics

Italian Island Of Capri Bans Single Use Plastics

Capri has become the latest Italian resort to introduce a ban on single use plastics, and are imposing hefty fines of up to 500 Euros on anyone seen using any disposable and non-compostable plastics. The move not only targets the mass-tourism that the Island sees over the summer months, but also beach vendors selling goods accompanied with plastic cups, plates and cutlery, and plastic carrier bags which are not compostable.

Read: Etihad Airways Goes Plastic Free For Earth Day

Capri is an island set in the picturesque and naturally stunning bay of Naples, and with an ever increasing pressure on coastal municipalities to target ocean pollution, the government has vowed to step-up and help the global effort.

As an example of a beautiful place which could easily be spoiled from the effects of plastic pollution, Capri’s mayor, Giovanni De Martino, has made it clear that Capri can not avoid participating in the initiative, and that it is not only a bid to keep the tourist areas tidy, but more the non-touristic areas which feel the effects of the pollution most. He wishes to set an example of how the whole world can do their part to stop and reverse the damage.

Local campaign group Legambiente have been pursuing an aggressive campaign of keeping the seas clean – “The Sea Doesn’t Ask, But He Needs You” – and they have praised the efforts of the island in the creation of this new legislation which came into effect from May 1st.

The plastic-free movement has been gaining traction in Capri since around 2012, with large organisations such as Project Aware, a worldwide scuba cleanup operation, and Oceanus, a local non-profit research group collaborating in helping people to move away from single use plastic carrier bags.

Capri is not the only place in Italy to bring such legislation into effect, so if you are planning a trip then please check before you travel so as to avoid any embarrassment or hefty fines. If ending plastic pollution is something that you feel passionate about, then please check up on local clean-ups in the area you are travelling to before you go. Organisations such as 4Ocean, Project Aware, Ocean Conservancy, National Trust and many more offer opportunities to get together with others and tidy up the oceans one piece at a time.

Why not download our episode of Globetrekker – Southern Italy?  

Main Image: Visit to Capri, martin-vmorris, Flickr Creatice Commons

By Sofi Pickering

 

Marie Antoinette’s Newly Restored Apartments Open to The Public for the First Time in 3 Years

Marie Antoinette's Newly Restored Apartments Open to The Public for the First Time in 3 Years

After 3 years of renovation at the Chateau de Versailles, Marie Antoinette’s private chambers have been re-opened to the public for viewing.

The renovation, which began in 2016, was carried out in order to ensure the safety and longevity of all of the public collections that the Chateau houses. This included upgrading fire safety, and modernising the climate control which is designed to preserve the collections as well as possible – a technique employed by many museums around the world.

The large scale operation required full closure of the building, and so the Chateau used the opportunity to carry out a heritage restoration of the Queen’s apartments.

The Chateau was the Queen’s official residence alongside French King Louis XVI in the years prior the the French Revolution.

“Thus, the room of the Queen’s Guards has regained the magnificence of its decor, thanks to the patronage of the American Friends of Versailles and the Society of the Friends of Versailles,” the Chateau de Versailles said in a press release. “In the Queen’s room, the restorers were also able to reveal the original appearance of the spectacular rococo decoration, which thus finds all its legibility and virtuosity.”

Some of her furniture remains in their original positions, such as Marie Antoinette’s jewellery cabinet. The Queen was well known for her love of flamboyant jewellery in her younger years, and her collections have since fetched record amounts at auction.

Other pieces were replaced with similar items or remade to look like the original. The tapestries hanging on the bed and walls were re-woven in Lyon using the original patterns. Many of the original pieces had been auctioned off between October 1793 and January 1795 by the new revolutionary government after the abolition of the Monarchy.

The Queen was not known for her popularity amongst her peers or the people, and as a result spent much time away from the Chateau itself, and at her private retreat in the Hameau de la Reine. The French tabloids had long-before chosen Antoinette as their scapegoat in depicting the wrongs in French society, despite her later preference for a more humble existence away from the mischievousness of the Elite Society at the Chateau.

Her attitude was ambiguous at the outbreak of the Revolution, and she seemed uncertain whether to seek reconciliation from the people, or to run away.  Antoinette demonstrated great courage before the Revolutionary Tribunal, and before her execution on 16 October 1793.

To find out more about Court life at the Chateau de Versailles prior to the revolution, please download and enjoy Empire Builders: Kings of Europe: France, The Austro-Hungarians and the Russian Tsars – or order the DVD here!

Main image: Versailles, Kimberley Vardeman, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Pickering