When George Washington lived at his Mount Vernon plantation estate, which gazes across the Potomac River from Virginia to Maryland, he employed 316 slaves. Most of them worked in the mansion, in the gardens or on the farm, but from 1797 onwards, the year Washington retired from the US Presidency, six of them had a new job.
I'm an award-winning travel and drinks writer. I've written over 40 travel guidebooks, including ones for National Geographic and Insight Guides. I've written for publications worldwide including The Times, Waitrose Drinks and Chilled Magazine. On the drinks side I specialise in spirits and publish two websites of my own, The Vodka Guy and Travel Distilled. I also publish several travel websites, including Greece Travel Secrets, Pacific Coast Highway Travel and The Travel Pages. I spend half the year in Cambridgeshire and the other half in Arizona, near Tucson, from where I travel widely in the USA.
To take the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is to make a journey through the USA's history, through immigration, revolution and Prohibition to the modern global business world. The Beams were originally called Boehm and arrived in America from Germany in 1740, setting up as farmers.
06/06/2014 11:55 BST
People go to the States for all kinds of reasons - to take a road trip, visit great cities like New York, see the fall colours, take the kids to Disneyland or hang out in Hollywood. It's not often that food is given as a reason for going, but because of its size and diversity, the USA is one of the best countries in which to enjoy great eating.
20/03/2014 11:08 GMT
The United States is the world's fourth-biggest wine-producing nation, after France, Italy and Spain. It's also seven times bigger than those three great European wine countries combined, so wine lovers will have to choose carefully where to go...
10/01/2014 13:54 GMT
With several cognac houses right in the town centre, including prestigious names like Rémy Martin, Martell, Baron Otard and the biggest name in the business, Hennessy, it can be hard to know where to begin. The best place, perhaps, is down by the Charente river, where the chateaux of Hennessy and Baron Otard stand side by side.
23/12/2013 10:34 GMT
The name of its neighbour a few miles away is literally on the lips of spirits drinkers around the world, but the pretty little town of Jarnac in western France is also worth raising a glass to.
20/12/2013 10:49 GMT
I've driven bits of Route 66, gone walking in Memphis, been 90 miles out of Atlanta by sundown and seen the cathedral mountains of Colorado. Of my top ten songs for inspiring travel in the USA, I've experienced nine of them personally. But, so far at least, I've only been to Carolina in my mind.
25/11/2013 16:58 GMT
'What's that in the water?' asks Kathleen, pointing ahead of the boat. We're standing on the deck of the Glen Tarsan, a former fishing vessel now converted to take wildlife and other cruises off the west coast of Scotland. We've left Skye behind and are sailing in wonderful sunshine towards the little island of Canna (population: 12).
18/11/2013 13:00 GMT
Clothes-lines, coffee and coat-hangers. They're small things when you're staying in a hotel or an apartment but it's usually the small things that either delight you or send you raving mad.
12/11/2013 12:36 GMT
In a city famous for tearing down the old to build the new, the opening of the Mob Museum in downtown Las Vegas was a rare event. It saved the 1933 courthouse, where many Mafia trials took place, from destruction. The neo-classical building had also been a post office and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
08/11/2013 11:25 GMT
After so much talk about oysters, and advice from someone who is clearly passionate about his job, there's only one thing to do - head for the restaurant and sample a dozen of them.
04/11/2013 13:33 GMT
Somewhere off the west coast of Scotland is a fishing trawler called the Crimson Arrow, and on the boat is a fisherman called Toastie. He brings his scallops into the harbour at Oban, and they are the best scallops in the world. How do I know?
29/10/2013 13:48 GMT
Alex had been right about the hood. 'Driving through Glen Coe in a convertible is an amazing experience,' he'd told us. 'In a convertible you can smell things like the heather, the wild garlic. In a regular saloon you're cut off from all that. With the hood down you're out in the open, enjoying the fresh air.'
21/10/2013 14:14 BST
From the frozen north to the steamy south, and from the buzz of New York to the Pacific Ocean, America's landscapes have always inspired its authors.
21/10/2013 13:29 BST
We were a little unsure of the place at first, as when we checked in and made our way up the grand staircase to our room, there was a kind of reverential hush about the hotel. It was the kind of feeling you might get if you were a guest at Buckingham Palace, I imagine.
14/10/2013 14:17 BST
Shortly before we were due to stay at the Loch Melfort Hotel, south of Oban in Argyll, the owners were voted Scottish Hoteliers of the Year. They already claimed to have the best views on the west coast of Scotland, and their Asknish Bay Restaurant has won two AA Rosettes every year since 2001.
14/10/2013 14:16 BST
Dunkeld is one of the most enchanting towns in Scotland, standing in a scenic spot by the River Tay and with the haunting ruins of Dunkeld Cathedral one of its highlights.
09/10/2013 10:40 BST
Beware of what you wish for, you're told, as you might be disappointed. I'd always longed to eat at Northcote Manor, which a friend who'd eaten there many times had always told me is the best restaurant in Lancashire, if not the north of England.
08/10/2013 10:18 BST
By 7.45pm I'm standing inside this memorial, as people do every night of the year, to remember the fallen Commonwealth soldiers of the First World War, who have no other resting place. At 8pm four buglers from the local fire brigade sound the Last Post and silence the gently murmuring crowd.
07/10/2013 14:54 BST
The challenge facing this chef is that he is on board the Glen Tarsan, a converted fishing boat which now takes up to 12 passengers on wildlife cruises off the west coast of Scotland, where the weather can occasionally be, well, challenging.
07/10/2013 13:52 BST
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements. Learn more