sovereign states listed in Wikipedia . However, plans have changed and I'm now making up my itinerary as I go along. After all, if I stuck to my original plan I wouldn't be able to treat each of the countries that make up the United Kingdom separately. As such I could risk life, limb and my remaining female jubblies to those who would like to see each run autonomously.
So, I've delved into the fine print of Wiki's list in a little more detail to decide what to include. I'm skipping past Akotiri and Dhekelia, which have restricted public access because they're Sovereign Bases of the British military on Cyprus. A dream post in the sun maybe? Instead I'm moving onto to the Åland Islands, an autonomous demilitarised Swedish region of Finland, that are so independent it might be argued that the islands form a nation in their own right. They even produce their rather beautiful stamps including this one depicting a lady growing cucumbers. Fine subject matter for philately don't you think?
Ålanders have been a seafaring lot for centuries. This museum ship, the Pommerm, is 'parked' safely in one of Mariehamn's harbours. But some weren't so lucky which is explains why wreck diving is one of the sports on offer in this island group. One of the unfortunate vessels that went down in the 1840s is known as the 'champagne schooner' because of the nature of its cargo which was rediscovered intact in 2010. Many of the bottles, which are still of surprisingly good quality, will be auctioned off by the goverment to raise funds for further marine archeology and to benefit the environment of the Baltic seas. Just five bottles of beer were also found, again well preserved. They are thought to be some of the oldest in the world. The plan is to analyse these so that they can be recreated by modern production methods and enjoyed by 21st men and women!