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Anchored down in Anchorage

“Texas always seemed so big, but you know you’re in the largest state in the Union when you’re anchored down in Anchorage”

(song by Michelle Shocked, theme to this summer, sung by Mary McCarthy)

 

Lumpy air buffeted the plane as we coasted over a choppy looking sea and threaded between snowy peaks toward our landing. This was the land that Jack London had brought alive for generations of armchair adventurers; land that offered promise, a sanctuary, a new start for so many, and literally a dead-end for as many more.

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Sahara Central

Art and Survival in the Tassili Plateau

 

As I’d spent my formative tourleading years in Morocco, when one of the rarely operated tours to the middle of the Sahara came up for grabs, my managers and I both made a beeline for it.

 

The tour involved taking everything with me to run a trip which was centred around the charming sounding town of Djanet, pretty much smack in the centre of the Sahara, sandwiched between the mountainous region of Tassili n’Ajjer and the legendary Tenere stretching away south to Niger.

If a camel could take a selfie
If a camel could take a selfie

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A great afternoon out in Aberdeen !

Or; a funny thing happened on the way to the theatre.

I’d never envisaged a situation where I would encounter a sculptor with a scalpel; well, perhaps becoming the object of a sculpture is taking the analogy a bit far, but it certainly involved phenomenal levels of skill, imagination and attention to detail. In life we rarely become part of the ‘installation’, but this is the best image I can conjure of a surgical team. I felt at the time that I was absorbed into the cosy collaboration of a dedicated repertory theatre group in a spirited rendition of a favourite performance for them, but an important one for me.

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NOT Trainspotting, but a bit like it

Collecting STUFF. We all do it in some way or another but collecting passport stamps as a pursuit in itself, rather than incidentals that just happen from time to time always veers a bit close to braggadocio for me. Nevertheless just as train and car number plates fascinate some people, so do passport stamps. It takes all sorts ! (I have to admit my own peccadillo is collecting CAA airport significator codes – LHR, DEL, MCW etc).

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Drama in Tiger Leaping Gorge by Carl Welsby

In the mid 1990’s a company I was working for as a tour leader wanted to capitalise on the Channel 4 TV series “Beyond The Clouds”, the name referencing a mis-translation of “Yunnan” (South of the Clouds), a province of southwest China. I would be the first person from the office to visit the area and therefore there was no tour leader manual, save some pages photocopied from the Lonely Planet China guide for the region.

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Comrade Bob in the Steps of Tamerlaine

I had completely forgotten that my name might arouse some amusement, to say the least, when I went on a trip to Central Asia. Bob, you see, means a bean in Russian (also Hungarian for that matter), and a polite but wry smirk crossed the face of every Intourist guide and receptionist for the next few weeks.

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China and Southeast Asia gallery

The predominant images of China are dominated by its huge population, by the dramatic pace of urbanisation and industrialisation, but vast areas of China tell a very different story. Southeast China in particular has spectacular mountain scenery around the Yangtse River and south to the border with Burma (Myanmar) there are many isolated but self sufficient ethnic minorities with characteristics very different from the Han majority.

 

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