November 2016

The Sanity Clause, (apologies to Groucho Marx)

I was entranced and delighted to hear chunks of a programme on Radio 4 one day, (link at end) which confirmed what I’d been telling folk for years – particularly those who travelled with me on camping trips in Scandinavia. I’ve since found that my mishmash of ideas is far from novel, but at the time I got a lot of strange looks from m’learned punters who clearly thought I’d lost the plot a bit (Okay, okay, evidence-based). I hope you’ll enjoy this exploration of the people from whom significant chunks of the Santa Claus story derive.

Podcast version here

 

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Do you see what I mean ?

As an aside (before I’ve even started !), I’ve had an attack of synchronicity – today I got through the post a card from my opticians, reminding me of a sight test due (I have them every year,  sometimes more often as I have glaucoma in the family), and also later a brief conversation with a new guy working for Scottish Water who has taken on my old job and my old van, too.

Podcast version here

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Yemen Gallery

Another country with an unenviable reputation which I found scarcely credible, as I found only welcomes; the local people we met took a real pleasure in encountering westerners who had come to visit their land. It is a very poor landscape and state, but incredibly strategic to world powers at the gateway to the Red Sea and Suez Canal.

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Marrakesh Express Gallery

This was my first foray into leading tours, for this short-lived company, driving a 15 seat minibus through France and Spain to spend two weeks travelling in Morocco, of which I knew nothing. Our journeys took us from the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, through the hashish growing areas of Ketama and the Rif, the imperial city of Fez with its stunning medina, then over the Atlas ramparts to explore the northern fringes of the Sahara, following river valleys draining from the mountains into the sands. Read more . .


Christmas in Madras 1987

As might have been expected, India burst in on me like a storm. Sometimes it’s the proverbial wall of heat when you’re coming off the plane, or the overwhelming chaos of rank and sweet smells and eye-jarring colours, but most often for me it’s the milling mass of humanity which ambushes you. 

madras_map_1862
Madras Map 1862

 

I’d read somewhere, (I think it was in Trevor Fishlock’s brilliant compendium of essays called India File), that the elephant god Ganesh, or the Taj Mahal in Agra are usually seen as emblematic of India, but the true motif of India is the crowd.

 

Podcast version here

 

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If there is a paradise on earth….

I must have heard this much quoted phrase repeated many times by local guides over my time in the Indian subcontinent, and attributed to various people about a number of different places. I could have looked it up, but hesitate to pin it down; in a way it seems better that the idea can be applied by anyone to that which brings enduring pleasure. Read more . .



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