Humans have grown up with trees, at once a place of shelter, and of threat, of easily generated myths, yet bestowing a soothing magic. It comes as no surprise that trees should be at centre stage in our current search for effective recuperative measures to address our climatic misdeeds. Indeed, with the strictures on congregation brought on by pandemic, woodland of any sort has become a refuge, a natural hospice, a personal shrine for so many people unable or unwilling to risk health in the company of our fellow beings.
Hungary, through many eyes, is a country of extremes. It lies on the fringes of Europe, unlike most European countries it is landlocked, and commonly experiences scorching heat in the summer and tree-cracking cold in winter. The Hungarian language is also one of a kind with no near relations; this allows a defensive impenetrability, but engenders a cultural homogeneity almost like that of Israel.
There are sights that immediately tug at the heartstrings for many people, perhaps more than we imagine. To my mind, a sight of the open road is a symbol of freedom, of potential; of the choice to go or to stay, to feel that one’s personal space extends beyond the horizon. This last sensation is commonplace among native peoples the world over, but I encountered it first among the Sami inhabitants of Northern Scandinavia.
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
We arrived at Saidu Sharif which was the terminus, because it was the local office of the PTDC – (Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation), also the poshest hotel in Swat. Despite the manager offering us discounts, saying breakfast and heating free, it was still Rs 220 – three times the price we wanted to pay. Read more . .
…….I had felt there was an option that needed exploring, from my first visit there. Once having climbed high enough above the slippery rocky slopes of the main valley, the ridge offered an excellent high level walk back to the shoulder above the camp, where I knew there was a safe descent, and I set about checking this route out, with a few intrepid walkers. Read more . .
We’d arrived in Svartisdal in Northern Norway the previous evening having driven south over the Arctic Circle and set up our camp on a shoulder of land overlooking the valley. They were in the third week of a camping tour of Scandinavia and had great weather throughout the trip, rather surprising considering how much rainfall Norway gets. Read more . .
One time in northern Sweden we had a two night stay in a wildlife reserve and the opportunity to explore this wilderness on foot. Unfortunately it was definitely going to be a rainy day, but nevertheless a chance to experience this vast environment at close quarters. Read more . .