Quang Ngai, January 2020. Jim wanted to go. I was only six when it happened. Son My had no place in my consciousness. Jim was eighteen. ‘I was angry at the Americans, angry about the war. I can’t be so close and not go’, he told me. So I went – because he wanted to, and maybe to learn something. We hired bikes and cycled. … Continue reading Son My.
Saigon. December 2019 I didn’t know much about Vietnamese history. But I did know that the Reunification Palace is a bit of a must for history buffs. We’d walked past it a few times. A 1960’s ugly block of a building, which cast a sort of eerie shadow over the city, palm trees and manicured gardens notwithstanding. When we visited I had the approach and … Continue reading From Independence to Reunification – A Palace Full of History.
From the archives: Bundi 2010. Once in a while you meet someone extraordinary. Someone with such an infectious positive energy, that the only thing you can do around them is smile. Mr. Prakash Gupta – alias Kukki, is known throughout Bundi. He began talking as he welcomed us into his living room cum bedroom. Pulling out book after book, he proudly showed us articles that … Continue reading The Intrepid Mr Kukki.
Shekhawati. 2010. Shekhawati is a landscape of narrow country roads, half forgotten villages and beautiful havelis. (large ornate traditional houses). Crops of bright green mustard seeds, wheat and cauliflower interlaced with sandy tracks, ornate yellow sandstone wells and crumbling cenotaphs. An open air painting of shifting colour and light. Once an area on the silk trade route between the ports of the Arabian Sea and … Continue reading Shekhawati: An Outdoor Gallery.
Every October in the 8th month of Kartika, business and religion come together and the quiet town of Pushkar is transformed into the circus that is the Pushkar camel festival. Thousands of livestock owners stir in the Thar desert, pack family and belongings onto wooden carts, trailing camels, horses, and cows behind them, to trade on the Mela ground – a huge, dry, expanse of … Continue reading Pulsating Pushkar.
‘The name’s Bond. Dennis Bond’. Mr Bond provided our rather grand lunch stop today. He constructed Grange Arch – a bizarre, Disneyfied ediface, to ‘close off the distant view’ at his country home, Creech Grange. Shame it wasn’t called Skyfall. That aside it was a perfect walk on a perfect day. We skirted around crumbling Corfe Castle, leaving it almost immediately behind and below as … Continue reading Perfect, Quintessential England.
The weather forecast promised a heatwave. Blinding sunshine, blue skies and temperatures soaring beyond the twenties to the low thirties. We got mist. A white-out. And a few spots of rain. I wanted to find an ichthyosaurus, a plesiosaurus, or a scelidosaurus. We’d got bad weather under the circumstances, but what we needed was really big, bad weather. Rain coming down by the bucketful, wind, … Continue reading In The Footsteps of Mary Anning.
There’s a great thing about walking in the English countryside. The tea-room. All good walks should begin or end at one. At Worth Matravers, deep in Dorset, next to the duck pond on the miniscule green is the quintessential, quaint English tea-shop. Full of antiques and mismatched china, embroidered knick-knacks, sugar basins with cubed sugar and tongs, old advertising posters, – and people. We could … Continue reading Dorset. Sea and Scones.
It was a complete gift. We knew nothing about it; on a whim decided to chance it, and then just fell head-over-heels in love with it. Poetry in stone. A beech-hedged drive. A sixteenth-century dovecote. A bridge over the river Wye. Turrets and battlements playing hide-and-seek with tree tops and the hall sitting on it’s limestone bluff above us. Past the Elizabethan stables, through the … Continue reading Haddon – a hall and a home.
Above me a velvety night sky full of stars. Concentric circles shimmer. I’m in a vortex. Static but giddy. Drowning in light. It is a beauty that knocks me off my feet. For days now, I’ve been standing, head knocked back at a curious angle, neck cricked, staring up at apses and arches, mesmerised by sparkling, spangling bits of coloured glass. The mausoleum is small, … Continue reading Ravenna: Meals and Mosaics.