On walking, and why we aren’t.
Surely my eyes have blown a fuse. The world is blank – not a hole (because holes are *in* something) but a total absence, a blackness filled with light. Vertigo sweeps over me. And…that strange muddled sense of depth, like when you’re drifting off to sleep in a darkened room and suddenly you can’t tell if the ceiling is a million … Read More
I’m hollow-eyed and bleary today, and I haven’t had enough coffee. A little later I’ll be pootling round York, picking up travel essentials and converting my Brit money into Euros before jetting off to Austria tomorrow afternoon. Tomorrow will be my second visit to London in 3 days, and yet again I’m using the train. If you know what rail … Read More
Ah, England! The mist-shrouded Arthurian ruins, the rolling green hills dotted with sleepy hamlets, nuns on bikes free-wheeling over cattle grids, tankards of warm beer, castles and orchards, jodhpurs and shooting-sticks, where monocles legally replace spectacles and more than two people will automatically form a queue, where everything is quaint and quintessential and steeped and… On and on. Planning a … Read More
The approaching shoreline is an arresting one. A few yards up the cream-coloured beach it’s England – well-kept hedgerows, chalk-dust paths, everything with that tamed look so welcoming to Anglophiles. Except this is the Atlantic. All around, the UK continental shelf is having one last fling with the open air – a scatter of low granite islands, nibbled inwards with … Read More
Let’s take an imaginary journey to the British Empire’s last territorial acquisition. Hang onto your hat: it could get rough.
The bend widens out, and before me lies a toy train platform, built lifesized. I crunch up, moving from a path of gravel ballast onto sloping wooden planking. Before and behind me, the rails curve lazily away through the narrow valley, high escarpments on either side pressing inwards and making a sweaty day even closer. Barring the steel lines set … Read More
When it comes to the British countryside, we don’t know which way to turn. In the 17th Century it was something we feared – a chaotic, violent place where Nature, red in tooth & claw, vied for a taste of your blood with bandits, highwaymen, smugglers, murderers and the clinically befuddled. Mention the countryside to Thomas Hardy and he would … Read More
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