Of sweets and violets

Of sweets and violets

How about this loving description of a driver who charms Golding in Istanbul, handing him and his companion endearing gifts.  None of which prevented him charging them a pile of dosh for his services. His heart was as golden as his teeth, for we had not been in the...
This blue and golden world

This blue and golden world

A lyrical commitment to his own odyssey, self-promised the first time the author sailed past Ithaca.  He made it, a mere three or four decades and a war later.  How could he not, a ‘blue and golden world’ would exercise a strong hold on the soul (mine,...
A singing sense

A singing sense

This enigmatic statement by Elizabeth Bowen caught my eye, even though I’m not sure what it means.  Only that some roads invite you to follow them?  I often find when we’re driving or walking or biking that a sly side road winks and nods and invites you to...
My kind of market

My kind of market

You may have noticed that I love basket-bursting, banquet-spread descriptions of food.  However, while meals can be sumptuously presented, market stalls collapsing under the weight of their rampant verdure are harder to find.  So, imagine the joy of walking around...
The timelessness of Troy

The timelessness of Troy

Golding took thirty years to complete his own odyssey from Troy to Ithaka, with war and other events intervening between his first attempt, in which he passed a few miles shy of Ithaka, and the second successful venture in the early 1950s.  Here he captures the...
What are decades to dreams?

What are decades to dreams?

Golding, sailing past the island of Ithaka, thought he would return and land within a few months.  Then war and life intervened, and it took him more than a quarter of a century.  Which goes to show, hang on to your dreams long enough and they can come true.  Or, more...
Simple pleasures for ever

Simple pleasures for ever

It is unbelievable how good bread and cheese can taste, washed down with some form of liquid amber, when you are on a terrace over a blue chasm, or sitting on a rock or a bench during a hike or a bike ride. I love such moments captured and committed to memory so we...
Sunrise at Chios

Sunrise at Chios

What a dazzling description of watching a sunrise from a ship, contrasted perfectly with a preceding sunset.  The miracle of both, eternal and always new.  But there was no getting back into the berth again, in Chios harbour, and the sun just rising. And exquisite...
Oh you later travellers

Oh you later travellers

I’m always touched by people connecting to us from the past, throwing their light into an unknown future in addressing, in a human and friendly way, people not even born.  George Eliot and Charlotte Bronte do this by addressing readers directly, and you, reading...
In love with an island

In love with an island

After about three decades and three months, Golding finally realized his war-postponed dream of visiting Ithaca.  With such a level of high expectation and anticipation, you might expect the reality of the place to disappoint.  Anything but, it transported him and was...
Exchange of gifts

Exchange of gifts

What a lovely moment, the exchange of small, loving gifts, with Golding and his friend receiving a bunch of fresh picked garden flowers. We enjoy such exchanges with one of our neighbours in the form of food gifts – when either of us bakes, something gets taken...
Intoxicating Ithaca

Intoxicating Ithaca

Golding took several decades to realize his dream of visiting Ithaca, and a few months to make his own odyssean journey there by way of Troy.  Many of his descriptions of this and other Greek islands are intoxicating in their brightness and warmth, particularly as one...
Far the greater number

Far the greater number

If you can die concluding that by far the greater number of people in the world are very good, you have had a good life or perhaps you have just lived it well.  Here, Steinbeck concludes his slim, rich account of a month spent in the Soviet Union at the height of the...
The culture of place

The culture of place

An interesting observation by James Rebanks, who has fought to keep alive some older traditions of farming and sheep-rearing, including a particular type of sheep, in the north of England.  His book seems to have touched a chord, resonating with a deep-seated need for...
A people of poetry, music and dancing

A people of poetry, music and dancing

Being cautious about characteristics attributed to entire nations which might be more suitably attributed to individuals, I hesitated to share these observations by Steinbeck of his experience of Georgians, during a short visit of a few days or perhaps a week. What it...
Of wholehearted hospitality

Of wholehearted hospitality

Steinbeck describes the warmth and generosity of the welcome he and Robert Capa received in Ukraine, during their month long trip to the Soviet Union in 1946. The entire village was party to the plan, and contributed what they could. This was a great show of...
Time fell away

Time fell away

This describes one of those timeless stretches when you step outside the sturm und drang and step into flow of one kind or another. This is the detachment we find each in our own way, but commonly it seems to involve contact with a natural setting, or being involved...
Resilience on legs

Resilience on legs

During their month long trip to the Soviet Union after the Second World War (and during the Cold one), John Steinbeck and Robert Capa spent a few days in the bombed out siege-opolis of Stalingrad, where they found human scenes, some startling in their extremity and...
An atmosphere of pleasure

An atmosphere of pleasure

In the 1870s Robert Louis Stevenson ambled over a rocky bit of France helped and hindered by a donkey he came to love even while being frequently furious with her ornery stubbornness. Perhaps she thought the same of him. Here he relishes a moment of place-peace, and I...
An all-embracing toast

An all-embracing toast

Hard to imagine a toast which encompasses more. This is John Steinbeck’s description of the open-hearted hospitality he enjoyed, together with his friend the photographer Robert Capa, when they were invited to dine with ordinary people on their month-long trip...
Many legended-island

Many legended-island

Are those legends still alive or did they die with the war, or with the people who told them?  And what if we made our own mental – or real – ‘many-legended island’ to walk in? Or created legends for the real world? If you have a memory or idea...
Island pebbles

Island pebbles

As a committed pebble picker, I was delighted to read that Keats also thought to bend down and scoop up a few when he travelled. Here he brings them back from his trip to Scotland, as a memento for his sister.On the metaphorical benefits of holding a pebble in your...

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