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Loving Reginald D Hunter's Songs of the South

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since 28/03/2003


White Teeth - Zadie Smith 28/02/2015

Equal Measures of Sympathy and Derision

Winterton Dunes, National Nature Reserve, Winterton-on-Sea 26/02/2015


Winterton Dunes, National Nature Reserve, Winterton-on-Sea Don't get me wrong, I'm as big a pushover for a dozen red roses and a box of chocolates as the next traditional female, but I also like to think that I have a touch of the poetic in my soul and a need to buck convention when it comes to romance as in all other things. I also hold that men should be able to read our minds and know what we want when it comes to gifts and treats and surprises and days out and just about everything else really. However, my holding that something should be so and an absolute belief that it is or ever will be are two different things. Accordingly, I figure that part of the reason my beloved is so good at delighting me, is that I tell him what I want. Heavy hints are dropped before birthdays, the 'dear Santa' letter no longer goes to the north pole, but to an address very close to home. And when it comes to Valentine's day… Well, to be fair, that's the one I've sometimes left to him, have often missed entirely by being on the other side of the planet, and have sometimes taken control of by inviting him for dinner. This year… I decided to revert to the more normal M.O. and told him what I wanted to do. Rather than roses and dinner, I said, I want to go out. I want to go walking on the coast, regardless of the weather. I've got a walk planned at Winterton. And so that's what we did. It didn't go entirely to plan… I envisaged getting to the coast early, a walk, a coffee, a wander around the village, a time on the beach, and finishing up in the pub ...

Lake Sandoval, Tambopata Reserve 22/02/2015

Lake Surface to Tree Tops

The Literary Tourist: Readers and Places in Romantic and Victorian Britain - Dr Nicola J. Watson 21/02/2015

Literary Pilgrimages

The Literary Tourist: Readers and Places in Romantic and Victorian Britain - Dr Nicola J. Watson As our resident travel writer this might interest you… came my introduction to this book. Misguidedly as it turned out, for the emphasis in Watson's work is much more heavily on the literary than on the tourist. I use the word heavily advisedly. It is a scholarly work – and I'm afraid I use the word scholarly in its most pejorative sense. In The Literary Tourist, Watson (an academic veteran of Oxford and Harvard and currently Senior Lecturer in Literature at the Open University) has clearly sought to produce a thesis for use and debate in those illustrious circles, which is a shame… because it limits what could otherwise have been a truly enthralling book. The purpose of the work is to chart the development of literary tourism, primarily through the 18th & 19th centuries although she strays well into the 20th century – stopping just short of the final exposition of the phenomenon in which we long to visit the places which have stood in for fictional landscapes in the film of the book. I'm thinking particularly of New Zealand's understudy role for Tolkien's Middle Earth. Watson splits the concept of the literary tourist into two separate types of pilgrim. Although the first clearly predated the latter, the two have continued to exist in tandem for the last hundred years or more and are now rarely camps into which individuals divide. The first is the seeker after the author. Ironically this began by a search for graves and monuments, only then moving on to birth-places, ...

Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, Tambopata 20/02/2015

Reservations Overcome at the Inkaterra Reserva

Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, Tambopata Getting There If I'm honest the one part of my trip to Peru that I wasn't looking forward to, was the Amazon rainforest. Yes, I know how special it is and all that, but the facts are: I'm over-weight and unfit and don't really do hot sweaty environments and if there's an insect within a ten mile radius it will seek me out and bite me… and then… well, yes, then there will be spiders. Don't even make me think about spiders! But it was part of the deal. And if this is the price to be paid for all the other wonderful stuff, then take a deep breath and resolve to at least look like you're having fun. I couldn't have been more wrong. The short time spent at the Inkaterra reserve was nowhere near long enough. No, scrap that. For this trip, it was long enough. I'd brought the wrong clothes, and it was the end of the tiring trip, but… it was long enough to know that I want to go back and spend longer. I want to go back and make it the point of the trip, not just the add-on at the end of something focussed elsewhere. This review is being written some 18 months after the event (Feb 2015 thinking back on a trip taken in October 2013) so details may vary, but hopefully the feel of the thing, and importantly the lingering impression, will still be of value. Where I've found updated info I've included this. I guess that like most people on their first trip to Peru, the driving purpose was Machu Picchu. We did lots of other wonderful things, but that was the focus. So anything after ...

Stranger to History - Aatish Taseer 19/02/2015

A Stranger in Strange Lands

Stranger to History - Aatish Taseer Aatish Taseer was born of out of a short week of passion between a Sikh Indian mother and a Pakistani Muslim father. The mother was a journalist; the father a politician. That week of passion was to be all it was, despite subsequent attempts at hushing up the pregnancy, then pretending a marriage until finally a clean break was made when the boy was about 18 months old. Ah, but such breaks never are clean are they? There's always a certain amount of meddling from the side-lines, and then there's a child's longing to know who he is, where he is really from. The latter is going to be all the more so if your father was a much respected political activist, who is now a successful businessman, and your paternal grandfather was a revered poet… how can you let that lie? How can you not want such people to be proud of you? That is Taseer's real failing – at the end of the day he wanted his dad to be proud of him. And it was never going to happen. Not only do they belong in totally different worlds, they are so very much alike in other ways. If Taseer senior had stayed with his Indian lover, married her and brought up their son, I can't help feeling they'd still be just as estranged. Under the rules of Islam, Taseer is Muslim by dint of his father being so. Irrespective of his own beliefs – or as it transpires those of his father. It just is. He is marked as such by his early circumcision, which for all he knew could just as easily mark him as a Jew, but certainly it set him ...

Under This Unbroken Sky - Shandi Mitchell 17/02/2015

Little House on the Prairie Revisited

Sulphuric Acid - Amelie Nothomb 15/02/2015

The Worst Reality

The Frood - Jem Roberts 13/02/2015


Death and the Maiden - Frank Tallis 11/02/2015

More Largo Than Waltz

Leadership Rules - Jo Owen 08/02/2015

Leadership by the Book

Leadership Rules - Jo Owen Owen has several contributions to the management / self-help canon. This one is subtitled 50 Timeless Lessons for Leaders. Fifty lessons in under 250 pages? You have to know that the genuine newness of the insights might be on the disappointing side of fabulous. That's not to completely write off Leadership Rules. I enjoyed reading it. Given its structure of short sharp snipes, which might be aimed at the dip-in-and-out brigade, I can also say that it reads well as a sit-down-and-consider book. I had a motive, it has to be admitted. When I first requested this from I was in the throes of both my final year professional exams and my firm's second tier leadership course. I needed to know this stuff. That doesn't mean I'm a sucker for punishment. Some of my lower-mark exam passes might well be on the basis of a tendency to say something along the lines of I know this is what the syllabus says, but actually, in practice, our experience states, it's rubbish! I do read critically. And critically, Owen's approach has something going for it. The structure will work well for those who, unlike me, just want to get a quick fix on the bus or on the … well… wherever else you might read these things! I particularly liked the starting point, which was: what has the recent leadership literature taught us? Perhaps I particularly liked the semi-condemnation of Good to Great which at the timemy firm were only just picking up on. A tad late, perhaps? In fairness, although ...

Avia Club Nepal, Pokhara 03/02/2015

Get High With Us

A Year in Tibet - Sun Shuyun 01/02/2015

Life In Tibet: variations of 'truth'

Towards Another Summer - Janet Frame 30/01/2015

The Godwits Vanish

Towards Another Summer - Janet Frame Janet Frame, who died in 2004, is acknowledged as one of the most distinguished writers to come out of New Zealand. She won just about every prize going, wrote an autobiography (An Angel at My Table) that is adjudged to be a classic of the genre and inspired a similarly appreciated film, was awarded a CBE and honorary membership of the American Academy of Arts and Letters… …and to my shame I'd never heard of her. So unlike every other review you'll read or have already read of towards another summer (capital letters are eschewed in the title), what follows will make no comparisons with her later work, will draw few parallels with the reality of her life but will, instead, see the book as a book… standing or failing alone as books are meant to do. For the record however this novel was written in 1963, but the author deemed it too personal to be published during her lifetime. No instructions authorising or prohibiting posthumous publication were found – but two bound copies of the book securely stored at separate locations indicate that Frame was not totally against the idea. The exposition (it can hardly be called a story) centres upon the exiled writer Grace Cleave. Struggling to finish her current novel in London, and increasingly homesick for her beloved New Zealand, she feels herself to have become a migratory bird. Hence the title of the book, a quote from Brasch's poem The Islands: … and from their haunted bay The godwits vanish towards another summer To begin ...

Our Dusty Paradise - Linda Caine 28/01/2015

Always Time For One More Adventure

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