On the Road Again…

In 2006, I was hit head-on by a drunk driver in Colorado. While I escaped serious physical injuries, the event left me mentally traumatised and I suffered flashbacks for years. One of the unexpected joys of living and working in London was the proliferation of public transportation options.

I spent many happy years without driving, though I did my fair share of grumbling about the freezing cold train platforms waiting for connections on the evening commute or the packed tubes with dodgy men and their wandering hands or the seemingly endless number of people coughing on me.

But I knew when we moved to Yorkshire that I’d have to get behind the wheel again. And in the past two weeks, I’ve driven more miles than in the previous five and half years down south. And, slowly, very slowly, I’m starting to remember the joys of driving. Continue reading

The Art of Walking with Henry David Thoreau

I believe in the forest, and in the meadow and in the night in which the corn grows.

There have been many times I’ve stood before the vastness of nature – taking in the valley views from a mountain top, watching the ocean throw its waves against the shore – and felt myself small, even insignificant. It’s a feeling I cherish, knowing that, in the grand scheme of things, my worries and quotidian affairs are unimportant.

It is the perspective that I seek when I go walking and one that Henry David Thoreau captures so eloquently in his essay Walking (free e-book | public library). It is the essay that contains one of my favourite quotes:

I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit. In my afternoon walk, I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to Society. But it sometimes happens that I cannot easily shake off the village. The thought of some work will run in my head and I am not where my body is – I am out of my senses. What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?

Continue reading

Palm House Parterre, Kew Gardens

An autumn walk in Kew Gardens

We only have a few days left in London before we make our move to Yorkshire. Obviously, we can’t wait! But we’re also trying to make the most of our time here.

Almost on a whim, we decided to go for an autumn walk in Kew Gardens, London’s largest UNESCO World Heritage site. I can’t believe that I’ve lived here for five and a half years and haven’t visited Kew Gardens before. With my love of nature walks I feel I’ve left this way too late and I wish I’d seen it in every season. It definitely belongs on my favourite things to do in London list.

There is a delightful mix of Victorian architecture, modern art and botanical installations that will captivate you for hours. We loved the long stretches of grassy paths bordered by towering trees and bushes in gold, orange and red as well as the enormous glass greenhouses that house a profusion of foliage from around the world. Continue reading

Views from Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italy

Escape to Tuscany

Tuscany. The dry, heavy heat enveloped us as we stepped off the plane. We turned to each other in disbelief, wide smiles on our faces. The England we’d left behind had been unseasonably cool and rainy for weeks.

We moved quickly through the airport and into the rental car to start the journey to our destination: Four adults with four large suitcases crammed into an Audi A3. Google Maps fired up on the phone. The road laid out straight before us. It wasn’t the smoothest two hours of our lives as we followed the map down narrow side streets in the technology’s misplaced efforts to take us by the fastest – though not the most direct – route. But we all arrived with our sense of humour more or less intact. And we managed to avoid the tolls. Score!

The landscape’s colouring around Pisa was flat: late-summer green that had all the moisture baked out of it, pale gold hammered thin and blanched by the sun, dusty terra-cotta red roofs and floors. There were fields of sunflowers, all their petals gone, row upon row of black heads bowed in defeat to the relentless summer heat. Successive hills with gentle slopes revealed a stone villa here, a walled city there. And we passed small, ramshackle towns in the blink of an eye. Continue reading

Book Review: Streets of Darkness by A.A. Dhand

In an episode of the BBC Books and Author’s podcast that aired in July 2017, Abir Mukherjee sent in a report from the Bradford Literature Festival. In one segment, he interviewed A.A. Dhand about his crime series starring Harry Virdee, a Detective Inspector working the streets of Bradford while trying to keep the dark secrets of his past and his family from encroaching on his day job.

As a son of Bradford, Dhand spoke about how the city is always evolving, comprised of many facets: monoculture meets multi-culture, East meets West; there is beauty as well as darkness. For Dhand, it’s the perfect setting for a crime series. I was intrigued, and with our move to West Yorkshire imminent, I wanted to dive into the modern literature of the north. Continue reading