Almost Lesotho – seeking Shangri-La (Drakensberg, South Africa)

May 30, 2014

‘……….didn’t you ever want to know what was on the other side of the mountain?’                – James Hilton, Lost Horizon. Funny to find an Antipodean neighbour way out here: a beanie-clad, mumbling, red-head New Zealander in the middle of Africa; him having asked about places I’ve been, then admonishing himself […]

Jigsaw Days – secret pieces (Picardy, France)

April 28, 2014

From Berlin I’ve flown to Paris late winter, driving north for 2hrs and overnighting in the hamlet of Behen, a classic French Chateau with stately entry paved for WW2 German tanks, towers and walls from 15th and 18th centuries, the stables once bombed by American war planes. Graceful shapes glide on a Monet pond; a […]

Lost Pearls and Pomegranates – from red towers to whitewash (Andalusia, Spain)

December 8, 2013

The phone rings late afternoon: my girlfriend having just arrived. We meet and trudge uphill from Granada station, through the 15th century Gate of Pomegranates to this Alhambra citadel – ruddy stone towers, roses, oranges and myrtles – a garden-fortress built to house a Moorish army of 40,000. Boabdil was born here, imprisoned in the […]

A Tale of Three Cities – once upon a town (Soweto, South Africa)

November 3, 2013

It’s early morning, The Healer a tall woman with the short-cropped, knotted hair of her people. I lean closer to hear her words, those bloodshot eyes blurred but vacant. She talks of `home’ – and the importance of family – before suddenly falling silent. We’re standing on an elevated ancient seabed: the rocky ridge of […]

Bells and Whistles – mothers and fathers (Tuscany, Italy)

September 25, 2013

Dragano is an editor initially from up north. He’s tall and rakish, the wisp of a moustache and sleek brown hair; has the habit of whistling unexpectedly, as he ponders the ways of an unjust world while stroking a precocious black cat. His villa is classic Tuscan, the bricks and terra cotta gables more orange […]

Lost and Found – a splendid memory (Cape Arid, Western Australia)

June 4, 2013

`The truck’ bumps from side to side, the wheels in deeply rutted tracks. Nearer our coastal camp, scrub turns to woodland and we both lurch to the left as we drop a gear and edge across a scary slab of sloping granite. Back on sand it’s our final descent, to a wild coast of dazzling […]

Rites of Return – an African cemetery in New York City (USA)

May 11, 2013

Just off Broadway I’m in a side street by City Hall, the ubiquitous New York crowds somehow missing, the hum of traffic vague and distant. A lonesome monument sits silent and tucked in the shadow of City Planning offices and a 30-storey Federal skyscraper; that building’s construction leading to the 1991 discovery of the largest […]

Soul Searching – a sense in ancient science (South Island, New Zealand)

May 8, 2013

We linger in the dark after coffee, among deserted café chairs of bleached wooden slats, tables and simple benches. The air smells of seaweed, salt and garlic. The night cries of wheeling gulls float across Moeraki Harbour – ‘sleepy sky’ in Maori – as little blue penguins nest between waterline rocks at our feet. The […]