A Travellerspoint blog

United Kingdom

Aged counsellor

semi-overcast

In the nine months or so since my last blog I have had two jobs. The main thing is that I have escaped from the awful job that I was doing at the time, which depressed, impoverished and infantilised me and most of my colleagues, and have enjoyed both of the jobs I have had since. My new job title is synonymous with the title of this blog entry, which vaguely amuses me as it makes me think of Nestor. I'm working my arse off, which is not what an aged counsellor should do.

Since that last entry, the Arab spring has sprung in Tunisia and autumned in Syria; there has been a crisis in the eurozone; a self-imposed budget crisis in the US; riots in Athens; floods in Queensland and Thailand; riots in the UK; Aung San Suu Kyi has been released from house arrest. There have been eruptions, tsunamis and earthquakes in Indonesia; protests for electoral reform in KL and Anwar has gone on trial again for sodomy; an extraordinary election result in Thailand following last year's dreadful violence; an earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Vang Pao died in January. Food prices have risen again and there is now famine in east Africa; the future may be very much worse.

Some other interesting articles, gleaned from a quick trawl of the Guardian:

  • the US government on clearing up cluster bombs in Laos, and the other side of the story - on average 300 people are killed or injured by unexploded bombs in Laos each year
  • US-Viet joint venture to clear up Agent Orange damage (about time - and the initiative only covers a few hectares)
  • there's lots - 60bn litres a year - of (basically rubbish) Asian beer
  • Wikileaked cables on the attitudes of and to the Thai royal family

I can only report four trips in the last year:

  • Bulgaria

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  • Italy

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  • Greece

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  • Cyprus

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No diving, and no trips outside Europe, since 2009 (although it's off to China briefly on business next month).

I'm still planning to end the blog soon with a report on the trip to New Guinea. It's just a real hassle to sort out the photos.

Posted by Wardsan 01:35 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Domestic anomie

semi-overcast 20 °C

I haven't added anything for eight months but in my absence the number of visits to this blog has risen slowly to 114,000.

This time two years ago, I was probably somewhere in the Spice Islands eating fish. Now I am in a poorly-paid and incredibly frustrating job and living in a noisy flat. In the last 15 months I have been to Cordoba and Toulouse, and that's it, and haven't dived or sailed once. Far too many of my leisure hours are spent on the PS3. And Notts lost to Yorkshire this week. So I cannot really say that life has improved. It's time to travel; but like a teacher I have lots of holiday and little money. So - to Bulgaria next week.

Anyway, it really is time that I ended this blog; it's taken me nearly two years to write about the trip to Papua, which will be the last post.

Meanwhile while I'm preparing that, here is another list of books read or reread, following on from the last one:

The Fall of the Roman Empire, Peter Heather
The Ruby in Her Navel, Barry Unsworth
Gli Arancini di Montalbano, Andrea Camilleri
The Anglo-Saxons, Geoffrey Hindley
The Red Hourglass, Gordon Grice
Mort à la Fenice, Donna Leon
The Mask of Dimitrios, Eric Ambler
Les Chiots, Mario Vargas Llosa
Millennium, Tom Holland
Magnus, George Mackay Brown
The Curse of the Pogo Stick, Colin Cotterill
Excursion to Tindari, Andrea Camilleri
Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Roger II of Sicily, Hubert Houben
The King Must Die, Mary Renault
The Last Kingdom, Bernard Cornwell
The Snake Stone, Jason Goodwin
The Pale Horseman, Bernard Cornwell
Flat Earth News, Nick Davies
The Lords of the North, Bernard Cornwell
Sword Song, Bernard Cornwell
The Triumphs of Caesar, Stephen Saylor
The Burning Land, Bernard Cornwell
The Bellini Card, Jason Goodwin
The Bull from the Sea, Mary Renault
The Day of the Owl, Leonardo Sciascia
Westminster Abbey, Richard Jenkyns
Jingo, Terry Pratchett
The Fatal Eggs, Mikhail Bulgakov
Catcher in the Rye, J D Salinger
The Perfect Heresy, Stephen O’Shea
Bad Laws, Philip Johnston
The Discovery of France, Graham Robb
The Dream of Rome, Boris Johnson
How to Label a Goat, Ross Clark
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
Nudge, Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler
The Merry Misogynist, Colin Cotterill
How to be a Minister, Gerald Kaufman
The Winner’s Curse, Richard Thaler
Storm, Vince Cable
Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England, Ian Mortimer
The Code of the Woosters, PG Wodehouse
Archangel, Robert Harris
The Girl Who Played With Fire, Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, Stieg Larsson
Rain Fall, Barry Eisler
Hard Rain, Barry Eisler
Rain Storm, Barry Eisler
Killing Rain, Barry Eisler
The Last Assassin, Barry Eisler
Requiem for an Assassin, Barry Eisler
Cockroach, Marian Copeland
Ancient Rome, Simon Baker
The Atlas of the Crusades, J C Riley Smith

Of these I probably most enjoyed The Red Hourglass and The Day of the Owl.

Posted by Wardsan 10:14 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Wage slave

OK, we're getting on for two months since the last post - but this blog will not lie down and die just yet.

I have been working. In London. For money. Five days a week. I haven't been contractually obliged to work five days a week since 2003; and I haven't worked a rigid five days a week since 2001. So it has been a shock to the system, and I have been too exhausted to blog, or do anything else but stare at the wall.

There hasn't been any travel recently, as I am dead broke, so what do I write about? I want to write about New Guinea, but have determined that that will be the end of the blog. Meanwhile I haven't got time to write about anything else, so here are some words that I have been enjoying recently: cozen, malapert, eldritch, baluster, martingale, sneck, endued, oneiric, apocope, omnifutuant, nugacity, ithyphallus, orts, diastemic, apotropaic, champaign, messuages, pyknic, chrism.

No, I don't know what some of them mean either.

Finally, here are some butterflies I saw in Lisbon in May.

A red admiral:

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A Cleopatra, just emerged from its chrysalis:

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One of three emperors contriving to mate:

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Posted by Wardsan 03:21 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Hadrian's Wall

It is three months since my involuntary return from Asia, and about time I finished this blog. But there are still one or two experiences that I want to record, chief among which is the trip to Papua.

  • **

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Since the last post I have walked along Hadrian’s Wall. As built, it was 80 Roman miles long. A Roman mile (mille passuum, or a thousand paces), was 1,480 Imperial yards, so each ‘step’ was 1.48 yards long. As your average Roman soldier was five foot four tall, he had a remarkably long stride. Or, as I suspect, each ‘pace’ consisted of two steps.

It is lambing season, and Northumbria and Cumbria are full of sheep. Behind this one is a stretch of the Wall.

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The trail along the Wall, only ten miles of which exists as a stone structure above ground, is 84 miles long. With tergiversations voluntary and inv my path took me about 95 miles. It took me a very long time, and I lingered at every fort and museum along the way.

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These are some remains at Corbridge Roman town, just south of the Wall. The sinuosities are caused by subsidence into older ditches.

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Niches in the changing room of the bathhouse at Chesters.

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A phallic symbol nearby. There were phallic symbols everywhere in Roman society; their function was apotropaic (they warded off evil spirits). People, especially babies, wore phallic amulets.

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Granaries at Housesteads.

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Milecastle 37.

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There are a number of Roman forts on the route. The easternmost, not even on the trail, is at the mouth of the Tyne, at South Shields. South Shields Metro station has signs in Latin.

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This is a reconstructed gatehouse.

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The fort was known as Arbeia, the place of the Arabs, as the cohort of Tigris bargemen were based here. They would have been from the south, perhaps even Basra. The Brits have recently handed back control of Basra; 1600 years ago the situation was reversed.

Without the historical interest it would not have been the most interesting walk, although there is a beautiful section in the middle, between Chollerford and Walton.

Sewingshields Crags.

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Highshield Crags.

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Crag Lough.

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Meanwhile bluebells cover the country. Kew is blue right now. Here is our native bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta.

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I actually meant to write about Penang and Melaka, but cannot be bothered right now.

Posted by Wardsan 04:01 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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