Category Archives: TRAVEL

Reflecting on the work of women in compiling the Oxford English Dictionary.

On 6 June 1928, one hundred and fifty men gathered in London’s Goldsmiths Hall to celebrate the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). The guests were men who had served the Dictionary for decades or months or not at all. They ate Saumon bouilli with sauce Hollandaise, and they drank 1907 Chateau Margaux. Among the guests was Professor J.R.R. Tolkien. He had not yet written The Hobbit, but after serving in WWI he spent a couple of years in the Scriptorium (a grand name for the garden shed where the Dictionary was being compiled) defining words beginning with Wa. We can thank him for waggle and walrus and warlock. I’d like to think he was also consulted on wizard, but there is no evidence of this. Gentlemen representing The Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Manchester Guardian were also invited. As were scholars, editors, clerks, men of the cloth, knights of the realm and a humble school headmaster. They poured into the Hall and found their places at three long tables arranged in front of another, higher, table. These were the lesser men, though … Continue Reading ››

AN ITALIAN RECIPE FOR REPOSE

When was the last time you used the word, Repose? When was the last time you even heard it? Repose is one of those old-fashioned words, like eventide or winsome. It conjures an era when there was time in the day for restful contemplation. Is that why we don’t hear it anymore? Because we’ve run out of time? Because we’re so busy doing all the things that make up our twenty-first century lives that the moments in between this, that and the other thing are just not long enough? Or is it because when we do stop – exhausted, brain dead, pooped, shattered – we fill the quiet with noise, or pull our gaze from the unfocussed distance to the blue screen? The last time (perhaps the only time) I heard someone use the word repose, I was in Tuscany, working as a volunteer on an organic farm. Lunch was over, it had been drawn out and delicious and full of conversation, as lunch at Il Mulino tended to be, and our host, Ulrike, declared that she was going for repose. ‘I’m going for repose,’ she said. And she rose from her place at the old wooden table and left the room. Just like that. I … Continue Reading ››

ECHO OF WAR IN DUBROVNIK’S OLD TOWN

PIP WILLIAMS – 16 JUNE 2015

Old Dubrovnik is beautiful, but the scars of war remain. War was not what we expected when we arrived in Dubrovnik’s Old Town. We had come to walk the medieval ramparts, gaze at the sapphire blue of the Adriatic Sea, and stroll narrow lanes and the wide thoroughfare of the Stradun, stopping for ice-cream whenever the whim took us. Continue reading

THE SWEET SMELL OF POVERTY

I love trains.

Inside and out they reveal so much about a place and its people.

The train from Rome to Naples is hot and crowded, a far cry from the air conditioned comfort of our journeys north. Before we even start moving, scents of life begin wafting through the carriage. Italy is suddenly more interesting (and a little smellier). As the train idles a man makes his way through the carriage leaving notes written in English on the window sill of each seat. Continue reading