“Travel is an art, it seems to me, just like painting or writing a novel,
it crystallises things.  It crystallises me.”
~ Robert Dessaix, Arabesques


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 ...
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It took seven years and one day for Shannon and me to make the decision to quit our jobs, take the boys out of school and fly to Italy. For seven years we’d been trying to live the good life, the kind of life that Matthew Evans glides through on The Gourmet Farmer; the self-sustaining bliss of River Cottage. They make it look easy, but we were rubbish at it. We’d planted an orchard, dug a veggie patch and bought a few chooks, but seven years later the fruit was rotting on the ground, the chooks were dead and the ...
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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? ...
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Echo of War in Dubrovnik's Old Town 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. The war that tore apart the Croatian city nearly 25 years ago was definitely not on our itinerary. But war leaves a trace in the fabric of a place, in its people and in its architecture, ...
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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. He leaves the flowery scent of expensive eau de cologne in ...
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