In another 100 Years

Another Terror Attack;
Brussels on the 22nd March,
Two bombs at Zaventem Airport
And another at Maelbeek Metro.
Istanbul was bombed two days ago,
Turkey’s second in a week.

Shabqadar, Grand-Bassam, Ankara,
Peshawar, Maiduguri, Istanbul

And Bamako on the 21st.

141 innocent souls, this is March, so far.
All this loss for a skewed reading.
History is full of these shows of inhumanity.

In another 100 years
We will be recording similar footage,
Smoke-filled rooms, streets
And glass blown-out buildings.
Ruined airports, metros and markets
But in 100 years it will be for some other excuse
– Like the price of chocolate.

Brussels, 22nd March; Bamako, 21st March; Istanbul, 20th March; Maiduguri, 16th March; Peshawar, 16th March; Ankara, 13th March; Grand-Bassam, 13th March; Shabqadar, 7th March.

Photo: by Annie Spratt via


When we said that we would holiday with friends in the Drôme region of France, I was excited, but must have had selective amnesia about the mountainous and inclined aspect of the region. The Drôme Valley is bordered by the soaring Alps and the Cevennes and nestled between them is a town called Crest.

In the balmy afternoon sun, we ascend the steep crumbling stairway, heading for the most striking man-made landmark for miles around. The heavy lunch of beef and red wine, although glorious while being enjoyed, is wholly regretted as I trudge up the 52 m Tour de Crest, The Keep. Friends swear that the view from the top is worth the effort – I doubt this with each knee numbing step.

Crest is a traditional market town with an imposing skyward bound structure. The Tour de Crest was once attached to the Crest Castle, but it is now the only remainder of this once massive fortification. The Tour de Crest, known locally as The Keep was used to house prisoners. What makes this goal so interesting is not the history or the architecture, but the walls of the cells.

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My adventures with the Björgunarsveitin Tindur in Ólafsfjörður

The alarm bleeps on the bedside locker. I silence it quickly, so as not to wake the whole house and I slide out of bed. The heat is high and the radiators are scalding to touch, only the darkness outside alerts you know the ungodliness of the hour. Stars wink hello while everyone slumbers. A splash of water and some minty fresh breath and then back to my room to dress. I had the foresight to lay my clothes out the previous night. All the clothes that I will be wearing today besides my hat and gloves have been very generously loaned to me by the marvellously impressive Lára Stefánsdóttir.

Soft wool lies directly next to my skin. The next layers are all wool of varying percentages with a final top layer. This is the best layer; a fabulous hand knitted patch-work like jumper of a tan and blue squares. It was the perfect topping for my look of steadfast warmth and solidity. The jumper was scratchier than the inner vest but the moment I put it on my core temperature climbed. I knew I was in the best clothes to survive whatever the weather would throw at me. Standing in my room with only a small bedside light on and the sounds of a sleeping house I felt like a character from a pantomime – the goodie or the baddie I hadn’t decided yet!

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Sojourn in Iceland; Baptising Impressions

The plane banks to the right, the engines rev, just a little. The thick layer of marshmallowy clouds remain above and the plane descends. Through the grubby plastic oblong window the view clarifies. I can see planes, cars, roadways, houses and people milling about. All planted into the black and green land like alien toys. Toys that have been erected and laid out with immense precision to better enjoy the game?

Iceland – inviting the plane load to disembark, explore and . . .

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A Lesson in Travelling

The ferry’s disembodied voice scratches into life, announcing that all passengers should begin their descent to the car deck, foot passengers to remain and wait for further directions. The voice clicks off and a general murmur of shuffling and sleepy conversation fills the seating lounge. People wriggle into jackets, others repack bags, unplug tablets and remove earphones. Slowly the masses move through the corridors and descend the tight stairway.

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In remembrance of Yeats in Italy

I woke this morning to a grey murky sky, one with the possibly of becoming what my Dad would call a soft day. The neighbours were unusually noisy playing a game of musical cars. Revving engines are not the most cheerful way to be woken. Bleary eyed, I head into the kitchen and, in automatic mode, I open my laptop to check emails and updates etc. the usual weekly routine, but today is Saturday. This glorious fact was emphasised when I saw an old friend had posted Sailing to Byzantium, by W.B. Yeats. Today is the 13th of June; Yeats’ birthday. An unusual but wonderful way to start the weekend, reading the writings of Yeats.

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Fly ‘n’ Drive

As I lounge on my couch with the Sunday papers, which I read on Wednesday evening, munching on a buttery scone and drinking a steaming cuppa one sentence grabs me; “The best way to visit America is to Fly ‘n’ Drive”. The article went on to describe the pleasure of discovering unknown treasures on the forgotten roads of Louisiana or Oregon by driving away from the usual tourist hot spots. This is true, but as someone who previously lived in the States and watched a news helicopter fly over a 40-car pile-up, I would caution a word of warning to any European planning on driving in America – make sure your air bags work and maybe make your dash board as soft and squishy as possible. This pre-emptive step will reduce the headache that will inevitably come on after the third time you kiss the top of the steering wheel or glove box with your now bruised and frankly fed up forehead.

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