Around the World in 80+ Pages
In recent months, I have developed a new addiction – travel writing books. My logic is that if my circumstances are such that I cannot actively be travelling right now then I may as well be doing the next best thing – reading about it.
Since my addiction began, towards the tale end of Autumn, I have visited the 7 most polluted places in the world with Andrew Blackwell, cycled from Mongolia to Vietnam with Erika Warmbrunn, driven around China with Peter Hessler, lived in a Javanese village with Andrew Beatty, and am currently whizzing around Jamaica with Ian Thomson. Up next – Barbara Demick will be covertly burrowing me through to North Korea before I then head off to the Amazon with John Gimlette. I am enjoying every moment of my trip.
I would seriously recommend this pastime to anybody else who misses the thrill of being surrounded by the unfamiliar but for whatever reason, can’t be doing it right now. It’s comparatively inexpensive, you don’t need any vaccinations nor to worry about having enough deet in your repellant, and you won’t be in any danger whatsoever.
Whilst it doesn’t quite equate to the real thing, it’s still comforting to know that you can get off the beaten track and learn about the world without getting out of bed, and that’s precisely what I plan on doing with the remainder of my afternoon.
The Point When It All Makes Sense
Hitting the UK headlines this week was a rather shocking insinuation – politicians are capable of telling lies. Who would have thought so? But it’s true, former cabinet minister Chris Huhne was telling porky-pies about his ex-wife driving his car when it was caught speeding a decade ago.
Generally, anything to do with politics tends to go over my head somewhat (mainly because I have a hard time believing anything I read on the matter), but there were two things about this particular story which were of interest to me.
The first was that Huhne’s cowardice fits in perfectly well with the fact that his name, in German, roughly translates as ‘chicken’. Ja, genau!
The second is the feeling that I’ve seen his ex-wife, Vicky Pryce, somewhere before. No – it wasn’t when she was ramping up points whilst zipping along the M11 in 2003, it was somewhere else I’m sure…
N’ah yes, that’s it. As I recall, she was desperate for points then, too.
Interestingly, when Chris Huhne resigned from the cabinet over the allegations (which were initially made last year), backing came from the somewhat surprising source of none other than Fabio Capello:
“I spoke to the Prime Minister and said that in my opinion someone should not be punished until it is official that he has deliberately conspired with his ex-wife to knowingly deceive the authorities.” – Well, you’re the expert on the situation afterall, insider info and all that jazz.
It’s all conspiracy I tell thee!
To Give Up Something, or to Give Up on Trying to Decide What That Something Is?
Last year was the first time I had given something up for the entire duration of Lent. For 40 days and 40 nights, my stomach was a crisp, chocolate and cider-free zone, and I did feel a lot better for it. The weighing scales were grateful too, and calculating my weight was a slightly less painful experience for them than usual.
Lent begins again on Wednesday and I am still wondering what I’d like to give up this year. To repeat the abstinence of the 3C’s mentioned above feels slightly lacking in imagination, and I’m not so sure that crisps are thaaaaaaat fattening, and cider is something I rarely drink anymore anyway.
But what other guilty pleasures do I enjoy yet over-consume? Wine is one option, but I do believe that a glass of wine every now and then can actually be quite beneficial. So my resolution is to give up on buying any item of food or drink that isn’t necessary (to the new Sainsburys Local by the cricket ground – you have a lot of fat to answer for, buddy!). And finally, I’m going to give up on being lazy when it comes to physical exercise. A brisk 30-minute power-walk each and every day. Watch this space.
Bring it on Lent, I’m ready and waiting for ya!
Song of the Day: Ice Choir – Teletrips
I liked this artist the moment I read the name. ‘Ice Choir‘. Sounds like exactly the sort of music you want to listen to on a Sunday afternoon in February, when it’s raining and snowing outside, the sky is white, and the windows are spattered with rain and snowflakes. This song lives up to the image evoked by the name – chilled, soothing and mysterious. Enjoy.