I wasn’t going to post anything today. Being cooped up inside for week after week and having a work in progress living room where one can live but not yet feel comfortable today offers a rare chance to go in the garden.
Last Sunday it was snowing and yet today on Palm Sunday it is 21 C or 70 degrees and the first real Springlike weather is upon us. I have an 80 foot or so long southwesterly garden which I thought today I would make the most of.
I spent the early hours editing the first 10% of my new book and hope to put a chicken in the oven as soon I press publish and then go and read in the garden. My books are still in something of a jumble from having moved and I was thinking over breakfast what to read. I was looking for The Binding which I am part way through reading but it took me half an hour to find it. In the mean-time I had decided to finish off The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Absolutely Everything which is a very fun read and I think very apt at a crisis like this. I started it about 5 years ago when the now Bishop of Melbourne recommended it to me whilst I was visiting Walsingham.
Then I was diverted by a book entitled Worst Possible Scenario, a survival guide which I have no doubt read several times before.
In the end I settled on The Road To Oxania by Robert Byron. I remember he came up in a class discussion all the way back in 1996 in my Mongol and Central Asian history classes. A verse that I’d forgotten came back to my memory. By the Si-o-seh pol bridge in Isfahan, Iran, Byron wrote:
“The lights came out. A little breeze stirred, and for the first time in four months I felt a wind that had no chill in it. I smelt the spring, and the rising sap. One of those rare moments of absolute peace, when the body is loose, the mind asks no questions, and the world is a triumph, was mine.”
Byron was said to be the first real writer of travelogues; I do so hope he would consider myself a traveller when I go away rather than a tourist! The quote above is of when he set his eyes on Esfahan, the place I most want to visit in the whole world both in 1996 and in 2020.
Somehow from across the ages his quote spoke to me and I too look forward to a rare moment of peace and one for the first time since 2019 with no chill in the wind.
The link shows my top 100 places I’d most like to visit with many of them in the Middle-East and Central Asia. I must have been wistful earlier in the week and I managed to find the old Lonely Planet guide show to Central Asia which I’d been looking for for 20 years. If you have a spare 45 minutes then have a watch below.
It shows the sort of places I like to visit and pretty much how I get around. I would so love to visit Khiva and Bukhara and Samarqand and then go into the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. The travelogue below beautifully illustrates the incredible buildings and cultures of the cities, the problems with travelling but the rewards too. And how isolated but beautiful are those green mountain valleys? I remember eating a sheep that some Bedouin cooked for me, it wasn’t that dissimilar.
Several years ago I wrote my own travelogue, if you’re intensely bored or the weather isn’t as tempting as what Robert Byron and myself are going to enjoy then you might like this instead.
Alternatively, if you send me an email, I can send you a signed copy of any book for the usual retail price plus postage.