Monday 29 February 2016

Around the world in two months.

One of the few good things about February,
 which never fails to cheer me.
The first two months of the year are already past but in those two months I have visited India, Chile, Australia (twice), USA, (twice) France, Italy and embarked on a voyage to three countries in East Africa: Kenya; Tanzania and Zimbabwe, interspersed with four short stays back in UK. I've also managed some time travel - pretty impressive for an outlay of  less than £20.00.

Of course this was literary travel and even for the full price of twelve books it would still have been a bargain, but I bought only two at the full price. One was a gift, a couple were from the library, one was borrowed, another was a prize and the others were bought secondhand!

January and February are my least favourite months, with their cold dark days so to escape them I travel. Some years I actually board a plane to fly to sunnier places. Last year I enjoyed the experience of Laos and Cambodia during February. This year, so far, I've had to make do with daffodils and literary travel but what travels they were!

I have met a Mormon family in the throes of grief, an American woman researching her family history in France with some time travel back the the seventeenth century, visited a sleepy mid-west American town, uncovered the tragic events in a sleepy East Anglian village of the eve of the second world war, taken sides with a custody battle in India, been scared by unstable politics and organised crime in Chile and met a professor with Asperger's. I also met some awful people I hope never to encounter again at a barbecue, played with a couple of youngsters in the carefree days of the 30s in south Wales and observed a man trying to come to terms with the death of his mother when he was a child.

While these were all fiction I have also read an account of travels in colonial East Africa and lastly the heartbreaking autobiography of a hugely talented neurosurgeon who died at the age of 37 from lung cancer.

Curiously, these last two very different books both mentioned an exploit which one would not encounter in many thousand books, namely the Dreadnought Hoax, when Virginia Woolf and her cronies dressed up as the Emperor of Abyssinia and his entourage and boarded the pride of the British Navy's battleship, HMS Dreadnought, and were received with much ado and gracious hospitality. I love it when these coincidences occur in my reading - or are they coincidence? What guided my choice of these two books one after the other?

I'm now deciding which books to take with my next real travels (which are costing a lot more than £20.00).