Faces of India

It would have been nice to have had a day or two at each stop to just wander off by myself with my camera looking for interesting this to photograph. I do enjoy a good urban stroll, losing myself in backstreets and stumbling across treasures the usually remain hidden from the normal tourist gaggles. But we didn’t have the time for such luxuries. Mrs P would also have been most displeased if I had abandoned her to her own devices. Continue reading “Faces of India”

The Indian Verdict

I described India a couple of weeks ago as challenging. And suggested that such a description is polite. I don’t think many people who have been to India would consider such a description to be controversial. India is challenging, on so many levels. Your senses will be assaulted. Your ears through the constant, deafening noise. Your nose and lungs through the often Continue reading “The Indian Verdict”

Udaipur

A whirlwind two week tour sounds like a great idea when you plan it. Heck, it is a great idea. You’ve got to factor a few easy days into the planning, though. One needs a little rest and recuperation on one’s holiday. And that especially applies to the final stretch. By the time we got to Udaipur, we were beginning to flag. Frankly, the same applies Continue reading “Udaipur”

Jaipur

By the time we arrived in Jaipur, we’d learned how to do India. Make sure you’ve got a nice hotel as a sanctuary from the rougher edges of Indian life. And arrange the easiest, most comfortable transport to get to where you want to go. Attempt to block out everything in between. Alas, our ‘hotel’ in Jaipur was the worst of our trip. But it was bearable, and there was a nice roof top restaurant just round the corner that we made good use of for breakfast and dinner. Continue reading “Jaipur”

An Indian Odyssey

We’ve been back from our trip to India for more than a week. Seven days to gather my thoughts and put them into appropriately organised bits and bytes on my blog for you to read. But where does one even begin? India is a truly extraordinary place. Specifically, Delhi. Agra, Ranthambore, Jaipur and Udaipur – the destinations we visited. Words cannot do them justice. But I will try. Perhaps a little brainstorming would help, to try and come up with the right adjectives?

Continue reading “An Indian Odyssey”

Opening Up India

I’ve been lucky on my travels so far in life. I’ve never had a holiday from hell. I’ve met a few people who have, and more than one has come from India. Most of them seem to involve the vacationers digestive system. But the saddest horror story I’ve heard of happened about three years ago. I used to chat to a Portuguese lady employed as a cleaner at the insurance company I worked for prior to jumping aboard the Continue reading “Opening Up India”

The Alt-Vacation

It would be lovely to be able to jet off to Mexico City for short breaks on a regular basis. Alas, it’s too far and fares too expensive for that to be feasible. The next best thing? For those of us who call Bournemouth home, it’s Andalucia. Specifically, Malaga. A place Picasso once called home. With return flights between Continue reading “The Alt-Vacation”

Escape In New York City

Throwback Thursday is an Instagram/Facebook gimmick. But it’s also a great exercise in scheduled nostalgia. An excuse to look back on photos taken years before and revisit what almost seems like a former life. This week, I went right back in my digital photo archive. Almost to the beginning. Sometime in August 2003, on the New York Continue reading “Escape In New York City”

To Search For A Myth

To go to Inverness and not search for the most famous aquatic monster on earth would be lunacy. To expect to find it would be equally mad. But one can enjoy the boat ride up Loch Ness, peer into the deep black water just in case, but otherwise enjoy the fresh air and the scenery. April in the Scottish Highlands is bright and bearable, but expect stiff winds and sudden chills. On a boat, expect those to be amplified. Wrap up warm. We did. Continue reading “To Search For A Myth”

Spit and Sawdust

If you are hoping for a tale of drinking and debauchery in a traditional olde worlde pub, then I am going to disappoint you. Wrong type of spit and sawdust establishment. Instead, let me introduce you to a world that is altogether crazier that anything the depraved mind of the village alcoholic could ever dream up. The spit is Mudeford. The sawdust represents the wooden huts that have been stacked up along the sandy stretch of beach. The madness is the price that some people are prepared to fork out for one of these ramshackle buildings, which are only ever one big storm away from turning in a new British Atlantis.

When working out what sort of value for money these huts represent, I had a look at what you’d need to pay out for a property in the most expensive cities on plant earth.  Just to give these huts a little perspective. At about £16,000 per square metre for a piece of Mudeford real estate, only Monaco appears to be more expensive. Given that they have no running water, nor any electricity (unless the owner has fitted some solar panels) they are even worse value when you consider that you wouldn’t use them all year round.

Great American Railway Journeys

I’ve been on a few scenic railway journeys in my life. I have done one of the greatest train journeys of them all in fact. Back in 2003 I boarded El Chepe at Los Mochis. The very name Los Mochis sounds like some sort of sizzling hell hole from a Star Wars movie, inhabited by bandits and home to all sorts of illegal trades and generally skullduggery. And, quite frankly, it is as bad it sounds, or at least my experience of it was. The train ride to Creel, though, was magnificent. I’ve written about this before, more than once.

In a couple of months I have another  great railway journey lined up. It’s a very special trip on a special train that will travel along tracks through countryside that has been made famous in all sorts of movies. It’s often voted as the greatest railway journey in the world. I’ll have to wait and see if there is any truth to that. Hopefully there will be more fabulous railway trips over the coming years. One of the big benefits of my job are the travel benefits afforded not only to myself, but Mrs P too. We get free use on the network I work for, and a 75% discount on the rest of the national network. In August, once I’ve completed a full year of service, those benefits will extend across Europe.

I’ve always liked rail journeys. Even other people’s rail journeys. There’s a programme I watch regularly that reminds me of life in Mexico City. Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys. He used his early 20th century Bradshaws guide to tour the UK on the train. I spent many hours on the metro or in cafes watching his television series. And now I can recreate them for myself. He’s also done a series on European travel. But now he is back with yet another series. If you haven’t yet guessed where, then you didn’t read the title of this post very carefully. Perhaps you’d like to join him on his trip? Someone has kindly, and probably rather illegally, uploaded the series onto YouTube. Enjoy it while it lasts. 


The Commute

The mass commute must be a relatively modern creation. I suspect that few people will refer to its invention in the same breath as sliced bread or the wheel. By all accounts, most people seem to loathe their daily commute. But not me. I love my commute. I always have done, whether I was living in London or Mexico Ciy or here in Bournemouth. It’s a bit of me time.

These days I have a fairly varied commute. One of the joys of being a relief clerk, is that my place of work can change on a daily basis. The times change too. Sometimes I need to drive to work, setting out from home at 5am. The streets are all mine, other than the occasional fox slinking from driveway to driveway in urban areas.

Once I hit the countryside, I am more likely to see deer or rabbits grazing at the roadside. Some of them get closer to the roadside than is wise, and they become road rugs, until they are eventually squished into oblivion over a period of days or weeks. This is the only form I’ve seen a badger. Which is a shame.

Most of the time, though, I take the train to work. I might turn east out of my home station and travel into the heart of the New Forest. More usually I turn west, into deepest, darkest Dorset. Let’s take that journey today. Through picturesque woodlands, well groomed farmlands, past one of the worlds largest natural harbours, across flooded plains and the rivers responsible for all that excess water.

From my little office on the train, from where I write this very post, I can gaze out at the scenery. It changes every day. Today the sun is up and the sky is blue, but the grass and hedgerows are still glistening white from last nights heavy frost. The smooth undisturbed waters of the bay have a surreal glow in the early morning sun.  Trees and pylons cast long, monstrous shadows across wild, untended heathland.

The train stops nine times along the way. But today I am on board for the full duration. My final destination , an hour after I set out, will be in a seaside town which gained temporary fame as the home of sailing in the 2012 Olympics. Locally, the place has become more famous, infamous even, for crime.

If the prowling chavs don’t manage to slip your lunch money out of your back pocket for their heroin fix, then a seagull will rob you of your lunch. British seagulls are big ballsy birds and will have your fish n chips away from your grasp in an instant.