Harmony and Discord in Africa – Memories of Childhood in Southern Rhodesia by Mark Huleatt-James

Harmony and Discord in Africa by Mark Huleatt-James

Harmony and Discord in Africa by Mark Huleatt-James

This is about a time and a childhood place not far from my own.

Harmony and Discord in Africa, despite its title, is not a political book but rather a slice of ‘home history’ about a boy, his family and their life on a farm in the young British colony of Southern Rhodesia .

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Travels in a Dervish Cloak by Isambard Wilkinson

Travels in a Dervish Coat by Isambard Wilkinson

Travels in a Dervish Coat by Isambard Wilkinson

Here’s a book to pop your eyes. Cloaked in dust and petals it swirls through bedrooms, bazaars, bombings, palaces, shrines, caves and festivals. The pace is insistent and the tensions increasing.

Our guide is journalist Isambard Wilkinson. He takes us to Pakistan (2006 – 2009) and entices us to follow him from Baluchistan to the Khyber Pass, via a couple of pauses for kidney complications.

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Chernobyl Prayer – A Chronicle of the Future by Svetlana Alexievich

Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich (Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature)

Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich (Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature)

I was at St Andrews University in Scotland, when the accident happened … “the gravest technological catastrophe of the twentieth century.” It was 26 April, 1986.

Reactor No.4 of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Belarus collapsed.

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Beautiful but exhausted – the little lodge on the lake in Bacoli, by Naples, Italy

We visited this little lodge last August, towards the end of our two years near Naples, Italy. It was evening when we arrived. The heat had gone, the light bounced off the lake, and wedding parties posed on the bridge.

The Phraser

La Casina Vanvitelliana in Lago Fusaro, Campania, Italy La Casina Vanvitelliana in Lago Fusaro, Campania, Italy

If I had the money to save a building of all those that I have seen this is the one that I would save.

We saw it for the first time this summer – small, elegant, corroded and propped up; its perfect proportions reflected in the blue green lake as the sun went down.

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Sidmouth FolkWeek – sun, rain, sea and song

Sidmouth, Devon, England

Sidmouth, Devon, England

Happiness … a folk festival set in a patchwork bowl beside the sea.

Early August means FolkWeek when Sidmouth, in Devon, ties bells below her knees, plumps her seafront with craft stalls, and flies a few tunes up her hillsides.

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A thought on Liverpool as it catches Unesco’s eye

The docks in Liverpool, England

The docks in Liverpool, England

My first real visit to Liverpool was on foot this summer.  I didn’t walk all the way but I did do five miles through the outskirts to the cathedral as part of a fundraising walk on a hot, sunny Sunday.

It was only afterwards that I learned about the tension – that the city’s world heritage status was on the gangplank, and that Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) was about to decide whether or not to give Liverpool the final shove.

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Book review: Wild is Life – Reaching out (by Sally Carney)

Wild is Life by Sally Carney

Front cover of Wild is Life by Sally Carney

Wild is Life – Reaching Out is about an animal sanctuary that has grown out of the turmoil that swept through Zimbabwe a few years before the millennium.

It is an inspiring, intimate photographic record of a home-made haven that started small – mongoose size – and then stretched. By the end of the book it is giraffe high … and the elephants have come.

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