• Britain,  Travel

    Dartmoor National Park: Into the Wild Landscape of Devon

    A man with his riding crop sat astride a horse that trotted down the country roads and in his wake, a stream of cars crawled, waiting for the traffic in the opposite direction to ease before they could contemplate taking the jump and overtake the horse. Such are the sights that are common on the winding lanes and roads in the English countryside. It is remarkable by the very absence of any tooting of horns. You might waggle your head here, and remark in an offhand manner, tut, but it is the British politeness at work here. Or, it could be the rigorous driving tests that have felled many an…

  • Britain,  Travel

    How To Turn One of Britain’s Best Walks Into An Adventure

    I sat at my writing desk yesterday, staring at the snow gathering fast and thick before the eyes, coating the world outside with a thick layer of icing, rather assiduously. But I found myself thinking of Malham Dales. We were there last year around this time. It is a powerful memory, the kinds that stick with every iota of detail lodged into the cells, for our walk there had gathered momentum, assumed a life of its own. Now, this is a walk that has recently been declared by ITV to be amongst the top three in its list of a hundred ‘rambles, scrambles and ambles’ in Britain and North Ireland.…

  • Britain

    The Zoo With the Story

    In the spring of 2013, we had spent a particularly quirky weekend in the West Country with friends. It was rounded off by drifting into Dartmoor National Park. Now if you are traversing the length and breadth of its vast moorlands, you know you have the Dartmoor Zoological Park at hand. A family-owned affair that was featured in the film, We Bought a Zoo. A zoo that was in a derelict state and its animals at threat of being put down when it was bought by a freelance journalist and his art editor wife. That was in 2006. Since then Benjamin Mee lives in the wildlife park with his two children…

  • Britain

    Mevagissey

    There is a small traditional fishing town in Cornwall called Mevagissey. I don’t know why but my mind meanders into its narrow steep streets that wrap themselves around tiny old cottages of cob and slate, maybe because it is a lovely sunny day here, and the waters of the Hudson are that calming shade of cerulean that makes you think of all things sprightly. In Mevagissey, Adi and I met a pasty lover. An English Cocker Spaniel who after bathing in the waters on a bright spring day filled with sunshine had pattered in with a pasty in his mouth, looking quite so solemn. He brought humour to that musty…

  • Britain

    End of the AGA Saga

    On Sunday afternoons, Mrs Thurlow used to read the newspapers she would collect carefully over the week. It was her way of living other lives. She of the ‘flat heavy feet pounding painfully along under mud-stained skirts, her face and body ugly with lumpy angles of bone’, so much so that she is likened to a ‘beast of burden’ by the writer H.E. Bates in his short story ‘The Ox’. Like Mrs Thurlow, we live other lives and our collective imagination, I would think, goes into a tizzy when we read our instalment of news. Mine is at the end of every day, when I am tucked into the duvet,…

  • Britain

    Chasing Pasties and Pubs in Looe

    During an Easter break in 2015, we arrived at a Victorian cottage called Sunnybank, positioned high above the village of Looe, upon a hilly road. It was in the late hours of  night when we reached it and yet we were stumped by the quaint prettiness of the village strung together by festive fairy lights, the sound of the sea in the backdrop crashing against the rocks and emphasising upon the solitude of our cottage. In the morning, we found the windows of the living room opening out to views of the sea one side, and on the other, rows of cottages clinging to the sides of cliffs in a higgledy-piggledy…

  • Britain

    To Daphne's Fowey

    The Cornish landscape in my mind is branded with swashbuckling smugglers, hidden coves, stormy seas and vast swathes of moors, ever since I got sucked into the vortex of Daphne du Maurier’s world. How tales of smuggling fill the imagination with romantic connotations. Time has a habit of standing still in England’s south western county of Cornwall. The towns and villages retain a vibe of simplicity. This is how it must have been in the old days, you think, as you hear stories of fishing and smuggling that go hand in hand with the narrow, cobbled lanes of these hilly outposts of the Cornish southeast quarter. Yet the picture was…

  • Britain

    Northampton in Fragments

    The lingering smell of must has to be one of the most ghastly smells out there. I could make a list of the ones that get my goat but here’s one that aces the list. Since morning I have been trying to rid my hands of the must from a malodorous dish scrubber – with generous dabs of lavender soap and cream – yet the whiff of it. As Italians sum up such emotional situations in two voluble words, mamma mia… enough of my diatribes, I should get on with collecting my thoughts and putting them down here before the must of time takes over them. Like that cold and…

  • Britain,  North America

    These Autumnal Days of Sudden Beauty

    It has been a warm September. Every time that I walked to the nearest stores, which are admittedly 10 blocks away, I felt my pores opening up to the heat, trickles of perspiration coursing down the back. But yesterday, unexpectedly, there was a nip in the air. A beautiful evening had finally arrived. All I could do was bask in its breezy charm, let the breeze ruffle my hair and alongside rush through the rows of trees towering over me as it spoke to my senses in some strange tongue. Psithurism. Sonic and haunting. If there is heaven, it is to be found in the music of nature. In the…

  • Britain

    The Sleat

    Skuyö. A word that the Vikings bequeathed upon Skye as the ‘isle of clouds’. Wreathed in mist. Mystical. The Vikings must have been enchanted by it, you would think, when they invaded it towards the end of the 8th century. On that isle of black and red Munros, jagged and gentle in parts, rising out of the land itself, an ancient land mired in bog and peat where purple heather thrives and turquoise fairy pools abound, the mist moves in fast. Even as you are exposed to the relentlessness of nature, under leaden skies when mist wraps itself around the peaks and hovers above the lochs, it is easy to be whisked…