Storyworth 2 – A Weekend With A Ukrainian Family


My best Christmas present of 2021 was a subscription to Storyworth from my son & daughter. It required me to write a prescribed essay weekly for one year, at the end of which they will be published in book form. This is the second essay. In the 1960s, I spent four years in Kharkov in…

Storyworth 1 – My First Job


My best Christmas present of 2021 was a subscription to Storyworth from my son & daughter. It required me to write a prescribed essay weekly for one year, at the end of which they will be published in book form. This is the first essay. It was the summer of 1974. I was in my…

Christmas 2021


It was the second Covid Christmas. Omicron was rampant. A trip to London to spend Christmas with the children was not possible. It was another ‘home alone’ Christmas. Harrogate was dull and miserable but Knaresborough glittered with Christmas lights. From the castle ruins on top of the hill, the Nidd looked pretty. Passers-by said “Merry…

Travels In China – 10: The Hanging Temple


The jaw- dropping Hanging Temple of China is one of the world’s forgotten wonders     The Hanging Temple clings to the side of the mountain in apparent defiance of gravity. Its forty odd rooms and a maze of passageways contain seventy eight religious statues and carvings made of copper, iron, terracotta, and stone. The temple…

Travels In China – 9: The Yungang Grottoes


  Buddhism reached China along the Silk Route during the Han Dynasty in the first century AD. The establishment of Buddhism in China is evident in the many scripture-filled caves and structures surviving from this period. The Mogao Caves near Dunhuang in Gansu province, the Longmen Grottoes near Luoyang in Henan and the Yungang Grottoes…

Travels In China – 8: Road To Datong


    The main reason for going to Datong in northern China is to visit its most famous sight – the Yungang Grottoes. The 53 main caves there contain over 51,000 intricate, ancient Buddhist statues. It takes six and a half hours to get to Datong from Beijing by train. Datong is the former western…

Travels In China -7: Temple Of Heaven


Worshipping Heaven instead of a God may seem strange. But in ancient China, the Zhou Dynasty which reigned between 1050-256 BC, initiated a new social order and religious system, centred around a supreme sky god Tiān (天), a “deity who rules Heaven and Earth.” Under this system, Heaven Worship became a state religion and Tian was considered responsible…

Travels In China – 6: The Summer Palace Of Qing Emperors


Situated just 15 km from Beijing, the 270 year-old Summer Palace of the Qing emperors is the largest and most well preserved royal garden in China. Its 290 ha contain a lake and a hill incorporating the Fengshui notion of ‘Mountain’ and ‘Water’ and over 3000 pavilions, towers, bridges and corridors     When the Palace…

24 Hours In Belgrade


  The two nights in Belgrade was at the tail-end of the Balkan summer holiday. Two weeks in Montenegro went quickly, Croatia was only a brief visit and the day on the Bar to Belgrade railway was remarkable. It was my first time in the Bosnian capital. The rented apartment was in a leafy suburb.…

Bar To Belgrade – The Ultimate Balkan Train Journey


“Call me Strawberry” the woman in the cafe said. She piled my plate high with sausages and beans and smiled sweetly     We were having an early breakfast at the cafe in front of the railway station in Bar before catching the morning train to Belgrade. I took a sip of thick black coffee…