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Political Origins of the Silk Road

The Silk Road may be associated with trade but its origins are also associated with the building of the Great Wall of China by the Qin Emperor Shi Huangdi in 241BC. And that had a lot to do with politics. China was a pastoral society that was constantly threatened by...

Where to go next?

What do Barcelona, Venice, Isle of Skye, Dubrovnik, Santorini, Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu and Galapagos have in common? They have all just been named by CNN as places not to visit in 2018 because they are overrun with tourists. (I should add however that according to The...

The Silk Road; an overview

Overview of the Silk Road The term Silk Road, a term not coined until the late 19th century by German nobleman, Baron Richthofen, refers to an artery of trade routes that began in China and ended in Europe. Never a single route, its multiple strands had several end...

The Connecticut Blanket

Country Vignettes  On a recent visit to Connecticut we stayed with my friend Kristin, who has both a beautiful house and impeccable taste. On our bed was a fabulous woolen blanket which we complimented her on, at which point she told us it was made locally and were we...
Political Origins of the Silk Road

Political Origins of the Silk Road

The Silk Road may be associated with trade but its origins are also associated with the building of the Great Wall of China by the Qin Emperor Shi Huangdi in 241BC. And that had a lot to do with politics. China was a pastoral society that was constantly threatened by...

Where to go next?

Where to go next?

What do Barcelona, Venice, Isle of Skye, Dubrovnik, Santorini, Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu and Galapagos have in common? They have all just been named by CNN as places not to visit in 2018 because they are overrun with tourists. (I should add however that according to The...

The Silk Road; an overview

The Silk Road; an overview

Overview of the Silk Road The term Silk Road, a term not coined until the late 19th century by German nobleman, Baron Richthofen, refers to an artery of trade routes that began in China and ended in Europe. Never a single route, its multiple strands had several end...

The Connecticut Blanket

Country Vignettes  On a recent visit to Connecticut we stayed with my friend Kristin, who has both a beautiful house and impeccable taste. On our bed was a fabulous woolen blanket which we complimented her on, at which point she told us it was made locally and were we...

The Java Effect in Yemen

The Java Effect in Yemen

Called the 'Hope of Hadhramut', Tarim is a small town dating back to the Sabaean period although for centuries it has been - and still is - a center of orthodox Islamic teaching, based perhaps on the arrival in the early 12th century of the Alawi family...

Manhattan of the Desert

Manhattan of the Desert

"....the town of Shibam offers a curious appearance as one approaches; above its mud brick walls, with bastions and watch towers, appear the tall houses of the wealthy, white-washed only at the top, which makes it look like a large round cake with star on it." Thus...

Monks and Cannes

Monks and Cannes

Monks and Cannes are not instinctively two words you imagine using in the same sentence. But just half a mile off the coast off Cannes is the Abbaye de Lérins, a small monastery of Cistercian monks on Île St. Honorat, one of two main islands that make up the Îles de...

The Closes of Auld Reekie

The Closes of Auld Reekie

Auld Reekie - 'Old Smelly' or 'Old Smoke' seems like an odd nickname for a city that is also known as the Athens of the North. Now used affectionately, it was once an accurate moniker which referred to the smells that emanated from the filthy streets of the old city,...

The Highland Cow

The Highland Cow

I have always liked highland cows, Scotland's answer to the giant panda. The hefty, docile beasts don't have to do anything to delight us, they are instantly adorable by their rotund shaggy selves and their long bangs. Am I envious of those bangs! Hieland coos spend...