The Great Escape, October 2021

Nineteen months, March 2020 to October 2021: the longest time in our adult lives we had stayed in our own country. It wasn’t a bad life because we walked, cycled, played tennis, spent lots of time with grandchildren, gardened and even traveled within England – Norfolk, Northumberland, Isle of Wight. My cooking improved, I played […]

Expat Storm

It would be normal to think of the Scots as the second biggest nation in the British Isles with a population a little under five and a half million. But there is arguably a bigger tribe with a population over five and a half million, which is British expats. Expatriates are people with a country’s […]

The Golden Age of London, 1980-2020?

It’s a commonplace observation, revealed in numerous interviews and heartfelt observations expressed online, that a pandemic takes away the benefits and increases the costs and dangers of living in a city. According to surveys conducted for the London Assembly Housing Committee in August 2020 14% of the population of London wants to move out and […]

So – should we go to Mauritius?

. . . being the question one is most asked having been to Mauritius. It is usually the only question and is taken as pre-empting all others. We went to Mauritius for no reason. It wasn’t a lifetime ambition and it wasn’t on any kind of tick list for either of us. The question was […]

Raising Razed Cities

In recent years we seem to have developed a semi-conscious affinity with cities razed by war. We have been in Hiroshima and Dresden. We based a war memorial tour in Ieper/Ypres, obliterated by three years of siege as a “salient” on the Western Front. We were also in Oradour-sur-Glane, the village wiped out by the […]

O Canada

During September 2019 we were in many places and that included Jerusalem at the start of the month and Ottawa at the end. It would have been difficult to avoid the thought that these were opposite cities. From the Mount of Olives you can look down and across at Old Jerusalem, its walls and surroundings. […]

A Note on North American Beer

Back in the day, which in this case means when we lived in America in the mid-seventies, beer in North America meant stuff like Budweiser and Coors or, north of the border, Labatt’s. It was refreshing enough, served cold when you were thirsty, but if you closed your eyes while drinking it was fairly difficult […]

Two and a Half Journeys: the A-team in 2019

Apart from snapping the odd passing couple who want to be photographed together I haven’t taken photographs since 2004, but there are two much appreciated souvenir photos in my study. The one printed out shows the four Leamington granddaughters on the top of Pendle Hill. Sylvie, the youngest, is standing on the trig point, arms […]


“Ourness” Cultural sociologists devote considerable attention to “otherness” – the sense of being alien, different or excluded from the norm. “Country” and “countryside” both descend linguistically from the Latin equivalent of otherness. There is much less attention given to the sense of “ourness” which relates individuals to populations and places. What follows here are personal […]

Ten Thoughts on Tourism

(This was written in 2005 after a post-retirement round-the-world tour. It was published on the Social Affairs Unit website and I am dragging it out of the archive a) because I still believe what it says and b) because it was the high end of the spectrum in terms of favourable comments.) I have just […]

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