Pumpkin Party

Pumpkin Party

A happy Hallowe’en Eve to all (or is that a “Hallowe’en’en”?)

More than any other holiday in the year, this is the one that reminds me most of being a kid. Sticking your hand into the cold, stinking innards of a freshly-opened pumpkin. Fake-blood caking on your skin. Toffee that required a half hour’s chewing. Being a kid was a bloody nightmare.

These pumpkins were photographed one year ago now, virtually to the day. This bazaar in Fergana, Uzbekistan, was piled high with dried figs and apricots, naan breads and lambs’ legs, and squashes of every shape and size.

This selection have had the rinds sliced open to expose the bright fruit inside – they’re fresh, orange, and just about ready to go – all they really need is to be hollowed and carved into gruesome faces, obviously.

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The final leg!

There comes a time in every journey when the gravitational pull of home takes over – psychologically as much as geographically, you’re closer than ever to completing your quest, and getting closer by the second.

That’s where things are with my wee little travelogue project – I’m now writing the very final paragraphs in A Eurasian Diary, with just 2,000 words to go till the whole first draft is done and dusted…! Wowsers. Should I be ecstatic or misty-eyed?

Whether with actual travel or with a big writing project, both emotions seem to apply. There’s sadness that your stream of discovery is drawing to a close, and that your daily triumphs in conquering the terrifying unknown (a.k.a. unwritten pages) are soon to be all completed. But, there’s also more than a bit of pride in having survived the quest you set out for yourself, and you can now indulge in some wonderful, well-earned comforts: spare time, and fantastic memories. Plus, once you’re done, you know you’re even better equipped now to go and do it again.

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Otherworldly Dali

Otherworldly Dali

O.K., so there are no melting clocks or elephants on stilts, but we aren’t talking that kind of Dali.

The beautiful town of Dali, Yunnan Province, seemed designed for contemplation – a series of brooks, originating in the nearby Cang Shan mountains, meander through the town’s purpose-built, terraced creek beds, burbling over stones, arriving at ornamental ponds, and then flowing onward to the town’s centre.

There, you find a satisfying hybrid of symmetry and chance – four interconnecting square ponds flank the four corners of a large, central gateway, all of it anchoring a larger square of pathways and pavilions, everything equidistant and precise.

Between the carefully balanced features, large trees and water plants sprout haphazardly, like an organic tide on the cusp of rending the design back to rubble. This was nature wrapped around reason.

Crossing the Saskatchewan

Crossing the Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan isn’t in Eurasia, not is it particularly famous for its towering mountains. So, what on earth is this picture all about?

The source of the Saskatchewan River in the Canadian Rockies is simply too gorgeous a spot to keep off this little blog – however badly it messes up my tagging system.

We traipsed from Jasper to Banff last month in a memorable trip home that included all manner of wildlife – woodpeckers, picas, chubby old chipmunks, elks, one black bear, and mosquitoes that could actually lift me into the sky.

We returned to London invigorated by the space and the scenery, and happy memories of stepping stones – for all the wobbled crossings we made, nary a toe was misplaced!