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Showing posts from July, 2013

Mr. B’s Reading Year No. 2: The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron (1937)

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Bruce Chatwin writes the introduction to this travel book, marking this book, written in 1933, as perhaps the best written travel book ever and bemoaning the loss of so many sights, smells and experiences to history.   Starting in Venice, this is the description of Byron’s journey to Oxiana, land of the River Oxus on the border between Afghanistan and Russia, with much time in Persia, today’s Iran.  He makes it on to India and ends back at home in Savernake, near where I went to school, where he cryptically hands his notes to his mother to see what she makes of it – yes, it was published!  What a joy this book is to read.  What writing!  His particular interest is in the ancient architecture of the lands he travels through.  Towers, tombs, triumphal arches, even old cities, as well as mosques and mausoleums are brought to life, some over 1000 years old.  Along the way, the vistas and people he meets and how they live are wonderfully described.  This must have been a tough trip to make…

Turkey 2013: EWRS conference, Samsun, the Datca Peninsular and Istanbul

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I fear our carbon footprint is growing. This trip, part work and part holiday, took eight flights to complete, but allowed us to see several parts of this diverse and fascinating country.  First up, was getting to Samsun, a city we will hear more of in the future on the northern Black Sea coast.  This was the venue for the 16th European Weed Research Society Symposium at the Ondokuz Mayýs University.  Leaving Bristol early at 06:00 we passed through Amsterdam and Istanbul Atatürk (KLM, then Turkish Airlines) before being picked up with others for our hotel, arriving at 22:30 local time.  Do-Soon Kim from Seoul and Per Kudsk from Denmark were at Istanbul, both editors for Weed Research.  We were up early on Sunday morning as I was teaching a course from 09:00 to 17:00 on “How to write a paper for an international scientific Journal” ahead of the conference.  I had a good group of attendees from 11 countries and it was a successful interactive day.  That was followed by an Editorial Boa…

Mr. B’s Reading Year No. 1: Fire Season by Philip Connors (2011)

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Hilary gave me this great present last year – 11 books through the year selected by Mr. B’s wonderful and award-winning bookshop in Bath - but I only started getting the books towards the end of 2012.  First book up, Fire Season by Philip Connors, is this fascinating description of times in the Gila National Forest on the Texas-Mexico border as a fire-watcher.  This is a no-road wilderness, something we can only dream of in the UK.  There are lyrical passages of life alone in the high mountains with Alice, his faithful dog, over the summers.  The characters he meets, the fire teams and some passing through on the long-distance hiking trail, are interesting and varied.  There is romance, with his wife, Martha, how they met and increasing tension as to how they can carry on living apart over the summers.  The unanswered question is will he have to return to the Wall Street Journal after ten years and do a “real” job again. Philip Connors has a great feel for nature and ecology and bring…