11 December 2009

Philanthro Possibilities and Publishing

I hope one day to publish a book about my experiences of philanthropy, social enterprise, good governance, friendliness, living, researching and travelling.  I plan to use any proceeds from my book towards keeping up the momentum of shared possibilities.

If you would like to order a copy of my book in advance, just send an email with a request.

writetovia (AT) gmail . com

How would you like the book to be formatted?  How serious or light-hearted would you like it to be?  How much would you be willing to pay?  What do you hope to learn from my book? 

23 November 2009

Sacred Mountains

A common feature of human cultures is the association between mountains and spirituality. I am not a mountaineer and have no desire at all to climb the world's highest physical peaks, though spiritual peaks are often worth contemplating.

Today, I have added a few more photographs to my Ancestors Within blog. My family photographs have special significance to me though I am not yet sure if there is a spiritual aspect to the reverence I show towards those faces from the past.

In September, I went on a sort of pilgrimage with my husband, to the southern Italian birthplace of some of his ancestors. It was to the "village of the harp", Viggiano in Basilicata. The above picture is of a keystone above a doorway in the village. Perhaps keystones and harps have a spiritual element to them, like mountains.

Before leaving Viggiano, we somehow found ourselves climbing its sacred mountain. We had not intended doing so and it was quite amazing to experience being there. I usually avoid uphill walks!

All we really wanted to do was find out more about the pilgrimage route that brings thousands of people in May and September to Viggiano to venerate the "miraculous" statue of the Virgin and Child. There were very few people around when we made our climb.  They had all been there the day before.

Perhaps much of the spiritual association with mountains has to do with their role in the fertility of valleys. Here is a view overlooking the roof tops of Viggiano, down towards the Val d'Agri. I wonder if the word "agriculture" comes from the name of the river Agri. The area was farmed by the Romans, and before them by Ancient Greek colonists.

The green of the valley, and its agricultural productivity, were evident from our journeys through it. Oil has been found there, too, in recent years, bringing industrial prosperity to the once impoverished region. The valley also has a high risk of earthquakes but fortunately none happened during our visit.

03 November 2009

Onwards and Upwards

My off-line writings are keeping me occupied at present. I am trying to document the findings of my recent travels, and all the research I did along the way.  And I'm still attempting to make sense of it all.  Are you going onwards and upwards yourself?

15 October 2009

On the Go

You may have gathered, from the gaps in blog posts, that I have been otherwise engaged in recent weeks. In fact I've been half way around the planet and back again, with some interesting explorations along the way.   I've been accumulating information while travelling and now need to write it all down (in my private journal and in book form).

02 August 2009

Welcome Aboard the Fair Ship Social Enterprise

Here is your ticket to go boldly in the name of fairness. Please mind your head when embarking and disembarking.

You are entitled to the full freedom of the ship though you are reminded not to stray too far to the left or right as you may fall overboard.

Your ticket entitles you to take a very special excursion where you might guide your very own ship, or at least a rented rowing boat. The price on your ticket will indicate which of these is within your financial means.

I hope you will enjoy the trip...

Setting off on your way

What does social enterprise mean to you? Today, I hope to develop this blog post in my few spare moments so that you may gain some understanding of what it means to me.

Social enterprise is all about meeting needs fairly, in a mutually beneficial manner. The main barriers to success as a social entrepreneur are not lack of funds but lack of knowledge and lack of social fairness. Social unfairness, at least in its public form, is also known as corruption.

Social enterprises can be run as simple one-person operations or as larger, co-ordinated concerns.  

How prevalent is social enterprise where you live? What are the barriers to its further implementation? Do you believe the needs of both the customer and the business person are worthy of consideration?

Fair (Fare) negotiations

I took a beautiful rickshaw journey with the assistance of a business person who took me around the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in India in 1985. The business person, who might also have been described as the cyclist or rickshaw driver, depending on your point of view, required that I negotiated the fare to reach a mutual agreement.

I was prepared to decide what the journey was worth to me with a courteous person who had a knowledge of birds and spoke good English. The business person was prepared to accept my ability to pay what he perceived as a fair price.

I did not see many birds but it was lovely to be out in the Indian countryside away from motorized transport, for the price of a few rupees.

The bird sanctuary is now called the Keoladeo National Park. You might like to visit a Wikipedia page about it here.

I see social enterprise as being an appropriate way to achieve affluence, without oppression.

18 July 2009

Successful Journeys

Was I successful when I found a coconut in 1989?

Do you think I am seeking good fortune or success in my current quest?

What is the goal I am currently seeking?

Is it your goal too?

11 July 2009

Many New Beginnings

Travelling usually requires a break of routine.  Does healthy travel also require the breaking of bad habits?  Is a good habit a useful new beginning?

09 July 2009

Travel Books

The shelves in my house contain several books that inspire me to learn more about the world before a journey. Here are some examples:

Art & Civilization by Edward Lucie-Smith

Published in 1992 by Prentice Hall, it is mainly about what has come to be termed "Western civilization", from the "uncivilized" societies of prehistory, to the formation of cities in the Near East and Egypt, and right up to the late 20th century. The book explores the development of ideas, beliefs, architecture, painting, sculpture, literature, drama and music.

The World Atlas of Food edited by Glorya Hale

Published in 1974 by Mitchell Beazley, this is more than just an excellent global guide to cooking, it also explores the origins of the foods we enjoy today. The book invites you to discover more about the development of food plants and cooking styles, how and where food plants are grown and how they can be prepared in a variety of ways. It is a book that never goes out of date, even though it is out of print.

From the Good Earth by Michael Ableman

Published in 1993 by Thames and Hudson, it is a beautiful photographic journey through the traditional organic agricultures of the world. The book also describes the histories, cultures and the individuals who today maintain those productive and healthy traditions.

Retreat by Roger Housden

Published in 1995 by HarperSanFrancisco, its subtitle is "Time Apart for Silence & Solitude". The book looks at how the tradition of temporary withdrawal from our usual social environment can provide a deeper sense of spiritual fulfillment, whatever style of retreat we choose to encounter.

Contemporary Cultural Anthropology by Michael C. Howard

My copy is the third edition, published by HarperCollins in 1989, though I often update my knowledge of the topic through the Internet. The book is intended for university students and explores the interrelationships within and between a wide range of societies, including how they communicate, meet their needs, produce goods, form families, develop traditions, form hierarchies, use power, enforce order, use religion, approach illness and health care, and deal with social problems.

Your local library or second-hand book shop might have copies of the above titles, or some like them. Do you have favourite books that have inspired your journeys?

08 July 2009

To the Market on Via's Magic Carpet

How many forms of transport have you experienced? Although I have never found a real magic carpet or flying horse, there are virtual versions in this blog, as well as a few introductions to various other interesting forms of transportation.

In Pakistan, in 1985, I enjoyed seeing the brightly coloured buses, trucks and auto-rickshaws. I especially enjoyed experiencing a few journeys in the latter in Quetta and Lahore. The owners certainly took pride in the appearance of their vehicles.

The little vehicle is called a variety of names throughout Asia, tuk-tuk being quite common, though I call it a toot toot. Tuk-tuks are often incredibly noisy things.  I found that even "proper" taxis can be noisy throughout the Middle East and Central Asia because the driver's hand is often on the horn.  Do you know if road manners have improved in your country over the years?

The One Thousand and One Nights of my Asian journeys have been matched by days in cycle rickshaws, on a camel, an elephant, bicycles, an old London double decker bus, trains, coaches, ferries, trams, horse drawn carriages and carts, dug out canoes, and many journeys on foot.  I have always written about my experience as real accounts rather than imaginary stories, although some imaginary stories have probably inspired my desire to travel.

All around the world, the place I enjoy exploring on foot the most is the local produce market. Here is a scene I found in Lahore in 1985.

How do you usually travel to a market?

06 July 2009

Imagine the Sound of One World

What is the music of your travels? What is the music of your heart?

As many people are mourning Michael Jackson, whose music never much appealed to me, I am reminded that the lyrics of his song Billy Jean confused me on my first independent explorations of the world. I associated the name of the song with a well-known tennis player.

My memory of the song is also linked to my time in Amsterdam, in 1983, where I went to a disco for the first time. I was with a group of people and we had just enjoyed an elaborate Indonesian rijsttafel banquet in a floating restaurant on one of the city's canals.

So there I was, a young English girl, listening to American pop music in a disco in the Netherlands after eating an Indonesian meal. The people in my group included an Indian, a Brazilian, a Canadian, a few Australians, some people from Hong Kong, some from Malaysia, and a tour guide from the United States.

The sound of (reflective) music

 I have never been much into nightclubs and do not even really enjoy being out after dark. I like it to be daylight when I listen to music. I like silence and a good book at night.

When I was a child, I liked The Sun Has Got His Hat On Hip Hip Hip Hooray. I found that uplifting when the sun peaked out from behind a cloud after so many grey and dreary school days.

I liked Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and The Teddy Bears' Picnic in early childhood. Now I lift my spirits by singing Chick Chick Chick Chick Chicken Lay A Little Egg for Me, based on the original 1920s recording.

Via the non-diva performs in opera houses

I can honestly say that I have sung at several of the world's most famous opera houses.  That is because I have made a habit of singing the chicken song quietly in the foyer whenever I have the opportunity to enter such a place.  I am sure anyone nearby must have thought me mad rather than musical.

In one of my earlier posts in this blog, I mentioned Mahler and Debussy (neither of whom wrote the chicken song). I am yet to mentioned much about the other composers who populate my blogger profile page.  Do we enjoy some of the same music now?

Sound in memories and imagination

The title of this blog post might make you think of a more recent composer, John Lennon, whose song Imagine is one of those reflective ones that have appealed to me in the past.  Unlike most pop songs it is not catchy enough to become rapidly annoying, unless played in an overly sentimental setting.

When I was in my late teens, I would borrow records from an aunt of mine. She is an artist and was a member of a folk club for most of the 1960s. I found it interesting to listen to the music on her records that I did not hear on the radio in my youth.

I think I might have heard her records in my early childhood as I developed a special attachment to two Donovan songs: Ballad of a Crystal Man and Sunny Goodge Street.

Ballad of a Crystal Man was, I think, in a film I remember seeing in my childhood. It was Brother Sun, Sister Moon about Francis of Assisi. It was directed by Franco Zeffirelli. Today it is easy to learn more about our own past cultural experiences, just by exploring online.

The sounds of innocence (and experience)

In the innocence of my youth, I would never have thought that some of Donovan's songs contained drug references, as in Sunny Goodge Street. In London in the mid 1980s, I worked at Channel Four Television, which was then based in Charlotte Street in the West End. Every day I would travel from Clapham Common to Goodge Street Tube Station. I remembered the tune but did not understand the lyrics.

When I was growing up, my father played blues guitar. The song he sang most was The House of The Rising Sun. No-one in my family had been to New Orleans. My father had a friend who played the banjo. His most frequent song was One Meat Ball Without the Gravy.

A voice (unimagined and/or unimaginable)

Do you sing? Although I sing the chicken song when I am in silly mood or in an opera house, I often attempt to sing opera arias in the shower and sometimes also while washing the dishes (in the kitchen not in the shower).

Perhaps my limited vocal talent is one of the reasons why my husband, the angel one, often does the washing up at weekends. He does not sing, except with a microphone as a backing vocalist.

I am married to an ex-rock drummer. He trained in classical and jazz percussion and began playing in bands semi-professionally at the age of 17. Fortunately, he was wise enough not to give up his day job. The angel one has never smoked cigarettes or used other drugs. He is not much into alcohol, either, except for a small glass of red wine with a plate of pasta.

He played in half a dozen bands in his teens and twenties. More recently, he played in a blues band (on backing vocals as well as drums) but left as he had concerns - as he did in previous bands - about the mental state and unhealthy activities of several of the other members.

Why do so many musicians harm themselves through substance abuse?

Compatible tastes

The angel one's taste in music is now, fortunately, similar to mine. In his youth, he was a fan of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, John McLaughlin, Miles Davis, Ravi Shankar, Billy Cobham, Charles Mingus, Jimmy Hendrix, Jeff Beck and other album artists. I can tolerate small doses of virtuosic electric or percussion music, as long as the volume is not too loud and it is early in the evening.

Songs I occasionally attempt to sing include Pace pace mio Dio from Verdi's La Forza del Destino, though I prefer the 1956 recording by Leyla Gencer. I also try Vissi d'arte from Puccini's Tosca, but that is probably best left to Maria Callas, as is the bolero from Verdi's I Vespri Siciliani, Mercè dilette amiche.

I sometimes attempt the two Queen of the Night arias, O zittre nicht and Der hölle rache, from Mozart's Magic Flute, but I was never meant to be a coloratura soprano.

What do you sing at home? What do you sing when you travel?

Travel tunes

The song that probably inspired me to travel was Mad Dogs and Englishmen by Noel Coward. It was the reason I asked for a globe for Christmas when I was about seven years old. I often had fun turning it to find places that seemed so far away. My parents later bought me the huge Times Atlas of the World. I still have it, too.

05 July 2009

Images of Beauty

The journeys we take as individual human beings can lead us to some extraordinarily beautiful places, relationships and ideas.

Here is a picture of one famous building I was fortunate enough to visit in my early twenties.

It was a quiet, cool November morning in Agra, and quite misty, too. I had a very kind and gentle rickshaw driver called Abdul who cycled me to the Taj Mahal before first light, and we arrived there shortly before the gates opened.

Once inside the garden, I was also fortunate enough to find someone who could take this photograph of me, sitting cross legged on a marble bench. I had no idea at the time that the Taj Mahal was a mausoleum. I thought it was a palace.

Our experiences of seeing the Taj Mahal, whether in real life or through images, are entirely personal. How I respond to seeing the above picture today is quite different from when the photograph was first printed.

Today, I see the Taj Mahal as a monument to all women and girls who have died or suffered serious injury as a consequence of pregnancy. Each one of those people would most likely have been cared for and, in the saddest of circumstances, mourned by someone, whether a friend, mother, sibling or spouse.

My own mother had a very difficult time giving birth to me, so I am very grateful for the medical care we both received as I came into the world.

04 July 2009

Somewhere to Sleep

Choosing somewhere to spend our unconscious hours can be one of the most difficult, expensive and stress-inducing aspects of planning a trip.

For people with a generous budget, there are often far too many choices. For people wishing to spend a modest amount, the challenge is to find somewhere safe, clean, quiet and convenient (though even five star hotels sometimes fail to match those requirements).

Here are some of the places I have found interesting to stay:

My first camping trip there was as a three-month old baby. It was where I spent many happy summers over the first twelve years of my life, even in wet and windy weather. There are a range of environments to explore, from long sandy beaches, a tidal estuary, smooth rocks and interesting rock pools, grassy fields, huge dunes, and a causeway cutting off the peninsula (it's not really an island). It is somewhere to live simply for a while. No need to wear shoes.

If you want to live comfortably in the Australian desert, try an underground hotel or motel room carved out of rock. You can enjoy an interesting ceiling with no noisy neighbours above you. The more expensive options might seem more like a Las Vegas casino with poker machines and no escape from muzak.

Although I speak no Japanese, and my hosts spoke no English, I think a ryokan in Japan is the best way to experience the culture of the country: Great traditional breakfasts, green tea on arrival, futons on the floor (mine was a comfortable foam version), private garden views, private Japanese style bath, electric toilet. All for just a small difference in price between that and a western style hotel. Remember to leave your shoes at reception.

What and where are your favourite accommodation spots in the world?

03 July 2009

Objects of Times Past

Here is a picture of the Egyptian predecessor of a phrasebook, the Rosetta Stone from 196 BC (though the photograph is more recent, of course).  We can often look at important objects such as this in museums.

Here is the Wikipedia article on the Rosetta Stone.  That is where I found the picture.  How much of your travel time is spent in museums? Is it time well spent?

Can you decipher the objects you see in museums?  Are virtual online tours beforehand a good preparation for a visit?  Which is your favourite museum, and why?

02 July 2009

The Adventure of Awareness

There are many natural wonders in the world and I have been fortunate enough to experience quite a few of them.

Here is the beautiful Perito Moreno Glacier in southern Argentina. It was very big and blue and made squeaking noises when I was there in 1987. Apparently, it is even bigger now than it was then.

If you look closely at the bottom of the photograph, you will see small figures standing just above the lake.  I was not prepared to go down there. People have been known to be washed into the freezing water when bits of the glacier fall off.

What are your favourite natural wonders? How many more are you yet to discover and experience? Which emotions do you mostly feel when you think of wonderment?

29 June 2009


As the end of another month approaches, and we also reach the middle of another year, it may be a good time to reflect upon the purpose of your journeys, whether continual or continuous.  Do you have a quest to fulfill?

Have you been able to identify the purpose of my own quest? What do I seek? Do you think I will find it? Would you like to join me along the way?

How far will I need to go from the town of Dorothea? Will I become homesick?  Are you aware of my Dorothea inspirations and what they mean?

My Country

What does home mean to you?  What is your purpose?  What is your quest?

28 June 2009

Via's Quest

Have you ever travelled on a quest?  Would you like to join me on one?

The journey is inexpensive but the visa is usually difficult to obtain.  You will need to be a true hero, whatever your gender or agenda.

In my last blog post, I mentioned a romantic journey. For me, journeys are usually more romantic if we hold fewer fixed expectations about them.

The bluebird of happiness may be familiar to you from stories of long ago. If we chase after happiness, we will find it fleeting. When it is with us, we do not recognise its value.

You may have seen the above picture before, on my Quieter Living blog. It was taken by my husband in the rose gardens at Werribee last November.

In popular terminology, it is probably quite romantic to wander around a rose garden with someone you love, with little blue wrens fluttering about.

If you think you may like to apply for a visa for the journey ahead, just let me know. You are also welcome to keep a safe distance, by being a romantic spectator on the sidelines, sitting somewhere comfortable and reading this blog!

16 June 2009

The Romance of Travel

Are you a romantic sort of a person?  What does romance mean to you?

Here is your chance to travel with an imaginary, mature fairy princess called Via as she takes you on a magical tour of beauty and wonderment. You will meet many interesting people on the way, including your very own imagined Prince or Princess Charming (if you have not done so already).

If you have already met the nearest thing to a real Prince or Princess Charming, how does that person cope with the mundane, everyday problems of life? And how do you cope together when your travel plans are put into disarray by something beyond your control?

Being courageous

The least attractive aspects of travel are often places such as bus stations, car hire offices, car parks, airports, busy highways, and train tracks through industrial areas. Trying to find a toilet is often an adventurous pursuit for the unwary.

Trying to find somewhere to sleep at short notice on a tight budget might be difficult, especially after nightfall. And even the most luxurious of hotel rooms can be the homes of bed bugs, mosquitoes, cockroaches and rather big spiders.

It is courageous to step out of the pages of fantasy and into the real world. Your fairy princess might not be able to keep all of the really nasty problems out of the way, but don't worry just yet.

I hope you will even just enjoy exploring this blog.  Reading it might even be more of a pleasantly romantic journey that your experiences of life in the world around you.

10 June 2009

More Musical Adventures

You may have noticed that I have recently mentioned the composer Claude Debussy in my Quieter Living blog.  Now I want to explore more ideas about music.  There are so many discoveries we can make through it, especially about ourselves.

Two of my favourite pieces of music are Liebst du um Schönheit and Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, by Gustav Mahler, a contemporary of Claude Debussy. I like bits of the music of both composers, but not all of it.

I especially like the two lieder (German art songs) mentioned in the previous paragraph because I can identify with them. Yet I require the right recordings - with the right singers. These songs would not have the same meaning for me in a "live" performance, or with a singer with a voice type that does not appeal to me. The experience, at least for me, is a private, emotional one.

There are many versions of these songs, some are on YouTube, but only a few can adequately touch my soul.

05 June 2009

Educational Journeys

Do you travel to learn? What is special about learning in a different environment than the one with which you have most familiarity?

Can we understand people by spending our lives in just one place, seeing the same faces every day? Do you learn best by examining what other people have learned over thousands of years?

How do you learn about people? Is it an interesting journey?

04 June 2009

Journeys Through Time

I make a journey every time I wake up, every time I go to sleep, every time I prepare a meal, every time I have an intelligent conversation, every time I open a book or listen to a piece of music or explore the world online. How about you?

19 May 2009

Books about Journeys

Have you noticed that many famous stories are about journeys? How many of your favourite books are based on a journey of one sort or another?

I mainly read non-fiction as I mostly like to be informed about the real world. When it comes to fiction, my preference is for short, delightful, imaginative books about gentle people who have adventures and make discoveries.

Until recently, just before the link to Quieter Living on my blogger profile page, I included the following information about books that have inspired me:

...the first book I ever loved to read over and over again, The Story of Little Black Sambo, by Helen Bannerman. Perhaps that is why I grew up with a wish to visit exotic places, meet people of different cultures, and then learned along the way how to challenge assumptions, biases and prejudices. It might also be why I don't particularly enjoy the company of cats - especially very big ones with stripes.

Why do some books influence our lives in particular ways? Which books have inspired you to travel?

18 May 2009


Sometimes, I find a journey is no longer any fun because my motives change. I then think about how much worse it might have been if I had never set out on that journey in the first place.  Would I have ever known that my motivation would change? Would I have spent the rest of my life wishing I had started that journey and feeling that I had missed out on a rewarding experience?

How do you become motivated? What motivates you to set out on any sort of journey, whether in a career, on a holiday, in a relationship? Why is it important to feel motivated? Could some of the points I raise in my first paragraph apply to you?

Here is an article you might find interesting:

Students shown how to get a life

How do you motivate yourself?

16 May 2009

Telescopes, Microscopes and Public Buses

We can see worlds, beyond our own everyday one, on the largest scale and on the smallest, through telescopes and microscopes.  The images can seem fabulous, fantastic and phantasmagorical, but how should we explore human society?

My suggestion is to begin by travelling on public buses from time to time, at various times of the day, and through various neighbourhoods. A public bus is one of the most convenient ways to examine society, all over the world.

Public transport is a great way to experience an interesting and insightful perspective on humanity. I love seeing people of different ages and backgrounds all in one place, at least from time to time, when conditions are not too crowded or too noisy.

Fortunately, I am usually able to avoid rush hours.  You may not be so lucky.

And how do I usually travel around the town of Dorothea?  By lovely public bus - my favourite stretch limousine - of course!

14 May 2009

Musical Journeys

Have you ever experienced something musically interesting on your travels?  Could the same be experienced just by tuning to a different radio channel than your usual one?

YouTube is another way to experience the musically different, the musically challenging, and the musically challenged!

06 May 2009

The Journey Through Life

I enjoy expressing a few insights into my journey through life.

If you enjoy writing about your experiences of living, how do readers relate to your words?

Do you hope your writings will reach anywhere or anyone in particular?

Whose writings have a place in your heart and mind?

Whose journeys through life mean the most to you?

26 April 2009

Life, Work and Travel

What does the word "work" mean to you and how does it relate to the word "travel"?

With so many people losing their "jobs", how should they respond, especially when the loss of an income disrupts their travel plans? Could the answer be to gain more skills, be more creative and develop a deeper understanding of what people really need and want?  Could it also involve becoming a better manager on a personal level, and being a better planner of the experience of living?

03 April 2009

Earth Hour Every Hour

Travelling can often use up a lot of non-renewable energy. I try to save energy in my daily life, which is why my home and work are powered by 100% solar. I can illuminate my life with a clean conscience!

I use public transport most of the time when I need to go anywhere, or I walk. Going further afield can make it more difficult to maintain a clear, green conscience, however.

On my Ancestors Within blog, I've made a few suggestions on how to keep travel to a minimum when in need of some nostalgia, or when researching a possible future trip.

The best way to save the planet, though, is to be peaceful. I'll explore this topic in more detail in my Quieter Living blog over the coming weeks.

How do you travel without damaging the planet in the process?

28 March 2009

Via the Visitor

Even if I have not visited your country, or your local region, what are the best things to see and do there? What makes your homeland unique?  How do you usually behave towards guests?

Do you live in your homeland or have you moved somewhere else? Have you ever truly known a place as home?

visited 55 states (24.4%)
Create your own visited map of The World

Have I been anywhere (countries indicated in red) near to where you live?

What does "home" mean to you? Do you travel because you are in search of a new home?

How much of the world have you truly explored? Passing through airports does not count. Nor does spending most of the time sitting in a conference hall or lounging around in a resort or on a beach!

How much of the world do you understand? What does it mean to understand the world?

visited 13 states (26%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

If you live in the United States, how much of the country have you visited? How many generations of your family have lived there?  Have you been to where your family originated?

visited 5 states (14.2%)
Create your own visited map of India

What are the similarities and differences between India, Australia and the United States? I have only visited parts of the north of India. How about you?

Have you been to India? Do you live there? What can India teach the world about continual journeys?

Have you been to Australia? Have you been to England? Do you struggle with the English language? Why is English such a useful language for travellers?

How to travel without leaving home

Do you enjoy looking at photographs online, or going on an adventure with Google maps? Have you travelled through time, too? Have you tried my history blog?

14 March 2009

Understanding the World

Do you travel because you wish to overcome your misconceptions of other peoples and other places?

What would be your thoughts about the picture below if you had no other information with which to understand its meaning accurately?

What would you think if I told you that the person in this picture is me?

16 February 2009

Why Travel?

With video cameras, YouTube, iPods, mp3, amplification and all that technical complexity, it is possible, and perhaps even affordable, for many people to continue to experience the sounds of their travels as well as the sights.

We can see and hear the places we have not yet visited, just by watching television documentaries and going online. Even hotel rooms can be virtually explored before we enter them to sleep.

So, is there any point in travelling nowadays?

Are there any pleasant surprises on your excursions to new places or is everything becoming so familiar through pre-trip research that you may as well save your money and stay home?


We can taste foods from around the world just by looking at the local restaurant guides in our nearest cities and making a booking for something unusual. Aromas from various ethnic food shops and markets can enliven our senses and our palates whenever a diverse range of people have migrated to where we live.


Since the early 1990s, it has been unnecessary to purchase souvenirs on holiday, except to assist a local economy directly. Many craft items from around the world can be found in your nearest fair trade stores and charity shops. Some have even made their way into department stores, though those items will probably have been made on a factory scale.

Cultural diversity

I live in Australia, one of the most culturally diverse places on earth, especially in the cities. Such diversity is not often expressed in the architecture here.

There is often pressure to conform to the perceived norm of suburban blandness yet underneath the materialist surface, there is great cultural richness.

Why, then, do so many Australians wish to travel elsewhere?  Many have relatives in other countries. Many travel to where they do not have relatives. Perhaps the latter are in search of experiences within more interesting architecture than we have here.

Understanding home

Perhaps Australians appreciate the meaning and pleasure of being at home much more after they have travelled. Is it the same where you live?

Understanding the world

Do we really have a better understanding of the world when we travel?

Is understanding more about depth than a few days between hotel rooms can provide?

Is your curiosity satisfied enough already?  Are you unsure how to understand the world better, or even whether such understanding is a worthwhile pursuit?

Understanding ourselves

Who you are might have something to do with how you cope when you are away from familiar surroundings and familiar people.

If you have been reading my Ancestors Within blog, you will perhaps know about my search for the mill in Ossolaro and the musical heritage of the person I married.

If you have read my By Any Other Name blog, you will know something about my research into many aspects of identity.  Is your sense of identity challenged at all when you travel?

Musical journeys

This Continual Journeys blog may indicate to you that I intend to write here about travelling through time as well as space, and about travelling into my own mind and the minds of others.

Are history and music a part of your travels?  If you have looked through a few blogger profiles, perhaps some of the musical tastes you have encountered there have been unfamiliar to you. Have you tried listening to the music online, to discover more?

Other musical journeys

In my travels around the world, I have sought out interesting musical experiences, from a Peña or two in Bolivia and Peru; the musical accompaniment to wedding processions in India; recitals in churches in Rome, Venice and London; the traditional music and dances of Zimbabwe; opera performances in the Roman arena in Verona and at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, traditional performances of music and dance in Bali and Java, brass bands in Austria, as well as a lot of international musical experiences at festivals and other events in Australia.

The Mill in Ossolaro - part three

If you have been following this story in my Ancestors Within blog, you will be familiar with the name of Amilcare Ponchielli, the 19th century Italian composer. Ponchielli was a major inspiration to other composers, including Mascagni and Giordano, and especially Puccini.

The mill in Ossolaro is (or was) near Cremona. A major town to the north of Cremona is Bergamo, where Donizetti was born. Just to the south of Cremona, over the Po river, is Busseto and its nearby village of Le Roncole, birthplace of Giuseppe Verdi.

Your journeys

Would you like to continue reading this blog? If so, please leave comments on any of the posts here, and perhaps even send me an email - writetovia  AT gmail . com - I look forward to hearing from you!

10 February 2009

Travels of a Soul Mate

A reason to travel is to find a soul mate. I found mine on the back of a truck in South America a long time ago.  We have very similar interests on a personal level, but very different professional interests. Relationships can often be adventures.

We have plenty of books to keep our minds occupied in relation to our shared interests as a married couple, and also many, mostly second-hand books on our many individual interests. What are the interests you share - or wish to share - with a soul mate?

07 February 2009

The Perfect Afternoon Tea

It is not necessary to go far in search of something wonderful. For me, one of the most enjoyable experiences in the world is the perfect afternoon tea.  Yet I have only ever encountered such a thing in the private confines of family life.  Is it possible to find the perfect afternoon tea elsewhere?

Have you experienced the perfect afternoon tea?  If so, where did you find it?

05 February 2009

The Most Courteous People in the World

Sometimes the hassles of travel can be more trouble than a journey is worth. Yet courteous people can make any journey worthwhile.

From previous experiences, I know that I dislike being accosted by people trying aggressively to sell me things that are either kitsch or cute or crappy, or otherwise unlikely to meet any of my needs.  This even happens in Australia.

I especially detest those unpleasant characters who lurk in the distance, even in Europe, forcing women, children and disabled people to beg pathetically amongst the queues of tourists at World Heritage sites.

Service in shops, restaurants and hotels can sometimes be against the unspoken policy of the place. There can be transport delays, strikes, strange opening hours, language and currency problems, upset digestion, sleepless nights, security warnings, mosquitoes, flies, and answers to your questions that are well-meaning lies.

Genuine respect

What can make a trip worthwhile is often simply the kindness of strangers. Yet where in the world might anyone be treated with genuine respect with a comforting certainty? In the United States it often happens, though usually the service person anticipates receiving an extra donation known there as a tip. In other parts of the world the practice might be called begging, or even bribery. It appears to be a starvation-prevention measure in the United States.

But where are there people who are genuinely warm and consistently courteous, and might even be so while begging for money? After many years of travelling, I found my own answer. It was in Zimbabwe.

Acknowledging courtesy

My visit to Zimbabwe was a few years ago. So much has changed there over the years. But even in their current desperation, I am sure that most of the people in Zimbabwe are still as modest and considerate as the many I met there.  How might we best respond to their plight now?

True sources of wealth

Most of my current travels are merely into the minds of other people.  I hope you do not think me a soapbox person! It is just that I hope that peace and courtesy will be recognised as the true sources of wealth. Through them, we might travel towards a more considerate world, and perhaps assist the people of Zimbabwe along the way.

02 February 2009

Adventures in the Land of Blog

What a fabulous time I am having during the heatwave here in southern Australia. I love being warm and dry.  We usually have low humidity here in the town of "Dorothea", but the temperature is rarely over 40 degrees centigrade.

Our house is usually less than 30 degrees, even without air conditioning. I don't enjoy temperatures lower than 20 degrees or the freezing blasts and roaring fans of air conditioners.

When the weather is so hot, what could be better than to travel online?

Why do so many people attempt to travel in very hot weather? Could the Land of Blog be the best place to be?

Travelling online

I started off on an adventure with four little blogs last month, taking them to the Land of Blog. Along the way, we met many other blogs and it was great fun. However, my sense of fun might not be the same as yours, as you may have already gathered.

I have been enjoying creating my public blogger profile, and nurturing my blogs.   I have especially been thinking about all of the interests my blogs and I might share with other travellers online.

01 February 2009

Many Like to Travel

There are rather a lot of bloggers out there who like to travel.

Real world travels

If you would like to know something about my travels, here is a brief summary:

I have travelled extensively, and not expensively, on every inhabited continent. My carbon footprint during those travels, and before and after them, has been reasonably low.

One of the reasons for my travels has been to see the world in a way that the television news ignores.  I had the hope that I could then understand our species and this planet from a much broader perspective than I had earlier acquired.


My accommodation experiences have ranged from a hammock slung between trees in the Amazon, an ex-London Transport double-decker bus in Iran, a hut in a rice paddy in Bali, a squalid five-star hotel room in Greece, various apartments in London and Paris and Rome, people's private homes in many places, and a converted windmill in Norfolk, England.


My transport experiences have been equally as diverse, from business class on world-class airlines (on an economy ticket), to a walking safari in the Okavango Delta after a very long trip by dugout canoe, to just about everything in between, including the back of a camel in Jordan, the back of an elephant in Jaipur, India and the back of an authoritarian horse in Ireland.


I am not particularly interested in hedonistic or ascetic pursuits, except as part of my anthropological investigations.  Oh, and I qualified as an international travel consultant (IATA/UFTAA) quite a long time ago but decided against working as an agent for anyone or anything. 

I am not very good at selling, especially to people who are unlikely to enjoy a particular trip.  I can only share what I love, with people who love it too.

30 January 2009

Saving to Travel

In the last twenty or thirty years or so, many people went on holiday using someone else's money. Like so much else of consumer living, it seemed a great idea at the time to take out a loan and set off to explore the world, but what were the consequences?

For a long time, at least in Western societies, it was easy to buy now and pay later. It seemed to be an especially fruitful way to travel, as long as your currency was worth more than the one at your destination and you had an income source on your return home. 

Saving for anything is not a particularly attractive proposition if your currency keeps losing value and inflation is rampant.  Your poor economy may, though, attract tourists to your country. The cost of living for them in your society is possibly lower than they experienced at home.  And they may prefer your weather.

Travel was a good opportunity, especially in the 1980s, for young people who had the chance to save money with high interest rates but no mortgage.  Those people probably had reasonably good health.  They had a relevant education and work experience of interest to many employers.  They therefore had the world at their feet, even if they considered themselves to be budget travellers.

So, who will the future travellers be? How will they find the money for their travels, and how might they travel in an ecologically and socially friendly way?

28 January 2009

On the Sublime, the Superlative, and the Soggy

Travel is one of the biggest investments in life, whether it is for a holiday, business or migration. Some people travel to wage war. Some people travel to escape war. Many people travel each day just to reach their place of employment and earn a wage.

Do you travel further afield because you desire adventure or just a change in the weather?

Do you wonder why travel is often a challenge, even when all you may want to do is take it easy?

Have you met people who travel mainly in an attempt to impress those they regard as friends and/or competitors?

Do you travel to seek a better understanding of the world, beyond the media's distorting prism?

Do you travel to have a better understanding of humanity, or just to see interesting scenery?

Why travel?

Is it because travel puts the routines of life into a broader context?

Is it because it gives new perspectives on our own sense of identity?

Is it because the familiar is best appreciated when it has been absent for a while?

I travel mainly because life is far too short to allow it ever to become boring. Travelling is far more interesting and satisfying than being in a classroom, an office or slouched in front of a television.  I also like to escape unpleasant weather, but that is another story.

17 January 2009

Past, Present, Future

This blog is about all sorts of journeys, including journeys of self understanding. 

Where have you been?

You may have been to the sacred mountain near Viggiano or seen the sunset at Uluru.

You may know the migration stories of your ancestors and have retraced their steps.

You may have seen the view from the top of the Montello in the Veneto.

You may have seen the sunrise at the Taj Mahal. 

You may have bought a Baluchi (or Balochi) hat in Quetta.  

You may have eaten a falafal in Jerusalem. 

You may have tried to play panpipes in Cusco.

You may have found that the world seems different on your travels than it appears through a television screen. 

You may have been around the Wrekin, if you know where the Wrekin can be found, and what it means to go around it, literally or figuratively, or both.