This is now the fourth time that we have had to experience the worst day of our lives: the day that Louise, our beloved daughter, died.
Have spent the past few days making the long-awaited photo book for Louise. I felt compelled after reading my friend Sarah Helm’s harrowing account of the Ravensbrück women’s death camp, If This Is a Woman. It’s one of the real horror stories of the Second World War and was buried behind the Iron Curtain, with the Communists only commemorating their own, and not the thousands – maybe as many as 60,000 (not only Jews, but French, Czechs, Germans -asocials – Poles, English and American SOE agents) – who were murdered there. There was a strong link between the two camps to Auschwitz where all my Czech family, apart from my father, his mother, two uncles and two cousins (who were kindertransport) perished. I will never buy a Siemens product again. You’ll have to read the book to find out why. Continue reading →
The change of pace has been noticeable. Whisked away from London in some style on BA ( a windfall trip first class), I find Singapore surprisingly cool and pleasant. There’s a stiff breeze on our 11th floor balcony, and my plants are swishing and swooshing while the sunbirds chirp a merry greeting several times a day. The orchids have sprouted great long flower stems and I can admire them as I sit on my chaise longue, reading my friend Sarah Helm’s harrowing story of Ravensbruck death camp, If This Is A Woman. At times I weep from the gratuitous cruelty of this untold story. Continue reading →
On Monday 15 December I had my check up with the Prof. I had flown in the day before and had spent the day with Tommy, first at the Bench, with a late birthday tribute to Louise (always in our thoughts), and then in the pub with some of Louise’s friends watching the football. Consequently felt not only anxious about Monday’s appointment but also rather hung-over! Continue reading →
We spend our last few days in Myanmar on the magnificent Ngapali beach. We are right up one end, staying in the Bayview Hotel, supposedly a boutique hotel, but like the majority the hotels on this beach it caters for mass tourism, with nice rooms all cheek by jowl, on a small plot. Worst of all, it suffers from sunbed–towels-at-dawn syndrome, trade-mark of the German tourist, the majority of the guests here. Continue reading →
And so we arrive at Bagan, the centre of tourism in Myanmar, for this is Pagoda Central. From the 11 – 13th centuries, Bagan was a huge city dedicated by its various rulers to Theravada Buddhism, which was celebrated by the building of over 13,000 pagodas, monasteries and stupas. Amazingly, 2200 survive today, despite the sacking of the city by Kublai Khan – he of the stately pleasure dome – and innumerable earthquakes, natural erosion and decay. Continue reading →
BY THE old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ lazy at the sea,
There’s a Burma girl a-settin’, and I know she thinks o’ me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:
“Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay! “
Come you back to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay:
Can’t you ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay ?
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!
We arrive in Lashio, gateway to North Shan province, after a short delay due to fog: the planes all do round robin-trips so one late start puts the whole day out of synch. Our bus takes us to Hsipaw, where we will begin our trek. It meanders alongside a big river for two hours, past groves of oranges, papaya and the odd pagoda; we stop and watch men extracting pebbles for building from the river using an ancient form of technology. It seems time has stood still. Continue reading →
In Myanmar at last, what a way to celebrate Ross’s birthday! We trickle in from our respective destinations, all 10 of us, friends and family – Christine, Diego, Hilary and John, Jane and Trevor, Rick and Lucille – who have come together for our tailor-made ‘off the beaten track’ adventure. Continue reading →
It’s been non-stop visitors since we got back, in case you were wondering what had become of me! First Cindy and Guy from Mumbai, then Louise’s best friend Lulu dropped in after doing some extraordinary free diving to create an underwater apsara installation to celebrate reef protection in Bali, and now Christine and Diego are here for a week before we set off for Burma next weekend. Continue reading →