Norway in a Nutshell – Part 2 of 2

So, having scaled the highest peak in Europe north of the Alps, what could be next, and what could top that? I had a couple of ideas which I hoped my friends would appreciate, and which I thought might keep excitement levels on a high. Continue reading Norway in a Nutshell – Part 2 of 2

Are we there yet?

Further to a couple of messages I swapped with another blogger this week, it occurred to me that distance and culture as well as geographical location can not only be inhibitors to travel, but they can also be a cause. It struck me that that is a contradiction, but I guess that life is like that. Continue reading Are we there yet?

Spirits in the Material World

Apologies to The Police for using one of their song titles for this item, but it seemed apposite somehow.  Regular readers will know that 2015 has been a year of big changes for me, and one area which I’ve not really touched on is the spiritual one.  Before you pass the rest of this article by, I’m not going to get all religious on you, spouting off about some great being looking down on us and handing down lessons which may or may not have been true.  (And, by the way, if that’s what you choose to believe in, I’m cool with that.  Each to their own and all that, but it’s not for me.) Continue reading Spirits in the Material World


My blog has just reached a massive milestone, and I thought I’d just take a moment to celebrate it.  I’ve now had 1000 views, and I’m ecstatic.  Thank you very much to everyone who has visited the site and taken time to read one or more of the posts there – I literally couldn’t have reached this stage without you, and I will raise a glass to toast your good health later.  You are all stars!

There’s something in the air

Have you ever been to a place which makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and your skin crawl? Is it the history of the place that’s got to you? Did something horrible happen there? Or is the history / purpose of the place totally unknown to you? 

In my life, the places which were used for good have been significantly outnumbered by those which weren’t. For example, the three spookiest places I can remember visiting are:

  • Glencoe in Scotland, where in 1692 members of the MacDonald clan was massacred by members of Clan Campbell on behalf of the English government;
  • Culloden in Scotland, where in 1746 the Jacobite rebellion was crushed and Scotland finally subjugated by the English; and
  • James Island, which is in the middle of the Gambia river and was a staging post for slaves before they were shipped to the Americas.  

At all three, there’s a palpable sense that something “bad” happened. I didnt know the full story when I visited the first two but I still “knew” something nasty happened in the past. As for James Island – it was really hard walking over the island, looking at the ruined fort and cells where so many unfortunates were held before being forced on board ships with no idea of where they were going, or what was going to happen to them. (The Gambia is where Kunta Kinte, the first of the characters in Alex Hailey’s Roots came from.) There were a lot of tourists there when I visited over 20 years ago, and I don’t think there was a single person on the island who was unaffected.

I find it odd that I didn’t get that same skin crawling feeling at Auschwitz, and the only thing I can attribute that to is that perhaps my senses were so totally overwhelmed at the horror and scale of the place, that they were totally overloaded and unable to take it all in.  

If I contrast that “bad” feeling with one that was almost euphoric, the first place that springs to mind (not including gigs / listening to music) is the Sanctuary near Avebury in Wiltshire, England. It’s a neolithic site which once had circles of wooden posts and, later, stones. My partner Dee and I were visiting one day recently and walked into the circle.  She’d walked straight into the middle, while I remained on the periphery reading some information about the circle.  As I walked towards her I stopped dead in my tracks, and could feel the hairs on my back, neck and scalp tingling, in a very pleasant way.  At the same time, Dee said her hands felt as though they were burning with positive energy.  As we left the circles, the feeling subsided, only to return when we walked back into the centre.  After we left the site, the feeling of “good” lasted for half an hour or so – it was really strange!

What is it about places that give them the ability to make you react in either a positive or negative way? Is there any place in particular that makes you feel really good, or really bad, possibly without any logical exmplanation? I guess it’s just another of life’s mysteries…

The guy that speaks his mind

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