After being locked down in our cities, or ever-more crowded countryside, the timing of these isolation-paradise movies is impeccable. But what hooks us into these escapist dreams, these illusions, is no different today than it was in the 19th century. Like pilgrimage itself, it taps into an eternal impulse within us all.
Trees and pilgrimage have been linked since ancient times, not least in the autumn
During the research for my book We are Pilgrims I encountered many pilgrim travellers but none quite like Martin Gray. Over the course of 38 years, this photographer and anthropologist has visited thousands of pilgrim sites and sacred places in 160 countries across the globe. His web-site World Pilgrimage Guide is an essential source of information for anyone contemplating … Continue reading A Life of Pilgrimage
On Tuesday I travelled to Toledo, that city which lies at the heart of La Mancha, Spain. Home to Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, and Judah Halevi, the medieval scholar. Both accompanied me and my friend George on our way through the city on this week’s virtual pilgrimage. Through these characters, George illuminated the current … Continue reading Tuesday’s Toledo Travelogue
Today I received a gift through the mail from the inspiring author and adventurer Levison Wood. His book - An Arabian Journey- is sitting on my desk as I write, calling me to stop everything and luring me to enter those mountains of the mind that lie within its pages. It’s been a great week for … Continue reading Mountains of the Mind
On Friday, from my study in Suffolk, with the apple blossom in full bloom outside, I took a virtual pilgrimage through Pepys’ London, with author Jacky Colliss Harvey and Barbara Schwepcke, founder of Haus Publishing. Through the glass of our screens, Jacky gave us a tour of some of the 17th century tea and coffee … Continue reading A View of the City
In almost every dimension of human society, whether in love or war, politics or the weather, improving our understanding of what the future has in store confers an advantage, and since the very earliest times we have been trying to peer over the horizon by one means or another to get a glimpse of tomorrow … Continue reading What Next?
The millions of pairs of feet that in normal times would already be striding out for Rome or Mecca, Benares or Mashhad are stilled today while so many patient pilgrims are waiting for the tide to turn on the pandemic. But the imagination is a fine thing and this morning I ventured virtually along the … Continue reading The Road Not Taken
At a time when we are all confined to our homes, the question arises of what gives a place, home or abroad, its ‘draw’? This was the topic of conversation between Mary and I as we set out on our virtual walk from Walberswick to Blythburgh. We were linked via facetime and shared Google maps … Continue reading Home and Away
As the Easter festival approaches, I’m reminded of a journey taken one April weekend more than two decades ago, from Moscow to St Petersburg, that city first introduced to many of us through Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. It was a glorious if somewhat monotonous train ride, with snow laden pine and aspen forests slipping past … Continue reading Crime and Punishment