Monthly Archives:

November 2018

family feature vanlife

What buys happiness?

November 15, 2018

  Woke up in my own bed this morning with hounds all snoring softly around us. Andy starts laughing as he wakes from a dream in which everyone except him turns up to a wedding in fancy dress. He informs me I am not the dashing-Jonny-Depp-Captain-Jack-Sparrow character I’d envisaged, I am more captain Pugwash; and we laugh until tears roll down our faces and the doggies play ‘musical beds’, climbing over us, digging into the duvet, circling to mark their…

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feature travel vanlife

Navigating the tough times

November 15, 2018

  Sometimes life throws a curveball. A reminder that no matter how much we plan and work and dream, events will happen that are out of our control. Living in a van is a more precarious existence. It gives us the freedom to explore new places and dream new dreams, but existing on the margins also means that life is a bit more fragile; the more we open ourselves to experiences, the more possibility there is of the negative as…

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Europe feature vanlife

When things go wrong

November 15, 2018

  Absolutely heartbroken. I’m here in India and our van has been broken into in Italy – they’ve taken everything. Even Andy’s laptop, wallet, clothes; our bikes, all my tech gear for performing. Everything. I’m cutting short the work here and flying to meet him Rome tomorrow. We sold everything we own to live in the van and I’ve put everything into this India project. Yes it all looks lovely on Instagram, and it is, but what people don’t see…

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India nature travel

Dragonfly (part 2)

November 13, 2018

  ‘A dragonfly only needs to skim the surface of water to create a cascade of ripples’ (Chinese proverb) Managed to get a great shot of this beautiful dragonfly recently while in the north of Bengal.…

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feature food India travel

rural theatre at the border

November 11, 2018

Passing through the Mekhliganj corridor that connects the pockets of Indian villages in Bangladesh felt strange. The 1947 Partition of Bengal created enclaves of what feels like terra nullius (no man’s land) split by vast corridors twice the width of a highway fenced in and manned by armed guards so that the people of India can travel between villages that would otherwise be cut off by the surrounding Bangladesh. We travelled to the border that is the Teesta river, and looked over…

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feature India politics travel

the price of tea

November 10, 2018

India and Wales share a love for tea. That golden brown brew is part of the culture flowing through the veins of our nations like rivers. In Wales we have a wealth of herbal teas, but these infusions wouldn’t be called tea in India – tea is from the tea plant, everything else is a hot drink that is ‘not tea’. In north-Wales, English speakers call it a brew and Cymraeg speakers will say it’s a panad. The difference on…

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family feature food India travel

bengali hospitality

November 6, 2018

  Bengali hospitality and cuisine take some beating and I’m discovering first-hand why they’re legendary. While travelling across this ever-changing country new friends are delighting in introducing me to Bengali cuisine; eating here is part of an education in the culture and a way to make a deeper connection with the land. I’m beginning to realise how important sweets are in Bengali and Nepali culture. Bought from small shops a bit like European patisseries, these are often milk or cheese…

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India travel

Overnight trains

November 4, 2018

  The overnight trains in India are a revelation. I loved them last time I was here and this time was no different. It makes sense in a country this big, when you think about it, to be able to cover 500+ miles overnight. Its a lot slower than flying but it’s cheaper and I’ve never had any problems. I haven’t travelled alone on the overnight trains, the first time was a group of six writers from Wales, and this…

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feature India

Kantha embroidery

November 3, 2018

I’ve discovered, and fallen in love with, Kantha embroidery. It’s a traditional craft in this part of the world (Bengal/Bangladesh). Old saris are stitched together to make a blanket or throw for the home (or for children). Not only is it beautiful but it’s recycling done right. I bought a cheap cotton tunic to wear whilst here as it’s so hot, but when I got it back I realised that it’s too tight across the chest. I was inspired by…

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food India travel

Bengali cooking

November 3, 2018

Soon we head north on the overnight train. It was so hot today I only left the apartment briefly this morning. Now I understand why everything stops at noon and doesn’t start up again until 5pm. You’d be mad to stay out in that heat. So instead my wonderful friend cooked us a delicious lunch. She would say it’s just an average lunch but I’ve never had Bengali food like it. Here’s dhal with rice, spiced smoky aubergine, pumpkin, fenugreek…

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