Blog - People In Mind

Living History

Twenty-five years after coming to studynot far away at York University and publishing her bestseller, the Wild Swan was back again, standing in the pulpit of Beverley Minster to promote the same book in the Beverley Literature Festival. A quarter of a century has...

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What would Prince Albert think? 

  Last Monday, after seeing a Canadian friend who has been living in London for 25 years and a young Italian post-graduate medical student, I wandered through Hyde Park to pause beside Prince Albert. He was seated high above me under a golden canopy, but we were...

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Farneta II

Friends were coming to stay. They had come before so we were looking for a new place to show them – the Abbey of Farneta! We had not wanted to return and disturb memories after Don Felice died. It was deserted. None of the buzz it had when he was alive – what could...

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​Farneta I

Some years ago I was driving across the hills rising above the  Tuscan Val di Chiana and passed a large, abandoned church. A few days later I returned to find the 10th-century Abbey of Farneta and Don Felice. The Abbey had lost most of its surrounding buildings by the...

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Tuscan Shrines

Summer has ended in a series of thunderstorms and the parched land is already speckled with shoots of green. No hailstones as big as tennis balls, the locals with vineyards and olive groves murmur in relief, but both harvests are bad this year. That is because of the...

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Crackling

Beppino’s family have lived in this Tuscan valley for centuries. He was standing on the terrace above us surveying the valley. I thought, ‘Leonardo da Vinci once stood here to draw his map of the then malarial valley, now in the collection of Queen Elizabeth. He...

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Living History

There was some excitement in the class of seven-year-olds. We were to welcome two new members in our class. I didn’t think more about it until I passed two strangely-dressed women at the school gates; their hems too long and their faces deeply lined, they looked much...

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Just Stones

When driving through the patchwork of green fields and grazing sheep in North Yorkshire  this weekend, I marvelled at the hard simplicity of the stone walls. Once these hillsides and valleys crossed by fast-flowing rivers must have been as strewn with stones as the...

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Just Stones When driving through the patchwork of green fields and grazing sheep in North Yorkshire  this weekend, I marvelled at the hard simplicity of the stone walls. Once these hillsides and valleys crossed by fast-flowing rivers must have been as strewn with...

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Iran in Retrospect

‘Is Iran a police state?’ I asked Ali, our excellent guide. He hesitated. The organisers of our tour of Iran asked us not to name anyone we would like to meet there as we are requested to do on our visa application. Any meetings should be arranged through our guide....

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North of Tehran – the Caspian and Beyond

Tehran, we were warned, would be characterless. It was. There was no heart to the town which seemed like a lot of villages which had spread and amalgamated into an amorphous mass. I remember endless streets that all looked the same as we went from one museum to...

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Echoes in a Persian Garden

Whenever one wonders where the idea of a garden started, one finds that the Garden of Eden was first realised in Persia and travelled the world woven into prized carpets. That must explain why the gardens in India, from Kashmir to Agra, were created by Muslim...

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Events Crowding In

  Time to think has raced past me week after week while I organise a house clearance and experience how discouragingly difficult it is to find space to put furniture, bedding and too many objects while deciding whether to keep them or not. When still in the midst...

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Hello from Isfahan

I am writing this before going to a most beautiful garden in the hotel which is a huge former caravanserai to listen, in English, to those of famous Persian poets​. ​We flew to Shiriaz, a rather nondescript​ town with single storey buildings hidden behind shops...

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The Time to Let Go

An unsafe upholstered armchair, an old microwave and kitchen cooker, old utensils, chairs and curtains consigned to the rubbish tip. Books in piles on the floor beside framed pictures leaning against walls, all awaiting their fate. The removal van is coming in two...

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THE  Place to Be

The grandson of the last manager of the House of Powolny invited us to a celebration in our local Beverley theatre cafe. It was a memorable occasion. The first in a line of immigrants, Ernst Adolf Powolny left Saxony for Leeds in 1859 aged 17 to seek his fortune. He...

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Amazed!

  Spring is here! The snowdrops have faded but daffodils are on road verges, roundabout and in woodlands, with celandine. Hedgerows are just tipped with green and every day I see the sticky buds on the chestnut tree across the road getting fatter, about to burst. So...

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AGM and the Ukuleles

The year has come round with the Annual General Meeting for the Friends of our local country house. Officers for the coming year were re-elected unanimously as so often happens, but no treasurer. I wanted to suggest paying a local accountant to help a volunteer as few...

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Unravelling

In ‘Red, White and Blue’ I wrote about the Union Jack. It is unravelling with the June 2016 Referendum majorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as London wanting to remain in the EU while England and Wales voted to leave. Some say that Presidents Trump and...

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The Gadarene Swine

In my wanderings in the Middle East I may have visited a district east of Jordon where the episode of the Gadarene swine is said to have taken place. As recounted in the New Testament, Jesus was accosted by a madman. Jesus freed him from his ‘devils’ which entered the...

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