…. with a substantial thump. After removing the plastic wrapper I scan the editorial, then the contents list. A few words prise an involuntary smile. A rare thing indeed, some may say. I’m going to enjoy this one.
First up is a list. It contains six books, of which I’ve read four, so far, and indeed commented on them in these pages. This is the shortlist for the 2013 Dolman Travel Book of the Year. I may read the other two, but not yet. The subjects are America and Nigeria; neither topping my list of places of particular interest.
But the other four, let me tell you. Michael Jacobs; Jeremy Seal; and they are joined by none other than Robert Macfarlane and Kathleen Jamie, the sorceress that she is. It might be a tough one for the judging panel; and for the collector a prize might just make a first edition even more collectible. But it’s a great start to a quarterly magazine. Of the four I’ve read, despite the joys that Macfarlane and Jamie bring us, I’d plump for Jacobs’ The Robber of Memories. But remember the other two are unknown quantities, so far, and I could change my mind, in time.
And Macfarlane has his own piece too, an interview about words and walks which I’ll keep for another day. Seal too gets a couple of pages; a rich harvest of fresh pistachios, and a pastiche of mosaics from the Roman times. Fergal Keane is there; and instantly I hear his rich brogue in a hushed theatre at the RGS, every word precious.
There’s book reviews, which I’m sure to read aren’t I? PLF’s final work comes out next month, the unfinished one, the last leg of that journey. His draft has been polished by none other than Colin Thubron, and Paddy’s biographer Artemis Cooper. It takes us from the Danube to Mount Athos, both subjects well represented on The Book Shelf. That’s a must for The Bedside Table even if it is too late to add The Broken Road to the birthday wish list.
We have the winning entry from this year’s writing competition. It’s an atmospheric piece of an unsuccessful attempt on Kilimanjaro. And I realise very quickly why my own effort failed to secure entry to the awards bash this year. I can’t even remember what I wrote. But I know it was gibberish in comparison to Rob Tye’s tale. I’ve always got the memories of last year. And there’s another chance next year.
Patagonia. There’s a place I’m always keen to read; ever since Chatwin gave the world a snippet or two of what Lucas Bridges found earlier; what Darwin and Fitzroy fought their way round. But hold on a minute; I know that author. For Pete Mathers was on a certain weekend in Marrakech, the baby of the group. Not only did he survive the short straw so far as room-mates go but he’s been honing his craft ever since, and widening his travels, deservedly so. I’ll read every word of that one too. Remember that name.
Then I find Svalbard, PBs, again. And a Russian mining station, long since fallen out of use. Goodness. What Next?
Well Next means there’s heaps more beyond. 90 pages packed with pleasures. Reviews of books that need to be read; pictures of places from dreams; and words, what words.
Then, just at the end there’s the crossword. It’s usually my only hope of seeing my name in print after a prize arrives in the post. 16 down: Gateway to the Isles. I know that one.
It always seems a long wait for Traveller to arrive. For Amy Sohanpaul keeps us on tenterhooks, with four issues each year. Then she comes up with this. Thank you Amy.
If you only read one travel magazine, have a look at the best of them all.