What was Patrick Leigh Fermor’s school reading list?

Not a normal post, but one where we are actively seeking your feedback and contribution via the comments section (see Leave a Reply above) in response to a question asked in an email from reader Jonathan in New Zealand.

One other question I have for the community , is (being a product of UK post 1970s progressive state education), what would be a basic reading list of the key classics (greek and Latin) that Paddy and his peers would have been exposed to during their school days?

Any ideas?


Horatio Clare and Bill Bryson winners at Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards

Winners Bill Bryson and Horatio Clare at the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards

Winners Bill Bryson and Horatio Clare at the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards

Some disappointment for our friend Nick Hunt in the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards, the results of which were announced at an event at London’s National Liberal Club this week. The winner was Down To The Sea In Ships: Of Ageless Oceans and Modern Men, Horatio Clare’s account of the ordinary men that place their lives in extraordinary danger on container ships on the high seas.

“In selecting a winner from our wonderful shortlist, we kept in mind that one of the great litmus tests of travel writing is companionship, how much the reader relishes the company of the writer,” said prize Chair, Barnaby Rogerson. “We wanted to be led on an adventure, we wanted new doors opened, fresh horizons of inquiry unveiled, we want to be filled with wonder and enthusiasm at the dazzling riches of our world. Down To The Sea In Ships: Of Ageless Oceans and Modern Men ticked every box.”

“It is a book charged full of vim and passion,” continued Rogerson. “Filled with polished, near poetic prose, it is alert to labour as well as beauty, the loneliness of long-distance sea travel as well as the communities that form below deck, and are dissipated with each new voyage.”

Chris Schüler, outgoing Chairman of the Authors’ Club, echoed Rogerson’s words adding that “Down To The Sea In Ships: Of Ageless Oceans and Modern Men is a book entirely worthy of its place amongst the Stanford Dolman’s illustrious list of past victors. In this first year of our partnership with Stanfords, we couldn’t have hoped for a better choice from our judges to capture the essence of this vital prize – a work of true literary excellence and cultural importance.”

As winner, Clare received a cheque for £5,000 and a specially commissioned hand-made globe by master globe-makers, Lander & May.

Best-selling travel author Bill Bryson was also honoured at the Awards when he received the Edward Stanford Award for Outstanding Contribution to Travel Writing. Selected from public nominations by specialists at high street and independent bookshops, including Waterstones, Blackwell’s, Daunt Books and the Hungerford Bookshop, this is the first time the Award has been presented.

“I am hugely honoured to receive this award,” said Bryson, “particularly as it comes from booksellers, my favourite people on the whole planet.”

Tony Maher, Managing Director of Edward Stanford Limited, said “Bill’s elegant, witty and amiable prose has been entertaining readers for many years. From adventures walking the Appalachian Trail, to defining the British better than any Brit has ever managed, he has a turn of phrase at once insightful and hilarious.

“The beauty in his writing is often its brevity and sincerity; it is understatedly, unassumingly, powerful. I couldn’t be more thrilled that he is the first recipient of the Edward Stanford Award for Outstanding Contribution to Travel Writing, and commend the public and our bookselling partners on their choice.”

As well as receiving his own handmade globe trophy, Bryson’s name was inscribed on a commemorative globe which will go on permanent display at Stanfords, Covent Garden. The names of future winners will be added to the globe in due course.

Maher also announced that the 2016 Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards ceremony would move to coincide with the Stanfords Travel Writers Festival, which will take place at the Destinations Show, Olympia in February 2017.

Stanfords entered into sponsorship of the Stanford Dolman prize earlier this year, in association with the Authors’ Club and donor, Rev. Dr. Bill Dolman, doubling its funds and adding it to the newly created Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards, alongside the Edward Stanford Award for Outstanding Contribution to Travel Writing.

Buy: Down To The Sea In Ships: Of Ageless Oceans and Modern Men


Wild Carpathia 4 fundraising a success!

CaptureFilming is to start immediately on Wild Carpathia 4. The target of £50,000 has been reached. A big donation of over Euro 20,000 was made by a Romanian country club and its members over the weekend which accelerated the funds towards the goal.

Thank you to all of you who follow the blog for your contributions. I am sure Paddy would have been pleased.


Rick Stein served moussaka by Elpida at Paddy’s house

Stein at Paddy'sThe global reach of the “celebrity chef” Rick Stein is unknown to me, but certainly for those of us in the UK he is a well known figure and is perhaps almost single-handedly responsible for the gentrification of the beautiful port of Padstow in Cornwall.

Unfortunately for most of you outside the UK you will remain unaware of the qualities that make Rick such an attractive figure (!!) as I understand that BBC iPlayer is unavailable outside of the UK.

But if you use your imagination, in this episode from Stein’s current TV programme – From Venice to Istanbul – he arrives in the Peloponnese, visits the obligatory taverna followed by Paddy’s house at Kardamyli, where he takes a tour and Elpida cooks him moussaka to her secret recipe. Apparently Paddy did not like moussaka, but one day Elpida served it to him, he loved it and the dish was then a firm favourite. We also discover what is Elpida’s favourite English dish. Angelica Deverell describes the whole scene is “quiet moving”.

Watch the episode here. Dive in at 33 mins 30 seconds if you don’t have time to watch it all. Only available until about the 9th of October under iPlayer rules.


Jasper Winn in conversation with Dervla Murphy at Engage Arts Festival

Jasper Winn

Jasper Winn

Our good friend Jasper Winn is reprising his double act with Dervla Murphy this weekend at the Engage Arts Festival in Bandon, County Cork. Apologies for the short notice but perhaps some of our Ireland based followers will be able to attend. They appear at Bandon Grammar School on Sunday 27 September at 4.30 pm.

Jasper tells me he is currently working on a book about his time living with Berbers, and in October will be ‘setting off with a writer friend as his muleteer on a three week walk across England. I reckon it’s going to be fun.’ I have no doubt and will keep people updated.

Details of the Bandon Festival can be found here.


Before and after: Paddy, Ralph Stockbridge and others in Crete

One thing I must do sometime is to take a trip to Edinburgh to visit Paddy’s archive at the National Library of Scotland. In the meantime I am very lucky to receive emails from time to time from Chris White (co-editor of Abducting a General) and it always pleases me to be able to share these with you. Chris has sent some more before and after photos from Crete.

I was visiting the PLF Archive in April and came across these photos ………..they were taken at a sheepfold called Korakopetra above Anogia – probably in May 1943, and feature – in the group photo – PLF and Ralph Stockbridge (slightly behind PLF on the right, wearing glasses) surrounded by Mihali Xylouris and members of his band. It was at this location at around this time that PLF accidentally killed his great friend Yanni Tsangarakis (described in ‘Abducting A General’ and Artemis’ biography).

Peter and I tracked down the sheepfold last year and I revisited there in May of this year with a Cretan historian called Costas Mamalakis.

Related articles:

Ralph Stockbridge obituary.

Leaving Kastamonitsa for the kidnap – before and after pictures


Dervla Murphy: ‘Older travellers are now more intrepid than the young’

Dervla Murphy

This makes great reading for those of us who are growing old, or who wish to grow old, disgracefully! Perhaps it is actually gracefully?

by Dervla Murphy

First published in the Telegraph, 23 September 2015

In her late 30s, Jane Austen serenely prepared for imminent middle age and soon was dressing as a maiden aunt with no hope of losing her maidenhood. Yet many of her relatives and friends lived energetically into their 80s and 90s; so why, 200 years ago, was middle age allowed to take over at 40? Was the bible to blame?

Until recently, its general prognosis seemed realistic: three-score years and 10, if you were lucky. My own generation took this ration so much for granted that I now feel absurdly smug about being 13 years into overtime. True, these last few years have revealed several tiresome worn parts, but the underlying logic here – that all machines wear out – makes restricted physical activity seem tolerable. And this despite the fact that the wanderlust, unlike other lusts, does not diminish with age.

For this reason I always feel one should avoid, for as long as possible, casual visits to the doctor. He/she is too likely to take blood samples, diagnose problems you haven’t yet noticed, prescribe medicines that benefit only Big Pharma and advise you not to go where you want to go.

In 1992, when I decided to cycle from Nairobi to Cape Town, my family and friends made no comment; it was the sort of thing Dervla did. Only a few anxious acquaintances, and sceptical interviewing journalists, drew my attention to the fact that I was 61; it wasn’t yet trendy to witter on about “40 being 60” and “80 being 60”.
In fact, ever since the bicycle was invented, cyclists have kept pedalling into their old age. Quite often one hears of grannies and grandads cycling across the United States or Canada, or from Helsinki to Gibraltar, or from Mexico to Patagonia. That’s the convenient thing about non-competitive cycling (or walking): the more of it you do, on a daily basis, the longer you can keep doing it.

Before affluence hit Ireland, many GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) fans from my home town of Lismore thought nothing of cycling over the Knockmealdown mountains, on bicycles without gears, to an important hurling match in Thurles. They set out at sunrise and arrived home in the summer dusk having pedalled 120 miles. Now their grandchildren motor to fetch the milk from the corner.

Read the entire article here.