• Upcoming trips

    13-23 January, 2018 Cruise out of New York around the Caribbean on the Norwegian Gem. Note : this trip has been cancelled altogether because of the damage caused by the hurricanes to the Caribbean islands.

    October 31st - 11 November. Caribbean cruise to break up the winter. Note: The itinerary has not yet been determined owing to the havoc wreaked by the hurricanes.
  • theatre and Concerrts

    October 8 Went to BAM, for the first time since Ethel died, to hear a wonderful modern opera composed and written by Matthew Aucoin called “Crossing”. It is based on Walt Whitman’s experience and the libretto is largely taken from his poetry.

    The story is multi-themed, as modern plays tend to be; the first is a harrowing anti war depiction of the suffering wounded seen through Whitman’s eyes when he volunteered as a nurse during the American civil war; the second is Slavery and its effect upon a run-away slave who fights on the Union side; the third is treachery portrayed by a guilt-laden deserter who spies for the South. And forth, inevitably these days, is the (entirely fictional) homosexual one.

    The powerful music fits the story perfectly and the voices of the lead singers and the chorus is magnificent; Rod Gilfry, bass-baritone, sings the part of Walt Whitman, Alexander Lewis plays John Wormley, the deserter, and Davone Tines, whose baritone reminded me, distinctly, of the sound of the legendary Paul Robeson.  Both Christine and I were extremely moved by the work. We newly discovered Walt Whitman’s poetry, too.

    October 20. Thanks to the invitation of our friend Francia, who is a member, we went to the Diller-Quaile School of Music to listen to a chamber concert given by the Diller-Quaile String Quartet. The program was comprised of Haydn and Debussy quartets; played magnificently by very experienced and talented musicians in an intimate. and perfectly designed, music space. Chatting with the musicians after the concert added to a first class evening.

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Amman to the Dead Sea

Downtown Amman

Downtown Amman

J3Amman is a much more sophisticated city than I imagined. I shouldn’t have been so surprised, the increasingly rapid pace of change caused by the world population explosion primarily affects urban development. Over the last 60 or so years, I have seen communities before the rural flight and afterwards. Many have grown from little more than villages to vast sprawling cities. The rest of Jordan is as I expected, dry, mountainous and nomadic.


Shot from the window of the tourist bus


J2In spite of the pictures above, Amman has plenty of old-world structures left including a Roman amphitheatre right in the middle.

And on a hill overlooking the city, the well looked after remains of a Roman temple and citadel, part of which is a museum housing some quaint ancient artifacts.

. . . . .

. . . . .



J6These odd heads sprouted from one body–whatever was in the ancient artist’s mind, I wonder?

This artist had a sense of humour as well as extraordinary talent

This artist had a sense of humour as well as extraordinary talent

J7The Dead Sea is a prime tourist attraction for Jordan. It is lined with resorts and full of floating bodies, many covered with the rejuvenating salty mud!

Here is a picture of Ethel watching some of them. The wound in her leg prevented her from partaking herself.

. . . . .

. . . . .

Ethel wearing the hat she bought in the Dead Sea resort

Ethel wearing the hat she bought in the Dead Sea resort

J16The art of designing and laying mosaic pictures goes back thousands of years in this part of the world. Here is a relic of an ancient one in the form of a map depicting part of the ‘Silk Road’.  The other is a modern one hanging in a Christian church.16 The two  contemporary artisans are catering to a flourishing tourist trade.J17 Note the enlightened lady’s cell phone on her work bench! If she were wearing the full religious outfit, she woldn’t be able to see the tiny pieces of coloured stone. And she would have to be chaparoned!


3 Responses

  1. Where are the young ladies, Ben?

  2. Thanks for the test Tom. I received an e-mail notice but no “approval” option shortly after the test came up on the blog. You have since activated the ‘approval’ option, I think?

  3. This comment should require approval Ben

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