Smelling the Breezes/On Travel

When Smelling the Breezes: A Journey through the High Lebanon in 1957 by Ralph and Molly Izzard, arrived on my doorstep I wasn’t prepared for such an amazing journey, not just through the 300-mile walk along the spine of Lebanon, but the realisation, that at a time as recently as 1957 the world, and the Middle-East seemed so much more a safer and welcoming place.  I love great travel books, and I often wonder if the late 1950s was our last period of true freedom where so many people picked up and set out to wander and explore the world around us before technology and politics interfered, making our world a much smaller place where we can explore from our armchairs.

Setting off from their home in Beirut with their four children, two donkeys and their friend-come-gardener/nursemaid Elias, the Izzards set off on a final adventure before leaving the province due to changes in political and employment climates complete with dinner service and glassware, which I did find amusing.  Although, seemingly completely unaware of the burdens of the journey ahead the Izzards venture into the highlands of the Lebanese landscape, which not only encapsulates the Graeco-Roman worlds but embodies still the Abrahamic religions of the past few thousand years, and provides a fascinating insight into not just the culture of 1950s Lebanon, but also the culture and attitudes of those who lived there at that time.  I was surprised at the generosity of the people the Izzards encountered on their journey, and also the uncanny ability to locate a coffee shop at every quarter.  However, one of the most endearing characteristics of Smelling the Breezes is the ability to take the reader along with them on their journey, in many ways, I almost felt a part of the family a number of times throughout the book.

The afterword, written by author and Eland Publisher, Barnaby Rogerson, provides a fascinating insight into the lives of the Izzards, which adds a greater detail to the adventure they upon in Smelling the Breezes, and which in itself highlights the influential figures both Ralph and Molly were. Smelling the Breezes: A Journey through the High Lebanon in 1957 is a tale not just of a family journey, but an adventure exploring a world where all things meet.  Truly remarkable!

  • Smelling the Breezes: A Journey through the High Lebanon in 1957 by Ralph and Mollie Izzard is published by Eland Books (£14.99). To order a copy go to www.travelbooks.co.uk

On Travel and the Journey Through Life by Barnaby Rogerson

One of the wonderful things about reading travel books is the enormity of reading the world around you, and a world that has since disappeared, each one a snapshot of every footstep humans have taken not just through recent history, but also a distant past in which many cultures still claim to embrace.  The travellers we read of, taking us on their journeys have not only entertained and educated us but inspired generations of travellers to follow in their footsteps, and in On Travel and the Journey Through Life, author Barnaby Rogerson has collected a number of quotes from many of these writers to inspire new generations again.

On Travel and the Journey Through Life is lovingly collected and charmingly illustrated by artist Kate Boxer, which adds to the charm of this collection of inspirational quotes, wise words and tips for what you may encounter on your travels. On Travel and the Journey Through Life in many respects may look like a pocketbook that the reader can dip in and out of, but as any reader of travel books will know, each page can bring a new adventure and with a book of quotes from some of history’s more renown travellers, explorers and thinkers we can take bite-size chunks of their travels with us wherever we go.

On Travel and the Journey Through Life is a wonderful addition to Eland’s catalogue and one that many can identify with the quotes and passages contained within, and being released as part of Eland’s 40th anniversary, it only leaves me to say, Happy anniversary Eland!

  • On Travel and the Journey Through Life by Barnaby Rogerson is published by Eland Books (£9.99). To order a copy go to www.travelbooks.co.uk

Tom Stanger
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Founder and Editor of Pilgrim House, currently researching folklore and early Welsh Christianity and curator of the archives of the lost village of Pontyddim.

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