Welcome from Jan

Hi there!
This blog is for those who love both books and travel. I'm starting by travelling back in time to the 1970s and the overland trail to India which I took as an 18 year old. Have a look at my daily diary entries and photos. Some of these places are impossible to visit at the moment, but I can give you a flavour of what they were like in the golden age of the hippy trail.

The experience has inspired my new mystery novel, THE VANISHING OF RUTH, which is out now as an ebook. Find details and extracts at The Vanishing of Ruth

To buy: The Vanishing of Ruth

Also take a look at Facebook Page Overlanders for more memorabilia.

Cheers, Jan.

Friday, 12 February 2010

19th BIRTHDAY IN DELHI - no money, no ticket, just Spike Milligan and brother Rory to cheer me up! 1977

[It was day 10 in Delhi with the last of our money running out, a ticket for Nikki but none for me  - just another useless telex from Asian Greyhound telling me to go to the post office for the non-existent ticket (we had gone to the post office so often they had tea and chapattis waiting for us) - and it was my birthday!  The thought of Nikki flying away the next day and being left alone with no way home, brought me to the lowest ebb - so I booked an international phone call home.  It must seem extraordinary to those brought up in the age of mobiles and Internet to wonder how this could be such a major event, but this was the era when telex was the eighth wonder of the world.  My parents (coping with the aftermath of Granny's death) were not at home, but luckily I got brother Rory, who was trying to finish an essay before returning to college, and a little surprised to get a hysterical outpouring from his sister in India.  He was the hero of the hour.]

Rory piping with his daughter Lorna on Skye, 2009


"My birthday!  Nikki got call from the Embassy saying £100 available in rupees because of irate telex from the Foreign Office, but must draw all at once and not convertible to dollars or pounds again! [So we never made trip out to Embassy]

Went to Ariana [Afghan Airways] - Nikki's P.T.A for new ticket come!  Flight Sunday morning 7.30!  No ticket for me.

Nikki went a bought me a card and I bought Spike Milligan book.  Decided to collect cases from airport.  Very upsetting to go there and not fly!  Felt miserable.

Back in afternoon to B.A - yet another telex saying Mrs Flynn [of Asian Greyhound] says go to Post Office [for ticket]!  Burst into tears!  Couldn't stop or be cheered up.  Decided to ring home.  Booked a call through - got [brother] Rory - asked him to get Dad to buy ticket in London today - urgent, no money etc - felt better for call."

Thursday, 11 February 2010


[Having been euphoric the day before with promises of tickets home, it turned out to be false in my case and complicated in Nikki's.  The British Embassy were as helpful as a chocolate fire-guard.  We spent precious money travelling out to the luxurious area of New Delhi where our diplomats lived to be told by a brusque officer that he would be out of sight and out of mind over the weekend, so not to bother him.  It was a day of hassle - and my last one as an eighteen year old!]


"New telegram for Nikki - she must go to Ariana [Afghan Airways] for ticket!  Went and saw a very unhelpful young bloke - ticket has to be blacklisted in Kabul before a new one issued!  My ticket not here.  Nikki decided to ring home that evening - felt better for it.

Also went to British Embassy to collect Nikki's money that father had arranged - very unhelpful - would give nothing, no money for travellers.  They would only fly people home if destitute - if there was no one at home to pay; they would disown then repatriate! [This meant having your passport revoked]  Any money leant had to be repaid before left the country!

Taxi took us to the wrong post office, so nearly had stand up fight with driver because we refused to pay full fair.  No tickets again."

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

DELHI DESIGNERS - we are models of Indian hippy clothes for a day! 1977

[For a day we became models and advisors for a small Delhi clothing business that was selling to the hippy market in Germany.  The best part was being invited into an ordinary family home with a view over the rooftops and given a delicious Indian lunch.  And there was good news to follow ...]


"Had breakfast [in the YMCA] with Bali, the Sikh.  Went to his room and Nikki tried on different fashions - very attractive and original designs.  Took us to his "factory" - his own family house in side streets of Delhi.  Lots of family help in the business.  Went to room at top with nice patio - great view over street below and roof tops of Delhi.  Nice white-washed walls.

Nikki tried on loads of clothes and I gave advice!  Lots had to be altered slightly - brother, cousin and designer all there too!  (I tried on nice maxi cheese-cloth dress for fun).

Afterwards we had tea on patio, then lunch below - sister-in-law made lovely meal of curd, curried cauliflower, curried tiny beans, chapatis and salad.  Then Bali directed us to B.A from his house.

No news.  Back to hotel - reading when phone went - B.A said tickets should be here tomorrow!  Nikki has money at High Commission if necessary!  Celebrated with sundaes at "Kwalitys"!

Monday, 8 February 2010

DELHI - samosas with postmen, Tamla Motown and Indian whisky to drown bad news, 1977

[Thanks to the help of the B.A staff, word was finally filtering back home that we were stranded in Delhi.  But they feared that the reason I hadn't heard from my granny was that she had died.  Worse still, they couldn't confirm if this was true.  My grandmother, Sydney Easterbrook, had gone out to India from Scotland in 1923 to marry forester Bob Gorrie, and they had lived there until the Second World War.  Granny was one of the inspirations behind my trip east.  Now like the elderly enigmatic Mrs Moore in Passage to India (another inspiration for going to India), it was possible she was dead.
So we 'attacked' the whisky to drown our sorrows ...]


"Happy Birthday Ank! [youngest brother Angus]  At breakfast a Sikh came to our table and asked us to model his clothes, so could guarantee right size - he sells to boutiques in Germany - we certainly meet all sorts in this place!!!

Went to B.A - nothing.  Went to GPO - they're so used to us, today we were given sweet tea and chapatis wrapped round potato samosas (potato in batter)!  Cheerful fella warmed chapatis over small electric fire!  Must be the only tourists to have done this - probably the only ones to penetrate so far!  Nice middle-aged man gave us address of Foreign P.O and told us to try there in case mail had been insured. 

Off we went in a rickshaw for miles, racing with traffic far beyond the confines of Connaught Place!  Hassled away with Indian and weren't understood very well - 2 blokes helping - said had no access unless we had registered number etc.  Discovered this wasn't foreign mail!  Went to building behind - same story.

Back to centre - cheered ourselves in record shop by listening to Tamla Motown L.P!!  Then found really good Penguin bookshop and browsed in there for a while.

Back to B.A - telex for Nikki telling her to go and check GPO!  Several for me - no reply from Granny.  They in touch finally with parents.  Dad sent cheque for ticket - then horrible news that Granny may be dead.  No confirmation - felt very upset.  Can't stop thinking of it - what can be happening at home?  To be stuck in this place because of Asian Greyhound inefficiency and to have no news from home!  Very anxious and miserable.

We attacked the bottle of whisky bought for New Year - drank half of it before supper - took mind off worries.  Went down to dining room giggling and wearing new tops.  Waiter in good mood tonight."