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.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

LAST DAY IN DELHI - milkshakes, whisky and full moon levitating, 1977

[Day 13 in Delhi and lucky for some - my ticket home finally comes through.  I celebrate with ice cream milkshakes on John's bus and have deep spiritual conversations with a levitating French Canadian (though my euphoria might have more to do with Bill and Shirley's Indian whisky).  And there's a final trip to my local - the Imperial Hotel - for my last evening in India.]


"P.T.A came!  Bob, Margaret and Arthur on bus.  Had big ice cream milk shakes from Ramble (open-air) Restaurant again.  At 1.0 got ticket in my possession!  Flight for 7.0 next morning.  Went and found out bus times but John offered to drive me.

Ceylonese passenger came and plagued them again - always discovering he needs some other visa - gave them bag of Ceylonese tea (obviously backsheesh because he asked for a reduced fare!)  All street sellers came round bus - especially little orange seller - she's a real actress and businesswoman - looking much better off and charging more than when we came through Delhi the first time!  Someone tried to polish my shoes (as usual!)

Shirl and Bill appeared.  Went to their hotel - Indian whisky this time!  Chatted with French Canadian - really fascinating about Tibetan people in Ladakh-Kashmir and the Lamaist religion.  He was present at the Dalai Lama's performance of enlightenment and he communicated his thoughts to the lamas and 100 visitors chosen around him. (At the same time Mao died!  'He extinguished the almost exhausted candle' as the Canadian put it.  Great nationalist desire of Tibetans to regain their country.  He said it was easier to meditate in the mountains - eg concentrate on a full moon till eyes are filled with the light of the moon, then feel self lighter and think of many things.  Lamas achieve levitation - sit in bricked in rooms etc.  Lamas are chosen from birth - as babes on the 49th day).

They walked me back.  Went for a quick drink with John at the Imperial."

Friday, 19 February 2010

DURHAM CALLING DELHI - breakthrough phone call, Swaggies bearing whisky and Tandoori celebration, 1977

[Day 12 stranded in Delhi but things are looking up: contact is made with home, a ticket is on its way and I bump into 2 old friends from the overland trip, Canadians Shirley and Bill.  Once again the overland drivers of Connaught Place treat me as one of the fraternity and John keeps me fed and watered.]

Bill and Shirley, fellow Swaggies from Canada, 1976


" Call came through at 7.0.  Got Dad and told him to buy ticket, said Mum would buy it in Edinburgh. Relief!  Had breakfast with John.  Dad called again!  Said ticket would be to Newcastle plus £25 to cover costs.  Had to disengage from blatant proposals of Bali!  Even after 6 years in Germany he still has warped view of western women. 

Went to B.A and told them good news.  Sat on bus again.  Nice co-driver Bob appeared - amusing.  Margaret came with me to see if P.T.A through.  No!  Guess who saw crossing road - Shirl and Bill!! [fellow Swaggies from bus trip]  Ran after them - big welcome.  Went to Palace Heights were they were staying and sat on terrace waiting for them with various of the patrons - nice bunch - good looking too!  Saw S & B's room - really nice and big, clean with beds, tables, phone, toilet etc for less than YMCA.  Finished their Haig with them!

Got back - walked across park in Connaught Circus - huge fountains spraying me, Indian music - all rather festive.  John took me out to Embassy Restaurant for a meal - had Tandoori Chicken - nice.  Went for drink at Imperial - "the local"!"

Monday, 15 February 2010


[With Nikki gone I was feeling very bereft until I met John, an overland driver, at the YMCA.  He showed great kindness taking the stranded Swaggie under his wing and introducing me to the camaraderie of overland drivers in Connaught Place.  Rosy Pelican beer helped keep up morale in the wait for a ticket and fruitless attempts to get phone calls home.]


"Nikki got up at 5.30 - had breakfast in room before left - said a sleepy goodbye.  Muggins on her own now!  Went down to breakfast.  Bali beckoned me to his table.  Introduced me to John - an overland driver, 29.  Chatted on about [Asian] Greyhound.  He's got 2 buses - been doing Overland trips for 6 years - when things were really primitive.  Invited me to drop in at bus if wanted.

Called at B.A to see if P.T.A come.  No.  Sikh asked me to come for a beer, but I didn't go.  Went and sat on John's bus in Connaught Circus (after changing rooms [in YMCA] for a single).  All Overland buses park here and all visit each other and chat.  Met some nice drivers - Margaret and Arthur (Sunshine Bus), a boozy Aussie - Dennis, who had a mini bus; Barry hash smoker, Ernie - cockney given to exaggeration.

Went back to see if any message.  Called Durham - but all away at funeral - student wouldn't accept charges, but gathered brother there this evening.  John took me out for a drink at the Imperial Hotel after supper - had Rosy Pelican beer - quiet strong and sweet.  Very pleasant.  Booked call to England for 11.45. 

Got back - couldn't get through - waited till 3.30 in morning.  Slimy attendant waited with me - offered to pay my fare home !! plus any of my expenses - warned me off John - said might leave me high and dry, wanted to know if he was my boyfriend - so I used him as excuse to refuse his attentions.  He pursued me [down corridors saying had keys to all rooms] but I was too quick for him!"