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.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

PASSAGE FROM INDIA - Delhi dawn to snowy Durham with smelly jeans and champagne, 1977

[This surreal day began in Delhi, with my guardian angel (in the form of seasoned overland driver John) driving me out to the airport in his bus, and ended in snow-bound Durham in the North East of England.  Nothing prepares for the feeling of dislocation that air travel brings - a journey that had taken over 3 months by bus, was unravelled in a day.  I remember two teenage girls holding their noses when I went down the aeroplane aisle, which reminded me how long my jeans and I had been roughing it.  The British Council official whom I sat beside was far too gentlemanly to complain - so polite in fact that he failed to point out that for half the journey I wore my radio headphones up-side-down over my head rather than dangling like a stethoscope!  And then I was back in the warm embrace of the family; euphoric, babbling and punch-drunk with exhaustion but very happy to be there.  I would never be the same teenager who had set off from Durham the previous autumn and waves of nostalgia for Asia would hit me in months and years to come; but for now there was champagne, food and family around the kitchen table - and at last I was home.]


"Up at 4.0!  Packed and had toast and coffee.  John drove me in the bus; had tea at airport - checked in.  Unclaimed black bag near us!  We told 4 people, including Security, but not bothered!  John and Bob are taking the bus off today - making for Europe in 4 weeks - will be freezing trip eg Turkey minus 40 degrees at night!  Offered me a lift back and pay at other end if got stuck - nearly had to take it!

Security checks etc - finally on plane.  Next to nice ex-British Council man (like Hoppy [Canon Hopkins of Durham Cathedral] though not quite as vague!)  accompanying nice little lad back to school.  Told him of my adventure - he took half of journey working out the length of the journey!

Stopped at Barhain - swarthy blokes with cloths wrapped round heads and in jumpsuits came on board - no not a high-jack - they were the cleaners!  From plane saw Gulf and flat beaches, low buildings - all very oily and drab.  Landed at Damascus - armed guard, took ages for people to board.  Flat wasteland all around; but when took off saw great snow-capped mountains - flew over Lebanon and then Turkey.

Landed at Heathrow an hour late - journey taken about 13 and a half hours!  At Heathrow after customs etc, got bus to Terminus 1 and picked up money plus ticket for Newcastle.  Missed original flight.  Suddenly the loudspeaker boomed my name and ordered me to Information; feeling important but afraid I went - it was Mum and Dad wondering why I wasn't on plane!  I must be the most well-known lost traveller in the whole air flight business!

Had much needed half pint.  Plane late (so what' new!)  Onto plane finally - ordered Martini and fell asleep, woke to hear we're about to land!  No time for drink.  Hostress asked me if I was feeling alright.

Dad and Don [eldest brother] to greet me - in their Russian coats!  Snow thick on ground.  As drove home - told of great Delhi saga!  Mum and Barbara [sister-in-law] waiting.  Don and Barbara opened champagne for me.  Debbie [school friend] rang!  Flowers from Jock [Durham friend] and card from "the whole damn bunch"!  Torq [brother] phoned; just missed them.  Phoned Rory and Uncle Donald.

Wine with slap-up meal.  Gave presents - much concern over beedies - obviously hash at least.  Don said when you get to the string you bail out!  (Dad smoked the wrong end!)  After 26 hours finally fell into bed!  Adventure over !!!"