Elizabeth Weir

Weir travels

Elizabeth Weir

I decided in early 2006 that I'd had enough of the London rat-race and the career thing - at least, for the time being - and that I'd like to take some time out: "me time", as it were; time to do at least some of the things that I'd been thinking about doing over the last few years but hadn't been able to fit in around work and client demands.

So here I am: backpack to the ready (to be honest, it had never really been put away after my '93-'94 round-the-world trip), and a gazillion ideas about how to fill the next xx months..... (And, no, I've no idea when I'll go back to the "real" world, nor what I'd do if/when I get back there. Time enough to figure that one out, I reckon.)

Being an about-to-be-former technology lawyer, I thought I'd better join the 21st century and save you all the trouble of deciphering my handwriting (not to mention saving myself the hassle of writing postcards and negotiating the purchase of stamps). So, if you're interested in what I get up to (edited highlights only, you'll be relieved to hear), do read on....

And I'm still going strong a dozen or so years' later.  Although my peregrinations are now occasionally interrupted by travel-fund-generating activities back at short-lived coalfaces in the UK, travel remains "my thing". Those itchy feet just refuse to be cured.

Oceania » Australia » Western Australia April 20th 2019

So I was going to drive the Nullarbor (see https://www.travelblog.org/Oceania/Australia/Western-Australia/Nullarbor-Plain/blog-1033220.html?fbclid=IwAR3BaUebANjJSC7SQIwGLv88xhkBpdttSZbyQ4nrqYDJcyVlOVb_TUKLHNU)... But, if I were starting from Perth, it would have been positively rude to drive straight across to Norseman, the western end of the Nullarbor, and ignore the much-vaunted picturesqueness of southwestern Western Australia. After all, it’d only add another thousand kilometres or so. From the manmade – lighthouses, jetties and treetop walkways – to the natural – cliffs and caves, beaches and hills, soaring trees and colourful coastal vegetation, malleefowl and cockatoos, and, of course, just a few kangaroos – southwestern Western Australia has it all. And that’s not even taking into account one of its biggest attractions, the Margaret River wineries, which I had alre... read more
Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
Margaret River forest
fragile stalactites

Oceania » Australia » Western Australia » Nullarbor Plain April 19th 2019

“We’ve done it twenty-six times,” the grey-haired retiree next door told me matter-of-factly. “Kids and grandkids in WA,” he added by way of explanation. “People ask us, ‘What do you see out there?’ ‘Australia,’ I tell ’em, ‘we see Australia.’” I’d encountered a similar reaction when I first started talking of driving the Nullarbor, that 1,200 km (745 miles) expanse of barely inhabited country in the middle of the 3,940 km (2,450 miles) between Perth and Sydney. “But why would you wanna do that? There’s nothing there.” “Jeez, have you got enough music?” “Well, I guess, if it’s a ‘bucket list’ kind of a thing…” Yet, since joining some friends in a couple of self-drive trips out of Johannesburg and into Botswana and Zambia in the late 1990s/early 2000s, I’ve had a yen for crossing countries ... read more
view from a Bunda Cliffs viewpoint
late afternoon, day one: close to Caiguna
full population count, Cocklebiddy

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Christchurch March 25th 2019

The women painting the hoarding were wearing headscarves. Practical, maybe, keeping off the sun. But so too were the volunteers working in the Transitional “cardboard” Cathedral. And women in business suits out for their morning coffee. And women pushing prams and out with their friends. Scarves that would usually simply ‘accessorise’ an outfit were now draped over heads, regardless of the wearers’ ethnicity. One week on from a mass shooting that horrified the world, Christchurch was coming together again, as it had done in the aftermath of the seemingly never-ending spate of earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, the prime minister’s words, “We are one. They are us,” very much alive. This wasn’t some kind of ghoulish rubber-necking on my part, though I was painfully conscious of the potential accusation. Since planning my visa-driven long weekend away ... read more
Friday prayers one week on
icons of Christchurch past and present

Africa » Ghana November 28th 2018

This trip was jinxed, or so I thought, still recovering from a duo of lurgies as I lay in an MRI on a Saturday evening five days before my flight. Not to mention the saga of getting a Ghanaian visa, the moral of which is – to save you the gory details, not least of which was the size of my ’phone bill to the High Commission – if in doubt, pay more to get it done fast. You can’t lose, and it beats having the travel agent on standby and almost missing a friend’s Kenyan wedding. This is not a time to be Scottish. So it was with a major degree of self-pinching that I found myself boarding the right flight on the right day, and then, still glowing from the buzz of a spectacular ... read more
scenic football practice area
James Town lighthouse
fishing village

Africa » Burkina Faso » Sud-Ouest November 23rd 2018

The irrepressible moto-tricycle driver Abu would invariably reach our evening’s campsite before us, and, punters distracted by tea and coffee and the prospect of ‘ablutions’, he and the guides would put up our generous-sized lightweight tents, clipping the fabric to the poles so that the tents could be moved around as required. I hate to think how hard it would have been to try and bang a tent peg or two into this hard unforgiving ground. Usually the flysheets would be left to one side – anything to reduce the temperature in the tents by a degree or two – but one evening, cautious of the amount of lightning that had been flickering in the far distance all evening, we put them on. And only just in time. My recollection is that it then rained pretty ... read more
sunrise over our Kounadougou homestay
pottery dancing, Kawara
carrying it high in Banfora

Africa » Burkina Faso » Sud-Ouest November 22nd 2018

The faces shine out at me, as intrigued by us as we are by them. I can hear the drums, the insistent beat, as the women start to move, clay pots balanced precariously on their heads. I feel the heat of the mid-afternoon sun. I can smell the dust, the cooking fires. I laugh at the children, born with the beat in their blood, the youngest barely able to stand but already able to dance. And then my phone beeps, and I’m at my desk in London, shivering in several layers of winter clothing, as I sort through my photographs. But for a few minutes I was there, back in Kawara, watching the laughing faces of the dancers, uncaring about the weight of the pots on their heads, sweat pouring off their faces, and the kids ... read more
pottery dancing, Kawara
Moussono Peaks
granaries in the old 'troglodyte' village

Africa » Burkina Faso » Centre November 10th 2018

Burkina Faso. Not an obvious destination. Not a country that ever hits the headlines, good or bad. Neighbouring Ghana gets the good-news stories, the headline-grabbing presidential and royal visits, the glowing reviews as ‘easy’ Africa. Ghana speaks English, things work (comparatively), and, if not always a paragon of western democracy, it’s at least been free of civil war and third party altercations for much of its sixty years of independence. Nearby Mali and Nigeria get the bad-news stories, the kidnappings, the terrorism, the desecration of history. Burkina Faso is one of those countries in the middle, in every sense. Landlocked, unremarkable, unremarked. Most people needed a map when I mentioned it. And/or looked worriedly at me, wondering aloud or inwardly, “is it safe?”. In terms of pre-trip homework, there was remarkably little. Bradt’s country guide hasn’t ... read more
Naba Koom
pensive sculpture
do you sell oranges?

Africa » Ghana » Northern November 5th 2018

Things don’t always go to plan in Africa, or even as might reasonably be anticipated. The old hands have a couple of acronyms for this: TIAB (this is Africa, baby), or the more fatalistic AWA (Africa wins again). But this can go both ways, and the positives never seem to get much of a name-check. Seeing elephants in Mole National Park was definitely one of the latter. It’s the back end of the wet season here. Water and vegetation are everywhere, so animals disperse; no need to congregate around shrinking resources when there’s an abundance. The chance of seeing anything in the long grass – sometimes 10-12 feet just high at the roadside – let alone in a national park where only a small percentage of the park is accessible and then only when being driven ... read more
shooting the breeze, Mognori village
your boat is waiting...

Africa » Ghana » Volta October 27th 2018

Look at a map of Ghana and you’ll soon spot a spiky body of water towards the east that seems to reach its fingers back west and north, as if probing the country for Ashanti gold. This is Lake Volta, the largest manmade body of water (by surface area anyway) in the world. And it was proving remarkably hard to find. After a couple of days in the lively and colourful Accra, I headed east to the hills that form the border with modern-day Togo. My immediate destination was the Wli Falls, thought to be the highest waterfalls in West Africa. The road there led close to the Lake, or so it appeared from the map, but neither during that journey nor on my unexpectedly arduous six-hour scramble up to (and, more wobblily, back down from) ... read more
Lake Volta from the Accra-Tamale flight
patience is an African way of life
a welcome break in the greenery

Asia » Burma » Southern Burma » Mawlamyine November 26th 2017

Rudyard Kipling spent only a few unscheduled hours in Moulmein (now Mawlamyine), by then the former capital of British Burma, on his way home – via America – from India in 1889, but it nevertheless managed to inspire the opening line of one of his most memorable poems, “Mandalay”. Having first encountered the poem only just before I left the UK, I found it getting under my skin as I travelled around Myanmar almost 130 years’ after Kipling’s visit. “But that’s all shove be’ind me - long ago an’ fur away An’ there ain’t no ’busses runnin’ from the Bank to Mandalay; An’ I'm learnin’ ’ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells: “If you've ’eard the East a-callin’, you won’t never ’eed naught else.”” It felt so resonant for me, as I combine my first ... read more
Kyaikthanian Paya
orchids for sale, Myine Yadanar Zei
colourful bananas, Myine Yadanar Zei

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