There is no ‘bucket list’ - Lynne and I are both well, thank you – but we have arrived at a point in our lives where we have the time, the money and the good health to indulge in a passion for travel. We know how lucky and privileged we are to be able to do this, and we know it won’t last for ever, but while it does…..



Sunday, 23 November 2014

November - and where to spend it

November is not my favourite month. It is still Autumn but the season of mellow fruitfulness has long gone, the leaves changed colour, gave a show for a while but now lie rotting by the roadside.


Leaves lie rotting by the roadside. Betley, Nov 2008
Thomas Hood
National Portrait Gallery, unknown
artist, image from Wikipedia

 

December starts badly, too, but then comes the winter solstice and the start of a slow, painfully slow, improvement. And the Christmas and New year holidays provide a little light relief at the darkest time of the year.

January is at least the start of something new.

February is mercifully short - and spring might be just round the corner, though sometimes it dawdles.

I do like cold, clear, crisp winter days with blue sky above and crunchy white frost below, but you don't get those in November. Without a doubt, November is my twelfth favourite month.

And others feel the same way. Thomas Hood put it nicely almost two hundred years ago.


"November"
 
No sun--no moon!
No morn--no noon!
No dawn--no dusk--no proper time of day--
No sky--no earthly view--
No distance looking blue--

No road--no street--
No "t'other side the way"--
No end to any Row--
No indications where the Crescents go--

No top to any steeple--
No recognitions of familiar people--
No courtesies for showing 'em--
No knowing 'em!

No mail--no post--
No news from any foreign coast--
No park--no ring--no afternoon gentility--
No company--no nobility--

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member--
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,
November!

This year we have spent November at home. I am not complaining, we have ventured abroad four times in 2014, not to mention sundry trips around Britain so I have nothing to complain about - indeed we are very fortunate to be able to travel as often and as far as we do - but that does not change the basic fact: some places get a better deal out of November than Staffordshire.

Here are some photos of several such places, none have appeared in the blog before, either for reasons of space or because they predate it.

Egypt
 
Lynne in the 'White Desert' Farafra Oasis, Egypt
The valley floor is covered with chalk - there is no water down there
In November 2009 we took a trip from Luxor through the oases of the New Valley, then west to Siwa near the Libyan border before turning east along the Mediterranean coast and through the delta to Cairo.

Siwa Oasis, Egypt
Northern Egypt had warm days, but the evenings could be a bit nippy. Further south it was balmy.


On a barchan dune, Kharga Oasis, Egypt
Blown by the wind, these crescent shaped dunes march slowly across the valley floor engulfing anything that stands in their way

China

In November 2010 Kunming, The City of Eternal Spring, failed to live up to its name but our journey through South West China warmed up as we travelled further south. We finished in Guilin with a warm if rather misty trip on the Li River.

On the Li River, Guilin
Even further south in Hong Kong the sun shone brightly and across the estuary in the former Portuguese colony of Macau the temperature was close to the boundary where warm becomes hot.

Portuguese remnants, Macau
Myanmar

November in Myanmar is the start of winter and communities club together to provide new warm cloaks for the monks. That is what they said, but it was no sort of winter we could recognise. Yangon was hot and tropical.

Yangon, hot and steamy (November 2012)

while in the higher lands around Lake Inle it was much cooler - like an English summer's day.

Yawana Village, Lake Inle, Myanmar
Thailand

In Bangkok the heat never lets up, though the few days we spent there in November 2012 were not exactly free from rain.


Lynne goes to visit the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok

Portugal

Even in Europe there are places where November is pleasant. October is a far better month in the Algarve, but I have swum in the Atlantic in November (once) and even on the cooler and windy west coast November is still tee-shirt time.

Praia de Odeceixe, November 2008