Our book group meets once a month at the new Katoomba Library. Every second meeting we discuss one of the books on our reading list; the intervening months are for whatever we decide to talk about.
Travel was our theme this time. Our brief was to take the group to a foreign country, via actual experience or books or wish fulfilment!
Nick talked about going to Cyprus on holidays as a kid, the swimming in summer and skiing in winter, the smell of orange blossom as they drove past orchards, nicking grapes from vineyards they passed; and he read a little from Lawrence Durrell’s Bitter Lemons.
Barbara went to Antarctica. She flew first to Ushuaia on the southern tip of Patagonia, boarding a boat there for Antarctica. Scientists aboard the boat, all specialists in their fields, gave talks on the way down. Barbara was amazed to see some people choosing to swim in the freezing waters. She loved the landscape and the animal life. The Antarctic: an anthology edited by Francis Spufford , and Just Tell Them I Survived: women in Antarctica, by Robin Burns were two books she referred us to.
Laurel had an eventful time in New York, arriving just before Hurricane Sandy blew through, and a massive crane fell amongst high-rise buildings, causing mass evacuations, delayed flights out and so on. But she experienced NY as fascinating, the locals friendly and polite.
Anne went to Egypt via a writer she listened to at the Adelaide Writers Festival. Ahdaf Soveif was there to talk about her books, and about the revolution in 2011, the gatherings in Tahrir Square, how Egyptian people are processing the changes. Anne referred us to The Map of Love by this author.
Alex decided to have an adventure in 1982. She wanted to see those ‘wild men of Borneo’, the Iban tribe, at Kuching in southern Borneo. She went first to Brunei, then travelled south for a jungle tour through dense rainforest. She remembers living in longhouses for 5 days, and scary encounters, and terrifying bridges. She referred us to The Isles of Spice, by Frank Clune.
Alan decided to go to Death Valley last year. From Las Vegas he drove the 150 miles west, to what is in summer the hottest place in the USA. Highlights were Zabriski Point, Badwater Basin 282 feet below sea level, and the Devil’s Golf Course.
Nicole has since childhood been fascinated by Greek mythology, and would love specifically to go to the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, built at Delphi in 480 BC. This became the site of the famous Oracle of Delphi, and this is where Nicole would most like to go. She referred us to The Oracle, by William J Broad.
Di went to the volcanic Lord Howe Island, as part of a weeding group. She talked of the beauty of the island, Mt Gower, the coral reefs, the bird life, and also the multitude of pests: rats, pigs, etc. The industry most are involved with there is the production and sale of Kentia Palms.
Alison went to Spain in 2011, to climb the mountains of the Alpujarra and Sierra Nevada in south-eastern Spain; flying then to Barcelona, with its buildings by Gaudi, and its Merce festival full of drumming and fireworks.Books to read: Homage to Barcelona, by Colm Toibin; Spain, by Jan Morris; A Parrot in the Pepper Tree, by Chris Stewart.