Book Review – The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

A lovely book that is easy to read in the way that Agatha Christie’s and Georges Simenon’s books are. The investigations are fun and engaging without the excessive periods of self-contemplation that characters endure in other books that are deemed intellectual or ‘deep’.

Precious Ramotswe is a straightforward character who likes to help people solve problems in their lives, which is what she does. She gets on with things and finds out the answers in a quick and smart way. She sets up the agency in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, and we get to experience the wonders of this country where the Kalahari Desert is always in their thoughts but is not really somewhere where the people want to go.

Precious tracks down a missing husband (unfortunately) in a crocodile, uncovers a con man, works out why a doctor is so inconsistent in his work, and follows the daughter of a wealthy man (where for once she is out-thought)…and then there is Mr JLB Maketoni…but you will have to read the book yourself to find out what happens there.

9 Greek Islands – Patmos

I have written seven books about the history of places I have travelled to.

I travel because my own father always said he would travel after he’d retired, but he never got the chance because he died from cancer when he was 49. I travel for him when I go to places as well as for myself.

If you are interested in history and / or travel then you should check out these books. Please bear in mind the books are travelogues rather than travel guides and so cover the places I visited and the experiences I had. 

Greek Islands

This book keeps it simple and covers nine Greek Islands: Rhodes, Symi, Patmos, Samos, Syros, Paros, Tinos, Delos, and Mykonos. They are all different and all lovely.

This is an excerpt on Patmos.

I was lucky enough to see a Greek Orthodox service at the Apokalypsis monastery, only attended by local people. If you’re used to Catholic services then the Greek Orthodox version might well seem rather informal. The priest wore a white ‘dress’ decorated with Greek crosses. He had a large, bushy grey beard and hair to match. He spent most of the service in an inner room chanting while two men, members of the congregation not garbed in priestly attire but definitely part of the service, on the opposite side of the inner half of the chapel were counterpoint to his chants. People attending the service had lit candles when coming in to the chapel, but these were replaced every 10 minutes by one of the two men helping to run the service, who would replace each thrown-away candle with a new one. There were a few chairs in the inner part of the chapel and there was no music, the only sounds were the three human voices.

Periodically, worshippers would walk around the icons kissing each one in turn and then either kissing or running their prayer beads over the beaten silver surrounding the two gaps in the rock used by St John. At no time were all the people still. The priest spoke rapidly in a near whisper, his voice carrying around the chapel easily, but there was never any reply from the congregation as a whole, just from the two men. Theirs was the only sound I could hear – there was no noise from outside.

Occasionally, the priest came out of his inner sanctum with a senser full of incense. He lifted this towards the congregation three times and also wafted it out of the window as if in blessing nature. The incense momentarily blurred the icons in my line of sight and my nostrils breathed in the holy smell (some other word!). Some new worshippers prostrated themselves in front of one of the icons whilst others prayed and stayed where they were. There was always movement with people coming in and out of the chapel, lighting candles, praying, kissing icons, and touching the beaten silver. At no time did people talk amongst themselves.

After about an hour the priest gave the sacrament to all those who queued up to receive it. One of the priest’s helpers re-arranged the candles and threw most of them away as they’d almost all burned down to the sand in the container they were standing in. The final act was for the priest to hand out bread to all the worshippers as they were leaving the chapel. He then changed into black attire and strode confidently out of the chapel while listening to half-a-dozen people who were following him. The whole service lasted an hour and 20 minutes. 

Bio: I am a writer. I love writing creatively especially about subjects such as British traditions, where my made-up traditions are no less ridiculous than the real thing. A list of my books, both fictional and factual (about travel), can be found here.

Quick travel stories

This book should give you something to smile about when you’re at home longing for a little bit of escapism. You can still travel with books like this one.

All the stories are distinct and can be read independently; this is a book for the stay-at-home-traveller who has a spare five or ten minutes to discover the secrets of Vancouver, Cape Town and the Baltic countries, while sitting in their other favourite armchair.
Visit Vancouver and its surrounding areas – go hiking in rain forest twenty minutes from the downtown core, catch the ferry to the Sunshine Coast – you can’t get there by road – and tour Victoria the capital of British Columbia. 

Next travel to Cape Town with its colourful history, encapsulated in the ethnically diverse Bo Kaap district. In this part of Cape Town the coloured houses are even more breathtaking than the views of Table Mountain. Read about the conversations you could have in the market in Cape Town’s Greenmarket Square. 
Finally, journey to the independent countries of the Baltic and discover the splendid churches of the capitals Tallinn and Riga where the architecture is breathtaking and the number of tourists is still relatively few.
Bio: I am a writer. I love writing creatively especially about subjects such as British traditions, where my made-up traditions are no less ridiculous than the real thing. A list of my books, both fictional and factual (about travel), can be found here.
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