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Books about places: Little Princes by Connor Grennan

From the pubs of Ireland last month to the mountains of Nepal, this month I read another first-person non-fiction book, this time about Nepal; which is definitely somewhere that’s on my bucket list. Little Princes is about an American volunteer’s experiences trying to reunite trafficked children with their parents; it’s heart-wrenchingly sad at times but fascinating and taught me a lot about a country I was pretty ignorant about.

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Connor Grennan turned up at a Nepalese orphanage mostly to justify the frivolity of a round-the-world trip (by his own admission) but ended up caring deeply for the children he was looking after, who he was led to believe were orphans.

A chance encounter led to the discovery that one of the children in the orphanage was, in fact, not an orphan but a victim of child trafficking, too scared to tell the truth about his past. It emerged that many of the supposedly orphaned children in Kathmandu and beyond in fact still had living parents, and over a series of visits, by setting up his own non-profit, Connor set out to reunite them.

There’s more than a little bit of Americans-know-best and white-saviour-complex going on in Little Princes, but if you can take that for what it is, it’s an interesting read and a real eye-opener. The civil war that was fought very recently had barely registered on my radar at the time, but Little Princes explains who was fighting whom and why without getting bogged down in too much extraneous detail.

It’s also got some beautiful descriptions of some of the remote mountain villages in Nepal that the children were taken from, and from the complimentary picture that Connor paints of the Nepalese people, I think a trip will definitely have to be on the cards at some point in the future.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I was almost in tears on the flight home from Marrakech when I was reading this book – so maybe don’t crack it open in public if you’re an emotional wreck like me!

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What have you been reading recently? Do you have any suggestions for my books about places series?

Sunday link round-up – 27.03.16

Someone on my Twitter feed last week said that Easter is the best of all the holidays, because you get two bank holidays and a good chunk of time off work, but there are none of the big meal/happy family time/board game expectations of Christmas. I thought it was a very astute observation indeed!

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I hope you’re having a lovely Easter break and stuffing your face with as much chocolate as one human can physically handle, because I believe that’s what it’s all about?

This is what I’ve been enjoying on the internet this week…

  • I always enjoy Desert Island Disks and I caught this one on Friday, in which the castaway is the amazing writer and feminist Gloria Steinem, who was an advocate for reproductive rights (among other things) long before it was socially acceptable. She sounds like a wonderful person and she made some great musical choices too!
  • Megan of Twenty-something Travel wrote about swimming with manatees in Florida, which sounds like a lot of fun – I’ve always wanted to swim with whales in the wild and this may have to go on the bucket list too.
  • Victoria Coren-Mitchell hit the nail on the head with this opinion piece about how there’s no grey area with child abuse
  • On a lighter note, this clay cactus bud vase on A Beautiful Mess is very cute and I’d love to try something similar.
  • And a recent dalliance with beautifully buttery pearl barley in Marrakech has inspired me to try using it in more dishes – starting with this delicious looking pearl barley and roasted beetroot salad from Amuse Your Bouche.

Sunday link round-up – 06.03.16

 

We celebrated Mother’s Day this morning with a brunch at home for my mum and grandma – I’m feeling like a bit of a domestic goddess after successfully making hollandaise sauce from scratch for our eggs benedict. Score! I hope you enjoyed your day as much as I did, whether you were with your mum or not.

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Check out what I’ve been looking at on the interwebs this week below:

  • I adored Serial when it came out last winter, and Jasmine Charlotte’s round-up of similar true crime podcasts is something I can’t wait to get my teeth into.
  • The Night Manager is something I’ve heard people raving about over the last few weeks and I finally got around to watching it – it’s brilliant. Like Bond, but a bit smarter and more understated. Next on my list is Thirteen!
  • Life on the road as a trucker doesn’t exactly appeal to me, but Melissa Rojas, one of the few female truckers on the highways of America is a very interesting lady.
  • I discovered Josie of Sick Chick Chic‘s blog this week and spent a bit of time looking back through her archives – she’s a fashion blogger with Cystic Fybrosis and it’s interesting to learn a bit more about an illness I knew very little about.
  • I love cool design hotels but I don’t often have the dolla dolla to stay in them – Stylist has rounded up a few in Europe with rooms for less than £100 a night and some are even under £60! The picture below is The Daniel in Vienna where doubles start at just £76.
    Daniel, Austria
  • There’s definitely something voyeuristic about me and I adore the Experience series in the guardian, where one person describes an unusual event they’ve experienced. I spent a few hours trawling back through the archives this week, which was time well spent.

Books about places: McCarthy’s Bar by Pete McCarthy

As much as travelling is one of my favourite things to do, I love planning trips and reading about places I might like to go one day almost as much as I like actually going away.

I’m hoping that by reviewing (well, talking about) a book about somewhere different in the world each month I can expand my horizons and read a bit more.

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McCarthy’s Bar, by Pete McCarthy

As I mentioned before, my other half and I are planning a roadtrip around the perimeter of Ireland and Northern Ireland this summer/autumn. We’re planning to take the car across and drive mostly around the edge of the island, but some of the inland bits too, which was why when I spotted this in a charity shop I couldn’t resist.

It’s a first person piece of non-fiction about Pete McCarthy driving aimlessly around Ireland sort of trying to find himself, but mostly just trying to find a pub, and it’s really funny. According to Pete McCarthy:

The Eighth Rule of Travel states: Never Pass a Bar That Has Your Name On It. Other rules include: No. 7, Never Eat in a Restaurant with Laminated Menus; No. 13, Never Ask a British Airways Stewardess for Another Glass of Wine Until She’s Good and Ready; and No. 17, Never Try and Score Dope From Hassidic Jews While Under the Impression They’re Rastafarians.

The book is actually really quite old, it was published in 2000 so a lot of the information is wildly out of date but it’s already inspired my to add a few things to our itinerary – this Buddhist hostel on the edge of Cork with absolutely amazing views…

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And the island of Inis Mor, where you can find this incredible ancient fort, Dún Aonghasa, looking out over the Atlantic ocean.

Dún Aonghasa

It’s very entertaining and a light read that won’t take you long to get through, but it definitely sparked my wanderlust, so a winner for me. For bonus points, I might re-read Round Ireland With a Fridge before we go, and see if it’s really as funny as 12yo me thought it was. I suspect not…

Travel with your tastebuds: Cheat’s smoked salmon ceviche with grapefruit and avocado

I’ve always wanted to go to South America, and I remain confident that I will do someday, but in the meantime ceviche is a pretty excellent way to pretend you’re in Peru. I first tried it at Andina in Shoreditch, had it again recently at Blixen and decided that I had to learn how to make it – the combination of sweet, salty and citrus flavours is absolutely addictive to me.

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