Wish You Were Here

 

A Winter’s Tale

In Britain, we are thrice blessed. We have gifted our language, crafted by Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens and countless others, to the world to the extent that it is now the international lingua franca of business.

 

We have gifted our model of parliamentary democracy to the world so that for the many countries of the Commonwealth Westminster is the Mother of Parliaments.

 

And we have the weather. Without which, what on earth would we talk about? Our temperate climate means that we, quite literally, don’t know what to expect from one day to the next. But look at this wintry scene with low sun and marvel. Is it any wonder we produced artists of the calibre of Turner?

 

Where’s Mum Gone?

She’s gone to Iceland, apparently… and who can blame her? The land of ice and fire offers such striking vistas as this, thanks to its glacial and volcanic formation. This is a geothermal smoking field (no, that doesn’t mean a field where you permitted to light up a cigarette). 

 

Here in the interior, you’ll find Kerlingafjoll mountain, in the shadow of Hofsjokull glacier. The mountains are haunted by the spirit of a troll. Not someone who attacks people on the internet but the ugly, goat-guzzling kind. So be careful. 

 

If you can overcome your trollophobia, you’ll be rewarded with incredible mountain scenery, with canyons, passes, glaciers and active geothermal fields. The region is popular with Icelanders in winter, as a ski destination.

 

African queen

We speak, of course, of the hippo. Fascinatingly, hippos kill more people each year than lions, elephants, leopards, buffaloes and rhinos combined. Who’da thunk it? 

 

This specimen can be seen in the Great Rift Valley, an ancient formation that is home to some of the oldest, largest and deepest lakes in the world — including the three largest lakes in Africa, Victoria, Tanganyika and Malawi. 

 

If you visit, just make sure you are respectful to those crazy killer hippos…

 

Close, but no cigar

Actually, what the hell are we talking about? One thing you will find in abundance in Havana is the cigar, traditionally hand-rolled on the thigh of some local beauty. Or that is how the urban myth has it…

 

Before the revolution, Cuba — like many Caribbean islands —was a playground for wealthy Americans, and there are those that predict a return after the death of Fidel Castro. Whatever your politics, and your view of the old rascal, something unique will die along with him. If Cuba is on your bucket list, take our advice and visit sooner rather than later…