Yesterday afternoon whilst walking Maud and Billy, my thoughts turned to the troubles in Pakistan, and I remembered a wonderful trip we took there three years ago, and I felt so sad thinking of all the turmoil within the country now, and how possibly some of the places we visited would be off the tourist trail for many years to come.
We drove in a 1969 MGB 3A from Ialamabad to Calcutta, via Peshawar, the Khyber Pass, Lahore, Amritsar, along the Indian Hill Stations, starting with Shimla, to Rishikesh, into Nepal to Pokhara to Kathmandu, to Darjeeling, and down to Calcutta. There were 18 cars, all old models, some Bentleys, Rolls-Royces, a Corvette, a DB4 and I can't remember the rest! It was the most wonderful trip, Pakistan particularly really got under my skin. It is a beautiful country, a country of contrasts, in some places almost biblical, out in the countryside there was little mechanisation and it seemed as if nothing had changed for thousands of years. Everyone was so charming to us and even right out in the wilds, we never felt threatened or unsafe. We went up the Khyber Pass on a steam train, which was an amazing experience, and the scenes were so like the pictures we see now on the television where they are fighting the Taliban. We went right up to the border with Afghanistan, and saw the lorries snaking along the mountain passes into that country. We visited a manned fort near he border, where the army kept watch and now I realise that probably noone will be allowed to do that again. The scenery was staggerigly wild and beautiful, like nothing I had seen before. I shall always remember the amazing hospitality, the delicious food, the beauty of the countryside and feel sad for this wonderful country and its uncertain future.
I think the dogs were annoyed with me being pre-occupied with my thoughts, and suddenly created a diversion. With a great flapping of wings, a heron rose out of the stream by our field, and the dogs took off after it. Even though it became airborne in slow motion, they had no hope of catching it. No walk is complete without the appearance of some amazing birdlife. We have herons, green woodpeckers, jays, and buzzards - it is truly paradise around here. I do feel so lucky to live here.
I think it is time now for a gin and tonic, a dish of olives and Andy Murray playing at Wimbledon. It is another glorious summer evening.
19 hours ago