It is not much fun reading newspapers and watching news bulletins these days. A grand coalition of thugs and fools seems to be taking over the planet, with Vlad the Bootin and Don O’Trumpet noisily occupying much public space at the end of a horrendous year. The Chinese are angry, the Swedish are re-arming, the Syrians seem bent on wiping out as many people as possible in their endless civil war while the forces of progressive, enlightened and justice-seeking humanity seem to have gone underground. We are stumbling from Brexit in 2016 towards a year in which another nationalist demagogue appears likely to make the running in the French presidential election… Maybe it is time to call these setbacks inspired by prejudiced, self-interested politicians for the disasters they are… if we take a brief look back at the history of the 20th Century then we must conclude that Nazis and their allies are not people fit to run the affairs of nations, unless what we want are mass exterminations, fear and the terror of war.
I am reminded that a significant factor which has driven the planet towards the mess we are in, was the neo-con response to the attacks on New York City and Washington in September 2001. If we allow the delicate relations between heavily armed but decaying states in various parts of the world to be under the influence of the Dick Cheneys, Donald Rumsfeldts and Tony Blairs of this world, then we deserve all the misery we get. Once again, history offers plenty of lessons about how to support civil society and people’s demands for peaceful change – such as in the months leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 – as alternatives to the destructive fury of dictators. I lament the sad fate of the Arab spring and the disruption that has engulfed the Middle East, but rejoice at the resolution of other conflicts such as “the troubles” in Northern Ireland and at the decline and fall of militarised madmen in such places as Chile, Myanmar and Indonesia.
Seeking inspiration I retreat into my caravan, back on the road again. I have been very lucky in the past 20 years or so to have been able to escape from time to time. Our holidays have been great opportunities to explore the fantastic beauty of the planet. A good example was in 2013, when we arranged a trip to the North Yorkshire Moors, not an area of the (dis)United Kingdom that I was familiar with. It turned out to be a very attractive region as I hope the following images illustrate.
Rooftops at Robin Hood’s Bay – the white patches are guano!
The coast north of the Bay – great for walking…
By a beck in a valley near Goathland
A steam train on the scenic railway across the Moors
The Hillside Farm near Staintondale – an idyllic spot!
York Minster – a giant cathedral too big to photograph!