The age old questions

TRAVELS WITH EPICURUS: MEDITATIONS FROM A GREEK ISLAND ON THE PLEASURES OF OLD AGE BY DANIEL KLEIN

EPICURUS

This is a charming, escapist travelogue memoir by best-selling author Daniel Klein. We follow him as he packs a suitcase full of books by his favoured philosophers (Epicurus, Sartre) and travels to the Greek Island of Hydra to contemplate life’s big questions. Hanging out with the local old folk and immersing himself in ancient philosophies, and even the lyrics of Frank Sinatra, Klein tries to figure out whether it is better to try to remain forever young or to grow old authentically.

This is a guide to living well in old age for the modern age. At a time when the world is youth-obsessed and where many try to delay the arrival of old age by remaining active and setting goals, this books offers a welcome alternative. Epicurus believed that old age was the pinnacle of life, the best it gets, once we free ourselves from the prison of everyday affairs. In going from forever young to old old age, Klein, like Epicurus, believes that we miss out on the chance to be a fulfilled old person “docked in the harbour, having safeguarded his true happiness.”

As Klein adds: “Old people do not have to fret about their next move because the Chess game is over. They are free to think about any damned thing they choose.” Sitting, thinking, meditating and just being idle is advocated throughout this lovely book. Continue reading

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Pleasing final mooring in canal boat trilogy

NARROW DOG TO WIGAN PIER BY TERRY DARLINGTON

The final part of the Narrow Dog trilogy sees pensioners Terry and Monica Darlington and their two whippets heading north on their latest boating adventure. Their previous tales took them across the Channel to France (Narrow Dog to Carcassone) and through America (Narrow Dog to Indian River).narrowdog

All three of these books are beautifully written and witty affairs. At worst you could call them whimsical. In Narrow Dog to Wigan Pier we follow this eccentric bunch on their new boat the Phyllis May 2 (the original Phyllis May canal boat having perished in a fire) as they sail to Liverpool, Lancaster, York, the Pennines and finally to Wigan Pier. Continue reading

Taking it slow

THE IDLE TRAVELLER: THE ART OF SLOW TRAVEL  BY DAN KIERAN

Whilst travelling idly through Berkshire en route to a wedding recently, I happened upon the fabulous Hungerford Bookshop. It’s an exciting modern cavern of new and old titles that is unfortunately such a rarity these days. And that is where I got my hands on this great little paperback. Enticed by the cover art and the fact that we were travelling idly at the time, I snapped it up and read it in the garden during this weekend’s heat wave.idle traveller

The author, Dan Kieran, is a travel writer and is perhaps best known as the only such writer who does not fly. Instead he chooses to get places slowly and discover all manner of people, landscapes and life along the way. In this book he describes various slow journeys he has made – to a wedding in Poland, inter-railing around Europe in his twenties, to the surroundings on his doorstep in West Sussex and to Land’s End on a milk float with a top speed of 15mph! Continue reading