On Finding My Great Uncle’s Grave

My great uncle's grave from anneharrison.com.au

On the 8th September 1916, my great-uncle died from wounds sustained during the Battle of the Somme. Second Lieutenant Henry Byron, 1st/5th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment, was twenty-two. His brother – my grandfather – enlisted at the age of fourteen, had a kidney shot out in Ypres, contracted TB while convalescing, and was shipped home with six months to live. Deciding escape was the only way to survive the miasmas of war-time Liverpool, he worked his way to Australia, jumped shipped in Perth, and died at the age of ninety two. He could never bring himself to return to France and visit his beloved brother’s grave – my daughter and I were the first in the family to do so.

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Finding Old Shanghai

Old Shanghai from anneharrison.com.au

 

Once known as ‘The Pearl of the Orient’, Shanghai is now a meld of Blade Runner, Gotham City and The Jetsons. From the airport The Maglev, (the world’s fastest train), races at 430 km/hr into a city where the number of high-rises beggars the imagination. Cars drive through a sea of buildings scraping the sky, along multi-lane highways floating through the air to merge with massive overpasses. A hover-jet would not be out of place. By midday, the sun becomes an orange ball floating behind a haze of smog.

Yet Shanghai began life as a small fishing village nestled on the banks of the Huang Pu River, near where it flows into the mighty Yangtze. Despite her now gargantuan size, parts of the old town are still to be found – although they are rapidly vanishing. As the city rushes into the future, land is proving too expensive to preserve the past.

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Aesculapius In Rome

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In the middle of the Tiber lies the picturesque Isola Tiberina. Even today the island remains an oasis in the chaos of modern Rome. On one side of the island lies the still medieval neighbourhood of Trastevere; on the other it’s but a short walk to the Colosseum and Forum.

The Isola Tiberina embraces two millennia of Roman history, for it has been important to Rome from her beginnings as a small river-side settlement through to her growth into the Eternal City. Founded in myth in and legend, the foundations of the island date back to the Iron Age – long before Romulus and Remus were mothered by their She-wolf.

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From A Paris Balcony by Ernest Dimnet – A Review

writing pictures0003From A Paris Balcony

 

How could I resist such a title? I’m not sure where I bought this book; wherever I go I frequent second hand bookshops, stalls at markets, op-shops; anywhere that offers something interesting to browse. The unadorned cover called to me, and I paid all of $1.00.

From A Paris Balcony – what a delightful phrase. How could I not be intrigued?

True to his word, Ernest Dimnet did indeed observe Paris from a balcony. The balcony in question was at the Hôtel Belgiojoso. This can still be seen in the Montparnasse area of Paris, and Dimnet describes the place as “graceful and yet robust, classical but imaginative, mellow in its comparative youth”.

Who could not be enchanted by such a place or writing style: “When September comes, and the early Parisian autumn begins to strew the shrubbery with the ivory balls of the symphorine…”

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