Author Archives: brunswick123

About brunswick123

It is time to update my matter of fact and frankly rather boring 'about' description. I spent my working life in universities first as an academic and later as a Faculty Dean and finally a decade as University Vice-President moving steadily further from my humanities background to a commercial and staff management series of roles. University life surrounded by challenging young people and colleagues intelligent and curious [mostly!] was wonderful, but I decided in my fifties that I wanted to focus on my dream of 'being a writer'. I dreaded dying without at least trying to fulfil a childhood dream. So I spent the next five years learning to write fiction, so different to writing academic books! and supported myself working part time as a consultant with universities in Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands and England. Since 2007 I have spent half the year living in Europe and half in Australia and yes, I follow the sun. I do not 'do' winters. Now my time is devoted to writing and to my passion for travel, especially hiking for weeks at a time and usually alone. I am incredibly lucky. I want to connect with people with similar passions - writing, travelling, walking, pondering the big questions - and this is the purpose of this blog. Over the coming months I intend to work on my blog to make it more appealing and accessible. All comments and advice welcome.

A different kind of beauty

After completing the West Highland Way and ‘doing’ Ben Nevis on my rest day in Fort William, I walked the Great Glen Way to Inverness. A lovely walk of 6 days, easier than the West Highland Way and far fewer walkers on the trail (to my surprise). A pretty walk along the lochs, including Loch Ness of course and with its fair share of ‘Scottish mist’. 

Though lacking the grandeur of the first walk, it had a couple of high route days and the isolation I love when hiking.

Highlights?

Loch Ness in the moonlight

Following the Caledonian Canal and watching the boats manoeuvre through the series of locks.

The high routes to Invermoriston and Drannadochit.

Coming upon the Abriachan Eco-campsite and cafe in the middle of the wonderful Abriachan Forest. A haven.

The people, always.

The lowlights?

The );$@&/midges!

The shock of the tour bus crowds in Fort Augustus after 11 days of walking in relative isolation/peace.

What next? Japan has been calling for a few years and the Scottish National Trail appeals now I’ve had a taste. First, there is writing to be finished.


Romance and grandeur – walking the West Highland Way

Since I lack words adequate to the task, here are some photos from my wonderful experience walking this path solo two weeks ago.

The highlights? 

Rannoch Moor

Rock scrambling on the low route along Loch Lomond

Kinlocheven to Fort William on the last day, bitter wind and rain and marvellous isolation on the high plateau

The friendliness of all

The lowlight?

Scottish midges  – horrible little bloodsuckers! 

Three long years since last we talked

Yes, back at the British Library contemplating life with Isaac Newton after three years of the good, the bad and the downright awful. Illness and operations, death of close friends, love, family, friendships lost and gained, writing successful and failed and soles worn through by bushwalking. It has been three years of turmoil in which the good outweighs the bad and best of all, I’m here to tell the tale. Three years older and possibly, just possibly, at long last a little wiser. Probably not.

Last time Isaac and I contemplated life together, I was on my way to do the Coast to Coast walk across England [with two broken bones in my foot though I didn’t know that at the time]. This time it is Scotland, the West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way taking me from Glasgow to Inverness. And maybe somewhere beyond that, we shall see.

For now, the path beckons. This one is from the Larapinta Trail in central Australia a few weeks ago – trust me, there is a track in this beautiful solitude. There is always a path if we but look.

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Outback Australia, one step at a time

2017-05-26 09.49.20The trail never ends, last week was 8 days walking around Uluru, through Kata Tjuta and along sections of the Larapinta Trail in the West MacDonnell Ranges in central Australia. Sleeping in tents or in a swag under starlit skies impossible to comprehend or describe. Campfires at night with wonderful food, drink and company.

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and beauty wherever one looks – rock or water, harsh or gentle in nature.
2017-05-21 13.37.33Sunsets and sunrises
2017-05-25 07.09.40and the iconic, sacred rock
2017-05-17 18.01.46in ever changing colours, especially the red we all know and love.
2017-05-18 07.25.13and looking down from the summit of Mount Sonder, a 3 hour night time ascent with head lamps.
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A wonderful time of reflection in desert silence, no phones, no distractions.
and an ever-growing appreciation of the 40,000 year old civilization which inhabited and managed this land.
Where next? Scotland in July, for ‘something completely different’, but where next
in Australia? That path is unknown.

Like falling out of a window

Yes, it’s been seven months since I blogged. Shame on me, though I do have excuses. It is one year since I had a melanoma removed. Receiving a cancer diagnosis is like falling out of a window [a thousand other metaphors or similes come to mind] and ‘so far so good’ as I haven’t yet hit the ground. My quarterly check three days ago showed NED = no evidence of disease and no need to come back for four months.

You want more excuses? In July I had two related operations, nothing to do with cancer, ‘just bad luck’ consequences of the original melanoma operation. Successful, albeit with a long period of enforced inactivity.

Still not happy? Okay. This week I completed the first draft of ‘Stopping Time’, my novel about the challenges confronting modern universities; that is, the pressure to do more with less and to be more commercial, competitive and ‘relevant’ while maintaining core values of academic freedom. One hundred thousand words of pure gold. Maybe.

No more excuses.

Now it is decision time. Time to cross the river, not the Styx fortunately. The photo is one of many river crossings when I was hiking in the Flinders Ranges in September perfectly timed to coincide with a ‘once in 50 years’ weather event. Three ops and you gotta keep going through flood, storm, whatever.

Anyway, I digress. My decision, my metaphorical river to cross, is this. Which of my two manuscripts do I revise first? ‘Death on the Camino’, the one with potential but needs more work [according to an editor] and which is my first love? Or ‘Stopping Life’, the one which my mentor likes and which is probably more commercial and topical? The heart versus common sense.

Time for a walk in the rain and a spot of pondering…

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Kakadu dreaming and rock art

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Some paintings are 20,000 years old, depicting the creation of the world at the dream time; some depict the spirits at the heart of their belief system and the last are 150 years old and show the arrival of the white invaders and the end of the world they had known for 40,000 – 50,000 years.

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In between I see a kangaroo being hunted and a painting of one of the giant kangaroos which once roamed Australia, plus dreaming characters good and bad, as central to their belief system as ours to us.

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I write these few words from a well of ignorance and a renewed respect for our indigenous culture, the longest surviving in human history. I knew I knew little, truth is I knew virtually nothing of a culture we have done our utmost to destroy.

Humbling. Equally humbling was the experience of hiking for a week through a land which appears utterly inhospitable – bone dry and hot half the year, inundated by monsoons half the year – and learning a little of how a culture flourished here for thousands of years.

A wonderful holiday and a privilege.