write the truest sentence you know

“Sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.'” Ernest Hemingway

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Reading Tolkien

Like millions of other J.R.R. Tolkien fans I have been transfixed by the new televised adaptation of the Middle Earth saga. Waiting for the next episode to drop, I searched out a wonderful set of recordings of Tolkien reading from his beloved classic The Hobbit. 

In 1952, a friend of J.R.R. Tolkien showed him a tape recorder, which the author had never seen before. Delighted, Tolkien sat for his friend and read from The Hobbit for 30 minutes “in this one incredible take”. The audio is split between these two videos (with visuals and music added later).

NB: If the videos fail to launch, please visit our homepage.

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When a diagram is better than a map

Long-time subscribers to Travel Between the Pages are well aware that I have an unusal interest in London’s Underground map. I can pinpoint my fascination with the well designed plans to my first visit to the British capital and my surprise at the ease of using the network due to the clever maps of the system. Over the years, as a book collector and bookseller, I’ve seen dozens of transit maps in travel guidebooks. I’ve even sold some early UERL system maps. So, I was happy to run across the entertaining and informative video below on the evolution of maps.

Comedian Jay Foreman takes a deep dive into the history of the map for the London Underground, which is also known as the Tube, in a subterranean installment of his “Unfinished London” series.

link here for the homepage.


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Pound Sterling Gets Pounded, But London’s For Free

The headlines bemoaning the precipitous slde in the value of the British Pound have created an itch for me and many other Anglophiles to get back to London posthaste. While that’s not quite feasible at the moment, I of course took a deep dive into travel planning for this winter. While exploring sites that I’d like to revisit and attractions that I haven’t seen yet, I stumbled on a story about a recent study on international travel that claims London has the most and the best free tourist attractions out of any city in the world.

While my travel writing days are well in the past, at one time I was a self-appointed expert on London travel. In fact, I wrote a very successful guidebook for free London travel. Although my travel books are long out of print, I try to stay abreast of tourism developments in Europe.

Radical Storage, a luggage storage company, analyzed over 22.9 million TripAdvisor reviews from nearly 150,000 tourist attractions around the world to come up with their ranking of the best cities with free attractions. They looked at both the quality and quantity of the freebies. The analysis looked at attractions like parks, galleries and walking or bike tours. London came up on top for quantity and quality with 1,389 free tourist attractions.

Top five cities for free tourist attractions:

  1. London
  2. New York
  3. Paris
  4. Washington DC
  5. Rome

See the full index by Radical Storage here.



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Our Libraries

‘Our Town’s Libraries’ which Tom Gauld drew for the @nytimes recently… Speaking of libraries, he has a new book out titled REVENGE OF THE LIBRARIANS and he is visiting Brooklyn NY, Philadelphia PA, and Columbus OH with it in the next week. Visit tomgauld.com for details…


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Welcome to My Garden

Welcome To My Garden is a wonderful initiative where average folks open up their yards and gardens for free camping. Created in Belgium during the Pandemic, the peer-to-peer scheme is aimed primarily at hikers, bike travelers, and backpackers. People who are interested in sharing their space for up to 48 hours with no charge simply list on the website and then users contact the hosts directly.

Although some sites offer electricity, water, and toilet facilities, the scheme is not meant to provide traditional campsites. Each host can set their own guidelines for guests.

Currently, Welcome To My Garden is available in many European countries, but will hopefully be expanding soon.

I would have definitely jumped on this in my backpacking/tent camping days.

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Post Cards From The Future

The very trippy short video below titled “Convergence Station” was created by Andreas Nilsson for Meow Wolf’s Denver art center of the same name.


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Joy is not made to be a crumb

Don’t Hesitate
by Mary Oliver

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.

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Prescribing Culture

This month doctors in Brussels, Belgium will be able to prescribe visits to local cultural institutions for their patients. Doctors at the Brugmann Hospital, one of Brussels’ largest healthcare facilities, are able to prescribe their patients visits to a number of cultural institutions managed by the city as part of treatments for “stress, anxiety and depression.” So reports Smithsonian.com’s Molly Enking, adding that “those with a prescription for free entrance can tour ancient underground pathways in the Sewer Museum, check out textiles from the 1500s at the Fashion and Lace Museum, or stroll through the galleries at the CENTRALE contemporary art center, among other activities.”

Seems like a wonderful idea to me. Unfortunately, here in the U.S. our healthcare system is governed by big insurance and big pharma, unless it’s in a pillform it’s not likely to be prescribed or supported.


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Here Be Monsters

The Carta Marina (Latin for map of the sea) is the earliest known map of the Nordic countries with details and place names. The map was created over a 12 year period by the Swedish cartographer Olaus Magnus (1490–1557) and the first copies were printed in Venice in 1539. The map features some fantastic sea creatures and sea monsters. In the past, it was only possible to imagine what these scary aquatic beings would sound like. Now you can discover the awful audio on the interactive map Sounds of Sea Monsters .

THE Whirlpool, or Prister, is of the kind of Whales, two hundred Cubits long, and is very cruel. For to the danger of Sea-men, he will sometimes raise himself beyond the Sail-yards, and casts such floods of Waters above his head, which he had sucked in, that with a Cloud of them, he will often sink the strongest ships, or expose the Marriners to extream danger. This Beast hath also a long and large round mouth, like a Lamprey, whereby he sucks in his meat or water, and by his weight cast upon the Fore or Hinder-Deck, he sinks and drowns a ship. Sometimes, not content to do hurt by water onely, as I said, he will cruelly overthrow the ship like any small Vessel, striking it with his back, or tail.


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