Brain Fodder and Eye Candy from 2015 in These Pieces

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Christmas time is the time of ancient family rituals. Easy Hiker is not a family, of course, nor is it old enough to have ancient traditions – but I have provided you before (ghosts of Christmases past!) with a brief look into articles about hiking and more generally about travelling that I had found over the year, so I might as well do it again.

I could have opened this post by saying that Christmas is the time of old habits, but you must admit that it does not sound nearly as grand. Here we go then, and let’s get the long and thoughtful stuff out of the way first.

Your Christmas Reading 2015

This is a very smart piece on travel writing (“the rootless wanderer has always been a singular creature … (who) must define himself without comparisons to other people, except to say that they are tied to this place and I am not”) and its ancestry, proving once and for all that travel bloggers are truly standing on the shoulders of giants (Homer and Marco Polo, to name just two). It’s a bit of a long piece, admittedly, but I am sure you will not regret having made the effort – and will learn a thing or two about travel and its place in history as well as modern society (I certainly have).

"Christmas Reading 2015"

The writer Will Self has always been a strange blend between the good, the bad and the irritating. Even in the following article, I cannot quite see what he gains by saying “purlieu” instead of, say, neighbourhood, but there you go: you simply have to take the bad with the good. And surely there is a lot of good in this piece – Mr. Self is one of the few writers who always has something challenging to say about hiking and walking – and when you agree with its general gist, you can click on the links of 20 British country and town walks and put into practice what you have just read.

"Christmas Reading 2016 - compiled by Easy Hiker"

Now you have done your duty. Today’s post is a lot like a Christmas meal: once you have eaten your way through granny’s overcooked turkey (the tough, hard-to-chew main course), you can indulge yourself on the desserts. And I have prepared several of those for you.

First, Norwegian hiking cabins.

"Christmas Reading 2015 - travel and easy hiking"

You thought that was bit exotic? Well, here’s something that is as weird as it is wonderful: Soviet bus stops, once presented as a picture post and then as an article that provides a little cultural context.

"Christmas Reading 2016 - travel and easy hikes"

"Christmas Reading 2015 - travel"

The surest way of having a miserable holiday experience is to overburden your trip with expectations: never to live in the here and now, never to enjoy any moment for what it is, but always to compare everything to what you imagined you would be getting when you were reading the brochure. Such an attitude can create real suffering, but also – forgive me if I sound cruel – great hilarity, particularly when these people put pen to paper to tell the world what they have gone through.

Here are some choice examples. Some of these “customer complaints” sound a bit fabricated, quite honestly, too funny to be true: I am almost sure that a bunch of tipsy college students made them up to have a laugh, but if that slipped through the quality control of the travel agents who forwarded these letters for publication: the authors deserve it. If it’s not true, as the Italian proverb has it, it’s at least cunningly crafted.

"Christmas Reading 2015 - travel and easy hikes"

Here’s more eye candy. Nature may prefer to express herself in the figurative manner, but when she decides to go abstract, she can be as grand as the boldest 20th century master.l

"Christmas Reading 2015 - surreal landscapes"

Finally, a little bit of whimsy from St Etienne. This is the sort of thing that, if you were to spot any of those little doodles on a walking trip, would put you in a good mood straight away. And today, because it’s Christmas, you don’t even have to leave the house for that: the good mood is delivered straight to your computer screen. Isn’t life wonderful?

"Christmas Reading 2015 - humor and travel"

A Merry Christmas to one and all!!

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