I READ:   Charmaine Clift’s Imagines in Aspic . My copy dates back to the 1960s and is a terribly ragged paperback – more so now after be...

Prayer flags flap in the breeze on a mountain trail in Bhutan
I READ: Charmaine Clift’s Imagines in Aspic. My copy dates back to the 1960s and is a terribly ragged paperback – more so now after being dragged out to endure the long waits at international airports across Asia. It’s a great one to read while travelling being the writer’s columns penned in the year she turned from expat life in Greece and observing her homeland with a critical, worldly eye.

More recent writings included Cate Kennedy’s Like a House on Fire - another Stella Prize nomination to tick off my list – and Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, which is a Slow Readers Book Club choice.

I WENT TO: Bhutan. It was my partner’s 50th birthday and, to mark the occasion, a lifelong dream to see the Himalayas was realised. Let this stand as a warning: there will be photos.

I LISTENED TO: The soundtrack of the last month was probably garbled flight calls in foreign languages, the noise-filled streets of a city in pre-festival mode, the chime of water-powered prayer wheels built over Himalayan streams, prayer flags flapping in a sweet-smelling breeze and silence. Bhutan can be a serenely quiet place.

I ATE: A lot of rice and vegetables with a smattering of eye-watering cheese and chilli, or ema datshi. My partner and I also treated ourselves to a final holiday fling with Tiffin at The Raffles in Singapore on the way home. It was a one-off experience but oh-so delicious. I waddled, as elegantly as I could, from the ever-so-posh grand old lady of a hotel.

I SAW: More prayer flags, prayer wheels, temples, monks, mountains, streams, wooded forests and magic lands than you could ever wish for. Every single scene in Bhutan is one of beauty and the Bhutanese I met are so fiercely proud of it – and all power to them, I say.

I MADE: Absolutely nothing, but I did buy up on handmade and fair trade Christmas trinkets in the markets and specially sought-out craft co-operatives of Kathmandu, Nepal, and beautifully woven yak wool carpet from weavers of the Bumthang region of Bhutan and fabrics from a women’s co-operative in the capital city of Thimpu.

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