Our October 21 Book Club: ‘Travels With My Hat: A Lifetime on the Road’, by Christine Osbourne
by Carolyn Ray
Our October 21 book club will be a special one, as we explore the true essence of solo travel. Two weeks ago, I started reading our next book club pick, ‘Travels With My Hat: A Lifetime on the Road’, by Australian Christine Osborne (recommended by JW member Amos). Published in 2013, this is the incredible story of a fearless, brave woman, who travelled to remote areas of Ethiopia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, and Morocco at a time well before the Internet, travel guides and mass tourism.
Born in Temora, New South Wales in 1958, Christine began her career as a nurse, but pursued her sense of adventure and became an award-winning travel writer and photographer working alone in some of the most offbeat places on earth. She came to prominence in 1970 on receiving the Pacific Area Travel Association award for travel articles on . The next decades saw Osborne exploring the Middle East and Africa from a base in London. Following the publication of her first book – The Gulf States & Oman in 1977 – she fulfilled writing and photographic commissions in the developing world in SE Asia. In 1979, she was the only woman photographer with the Buckingham Palace Press Corps to cover Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s tour of the Arab states, which she speaks about in this book. She has written 16 books and travel guides covering Pakistan, Morocco, Thailand, Malaysia, Bali and the Seychelles.
“Few activities generate as much excitement as setting off somewhere foreign, where different landscapes, interesting people and colourful customs await. Every night after saying my prayers, I would fall asleep to dream of destinations in books signed out by Miss Mrytle, the frizzy-haired librarian who never smiled.”
She says: “I wanted to visit Burma after reading Ethel Mannin’s ‘Land of the Crested Lion’ and the Greek islands, immortalized by Charmain Clift in ‘Mermaid Singing’. I wanted to stand on the spot where Speke discovered the source of the Nile and to follow Freya Stark, to Damascus and Baghdad. I wanted to dance the tango in Buenos Aires and to meet glamorous characters from the Arabian Nights; sultans, sheiks, and odalisques in harem trousers serving tiny glasses of mint-flavoured tea. And while I loved mum’s roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, I longed to try dishes such as fesanjan, a duck and pomegranate dish from Persia, and the aromatic tajine stews of Berber kitchens in Morocco.”
At this book club, YOU are our special guest! Join us on October 21 to share your insights and experiences about Solo Travel, using Christine’s book as a starting point for discussion. Discussion questions will be posted one week prior so that you have time to prepare! You can participate in the dialogue on Zoom by registering HERE or watch live on Facebook.
Learn more about the book here: https://journeywoman.com/feature-articles/books/journeywoman-book-club-summer-travel-reads-by-women/. If you purchase the book, please support an independent bookstore – there are links on our website.
For more on the book, visit: https://travelswithmyhat.com/
Listen to a 2014 interview with Christine here: https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lifematters/christine-osborne3a-travels-with-my-hat/5408402
Photo at top: by Carolyn Ray of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco