Our meeting on 4 July saw the long-awaited return of Elizabeth Gowing, our specialist speaker on all aspects of foreign travel. She spends a huge proportion of her life abroad in far away and unfamiliar places, often in the poorer parts of the globe. Today her talk was entitled ‘How to Travel’ and covered her visits to the Congo and the Balkans.
She began demonstrating the contents of her ever present rucksack and mentioned 4 items that she regarded as essential parts of her baggage. These included a large, multi-coloured cotton sheet – a protection against the searing heat of the sun when in Africa. As a luxury she always includes her own favourite tea bags. Other necessities included a thermos flask and a hygiene spray to clear unpleasant odours. She then asked the audience to consider what four items they would each take; this question caused an outbreak of umming and arring and giggling. In discussions after the talk the chairman suggested that a cork screw and can opener were probably vital.
Elizabeth mentioned that in her visit to the Congo she encountered an area which presented a great threat to the local inhabitants caused by the mounting quantities of carbon dioxide and methane under Lake Kivu, emanating from under water volcanoes. The fear is that these dangerous substances could be suddenly released in such a way as to suffocate those millions nearby! Her devotion to such travel is truly remarkable and we look forward to her visit planned for next year.