Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dallol, Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

Temperatures approach the high 30’s and into the ’40s with regularity, but didn’t quite get there while I visited. Suffice to say, I was pleased it didn’t reach its record; over 50 degrees, in this intriguing landscape – 120m below sea-level. Its good to visit in December…average high temperature…36.7 degrees.

Colours from sulphur, copper, potassium, and chlorine; heated, dissolved and refined, result in not only the dramatically encrusted landscape, but their vaporising also takes your breath away……dip your hands in a blood-temperature oily ‘ potash lake ‘…..there’s a lot going on here….


Dallol 8


Dallol 7


Dallol 6


Dallol 5


Dallol 4


Dallol 3


Dallol 2


Dallol 1




Coffee in Addis

I’ve been drinking coffee and retracing a few steps from my childhood days. I remember the Black Lion Of Judah, which had only been erected four years before I first arrived in Ethiopia.

Trying to post pictures via Instagram seems slugggggish….not to say, impossibly slow Maybe there’s been some tinkering by the techies?

Abyss ( inia ) revisited…

No other country has a name which so accurately evokes its topography! Most people know it as Ethiopia, of course. The spectacular tortuous road from Addis Ababa down to the coast through Asmara, the Simien Mountains, and the Danakil Depression, are just a few features of the Great Rift which so shape this country.

In 1959, my family flew to Addis Ababa, and we lived there for four years. Although I was only young, I do remember a lot of my life there very vividly. My sister was born there, we travelled overland to what was then called Tanganyika, to Khartoum, to Assab; via places with wonderful names: Axum, Wajir, Gondar, Lalibela, Dire Dawa, Massawa…..

I lived through the first and unsuccessful attempt to unseat Emperor Haile Selassie in 1960.



My mother – five months pregnant with my sister,  at the time, wrote later about the episode in her memoir:

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….and her poem…..

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Our Man in Addis….

My father had an important title – Overseas Representative For Dunlop Tyres, for East Africa and The Hadramawt, and was based at the offices of the Arabian Trading Company. He made frequent overland trips to see potential clients, and these often turned into long family trips, in the company’s long wheel based Landrover, with nights spent in truck-stops, oases, and under canvas in the open air. 

Wajir – over the border and just into Kenya.


Back in Addis….

On Sunday, the 11th December, I shall set foot again on the ground in Addis Ababa – 58 years later. It will be interesting to catch up….and I’m looking forward to eating injera and wat in a downtown Addis restaurant!

Chernobyl – 30 years on..26th April 1986…


I visited Chernobyl last year, and now the 30th anniversary of the event has just passed. This is the sign at the city limits – a celebration from the era of the nuclear age. The motifs of the swirling atoms, the hammer and sickle, and the wonders of the industrial age are a little faded now….



” Learn, learn, learn ! “


In the nearby abandoned town of Pripyat, amazingly well preserved, are faded posters from the mid-1980’s. 

Lenin’s oft-quoted exhortation to learn, learn and learn ( or ‘ study, study, study ‘ according to some translators ) rests next to a poster advertising the 1984 Pripyat Komsomol Conference.

Komsomol was the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League – founded in 1918 and dissolved seven years after this poster was designed and printed. 


” Agitpunkt “.


An Agitpunkt was essentially an information dissemination point. They were established from 1919 onwards. 

“By means of literature, newspapers, posters, records, films, and the living Party word,agitpunkts were devised to explain to Red Army men and the toiling masses the meaning of the ongoing struggle and the goals and tasks of the Soviet regime; to involve them in the struggle for the triumph of the cause of the Great October Socialist Revolution; and to unite them around the Communist Party. Reports, lectures, discussions, and meetings between voters and candidates for the soviets and for the posts of people’s judge and people’s assessor were held at agitpunkts; consultation offices, expositions, film showings, and amateur theatrical and art activities were organized and wall newspapers were put out by agitpunkts“.  ( The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.)