Graffiti art in London
Elsewhere by Graham Reid

music - travel - arts

Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

Travel Stories

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Southeast England: Rye, wry and makes you cry

Southeast England: Rye, wry and makes you cry

While in Winchelsea in south east England, I went to pay my respects to Spike Milligan at his grave in St Thomas' churchyard. Unfortunately, Spike was out. More correctly, his famously funny headstone had been taken away – they left Spike down there – because, when his third wife Shelagh Sinclair was buried beside him June 2011, her family wanted her name and dates added to... more >>

Morocco: You want nuts with that?

Morocco: You want nuts with that?

So you will be seeing the goats in the trees, said the man in the marketplace. I laughed because I'd clearly misheard. I thought he'd said, “goats in the trees”. The other man patting a pile of bright yellow spice back into an attractive pyramid stopped and turned to me, “Oh yes, there will be goats up in the trees. You will see them, I guarantee.”“You... more >>

Maharashtra state, India: Riding the rail

Maharashtra state, India: Riding the rail

In the historic, temple-filled and rather wealthy Indian city of Kolhapur a couple of hours north of Goa there's a glimpse of a past which is appealingly distant but also curiously contemporary. The day I arrive at the New Palace – an imposing 150-year old building in the Indo-Gothic style commanding spacious grounds – it is the day of the famously crazy and colourful Holi... more >>

Canterbury, England: Murder and more in the cathedral

Canterbury, England: Murder and more in the cathedral

So the murder was good for business then, Mike?“It was the biggest cash cow the cathedral had known,” laughs Mike Evans, one of the guides at Canterbury Cathedral, the spiritual home of the Anglican Church and where Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170. Evans, who retired from a sales career in London and returned to his childhood home of Canterbury some years ago, mixes... more >>

Canterbury, England: Some different tales, bear with me

Canterbury, England: Some different tales, bear with me

Although the famous cathedral is rightly considered the physical and emotional centre of Canterbury in England, the historic old town holds other delights and diversions, especially if you are there with children who might not see the point of dead people made of stone and really big stained glass windows. And, after a few hours of peering at strange inscriptions about people we never... more >>

Essaouira, Morocco: Light at the end of the day

Essaouira, Morocco: Light at the end of the day

He was offering cakes, small dry round things which looked pretty unappetizing, but that wasn't what he was really selling. After the tray had been presented and I'd waved it away, with a flash of his hand he opened his palm and whispered urgently, “You want?” There, in a tight dark ball, was a lump of hashish. In earlier times we might have done the deal, but these days .... more >>

Kunming, China: The song of the stones

Kunming, China: The song of the stones

At one point Lily, our guide from the Yi people -- a prominent ethnic group in this area of southwest China – stops as we visitors negotiate our way through the surreal formations of the famous Stone Forest near the city of Kunming. As the four of us stand beneath sky-pointing fingers of blue-grey rock, Lily says this area is the traditional home of her Yi people (pronounced... more >>

Dallas, Texas: The shots heard around the world

Dallas, Texas: The shots heard around the world

A simple wrong turn and the pressure of traffic forced us to carry on down the road, looking for an exit. But then, through a set of traffic lights, we were there. "This it," I shouted. "Look. This is it." I drove on as slowly as the urgent traffic would allow but we looked around at the slow dip and curve of the road, so recognisable from that famous piece of... more >>

Stonehenge, England: Everybody must get stoned

Stonehenge, England: Everybody must get stoned

A couple of years ago when Britain's English Heritage was again getting fretful over the increasing number of tourists arriving at Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain, a wag wrote a pithy one-liner to a major daily. If whoever erected those monolithic stones was so smart, he asked, why did they build it near a motorway? Certainly if you wander around the site in Wiltshire of this... more >>

Kunming, China: Escape from the haste

Kunming, China: Escape from the haste

Kunming – the capital of Yunnan province in south west China – doesn't do quiet. With a population around 6.5 million (and, improbably, a sister city to New Plymouth since 2003), Kunming delivers confusion, haste, noise and its own peculiar order in the apparent chaos of motorcycles and scooters which flit between buses, tracks, cars and pedestrians. Crowded buses wheeze... more >>

Amsterdam, Holland: Ink on skin

Amsterdam, Holland: Ink on skin

Three days before he was sentenced on firearms charges, I was looking Tame Iti directly in the eye, his stare unblinking. The room was all but empty, just my wife and me, and his was the first face I'd seen when we walked in. Oddly enough, his familiar, assured but also rather gentle gaze seemed welcoming, given we were in the Amsterdam Tattoo Museum on the other side of the world... more >>

Sarawak, Borneo: Hotel Headhunter

Sarawak, Borneo: Hotel Headhunter

In these minutes before you realise how foolish you are being, you could imagine yourself as Martin Sheen going up-river to seek out the mad Marlon Brando: the prow of the longboat pushing through muddy water; humid jungle steaming its way down to the riverbanks; bowing branches and vines hanging so low you sometimes have to duck beneath them . . . The sudden and unexpected clearings,... more >>

Diabat, Morocco: And the wind cries, Jimi

Diabat, Morocco: And the wind cries, Jimi

A few kilometres south of the busy and breezy port town of Essaouira on Morocco's Atlantic coast is the dusty village of Diabat, famous for one thing. In mid 1969, Jimi Hendrix didn't go there. Not that the owner of the local cafe would admit to that. Quite the opposite in fact. The cafe – which played an endless loop tape of Bob Marley while we had coffee and cake on a warm... more >>

Castles Made of Sand

Marrakech, Morocco: When night comes falling

Marrakech, Morocco: When night comes falling

As anyone who has had the good fortune to go will tell you, Marrakech is a city of noise, especially in the grand central square. Here by day snake charmers and fortune tellers call for attention, motor scooters blat past, cars on the unmarked road around the perimeter sound their horns, fruit and vegetable sellers shout invitations at you to sample from their attractive displays, Berber... more >>

Stockholm, Sweden: Ghosts ships back from the depths

Stockholm, Sweden: Ghosts ships back from the depths

Compared to the maiden voyage of the Vasa, the ill-fated Titanic enjoyed a pretty good first outing a century ago. At least it got in four days of plain sailing before hitting the iceberg. The ornately decorated warship Vasa set out from Stockholm and was little more than 1200 metres into the harbour when it was caught by a gust or two, rolled onto its side, took water through the... more >>

Singapore: Welcome to Hell

Singapore: Welcome to Hell

As travellers or tourists we often go a long way to see the beautiful, the breathtaking and sometimes the just plain bizarre. No trip to Tucumcari in New Mexico is perhaps complete without a peek at the museum with its collection of barbed wire, or in Rome a quiet wander around the crypt of Chiesa di Santa Maria della Concezione where the altars, candleholders and wall sculpture are... more >>

Kunming, China: The pleasures and pitfalls of a pipa

Kunming, China: The pleasures and pitfalls of a pipa

Sometimes, if you don't have a friend in an unfamiliar city to get you off the tourist trail, it helps to have a project which may lead to unexpected places. So in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province in south west China, I decided to buy a pipa, a traditional lute-like instrument played by women, coincidentally the most notable being Kunming's own Liu Fang who now lives in Canada.... more >>

Cooktown, Far North Queensland: Life with the dead

Cooktown, Far North Queensland: Life with the dead

It's a curious thing, but the quiet of a cemetery can tell us as much about a town as the living residents gabbing over drinks in a late night bar. There on moss-covered and often damaged headstones are the spare, telling details of lives which can speak to us of long-gone days. Even more than a chat over over schooner in a local pokie bar, at pleasant, orderly and somewhat sleepy... more >>

Desert Door

South west China: Give me land, lots of land

South west China: Give me land, lots of land

In Guizhou province they move mountains. Literally. Here in this vast region of south west China – two thirds the area of New Zealand and with a population around 40 million – mountains are moved for motorways and housing, shaped into terraces for crops or highrise apartments, bored through for lengthy tunnels and have enormous bridges strung between them. Beipanjiang... more >>

Autumn Moon Over Still Lake

Florence, Italy: The passing strange parade

Florence, Italy: The passing strange parade

Ever been in a place where everything is the same, but different? Let me illustrate. It was close to midnight in Florence and after a fine dinner I went for a lazy stroll through the lamp-lit streets, then stopped at an outdoor cafe in Piazza della Repubblica for a nightcap of grappa. From across the broad square the distant sound of a woman singing opera mingled with the disco-dance... more >>