Posts by Joanna Biggar

Joanna’s Preliminary Thoughts on Cuba List

Posted by on Jul 13, 2017 in Blog | 1 comment

                                Some suggested items to read, view or contemplate before our Cuban adventure. Books: Any standard guidebook will be helpful, but I always fall back on Lonely Planet for good basic information plus in-depth history. The Island of Cuba, by Alexander von Humboldt. The famous Prussian geographer, naturalist, explorer and linguist published this volume in 1856. I read an updated 2001 version published by Markus Weiner in Princeton and Ian Randle in Kingston, Jamaica. In addition to geographical...

Read More

Fun with Flamenco

Posted by on Oct 15, 2015 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

Fun with Flamenco

“Three Siblings, Two Dynasties, One Passion.” CastroRomero Flamenco Recently Linda, my husband Doug, and I helped celebrate a friend’s birthday by seeing a performance of this extraordinary group at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts. Now, before these Living Cultural Treasures (so designated by Spain) go off to Russia to perform sold-out events at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, I am resolved to learn more about this deeply Spanish art form—and to seeing more of it in Seville. Flamenco Facts so Far: 1. Although the word flamenco came into use in the 18th century, the music itself—song, instruments and dance—developed in Andalusia from the 8th to the 15th...

Read More

Weather Report

Posted by on Sep 7, 2014 in Uncategorized | 1 comment

Weather Report

From the archives: “Friday came all too soon. A moody, fitful sort of day, with gusts of wind. We often had them thus, the third week of September, with the big tides of the year. The clouds were low, scudding across the sky from the south-west, threatening rain before evening. I hoped it would rain. One of our true downpours, with maybe a gale thrown in for further measure. A west country welcome. No Italian skies.” “My Cousin Rachel,” by Daphne du Maurer, 1951 Share...

Read More

Cook’s Tour

Posted by on Jul 23, 2014 in Uncategorized | 4 comments

Cook’s Tour

Wanderlanders: As we set our sights on Cornwall, these collected gems from the Thomas Cook archives may help us keep keep our perspective. Since 1841, Britain’s Thomas Cook Tours has been leading travelers on new adventures. But not everyone ends up happy. There are supposedly true complaints registered with the travel agency 1. “I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.” 2. “It’s lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallarta to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during ‘siesta’ time — this should be...

Read More

What’s in a Name?

Posted by on Jun 28, 2014 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

What’s in a Name?

While revisiting a late Sherlock Holmes mystery, The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot, wherein the incomparable sleuth and his companion Dr. Watson are on holiday on the rugged coast of Cornwall (Poldhu Bay, Lizard Peninsula), I made a discovery. The main character of this grisly mystery is one Mortimer Tregennis. Hmm. Sounds mighty close to the word Tregenna, name of the 18th century castle in St. Yves, where our intrepid Wanderlanders will be convening in September. Could there be a connection? So, I did a bit of sleuthing myself to discover there are many common pre-fixes and place names in Cornwall that take a variety of forms—including the Welsh variation, which...

Read More

Further Tips for Cornwall Trippers

Posted by on Jun 20, 2014 in Blog, Cornwall | 4 comments

Further Tips for Cornwall Trippers

    I’ve been looking into some of the practical aspects of getting to and around Cornwall and shared some of what I’ve discovered so far with those of you at the pre-trip lunch. I promised to post these nuggets on our website, so here they are. I encourage those of you who have done your own digging to add your suggestions, too, so we can all benefit from collected wisdom. Also, you may want to coordinate with each other to cross Devon and Cornwall to arrive together. GETTING TO ST. IVES—It seems the cheapest and best way to get there from London (where I assume all our English journeys will begin) is by train (buses are cheaper, but very slow; planes...

Read More

Mysterious Cornwall

Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in Blog, Cornwall | 0 comments

Mysterious Cornwall

Mystery, murder, intrigue, the gothic and the macabre have found a welcome home in Cornwall. Writers—and film makers—have flocked there in pursuit. Fictional detectives from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, to Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, to P.D. James’s Adam Dalgliesh have slept there. And the cool Queen of Mystery, Daphne du Maurier, lived there. What is it about the place that has attracted them? What in the mists and crags, the coves and moors might other writers find in the landscape to inspire their own writing? To answer these questions, perusing the  important works (and the list is by no means complete) of others who have come before...

Read More

JOANNA’S TASTY MORSELS: Tidbits for Wandering Travelers to Cornwall

Posted by on Feb 5, 2014 in Blog, Cornwall | 1 comment

JOANNA’S TASTY MORSELS: Tidbits for Wandering Travelers to Cornwall

WHAT’S IN A NAME? Although the earliest evidence of humans in Cornwall dates to 30,000 B.C., the first mention of the name, Cornugallensis, was between 852 and 857 by the Bishop of Saint-Corentin at Quimper Cathedral—in Brittany, France. The ancient Cornwall-French connection derives from the fact that the same Celtic tribe, with the Latinized name Cornovii, meaning, horn, or headland, settled both sides of the English Channel. The two regions spoke a similar language, which became Cornish in England and Breton in France. With the Anglo-Saxon invasions from roughly 500 to 926, when they succeeded in conquering the Celts of England’s southwest peninsula, came the...

Read More

Americans in Paris in San Francisco

Posted by on Jan 5, 2014 in Blog | 1 comment

Americans in Paris in San Francisco

What a terrific, blow-out event last month at the Alliance Francaise as our Wanderland Writers wandered into this wonderful San Francisco venue to share bits of their Paris stories from our latest volume: Wandering in Paris; Luminaries and Love in the City of Light. A finish from co-editor, Linda Watanbe McFerrin’s wonderful piece, “Inside the White Gorilla,” with its nod to the exigency of existentialism set the tone. For tumbling through the layers of time and era in Paris, there is that sense of wait, where am I? In the Middle Ages, or café society in search of Gertrude Stein? Tripping over the highest heels of fashion, tripping out in a steamy hammam, or...

Read More

Piaf Makes Late Appearance at the Roxie

Posted by on Dec 27, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Piaf Makes Late Appearance at the Roxie

Although she died in 1963, Edith Piaf worked her magic in song again last weekend at San Francisco’s Roxie Theater. Guests stepped in under the venerable marquee in the city’s gritty Mission District to be wrapped in a kind of Piaf-like embrace: The theater’s black interior walls; the rat traps set at the edge of its dark curtain; the guy in pearls passing out paté; the dashing director of the Alliance Française, which sponsored the event, making the rounds with a scarf draped around his neck; actresses chatting in French; couples of various genders cuddling; the young man in jeans and high top sneakers tossing down his heavy back-pack. “Been to any of these...

Read More