The value of the diarist-travel-writer.

ruth-annies-safari-2My friends Ruth and Annie went on a trip-of-a-lifetime this summer, an African safari.  Lucky them.  Now though, lucky me too, because for the past month, I’ve been vicariously sharing their experiences via Ruth’s blog, silver anniversary safari.

This is definitely my preferred way to travel: no injections, waiting around in airport lounges or hours of sitting in a metal box being hurtled across the sky.   I jump straight into the heart of another culture when I open the latest instalment.

I’ll make a sweeping assertion that conveying the excitement and wonder of a place is the general aim for any travel-writer.  The key to this particular travel-log is the narrative voice: the choice of language, and stand-point.

Now let’s just take the last thing first, and clarify what I mean by ‘stand-point’.  I’m not talking about Ruth’s proximity to the animals, although at times, that was breathtakingly close. What I mean, and I’m sure you understood this, but I’d like to be precise, is how her thinking led her to interpret what she experienced.

What comes through strongly in these pieces is personality: there is humour, as well as wonder and fascination.  The way Ruth describes the people she meets, the incidental events she chooses and the things she sees, show us our narrator as well as providing a brief insight into the culture she is experiencing.

Perhaps it’s because I’m mid-way through tutoring my Writing Family History course, that I’m also thinking about the value of Ruth’s piece of writing for the future.  It is not just entertaining, it is a record of interactions with specific environments at this point in time.  Imagine, in the future, someone tracing their family tree and discovering not just the photographs of this trip, but alongside them, the story that sets them in context.


*Photos taken from Ruth Boardman Anniversary Safari.


8 thoughts on “The value of the diarist-travel-writer.

  1. I love reading travelogues; as you say no-hassle, armchair travel. As a writer and seeker of interesting titbits of history, background, culture etc they are invaluable material. I’m going to have a good fossick thro’ Ruth’s blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, Cath, you certainly know how to give a girl a boost. I’m thrilled you feel you’re getting to share my experience. I suspect it helps that you know me so well and ‘get’ my writing style and humour. Still, it’s lovely to read that, for you at least, I’ve succeeded in achieving some depth beyond just a face-value account. It was indeed exciting and wonderful but it could become tedious if I only managed to tell and not show, to paraphrase one of our Liverpool mentors.

    I do understand what you mean about not wanting to travel. Wonderful as it was, there were moments when I longed for the familiarity of home and its conveniences. And I have limited enthusiasm for flying and extended airport sojourns. Teleportation can’t come soon enough.

    I love the idea of a future researcher coming across this travel blog and learning about me. Your post is typically insightful. It’s also complimentary and affectionate. Thank you again, my friend.


    • Feel justifiably boosted.

      Your written style, complete with humour, is apparent without needing to have spent time in your company. The page achieves that.
      And I’m sure our Liverpool mentors would agree.

      Incidentally, re transportation: I’m not just looking out for teleportation, I’ve got a thumb permanently extended in case the Tardis passes my way.

      Liked by 1 person

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