When I expressed impatience at the time I had to wait until departure, a member of my book group said it would give me plenty of time to research, and she was right.

I have read Paris by Edward Rutherfurd which was worth every one of the 809 pages. I enjoyed the way he uses fictional characters to bring history to life, particularly when the generations of each family link throughout the book.

Next, I dipped into The Portuguese Seaborne Empire by C.R. Boxer. This was one of my history text books at Otago University in 1975. I loved it then – and its companion volume The Spanish Seaborne Empire – and read both books cover to cover when I should have been studying for exams.


Now I am reading The Scandinavians by Robert Ferguson. I am astounded by how much the English were involved in quite distressing events in Scandinavia, such as the blockade of Norway around 1809 which resulted in 100,00 Norwegians starving to death – over 10% of the population of the time. I think I’ll be careful to say I’m not English, but a New Zealander, and of Irish descent!


The Scandinavians, like Paris, is an engaging read. It doesn’t have fictional characters, it is non fiction, but uses many of the author’s own experiences as he travelled in Scandinavia, and reflects on its history and culture.

I had already heard of King Harald Bluetooth whose name is used for that connection you can make with your device. Another amusing name is that of the Icelandic chieftain, Thorstein Codbiter.

I will read on, Norwegian guitarist and lyricist Oystein Sunde playing softly in the background; an artist recommended by Ferguson.