Travels with My Hat

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Christine Osborne, 2013 - Biography & Autobiography - 288 pages
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The remarkable story of how an Australian nurse became an award-winning travel writer and acclaimed photographer working alone in some of the most offbeat places on earth. This was trailblazing travel in a time well before the internet: before travel rating websites advised where to stay and before mass tourism disturbed the culture of many countries. In 1979 Christine Osborne travelled with the Buckingham Palace Press Corps to cover Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's tour of the Arab states. The hat incident of the title refers to a moment in Nizwa, in the Sultanate of Oman, when the Queen became separated from the royal party in the labyrinthine souq. Christine's other adventures in Yemen, Pakistan, Morocco, Ethiopia and Iraq are rounded off with letters to her mother who had never left Australia. Travels with My Hat: A lifetime on the road is an extraordinary account by a cool-headed young woman carrying her camera-bag and wearing her trusty blue hat.

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This unusual travel book is very much the story of a huge slab of the author's life. While we readers enjoyed our creature comforts, Christine Osborne dipped more and more into several Middle Eastern countries. Not much comfort or safety for her! Indeed, a shortage of clean water and not a lot to eat, for a great deal of the time. Dysfunctional and despotically ruled, the countries she visits - even at some risk to her personal safety - may or may not appeal to you as a traveller but she has done it for you. I'd like to see the enduring monuments from a thousand years ago but accomplishments since then have been rather minimal in these places of grime, crime, hunger and poverty where rich rulers just don't seem to care much about the ordinary, long-suffering folk on the ground. Readers owe a lot to you, Chris, for giving us this vicarious experience. And if your Mum had known what you were going through, she'd have had kanipchens.
Comment from Barrie Smillie, Canberra, Australia
 

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