I have been collecting H.V. Morton’s books on travel writing ever since discovering his classic ‘In Search of England’ a couple of years ago. I love the feeling and sense of time and place that his writing style evokes of the old-world. It is the kind of travel writing that is tinged with a kind of romantic nostalgia. I also love the covers and printing format that the publisher Methuen Publishing has adopted in their editions of the books. They have that classic look and feel to them which I find really appealing.
Have you ever come across any books that has the gist of its pages’ contents summarised and printed as title headings at the top of every alternate page? The one which I am now reading, A Stranger in Spain, has. Isn’t that novel? I find this truly refreshing, not to mention very helpful too, as a travel book.
I probably would not have pulled this off the shelves to read at this time if not for the fact that a very dear friend of mine has just embarked on her ten day Spanish adventure. And myself, being close to an ignoramus as to the geographical, historical as well as cultural aspects of the country, I thought this would be a good opportunity to read up and gear myself in the hope of being able to carry out some form of ‘intelligible’ conversation with my friend when she comes back. :p
Surprisingly, I find myself rather enjoying the reading, more than I had expected.
H. V. Morton writes with much humour, charm and sincerity, as he takes the reader on a leisurely tour through a country where the past is very much alive, and its people just as bustling and alive too.
A Spaniard was standing on my feet and I was holding a small child : in other words, the autobus was almost full. In some amazing way, more people managed to force themselves in, driving those who were already standing into even closer intimacy.
Sitting in front of me were two nuns, who wore immense wimples of starched linen, but they were more architectural then wimples: they were really a survival of those elaborate and laundered headdresses of the Middle Ages, like the hennin, or the steeple, which towered, slanted and drooped in infinite variety through the fifteenth century, with many a reproach from the pulpit and many a compliment from the troubadour.
They were designed not for a small motor-bus but for an ample world of gateways, and I noticed with admiration how skillfully the nuns wore them from force of habit and, like cats, which know the exact width of their whiskers, were aware to a fraction of an inch how much they might move their heads without causing a linen collision above them.
It was curious to think that a naughty headdress which was designed as a provoking piece of coquetry should have come to rest upon the heads of nuns.
H.V. Morton, A Stranger in Spain ~ Chapter IV