Page 1

Croatia’s Mediterranean PAGE 6

St Andrews of Golf & History PAGE 8

In the heavens above Meteora’s Monasteries PAGE 18


Tea Trails in Sri Lanka PAGE 28

The women weavers of Panchachulli PAGE 40



Fellow Traveller


In another story we head to Croatia where one of our expert local guides talks about why you should visit this Mediterranean gem. If you enjoy exploring southern Europe beyond the better known destinations of Italy, France and Greece, Croatia has much to offer with treasures from its rich history to sunshine, beaches, yachting and great food and wine.


elcome to Nomads Secrets and the latest edition of Fellow Traveller.

The wonderful island of Sri Lanka features prominently in this issue. On a recent trip I found the history, wildlife and culture fascinating and the people warm and friendly. The experience of visiting a tea plantation is enhanced by the glamorous way it can be reached with a short and spectacular flight from the coast by helicopter or seaplane. Staying at an exquisitely appointed tea planter’s bungalow with your personal butler, you can spend a few relaxing and reenergising days surrounded by the perfectly manicured tea gardens. We were fortunate to meet Mr. Merrill Fernando, the founder of Dilmah Tea and feel the love and passion he has for Sri Lanka’s incredibly rich tea tradition. I hope the Sri Lankan story gives you some sense of the romantic and sensual world you can experience on this magnificent island while indulging in great comfort and luxury.

Cover Sri Dalada Maligawa (the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic) is a Buddhist temple in Kandy, Sri Lanka

We venture off the beaten trek, deep into rural India and the foothills of the Himalaya to visit a cooperative of women weavers who make outstanding pashmina and wool products. The cooperative has changed these women’s lives, providing them with the means to support the education of their children and giving them pride in their work as well as friendship and support. A dear Indian friend (who is one of India’s most renowned foodies) had told me about the weavers and it was a heart-warming experience to meet these women. If you are a golfer you may be familiar with the story of St Andrews and if you are not, then perhaps you will learn a little more of the history of the game and also the other attractions of this old and famous Scottish town. For those who love to travel to Greece there is a story about the unique UNESCO listed site of Meteora. If you have not been there yet, you may wish to add it to your next trip. With our regular features on food and travel photography, I hope Fellow Traveller provides inspiration for your next adventure. Best wishes Lucia O’Connell




R O AT I A ‘ T h e M e d i t e r r a n e a n A s I t O n c e w a s’


Port at Rovinj with its Venetian style houses

‘The Mediterranean As It Once was’. Ante, one of Nomads Secrets’ expert guides in Croatia, highlights why you should visit his country.


he ‘Mediterranean As It Once Was’ best describes Croatia and it’s position between Mitteleuropa and the Mediterranean, offering loads of experiences for those who wish to discover hidden gems on the road less travelled. Its towns still preserve elements of Roman Antiquity, Gothic, Renaissance & Baroque architecture, and for the history & culture lovers there is a plethora of sights, each enhanced with local trivialities and tidbits. For the ‘foodies’ there are plenty of organic ‘Farm-to-Table’ family run taverns tucked away in vineyards & olive groves, where aromatic plants such as rosemary, heather & sage are the norm in meals. Seafood from the turquoise Adriatic is abundant and locals stick to the saying that fish need to swim three times; in the sea, in olive oil & in wine. The Dalmatian Coast makes up almost two thirds of Croatia’s coastline, encompassing the area between internationally acclaimed Dubrovnik, hundreds of islands and the former Roman town of Zadar. The name Dalmatia derives from the ancient Illyrian Delmati tribe dating back to the 7th Century BC. The Hellenic Greeks in the 4th Century BC colonised many islands like Pharos (Hvar), Issa (Vis) & Tragos (the UNESCO island town of Trogir). From the 2nd Century BC the Dalmatian town of Salona was the most significant in the Eastern part of the Roman Empire and the birth place of Emperor Diocletian who ruled for 21 years. The 10th Century AD was the height of the Croatian Kingdom under King Tomislav. In the 15th Century Dalmatia became part of the Venetian Republic for the next 400 years, till a brief 9-year period of Napoleonic French rule followed by Austro-Hungarian dominance.


The 20th Century was turbulent for Croatia and saw the break up of Yugoslavia and the early 1990’s Homeland War. Fortunately recent decades have seen a period of prosperity and stability that have favoured the restoration of vital infrastructure to welcome the many visitors who flock to these shores each year. Dubrovnik is considered the pearl of the Croatian Coast. Its origins date back to the Hellenic era, the

vestiges of which can still be traced today as one walks along its streets. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, Dubrovnik owes its special charm to the historical monuments, the works of artists, writers & scientists who have been woven into the texture of this truly unique walled town. As we wind our way north towards central Dalmatia, we come across Split, situated on a small peninsula and named after the ancient Greeks who settled here in the 4th century BC. Split is Croatia’s second biggest city and one of its most famous monuments is the UNESCO world heritage site of Diocletian’s Palace. The Palace covers an area of 7 acres and was originally built as the emperor’s retirement place, but it was also utilised as a military camp. Today this area is the inner core of the city and generations of locals have lived within its walls for over 1,700 years contributing to its character and vibrancy.


In recent years the Island of Hvar has been known as the ‘place to see and be seen’ and has attracted loads of international celebrities. Croatia’s longest island offers a multitude of historical, cultural & natural sites and the interior is dotted with hidden ancient hamlets and lilac lavender fields. Hvar is the most luxurious and sunniest place in the country with 2,724 sun hours each year, making its inhabitants some of the happiest people in the world. For nature lovers the Krka, Mljet, Paklenica & Plitvice National Parks are other highlights not to be missed. Croatia also has a history of being the homeland for many inventions that have spread across the world. From the neck tie (the cravat), the parachute, the torpedo, high speed photography, and fingerprinting ID through to the tungsten light bulb and the ballpoint pen. And of course the Dalmatian dog!

Dubrovnik’s centre


Fort Lovrijenac, Dubrovnik


St. Mark’s, Zagreb


Streets of walled town of Ston


Bay of Kotor from the medieval fort



Peljesac Peninsula 7

Stone streets of Rovinj 4







The Old THE (not so) NEW 8

The world of golf has one home, the ancient city of St Andrews in Fife, Scotland, epitomised by the famous and unique Old Course. There is plenty that is old in this east coastal town 50kms northeast of Edinburgh. Its university is the third oldest in the English-speaking world, dating back to 1410. The ruins of its enormous cathedral, once Scotland’s largest building, date back further, to around 1160. It was finally completed and consecrated over 150 years later in 1318 in the presence of Robert the Bruce. And St Andrews Castle is of the same era. 9

The New Course at St Andrews, with the Old Course and the town in the background

T 10

he world of golf has one home, the ancient city of St Andrews in Fife, Scotland, epitomised by the famous and unique Old Course.

There is plenty that is old in this east coastal town 50kms northeast of Edinburgh. Its university is the third oldest in the English-speaking world, dating back to 1410. The ruins of its enormous cathedral, once Scotland’s largest building, date back further, to around 1160. It was finally completed and consecrated over 150 years later in 1318 in the presence of Robert the Bruce. And St Andrews Castle is of the same era.

While the estuary was inhabited since the Stone Age, the town started with an 8th century monastery to hold a number of “bits” of the disciple Saint Andrew. Apparently the monastery housed a tooth, an arm, three fingers and a kneecap! When the Cathedral was built, large numbers of pilgrims came from all over Europe to be blessed and cured in the presence of these relics. Indeed St Andrews became one of the most important towns in medieval Europe. This led to ecclesiastical and commercial wealth. But corruption and the Scottish

Reformation saw the ultimate decline of the town from the mid 1500’s. This malaise continued for over 300 years. The rise in the popularity of the game of golf and the reemergence of the University changed its fortunes.

new gutta percha balls, and I could see fine, from the expression on his face, that he did not like it at all and, when we met afterwards in his shop, we had some high words about the matter, and there and then parted company, I leaving his employment.”

King David I of Scotland granted the links land connecting the sea with the land proper to the people of St Andrews for recreation in 1123. And the favourite recreation became golf. We don’t know how and when the game started, probably as a shepard’s game played with stick and stone. It was established well enough by 1457 to be banned by King James II who was concerned it was distracting his bowmen from archery practice (and at the time he was very worried about an English invasion). While the ban stayed, people played and James VI set the game’s future when he took it to England when he became King of both realms.

Guttie balls being much cheaper and easier to play were a contributing factor in bringing golf to the masses.

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, one of the governing bodies of today’s world game, was formed in 1754. Aristocratic members played with professionals and wagered on their man in hard fought matches. In the 1850’s the best of the professionals was Allan Robertson. It was said he was never beaten. Born in St Andrews in 1815, Robertson’s father and grandfather had both been caddies serving the Royal and Ancient. He was the first golfer to break 80 on the Old Course, shooting 79 in 1858. He was also renowned as a ball maker with his shop near the 18th green. Feathery balls were made by packing ‘a hat full’ of wet feathers through a slit in a three-piece leather ball. This was done with a tool that used the maker’s chest to apply the pressure. It was very hard work and the balls were expensive. Top quality featheries as produced by Robertson and his apprentice Tom Morris, would fetch 5/- or a crown. In 1844 Robertson and Morris made some 2,456 balls.

When Allan died in 1859, it was decided that a tournament would be held to find a new “Champion Golfer of the Year.” In 1860 this tournament was held at Prestwick Golf Cub, marking the first Open Championship. Old Tom was to win it 4 times and when his prodigiously talented son, Young Tommy won for the third time in successive years (in 1868 beating his father by 3 stokes when he was 17, the youngest winner to this day, and then comprehensively beating all comers in 1869 and 1870), he got to keep the Moroccan leather Championship Belt. A new trophy had to be found and that was the claret jug that is held aloft by victors today. Tommy won again in 1872 but tragically died in 1875 aged just 24. Old Tom, following his firing by Robertson, went to work at Preswick Golf Club and later returned to St Andrews in 1865 as greenkeeper and professional. He was to stay in the job for 39 years.

Today a Robertson feathery stamped with ALLAN is almost priceless. Tom Morris, who became better known as Old Tom, fell out with his then employer in 1851 when he was caught playing with a new gutta percha (gum) ball. As Old Tom related in “Golf Illustrated” of the event, ” … as we were playing in, it so happened that we met Allan Robertson coming out, and someone told him I was playing a very good game with one of the



The father of modern greenkeeping, Old Tom introduced a number of innovative techniques such as sand top dressing of greens, separate tees, wider fairways, cups in the holes and yardage markers. More significantly he designed or improved a number of courses across the British Isles and incorporated the modern idea of design where hazards were placed in such a way that the golfer can strategically play around them. This differed from the idiosyncratic nature of the Old Course.

Old Tom outlived all his family and died in 1908, just before his 87th birthday. He fell down the stairs of the New Club, apparently mistaking the door to the cellar with that of the men’s room!

Many golfers (including your correspondent) regard the New Course as Old Tom’s greatest achievement. It opened in April 1895 and is possibly the oldest new course in the world. A student of the game can see and feel exactly what Old Tom intended. The demands of each shot are clear yet the layout is far from simple. It is a delight to play, fair but demanding with its challenge steadily growing as you approach the final holes.

There is much to see in St Andrews; it has a rich history. And if you are a golfer then you not only have history to absorb, but golf to play.

Old Tom, is buried alongside his beloved Tommy and others of his family in the graveyard of the Cathedral grounds, not far from Allan Robertson. Golfers come and pay homage to three men who helped fashion the game and are legends today as they were in their lifetimes.

Postscript The Open returns to the Old Course every 5 years and was last there in 2015. Given that 2021 marks the 150th Open, the betting is that the R&A will be changing this router to run this anniversary event at St Andrews. It would be fitting to do so..



St Andrews Scrapbook From top left clockwise: Old Tom Morris, Hell Bunker on the 14th of the Old Course with walls much taller than any golfer unfortunate enough to enter, The Martyrs Memorial, an early travel poster, the West Sands that adjoin the links land and featured in Chariots of Fire, the original Champion Belt retained by Young Tommy Morris after his third successive win, Professional golfers in 1867, Old Tom and Tommy are 3rd and 2nd from the right, Allan Robertson’s grave in the Cathedral grounds, Tommy’s scorecard from his historic third title and his and his father’s graves, the famous Claret Jug.


Bespoke special tours now in planning

Feb 2017 TRACKING THE SNOW LEOPARD February/ March is the best time to seek this elusive cat in its wild habitat in the Himalaya. It is mating season and the leopards are active. The region’s best guide will lead our small group and the trip extends to experience the monasteries of Ladakh.

Feb 2017 CARNEVALE IN VENICE This will be a spectacular trip where you will be part of the carnevale celebrations. It will include elaborate costumes and masks, tickets to the main balls and culminate in the Mardi Gras. Ideal to do with a small group of friends. This will be an experience of a lifetime. Carnevale in 2017 runs from February 20 through 28.

May and Oct 2017 SERENGETI, NGORONGORO, ZANZIBAR A specially crafted and guided adventure in Tanzania. Visit Kilimanjaro, Oldavai, Tarangire. This trip will cover the wonders of the wildlife, people and history of East Africa. 16

All in luxury, with the best guides and local knowledge.

Interested? Register now by emailing Lucia at These trips will be developed in conjunction with the participants.


IN THE HEAVENS ABOVE Meteora, the extraordinary site of the UNESCO listed complex of Eastern Orthodox monasteries, is around 350 kms north of Athens, right in the centre of Greece.



The Monastery of Varlaam


he monasteries, built between the 14th and 16th centuries are perched on massive rock pillars. From afar these unusual and huge columns look like solid rock, but they are actually composed of a mixture of sandstone and conglomerate (itself a mix of stone, sand and mud from a delta). What was once an upheaval of the seabed has weathered in a unique way at Meteora to produce these spectacular formations. The area has seen human habitation since the time of the Neanderthals and the Theopetra Cave near the township of Kalambaka has the earliest known manmade structure, a stone wall dating back 23,000 years.


In the Middle Ages (in the 9th century) ascetic hermit monks lived in hollows in the rock pillars, some over 500m above the plain. This austere life and the sheer cliff walls kept people away. By the early 12th century this community had grown and in 1344 Athanasios Koinovitis brought his followers from Greece’s most important religious site, Mt Athos, to Meteora where over the next 30 years they established the Meteoran monastery. Here the monks were safe from the outside world and especially Turkish marauders as the Byzantine Empire’s power was waning. The only access was by a rope ladder that could

be drawn up into the monastery. Over 20 monasteries were built and six remain today. The second largest, Varlaam built in 1517, was said to house the finger of St John and the shoulder blade of St Andrew! Pilgrims were hoisted up the 300m cliff face in nets with ropes pulled in by wooden winches; an experience that certainly would have tested their faith. In the 1920’s steps were cut into the rock so modern visitors and pilgrims don’t have to entrust their lives to an old rope. The Great Meteoran monastery is accessible by bridge. Still, to visit all the monasteries, expect to do some climbing. Today there are relatively few inhabitants in each monastery, with four lived in by monks and two by nuns. Each has unique relics and small museums. The view from their parapets is simply spectacular.

Monastery of Great Meteoron, the largest of the monasteries located at Meteora



The Monasteries contain wonderful iconography, museums and relics covering their almost 700-year history as well as poignant reminders of the austere lives of the monks who inhabited them.



If you leave Athens early, Meteora is around a 4-hour plus drive. However a visit is better part of a wider tour, visiting Delphi, the home of the Oracle, and carrying on to the eastern port town of Volos to catch a ferry or hydrofoil to the islands of Skiathos and Skopelos. All can be done in the comfort of a Mercedes limousine with an expert guide as your driver.




Great eating from around the world


escheria Cucina Silocco, Riviera Armando Diaz, Gallipoli, Italy

Situated on the heel of Italy on the Ionian sea Gallipoli literally means “beautiful city” and this coastal town lives up to its name. The old town centre sits on a tiny island connected to the mainland by a 17th century bridge. It is almost completely surrounded by defensive walls, built mainly in the 14th century. Walk along the seawall and you will come to a number of outdoor restaurants. We arrived very hungry at Pescheria Cucina Silocco as other patrons were finishing up their lunch and the restaurant was getting ready to shut. No problem. I can’t remember the name of our cook and host, but I remember her absolutely delicious food. It is a great spot to eat well, drink a little wine and enjoy watching the world pass by along the promenade with the blue of the bay as a backdrop.


Tea 28


Lucia O’Connell explores the beauty, history and traditions of Sri Lanka’s most famous industry


I recently spent two weeks tra wonderful, surprising tropical attractions and some wonder


he racial troubles on the island are now a distant memory. I found a happy and friendly people, fantastic produce and great food, especially seafood, excellent roads and expanding tourist facilities for the top-end traveller. There are a number of national parks, but Yala on the southeast coast is probably the best known. There are herds of elephant, crocodile, water buffalo and a profusion of birdlife; photographers will have a field day. We saw three leopards, a mother and two cubs, in a tree from about 200 metres away, a thrill in itself until later, just before leaving, we came upon a singular male relaxing on a rocky outcrop just a few metres from our jeep.


avelling all around Sri Lanka and discovered a l paradise, rich in nature and culture with unique rful places to stay.

Elephant in Udawalawe National Park and a close encounter with a leopard in Yala




hen there is the coast. As you might expect of an island paradise, fishing pays a major role. Sri Lankans dry a lot of the catch to preserve it. Just north of the capital Colombo up to 3000 fishing skiffs can arrive before dawn supplying fish to a bustling and colourful market. Here I met a middle aged fisherman eager to share his encounter with renowned chefs Rick Stein and Peter Kuruvita and how for a brief moment he was catapulted from the anonymity of a beach in the Indian Ocean to the TV screens of distant armchair travellers across the world. Sri Lanka is largely Buddhist and its history is rich. Our guide gave us stories of the rise and fall of kings with long and complex names, the development of vast monasteries and impregnable fortresses. Extraordinary carvings, with the Buddha lying on a stone pillow so carved that it appears soft, temples with hundreds of statues and exquisite paintings of ancient queens high on what was a rocky fortress. Add Hindu rites and traditional dance, this island offers a tremendous cultural heritage to the visitor and scenery that is just spectacular.


Locals say Sri Lanka has two exports, their cricket team and tea.

Being Italian I was not brought up with the game of cricket, but thought I knew a little about tea. Soon however I gained a whole new appreciation for our daily cuppa.

up for large-scale production. As the saying goes, the rest is history. By 1875 there were a thousand tea plantations in Ceylon and Lipton’s fortune had burgeoned… dramatically.

Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world, after water! Surprisingly all teas come from the same plant, Camillia sinensis, a relation of your garden Camellia. Anything else is more correctly called herbal tea or tisane (i.e.: chamomile and fruit teas).

While there have been some ups and downs in the island’s tea industry, it is in good shape. The climate allows year round production and there are microclimates that provide surprising variations given that almost all Sri Lankan production is black tea. Today Sri Lanka is second only to Kenya in tea exports.

Obviously climatic differences, soil and growing conditions and how tea is processed underpin both style and quality. While tea has been known in China for around 5000 years, Ceylonese tea is a relative newcomer, yet it is the world’s fourth largest producer and revered for its consistent high quality and taste. Sri Lanka (Ceylon before 1972) has a tropical climate offset by mountains in the centre of the island that rise to around 8000 feet. Ideal growing conditions! But until the 1860’s there were no tea plantations. Coffee dominated. Then a young Scot who worked on a coffee farm started experimenting with other crops, and in particular tea. In 1869 a parasitic fungus all but wiped out the coffee fields across Ceylon leaving farmers in financial ruin. They looked to other crops and James Taylor’s experiments with tea at Loolecondera where he had just 7 acres planted. 34

As luck would have it, the grocery mogul, Thomas Lipton was holidaying in Ceylon at the time. He saw an opportunity to bring tea (then a relative luxury) to the working classes of England by cutting out the middlemen. He met Taylor, bought up the now bankrupt coffee farms, planted tea gardens and set


“... the tea fields of Ceylon are as true a monument to courage as is the lion at Waterloo.” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


The Dilmah Story While we were in Sri Lanka we met up with the Fernando family, at their wonderful resort on the coast at Weligama. They were celebrating the 85th birthday of the Founder of Dilmah, Merrill Fernando. He started the company in the 1950’s and now works alongside his two sons Dilhan and Malik, after whom the company is named. Today Dilmah is the only vertically integrated tea company with its own tea gardens – some of Ceylon’s best estates – and state-of-the-art printing & packaging facilities, tea packing and investments in every segment of the industry. As Merrill says, “my family cares for your tea, from the tea nursery right to your teacup,” and each pack of Dilmah Tea carries Merrill’s personal guarantee. When Fernando started, product labeled Ceylon Tea was no guarantee of purity of origin. The big tea companies cut costs in production and blended for profit. As a result quality was compromised. Merrill followed his dream to offer Ceylon’s finest tea, picked, packed and shipped directly from origin. His commitment to quality, integrity of the product and his personalised approach to marketing has yielded recognition and success. He views business as a matter of human service and Dilmah’s success is being shared through humanitarian and conservation foundations to improve the futures of many thousands of Sri Lankans and of the sustainable development of the country itself.


Lucia with Malik, Merrill and Dilhan Fernando



isiting the tea plantations in the mountainous centre of the island was a real highlight of our trip. Staying in the homely luxury of a restored colonial planters home, we were taken through one of the factories by a descendent of James Taylor and himself a planter. It was just a fascinating experience to learn from someone with such knowledge, experience and passion.


I won’t presume to go into the finer details of the process, how the leaves are plucked, dried, rolled, fermented and roasted. It is something to see first hand. At our bungalow our private butler prepared a wonderful afternoon tea each day and we learned how to make the perfect cup to best release the flavours and antioxidants. The beautifully presented cakes and sandwiches made this tradition a delightful relaxation after a day of walking through the deep green hills of the tea gardens.

The planters’ bungalows as well as a number of other hotels and resorts across the island provide world-class luxury and cater for your every need. And the food reflects the high quality of local produce and the skills of your executive chef. It is important to plan well to ensure that you optimise your time in Sri Lanka. It is a place to explore, to experience the extraordinary and also a place to decompress and relax. For me it was both surprising Sri Lanka and also beguiling Sri Lanka. Consider a visit either as a separate holiday or as part of a trip to the Maldives or India. You wont be disappointed. 1

Norwood, one of the luxuriously converted planters bungalows


With planter Andrew Taylor, descendant of the pioneer of the Sri

Lankan tea industry view from Sigiriya


Scens from the Dunkeld Factory








The Kumaon (the mountainous region of Uttaranchal) sits in the Himalayas of Northern India, near the border with Tibet and Nepal. From the summer retreat/pilgrimage town of Almora, you can see the five snow-covered peaks of the Panchachuli range. These “five brothers� preside over a beautiful and spiritually significant part of India, the homeland of Lord Shiva.



A cooperative of over 800 women from 35 villages use traditional hand weaving skills and the highest quality raw materials (pashmina, cashmere and merino) to make a range of exquisite shawls and textiles that are now sold around the world under the Panchachuli brand. The women are shareholders in the cooperative as well as receiving a wage for their work.


project developed from an idea by activist and conservationist Mukti Datta. In the mid 1980’s Mukti, who was brought up in the region by her Indian father and Belgian mother, initiated a campaign to save the unique habitat of the Binsar forests, which had been ravaged from tree cutting, poaching and fire. She formed Jan Jagaran Samiti (the Society for the Empowerment of the Population) and through her drive and persistence, the Binsar was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1988. This project highlighted that the women in the region bore the responsible and the hard work of looking after livestock, collecting firewood as well as keeping the home, all for little or no respect or recognition. Mukti looked for ways to allow women to earn a living that also protected the environment and improved their lives.

The women weavers idea came from a chance meeting with a woman from Sauka Bhotia tribe of trans Himalayan traders. Kunthi Martiola, a master weaver of pashmina shawls was enlisted to train village women in the fine arts of spinning and weaving. The early efforts however were hamstrung by the lack of access to quality wools, due to the discontinuation of trade with Tibet. The women trained on local course lambswool, but the demand for their low value output was limited. It wasn’t until the mid 1990’s that trade with Tibet opened up and Mukti was able over time to establish supplies of pashmina. This transformed the operations and opened the opportunity to develop a high quality brand and provide real benefits to the weaver owners.


1997 Mukti met journalist Dena Kaye, daughter of entertainer Danny Kaye and president of his charitable foundation. Kaye had a long history of working with UNICEF and the foundation was looking for projects to help women in India. This led to the development of the weavers cooperative as well as the establishment of a hospital. Today the weavers occupy the original hospital site. The project has transformed many of the women’s lives, creating additional income and better opportunity for their families. While not revolutionary the weavers of Panchachuli are a force for evolutionary change in the roles and respect for women within their region and a shining example of what can be achieved when passion, focus, support and good commercial direction come together in an enterprise that produces more than simply a quality product.



Asha’s Story Asha Mehta is a senior weaver. She has been employed for 17 years. Her husband is a farmer working his own land and doing farm work for others.


When Asha was originally approached to join the training programme to become a weaver she was happy to do so as she was encouraged by her motherin-law to go out of the house and earn a living. Working and earning money has given her a lot of confidence and courage. She is happy she has had the financial capacity to educate her children and give them the same opportunities as other young people living in the plains. She wanted her children to be able to be part of the modern world through education and to benefit from what is then available to them.

Asha’s personal power and standing in the family has also increased over the years. Her children recognise that it is through their mother’s work and commitment to their education that they have opportunities that would otherwise not have been available to them had she stayed home as a traditional farmer’s wife.

The couple have four now adult children. 27-yearold twin daughters, one a nurse and the other a schoolteacher with another daughter (23) married and also working as a hospital nurse. Their 26-year-old son is also married and is building a career in the IT industry in Delhi. Asha’s strong conviction about the importance of education extends to now encouraging her daughter-in-law, so she in turn will be able to teach future grandchildren how to take advantage of the opportunities of their time and so continue to improve their condition.

When she stops working Asha looks forward to going on a pilgrimage to Bhutan, Mumbai and other sacred locations partly with the money she has saved and partly aided by her children who now all have good career prospects thanks to her ability to educate them.

While Asha still has to manage the household responsibilities after work, she feels empowered by the skills she has acquired and says she feels good about herself. She feels very happy to have been able to save money as well.

Asha has no interest in travelling outside the subcontinent.


Landscapes and Landmarks





tips to bring home better pictures of the places you visit In this edition of Fellow Traveller I will cover a few simple tips that should help you bring home some better and different shots from your next trip. What makes a great shot? Sure it is great to reproduce the classic postcard image of the Taj Mahal or the Eiffel Tower and you should make that shot but know that millions have something almost exactly the same (or you could just buy the postcard!). But shoot the same subject in a slightly different or innovative way and you might end up with really interesting and special. Here are some tips that might help you do just that. Unmistakable landmark, different perspective.



tips to bring home better pictures of the places you visit... In this edition of Fellow Traveller I will cover a few simple tips that should help you bring home some better and different shots from your next trip. What makes a great shot? Sure it is great to reproduce the classic postcard image of the Taj Mahal or the Eiffel Tower and you should make that shot but know that millions have something almost exactly the same (or you could just buy the postcard!). But shoot the same subject in a slightly different or innovative way and you might end up with really interesting and special.

Here are some tips that might help you do just that.


Pick your time

The best light is for the first couple of hours after dawn and the last couple of hours before sundown. The light is warmer and softer and makes for better pictures. So plan to be at places you want to shoot around these times. Of course twilight, especially when something is lit up or there are street lights (think Paris) offers lots of opportunities. Also plan to avoid masses of other tourists/people if they don’t add to the scene. For example Grand Central Station in New York needs people in the frame, lots of them, the Taj maybe not (go early!).


Switch your vantage point

Look for a different angle not just by moving horizontally but also vertically. What about putting the camera down to footpath level or climbing up some stairs to change the view. Always look for a different and better vantage point. Would the subject look better or more interesting from above? If so start looking for a building rooftop that you might be able to get access to.


Tony Sernack is a freelance photographer based in Sydney. His work has appeared in the New York Times and International Herald Tribune. His most recent book ‘One Week Before’ documents the new year celebrations in Nepal just a week before the devastating earthquake of April 2015. All proceeds from the sale of the book are going to help the reconstruction of schools. It can be purchased through the Australian Himalayan Foundation.


Put the landmark in the background

Very familiar structures are just that…familiar. How can you add interest in the foreground? For instance a shot of a café, narrow streets with the Eiffel Tower in the background may say a lot more about Paris. The famous Natgeo photographer Joe McNally once told me that he had never seen a landscape that wasn’t improved by the addition of a person as the main subject.


Check out details

Often parts of a building, the juxtaposition of shapes, can be more interesting than a plain shot of the building as a whole. Look out for details; a close up of part of an old car may say Havana as strongly as a more standard shot. Also if you plan to put together an digital album on your return lots of shots of details will provide the atmosphere around your hero shots.


Use what is in front of you

Use an arch, window or doorway to frame your subject matter and create a more interesting shot. Use the leading lines of a roadway or a fence or wall to draw the viewer into the shot and create patterns. Above all think. Be patient not just to wait for people to move or cars to go by but with yourself. Wait for the light, wait for the right time, think about the shot you’d like to make and then go about putting yourself in the position to make it. Generally with travel shots you have time to look and compose.

Taken from the side this isn’t the usual shot of the Taj; it benefits from the depth and contrast of the red coloured mosque. Note also there are no people in the shot.

This sunset shot (taken in Jim Corbett National Park in Northern India) is made much stronger by adding the people.

Lake Louise in Canada. Imagine the shot without the canoes.


The fishing village of Crail in Scotland. To get this view meant going to the next headland from the village.

And here is a detail shot. The two together tell a bit of a story.


Using the framing of the window and the light on the girls face. A much more interesting image of Havana Harbour, Cuba.

Below, using the lines of colour of the prayer mats to enhance perspective.



Great journeys a as a core for yo

A Special Christmas – India Enjoy Christmas and New Year’s Eve among the ancient architectural treasures of Karnataka and the tropical splendors of Kerala.

A Photographer’s Dream – China Capture the stunning beauty of China’s “Golden Sea ” when millions of rapeseed bloom and the Yuan Yang rice terraces glisten like a stairway to heaven.

March Escape – Sri Lanka Discover the best of Sri Lanka in grand style and with passionate local academics as your mentors. Stay in wonderful handpicked properties meticulously and thoughtfully designed with your comfort and the environment in mind.


Nomads Secrets craft highly personalised and out-of-the-ordinary i knowledge and relaxation. No matter where you wish to t

are best planned well in advance. Here are some thought starters our next bespoke adventure.

Easter in the Andes – Peru Get ready to explore Peru a land of stunning beaches, lofty peaks, charming villages and of course the great Amazon Basin. Add unforgettable legends and centuries-old ruins and you have the perfect destination for a most memorable holiday.

A life-changing journey – Tanzania Discover the heart-breaking beauty, cultural diversity, wildlife and history of Tanzania with professional naturalists and scientists. See the world’s largest concentration of elephants per square kilometre before descending into the mouth of the extinct Ngorongoro Crater, home to 25,000 animals.

Autumn Delights – Italy Voyage through the splendors of Italy during Autumn and enjoy the changing colours of nature as the bright tones of the summer give way to the warm hues of yellows, browns and reds tinging the countryside as you travel unveiling off-the-beaten-track locations and discovering little-known facts and anecdotes about iconic places in your itinerary.

itineraries that match your interests, combine luxury with discovery, travel, we will work with you to create the perfect holiday.



Fellow Traveller eMag Edition 3  

Specially designed for that enthusiastic band of travellers who like to venture off the beaten track to experience countries and cultures th...

Fellow Traveller eMag Edition 3  

Specially designed for that enthusiastic band of travellers who like to venture off the beaten track to experience countries and cultures th...