A new book published by Honno Press ("In Her Element" edited by Jane MacNamee) inspires hidden europe editor Nicky Gardner to reflect on wild Wales.
Slow, slow fell the first of the winter snow, thick mushy November flakes that within a few hours draped the whole valley. Talyllyn colliding with winter. A heavy blanket of cloud hung over Cadair. In the early afternoon, I strode off through the slush and climbed up towards the lake that nestles in a perfect round bowl beneath Cadair's great summit. Parsley fern, grey shale and lots of damp snow. I have always been entranced by the landscapes of Wales, and wrote with feeling about the country in the November 2007 issue of hidden europe. ‘The Road to Abergwesyn' is the only really autobiographical essay that we have ever published in the magazine.
Wales is something special. Early travellers from England - mostly men - braved awful roads and a paucity of accommodation to make long journeys through the Principality. From Daniel Defoe, who found the place too full of rocks and mountains, to Lord Tennyson who despaired at the great sheets of driving rain that drenched Cadair Idris.
Nicky Gardner is editor of hidden europe and also the principal author of the magazine. Where a text is not specifically attributed to an author, it is the work of Nicky. Below, you’ll find a small selection of her articles in hidden europe magazine. Nicky also writes regularly for other media. She is co-author (with Susanne Kries) of the book Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide, the 16th edition of which was published in late 2019.
Nicky Gardner was liberated from a life enslaved to performance indicators and business plans to become a travel writer. In fairness, travel has always been a major element of her career. Having experienced Germany as a Gastarbeiterin (guest worker) after leaving school, Nicky subsequently studied geography in Wales, and went to work in oddball corners of the globe: in the Canadian Rockies, on the fringes of the Sahara in North Africa and in a community on the edge of things in Ireland. These adventures, and a spell of consultancy in eastern Europe, paved the way for the journey that is hidden europe.
Nicky reads geography books, railway timetables and maps entirely for pleasure - and lots of real books too! She claims to have visited every inhabited island in the Hebrides, and loves nothing more than a slow meander by public transport around some unsung part of Europe. Nicky is particularly interested in issues of identity and culture in eastern Europe and the Balkans, in linguistic minorities and in island communities. Her pet loves are public libraries, Armenian food and anything coloured purple. Nicky cannot abide suburban sprawl, supermarkets and fast trains. Nicky has since 2007 been a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers. Her favourite contemporary travel writers are Jan Morris, Dervla Murphy and Philip Marsden. Nicky is especially keen on historical travel writing: Edith Durham, Gertrude Bell and Isabelle Eberhardt are among her favourites. Nicky can be contacted at editors [at] hiddeneurope.co.uk.