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Listen to Excess Baggage for

16 June 2007


The Jebel Lubnan snowy mountain range of Lebanon gave the country its name.  Its Mediterranean climate, varied scenery and café society made it, for many years, a centre for holiday makers from both Europe and the Middle East. 

The civil war in the seventies and eighties changed it all.  Tourism, along with other important service industries like banking, had just about re-established themselves when last year Lebanon returned to strife.

John McCarthy is joined by journalist Alex Klaushofer, author of Paradise Divided: A portrait of Lebanon and Dr Edward Wickham Director of Music at St Catharine’s College Cambridge who has visited Lebanon many times working with choirs there.  They discuss the beauty of the country and the increasingly unlikely prospects of it regenerating its tourist industry.

Edward Enfield
has saddled up in countries across Europe while Tom Kevill Davies, aka the Hungry Cyclist, has just come to the end of a very long bike ride through the Americas.

They reveal the pleasures and pains of developing their muscles and breathing fresh air as they tackled the Massif Central or the Andes.

Presented by John McCarthy

Lebanon - Saida, the Sea Castle

Photo:  Lebanon - Saida, the Sea Castle

This week’s guests:

This week’s guests:

Alex Klaushofer
is an author and journalist who writes on social affairs and politics in Britain and the Middle East.

Her book Paradise Divided: A spiritual adventure in Lebanon is an account of her journeys to Lebanon between 2004 and 2006. In it Alex observes and portrays the everyday life of the people of Lebanon against the background of struggle and conflict. Alex met ordinary people and talked to them about their day to day concerns, about diets and trying to lose weight, sexuality and going on day trips.

Alex has just got back from the funeral of the MP Walid Eido who was killed in an explosion in Beirut on Wednesday 13th June.

Paradise Divided: A portrait of Lebanon
Publisher: Signal Books Ltd
ISBN-10: 1904955355
ISBN-13: 978-1904955351

The Human Face of Lebanon
by Alex Klaushofer (Guardian 24 July 2006)

Dr Edward Wickham is Director of Music at St Catharine’s College in Cambridge as well as a freelance choral coach.  About five years ago Edward went on a holiday to Lebanon with his wife to visit her family.  Some time later he was invited to conduct the choir of the American University in Beirut (AUB). 

He has visited many places of interest in Lebanon and most recently has been trying to arrange exchange visits of choirs between Lebanon and the UK.  At the end of June, St Catharine's Choir will be hosting two choirs from Lebanon, from the University of Balamand and from the American University of Beirut.

Choir concerts: Qadduson: Sacred Songs from East and West
Intersperse movements from Buxtehude's exquisite cantata cycle Membra Jesu nostri with Byzantine, Maronite and Gregorian chant.

Listings Details:
Wed 27 June, 7.30 pm: Merton College Chapel, Merton St, Oxford OX1 4JD
Thur 28 June, 1.10 pm: Ely Cathedral, Ely, Cambs CB7 4DL
Sat 30 June, 6.00 pm: St Catharine’s College Chapel, Trumpington St, Cambridge CB2 1RL
Admission Free: Retiring Collection. Tickets can be reserved by e-mailing

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office's (FCO)
Travel Advice Notices aim to ensure that British travellers are well prepared before departure

BBC recommends: Middle-East UK – Lebanon
This non-political tourist information guide provides a somewhat text-heavy but detailed background on the major cities in Lebanon

Tribes with Flags
by Charles Glass
Publisher: Avalon Travel Publishing
ISBN-10: 0871134578 - ISBN-13: 978-0871134578

Some Other Rainbow
by John McCarthy (Author), Jill Morrell (Author)
Publisher: Corgi Adult
ISBN-10: 055213953X - ISBN-13: 978-0552139533

Edward Enfield is a writer and columnist for the Oldie magazine and has used his retirement from his career in educational management to rekindle a love of cycling for pleasure.  His latest adventures across the channel are recounted in his latest book Downhill All the Way: Cycling Through France from La Manche to the Mediterranean.

Downhill All the Way: Cycling Through France from La Manche to the Mediterranean
Publisher: Summersdale Publishers
ISBN-10: 1840245603 - ISBN-13: 978-1840245608

Greece on My Wheels
by Edward Enfield (Author), Harry Enfield (Author)
Publisher: Summersdale Publishers
ISBN-10: 1840242809
ISBN-13: 978-1840242805

Freewheeling Through Ireland
Publisher: Summersdale Publishers
ISBN-10: 1840245085
ISBN-13: 978-1840245080

Tom Kevill Davies is a freelance graphic designer and part-time food writer based in London. On 14 May 2005 Tom, ‘The Hungry Cyclist’, set off from New York on an epic pedal across the Americas in search of the perfect meal and to raise money for Macmillan cancer relief.  On his website he invites people to tell him where to go for his next meal on the journey.

He has wended his way to Toronto and Chicago, and then heading down through the states, via the west coast, to South America.  He went via Mexico down through central Colombia, aiming for the West Coast.  Tom has cycled over fifteen thousand miles and through fifteen countries.  He has just arrived in Rio at the end of his journey and is staying in Ipanema in a backpacking hostel.

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John McCarthy John McCarthy is a widely travelled journalist and presenter with a particular interest in the Middle East.
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