BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

Accessibility help
Text only
BBC Homepage
BBC Radio
BBC Radio 4 - 92 to 94 FM and 198 Long WaveListen to Digital Radio, Digital TV and OnlineListen on Digital Radio, Digital TV and Online

Radio 4 Tickets
Radio 4 Help

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!


Go to the Listen Again page

Listen to Excess Baggage for

03 November 2007

is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Bulgaria.  The children’s author Caroline Lawrence, best known for her series of mysteries set in the Roman Empire, recently returned from Sofia where she had travelled in search of vestiges of the ancient ways, in the streets, markets and churches of the modern city.  She tells John McCarthy how after observing people and places she is able to incorporate them into her writing.

In many parts of the world traditional customs are often just below the surface of the twenty first century life. Travel writer Nick Maes, visited Hawaii where he found evidence of a new sense of the islands’ identity expressed in a resurgence of the local language. He shares his experience of how much of the indigenous culture remains in America’s 50th State.

Filmmaker and author Hugh Thomson talks about his trip to Qoyllurit’i, on the glaciers of the high Andes, to attend the Festival of the Snows, a Christian festival, based on much older pagan practices dating back to pre-Columbian times.

Presented by John McCarthy

An Alpaca herder and his family in the Andes region Peru

Photo: An Alpaca herder and his family in the Andes region Peru

This week’s guests:

Caroline Lawrence is an American author, best known for The Roman Mysteries series of historical novels for children. The series is about a Roman girl called Flavia and her three friends: Nubia (a freed slave girl), Jonathan (a shunned Christian boy) and Lupus (a beggar boy without a tongue).

The first series of dramatisations is being repeated from Saturday 3rd Nov on CBBC.  This summer Caroline was in Sofia, Bulgaria spending a few days at Boyana Studios where they filmed the television series. When filming stopped for the weekend Caroline decided to explore Sofia looking for traces of its Roman past.

Bulgaria was part of what was called Thrace then and there are some physical remains in the form of ruins or artefacts in the Museums; but, what Caroline also looked for where relics of the past in the habits and customs of everyday life.

The Roman Mysteries Treasury
Publisher: Orion Childrens
ISBN-10: 1842556029
ISBN-13: 978-1842556023

The Beggar of Volubilis: Roman Mystery 14 (The Roman Mysteries)
Publisher: Orion Childrens
ISBN-10: 1842551892 

Nick Maes
is a novelist and Guardian travel writer.  Nick has worked in various fields over the years, in theatre, fashion, radio and as a journalist. He has published two novels: Not Dark Yet which is set in the Aeolian Islands and The Africa Bar which is set in Zanzibar. Recently Nick visited Hawaii to write an article about celebrity tourists who visit the islands.

The archipelago of Hawaii is about 2 ½ thousand miles from the USA (a five hours’ flight from Los Angeles).  Situated in the tropics and it consists of hundreds of tiny islands spread over about 1,500 miles of Pacific.  There are eight main islands all in the south of the archipelago, the biggest is the island of Hawaii called the Big Island to avoid confusion with the overall name.  The capital Honolulu is on the most populous island, Ouahu.
Hugh Thomson is a writer and an award winning film-maker. Hugh has been going to Peru for more than twenty years uncovering its Inca past. His first book, The White Rock: an exploration of the Inca heartland, was the result of a long quest to explore and understand the Peruvian Andes in the area beyond Machu Picchu.

In 2002 Hugh co-led the expedition which discovered the Inca site of Cota Coca. The team then returned to Peru in 2003 and made extensive finds at Llactapata, near Machu Picchu.

Hugh’s latest book, Cochineal Red looks back at pre Inca Andean history. For his research Hugh returned to Llactapata, visited the Nasca lines and attended the festival of Qoyllurit’i.

Cochineal Red – Travels through Ancient Peru
Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition
ISBN-10: 0753822075
ISBN-13: 978-0753822074

The White Rock: An Exploration of the Inca Heartland
Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition
ISBN-10: 0753813580
ISBN-13: 978-0753813584

The BBC cannot be held responsible for
the content of external sites


John McCarthy John McCarthy is a widely travelled journalist and presenter with a particular interest in the Middle East.
Listen Live
Audio Help
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Tell us about your travel experiences. e-mail Excess Baggage 
Find out about the 2007 winner and listen to their programme
Excess Baggage
Current Episodes
Archived Episodes
Current Programmes
Archived Programmes
News & Current Affairs | Arts & Drama | Comedy & Quizzes | Science | Religion & Ethics | History | Factual

Back to top

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy