Apparently, it's December already. There are no more Peter Sommer tours or cruises to worry about this year (but more than ever in 2019), my fireplace has already been in use (yes, Greece does have such a thing as a winter!), I've unpacked the large uniformed nutcracker that passes for an advent decoration in my house, shop windows are decorated with bows and baubles - in short: Christmas is approaching fast.

Some people celebrate Christmas exuberantly, others more quietly, some relish its various traditions and others have more personal approaches to it, some pay attention to different festivals, or to none at all. Still, on average, I can assume that many of our readers see it as a family occasion, a time to be spent with friends and loved ones and to enjoy that togetherness. For us, the staff at Peter Sommer Travels, Christmas sits near the middle of our tourless season (which seems to grow shorter every year), when we are done looking back at what we've achieved in the previous season and beginning to focus on the challenges of the next one. And, of course, for most of us, Christmas is a time for gifts: to pick things that we think others will enjoy, and to be given things by those around us.

We can certainly call the annual blog post with Peter Sommer Travels' Christmas gift suggestions a tradition by now: this is the sixth time we offer it, and I recommend also checking its predecessors from 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, because most of what we proposed then still makes for excellent presents. As always, our list is a very authentic one, containing items we ourselves intend to give to friends or loved ones, or ones we covet for ourselves. They reflect our interests in archaeology, history, travel, food and so on, the same interests that enable us to produce Peter Sommer Travels' tours and cruises, and thus they ought to be of interest to our guests and readers. But that's enough introduction: we are proud to present the 2018 version of the Christmas gift suggestions from us at Peter Sommer Travels.

PETER SOMMER'S RECOMMENDED READ:

Peter Sommer Travels is not just a clever name. It has actually happened to me once or twice that new guests asked whether there really is a Peter Sommer! There is indeed, and he is the founder of the company. It was his idea, over two decades ago, to offer high-quality archaeological and cultural tours, led by experts such as himself with his background in archaeology and with the keen eye of the producer of TV documentaries. We've come a long way since then, expanding our programme from the initial set of tours in Turkey to six countries by now. Peter's ideas and approach are behind it all, he is involved hands-on in the design of all our tours, and especially those in Turkey, Britain and Croatia - and of course, he continues to lead tours and cruises. In 2019, you can travel with him on Exploring Hadrian's Wall, in the Footsteps of Alexander the Great in Turkey, on Walking and Cruising the Lycian Shore and on other itineraries in Turkey.

The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places, by Neil Oliver, Penguin, 2018.

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If you live in the United Kingdom and are interested in history, you are probably familiar with Neil Oliver. He is the archaeologist-journalist (and environmental activist) with the distinctive Scottish accent (and the long hair) who's been presenting a range of programmes about the country's history on BBC television since the early 2000s, and published a series of books accompanying them. This one, however, is a stand-alone volume, and a very fine one at that, well thought-out and beautifully written. Very reasonably in this day of internet access to countless visuals, Oliver has chosen to make this not a picture-book (although there are 32 beautiful images), but one that is focused on content. He has clearly taken a systematic look at his subject matter and first decided which are the key moments of the long period he presents, from the geological past and early humans via prehistory and history all the way to the modern era, and then selected his 100 places to cover those moments and likewise the geography of Britain (and Ireland). His explanation of each place is clear, immensely informative and short, the latter being an enormous achievement from an author who clearly has deep and wide-ranging knowledge. It is written in a style that suggests the man's own voice: accessible, entertaining, sometimes humorous, always showing his love for the topic. If you live in Britain, you need this book, and if you plan a road trip there, you do, too. Incidentally, about a dozen of Oliver's 100 places are already part of Peter Sommer Travels' itineraries in Britain and Ireland.

Michael MetcalfeMICHAEL METCALFE'S RECOMMENDED READ:

Michael has been with Peter Sommer Travels for a decade. Trained as a specialist in Greek inscriptions, an expertise that makes him an archaeologist and historian rolled into one, he is the mind behind all our tours and cruises in Italy, but also heavily involved in designing our offers in Britain and Greece. As importantly, he is the go-to person for all our private charters or tailor-made land-tours in six countries, a major task to which he brings an unflinchingly meticulous desire to create the perfect itinerary for each individual group. He is a knowledgeable, passionate and engaging guide, and it's a joy to hear his dramatic narratives. In 2019, you can experience him on Exploring Wessex, Walking and Cruising the Dodecanese and other tours.

The Story of Greece and Rome, by Tony Spawforth, Yale, 2018.

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Tony Spawforth - have we come across that name before? Yes, I recommended his book on Greek Temples as An Old Favourite in the 2017 version of this list. More importantly, Tony, or rather Professor Spawforth, is one of our tour experts in Italy and Greece, and indeed you'll find his own recommendation further below! His most recent book is as delightful as it is unexpected. It is a narrative account of the history of ancient Greece and Rome, or more precisely of Greek and Roman Civilisation, from prehistory to the age of Justinian. You might say there are many books like that, but you would be wrong. Tony's book tells that history as a coherent story, in a style and with a depth of knowledge that only a seasoned scholar can achieve, but that is not pushing to be academic. It is written in the same tone that our guests enjoy on tours led by him, drawing the reader into his own familiarity with and enthusiasm for the subject matter.  The book is an ideal introduction to Ancient Greece and Rome, and its just over 330 pages manage to communicate what Tony Spawforth offers to bring us from ancient history: joy and hope. Incidentally, it's also a book that mentions Peter Sommer Travels' guests in its acknowledgements, thanking them for the opportunity to 'try out some ideas' that went into the writing of it.

PAUL BESTON'S RECOMMENDED READ:

Paul Beston joined Peter Sommer Travels two years ago and has many tasks, including leading tours in three countries: the United Kingdom, Italy and Greece. Our British tours and that of Rome bear Paul's imprint in many ways, as his input was instrumental  already at the design stage. Paul, technically a Classical scholar, is so much more than that: his lifelong passion for history has turned him into what one might be tempted to call a walking and talking encyclopaedia, but that term fails to describe his wonderfully lively, entertaining and witty approach. Paul is a consummate story-teller, able to shift from a local perspective to a global one and back, from a fascinating detail in one place to its wider context and meaning, effortlessly and seamlessly. In 2019, he is the leading expert on all our British itineraries, on Exploring Rome and the May iteration of Exploring Crete.

History of the World - Map by Map, by Anonymous, DK (Dorling Kindersley), 2018.

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It's worth noting that the UK and US editions of this book have slightly different covers and that the latter (shown here) is co-published by the Smithsonian Institution. Ignore the PR claim that this is "much more than a history atlas": a historical atlas is exactly what it is and what it should be, but a very lavishly presented one, up to date and in a format that is pleasantly large without being oversized, playing on the strengths of a publishing house that is known for the quality of its illustrations and printing. Over 140 full-colour maps, nearly all of them double-paged, present a panoramic view of world history, from the dawn and spread of humankind to the early 21st century. These thematic two-page spreads are accompanied by short informative text blocks, photographs, brief portraits of important protagonists, graphs and inset maps, and it is impressive to see how this copious extra information only rarely makes the pages appear crowded or cluttered. It is hard to pick examples from such riches, but the noteworthy maps certainly include 'Bronze Age China', highlighting material and sites still unfamiliar to most of us, ' Medieval European Trade' both for its presence and its clarity, or 'The British Civil Wars' for an excellent combination of map and text. The volume concludes with an 80-page illustrated timeline.

JULIE BROWN'S RECOMMENDED READ:

There is nobody else like Julie. She's our Office and Operations manager, and if you have been in contact with Peter Sommer Travels before, it was probably first through her, but she is a lot more than that. During the off-season period (now), she is keeping an eye on what everyone is doing to make the coming travel season work, and once that season is under way, when most of us are travelling with guests and when all kinds of things are happening at the same time, she's the one who makes the centre hold, communicating with guides and guests and providing back-up for any situation that might arise, knowing who is where and who is who and who needs what and when to be done, organised, arranged or changed. Her contagious good humour is a great resource to us, and she also has good inside knowledge of all our tours, having contributed to the design of several.

Wild Ruins: the Explorer's Guide to Britain's Lost Castles, Follies, Relics and Remains, by Dave Hamilton, Wild Things, 2015.

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In some ways, this volume complements Peter's suggestion further above. It is difficult to define its author, Dave Hamilton: Wikipedia describes him as "a journalist, gardener and forager" - a unique combination. One of Hamilton's driving interests is foraging, in the sense of finding edible plants in the natural landscapes of Britain. For many years, he has travelled the length and breadth of the country in that context, leading him to the realisation that there are traces of human activity from a wide range of periods scattered throughout even the most remote areas of Britain. Those monuments, initially a collateral side-effect of his primary quest, became a point of fascination in themselves, which led to this book. It lists over 250 sites, chosen for their relative 'wildness', in all parts of the country, each presented by a single picture, a paragraph of text and detailed instructions to find it. The book also contains a series of very useful thematic lists, for example of the most romantic sites, the ones reached by the best walks, the most secluded and even the weirdest.

TONY SPAWFORTH'S RECOMMENDED READ:

Tony, or as we said above in Michael's suggestion, Professor Spawforth, is an exceptional individual. He is a major scholar, having taught Ancient History at the University of Newcastle-on-Tyne for many years, and has published widely and broadly on many topics within the fields of history and archaeology. Tony leads tours for us in Italy, Greece and (potentially) Turkey and he is an immensely popular tour expert, because he combines seemingly unlimited in-depth knowledge with an immense gift for story-telling, an instinctive ability to create a connection between ancient Greece or Rome and our guests. In 2019, Tony Spawforth leads our Exploring Sicily and Cruising the Aegean: from Kos to Patmos.

In the Land of a Thousand Gods: a History of Asia Minor in the Ancient World, by Christian Marek (in collaboration with Peter Frei), Princeton, 2016.

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This is an extraordinary book: one would think it impossible to write if it hadn't been done. It is certainly a  scholarly work of vast scope, but one that is approachable to the non-academic reader interested in an up-to-date history of ancient Asia Minor, the Anatolian peninsula that is now the western part of Asian Turkey. The region, set between Asia, which it belongs to, Europe, which lies just across the Bosporus, and Northern Africa, to which it has an indirect land connection, is a historic crucible like no other. Marek's work covers the countless peoples that have settled and crossed paths in the region, from early human settlers and Neolithic farmers, via Bronze Age Assyrians and Hittites, Iron Age Lycians, Carians, Phrygians, Lydians etc to Greeks, Persians and Romans. The author emphasises the distinctiveness of these ancient cultures and he manages the enormous feat of combining formidably erudite synthesis with high readability. This will be of immense use on all our itineraries in Turkey.

HEINRICH HALL'S RECOMMENDED READ:

I am the person primarily responsible  for what Peter Sommer Travels does in Greece and Ireland (the country I live in and the one I used to live in), including the planning, design and maintenance of our tours and cruises, as well as running most of them. A prehistorian by training, I will celebrate my tenth anniversary of working for Peter Sommer Travels in 2019.  Apart from my role as a tour expert, I also do some writing on this blog and elsewhere, including on our Facebook page. My aim is to make the lives and thoughts of our forebears approachable and understandable through the material remains they left behind. In 2019, you can join me on many many tours in Greece and one in Ireland.

The Old Stones - a Field Guide to the Megalithic Sites of Britain and Ireland, by Andy Burnham (editor), Watkins Media, 2018.

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This is a very exciting new book, and in many ways a long-awaited one. There has never been a comprehensive guide or gazetteer of Megalithic Monuments in Britain and Ireland in print, and this book sets out to be precisely that. The Old Stones is brought to us by Andy Burnham, who is responsible for The Megalithic Portal. Established in 2001, it is an enormously useful website devoted to the Megaliths, the distinctive Neolithic and Bronze Age stone monuments, especially of Northwest Europe (with the main focus on Britain and Ireland), but also further afield. The site invites user content and has become a major resource for anyone interested in these fascinating places. The volume consists of a full gazetteer with descriptions of over a thousand sites in Britain and Ireland (including ones we visit on our Wessex and Ireland tours), accompanied by more than fifty short articles on specific topics or places, including a superb introduction to prehistoric landscapes and monuments by Professor Vicki Cummings (University of Central Lancashire), which deserves to become a classic text in British archaeology.

NOTA KARAMAOUNA'S RECOMMENDATION OF AN OLD FAVOURITE:

Nota, trained in Athens and Paris, is specialised in Byzantine Art, but knowledgeable far beyond that field. She is a professional guide in Greece and first worked with Peter Sommer Travels in 2012. Nota is passionate guide and her art-historical expertise has imbued her with a fine eye for detail and superb judgement of quality, which is reflected in every step of her work, from her site tours via her approach to the food and wines offered on our tours and cruises to the connected narrative of an entire itinerary. Her understanding of Greece's medieval era, often unfamiliar to travellers, but of immense significance in European history, is second to none and enables her to open new worlds of interest to our guests. In 2019, you can experience her work on Easter in Athens, Exploring the Peloponnese, Cruising to the Cyclades and other trips.

A History of the World in 100 Objects, by Neil MacGregor, Penguin, 2012 [original edition: Lane, 2010].

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Now eight years old, this still stands out as a highly original achievement, and one that has turned out highly influential as well. For this project, which was first broadcast as a series on BBC Radio 4, MacGregor, then the Director of London's British Museum, chose a hundred items from its diverse collections to tell the story of humankind from its very beginnings to the present. Each of the objects is given between three and five pages of text and one or several illustrations. The book is remarkable not just for MacGregor's clear and highly accessible writing and his clever subdivision of the human experience into twenty thematic units, each made up of five objects, but most of all for his boldly unusual and supremely informed choice of items, ranging across time and space and not focusing just on the museum's most famous highlights. The earliest piece included is a Palaeolithic stone tool, the latest a solar-powered lamp, and between them there is a vast array of surprises, including an Egyptian mummy, sculptures, vases, inscriptions, weaponry, tools, maps, prints, paintings, mosaics, and more. Perhaps not to be read in one go, this book is a delight to pick up again and again.

A GIFT TO ENJOY WITH BODY AND SOUL

Benanti Noblesse Metodo Classico Etna Brut, Sicily.

(Benanti winery - the site is currently under construction, but you can download a list of international distributors here: Benanti importers.)

It's become our habit to recommend an exceptional wine here, and in 2018 we go for a whole winery. Michael (see above), who knows Sicily like his back pocket, proposes one of the island’s most exciting producers:

Founded by Giuseppe Benanti in 1988, the Benanti winery was at the forefront of the revitalisation of wine making on Mount Etna, a historic wine-making region in Eastern Sicily that had fallen into decline for nearly a hundred years. With a keen eye for design and style, and an unrelenting focus on quality and excellence, Giuseppe and his sons have created a beautiful cellar together with some of the most interesting and complex wines in the region. We make sure to taste the fruits of their work during our Sicilian tours, and many of our clients have asked us to organise visits to their cellar itself either before or after one of our Sicilian tours. For the wine that I have chosen today, the Noblesse, they have used the autochthonous Carricante grape to create a spectacular mono-varietal sparkling wine, following the traditional method. Crisp, with great acidity, an elegant mousse and a long finish, the gentle scent of soft fruits predominates and provides a wine that is perfect for all festive occasions!

CEM YÜCESOY'S RECOMMENDATION FOR FOOD LOVERS:

Cem is another exceptional character without whom Peter Sommer Travels would not have become what it is now. With a long background in tourism and movie-fixing in Turkey, Cem is one of Peter Sommer's oldest friends, and he has been involved in the design and organisation of all our Turkish tours and cruises since the very beginning. He continues to accompany many of them as the local guide, but he really is much more than that title implies: a graceful host, a superb manager, a connoisseur of all things Turkish, not least the country's fascinating and diverse cuisine - he is also an accomplished cook. In 2019, you can travel with Cem in the Footsteps of Alexander the Great in Turkey, on Walking and Cruising the Lycian Shore and on other itineraries in Turkey.

Gonul Candas' Turkish Table, by Gönül Candaş, 6th edition, Arkadaş, 2017.

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(Note: there are many editions of this book, the 6th being the latest. Turkish books are not always easy to find in foreign markets, so it's worth shopping around, including for a second-hand version on abebooks.)

Turkey's cuisine is a topic of endless fascination for us and our guests, and a constant source of enjoyment on our Turkish cruises and tours. Considering the country's long history and huge geographic diversity, it is slightly misleading to think of it as a single culinary tradition: the food of Turkey is the result of the mixing of many different elements and influences over time, and a whole array of different local and cultural  traditions can still be discerned. So, the constituent elements are Turkic and Arabic, Armenian and Georgian, Persian and Greek, Aegean and continental, urban and rural, frugal peasantry and the lush Ottoman court. Gönül Candaş's Turkish Table has been a classic for several generations. The award-winning book gives simple instructions for hundreds of dishes: hot and cold starters (meze), salads, soups and dips, kebabs and meaty stews, desserts and sweets, it's all here. If there's one Turkish cookery book you should have, it's this one.

A GUEST'S RECOMMENDATION:

We're not the only ones who enjoy reading. Most of our guests do, too, inspired by their own interests and - maybe - sometimes by our trips. We're always curious to hear what they've found.

Our 2018 recommendation comes from RN, a distinguished British gentleman who has been on four of our tours so far: Cruising the Lycian Shore in 2012, Exploring Crete and Cruising the Cost of Dalmatia from Šibenik to Zadar in 2017 and Exploring the Peloponnese in 2018. In 2019, he intends to join us on Exploring Sicily. He is an extraordinary well-travelled man (having visited all continents except Antarctica) with a wide range of interests, including history, food, wine, music, theatre and - perhaps most importantly - nature. We look forward to seeing him and his wonderful partner on future tours!

Wild Flowers of the Mediterrranean: A Complete Guide to the Islands and Coastal Regions, by Marjorie Blamey & Christopher Grey-Wilson, Black, 2004 (? - see note and text).

(US and International Amazon) (UK Amazon) (Note: those links are for the collectible version, also check the more affordable ones: US, UK, abebooks!)

Peter Sommer Travels is specialised in offering tours accompanied by experts, but those experts are archaeologists and historians, not botanists, and it's not our habit to pretend being something we're not. Some of our guests, like RN, have an avid interest in nature, and especially in the countless wild flowers that carpet many of the places we show them on the April and May tours (our picture shows RN among wild flowers at Aptera on Crete). For that purpose, it is sensible to come equipped with a good guide to the regional flowers, and this is one of the best, describing more than 2,500 species, each accompanied by Blamey's superb illustrations. The volume's editorial history is difficult to trace: there appears to have been an edition already in the 1990s and it has been republished multiple times by different imprints, but what we have linked here is the one RN carried last year and this year. It turns out that it has become a bit of a collector's item - that's why we suggest looking for the various alternative editions of the same book, which is not currently in print. If flowers are one of your interests, get yourself a copy and join us on the spring tours in Crete, Sicily or the Peloponnese, or the spring Walking Cruise in Croatia.

SOMETHING TO WATCH:

I Claudius, the Complete Series, 1976.

(US and international Amazon – DVD) (UK Amazon – DVD)

When I was an undergraduate student, everyone studying Classics knew I Claudius, although it was already seventeen years old by the time I entered university. I was nineteen and many of my fellow students were a tad younger, the same age as the series: clearly, it had achieved cult status long before then, for more reasons than one. The first is the complex soap-opera-like plot, based on Robert Graves' two Claudius novels (I Claudius, and Claudius the God, published in 1934 and 1935, respectively), fictional autobiographies that were, in turn, primarily based on Suetonius' account of the fourth Roman Emperor's life. The immensely skilfully written script and dialogue, with their emphasis on characters that are self-serving, corrupt and power-hungry to a grotesque and thus supremely entertaining extent, makes the series a distant forebear to more recent classics, certainly including House of Cards (both the 1990s UK version and the 2010s US one). The second reason for its lasting impact is the (huge) cast, consisting of a whole ream of theatrical actors (Shakespearean to be precise) who reached larger fame later, among them Derek Jacobi (as Claudius), Siân Phillips, Brian Blessed, Patrick Stewart, John Hurt and many many others. The third may just be the limitations of BBC studio productions at the time, adding a slightly clunky old-timey flavour to the whole thing. As a dramatisation of Early Imperial Rome's turbulent history, it's still second to none - basically there is no coherent reason not to watch and savour it!

A BOOK AND A SERIES OF PUZZLES FOR YOUNGSTERS:

The Ordnance Survey Puzzle Book - Pit your Wits against Britain's Greatest Map Makers, by Gareth Moore (editor), Ordnance Survey, 2018.

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We normally go for stories in this segment, but this time we have picked a challenge. Britain's Ordnance Survey is one of the oldest existing enterprises in the world. Its task, from the very beginning in 1791, is to make the best possible maps of the United Kingdom. Today, it still produces wonderful maps, which we use to prepare our tours in the UK. What they have given us this time, however, is utter delight. The book reproduces excerpts from a series of Ordnance Survey maps, old and new, and making each of them a quest of map-reading and understanding. Engaging with the set tasks (and let's be clear, this is fun for youngsters of any age up to their 80s and beyond) means reading and analysing the maps, and thus considering geography, topography, history, archaeology, even linguistics. This is crying out for a sequel and for copycat books from equivalent services of other countries (Ireland!) to match.

A GIFT TO PLAY WITH:

There is no need to change what we initially wrote about quality toys. We've said it before and we'll say it again: playing is not just for kids. Since time immemorial, it is a way to relax and open our minds, to re-engage with aspects of our world in new ways and to mix up the way we see things.

Fidchell, by MacGregor Games, Minneapolis, USA.

(Company website)

Ancient Irish, Welsh and Nordic literature commonly mentions board games as a serious pastime of heroes and warriors (so does the Bronze Age literature of Mesopotamia and Egypt, and the Classical literature of Greece). We know that Chess and Backgammon, which gained dominance in the European Middle Ages, have ancient origins - and both are great games (see below for Chess), but there were other games about, some of which survive. There is reason to assume that the games known as fidhcheall in Early Medieval Ireland, as gwyddbwyll in Wales at the same time (the Irish and Welsh names both mean wood sense), and as hnefatafl (hand board) among the Vikings, were variations of the same, either of one major game or of two (it appears that there was a closely related game called brandub, black raven, in Irish and tawlbwrddthrow-board, in Welsh, but I must admit that the latter strongly evokes tabula, the Roman dice-throwing game we now know as Backgammon). The discovery of a wooden game board in a medieval crannóg (a lake dwelling) at Ballinderry, County Westmeath, Ireland (dating somewhere between 800 and 1100 AD and on display in the National Museum at Dublin, see our image), along with descriptions of the game, has inspired MacGregor Games to attempt a reconstruction of fidhcheall, which comes with several alternative sets of rules, reflecting the scholarly uncertainty on how it was played: try them all is the answer. In any case, it is an unequal game: the main objective for one player is to move the King from the centre to the outside of the board, repelling attackers, for the other player it is to prevent that. Another version of hnefatafl is available from the British Museum.

A CLASSY GIFT (ALSO TO PLAY WITH):

The Lewis Chessmen Official Chess Set, by National Museums of Scotland.

(NMS homepage) (US/International Amazon) (UK Amazon)

We've normally aimed for mid-priced gifts in this segment, but this year, for once, we suggest something a little more expensive. It's a gift I myself have occasionally chosen for important occasions and for people important to me, because it is very fine indeed. The Lewis Chessmen is the name given to a sensational archaeological find, discovered in 1831 on the island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Belonging to the 12th century, when the Hebrides were under Norse ('Viking') control, it was a hoard find, a group of objects including 78 chess pieces and 14 hnefatafl (see above) pieces carved from walrus ivory. The chess pieces are little marvels of medieval miniature sculpture: crowned Kings brandishing swords stare sternly ahead from their ornate thrones, their similarly enthroned Queens are contemplating the game head-in-hand, worried-looking Bishops sanctimoniously grasp their bibles and croziers, and the Knights are bearded warriors on horseback, flanked by the equally fierce Rooks, some of them biting their shields as they impatiently await battle, while the Pawns depict carved standing stones. It is obvious, in my mind, that these depictions of various roles in medieval Norse society are caricatures: they were meant to be funny and they still are. Today, 82 of the Lewis Chesspieces are in the British Museum, London (a few of them are shown in our image), and eleven in the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh. The latter offers these fine full-size laser-cut resin replicas, available individually or as a set (note that there is no chessboard included, but the museum offers one separately). So, if you want to play a game of chess (or should we say skáktafl?) in Viking style (and frankly, who wouldn't?), here's your chance! Also, note that the British Museum has a very fine line of replicas of its Lewis chess pieces.

WHO'D HAVE THUNK OF THIS?:

Map poster of Dubrovnik, high-resolution printable file, various formats, Salt & Printer, Vancouver, Canada.

(Salt & Printer homepage) (Salt & Printer on Etsy)

For the sixth time, I have carefully combed through the depths of the web to find something strange or unusual that might work as a gift for the kind of people who enjoy Peter Sommer Travels' offerings, and I think I've found something quite interesting once again. Maps are of very central importance for Peter Sommer Travels, as they are one of the main means to communicate and illustrate travel, not to mention planning and organising it. Their role in archaeology is similarly pivotal: from on-site scale via regional to global, every find and feature needs to be mapped and maps are a key tool of archaeological analysis. Personally, I have always been fascinated with maps and with the way they express space, and that fascination extends beyond their practical use to their aesthetics: maps can be beautiful. One way to indulge in that beauty is to collect vintage maps, if you can afford it. Another is to look for a modern take, like the ultra-cool and highly accurate (and very affordable) designs produced by Vancouver-based Salt & Printer. You pick a map (like the one of Dubrovnik I use as an example here; many more are available) and pay, immediately download the high-resolution file in multiple formats and then proceed to print it out at home or (more likely) at a local print store. All you need now is a frame. For a different take on a similar idea (but involving physical postage of the maps), also check out Amazon's link for CartoCreative. Use the outlines of your favourite places, and your memories of exploring them, to decorate your home!

THE BEST GIFT OF ALL:

(It is often said that a change is as good as a rest, but some things don't need changing. What we wrote under this heading in 2013 is still true, so the text has been left unchanged and is here for the sixth time. It won't be the last...)

That would be love. And not just for Christmas.

It's all over the place and it's for you to find and enjoy, to receive and to give. Whatever it takes you, it's cheap at the price.

Evidently, we cannot offer links for finding that, but why not have a look at our 2019 travel brochure instead - and treat your loved one(s) to the holiday of a lifetime?

2 responses to “Christmas Gifts for History Lovers, Travellers and Gourmets, 2018”

  1. Swan Tours says:

    Thank you for this post man. its very informative.

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