Snow Patrol blazing at Dubai Jazz Festival - spoiler alert for jazz aficionados, this is not jazz. But it does the business.
Thanks to Dutch friends for three great sessions in last 24 hours, at fabulous parliament building, MFA and Institute for Democracy. Someone once said that Dutch were “always reasonable, rarely relevant” on foreign policy. I’ve experienced plenty of reason, some good arguments, a world view based on having viewed the world, and an enviable ability to carry history without being burdened by it. That feels pretty relevant to me.
Speaking today at a session with @eudiplomacy on how to transform Foreign Ministries for the challenges ahead. Poignant (probably) last trip there as an EU citizen. Wish them success. Whatever happens in UK, we’ll have a massive shared agenda.
Thanks to great bunch who turned out on cold night for Brussels launch of Naked Diplomat. Debated tech, power, geopolitics and change. Unusually in Brussels, the Brits didn’t leave early. And only one heckle about the ‘poor man’s Southgate’ waistcoat. Onwards now to The Hague.
#TenYearChallenge I’m sure there is a profound message here, but it is probably just FOMO. Not sure what happened to the others in that Beijing pic, but none became dolphin whisperers.
Happy 100th birthday to the wonderful Sybil Llong, a great friend to four generations of our family, so far. Telegram arrived from The Queen. Thanks too for messages from Nigeria, where she worked with my grandparents for years. And to brilliant 40s singer Fiona Harrison for getting Sybil twinkling and dancing. What a generation. Sybil is the reason my spag bol is world renowned. And that I am a Ludo ninja.
2018 served us up some wonderful, soul boosting sunrises and sunsets. Wishing you plenty of them in 2019. Whatever else happens, this at least we know we will get to enjoy. Happy 2019 folks. Onwards.
Another year with mountains marking the chapters: Mont Blanc, James Bond Island, Sierra Nevada, Hellvellyn, Cnicht, Pyrenees, Mount Kenya. So it seems right to end it with a yomp up Jebel Hafeet, on the UAE/Oman border. Wilfred Thesiger called it a ‘giant beached whale of a mountain’. Could really do with some kind of marked track. Fantastic year of adventures. Bring on 2019. Happy New Year. Onwards.
My youngest, painting at Karen Blixen’s house, in the same spot she had her easel. The Ngong Hills in distance. A great way to end an extraordinary week of discovery, reminiscence and adventure. Driving to the airport to leave sixteen years ago, my beloved green Land Rover 90 was hit hard by a bus and written off. It was the first day in four years that I was wearing a seat belt. A country where impossible beauty and danger never seem far apart. I would not have swapped that first posting for anywhere.
Paddy Ashdown was such a force of nature. The tributes will focus on his politics and military success, but he also brought the courage of a Royal Marine and the tenacity of a politician to diplomacy. I used to enjoy asking my close protection team who they had enjoyed working with. They would always say no one could keep up with Paddy on the black runs. No one could keep up with him the rest of the time either. What a life. RIP.
Small hitch with our departure. Don’t fancy asking her to hurry through lunch or we’ll miss flight ...