Alnwick and District Camera Club

Every year, Alnwick and District Camera Club organises an event at the Playhouse and this year’s eminent speaker was the travel writer and photographer John Pilkington.

John has more recently become known for his adventure travel documentaries on BBC Radio Four.

The title of his presentation was From Georgia to Afghanistan and told the story of his travels along part of the Silk Road in the steps of his hero Marco Polo.

Starting in Tbilisi, John made his way from Georgia through Azerbaijan to the Caspian Sea at Baku.

Crossing the sea and entering Turkmenistan, he then travelled on to Uzbekistan where he visited the Aral Sea, now largely a parched mudflat littered with rusting remains of fishing vessels.

From there, he moved south to Bukhara and thence to Khiva and the legendary city of Samarkand.

The high Pamirs of Tajikistan were John’s next destination, moving on into northern Afghanistan where he followed the valley of the River Oxus until he finally reached its source.

John’s account of this amazing journey was richly embellished with insights into the daily lives of the people that he met along the way.

Local culture, architecture, food, history and politics all found a place in his lively commentary, to say nothing of his amusing encounters with recalcitrant camels and salted tea with rancid yak’s butter.

This memorable talk was richly illustrated with fine photographs including a wonderful series of colourful portraits that captured the spirit of the many different people that he met along the way.

John not only informed and entertained, but also engaged his audience so successfully that the evening ended with a lively question-and-answer session.