landscape and saw the Promised Land - miles and miles away. This enabled us to realise just how far the Israelites travelled. Please see a photo’ with the distances.

This area is the present day Golan Heights, where Israel, Lebanon and Syria come together. I felt ashamed to be so close to Syria, with so much oppression, violence and heart break, while I was enjoying luxury hotels, great food, good company etc. Wouldn’t you too?

 Day Three: We travelled for hours and journeyed into Jordan. Miles of dessert sand and rugged mountains replaced the lush landscape of Israel. We visited Mount Nebo, the which was truly amazing, and eventually stayed at a hotel in Petra, the ancient Edomite and Nabatean capital, known as the Red Rose City, which is ‘half as old as time.’ Several of us went down to the sea, which is dense with salt, and experienced floating on it. There was lots of fun and laughter, a great time. We returned to the hotel and a very long power cut. No chance of drying our hair, I think Rev Simon took a photo’ of me in my curlers, but it caused a bit of fun anyway.  

Day Four: I can’t really describe the City of the Dead. It is a gorge with ancient streets, and remarkable buildings, dwellings and tombs, cut deep into the rocks. I rented a horse and cart for the mile long journey, yes I know, poor horse! But I could not have walked and I arrived at the city with lots of time to absorb atmosphere, and appreciate the wonder which it is. I cannot describe it sufficiently but have heard, and I agree, it must be the 8th ‘wonder of the world’.

Our next journey took us through the Judean Desert, and along the shores of the Dead Sea, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947.

 After lunch, and a descriptive film, we emerged from the darkness of the theatre into the sunshine to see the ruined buildings of the Essenes community. For years I’ve longed to see this sight, having heard so much about it in training. I just could not take it all in. Although our viewing was brief I could still imagine the faithful men working, praying, laughing and bathing together. Bathing at least three times a day! The practices of the ancients are admirable to say the least, as is their incredible ingenuity and intelligence.

From here we went to the River Jordan, I thoroughly enjoyed a paddle, and was surprised to be helped by a soldier in the Israel Army. We shared a wonderful conversation and prayed together, and for each other. He a Muslim, and me a Christian.

After a journey to Jericho most of our group took the cable car, to the top of the mountain. They saw beneath them the lowest spot on earth - 396 metres below sea level, and the oldest city in the world, dating back 10,000 years. I missed out, but needed a rest, and hate cable cars. From here we travelled to Bethany and the rest of the group visited the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. We arrived in Jerusalem and the brilliant hotel where we checked in for four nights - bliss!

Day Five: So much can be written about Jerusalem so in brief: A huge city, described by Ya Ya (the hotel bar man, - I was sober most nights, I promise) as ‘international’ rather than Jewish or Arab or Christian. He told us he was Arab, that he has happily been employed, for five years, by a Jewish family and that he plays football with men of several nationalities. I found this encouraging and assuring. Ya Ya explained that the sensational news we hear by media, occurs within the old city of Jerusalem, behind the walls, within the four quarters, and he was keen for us to get a balanced view. A parallel would be that if he took notice of uk media news, he might believe that uk is full of paedophiles. Thank fully he doesn’t.