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The Motorcycle Diaries

February 3, 2010

It doesn’t seem to matter how far you go, it is difficult to leave Scotland behind. Two days out of a motorbiking tour of South Africa last month (BMW F650GS for those who are interested), I came across a memorial to John Buchan that great writer of adventure stories and colonial administrator.

James Holloway with a monument to John Buchan

This photograph was taken at the site, looking out over the great Ebenezer Dam near Magoebaskloof in the Limpopo region. This was a view that Buchan, who knew the area well, loved. The country and the people of South Africa influenced his life and inspired many of his novels; Prester John in particular. My two companions had never heard of Buchan. But I found a copy of the Thirty Nine Steps in a second-hand bookshop in Knysna later on the trip and now both are addicts. 

We have an intriguing photographic portrait of John Buchan taken by Yosuf Karsh in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery collection.  Created in 1937 when Buchan was Governor-General of Canada he is photographed in a headdress as a symbol of admiration to the Blood Tribe.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 11, 2010 2:51 am

    That’s amazing, how many places have you been too now?

    • James Holloway permalink
      March 11, 2010 1:39 pm

      On the bike, quite a few. I’ve been several times to India the most scary being a trip to the Himalayas on a Royal Enfield Bullet. I’ve also ridden a Harley in California and my own Ducatis across Europe!


      James Holloway Director, Scottish National Portrait Gallery

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