Vee and I were on holiday in Syria from 3-9 March 2011 and I have written a full account of our trip here. Although the months running up to our visit were dominated by the dramatic events of the Arab Spring in north Africa, the whole country of Syria was eerily quiet during all our time there.
But, just six days after we left, there was effectively the start of the Syrian revolution on 15 March 2011 with coordinated protests in a range of cities and towns. In the intervening year and a half, the death toll has risen and risen as the nation has slid into civil war. It is estimated that already some 30,000 have been killed with many more made homeless.
It has been hard to deal with the emotion of the daily reports of death and destruction, but sometimes an event has a special poignancy. One such incident occurred this weekend with the news that the historic souk (market) in Aleppo has been consumed by fire with some 1,500 shops destroyed.
I had a marvellous time in the souk doing a little shopping with two of my travelling companions Sam and Fiona Moorhead. You can see some pictures here. The silver lining to this black cloud is that any day now Fiona will give birth to their first child.