Got a little travel story assignment to Cologne, Germany, next December. This is one of the places Carroll visited on his only trip abroad, in 1867. He was holidaying with his pious friend H.P. Liddon and so they spent a lot of time going round churches. When Carroll was on his own he spent more time looking at people, customs and curiosities, and going shopping. Just couldn't be as serious as Liddon. But he was really overcome at the cathedral. He said in his diary that "...We spent about an hour in the cathedral, which I will not attempt to describe further than by saying it was the most beautiful of all churches I have ever seen, or can imagine. If one could imagine the spirit of devotion embodied in any material form, it would be in such a building."

Interesting to contrast his diary with that of Liddon, on the same trip. "Dodgson was overcome by the beauty of Cologne Cathedral. I found him leaning against the rails of the Choir and sobbing like a child. When the verger came to show us over the chapels behind the Choir, he got out of the way, he said that he could not bear the harsh voice of the man in the presence of so much beauty."

Liddon's notes can be read in Edward Wakeling's exhaustively annotated "Lewis Carroll's Diaries", Vol 5. Reading between the lines, Carroll was an emotional, somewhat disorganised companion, not unlike a pleasant boy of about 12 - but he also sounds like a lively, easy going and long suffering traveller, prepared to put up with lack of sleep, discomfort and general aggravation with a smile.

Wonder why he didn't do more travelling. The year after the European trip, his father died, and the weight of looking after his ten brothers and sisters fell onto Carroll's shoulders. Perhaps he didn't have either the time or the money, after that.

I'll be interested to note my own reactions to Cologne Cathedral.