In November 1993 Andy and I travelled to Syria with a tour organised by Voyages Jules Verne. There were no direct flights to Syria so we flew into and out of Amman, Jordan. Although the tour was only a week long we covered a lot of ground. Our tour guide was a civil engineer and archeologist. He was friendly, enthusiastic and informative, but we did often have to cope with the cold when visiting  sites where some of the earliest writing had been found or where crusades had been fought.

We visited many of the places which have now, sadly become familiar through the daily news reports of destruction, devastation and suffering: Aleppo, Homs, Palmyra and, one of the early casualties, Maalula, where the early Christian monastery was seriously damaged in 2014.