• Your House, My Home: Bois de Boulogne, Lebanon, is well known to correspondent Nicholas Blanford. "My family has rented an apartment in the area for two summers," he says. "I used to encounter Syrian soldiers there when running along the tracks leading through the forests. They would be doing exercises or jogging in a group." (page 7)
Nick says that Syrian troops lived in the buildings around the apartment. "Although they never bothered us, it was unnerving to have them so close by. Sometimes we could hear them chanting military slogans. But for the most part, they looked as if they were bored out of their minds. The local people always grumbled about the Syrians and looked forward to the day they would leave."
Nick adds that he felt quite sorry for the soldiers. "They were underequipped and their billets were really miserable. I suspect that they were as happy to leave as the residents were to see them go."
• Say What? As Ben Lynfield headed back to Israel from the Gaza Strip after reporting today's story, he decided to give a ride to two Thai workers. "I give hitchhikers rides sometimes as a way to hear what's going on," he says.
As it turned out, gleaning any details proved difficult. "First, the chicken one of the guys put on the seat next to me - I think it was dinner - was a bit strange, not to mention the one they threw in the trunk," Ben says. "And then I realized the road we were on, going between settlements, was dangerous, so I was driving fast." Finally, Ben says, there was language: "We tried English, Hebrew, Arabic, even Spanish - nothing. If there's a story there, I'll have to find it a different way, as we simply couldn't communicate. I'm not sure how they do their jobs."
Deputy world editor