I wrote this piece a few years ago, while we were trying to track the Mekong River from source to mouth (I love a trip with a theme!) and we were beguiled by The Bakery No. 88. It’s still there, and it’s the sort of place I’d travel to the ends of the earth to get to (which is a bit what Yunnan province in China felt … Continue reading Let Them Eat Cake!
The padlocked wrought-iron gates barred our way. In the inner courtyard, a flock of twenty-something pigeons took flight as one, filling the silence with a flutter of wings, and the emptiness with a scratch of charcoal grey. In the eastern cemetery a skinny fox sauntered amongst the tombstones, turning to look back at us, tongue lolling from the corner of his mouth, before he disappeared … Continue reading Highgate Cemetery. Fairyland With An Edge.
‘Well done. The kids will be delighted’, she said as she turned to face us, trowel poised mid-air, ‘We were a bit short-handed this year, we didn’t have time to put out the explanations.’ It was the music notes that gave it away – although, I admit, not to me, but to Jim. Those, and the big fat moustache. The trowel plunged downwards again and … Continue reading ‘Excuse Me, Is That Elgar?’
Cordoba is known for her courtyards and we were lucky enough to have our own. Sky-blue walls and plant-pots, green foliage, coloured flowers, lemons, figs and bougainvillea. Our apartment was up plant-filled steps, in the eves, crowned by peach-grey weathered tiles. At two in the afternoon, when the mercury in the thermometer went beyond forty degrees, this – and an ice-cold bottle of water – … Continue reading Cordoba – Patios And A Square.
Our latest house-sit in a converted Georgian chapel was going to be all about relaxing – watching Wimbledon, (and the test match for Jim) – writing, reading and cooking for me. The dogs are Spotty – a Jack Russell her owners say, but she looks more like a Chihuahua; and Dag (short for Dagley) a Heinz 57 variety (he does look like a Jack Russell!). … Continue reading The Best Laid Plans…..
The medina – a 250-hectare honeycomb of 9,400 streets and alleyways;a warren of dog-leg passages and dead ends; 320 mosques, 5,000 furniture shops and 400,000 people. A map is no help at all. We saw an Italian man trying to scribble his own map at every turning – impossible – so many Mohammeds and Jalils wanting to show you the way, so many souks, shops, … Continue reading Fez Medina – ‘A Thousand Welcomes’.
The farm nestled in a bend on the road – less of a road, more of a lane – narrow, leafy and green. The white-washed stone cottage sat hidden, surrounded by trees, fields, woods and wild flowers. I pushed open the metal gate, and Sally appeared on the doorstep as Merl and Mia, two cocker/springer spaniel crosses bounded towards us. Sally was a stranger, but we were … Continue reading Carmarthenshire – Coast And Castles.
Tuesday 11 December. ‘Get ready for the coldest day of the year’, announced the ‘Daily Mail’. We weren’t leaving the cold weather behind, Venice will hover slightly above freezing point – ‘but it’ll be prettier’, joked the taxi driver. 7am, cold and dark, and we were on our way to London – the first leg of our journey. Boston train station is never a hive … Continue reading Arrival in Venice.
But it’s etched deep in my memory…. ‘You’re going to Venice when?’, stuttered my sister, ‘but it’ll be cold and flooded and awful’. I’d read an article in a travel magazine that said winter was the time to see Venice at its moody best. Michela, our host, echoed this sentiment and told me – ‘this is Venice of the Venetians, my favourite time’. Not having … Continue reading It’s Five Years Since We Went To Venice….
Written on a piece of cardboard and propped in the sales kiosk: ‘Tickets for Today Sold Out’. It was hard to believe. At 11.00, the hall was practically empty. Just the odd person eating Bento and a couple of bodies seemingly sleeping on the red-cushioned box seats that covered the ground floor. The sumo, though, was in full swing, and had been since 08.30 in … Continue reading The May Sumo Tournament.