‘She would go to the piazza from where the doges had once set out to wed the sea with rings’.* Like Miss Garnet, we headed first for the piazza. It seemed the natural place to begin. A public space so grand that no other square in the city was thought fit to bear the name – all the others are campi or if they are … Continue reading The Piazza.
We spent the British summer (grim, grey and shower after shower) in Weymouth, looking after the gorgeous Harley and Tully, and Batman the cat. (I cannot think of Batman without that soundtrack running through my head). The dogs were gorgeous cocker spaniels; so pretty with ruffled ears like flowing locks. Tully, small and nimble, golden like soft brown sugar. Harley, always with a lopsided cheeky … Continue reading Oh, I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside.
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 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.
Tokyo could make a (window) shopaholic out of me. I don’t want to buy, but I like looking. Ginza is high-end shopping. Bulgari, Cartier, De Beers, Sony, Nissan, Apple, but it was Ito-Ya stationery store that did it for me – these means to a creative end are artworks in themselves. Ink pens and glass pens. A pen care center. A paper concierge. Paper in … Continue reading Reflections In Ginza.
After five museum visits in five days, my brain was bursting, and I needed distraction. One thing I never do is shop. My wallet and life-style don’t really allow it. But the French have elevated shopping to an art form. Gorgeous window displays are everywhere, whether it’s haute couture or a bunch of grapes tied to a branch with ribbon. The French term for window-shopping … Continue reading Window Shopping on the Left Bank.
Apple pie goes back a long way. The first Dutch recipes appeared in the late 1400’s. That’s way before Rembrandt van Rijn and all those old masters. In Amsterdam, Dam Square and the Single existed, but none of the other main canals had even been thought of. Apple pie beat them all to it. Of course it was a little different then. The case or … Continue reading As Sweet As Apple Pie.
Amsterdam’s brown cafes are said to be timeless – but how useful would a 1969 guidebook be in the present day city? Stepping into my friend John’s apartment is like falling down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. Walls lined with books waiting to transport the unsuspecting to worlds of fantasy and the realms of imagination. At the very least to a step back into the past. … Continue reading Amsterdam’s Brown Cafes – A Time Travellers Trip.
I went on a Wednesday morning at 10.00. I thought there’d be noone there except me. I was wrong. A woman sat outside on a bench in the sun, a catty fabric bag at her feet. Four young English people rocked up, oohing and aahing at the cats sleeping on faux fur throws on sunlit window sills. Aaahs reached a cresendo when they realised … Continue reading Cats, Coffee and Cake!