We have just completed a house-sitting in the delightfully named Buntingford – it’s as if the flags are always out, and the town is in a permanent state of excitement – but, in spite of it’s name, we were not looking forward to our visit. Previously, Sophie and Bobby, our two Labrador charges, lived in the New Forest. (Out of Season. Out of Time.) When … Continue reading Buntingford.
Tokyo’s obsession with cats. ‘Hello Kitty’, cat-ears in pop culture, maneki neko lucky cats, the home of the original cat cafe – Japan is seemingly obsessed with moggies, and Tokyo is no exception. There are temples dedicated to cats. In a small corner at Gotokuji there are hundreds of lucky cat figures, their little arms raised in greeting. Small ones perched on stone ledges, looked … Continue reading Hello Kitty!
Eating Out in Tokyo. There are shops selling them on nearly every corner. Movies have been made about them. They’ve got Michelin stars. There are even museums dedicated to them. Jim could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’m talking noodles. Noodles – simple bowls full of goodness – seem quite complicated to me. There’s such a lot of choice. Ramen, udon, soba… At … Continue reading Noodles!
Amsterdam is a ‘feest voor het oog’ (sight for sore eyes, as the Dutch say) but it’s not a cheap city to visit. Unless you know where to look. We’ve all been there – strange place, hungry, but no idea where to go. Tourist traps abound in Amsterdam. But the following are my favourite places: nice places – with a good atmosphere – where you can eat at … Continue reading On A Budget? Eating Out In Amsterdam.
Our third Airbnb address in as many months was in Bos en Lommer. Or BoLo as it’s called nowadays. There is nothing much in BoLo. Most tourists probably never venture this far west but maybe that in itself is enough of a reason to give it a go. At first glance it appears uninviting, nondescript even, but delve a little deeper and BoLo doesn’t seem … Continue reading Bos en Lommer. Not Your Typical Amsterdam.
Breakfast: Omelegg. For a great start to the day, omelettes of every description. Leaving Omelegg, turn right and walk up the Ferdinand Bolstraat to the Albert Cuyp Market, after 350 metres on the right. The best known market in Holland, and with over 260 stalls, possibly the largest day market in Europe. When the fish stalls close down for the day, and the street is … Continue reading Foodie Heaven: A Tour of Amsterdam’s De Pijp.
‘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’.