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.
‘When they told me were mounting an exhibition of artworks with cheese as the subject I thought there can’t be that many paintings of the yellow stuff’, Oscar, a volunteer at the Stadsmuseum Woerden told me. I thought the same. My interest was piqued. And now, here we both were, he leading and me listening. Everyone knows that cheese and Holland go together. Cheese is … Continue reading I Do Like A Nice Bit Of Cheese…
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.
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.
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.
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’.