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’.
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.
‘You’ve got to do it, haven’t you?’ We were standing outside Daiwa Sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market at 5.30 in the morning. Not only were we standing outside, we were waiting in line, and waiting in line to eat sushi for breakfast. Surreal. It was Jim’s idea and I was just rolling with it. We’d been up since 02.30. Tsukiji requires serious effort. We’d met … Continue reading Tsukiji.
Eye popping shopping in Kappabashi-dori – Tokyo’s kitchen town. We keep getting drawn back to Asakusa time and time again. Not only is it the home of fascinating Senso-ji, there’s a warren of narrow streets, indoor shopping arcades, and great street food. It’s busy, noisy, and sometimes frustrating, but there’s always something to see – traditional weddings, rickshaws, kimonos – and kitchenware. Kappabashi-dori is a … Continue reading I Can’t Believe It’s Not Real.
We wanted to go somewhere typically Tokyo. We choose Senso-ji, the city’s oldest temple, thinking it would be calm; hoping it would give us a glimpse into the life of Tokyoites and a gentle intro. to the mega metropolis. Approaching the great Kaminarimom or Thunder Gate we were taken aback by the number of people. Rickshaw drivers touted for custom. Japanese students asked if they … Continue reading Surprising Senso-Ji.
I’ve never researched a place so intensively as Tokyo. I spent hours pouring over the Lonely Planet, and many, many more on the internet. Usually in this planning stage, things stand out for me, hit me in the gut. I know where I want to go, and what feels right for me. Once I have a springboard, I leave the rest to fate. With Tokyo … Continue reading Monkey Mind, Zen Head in Tokyo.