What better way to work up an appetite than to hire a bike and cycle vigorously around Stanley Park, admiring the views and the autumn colours? Then I hopped on the cutest little water bus and chugged across the wonderfully named False Creek to Granville Island, where the public market is a foodie heaven. The… Continue reading The Vancouver Foodie Trail
Following my close encounter with a bear at Lake Tahoe last Christmas, I was a little perturbed by all the signs around Vancouver warning of the possibility of coming across a bear as you walk merrily along a maple-fringed country path minding your own business. However, after spending a week there, I have discovered that,… Continue reading BC = British Columbia or Bear Central?
If anyone had asked me before last week what a Williamite was, I’d have hazarded a guess that it was a member of the Prince of Wales’s fan club. But now I know better. I’d always believed that after James II scarpered to France in 1688, the English invited William of Orange to come over… Continue reading Picking a fight with the Williamites
Kinsale is the most gorgeous little town in County Cork. It really is picture postcard perfect, with sweetie-coloured houses, a marina with a full complement of yachts and super-yachts, a sandy beach, and plenty of lovely shops, pubs and restaurants. And what’s more, the sun shone for us this week! Of course when you’re in… Continue reading Just call me Winifred…
I booked a trip to Amsterdam on the strength of a newspaper review of the current Vermeer exhibition at the Rijksmuseum. The Times called it ‘the exhibition of the century’ and ‘a once in a lifetime experience’, so of course, I had to go. And one of the advantages (or perils) of reading a newspaper… Continue reading Amsterdam isn’t just about sex and drugs
In 1914 William and Agnes Bourne decided to build themselves a home for their retirement. To this end, they bought 654 acres of land in the Santa Cruz Mountains in Northern California, built a large country house and then surrounded it with 16 acres of formal gardens. Luckily William was the owner of one of… Continue reading Everything, Everywhere, All At Once
When I first came to Queensland in the early 1980s, it was lovely, but definitely a bit rough around the edges – cheap sparkling wine was labelled ‘Champagne’ and meat was marinaded with a quick slosh of Castlemaine XXXX as it was plonked on the barbie. My how things have changed! Now there are multiple… Continue reading Queensland- how you’ve changed!
A trip around the Barossa Valley is the wine lover’s equivalent of a celebrity homes’ tour of Beverley Hills; there are so many famous names jumping out at you. Every couple of minutes you find yourself pointing and saying ‘Look! It’s Penfolds/Jacob’s Creek/Wolf Blass/Yalumba.’ However, being the serious, dedicated wine tasters that we are, we… Continue reading Wonderful, weird, wacky: wine tasting in South Australia
I’ve made the occasional foray into Chinatown in KL before – I distinctly remember a trip to the market here for frog porridge several years ago – but I haven’t ever explored it properly, so I decided to sign up for a guided tour. Chinatown is famous for its market, which specialises in fake designer… Continue reading Little Devils in Chinatown
For my trip to KL this time, I wanted to try a few new things rather than just revisiting the old. Firstly, I decided that I’d like to try a blind massage as it’s a social enterprise that’s well worth supporting. There are quite a few blind massage parlours, so I looked online for some… Continue reading No hanky-panky
It’s not often that I get invited to a restaurant owned by a former male model, but on Friday evening my friend Ken, an expert in Peranakan cuisine, invited me to try a new restaurant, Limapulo, which belongs to his friend Alan Yun. Limapulo specialises in a unique mix of Malay and Chinese cooking called… Continue reading Limapulo, Kuala Lumpur
It’s been almost four years since I left Malaysia, and it’s lovely to be back. One thing I’d forgotten about, and which I find myself appreciating all over again, is that this is a country of contrasts and amalgams – old/new, east/west, Indian/Chinese/Malay. Everything is embraced and somehow it all seems to work. On Thursday… Continue reading Malaysian Fusion
Robert Mondavi helped to put California wines on the map in the mid-twentieth century, and it’s good to see that his descendants aren’t just resting on their laurels (or their grape vines) and counting the cash they raked in when the winery was taken over. Instead they’ve set up a new winery in the Napa… Continue reading My First $300 Bottle of Wine
In true Mr Toad style I have enthusiastically embraced a brand new favourite hobby … snowshoeing. It’s ideal for people like me, who want to enjoy the mountain scenery in winter, but have no desire to hurtle down a slope at 70 miles an hour, pitching headfirst into snowdrifts on the way down. The house… Continue reading If you go down to the woods today …
I wholeheartedly recommend holidaying in the company of a wine expert. Good wineries are researched, appointments are made, and all I have to do is turn up and taste the wine. Ridge Winery makes an award-winning red called Monte Bello which was one of the wines chosen for the famous blind tasting in 1976, known… Continue reading The Dangers of Drinking Wine
Last week, on a hydrofoil from Naples to Ischia, I met a woman who was taking her parrot on holiday. When we asked her why, she said that he needed a break and she thought he’d enjoy himself on the island. Ischia is a volcanic island in the Bay of Naples, famous for thermal springs… Continue reading Where to take your parrot on holiday
Last week I took my goddaughter to Paris for a few days as a 21st birthday treat and it was refreshing to see it through the eyes – and screens – of a new generation. It’s no longer the rose-tinted city of Amélie Poulain, one of my all time favourite French films. Emily in Paris… Continue reading Paris with the YouTube generation
Answer: When it’s a journey through time and space. Last week I visited a house that the Times described as ‘Britain’s most extraordinary home’. Talliston House is a three-bedroomed semi-detached house in Great Dunmow, Essex, which has so many histories attached to it, that it’s practically a GCSE subject in its own right. I didn’t… Continue reading When is a semi not a semi?
The Moors and I have at least one thing in common – we do love a citrus tree. For me this manifests itself in an inability to walk past an orange or lemon tree without stopping to photograph it. For the Moors, slightly more amibitious in the citrus arena, it meant planting an abundance of… Continue reading A surprise in Andalucia
What inspires a lifelong atheist to turn to religion in his 77th year? It could very well be a fear of impending death, but in Matisse’s case it was entirely due to a pretty young woman. In 1941, when Matisse was based in Nice, he had an operation and advertised locally for a ‘young and… Continue reading Matisse, the cactus and the chasubles