You know you’re in a classy place when they have bespoke rubbish bins. When we arrived in Eze on the first leg of our garden tour of the Côte d’Azur, it was no surprise to find a series of very tasteful designer bins, showcasing the highlights of the village. Apart from the bins, Eze is… Continue reading Admiring the rubbish bins on the French Riviera
Keen to dip my toe into the new world of staycations, I went down to Cornwall for the first time since 1996, thanks to a very kind invitation from my sister-in-law, Hilarie. My first impression was that the weather has improved immeasurably in the past 25 years. My distant memories of sitting on a rain-swept… Continue reading I’m not a celebrity after all …
Something that I really love about the Japanese is their appreciation and wholehearted embracing of everything impermanent and seasonal. They love the idea that something is with us for a few short weeks and then disappears again for another year; there’d be no demand here for Creme Eggs in September. For them, seasonality underlines the… Continue reading What I’ve learnt in Japan …
If there’s one covid silver lining for me, it’s the lack of tourists in Kyoto. Kyoto’s one of my top three favourite cities in the world, and I couldn’t wait to get back once I’d arrived in Nagoya. So, with a good weather forecast last weekend, I set off, determined to see some of the… Continue reading Kyoto without the crowds
Aichi, home of Toyota and miso sauce, is normally a rather staid and sensible place; it’s emphatically not Tokyo – no maid cafes or love hotels here, thank you very much. But recently there have been some strange goings on. The national English language newspaper printed the following disturbing story This bizarre-sounding crime is actually… Continue reading What’s going on in Aichi?
I love a walk in the park in Japan … you never know what you’re going to see around the next bend in the path … … perhaps a couple taking their ferret out for a stroll? Having spent a year walking round the local park in Bedford, I can faithfully report that all I… Continue reading Japan: a walk in the park
Mindful of the need to keep fit even when life is very constricted, I’ve done a 30-minute yoga class from the Yoga Studio app almost every day since the beginning of the Pandemic. At around 6 o’clock every evening I roll my mat out on the sitting room carpet, and pull on a hairband so… Continue reading Bend me, shape me
We all want to do our bit these days – save the planet, become an eco-warrior, be a responsible citizen – and I’m no different to everyone else. But I think we need to acknowledge that there’s a healthy dollop of self-interest in most people’s desire to be an environmental hero … it’s not enough… Continue reading This is a job for … Vegetable Rescue!
Has it occurred to anyone else that what we’re experiencing at the moment is a rerun of the Plagues of Egypt? Or, to be more precise, what we are experiencing is all the same plagues, but not necessarily in the same order. In Biblical times the plagues started small and built up in intensity –… Continue reading I know exactly what’s in store for us all in 2021 …
Quarantine is taken very seriously here – you’re not allowed to leave the airport until you can prove that you have accommodation sorted for your 14-day isolation period. The Korean army is at the airport, processing everyone, installing the quarantining app on everyone’s phone, calling your named contact in Korea to make sure they exist, and checking up on your accommodation. Once they’re satisfied that you have somewhere to go, you are escorted to a taxi
Week two of quarantine, and I’ve been passing the time by getting to grips with all things Korean – or more specifically, with Korean food and the language. I do love a country that takes its food so seriously that it provides written instructions on how to eat certain dishes. I first came across this… Continue reading What do I have in common with President Trump?
Well, not actually Gangnam, if you want to be pedantic. We’re in Seoul city centre, which is north of the river, and Gangnam is across the river from here, according to my map … but Jung-gu-style just doesn’t have the same ring to it, I’m afraid. It was a stress-free journey from a deserted Heathrow… Continue reading Life in quarantine: Gangnam-style
Yes – the Mayans were mad about stucco. They used it to hold the stones together in their walls, and then covered all their buildings in a thick layer of stucco before colouring them. Let this be a lesson to all those who slavishly follow the latest home improvement craze … it could lead to… Continue reading Breaking news … Mayan Civilisation wiped out by stucco!
I wish I’d heard the rest of this conversation between two Americans who passed me in the street in Havana. It would explain a lot if there was more than one, as the ubiquitous Ernest seems to be irrevocably linked to so many places – Paris, Spain, Venice, Key West, Havana … how much easier… Continue reading “No, I think it was the other Ernest Hemingway.”
I went to Mexico to learn about the Mayan civilisation, and I thought that the Mayans had mysteriously disappeared when their civilisation died out around 900 AD. But that isn’t true; the cities were abandoned and the civilisation collapsed, but the people lived on and are still thriving today in parts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala,… Continue reading One of the strangest things I’ve ever seen …
I’ve never been anywhere as different as Cuba before. The first hint of difference came at the airport in Mexico as I queued to check in for my flight and looked around at all the other passengers and the luggage they were checking in – Each family had about fifteen large bags, some so heavy… Continue reading Cuba: land of rum and Pringles
There’s a pervasive Hemingwayness in Havana that’s hard to ignore. He had not one, but two favourite bars – La Bodeguita del Medio was his favourite mojito bar – so of course I had to try one – Then Floridita was his favourite daquiri bar – where he demanded a less girly version of the… Continue reading Ernest and me
Step number one: buy a poncho – Step number two: take up salsa – … but don’t try to take a photo and follow your teacher’s instructions, or you end up making a complete mess of both activities. The lovely Martin was a tiny, swivel-hipped salsa god, who only winced slightly as I crushed his… Continue reading How to pass for a Guatemalan
What is it with India and cows? They’re everywhere, and nobody takes any notice. It’s completely normal to see a cow … … on a railway station platform – … wandering through the city centre – … having a quick kip in the road – … inspecting a rubbish pile – … and even on… Continue reading Swerving around cows
In the interests of research, I tried many different types of massage on this trip – deep tissue, aromatherapy, Balinese, to name but a few. The strangest was the chakra unblocking head massage, which I had in the Royal Palace at Bundi. The masseuse flicked and scratched my head and pulled hard on chunks of… Continue reading Yet another painful experience