Dorset. Sea and Scones.

There’s a great thing about walking in the English countryside. The tea-room. All good walks should begin or end at one. At Worth Matravers, deep in Dorset, next to the duck pond on the miniscule green is the quintessential, quaint English tea-shop. Full of antiques and mismatched china, embroidered knick-knacks, sugar basins with cubed sugar and tongs, old advertising posters, – and people. We could … Continue reading Dorset. Sea and Scones.

Food and Friendship in Orta.

These are the two basic staples of life. There is not much else. A friendship that endures is special. To know someone who really knows you – who knew you when you were young, and still knows you when you’re old. ‘I cannot imagine you all as young lads’, said Val. There is photographic evidence of course. We see what they looked like: long hair, … Continue reading Food and Friendship in Orta.

The Humble Sīmīt.

Sīmīt are everywhere in Istanbul. Simple, sesame-encrusted bread rings. Some call them the Turkish bagel. Sold from stationary red-painted government-owned carts, and from men who roam, swirling them on a stick, carrying them in baskets, setting them down on makeshift trestle-tables, or balancing them niftily in wicker trays on their heads – they are impossible to escape. Arranged in impressive towers and pyramids, the jengo … Continue reading The Humble Sīmīt.

Istanbul. The Morning Commute.

We can see the Bosphorus at the end of our street. It’s like living at the seaside. A five-minute walk and we’re at the ferry terminal; but that’s not counting the ten minutes we need to cross the road. Traffic in Istanbul is awful. A seething mass of buses, dolmuses, cars, sunshine-yellow taxis, all tooting and hooting, swerving, impatient to be somewhere. Most folk just … Continue reading Istanbul. The Morning Commute.

The Budget Orient Express.

The Orient Express. The very name conjures glamour and intrigue. Black tie donned counts wearing monocles. Countesses with cigarette holders and gold-capped front teeth. Servants and trunks. Finery and frippery. Decadence and dosh. But we were not on the real Orient Express. We were hurtling across Europe on a budget; travelling from Paris to Istanbul – hoping for some of the luxury at a fraction … Continue reading The Budget Orient Express.

Buntingford.

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.

Hello Kitty!

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!

Noodles!

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!