‘The name’s Bond. Dennis Bond’. Mr Bond provided our rather grand lunch stop today. He constructed Grange Arch – a bizarre, Disneyfied ediface, to ‘close off the distant view’ at his country home, Creech Grange. Shame it wasn’t called Skyfall. That aside it was a perfect walk on a perfect day. We skirted around crumbling Corfe Castle, leaving it almost immediately behind and below as … Continue reading Perfect, Quintessential England.
The weather forecast promised a heatwave. Blinding sunshine, blue skies and temperatures soaring beyond the twenties to the low thirties. We got mist. A white-out. And a few spots of rain. I wanted to find an ichthyosaurus, a plesiosaurus, or a scelidosaurus. We’d got bad weather under the circumstances, but what we needed was really big, bad weather. Rain coming down by the bucketful, wind, … Continue reading In The Footsteps of Mary Anning.
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.
It was a complete gift. We knew nothing about it; on a whim decided to chance it, and then just fell head-over-heels in love with it. Poetry in stone. A beech-hedged drive. A sixteenth-century dovecote. A bridge over the river Wye. Turrets and battlements playing hide-and-seek with tree tops and the hall sitting on it’s limestone bluff above us. Past the Elizabethan stables, through the … Continue reading Haddon – a hall and a home.
Parma: Not quite all about the ham, but almost! Continue reading Hamming It Up In Parma.
In the past I’ve taken Parmesan – sorry I mean Parmigiano Reggiano – Parmesan is its inferior imposter – for granted. I always thought of it as a crumbly bit of old cheese, something to grate over my pasta, nothing more. It never occurred to me to eat it by itself, for itself. All of these – what I now see were strange – ideas … Continue reading Blessed Are The Cheesemakers.
I saw Pavarotti once. In Prague. The ground was covered in frost and we slipped and slid down sloping paths. We could not bear being outside for more than a few minutes at a time, and huddled in cafes and ate lots of dumplings and cabbage. A hangar-like sports hall masqueraded as a concert venue and the famous white handkerchief was more visible than the … Continue reading Pavarotti: Son of Modena.
If there’s one thing that the people of Modena like more than opera music, it’s food. Enrico, our Airbnb host, left us two pieces of information – one entitled ‘cosa mangiare’ and the other a list of noteworthy restaurants. A man after my own heart. Figuring we’d diet later, we wondered through arcades and ancient streets to pretty piazzas stuffing our faces, satisfying our stomachs … Continue reading Cosa Mangiare a Modena.
Above me a velvety night sky full of stars. Concentric circles shimmer. I’m in a vortex. Static but giddy. Drowning in light. It is a beauty that knocks me off my feet. For days now, I’ve been standing, head knocked back at a curious angle, neck cricked, staring up at apses and arches, mesmerised by sparkling, spangling bits of coloured glass. The mausoleum is small, … Continue reading Ravenna: Meals and Mosaics.
We almost missed it. Just slightly off the beaten track. Huge and labyrinthine. We searched for the way in, while people on the inside looked for a way out. Once a Carthusian monastery. Now a cemetery. Colonnades. Cloisters. Loggias. Mausoleums and monuments. Marble, mosaic and wrought iron. Wealth and luxury. Art and beauty. Haunting, heart-stopping, jaw-dropping and even a tad horrifying. Our legs gave out … Continue reading The Charterhouse of Bologna.