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 – Topkapi Palace.

The Harem. Ugly Beauty. We were standing at the heart of four hundred years of Ottoman intrigue. If I half closed my eyes I saw black eunuchs and concubines, diaphanous fabrics, ewers, jewels, court musicians and the sultan’s dwarves. When I opened them I saw selfie-clicking tourists and tunnels of thick polythene sheeting hiding no-go areas. Not so much the soothing sound of water fountains, … Continue reading Istanbul – Topkapi Palace.

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.

Grandma’s House In Bran.

My mum burst out laughing when I told her I was tired. I could almost hear her thinking. ‘You tired? You don’t do anything’. Or as another friend recently put it. ‘How is it going with your walking from tea-shop to tea-shop’? I don’t blame them. I do lead a life of Riley. But sometimes life on the move becomes too much. Our ‘Orient Express’ … Continue reading Grandma’s House In Bran.

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.

House-Sitting in Alora, Spain.

A place to call our own. For three weeks at least. We only had to share it with Coco, Derecha and Maisie. ‘We’re in the campo’, Jackie told us. We’d imagined Alora as a quaint little village, cobbled streets falling down a hillside. Don’t know where we got that idea from. Must have been the mention of ‘pueblo blanco’ that did it. In reality, Alora … Continue reading House-Sitting in Alora, Spain.