Ravenna: Meals and Mosaics.

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.

Cooking at Lake Orta.

We stepped into a courtyard past a colossal seventeenth-century wooden door. Silvia poured water into pretty coloured glasses and started talking and laughing immediately. ‘We have a meat dish that’s very traditional to this area. The story goes that the Roman soldiers of long ago had nothing to eat – except for wine and garlic – people always had wine and garlic, even if they … Continue reading Cooking at Lake Orta.

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 Mercado Central of Sucre.

A feast for the eyes. Abundance. Vivid colour. It makes the mouth water and the stomach rumble. The amazing Mercado Central screams life and sustenance. Fruit and vegetables piled high and displayed like works of art. Huge pumpkins hacked into halves and quarters to reveal soft orange flesh. An old woman laboriously shelling fresh peas into a bowl nestled between her legs. Mini-mountains of mauve-skinned … Continue reading The Mercado Central of Sucre.

Istanbul. The Süleymaniye Mosque.

Istanbul offers disappointment in only one regard – the amount of scaffolding, tarpaulin and building work that engulfs the city. Even from our flat in Kadikoy we could see the scaffolding around a minaret of the Blue Mosque and decided we didn’t want to visit. ‘Go to the Süleymaniye Mosque’, Senem told us, and so we did. The Blue Mosque could not have been any … Continue reading Istanbul. The Süleymaniye Mosque.

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. For One Month.

We’re living on the Asian side. Our flat is on the fourth (top) floor of an old building. No elevator. Winding stairs that seem to never end. Past shoes outside doors. Once a person sitting smoking. And sometimes rubbish that needs to be thrown away. We know we’re almost there, as the stair well becomes lighter, and the seagulls screech louder. Their claws, tatter-tap-tap on … Continue reading Istanbul. For One Month.

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.