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. 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.

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.

‘Our’ Watchtower in Cadiz.

We were hemmed in by one of Cadiz’s narrow old-town streets. The ‘You are Here’ souvenir shop to our right, clothes and shoe shops all around, most of them shuttered. It was four in the afternoon and still siesta time. Wider than some, the street was still slightly claustrophobic; cobbled underfoot, and lined with enormous, seemingly impenetrable arched doorways. We were early and no one … Continue reading ‘Our’ Watchtower in Cadiz.