An ordinary woman. An extraordinary woman. Miss Hilda Craven was born in 1892 and lived to the age of 102. She was ruled over by seven different British monarchs, and lived through two world wars. She saw the first step into space, the development of electricity, atomic power and the digital age. While the world was turning on it’s head and changing beyond recognition Hilda … Continue reading Mrs Smith.
You know you’re a house-sitter when you see a painting of a dog in one chair, and a girl in the other, and think ‘oh no, how sad’. Mary Cassatt’s girl does look a bit fed up. One of the perks of house-sitting – there’s always someone to share the sofa! Some let you drink your first cuppa quietly. Others perch stylishly on the edge. … Continue reading Couch-Sharing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Making Waves at the Gellért Spa in Budapest. The Orient Express – or the spirit of it – is the theme of this trip. We’re thinking history, wealth, luxury – and budget prices. We’d eaten copious quantities of cake in Budapest’s grand cafes, and now we were about to share a public bath with a few hundred other people. We’d planned our trip to the … Continue reading The Big Splash.
When I heard about Budapest’s cafe history I was in pastry heaven. At one time the city was bursting with around five hundred cafe’s. How I wish I’d been able to see it then, before wars and communism changed things so. The cafes were visited by all and sundry. Ordinary folk, at weekends for a spot of the latest news with coffee and cake; while … Continue reading Kávéház in Budapest.
I am in love with Paris. I feel that I lived there in another life and sometimes I wish I lived there in this one. When we hit upon the idea of our faux Orient Express trip, of course we started in Paris. But what if you’re a Paris newbie? Inspired by The Telegraph’s ‘My Kind of Town’ set of questions, here are my thoughts … Continue reading We Started In Paris.