We don’t just look after dogs and cats. Sometimes there are sheep and goats. We’ve had guinea pigs and rabbits and fish, and once three little piggies. And often there are chickens. Not many people would consider a chicken to be a pet, but on a sit in Wales I had one of those world-within-a-world moments, and a whole new chicken-centred universe opened up before … Continue reading Chicken Talk.
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.
I have a list as long as my arm of places I’d like to go someday. Bologna was on that list because of Rick Stein. Rick only had a weekend, but we had a week. We walked and walked and fell in love with the city a little bit more each day. Portico after portico. All a little bit different. Colours and textured stone, hiding … Continue reading Reasons To Love Bologna.
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.
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.