Perfect, Quintessential England.

‘The name’s Bond. Dennis Bond’. Mr Bond provided our rather grand lunch stop today. He constructed Grange Arch – a bizarre, Disneyfied ediface, to ‘close off the distant view’ at his country home, Creech Grange. Shame it wasn’t called Skyfall. That aside it was a perfect walk on a perfect day. We skirted around crumbling Corfe Castle, leaving it almost immediately behind and below as … Continue reading Perfect, Quintessential England.

In The Footsteps of Mary Anning.

The weather forecast promised a heatwave. Blinding sunshine, blue skies and temperatures soaring beyond the twenties to the low thirties. We got mist. A white-out. And a few spots of rain. I wanted to find an ichthyosaurus, a plesiosaurus, or a scelidosaurus. We’d got bad weather under the circumstances, but what we needed was really big, bad weather. Rain coming down by the bucketful, wind, … Continue reading In The Footsteps of Mary Anning.

Dorset. Sea and Scones.

There’s a great thing about walking in the English countryside. The tea-room. All good walks should begin or end at one. At Worth Matravers, deep in Dorset, next to the duck pond on the miniscule green is the quintessential, quaint English tea-shop. Full of antiques and mismatched china, embroidered knick-knacks, sugar basins with cubed sugar and tongs, old advertising posters, – and people. We could … Continue reading Dorset. Sea and Scones.

Cosa Mangiare a 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.

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.

The Charterhouse of Bologna.

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.

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.