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.
We have just completed a house-sitting in the delightfully named Buntingford – it’s as if the flags are always out, and the town is in a permanent state of excitement – but, in spite of it’s name, we were not looking forward to our visit. Previously, Sophie and Bobby, our two Labrador charges, lived in the New Forest. (Out of Season. Out of Time.) When … Continue reading Buntingford.
Tokyo’s obsession with cats. ‘Hello Kitty’, cat-ears in pop culture, maneki neko lucky cats, the home of the original cat cafe – Japan is seemingly obsessed with moggies, and Tokyo is no exception. There are temples dedicated to cats. In a small corner at Gotokuji there are hundreds of lucky cat figures, their little arms raised in greeting. Small ones perched on stone ledges, looked … Continue reading Hello Kitty!
Amsterdam is a ‘feest voor het oog’ (sight for sore eyes, as the Dutch say) but it’s not a cheap city to visit. Unless you know where to look. We’ve all been there – strange place, hungry, but no idea where to go. Tourist traps abound in Amsterdam. But the following are my favourite places: nice places – with a good atmosphere – where you can eat at … Continue reading On A Budget? Eating Out In Amsterdam.
Breakfast: Omelegg. For a great start to the day, omelettes of every description. Leaving Omelegg, turn right and walk up the Ferdinand Bolstraat to the Albert Cuyp Market, after 350 metres on the right. The best known market in Holland, and with over 260 stalls, possibly the largest day market in Europe. When the fish stalls close down for the day, and the street is … Continue reading Foodie Heaven: A Tour of Amsterdam’s De Pijp.
Ponte Ruga Vecchia, 1446, was our destination. Billed as ‘room apartment in Venice heart’. We wanted to live among the locals, away from tourist thoroughfares. Ten minutes walk from the railway station, down narrow calles and over hump-backed bridges. Shops, a beggar woman with outstretched hand, crumbling bricks, and pale rippling water – it passed by in a blur. But it’s beauty struck deep. I … Continue reading Our House In The Middle Of Our Street.
I wrote this piece a few years ago, while we were trying to track the Mekong River from source to mouth (I love a trip with a theme!) and we were beguiled by The Bakery No. 88. It’s still there, and it’s the sort of place I’d travel to the ends of the earth to get to (which is a bit what Yunnan province in China felt … Continue reading Let Them Eat Cake!
Cordoba is known for her courtyards and we were lucky enough to have our own. Sky-blue walls and plant-pots, green foliage, coloured flowers, lemons, figs and bougainvillea. Our apartment was up plant-filled steps, in the eves, crowned by peach-grey weathered tiles. At two in the afternoon, when the mercury in the thermometer went beyond forty degrees, this – and an ice-cold bottle of water – … Continue reading Cordoba – Patios And A Square.
The medina – a 250-hectare honeycomb of 9,400 streets and alleyways;a warren of dog-leg passages and dead ends; 320 mosques, 5,000 furniture shops and 400,000 people. A map is no help at all. We saw an Italian man trying to scribble his own map at every turning – impossible – so many Mohammeds and Jalils wanting to show you the way, so many souks, shops, … Continue reading Fez Medina – ‘A Thousand Welcomes’.
We didn’t mean to housesit in Tokyo. We were settled in our little house in Kaminoge. But then we saw Doris the labradoodle and Lucy the lagotto on Trusted Housesitters and we couldn’t help ourselves. Maybe we were turning Japanese and succumbing to the kawaii (cute) vibe. We decamped to Yoyogi Uehara. Doris is the oldest. She knows she was ‘first’ and has a regal … Continue reading In Tokyo With The Aussie Girls.