We stepped into the courtyard and straight into the heart of a little family business. And it was more heart than business. On a low bench along a wall a young man sat pencilling designs on small rounded tan-coloured gourds. Two young women next to him, carving out his drawings, using nothing more than a nail sharpened to a point. I noticed the plasters wound … Continue reading The Gourd Man.
Once you went in, you never came out. Santa Catalina: a pretty prison, but a prison nonetheless. Painted letters over the entrance to the first courtyard urge SILENCE, yet noise from the city surrounds you: the cries of street vendors, the clop of horses hooves, the hum of voices, the sound of life. There are forty-foot-high walls, but your prison is open to the air; … Continue reading Sisters Doing It For Themselves.
Set high, amidst pock-marked mined mountains at 4,100m, the town of Potosi has a faded, drained air. It’s glory days are long gone, and while remnants of beauty remain, the flesh has clearly been picked from it’s bones. Twenty-three kilometers, 30 minutes, and another world away, lies the rich fertile valley and hacienda of Cayara; the oldest country estate in the continent of South America. … Continue reading The Time Machine of Hacienda Cayara.
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.
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!
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.
Memories are made of this. It was all very Brief Encounter. Clouds of steam on a quaint platform. A whistle. A chug of the wheels and a prolonged hiss, as train 31806 came to a halt. I should have been wearing gloves and a hat. I was transported back to a time when travel was slow, genteel and convivial; shared flasks of hot tea, pork pies … Continue reading The Age Of Steam.
We spent the British summer (grim, grey and shower after shower) in Weymouth, looking after the gorgeous Harley and Tully, and Batman the cat. (I cannot think of Batman without that soundtrack running through my head). The dogs were gorgeous cocker spaniels; so pretty with ruffled ears like flowing locks. Tully, small and nimble, golden like soft brown sugar. Harley, always with a lopsided cheeky … Continue reading Oh, I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside.
It’s well known that the English are eccentric. ‘Only mad dogs and English men…’ and all that. Nothing expresses this national characteristic more than the passion for folly building. Aristocrats with more money than sense set up turreted towers, sham castles and ornamental gateways on hill-tops, in gardens, and in the middle of nowhere, for no better reason than that they could. These places are … Continue reading Foibles and Follies.
‘Well done. The kids will be delighted’, she said as she turned to face us, trowel poised mid-air, ‘We were a bit short-handed this year, we didn’t have time to put out the explanations.’ It was the music notes that gave it away – although, I admit, not to me, but to Jim. Those, and the big fat moustache. The trowel plunged downwards again and … Continue reading ‘Excuse Me, Is That Elgar?’