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On Being an Ersatz Oligarch

A snap of the fingers and a tom yang soup appears…

The marmalade of my youth

“I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade…” (D.H. Lawrence) The little marmalade, aka lemon, tree. In the garden (in truth a pocket handkerchief sized plot) of the very first house my parents built and owned, my mother planted a miniature orange tree- Calamondin according to a […] Read more

Fave caffs (14): Tumbling Bay

Should you crave a plate of something delicious: mushroom stroganoff, broccoli, spinach and pea soup, chickpea, spinach and tomato curry, sweet potato, kale and quinoa cakes with a small crisp salad (my favourite) then seek out the modest little community cafe off the Botley Road. It  lies at the back of a functional looking building  […] Read more

Unfave caffs: Dosa Park, Frideswide Square

What is the point of a  multi-million pound building declaiming the virtues of Mammon and Capital (and flaunting its diligent little aspirants behind plate glass in full view of passersby and skateboarders) when right opposite its sleek facade is a run-down Edwardian arcade of  shops and eateries that spell sleaze? Most outstandingly depressing among these […] Read more

The Rickety Press has many attributes that add to its charm: a bower of green leaves mellowing the exterior and softening the view from the windowside banquettes, a breezily chummy staff (Carole remarked on how the lattes had shrunk in size and was assured, “you want more coffee? Just say- I’ve got loads of coffee!”); […] Read more

Fave caffs (9): Oli’s Thai

In spite of their laid-back charm Rufus and Ladd are the sharpest knives in the block, having made a huge success of their compact  Thai family bistro in Oxford’s once arid culinary landscape. Oli’s Thai has become so popular that you can’t just walk in. Regulars plan weeks in advance,  with military precision, cunningly block […] Read more

  Will Pouget, who owns and runs the Vaults, is a unique character: fast thinking, fast moving like quicksilver, his long hair pushed off his face with shades. He is representative of the younger generation of entrepreneurs who have injected enthusiasm and clubbability into eateries and managed to create a devoted client base. A few […] Read more

Fellers and my chicken liver risotto

Universal Business Directory of 1794 has this description of the Covered Market of Oxford: The old shambles in Butcher Row [Queen Street] are likewise taken away, and a new general market, upon an extensive scale, is erected between the High-street and Jesus College Lane; which market is universally allowed to exceed every thing of the […] Read more

Twenty Years Back… This has been one of those mythical summers, when bees get drunk on obscenely gorgeous roses and honeysuckle, when Panama hats and straw boaters are essential wardrobe items, when proper thirst assumes reality, when grass shrivels and sun burns blisters on the skin. In June Wimbledon recorded 112F (surely not- must be […] Read more

Allotment News- Six months on

Taking over a derelict allotment which was being  strangled by couch grass, bindweed and mare’s tail and turning it into a productive source of fresh food has been a  pleasure-filled challenge. Six months from Slough of Despond (or as a friend’s late mother, who had a stock of wonderful phrases at the ready, used to […] Read more