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A drowned allotment

A big mistake, among many others, was to walk away from my allotment when I went to France. But as soon as I knew I’d be coming back I applied for another plot. It took the best part of 18 months to find one and now it’s drowning in flood water. My first allotment was […] Read more


    Perhaps the single most off-putting “like”, in the lists provided by Men Seeking Women in Guardian Soulmates is “NT”, or National Trust, seconded only by “log fires” and “country walks”. Can you imagine a more boring past time than  trundling around historic houses looking at topiary and tapestries, leaving the Rangerover to babysit […] Read more

fave caffs (4): Zappi’s

  Bike shop married to a cafe. Combinations of utilitarian/practical with no-nonsense food work well if the food has some heart and the utility is gritty and functional- eating to live and all that. Zappi’s on St Michael Street in the centre of Oxford offers refreshment in a brightly lit space upstairs. Sit and read […] Read more

Jane Fanner-Hoskin serving her coffee-walnut gateau and scones with cream   Jane and Vyvyan, her wheelwright hubby, live in a canal boat close to Kirtlington Quarry. I first knew them when they were moored on the canal at the bottom of Frenchay Road in Oxford, but the Council rudely moved them away. They let me […] Read more

Favourite caffs (2): nine beanrows and a hive

where the bee sucks…. Smallholding,  sweetpeas, salad greens, succulent vegetables, a ‘Strine with many strings to his bow and his spouse (from Holland). Somehow David and Anneke have created a rural idyll just three miles from Oxford where you can buy the freshest organic produce and bask in the micro-climate of extravagantly planted  acreage with its […] Read more

My favourite caffs

(Please note that Marianne Bruel retired from the business in 2014, after 13 years of producing wonderful meals. The Rose no longer bears her stamp- in fact the very opposite of all she aspired to). One day, while  researching a book in the Bodleian, I found I was starving. Such is the effect on the […] Read more

Brouhaha in Upper Fisher Row

  The cries of a girl in distress made me leap up  from my desk  overlooking our cul-de-sac,  the river flowing sweetly alongside, and run down to investigate the commotion (I work at two desks,  one of which  is useless for work that needs serious concentration, while the other is conducive to deep thought). A […] Read more

  Twenty years ago, in the early 90’s of the last century, I was already blogging- after a fashion. This week I unearthed a cache of articles that had been published in The Pioneer of New Delhi. This short-lived daily set off with high hopes, but spluttered to a bankrupt halt after only four or […] Read more

Easter Vacation 2012

  The eight week vacation begins and the University swimming pool is looking de-cluttered once more. The feng-shui is welcome also in the changing rooms, which in term time ring to the undergrad ladettes trying to outvy one another with tales of sexual and alcohol related frolics; but the youthful energy injects a buzz in […] Read more