≡ Menu


A Spanish Tale

Gerald Brenan and Dora Carrington For Marcel Proust it was enough to remember a childhood cake dunked into a cup of tea to light the fire that would become ‘In search of lost time’. For Gerald Brenan, that cake was “several large pieces” of turrón from Jijona. He tried it when he was ten, when […] Read more

Ordering Chaos

I have been to a few literary festivals- Jaipur, Hay, Oxford- which give off a kind of frenzied energy which reminds one of the commercial drive behind the high-minded facade. I suppose because I had free entry to events, was being treated like a privileged visitor and in a state of near ecstasy over my environment, I thought Mantua had a definite edge over the others.

Lost villages

the "lost village"

The lost village of Acebuchal On January 13 it was warm enough to be eating lunch dressed in a tee shirt up in the mountains of Andalusia and while waiting for my thick potato and rib soup to cool a little I experienced a sharp feeling of deja-vu. potato and rib soup with chickpeas Sebastian’s […] Read more

Paradise Regained

The custard-cream church Kardymili This year is the eighth time I have been in Kardymili since I published my first post in November 2013, so I had to stop at the village church to pay homage and be blessed by the sung Orthodox liturgy. I’d parked the rusty old bike outside, the same bike I […] Read more

Hospitality (4) Quinta da Concecaio, Setubal

An owl lived in the dark green cork woods and I was lulled  to  sleep  by gentle hooting.  A harvest moon silvered a swimming pool flanked by classical pillars and a Moorish aqueduct, crickets stridulated during the slow languid afternoon and a rumbustious cock crowed somewhere in the distance. These were exceptions to the silence […] Read more

Exiles in far islands

Currently  pertinent in regard  to colonial history,  the Karma Police are working overtime issuing warrants and ASBOs.    Unholy chaos in the Middle East (messing about with other peoples’ borders and ideas of nationhood) as well as  news reports of rotten baby teeth in Britain, obesity, cancer and diabetes (linked to a sugar laden national […] Read more

Life’s non-guilty pleasures

Is there any experience more pleasurable than a whole week by oneself in a sunny climate, the sea at one’s front door, books to read, videos to watch, simple fresh food and company when one wants? My second trip to Kardimyli in late October was a near perfect holiday, just slightly marred by the presence […] Read more

Northumberland, the last outpost

On a peerless day in November we walked coatless alongside the River Till, near the estates of Ford and Etal and close by  Flodden where James IV’s Scottish army was defeated in a decisive battle. The sun was warm, almost hot, and we watched the play of light on the water and through the gold […] Read more

Hospitality (3) Casa del Grivo

Close to the ancient city of Civedale in the Friuli region and on the border of Slovenia is a ancient stone house, re-built and lovingly restored by Toni and Paola (with the help of many friends) when they were young and full of hopeful energy and enthusiasm. The sturdy walnut tree provided small walnuts for […] Read more

Hospitality (2) La Luna di Quarazzana

  I imagine that no one who stays at La Luna di Quarazzana is especially deprived, but everyone who comes here surely leaves a few  notches more uplifted. Ilaria Baccherini is blessed with a gift of making her guests feel truly looked after and listened to. There is nothing elaborate or fancy about the house […] Read more