Bocadilla on a Bench

Some years ago I took a train from Nice to Barcelona. As we crossed into Spain the whole mood in the carriage changed. Instead of petite French women nibbling on fruit, there were curvy, lively Spanish girls, talking and laughing. And out of their bags, wrapped up in shiny foil, they pulled bocadillas, big sandwiches, overflowing with ham, cheese, tomatoes … Read More

Desayuno, El Muerzo, Menu del Dia – eating out in Valencia

With all restaurants, bars and cafes out of action, it feels strange to walk the streets of this usually vibrant city, where you’re never more than 30 seconds from a snack or a one euro coffee, to see shutters down and closed doors. Takeaways are still on offer, but for someone who spends such a lot of time eating out, … Read More

Meetings and Greetings in Covid Valencia

Spanish people greet each other with a kiss on both cheeks. They repeat this when they say goodbye. They do it automatically, without question in nearly every situation, both informal or formal. Not to do so is considered rude, a little cold. I have struggled with this at times over the last seven years, since I first came to live … Read More

Eating Out for England

After weeks of repetitive lockdown cooking and washing up in Wales I was excited to return to London, where the restaurant world was doing its best to operate normally. The weather was mild and sunny and most places had outdoor tables, strategically placed so customers could easily distance. Some were extending Eat Out to Help Out into September, offering enticing … Read More

Summer Trundling 2020 and the Power of Friendship

Beyond 5 Miles The relaxation of the 5 Miles rule in Wales on July 6th and the opening of the tourist market on 13th July brought far more freedom as travelling to and from England became possible. It was time to leave the village of Maentwrog and head for London. Time to reflect a little too. And to contemplate how … Read More

A Winter Trundle in the Canary Isles

I wasn’t sure about Trundling around the Canaries. I had visions of marauding Brits, celebrating Brexit with litres of lager and mountains of chips in crowded resorts. In fact I rarely heard English spoken, just a gentle sing-song Spanish. No lager, but lots of fresh papaya juice and instead of chips, little dishes of Papas Arrugadas – locally grown potatoes, … Read More

Can’t Stop Las Fallas

Joan Ribo, the Mayor of Valencia, just announced that Las Fallas would be held this year, Coronavirus or not. In many other places this could be seen as a risky decision. There’s only been a few confirmed cases in the province, but it’s easy to imagine the virus spreading like wildfire during the city’s mammoth and most important festival. Packed … Read More

Play at Heath Street

Art for All in Hampstead The Heath Street Baptist Church in Hampstead is an admirable example of how a church can enrich a community. With free classical concerts, Jacket potato ceilidh nights and and delightful singing and music sessions for children, it has an appeal which stretches far and wide. Hampstead feels more homely here, bohemian yet friendly. For the … Read More