Preparations

4th December 2017 We’re approaching the December EU summit and the British government seem increasingly desperate to be given the go-ahead to begin trade talks. A flurry of activity in Brussels has replaced talk of ‘no deal’ for now.  To move on to trade, the UK needs to demonstrate “sufficient progress” on the rights of…

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems

26th -29th September 2017 After 14 months of pressing my case at work, 2 pints at lunch and an angrily written email, my boss agreed to let me visit our Madrid office. They didn’t exactly show me to the full business-trip treatment that, say, my boss gets when she (regularly) travels. Yes, flights, hotels and…

Niça

31st August 2017 Somehow the bus from Nice to Menton cost me 28€. For one back, with more stops but only 20mins longer, I paid 1,80€. L’Arnaque! And the cheaper bus took me closer to the coast and through more beautiful towns along the côte d’azur. Even as we approached Nice and some rain started…

Franco-Italian Vignettes

28th – 31st August 2017 At the end of August, the côte d’azur was (as you might expect) rather hot. Too hot, in fact, to do very much of anything. Fortunately, I wasn’t on a sightseeing holiday. I was dropping in on my girlfriend mid-way through her summer adventures (I won’t allow her to have…

Ships Passing in the Night

A language lesson I learned from the Simpsons: envy is when you want what someone else has; jealousy is when you’re afraid of losing what you already have. Every time someone tells us of their latest holiday, or we see their delicious lunch and say we’re jealous, we’re making a mistake. A shocking thing to…

Little Europe

11th August 2017 I went out for dinner with a group of Italians living in London. Naturally for pizza. The Italians came from across their country: Lombardy, Puglia, Piemonte, Venice, Naples, Rome. It had me thinking about Italy’s regions, languages and peoples. Lombardy and Veneto recently voted for grater autonomy from Italy, adding to independence…

Something Substantial

28th – 30th July 2017 We went back up to Edinburgh to visit my step-brother in July. This time there were ten of us: parents, four siblings and their other halves. We drank fewer cockails and more Tennents. Fringe was starting the following week and the city was buzzing with preparations. While we weren’t around…

Pre-Drinks

7th – 9th July 2017 I wrote before about my less than cool reaction to being asked to be best man for friends of mine living in Frankfurt. The speech still freaked me out (excessively so) but the stag do was more fun. We met in Cologne, chosen au pif, by chance, where there was…

Of Enosis and Taksim

10th October 2017 3% of the island of Cyprus is British territory. The military bases there, like Gibraltar and Northern Ireland, provide the UK with multiple land borders with the EU. The island – by then, used to conquerors – was useful to the British and their american allies for keeping tabs on the Soviets…

Hot, Hot, Hot

29th June 2017 We arrived in Paphos, the birthplace of Aphrodite, late at night. And it was hot. The town was dark, streetlights were few and we wandered to a shop for a snack dinner to eat by the pool of our apartment. I had never visited Cyprus before but a midnight dinner under the…

A Slower Pace

30th May 2017 When I stayed in Bologna, I was having a mini croissant and a coffee for breakfast, standing at the bar of Eataly. Their espresso machines were more modern than usual and the croissants were recognisably flaky, buttery croissants (unlike the filled brioches elsewhere). That tempted me in for my breakfast but Eataly…

A Wedding Feast

27th May 2017 Fresh from a first communion in Ireland, I headed for another catholic service. This time a wedding in Turin, northern Italy. My first catholic wedding. And my first wedding in general since my grandmother’s where I was a toddler page boy or ringbearer or something equally adorable. This time, my girlfriend was…