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…

Gate Crashing

19th May 2017 Like a proper European, I’ve had the summer off (apologies!). Not from work, sadly, but I have been able to squeeze in a few trips. The sun was out when I arrived in to Dublin. Which was lovely to see outside while I waited in the airport pub for my firend to…

Summer Break

8th September 2017 When the sun comes out in London, the capital is a great place to be. The city is very green and full of rooftop bars and pub gardens. And the weather is nicer than most people imagine. But that’s over now. This week has been grey and miserable. Somehow, I prefer working…

A Funny Ol’ Year

23rd June 2017 It has been a good twelve months. A change from the morning of 24th June 2016, when I went to sleep (in Spain), head spinning from the EU referendum results. Since then, I’ve been to six Spanish cities, to Frankfurt briefly (twice); I learned some Italian in Bologna (where I was told…

Flying through Frankfurt

5th – 7th May 2017 The day before dinner with my Polish housemate, I had gone for a drink with two friends from uni. They have been together since our second year and will soon be married. After a fair few beers (and a more ‘miss’ than ‘hit’ stand up comedy show), they asked me to…

A First Supper

13th April 2017 Now I’ve explored (from time to time) the self-loathing of the bottom of a bottle. But I’ve not often resorted to vodka to do so. (Beer and wine usually fill my particular void). Our new Polish housemate took us for dinner at Mamúska in Elephant and Castle. Anyone who knows that area of…

Bologna IV: Ciao, Ciao for Now

30th March – 1st April 2017 My last days in Bologna followed a similar trend: lots of food and lots of talking.  An older English woman in my class was growing increasingly frustrated with the school. She had lerned (and then taught) French in the old-school style of studying Latin and Ancient Greek; and although…

Bologna III: Getting my Hands Dirty

28th – 29th March 2017 Day two of my Italian course went smoothly. We were sudying direct and indirect peronal pronouns. Useful. Not much of a story there. I went for lunch with an Italian girl I’d met the night before. In the old market district, the streets still carry the names of the produce…

Bologna II: Styling it out

27th March 2017 An aunt of mine learnt German without studying or classes; but by spending a few months in the country. She learned “by ear”. I have nothing but envy for people like her. Others must study: grammar, vocabulary, syntax, pronunciation-through-phonetics. For them, languages are logical, rule-based and can be calculated. I don’t have enough…