Maintaining Momentum

31st December 2016 I spent New Year’s Eve with Italians in Cambridge. Our menu for the night included: Butternut squash risotto Grissini Smoked salmon Cured hams Two polenta dishes: one with cheese, one with sausages in a tomato sauce Pannetone And a freshly baked pear cake It was quite a feast. And enough to stave…

HCA

December 2016 There is a man in the east London borough of Hackney who has been feeding the hungry and trying to bring together his compatriots since before I was born. In fact, my father was only ten when Turkish soldiers landed in northern Cyprus and my parents had only just met the year the…

Torn to Pieces

23rd February 2017 I was reading an article the other day about faultlines across Europe. The most obvious from the papers is that of the nationalist, populist mood against the increasingly-derogatory term Europhile. This in-out, inclusive-exclusive divide reacts to the others.  In England, we want to “take back control” from Brussels but jealously resist devolving…

Far from Bavaria

3rd December 2016 There’s a tradition in London wherein Londoners spend December telling each other how great Winter Wonderland is and how you really must go. It is a huge funfair in Hyde Park that is Christmas-themed and rammed full of people. I really couldn’t see the attraction. Now, when it comes to Christmas markets,…

Cheers!

29th – 30th November 2016 We didn’t arrive in Budapest in style. The overnight train didn’t seem too bad – until we were told to leave the first class carriage. In our rightful place in cattle class, the lights were bright and the seats, upright. I had just dozed off around 3 a.m. when we passed…

Surpises in Sibiu

…continued. 28th November 2016 To get to Budapest, we had to change in Sibiu. We decided to head to the centre to kill a little time. The taxi driver didn’t understand “centre” so I pointed at a random street in the middle of the map and off we went. It was bitterly cold and we…

Salve in Sighisoara

…continued. 28th November 2016 So we arrived into Sighisoara, passing the orderly rows of Saxonesque houses, emerging from the terrifyingly dark and steep mountain roads, at almost eleven o’clock at night. It seemed eerily quiet and a little spooky walking from the station. The fact that this was Dracula’s hometown – and the bats circling…

Broken in Brasov

28th November 2016 …continued. We woke up in Bucharest feeling worse for wear and hopped in a taxi to the station. We managed to miss the first train but that at least gave us plenty of time (three hours..) to get some food. The station offered a number of options and we found shelter from…

Boozing in Bucharest

24th – 27th November 2016 I arrived in the last hours of daylight, in the late afternoon. Originally we were going to take a trip through the Baltics but somehow we pulled Romania out of nowhere.  I had few preconceptions about Romania. I knew it only as an ex-Soviet country. In preparation, I read Along the…

Birthday Celebrations

5th November 2016 For the third year in a row, I celebrated my birthday in Granada. The first year I was living there, up in the Albaicín, the old town. The crowded, white-clad houses and their cobbled streets sit on their hill looking out to their protector, the Alhambra palaces.  Later, the town became the…

Ghosts of Seasons Past

I thought I’d try to get this in while it’s still kind of relevant. A little festive romp through Europe.  * December 2014 ‘Twas the night before the night before Christmas eve and my two Irish friends descended upon London. We crashed my mum’s “work party” (cocktails with her only employee, my stepdad) and went…

The Truth and Other Lies

September 2016 I’ve been re-reading some of the things I wrote while studying in Paris. I had remembered writing about truth and appearances (but must have forgotten the heavy handed zeal with which I intoned). What I found was more about lies. In my clumsy prose, I kept returning to the idea of constructing something true…