Israel

I first met Israel in 2016 at a primary school in rural Malawi. I remember introducing him here on this blog, telling of his penchant for my sunglasses and the sparkle in his eye. He was nine years old. I wondered whether I would ever see him again. But when my son and I revisit … More Israel

Margret’s Kitchen

Jon chops onions, I take photos, and Margret is sensational in yellow. We are in Margret’s kitchen, to the rear of the house she shares with Kenneth, her husband, and their son, Jonathan, in rural Malawi. It’s the end of a fascinating trip (more of which later). Clean pots and pans wait as fires hot … More Margret’s Kitchen

The Shop

Right next to the bar is the shop. It sells all the usual staples, like daily bread and cheap local wine, hunks of cheese and carefully cured meats. Great wedges of watermelon are piled high in the fridge, dwarfing imperfect red tomatoes of all shapes and sizes. In charge of it all is a super … More The Shop

The Wolf Whistle

I’ve not been wolf-whistled in at least 25 years. That’s quite a time. But it’s now no longer true. Rewind four weeks and I am walking up a quiet Greek road thinking about figs. I am whistled at. Technically, I know it to be a wolf whistle (the short rising note followed by a slow … More The Wolf Whistle

The Bar

Occupying prime position on one side of the roundabout, about which all traffic to Thermisia village comes and goes, is the café-bar. It takes the unofficial, unassuming, low-lying role of the watchtower. Neatly aligned chairs occupy the narrow strip of pavement, where men sit with matching glasses of ouzo and water. Friends buzz up on … More The Bar

A bit about Makis

Nelly tells me that Nikos (her son, who fishes) caught them. They drape over a high metal bar (like the top of an old-fashioned swing) under the burning sun. Yiannis (Nelly’s other son) elaborates: they must hang to dry for about 30 hours before they are ready to grill. Nikos will do it simply with … More A bit about Makis

Madrid anti-clockwise

I run early before heat encases the city, although its grip is palpable already. I slide beside walls and stick to shadows cast on slivers of street littered with last night’s debris. Morning tourists are few but strewn like slowly perambulating hazards. Smart locals in shades dodge them deftly whilst speaking nineteen to the dozen … More Madrid anti-clockwise

Incredible Edible

Today I was intrigued to see veg and herbs growing outside my local town’s council offices. What a brilliant way to use up space often inhabited (as Pam Warhurst says with comedic disdain) by unproductive “prickly plants”.  Incredible Edible is a movement that’s growing (globally), and it’s inclusive: “If you eat, you’re in.” The premise is … More Incredible Edible

The Butcher of Bologna

Our meal is a disappointment. Beautifully presented pasta and delicious melanzane parmigiana, yes, but the atmosphere is lacking and the prices are steep. Our waitress rushes around the sleek surroundings in a joyless and harried fashion, which is something of a surprise in foodcentric Bologna. It’s almost a relief to be out on the street, … More The Butcher of Bologna

Plastic Peccadilloes

I imagine Bettina Maidment to have enviable cupboards full of Kilner jars in which she keeps colourful lentils in nice neat rows. I bet there’s not a single piece of plastic to blight the eye For Bettina is the Plastic Free Community Leader for Hackney. She took the decision to live without plastic a couple … More Plastic Peccadilloes