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

Ristorante da Enzo

I’m watered as I examine the restaurant menu hanging at street level. I take it to be an invitation of a sort. Ristorante da Enzo in Modena (a first floor establishment) has windows back and front, dressed by a variety of healthy plants. Responsibility for their welfare falls upon a green-fingered older woman who is … More Ristorante da Enzo

Le Sfogline

Le Sfogline – sisters of pasta. More accurately, it means: those who make sheets of pasta by hand in the traditional way by using a rolling pin (mattarello). Rick Stein met them once (these particular sfogline, who are indeed sisters) and they reminded him that never in Bologna – or Italy for that matter – … More Le Sfogline

Kitty the Dancer

Kitty’s a dancer. She’s agile and flexible and recognises a cue. I haven’t seen her take a single (dance) step yet, but soon I know this is true. We’re talking about kids. Kitty says she wouldn’t want to be young in today’s world – the pressures! Nobody ever expected her to achieve anything at all … More Kitty the Dancer

Shy daffs

Shy daffs of yesterday are showing off today. Happy days. It must be Spring.

Cornish pasty

I’ve known I was a Cornish Pasty ever since I can remember. It’s a family thing, a bit silly, but consider that my parents’ audience (many years ago) was a delighted group of three small kids. We loved that my biggest brother was a Cockney Sparrer, and that my other brother and I were great … More Cornish pasty

East End Shadows

Rachel Kolsky is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on this drizzle-damp morning. She carries an über-loved fabric flower like a wand, and darts around our group at twice the speed that I can presently think. Her ears prick up when I say the words ‘fairy cake‘, but I confess that I have none with me; I was … More East End Shadows