I’m on the hunt for the orange, the ‘Queen of the Orchard‘, on the outskirts of a Portuguese town. However, a three-legged dog is after me. It fixes me with an amber-eyed gaze and its muscled form jumps when it barks. It may want to run with me, or it may want to bite. Friend … More The Queen of the Orchard is not rotten yet.
I know a woman who sprays herself with perfume each time she goes for a run. Afterwards, she takes a shower and washes both sweat and fragrance away. I know a man whose right hand clenches into a fist when he finds his running rhythm. His left hand always remains relaxed, even when he tries … More On ‘Being young until you get old’.
The doorbell rings and there’s a stampede on the stairs: “I’LL GET IT!” Whose face will it be – the face of a stranger or a face we know and love well? It’s the postman (a new face), standing in the rain. From beneath the brim of his dripping hat, he looks at us with … More Meeting Strangers
Last time I was in Cambridge I ran past a lady. A ‘lady’ because she held herself so. It was a bright Sunday morning, early and quiet, and I had emerged from the secret gardens alongside Vicar’s Brook – a magical land of giant daisies and squashes, sweet peas and potatoes – to a prosaic … More The Lady
“Hello … hello? Is that you, Becky?” My elderly neighbour is on the line. Her voice is strong and resonant but carries a chord of concern. “I just don’t know how everyone will cope,” she says, “How long is this going to last, do you think?” Mary is worried, of course, about the coronavirus crisis … More Pilchards
“We are eating mangoes now. The picture I have sent is one of our own trees outside our house.“ I wake to messages like this often. They arrive on my phone all the way from Malawi in the middle of the night, at the latest by 5 o’clock, when most Malawians have been up and … More Messages from Malawi
Yesterday, I met a woman in a shop. She didn’t give me her name, but she did divulge her age: 92 – yet she looked closer to 72 with her bright blue eyes, and I told her so. I asked her what her secret was. She looked a little bemused by my question, paused to … More Yesterday
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
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 whilst speaking nineteen to the dozen on … More Madrid anti-clockwise
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