shewhomust: (mamoulian)
But first, a sidelight on the subject from the Guardian news section: a recent report on the changes in British holidays over the last 20 years - with thanks to [personal profile] durham_rambler for remembering the magic word which allowed me to track down the article online: the information comes from the ONS (and here's the ONS report itself, which clarifies what is meant by words like 'average'). I read the headline, "Britons shunning two-week holidays in favour of short breaks" and thought it confirmed my suspicion, that these days it's all about the weekend break - but no, although these are now more popular than they were in the 1990s, the real growth is in the ten-day holiday. Which makes our Easter trip to Europe bang on trend - as was our choice of Germany as a destination! Another surprise is that Spain is by far the most popular destination (that may mean, overseas destination - I'm not sure), and has about doubled in popularity in the period we're looking at: I'd have guessed that package sunshine holidays had shifted from Spain to Florida, with the help of Disney resorts, but no - or perhaps that had already happened when the baseline was drawn. Yesterday's travel supplement notes that Barcelona is suffering from tourism overload, and blames AirBnB, cruise ships and the Olympics. So that's all interesting.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, an article about hill forts begins "As a nation, we’re not very good at appreciating our prehistory. We can just about take in Stonehenge, but prefer our history to start with the Romans – more manageable and all written down." Speak for yourself, sir! The article is linked to a new online atlas of hill forts, which is rather fine. If you search the Guardian for 'hill forts', the top result is this rather more sceptical article (but its main reservations seem to be about the terminology.

We could go to West Jutland and see the Vikings.

I probably won't take an island holiday in Croatia, not even for the pleasure of tasting a wine called grk - I'd be more tempted if it didn't rely on cycling (and scooters) to get around.

But we are plotting a few days in France in October, since we have an engagement in London: time to make some decisions about that...
shewhomust: (Default)
We had a lot of catching up to do with J: she has been house-hunting, she has been on holiday. So we invited her to dinner last night, and to stay the night, so that she could tell us all about it. As a result, [personal profile] durham_rambler has spent the morning searching the internet for information about the property with which she has fallen in love, and I have been looking for information about Trieste, which sounds like a good place to visit.

With that in mind, an interesting piece in the WSJ and Trieste Tourist Office. Best coffee in Italy, allegedly.

J didn't come empty handed. She brought me a blue shirt, passed on to her by F., and not quite right (there was a reason, but I've forgotten it): it is a shade of blue which always makes me think of GirlBear, so it may not have reached its destination yet - we shall see. Also the last remains of a putizza, a characteristic cake from Trieste and Slovenia which combines innocuous looking panettone with nodules of concentrated essence of Christmas cake, to which chocolate has been added. And half a panettone, which we didn't touch last night, and divided up this morning. I shall make bread-and-butter pudding tonight (without the butter).
shewhomust: (bibendum)
We have booked a holiday. It's not a particularly long or exotic trip, but I'm pleased about it - and it's quite soon! We are taking a couple of weeks in April to visit the borders of Belgium and Germany: a combination of places we've never been and wanted to, and places we've enjoyed and wanted to revisit, plus a wild card.

The plan is to take the ferry (in a couple of weeks time) from Hull to Zeebrugge, pay a quick visit to Bruges and then spend a few days in Ghent. Then a detour down to Bouillon, to admire the castle (as recommended by [livejournal.com profile] jemck), and into Germany to visit Trier, with time to wander the Moselle valley if we are so inclined, and Aachen. The wild card is Utrecht, chosen because it looks interesting and because it is well on the way to the ferry post of Amsterdam, from which we can take an overnight ferry all the way back to Newcastle. It's all booked up, so we've got to go!

Naturally, as soon as we have a holiday booked, two things happen: neither is a disaster, in fact both are agreeable things which will await our return or longer. Nonetheless, great timing. The first is that the BBC has announced that the new season of Doctor Who will start while we are out of the country; the other is that a leaflet fell out of the Guardian colour supplement advertising holidays in Atlantic Canada (this one, in particular), and it does look very tempting (they even put a picure of a puffin in the brochure, just for me). But there will be other years...

ETA: via the same issue of the Guardian, this time the Travel section, an article about walking the Fundy Footpath points to the website of the Atlantic Canada tourist board.
shewhomust: (mamoulian)
1. Hull...
The Guardian offers an insider's guide to the City of Culture, including a hotel recommendation. Not that I'm planning a cultural jaunt to Hull, but it might be worth a stopover if we were, say, taking the ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge. And we might be planning something of the kind. First, though, I need to renew my passport.


2. ...and high water
It's been raining, and when we crossed the river on the way to the pool yesterday morning we were both impressed by how fast the water was flowing. Also, vacation is over, and the student swimmers are back, occupying a third of the pool and making waves.


3. ...with gently smiling jaws
The press report as good news Donald Trumps statement that he'll be only too happy to do business with a post-Brexit Britain, and none of this nonsense about delay or going to the back of the queue. Folks, when a businessman tells you that he's only to happy to make this deal, and don't you worry your little head about those pesky details - well, maybe that's the time to slow down.


4. From Hartlepool...
The Reading Group has been discussion comics set in England, and as always, relying heavily on members contributing items from our own collections - but this week I've been reading a book from the library's collection, The Hartlepool Monkey by Wilfrid Lupano and Jérémie Moreau. This is a first in the current discussion, I think, a French perspective on an aspect of England - though publisher Knockabout are very discreet about that origin: only a little sticker on the cover, saying "Winner of the Rendez-vous de l'histoire Award 2013 gives the game away. Identifying the book as historical BD, a mainstream genre in France, makes a lot of sense, and the story - that during the Napoleonic wars the people of Hartlepool hanged a monkey as a French spy, earning themselves the nickname 'monkey-hangers' - has become more widely known since the electoral success of Stuart Drummond.

Lupano's narrative is carefully pitched: there's just enough pathos to season the farce. The people of Hartlepool don't come out of it well, though to be fair, nor does the French captain who appears briefly in the opening scenes; Moreau's art has a scratchy, cartoony quality that reminds me of Ronald Searle, and his scribbled landscapes give a fair impression of Hartlepool's Headland (there are some samples in this review).

There's a sting in the tail in the closing pages, with the identification of the doctor who has involuntarily broken his journey in the town and witnessed the grotesque events, accompanied by his young son. I'm ambivalent about this: as far as I can discover it has no historical basis, and the respect with which he is treated (visually, in his clear lines and blocks of colour, as well as verbally) suggests what while the poor are fair game for satire, the wealthy are exempt. It's a neat little twist, though, to close the story which otherwise does just what it says on the tin.


5. ...to La La Land
To the cinema yesterday, for La La Land, accompanied by J. who did not like it At All. This may have cast a dampener on my own reaction, best summarised as:Fun movie, what's all the fuss about? We both enjoyed the references to classic films, but we both thought it went on too long. And really, if you're going to remind me of Singin' in the Rain or An American in Paris, you risk me feeling that that was very nice, but actually I'd rather be watching Singin' in the Rain or An American in Paris.
shewhomust: (bibendum)
This time last year, we were just home from our holiday in (mostly) France; in the intervening year we have spent a couple of weeks in the west of Scotland, and - and that's it. Not our usual allocation of holiday, and people still ask us about our travels as if they expected more of us, but there you go. We've been otherwise occupied.

I continue to study the Guardian's the Travel supplements. I've been feeling a bit self-conscious about this, but right now I'm feeling vindicated, since I've just booked a cottage on Lindisfarne for next midsummer - on the basis of the Guardian's recommendation of cosy cottages for Christmas.

Otherwise, it's mostly Italy. In order of publication:

A curious piece in the 'why I love a place I know' series by a doctor working in the Barolo wine country, who appears to be living about a century ago - not because he reaches his patients on horseback through the vineyards, but this is surely a voice from the past: "Farmers have always worshipped barolo, the king of wines, like a god with healing powers. In the past, rich noble families from Turin came for 'wine-therapy' to cure anaemia and treat low blood pressure. I prescribe four glasses of barolo a day to pregnant women: it works miracles, giving them the energy to face labour and delivery. We have a saying: 'Wine makes good, healthy blood.'" Italy is another country; they do things differently there. (He recommends B & B in an organic flour mill).

I don't suppose I would really construct a trip to Italy around a (food) festival, but here's the link just in case - it's the chestnut festivals that particularly appeal, and they list two: Sagra della Castagna, Soriano nel Cimino, Lazio, which looks very grand and cultural, and the Fiera nazionale del Marrone which looks altogether more food focussed. Their website is a bit sluggish, so here, have some chestnut porn:



This reminded me of staying somewhere in France, on a walking holiday, a week or two too early for the chestnut festival - but where? I thought it would be easy to search out, but it seems that everywhere in France has its chestnut festival: was it Quarrŕ-les-Tombes? or somewhere, anywhere in the Ardèche?

I really would like to visit Friuli (capital: Trieste), so these suggestions might actually be of use.

(My earlier posts with links for Italy, including wine tourism in Collio and the wetlands of the Veneto, which must be in the same sort of area.)
shewhomust: (dandelion)
  • Contestant on Only Connect, deliberating with team-mates: I alway get 'Flaubert's Parrot' mixed up with 'Foucault's Pendulum'.


  • The decorators, having finished a previous job earlier than expected, arrived on Tuesday afternoon. The builder, to whom I had given the sample of my chosen wallpaper and the brochure with my chosen paint colours marked on it before we went on holiday, has not passed them on and has in fact lost them. We have, as of today, reinstated that order, and the decorator is confident that this won't hold things up. That may be because the condition of the plaster under the wallpaper is worse than they had expected, and what with patching the plaster and lining the walls, they will have plenty to keep them occupied. The room, our bedroom, had not been decorated since we moved in in 1975; yes, I am quite excited at getting rid of the Lincrusta wallpaper - but what I am really excited about is the prospect of adequate wardrobe space.


  • The man in front of me at the till in Marks & Spencers had his money ready, a five pound note on top of his two-for-a-fiver ready meals. He completely confused the till assistant by asking "Is there tax on top of that?", but I thought of all the times I've been caught unawares in the States, when there was tax on top of that, and I sympathised.


  • I made pizza with today's batch of bread - actually, with about half of it, and the rest has made a round of buns. It rose spectacularly: a combination of hot weather and sloppier than usual dough, presumably. For the first time ever, the final rise before shaping had the dough nudging the dishcloth I'd laid over the top of it. I'll try the rolls for breakfast tomorrow - it doesn't seem right to breakfast on pizza, even if it's disguised as rolls and has no toppings on it. Well, if I don't like it, I'll thing of something else...


  • Last Saturday's Travel supplement told me that Tucson had become a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. I didn't know there was such a thing, and it sounded great. looking it up, it would seem to be part of a Creative Cities network, which seems more nebulous, with overtones of marketing, and why does it have to be all about cities, anyway? Downtown Tucson looked pretty and colourful, though.
shewhomust: (dandelion)
Since we were going to Newcastle on Wednesday for an early-evening poetry event, we took the opportunity to visit the 'The Arts & Crafts House: Then and Now' exhibition at the Laing. I'd heard good things about it, but was underwhelmed: blame some of this on my eyesight, which is currently making it difficult to see detailed books in glass cases, or architectural prints on walls. Also my resistance to shows which bring together classic instances of something and modern examples in the same tradition: I am always liable to respond that the original is better, by a mile. Some examples of modern craft tools and artisan ceramics were attractive enough, but I completely failed to see the point of Rosa Nguyen's contribution. What I learned from this exhibition: there are a number of Arts & Crafts houses in the care of the National Trust which I have not seen, and I should plan a holiday in England to remedy this.

The poetry reading - the launch of Lisa Matthews's The Eternally Packed Suitcase was just across the road at the City Library, and our plan was to fill the time between the Laing closing and the event starting with a cup of tea and the crossword at the library café. This wasn't quite as neat as I'd thought, because the event wasn't, as I had (mis)remembered it, 6 o' clock for 6.30, but 6.30 for 7.00; still, I was less inconvenienced by misjudged timing than the organisers, who had apparently planned a reading to run from 7 until 9 o' clock, not realising that the library closed at 8, and we'd have to be out by then.

So the reading was short, but good. Lisa's poems are deceptive, they look as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouths, no fancy vocabulary, simple narratives (she did this, I saw that) that drop you into something unexpected. She doesn't use elaborate forms, but then you open the book at a prose poem, a little block of text looking across the gutter at a page of short-lines, singly or in pairs or longer stanzas. I can't quote examples, I want to quote whole poems. Here's one I prepared earlier (which is included in the new collection).

We'd assumed that the reading would drift on into the evening, and we'd linger and talk to people, then wander off and find something to eat - and that would be Wednesday evening gone, we'd just have to miss the pub quiz at which we have become regulars. But given the 8 o' clock curfew, we decided that rather than join the general move to the Tyneside Cinema Café, we had time to go home and go to the quiz after all. So we did.

It's not so much that we have a busy social life (though things are beginning to wake up after the midwinter break, there's that, I suppose) ao much as that the things that do happen, happen at the same time. As if to prove a point, while I took a break from writing this to make a pot of tea, [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler took a phone call - as a result of which he has driven off to Tyneside to collect a friend from hospital (they were willing to send her home, but didn't have an ambulance free). He is confident that there will be time to do this and still be in time for our dinner date in Sunderland (with my cousins who are making their annual visit to the Stadium of Light). I'm less confident, but it can't be helped, we'll get there when we get there.
shewhomust: (bibendum)
The Guardian travel supplement last Saturday offers a guide to Sardinia, ostensibly about the beaches, but with alluring descriptions of the nearby villages, because you've got to eat, haven't you? Naturally I want to go there - it's an island; I want to go to all the islands - but not this year.

Because this year I want to go to France. We are almost - but somehow, mysteriously, not quite - at the point of booking the ferry. It's too long since we have been to France. If you don't count a brief foray into the Pyrenees, during our Spanish holiday (and I don't see why I should count it, we spoke to no-one, we didn't even have a cup of coffee while we were there), then it's five years since we were in France, on our way home from the Villa Saraceno. We paused for a couple of days on the way home to do some walking in the vineyards of the Rhône valley - but in Switzerland - which I don't seem to have written anything about. Perhaps I will, one day, or perhaps not, but in any case, not now.

We left Switzerland at Le Locle, which proclaims itself "Cité de la Précision" That is, it's a clock town, industrial and slightly grubby, but with some quirky, interesting buildings, altogether more appealing than the smugness of ski towns like La Chaux de Fonds, which we had just passed through. The road took us through a cleft in the rock, and then forked, following the valley edge, with a statue of a cockerel in the V of the fork. Then left through a rock arch held together by metal bolts, wire mesh and something I can't now decipher -

- and we were in France, land of the elaborate horticultural sculpture on roundabouts:

Chamois


This was in Villers le Lac (Doubs), where we lunched at Le Caméleon. My tarte à l'oignon was a thin, crispy pastry base, covered with cream and scattered with bacon and onions, served very hot - a kind of Alsatian pizza. For dessert I had the 'tourbillon des sapins', a whirlwind of pine trees - expressed by pine bud flavoured ice cream ('bourgeons de sapin') with a shot of sapin liqueur: it was ice cream rather than sorbet, freshly minty and faintly medicinal. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Edited (for once) to remove: a final paragraph which belongs in the next instalment.
shewhomust: (dandelion)
  • I wasn't consciously nervous about getting back on the horse after that total failure of my baking-fu. But somehow the next loaf didn't happen - that is, as the days passed and it kept being not convenient, and the starter aged, I eventually admitted defeat, used a spoonful of starter to seed the next batch and threw the rest away. The loaf after that, however, is a perfectly acceptable raisin and outmeal loaf: a little fragile, perhaps, but that's what you get if a loaf with a high oatmeal content rises nicely. I might try baking for (slightly) longer in a (slightly) lower oven, or I might not. Anyway, as [livejournal.com profile] weegoddess would say, I have toast - and that's the main thing.

  • Talking of [livejournal.com profile] weegoddess, she sent me this penguin mirror: it's a strange sort of mirror, and of course penguins aren't puffins, but we can't all be puffins. The fan is good, too.

  • I'm not looking for holiday ideas, thank you; and I'm particularly not looking for ideas for walking holidays, not until we've returned to walking more than we have been lately (one regret about our recent tour of the Hebrides is that I'd have liked less driving, more walking); I'd like to see more of Spain, though I was thinking of the north, not the south: despite all of which this looks fun.

  • The Co-op Membership Services e-mail me to say: "Every day is a picnic - You don't have to plan for a picnic when there's a Co-op nearby, so visit your Stornoway store for picnic inspiration, whatever the weather." And we did, it's true, visit the Stornoway store to buy provisions for a picnic, to be eaten in our B&B on a rainy evening. But "nearby"? Not really...

  • Other people's holiday shopping is more glamorous. J. invited us to dinner on Sunday, on the pretext that she wanted to empty and defrost the freezer. Dessert, however, was a tasting of Valrhona chocolate which she had bought, after much sampling, at the manufacturer's shop in Tain l'Hermitage: four bars of dark chocolate from different parts of the world, to be tasted in a specified order. I didn't take notes, and the website isn't helping, so all I can say is that they were all good, but that we disagreed with the recommended order, and thought #4 was an anticlimax after #3. All four were 62/64% cocoa solids, which supports my theory about the prevalent fetish for 85% (in brief, that it's a mistake. Or rather, that it's fine for cooking with, when you might as well start as high-cocoa as you can, since you're going to dilute it with other things; but if it's for eating, higher fat gives a better mouth-feel).
shewhomust: (mamoulian)
- much impact on the accummulated pile of newspapers (just as one wheelie bin per fortnight makes very little impact on the jungle that is my garden). Nonetheless:

  1. Other holiday cottages are also available. I don't suppose I'll ever rent one of these fabulous modernist houses on Cape Cod - unless I could persuade all my New England friends to come and share it with me! Nor do know why The Guardian feels the need to dress the article up with a come-on headline about Mad Men...


  2. Italy seems to be flavour of the month at The Guardian, and I can see why. How about Puglia, down in the heel of Italy's boot, where you can stay in one of the stone beehive 'trulli'? Or Ravenna, and up the coast to Venice, and then maybe beyond to Trieste? Well, maybe one day...


  3. Then there's London: Iain Sinclair walks the Ginger Line so we don't have to. At book length I find Sinclair unreadable, but half a page seems the right length for his blend of bile and lyricism: "The arches beneath the elevated tracks, oil pits dealing in MOT certificates, mysterious lock-ups and rehearsal spaces for bands without names, were being rapidly upgraded to fish farms offering meditational aids to keep money-market buccaneers on an even keel, Japanese restaurants and artisan bakeries operated by downsizing hedge-fund managers. The word 'artisan' signalled the change in demographic."


  4. Who is Henry Jeffries, and how has he persuaded The Guardian to give him a weekly column which is effectively an advertisement for his (forthcoming, self-published - via Unbound) book? It is, admittedly, tucked away in the increasingly pointless cookery supplement, but it appears under the title of the book, and is invariably followed by a plug for the book. To add insult to injury, it is often informative and always entertaining, even though is is usually about drinks in which I have no real interest. Here, for example, is what it has to say about vodka: he recommends Vestal Vodka from Poland, saying "Most of their vodkas are not only vintage (made from a single potato harvest), but also from a single variety of spud." Varietal vodkas - who knew?


  5. Today's news is full of the outcome of the Greek referendum. The problem seems to be that Greece may have taken the first step to leaving the euro while remaining in Europe, and this is a bad thing. The UK, of course, declines to enter the euro, while remaining in Europe, and this is a good thing. No doubt it's entirely different.
shewhomust: (mamoulian)
  • The Guardian for Friday 27th October 1995 offers a compendium of 'The Darling Words of Mae' - quotations from Mae West. Several of the best - certainly the best known - come from I'm No Angel (1933):
    • Beulah, peel me a grape.

    • When I'm good I'm very, very good, but when I'm bad, I'm bet­ter.

    • She's the kind of girl who climbed the ladder of success, wrong by wrong.

    Then there's:

    Give a man a free hand and he'll try and put it all over you.
    Klondike Annie, 1936

    I've been in Who's Who, and I know what's what, but it'll be the first time I ever made the dictionary.
    Letter to the RAF, early 1940s, on having an inflatable life jacket named after her

    "Goodness, what beau­tiful diamonds!"
    "Good­ness had nothing to do with it, dearie."
    Night After Night, 1932

    Why don't you come up sometime and see me? I'm home every evening.
    She Done Him Wrong, 1933 (yes, this is apparently the original text)

    Connie Mines: Oh Miss West, I've heard so much about you.
    MW: Yeah honey, but you cant prove a thing.
    From the television pro­gramme, Mr. Ed, 1960 - wait, Mae West was on Mr. Ed? Oh.Kay.


  • At the other extreme, I've been reading today's edition, too. There's a project just waiting for someone with too much time on their hands, to log the writers who appear - who are quoted, profiled, reviewed or reviewers - in the Review, the Saturday books section, because it is obvious on even a desultory reading that certain people form an in-group, who get far more attention than others. Neil Gaiman seems to have joined their number. I don't dispute that Neil Gaiman is a Good Thing, but he appears three times in the first two articles: on page 5 he annotates a copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane to raise funds for PEN, on page 6 he appears twice in the diary, suppporting the campaign to Let Books Be Books and as an author whose readers are profiled by YouGov's Profiles service. Reaching the centre spread, and a profile of Ursula Le Guin, I reflected that she, too, has entered the enchanted circle, but without the overload - but, wait! here she is receiving the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from - yes! - Neil Gaiman.


  • Also in today's Guardian, it seems that Newcastle-upon-Tyne is the UK's best city: with a photo of the Lit & Phil to prove it. An associated article lists Newcastle's top 10 craft beer pubs - I'm not sure what the criteria are for inclusion, but they managed to exclude the Bodega. Note for the bewildered: number 1 on the list, Pleased To Meet You in High Bridge, is (i.e. was) the Turks.


  • Last week's travel section had some suggestions for UK seaside holidays in winter. I may be missing the point here, because it seems obvious to me that the seaside is somewhere you can also enjoy in winter. One of their suggestions is Tynemouth - and very nice too. They recommend some places to stay in Oban and Portmeirion, either of which I'd be happy to visit. Curiously, their explanation why you might want to go to Portmeirion is "You can pretend you’re on a Mediterranean holiday..." Some of us might want to pretend we're being pursued along the beach by giant white balls, but the young things who write my newspaper don't mention that...


  • Last week's paper also offers a bonus piece of travel writing disguised as a gardening column: Alys Fowler heads to Kazakhstan in search of the origins of the apple. She makes it sound ravishing, but then she doesn't mention the government, with its appalling record on human rights. I liked this, though: "Birds are thought to have carried the seeds of an early apple from China to Kazakhstan, where the Tien Shan brown bear fell in love with them. Bears like big, juicy apples and will hack their way through a tree to get the best fruit, pruning the trees as they go. They poop out the seeds in a perfect germination package. Thus, big, juicy apples do better. Bears don’t roam a great deal, but horses do, and Kazakhstan was one of the first places where they were domesticated. Horses love apples, and distribute the bear-selected apples far and wide." Let me tell you about the birds and the bears (and the apples)...
shewhomust: (mamoulian)
  • Premysl Fojtu Photography posts photos from Orkney on FaceBook.


  • 'Enterprise Magazine': the car hire company encourages you to drive to places worth seeing with View Finders: here's somewhere to visit in San Francisco.


  • The Guardian had a supplement about Georgia: one of those paid-for sections which try to look like editorial, but are really advertising. I regard them with deep suspicion, and throw them away unread. This one had an ad on the back page for the Georgian national tourist office. We spent a few days in Georgia thirty years ago, and I have good memories of it, but so much has happened since then, it hadn't occurred to me it was somewhere you could still visit. Perhaps it isn't, I wouldn't take the word of an advertorial supplement for it. Still, pretty pictures. And more on Pinterest.


  • What we dug up on our summer holiday: a gold hair ornament from the copper age (I hadn't met the term 'copper age' before)


  • Megapenguin fossils!
shewhomust: (mamoulian)
It's a sunny Saturday evening and I feel a little lazy, a little unfocussed - maybe I could tidy up the old travel supplements that are littering my desk: nothing as demanding as making travel plans, but dream a little of places we might go, sometime... And idleness has been rewarded, because underneath the newspapers I found a book I've been meaning to return to A. next time we see her - and we will see her on Monday, and I would have forgotten it was there. Does that in itself make the process worthwhile? No, on with the links:

The Centre de l'Art et du Paysage is on an island in a lake in the plateau de Millevaches, in the Corrèze (a thousand springs, etymologically, it seems, and not a thousand cows): you reach it by crossing a footbridge. Its website is uninviting, but if you read the Guardian article first, you have some idea what you are looking for, and the Bois des Sculptures soundslike my sort of place (there's an Andy Goldsworthy, which is always a good start).

I can't really see us taking a holiday to savour slow food in rural Turkey: but it does sound good...

Why do I have a copy of the books section here? And why do I not have last week's article about wine tourism in Sicily? (Never mind, I found it!)

This isn't much to show for several months worth of weekly supplements. Most of what they publish just isn't for me: skiing holidays, cycling holidays, how to amuse your children, city breaks... And sometimes I may be a bit dismissive of this material. "Hah!" I might say. "Who on earth plans a trip around recommendations for an outdoor cinema?" Let this be a lesson to me not to be so hasty - because the Cromarty Film Festival sounds rather wonderful: outdoor screenings in Scotland in December night be a challenge, but "Join the audience near the shoreline for mulled wine and watch the opening film as it is projected on to the lighthouse..." (mulled wine? the Festival's own website talks of Glen Ord...)

And one that's not from the Guardian: Britain's most northerly accommodation property (it's on Unst).
shewhomust: (dandelion)
A foodie tour of the Alentejo - where to stay, where to eat, which wineries to visit...

Rent a 'saltbox' house in Newfoundland - or just enjoy the pretty slideshow

Anarchy & Beauty: William Morris And His Legacy, 1860-1960, at the National Portrait Gallery (16 October to 11 January): though the NPG, for reasons of its own, seems to have given the story to the Guardian before adding it to its own website. Who knew that Edward Carpenter's sandals were kept in the Sheffield archives? Or that Eric Gill had carved an erotic Adam and Eve garden roller?

This last is of course the anomaly: the exhibition will still be running when I next visit London (at Christmas, if not before), and I'm reasonably likely to go and see it - unless I forget!
shewhomust: (bibendum)
The high point of the meal was a dark, mysterious-looking truffle. It was all I've ever dreamed of in a dish. It was a bit like chocolate, but with an acidic quality. It looked like a dessert and was sweet, but also savoury. It had the texture of damp coal dust, and legs like a glass of vintage wine. My face told them I had no idea what I was eating. It was a morcilla, they said, made with sturgeon's blood. A black pudding.

Chris Moss dines out in Malaga, Guardian 24.05.2014


I would be more surprised by this had the not been a high point of our pre-Christmas Argentine dinner with [livejournal.com profile] helenraven - I described it at the time as "like clouds of savoury soot".

Still, sturgeon's-blood black pudding - who knew?
shewhomust: (bibendum)
I enjoyed the first series of The Trip: Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon drive around the Lake District, being entertaining, admiring the scenery and eating at good restaurants, what's not to like? Well, plenty, of course. As Steve Coogan says in this interview: "I get a bit fed up when I hear actors saying, 'Get a load of me, being myself and laughing at myself. Aren't I cool and post-modern in my self-deprecation?'" Not to mention that said actors are not only in receipt of a very desirable freebie but being paid for it. Nonetheless, it worked - the series was funny and entertaining and the right degree of melancholy - and the scenery was terrific.

We are currently watching the new series The Trip to Italy. Again, I was uncertain - could they do it again, would I find Italy less appealing than the Lakes, or more enviable as a freebie? Again, it works. The pair have mellowed, but this doesn't destroy the humour (since I find the humour of discomfort distinctly uncomfortable, this may just be my opinion - but that's all I have) and once again, the scenery is stunning.

As it happens, the Guardian travel section had just devoted an issue to Italy, and I had already bookmarked an article on the Cinque Terre - somewhere that has long been on our list of places to visit without quite reaching the top of that list. The paths that had been destroyed by storms have now been reopened, it seems: I wonder whether my knees are up to the challenge of those hills? Two more articles offer Giorgio Locatelli's recommendations in Sicily and a piece about the wetlands of the Veneto (not, I think, the area we didn't really succeed in visiting, but north towards Trieste).

I seem to have hung on to an earlier article about Rene Redzepi's Copenhagen, too.

And since I'm gathering the travel recommendations here, [livejournal.com profile] lil_shepherd has been to Glasgow and has some great photos of the Riverside Museum - have I posted about that before? I remember reading about it in the Guardian. Over on FB [livejournal.com profile] mevennen recommended somewhere to stay in Glasgow - so it all comes together.

This is all in the misty distances of the future: but we are off to Fife next week.
shewhomust: (mamoulian)
The process of Moving Stuff About continues. The resultant changes are probably invisible to any eye but my own, but I do have a sense of stuff moving, heaps being dispersed, things finding their place. It won't last, so let me enjoy it - and record it - while I can.

I have a new monitor. I have for some time been saying to [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler that we need to be able to check what our websites look like on a variety of screen widths and devices, and that given modern standards one of us, at least, ought to have a monitor that is wider than the 1024px we were both using (I remember how big that seemed when I finally relinquished my 800px screen). He finally found time to set up [livejournal.com profile] desperance's widescreen for me, and I am trying to get used to it. The good news is that I haven't (yet) had any really unpleasant surprises from any of my sites - though I am tweaking margins as I go! The bad news is that some of the software I use results, at this definition, in very small print (I'm using some very old software). As I suspected, my old screen rendered things very dark, even when adjusted to maximum brightness, and the brightness of the new screen is even more disconcerting than its width; I could turn it down, but the risk is then that I underestimate the brightness of my designs and images, so I'd prefer to learn to live with it.

The old monitor sat on a pedestal (alright, then, a box file) on the desk: the new one sits on the desk itself. And did I mention how very wide it is? So there has been some shuffling of things around the desk. Some of them - little jars of paperclips, seashells, a box of postcards, some notebooks - will need new homes, but I have filed and discarded a quantity of paper. Why had I written the name 'Amanda Popham' on a paper bag? The internet tells me that she is a ceramicist: there's a selection of her work here and another piece here. I'm not sure whether I like it or not; I think I'd like to see the real thing, not photographs, and I think this means that I haven't actually seen it. But in that case, where did I get her name from?

No mystery about why I printed off a copy of John Stump's Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz (from 'A Tribute to Zdenko G. Fibich'), an 'unplayable score' with instructions like "Slovenly", "Tune the Uke" and "remove cattle from stage". Even though the paper copy is coffee stained, and I have tracked it down online, I am reluctant to discard it.

Naturally, the paper is fighting back. Last Saturday's travel supplement has made its way onto my desk, open at the page about wine tourism in the Corbières. Not for this year, but next year I want to go to France, and to the wine-producing south-west in particular. I'd been thinking Minervois, Madiran, even Irouléguy, but a few addresses in Corbières might come in handy...
shewhomust: (mamoulian)
From the Guardian travel section, cutting edge Nordic cuisine in the Faroe islands: I'm more attracted by the scenery than the food, which is not like me, but I liked this quotation from John Gynther from the experimental cheese division ("really", says the writer) of a Danish dairy products company: "The humidity here is perfect for maturing cheeses, but nobody has tried it before... If it's successful, I hope some of the best restaurants in the world will give it to their guests. It'll be the true taste of the north Atlantic, expressed in a cheese."

The true taste of the north Atlantic, expressed in a cheese: isn't that what we've all been waiting for?

Via [livejournal.com profile] sovay, photographs from Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 - 1917 Ross Sea Party, which spent time living in Scott’s hut after being stranded on Ross Island when their ship blew out to sea. Conservators found and processed the exposed cellulose nitrate negatives. The Antarctic Heritage Trust website is a bit shaky, but worth persevering with.
shewhomust: (mamoulian)
It's been a while since I posted anything from the Guardian's Travel section; and this isn't because the papers have been piling up next to my desk, waiting to be dealt with. Oh, I admit, there may well be old travel supplements in the various piles of stuff which undeniably do accrete atound my desk, but recent weeks have been filled with tips about skiing and Christmas markets and other all-too-resistable offers.

This description of the Abruzzo in autumn, and the local produce to be enjoyed there, seemed worth saving. The author's blog is Rachel Eats (and the current post, about mincemeat includes a recipe for apple and quince mincemeat).

The same supplement, in list of ten new places to stay for a winter break in the Highlands (ours not to reason why) reveals that the John O’Groats Hotel really has been renovated. It was looking pretty dilapidated last time I saw it, and although there was talk of renovation, well, there's always talk. I would not, myself, have described John O’Groats as being in the Highlands, but I see that the Guardian is following the hotel's own website, which says it is in the North Highlands (then again, it says it has a view of "the Orkneys", so...
shewhomust: (mamoulian)
It's the pre-digital equivalent of closing some tabs, disposing of old newspapers I've put aside as containing something of interest. It isn't always obvious what:

Romania, fair enough. But did I really think an article about cycling in the Carpathians would be useful? Apparently I did.

I don't expect ever to visit the salt flats of Bolivia - but isn't this an amazing photograph?

Though I obviously hung on to that issue for this article about wine tourism in Savoie.

(Over the page, their intrepid explorer Kevin Rushby goes looking for wildflowers in Weardale - and very nice, too).

Wales has a Coast Path, it seems; well, I should think so. It has a bilingual website, of course. We never go to Wales, I don't know why. We should...

Why did I save that one? No idea. Next!

Ah, here's Kevin Rushby again, in Yorkshire this time, where Simon Armitage has been carving his poems onto rock faces. Should this sort of high-class cultural graffiti be encouraged in wild places? Don't know. I have a soft spot for graffiti - and a scepticism about the kind of public art that carves poetry on things. Maybe I'd need to visit to find out what I think.

Blue Cabin by the Sea, somewhere totally impractical to stay on the Berwickshire coast - lovely pictures, shame about the website (wouldn't take much to make it function as it's obviously meant to). Or for somewhere totally impractical in the opposite way, how about the house Pugin built for himself in Ramsgate: "The house has a private chapel and a tower, from whose roof Pugin trained his telescope on ships in distress," and which now offers a view of more modern shipping from the freight ferry terminal.

Walking the Rhine gorge

Cycling along the Canal du Midi doesn't sound much fun: the cycling is painful, and the level, tree-lined canal becomes monotonous eventually. But I'd like to see more of the Canal by other means, and the article does suggest some hotels.

The Guardian seems obsessed with bikes: this time it's wine-tasting in Croatia - Istria, to be precise - which sounds good, except for the bit about the bikes. And a couple of days later, more about Croatia, in the news section this time, as they enter the EU.

And that's the last of that pile - but there'll be another supplement in tomorrow's paper (perhaps it won't be very interesting...).

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