Unseasonal Blackberries Save the Day

On a long walk miles from our home in Brittany, my wife Rohan saw some ripe blackberries. It was in the last week of July so they had no right to have ripened, indeed the berries around our house were still as they should be - small and green with their drupelets (their surface ‘bobbles’) tightly packed. But of…

A Baker and a Magician

 There is something magical about bakers and bread-making. How is it possible that a bland mixture of flour and water can be turned overnight into the delicious, still-warm loaf I get each day? After years of dreaming, I finally asked our own baker if I could watch him as he worked in the early hours.…

What’s in a Word?

Within no time I had accepted Armelle’s invitation. There are few sports I don’t enjoy watching and the chance to be a spectator at a tournament of sarbacane - in English ‘blowpiping’ - was irresistible; it was, for me, a first.  The tournament, which would last most of the day was the third part of a three-round…

Through the Brain Barrier

            During a week in June, my approach to birds changed radically. For years my interest in birdlife had been limited to garden visitors such as robins, wrens, chaffinches and blue tits. Rarely had I bothered about those further afield. Indeed, during walks in the countryside it is ‘disinterest’ that…

This Land is Her Land

Dina could not be more of a Londoner. She was born and educated in the capital and now, as a thirty-two year old, it is where she lives and works. Added to this, most of her close family - mother, sisters, aunts and uncle - live only a short bus-ride away. Despite all this, she feels like a stranger.…

An Experiment with Music and Cheese

                  This story started with a note in which John invited me to hum to his cheeses. The invitation, which was delivered as a commentary to a recent blog - “London’s Singing Lift” (28 April 2019) - read: “An experiment has recently taken place in Switzerland where certain types of music played to cheeses…

My Father’s Image Reviewed and Revised

Changing ones mind can be difficult. In this instance it took more than thirty years to even review my position. A change quickly followed and the relief was immense. Over a few weeks I overturned an opinion that I had held about the qualities of my father as a parent which I had been propagating for years and which was both inaccurate…

London’s Singing Lift

There is an unwritten code of conduct for those riding in a lift. First: say nothing, and if you have to speak, keep your voice hushed. Second: avoid eye contact with fellow travellers; stare ahead or look down at the floor. With such solemnity, being in a lift is a dour affair. Well, usually! There is…

Brian – Ill, Resolute and Unbowed

Brian and I have lunch together each week when we can. We first met during French classes around ten years ago; he was my teacher. Our meals started soon after. Brian was sixty five, I was two years older and we clicked. Initially, conversation was limited - while his French was fluent, mine was still…