curiosity about the ways of the world

Category: Global Gossip (Page 2 of 4)

Welcome back to Edinburgh: you’ll have had your tram?

onkel tomBerlin town planning with a purpose

Some homecoming.  For a week we explored the most exciting city in Europe. We rode trains, trams and buses to the centre and one sunny day we took the train in the other direction to discover the public housing estate that was inspired by Britain’s first garden cities. We marvelled at the plain good sense of building a housing estate on a train line. What a pity Edinburgh lacks that kind of civic imagination. Or generosity even. You’ll have had your tram Leith? Continue reading

Island dreams and reality

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On summer holidays we dreamed of living on the island.  We picked drift wood on the beach to fire the old Rayburn for the evening meal.  When wind battered the cottage at night we poured whisky and listened to the radio crackling news from the mainland. It was all part of the dream (not the dram as I typed by mistake just now) that lingered even when we went home. Continue reading

Welcome to Britain?

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An environmental message in the Eurostar waiting room at Brussels

We’re waiting for the eco-friendly Eurostar to take us home and I am looking forward to the ride.  It’s a nice cheery scene. The multicultural mix of folk ready to board the train has managed to get past the daft, defensive  UK Border.  Unfortunately the border guards have  let through a home-grown threat.  Even worse he is in our carriage.   Continue reading

A poem for President Castro

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A tourist view of Havana from the roof of the Saratoga hotel

Nice coincidence. I am posting my letter to Raul Castro the day the Royal Ballet begins dancing in Havana.   UK media applauds  ‘a new cultural exchange’ with Cuba while I finally get round to supporting the PEN campaign for a different  cultural exchange. Continue reading

The real mojito

Last night we finished our bottle of Havana Club with two lingering cocktails. It seemed only sensible to do it while I still remember how to make them they way they did in Cuba. Pay no attention to the recipe quoted in the Guardian last week. Here is how you make a real mojito. Continue reading

On the road to Havana

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As directed by the woman at the garage, we turn left just past the picture of Che and head for Cienfuegos, pausing only to pick up two hikers on the road from Trinidad.  They can’t speak English and our Spanish is pathetic so we settle into comfortable silence as bruising miles bump by, happy in the thought that our passengers will keep us on the right road. And they don’t seem interested in our dwindling supply of pesos. Continue reading

Hola Cuba

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It was such a grey, misty morning I slept in (at 9 am it was no lighter than it was at 6 am) and now I am way behind all the things I must do before I start packing.  After years of talking about it we are finally going to Cuba where I don’t think it will be at all grey and cold but that’s about all I really know. Continue reading

Window shopping in Amsterdam

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Dressed for Christmas: not all goods are as well wrapped as the amaryllis.

There’s a lot of life on show in Amsterdam shop windows. Claire summed it up with a phrase I wish I had thought of. On her first night she went for a stroll and returned wide eyed at goods on offer in local shops. “Just popped out for a satsuma and a sex toy.” Continue reading

Treading softly from Scotland to France

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Sun in the south of France: getting here was almost as much fun.

It was raining when we reached Paris but I didn’t mind. After Scotland’s cold apology for summer it was warm, welcoming rain and within minutes of getting off our Eurostar we were clinking glasses of wine in Terminus Nord. If we had come by plane we would still be trying to get out of the airport; instead we are sitting down to a three course meal before catching the next train. So comfortable it is tempting to stay but we are only half way on a 1200 mile journey towards the Spanish border and the best could be yet to come. Continue reading

Our man in Brussels braves riots and water canon

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There’s irony for you. A text from Ray this morning, he’s due to chair a seminar in Brussels on sustainable industry but the whole area is sealed by riot police with water canon against French, Italian and Spanish fishermen demanding cheap fuel. “Our audience may not get through the barriers.” While Ray retreats to the green peace of Brussels Botanic Gardens I text him a request for pictures of the riots and they arrive on my screen within minutes. Continue reading

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