Category Archives: Travel articles

Back in Berlin after 27 years – an emotional jump forward in time

Berlin is the kind of city where even a seemingly mundane walk to the local supermarket can turn out to be an emotional experience.

It had been 27 years since I was last in Berlin and was here to attend the travel industry trade show ITB. I was staying in an apartment in the ultra-trendy Berlin suburb of Kreuzberg (trendy in a studenty, grungy sort of way, rather than chic or glamorous) and had popped to the Lidl for a pint of milk.

Ambling along a fairly grey and ordinary street, I suddenly noticed a tiny street sign reading ‘Berliner Mauerweg‘ (Berlin Wall Trail). Continue reading Back in Berlin after 27 years – an emotional jump forward in time

Housetrip Berlin Kreuzberg – a home away from home

It’s amazing how quickly you can feel like  a ‘local’ while staying somewhere completely new to you.

For me it was when I came back from a trip to the supermarket with some eggs and milk and let myself in at my own front door with my own key.

It was only an hour since my plane had landed in Germany but I was already – in my own mind at least – a regular part of the neighbourhood.

housetrip berlin kreuzberg

Even if that neighbourhood was in Berlin, a place I haven’t visited for 27 years. (It has changed quite a bit since then – see next post.) Continue reading Housetrip Berlin Kreuzberg – a home away from home

Cannizaro House Wimbledon: a country retreat in the city

Cannizaro House Wimbledon
Cannizaro House in Wimbledon. Sadly that isn’t my car.

There is something rather delightful about packing to spend the weekend in a hotel just four miles from your home.

It yields all the excitement and anticipation of a trip away without any of the angst and despair caused by realising you have to drive across London in the rush hour and then get snarled up on the Hammersmith flyover.

And the journey home! Many a relaxing weekend away has been ruined by roadworks on the M1, a lane closure on the A3, the sheer awfulness of driving through Wandsworth on a Sunday evening.

So to do away with all that unnecessary travelling seems to me to be utterly sensible.

Some would not agree. I recently had lunch with a tour operator who maintained that half the fun of a holiday is the fact you have to travel to get there, thus giving you a sense of achievement and new territories gained when you arrived at your destination.

To which I merely said ‘the journey home’ and ‘the South Circular’ and he paled and said I might have a point. Continue reading Cannizaro House Wimbledon: a country retreat in the city

Hop pockets, scotch eggs and Shoreditch blonde: beer-tasting just for girls

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The line-up for the evening. And yes, there was food too…

It isn’t often that you see a man wearing a hessian sack telling a room of beer-drinking women they would make better brewers than men.

But Monday’s ‘Give Boys the Chop – beer dinner for girls only’ event organised by Rupert Ponsonby and his gang at R and R Teamwork at the Paternoster Chop House was a night of firsts.

It turned out the sack that Rupert was wearing was in fact his grandfather’s hop pocket, which was used to store dried hops which give beer its flavour.

He was sporting the hop pocket as a skirt while welcoming the group of female food journalists and bloggers to the event which was set up to show off some rather fine but not necessarily well-known ales, paired with food from head chef David Philpot. Continue reading Hop pockets, scotch eggs and Shoreditch blonde: beer-tasting just for girls

So it turns out I like drinking – just for its own sake. Who’d have imagined that?

SBwine

Well – I did it.  An entire January’s-worth of alcoholic abstinence.

And yes, it was a VERY long month.

But the surprising discovery for me is not only that I have far greater reserves of willpower than anyone, including myself, suspected, but that I actually like drinking – just because I like the taste.

I like the taste of it and the smell of it and I love the excitement and pleasure I feel when I find myself drinking a particularly lovely pint of ale or a fabulously tasty glass of wine.

But I don’t drink for confidence, which I suspected I might, and which I know is a reason for people I know to head straight to the bar or have a few ‘sharpeners’ beforehand. I had absolutely no problem walking into intimidating rooms full of complete strangers and introducing myself and doing all the mingling and chatting that you normally do armed with a fortifying glass of something. Continue reading So it turns out I like drinking – just for its own sake. Who’d have imagined that?