Monthly Archives: June 2012

OUT OF OFFICE REPLY – Hiking in Alps. Back soon.

This is as far as I got last time I went hiking in Austria. This week we’ll be going further, into those mountains behind me. They look cold.

I’ll be taking a week off blogging, while I join my Dutch hiking friends on an expedition into the Austrian Alps, above and beyond Innsbruck.

It sounds exciting, it looks beautiful and I can’t see any wifi points out there.

The weather forecast is for rain every day. A good story starts with something going wrong, I tell my writing students, though the stories I like usually have happy endings.

Back soon, probably with a tale or two to tell.


Filed under Austria, Hiking

TASSENMUSEUM – Amsterdam’s Museum of Bags and Purses

Not the sort of thing I normally carry on the street.

I can’t believe I’m writing about handbags. Anybody who knows me knows I’m not exactly a fashionista.

My day often begins with Mevrouw T telling me that I’m wearing the wrong coloured socks, me telling her the socks are very comfortable and that my trousers will cover them anyway, her suggesting that while I have my shoes off I may as well change the disgusting trousers too, and me bowing to her superior judgement in all matters of dress.

So you can imagine I’m not the ideal person to be reviewing a museum dedicated entirely to fashion accessories.

I do however like art, design and social history, and this remarkable small museum in a lovely Amsterdam canal house has all of these in spades. Continue reading


Filed under Art, Holland

AMSTERDAM – back home on the Schinkel

If you’re lucky enough to have wifi access from the cafe across the road, you can work in the outdoor office.

It’s nice to be ‘home’ in Amsterdam, at least for a little while. Followers of this blog may have noticed that Mevrouw T and I have been getting out and about rather a lot recently.

‘When are you going to spend some time in Amsterdam?’ Dutch friends and neighbours are asking. ‘Aren’t we interesting enough for you?’

We came back this week and Mevrouw T found an article in a Dutch newspaper featuring the history and present-day delights of our part of town, the Schinkelbuurt. The writer made it sound very interesting indeed, so I took the camera out for a walk, then googled the Schinkel to see what we’d been missing.


Filed under Holland

MUSEE DU QUAI BRANLY – culture or ‘merely’ theatre?

A window on the world or just empty spectacle?

Through an accident of internet-apartment booking, we found ourselves living opposite one of Paris’s newest, biggest and more controversial museums.

We loved it, though a little internet research showed me that not everyone shares our enthusiasm for the Musee du quai Branly. Continue reading


Filed under Art, France, Paris

WALDORF ASTORIA – five stars in sensible shoes

Please wipe your feet before entering.

Do other people worry that they will feel awkward and inadequate in high class hotels? Or is it just me?

Mevrouw T and I generally travel on a tight budget, so we rarely see how the 1% live when on the road.  Is it a treat or an ordeal to join them for a day or two?

Here’s my report on our recent five star Chicago experience… Continue reading


Filed under USA

FREEWHEELING PARIS No.2 – Vive le Velib!

Lycra is not required for cycling the Tour de Paris. Neither is a helmet!!!!

No street scene in Paris is complete without them now. The chunky brown bikes, shopping baskets on the front, are everywhere. It’s a reminder of the days when archetypal Frenchmen wore berets, carried strings of onions and rode bicycles.

We’d never worked out how to use them, but when we saw that everybody else was getting round on Velibs, we had to try them too. It was pas difficile, monsieur! Continue reading


Filed under Cycling, France