Pigging out at the Pig in the Wall

I really do hate to squeal, but I just can’t keep a secret like this to myself. I went to the Isle of Wight Festival last weekend, and I did it the grown-up way (by ‘glamping’ — more to come on that soon). I was determined for the whole trip to be the relaxed break I really needed, and so before I took to the high seas, a civilised lunch was in order. I’m a northerner through and through, but Hampshire is by far my favourite southern county and I spent several happy summers in the New Forest when I…

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Is Szimpla Kert the best bar in Budapest? Europe? The world, even?

  I’m sad tonight. I’m sad because tonight is one of the few nights this week I’m not propping up the bar in Szimpla Kert, the most famous of Budapest’s ruin pubs. These grungy, mostly outdoor bars have sprung up all over the city’s Jewish district in buildings that have fallen into disrepair. Szimpla Kert was the first and is still the most famous of them, but is it also the best? Obviously, I don’t live in Budapest, so it’s a question I’m not really in a position to answer – but I could have tried at least. I’m a…

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A grand London day out

A few weeks ago on a Sunday evening I was feeling brave and in the mood to take a few risks, so I posted the following message on this page: “Londoners, I’m handing my day off over to you! In a bid to try and get to know the city’s nooks and crannies and places I might not otherwise have visited, I’m crowdsourcing an itinerary for the whole day. Send me to all your favourite places or any interesting spots you might know of. I’ll tweet as I go — probably looking for extra suggestions along the way — as…

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Dalmatian sensation: Dubrovnik in a long weekend

August arrived, and with it the realisation I hadn’t had a proper holiday all year. When I was offered the opportunity to pick a short-haul city-break destination, I knew exactly where I wanted to go. I needed clear sunny skies, and even clearer water in which to dip my toes, but more than anything I needed to go somewhere with history and culture and soul. As I’d been working non-stop all year, breaking only to run the Berlin half marathon in April, I wanted to feel soothed, enchanted and restored, with a few thrills thrown in for good measure. That’s…

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How to eat in Belgium: Brussels edition

Brussels is a foodie’s dream. One of the reasons I loved living there so much was all the eating out I got to do. When I think of the city now, I still spontaneously start to salivate. Take a look at my top picks of places to go and munch. If you go one place for… frites Chips in Belgium are usually thrice cooked in beef fat which makes them taste simply wonderful, but it’s not great if you’re veggie. In fact, it’s not a terribly easy country to be a vegetarian in at all. But while I love you…

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