Brecon Beacons: A wild Wales weekend

There was a time when all I knew of Wales was its northernmost reaches. Abersoch, Anglesey and pretty Portmeirion were the places I spent my early childhood; but there is more to Wales than that, and more of Wales than that in me. About a quarter of me comes from the Valleys, the industrialised area of South Wales where my Nana grew up — before she fled to medical school in Cardiff, and then to England. But there is more to Wales even than these places. Plenty more. One of the places I have longed to go is the Brecon Beacons.…

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My enduring love affair with a city called Siena

If I were to write what I know, as they say they should, I would tell you that it is February and London is not at its best. It is a few months yet until the people pour out into the streets at 6pm or thereabouts, and upon seeing the sun still lingering in the sky, feel that the day is still full of possibilities. Instead then — especially what with it being Valentine’s week and all — I shall write what I love. I shall tell you how at the age of 18 I found myself falling for a…

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Remembering to love London

When the Stranger says: “What is the meaning of this city? Do you huddle close together because you love each other?” What will you answer? “We all dwell together To make money from each other”? or “This is a community”? T. S. ELIOT, The Rock It’s all too easy when you’re living in London to discover that you’ve been scurrying back and forth along your personal ant trail for a while without ever diverting your journey or even just stopping to look up. Perhaps you’ve been working too many hours, perhaps you feel like you’ve constantly been caught up in…

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Budapest Bread Festival: Carb-loading on Hungarian street food

I’m trying this thing at the moment where I basically eat a paleo caveman diet about 80 percent of the time, and it’s going surprisingly okay, but when I’m on holiday I like to eat. I’ve enjoyed two excellent carb and cheese-loading trips this year, which I’m feeling very nostalgic for right now. The first was to Budapest. I had an idea that it would be indulgent holiday full of heavy, hearty food – Hungary isn’t known for its delicate soups and salads after all — but then we stumbled on the bread festival and embraced the gluten on a…

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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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