Looking for a life – the fruits of our labour (Lagos, Nigeria)

December 6, 2016

Mosque minarets pierce soggy Lagos skies and I ask my driver to stop, the road potholed with waterlogged lakes and lined both sides with traders’ stalls. Just here are piles of tomatoes on tottering stacks of pavers. Ribs sizzle next door, sweet basil wafting from the meaty pile frying over open flames. Rasheed’s seat is […]

The good, the bad, and Barcelona – Gaudi on Sunday (Catalonia, Spain)

June 15, 2015

In the crowded hotel lobby, my daypack zipper sounds conspicuously loud. I poke a hand inside: a woollen vest, an apple and a light rain jacket – nothing more. I rummage about. Still nothing. Everyone looks when I tip the contents out. A euro coin rolls across the tiled floor, hits the dark timber architrave […]

Snow Monkeys – and absent friends (Yudanaka, Japan)

May 14, 2015

The Tokyo bar is a circle, Teppanyaki hotel chefs in tall hats and shirtsleeves in the centre; their shiny cleavers deftly dealing with slabs of beef, cabbage, prawns and abalone.The air smells of garlic and warm vegetable oil. I sip a Sapporo, the man across the way more intent on his mobile; beside him a […]

The Flower Girl and The Lizard King – Père Lachaise (Paris, France)

February 8, 2015

There’s a raspy laugh, parted purple lips, a toothy gap and shining silver orb perched on a pierced tongue. “French? Me?” Mascared eyes shine from an impossibly pallid face. “Like…God no.” There’s a slight lisp, the word ‘God’ stretched for effect, the intonation classic Celtic.  Layla is barely 120cm tall in patent platform boots shining […]

A Darkside Downunder – MONA magic (Hobart, Australia)

February 1, 2015

I’m in Tasmania drinking with Dave; a giant of a man with broad shoulders and no neck. He’s lived alone all his adult life, and sits at his normal spot at the bar, in  brown flannelette shirt and singlet, jeans and mudcaked Blundy boots. “Changed? Yeah, sure has mate.” He looks around. “Mmm…not sure what […]

Almost Lesotho – seeking Shangri-La (Drakensberg, South Africa)

May 30, 2014

‘……….didn’t you ever want to know what was on the other side of the mountain?’                – James Hilton, Lost Horizon. Funny to find an Antipodean neighbour way out here: a beanie-clad, mumbling, red-head New Zealander in the middle of Africa; him having asked about places I’ve been, then admonishing himself […]

Jigsaw Days – secret pieces (Picardy, France)

April 28, 2014

From Berlin I’ve flown to Paris late winter, driving north for 2hrs and overnighting in the hamlet of Behen, a classic French Chateau with stately entry paved for WW2 German tanks, towers and walls from 15th and 18th centuries, the stables once bombed by American war planes. Graceful shapes glide on a Monet pond; a […]

The Lion King – wandering ways (Skeleton Coast, Namibia)

March 23, 2014

There’s another white dual cab propped on the wrong side of the road. I wind down the passenger’s window to ask if all’s OK. A khaki-clad man pauses, narrow-eyed and hesitant way out here, water bottle pulled from an open, dust-laden tailgate. We’re in Namibia – previously German South-West Africa – the Namib Desert straddling […]