In Britain or in far-flung outposts around the world in what either used to be the British Empire or in countries influenced by Britain, one meets the British. And when the conversation turns to food, the Brits inevitably bore you about how their food ‘din’t used to be much good’, but now — with the new wave of chefs, money, culinary interest, etcetera and etcetera — the food in Britain has changed and become as good as ‘the best in the world’. Continue reading “British Food — an appraisal of the middle”→
Chiang Mai is the second city of Thailand but it is a small city and as different from Bangkok as one can imagine. The population is about the same as Canberra where I live about 350,000 but this is notional depending on where one draws the boundaries and no one can agree on this. Chiang Mai is much more interesting than Canberra however and has much more to offer. The northern Thai or Lanna people are proud of their heritage. They are not as poor as the people of Northeastern Thailand near Laos, but also have in the past been much less affluent than the people of the central plains of Thailand or the South.
Michael Connelly is an internationally best-selling American crime fiction writer. He is also prolific. He has an excellent official website, which is the best place to go for more detail about him, his novels, the series order of his Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller books and other details about him and his writing.
They gave me a mango at breakfast in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, in the boutique hotel where I was staying. The mango was beautifully presented in Thai style: two halves on the plate with the seed removed. The halves were cut into even bite-sized slices. The mango was not too ripe but full of flavour. Each firm portion tasted identical to the last one, and I had to restrain myself from eating too quickly. The mango was mouth-wateringly delicious.
Trip: Europe, April to December 2014. House-sitting near Großenkneten in Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), April to June 2014
Our house is a typical German two-family house, with both upstairs and downstairs. The house is relatively modern with an older section somewhere downstairs. The plan and construction (red brick) is based on but not similar to the Low German farmhouse that typifies the district. The latter were built very much the same from the 18th to the early 20th century but are modeled on a much older house style from the late 15th and sixteenth centuries (more about this later). It is on about one and a half acres of land.
Trip: Europe, April to December 2014. House-sitting near Großenkneten in Lower Saxony or Niedersachsen, April to June 2014
Today is Sunday. We arrived two weeks ago. Settling into Lower Saxony near Großenkneten has been a strange experience. We’d had a couple of days in Paris and in Hamburg before we took a train to Bremen and were picked up by Ernst one of our hosts for a forty-minute drive to home.
We’d previously house-sat in Australia, but with friends or through friends.
Whilst tourism is typically dislocating for the first few days, it is not the same as meeting strangers and learning enough to take over their house for two months. Our hosts could not have been more helpful but everything was unfamiliar. And initially, we thought that there was much to learn before they left. This was both true and untrue.
I think I’ve read all of these Icelandic crime novels featuring the depressive, gloomy and anti-social Inspector Erlandur and his underlings Sigidur Oli and Elinborg. Erlandur is obsessed by and guilty for losing hold of his younger brother in a blizzard when he was a child. He is also upset by his relationship with his drug addict daughter and estranged son. He feels guilty for his indifference to them, but also powerless to do much about it. Despite all this Erlandur is a rather endearing point of view character.
I’ve been an avid reader of fiction all my life. My sister and I were fortunate that our mother read to us when we were young. She read in an over-dramatic style that we loved as kids. I remember in particular Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs, Enid Blyton’s The Enchanted Faraway Tree was a favourite and possibly others in the series, but our all time favourite was The Land of Green Ginger by Noel Langley. I remember being shocked and scared by the wicked Princes Tintac Ping Foo and Rubdub Ben Thud threatening to boil the hero Abu Ali in oil.