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Showing posts from July, 2012

Come into the parlour

Port Talbot is a bit like Danny Boyle’s Olympic opening ceremony – things keep popping up! But these are pop-ups that all involve food. Now, wouldn’t that have been something in the Olympic Stadium – an edible stage set? The Olympic Torch one gigantic flaming sambucca? Not very British though.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the Olympics’ opening ceremony. I liked some of the content but I felt the concept was more stage set than big arena spectacle. But I did stop watching before the lighting of the torch and I’ve been assured that was the cherry on the icing on the cake. That’s far more British.
I am in Wales again, this time for a trip around a forest, a trip around the docks and a trip around the mayor’s parlour.Don’t you love the word ‘parlour’? From the French parler – to speak — and originally used for a room set aside for receiving and speaking to people. So that’s spot on for the Mayor’s room in the Civic Centre. Although the phrase, 'The Mayor's Parlour' makes me think of…

Time and Toasted Sandwiches

Florida, France, Wales: too much travelling in too short a time and I missed updating the hungry writer last week, the first time ever since I started the blog 20 months ago. I thought I’d be angry and disappointed with myself but looking at my diary for last week I’ve decided to be understanding instead. 

Researching for Real Port Talbot has taken over my life. I should have listened to advice and asked for two years. Another Real author spent three years on his. I agreed to deliver mine in 15months. Aaaarrghhhh! Last week saw me…


… visiting an Infants School, speaking with a residents’ association, interviewing the leader of the local council, rummaging through a library’s local history section, attending a community protest meeting, tracking down an old watermill, climbing behind a waterfall, photographing wooden Japanese sculptures, visiting a closed nightclub, walking a trail commemorating the life of Richard Burton, taking a guided tour of the steelworks, looking for a composer’…

A Welsh girl walks into an Irish pub in France. No joke.

The Irish Pub seems to be colonising the world. I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice them in European and American cities, and they're usually packed to the gubbins too. There was one in Antibes and I studiously avoided it – partly because we chose to live in France not a reconstructed ex-pats drinking outpost, and partly because the outside tables were perpetually cloaked in cigarette smoke. 

I’m not really a pub person anyway. I generally don’t go to them in the UK (my last pub visit reduced me to a state of shock – read about it here) so they’re not high on my agenda when I’m travelling. Until I went to Avignon last week.

You can have wonderful meals in France but there are plenty of average ones to be found, and a whole bunch of bloody awful stuff as well. Like any country, I guess. But the myth of a gourmet France persists. Perhaps we should blame Elizabeth David. There is also the hit and miss element of French service, not just table service but any form of customer servi…