Soup and Sensibility

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Wasn’t it terribly fashionable once to be mad about ‘bone broth’? Why consommé, my preferred term for it, needed dressing down in such brutal terms escapes my wildest wit. I suppose it seemed outmoded and perhaps a little snooty. Yet a light and flavourful bowl of enriched stock is a recipe which every cook should be able … Continued

Elena Ferrante: How and why does gender matter in translation?

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With Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend now adapted for TV, we take a look at what translation means for the writer and for her texts, and in a book about women, how does gender matter? Gender (its function and impact) is exciting for translation because the two areas of inquiry share illuminating affinities. Repeatedly speaking to … Continued

The Beguiling Wine of the Loire

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As London struggles through the dark and miserable start to the year, the skies a uniform and oppressive grey. It’s at times such as this that you need a wine which can beguile even the most jaded of palates. It is the red wine from the Loire, at turns delightful, light, fresh and quaffable, that … Continued

First Light in the Stroud Valley

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Upon first light, dreary eyes begin to focus. The realisation of change emerges. The air is different but the smells familiar, and the unmistakable sounds of nature echo through the room. I’m not in the city anymore. Sunlight pours through the net curtains like flour through a sieve; reflections from hanging garments project gentle puppets … Continued

My First Time Being A Pallbearer

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‘And the captain said to the mate, “Dan, tell us a story!” And the story went as follows…’ Following the last instalment, we’re sticking with the mundane (this time, in its earth-to-earth, dustiest sense). Here’s my first experience of being a pallbearer. My Grandad was one of those eternally old men, grey and grizzly with … Continued

My First Time: An Intro

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This is not a blog series about sex. Sorry. You could read these though, if that’s what you’re after. Or head here. This is a blog about other, arguably much more interesting first times. The first time moving city, first time living abroad, first stint as a cheesemonger. First impulse-bought pet, first time being robbed. … Continued

The Quiet Ones

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During the summer, I went to see Laura Marling play, and she was just as wonderful as ever. She’s tiny, but her stage presence is what a music journalist might refer to as ‘commanding’ – she walks onto the stage a little tentatively, but once that guitar’s in hand, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind … Continued

Looking Forward: Time for a Mindset Reset

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Over the last few months Britain seems to have come a cropper. This great nation of ours has got itself into binds; tangled tensions of apparently irreversible decisions: Brexit, we are told, will bring about our destitution. The NHS is on the brink of collapse through financial stresses and doctors’ exhaustion, politics is the stomping … Continued

The Smell of Hong Kong

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Everywhere has a smell, distinct and unique, and the many smells that make up a place are inextricably bound to each other. I strongly remember a Calvados distillery somewhere in Normandy; the smell of the oak barrels, the alcohol vapour and the crushed apples. I remember nothing else except the smell.   Rural idylls do … Continued