‘The Truth must dazzle gradually, or every man be blind’

Out and about on dull errands in drizzly unfestive England today, I thought back to last weekend when I was in Paris. The Dickens line, 'a tale of two cities'  has never seemed so accurate. Paris has always been my quick getaway for me time to reboot. I've never taken for granted the miracle that is Eurostar, to hop on a train in London avoiding airport mayhem and arrive in the centre of Paris in less time than it can take to get to Newcastle. I've even been known to go for the day, where a few hours tricking my senses with different food, streets and sights can make me feel like I've had a fortnight a million miles from home. How different these two Capitals have always felt from each other, and now more than ever after the recent killings in Paris. After a peaceful, relaxing and invigorating weekend we arrived back at Gare ...

‘There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast’

What is the Winter Solstice? Why should you care? This is not a Scroogey anti-commercial diatribe on the materialism of Christmas, you can work out your own feelings on that. But I think the Earth deserves some credit and due attention sometimes. And this day is a very special day for that. While most people are either hung over or rushing hither and thither buying up ill thought out stuff they don't need with money they don't really have, it is important to remember that today is also the Winter Solstice. Without it, pretty much all of the traditions we have at this time of year wouldn't even exist. The Winter Solstice unlike many made up religious events at this time of year is an actual thing because it is tangible and based on scientific fact. It really is the longest night and shortest day. You can feel it for sure. This year is even more ...

‘It’d be awful if the world exploded, it’s so wonderfully splendid’

Is any situation not perfected by a Tove Jansson quote? The post holiday blues kicked in some time ago and memories of my trip in February to Iceland faded quicker than the unexpected Nordic tan I picked up. I thought I would share a few thoughts on my adventure and coincidentally my renewed love of all things Scandinavian, and how all this fits in with my perceptions right now. My trip to Iceland was not some random spoilt whim I woke up with one day. It was of great sentimental value because ever since I was a child I had told my parents I would live in Scandinavia. A deep interest in Moomin, Jostein Gaarder and Astrid Lindgren novels maybe, but they do say that your core belief system is shaped most as a young child so I think these things must have influenced me. After watching a documentary on Iceland, Mama said she would ...

‘ Solace in a Samovar’

This time a fortnight ago I was on my little Russian adventure sat in a Germanic style bar in central St. Petersburg getting warm and setting the world to rights over a decanter of vodka and a German beer chaser with a fascinating new Russian friend. He was regaling me with anecdotes of his time in Afghanistan before the Soviet coup and I was waxing lyrical over the relative merits and pitfalls of Socialism. By midnight we had pretty much solved most of the world's issues and by 1am, neither of us particularly cared anymore! Last Saturday a week ago I was adjusting to setting the clocks back, catching up over coffees with a very dear old school girlfriend far away up North in Newcastle. Her home cosy and very real, filled with family and visitors. Something I've not experienced for some time. In both those places I felt truly relaxed and like myself, ...