Traveling While Hungry

One of the first things I do when planning a trip is to explore to culinary offerings where ever I am going. Food and travel are my two favourite ‘past times’ and I combine them whenever possible.

Lately, I have another way to combine them. These days, I am quite often found – on a Monday morning – down at the Puritans Radio studio talking with Peter Evan Jones about food on the ‘Jones on Food and Travel’ program.  On a recent Monday, my topic was food worth traveling for. CNN Travel made some bizarre choices – including ketchup (not a food, in my opinion, much less a food worth traveling for), buttered popcorn (another head scratcher) and potato chips (honestly?) which is what prompted this segment.

What food is so good that you would tackle traffic, airport lines and baggage restrictions to reach it? And yes, my better half – I mentioned the tapas from Bar Pinotxo in La Boqueria in Barcelona. 🙂 When do we leave?

If you’re a fan of food and/or travel, the show is on every Monday from 10-12 (UK time) and I will be posting links to past programs  for those who prefer to catch it later on. This week’s whole show can be heard at



Summer Holiday @ Domaine Des Ormes

Greetings from the Greater Gotham summer desk. What makes it a summer desk as opposed to a normal desk? The extra big glass of iced coffee. And the fact that it is covered with notes about my summer holiday.

This year’s summer holiday was – like last year – a trip to one of the many Eurocamp locations and also like last year, in France. Last year we went to La Pointe St. Gilles in Bénodet (a mid-sized site with lovely coastal location just a short stroll into an equally lovely town).


This year we ditched the coast and went a bit more inland to Domaine Des Ormes which was … well, it was big. Quite large, full of activities of all kinds and I must say extremely well laid out.

Our initial approach had both dungeekin and I a bit concerned – throngs of people, lots of noise and loud music but as it turns out, the main gate at 3:30 on a Saturday afternoon (a naturally busy time of week and day) is not indicative of the rest of the week or the rest of the site. The “town centre” area where the shops, pools, eateries and many of the activities are located IS often thronged with people and any family campsite of that size will have noise. But because that is all located together and the “residential areas” are a short walk away, you don’t get the noise “in the burbs” as it were.


So – the cabin (we got an Espirit 2 bed/1 bath) mobile home was tidy and well equipped. Oddly, we both agreed that the living areas was not as well laid out as the one from ourt previous year’s classic mobile home. As the Espirit is a bit of an upgrade, you’d have thought it would be a bit roomier (and technically, maybe it was) but because of the layout – it didn’t feel that way. It was perfectly adequate and the kitchen was MUCH better than the one last year. The space issue was just worth noting as we make our plans for next year.

The activities covered a lot and offered something for everyone:

  • swimming (with choice of pools)
  • zip lining (no I did not try it – I considered it quite seriously but then the weather went to hell and I didn’t feel like my first go should be in the rain).
  • kids clubs (which Sprog made excellent use of most days – and a feature I think Eurocamp really excels at)
  • adventure course (which we thought was particularly well designed and laid out – three courses in one really. One for kids, one for teens and one for adults.)


  • mini-golf (I won, thank you very much)
  • archery (which the menfolk enjoyed and which – after an initially wobbly start, both seemed to have an eye for)
  • Also pony rides, cycle hire, golf, tennis, a corn maze, Segway rides, paintball

I’m sure I missed a few but suffice to say there is a lot on offer to keep everyone from toddlers to teen to mom and dad happy. Some of the other things worth noting:

  • the convenience shop is quite well stocked and the areas in front of it hosts quite a nice a weekly market (which sounds odd until you realize there is a good-sized village worth of people onsite.
  • The gift/souvenir shop came through when we needed a deck of cards but also has all the usual stuff such a shop should have.
  • The staff at reception were always helpful and cheerful.
  • We ate mostly at home but did have dinner at the pizzeria/cafe a couple of times (first day when we hadn’t gotten to the shops yet and one day while Sprog was going to be “away” for dinner. Perfectly nice food. Was it fine dining? No but there were two other restaurants for that and that isn’t out thing on these holidays. pizza and roast chicken suit us just fine.
  • We did frequent the ice cream cabana a few times – a) it’s summer holiday and ice cream cones are what that is all about and b) it is located right next to a lovely waterside seating area where you watch and feed the ducks or enjoy the yelps and laughter of people cable skiing (they get pulled along a zip line while water skiing or sitting in an inner tube). I think the yelping is part of the fun.


  • As it is such a big site, there are plenty of opportunities for nature walks – and lots of nature to see. We saw quite a lot of birds – the barn swallows were particularly entertaining.

With a site so large and so well supplied with stuff to do, we didn’t really do as many sight seeing day trips as we did last year. We did go to Saint Malo to walk to ramparts, take in the views and have lunch. The weather was GLORIOUS – ironically since we’d decided to make the trip during the overcast morning, thinking the weather wouldn’t be pool-friendly. But it cleared up while we were there.


We also went to the Grand Aquarium during another drizzly day. Amazingly well presented and curated. A particular delight was the “submarine ride” – which is basically a log ride but instead of a log, you are in your own submersible.


We’ll definitely be heading off to another Eurocamp for Summer Holiday 2017 – maybe even returning to Les Ormes – since once again, they provided everything you need to have whatever kind of holiday you want.





Looking Around Lichfield

A few weeks ago, we took a “staycation” and ended up doing more sightseeing and exploring than we have done on many trips to far more distant locales. It was fabulous. I’ll be writing it all up (been slack on that, I know) but in the meantime, a summation of our day trip to Lichfield, Staffordshire, UK. That’s without a “t” for those of you who might confuse it with Litchfield, CT.

It was as lovely as I had heard it would be. The people were delightful, the cathedral impressive and full of helpful guides, the streets and sidewalks almost bizarrely tidy and we experienced what may have been the world’s greatest chips at Pom’s Kitchen & Deli.

Until I get a chance to go into more detail, have some pics from one of the lovelier days (all pics courtesy of and belong to dungeekin, Modern Parlance’s fave photog)

Brooklyn Bridge Bites

Last September (2015), dungeekin and I headed to Brooklyn from Manhattan (walking as the weather was fine) and what emerged was a whole different view of this iconic bridge. So many messages …

Vintage Lover’s Guide to Banbury

alice_chess_blogIf you are one of the many people who love vintage décor, collectibles, clothes, and accessories – then Banbury and its surrounding villages are the place for you!

The Vintage Lover’s Guide to Banbury, the Banbury blog post that was on this page has now moved to its new home on The Banburian, a site devoted to exploring Banbury and the surrounding areas. Other posts about shopping in Banbury on The Banburian include:

Book Mad in Banbury


Banbury PhoneBox Library – a Little Free Library of sorts which started out unofficially and ended up being done up properly and making the news.

I’ve been book mad a long time, long before I moved to Banbury. When we were house hunting, one of my criteria (and I didn’t have many) was that where ever we ended up, it have a bookstore.

After all, I was moving from Manhattan – land of The Strand (and especially their Central Park Stalls), Housing Works Bookstore, McNally Jackson, – not to mention Mysterious Bookshop, the late lamented Murder Ink and the even more lamented Endicott. I couldn’t go cold turkey.

We ended up in Banbury for a number of really excellent reasons – and while it was not the deciding factor, I am happy to report than Banbury is awash in places for me to feed my book habit.

Read more about what I found, including books swaps, arket stalls, used book stores and charity shops full of titles to feed my habit … Book Mad in Banbury


Spring Shopping in Banbury

There are many signs of Spring in Banbury. The sun shines more often, daffodils are swaying in the breeze, a few bees start buzzing around. It all brought me out to shop and browse.


The plant and garden stall at the Banbury Market was a veritable riot of colour

It was Market Day so I made a point, as I always do of browsing among the stalls – then had some lunch, did a bit more browsing and a spot of shopping.  This is great for the local economy and a bit hard on my wallet. But only a bit since I have to say – Banbury’s independent shops did right by me this week. From the handbags, to the repair, to the pins – bargains all around. Wanna know what else I saw and what I ended up hauling home? Check out Spring Shopping in more detail over on the Banburian.

Museum News from the Banbury Area

It’s all happening at museums in the Banbury area lately (and as a museum-lover, this pleases me).

To find out more, head over to The Banburian and see all the Museum news for the Banbury area.

Banbury: Who’s Riding to Which Cross?

Tell someone you live in Banbury & they’ll start reciting:

Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
And she shall have music wherever she goes.

Considering how well-known that little ditty is you’d think we’d know a lot about its origins but we don’t. We don’t know

  • which cross they are talking about
  • who the woman riding to that cross
  • how many versions of the rhyme there are
  • when the rhyme first showed up
  • what they meant by cock-horse
  • how the frog fits in

The answers to these mysteries (or at least my best guess in some cases), is to be found in Who’s Riding to What Cross over on The Banburian.

The Fine Lady's bell-adorned toes. Photo by dungeekin.

The Fine Lady’s bell-adorned toes. But who is the lady? —  Photo by dungeekin.


BOO! Haunted Banbury

It’s Halloween and while I know you’re probably madly rushing around putting finishing touches on costumes or exerting massive self-control to keep from eating all that candy you’ve purchased, let’s take a minute for a ghost story – or two! Ghost are always fun and Banbury has two that I know of.


As if having hidden staircases and priest holes weren’t enough, Whatley Hall has a GHOST! Yes, the ghost of Father Bernard. Though having a ghost pop out at you is no doubt a shock, Father Bernard is not supposed to be especially scary. He is said to hum, chuckle and smile as he moves briskly about the place, usually on the stairs or in the garden.


The ghost at Ye Olde Reindeer Inn is a Cavalier (which fits in nicely with the history of the place). The ghost is reported to appear, complete with plumed hat and lace ruffles, both on the upper floors and in the Globe Room. No word on whether he is as jolly as Father Bernard.

I’ve put together a few more details on these buildings and their spectral residents over on The Banburian’s Haunted Banbury post. If you’re interested in what else I found out about Banbury’s history – of a less spectral nature – you should check out my piece on Local History Is Awesome called “Banbury’s History of Prudes, Drunkards and Murderers.” It’s not all mayhem though – it also touches up a bit of culinary history of Banbury cakes and cheese.