Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium


What´s the hottest ticket in London these days?

A table by the window in The Shard? Tickets to the latest version of Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch?

Wrong. That would be a booking at a certain east London cafe. This place has turned back the likes of Katy Perry in recent times and you´d be hard pressed to score a table before the year was out.

The unassuming entrance of Lady Dinah´s

The unassuming entrance of Lady Dinah´s

And why all the fuss?  Cats! Practical cats, dramatical cats, pragmatical cats, fanatical cats, oratorical cats, delphioracle cats… inside Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium you´ll find almost the full spectrum of T. S. Eliot´s cats.

Read up on each cat before you enter the cafe

Introducing the cats that live at Lady Dinah´s

This café was set up primarily to care for rescued cats so the entire space is like a feline Disneyland with every nook and cranny filled with fun wheels, toys and nesting perches.


Guests are carefully briefed, sanitised and wormed… i mean warned, before entering the emporium. Don’t even think about picking up one of the ten cats mid-snooze or feeding them your macaron crumbs. If they approach you however, it´s game on.  Read More

Scotch eggs


What is Britain´s favourite snack?

A piping hot Cornish pastie, Marmite on toast, jellied eels perhaps?

Well no doubt all of the above, but certainly also high up on the list is the humble scotch egg. Consisting of a hard boiled egg encased in sausage meat, breadcrumbed and fried, it was allegedly invented by the Queen´s providore, Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly London, as a convenience food. The idea was that a scotch egg or two could fit nicely into a gentleman´s pocket or hankerchief to provide sustenance on the long carriage ride back to the manor. Well it was 1738.

The scotch egg was bastardised for a while there in the 90´s and taken advantage of by service stations and the like but now seems to be going through a renaissance. In the interests of presenting a well-rounded (no pun intended) case, I recently sampled a selection and bring you my findings:

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A Fortnum & Mason scotch egg

Fortnum & Mason scotch egg: Whether or not you believe their ´traveller´s snack´ tale matters not a jot. Bite into one of these beauties to reveal succulent organic mince and a perfectly cooked soft yolk egg. Read More

And the cosiest airport award goes to…


You´re thinking Singapore´s Changi because it has a pool and a butterfly garden. Or Bangkok because you can get a massage 24 hours a day. Maybe Munich for its brewery?


Not for me anyway. Airports these days seem to offer everything the so called modern traveller needs but the one thing I´ve always found distinctly absent from every airport I´ve visited is a personality, or god forbid a sense of humour.

Which is why my recent visit to Tallinn airport, en route to Paris, was such a surprise. Estonia´s capital is not usually setting international style benchmarks, but I found myself delighted and surprised several times while waiting for my flight. And not by the kids play area, unlimited free wifi and Skype video booths (although they were cool too).

The help-yourself library at Tallinn airport

The help-yourself library at Tallinn airport

First up was the the airport library where you can read and even borrow a book at your leisure, with the idea that you´ll return it on your way back or replace it with a book you no longer need. A genius idea that fosters a sense of community and environmental awareness.

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Book in hand, I walked into the nearby Kohver Café and was bowled over by the fact that this was not a chain café. Independent businesses are rarely, if ever, courted by airports. It was teeming with vintage décor and quirky styling, including coffee tables made out of antique suitcases (an idea I am totally going to copy). This café would look perfectly at home in Sydney´s Surry Hills or London´s Soho. Read More

Jeu de boules French-style… in the Netherlands


Jeu de boules (also known as pétanque, bocce or just plain boules) is a popular game in quite a few European countries, but seems to be approached with particular zeal by the French. That includes Frenchies living elsewhere like my lovely half French friend Corine who lives in the charming Dutch city of Utrecht.


Everything you need for French boules, under the shadow of a Dutch windmill

We spent a day playing this addictive (and surprisingly strategic) game, right in front of a traditional windmill for a nice Dutch touch.

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A couple of rounds of lawn bowls back in Sydney is not exactly solid training for this sport, especially when up against enthusiasts who have practically been playing since birth. I was happy just to be playing though, on a previous weekend trip to Lyon with local friends, only the men were permitted to play!

Ricard and poulet to accompany the game

Ricard and poulet to accompany the game

I´ve also learnt that drinking Ricard is essential when playing jeu de boules. The French wouldn´t consider playing without it. I found that the more I drank, the better my game became (or at least the better I think my game became). Other essential accoutrements included saucisson, pain frais and a dish of wonderfully lemony poulet. Read More