Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Italy - You've been Tangoed

The phone rang yesterday afternoon and when I picked up the voice on the other end was my Mum. She sounded terrible. I thought someone had died. “Berlusconi's winning” she said.

It's a sad day for Italian politics when the man the Italian nation chooses to vote for has been constantly linked to allegations of corruption, advises women worried about their financial future to marry his son, calls his opponent a 'recycled Stalinist' and has a hideously orange face (but the last part's not important in running the country I suppose, but it is ridiculous isn't it?).

The problem is, Italians are worried about their future. Italy now has the lowest wages as well as the lowest birth rate, growth rates and levels of foreign investment in Europe along with unemployment which is low at 6 per cent, but rises to 10 per cent for those aged 15 to 24. A recent survey indicated that 53% of Italians feel worse than ever.

The man the Italians could've had in power was praised for his message for the criminal syndicates: 'Don't vote for us, because we will destroy the forces that prevent development in the South.' That may well be, but if the Italians are struggling economically, they want reassurance that things will get better economically. During his campaign, Berlusconi vowed to slash taxes and boost the economy. In stark contrast Romano Prodi's government raised taxes and collapsed only after 20 months.

There is a similar quandary with the 2008 elections for the Mayor of London. Who to vote for on 1st May? The right wing gaffe-prone buffoon that is Boris Johnson or Ken Livingstone who successfully introduced congestion charges in London and who clearly has the Londoner's best interest at heart - but who has also been accused of corruption and wasting tax payers' money.

So as much as I hate to say it, I can understand why the Italians voted Berlusconi in. There just isn't a decent alternative. If you were in their situation, what would you do?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Just can't give it up

I know I said I wouldn't be back on here until I'd finished my novel. I lied. The truth is, I probably would have finished it by now but I've put in on the backburner once again to study for a teaching Diploma which I should hopefully have finished by August. That means I'll be able to get back to the novel of which I've already written 32,743 words (62 pages).

Its been over a year since I've written anything properly and the whole time I've felt there was something missing. The truth is, I love writing and I've missed it. So I'm going to be back with a weekly post or two to keep me going. I have had to fight the urge to post the odd rambling on here but whilst reading an article on Delia Smith in The Observer Food Monthly, the urge was just too strong to resist. Here it is below.

Let's NOT be having you Delia

It’s not home-made Nigel. Assembling a mixture of ready-diced onions, Aunt Bessie’s Homestyle instant mash with some mince does not constitute home-made. I am in case you were wondering, referring to Nigel Slater’s recent comments in defence of Delia’s new ‘cookery’ book How to Cheat at Cooking.

I have nothing against her book per se. I am a big fan of Delia, I always have been. Whenever I’ve needed a good reliable recipe for the old classics like boeuf bourguignon and cottage pie, I always bypass the likes of Gordon and Jamie and reach for Delia. Her Bolognese sauce recipe is by far the best I’ve ever come across and one which I’ve strictly adhered to over the years.

There is nothing wrong with cheating – cutting corners in cookery is almost a necessary evil, given the busy lifestyles of most people today. Come home late, stick a Waitrose Madras in the microwave for twenty minutes, wait for the ping. Job done. You can’t expect everyone to come home late from work and start faffing around with complicated recipes.

Everyone knows that the sale of cookbooks has risen in recent years. Rather ironically though as it would appear more and more people are buying ready meals. So it’s pretty obvious that people like the idea of cooking, but simply haven’t got the time.

So Delia, as astute as she is, spots this gap in the market and releases a book with pre-orders beating rival cooks Nigella and Jamie in the battle for sales.

So what do I dislike so vehemently about this book? Delia’s strength has always been showing you the right way to do things. Remember in her How to Cook series where she lovingly showed us how to boil an egg correctly? Now she’s telling us to buy tinned mince! And frozen chargrilled aubergine slices! Come on Delia. How can you go back on your principles so quickly? Not only that, but she’s also telling us which brands to buy. Makes you wonder doesn’t it?

So to make a shepherd’s pie ‘new Delia’ style, I need to buy diced onions, tinned mince and instant mash which I then assemble myself. What exactly is the difference between this and buying it already prepared? What I’m saying here is if you’re going to cheat, you might as well go the whole hog and buy it ready made. Is there really anybody out there who would cook a dish as she recommends and claim to have actually cooked it themselves?

Not only has she gone back on her principles, but she’s attacked Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall for even daring to suggest that we shouldn’t eat battery-reared hens. She’s more concerned with the fact that it’s more important that poverty stricken children get the right nutrition. Since when has it been a requirement to eat battery chicken to stay healthy?

But Delia doesn’t want to get into politics. “I don’t do organic because I’m a cook – I can’t get into the politics of food because I don’t have the knowledge and I don’t have the background.” That’s right Delia, you don’t have the knowledge. To make her own dishes, she has to read her own recipes – which she has been known to have got wrong. I don’t know about you, but this proves to me that she hasn’t got a natural feel for cooking. Anyone with a passion for cooking will tell you, it’s all to do with feeling, instinct and simply knowing what’s right apart from of course, patisserie, where exact measures are required.

At least there is one advantage to cooking with recipes from her new book. What to do it it all goes wrong? Blame it on Delia.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A short break

I'm taking a short break from blogging for a while to concentrate on my writing.

Whilst I love the world of blogging and have enjoyed the company of my cyber-friends, it's been a distraction. I find myself constantly checking on my ever growing list of favourites to leave comments and exchange pleasantries.

This is how it goes:

Write two lines of novel, check blogger, write two lines of novel, check blogger. At this rate my book will be completed in fifteen years time!

It's sad but I gotta do it. I've got to immerse myself completely for now, but I'll be back in a few months time. It's going to be hard and needless to say, I'll miss you all. As a famous writer once said ' I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork'.

Monday, January 08, 2007

A question about aubergines

Often the best dishes come from things you have hanging around in the fridge and need using up. I made stuffed aubergines last week from a few ingredients that were rapidly approaching their sell by date. OK so I can't take all the credit, I had seen a similar recipe somewhere but you can pretty much stuff anything you want into an aubergine as long as it's edible.

What you need for 2 people:

2 x aubergines
3 x good quality sausages
10 x cherry tomatoes finely chopped
2 x Garlic cloves finely chopped
1 x chilli finely chopped
a handful of breadcrumbs
a good handful of parmesan
5 torn basil leaves
Olive Oil
Black pepper

Fry the onion, garlic and chilli. Once the onion is softened, take the sausagemeat out of the skin and add to the pan and fry. When the sausagemeat is cooked, add the tomatoes. Scoop out the flesh of the aubergine and fry in a separate pan. When everything is cooked, mix together adding a handful of breadcrumbs, parmesan, salt, pepper and basil. Put some olive oil over the aubergine shells, fill with the mixture then cook in the oven at 180c for about half an hour.

The question is this: Do you really need to salt the aubergines first? I always used to do it as I was told it reduces bitterness, but have recently discovered (after a bout of laziness when I couldn't be bothered to do it) that it doesn't really make any difference. I've since read that apparently these days, the bitterness is bred out of the aubergine so salting isn't necessary. It is however when frying. As the aubergine contains almost 90% water, when fried, the water escapes and is replaced by oil. So that would explain why I get through almost a whole bottle of olive oil when I make parmigiana!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Roy Ayers Ubiquity @The Jazz Cafe, Camden Town

You know when people talk about what they'd like to do before they die? Seeing Roy Ayers was one of them. We saw the jazz funk man last Friday during his annual residency at the Jazz Cafe and it was amazing.

It was our first time at The Jazz Cafe. It was slightly disappointing at first as I expected something a little more classy but instead we were greeted by a scruffy venue with a few couches in the corner. Maybe I was expecting something a bit more like Ronnie Scott's. We got there early to have a drink and we sat on the couches by the entrance which are so close together that when it began to fill up, people had to climb over each other to get to the bar/toilet. Forty five minutes before he was due to start we made our way to the front of the stage. As people started to fill the main area, it felt more like a real music venue. Small enough to feel intimate and big enough to create a great atmosphere. There are also two bars in the main area making it easy to nip through the crowds and get a drink.

I first heard Roy Ayer's voice on Masters At Work latin/jazz/salsa project Nuyorican Soul (1997) which includes the song 'Sweet Tears'. He started playing his trademark vibraphone when he was five years old which was given to him by famous vibes player Lionel Hampton. You'd still think he was five the way he plays them now at the age of sixty six!

The gig was fantastic and he performed classics such as "Everybody Love the Sunshine", "We live in Brooklyn" and "Searching". He performed a couple of unknown songs towards the end and the atmosphere seemed to flatten, but nevertheless it was an fantastic experience. As the gig ended and his band members waved CDs around we contemplated waiting for his autograph until a big Italian guy leaped on the stage and grabbed Roy Ayers to have his picture taken. We decided it was time to leave. On the whole it was a great night only spoiled by the fact that on several occasions throughout the gig we had to push our way through the crowd to go to the toilet. That's what you get for drinking beer. Next gig I think I'll stick to the shorts.

Friday, December 29, 2006


I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and lots of nice things to eat. I didn't really eat much this Christmas but I still had that constant bloated feeling nevertheless. It must be all the lack of air from staying indoors for so long watching endless repeats of The Two Ronnies. Why does Christmas day feel like the longest day ever? What do we do that's so different to normal?

I often spend Sundays at my parent's house and we sit around, have dinner, watch TV etc and it feels like a normal day. The board games rarely come out. Why do they always make an appearance on Christmas day in houses throughout the land? Why is it that at Christmas people feel naked without a drink perpetually clamped to their hand? And stuff themselves silly with nuts and various nibbles despite the fact they feel close to vomiting? Who knows. But that's Christmas.

I had four Christmases this year and enjoyed them all. The first was Sunday evening at M's aunties house as his Grandma was off to Ireland for Christmas. We exchanged presents and had a delicious starter of prosciutto, mozzarella and rocket followed by Delia's Boeuf Bourguignon, cheese and biscuits, coffee and grappa. Thursday evening M & I had our own Christmas at home and opened our pressies over Cava followed by homemade Beef Wellington. On Christmas Eve at my parents' we had various antipasti followed by roast beef and roasted winter vegetables. On Christmas day itself we had a bottle of Prosecco followed by a traditional Christmas dinner which I just love. Prawn cocktail, turkey and all the trimmings; potatoes roasted in goose fat, leeks in cheese sauce, carrots and swede, parsnips in honey, pigs in blankets (sausages wrapped in bacon) and the star of the show, sausagemeat stuffing.

We couldn't manage any Christmas pudding until 10 O'clock (which I don't even really like, but always have anyway). We didn't even have room for any panettone so we had it for breakfast instead. Then finally Boxing Day at M's parents for a delicious turkey and ham pie with all the trimmings. Even Casper enjoys Christmas as he always gets a treat of a prawn in exchange for a photo with the Christmas hat.

The exchanging of presents is my favourite part of Christmas. Seeing people's faces as the paper is ripped off to reveal something you spent hours agonising over and traipsing the streets for is worth every minute. And receiving lovely pressies too of course. I got some lovely pressies this year. Here are some of the best ones:

From my parents, a handbag and a cute little Alessi wine stopper for those unfinished bottles of wine (which, er, is a rare occurrence in our house but it looks cute anyway).

From M, some great DVDs including Tsotsi, Coffy and the fantastic comedy series Look around You. Cds, Gwen Stefani and The second album from The Magic Numbers which I'm not sure about at the moment – certainly not as good as the first but might need a few more listens.

I hope next year's Christmas will be as good as this one but next year I must remember to do a new background for my Mum's nativity. At the moment she's still using the same one I made when I was 8! Enjoy the rest of the holidays everyone and have a great New Year!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The perfect spaghetti bolognese?

We've seen him attempt to produce the perfect bangers and mash, the perfect pizza and the perfect roast chicken. Tonight's episode of Heston Blumenthal's In Search of Perfection was the one I'd been looking forward to the most - the perfect spaghetti bolognese. I sneered at the thought and even said to my Mum 'I bet it's not as good as mine'. Yeah ok, so I'm a bit arrogant. But my ragu is damn good if I may say so myself. It's based on Delia Smith's but with a few extra additions like carrots, celery and milk.

Famous for his snail porridge and bacon and egg ice cream, Heston's restaurant The Fat Duck in Bray was voted best restaurant in the world in 2005 and the previous year it was awarded its third Michelin star. Not bad.

He's been described as a 'culinary alchemist' for his innovative style of cooking. His scientific approach to food involves researching molecular compounds of dishes in order to understand flavour. The lengths he goes to with his dishes seem totally ridiculous. Everything he cooks seem to involve slow cooking, plunging in water, cooking again, measuring the temperature with an expensive themometre and cooking again. But I wouldn't mind trying some of his dishes. He puts a lot of effort into it and he always uses the best ingredients.

Tonight's episode however had me in shock. It must have had every Italian in the country recoilling in horror. Here's a brief description of what he did.

Fry onion, carrots, celery, brown oxtail. Deglaze pan with white wine, add together and cook for six hours.

Meanwhile make a tomato compote. Fry onions and garlic, then add skinned and deseeded tomatoes. Put coriander seeds, cloves and star anise in a muslin and add to compote. Next add Worcester sauce, tobasco, ketchup, sherry vinegar, thyme, bay leaf and Thai fish sauce. Cook for 1 hour.
Fry the compote in olive oil, drain, add to ragu and cook for another 2 hours. Just before serving, add tarragon, parsley and celery leaves. Season to taste, add more sherry vinegar and butter.

At this point he wraps the cooked spaghetti around a meat fork, snips of the excess bits and puts it on a plate with the sauce on top - it looked more like a kebab of spaghetti that the simple dish it's supposed to be!

This recipe should be about simplicity - a simple process using simple ingredients. I can understand the use of star anise to a certain point as it's supposed to enhance the flavour of the meat. But fish sauce? Coriander seeds?

I find him irritating, but there's something likeable about this guy. I'd love to eat his mashed potato which he cooks first in the skin. I'd jump at the chance to try his roasted chicken, cooked for 4 hours to perfection. He has 3 Michelin stars and there has to be a reason.

But I'm sceptical about this bolognese recipe. I like the idea of cooking it for a long time, and I'm not against adding a few unorthodox ingredients like a bit of Worcester sauce for example. But I don't like the idea of adding Asian and Thai ingredients to a classic Italian dish.

I love his passion for food and the lengths he goes to in order to find perfection. He even went to Italy to find the restaurant that made the best bolognese in Bologna.

I hope he keeps on doing what he's doing, but I really would ask him to do one thing - lay off the Italian food.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

In Praise of....

....the Kotlet

Or Cotoletta alla milanese as we like to call it in Italy and from where it's thought to have originated. Milan to be precise and I think it's about time Milan got some credit.

The Austrians call it Weiener Schnitzel, the Poles Kotlet Schabowy. Even the Japanese like it too and call it Tonkatsu. It's popular in Sweden, Australia and Korea. They have a version called Milanesas in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and other Latin American countries such as Mexico and Brazil. It seems everyone has a version!

It's basically more or less the thing everywhere. Meat coated in eggs and breadcrumbs and then fried - the only thing that changes is the meat. Some use beef, veal, chicken or pork and the original cotoletta alla Milanese has to be veal with the bone in. In Austria there are fast food chains that serve mostly schnitzels. Now that's my kind of fast food.

Mike will often ask me what I fancy for dinner and I'll usually say the same thing. Its great comfort food in the winter served with sweet potato mash and great in the summer with a salad. On our trip to Poland last year we had it at least three times. It's unavoidable really as it's one of Poland's national dishes which you'll find on almost every menu. My family in Italy often have it on a Sunday with pattatine fritte (homemade fries) in summer and in winter.

We had it last night with sweet potato mash and ratatouille. It's so easy to make. You just need to bash out the meat until it's nice and flat, dip in a beaten egg, then breadcrumbs and fry.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Understatement of the Year

Rose West: 'I was never a good parent'

The Sun has reported today that serial killer Rose West has broken off all contact with her three remaining children in a letter she wrote from jail in the summer.

West (53) had kept in touch with her surviving children Mae, Anne-Marie and Stephen despite the fact that she was jailed in 1995 for killing 10 young women with husband Fred. Their victims included her own daughter Heather (16) and stepdaughter Charmaine (8) who were buried in the cellar of their home.

It is thought that West decided to cut all ties when daughter Mae began asking questions about the murders.

In the letter she
apologised and said 'I cannot be something different now. Too much has happened and too much damage has been done'. She ended the letter by saying 'I truly do not have the skills to be a parent and although I am sad and ashamed of this it is something that has to be accepted.'

I think it's safe to say that parenting skills are definitely
not her strongest point.

I wonder if Kathy Burke's character in Gimme Gimme Gimme was based on Rose West?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Greek tragedy comes to an end

Oh spare me the tears.

Remember my post from exactly two months ago with these very words?

Looking back, the whole episode was actually quite funny and I can console myself with the fact that in a few months time, the "Greek Restaurant" sign will probably be replaced with a "To Let".

Well would you believe it! It's up for sale.

Tenure: Leasehold, 15 years remaining
This property is offered as a lease

Terms Of lease

premium £45000

Rent: £9600 Per Annum

Who says dreams don't come true?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Red Road (2006)

Cert 18

On a tough Glaswegian housing estate where grim tower blocks dominate the skyline, Jackie (Kate Dickie), a CCTV operator, spends her day watching multi-screen footage of people going about their business from her multitude of cameras. All seems pretty normal until she spots a man from her past who we eventually learn was involved in the death of her husband and child. Jackie soon becomes obssessed with Clyde, played by Tony Curran, and begins to follow him with revenge in mind.

Red Road, the Cannes jury prize-winning thriller also won five awards at the Scottish Baftas, including best actress for Kate Dickie, best actor for Tony Curran, best Screenplay and best film. Andrea Arnold picked up awards for best director and best screenplay.

Red Road was Arnold's feature-length debut, having previously won an Oscar for her short film Wasp in 2003. She caused controversy when she forewent the traditional thank you speech, declaring the win as "the dog's bollocks".

Likened to Michael Haneke's style of atmoshpere and tension, Red Road builds gently. It feeds us information gradually which makes the film seem slow at times, but this only adds to the intensity. The wordless scenes where Jackie spies on Clyde make the atmosphere uncomfortable but at the same time compelling as Jackie's camera pans in on her pray. The extremely raw and graphic sex scene between Jackie and Clyde is not only disturbing for the seedy surrounding of Clyde's bedroom, but for the fact that Jackie actually seems to enjoy it.

The ending is slightly unsatisfying, but Red Road is still an intelligent thriller with gritty and realistic acting from the two lead performances - a fine debut.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday, October 27, 2006

Should they stay or should they go?

Oh how I love the month of March. Beautiful spring flowers begin to appear, signaling the beginning of Spring with summer just round the corner.

It is also the month I was born. Nothing wrong with that, of course because I get lots of lovely presents. It is bad however, because I've been cursed with having the star sign of Pisces - the most indecisive of all the astrological signs. This trait has been an affliction for as long as I can remember. Don't even bother asking me to make a decision about anything, because I just can't. Now I'm not one to usually believe in this mumbo jumbo, but 'indecisive and complacent' is what they call our kind and indecisive and complacent is what I am.

Which brings me to my point. I had a pair of green Converse All Star when I was 14 and I loved them. I bought a black pair last week, took them home, tried them on and decided I didn't like them. So back to the shop they went. The whole of the next week was spent staring lovingly at peoples' canvas clad feet whilst asking myself why they looked better on everyone else. And why they made me look like a clown? I spent an hour trying on various shades of khaki yesterday and then decided against them. Today I decided it had gone too far and I bought the above pair. I love them. I love the colour. I' m sitting here as I type with one shoe on, exhausted after having tried them on with almost every item in my wardrobe. Something is telling me no, yet I know if I took them back, I would want them again.

Is it because everybody else seems to have them? I don't know. I need your help dear bloggers. Do you like them? Are they cool? But ultimately I want to know, should they stay or should they go? I have until tomorrow afternoon to decide so the decision is in your hands.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Tales from Lisbon # 3 -The Beach & things that live in the sea

Oceanário de Lisboa

If you like sea life, a visit to Europe's largest Oceanarium is an absolute must. It's inhabited by 16,000 animals and plants and based around four smaller aquaria, displaying the fauna and flora of the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and Antarctic. We spent hours with our noses pressed against the glass, entranced by menacing sharks, enormous tunas, cute penguins and cuddly Otters. The central tank is visible throughout the Oceanarium and holds an incredible 4 million litres of water.

The Beach

We went to the beach three times in the week that we stayed and we were spoilt for choice. There are some great beaches in Lisbon, only a 30-40 minute train ride from the Cais do Sodré station in the centre. On our first trip to the beach, we visited Cacsais, a popular tourist resort and former fishing port, it has several small beaches in and around town and lots of lovely shops and restaurants.

For our last two visits,we opted for Estoril. As soon as you step off the train, you walk through a tunnel and you're on the beach. I prefered the fact that there were virtually no shops, only a handful of restaurants and bars along the beach giving it more of a sense of isolation.
Estoril is famous for its casino, the inspiration for the casino gambling scene and title for the Ian Fleming's novel 'Casino Royale'.

I couldn't resist taking a photo of the man behind us wearing white socks.

He should have been wearing these

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Perfect Sunday

Sunday is the most miserable day of the week for most. A constant reminder that Monday is fast approaching - back to work and no more lie-ins. The only way to get over it is to prolong the weekend with some lovely food, lots of drink and a good film.

Yesterday I made bruschetta with tomatoes and garlic, roast beef, roast potatoes and a rocket salad with red onions and pine nuts.

Bruschetta con pomodoro

For the bruschetta topping, I chopped some fresh tomatoes out of my Mum's garden, garlic, olive oil, basil, salt and pepper. It'll probably be the last time I'll be using fresh tomatoes until next summer even though they'll be selling them all year round in the supermarkets.

Roast Potatoes with rosemary

I always boil the potatoes first and then shake them around in the pan before I roast them so they break up and get nice and fluffy on the outside (great little tip from Jamie Oliver). Put them in a roasting tin with olive oil, plenty of salt, a sprig of rosemary and some some whole garlic gloves. Roast for an hour and a half to two hours until crispy.

Green salad with rocket, red onion and toasted pinenuts

Cut a large red onion into six and fry in plenty of olive oil until soft. Mix with the salad, toasted pinenuts and balsamic vinegar.

Is there really anything better than a roast and a nice bottle of red on a Sunday afternoon?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tales from Lisbon # 2 -About Town

Lisbon has hundreds of museums from military to puppets, tiles to electricity but we didn't set foot in a single one. Apart from the fact that the weather was too nice to be stuck indoors in a stuffy old building, Lisbon is the kind of city you can just walk around with no particular destination in mind. We explored the whole city on foot, only occasionally jumping on a tram when too exhausted to tackle the steep hills. And Lisbon is very hilly. On our first night, the funicular to the Barrio Alto was out of order so we foolishly walked all the way to the top - it was so steep that with each step I took I thought I was going to slide back down again.

Our hotel was in a perfect position between the two main squares Restauradores and Rossio. The road which we had to walk down to get everywhere was full of touristy restaurants - you know, the ones with pictures of food and the menu in 10 different languages? Brushing aside the menus which were constantly shoved in our faces by over zealous waiters was like swatting flies. We spent many a happy hour looking for a good restaurant, preferably full of locals. We'd trawl the streets diving into the odd bar for a capirinhia and continue our mission. Unfortunately for being so fastidious, there is a price to pay. The food would probably always be good but the menu indecipherable. I thought I'd easily get by knowing Italian and a bit of Spanish but I was wrong. Some of the words sound nothing like the foreign languages I was more accustomed to using. For example, ementa is menu, frango is chicken, jantar, dinner, mexilhao, mussel, lula, squid, fiambre, ham, bife, steak but not necessarily beef. Huh? We would spend the first 10 minutes passing the trusty Time Out guide (open on the menu page) under the table to each other.

The chances of a romantic tete - a - tete in these places were slim as the tables were always pushed so far together you could be forgiven for mistaking your neighbour's plate for your own. It was in the restaurants that I noticed how similar the Portuguese are to the Italians. Hunched over their food they would chatter noisily and gesticulate animatedly whilst tackling their food. We had to almost shout across the table to be heard.

One thing I always try to do in a foreign country is speak as little English as possible. We found the first couple of days slighly intimidating, but by day three I was speaking confidently in a hybrid of Italian, Spanish and Portuguese - people seemed to understand me and that's the main thing.

The number 28 creeps up the hill...

...to Sé Catedral

Torre de Belem

Rossio Square

Largo do Carmo

Castelo São Jorge from Restauradores

Elevador de Bica