‘What shall I play?’ There is a distinct unsteadiness in his movements as he approaches us and takes Florian’s recently vacated seat at the piano; no doubt he’s come directly from Hild Bede’s college bar next door. I exchange a nervous glance with Sonja and Sören, concerned for the welfare of the musical instrument in … More Travel: the other way round
‘You don’t look like a fresher to me.’ He looks first at me; then at my suitcase, which is sitting obediently at my feet; then back at me. ‘Are you a… a…’ I allow him time to struggle on in his battle between politeness and curiosity. ‘Are you a… second year, perhaps?’ I smile benevolently: … More Welcome Back to Durham
My year abroad is over. After twelve months in Russia and Austria, it’s time to return to Durham to complete my university degree. It would be a lie to say I have loved every minute of the year (illness, injury and the threat of prosecution certainly don’t number among my favourite moments); but I have … More The Final Chapter?
He bounces. There’s no other way to describe it. He sits down next to me, but the chair doesn’t allow for bouncing and before long he’s jumped to his feet again. While we talk he holds on to the back of the recently vacated chair as if that is the only way to keep him … More Do You Believe in Tears?
‘Do you want some cucumbers?’ Stas and I have been in the restaurant half an hour when Saul arrives, looking slightly flustered. ‘Elvira got back just as I was about to leave,’ he says. He glances furtively around before reaching into his bag and producing a number of fine, green cucumbers. He pushes them across … More Cucumbers
There were dragons and volcanoes and castles; there was tea and watermelon and cake; and there were six of us contemplating the square tiles on the table. We were playing Carcassonne, an extended version. Bit by bit, we were building a maze of cities and roads, and every now and then, when someone drew a … More A Mystery
I want to tell you about the light. It is nearly five o’clock in the morning when we emerge, blinking, into the grey pre-dawn of St Petersburg. We push through the crowds milling outside the bars and clubs and turn East towards the promise of the rising sun. Ahead of us is the Cathedral on … More One Year Later
June. My final month in Innsbruck. I would like to invite you on a jaunt through June. On the first Sunday of this fine, summer’s month, after a night spent in a mountain hut, I was a long way above sea level, battling my way through Mother Nature’s fury with Serena (half-Swedish half-Austrian and passionate … More An Ode to June
If you had asked me last week, while I was sitting in the waiting room of the local police station, how I would describe the month of May, ‘merry’ probably wouldn’t have been top of the list. In fact, misfortunate would have more fitting. Or miserable. I’m jumping ahead of myself: there was more to May … More The Merry Month of May
I sometimes think that what is really, truly beautiful is fleeting: indeed, it is this very transience that makes it so achingly lovely. That cannot be held true for Paris. Its great architectures of stone are not transient: countless eyes have gazed upon them over countless years; men and women and children from all walks … More A fleeting fragment of France