2 October 2014

Life on a knife edge: a most interesting character.

The serrated tip of the brandished knife quivered in my face with a flourish. Mr Kiwi and I looked at each other, just who was this madman?? What on earth were we going to do??

Paris France: Adventures of a London Kiwi

When the topic of 'the most interesting character you’ve met while travelling' popped into our conversations of the next linkup topic, I knew immediately who it had to be. I adore travelling with my most constant companion Mr Kiwi (believe me, any couple who can travel together, will be together for a long long time - we've come to a ratio that works beautifully; 1 pint to every two random cultural items) but it wasn't him. I love weekends away with my girls; wine, castles, cakes and tunes but it wasn't them either.

Random travel companions sometimes for a day, a week or a few hours who have kept popping up over Europe and on facebook. Not them. The beautiful New Yorker, a stranger who exchanged parcels of goodies over the Atlantic, before inviting me whilst in New York for a quintessential Pastrami sandwich, then sent me photos of her brand new newborn. Nope. The stunning hotel clerk in Amsterdam who laughed over my confusion at all of the streets names around our hotel starting with Emma. No siree. The American girl who hadn't ever left home before, and slept on top of a Czech bed complaining that they hadn't supplied bedding - whereas in reality, she hadn't ever turned down her own duvet. It wasn't even her.

Paris France: Adventures of a London Kiwi

On a romantic birthday break and the first time in the French capital for both of us, having given up on the tourist-y haunts of the main streets, Mr Kiwi and I were searching the twisting back streets for a jewel. A genuine French bistro. I wanted a moodily lit restaurant where real Parisians treasure age old cooking methods, incredible fresh bread and umm, well snails. Hey, we were tourists after all.

Spotting a wee treasure at the back of several offices, we made our way towards the small doors surrounded by wildly gesticulating smokers enjoying a post-work vino. A little scared, we steeled ourselves and entered the busy room. Espying the menus - all in handwritten French - we decided on escargot, bouef and dessert roulette (employing the point and be surprised method).

Paris France: Adventures of a London Kiwi

It was then he walked to our table. Well, skipped is more like it. A petite Frenchman, dressed entirely in black made his way to our table, eyebrow arched. He smiled, asked me something in French, and after hours of practising my Lonely Planet French, I panicked.

Smiling toothily, I replied. "Erm, I'm so sorry but we don't really speak French - and if we tried it would be terrebley." (You know, terrible but with a riduculous French accent).

Paris France: Adventures of a London Kiwi

Grinning like the devil, he seized the steak knife innocently waiting on the table, waved it in our surprised faces and proclaimed "Ah, that is ok. You no speak French, I no speak English, you no eat! Oh hohoho!" Racing away, he returned with goblets of fragrant red wine, laughed, and said "I only joke, of course you can eat. What would you like??" Laughing, and sincerely relieved we began enjoying our meal. Half an hour later he also threatened a flower seller with someone else's knife, so we figured it was his standard greeting. An unusual way to run a business, but hey, were in his country!

Paris France: Adventures of a London Kiwi

Now, your turn! Kelly, Rebecca, Molly and I would love to hear about the most interesting character you've ever met. You have a week - just add your link below, and share a little love if you can.

1 October 2014

Spain: Foodie Penpals September

Sangria dappled sunlight, incredibly organic architecture and steaming roadside cauldrons of Paella greeted me from my doorstep this month.  All in one compact parcel wrapped in packing tape. Not bad, eh?


Every single month I wrestle with the thought of poking through my favourite foodie shop for another batch of goodies into the post for my Foodie Penpals. Every single month I am then overwelmed by the wonderful consideration my penpal - in this case the lovely Katie - takes to prepare a scrumptious packages of goodies for me in return. Every month I then write a post remembering just how much I adore Foodie Penpals.

This month was no exception.  I always ask my penpals to send me a taste of home, and in this case it was a delectable selection from Katie's second home Espana. Full of spice, sizzling flavour, exotic recipes and very few particles of Gluten, my parcel was transformed into a scrumptious weekday meal that transported us back to our last visit to Barcelona - Paella, food of the gods.

Oh, and crowned with my absolute favouritest (is that a word?) flavour recipe ever!!

Not all of the ingredients quite made into the dish, but enjoyed in al fresco bite size chunks by my husband shaped mouse. Absolutely delicious - thank you again Katie it was the best slice of late summer sunshine I could have wished for from the Postie (though I'm a little worried that my packages might start being delivered with nibble marks - that's how good it smelt!)

Fancy your own lovely thoughtful box of goodies arriving on your doorstep? Foodie Penpals was created by Lindsay at theleangreenbean in September 2011, and is administered in Europe by Carol Anne from thisisrocksalt every month. You will get to know two lovely people and are assigned one person to send a thoughtful foodie parcel of £10 to, and a different person will send one to you. It's a lovely way to try things you've never tried before, match up with some awesome bloggers and readers and it's so nice to receive something in the post that's not a bill. 

The Lean Green Bean 

Ps. make sure you enter our travel linkup this month - I'll post my entry first thing tomorrow with the necessary links - our topic is 'the most interesting character you've met on your travels'!

30 September 2014

No Immunity, Alan Hunt

If you were to turn my family into a shelf of books, we'd have every genre covered.

Dad would be a military/crime novel, layered full with sharp humour, brooding twists and turns, my Mum a supernatural romance novel full of outlandish ideas and fantastical dragons. I would be a travel book, pages brimming with promises of exotic destinations and delicious meals voluptuously described. My sister is a sweet romance novel, full of promise and a wonderful denouement you may not expect. My brother loved Manga comics, but currently he & his partner are side by side how-to-be-parent books, idly leafed through before my lovely nephew makes his way into the world (whereby the book will barely have to time to be read). And last, but certainly not least my Mr Kiwi is an autobiography, usually of the rock star variety.

As kids we grew up in houses bursting with books, and although our personalities uncannily reflect our favourite reading genres, we all turned to one anothers' favourite books to leaf through. Perhaps we even learned a little about each other. Who knows. Why am blathering on about all about this? Well, the minute I picked up No Immunity, I knew my Dad will love it.

Luckily, these childhood influences left a lasting impression on me, and a love of John Grisham's intrigue, Jeffrey Archer's complex character relationships and a fascination for legal entanglement dancing across the pages of a thrilling novel; all still reach far into my adult life.

No Immunity's surface plot is about a young man in the British diplomatic service, who is inexorably drawn into investigating the murder of the UK's Ambassador to Argentina. With a fascinating pace, beautifully evocative South American landscapes and believable characters, this fascinating novel charts nuances and intrigues lacing the inner-world of international diplomatic relations and the affect on the racing personal lives of everyone involved. A debut novel written by a former diplomatic servicemen, the book was a swift page turner on a recent holiday and had wonderful aspects subtlely pulled through the plot. I can't wait to see his next release.

Ps. Dad if you're reading this, look away - Santa might just need to make a delivery from the UK...