These spices are nices!

With less than two weeks left in England, I’ve been starting to get a little panicky about all the outstanding items on my England to-do list. I spent most of last weekend traipsing all over London on a mammoth shopping trip, picking items that are either unavailable in Rio (Colman’s mustard, PG Tips and of course delicious Marmite) or massively expensive (electrical goods general).

One of the food things I miss most when I’m in Rio is Indian food and I had been meaning to go for a curry ever since I got back to London. With time running out I was starting to think I’d missed my chance until last Sunday when I had a stroke of luck. It happened to be a particularly freezing day and I was feeling a bit sorry for myself and then I stumbled upon this rather amazing Indian food market!


There must have been around 30 stalls, clustered together close to the Southbank Centre, next to the Thames. The majority of them were selling food from various parts of India.


Read more


Recently, I have received a number of messages from people curious to hear more about the various plants I grow in my window boxes (you can’t prove that this is a lie, so let’s just go with it shall we?). I responded that surely not many people would be interested in my horticultural antics and anyway, how can I give this a spin that would make it anything to do with Rio specifically? They were quite insistent and said I’d think of something. Well, I am still a little dubious, but I’ve never been very good at saying no… (even to imaginary people)

Yesterday I was forced into doing a herbal harvest. I say ‘forced’ because things were getting quite out of hand. Not only were the basil plants turning into small trees, but the oregano was starting to strangle the roses and all the plants (apart from the poor roses) were starting to flower. Drastic action was required.

Ever wondered what a chive flower looks like? (of course you have...)

Read more

Cock on the Moutain Top

Well, as usual for Saturdays in November/December, it rained again today. This made it impossible, once again, for me to do a job I’ve been meaning to do for ages (putting up a trellis since you ask). After glowering at the rain for an hour or so, I decided to go and do something else that I’ve been meaning to do for a while – a food mission! 

One of the things I really miss about London is the great variety of world food available. In particular I miss the zingy flavours and spice of Thai, Vietnamese and Indian food. The few Southeast Asian restaurants I’ve seen are either mediocre or expensive (or both!) and the supermarkets don’t stock the ingredients essential to these cuisines, so until today I have had to go without.

Then, a couple of months ago, we were riding on the bus through the neighbourhood of Flamengo when we spotted this:

Although I pass this place everyday on my way to work, I'm always late and so never have time to stop in. Today I made it my mission to go and check it out.

And so, with the weather alternating between light drizzle and heavy downpour, I set off to check out what, as far as I know, is the only Asian market in Zona Sul. I had no idea I was going to find cock on the mountain top…

Read more

The Herbs are Smoking!

The best way to describe recent weather in Rio would be ‘changeable’. Yesterday was blisteringly hot, then last night there was a torrential downpour (just after got home – yes!). This morning I woke to a rather tedious drizzle which reminded me of England. 

A day or two of rain doesn’t really bother me (well, unless those two days are Saturday and Sunday!) – I actually rather like a bit of mixed weather. And it seems that I’m not the only one!


This Basil ain’t Fawlty! In fact it is getting a little bit too successful.

Read more

Sprouting Fence Posts

Long (long) before I was born, back in the days when Britain had such things as colonies (nowadays they’re called British Overseas Territories), my grandparents lived in modern day Malawi (then known as Nyasaland), East Africa. Many (many) years later, after my grandparents had long since moved back to England and I had been born, my grandparents would tell me stories about their days in Africa – places like Zomba and Blantyre still have a slightly magical ring to me, even though I’ve never been to either.

One day my grandmother said something to me that has always stuck in my mind – she told me that in Nyasaland (as it would always be known to her) the earth had been so fertile that the fence posts would actually sprout leaves and branches. For me, as a wide-eyed seven year old, it was an amazing image and although I’ve since heard it used to simply signify ‘very fertile’, it will always conjure up images of a part of East Africa I’ve never seen.