Sunday, 28 April 2013

Secret Addresses (not from someone stylish)

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I love Stella magazine, which comes every Sunday with the Sunday Telegraph. It bats slightly above my economic bracket, but I read everything in it anyway; dreaming of one day owning a beautiful scarf from page 7; one day enjoying the facial featured on page 12; one day having my own house and decorating using fabulous ideas on show on page 53. It will happen. And the rest of the features are just brilliant.

So, I'm stealing one of their regular slots again. Last year I wrote my own Soul Food column and today I share with you my Little Black Book. In Stella this means "secret addresses from stylish people". Just a disclaimer before you read on: the word stylish would not feature in the first 1000 words to describe me and I doubt very much that any of my friends or family would ever use that word and my name in the same sentence. You have been warned.

The idea is to share haunts: restaurants, cafes, hotels, parks, shops, galleries, museums. You know, the ones the rest of the world don't know about already. You should be thinking by now you will not get any incredible clothes shops in my collection. Last warning. Here we go.

Cocktails on the terrace

Hotel Endorfina Kiyikoy, Turkey
Friendly Mehmet owns and runs this perfectly located hotel in this tiny fishing village on the Black Sea. Perched on top of the hill overlooking the beach, rivers and back across green hills where the sun sets, he'll share stories and gin and tonics with you while his chef cooks up wonderful fish and salads. Heaven. 

Yin Yang Pie Arenales 2819, Buenos Aires
The best massage in Argentina. Their hot stone massage will  make you forget the hustle and bustle of city life and delight body and mind, as well as a wallet used to UK prices. But even better is the feeling afterwards and the sleep that night. You'll book again next time in town.
Post massage
Mango juice all the way for me

Confeitaria Marias e Maria  Avenida Brasil 1285, Foz do Iguazu, Brazil
When I lived and worked in Foz do Iguazu I went here nearly every day for lunch. Juices full of fruit and nothing else; big, fresh sandwiches; coffees and teas galore (which doesn't always happen in South America) A lunch time chill-out delight. 

Zeera Ealing, London
Zeera is a gem of a local restaurant and worth a tube ride (it's right by north Ealing station). At Zeera you get simple and comfortable decor, friendly and personable service and wonderful Bangladesh and Indian cooking. Have the Goan lamb shank, the achari chicken or nilgiri dish. Tasty, honest and very well-priced.

El Cerro de Siete Colores
Hotel Manatial del Silencio Purmamarca, Argentina
This cute village plays host to one of Argentina's most beautiful natural wonders, The Hill of Seven Colours. Waking up in this neo-colonial style hotel is a joy; it has light and airy rooms with amazingly comfortable beds. Its lounges are decorated with objects from historical local families and the view of the colourful mountain as you take your shower/breakfast/afternoon tea is spectacular.

Njaya Lodge Nkhata Bay, Lake Malawi
Perched on the edge of the tranquil Lake Malawi, this place dishes up great food, great service and great times. I celebrated my 21st birthday there in the middle of a diving course and I'll never forget it: the wonderful people and the effort they made with my birthday cake, their fabulous food, beautiful views; never wanting to leave and always wanting to go back. One day...

No menus, just blackboards
Las Pizarras Thames 2296, Buenos Aires
You never know what you're going to get here as chef Rodrigo goes out, sees what he can buy at the market and writes the day's specials on blackboards (pizarras) for you to choose. When you're sick of asado in Argentina, go here for a twist. Excellent food and atmosphere, you'll make friends with the waiter, chef and the next table. Be prepared to stay for more wine.

Groove the night away in Amsterdam
Bourbon Street Leidsekruisstraat 8, Amsterdam
This little jazz, soul, rock and blues bar probably has a bigger spot in Amsterdam guides these days, but it's well worth checking out for quality live music, no-nonsense service and drinking into the early hours. It's the type of bar where anything is possible; a guaranteed memorable night out.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

100-word story: Oblivion

Ryan kept fidgeting. There was still an hour to go. The queue was so long James didn’t see how it could be worth it. They got glimpses of it; heard the immortal words, “Don’t. Look. Down.” James wondered if it was the man on Jackson’s Thriller.
“Dad, wouldn’t it be amazing to be on the front? We should try! Let others pass to get the front.”
Later: “Dad, we have to leave our shoes! Brilliant!”
“Totally, Ryan.”
After their ride of 9 seconds, a free-falling into the dark, Ryan looked at his dad.
“Dad, wow, that was amazing! Want to go again?”
“Hell yeah!”

This story was brought to you from the prompt at Julia's Place. We had to include ...the queue was so long... 
100 words + prompt

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

100WCGU - Bummed

This flash fiction was brought to you by this picture prompt. Click on the photo to go and read more stories at Julia's Place. Comments welcome below!

“We admire your enthusiasm, David.”
“Thanks. I love this place. Grandpa was curator before the war, and Mum worked in fundraising before she had me. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity.”
“Ah, how long for?”
“Ages. But I been taking courses.”
“And visiting us of course.”
“Yes. Practising my photos and drawings. I got a photo on your website.”
“Indeed. Well, decision time. I’m sorry, but I think it’s a no.”
“Oh. Why?”
“Perhaps when a ticket selling job comes up you could apply, but after last month’s little mishap, I don’t think museum cleaner is for you.”
99 words, including title

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Visa Line

Visa Line

Behind the men behind desks fans whirred.
Akoko sat still, hands clasped to appear calm. Impossible, with war raging in the streets; her war at home with the man who said he loved her, but raped her.
“Akoko Magero. Desk four.”
Nineteen hours waiting. Legs numb. Heart pumping.
The man didn’t look up. He read her form with the face of someone who cared for nobody. He lifted his pen.
“Sir, please,” she whispered.
The pen made one line. She peered at the box. Could be a tick!
As the line was crossed and stamped red she fell away: from the chair, from hope.

This story was brought to you by the prompt at Julia's Place. We had to include 'as the line was crossed'. 
104 words. Click on the picture to read more entries and check out the 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Lucky Day

Another flash fiction post from the prompt at Julia's Place. The prompt this week was 
I don't believe it

Lucky Day

“I don’t believe it!”
“What, what don’t you believe?”
“Oh at last, after all those years toiling, some payback.”
“What? Come on, tell me. What’ve you got there?”
“What will I spend it on? Ooh, Jean, we could go on that cruise you we saw in Chat.
Jean ripped the piece of paper out of Mary’s hand.
“Oh, for god’s sake, Mary. It’s twenty-six pounds seventy they’re giving you back, not two thousand odd.”
“Wear your glasses, dear. Here.”