My Best of Northwest (London)

I’ve lived on a big hill in northwest London for the last two years, first in Belsize Park and then partway between Hampstead and Golders Green. It’s a lovely part of town, bustling but peaceful, and a bit hoity-toity (but fortunately the views of the London skyline, and Hampstead Heath’s tangled, leafy expanse are both…

Day Hike: Aviemore to the Pools of Dee Along the Lairig Ghru

One extraordinarily sunny, warm (dare I say, “hot”?) August day, I took a short train ride from Inverness, Scotland to the charmingly-named Aviemore. From there, I walked about a mile and a half along the road and into Rothiemurchus Forest, part of a massive estate at the foot of the Cairngorms mountain range and which gives…

5-Day Wander: Inverness

“We lost your car.” I suppressed an eye roll and forced an insincere giggle as I humored what I thought were the late-night flirtations of the sixty-something year-old ticket-taker and tried to edge past him toward the waiting sleeper train. “No, really.” No, really: my train car was bust, and not only would I and…

If you listen closely, you’ll hear the Brits go “ribbit”

“Frogs.” A not-very-polite-or-modern but surprisingly well-used British nickname for the French. Over the years I lived in France, I came to know the relatively-harmless, mostly-unreciprocated contempt my British friends and coworkers had for the French. Here’s the thing, though. I’ve now lived in the UK almost as long as I lived in France, and I…

Jolly Good: 5 British Expressions I Love (and 2 I Hate)

OK, so I laugh derisively whenever one of my coworkers, who’s basically an old Englishman trapped inside a young Englishman’s body, says “jolly good”… but secretly I find it a little endearing. British expressions are excellent day-to-day entertainment for this expat, and I’ve even adopted a few of them (with mixed results). Here are just five of…

One Giant Mud Puddle: Getting Lost in the Lake District

England is not known for its mountains, especially when compared to the rest of the UK. Before I visited the Lake District, I pictured gently ambling among low lakes and rolling hills. The first indication that I might be mistaken was the expression on the Derwentwater Hostel manager’s face when I described the route I…

One-Week Wander: Mallorca

I love to be outdoors, but this love (and my overall spirits) dim in cold, wet January and February. A few weeks ago, I found my shivering, pale self researching the destinations closest to London that might offer a tiny bit of mid-winter sun and relatively dry walking trails, at a budget price and with…

My Muddy Valentine

What did you do for Valentine’s Day? Candle-lit dinner? Chocolates? Roses? Hurriedly arranging to leave the city so you wouldn’t be lying when you told someone you’d been on a few dates with that you already had plans?  Ahem.  The “Night Riviera” train leaves London Paddington at 11:45pm several times a week and travels the…

Time Travel: Spring 2014 – Hiking the Gorges du Verdon

I’ve sung the praises of France’s wonderful network of hiking trails before– it’s one of the things I miss most about living there. But I haven’t yet shared the five days I spent on one of the most glorious of those paths: the GR4, through the Gorges du Verdon in southeastern France. Le throwback… Sometimes…