Heaven feels like Pumpkin Soup

Today, I am full of holiday cheer. Holiday cheer, in case you didn’t know, is extremely buoyant. Which is terribly useful just now, considering Scotland welcomed us home with sheets of freezing rain. It’s so dark out I’m not even sure the sun rose this morning. On days like this, it’s crucial to make little … Continue reading

National Portrait Gallery of Scotland

On 1 December, something magical will happen. The Portrait Gallery reopens, to much fanfare I am assured. For the last few years the Gallery has been shut for renovations. While they were much-needed and I can hardly begrudge them the update, I eagerly anticipate its return to my weekend rotation of nerdy outtings.

Thanksgiving Treats

I love any holiday revolving around food. In celebration of this truly awesome day, I’m wallowing in past delicacies and the delights yet to come. Particularly the discoveries I made in Sharjah, and a little bit of traditional feasting too. A meditation on great foods. I know what you’re thinking. Who spends a morning thinking … Continue reading

Sharjah in rearview

This trip has been positively eye-opening. While I may leave Sharjah imminently, this experience has left me enlivened, positively brimming with exciting ideas. Thanks so much to @rupertbu @bodour @nouranoman @kalimat_ books and the Department of Culture & Information for their hospitality and support. Thanks to my drivers and tour guide for their wonderful insights … Continue reading

Sharjah Art Museum & Maraya Art Centre

The first thing almost anyone here will tell you about Sharjah is its immense investment in culture. The city practically oozes with museums, galleries and events. There is a huge concerted effort to celebrate culture and art here. In fact, it’s a major tenant of the Royal family’s work. His highness is a prolific writer. … Continue reading

Sharjah: Comics & Graphic Novels

Britain is notoriously squeamish when it comes to illustrated work. Despite delivering excellent artists and writers like Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and a bevy of other superstars – they still lack a mainstream following or any significant literary respect. Whether that’s the cause of or effect behind the cagey, insular and incredibly risk-averse market is … Continue reading

The Amazing Shobhaa De

The last two days have been amazing – and full of outstanding women. One of them is the excellent Shobhaa De – an Indian writer and broadcaster, and one firecracker of a speaker. She was on the outstanding Women in Fiction panel at #shjibf with Kate Mosse , Oumaima Abdullah al-Khamis (Saudi Arabia) and Dr … Continue reading

Exploring Sharjah

Today I went exploring near my hotel. The city of Sharjah is centred on a large lagoon, so almost everywhere are promenade waterfronts and high rises. Next door to our hotel there is a public park full of palm trees, all in impeccable rows. As I wandered in this garden, hopping from shady spot to … Continue reading

Sharjah’s Oasis

It is late and I am buzzing. Suffice to say we went to the desert for a pseudo-traditional evening – including incense, henna, a banquet on a Persian rug and possibly the best doughnuts I have ever eaten. I am sure there will be photos in due course. Probably of me trying to look regal … Continue reading

Sharjah Day One: Feasting & Wafa’ Tarnowska

Today I am brimming with ideas. Artistic, political, cultural, social – my mind is racing from such complex stimuli. I’m honestly having trouble keeping up with myself. Once I’ve digested the big thoughts I’ll let you know, but for now, a brief note from last night. First off, there was a brilliant feast at Al … Continue reading