Elizabethan Oaks


Hatfield Park in Hertfordshire (not to be confused with its namesake Hatfield Forest in Essex) is home to an extraordinary number of venerable old oak trees, many of them believed to be over 1200 years old. A walk around the park might be described as a tour of the Stations of the Oak. Continue reading “Elizabethan Oaks”

Frames of reference

A Wonderful Web

spider 1

There’s a spider at the window in the centre of its web waiting for aphids. It has constructed the web in the perfect place, stretched like a cloche to protect the lettuce growing on the kitchen windowsill. Maybe it thinks it’s Webbs Wonderful. In fact it’s actually Red Dazzle from a Psychedelic Salad Kit. Those are Rainbow Radish growing alongside. Continue reading “A Wonderful Web”

Frames of reference

The Touré-Raichel Collective

This is a lovely story of a chance meeting that led to the creation of some beautiful music. Vieux Farka Touré and Idan Raichel explore their common ground between Mali and Israel. I’ve been playing The Tel Aviv Session non-stop in my workshop; a gorgeous, improvised soundtrack to our recent heatwave. It’s almost as good as the magnificent Talking Timbuktu, the 1994 collaboration between Vieux’s father, Ali Farka Touré and Ry Cooder. There’s also a new album by Vieux Farka Touré, Mon Pays, and I’m looking forward to seeing him perform live at this weekend’s Open East Festival.

Frames of reference

Gnawa Studies


The 16th Gnawa Festival in Essaouira on Morocco’s Atlantic coast is a largely free four-day celebration of the music of the Gnawa, what is perhaps the oldest trance music in the world, the root note of inner transportation and sufi trance that attracts hundreds of thousands of Moroccans and intrepid international visitors to Essaouira each June, over the weekend of the full moon. Continue reading “Gnawa Studies”

Frames of reference

Jerusalem, Topography & Typography


Last Christmas I was given two books that I found inspirational in different ways: Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem and Simon Sebag Montefiore’s Jerusalem the Biography.

To summarise briefly, the first book has become my cooking bible, and is a testament to inspirational cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians, and the second book reveals the city’s complex history and the sources of controversy that have plagued her continuously. Continue reading “Jerusalem, Topography & Typography”

Frames of reference