Surprises in Store

"As soon as Cataldo Barbara sees the violin, he practically faints.  Then he plays it, and there can be no more doubt: it's a Guarneri" The Voice of the Violin - Andrea Camilleri The great thing about visiting museums as eclectic as those on Genoa's Strada Nuova is that you're guaranteed some surprises. To gain … Continue reading Surprises in Store


Sea and Land

Back in my younger days my inner nerd was satisfied by hours spent on Sunday afternoons playing Dungeons & Dragons (coincidentally with the same George Mitchell mentioned in my last Merseyside post). One particular session comes back to me, as a combination of elements gave it added resonance. The Lichway was set at the extremity … Continue reading Sea and Land

Not so Green

The designer Wayne Hemingway was born in Morecambe, Lancashire at about the same time that I was born on the opposite coast.  In those days seaside towns were vibrant places with packed beaches, amusement parks, ice-cream, fish and chips and coffee bars.  For a younger me, Morecambe had something that Sunderland lacked; an aquarium that was … Continue reading Not so Green


The late 80's and early 90's saw Manchester's creative star in ascendancy, most noticeably on the music scene where Factory Records, The Hacienda, The Smiths, New Order, The Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets and more were part of an explosive mix.  Oasis.  The Verve.  Happy Mondays.  Even Take That drew it's members from satellite towns. Those … Continue reading Bastion

Son (Habana 50)

No, not as in a male child. Son as in the style of music that originated in Cuba of which Salsa is a derivative. Cigars and rum may be obvious Cuban exports, but when the Soviet Union collapsed the country lost a vital source of overseas income.  Tourism was encouraged as a means of generating … Continue reading Son (Habana 50)

Portico Quartet

Some years ago I came across the music of Jack Wylie, Duncan Bellamy, Milo Fitzpatrick and Nick Mulvey; a modern jazz sound which was given an exotic touch by Mulvey's choice of instrument - the hang.  Together they were known as The Portico Quartet until Mulvey (and then his replacement Keir Vine) left the band. … Continue reading Portico Quartet

Bologna Jazz

I mentioned in an earlier post the origins of the Portico Quartet's name, and really where else could they have been to acquire that moniker, for apart from the city's architectural signature it has hosted an annual jazz festival since 1958, making it even older than me! The city loves jazz.  On the Sunday that … Continue reading Bologna Jazz