"Wheels of Fortune" - riding around Greece on a wooden bike

"Wheels of Fortune" - riding around Greece on a wooden bike

Published in PrimoLife Magazine June 2017

In September 2016, I rode a wooden bike for 3 days through Athens and the Greek Islands. Jump in the saddle with me and explore this magnificent landscape in this most unusual way. 

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A ting, a pling, a thring and a ding: Learning to play the Harpsichord

A ting, a pling, a thring and a ding: Learning to play the Harpsichord

Published in PRIMOLife Magazine, Autumn 2016

Le Rouge stands against the wall, taking up almost its whole length. He is smaller than I imagined, delicate even, built from acacia wood and painted a dark warm red. Le Rouge is only 17 years old, but belongs to a family that can trace its roots back to the middle ages. He has lived his whole life in France, but travels frequently to perform on lit stages.

Le Rouge is a harpsichord and we are going to get to know one another.

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How YouTube Taught Met To Knit: A Christmas Yarn

How YouTube Taught Met To Knit: A Christmas Yarn

Published in PRIMOLife December 2015

A man shouts in terror as dirty fingers rake at his clothes. Frenzied, shambling ghouls moan with an ungodly hunger as they pile upon him, teeth bared. There is an agonized, terrified scream as teeth bite into living flesh, tendons are torn and blood spurts onto the ground. 

“Damn!” I gasp. “I dropped a stitch again!”

Human civilization as we know it has been destroyed, dead people have become terrifying zombies while the living are grimly hunted, and I can’t seem to keep my rows even. Don’t let those Granny’s fool you. Knitting, as it turns out, requires a lot of skill- especially if you watch TV at the same time.

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Anna's Adventures: Rock climbing in the Portuguese wilderness

Anna's Adventures: Rock climbing in the Portuguese wilderness

Published in PRIMOLife Magazine November 2015

I’m in a tough position and I can’t see a way out. My chalky fingertips are pressed hard into the rock. The knot at my waist grates against the wall, and my legs are zinging with tension. I look like a ninja mid fly-kick, splattered against the front of an unyielding cliff. It seems that every muscle in my body is flexed, straining to keep me perched in this unlikely position, and I’m burning energy fast. My right leg begins to ‘Elvis’, shake uncontrollably under the pressure and I know I have to make a move soon. I really, really don’t want to fall.

Rock climbing in the wilderness is well, exactly as tough as it looks.

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Anna's Adventures: Brewing beer on a 40°C day!

Anna's Adventures: Brewing beer on a 40°C day!

Published in PRIMOLife Magazine October 2015

It’s more than 40°C inside without a hit of a breeze, and I’m standing over a cauldron of bubbling broth, wrestling with what looks like a giant, hot tea-bag. Sweat pours off me as I press and squeeze the precious juices out of the sopping, heavy mass, labouring to get every last drop. My arms tremble with the fatigue. I need a beer.

And I’ll have to wait another eight weeks to get it.

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Anna's Adventures: Cooking authentic French cuisine

Anna's Adventures: Cooking authentic French cuisine

Published in PRIMOLife Magazine September 2015

“Turn it! Turn it!”

Oil spits out of the sizzling pan, splattering my white apron and everything in the vicinity. I stand back, wielding shiny kitchen tongs like Steve Irwin fending off a particularly aggressive snake. Amid the encouragement of my companions, I flip the excitable chicken pieces one by one.

I like to cook, but usually without an audience so I can hide the chaos, the panic, the improvising and the fact that I’ve used every single dish in the kitchen. Yet here I am, in the beautiful Parisian home of Paule Caillat, aka, a proper French cook.

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Anna's Adventures: A 70+ Year Old Camera + Darkroom Magic = The World's Slowest Selfie

Anna's Adventures: A 70+ Year Old Camera + Darkroom Magic = The World's Slowest Selfie

Published in PRIMOLife Magazine June 2015

Taking a picture with a persnickety 1950’s Linhof Technika camera is hard work, but when Kit, my friend and artist invited me to try out large format photography using a technique that is over one hundred years old, I couldn’t wait to get started.

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Just For Laughs: My First Attempt At Stand Up Comedy

Just For Laughs: My First Attempt At Stand Up Comedy

Published in PRIMOLife Magazine Winter Issue 2015

Within ten seconds I’ve used two of the foulest swear words in the English language.

It gets a laugh, and I get to stay on stage for a bit longer, which is a huge relief because if there is one thing more awful that realizing that you aren’t funny, it’s realizing that you aren’t funny in front of a live audience.  

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Surf's Up: In Which I Wipe Out, Drink Salt Water And Fall In Love With Surfing

Surf's Up: In Which I Wipe Out, Drink Salt Water And Fall In Love With Surfing

Published in PRIMOLife Magazine April 2015

I clear salt water out of my nose for the thousandth time, spit out a mouthful of sand and look around. My fellow beginners are in varying stages of surf: some unsteadily getting on their feet, some lying flat on their bellies, cruising in the whitewash, some wading back out into the line of breakers.

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Artistic Licence: A Luxurious Weekend In The South Of France

Artistic Licence: A Luxurious Weekend In The South Of France

Yves Saint Laurent, Brigitte Bardot, Pablo Picasso, Bernard Buffet…

Wait who? Although his name is little known today, Bernard Buffet was once one of France’s most wealthy and successful artists, critically acclaimed at home and abroad.

So what happened? Due perhaps to his fame and the resentment and jealousy of Picasso, Buffet suffered from a severe critical backlash in the 1960’s. Although he remained well-loved among the “ordinary people”, the art world firmly turned its back on him, right up until his death in 1999. Now more than 15 years later, there is proof that the world is re-discovering Buffet, and liking what it sees. 

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Mountain High, Yodel Low: One Unforgettable Week In Switzerland

Mountain High, Yodel Low: One Unforgettable Week In Switzerland

Before August of this year I’d never knowingly tasted a drop of Swiss wine, and I haven’t tasted one since. It’s not that I wouldn’t like to, it’s just that Switzerland only exports 1% of its yearly production so it’s not terribly easy to come by.

That’s Switzerland in a nutshell: full of interesting treasures which it is happy to share, but which you will have to go there to enjoy. Luckily, I got a whole week to explore some of this small but remarkable country. 

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French Kiss: Popping The Cork On The Champagne Region of France

French Kiss: Popping The Cork On The Champagne Region of France

It was Rob Lowe who first introduced me to champagne, way back in the early 90’s. “Actually all champagne is French; it's named after the region. Otherwise it's sparkling white wine,” he smiled knowingly at me as the character Benjamin Kane in Wayne’s World. This guy clearly knew the good things in life, and the allure and prestige of the exotic French drink stayed with me. Since moving to France in 2011, I have certainly quaffed large quantities of the bubbly stuff, but I’ll admit that my knowledge of it has not vastly increased. I knew that it was an appellation d’origine contrôlée product, which means only sparkling white produced within a very strictly defined area could legally be called “champagne”, and that it was good for spraying on your teammates when you had won a Formula One Grand Prix, but that was about it. So you can understand my excitement when almost 20 years after my Wayne’s World initiation, I found myself whizzing on a high speed train towards Rheims, the capital of the Champagne-Ardenne region.

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The Sweet Science: Learning To Box, And To Take It On The Chin

The Sweet Science: Learning To Box, And To Take It On The Chin

Getting punched in the face is a weird feeling. Punching someone in the face is also a weird feeling, particularly when you aren’t angry or in danger. These were just two of the many things I learned when I began to box. In an era when One Punch deaths dominate news headlines and we drink ginger tea to boost our mental performance, boxing is generally seen as old fashioned, barbaric and downright smelly. This is a great shame, because as a comprehensive cardio and strength training workout, combined with discipline, strategy, and combat, it is one of the most rewarding and thrilling sports I’ve ever done.

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