Category Archives: Personal

Goodbye Family Blog – Hello Travel Blog

Some years ago I set up a blog for my extended family:  I thought it was a really good idea as my family is full of people who can write really well. Continue reading

Death and Art

I recently wrote a Tweet — one of those little phrases on Twitter — which I thought was rather clever:  “Don’t read a book. Read an author”.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a flood of emails congratulating me on my wisdom or asking what I meant.  As with most tweets, I got no reaction, which begs the question “What’s Twitter for?”, a question I tried to answer in this article some time ago. Continue reading

Mega Image Take Over Bucharest

This article also appeared in Romanian on

My son Luca is nine years old and he’s obsessed by the supermarket chain Mega Image. If you ask him “What would you like to do today?” his face lights up and he says the same thing, time and time again: “Go to Mega Image!”.

When we get to one of the outlets of the rapidly expanding chain of small supermarkets that are dotted around Bucharest, Luca gets to work: he patiently waits by a check-out counter until there is a pause between customers and then he asks innocently “do you have any cards that the other customers don’t want?” They are unable to refuse his charms. Continue reading

Portuguese Ticket Inspectors

Last month I was enjoying the sun in Portugal. Here’s what happened when I was leaving… Continue reading

The Difficulty of Writing

Everyone can write and yet but there are very few writers around.  Many people can write funny letters, fluent emails and good reports but when it comes to writing articles most people can’t deliver.  This is not to say that many people can’t write well – it’s just that the process of writing with confidence is much harder to achieve than you think, and  few people have learned the basic rules of writing an article (something that I would like to explain here soon). Continue reading

The Wrong Way to Run a Blog

Inspired by the BBC’s new Sherlock Holmes serial, I have decided to turn our company blog into a personal blog. Instead of monthly updates about various issues I will write more frequent posts about what’s going on around me. Continue reading

Why Not Give Up Alcohol?

img_02077Why not give up alcohol for the new year? Alcohol is a poison: two bottles of spirits would be a fatal dose for most people. It also makes you fat, smells bad to non drinkers (such as children) and ends up costing a fortune.

But could you do it? Could you survive 2012 without a taste of beer, wine or something stronger? Can a modern adult have fun without booze? What would your friends and family say? Continue reading

Why Romania?

Shop front in Brasov

Shop front in Brasov

This article was translated by Iulia Marusca and published in the Hotnews  blog “Contributors”.


I’m reading a book that has helped me crack a mystery that has troubled me for 20 years: why do I live and work in Romania?  People have been asking me this question since 1990 and my answers – “the people…the warmth…the challenges…” – always sound a bit unconvincing.  I am strangely unable to explain what it is that keeps me here.

Anthony Bourdain, author of Kitchen Confidential, which is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read, gave me the answer even though he doesn’t mention Romania once in the book.  He describes the madness of investing in the restaurant business in New York City: Continue reading

Cycling in Bucharest

It was an odd little car, very small, rather like a Smart car but without the style. Maybe it was a Russian version, or Indian.  But what I was sure about was that the car was registered in Bulgaria (the ”BG” sticker was a dead giveaway). Continue reading

What’s Twitter For?

twitterOver the last year I’ve become a keen user of Twitter.  My friends and family make disparaging remarks such as “Twitter is for self promotional egomaniacs” and “Why don’t you use Facebook like the rest of us?”  But I don’t mind such criticism as most of those who make them have either not used Twitter or are not suited to it.

Everyone’s heard of Twitter but not everyone knows what it is. A two word definition is that it’s a “Micro Blog”, in other words a means of publishing short statements.  Its unique feature is that you can only write 140 characters (about a line and a half of text on a Word document). And that’s it. The discipline and challenge of Twitter is to Continue reading