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VineAutumnNever before has wine been so fashionable. But wait, is there not a paradox here! In our world of digital interconnectivity and instant satisfaction, wine may in fact be the ultimate counter-trending product.

It takes the best part of a decade for a vine to produce grapes that can be used for making wine. It often takes far more than this for a talented oenologist to reach his or her peak after many patient years of experience, tasting and experimentation.

lisbonmapSo soon after Christmas it seemed almost indulgent, but as I had my foodie daughter Vicky staying, I decided to book us a food tour with Taste of Lisboa. Well, I can tell you this was one of the best food tours I have ever been on, tasty and fun, writes James Mayor.*

Our tour began at the end of the 28 tram line, outside the gates to the Cemiterio dos Prazeres, the cemetery where anyone who is anyone in Lisbon is buried.

LucyPepper`How not to starve in Portugal` by Lucy Pepper, a book review by James Mayor

I recently read the best book in English that I have ever read about living in Portugal, or rather I ate it up, practically in a single gargantuan sitting. `How not to starve in Portugal` is by Lucy Pepper, an English writer and artist who has been living in Portugal for the past seventeen years and tasting every Portuguese dish on and off the menu.

This is by far the most hilarious account of `living abroad´ in any country I have yet come across. Please don`t read it on public transport, you will certainly miss your stop and possibly also be arrested for uncontrollable laughter.

HarryMeghanWhether we are monarchists or in a favour of a republic, the announcement of Prince Harry`s engagement to Meghan Markle is definite cause for a little champagne! The British and the Americans have long enjoyed a ´special relationship´, sharing the pleasures of language, culture and friendship. Recently, with first Brexit and then the election of Donald Trump, this relationship has however appeared threatened by intolerance and isolationism.

PortoFilmIf there is a city to whose seductions it is impossible to resist, then that city must be Porto. With Gabe Klinger`s eponymous film, the city now has its screen version of a love affair.

In ´Porto´ two young foreigners, Jake and Mati, cross paths for an intense one-night stand, before continuing along their separate ways. Jake, a 26-year old loner – and we are sometimes inclined to feel looser too - catches a first glimpse of Mati in the train and from then on, she`s under his skin.

VineAutumnIn his new film, Ce qui nous lie, Cédric Klapisch, the director of L’Auberge Espagnole, takes us behind the scenes of a Burgundy wine property with a moving tale of terroir and succession. With its scenes of wine tasting and grape treading, as well as some lovely filming of the Burgundy wine country, this rich and sensual film is a must for wine lovers.

The film opens as Jean returns to the family wine property in the famous Burgundy village of Meursault. He has been travelling the world, an absence of several years precipitated by the need to put some space between himself and his family, which has taken him as far as a vineyard in Australia where he has been living with his Argentinian girlfriend and their small boy.

spanishflagSo they’ve gone ahead and done it! I’m referring of course to today’s vote by the Catalonian parliament to declare Catalonia’s independence from Spain. This vote, besides ignoring the Spanish constitution, also appears to go against common sense and indeed to defy the very course of European history, writes James Mayor.

The issue is a sensitive one, to put it mildly. Very mildly. Any Scotsman will tell you what it is like to feel that you are living on the ‘wrong’ side of the border, a citizen of a geographical entity condescended to by a larger and more powerful neighbour, while you feel proud of your specific cultural identity and traditions.

ScalesBandWPortugal is decidedly a land of contrast. The country which over 500 years ago pioneered globalization and which today continues to innovate with its sophisticated system of Multibanco ATMs can equally, on occasion, appear to repudiate liberal values.

A single European country is today stealing the limelight with an economic comeback based on tourism and foreign investment, much of it high-end: Portugal. However, in Portugal’s most hip city, Porto, an appeal court recently upheld a light sentence for two men who attacked a woman with a nail-spiked club, driven to this violence by her adultery.

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