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Harry and Meghan - travel broadens the mind

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.

Film review: 'Porto' - a love affair

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.

'Ce qui nous lie' - human fermentation in Cédric Klapisch wine film

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.

The Catalonian parliament’s vote for independence defies history

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.

Women attacked by a medieval court sentence in Portugal

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.

Walking in the Douro with the local firemen

duoroterracesEvery year, sometime around the end of the grape harvest, a group of people gather at a fire station in the heart of the Douro. This year we were over 130 participants on the Provesende vineyard walk to support the local fire service.

The walk’s organizer, Paulo, a talented graphic designer who also works in the village artefacts shop, ticks my name off his list and hands me a bag branded ‘Bombeiros de Provesende’ (Provesende Fire Service) which contains a bottle of water and a green cap. My next call is a trestle table behind which a couple of women fire fighters are standing. They hand me a steaming mug of coffee and a large ham roll: breakfast.

Five Douro wines to drink this Autumn

VineAutumnAlthough those of us fortunate enough to live in Portugal can be forgiven for imagining we are still in summer - I am writing in the last week of September - the evenings are drawing in and we inevitably are thinking more stew than salad, dreaming of long walks in the crisp fall air and cosy evenings in front of a log fire.

But what should we be drinking?! Here are a few suggestions from the Douro.

Under our feet in Lisbon

calcadaAn excellent exhibition, organized by the Museu de Lisboa, is about to enter its final week. I apologize to readers for not having reported on it earlier, I have been in Porto and the Douro Valley.

‘Under our feet’ can be seen in the Torreão Poente on the Praça do Comércio until the 24th of September. I always like visiting this exhibition space because some of the rooms look out over the River Tagus. Standing facing the first floor windows it is not difficult, if we close our eyes a little, to imagine the battle ship of some great power slowly approaching the city with all sails hoisted.