If you Google “London food courts” you’ll get a pretty extensive, if slightly arbitrary list of places to eat, from street markets to Harrods Food Hall to individual restaurants. The term “Food Court” or “Food Hall” in London is yet to take ownership of its true meaning, as it has done in Singapore for instance, where the Hawker culture is well defined and actually emerged as a result of the street food traders being moved off the streets and into covered, repurposed spaces such as car parks, so as to keep the city looking neat & tidy.

The Island of 8am happy hours, legal drink driving, Cutters and Mount Gay Rum. We arrived on this boozy island on Jan 1st, already laden with UK spawned megalithic hangovers, still lingering after an exceptional NYE in London. The kind of hangover that you feel may well last the entire holiday, if not for the rest of your life, forcing you to accept feeling like a bucket of pigs swill for all eternity.

All cities have their own unique set of smells and sounds, often not entirely pleasant, but always evocative of a place and a time, an urban olfactory “fingerprint” that defines every visit.

Our two days in Valencia were imprinted by the scent of honeysuckle from the tree lined boulevards. In fact its the smell of the Jacaranda tree, the purple blossom of which envelopes the streets with its wonderful perfume. We are visiting in late April, which is obviously Valencia’s more aromatic month as we hear that the old town within the walls can get very “piquant” during the hotter months!

Penang

Holy hell it was hot in Penang. We’d been away for some time by now and the heat had never really got to us. This place was in a sweat league all of its own, and on occasion knocked the wind right out of us leaving us gasping on the sidewalk like beached Guppies.

My only previous knowledge of Penang was from a friend who went to film a documentary there years ago, as it was then the home of top quality plastic surgery. Great for boob jobs and sex changes.

When we are given less time to explore a place, Px and I tend to go all out on the box ticking and generally achieve much more than if we have a few days in a place.

With two days and nights in SP, staying with Shen, our chef friend we’d met earlier in the year at a street food event in UAE, (there’s another story there, but not for now), and my 800th birthday to celebrate, we had a lot of ground to cover.