The capital with the eye of an expat

Who’s Margaret?

‘We’ve never been to Margaret Island.’ It was a simple statement of fact, not a complaint. My many-time visitors had never, ever, been down to Margitsziget. I’ll admit to being a little taken aback. How can you come to Budapest and NOT visit the island in the middle of the Danube?

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Kids and what they can teach you

I have issues. My issues have issues. But I have no issue. Don’t you just love the English language?

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Tut-tuts no more at The English Garden

Sam Cartwright arrived in Budapest in 2002 with two small kids and a husband. Fed up with life on the hamster wheel in Liverpool, she didn’t think twice about moving to Hungary when her husband, Andy, got a job at the Central European University ...

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The capital with the eye of an expat

Isten hozott

Many lifetimes ago in Edinburgh one Sunday, I made for the nearest cathedral to get Mass. I thought all cathedrals were Roman Catholic. I knew no different until the giveaway – the tell – that part of the service where I realised that the ...

The capital with the eye of an expat

How about them apples?

Way before I learned to appreciate a glass of wine, cider was my drink of choice. I’d get particularly excited when friends came back from Normandy with 750ml bottles of the local cider bearing the label methode traditionallee. Clear. Crisp. Delicious.

The capital with the eye of an expat

Buildings tell tales

I fell in love with Budapest the first time I visited. I was gobsmacked by its wrecked beauty, the vestige of former glory that still clung to the cracked facades and dilapidated courtyards.

The capital with the eye of an expat

A way out, one gherkin at a time

As we launch into 2022, I’ve shelved New Year’s resolutions in favour of what I’m calling life resolutions. Time has been Covidised. It’s taken on a whole new meaning. 2021 alternated between feeling like a month or a decade depending on my mood. One ...

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Giving without a thought of getting

This time last year the world (me included) was going mad shopping online. People seemed to be making a concerted, albeit subconscious, effort to make up for not being able to travel home. To reach out and be closer to friends and family who ...

The capital with the eye of an expat

The fifth province

I’ve often heard of Ireland being described as the 51st state, given her close connections with the USA. Back in 2019, in a survey conducted by the US Census Bureau, nearly 10%, some 30 million Americans, identified as having Irish ancestry. Given that Ireland’s ...

The capital with the eye of an expat

Guising, mumming and souling

Hallowe’en is just around the corner. In Ireland recently, I commented on the huge uptake of this once pagan holiday. I can’t remember a time when I saw so many houses decorated. The place is awash with white cotton cobwebs, lifesize figures of witches ...

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Skinful: The fruit of her own doing

Of the four quotations on the opening page of Robyn Flemming’s forthcoming book “Skinful: A Memoir of Addiction”, the one by Joseph Campbell moved me most: “Your life is the fruit of your own doing.” Had I asked myself at 15 where I’d be ...

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Where there’s a need…

One of the silver linings in this whole COVID-19 phenomenon is that we’re all slightly more aware of the fortunes and misfortunes of others. Life as we know it came to a standstill and is now limping forward, trying to regain some semblance of ...

Translating a need

COVID-19 has brought out the best in us and the worst in us. After five months of lockdowns and reopenings, be they full or partial, we’ve begun to adjust to the new normal. But our world is divided.

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Ireland in Hungary

The internet has probably been the biggest game-changer for diplomacy since Lord Palmerston heralded the first telegram as the death of diplomacy back in the 1850s.

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What to give this Christmas?

2020 is a year that many of us can’t wait to see the back of. It’s a year in which we’ve had front-row seats to a series of travesties as our elected representatives have done one silly thing after another. It doesn’t much matter ...

The capital with the eye of an expat

The fifth province

I’ve often heard of Ireland being described as the 51st state, given her close connections with the USA. Back in 2019, in a survey conducted by the US Census Bureau, nearly 10%, some 30 million Americans, identified as having Irish ancestry. Given that Ireland’s ...

The capital with the eye of an expat

Adding some Scottish to the mix

French philosopher Voltaire is reputed to have said "We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation". Presumably he was talking about the French. Some three centuries later, the British in Hungary are looking in that direction too, this time for ideas on ...