Amada Restaurant, Philadelphia

For a fantastic version of tapas, try Amada, a restaurant in Philadelphia. I’ve had many great meals here, both lunch and supper. The service is always outstanding. The wine list very good as well.

Reservations are a must on most evenings, especially at the weekend. The place can be quite crowded, just like those tapas places in Spain. The menu ranges from the thinly sliced ham and manchego cheese to creatively seasoned meats on skewers, to specials like an empanada that my wife wishes was permanently on the menu. Don’t forget the wine! The sangria is tasty, the Albariño’s refreshing, and there are many to choose from. This is a “don’t miss” type of place if you’re in Philadelphia.

Published in: on September 26, 2008 at 7:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Elfreth’s Alley, Philadelphia, USA

A typical American Colonial street can be seen by taking a stroll down Elfreth’s Alley in Philadelphia.

The houses here are typical of the early 1700’s. Each one has it’s own history and many are listed as historic sites. Elfreth’s Alley is located just off Second Street, between Race and Market Streets. Go slow or you’ll miss the sign marking the alley. Walking tours are given and the guides provide details about the people who lived and worked in these homes. I came here to conjure up some of the early American atmosphere that will be featured in my novel MacMillan Judge, Privateer. MacMillan’s father is a Quaker who left Philadelphia for a farm farther west. However, MacMillan himself works on the Philadelphia waterfront, which in colonial times was only a short jaunt from Elfreth’s Alley. Of course, while perusing the homes here, I spotted this comfortable feline taking his afternoon nap in the sunshine.

Yes, he has the right idea: lunch followed by nap.


My earliest exposure to stories of survival was probably Robinson Crusoe. I never planned on writing tales like that, but as fate would have it, I’ve written several. There’s a scene in An Island Away in which Captain Nathan Beck is adrift in the Caribbean for nearly a week. He ultimately comes ashore in Savaneta, Aruba. Another one is in MacMillan Judge, Privateer and will be published in the future. Young Mr. Judge lands in Spain.

In the modern age, it’s hard to imagine being shipwrecked on a desert island, or lost at sea, or abandoned in a jungle somewhere. But it does happen. There was the tragic case of the scuba divers left behind, as well as incidents of plane crashes where a survivor managed to find his way out. I took the opportunity to watch a few episodes of the television programs on this subject. There are a couple of guys who are survival specialists who do everything from build a fire in the rain forrest to ice fish in the arctic. It’s quite impressive and a testament to human ingenuity that they can use their opposable thumbs and brains to come up with food and shelter.

Of course, the real solution is to avoid disaster in the first place. As the old saying goes: prior preparation prevents poor performance. It seems that some people go aboard boats, airplanes, or simply walk into the woods with neither the equipment nor skills to deal with what awaits them. This is simply idiotic. I’m not sure why people volunteer for misery. They apparently can’t get enough. Of course, the resources of the nation are then mobilized to rescue them. I’m short on sympathy in this case, especially when the rescuers have to risk their lives to save someone who did something moronic in the first place. The cost? Forget about it.

Anyway, like I said in an earlier post, fiction is a place where things can be pondered without anyone getting hurt. The real world on the other hand will inevitably teach the lesson you didn’t plan on learning. Be careful out there.

Published in: on September 24, 2008 at 1:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Layers of History

I’ve been doing research for various writing projects and couldn’t help but mine through those old photographs again. I found this one of Rome, taken in the early 20th Century. On the far left is the old forum.

There has to be 2000 or more years of history in this image. There are churches, a triumphal arch, remnants of palaces and newer buildings. Amazing. One of the great things about writing stories is doing the research. I always end up learning things I never expected. That’s how I happened upon this photograph. While looking for something else, it popped up. Of course, it’s also why it takes so long to do the research. Inevitably, you get sidetracked into areas where you linger for the sheer pleasure of knowing the details. Anyway… back to work.

Published in: on September 23, 2008 at 5:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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