Notes on…

Time and Twitter seemed to stop

After five days of being snowed in, awe and wonder starts to wear off

15 December 2018 9:00 am

It took three hours for cabin fever to set in. Last Christmas, snowed in at the Oxfordshire homestead, my brother…

Light fantastic: Shirazeh Houshiary’s east window

St Martin-in-the-Fields: the ‘Church of the Ever Open Door’

8 December 2018 9:00 am

St Martin’s really did once stand in the fields, just as nearby Haymarket was a market selling hay. But the…

It is the sky that dominates on the Isle of Grain

The Isle of Grain

1 December 2018 9:00 am

Perched on the edge of the Medway about 15 miles from Rochester is the Isle of Grain, a mass of…

Friendly and modest: Patricia Highsmith

In defence of Patricia Highsmith

24 November 2018 9:00 am

A new play, Switzerland, which opened in the West End this month, seems to have demonised Patricia Highsmith once again.…

The defeat of Boudica is believed to have been fought on Watling Street

The Roman road that came to define Britain

17 November 2018 9:00 am

All roads lead to Rome, the saying goes. Well, all roads except for the Roman road of Watling Street, which…

Everything always tastes so much better in a car

The guilty pleasure of the McDonald’s drive-thru

10 November 2018 9:00 am

My wife and I have a set routine after landing back at Gatwick. We collect our bags, clear customs and…

St Peter-on-the-Wall, one of England’s oldest churches

The Dengie Hundred

3 November 2018 9:00 am

J. A. Baker, an arthritic and short-sighted birdwatcher from Chelmsford, compared the British wilderness to ‘the goaded bull at bay,…

Parson Hawker in c. 1869

The beauty – and eccentric parsons – of Cornwall’s wild north-east coast

27 October 2018 9:00 am

The first time I encountered Morwenstowe on Cornwall’s wild north-west coast I was alone. It was early spring and the…

Tricks of the trade…

Notes on Davenports Magic Shop, an emporium for serious conjurors

20 October 2018 9:00 am

It’s a very fitting place for a magic shop. Hidden away in the maze of pedestrian tunnels that lead from…

St Peter-on-the-Wall, one of England’s oldest churches

Break out the daiquiris, home bars are back in vogue

13 October 2018 9:00 am

When I mention to people that I have written a book about home bars, the most common response is, ‘my…

Mountain spa: Plombières-les-Bains

Discovering Thomas Mann by motorbike

6 October 2018 9:00 am

In Thomas Mann’s astonishing novel The Magic Mountain the indolent young Hans Castorp visits his brave, terminally ill soldier cousin…

From dirty old town... to New Age nirvana

The Yorkshire town that’s gone from dirty old buildings to New Age nirvana

29 September 2018 9:00 am

Bernard Ingham once told a story about a reporter from the Financial Times who went to cover an election in…

Pete Conrad, one half of the second Apollo 12 team, on the moon in 1969

Second best: Why runners up are more interesting than those who come first

22 September 2018 9:00 am

Who was the second prime minister? Everyone knows Robert Walpole was the first. Firsts get all the fame and glory.…

There’s a reason Unst is called the island above all others

15 September 2018 9:00 am

‘I’d like a copy of the Times,’ said the visitor from the south. ‘Yesterday’s or today’s?’ the shopkeeper asked. ‘Today’s,…

Pye Green tower looms over the landscape

Tales of UFOs and mysterious big cats come as standard in Cannock Chase

8 September 2018 9:00 am

Cannock Chase is the long, low range of hills that’s visible to your right as you drive north up the…

The power plant before its makeover

Battersea Power Station deserves its glossy makeover – but I’ll miss its crumbling glamour

1 September 2018 9:00 am

Battersea Power Station once generated nearly a fifth of London’s power. It must have hummed and clanked almost as much…

Let’s go fly a kite...

The highs – and lows – of learning to fly a kite

25 August 2018 9:00 am

I’ve flown only three kites in my life. My stepfather bought me the first. I remember seeing him from a…

Tilbury Docks seen from across the river

Tilbury Docks, where cranes meet Joseph Conrad

18 August 2018 9:00 am

The great grey river stretched into the horizon. The sun was big and low in the sky. The air was…

Church Walk: short, simple, unpretentious

British street names: short, simple and unpretentious

11 August 2018 9:00 am

You know where you are with a British street name. I don’t mean literally. I mean there’s a tacit humility…

Lofty ambition: The High Line public park

The perfect way to spend two days in New York

4 August 2018 9:00 am

In Britain I never drink cocktails, but on arrival in New York it has become a ritual that my first…

In name only: Hastings’ beautiful Old Town

Hastings is pretty – but it’s the people who make it special

28 July 2018 9:00 am

Kevin Boorman loves Hastings, and his enthusiasm is infectious. He was born here, he’s lived here all his life and…

Breaking the bank: The impregnable BoE

How easy is it to break into the Bank of England?

21 July 2018 9:00 am

‘Safe as the Bank of England.’ So goes the old phrase. And yes, with walls 8ft thick, the Old Lady…

Furry foe: Don’t get within spitting distance

Alpacas – the latest must-have wedding accessory

14 July 2018 9:00 am

Of all the window displays in Amsterdam this spring there was just one that stopped me in my tracks. I…

Guests of honour: Just don’t let kids do this

Tip the staff – and don’t bitch by the pool: how to be the perfect house guest

7 July 2018 9:00 am

Come to our house in France, say generous friends, come to Italy, come fishing. ‘How wonderful, what shall we bring?’…

Girl power – or groupthink in written form?

Who really wants to read feminist children’s books?

30 June 2018 9:00 am

A friend of mine who commissions book reviews has added a sub-category to the list of titles coming up: ‘femtrend’,…