Notes on…

For ever France: the Abbaye Saint-Michel

Abbaye Saint-Michel, a little corner of England that’s forever France

10 February 2018 9:00 am

‘A little corner of England which is for ever France, irreclaimably French.’ That is how the Catholic priest Monsignor Ronald…

A nose for trouble: the beagle

Playful, adorable – and with a real nose for trouble: In praise of the beagle

3 February 2018 9:00 am

Harvey’s finest moment, he would tell you, was the chicken kiev. I’d just made the garlic butter and inserted it…

Superfood: Salty shellfish straight from the sea

The salty charms of Leigh-on-Sea

27 January 2018 9:00 am

I have fallen in love with the c2c, a whisker of a train that is never delayed. It operates between…

No strings: padel is played with a solid racquet

Padel power! But will this crazy new sport ever be a hit?

20 January 2018 9:00 am

When we arrived, we discovered that our villa had a padel court. Few of us had seen one before and…

Canals and calm: Enjoying life in the slow lane

Britain’s real-life canals are as mystical and marvellous as Philip Pullman’s books

13 January 2018 9:00 am

Philip Pullman’s latest missal, La Belle Sauvage, once again features the boat-dwelling Gyptians. Rough and honourable, they emerge from the…

A cure for wanderlust: 23 hours in economy

Spending 23 hours in economy class will cure anyone’s wanderlust

6 January 2018 9:00 am

For some reason, I decided to go to the other side of the world for Christmas. I may never do…

Forman smokes wild salmon, too — for a price

Why smoked salmon doesn’t taste anything like it should

16 December 2017 9:00 am

I’m just about old enough to remember when smoked salmon was a rare treat. Then, around 1986 or 1987, suddenly…

The Watford Locks on the Grand Union Canal

The truth about The Watford Gap

9 December 2017 9:00 am

In a shallow dip between two unremarkable Northamptonshire hills you will find a road, a motorway, a railway and a…

Improbable: a Sri Lanka grey hornbill

Forget temples and tea – Sri Lanka is all about its birds 

2 December 2017 9:00 am

Standing in sweaty silence for an hour on a precipitous sliver of muddy footpath above a waterfall may not be…

The best kind of poem: England on two wheels

The English countryside on two wheels is like the best kind of poem

25 November 2017 9:00 am

No seat belts. No airbags. Just air, and coming at you as fast as you like. Motorcycling shouldn’t be allowed,…

Much fun: Usain Bolt and Wenlock the mascot

Which town directly inspired the revival of the Olympics? Clue: it’s not in Greece

18 November 2017 9:00 am

There were two mascots for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. One was called Mandeville, obviously because Stoke Mandeville’s games…

Irish chic: the Duchess of Cornwall with Dubarrys

Why does the Duchess of Cambridge wear French wellies when British is best?

11 November 2017 9:00 am

‘Foot – foot – foot – foot – sloggin’ over Africa — / (Boots – boots – boots – boots…

Modigliani’s ‘Les deux filles’

Dinner at Modigliani’s

4 November 2017 9:00 am

When you arrive for dinner and your host is massaging a purple cauliflower, you know you’re in for an interesting…

Lewes

28 October 2017 9:00 am

Autumn is upon us, and the streets are full of families in fancy dress. People of all ages are dressing…

Cruise ship pianists

21 October 2017 9:00 am

When Crystal Cruises invited me to join their flagship as the guest classical pianist for a springtime voyage around the…

Trains in Spain

14 October 2017 9:00 am

The first railway line in Spain, from Barcelona to Mataro a few miles up the coast towards the French border,…

School of thought: the site of the first college in Bishopsgate

Gresham College

23 September 2017 9:00 am

How many people need to gather together before it becomes more likely than not that at least two of them…

Woven thread: a 19th-century Arthurian tapestry

Tapestries

9 September 2017 9:00 am

It is rare nowadays to see someone pull out a half-finished tapestry from their handbag and get on with their…

Oxford’s spires mark a new beginning

Greater Oxbridge

2 September 2017 9:00 am

Oxbridge is an ivory-tower state of mind, perhaps, or at least two ancient rival universities, but how about this: in…

‘Dinant’, by J.M.W. Turner, 1839

Watercolour

12 August 2017 9:00 am

Like many artistically inclined children, I was given a set of Daler Rowney watercolours for my birthday one year. My…

The Surrey hills

5 August 2017 9:00 am

I live in the oldest village in England. How come? Well, in a field below the big house, there is…

The Magnolia Cup: Will the race be to the Swift?

Goodwood

29 July 2017 9:00 am

The South Downs cover 260 sq miles from Hampshire’s Itchen Valley to Eastbourne in East Sussex. Nestled near the southernmost…

The land of lost content – best seen on horseback

Shropshire

22 July 2017 9:00 am

I found the land of lost content last week, west of the Clee Hills in the Shropshire Housman wrote about,…

A lot of Outside: the seafront at Southwold

Southwold Sailors’ Reading Room

15 July 2017 9:00 am

The Southwold Sailors’ Reading Room is a gorgeous bit of Inside. Like any coastal town, Southwold has an awful lot…

The land of lost content – best seen on horseback

Cathar country

8 July 2017 9:00 am

I once spent three months living in the Languedoc, writing my first novel. The highlight was the few days I…