Simon Courtauld rss

Rock of ages: three centuries of British occupation

Why Gibraltar needs its hunt back

1 November 2014

The British overseas territory of Gibraltar, or, as some would have it, the wart on the bottom of the Iberian peninsula, is not an exciting place for a holiday. You… Read more

Ramon Vargas as Don Carlo performs durin

Verdi’s Don Carlos is the tops

4 May 2013

I go to about half a dozen operas a year, mainly by 19th-century Italian and French composers, plus some Mozart, bits of Handel, Richard Strauss and Britten and, most recently,… Read more


Art and the raging bull

25 June 2011
Into the Arena: The World of the Spanish Bullfight Alexander Fiske-Harrison

Profile, pp.284, 15.99

In these days of growing concern at the methods of factory farming and the welfare of the animals which are raised and killed for our consumption, it is instructive to… Read more


Cherchez la femme

12 May 2010
The Temptress: The Scandalous Life of Alice, Countess de Janzé Paul Spicer

Simon & Schuster, pp.308, 14.99

The 22nd Earl of Erroll, Military Secretary in Kenya in the early part of the second world war, was described by two of his fellow peers of the realm as… Read more

Spain’s secret kingdoms

19 November 2008

One of the joys of visiting Leon and Burgos, two of the principal cities of Spain, is that you are highly unlikely to meet another foreign tourist. It was midsummer,… Read more

Sacred heights

14 May 2008

Simon Courtauld pays homage to one of the world’s great sights ‘Road is hilly, Don’t be silly’ was the advice by the roadside as our Nepali driver safely negotiated yet… Read more


Homage to Aragon

23 January 2008

For students of the Spanish civil war, and especially its battlefields, Aragon, visited by few foreign tourists, is the place to go. We are now in the 70th-anniversary years of… Read more


Farewell to a noble figure in Spectator history

26 September 2007

Ian Gilmour was not the only proprietor of The Spectator also to be its editor, but he was unquestionably the best. Patrician, wealthy, high-minded, unassuming, the 28-year-old Etonian ex-Grenadier Guardsman… Read more

Who wants to buy our old office?

7 March 2007

‘A unique opportunity to purchase the home of a famous weekly magazine.’ Thus might an estate agent market No. 56 Doughty Street, London WC1, now up for sale after more… Read more

Small is beautiful

10 January 2007

My grandfather used to enjoy eating ortolans in Biarritz, sometimes in the company of Rudyard Kipling. In London, it amused him to ask for these little birds of the bunting… Read more

Talking turkey

29 November 2006

There won’t be any wild turkeys eaten in Britain this Christmas. There won’t be any wild turkeys eaten in Britain this Christmas. However, a few of these birds, which are… Read more

Good hare day

1 November 2006

In my early days as editor of the Field, I read an article submitted by one of the magazine’s venerable hunting correspondents In my early days as editor of the… Read more

A little snack

5 October 2006

The countryside writer Ian Niall, a columnist in these pages some 50 years ago, told in his classic work, The Poacher’s Handbook, of one of the fraternity known as Black… Read more

King of the moor

9 August 2006

The red grouse is a resilient little bird. Prone to an unpleasant disease called louping ill which is transmitted by sheep ticks, and vulnerable to attack by nasty, invasive little… Read more

Eat your hart out

12 July 2006

The Countryside Alliance, through its Game-to-Eat campaign, has been doing some good work in promoting venison. It is higher in protein and lower in fat than other red meat; some… Read more

Free for now

14 June 2006

If, as I was told the other day, much of the frozen chicken and duck meat brought into this country comes from the Far East, it may be that some… Read more

Always around

17 May 2006

There never seems to be any shortage of pigeons. Whether feeding in a field of corn or rape by day or coming into woodland at dusk, they are always around.… Read more

Crashing boar

22 April 2006

While we are all worrying about the threat to poultry from an alien virus which has now reached these shores, there seems to be little concern at the threat to… Read more

Quail order

25 March 2006

I wonder whether the US vice-president, Dick Cheney, will eat quail again after the shooting incident in south Texas last month, when he ignored the most basic safety rules in… Read more

Peter and friends

25 February 2006

It is some years since I saw, in a Paris bookshop, a translated copy of Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit, but I still enjoy recalling the French names… Read more

A far from plodding pedestrian

25 February 2006
Wilfred Thesiger: The Life of the Great Explorer Alexander Maitland

HarperCollins, pp.528, 25

How much more do we need to know about Sir Wilfred Thesiger? Alexander Maitland, his literary executor and friend for the last 40 years of his life, collaborated with Thesiger… Read more

Bargain brace

28 January 2006

It is one of life’s little mysteries that, outside the circle of those involved in game shooting, so few pheasants are bought and eaten, in a country where between 15… Read more

Carpe piscem

17 December 2005

Where are the pike, the char, the carp of yesteryear? Still in English lakes and rivers, but they are not to be found in the English kitchen. Pike, then called… Read more

Caviar crisis

19 November 2005

Many of us, not being regular purchasers of the sturgeon’s eggs, will be unaware of the gravity of the caviar crisis. I have only just learnt that the population of… Read more

The joys of rod and gun

29 October 2005
Country Fair Max Hastings

HarperCollins, pp.276, 20

The farmer and writer, A. G. Street, who in the 1950s co- edited with Max Hastings’s father a magazine which gives this book its title, wrote before the war: When… Read more