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John Humphrys in the Today studio

The one economic indicator that never stops rising: meet the Negroni Index

25 October 2014

This dispatch comes to you from Venice — where I arrived at sunset on the Orient Express. More of that journey on another occasion, I hope. Suffice to say that… Read more

Laos

Discover the blissful peace of Laos

25 October 2014

There’s a company I came across the other day called Value Added Travel. And despite the horrible name, it seems to be doing good business — which got me thinking.… Read more

Beauty in ruins: the Temple of Isis on Delos

Visiting the Greek islands in a reverse Tardis

25 October 2014

In Huddersfield, where I grew up, a town-centre department store boasted a ‘cruise wear’ section. In the window display the gentleman dummies wore deck shoes, starched white shorts and flannel… Read more

Jumbo-sized: the first of the Big Five makes an appearance

It takes an elephant to get my teenage son up early

25 October 2014

Having just turned 13, my boy Ferdy doesn’t really do early mornings. Indeed, during the summer hols we rarely glimpsed him before noon and then only fleetingly whenever he chose… Read more

Sea change: the old fishing town of Warnemünde has been transformed into an affluent resort

A voyage along my grandfather’s coastline

25 October 2014

My grandfather was born in a huge white house on the Baltic coast of eastern Germany, and ever since I was a child I’ve been fascinated by this enigmatic tideless… Read more

Riverside artwork: Jean-Luc Courcoult’s ‘La Maison dans la Loire’

Eight of the best river cruises

25 October 2014

While ocean liners are hardly butterflies, they have a habit of flitting carelessly between countries, often visiting several within a week. A river cruise, however, takes its (relatively few) passengers… Read more

newyork

Saratoga Springs: the opposite of a one-horse town

25 October 2014

In the sweltering heat of Manhattan, even the prairie plantings on the High Line looked dusty and tired. I usually steer clear of the city in summer, but this year… Read more

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Prue Leith

18 October 2014

‘Please God, make me good, but not yet.’ I know the feeling. As I get older and more deeply retired, I globe-trot more and my carbon footprint is horrendous. And… Read more

Knockout lemon sorbet: Gelateria Bonaparte

Napoleon's birthplace feels more Italian than French

11 October 2014

Napoleon’s birthplace, Casa Buona-parte, in Ajaccio, Corsica’s capital, is pretty grand. It has high ceilings, generous, silk-lined rooms and a gallery that could double as a mini-ballroom. The house fits… Read more

Michael Palin performs on the closing night of 'Monty Python Live (Mostly)'

The hell of being Michael Palin

4 October 2014
Travelling to Work: Diaries, 1988–98 Michael Palin

Weidenfeld & Nicolson, pp.592, £25, ISBN: 9780297844419

In these diaries, which I found excellent in a very specific way, Michael Palin tells us about his life between the late 1980s and the late 1990s. At the start… Read more

Nature comes first: Lower Mill Estate

On safari in Gloucestershire

9 August 2014

The heat was still sweltering as we headed off at dusk towards the hide to watch wildlife with our enthusiastic guide, Leonie. My wife and I were on our first… Read more

holiday-sunbathing

Four gadgets to take on holiday — and two to leave behind

2 August 2014

One inarguably good thing about electronic publishing is that it solves that old quandary about what books to pack for your holiday — you just take a tablet or Kindle… Read more

St Enodoc Church overlooking St Enodoc golf course and the sea beyond, Rock, Cornwall. John Betjeman lies buried in the graveyard

The ultimate guide to Cornwall

19 July 2014
Cornwall Peter Beacham and Nikolaus Pevsner

Yale University Press, pp.800, £35, ISBN: 9780300126686

Before writing this review I spent an hour looking for my original Pevsner paperback on Cornwall, published in 1951 (the first in the ‘Buildings of England’ series). It was falling… Read more

Lake Lucerne Photo: Davide Seddo/Getty

The nervous passenger who became one of our great travel writers

12 July 2014
Pleasures and Landscapes Sybille Bedford

Daunt Books, pp.176, £9.99, ISBN: 9781907970405

Sybille Bedford all her life was a keen and courageous traveller. Restless, curious, intellectually alert, she was always ready to explore new territories, her experiences recounted in a sophisticated style… Read more

Colonel James Tod, travelling by elephant through Rajasthan with his cavalry and sepoys (Indian school, 18th century)

From Scylax to the Beatles: the West's lust for India

7 June 2014
A Strange Kind of Paradise: India Through Foreign Eyes Sam Miller

Cape, pp.422, £18.99, ISBN: 9780224093415

From the Greek seafarer Scylax in 500 BC to the Beatles in 1968, there is a long history of foreign visitors being drawn to India. Many have come in search… Read more

John Burnside Photo: Getty

My desert island poet

31 May 2014
I Put a Spell on You John Burnside

Cape, pp.273, £14.99, ISBN: 9780224093873

If I had to be marooned on a desert island with a stranger, that stranger would be John Burnside. Not that he’s a literary Ray Mears: I rather doubt that… Read more

gilded-generation

The gilded generation - why the young have never had it so good

10 May 2014

No one likes being told they’ve never had it so good. When Lord Young of Graffham tried it three years ago, he was quickly forced out of his job as… Read more

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A secret from my African childhood has become a deeper mystery

22 February 2014

About 55 years ago, when I was about ten, my younger brother Roger and I discovered a slave pit in Africa. Actually it probably wasn’t a slave pit and we… Read more

The Edith Maersk in the Suez Canal, October 2012

What seamen fear more than Somali pirates

1 February 2014
Down to the Sea in Ships Horatio Clare

Chatto, pp.278, £20, ISBN: 9780701183103

If a time traveller were to arrive in our world from, say, 1514 — a neat half-millennium away — what single feature would strike them most? What could they use… Read more

diary_clarissa_tan

Clarissa Tan's Notebook: Why I stopped drinking petrol

25 January 2014

Florence was in fog the day I arrived. Its buildings were bathed in white cloud, its people moved as though through steam. The Arno river was a dense strip of… Read more

Shiva_Naipaul_Memorial_Prize

The Navigators

11 January 2014

Tehran does not welcome pedestrians. It is eight o’clock on a July evening and the sun has plunged out of the air with alarming speed; the sky is the colour… Read more

Woolley Grange

Tanya Gold: Child-friendly, sex-free, nut-heavy – just the hotel for my 40th birthday

11 January 2014

Woolley Grange is a child-friendly country house hotel that seems, at first, entirely monstrous — a grey Tudor house in Wiltshire, with gables like teeth and a pond outside, possibly… Read more

American beat poet Allen Ginsberg Photo: Getty

American Smoke, by Iain Sinclair - review

23 November 2013
American Smoke Iain Sinclair

Hamish Hamilton, pp.309, £20, ISBN: 9780241145272

If you have read Iain Sinclair’s books you will know that he is a stylist with a love of language. You will also know that he has opinions to express… Read more

W H Auden (Photo: H V Drees/Getty Images)

What would Auden have deemed evil in our time? European jingoism

9 November 2013
What Auden Can Do For You Alexander McCall Smith

Princeton, pp.137, £13.95, ISBN: 9780691144733

‘Goodbye to the Mezzogiorno’ was the first Auden poem that Alexander McCall Smith read in his youth. He discovered it in an anthology, and it puzzled him because he had… Read more

Wall-painting in San Isidoro of a shepherd

Christopher Howse takes the slow train in Spain — and writes a classic

2 November 2013
The Train in Spain Christopher Howse

Bloomsbury, pp.244, £16.99, ISBN: 9781441198051

This is probably not a book for those whose interest in Spain gravitates towards such contemporary phenomena as the films of Pedro Almodóvar, Barcelona Football Club or the fashion retailer… Read more