Notes on…

No pigs in sight: Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

The charm – and artifice – of the English cottage garden

20 July 2019 9:00 am

The confusion is understandable. You arrive at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon, keen to experience the quintessential cottage garden —…

The motorway that contains 2.5 million Mills & Boon novels

13 July 2019 9:00 am

The first one was too straight. In the absence of a speed limit, early motorists on the M1 used the…

The forgotten joy of soap

6 July 2019 9:00 am

Is there any invention as ancient and as fundamental as soap? Traced to Babylonian civilisation around 2,800 bc (handy for…

Why croquet beats cricket

29 June 2019 9:00 am

People say cricket is the quintessential English game. Those people are wrong. Cricket may have a longer pedigree, but it’s…

What I learned from piercing ears at Claire's Accessories

22 June 2019 9:00 am

I was 17, studying for my A-levels in Great Yarmouth. Looking to defy my parents’ instruction to get a part-time…

The touching traces of the past in church visitors’ books

15 June 2019 9:00 am

I am memorialised twice in my village church. Not in some premature lapidary way, but in the visitors’ book. The…

Hang on to your hat – they’re making a comeback

8 June 2019 8:00 am

‘Thank goodness for racing,’ says Rachel Trevor-Morgan. She is a milliner — a hat maker — so it’s no surprise…

From Amazon to Waitrose: how do companies get their names?

1 June 2019 9:00 am

Poor Mr Bergstresser. He put up the money to start the financial reporting company but his name wasn’t as snappy…

The magic of the Chelsea Flower Show

25 May 2019 9:00 am

Chelsea, the most famous flower show in the world, pulled in its devotees once more this week, with its accustomed…

How do Britain’s pubs get their names?

18 May 2019 9:00 am

An easy one: what links Jack Straw’s Castle, The Labouring Boys and The Jolly Taxpayer? No, not the parliamentary expenses…

Windermere, a voyage into Swallows and Amazons

11 May 2019 9:00 am

‘A love of boats and sailing is the surest of all passports to a happy life,’ wrote Arthur Ransome. Standing…

Scilly season: Shipwrecks, seclusion and Harold Wilson’s house

4 May 2019 9:00 am

‘You can get away from everything,’ said Harold Wilson of the Isles of Scilly, ‘not only in distance but also…

The weird and wacky world of Goop

27 April 2019 9:00 am

The other day, as I walked with my partner through Notting Hill, we came across a shop which deserves to…

The holy pedigree of cats

20 April 2019 9:00 am

It is claimed that the prophet Muhammad loved cats. His favourite was called Muezza and he would do without his…

Celebrities, cars and chickens: Inside the Connaught hotel

13 April 2019 9:00 am

You may have noticed the Connaught a little more since 2011, when ‘Silence’, the steamy fountain by Japanese ‘architect philosopher’ Tadao…

Preparing to ride up Warren Hill

Newmarket, where the fastest horses in the world thunder past

6 April 2019 9:00 am

Standing on Warren Hill in the morning mist, watching Britain’s finest thoroughbreds thunder past, you realise what makes Newmarket so…

A British staple and perfect for crumble

Rhubarb: the most eccentrically British fruit

30 March 2019 9:00 am

The tale of forced Yorkshire rhubarb has the makings of a David Lean film. Frosty Slavic beginnings, wartime devotion, steam…

Excellent creatures

The triumphant return of the British beaver

23 March 2019 9:00 am

There is a particularly magical West Country woodland that I know, through which a sunlit stream meanders, braided by a…

The ruins of Carbury Castle, Co. Kildare

The unique, bittersweet beauty of Irish ruins

14 March 2019 9:00 am

The Celtic Tiger has come and gone. Over the past 30 years, billions of pounds poured into Irish houses and…

It may seem incredible, but I’d trust an Italian over a Frenchman any day

9 March 2019 9:00 am

For a few years before coming to Italy, I lived in Paris and I cannot tell you the life-enhancing difference…

‘Too English, bizarre, and what are the rules again?’: Cricket in Buenos Aires

2 March 2019 9:00 am

For most Latin Americans, who are themselves no strangers to sporting eccentricity, cricket remains a baffling proposition. The game is…

Everyone hates Maggi Hambling’s ‘Scallop’ – but I love it

23 February 2019 9:00 am

Benjamin Britten was adamant that he did not want any memorial sculpture of himself in Aldeburgh, the Suffolk coastal town…

The deserted platform 1 at Aldwych

The eerie beauty of London’s abandoned Tube stops

16 February 2019 9:00 am

If you’ve ever travelled on London’s Piccadilly Line, you may have noticed that on the stretch between Green Park and…

The big chill: Few winter swimmers bother with wetsuits

The teeth-chattering joys of cold-water swimming

9 February 2019 9:00 am

The woman on the path has come to a dead stop. She’d been shuffling along in that bunched-up posture we…

Cairn on Beinn Eighe in the Highlands

The big difference between a pile of stones and Piles of Stones

2 February 2019 9:00 am

There are piles of stones and then there are piles of stones. Anyone can place one rock upon another, but…