Notes on…

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’,…

The real America: NJ’s clapboard houses

Big cities are all alike – it's in New Jersey’s small towns that you feel like you’re really travelling

23 June 2018 9:00 am

When my American friends invited us to stay with them in New Jersey, my 13-year-old daughter was thrilled. She’d never…

Going it alone: The Tibbets cottage on Lundy

No wi-fi, no TV and no neighbours – staying with the Landmark Trust is bliss

16 June 2018 9:00 am

About halfway across Lundy, if you’re trudging from the landing bay towards the north lighthouse, there’s a tiny holiday cottage…

The nuclear plant at Dounreay

Notes on... Nucleus, the shiny new slightly secret nuclear archive

9 June 2018 9:00 am

Doubtless Spectator readers based in Caithness will scoff when I say that the old fishing port of Wick (top right…

How to silence Henry James: the Pont du Gard

Only the south of France could silence Henry James

2 June 2018 9:00 am

‘Saint-Tropez?’ said the French mother of a friend. ‘C’est un peu… “tacky”.’ She was distressed to think of our taking…

Inspired touch: Asterix creators René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo (seated) in 1967

Asterix and the sheer brilliance of his creators

26 May 2018 9:00 am

A sterix, te amamus! For those not lucky enough to learn their Latin from the dazzling René Goscinny and Albert…

Back to the 1950s: You can’t beat an English beach scene

Nothing quite beats a British beach

19 May 2018 9:00 am

‘May I take a picture of your snake?’ I asked the tattooed man with a python around his neck, regretting…

Shirtmaker Simone Abbarchi

12 May 2018 9:00 am

The Premio Rezzori literary prize — held every May in Florence — is named after the Austrian writer Gregor von…

Hot spot: ‘The Switzerland of Derbyshire’

Welcome to Matlock Bath, the ‘Switzerland of Derbyshire’

5 May 2018 9:00 am

Revisiting cherished childhood memories can be dispiriting; everything appears diminished and one leaves questioning the nature of perception. Were we…

Community spirit: Chelsea Green high street

In praise of Chelsea Green, a London oasis

28 April 2018 9:00 am

Splats of calves’ liver in a puddle of blood; rabbits, headless, stretched and stripped of fur; and plucked poussins, nestling…

The joy of University Challenge

21 April 2018 9:00 am

One programme that still shines out as a beacon of intellectual rigour among the sea of dross on television is…

Pace and quiet: walking can be therapeutic

The highs – and occasional lows – of long-distance walking

14 April 2018 9:00 am

Long-distance walking is all the rage these days. There are all-nighters staged by charities, for instance the annual MoonWalk in…

Barren, windswept beauty: the town’s beachfront

Southend-on-Sea has long been a running joke – until now

7 April 2018 9:00 am

Standing at the end of Britain’s longest pier, on a cold and misty morning, looking out across the Thames Estuary,…

‘Waterloo Bridge, Overcast Weather’ (1899-1903)

Monet painted London not brick-by-brick, but light-by-shade

31 March 2018 9:00 am

The Savoy was too sumptuous, complained Claude Monet, returning to the hotel in 1904. His rooms — one for sleeping,…

Magdalen College Chapel

The joy of evensong

24 March 2018 9:00 am

When Palestrina wrote his Mass settings and motets, or J.S. Bach his cantatas and passions, they could not have imagined…

Contessa Teresa Guiccioli

Notes on… Lord Byron in Venice

17 March 2018 9:00 am

‘I want to see Venice, and the Alps, and Parmesan cheeses.’ So wrote Lord Byron in 1814, some two years…

Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923) in about 1920

The Katherine Mansfield House

10 March 2018 9:00 am

One of the more surprising attractions of Wellington, New Zealand’s small but perfectly formed capital city, is what might be…

Moorish: Otmoor’s beautiful, desolate landscape

Why Evelyn Waugh, Lewis Carroll and the Romans loved Otmoor

3 March 2018 9:00 am

‘Don’t sit down too long my duck, you might be doing nothing,’ reads the inscription memorialising Barbara Joan Austin (4…