Notes on…

My new forté: shimmering Ravel on a shining sea

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…

Right track: The trains are cheap and on time

Spain’s trains are fast, cheap and on time... so how do we get it so wrong?

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,…

Hidden den: Gerry’s Club on Dean Street

Step into Soho’s hidden drinking clubs, portals into another world

7 October 2017 9:00 am

When someone says ‘Let’s go for a drink at my club’, what do you imagine? A grand St James’s establishment…

The Old Town seen from the Charles Bridge

Notes on Prague, city of beer, music, and art-nouveau wonders

30 September 2017 9:00 am

Prague. Prague. It helps to say the name at least twice as a countermeasure to the ridiculous ease of modern…

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

Gresham College, the original school of thought

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…

Star attraction: A detail from Banksy’s mural

How Banksy’s Brexit mural put a smile on Dover’s face

16 September 2017 9:00 am

When people come to Dover, it’s usually to pass through. The magnificent castle on the cliffs may be a tourist…

Woven thread: a 19th-century Arthurian tapestry

Tapestries are beautiful, romantic – and half the price of wallpaper

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

Never mind the Northern Powerhouse – here comes the Oxford to Cambridge corridor

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…

On the up: Saltburn-by-the-Sea’s funicular railway

Saltburn-by-the-Sea is having its Goldilocks moment

26 August 2017 9:00 am

When towns are on the up, there is a brief period when they inhabit what I would call the Goldilocks…

Originals: Jack Dempsey, left, in his 1919 title fight

Boxer shorts

19 August 2017 9:00 am

Chaps, be honest. Have you achieved nether-region nirvana? Twenty years ago I had reached the summit of underwear style and…

‘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 ruined fortress of Peyrepertuse

Cathar country, Carcassonne and cassoulet

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…

Last picture show: Victory Boogie-Woogie

A century of De Stijl

1 July 2017 9:00 am

It starts as soon as I arrive. In Den Haag Centraal railway station, the kiosks, windows, lift shaft, piano and…

Fine tuned: RCM students practising in the stunning Britten Theatre

The Britten Theatre

24 June 2017 9:00 am

When friends from overseas with the slightest interest in music ask for recommendations about what to see in London, I…

Sheep thrills: holidaying on a working farm

West Middlewick Farm

17 June 2017 9:00 am

In springtime in our family, we always have the same old argument: where should we go on our summer holiday…

The right kind of doorstep: Richmond in 1970

The view from the doorstep

10 June 2017 9:00 am

You have probably been hearing a lot about doorsteps recently. Politicians love to demonstrate how much they care about ordinary,…

Crowning glory: McCaw at Twickenham in 2015

A rugby legend

3 June 2017 9:00 am

‘There’s a chance we’ll meet up with Richie McCaw in Christchurch,’ proffered the PR on our New Zealand press trip.…

A vine romance: now with added sparkle

The vineyards of Kent

27 May 2017 9:00 am

As a wine bore, holidays abroad are a battle with the family to cram in as many vineyard visits as…

The prettiest tourist trail, with added chocolate

Why Theresa May would love Switzerland’s railways

20 May 2017 9:00 am

When Theresa May went off to Switzerland on a walking holiday last August, she said it was the ‘peace and…

Winston Churchill’s favourite dinner guest

Kaspar the Savoy cat

13 May 2017 9:00 am

How to solve the problem of an unlucky 13 people at dinner? Developing a rational mind is the obvious answer,…

‘A spectacle of strength and savage wildness’

Scafell Pike

6 May 2017 9:00 am

Within a couple of miles of England’s deepest point is its highest. Towering a kilometre above the hidden depths of…