Notes on…

Preparations are already under way

Introducing the first Spectator readers’ cruise

11 April 2015 9:00 am

It’s a complete recipe for disaster of course. By which I mean being trapped at sea with The Spectator’s ‘Low…

The writing on the wall: some of the well-preserved hieroglyphs at Karnak

Tourists are trickling back to Egypt – to beat the crowds, go now

4 April 2015 9:00 am

Egypt’s revolution of 2011 didn’t just get rid of President Mubarak: it did a pretty good job of clearing out…

Let there be light: Saint Peter’s at dawn

Rise early to see the Vatican at its best

28 March 2015 9:00 am

The sun has only just risen in Rome and we are standing bleary-eyed in a short queue outside the Vatican.…

The guilty man: Johann Strauss

Vienna is a crossroads of the world again – but something’s missing

21 March 2015 9:00 am

People get the wrong idea about Vienna and I blame Johann Strauss. His plinky-plonky waltzes have become the soundtrack to…

Manet would recognise it: the Jardin des Tuileries

Seeing Paris through Impressionist eyes

14 March 2015 9:00 am

The spectre of the Charlie Hebdo killings still hangs over Paris. Outside the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, opposite the…

A reliable escape: Mikrolimano

Grim, generous, decaying and hip: the paradoxical charms of Athens

7 March 2015 9:00 am

My first visit to Athens as a student gave me a set of impressions that the present crisis has only…

Dramatic mountains and hidden bays

A cruise around Cleopatra's wedding present

28 February 2015 9:00 am

Legend has it that Mark Antony considered Turkey’s Turquoise Coast so beautiful that, in about 32 bc, he gave it…

An earthquake with a Baroque legacy in Sicily

21 February 2015 9:00 am

Syracuse is a handsome place, steeped in a rich historical broth. At the tip sits Ortygia, an island offshoot, which…

A sniff of the ancient world: Fez’s tanneries

A walk through Fez is the closest thing to visiting ancient Rome

14 February 2015 9:00 am

Fez is one of the seven medieval wonders of the world. An intact Islamic city defined by its circuit of…

Calm and colourful: Burano

How to walk along canals in Venice without feeling like a tourist

7 February 2015 9:00 am

I arrived in Venice believing it would reek of sewage. It didn’t. The walk into the centre went through cobbled…

Decades in the making: Glasgow School of Art

The long ordeal of Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art

31 January 2015 9:00 am

I was working on the final edit of my book — a fictionalised account of the year Charles Rennie Mackintosh…

Old mill boards and sea-green slates: Yeats’s tower

On the Yeats trail in Galway

24 January 2015 9:00 am

The Go Galway bus from Dublin sounds an unlikely pleasure, but it is both comfortable and punctual. There is free…

Beauty and exhilaration: hunting in Norfolk

The sheer joy of hunting

17 January 2015 9:00 am

This time three years ago, I hadn’t jumped a single thing for almost ten years. This season, I am happily…

Incredible shrinking county: the tides at Freshwater Bay

A museum of dirty postcards and Britain’s coolest bulldog: visit the strange side of the Isle of Wight

10 January 2015 9:00 am

Every day the Isle of Wight becomes England’s smallest county: when-ever the tide comes in, the island steals the crown…

The parks are empty and the landscapes are yours

If you want a real safari, head to Botswana

3 January 2015 9:00 am

As a boy camping with my father on safaris deep in the African bush, there were no tents involved; we…

The aurora: you really have to see it for yourself

The Northern Lights

13 December 2014 9:00 am

Getting here took a long time. First a flight to Seattle, then a connection to Fairbanks, followed by a coach…

‘The plan was to pour the apple juice into an oak hogshead, freshly emptied of its whisky’

The birth of a barrel of cider

6 December 2014 9:00 am

The fabulous October weather is now just a memory but it made for a golden, old-fashioned apple day down in…

Grande dame: the Grand Hotel Stockholm as seen from the Palace

A cure for Christmas stress in Sweden

29 November 2014 9:00 am

We’ve all been there, I’m sure. You work your pan off to get everything done in time. You count down…

Three glamorous guests, 1921

A miracle: French hotels actually like dogs

22 November 2014 9:00 am

The first time I checked in to a French hotel with a golden retriever — his name was Gregory, predecessor…

A port and a fort: Valletta

Malta's military marvels

15 November 2014 9:00 am

Fate occasionally leads travellers to places they had never planned to visit. Into this category, for me, fell Malta. I…

Ski helmets: everyone’s doing it now

The Schumacher effect: ski helmets and the grim power of celebrity

8 November 2014 9:00 am

For a melancholy example of the power of celebrity, head to the Alps. Since Michael Schumacher’s accident last December in…

Rock of ages: three centuries of British occupation

Why Gibraltar needs its hunt back

1 November 2014 9:00 am

The British overseas territory of Gibraltar, or, as some would have it, the wart on the bottom of the Iberian…

‘A home for fallen buildings’: Portmeirion

Why I'll never want to escape Portmeirion

25 October 2014 9:00 am

My husband and I stay for a week most summers in Portmeirion, the strangest and loveliest ‘village’ in the world.…

Quiet, quaint and understated: Cobblers Cove

Chasing the shadows of slavery in Barbados

18 October 2014 9:00 am

Driving up the west coast, from Bridge-town to Speightstown, you soon see why people around here call this the Platinum…

Knockout lemon sorbet: Gelateria Bonaparte

Napoleon's birthplace feels more Italian than French

11 October 2014 9:00 am

Napoleon’s birthplace, Casa Buona-parte, in Ajaccio, Corsica’s capital, is pretty grand. It has high ceilings, generous, silk-lined rooms and a…