Notes on…

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…

Constable’s ‘The Hay Wain’ (1821)

In Constable’s ascension, Jesus just looks quite awkward

26 January 2019 9:00 am

Constable painted only three religious paintings, and when you see the one in St Mary’s Church in Dedham you realise…