Notes on…

Hardy perennial: a crowd in the V&A Cast Courts

The best – and worst – places for a V&A assignation

24 September 2016 9:00 am

Thomas Hardy, while still married to his first wife Emma, but arranging assignations in London with Florence, his second-wife-to-be, used…

Farringdon Road at the Holborn Viaduct, 1900

The hidden rivers that shape London's streets

17 September 2016 9:00 am

I found my first of London’s many lost rivers when I walked across Holborn Viaduct, looked down at the sweep…

Don’t fear to tread: vineyards in the Douro Valley

The delicious secrets of the Douro Valley

10 September 2016 9:00 am

They’re called quintas, Joana tells us, because the rich families who owned the land along this stretch of the Douro…

Rievaulx: only swifts and pigeons break the silence

Stay amid the stones of Rievaulx

3 September 2016 9:00 am

We’re so used to looking at the abbeys smashed up by Henry VIII — particularly Rievaulx and Byland, in north…

Would you recognise this face? Mussolini back in 1924, on a drive with his pet lion cub, Ras

A beautiful place to die: Mussolini at Lake Como

27 August 2016 9:00 am

If your destiny is to be shot dead with your mistress, where better than Lake Como, which, in the words…

A collector of genius: Peggy Guggenheim

Peggy Guggenheim, collector of genius

20 August 2016 9:00 am

She had come a very long way from the shtetl, but Marguerite ‘Peggy’ Guggenheim was still the poor relation of…

Cabbies’ enemy: a cable car across the favela

The first favela – and what it can tell you about Rio’s history

13 August 2016 9:00 am

Where are you going?’ demanded the boy on the wall. A walkie-talkie clipped to his denim shorts crackled, but there…

Sudden beauty (crowd not pictured): the Quiraing

Can there really be glamour at a campsite on Skye?

6 August 2016 9:00 am

Glamour. It’s Marcello Mastroianni drinking negronis on the Via Veneto; it’s Audrey Hepburn, George Clooney, Sinatra on the Vegas Strip…

The taste of freedom and sunburnt holidays

The taste of freedom, sunburnt holidays and pocket money to burn

30 July 2016 9:00 am

It was a mistake to tell us about the gelati-to-sightseeing ratio. This was the formula my father, his younger sister…

Ruins and romance (Monty Don not included)

Meeting Monty Don in the world’s most romantic garden

23 July 2016 9:00 am

I’ve just been given a personal tour of Ninfa by Monty Don. True, I had to share the thinking woman’s…

Be like Jimmy Stewart: rediscover a classic

The secret to better holiday reading: don’t take too many books

16 July 2016 9:00 am

Holidays are a welcome chance to lose ourselves between the covers of a book, especially for those of us who…

Bologna’s core: grand in the renaissance manner

Bologna with Gilbert & George

9 July 2016 9:00 am

Sooner or later, no matter where you are travelling on Italian railways, you are likely to pass through Bologna Centrale.…

Extraterrestrial invader: Lance Armstrong

Why it’s still so hard to cheer for the Tour de France

2 July 2016 9:00 am

On Saturday at Mont St Michel, the 103rd edition of the Tour de France begins, and the favourite to win…

Warning: black tie will not make you feel like this

Black tie is an infallible sign of a bad party

25 June 2016 8:00 am

Men don’t look good in black tie. They might think that they look like Sean Connery in Dr No, but…

Capability and mustard: Gatton Park

A Capability Brown jewel hiding just outside the M25

18 June 2016 9:00 am

Gatton Park is probably Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown’s least famous landscape. It is tucked away near Reigate Hill, just beyond the…

Not quite Dubai yet: Ascot racegoers last year

Betting on Royal Ascot? Here’s how to get an edge

11 June 2016 9:00 am

It’s time to scuttle under a rock if you are a Folkestone or Cornish crab: 7,000 of them will be…

Live like a laird: Brodie Castle

The saddest, most romantic view in Britain

4 June 2016 9:00 am

Is there a more forlornly romantic spot in Britain than the moors east of Inverness where the Jacobite dream died?…

A kind of posthumous existence: a death mask of Keats, sold at auction for £16,100 in 1996

A beautiful place to die: Italy and the Romantic poets

28 May 2016 9:00 am

People can be mightily protective of their Romantic poets. When I worked at the Keats Shelley House, overlooking the Spanish…

‘His operas offer a straightforward experience’

Verdi’s works are more entertainment than art

21 May 2016 9:00 am

Verdi has a peculiar if not unique place in the pantheon of great composers. If you love classical music at…

The demise of bullfighting has been predicted for 100 years, yet it lives on

Is bullfighting on its last gasp?

14 May 2016 9:00 am

Looking at the programme for the feria of San Isidro in Madrid this month (bullfights are being held on 31…

Gentlest and sweetest of dogs

Beautiful, wilful, never dull: in praise of Clumber spaniels

7 May 2016 9:00 am

For the first time in more than 30 years we have no Clumber spaniel. We have had five: Henry, Judith,…

Is my plant Pinterest-ready?

It started with a cardboard box: discovering the joys of indoor gardening

30 April 2016 9:00 am

A year or so ago, I inherited a cardboard box filled with plants. It was an offshoot from an enormous…

Strange fruit: Bosch mixes scripture and folklore

Want your children to love art? Start with Hieronymus Bosch

23 April 2016 9:00 am

If you hope to inspire an appreciation of Renaissance art in your children, look to Hieronymus Bosch. Ideally, your children…

Pack mentality: it’s amazing what people reveal

My day as a radio tarot reader

16 April 2016 9:00 am

It’s 8.57 on a Friday evening and I’m at home, waiting for an obscure American radio talk show to come…

Is this LA?: Dilapidated deco in Downtown

The heart of Los Angeles feels like somewhere else entirely

9 April 2016 9:00 am

There’s a certain kind of Englishman who falls hard for Los Angeles. Men such as Graham Nash, who swapped the…