Notes on…

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…

Unchanging: Florence’s skyline and the Arno

Botticelli’s jokes and the quarrelsome, creative spirit of Florence

2 April 2016 9:00 am

Once, it seems, Sandro Botticelli played a trick on a neighbour. Next door was a weaver who possessed eight looms.…

A vast stage set: St Petersburg

St Petersburg: now's the right time to visit Russia's rebel city

26 March 2016 9:00 am

Looking across the wide Neva from Vasilyevsky Island, the Palace Embankment shimmers in the river, suspended between water and sky.…

Convivial: the Reading Room

The discreet charm of the London Library

19 March 2016 9:00 am

Some rogue has been writing in my bedside book. A fastidious hand has crossed out misspelled words and written neat…

Rebuilding phase: shipping-container shopping in Christchurch

Aftershocks and polo ponies in Christchurch, New Zealand

12 March 2016 9:00 am

On my first night in Christchurch, I woke at 3.32 a.m. to what felt like an explosion. My bed was…

High mountains, deep pockets

Courchevel – from pickled cockles to the height of luxury

5 March 2016 9:00 am

The last time I stayed in Courchevel it was in a tatty roadside chalet a long way down the mountain.…

Export queen: Sirikit wears Thai silk in Paris, 1960

A silky, air-conditioned introduction to Bangkok

27 February 2016 9:00 am

Last time I went to Thailand, there’d been something of a misunderstanding about accommodation, and my friend and I ended…

One scene from a nature documentary after another: the mountains of British Columbia

It took a move away for me to see how beautiful British Columbia really is

20 February 2016 9:00 am

When people hear I’m from rural British Columbia, I know what their reaction will be: rhapsodic. ‘BC’ is their favourite…

More than a game: James Simpson-Daniel in a Six Nations game at Twickenham, 2003

A former England international on the meaning of the Six Nations

13 February 2016 9:00 am

Back in 1882, exactly 100 years before I was born, the Four Nations rugby competition was formed. It was originally…

There may never be a better (or cheaper) time to visit South Africa

6 February 2016 9:00 am

There are plenty of places to fly to for winter sun, but only one place that offers five-star hotels for…

Masterpieces this way

The Venice Accademia: is this the smallest great gallery in the world?

30 January 2016 9:00 am

The Accademia is one of the smallest of the world’s great art galleries, and picture for picture perhaps the most…

Like southern France — with added kangaroos

The lovely Clare Valley, like southern France with added kangaroos

23 January 2016 9:00 am

It is a century and a half since The Spectator noted the exceptional qualities of South Australia, a colony of…

Fairytale pretty: the island of Monte Isola

The world is about to discover the wonders of Lake Iseo

16 January 2016 9:00 am

If you’ve never heard of Lake Iseo, you’re not alone. Nestling shyly between chocolate-box Como and glamorous Garda, the smallest…

Unchanging: St John the Baptist parish church

Lions' wool and other wonders of Cirencester

9 January 2016 9:00 am

Everywhere you look in Cirencester there’s another animal: a cockerel, a hare, a sheep or a skulking lioness. I rather…

Charming: Skanderberg Square in Tirana

Visit Albania now, before it changes too much

2 January 2016 9:00 am

Seferis’s line about his native Greece, ‘Our country is a closed in place, all mountains’, haunted my mind as I…

View of the Bay of Naples, 1832

The delights and dangers of the Grand Tour

21 November 2015 9:00 am

The Grand Tour usually culminated with Naples, ragamuffin capital of the Italian south, where Vesuvius offered a visual education in…

Hallowed place: Alpine scenery near Grimentz

The secret ski resorts where the real sport lives

14 November 2015 9:00 am

Skiing holidays have a problem. They’ve lost their sense of adventure. Yes, the first flurries of winter which arrived recently…

Dresden’s Striezelmarkt dates back to 1434

What's so special about German Christmas markets

7 November 2015 9:00 am

Why the fuss about German Christmas markets? Surely they’re just schmaltzy shanty towns, full of stuff you’d never dream of…