Notes on…

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…

The romanticism of fell and water

Wrestling with the romantic glory of the Lake District

29 October 2015 9:00 am

Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling is the best thing in the Lake District. I lived near Wigton, just north of the…

Sand that might be mistaken for Caribbean

Anglesey: la dolce vita in north Wales

24 October 2015 9:00 am

We teased our friends by saying that our holiday would be on a far-away island. The Maldives, perhaps? No, Anglesey,…

Adventures on the isle that seduced Odysseus

17 October 2015 9:00 am

Gozo — Malta’s tiny island neighbour — was once rather a crucial spot in the Mediterranean. The Knights of Malta…

Look out below: one of The Hague’s gargoyles

Look beyond ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ in The Hague

10 October 2015 9:00 am

What a fate it is to be hung next to the most famous painting in a gallery. To be overlooked,…

Transatlantic grandeur: A Cunard liner in 1932

Notes on cruising

3 October 2015 8:00 am

By the end of my ten-day Atlantic crossing to New York, a new wellbeing seemed to radiate from me. Lulled…

Autumn: time for a pie

Autumn, season of conkers and new boots

26 September 2015 8:00 am

Each year when I see the first conker of the autumn I think: fire up the ancestral ovens! This incendiary…

La Baule: the view from the beach

Having a ball in La Baule

19 September 2015 8:00 am

The reaction of the chap on the door at Le Bidule told me that they weren’t used to seeing English…

She knows who’s next

Six rules for a perfect pub

12 September 2015 9:00 am

Whenever one of those news stories appears about how many pubs have been forced to close in the last year,…