Notes on…

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…

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…