High life

Greece’s age-old obsession with fire

Patmos While green Rhodes and greener Corfu burn away, arid Patmos remains fireproof because rock and soil do not a bonfire make. The Almighty granted some islands plenty of water, and other ones no H2O whatsoever. Most of the Cycladic isles lug in drinking water from the mainland, and make do with treated unsalted seawater

Real life

I am escaping Surrey in the nick of time

As I slapped a rude note on a car parked outside my house, I realised that nature was taking its course. My transformation into a Surreyite was in danger of becoming complete. ‘If you have enjoyed using this private access track, then perhaps you might consider making a donation for its maintenance,’ I had snidely

Wild life

A farewell to alcohol

Laikipia Some are saved by Jesus and they are sober. For others, drunkenness is as natural as love-making, roasted meat and weekend football. In northern Kenya we brew a honey mead called muratina; then there’s a millet beer and strongest of all is a moonshine, changa’a, which you can smell from several huts away and

More from life

Pavlova: the crumble of summer

Whenever I tell someone that I’m making a pavlova the response is the same: sheer joy. Even the most fervent pudding-denier struggles to resist a slice of pav. It makes sense – fragile, crisp meringue with a tender, mallowy centre, soft waves of cream and some kind of fruit is such a brilliant combination. You

Wine Club

Wine Club: a super summer sale to beat the alcohol duty increase

Hey you there on your sun lounger! Take a gander at this summer sale, courtesy of our chums at FromVineyardsDirect. These are extremely toothsome bin-ends and overstocks at pre-duty increase prices. I’ve tasted them, rejected the also-rans and beaten FVD down on price as much as I can. There are some cracking mystery cases included

No sacred cows

What does a supercomputer say about QPR’s chances?

The football season gets under way again on Saturday – or at least it does if your team isn’t in the Premier League, which starts a week later. My beloved Queens Park Rangers are off to Vicarage Road to take on Watford and I’ll be there with my three sons to cheer them on. We

Spectator Sport

Stuart Broad would make a great politician

And they said Test cricket was in its death throes! This epic, attention-grabbing, emotion-wringing Ashes series ended in the last minutes of the last hour of the last session of the last day of the last match: who could ask for more? England have had a number of very good captains since Mike Brearley took

Dear Mary


Mind your language

Is Nigel Farage really a grifter?

That Coutts dossier on Nigel Farage said in passing: ‘He is considered by many to be a disingenuous grifter.’ I didn’t quite know what grifter here meant. According to the Telegraph, a podcast host at Spotify called the Duke and Duchess of Sussex ‘grifters’. That does not limit the semantic field. It feels to me


Rehearsing Noye’s Fludde

We were all in it an opera in a church my youngest brother going into the Ark in the mask of a blue tit Raven Boy twirling to a clarinet Dove Girl with ballet shoes and a bunch of green leaves and Mrs Noah who did not want to go dragged up the gangplank waving


i.m. She bends back over the bush,pursed hand biting for curvatureamong the green, and rainsthree more to the tub at her feet. Then she finds a last one, hunches,lifts and rattles her find, is goneinside. A tractor’s been pacingthe field next door all morning,towards, back, towards, back.She went unnoticed, unnoticing. And we’ll have gooseberry tart