High life

An elegy on yachting

Patmos A very long time ago I wrote in these here pages that spending a summer on the Riviera or the Greek isles without a boat was as useless as a eunuch in a cathouse. That was then and this, alas, is now. The French and Greek seas are the same, if a little bit

Low life

The art of losing your hair

Although fatigued to the point of catatonia, and sitting there like a 19th-century Fang funeral mask, I am glad to contribute to the gaiety of a dinner party by being a good listener. But to be a good listener, even a catatonic requires acting skills. I am learning to lift my glass to my mouth

Real life

The lost dogs of Surrey

The woman pulled up in her flashy 4×4 which was meandering along the farm track in that way people have when they have ‘questions’. People in Surrey often have questions as they drive past a farm. For example, I had a gentleman query why the horses were wearing ‘blindfolds’ recently, and I had to explain

Wine Club

Wine Club: six seriously tasty wines with 20% off

I have quite the spring in my step as I write and no, clever clogs, not just because of my regular mid-morning sharpener, satisfying and restorative though it was. What do you take me for? No, it’s because I have nothing but good news to impart this week and I’m confident that your happiness is

No sacred cows

Have my suits shrunk in lockdown?

I hadn’t noticed how much weight I’d put on during lockdown until I went out for a business lunch a couple of weeks ago. It was the first time I’d put on a suit and tie in 16 months. As I struggled to pull on the trousers, I thought: ‘Something’s wrong here. Did Caroline hang

Spectator Sport

What would Avery Ice Age have made of the Tokyo Olympics?

Avery Brundage was known to his enemies as Avery Ice Age — and to quite a few of his friends too, I would imagine. He was a man of ‘dictatorial temperament’, according to one of his critics. A wealthy American, Brundage brought his ultra-conservative outlook to bear on the Olympics, which he bossed from 1952-72.

Dear Mary


High on the hog: The Pig at Bridge Place reviewed

The Pig at Bridge Place is not a pig in possession of a country house, but I would be for it. You cannot have enough pigs, or any edible fauna. It is, rather, a hotel inside a Jacobean mansion — or, rather, part of a Jacobean mansion, the rest burnt down, and is all the

Mind your language

The dirty truth about ‘wash-up’

‘They asked me if I wanted to wash up before we even went in to dinner,’ my husband recalled with mock horror of a visit to America some years ago. He doesn’t get out much. It is true that Americans use wash up differently from us, to mean washing your hands (and perhaps face while


The Golden Scales

I’m not the kind to fidget, fray or fret.I’m truly a soul at peace – ask anyone!The savoir faire for which I’m widely knownhas optimised my odds in life’s roulette. Am I the underdog to back? You bet!With equal yin and yang, in union,I have a personal hotline to the Zone.I relish risk, I rise

The Hori-Hori Trowel

In memory of David Best (1952–2021) I’ve savaged with my fork weed after weed. My lost hori-hori trowel, if it’s here – this is my hope – might smilingly appear again, old friend, from its green dungeon – freed! It’s heartbreaking to have the sheath alone, as if shrugged off by death, and not the

The turf

Proper racing is back at last

At last proper racing is back. Through the long days of lockdown horses and jockeys have still given their all on the track. But racing is an emotive, instinctive sport which needs the oohs and aahs of sizeable involved and vocal crowds to impart its magic. With Ascot’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes,