Park life

My vote winner? Banning ‘fun’ runs

One of us must once have told a political pollster: ‘I really have no idea at all who I’m going to vote for.’ A moment of mild exasperation put us down as ‘Don’t knows’. Forever afterwards, the prospect of an election, whether for Wandsworth council, the Mayor of London or the Battersea parliamentary constituency, brings

Real life

Do charities really deserve my mum’s data?

A letter from Archie Norman, chairman of M&S, popped into my inbox after I complained that I had run over my foot with a changing room door. It wasn’t a personal letter, rather a generic response, and this was a relief because I would not have liked the actual Archie Norman to have actually seen

Wild life

My battle with the dreaded ‘black cotton’

Laikipia, Kenya By the time I set off from the farm before dawn we’d had 22in of rain in the past month. At the bottom of the valley I saw in the headlights that our lugga, or seasonal watercourse, had become a roaring torrent of brown water after yet another downpour overnight. If I tried

Wine Club

Top-notch Beaujolais, courtesy of Mr Wheeler

Hurrah! It’s May and time for our annual offer of top-notch Beaujolais from family-owned Maison Jean Loron (est: 1711), courtesy of Mr Wheeler. All the wines are 100 per cent Gamay, of course, but they’re very different, each with their own subtle characteristics and quirks and Mrs Ray and I had quite an evening delving

No sacred cows

Do voters really prefer Starmer?

Rishi Sunak has been widely ridiculed for trying to spin the local election results as bad news for Keir Starmer. While acknowledging they were ‘bitterly disappointing’ for the Tories, the Prime Minister cited an analysis by Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher, the renowned psephologists, showing that a similar showing by Labour in a general election

Dear Mary


How to become an old soak

Drink and longevity: there seems to have been a successful counter-attack against the puritans, prohibitionists and other health faddists. Indeed, there is virtually a consensus that red wine has almost medicinal properties. That said, a confusion about so-called units remains. When the measurement was explained to me, I said that it sounded adequate. ‘Really?’ ‘Yes,

Mind your language

Do sparks really fly?

‘Sparks,’ said my husband, after a short pause. I had asked him what one could spark. His answer was true but not all that helpful. I had come across a headline on the BBC News website that said: ‘Record hot March sparks “unchartered territory” fears.’ The inverted commas around unchartered territory were not meant as


All My Joy

Robin is dead no more shall sing nor ruffle his wing no more shall sing Robin is dead no more shall wait at the garden gate no more shall wait Robin is dead his soul has flown but whither gone oh wither gone Robin is dead and all my joy my sweet bonny boy and

The Wiki Man

How to solve ‘range anxiety’

In ‘The Adventure of Silver Blaze’, Sherlock Holmes mentions ‘the curious incident of the dog in the night-time’. ‘But the dog did nothing in the night-time,’ argues Inspector Gregory. ‘That was the curious incident,’ replies Holmes. You never hear anyone say: ‘We finally stumbled across a charming little petrol station nestling among the trees’ Along