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The hunt for Cameron

On a perfect winter morning, I mount a dapple grey horse in an icy farmyard a few minutes from the Prime Minister’s country home and prepare to go hunting with the Chipping Norton set. David Cameron’s local hunt, the Heythrop, is meeting just round the corner from where the PM lives, in the Oxfordshire village

A badger killer confesses

I killed a badger the other day. I was driving at 40 at 6 a.m. on my way to hospital. I had been told I was first on their operations list. Two black lines divided by a white one dived at me from the dark and went under my left front wheel — bump! —

Blood oath

The final instalment of the Twilight saga, Breaking Dawn: Part 2, premiered in Los Angeles last month, and the streets were thronged with its core audience of teenage girls and middle-aged gay men. But as the handsome cast strode up the red carpet, they were greeted by more than just hormonal screams. A group of

This old House

‘If the Palace were not a listed building of the highest heritage value, its owners would probably be advised to demolish and rebuild.’ Heartlessly, this concludes the latest official report into the restoration of the Houses of Parliament. Four thousand miles away in New Delhi, it’s the same story. The Central Public Works Department has

Who killed Newsweek?

So farewell then, Newsweek magazine, which published its last print issue this week. After 79 years — 15 of them as my employer — the venerable old rag is to disappear into an uncertain, web-only future. Many newspapers and magazines have folded as advertising shrinks and readers go online but Newsweek is perhaps the first

Andalucia: A culinary odyssey

On my most recent visit to Seville — the Andalusian city of proverbial fiestas and sunshine — the rain poured for days without stopping. The streets were almost deserted by lunchtime, with tourists taking refuge in the dozens of colourfully tiled tapas bars clustering under the shadow of the cathedral’s soaring bell tower, the Giralda.

Aegean Greece: Eternal bliss

There’s nothing like a financial crisis to bring out the worst in people. Witness the shocking rise of Golden Dawn, a bunch of Nazi thugs masquerading as a nationalist party, currently rampaging through the streets of Athens. Ironically, another unfortunate side effect of Greece’s colossal debt mountain has been a drop in the number of

Holidays with the ancients

For most Romans, there were no such things as ‘summer holidays’. Holidays were for the rich, who went to their Cape Cod equivalent: the bay of Naples, leaving the stench, filth and disease of malarial Rome for the tideless, sheltered bay (‘bay’ derives from the local resort Baiae), cool sea breezes, healthy spas and agreeable

“This coming year, I want to live”

What do New Year resolutions mean? Nothing, I have discovered, unless you resolve your old year’s first. In September I was diagnosed with colon cancer and since then, I’ve had time to think about time. It seems as though my past years have collapsed, one after another, one into the other, until I can see

Marseilles: Tough love

Arriving at Marseilles’s Gare St Charles in the early hours of a balmy October night, the first marvel of the city that is pointed out to me — both proudly and affectionately — is a large, well-fed rat that pours itself into a nook in the stone wall of the station. ‘Welcome to Marseilles,’ says

Aeolian joys

It’s 5 a.m., a splashy grey dawn, and we’re out of here on easyJet. Palermo is another world of heat and brightness but we’re not stopping; at the port we board a catamaran which churns its way towards the Aeolian islands, the volcanic archipelago off the north-east corner of Sicily. The islands are named after

Menton: The garden of France

A hundred years ago, travel writers commented, there was something peculiarly depressing about Menton — or Mentone as the British would say, recalling the days when the town situated on the Mediterranean border between France and Italy was an independent Italian-leaning state. It was depressing because wherever you looked there were people tottering palely along

Amalfi: This blessed plot

This is not an article about hedonism. Oh, no. The Amalfi coast may be the favoured historical playground of the bad and the beautiful — from Tiberius to Sophia Loren and Gwyneth Paltrow — but my theme is one of culture. What is it about this rocky stretch of southwest Italy that has drawn such