The full English: how to fall in love with this country

My nine-year-old half-Russian daughter has arrived in England for the first time since she was a baby. As she knows almost nothing about British culture apart from Peppa Pig and Willy Wonka, my job is to put together a week-long programme before she goes back to Italy, where she currently lives with her mother, my ex-partner. They were living in Russia but left following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Ideally, my daughter will go home enthused about all things English and wanting a lifetime more. But where do I start? Peppermint Aeros and Crunchie bars are the things I want to pass on, far more than the music of Elgar

How to get the most from your wood-burner

Recently, Sadie Nicholas shared ten lessons she’s learnt from ten years of having a wood-burner. In response, Spectator readers offered their own advice for getting the most from your wood-burner – from maximising the heat and minimising the mess to fire-lighting tricks and cooking tips… Join the fan club Try cooking with it Choose your wood wisely Don’t spend a fortune on firewood Dry matters How to clean the glass (or not) How to get the fire going Finding the best firelighters Dealing with unwelcome visitors Get the stove (and the set-up) right

The dos and don’ts of getting a wood-burner

Of all the money we’ve spent on our barn conversion since we moved in 13 years ago, the wood-burner we installed in our living room trumps bathrooms, oak flooring and even a beautiful garden room extension as our best investment. At £2,000, the neat cast-iron stove was worth every penny – and never more so than now, when the temperature is plummeting and our smart meter informs us that we’re blowing a zillion pounds a day on gas and electricity despite being frugal with the heating and, well, everything else.  Log-burners weren’t such a common sight when we got ours in 2012, but since then they’ve grown in popularity among

The cult of the wood-burner

The British middle-classes are a predictable breed. We love nothing more than to take goods that were once prudent and pragmatic and give them a luxury edge. From the Mini Cooper, first marketed as an affordable car for the masses, to Land Rover Defenders that we have no intention of spoiling with mud, we like our creature comforts to be rooted in a make-do-and-mend mindset, even if they have long outgrown their original purpose. It’s little wonder, then, that the British have been so quick to embrace wood-burners. Because what embodies that no-nonsense, post-war mentality better than huddling around the hearth to keep warm or stacking logs into a shed

How to cut your hair at home: top tips from Hugh Grant’s barber

“I don’t like dropping names,” says Haks Oscar, when I ask him about his celebrity clients, “but we’ve got several – from Hugh Grant to Jose Mourinho.” The Chelsea based barber has been cutting hair for 33 years, and the tradition has been in his family for five generations. “We are, what I call, the old school real barbers,” says Haks, who’s transported by private jet to attend to the tresses of Saudi royalty, “whenever they require.” His King’s Road barbershop in Chelsea has even had princely posteriors in its seats. “We have members of royalty from various countries that, as a family, come over on their private jet, just

How would Labour’s proposed tax grab affect your home?

At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that Labour’s publication ‘Land for the Many’ is a set of policy ideas that solves the housing crisis. Increasing the supply of affordable housing and freeing up land to build, improving access to existing stock and transparency sounds fair, right? Yet tucked away inside the report, you’ll find a range of measures that could pull the market as we know it to pieces; it’s the most radical sets of property proposals since the mass building plan after the Second World War. The report’s editor, George Monbiot, has not thought through the unintended consequences of the proposals. Just one example and perhaps