Why it’s time for a pilgrimage revival

At 3 a.m, with sleepless hours slipping by as storms besiege my tent, it’s easy to ask: why? Why swap the security of a home for a pilgrimage on foot with no itinerary beyond a smudged path on a 14th century map? And no comforts beyond those carried on my back or offered by strangers? Back on the bright path next morning, though, the question answers itself. The way is its own reward: the land resonates; the past speaks; my soul sings – and so do I. But my departure had not only been inspired by the pull of the open road. There were push factors, too. The economic attrition

I’ve found a little Eden in London

I’m not one of life’s early risers but an exception had to be made on Wednesday last week. In an event organised by Lord Chadlington (Peter Selwyn Gummer), Michael Gove was talking about ‘levelling up’ to an invited audience at the Corinthia hotel in London. This was a breakfast meeting, doors open at 7.45, and I wanted to hear Mr Gove, a politician I know and admire. So I was there. Gove was impressive. But in the end neither he nor the breakfast were what I’ll always remember about that morning. Around nine o’clock we tipped out on to the pavements by Embankment Tube station. It was a glorious morning,

Seven walks inspired by artists

As we all discovered during lockdown, going for a walk is one of the best things you can do to keep your mind and body in good working order, and for me it’s even better if there’s some artistic or literary interest en route. Some of my favourite outings over these last few years have been spent following in the footsteps of artists and writers, and now Britain is opening up again it’s the ideal time to get back on the cultural trail. Here are a few of my favourite arty walks. I’d love to hear about some of yours. Simon Armitage, The Pennines Back in 2010, those clever, creative folk at Ilkley

An independent observer: Whereabouts, by Jhumpa Lahiri, reviewed

After falling in love with Italy as a young woman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri broke with English and began writing in Italian. Her new novel — a slim and bewitching tale of a woman at her midpoint — she wrote first in Italian and has since translated. The story is told in a series of vignettes, the lengthiest six or so pages. Each is titled with the setting — in the office, at the register, on the street — and paints an exquisite picture of a single soul moving thoughtfully about her city. ‘I don’t share my life with anyone,’ says that soul early on. She lives alone