Madeleine Silver

The do’s and don’ts of Christmas thank you letters

My late great-aunt would arrive for Christmas from Edinburgh with a stash of pre-written thank you letters. She’d leave gaps for the specifics of the present and the rest was a scramble of generic, suitably gushing adjectives. The turkey pan would still be soaking and my great-aunt not yet north of the border when you’d

The death of the gap year

When the University of Cambridge’s vice-chancellor Stephen Toope told the Times that students’ gap year projects abroad can build less resilience than the everyday lives of students from modest backgrounds, he was of course right. In today’s culture, the three months I spent attempting to teach English in southern Malawi in the late Noughties now

The dos and don’ts of school tours

There are moments in life that serve as a wake-up call to adulthood. Perhaps, the first was sitting in the beige office of a mortgage broker, wondering how my soon-to-be-husband and I had made the leap from meeting on a sweaty Durham dance floor to this airless room in Holborn. More recently, it was looking

Britain’s best foodie pitstops

Savvy planning can negate succumbing to a sad Ginsters sandwich and insipid service station coffee as you hit the road and criss-cross your way around the UK this spring. Of course, there are the A-grade service stations run by the Westmoreland family (at Gloucester on the M5, Cairn Lodge on the M74 and Tebay on

The dos and don’ts of Christmas cards

Not even a pillowy panettone or the most lethal of brandy butters can beat the thud of a round robin letter on the doormat. It’s that perfect concoction of mundane detail (how the electric car is faring) and low-level bragging (news of a child’s Oxbridge acceptance letter) that make them so tantalising, the ultimate yuletide

The rise of the flexi-boarder

Spend a night at Woldingham School in Surrey — with its wellness room, indoor tennis dome and a menu offering cod steak with prawns and tarragon, all just an hour’s drive from London — and you may feel like you’re on an upmarket mini-break. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that the number of ‘flexi-boarders’ —