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Thudding in the Norfolk woods

If you’re ever in Norfolk and fancy having a go at archery, there’s a patch of woodland opposite Voewood House in High Kelling, east of Holt. On most days there’s a sign at the roadside advertising archery; it’s a tight turn, but you can drive in through the gate.   The woods are owned by […]

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Best gig of the year, and it was only February!

I’m often asked when to open a bottle of wine that’s been gathering dust in somebody’s rack – “will it still be any good?” My advice?   “Open it without expectations, and hope to be pleasantly surprised”. Sometimes I take a similar approach when the programme from Ronnie Scott’s appears in my inbox. Pick a […]

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Indonesia comes to London Book Fair

17,000 Islands of Imagination at London Book Fair Indonesia will be London Book Fair’s Market Focus for 2019, introducing the country’s “17,000 Islands of Imagination” to the international public, “symbolising the intellectual and artistic richness of this incredibly diverse and multi-religious nation”. London Book Fair, 12 – 14 March 2019, at Olympia. https://www.londonbookfair.co.uk/en/Whats-On/Market-Focus—main-page/Indonesia/   General de Gaulle […]

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Sargent in Stockholm

I’ve always enjoyed grand portraits by the great artists: Van Dyck, Velazquez, Gainsborough, you know the list. I came late to John Singer Sargent. I first encountered his work at an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in 2015. Two years later I was enchanted by the intimacy of his watercolours at the Dulwich Picture […]

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Swedish Food, Part Two: my quest for a meatball

First, a waterborne Smörgåsbord on the Steamship Stockholm. Invited to the city of Stockholm for a birthday celebration, we were instructed by our generous hosts to be ready to board ship at 11.30 on Sunday for a prompt departure at midday. The captain, they told us, would not wait for latecomers.       The […]

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Swedish food, Part One: “what have the Swedes ever done for us?”

In her Reith Lecture in 2018, Canadian historian Margaret MacMillan said this about the Swedish people:   “Think of the Swedes” “I mean we think of the Swedes now today as making expeditions to Ikea, assembling furniture quietly, not getting cross at it. We think of them going to the woods and picking berries. I mean […]

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A taste for Nordic Noir in Stockholm

I’ve read the novels of Henning Mankell; on TV I’ve seen both the Swedish version, and Kenneth Branagh’s interpretation of the world-weary detective Kurt Wallander. (Perhaps he was just weary of the insistent ringtone on his mobile that goes off at the most inopportune moments).       I was an avid follower of ‘Arne […]

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My round-up of 2018

2018 has been a year that required urgent distractions from the shambles that passed for political debate in Westminster. Fortunately it’s been a good year for adventures: exhibitions, travel, theatre, food & drink. Here are just a few of my personal highlights:   Theatre – behind the scenes at The Bridge In February I wrote […]

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Ten favourite Bacari in Venice for chewing the lardo

Cichètti, or Chewing the Lardo   There’s something democratic about this city without cars. No-one can hide behind the anonymity of a windscreen, so the chances are you will know your fellow passengers on the vaporetto by sight, at the very least. Lawyers and professors share the same transport system as plumbers and market traders. […]

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Four favourite Venetian restaurants revisited

  A four night stay in November was prompted by the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Jacopo Tintoretto’s birth. This in turn triggered the question “where to have dinner?” Instead of seeking out new restaurants, we decided to revisit four that we have tried before. For the first evening we wanted somewhere lively and […]

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