Snapshots in words

Snapshots in words

I WAS GIVEN another three notebooks for Christmas: a classic fiery orange Moleskine with elasticated binder and internal pocket; a beautiful little hand-designed and branded black notebook from a friend who runs a graphic design company in Berlin; and - from my daughter, Lucy - an American Rite in the Rain All-Weather Memo Book, originally designed for woodsmen in Tacoma, WA, and perfect for damp birding trips in the UK. That one is the colour of beech leaves in mid-summer.

Why getting 'old' is old hat

Why getting 'old' is old hat

WHEN I WAS just 17, Simon & Garfunkel released the album Bookends, which included the plaintive song of ageing Old Friends.

The first verse sets the scene. ‘Old friends sat on a park bench like bookends. A newspaper blown through the grass falls on the round toes of the high shoes of the old friends.’ 

The arse in the window, and other tales of island life

The arse in the window, and other tales of island life

IN THE END, it was Max who made it happen. I had spent four decades dreaming of a return to the Shetland Islands and had consistently failed to find a travelling companion until I mentioned it to Max one day over lunch. Within weeks, it was sorted - and then some.

Smiles in the sky

Smiles in the sky

OKAY, IN that spirit of honesty and openness now so casually disregarded by politicians worldwide, let me declare an interest: Galvin at Windows on the 28th floor of the London Park Lane Hilton is not only one of my long-term favourite restaurants, it is run by people I've known for more than a decade and who I would like to think of as friends (if they'll have me).

Why back stories are hidden gems

Why back stories are hidden gems

BACK STORIES are a rich source of information and entertainment, but we have evolved not to think about them because absolutely everything has its own history - and dwelling on the history of everything can lead to cognitive overload. It’s a shame, though, because we miss so much - we look without seeing. And so I’m going to offer you a practical exercise in curiosity. 

 

Loving Languedoc

Loving Languedoc

WE STOPPED FOR lunch in Peyriac-de-mer, a tiny village not far from Narbonne on the Mediterranean coast. It was warm enough to sit outside in the village square, and we ordered the menu du jour: a creditable tapenade with local ham followed by grilled lamb chops, artichokes and sautéed potatoes. It was a wonderful, simple and homely meal, which made me think of the gastro pubs in the English county of Kent, where we live and how most of them had begun to over-reach themselves, influenced (like their customers) by TV shows including The Great British Menu, which celebrate complexity.