Christmas Trees

I’m willing to bet that in the bumper Christmas edition of the TV series on Queen Victoria we will have Prince Albert starting the tradition of the Christmas Tree. We may even enjoy his brilliant idea for the Great Exhibition of 1851, but his death so soon after will...

The Greenness of Grass

I look out on the grass in front of Beverley Minster and marvel at how green it is. In all these years I have never seen it such a rich shade of green. Have I changed, or has it? Perhaps I am influenced by a book I’m reading set in China after the Communist revolution...

Into Winter

In the Château de Chantilly there is a gem of a work of art. It’s an illuminated manuscript referred to as the ‘rich hours of the Duke of Berry’ – Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. It is so fragile that it is rarely on display, but on the one occasion that I did...

An Oliveless Autumn

Autumn is particularly lovely in Tuscany with the red pomegranates – often with an open gash – set in bushes turning bright yellow. No olives to speak of this year because of the relentless dry spring and summer. In May the sun dried the small, unexciting flowers off...