Threads

Think of something that mesmerises you. It might be a moment visualised vertically instead of part of a horizontal continuum, one that probes and reveals. Time passing might be visualised like a weft of horizontal threads weaving through the taut, upright threads of...

Lies

Words can lead one along fascinating paths. Scarborough lies on the cliffs not far from where I live. It is an intriguing coastline that has inspired great writers. Ann Bronte, the lesser-known Bronte sister, died in Scarborough where she had gone to be cured of...

A Country Feast

We were told that the mill where we have taken our olive harvest for years was hosting a supper in aid of the restoration of the local church. ‘Why don’t you come?’ I was asked to pay at the local bar, but they only wanted my name and how many in our group. We were to...

Ferrara

Slanting across northern Italy between the Alps and the Apennines is the Val Padana is the plaIn where the river Po flows through probably the most extensive cultivation of rice in Europe. After the disintegration of the Roman Empire from the fourth century A.D....

Sharecropping

I first went to Italy when sharecropping had been only abolished a few years earlier and contracts still had to run their legal course. It was a way of cultivating the countryside, I was told, that had lasted unbroken since Roman times, so for nearly twenty-one...

Leonardo and the Queen

  As I write, history is palpably being made, so I take refuge in the past. I have been asked how over 600 drawings and sketches by Leonardo da Vinci came into the possession of the Queen of the British Isles. No pictures survive from Antiquity, so no depictions...