Ghosts

The very word – ghost – evokes fear and fascination. It conjures up, literally, a host of images from will o’ the wisps dancing in cemeteries to Anne Boleyn running along a corridor in Hampton Court clasping her head under her arm. A country house near us boasts of a...

Chance

Some years ago I was having dinner in a handsome brick townhouse built in the early 1700s when a small soft piece of leather with a ribbon in a bow was passed around – a tiny child’s shoe. It had just been found under centuries-old plaster, recently removed to...

Sound and Fury

  ‘In a full-hearted evensong Of joy unlimited…’  Yesterday evening a thrush serenaded us as we sat under a serene blue evening sky. He started in the chestnut tree outside my window, perched behind one of its many candle-like flowers, then flew to perch on the...

Authentic or Not?

I was asked to look at a painting and pronounce whether it is an authentic work by Zoffany, an 18th-century portrait painter.  Is it really his autograph work? As I write his name, my memory conjures up visions of gentlemen and women, in formal or informal poses, in...

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...