Crackling

Beppino’s family have lived in this Tuscan valley for centuries. He was standing on the terrace above us surveying the valley. I thought, ‘Leonardo da Vinci once stood here to draw his map of the then malarial valley, now in the collection of Queen Elizabeth. He...

Just Stones

When driving through the patchwork of green fields and grazing sheep in North Yorkshire  this weekend, I marvelled at the hard simplicity of the stone walls. Once these hillsides and valleys crossed by fast-flowing rivers must have been as strewn with stones as the...

Iran in Retrospect

‘Is Iran a police state?’ I asked Ali, our excellent guide. He hesitated. The organisers of our tour of Iran asked us not to name anyone we would like to meet there as we are requested to do on our visa application. Any meetings should be arranged through our guide....

Hello from Isfahan

I am writing this before going to a most beautiful garden in the hotel which is a huge former caravanserai to listen, in English, to those of famous Persian poets​. ​We flew to Shiriaz, a rather nondescript​ town with single storey buildings hidden behind shops...