by Desmond Morris
November 8, 2019
The Lives of the Surrealists

Desmond Morris is better known for his book The Naked Ape, which he wrote in 1967 (and which ranks amongst the top 100 bestsellers of all time), than he is for his surrealist paintings. Both of these amply qualify him for writing about some of the major...

November 3, 2019

Sezincote near Bourton-on-the-Hill, Gloucestershire, was an early 19th century attempt to replicate the architecture of the Mughal Emperor Akbar who ruled from 1556 to 1605 and was known for his conscious mingling of Islamic and Hindu architectural styles. His...

by Samuel Beckett
November 1, 2019
Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett

Samuel Beckett’s ‘Trilogy’ is preceded by its reputation for being bleak, difficult and perhaps nihilistic. My advice is to set that aside and, to use T.S. Eliot’s phrase, “suspend your disbelief”. The cover of Vivian Mercier...

October 20, 2019
St Botolph's Church, Hardham

The white-washed St Botolph’s Church in Hardham, West Sussex, was almost certainly built before the Conquest. It is dedicated to a Saxon saint (the 7th century fenland St Botolph) and has a traditional square east end, rather than a more Romanesque rounded end...

October 10, 2019
Haddon Hall

When the rain of Derbyshire falls on the Peak District, the stones of Haddon Hall are scoured by it and progressively rounded. The castle’s ancient sluice-ways run silver alongside the timeless footsteps of its occupants. Though each weigh...

September 13, 2019
Farewell Drupal 8. Hello Backdrop CMS

I have written before of my love affair with Drupal 7 and, separately, of my anxiety about Drupal 8. Drupal 7’s abandon-ship, event-horizon end-of-life looms on...

September 8, 2019
St. Celynin‘s Church at Llangelynnin

Sloping down to the seashore and pointing towards distant Bardsey Island, which appears as a smudge of shadow shaped like a jockey’s cap on the far horizon, is the medieval St. Celynin’s Church at Llangelynnin, north of Towyn. The slope of the land...

by James Joyce
August 26, 2019
James Joyce, Ulysses

Everything and everyone is in Joyce’s Ulysses (even my very un-Irish surname, page 308), which is no suprise given that Joyce once confided that he had “put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing...

by Samuel Beckett
August 25, 2019
Samuel Beckett Watt

Having completed Joyce’s Ulysses last week, an experience that began with a lengthy uphill incline, I have followed on with a re-read of Samuel Beckett’s Watt which has been a gentle downhill glide of immense fun. Gratitude goes to my...

May 24, 2019
Parham House

Some of this country’s finest houses are perched on a hilltop, others tucked away in woodland, some dominate a landscape with imposing intent, others block uninvited entry with obvious fortification. Aside from a stone ha-ha to keep out curious deer, Parham...

by Isabella Tree
February 1, 2019
Wilding: The return of nature to a British farm

You might think that a book about a farm in West Sussex could not be capable of exploring ideas of truly global importance. Equally, you might think that a book that does advance such lofty ideas could not be sufficiently anchored in hard-won experience. On both...

by P. W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking
January 27, 2019
LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media

“Once every village had an idiot. It took the internet to bring them all together”, are the memorable words of U.S. Army colonel turned historian Robert Bateman, quoted by the authors of LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media...

by Maryanne Wolf
November 10, 2018
Reader, Come Home by Maryanne Wolf

Maryanne Wolf’s recently-published Reader, Come Home would have had less authority for me had I not read her Proust and the Squid: the Story...

by Maryanne Wolf
October 23, 2018
Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf

It is over twenty-two years since I had the privilege of sitting amongst youngsters to help them combat their dyslexia and more than that since I have fully read a densely-referenced book on the subject, but I wanted to prepare for reading Maryanne Wolf’s...

by C.F. Tunnicliffe
October 3, 2018

Michael McCarthy in his Moth Snowstorm cited Charles Tunnicliffe as being, in his opinion, “the pre-eminent British bird artist of the mid-twentieth century” and his ...

October 2, 2018
Uig Sands Chessmen, Isle of Lewis and the British Museum

The oldest rocks in Britain are found in the Outer Hebrides. These are twisted Lewisian gneisses which were formed up to 3,000 million years ago, two-thirds of the known age of our planet. Essentially, they are igneous rocks made from magma deep within the...

August 30, 2018
Field can contain HTML

For those for whom web standards matter, the devil is always in the detail. The content-management system Drupal throws this at us by the bucket load. No doubt other CMSs do the same. Fortunately, Drupal (both versions 7 and 8) comes up...

by Michael McCarthy
August 30, 2018

Moth snowstorm is a powerful and heart-felt meditation on the Great Thinning that mankind is wreaking on nature. The author draws on his personal experiences - from his earliest years onwards - expressed in close and personal terms, lining these up...

August 30, 2018
House for an Art Lover

On the inside this might be just another sugar-coated wedding venue - for which purpose it can indeed be hired - but the grey flanked House for an Art Lover in Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park is another key to unlocking the visionary output of the...

June 28, 2018
The Hill House

Try for a moment to imagine the noisy industrial clamour of Glasgow at the very start of the twentieth century, when shipyards and their associated engineering works made the Upper Clyde the ship-building centre of the world, an industrial furnace that contributed...

June 27, 2018

Be prepared to be overwhelmed when visiting Lacock Abbey (even on a heavily overcast day, as it was when we visited it). The Abbey sits close up against the River Avon in the northern quarter of Wiltshire in glorious, wooded countryside. Much of the original abbey...