A Mozartian pilgrimage (Prague)

It is 255 years since the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and 220 years since his death. BBC’s Radio 3 began the New Year with 12 days of wall-to-wall Köchel numbers. Not to be outdone, here is my own small tribute to the genius of Salzburg. Continue reading A Mozartian pilgrimage (Prague)


Bear essentials

Canada’s Arctic has been inhabited by humans for at least 4,000 years. The first people known to have produced figurative art there belonged to the Dorset culture (c. 600 BC to 1,000 AD). One of their descendants is the Inuit artist Quaraq Nungusuituq, who carved the bear pictured here. Continue reading Bear essentials

Iced rowan berries

A recent cold snap has brought to mind one of the many evocative passages in Doctor Zhivago. With his artist’s eye for nature and his poet’s ear for cadence, Boris Pasternak writes memorable descriptions of the Russian landscape. Here is a detail from Book Two, Part Twelve.  Continue reading Iced rowan berries

Fossil tree sap captures and captivates!

Amber has fascinated people for thousands of years, especially those pieces that contain insects or fragments of plants. With its unique ability to preserve the organic material it imprisons, including strands of DNA, amber provides us with a translucent window onto the past. Continue reading Fossil tree sap captures and captivates!

Of tangerine trees and marmalade skies

Marmalade on toast for breakfast – a curious British craving – suffered a knockback with the arrival of yoghurt and muesli. Yet, marmalade in a variety of fruity guises is a stalwart of country fairs, homebake festivals, and the shelves of discerning gourmets. It can even lead to the odd battle. Continue reading Of tangerine trees and marmalade skies

Moral decency and crimes against humanity

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that politicians publish their memoirs in order to justify their sins. Sometimes they regret having been misled by others. Occasionally they admit to error. But, for the most heinous acts, they never, ever apologise . Continue reading Moral decency and crimes against humanity