Can’t see the wood for the trees? (Musei Vaticani Pt I)

In 1969 the BBC broadcast a six part series called Civilisation which celebrated the development of western art and culture. Though originally envisaged purely as a means to demonstrate the capabilities of newly introduced colour TV, the series had a major impact for many. I was only 10 years old at the time, but still … Continue reading Can’t see the wood for the trees? (Musei Vaticani Pt I)



Those who persevered with the BBC's series Gunpowder beyond the early torture/execution scenes will have witnessed the key role that Robert Cecil played as adviser to James VI & I (and before him Elizabeth I).  Cecil's father William was arguably the world's first prominent spymaster, and when he was forced from office for having incurred Elizabeth's wrath over … Continue reading Theobalds


Sir David Attenborough found himself in a bit of hot water last week, water being the nub of the problem.  He presented two programmes on BBC Radio that examined the possibility that the reasons we are so different to the other apes (bipedal, hairless, larger brains) was a result of evolutionary adaptations to an aquatic environment.  (You … Continue reading Aquaman

Mixed Feelings

I've been lucky enough to visit Tanzania twice and on each occasion have managed to incorporate a safari; to the amazing extinct volcanic crater of Ngorongoro on my first trip, but to Lake Manyara National Park both times.  Manyara may be lesser known, but it did have something in its favour; your proximity to the … Continue reading Mixed Feelings

Don’t Spit on the Bus

When I was at school one of the more memorable teachers was Ian "Johnny" Whan, a geography teacher whose lessons were peppered with anecdotes from his life and travels that often demonstrated his personal enthusiasms more than they illuminated the subject. Often exaggerated for dramatic effect they nevertheless had some impact; I can't visit the … Continue reading Don’t Spit on the Bus

Jervaulx Journey

What links Valentines day, a BBC historical drama based on a Booker Prize winner, and visit to a seemingly remote part of North Yorkshire? The answer is one of the most revolutionary periods of English History; the dissolution of the monasteries.  To simplify things enormously, the love of one of our most iconic monarchs for a … Continue reading Jervaulx Journey

About a Boy

The novelist Helen Fielding recently caused outrage amongst her fans when it was announced that in her latest book she had killed off one of the main characters of her hugely successful Bridget Jones series.  Bridget was now a widow, having lost her husband five years ago. Why should this cause such dismay?  The man … Continue reading About a Boy