Café culture finally makes it to Southsea!

It’s like waiting for a bus for ages. First one comes and then another in close succession.  So it is with the former catering wilderness that was, until recently, Southsea Beach in Portsmouth, Hampshire – even The Guardian picked up on the new Southsea buzz a few weekends ago. Taking The Hound for walks along…

Foreign felines make you feel at home

It always surprises me whenever I travel how many nations love the small fluffy animal which is Felis catus or the domestic cat. (Above – Baku, Azerbaijani resident at the Karvansara Restoran in the Inner City). Once worshipped as a god, these elegant feline beauties display no linguistic difficulties when encountering strangers, enter into amicable conversations…

Hinton Ampner Bluebell Walk

As the recent and very sad fire damage of Clandon House has shown, the treasures protected for us by the National Trust are not here forever and we should take advantage of them when we can. It was with this in mind that I re-visited Hinton Ampner in Bramdean, Hampshire – one of my very favourite Trust properties…

Quintessentially English – it’s Bluebell time!

Nothing shouts Englishness as much as a bluebell does – a sentiment outlined in today’s Daily Telegraph. They are early, they are bright as a button and it is said that half of the world’s population of bluebells are based right here on our soil. So where can we spot them? Probably in your nearest…

Picture alert! Spring is here!

Every year I am taken by surprise by the early Spring arrival of banks of vibrant yellow flowers – the blooming of the rape seed flowers offering banks of yellow contrasting so beautifully with the bright green of neighbouring fields. So if like me, you feel these vast swathes of yellow enhance our country landscapes,…

The incomparable Hermione

  Every once in a while, a big idea comes along which is breathtaking in its audacity, scope and simplicity. Welcome to the story of Hermione, the replica of the ship that took Lafayette over the Atlantic to the Americas in the War of Independence against the British. Why am I so struck by this…

On the trail of Jane Austen …

With the 200th anniversary of the first publication of the novel Emma this year, I thought it might be fun to share some of the “Austen Trail” I have done on my travels around Hampshire and Surrey. I’m sure there’s a lot more you can do but these are the few things that have crossed…

Country Pub Series: The Bird in Hand, Lovedean

I first wrote about my local – The Bird in Hand – a while ago now but am reprising the post as it has just enjoyed a rather viscious battering from food critic, Tom Parker Bowles in Event Magazine – Mail on Sunday.  I admit, I don’t really go out to Sunday lunch but on every…

Three further finds – Magical Côte d’Azur

If you have read my last two last blog posts, I have been pulling out some of my treasured memories to my re-introduction to the Côte d’Azur last December – things that you might just not expect to see on the French Riviera. We know about Picasso and his links to the Côte d’Azur but…

Three sweet finds – Magical Côte d’Azur

Following on from my previous post sharing some of the secrets I found when I visited the legendary Côte d’Azur last December, these next three finds have a definite food and drink edge to them. It started at the Hôtel du Clos in the rural village of Le Rouret (15 mins drive from Grasse) which is,…