Dream house: Dordogne Cottage (and a postage stamp in Clapton)

As I sat on the Stansted Express last weekend, I peered out of the window at the nice flats, houses and back gardens of London Fields. “This looks nice,” I thought to myself, so fired up the Zoopla app to see what was for sale round there. What I found still makes my blood boil…

Postcards from Guimarães, Portugal

In the hills above Guimarães there’s a hidden garden. Flicking through old holiday photos, the mossy greenness of the grounds of the Pousada Mosteiro de Guimarães in northern Portugal is the perfect antithesis to the unrelenting greyness of January. Today the former monastery is a hotel, but wannabe Indiana Joneses can pretend they’ve discovered a forgotten…

The week in three things

A round up of some of the things that have caught my eyes and ears over the last seven days. Listen to: Her Story Made History, BBC Radio 4 I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen about this five part radio series. Each episode sees the BBC’s Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet meet a woman who…

Dream house: Smugglers Cottage, Herne

If you could live in your dream home, what would it look like? A castle? An ultra-modern eco home? A penthouse apartment overlooking Tower Bridge? Or any old thing as long as it costs under £250k. In between browsing eBay for old paintings, reading bedframe reviews on Dreams and stalking people on Instagram, I spend…

Visit Cuba: what to do, where to stay and what to eat and drink

Cuba’s distinctive smell of petrol fumes, cigar smoke and dust greets you almost as soon as you land at Havana’s Jose Marti airport. Travelling into the city you get a glimpse of the island nation’s unique character, passing men sat on the kerbside staring at nothing in particular, and overtaking every conceivable type of vehicle…

An idiot’s guide to making sloe gin

Foraging is one of those things that lots of us want to do but don’t. The excuses are numerous: we live in the city, we don’t have time, and, crucially, we’re scared of poisoning ourselves. Among the useless stuff we were taught at school, like Latin and the reproductive cycle of frogs, my geography teacher,…

Broadstairs Folk Week

You cannot beat a good day at the seaside. Exploring rock pools, paddling in the sea and wolfing down fish and chips in the rare British sunshine is a treat often overlooked in favour of cheap breaks to reliably hot destinations abroad. A new survey by the National Trust and YouGov found that trips to…

Rolling in the Chilterns

The Chilterns are great. Full of good pubs, bluebell woods and rich in wildlife, they’re brilliant for walking. But sometimes, let’s face it, you’ve just got to roll with it! We squeezed in a bit of walking too… starting at The Royal Standard of England, we built up an appetite taking the long pub walk which starts…

Tangled up in bluebells

I have found paradise.. and it’s in Perivale. Nestled between the A40 and the Grand Union Canal in west London is Perivale Wood. At this time of year the ancient woodland is carpeted with a sea of bluebells. And once a year, the nice people from the Selbourne Society who look after the wood open…

A rainy day road trip to Maldon

Rain: four letters that conjure up a thousand images. Depending on your mood, it can mean jumping in puddles, looping arms under an umbrella or having a well-earned duvet day. Sometimes it just suggests misery, cold and thwarted plans. Personally, I love the rain. Despite the bad press, British weather is mild and the main problem…

3 easy walks near London

Sometimes getting out of London seems like an insurmountable effort in itself, but if you can force yourself out of bed before 9am on a Saturday and get a pal to come with you, you’re half way there already.

Poppies at the Tower

The little boy who stood in front of me turned to his mum and said, “All of these people died in one war?” Each of the 888,246 ceramic poppies planted in the moat of the Tower of London represents a British military fatality during the First World War. If you can get to the Tower before the installation starts…