Love and Loss in Reading’s Ruins

“What’s here? A cup closed in my true love’s hand?” The audience looks on in silent sorrow as Romeo drinks the poison and Juliet stabs herself with a knife. I know this is coming of course, but that doesn’t stop me crying. I’m watching the most romantic of Shakespeare’s tragedies, misty-eyed, sitting on a fold-up chair within the ruins of Reading Abbey, in an outdoor … Continue reading Love and Loss in Reading’s Ruins

Theatre on the Rocks

My train hurtles through miles of open countryside, past fields of stubble and leafy green crops in straight lines. There’s long grass dotted with white blooms and yellow tufts and clouds of summer wildflowers float across the landscape like purple smoke. We whizz past sun-scorched farms, pigeons peck at corduroy soil and hay bales lie on the earth like massive half-corks. I close my eyes … Continue reading Theatre on the Rocks

Botanical Healing in Chelsea

Sunflowers helped clean the soil in Chernobyl by soaking up and storing radioactive particles in their roots, I discovered, as I pottered about reading the labels and smelling the lavender in London’s oldest botanical garden. During August’s respite from lockdown, I longed to go somewhere green and beautiful, to connect with the natural world for a few hours. Chelsea Physic Garden, home to over 5,000 … Continue reading Botanical Healing in Chelsea

Diana’s Memory Lives on in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens

The wide path that stretches down the western edge of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens is usually buzzing with tourists and crowds of young Londoners, but this summer it is quiet. Just a distant hum of traffic and the sound of leaves rustling in the wind, cyclists whirring quietly by and a trickle of runners and walkers. This is the snazzy side of the park … Continue reading Diana’s Memory Lives on in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens

Along the Brook to Hambleden Village

The old church smelled like old church – a slight whiff of damp and ancient stone that the fresh air can’t reach because the doors stay closed to keep the jackdaws out. I sat alone in one of the few pews that weren’t blocked off by stacks of kneeling prayer cushions, made of tightly tapestried wool in an assortment of colourful designs. Saint Mary the … Continue reading Along the Brook to Hambleden Village

Waiting Patiently to Swim Across the Channel

I am on the riverbank at Aston, a tiny village near Henley, on a sunny Saturday morning. Surrounded by the green of wild hedgerows and overhanging trees, river reeds and fields on all sides. The Thames flows quietly by, glinting in the still air. Six women in swimsuits have just waded in, waist-deep, talking all at once about the size of their boobs and laughing … Continue reading Waiting Patiently to Swim Across the Channel

Shakespeare at the Globe

We all stop talking and turn to watch the cast of Twelfth Night sashay out on to the stage. I am visiting Shakespeare’s Globe on London’s South Bank – a replica of the Elizabethan playhouse where William Shakespeare was playwright, actor and co-owner between 1599 and 1613. A circular thatched roof covers the stage and three tiers of seats, but my £5 ticket has me standing … Continue reading Shakespeare at the Globe

Treasures of the British Library

Every book published in the UK and Ireland is deposited, catalogued and archived by the British Library at St Pancras in London. So, having just self-published my own book, I decided to go there and have a look around. The British Library receives around three million new books every year, along with a huge number of newspapers, maps, scripts, databases, music recordings, drawings, films, digital … Continue reading Treasures of the British Library