When I was at Trinity College, Dublin, there was a vogue amongst the students for visiting Irish seers or fortune tellers. I didn’t believe in such things but on one occasion I did go and the seer told me I’d marry a fair, sandy-haired man. This I completely dismissed as then I liked dark Latino types – but of course I did in fact marry (very happily) a fair, sandy-haired man. The seer also told me that I’d ‘break bread in many countries of the world’, which as a travel writer I am also lucky enough to have done. It is a fabulous way to see the world, to meet fascinating people and to investigate things in which you are interested: in my case plants and gardens; textiles; literature; and art.
As I entered Amboise my eye was drawn across the Loire to the magnificent display of turrets and spires of the Royal Castle silhouetted against the skyline.
Homes & Antiques
In a tiny, atmospherically lit boutique in the backstreets of Barcelona, I peer at the contents of some time-worn cabinets in a former draper’s shop. Read more…
Le Marche, Italy
What do we look for in an Italian holiday? Beautiful beaches, amazing art and architecture, gem-like hilltop villages, magnificent wild mountains, interesting gardens, delicious food and drink? Le Marche, on the Adriatic side of Italy, has all these. Only one thing is lacking: crowds of tourists. During my stay it was unusual to find even a handful in most of the museums, galleries and churches I visited. Read more…
Behind the walls of the twisting calli and along the canals, the odd cascade of foliage or the vague scent of flowers may be the only evidence the visitor finds of the hundreds of hidden gardens in Venice, remarkable not only for their intrinsic beauty but also that they exist at all in this city created on moving water. Read more…
Vienna and Piber, Austria
Having longed to see the white horses of the Spanish Riding School since I was a pony mad little girl I can hardly believe that here I am at last in the magnificent Baroque winter riding school. Read More…
From the earliest days the Venetians adorned themselves and their homes with wonderful fabrics. In the beginning these were imported from the East, but from about the 12th Centurary the canny Venetians realised that it would make economic sense to undertake their own production. Read More…
I was introduced to this walk by a friend years ago when I lived in Paris and I am drawn back to it every time I return – especially in spring as it takes you through a network of glass-covered arcades protected from the rain, the cold and the traffic. Read More…
The history of Florence is intimately bound up with textiles, as it was the cloth trade which powered the medieval city’s economy and so facilitated the construction of some of the most important buildings we see today. Read more…
New Ross, Ireland
One of the most important endeavours in the textile world is nearing completion. It is the Ros Tapestry, consisting of 15 large panels (137x183cm) which has been stitched by 150 volunteers from the town of New Ross in The Republic of Ireland. Read More…
Lake Garda, Italy
Just About Travel
Lake Garda is the biggest of the Italian Lakes and stretches from Monte Baldo in the north to the Po Valley in the south. It is also possibly the most beautiful – at least that was my thought as I saw it shimmering enticingly when I set off to explore some of the places which had inspired writers and poets. Read more…
We are in Dublin in the Merrion Hotel, an elegant Georgian building created from four large townhouses, in one of which the Duke of Wellington was born. It is a luxurious hotel but one with a special secret – its art collection.
River Cruise, North Vietnam
I am watching from the deck as on the riverbank, one of the crew draws on a thick hawser from the boat and ties it firmly round a clump of bamboo. This is to bring the boat close enough to the bank to enable us to disembark. Each time we do this it is different, sometimes simple planking followed by a scramble up the bank is enough (there are always half a dozen crew stationed to help anyone unsteady) at other times we all clamber into small boats or board one of the ferries which criss-cross the river, in the company of local people, their ducks and pigs.
Grenada – The Tropical Spice Isle
The Cultural Voyager
The bounty of the seas and the amazing ease with which vegetables, spices and fruit grows in Grenada means that there are plenty of treats in store for food lovers. The ethnic mix of the population who are mainly of West African descent with a small percentage of Indian, French and British has resulted in a unique traditional cuisine.
Art in Grenada
It was a chance purchase which started it. Almost at the end of a trip to Grenada a couple of years ago we were taken by a friend to an art gallery just outside the capital, St George’s. There we saw a selection of striking works but what appealed most strongly to us were the simple, naïve illustrations of Grenadian life.
Mechelen, Belgium Selvedge
If the restoring of paintings is meticulous and time consuming, think how much harder it is to repair antique tapestries with their sheer size and transportation problems. The Royal Manufactures of Tapestry, De Wit in Belgium however, undaunted by these considerations, has been dealing with tapestries since its foundation in 1889.
Nowadays their staff routinely collect tapestries from leading museums and collectors world-wide and bring them safely ensconced in tubes, to the workshops for conservation.
Read more …