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‘The Future of War: A History’ by Sir Lawrence Freedman

The Oldie

The title of this book is a little misleading – no predictions about future war are made – but it gives a fascinating insight into the way that the prospect of future wars was considered in the past.

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‘Belonging: The Story of the Jews, 1492-1900’ by Simon Schama

The Oldie

The second volume of Simon Schama’s great project sees him examine the story of the Jewish people, from 1492 to the Dreyfus Affair. Schama’s prose and his skill in setting the scene make this dauntingly large book a fantastic read.

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‘Black Tudors: The Untold Story’ by Miranda Kaufmann

The Oldie

Finally, a book about the Tudors that has something new to say. Kaufmann brings new faces to the Tudor period, ten, to be precise. She focuses on the lives of Africans in early modern England – from Henry VII’s court to Francis Drake’s buccaneering. 

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‘Entitled: a Critical History of the British Aristocracy’ by Chris Bryant

The Oldie

Chris Bryant’s book has been criticised for not being as critical as the subtitle would have you believe. Nevertheless, his study, which covers nearly a thousand years of history – from the Saxons to the present-day – goes into immense detail.

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‘Antiquity Matters’ by Frederic Raphael

The Oldie

Frederic Raphael’s book is a study of ancient ideas and how their contradictions shaped modern Western civilisations. Considered an ‘accidental classicist’, Raphael has an unorthodox approach which is thought-provoking, while his style is unacademic and immensely readable.

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FILM: Brief Encounter

The Oldie

Based on Noël Coward's 1936 one-act play 'Still Life', this is a classic worth revisiting. Starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard, the film follows the chance meeting of two strangers and the unexpected consequences as they fall in love. 

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Norfolk: Hickling Broad Nature Reserve, near village of Hickling

The Oldie

Open all year round from dawn until dusk. Enjoy walks around this National Park or hop on one of the boat trails to explore the Broad's hidden corners. There is a wonderful selection of wildlife to see and lucky visitors may spot Kingfishers or otters. 

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'Fact and Fiction: A Book of Storytelling' by Michael Holroyd

The Oldie

'Fact and Fiction' is a fascinating collection of pieces about the art of narration. Holroyd reflects upon the skill of writing about the lives of others and considers what we know about ourselves and each other, and how we can know it.

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'Molesworth' by Geoffrey Willans, illustrated by Ronald Searle

The Oldie

Nigel Molesworth is not a fan of ‘skool’ to say the least, the ‘curse of St Custard’s’ does not waste time with classes but instead focuses on charming his masters and bashing his brother; his only weakness seems to be spelling. Willans and Searle entertain with this view of 1950s school life.

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FILM: The Happy Prince

The Oldie

Rupert Everett writes, directs and stars in this production about the life and death of Oscar Wilde. Interspersed with flashbacks to Wilde’s earlier days it focuses on his later life as he is released from jail and exiled overseas.

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'Lynn from all Angles- Walter Dexter and Jon Harris': King's Lynn Festival, Norfolk

The Oldie

The paintings and drawings of two artists, many on loan from private collections and rarely seen, cover the last 100 years at Lynn and on the waterfront. 

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'Rembrandt-Britain's Discovery of the Master' at the National Galleries of Scotland

The Oldie

This show includes fifteen Rembrandt's with two more from his workshop. All have been in British collections at some time and they are displayed next to the work of contemporary artists who have borrowed or paid homage to him, demonstrating his long-lasting influence. 

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'How to be an Urban Birder' by David Lindo

The Oldie

In this guide to urban ornithology, the newest form of birding. Lindo explains the best places to look in UK towns and cities and everything else you need to get started, including how to attract birds to your garden. As well as tips and tricks, it features many great images.

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'James Cook: The Voyages' at the British Library

The Oldie

Two-hundred-and-fifty years after the 'Endeavour' set sail from Plymouth, this exhibition of maps, artworks and journals documents Captain Cook’s voyages farther south than anyone before him. Explore the experiences of those making the remarkable trips that spanned more than a decade.

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'A History of England in 100 Places' by John Julius Norwich

The Oldie

Historian John Julius Norwich tells the story of England through 100 places and landmarks that you can still visit today, ranging from majestic castles and churches to humble cottages. Norwich excites and informs us with a blend of narrative history and the historical facts of our national heritage.

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London: Margaret Thatcher’s Grave, Royal Hospital Chelsea

The Oldie

Margaret Thatcher is one of the most revered and loathed politicians of the 20th century, but her tombstone at the Royal Hospital Chelsea is food for thought. Rather than there being any pomp and circumstance, it is impressive in its modesty.

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London: Ye Olde Mitre, off Hatton Garden

Jonathan Finchley

Until as recently as the 20th century the pub and surrounding area belonged to the Bishop of Ely, making it technically part of Cambridgeshire. Queen Elizabeth I is said to have once danced around a cherry tree in its back garden with Sir Christopher Hatton.

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‘Caesar’s Footprints’ by Bijan Omrani

The Oldie

Bijan Omrani’s brilliant book sees him follow in the footsteps of Caesar, and his legions, through Gaul. Exploring Caesar’s destruction of Gallic culture and the cultural revolution that followed, Omrani studies the breadth and depth of the Roman cultural impact on the Gallic tribes.

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‘Take It From Here’

The Oldie

This classic comedy show, featuring greats such as June Whitefield and Jimmy Edwards, brought its fair share of laughs to the golden age of British comedy. The dysfunctional Glums were an amusing contrast to the happy families that characterised radio at the time.

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FILM: To Each His Own

The Oldie

‘To Each His Own’ is a story of two loves: one a passionate but tragically brief romance; the other a lifelong love of a child – who is so close and yet out of reach. Olivia de Havilland does a brilliant turn as the tragic lead, Josephine ‘Jody’ Norris.

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London: The Prospect of Whitby, Wapping

Arthur Nottle

A historic public house on the banks of the Thames in Wapping. It claims to be the oldest riverside tavern, dating from around 1520. Marvel at the 19th-century façade and the many nautical objects. It was supposedly a meeting spot for sailors, smugglers, cut-throats and footpads. 

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Listen to ‘Abba Gold’

Lysander Tyler-Green

The best album to cheer you up. Just about everyone loves Abba. Fingers crossed, there’ll be singalong screenings for the new film ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’, just as there were with the first.

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London: The Grenadier, Belgravia

Alfred Watchley

Built in 1720, this pub with its distinctive blue doors framing a red one, was originally used as an officers’ mess for the Foot Guards regiment. It is rumoured that the Duke of Wellington would pop in for refreshments, and it was also Madonna’s choice for a post-gig celebration and pint.

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London: The Harp, Covent Garden

Trevor Littleboy

This pub frequents shortlists and top tens of ‘greatest pubs’ in London. It’s central and totally charming.  It’s described as a ‘real ale treasure’ with no fewer than ten hand-pumps at the bar, serving up classic cask ales. It also has tasty pork pies and stained-glass windows – low-key glamour.

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London: The Spaniards Inn, Hampstead

Jonathan Finchley

This alehouse gets a mention in Dickens’s ‘The Pickwick Papers’. It looks charmingly countryish, despite being located a hop and a skip from central London. Apparently, there’s ‘no better way to finish off a walk on Hampstead Heath than with a drink at the Spaniards Inn’.

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