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‘One Hot Summer: Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli and the Great Stink of 1858’ by Rosemary Ashton

The Oldie

With the Thames lined with a six-inch layer of sewage, to use the words of then Prime Minister, Disraeli, London’s smell was ‘an unbearable horror’. Ashton uses this year as a springboard for diving into the lives of the three people in the title, and the various challenges they faced at the time.

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‘Last Hope Island: Britain, occupied Europe, and the brotherhood that helped turn the tide of war’ by Lynne Olson

The Oldie

While the Nazis were storming Europe, men and women from all over the struggling Allied countries came together to help the war effort. Olson’s character-driven narrative traces the work of numerous unsung heroes from the Continent, including Czech pilots protecting London.

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London: The Beehive, Battersea

Nigel Summerley

In a sea of loud bars and just up the hill from noisy Clapham Junction, The Beehive is everything that a real local pub should be – warm, welcoming and presided over by wonderful landlady Monica.

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LONDON: Sager + Wilde, Hackney

Genevieve Delacroix

This wine bar under the railway arches serves delicious food – with a fantastic atmosphere and a multitude of wines to get you through the summer. Have wines in the café indoors or from the garden shed outside.

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LONDON: The Fitzroy Tavern, Fitzrovia

Edith Warren

Fitrovia’s historic tavern, round the corner from Rathbone Place. Reasonably priced Sam Smith Ales and intriguing golden ceilings. Feels suitably 'ye olde' and traditional.

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London: Petersham Nurseries, Richmond

Ruby Scott

Set within a glasshouse on the edge of Richmond Park. Brimming with fragrant bougainvillea and jasmine, and decorated with antique furniture. Serves up seasonal Italian inspired food, think: spider crab cooked with charcoal and chilli butter, and spring salad with peas, broad beans and pecorino. 

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London: The Greyhound pub, Kew

Ruby Scott

A rather appealing looking pub with a Tudor façade, set across from the Green as you walk away from Kew Gardens. From May onward, it is laden with greenery. A hearty Sunday lunch menu: fish and chips to roast chicken and then back round to pork escalope. 

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Derbyshire: Geoffrey Fuller: The Three Stags’ Heads Pottery, Wardlow Mires

Genevieve Delacroix

A 17th-century roadside inn that fuses pub and pottery. Full of character with old country furniture on flagstones and heating from an old cast-iron kitchen range. Run by husband and wife potters Pat and Geoff Fuller.

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Cornwall: St Kew Inn, Bodmin

Ruby Scott

The sleepy beer garden at the back of St Kew Inn is a joy, with picnic tables on a well-clipped lawn surrounded by trees and a dry-stone wall. At the front of this lovely greystone pub, dating from the 15th century, there’s a heavenly terrace with a palm tree in the corner and blooming flowers.

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John Lewis’s Roof Garden

The Oldie

It is far too hot at this time of year to be eating indoors, especially in London, so why not recline and dine at the top of John Lewis? In the middle of Oxford Street, with panoramic views of London’s skyline, you can enjoy the best of London, without the cars and crowds.

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The Cambridge Chop House

The Oldie

Serving, in its own words, a ‘traditional British’ menu, this restaurant in the centre of Cambridge has a versatile selection of real ales – both local and from farther afield – to complement the hearty range of meats on offer. Fabulous views from your table.   

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Italy: Amalfi: Ristorante di Zaccaria

The Oldie

Avoiding the horde of tourists that descends on Amalfi is something of a challenge. If you don’t mind a bit of a deviation, take the overground route to Atrani and stop at the Ristorante di Zaccaria. You will be greeted by a stunning view and some sumptuous cucina della nonna.

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The Old Customs House, Hastings

The Oldie

Along with arguably the best high street in Britain, Hastings is home to the Old Customs House. The perfect place for a summery Sunday lunch, it commands an ocean of rosé, very reasonably priced at £16 a bottle and a delicious Spanish seafood stew. 

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Kent: 81 Beach Street, Deal

The Oldie

Located on Deal’s quaint seafront, 81 Beach Street is a good spot to break up a day of sunbathing on the beach. It serves a fine piece of fish, the Dover sole being a particular highlight.

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The Game Bird, The Stafford, London

The Oldie

Its very own ‘theatre of the senses’ menu is, it says, based on ‘uncomplicated excellence’, which looks to celebrate local and seasonal dishes along with British classics. The set-up is reminiscent of a private members’ club.

‘Emigrants: Why the English Sailed to the New World’ by James Evans

The Oldie

Contrary to general opinions, the thousands who crossed the Atlantic in the 17th century were not simply seeking religious freedom. Evans explains the situation in England that drove so many to try to better themselves abroad.

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‘African Kaiser: Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck and the Great War in Africa, 1914-1918’ by Robert Gaudi

The Oldie

Writing on the first racially integrated army in modern history, Gaudi looks into von Lettow-Vorbeck, and how he led his guerrilla army for Germany’s African campaign in the First World War. Gaudi explains the human qualities of the leader – which meant his soldiers followed him to the end.

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‘The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve’ by Stephen Greenblatt

The Oldie

The Adamic myth has had profound influence on Western culture. Greenblatt studies the way the age-old story of the Fall has been interpreted over the centuries, revealing more than you may expect.

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‘A Thirst for Empire: How Tea Shaped the Modern World’ by Erika Rappaport

The Oldie

Motivated by truth-telling rather than case-making, Rappaport informs without trying to influence your opinions on colonialism. She ranges from Britain’s infatuation with India to explaining how the Second World War was won.

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‘The Templars: The Rise and Fall of God’s Holy Warriors’ by Dan Jones

The Oldie

Turning serious scholarship into accessible prose, this is a study into the most influential military order in the Middle East and Europe during medieval times. At a fast pace, Jones manages to portray the secretive, bloodthirsty and dangerously powerful group that dominated politics.

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‘Drink More Fizz! 100 of the world’s greatest champagnes and sparkling wines to drink with abandon’ by Jonathan Ray

The Oldie

Champagne does not have to be only for special celebrations. Leading wine writer Jonathan Ray takes you through fizz for all budgets, tastes, times and occasions. His delving into the weird and wonderful stories behind the vines makes this an entertaining read. 

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‘Between Two Worlds: An Architectural History of Emmanuel College, Cambridge’ by Jeremy Musson

The Oldie

Musson makes a comprehensive and thoroughly engaging guide to the architectural history of the Cambridge College approaching its 500th anniversary. Of greatest interest is the 17th-century college chapel, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and one of the iconic images of Cambridge University.

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FILM: ‘Scandal’

The Oldie

This 1989 film starring John Hurt and Joanne Whalley relives the infamous Profumo Affair and the desperate events that led up to it. The Cold War sex scandal that resulted in the toppling of the Tory government in the 1960s is passionately depicted.

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‘The Illustrated Dust Jacket: 1920-1970’ by Martin Salisbury

The Oldie

Salisbury selects more than 300 dust jackets as he traces the evolution of book covers – from the plain days of pure utility to eye-catching bursts of colour.

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‘Islander: A journey Around Our Archipelago’ by Patrick Barkham

The Oldie

This is a fascinating look into the lesser-known members of the 6,291 islands that make up the British Isles. Travelling around islands with curious and very different histories, Oldie contributor Barkham uncovers stories and views known and seen only by the few. Perfect for any islomaniac.

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