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South Africa: the Cape Town to Johannesburg train

The Oldie

Given the option, always take the train between Cape Town and Johannesburg. Vineyards on the Cape give way to stunning mountain ranges and plains teeming with springbok. Though train journeys are often fraught with complications and delays, the scenery is exceptional and certainly worth the risk.

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The Vagabond Lover: A Father-Son Memoir by Garry O’Connor

The Oldie

O’Connor explores the life of his father, Cavan O’Connor, which started so brightly. As Cavan’s star waned, he became rancorous and bitterly upset with the changing world around him. While Garry also puts his own life under the microscope, this book is principally about the father he loved so much.

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Jane Austen: The Banker’s Sister by E J Clery

The Oldie

Clery’s book examines Austen’s often remarked upon focus on money and the close relationship that she had with her banker brother – Henry – and how he supported her from her first stories to the famous works we know her for. Clery’s detailed biography is an excellent insight into Austen’s life.

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Fasting and Feasting: The Life of Visionary Food Writer Patience Gray by Adam Federman

The Oldie

Federman’s brilliant new biography examines the extraordinary life of Patience Gray – from her loving mother and loved but distant father to the thirty years she spent living off the land in Carrara, Catalonia, Naxos and Puglia, with the love of her life – the Belgian sculptor Norman Mommens.

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The Last Leg

The Oldie

Channel 4’s The Last Leg is an excellent late-night comedy show – the great gag being that there are three presenters with four legs between them. It began as a round-up of the Paralympics in 2012 but morphed into an alternative to the news, to which politicians flock to rebrand their images.

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Mexico – Las Pozas surrealist garden

The Oldie

Deep in the Mexican jungle Edward James created a spectacular surrealist garden. There are eighty hectares of gardens, concrete follies and clouds of blue butterflies. Funding from the well-meaning trust that owns it has been a little lacklustre, so it is better to go now rather than later.

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Broken

The Oldie

Broken’s focus is Father Michael Kerrigan, played by Sean Bean, while he struggles with his difficult past and tries to guide six of his flock through difficult chapters of their lives. Bean, as the sympathetic and introspective priest, puts in a characteristically strong and heartfelt performance. 

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Churchill

The Oldie

The film is set in the week leading up to Normandy landings, when Churchill has a crisis of confidence and tries to stop the assault. Gary Oldman may have won the Oscar for his performance in The Darkest Hour but Brian Cox’s performance as Churchill was magnificent.

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France: Hotel de Crillon, Paris

The Oldie

Hotel de Crillon is a magnificent luxury hotel, situated in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. Combining a mixture of modern and 18th-century, it is quite beautiful. But though it has a history, Mary Kenny remembers it as a good place for a glass of something or other... 

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Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane

The Oldie

A sad tale, this novel examines the life of Effi, a woman whose intelligence, passion and wit are never allowed to emerge. As heroines of the novels of adultery go, Effi Briest doesn’t share in the renown of Emma Bovary or Anna Karenina, but she should.

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A Heavy Reckoning: War, Medicine and Survival in A

Ferdie Rous

Not for the faint-hearted, this book looks at the treatment of military casualties in the war in Afghanistan. While not cheerful, it outlines the incredible advances of modern medicine and how it has enabled us to save the previously unsaveable. 

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London: BBC Proms, every year July to September, Royal Albert Hall

Alfred Watchley

Debussy and Bernstein get star billing this year, with concert performances of the French composer’s opera Pelléas et Mélisande. All performances are broadcast live on Radio 3. Royal Albert Hall, London SW7, and other venues, 13th July-8th September.

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Edinburgh: Jupiter Artland, Wilkieston

Trevor Littleboy

The Scottish sculpture park this year offers Joana Vasconcelos’s giant sparkly stiletto & wrought-iron teapot, along with permanent works by Andy Goldsworthy, Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley, Marc Quinn & Cornelia Parker. During the Edinburgh fest, a free bus will leave town at 10am, returning at 3pm.

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Luna Cinema

Thea Dale

The leader in outdoor HD screenings in interesting places is everywhere this summer. Catch its line-up of feature films at stately homes and castles, parks and beaches from Ascot to Bolton Abbey in Yorkshire. This year, you can watch Victoria & Abdul at Kensington Palace amongst many others.

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Blog: From My Dining Table by Skye McAlpine

Harold Llwelyn

La dolce vita! Italian ideas for alfresco dinners for two and family banquets brimming with guests. Rustle up dishes such as an asparagus, hazelnut and pecorino salad, or a honey and salted almond no-churn ice cream. Delicious and original ideas, coupled with atmospheric photography.

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Derbyshire: Haddon Hall, Bakewell

Arthur Nottle

A medieval manor house which has been described as ‘one of the most romantic houses in Britain’. It has been the setting for no fewer than three adaptations of Jane Eyre plus many more televised period dramas.

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Castle Kennedy, Dumfries and Galloway

Jonathan Finchley

A classic mixture of serious geometry and natural views which typifies a big Scottish garden. It combines a craggy ruin and surrounding loch, a walled garden and a fantastically round pool with lilies.

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M&S: Gastropub Runny Scotch Eggs

Thea Dale

A lovely burnished gold exterior. The meaty casing could use a bit more seasoning, but the impossibly runny boiled egg is the hero here. A delicious brainteaser of a Scotch egg.

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Waitrose: World Deli Sweet Potato Falafels

Evans

These brown lumps aren’t the prettiest, but the sweet potato and raisin give these healthy nibbles a soft,moist texture. There’s also a tasty hint of cumin. A welcomed addition to any picnic hamper, and arguably the best falafels on the market.

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Dyffryn, Vale of Galmorgan

Ruby Scott

What an enormous garden – 55 acres of Edwardian lawns and characterful garden ‘rooms’ such as the Pompeian Garden, Theatre Garden and Lavender Court. All linked by flowery borders. Bring a hamper and picnic on the Great Lawn with a view of the Grade II*-listed house. 

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London: Lambeth Palace Garden Open Days

Hamish Charlton

Founded in 1197, Lambeth Palace Garden covers just over ten acres of central London and is one of the oldest gardens in England. It is open to the public on the first Friday of the month from April to September for a series of different charities. 

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Peonies: surprisingly easy to grow

Genevieve Delacroix

About as blousy and voluptuous as a flower can be, often with a heavenly scent. They have been and always will be a stalwart of a classic cottage garden. My favourites are the distinctive classics, the Germaine Bigot and Duchesse de Nemours.

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London: Sabor, Mayfair

Evans

A groaning fish counter has the day’s catch reclining on ice. There are also porcelain beer taps and a bustling, ceramic-tiled open kitchen. Marina O’Loughlin, food critic from the Sunday Times, claims to be ‘obsessed’ with the arroz con salmonete (red mullet).

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Pleasure Garden magazine

Hamish Charlton

Taking inspiration from the pleasure gardens of 18th-century London,this relatively new magazine engages its readers with an array of attractions, past to present, the sedate to the salacious. It’s a step away from the practicalities of the garden, instead placing it within a wider cultural context.

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Idler magazine

Ruby Scott

A bimonthly British magazine devoted to its ethos of 'idling'. Founded in 1993 by Tom Hodgkinson and Gavin Preton-Pinney, the magazine aims to return dignity to the art of loafing, to make idling into something to aspire towards rather than reject. Subscribe through its website.

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