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Waiting to alight any aircraft is a boring rigmarole of the utmost process, checking and rechecking in a random way that gives little confidence - though of course, we do feel reassured momentarily: and so we obey righteously to escape embarrassment as we shuffle past the x rays and we avert the eyes from the suited officials so as to avoid any question of being pulled aside.  Most recently at Nairobi one has to virtually undress but there was no worry to have to place the unfinished toothpaste or my yellow ochre tube oozing in see-through bags and not a thought about my stout shoes. ...

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  A few days in France cannot escape the traditional lunch stop - and away from the main roads and city centres the plat du jour being second of four or even five courses with white paper tablecloths and a pichet of wine is still very common. The locations are not always salubrious or pretty and non less than coming across a high French purpose built ski resort in the rain. In October void of summer bloom and well before the snows les acrs 1600 looks more like the film set for a post nuclear sci-fi: but as we pressed down the steel ...

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Art in its many forms provides a quiet distraction from the workplace where this small exhibition is set in the heart of Exeter's business area, close to the Cathedral and the refined architecture of Southernhay. On the evening of the 6th October 2106 Philip Kerr presents some west country scenes on the walls of Senate Court as a tiny contribution within the Two Moors Festival of special music and that evening Mozart, Elgar and Gershwin will be played to an invited audience and my pictures. This event is kindly sponsored by  lawyers Foot Anstey who will host the evening with a debate ...

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William Sitwell on his family legacy If you've never been to a literary, food and music festival all wrapped into one: and you want to be charmed rather than overwrought by masses of people and ugly queues then you could little worse than Port Eliot just finished yesterday. Poignant this year as Peregrine St German, who's idea it all was, died just a few weeks ago leaving such a wonderful legacy crossing nicely from the bohemian to the erudite with lots of fun for all the family in the rambling walled gardens, the dungeons and parkland setting of this unspoilt Priory bordering ...

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 PHOTO-PEINTURE: Thalia rushing to St Catherine's Lighthouse Eleven hours in a boat race is a trial but when its on the oldest craft in the fleet with gunnels continually running the water, a pretty strong blow and a lumpy sea then its an adventure. For Thalia built as a gentleman's cruiser in 1888 will have seen such seas before as crew will have white knuckled to haul the un-winched sheets at the wetted sharp end as we did to trim the acres of cream canvass. And what fun to understand the heavy and purposeful slosh through the water as six tons of long keel kept us from ...

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Huts dotted on outcrops at Ecrehou When eighteen friends and family who have known each other for about 35 years are thrust together to celebrate a sixtieth birthday there's quite a buzz. When it takes place in referendum week on the waters of the Channel between the UK and the Continent (I think we used to call it), this physical fault-line coupled with our hosts choice of activity added to the befuddling of minds amongst us. For in 48 hours we managed to leave mainland UK through Southampton water, arrive in continental Cherbourg three hours later, to be set aboard a sailing vessel to back ...

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  Entering the restaurant Cote yesterday the name above the door conjures up perhaps the moment of French ambiance that one might absorb to enjoy a meal on a spring day in Cirencester. The very word  cote  does exhibit an agreeable cross-over of expression between french and english in a way that we can pronounce and understand - much as the word  pret  has done in other eateries. The gushing staff however were not quite on this wavelength which put my friend Nicholas and I into an amusing five minutes as we took on the atmosphere and platters of luncheon. We had on offer Badoit, ...

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Sitting and supping at the Fountain Inn in the lee of Wells Cathedral one can easily gain the impression of being in the presence of somewhere spiritual and great. The scale and majesty of the building and the approaches through arches and greens in the half light was only to be matched by what we found inside.  The acoustics of the utterly magical singing from Tenebrae who without organs or instruments filled the huge space with sounds that were so precise and pure it must have given heart to the massive fabric of this wonderful church that such music can be repeated today in a ...

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The place is simply a joy and no wonder those who visit Barcelona hardly ever complain. The active narrower streets nicely separate the main traffic from all the good parts - making such difference to getting about and allowing a host of small enterprises to spill out onto the pathways and squares all of which makes for interest and an unsophisticated order with family concerns jousting out of the shadows - yet there is little gaucheness as the natural rhythm is calm, is proportionate and is subtle. Staying close to the University at Hostal Grau describing itself as an eco-chic hotel, I could not have hit ...

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Walking, and for that matter sketching, in March in the Dolomites, that rather undiscovered part of upland northern Italy, is made somewhat more challenging by lying snow and a chill in the air that befuddles the daily preparation of the contents of ones rucksack in terms of types of clothing and supplies especially as too much weight spoils the occasion, but too few layers can mean an early exit as the evening shadows close across the rugged outcrops. But with the crystal blue sky full of sunshine bouncing off the whiteness, the snow-laden trees and pink rock faces it made for a place ...

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