I took this photograph in 1999, when we were walking along a strada bianca near Pienza: it hardly does justice to the lichen, an extraordinary colour. I remembered it this morning, as I caught up with the latest goings on in The thick of it. It really does get better and better - and in the whole hour of this bumper episode there isn't a single F word (well, in direct speech anyway). How do they keep a straight face?
I couldn't watch it on Saturday as we were at the Parabola Arts Centre, where they were showing a recording of the Royal Opera's 2011 Tosca: a great cast, and - still more important - Antonio Pappano conducting. Before we went out, there was another Royal Opera House recording on Radio 3: Otello, Pappano again conducting. And earlier in the day, I'd been catching up on the Covent Garden Ring. Conductor? Pappano again.
Caroline's week-long Wagner widowhood ended last night. The highlights of this Ring for me were Act 2 of Die Walküre, with Sarah Connolly outstanding; and Act 2 of Götterdämmerung last night - Tomlinson terrific as Hagen, notwithstanding that wobble: only to be expected in a 66-year-old. (What contemporary relevance in the Prologue too - with all the Norns' talk about ash dieback.)
Are there other operas besides Tosca and Götterdämmerung where all the principals end up dead? (Is there a post on my blog containing more hyperbole?)