If you are on the international affairs circuit – and you play your cards right – you could probably spend most weekends conferring about something or other. Of course, the importance of the subject and the level of the participants are all factors when deciding whether to give up your weekend. But – as conference organisers well know – a swanky location is always a big draw. And they don’t come much grander than Ditchley Park in Oxfordshire, where I have just spent the weekend. The conference itself – on immigration to Europe – was interesting, and I’ll probably write about it soon. But Ditchley - one of the great country houses of England – is an experience in itself. It was a favourite of Churchill’s who stayed there 14 times in the war.
By tradition, English country houses should be slightly uncomfortable. I have always liked the cartoon of a hostess showing a guest to his bedroom and saying – "It’s rather cold, so I’ve put an extra dog on your bed." But, at Ditchley, they now even have mod cons like central heating.