This week… under lockdown (fourteen)

Travel highlights this week included taking the car to the garage for a check up after weeks of sitting idly in the car park. A second trip out was to the local Household Recycling Centre. I kept tripping over the old hoover in the hall after it blew up a few weeks ago and it had to go. I’ve also been doing my civic duty (ahem) and went shopping online with a £100 M&S voucher (courtesy of my new broadband supplier, a gift for switching, thank you!).

Small potatoes you might be thinking but actually it’s a start in my coming-out-of-lockdown process, and it felt good to be doing something normal again. Venturing out it’s clear that despite people’s attempts to appear upbeat, we’re all a little jumpy. In the UK the hospitality sector is scheduled to reopen on 4 July but the worldwide news is troubling. Fresh outbreaks of the virus in many destinations has meant reapplying the brakes. Staying at home forever isn’t an option, however, and this week I feel the need to make a bid for freedom, however tentative the initial steps.

Food, glorious food

The flavour for this week (pun intended) is food. Maybe it’s because restaurants and hotels are about to reopen that the focus for incoming news is on various food activities.

If you’re considering a career switch and wondering what it’s like to go into the industry Leiths Virtual Open Day 2020 has now gone live. The prospectus at Leiths School of Food and Wine features professional chef diplomas, enthusiast courses and online cooking courses. Founded by Caroline Waldegrave OBE and Prue Leith CBE (1975), Leith’s is famed for training some of the movers and shakers of the food industry.

I joined wine expert and TV presenter, Amelia Singer, a Leith’s last summer for a Wine and Food Pairing afternoon for a feature on Getting To Know Wine: How To Buy, Taste and Appreciate Wine.

“Most of us will choose a bottle based on the label, including the design, and the price. Knowing your labels is helpful but is it the only way to ensure a successful purchase?”

The Open Day Itinerary offers the opportunity to explore behind the scenes with a virtual tour of the school, guided by Managing Director, Camilla Schneideman; meet one of the head teachers, and experience a true to life diploma cooking demonstration; learn about the culture at Leiths; and listen to the inspirational line-up of industry-leading alumnus reminisce on their time at Leiths, and hear what they’ve been up to since graduating.

“I joined Leiths for the diploma course straight out of journalism, not sure what to expect. It gave me not only new professional skills, but a new way of looking at life. While I might never pluck a pheasant again, now I can cook for 50 or interview a top chef live on stage without feeling fazed.” Lisa Markwell, Food editor of The Sunday Times.

What did John Lennon like to eat? and where?

Sandra’s book The Other Side of Lennon: John Lennon vs. Sandra Shevey has been reissued as an ebook.

Sandra Shevey, a film historian who has been profiling Hollywood since the late Sixties, is well-known for the legendary 12 hour interview with the ex-Beatle (can you ever really be an ex-Beatle?) in New York in 1972. In addition, her London tour `The Other Side of Lennon’ includes interview sound bites, hints of John’s foodie tastes, and visits to some of his favourite drinking holes. While Sandra doesn’t appear to have a web site you can find out more by email


Cornish fisherman, Johnny Murt.

Eating locally is something I’m passionate about. So when I heard about Trewithen Dairy Cornwall, a family farming concern at Lostwithiel, who have put together three short videos on local food champions, I had to take a look. The aim of the films is to promote a greater appreciation and understanding of where food comes from, other than the supermarket shelf that is. The TrewStories campaign is a finalist in the National Brand Film Awards which hopefully will take place in September. I hope they do well. The films are well made, light on the marketing and short enough to watch in a quick coffee break.

Meet Padstow fisherman, Johnny Murt, out on his boat. Johnny fishes sustainably and within a seven mile radius because his boat “only does seven knots, and it would take too long to go far”. Join Tresillian head gardener, John Harris, to explore the famous Cornish Heritage Apple Orchards at Tresillian House where the apple trees are planted in a diamond shape, popular in Victorian times, to maximise the light.

Rachel Lambert, Wild Food Forager and author.

If you are unsure about what you can actually eat from the countryside a foraging course is a good place to begin. I spent an enjoyable day foraging at the Sustainability Centre in East Hampshire a while ago and came back with a basket full of rosehips, berries, nuts and herbs.

The third TrewStories film features Rachel Lambert, a wild food forager. Rachel teaches people to forage in local hedgerows and on the beaches in Cornwall, between Land’s End Peninsula and Mount’s Bay.

Meet Miha, forager… Green Gastronomy in Slovenia

“Hedges are one of the places to go as a forager. They’re like a grocery store, long aisles along pathways where you’ve got so many fresh ingredients, so much variety which changes through the seasons,” says Rachel.

Each film in the series also features a cooking demo with Chef James Strawbridge, including a Cornish heritage apple pie and a chowder created on the quayside from Jonny Murt’s catch. Rachel makes a foraged Nettle Soup in her kitchen.

Events at home

Snap Dragon Parties, Social and Safe. “…awe-inspiring entertaining opportunities on a bubble-sized scale.”

Growing up, my parents were known for their parties. This was the Sixties when any excuse for a party was a good one. The catering comprised baskets piled with French bread, a very good cheeseboard and a range of drinks, dependant upon the budget, which would always run out halfway through the evening. A whip-round soon replenished supplies. They were always good-natured and fun evenings with guests of all ages, and everyone danced until the small hours. The next morning there were plenty of sore heads but everyone was up for a big hearty breakfast. I hope these spontaneous events at home become popular once again in the post-pandemic world.

It seems I’m not the only one. Snap Dragon Parties has launched Social and Safe. A cast of world class suppliers will provide a socially distanced bespoke ‘entertaining experience’ in your garden, and within government guidelines. They will organise a unique ‘happening’ event from a dinner party for family and friends to a summer garden party. They will transform your surroundings with beautiful florals, provide exquisite catering and more. It doesn’t have to be a large event, it can simply be an intimate dinner for two. Not quite on the same level as my parents’ groovy parties but the ethos is the same. Welcoming family and friends to your home and making them feel special is a gift.

It’s good to know too, that a portion of the profits will be contributed to NHS Charities Together. Insta @snapdragonLondon

Other news…

‘The largest art gallery in the world’

A new documentary BURNING MAN: ART ON FIRE will be released worldwide on 22 August on iTunes, Amazon Prime, GooglePlay and Vimeo on Demand. Directed by Gerald Fox, the feature length documentary offers insight into the spectacular art at the centre of this annual event. Following six prominent and dedicated artists the film documents how the jaw-dropping installations are created in the unforgiving Nevada desert.

The Burning Man event has been named the largest art gallery in the world. Over 75,000 ‘Burners’, young and old, hippie and techie, ascetic and luxuriant, converge on seven square miles of arid landscape to create the ‘craziest, wildest, most avant-garde celebration of radical self-expression on the planet.’ Their creativity in expressed in the form of costumes, theme camps, art cars, and the world’s largest array of large-scale participatory art. The 400 pieces of large-scale sculpture remain in place for just one week every year. Then it’s all packed up, leaving not a trace.

Reality aquarium

Kariyushi Aquarium, Japan. Image credit DMM RESORTS 

The DMM Kariyushi Aquarium combines art installations and state-of-the-art technology alongside creatures from land and sea, using the latest projection technologies. Billed as an ‘augmented reality entertainment aquarium’ it opened in May in Tomigusuku-City in the Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. You’ll remember from a past post that Okinawa is one of only five of the world’s designated Blue Zones.

In my inbox

A white beach in the Maldives.

Talking of stylish locations, I hear that the Maldives will reopen for international tourists. Resorts, liveaboard vessels and hotels located at uninhabited islands will be open from 15 July, with guest houses and hotels located at inhabited islands open from 1 August. The Maldives relies heavily on the tourism industry as it accounts for the largest foreign exchange earnings, making it the biggest economic contributor in the country. For full information see the Ministry of Tourism web site.

Essential travel item No. 1 Sunnies

Cary Grant 2 at Oliver Peoples

In my top ten films of all time is Hitchcock’s North By North West. The first class cast includes Eve Marie Saint, Leo G Carroll and, of course, the legendary Cary Grant. Grant’s laid-back elegance and style, together with his back story from Bristol to Hollywood great, tends to subsume the range of his craft. It’s one of my go to films when I need to de-stress. The Cary Grant portfolio of films are a travelogue of stylish locations. In the aforementioned North By North West it’s New York City, Chicago and finally Mount Rushmore, Rapid City, South Dakota.

“I think that many of Cary’s wonderful characteristics came through in his acting,” says his wife Barbara Grant Jaynes, “you could see the real twinkle in his eye.”

The American luxury eyewear brand, Oliver Peoples has collaborated with the Cary Grant Estate for a second time to create The Cary Grant 2 and Cary Grant 2 Sun. The stylish debut collection was the first-ever authorized collaboration between the estate and a brand. The second collection is an evolution of the initial design and continues to pay ‘homage to the timeless style of one of the most iconic Hollywood actors of all time’. No arguing with that last statement. I prefer men’s designs for specs and make a beeline for them when it’s time for a new pair.

The Wallace Collection to reopen on 15 July

The Wallace Collection, Front Hall.

It has been 120 years since the Wallace Collection first opened its doors to the public in 1900. Since then it has closed three times. Once during each of the world wars, and again on 18 March 2020 in response to Public Health England’s guidance on the COVID-19 pandemic.

I’m very happy to hear that the doors to this magnificent collection will reopen to the public on Wednesday 15 July. Opening hours will be restricted and free, timed tickets need to be booked in advance online (from tomorrow 29 June). There will be some changes including a one-way route to visit the many beautiful galleries and not all of these will be open initially to the public. The café and cloakroom will be closed but the shop will be open and has been enlarged to allow space for distancing.

I’m very aware that in many countries the pandemic is still raging and I send my best wishes to everyone around the world. Take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Please note: Unless otherwise stated I have no affiliation with brands mentioned in my Journal. They are simply news items that have caught my attention and I wanted to share with you.

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