This week… life’s a balancing act

I think it’s safe to say that by now I’m totally confused. This number has gone down, that one has gone up. Wear a mask here, but not there. Travel to this country but not that one. Quarantine, no quarantine, and, yes, hello quarantine, again. Some people are back at work, some are simply refusing to give up working from home and many are losing their jobs (including a family member this week). It’s a mad house. I watch reruns of the Bourne film series and take myself off to the beach (safely, of course).

I’ve gone back to walking early in the morning during the heatwave this week. On Friday I arrived at my local beach just after 8am and already the car park was full. I managed to find a space and walked for a while. But somehow the beach just didn’t work its usual magic, and I left early to avoid the growing crowds. It’s still possible to walk in the countryside, though, in comparative solitude. In the early morning the fields are flooded with sunlight, and a soft breeze plays through the trees and grasses. I’m fortunate to live in the South Downs National Park, surrounded by gorgeous views.

The South Downs National Park.

These recent months have been about retaining a sense of perspective. Here’s my top picks this week of things that have inspired, delighted and helped to maintain some sense of balance.

Great Barrier Reef

Museum of Underwater Art. Photo Matt Curnock.

I was bowled over by the news of an underwater museum. Stage One of the new Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) began this week with tours to the John Brewer Reef Coral Greenhouse.

The Coral Greenhouse is situated in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef and is the only one of its kind in the world. It’s taken four years of hard work to bring this to realisation. The new museum features work by Jason de Caires Taylor, a British sculptor and a leader in underwater sculptures. The project merges reef conservation, research and science with tourism, the arts and Indigenous storytelling.

It has taken four years to bring the MOUA project to Stage One.

Townsville is positioned in the central section of the Great Barrier Reef with arguably some of the best examples of coral reef. Like so many destinations tourism to the area has been hit hard by the pandemic. Palaszczuk Government has provided the majority of the $3 million funding required for the project in recognition of the value of the project for North Queensland particularly in terms of tourism and jobs.

The new museum is definitely an incentive to learn to dive.

Food by Dishpatch

I’ve been doing some food and wine tastings and the hall at home is stacked with parcels of various shapes and sizes. It’s been fun opening each one to discover wines, coffee and more. So this next one struck a chord.

There’s nothing I like more than eating out whether at a Michelin restaurant, or a shack on the beach serving fresh grilled fish. I also enjoy cooking from scratch at home, so I don’t eat takeaways. I might be tempted, however, by the menus from chefs and restaurants as part of a new home delivery service. The perfect evening would start with dressing the table with linen, candles and glass, and a cocktail or a glass of bubbles, in anticipation of the arrival of your gourmet meal.

Date Night menu by Andrew Edmunds. Dressed Crab in the shell with Fennel Salad, Organic Swaledale Braised Lamb with Pickled Red Cabbage and Light and Creamy Summer pudding with Creme Fraiche. Vegetarian option available. £55 for two people.

Dishpatch is a delivery platform that set out in March, to support restaurant suppliers affected by COVID-19 in selling their produce directly to the public. From this month they’re partnering with restaurants and chefs to do the same nationwide.

Founders, Pete Butler and James Terry, are working with restaurants as they reopen to create and deliver complete bespoke menus. Dishes are fully prepared and ready for finishing at home to ‘simple’ instructions. Every month the line up of participating chefs and restaurants will change. For instance, August’s launch line-up includes menus from: 

  • Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen, founded in 2010 by chef and food writer Zoe Adjonyoh with a mission to dispel stereotypes and limiting beliefs of what ‘African’ or ‘West African’ food was and could be.
  • Andrew Edmunds, the romantic Soho bistro established in 1985 and considered one of the last bastions of ‘old Soho’.
  • Farokh Talati, by day head chef at St John Bread & Wine. For his Dishpatch menu Farokh will be drawing on the culinary traditions of his Parsi heritage. I’ve eaten breakfast from the seasonam menu at the Spitalfields restaurat as part of a food tour of the East End and it was very good.
  • See the full ‘feast box’ options at Dishpatch.

Yoga in the alps

Socially distanced yoga platforms, with a view.

I began practising yoga and meditation over 40 years ago long before it took hold in the UK. I’d never even heard of yoga but came across a book by American guru, Richard Hittelman, in a second-hand bookshop. Many workshops and seminars later, and my practice has varied over the years but I’ve remained faithful. When I make the effort I love how good yoga makes me feel, the intense stretch for every part of my body, the long slow breathing and the meditative calm it brings. It’s hard to think about anything else when you’re trying to hold a headstand, or a downward dog. The other great thing about yoga is that you can practice the breathing techniques and the asanas, or postures, just about anywhere. The outdoors and a view, however, definitely add to the exerience.

The Grand Hotel Kronenhof has developed new socially-distanced spa platforms at one of its Yoga Summits. The first takes place this week but the second runs from 4 to 9 Setember in Pontresina, six miles from St. Moritz. The hotel opened its doors in the first half of the 19th century as a guesthouse. The main part of the current building, built in the latter part of that century in Neo-Baroque style, is a registered historical landmark.

The Grand Hotel Kronenhof interior.

The two-night, three-day summit, led by Alessandra Stecher, offers Hatha and Yin Yoga classes in nature in the Engadine landscape. The view from the spa platforms down across the valley looks so beautiful. The river Flaz below and the surrounding wild flower meadow must make for a perfectly peaceful location and an antidote to the stresses we’ve all been living under. There’s a maximum of just six participants per Summit so individual attention is guaranteed. Grand Hotel Kronenhof summer rates start from CHF455 (approx. £390) for two people sharing a double room (half-board). Participation in the Yoga Summit costs CHF160 (approx. £135).

LEICA: Like The Night

Like The Night, Leica.

‘Like the Night’ is the first cinema short launched by Leica UK. The film, directed by photographer and multi-award-winning filmmaker, Barney Cokeliss, is a nocturnal journey set to Lord Byron’s ‘She Walks in Beauty’. Shot entirely on the full-frame Leica SL, with a mixture of SL lenses and lenses from the legendary M Camera range, it is cinematically scored by Finnish composer, Anné Kulonen.

The film follows female photographers as they move through the night capturing the world that comes alive after dark. Shot in locations across the globe the images in the film range from mountain landscapes to city life, from glimpses of crime to moments of romance. It’s a haunting pastiche part gritty documentary, part film noir.

“What Barney has captured so beautifully are the emotional impacts of night-time, whether fearful, mysterious, seductive, or lonely. Colour resonates through the film as we shift from red lamps to sodium and teal and you’re taken on a journey through night with images that intrigue, haunt and thrill. The Leica SL’s retention of all that colour detail in the low light is stunning.” Simone Grattarola who colour graded Like the Night’.

Windsor Castle, East Terrace Garden opens

I spent a lot of my youth in and around Windsor and Eton and have fond memories of exploring Windsor Castle, which was more accessible then. I’ve always admired the formal garden created by George IV in the 1820s. The clipped domes of yew and geometrical beds of 3,500 rose bushes, set around a central fountain, have been maintained by generations of royals, often bestowing a personal touch, say, a new sculpture. This week the East Terrace Garden will open to visitors at weekends for the first time in decades during August and September.

The East Terrace Garden was first designed for King George by the architect Sir Jeffry Wyatville, on the site of an old bowling green made for Charles II in the 1670s. The aim was to provide a ‘pleasant view’ from the King’s new suite of royal apartments. Plants were specially imported including 34 orange trees gifted by the French King, Charles X. Statues were brought from the Privy Gardens at Hampton Court, some of which remain today.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh by Patrick Lichfield in 1997.

During the Second World War, some of the flowerbeds were repurposed as allotments to grow vegetables. Her Majesty The Queen (then Princess Elizabeth) and her sister, Princess Margaret, were each assigned a small plot on which to cultivate tomatoes, sweetcorn and dwarf beans. The East Terrace Garden has served as a backdrop for several official portraits of members of the Royal Family, including a photograph of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh by Patrick Lichfield in 1997, and a portrait of Her Majesty by Annie Leibovitz in 2016. Access to the East Terrace Garden is with a ticket to the castle which must be bought in advance online.

In my inbox

On top of the world. Ride4Rangers fundraising.

The impact of COVID-19 is being felt across the world by everyone one of us. The halting of tourism in Africa is having a devastating economic impact with knock-on implications for the future of the continent’s wildlife such as elephant, rhino and lion.

Ride4Rangers, part of a larger fundraising effort Wildlife Ranger Challenge, is embarking on a cumulative 30,000km bike ride to raise vital funds to support rangers, the first line of defence to protect endangered species, and their jobs affected by the loss of funding.

The African Travel Industry has come together to support African Rangers and wildlife by cycling together with the aim of riding the cumulative distance 30,000 km, the equivalent of cycling around Africa. All funds raised will be matched by The Scheinberg Relief Fund. So, say, for every £20 donation it will be matched, making the end donation £40.

Join African safari guests, fellow wildlife enthusiasts, conservation champions and cycling fanatics. Organise a cycle with friends or family wherever you are in the world (5km – 20km – 50km, its up to you) and help reach the 30,000km target.

If you’re based in in the UK you can join part or all of a Land’s End to John O’Groats (LEJOG) ride setting out on 15th August. You can find full details of the route here. Register at

Billboard art

From tomorrow (10 August) young artists will take over London billboards. Showcasing the UK’s emerging arts scene under Tate Collective, Tate’s membership scheme for 16 to 25 year olds, members were invited to submit work in response to seven artworks in Tate’s collection. Over 800 students submitted entries and the final choice was made by a panel of judges comprising: Ibrahim Kamara, Co-Founder and Editor GUAP mag; Tobi Kyeremateng, Independent Producer and Founder of Black Ticket Project; Soofiya, artist, educator and writer; and Tate curators Nathan Ladd, Aïcha Mechrez and Valentina Ravaglia.

Sir John Everett Millais, Ophelia 1851-2.

From tomorrow (10 August) young artists will take over London billboards. Showcasing the UK’s emerging arts scene under Tate Collective, Tate’s membership scheme for 16 to 25 year olds, members were invited to submit work in response to seven artworks in Tate’s collection. Over 800 students submitted entries and the final choice was made by a panel of judges comprising: Ibrahim Kamara, Co-Founder and Editor GUAP mag; Tobi Kyeremateng, Independent Producer and Founder of Black Ticket Project; Soofiya, artist, educator and writer; and Tate curators Nathan Ladd, Aïcha Mechrez and Valentina Ravaglia.

Urja Gauri Jain, Ophelia, in the midst of a pandemic.

Londoners will be able to view selected entries, alongside the works that inspired them, for two weeks this summer. The seven seven billboards will be in Camden, Hackney, Haringey, Islington, Lambeth, Southwark and Walthamstow.

Former Michelin chef opens Inn with Rooms

Kevin Tickle cooking on the beach.

Set to open in late Autumn, a former Cumbrian Michelin starred chef, Kevin Tickle and his wife Nicola, have taken over a former 17th century coaching inn at the foot of Cartmel Fell, in the southern Lake District village of High Newton.

Kevin studied his craft at Kendal College as part of his apprenticeship with English Lakes Hotels and began as a commis chef at the acclaimed Sharrow Bay Hotel. A period at Gilpin at Windermere was followed by eight years working for Simon Rogan at the iconic riverside L’Enclume where he also took on the role of Head Forager. Kevin was awarded a Michelin star within eight months of opening Forest Side, as well as four AA rosettes for culinary excellence and a number 27 ranking in the Waitrose Good Food Guide. 

Currently refurbishment is being carried out to modernise the kitchen and bring upgrade the bar, restaurant (a menu of modern British food made with seasonal Cumbrian provender), and six guest bedrooms.


The Great Hall at The British Museum.

I’ll finish with a note for your calendar. The British Museum reopens on 27 August. There will, of course, be safety measures in place and not all galleries will open at this time, so check the web site before you visit. Free tickets available to book from 12 August.

That’s my top picks for this week. Stay safe and well!

As always please check the Foreign travel advice web site for the latest on international travel guidelines.

Unless otherwise stated, I have no affiliation with the brands mentioned but simply aim to share places and products that have caught my eye. I will always state if a post is sponsored or gifted.

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