This week… tea, tunnels and Turner

The first thing I check out, when I check-in to a hotel room, is the bathroom. Not the view, the hairdryer or even the mini-bar. Whether I will be enjoying my stay begins not only by checking out the shower, the fluffy towels and guest robes, but also the layout and design, the lighting and the flooring. I imagine it’s very shallow of me but I simply can’t help myself. This week, I confess, I’m obssessed with the beautiful bathrooms at Nobu! There’s no hope for me, I have bathrom viewing compulsive disorder. Is that even a thing?

Bathrooms aside for now (more later) here’s a round-up of the things that have caught my attention this week.

Sustainable fashion

Next to leather, denim is the worst fashion offender in terms of unnecessary water consumption and chemical use. It takes approximately 2,900 gallons of water (equivalent to 10,977 1 litre water bottles!) to make one pair of traditional cotton jeans. Adam Taubenfligel, founder of sustainable denim brand, Triarchy, together with his brother and sister, decided to take their brand offline to learn about sustainability and responsible manufacturing. Over a year later, in 2018, they relaunched.

I am so in love with this fringed denim jacket by Triarchy.

Changes included using a combination of machinery called ozone, e-flow and lasers to produce jeans with less the unnecessary water waste and chemical use, and the use of organic cotton. Farmers are sold genetically modified seeds that in time deplete the soil of the resources needed to grow the crop, due to the pesticides needed to maintain production. The land is not given the chance to regenerate and fill the crop with vitality. Similarly soil erosion due to food production and the chemical fertilisers used extensively, is reaching crisis level. If you’re interested in finding out more family physician, author and Board President for Clinical Affairs for The Institute for Functional Medicine, Dr Mark Hyman, has some convincing arguments on the subject.

“Take a deep breath, sustainability is a mindset.” Adam Taubenfligel, Founder Triarchy Denim.

Triarchy also stopped producing stretch jeans to eliminate the use of plastic in manufacture. They have since developed a biodegradable stretch denim working with a denim mill called Candiani that eliminates micro plastic beads which is good news for wildlife and the oceans, not to mention human beings.

I’m now looking at the three pairs of jeans in my wardrobe with fresh eyes. By the by, I have fallen in love with the Triarchy fringed denim jacket but there’s #noaffiliation, I simply covet this beauty.

Read the full original interview feature How Denim Brand Triarchy Is Blazing A Path For Sustainable Luxury for Forbes by Afdhel Aziz.

Uppark House

Uppark House overlooking The South Downs National Park.

Walks this week included a first visit to Uppark House in the South Downs National Park. The deer park at Uppark was created in the 14th century and in 1595 a house was recorded. The existing Uppark House was built in 1690 by Ford Grey, Earl of Tankerville, who enjoyed a colourful life, including involvement in anti-Catholic plotting culminating in the invasion of William of Orange in 1688.

Steps made for making a grand entrance, Uppark House.

The Georgian house is set within rambling gardens and woodlands, and its location affords stunning view of the South Downs. On a bright sunny day with an autumnal crispness in the air, I spent a couple of hours meandering in the grounds, taking photos and admiring the elegant buildings. As well as the 17th century house there’s a Georgian Dairy, a Gothic Seat pavilion, impressive stables and, interestingly, underground tunnels built to allow servants to move ‘unseen’. I don’t believe the tunnels are accessible but you can get a glimpse through grills set at ground level.

A view of the underground tunnels linking stables and house.

A fire at Uppark in 1989 caused extensive damage. Human chains of staff, volunteers and even visitors helped to rescue priceless works of art and objects. Fragments of charred rubble were catalogued and stored in 3,860 labelled dustbins! While some lobbied for demolition happily the decision was finally taken to reinstate the magnificent house. The painstaking project lasting six years involved piecing together the countless pieces of carved woodwork, ceiling plaster, glass and metalwork.

The South Downs on a cloudy day.

The house is not currently open so I missed seeing the 18th century doll’s house and collections of French furniture, paintings and ceramics. Something to look forward to on a return visit. The café is also closed at present but there’s plenty of outdoor space to enjoy your own picnic. Tickets booked in advance online are required to access the gardens as numbers are limited under current government guidelines.

Not just a load of old Barolo

Scagliola family of wine makers, Piedmont.

Last autumn I spent a week in Piedmont in northern Italy. There’s a unique culture in the region that sits at the foot of the Alps, bordered by France and Switzerland, and this influence is evident in the food. This is also Barolo wine country and they produce excellent red wines. However, they also produce some surprising white and rose wines. At a time when travel is so restricted, this week I reveal How To Source And Enjoy UK-exclusive Piedmont Wines you won’t find on the supermarket shelves.

Piedmont wine growing region.

Turner’s turbulent times: new exhibition

JMW Turner – Venice, the Bridge of Sighs exhibited 1840, photo courtesy of Tate.

The great British painter JMW Turner (1775-1851) captured the turbulent times of his day in his iconic works. From technology’s impact on the natural world to the dizzying effects of modernisation on society. Uncannily, it all sounds very familiar. A new exhibition Turner’s Modern World opens this autumn at Tate Britain. Featuring 160 key works by Britain’s greatest landscape painter it will include major loans as well as paintings and rarely seen drawings from the treasure trove holdings of Tate’s Turner Bequest.

High Green, Queen Square, Wolverhampton, 1795 (w/c) by Turner, Joseph Mallord William (1775-1851); Wolverhampton Art Gallery, West Midlands; out of copyright.

Britain was at war for much of the artist’s life. The French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars introduced another dynamic to Turner’s work, producing the famous The Battle of Trafalgar 1806-8 and Field of Waterloo 1818. Revolutions and struggles for independence took place around the world and there was an explosion of finance capitalism. The world transitioned from sail to steam and from manpower to mechanisation. Add in political reform, and the scientific and cultural advances that transformed society at the peak of the industrial revolution, and shaped the modern world. However, it’s his work depicting people and everyday life that I find absorbing, the light and the detail.

Turner’s Modern World, Tate Britain (28 October to 7 March).

In my inbox

Nobu suite bathroom, Warsaw.

News from Nobu Hotels who have begun the phased reopening of properties worldwide. New properties opened in Warsaw and Chicago last month. The luxury hotel group is on track to reach 20 hotels in 2020 and recently announced expansion into Africa with Nobu Hotel Marrakech opening late 2021. The strategy displays encouraging optimism in the current climate.

Elegant bathroom, Nobu Hotels.

By the way, apart from the reassurance bathroom-wise, it’s good to know that adjusted measures in the hotels include temperature monitoring, UV Light Germicidal Room Sanitisers, personalised stocking of the mini-bar, voice-controlled smart devices and in-room Nobu dining menu.

Nobu Hotels, a brand founded by Nobu Matsuhisa, Robert De Niro and Meir Teper.

In a week when I struggled to find a luxury hotel in my location offering afternoon tea (served outdoors preferably) for a birthday treat next weekend, it’s good to hear that some hotels are proactively rebooting. I didn’t manage to book anywhere for tea so if you have a recommendation please get in touch.

Join the club

Yallah Coffee independent roasters, Cornwall.

It seems we’re becoming a nation of subscribers. Subscription services really picked up during Lockdown. Joining a coffee club, for instance, offers advantages that will take your taste buds beyond the limited offering in the supermarket. In addition, there’s the reassurance on traceability and sustainability. Taste, aromas and memory are closely connected and the unique, often single-estate coffees on offer through small, independent UK coffee roasters, means that you can recreate that intense espresso or creamy café au lait experience from your holiday. If you’re wondering where to start in finding your coffee tribe I make some suggestions in Coffee Clubs: Experience a World of Aromas published this week.

That’s my round-up for the week. If you’d like to share some of your discoveries please leave recommendations in the comments. 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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