This week… escape to the forest, architectural details and space travel

I’m invited to experience forest bathing, explore some atmospheric castle ruins and tuck into a delicious lunch at a luxury country hotel. Things are looking up!

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. Helen Keller.

While life is certainly not back to normal and the debate about the ‘right’ way to reopen the world for travel continues, there’s no doubt in my mind that starting to get out and about again is having a positive impact. After the past 18 months it’s a gift and I aim to make the most of every single opportunity.

Here’s five things I liked this week.

Ladies who lunch

I’ve heard good things about forest bathing and this week I had the opportunity to join an all-female guided group as part of the events programme at the Spread Eagle Hotel. A relaxing Monday morning spent appreciating nature – think lying about on the forest floor and talking to the trees – was followed by a delicious two-course lunch. The full review will be published later this month but, in the meantime, I recommend a visit to the pretty historic market town of Midhurst. The architecture alone is worth a relaxed stroll around the town located in the South Downs National Park. While the shopping opportunites are limited, although happily most shops are independent, Cowdray, Goodwood and the Roman city of Chichester are close by if you feel the need for further distraction.

New. The Relais Henley-on-Thames

Henley-on-Thames at sunset.

This summer the former 16th-century coaching inn, the Red Lion, at Henley opens as a new waterside retreat. Known in particular for its annual regatta, the elegant town is an old stomping ground that I haven’t visited in a while, and it’s good to hear about the investment in its future. The Relais Henley will also feature The Clipper Restaurant by Mosimann’s London, an elegant outdoor courtyard and The Quarterdeck Bar. Courtyard Rooms start from £300 per room per night, including breakfast – available from mid-July.

Catch up

Continuing the London Voices series, I talked to ethical jewellery designer and maker Jianhui Yan about his favourite places to visit in London and what he would change if he were Mayor. Read more…

Light Lines: The Architectural Photographs of Hélène Binet 

© Hélène Binet  architectural photography at the Royal Academy.

A new exhibition has been announced for autumn showcasing architecture through the lens of the renowned Swiss-French photographer, Hélène Binet, and incorporating more than 90 images of over 20 projects by 12 architects. Binet has travelled widely to photograph works by architects including Le Corbusier, Zaha Hadid RA, Nicholas Hawksmoor, Daniel Libeskind, Jørn Utzon and Peter Zumthor Hon RA. I am fascinated by architectural detail and Binet’s photographs often focus on a fragment of a building. There’s a simplicity extracted from the complexity of a building, something I like to photograph, in a very amateur way I might add, in historic architecture. Working only on film, Binet’s images are primarily monochrome resulting in light, space and form. Restricting the scale of the work gives her photographs an intense intimacy. The exhibition will feature iconic images including; Zaha Hadid’s Vitra Fire Station; Le Corbusier’s La Tourette monastery in France and the Jantar Mantar Observatory in Jaipur, India; Thermal Baths at Vals by the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor; and landscaping and pathways at the Acropolis designed by Dimitris Pikionis in the 1950s. Light Lines: The Architectural Photographs of Hélène Binet at The Royal Academy (23 October 2021 – 23 January 2022). Admission from £15 adult, concessions available.

Wolvesey Castle

Despite the rain, this is England after all, I spent a morning exploring Wolvesey Castle in the historic city of Winchester with @the_ancestral_nomad. Also known as the Bishop’s Palace it was largely built in 1110 by Henry of Blois, brother to King Stephen. Winchester was not only a significant Roman city but was also once the capital of England and its architecture reflects its past status. Though the castle is in ruins you still get a sense of its previous grandeur. The last great occasion here was in 1554 when the East Hall hosted the wedding banquet of Queen Mary and Philip of Spain. Probably because of the rain, we had the castle to ourselves which was a bonus not only for absorbing the atmosphere but for photographs too. Maintained by English Heritage entry is free. If you’re interested in seeing more there’s a filmed tour in the reels on Instagram @hashtagtravelin.

A reminder that Buckingham Palace Gardens opened this week for the first time to the public. You are invivited to take a picic and enjoy Her Majesty’s beautiful garden in the heart of London. Read more about the gardens in a new book out this year.

Space Travel Is Here

Finally, I close this week by watching Sir Richard Branson and his team LIVE ‘endeavouring to open space travel to all’, Michael Colglazer, CEO Virgin Galactic. This has been a lifelong ambition for the entrepreneur, so congratulations are in order. Watching this LIVE today what I find so incredible is the normality of it. I watched the 1966 Moon Landing at school and it was literally beyond belief. Branson and his team today made it all feel totally achieveable, practical, safe and completely realistic for the first time. The engineering and technology is incredible in the way that the Spaceship Unity 22 and aircraft, named Eve after Branson’s beloved mum, effortlessly adjusted to leave the Earth’s atmosphere and re-enter safely in ‘feather’ mode. Space travel, it’s here and in my lifetime. Will you be booking your ticket to fly into space and experience zero gravity, to see Mother Earth in all her glory from space? Mindblowing.

That’s all for this week. I hope you’re getting out and about wherever you are in the world. Stay safe and well.

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