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April 1, 2010

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Alexander McQueen has been described as a designer capable of bringing;

‘ the raw and symbolic beauty of the natural

world sharply into play with

a regal, noble, architectural force’

With this in mind I couldn’t believe my luck at finding this stunning piece during a visit to a Designer sale in London, just days before his tragic death.

 

For me, a fashion item that generates such a strong emotional reaction will be deserving of the timeless tag and is already on the road to becoming labeled as ‘Vintage’.

The benefits of clothes that ‘speak to you’ will become self evident, when in years to come they still hold their appeal, to you or their new owner.

Wearing Vintage doesn’t just express who you are now, but echoes what has shaped and inspired you from your past.  The wearing of a vintage item evokes a whole range of thoughts regarding its history, previous owners and experiences.

It’s a great feeling to know that you are giving an item of clothing a new lease of life and for the individualists amongst you it is a great way of expressing your personality.

The message is therefore to ‘dust off’ that timeless piece from your wardrobe and even if your classic item fails to ‘speak to you’ in quite the same way as it used to, odds are it will have plenty to say to the next person on its journey!

If you want to find out more about swapping Vintage log on to Swop2Shop.co.uk

I blame Diane and her mid-life crisis.  Clinging to the vestiges of a past life, attempting to reincarnate youth.  Oh, if it were as simple as taking an elixir to recreate that past era.

camping

Camping is in the blood.  As a child, I went camping to Scotland.  Dad dug trenches around the ridge tent, adjusted guy ropes day and night to avoid flooding, tricks learned as a boy scout in the 1930’s.  DDT was used to kill the bugs.  Cooking was on a one- ring burner.  Milk came in cartons from a machine on the main street of Fort William.  The equipment we needed fitted neatly into a Ford Prefect.  Every year the same ritual: set off at 5 a.m. to avoid the non-existent traffic, breakfast at Lauder consisting of traditional Scottish mutton pies and onwards to Pitlochery, singing, ‘Over the Sea to Skye’.  This was in the days before the Forth Road Bridge, reliant on the ferry from Queensferry.

When my children were young we decided to take them camping – experience the good life.  We paid a mere £100 for a second-hand frame tent and all of the equipment.  Yes, a frame tent!  We could only dream of one of these luxury items when I was a child.  Yet again, setting off at 5 in the morning, breakfast at Lauder  (although husband refused the mutton pies), disappointment at having to buy milk in a shop, equipment fitting neatly into a Renault 11.  But this time, as a parent, immense satisfaction at introducing the offspring to the wonders of nature, instilling in them a passion for the outdoors.

Oh Diane!  What have you started.  One simple statement,

“Guess what, we’ve bought –  a tent and we’re going to start camping.”

          “Aaarh!”

A few months earlier it was a Harley Davison.  This is Diane who only ever travels 5 star.  This is the Diane who has weekly facials and manicures.  How could Diane possibly be going camping?  Diane does not camp!  We camp… well, used to camp.  Let’s face it.  Lots of people used to camp.  Say what you like about the outdoors and getting back to nature, when you can afford to give up camping, you give up camping.  I like my 5 star luxury hotels, with waiter service, en-suite complete with toiletries, maid service, mints on the pillow and complimentary champagne and fruit.

Imagine then the panic!  Camping!  Diane had invited us to a camping exhibition.  There should have been a warning sign – no males over 50!!  I saw the gleam in his eye, the excitement as he prowled from tent to tent.  And there it was… it lured us in – ‘The Bear Lake 4’.  The Rolls Royce of tents.  No simple, lightweight, cheap, ‘don’t mind if you’re never used ‘ tent.  This tent begins at £500.  It has breathable fabric with holes that close when it rains!  It has windows with curtains and tie backs and mosquito nets, its own doormat and matching windbreak.  Irresistable to any man over 50. I could sense his return to youth, the excitement, the outdoors, back to nature, shed the trappings of modern day life.  The money was handed over so quickly.  The return to camping had begun.  But, we have no equipment!

Oh, how times have moved on.  We are now the proud owners of an electric hook-up, an electrically inflated air-bed (double height), high tech cooking facilities, a camp kitchen, matching crockery complete with tray stored on shelving unit, an electric cool-box, electric kettle – no more whistle – I miss the whistling kettle.  All of this for a mere £500.

And now, the latest addition – a new car to put it in!  Not any car but a carefully structured piece of engineering that was longing for owners to take it camping.  This is the Rav4.  The cheap holidays that we can have as we move into retirement….has now cost us a further £24,000!  Not quite the £100 of days gone by.  At these costs we will have to use it!

Scotland, mutton pies at Lauder are beckoning… can’t wait.

Hope there’s a hotel nearby in case it rains.  I’m sure I can fit the hair straighteners in….television……en suite bathroom……..

Just when we thought we were over the coldest winter yet, snow storms have once again hit the UK. Nevertheless, this weekend is Easter and whether you’re 9 or 99 there’s something for all of the family at National Trust properties across the country.

easter

Check out this selection of Easter egg decorating, rolling, hunting and bird box making….

High Peak Estate, Derbyshire

Make your own Easter egg! 2 April 2pm – 4pm

Why not make your own chocolate Easter egg at the Cocoadance workshop, Mam Farm in Castleton, home to makers of delicious handmade Peak District chocolate?

All tickets £10. Booking is essential please call 01433 670368.

Rufford Old Hall, Lancashire

Children’s Easter activities 2-3 April 11am – 4pm

Get creative and join a craft session or be a detective and hunt for gnomes around the gardens.

Normal admission charges apply plus child £2.50 for craft session, £1 for gnome Hunt or £3 combined event ticket.

Booking is not required for this event. For more information please call 01704 821254.

Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

Easter trail 2-4 April 11.30am – 3.30pm

Follow the Easter egg trail that leads to your Easter prize. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Normal garden admission Charges Apply plus child £2.

Booking is not required for this event. For more information please call 01332 863822.

Mount Stewart House, Garden & Temple of the Winds, Co. Down

Golden Egg trail 2-9 April 11am -4pm

Follow the trail around magical garden to find Mount Stewart’s golden eggs. Easter prizes for everyone.

Normal admission charges apply plus egg trail £1 per child. Booking is not required for this event. For more information please call 028 4278 8387.

Quarry Bank Mill and Styal Estate, Cheshire

Easter fun around the Mill 2-5 April 12pm – 4pm

Easter-themed trail with a Cadbury Egghead prize suitable for children of all ages.

Normal admission charges apply plus £1.50 event charge for each trail.

Booking is not needed for this event. For more information please call 01625 527468.

Wallington, Northumberland

Easter Eggstravaganza 2 – 5 April 11am – 4pm. Enjoy Easter fun at Wallington with a fantastic children’s trail, craft activities, games and races. Krafty Kidz will also be here on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 April, giving you the chance to make lovely Easter items.

Normal admission charges apply £2 per trail (including chocolate prize) and small charge for items made.  For more information please call 01670 773967.

Devil’s Dyke, West Sussex

Easter egg rolling competition 5 April 10.45am – 12pm

Bring your own hand decorated hard boiled egg and try your luck at this Easter custom – the egg that gets furthest down the Dyke valley wins. We will also judge the ‘Best Decorated Egg’; there’ll be prizes for all.

All tickets £1.

Booking is not required for this event. For more information please call 01273 857712.

Erddig, Wrexham

Wear your wellies day 11 April 11am – 4pm

OK, so this one has nothing to do with Easter, but we LOVE IT!!!

Discover the joys of wellie wangling, gumboot dancing and take part in a glamorous wellie parade. There’s also a woodland trail, tree trail talks, seed planting and worm charming all to take part in too.

Normal admission charges apply but there are no additional charges.

Booking is not required for this event. For more information please call 01978 355314.

We’ve seen a successful campaign to clean up the junk served in UK school, but this hasn’t fed through to our youngest chidren. Parents are now calling for clear standards for the quality of food served in nurseries.

Happy with health
Happy with health

The Government must act now to improve nursery food and combat the rise in pre-school obesity, according to a survey of 1,000 parents.

In England and Wales, there are over 600,000 children at nursery for up to ten hours a day. In many cases, nurseries are responsible for the majority of a child’s daily food during the working week. Almost one in four children (22.8%) starts school already overweight or obese, which means they are more likely to suffer serious health problems like heart disease and cancer later in life. Despite this, there are no clear nutritional standards in place for the food served in nurseries.

According to the Better Nursery Food Now survey of parents with children at nursery, commissioned by The Soil Association and Organi in February 2010, nine out of ten (89 per cent) parents want to see legally enforceable rules for the nutritional standards of food in nurseries.

  • Eight out of ten parents (82 per cent) want foods like chips, sweets and chocolate, which are banned or restricted in primary and secondary schools, also banned in nurseries.
  • Almost all parents (95 per cent) want to ban additives that are linked to behavioural problems or other health issues in nursery food.
  • Almost all parents (94 per cent) want to see compulsory nutrition and cookery training for nursery staff preparing and serving food.
  • Nine out of ten parents (88 per cent) want government funding available to help nurseries improve food provision.
  • More than two thirds of parents (69 per cent) want to see a government department made responsible for monitoring the quality of food provided.

The survey found that only a third (34 per cent) of parents said they were happy with the food at their nursery. Around one in six (16 per cent) complained that the standard of food at their child’s nursery was poor, with children being given junk food, too many convenience foods and not enough fruit and vegetables.

Pamela Brunton, Soil Association policy manager says,

The younger the child, the more vulnerable their health is to the effects of poor quality nutrition. It is vital that the government put regulation for nursery food at the top of their agenda, to ensure that every child gets the start in life that they deserve.

Anna Rosier, Managing Director at Organix says,

It’s crucial we give pre-school children a healthy start in life, which is why it’s so shocking that there are no clear nutritional standards for nursery food, no compulsory training for staff serving food, no agency to monitor the quality of food, and no government department promoting good practice. We believe the current scenario is unacceptable and we want changes made urgently

We worked with the Soil Association to do the research on food served in schools which ultimately lead to the School Dinners Campaign, and it is not acceptable that nurseries are left behind – and that the health of our new generation is left to chance. That’s why we need better nursery food rules, now.

With MP Joan Walley, the Better Nursery Food Now campaign has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) in parliament asking for mandatory standards for the quality of food served to children in early years daycare. (An EDM is a petition that only MPs can sign to show their support for an issue and push it up the political agenda). Our youngest children are the most vulnerable to the effects of poor diet, with almost one in four starting school already overweight or obese. This means they are more likely to suffer from serious health problems, like heart disease and cancer, later in life; yet there are no clear rules for food nurseries can serve.

Parents can help by emailing your MP to ask them to sign the petition, following the quick and easy instructions on our website: www.nurseryfood.org/email-your-mp.html

The Cavendish, with its wonderfully central location near the theatre district, Bond Street and Piccadilly Circus, blends real luxury with a genuine green attitude.

Not for one minute do you feel your luxury treatment is ever compromised by any of the eco initiatives the hotel has used to win its ‘gold’ green award. Seeming to hit all areas; there are energy reduction measures such as efficient lighting and condensing boilers, fair-trade products are used throughout the hotel, and the restaurant’s menu features fish from sustainable sources and local produce where possible.

The Cavendish then goes the extra mile by encouraging delegates at business conferences and meetings to engage in green behaviour. The meeting package includes a carbon offsetting fee, environmentally friendly cars receive a 50% discount in the hotel’s underground car park, while non paper based communication is encouraged, all paper is recycled or from paper mills that support sustainable practices. There are recycling bins everywhere and people are proactively encouraged to use them, mobile phones can be charged with wind up chargers, staples that don’t use staples are on offer, non toxic marker pens made from recycled parts are used, indeed real attention to detail is a constant theme throughout.

Not content with this, the hotel has plans for an energy efficient life, has a green team that trains the back end staff, a new low water dishwasher is planned and the grand vision whereby everything used is recycled !

So you can cycle to the hotel, leave your bike in the secure lock up, know that energy efficiency is everywhere, everything is fair trade, and the food you eat is as ethically sourced as possible, while you’ll still receive top 4 star London luxury in a great location including excellent views of the city. We will definitely be looking to stay at the Cavendish again and hope you manage to give it a try.

The Cavendish Hotel, 81 Jermyn Street, St James’s, London SW1Y 6JF: Telephone: 020 7930 2111 or www.thecavendishlondon.com