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Get Set to go Wild: Why a Sustainable Safari should be your Next Holiday

Support conservation and indulge a passion for animals by planning a trip to Africa, says Sarah Marshall.

In many ways, nature has flourished during lockdown: trees in city parks have breathed the cleanest air in decades, emboldened foxes are strutting along residential streets as if they own them, and the cast of critters in Springwatch has never seemed healthier.

But that picture of an environmental Eden doesn’t ring true across the globe.

In countries heavily dependent on wildlife tourism, communities have been hit hard by the pandemic with widespread job losses, posing a threat to the animals they live alongside.

Across Africa, millions of people are employed in the safari industry and vital conservation projects benefit from donations driven by tourism. Even the sheer presence of more people is a deterrent to poachers. But closed camps and empty national parks have stymied revenue streams and stripped away layers of protection.

The Duke of Cambridge is so deeply concerned, he’s written about the issue for the latest edition of Tusk Talk magazine, distributed to supporters of the African conservation charity.

As royal patron of Tusk Trust, who celebrate their 30th anniversary this year, he writes: “Decades of conservation progress in Africa is at risk. There are real fears that the economic crisis and redundancies resulting from the pandemic will lead to a sharp rise in poaching for bush meat, with criminals seeking to exploit the illegal wildlife trade while wildlife enforcement’s resources are stretched.”

His thoughts are echoed by Tusk’s CEO Charlie Mayhew: “There’s no doubt the loss of tourism is having a hugely negative impact on communities and economies. The projects we support are being extraordinarily resilient. They have had to dramatically cut budgets in order to respond to the challenges, but they are working harder than ever to protect their wildlife.”

Like so many charities, Tusk has suffered a financial blow due to the cancellation of fundraising events. The Lewa Safari Marathon, the biggest event in their calendar, will be going virtual this year, with participants encouraged to run anything from 5-42km throughout June. Visit lewasafarimarathon.com to sign up.

Of course, when travel is back up and running, another way to support Africa’s wildlife is by visiting responsibly run camps and lodges throughout the continent.

While the last few months have been bleak, tour operators are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. Both Scott Dunn and Abercrombie & Kent report a rise in enquiries for African safaris, and peak season periods for 2021 are already selling out in some areas.

That should come as no great surprise.

Besides easing our ethical conscience, safari holidays have broader appeal in a post-Covid travel world: space and isolation naturally shape the experience in sparsely-populated destinations, and there’s a huge choice of exclusive use lodges, homes and even mobile camps on offer.

Jo Lankester, co-founder of specialist African safari operator Lankester White, stresses the importance of staying at a property committed to conservation and sustainability. She recommends outfits offering hands-on experiences that benefit charitable organisations, such as helping researchers to collar endangered wildlife, or “simple walking safari experiences with small footprints on the environment and an enhanced interaction with the wildlife”.

Overall, she is optimistic travellers will return to Africa when they can.

“Being in lockdown has given so many people a renewed perspective of time; of quiet contemplation, and appreciation of the world around them,” she points out. “That really is the essence of a safari trip – not only the tremendous excitement of watching lions or elephants.”

An expert view on safaris of the future: Beks Ndlovu

A professional guide who grew up in the bush, Zimbabwean Beks Ndlovu launched African Bush Camps with a vision for creating an authentic safari experience with the full involvement of local communities. Sustainable tourism is at the very heart of his ten camps in Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia, which have remained open during the global pandemic.

“We have 25% of staff on site,” he explains, “Because there are less eyes in the field, we do really need to have some sort of surveillance.”

Although he acknowledges there has been an unfortunate upsurge in poaching incidents, he remains hopeful for the long-term future of safaris.

“I’d like to believe that we all take heed of this time; we’ve seen clearer skies, less carbon emissions,” he reflects, suggesting a growing trend for more sustainable travel. “We have small camps, it’s not mass market, there are no large gatherings and for the most part, it’s outdoors; it’s an attractive type of travel.”

In reality, few changes are required to comply with new social distancing and hygiene guidelines. But the crisis has certainly inspired new positive ideas. “It’s validated the work and energy we put into conservation and working with communities, to the extent we are saying we need to find ways in which we can do more.”

Five of the best sustainable safaris

1. Desert Rhino Camp, Namibia

Operating in partnership with Save The Rhino Trust and the Palmwag Conservancy in remote Damaraland, this Wilderness camp financially supports communities and endangered wildlife. Tracking desert-adapted rhino on foot is an exhilarating experience. Stay in a camp of eight tents overlooking scorched, rust-red plains dotted with ancient welwitschia plants. Lankester White (lankesterwhite.com) offers a stay as part of a six-night, full-board Namibia Exploration safari also visiting the Serra Cafema camp in Kunene, from £4,655pp (two sharing), excluding international flights.

2. Nyamatusi Mahogany, Zimbabwe

An idyllic setting of winter thorn woodlands spliced by the mighty Zambezi River, Mana Pools is renowned for its walking safaris. Watch the wild dogs who found fame in Attenborough’s Dynasties series, or catch elephants balancing on hind legs to feed from trees. Operated by conservation champions African Bush Camps, this boutique camp features two tented suites and two family suites, making it ideal for small groups. A four-night, full-board stay costs from £2,670pp (two sharing), excluding international flights. Book now, pay nothing until August 2020. Visit africanbushcamps.com.

3. Borana Conservancy, Kenya

Supported by Tusk, the Borana Conservancy protects critically endangered black rhino and employs rangers from the local communities. With only one boutique lodge and four exclusive-use homes spread across the 32,000 acre area, it’s often possible to game drive without seeing another guest. Splash out on a stay at the decadent Lengishu House, sleeping 12, or choose Borana Lodge for a more affordable option. Abercrombie & Kent (abercrombiekent.co.uk; 01242 547 702) offers seven nights at Lengishu from £6,250pp (12 sharing); three nights at Borana Lodge costs from £2,325pp (two sharing). Both prices are full-board, including flights.

4. Kwihala Camp, Tanzania

Even without guests, Asilia have kept their camps open to maintain a presence, and have supported local rangers to undertake daily patrols. Last year, they raised $338,000/£265,195 for East African communities through conservation contributions and donations. They have three camps in Ruaha, the largest park in Tanzania with one of the lowest footfalls. Sleep amidst baobabs in the six-tent, expedition-style Kwihala Camp. From $472/£411 per night (two sharing), full board. Visit asiliaafrica.com.

5. Sarara Camp, Kenya

A flagship model for community conservation, this camp in northern Kenya’s Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy supports 1500 Samburu families. The only accommodation in an area of one million acres, it’s blissfully remote. Guests are encouraged to visit the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, Africa’s first community owned elephant orphanage which mostly employs women. Aardvark Safaris (aardvarksafaris.co.uk; 01980 849160) offers full-board stays from £730pp per night (two sharing).

How to Combine Veg and Flowers in Pots for an Eye-Catching Display

veg pots

Horticulturist Tom Harris explains how to combine edibles and flowers to create colour and flavour in containers.

Throughout his life, plantsman Tom Harris has planted thousands of containers to enhance gardens nationwide and beyond. He’s perked up unpromising small spaces with both flowers and edibles, and says you can have a brilliantly colourful effect by combining both, as he demonstrates in his new book, Pots For All Seasons.

“People have different criteria when growing veg. I don’t approach it on the basis of what will provide me with the most food. I just find that many veg and herbs are just as ornamental, and if I get some crops from them, that’s a bonus.”

So, how do you go about growing plants such as lettuce, beetroot and tomatoes, alongside pretty annuals?

veg pots

Go for good-looking veg

“Firstly, look for good-looking vegetables. I don’t grow anything which I don’t consider to be good looking,” he says. “Tomatoes, aubergines and peppers provide brilliant colour in pots, while leafy veg and carrot tops provide the green you also need.”

veg pots

Find out which veg grow better in pots

“Some do better in pots than they would in the ground. Chillies and aubergines, for instance, tend not to do as well in the ground, while you can keep a better eye on leafy salads in containers, where you can crop them young and keep them protected off the ground.”

veg pots

Grow them separately

Harris recommends growing veg separately from flowers in pots, moving them around to experiment with what gives the best effect. “Try to grow them in individual pots and group ornamental and foliage plants around veg, rather than putting them in the same pot,” he explains. “Having said that, I had a great success planting lobelia and lettuce in a pot together. They work really well in a wall pot or a basket. Nasturtiums also work well with lettuce.

“Certain veg don’t like too much competition. Aubergines, for instance, resent anything else competing with them and look great in pots on their own. I grow them in old olive tins which make the fruits look that much more striking.

“Courgettes should be put singly in the largest pot you can. The yellow-fruited or round-fruited ones – I grow one called Greyzini which has beautifully marbled leaves and grey-green fruits – look great.

“The ‘Baby Rosanna’ small-fruited aubergines are very productive but manageable in a container, and with tomatoes in pots, I’d go for the bush or trailing cherry tomatoes such as ‘Sweet and Neat’, a compact variety which comes in yellow or red and ‘Tumbling Toms’ are the most productive.”

veg pots

Combine herbs

If you want your herb garden to be changeable, plant pots of basil, chives, thyme and parsley separately, then group all the small pots into a much bigger container, he suggests.

“Lots of herbs get too big, too quickly. Keeping them in their smaller individual pots allows you to pull them out and put something else back in and repot them, and helps keep rampant herbs like mint in check. Again, it’s about creating a picture; keeping herbs in a display, but neatly separated.”

Make the most of ornamental leaves

Colourful leaves also add interest to your combined pots, says Harris. “Some of the coloured mustard mixes look great, and my favourite chilli is ‘Prairie Fire’ which is very compact and I grow it in a long trough. You might want to grow a taller variety in a single pot.

“In a display, each one can show off the other in terms of texture, colour and shape, and the fruits bring you something extra that you wouldn’t just get with flowering bedding plants.”

veg pots

Which combinations work best together?

If you have a crate, intermingle sun-worshipping Verbena ‘Lollipop’ with trailing pink calibrachoa and cherry-fruited tomatoes, Harris suggests. “In baskets I always plant thunbergia with free-trailing tomatoes and parsley, so you have that wonderful contrast of different greens and then pops of bright colour from the tomatoes and the thunbergia.”

In larger planters with wigwams, grow sweet peas with climbing beans and you’re likely to get a better crop, as bees will be attracted to the sweet peas and will then pollinate the beans, he adds.

“If you group crops of veg with crops of flowers, you will be encouraging biodiversity and hopefully warding off some predators by confusing them,” he says.

veg pots

Think about pot height

In a mixed display, make sure your pots are all at different heights, Harris suggests. “Choose pots of different heights and different widths. I use anything from stacks of bricks with a paving slab, or upturned pots to raise my containers. You need some kind of variation in height and size to get a good look.

“Play around with the pots, rearranging them and placing one plant against another until you have the right combination. You might need to take something away or bring something else in. The display is all part of the fun.”

veg pots

Use colour combinations

Chillies might be partnered with rich-leaved heucheras and sedum, he notes. “Coleus is another great foliage plant. The bright coloured leaves bring out the tones in tomatoes or the chillies, or even echo the red leaves of lettuce or mustard.”

Pots For All Seasons by Tom Harris is published on June 25 by Pimpernel Press, priced £20.

What will the Gardens of the Future Look Like?

future gardens

Tougher plants, smaller plots and more communal spaces may all form the gardens of the future. Hannah Stephenson finds out more.

Gardens are extremely important for both physical and mental wellbeing – which has become increasingly apparent this year. But what are they going to look like in the future?

“We are finally starting to re-evaluate how we spend our leisure time and appreciate the real benefits, both mental and physical, that access to the outside world provides,” says award-winning designer Joe Perkins (joeperkinsdesign.com), who won a gold medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show last year with his Facebook-sponsored garden Beyond The Screen.

“These factors, along with our changing climate and the need to protect and support wildlife, will have greater significance for designers when it comes to planning gardens, and means that gardens could look radically different in 10 or 20 years’ time.”

Here, Perkins shares more thoughts on what gardens of the future could look like…

future gardens

Will gardens be smaller?

“As the price and pressure on available land becomes greater and we extend our interior living spaces, gardens will be smaller. We will see a mixture of balcony and roof space with limited outdoor areas at ground level.”

future gardens

What about lawns?

“Manicured lawns will become, for the most part, a thing of the past. Essentially a green desert for wildlife, they have little benefit and they will be replaced with either wildflower versions or removed and replaced with productive areas or larger flower and shrub borders.

“Social media is flooded with nature appreciation at the moment, so I hope that a more relaxed approach to gardens will start to emerge, with the focus less on control of wildlife and more in support of it.”

future gardens

How will technology play a part?

“Walls and boundaries will become clothed with plants and we could see advanced hydroponics being used to transform our spaces into hi-tech allotments, growing fruit and veg very productively with a minimum requirement for space, water and nutrients. We could even turn our roofs green to help improve air quality, as well as insulate our homes.”

future gardens

Will outdoor socialising change?

“Socialising has always been a priority in the garden, so I believe gardens of the future will incorporate more permanent places that we will use year-round. No more dragging the garden furniture out of the shed and dusting off the umbrella; we will have covered, heated areas for eating, entertaining and even working, now that we have all proved that we can do this from home.

“Practically, these areas will allow us to use make the most of the changing climate too, enabling us to escape the downpours and provide shade through the hotter dry spells.”

future gardens

Will plant choices change?

“Our plant choices will need to change and we will need to select varieties that are more resilient to extreme weathers, choosing plants that cope with high winds and flooding followed by long periods of hot dry weather.

“Southern France, northern Italy and either side of the Pyrenees can provide us with inspiration and many of the plants that thrive there are familiar to us already. Iris pallida, agapanthus, many of the herbs, as well as tough characters like acanthus and cistus will work well.

“Some from further south, such as the European chain fern (Woodwardia radicans) and even the more exotic palms such as Phoenix canariensis will start to migrate northwards. We could even see abutilon, hibiscus or Prunus dulcis (almond) in drier parts of the UK such as East Anglia.”

future gardens

What will be the major emphasis?

“Planting for pollinators is crucial, as we all know, but will become more so as the growth cycle of plants becomes longer. Higher average temperatures will mean earlier activity from animals such as the solitary bee.

“Providing food sources throughout the year for these creatures is something we should be thinking about as gardeners and designers.”

future gardens

Could smaller trees gain popularity?

“Trees have a vital role in mitigating flooding, alleviating rising temperatures, cleaning the air and preventing soil erosion and yet few people would contemplate planting one in their garden, let alone on their balcony.

“Acer palmatum, Amelanchier lamarckii, Malus domestica are all varieties that can be grown in pots and have almost year-round interest with blossom, fruit and winter colour.

“We need to get behind creating urban forests. Think of the trees of Singapore that cloak the sides of skyscrapers. There are many small trees we can plant in our gardens which contribute to this urban forest: Crataegus persimilis ‘Prunifolia’, Malus toringo, Stewartia monodelphato.”

future gardens

What about communal gardens?

“I would hope we would have greater access to larger areas of communal gardens or landscapes, areas with diverse habitat and productive gardens, accessible for our enjoyment and wellbeing, especially when our collective mental and physical health is under threat, but which also provide critical homes for wildlife.”

3 Ways to Help your Child Feel More Calm

Claire Spreadbury asks experts for advice during this tense time.

Whether they’re struggling with schoolwork, battling with friendships or feeling the highs and lows of our current situation, being a kid is never easy.

So, what can parents do to help instil a sense of calm? There are activities you can introduce now to help give children skills they can turn to in tough times.

Here are three worth giving a go…

1. Start writing a journal

Taking time out of each day to write in a journal is a great habit. It can make kids more thankful for the good stuff and act as a release if they write down anything that’s worrying them.

Mum-of-two Francesca Geens started the HappySelf Journal (£23/E26.31, Notonthehighstreet, notonthehighstreet.com) after reading daily reports about how some kids are growing up stressed. “I really wanted to do something to help children develop healthy habits as they grow up in this increasingly busy and switched-on world.”

Geens created a journal aimed at children aged six to 12 and is based on scientifically-proven methods that promote happiness, develop healthy habits for life and nurture enquiring minds. “I designed it because it’s what I wanted my own children to have access to, and couldn’t find anything like it,” she says.

Her kids got involved in the entire process. Geens’ 10-year-old still uses it daily, and her 14-year-old daughter has been helping with the teen edition, coming soon. “We saw the biggest impact with my son – who was able to share worries with us that he hadn’t felt able to talk about previously. And this is something so many parents have shared with me since – that the structure of the journal leads to some lovely conversations at bedtime, leading children to share worries, including bullying, for the first time,” says Geens. “My son started sleeping better, communicating with us more about his feelings and being able to appreciate and identify the positives in his day.”

“We have doubled down on our happiness practices as a family,” adds Geens. “We take our time for journalling and mindfulness, we share our ‘top three things’ at dinner every evening, don’t watch too much news and have clear boundaries for social media and screen time.

“What’s been interesting is that, despite everything that’s going on, we have managed to all keep a positive mindset. We’ve focused on those areas we can control – like looking after ourselves and helping our neighbours. With so much uncertainty and changes to our daily routines, it’s a good time to start journalling. It brings an important structure to the day and allows us a quiet time to reflect and process the day in a positive way.”

2. Exercise for physical and mental health

Some kids love exercise, others are more reluctant. But find the right activity for them and it can really give their mental health a boost, and instil that sense of calm.

“Exercise promotes the release of our internal mood elevators, powerful hormones and neurotransmitters, which – particularly when combined with a little physical fatigue – will have a very calming effect on children,” says fitness expert Laura Williams. “Add in other feel-good factors, such as green space (the evidence for outdoor exercise and mood is extensive), and the fact exercise is likely to be taken with family or friends, and you have a soothing, calming cocktail.”

If your children aren’t so keen on PE With Joe, try an online class where you bust some moves to a chart-topper. Try going on a big bike ride together, or start doing Couch To 5K with them. The sense of achievement often gives us all a boost, and makes kids more up for it the next time.

3. Try meditation or mindfulness

At the beginning and end of each day, Priyanka Lugani, founder of ALMA (almadeli.com), suggests taking your child through heartfulness practice, which can include breathwork, meditation or simply just being still and listening to some calming music. “Ask them to close their eyes and notice what they can hear (birds outside) and feel (the rug underneath).”

If this doesn’t work for your family, try getting creative. “Sensory stimulation with play also activates the stimulation of inner organs, benefiting our children’s minds as well as our bodies,” adds Lugani. “Get messy with arts and crafts and be fully present when doing so. This is also a great way for children to burn off some steam, which will aid their development and ensure they are stimulated enough to unwind at the end of the day.”

13 Ways to Style up his Space this Fathers Day

fathers day style

Sam Wylie-Harris rounds up the best gifts for house-proud dads, coffee connoisseurs, aspiring chefs and music lovers.

In these extraordinary times, the old adage ‘a man’s home is his castle’ has never rung so true, with so many of us spending much more time indoors.

And it’s especially relevant for Father’s Day – with pubs and restaurants closed and most of us celebrating at home or via Zoom, it makes total sense to think about a present that blends style and function, will lift those four walls, or polish up his beloved garden or den.

Looking for father’s day inspiration? These groovy gifts are just a click away…

fathers day style

1. Dualit Coffee Machine in Grey, £179.99, Dualit.com

A class act for budding baristas and grand cru of coffee machines, this three-in-one setup will enable dad to rustle up a luxe latte, cappuccino, espresso and – come happy hour – even a martini espresso. Best of all, Dualit’s multi-brew system means it’s compatible with most coffee capsules and pods to leave him feeling full of beans.

fathers day style

2. Staub Cast Iron Frying Pan, £99.95, Zwilling.com

Expectations invariably run high when it comes to Sunday brunch, so why not encourage him to add some French flair to those expertly sourced ingredients? This matte black enamelled cast iron frying pan is suitable for all hobs and the beech wood handle will feel good to the touch.

fathers day style

3. Monkey Bottle Holder, £39.95, Graham & Green

Whether it’s an impressive label, cellar worthy vintage or weekday red, when it comes to pulling the cork, everyone will want to get their hands on this playful deco before the vino’s poured.

fathers day style

4. Set of 4 Nautical Pasta Bowls, £17.50, and Set of 4 Nautical Side Plates, £15, Marks & Spencer

Seafood linguine will taste that much better in these shellfish loving pasta bowls, especially when you sprinkle it with a handful of fresh parsley for a lovely contrast against the cherry tomatoes.

Top it by serving home-made garlic bread or tomato and mozzarella salad on the matching side plates and it’ll be the closest thing to dining alfresco with a seafront view.

fathers day style

5. Argos Home Skandi Chill Word LED Sign, £15, Argos

A cool addition to his rural escape or home working space, this LED bulb can make the switch from indoor to outdoor use.

fathers day style

6. Argos Home Moorlands Horse Table Lamp – Bronze, £35, Argos

He doesn’t need to be a betting fan or horse whisperer to appreciate this sculpture’s fine form – and who wouldn’t want this champion in their stable of stylish lighting?

fathers day style

7. Technics EAH-AZ70W Wireless Headphones, £239, Amazon

Could this set be his new best buddy? With cutting-edge acoustics, voice-activation (think Alexa and Siri), 18 hours of battery life and active noise cancellation, these wireless earbuds offer optimum performance. Also available in black.

fathers day style

9. Multicoloured Japanese Framed Wall Art £32 (was £40), Black Palm Tree Print Framed Wall Art, £28 (was £35), Debenhams

If his walls are looking a little lacklustre and he appreciates contemporary, clean lines, some eye-catching prints, like these, could work wonders.

fathers day style

10. Geo Black Glasses – Set of 2, £21.60 (was £24), Red Candy

These octagonal glasses have enough pulling power to stir his interest, especially if you encourage him to sit down and put his feet up, while someone else fixes the drinks.

fathers day style

11. Gentleman’s Hardware Suitcase BBQ, £80, John Lewis

The ultimate showcase for the BBQ king, this portable pit is great for the garden and future camping trips. All that’s missing is the bag of coals and sizzling selection of meats, sauces and sides.

fathers day style

12. Retro Matchbox Seat Pads, £35 each, Graham & Green

While we may have to settle for armchair travelling and staycations this summer, these easy riders featuring dream destinations such as Las Vegas and Palm Springs will definitely be on his bucket list.

fathers day style

13. Loft Lois Set of 2 Garden Chairs in Teal, £119, Marks & Spencer

When it’s time to unwind in the slow days of summer, these designer-looking chairs channel a boutique hotel feel, with their stylish functionality and comfort. As well as being ideal for patios, they’ll look just as cool in a conservatory or man cave come autumn.

Self Build Your New Home In Surrey

The Brackens self Build Frimley Green

We are pleased to provide an early preview of 13 substantial self-build plots with planning permission in the beautiful county of Surrey.

The Brackens is a consented site created by Castle Developments, nestled in a woodland setting between the villages of Pirbright and Frimley Green, with each plot offers the space and freedom to create your dream luxury home within an exclusive gated development.

Formerly the site of a private school, the peaceful grounds will include a central green with a natural water feature and refurbished tennis courts for all residents to enjoy.

Self Build Opportunity – Surrey / Hampshire Borders

Location and How to Buy A Plot

Please take a look at the video above to see the site location from the air and you will appreciate the wonderful woodland setting of this wonderful site, located just 12 miles from Guildford.

Each plot is unique and has outline planning permission for a home of between 2,250 sq ft and 3,200 sq ft.

The steps to living in your dream new home are choosing the plot, agreeing to buy and exchanging, develop the design details with your architect, obtain the final detailed planning and start building.

The Brackens self Build Frimley Green

The Brackens is on the outskirts of Frimley Green and combines excellent connections with the relaxed pace of country living.

Centred around a traditional village green, this Surrey enclave is well placed for commuting, with a choice of stations in Frimley, Farnborough and Brookwood, and the M3 just 2.9 miles north.

As a thriving village, Frimley Green offers everything necessary for day-to-day living, including excellent pubs, coffee shops, mini-markets, beauty salons and leisure facilities.

The galleries, theatres, restaurants and boutiques of Guildford are just 25 minutes’ drive away, while closer still are the amenities of The Meadows shopping centre and Farnborough, including Farnborough Airport, said to be the UK’s finest private facility.

With so much to offer in such picturesque surroundings, Frimley Green is the ideal place to put down roots and achieve the right work-life balance for you and your family.

The Brackens self Build Frimley Green
The Brackens self Build Frimley Green

When Can You View

We will have a detailed brochure available soon, but if you would like an early viewing appointment telephone 01252 620640 and ask for Ben Murphy. Alternatively email bmurphy@mccarthyholden.co.uk

Start the journey!

Make Positive Plans to Explore our Waters

Sarah Marshall looks at wild and wonderful ways to connect with marine environments.

Moved by the moon and animated by solar heat, five vast bodies of water ebb and flow around earth, constantly moving, evolving and fuelling scientific thought.

But the unfathomable abyss is more familiar than we think.

Although each ocean has its own distinct characteristics and inhabitant creatures, together they form one immense aquatic jigsaw, playing a crucial role in shaping our everyday lives. What once divided terrestrial explorers now connects global cultures; below the surface, extreme depth organisms are helping microbiologists in their fight against Covid-19.

Intrepid voyages, snorkelling holidays and shore-side excursions help travellers make sense of our blue planet, promising new discoveries and delights along the way.

A rallying call for conservation efforts, World Oceans Day on Monday, June 8, is also a reminder to celebrate marine ecosystems and respect their power; a nudge, once travel resumes, to dive straight back in.

De Hoop Reserve, South Africa, Indian Ocean

Those struggling to find their sea legs can still dip into the big blue without even getting their toes wet. Every year, from June to November, southern right whales cruise South Africa’s eastern coastline to mate and calve, close to shore in a protected marine reserve. De Hoop is regarded as one of the planet’s top spots for land-based whale watching, where onlookers can snuggle into the dunes while these ocean giants breach and blow. Clinging to a clifftop, Lekkerwater Beach Lodge has the ideal vantage point: sit and observe from the communal deck, or even the foot of your bed.

How: Stays from £300pp per night. Visit naturalselection.travel.

Huvafen Fushi, The Maldives, Indian Ocean

It’s possible to drink, dine and dream underwater in sub-surface restaurants and resort rooms. At Huvafen Fushi in the North Male Atoll, you can even get a massage amidst schools of reef sharks and brightly coloured butterfly fish. Once the pampering is over, guests can come back at dusk for a night tour of the SpaQuarium, when the ocean explodes with life. Marine biologists shed a blue light on the marine environment, allowing algae to brightly fluoresce with more neon than the Vegas Strip in full swing.

How: Elegant Resorts (01244 897 505; elegantresorts.co.uk) offers seven nights from £3,300 per person, half-board, including flights. Valid for travel until October 31.

Marietas Islands, Mexico, Pacific Ocean

Nature is a masterful architect, but sometimes man-made interference can have dramatic results. Nicknamed the ‘hidden beach’, a water-lapped shore appears to sit at the bottom of a sun-filled crater on this Unesco-recognised archipelago along Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit. Some say the opening was created by volcanic activity, although it’s rumoured a bomb was responsible, possibly during military testing carried out since the 1900s and finally banished by a public outcry in the 1960s led by conservationist Jacques Cousteau. Once overrun by selfie-seekers, the site is now restricted to 117 visitors per day, each given a 20-minute snorkelling slot.

How: Love Holidays (loveholidays.com) offers seven nights at the four-star Marival Emotions Resort & Suites on an all-inclusive basis in Nuevo Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit from £1,307pp. Includes flights from Manchester on February 3, 2021.

Cape Weligama, Sri Lanka, Indian Ocean

There’s no better way to feel the force of the ocean than by riding its waves. Sri Lanka’s surf scene benefits from warm currents in the Indian Ocean, and you don’t need to be a pro to tackle the swells. A 30-minute drive from Galle, this seaside Resplendent Ceylon property allows guests to literally fall out of bed on to the beach – perfect for a surfer’s early starts – and benefits from the largest variety of breaks along the south coast. Guests of all levels can take tuition from yoga and surf specialists, Ceylon Sliders.

How: Abercrombie & Kent (01242 547 760; abercrombiekent.co.uk) offers a seven-night B&B stay from £2,250pp, including flights and transfers.

Dingle Peninsula, Ireland, Atlantic Ocean

Waves rolling from several continents hit Ireland’s west coast: from here, the emerald isle tips into deep blue. Steep, jagged cliffs shield the peninsula from waves and provide a viewpoint to study seals, puffins and dolphins; or for a more intimate experience, hop on a RIB boat with Dingle Sea Safari, who lead early morning, two-hour tours in search of Fungie, a wild bottlenose dolphin who has lived in Dingle Bay for 30 years. There’s even a chance to get in the water for a swim.

How: Tours cost from E45/£40 per person. Wetsuits for swims must be booked in advance. Visit dingleseasafari.com. Stay at the Dingle Skellig Hotel (+353 66 915 0200; dingleskellig.com) from £160 per night B&B.

Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia, Pacific Ocean

Arguably, there’s enough amusement along the world’s largest coral reef system to keep visitors occupied. But a new installation, fully launching next year, aims to entertain and educate. The Museum Of Underwater Art will feature a series of sub-aquatic galleries situated across Townsville, Magnetic Island, Palm Island and the John Brewer Reef, aiming to raise environmental awareness and teach people about marine ecosystems. Designed by UK-based underwater sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, exhibits will include an underwater greenhouse with sculptures propagating coral.

How: Travelbag (020 7001 4112; travelbag.co.uk) offers a 13-night trip to Townsville and the Reef from £1,899pp, including flights from London in March 2021.

Baffin Island, Canadian Arctic, Arctic Ocean

One of the longest quests in maritime history, the search for a northwest trade passage between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans eluded explorers for 300 years. Arctic veteran Sir John Franklin set off on his own doomed voyage in 1845, and only in recent years were his two ships recovered from the ice. Fortunately, conditions are now much safer, allowing tourists to sail through the Canadian Arctic and remote Baffin Island, encountering Innuit culture and hardy wildlife whilst unravelling one of polar history’s greatest mysteries.

How: Intrepid (intrepidtravel.com) offer a 17-day In Northwest Passage: The Footsteps Of Franklin voyage from £13,200pp (triple share), excluding international flights. Departs August 2, 2021.

Raja Ampat and The Spice Islands, Indonesia, Pacific Ocean

Next year marks the 500th anniversary of Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe, which dispelled a common fear sailors might fall off the edge if they travelled too far. The Portuguese explorer’s voyage ended in Indonesia’s Spice Islands, the exclusive source of highly-coveted nutmeg, mace and cloves. The archipelago neighbours Raja Ampat, a chain of tropical jewels coiled in a watery treasure chest: from manta rays to pygmy seahorses, divers can revel in some of the greatest marine biodiversity on earth.

How: Steppes Travel (01285 601 784; steppestravel.com) tailor-make an eight-day cruise of Raja Ampat and the Spice Islands from £4,500, excluding international flights.

South Georgia, Falklands and Antarctica, Southern Ocean

It’s often hard to draw connections between our land-locked actions and the big blue world, but human activity has hugely impacted the nature of our oceans. Nowhere is that more evident than the polar regions, where ice is disappearing rapidly and melting freshwater glaciers are diluting the salinity of seas. An essential take-away from visiting these fragile destinations is an understanding of what’s really going on. Many expedition ships now offer citizen science programmes, measuring cloud formations, collecting water samples and counting whale flukes. Findings contribute to bigger research programmes and a better public grip on climate change.

How: Polar Latitudes (polar-latitudes.com) are leaders in this field. Their 21-day Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica costs from £12,750pp, including flights, through Swoop Antarctica (0117 369 0696; swoop-antarctica.com). Departs January 19, 2021.

Simple and Stylish Ways to Transform your Outdoor Space

stylish garden upgrades

Whether it's a poky patio or decadent decking, all outdoor spaces can be spruced up with some stylish touches. Gabrielle Fagan reveals how.

Spending so much time at home has made us really appreciate our outdoor spaces – even if it’s the tiniest balcony or terrace.

Sales of outdoor furniture and accessories have rocketed, as we’ve lavished TLC on our patios so that they’re a sanctuary that truly reflects our taste and needs.

“There’s a growing recognition that an outside space really is the ‘fifth room’ in your home, and should be furnished and decorated with the same amount of care and attention to detail as any indoor room,” says Lynsey Abbott, seasonal buyer at Dobbies Garden Centres.

“This should be a space that begs you to throw open the windows and unwind at the end of a long day during the spring and summer months. Whether it’s a set of French windows, the door to your balcony, or simply your outdoor patio, your home probably has an ideal place to style as that fifth room.”

Tempted? Take your pick from these ideas for creating the perfect outdoor space…

stylish garden upgrades

Small can be beautiful

Size truly isn’t everything when it comes to creating an inviting outdoor space. With a dash of imagination and flair, you can work magic on even the tiniest spot. “No matter how compact your space, it can be turned into a little sanctuary perfect for morning coffee or evening cocktails,” agrees Nadia McCowan Hill, resident style advisor at Wayfair.

“I love a relaxed boho look for summer, with wall hangings and outdoor rugs in all colours and shapes. Layering rugs has a striking effect and will add depth to a balcony or outdoor space with limited square footage.”

TOP TIP: Light coloured seating will look less dominating in a small area. Add punchy colour and pattern with colourful, textured cushions and blankets, handy for warding off the chills on cool nights. A decorative wooden ladder is a super way to display hanging succulents or small lanterns.

stylish garden upgrades

Take it tropical

Summer holiday to that far-flung hotspot on hold? Ramp up the temperature at home by creating your own Caribbean-style retreat outside your back door.

Kit it out with neon patio furniture, a palm-fringed bar, potted palms (fake or real) and accessories in exotic prints. No passport or suitcases required – and pina colada optional!

Shake up some style

TOP TIP: Adding a lick of paint isn’t just for indoors. Get creative and bring hot colour and character to your outdoor space with an exterior paint. You can also use a shade to complement or contrast with the planted areas of your garden, depending on the look you’re going for. Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Bright Orange Gloss Multi-Surface Paint, from £9 for 0.25L, B&Q.

stylish garden upgrades

Treats for the table

Al fresco tableware is so stylish now, it’s tempting to use it all year round, indoors as well as out. Keep garden table dressing pared-back for the best effect – it doesn’t want to be fussy, as that will ruin the casual, kick-off-your-shoes atmosphere you’re trying to create. Just choose a couple of statement pieces and then match a key colour with napkins or a table runner.

stylish garden upgrades

Create a fifth room with furniture

“Choose furniture that suits your indoor style, then there will be a real follow-through of your look into the outdoors that blurs the boundary,” says Abbott.

“Consider the height of furniture. Low-backed furniture, for instance, won’t block your view of your garden. Add cushions and throws to soften the contrast between garden furniture and indoor furniture. Reflect key garden colours in accessories to further tie the scheme together.”

TOP TIP: Large, leafy palms and striking succulents can star in an outdoor space and be brought indoors in the colder months to bring greenery inside. Displaying a collection of plants by the entrance to your patio or balcony area is another way of merging the divide between the indoor and outdoor areas.

stylish garden upgrades

Go super natural

One of the hottest trends in patio style is a laid-back look, which combines natural materials with an easy-on-the-eye neutral palette. It’s perfect for a sophisticated stylish space.

“We’re seeing a growing emphasis on fabrics made from recycled materials and furniture made from natural, organic material, as well as responsibly-sourced sustainable woods such as A-grade teak,” says Tina Mahony, director at Go Modern (gomodern.co.uk).

“Teak is weather-proof and retains its beautiful warm honey-tones. It blends wonderfully with any surrounding style and is perfect for creating an ‘outside room’ look,” she adds.

Mahony highlights new material Tricord – a weather-resistant synthetic that’s now often being used in place of natural rattan because it won’t fade or rot, is easy to clean and extremely comfortable.

Go Modern’s range includes a Tribu Elio Garden Sofa, in teak with Tricord rope backs and seats, £2,890, Garden Armchair, £990, and Tribu Roots Garden Teak Block, £1,350.

stylish garden upgrades

Light up the night

“Outdoor spaces, whether small or large, have so much untapped potential to be transformed at night into a warm, welcoming haven with the addition of lights,” says Becky Tasker, brand creative at Lights4Fun.co.uk.

“Arrange lights in your courtyard, garden or balcony just as you would in an indoor room. It’s important to have three levels of light. I’d suggest stringing festoon lights overhead for a twinkling canopy, add waterproof candle-style lights on a table top, and arrange candle lanterns on the ground to zone the area “

TOP TIP: A group of lanterns, candles and micro lights on a mirrored tray makes a stunning focal point for a table. String lighting on your fencing, solar lights around pots and bedding plants and enjoy a night-time garden landscape that rivals the daytime one.

5 Fun Art Activities to Help Children Show their Feelings

children's emotional art

An art therapist outlines how kids' art can be used to help them and the rest of the family express emotions and bond together. Lisa Salmon reports.

For most parents, children’s art is just something to stick on the fridge and stow away when possible. But those splodgy works of art could actually be a window to their soul. Honestly.

Instead of trying to get young children, who often have a very limited vocabulary, to talk about how they feel, their drawings can be used to help them express their emotions. And while such a process is a form of art therapy, you definitely don’t have to be a trained art therapist to use it.

Art psychotherapist Fransie Frandsen says art therapy is very different from the popular belief that it’s just the interpretation of drawings – explaining that it uses art as a form of communication and expression, helping to identify, convey and process difficult emotions.

“As an art psychotherapist working with children, I find the idea of artwork becoming a ‘third person’ in a session particularly important,” she says. “This dialogue between therapist, child and artwork helps to make the process feel safer, so it becomes possible to gently turn on the lights of those dark rooms they avoid.”

Frandsen, whose children’s book Do Grannies Have Green Fingers is about to be published, says as well as art therapy being a specialised area of mental health therapy, creating art through drawing, painting, colouring or sculpture is therapeutic in itself. bringing focus, satisfaction and calm that remains long afterwards.

“Whether you’re in lockdown, holidays or at any other time, there are many art activities that can be done together at home, which are fun and at the same time hugely beneficial for a child’s wellbeing,” she says. “With the emphasis on the process of doing art together, rather than what the drawing or painting looks like, these activities can encourage bonding, create dialogue and allow family members to share and talk about the world and their feelings.”

Here, Frandsen suggests 5 fun art activities that will help children and families bond and express their emotions…

children's emotional art

1. Draw a Mandala

The word ‘mandala’ means circle in ancient Sanskrit and is a pattern with a circle within a circle, representing the universe. Start by drawing or tracing a small circle in the centre and then continue drawing a few outward concentric circles and patterns to complete the mandala. Your mandala can then be coloured in with coloured pencils or markers. Adults can help smaller children to draw the basic outline for their mandala. Because of the repetitive nature, drawing mandalas is calming and helps focus the mind. Colouring in the finished mandala is also relaxing as the outlines serve as boundaries or frameworks within which the colouring can be done.

children's emotional art

2. Draw or paint your emotions

Ask all members of your family to draw or paint how they’re feeling at that moment. When done, ask everyone to talk about what they’ve painted and encourage them to talk about the colours they’ve used, the marks or images they’ve painted and why they made that choice. Talking about feelings in a family setting isn’t always easy and this is an excellent exercise to build trust in each other and create dialogue about our inner worlds. It’s important that there’s no right and wrong and that adults reassure children their feelings are heard and valid, no matter what they are.

children's emotional art

3. Draw outside

Take art materials into the garden, where parents and children can pick a flower or find a feather, leaf or insect, and then talk about what they found and why they chose it. Then, everyone should draw or paint their object. This is a great way to encourage dialogue and to learn about each other, while spending peaceful time outdoors.

children's emotional art

4. Make clay handprints

Parents and children need a ball of clay each, which should be flattened until it’s roughly the size of each person’s palm. Press your hand down into the clay to create an imprint of your hand. Now compare all your prints and talk about how similar, but different and special we all are. You could also print the paws of cats and dogs. When the prints are dry, they can be painted and exhibited together. The tactile, sensory quality of clay is a relaxing material to play with and especially therapeutic where anger or control is an issue. Making handprints is an excellent way of encouraging dialogue about how unique we all are. Assembling them into a family artwork is not only bonding, but is visual confirmation of each family member’s valued part in the family.

children's emotional art

5. Do a group painting

Use a large sheet of paper or several pieces glued together. Arrange the family members equally around the paper and ask each member to start painting where they are and to work towards the middle until all paintings meet in the centre. There are no restrictions on what or how each member chooses to paint. When completed, ask members to describe what it was like for them to work together, what feelings they experienced and what they think of the finished artwork.

Once again, this exercise is excellent in opening dialogue. Group paintings are bonding, but can often evoke intense feelings about your place in the family, entering into another’s space, and boundaries being infringed. Reassure everyone that all feelings are valid, and positively reflect on the value of creating something together as a family.

children's emotional art

Do Grannies Have Green Fingers by Fransie Frandsen is published by Artfox.Bookwolf on June 11, priced £7.99.

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