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McCarthy Holden COVID secure procedures – Updated 25th July 2020

Following new government guidelines and changes that McCarthy Holden have made to staffing levels etc. the following is an updated procedure list of requirements that need to be complied to by all staff to ensure safety to both us and the public.

This is an overview of procedures that are required to be completed by all staff, owners and viewers and has been produced after a COVID secure risk assessment. If anyone would like a copy of our risk assessment please email: sholden@mccarthyholden.co.uk

Offices:

No members of public in office unless by prior appointment

When members of public enter the office, they must be wearing a mask and any employee of McCarthy Holden who is dealing with them must also wear a mask

Offices cleaned and sanitised morning and evening – use alcohol spray and paper towels –

Hours to be 9.30am-5.30pm

No office communal mugs/glasses/plates to be used

Bring in own bottled water / thermos etc

If possible, bring in own lunch or bring pre-packaged. No use of kitchen facilities ie microwave etc.

Front door to remain locked

Hands to be washed throughout the day and dried using paper towels which are then disposed of

Hands to be washed on re-entering office during the day

Empty bins daily into Biffa bin or official bin bags, tied securely

Attire should not include suits as these cannot be washed daily, but staff should maintain smart wear (going forward attire such as chinos/trousers and shirts) not polo or t shirts from next week)

Viewings:

  • Virtual viewings must be attempted first
  • Viewers must be in the position to proceed
  • 1 or 2 viewers of the same household
  • No children in the property
  • No open house viewing arrangements

Preparation for viewings –

  • All doors open and windows open for air flow
  • Wash hands with alcohol hand wash or soap and water before and after viewings
  • Vendors to vacate

Procedure during viewing –

  • Agent to use sanitiser alcohol spray on hands before entering the property and repeat at the end of the viewing. Washable/reusable face masks will be provided for each employee to use.
  • Agent unlock property and leave doors open
  • Viewers to wear face masks (please bring own) and use the provided alcohol spray before and after entering the property. If a face mask is forgotten agent with have spare disposable. No appointment without a mask/spray.
  • Viewers enter property on own if there is not enough space to maintain 2m at all times
  • No surfaces to be touched – if a surface is touched it will need to be sprayed and cleaned
  • At end of viewing, all parties need to spray hands with alcohol spray.
  • Once viewers left, agents shut up property and wipe external handles

After viewing –

  • Vendor should ensure surfaces are cleaned and towels disposed of or washed as appropriate.

Take-Ons:

  • Vendor to prepare house, turn on all lights, move anything out of sight, open all doors
  • Vendor vacates to garden
  • Agent to use hand sanitiser alcohol spray and mask and wash hands before and after appointment
  • Any questions/follow ups to be done by email
  • No surfaces to be touched
  • Once finished, spray and wash hands

Market appraisals:

  • Agent to use alcohol spray and mask and wash hands before and after appointment
  • Agent to complete tour on own if not enough space to maintain 2m
  • Doors to be opened in advance by vendor
  • Any discussions with vendor should be with 2m space – ie garden or large room
  • No paperwork/marketing material to be left – all emailed after

10 of the Best Gardens to Visit this Summer

Many gardens have now reopened to the public for summer. Hannah Stephenson selects 10 of the best.

Still short of things to do during summer holidays? Why not visit some of our most glorious gardens, which have reopened to the public.

They all detail the Covid-19 safety measures they’ve put in place on their websites. Most require pre-booking tickets (check websites for specific details) and all have regulated social distancing – take a mask to be on the safe side too.

Here’s 10 of our favourites…

1. Arley Hall and Gardens, Cheshire (arleyhallandgardens.com)

Arley Hall and its glorious gardens have provided the setting for some familiar TV series, including Peaky Blinders, Antiques Roadshow and Great British Garden Revival. Head for the herbaceous border, its best known feature, which boasts some spectacular planting, then wander through the pleached lime avenue of trees and lose yourself within The Grove. There are many different areas within its eight acres of formal gardens, as well as an arboretum and woodland walk. The hall remains closed.

2. Abbotsford Gardens, Roxburghshire, Scotland (scottsabbotsford.com)

Abbotsford was Sir Walter Scott’s home, and his imagination extended to the outdoors with the creation of these beautiful formal Regency gardens. Highlights include the kitchen garden, the third of his interconnecting outdoor ‘rooms’, which house a mix of flowering and scented plants, herbs, fruits and vegetables.

The gardens are currently open Wednesday to Sunday, with hopes to reopen the historic house in August. Check the website for updates.

3. The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall (heligan.com)

With some 200 acres of garden and estate, you simply can’t do all of Heligan in one visit – so if you’ve only got a day, seek out summer highlights. An incredible 15 acres of wildflower meadow has been planted, featuring cornflowers, corn chamomile, poppies and corn marigolds, to create a stunning visual backdrop, perfect for butterflies and bees.

Families are invited to pick up a ‘Heligan Summer’ booklet from the ticket office before setting off. Pre-booking essential for timed tickets.

4. Montalto Estate, Co. Down, Northern Ireland (montaltoestate.com)

The trails and gardens within this magical estate have now re-opened, so visitors can explore a wealth of features – including the cutting garden made up of annuals, biennials, perennials and shrubs, the formal garden with its defined geometric shapes and stunning views of Montalto Lake and boathouse, and the alpine garden, with its impressive collections of plants.

The trails and gardens are currently open Wed-Sun but all visitors must pre-book tickets online. Access to some gardens may be restricted due to events.

5. Wightwick Gardens, Wolverhampton, West Midlands (nationaltrust.org.uk)

Comprising 17 acres, this might not be the biggest National Trust garden but it certainly packs a punch in the style stakes, thanks to 20th century Arts and Crafts garden designer, Thomas Mawson. The dominant design feature of the garden is its ‘rooms’ – areas marked by clipped yew hedges or terraces, giving the space a wide variety of different feelings.

Tickets are released on Fridays for the following week and pre-booking for timed visits is essential. The Manor House remains closed until further notice.

6. Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, South Yorkshire (english-heritage.org.uk)

Spectacularly restored to their full Victorian splendour, the 15 acres of gardens at Brodsworth are home to a collection of grand gardens in miniature, filled with colourful seasonal plantings and displays. Stroll through the statue walks and the beautiful wild rose dell, with over 100 varieties of historic rose. You can also admire period bedding plants in the Flower Garden, including cannas and gingers for dot planting, with salvia, gazania, ageratum and verbena.

Pre-booking essential for timed tickets. House and play area remain closed. A family-friendly summer explorer quest is taking place throughout summer.

7. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (kew.org)

The world famous botanical gardens opened doors to visitors in June. They’ve now reopened the glasshouses too, so you can admire an array of tropical treasures, desert species and more in the Palm House, Temperate House and Princess of Wales Conservatory.

In a final flourish to Kew Gardens’ summer landscape, a bespoke botanical sculpture – created by the winning duo from the acclaimed Netflix television programme, The Big Flower Fight, will be on display in August.

Pre-booking essential for timed entry. Toilets, shops and some outdoor food facilities are currently open and screened regularly. Check website for details.

8. RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey (rhs.org.uk)

Visitors to the jewel in the crown of the RHS gardens will be able to enjoy its summer highlights, including sizzling dahlias and tropical banana plants in its exotic garden, which showcases plants that have a tropical look but flourish outdoors in a typical UK summer climate. Don’t forget to stroll along the mixed borders for a riot of summer colour and surround yourself with lavender on the viewing mount.

Pre-booking essential for timed tickets, card transactions only on site. Glasshouse, alpine houses, learning centre and library and advisory desk remain closed.

9. Wollerton Old Hall Garden, North Shropshire (wollertonoldhallgarden.com)

Set around a 16th century hall (not currently open to the public), Wollerton Old Hall incorporates a formal modern garden on an old site covering four acres. Its garden rooms are beautifully planted with stunning perennials and offer some terrific design ideas. The garden is famous for its salvias, clematis and roses and the clever use of colour, form and scale. The main perennial border in late summer is still awash with colour, so don’t miss it.

Currently open Thursday, Fridays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays. Pre-booked tickets essential.

10. Witley Court and Gardens, Worcestershire (english-heritage.org.uk)

Survivor of a devastating fire in the early 20th century, Witley’s romantic gardens are full of delights. A spectacular lake, vast fountain of Perseus and Andromeda, and colourful French parterre are among the highlights. In summer, the East Parterre at Witley Court is spectacular and includes variegated pelargoniums, ageratum, evening primrose (Oenothera) and verbenas.

This summer, take the family on a free fun adventure quest with an historical twist. You can download your trail map on the website before you go.

Pre-booking essential for timed tickets.

7 of the Best Places for Wild Swimming in the UK and Ireland

wild swimming

From waterfalls in Yorkshire to glacial fjords in Ireland, there are so many amazing places for some al fresco exercise.

This year, many swimming fanatics have had to find new ways to get their fix.

Indoor pools are soon to be reopened in the UK and many have already opened their doors in Ireland, but it seems there’s been a surge in the popularity of wild swimming recently – with people falling in love with the outdoorsy, brisk nature of the sport.

Whether it’s lakes, rivers or pools, there are plenty of health benefits to an al fresco approach to swimming – the cold water is said to release endorphins, which can help boost your mood, and help improve circulation.

Your body has to work harder to stay warm in the cold water, meaning you burn more calories, and studies have shown it can even lower your blood pressure.

You have to be particularly careful when swimming in open bodies of water. Check any currents before getting in – even shallow sections of fast-flowing water can knock you off your feet – check the depth of the water first, be careful not to get too cold and never swim alone.

Here are some of the most beautiful places across the UK and Ireland to connect with nature and dip your toes in the water…

wild swimming

1. Sgwd Gwladys, Neath, Wales

You might think waterfalls are the kinds of things you only really stumble across on holidays to far-flung places, but there are actually plenty closer to home. Known as ‘Lady Falls’, Sgwd Gwladys is like something out of a storybook with a 10m high waterfall gushing into a plunge pool, surrounded by a serene forest.

wild swimming

2. Kisdon Force, England

If Lady Falls piqued your interest in waterfalls, next you could visit Kisdon Force in Yorkshire. This has not one, but two waterfalls nearby – one is 5m high and the other 12m. Located in a gorge, Kisdon Force is surrounded by a woodland area, making it feel extra peaceful.

wild swimming

3. Howth, Ireland

A coastal village not far from Dublin, Howth is surrounded by rocky paths leading to plenty of perfect spots to jump into the sea. In fact, it’s so geared towards wild swimming some of the rocky outcrops even have diving boards built onto them. However, it’s very stony so be careful getting in and out.

wild swimming

4. Grantchester Meadows, England

You can find Grantchester Meadows on the River Cam in Cambridgeshire. It’s the perfect spot to access the river and do a bit of swimming, surrounded by leafy trees and grassy banks. There’s plenty of space to choose from along the two-mile stretch and occasional opportunities for diving.

wild swimming

5. Carlingford Lough, Ireland

Carlingford Lough is a glacial fjord, so don’t expect balmy temperatures, but you can rely on the water being crystal clear. It forms part of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and during your swim you can marvel at the Mourne Mountains on one side and the medieval buildings of Carlingford on the other.

wild swimming

6. Allt Daraich, Scotland

These pools can be found close to the remote settlement of Sligachan on the Isle of Skye. The rocky pools are clear and blue-green in colour, and it’s the perfect place if you’re looking for seclusion.

wild swimming

7. Carrick-a-Rede, Northern Ireland

This is one of the more advanced options on the list, but is worth it for the breathtaking scenery. Carrick-a-Rede is famous for its rope bridge between two sheer cliff faces, and this 1km route gives you a different view of the landmark. Adventurous (and experienced) swimmers can paddle across Larrybane Bay and underneath the iconic bridge, taking a rest on Carrick-a-Rede island at the end.

How to Create a Garden Getaway to feel like you’re on Holiday

Choosing a staycation? You can still capture a feel of the tropics in your garden with plants and accessories, experts insist.

While many of us may be staycationing this year, there are ways to create a holiday haven in our gardens using plants and decor that mimic a host of exotic destinations.

RHS Garden Wisley’s exotic garden, for example, houses not only tropical-looking pineapple plants, striking palms and giant banana trees which flourish in summer, but shows what will survive the winter.

RHS Wisley’s garden manager Emma Allen, who looks after the exotic garden, says: “When experimenting with tropical plants at home, remember the ‘right plant, right place’ rule. If you have a shady corner, make sure you plant shade tolerant options, and if you have sun trap areas, select plants that will flourish there.”

Allen’s top plants for a tropical sensation…

Trachycarpus fortunei – a really hardy palm (down to between -10 C and -15 C), this will give your garden the exotic look and feel without the need to worry about whether it will survive through winter. They are rather slow growing, ultimately reaching a height of over 12m after 20-50 years.

Canna – any type of canna will bring large juicy leaves and exotic looking flowers in pink, orange, yellow, white or red. Some have variegated leaves such as Canna ‘Stuttgart’ or ‘Phaison’.

Passiflora caerulea – a hardy semi-evergreen climber with the most striking flowers. This vigorous plant will cover a wall or pergola in no time.

Fatsia japonica – a medium-sized evergreen shrub with palmately-lobed leaves to 45cm in width, and small white flowers in clusters and small black fruits.

Dahlia – extravagant and flamboyant flowers, plus they flower all summer long. For drama and colour, try ‘Karma Choc’ (Decorative Group) with dark red velvety flowers, or ‘Edwin’s Sunset’ (Waterlily Group) with beautiful vivid red flowers that almost glow.

Use decor and accessories…

Blend your tropical-looking plants with exotic accessories and seating to create a holiday feel. Experts at Dobbies Garden Centres (dobbies.com) offer five design tips to help you into the holiday mood…

1. Go totally tropical

Fill patio containers with a selection of vibrant bedding or perennial cottage garden plants for an instant display of foliage and flower colour, including Cordyline australis ‘Peko’, along with potted palms such as Phoenix canariensis, Chamaerops humilis (dwarf fan palm) and Trachycarpus fortunei to add height and interest and look great in groups. Position pots behind garden furniture to create the illusion that they are planted in the ground.

2. Create a colour pop

Bring a brilliant burst of sunshine and add some zing to your exterior space using an eclectic array of brightly coloured pots, mixing and matching flowers in contrasting shades for maximum impact. Fun accessories will quickly brighten patios or balconies. Choose pots in vibrant primary colours, which will really pop against white or neutral backdrops.

3. Bring the indoors out

Brighten your garden getaway by bringing houseplants outside for the day. Adding your favourite indoor orchid to a bistro table will create a tropical centrepiece – just be sure to return them to their normal home later on to ensure they don’t get exposed to too much direct sunlight.

An outdoor rug will instantly transform your space and offers protection to patios and decking from sun cream spillages or melting ice creams. They also help to zone an area, adding a stylish decorative touch. Day beds and hanging egg chairs are the ultimate garden getaway luxury if you have room.

4. Make it magical

For atmospheric evenings, accessorise with a variety of lanterns, fairy lights and candles to enhance the mood – it is amazing how magical a space can look at twilight. A stylish lantern, or a solar-powered string of lights draped across trees and fences will stretch out the time spent outside. Use blankets, floor cushions and chunky knit throws to keep warm and curl up under the stars.

5. And when the sun sets…

Take the chill out of cooler evenings by investing in a practical chiminea or fire pit for your patio, adding warmth and light to extend outdoor entertaining.

And think about how you are going to protect your plants during the cooler months, RHS expert Allen advises. “As many domestic gardeners do not have the time or space to bring plants inside over winter, it is essential to protect in situ. If focusing on the tropical look, select hardy options such as trachycarpus, fatsia, eucomis, tricyrtis, schefflera and zantedeschia, which will re-emerge after winter.

“If you want to have bananas or half-hardy palms, try wrapping them throughout the winter using horticultural fleece or hessian and fill the inside with straw for extra insulation,” she adds.

Stamp Duty Changes To Boost House Market

Prior to today’s announcement the market was doing rather well post lockdown, so the new stamp duty announcements will boost house sales further.

Nearly nine in 10 people getting on or moving up the property ladder where stamp duty applies will not need to pay the tax at all while a temporary holiday applies.

From July 15 until March 31 2021, buyers will pay no stamp duty on the first £500,000 of their purchase when they move home.

The measure, which temporarily increases the “nil rate” band of stamp duty from £125,000 to £500,000, will reduce the average stamp duty bill for a main home from £4,500 to zero. Buyers can potentially save up to £15,000.

Announcing the move, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Nearly nine out of 10 people buying a main home this year will pay no stamp duty at all.”

Stamp duty applies in England and Northern Ireland and people usually pay the tax on homes priced above £125,000. Some stamp duty discounts were already in place for first-time buyers.

There are already signs that the stamp duty holiday is helping to reboot the property market.

In the first half hour after the announcement was made on Wednesday, traffic to property website Rightmove jumped by 22%.

See this range of recommended properties for purchasers looking up to around £500,000

Start your property search here.

stamp duty changes estate agents Hampshire

How to Talk to your Children about Racism and While Privilege

talk to kids about racism

As protests continue around the world, Lauren Taylor finds out how parents can ensure their children understand what's happening.

George Floyd’s death in police custody and the subsequent protests across the world for the Black Lives Matter movement, has catapulted racism to the forefront of social consciousness.

It’s long overdue, but the outcry has forced many white people to consider and better understand systemic racism, take an honest (sometimes uncomfortable) look at white privilege, and question how they can be a better ally to black people.

For parents, there’s an added responsibility to teach children about what’s going on in the world right now and to raise kids to be racially-conscious. After all, racism and an ignorance of racial issues is a learned behaviour, and parents are the people best placed to influence their children’s understanding and ability to contribute to positive change.

But if it isn’t a topic that’s been addressed in your household before, where should you start?

talk to kids about racism

Ensure they know the wider context

Sadly school history classes don’t always cover it. “Teach them about the history of racial oppression and how racism is bigger than people having stereotypes or prejudices-it is about a system of power and is built into our laws, institutions, policies, and so forth,” says Margaret Hagerman, a professor in sociology at Mississippi State University and author of White Kids: Growing Up With Privilege in a Racially Divided America.

“This might mean parents need to do some learning in this area, and families can do this learning together.”

talk to kids about racism

Don’t teach them to ‘ignore differences’

One rhetoric you might hear is someone saying they ‘don’t see colour’ – while this might be well meaning, it actually contributes to racial bias. “Teach them how race matters in society and that being ‘colour blind’ ignores this reality,” says Hagerman.

Young children tend to be aware of visible differences between themselves and their friends, but don’t naturally discriminate – so use this in a positive way to impart anti-racist values early.

“Equality is not about pretending we don’t notice differences, but instead being aware that our differences can create barriers and working to overcome these,” says Jake Higgin, an education worker at Show Racism the Red Card (theredcard.org).

The charity works in schools and has developed a ‘home school activity worksheet’ available on their website (£20), parents can use at home. The ‘three faces’ activity asks children to look at young people with different appearances, and guess their name, nationality and religion – leading to a discussion around skin colour, identity and nationality. “It can be used as a powerful way to get young people to think about the judgements we make about others,” says Higgin.

“We have also found that young people are passionate about justice and fairness, so it’s important to get them to think about how unjust it is when people are treated poorly just because they are different.”

talk to kids about racism

Start young on the subject of white privilege

“The majority of people who find the idea of white privilege problematic or challenging, simply don’t understand it,” says Higgin. “White privilege doesn’t discount the achievements of individual white people, nor does it suggest that every single white person has what we might consider to be a ‘privileged’ life. It simply acknowledges the idea that, even in 2020, one of the biggest ways somebody can be advantaged or disadvantaged, is the colour of their skin.”

It’s never too early to teach children about their own white privilege, he says. “When we talk to young people about the ways in which they are ‘lucky’, we are discussing the advantages they might have over others in life. By getting our children to think about how others might benefit, or be held back, by the conditions of their birth, we will help them develop vital critical thinking and empathy skills.”

talk to kids about racism

Make it a safe space

Don’t just talk, make sure you listen too. “The white kids in my research had a lot of questions about race that they told me they didn’t think they could ask their parents,” says Hagerman. “Understanding what kids already know, and what conflicting messages they are trying to negotiate, is really important.”

Higgin agrees it’s important to establish a safe space: “Make sure you don’t judge anything they say or tell them they are wrong. Ask them what they know about the Black Lives Matter protests. Ask reflective, open ended questions about their feelings.”

talk to kids about racism

Develop their critical thinking

Higgin says it’s really important not to simply give children the answers. “It’s more effective to help them develop the critical thinking skills through questioning, which will allow them to better understand and evaluate the material they are presented with online and the ideas they might hear on the playground.”

Next, they need to feel empowered to act if they feel there’s a need to challenge other people’s actions. “Simply being a strong anti-racist role model within your family can be the most effective way,” he says. “By making clear your stance on discrimination at every opportunity, you will be teaching your children that racism is unacceptable and to always stand up to injustice.”

talk to kids about racism

Consider the impact of your own decisions

“White parents need to reconsider what it means to be a ‘good parent’ (i.e. getting as much as I can for my own kid) and think more about how to be a ‘good citizen’ (i.e. how can my actions contribute to the common good?)” says Hagerman.

She says to think about how you’ve designed your child’s social environment, the cues they’ll pick up from it and the wider impact that might have.

“White kids in my research learned about race as a result of interpreting patterns they observe, related to where they live [for example, moving to a very ‘white’ area], where they go to school, the media they consume, their peers, and even where they travel.”

And while it’s natural as a parent to ‘want the best’ for your child, ask if any parenting decisions you make inadvertently disadvantage others. Hagerman says during her research in the US, she found white parents often act in collective ways to maintain practices and policies within institutions that benefit their own children and, in turn, disadvantage children of colour – sociologists call this ‘opportunity hoarding’.

This, she says, “reinforces their child’s position at the top of the racial hierarchy and teaches their children lessons about what it means to navigate the world as a white person.”

George Floyd’s death feels like it could be a pivotal moment in history, and Hargerman says this moment is “an invitation to white parents not only to talk to their kids about racism, but to think about how they can act in different ways so that what they say they value, aligns with how they actually live their everyday lives.”

Explore these Crowd-Free Beauty Spots in the UK and Ireland

uk travel spots

Domestic travel is set to be busier than ever this summer. Escape the bustle by avoiding the obvious destinations, says Sarah Marshall.

How often do we dismiss the easy option? Regarded as being ‘too close to home’, domestic holidays are frequently overlooked in favour of more exotic escapes; shelved for a later date, because we can go any time.

But lockdown has taught us even local travel has value, promising just as many pleasures as other parts of the world.

As restrictions ease, hotels and attractions are preparing to open in the UK and Ireland, and it’s likely many holiday-hungry travellers will hit the road. But there are fears a rush of numbers could ruin the experience, with concerns of overcrowded beaches and overrun national parks.

Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives to the obvious honeypots. For those prepared to search a little harder, these are some of the quieter, more remote locations to explore on our shores.

uk travel spots

Northumberland National Park, England

The title of least-visited National Park in the UK, is an accolade to be proud of in these crowd-dodging times. Even better, with only 2,000 residents, the 405-square-mile Northumberland National Park is the least-populated protected beauty spot, too. Sat below the Scottish Borders, it’s spliced by Hadrian’s Wall, and neighbours Kielder Water & Forest Park, a Gold Tier Dark Sky Park, where stars sparkle like gems. A sprawl of woodlands, streams and a rocky gorge, College Valley is one of the most remote areas to explore. Sleep in 14th century surroundings at Langley Castle (langleycastle.co.uk; 01434 688 888) where doubles start from £94 per night.

uk travel spots

Hayling Island, Hampshire, England

Even though it’s only a short hop across a bridge to this island offshore from Portsmouth, life slowly unfurls in its own holiday bubble. A popular seaside resort in the 1930s, it still has several holiday parks. A funfair and golf course provide man-made entertainment, although farmland and nature trails occupy most of the secluded spot. Highlights year-round are the Blue Flag beaches and breezy Solent water, ideal for sailing and windsurfing. A three-night caravan stay (sleeps six) at Parkdean Resorts Holiday Park (parkdeanresorts.co.uk; 0330 123 4850) costs from £199.

uk travel spots

Ceredigion, Wales

Imagine having the idyllic beaches and captivating wildlife of Pembrokeshire all to yourself? It’s possible in neighbouring Ceredigion, which shares the same superb scenery. With no motorways and few rail links, it’s harder to reach, but the journey along winding countryside roads is an adventure in itself – and well worth driving once Wales is more accessible to visitors. Walk the Ceredigion Coast Path, looking out for resident dolphins in the waves below, or explore the sandy beach at National Trust-owned Penbryn. Close to rural coastal village Llangrannog, Great Tree House is a six-person holiday cottage specially adapted for those with disabilities and limited mobility. Book it for a multi-generational break. Quality Cottages (qualitycottages.co.uk; 01348 837 871) offers seven nights in August from £1,706 per week.

uk travel spots

West Highlands, Scotland

A tumble of rugged mountains and glassy lochs largely unfettered by human habitation, the Scottish Highlands is the UK’s wild corner. Popular spots Ben Nevis and Glencoe will inevitably attract crowds once restrictions start to lift, but retreat to Assynt and Coigach in the West Highlands and there’s no-one around. Waves crash against sea stacks and golden sands along the coast; inland, the remote mountain Suilven rewards climbers with astounding views if they make an ascent. Wilderness Scotland (01479 420 020; wildernessscotland.com) offers the six-night Wilds of Assynt tour from £1,625pp (two sharing), starting and finishing in Inverness. Departs August 1 or September 26, 2020.

uk travel spots

Wicklow Way, Ireland

Most tourists are tempted by Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, but a quieter and no less pleasing option would be a hike along one of the Republic’s greatest walking trails, the Wicklow Way. Dublin day-trippers often head to sections straying from the city, but venture a bit further and any sign of human footprints disappear. Explore the ruined monastic city of Glendalough, or marvel at the dark waters of Lough Tay, dubbed the Guinness Lake. Wilderness Ireland (wildernessireland.com; +353 (0)91 457 898) offers a six-night Hiking The Wicklow Way tour from E1,870pp (two sharing).

uk travel spots

Durham Heritage Coast, England

When it comes to sunny summer breaks, crowds tend to head south, but with temperatures across the UK rising this year, it would be a mistake to leave other areas in the shade. Although often associated with its industrial past, the northeast has a wild, unspoilt coastline of towering cliffs and dunes. Ramble along the Durham Heritage Coast, looking skyward for kittiwakes and cormorants, and gaze out to sea for a chance to spot bottlenose dolphins and minke whales. Set in the village of Murton, OYO The Village Inn (oyorooms.com) is offering doubles from £30 per night in July (originally £54).

uk travel spots

Rutland, England

Best known for its Birdfair in August, England’s smallest county has all the elements of a quintessential countryside break: picturesque trails, quaint pubs and historical attractions. Rockingham Castle is a fine example of Norman architecture, while Rutland Water and Rutland Water Nature Reserve offer options for water sports and wildlife viewing in the otherwise land-locked region. Visit the fairy-tale Normanton Church, which appears to float on water when the reservoir is full. The Wisteria Hotel (wisteriahotel.co.uk; 01572 722 844) in Oakham, which completed a £150K refurbishment just before lockdown, has rooms from £65 per night.

5 Ways to Work Summer’s Sorbet Shades into your Scheme

These sugary shades are made for quick decor updates, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

Keen to give your home a summer refresh? An easy – and soul-soothing – route to bright and breezy decor updates are pretty pastels and sorbet shades.

Not only do they add a sweet touch to a space, but they channel good vibes and a carefree spirit that remind us of childhood – but in a chic, contemporary, grown-up way.

It’s easy to pass pastels off as cutesy but there’s a universal charm to these ice cream colours, which can be super sophisticated when used stylishly – and sometimes it only calls for a lick of paint to make the right first impression.

1. Paint your way to an ice cream palette

“Summer is infused in pastel and sorbet shades because they hold memories of sweet-scented flowers, the taste of ice cream, bird song, laughter and the lapping of waves on a sandy shore,” says Marianne Shillingford, creative director of Dulux. “They’re colours that gift a room with these attributes every day, even when its raining, so if you have space in which you need to feel happy and uplifted, try a lick of Peppermint Candy, Pistachio Creme, Berry Whip and Citrus Sorbet.”

For these summer shades (that look good enough to eat) and more inspiration, visit Dulux.co.uk to find your nearest store.

If you’re not sure where to start, Shillingford suggests using pastel shades in rooms where there’s enough light to enjoy them during the day, as they’re harder to appreciate at night under artificial light, and to team them with pure white on the woodwork.

Dulux Copper Blush Matt Emulsion; Tranquil Dawn Silk Emulsion and Citrus Zing (coming soon), £16 each for 2.5L, Wickes

“Adding a delicate colour to the ceiling is one of the best-kept secrets in decorating, and pastels add just enough colour to make a huge difference, but not too much that it overwhelms the space.

“Blues and greens will make a room appear bigger, whilst yellow and pinks will add a touch of warm sunshine and make a room appear more intimate. Try bringing the colour down onto the walls by about 20-30cm and see how amazing it looks too,” says Shillingford.

When it comes to mastering the mix, think fun and fresh, and just enough colour to add a hint without dominating everything you already have in the room.

The other great thing about ice cream shades is they’re versatile enough to be used in a sophisticated way. After all, who doesn’t adore a champagne sorbet?

“If you add a little grey to a pastel it becomes very swank indeed, so consider shades like Pink Parchment, Milled Flour, Borrowed Blue or Beach Grass. Once you’ve chosen your favourite, paint the walls, ceiling and woodwork in the same colour,” suggests Shillingford.

2. Step into the look with pastel rugs

“Colour blocking with pastels never goes out of fashion. Just the whole combination of pastel pink, mint green and baby blue works so well, especially teamed with grey and neutral tones,” says Daniel Prendergast, design director and founder at The Rug Seller. “A more ‘graphic’ style works well with the sugary tones to give the design an edge.

“There’s something very ‘fresh’ about pastel shades, especially mint green. Designers at Accessorize Home have teamed their signature style with pretty pastels within its range of rugs – combining powder pink, mint green and baby blue for a look that’s contemporary with a nod to bohemian style.”

Light Mellow Rug by Accessorize, from £125, The Rug Seller (therugseller.co.uk)

“Soft textures work so well in pastel colours too,” Prendergast adds. “Shaggy rugs and faux fur rugs look great in pink, mauve, blue and mint – they make you just want to snuggle into them!”

Anja Faux Fur Helsinki Rug in Teal Blue – 60x90cm, £29.99, The Rug Seller (therugseller.co.uk)

3. Brighten your outlook with sorbet shutters

When it comes to creating a calm and idyllic work space at home – after all, we all need a bit of extra inspiration right now – window dressings can make all the difference to your wellbeing and outlook.

“Sorbet-coloured shutters make a great alternative to a feature wall in a home office. Colours such as soft blue, orange and pink are ideal for boosting creativity and making an office a welcoming environment to work in,” says Chrissie Harper, customer experience manager at California Shutters. “Use a matching paint colour on the surrounding walls or add a statement wallpaper to make a real impact.”

Shutters from £168 per square metre, California Shutters (californiashutters.co.uk)

However, Harper says it’s important to carefully consider which colours to choose for your shutters as, unlike walls or decorative accessories, you’ll likely be keeping them in situ for a longer period of time. And if you have a clear vision of how you want your room to look, choosing a pastel shade could really lift your scheme.

4. Shine a light on the look with lampshades

Well-chosen lighting can really make a space – and a pop of pastel can be especially effective. Picking a sorbet lampshade will illuminate a scheme and add warmth even when it’s not switched on – think of it as the A-list lollipop of lighting.

Hadfield Floor Lamp with Lime Green shade, £495, Christopher Wray (christopherwray.com)

5. Serve a subtle shade at the table

It doesn’t take much to refresh tired garden furniture, like breathing new life into a dining set with a splash of paint. M&L Paints Alitex Collection offers 15 colours inspired by greenhouses. Suitable for exterior use, they can transform practically anything from urns to gnomes. We love their subtle Wood Sage 137, which perfectly complements sprays of wild flowers and bulbs.

Wood Sage 137 from the Alitex Collection, from £5 to £100 depending on size and finish, M&L Paints (alitex.co.uk).

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