Kitchen kit: 11 ways to serve up some sunshine

Channel those summer vibes with some stylish new kitchen and dining additions, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

With summer in full swing, chances are a helping hand in the kitchen would be a welcome addition – namely a new piece of kitchen kit.

Whether it’s cool chinaware, cookware, or a funky accessory to jazz up a shelf or entertaining space, these best buys will bring the sunny vibes…

1. Brabantia Dish Brush with Suction Cap Holder – Jade Green, £9.50; Sink Organiser – Jade Green, £14.95; Food Waste Caddy – Jade Green, £22.95, and Compact Dish Drying Rack – Dark Grey, £39.95, Brabantia

Want to avoid kitchen sink dramas? Investing in some slick sinkware just makes sense – especially when it’s stylishly cool and clinical like this super range.

2. ProCook Melamine Leaf Design Dinner Set, 12 Piece – 4 settings, £29.99, ProCook

With its botanical leaf design and soothing sage and mint colourway, this trendy tableware is made for easy veggie recipes and lazy salad days.

3. Cuisinart Iced Dessert Maker, £140, Cuisinart

Fun for all the family, think delicious home-made ice cream just the way you like it – lower sugar, vegan, dairy-free? – with this chic iced dessert maker, not to mention sensational sorbet and frozen yoghurt. It comes with a frozen fruit paddle to blend those chilled summer smoothies too.

4. Livarno Home Party Table with Ice Bucket, £49.99, Lidl stores

Chances are you’ll be ferrying lots of stuff outdoors to make the most of the heatwave – and what could be better than an ice bucket that doubles as a table? Lightweight and sturdy, this’ll keep those beers and soft drinks icy cold, whether you’re entertaining guests or chilling out solo.

5. Audley Storage Jars – glass and bamboo – from £12- £30 (other items from a selection), Garden Trading

Clear glass storage jars are a godsend for kitchen storage. No need for fumbling around looking for the rice or pasta, or not realising when stocks are running low – and this bamboo-lid range comes in various shapes and sizes.

6. Herb Keeper – Set of 3, £32 (was £36), A Place For Everything

With the promise of prolonging the life of fresh herbs for up to three weeks, wave goodbye to wilted leaves with this perky pod.

7. ProCook Cast Iron Square Griddle – 24cm, Graduated Red, £44, ProCook

This racy red pan is suitable for indoor and outdoor use, on all hobs, and oven-safe to 260C, plus its long handle is ideal for when you’re flaming, tossing and turning. Geared towards global cuisine and myriad recipes, it’s made from cast iron with enamel coating inside and out, so easy to clean to boot.

8. Set of 4 Ferocious Tiger Dinner Plates, £30, Joe Browns

When you want to pimp up your Peking duck or put the bite into a red curry, these roar-some dinner plates work just as well with a takeaway as a homemade salad. Eye-catching and timeless.

9. LOVELLO KitchenCraft Retro 5-Piece Stainless Steel Knife Set and Knife Block – Midnight Black, £54.80, Amazon

Marrying function with flair – and a real space-saver in compact kitchens – this retro knife block boasts six slick stainless steel knives to slice, chop and sharpen your cutting skills.

10. Sophie Allport Cocktails Adult Apron, £24; Cocktails Tea Towel – Set of 2, £19.50; Cocktails Double Oven Glove, £24, and Cocktails Mug, from £13.50, Sophie Allport

As the old adage goes, it’s happy hour somewhere. And for a little pick-me-up before plating up teatime sarnies or stirring summer mocktails and cocktails, this cute range, with its pretty pastel hues, is right on cue.

11. Personalised Wooden Family Cheeseboard, £26, Sunday’s Daughter

How to add even more cheer to a cheese and wine night or garden party? With a personalised cheeseboard, of course. This one’s made from bamboo, with a choice of circle or platter design – it’d make a fab gift too.

7 of the best cars for camping trips

Looking for a camping adventure this year? These are the best cars for the job, says Ted Welford.

Camping has really grown in popularity in recent years, as many appreciate just how fantastic it is to spend time in the great outdoors.

But whether you’re looking for a nearby staycation or feeling more adventurous, you’ll want to have the right car for the job, with space for all that kit.

We’ve rounded up some of the best cars for camping right now…

1. Skoda Octavia Estate

Skoda’s range is well-suited to families and those that enjoy outdoor pursuits, and one of its best cars in this respect is the Octavia Estate. Though it’s not actually the firm’s largest car (that title goes to the Superb), this Skoda’s mix of space, value and comfort is unmatched in this class.

Offering a huge 640-litre boot with the rear seats upright, or 1,700 litres once folded, there is acres of space for tents and all the camping gear to go with it. Combined with a comfortable ride, classy design and generous equipment levels, there’s much to like about the Octavia.

2. Dacia Jogger

If you like camping because of the relative affordability it offers, there’s a good chance you’ll like Dacia’s cars for the same reason. This Renault-owned brand prides itself on value for money, and this has been shown no better than with the new Dacia Jogger.

It’s the first time a seven-seater has been sold by the firm in the UK, and it brings vast amounts of interior space combined with a starting price of just £13,995 – that’s a few thousand pounds less than an entry-level Ford Fiesta or Vauxhall Corsa.

3. Hyundai Ioniq 5

Camping can often be seen as an eco-friendly holiday choice, and if you like this environmental aspect, it’s well worth considering an EV. One of the best choices is the Hyundai Ioniq 5 – a bold, futuristic-looking hatchback that impresses with its supreme technology and vast interior space, which is ideal for camping.

It’s also available with a pretty nifty feature for camping known as Vehicle-to-Load (V2L), which lets you use the Ioniq’s battery to charge other electrical equipment, which could be ideal if you’re camping off the beaten track.

4. Land Rover Defender

If you like wild camping, or pitching up somewhere a bit more remote, you’ll likely get on well with Land Rover’s new Defender. Designed and built to tackle particularly adventurous terrain, it offers broad appeal to adventure lovers.

At the same time, the Defender’s high-quality yet easy-to-clean interior is ideal for camping, while its on-road manners are particularly impressive. Combined with vast levels of space (especially for the longer 110 model), it could be a camper’s dream car, though it does come at a price.

5. Suzuki Ignis

Just because you’re going camping, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need loads of space – especially if there are only two of you. In which case, something smaller might do the job, including Suzuki’s Ignis. This funky-looking hatchback measures just 3.7 metres yet is very well packaged, meaning there’s more room inside than you might expect.

Standard equipment levels are generous, while its mild-hybrid engines are remarkably efficient, managing more than 60mpg. Despite its small size, you can even choose it with all-wheel-drive for extra capability.

6. Citroen e-Berlingo

When it comes to practicality, it’s pretty hard to beat a van-based MPV, and for years Citroen has been showing how it’s done with its Berlingo. Available in two sizes – Medium or XL – the latter is available with seven seats, or a huge boot with the rearmost set of seats folded. With vast amounts of storage space, it makes for a terrific camping car.

Though it always used to be popular with diesel engines, Citroen has recently discontinued other versions of the Berlingo, leaving only an electric version to choose from now. Offering a range of around 170 miles, it can be rapidly charged to 80 per cent capacity in just 30 minutes.

7. Volvo V60 Cross Country

Volvo’s estate cars are legendary for their practicality, and even though this premium firm might emphasise its SUVs these days, models like the V60 – which rivals the likes of the BMW 3 Series Touring – are still superb options.

Bringing impressive levels of comfort, cool styling and a well-built interior, the V60 also offers a big boot for all your camping here. It’s particularly appealing in rugged Cross Country form, where it gets raised suspension, all-wheel-drive and enhanced off-road capability.

Tips and tasks for greenhouse growing in the height of summer

Expert Matthew Biggs offers advice on how to keep your glasshouse plants in tip top shape.

If you have a greenhouse, the likelihood is it will be pretty warm in there over the summer, particularly with the extreme temperatures we’ve been having.

So, how do you stop your plants wilting, make sure your fruit and veg are thriving and halt greenhouse pests in their tracks during the hot summer months?

TV garden expert Matthew Biggs, gardening writer for historic glasshouse manufacturer Hartley Botanic (, offers the following advice:

1. Keep it ventilated

“When temperatures run high, watering and ventilation are top of the list. Open greenhouse vents early in the morning, as temperatures will soon rise (you should also have some form of shading in place by now), water preferably in the evening or early morning and check plants several times a day to ensure that they don’t dry out.”

2. Be waterwise

“Consider using ‘grey’ water from the shower, bath, kitchen or from washing machine rinse cycles on ornamental plants in the greenhouse,” he suggests. Keep detergent levels like shower gel to a minimum and don’t store grey water for longer than 24 hours. Softened tap and dishwasher water are useful, but only as a very temporary measure and water containing bleach and disinfectants are a ‘no no’, of course.

“It is at times like these when past efforts you put into collecting rainwater really pay off so don’t waste it. Water at the base of the plant around the roots, not over the leaves, learn to estimate how much each pot needs and store your watering cans under the greenhouse bench to catch any drips draining through. When you carry the can from tap to greenhouse you are more careful with the water you use.

“Keep your greenhouse pots and borders weed free, so the plants, not weeds, use the water and when the rains arrive again, flush out the compost with fresh, unadulterated rainwater.”

3. Keep your cool over edibles

Keep twining cucumber stems round their supports and cut back the side shoots two leaves beyond the flowers and fruits, to increase airflow and reduce chances of mildew – keeping foliage dry, the plants well-watered and mulching also reduces the risk of mildew.

“It is well worth growing resistant varieties like ‘Carmen’, ‘Passandra’ and ‘Bella’. Harvest cucumbers when fruits are about 30cm long and water with high potash fertiliser to encourage further fruiting.

“Feed fruiting crops like sweet peppers and chillies according to the manufacturer’s instructions, continue removing side shoots from tomatoes, tap the open flowers to encourage pollination and tie the stems to canes or supporting string as they grow. Keep the compost moist as erratic watering causes splitting and ‘blossom end rot’.”

4. Keep control of pests

“Check regularly for signs of pests, like whitefly and red spider (or ‘two spotted’) mite. Before introducing biological controls use environmentally friendly sprays containing fatty acids, plant invigorators, plant extracts or plant oils as others leaving chemical residues will kill them.

“Whitefly can then be controlled using Encarsia formosa, red spider mite by increasing humidity around the plant or introducing predators like the mite Phytoseiulus persimilis.

“To maintain hygiene, keep the greenhouse free from damaged or diseased material and sweep the paths as plant debris can harbour pests and diseases, it looks more professional, too and when you have finished all of this, sit out in the garden and enjoy the sunshine.”

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