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).

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.

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.

10 Fun Craft Projects you Can do With the Kids

Hobbycraft's children's craft ideas

Give in and get creative. Claire Spreadbury rounds up her top picks for families.

When the stress of homeschooling starts to heighten, crack out the craft – easy, fun projects are great for encouraging kids to be creative, and can be relaxing too.

Get involved if you can, as focusing on just one thing can be wonderfully mindful, while your children will love spending quality time together. And if the mess stresses you out, choose an option you can do outside on a warm day – it’s the perfect antidote to feeling cooped up and crazy.

“When it comes to kids crafting, I would say the messier and the more creative, the better,” says Holly Harper, head of inspiration at notonthehighstreet. “One of the qualities I admire most in my nieces and nephews is their boundless imagination, and I tend to find the more freedom they have to do what they want, the more they enjoy the activity and the longer it keeps them occupied.”

Hobbycraft’s Ideas Hub is full of fun and simple projects. Katherine Paterson, their customer director, agrees getting crafty and creative is a great way to keep the kids entertained. “We’ve also launched an online Daily Kid’s Craft Club, with a different theme posted at 11am Monday-Friday on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

“The craft club is focused on a theme, rather than a specific project, so more children can get involved using whatever materials they have at home. We’re seeing some really fantastic creations.”

Need some ideas? Try some of these crafty creations for yourself…

Hobbycraft's children's craft ideas

1. A rocket made from recycling

Let little ones raid the paper and plastic recycling and build rockets which can be painted in brilliant colours. You can even make one into a rucksack by adding string or ribbon for straps.

Hobbycraft's children's craft ideas

2. Decorated stones

Painted pebbles are a must – they’re super easy and gorgeously pretty. Get the kids in the garden, or searching for stones on your daily walk. From ladybird pet rocks to crazy aliens, there are endless designs to be created. You can paint NHS rainbows and hide them in the woods for other children to find and re-hide, or get really arty by painting on beautifully intricate patterns.

Hobbycraft's children's craft ideas

3. Immerse yourself in nature

Experiment with items found in your very own garden. Create a leaf rubbing, pine cone spider or a twiggy wind chime. Or collect up leaves, stones, sticks, flowers and grass, and create a nature picture or art installation (look up work by Andy Goldsworthy for inspiration).

4. Create crafty cookies

Bake biscuits and let the kids go to town on the decoration. Use sweets, chocolate, mini marshmallows, icing, sprinkles and popcorn, or buy a Children’s Monster Bake And Craft Kit, £23, from notonthehighstreet.

Hobbycraft's children's craft ideas

5. Make a scrapbook

Now is the perfect time to start scrapbooking. Buy a book and let the kids stick stuff on the pages, write about their day, draw pictures and create collages. It will be a work of art and a memory to look back on once life returns to normal.

6. Master brilliant bunting

Everyone loves a bit of bunting – it’s so cheering, and easy and cheap to create. You can either use scraps of fabric (try upcycling old, unwanted clothes) and sew triangular shapes of colourful bunting, which can then be stitched on to a fabric string or ribbon. Or you can cut out paper or card triangles, punch holes in them, decorate with paint or pen, and string them up. It’s bound to brighten up the place.

Hobbycraft's children's craft ideas

7. Paint like Pollock

Splash out on a lovely big canvas (Hobbycraft have a huge range from £6-£18) and make a family splatter painting inspired by Jackson Pollock. Choose your paint colours, get brushes of all sizes at the ready and take it in turns to splatter the paint over the canvas. Keep going, one-by-one, until you’re happy with the finished result.

8. Transform into a robot

Had anything been delivered to you in a large box recently? Let the kids make a robot outfit out of it by sticking bits together, cutting holes for the head, arms and legs, and decorating it however they fancy.

Hobbycraft's children's craft ideas

9. Let someone know you’re thinking of them

Make cards or postcards to send to friends and loved ones your kids are missing. The fronts can feature hand-drawn pictures or decorations galore, while inside or on the back, children and parents can write messages of love. Tell someone you miss them and why, say something that will make them happy, then send them through the post for a delivery of joy. If you fancy a kit to get you started, you can buy a Kids Colour In Postcard Portraits Pack for £6.50, from notonthehighstreet.

10. Build a den

Who needs an actual tent when you can build a den? Gather sheets, tarpaulin, card, newspapers, mats, twigs, cushions – anything that might be useful for taking cover beneath – and go to town building the biggest and best den you’ve ever attempted. Make signs for the ‘door’, and thread leaves on to sticks to prettify the area, then sneak tea and biscuits inside.

How to Dry Home-Grown Blooms

home grown dried flowers

Make everlasting mementoes and gifts by growing and drying your own flowers, with help from expert floral artist Bex Partridge.

Gardeners may be looking for new ways to make the most of their fruit and flowers this year – and dried flowers are once again catching on. Head-dresses, gift cards, wreaths and framed indoor displays can all be made using dried flowers you’ve grown yourself.

Floral artist Bex Partridge, author of a new book, Everlastings, explains: “Most of us have probably done this at some point and felt the joy of discovering a forgotten pressed bloom as it flutters from the pages of a book.

“While I usually press smaller flowers and leaves, I’ve recently enjoyed drying bigger branches and ferns. The results can be quite stunning and, when included in arrangements, add structural charm.”

home grown dried flowers

What are the best flowers for drying?

“As a general rule, the best plant material to dry tends to have slightly woodier stems that are less juicy in feel – think delphiniums rather than dandelions,” advises Partridge.

The best include Alchemilla mollis (lady’s mantle), astrantia, foxgloves, delphiniums, meadowsweet, honesty, globe thistles, sunflowers, nigella, hydrangea, allium, poppies, scabious and statice, although there are many more, she says.

“Start with perfect specimens, making sure the petal edges are nibble-free. It’s important to press them as soon as you pick them too, otherwise the petals will begin to droop and that will negatively affect the end results.”

Avoid big, blousy blooms

“Most flowers respond well to pressing, with the exception of big, blousy blooms that are too full of moisture or have too many layers to dry out properly, although individual petals can be separated and dried,” says Partridge.

“Daisies, nigella, bluebells and poppies will bring you stunning results. Think about the form of the flowers when pressing – you can press the heads alone or the whole stem and leaves for a striking display.”

home grown dried flowers

What about air drying?

This is the simplest way to dry flowers en masse. Begin by stripping all unwanted foliage from the stalks, leaving some of the top foliage surrounding the flower as it adds extra texture and gives a more natural appearance to arrangements.

Gathering a handful of stems together, wind a length of string or twine around them a number of times, securing it with a tight knot at the end, and leaving enough string to form a loop to hang them with. The stems themselves will shrink as they dry, so make sure you’ve tied the bunches tightly enough to keep them together, but not so tight the stems get crushed.

Ideally, bunch flowers of the same variety together for ease when you use them, or store them in boxes and try to ensure the flower heads aren’t sitting too close together to allow for good air circulation.

Air dry bigger blooms upright

Bigger headed blooms dry better facing upwards, as it results in a more open appearance and, if they have particularly heavy heads, ensures they don’t droop. Partridge uses a reclaimed riddle (flat sieve) for this.

“Stripping the stems of all foliage, I slot each stem individually through the small holes until the head of the flower rests on the mesh. I attach a hook in the centre of the riddle or an upside down wooden crate, and hang it in my drying cupboard.

“If you don’t have a riddle, you can use some fine metal mesh or chicken wire secured to a frame – or a cardboard box with holes punched through would do.”

home grown dried flowers

When air drying…

Always try to dry your materials in a dark place, as light bleaches colour out of flowers. The space you use should be normal room temperature and completely free of moisture in the air. Ideal spots are airing cupboards, cupboards under the stairs, or a dry, shady shed.

You can buy hooks and herb hangers to hang from the ceiling.

How long will it take?

Most things will have dried within three to five weeks, and can either be left hanging where they are or transferred to storage boxes lined with newspaper or tissue paper.

Avoid placing too many bunches on top of each other, to prevent crushing delicate buds and flower heads, then store them in a dark, dry space until you need them. Materials can last many years stored this way.

home grown dried flowers

What if you’re short of time?

“Possibly the easiest method is dry evaporation,” says Partridge. “The beauty of it is, you can enjoy the flowers while they dry, and if it doesn’t work as you’d hoped, you can just compost them.”

After stripping the flowers of any unwanted foliage, and definitely anything that sits below the waterline, put the flowers in a vase and add approximately two inches of water. Ensure the ends of the stalks sit in the water.

Then wait – it can take a few weeks for the flowers to dry completely. There is no need to top up the water. This method works particularly well with hydrangeas, which can be fickle when dried in other ways. Gypsophila, spray roses and mimosa respond well too.

If you’re using a flower press…

Cut off unwanted foliage and use flowers in their prime. If necessary, dry the petals and leaves with kitchen paper or a tea towel to ensure they’re totally dry before pressing them. Store in flat large envelopes or cardboard boxes, with the pressed flowers separated with tissue paper.

And if you don’t have a flower press…

A big book works just as well – as long as you don’t mind a few marks on the pages.

Everlastings by Bex Partridge is published by Hardie Grant, priced £14.99. Available now.

12 Ways to Feature Florals at Home

Floral home decor

Florals never go out of fashion and this season they're in full bloom. Gabrielle Fagan reveals her top petal power picks.

If you’ve been missing your outdoor floral fix, there are plenty of ways to ‘grow’ your own dazzling display of blooms at home.

You can take your pick from wallpapers, fabrics, crockery, and a host of other home accessories all with blooming beautiful floral designs, which are bursting forth this season.

No green fingers required – just pick from our bouquet of 12 fantastic floral fixes to take home this season…

Floral home decor

1. Go wild on walls

“We’re noticing a greater demand for floral murals,” says Rachel Kenny, studio manager for specialists in murals and wallpaper, Wallsauce.

“At this time when we’re restricted in travelling, it seems people are really missing visiting beautiful gardens, going to the famous flower shows, and are just longing to bring the beauty of nature and all its blooms into the home.”

And, she points out, a wonderful floral display is an eye-catching and soothing backdrop for those video meetings. Wallsauce’s Delicate Floral Meadow wallpaper, from £29 per square metre, features individual blooms on a pure white background.

Floral home decor

2. Make a floral statement

Just one chair is all it took! Make an impact with a single furniture piece upholstered in a bold floral print. Leave the space around your statement piece uncluttered, so you really allow it to star. For added impact, pick up on one colour in the design for a selection of accessories, such as a cushion, vase or rug, elsewhere in the room.

“Florals and botanical prints are such a popular choice for spring and summer and striking designs can really add a wow factor to a room,” says John Darling, founder of Darlings of Chelsea. “This chair suits any room, from a traditional conservatory to a contemporary living room, and is a classic which will never date.”

Floral home decor

3. Plant up a home office

In a home office or workspace, you need a design that will boost energy and creativity, while also giving you a lovely view.

“Working from home is becoming the new norm and a bold floral design for a window blind can perfectly disguise a poor view, as well as transforming an unremarkable corner into a personal space full of character,” enthuses Michael Ayerst, managing director at Surface View, who can recreate images on wall murals, canvasses, blinds and ceramic tiles.

“Florals have definitely made a big return to interiors,” he adds. “Our collection of historic botanical drawings, tropical palm paintings and colourful horticultural illustrations from across the centuries are proving particularly popular.”

Floral home decor

4. Spread a little sunshine

Think outside of the vase. A perfectly placed petal – or more – on a print or quirky accessory will refresh the look of a room and really show flower power is growing on you.

Floral home decor

5. Take to the floor

“If you’re looking to incorporate colourful statement flowers, one of the easiest and most affordable ways to do it is by featuring a bright, bold rug,” says Jemma Dayman, buyer at Carpetright.

“The variety of hues in a floral rug will allow for an eclectic selection of furniture and accessories to be used throughout the room, bringing further pops of colour and creating a cohesive and stylish scheme.”

Floral home decor

6. Play with flower power

Treat a sofa like a window-box – replacing tired old plants with new ones would give it an instant update, and new cushions in a pretty floral print could have the same effect.

“Times of uncertainty make us want to reconnect with nature, give us an appreciation of what matters, and mean we look to our surroundings to comfort us,” says Georgia Metcalfe, founder and creative director, The French Bedroom Company.

“Florals are great for bringing the outside in, whether it’s a floral fresco wallpaper design, patterned bed linen, or simple bunches of hand-picked wildflowers from a walk. Filling our rooms with floral spring tones has the effect of a visual revamp, which can’t help but lift our spirits.”

Floral home decor

7. Serve a floral feast

Interior designers know how effective ‘trompe l’oeil’ (realistic imagery which creates an optical 3D illusion) can be in rooms, and they use it to conjure stunning vistas or talking-point effects.

These are ideal used in one section of a wall, paired with a neutral background which fills the rest of the space, allowing the image to ‘pop’ without overpowering the room.

“Murals are great at adding drama and depth and can give the illusion of an impressive landscape, which is restful on the eye,” says Surface View’s Ayerst.

Floral home decor

8. Blooming table treats

There’s such a profusion of floral-inspired tableware around currently, whether you favour delicate ditsy patterns, punchier designs or something in-between.

“For those who enjoy experimenting with statement colour and bold motifs, Marimekko tableware is such a playful addition to a dining room,” says Emily Dunstan, home buyer, Heal’s.

“Vibrant flowers on the Elakoon Elama and Unikko crockery offer plenty of personality and you’ll impress guests with your distinctive, creative flair.”

Floral home decor

9. Fake it to make it

Faux blooms are such high quality now, they’re often indistinguishable from the real thing, and so it’s perhaps not surprising their popularity is soaring. They’ll never wilt or droop, provide instant cost-effective decoration and if you can’t manage to keep indoor plants alive, faux ones are a good option.

“Faux flowers can be used to inspire a romantic and atmospheric setting. Match pastels with deep berry and lavender shades and showcase fresh greenery in natural, organic vases,” advises Dunstan. “Bouquets such as hydrangeas and peonies, by Abigail Ahern, add a sense of boutique luxury, while bringing a gentle warmth and softness to a room.”

Floral home decor

10. Shine a light on petals

A lampshade which takes inspiration from faraway fields filled with profusions of wild blooms and charming country gardens, could be a small way to capture the spirit of sunny, flower-filled days.

Floral home decor

11. Blooms for the boudoir

“If you’re nervous about experimenting with colour, incorporating floral designs in the home is a subtle way to introduce it into settings,” says Bethan Harwood, home design stylist, John Lewis.

Clearly we’re all yearning for flowery details, especially in our bedrooms, as John Lewis has seen floral bed linen sales rise by 58% compared to last year.

“Focus your choice by first considering whether you want full-on florals or something less bold for curtains or bedding,” Harwood advises. “Floral wallpaper is more of a commitment but it will always add depth and character to a room and works well on one wall or as a feature on a ceiling, especially if the remaining walls are left plain.”

Top tip: generally, small, ditsy prints can make a large room feel too busy and distracting but they can really suit smaller spaces, such as a compact bathroom or dressing room, Harwood notes.

Floral home decor

12. Picture petals

One of the easiest ways to bring this trend home is with artwork. A floral print or poster can look dynamic hung on its own, or you could create a ‘living’ gallery of prints.

Pick a theme – botanical drawings, your favourite flower portrayed in different ways, or a collection of still life flower paintings – and link them by using the same colour and style of frame throughout.

Now that wasn’t Expected!

Unexpected-property-activity

The first week of Estate Agents being allowed to conduct house viewings has been a real eye opener, with the level of buyer activity much higher than anticipated which hopefully bodes well for a quick bounce back in the house market.

No doubt there will be some readers who will think, well you would say that wouldn’t you, in the hope of pepping up the market, but I can counter any such thought with some hard facts and examples, so here are a few case notes from the first week back.

New House Eversley – Under offer in three days

This fine new home by Aspire was placed on the open market on Monday 18th May at a guide £1,125,000.

By Thursday 20th May a sale was agreed to a proceedable purchaser.

Country House Eversley – Emerging Buyer Interest around £2.0m. guide

We took this property to the market a few weeks before lockdown, so viewings went on hold during the lockdown period.

Yesterday we had multiple viewings at the house and two offers have already been submitted. This home is typical of the kind of property that will be sought after in the emerging market of house buyers leaving London and other major towns and cities for rural living.

Do you have a country house for sale? We have a waiting list of buyers looking right now.

Right now the short to medium term outlook is positive and the biggest demand is for rural / semi-rural properties in all price ranges, but especially in the £1.5m. to £6.0m. sector.

So if you live in a country house and are looking to sell, this summer could be the best time to go to market. If you would like a free and confidential market appraisal contact your nearest McCarthy Holden branch.

Fleet – On £750,000 guide

With marketing help by way of a vendor inspired video tour during lockdown, this stunning detached house has gone under offer.

Blue Triangle, Fleet – Exchanged on guide £1.5m.

In just over one acre in one of the most desirable roads in Fleet, this imposing property was built by the renowned local builder Pool & Son in the 1930’s.

Fitzroy-Road-sold-fleet McCarthy Holden estate agents

As we said in last week’s market update, the prospect of house sales in the short to medium term is relatively easy to judge, because we are working with house buyers and sellers alike every day, so their motivations and the drivers of the market conditions are there for us to interpret.

House Viewing Protocols Working Well

The new way of conducting house viewings is going well, with strict social distancing protocols and excellent co-operation from vendors and purchasers alike.

Some of the social distancing protocols include the following.

• Only one viewer can be present at a time, no children will be allowed in a property (this is because avoiding the touching of surfaces is difficult with young children).
• The owner/tenant will leave property for the viewing.
• We will supply the viewer with disposable gloves and mask, subject to our supply allowing for this.
• The viewers will be allowed to walk around and asked not to touch anything.
• In order to maintain social distancing, the agent will not be able to enter every room with the viewer.
• When the viewing is completed, the agent will lock up the property and leave, then dispose of gloves and use hand sanitiser.

The House Market / Buyer Attitudes

We are impressed with the resilience of house buyers, who continue to remain upbeat about their moving plans. Furthermore, 95% of the sales arranged we had in place at the start of lockdown, continue to remain in place and in the past week many of those have moved forward to exchange and simultaneous completions..

Emerging Markets

In the last week there has been increasing signs of the biggest emerging market being driven by people wanting to leave London and other large cities or towns, to find a new home in a rural or village setting, yet remain within reasonable distance of London etc. That is a positive for the home owners we act for on the Hampshire / Surrey / Berkshire borders, especially those who live in property worth between £1.5m. and £6.0m. in our area of operation.

If you are selling a rural property, contact your nearest McCarthy Holden branch for a free and confidential property appraisal.

EMERGING MARKET PHOTO

The Weeks Ahead

Simply making hay whilst the sun shines!

 

John Holden – Chairman

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