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Life The Sunday Telegraph

P2-9 HOMES 7 pages of property and DIY every week P19 LATE KICK-OFF How one man found his passion for five-a-side


September 7 2008

Property/gardening/interiors/health/family/ food/hobbies/pets/outdoors/07.09.08 GETTY

P11-15 GARDENING Features, advice and tips from our experts

P22-23 LIFE COACH Answering your questions on family, health, fitness and pets

Fabulous seasonal recipes from around Britain P16. FOOD


Celebrate the best of British food this season P16


P10 INTERIORS How to bring cosy colour into your home






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elcome to Life – an exciting new 24-page section in your Sunday Telegraph. We’ve kept everything you enjoyed in the Home & Living section – from award-winning writing on property to expert advice on interiors and gardening. Your favourite columnists, such as Jeff Howell and Bunny Guinness, are here too. But there’s more to Life... Are you a foodie? Each week we seek out the best of British seasonal produce: first up, recipes for autumn lamb from Yorkshire. Can’t sit still? There are features on health, fitness and the great outdoors: try this week’s tips on keeping the holiday high. Finally, our panel of experts advises on everything from family to pets. Enjoy Life! Anne Cuthbertson, Editor

of people who live in Milton Keynes travel to work by car


Bunny Guinness on creditcrunch gardening; Elspeth Thompson picks her garden of the week; Alex Mitchell on growing your own blackberries; plus our step-by-step guide to taking cuttings


Three delicious recipes for autumn lamb

17-19 HEALTH


LOOKS Owning a hilltop wins respect even among overpropertied hedge fund types and oligarchs, and this one is worth the price tag. The striking 19thcentury Chateau du Pic stands high above the Gorges de l’Aveyron, looking across the roofs of the village of Najac to the ruined medieval fortress on the next hill along. CHARACTER The dining room, library and drawing room have just the right sort of ancestral fireplace. The two cottages, coach house and pigeonnier mean plenty of room for guests – paying or otherwise. And privacy is absolute as the grounds cover 10 acres (with swimming pool), shielded by trees. VITAL STATISTICS There is room for more than the seven existing bedrooms and three bathrooms (Savills, 020 7016 3740,

Offended Mancunians have been rushing to the defence of their home city after Manchester United’s Serbian defender Nemanja Vidic complained the best thing about the place is the railway timetable – so he can see when the next train is leaving. He says the city is rainy and full of anti-social inhabitants. I suspect what really bothers Vidic is the economic climate. Bad weather and binge-drinkers have long been there, yet they didn’t





Seven-bedroom chateau, £3m

CONTENTS How to woo your neighbours when you buy overseas; the Brideshead Revisited country piles now on the market; the house where Hawker Hurricanes are built in the back garden; plus what’s hot in the world of interiors for autumn, and On The Level, with Jeff Howell


DEVON Five-bedroom restoration, £3.5m LOOKS The spectacular 2006 renovation of the rundown three-storey building won a Master Builder of the Year award. The Golf House has huge terraces on all floors looking over Kingswear and Dartmouth and the flotilla of yachts that sail on it. CHARACTER It boggles the mind that this 1930s club house was once the boozy heart of the Kingswear Golf Course because it teeters right on the edge of a steep hillside above the River Dart. VITAL STATISTICS There are four reception rooms and an audio-visual system that pipes TV into the five bathrooms plus a one-acre garden (Knight Frank, 01392 423111,


Looking for your dream home? Check out the the latest houses for sale telegraph. property

ISLE OF WIGHT Small country estate, £2.95m LOOKS Kern Farm, outside Alverstone, comprises a very pretty, 16th-century, stone farmhouse with wisteria around the door, six bedrooms, four bathrooms, four reception rooms and two kitchens. CHARACTER The estate is sheltered and has views of rolling fields and the English Channel. VITAL STATISTICS The farm is being sold in three lots. The main one (£2.4m) has 247 acres. The second is a four-bedroom cottage (£375,000). Lot three is a two-bedroom cottage on an agricultural tenancy (Knight Frank, 020 7861 1653, www.; Christopher Scott, 01983 242121,



London is seen as a 24-hour traffic jam run by knife gangs bother wealthy foreigners when the property market was rampant and the pound strong. For a decade or so, Britain was the place to invest. Now that prices are slumping and the pound sinking – if you changed your euros to buy a British home last summer, the 11 per cent fall in prices since then has been effectively doubled by the adverse exchange rate – it is a different matter. Manchester is no longer “the new Barcelona” with pavement cafés on sundappled waterways, but appears as a drink-sodden city with oily canals. London is seen as a 24-hour traffic jam run by knife gangs. When property prices are rising, the merest sniff of a cappuccino or suggestion of an improved train service can convince us that a dreary and dangerous suburb is the future centre of civilisation. In a slump, the blinkers are off. Ross Clark

Caroline McGhie

Convenience for the busy commuter

Family friendly within a top school area

Peaceful retreat for free spirits

MANNINGTREE, ESSEX Four-bedroom cottage, £439,995

CHELTENHAM, GLOUCESTERSHIRE Five-bedroom terrace, £795,000

GRETNA, DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY Three-bedroom cottage, £285,000

Manningtree on the magical Stour estuary has a station with trains that whistle to London Liverpool Street in 50 minutes. This is where Essex borders Suffolk, a landscape full of towpaths, mills, bright meadows and thatched cottages, where the artist John Constable painted his famous riverside scenes. This four-bedroom, colour-washed house just outside Bradfield is for sale through Fenn Wright (01206 763388).

Pate’s Grammar School in Cheltenham (www. is a co-ed grammar with excellent results. Latest league tables show that 100 per cent of pupils get five GCSEs at grade A* to C, and A-level students emerge with a very high average point score of 1165.1. Cheltenham has fine Regency houses but prices are steep. This five-bedroom Grade II listed house in Paragon Terrace is for sale through Savills (01242 548000).

Eloping couples could hide away in this charming little sandstone and slate cottage near Gretna Green on the Scottish borders. Three-bedroom Nellsfield Cottage comes with over three acres of garden and paddocks with stabling. It has been restored so there are touches of luxury such as a roll-top bath and underfloor heating. It is for sale through Buccleuch John Sale (01721 722787) and has consent for a substantial extension.

How to keep that holiday high. Plus five-a-side footy


How to write a memoir. Plus Oliver Pritchett’s column


Advice from our panel

24 FIVE OF THE BEST Retro bicycles

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ONLINE for more stunning interiors and furnishing advice


Aga The bountiful Lady Walpole installed the Aga in 1955 to prevent the last rector’s wife from freezing to death.

very hospitable and had a big dresser. My ambition was to make china that would look good on it.

Teapot My hearts & flowers design shows my vintage. I remember the late 1960s with enormous pleasure.

GET THE LOOK Dressers Pine Finders (01844 291231, Rustic tables Indigo Furniture (01629 581800, www.indigo Vintage kitchenware The Lacquer Chest (0207 9371306,

Pine dresser Mum was

Wooden table

Matthew designed this ash table and had it made locally. We scrub it with salt to keep it pale.


We bought this rectory in North Norfolk nine years ago. It was utterly lovely but run-down – sheep used to peer in through the windows. We knocked the dining room and kitchen together because Matthew, my husband, is a really good cook and would always rather do that, ideally for 40 or 50 people, than go out. He uses whatever there is in the garden. We’ve had poultry, sheep and pigs, too, so at times it’s just like The Good Life. We shoot our catalogues here, using the dresser, which my inlaws bought in the Sixties. Matthew thinks we should have our newest china on it but I’m heartbroken if I have to clear away my old favourites.

Painting Matthew and his parents all paint so we have a lot of pictures. But this one is by an old friend, Gabriel Langland.





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FACT: a quarter of people considering buying abroad do so to avoid the stress of the annual family holiday



Italy: €30,000 (£24,000). Historic palace in an unspoiled village, above, 45 minutes from Pescara airport. Ten rooms, plus a vast roof terrace. In need of restoration ( France: €330,000 (£269,000). Normandy farmhouse, top right, outside St Jean des Baisants, sleeping six, with barn sleeping 10. An hour from Caen and Cherbourg ( Spain: €150,000 (£120,000). A renovated fourbedroom stone house, right, on the dramatic northern coast (

Wooing the locals

Buying a Tuscan farmhouse is one thing. Fitting in with the neighbours is quite another. Tessa Boase tells you how


he actress Dame Helen Mirren, on acquiring a 16thcentury castle in Puglia last year, was presented with a cake by the local baker. Not just any cake: this was decorated with a scene from her Oscar-winning performance in The Queen. While the rest of us inch our way towards being accepted locally with bottles of Brunello, language tapes and rictus smiles, La Mirren appears to have been clutched to the bosom of the community without offering so much as a glass of prosecco in return. But what about those of us who don’t have an Oscar? How do we win over suspicious and insular villagers – not to mention suspicious and insular expats? Wooing the locals is rarely a part of one’s vision when poking around a glorious old farmhouse set in rolling vineyards, but it is perhaps the most important part of the project, as I have discovered in my corner of rural Lazio, where I bought a property four years ago. If you are serious about fitting in, here are some

Right move: Helen Mirren and her castle



Sitting in gloomy kitchens. The walls are beige, the sun obscured by the furry, dangling fly screen, and your local farmer is holding forth in impenetrable dialect about the best time of day to put manure around the olive trees. You sip your umpteenth thimbleful of coffee while the television in the corner blares the Italian version of Deal Or No Deal. Imagine this for two hours at a time, perhaps twice a week. But without him you won’t be able to harvest your olives and turn them into luscious oil. This is the Deal.


Drinks on the terrace. Your neighbours will be dying to see what you’re doing to the house. To scotch rumours, invite them round for a tour and aperitivo (with at least three varieties of snacks to show that their presence is an honour). Stress the modest nature of the restoration, the sacrifices you’re making to complete the work, your delight with the area and your intention to live there one day (even if untrue). Ask them to be your eyes and ears when you’re away: their nosiness is your alarm system.


Ceremonial meat eating. In Italy, it’s traditional for the builders to celebrate the roof going on with porchetta – a spit roast pig. Since this costs several hundred euros, it’s a good idea to invite everyone you’ve ever met and turn it into a house-warming party. In south-west France, friends tell me they were accepted into their Perigord community only when they donated a whole

pig to the school’s summer fête.


Rites of passage. Stage an event with a high emotional charge. Getting married locally seals your place in the community, as we discovered. Appearing pregnant on one visit, then with baby the next is another stunt which can’t be bettered in Catholic countries. (Just get your timing right. My son turned up two months “early”, which caused some puzzlement). Christenings, anniversaries and milestone birthdays are all opportunities to generate local goodwill over chilled sparkling wine.


Giving... Small gestures go a long way. Our local farmer is chuffed to get a regular box of PG Tips. Friends in Normandy gave every household in the hamlet a little bag of Easter Eggs when they moved in on Easter Sunday – a canny bit of PR. But most of all, give of your time. Get rid of your British “must be getting on” itch and allow a spontaneous drink to turn into three hours.


But not too much. Know where to draw the line. Friends in the Algarve who made strenuous efforts with their Portuguese neighbours regretted it when they took to coming around every night at 6pm for two silent hours. “The trick is not to be too cloying and not to try too hard to fit in,” says Barbara McMahon, author of The Complete Guide to Buying a House in Italy, who renovated a farmhouse in Umbria. “People forget that back home they’re not friends with all their neighbours, and neither should it have to be so in Italy, France or Spain.”






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of country houses sold for over £5m in the past 12 months went to foreign buyers

Buy your Brideshead to revisit MIRAMAX FILMS


Apethorpe Hall, Northants: Grade I Jacobean shell needs millions of pounds of work; for sale at £4.5million (Smiths Gore, 01865 733304).

The remake: Emma Thompson, centre, and Matthew Goode in the film version of Waugh’s classic novel

The lure of the stately home never fades. Caroline McGhie visits one shining example


e were at the head of a valley and below us, half a mile distant, grey and gold amid a screen of boscage, shone the dome and columns of an old house.” This was Charles Ryder’s first glimpse of Brideshead in Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel. The house mesmerised the nation in the 1980s television adaptation and stars once again in the new £10 million film version, which opens on October 3. There is nothing quite like a fivemile carriage drive with a sudden sharp turn that reveals the house across a lake. Castle Howard, that extraordinary Yorkshire pile, which was conceived in 1699 and took 100 years to complete, has played Brideshead both times. It had to be the first choice since Waugh had visited and used some of what he remembered of it – the cupola, the fountain into which Sebastian Flyte fell after wine-tasting and the North Front where the hunt gathered. Charisma? Glamour? The best country mansions have them by the roomful. Our literary and cinematic love affair with houses that are lavish beyond belief, redolent of a lost past,

haunts the national psyche and shapes the British image abroad. Demolished in the Fifties, rescued in the Seventies and Eighties, rammed with tourists in Nineties, these monuments to excess are where we raise the echo of Upstairs, Downstairs, where some of our greatest detective and love stories are set, and where we go for a day out. Never underestimate their power over the housebuyer, too. Gian Carlo Menotti fell for the Yester Estate on the Scottish borders in much the same way that Charles Ryder fell for Brideshead. The Italian composer, who wrote the opera Amahl and the Night Visitors, bought the house in 1973. For one who felt the modern world had become a “plastic paradise”, it was the ultimate romantic refuge. It soaked up his funds and occupied his dreams. He saw it as a form of madness that kept him working. “If you are going to travel on the Titanic, you might as well go First Class,” he said. He planned to turn the stables into a theatre and school, a project priced at £7.5million by the architect Quinlan Terry and championed by Prince Charles. The setting, in the mist-wrapped, pink hills of East Lothian made Menotti think of a sphinx-like, mythical beast, the manticore. “Italy is my unicorn, America my gorgon, and Scotland my manticore,” he mused. He died last year, his plan unrealised, and his son Francis is now selling at £15million. This, like Brideshead, is a grand

Harmston Hall, Lincs: Grade II*, restored, with 20,800sq ft great hall and 11 bedrooms; for sale at £4.5million (Savills, 020 7409 8885).

Bewitching: The Yester Estate in the Scottish borders was bought by Gian Carlo Menotti, the Italian composer. It is now for sale at £15m

This, like Brideshead, is a grand seducer of a house, approached through listed entrance gates flanked by lodges

seducer of a house, approached through listed entrance gates flanked by two lodges, along a drive of over half a mile. It was designed by James Smith and Alexander McGill and is listed as Grade A. Building work started in the same year as Castle Howard. The ballroom, created by Robert Adam in 1789, simply outshines everything else. Abundant natural light glints off the sculptured marble fireplace, the gilt furniture and the vast canvases by William Delacour. No wonder it is described as “one of the finest rooms in Scotland”. All the great attributes of the country house are here. Myriad public rooms are hung with chandeliers and filled with sofas, magnificent fireplaces, statues and vast oil paintings, while the 14 main bedrooms are furnished with four-posters. Outside is the ruined castle, the Goblin Hall, which Sir Walter Scott wrote of, the walled kitchen garden, potting sheds, glasshouses, the stable block, parkland, woods and a good pheasant shoot, all 21 miles from Edinburgh. Francis Menotti has fond memories of Yester. “We’ve always

considered our ownership as that of caretakers and done all we can to preserve it for future generations,” he says. “It is not a burden but an enrichment of life far from ordinary. Only a special caretaker can hear the music of this natural composition so rare in today’s crowded, harried lifestyle.” For those with a passion for our nation’s Brideshead houses but not the fortune needed to buy them, make a pledge to the National Trust, which is in the process of buying Seaton Delaval Hall in Northumberland. Like Castle Howard and Blenheim Palace, the home of the new Lord Hastings is by the master of English Baroque, Sir John Vanbrugh. Despite announcing that its portfolio of stately homes is full, the Trust has pledged £6.9 million and has launched a massive campaign to raise the other £6.3 million by Christmas. Contributions can be made online at The Yester Estate is on the market through Knight Frank (0131 222 9600, and Savills (0131 247 3720,

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Expert advice For previous columns by Jeff Howell and Q&As on all DIY matters go to





ne of the most common questions I’m asked by readers is: “How do I get hold of a good builder?” The short answer is that there is no foolproof method. Sadly, the British building industry is almost totally unregulated (the exceptions being gas and electrical work), and successive governments have fought shy of imposing a compulsory registration scheme on the domestic repair, maintenance and improvement sector. When Labour was elected to power in 1997 it had a manifesto commitment to regulate the domestic building industry. But the idea was quickly ditched in favour of a “voluntary” membership scheme. The latest version of this is TrustMark, which is nothing more than an umbrella grouping of trade associations. This was a great missed opportunity if for no other reason than that, as I have always argued,

regulation of builders would be a vote winner. It would also be welcomed by the majority of skilled, conscientious tradesmen, who resent being lumped together with the “cowboy builder” element. I actually dislike the term “cowboy builder”, because there are real builders, and then there are men who pretend to be builders. Other professions wouldn’t stand for it: you aren’t allowed to call yourself a doctor or a solicitor unless you have the credentials. The media doesn’t describe drug dealers as “cowboy pharmacists”. Describing rogue traders as cowboy “builders” leads to a general mistrust of the whole profession. The long answer to the question is that unless you know something about building and construction, you really shouldn’t be employing a builder to work for you anyway. After all, how do you know what work needs doing on your home? And how will you tell if it has been done to an acceptable standard? Anyone considering having building work carried out should first engage an architect, structural engineer or chartered building surveyor to conduct a condition survey and advise on any necessary repairs and maintenance tasks. For this work, and for any proposed improvements or extensions, the building professional should also take responsibility for finding, engaging and

supervising a contractor. So there should be no need for the homeowner to find a builder at all. A word of caution, however: although this arrangement removes the possibility of conflict between homeowner and builder, it means that a good relationship between homeowner and building professional is vital. Sometimes mistakes can be made, and misunderstandings can arise. On the recent television series I presented, Don’t Blame the Builder, all the homeowners had started off with professionals designing and supervising the work, but had then parted company with them partway through the job. It is important to realise that almost all building projects run over time and over budget – hence the huge contingency sums set aside for major projects like Wembley Stadium and the London Olympics. The advantage of engaging a professional to manage your building project is that at least he or she will have professional indemnity insurance should the lawyers get involved.



WHAT CAUSES THE GREEN PATCH ON MY HOUSE WALL? There is a damp patch on the outside of our house that has what looks like green moss growing on it. The patch is at ground level and is about 2ft wide by a foot high. That side of the house does not get much sun and the drainpipe above is clogged with leaves. What is causing this patch? Could water be dripping from the drainpipe or is it something more serious? MM, by email A: Green vegetative growth is a symptom of wetting by rainwater (plumbing leaks and groundwater contain salts that inhibit this). You should clean out your gutters and downpipes and clear the gulley that the downpipe flows into. Gulleys often get completely blocked with silt, and this can back up into the lower section of downpipe. SEND YOUR QUESTIONS TO: Jeff at Life, The Sunday Telegraph, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT or email askjeff@

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ÂŁ925,000 Nutkins Cottage is a ďŹ ve-bedroom house in Kingsclere, near Newbury, with a microlite landing strip and hangar in its three-acre garden. There are also enclosures for breeding poultry. Dreweatt Neate (, 01635 263000).


ÂŁ499,950 Farnborough Central includes 476 new and refurbished homes close to Farnborough AirďŹ eld in Hampshire. Apartments start at ÂŁ187,000, three-bedroom houses from ÂŁ275,000 through Knight Frank (www.knightfrank. com, 01483 564660).

A Hurricane in the garden Zoe Dare Hall visits the house and workshop where old fighters are restored


aul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, is a customer. So is Peter Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings, as are the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s aviation museums, from the US Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, to Londonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s RAF museum. Such is Tony Ditheridgeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s renown in the ďŹ eld of restoring aircraft that the 61-yearold has built up a global business, Hawker Restorations, all from the aircraft hangar in his back garden in Suffolk. The idea took seed 27 years ago, when Tony and his wife Janet bought Moat Farm, a 15th-century house with moat and 15 acres of land, in Milden, near Ipswich. Over the years, the couple have

furnished the three-bedroom house in suitably Tudor style, and turned a derelict barn in the garden into a ďŹ ve-bedroom annexe around a swimming pool. There are two cottages which are used for holiday lets, along with a garage where Tony keeps his vintage car collection. But foremost in Tonyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mind when he bought Moat Farm was where to house his 1941 Tiger Moth. â&#x20AC;&#x153;My hobby was ďŹ&#x201A;ying and it seemed far more convenient to land my plane in my garden so I built a fully-insulated aircraft hangar, workshop and landing strip in a four-acre ďŹ eld,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It must have looked odd, in a tranquil, rural area, to have me landing my 1940s biplane in my garden, but

Country properties

people around here have always been very supportive.â&#x20AC;? His hobby spawned a business in restoring First World War planes. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I became quite successful at doing that so I decided to move up a step and rebuild a Hawker Hurricane, which was a daunting task that cost millions of pounds,â&#x20AC;? says Tony, who is now considered one of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Hurricane experts. Sir Tim Wallis, the New Zealand aviator, came to Tonyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s assistance. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Fortuitously, Tim had just recovered a Hurricane in Russia. He came to see my workshop at Moat Farm and left me with a large cheque and the instruction to get on with that and three other Hurricanes. There


Tony Ditheridge bought 15thcentury Moat Farm in Suffolk 27 years ago. Since then he has built up a business on the site restoring Hurricanes and other old aircraft

are now 13 Hurricanes in operation around the world, and I have worked on nine of them.â&#x20AC;? Moat Farm is on the market at ÂŁ1.9million with Carter Jonas (01787 882881, â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have outgrown our garden,â&#x20AC;? Tony says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We can ďŹ&#x201A;y light aircraft in and out, but Hurricanes and other war birds need to be launched on a safe CAA-approved airďŹ eld.â&#x20AC;? He and Janet are looking for a smaller farmhouse nearby, and Tony will buy or lease a local airďŹ eld. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The business will continue and I may move into the Hurricane maintenance side too. It just wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be based in my back garden any longer.â&#x20AC;?


y ut two ed p D rst cur nd! am ďŹ se ke St on s ee id rtie w pa ope pen pr n o o

A beautifully converted Grade II * listed 16th century barn. 5/6 suite bedrooms, annex and separate 1 bed cottage. Guide Price ÂŁ3,600,000 freehold Tel: +44(0)1525 229 788 Email: thegreatbarn

Devon â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Living in Kingdomâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; - glorious Wells-next-the-Sea Announcing our special open weekend Friday 12th - Sunday 14th September 2008

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The formal release of Plot 18, the fabulous three storey detached house with arguably the best views on this â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;landmarkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; development of luxury town houses and apartments. Your opportunity to view and purchase the last two remaining town houses on Phase 3. First viewing of the last two apartments available and now both completed


Guide prices from ÂŁ249,950 For further information contact 01485 211955


Cornwall FEOCK, NR. Truro. Creekside bungalow, beautiful views, with own foreshore.

Kent BROADSTAIRS KENT Only 4 remaining. 2 bed luxury apts. Stunning cliff top location. Close to town centre. Beautiful views. Secure gated underground parking. Lift to all floors. From just ÂŁ360,000. 01843 865517 Fri-Mon 11-4




(unless sold previously)

23rd September 2008 2.30 p.m. at The Jolly Abbot, 16 East Street, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ12 1AG

Nr Ashburton, Guide Price ÂŁ180,000



Landscove. A detached dwelling comprising a pair of former slate miners cottages, one with 2/3 bedrooms and one with 1 bedroom together with a delightful garden and spectacular southerly views. No Parking. In need of substantial renovation. 01626 335 344

Substantial det stone built Character Residence with 3 Rec/4 Bed accommodation (plus 2 Loft Rooms). Adj 1 bed Cottage. Traditional Outbuildings with potential. Sizeable gardens and a 2 ½ acre Pony Paddock. Superb coastal sea, estuary and rural views. For Sale by TENDER. Guide Price - In excess of ÂŁ500,000 J. J. Morris 01348 873836 Website Email ďŹ

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Come home to colour AUTUMN’S MUST HAVES


Wrought iron two-seater bench (123 x 60cm) £275 from Lavender & Sage, www.lavenderandsage., 0845 6010522 Hand beaten copper suspended lamp (40cm) £250 from The French House, www., 0870 9014547 Textured rugs: Tuareg (170 x 240cm) £325 from Heals, Scented orange candles: Orange & Cinnamon 1897 tealights £4 (for 8); and Orange de Fête Fleur scented pillar £7 from The Candle Store, www.shearer-candles. com, 01414 451066

Forget stark minimalism, colour, pattern, texture and cosy comfort are the welcome new trends in interiors. Paula Robinson shows you how to achieve the look in your own home


s house prices continue to plunge, so our taste in interiors has taken a dramatic change of direction. This autumn, there is official licence to turn our homes into personal havens. Stark minimalism, the hallmark of so many self-consciously styled investment properties, is thankfully being elbowed aside in favour of comfort. Staying put means kicking off our shoes and making the most of what we have. It is all about turning your house into somewhere that is a real home. Spend the autumn surrounded by sensory pleasures – it might help you forget the bad news from the world outside.


Maybe it’s the unimpressive weather – or our hopes for an Indian summer ahead – but we seem determined to carry the warmth of summer well into the autumn with our choice of colours for the season. Burnt orange is glowing softly on sofas, chairs, and cushions – contrasted here and there with a splash of lime green. These colours are more Tuscan than tropical, which makes them a perfect choice as the days gradually grow shorter. There’s nothing sharp or vibrant about them thanks to their brown, earthy tones and while they make a bold statement, they’re easy on the eye and very inviting. Soft furnishings aren’t the only place these colours are appearing. Paints are tending to be rich and earthy too and, while you might not want to paint an entire room in them, a feature wall is perfect. Why not transform your chimney breast for autumn with

Farrow & Ball’s ‘Terre d’Egypte’ (a rich orange), or Paint & Paper Library’s ‘Sobek’ (a gorgeous green), or go earthier still – and eco – with earthBorn Paints’ ‘Chocolate Organic’ (a luxurious brown). Offset against cream or neutral walls, these displays of colour work beautifully.


We still haven’t quite got pattern out of our systems. The stencilled look is on everything from wallpapers to cushions, but erring on the side of caution would be wise when applying it to your home. Again, a splash of pattern has more dramatic impact than oppressive overkill. Take a stroll on the wild side in your bathroom though: why not tile a single wall in Surface Tiles’ ‘Flower Décor Camel’ in brown, offset with plain cream tiles. Alternatively, indulge your love of floral and leaf motifs in ways that are easy to change. Introducing bold displays of grasses, leaves and branches is part of the bringing-the-outdoors-in trend for autumn. With a little patience, you can create your own patterned wall panel by suspending large decorative leaves from fishing wire. This trick will work well on a chimney breast (or single wall) painted in one of the season’s striking colours.


The thought of cold weather around the corner makes texture seem very inviting – from Warwick Fabrics’ soft Macrosuede in burnt orange, to Designers Guild’s deeply textured Brescia fabric in

lime, to Cologne & Cotton’s mohair throws in pistachio green. Plain, heavyweight cottons are popular and practical for sofas, while wool works with throws and cushions. Texture and natural fabrics are also being found underfoot. This season’s rugs definitely have that “come curl up on me” appeal. They’re plush, full of character, but refreshingly neutral in their shades. Heals has a fine selection, including Tuareg, Pebbles, Earth Tones and Big Loop.


We’re definitely shunning the mass-produced look in furniture, and turning to vintage instead. It suits our eco mindset nicely, and lets us be both thrifty and creative. We’re either buying interesting pieces from flea markets, second-hand shops, or our neighbours, or we’re looking at what we already have to see how we can update the look. Wooden kitchen chairs that have seen better days are ideal candidates for a splash of this season’s colours. With bulkier pieces such as chests of drawers and cabinets, consider spraypainting them to a smooth, polished finish (akin to lacquer). The beauty of this look is that it marries old and new, drawing an old piece firmly into the present day without losing its character and charm. If you’re mad about vintage style, colour, pattern and texture, Selina Lake’s Bazaar Style (Ryland Peters & Small, £18.99) is bound to spark a few ideas for your home. The only investment required will be your time and creativity.

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Credit crunch gardening B

e honest, how much money have you spent at garden centres in recent years? Those statement plants in Italian-style pots, the York stone paving, the trickly water feature you’d set your heart on... This year, as the economy squeezes many aspects of our lives, there’s good reason for being thrifty in the garden. Fortunately, your home patch can come up trumps in terms of savings and benefits. I am carrying out an audit on mine, to see how well it performs and where the time and money go throughout the year. I will offset the cost of materials and labour against the income (my fruit and veg) and, of course, the pleasure.

HEATING THE GREENHOUSE Another big outgoing is heating your greenhouse. Invest in an Owl meter ( to monitor how much electricity you are using, and a reliable maximum and minimum thermometer. I have the type that you can read from inside the house (see These all help to minimise unnecessary over-heating. I keep my greenhouse just warm enough to be frostfree. When I built a temporary compost heap inside, I found that it generated a significant amount of heat. In the spring, I sowed my seeds on top of the heap. WATERING Water conservation is a must (rainwater butts, capillary matting, mulches etc) and if you fill a pond or pool tell

BESTVALUEPLANTS 1Flowers for almost 11 months, has small, daisy flowers and seeds around ERIGERON KARVINSKIANUS


2This tree has fabulous early foliage, beautiful flowers and golden fruits 3A great form of the common rabbits ears that hardly flowers but has larger QUINCE, CYDONIA OBLONGA


leaves that stay looking good year-round

4A tender perennial which is easy to grow from cuttings but worth the trouble SALVIA INDICA ‘INDIGO SPIRES’

of over-wintering as its blue flowers give you a good four months of superb value

5Evergreen, with excellent foliage and flowers, and easy in sun or shade 6One of the hardiest cannas, it has good foliage and superb, rich pink, nonHELLEBORUS X ‘ERICSMITHII’


stop flowers

7 So easy, and free flowering for months, and it still looks good afterwards, HYDRANGEA ARBORESCENS ‘ANNABELLE’

as dried heads linger STAR PERFORMER

The Cydonia Oblonga tree has fabulous early foliage and golden fruits - a fantastic addition to the fruit bowl

8flower Excellent wall shrub/tree colour, which may ACACIA DEALBATA

show from December till Easter, and smells good



Excellent cut-andcome mix that just lasts and lasts


CHEAP SEEDS AND PLANTS The amount I spend on the basics, the “operating budget”, offers the greatest scope for reduction. There is no reason to pay retail prices for seeds, plants or compost. One of the simplest ways to make savings is to join your local garden society. These groups frequently have arrangements with the big seed and compost companies to give discounts of up to 50 per cent. The internet has fuelled seed swapping: try Googling “seed swapping” and you will find countless sites where you can get many for free as well as swapping your own. Saving your own seed is a top priority, of course. Free plants are also available online. Plants Reunited ( is the first online swap, buy or sell gardening site. To bulk up a garden cheaply, I recommend learning how to propagate by sowing seeds, dividing clump-forming plants or taking cuttings – see page 15 for a step by step guide.

Bunny Guinness gives tips on how to use your greenfingers to save you pounds, both in and out of the garden



your water company’s accounts department: most have a “pond allowance” and they will deduct the “sewerage” element from your bill. MAINTENANCE Whether you employ a gardener or do it yourself, it’s worth making sure that not too much time is spent on the parts with little “payback”. Grass, borders and hedges can all demand a lot of work. Do you need acres of close-mown grass? Maybe assign some areas to a monthly cut, maintaining the grass at 100mm even though this may entail changing your mower. I apply residual herbicide Casoron G4 granules (made by


Grocery bills are far lower in the productive months

Vitax) under some hedges, along the base of my electric fence and in some shrub areas in April. This saves me many hours of tedious work because the granules last all year. BIG TICKET ITEMS Before you buy, try Freecycle. org, an online group that allows members to acquire (and get rid of) a range of gardening goods from greenhouses to Goji berry plants on a first-come-firstserved basis. Keep an eye on skips too, I have acquired many plants, garden toys and other items from them. Legally, you should always ask the owner before you dive in. Instead of the obvious retail outlets for furniture and artefacts, finding craftsman (stonemasons, wood turners and sculptors) is hugely satisfying and invariably you get a far superior product and often for less. Save on expensive, new containers and try old wine boxes, wooden drawers, or brightly coloured tins. HOME-GROWN PRODUCE Profit is less easy to evaluate. We are all guilty of grazing in the garden and it’s almost impossible to add up the peas, apples and strawberries that never hit the

table. But our grocery bills are far lower in the productive months as salads, soups and puddings eke out the supermarket items. Don’t forget gifts and flowers too. A home-grown plant always outdoes a box of chocolates or a bottle of wine and lasts longer. Baskets of eggs, sloe gin and pickled walnuts are other great standbys. Easier to cost is the financial gain of cancelling your gym membership and using the garden to get fit. THE FRINGE BENEFITS If your garden is a space that entertains you, family and friends, you are far less likely to go out and spend money. If you have the option and can encourage your children into the habit of living, playing and socialising al fresco by giving them an enticing garden with great scope for play, it cuts down on expensive trips to theme parks and the like. Fringe benefits, such as added value to your property are not so easy to quantify, but that feel-good factor, from just a few hours a week spent in the best place in the world, most certainly is achievable. You can’t put a price on that.

A tender perennial basil with dark purple veins in its green leaves, it lives for much longer than other basils. Keep on your window sill in winter

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FACT: before the days of man-made foam, lifejackets were stuffed with sunflower stems










s summer slips into autumn, what better way to make the most of any impromptu warm evenings than to start an outdoor fire and extend your al fresco entertaining long after dark. The built-in open fireplace (1) makes a real focal point in this contemporary outdoor room. Created by garden designer Charlotte Rowe at her own home, the fire was an experiment that she has since copied for clients. It was constructed in concrete blocks that were then rendered and coated with coloured limewash (2), and is flanked by raised planters and seating made from the same materials. In small urban gardens, design features have to work hard, and so the retaining walls for the raised beds double up as seating. A wooden bench at right angles is also great for lounging or, with a dining table, could seat three to four. Planting has been kept simple to avoid encroaching on the limited space. Three pleached pears (Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’) line the high brick wall at the rear, while other key plants include an espaliered fig, ornamental grasses (3) and evergreens (4). This combination of strong structure and architectural planting means the garden has year-round appeal. A subtle lighting system (5) highlights the main features. Even in the dead of winter, the clean, calm lines are a visual pleasure. And just imagine the fire lit in the snow for a midwinter party. Charlotte Rowe Garden Design, 020 7602 0660,


1 FIREPLACE This custom-built model is for an open log fire – worth the mess and inconvenience for the glorious warm glow and crackle. It is advisable to work with landscapers and a chimney flue supplier such as Topstak (01446 771567, www. to ensure the fireplace is safe. For a cheaper, off-the-peg model which could be incorporated into a solid surround, Buschbeck’s masonry barbecue fireplaces (which can be converted to gas) cost £399 from Inspired Fires (0845 0090916, 2 LIMEWASH Using exterior limewash gives the render a lovely irregular patina over time. Giacomo’s “Cement” from Francesca’s Paints (020 7228 7694, costs from £14.50 a litre. Remember: no rain should fall on the limewash for five days after application. 3 GRASSES The striking 2m-high feather-reed grass Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ forms a see-through screen between the house and garden. It appears early, and lasts well into winter. The Big Grass Company (01363 866146, sells it in one-litre pots for £5.

4 EVERGREENS Neat mounds of Pittosporum tobira ‘Nanum’ fill the raised beds. A compact, low-maintenance evergreen, it looks good all year round. Above it, Trachelospermum jasminoides is climbing up the trellis. 5 LIGHTING With an open fireplace, subtle electric lighting is required, and Rebecca Weir of Light IQ (020 8749 1900, www.lightiq. com) helped create this simple yet atmospheric scheme. Outdoor rope lights (£35 for 10m from Lighting Direct, 0844 8044 944, are placed beneath benches, behind the fencing and along the top of the fireplace, while a pair of 82cm high Brompton lanterns (£125 each from Heal’s, flank the fire.

Every year around now, our school used to stage a “harvest festival” for which we’d bring in shoe boxes filled with food, which would then be sent to the good people of Peckham, an act that, in retrospect, seems staggeringly patronising, especially since I now live down the road and no one ever gives me anything. Harvest festivals, politically clumsy or otherwise, have rather gone out of fashion now. But this time of year, when ripe fruits are all but throwing themselves off trees and bushes, always takes me back to my childhood, and particularly the inordinate amount of time I spent practising a traditional rural British blood sport: standing in brambles, fighting spider webs and acquiring scratches from fingers to toes while putting surprisingly few blackberries in an old ice-cream container. Scarred ever since, I have until now wanted to introduce blackberry bushes to my small, urban garden about as much as I’d welcome a wax effigy of Sharon Osbourne. But that was before I discovered they come thornless, grow up north-facing walls and can be trained to do pretty loopde-loops like a rollercoaster. I have now had a volte face and become a bona fide blackberry bore. My Oregon Thornless, available from, (Waldo and Loch Ness are also spine-free), with its deep green, parsley-like leaves, is my current garden hero, garlanded down the wall and laden with berries twice the size and sweetness of the wild kinds. Unlike the hedgerow kinds, they may not be a free harvest, but at least I can still recognise my extremities when I’m finished.

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GARDENING FACT: the first garden gnome appeared in an English garden in 1849 at Lamport Hall, Northamptonshire

easily rectified with a dose of Epsom salts: use 54g in 4.5 litres of water as a foliar feed once a fortnight. Red spiders are rife on my plants. Next year, I will mist the plants more frequently, which helps to reduce their copious breeding. For now, I’m attacking them with Block Out, a starchbased organic product from Just Green (01621 785088, Meanwhile, my outdoor crops, growing against a hedge, are looking fabulous, as they did all last year. In wet summers the hedge seems to ward off blight.





THISWEEK LATE-SEASON TOMATOES How can you encourage ripening towards the end of the season? To start with, I drape indoor and outdoor tomatoes with fleece or perforated polythene (from Haxnicks, 0845 241 1555, www. Later on, my outdoor tomatoes will be freed from their supports (with the roots still in the ground) and carefully laid down onto a silver Reflecta surface from Agralan (01285 860015, uk), or something similar, and covered with the polythene. Finally, I’ll pull them up and hang them in the greenhouse for the tomatoes to ripen on the vine. Of course, you can always cook the green fruits; there are lots of recipes, aside from chutney. Should I carry on pinching out side shoots? This practice makes the plant focus its energies on the fruit. But you can stop doing it in September, when splitting fruit is likely to

be a problem. The side shoots help by diverting water away from the tomatoes. What are the most common tomato problems? Blossom End Rot is where the bottom of the tomato is flattish and an unappetising brown (but you can still use the rest of the fruit). It can be caused by irregular or lack of watering, which leads to calcium shortage. Plants indoors can require about one to oneand-a-half litres of water a day. Too much potassium is also possibly to blame. We are always told to use high potassium feeds to encourage fruiting but you can overdo it. This can also cause tough skins. Many indoor tomatoes look tired by now, often with curling leaves. These indicate that night temperatures are too low, but it does not usually affect fruit production. Some of the leaves are yellow between the veins, a sign of magnesium deficiency,

Which is the tastiest variety? My Momotarou tomato (£7 for 25, from, named after a Japanese fairy tale, translates as “Peach Boy”, but is also known as “Tough Boy”, and has dark-crimson fruit eight to 10cm across, with meaty, pink flesh and few seeds. It grows well inside and out. My Japanese clients put me onto it as it is the most popular variety there.


Hang the tomatoes in the greenhouse to ripen on the vine

For more expert gardening advice and growing tips

PERFECTPLANT PERFECTPLACE What will survive and thrive in dry shade? Despite their dainty image, violets turn into aggressive, must-have colonisers in this common but awkward situation. Clive Groves, who holds the national collection of violets (01308 422654, www. groves nurseries., recommends Viola riviniana Purpurea Group, the unscented dog violet. Mine grow about 15cm high by almost double that across. Other good ones, of a similar size but scented, are V. odorata and V.odorata ‘Alba’, the purple and white sweet violet. You can propagate your own with runners, as with strawberries. Plant 12 per square metre. Bunny Guinness

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The amount by which British gardeners could reduce our carbon footprint if we grew all our fruit and veg organically

STEPBYSTEP HOW TO TAKE CUTTINGS OF TENDER PERENNIALS Tender type: Salvia guaranitica doesn’t like cold

growth is what you want; not the older woody part of the stem, which will be slow to root. Choose a strong, leafy, non-flowering side shoot 10 to 15cm (4-6in) long and, using a very sharp knife, cut it off below a leaf joint.



Wind-thrashed borders are crying out for a reviving dash of late colour. Pop in a pot of perennial asters, with their fuzzy, daisy-like flowers in lavender, mauve, pink or red. They’ll flower until the first frosts, while Sedum spectabile ‘Brilliant’ and the deep violet wands of Liriope muscari go on until November.



Strip all the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting. Also remove the tip of the shoot, the tenderest new growth that will not survive the stress of being removed from the parent.


Daffodils must be in the ground by mid-September. Heritage Wild About Bulbs, which specialises in bulbs for naturalising, and rare and historic varieties, is offering Life readers 30 Narcissus ‘Topolino’, worth £5, free with every order from its catalogue. To request one, call 0845 300 4257, mentioning The Sunday Telegraph. ‘Topolino’ is Italian for Mickey Mouse and these daffs are as short and bouncy as their cartoon namesake.


The bare-stemmed cuttings are now ready to plant. Hormone rooting powders and gels encourage roots to form but they aren’t necessary.



Tender perennials are those that ail or die in low temperatures – salvias such as S. guaranitica (above), pelargoniums, verbenas and osteospermum. You can cosset them indoors for the winter but taking cuttings produces healthier new plants, and takes up less space. Start early in the day when the stems are full of water, and plant immediately. If you can’t, plunge the stems into a bucket of water in the shade. The semi-ripe

Fill a thoroughly cleaned plant pot with cuttings compost. This gritty mix ensures good drainage so that the stems don’t rot and has no fertiliser, which encourages leggy growth. Make holes in the compost around the edge of the pot with a pencil and drop a cutting into each one, up to the first leaf (don’t let the cuttings touch). Firm in and water with a fine rose. Keep the pot in the greenhouse, cold frame or a cool, light room. Mist occasionally in the first two to three weeks before the roots form. If the cutting is well rooted before the end of September, pot on.

For all your gardening needs, hints and tips, plus more great ideas, visit




Multiply your favourite plants for free by taking cuttings (see how, left). Burgon & Ball has the perfect folding compact pocket knife with a curved wooden handle (£25.95, 0114 233 8262,


Barrel Produc ts Suppliers of original oak barrels, tubs, planters, water features and water butts Hogshead water butt with lid and brass tap, approx. 50 gallons, from



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of people who own a George Foreman Grill don’t use it (Halifax Home Insurance 2008)


The best ‘spring’ lamb can only be bought in September, says Harriot Lane Fox


12 trimmed lamb cutlets 2 tsp Pommery mustard 20g fresh rosemary 200g Lowna Goat’s Cheese (or any fresh, soft variety) 100g Bull’s Blood beetroot leaves (or other variety) 4 medium Bull’s Blood beetroots 1 tsp black peppercorns 1 tsp finely chopped chives Olive oil for frying For the garlic croutons 2 slices wholemeal bread 115g butter, ½ clove garlic For the vinaigrette 3 tbsp each of Pommery mustard, extra virgin olive oil and cider vinegar. 1 tsp honey 1 Trim the cutlets, roll in the mustard and rosemary. 2 Wrap each beetroot in foil with a drizzle of honey and season, cook for 20 minutes at 170C; peel off the skins, cut into quarters. Keep warm. Preheat the croutons to 190C. 3 Remove the crusts from the bread and cut into 1cm cubes. Melt the butter with the garlic do not let it boil.


he life cycle of a sheep is a bit of a mystery, certainly to townies, hence the great spring lamb conspiracy. Marketing wizardry has us drooling at the thought of super-tender roasts for Easter. But a proper spring lamb is born in spring, feeds greedily on sweet summer grass, not just its mother’s milk, and comes to the table in September. It’s every bit as tender but the extra two to three months’ maturing time gives the meat a “wonderful depth of flavour”, says Andrew Pern, Michelin-starred chef of The Star Inn at Harome, Yorkshire. “Autumn ingredients — apples and leeks, honey and cloves — really bring out the sweetness and richness.” Andrew buys from Ian and Zoe Burdass (see right), who employ their own butcher. Ian lives on the stuff. His desert island dish? “The best piece of fillet; just show both sides to a match, then eat.” The Star Inn (01439 770397,


500g lamb shoulder, cut into 3cm dice 2 eating apples, cut into 1.5cm dice or balls 50ml lamb stock reduced by two thirds 200ml whipping cream 10 pitted Agen prunes 200ml cider; 50g diced onion A splash of olive oil Seasoning; 8 young leeks


1 leg of lamb 2.5 to 4kg 1 litre of lamb stock or a light beef stock Sprigs of fresh rosemary 200ml runny honey 15 to 20 cloves 1 tsp ground mixed spice 1 tbsp demerara sugar 1 small/medium pumpkin 3 beetroots, 5 carrots Splash of olive oil Seasoning 1 Place the lamb into a deep roasting tray. Make small cuts (approx 2 to 3cm deep) into the

4 Add the bread cubes and stir until coated with butter. Bake in a pre-heated oven for eight minutes until golden. 5 Cream the goats’ cheese in a blender for three minutes. Add cream, if required, to slacken the mixture should stand in peaks. Season with cracked black peppercorns and chives. 6 Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and fry the cutlets for two to three minutes on each side until an even crust forms. Lift out of the pan and rest. 7 Cut each lamb loin into five slices and serve with the beetroot, leaves and goat’s cheese. Drizzle on vinaigrette.

lamb at around 3 to 4cm intervals, and push small sprigs of fresh rosemary into each one, with the cloves in between. 2 Add the mixed spice to the honey and brush the mixture over the lamb. 3 Place uncovered on the middle shelf of a hot oven (230C/Gas Mark 8) for about 30 minutes to form a slight crust, then reduce the oven temperature to 160C/ Gas Mark 3 and roast for a further hour, which should cook the lamb to medium/rare. 4 Peel and roughly chop the

pumpkin, beetroot and carrots into 3cm dice, place in a roasting tin, drizzle with olive oil, scatter over more rosemary, and season. 5 Place on the top shelf of the oven approximately 45 minutes from the end of the roasting time for the lamb. 6 Once cooked, remove the lamb from the tin, and keep warm with the roast roots. 7 Then drain off the juices for the Yorkshire Sauce. For the Yorkshire Sauce 2 medium oranges

350ml red wine 250g sugar 200g redcurrant jelly 200ml lamb jus (stock reduction); Lamb juices 1 Peel the orange and cut the peel into thin strips removing all the white. 2 Place in a pan with the red wine, sugar and redcurrant jelly. 3 Juice the left-over orange and add to the pan as well. 4 Reduce the mixture until it becomes syrup, and add the lamb jus and juices.

1 In a little olive oil, sweat off the onion and lamb, colouring until golden brown. 2 Add the cider, cream and lamb stock - cook for around one and a half hours in a thickbottomed pan with a lid on the middle shelf of a moderate oven (200C/Gas Mark 6) . 3 Add the apples, prunes and leeks, and warm for two minutes, check seasoning. Serve with Celeriac Purée.

For the Celeriac Purée ½ celeriac, cut into 1cm dice; 200ml milk; 200ml whipping cream; 20g unsalted butter Seasoning (ground white pepper). Cover the celeriac in the cream and milk in a pan, and bring to the boil. Simmer until cooked, so the liquid is absorbed by the veg. When soft, blend until smooth, season and add butter.

WHERETOBUY The Burdass family has farmed sheep for 100 years. Theirs is one of only three flocks left on the Yorkshire Wolds, which is now prime arable land. Plump, slow-reared Burdass Lamb, a Texel Suffolk cross, is sold to 25 restaurants (01262 490271, Also supplying autumn lamb, Sillfield Farm in Cumbria raises Herdwicks (01539 567609, www.sillfield. and Langley Chase Organic Farm, Wiltshire, has rare-breed Manx Loaghtans (01249 750095,

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eat less than five portions of fruit and veg a day (2006 Health Survey of England;

You’re relaxed and rested after a fortnight away … but then the flight lands and the feelings begin to fade. Catalina Stogdon gives a 10-point plan to stretch the summer spirit well into September


Sleep A good night’s sleep is a modern day cure-all and has to be top of the list for maintaining the holiday high. Away from the routine of work we take siestas, wake up and turn in when we want to. According to the Sleep Council, eight hours’ sleep is the amount for most of us to feel well rested, although an hour either side suits others. The key is to keep as regular a pattern as possible, so as not to build up a “sleep deficit” which affects mood and concentration. Jessica Alexander, spokesman for the Sleep Council, advises making rooms feel as restful as possible, keeping them cool and dark, banishing phones and televisions; and instead of bolting up to a shrieking alarm, try a device such as the wake-up light alarm clock (Philips, £100 from philips., which works on a timer increasing the light intensity over 30 minutes to wake you up gently.


Exercise It’s a safe bet your holiday exercise involved tumbling through the waves, or hiking up hills instead of a treadmill. Running, cycling, even vigorous gardening… it’s worth finding something you enjoy doing, rather than sticking to a repetitive routine. Cardiovascular


exercise – which refers to the ability of your heart, lungs and blood vessels to carry oxygen to, and carbon dioxide away from, working muscles – is considered to be the most important area of physical fitness. It also releases feelgood endorphins. Tony Gallagher, Life fitness instructor, recommends starting with short bursts of activity, 30 minutes of exercise three times a week, up to the point where you are out of breath but “still able to hold a conversation”.


Food On holiday we tend to eat healthily, regularly drinking water to cool down, but as soon as we return to colder climes we replace the water with high-calorie lattes and hit stodgy comfort foods. No wonder we feel sluggish, says Sara Stanner of the British Nutrition Foundation. She advises keeping well hydrated and to “stick to the seafood”, such as shellfish which contains selenium – a trace element that acts as an antioxidant. Every week, we should aim to eat one portion of oily fish, which contains mood-boosting Omega 3 and essential fatty acids, an important component of brain cells. Raspberries and blueberries are high in antioxidants and keep up energy – and your good mood – too. The Mediterranean diet, full of fresh fruit and vegetables, is ideal. Beans, chickpeas, lentils and pulses contain B vitamins, which help to release energy to the body, so whip up some hummus or a stir-fry of pulses for an energy fix. Also, eat and drink al fresco if the weather allows.


Banish stress Believe it or not, floating in a darkened tank can be a fast route to relaxation. You lose your sensation of

lady palm and peace lily are highly rated for removing indoor toxins and improving air quality. Position Tuscan lemon trees (£24.99 each from uk) around the conservatory. “Seeing yellow” is said to help counteract Seasonal Affective Disorder by fooling the body into thinking it is summer.


Entertainment Throw a “back from holiday” party: put up lanterns, such as those from the Pier ( and place up-lighters at the base of pot plants. Bright fabrics on walls, draped over furniture or pictures add to the look. The aim is to create a throwntogether feeling to keep the sun-drenched spirit alive.


Meditate. Away from the daily grind, we let go. Meditation is designed to emulate the same feeling of release, allowing you to clear your mind. But for most of us it isn’t as easy as sitting around in flowing robes, chanting “om”. Apparently you can meditate while doing the dishes or on the train (if you’ve practised and you’re feeling brave). Dhanu Kara, a complementary therapist for the Hale Clinic (www.haleclinic. com) advises this system for beginners: start with three to five breaths through the

Listen to soul soothing holiday tunes on the train

which is why floating can be so relaxing. An hour’s session costs from £40. See the Float Tank Association website for facilities in your area (floatationtankassociation. net). It is not advisable for those who suffer from claustrophobia.

6 grounding by achieving immediate buoyancy, because the water you float in is thick with Epsom salt. It is estimated that a major part of brain activity is concerned with the effects of gravitational pull on the body, such as maintaining balance and keeping good posture –

diaphragm, breathe in for five seconds, hold for five and exhale for 10; then relax each muscle through the body from foot to head, tightening and letting go of each body part (from scrunching and releasing your toes, through to chest muscles, hands and jaw); then picture your favourite holiday scene. As you imagine it, the sensations of your holiday should come back: the swing of the hammock, the smell of the sea, the feel of the sun – you’ll not only feel more relaxed, you will have prolonged your holiday, too.

Work on the senses Stimulating the senses not only boosts health, according to a study by Oxford University, but sound and smell can also take us back to a holiday moment in seconds. What could be simpler than burning scented candles or oils from your trip, be it citrus verbena from Provence (from L’Occitane, or listening to soul-soothing holiday tunes, such as Calypso, on the rushhour train?


Be green-fingered A Norwegian study found that indoor plants can reduce fatigue and coldrelated illnesses by more than 30 per cent, so start cultivating. The areca palm,


Activities Learn a holiday-related musical instrument or dance, be it New Orleans jazz or Brazilian samba. DanceWeb ( lists classes, or the Expert Village ( has videos showing you how to do the tango and more, in the privacy of your own home.


Be outdoorsy Try anything, as long as it is outside. lists more than 2,000 activity centres in the UK from hill-walking to zip-wiring. There is a great, green world on your doorstep, which you don’t need to go on holiday to appreciate.

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Life has a habit of rushing by, so getting back into a favourite sport is a good way to have fun and stay fit, writes Alex Benady


Revert to childhood. The best place to find a game of footie is at your local park – see who’s already playing, then ask to join in. VETERANS FC

The FA website (www. has a “find a club” facility, which


ome people have 1,500cc of chrome throbbing between their legs to show for their mid-life crisis. Others have a lissom 23-yearold on their arm. Me, I’ve got a strip of neoprene strapped around my left knee. While other blokes in their forties might buy a Harley or run off with the next door neighbour’s au pair, I decided at the age of 47, for reasons that are still not very clear to me, to take up five-a-side football. Six years on, my knee is, as we say, “crocked”. And pathetic though it may sound, our Wednesday night game has become one of the deepest sources of pleasure in my life. I always loved playing football. There’s just something so satisfying about the creative act of kicking, bending, stroking, juggling a ball – far more than the brutish faux-tribalism of supporting a team. Like many boys, I played for hours every day. I played at university and up to my early thirties. But football is a cruel mistress and in the end she gave me the boot. Life got in the way of games and all of a sudden 12 years had passed since I last kicked a ball – although I did keep reasonably fit with running and visits to the gym. Then, as my son grew, we started playing kickarounds in the park. When a friend suggested I join his casual game in a cage at a local South London school, the prospect of an ecstatic reunion with my true love proved too much. “I am coming, amore,” I sighed. Now the first piece of advice I can offer any coffin-dodger thinking of taking up footie late in life is this: prepare to die. A mate of mine in his early fifties played recently for a scratch team against some Italians, also in their fifties. One of the Italians had a heart attack on the pitch and survived only because one of the wives was a nurse and had shrewdly insisted on having a St John’s ambulance in attendance. If you haven’t done any exercise for a while, you might consider getting fit first. The second lesson is prepare to be useless. Worse


than you ever dreamed you could possibly be. It’ll be like one of those anxiety dreams where you are running as fast as you can, but you can’t move. And why would you be any good? You know how at the beginning of every season they talk about professionals not reaching full fitness and their timing still being a bit out? Well, they are elite athletes who train three hours a day and haven’t kicked a ball in a month or so. You were never better than mediocre and you haven’t so much as looked at a ball in two decades. So you’ll miskick, there will be no strength in your shots, you’ll always be leaning back when you should be moving onto the ball. Worse still, you’ll be inelegant: you’ll be stiff and wary so your centre of gravity will be too high and you’ll move like a

lets you search for local clubs with veteran teams. IN COMPETITION

Veterans leagues are run at a county level so use Google to find yours. Umbro sponsors Europe’s biggest open-age football tournament in Manchester (01625 536609;

day or two to slip by him on the outside. Only a slight silvery trail on the pitch reveals that I have been there at all. But for me footy isn’t only about the joys of extreme athleticism. South London may be diverse but most people hang in their social silos. In our game, anyone can turn up – and they do. We’ve had doctors and lawyers, we have students and unemployed people. There are old people like me and young people like 17-year-old Bokaie. We have Londoners, Brazilians and Kenyans, Somalis and Frenchmen. The advantage of playing with a regular crew, as opposed to competitive games, is that you can generally rely on people not to chop you down or body check you, which really matters when your bones are brittle. And at the end of our games you probably imagine it to be all high fives and manly back slapping as we, the nations united by football, agree that we are indeed, the best a man can get. It’s not like that. We are all sweaty and panting, with people moaning about who didn’t pass, late tackles and who hasn’t paid the £2.50 sub. Footie, I love you anyway.


Having a ball: Alex Benady still has his skills; he is just a little slower than in the old days

marionette operated by a drunk. Worst of all you’ll be slow. Oh so very, disappointingly slow. In the end I decided to make a virtue of my lack of speed. I’ve given myself a glamorous nick-name, “El Caracol” – The Snail – and I’ve developed a whole philosophy of football round it. The idea is to slow down the game so much that lack of pace doesn’t matter. So I approach a defender. Using my magical powers I freeze time. Inevitably the defender gets bored and loses concentration, giving me a

1: Warm-up is vital. Jog around the pitch for five to 10 minutes. 2: Stretch hamstrings, quadraceps (front of thigh) and calf muscles. Hold each for 30 seconds. Repeat after the match. 3: The more you build up your quadraceps the less prone you are to injury. 4: Leave longer between matches to recuperate. 5: Don’t rely on knee supports for every game: they will put pressure on other areas. 6: Exercises to improve strength and balance include squats and lunges with free weights, yoga and pilates for abdominal strength. Source: Tony Gallagher, fitness instructor, LAPF Fitness

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Go online now to and start downloading your free music today Terms and conditions: Visit today and get 50 free music downloads and one free audiobook with free 14-day eMusic trial subscriptions. Offer available to first time eMusic customers only. If you do not cancel your account within the 14-day trial period, you will be charged at the monthly rate chosen during the registration process. Registration and credit or debit card required. Music and audiobook offer and eMusic subscription prices subject to change without notice and are subject to eMusic’s terms of use. eMusic and the eMusic logo are registered trademarks of Inc. Offer only available to people over 18 years of age. All rights reserved. For full terms and conditions see Promoter Telegraph Media Group Limited, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT.

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OLIVER PRITCHETT IT JUST OCCURRED TO ME… A HAZARD OF THE PAVEMENTS report last week said a spy satellite, developed by Nasa, will soon be able to identify us by the unique way we walk. It’s called gait analysis and could spot terrorists. I’d just like to notify Nasa that my gait has changed lately. It used to be a steady mooch, but I’ve switched to an elaborate dance step – two forward skips on the left foot, a swivel to the right then a series of hops. It’s because I’m always walking behind someone with a tow-along suitcase the size of a wardrobe. This is not luggage; it’s heavy goods. They’re the pedestrian equivalent of caravans, and their tailbacks should figure in pavement traffic news on the radio. “We’re getting reports of three slow-moving Samsonites proceeding down the south side of Oxford Street where they are about to meet two hearty Dutch tourists with abnormal loads. You are advised to choose alternative routes.” Because people don’t actually need to carry these cases any distance, they’re uninhibited packers. “Just off to Sardinia, thought we’d all take a spare pair of roller-skates, our dinner jackets and three or four good old British house bricks to comfort us, if we get homesick.” Standing on one leg last Wednesday, rubbing my shin and watching this procession of possessions, I tried to calculate how many extra gallons of fuel it takes to get this weight into the air on a holiday jet or to power a car with this lot in the boot. That’s how I got my idea for the perfect Green Tax – an annual levy on every item of wheeled luggage, plus, of course, a hefty surcharge for any suitcase which is shocking pink or has a leopard skin pattern. Somebody tell Nasa that I’m not Osama Bin Laden’s dancing partner and that I’ve just come up with a way of saving the planet.

How to write your memoir With the aid of tissues, painkillers and herbal tea, Caroline McGhie takes lessons in unlocking the past


ou have to ask the question. What brings a group of 11 women together in a room on Wednesday afternoons for 10 consecutive weeks in a small town in Norfolk, equipped with notebooks, pens, boxes of tissues, packets of painkillers and herbal tea bags? Outside the sun burns brightly, but inside we are oblivious for we are all exploring the dark recesses of our pasts. It doesn’t matter where you look, the contents of people’s lives are splattered all over the book world. The surge in memoir sales means the genre frequently dominates the best-sellers’ charts. Addiction memoir, misery memoir, cancer memoir, holocaust memoir, fake memoir – we buy them all because we love reading about anyone’s private life and it means we can escape our own. And you don’t have to be famous. Oprah Winfrey has shown us that ordinary lives contain just as much that is mad and interesting. So here we are in a hot room with our teacher. We only know each other’s first names. We are all equal, for it doesn’t matter whether one is a

waitress and another is a painter. “Write about bath time when you were a child. I will give you ten minutes. Then we will read them out,” says our teacher. This isn’t write an essay by tomorrow. This is tell us about your vulnerable, scabby-kneed, seven-year-old self in the time it takes to chop an onion. This is a cross between taking an exam, making a public confession and reawakening memories that can explode like small emotional bombs. “It works. Believe me,” says the teacher. “You write out of the top of the head.” So we need the tissues for those who do cry, the painkillers for those who bottle it and get the headache that follows, and the tea bags for half time. We learn strange things about each other. There is the tense, willowy woman who still nurses the ache left by boarding school bedtime, the gentle-voiced bosomy one who describes finding her father dead in the bath and remembers that the water was still warm. One week, we each bring a photograph taken from a family album and we are given 10 minutes to describe the moment when the photograph was taken, and the characters in it. One woman shows me hers beforehand: it is a black and white snap of a man and two women in 1950s Sunday best. “That’s my father. That’s my mother. That’s my father’s mistress,” she says. Another week, we have to draw graphs to show how happy or unhappy we have been in each decade of our

COURSES The Secret Life of Women: How to Write Your memoir, starts 30 Sept and runs for 22 weeks at Birkbeck, University of London, price £300 (£150 concessions). Contact University of Bristol runs short creative writing courses and day schools, which include life writing. Contact cont-ed The Arvon Foundation offers a range of creative writing classes. Both one-week life writing courses in the autumn are fully booked but more will be planned next year. Price £550. Contact

1 2 3

TIPS... t about why you are

firs s 1.Think memoir sted in re e t you are in if d e s ri class be surp shed in 2. Don’t y ambu ll a n io m t e oirs emo ople’s m A Not ther pe f o O d s a ir e 3. R Memo urray’s ight be Jenni M ghter m u a D ul if t u D So start phs a good otogra r old ph u o y t u g 4. Dig o mberin rt reme rds and sta o w w fe riting a of your 5. Try w ember m a t u abo e if you and se family it can do



lives, and discuss. Another, we write poems. Each Wednesday the room fills with stories. We study other writers. We taste the tinned ham and loneliness in Nigel Slater’s memoir Toast, we delight in 66-year-old Jane Juska, who set off in search of sex in The Round Heeled Woman. The versatility of the memoir becomes obvious. As life starts to pass at the speed of a mouse click we all want to capture voices and moments before they vanish. No wonder the British Library is gathering oral history like there is no tomorrow. “Make them wait, make them laugh, make them cry,” is the teacher’s advice on how to write. The members of the group were obviously self-selecting, but every one of them turned out to be a good story teller. The dyslexic with a love of Tupperware was full of dry humour and clever observation; the former rock chick who had partied with the Stones had a highlycoloured, romantic, writerly style; the waitress who hadn’t spoken for the first eight weeks shocked us in week nine with an eruption of words about how her mother had abused her A HANDKNITTED SCARF as a child. Was it dangerously HOW TO MAKE IT close to group therapy? 13 stitches, 15mm needles, 3 skeins Should our teacher have Colinette Point Five in Sea Breeze (the played so much on our colours of sea glass), and knit for two evenings until you have something to wear emotions? Was it good for us? at the bus stop. I don’t know. But I do know HOW TO FAKE IT now that everyone has a voice Chunky 86cm-long scarf in Paton’s and a story to tell and that Splash (sky blue). £25 from people warm to confession more than to clever writing.


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Our panel of experts answers your questions on everything from the hidden calories in smoothies to tackling the bully in your child’s classroom DIET AND NUTRITION


I have heard that smoothies aren’t as healthy as I thought, but are actually packed full of calories and sugar. Is this true?



Smoothies can be filled with vitamins and fibre and offer an easy way to include more fruit in your diet, but some are healthier than others. The calorie content can vary from about 100 calories to more than 500 per serving

(a quarter of the guideline daily amount). Always check the ingredients and nutritional information (particularly the fat, sugar and calorie content). Opt for smoothies with plenty of fruit or vegetables and lower fat ingredients such as semiskimmed/skimmed milk or

low fat yogurt. Watch out for those containing higher calorie foods such as icecream, coconut or honey. Smoothies with a high proportion of whole fruit rather than juice will have a higher fibre content and help you feel fuller for longer.


How much water should I be drinking daily? I am an active 35-year-old mum and have been hearing conflicting, and some worrying, reports. SARA STANNER WRITES:

An average adult should drink about 2.5 litres A (eight glasses) of fluid a day but we need more during hot weather and when exercising. Staying well hydrated can reduce tiredness and aid concentration and many of us aren’t drinking enough. You can get your daily fluid requirements from sources other than pure water – tea, coffee and fruit juices all count. However, it is possible to drink too much. Drinking several litres over a short period of time could cause water intoxication leading to problems with brain, heart and muscle function. This is unusual, but people who exercise intensively need to be aware of the dangers of overhydration. FITNESS


I am a 45-year-old man who would like to build up muscle, but am a complete beginner. Can you recommend some exercises to start with? TONY GALLAGHER WRITES:

After warming up, rotating your joints and A stretching, consider the following routine: Squat downwards quickly, but not so that your buttocks are below your knees, and come up slowly. Do three sets of 12 squats, followed by two to three sets of eight to 12 press-ups counting down for two and coming up for two. Keep your neck in line with your spine and your tummy tight; this will work the core muscles in addition to the chest and shoulders. If using weights, do bicep curls, then tricep extensions for balance. Three sets of eight repetitions is ideal.


I am a fairly fit woman who suffers from minor back problems. What are the best stretches to keep supple? TONY GALLAGHER WRITES:

As long as it doesn’t cause any pain, try the A traditional “cat stretch”, on all fours, coming down to a horizontal position before arching again (below). Repeat eight times and hold for 20-30 seconds. Later, and again in the all fours position, move sideways and then gently bring your arm back in a semi circle, thereby causing a gentle twisting of the spine. Repeat six

times on both sides. Finally lie on your back and bring both knees into your chest and rock from side to side: this will stretch your lower back nicely. FAMILY/EDUCATION


The teacher has put the class trouble-maker next to my daughter, and it is disrupting her work. What should I do? BERNADETTE TYNAN WRITES:

The theory behind this common classroom A strategy is to put a trouble-

maker next to a well-behaved child and calm results. In reality, it can fail students like your daughter miserably. Act now. Arrange a mutually convenient appointment with the teacher. Remain calm, even if you want to scream, and stick to your objective: to get the trouble-maker away from your child’s side. Remember teachers can’t remove trouble-makers from classrooms without a lengthy process. Work with the teacher, school and parents who share your concern to achieve a solution.


My child has spent the whole summer trampolining and seems to be almost addicted. Should I be worried? BERNADETTE TYNAN WRITES:

Nasa has used trampolining in astronaut A programmes because it is an excellent brain and body workout. Each second a child takes their whole body up into the air and then comes down again, their brain is actually working very hard. It is thinking how it can refine its strategy so that it launches and lands better each time. As long as your child takes regular breaks and their average day includes a variety of activities, you need not worry. If your trampoline can safely accommodate adults, use it yourself to refresh mind and body after a busy day. HEALTH


A couple of months ago I suddenly developed pins and needles in my arms and legs. I had been taking vitamin pills and supplements and I’m worried this is a side effect, so I stopped right away. DR DAN RUTHERFORD WRITES:

A Ittoistakepossible too

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FACT: The dog with the record for holding the most tennis balls in its mouth (five) is a golden retriever named Augie in Dallas, Texas many vitamins and supplements, but if you were using the recommended doses and bought them from a reputable outlet in the UK, it is unlikely that this is the problem. The sudden onset of your symptoms is the clue here. Although there are many possible explanations, I think there is a high chance you have a bulging disc between the vertebrae in your neck, which is pressing on your spinal cord. A scan of the neck will show this up. You need to see your GP as soon as possible.


I am considering the cervical cancer vaccine for my 12-year-old daughter, but am worried about side effects. Could you outline the pros and cons? DR DAN RUTHERFORD WRITES:


Vaccination against Human Papilloma Virus, preferably given to girls before they become sexually active, should dramatically reduce the likelihood they will develop cervical cancer 10 to 20 years later – but this is yet to be proven. The two commercially available vaccines (Cervarix and Gardasil) give very little in the way of immediate side effects. Cancer protection is not complete,

however, and cervical screening will still be necessary. The vaccine gives no protection against other sexually transmitted diseases. Falls in the numbers of women having cervical screening, or a rise in STDs through a false sense of security, are possible longerterm risks. PETS


We have a nine-month-old springer spaniel, Rosie, who rolls over to greet us when we come home, then urinates. She performs this routine for all family members, but not for people she dislikes. Punishment has got us nowhere and we fear we may have to give her up. DR ROGER MUGFORD WRITES:

You shouldn’t punish Rosie for her weak A bladder; the paradox is that if you reward her, the problem will go away. Family and friends should bring titbits to scatter about for her to scavenge rather than fussing over her. If you distract her from the social side of greetings, she will not urinate. Walk through the house to the garden, where Rosie can perform simple obedience exercises, such

MEET OUR LIFECOACHES BERNADETTE TYNAN Bernadette coaches parents on how to help their children develop their natural gifts and get the best out of school. The author of Make Your Child Brilliant and Your Child Can Think Like a Genius, she has featured on BBC current affairs programmes, presented her own television series for Channel Five, and appeared on chat shows such as Richard and Judy. “Every child is an absolute original,” she says. ROGER MUGFORD Since founding the Surrey-based Animal Behaviour Centre in 1979, Roger has helped hundreds of pet owners with problem animals. He’s an inventor too: “It was the combination of my back problems and a large, aggressive Irish Wolfhound called Ben that inspired me to invent the first canine headcollar,” he says. A renowned animal psychologist, Roger will answer your questions on dogs, cats, birds, farm animals, rabbits and rodents – anything from feather plucking to phobias. TONY GALLAGHER Co-owner of the London Academy of Personal Fitness, Tony has been a fitness consultant and personal trainer for the past 20 years, working with young and old, from the fitness-shy to

stressed-out executives. He has published Weight Training For Beginners – a guide to building muscle, burning fat and increasing energy. He believes keeping fit is about “getting out there, doing an activity you love, which is good for your mind, as well as body”. To date, he has run 24 marathons. SARA STANNER A registered nutritionist who has worked for over 15 years in heart disease research and public health, Sara was inspired by her passion for food to enter the profession, as well as by a desire to help people improve their quality of life through healthy eating. She works for the British Nutrition Foundation, a charity that promotes wellbeing. “It may be a cliché,” she says “but the key to good nutrition is variety, moderation and balance.” DR DAN RUTHERFORD Dan has been a GP since 1986, running a practice in St Andrews, Fife. In 2000 he became medical director of NetDoctor UK, responsible for the content of the health website – a bank of information that aims to demystify medicine. Dan also has a keen interest in homeopathy. He says: “You get only one life – a healthy lifestyle lets you do more with it, for longer.”

as “sit-stay”, rewarded by more titbits.


Bella is a seven-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier who is terrified of bangs such as fireworks and thunder storms. What can we do? DR ROGER MUGFORD WRITES:


Dogs (but not cats) are prone to forming bang phobias. It affects both sexes

of any breed, but usually only older dogs, thus the importance of accustoming puppies to loud bangs. Early exposure of puppies to the loud noises associated with 21st century living can, to an extent, immunise them to developing phobias later on. Here are some tips to ease Bella’s fears: provide Bella with a retreat den where she can feel secure (it may be a

cupboard under the stairs); turn up the music or television and try to distract her with favourite toys. Alternatively, rapid-acting homeopathic remedies can dramatically calm dogs even in the acute phase of their fears. Opinions expressed on this page should be treated as general advice. Seek help from your own practitioner.


The Sunday Telegraph Life Coach, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT or email Reader response If you have any comments or advice on any of the topics, get in touch at the above address. Best entries will be published.

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Average distance travelled by bike in 2005/6 (Social Trends 38, 2008)



Keen to take to two wheels but daunted by lycra? Harriot Lane Fox selects the best of the new sit-up-and-begs, built for comfort, speed and style






PRICE £545

PRICE £750

PRICE £215

PRICE £437

PRICE £479

MADE BY Pashley

MADE BY Velorution


MADE BY Littlehampton Dutch Bike Company

MADE BY Hotlines

01789 292263,

020 7637 4004;

01494 529980,

01903 730089;

0131 319 1444,

Pashley has been in business since 1926 and its sit-up-and-beg is just the sort of bike you’ll see wobbling through period sitcoms, often with a posh murderer on board. The spec, however, is super-modern: five gears, a ding-dong bell, lights, lock, leather saddle, basket and rear carrier.

This old-school, balloon-tyre bike from Leipzig, Germany, mixes styles from the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies and puts a smile on riders’ faces. The fat tyres are a playful contrast with the light frame and protect you from bumps. Klaus has three gears, a bell, lights and leather saddle, and comes in eight colours.

Bronx is British but manufactures in Taiwan, hence its prices. The VeloMarché is a “ladies shopper” (more dated than retro) but its small 20in wheels would make it hard work pedalling with lots of swag. It is value for

The big 28in wheels of this three-speed Dutch bike make it hard to swing your leg over the saddle so the step-through frame suits both sexes. The importer rode his from Land’s End to John o’ Groats, in jeans not Lycra, with lots of cappuccino stops. It has lights, a lock and bell, and reinforced rear spokes.

Electra has crossbred two classics, the American cruiser, popular in the post-war baby boom, and the Dutch bike, to create a bicycle that draws drooling stares over here. For a hint of California, choose this sunflower design (there are four more colours). It has three gears with lights and bell.








Life - Sept 7, 2008  

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