Instil Design runs for award

Round & About

Home & Garden

Martina Landhed, from Oxford business InStil Design Ltd, has been nominated as a finalist for the prestigious kbbreview Retail & Design Awards for the third time.

This time in the category; Bathroom Designer of the Year, projects costing over £25,000 category. The kbbreview Retail & Design Awards are a celebration of the very best retailers, designers and manufacturers in the kitchen and bathroom industry nationwide, celebrating their 27th year in 2021.

InStil Design Ltd Managing Director Martina said: “Being announced as a finalist among several hundreds of national designers is fantastic news, and I am delighted to be down to the final four.

“My desire is to always inspire and help my clients to realise the potential in their bathrooms. I aim to take their dreams and turn them into reality, whilst offering as personal service as possible.”

Martina has previously won the kbbreview Award Bathroom Designer of the year 2013, project costing up to £10k, and in 2017 Bathroom Designer of the year project cost £10 to £25k. She’s been running InStil Design with her knowledgeable and service-minded team from a boutique style showroom just outside Oxford since 2013.

The next stage of the 2021 competition sees the finalists present their designs via video presentation to the KBB panel of judges who will then determine who has best met the competition brief. The criteria include aesthetics, problem solving, product and material choice, uniqueness of idea, design initiative, and value for money.

The winner will be announced at the kbbreview Retail & Design Awards 2021 event that this year will take place on September 15th at Liverpool’s St Georges Hall, and promises to be the biggest industry post-lockdown party of the year.


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Interview with local artist Catherine Cook

Liz Nicholls

Home & Garden

“From an early age growing up on the family farm, inspiration was never far away, whether it be our rescue dog asleep in the chair, my dad’s herd of Charolais cattle, to the farm buildings around me, I would be sketching.”

Catherine Cook’s desire to draw and create has taken her down several paths since she studied decorative crafts at art college and university, but drawing has always been her starting point whichever medium she is aiming for – glass, digital graphic or paint.

Having gained her degree she worked for a number of years in an auctioneers office but says “the yearning to create was always there” and so she returned to the pursuit of developing her glass artwork.

With the arrival of her two boys, family life took over and creativity was on hold briefly until the creation of a family birthday gift involving a collection of watercolour dog portraits took Catherine back to her paints and pencils and she has been drawing pet portraits continually ever since, working in watercolour, oil paint and pen and ink.

“When I paint a pet portrait for a client, I feel there is a great responsibility to capture the special character, which is achieved through seeing those fine details accurately,” Catherine explained.

“The power of a portrait and the emotional response from clients, when presented with the final artwork can be very moving and rewarding.”

“The process of drawing and observing your subject is a discipline which makes you stop and really look; this is an aspect I especially enjoy. You can become completely absorbed in the process of drawing, it is therapeutic, it is a form of escaping all other busy thoughts. During lockdown weeks, anytime I could find to draw was valued.

”Living in the Hampshire countryside she never tires of watching the seasons change and enjoys having an “endless list of plants, wildlife and breeds of animals to draw”. And her work can be enjoyed through everyday objects such as greeting cards, tea towels and coasters.

Catherine added: “I love constantly seeing new ideas around me on every country walk and during these lockdown months, there have been many!

“I take photos when out and about and use the images to build compositions. Capturing those magical countryside moments of a Robin chirping on a branch or a squirrel busy in the garden, greatly inspires my artwork style.”

While in-person events have not been possible – and much missed – you can discover Catherine’s work at thecatherinegallery.co.uk and shop on Etsy.com


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Coffee delivery to perk us up!

Liz Nicholls

Home & Garden

Roots and Rose is a brother and sister duo, want to take the hassle out of finding great-tasting coffee, by doing the hard work for you.

They both know the coffee industry having worked in it for over 13 years. They also understand many people working from home may need that pick me up.

Set up from their homes in Frimley and Woking during the first lockdown, Chris and Catherine Rose. They both know that now, more than ever, it’s important to sit and chat over a great cup of coffee (via Zoom!). Ranging from individual bags to gift boxes, there’s something for everyone.

Their gift boxes, named after the family dogs, consist of The Arnie, The Henry and The Tilly, ranging in size and amount. The Arnie includes three x 127g cafetiere coffee; The Henry offers three x 227g cafetiere coffee and The Tilly, 2 x 227g cafetiere coffee and a cafetiere. Due to the popular demand for beans, they have added the Jack’s Beans to their website with the Surrey Beans soon to be released.

The R&R subscription service is the best of Roots and Rose, direct to your door, every month. Each month you’ll receive a 127g or 227g bag of one of their three coffees (on a three-month cycle), with no minimum commitment.

All the coffee is ethically sourced, hand-roasted, and hand-packed in the UK. R&R roast to order which means it holds its taste and is super fresh.

To find out more and try for yourself, visit rootsandrose.co.uk


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Book a plant clinic appointment

Round & About

Home & Garden

Plant or garden dilemma? Grab a free Gardeners’ Question Time Plant Clinic slot with garden guru & Miracle-Gro this week.

999: WHAT’S YOUR PLANT EMERGENCY? From black spot to drooping leaves, now you can self-refer your plant for a live diagnosis at the Miracle-Gro Plant Clinic

Being a plant parent isn’t always easy! Despite our best efforts, our plants aren’t always in their best shape, and there’s always lots to learn about how to care for them – but now Miracle-Gro (www.lovethegarden.com) is offering free virtual Plant Clinic appointments with gardening guru Kate Turner to help bring your plants back to life.

Kate has years of gardening knowledge at her (green) fingertips, with experience on ITV’s Love Your Garden, BBC’s Garden Rescue, as a horticultural tutor at The Therapy Garden and as head gardener at Charterhouse School in Godalming.

Each day of the Plant Clinic will have its own plant-specialism to suit whatever questions you may have.

Plant Parenthood, Monday 29th March:

Whether it’s your first-time gardening and you’re not sure where to start, or you’re going to grow your fruit and veg crop from seed this year, Kate can answer all your questions and give you lots of tips.

Nutritious Growing, Tuesday 30th March:

The second day of the plant clinic is dedicated to all of your grow-your-own needs. Kate will be able to give advice on the best ways to grow your own fruit and veg and diagnose problems that you might have encountered. If your tomatoes caught blight last year or your courgettes didn’t flower, make sure they thrive this year by booking in with Kate.

Showstoppers, Wednesday 31st March:

Some plants are just for show, so get yours looking their absolute best this season. The Plant Clinic is open for anything from how to grow stunning roses and ornamental flowers, to bold, beautiful houseplants that need a little bit of help. Kate can guide you to enjoy your own flower show.

GP (General Plant) Surgery, Thursday 1st April:

If your needs don’t fit within one of the above, or you’re just looking for general gardening advice, then book a GP appointment with Kate for a check-up.

Plant Clinic bookings are now open for one person and their plant-patient to discuss their growing grievances with plant doctor and gardening expert, Kate Turner. With 20-minute Plant Clinic appointments on offer over the four-day period, which can be booked here.

To find out more, visit www.lovethegarden.com/plantclinic


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Spring has sprung so let’s celebrate!

Liz Nicholls

Home & Garden

Bees are buzzing, flowers are blooming, and the sun is shining: spring is here!

We’ve teamed up with Wiltshire creative company eatsleepdoodle who are celebrating our springtime burst of wonderful wildlife waiting to be spotted. From butterflies to badgers, wild garlic to woodpeckers, there are so many things to look out for!

Butterfly watch

What wildlife can you spot this time of year? Well, we’ve been in touch with Butterfly Conservation, and they have kindly given us a picture guide as to what butterflies and moths you can expect to see in April and May.

Some have even appeared early this year! You’ll see on Butterfly Conservation’s Instagram account, that an Orange-tip (anthocharis cardamines) was spotted in Kent at the beginning of March!

Orange-tip butterfly photograph by Tim Bates and Joanne Fegan

A common butterfly to see all across Britain, according to the Butterfly Conservation’s research, is the Common Blue (part of the Blues family and similar to the Adonis Blue!). They enjoy sunny, sheltered areas, and some of the most common places to find a Common Blue include grass and woodland clearings, road verges and coastal dunes. The male butterflies are the most colourful; bright with a beautiful light blue upper-wing; whereas the females are more muted and usually have larger areas of brown.

Another common butterfly in Britain is the Peacock. The underside of their wings is camouflaged to be hidden amongst leaves, but their upper-wing has beautiful bright colours, which help confuse and startle any predators. They can be found across the British Isles and are most often found in gardens!

Also keep an eye out for the Large White, the winner of the 2020 Big Butterfly Count, these lovely butterflies enjoy a variety of habitats, but can usually be seen in gardens and allotments.

Common Blue

Peacock

Large White

Butterfly Conservation

Butterfly Conservation is a wonderful organisation, aiming to recover threatened species of moths and butterflies, increase numbers of widespread species, promote international conservation actions, and inspire people to understand and take part in conservation.

Last year’s Big Butterfly Count saw the ‘lowest numbers recorded in 11 years’. The average number of butterflies logged by Butterfly Conservation in 2020 was down by 34% in comparison to 2019. However, last year a record number of people contributed to the count, ‘it seems that, in a very dark and challenging year, the opportunity for getting out into nature and helping as citizen scientists were very welcome to people who were able to participate in the Count this year. Butterfly Conservation is thrilled the event was enjoyed by so many people.’

More information on how to get involved with and contribute to Butterfly Conservation’s work can be found on their website here.

Other wildlife

It’s not just butterflies that Spring brings, soon we’ll see new life popping up everywhere! Badger cubs begin to emerge, mallard ducklings start their adventures and frogspawn can be spotted in ponds across the UK. The dawn chorus will get louder and more persistent as the fledglings take flight and more birds are looking to mate.

Spring birds are ready to be found in gardens and woodland across the UK. Cuckoos are calling, woodpeckers are hard at work (carving a nest hole in a tree trunk!) and blue tits can frequently be seen hopping around the garden in search of snacks.

Woodpecker – photo by Strong Fish

Blue Tit – photo by dfkt

The RSPB have a great article about common garden birds to look out for here – this can also help identify the birds you are seeing in your garden in the coming Spring months.

As well as birds and butterflies, other small wildlife venture out in the Spring, like hedgehogs! Did you know that hedgehogs roam an average of one mile each night looking for food? That’s a long way on little legs! Waking up from their hibernation, hedgehogs love gardens as they provide the perfect habitat.

How can you help wildlife?

Gardens provide them with plenty of food and potential nesting sites. Hedgehogs like to eat creepy crawlies, however, during dry periods these can become sparse. You can create a small home and supplement food for hedgehogs in your garden. A shallow dish of water will benefit them hugely and even meat-based dog or cat food can be left out for them. Springwatch suggests that logs, leaves, twigs and natural garden compost make an ideal home for these small creatures (and bumblebees too), if you keep a pile in your garden – visitors may start to appear!

Hedgehog photo by Alicja Gancarz

Another way you can encourage wildlife at home is by letting your lawn grow and trying to establish a flower-rich lawn. This is a great way to encourage bees. Something as simple as leaving a strip of long grass or planting wildflower seeds or nectar plants can help bees, and butterflies too! Recently, we’ve noticed a lot more places such as churchyards and village greens-leaving large sections of grass or lawns uncut as a safe place for bees and other small wildlife.

Don’t forget that if you see a bee struggling, you can gently pick it up (we recommend using a piece of paper!) and give them a few small drops of water with sugar or honey – this should give them a boost! Another great idea is a bee house – this is a collection of small (usually wooden) tubes that bees can use to lay their eggs in.

Plants & flowers

Spring sees a whole new world of colour from gorgeous plants and flowers! The start of Spring is when we see beautiful blossom and daffodils begin to flower, both of which create an instant atmosphere as they open up quickly in the sun.

Whilst these bold blooms begin the month of March, towards April we begin to see the bright hues of bluebells and smell the strong aroma of wild garlic (yum!). Head to any wooded area for your bluebell fix. Bluebells fill the forest floor with a cool blue tone, an added pop of colour to the regular muted tones. Did you know that over half of the world’s population of the iconic bluebells are grown in the UK? Bees love them and we have ants to thank for helping spreading their seeds!

Wild garlic is not only charming but delicious as well! Spending most of the time as a bulb underground, wild garlic then emerges with gorgeous white flowers that explode onto the green leaves during April and May with an amazing firework-like flower. It is the perfect plant for pollinating insects such as butterflies and hoverflies. You can also make your own pesto with wild garlic – scrumptious!!

What are you most looking forward to this spring? We’re excited to see some brighter days ahead and being able to take in the magical spring delights. And we’ll be making full use of our pond life tablecloth and tote bag and butterfly collection to keep track of what wildlife we can spot this year! With bird seed, butterfly references and a pesto recipe at hand, off we go into another enchanting springtime!

Win a Pond Life Tablecloth

We’ve teamed up with Wiltshire’s eatsleepdoodle to encourage you to notice the wildlife all around you and give you the chance to win a Pond Life Colour and Learn tablecloth. To enter to win, all you have to do is follow eatsleepdoodle on social media and tag eatsleepdoodle & Round & About in your wildlife pics on Instagram before Easter Monday (5th April). We can’t wait to see your creations!

Usual Round & About competition T&C’s apply.

So get outdoors and enjoy the nature around you this Spring!


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Liven your home with green walls

Round & About

Home & Garden

Gardarica offers ‘living walls’ tailor made to the needs of your home, garden or business from design to construction

The last year had us all spending much more time indoors, whether due to lockdown or self-isolating. It is more important than ever to create a living space that is refreshing both aesthetically and to create a better atmosphere to live and work.

Living Walls has been the new thing for interior design and landscape design, and an amazing solution for a quick and easy renovation, breathing life to your home.

Benefits of green walls

Improved mental & physical health

The presence of living walls reduce bacteria, mould and dust, ensuring that your environment is healthier. People in spaces with green walls experience less headaches and tiredness than people in traditional homes. A greener environment will make your home more relaxing and allow for better productivity.

Better air quality & flow

Living walls purify the air converting harmful particles into oxygen. Studies have shown that better air quality leads to a more positive mood. This is a fantastic way to make your property a more positive environment.

Temperature Control

Living walls naturally regulate the temperature in your space, creating a pleasant atmosphere.

They simply look great!

Apart from all the practical benefits, a simple fact remains, a green wall looks fantastic and it will lift your mood!

Did you know?

There are several plants that boost your immune system and limit viruses in the atmosphere

There are plants, like Aloe Vera and many more, that produce oxygen even in night time

You can choose to have a green wall designed and constructed for you, or if you are on a low budget you could even start one yourself

Gardarica uses patented products from recycled oceanic plastics to create a unique design that matches your needs and budget.

Contact Gardarica to find out more at or call 020 398 319 60.

 

For our tips on how to show your home some love, click here

Keep memories alive with Fusions Craft

Round & About

Home & Garden

Discover millions of creative and crafty ways to share your life stories for future generations

In the time of the most advanced technology on record, the most money humankind has ever had, and more ways to get entertained you could possibly wish for, the strange truth is that the levels of stress, depression, and anxiety are also the highest they’ve ever been.

According to studies, children doing GCSEs today experience the same levels of stress as veterans in the times of the Vietnam war. How did it happen exactly that as we’re moving faster and faster toward the next thing exclusively designed to make us happy, we often feel like the most important thing is missing?

How does today’s lifestyle affect our mental health and what psychological benefits can art provide? Is it true that art cleanses your soul? And if it does, could it make you feel so much better you’ll actually feel the difference?

According to the world-renowned scientist Mikhailo Csikszentmihalyi, the feeling of flow created by intensely crafting (for example, writing, scrapbooking, working with clay) can cardinally change your life, infusing it with never before seen clarity, passion, purpose, and quantifiable changes in happiness. Don’t take our word for it though!

Although it can feel like modern technologies have taken over our lives to the point where our phones are controlling how we feel, how much time we spend with our family, and who watches our every move, you’ll find that there is one simple solution that includes a surprisingly old technology.

Have you ever felt that visceral emotion brought back by music or perfume or place when you remember your loved ones? Memories could very well be the most important thing in our lives, and it would be a great shame for them to fade with time.

As a family business, we know there’s nothing more important than family. With Fusions Craft, you can discover a panacea to stress, frustration, and a way of stopping the frenetic rat race and slowing downtime to a halt so you can spend it in a truly Buddhist fashion, inspecting scrapbooks you created.

In the days to come, the next generations will cherish these and learn about you with tender wonder. It’s one thing to hear about your grandma’s life story, but it’s entirely different to see the photos and feel the smell of the ink.

Fusions Craft specializes in the almost lost art of keeping your memories alive. Starting off as a small hobby, the craft unfolded and grew like a flower leaning toward the sun; soon it became a family business that specializes in scrapbooking supplies: if you need
• Paper & Card,
• Scrapbooking paper,
• Stencils,
• Embossing powder and Moulds
• and tons of other supplies you can possibly think of, you’re in the right place.

Why Fusions Craft?

Fusions craft is about so much more than photo albums. We provide you with every tool you can think of so you can produce nothing less than works of art to tell the most amazing stories, like so:

With stencils, moulds, flowers, embellishments, stamps, sprays, and much, much more, you can discover the magic of artistry that can be taken with you anywhere.

Learn of a million different ways of decorating the pages of your love stories, family sagas, photos of children and travels, adventures, tales of forest fires and heroic doctors, life wisdom learned from the darkest nights, indescribable beauty and courage and faith – with items that best reflect the emotions that will now, thanks to your contribution, will never be lost to the world.

2020 may have been called the most difficult year in history, but it also saw humans at undoubtedly their best: we saved animals in burning forests, spent more time with our family and loved ones, cried together, got saved by governments we criticized so much, stoically battled the virus and died like heroes, gave each other masks, and helped strangers.

Fusions Craft is your chance to let those who will come after know how we stood together even though we were forced to be apart. Create postcards, panels, decorate boxes, build mesmerizing scrapbooks with photos of your loved ones, adventures, your stories, unique moments caught on camera, and all those things you’d be heart-broken to forget. Now you never will.

It’s up to you what you want to remember. You could choose to remember this year as the toughest on record. Or you can keep documentary proof that along with everything that happened in 2020, it actually didn’t make us less human but instead much more. How will you remember this year?

Fusions Craft isn’t just a shop. It’s a place where you will write history.

Our Website: fusionscraft.com

Read our tips on creating a locldown time capsule

The GREAT outdoors!

Round & About

Home & Garden

We’ve never appreciated being outside more than we do now and with more gradually opening up to us, let’s get out and enjoy it

It’s the time of year when we’re normally thinking about going on holiday and spending as much time as possible outside – and with more of us likely to opt for staycations and short breaks closer to home this year, where do you start?

Fingers crossed, campsites are preparing to reopen this month with social distancing measures and a limited number of places, some will reopen second fields while others will introduce measures such as a system including timed use of showers.

If you’re a camping virgin, The Camping and Caravanning Club is a great place to start with all you need and some helpful advice:

• Stay in the open air – there are many physical and well-being benefits of camping and caravanning thanks to spending time in the fresh air

• Stay local – there will be a campsite near you, there’s no need to travel far for a change of scene and the local economies will benefit too

• Stay comfortable – there will be social distancing measures in place when they’re able to re-open campsites

The Club’s Director General Sabina Voysey said: “We believe the great outdoors will never feel greater and we can’t wait for the day when we’re able to welcome people back to our campsites. By sharing our handy guides, top tips and online content we hope we can introduce even more people to the joys of camping and caravanning.”

TV presenter Julia Bradbury is president of The Camping and Caravanning Club and created The Outdoor Guide (TOG) website to share her love of all things outdoors.

She said: “Green spaces are incredibly important to me. And they don’t have to be big, wide open landscapes. Yes, I love the Peak District and the Lake District, and Dartmoor and I love exploring the wilds of Scotland, but green spaces, parks, gardens, even simple window boxes. These ‘little bits of green’ or smaller green environs are equally important.

“Growing something, for example, in a window box is a way to connect with nature. And that is something that we have evolved to do. And it’s an important part of our makeup. We know for example, that time spent in green spaces, whether that is parks or bigger landscapes, either of those, time spent in green spaces is good for us.”

For many time spent in outdoor spaces means enjoying a walk and while Julia won’t commit to a favourite she explained that was the reasoning behind TOG: “People have been asking me for years and years about my favourite walks or where I like to stay or the pub that I was at, or where I was when I had that pie and pint, or that little woodshop that I called into, or the blacksmith/carpenter I talked to…

“So we’ve put all of that information up on the website and there are hundreds and hundreds of really good walks up on there. It’s not fair for me to say a favourite walk because I just like being out there.

“And it depends where you live. Some people will never get to the other side of the country. They’ll explore what they’ve got on their doorstep and that’s absolutely fine as well.

“Of course, the Peak District would always have a special place in my heart as will the Lake District because that’s where I made my first TV walks – The Wainwright walks – filming in the footsteps of Alfred Wainwright, so those two places are special.”

Julia believes it’s just important for people to get out and enjoy it, especially now. She added: “A University of Exeter study of nearly 20,000 people in England last year revealed people who spend at least 120 minutes a week in nature are significantly more likely to report good health and higher psychological well being, than those who don’t visit nature at all.

“One hundred and twenty minutes a week is nothing but the benefits to all are enormous, quite simply nature and green spaces help to keep us healthy. Governments that don’t recognise this are being incredibly foolish – it’s almost like having a second health service… This study found the majority of nature visits took place within just two miles of people’s homes.”

There’s lots more information on Julia’s website The Outdoor Guide, www.theoutdoorguide.com

UK tourism industry site Visit Britain is developing a quality mark for tourism businesses, including campsites, in response to Covid-19. It aims to reassure visitors businesses are complying with government guidelines.

The National Trust is reopening some of its properties but with many restrictions still in place. Visitors can now walk in some of its open spaces locally – White Horse Hill at Uffington; Buscot and Coleshill Estate in Wiltshire; the Chilterns countryside; Ashdown, Lambourn; Bibury, Gloucestershire and Stonehenge landscape. Car parks have reopened at these sites, some with limited space on a first come first served basis.

Some sites have been able to reopen further with gardens, parklands, estates and car parks welcoming visitors. Booking is essential at all properties although the houses themselves will not be open. Those you can now visit locally include: Cliveden and Basildon Park in Berkshire; Stowe, Waddesdon and Hughendon, all in Buckinghamshire; Buscot Park and Greys Court in Oxfordshire.

Visit the National Trust website for details
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/how-to-book-your-visit-and-what-to-expect

A National Trust spokesperson said: “We knew that once we started a gradual opening of our gardens and parklands, tickets for our places would be very popular; particularly with such fine weather.

“We’ve made careful decisions about which gardens and parklands can open, and we have limited their capacity to ensure everyone can adhere to social distancing to maintain the safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers, which remains our top priority.”

Historic Blenheim Palace in Woodstock has also reopened its formal gardens and walks for visitors to enjoy. Again booking for dates and times is essential as numbers are limited. The Palace has introduced a number of safety measures such as installing hand washing facilities and sanitisers, operating a cashless system and screens at kiosks. Visit www.blenheimpalace.com/ for all you need to know.

Walk around the beautiful gardens of Stonor Park near Henley which has welcomed visitors again and enjoy the offerings from street food vendors too. Pre-booked tickets are a must with timed entry only. The street food will also need to be booked in advance. For more information and to book visit www.stonor.com

You can also enjoy a walk around Windsor Great Park, observing the now customary restrictions and Savill Garden has reopened to friends and members as well with a further phased opening planned to welcome more people to appreciate the splendour of the gardens.

Make the most of the English outdoors and celebrate it as The Camping and Caravanning Club says on its website ‘the good times will never feel better’ and ‘the outside will never feel greater’.

• Share with us where you like to go. Which places are you longing to get back to? Get in touch with us via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and share your pictures

The GREAT outdoors!

Round & About

Home & Garden

We’ve never appreciated being outside more than we do now and with more gradually opening up to us, let’s get out and enjoy it

t’s the time of year when we’re normally thinking about going on holiday and spending as much time as possible outside – and with more of us likely to opt for staycations and short breaks closer to home this year, where do you start?

Fingers crossed, campsites are preparing to reopen this month with social distancing measures and a limited number of places, some will reopen second fields while others will introduce measures such as a system including timed use of showers.

If you’re a camping virgin, The Camping and Caravanning Club is a great place to start with all you need and some helpful advice:

• Stay in the open air – there are many physical and well-being benefits of camping and caravanning thanks to spending time in the fresh air

• Stay local – there will be a campsite near you, there’s no need to travel far for a change of scene and the local economies will benefit too

• Stay comfortable – there will be social distancing measures in place when they’re able to re-open campsites

The Club’s Director General Sabina Voysey said: “We believe the great outdoors will never feel greater and we can’t wait for the day when we’re able to welcome people back to our campsites. By sharing our handy guides, top tips and online content we hope we can introduce even more people to the joys of camping and caravanning.”

TV presenter Julia Bradbury is president of The Camping and Caravanning Club and created The Outdoor Guide (TOG) website to share her love of all things outdoors. She said: “Green spaces are incredibly important to me. And they don’t have to be big, wide open landscapes. Yes, I love the Peak District and the Lake District, and Dartmoor and I love exploring the wilds of Scotland, but green spaces, parks, gardens, even simple window boxes. These ‘little bits of green’ or smaller green environs are equally important.

“Growing something, for example, in a window box is a way to connect with nature. And that is something that we have evolved to do. And it’s an important part of our makeup. We know for example, that time spent in green spaces, whether that is parks or bigger landscapes, either of those, time spent in green spaces is good for us.”

For many time spent in outdoor spaces means enjoying a walk and while Julia won’t commit to a favourite she explained that was the reasoning behind TOG: “People have been asking me for years and years about my favourite walks or where I like to stay or the pub that I was at, or where I was when I had that pie and pint, or that little woodshop that I called into, or the blacksmith/carpenter I talked to…

“So we’ve put all of that information up on the website and there are hundreds and hundreds of really good walks up on there. It’s not fair for me to say a favourite walk because I just like being out there.
“And it depends where you live. Some people will never get to the other side of the country. They’ll explore what they’ve got on their doorstep and that’s absolutely fine as well.

“Of course, the Peak District would always have a special place in my heart as will the Lake District because that’s where I made my first TV walks – The Wainwright walks – filming in the footsteps of Alfred Wainwright, so those two places are special.”

Julia believes it’s just important for people to get out and enjoy it, especially now. She added: “A University of Exeter study of nearly 20,000 people in England last year revealed people who spend at least 120 minutes a week in nature are significantly more likely to report good health and higher psychological well being, than those who don’t visit nature at all. 120 minutes a week is nothing but the benefits to all are enormous, quite simply nature and green spaces help to keep us healthy. Governments that don’t recognise this are being incredibly foolish – it’s almost like having a second health service… This study found the majority of nature visits took place within just two miles of people’s homes.”

There’s lots more information on Julia’s website The Outdoor Guide, www.theoutdoorguide.com

UK tourism industry site Visit Britain is developing a quality mark for tourism businesses, including campsites, in response to Covid-19. It aims to reassure visitors businesses are complying with government guidelines.

The National Trust is another taking its first tentative steps to reopening some of its properties and the sheer joy of being able to set foot somewhere other than your doorstep or local park is overwhelming.

With many restrictions still in place, the Trust has welcomed visitors to walk in some of its open spaces locally – Runnymede; Witley and Milford Commons; Frensham Little Pond; Hindhead Commons; Swan Barn Farm, Black Down and Marley Common in Haslemere; Petworth; Lavington Common at Woolbeding; Selborne Common and Hydon’s Ball and Heath, Godalming. Car parks have reopened at these sites, some
with limited space on a first come first served basis.

As from the beginning of June, some of its sites have been able to reopen further with gardens, parklands, estates and car parks welcoming visitors. Booking is essential at all properties although the houses themselves will not be open.

Those you can now visit locally are: Hinton Ampner, Mottisfont and The Vyne in Hampshire; Polesden Lacey, Hatchlands Park, Claremont and Winkworth Arboretum in Surrey and Standen House and Garden and Nymans, West Sussex.

Visit the National Trust website for details, www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/how-to-book-your-visit-and-what-to-expect

A National Trust spokesperson said: “We knew that once we started a gradual opening of our gardens and parklands, tickets for our places would be very popular; particularly with such fine weather.

“We’ve made careful decisions about which gardens and parklands can open, and we have limited their capacity to ensure everyone can adhere to social distancing to maintain the safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers, which remains our top priority.”

Historic Painshill is welcoming visitors again with appropriate social distancing measures in place. The grotto, upper floors of the Gothic Tower and gift shop are closed but the tearoom is open for takeaways and picnics can be enjoyed in the grounds. Bookings must be made in advance and entry numbers are restricted, visit www.painshill.co.uk/visiting-painshill-covid-19-pandemic/
RHS Wisley has also partially reopened to the public, again with limitations on numbers and with areas such as glasshouses, alpine houses, bird hides and play areas staying closed.

Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, said: “We are delighted the government has said it is safe to reopen our RHS Gardens because it is proven that spending time outside in green open spaces surrounded by plants has an immensely positive effect on our health.

“We look forward to welcoming our members and visitors safely back and to bringing the joy of plants, flowers, trees and nature back into people’s lives, which for so many will be a much-needed tonic.”

There is limited capacity to comply with government guidelines and booking is essential. Visit https://tinyurl.com/y9l7b4gs

Make the most of the English outdoors and celebrate it as The Camping and Caravanning Club says on its website ‘the good times will never feel better’ and ‘the outside will never feel greater’.