Travel – Park Life

Park Life

Looking for a holiday with a sense of freedom and laid-back fun? Then try a self-drive camping holiday abroad…

Gone are the days when a visit to a campsite meant pitching your own tent in a field and visiting the loo blocks in the middle of the night with a torch. Campsites have moved on – a lot. In fact, they’re more often described as holiday parks, as, alongside the traditional pitches for caravans and tents, they have a variety of accommodation that’s available to hire with a wealth of facilities.

There are thousands of them on the Continent, from France to Croatia and Switzerland, by seasides, next to lakes, nestled among mountains, or near historic cities, if sightseeing is your thing.

You can choose to stay in the likes of a mobile home, chalet, cottage or canvas tent. With modern conveniences and private spaces, often with your own barbecue, they have just the right level of luxury and families with small children, or those who are less able, don’t have to worry about climbing numerous stairs or the safety of children on balconies.

Most sites have swimming pools, some have tennis courts or water parks with slides, and there are play areas for toddlers to teenagers. There are often kids’ clubs and activities such as horse riding, mountain biking, archery and wakeboarding. For the adults there are on-site restaurants, bars and shops, and some have their own gyms and spas. But the real beauty of a holiday such as this is that at most locations, you can arrive and depart on any day, and stay as long as you like. We visited two popular parks – in France and Italy – to see what you get for your money.

Domaine de la Bergerie, Roquebrune-sur-Argens, Côte d’Azur, France

Roquebrune-sur-Argens, France – June 19, 2013: Historic old town of Roquebrune-sur-Argens in the Department Var of the province Provence-Alpes-Cote d´Azur

Part of Les Castels – a chain of four- and five-star campsites in stunning locations – this campsite is set in the heart of the French Riviera between Cannes and Saint-Tropez. It takes its name from the farm that once occupied the site and the restaurant is located in the centuries-old sheep barn.

Set amid a wooded nature reserve, it has large pitches for caravans, tents and motorhomes, and modern mobile homes and cottages for hire surrounded by greenery.

Do as much or as little as you like – as well as a heated indoor pool, it has a large outdoor pool complex with slides, a river feature, a jacuzzi, a sauna, a Turkish bath, massage, reflexology and a gym. Activities are organised daily and there are shows and discos in the evening.

It has its own supermarket and bakery too, so there would be little reason to leave the site were it not for its fantastic location in the heart of the Var region – with typical Provençal villages set in hills covered with vineyards and olive trees – and just a few miles from the beaches of the Mediterranean.

Four to explore

ROQUEBRUNE-SUR- ARGENS
A short drive from the campsite, this little medieval village of winding streets and painted houses lies in the shadow of the Rocher de Roquebrune.
An energetic hike – not for the faint-hearted – from the village will take you to the
top, where you will find three different-shaped crosses: the sculptures, by the conceptual artist Bernar Venet, are a tribute to the Renaissance artists Giotto, Grünewald and El Greco. Take time to enjoy the panoramic view towards Fréjus, Estelle, the Argens valley and, in the very far distance, the Alps.

LES GORGES DU VERDON

This giant groove in the mountains of Var forms one of Europe’s biggest canyons. One of Les Issambres is home to several beautiful beaches the must-see natural wonders of central Provence, it is home to birds of prey such as vultures and eagles. While there is no road up the gorge, there is a breathtaking circular ‘corniche’ route around the rim of the gorge, and plenty of opportunities for boat and kayak hire on the lower end.

LES ISSAMBRES

On the coast lies Les Issambres, arguably one of the most beautiful landscapes
of the Côte d’Azur, with five miles of fine-sand beaches and steep cliffs. The beaches are interspersed between rocky headlands and, depending on the time of the year, you can often find a small beach that isn’t too crowded. The water is so clear on this side of the Bay of Saint-Tropez that snorkels, goggles and nets will keep you and your children amused for hours.

SAINT-TROPEZ

From Les Issambres take a boat ride on Les Bateaux Verts to Saint-Tropez, famous
for its glamour and vibrant nightlife. Once a small port, Saint-Tropez now has more yachts than fishing boats, but there is still plenty of old-world charm under the cosmopolitan exterior if you wander through the narrow back streets. Pay a visit to the Musée de l’Annonciade to discover the work of Matisse, Derain, Signac and Picasso, who were all inspired by the region.

Factfile DOMAINE DE LA BERGERIE: €497 (£430) for seven nights in a two-bedroom cottage between 11 May and 15 June and between 7 September and 3 October. GETTING THERE: Flybe, easyJet and Ryanair fly to Nice, and easyJet also flies to Marseille Provence. CAR HIRE: Book before you go with rhinocarhire. com, and consider insurance to cover car hire excess – see insurefor.com.

TO FIND OUT MORE: camping-castels.co.uk

Del Garda Village and Camping, Peschiera, Italian Lakes

Situated in the pretty town of Peschiera del Garda and a short stroll away from the lakeside, Eurocamp’s Del Garda Village and Camping offers a relaxing break with many leisure activities. The parc is very clean with a family- friendly feel. Lodges are compact but bright and airy with air conditioning and there’s a charcoal barbecue outside. Hire a bike to explore the area – there are lots of routes for all abilities. Sporty types can play tennis, football, basketball and beach volleyball, and have use of the indoor gym. There are four pools, including two for children with waterslides. Entertainment is centred on the family with a mini disco, themed dance shows and live music. There’s an enclosed play area for children and a games room.

On-site dining includes a large restaurant serving Italian and international cuisine, an ice cream kiosk, a pizzeria and a lovely bar with a terrace overlooking the entertainment area. The small supermarket is ideal for essentials and there is a large supermarket a five-minute drive or 15-minute walk away.

FIVE TO TRY

LAKE GARDA

Italy’s largest lake has more than 20 towns dotted around
it. In the south the landscape is lush and green, while the north offers picturesque views of
the mountains. Relax, swim, snorkel or hire pedalos – there are numerous beaches and bays.

SIRMIONE

The approach to this town is dominated by the Scaligero Castle, a port fortress on the south bank of Lake Garda. See 15th-century churches, thermal springs, historical ruins and Villa Romana, a grand Roman residence. Busy in peak season, the winding streets contain high-end shops, antiquities, eateries and ice cream parlours.

VERONA

With its ancient churches, museums and monuments, Verona is perfect for culture vultures and is perhaps best known as the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Visit the house where the lovers would meet and stand on Juliet’s balcony. The 12th-century Torre dei Lamberti in Piazza delle Erbe offers a 360-degree view of this vibrant city.

GARDALAND
AND CANEVA AQUAPARK
Both within half an hour of Peschiera, Gardaland and Caneva Aquapark offer great days out. Gardaland has rides, shows and an aquarium. The pools and water rides at Caneva Aquapark are ideal in hotter weather.

SIGURTÀ GARDEN PARK

A 15-minute drive from Peschiera, Sigurtà Garden Park has lovingly restored buildings and gardens, the Avenue of Roses, the Medicinal Herbs Garden, Water Gardens and the 400-year-old Great Oak tree.

Factfile DEL GARDA VILLAGE AND CAMPING:

From £245 for seven nights in April for a three-bed Azure lodge with bathroom, deck and air conditioning. To book, visit eurocamp.co.uk. GETTING THERE: Flights from the UK take 2 hours, 20 minutes and return tickets cost around £200 with a number of budget airlines. CAR HIRE: Visit rhinocarhire.com for competitive rates.


Behind the Scenes – Best in Show

Behind the Scenes – Best in Show

Crufts International Dog Show is the largest show of its kind in the world, with nearly 21,000 dogs competing for the prestigious titles over four days. CLARE O’REILLY visited the event to see just what goes on behind the scenes…

Named after its founder, Charles Cruft, a manager in a dog biscuit factory, Crufts dates back to 1891, when the first show was held at the Royal Agricultural Hall in Islington, London, with around 2,000 dogs competing. Since then, Crufts has crowned 78 Best in Show champions from 43 breeds. The event is organised and hosted by The Kennel Club, and while it is still centred as a championship conformation show it also includes competitions such as agility, obedience, flyball and heelwork to music, as well as incorporating a trade show of canine-related goods and services. This year, 20,631 dogs took part, of which more than 3,000 came from more than 45 countries outside the UK. The show, held at the NEC in Birmingham, is spread over 25 acres in five halls with exercise areas and miles of shopping. Cocker Spaniels have won the coveted Best in Show trophy a record seven times, closely followed by Irish Setters and Welsh Terriers, which have won four times.

But it’s not all about rosettes and prizes. Crufts champions the Save the Forgotten Dog Breeds campaign, which aims to highlight breeds that are at risk of dying out. Pembroke Welsh Corgis were on the list from 2009 to 2017, when the popular television showThe Crown helped to revive interest in the breed.

Making an entrance

Registration at the NEC opens at 8am but competitors often queue from 7am. Different days of the show are for various classes of dogs, and owners are responsible for bringing all the food and water their dogs need, as well as any grooming equipment. Some owners show several dogs and come laden with trolleys and bulging suitcases.

A waiting game

Each competing dog is given its own section to get ready in; some contestants are happy to snooze off the lead while waiting for their big moment, while others are crated and covered. The sections are separated by group and breed. There are seven groups at Crufts: Hound, Gundog, Terrier, Utility, Working, Pastoral and Toy.

Tall and mighty

Carol Mackenzie runs Carsan Kennels in Lincolnshire, which breeds Great Danes and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. “Parker is only two,” says Carol proudly. “It’s his first Crufts so it’s more about the experience for him, but I’ve been coming for 40 years and have been showing here for 20.”

Centre stage

The main arena sees more than 20 different set-ups over the four days. The prestigious Best in Show final is held here, which sees the culmination of 20,631 competing dogs from some 220 breeds narrowed down to just one winner. The main arena also shows agility, heelwork to music, police dog demonstrations, flyball, gundog displays, rescue dog agility, RAF dog displays, search-and-rescue dog displays and obedience.

A poodle with panache

Daniela Forshaw and her Poodle Venice are ambassadors for Pet Teezer dog-grooming brushes. “Venice is six and this is her first Crufts,” says Daniela. “I’ve got another white Poodle, called Milan, but he’s at home today. There are so many different cuts and styles you can give dogs, especially Poodles. I’ve opted to give Venice a bit of a dishevelled Miami trim today.”

Ring master

As stewards for Ring 8 – one of 35 rings at the show – Graham Lambert and Sue Hann help the dogs to get into the ring and assist the judge when needed. Sue herself breeds and shows Japanese Chins but explains that lots of competitors volunteer to steward for other breeds over the four days of the show. “We have to make sure all the dogs are in the right ring at the right time,” she explains. “There are two stewards per ring so lots of volunteers are needed.”

Expert in action

A committee chooses the 246 judges needed each year, who have hundreds of years of breeding and judging experience in total. They are split into around 30 per group for the different breeds. Here, ring steward Robert Potts observes the Rough (Collie) class, which is being judged by Mr J Catliff.

Ribbon craft

The family-run Birdbrook Rosettes, started by Charles Allen in 1973, has made the rosettes for every award at Crufts for 40 years. Charles now runs the business with stepdaughter Moira Christie. “I’ve been coming here since I was little,” says Moira. “It’s one of the best days of the year. It’s grown so much since the early days and is one of the highlights of any dog lover’s calendar.”

Well groomed

The Young Kennel Club Groomer of the Year award is always hotly contested and was won by Morgan Taite- Shoosmith, 11, from Herne Bay in Kent. “I do shows all year round but to come here and win is the icing on the cake. I have loved every minute – plus I get time off school to compete!” Morgan’s well groomed partner is Havannah, a Standard Poodle. “She is always brilliant in the ring when she’s competing. For both of us Crufts is just an amazing experience.”

At the ready

Professor Richard Bedford is an ophthalmologist and Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Ophthalmology at London University. He and a team of vets volunteer to cover the show with annual health checks for some breeders and are on hand should any accidental injuries need to be dealt with. “With this many dogs there can be little scuffles,” he says.

Not forgotten

The Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support Service has been helping bereaved pet owners for 25 years. This year, the animal charity made a Remembrance Tree for Crufts, encouraging owners to write a note to pets who’d passed on to tie to the tree. Celebrities such as Clare Balding made time to stop by and put up their own personal notes. The charity, which was founded 120 years ago, also gave out forget- me-not seeds to plant for loved pets in return.

Third time lucky?

Bernard Carty travelled down from Scotland with Merlin, 8, for their third show. Wearing the Mackenzie tartan, Bernard pats Merlin. “We haven’t won anything as yet but we’re here for the experience. As long as he enjoys his day, I don’t expect anything else. The standard for St Bernards is always high so just to qualify is an achievement.”

Getting to know you

The Discover Dogs zone lets potential owners view hundreds of different breeds and speak to owners about temperaments, exercise needs and size. Sharon Cragg and Mark Green are volunteers from The Briard Association and have brought along Ruby and Roo for potential Briard owners to come along and meet.

“Briards are such a wonderful breed,” says Sharon. “They’re very intelligent and incredibly loyal.”

Prize-winning pooch

Beldones Blue Echo – Echo, as he’s known to owner Brian Hawkins and his wife, Odile – is a Rough Collie that landed the Reserve Dog Challenge Certificate, which is given to the dog that comes third. “He was a year old yesterday so it’s a great present,” adds Odile.

Dog collars

Katharine Harding-Jones is the UK’s only supplier of Red Dog collars – an Australian brand made from nylon webbing with stainless steel so they don’t degrade. She owns and runs Dapper Pets, the busiest stall of the whole show. “I’ve been coming to Crufts for 14 years,” she says. “The atmosphere and people are always amazing. The days are long – from 7am to 7pm – and we sell in the hundreds every day.”

Photos Richard Stanton, Blue Cross, The Kennel Club


Tried and Tested – Low Calorie Ice Creams

Tried and Tested – Low Calorie Ice Creams

If you’re watching your weight or need to reduce your sugar intake, it can be hard abstaining from ice cream teats while others aren’t. Thankfully there are lots of new products that claim to taste just as great – without the calories. We find out which live up to their promise

Best chocolate

Breyers Delights Creamy Chocolate, 500ml, £2.50, most supermarkets

The high-protein, lower-sugar and fresh-cream recipe contains 38 to 57 per cent less
calories and 45 to 60 per cent less sugar per 100g than normal ice cream products. And wow, the taste is incredible – this is heaven in a tub. It melts easily, is lovely and chocolatey, and doesn’t taste ‘fake’. Our favourite.Calories per tub: 310 Sweeteners used: erythritol, steviol glycoside Other flavours: Salted Caramel Cake, Cookies & Cream, Coffee Cupcake, Chocolate Orange & Almond

Lowest calorie

Halo Top Vanilla Bean, 473ml, £5, supermarkets nationwide

America’s top ice cream brand was an instant hit here on its launch.
It was great to see its joint-lowest-calorie offering, Vanilla Bean, had a traditional flavour
without tasting too ‘chemically’. It was creamy and had a good texture, melting with the right consistency.Calories per tub: 280 Sweeteners used: erythritol, organic stevia leaf extract Other flavours: 11 others, including Birthday Cake, Peanut Butter Cup, Mint Chip, Sea Salt Caramel, Cinnamon Roll and Cookies & Cream

Best budget

Gianni’s Salted Caramel, 480ml, £1.99, Aldi

Not quite a premium ice cream but for the price this is a decent addition to the low-
calorie, high-protein ice cream market. The vanilla is quite mild and the salted caramel a little sweet but it does the job and our kiddie testers loved it. We found it benefited from being allowed to defrost slightly before using for the best flavour and consistency. Calories per tub: 302Sweeteners used: erythritol, organic stevia Other flavours: Choc Chip Cookie Dough

Best premium

Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Cookie Dough Light, 500ml, £2.50 (introductory offer), supermarkets nationwide

This has more calories than other low-calorie tubs but is much lower than Ben & Jerry’s traditional Cookie Dough’s 1,350 calories per 500ml. Not as low-calorie as others but if you like a luxury brand with half the calories, and no sugar substitutes, this is great. Calories per tub:660 Sweeteners used: no sugar substitutes or sugar alcohols Other flavours:
Salted Caramel Brownie, Caramel Cookie Fix, Chocolate Cookies & Cream

Most creamy

Graham’s Goodness White Chocolate with Raspberry Ripple, 500ml, £2.99, Aldi and selected supermarkets

This was deliciously creamy with a lovely tangy raspberry ripple – you could not tell it was low-calorie. Not as sickly sweet as some white chocolate-flavoured ice creams. Nicely dense and melted well. Sucralose can have a laxative effect if you eat too much so it can
be an added incentive not to overindulge! Calories per tub: 350 Sweeteners: Sucralose Other flavours: Espresso Caramel, Mint Choc Chip, Salted Caramel

 

 

 


Tried and Tested – Picnic Blankets

Tried and Tested – Picnic Blankets

Whether you’re heading to the beach, off on a camping trip or relaxing in your own back garden, a picnic rug is essential for comfort and convenience. There are plenty to choose from: waterproof, lightweight, large or luxury – find the one that best suits your needs below

Best lightweight

Polar Gear Alfresco Picnic Rug, £19.99, robertdyas.co.uk

As well as being bright and colourful, this fleece rug is extremely practical. It’s lightweight and rolls up quickly and easily to a compact shape, and it also has a carry handle included. The underside of the rug is waterproof and when tested on damp grass, it resisted moisture, remaining completely dry. It’s easy to clean with a damp cloth, and a good size too – 135cm x 135cm – big enough to seat four people and a picnic comfortably.

Best large

Chill Urban Outdoor Picnic Blanket, £49.99, wayfair.co.uk

Measuring a huge 200cm x 270cm, this rug is large enough to fit 8-10 people, making it ideal for a group picnic. The material is both waterproof (on both sides) and anti-fungal so it’s perfect for use with small children. As it’s decorated on both sides, if one side becomes dirty you just turn the rug over. It’s also great for the beach as the sand shakes off easily. It could also double as a groundsheet for your tent. The UV protection means it should prove resilient and not discolour. We found laying a blanket over the top gave added comfort.
It also comes with a practical carrying bag, into which it folds down, though not to a compact size.

Best waterproof

Waterproof Canvas Picnic Rug by The Vintage Collection Company, £95, notonthehighstreet.com

This vintage-style picnic rug, in four colours of waterproof canvas (Tea Caddy Green, New England Red, Cabinet Makers Blue and Wild Bayberry), looks and feels both high quality and durable. It’s made from waterproof 16oz canvas and has integrated leather straps and a handle for easy transportation. At 1.8m x 1.2m, it’s big enough to sit around six people, but it’s really quite heavy – and may be better used in the garden or on a campsite than on a day out.

Most versatile

Tolly McRae Picnic Rug in Cornish Blue, £99, tollymcrae.co.uk

Made from chunky pure wool, this rug looks and feels beautifully soft and luxurious. Although it’s not waterproof, it does have an innate ability to be naturally moisture resistant so can confidently be used as a picnic rug. However it is also versatile enough to be used to cover your knees or wrap around your shoulders when you’re enjoying events in chilly weather. It also wouldn’t look out of place as a living room throw, either. Plus, measuring in at 200cm x 149cm, it’s larger than the average picnic rug too.

 


Tried and Tested – Cooler Bags and Boxes

Tried and Tested – Cooler Bags and Boxes

Sunny days are great, but warm beers and floppy sandwiches – not so much! Keep your beverages cool and your food fresh with a cooler box or bag. From the innovative to the straightforward, from the mini to the maxi, we tried out a selection of those on the market

Best large-capacity

50QT Xtreme® Wheeled Cooler, £115, gooutdoors.co.uk

This cooler has a huge 47-litre capacity, so is ideal for large families or a camping trip.
Its two durable wheels and telescopic handle mean its easy to transport, and its side
handles make it easy to lift. Insulated with polyurethane (PU), it claims to keep contents cold on ice for up to five days. On a long camping trip during a heatwave, food stayed cold for three days and cool for four days. It has a drain plug in the base to remove ice melt, and the lid can be used as a useful table.

Best for adventurers

Red Original Cool Bag, £159.95, redoriginal.com

If you love active days out at the park, beach or a festival, this 18-litre bag is for you. Its price reflects its numerous features, from a waterproof Aquaseal zip and high-density waterproof fabric to thermal-lock insulation, which keeps contents colder for much longer. It can also be attached to boats, paddleboards and canoes. Food and drink stayed ice-cold and frozen for 48 hours, even on the hottest of UK days. It also comes in a 30-litre size.

Best for kids

Vaya Tyffyn Lunch Box, £36, vayalife.com

This vacuum-insulated box promises to keep food at its optimum temperature for up to six hours. Great for school lunches, picnics or days out. It comes in several designs and is BPA-free, non-toxic and leak-resistant. The children’s version holds 600ml and comprises two stainless steel containers with partitions that allow you to carry up to four dishes. Read the instructions, though, as some preparatory directions may need to be followed to ensure food stays hot or cold.

Best backpack

Primus Cooler Bag Rolltop Backpack, £85, bearandbear.com

Externally, this insulated cooler backpack is made of a heavy-duty nylon resistant to snags and tears. Internally, waterproof PU-coated polyester with EVA foam insulates and helps to pad the backpack for extra comfort. It has an outer waterproof pocket and comes with a bottle opener, and the roll top makes it easy to open and close. It’s 22 litres so is quite heavy when full. After using, pull out the waterproof liner and wipe it down, ready for the next use.

Best economy

Postcard Cooler Box, £52.99, robertdyas.co.uk

We love the fun retro design of this box, it’s the perfect accompaniment
to a picnic. It holds a generous 25 litres – which is enough for a day out or short
camping trip. It kept food and drink cool on a hot day, though the ice blocks did melt by the end of it, so if camping, you’d need to replace them each day. It was easy to carry, if a little heavy for one person when full – but the large handle means two can easily share the load.

 

 


Behind the scenes – The Red Cross

Behind the scenes – The Red Cross

From taking aid to war-torn Yemen to easing the distress of loneliness in Britain, the Red Cross helps people in a crisis. BEVERLEY D’SILVA visited its HQ in Moorgate to meet some of those who help it to do so

 

The Red Cross emblem, a red cross on white, a sign of protection under the Geneva Conventions, is a symbol of safety and neutrality. Founded in 1870, the British Red Cross aims with International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to prevent human suffering. Its 3,500 staff manage campaigns, fundraise, spread its message and send and manage aid where it may be needed – but it could not work without its

32,500 trained volunteers, such as its emergency response volunteers or the staff at its charity shops. While images of disasters abroad may stay with us, the charity’s work at home is just as vital: it responds to an emergency in the UK every four hours, and helps around 500,000 people in crisis each year. In 2017, following the UK terror attacks, 1,000 Red Cross volunteers were deployed, working with the emergency services. After the Grenfell Tower fire in London, 600 volunteers gave first aid and support to those affected, managed a 24-hour support line, reconnected families and sorted through 200 tonnes of public donations. Here’s what happens behind the scenes…

First responder

Emergency response volunteer, Jean Bourlot, starts his day by getting behind the wheel of a British Red Cross emergency response vehicle. He’s one of a team of volunteers on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week to support local authorities and emergency services. This morning Jean is just back from filling the petrol tank to ensure that if he gets a call, he and his four-by-four vehicle can respond immediately. In his five years as an ERV, Jean has been called out to help hospital staff get to work during snow storms, support families who’ve lost everything due to flooding or a fire in their home and was one of the first on the scene at the Grenfell Tower fire just hours after it happened.

The kindness of strangers

The British Red Cross runs on donations – £200 million last year. People who donate £5,000 or more are in a league which James Boyle, the head of philanthropy and events, is in charge of. “As part of our fundraising and to help to get our message across and inspire donations, we’ve held events such as a concert at St Paul’s Cathedral with a gala dinner and a talk at the House of Lords on our international work around health.” His team works with Red Cross ambassadors such as Ben Fogle, Victoria Pendleton and Jason Isaacs on campaigns. Today’s work focuses on aid to Yemen.

Sending help

David Foster, a response officer for global emergencies, points to a map showing disaster areas, such as those affected by floods, earthquake or war. David heads
up a logistics team with experts who get aid to those in need. In the aftermath of a big emergency, such as the food crisis in Zimbabwe or the earthquake in Syria, he and the team assess what needs to go where. Tents, cooking equipment, water-purifying tablets, insect repellent and toiletries are some of the goods needed, which arrive as gifts or are bought and stored at the main Red Cross warehouses – in Northamptonshire, Dubai, Harare and Panama – until needed. The British Red Cross is the UK’s largest independent provider of support to refugees and people seeking asylum.

Uncharted territories

We might think the world’s all mapped out with Google Maps on the scene. But many places on earth are literally ‘missing’ from the map. This can make it difficult to find
and help vulnerable people who need aid in the event of disasters, which displace or affect 200 million around the world each year. Missing Maps was born to plug the gap.
It’s a collaborative project by the Red Cross, with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and Médecins Sans Frontières. Here, Alex Ballard of the Missing Maps team coordinates a ‘mapathon’, where volunteers bring their own laptops and help to map unmapped areas. They view large satellite images projected on to a screen to show the progress they’re making together.

Acts of kindness

Sue Stratton has been a volunteer with emergency response for three years. On the scene after the Grenfell Tower fire, she worked at the Red Cross rest centre set up for those affected; she sorted through donations, supported other services and helped people who’d lost everything to find what they needed. One resident lost everything in the fire, including her glasses. “She couldn’t see a thing without them, so two of our volunteers helped her to find a replacement pair. Small things like that can make a huge difference to someone in crisis.”

At the ready

Meeting The Queen at Buckingham Palace is all in a day’s work for Gillian Pattenden and Arun Krishnarayan, who are getting the volunteer support ambulance ready before heading to a lunch event at St James’ Palace. “Volunteering has given me the opportunity to see so many beautiful places.” enthuses Gillian, who has volunteered for 22 years at events including Royal garden parties and weddings and the Chelsea Flower Show as well as supporting NHS ambulance services in regular and emergency work. But fun aside, you need to be ready for anything, she says. “We could deal with anything from a sprained ankle to a potential head injury.” Arun, an event first- aid volunteer for more than two years, adds, “There’s something special about the Red Cross uniform. People trust it and like to chat about what we do.”

Welfare and well-being

“The work I do is about empowering, educating and promoting a healthy organisational culture,” says Rachel Miller, a psychosocial practitioner and mental health nurse. Rachel’s team, which includes psychologists and social workers, looks after front-line staff, whose work is often “trauma-exposed – including the Independent Living team, and those who support the victims of human trafficking. My work is not just about disaster, my work promotes well- being generally in the staff, so they feel they’re getting support.”

Deadly inspiration

Mehzebin Adam, the curator of objects at the British Red Cross Museum and Archives, handles a medicine bottle from a kit issued to Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachments – civilians providing nursing care for the military during the world wars. One volunteer’s name jumps out – Agatha Christie. Years before she became a crime writer, she worked in the dispensary of a Red Cross hospital in Torquay – her volunteering record card, in the archive, shows she was there throughout the Great War. She said it was while working in the hospital apothecary that she learnt about poisons as well as medicines – knowledge she used in her murder stories.

By Royal Approval

Heritage manager Dr Alasdair Brooks stands before the Red Cross’s Royal Charter, which is signed by the monarch and gives an organisation particular rights. “The collections contain every Royal Charter granted to the society since the first one, in 1908. The most spectacular is undoubtedly the current document, from 1998, which is stored in a special presentation box, complete with the formal wax Royal seal of our patron Queen Elizabeth II,” he says. Hanging behind Dr Brooks is a Changi quilt. Made by women who were interned in Changi Prison, Singapore, by the Japanese in World War Two, the quilts were hand-embroidered with secret messages and hidden meanings.

Life skills

Last year, Red Cross courses helped nearly 320,000 people in the UK
to learn first aid, at more than 150 centres across the country. From pensioners and teachers to childcare workers and corporate health and safety, the Red Cross is the go-to provider. “We believe first aid is the most important lesson you can learn,” explainss Jeff Bryan, a British Red Cross trainer, who uses a dummy called ‘resuscitation Annie’ to teach techniques. The trainers teach the public the knowledge, confidence and willingness to intervene in three potentially life- threatening first-aid emergencies: helping someone who is heavily bleeding; helping someone who is unresponsive and bleeding; and helping a person who is unresponsive and not breathing.

ONE, TWO, THREE…

First-aid trainer Mel Ward shows delegates how to give CPR chest compressions, using a ‘resuscitation Annie’. Mel has been teaching first aid for adults, children and babies for more than 18 years to the public. “If your baby or grandchild is choking, you need to know what to do,” she says. Helping people feel confident in their skills is part of her job. “If someone has a stroke, for example, fast action is critical. We try to make the training as realistic as possible, though in the case of how to stop severe bleeding once, it looked so real one of the delegates fainted!”

From the archives

Mehzebin Adam files objects in the archive, which holds 56,000 items related to the organisation’s life- saving work. It is one of the largest collections of items of any Red Cross national society in the world. In October last year, the archive’s collection was made available online to the public for the first time.


The Candis Spa Awards 2019

The Candis Spa Awards 2019

Bathing in hot springs for our health is one of the oldest spa experiences, dating back to Roman times. So it’s no wonder that a couple of thousand years later, we’re still enamoured of their appeal. In fact, thermal spa therapies are bang on-trend and gaining in popularity for those of us wanting sociable, affordable and beneficial treatments.

Estimated to be worth more than an incredible £1.5 billion, the UK spa market is ever evolving, with more than six million visits to spas annually. With so many spas to choose from, with prices to suit all budgets, we have spent the last 12 months selecting only the very best to feature in our awards. Each has been rated for best treatments, value, quality, choice of food and ‘wow’ factor, so you can be sure of having your best spa experience.

Best Country House Spa

Down Hall Hotel & Eden Spa

Matching Road, Hatfield Heath, Essex, CM22 7AS, downhall.co.uk

Why:

This beautiful hotel dates back to 1322. The Italianate country house mansion in a stunning historical setting has impressive architectural features inside and out. The new adjoining Eden Spa is the icing on the cake for a relaxing stay
that leaves you wanting more.

Star treatment:

ESPA Swedish Body Massage, 55 minutes, £72  Experience deep relaxation and drift away during a full-body massage. Using ESPA aromatherapy massage oils chosen to suit your mood, aching muscles are left soothed and you leave feeling revived and with skin silky soft for days afterwards.

Also try:

ESPA Personalised Express Facial, £42 Get exactly what your skin needs from a facial with this targeted treatment. After a consultation and SkinVision analysis, a mixture of cleanser, exfoliated, facial mask and booster serum all suited to your specific skin requirements leaves your skin looking and feeling fantastic.

Food and drink:

Dinner at The Grill Room offers an exciting modern seasonally changing English menu prepared with ingredients sourced from the restaurant’s own vegetable gardens. Make the most of good weather and choose to eat alfresco at the pretty Terrace restaurant. Take afternoon tea in one of two lounges and don’t forget to make time for a pre-dinner drink at the Cocktail Bar.

Gold stars for:

The hotel offers picnics in the summer months that can be taken into the glorious grounds, plus special events such as a weekend of live music with Jools Holland and James Morrison in June 2019 and detox and yoga retreat weekends. Keep checking the website to see what other special events it has on the horizon.

Prices:

Simply Spa Stays start from £254 per couple and include a £24 allowance per person for dinner at The Grill, bed and breakfast, a 25-minute back, neck and shoulder massage each plus two hours at the Wet Spa.

Spa in numbers… Treatment rooms: 4 Therapists: 6Treatments: 54 single treatments and 6 packages
Pools: A hydrotherapy pool Relaxation areas: 1, plus an outside decked space with relaxation beds Extras: A sauna and steam room plus outside hard tennis courts, 110 acres of parkland and landscaped gardens to explore, giant chess and croquetFitness areas/classes: 1 Technogym with a wide range of machines plus free weights, exercise balls and stretch mats

Best for couples

Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa

Old Oxford Road, Donnington, Newbury, RG14 3AG 01634 551199 donningtonvalley.co.uk

Why:

This is a large hotel with a spa attached, a pool
and sports facilities, offering gorgeous views over farmland
and woodland. If your other half doesn’t do spas there is an 18-hole parkland golf course. The Spa has a special couples’ treatment room.

Star treatment:

Ultimate Vitamin Glow Facial by Decléor, 55 minutes, £70 midweek, £80 weekend This amazing facial certainly lived up to its award- winning name. With stress- relieving massage, a warm skin-decongesting mask and products packed with vitamins and antioxidants, our tester’s middle-aged skin really glowed. Results lasted a few weeks too.

Also try:

Sonoma Aromatherapy Massage, 55 minutes, £73 midweek, £83 weekend The ideal massage for people who don’t do massage! It’s designed as a relaxing massage, so it is gentle without being ticklish. We loved the warmed aromatherapy balms used and the calming massage strokes really relieved any back knots.

Food and drink:

The Wine Press restaurant is quite large but has cosy, intimate areas if you want a bit more privacy. The food is of a very high standard: you can have locally sourced Donnington Burgers, or Gin Cured Salmon from the extensive menu. They serve a great Sunday lunch, and the breakfast make-your-own waffles and pancakes were to die for. The well-stocked and reasonably priced bar has a great atmosphere and a small outside area if the weather is warm.

Gold Stars for:

The intimate, friendly and well-designed spa which never feels like it’s part of a business hotel. The staff are easy-going and skilled, a nice combination.

Prices:

Spa breaks start from £99.

Spa in numbers… Treatment rooms: 6Therapists: 8 Treatments: 61 Pools:18-metre swimming pool Extras: Gym, dance studio, classes, aromatherapy room, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna

Best luxury

Armathwaite Hall Hotel and Spa

Bassenthwaite Lake, Keswick, CA12 4RE, 01768 776551, armathwaite-hall.com

Why:

This is a stunning stately home in a 400-acre deer park in the Lake District. The
spa itself is super clean and ultramodern and the staff are courteous and very friendly.

Star treatment:

Holistic Facial, 55 minutes, £80 Using natural Bespoke Aroma products to cleanse, exfoliate and tone, this is a heavenly facial. Once skin is clean, a natural clay mask draws out impurities and softens skin. The facial massage lifts and tones and the addition of a scalp massage leaves you on cloud nine.

Also try:

Glorious Mud treatment, 55 minutes, £75 Once you’ve been body-brushed from top to toe, your gently tingling skin is smothered in a warm and mineral-rich mud to nourish and purify skin. You’re then cocooned in a warm wrap to drift away with a face and scalp massage. Bliss.

Food and drink:

This is out of this world. Breakfast is relaxed with a buffet-style dining room and the included à la carte dinner in the Lake View Restaurant is MasterChef-worthy. The residents’ lounge has a well- stocked bar, perfect for relaxing in. There’s also the Courtyard Bar and Brasserie for more relaxed dining.

Gold stars for:

Complimentary sherry, brandy or port on arrival, naturally flavoured citrus water available all day at reception, the stunning views and the extremely skilled therapists.

Prices:

From £345 per Club Room per night including breakfast, a three-course evening meal, a 55-minute treatment each and full access to the spa on the Escape package. Room upgrades from £395 for a Spa/Superior Room (recommended) and £545 for a Studio Suite.

Spa in numbers…

Treatment rooms: 10 including a couples’ suiteTherapists: 11Treatments: 60-plus
Pools: Indoor pool, outdoor infinity hot tub, hydrotherapy poolRelaxation areas: Hush Room, Tranquillity Terrace and Spa reception area plus various lounges in the hotel Extras: A 400-acre deer park Fitness areas/classes: Full gym access, a personal trainer and up to 18 classes a week

Best for groups

Modershall Oaks Country Spa Retreat

Modershall, Staffordshire, ST15 8TG 01782 399000, moddershalloaks.com

Why:

Set in 72 acres of tranquil woodlands, Moddershall Oaks is an idyllic spa hideaway
in the heart of the Staffordshire countryside where you can relax, unwind and indulge in complete comfort.

Star treatment:

Elemis Touch Skin Solutions Facial, 55 minutes, £75 Targeting oiliness, dullness and sensitivity, this therapeutic facial calms fractious skin to create a healthier, glowing complexion. In under an hour, you’ll suddenly have soothed, rejuvenated and rehydrated skin.

Also try:

Elemis Freestyle Deep Tissue Massage, 55 minutes, £70 Using aromatic oils tailored entirely to your needs, this flowing massage releases tension and toxins deep in your muscles, encouraging optimum circulation. Expect a firmer pressure with this treatment to deal with those knots thoroughly and you’ll feel exhausted yet looser as a result.

Food and drink:

The stunning award-winning lakeside restaurant overlooks the hotel grounds and is a real treat to visit. The mouth-watering menu uses only the freshest local organic ingredients and the chefs are truly outstanding. There’s even a dedicated vegan menu.

Gold stars for:

The beautifully decorated luxury suites with their own private decking area and access to a shared hot tub, exclusive to overnight guests. We also loved the cosy relaxation lounge with an open fireplace.

Prices:

£295 for two people sharing a room including breakfast, dinner and use of spa facilities. Boutique spa suites from £295 per night per couple.

Spa in numbers…

Therapists: 5
Treatments: 30, plus three limited-edition treatments that change seasonally
Pools: 3
Relaxation areas: 2 main lounging areas
Extras: The Snug, a private setting for occasions such
as work gatherings, pamper parties and family celebrationsFitness areas/classes:
A gym, outdoor tennis courts and bicycles for hire free
of charge

Best hotel and spa

Brimstone Hotel and Spa

The Lansdale Estate, Great Lansdale, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 9JD, 01539 438062 brimstonehotel.co.uk

Why:

Very green and eco- friendly, this luxury adults-only hotel and spa is perfect for lovers of the outdoors looking to relax in tranquillity. The hotel blends effortlessly into the greenery of the trees, with 16 state-of-the-art suites with wood-burning stoves and stunning private verandas.

Star treatment:

Scintillate Facial, 55 minutes, £90 Using natural Pure Alchemy products, this facial is suitable for all skin types. After exfoliating to stimulate new skin cells, skin is nourished with a cleansing facial oil and a careful and invigorating massage, leaving skin feeling fresh, clean and rejuvenated.

Also try:

Spellbind Full Body Massage, 55 minutes, £90 Choose a scent for the therapist to mix with a blend of lusciously warm oils before using with muscle-comforting techniques to give a soothing experience for body and mind. Designed to mesmerise, the massage will leave you feeling calm and very sleepy.

Food and drink:

Breakfast is relaxing – a full choice of food is served in your room. The Stove restaurant offers dishes such as pickled mackerel and Cornish brill, pizzas, pasta, burgers and a selection of wines, beers and cocktails. The Spa Deli has a wide range of delicious refreshments.

Gold stars for:

The 16 designer suites have to be seen to be believed and the hotel and spa is immaculately clean. Hosts are on hand to assist in any way they can – the service and attention to detail is second to none!

Prices:

A Plush Room costs from £350 per night, which includes breakfast and use of the leisure facilities and spa.

Spa in numbers… Treatment rooms: 10 including The Bubble (a couples’ private spa) Therapists: 16 Treatments: 17 including manicure and pedicure Pools: 2 Relaxation areas: 2Extras: The stylish and comfortable Reading Room offers daily complimentary wine, beer, hot and cold drinks as well as canapés, snacks, cakes and sandwiches Fitness areas/classes: There is a fully equipped gym and exercise studio offering an assortment of classes on demand.

Best dedicated spa

Ragdale Hall Spa

Ragdale Village, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, LE14 3PB, 01644 434831, ragdalehall.co.uk

Why:

Don a fluffy robe and flip-flops to embrace some ‘me time’. There’s so much to enjoy, from beauty and pampering to fitness, delicious food or simply relaxing with a good book in
a beautiful, harmonious setting.

Star treatment:

Lomi Lomi Hawaiian Massage, 90 minutes, £101 This is a nurturing treatment with rhythmic strokes working into the muscle, carried out by a holistic practitioner. Using essential oils, the therapist uses forearms to release tension and assist blood and lymph flow. With Himalayan salt lamps emitting positive energy, you’ll be left feeling incredible! (Discreet and professional, this massage requires you to be topless.)

Also try:

Decléor Ultimate Glow Prescriptive Facial, 70 minutes, £76 This is an award- winning facial, packed with vitamins, antioxidants and an aromatherapy elixir tailored to your type of skin to soothe, relax and relieve tension. The warm face mask leaves skin cleansed and soothed. There are six areas of focus – we chose Hydration and Radiance, which left skin feeling less dry, noticeably softer and radiant.

Food and drink:

There is a healthy choice of breakfasts, served in your room or in the Verandah Bar. The hot and cold buffet lunch is legendary – there’s something for every palate. Dinner is a three-course candlelit affair (you can stay in your robe) with cocktails and mocktails aplenty plus wines, beers and spirits.

Gold stars for:

This spa gets busy but it never feels full and there are no queues. Staff are pleasant and attentive to ensure you have the best experience possible. The Rooftop Infinity Pool and the viewing lounge make it a special place to relax.

Prices:

An Overnight Reviver Break is from £231 per person (based on two sharing) and includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and a treatment.

Spa in numbers… Treatment rooms: 50Therapists: 130 Treatments: 100-plusPools: 6 Relaxation areas: 6 Extras: Plenty of seasonal offers with good savings including fashion and beauty showcases, Rosemary Conley Days, yoga and dance fitness breaksFitness areas/classes: 18 daily fitness classes plus cycle hire, coaching (tennis, swimming, fencing, archery and golf introduction) and a fully equipped high-tech gymnasium

Best day spa

The Woodland Spa

Royle Lane, Burnley, Lancashire, BB12 0RT, 01282 471913, thewoodlandspa.com

Why:

Your relaxation at the spa, which is set in 100 acres of countryside, starts when you arrive. The staff are welcoming and the spa itself is light and airy – except for the Serenity Pool, which is dark, warm and quiet, ideal for total relaxation.

Star treatment:

Divine Comfort Signature Treatment, 60 minutes, £72 An aromatic massage of the feet is followed by a dry body brush to increase circulation, then a nourishing coconut oil is applied to the skin. A massage of the shoulders, neck and scalp leave you feeling blissfully relaxed.

Also try:

Decléor Jasmin Glow Power Booster, 30 minutes, £50 An intensive moisturising hydrogel mask leaves skin feeling beautifully hydrated and luminous and soft all day long.

Food and drink:

There are cocktails and generous portions of tapas at the Terrace Bar near the outdoor hot tubs and infinity pool. Bertram’s, the spa restaurant, has panoramic floor- to-ceiling windows and an eclectic range of dishes – some exotic, some with a Lancashire theme. Breakfast in The Lounge includes local award-winning produce plus tasty smoothies for the healthy-minded.

Gold stars for:

The accommodation, which was contemporary and tastefully decorated and had a private patio and garden. The generous-sized food portions in both the Terrace Bar and Bertram’s. All staff were helpful and friendly.

Prices:

A luxury bedroom for two with dinner, bed and breakfast costs from £124 per night, which includes entry to the Thermal Experience for one day. Spa robes, towels and flip- flops are provided.

Spa in numbers…

Treatment rooms: 11 plus a manicure/pedicure suiteTherapists: 15Treatments: 25-plus using Decléor, Neom and OPI Pools: 7 Relaxation areas: 3, including one upstairs for use after treatments
Extras: 2 rasul treatment rooms, which must be booked; a spa boutique where you can buy the products used in your treatment; an outdoor fire
pit surrounded by super- comfortable seating; the retractable roof on the Terrace Bar makes the most of sunny weather; anyone on a spa day or spa break can use the gym inclusive of the price
Fitness areas/classes: 3 studios, 104 classes a week

Best for foodies

Ye Olde Bell Hotel & Spa

Barnby Moor, Retford, DN22 8QS, yeoldebell-hotel.co.uk

Why:

This 17th-century property has been updated with rich fabrics, opulent furniture, quirky artefacts and ornaments and an art deco-styled bar. In contrast, the multimillion-pound spa is barely two years old and its state-of-the-art facilities will leave you pampered and relaxed.

Star treatment:

Hydracure Intense Hydration Facial, 60 minutes, £75 Relax on your heated bed before warm stones are applied to all your pressure points. The aim is to provide skin with the natural healing ability to retain moisture. Using a unique ‘hydractive’ blend of ingredients from Germaine de Capuccini, the neck and face are exfoliated and cleansed before a hydrating mask is applied. While it’s working its magic, you enjoy a mini treatment of your choice – we opted for a neck and shoulder massage. The end result is tighter, glowing skin.

Also try:

Sabbia Med, 30 minutes, from £20 per person (up to four people) This uplifting treatment replicates sunrise to sunset in just 30 minutes in a beach-like setting. Relax in a deckchair, sink your toes into the sand and enjoy the sounds of the seagulls and the lapping waves as low levels of UV lighting release vitamin D. We loved it!

Food and drink:

Dine in the olde-worlde Restaurant Bar 1650, which has been awarded an AA rosette, the St Leger Bistro-by-the-Bar, or alfresco on the pretty terraces. Food is beautifully presented, and there’s an extensive wine and gin list and tempting cocktails to ponder over!

Gold stars for:

The food served at the spa’s Herb Garden Brasserie, which offers a top-notch menu complete with careful wine pairing.

Prices:

One night’s bed and breakfast in a double room costs from £99, with spa access from £50 per person.

Spa in numbers… Treatment rooms: 6, 2 of which are doubles Therapists: 8 Treatments: 30-plus, with experiences, Wellbeing Wednesdays, cancer care treatments and massages Pools: 1 vitality pool Relaxation areas: 2 plus a reception lounge; a residents’ gym – personal trainers can be arranged Extras: 10 hot and cold thermal experiences; a rasul mud treatment; a Salt Inhalation Room for those with respiratory problems or allergies Fitness areas/classes: Pilates; mindful yoga is coming soon.


Tried and Tested – Mascaras

Tried and Tested – Mascaras

It should be a simple purchase but with so many products on the market – some very disappointing, as we found out – it can be difficult to know that what you’re buying will do exactly what it promises. We put these lash beautifiers to the test and the best of them are below

Best budget

MaybellineGreatLashMascara Very Black, £5.99 for 12.5ml, Boots and other stockists

A bestseller for Maybelline, and we can certainly see why. Always reliable, it provides good coverage quickly with no clumping with a good dense black colour. The brush
is effortless to use so you can swipe on quickly and build up the coats for the effect you want easily – from daytime natural to evening bold. Worth every penny.

Best luxury

WonderPerfectMascara4D, £22, Clarins, John Lewis and other stockists

This new product from Clarins is a gem. Application is silky and smooth, quite unlike
other mascaras we tried. It glides on evenly and easily and with two coats you have a classy finish that lengthens and separates lashes without exaggerating them so they look false. The mineral pigment gives an intense colour and helps to strengthen and lengthen lashes. We loved it. Available in Perfect Black and Perfect Brown.

Best for sensitive eyes

Diego dalla Palma Mascara Tube, £17.50 for 12ml, Marks & Spencer, lookfantastic.com

Fragrance- and flake-free, this got the thumbs up from those with sensitive eyes as there was no reaction at all. The brush was large and thick, which combined with the small tube helped to load the brush without clumps. Application was easy and helped to create volume and length. Testers loved the coverage and dense colour and that it could be washed off with warm water and your fingers.

Best lengthening

Benefit They’re Real! Lengthening Mascara,£22for8.5g, escentual.com and other stockists

With its innovative wand – alternating
rows of short and long rubber bristles – lashes are coated evenly and effectively, even if they’re different lengths. The tip of the wand is great for dealing with
the teeny lashes at the inner or outer corners too. The mascara formula is flexible until it dries, when it then locks in place for the day. The colour is dark and glossy and it adds visible length to each lash, with no smudging or flaking. Available in blue, brown and black.

 


Tried and Tested – Egg Cooking Gadgets

Tried and Tested – Egg Cooking Gadgets

Poached, boiled, scrambled or fried – how do you like your eggs? Whatever your preference is, you’ll want them done to perfection. These days, there are many tools out there to help you achieve this and we’ve found those with the best performance.

Best multi-function

Voche® Electric16 EggBoiler, Poacher, Omelette Maker and Vegetable Steamer Multi-Function Steam Cooker, £13.95, amazon.co.uk

From soft-boiled to hard-boiled, poached or omelettes, this gadget won hands down.
It can perfectly cook up to 16 soft- or hard-boiled eggs at once so is fantastic if you’ve
got a houseful. The instruction leaflet is a bit sparse but you can easily work it out. The
device is simple – keep the water topped up where the element is, using the measurements required, and allow to cool down between cycles. You can poach four eggs at a time and they all cook equally. We also liked that you can use the steamer for vegetables too and that all parts were easy to clean. A winner.

Best for poached eggs

ProCook® egg poacher kit, £18, procook.co.uk

Ideal if you need to poach several eggs, this kit can do up to four at a time. It
fits atop most 20cm frying pans – just crack an egg in each cup, boil a little water
in the base of the pan, place the lid on the top and the eggs will cook gently. The
see-through lid means you can get an idea of their consistency, but you need to use trial and error until you get your timings just right. It’s made from coated 3.5mm aluminium, which enables even heat distribution, and our eggs came out evenly cooked. It cleaned up very easily and took up little space in the cupboard.

Best for boiled eggs

Perfect Egg Timer, £6, aplaceforeverything.co.uk

If your perfect boiled eggs are a little hit and miss, this could be the gadget for you. When cooking boiled eggs, just pop this little red egg into your pan – the graduated scale will change colour to show when eggs are soft-, medium- or hard-boiled by sensing heat instead of time. The sensor can even account for the number of eggs and the amount of water in the pan. It worked perfectly – three eggs, cooked in the same pan but taken out at varying times according to the timer, came out exactly as they should. A clever little invention.

Best microwave

Sistema Microwave Egg Cooker Easy Eggs, 270ml, £3.59, amazon.co.uk

Specifically designed for the microwave, this can cook in a variety of ways: poached, scrambled or as an omelette. It’s quick and easy to use, but getting the eggs right took trial and error and you need to consider the power of your microwave. Omelettes came out well and are the perfect size for a muffin or bagel, as did the scrambled – they weren’t as tasty as the pan-fried version, but were much quicker. The poached were tricky to perfect and a little rubbery. Easy to clean and great if you’re pushed for time.

 

 

 

 


Chef Michael’s Restaurant, Florida Keys

Chef Michael’s Restaurant, Florida Keys

One of the few restaurants in the Keys run by its own chef, the menu offers the best selections of locally sourced produce in Islamorada.

We hope that you enjoyed reading the travel feature in this month’s issue (April), The Key to Happiness; where to eat, sleep and play in the Florida Keys. If you’re planning to visit the keys, we recommend a visit to Chef Michael’s which is located in the upper keys. The restaurant offers a unique culinary experience with meat and fish dishes freshly cooked using the finest ingredients and creatively presented as veritable works of art! Menu choices really have the wow factor at this upmarket restaurant, a perfect choice for a special occasion as the dress code is as relaxed as the ambience.

Starters include Tempura Lobster Tail and Tuna Tataki, Sesame, Soy, Wasabi and Ginger. Main courses include a plethora of fish dishes as well as succulent Lamb Chopsand Crispy Roast Long Island Duck with a mango, mandarin and cashew sauce.

Staff at Chef Michael’s are warm and welcoming and able to offer helpful suggestions and explain unfamiliar menu choices and ingredients in full.  With an extensive wine list and a great choice of beers and soft drinks, there’s something to suit every palate at this smart restaurant which has built an excellent reputation locally for it’s fine dining and top notch service.

www.foodtotalkabout.com