A fisherman’s hut in the Dordogne Kate Humble, TV presenter and author I’d been having cabin fantasies – I wanted to go off-grid, swim in a river, eat tomatoes and read books. I wanted to be Huckleberry Finn. We booked a rural place in the north of the Dordogne, did lots of walking and as it was cep (porcini) season, the local market was full of delicious mushrooms. Most visitors to France buy wine and some cheese to take home, but by the end of the week we’d found some land nearby for sale, with a little fisherman’s hut by a lake, surrounded by trees. This was almost 10 years ago, and the two-room cabin is now our little piece of eco-heaven. We used clay and straw to plaster the inside, and the wood for the staircase and the handcut chestnut roof shingles came from our land or our neighbour’s. It has a kitchen-living area, a bedroom under the eves, a terrace and a composting loo, but no telly or phone signal. There’s a shower with a solar pump … [Read more...] about Where environmentalists go on holiday
Picking green tomatoes
After what’s been a mostly God-awful year at the movies, the fall festival season has felt more necessary than ever, a warm hug after eight months of being repeatedly slapped in the face. Shot-in-the-dark speculation over next year’s awards race has been replaced with far more informed predictions, a guessing game still, but one that’s already easier to play. By this time last year, we’d already seen six of the eight best picture nominees and so with Venice, Telluride and Toronto out of the way once again, we can sift through the hits and misses to figure out what films and performances will have enough power to motor their way through to February. Let’s start with Venice, a festival that’s become a reliable launching pad for the surer bets – in previous years Birdman, Gravity, The Shape of Water, Roma and La La Land all debuted – although this year’s crop offered up a more mixed bag than usual. The biggest story came from an … [Read more...] about J-Lo for the win? Taking an early look at Oscars 2020 frontrunners
Sitting on Madeira’s sunny south coast overlooking the Atlantic, Funchal’s terracotta-roofed houses spread up over the lower slopes of a mountain range. Nicknamed the Floating Garden of the Atlantic, palm trees line the roads, green spaces are awash with vibrant hues, while the rocky coastline is fringed with ever-flowering bougainvillea and poinsettia. Throw in a favourable year-round climate (temperatures rarely dip below 18c) and you can see why more than a million tourists visit each year. Majestic: An aerial view of Funchal, Madeira's capital city, from a cable car Where to stay Se Boutique Hotel A two-minute walk from the cathedral, this blue-fronted hotel in the centre of Funchal offers 54 sober-coloured, contemporary rooms juxtaposing the lobby’s eclectic style with its Venetian chandelier, old-fashioned radiogram and mini-bar made from a converted wardrobe. Make sure you pop up to the quirky terrace bar (which serves drinks from 4pm to … [Read more...] about Funchal for under £100 a night! How to visit Madeira’s sunny south coast on the cheap
Whether it's a special treat for a birthday or anniversary dinner, or if you're getting together with friends and family, us Brits love going out for a curry. Those looking to treat themselves to a Chicken Tikka have got plenty of options to chose from and over recent years the UK's dining scene has been flooded with different Asian restaurants. If your dish of choice is a lamb rogan josh or if you prefer a mild korma, there's a dish for everyone and the humble curry house has won a spot in the hearts of many. Getting your curry experience right is crucial, you need the right amount of poppadoms, onions and dips and then you even need to think of the perfect rice, will it be pilau or just boiled? But if you're struggling to decide to where to go for your next curry, help is at hand as the top restaurants and takeaways across the country have now been revealed. The awards are organised by the Asian Restaurant & Takeaway Awards (ARTA) and see eateries compete in … [Read more...] about Britain’s best curry houses revealed: UK’s top places to tuck into a Chicken Tikka battled it out – but did your local make the list?
1 Grassington, Yorkshire dales Length: 11 miles½ hoursmap/OS Explorer OL2) Anyone who grows up in or around the Yorkshire dales ends up carrying it with them. There’s something about the crumpled-duvet landscapes of emerald field and heathery fell, about encountering its sudden, Shire-like valleys threaded with muscular peat rivers, about stumbling across a ruined abbey at dusk or drinking well-earned beers by pub fires that forever sticks in the head and the heart. One of the national park’s greatest pubs has to be the Craven Arms at Appletreewick (mains from £8.95). Tucked into the fell above the river Wharfe, and the halfway point of a wonderful 11-mile circular walk from Grassington, it could go toe to toe with anywhere for the title of “perfect country pub”. Its standout feature is the “cruck barn” at the back, built by the owner using traditional materials and the first in the dale for 400 years. Reaching the Craven Arms from the … [Read more...] about 20 great pub walks, chosen by nature writers