Simon Cowell is in Manchester today for Britain’s Got Talent. The Heroes of She have each received personal invitations to audition in front of Simon Cowell and have been asked to sign a contract with Syco, his aptly named record company.
I was delighted to hear Stuart Higginson, Britain’s Best Butcher, whose shop happens to be at the end of our road in Grange, on Radio 4 talking about “beelocal”. Stuart, a big bloke in every way, who looks and sounds the part, is one of the reasons living in Grange is special. You can’t miss his shop because it’s the one with two lines of queues out onto the street. He has some land in Yewbarrow Wood where he keeps rare-breed pigs and when I started in the pig line he gave me some stock and showed me how to look after it.
The BBC chose a packed bar at The Newby Bridge Hotel today to film a piece for the early evening news. The story was about the safe haven which the staff at The Newby Bridge Hotel had given to the staff from nearby hotels which had been closed by the floods. The piece went out live and I got the chance to say on camera how proud I was of my staff in rallying round. The bar looked warm and welcoming, with an open log fire in awful contrast to the Swan Hotel lying cold and empty opposite us.
The headlines have been dominated by the Cumbrian floods, with dramatic pictures of bridges being swept away – images every bit as shocking as those seven years ago when the pictures were of burning pyres of dead cows on the Cumbrian fells. At Newby Bridge, our hotel is the only one of the four large hotels to have escaped – the others will be closed until the New Year. This footage is of the River Levens at Newby Bridge and the River Kent outside the Riverside Hotel (still standing).
When the water level on Lake Windermere rose by 9ft on Friday, closing the roads to Ambleside, there seemed to be little prospect of opening the Interiors Show at the Low Wood Hotel on the shores of the Lake as planned on the Monday morning. Cancellation would have been disastrous for Lakes Hospitality as the Show is one of the two big money events of the year. But nothing fazes Gail, the Show’s indefatigable organisor and when the roads re-opened over the weekend she declared “business as usual”.
Spaghetti Vongole. There’s something about the combination of seafood, olive oil, garlic and parsley which is irresistible. In this video clip our 11 year old daughter Sara shows that Spaghetti Vongole is a doddle to prepare. This recipe is the Sicilian version; on the Amalfi coast they add cherry tomatoes. The clams are from Kendal Fisheries on Stramongate, Kendal.
It was interesting to see echoes of our own “Hard Rain” artwork here at Yewbarrow House. Alan Ward’s carvings are an ironic reference to our own damp climatic conditions and the fact that the sculpture garden looks out onto the Heysham Nuclear reactor. I photographed Mark Edwards’ pictures and my daughter Joanna has used the photos to compile a slide-show accompanied by Andy Hill and Renee Safier’s version of A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall (Sony blocked Dylan’s version when we tried to put it onto Youtube- what did I say about the great man’s attachment to money?). Here, are photos of some of Alan Ward’s “Hard Rain” carvings.
There’s a dramatic and moving open-air art exhibition entitled “Hard Rain” at St Martin’s in the Field, London. The exhibition, by photographer Mark Edwards, is based on the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s song “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” written in response to the Cuban missile crisis in 1963. Mark Edwards has cleverly adapted Dylan’s apocalyptic message from nuclear melt-down to climatic wipe-out. I wonder what Dylan would make of it- his protesting days are long gone and he has devoted the last 45 years to making music and money.
This pile of well rotted horse manure is the fuel for the garden for the forthcoming year. It has come from Witherslack Hall Equestrian Centre, where Careth, who used to be our receptionist at the Newby Bridge Hotel, is the Manager.
This living sculpture appeared in the garden overnight. There are two of them, each about 18 inches high and growing 50 yards apart. It’s a mushroom but I don’t know what type or whether it’s edible. It has grown from the soil and doesn’t seem to be attached to any root system or decaying timber. Funnily enough, just as I was wondering what it was a letter appeared in Country Life with a photo of a very similar one asking the same question. If anyone knows, please enlighten me.
I’m with George Ergatoudis the head of Music at Radio 1, at Sound Nightclub in Leicester square, promoting the Heroes of She’s latest single, Burning In Flames (see below). The event is hosted by AIM, (The Association of Independent Music) and is an opportunity for small labels such as ours to meet some of the big players in the industry.
The delightful and gorgeously pretty Victoria Hoe came to the Riverside Hotel today to film a piece for ITV’s “Lookaround” about whether people should be penalised for owning a second home in the Lakes. Our MP, Tim Farron, has proposed that second home owners here should pay double council tax, a policy which I strongly oppose. We filmed the piece on the new balcony at the Riverside with the river raging a torrent below.
“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify. Simplify." -Thoreau
The essence of the Slow Life is simplicity. Some people have decided that to pursue the Slow Life they have to eschew technology. They crave the simple life before progress made it complicated. For my part I love progress, I love technology but I love it best when it’s simple. Most innovative products can’t resist the temptation to over-complicate and to add every possible feature, most of which the average customer doesn’t want or need.
At the Royal Yacht Club, Bowness, giving a presentation alongside a spokesman from the Bank of England to 60 guests of the Royal Bank of Scotland. The title of my talk was “Tourism, the local perspective, 2010 and beyond”. I followed the ‘Dave’ Cameron style of ‘no tie, no script’, which to my mind is much more friendly than a power-point presentation.
Our Wagyu Bull Paul has died suddenly, unexpectedly and tragically. Paul was one of the first three pure bred Wagyus to be born in this country and as such lived his life under the spotlight. Even the moment of his conception was filmed for TV when a frozen embryo was transferred to one of our pedigree Galloway cows who acted as surrogate mother. When he and two brothers were born they were again on TV and in the National Press and were subsequently the subject of a 25 minute programme for Radio 4. Paul’s brothers were castrated and are due to be slaughtered for beef when they are 31 months old but Paul as the strongest and best looking was left intact as he had been chosen to be the resident bull for the Wagyu herd, which would have ensured him a long a productive life. Paul’s carcass was taken to Carlisle for a full post mortem to determine the reason for his death but no cause could be found, so his death remains a mystery.
I’ve received a directive from Defra telling me that the government has decreed that farmers must reduce green house gas emissions, ‘to at least 6% lower than currently predicted by 2020’. As the, ‘currently predicted’ figure isn’t stated the directive is meaningless but they say that agriculture is responsible for 7% of total emissions and that methane (which cows emit) is 25 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. This coincides with Lord Stern’s call for us all to give up eating meat (and presumably say good bye to wool and leather) to save the planet.
The idea of Slow Life is to take the principles of Slow Food, which are “good, clean and fair”, and extend them to life in general.
Here in the Lake District, the air is clean, the pace is slow and the atmosphere is calm. If we don’t grow food ourselves, we can buy it in friendly small shops, where you know the quality is going to be the best.
This blog is a celebration of the Slow Life, with forays into the world of design, music, the arts, gardens, and my particular weakness, Japan.