Saturday 7 April 2018 . telegraph.co.uk *** I N S I D E TO DAY Y FAMILY LIFE FOOD & DRINK Wh I learnt when What I went back to primary school Rialto! page 16 AGONY UNCLE E Russell Norman’s man’s spring flavours from m Venice page 9 Graham Norton ton ve is here to solve ms your problems GARDENING Cedric Morris’s paradise of pollen and paint page 30 Saturday page 18 The great British weekend starts here And the bride wore trainers: 2018’s wedding checklist INDIA HOBSON Floral installations, doughnut walls, mismatched dresses, hag dos and brass bands... Claire Cohen explains what you’ll be seeing a lot of this summer *** Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph COVER STORY THE DRESS D ense, alcohol-soaked and more than a little bit fruity, for decades it has been an essential component of any respectable British wedding – and I’m not talking about a blue-blooded groom. Yet, now it seems that the reign of the fruitcake is over, at least if you’ve been paying attention to the impending nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Last month, the very modern Royal couple announced that their wedding cake would be a lemon and elderflower buttercream affair, whipped up by east London baker Claire Ptak. And by the reaction from more traditional quarters, you would have been forgiven for thinking that Californian-born Meghan had suggested the May 19 ceremony be held in a London nightclub, rather than St George’s Chapel, Windsor, on the Queen’s estate. As a bride-to-be myself, I gave a knowing nod when I read about Harry and Meghan’s decision to leave fruitcake off the guest list. Because if there’s one thing that is rapidly coming to define the 2018 wedding, it is the overturning of traditions by brides and grooms determined to do things their own way. y of identikit Gone are the days receptions, featuring jam ja jars, bunting and choreographed choreog first d dances. Ins Instead, co couples are fo focusing on on their pe personalities and adding as m as many individ individual touches as they can muster. touches as With my own wedding just months away (219 days, not that I’m counting), it all seems a bit daunting. And I’m not even facing the prospect of being watched on television by three billion people. Hours spent trawling Instagram and wedding blogs have left me surprised at the inventiveness that has transformed what used to be a relatively formulaic occasion into something approaching a festival, at which guests worship at the altar of the couple’s creativity. That’s not to say that there aren’t trends, of course. And more than a few “unique” elements have, inevitably, ended up being widely imitated. So even if you’re planning to ditch the fruitcake (or forgo a cake entirely), there are still some ingredients no discerning couple should be seen without in 2018… Within hours of her 1981 wedding, copies of Princess Diana’s dress were for sale. Its puffed sleeves and full skirt set trends for years after. Similarly, the Duchess of Cambridge’s Alexander McQueen gown saw lace and long sleeves become the bridal fashion du jour and replicas are still available to buy online. Even her sister’s wedding last year was influential, says Hamish Shephard, founder of wedding planning website bridebook.co.uk: “Within 24 hours Pippa Middleton had set trends, with spikes in online searches for her style of high-necked dress.” But while traditional silhouettes are still popular, many women are turning away from the classic white frock. My searches on popular “real wedding” websites such as Love My Dress reveal more women are choosing separates – with the idea that a top and skirt are probably easier to re-wear. These modern brides are leaving their hair loose and applying bright red lipstick: maximum impact for minimum effort. “Brides are definitely questioning tradition more,” says Susie Young of wedding planners Knot & Pop. “Pale blues, soft greys and pinks are on the rise, with print and embroidery applications from the likes of north London’s Hermione de Paula proving popular.” Shephard has noticed a surge in high street wedding dresses: “Asos and Topshop are catering for the bride who wants to spend her budget on something else,” he says – often designer shoes, with the popularity of stilettos (usually Manolos, as worn by Carrie in Sex and the City) showing no sign of being toppled – despite many brides also buying metallic Converse or Superga trainers to change into for dancing. Many brides opt for two dresses, says Shephard. “They want the long white one for the ceremony and wedding breakfast, then something else to party in. Many are choosing jumpsuits, which Jenny Packham has in her new collection [pictured above]. It’s all about wearing something white and spectacular, but without a 20ft train.” And for the gents? In its 2018 wedding report, Pinterest said the three-piece tweed suit was the one to watch, and noted the growing trend for grooms to go tieless. Though what Grandma might say about that remains to be seen… GETTY IMAGES; PATRICK KERRIGAN-HALL; CLAIRE PENN 2 THE GUEST LIST Traditionally the most fraught element of planning any wedding. Whether you’re having 50 or 250, a line must be drawn in the sand – and in days gone by, who made it under the wire was down to the couple’s parents. But, says Susie Young, increasing numbers are now able to pay for all, or most, of their own big days – the average age for a British woman to get married now being 30.8 years old and 32.7 for a man, meaning the parental grip has loosened. “Weddings with fewer than 100 are on the rise, as couples opt for more intimate celebrations with their nearest and dearest,” Young says. “This could be linked to the parental influence lessening, as many couples choose to self-fund their wedding, which therefore means less say from the parents on the guest list.” So if you haven’t seen Aunt Mildred in a decade, or your cousin clearly dislikes your wife-to-be, there’s no pressure to send them a manila envelope. There is nothing so irritating as thinking you’re being really clever and original, then realising that 100 other couples have done exactly the same thing. That’s exactly how I felt, on discovering that the “alternative” hog roast we were planning for our wedding reception was, in fact, the height of fashion, with spits popping up everywhere from Scotland to Shoreditch. Thankfully, Young has predicted the end of feasting for 2018 nuptials. “The sharing style of dining is losing popularity,” she says. “If couples still want this, they would rather it be for one course, rather than the full meal.” In fact, adds Shephard, the wedding breakfast isn’t necessarily the main event any more – it’s the late-night snacks that are taking centre stage: “People are now being really experimental with food trucks and mobile bars,” he explains. “You can get any food you want from crepe stations to Land Rovers with pizza ovens in the back.” At his own wedding, 18 months ago? It was midnight cheese on toasted crumpets – naturally. If you haven’t seen Aunt Mildred in years, there’s no pressure to send her a manila envelope the likes of Ruth Tomlinson and Polly Wales. Prince Harry designed Meghan’s ring himself with court jeweller Cleave and Company, after which online searches for bespoke rings shot up. Now wedding rings themselves are getting in on the act. Global craft e-commerce site Etsy has identified “stacking rings” as one of its major wedding trends for 2018. “Now some brides are opting to stack their favourite colour gemstones or birthstones together for a custom bridal look. It’s perfect for the bride-to-be who doesn’t want to be traditional,” it states. “A rising trend for wedding rings is for them to be cast out of an heirloom piece of jewellery,” adds Shephard. “While this is actually cost-saving in itself, as the majority cost of a ring is THE HEN AND STAG DOS We all know the drill: the groom and his closest 40 pals invade a (usually foreign) city and do their best “Britons abroad” impression, while the bride and her friends have a girly day out instead; spa, chocolate-making, wine tasting and so on. And, if reports are to be believed, it seems that Harry and Meghan are following this welltrodden path – with the groom’s party apparently searching for the perfect stag do hideaway, and Meghan’s besties organising a UK-based “bachelorette”, somewhere like Soho Farmhouse. But not all British brides and grooms are content to turn this into a battle of the sexes. Increasing numbers are opting instead for a “hag” or “sten”, which sees both male and female friends invited. This year should see this trend become more mainstream, as modern couples throw off what they see as outdated gendered conventions. Although if British Vogue is to be believed, the best way to do an “alternative” hen do this year is to take a life drawing class, have afternoon tea or drink “flirty cocktails” at trendy London restaurant Kitty Fisher’s. THE RINGS Left-field engagement rings – think coloured stones and rose gold bands – have been on the up for some time now, with newly engaged couples seeking out individual designs from THE FOOD *** The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018 OUT WITH THE OLD Many couples are ditching long-held traditions THE VENUE The boho wedding trend, declares Shephard, is “on its way out”. Instead, couples want venues that reflect their personalities. Many opt for an industrial, masculine feel with exposed pipework, dark wood features (my own has a whisky bar). Neon lighting and signs – reading “Til Death Do Us Party” or “All You Need is Love” – are also on trend, with table plans and place settings printed on clear acrylic. And the popularity of fairy and festoon lights shows no sign of dimming. Young also points to a fashion for installations: “Rather than a guestbook, couples are getting more immersive – whether it be an envelope wall with individual cards, posters to sign (that can then be placed in the home), or even wallpaper to write on.” But Shephard has noticed a swing in the other direction: “More classical weddings in English country houses are on the way back. Lots of couples have been inspired by Pippa Middleton’s wedding.” These are often three-day events, he adds, with a rehearsal dinner on the Friday, wedding on the Saturday and “hungover brunch” on Sunday. Young agrees: “Exclusive homestays, such as Dewsall Court in Hereford, operate on a two or three-day hire which allows couples and guests to enjoy a full weekend of celebrations. Couples love the idea of this extended celebration for guests to properly relax, unwind and enjoy the occasion.” ‘Some traditions are lovely and give good structure to the day, but it’s your day, so have it your way’ THE SPEECHES Rumour has it that Meghan Markle, a self-proclaimed feminist, is planning to give a speech on the big day. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that a woman in 2018 might want to speak at her own wedding and it certainly shouldn’t prove so controversial – but a recent YouGov poll found that only 16 per cent of those surveyed thought the bride should. Despite this, increasing numbers are breaking with tradition. “Thankfully more women are taking to the mic for speeches, bringing a woman’s voice to the all male line-up,” says Young. “Some traditions are lovely experiences and give good structure to the day, but you’re in charge; you can either go with them, ditch them or give them a twist. It’s your day, so have it your way.” Shephard, too, has seen a rise in speeches from women and a Bridebook survey found that 47 per cent of its female members planned to say something. “A lot more people find it weird and archaic that only the men speak,” he says, adding that he’s “very confident Meghan will. It’s a great trend to start.” THE CAKE Those who think Harry and Meghan’s elderflower cake is an affront to tradition should probably look away now. Because increasingly, couples are choosing to ditch it entirely – no tiers please. Trendy options now include doughnut walls (think a giant vertical hoopla, with gourmet glazed rings from the likes of Crosstown hung on wooden pegs) and macarons. “Cakes” made up from cheese wheels and pork pies are still popular, too. “Many couples are choosing to have a smaller cake so they can get a photograph of THE HONEYMOON Forget jetting off for two weeks in the Bahamas – 2018’s newlyweds want adventure and are prepared to wait for it. The “mini moon” trend – where a couple indulge in a week-long break to unwind immediately after the big day, and later take a three-week “official honeymoon” – is still very much alive. Lonely Planet has identified its “must go” honeymoon destinations for this year, with Switzerland coming out top and African safaris second – surely happy news for Harry and Meghan, who have revealed that their love blossomed on a romantic holiday to Botswana. the raw metal, it also adds fantastic significance to the bands themselves. “My own wedding ring was cast out of a diamond ring I inherited from my grandmother, and whose stone I proposed to my wife with.” popular option – at least, anecdotally – is for the couple to stay together the night before the wedding. “After all,” as one recently married friend told me, “we’d have been far too tired and sloshed to consummate the marriage on the night itself.” THE BRIDAL PARTY As more and more couples question traditional gender roles, so the bridal party has been broken up. “I have had couples who had usherettes, bridesmates, and have challenged preconceived roles and the divisions of the sexes. And I’m so grateful it’s happening,” says Susie Young. Others are doing away with it altogether. Full disclosure: I am not having bridesmaids, but instead plan to ask my closest friends to “get ready” with me on the morning of the wedding. Where couples are choosing to have bridesmaids and ushers, they are increasingly allowed to wear what they want and sit where they want at the wedding breakfast (top tables being horribly old-fashioned). So the days of being forced into a peach satin frock that makes even the best of us look like a sausage trying to escape from its casing could finally be over. THE ‘FIRST LOOK’ While most still choose to see each other for the first time as the bride walks down the aisle, the “first look” is set to be big for 2018 – when the couple meet before the ceremony for some peaceful time together and a photo opportunity. “The trend has made its way from America, and is something that UK couples are starting to embrace more,” says Young. “I think it’s a lovely and very intimate moment, and can help to alleviate any stress if there is anxiety over the ceremony and all eyes being on the couple.” Shephard adds that it’s a good way to ensure you look your best in photographs, as “you won’t have cried yet. After the ceremony and a few drinks, there’s a chance you might not be looking your best.” He thinks it’s something Harry and Meghan might well choose to do: “It’s quite likely and the chances of them getting any quiet time once the day has started would be very tricky. Meghan will probably be terrified and it would be a good chance to calm each other down.” And for those who think the “first look” takes away some of the wedding day magic, another increasingly THE CEREMONY THE FLOWERS Over the past few years, you haven’t been able to move at weddings for wildflowers – which took over from antique roses as the bloom du jour. That trend is set to continue, says Ellie Jauncey of the Flower Appreciation Society, although she has observed “ a shift away from the country-style, jam jar shoving-in approach”. This year’s displays will be “much more considered, because Instagram has made the expectations brides have so much higher. Every flower has to be placed perfectly.” Couples still want wildflowers, she adds, but with an emphasis on “more unusual varieties, like butterfly ranunculus which are new this year”. The palette is “more muted: paredback neutrals, caramels and dark plum”, which should suit Harry and Meghan, whose flowers are being curated by society favourite Philippa Craddock, using foliage from Windsor Great Park, such as hornbeam, white roses and foxgloves. They could also opt for the other major 2018 wedding floristry trend: installations. Jauncey is increasingly asked by clients for trailing greenery and vines – well, the Instagram crowd needs something to pose with. Thought this was the one area of a wedding day that remained sacred, untroubled by trends? Think again. The 2018 ceremony has already taken on a very particular look… behind closed doors. “People are getting [legally] married before the event and then having a ‘ceremony’ in front of friends that’s more personal,” explains Shephard – citing humanist weddings, led by a celebrant who might be a member of the family or a friend. Where couples are choosing to legally marry in front of their nearest and dearest, they are still playing around with tradition. One trend is to ask the congregation to sing popular songs instead of hymns – think everything from Somewhere Over the Rainbow to Two Become One by the Spice Girls (who are rumoured to be performing for Harry and Meghan). A friend recently had us all belting out Can You Feel the Love Tonight from The Lion King – and rarely have I heard such passionate singing. Similarly, readings are erring on the side of modern. Forget Winnie the Pooh, The Velveteen Rabbit and those other children’s storybook passages that have characterised weddings over the past decade; this year’s millennial couples are seeking out readings that capture the “reality of marriage” – think John Cooper Clarke’s poem I Wanna Be Yours (“I wanna be your vacuum cleaner/ breathing in your dust/ I wanna be your Ford Cortina/ I will never rust”). And THAT Captain Corelli’s Mandolin passage that everyone has used over the past two decades is also very much out. On wedding blogs, I’ve come across everything from the couple’s online dating profiles to one of Mary Berry’s recipes being read aloud. Vows, too, have taken on a 21st-century twist, with couples making personal promises that speak to their lives together (example: “I promise to leave you to go to the loo in peace”) as well as the standard “for richer, for poorer”. “It’s all very British, adding that sense of humour,” explains Shephard. “Couples are taking it seriously – but not too seriously.” them cutting it as a souvenir,” says Shephard. “But the days of the huge fruitcake are probably over.” Young agrees. “It really has declined considerably,” she says. “If a couple are opting for it, it’s normally just a small tier and a request that’s come from the parents.” THE DANCING Ah, the first dance, that signifier for guests to swig down the last of the wedding breakfast wine and throw some shapes. There’s just one problem: modern brides and grooms aren’t that keen on being gawked at, as they sway awkwardly to a Michael Bublé ballad. Thus, the 2018 wedding crowd has largely split into two camps: those who don’t have a first dance and simply pull their friends on to the dance floor the second the music starts, and those who choose a song so upbeat and irresistible that their loved ones have joined in by the time the chorus comes around (see my friends who plumped for Sex on Fire by Kings of Leon). Live bands are still very much in favour. The majority of couples are still seeking out the very best covers band they can afford, though more imaginative souls might look further afield. Klezmer music has become popular, while Hackney Colliery Band – who bring the brass “big band” sound up to date, with versions of modern songs – are a favourite with discerning types. 3 4 *** Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph 5 *** The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018 JOINING THE CLUB Pop princess Kylie Minogue, who will turn 50 next month V E RY BRITISH P RO B L E M S Is it just me… SHANE WATSON PEOPLE WATCHING Kylie looks fab as she approaches 50 – but here’s what happens in your sixth decade that the celebrities won’t tell you about… GETTY IMAGES; MEGA; WIREIMAGE FOR E BY EQUINOX D oesn’t Kylie look amazing at 50 (in a month)? She’s not fighting it, she says, she is “feeling it” and taking the lead from her 50-something girlfriends who “seem to inhabit themselves more”. Well, she would say that, wouldn’t she? These are the kinds of things women turning 50 say, along with “I finally feel comfortable in my own skin” and “It’s liberating to no longer care what other people think”. That’s fine. But what they’re really thinking is, “Do not lump me in with those old losers. I don’t wish to be in the 50-something club, so now I’m hell-bent on being a Gofha [Good For Her Age or maybe even Great For Her Age] and I’m making it my mission to claw back the attention that I feel slipping away, by being the exception: the fabulous dynamic one who no one can believe is a day over 40.” Kylie is talking up 50, which is very much the modern way. But honestly, as someone who has been 50, and now knows exactly what it entails, I think we’d prefer to have the facts straight up, no sugaring the pill. Less talk of feeling empowered and more sisterly advice such as: brace yourself for some hairdressing bills like you wouldn’t believe. (Your hair really disappoints once you turn 50. Those women with hair as thick and glossy as the day they became famous… it’s a wig.) Here are some other things that happen to everyone in their sixth decade, which celebrities will not tell you about. You can’t find your friends in a crowd. Everyone looks roughly the same. Is it OK to… Be sceptical about Ben Fogle’s claim that the BBC sacked him from Countryfile, back in 2009, because of his “inaccessible” posh accent? Sounds entirely plausible. Anti-posh feeling ebbs and flows and you just have to go with it if you are a posho. But it is worth pointing out that Jack Whitehall’s rise began in about 2009, Joanna “madly darling” Lumley is always presenting on TV, Stephen Fry has not been short of TV jobs over the past decade and Monty Don is very posh, as is Mary Berry. There are plenty of poshos on our TV screens but maybe some silky, wet-boy posh accents grate more than others? You get oblong limbs. Everything gets trunky. Maybe not if you are doing two hours of Pilates a day, but in all other circs. All the things you assumed made you look cute now make you look blokey, for example Puffa jackets and boyfriend jeans. Your neck. Very disappointing and nothing to be done. Small earrings disappear on you. Everything you wear from now on needs to be beefed up 25 per cent. You can’t do anything without warming up. Your digestion is all over the place. You have to eat dates every day, or else. You can’t wear the high heels that were fine up until a month ago. You feel ungainly, and they hurt. You become less easy-going: you don’t want to be fed at 10pm; you don’t want to drink the £5.99 paint stripper; you don’t want to sleep under the stars. You become acutely bathroom-aware and bed-quality conscious… green shoots of fussy. You become fresher at parties, and may or may not be convinced that everyone fancies you (because you are a Gofha). You must say goodbye to baby pink (hello if you are male) and almost all hats. You will take up painting, or dancing, or singing, or step up the gardening, or move house just so you can flex your new creative urges. You start to crack down really hard on your partner who has to get with the new programme, and ideally learn a language/retrain as an architect/change totally. Best of luck, Kylie. Rob Temple on the small anxieties of daily life WITH THE NEIGHBOURS 1 Being baffled how your neighbour manages to mow a lawn no larger than a double bed for nine hours a day. 2 Knowing it’s more likely you’ll canoe to the Moon than “come next door for drinks some time!”. 3 Wondering what crime you committed in a previous life to deserve your parcel being left with someone on your street. 4 Becoming worryingly obsessed with how and where everyone is parking their car. 5 Greeting your neighbour with a cheery “Oh, hello!” after a night of violently banging on their wall. 6 Doing an SAS-style flat crawl around the house after you exit the bathroom naked only to find that someone’s opened all the curtains. 7 Trying to find the huge sign saying “CAT LAVATORY” that’s apparently somewhere on your front garden. 8 Needing to post a card through your neighbour’s letterbox, so dressing head to toe in black and doing it at 4am. 9 Being curious as to how and why the person with wooden floors who lives above you has apparently come to own a basketball-playing hippo. 10 Deciding to have a lie-in on the morning your neighbour’s diary says “Get the drill and do a full day’s drilling”. Rob Temple’s latest book, Very British Problems Vol 3: Still Awkward, Still Raining (Sphere) is available from books. telegraph.co.uk. Follow Rob on Twitter: @SoVeryBritish ILLUSTRATION: TOM MCGUINNESS FOR THE TELEGRAPH Who saw that picture of Meghan Markle’s father out and about carrying the book Images of Britain (A Pictorial Journey Through History) and thought, “That’s a bit Homer Simpson,” as well as feeling sorry for Mr Markle, who was looking forward to retiring and now has the Tudors and Stuarts for homework. Also, if he really feels duty-bound to swot up on British culture, wouldn’t he do better downloading some basic educational TV? So, Towie. MiC. Britain’s Got Talent. Gogglebox. Downton, of course. Location, Location, Location (or Cash in the Attic), Countryfile and Match of the Day. Wouldn’t that be more help in the long run? *** Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph STYLE When it comes to shoes, handbags and sunglasses, the way forward is clear, says Emily Cronin S ometimes the same staples and motifs appear in catwalk trend reports season after season: leopard print, checks, trench coats, lace, sheerness. While we’ve become accustomed to sheer skirts, tops and dresses layered on models in varying configurations, designers took the idea to another level for spring-summer es. 2018 with a raft of clear accessories. rio Helmut Lang, Céline and Emporio Armani featured clear handbags in their shows. Karl Lagerfeld reached ng “peak clear” at Chanel, waterproofing s, his models with transparent raincoats, bags and boots. Ellery and Simone Rocha’s perspex-heeled Mary Janes and ankle boots and Neous’s PVCpanelled mules are beloved by in-the-know accessories hounds, while Gucci’s star-spangled sunglasses make the case for clear frames. There’s an element of Nineties nostalgia to all this, but clear accessories date back further. In the Fifties and Sixties, designers delighted in the novelty of clear handbags. Later, Pierre Cardin and André Courrèges became obsessed with the futuristic feel of glossy, man-made fabrics like PVC, mixing vinyl skirts with clear plastic headpieces and accessories. The advantages of see-through accessories are (sorry) clear. Helen Mirren has noted the leg-lengthening effects of plastic platform “stripper” heels on the red carpet (although inadvisable from a style perspective, she’s not wrong). The new clear handbags make terrific, lightweight alternatives to leather bags in summer, and are a safer way to buy into the sheer trend than by, say, wearing an organza pencil skirt over high-waisted pants. The trend is highly Instagrammable, too – see Eva Chen’s back-of-taxi pics with her Staud bag. Vintage plastic can discolour and be brittle, so check older pieces carefully. If you find a good one, clean with window spray and store in a soft cloth bag to avoid dust. A word of warning: going seethrough gives the world a glimpse inside your handbag, so curate its contents with care. Put less photogenic belongings in opaque pouches inside a large, clear tote – and walk out with nothing to hide. THE BEST CLEAR ACCESSORIES TO WEAR NOW VINYL VINY Y TOTE BAG £29.99 Zara (zara.com) £29.99, TIBI PVC BELT £54 Shopbop £54, p (shopbop.com m) (shopbop.com) ISABEL MARANT N PERSPE X DROP P PERSPEX EARRIN EARRINGS £180,, matc matchesfashion.com) hesfashion n.com) n.co MINI TRANSLUCENT NSLUCENT BAG £29.40, Nordstrom (shop. nordstrom.com) MARYAM NASSIR ZA ADEH PERSPEX ZADEH W WEDGE SANDAL LS SANDALS £4 £437, 437, The Modist 437 hemo em dist.com) (themodist.com) CAT-EYE SUNGLASSES SUNGLA WITH STARS STAR I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW £645, 645, Gu Gucci (gucci.com) D U S T O F F YO U R . . . Models backstage at Chanel’s SS18 ready to wear show S E E -T H RO UG H AC C E S S O R I E S STAUD TAU U D SHIRLEY S HIR HIRLEY HI LEY CR CROCCROC-EFFECT OC O C EFF EFFECT E ECT LEATHER LEATH LE ATHER ATH ER AND AN VC TOTE £175, netaporter.com PVC TRACKING THE TREND 1966 FUTURISTIC AND FUN French shoe designer Roger Vivier made a splash with this pair of orange and crystal-clear plastic boots – the low, wearable heel almost balancing out the clamminess of knee-high plastic. An instant mod classic. 2009 CHANDELIER DRESSING Prada’s spring-summer 2010 collection will forever be remembered in fashion circles as the one that launched the chandelier dress – and the chandelier sandal, a clear Perspex sandal dangling with crystal baubles that became an instant sell-out. 2018 READY FOR APRIL SHOWERS For Chanel’s SS18 collection, Karl Lagerfeld layered his models up in showerproof accessories. The clear hats, capelets and boots made a strong statement, but the transparent handbags and totes were the pieces everyone wanted to take home. GETTY;AFP/GETTY;GAMMA-KEYSTONE VIA GETTY;WIREIMAGE 6 7 *** The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018 BODY & MIND H OW N O T TO DIE (YET) Way, a book he hopes will teach people how to apply the ancient principles of the art in their day-to-day lives. “Ceramics are fragile, strong and beautiful all at once, just like people,” he says. “Ceramics and life can break apart into a thousand pieces, but not for that reason should we stop living intensely.” n Japan, kintsugi is the anIt’s all about cient art of repairing what healing our emohas been broken. Frag- tional wounds and ments of a dropped ce- rebuilding our ramic bowl are scooped up lives, becoming and put back together; stronger in the mended using lacquer process. The first dusted with powdered step to living a gold that leaves the repair visible. The kintsugi life, Navrevitalised ceramic becomes a symbol arro says, is to not of fragility, strength and beauty. be scared of takBut now, kintsugi, which translates ing risks and getas “golden joinery”, is the latest lifestyle ting damaged. trend promising to transform our lives. “Do not try to live Beyond its interior decorating roots, it a pleasant life can be seen as a metaphor for life, says without suffering, Tomás Navarro, a psychologist (pic- because if you do tured right). Having spent 20 years as a you will be resigncounsellor, Navarro was struck by how ing yourself to surviving instead of livmany people talked about feeling “bro- ing intensely,” he says. ken” after enduring heartbreak, grief It is unrealistic to expect life will aland trauma. ways be wonderful. It’s inevitable that, As a result he was inspired to write even when taking the utmost care, Kintsugi: Embrace Your Imperfections fragile things, such as our favourite and Find Happiness – The Japanese mug, will occasionally break. Likewise, we all suffer illness, tragedy and the loss of loved ones. Adversity is a collateral element of living. Don’t concern adapt it little by want to feel While Navarro has noyourself with little to your better, you need ticed people have different being happy, new situation. to take action. abilities to cope with adverinstead focus on sity, he says “emotional being strong. Focus on Do not stay strength can be learned”. enjoying the anchored in the By being prepared for the Come to terms present, because past, stop inevitable, when challengwith the fact the future is reliving what ing times happen, we can apadversity is part beyond your happened. ply kintsugi. Instead of of life, so do not control. sweeping our problems unavoid, ignore or A scar der the metaphorical carpet, reject it. Do not wait reminds us that we can put ourselves back until you hit we have been together in a way that em Accept that rock bottom to strong and braces the challenges we your life has start picking up overcome have faced as part of our life’s changed and the pieces. If you adversity. journey, while acknowledg- A NEW CHAPTER Revitalised ceramics show fragility and strength Boudicca FoxLeonard learns how a Japanese approach to repairing imperfections can help people cope HOW TO LIVE KINTSUGI GETTY IMAGES I ing that it is our scars that make us strong and interesting people. What does this mean in practical terms? For a client of Navarro’s who has overcome breast cancer, kintsugi is wearing a swimsuit on the beach and being proud of her mastectomy scars. “She was afraid of those scars at first. But I told her to relax. Those imperfections are her story and show how strong she is,” he says. However, being too stoical is not kintsugi. There’s a difference between repairing and patching up, says Navarro. “Do not underestimate what has happened, do not trivialise the conse- quences of adversity.” If we don’t properly take time to repair and reflect on life’s challenges, we are at risk of miring ourselves in selfpity and victimisation. Indeed, according to legend, kintsugi was invented in the 15th century when shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa broke his favourite Chinese tea bowl and sent it back to China to be repaired. The bowl was returned, fixed, but held together by ugly metal staples. The coarseness of the repair spurred the Japanese craftsman on to find a more elegant solution. For Navarro, art itself is an important tool for helping us to repair. He recommends writing, building a sandcastle, learning to crochet, doing a collage; anything that occupies the mind. “When we are immersed in a creative process, we adopt a new perspective that allows us to analyse the pain that we’ve suffered, and transform it into something beautiful.” Kintsugi: Embrace Your Imperfections and Find Happiness – The Japanese Way by Tomás Navarro (Hodder & Stoughton) is available at books.telegraph.co.uk for £14.99 plus p&p. Dr Phil Hammond’s guide to living longer YOUNG HEARTS RUN FREE Telling kids to exercise now to keep their hearts ticking years later can sound as enticing as getting them to save for a pension. But an Australian study of rats suggests that early exercise improves not just the strength and size of the mammalian heart, but increases the number of muscle cells in it. What’s more, these extra cells live on in adult hearts. Researchers took healthy male rats and kept some of them sedentary while making others run on treadmills. The runners were divided into three groups, each of which began exercising at a different stage of life – childhood, adolescence and adulthood. After a month of daily hour-long workouts at a moderate pace, the hearts of some were examined microscopically. Exercise was then curtailed for the rest of the rats, which spent the next several months Rats that ran in childhood had millions of additional cardiac-muscle cells (roughly equivalent to 10 human years) inactive. Once they reached full adulthood, their hearts were examined. Rat runners at all ages had bigger, stronger hearts than their inactive counterparts, but those that ran in childhood had millions of additional cardiac-muscle cells. And these extra heart cells found in both young and adolescent rats remained in their hearts after they reached adulthood, despite the cessation of exercise. Whether this applies to humans remains to be seen, but we know that y age. g exercise is beneficial at any n’t know is how to get kids What we don’t ds away from iPads ns and PlayStations e to discover the joys of getting breathless during the school holidays. uld Perhaps we could ters power computers ls. with treadmills. Dr Phil Hammond is an NHS doctor, authorr and ur dates comedian. Tour mond. at drphilhammond. com ILLUSTRATION: TOM MCGUINNESS FOR THE TELEGRAPH Finding the beautiful in the broken 8 *** Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph *** The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018 Food & Drink 9 K AT H Y KO R DA L I S Honeycomb rum – and other stories ories Page ge 12 I N F U S E YO U R B O O Z E / B R I N G A B O T T L E / W I N E S O F T H E W E E K Spaghetti with onions This is a store cupboard staple, a dish you should be able to make without going to the shops, assuming that every larder has plenty of dried pasta and that your kitchen, like mine, is never without onions. It is probably the dish made most frequently by my Venetian neighbours if they want a quick, no-fuss lunch, and it has become a favourite of mine, too. SERVES FOUR INGREDIENTS 6 medium white onions 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 200ml chicken stock 400g dried spaghetti Large knob of butter Flaky sea salt Handful of flat parsley leaves, chopped 100g parmesan, grated METHOD Peel the onions and, using a very sharp knife, carefully slice each one to create complete rings, around 5mm thick. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a low to medium heat. Add the sliced onions and slowly sauté for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure they don’t burn. They should take on a glossy, translucent appearance with a hint of golden brown here and there. Add the stock and cook for 10 more minutes. If the stock bubbles too fiercely, reduce the heat. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the spaghetti according to the packet’s instructions. When it’s al dente, drain the pasta and add it to the frying pan. Mix well over a gentle heat, adding the butter, a generous pinch of salt and pepper, the parsley and most of the parmesan. Take off the heat, incorporate fully, and serve on warm plates with the remaining parmesan scattered on top. Grilled asparagus, goat’s curd and speck bruschetta The transformative qualities of direct heat and flame, well known to fans of the barbecue, are less common in the domestic kitchen. For this reason, I do like to get my griddle pan out, not just for the tang of charring, but also the beautiful grill lines left on those ingredients that are subjected to the smoking hot, ribbed cooking surface. This dish occurred to me quite unexpectedly one morning at the fruit and veg barge on Via Garibaldi, simply because the asparagus had been displayed next to the pea shoots. The results were rather lovely. Speck is a delicious, lightly smoked prosciutto from Alto Adige, and you need to ask for it to be sliced so thinly that light passes through it when you hold a slice up to the window. SERVES FOUR INGREDIENTS 8 medium asparagus spears, woody ends removed Extra virgin olive oil Flaky sea salt 4 decent slices of sourdough bread, 2cm thick 1 clove of garlic, peeled 4 large slices of speck, very thinly sliced 150g goat’s curd Handful of pea shoots JENNY ZARINS METHOD If your asparagus spears are more than a centimetre The fabulous O flavours of a Venetian spring Tradition, simplicity and the finest ingredients make for unforgettable meals, as Polpo’s Russell Norman discovered during a year in Venice h, how I love spring. It’s my favourite season. It’s a time of rebirth and growth, both symbolically and literally. The deliverance from winter darkness seems almost miraculous, and when the daffodils, blossoms and bluebells finally come out, I feel like I can breathe again. I got the same sense of new life in the markets of Venice when I was living there last year writing my latest cookbook. It’s a culinary journey through the four seasons in one of the world’s most beautiful cities, and I knew I had to chart those changes in produce and dishes in real time by living, shopping and cooking side-by-side with my neighbours in the residential district of Castello. Taking a short walk to the floating greengrocer in Via Garibaldi or getting the waterbus to the Rialto fish market filled me with excitement and wonder. In the regions of Italy generally (and in Venice in particular) home cooks really don’t know what’s CONTINUED ON PAGE 10 J thick, you must blanch them first. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, put the asparagus in, and cook for two to three minutes maximum. Drain and plunge the spears into cold water for a minute, then dry and set aside. If your asparagus are more slender, you don’t need to prepare them, other than removing the woody stalk ends in both cases. Take the griddle pan and rub the entire cooking surface with a little olive oil. Place on a high heat. Take the asparagus spears and coat with olive oil, using your hands. Lay them on the griddle pan and crunch over some flaky sea salt. After a couple of minutes, carefully turn them over using kitchen tongs and do the same on all sides until you have nice, defined grill lines. Cut the spears at an angle into 3cm-long pieces. Set aside. Rub a little olive oil over both sides of each slice of bread and lay them on the hot griddle. A couple of minutes each side should give you nice dark grill marks on the bread, too. Slice the garlic clove in half and gently rub the cut edge over one side of each slice of sourdough. Carefully lay on the slices of speck, with a few folds to create some height. Crumble over the goat’s curd. Evenly distribute the asparagus pieces and scatter over the pea shoots. Finally, add a pinch of salt and a twist of black pepper and finish with a drizzle of olive oil. 10 *** Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph JENNY ZARINS FOOD & DRINK J CONTINUED FROM PAGE 9 Red onion pizza for dinner until they’ve been to the market and seen what’s available. Wherever I am, in Venice, London or at my home in rural Kent, certain ingredients get my pulse racing in spring. Asparagus is usually an early riser, appearing in southern England rather punctually in late March. It’s a vibrant symbol of life and fertility ( just look at the shape of those spears!) and such a thrilling flavour of spring that I eat it whenever I can, in various guises, all through the season until late June. Broad beans and peas will usually make their Italian debut in April (a month or two later in the UK) and I can’t get enough of those either: delicious, verdant pods of subtle sweetness. Following the seasons is very important to Venetian home cooks. Religious festivals and feasts fill the calendar, and the dishes served throughout the year are so intrinsically tied up with culture and tradition that it is almost heresy to veer from that protocol. Additionally, the guiding principle is always that simple is best. There is an inverse relationship between the quality of ingredients and how much you need to mess with them. This was the greatest lesson I learnt in Venice; the crucial edict in my 14-month quest to learn to cook like a 90-year-old Venetian granny. These recipes are just a few of my favourites from the spring chapter of my book and they are as easy to prepare with UK supermarket ingredients as they are with the romantic luxury of Italian regional markets. It is their simplicity that makes them Italian, not esoteric imported ingredients. With the exception of artichokes, revered in all of Italy but difficult to grow here, everything is available from either the deli shelf, the farms of Kent, Sussex and Herefordshire or the fishmongers of Dorset. The secret to good Italian cooking is good shopping, so buy the best ingredients you can afford. MAKES SIX PIZZAS Recipes from Venice: Four Seasons of Home Cooking by Russell Norman (Fig Tree, £26) INGREDIENTS For the pizza dough 500g very strong white bread flour 2 tsp fine salt 7g (1 sachet) easy-bake yeast Extra virgin olive oil For the tomato sauce 1 large onion, finely chopped 1 large carrot, finely chopped 1 large celery stalk, finely chopped 1 clove garlic, finely chopped 2 x 400g tins chopped Italian tomatoes 2 tbsp tomato purée Small handful of basil leaves, torn 1 bay leaf Flaky sea salt To assemble 6 very large handfuls of grated mozzarella 6 large red onions, peeled and finely sliced into rings Flaky sea salt Extra virgin olive oil 6 small handfuls of grated parmesan METHOD On a large, clean work surface, carefully put the flour into a small mound and evenly mix in the salt and the yeast. Make a well in the middle. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil and about 200ml of warm water from a measuring jug of 600ml. Evenly bring the flour in from the walls of the well and slowly mix into a firm dough. Add more warm water, a little at a time, kneading and mixing all the while. You should not need to use all the remaining 400ml, but make sure you do not make the dough too wet. When you have a thick, firm dough with a smooth consistency, continue to knead for a further 10 to 12 minutes, pulling back and pushing forward. If you prod your dough it should spring back slightly. Roll it into a ball, put it into a large bowl, cover it with oiled cling film and leave it in a warm place for about two to three hours, until it has doubled in size. When you are ready to make your pizzas, remove the now large dough ball, knock it back down to size on a floured work surface, divide it into six equal parts and roll into separate balls about the size of satsumas. The dough will keep in the fridge for up to 12 hours but remove it half an hour before you want to use it. For the sauce, heat a good few glugs of olive oil in a large pan. Sauté the onion, carrot, celery and garlic on a medium heat for 10 minutes, until soft and glossy. Do not brown. Add the tomatoes and purée and stir well. Add the basil, bay leaf and a good pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may need to add a splash or two of water if the sauce is too stiff – you want it to be loose and shiny. Test the seasoning and remove the bay leaf. Flatten and stretch the one of the dough balls on a floured surface until it is a rough disc of around 23cm or so. Try to resist the temptation to roll it too neatly. Leave the edges a bit thicker. Place it on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Using the back of a tablespoon, spread two tablespoons of the tomato sauce evenly over the dough base, stopping about 1cm from the edge. Preheat the oven as high as it will go. Scatter a handful of grated mozzarella over the pizza base, add a twist of pepper and a pinch or two of salt, and evenly distribute one of the sliced red onions over the top. Drizzle with a little olive oil and place the baking sheet directly on the top shelf of the oven, closing the door quickly. Bake for around five minutes, but watch it and remove when the edges are starting to darken and the cheese is bubbling a little. Remove the pizza and scatter over a handful of parmesan, with a scant drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt and a twist of black pepper. Repeat the process with the other dough balls and ingredients. *** The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018 Crab and chilli linguine The common-or-garden crabs of the Venetian lagoon are upstaged every spring and autumn by the moeche – miraculous little moulting crabs whose shells are soft for a tiny period of around 19 hours. But the rest of the time, it’s the spider crabs and larger Cromers that sit on the crushed ice slowly waving their claws and rotating their eyestalks. Their meat is delicious. Once cooked, they yield smoky, nutty, reddish-brown flesh from the body and fluffy, delicate white meat from the claws. Your fishmonger, and most supermarket fish counters, will sell the meat already dressed and neatly packed, which makes this an easy (yet impressive and tasty) dish to prepare. Broccoli and anchovy crostini This is inspired by a little ciccheto that I spotted behind the counter at a wine bar near the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. I’d never considered broccoli prepared any other way than very fresh, briefly boiled or steamed and served with lots of salt (having always associated soft, pulpy broccoli with school dinners). But here, mashed, with salty, tangy anchovies, it’s a completely different story. Perfect with a pre-prandial Campari and soda. SERVES FOUR A BAR SNACK FOR FOUR INGREDIENTS ½ French baguette 350g broccoli florets Flaky sea salt 2 small (28g) tins of anchovies ½ lemon Slice the baguette on an angle to create eight pieces 1cm thick. Lay them on a baking sheet and toast lightly under a grill for a few minutes each side until golden brown. Set aside. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the broccoli until quite soft but not too watery and mushy, about six minutes, depending on the size of the florets. Drain, rinse under cold running water, drain thoroughly again, then put in a large mixing bowl. Crunch over a generous amount of salt and a twist of black pepper, then, with a potato masher, roughly mash to a thick paste. Leave to stand for a minute or two. Open the tins of anchovies and separate the fish. There are normally eight to 10 fillets per 28g tin. Roughly chop half of them and add to the broccoli. Mix thoroughly. Spoon an equal amount of the broccoli/anchovy mix over the eight toast lozenges, drape an anchovy over each lengthways, add a twist of black pepper and a few drops of lemon juice, and serve as a bar snack. INGREDIENTS Extra virgin olive oil 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped Small glass of white wine 150g brown crabmeat 400g linguine 12 cherry tomatoes, halved 150g white crabmeat Large handful of flat parsley, chopped 1 lemon METHOD Heat a good glug of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, and gently sauté the garlic and chilli for a minute or two. Turn up the heat and pour in the white wine. When it starts to bubble fiercely, remove from the heat and add the brown crabmeat. Mix well into a paste. Meanwhile, cook the linguine according to the packet’s instructions, minus two minutes. Retain a cupful of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add the linguine to the pan along with the tomatoes, return to a medium heat and mix well, stirring for a minute or two. Add the white crabmeat, the parsley and a good pinch or two of salt. Stir well, using a little of the retained cooking water to loosen the sauce if necessary. Serve on four warmed plates with a drizzle of olive oil, a twist of black pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Baby artichoke risotto In spring, the stalls in the fruit and vegetable section of the Rialto Market are so laden with the spoils of the new season that I sometimes think they might collapse. The grocers shout, sing, grab, weigh, wrap and sell at such a rate it sometimes appears that they have multiple arms. The vegetable that upstages all the others is the artichoke. You will see the famous purple artichokes from Sant’Erasmo, a couple of miles away in the lagoon, but there are also similar varieties from Liguria, Savona and Tuscany. I tend to choose the smallest baby artichokes I can find. SERVES FOUR INGREDIENTS 1.5 litres vegetable stock Extra virgin olive oil 20 baby artichokes, trimmed of their stalks and hard outer leaves 1 large white onion, finely chopped 1 clove of garlic, peeled and very finely chopped Palmful of picked thyme leaves Flaky sea salt Glass of white wine 350g carnaroli rice Small handful of basil leaves, roughly torn Small handful of flat parsley, roughly chopped Large knob of butter 150g parmesan, grated Freshly ground black pepper METHOD Heat the stock in a large saucepan and keep it simmering gently at the back of the stove. In a separate large, heavy-bottomed pan for which you have a lid, heat a few glugs of olive oil and gently sauté the whole baby artichokes until they are starting to brown – about five minutes. Now add the chopped onion, garlic and thyme with a good pinch of salt, and continue to gently sauté for a further five minutes, until the onion is glossy and translucent but not browned. You may need to turn the heat down to prevent browning. Add the white wine, carefully stirring, and when it has almost all evaporated into that deliciously aromatic steam, add a large ladleful of stock. Cover the pan with the lid and very gently simmer for 10 minutes or so, until the artichokes are very tender. Remove the artichokes and set them aside, add the rice to the pan, mix thoroughly with the onions and add a ladleful of stock. When the liquid is almost all absorbed, add another ladleful of stock. Continue doing this, stirring gently, making sure the mixture never dries out but is not waterlogged either, for about 12 minutes. Take four of the loveliestlooking cooked artichokes and carefully quarter them lengthways. Roughly chop the remaining 16. Add the chopped artichokes to the risotto for the last 10 minutes or so of the cooking time, continuing to stir and adding more stock. When the rice is almost done (test a grain between your teeth – it should have a slight bite to it), add the basil, parsley and the knob of butter. Stir thoroughly until the butter has melted and remove from the heat. Scatter in most of the parmesan, fold a couple of times, then cover and rest for a minute. Prepare four warmed plates and spoon the risotto carefully into the centre of each. Evenly distribute the quartered artichokes and finish with a twist of black pepper, the remaining parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil. 11 12 *** FOOD & DRINK Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph Simple syrup MAKES 250ML TAKES 10 MINUTES INGREDIENTS 250ml boiling water 100g caster sugar Jazz up a G&T by infusing your booze METHOD Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan over a medium-high heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and add your choice of flavourings, or leave plain. Allow to cool. Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve into a sterilised glass jar or bottle, discarding any flavourings. Seal the jar tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to one month. TIP You can flavour this syrup with just about anything, including honey, ginger, lychee, green apple, vanilla, or even tea leaves or bags. JACQUI MELVILLE 2 cucumbers, thinly sliced lengthways 1 lime, thinly sliced 1 tbsp coriander seeds 1-3 tbsp simple syrup (see box) 700ml gin a cool, dark place for three days, gently shaking the jar occasionally to help infuse the flavours. After three days, strain the gin through a fine-mesh sieve into a large jug, and discard the fruit and seeds. Strain again through a fine-mesh sieve lined with a muslin or a coffee filter. Transfer to one large or several smaller sterilised glass bottles. METHOD Put the cucumber, lime, coriander seeds and simple syrup in a sterilised one-litre glass jar or bottle and pour over the gin. Seal the jar and store in COCKTAIL TIP Muddle some cucumber and lime in a highball glass with ice and 25ml infused gin. Top with ginger beer for a refreshing Cucumber and Ginger Sparkle. Cucumber lime and coriander seed gin MAKES 700ML TAKES 3 DAYS TO INFUSE INGREDIENTS INGREDIENTS 200g apple, sliced 200g fennel, sliced 200g caster sugar 350ml apple cider vinegar METHOD Put all the ingredients in a sterilised one-litre glass jar or bottle. Seal the jar tightly and shake vigorously to combine. Store in the refrigerator to infuse for three days before using. Remove the sliced apple and fennel, and use within one week. S Extracted from Infused Booze by Kathy Kordalis (Hardie Grant, £12.99) Shrubs, also known as drinking vinegars (pictured left), are one of the most refreshing things you can drink and, mixed with your infused booze, they can really bring a cocktail to life. Shrubs are a delicately balanced combination of vinegar, fruit and sugar. Added to a glass with something bubbly, such as sparkling water, they make a perfect drink for the summer. Mixing them with alcohol is even better. MAKES 350ML TAKES 3 DAYS TO INFUSE By using seasonal produce, you can create a range of delicious flavours, says Kathy Kordalis upermarket shelves are filled with flavoured booze, but a lot of massproduced products are full of artificial ingredients. By infusing your own alcohol at home, you can control the quality and minimise the additives. Done well, spirits infused with perfectly ripe, seasonal produce make a great addition to your liquor cabinet and can add lovely complexity when used in cocktails. When selecting the “base” spirit, consider what you want to flavour it with. Vodka, gin or white rum work with just about any flavour. There is no need to spend a fortune, just choose something with a neutral flavour that you would be happy to drink. Brown spirits, such as dark rum and brandy, are more complex in flavour so you need to be careful when selecting your aromatics. Bolder flavourings, such as spices and nuts, go particularly well. Source a spirit that is clean-tasting and uncomplicated. When it comes to choosing flowers, fruit or herbs for your infusion, the best way is to look at what is in season. The possibilities are endless. Apple and fennel shrub Green apple ginger and yuzu vodka If you can’t find yuzu juice (from an Asian citrus fruit), use three parts lime juice to one part orange. MAKES 700ML TAKES 4-5 DAYS TO INFUSE INGREDIENTS 2 green apples, thinly sliced 2½cm piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced 700ml unflavoured vodka 1 tbsp yuzu juice METHOD Put the sliced apple and ginger in a sterilised one-litre glass jar or bottle and pour over the vodka. Seal the jar tightly and store in a cool, dark place for three days. Gently shake the jar occasionally to help infuse the flavours. After three days, add the yuzu juice and leave to continue infusing. After one to two days, strain the vodka through a fine-mesh sieve into a jug, and discard the apple and ginger. Strain again through a fine-mesh sieve lined with a muslin or a coffee filter. Transfer to one large or several smaller sterilised glass bottles. COCKTAIL TIPS For an Apple Blossom, serve 25ml infused vodka with one to two teaspoons simple syrup (see box above), garnished with fresh apple slices and apple blossom flowers. For an Apple Sparkle, mix 350ml infused vodka with sparkling water, apple slices and mint sprigs. INGREDIENTS 1 honeycomb, cut in half 700ml dark rum Honeycomb infused dark rum Honey is truly the nectar of the gods. Using the whole honeycomb to infuse this rum looks so beautiful with its glowing colour, and also makes a really impressive gift. MAKES 700ML TAKES 3 DAYS TO INFUSE METHOD Put the honeycomb in a sterilised one-litre glass jar or bottle and pour over the rum. Seal the jar and store in a cool, dark place for three days, gently shaking the jar occasionally to help infuse the flavours. Transfer to one large or several smaller sterilised glass bottles. If you plan to store the rum for more than three to four days, remove the honeycomb. Alternatively, leave the honeycomb in the bottle and serve straight out of it as a showstopper! COCKTAIL TIPS To make a Canchánchara, mix 25ml of infused rum with the juice of one lime and build over ice in a rocks glass. For a Pomrum, add 50ml of infused rum to a cocktail shaker with 100ml pomegranate juice, 50ml orange juice and one teaspoon of honey syrup (see box above). Top with ice and shake well, then strain into a cocktail glass, with an orange slice. 13 *** The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018 Bringing a bottle? Plump for these safe bets honed their skills to examination level by treating a glass of wine like a joust, and it’s an attitude they don’t necessarily turn off in social situations. “Hey, I thought we’d blind the first three but I will tell you that they’re all burgundies from the same year,” was the opening gambit of one Saturday night host whose house I’d gone to for dinner, in the days before I’d realised this sort of thing might happen. I was already three carelessly drunk glasses in by this stage and the news that the easiest bits to pick (grape, New World vs Old World, country, region) had already gone left or any rookie wine me wondering if I would find anything professional, the bring- to say at all. your-own-bottle Of course, before you even get into invitation is not as the scenario of being asked for an benign as it might on-the-spot opinion in front of a party appear. That casual that might include world-class call-out to come winemakers, specialist writers, and around for a “getsommeliers who regularly run together – we’ll throw some meat on cellar-aged wines across their palates, the barbecue and pull a few corks” first you have to find a bottle to open sounds like fun, but is about as relaxed in front of, effectively, a panel that as having a few ATP tennis players makes the Strictly Come Dancing around for a knockabout. No one judges look like a set of nursery wants to look like they’re trying too teachers handing out stickers for hard, but everyone wants to win. good movement. The scenario gets more edgy the The conundrum presents no greater the number of Masters of problem for those who once worked in Wine, or Master Sommeliers, involved the City and spent huge bonuses in proceedings. These creatures have stocking up a private cellar before deciding to “follow their heart” into wine as a second career THE SOCIETY’S TH cuvées, from different – the wine trade EXHIBITION NEW EX vineyards, as well as a shelters a fair few ZE ZEALAND cheaper “estate” blend. I of these. Ditto CH CHARDONNAY 2016, love the white and green for the generation New Zealand (14%, The N peach and satisfying above mine, who W Wine Society, £14.95) creaminess, which comes bought fine wine with just a gentle skein of bef before it cost T Talking of the hard-tostruck match running qu so quite p please-crowd, Kumeu through it. mu much. For R River on New Zealand’s tho who those WAITROSE DOURO No North Island is wellown a very VALLEY RESERVA known for the excellence few QUINTA DA ROSA 2016, of its chardonnay and is precious Portugal (14%, Waitrose, the producer behind this bottles, £8.99 down from £11.49 superb own-label. Think that maybe until April 17) un toasted cashews, vivid we’d quite lemon curd and sorbet. like to A beautiful red, made open and KUMEU RIVER from a blend of port fr enjoy CHARDONNAY grapes grown on the g across an CODDINGTON 2016, sslopes of the Douro evening New Zealand (13%, Lea Valley. Think of it as a (wine geeks & Sandeman, deeper, darker, wilder at dinners take a £27.95/£25.95) sort of a claret, and few measured and better than you usually appreciative sips, The same producer find in Bordeaux at this then look around also makes several price. to see what’s next) If you need to impress a tough crowd, go blue chip with bubbles – or choose a please-all pinot VICTORIA MOORE WINES OF THE WEEK W the dilemma of what to take is one that can occupy you for weeks. I have a friend who so comprehensively flipped out under the pressure to take something both delicious and interesting/unpredictable that she turned up to one of these suppers with a magnum of Pol Roger under one arm, and a bottle of Buckfast in the other. Like her, my standard solution to the bottle problem is effervescent. This applies both inside and outside the wine trade. Go blue chip with the bubbles, say Nyetimber, Camel Valley, Hambledon or Gusbourne from England or Bollinger or Pol Roger from France, and you are always a very welcome guest. Of course the wine trade twist would be to take a grower champagne (where the wine is produced by the same estate that owns the vineyards) but then there is the danger that your choice may carry a coded message. Larmandier-Bernier is one I love and fairly safe. Bérêche is another goody: I would describe its position as mainstream for wine nerds. Jacques Selosse on the other hand says, “tiresome groupie show-off ” to one set of wine minds, and “serious There are certain wines in the £15-30 bracket that everyone (or nearly everyone) loves wine aficionado with excellent taste” to another. Dangerous. Of course, all the usual social pitfalls also apply. I was recently invited to a “bring a bottle you enjoy drinking” supper and for once had the suspicion that my hostess might actually mean precisely what she said. “Oh no, no, no, no,” said the wine merchant with whom I shared my intention to take a really delicious bottle of dolcetto (and one I would have bought from him). “At these dinners, you’re expected to spend £30-50. Minimum. It’s not a supper, it’s an event.” But I wasn’t sure. I had a feeling this one might be more about, you know, actually talking to people over a few enjoyable glasses of wine. I received assurances from several quarters that this was rarely the case. On this occasion I ended up taking a bottle of 2001 Brunello di Montalcino, bought years ago, and that had sat around in my flat for too long before being stashed in a friend’s cellar. I thought it would either be delicious or completely shot because I hadn’t looked after it properly and the Schrödinger’s Cat-ness of the situation made it feel not too OTT a choice. Actually, that metaphor is too apt because the wine was indeed dead when the bottle was opened. What I have learnt though from these gatherings is that there are certain wines in the £15-30 bracket that everyone (or nearly everyone) loves drinking. In some circles these might be considered too “obvious” for a show-and-tell, but the truth is that everyone is mighty pleased to see them opened. All of them feel like a treat, without requiring an overdraft negotiation. These include: Dog Point Section 94 (an oaked sauvignon blanc) and Dog Point Chardonnay from New Zealand; Kumeu River chardonnays, also from New Zealand; Kooyong pinot noirs from the Mornington Peninsula in Australia; Paringa Estate wines; Craven Clairette Blanche from South Africa (it’s great with hard cheese); Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage; Palacio de Fefiñanes Albariño from Spain (this one’s in Waitrose so easier to find); and Château Capbern Gasqueton (also available at Waitrose Cellar). And honestly, if my tough crowd likes them, I really hope yours might too. ILLUSTRATION: ZOË BARKER FOR THE TELEGRAPH F 14 *** Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph DAYS OUT DAY T R I P P E R There are gems hidden among the 20th-century concrete sprawl of this Buckinghamshire town, so Tom Ough goes on the hunt for stardust PAUL GROVER FOR THE TELEGRAPH; ALAMY D espite being as visibly rock ’n’ roll as afternoon tea with Jacob Rees-Mogg, Aylesbury recently became the first town in the UK to erect a statue of David Bowie. Even more recently, it became the first town in the UK to have its statue of David Bowie vandalised. Bowie’s head was sprayed with purple paint, and the words “Feed the Homeless First!” were scrawled on the pavement in front of him. A diplomatic “RIP DB” was daubed on the wall to Bowie’s right, with another “RIP DB” on the statue’s left. Has someone checked on David Beckham? The statue was built mostly because it was here that Bowie debuted his Ziggy Stardust alter ego. Thinking about it, some stardust still wouldn’t go amiss in Aylesbury, an old Buckinghamshire market town that had the bad luck of expanding rapidly during the 20th century. This means that its old town, which is mostly Georgian but in some places older, takes some finding among the concrete. Bowie’s statue is just off a market square whose half-timbered, nook-filled pub, the King’s Head, is a short way from the mouth of a dull shopping centre. But as Roald Dahl instructed: “Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” The quotation is emblazoned on a wall in Aylesbury L E T ’ S V I S I T… AY L E S B U RY the Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery, an annexe to the Buckinghamshire County Museum. Dahl was ostensibly talking about minpins, a race of tiny humans who live in trees, but the line would have worked similarly well if it had been composed in relation to Aylesbury’s daytripping scene. Let’s start with the Roald Dahl place, which is here because Dahl spent most of his adulthood in the nearby town of Great Missenden. Somehow the gallery’s management have taken a scientifically educative approach to Dahl’s best-loved books without making them any less fun. There’s a Giant Peach-themed look at insects, an upside-down sitting room that will be familiar to all readers of The Twits, and some very fun and tactile stuff to do with light and sound. It’s all faithful to Dahl’s work, although overbearing parents will be glad to know that the glass elevator does not, currently, blast into orbit. Next door, the County Museum has stuff about local history and industry on its ground floor and an Elisabeth Frink exhibition on its first. Frink, who died in 1993, was an influential sculptor of humans, horses and birds. It’s a trio that feels appropriate in Aylesbury, a town built on coaching inns and known historically for its eponymous duck breed. Within a six- or sevenmile radius of Aylesbury there’s Waddesdon Manor, the fairytale-ish, chateaustyle country house built to show off the Rothschilds’ art collection and bequeathed to the nation in 1957. There’s Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, too, and the Chilterns. From Coombe Hill’s windy summit you can see all of Aylesbury and Don’t ask me, ask our much more besides. Make hotel critics, who rated the climb and perhaps you’ll Hartwell House and Spa decide Aylesbury, or at least – a country house in Aylesbury and its six- or 90 acres of grounds – a seven-mile radius, is worth solid 9/10. visiting… just for one day. THE STAY THE PUB It can only be the King’s Head, a restored 15thcentury coaching inn that has a cobbled courtyard and a hearty menu. THE WALK It’s not far to the Chilterns, and Coombe Hill is a good one to climb. When you get to the top you’ll find a large monument to soldiers killed in the Second Boer War. It’s said to be one of the first British war monuments to commemorate victims rather than victors. Clash: Aylesbury Market Square combines concrete and cobbles *** The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018 THE MANOR Waddesdon Manor, a short drive away, is open daily. Family ticket to house and grounds: £55. NAT I O N O F SHOPKEEPERS Celebrating Britain’s unique retailers WENDY LANGLEY, TRUEFITT & HILL, LONDON T he salon has been here since 1805, making it the oldest barbershop in the world. My first day was 32 years ago, and I remember being incredibly nervous. At that time, it was quite unusual for women to work in a salon like this, and I was one of the youngest members of staff because I’d come straight from college. But the guys that I worked with were incredibly kind and caring and looked after me. It’s been a good job, and always a very interesting one. We have a Royal Warrant, and see a lot of titled people, people with a lot of money, politicians, CEOs, but we also have ordinary people come in with gift vouchers just to take in the traditional Truefitt & Hill experience. It’s all kept very similar to how it was done when the shop was opened all those years ago. We do a traditional hot-towel shave with a proper cut-throat razor, we use badger-hair shaving brushes, we do forward washes of customers’ hair rather than the more fashionable backward washes. A couple of us still use hand clippers for cleaning up the back of the neck and the sideburns. Clients who come in after 1pm can have their shoes shined, too. The process takes about half an hour for each client, which is longer than at a high-street barber’s. Especially nowadays, people come in needing a little bit of time out from their busy schedule, and we make sure there’s a real club feel to the THE WRITER THE STATUE Bowie’s statue, which depicts the singer enjoying the apparition of his various alter egos, is just off Market Square. Vandals, be warned: it’s watched by CCTV. THE EXHIBITION You have until April 21 to see the Elisabeth Frink exhibition at the Bucks County Museum. Entry is free. JEFF GILBERT FOR THE TELEGRAPH Roald Dahl, of course. Find a child, any child, to accompany you to the Children’s Gallery. Go at the weekend to avoid clashing with school trips. Family ticket: £22. place. There’s no loud music – no music at all, actually – and no TVs. We have comfortable leather chairs, wood-panelled walls, and portraits and prints on the walls. Over time, you get to know your clients well. We learn about their lives and about how they like their hair cut. Our regulars will often bring in family members, and I’ve done grandfathers, fathers, and now sons. Sometimes you can tell they’re related by examining their hair: hairlines and things like that. Wendy Langley at work We’re in quite a lot of tourist guides, so visitors often know that we’re in the Guinness World Records book. When we had our 200th anniversary, we had a big party here in the shop, and we even had a couple of members of the Royal family come along to help us celebrate. We had a plaque unveiled for the anniversary, and it’s up in the shop along with our Royal Warrant. We are more or less busy the whole day long, and I would always suggest to people that they book an appointment. Once they’ve had their first cut here, clients tend to want to come back to the same barber. It’s very much a place people want to return to. Interview by Tom Ough A cut above: the shop’s exterior 71 St James’s Street, London, SW1A 1PH. 020 7493 2961 15 *** Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph FEATURES Teaching parents a valuable life lesson Sarfraz Manzoor experiences school life at the Lancashire primary school which has opened its doors to grown-ups for a new TV series I t is a little past nine and inside the main hall of Blackrod Primary School the students are quietly filing in for morning assembly. The one-form-entry school, located on the outskirts of Bolton, Lancashire, usually has 245 pupils – but today that number has increased by one because I am spending the day as a Year 6 student. I am sitting on a wooden bench towards the back of the assembly hall and wearing the same uniform as the other pupils – slate grey trousers and a maroon top – the only difference is that everyone else in my class is 10 or 11, and I am 46. I am here because of a new Channel 4 series called Class of Mum and Dad, set in the school, in which 17 parents of Blackrod pupils have spent half a term being taught as if they were Year 6 students. The parents were filmed over five weeks for the series and cameras followed them as they studied maths, English, PE and art – and for their SAT exams. “I have been asked for 30 years, ‘What can I do to help my child?’” Ian Dryburgh, the headmaster of the school, had told me when I had arrived that morning. “So I agreed to let the cameras and parents in, because I thought it would be a good idea for people to experience it for themselves.” Personally, I have not experienced primary school for a long, long time. The last time I was in a primary school classroom Adam Ant was number one in the charts and ET was in the cinemas, so as I leave the assembly to head to class I am feeling curious, nervous and just a little self-conscious. The parents who took part in Class of Mum and Dad were taught by Year 6 teacher Mrs Mead and she will also be my teacher for the day. I am instructed to join a table towards the back of the class, alongside four other students. In two months’ time these children will be taking SATs and much of today’s lessons are devoted to preparing for these exams. First up is grammar revision. I make my living by writing but it has been decades since I studied grammar and I have forgotten almost everything I was taught. On our desks are pieces of paper with printed terms – “I am a vowel”, “I am a pronoun” and so on. There are other pieces of paper with definitions and our task is to create a poster using a large sheet of paper, on which we are to stick each PAUL COOPER 16 term next to its definition, and draw something that represents them both. I start off feeling complacent – of course I know what a noun and an antonym is – but then I come across a piece of paper that reads “I am a modal verb” and I am flummoxed. I genuinely have no idea what that is and it is a little embarrassing when Violet, one of the children on my table, has to explain to me that it is a “bossy verb”. Everyone on my table has a mini whiteboard and a marker pen. I grew up in the era of teachers using chalk and blackboards so this all feels very new, as does seeing Mrs Mead tap a few buttons on her computer, after which a short animated film plays on the screen at the front of the class. The film is about a young girl who goes to a doll Violet, one of the children on my table, has to explain to me that a modal verb is a ‘bossy verb’ shop and ends up turning into a doll. Mrs Mead wants us to come up with ideas for what happens next. Creative writing seems right up my street so I put my hand up. “What if the girl has an identical twin that comes to see where her sister is and ends up rescuing her?” I suggest. There is a murmur in the classroom. “That’s pretty good,” I hear someone say. Still got it! In my everyday life as a freelancer, I get to set my own timetable – when I want to stop and start work, and when I want to go for a walk (as an excuse for not working) – but in the classroom I have no such freedom. I am also not allowed to look at my phone. I am not even meant to have one in my pocket, but I “forgot” to hand it in earlier. *** The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018 BACK TO SCHOOL Sarfraz Manzoor, main, with his classmates; above dad Mark joined his sons at the school; below left, some of the participants of Class of Mum and Dad I am also, by mid morning, desperate for a coffee, so am hugely relieved to hear the bell ring that signals a 15-minute break. I repair to the staff room to check my emails and guzzle down some caffeine. The bell rings again and within minutes Mrs Mead has got us all standing in a horseshoe shape in the classroom and is firing mental arithmetic at us. This is not my idea of fun. We then return to our desks and have to solve, in pairs, puzzles involving algebra, long division and other things I have not needed to think about since the Eighties. When I was at school, I had quite enjoyed maths so I find the exercise rather interesting and not too daunting – I am much more nervous about what is to come after lunch: PE. My memories of PE at school are not good. I was always last to be picked when choosing sides for football and during rugby I resorted to falling to my knees in the mud to disguise the fact that I had seen almost nothing of the ball. Those memories are replaying in my mind as I stand in my T-shirt and shorts with my classmates. Thankfully, today’s lesson is indoors. Ms Parr, the PE teacher, gets us warmed up by running, jumping and sidestepping across the hall before she hands us all rackets and shuttlecocks. We are then put into sides for a few rounds of competitive badminton. I had been dreading this moment, but to my huge surprise I find it very enjoyable – and the fact that it is competitive makes it more fun. Whenever a team misses a I had forgotten how much fun it is to play sport in a team. It’s sad that I’m missing this from my life shot or fails to get the shuttlecock over the net they are out of the game. I feel a jolt of pure euphoria each time I help my side win a point. I’d forgotten just how much fun it is to play sport as part of a team and it makes me feel sad that this is missing from my everyday life. Among my classmates in PE is a boy named Rob. He is autistic and struggles with his hand eye co-ordination. There is a point in the lesson when the teams are evenly balanced and much is riding on Rob, but the nerves get to him and he keeps failing to get the shuttlecock over the net. I find myself watching not Rob, but our classmates – they are all encouraging him, telling him he can do it and not to get too stressed. Seeing how tolerant and inclusive these children are takes me back to my own school days and a boy called Gary who was in my class and who was later diagnosed with ADHD. We knew Gary was different, but rather than being understanding, the other children would tease and pick on him. Not everything was better in the past. The final lesson of the day is art. Since my visit is in the run-up to Easter, the children are given the job of drawing and colouring in a picture of the Easter bunny. In my everyday life I rarely spend time colouring in, so I was surprised by how therapeutic and calming the experience is as I colour in the rabbit, cut out the outline and glue it on to a sheet of pink cardboard. I am, I admit, rather proud of my work and feel it deserves its place alongside the pictures produced by the other students – even though they are 35 years younger than me. They are making their pictures to take home to their parents, but I have made mine for my daughter – usually she is the one who comes home with pictures for me. The bell rings to signal that the day is over – the children will return tomorrow, but I’ll return to being a father and not a child. One of the things I most enjoy about fatherhood is that it allows me to vicariously get a glimpse of what it is like to be a child. My day with the Year 6 class has been a deeper version of that. My experience at Blackrod left me convinced that all parents of young children would benefit from being able to spend a day at their child’s school. The further one is away from childhood, the greater the temptation to assume things are so much worse today. As I prepared to reluctantly return to adulthood I felt grateful to have had the chance to witness the children’s studiousness, humour, tolerance and sheer niceness. It has helped replenish my faith in the coming generation. You could say it’s been an education. Class of Mum and Dad starts on Tuesday at 8pm on Channel 4 WHAT THE OTHER GROWN-UPS THOUGHT OF THE EXPERIMENT JULIA LEGAL SECRETARY, GUARDIAN TO ASHA “I had been struggling with my daughter’s homework, so this was a brilliant opportunity to see how teaching methods have changed and to experience what Asha was going through. We drop our kids off at school and we really don’t know what goes on inside the school building. My school days were horrendous – I was very badly bullied from primary until I left school so I hated the experience. I was overweight and I was made a target and the butt of all jokes. You think you leave these things behind, but you don’t. The experience has shown me BILL RETIRED, GRANDFATHER TO JESSICA AND JACK IAN DRYBURGH HEADMASTER “I became head teacher in 1987 and in those days schools had total autonomy about how and what they taught. Everyone hankers to what they experienced themselves, but the idea that there was once a golden age is a bit of a myth. Children in essence have not changed, but the world in which that schools are so much more nurturing now. I would much rather be at school these days, they are a much more caring environment – you can feel the children’s happiness going into the school.” “I am 70 and I went to school in the late Fifties. I was bullied and I did not learn a great deal, and if you misbehaved in class you saw a blackboard rubber coming towards you. It was a bit of an eye-opener to go back to school. I had not realised the depth of the knowledge these children need to know – they are 10 years old and they are doing maths, English writing and comprehension that I thought would have been done in secondary school. Taking part in the series has helped me understand my grandchildren so much better and appreciate the pressure they are under. I think it would be a good idea if more parents could spend a day in their children’s class.” they operate has changed dramatically. One of the things that has resulted from taking part in the programme is that we are looking at how other parents can get a chance to spend time at the school. The benefits were so profound – it was transformative in terms of the parents’ understanding of their children and what they were experiencing.” 17 18 *** Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph GARDENING ‘A paradise of pollen and paint’ With two new exhibitions of Cedric Morris’s work set to open, Christopher Woodward considers the life of the artist-plantsman and the deeply felt affection for his work W hich garden would you like to travel back in time to? Versailles, as the fountain played for the Sun King? Sissinghurst, dead-heading at dawn beside Vita? I’d like to go back to a farmhouse in Hadleigh, Suffolk, where, in the Fifties, art and gardening came together in a “paradise of pollen and paint” (as the writer Ronald Blythe put it). This very English paradise was Benton End, where in 1940 the artist-plantsman Cedric Morris and his partner, Lett Haines, opened the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing. Each summer, 1,000 iris seedlings flowered, their colours crossed by Morris in the shades of a cubist paint box. Young students set up easels in the sun; Elizabeth David sloshed stew in the kitchen as Haines mixed martinis and told stories of Twenties Paris, and florist Constance Spry gathered ornamental rhubarb for her London shop window. Morris died in 1982. He had been half-blind for a decade, Haines was dead, the school shut, and rare plants collected over a lifetime of winter botanising trips towered over long grass. The Tate said farewell in a retrospective. This month, the Garden Museum opens an exhibition of 35 paintings of gardens and still lifes on the same day that Philip Mould, the gallerist and art historian, opens Beyond The Garden Wall, illustrating the journeys Morris made as a plant collector and a painter, from succulents in Tunisia to black orchids in Portugal. At the sale of David Bowie’s art collection in 2016, Mould – known as TV’s art history sleuth – spotted a small oil by Morris, thought to be of a landscape near Assisi, thus unearthing a story of how, as a young artist, Morris travelled to Rome to exhibit at the Casa d’Arte Bragaglia, and was involved in a clash with the black-clad Fascists strutting through the streets. Prices have tripled in five years, with Mould’s acquisitions of May Flowering Irises No2 and Poppies setting new records. And, if you want to break the current record yourself, July Flowers and Wood Warblers is on sale at a Lon- A MODEST MAN Cedric Morris by American photographer Berenice Abbott don gallery for £174,800. There are rumours of three biographies. Why the sudden revival? As a painter, Morris’s reputation has rested, happily, in a cheerful culde-sac of contemporary art; many loans to the exhibition are treasures that pupils and friends have hugged close all their lives. The Morris boom is unique among 20th-century flower painters (although I’d tip Eliot Hodgkin next). It’s a consequence of the fashionability of interwar British art in general (think Eric Ravilious), and celebrity collectors such as Bowie but, at bottom, the integrity of Morris as an artist. Mould is famous for sleuthing Van Dycks in country house corridors but is also a founder of the charity Plantlife. He says: “As an art dealer weened on Old Masters, and particularly portraits, the last thing I imagined would capture my imagination would be a 20th-century painter of flowers. But Morris’s paintings stalked the weekend side of my life – a lover of meadows, wild flora and nature.” To horticulturalists, a tipping point was the Howard Nurseries stand at RHS Chelsea in 2015, displaying the Morris irises collected by Sarah Cook. A former head gardener at Sissinghurst, one day a flash of colour had caught her eye: iris ‘Benton Nigel’ read the label. She discovered Benton End, and Nigel Scott, Morris’s lover. (Morris and Haines met on Armistice Night, and stayed together despite “energetic infidelities” on each side, explains Andrew Lambirth, curator of our exhibition.) Cook has now collected 25 of the 90 irises that Morris bred and named after lovers, friends, favourite cats (Baggage and Menace) and a pet macaw (Benton Rubeo, red, ivory and purple), as described in Telegraph Gardening, April 2015. Their addictive appeal is all about the colours that Morris crossed in his greenhouse: gaudy and soft pinks and blues, which must have shone through post-war Britain like a Hermes scarf in a ration queue. Morris’s first commercial hit was a sexy pink registered in 1945 as ‘Edward of Windsor’; Morris admired the Duke because in the Thirties he had expressed support for the striking miners in the Welsh valleys, where the Morris family had made its industrial fortune; Morris, heir to the baronetcy, was in flight from the Establishment. He never spoke of the past except to chuckle at stories told by Haines, the in-house raconteur. Morris had left home to become a lift boy in New York or a rancher in Canada, depending on the audience; in fact, Mould’s research team found his entry in Cunard’s passenger lists: he was 19, and gave his profession as farmer. Back in London, he studied as a baritone, then art in Paris, and Haines is mentioned in the party scene in Hemingway’s expat novel, The Sun Also Rises. In the book accompanying the exhibition, Lambirth, a historian of 20thcentury British figurative art, emphasises Morris’s sophistication as an artist. He combined the forms he studied with his radical friends in Paris – such as Léger and Man Ray – with a ‘He liked the sun on his back, the day’s colours in his eyes, and the sights and sounds of now’ COUNTRY HOUSE Morris’s oil painting Benton End, 1947; Lett Haines with students at Benton End photographed by Elvic Steele unique primitivism of his own, producing an originality that sold out his first solo show in London in 1928. It was Morris who introduced the painter Christopher Wood to his colour-block views of Brittany, Lambirth points out; and did he discover the primitive Alfred Wallis before Wood and Ben Nicholson famously passed the fisherman’s cottage window? After a Bright Young Things’ fancy dress party with “Positively Judgment Day” as the theme, Morris came to prefer plants, and pets, to people and, in 1929, began The Pound, his first garden, at Higham in Suffolk. This only survives in the vivid descriptions in Hortus magazine by his gardening protégé, Tony Venison: a tunnel of trees to a house in whose plaster walls Haines, also an artist, set carved heads and faces; a greenhouse for cacti and geraniums, and a first experiment in growing flowers from seeds pocketed on his travels, such as asphodels from the Atlas Mountains. And dishevelled parrots and ducks as pets. (He also painted still lifes of dead wild birds as a prescient attack on agrochemicals.) In 1939, he and Haines set up their first art school in Dedham, offering students a chance to live on site and explore their own styles, a breezy contrast to the gymnasium strictness of, for example, the Slade School of Fine Art under William Coldstream. “The only rule was that there were no rules,” one pupil remembers. But a year later, that house burned down: Lucian Freud admitted to smoking the offending cigarette. Pupils ferried plants in bicycle baskets to Benton End, an empty 16thcentury farmhouse seven miles away on the outskirts of Hadleigh. That tall, sloping house is most vividly recalled by writer Ronald Blythe who, at 96, is a cult figure himself but was then a young librarian. Through windows of “glaring Newlyn blue” (now, presumably, a Farrow & Ball colour, but then a sign of bohemia) simmered a “faintly *** The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018 SEEDS OF PASSION Poppies, 1926, main, The Orange Chair, 1944, right, Easter Bouquet, 1934, below GARDEN SHOP THREE EVERGREEN EPIMEDIUMS Chosen by plant hunter Lark Hanham ris filled a canvas from top left to bottom right with a complex design without sketch or under-drawing. To Lambirth, Morris’s uniqueness as a flower painter is in his empathy with his subject matter. “His paintings were so positive and unhesitant,” he says, because he “grew and bred and tended his subjects”. Morris wrote: “Others see prettiness and charm in the world of plants, I see ruthlessness, lust, and lack of fear. Perhaps it is modesty we lack in recent European painting – I am sure that only a modest man can paint a flower.” Morris went on to discuss the artist “who happened to choose flowers as one of his subjects, much as he might any other still life…”. I call that the Marc Quinn test, after the conceptual artist’s giant bronze sculptures of flowers. Skilled and clever, yes, but they might ‘His paintings were so positive because he grew and bred and tended his subjects’ dangerous whiff of garlic and wine… from distant kitchens… I thought I had never seen anything like this”. Beth Chatto, Blythe’s childhood friend, credits Morris as inspiring her to begin her garden at Elmsted. Indeed, it was from Chatto that I first heard his name, when she pointed to the photograph beside her. “My two favourite men,” she smiled. Beside her botanist husband, Andrew, was Morris, tall and elegant in velvet and corduroy, scarf and jacket. In the very first number of Hortus, she remembers Benton End not as a designed garden but as compartments to showcase a jeweller’s counter of rarities, from new irises to old-fashioned roses and double primroses. And of the oriental poppy he bred, she said: “Its floating petals were ashen-pink, with a central velvet knob deep in a pool of dark purple-black blotches. We always called it ‘Cedric’s Pink’ but now it has become officially known as Papaver orientale ‘Cedric Morris’.” Tucked inside a treasured copy of Richard Morphet’s excellent catalogue for the Tate exhibition of 1984, I kept a shot of the one still life that Morris painted of these dream poppies, a canvas that for years I hoped the Garden Museum might be able to acquire. No luck – that holds the current record of £131,000 – but it will be on loan to the show, when you can gaze at how Mor- LEGACY GAP PHOTOS//MARCUS HARPUR Cedric Morris, c. 1930, selfportrait, above; gardener Sarah Cook in a bed of Morris irises collected by her, left be cans of beans, or lobsters, as much as daisies. Flowers are just another subject. For Morris, by contrast, they are the mystery of life itself. And he knew you could never, really, own a flower. Morris was the only person of the 20th century to achieve national significance in both art and horticulture, although he refused honours from both the Royal Academy and the Royal Horticultural Society. He was a pagan, according to Blythe, who “liked the sun on his back and the day’s colours in his eyes, and the tastes and sights and sounds of now”. In old age, he lay barechested in the overgrown garden, like a cat in the sun. The garden lives on in paintings, and in plants distributed by the executor appointed. Snowdrops are in the garden of the artist John Morley, geraniums in the kitchen window of Blythe and through the year at Chatto’s Elmstead where alliums, euphorbias, and fritillaries “bring Cedric vividly to life”. But Benton End’s afterlife is also present in those he taught or inspired. On that first visit, Chatto was a mother and housewife overshadowed by her academic husband; Morris was the first person to take her aspirations seriously. There would be no Elmstead without Benton End. And Blythe? Morris and Haines taught him that to survive he must live “a little more carelessly”. The acclaimed artist Maggi Hambling was the daughter of the Hadleigh bank manager when she was discovered, at 15, by Haines. The kitchen at Benton End was cosmopolitan and classless, electric with laughter and arguments. “And it was there, for me, that life began,” she says. Haines taught her that if you were to be a painter: “‘Your work must be your best friend. You must be able to go to it however you’re feeling’ is the most important thing anyone has ever said to me,” Hambling reflects. Benton End was no Arcadia. It was so cold that each winter the house would be shut up for Morris to go travelling in the Mediterranean, while Haines would go to Brown’s hotel off Piccadilly to, he claimed, “economise”. When the two quarrelled, they communicated by leaving notes in the pocket of an old coat hanging on the kitchen door. The frontispiece of the exhibition catalogue is a photograph taken of Morris in Man Ray’s studio in Twenties Paris. As an old man, he ripped it in two. Morris knew that the forms of beauty that he clustered to himself derived that beauty from their ephemerality, whether people, lovers, or flowers. It’s these complexities that make Morris the patron saint of artist gardeners. He loved the lazy scattering of seeds and ferocious weeding; sun, travel, and food; was chuckling and moody, suddenly kind then decisively selfish. Mixing paints in the studio, he would want to be out in the garden – when pushing a wheelbarrow the unfinished canvas itched at his back. And he achieved what we all want: in Blythe’s words (again): “a coherent, beautiful oldness”. As a curator, I have worked on exhibitions of 20, perhaps 30, artists and designers. But never have I come across an artist as loved as Cedric Morris. Cedric Morris: Artist Plantsman, April 18-July 22, Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace Rd, London SE1 7LB. For further information call 020 7401 8865; gardenmuseum.org.uk Come March and through April, the alluring, airy flower sprays of epimedium (also known as barrenwort) float weightlessly above the unobtrusive ornamental leaves with delicacy and finesse. Epimediums are a family of reliable longlived perennials. The trick to success with them is to mimic their natural environment. The key considerations are light levels and the moisture content of your soil. Aim to create a woodland floor, with fertile humus-rich soils where rhizomatous epimedium roots can make an impenetrable carpet of heart-shaped leaves. Supplement soil with leaf mould to feed plants and improve moistureretentiveness and keep it weedfree. Average height and spread 12-16in (30-40cm). ‘MANDARIN STAR’ This medium-sized Chinese variety is coveted for its floriferous nature and extra-large open flower panicles that arrive en masse through April and May. Similar to ‘Wudang Star’, this variety can tolerate drier positions. Its glossy, elongated and spiny evergreen leaves enticingly splay beneath extra-long flower stems. These are tall enough to ensure the flowers can be enjoyed uninterrupted. In autumn, the mottled foliage darkens from green to burgundy. ‘BLACK SEA’ NEW This is so new we struggled to source it. Although its parentage isn’t fully known, epimedium enthusiasts approve of the plant. It forms vigorous spreading mounds of up to 5ft (1.5m) of groundcovering evergreen foliage, which is studded with a profusion of upright, wellbranched flower stems that hold thousands of miniature starlike, peach-toned flowers. During the autumn crescendo, the foliage suddenly transforms from green into a stunning and unusual black. ‘PINK ELF’ On 14in-tall (35cm) arching stems, dainty pink-spurred blossoms arrive early in the season among young, russet-blushed evergreen leaves. It’s a special repeat-flowerer that first appears as usual through April and May. However, it unexpectedly re-blooms in a final flurry of pink later in the summer, which adds to its exquisiteness. HOW TO BUY Buy one for £9.99 or buy the mix of three for £19.98 (save £9.99), or buy the mix of six for only £34.94 (save £25). P&P at £4.95. Supplied as 9cm pots in 14 days. Order at gardenshop.telegraph.co.uk/Evepi or call 03337720325. Your contract for the supply of goods is with Hayloft Plants Ltd. Offers subject to availability. Offer closing date is May 7 2018. 19 20 *** Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph GARDENING PRETTY IN PINK The grandstand at Royal Ascot, left, and, below, a racegoer sporting some striking floral-themed headgear on Ladies’ Day 2017 The going’s good for new spring show Will this inaugural garden event at Ascot racecourse be a winner? Let’s hope so, says Ambra Edwards W hen I heard last year that a new gardening show was to be launched at Ascot, I was thrilled. Obviously, any new gardening show is good news for the hapless plantaholic, particularly one in April, when the planting season is just getting under way. The inaugural Ascot Spring Garden Show has commissioned six well-established garden designers, some of whom (Kate Gould and Catherine MacDonald) have already bagged Chelsea medals; all six will be creating show gardens. Another six gardens will be made by Young Designer of the Year entrants from colleges around the country. Some 50 specialist nurseries will be displaying their wares, and visitors also have the opportunity to pick the brains of John Anderson, keeper of the Savill Garden, and assistant keeper Harvey Stephens, on choosing plants for the spring garden. Suddenly Ascot becomes an irresistible destination for horticulture as well as horses. My very earliest gardening memo- ries come from Ascot, so this news has provoked a flood of nostalgia, and a pleasing sense of life coming full circle. My father worked at Ascot Racecourse, which in those days offered allotments to its staff in what had once been the grounds of a very grand house. Every weekend, I was an unwilling slave, set grumpily to work thinning carrots or sowing lettuces. (Of course, I now know it was my mother who was the author of my misfortunes. What man would willingly take a sulky eight-year-old to his place of refuge?) After a while, I’d skip off and go and find Bert, our ancient and endlessly patient neighbour, who would let me scrump his apples and eat his peas from the pod, and by stealth taught me the rudiments of veg-growing. Visitors to y instead get the Ascot Spring Show may top tips each day from the redoubtable Pippa Greenwood. There is no finer he has not horticulturist, but alas, she rs… Bert’s resplendent whiskers… ment site The track to the allotment orest of wound through a dense forest ants of a rhododendron, the remnants h blazed woodland garden, which urple every pink and white and purple spring. Clumps of flowers would appear randomly between the ghplots and alongside the neighrobouring gallops – lupins, cro- ROYAL HISTORY Ascot is on Crown land and the Queen is a regular visitor cosmias, martagon lilies – echoes of a once-splendid garden. The area around Ascot is full of gardening ghosts. Here were some of the greatest nurseries of the early 20th century – Sunningdale Nurser Nurseries, Waterers and Russells – famed especially for their rhododendrons and azaleas, today reduced to gener garden centres. general Th There was Tower Court, which from 1918 became one of the greatest plan plantsman’s gardens in the world, packe with rarities collected by all packed gr the great Himalayan planthunters. When collector J B Stevenson died in 1950, the choicest of his 75,000 rhodod dodendrons were snapped up by Si Eric Savill for the gardens he Sir w was making in Windsor Great 21 *** The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018 DAZZLING SHADES Park. In the 18th century, Ascot House boasted the most fashionable of grottoes; in 1936, it was at Fort Belvedere, his much-loved garden in Sunningdale, that Edward VIII signed his abdication. The royal connections are still strong at Ascot. The racecourse, where the show takes place, is on Crown land, and the Queen is still a keen racegoer. So was her mother. As a child, it was a special treat to be allowed to tiptoe into the Royal Box, which was planted around with bright blue mophead hydrangeas. These, my father assured me, were the Queen Mother’s favourite. So fat and round and blue – so like her hats… The flowers stayed so blue, he said, because every year they dug in a handful of nails. (These days you can buy a powder.) It was the Queen Mother’s father-inlaw, George V, who commissioned Sir Eric Savill to create the magnificent Savill Garden and Valley Gardens in Windsor Great Park, alongside the existing Georgian landscape of Virginia Water. This, in its time, was the largest body of man-made water in England, and you can still walk around the lake and view the fake Roman ruins, recreated, entirely randomly, from columns and stones imported from the site of Leptis Magna, near Tripoli. The Valley Gardens lie on the northern shore – 250 acres of dramatically undulating woodland garden, packed with rare trees and every glorious variety of spring blossom (including the Tower Court rhododendrons). As a child, it seemed to me an enchanted forest. As a teenager, I would wander melancholically among the groves and dells and, following my A-level results, briefly considered casting myself into the lake. The gardens are open daily, free of charge, and exploring them can take all day. The highlight in spring is the Punch Bowl, which is a natural amphitheatre planted with some 60,000 Kurume azaleas in dazzling shades of pink, the species chosen from a group known as the Wilson Fifty in honour of E H Wilson who brought them from Japan. Elsewhere are more subtle effects, with narcissi massed among cherries and magnolias. If the Valley Gardens are incomparable in spring, the adjoining Savill Garden offers delights all year. I’ve seen it in midwinter, with the grasses frosted with silver and the fountains frozen to icicles; in autumn, when the prairie plantings are at their peak; and in summer, when the rose garden, with its innovative pairing of roses with grasses, is not to be missed. So there is already much to tempt gardenlovers to Ascot. The new show is the brainchild of former RHS shows supremo Stephen Bennett, who not only ran Chelsea but introduced all the other major RHS shows during his tenure, so expectations are high. The challenge for the designers, says exhibitor Kate Gould, is to make appealing gardens without the floral fireworks that arrive later in the year. Rather, says Gould, she will be depending on architectural and evergreen plants, showing “how inviting and textural a simple green scheme can be”. My father was in charge of keeping Ascot’s grandstand in good order, or as near as he could manage. It was replaced, in 2004-6, with the present swanky new one. It is in these infinitely more elegant surroundings that the new Spring Garden Show takes place. I do hope the show becomes part of the social calendar in the manner of Royal Ascot week, the celebrated annual race meeting that for 200 years has shown off the very finest in racehorses and millinery. I also hope the visitors wear hats, and that the hats are trimmed with flowers. But even if they don’t, I predict a winner. The Ascot Spring Garden Show, April 13-15 (0844 581 6990; ascot.co. uk/spring-garden-show-friday). B I G GA R D E N B I R DWAT C H R E S U LT S Last year was golden for goldfinches, says Kate Bradbury. Thanks, in part, to their taste for the sunflower seeds we leave out for them G oldfinches seem to be everywhere at the moment – in the garden and allotment, and the supermarket car park. They gather in big gangs, or “charms”, a sea of bright-red faces, biscuit-brown bodies and black wings with yellow wing bars. I usually hear them before I see them – their twittering song is a watery mix of squeaking hospital trolley, wheezes and raspberries. I look up and find 10 or 15 in a tree, the whole lot of them singing together as if having a very excitable chat. Their scientific name, Carduelis carduelis, is a nod to their favourite food, the seeds of plants in the thistle e (Cynareae) tribe, or carduaeae de thistles and which include knapweeds. In winter, less ers may spot tidy gardeners ng on them feasting teasels. mbers Their numbers ly have steadily ince increased since s, the Thirties, when their widespread d capture hunting and came to an end. They om farmland migrated from rbs only fairly to the suburbs rtly, it’s thought, recently, partly, due to the niger seed and sunflower hearts we leave m. Indeed, so at out for them. hey now in our home are they at they have gardens that heir switched their feeding preferencess – according to a sh recent British rnithology (BTO) Trust for Ornithology dwatch Survey, Garden Birdwatch they prefer sunflower hearts d, these days. to niger seed, It should come as no en, to learn that surprise, then, ch had a “golden the goldfinch year” in the 2018 RSPB Big dwatch (BGBW). Garden Birdwatch ose by 11 per cent Sightings rose ures, and it was on 2017 figures, re than two-thirds seen in more of gardens. Now at number six in the BGBW Top 20, it’s one of our most common garden birds. “Last summer was a really good year for many breeding birds, with warm weather creating great conditions for smaller birds to raise their young to adulthood,” said Dr Daniel Hayhow, conservation scientist at the RSPB. Favourable breeding conditions in 2017, combined with a mild autumn and winter weather in the run-up to the BGBW (before we were hit by the Beast from the East), are thought to have contributed to their continued success. Goldfinches nest in loose colonies in hedges and trees, typically in larger gardens. And they nest late, too, often with young still present in August. If you have goldfinches in your garden and you suspect they’re nesting, do be sure to hold off trimming your hedge until you’re sure they’re no longer using it. Other birds that did well this year include the longtailed tit, which increased by 16 per cent; the coal tit, which increased by 15 per cent; and the blue tit, which increased by five per cent. Again, favourable breeding conditions and mild temperatures are thought to have boosted numbers, although we are yet to see what became of them after temperatures plummeted in late February. Happily, this year also proved to be a better year for the greenfinch, which has suffered a 60 per cent decline in sightings since the survey began in 1979. This is mainly due to trichomonosis disease which prevents the birds from feeding properly. Could the five per cent increa increase in sightings signal bett better times ahead? A dip in sightings of more th solitary species like the t blackbird reflect only the mild weather, as these birds ti will have spent more time foraging for food away from our gardens. However, numbers of robins and wrens it were also down, and it’s thought this may reflec reflect an numbe overall drop in numbers. “Unlike tits and finches, finc robins and wrens did not have a good breedi breeding season in 2017,” says Dr Hayhow. hou The house sparrow rema remains at the top of th the B BGBW ran rankings as the most commonly seen garden bird; the starling starlin held on to the second spot; and the ever-present blue tit t moved up one place, coming co in at number three. For a full round-up of all the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Bird results and to see which whic birds were visiting gar gardens where you live, visit rspb. rs org.uk/birdwatch GETTY HEATHCLIFF O’MALLEY FOR THE DAILY TELEGRAPH; APF/GETTY IMAGES; GAP PHOTOS; ALAMY The Punch Bowl in the Valley Gardens, main; the Long Walk to Windsor Castle, and the Savill Garden rose garden, right. Bottom: the Leptis Magna ruins at Virginia Water *** Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph GARDENING The long tail of the Beast keeps spring in check rise and keep your dibbers crossed for windy weather. It’s amazing how fast a breeze dries sodden soil – and how quickly spring blows in. However, I and many others like me, were badly caught out by the snow – with taps left unlagged, the pump still in the pond and evergreens battered and splayed – and not once but twice. Still, it could have been so much worse. According to Guy Barter, RHS chief horticultural adviser: “The cold came at he snow drifts of the a good time as hardy plants like daffoBeast from the East dils soon bounce back and trees, prohad barely melted vided they’re in bud, retain their when the mini-beast hardiness. Even magnolias and pears, (aka the “Wrong-un which open early and are notoriously from Russia”) blew vulnerable, are safe in bud and will hold icily in on its heels. for a long time until temperatures rise.” For my postman The fluffy quality of the snow also the snow was a boon: “My garden looks helped, piling on to pots and protectas good as the neighbours!” But for me, ing plants from the icy winds. Peter living in the usually balmy climes of Gibbs, former BBC weatherman and south Devon, it came as a surprise. I chairman of Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Queshad taken all the Met Office warnings tion Time, who gardens in Maidenhead, with a pinch of the stuff they spread on says: “Snow is a good insulator and the roads. Why wouldn’t I when in the most plants here seemed to have come past two decades we’ve had more solar through unscathed, although I’ll have eclipses than inches of snow? to wait and see whether my MediterraWhile the Beast’s bark turned out to nean fan palm re-sprouts.” The worst damage was to evergreens be worse than his bite, he also had a long tail that cast a gloomy cold shadow too big to protect as the withering over the Easter holidays and beyond. winds “freeze dried” the leaves and April always has its showers but on al- robbed them of moisture; my bay trees, ready cold and wet soil every drop de- for example, have turned black. lays spring still further. Normally when I catch up with The important thing is to Christine Walkden, her garsave sowing or planting den on the Hertfordshire/EsSURVIVORS tender vegetables and sex border is always colder Magnolias, flowers until temperatures than mine, but this year the below; right, natural order has reversed. Trachycarpus Walkden says: “I have seen no wagnerianus; far damage in the garden as we right, daffodils did not have much snow. I rather consider it a normal spring. I think we forget that in the past few years spring has come early.” This echoes Barter’s observation that the snow has chilled the soil, putting spring on hold. “It was looking like being an early season but now it looks like it’s going to be late,” he says. The Met Office’s forecast confirms that there is a greater than usual chance of cold spells in April. So it might still be worth lagging those taps. BARROWS OF FUN Gardener Chris Orton wheels his way through drifts of crocus at Wallington Hall, Northumberland It may be cold comfort, but recent weather only ruined the bank holiday, not spring. By Toby Buckland T ALAMY; GAP PHOTOS//RICHARD BLOOM; ALAMY LIVE NEWS; PA 22 COLD CONSEQUENCES Very cold temperatures cause water inside plant cells to freeze. As the water expands, cell walls are damaged and leaves look bruised and distorted. When soil freezes, roots are unable to take up water and plants die of drought. Check plants for life by gently scraping away the bark from “Beastravaged” plants. If there’s green sap underneath they’re alive, but if they’re brown the cold has killed them. Don’t rush to dig up plants that have jettisoned their leaves. Scorched evergreens, like bay, will bounce back by June/July while tender woody types such as Salvia ‘Hot Lips’, Melianthus major and Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Rex’ often re-sprout from the base. When this happens, cut away frosted growth to a healthy bud to prevent further dieback. Branches splayed by the snow won’t regain their shape without help. Use soft twine to tie them back in place or, for larger shrubs, use bungee cords. These can be removed in summer when the wayward limbs have set back into position. Cordylines, palms, yuccas and echium growing in the soil will recover if their trunks stay solid and the growing point intact. Trim any leaves that are bent or blackened to make way for the new. If the stems become spongy, all but the echium can, fingers crossed, re-grow from the base. Keep Mediterranean plants dry, such as French lavender, sage and rosemary, to prevent fungal infections caused by the cold spreading to their centres. If short of greenhouse space, position pots in the rain-shadow of a house wall. When new growth comes, water generously. If small plants have caught a cold, trowel them out of the ground, pot up and keep in the greenhouse/cold frame. They’ll recover more quickly if out of the damp soil. Early sowings and newly planted seed potatoes may blooms will coincide with flowers of late spring. Feed bashed evergreen hedges with a balanced fertiliser – one with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium such as fish, blood and bone – to boost recovery. have survived beneath the protective quilt of powdery snow… but the cool weather means they won’t be much earlier than replacements planted now. Protracted frosts kill pests but the jury is out as to whether we’ve had enough cold to curb their numbers. Keep an eye on your daffodils and if you spot nibbled petals, slugs have made it through and vulnerable plants will need protection. A slow start means that spring, when it does arrive, will come in an explosion of colour as delayed early A late spring means it pays to wait before sowing. Victorian gardeners would check that conditions were warm enough by sitting their bare derrière on their veg beds. If the earth was comfortable for a bottom it would be for a beetroot. Or – you could wait for the first flush of annual weeds. When they appear, seeds will be fine to sow. Celebrate five years of Toby’s Garden Festival, April 27-28. Speakers include Toby Buckland, Rachel de Thame, Terry Walton and Jim Buttress. Advance tickets from tobygardenfest.co.uk *** The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018 GRASS ROOTS Feed your lawn twice a year to keep it in good condition T WO H O U R S ON THE VEG PLOT HELEN YEMM THORNY PROBLEMS GAP PHOTOS//F This week: is a moss-free lawn worth the hassle, a yucca with spotty leaves, how to prune a rugosa rose for the first time A SPOTTY YUCCA My yucca has been attacked by a fungus and looks beyond help. I plan to replace it after scrubbing the container and surrounding area with soapy water, using fresh compost and gravel. What else can I do to ensure that the replacement plant does not go the same way? My roses got black spot last year. Is there a connection? DEREK GREGORY – VIA EMAIL Your yucca does indeed seem to be suffering from fungal leaf spot (brownish spots with black centres on many of the bladelike leaves, some of which are clearly dying). The disease is probably compounded by winter-wet roots: Yuccas need immaculate drainage and, ideally, some winter protection. All the scrubbing and washing is a good idea, as is fresh, very freedraining compost (John Innes No 3, with fine grit added). A preventive treatment of the new plant with a systemic fungicide (e.g. FungusClear Ultra) might be a sensible move. As for your contagion hunch: there are a vast number of different fungal leaf diseases all spread by spores in the air, and I understand that each is specific to a plant family. Fungal diseases attack basically unhappy plants, however, and roses are fussy: concentrate on dealing with the black spot by keeping the plant healthy, by pruning (branches with purple streaks are infected – cut back any that you see), and feeding (Toprose or equivalent). Fungicide treatment (as for the yucca), repeated as often as the instructions allow, is essential. AN OVERGROWN RUGOSA ROSE I have a glorious bush rose (label indecipherable), planted about 10 years ago but never pruned. It is now about LETTER OF THE WEEK MOSS VERSUS LAWN I would like your advice on the best way to treat moss in a largish, south-facing lawn partially shaded by trees. For three consecutive years from 2014, I employed a specialist lawn contractor. Last year, I gave up and just fertilised the grass myself. The moss is as bad as ever. What shall I do? JANET GRAHAM – VIA EMAIL At the risk of upsetting a lot of perfect-lawn-ists (and possibly your good self) I am going to say “not much” (apart from perhaps to try to reduce the shade from trees if feasible, and keep the grass in good nick by continuing to feed it twice a year, spring and autumn). You could, of course, return to the arms of your contractor, with all his powerful chemicals and machines, but you may still need to cultivate a seriously blind eye during the dank winter months. Along with an increasing number of garden lovers who could be considered a bunch of lazy imperfectionists, I view the search for the holy grail in the form of a moss-free lawn as a bit of a waste of time, if not downright masochism. All it takes is a change of attitude: moss is a virtually indestructible life form and, in our climate, which is in so many other ways an absolute gift for which British gardeners should be forever grateful, it will always show up when 6½ft (2m) tall, but still flowers profusely on the tips of its branches. If I cut it back a lot will it no longer flower? Can you please advise? DOUG HOWELL – VIA EMAIL TIP OF THE WEEK Re-invigorate long-term potted hostas by replacing the top inch of compost, watering them with Maxicrop seaweed (brown bottle), and/or top dressing with Slug Gone (slow-release nitrogen feed/ effective snail barrier). As an alternative or additional barrier use Doff’s copper sticky tape around the outside of each pot. Looking at your accompanying picture, I observed crinkly, coarse leaves on numerous finely prickled stems: your rose is clearly a rugosa of some sort. Rugosas are a mixed bunch but all are remarkably disease resistant, with highly scented flowers and, in most cases, very decorative hips. Some rugosas are grafted on to vigorous wild rootstock (from which alien-looking suckers occasionally appear that should be ripped off, not snipped off, at source). Others are naturally suckering and form a thicket of stems that together form a usefully impenetrable flowering hedge. Your rose appears to be one of conditions allow, ie every autumn/winter, on damp and shady lawns, particularly those on acid soil. Moss is beautifully green during otherwise dismal months when grass may be barely there. Then, as clocks change, the lawn grass starts to perk up. And just as the moss dies back (so that we hardly notice it anyway), along come all the flowers to distract the eye. Nature at its kindest and most brilliant. the former, and has not produced wild suckers, for which be thankful. All rugosas can be pruned quite hard if needs be – down to about half their existing height – and any dead wood and skinny lower growth should be pruned out too. And don’t worry, the remaining stout stems will produce a succession of flowers (perhaps a little later than usual) on the tips of whatever grows in the coming season. SEND YOUR QUESTIONS Write: Gardening, The Daily Telegraph, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT Tweet: @TeleGardening Email: firstname.lastname@example.org For more tips and advice from Helen Yemm, visit telegraph.co.uk/authors/helen-yemm Helen Yemm can answer questions only through this column. ALAMY Grow your own carrots for a sweeter meal deal. By Jack Wallington Lumps and bumps: home-grown tastes better I don’t know what supermarkets do to carrots, but I suspect they marinade them in washing-up liquid. In contrast, homegrown carrots taste incredibly sweet. Start sowing this weekend, ½in (1cm) deep in rows 1ft (30cm) apart, spacing seeds every 2in (5cm). I sow sparingly to avoid the bother of thinning and to prevent carrot fly, which I’ll come on to. For constant carrots, I find that three short 4ft (1.2m) rows with a different variety in each, repeated every few weeks, is right for a small family. Carrots do grow in pots but you’ll never have enough. With hundreds of varieties, the carrot pages of seed catalogues are daunting and, at the same time, dull. No wonder we find purple carrots appealing – they’re a life raft in a sea of orange. Speaking of which, I grow ‘Purple Sun F1’ (right) for solid colour and almost beetrooty sweetness. Never boil purple carrots unless blue water and grey veg appeals; instead, steam or roast to hold colour. Orange carrots I love are ‘Adelaide F1’ and ‘Resistafly F1’ (mrfothergills.co.uk). Despite the off-putting name, the latter is my favourite. I’m also trialling rainbow carrots ‘Sweet Imperator Mix F1’ (thompson-morgan.com) this year. On my allotment, we haven’t had carrot fly, but I’m paranoid about it. Damaged foliage releases the smell and attracts the fly. I grow mint nearby and rustle it when digging out carrots, to confuse the fly. While people say to remove stones for perfect roots, I say no. My allotment is on a gravel bed making it easier to remove the soil than stones. My carrots grow in all sorts of weird shapes, which I love and swear taste better. Grow your own knobbly wobbly carrots to see what you think. Find Jack’s Garden Blog of the Year at jackwallington.com. Follow on Twitter @jackwallington, and Instagram @jackjjw 23 *** Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph OPEN ROAD THRILL OF THE CHASE Steve McQueen drove a Mustang in Bullitt in 1968; 50 years on, it’s still going strong All-American hero returns at a gallop ANDREW ENGLISH MOTORING CORRESPONDENT Ford has given the Mustang a mid-life makeover, but will horsepower be enough to win us over? T he Ford Mustang has a special place in American hearts. From Martha Reeves and the Vandellas singing Nowhere To Run in a Mustang convertible on the Dearborn assembly line in 1965, to film appearances in Goldfinger and Bullitt, this is a car cemented in the collective consciousness of a nation. The US Navy even ran a recruitment advertisement intoning: “The Beach Boys. Apple pie. The ’67 Mustang. Three things worth fighting for.” Ford sold 700,000 in the first nine months and nine million in the ensuing 54 years. Yet the first “pony car” was based on unexceptional chassis parts from the Falcon/Fairlane saloons, cobbled together to make a cheap sports coupé for baby-boomers. Powerful, certainly, but not a great drive, even by the standards of the day. From the original 1964 coupés, the 1968 Mach 1, the mighty 1966 Shelby GT350 (of which 1,000 were put on STUART PRICE; SNAP STILLS/REX 24 the Hertz fleet for hire at $17 a day) right through to the questionable “aero-look” Eighties version and the 2001 “Bullitt” model, the Mustang was a flexy, oversteering monster with sloppy steering, sometimes shoddy build-quality, slap-happy suspension damping and questionable dynamics. And while the original looked great, Ford’s designers soon sold out their blue-collar coupé. As Lee Iacocca, Ford’s general manager at the launch, later mourned: “Our customers abandoned us, because we’d abandoned their car.” By 2003 key rivals such as the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird were out of production and poor sales indicated that the pony car was ready for the glue factory. But someone at Ford still loved the Mustang and J Mays’ sharp, back-to-basics concept at the 2002 Detroit motor show went into production in 2004. Engineered by Hau Thai-Tang (aka “the man who put the ‘Tang’ back into Mustang”) that Mk5 version was still far from over-engineered, sporting an old-fashioned live rear axle, but it was a commercial success in the US. And in 2015 the Mk6 built on that, with better brakes, gearbox, interior and muchneeded independent rear suspension. More importantly for us, Ford sold it officially in Europe, even in righthand-drive in the UK. This year, the all-American hero gets a mid-life boost. Like the car itself, Ford’s description of the changes are straightforward and succinct: “Looks faster, goes faster, more athletic styling, enhanced powertrains, advanced driver assist tech.” Unpacking that a little, the changes are modest but significant. The body is more wind-cheating with less aerodynamic lift thanks to a lower bonnet line, a more effective front air splitter, a diffuser element to the rear and even an optional rear spoiler on which to rest your can of Budweiser. The choice of hard- and soft-top body styles remains, as does the angel-versus-devil debate between a V8 engine and a turbocharged, 2.3-litre four-cylinder unit. That smaller engine delivers 286bhp and 324lb ft, giving a top speed of 145mph, 0-62mph in 5.8sec, 31.4mpg and 199g/km of CO2. It costs from £35,995 (or £39,495 in convertible form), with a 10-speed automatic gearbox adding another £1,590. INSIDE JOB The interior feels cheap, although this is a car for the heart, not head “What!? A four-cylinder Mustang? Is that the spirit that built the railroads, opened up the West and sent a man to the Moon?” Of course not, so the top version sports a 5.0-litre, naturally aspirated V8. That’s an endangered species these days, but this example is no relic; it produces its 444bhp at a head-spinning 7,000rpm. The top speed is limited to 155mph while 0-62mph takes about 4.6sec. Prices for the V8 manual start at £41,095, with an auto ’box adding £2,000 and electromagnetic adjustable damping (recommended) another £1,600. The materials used in the interior are either too shiny or harsh and the handles creak as you pull the long doors shut. The optional Recaro seats are slippery and uncomfortable, and the switchgear feels a bit cheap. As well as the digital driver’s binnacle, there’s a centre touchscreen displaying the satnav, audio and connectivity systems including Ford’s CALL OF THE OPEN ROAD The uprated Mustang is also available as a convertible, costing from £39,495 Sync 3 set-up. The graphics are novel and clear, but it’s a shame the speedometer isn’t marked with radial numbers like that of the original Mustang. The digital instrument display swaps configuration according to the engine and suspension mode selected; as well as Normal, Sport, Track and Snow/Wet modes there’s also a Drag Strip mode with a launch control and a front-brake line lock so you can smoke the rear tyres. The exhaust has active valves to manage the enhanced sound (and start up more quietly in the morning) and there are modern radar- and camera-based active city braking, pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control. It’s barely a two-plus-two as there’s precious little rear leg room. The 408-litre boot, however, is large enough for the takings from a smalltown bank job. On start-up the V8 waffles and woofles the air. Electronics make it slightly slow to rev and the output is flat until 3,000rpm, but after that there’s a progressive power up to the crackling, bellowing peak at 7,000rpm. The sound is frankly glorious, like two brass bands having sex. While the six-speed manual feels as mechanical and tough as a fist-fight, it also slots through its narrow gate and changes smoothly thanks partly to the new two-part flywheel. The automatic alternative offers a closer ratio spread, but it’s a bit slow, especially if left to its own devices, and you need to manually flip the steering-wheel paddles when overtaking. The brakes are over-sensitive on first press, but powerful and progressive after that. And this is still not the world’s most sophisticated chassis. The body clatters around on road seams and potholes, even with the MagneRide dampers set to soft, but for a 1.7-tonne car with this much performance, the ride isn’t bad. The steering is lifeless but direct and well weighted, though it never gives you much confidence. Throw the car through a series of bends and the back will slide out if *** The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018 TECTION PROTECTION KET? RACKET? I am buying a new VW T-Roc. The dealerr suggested I purchased hased GardX paintt and interior ction for £625. protection Is it worth it, and is this a good price? JB THE FACTS FORD MUSTANG 5.0 V8 MANUAL TESTED 4,951cc V8, six-speed manual gearbox, rear-wheel drive PRICE/ON SALE from £35,995-£46,595 (as tested £42,695)/now POWER/ TORQUE 444bhp @ 7,000rpm, 390lb ft @ 4,600rpm TOP SPEED 155mph C racket and general gener CVT SR 1.4 noise. My Astra SRi turbo automati automatic cost eig £13,000 at eight w months old with A 8,000 miles. After a m year, I like it more B than my old BMW 3-series. AK ACCELERATION 0-62mph in 4.6sec (est) FUEL ECONOMY 22.8mpg/17mpg (EU Combined/ Urban), 17.9mpg on test CO2 EMISSIONS 277g/km VED BAND £2,000 first year, £450 next five years, then £140 VERDICT While it has a special place in American hearts, the Mustang isn’t that suited for European roads or driving conditions. Its naturally aspirated V8 is a phenomenon and sounds great (though the 2.3 four-cylinder is a better car), and if it’s lacking dynamically, the Mustang still has presence in spades TELEGRAPH RATING ÌÌÌÌÌ provoked, but it never feels as natural as it should and the stability control electronics brutally step on any tail-wagging. It’s simply not as easy to drive, or as much fun, as it should be. There’s no substitute for cubes, goes the saying. Well, yes, there is. Within 50 yards you can tell that the 2.3-litre four-cylinder is the dynamically superior machine. It has more chassis feedback, the lighter nose turns in more readily and the steering talks to you. You can place the car on the road, it encourages you to drive it harder, it’s more comfortable and not significantly slower. Drawbacks? The artificial engine note is wearisome and it isn’t a V8. As the car’s chief project engineer Matthias Tonn says: “This is the car HONEST JOHN EXPERT ADVICE The dealer you can trust is on hand to answer your questions on car problems and consumer issues HEATED DEBATE There are now many small SUVs with three-cylinder 1.0-litre turbo engines. How should one look after the turbo? JY There are no problems with everyday motoring. Because the turbos are watercooled, the heat from the turbo warms the engine (and interior) more quickly in winter. But it’s best to idle the engine for a minute or two after a long motorway run, ascent or towing, to keep oil and coolant flowing in the turbo while it is still red hot. BUMP STEER Do you have any evidence that speed humps contribute to structural damage? My house is crumbling. NM You would have to commission a y to measure the seismic study tremors; see https://bit.ly/2H7VFGf. you want, but the V8 is the car everyone thinks they want.” d So while it is cheap horsepower and outclassed by almost anything you u might consider to be a rival, when you climb behind that deeply dished steering wheel you’re driving a bit of American history, even more redolentt in an age where plausible politicians and software oligarchs seems to be unrepentantly selling off the freedom of the open road by the pound. As Martha sang in Nowhere To Run: “I know you’re no good for me.” But a V8 Mustang is something you want with your heart, not your head. The treatment will ably cost the probably er £100-£150, dealer e rest of that so the £625 will be mission. A tub commission. utoglym High De ef of Autoglym Def Wax is about £50, ugh you’ll have to t although y that yourself. apply VOICE OF REASON I have been quoted £175 for a one-year extended warranty on my Skoda Yeti. Do you think that’s reasonable? GS Yes. That’s cheap for cover that comes from a dealer which will attend to any warranty work. Just make sure it’s not riddled with exclusion clauses. SHUDDER TO THINK I have owned my 2004 Honda CR-V from new and it has done 93,000 miles. Recently, it has developed a steeringwheel shudder when I accelerate to 60mph on joining a motorway. I have had the wheels checked for balance and they are fine. Have you heard about a similar problem and the cause? ID It could be a driveshaft CV. But the first check (to make sure it isn’t a tyre) is to swap the fronts with the backs on the same sides. It might also be caused by water ingress to the rear diff that causes a problem with the four-wheel-drive system. MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING I purchased a four-year-old Nissan Juke automatic. No problems, but when driving through traffic lights there is occasion occasionally a bleep. The selling dealer was baffled. b ffl baffl ffled. Any suggestio suggestions? AM It sounds sound ds like a system in i the satnav to warn n of traffic light an nd speed and camera as; it works as cameras; spe eed warning if a speed yo ou are over the you limit when nearing a camera. That’s good news, especially for wor the workers at the Elles Ellesmere Por Port fact factory. BEAT THE SYSTEM SYST OBVIOUS ANSWER I have suffered diesel particulate filter (DPF) problems on my Jaguar XF. I am considering getting a Jaguar F-Pace instead, but am I likely to have the some problem if I buy a diesel version? MW If you have had DPF problems with a 2010 Jaguar XF, this suggests your pattern of use created them. Go for a petrol model. X COMMUNICATION My BMW 3-series Touring xDrive is three years old with 44,000 miles. I intend keeping it, so are there any potential problems? DB The xDrive system’s Haldextype clutch will need fresh fluid and filter at the end of year four. And a disparity of more than 3mm in tread depth between the tyres could lead to damage. If it has a B47 3.0-litre diesel engine, an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve service action has just been released. SWEDE DREAM My wonderful 2006 Jaguar XJ6 is becoming expensive to run so I want to exchange it for something with comfort and character. Would a late Saab 9-3 Convertible with low mileage be a sensible option? JR That That’s a good choice. If you buy one, make sure you get the Saab chaincam engine, not a belt-cam Vauxhall unit – and definitely not the 1.9 diesel. A LIFE LIF LESS ORDINARY My wife w thinks that supermarket petrol is best bes for her new Fiesta Sport. Is it? GP She’s wrong. It needs superunleaded 97-99 RON – and stick to the same bran to get a consistent additive brand pa package. If she runs it on ordinary p petrol she’s far more likely to have problems. STAR QUALITY S I’m delighted to read positive comm comments about the Vauxhall Astra. I bough bought mine after owning a Toyota Auris Hybrid. I could not live with the I is possible with car It careful timi ing to transfer ownership owner timing without a tax (VED D) rip-off (VED) rip-off. When transferring my VW Passat to my son, we waited a few days until the new tax year was due on April 1. He purchased insurance to start at midnight on March 31 and earlier that day I told the DVLA that ownership had been transferred. Then on April 1 my son could tax the car in his name. GB This doesn’t usually work, so top marks for succeeding. You managed it by using the electronic system to beat the system. WINTER SUMMARY In cold weather, is it good practice to let the engine idle for half a minute or so before pulling away? Should you limit the speed for the first few minutes? And is there a difference between petrol and diesel? RM No. As soon as the windows are clear, drive off so the engine reaches operating temperature as soon as possible. If it’s petrol, try to keep the revs down to about 2,000 for the first five miles. If it’s diesel, try to keep the revs up to about 2,000 to help with the particulate filter regeneration. MULTIPLE CHOICE My wife and I both drive my Mazda6 diesel Tourer and her MX-5 and have maximum no-claims discount (NCD). I have now bought a petrol Skoda Citigo for short, local runs and was astonished that my NCD can’t be taken into account for its insurance. Is this unfair, or am I missing something? IB You need to switch to a multi-car policy that consolidates the NCD for all cars. Admiral does one. WRITE TO HONEST JOHN We cannot accept postal queries. For consumer and used car advice, or car faults, email: email@example.com 25 *** Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph FAMILY LIFE Hey Alexa, what are you teaching my children? With the demand for digital home assistants growing, Tanith Carey questions whether they help or hinder parenting A s a mother raising her six-year-old daughter, Boo, on her own, Rosie Corriette is used to having the last word. But ever since the arrival of a new helper at her Sussex home last Christmas – a voiceactivated Google Home assistant – she has discovered she is no longer the ultimate authority. “When I told Boo to put her coat on the other day, she said: ‘I don’t need it!’,” says Corriette, 29. “When I insisted, she said our Google Home had told her it wasn’t that cold outside and wasn’t going to rain. At that point, I had to explain that while Google Home might know the weather and the temperature, as a mother I knew she would catch her death of cold!” While they might have started out as a gimmick, digital home assistants, which also include Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod, have become virtual family members in three million UK homes in the past couple of years. After all, who wouldn’t want a hands-free digital butler who instantly responds to your voice commands – and can answer any question you may have when your children are running you ragged? Yet it’s becoming clear that virtual assistants come with strings attached. Some parents have been taken aback by the way these disembodied voices have been appropriated by young children – making them more curious and independent, but also more impatient because they can get any answer instantly without so much as a please or a thank you. So just as parents had to get to grips with the effects of screen time, do we now need to get a handle on this new wave of screen-free technology before it races ahead and out of our control? Hunter Walk, a former Google executive, wrote in a blog post last year that his Amazon Echo was turning his fouryear-old daughter into a brat – “be- ALAMY STOCK PHOTO 26 cause Alexa [the voice operating system that answers questions] tolerates poor manners. The prompt command is, ‘Alexa…’ not ‘Alexa, please…’. And Alexa doesn’t require a ‘thank you’ before it’s ready to perform another task. Cognitively, I’m not sure a kid gets why you can boss Alexa around but not a person.” “It creates patterns and reinforcement,” he added, “that you can get what you want without niceties.” Leaving the house is not the only time Corriette, who writes the blog mummyandboo.com, finds herself pitted against the gadget with the soothing voice and who is never too busy to reply. “At other times, Boo will ask me a maths question. She will say: ‘What is 47,000 divided by seven?’ I see it a challenge because I did maths at A-level, but she will then pit my answer against Google. Corriette’s experience chimes with a new survey by online retailer Moonpig, which found that 38 per cent of mothers say their child would seek answers to some questions from a tech device, rather than them. So is this the start of a slippery slope in which children turn to gadgets rather than busy parents? Mum-of-five Emma Chanagasubbay from Surrey got her 11-year-old daughter Isabella a Google Home Mini for Christmas, and has become concerned that Isabella will start to ask it questions about friendship, relationships or sex, that only a parent can properly answer. “It worries me that she will go to VOICE OF REASON? The Amazon Echo can solve arguments, above; Gill Crawshaw, below, has no less than three Echoes at home for Eliza and Florence it for more complex emotional issues,” says Chanagasubbay, 38, who writes the blog thejoyoffive. com. “If she asks the device a nuanced question, she’s just going to get a matter-offact answer, or one that could be misconstrued – not the one she really needs.” Other parents, however, see the gadgets as a force for good. Gill Crawshaw, 38, finds her Amazon Echo devices indispensable when she’s got her hands full with daughters Eliza, six and Florence, three. She has three – in the living room, kitchen and master bedroom of her house in Bromley, Kent. For Crawshaw, it’s a “personal DJ” for kitchen discos and even cuts back on the time that her daughters spend on screens – because they now spend more time listening to music than watching television programmes or films. Crawshaw, who writes the parenting blog ababyonboard.com, says the gadgets also act as unofficial babysitters, “setting alarms for things like screen time and bed time and also getting out of the house in the morning”. They even come in useful as an impartial referee in sibling disputes. “If the girls disagree about what to watch on television we will ask Alexa to settle the dispute using the ‘heads or tails’ function. They never disagree with the verdict.” So are these gadgets undermining our authority as parents or freeing up time to make parenting less stressful – something that can only be good for children? Professor Kaveri Subrahmanyam, a developmental psychologist and chair of child and family studies at California State University, says: “Within limits, virtual assistants can be useful in helping children find the answer to their questions. But there is some evidence that if they know where the answer is and it’s so easy to find, they don’t hold that information in their minds. That in itself is not bad – but it is if it also leads to a loss of critical thinking. “Accepting Google’s answer unquestioningly then becomes problematic, especially as we are learning that answers to internet search queries can be manipulated.” ‘It worries me that my daughter will go to the device for more complex emotional issues’ Prof Subrahmanyam also raises concerns about how such devices can interrupt parent/child interaction. “The use of any device – whether by parent or child – has the potential to interrupt meaningful conversations. And that is a legitimate worry if the assistant can provide more answers than the parents themselves. “There are also concerns that interactions with these devices do not have emotional nuances and other face-toface cues – and we really don’t yet know what the consequences will be if children interact with them from a very early age and for too long.” For Corriette, who has sometimes been surprised to see her daughter, Boo, treat the disembodied voice coming out of her Google Home like “an equal” in conversation, it’s a matter of waiting and seeing. “Overall I hope it will make her more curious. But when she reaches her teenage years, if starts using it to argue her side about curfews, then I will have to show it the door.” DIGITAL ASSISTANTS GOOD PRACTICE MODEL GOOD MANNERS While digital assistants are not real and can’t have their feelings hurt, it’s a good idea to get small children to say “please” and “thank you” to a device. Prof Subrahmanyam says: “Parents should remember that they are modelling interactions with the assistant and that children are likely to imitate them.” times of day they can be used. SET LIMITS As the number of digital assistants soars in UK homes, so have reports of children buying things – either by mistake or behind their parents’ backs. Turn off voice purchasing or set a PIN so only you can do so. Just because digital assistants don’t have screens, doesn’t mean parents should not set some limits on them as well. Experts says children need to unplug from these devices – so decide what CHECK YOUR SETTINGS *** The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018 THE DA D B E AT ALL POWER TO HIM Robert overcame TB as a child to find stardom in classic sitcom Citizen Smith I was very ill with TB when I was 10, which I only found out when I was 40. I had to go for a medical check-up for a movie and the GP found an old TB scar on my left lung. My parents had kept it from me; I was told I had pleurisy and pneumonia. I was in a sanatorium for eight weeks and never knew. You didn’t talk about TB; it was taboo – a poor person’s disease. I was an only child until I was 12 when my sister arrived; then, three years later, my brother was born. We didn’t have much – a little council house in Ilkeston, Derbyshire – but there was so much laughter. Mum and Dad were great practical jokers, always up to silly tricks, such as dressing as insurance men and trying to fool the neighbours. They were the funniest people ever. I was incredibly imaginative and lived in a fantasy world for most of my childhood. It wasn’t until I was 15 that my art master at my secondary modern recognised this and made me a school orator and a grand thespian. I didn’t even know what a thespian was. Most of my mates went into local industries; the mines and steelworks – Rolls-Royce if you were clever enough. My metalwork teacher was my careers master. When I told him I wanted to act, he asked if I was “bloody daft”. Then he asked if I’d considered hairdressing. Fortunately my art master found a drama course in Nottingham. Then it all happened. By 17 I’d left home and was at RADA in London. After six months living with my aunt in Edmonton, I found a flat in King’s Cross with two mates. It was 1968 and JAY WILLIAMS What would your younger self make of your life today? I F I C O U L D S E E M E N OW RO B E RT L I N D SAY 68, actor London was just abuzz. My accent was very broad, so people at RADA didn’t understand me. One of my tutors said, “We’re going to have to lose your accent or you’re not going to progress.” I was getting a bit political, and maybe had a working-class chip, so I said, “No, I’m not losing my personality.” But changing it was the best thing I did. It opened a world of roles. I’ve done amazing Shakespeare plays and sitcoms – I would have been quite limited if I had stayed as I was. At weekends, I’d go home sounding like Donald Sinden. My dad said, “If it doesn’t work out, you’ll be the bestspoken dustbin man in the area.” Part of me misses the old me; I even changed my name. I was Robert Lindsay Stevenson. When mail comes for Robert Stevenson it’s always rather depressing; it’s usually a tax bill. Robert Lindsay gets cheques and jobs. Success really threw me. I never wanted fame, I wanted to perform. When I did Citizen Smith in the Seventies, at one point we were getting 20 million viewers. I couldn’t walk the streets, and that frightened me. The producer told me when I signed the contract that I was signing away anonymity for life, but I didn’t listen. I was too excited – and broke. I had bills to pay. My younger self would warn me of the perils of the modern age. I’m constantly battling with my kids to get them off their phones. We live in the sticks with so many rural walks. We’ve got bikes – they’re never used. My children roll their eyes when I talk about my outside lavatory growing up; “There he goes again, in his big house in Buckinghamshire, talking about being poor.” I’ve been fortunate to win awards over the years, and I have them on Harry de Quetteville’s tales from the fatherhood front line At least my Ma was honest with us. “I may have gone slightly overboard with the Easter egg hunt,” she confessed as we arrived last Sunday. This from a granny who, at the best of times, is unbridled in her devotion to the monsters. As a result we now live in the age of chocolate. Humanity has already survived brutal change, such as the Ice Age, so theoretically we should be able to adapt again to the harsh new conditions of the Choc Age. But it is not always easy. A rising tide of cocoa has submerged everyday life. Normally slow-moving glaciers of chocolate in our house have become raging torrents; giant bergs of the stuff are torn away from the main choc sheet of the Big Egg, never to be seen again. And just like the Arctic, in each case eerie silence is followed by the most monumental crash. That’s why the Creme Eggs had to go, winkled from the hoard and disposed of halfway home, like some incriminating stash. For toddlers, it really is Class A stuff. Mole had one, and about an hour later Mole had one Creme Egg – an hour later, it was like the end of Trainspotting display in my office. They remind me of where I’ve come from and what I’ve achieved. I still remember people saying to me, “You’ll never work.” The irony was that when I left Ilkeston, the mines and steel works shut down and women started doing all the work while the men sat around the pubs and betting shops. And here I am now, in the most insecure profession in the world – and, touch wood, I’ve never stopped working. Interview by Boudicca Fox-Leonard Robert appears in the new series of Plebs, Monday, 10pm, ITV2 started whirring around Granny and Grandpa’s house, high as a kite. Then came withdrawal – the full lying on the floor, lashing out, assaulted by demons, tiny fists pumping, five-year-old carnage. Frankly, it was like the end of Trainspotting. The hunt itself was a real turn-up. Usually Cosmic is freakishly lucky, so much so that we all simply assume he will win at cards, games and Easter egg hunts alike. This time, though, Mole’s extra half foot gave him observational prowess which Cosmic, no matter how fortunate, could not match. It’s weird, though, this luck. I was the same: a younger brother who always rolled a six at the right moment. Which came to be written in family lore. And somehow fed into much else. Beloved and I are both guilty of this: Cosmic is the “lucky” one; Mole the “thoughtful” one. It’s so tempting: This one is “creative” that one “watchful”. So with “academic” or “artistic”. The lure of the label is almost irresistible. We have to remind ourselves to fight the categorisation. Mole, who loves to read and write now, might jettison his inward world and become wildly expressive: who knows? Maybe his Easter egg hunt victory is his first step out of the pigeonhole. 27 28 *** GAMES There are 276,000 permissible words in Scrabble, and the best way to check them is with Collins Official Scrabble Words. There’s one to be won every week with our Scrabble puzzle, along with a £25 book token Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018 *** 29 GAMES 30 *** Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph A heating, the light, the shelter. The very best of luck with your treatment – and may you find strength in the choices you have made. Dear Graham Plans for my friend’s stag do are turning into a nightmare A friend of mine is getting married in the autumn and his best man is going overboard planning the stag do. We all have a round robin email where we’ve been comparing dates and ideas and his latest plan is flying to Marrakesh and getting Jeeps out into the desert to have a big dinner in a tent. Lots of us can’t afford anything like that, so people are saying they can’t make this or that date. We don’t want to say we want something simpler because we don’t want the groom to feel he’s not worth celebrating. Do you have any tactical tips for dealing with the best man – or, come to that, any ideas for a celebration for 12 men in their thirties? BILLY, KENT GRAHAM NORTON AGONY UNCLE The author, comedian and presenter advises readers. Send your quandaries to firstname.lastname@example.org Dear Billy Dear Graham I’m getting no support from my sisters when I need it most I have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. I am unmarried with no children; I’m a full-time carer for my mother who is deaf and has dementia. I have two sisters, one older, to whom I’ve never been close, and one younger. I used to get on OK with the younger one but three years ago I had to relay a message from my mother to her about a decision my mother had made. It wasn’t a big deal but she was very unhappy about it. Since then she has cut me off totally. A couple of times I’ve asked her for a bit of help with my mother but she angrily refused. She lives nearby but very rarely invites my mother over or calls. With all my scans and treatment coming up I really need some help. My younger sister has texted me, saying she was sorry to hear about my illness but not offering to help. I am so angry with her, for our mother’s sake as well as mine. Please can you advise? JENNY, NUNEATON MISTERNED.COM Dear Jenny I am so sorry to hear about your diagnosis and wish you a full and speedy recovery. Your anger towards your sisters is perfectly justified but, at a stressful time like this, it won’t be doing you any good at all. It seems we can simply forget about your older sister. For whatever reasons, she has decided to absent herself from the family. So, what to do about your younger one? It seems she has reopened the lines of LETTER OF THE WEEK Dear Graham I’m worried my son has inherited his father’s drinking problem On Boxing Day I invited my family over as usual. Everything went well until my son carried on drinking when everyone else had left. He was not unpleasant, just a bit overbearing. In fact, he behaved just like his father, my husband, who died in 2007, used to. Sitting across from my son, who looks more like his father, I found myself getting very emotional. A couple of weeks later I told him I didn’t want to see him again. I was crying. We said a few things which I can’t remember and left. We have had our ups and downs. But as I write, I can see it’s my husband I am angry with. We all knew my husband had a drink problem, but he was also a hard-working, caring husband and father. My question is, how do I get talking to my son again? My daughter is upset because she feels she has lost her brother. They used to talk but that seems to have stopped. I am 66 this year and wish it to be settled between them, even if I can’t patch things up with him. JANE, VIA EMAIL Dear Jane I think anyone can understand why you became upset but your response to the situation does seem extreme. Your son may have pushed your buttons but he did so unwittingly, so it seems communication and I think you should do your best to keep them open. Thank her for her message and perhaps mention that because of your hospital visits you will be out of the house a great deal. Tell her how great it would be if she could find the time to pop in to see your mother. Leave it at that. I know you have every right to berate both your sisters and clamour for practical help, but their refusal will simply add to your anxiety. The good very unfair to punish him for a crime he doesn’t know he committed. I’m sure this rift can be healed but it may take some time. The first thing you must do is apologise. Don’t phone, but write to him, be it a letter or an email. That way you can be measured and logical, while your son will have time to compose his response. Perhaps show a friend or your daughter what you have written before you send it. Your explanation of your response doesn’t need to be a demolition of your late husband’s reputation. As you say, he was your partner and the father to two children, but in addition to those things, he was a man with a drinking problem. Don’t suggest your son has one, and stress how he did nothing wrong on the night, but news is that you were coping without them and you will continue to do so. I’m not sure how severe your mother’s dementia is, but she is probably less aware of your sisters’ lack of involvement than you are. Take comfort in that. You must start making decisions that benefit you. If you need to spend time away from your mother or find you need to rest, ask for help. Your mother may not be as understanding about your diagnosis as you’d like, so make sure explain that seeing him across the table looking so like his father brought back difficult memories. Your son is a man now and should understand there were things he was protected from as a child, but were upsetting for you. Ask for forgiveness. If your daughter understands the full story, perhaps ask her to intercede. Your late husband’s drinking is continuing to damage your family. That has to stop. It might be useful for you to contact some of the organisations that help relatives of people who abuse alcohol. I really hope you and your son can get past this. Allow him to be angry with you, but in future don’t blame him for the sins of his father. Try not to allow the past to cast a shadow on the future. you get the space and time to get well. I don’t know what went on in your family in the past, but your two sisters have been severely damaged by it. You have been blessed with a sense of empathy, along with responsibility and duty. It may seem like an incredible burden, but would you really want to be the sort of person who could simply look the other way? Don’t feel like a doormat. People like you are the whole house; the WRITE TO US Email graham@telegraph. co.uk Write Dear Graham, The Daily Telegraph, 111 Buckingham Palace Rd, London SW1W 0DT When appropriate, the best letter will win a bottle of Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Premier So many stag dos sound like stag don’ts. Why do men think that the best way to celebrate their friend is an expensive weekend of selfinflicted torture? But spare a thought for the best man; it will never be possible to please everyone. Step away from the round robin email and ask people: are they going to go? If enough are, leave them to it and spend a bit more on the wedding present. If everyone is bowing out of the plan then the hapless best man will be forced to think again. Often there seems to be a pressure on the groom to become a totally different person than the man he was prior to his engagement. How many times have we heard of men who don’t drink to excess or frequent lap dancing clubs being coerced into doing those things? It’s as if people want the marriage to begin with an almighty row. The other problem with stag events is that often the groom is everyone’s only mutual friend, so it is essentially a group of strangers being forced into a weekend together. It is a rare man that would look forward to that, even if it does involve a Jeep. Far better in my view to plan something that brings people together but then allows them to opt out when they have had enough. This is, of course, much easier said than done. I think your task is to not make the job of the best man even harder than it is, and if the plan is something you don’t want to do or can’t afford then make an excuse. By the time your friend is on his second marriage nobody will even remember there was a stag do. By the way, there is one thing I can think of that 12 men in their 30s might do together, but I don’t think you’d enjoy it.