Planning is complicated. When there's an ongoing pandemic; when your loved ones aren't in the same country as you; when rules and regulations are changing at the flip of a switch as 'spikes' and 'curves' reappear. It simply hard, to plan.
We were reminded recently by our friend Meredith Whitely of Calm Cocoa, that sometimes, simple is best.
So, we will attempt the un-planning method. We will give in to spontaneity. We will look to our surroundings first. We will make the most of what we already have. We will remember the simple pleasures of our childhoods - what was your favourite thing to do, aged 7? It's niche. But apparently there is some science to it. Mine was probably somewhere in the realm of team sports, baking, making and drawing. [And if you've not spoken to your parents in a while, here's an excuse to pick up the phone to ask]. We will remember how lucky we are that we have the technology to stay in touch with people, even if we're in the four corners of the globe.
Here are some simple suggestions, that will hopefully enable you to tap into some simple pleasures. Let's not over complicate it, alright?
Making: throughout lockdown we have loved and been constantly inspired by Nadiya Hussain and Melissa Hemsley's simple, flavour packed recipes, with bounds of colour, texture, and thriftiness thrown in.
Eating: While we eagerly await for our favourite London-based sustainable restaurant Silo, to re-open, Tillingham Wines is worth a quick train trip to East Sussex for their recently launched a stone-fired Pizza and wine night. And no, it is not another 'pizza and wine night'. The estate boasts acres of vineyards, a newly opened B&B, campsite, shop, zero waste restaurant and bar. And now, Friday-Sunday some of the best pizzas we've tasted in a while [though make sure you don't arrive starving, it's not prompt, though with the views they'd easily be forgiven..] ; we recommend the Garden - nasturtium pesto and home-grown courgettes - and Meat pizzas. Soon to be open Wed-Sun, for wine tastings and tours too. If it weren't for the cool, undoubtedly British-summer-time evening air, you'd think yourself in French wine country. It is as picturesque as it sounds.
Staying: The Pig Hotels. No doubtedly a treat, and for more budget-friendly options, Airbnb has some British jewels not to be missed. But, sincerely a treat worth investing in, if you are able. See our write up of a visit this time last year to The Pig-in-Combe. Their food is simple, but locally grown wherever possible, and sourced - as their dinner menu celebrates - within a 25 mile radius. The decor, unique to each hotel, sublime - the thought that goes into every detail is evident, often with upcycled or thrifty finds [so we were told].
Reading: Silo, The Zero Waste Blue Print by Doug McMaster. There's no doubt that the past 4 months have, in many ways, much resembled a forced, global therapy session. What do you really need when you can only shop once a week, the shelves are half empty, our favourite stores are closed and now there are shipping fees associated with every purchase? What do we really contribute to the world around us when we're stuck inside the same 4 walls for months on end? What do we really value, when our financial situations change, the travel industry is a ghost of its former self and we are separated from families and friends? The 'Zero Waste' movement is about so much more than just food. It's about looking at ourselves and recognising the resources we have within and around us, how to extract as much value and how best to put it to use. Doug McMaster, chef and author of The Zero Waste Blue Print is one of our heroes - indeed one of the industry's leading change-makers - not only because his food is phenomenal but his vision and determination are clear and inspiring.
Exploring: England. The rolling hills, the ragged coast lines, the local independents re-opening and down the country. One of our favourites, Pump Street, both Bakery and Chocolate Shop in Orford are utter jems. Their bean to bar chocolate is some of the best in the world, let alone the country. And their bakes are classic and indulgent [at Easter last year we were treated to the genius creation that is a bacon-hot-cross-bun. Need we say more]. A revolutionary sustainable skincare oasis in Margate, Haeckels. Known for their dungarees and radical transparent supply chain, Lucy and Yak in Brighton. To name but a few, but a reminder to seek out and support as and when you are able.