Category Archives: Environment

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Christmas at Bolney Wine Estate

Gilly Smith talks to Sam Linter about life on The Bolney Wine Estate

Baubles and berries, bottles and bubbles, it’s all just one big excuse, this Christmas malarkey, to deck the halls and be very jolly indeed. But we’re not about that consumerist nonsense over at Whistler Towers. We’re all about zero waste and making stuff, eating local produce and supporting the neighbours. So how to feast and have fun without maxing the landfill? Come closer; we have some sparkling ideas.

One of the real treats of living in Brighton is the bounty of great produce on our doorstep, and increasingly, that means some pretty amazing wines too. Ding dong! There’s a couple of Christmas present ideas already. Plus, a wine tour is a great day out for all the rellies, and we’re still only on paragraph two. But wine? Sustainable? How? 

Well, climate change may not have a lot going for it, but the warming of our southern vineyards is at least creating a rather vibrant industry, with experts claiming that some of our chalk soil compares favourably to that of the Champagne region of France. And while English wines have been a thing since the Romans, this relatively new industry has attracted some pretty cool people who care about much more than the sound of the cash till. 

Cindy-Marie Harvey is the author of Watercress, Willow and Wine and told me that the English wine industry is setting new standards in sustainable business practice. “I think wine GB has been absolutely brilliant,” she told me on my podcast Cooking the Books. “If you look at a winery at harvest time, the amount of water that you need just to keep everything clean, it’s a phenomenal amount. For one litre of wine, you probably need ten litres of water. There’s a whole host of sustainable criteria that you have to look at before you can actually get the Sustainable Wines of Great Britain badge, but that means that customers can trust what they’re buying.” 

Within an hour’s drive or so from Brighton, we have some of the best wines in the south east, many of which are leading the field in sustainability. Ridgeview in Ditchling, the organic Davenports in Rotherfield in the Low Weald, Rathfinney in Alfriston, Bolney, just 20 mins from Brighton, Wiston, Breaky Bottom, the mighty Nyetimber, how spoilt are we? And Plumpton College just down the road is training up the next generation even as I write. 

Winemaker Sam Linter has lived almost her whole life at Bolney vineyard after her parents bought up an old pig farm in the 1970s, inspired no doubt by the TV sitcom The Good Life

“We had goats on site, so mum did the goat’s milk, the goat yoghurts, the cheese she used to sell to local deli’ Sam told me when I interviewed her for the delicious podcast. “She would drive all over to sell them. She grew marrows, tomatoes, courgettes, sweet corn, we had strawberries on site here. And it was fun. It was a great childhood. My brother and I ran wild.”

That Good Life ethos lives on at Bolney since Sam has taken the reins from her parents and built a business that has become a leader in English wines. Its cuvee rose even had a rep from Laurent Perrier recently scratching his head at which was his in a taste off. And with pips and skins used to make gin and other by-products, its wine production creates a virtuous circle. They even have a wine bottle Christmas tree at the entrance to the winery restaurant.

On which… what a find for a posh lunch over the holidays. Its Eighteen Acres Cafe overlooking the vineyard gets our loudest Whistle for quality, service and price with a fabulously instagrammable menu. And it’s even dog-friendly! To celebrate the festive season, Bolney is also running some tastings throughout December. A £12 ticket will buy you a tasting of three wines, paired with festive themed canapé plus a Bolney branded ISO tasting glass to take home. Or to give away as a Christmas present..  And if you prefer a little music with your wine tastings, you can enjoy a charcuterie board and glass of Bolney Bubbly for £30 per person every Friday evening in December. 

Listen to Gilly’s podcast with Cindy-Marie fromher podcast show “Cooking The Books with Gilly Smith https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/cindy-marie-harvey-watercress-willow-and-wine/id1499255116?i=1000590240914

And also Gilly’s interview with Sam for the delicious podcast from June 2019

https://shows.acast.com/deliciousdish/episodes/thejuneepisode-englishwine-ginandfishplusbakeoffsbenoitblinand

Bolney Wine Estate Foxhole Ln, Bolney, Haywards Heath RH17 5NB

More details at https://bolneywineestate.com/whats-on

Art in public spaces. What do you think? Here’s your chance to say

Morris Singer Art Foundry Ltd|Bruce, Romany Mark; Tay (AIDS Memorial); ; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/tay-aids-memorial-245784

What do you feel when you see a statue to some historical figure you’ve kinda heard of but don’t really know anything about? Do you think… “It’s just there. It’s always been there, so let it be there”? Do you think… “Who is that? I’m going to find out about that right now. Now, where’s my Wikipedia…?” Do you think… “Whoever it is, it means nothing to me. I wish there was something there I could feel something positive about”.

Well… strangely enough now we’ve got a chance to say what we think about public art in our city. We’re not talking about private exhibitions, shows, gigs, festivals, that’s one thing, But what about the art that’s out there in the public spaces. Statues. Outdoor installations. Spaces in parks. How do we, as a city, feel about that stuff? We saw last year, particularly in Bristol, that historic statues can be… problematic. How do we deal with those subjects and feelings? Remember the Mary Wollstonecraft sculpture that was unveiled in London in November?

Brighton’s an arty city, a creative city. It’s one of the reasons we’re here. The public art should reflect that – and now’s a chance to make that happen.

The Brighton based arts charity Lighthouse has launched an online public survey and series of short films under the banner “Let’s Talk Public Art” to encourage us to say what we think about public art in the city.

“Public art can provoke intensely divided public opinion, as we have seen recently with historic statues being removed because of their connections to slavery. These short films feature discussion points such as heritage, inclusion, sustainability and wellbeing so we can delve into how people feel about public art” says Alli Beddoes, Lighthouse CEO & Artistic Director.

Films:

Places & Spaces with Matt Adams – Blast Theory and Atif Choudhury – Diversity & Ability An exploration of what and where the spaces and places can be for public art. It should be more than standalone works in the public realm, they should be integral to the ways in which we experience and understand our city.

A Green City with Ami Rae – Onca Gallery and Claire Potter – Claire Potter Design What doers it mean to be green – and can you green the city through public art. Brighton & Hove aims to be carbon neutral by 2030 – how can public art support this?

Wellbeing with Elsa Monteith – Writer & Artist and Emma Frankland – Artist What does public art mean for our sense of identity and belonging? How can it help us connect and care?

Heritage with Judith Ricketts, Artist and E J Scott, Historian & Curator What is a successful piece of artwork that celebrates heritage in our city? How can public art hold onto the past without erasing it but use it to be informed and carve out a better future for the next generation?

Connectivity & Community with Amartey Golding – Artist and Bobby Brown – Music Producer & Careworker, Hangleton & Knoll A film discussion of the ways commissioning public art can connect to community groups in the city.

There’s an event – online, natch – called Let’s Talk Public Art – Digital Campfire(10am to 12 noon, Fri 5 February) which might be interesting. To join, take part in the survey, watch the films or register for the event visit: lighthouse.org.uk/events/lets-talk-about-public-art

Books, music… baby clothes?

Every parent knows the story. No sooner have you stocked up on your baby or toddler’s new wardrobe than little Johnny has already outgrown the lot.  You’re looking at your bank account and scratching your head while the kids’ clothes manufacturers are gleefully ringing up the tills. It’s the price you pay as a parent, but the cost to the earth isn’t funny.

“I was making organic baby and kids clothes for my company SuperNatural Collections but I got to thinking that the world really does not need me to produce any more baby clothes whether they are organic or not”, said Jenny Barrett, the founder of SuperLooper. “There are 183 million items of unused baby clothing stored in UK homes.” 

Jenny is on a mission to make a difference and created SuperLooper, an online baby clothing library of pre-loved clothes for babies 0-2 years to offer parents a waste-free-wardrobe for as long as they need. ‘And when your child has outgrown them, you just send them back to be loved & looped again’. 

When it comes to sustainable fashion, baby clothing is often forgotten. Of the estimated £140 million worth (around 350,000 tonnes) of used clothing which goes to landfill in the UK every year, baby clothes account for huge portion simply because of how fast they grow. After spending much of her life in the fashion industry Jenny realised things didn’t have to be that way. SuperLooper, a subscription service of around £20 a month enables parents to avoid buying new clothes altogether and to clear out all their outgrown items to share with other families. “You can choose as many clothes as you like.”

The circular economy is an alternative to the traditional way where we make, use and dispose of items, ensuring that the life of a product doesn’t end when it is no longer used. It is re-used, remade and eventually recycled into another product. SuperLooper makes sure that great clothes will be at least be kept in circulation for as long as possible.

So far, the clothes library has over 1600 items to choose from and will have lots more by Christmas “It’s a huge job, ironing labels on, taking photographs then uploading them. It’s all a bit overwhelming but I’m very determined!” 

We know we can do things to help our planet but it’s that further step to make the change which seems to stop most people from actually doing anything. “Just keep on it and don’t worry that it’s a tiny thing because we all know tiny things eventually, become big things. We can all make the difference. We just have to believe.” 

If you would like to join the 

community check them out 

on Facebook @SuperLooper or sign up at http://www.superlooperlife.com

#Whyownwhenyoucanrent

#ownyourfuturenotyourclothes

Back home for one more adventure

What do you do after the jungles of French Guiana and Chicago? Jed Novick finds out

I’m outside the newly revamped Eddy, enjoying an afternoon drink and chat with Mark and Hatt, the new guardians of this particular galaxy. A car comes down the road and stops outside the pub. I don’t even notce, but Mark’s up and over there. Hatt turns, looks, smiles, carries on. Seconds later, a young lad, all muscles and tatts and with a face like a kid who’s been told to clear up his dinner plates, is walking over to the recycling bins carrying a lone bottle. He drops the bottle in the bin and throws us a half-hearted sneer, but Mark’s already back with us and the story is done. “He was just going to leave the bottle on the pavement” says Mark. “This is our community. We live here. We all live here. Have a bit of respect”. 

Hatt – Harriet Eaton – and Mark – Mark Reed – took over The Eddy in January and from there till now, it hasn’t been a straight line. But one look at Hatt and Mark and somehow you know they’re familiar with picaresque journeys. They’ve got stories.

She’s all bangles, tattoos and rings. An artist. Originally from West Sussex, the road to West Hill hasn’t been a straight one. Went to Paris when she was 18, worked in fashion, married a doctor. “He wanted to specialise in the tropical diseases. So we went and lived in South America for three years in French Guiana in a place called Maripasoula, right in the middle of the jungle. It’s like a tiny plane or three days on a boat to get out. So that was interesting. Mostly”. 

As you do when you find yourself in the middle of the jungle days away from anywhere, Hatt set up a textile business “because that’s what I’d done in Paris and that went really well – beach towels and robes” but then life intervened – kids, parents, school, the usual – and the path led back to Brighton working behind the bar in a pub not far from where we’re sitting now. 

Originally from Hastings, Mark also took a few detours before getting the keys to The Eddy. “I had a few pubs and clubs in Hastings, pubs and clubs in Brighton”. Anything I’d know? “Yeah. The old Club Savannah, which is where Club Revenge is now above Harry Ramsden”. How far are we going back here? “This is back in the early to mid-Eighties. Then I moved to America and I worked in the music industry in America, going on tour with bands for a number of years, lived out hotel rooms for about five. I worked for EMI and then I was a writer for a while and then my…  Then the music industry career got parlayed into partnerships in nightclubs and bars and restaurants in Chicago, um, over, uh, over a long period of time. And then alongside that, I also got into the car industry and worked for a major US Volkswagen dealership”. But then Mark’s life intervened…

So Mark came back after 25 years away, and Hatt taught herself how pubs worked and when the landlord of the pub where Hatt worked moved on… Well, opportunity knocks.  

Opportunity knocks and then opportunity pulls the rug away.  In January they got the keys. A couple of months later… the world stopped. Words like “global pandemic” and “lockdown” probably weren’t in the original business plan. What was the conversation like on March 19th, the night before the lights went out?  “We’ve got a lovely little film of the last night before we shut and there was great atmosphere and everybody was wow, this is our last night for a while.

“I think people just thought it was going to be about a month or a couple of weeks, and then we’d be back open again. And I think that we were sort of ignorant of how long it was going to be. But, you know, things happen and it’s just a question of how you look at it. For us, lockdown was fantastic. We just completely embraced it and changed the pub to who we are. Re-painted everything, cleaned everything, changed everything. The cellars, the toilets, everything.  It’s like being in my front room really, you know, we really, really have made it our own.

One sweet thing that came out of lockdown was that the idea of community really kicked in. “When we closed down, John at The Yeoman created a WhatsApp group for the four pubs on the block. We called ourselves The Manor and there’s definitely a sense of care between us, but yeah, it’s very sad that some of these pubs are too small to open. John’s been there for 15 years and his whole business plan has had to change. And it’s really tough”.

What do you want from all this? “The last owner was more…, um, he didn’t really understand the concept of the community, but that’s what we love. We live here. We live above the pub. It’s our home”.

Belonging and Nature in West Hill

A chance encounter in a shared space. L.O.Hughes meditates on an urban sanctuary

ON THIS JUNE DAY, I attempt to write about the theme of Belonging and Nature. The theme resonates and feels sensitive for me, a British-African. Hoping to unblock my writer self, I take a break in St Ann’s Well and walk over to St Nicholas Quiet Gardens, my sanctuary over 30 years. 

It’s a cool afternoon. As I stroll, I notice light trying to break through the flat, milk sky. Not unlike my own process. Right now, I’m content under this oasis of trees. But a brief encounter stops me in my tracks. 

An unfamiliar pooch, charges while barking loudly. Often I freeze and hold my breath, the ‘owner seeing the situation, swiftly calls on their pet  “He’s harmless” they say,  taking him in tow. We exchange smiles I breathe out. Job done. 

Yet on this June morning the scenario has all the tension and trepidation of a slow-motion film. I’m frozen, the owner, while only an arm’s length away, crawls like a tortoise, towards his barking terrier. More, his hard-shell silence and steely gaze, slice through my pleading eyes. I notice his pursed lip. Is he’s thinking, “Who is this stupid woman, scared of small lovable dog?”. I can’t tell, but as he finally takes control, I hear myself apologising. “I’m just a bit afraid of dogs when…” 

 “Well” he spoke assuredly, “This is a place of many dogs… So not the best place…” He stopped short. The words “for you” hung momentarily unspoken in the air between us, before drifting into the sky. 

My equilibrium quickly returns. “I think this is a place for everyone”.

I promptly dismissed the incident in my head. This was a decent enough guy, perhaps, interpreting my fear as dislike of his pet dog, and whose ill- manner, briefly, threw me off balance. 

Later I reflect on our shared gardens. How over 30 years I’ve seen changes in the ways we use these spaces; from strollers, tai chi practitioners and meditators to couples doing exercise, a place of refuge /sleep, to walkers, their dogs and more. Brightonians, while we not perfect, are generally open and accommodating to such diversity. 

Back home and with my writing. My mind has cleared. I reflect on belonging and inclusion during pandemic, front line workers finally recognised as essential, disabled people again fought for their lives, as others who are overlooked. I think about the incident in the park how it speaks to the theme of belonging in nature.  

I allowed myself feel the momentary blow, the impact of the spoken and unspoken atmosphere. The territorial claim over a green space, meant to be shared.  

I think about my childhood growing up in an institution that kept us separate from ordinary life and from nature itself, about how regularly my presence has been subject to question, often unwittingly, and at times blatantly. The impact on mental health, a collective experience for many struggling with the complexities of belonging re disability, class, ethnicity and more. Here there’s a gap in understanding of who can take belonging and inclusion for granted and those who don’t have that privilege.

I notice how my equilibrium more often returns quickly. How, I have found healing in nature itself. Walking the South Downs Way over 30 years gave me a feeling of belonging to the land as well as friendships here. Our parks are part of nature we long to protect. I experience Brighton as one of most open places in the South. During lock down, we saw some of our best qualities.  And like many cities we have our challenges. 

As we face more lock downs and use our communal spaces more, we are challenged to negotiate how we use, share, take care of them and each other. Many are fighting to enable people, animals and earth to breathe more easily, be protected, respected and enjoy belonging together in our precious green city.