About the Blog

Welcome to my blog. It’s an eclectic mix, but mostly I blog about food and wine, travel, lifestyle and sustainability.

I also write blogs for clients – if you’d like me to write a blog for you, please get in touch.

Creating a Japanese Garden

A garden makeover was a challenging but rewarding DIY project

When we bought our home in Kent, we had acquired quite a large, but not very appealing, semi-circular area of front garden. It was basically an expanse of driveway gravel with a few shrubs randomly planted in borders which had been created using upturned patio bricks.

The good news was that there was clearly potential here for a garden redesign project.

The original semi-circular garden

My wife, who’s Japanese, spent some time figuring out what we could do with the front garden. One day she came up with a bright idea – if the soil was good enough, perhaps we could create a Japanese garden there.

This seemed like a promising idea, although neither of us had ever done anything like this before. We weren’t really sure where to start.

Healthier School Meals for All Children: An Interview with Ian Dunn

Ian believes passionately that children should be eating healthier school meals. He’s the driving-force behind https://selfsufficientschools.co.uk/ and https://vegschoolmeals.co.uk/

I first came across the Self Sufficient Schools account on Twitter last year. It had a post asking people to sign a petition to make School Food-Growing & Self-Sufficiency a dedicated subject area of the UK National Curriculum. I was curious to find out more about this initiative, which was started by North London-based Ian Dunn, because it immediately struck me as a very good idea.

I still have fairly vivid memories of school food, which, back in the 1960s and 1970s, wasn’t very good at all. This was a salad-free era. I remember great big tubs of mashed potato and baked beans, toad-in-the-hole at least once a week, and always fried fish, or fish fingers, on Fridays. If we ever saw any green vegetables they’d usually been boiled to within an inch of their lives. Desserts were stodgy and unhealthy – treacle sponge or spotted dick – and nearly everything was served with custard. Fresh fruit was a rarity!

Sussex – Kingscote Vineyard and the Gravetye Circular Walk

If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I take a keen interest in the Kent vineyard scene. I recently broke ranks and slipped unnoticed across the county border into Sussex to check out the Kingscote Estate and Vineyard.

Some friends in London had organised a walking day in West Sussex last week, loosely following the bucolic route of the “Gravetye Circular” in the High Weald. The route takes you past historic houses, lakes and vineyards and through lots of natural woodland. Knowing of my interest in local vineyards they kindly invited me along. The opportunity to call in at the Kingscote Estate was not to be missed, even if it meant a 7 mile walk on a hot June day! Our walking route actually took us through Kingscote twice.

Goodbye E.ON…Hello Octopus

Home energy – an industry where customer retention no longer matters

Like so many people across the UK, I recently changed my home energy provider. You know the situation…you’ve been with your supplier for quite a while, and a few weeks before your contract is due to end, you get a reminder. You start looking at their renewal deals, because you know you’ll end up being whacked pretty hard financially if you do nothing.

My existing supplier was E.ON. I’d been with them for a couple of years and was reasonably happy with my dual fuel contract. But when I looked at their renewal offers, I was pretty horrified. I was going to be paying a lot more.

The Bottle and the Mug – a Sustainability Tale

A bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling natural mineral water from Italy and a coffee mug featuring a slogan that suggests its owner didn’t vote for Brexit. What’s the connection between the two? Let me explain.

For many years I’ve been a happy consumer of imported sparkling mineral water from Europe, both in restaurants and at home, without every really stopping to think about my choice. San Pellegrino, Perrier, Evian and all the other well-known European mineral water brands are nice to drink and reassuringly expensive. If you order any of them in a restaurant, nobody is going to think you’re a cheapskate.

A Roadmap to Sustainability for Small Businesses

There can be little doubt that consumers care deeply about the environment and sustainability, and they prefer to deal with businesses which care about these things too. According to a recent survey conducted by Accenture, a leading global management consultancy, 60% of respondents said that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic they were making more environmentally friendly, sustainable or ethical purchases.

A societal shift towards making better environmental choices had begun well before the pandemic took hold and it seems likely to accelerate further once the world returns to normal.

Top Tips for Better LinkedIn Posts

The first line of your post is critical

Give very careful thought to your first line, because as your LinkedIn audience reads it this is the moment when they will decide whether to continue reading your post or just scroll on past it.

Never underestimate the power of the visual

Creating content isn’t just about the writing itself. Use images that support the content. This improves the overall reading experience. And don’t forget to optimise your images. A high percentage of LinkedIn engagement is on mobile devices, so make sure your images suit small devices as well. Use video content where you can, as this also helps greatly to drive engagement. Videos should start with essential information and end with your call to action (see below).

Small Businesses Need to Up Their Game on Sustainability and Ethical Sourcing

A very good friend of mine, Julian Lyons, runs IMI Ltd., a long-established premium sourcing company based in Central London. Julian recently announced in a LinkedIn post that his company, which does a lot of business internationally, particularly with China, had updated the Sustainability and Ethics Policy on its website. It’s a very comprehensive policy and I know that Julian believes passionately that his company should operate sustainably and needs to avoid at all costs doing business with any suppliers which could be benefitting from the use of child labour or forced labour.