GARDENING guru Peter Burks* who advises the online garden centre www.potterandrest.co.uk based in Somerset is offering a whole host of tips for selling your home this summer (2017) by ensuring your outdoor area looks its best.
Gardens, patios and green spaces are now even more important than ever when it comes to selling property.
Peter says: “Having an outdoor area is an asset and making it look as inviting and appealing as possible will help potential buyers envisage relaxing, entertaining and gardening in the space too.
“Dress your outdoor space as you would dress your home inside. This will help any potential buyer to visualise how they would use the garden. Think about who is likely to buy your home and whether they will want to see a low maintenance entertaining zone, a family garden with space for a climbing frame or a plantsperson’s haven. Sometimes you might need to achieve a combination of these looks. Borrow props from friends and family to get the vibe you’re after.
“Some garden stores and centres will hire out plants for weddings and parties. So, if you have lots of viewing on one weekend, why not hire some potted greenery to give added interest, but be sure you know how to look after them, so you don’t incur additional costs.
“Just as you might have the smell of fresh coffee inside, ensure enticing aromas abound outside too by selecting scent-makers, one for each season, near your front door. You could also consider tactile planting schemes and installing items that will attract the buyer you’re particularly after, like garden lighting.
“If you have a large garden in a rural or suburban setting, then you might want to woo a buyer keen for the good life and pop some moveable raised veg beds in to show them there is space to grow their own.
“Small gardens and patio areas always benefit from having a minimal look to maximise the space, but a chair, with cushion, and table are always appealing, however small, and a few easy to tend pots look great too. If the weather is good, be sure to have a glass of something lovely on the table and an open book too!”
Follow Peter’s other handy hints below:
Keep things tidy
Whatever the season your garden or patio, front and back, must be kept as tidy as possible. In the autumn and winter, leaves and debris can cause problems. Do a daily inspection and sweep up anything you find.
All year round it’s really important to ensure flower beds are well weeded, use bark to help suppress the weeds and keep beds tidy, lawns must be mowed regularly and hedges trimmed. Front gardens are part of your property’s kerb appeal so pay extra special attention to them, especially if your home is prone to having litter from the street blowing in.
Remember to pop your rubbish bins somewhere unobtrusive so that they don’t ruin the ambience.
Ensure boundary fencing is tidy and kept in good repair too.
Cutting lawns in the summer months and tidying flowerbeds will also help make your garden look larger.
Dress your outdoor space
In the summer months, it’s easier to dress your garden for a sale by using props such as hanging baskets, pots of plants, furniture and equipment like barbecues. These not only introduce colour and charm they also help potential buyers envisage how they might use the space.
Keep everything in good order
If you have a shed make sure it is neat and tidy, with doors and locks working and woodwork painted/treated. With a greenhouse, even if you don’t use it, you do need to be sure there is no broken glass and it looks safe. If it is very derelict, then it may be better to remove it completely and use the base as a feature area for pots of plants. Oil any squeaky gates and again ensure with gates and fences that the woodwork has been treated or painted.
Get rid of the clutter
Clear out any outhouses, garages, sheds and greenhouses. Remove the debris and the clutter and be prepared to make several trips to the recycling centre/tip. Keep things in storage boxes and remove the dust and cobwebs.
Children’s and animals’ toys
These can be a bit of an eye sore so make sure there is space somewhere to store then away when potential buyers are coming to look around.
Give your garden a clean
Everything looks better when it has been cleaned. There are lots of specialist cleaning materials and tools available to get patios, decking and furniture all sparkly. If you have pets pick up any mess.
Pick up your paint brushes and dive into the exciting world of upcycling with a little help from Everlong Paint. Whether you’re new on the revamping scene or a master of all trades, owner and self-accomplished renovator Sarah Weightman, shares all of her hints and tips to help you create the perfect masterpiece.
Upcycling furniture is an increasingly popular trend that is showing no signs of stopping. This cost-effective way of turning old pieces into stunning new designs, has got us all reaching for our overalls and paint brushes. Although the thought of undertaking a large project such as the one pictured above can seem quite daunting, with Everlong Paint’s formula it couldn’t be easier. Now available in a handy 500ml tin as well as their 100ml one project pot and 1L tin, there’s a size to suit any project. Unlike many other brands on the market, it requires no wax finish.
“Before you get stuck in make sure you have all of your tools to hand”, says Sarah. “I tend to have a brush, kitchen roll, paint stirrer and if needed to remove hardware, a trusty screw driver.”
“It’s important to clean each piece of furniture using good quality sugar soap before painting, which will remove any old polish/wax and dirt that may bleed through your finished painted item.”
“When selecting a colour, think about your existing décor and where your painted item will live. A rich cream shade is a popular choice, but will be lost once placed against a magnolia wall. Why not opt for our on-trend Dijon pictured on the left and below? This cheery colour will instantly brighten up your interiors this season.”
“It’s important to be patient with your coats” Sarah continues, “2-3 thinner layers are much better than 1 thick coat of paint. Don’t worry if after your first coat your item looks a little uneven or patchy, this is perfectly normal and with each coat you apply, you will see more of a finished result.”
Once your old treasure has taken on a new lease of life, it’s time to start thinking about finishing touches. Everlong paint is designed to leave a matt chalky finish. However, due to the wax properties in the formula, you can simply buff the paint with a soft cloth once dry to create a waxed effect with added durability. Another option to enhance your work of art would be distressing, as Sarah explains below;
“To distress or not distress, that is the question? I prefer a little gently distressing as it adds character to your item. I use an 80 grit/grade sandpaper.”
“The best way to obtain an authentic distressed effect is to imagine your piece is a good few hundred years of age, and distress where the item would have been handled over time, such as handles, knobs, edges and features.”
“If you have been too enthusiastic with your sanding, do not worry as it can easily be fixed. Simply paint back over the affected area, wait for it to dry and start again.”
To find out more about Everlong Paint, please visit their website here.
If you are an owner of a listed property or are thinking of buying one, you might have a number of questions but are unsure who to ask or where to turn for advice. For over 20 years The Listed Property Owners’ Club (LPOC) team has been advising listed home owners and potential buyers. LPOC brings together expert knowledge and experience with all aspects of buying, conserving, renovating and insuring a listed home. Here, the club’s experts answer some of the most frequently asked questions from their members.
WHAT IS A CONSERVATION OFFICER AND ARE THEY IMPORTANT?
Conservation Officers are generally employees of the local council and their role is to ensure the character of the building remains intact. They will be one of your most important points of contact as the officer will grant – or deny – listed building consent. They may even dictate the materials and techniques that you should use to make these changes.
WHAT IS LISTED BUILDING CONSENT?
If you want to alter or extend a listed building in a way that affects its character or appearance as a building of special architectural or historic interest, or even demolish it, you must first apply for listed building consent from your local planning authority. Contrary to popular belief, listing protects the complete building both inside and out (not just the front) and may also include garden walls, courtyards and even statuary within the garden. Some buildings are also “curtilage listed” meaning that if your property is situated within the curtilage of, or attached to a listed building, it may also be listed. Make sure you know what is protected under the listing within your home and any grounds.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR UNAUTHORISED WORK?
If a previous owner made alterations to the building without listed building consent, the local planning authority may require you to reverse those alterations at your own cost. It doesn’t matter who carried out the work, or how long ago, it will become the new owner’s responsibility. It is important to make sure you are adequately insured and that suitable searches are carried out in order to make sure that all alterations have the correct consent.
WHAT IF I WANT TO EXTEND OR ALTER MY LISTED BUILDING?
If you are planning to extend or alter a listed building it is vital that you involve your Conservation Officer at the earliest stage possible. If you are planning alterations to a listed property, be realistic as to what will be allowed. For instance, listed building consent is unlikely to be granted to add a large modern garage to a small cottage. By working sympathetically with the property, your plans are much more likely to be approved.
IS DOUBLE GLAZING ACCEPTABLE IN A LISTED PROPERTY?
It is unusual to be able to introduce double glazing into the narrow glazing bars of period windows and for this reason double glazing is difficult. However, there would be no restriction on using secondary glazing and this is the method normally recommended. The use of very slim double-glazing units set within the original glazing bars may be acceptable although some Conservation Officers reject them due to the unsightly reflection. Listed building consent will be required if, for example, the windows are to be replaced with a new style of window or you wish to repaint existing windows a different colour to the existing.
HOW DOES MY INSURANCE DIFFER FROM A NON-LISTED PROPERTY?
The insurance of a listed building is very different to a modern building. Should disaster strike, the cost of repairing using traditional methods and materials will be greater than a “normal” house and your conservation officer will seek to ensure you reinstate “like for like”.
DO I NEED TO USE SPECIALIST SUPPLIERS AND TRADITIONAL METHODS?
As old buildings, listed properties often don’t respond well to the application of modern materials. For instance, many cases of damp are actually the result of the introduction of modern, non-breathable materials such as cement or paint which prevent the escape of moisture. In most cases, owners can get the best results for their property by using original traditional methods.
NEED HELP AND SUPPORT FROM THE LISTED PROPERTY OWNERS’ CLUB?
Join today and reap the benefits of LPOC membership right away. The Listed Property Owners’ Club is Britain’s only advice service dedicated to helping members get the most from their homes by providing detailed advice, information and support for just about every conceivable issue associated with ownership. Members benefit from a dedicated telephone helpline where you can speak to a team of experts on conservation, VAT, law, insurance and listed building matters. For more information about joining or to get a copy of ‘A Guide to Owning a Listed Property’ contact The Listed Property Owners’ Club on 01795 844939, visit www.lpoc.co.uk or email email@example.com.
Neutral doesn’t mean magnolia
Neutrals are the ultimate colour palette builder and allow you so much flexibility when it comes to accessorising, but they shouldn’t be consigned to being just flat beige and creams. Heritage paint specialists Farrow & Ball and Little Green are known for their stunning neutral selection, ranging from the softest pinks and greens to cooler greys and blues.
Light it up right
An overhead fixture light is not your friend. The aim should be to create golden, layered lighting from multiple sources. A good rule of thumb is that you need at least three separate light sources in any room (and that ceiling light doesn’t count). Vary the heights and strengths of your lighting to make even your cheapie basics look expertly expensive.
Scale your Interior Elements
When you enter into a room, it should be like a city scape…a combination of different heights. You never want everything in a room to be a the same level or the same size. Accomplish this with different heights/sizes in your furnishings, art placement and window treatments. Scales is the hardest thing to achieve – if the elements are too small, it can make a room look cluttered, and equally, elements that are too big can make a room feel really small. The secret to proper scale is a mixture of different shapes, heights and sizes. If there is only one thing that you hire an interior designer for, it is help with proportion and scale.
Keep the Floor Constant
If you can, keep the flooring of the hallway, living room, dining room and kitchen the same. This makes an amazing difference to how big the space feels. Not only does it link up your rooms, but it also creates a sense of unity in the design. When the doors are thrown open, it will make your home feel far more cohesive.
Don’t Buy the Entire Room in a Day
Skipping the planning phase of design and succumbing to impulse buys can spell disaster for any scheme. It’s better to have a complete concept developed before buying something you think you love on a whim only to realize later that it doesn’t coordinate or, in the worst case scenario, even fit in the room. The same goes for choosing your paint colours – painting before deciding on furniture and fabrics is a big no-no. It’s much easier to match paint to fabric than vice versa!
Hang Some Art
Whether it is an heirloom family oil painting or a cherished finger painting by your four year old, hanging art is one of the things that makes a house feel like a home, and it will seriously up your interior design prowess! If you’re a bit nervous about hammering straight into the wall, create templates on paper of the frames you have and try some different variations by taping it to the wall.
As with the rule of scale, you can group large frames of the same sizes in threes, fours or sixes. If you have only small frames, it is crucial that they are grouped and hung so the centre of the composition is roughly at eye level.
Don’t be Afraid of Colour and Pattern
There we are shouting about the importance of neutrals, then we go on about colour! Colour used well can take a room from basic to breathtaking, as can the use of pattern.
Even if you can be a wallflower, your furniture needn’t be – sofas and chairs pushed up against walls don’t make for the best social space. View your furniture as you would use it. A reading chair will need a table next to it for your drink and a lamp, and your wardrobe would benefit from a chair alongside to lay out outfits or balance laundry as you put it away. Thinking practically about the space will always make the room work better for you, and grouping furniture is one of the best ways.
If in Doubt Hire a Professional
There is no shame in needing help to pull a cohesive design together – that’s why there is a whole industry built around interior design. If you do hire a designer, make sure to be as thorough as possible in the briefing stage – it is vital that both people are on the same page.
With Winter just around the corner, it is quite common for us to feel a little lethargic and down at times as we are faced with less daylight hours and the general gloom that Winter can bring, however, our animals can also suffer too. Here, Robyn Harris of Equenergy explains how she can help everyone in the household through the healing she offers.
‘In my work I often come across people who are suffering from stress, overwhelm or chronic fatigue / pain. With the animals I encounter it’s generally niggling health or behavioural issues. In both cases they’ve tried a range of options but nothing, as yet, has managed to resolve the issue and allowed them just to get back to enjoying their day-to-day lives.
This is where I can help.
When we are well our bodies maintain a state of balance and harmony, known as homeostasis. If something disrupts this balance we feel disease. However the body is an intelligent system and it knows how to restore its equilibrium in order to return to good health. Although this is a natural process, we can sometimes get stuck in a condition of disharmony. When this happens we can benefit from support to help ‘kick-start’ the journey back to wellness.
The same is true for our animals. Given the correct conditions they can usually recover from an injury or slight illness by themselves, however they too can benefit from a helping hand, particularly if they seem to be taking a long time to heal, or they are struggling to recover fully.
Our modern world has come to believe that disease is a ‘mistake’ of some kind, and that it is to be feared and avoided wherever possible, however I believe that disease has a purpose. It comes from our body’s response to something that isn’t working for us and, if we explore the nature of the symptoms, it can lead us to identifying the trigger(s) and thus dealing with the issue and making any necessary changes in order to return to our natural state of balance and harmony.
Each of us may have a slightly different understanding of the term ‘wellbeing’. To me, it is not simply the absence of disease. I believe that wellbeing encompasses all layers of our being: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. The details of how this looks and feels, varies from person to person and can be influenced by things such as gender and culture but, for me, wellbeing is about being comfortable with who you are and feeling confident and capable of dealing with anything Life brings.
I offer a range of support, all of which is very effective for both people and animals, and can be used either face-to-face or at a distance:
I particularly specialise in working with horses and their owners. I love watching as their health improves and their bond of love and trust deepens allowing them to be even more in tune with each other, fully enjoying the time they spend together. The therapies above play a large part in this and I also offer workshops (either face-to-face or as a series of downloadable videos) exploring what makes a horse tick and how this affects his physical and emotional needs. When we are better able to understand — and provide for — these needs, our horses will be transformed into wonderful, free and fun-loving spirits with many magical gifts to share with us.
Horses are like barometers showing us what our energy is doing. If something is affecting your relationship with your horse, their behaviour will show this. It can often be a challenging lesson, as they can highlight the parts of our character that we might prefer to keep hidden, however this is the real gift of the horse. When he is content, secure and healthy he can be a gentle and honest teacher, showing us where our approaches are not serving us and how we can modify them in order to be a more authentic version of ourselves.
They can show us how to be Who We Really Are — and how to be comfortable with that. With horses there is no judgement and in their acceptance of us we learn to accept ourselves, ‘warts and all’. The journey can be uncomfortable at times as we shed the masks that we have created in order to exist in our busy, noisy world, but the stillness, peace and wellbeing that is available on the other side is well worth the effort.’
If you have any questions, or you would like to book a session for you or your animal, please contact Robyn on:
You can also see further information on her website here.
As you will have no doubt generated even more compost over the summer months, your first port of call should be to remove the old compost, and spread it where is it needed in the garden. Make sure you turn any excess to help it decompose even quicker.
If you have a greenhouse, now is the perfect time to clean it, to get rid of any pests and to prepare for new plants and seedlings in the spring. It is worth taking down any shading in your greenhouse too, to ensure that all plants get maximum sun exposure in these darkening days. Also take the time to make sure there are no damaged panels, and if so, now is the time to repair before the frost makes them worse.
Now that the leaves and flowers are dying back, take the opportunity to really tidy up your borders. Dig up annual plants, and dispose of them on your compost heap. You van now replant your winter blooms, such as pansies and crocuses, ready for a colourful spring. When you have the borders arranged as you like, spread a thick layer of compost across them.
Now that the blazing sun seems a distant memory, if your lawn is looking a bit on the tired side, now is the perfect time to get it ready for next summer. Remove dead grass and moss using a rake, and improve drainage by making holes with a garden fork at regular intervals across the grass. Once you’ve done this, apply some lawn feed too for best results.
If you are worried your garden will look a little bare this winter, get planting some evergreens. Do your research to get exactly the types of plants you want, ie do you want something with bright green leaves to really stand out, or something with a hint of scent? If you would like something more uniform, box or yew topiary is a perfect addition to any garden.
If you have a pond or water feature in your garden, now is the time to cover it with a net. Decomposing leaves and other winter waste can wreak havoc with the water, and with any pumps you might have, so do what you can to stop waste getting in.
Autumn is the perfect time to check that your garden equipment is ready for next year. If you have a lawn mower, send it for a service before you store it away. Sharpen any shears and secateurs and wash and dry other tools where necessary. You will appreciate the time you spent looking after them next year.
For more information on how to keep your garden tip-top this autumn, visit The Royal Horticultural Society’s website.
Nathan Outlaw started his career with another famous fish chef the one and only Rick Stein, and to this day he still reveres him and keeps in contact in this corner of Cornwall.
Sally Thomson recently spoke with him where they discussed his business and how much different running his gastropub The Mariners was to his two-star restaurant. They each offer dishes for different types of clientele, plus during the summer season he gets a lot of holiday makers visiting. So effectively he says that he has three or four markets to cater for. He explained that he has found that he needs to be a lot more versatile for his guests.
She asked him why he decided to take on such a challenge. “I love a challenge. Where the pub is we are working with Sharps Brewery and they have the same ethos as ours, making everything the best that you can. We complement each other well.
So at the end of the day you are only one man, how do you do it? You appear to be spinning lots of plates all the time.
Yes, I know what you mean. If I look into my diary it is enough to drive a man crazy, but I have a great deal of support around me. I have loyal guys that work with me. I have a good 20 people who have been loyal to me for a long time. They like me like to work hard at the same time as enjoying themselves, which makes everything a lot easier. It has taken 13 years to build that up – it didn’t happen over night.
So am I right in understanding that you are the only 2 Michelin starred fish chef in the country?
Well, yes there’s never been one before – yeah the one and only so far.
How does that make you feel?
I think it shows just how hard we have all worked together. The Michelin star and all the accolades are great but my aim is to see a full and happy restaurant with people coming back time and time again. They are the icing on the top. I try not to get tied up in that world – they could be taken away from you at any point. I concentrate on having a really good customer base.
Am I right in that cooking is in your blood and that you used to work with your dad?
I have always been interested in cooking since the age of 8. I have been in kitchens and dad works with me now actually. He works in the London restaurant.
So have you always wanted to cook then?
I’ve never really thought about doing anything else. I am quite creative so I looked at doing animation, but I was really honest with myself and thought that I was not going to be good enough. I think that there is still a lot of creativity in cooking.
How did your career start?
I was inspired by my father really. He’s always been very positive and proud about what he was doing. When I stepped into the kitchen as a youngster I just felt that it was right and decided that this is what I want to do. I’ve always felt comfortable.
And you were with Rick Stein for a while?
Yes, I wanted to work for the best fish restaurant in the country.
Now you have the best fish restaurant in the country! Well done you.
Rick is a big inspiration. You rarely get a chance to work for your hero and I had that opportunity. Some people say you should never meet your hero and I did and he delivered so he still keeps that status.
What do you think were the key elements that you learnt from Rick?
Keep things simple and look after the hospitality side of things. His restaurant is a fun place to be. It is not one of those hush hush dining rooms. It is nice and relaxed. After I left Ricks I went and worked for some fine dining restaurants which were a little more like that. I realised that what I saw at his seafood restaurant was what I wanted to do. Mine are a balance between the two as I try and make fine dining a lot more accessible. I try and take away all that ponce; customers need to feel comfortable.
It is so important to make the customers feel comfortable…
Well I go to a lot of top restaurants and have been in the business for over 20 years and I do know my way around a wine list and can feel intimidated at times. We try and make it very down to earth. Here in Cornwall 90% of our customers are here to relax. So it is very important that we accommodate that.
Putting people at their ease especially when they are paying the bill is very important especially in terms of getting them back again.
Definitely. We get a huge number of repeat customers, so I’d like to think we are doing it right. Front of house are all very personable, but professional at the same time. We try to look after you such as if you have any dietary requirements. That’s their job and something we put great store by. They will remember all of that for guests returning. They want to make sure that you feel special.
When did you venture out on your own?
2003 I opened my own place and got the star the next year. Within 8 months of opening.
So how did it feel when you were on your own- flying solo so to speak?
It was quite scary. My wife had just given birth to our son and we didn’t have anywhere to live so we stayed with my brother-in-law in a room in his house. Most people thought I was crazy – hey that still think that to this day! I think that if you believe in yourself you just have to get on with it. If someone tells me I cannot do it and it won’t work – I will try and make it work.
What star sign are you?
I’m Pisces – the right one for running a seafood restaurant.
I’ve seen you quite a few times on Saturday Kitchen, so how do you like cooking to camera?
I just try and do what I do in my own restaurant. It’s good on that programme as they don’t tell you what you have to cook. You are always allowed to do what you want to do. So effectively, you are just doing what you do day in day out. It’s a bit nerve-wracking the first time especially when they say you have 4 million people watching you – don’t swear! I quite enjoy it now.
I have been sent a copy of your latest book, which is delightful. I love reading cookbooks in bed and I would have to say that it is one of the most informative of books. It is fabulous. How did you enjoy working on that?
I like doing it all myself. What you see and read is my writing – the whole thing.
I’ve started to make some of you recipes and they are a joy to cook. We are usually fishy people but we becoming fishy people. Your book is so full of inspiration – it is really wonderful. So if you had to pick 3 of your favourite dishes (I know that this is a difficult question) what would they be?
I like all of the cured section particularly as there are not many books that cover that side of cooking. There is a mackerel that is cured in there with beetroot, that’s a nice one. Then there is one which is a turbot with seaweed breadcrumbs served with Hollandaise. That’s a nice one to do. There’s also a John Dory with asparagus and chilli salad. John Dory is a bit special as fishermen don’t target it, it tends to be caught with other fish, so grab it when you can. John Dory doesn’t swim in big shoals as you get with say bass. If you see it it’s a good idea to buy it.
And finally, whilst you are spinning so many plates what other plans do you have in the pipeline?
Well I am opening up a restaurant in Dubai in the Burg ala Rab. The chef that is going in there has been with me for 14 years. He’s basically me, but a much thinner version. I will be going out there about 6 times a year. I am looking forward to spending some time with the family and some sunshine.
Firstly, congratulations on reaching the amazing milestone of 500k sales of Lean in 15 in the UK. You must be thrilled with its success?
Thanks! 2016 has been amazing for me so far – I sold over half a million copies of books in the UK alone, in just 10 weeks which is amazing. Apparently only 7 other books have managed to sell that many in such a short space of time and they include Harry Potter. It’s incredible and I’m so grateful to everyone who’s bought it. Every week I get told new stats and records broken. The one that blew me away the most is when I was told that it’s already in the top 20 best-selling cookbooks of all time – massive chefs such as Gordon Ramsay aren’t even in that list, so yeah, I’m thrilled.
For anyone who hasn’t picked up a copy yet, can you tell us the essence of the book and your own techniques?
The book is full of 15 minute meals that will get you lean. It’s broken down into meals to eat when you’ve exercised and meals to eat at other times. They are all really simple but delicious. There’s also a guide to how to do HIIT exercise, lots of transformation images to inspire you and even snacks you can eat.
Your approach shows that fitness and good diet are not just the preserves of those with lots of time and money – do you think your plan’s accessibility has contributed to its success?
I think the fact that I’ve created a plan that is tailored for the individual, who can then do it all themselves at home is definitely a big part of its success. Personal trainers can be expensive and let’s face it not many of us can afford a private chef, so my plan is the perfect solution. I tell you want to eat and when and how to exercise. All the guesswork is taken out and you get incredible sustainable, life-long results.
Our understanding of good food and eating well have been warped by the media and big diet companies over the years – what are the big myths you try and dispel?
We’ve all been told so much rubbish over the years. The fact that people think both carbs and fats are bad for them really bugs me. Our bodies need carbs to fuel us, they help us burn fat, you just have to eat them at the right time. And fats are vital for our body. Why would anyone eat margarine and all the fake plastic products it contains, when you could eat butter which is made up of 1 natural ingredient? It’s just about having the right amount. The other thing that makes my blood boil, are some diet plans that tell people you can’t eat an avocado, but you can eat one of their ready make cake slices!
It seems prepping like a boss is key to fitness success! How do you fit your workouts and eating well into what must be a hectic schedule?
Prepping like a boss is just about being disciplined. Lots of people who start prepping say that it’s actually made their lives easier as they know what they’re eating and when. All you need to do is set aside a few hours at the weekend to prep your food for the week and you’re sorted.
Very excitingly the follow up book Lean in 15: The Shape Plan is out now – what can we expect in this book?
Lean in 15 was a broad over-view of my principles, and book 2 The Shape Plan takes things one step further towards building a fit, strong and lean body. It works on the same principle as my 90 day Shape Shift and Sustain plan, so this is the Shape part and is full of exercises and recipes that will shape your body and make you feel amazing! I’m super excited about it – the recipes are even better than the first book.
You started to build your brand and show your fitness and cooking techniques on social media and the transformations people send in after following your plan must make you really proud – have you had any particularly memorable ones?
I am honestly proud of every single one of my client transformations. Each of them has their own story and have worked really hard to achieve results. I especially love it when people come up to me and say they’re on the plan and chat to me about their meals and training. I get such a thrill from that.
Can you tell us a little more about the 90 Day SSS plan?
My 90 day plan is a bespoke plan that creates a tailored meal plans for 90 days which is worked out using the weight, height, dieting history, health, dietary requirements of each individual. The plan is in 3 cycles – the 1st cycle is sticking to meals created for you. The 2nd cycle is about mixing and matching your recipes, and the 3rd cycle is about creating your own meals. The aim is to change the way people eat for life, whilst teaching them about what to eat and when. By creating your own meals in cycle 3, my clients are set for life and will never ever diet again. The plan also explains what exercise to do and when and each person is assigned a ‘hero’ who is on hand to answer any questions they may have, so they’re never on their own. It’s transformed thousands of bodies for life!
Do you ever just want to eat that huge slice of chocolate cake? How can we get back on the wagon after a big fall off?
Yeah of course! Sometimes I have a total blow out… Recently I ate 3 chocolate bars in one sitting. We all need a blow out now and again, the important thing is to get back on it the next day. Don’t let a bad day become a bad week or a bad month.
I caught up with Joe Swift on a particularly persistently drizzly day – the sort where one looks out at the garden instead of finding themselves out and about in it. A hands-on designer himself, Joe has been a regular fixture on our screens since the nineties, appearing in BBC2’s Gardeners’ World since 1998 and presenting the coverage of Chelsea Flower Show and the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show. In the same way that interior or fashion trends ebb and flow, Joe has noticed many of the same changes in the way we approach garden design since he started appearing on TV – “I think the gardening world has changed a lot. When I first started on the telly the design interest was very contemporary – before that it has been your rectangular lawn with your borders on the outside and people couldn’t get past that more conventional layout. When you think about shows like Ground Force that’s where this kind of revolution to a more modern way of gardening was being put on a bigger stage and that’s when I joined Gardener’s World. The outdoor living aspect really came to the fore and plants became almost the secondary aspect. It’s a constantly changing industry, both in aesthetics and technology. Now we have a much better balance, including new considerations like encouraging wildlife and sustainability.”
More recently Joe has been a part of the wonderful Gardener of the Year Show, where amateur garden designers are judged on their ability to landscape and design to specific briefs. This new format drew on the popularity of shows like the Great British Bakeoff and has made gardening feel attainable again, with Joe acting as a mentor for the contestants “there were one or two people on the Gardener of the Year who were supremely talented. And what was also interesting was watching the learning curve of the other amateur designers – whoever didn’t get kicked out in the first round learnt so much from the experience in the way that they had to approach each project. There was so much to take on – time management, design, quality, and physically they were also exhausted too after three days of digging. The raw talent for some of them with a great eye was better than I anticipated. I think a lot of people felt it was really accessible even if they weren’t really that interested in gardening, and of course it fed well into Chelsea as the winning designer created a beautiful garden – we were so pleased with it.”
2015’s Chelsea Flower Show didn’t bring with it many avant guard styles, but the garden that won Best in Show was a very worthy winner, “Dan Pearson’s garden was an absolute triumph. It was inspired by the garden at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire and it was so ambitious and so well executed. Dan hadn’t actually exhibited at Chelsea for 10 years prior to this – he’s a British designer we should all feel very proud to have in our midst. He’s a genius – he doesn’t overwhelm you with design, but just intelligently works with the landscape to create something really special.” Not unlike Capability Brown then, the iconic 18th century landscape architect, who’s 300th anniversary we are celebrating this year in the year of the heritage garden.
Joe’s love of gardening, both watching a project evolve and the sheer joy of getting his hands dirty is abundantly clear. He has always had a love for the outdoors and from a young age took great delight in roaming around Hampstead Heath with friends. “We only had a small garden at home – which to my mother’s horror my brother and I used to wreck with a football – but my grandparents were really the gardeners and I used to spend weekends with them helping outdoors. I think it’s really important to get kids hooked when they’re young as it’s something they can come back to when they’re older and have their own homes. There are no negatives to gardening (apart form the occasional achey back which I think is the sign of a good day’s work!) – you learn about plants, you learn about the seasons, you understand the need to nurture and to have patience, it’s very rewarding and holds lots of life lessons.”
With so many commitments on screen and with his gardening practice Modular Garden, what is Joe’s approach to his own garden? “I’m a blitzer! I don’t potter, I like to attack it 3 or 4 times a year and when I get stuck in I really like to go for it. I’ve got quite a small garden in central London which has matured nicely but sometimes you need to get confident and be ballsy.” What would be your tips for helping a person inject some of their personality into a garden? Especially if they haven’t got a lot of space to work with? “The key is confidence, think about the style you are trying to create before you set foot in the garden centre or buy anything. Take photographs and use some tracing paper to try and see how the garden will look in 5 or 10 years and really take the time to plan and organise the space. Be creative and don’t be tempted to plonk things willy-nilly because good gardening is fundamentally about planning and creativity. Look at books and magazines and be confident in the style you are trying to create. Live with the plot – look at where the sun hits it and how it changed throughout the day. Always have somewhere to go at the end of the garden or you’ll never go down there! Try and get away from a rectangular lawn and boarders – try and get a sense of movement and loose the boundaries with climbers and shrubs so you can lose yourself in the little bubble. If it’s a small space go for two or three large items – picking lots of small bits will look under-scale, so be bold and have some real show stopping parts which help to define the space. Create something special and feel confident. Just like when you walk into the kitchen thinking I’m Delia or Jamie, go into your garden and think ‘I can design this garden’.”
Whether we live in towns or the countryside, we all know the importance of making our gardens are wildlife friendly. What should we be doing to help wildlife at home? “Plants that have berry, like ivy, really help provide food, as do roses with good hips. Birds have lost so much habitat that they rely on people putting food out in the garden.”
Joe’s schedule is already looking busy for 2016, but one of the big projects that stands out is his design for the Horatio Garden at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. “It’s a big project that needs lots of fundraising. It needs to be suitable for lots of children with spinal cord injuries who want to spend time in the garden and a roof top garden for other patients to enjoy – we are really looking for any pennies people can spend on the project. It’s so worthwhile.” And do you have any TV planned for the next year? “Yes you’ll see me on the usuals! Gardener’s World, Chelsea, Hampton Court Flower Show – it’s a tough job being at these lovely shows but someone has to do it!”
You can find out more about helping with the fundraising for Horatio’s Garden at Stoke Manderville at www.horatiosgarden.org.uk/fundraising