Sunday, 20 January 2013

An Edible Town

There's a small town in Germany - Andernach, on the River Rhine - which is an "edible town". Doesn't mean you can eat the houses, though. But it is a revolutionary concept which could have a long-lasting influence on how we see a) towns )b) ownership c) pulic spaces

But first let me explain the idea:

In 2010 town planners and developers in Andernach decided that all their green spaces - parks, meadows by the river, and moats around the castle would be turned from boring and slighty dreary patches of grass and flowerbeds into something quite exciting: Vegetables and fruit, herbs and orchards would be the new order for those public spaces. So if you go to a park, you'll see beds of cucumbers, carrots, strawberries,and beans. Or apple trees.

And the real beauty of it all- it's there for everybody. You are positively encouraged to go and pick apples, dig up carrots, cut off a few lettuces - however much you want. Green spaces with edible produce for everybody - healthy, fresh and at no cost. So anybody in Andernach can go and get their lunch or supper ingredients -not fresh from the market - but fresh from the park.

Beats a hanging basket doesn't it?

In addition, they pay particular attention to almost extinct and vintage varieties, for example there are 300 different types of tomatoes, and 100 varieties of beans to be found there.

I think this is an EXCELLENT idea and should be a model for all towns! It could solve austerity issues, revive city centres, invigorate dowdy parks, inject community spirit, and of course feed poorer families with no-cotst healthy food.

There are quite a few Youtube videos (in German) but even though you may not understand what's being said you can see the images and hear the enthusiasm in people's voices!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

...and the Colour of the Year 2013 is....

Just a short post to tell you what's been voted colour of the year 2013.

A colour that is  "vibrant, radiant, verdant, positive, exhilarating, inspiring, elegant, lush....."

So whether you buy a gemstone, a dress, paint your walls, or just get a new smartphone case....


Colour of the Year 2013 is Pantone 17-5641 Emerald

Have fun with emerald!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Food Trends 2013

What's going to be big in terms of food in 2013? We...elll - the general consensus seems to be that 2013 will be the year of the vegetable. (Not surprising really, when you think of the cost of meat, the often diastrous conditions animals are transported in, and the terrible headlines about hormones and antibiotics found in meat.)

As to which vegetables we will all be tucking into with 2013-élan, opinions are divided - the much derided cauliflower and kale are often mentioned. I myself would put my money on coloured potatoes hitting the headlines, and in general a big surge für vintage, and rare breeds.

Which local cuisine will be tops in 2013? People in the know favour Brazilian cooking to feature large in 2013, and in harmony with that they also say that fiery Mezcal will be our top tipple (worm optional!)

The big question is: How will restaurants cope with the big slump in customer frequency? What new concepts, ideas and surprises have they got planned to lure us all back? Concept dining is being mentioned (yawn...) A more promising idea (at least in my books) is to re-create "at home suppers" in a restaurant. Meaning, going to a restaurant will be more like going to a dinner party in a friend's house - communal tables, shared bottles of wine, small gatherings, and an intimate, non-intimidating atmosphere. We'll see how that pans out. I think that restaurants will have to re-think their total approach, there is something that doesn't sit quite right with the Zeitgeist at the moment. Too fussy, too expensive, too "we set the agenda, aynd you'll have to put up with it".

Another very big trend will be home-baking, not so much the old cupcakes, but individual, interesting and high-quality products. Speciality breads will feature here, as well as in the bought category. 2013 will definitely be a bad year for pappy, white pre-sliced loaves!

Similar to the home-baking trend, but more fresh and interesting: 2013 will be the year of home-made snacks. No more multi-packs of Walker's crisps, but carefully crafted, well-thought through spicy nuts, home made bread chips, herby crackers and other delicacies.

It all sounds good fun and I for one am looking forward to a very foodie 2013!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Digital Pen - A Dream Come True!

I'm not doing product placement, but I simply don't know how else to show you how fantastic this is:

A pen which glides over your reading material - books, graphs - whatever and stores it digitally .... I can't believe my luck! Isn't that just incredibly good news? I definitely want one! From the book straight into Evernote!

Smartpen, I love you already!
(Unfortunately,the hyperlink function isn't working, so you'll have to paste this into your browser to find out more.)

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Crafts and Christmas Markets... Yeah! (With some personal tips)

Crafts are having a moment as you undoubtedly noticed as well. Just have a look at those beautiful Pinterest boards of that name, or look at Etsy or other craft related websites. People are knitting, crafting, papier-maché-ing, glueing bits together, woodworking, tie-dyeing - you name it.

It seems we're all in need of reassurance that the tangible, the genuine, the stuff you can feel and touch really exists. And even more importantly: That it's made with love. (And not in some horrible Chinese sweatshop where safety nets prevent people from committing suicide because their working life is so horrendous.)

Homemade, handmade - crafted with love.
My prediction therefore is that.....

......Traditional Christmas Markets - not the kinds which look like a 1970s fun-fair! will be the places to be this year. What could be more reassuring than browse through lovely crafted things on a romantically lit market square, the air scented with spices and an aroma of mulled wine?

Bobble caps and quilted jackets to the ready -this winter we will all be in a great big comfort zone - the Traditional Christmas Market, with its lovely array of beautiful things and a wonderfully protective atmosphere where nothing bad can happen.
A few that fit that bill:

  •  The most beautiful in my opinion:

  •  A really lovely one where you can learn to make candles:
Freiburg (an absolute gem of a town, well worth visiting, btw!)

  • A personal favourite: Christmas markets in Alsace, e.g. Strasbourg

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Hip and Cool It's Not...

... but oh so well-designed for its purpose! I'm talking about the new mobile phone just launched by Age UK - a phone targeted at the needs and abilities of older people.

No retina display here, or icecream sandwich technology. Just a plastic case with easy buttons and big labels that does the job of ringing your loved ones when you want or need to. I wish this type of of phone was avalailable in all countries, as my elderly relatives would certainly benefit.

I think we often overlook how confusing and bewildering mobile technology is to older people. My mother's mobile phone ended up in the kitchen drawer, as she just couldn't get comfortable with it. She missed the easy and familar features of a landline and was baffled by all the menu-driven options.

So this immensely practical and sturdy looking phone with a no-nonsense straight-forward application seems genius to me.

Might also be a great Xmas present for elderly loved ones!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Well Done, Procter and Gamble!

Sandy has gone, but the problems are still there on the American East Coast, especially in New York City.
In true American fighting spirit though, brands, shops and manufacturers have been providing instant neighbourhood help. I'm always full of admiration for this kind of thing, and anybody who's ever worked for a big company will appreciate that any form of spontaneity is not at all easy to organise, let alone get it approved by various departments and cost-centres.

The one that impressed me the most was Duracell. (Made by manufacturing giant Procter & Gamble, no less!) They simply drove a truck through Lower Manhattan - a compact little thing called "The Rapid Responder". From this power station they distributed masses amounts of free batteries to power-starved people and provided charging stations for mobile phones  -1,000 hours for much needed mobile communication and internet access.

You can read a heart-warming report about how much all this was appreciated here:  (Quite funny that the Duracell truck was placed at Battery Park!)

I'd like to say "Well done, Procter & Gamble" showing true American spirit - providing fast and uncomplicated help - truly inspirational!