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How to take great pictures: six acclaimed photographers share their secrets | Photography

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Lesson one: Joel Meyerowitz
Anticipate a moment

World-renowned street photographer Joel Meyerowitz (born 1938) began taking photos of urban life in his home town of New York in the 1960s and was highly influential in changing attitudes to colour photography.

One of the great joys of being on the street is staying alert to the unexpected. As a young kid I grew up in the Bronx, in a real tough, working-class neighbourhood, and my father, who was a street-smart New Yorker and an athletic man (a professional boxer, in fact), taught me how to protect myself so I wouldn’t get hurt in street rumbles. He showed me how to bob and weave and to feint – to encourage someone to look elsewhere – so I could throw a shot.

My father also taught me to look at life happening in front of me. He would often whisper, “Joel, look at that”, or “watch this”. And wherever he pointed, something would happen. Somebody would slip on a banana skin, or bump into a pole or stop and have a conversation with someone and then they’d wrestle each other a little. He always seemed to have an idea of what might happen, and by pointing it out to me, he taught me to read the street.

In a way, being a photographer came very naturally to me, from a childhood awareness of having to look out for myself and an understanding that the world repeats itself over and over again.

New York City, 1975 Copyright of Joel Meyerowitz
New York City, 1975. Photograph: © Joel Meyerowitz

People have always walked into doors, fallen off steps, fought, made eye contact or gestures of anger or love. Humans do the same things all the time. If you understand that, you can watch the world with a sense of the possibility that these things are going to happen. You can almost predict movements, gestures and actions. That way, you’re ready to step into the right space at the right moment.

With this image, I was walking down a street in New York and saw a big puff of steam from an underground vent. Part of what is inspiring about photography every day is the moment something signals you. In this case it was a puff of steam, but it could be as simple as the way a truck comes past, or someone wearing a crazy outfit; anything that says, “Hello, I’m talking to you.” When you receive a signal, pay attention. Paying attention is the basic act of photography.

I saw that puff of steam and moved toward it because to me it was a screen in the middle of the street on to which people’s shadows were being projected. Just as I walked up to it, a couple wearing matching camel-coloured coats appeared. Then two other people in coats of the same colour came into view; imprinted on their backs were people’s shadows. This all happened in a split second, the time it takes for a photograph to come into being.

This picture has a kind of “twinning” quality, a kind of serendipity. Nothing major is happening, but the fact that these two small incidents appeared together, literally in a puff of smoke, is like a magician’s trick. Poof! Now you see it. And then it’s gone!

Lesson two: Rineke Dijkstra
Trust in the power of chance

Rineke Dijkstra; Parque de la Ciutadella, Barcelona, June 4, 2005
Parque de la Ciutadella, Barcelona, June 4, 2005. Photograph: Rineke Dijkstra

An honorary fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, Rineke Dijkstra (born 1959) is a Dutch photographer acclaimed for her striking portraits, often of young people.

Photography to me has always been about observing, but you cannot come up with everything yourself. It’s not in the nature of it: you have to allow chance to do its work in your process. I say this as someone who uses an old 4×5 inch analogue camera, who spends a lot of time working on the composition and the light and the colours, who likes to control what she can control. That tension between what you can and cannot control ultimately determines the power of the image.

Parque de la Ciutadela, Barcelona, June 4, 2005 came about by chance. I’d decided to take horizontal photographs for a change as I’ve done so many verticals, and there I was in the park, composing a shot. Then I looked up and saw this little girl. The expression she has in the final portrait is the one I first saw when I saw her: it’s all strength and directness: “What is that woman doing?” I immediately realised the situation had potential, her look, the lake, but I hadn’t specifically noticed the way the orange in her outfit works with the colour of the water. Or the string of her shorts, which seems to hang there with the same determination. And I’d only been vaguely aware of the position of the boat in the background. Still, I was very concentrated and got into this flow. I believe when you do so, you intuitively make the right decisions.

My most famous picture is probably the girl in the green bathing suit (Kolobrzeg, Poland, July 26 1992), and this involved chance. Her pose echoing the Botticelli painting of Venus was an accident, but I wonder if I was recognising something vague in my memory, something I trusted. Similarly, in the first of my series of portraits of Almerisa, a Bosnian refugee, I hadn’t noticed her shoes didn’t fit, because I was more focused on her pose and her expression. Those details are what tell the subject’s stories. It’s OK that they’re not always in your control. Somewhere between the pose and what’s natural comes the thing that works. Interview by Jude Rogers

Lesson three: Ellen von Unwerth
Have as much fun as possible

Easy Riders, Los Angeles, 2006 by Ellen Von Unwerth
Easy Riders, Los Angeles, 2006. Photograph: Ellen Von Unwerth

An award-winning German fashion and celebrity photographer, Von Unwerth (born 1954) helped launch Claudia Schiffer’s career in 1989 and has since shot stars from Beyoncé to David Bowie.

I like to make people larger than life in photographs, to make them look like superheroes. I love exaggerating things – the styling, the makeup – but the most important thing of all is to get them having fun. Getting somebody’s personality out of them is much more important to a photograph than their physique. Try and make someone feel a bit badass and expressive. Play around!

You can tell the models are having fun in this photograph: their expressions are charming but intriguing. I often do a little script for fashion shoots too, and give people roles to play, so it’s not just a pretty picture, but what they’re doing has some story behind it. But it’s also OK to let go and be spontaneous in the moment. I love the happy accident of the beach car in the background in this photograph. Someone looking in, going, “Hmm, what are they doing?” I had no idea it was there! I really embrace those moments.

It’s also important to not take yourself seriously as a photographer. I don’t. I play loud music. Try to get people to forget about posing. If it gets hard for some people, a little champagne works wonders! I like people to feel powerful but in a playful way, for them to feel emancipated but still sensual, and for that to come through in the photograph. I think you see that in the photographs of Claudia Schiffer I did for Guess, and David Bowie and Kate Moss [for a Q magazine cover in 2003].

Also: light is very important. Never get someone standing under those terrible ceiling lights. And I recommend taking 10 photographs a day of something beautiful. That trains your eye. JR

Battle Of Trafalgar, London, June 2020 by Liz Johnson Artur
Battle Of Trafalgar, London, June 2020. Photograph: Liz Johnson Artur

For more than three decades, the Ghanaian-Russian photographer Liz Johnson Artur (born 1964) has documented the lives of black people from across the African diaspora. Last year she had solo shows at the South London Gallery in London, where she is based, and at the Brooklyn Museum.

I often get asked how I get my pictures, and the most straightforward answer is, by being open about what I want and approaching people directly: not to try to catch a moment, but to be there when the moment happens. Being visible doesn’t mean you necessarily corrupt the situation. On the street I like to take people’s presence as they present themselves, and for me that is about me being also present.

This picture was taken in Trafalgar Square in June, when Black Lives Matter protesters were attacked by people allegedly protecting monuments. I’ve been working on a piece connected with the demonstrations so have been going to a lot of them. This was quite interesting because I didn’t actually expect to take pictures, but suddenly it erupted and became quite emotional. The woman was a mother and was talking about being ready to protect her son. I didn’t take her name, as for me she represented something I have seen over and over – black women protecting their sons, like the young man in the background.

I think what I like is that it shows her passion. There are intimate spaces in public places, and this is an intimate recording of a public event. As she was talking I was getting closer and closer. She allowed me to move. I wanted the passion and I also wanted the man listening. It was this image of an elder speaking and younger ones behind her.

I get asked a lot whether I’m a street photographer and I say I’m not really, I’m just using the street as a studio, approaching it in terms of what the background is, what the light is like and where I should be. I shoot on film, and it’s expensive, so I don’t waste it. In this case there’s just the one shot. I don’t arrange my pictures but I’ve learned to arrange how I move to get what I want. Interview by Claire Armitstead

Lesson five: Nick Waplington
Become really familiar with the landscape – and don’t rush

Fairies, London Fields, 2001 by Nick Waplington
Fairies, London Fields, 2001. Photograph: Nick Waplington

British art photographer Nick Waplington (born 1965) is known for his depictions of working-class life, urban landscapes and collaborations with the fashion designer Alexander McQueen.

When you know a landscape well, you pay attention to how it changes: how the light is more neutral at midday, how a sunny day gives a more orange tone, and how people might fit into that.

Build up a list of places where you think there’s a possibility of a good landscape photo, and keep going back to them. Then when you’re in the landscape you’ve chosen, take your time. I have practical reasons for doing this: I use a Victorian wooden, large-format camera on a tripod, and the film costs £30 to £40 a sheet. I’m quite happy to sit and watch. It’s a nice way to spend a day.

When I took the Princess Diana and the Kaleidoscope Skulls pictures at the Burning Man festival in the Black Rock desert in Nevada in 1997, I had been there all day in the baking heat [Waplington gives his photographs titles later: these images were taken the day Diana died]. Back then, the festival was quite radical and spectacular and weird. I spent all day by an ice sculpture, watching people coming by. I only took two shots, and that’s OK.

I also used to go back to London Fields in Hackney regularly on Sunday afternoons – the local squatters used to meet on the edge of the cricket field there, and I loved the light. I made Fairies: London Fields after seeing these two little girls playing there, and I photoshopped them so they repeat, as they reminded me of those Victorian fairy pictures [the Cottingley Fairies].

I’m also taking the last picture of my parents’ greenhouse in their garden soon as my mother is moving out of the house – then I’m taking the greenhouse. I’m going to put it on the roof of my London studio. Familiar landscapes keep giving you new ideas. They’re always changing. JR

Lesson six: Nadav Kander
Remain immersed in yourself and your process

Tricky II, London, England, 2019 © Nadav Kander
Tricky II, London, England, 2019. Photograph: © Nadav Kander

Winner of the outstanding contribution to photography prize at the 2019 Sony world photography awards, Nadav Kander (born 1961) is a celebrated portrait and landscape photographer based in London.

This lesson is in direct response to digital work nowadays, and applies to those beginning the practice of photography. If a student comes to me and says how did you form your language, how did you form and sharpen your voice? I’d say remain heightened while you photograph. If you keep flipping the camera over to look at the screen on the back, as soon as you start to get a good result you’ll lose your connection: you lose that angst and the will to do the best you can.

When I began photographing Tricky I started quite plain, probably with quite interesting lighting, but with him looking towards me, or looking away. Something about looking deeply at him, and staying with him, made me realise – and I don’t think I could have verbalised it at the time – that this is a man who likes to remain apart, quite hidden and complex and subtle, and that adding complexity with shadows, shrouding and disguising him, might result in something really emblematic of him.

Two nights later I saw him perform live for the first time, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and sure enough there was tons of smoke on the stage and very little lighting. He was just there in the smoke and was quite tortured. And I thought my god, the way that I’ve shown him and the way that he is on stage, felt exactly the same. It wasn’t thought of beforehand but happened because I could remain concentrated. Had I looked at my screen after the first few pictures, which were also used and very nice, I don’t think I would have got there.

It’s exactly the same with a landscape or a still life. It’s like one of those dreams where you wake up in the morning and wonder where those amazing thoughts came from. Well, it came from your subconscious and that is what I wish to tap into and rely on. I want things to come up as if from nowhere – those are more truthful by far than my thinking brain. CA

  • How I Make Photographs by Joel Meyerowitz is published by Laurence King (£14.99). To order a copy go to guardianbookshop.com. Free UK p&p on orders over £15

  • Nick Waplington’s new book, Anaglypta, 1980-2020, is out this month (jesusblue.co.uk)

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The best sustainably packaged skincare | Beauty

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Refillable skincare packaging seems like a no-brainer, but the practical challenges are numerous. Shower gels and the like are straightforward, but in serums and face creams, active ingredients must be well protected to avoid contamination, and remain stable and effective. Pump dispensers are used routinely to maintain an airless product environment, but their indivisible mixed materials (a metal spring inside a plastic tube) are precisely what prevents recycling. So I appreciate the efforts of the brands focused on an urgently needed solution.

A fast favourite is Medik8’s terrific Press & Glow (£25 for 200ml), a poly-hydroxy acid skin tonic that deflakes skin after cleansing, without the stinging many fear in acid exfoliants. It has one of those clever pumps you get in nail salons, where a cotton pad (buy reusable ones cheaply online) is pressed on to the lid to be saturated in liquid. Here, you buy the lid only once, then screw it on to your next (recyclable) bottle. The company says this can be done at least five times; unless you plan to reverse over your lid in a lorry, you could probably double its estimate.

Origins’ new Ginzing Into The Glow (£39 for 30ml), is a lovely entry-point brightening serum for younger, oilier skin types. It kills several birds with one stone, offering vitamin C for glow and antioxidant protection, hyaluronic acid for hydration and fruit acids to exfoliate, brighten and address pores. The glass bottle is recyclable, while the plastic pump rolls into the next refill; just peel off the aluminium seal and screw in.

Creams can be trickier, as standard pumps are too thin – imagine trying to coax a McDonald’s milkshake up a skinny straw – but “farm-to-face” sustainable beauty guru Tata Harper has an ingenious solution. Her Water-Lock Moisturizer (£59 for 50ml) – very nice if your skin is combination in places, dehydrated in others – has outer packaging you buy once, the simply snap in a new pod of product (£54) whenever you run out.

My gripe with most of these otherwise wonderful initiatives is that they’re mostly confined to skincare aimed at Gen Z, according to the fallacy that only young people care about the planet. This is true of the refillable system adopted by Rihanna’s Fenty Skin, launched last month. It sounds promising, but at the time of writing, one could sooner get a peek at the pope’s diary.


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Tom Brown’s retro fish suppers – recipes | Food

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Hake kiev with wild mushroom butter and truffle hollandaise

Prep 10 min
Chill 1 hr+
Cook 40 min
Serves 4

4 x 120g hake fillets, skinned
100g plain flour
1 egg
, beaten
100g panko breadcrumbs
Neutral oil
, for deep frying

For the mushroom butter
1 handful small fresh wild mushrooms (chanterelles, girolles, shimeji, etc)
125g unsalted butter
15g toasted pinenuts
20g grated parmesan
1 garlic clove
, peeled and finely crushed
½ tbsp dried porcini
, ground to a powder
½ tsp table salt

For the hollandaise (optional)
3 egg yolks
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp white-wine vinegar
300ml light olive oil
3-4 tbsp truffle oil
½ lemon
, juiced

First, make the mushroom butter. Fry the fresh mushrooms in a little of the butter until soft and lightly golden, then leave to cool. Meanwhile, in a food processor, blend the pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, porcini powder, salt and the rest of the butter until smooth. Stir in the cooled mushrooms and set aside.

Now for the fish. Cut each hake fillet three-quarters of the way through horizontally, then open it out like a book. Spoon a quarter of the butter mix on to each butterflied piece of fish, then fold the fish back over it to seal in the butter. Wrap tightly, then put in the fridge to set for at least an hour (and up to overnight).

Put the flour, beaten egg and panko breadcrumbs on three separate plates. Unwrap the fish portions one by one and dredge first through the flour, then through the beaten egg and finally through the panko. Repeat the egg and panko coatings, to “double crumb” the fish, to ensure the butter won’t leak out while its cooking.

Now make the hollandaise (this will make more than you need here, but that’s no great hardship – keep any excess in the fridge for another use). Mix the egg yolks, mustard, vinegar, a tablespoon of cold water and a good pinch of sea salt in a metal bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and whisk constantly until the mix is light, fluffy and full of air (you should be able to trace a figure of eight on it that holds its shape). Off the heat, and still whisking, slowly dribble in the olive and truffle oils until you have a glossy, emulsified sauce. Add the lemon juice, then set aside somewhere a little warmer than room temperature (if you want to be really flash, and can afford it, grate some fresh black truffle into the hollandaise, too, to up the truffle factor).

Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer to 180C and the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. Fry the kievs in the hot oil for two to three minutes, until golden brown and crisp all over, then transfer to an oven tray and bake for three to four minutes, until cooked through. Serve hot with a large spoonful of the hollandaise.

Fish sausage roll

Prep 10 min
Chill 30 min
Cook 35 min
Makes 4

1 x 320g sheet ready-rolled puff pastry, cut in half to make 2 equal squares
Plain flour
, for dusting
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
1 pinch sea salt

For the filling
200g salmon belly
250g white fish fillets
(cod, hake or bream)
½ white onion, grated
½ tbsp salt
1 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp ground fennel seeds
2 tbsp (8g) chopped flat-leaf parsley

Chill a food processor bowl in the fridge or freezer, then separately blend both the salmon and the white fish to smooth pastes. Combine the fish in a bowl with all the other filling ingredients, then refrigerate.

Whisk the whole egg and extra yolk in a small bowl. Lay one puff pastry square on a lightly floured surface, then arrange a log of the fish mix along one edge of the pastry. Egg wash the exposed pastry, then roll up into a sausage, neatly enclosing the filling. Cut the roll in half, then fold in the pastry ends, to enclose the filling, or trim both ends to leave it exposed. Lay the rolls seam side down on a lined oven tray and lightly score the tops with a knife. Repeat with the remaining pastry and filling. Brush the rolls all over with egg wash, then chill for 30 minutes, to set.

Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. Egg wash the rolls again, scatter over the sesame seeds and sea salt, and bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown and the exposed filling, if any, is hot to the touch. Serve with brown sauce, which in my book is not optional.

Prawn cocktail crumpet

Prep 10 min
Cook 20 min
Serves 4

For the cocktail sauce
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
5 tbsp tomato ketchup
Tabasco, to taste
2 pinches smoked paprika
½ tsp paprika
1 tbsp double cream
4 tbsp mayonnaise
, homemade or bought in
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper

For the prawns
1 squeeze lemon juice
1 glug vinegar
16 raw, fresh tiger prawns
2 tbsp chopped chives

For the fried shrimps (optional)
50g brown shrimps
Plain flour
, for dusting
Neutral oil, for frying
1 pinch cayenne pepper, to finish
1 pinch grated lemon zest, to finish

To finish
4 crumpets (bought in or homemade)
Butter, for spreading
A few frisee leaves, washed and separated
A few endive leaves, washed, trimmed, separated and shredded
1 tbsp olive oil
1 squeeze lemon juice
Put all the cocktail sauce ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine – you may not need all the cream, just enough to loosen the mix into a thickish sauce. Season to taste and refrigerate until needed.

Bring a large pan of water to a boil, adding a squeeze of lemon and a glug of vinegar, and have ready a bowl of iced water. Drop the prawns into the boiling acidulated water, cook until they rise to the surface, then remove with a slotted spoon and chill in the iced water.

Peel the cooled prawns, remove and discard the “vein” running along their backs, then dry on a clean tea towel. Dice up 12 of the prawns, put these in a bowl with the four remaining whole prawns, then add the cocktail sauce and toss to coat. Season to taste, then stir in the chives.

Toast and butter the crumpets. Top each crumpet with the chopped dressed prawnsand level out the top; you may find it easier to use food rings to keep things really neat.

Toss the brown shrimps, if using, in flour. Heat the oil in a small frying pan and shallow fry the shrimps for 45 seconds to a minute, until crisp. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen towel, to drain off the excess oil, then season with lemon zest, cayenne and salt.

In a small bowl, dress the lettuce with olive oil, salt and a squeeze of lemon. Place a layer of crisp shrimps on top of the prawn mix on the crumpets, then lift off the rings, if using. Top each crumpet with a whole prawn, arranging it on one side of the crumpet, so it follows the crumpet’s curve, pile a small mound of the salad on the other side, and serve at once.

Tom Brown is chef/owner of Cornerstone, London E9.


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30 UK holiday cottages to book now for summer 2021 | Summer holidays

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SOUTH-WEST

Deepdean the Cockerel, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

Visitors staying in this converted 17th-century barn may spot some unusual other guests in the grounds, including zebras, meerkats and alpacas. The owner runs a private animal sanctuary, and the income from the holiday lets (there are also two one-bedroom cottages) is invested in the animals. Another highlight is the shared outdoor pool, heated in July and August. The barn has whitewashed walls, kitchen-diner and mezzanine lounge, and two en suite doubles. It is set in nearly 25 hectares of gardens and woodland three miles from Ross-on-Wye.
Sleeps 4, from £1,031 a week in summer holidays, holidaycottages.co.uk

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Booking a cottage: Covid cancellation policies and insurance

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Booking a self-catering holiday during Covid: what you need to know

The majority of UK self-catering providers have flexible booking policies that will offer a refund, a voucher or a change of date if the holiday cannot go ahead because of government restrictions.

Platforms and directories such as Airbnb, Host Unusual or Sawdays do not have their own policies; customers must check with individual properties. Some sites make it easy to find places with flexible terms. Premier has a “Covid guarantee” collection of 500 properties. Airbnb has a filter allowing users to search for properties offering “flexible or moderate cancellation terms”.

Companies such as Canopy & Starsholidaycottages.co.ukQuality Cottages and Crabtree & Crabtree, as well as the National Trust, have their own policies, which customers should read carefully.

Some only apply to holidays taken before a specific date, after which normal terms and conditions apply.

While flexible policies cover cancellations due to restrictions or other legal requirements, most do not cover cancellations by guests who have contracted Covid or have to self-isolate. These are now “known risks”, and it’s advisable to take out insurance against them.

Holidaycottages.co.uk offers insurance, and Quality Cottages is about to follow suit. Comparison website Medical Travel Compared offers quotes with enhanced Covid cover, including cancellation. It lists 22 companies offering such cover, usually within 14 days of the trip and following a positive test.

Self-catering prices are expected to rise once lockdown lifts. “By early April, owners will be charging premium prices,” said Alistair Handyside of the Professional Association of Self-Caterers. “There will be the same insane price inflation we saw on 4 July last year.”

In short

• If the website doesn’t have its own policy, check with the individual property.

• Read the terms and conditions to establish exactly what scenarios are covered, and any cut-off dates.

• Take out insurance to cover for cancellation due to contracting Covid or having to self-isolate.

The Barn in Lanhydrock, Cornwall

The Barn in Lanhydrock interior

Formerly part of the Lanyhdrock Estate, this single-storey barn is now a holiday home with National Trust parkland and gardens on its doorstep. The living/dining/kitchen area has beams, exposed stone, a woodburner and a range cooker; and two of the three bedrooms are en suite. The barn is just south of Bodmin in central Cornwall, equidistant from the north and south coasts – it is less than half an hour’s drive north to the beach at Padstow or south to Charlestown Harbour. Closer to home, Cardinham Woods is about five miles away, and has walking and cycling trails.
Sleeps 6, from £1,210 a week in summer, luxurycoastal.co.uk

Boathouse Cottage, Kingsbridge estuary, Devon

Boathouse Cottage exterior

The waterside setting is the star of this cottage in Frogmore, in the South Hams. Its lovely three-tier garden runs down to a private shore-side terrace by Frogmore Creek, an inlet of the Kingsbridge estuary. Inside, there is a sitting room with woodburner, a kitchen and dining room with doors on to the garden, three bedrooms (double, twin and bunk) and a bath/shower room. Frogmore village has a pub and bakery, and is three miles from the nearest beach, four from Slapton Ley nature reserve and six miles from the cliff walks around Start Point. Salcombe and Dartmouth are each about a half-hour drive away.
Sleeps 6, £1,293 a week in summer holidays, simplyseaviews.co.uk

Oak House, Yetminster, Dorset

Oak House holiday cottage

The perfect retreat for history buffs. This Grade II-listed three-bedroom house is one of the oldest in the limestone village of Yetminster. A panel above the door is inscribed with the date it was built: 1607. Inside it’s spacious and filled with paintings, books and antique furniture, and there’s a good-sized enclosed garden. A 15-minute drive away, Sherborne’s history can be explored at its Abbey and two castles, the 12th-century ruins and a “new” one built by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1594. Also nearby are the Cerne Abbas chalk giant, and Mapperton House and Gardens. Coastal gems such as West Bay (Broadchurch) and Lyme Regis are under an hour’s drive.
Sleeps 6, £1,924 for seven nights in summer, classic.co.uk

NORTH AND NORTH-WEST

Hinterlandes Cabin

Hinterlandes Cabin, Lake District

Hidden away in a woodland glade in the Lorton valley in the western Lakes, this Scandi-sleek black timber cabin with wood-fired tin bath surrounded by ferns, feels fresh for the Lakes. There’s no phone signal, thank heavens, but there are board games, an iPad loaded with music and films, a fire pit and the countless trails and wild swimming spots of one of the finest parts of the Lakes right outside. It’s also only two miles from renowned hikers’ pub the Kirkstile Inn. Food hampers and bike hire can be arranged, and the owners also have a revamped bus to stay in.
Sleeps 4 (2 adults, 2 children), £1,139 a week in school summer holidays, canopyandstars.co.uk


Weathercock Holiday Cottage, Sedbergh, Yorkshire Dales

hot tub outside cottage

Once home to the butler of Ingmire Hall Estate, which is just across the field, this 17th-century cottage now belongs to a nearby farm and is let to walkers who come for the knockout scenery of the Howgill Fells, between the Lakes and the Yorkshire Dales. The 80-mile Dales Way is a five-minute trot from this cosy hideaway, which stands next to a mid-Victorian stone chapel with bellcote. The bathroom may be the most enticing room in the house, with woodburner, roll-top bath, landscape mural and exposed stone walls, though the outdoor hot tub, games room (with dartboard) and secluded garden are also nifty.
Sleeps 7, £1,349 a week in summer holidays, weathercockholidaycottage.co.uk


Seldom Seen, Lake District

SeldomSeen dining/living area

Seldom Seen’s location has to be seen to be believed: its leafy garden, where red squirrels play, tumbles down towards Ullswater, and there are paths up Helvellyn, Glenridding Dodd and Great Dodd, with Ambleside and Windermere just over the Kirkstone Pass. This traditional stone terraced miner’s cottage with exposed beams, woodburner and flagstone floors lies at the end of a single track lane, close to the village of Glenridding, a hiking hotspot. A double and a bunk room make it a good option for families, though little ones may struggle with the steep ladder-style stairs.
Sleeps 4, from £817 in summer holidays, sykescottages.co.uk

Hedgerow Luxury Glamping, Ribble valley, Lancashire

Hedgrow Luxury Glamping pod exterior

Torn between the Lakes and the Dales? The Ribble valley to the south is within driving distance of both and near the also-tempting Forest of Bowland. Lots of joyful little extra touches bring a sense of fun to these three glamping pods: hot tubs with inflatable trays for your bottle of fizz; tub-side bar table and stools; outdoor fairy lights and bunting; and a stargazing window above the bed. The kitchen has a coffee machine, woodburner, slow cooker and hob, and guests can order in breakfast, barbecue and campfire kits.
Sleeps 2 (over-18s only), from £680 a week, coolcamping.com

West Cottage, Swaledale, Yorkshire Dales

West Cottage garden with view

It’s the views that make West Cottage a winner: the purple heather and fielded flanks of the Dales, dotted with stone cottages and sheep, can be admired over a local ale from its grassy garden, enclosed by a drystone wall. Inside this Grade-II pad, part of a barn renovation, are smart simple rooms with white linens and the occasional vibrant textile, plus an inglenook fireplace with woodburner. Swaledale is the loveliest of dales, fantastic for walking, running and river dips, and handy for visits to Crackpot Cave, the sweet village of Gunnerside and the pubs and tearooms of Reeth.
Sleeps 5, from £845 a week in summer holidays, yorkshire-cottages.info

NORTH-EAST

North Farm, Teesside, County Durham

North Farm bedroom

The Teesside retreat of star interior designer Rita Konig – known for her refined-but-maximalist use of colour and pattern offset by perfectly chosen antiques and art – is newly available as a holiday rental. While you might expect to find a top designer’s pad in Somerset or the Cotswolds, she opted for this lesser-known but wonderful area, whose draws include High Force waterfall, hikes into the show-stopping North Pennines, newly revamped Auckland Castle and the now infamous Barnard Castle (and who doesn’t want to get a selfie there?). Most will come, though, for Konig’s genius: patterned wallpapers and incredible textiles, artful arrangements of vintage furniture, antique glassware and kilims… It’s a treasure trove for design lovers.
Sleeps 14, from £4,200-£5,600 a week in July and August, northfarmdurham.com

Windley, Bamburgh, Northumberland

Windley  SITTING ROOM

Bamburgh Castle Estate has added several new holiday properties, including Windley, a 1950s house brought to life with retro-tinged decor – geometric prints and fabrics, angular lamps and rooms painted rich hues of teal, rust and dark green. Two doors up, the RNLI Grace Darling Museum tells the story of a brave local woman who rowed out to rescue sailors from a wrecked steamer. Visits to Lindisfarne and walking the endless white sands of local beaches can be supplemented with kitesurfing and surfing at Beadnell Bay and mountain biking in Northumberland national park.
Sleeps 4, £1,485 a week in summer holidays, crabtreeandcrabtree.com

Doxford Cottages, Alnwick, Northumberland

doxford cottages exterior

All the highlights of Northumberland are on the doorstep of Doxford Cottages, from the inventive Alnwick Gardens to the beaches and seaside towns of Craster, Embleton and Seahouses. Nine comfortable cottages of different sizes sit on a 1,000-hectare private estate, and while their interiors won’t make Elle Decor, they are cosy and comfortable, with flagged sun terraces and lawns leading to a wooded glade on the fringe of the estate’s lake. The most recent addition is the Doxford Dairy, with its own grounds.
Cottages sleep two to eight. Doxford Dairy Sleeps 6, £2,070 a week in summer holidays; premiercottages.co.uk

EAST AND SOUTH-EAST

The Space at Milestone House, Norfolk

Grey and wood living area and kitchen

Inspired by Scandinavian design and modernism, the chic, sleek Milestone House, with tea-coloured plywood walls and a handmade kitchen, feels like somewhere a Swedish Don Draper would go to get his hygge. Mid-century furniture and ceramics, and lots of cocooning wood create a warm and utterly stylish haven. Guests can relax in the adjoining meadows and orchard, go birdwatching on the salt marshes, potter round the cool cafes and independent shops of Wells-next-the-Sea or Burnham Market, and relish the space and skies of the north Norfolk beaches.
Sleeps 4, £1,300 a week in summer, norfolkmilestone.co.uk/the-space

Apple Tree Cottage, Suffolk

Apple Tree Cottage exterior

The prettiest daisy-flecked lawn, colourful flower beds, a tiny dining room with low, beamed ceilings, a bushily thatched roof … Apple Tree Cottage is the sort of fairytale home where you might expect to find a family of fully-dressed hedgehogs in residence. Dating from the 16th century, the welcoming single-storey cottage is well-placed for exploring the picturesque medieval wool towns of Lavenham, Clare and Long Melford. There’s a timber summerhouse in the garden, which borders open countryside.
Sleeps 4 (best for a family as it’s a little small for 4 adults), from £652 a week in summer holidays, suffolkcottageholidays.com

Black Robin Farm Cottages, Beachy Head, East Sussex

Black Robin Farm back garden sunset

Staking a claim as the only self-catering accommodation at Beachy Head, these newly refurbished cottages sit in a peaceful spot in the South Downs national park land above the UK’s highest chalk cliffs. They make a brilliant base for those wanting to tackle the South Downs Way and the walking trails of the Seven Sisters coast. Two simple cottages (each with one double and one twin bedroom) have a kitchen, office (with extra double pull-out sofabed), board games and William Morris textiles, plus gardens overlooking the South Downs, with views to Eastbourne and Hastings. They are minutes from lovely beaches with shallow waters for swimming and paddling, such as those at Birling Gap, and a secret spot at Cow Gap where you can walk to the lighthouse at low tide.
Sleeps 4, £170 a night in summer holidays (two night minimum), visiteastbourne.com

Sunray, Dungeness, Kent

sunray cottage exterior with beach

It takes a certain sort of person to enjoy Dungeness – to spend days wandering across the shingle and saltmarsh, visiting Derek Jarman’s Garden, nibbling lobster rolls from Dungeness Snack Shack, snooping around the architectural curiosities and designer beach houses scattered like driftwood along the shore and Instagramming the power station in eerie moonlight. Those who appreciate such things will enjoy Sunray, a cabin-like single-storey pad built around one of the old railway carriages that were discarded here in the 1920s. Sunray’s airy rooms are wood-panelled and full of mid-century furniture, with doors on to a wooden terrace right by the beach.
• Sleeps 6, a week costs £1,915 in summer, cottages.com

THE MIDLANDS

The Arbour, Whitney on Wye, Herefordshire

the arbour exterior, evening

The owners bought this former chicken farm in 2018 and have since been restoring the ancient orchards and hedgerows, and rewilding the land. They have also built two holiday cabins, 30 metres apart in the same orchard, each with a kingsize bed, woodburner, simple kitchen and en suite facilities. The cabins have picture windows framing the hillside view, plus a veranda and firepit each. The site is on the 150-mile Herefordshire Trail and a mile from Offa’s Dyke Path; the River Wye is a short walk away for canoeing; and Hay-on-Wye is an easy cycle ride away. Birdwatching can be done right from the sofa: regular visitors include buzzards, red kites and a sparrowhawk. There are two pubs within a mile’s walk although it’s uphill on the way back.
Each cabin sleeps 2 (not suitable for children), 2 nights from £255 in May/June and £285 in summer, canopyandstars.co.uk

Garden Cottage, Wootton, Staffordshire

Garden Cottage, Wootton, Staffordshire

Wootton Hall – where philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau lived for a time in 1766 – was demolished in the 1930s, but its former pump house remains. This is now Garden Cottage, a three-bedroom stone holiday home surrounded by trees in the grounds of the estate. There is a sitting room with log fire, a country kitchen and separate dining room, and a garden with terrace and barbecue. Wootton is close to the Peak District and attractions such as Thor’s Cave and the Manifold Way (an eight-mile walking or cycling route); lesser-known places to visit include the Weaver Hills and the remains of Croxden Abbey. The estate’s restored woodland gardens are right on the doorstep and the Duncombe Arms pub, owned by the same people as the cottage, is just up the road.
Sleeps 6, 3 nights £600, 7 nights £1,200 from May-8 September, duncombearms.co.uk

The Nut House and Leverets, near Ludlow, Shropshire

The sitting room in the Nut House
The sitting room in the Nut House

These two wooden lodges are in the grounds of the owners’ smallholding, a mile from the foodie market town of Ludlow. Both are recently built but have a cosy cottage feel. Each as an open-plan kitchen/diner/lounge with woodburner, one double and one twin bedroom and veranda. The garden is visited by lots of birds, squirrels and rabbits (hence the names). There are walks right from the hamlet, Ledwyche, or longer treks in the Shropshire Hills to viewpoints such as the Stiperstones, Long Mynd or the Clee Hills. The nearest pub and shop is a 15-minute stroll away.
Each lodge sleeps 4, 7 nights from £949 in summer holidays, sheepskinlife.com

The Hen House and Hop Pickers’ House, Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire

The kitchen in Hop Pickers’ House
The kitchen in Hop Pickers’ House

Brook Farm, just outside Tenbury Wells, has two lovely cottages for two surrounded by gardens, meadow and woodland. Hop Pickers’ House is a refurbishment of the old travelling hop pickers’ barn accommodation. Downstairs is an open-plan living room/kitchen/diner with woodburner, and upstairs is a bedroom with a four-poster and a bathroom with a rolltop bath. The Hen House, part of the old stables and granary, is all on one level, and has a private garden with steps leading up to a sunset view. Tenbury Wells, known as “the town in the orchard”, is a good place to sample the local cider; and the Teme valley has lots of walking trails.
Each cottage sleeps 2, Hen House from £180 for 2 nights, Hop Pickers’ from £265, furtherafield.com

Wales

Old Oak Barn, near Laugharne, Carmarthenshire

Old Oak Barn exgterior

This family-friendly barn conversion is on a 30-hectare farm near Laugharne. There are lots of children’s books, games and toys, plus swings in the garden; and kids can collect eggs from the farm’s free-range chickens and play in the adjacent private wood, home to 50 species of bird. The barn has a large living room, kitchen, one double bedroom and a twin (a cot or camp bed can also be provided). There are french doors on to the patio and garden, which has a barbecue and chiminea. If children tire of the woods, the Gwili steam railway is nearby, and it is half an hour’s drive to the beach – guests can borrow buckets and spades, fishing nets and boogie boards.
Sleeps 5, £850 a week in summer holidays, oneoffplaces.co.uk

Mountain Cottage, Llithfaen, Llŷn peninsula

cottage on hillside with sea beyond

Reached down a farm track nearly 300 metres up a mountain, this remote cottage was rebuilt from a ruin and retains its uneven stone walls and original shutters. It now has a double-storey, open-plan living area with beams and a huge inglenook fireplace, a kitchen with a Rayburn, and two bedrooms (one with an extra single bed) with great views of Snowdonia and Cardigan Bay. There is also a big garden with a swimming pond. Being on the Llŷn peninsula, it’s handy for a choice of coastal and hill walks, and Snowdonia is a 20-minute drive away. There is a pub in Llithfaen, and Pwllheli is the nearest town.
Sleeps 5, £1,300 a week in summer holidays, sawdays.co.uk

Cargo Cabin at Trelan Farm, Cilcain, Flintshire

Trelan Farm cabin

A shipping container has been converted into this cosy cabin for two on a north Wales farm. The corner sofa turns into a double bed, and there is a compact kitchen and dual-aspect windows for country views. Outside is a terrace with seating and a barbecue and, best of all, an outdoor bath. The farm is in the foothills of the Clwydian rangea rea of outstanding natural beauty, and a half-hour drive from the north Wales coast and Chester. A second, larger cabin will be ready by March, built on a reclaimed wagon chassis – and also featuring an alfresco bath.
Sleeps 2 (2-night minimum), from £122 a night in May/June and £135 in summer holidays, trelanfarm.co.uk

Tŷ Jac, Porthgain, Pembrokeshire

Porthgain harbour with arrow pointing to Ty Jac

Moments from the tiny harbour of Porthgain, this former fisherman’s cottage is an ideal spot for active families. The coastal path runs through Porthgain, and it’s a four-mile walk to popular coasteering spot Aberreidy and its blue lagoon, a former slate quarry. For a break from self-catering, the Shed bistro, with an à la carte menu and takeaway fish and chips and seafood, and the 270-year-old Sloop Inn (high-end pub grub) are minutes from the house. The 404 Strumble Shuttle coastal bus service connects Porthgain with St Davids and Fishguard.
Sleeps 6, £1,915 a week in summer holidays, underthethatch.co.uk

SCOTLAND

Woodland Cottages, Cairngorms

BACK GARDEN WITH TREES AND SWING

After a day romping over the heathers and up the crags of the Cairngorms, a cosy nook to hunker down in with a book and a dram is imperative. Two new Woodland Cottages on the Dell of Abernathy forested estate in the Cairngorms national park fit the bill and are typical of a new generation of smart Highlands stays, pairing contemporary design and luxuries with wilderness. Fireplaces with woodburners and piles of logs, plenty of candles, records and games, and stylish interiors bring the atmosphere; the on-site grocery store has ready meals and meal kits, plus bikes to hire. Children can roam the large grounds (where there are several other holiday properties) and discover the woodland zipline or look out for pine martens and red deer– the BBC’s Springwatch filmed here recently.
Sleeps 6, £1,540 a week in summer holidays, plus website membership (£10 a year or £1.99 a month), kiphideaways.com

The Bothy, Glen Dye, Aberdeenshire

OUTDOOR bath Glen Dye

All the best holiday homes these days have an outdoor bath, and The Bothy, one of the latest additions to the cool Glen Dye estate’s collection of six cabins and cottages, is no shirker. The Swedish wood-fired hot tub isn’t the only natty touch at this dinky two-person beaut: a record player and vinyl, a Big Green Egg barbecue and Margaret Howell lights raise the style game. Shared extras include a wood-fired sauna, a garden produce store and a tiny BYOB “pub” with roaring fire in the old stone sawmill. It sits amid 12,000 hectares of wilderness and moorland beside the River Dye, and for those who want to venture further, there’s walking, running, fishing, swimming and castle-visiting in the surrounding area.
Sleeps 2, from £1,045 a week or £785 for 3 nights, glendyecabinsandcottages.com

Newhall Mains, near Inverness

Living area with stove

Mustard walls with copper antiques and hot pink flowers, orange lampshades and vintage floral headboards against F&B blue backgrounds … Colour clashes give the contemporary interiors of the just-launched Newhall Mains cottages and suites a substantial dollop of pizazz. After three years of work, this revamped farm estate has five holiday cottages, with underfloor heating, smart kitchens and woodburners (plus four double bedroom suites in the main house) that can be booked individually or as one property accommodating 28 people. On the Black Isle peninsula, 30 minutes’ drive north of Inverness, Newhall Mains is handy for the NC500 road trip route, dolphin spotting on the Moray Firth, whisky tasting at Glenmorangie and the seafood restaurants of Cromarty.
Cottages sleep 2-6 to six, 4-berths from £1,680 a week in summer holidays. Suites for 2 are £130 a night, newhall-mains.com

Eastwood House, Dunkeld, Perthshire

eastwood house by river

This pink Victorian villa sits in glorious surroundings on the banks of the River Tay, and is usually available for parties of 20, though has been pared back to cater for smaller groups for the first part of this year at least. Smaller parties can also book the newly refurbished three-bedroom Gardeners Cottage in the grounds, with mossy green timber panelling, sitting room with woodburner, shelves of books, vintage furniture and views over the river and to Birnam Hill. Nearby Dunkeld is considered a gateway to the Highlands, and has lovely independent businesses and (in normal times) a thriving arts and music scene.
Sleeps 6, from £800 a week or £560 for 3 nights in summer holidays, eastwoodhousedunkeld.com

Northern Ireland

The Bakers Cottages, near Seaforde, County Down

Patio with firepit, evening

A former bakery in the Down countryside has been converted into a stylish three-bedroom cottage with luxurious touches such as a rolltop bath. The various outbuildings have also been repurposed: one is now the hot tub house, with a six-seater tub and a sitting area with a woodburner. Sliding doors lead to an outdoor dining area. The grounds also have a wildflower garden, a covered barbecue area, a firepit, play equipment and a restored well. It is a 10-minute drive to the foot of the Mourne mountains and 15 minutes to Murlough and Tyrella beaches, which are both nature reserves. The bright lights of Belfast are half an hour away.
Sleeps 6, from £1,000 a week in summer holidays, thebakerscottages.co.uk

Magherintemple Lodge, Ballycastle, County Antrim

Magherintemple- lodge exterior

The Irish Landmark Trust has refurbished this gatehouse to Georgian Magherintemple House. Built in 1874 in the Scottish baronial style, the lodge now has one double bedroom and another with bunkbeds (for under-12s), a cosy sitting room with open fire, a large kitchen/diner, a hidden reading nook at the top of the house and a garden backed by fields and woodland. Just outside the seaside town of Ballycastle, the lodge is a five-minute drive (or easy cycle ride) to the beach, and close to lots of North Antrim’s attractions, such as the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, the Giant’s Causeway and the Bushmills whiskey distillery.
Sleeps 2 adults and 2 children, £870 a week, £408 for 3 nights in summer holidays, irishlandmark.com


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