The Panel: Your 2017 Bucket List?
Lucy Stevens OV Naturals
In January/February I’m heading north to the Somerset Levels to chase a murmuration. Every year, starlings flock and sweep across the sky here, creating an awe-inspiring visual display. It’s an absolute must-see. As with any wildlife spotting, the starlings can be elusive – incongruously, I’ve seen them put on a fantastic display over a car park in Yeovil, but I’d love to see them close-up over the levels surrounded by sky & landscape. There’s a starling hotline, so I’ll be on it.Come the Spring, I’m aiming to complete the Somerset 100, an annual charity cycling event around the Glastonbury area. Being outdoors in this beautiful and remote area for a day is so good for the soul. It’s non-competitive too, so it’s perfectly acceptable to potter along in your own time & that suits me fine.Between January & May I’ll visit the Elisabeth Frink Exhibition in Bruton, at Hauser & Wirth (also in Zurich, London, New York & LA). Living in the countryside, I sometimes yearn for a slice of urban life, so I’ll get that here. Inevitably at some point, Cornwall will be calling. The sea, the coastal pathways, the light… Bedruthen hotel & spa is on my radar for 2017. I was lucky enough to stay at the Scarlet, their sister hotel, a few years ago & I still swoon just thinking about it - sitting in a wood-fired hot tub, late afternoon, with a seaweed soak & a glass of bubbles, looking out at the sea – you can’t beat that. Being an aromatherapist, I do love a bit of spa indulgence. I call it research!
Steven Lamb, River Cottage
The first thing I want to do in the new year is visit an old friend and colleague of mine who actually just lives down the road. Not much of a ground breaking, ambitious goal on a bucket list you might think but he’s not just anyone. Mark Diacono is owner, proprietor and visionary behind Otter Farm in Honiton which is a beautiful location he has painstakingly set up to enjoy everything good about food. Mark is a true renaissance man – award winning writer, photographer, grower, cook, comedian, raconteur, collector of bass guitars and passionate advocate of using his extensive knowledge to help others achieve a happier existence. However, he never buys breakfast when it is his turn. That one terrible flaw in his genetic make-up cannot detract away from the fact that he is a leader in his varied field. I admire Mark a lot, his journey has been colourful and at times not at all easy but he has a positive energy that means in his presence, you just feel everything is going to be not just OK but extraordinary. Mark has turned Otter Farm, a place he discovered when randomly looking at buying a house and came across a terraced property that magically had 17 acres of back garden attached, into a foodie destination. So respected is Mark that he has the cream of the growing and food media world to call upon to teach at his farm, whether it is writing about food, growing veg, cooking courses or designing a life or garden to engage in total enjoyment. Another quality that Mark has is that he is open about the mistakes he has made on the way and how he allows those mistakes to inform his story telling. The ethos behind Otter Farm is about celebrating the journey from plot to plate with a smile on your face but he draws on so many wide cultural influences that it is hard not to believe that he is the hub of all knowledge. What you learn from Mark, no matter what course or event you attend, is to engage in life and he uses Otter Farm as a conduit to do just that.
Alex Edwards, founder Natural High
You’ve probably driven past The Hawk Conservancy at Weyhill (just off the A303). If you’ve never stopped you should make a point of doing so.
To catch a glimpse of a wild raptor in flight is exhilarating, but to watch an extended flying display involving numerous species is a rare and captivating experience. On selected Saturday evenings in Spring and Autumn of 2017 the Hawk Conservancy is holding special Owl By Moonlight evenings. These evenings allow visitors to witness the stealth and agility of owls in flight…all just above your head.
Freddie Saul, CEO Kilver Court Designer Village
Hiking in Cheddar Gorge - with a helmet!
Mushroom foraging on Exemor - with an expert!!
Spear fishing Dorset Coast
Kite surfing in North Devon
Dine my way through the top 5 pubs in the Trenchermans guide -
Katy Theakston founder The Owl and the Apothecary
A wild Spring ride on Exmoor on a beautiful Clydesdale horse
A long leisurely Summer lunch with family at Hix Oyster & Fish House
A boozy Autumn birthday supper at Brassica with friends
The Christmas Market in Bath to really get into the festive mood
A blissful night away from baby & business at The Pig at Combe - I will take this anytime!