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From vets on Zoom to holiday house swaps, we predict the trends for the year ahead
Whilst the beginning of each year can often feel a little daunting, the Country Living Team have compiled a list of reasons to be cheerful about 2023. Read on for a New Year pick-me-up…
You’ve read all about it. Now you can see rewilding in action at Dundreggan, the world’s first rewilding visitor centre, opening in March. The charity Trees for Life is restoring part of the ancient Caledonian Forest on a 10,000-acre former deer-stalking estate in the Highlands. Live further south? The Wilder Blean project, where bison were introduced last year, continues at pace, with conservationists now managing land to prepare for English Longhorn cattle, Exmoor ponies and Iron Age pigs.
Fancy a lie-down? The RHS and The Wildlife Trusts are urging us to get up close and personal with our lawns by lying in the grass and marvelling at what we find. Their Wild About Gardens campaign, launching in March, will urge everyone to “bring your lawn to life”, showing how a lawn can provide a home for a diverse ecosystem and fight climate change. Expect plenty of tips, including advice on how different mowing patterns allow different species to flourish.
Thanks to community groups, citizen scientists and charities such as Surfers against Sewage (SAS), dumping raw sewage into our rivers and coastal waters has become a front-page issue. The Government’s Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan doesn’t go far enough, say campaigners, who are now encouraging local groups to seek Bathing Water status for their favourite inland wild-swimming spots. See SAS for a free toolkit to get started.
The breakfast nook is the latest kitchen must-have that nods to our design past (see also pantries, pan rails and under-counter curtains). It dates from between the wars when families started to relax more in the kitchen and is part of the new trend for making our kitchens more like living rooms. Accessorise with comfy chairs, fresh coffee, and homemade cake.
Move over Airbnb. Home-swapping is set for a boost this year as more than a third of us economise on holidays and seek authentic experiences. Love Home Swap, a members’ group, has seen bookings shoot up recently, and managing director Celia Pronto is confident the market will continue to rise. Meanwhile, pet-sitting and house-sitting website Trusted House Sitter has doubled its membership since Covid, with listings ranging from smallholdings with llamas to homes that need sitters for houseplants.
First, it was hyper-local food. Now it’s hyper-local fashion with heritage breeds. Brands from Toast to Oubas are championing clothes made from British wool, spun and knitted in the UK, while Navygrey proclaims on its website how far its Bluefaced Leicester wool has travelled for its Great British Jumpers: 200 miles from sheep (in north-west England) to sweater (knitted in Scotland). Katie Allen of Loopy Ewes makes knitwear with wool from her own rare-breed flock in the Cotswolds.
Get out your moodboard. Warm, comforting tones form the palette of 2023, with Dulux plumping for Golden Wonder as its colour of the year, Benjamin Moore offering Raspberry Blush, a bright coral tinged with pink, and trend forecaster WGSN going for an electric Digital Lavender.
To some, he’s Ranger Hamza on CBeebies and Chanel 4. To others, he was a dazzling dancer who won Strictly. This August, wildlife cameraman Hamza Yassin brings out Go Birding (Gaia, £16.99), an uplifting book opening up birdwatching to all. Earlier in the summer sees the paperback publication of Flock Together: Outsiders (Gaia, £8.99) by Nadeem Perera and Ollie Olanipekun, who run birdwatching walks for people of colour. For birdwatching and drawing tips, don’t miss Painting Birds with Jim and Nancy Moir, a new series on Sky Arts, Freeview and NOW.
If you’ve ever tried to persuade your pet to pose for a photo or sit still on the scales, you may raise an eyebrow at the thought of putting them on a video call. But virtual vets’ appointments could be the next big thing now that US pet telehealth company Vetster has launched in the UK. Vetster connects owners with UK vets by video, voice or online chat. Now, where’s the dog and bone?
The People’s Plan for Nature moves into the big-reveal stage in March, when the final version is published. The National Trust, RSPB and the WWF UK have been garnering the public’s views on the plight of our native creatures and plants, and will use the plan to lobby government, businesses and non-governmental organisations to help change things for the better. Sea and river pollution, food production and legal protection for wildlife are expected to be hot topics.
Moths, beetles and hornets take the stage at Chelsea this year at the Royal Entomological Society’s first show garden, designed by Tom Massey, where an on-site micro-lab will enlarge the tiny critters on huge screens. Can’t go to Chelsea? Look out for workshops, bug hunts, talks and exhibitions across the country during Insect Week in June.
Remember organic? Now, the pinnacle of eco-friendly food production is regenerative farming, which focuses on promoting good soil health. Marks & Spencer has launched breads using flour from Wildfarmed, which works with more than 42 farmers using or moving to regenerative methods, while Waitrose is testing regenerative practices on its Hampshire farm. Buy your own regenerative flour from Ratton Pantry or Matthews Cotswolds Flour.
Last summer was abuzz with the TikTok craze #HotGirlWalks. Worry not, you’re still reading the same website. The idea is that by focusing on what we’re grateful for and our goals when we’re on a walk, we boost our mental as well as our physical health. Now, walking and meditating (Kinhin in Buddhism) is taking off as a mainstream trend. Look out for Danielle North’s Walking Meditations (Aster, £12.99) in May, which promises to map the path to inner peace on the move.
Paddleboard yoga before your pint? It’s a thing at the Rivergarden pub beside the Yare in Norwich, which in warmer months will offer Paddleboard and Pose nights in addition to yoga sessions. Other pubs are also reviving the community. The Nag’s Head in Haughton Moss near Tarporley, Cheshire, which closed in 2019, has reopened with a farmers’ market, wood-fired pizza barn and garden inspired by Great Dixter in East Sussex.
Coastal grandma meets Victorian gentlewoman in the new vogue for seaweed wall art. Follow The Drum for Insta-spiration from Flora Kinnaird, whose original pressings are so cult that they sell out as soon as they drop, or book onto one of Molesworth & Bird’s 2023 workshops to learn how to press your own wracks, weeds and seagrasses.
At the end of last year, the National Trust unveiled its first Children’s Country House at Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire, where the ropes and ‘do not touch’ signs have been replaced by giant jigsaws, an escape room and an invitation to sit on the furniture. This year at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where the under-fives are usually denied entry, the RHS is inviting local schoolchildren to its first children’s picnic to nurture the next generation’s love of gardening.
The struggle many people from rural and coastal areas face when buying a property in their hometown will hit the news agenda in March when Welsh councils acquire the power to triple council tax on second homes. Across the UK, schemes to help locals could follow in the footsteps of a social enterprise formed by people in Southwold and Reydon in Suffolk, who created affordable homes last year in an old cottage hospital. Natasha Carthew, from Cornwall, reveals her experience of rural poverty in Undercurrent, out in April (Hodder & Stoughton, £16.99).
Eating earlier to give your gut a break is fast becoming the latest hack, not least because the post-pandemic shift to home working has made it easier (and tempting). “More research shows it’s not only what we eat that matters but when we eat it,” says Dr Linia Patel, dietician and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association. It may not be suitable for everyone, she says, but leaving at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast can “allow our gut bacteria to do their thing and our bodies to repair”.
With the most recent series of Detectorists airing last month, amateur archaeology has gone from nerdy and niche to cool and cult. This spring, Ad Gefrin, a new centre celebrating Northumbria’s heritage and culture, offers visitors the chance to explore the wonders of the summer palace of Anglo-Saxon kings and queens at Yeavering, near Wooler in Northumberland. We know what our next hobby is going to be.
A spritz of turpentine before an evening out? Perfume companies are now using up-cycled ingredients to help their products be more sustainable – and thanks to distilling techniques, turpentine can smell just like sandalwood. Floral Street uses cedar wood essential oil from waste wood from the furniture industry, while Miller Harris’s new scent Myrica Muse contains rose oil ‘rebuilt’ from used Turkish roses, and patchouli oil from flower parts that would otherwise go to waste.
NASA scientists are gearing up to launch a mission in October to a 140-mile-wide asteroid known as 16 Psyche between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The rock is thought to contain a core of iron, nickel and gold and could have been the start of a planet stopped in its tracks. Scientists will run tests to help us understand more about the earth’s core. We’ll all need patience, though, as it will take until 2029 for it to get there.
Traipsing into our front rooms in muddy wellies this year are: Jeremy and Kaleb for series two of Clarkson’s Farm (Amazon Prime); Amanda Owen, the Yorkshire Shepherdess, with Extraordinary Farming, following farmers across the country trying to make ends meet (Channel 4); and Matt Baker, with Farm of a Lifetime (More4), where competitors vie for a National Trust tenancy. That’s one reality show we can get behind.
Five a day is all very well, but have you tried 30 a week? Gut-health guru Professor Tim Spector, winner of a recent BBC Food and Farming Award and author of Food for Life (Jonathan Cape, £20), has said we should be eating 30 different plants a week (grains included) to benefit our health and the planet – and the idea is fast gathering pace. Switch up your grains by making barley risotto and buckwheat pancakes, and experiment with herbs and veggies – less sugar, more salsify.