Tag: staycation

Why the Wirral village of Port Sunlight is built on a bar of soap

He was the Jeff Bezos of his day, a polymath who founded a business empire — built on soap.

Lord William Hesketh Lever [pictured above] built up the Lever Brothers business that made its home on the Wirral, founding the garden village of Port Sunlight in 1888.

I visited the village for a preview of SoapWorks, a new family visitor attraction opening May 26 — just in time for the May half-term holiday.

The museum explores the science behind soap through a series of hands-on exhibits.

“He chose soap with good reason,” says the gallery curator. “He saw the opportunity that soap could make people healthier and happier.”

Lord Lever was an early-adopter health and safety champion, providing better quality housing for his factory workers, although he was motivated by ensuring they didn’t miss a day at the factory.

The village is still home to the research arm of Unilever, the British multinational consumer goods company that grew out of Lever’s Sunlight Soap.

Art abuse

Afterwards, I headed to the nearby Lady Lever Art Gallery, founded by Lever for his wife, Elisabeth, in 1922.

The current exhibition, The Last Bohemian: Augustin John, explores works by the Tenby-born painter, who went on to study art in Liverpool.

John famously painted Lever’s portrait in 1920 but the then Lord Leverhulme found it unflattering, sparking a scandal when he cut out the head from the canvas.

When the story was leaked to the press, art students took to the streets of London to defend the artist’s right to capture Lever as he saw him.

The two sections were finally reunited in 1954 for a retrospective of John’s work at the Royal Academy.

Lever died a very rich man but, today, the gallery continues to explore his connections to the slave trade in the plan oil plantations of the Belgian Congo.

Maybe John captured something of the man after all.

How to spend a weekend on the Herefordshire Cider Circuit

National Apple Day had cider fans celebrating this week.

I joined in the spirit of the autumnal event with a short UK break in Herefordshire, following a newly launched Cider Circuit [pictured above] of orchards and producers.

It was great to be on assignment and having a change of scene in a safe, socially distanced way before new lockdowns loom.

Here’s a flavour of the feature:

Cider has been part of Herefordshire’s rural heritage since medieval times with local cider first exported to London in the 17th century as a fashionable alternative to wine.

In recent years, the cider market has been dominated by big brands, mass production and the rise of fruit-flavoured ciders

But a new generation of cider makers is now taking over, moving away from the cloudy-scrumpy-and-sandals image in favour of a premium product.

Read the full article in the i newspaper here.

Why my postcard from Llandudno has a taste of seaside nostalgia

It was a weekend of seaside nostalgia.

We took a trip to Llandudno last weekend to write a postcard from the North Walian resort for Telegraph Travel.

But it was also something of a personal journey.

I used to go to Llandudno on family holidays as a child — that’s me aged around five with my mum on the prom at the North Shore [pictured above].

This time I was back with my own two daughters for a UK seaside break after our original holiday plans were cancelled under lockdown.

But how would an old-school seaside resort shape up for two Tick Tock teens?

Here’s a taster of my story:

The collapse of air bridges has led to the North Wales coast enjoying a post-lockdown bonanza.

We find Landudno’s pebbly North Beach busy with rockpool paddlers, despite some rather menacing clouds over the Great Orme, and the cafés along Mostyn Street bustling with al-fresco diners seeking Cymru-sur-mer vibes.

“People are hungry for good food they don’t have to prepare and clean up afterwards,” says Michael Waddy, Executive Chef at the Empire Hotel.

Read the full story here.