Country food will become even better
Back in the early 1950s, a socialist mystery writer by the name of Raymond Postgate decided that the food in post-war British restaurants was simply godawful and something ought to be done about it. And so The Good Food Guide was born, a grassroots project in which diners reported on their favourite finds. After a sudden demise, the guide relaunched online this summer, and its focus on restaurants right across the nation feels particularly timely. Although the predicted pandemic exodus from the cities never quite happened, many chefs have left the urban life behind to narrow the distance between farm and fork, crumble regional terroir in their hands and even out the work-life balance. According to Katie Toogood, who moved from London to Cornwall to open the second outpost of Prawn on the Lawn and never looked back, “There’s a real gravity to the rural food scene right now, with places like the Pig supporting local producers – unless you live here, you just don’t get to meet the foragers who gather samphire and shore crabs for the menu – that kind of thing can only happen by word of mouth.” She’s in excellent company, with Pollen Street Social’s Mike Naidoo now at Catch at The Old Fish Market in Weymouth, and Big Jo’s Jules Copperman at Upstairs at Landrace in Bath. Meanwhile, all eyes are on former Fera chef Dan Cox, who’s launching The Granary in south-east Cornwall. Now there’s even more reason to explore the roads less travelled in our green and pleasant land.
There will be lift-off from remote Scottish isles
Unst, the northernmost island of Shetland, rarely gets its dues as a hub for innovation. Most visitors come for the bleakly beautiful walk across the Hermaness headland to the Muckle Flugga Lighthouse, just about the UK’s northernmost point; for Viking longhouses, lonely bays and Bobby’s Bus Shelter, which is decorated by locals with a whimsical theme every year (this year: the Queen – cardboard corgis and all). Now, though, work has begun on the SaxaVord Spaceport, the UK’s first vertical-launch facility, on the Lamba Ness headland in the island’s isolated north-east (where rockets won’t have to fly over civilisation). With plans for commercial launches as early as next year, the spaceport’s leaders have talked of a boom in space tourism on the island, as industry workers and curious visitors arrive for launches. And it’s not the only future-facing idea taking root on Britain’s northernmost archipelago, which is moving on from its historical reliance on oil and gas. Like Orkney to the south, Shetland’s waters are also home to a pioneering tidal-energy installation, and a controversial new onshore wind farm is the first step in a plan to power the archipelago entirely on wind energy, while producing and exporting green hydrogen. But more than all of that, perhaps, Shetland’s orcas, otters and craggy, sea-lashed coasts make these islands ideal for that most forward-thinking of ideas: the humble worship of nature in its wildest form.