Travel: Pressing the reset button in Rhodes

Rhodes – a place where my best friend from primary school went on her holidays circa 1985, not somewhere I have ever really considered visiting. When I get on a plane, I like to go far, far away (probably more so now than ever) and get right out into the world for big adventures but this year’s different.

I need to go on holiday to rest, renew and re-energise. Neighbouring “it island”, Mykonos, floats all my boats but for now, cosmopolitan partying is off the holiday wish list. I need to hit the re-set button.

Rhodes is a four-and-a-half hour hop from Glasgow, just enough time for eight episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, a glass of wine and a few “close your eyes and dream of what lies ahead” moments.

What lies ahead for me (as far as I know) is the Gennadi Grand Resort, a new minimalist luxury eco-resort, blending into the Aegean coastline of the less-explored southern corner of the largest Dodecanese island.

From the airport the resort is a 50-minute drive – a dreamy whizz past clusters of white sugar-cube houses, Byzantine churches and endless miles of mountainside scattered with cypress and pine trees, far away from the tourist resorts; everything begins to feel quite rustic quite quickly.

Until we arrive at the resort: a stunning, ultra-modern collection of buildings. Futuristic in style, it feels very LA with the white angular buildings set against the mountain backdrop – a bit like going on holiday to the Getty Museum.

The design philosophy is built around the concept of “wellness architecture”: healthy, sustainable buildings, if you like. Spaces that have been designed to look structurally beautiful while delivering a checklist of seven healthy building categories – air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mental health.

Gennadi Grand Resort delivers this through a seamless balance of style, luxury and thoughtful design and architecture. With a neutral palette, sharp angles and slanted roofs that complement the surroundings and optimise the micro-climate conditions, its low-slung buildings are made from locally sourced porphyry rock, chosen for its minimal maintenance properties. The resort has a focus on water consumption and uses a reverse osmosis system to deliver 20,000 litres of clean, sustainable water.

Floor-to-ceiling windows allow natural sunlight to stream through the buildings. Paths around the resort are dotted with all manner of pools, glistening water features and low sunken lush gardens with indigenous flowers and olive trees. It all makes for an incredibly uplifting experience. Gennadi Grand is stylishly sophisticated in an entirely feel-good, minimalist way. Our room is a spacious Scandi-chic Junior Suite which has a separate lounge area, terrace and private pool. Decorated in creamy neutrals with ocean blue accents, natural wood surfaces with mood lighting, the room is designed so that every bit of space is maximised for function and utility but not at the cost of comfort and luxury.

White fluffy bathrobes hang in the bathroom area, which has double sinks set in a long marble surface with generous storage beneath as well as ample drawer and cupboard space. In keeping with the resort’s eco-ethos, there’s no bath, but it’s not missed. The walk-in waterfall shower is instantly invigorating.

With 288 rooms, nine restaurants, lounge bars, a spa, gym, a collection of huge swimming pools, chill pools, water features, tennis courts and a private beach, the resort is vast; everything is thoughtfully spaced out so it always feels peaceful, quiet and totally relaxed.

I’m an early riser, even on holiday, but there’s something about being in this resort that makes you want to embrace as many opportunities as possible to “be well”. The hotel has a well kitted-out gym which becomes number one in my morning routine, followed by breakfast where I can grab a smoothie, a continental breakfast or go for the standard cooked breakfast buffet fare, pancakes, waffles and pastries – my teenage son is in breakfast nirvana. I draw on every bit of my willpower to steer clear of breakfast heaven and stick with smoothies, detox juice and lemon tea.

My pool-side days are sun filled and chilled, as I drift off for sunny snoozes under swaying palm trees, take wake-up dips in the pool and late afternoon meanders to my yoga and pilates classes.

I continue my wellness theme with a morning at the spa, which offers a range of Greek-inspired signature rituals, facials and body treatments that focus on releasing tension and promoting inner balance. Floating back to the sunbed after my 70-minute exfoliating massage, I spend the rest of the day totally blissed out while my son takes himself off for his daily afternoon menu of beach volleyball, water darts and water polo.

There are 12 bars and restaurants where we can spend our evenings. Dinner at Filoxenia, the main restaurant is a mix of Greek specialities and international fare. Provenance is an important part of the dining ethos at the resort, with much of the produce coming from local and independent suppliers, offering a quality, authentic dining experiences. Greek meze snacks are served at Ouzo, which becomes STK in the evening, serving grilled premium cuts with a mouth-watering selection of side dishes, sauces and salads. This is the culinary highlight of the holiday and a perfect last night.

Sustainability within travel is no longer just “nice to do”, it’s what an entire new generation of travellers is looking for. Gennadi Grand Resort delivers this impactfully, subtly and very stylishly, offering a totally immersive and holistic experience, so much so, we don’t venture out of the resort until it’s time to leave.

My stay here gave me everything that I needed at a time when I needed it most. When I arrived, my head felt like a toxic junkyard. As we drove away from the resort, I felt completely restored, all junk processed and filed away, my mind, body and soul nourished, the reset button on life firmly pressed.

Gennadi Grand Resort, Rhodes

Fact box – Rates at Gennadi Grand Resort start at £232 per night, based on double occupancy with breakfast. Half board and ultra-all-inclusive options will also be available. For more information or to book visit www.gennadigrandresort.com

Return flights from Glasgow and Edinburgh with Jet2.com from £200

Crathes Castle: Rooms with a view of ancient treasures

Banchory

Aberdeenshire AB31 5QJ

Why We Should Visit

The magnificent scenery of Royal Deeside, with the Cairngorms rising in the distance, made a poignant backdrop to the final journey of the late Queen. Crathes Castle has presided over this imposing landscape for almost five centuries.The castle is a classic Scottish tower house and set out around its high walls are some of the finest gardens in Scotland. Formal in places and wild in others, the gardens have historic elements, classical features and modern touches, all of them maintained to the highest possible horticultural standards.

Story of the Garden

This is a very old garden with ancient yew hedges that date back to 1702, but for a time it was abandoned before being rescued and restored exactly 100 years ago by Sir James Burnett and his wife, Lady Sybil.

Together they designed the layout of eight garden rooms, divided by high hedges, that exists today and they sparked a fashion when they created an entirely white border.

Highlights

Giant topiary figures, a formal pool and a doocot give the gardens at Crathes a timeless appeal. Within the framework of hedges a succession of flowers and shrubs bloom throughout the year, while a collection of heritage Malmaison carnations, which are notoriously difficult to grow, is nurtured in a range of Mackenzie and Moncur greenhouses.

Don’t Miss

The castle itself is filled with artworks and historical treasures and the reward for climbing the many stairs to the top of the tower is the fine view over the gardens and over the surrounding woodland, which includes an important collection of rare conifers.

Anything Else to Look Out For?

Waymarked trails through the woods give visitors the chance to explore the estate and to spot red squirrels, pine martens, buzzards and a whole range of wildlife that lives in and around the grounds.

Best Time to Visit

The June borders at Crathes are renowned for their colour and profusion, but they are just one of a series of carefully-planned displays that unfold throughout the year, while the framework of the formal garden ensures that the enclosed spaces continue to perform even when the flowers have faded and the trees are bare.

Any Recommendations in the Area?

Banchory is prime walking country, with flat trails along the River Dee, a bracing climb to local Scolty Hill and the lure of the Cairngorms themselves. The area is also littered with prehistoric sites, including stone circles and cairns.

Directions

Crathes Castle is on the A93, 15 miles west of Aberdeen

Details

The castle, cafe and gardens are open Thursday-Sunday, 10am until 4pm. The Wild Wood Adventure Play area is open Saturday and Sunday.

The castle grounds are open daily, dawn to dusk.

Tickets

£14.50/£10/£1(Young Scot)

Tel: 01330 844525

Email: crathes@nts.org.uk/visit/places/crathes-castle

www.nts.org.uk

Climate change is proving to be a challenge, making our weather unpredictable and disrupting flowering patterns, but the best way to protect gardens from weather extremes is by filling them with plants that have been grown locally and are adapted to the conditions.

Ashbrook Nursery in Arbroath has more than 30 years’ experience of raising plants in a way that makes them tough enough to withstand whatever the climate. It does this by raising them ‘hard’, which means that they are given only the minimal protection needed to survive when they are little and spend more time out of doors than they do in heated greenhouses.

The nursery stocks 2000 different varieties, including alpines, perennials and grasses that have been raised in this way and it also sources from other growers with similar regimes.

The result is strong and healthy plants that don’t suffer a setback when transplanted to real garden conditions.

Ashbrook has recently created a ‘Woodland Wander’ area, where visitors can discover creative ways of using plants, including a no-dig shade border and a stumpery combines ferns and other woodland plants with logs and branches, to decorative effect.

Ashbrook Nursery

Forfar Road

Arbroath DD11 3RB

In association with Discover Scottish Gardens.

www.discoverscottishgardens.org.

Kate Winslet donates £17,000 to pay girl’s life support fuel bill


A Scottish mother facing soaring energy bills due to the cost of running her daughter’s life support has received a £17,000 donation from Kate Winslet.

Carolynne Hunter’s 12-year-old daughter Freya, the youngest of four children, has severe complex health problems and disabilities, is non-verbal and blind and requires full-time oxygen and at-home nursing care.

Ms Hunter, 49, from Tillicoultry, Scotland, launched a GoFundMe fundraiser earlier this week to help her pay the soaring running costs of the equipment that keeps Freya alive, which includes a machine monitoring her oxygen and heart rate.

Just days into the campaign, which had a £20,000 goal, a donation of £17,000 marked “Kate Winslet and family” was paid to the fundraiser – which has been confirmed as a contribution from the Titanic and Mare Of Easttown actress.

Energy costsCarolynne Hunter with her 12-year-old daughter Freya (Carolynne Hunter/PA)

Ms Hunter told the BBC: “Our journey as family has been very traumatic and I just feel done at this point in my life.

“When I heard about the money I just burst into tears – I thought it wasn’t even real.

“I’m still thinking is this real?”

Winslet’s upcoming Channel 4 feature film, I Am Ruth, is set for release later this year and sees her play Ruth, the mother of a character called Freya – played by Winslet’s own daughter, 22-year-old Mia Threapleton.

Winslet co-authored the film – which looks at the mental health crisis affecting young people in the UK – alongside Dominic Savage, series creator of the I Am anthology of standalone dramas.

Energy costsFreya is non-verbal and blind and requires full-time oxygen (Carolynne Hunter/PA)

On her GoFundMe page, Ms Hunter said she has “no way of reducing” the energy in her home due to Freya’s needs and she faced a predicted annual fuel bill of £17,000 in January 2023 – up from just over £9,000 in October this year.

In August Ms Hunter told the PA news agency about her fears for the winter, stating: “Our families are going to suffer, there’s going to be a mass crisis for the NHS and social care and children will die if their families are not able to pay for it.”





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Alan and Stevie Jukes AKA Saint Phnx on their love for St Andrews

St Andrews, Fife.

Why do you go there?

It’s where our dad was born. We’ve had so many amazing family holidays there and created unforgettable memories; it’s been a massive part of our lives.

We still go there now and take our kids which is special as they love it as much as we do. We also shot a special video of our song, Happy Place, on the West Sands beach as a nod to our dad, who sadly passed away at the start of last year.

How often do you go?

A few times throughout the year. I don’t think a year has passed when we didn’t go to St Andrews.

How did you discover it?

Because our dad was born there it was pretty much drilled into us as kids that we had to see the place where he was born. It has become a second home.

What’s your favourite memory?

In September 2020, during the pandemic, we were able to rent a house in St Andrews with all our family for a few days. We knew our dad wasn’t doing great healthwise, but this gave him a massive lift.

We spent the full weekend laughing, playing games and telling stories. His smile that weekend is something we will never forget. It also made our wee mum’s heart glow. It was a special time.

Who do you take?

More often than not we go with our entire family and the dogs. St Andrews has something for everyone and has a family feel to it as well.

What do you take?

You don’t need a lot to have a great time there. Some clothes and good company are all you need. If you want, you can take your golf clubs, a picnic for the beach and a rain jacket. If it is good weather, you can’t beat having a barbecue on the West Sands beach.

What do you leave behind?

All your worries and troubles. It’s a great place to escape reality.

Sum it up in five words


The best place on earth.

What other travel spots are on your wish list?

There are a few places we’d like to see and also a few places we’d like to go back to and spend more time. We visited Lake Como in Italy while on a European tour and it was absolutely amazing. We would love to go back there.

We would also love to play some festivals or shows in South America and Mexico. We have fans from Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile, so it would be amazing to get the chance to play there. Hopefully we will soon.

The single, Friends, by Saint Phnx is out now on Atlantic Records. The band is playing St Luke’s, Glasgow, on November 27 and Barrowland, Glasgow, on April 8. Visit saintphnx.com

Scottish Ambulance strike: Service staff set walkout date


Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) staff have become the latest public sector workers to announce they will go on strike in a pay dispute.

The GMB trade union said staff at the ambulance service would strike for one day from 6am on Monday November 28.

Unite, which also represents SAS workers, has already announced its members will work to rule from November 25.

Nurses and teachers have also voted for strike action as they bid for improved pay offers.

If the GMB’s industrial action goes ahead, it will be the ambulance service’s first strike in decades.

GMB Scotland organiser Karen Leonard said: “Staff in the Scottish Ambulance Service have worked throughout the depths of the pandemic on the frontline of our public services, all the while dealing with an understaffing crisis and now a cost-of-living crisis this winter.

“These strikes are a direct response to the Scottish Government who have failed to give key, frontline workers the pay rise that they deserve and who have overseen years of managed decline in the health services that so many rely on.

“Staff are rightly angry with how they’re being treated.

“They have been overlooked, overworked, undervalued and underpaid.

“The workforce is being expected to fill more and more gaps in service provision.”

Humza Yousaf commentsScotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf (Andrew Milligan/PA)

She said the current pay offer was well below inflation.

Ms Leonard continued: “Since GMB’s members announced their mandate for strike, he (Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf) has done nothing to prevent it going ahead.

“He has failed to come back with the significantly improved offer he promised.

“He has put off meeting with our members to discuss an offer. He has been totally missing.

“Humza Yousaf can’t stick his fingers in his ears and hope workers will go away. He has to meet with them.”

Scottish Labour Health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “No-one wants these strikes, but I understand that workers have been left with no other option. The problems that have been building for years are now at crisis point, but Humza Yousaf is just not listening.

“It’s not too late for the SNP to prevent these strikes by getting round the negotiating table and delivering a fair pay deal.

“We need to start contingency planning now to avoid disaster, and the SNP must consider calling in the army – but that is no substitute for trained paramedics, who need to be properly valued and fairly paid.”





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Lennie Pennie: ‘Heroin chic’ is back apparently – give us a break



I’M going to start this week’s column by saying I’m going to be discussing disordered eating, body dysmorphia, nutrition, and food. If you’d rather avoid reading about these topics, please know that I respect your choices to avoid media which you might find upsetting, and I’ll be back next week with a new topic.

The New York Post recently published an article stating that ‘heroin chic’ was back in fashion. For those unaware of the term, it refers to the 1990s trend for appearing as gaunt, emaciated, and skinny as possible, in order to emulate an unachievable runway-ready look.

The internet provides rapid and unregulated dissemination of information available to people of all ages, and stages of development. Beauty trends fluctuate, and regularly shift to oppose each other; what once was used to ridicule people can often earn them praise in later years, and vice versa.

In many cultures, historically the most desirable bodies were said to be rounder, softer, figures evoking nourishment and fertility and yet it seems that what once was the epitome of beauty has become something to actively avoid.

Now, of course, there are industries built on insecurities they themselves manufacture: products which claim to remove, reduce, or enhance benign, naturally occurring features are pushed to make a profit, and the demonisation of such a benign aesthetic attribute is representative of an industry which exists to make us feel less so that they can make more.

Hip dips, thigh gaps, bingo wings, back rolls, none of these physical features that have been singled out by societal standards as issues to be addressed are in any way moral failings, and we only have to look at historical representations of beauty to see their presence in even the most desirable representations of humanity.

Overcoming the pervasive narrative of inadequacy is hard, but a shift in perspective can help remind you that your body is worthy of respect, regardless of aesthetic. For example: stretch marks are a physical manifestation of growth, whether acquired through the creation of life or the living of one they are a beautiful, natural representation of the effort our skin goes through, making room for us to take up the space we deserve. Bodies come in all different configurations, and each should be allowed to exist in peace without judgement.

Celebrities, the media, and those with social influence have a responsibility to ensure that they do not use their platform to perpetuate harmful narratives to the people who consume their content, many of whom are impressionable people who already struggle with self-image.

Famous individuals, who have ready access to resources which can and do dramatically alter their appearance, can often be seen to promote products which they claim can achieve results only truly attainable through surgery, steroids, or software.

There is nothing wrong with altering your own body however you see fit, but to use the outcome of surgical procedures in order to market items which played no part in the transformation is at best disingenuous, and at worst deadly. Diet pills, a commonly celeb-endorsed product, often contain laxatives which are not an always an effective or sustainable method of weight-loss. Indeed, many of the restrictive diets recommended to lose weight can end up having the opposite effect.

Other items subject to deceptive marketing are appetite suppressants and meal replacement products, which do little to establish healthy relationships with food and hunger, and instead can cause people to gain back additional weight once they stop using them. These food supplements are not required to undergo the same rigorous licensing, testing or registration as medicine and as a result often contain ingredients which can be detrimental to the health of those who take them. An example of this is activated charcoal, which can absorb other substances it encounters in the stomach and intestines, decreasing the effectiveness of prescription medications.

It is important to acknowledge that the issue of disordered eating does not just affect women and increasing numbers of men are bravely coming forward to normalise discussions about negative body image and the relationship they feel it has with toxic masculinity. Men are also subject to intense pressure to appear a certain way which can often result in over-exercising and restrictive eating.

Often, disordered eating arises out of a need for control, and under the intense pressure of beauty standards, trends, and the expectations to look a certain way, many people can turn the judgement they feel inwards and hate themselves from the inside out. When society mirrors the voice in your head telling you that who you are is something that should be fixed, you feel guilty for every second you aren’t actively working to change yourself.

Health looks different on anybody and every body – at my lowest weight I matched societal expectation and beauty standards, but had no energy, experienced heart palpitations, my period stopped for months on end and I was constantly hungry, cold, dizzy, and shaking. The pervasive narrative of inadequacy forced upon us by those with a product or a message to sell is not without consequence: eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness or psychiatric disorder. The Center for Discovery in the US states that without treatment, one in five eating disorder cases result in fatalities, with twenty per cent of those deaths happening as a result of suicide.

Food is morally neutral and is not something which needs to be ‘earned’ through exercise, exhaustion, or restriction. The stuff we eat is fuel, but it’s also something from which we can, and should, derive pleasure. When I took a job cooking in a restaurant I began to see people taking genuine joy in their food and it inspired me to begin repairing my relationship with eating, and with my body.

The value that food has cannot be restricted to the calorific value or the amount of protein it contains, and you should never have to feel guilty for your food choices – even if all that particular meal provides you with is a smile.

One of the most important lessons I learned in therapy was that if a person finds themselves gaining some weight once they start to eat in a way that satisfies their nutritional needs, that is weight their body is meant to have. Nothing looks better than a properly nourished body, one given the kindness, respect, and food it deserves.





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Design boost for Scotland’s medical device firms



Expert support to speed up the development of medical devices is being made available through a new partnership serving small and medium-sized businesses.

Under the five-year agreement SMEs supported by the Medical Device Manufacturing Centre (MDMC) based at Heriot-Watt University will be able to engage with Technology Scotland to advance designs for novel healthcare solutions. Through its Product Design Scotland Network, Technology Scotland will focus in particular on the sustainability of medical devices.

The MDMC consortium includes the University of Edinburgh, the University of Glasgow and Robert Gordon University and provides access to its £2 million specialist manufacturing facilities to small developers.

Technology Scotland supports more than 125 industrial and academic members across three networks to deliver advances in markets ranging from healthcare and communications to manufacturing and mobility.

READ MORE: ‘Landmark’ deal for medical development in Scotland

Professor Duncan Hand, director of the MDMC at Heriot-Watt University, said access to specialist design capability is one of the biggest challenges that SMEs working in the sector currently face.

“We are a nation of innovators, but it is essential that expert support is more easily and consistently accessible to SMEs to translate their game-changing innovations into devices that can be more quickly adopted for the benefit of patient care,” he added.

Technology Scotland chief executive Alastair McInroy said the enabling technologies sector has long supported the country’s “vibrant” life sciences industry. The partnership with the MDMC is designed to take that a step further.

“Realising the potential of these technologies, and successfully navigating the journey from concept to commercialisation, requires careful integration of design processes and frameworks,” he said.





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