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How I quit the rat race – for a Hebridean hell

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how i quit the rat race for a hebridean hell

MEMOIR

I AM AN ISLAND 

by Tamsin Calidas (Doubleday £16.99, 304 pp)

In lockdown, it seems our most difficult feelings have been given space to sink deeper than ever before. But we’ve also learned to cherish the small and simple things we once took for granted: the morning’s birdsong and the satisfaction of perfectly pegged-out laundry.

Lockdown is easing now, but for a gruelling glimpse into what it would feel like if quarantine conditions intensified and extended for years, look no further than Tamsin Calidas’s devastating account of her life on a remote Hebridean Island.

Tamsin Calidas (pictured) who swapped city life for farming, reflects on her life on a remote Hebridean Island in a fascinating memoir

Tamsin Calidas (pictured) who swapped city life for farming, reflects on her life on a remote Hebridean Island in a fascinating memoir

Tamsin Calidas (pictured) who swapped city life for farming, reflects on her life on a remote Hebridean Island in a fascinating memoir

A happily married Oxford graduate with a successful media career, Calidas began to struggle with London life in her early 30s. First, a car accident buckled her spine, leaving her with concerns about her fertility. Then she and her husband, Rab, woke in the night to find burglars in their bedroom.

Although they had no roots in the Hebrides and no experience of farming, in 2004 they took the bold decision to swap their city home for a derelict croft on a small, unnamed island with no GP or police officer — only a small post office stocking basic groceries, a tiny primary school and one part-time nurse.

At first, they experienced much of the rural idyll they craved. Each morning they woke early, holding hands under the covers. There followed long days of toil as they grew leaner, browner and closer. There were quiet nights by a roaring fire, eating fish fresh from the surf. They bought a small stock of cows and sheep and tried not to focus on the hostility sloshing from the drunken mouths of long-term islanders who resented incomers and made vague, unsettling threats.

The couple hoped to have a family but failed to conceive. Heartbroken, Calidas travelled to Glasgow for agonising IVF treatments that did not work, only to discover Rab had been unfaithful with a local woman.

Rab returned to London and Calidas found herself more isolated than ever.

As the only female farmer on the island she was not welcomed into the farming community. Leading her stock around the ring at an auction, the auctioneer made lewd comments as though it were Calidas, not her lambs, up for sale.

I AM AN ISLAND by Tamsin Calidas (Doubleday £16.99, 304 pp)

I AM AN ISLAND by Tamsin Calidas (Doubleday £16.99, 304 pp)

I AM AN ISLAND by Tamsin Calidas (Doubleday £16.99, 304 pp)

Men crashed violently into her home at all hours, demanding her whisky and attention. Noting her mixed heritage, one hissed about her ‘dirty’ skin. The word ‘b****’ was sprayed on to the wall of her croft. At one point she was so poor she was forced to turn to the trees for more physical sustenance: ‘It takes a surprisingly long time to eat a leaf picked fresh off a tree. The sycamore leaf is the toughest. The beech is soft, buckled with tiny hairs like downy skin. The silver birch is thin and slippery-cool.’

At her lowest, Calidas admits she walked naked out into the icy sea to end her life, but her will to survive was reinvigorated by the briny waves. Finding a passion for swimming kept her afloat, and she sought bracing solace in the waves all through the winter and even at night.

Though her book charts the ragged grief she felt at the loss of both her parents and her only friend on the island, who died in a car crash, Calidas was continually revived by the wild beauty around her: the misty breath of deer at dawn, the velvet sprawl of seals on the beach and the gulls screaming above the spray.

She found a powerful outlet for her maternal instincts in the nurture of her stock, her beloved sheepdog Maude and the many injured or orphaned wild creatures she nursed back to health.

In the closing pages, Calidas attempts to build a new kind of trust with the islanders, although it may be that this book — which has offended many who deny her accounts of hostility — prevents her from reintegrating into island life after all.

She also finds herself still longing for a child: ‘Some days I wonder if I am destined always to be here alone, an island in a sea of solitude, or if one day a small hand will reach out to hold fast to mine . . .’

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Trump accuses Joe Biden of going on an ‘anti-police crusade’ after Louisville unrest

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trump accuses joe biden of going on an anti police crusade after louisville unrest

President Donald Trump went full ‘law and order’ at his rally Thursday night in Jacksonville, Florida accusing his rival Democratic Joe Biden of going on an ‘anti-police crusade’ and calling law enforcement the ‘enemy.’ 

The president’s comments come on the heels of another night of violence in the United States, as two police officers in Louisville, Kentucky were shot during demonstrations after a Kentucky grand jury brought no charges against Louisville police for Breonna Taylor’s death. 

‘Biden’s anti-police crusade must stop,’ the president demanded. ‘I will always stand with the heroes of law enforcement.’  

President Donald Trump blasted Democrat Joe Biden for going on an 'anti-police crusade' during his rally Thursday night in Jacksonville, Florida

President Donald Trump blasted Democrat Joe Biden for going on an 'anti-police crusade' during his rally Thursday night in Jacksonville, Florida

President Donald Trump blasted Democrat Joe Biden for going on an ‘anti-police crusade’ during his rally Thursday night in Jacksonville, Florida 

Trump described the Democratic ex-vice president as being ‘weak as hell.’ 

‘He surrendered his party to flag burners, rioters and anti-police radicals,’ the president said. 

Trump brought up Wednesday night’s chaos in Kentucky – actually complimenting the state’s Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear for calling up the national guard. 

But then accused Biden of backing the unrest. 

‘Joe, they’re not peaceful!’ Trump yelled. ‘I think he believes it,’ the president smirked. 

Biden has condemned violence and destruction related to this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests getting out of control – but Trump has continued to make the claims anyway. 

Biden tweeted Wednesday, ‘Even amidst the profound grief & anger today’s decision generated, violence is never & can never be the answer.’ 

‘Those who engage in it must be held accountable,’ he said. 

‘Jill & I are keeping the officers shot tonight in Louisville in our prayers. We wish them both a swift & full recovery,’ Biden added.  

But Trump continued to say that he was candidate of law enforcement, while Biden was the candidate of Black Lives Matter – portraying the broader movement as violent and unhinged.   

‘He even described law enforcement as the enemy,’ Trump said of Biden Thursday night, taking Biden’s words warning of the overmilitarization of the police out of context.   

On July 8, the former vice president said, ‘Surplus military equipment for law enforcement: they don’t need that. The last thing you need is an up-armored Humvee coming into a neighborhood – it’s like the military invading.’ 

‘They don’t know anybody; they become the enemy. They’re supposed to be protecting these people,’ Biden said. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Travel quarantine: Denmark, Iceland and Slovakia added to England’s ‘red list’

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travel quarantine denmark iceland and slovakia added to englands red list

Britain’s ‘safe to travel’ list has been reduced to just nine countries – including Gibraltar, San Marino and Lichtenstein – after more destinations were red-flagged. 

Restrictions were imposed on arrivals from Iceland, Slovakia and the Caribbean island of Curacao this weekend.  

It means travellers returning from those destinations to England will face 14 days in quarantine when they get back. 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced this evening that Denmark is one of four countries being added to the Government’s travel quarantine ‘red list’.  

The new rules will come into force at 4am on Saturday morning and mean Brits can travel to just seven countries without restrictions on either border.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today announced Denmark, Slovakia, Iceland and Curacao are being added to the Government's travel quarantine 'red list'

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today announced Denmark, Slovakia, Iceland and Curacao are being added to the Government's travel quarantine 'red list'

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today announced Denmark, Slovakia, Iceland and Curacao are being added to the Government’s travel quarantine ‘red list’

Germany, Poland, Italy, Sweden, Turkey, Greece, Gibraltar, Lichtenstein and San Marino are the only countries Brits can travel to without facing quarantine or tests both ways. 

Mr Shapps also said that no countries will be removed from the ‘red list’ this week. 

Other countries on the UK’s ‘green list’ – including Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Finland and the Seychelles – are either closed to travellers, require up to 14 days quarantine or only allow travellers with a negative Covid test in the last 72 hours.

The devolved administrations often update their own lists following the UK Government’s announcement of its weekly changes for England.

In the past two months the Government has hacked its list of ‘green’ countries down dramatically – axing Spain, France, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Malta, the Netherlands, Czech Republic and mainland Portugal.  

Mr Shapps reminded travellers that they are legally required to fill out a ‘Passenger Locator Form’ when they return to England. 

Announcing the changes, Mr Shapps tweeted: ‘Data shows we need to remove DENMARK, SLOVAKIA, ICELAND, and CURACAO from the Travel Corridor list. 

‘If you arrive in the UK from these destinations after 4am this Saturday, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days.

‘We will not be adding any destinations to the Travel Corridor list this week. 

‘Remember: You MUST complete a Passenger Locator Form by law if you enter the UK. 

‘This protects public health and ensures those who need to are complying with self-isolation rules.’ 

The UK Government currently uses a threshold of 20 cases per 100,000 when it makes decisions on whether to add or remove countries from its quarantine list.  

Downing Street remains under intense pressure to change the UK’s travel quarantine rules amid growing fears for the future of the aviation and travel industries. 

Ministers have faced calls for months to replace the current 14 day self-isolation restrictions for people returning to the UK from high risk countries with a more nuanced system of airport testing. 

Advocates believe testing on arrival could open the door to significantly reducing the two week quarantine period to potentially less than seven days. 

A double testing approach would see travellers tested on arrival and then told to self-isolate for something like five days when they would then be tested for a second time. 

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33581894 8769449 image a 36 1600964679513

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33581904 8769449 image a 37 1600964684143

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33581900 8769449 image a 38 1600964687729

Two negative tests would be enough to allow people to end their period in quarantine and return to normal life. 

However, ministers have been reluctant to approve airport testing because of concerns that the approach could fail to identify some people who have the virus. 

This is because of the amount of time it can take for the virus to be detectable after the moment of infection. 

But many MPs believe the current blanket approach to travel quarantine cannot continue for much longer because of the damage it is doing to the aviation sector. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Mystery of why Princess Diana’s designer Bruce Oldfield pulled the plug on his London store

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mystery of why princess dianas designer bruce oldfield pulled the plug on his london store

His life story might have been scripted by a latter-day Dickens — from sickly baby born out of wedlock to Barnardo’s boy, before becoming the country’s most acclaimed couturier, dressing not only Princess Diana but also the Duchess of Cornwall.

But Bruce Oldfield’s devotees are today in mourning, because his iconic Beauchamp Place showroom in London’s Knightsbridge has closed its doors, I can reveal.

‘It really is the end of an era,’ one of Oldfield’s friends tells me. 

‘It’s a London landmark, as much as Harrods round the corner. But running a business in Central London is increasingly difficult.’

Bruce Oldfield¿s (centre, pictured with Joan Collins, right) life story might have been scripted by a latter-day Dickens ¿ from sickly baby born out of wedlock to Barnardo¿s boy, before becoming the country¿s most acclaimed couturier, dressing not only Princess Diana (left) but also the Duchess of Cornwall

Bruce Oldfield¿s (centre, pictured with Joan Collins, right) life story might have been scripted by a latter-day Dickens ¿ from sickly baby born out of wedlock to Barnardo¿s boy, before becoming the country¿s most acclaimed couturier, dressing not only Princess Diana (left) but also the Duchess of Cornwall

Bruce Oldfield’s (centre, pictured with Joan Collins, right) life story might have been scripted by a latter-day Dickens — from sickly baby born out of wedlock to Barnardo’s boy, before becoming the country’s most acclaimed couturier, dressing not only Princess Diana (left) but also the Duchess of Cornwall

His neighbours in the exclusive street are stunned. ‘It was very sudden,’ one tells me. ‘We’re very sad.’

Oldfield set up his business in 1975. 

Lacking any parental help (he never met his Irish mother, nor his father, a Jamaican boxer), he was given a £500 loan by Barnardo’s, which had taken him in when he proved too much for his foster mother, Violet Masters.

It was to seamstress Violet that he owed his precocious fascination with creating clothes. 

Princess Diana was captivated by charm and tact the charm and tact of Oldfield, 70 ¿ qualities which enabled him to attend to Camilla Parker Bowles simultaneously

Princess Diana was captivated by charm and tact the charm and tact of Oldfield, 70 ¿ qualities which enabled him to attend to Camilla Parker Bowles simultaneously

Oldfield, 70, declined to comment on the shop closure, but his friend insists this is the end of a chapter, not the whole story

Oldfield, 70, declined to comment on the shop closure, but his friend insists this is the end of a chapter, not the whole story

Princess Diana (left) was captivated by charm and tact the charm and tact of Oldfield (right), 70 — qualities which enabled him to attend to Camilla Parker Bowles simultaneously

Soon after leaving art school, he dressed Anjelica Huston for her appearance on the cover of Vogue, and formed an enduring friendship with another screen star, Charlotte Rampling. Soon he was dressing Diana. 

‘A large part of my skills lie in being able to recognise a woman’s body and instinctively know how to enhance their figure,’ Oldfield recently reflected.

But the Princess was also captivated by his charm and tact — qualities which enabled him to attend to Camilla Parker Bowles simultaneously.

Oldfield, 70, declined to comment on the shop closure, but his friend insists this is the end of a chapter, not the whole story: ‘Bruce has some very loyal clients and will carry on serving them from his home.’

Damian’s a big hit as the wedding singer

With weddings limited to 30 — and due to be cut to 15 from Monday — it helps to invite guests who are multi-skilled.

TV star Damian Lewis showed off another talent yesterday as he serenaded a happy couple by playing the guitar and singing Irish folk songs on the steps of Chelsea Old Town Hall.

TV star Damian Lewis (right) serenaded a happy couple by playing the guitar and singing Irish folk songs on the steps of Chelsea Old Town Hall

TV star Damian Lewis (right) serenaded a happy couple by playing the guitar and singing Irish folk songs on the steps of Chelsea Old Town Hall

TV star Damian Lewis (right) serenaded a happy couple by playing the guitar and singing Irish folk songs on the steps of Chelsea Old Town Hall

The actor, who has appeared in U.S. hits such as Homeland and Billions, was joined by his wife, Peaky Blinders star Helen McCrory, at the West London register office ceremony of their friend, journalist Marie O’Riordan. McCrory held up the lyrics as Lewis sang.

The couple were two of just six people who witnessed the former Marie Claire magazine editor exchange vows with Ben Rowell. 

It’s not known if Lewis also had to take the wedding snaps.

Iman’s got face masks covered . . .

David Bowie’s widow Iman has come up with a stylish way to avoid wearing ugly face masks.

The top model, 65, says: ‘I was walking down a semi‑deserted country road with my dog Max when a neighbour, with his dog, approached us without a mask.

‘I wasn’t wearing one either, not expecting that I would see anyone on my walk.

‘I immediately pulled my turtleneck over my mouth and nose to use it as a mask. I thought: “Genius fashion hack!” ’

David Bowie¿s widow Iman has come up with a stylish way to avoid wearing ugly face masks - pulling her turtle neck over her mouth

David Bowie¿s widow Iman has come up with a stylish way to avoid wearing ugly face masks - pulling her turtle neck over her mouth

David Bowie’s widow Iman has come up with a stylish way to avoid wearing ugly face masks – pulling her turtle neck over her mouth

Chums ditch tell-all Barbara 

Barbara Amiel is being shunned after the eye-popping revelations in her memoirs, Friends And Enemies, which were recently serialised in this newspaper.

‘My best friends are social-distancing themselves in apparent revulsion or contempt after reading excerpts in the Daily Mail,’ the wife of former media tycoon Lord (Conrad) Black reveals in The Spectator magazine. ‘This is very sad.’

She refers to her disclosure that she gave oral pleasure to her admirer George Weidenfeld, in an attempt to avoid ‘actual body-to-body contact’ with the publishing giant 21 years her senior. 

‘I have accurately described a difficult situation with a now deceased and brilliant man we all admired and loved, but who placed me in an unenviable situation. 

‘Today, aspects of his behaviour would almost be called sexual harassment, were I a player of that particular game.’

Lady Black, 79, adds: ‘Losing best friends at this point in life is awful, but I will simply hope they come around when they actually read the book. If they do.’

Helena brings her new pal out of his shell

33595770 8770751 image m 91 1600991571457

33595770 8770751 image m 91 1600991571457

Supermodel Helena Christensen leaned on a giant tortoise as she performed leg exercises while visiting a wildlife sanctuary in California

A word in your shell-like, Helena — that’s no way to keep fit!

The supermodel Helena Christensen leaned on a giant tortoise as she performed leg exercises while visiting a wildlife sanctuary in California.

‘Their shells are very thick and the animals are strong,’ insists the 51-year-old. ‘A human barely leaning on them would feel like a fly landing on their shell.

‘They live in harmony with the people who take care of them and some even stick their necks out to be caressed and massaged.’

Queen legend Brian May is determined to take to the stage again soon, despite suffering a major heart attack while gardening four months ago when the country was still in lockdown.

   

More from Sebastian Shakespeare for the Daily Mail…

‘I’ve been really sick,’ says the guitarist, 73. 

‘There was a part of it where I couldn’t even crawl across the floor. 

‘I’ve spent a lot of time thinking “this is really awful” and “how could this happen to me?”. 

‘But the other half of me is thinking: “My God — isn’t it amazing that it happened in this time, when we couldn’t play anyway?”

‘I’m on a three-month heart rehabilitation programme now.’

The band hope to perform again next spring.

Boris Johnson’s coronavirus crackdown has spelled doom for the Queen’s movie plans. Her private Sandringham estate in Norfolk has called off its drive‑in cinema.

A spokesman says: ‘We have made the decision not to hold an event that will encourage groups, families and friends from different counties, towns and cities to accumulate upon one location.’

Writing a steamy love scene in his debut novel, The Diver And The Lover, appears to have got Jeremy Vine hot under the collar — if no one else.

‘I took off the belt and braces for that one,’ the Radio 2 presenter says. ‘You have to light scented candles and maybe have a dry sherry.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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