DAISY FINER

My name is Daisy Finer and I am a freelance travel journalist who has specialised in transformative health retreats for over fifteen years. For four years I edited Conde Nast Traveller ‘s annual Spa Guide, previous to that I edited Tatler’s spa guide for seven years. I also contribute regularly to Country and Town House. Despite all the goodness in my life, like everyone I have sunny days and dark days. This project  stems from my own personal quest for the little gems in life which light the fire in my heart. SPA.Kitchen is a reflection of some strong predilections in me.  It is about sharing the wisdom and excitement of abroad, but it is also about returning to the land which we call home, to the simple comfort of a cup of tea, to a hot and scented bath. It is not solely focused on that which is new or hip, but also on age-old remedies and timeless wisdom. And we do  not promote only one way of eating. Because I believe the best kitchens, like the best massages, don’t abide by rules, instead they draw on instinct and intuition. I’d like SPA.Kitchen to be what people around the world want their kitchens to be for their families, their friends and not least themselves – a place of lively conversation, a hub of health, a shrine to beauty. It has inspired me. Hopefully it will do the same for you.

Harriet Compston
Editor-At-Large
HARRIET COMPSTON

I am SPA.Kitchen’s Editor-at-Large. Daisy and I met years ago when we were both working at Conde Nast. I am a freelance travel writer who has lived in South Africa, Berlin, Rwanda and India. I initially trained as a chef and cooking is my great escape from life. I am a hardcore veggie – Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem, The New Vegetarian by Alice Hart, The Nordic Kitchen by Claus Meyer and Salmagundi by Sally Butcher of Persepolis (an incredible Persian deli in Peckham) are my go-to cookbooks. When it comes to travel, I like to learn and be challenged even though that has sometimes led me to unstable destinations – El Salvador, Kashmir, Lebanon and recently the border of Somalia. I am a voracious reader so I am thrilled to be writing the book pages for SPA.Kitchen, covering healthy cook books, spiritual tomes and inspirational writings of all kinds. I have too many favourite books to count but to name a few: Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark by Jane Fletcher Geniesse, Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader and any work by Colm Tóibín. My first book is being published in winter 2017.

Anna Pasternak
WRITER
ANNA PASTERNAK

A fully fledged member of the chakra cognoscenti, I have been reviewing spas for twenty five years. I know my meridians from my marma points and my chi from my chia seeds. I have written about spa treatments and holistic health for the Sunday Times Style Section, Tatler, Harpers Bazaar, Conde Nast Traveller and Country & Town House. Authenticity is key for me. When I travel, I read. Books about connection nourish and nurture me. Reading them helps me connect with myself and access deep inner truths. Words that soothe your soul like a flannel on a feverish brow and descriptions of human fallibility that resonate on a cellular level save me in dark moments. Tiny, Beautiful, Things by Cheryl Strayed makes me laugh, cry and want to wail in awe. Her compassion and gifted understanding of grief is unrivalled. Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes helps me rediscover with my earthy, feisty, true self. When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron is the perfect pick-me-up when life does just that: falls apart in front of me.  A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman is pure magic. It heals through the beauty of the prose.

Clover Stroud
WRITER
CLOVER STROUD

I love travel for the perspective it gives me on my normal life as a journalist, writer and mother of five living in rural Oxfordshire, however what I really crave is the strong emotion it makes me feel in my heart and my head. My best travel has layered memory with desire in that extraordinary place where dimensions collide. Sometimes I need to travel far from home to find that: meeting a 21-year-old Buddhist monk on a snow-covered peak in Bhutan just moments before he stepped into a wooden hut to start three years, three months, three days of silent, solitary meditation reminded me in the starkest way of the existential angst of simply being a human. At other times, the “travel” is inside me, a brief flash of feeling that overlaps the past, the moment, and a glimpse of the future, such as those quiet moments between dawn and daybreak, wood pigeons outside my bedroom window, when I’m perfectly still and quiet. I am honoured to be a columnist for SPA.Kitchen where I will be writing around themes touching on desire, memory, being a mother, daughter and sister, the poignancy of the passing of time and the redemptive power of love. As a journalist I write regularly for The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Spectator, Red, Conde Nast Traveller and National Geographic Traveller, among others. My book, The Wild Other, a memoir, will be published by Hodder in February 2017.

 

Catherine Turner
WRITER
CATHERINE TURNER

My career as a journalist and editor on women’s glossies such as Easy Living and Marie Claire has allowed me to combine my love of writing with my passion for beauty and health. I turned to yoga as a way to balance my busy schedule and I have been practising for 14 years. In 2012, I headed for a remote ashram in the Himalayas to deepen my studies. Since then, I’ve been back to India three times and completed my yoga teacher training at London’s Triyoga. I now teach, travel and write for titles such as Tatler, Conde Nast Traveller, Psychologies and Porter.  Constantly trying to find balance, I love to get the most out of life – to be out socialising, knowing what’s going on in fashion, music, film, food, books and art – that’s the external. But it’s equally important to explore our inner world through silence, solitude, spending time in nature. Living a yogic life helps – each day is a new start, to meditate first thing and make the most of each and every moment. Find me @Catherineyogi

JANE ALEXANDER
WRITER
JANE ALEXANDER

I was born tangled in lotus pose to a family of karate-kickers, mantra-wailers and herb-botherers.  I tried very hard to arm-wrestle my DNA and spent several years as a music journalist (Evening Standard) and sex correspondent (ELLE) before fate gave me a stern rap across the knuckles.  I’ve been writing about holistic health, wellbeing and spiritual shenanigans ever since, scribbling the Daily Mail’s Self pages alongside features for everything from i-D to Psychologies, the Telegraph to Top Santé.  Somehow along the way I wrote over 20 books, including the bestselling Spirit of the Home , The Natural Year, The Detox Plan  and Wellbeing & Mindfulness. My remit to myself has always been to cut out the bullshit and give honest reports on what really works. Ten page spa menus or fluffy ‘rituals’ make me twitch – I like my retreats really real, my ‘journeys’ epic and my bodywork verging on the surgical. If I don’t sob cathartically into my kale smoothie I come away faintly disappointed. I’m a keen but lacklustre yogini, a slapdash meditator and a vegan who occasionally loses the plot and snuffles bacon rind.  I’m in love with deep baths, wild-floating, fire-gazing, belly-laughs, my dog’s ears, my son’s smile, kindness, honesty and those amazing moments of synchronicity and serendipity that make life so magical.   Find me at www.exmoorjane.com or flailing wildly around Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

CHLOE ROBERTS
Photographer
CHLOE ROBERTS

I am the SPA.Kitchen in-house photographer and food stylist. Daisy and I have been friends literally our whole lives and spent most weekends together as children in the countryside, raiding our parents’ vegetable gardens for midnight feasts which were usually over by 8pm. We were constantly being separated for giggling too much. We still can’t stop laughing, but these days no one can keep us apart. Daisy’s youngest daughter, Constance, is now friends with my eldest daughter Florence – such is the happy circle of life. After working in travel publishing for Rough Guides and Dorling Kindersley for eight years, I became a freelance picture editor finding beautiful images for guidebook covers. I also settled happily behind the camera capturing anything from weddings to charity projects in Rwanda, magazine lifestyle shoots and foodie gigs. My weapon of choice is my digital SLR Canon but my iPhone is swiftly taking precedence. I am a self-confessed Instagram obsessor, regularly feeding into the SPA.kitchen account. When I’m not being blown about by Hampshire’s elements whilst walking my lurcher Tinker, I’ll be hunkered down at home, in our renovation wreck, illustrating woodland creatures, editing pictures (please see my work here), watching movies and cooking whilst my husband makes things. I’m a full-time Mama to two vivacious little girls and love nothing more than a cup of tea and marmite on toast.

Xochi Balfour
WRITER
XOCHI BALFOUR

I am a wellness and holistic living author and trainee Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist. I write extensively on natural living  (for the likes of Psychologies Magazine and Huffington Post) and my website, The Naturalista, covers what, for me, are the three pillars of vitality: a balanced wholefood diet, natural skincare and living more mindfully. I believe that tending to our inner landscape is just as important for our health as well as our outer wellness, and I am a passionate explorer of all areas of spirituality and self inquiry. Together with my husband, I hold intimate wellness workshops and retreats and travel extensively within the UK and abroad to learn with teachers from a variety of traditions. I incorporate many elements in my work with clients, from sound healing and breath work to motivational coaching and steps toward cultivating a more holistic approach to living. I live in Walthamstow village where I enjoy meditating by the fire, cooking local produce and hearing the geese fly overhead. I like to read anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and will travel almost anywhere to hear the crystal singing bowls. My first book, The Naturalista: nourishing recipes to live well, is out now.

Olivia Tanner
WRITER
OLIVIA TANNER

I first met Daisy in the Tatler beauty cupboard (yes, it was possibly the world’s smallest office). I was Tatler’s Health and Beauty Director for 10 years, a job that took me literally all over the world and we instantly bonded over our love of travel and spas. My current favourite? It’s probably Schloss Elmau, a fairytale-like castle hotel tucked away in the Bavarian Alps. It’s a place you can down dog with some of the world’s best yoga teachers, ski, have a watsu floating massage in a rooftop pool and you can bring your kids. A self-confessed beauty addict, my husband nearly divorced me recently, when I arrived home with an extra suitcase of new products I found on a trend-hunting trip to Seoul.  I’m all about shifting through the science, the PR jargon and the snake oil to find out what really, really works. From the life-changing foundations that take 10 years off your face to the body cream that helps you feel better on a hangover. I want results.  Right now, I juggle my time looking after my two daughters and writing regularly on health and beauty for Conde Nast Traveller, Brides,  Boat InternationalThe EditPorter magazine and You magazine. I also consult for a number of big beauty brands. I’m thrilled to be part of the SPA.Kitchen team and look forward to sharing my latest beauty discoveries with you.

 

Lydia Bell
WRITER
LYDIA BELL

I am a writer and traveller by nature and also by trade, thankful to be paid for getting under the skin of foreign places, something I’ve been instinctively trying to do from an early age. On the spa front, over the years I’m grateful to have written for Daisy at Tatler and Condé Nast Traveller, as well as in my roles editing travel supplements for magazines including Harper’s Bazaar and House & Garden. The word ‘spa’ for me does not conjure up visions of no-end, no-point, pampering (although now and again, there’s definitely a place for it!). Instead, I have a corner of my heart reserved for medicalised gut cleansing institutions, and I love the ‘punishment’ of a bootcamp. But, most of all, I am drawn to healing, holistic havens that ignite deep, transformative change, places which gently teach you to hum to the rhythm of who you really are – the endgame of us all. Travelling above all is about connecting with other people who can show you a different way, and that might include healers, therapists and guides. In order to experience this, it is not always necessary to leave your front door. Which is why I am thrilled to be associated with Daisy Finer, a woman who understands all this more than me – and to be allowed to perch on the welcoming hearth of SPA.Kitchen, a touchstone for anyone who is a conscious work in progress, who wishes to be healthier and more free in mind, body and spirit.

Paul Rushton
WRITER
PAUL RUSHTON

I am a freelance travel, food and family writer and co-founder of the Balance Plan, where we share sweetest, simplest pleasures and celebrate the richness sprung from humility and an open spirit. I am driven by dedicated and oft-neglected process; seasonal, culinary, natural and human; by growing and making from scratch rather than buying, and by the symbiosis we may enjoy with nature and people the world over if we are humble, kind and instinctive. As a traveller and travel writer I like the path grown-over and the journey that does not dirty. I am happiest with the sparse and the simple, where subtle, elemental pleasures can be sensed and I can truly be in a place, minimally encumbered by human luggage. My love of travel which transports, cultural immersion and good, honest, fragrant food are inextricable; both are tantalising and medicinal. I am a hungry reader and writer, patient allotment tender and an intuitive cook, passionate about intelligent spicing and reclaiming our learning from salespeople and vested interest. Most of all I am a husband and a father to two wild and wonderful girls and janitor to our 200-year-old Kentish cottage, each of which ensures that every memorable journey is balanced by a joyful return.

Abi Carver
Yoga
ABI CARVER

I am a Yoga Alliance certified yoga instructor and a National Academy of Sports Medicine qualified personal trainer. Daisy and I met in Mallorca years ago and kept in touch through our mutual love of travel and writing. I have just launched a yoga app for the iPhone and iPad with 100+ videos to get you fit, strong and supple in 15 minutes a day. You can watch more of my videos here . I try to teach my clients how to eat and exercise in a way that gives them inexhaustible energy to spend on themselves and others. I know how hard it can be and have terrible willpower when it comes to yummy foods, so I keep my fridge squeaky clean and save treats for eating out with friends. My motto is buy fresh, organic and unprocessed. I also keep to a super simple meal structure – vegetables + ethically-raised animal protein + healthy fats + flavourings. My staples are butter, coconut oil, olive oil, local cheese, natural yogurt, eggs (goose are my favourite), sardines, vinegars, mustards, spices, dried herbs, olives, nut butters, water and coconut water. I stock the freezer with lamb, beef, chicken, fish and liver. Then every day I buy fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs of every colour in the rainbow, whatever is in season. I find being in nature, knee deep in soil, nibbling on herbs and edible flowers deeply therapeutic and meditative. And one thing I always have in my fridge is my avocado and jasmine moisturiser. It smells good enough to eat!

Alice Cowen And Dana Verbytska
FITNESS
ALICE COWEN AND DANA VERBYTSKA
We are both personal trainers and mothers of two children. We met at a gym in London 15 years ago and have been close friends ever since.  Sport and fitness have always played a central part in our lives. Alice was a rising young horse eventer and has played competitive tennis and hockey for many years. Dana spent her childhood in Eastern Europe where she became 100m hurdles junior champion of Ukraine. We both have built  successful careers in the fitness industry specialising in pre- and post-natal training, structural integration, yoga, Pilates and athletic training. Our aim is to help our clients achieve their goals and bring a positive change in their lifestyle. We are motivated to motivate and believe that everyone needs to learn to love and appreciate their bodies.