28 07 17

There is an ongoing debate on whether you need a Master’s degree or not. A recent study revealed those who pursued Master’s degrees in the highest-paying fields come from affluent families. Paying for the fees can be a huge setback.

One effective way to knock off some costs on your graduate degree is to consider distance learning. Try to learn more about USC’s online MPH degree and other Master’s degree courses the university offers.

Why do you need a graduate degree? Here are five reasons:

  1.    Get a salary bump

Professionals with a Master’s degree are getting higher paychecks than those who only hold a bachelor’s degree. The biggest salary bump for Master’s degree holders are in the following fields: Computer Science, Economics, Finance, Chemistry, and Electrical Engineering. With a salary increase ranging from $26,000 to $30,000, opportunities for graduate students are quite impressive.

  1.    Take advantage of employer reimbursement programs

If you are employed, getting a graduate degree is attainable since there are many employers who are offering financial help to employees who pursue higher education.

  1.    Meet like-minded people who might play a crucial role in your success

Getting a graduate degree is all about networking. Meeting like-minded professionals could expose you to better opportunities. In a world where knowing the right people opens doors, there’s no better place to build your connections than at the university setting.

  1.    Dig deeper into your area of interest

Getting a graduate degree is quite different from an undergraduate degree since you can explore your interests at a deeper level. This is the perfect time to pursue the areas in your field that you have always been interested in.

  1.    Perfect opportunity to change careers

Getting a master’s degree in a related field makes it easier for you to pursue your dream job because it enhances your resume. Even if you have a demanding job, you can always study online.

If you have always been interested in taking a higher position in a government agency, for instance, you can learn how you can obtain a Master’s in public administration online. Plus, your expanded network could help you get into the company or agency you want. Remember, referrals are always the best way to get hired if you change careers. This is another reason you need to put in a lot of effort in building your network.

10 07 17

The summer sales might have started everywhere else, but next week Amazon will be unveiling its Prime Day and if you’re an avid bargain hunter, you will be in your element. It kicks off at 6pm on Monday 10th July. In the meantime, here’s everything you need to know…

What is Amazon Prime Day?

Every year Amazon offers huge discounts across all of its channels. This year the site is also trying to entice new customers to become paid-up members by giving them £20 off Amazon Prime subscriptions until midnight.

What were the best deals last year?

If you were quick on your feet last year you could pick up an Oral-B Pro 6000 CrossAction Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush with Bluetooth Connectivity for £55.99, reduced down from £229.99. Fragrance was also another good area to grab a bargain. Beyonce’s fragrance was reduced to just £9.99, while Cerutti 1881 Homme Eau de Toilette was £13.77.

Which are the best fashion and beauty deals to look out for?

While Amazon is being coy about which products will be discounted, it’s worth looking at the brands on the site ahead on Tuesday, so you’ll fully prepared.

One deal that Amazon has announced ahead of this evening’s start time is up to 30pc off a variety of Real Techniques beauty products, including this Core Collection Kit at a mere £8.29.

As we mentioned, fragrance is usually heavily discounted. We’re predicting Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein and Paco Rabanne could be in the mix. Gadgets, including LED Photon Therapy 7 Color Light Treatment Masks could also be discounted in keeping with the trend for high-tech at-home beauty.

In terms of fashion finds, we recommend keeping your eyes peeled for shoes – both Nike and Aldo are likely to be offering significant discounts and Amazon wields a covetable supply of different styles from both brands. And look out for watches too. With any luck Gucci’s large accessories offering is about to become infinitely more affordable.

10 07 17

When it comes to sorting out your summer wardrobe – or adding to it – the blouse should be top of your list. The current best-selling sort is ruffled, often to a theatrical (read: impractical) extreme: think ruffles rendering sleeves too big for your jacket, or protruding from across busts in ‘buxom barmaid’ fashion. I’m steering clear in favour of an all together subtler sort of frill: the pie-crust collar. So named because, well, it looks like the fluted edge of your best baking, these are frills without a hint of flamenco – probably for the best if you’re wearing them to nip to the shops.

The frilled collar most likely owes its existence to the starched ruffs of Elizabethan costume. Lacier Edwardian styles came back into vogue in the late 1960’s – Charlotte Rampling wore…

10 07 17

My only child, Allegra, is 15. ‘Oh no!’ friends cry. ‘A teenager. How are you coping?’ I look at them but I don’t know what to say. I am embarrassed to speak the truth. Our story is so completely different to theirs. The tantrums, punishments, anger and tears that I raged through with my own mother, simply don’t exist. I don’t think they ever will.

That’s because five years ago, I hurt and broke her.

I was diagnosed with a very strange and rare cancer in my eye, which then spread to the lymph in my neck. The news altered the delicate fabric of Allegra’s evolving character from carefree little girl to heartbroken adolescent. She fast-tracked from sweet to cynical overnight. It taught me a fundamental lesson about human nature: don’t lie to protect feelings, even when you think someone can’t handle it. Just be honest.

She was just 10 when it happened. It seemed unthinkable to tell her the truth. I had an operation to remove a tumour from the inner corner of my eye; spidery black stitches snaked from my eyebrow down the side of my nose. It was a blocked tear duct, I told her, nothing to worry about. Chemo and radiation were not starting for a few weeks, so we went on holiday to Ibiza as planned.

Her ignorance of my illness hung over me like a sentence. On our last night at dinner, just Allegra, my husband and me, she uttered the C-word. It came out of nowhere; like a sniper’s bullet. Had she guessed? I had meticulously avoided any mention of it.

I jumped. ‘Oh yes, Mummy has a little bit of that,’ I immediately blurted out, relieved to be thrown a scrap. ‘But it’s all OK, it’s out now.’ I can still feel my heart thumping like it did that night, violently shaking me to my core. She was confused, curious; she furrowed her brow. I don’t know how much she understood.

What happened next is a blur. I had treatment, I was crazed from the chemo, so badly burnt by the radiation I wore a hooded parka when I picked her up from school. But as my scars, both mental and physical, subsided, I became her mother again.

When a friend threw a party in the country to celebrate my recovery, Allegra asked if she could make a speech. I expected something loving and cute. We all sat feeling stunned as she spoke words filled with pain and anger. I felt shame, but also heartbreaking sadness. She wasn’t yet 11. What had I done to her?

I can’t let go of how I stopped a character so full of joy and fun dead in her tracks

A few days later, I found out the cancer had spread to the lymph in my neck. I can barely write about what she saw next, what she witnessed.

This time I was more open. But of course, it destroyed her a little bit more.

So the child I gave birth to, the innocent little slip who laughed every day, who sang to flowers, talked to her fingers and kept snails as pets, changed overnight into a watchful, guarded stranger. I can’t let go of what I inflicted on her, how I stopped a character so full of joy, mischief, lightness and fun, dead in her tracks. Now, even though I am coming up to five years clear of cancer, she still watches over me.

I fly to the US on business – ‘Text me the minute you land,’ she says. I am tired – ‘Go to bed, Mama.’ She asks me if I have had my tests. This is not how it should be, I tell her. ‘It’s the way it is,’ she says, those big brown eyes now so much wiser than mine.

I feel every second of my life elapsing. Not because I am getting older, but because I just want to be alive for her, to teach her everything I know, just in case.

So now there are daily mantras: ‘Be kind, don’t judge,’ ‘Remember someone always has a story,’ ‘Even when you think you know it all, think again,’ ‘Always tip,’ ‘Write thank-you letters,’ ‘Brush your teeth.’ Allegra laughs at my inculcations. She doesn’t need me to tell her anything. She is omniscient, like the brave heroine in The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen. She has that fortitude.

Now nothing is secret between us. Boys, first kisses, alcohol-related ‘incidents’, a puff of a cigarette. We discuss her love life forensically, as if examining a police case. She has no idea how much I love this.

I never did it with my mother. I often notice that same distance between my girlfriends and their daughters – I know what they have is more regular, that we are unusual. In a perverse way, I also know I have a lot to thank cancer for: beautiful honesty with my child.

We talk about sex – not in a prurient or salacious way, I am just careful not to sugar-coat, conceal or obfuscate. I never want her to feel embarrassed by it. When there’s a sex scene on TV, we don’t change channel or squirm. (Well, maybe a little bit.) I tell her endlessly that I’m fine if she’s into girls. ‘I’m not gay!’ she bellows. But it’s cool if you are, I bellow back.

I never pretend we are friends; I am still her mother. But cancer has blurred our roles, and in a way we are now more like sisters

She’s now at boarding school. She wanted to go. I kept the deep loss I felt during those first few months to myself. If she felt the same, she didn’t let on. I think it’s been good for both of us – to get some distance, to release that watchful pressure we had over one another. She calls every evening. She looks forward to our weekends.

On Saturday nights when she should be trawling for parties and boys, she stays in for a movie night with her parents, arguing about what we’re going to watch and where our takeaway should come from.

If I’m going out, she tells me if my mascara is smudged, my dress is wrong or my knicker-line is showing. I love that she does that. But she has never said, ‘You look ridiculous, don’t say that, don’t wear that, you embarrass me.’

I never pretend we are friends; I am still her mother. But cancer has blurred our roles, and in a way we are now more like sisters – a relationship neither of us, only-children that we both are, ever thought we would experience.

I’m just the older, wiser one, I tell her. ‘Barely,’ she says.

10 07 17

My friend Leora, an oncology researcher with a PhD in biochemistry, was 34 when she decided to freeze her eggs last year. She wasn’t panicked that she wouldn’t find a man. Nor was she bothered about when she’d get round to starting a family.

“Whether or not I use the eggs, mentally it put me in a far better place to relax and get on with my life,” she told me after the procedure.

Her newly relaxed demeanour was rather sexy, and within about three months she met someone great and they moved in together. Babies will come, but only after she nails an important promotion at work.

Leora’s story is not unusual. To date, only six per cent of women have used the eggs they’ve frozen (only half of these have been able to get pregnant with them). Over a third have become pregnant naturally, according to the study of women aged between 27 and 42 published in Human Reproduction earlier this year. And the rest have clearly found other alternatives.

With so few women actually using their eggs, the hysterical reports last week about the popularity of the procedure among a ‘leftover generation’ of women who can’t find a man good enough to have a baby with appear slightly insane. Egg freezing is clearly a useful outlet for women – even if its comforts turn out to be psychological rather than practical. But are we really at a reproductive crisis point?

I suspect not. Alarm bells rang loud and clear when I read that women are taking ‘desperate steps’ because of a ‘missing generation’ of ‘eligible men’. Is this not simply version 2.0 of that old chestnut – aired so strenuously in the 70s, 80s and 90s  – that women who choose careers over the joys of hearth and home will suffer?

‘Man shortages and barren wombs: the myths of the backlash’. So begins chapter two of Susan Faludi’s 1992 Pulitzer Prize-winning Backlash. With female educational attainment and career achievements both rocketing, Faludi pinpointed a widespread ‘backlash’ against women that was designed to make them feel like crap: guilty, anxious and unattractive.

The main weapon in this assault was women’s fertility and, by association, their romantic status. With their high-falutin’ degrees and professional ambition, it was no wonder that men were declining to put a ring on it, in Beyonce’s hallowed words.

The crux of it was this.  Based on a number of half-baked or misinterpreted studies, it became a truism that a ‘crisis’ was underway as more and more women were remaining single and/or delaying child-bearing either by choice or chance. Outrage and panic was peddled on TV and in print. Who would have the babies? And, so the subtext went, who would nurture the menfolk?

But the grimmest effect of all was to be seen in the unmarried women themselves.  They were, so the theory went, becoming miserable wrecks, winding up depressed, unfulfilled, alone and brooding over expensive martinis in their posh flats while dreaming of a clutch of babies.

Admittedly, the terms of debate about the current female reproductive disaster story have improved. Previously, the barely-disguised moral of the story was that women should jolly well stop disrespecting their biology by having careers instead of children in their 20s and 30s.

Now at least the academic who produced the report admits that if the problem is a lack of eligible men, we should be trying to get men better educated, not only expecting women to lower their standards, though, she said, women may need to rethink their criteria. (The idea that women are too picky is another chestnut that’s had a good roll around over the past 35 years or so. One recent example is Lori Gottleib’s 2010 bestseller Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough).

After the generational massacre of World War One, there really was a man shortage – one million fewer men than women of marriageable age in Britain. Today, the argument is on far shakier ground. People like Leora are not freezing their eggs because of men. They’re doing it for themselves, because they can: they’ve got financial independence, a range of life options and best of all, control over their reproductive futures. That so many women are freezing their eggs isn’t a sign of crisis: it’s something that could be celebrated. Women are flexing their psychological and economic independence, not succumbing to a desolate wasteland of man shortages or barren wombs.

10 07 17

The Roman poet Horace said a play should not be shorter or longer than five acts. The German scholar Gustav Freytag defined those acts for the modern age. As Theresa May is poised to mark her first year as Prime Minister, most would agree that it has been quite a remarkable 12 months – in five acts she has manged to produce a true drama.

Act I: The Exposition

The protagonist is introduced

It is now hard to remember, yet vital to recall, that Theresa May took the Tory crown not by triumph but by default. Every other claimant removed himself or herself from contention: David Cameron quit after failing over Europe. Boris Johnson quit after failing to convince Michael Gove he was serious about Brexit. Andrea Leadsom quit after failing to realise that common decency demands you don’t try to score political points over the fact that someone doesn’t have children.

10 07 17

Dior, which celebrates its 70th birthday this year, has archives so deep and broad that they can be re-interpreted any which way. John Galliano, a previous incumbent at the house, pursued the fantasy element – the spirit Christian Dior encapsulated in 1947 when he designed a wasp-waisted suit that gobbled up as many as 80 metres of silk at a time when even rayon was rationed in some countries.

But Christian Dior wasn’t just some deluded “let them wear ballgowns” megalomaniac  “A complete collection should address all types of women in all countries,” Dior wrote in his second autobiography in 1956. Ok, he was sufficiently megalomaniacal to assume the world wanted to read all about him – twice.

And at least some of it did. Dior created not just a look but a language, from full skirts and nipped in jackets; neat, business- like lapels to romantic shawl necklines; extravagant bows to small kitten heels; day-time tweeds to sweeping ballgowns. Like all the designers of his time, he proffered an entire wardrobe for wealthy women of elevated taste. He had to. Designers still made most of their money from selling clothes back then.

It’s this facet of Dior that Maria Grazia Chiuri, now almost a year into her role as Dior’s first female creative director is tapping into. It was Chiuri who brought up that quote in the first place and plopped it at the forefront of this autumn/winter couture collection’s programme notes – quite a bold move. Did she succeed?

The broiling heat – the show was in the open air in a courtyard of Les Invalides and it seems Louis XIV did not believe in shade  wasn’t ideal for Chiuri’s ankle grazing hounds-tooth skirts, Tudor neck-lined velvet dresses or sheepskin trimmed jumpsuits.

But who knew Paris would be this hot? Or that the diamonds liberally dappling a client seated opposite me would reflect the sun’s rays like a giant disco ball, making it hard to see anything at times. On close inspection however, these clothes are stunning, cleverly matched to original outfits by Dior himself. The opener – a belted jacket and long dirndl in dark grey serge wool with flat brogues, based on a 1953 design was almost Victorian and one of many respectful yet thorough overhauls of archival pieces. Broken into each element – the jacket worn with jeans the skirt with a t-shirt or cashmere – the appeal to many women in many countries becomes apparent.

Chiuri’s is a new, understated Dior. One with aviator jackets and wool all in ones. One where the details reveal themselves gradually: the glistening beads hand stitched onto the knife-edge pleats of a skirt where they looked like frosted icing, the yoked capes of jumpsuits, the gathered Dior-esque pockets worn at the back or the ghostly tracing of tarot cards (something of an obsession of Dior’s) embroidered onto a coat . As for the commercial catnip for which Chiuri is becoming noted: those skinny knotted belts, the jackets, stripped of their lapels to become an elegant, easy hybrid- blouse, low alligator kitten heels, gossamer voile maxi skirts and perfectly proportioned trilbies should more than do the trick.

10 07 17

Simply because it’s Sunday, here are 16 amazing facts and fun tales about Britain’s churches and cathedrals…

Britain’s spookiest churches

There can’t be many more unsettling places of worship that the crypt at the 11th-century church of St Leonard in Hythe, Kent, which is home to more than 1,000 human skulls. One theory claims that they are the remains of “Danish pirates slain in a battle”; another that they are from “men who fell in the Battle of Hastings”.

Equally spooky are the ruins of Knowlton Church in Dorset (pictured), built within a neolithic henge monument. Knowlton was once a thriving town, but was wiped out by the Black Death, and the church is reputedly haunted. Some have reported seeing a phantom horse and rider, others a ghostly face atop the church tower.

10 07 17

When Gabriel García Márquez penned One Hundred Years of Solitude in 1967 he probably didn’t imagine that, 50 years later, a secluded, cut-off town like his novel’s mythical Macondo would be one of a dying breed. These days Amazonian tribes know David Beckham, Mount Everest has high-speed Wi-Fi and we’re always connected to other people – on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – even when we are physically by ourselves.

A hundred years of solitude? Most of us would be happy if we could find 100 minutes. Solitude is the state of being alone, but not of loneliness; that luxury of time and space spent free from external pressures, to just think or be. Solitude is the positive side of isolation; a restorative break from our busy, bustling, overloaded world. By removing yourself from your routine, it is so much easier to disconnect. Travelling somewhere away from the grind, even if you’re still surrounded by people, can give you the opportunity to be with you.

You might find a sense of perspective by hiking a long-distance trail or gazing up at the stars. You might tackle a physical or mental health issue at a wellness retreat. You might decide on a solo holiday or choose to join like-minded others for communal solitude-seeking. Or you might find your place of peace in an old monastery, an empty desert or eyeballing the last of a species.

There are many ways to find solitude, as the following pages show. Just don’t leave it 100 years to try.
Splendid isolation

Many studies show contact with nature can reduce stress and improve mental health. For a beneficial getaway, visit some of the planet’s truly wild places.

1. Wild camp in Scotland

Find solitude for free by sleeping out in the wilderness. Wild camping is legal in most of Scotland and much of Dartmoor. The Brecon Beacons produces a list of farms that welcome campers, or for an extreme escape try Vatersay Bay, on the remote Outer Hebridean isle of Vatersay, where the daring can pitch by the beach and take an invigorating dip in the water the next morning.


2. Dangle off Wales

To dial your wild camping up to 11, opt for a glorified hammock hanging from a cliff face. Gaia Adventures’ vertiginous overnighter involves a few hours spent climbing on the cliffs of Anglesey or near Snowdonia before abseiling down to a suspended porta-ledge to watch an unobstructed sunset. After a hot dinner, drift off with the waves pounding below.


3. Go north in Norway

Norway’s allemannsretten (everyman’s right) allows wild camping anywhere that isn’t private property. To take that to the extreme, explore the Svalbard archipelago on Gane and Marshall’s five-day Into the Arctic with Alan Chambers trip. This far-out-there expedition includes snowmobiling, an explorer-style ski trek and a night under canvas on ice roamed by polar bears.


4. Pace in Patagonia

Chile’s Aysen Glacier Trail is as wild and remote as it gets. Hiked by about 30 people a year, it requires a five-hour 4WD and boat ride just to reach the trailhead. And it’s totally off-grid – only satellite phones work here. The pay-off? Magnificent walking via valleys, old-growth forest and ice caps, with camps set up each night. Swoop Patagonia offers a 10-day trip.


5. Make for Mongolia

The Kazakh eagle hunters of the Altai Mountains live in a permanent state of pseudo isolation, continuing their nomadic traditions far from towns, roads and mobile reception. Black Tomato’s seven-night Eagles and Nomads in Mongolia trip joins them. Stay in gers, help with chores – from rounding up camels to making yak-milk vodka – and venture into the peaks on foot or horseback to watch trained birds soar.

6. Be outnumbered by bears

In parts of Russia’s far east, you’ll meet more bears than people: the isolated Kamchatka Peninsula has the planet’s highest density of brown bears, not to mention 300 volcanoes. Secret Compass’s 15-day Kamchatka expedition aims to get you to the summit of the wilder peaks. There are no porters – you must carry all your supplies for the 112-mile (180km) trek through Klyuchevskoy Nature Park.

7. Go bush in Botswana

Find total seclusion, and test your bush nous, by renting a fully equipped safari vehicle for a self-drive adventure across the very wild wilds of Botswana. Wild Wheels hires 4WDs complete with barbecue, fridge freezer and comfortable rooftop tent; safety equipment and support is provided. A tailored trip might find you camping alone along the Chobe and Zambezi rivers, and tracking game in the Okavango Delta.

8. Circumnavigate a deserted isle

Mexico’s Espíritu Santo Island is home to rare black jackrabbits and a sea lion colony – but no people. Journey Latin America’s 11-day Active Mexico: Camping and Kayaking in Baja California trip includes an eight-day journey around it, paddling alongside rugged cliffs, hiking the canyon-riven interior and camping on empty beaches.

9. Get lost in Alaska

Wrangell-St Elias National Park, the USA’s largest protected area, comprises more than 13 million acres of river-threaded, glacier-licked, grizzly-patrolled wilderness. Grand American Adventures’ 14-day Alaskan Adventure includes two days off-gridding in the park and exploring the whale-filled Kenai Fjords.

10. Nip off to Nicaragua

You’ll lose the crowds even on Granada’s colonial streets. But Last Frontiers’ 12-night Alternative Nicaragua trip also includes a stay on Calala, a tiny isle with four beach bungalows, marooned off the Caribbean coast. The resort opened in March, and is ideal for kayaking, snorkelling and seafood in sun-drenched solitude.

From £4,070pp based on two sharing, including flights; lastfrontiers.com


Refresh your brain on a trip geared towards mental well-being – from stays in spiritual centres to detox retreats.

11. Seek quietude in Quebec

The Hôtel-Dieu de Québec monastery, built in the 17th century, housed the first hospital on the continent north of Mexico. In 2016 its cloisters reopened as Le Monastère des Augustines, a non-profit wellness hotel that continues the healing tradition with activities such as silent “vitality breakfasts”, yoga and mindful eating. The Ultimate Travel Company offers tailor-made Quebec trips.

A night in the monastery costs from CAD$84pp (£50); monastere.ca/en; theultimatetravelcompany.co.uk

12. Get spiritual in Japan

The mist-swirled peak of Mount Koya, the seat of Shingon Buddhism for 1,200 years, is laced with pilgrim trails and peaceful temples. Inside Japan’s 14-night Pilgrim’s Paths Self-Guided Adventure includes a stay at a shukubo (temple lodging), where you live like a pilgrim, sleeping on tatami mats and joining morning prayers before following one of the world’s oldest pilgrimage routes.

13. Go under in Grenada

Spiritual posturing and sub-aqua solitude meet at True Blue Bay. This bright’n’quirky resort offers a scuba yoga programme, which includes land-based sessions and open water yoga dives. A short meditation is held on deck before you flop in for floating poses and yogic breathing exercises, which can reduce air consumption and allow longer stays underwater. Trailfinders offers a seven-night package at True Blue Bay.

14. Develop in the Dales

1If you’re new to it, wellness can be stressful – where to start? Maybe with H F Holidays’ three-night Mind & Body Weekend at Malhamdale in Yorkshire which includes six taster sessions in everything from Pilates and Nordic walking to laughter yoga. Based at Newfield Hall, a stately 19th-century pile in rolling countryside, guests can opt to be sociable at dinner, join evening wellness activities or stride over the Yorkshire Dales alone.

From £305pp, departing October 13; hfholidays.co.uk

15. Yomp with a yogi

The remote Indian Himalaya is an excellent place to get away from it all. Try an eight-day Head in the Clouds Journey with Shakti Himalaya, walking through the Ladakh foothills from village to non-touristy village, stopping at markets and monasteries, and sleeping in gorgeous guesthouses along the way.

16. Find tranquillity in Tasmania

Northern Tasmania is wild and remote. Flinders Island, 34 miles (55km) offshore, is even more so. Here you will find 80-odd empty beaches and the Mountain Seas Retreat, with its art studio, hot springs and more wombats than people. Combine a stay honing your painting or writing skills with the Bay of Fires Walk back on the mainland, a three-night glamp-tramp through virtually inaccessible Mount William National Park. Tasmanian Odyssey tailor-makes trips.

17. Have a regal retreat

Formerly a royal summer house, Skodsborg Kurhotel nestles alongside a nature reserve north of Copenhagen and was named Europe’s best wellness spa at the 2016 World Luxury Hotel Awards. New this year are a trio of three-day health retreats: De-tox, De-age and De-stress. The latter focuses on finding joy in the moment and includes a nutritional consultation, stress coaching and invigorating ocean swims from the private jetty.

18. Safari and stretch in Kenya

Downward Dogs meet rare species on Yoga By Candace’s eight-night Safari Yoga Retreat. Based at Kenya’s 90,000-acre Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the trip packs in eight yoga workshops – a mix of strength-building vinyasa and restorative yoga – as well as twice-daily game drives to search for elephants, cheetahs, lions and leopards, plus the chance to see three of the world’s last northern white rhinos.

19. Discover festival bliss

Seek “solitude” in the company of others. Austria’s Mountain Yoga Festival (August 31-September 3) is held amid the invigorating alpine pastures of St Anton, and is a chance to flex and relax in the mountain air with like-minded wellness seekers. The programme includes alfresco meditation, health hikes, expert talks and yoga classes for all levels.

20. Get personal in Greece

Luxurious rejuvenation awaits on a seven-day Good Things Come to Those Who Sweat package at Crete’s adults-only five-star Domes Noruz Chania. Stay in one of the retreat’s new “wellness lofts”, two-floor hideaways with added health-boosting elements: a vitality mini bar, spa goodies, Jacuzzis and outdoor exercise space. Included are a personal trainer one-on-one, a massage and an outdoor yoga session. Or opt for a head-clearing hike down Crete’s Samaria Gorge.

21. Rebalance in Sri Lanka

Tucked into Sri Lanka’s lush, mountainous tea country, Santani is a good place to press reset. The intimate, eco-friendly resort offers a variety of healing programmes; Health and Fitness Travel’s seven-night Rebalancing Bliss break includes deep tissue massage, group yoga, guided hikes, access to the thermal saltwater pools, raw “cooking” classes and personal wellness consultations, plus diet plans to help you live better after you return home.

22. Enjoy new lake-luxe

Opened in spring 2017 amid the dramatic Italian Dolomites, Seehof Nature Retreat mixes mountain air and alpine wellness with world-class wine and food. Sink into the lakeside spa (Finnish sauna, Roman steam baths, indoor and outdoor pools), join a morning walk or stretching session, concoct a bespoke juice at the free gourmet “supermarket” or get away from everyone on the region’s 373 miles (600km) of cycle trails.

Me, me, me

Travelling solo with no familiar faces or places as distractions gives you the time to get to know yourself more intimately, and do what you’ve always wanted, no compromises.

23. Work yourself out

Gazing out at the Mediterranean from the Costa Blanca hills, the chic SHA Wellness Clinic offered by Healing Holidays has tailored programmes to deal with issues such as stress and weight loss, combining Eastern, traditional and scientific therapies with activities such as t’ai chi and cooking lessons. Healthy macrobiotic meals come courtesy of an El Bulli-trained chef.

24. Cleanse in the Caribbean

There’s no part of yourself you can’t sort out at the BodyHoliday in St Lucia: this all-inclusive resort by Destinology has a ridiculously long menu of activities – from spin classes to sunset yoga, windsurfing to beach boot camp, dance-fit to meditation. September is solos month, with hosted dinners and singles-specific events.

25. Get unstuck in Spain

Let a private life coach get you out of a rut with an intensive three-night one-on-one in rural Andalucia. Based at a glorious boutique guesthouse in a whitewashed Alpujarran village, coach Jessica McGregor Johnson tailors retreats to each client with the aim of working through issues and finding a way forward in just two days.

Retreats cost £2,730, excluding flights; jessicamcgregorjohnson.com

26. Spa solo

Enrol on Spa Breaks’ seven-night Solo Banish, Balance, Boost programme for tips to tweak your well-being. It’s based at the boutique-style Capsis Elite Resort, which sits amid the olive trees and bright bougainvillea of an Aegean-lapped peninsula in Crete. The week includes group discussions, yoga, raw food preparation and access to a hydrotherapy pool, sauna and steam room.

27. Isolate yourself in Italy

Find solitude, monk-style, by retiring to a stone-walled cell in the Umbrian countryside. Eremito’s 14 “celluzze” with wrought-iron beds and hemp sheets are inspired by 14th-century hermitages. There’s no television or phone reception; vegetarian meals are eaten in silence, by candlelight; after listening to Gregorian chants and meditating.

28. Have a Thai treat

Solace-seeking solos are spoilt at Koh Samui’s Kamalaya Sanctuary, an inspirational wellness resort tucked in a tropical ravine and centred on a Buddhist cave temple. Those seeking guidance should try the Embracing Change programme, which includes private sessions with life mentors as well as holistic treatments, meditation, yoga, Thai massage and largely vegan food.

29. Rent a cottage for one

Head to Derbyshire for a stay at Blakelow Farm’s old pigsty. Now converted from its porcine past, quiet and characterful Chestnut Cottage sleeps just one – ideal if you want alone-time in idyllic countryside. It has its own kitchen and terrace; chickens peck outside and Chatsworth is visible over the hills. There are fine walks to Winster village and across the dales.


A 2016 Ofcom report found the average adult spends almost one day per week online, while 59 per cent of people consider themselves addicted to devices. Take a step back from the digital world by going off-grid.

30. Make like a monk

Burma’s internet penetration is 22 per cent, so you can be fairly sure of getting off-grid on a three-day trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake, through the traditional villages and lush hills of Shan state. Selective Asia’s 17-day Myanmar Explorer trip includes the hike plus a Buddhist monastery stay, where your “alarm clock” is the monks’ 5am chant.


31. Be ordered offline

In North Korea, tourists aren’t allowed online. Foreign mobiles don’t work; local SIM cards are expensive and unreliable. Consider yourself completely cut off. Regent Holidays’ Pioneering North Korea Group Tour delves deep into the world’s most solitary country, chartering an aircraft to access rarely visited areas of this secretive nation, including the cities of Chongjin and Hamhung, and Mount Paektu, Korea’s highest peak.

32. Unplug on Argyll

Embrace the “joy of missing out” at one of Sykes Cottages’ 10 “JOMO”-designated bolt-holes. All are free from Wi-Fi, phone signal and digital distractions. Try the 19th-century stone cottage of 33 Easdale Island. Tiny Easdale, in the Inner Hebrides, is car-free and focused on simple pleasures – such as September’s annual World Stone Skimming Championships.

33. Switch off in Slovenia

K E Adventure’s eight-day Across the Julian Alps to Triglav small-group, hut-to-hut hike is a splendid way to leave the world behind, exploring Europe’s most dramatic but lesser-tramped mountains, including a chance to summit Slovenia’s highest peak. Trips run July-September, but to go fully off-grid join the 2017 Digital Detox Departure (July 22) on which mobile phones are confiscated.

34. Get lost in the Yukon

The Yukon in Canada is prime digital detox territory: 80 per cent of it is Wi-Fi-free and visitors are far too busy having their jaws dropped by the wildlife and scenery to be on their phones. Canadian Affair offers a 10-night In The Footsteps of the Yukon Pioneers self-drive that hits the wild Alaska Highway, delves into First Nations and gold-rush heritage, and explores the wild trails, lakes and forests of Kluane National Park.

35. Stay away from signals

There are no TVs, phones or Wi-Fi in any of the 200-odd UK properties owned by the Landmark Trust. Frenchman’s Creek, a pale-yellow cottage tucked into woodland on a secretive side-channel of Cornwall’s Helford River, feels more cut-off than most (yet is only a mile from the nearest pub). It’s solitude made stone, and might spark your creative side; the cottage has inspired literary types including Daphne du Maurier.

Four nights from £282; landmarktrust.org.uk

36. Detox in paradise

On Denis private island in the Seychelles, there are no televisions, phones or in-room internet, just a handful of cottages scattered between the coconut palms on this tiny speck in the ocean. You’re not entirely alone: the waters teem with fish, the trees harbour some of the Seychelles’ rarest endemic birds and the beaches are frequented by nesting green and hawksbill turtles. Carrier offers seven-night all-inclusive stays.

37. Hand in your handset

At Healthouse Las Dunas, a luxe wellness retreat on the Andalusian coast, your mobile stays locked in the safe during its two-night Digital Detox break. The programme includes life-coaching sessions to help set goals and form healthy habits, relaxation and exercise classes, nutrition consultations, spa treatments, yoga and Nordic walking.

38. Commune with nature

Stay at Sweden’s most simple forest hotel to go back to basics. Kolarbyn Eco-lodge offered by Discover the World has no electricity or running water; its 12 turf-topped huts are lit by candles. Chop wood, cook over a fire and sleep on sheepskin rugs after days of canoeing, wildlife-watching and relaxing in the floating sauna.

At one with nature

Spend time amid the enormity of mountains and deserts, sleeping under galaxies of stars to give yourself a fresh sense of perspective.

39. Cross a country

The new Jordan Trail runs 402 miles (647km) north to south – slowly taking in the whole country. To hike the lot, via Dana Biosphere Reserve, rock-hewn Petra, other-worldly Wadi Rum and the little-explored areas in between, takes about 40 days. For a wild taster, try an eight-day guided Walks Worldwide Bedouin Trail to Petra hike that includes magnificent, makes-you-feel-small mountain and desert scenery and remote camping beneath the stars.

40. Look to the heavens

Nothing puts you in your place like looking up at the infinity of space. And one of the best locations for doing just that in the UK is Northumberland, home to England’s largest, wildest and most sparsely populated national park, and a designated International Dark Sky Park. Battlesteads Hotel at Wark, near Hexham, is a sustainability-focused “stay and gaze” site with its own observatory that offers drop-in astronomy sessions, talks, activities and astrophotography courses.

41. Take a big hike

A really long walk, when all you need think about is putting one foot in front of the next, allows plenty of thinking time. The truly committed hiker can tackle Celtic Trails’ “walking sabbatical” along the entire Welsh Coast Path – an 80-day, 870-mile (1,400km) expedition. With B&Bs booked and luggage transferred by the company, you’re free to concentrate on the ever-changing views of every cliff, cove, castle, mountain and sandy bay between Chester and Chepstow.

42. Make a peaceful pilgrimage

According to Camino Ways, one of the main reasons people walk the famed route to Spain’s Santiago de Compostela is to get away from daily life and connect with nature. Most peregrinos walk from southern France to the Galician city, but for a more peaceful pilgrimage, with no-less-spectacular scenery than the most popular path, Camino Ways suggests the lesser-used Portuguese Coastal Way, a sacred strand linking Porto and Santiago.

43. Paddle the wilderness

Nature rules in New Zealand, so being at-one with it is pretty easy. Find extra solitude by following the 90-mile (145km) Whanganui Journey, one of the country’s “Great Hikes” that is only accessible by boat. Kayak along the Whanganui River, passing untouched forest, steep canyon sides, little rapids and areas rich in Maori legend, free from phone beeps and television twitter. Canoe Safaris runs five-day guided trips, including camping along the riverbank.

44. Delve into deserts

Not just evocative by name, Oman’s vast Empty Quarter is surreally spectacular and barely visited. This is the domain of fiery sunsets, shifting dunes and a billion stars. Corinthian Travel’s nine-day Salalah & Oman’s Empty Quarter trip includes a three-night glamping adventure along the deserted coast and into the Rub al Khali, via the Moon mountains, wild frankincense trees and, allegedly, the lost city of Ubar, the “Atlantis of the Sands”.

45. Go forest bathing

Shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) – the practice of visiting forests for their health benefits – originated in Japan. Try it out on mountainous, tree-cloaked Yakushima Island, where the ancient cedars, tinkling waterfalls and pure air should sort you out nicely. Inside Japan’s 14-night Kyushu Adventure includes a three-day Yakushima stay, during which you’ll hike to venerable Jomon Sugi, possibly the world’s oldest tree, for a humbling perspective on time itself.

46. Sail away

Find secret coves and seaside solitude by chartering your own crewed Turkish gulet to explore the Lycian Coast. Fairlight Jones’s traditional Seyhan Hanna sailing vessel has six cabins – though you can book it for two people for extra escapism. The gulet comes with sea kayaks, stand-up paddle-boards and snorkels, or you can take the helm if you feel like literally sailing yourself away.

From £3,150pp based on two sharing, excluding flights; each additional guest £450pp; fairlightjones.com

47. Seek Saharan solitude

Discover Adventure’s five-day Saharan Mini Adventure means even the time-poor traveller can sample the mind-affecting scale of this mighty desert. Accompanied by Berber guides and a camel caravan, you’ll trek into the Moroccan wilderness from the oasis town of Tazzarine, passing date palms and ancient fossils, following a dry riverbed and camping out under a blanket of stars. For an even more out-of-this-world feeling, the February departure coincides with a lunar eclipse.

48. Find tranquillity in trees

Kenya is synonymous with savannah, but lesser-known Kitich Camp offers a lusher escape in one of the country’s last forest wildernesses. Hidden in the Mathews mountain range, the remote camp has six safari tents with alfresco, en suite bathrooms. Samburu guides lead walks amid the trees to look for elephants, lions and melanistic leopards, while the natural rock pools are perfect for swims. Exceptional Travel Company’s seven-night tailored trip combines Kitich and the rhino-sighting hotspot Lewa Wilderness.

From £4,195pp based on two sharing, including flights; exceptional-travel.com

49. See Canadian constellations

A three-hour drive from Halifax Airport, Nova Scotia’s secluded Trout Point Lodge was the world’s first certified Starlight Hotel – a certification given by the Star Foundation to promote astronomical research. This phone signal-free, luxe wood-cabin hideaway not only sits under inky dark skies on the edge of the Tobeatic Wilderness Area, but also has an astronomer on staff, a large stargazing platform and a range of telescopes, including one for daytime use. Other activities include walks and canoe paddles to look for loons, beavers and bears.

From £201 per night; troutpoint.com

50. Meet the ancestors

Contemplate evolution and humanity during face time with one of our closest relatives. Abercrombie & Kent offers a six-night tailor-made Uganda gorilla trek, staying at the utterly remote Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, which is often shrouded in mist and regarded as one of Africa’s most biologically diverse habitats. The camp itself is often visited by gorilla groups, while hikes – or even the view from your bathtub – might reveal other primates such as red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus and baboons.

10 07 17

With interest rates stuck at rock bottom and markets close to record highs, coaxing a portfolio into producing a reliable income is a challenge.

Many income investors rely on well known active funds that invest in British shares, such as Woodford Equity Income and Jupiter Income.

However, with low yields across the board the margins are fine, while the fees charged by active managers can significantly eat into your income.

 Additionally, many of these funds invest in similar shares, so investors become disproportionately reliant on a small number of big British dividend payers.

As an alternative, Telegraph Money has examined how to build an income portfolio out of cheap “passive” or “tracker” funds, included exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and outlined the pros and cons of this approach.


In terms of cost, the benefits are clear. The average “ongoing charge figure” for funds in the Investment Association’s UK equity income sector is 0.9pc, with transaction costs on top. In our passive portfolio, the average ongoing charge is two thirds less at 0.29pc.

For a £250,000 Isa portfolio, that’s the difference between an income of £6,500 and an income of £8,025, assuming a 3.5pc yield and ignoring capital growth. The hidden transaction costs will be lower too.

Investing in entire indices also spreads investors’ money across an enormous range of bonds and shares, aiding diversification.


The main drawback with tracker funds as opposed to active managers is that they do not distinguish between companies whose dividends appear secure and those whose payouts look shaky.

A tracker may hold a stock that yields 7pc but doesn’t have the profits to cover its dividend. An active manager is likely to avoid such shares.

As a result, an active fund that yields 3.5pc and a tracker that yields 3.5pc may have very different levels of dividend security. The tracker is also likely to include companies that don’t pay a dividend at all.

Additionally, some indices are massively skewed towards certain companies. For instance, in the FTSE 100 index, which yields 3.8pc, Shell and BP account for 15pc of all dividend income. Relying on that index for income therefore involves a bet on the oil price.

There are more diverse markets, such as the US, where that isn’t a problem – but those markets also tend to offer lower yields.

Five tips for managing your stocks and shares Isa


On the bond side, indices are typically weighted according to the size of firms’ bond issues.

Therefore, investors in a bond tracker fund will have more money in those companies that have the greatest amount of debt.

Of course, larger companies would be expected to have larger debts. But it also means that companies with a massive amount of debt relative to their size will be bought heavily.

The portfolio

Ben Willis of Whitechurch Securities, the wealth manager, produced a tracker income portfolio for Telegraph Money. It consists solely of tracker funds, including some so-called “smart beta” funds, and exchange-traded funds.

It yields 3.6pc overall and is split almost into thirds between bonds, UK shares and global shares.

In terms of risk, it sits in the middle of the road. There is significant exposure to shares out of necessity: Mr Willis highlighted the lack of passive options with which to invest in traditional income-producing assets such as commercial property.

He said: “To get closer to a 4pc yield would require a higher weighting to shares, meaning much more risk. With an actively managed or mixed portfolio, a 4pc income may be achievable with better diversification, and lower risk – but substantially higher charges.”

Bonds – 32pc

  • iShares Global High Yield Corporate Bond (12pc) – 4.9pc yield, 0.5pc ongoing annual charge
  • L&G Sterling Corporate Bond Index (10pc) – 2.2pc yield, 0.14pc charge
  • Vanguard Global Bond Index Hedged (10pc) – 1.6pc yield, 0.15pc charge

Mr Willis said: “The starting point was to use relatively simple index-tracking funds. The Vanguard fund provides exposure to lower-risk government and company bonds, hence its low yield.

“The L&G fund focuses on marginally higher-risk company bonds. Lastly, an ETF was the only way to gain significant exposure to a global high-yield bond index.”

UK shares – 32pc

  • L&G UK 100 Index (10pc) – 3.3pc yield, 0.1pc charge
  • HSBC FTSE 250 Index (10pc) – 2.5pc yield, 0.18pc charge
  • Vanguard FTSE UK Equity Income Index (12pc) – 4.5pc yield, 0.22pc charge

Mr Willis said: “The UK is an established dividend market offering a core source of income for lots of investors – the L&G fund tracks the UK’s 100 biggest companies at a very low cost.

“The Vanguard fund specifically tracks the leading dividend-paying companies, which is why it has a much higher yield.

“The HSBC fund offers exposure to UK medium-sized companies, adding a different income source – valuable as diversification.”

Global shares – 36pc

  • WisdomTree Europe Equity Income ETF (12pc) – 5.3pc yield, 0.29pc charge
  • Schroder US Equity Income Maximiser (12pc) – 5.1pc yield, 0.4pc charge
  • Vanguard Pacific ex Japan Stock Index (6pc) – 3.9pc yield, 0.23pc charge
  • iShares Emerging Markets Dividend ETF (6pc) – 4pc yield, 0.65pc charge

Mr Willis said: “The global shares component was more challenging. The US is typically a low-yielding market. The Schroder fund, a new launch, tracks the S&P 500 index but gives up some potential capital growth in return for immediate income, targeting a 5pc yield.

“There is no European equivalent of the Vanguard UK fund, so an ETF was the only option. The WisdomTree fund has low charges and an attractive yield.

“The final two positions – Vanguard Pacific ex Japan Stock Index and iShares Emerging Markets Dividend – are higher risk, and there to further diversify the income sources as well as provide some long-term growth potential.”

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