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10 of the best creative retreats in the UK and Europe

Want to sit quietly with your paints or handicrafts, burst into song, or use kung fu or dance to get moving? We pick holidays for nourishing your inner makerTao’s, a meditation centre on a hill overlooking the sea on the island of Paros, hosts a dance retreat each September. The style of dance is “open floor movement”, which is said to boost creativity and help people “refresh, recuperate, recharge and rejoice”. It is suitable for anyone who wants to move, regardless of age or experience. The sc...
Tags: Travel, Art, Europe, UK, Life and style, Meditation, Health & wellbeing, Craft, Top 10s, Learning Holidays, United Kingdom Holidays, Europe Holidays, Health And Fitness Holidays, Christiana

Want to transform your life? Stop chasing perfection

Give up the rat race, accept reality and have the courage to be disliked – the latest self-help trend is not about self-reinvention but finding contentment in the life you haveBy tradition, this is the season for personal reinvention, but these days it’s hard not to feel cynical about the idea of a triumphant liberation from the past. In the news, Brexit provides an hourly reminder that merely wishing to bring about a glorious fresh start is no guarantee that calamity won’t be the result. Meanwh...
Tags: Health, Books, Culture, Health & wellbeing, Robert Plomin, Society books

Away with words: an Arvon fiction-writing retreat in Devon

Expert tuition, camaraderie and walks in the rain – plus a healthy lack of wifi and mobile coverage – leave our writer buzzing with creativity and short story ideasDespite the glowering weather, the 1½-mile walk from my creative writing retreat at the 16th-century manor house of Totleigh Barton is invigorating. The remote west Devon landscape is heavy with winter; it’s stark and elemental but also evocative and, most importantly, thought-provoking. Being in the wilds gives me the time and space ...
Tags: Travel, Books, Life and style, Health & wellbeing, Creative writing, Devon, Learning Holidays, Rest And Relaxation, England Holidays, United Kingdom Holidays, Devon Holidays, Health And Fitness Holidays, Totleigh Barton

The money, job, marriage myth: are you happy yet?

The ‘success’ narrative is at the heart of our idea of wellbeing, but the evidence tells a different tale, argues behavioural scientist Paul Dolan in this extract from his new bookThere are countless stories about how we ought to live our lives. We are expected to be ambitious; to want to be wealthy, successful and well educated; to get married, be monogamous and have kids. These social narratives can make our lives easier, by providing guidelines for behaviour, and they might sometimes make us ...
Tags: Health, Books, Society, UK News, Culture, Health & wellbeing, Paul Dolan, Hay, Happiness indices, Wellbeing At Work

The 20 best gadgets of 2018

From electric bikes and fold-up drones to combat robots and digital skipping ropes… the year’s most desirable technologyInstead of relying on heat, this innovative device employs the Coanda jet-flow effect (which helps keep planes airborne) to wrap and style hair. It requires relearning how to coax your locks, but you can say goodbye to heat damage and singed foreheads. Continue reading...
Tags: Gadgets, Toys, Technology, Television, Shopping, Smartphones, Health & wellbeing, Electric, Hybrid And Low-emission Cars

‘Would that all journeys were on foot’: writers on the joy of walking

Will Self, Fran Lebowitz, Helen Garner and others share their love letters to urban pedestrianismWhat is Walking the City week?Vision Zero: has the drive to eliminate road deaths lost its way?For Walking the City week – exploring all aspects of urban walking, good and bad – writers tell us where they walk and why.Will Self watches the world go by at Charing Cross in London; Fran Lebowitz finds areas of midtown New York off-limits because Donald Trump lives there; Helen Garner says her quotidian ...
Tags: Books, New York, London, India, New York City, Los Angeles, Life and style, UK News, World news, Australia news, US news, Cities, Culture, South and Central Asia, Health & wellbeing, Newcastle

In these dark times, embracing laughter is an ethical choice | Charlotte Wood

Laughter has optimism embedded in it. It allows us to see that, while we are all human and we fail, we can change Because we live in such very dark times, I’ve been thinking about laughter and art.If you feel as I do, some days you’ll see no hope for humanity. We’ve destroyed much of the planet already and seem hellbent on continuing that destruction. People all over the world suffer unspeakable violence and deprivation. We in affluent countries seem unwilling to share our wealth with others, an...
Tags: Health, Books, Fiction, Culture, Health & wellbeing, Jane Austen, Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut, George Saunders, Charlotte Wood

The 40 best gadgets of 2017

From smart-speakers and virtual bikes to robot vacuums and indestructible cables, here is the year’s most covetable technology You can assemble one of three robots with this Lego-like kit, each fully mobile and equipped with an infra-red sensor to help it detect and interact with its environment. Best of all, it can then be programmed using the child-friendly block-programming app, opening limitless opportunities. Continue reading...
Tags: Gadgets, Toys, Technology, Television, Shopping, Kindle, Life and style, Smartphones, Health & wellbeing, Electric, Hybrid And Low-emission Cars

Ancient Greeks had formula for happiness | Brief letters

Happiness | Arseholery | Leftovers | Spoiler alertsSharon Cooke (Letters, 19 April) writes that Gaby Hinsliff’s formula for happiness is not a new one and quotes Salford’s first MP who said “My riches consist not in the extent of my possessions, but in the fewness of my wants”. He might have been quoting Epicurus, who 2,200 years earlier wrote, “If you wish to make Pythocles rich, do not give him more money, but diminish his desires” and also “Nothing satisfies him for whom enough is too little....
Tags: Europe, Books, Greece, Life and style, World news, Food & Drink, Health & wellbeing, Language, Wine, Chocolate, Salford, Agatha Christie, Leo Tolstoy, Joe, Herefordshire, Gaby Hinsliff

‘All my friends had some nightmare experience trying to get pregnant. My story took the cake’

At five months pregnant, Ariel Levy lost her baby. After another four years of IVF, had she left motherhood too late? I first met Ariel Levy in 2009, soon after moving from London to New York, but I had been a fan for more than a decade. Her frank articles about pop culture and sex, which she wrote in her first job at New York magazine from the late 1990s, provided the template of what I wanted to write one day. Her 2005 book, Female Chauvinist Pigs, a blistering look at how young women were bei...
Tags: Books, Family, New York, London, Women, Pregnancy, Life and style, World news, Culture, Feminism, Health & wellbeing, Levy, Parents and parenting, Paris Hilton, New Yorker, Lucy

A must-read book? Go on, make me

Faced with rave reviews of musicals, films, books and plays, why does Oliver Burkeman run a mile?Somewhere around the 500th headline I read in praise of Hamilton, the universally acclaimed Broadway musical due in Europe next year, I was struck by a deflating thought: I’ll probably never see it. Not just because it’s virtually impossible to get a ticket, but because so many people – people whose tastes I trust – have raved about it that I now regard the prospect with annoyance. Two years ago, it ...
Tags: Psychology, Europe, Books, Film, Theatre, Life and style, Culture, Health & wellbeing, Stage, Broadway, Mark Twain, Richard Linklater, Donald Trump, Boyhood, Hamilton, Elena Ferrante

Lean in 15: The Shape Plan by Joe Wicks – digested read

‘These 15-minute recipes may sound like they take longer. But remember – 90 minutes is just six lots of 15’Hello, you little winner, it’s me again, Joe Wicks, the Body Coach. What do you mean, you don’t remember me? I’d better fill you in. Fifteen minutes ago, I published a book, Lean in 15: 15 Minute Meals and Workouts to Keep You Lean and Healthy, that has unexpectedly stayed in the bestseller charts for more than 15 minutes. So in the last 15 minutes, I have just written another book about do...
Tags: Health, Books, Fitness, Life and style, Culture, Health & wellbeing, Mind And Body, Diets and dieting, Joe Wicks

A Walk in the Park by Travis Elborough review – what makes a park a park?

William Boyd gives his definition of a park, and praises a wonderful book, full of learning and enthusiasm, that insists we need to cherish and protect these ‘people’s institutions’This is a fascinating, informative, revelatory book about that most commonplace and mundane feature of our cities – parks. Everybody in Britain will be familiar with a park or several parks. As Travis Elborough suggests, it is a connection that most usually begins in early childhood. Even I, as a child brought up in W...
Tags: Books, London, Scotland, Africa, Life and style, Society, Culture, Britain, Health & wellbeing, West Africa, Science and nature, Buckingham Palace, William Boyd, Battersea, Green Park

From knitting to BDSM: readers on where to find a sense of community

As people distance themselves from organised religion, we asked you about your communities and what they meanNew analysis has found that people who identify as non-religious outnumber the Christian population in England and Wales. As more people distance themselves from organised religion, we asked you to tell us where you find a sense of community and why it’s important. Here’s what some of you said. Continue reading...
Tags: Family, England, Fitness, Wales, Sex, Life and style, Communities, Society, Health & wellbeing, Hobbies, Craft, Knitting

'I have three seconds before she draws blood': life with extreme eczema

Novelist Maggie O’Farrell’s daughter was born with eczema so severe her skin peeled off in strips. Would they ever find a cure?On a good night, my daughter and I will be up once or twice. In the dim, cool hours, her cries pull me from sleep and I carry her to the bathroom. She is crying, struggling, but she will become calm as we go about our nocturnal rituals. It might be 20 minutes or half an hour before she’s back in bed.On a bad night, we are up five, six, seven times. I am unable to soothe ...
Tags: Books, Life and style, Society, Culture, Health & wellbeing, Eczema, Maggie O'Farrell

Clive James: ‘I can’t mock Donatella Versace, because I am no stranger to the plastic surgeon myself’

There is the disturbing consideration that, with proper planning, I could have been turning myself into someone better lookingAt the recent Met Gala in New York, all the stellar people were dressed to kill, and as I scan the gallery of red carpet photographs, I finally realise who Donatella Versace has been trying to turn herself into with her successive bouts of facial alteration. Now, the piecemeal transformation completed, she makes you wonder how Mike Tyson can look so good in a ballgown.I c...
Tags: Books, Fashion, New York, Poetry, Life and style, Society, Culture, Health & wellbeing, Plastic Surgery, Bradley Cooper, Death and dying, Mike Tyson, Clive James, Donatella Versace, Met Ball 2016

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West – ‘I never wanted internet trolls to be my beat’

West’s memoir is full of a wild, joyous vulgarity and ranges from body images and rape threats to puberty and her love for her husbandIn 2013, Lindy West got a message on Twitter from her dead father. “Embarrassed father of an idiot,” his bio said. But no: “My dad was never mean. It couldn’t really be from him. Also, he was dead – just 18 months earlier, I’d watched him turn grey and drown in his own magnificent lungs.” Someone wanted to hurt her.At that moment in her career, West was fielding d...
Tags: Books, Technology, Internet, Women, Social Media, Life and style, Society, Body Image, Culture, West, Feminism, Digital Media, Health & wellbeing, Cyberbullying, Lindy West

The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington – digested read

‘Here’s the really scary bit. Everyone who has been diagnosed with a major illness reported feeling a bit tired at some point in their life’It began in 2007 when I was on a tour to promote my worldwide bestseller, Thrive, in which I let the little people in on some of the secrets of the fabulously successful. I had just spent the morning in Washington with Hillary Clinton, before giving a lecture to several thousand entrepreneurs, when my phone rang inviting me to give a television talk in Seatt...
Tags: Books, Media, Sleep, Arianna Huffington, Washington, La, Culture, Hillary Clinton, Health & wellbeing, Seattle

The Ken doll follows in Barbie's footsteps with a makeover realistic body shape

Like his life partner, Ken has unofficially been given an new look to reflect a more ‘normal’ body shapeIntroduced by Mattel in 1961, the Ken doll quickly became a symbol of idealised masculinity. With his blue steel gaze, sun-kissed glow and beach-ready body, he was a Californian take on the Marlboro man. But resembling the lost Beach Boy didn’t cut it for some, and his unrealistic body type was problematic. So, following in the footsteps of his de facto life partner Barbie, Ken has had an unof...
Tags: Toys, Fashion, Life and style, Body Image, Health & wellbeing, Barbie, Mattel, Ken, Barbie Ken

Millie Marotta's Wild Savannah: colouring-in for stress relief

With no wizards or spells, Marotta’s colouring-in books have been a runaway success – and here are two pages to download She has sold more than four million books worldwide, was the No 1 bestselling author of 2015 … and not a single wizard or spell was involved. Millie Marotta’s colouring-in books for grownups have proved hugely popular, and quite possibly alleviated a great deal of stress along the way. Related: Millie Marotta's Tropical Wonderland: colouring in for grown-ups Continue readi...
Tags: Books, Life and style, Health & wellbeing, Stationery, Marotta, Millie Marotta, Wild Savannah

How alcohol can improve your memory

A few drinks may disrupt the memory system – but in certain circumstances, they can actually aid recall. In this extract from his new book, Idiot Brain, neuroscientist Dean Burnett explains why gossip and booze go hand in handYes, alcohol disrupts the memory system. But, in very specific circumstances, it can actually help recall. This is the phenomenon known as state-specific recall. External context can help you recall a memory; you’re better able to recall it if you are in the same environmen...
Tags: Books, Science, Biology, Alcohol, Memory, Neuroscience, Life and style, Health & wellbeing, Science and nature, Dean Burnett

Why book clubs help you live longer

Being a member of a reading group may extend your life, according to a new study. Great – but which books should you read?Name: Book clubs.Age: Nothing but a number. Continue reading...
Tags: Books, Life and style, Society, Culture, Health & wellbeing, Older people

Your thoughts: how do you stay happy?

Ahead of our Guardian Live event on 13 January looking at happiness, we asked what you do to remain happy and positive Continue reading...
Tags: Travel, Health, Life and style, Society, Mental Health, Health & wellbeing, Hobbies, Craft, Membership

Crunch data to live longer, says David Agus – the doctor who treats the stars

Listening to our bodies and recording and analysing the results is more beneficial than smoothies or vitamins, says the author and physician who counted Steve Jobs among his patients. Rory Carroll meets him in Beverly Hills, and undergoes a check-upDavid Agus strolls down a sunlit Beverly Hills street towards his clinic, palm trees soaring into a cloudless sky, the Hollywood sign glinting in the hills. He bubbles with adjectives such as “amazing” and “wild” and “lucky” for a blessed era – ours. ...
Tags: Health, Books, Hollywood, Science, Steve Jobs, Big Data, Health & wellbeing, Beverly Hills, Health policy, Diets and dieting, David Agus, Rory Carroll

An Aviary of Small Birds review – a beautiful, painful, pitch-perfect debut

The stillbirth of Karen McCarthy Woolf’s son is the powerful emotional core of this deft, unsentimental collectionPoetry collections tend to be miscellaneous. They say: all change here, please as one alights from one poem and steps into the next – this is the reader’s undertaking. One of the most unusual things about Karen McCarthy Woolf’s debut is that it is held together by a single event – in a sense, a tragic non-event – the stillbirth of her son, Otto, in August 2009, and it is this emotion...
Tags: Books, Family, Poetry, Life and style, Culture, Health & wellbeing, Childbirth, Otto, Small Birds, Karen McCarthy Woolf, McCarthy Woolf

Chocolate kills, loser! When health-tracking gadgets go bad

In a world of wearable tech, will smartwatches have the last laugh? GP and the Bad Doctor graphic novelist Ian Williams looks into the future in this exclusive comic strip Continue reading...
Tags: Books, Technology, Smartwatches, Culture, Art and design, Health & wellbeing, Comics and graphic novels, Ian Williams

Writing Top Five Regrets of the Dying has brought me to tears

When carer Bronnie Ware wrote a blog in 2009 listing the five things that most haunted her terminally ill patients, she had no idea it would become an internet sensation and transform her life Top five regrets of the dyingIts the article that refused to well, die. In November 2009, songwriter Bronnie Ware started a blog, gently musing about travel, the natural world and, oddly, possums. But her fourth post changed her life. Drawing on the eight years she spent as a live-in carer for terminally...
Tags: Books, Life and style, Culture, Health & wellbeing, Death and dying, Guardian, Bronnie Ware

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