VH Local

Catherine Turner’s India


Catherine Turner’s India

In the end, the decision had been easy to make. After nearly eight years as Beauty & Health Director on a glossy magazine, I’d handed in my notice and was about to trade my dream job for a dream trip to India. This was no out-of-the-blue decision. I’d discovered yoga 11 years earlier: it had rescued me from a rather bleak time when I had been made redundant.

My stressed and stiff desk bunny body gradually melted and transformed into something resembling fit, healthy and flexible. I admit it, I’d become a yoga bore – it was that life changing – so I decided to walk the talk which is how, out of all the things to do on a trip to India, I ended up on a teacher training course at an ashram on the banks of the river Ganges in the Himalayas. At the risk of lapsing into hippy dippy ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ territory, it was my own little spiritual journey and I’d advise anyone (into yoga or not) to go and soak it all up. It’s a mind blowing experience on many levels – you’ll never forget it.

First Stop Rishikesh

It’s a bit of a journey to get there, and I did it the easy way. I debated for ages as to whether to fly to Delhi and get the full local experience by jumping on the train to Rishikesh. A true hippy would have got the bus. In the end I decided to catch an internal flight from Delhi to Dehradun which is then a 40 minute cab ride in to Rishikesh, and managed to persuade one other girl heading for the ashram to do the same. I’m glad I did, as I was troubled by a few horror stories of scams at Delhi train station.

Still, my fellow yogis made it by train or road without any problems, so it confirms I’m a ‘better to be safe than sorry’ rather than a risk-taking traveller. Either way, arriving in Rishikesh is an all-singing, all-dancing intro to India. Hordes of people, chaos and cows. Sun going down, beaten up old cab, horns blaring, tuk-tuks overtaking, dusty road, monkeys hanging off every tree…..and the smell. So bad, yet so good with bursts of delicate jasmine hanging in the hot evening air. Read More…

Maggie Alderson’s Sydney


From the moment I arrived in Sydney for the first time, twenty years ago, I felt like I’d come home. I stepped out of the airport into the bright white morning light, caught a drift of eucalyptus on the air from the gum trees in the car park, and felt my whole body relax. It just felt right.

Of course, it always helps when you share a language with a new country, but there’s more to it than that. Sydney’s not a city you have to try hard to enjoy.

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Jo Fairley’s Hastings


My attitude to Hastings can be summed up in a single phrase: ‘I do like to be beside the seaside.’ (Those of you who believe in such things might feel it has something to do with being a Cancerian. And, with the dawn of the internet (both a curse and a blessing), it’s become possible to live pretty much where you’d like. Which, in my case, is Hastings Old Town: more a ‘village’, really, of 4,000 people living in an extraordinary patchwork of buildings (from medieval to modern), tucked between two steep hills – with the beach at the end of the road. What’s not to love…?

When we moved here (that’s me and Craig Sams, health food entrepreneur, biochar guru and my co-founder in Green & Black’s Chocolate), it wasn’t exactly ‘Shoreditch-on-Sea’ – which is one of the comments often heard nowadays, as DFLs (Down From Londoners) discover our quirky mix of dozens of independent shops and restaurants.

Because it was hard to get our hands on good, organic food, we decided to take over our local bakery (founded 1826), turn it organic and put in a one-stop organic and local food store. Then, two years later, frustrated that there wasn’t somewhere I could go to do Yoga or have a fab massage, I transformed a run-down local Regency-era council building into The Wellington Centre: a 9-room ’boutique’ wellbeing centre which offers 20 classes a week (Pilates, Yoga, Tai Chi, etc.), and every imaginable therapy from Colonic Hydrotherapy to Deep Tissue Massage, via facials and Physio. In the past seven years, we’ve seen an influx of Londoners, who – like us – have moved here for improved quality of life. Read More…

Kazu Namise’s Los Angeles


Although I grew up in LA, I don’t think I ever thought too much about my love for this city until I was in my early 20s! Spending much of my youth plotting my departure, I left to Washington DC for university and also spent a year living in NY. But LA called me back. It is very much home for me now, the place I live and love! Less like a city and more like a collection of sweet little pockets, much of LA’s best has to be found, or shared! And so here are my tried and true that hopefully you will love too!

Let’s start with Shopping (!):

Satine Boutique – the best and most unique of the collections from European, Japanese, and American designers. Owners Jeannie Lee and Virginia Pereira definitely know how to put everything together. Mixed with cute little odds and ends from all over the globe, Satine is my favorite & fun destination shop for my girlie place of fashion dreams. A whole lot of window shopping going on here. Read More…