Toss your mobile and live the good life

18th August 2006 at 01:00
Go under canvas

New to Britain are Feather Down Farm Days, a way of staying on a farm and living the rural life of the good old days. Up to six people can sleep in a tent divided into rooms, with a stove, a flush lavatory and a wooden floor.

You carry water from the pump and cook on the wood-fired stove, with food from the local farm shop or perhaps eggs that you have collected yourself.

The first Feather Down Farm to open is Manor Farm in Alton, Hampshire, which will welcome visitors from this Sunday until the end of October, for week, weekend or mid-week (Monday evening to Friday morning) stays. Another 10 small farms in different parts of England will join the scheme next year. Prices range from pound;565 a tent for a week in August, down to pound;195 for a weekend in October. (Details: 01420 86922,

Go for a day

Perhaps you have already seen the exhibition of Constable's landscape paintings at Tate Britain, if not, hurry - it finishes on August 28.

Remarkably, much of the landscape itself has been preserved in the much-maligned county of Essex on the borders with Suffolk, and late summer is an ideal time to wander beside the Stour in Dedham Vale. Otters have been re-introduced into the river and later in the year there will be elderberries and sloes to collect. You don't even need a car. Flatford Mill, where The Hay Wain was painted, is an easy walk from Manningtree station across the fields. From Flatford, the National Trust runs guided walks daily until the end of September, concentrating on scenes that Constable painted.

(More information:, or download a walk from or Go wild

The Finns have been at it for most of this millennium, but we repressed Brits are mere beginners at one of the world's newest sports. The second UK mobile phone throwing championships take place at Tooting athletics track in south-west London on Sunday and anyone can turn up between 2pm and 7pm to take part. Entry costs pound;5 for three throws. Phones will be provided, although if you have any you want to get rid of please bring them along to be recycled by ActionAid, which is sponsoring the event. The world record, set in Finland, stands at 94.97 metres (I wonder how long he had been hanging on for customer service?), while the UK record is 69.31 metres. (Details:

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