Staycation with ESG Clarity’s Natasha Turner: UK vineyards, shopping local and Surrey Hills

Think Ab Fab meets The Trip but in Surrey and Sussex with organic wine

In this special summer series, members of the responsible investment industry share their staycations and sustainable holiday activities with ESG Clarity readers.

Following our popular Working from Home with… and A Sustainable Xmas with… series off the back of the Covid-19 pandemic, we wanted to find out how holiday plans have changed – and become more environmentally and socially friendly – in a year where travel abroad looks challenging.

Here, ESG Clarity deputy editor Natasha Turner shares her tour of UK vineyards.

Where are you holidaying this year and with whom? How did you travel there?

Because we consider ourselves some sort of Eddie and Patsy/Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon double act, and because we recently turned 30, my friend and I decided to take a week’s holiday to tour different vineyards around the UK.

We’d originally set our sights on Bordeaux but because of the pandemic, we decided to hit up a few vineyards in Surrey and Sussex instead, and were not disappointed. English wine is really coming into its own (unfortunately due in large part to climate change…) and we managed to sample a fair few in five days of vineyard hopping (which we did by train and bus).

How does this differ from your ‘usual’ holidays?

I don’t really have usual holidays – friends living abroad are usually excuses to visit, or someone will suggest a city break one year and we’ll do that. But touring vineyards was certainly a first!

It has been a very tough year. How did this holiday help you reset and refresh?

Getting away from cities is always a good way to reset, and it’s hard to beat opening the curtains to acres of vines each morning (south-facing chalky slopes were mentioned a lot). A glass of wine here and there certainly helps take the edge off too.

How did you ensure your holiday was environmentally friendly?

Staying in the UK rather than going to Bordeaux, and taking trains and buses everywhere, kept our carbon footprint down. I’ve come back a new cheerleader for English wines as well and will be looking to buy local now wherever possible.

Share some (sustainable) activities you planned for your staycation?

Between all the wine tastings we did manage to squeeze in a few walks, the best one being on part of the North Downs Way.

One of the estates we visited, Denbies, said it is the largest local employer in the area, running school leaver programmes and graduate schemes, and we pretty much exclusively ate onsite and shopped local in its farm shop.

Another vineyard we visited, Sedelscombe, is organic and biodynamic (more on this in an upcoming episode of ESG Out Loud), so I think shopping there counts as sustainable?

We also had to fit in a visit to our favourite local fishery while down in Hastings – RX Fisheries.

What’s your holiday reading?

I whipped through Otegha Uwagba’s new book, We need to talk about money. My friend and I are both backlogged on our Economist subscriptions but unfortunately those didn’t make it out of the suitcase…

What’s the verdict? Do you think you will be staycationing more in the future? Or are you looking forward to travelling abroad?

There are more UK vineyards on my list to visit now than when we set off, so I’ll have to do at least one more staycation. Plus we do want to do the full itinerary from season one of The Trip at some point (obsessed?) and that’s all based in the UK.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t itching to visit friends who recently moved to Paris, but that’s still only a train ride away. Flying again can definitely wait.

How do you think the Covid-19 pandemic will impact business travel long term?

People are definitely realising a lot of meetings don’t have to happen in person. On the other hand, we’ve seen Alok Sharma recently defending himself for flying to negotiations in the lead up to COP26, saying some procedures do require in-person presence. So it’ll be a balancing act.

What’s on your radar for the ESG investment industry for the rest of the year?

I can’t see there being any respite for regulation as interest in the area continues to grow. And as more products are launched and older ones gain track records, we can expect more scrutiny, all with the end goal of elevating the industry. It will be interesting to see how net-zero commitments and plans unfold over the next few months as well. In other areas, I’m looking forward to see what’s next from the UK government in terms of ethnicity pay gap reporting.

Here at ESG Clarity, as with everywhere else, we’re also gearing up for COP26 in November, so look out for what’s to come on that.

You can view the full Staycation series by clicking here.

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Natasha Turner

Natasha is global deputy editor at ESG Clarity, part of the Bonhill Group, and has been a financial journalist for six years. She has been shortlisted for Story of the Year and Investment Journalist of...