The joy of excellence at the Miramar Beach Hotel & Spa and Yaktsa Côte d’azur

Immediately upon arriving at the Miramar we are whisked into its enchanting interior by the friendly and professional staff. Built on a plethora of levels to sit seamlessly within the terrain and scenery of the Esterel, the building flirts with the landscape and sea around it, nestling comfortably in its own private creek – from the lower levels that touch the sea, right up to the higher levels that soak up sun along its impressive southerly facing elevation.

LAAX Ski Resort, Switzerland

Travelling though Switzerland on the way to the much anticipated LAAX Ski Resort, I was very excited at the prospect of experiencing this renowned winter destination and really getting inside the ingrained Swiss snow culture. Led by the visionary CEO Reto Gurtner, LAAX won the Best Swiss Skiresort 2014. And having heard stories of the biggest halfpipe in the world and of a philosophy built around freestyle and the family, I couldn’t wait to see if it lived up to the hype.

BA A380 Inaugural Flight, London to Los Angeles

The height of (sustainable) luxury – Glass takes the inaugural transatlantic flight on the latest addition to the British Airways fleet, the double decker Airbus A380, aka the ‘superjumbo’. Since their early beginnings in 1910 the company has had a fascinating history. BA operated the world’s first daily international scheduled air service, and later the first ever supersonic passenger service in 1976 from London Heathrow to Bahrain. So Glass was very excited to experience the inaugural flight of the latest addition to their fleet, the Airbus A380. This towering double-decker aircraft has vital statistics that make it hard to imagine it could ever take to the skies – with a length of 8½ double-decker buses, as tall as an eight-storey building, its tough three coats of paint alone weigh half a tonne. In fact, if its electrical wiring were laid end to end it would stretch from London to Edinburgh (320 miles!). But to me the most outstanding fact in this plethora of data is that the A380 actually reduces the fuel consumption per person by 16% when compared to the aircraft it is replacing, a significant step in the direction of increased sustainability in a world of ever changing global priorities. One of the advancements that contributed to this was the use of new technology and composite materials such as carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic and glass-reinforced aluminium laminate to create a lighter structure, which in turn means greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions. The A380 was conceived and built in Toulouse, France, where the impressive Airbus factory has around sixty three thousand employees. Around half of the world’s jet airliners roll out of their doors, and BA has ordered a further twelve A380s for delivery by 2016. These, along with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, will form the backbone for their future ambitions. The occasion for our sampling the delights of the A380 was the new model’s very first flight from London Heathrow terminal 5 to the newly renovated Los Angeles LAX airport, an itinerary described as BA’s ‘red carpet route’. This was the first of a series of destinations that BA plans to roll out for the A380 in the coming months, including Hong Kong and Johannesburg. So as Glass boarded the plane we were very interested to see what the latest technologies had to offer. Being used to much smaller aircraft, I found the size and proportions came as quite a shock. But kudos to the design of the interiors, which gave an immediate sense of security and proportion – and with elegant colour tones and warm textures, and I felt remarkably at ease. The air was fresh and pleasant and I later learnt that the air was changed every three minutes in their cutting edge filtration system, which allowed 15 different temperature-controlled zones. During flight the level of noise was remarkably unintrusive to normal conversation, also helped by the new Rolls-Royce engines and advanced aerodynamics reducing any wind drag and resultant noise. I was interested to read about the thought process behind the aircraft fittings and the allocation of seats. BA have chosen to prioritise the optimisation of an individual’s space and comfort within their seat area rather than include a bar, lounge and lobby area. Passengers have the option of four classes (First, Club World, World Traveller Plus and World Traveller) and the seating did feel surprisingly spacious and the design was well thought out and full of interesting design solutions. For example, in Club World seating the design provided 20% more legroom, with the addition of a footrest, increased recline position, hammock headrest and cocktail table – using alternation of passengers’ seating direction. The service was attentive and considerate, and the crew went out of their way to enhance our flight experience. I was interested to find out about the meals that are served on the A380, and fascinated to hear that at 30,000ft our taste buds are 30% less efficient, so BA has worked with top chefs, suppliers, nutritionists and molecular gastronomists to create a brand of ‘height cuisine’ – to ensure that the flavours work at this altitude. First and Club World also feature menus curated by London’s wonderful Langham hotel – the famed birthplace of afternoon tea over 140 years ago. The lighting design was interesting and as the flight progressed I noticed subtle transitions to mimic the time of day. Fresh crisp morning light at breakfast, cooler more energetic light at lunch and warm candlelight in the evening drop subtle hints to your body clock. It’s possible that this could go unnoticed, but there was definitely an acknowledgement of the London–LA time difference – because, although jet-lagged, I felt ready to face the Los Angeles evening as soon as we touched down. To round off a memorable flight, our arrival in Los Angeles was greeted by a ‘water cannon’ double salute from the LAX fire brigade and we were welcomed into the newly renovated Thomas Bradley terminal. Designed by Curtis Fentress, it is part of a $4.1 billion LAX modernisation project, which includes expansion and improvement of terminals, runways, utilities and infrastructure, transforming LAX into a world-class airport capable of handling the largest airliners including the A380. To complete the celebrations British Airways threw an impressive party in the Hollywood hills overlooking the bright lights of LA. Musical performances by UK acts the Foxes and Gabrielle Aplin and a showcase of ten young ‘Brits To Watch’ fuelled an atmosphere of excitement and glamour, something we Brits like to think we do rather well. – By Ben Slater

The physical storytelling of Ockham’s Razor

Glass was very excited about chatting to Charlotte Mooney from the renowned theatre company Ockham’s Razor, and hearing about their upcoming performance at Latitude festival, but also to dig a little deeper, and find out what inspires them and makes them tick. I met the team in the Rose Theatre in Kingston as they were preparing for a performance of their newest piece ‘Not Until We Are Lost’ surrounded by all their impressive stage equipment, all conceived and built by the team. The group has three core members, Alex Harvey, Charlotte Mooney and Tina Koch, who met whilst studying at Circomedia, Academy of Circus Arts and Physical Performance in Bristol, and who set up the company with a united vision in 2004. It’s a very exciting summer for Ockham’s Razor, and at Latitude they will be performing their critically acclaimed triple bill, a series of three pieces named ‘Arc’, ‘Memento Mori’ and ‘Every action…’, taking the audience on a dynamic journey, dramatically told in their unique and physical language. The name ‘Ockham’s Razor’ comes from a logical principle attributed to the mediaeval philosopher William of Ockham which states that between two plausible theories, the simpler is preferable. It is called Razor because it cuts out unnecessary elements, and this is reflected in their performances, where the stories are told with refreshing clarity and simplicity. For readers who are new to Ockham’s Razor, how would you describe yourselves? We describe ourselves as aerial theatre. So what we do is take the movement of aerial circus – that’s anything in the air – and we use that movement to tell stories. Put simply, it’s physical theatre, telling stories in the air using movement. How did you get involved with Latitude? They approached our producer about doing the show, and it’s really exciting for us to be there. Latitude’s theatre side is very strong, and it’s a festival we’ve always been interested in, so we are really, really pleased to be going. What pieces will you be performing at the Latitude festival in your triple bill? There are three short pieces, and each one tells a story. We don’t use language – I think we have three words in ‘Every Action…’, and apart from that the stories are told through the physical interaction. It’s very obvious what’s happening, not abstract. There is a clear recognisable story, physically told. It’s a bit like silent film – like ‘The Artist’ – but obviously it’s more extreme because it’s very physical and quite metaphorical, but it’s similar in the way you can easily understand what’s happening without the use of language. The first piece, called ‘Arc’, is performed by three people. It’s set on a suspended metal frame, and it’s essentially about the relationship between the three different lives, and the tensions and jealousies and the rivalries that happen. As the relationship between the three performers is destabilised, the platform they are on becomes increasingly unstable. The question is whether they can form some kind of stability or harmony. It’s a good one to start with because it’s dramatic, it has a journey in it and it is quite powerful. The second piece, ‘Memento Mori’, was actually the first piece we ever made, and it’s just Alex and me. It’s a piece of art about someone’s relationship with death. And it’s very intimate, a very quiet piece, so it works well in the middle of the show, when people are already drawn in, and have got used to the language of circus and theatre. The music is written by Patrick Larley, and it’s very special and touching for us to perform. Latitude presented an interesting challenge because we normally perform this piece at night, in a theatre, a black space, and Alex is normally lit in his costume so he almost becomes a mirror, reflecting the light. Because he’s playing death, the idea is that death would be an absence. In Latitude we are playing in the evening, so it will still be light, so we’ve had to change his costume. We’ve been working with our costume designer Tina Bicât and because originally the piece was inspired by the ‘Dance of Death’ woodcuts by Hans Holbein the Younger, where a skeleton goes and dances people to their grave, she’s created a very masculine strong take on that, the Jacobean figure of death. The third piece is ‘Every Action…’, with four people and 25m of rope over two pulleys. If you pull on one piece of rope, the other person goes up in the air, so it’s about the relationship between people and how you can help someone up, or dump them on their head. It’s very light, but has a very strong narrative and relationships, and it really works as the final piece of the evening. How would you perform differently at a festival compared to your own gig? It’s very different in festivals, especially in daylight. A dark theatre gives intimacy and concentration, but at a festival people come in and out, wander about, and with the light and space a lot of the energy can dissipate. So you have to do the performance and push it out there, project it physically, with your body. Also sometimes you have to change your rhythms – some parts need to be slower, and other bits you need to zip through, because the concentration is completely different in that environment. We find that you can do intimate things and small moments as long as you set it up in the right way, and we’re really interested in looking at that further with future work we take outdoors. People often go to an outdoors performance just for the spectacle, but there is scope to do subtlety I think. What’s the secret to running a successful harmonious theatre company? We tour a lot, an insane amount of time – I think last year we were at home for something like four weeks – so harmony is very important. I think we have developed certain strategies. Generally we’ve tried to stay in the same apartment so you cook together, eat together, have a family unit, which is really essential. Also it’s very important to have good times together – like making the effort to buy drinks at the end of the evening, having fun on your day off – because it’s an incredibly stressful environment and you need relief together. In Manchester we all went out dancing together. But also it’s just little things like when we are making a show – when we are in that creation process – just making sure we have meetings ever day and talk to each other – and being honest, and knowing that if you have a problem and something’s going wrong, then it’s better to say something early than to let it fester, just like siblings. We had a mentor from Improbable, and at a meeting before we created this show they said, “What are you most worried about?” We told them that disagreements were our main worry – even disagreeing where the piece should go creatively. They told us we should look at disagreements as artistic turning points. When you have very strong opinions in two directions, it probably means that neither option is right, but there is a really radically exciting third option that you haven’t thought about. So you should look at disagreements as really exciting. How do you find inspiration for new ideas, new pieces? It’s interesting. In the very early stages, Alex, Tina and I, all of us carry notebooks around with us, putting ideas into them at all times. We’ll often be inspired by shows we see, not just circus dance theatre, but also fine art, adverts, films, photographs, something people said… Then the three of us sit down and tell each other what we’ve been thinking about, what’s been catching our attention. It’s always mind-blowing and we find that there are surprisingly similar things, probably because we spend a lot of time together. I also think that the things that you are interested in can be a reaction against the show you’ve just made – in 2009 we made ‘The Mill’, a show about systems breaking apart and tensions and groups falling to pieces and things going wrong. Then our next piece, ‘Not Until We Are Lost’, is very much about the experience of being lost and abandoned, and how the group finds you and brings you back together – it’s about cooperation, fellowship and love. I think ‘Not Until We Are Lost’ is absolutely a reaction to ‘The Mill’, and I’m sure whatever we make next will be a reaction or development from ‘Not Until We Are Lost’. Our work is not overtly political, but it is definitely informed by what is happening around us. Because what we do is becoming increasingly metaphorical and poetic, you may not be able to say, “Oh this is about the Arab spring”, but what is happening in the world is in there, there are resonances. Latitude is the last major listing on your website – what have you guys got planned after this? A summer of touring the triple bill, at Latitude and then in Europe, and we have a gig in Lichfield in England as well. Then in autumn we have two more ‘Not Until We Are Lost’ dates at the moment – we’ll see if any more come up. And then we are reprising the opera we did with Improbable – in 2007 we were in a Philip Glass opera called ‘Satyagraha’ which was about the life of Gandhi, performed by Improbable and the English National Opera at the Coliseum in London. It also went to the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Now that’s happening again in November/December time, which is a complete joy to do. The music is beautiful, and the singers are just extraordinary – the experience of doing that opera was what inspired us for what we are doing at the show at the moment. Also over the summer we’re thinking about our next show, which is very exciting, and we are looking to do a collaboration with a great musician – going to make it 2014 and we’re opening it late 2014 early 2015. Do you have any performers that you are really excited to see at Latitude? Yes! I think National Theatre Wales are there, and I really want to see their show. Also the band Teleman. Do you know about them? Pete and the Pirates broke up and they re-formed to make the band Teleman, who I am crazy about, very excited about seeing them. And also another band called Sweet Baboo. Finally, what are your top tips for getting the most out of a festival? One of the joys of a festival is just wandering and going off-piste. Have a few things to want to do every day, but other than that, just wander round. by Ben Slater You can see Ockham's Razor (please link: at Latitude festival (please link: which takes place in Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk from July 18-21

Latitude festival asks, “What defines me?”

Glass interviews Tania Harrison, the Creative Director behind Latitude Festival. Glass is very excited to speak to Tania Harrison, the Creative Director behind Latitude Festival, who gives us an intriguing insight into how it’s conceived and constructed and into the thought process behind this year’s theme, “Neuroscience vs. Sexuality: What Defines Me?” Latitude is now in its eighth year and is based in the beautiful Henham Park, Suffolk, England. This year's festival contains a breathtaking world-class collection of theatre, film, dance, comedy, spoken word, literature, performance art and music. This artistic diversity has become synonymous with the Latitude brand, and has forged a unique area in the festival scene. Some say this makes Latitude one of the most influential events in the arts calendar today. How did you get involved in the Latitude role of creative director? Well, we used to organise Reading and Leeds festivals for which I did the programming, and I mentioned to one of the other guys, “I’d quite like to go to something different. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a festival where there was a theatre, arena…” So I went to see my CEO and he came back and said, “I think it would be a good idea,” and asked me what stages I would choose, what the budget would be and so on. And that was how Latitude was born. Yes, Latitude is very diverse as a festival, acknowledging such a variety of creative disciplines… Yes, and I think the people are generally interested in so much more than just music – in literary and film and so on – so I think I wanted to envisage a live version of a Sunday culture section. It’s also a very diverse audience, and that’s interesting when you’re programming. A lot of people have never been to a festival, but they’re drawn in by the arts and the Royal Court and literary names – people like Sebastian Faulks and Hanif Kureishi – so when I programme for Latitude I think of all the different demographics. If there is a particular band on, I will have something else on an Arts stage that is for a different audience at the same time. We try to think of what people call “tribes”, and trajectories made around the festival for the different audiences. What does programming and curating the whole arts side of the festival involve? It covers a lot really. I go to a lot of shows and performances all over the country, sometimes in Europe, sometimes in the States, to see what’s working. I also read magazines and newspapers and watch the news to see what trends are emerging, to really absorb as much culture as possible. I’m very interested in neuroscience – it’s very relevant right now because we’ve made so many discoveries through MRI imaging. It’s a fascinating area because for the first time since the 1950s when Freud and psychoanalysis burst through we can kind of look at how the brain works. I watched a TV programme on a group of American gay-curers and I thought, “Oh my God, that’s horrifying,” and I thought about the concept of gay marriage and the Stonewall campaign – and the idea of what defines me, which is the theme for this year, came from that really. The first question that anyone asks about a baby is, “Is it a boy or a girl?” and we start labelling or boxing people, and yet interestingly I think when I meet someone new I don’t think, “Are you heterosexual, are you homosexual, are you transsexual, are you autistic, are you bipolar?” – any of those labels. To be honest, I just think, “Do I like you?” And I’m very keen to explore that idea in all of its avenues, so I just wanted to raise the dialogue about who we are at a festival. It’s at a festival that we think back to, I suppose, the “tribe” things – our common ground – what we like – what we are interested in as a person, and what makes us interesting. People are just endlessly fascinating, but we make it our business to define and label people, and once you’ve labelled somebody you’ve then got to get over that. Is this part of the reason for Latitude’s link with the Wellcome Trust? I wanted to work with the Wellcome Trust because I love Wellcome and I love all the work that they do and I go there a lot, so I said to them, “Could we look at consciousness and how the mind works, and brain chemistry? Also have a look and see if the hypothalamus is a different shape depending on your gender or your sexual orientation – and those sort of facts actually can change the whole nature-nurture debate.” So really it’s just bringing it all into a mainstream festival – opening it up, but also exploring it in an interesting and fun way. There’s the neuroscience hotel I’m exploring, and I’m turning the Faraway Forest into Amsterdam… Yes that was something I really wanted to ask you about because I heard that the Faraway Forest is the hub of the idea… It is, yes… …for example during the day it’s completely different from during the night and this showcases the two sides of the theme… Yeah, I think the festival theme reflects the fact that “you” may have things that your parents have contributed, or that came from your environment or your brain – and also you go through another stage in your teens when you think about who you want to become. Or it might be religion that defines you, or your brain chemistry, or certain aspects of your neurology or your neural pathways and how you create memories… I chose Amsterdam because I felt that it’s somewhere where people go to either express themselves sexually or to mind-alter themselves. I was also quite fascinated by 1970s New York because last year’s Festival theme was Pagan to Occupy – all about revolution and what happens after an economic crisis – and what happens is that there is often an art explosion like there was in the 1970s – Leigh Bowery, David Bowie, you know these people are phenomenally creative. It’s a very different feeling from what we have now, which feels quite prescriptive and restrictive. So I wanted to smash all of that open and have an explosion, a party, where you can just be whoever you want, and express yourself – whether you want to turn up covered in body paint, or be a spider from Mars, or assume a Lady Gaga persona – or just be yourself in a cagoule – whatever it is, it’s cool. And we all just connect, just by accepting that – and a festival is the place where you can do that – it’s about party, it’s about hedonism, it’s about being a little bit wild for a weekend. That’s very interesting. So how does this theme get fuelled into the festival? Obviously the Faraway Forest – that’s a prime example, but… I’ve got installations in the Faraway Forest, I’ve got artwork and artists that work specifically with the idea. There are other artists who also have been feeding in the idea – Sylvia Rimat had already worked with neuroscience and neuroscientists, and hers is an artistic piece – Marcus du Sautoy, in his consciousness piece he’s working with music and with James Holden. And so there are pieces that actually work with the idea. It’s a real privilege to work with such incredible people and to be able to have a dialogue with artists so closely. It’s a very exciting thing to work with artists that are exceptionally creative – they do something that’s borderline magic. There’s an alchemy with what an artist creates, and you think, “Wow, I really want to share that with everybody else.” And the Latitude audience are quite incredible in that they take risks – they’re happy to explore and to discover, and I really love that about them. The challenge for me is to create something I really hope they discover so they will have that wonderful moment that I’m hoping they’re going to have. For all the festival goers, what would you say is a good tip for getting the most out of Latitude? I would say, “Make sure you try something new.” Doing something new is very closely linked to pleasure in your brain chemistry, and you get a very similar response. This is often why people get excited by new people or affairs – I read a fascinating neuroscientific paper which suggests you should do something new with your partner, because pleasure is linked to the new. I watched a programme on how that inspires creativity – even if you walk a different route to work, or talk to a different person, or make a coffee instead of your routine tea… …because you’re creating a new neural pathway – also, to challenge your mind like that you need to do something for over three weeks. Are you right or left handed? I’m right handed OK – clean your teeth for three weeks with your left hand… OK, I’ll give it a go… …because it creates a new neural pathway and it’s a new experience so it’s a really good way to wake your brain up in a morning. So I would definitely say do something new and talk to somebody new over the weekend – it’s amazing! And finally what would you say sets Latitude apart from other festivals? What stands out is that it’s a very beautiful site, and it’s very easy to get round. So you don’t have to carry everything around with you – you could just say, “I’m going into the Cabaret arena. I’ll meet you in five minutes in Comedy,” and that is very easy to do. And it’s beautiful. We spend a lot of money on all of the production and lights and decor. Each stage has its own set and decor, and there are beautiful things all the way through the woods and through the forest. So primarily I think it’s that. And obviously, hopefully, that there are really such high quality wonderful, wonderful artists on. by Ben Slater Latitude festival: July 18-21 For more information please visit:

Globe Theatre Awakens

Recent months mark the awakening of the 2013 theatre season, and the Globe is set to fill it with an agenda of bold and vibrant plays by William Shakespeare, Samuel Adamson, Jessica Swale, Ché Walker and Arthur Darvill – filled, in their words, with “magic, enchantment and the fantastical”. The Globe theatre, situated on the bustling London South Bank, is a beautiful and considerate nod to the past. It was inspired from the plans of the original Globe theatre, built in 1599 by Shakespeare's play company and destroyed by fire in 1613. The architecture of the Globe really contains the atmosphere, focusing in on the actors, with a sea of standing audience in the open air ‘yard’ and three seated levels. The Tempest, which we saw, was a captivating rendition and the love with which it was presented was a sheer joy to behold. I kept finding actors popping up all around the audience, and ‘special effects’ were dropped in at key points, considerately created to stay true to its time. This year’s plays include The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, Gabriel, Henry VI, Indian Tempest, Blue Stockings, The Lightning Child and King Lear. Insert Video: by Ben Slater