What happens when you liberate a singer, a dancer, a trio of Made in Chelsea stars and a top-notch chef from the confines of the city and release them into the wild? We find out...
Ms Dynamite, singer/producer
Niomi McLean-Daley, better known as the double Brit award- and three-time Mobo award-winning artist Ms Dynamite, may have grown up in north west London, but she takes the helm of a narrowboat in the gentle Oxford countryside like a natural.
"I guess people assume that because I grew up in Camden, I'd have no idea what to do with myself outside an urban environment. My mum was strict when I was a kid, so we weren't allowed out too much, but my dad lived in Sussex. We'd spend holidays running amok in the fields and woods. It was quite exciting: my dad would come to get us and we'd wonder where we were off to because he moved around a lot ? it seemed like such an adventure lay ahead."
She clambers on to the roof of the boat in her 5in heels with such ease it's a little disconcerting. "I've never been on one of these before," she says. "I've seen them at Camden canal but never really thought you could just hire one for a day." She takes the helm and steers us, only needing a little help when we reach a drawbridge. She says her son, Shavaar, has just turned eight and she's relieved that he is not the type who is glued to the TV: "If he could live in the garden, he would. As long as he's got a football, food and water, he'd be fine. He'd absolutely love to be on a boat like this. I'm going to have to bring him on a day trip."
Talking about how she comes up with her lyrics, she says: "Maybe I'm turning into a bit of a hippy, but I believe it's important to be at one with nature ? it grounds and inspires me. I don't know who I'd be if I hadn't had those childhood escapes."
Ms Dynamite's single "Neva Soft" is out on 28 August. To hire a narrowboat, contact oxfordshire-narrowboats.co.uk
Lauren Cuthbertson, principal with the royal ballet
Lauren Cuthbertson is the Royal Ballet's sole English-born principal ballerina. This puts her in the daunting position of being heir to Darcey Bussell, Deborah Bull, even Margot Fonteyn. It's a burden, but with her recent performance as the lead in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, she is fast becoming a national treasure.
We take her trout fishing, obviously. "As a child I would always hold my nose going past the fishmonger's," she says. "I couldn't believe people would eat these things."
We had been invited to the Duke of Wellington's estate, Stratfield Saye. The Duke's daughter-in-law, the Marchioness of Douro, chairs the Royal Ballet School. The house is set in the Hampshire countryside; the Lodden, a chalk stream, flowing past limpidly clear under willow.
"I'm quite a townie," says Lauren. "I grew up in Torquay. I would finish ballet and go to the beach. That was my life. Now I love going for a walk in the big London parks, but it's rare for me to go further."
Of course, typical of newcomers to a tricky sport, Lauren catches a fish with her first cast. It isn't a big fish. In fact it is smaller than the hook it had attempted to devour. But the ballerina is delighted. "I told you I had caught something!" she says. "I felt it."
She likes the rhythm and flow of casting, in which Steve Penny, the riverkeeper, begins to instruct her. "Steve said: 'You've got to be able to see the fish and cast to them,'" she tells me later. "So I saw a leaf and tried to cast to that."
She is game, wandering around the stream barefoot ? when not sinking into the mud in a pair of Christian Louboutin heels and an Erdem dress. But then, what else should a prima ballerina wear while hunting trout?
Suddenly she falls backwards, to be caught by Gary, the photographer's assistant. "I've done this job for 38 years," says Steve. "And this just goes to prove you've never seen everything."
A little later we catch a much bigger fish. I knock it on the head and gut it by the river so that one of Britain's greatest dancers can have it for tea. "My boyfriend's mother will know what to do with it," she says.
Lauren wears: dress, Erdem (matchesfashion.com)
The stars of Made in Chelsea, reality TV's leading lights
A swan and her cygnets are settling at the edge of the Serpentine river, right on top of our photographer's cable. Before shooing them away we Google their collective noun: a "lamentation" of swans. Ollie Locke, his chattering teeth very white against the very brown of his skin (that morning he tweeted his excitement at appearing in Star magazine's Most Orange line-up), gasps. "A lamentation of Made in Chelsea stars," he says. "It's perfect." Ollie Locke, Millie Mackintosh and Caggie Dunlop, in formal black tie, are submerged in water; there are a series of shrieks as their feet slide on unseen pondweed. "Wild swimming? It's like wading through Bonjela!" they cry.
These are the stars of Made in Chelsea, the E4 reality show that follows London's "young social elite", documenting the relationships and excesses of a jaw-droppingly moneyed crowd of friends.
"The countryside is very important to me, actually," says Mackintosh. "It clears my head. I go every few weeks, just to slow down ? to do some hunting, some fishing." Before migrating to Chelsea, Locke spent a year at agricultural college learning about pheasants. He was bullied horribly, and left for drama school. In series one, cameras witnessed Locke coming out as bisexual, Mackintosh finding love and Dunlop's heart being broken.
They welcome the quiet of the outdoors because the show "sort of messes with your head", says Dunlop. "You have to watch yourself being you." "It's great though," adds Locke, "Don't regret a thing. The best things are all the fabulous country retreats."He flicks his glossy shoulder-length hair. Serpentine water splatters his BlackBerry, and falls like rain. "The worst thing," says Dunlop, "is the not knowing what's real."
Millie wears: dress, H&M; headband made by stylist. Caggie wears: dress, Monsoon. Ollie wears: suit, shirt and bowtie, all Topman. Styling by Helen Seamons. Make-up by Alex Byrne at Terrie Tanaka, using Mac cosmetics. Nails by Mai Kodama, using Mac cosmetics. special thanks to the Serpentine Lido (020 7706 3422) and the Lido Cafe
Tom Kitchin, chef
Edinburgh-based Michelin-starred chef Tom Kitchin has a close relationship with the great outdoors and the natural cycle of things. "I'm obsessive about it," he says. "Seasonality is key in my kitchen. I'm always telling my chefs they have to know the story behind what they're cooking."
This obsession can be traced back to childhood family camping trips to Arisaig on Scotland's west coast ? "You sort of resent it when you're younger: it's cold, usually raining and don't even get me started on the fierce Scottish midges," he says. But those holidays are also where he learned to fish. "My dad would take us fishing for mackerel and we'd come back with loads ? too many for the family to eat, so my brother and I would sneak off with the rest and try to sell the surplus fish to other people on the campsite."
Now with two children of his own, is he tempted to head out into the wilderness with them? "I'd love to get into camping, but I need to persuade Michaela [his wife and business partner]. She'd prefer to stay in a nice countryside hotel. We work really hard, and camping can be hard work, especially with the unpredictable Scottish weather. Kasper, our three-year-old, is really keen ? he'd love to sleep in a tent and go on a great adventure, so perhaps I'll just take him."
The Kitchin, 78 Commercial Quay, Leith, Edinburgh (0131 555 1755; thekitchin.com)
With thanks to tiso.com