Posted by: lucylastic | January 30, 2008

Flowers, flights and ‘free body culture’

Reports of fighting in different parts of Africa barely raise an eyebrow when they appear on the news these days.  The Sudan, Darfur, Kenya – the loss of life becomes humdrum and we barely give it a second thought.  But what of the economic consequences?  Would you be surprised to learn that 25% of all cut flowers sold in Europe come from Kenya?  I was.  And the next most prolific suppliers of flowers to Europe – Holland?  England?  No.  Israel and Columbia – neither places that I readily associate with flowers – or more importantly, the climate for growing them, (much too hot I would have said) – but surprisingly, they are both large exporters of that most English of blooms – the rose.  But as our floral tastes grow ever more exotic, the demand for the unusual and the cheap labour available in these counties has conspired to create a multi-million £ industry.  However, the analysts are very concerned that these already fragile economies will suffer a final, fatal blow as war and terrorism take over from trade.  On average, we spend a mere £36 per person on flowers and plants in the UK – less than a third of the average European spend – where flower giving is much more of a habit than a special occasion treat.  The only flower that we grow prolifically (for commercial purposes) in the UK is the daffodil, (and it’s relative, the narcissi), early season varieties come from Cornwall and the Scilly Isles, mid-season from Lincolnshire and later still from Scotland.  Gratifyingly, Holland even buy Daffs from us Brits!!!  Almost every other flower you see for sale – especially carnations will have come from abroad – and even if the pack is marked ‘Holland’, most likely it will only have been cleared through the auction houses there, not actually grown there – countries as diverse as Chile, Spain, Ecuador and Italy all send carnations to Britain – I confess myself amazed, and somewhat downhearted, surely as a nation of garden lovers, we should do more to support our home grown industry.  After all, supermarkets are now highlighting the air miles on things like snow peas that have been put on the shelf at the expense of a huge carbon footprint.  Shouldn’t we demand the same markings for our flowers?

Talking of flying, I was pleased to see the announcement that in response to growing demand from passengers, a German holiday firm, OssiUrlaub has introduced naturist flights to the Baltic resort of Usedom.  The day trip will cost Euros 499.  “It’s expensive, I know,” managing director Enrico Hess told Reuters by phone. “It’s because the plane’s very small. There’s no real reason why a flight in which one flies naked should be more expensive than any other.”  The 55 passengers will have to remain clothed until they board, and dress before disembarking, said Hess. The crew will remain clothed throughout the flight for safety reasons.  “I wish I could say we thought of it ourselves but the idea came from a customer,” Hess told Reuters by phone. “It’s an unusual gap in the market.”  Naturism, or “free body culture” (FKK) as it is known in Germany, was banned by the Nazis but blossomed again after the Second World War, particularly in eastern Germany.  “There are FKK hotels where you can go into the restaurants and shops naked, for example,” Hess said. “For FKK fans — not that I’m one of them — it’s nothing unusual.”  “I don’t want people to get the wrong idea. It’s not that we’re starting a swinger club in mid-air or something like that,” he added. “We’re a perfectly normal holiday company.”  Now, there’s an idea for Easyjet!!!!



  1. There was a TV prog recently where a florist had a promotion for English flowers and it did very well. I think if the supermarkets were proactive at promoting English flowers over those from Kenya and Holland, more people would look out for them and buy them.

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