A Message From Babette

27th February 2021

Babette Bluett-Duncan


So I came back to the UK last Saturday. But what an adventure, a bit of an ordeal somewhat. The arrival at Heathrow was tough, very long queues, as the border control staff had to check so many different documents, and some of us were “Oh, nobody told me…!” so back to the back of the queue, but the poor staff were exhausted, and drained. When it was finally my turn after nearly two hours standing, I approached the man with a smile and a thank you for what he has to do. And also told him that my phone is a bit ancient so some of the documents were not very readable on it so I had my laptop ready. It was also the first time that I was re-entering the country after Brexit, and I have a French passport… but all went well, and the gentleman didn’t even check two of the required documents. It pays to be nice and see life from the other’s point of view.

However, Andrew and the children who were waiting for me had found out that I needed to isolate for 10 days, and the penny only dropped then that that meant I had to isolate from them too! Oh boy that was a blow… funny how easy it is to miss one part of the story… So, no cuddling, no kissing, masks on until we got home, then mostly in the spare room, otherwise respecting 2m distancing. The whole thing was very tough, probably worse of all because we hadn’t prepared ourselves. Arrival day being day 0, I had some pre-ordered tests ready and on day 2 did the 1st of the 2 required Covid tests, which came back on Wednesday as negative, phew! Now although I am still in quarantine, not going out, and having to do another test on day 8, somewhat at home we have relaxed, and as one of my sisters expressed, I have had far less chances to contract Covid between leaving the clinic with a negative test and my masked travel back home than any of the family going to the supermarket or the petrol pump. But we follow guidelines, and the French rebel in me really loves her adoptive country and the general following of rules, so I managed to even accept these ones.

Health wise, I left Germany with my two biggest liver tumours having shrunk from 3.5cm to 2.9cm, which is nearly 20%, and that was after Henning had warned me not to expect any reduction in just three weeks (time elapsed between the two ultrasounds) as sometimes tumours first increase anyway. So this result is fantastic, and when I asked him for his hunch on why such a result he said “When I see your general attitude in life, and the fact that when you are sad you cry, and when you are happy you sing, then I am not at all astonished…”. Nice one, thank you.

Before leaving, I managed to buy the keyboard that I had been using and donate it to Arcadia so a little bit of me stayed behind with it, together with very moving feedback from all the staff there who seemed to appreciate who I am as a person. Not once, not twice but three times did I hear a member of staff say “everybody loves you here/is going to miss you” which brought tears to my eyes and brings some again writing it now. How blessed am I.

I left Arcadia with what seems to be a regulated weight, and mastered cravings, I am very happy to be well over a stone lighter than before my long fast and stabilised for the last month. I also came back home having “got” meditation. I mean, I had always “got” meditation but my body was always so Speedy Gonzales that what I didn’t know was how to stop. Arcadia, with the numerous treatments which required lying down with nothing to do but be with myself, and with the numerous amounts of vitamin supplements and good food, and with the fact that I had nothing to do most of the time, has turned me into a quieter and calmer person. So thank you to all those who had sent me help with meditation, I am now sorted thank you.

My hair has stopped falling but is extremely sparse so I wear some kind of headwear which I am very pleased with. Some of you didn’t know that I have had blue hair for the last two years so I will show a picture of how I looked two months ago, and one of today.

Photo taken in November 2020

Photo taken now (February 2021)

I do feel tired, so I go slowly, as I also came back with this sentence ”I do not so much need to do less, but to feel more” so that is what I am “doing”, I am Feeling, and this kind of automatically dictates my Doing, and does it without stress nor pressure. Two days ago I cooked my first dish (Ottolenghi Portobello steaks and Butter Bean mash from his newest book Flavour page 210 which I don’t seem to get enough of) and today I am baking two types of sourdough, ciabattine and sourdough crackers so this is always a good sign.

Onwards and upwards!

Have a very good week-end.



Covid-19 Update

Andrew Bluett-Duncan

Director, Art of Living cookshop

Disclaimer: this information is correct at the time of publishing 06/07/2020, our situation will be under continuous review. 

  • Art of Living's Reigate and Cobham shops are now open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 3.00pm.

    At the entrance of the shops, we have a unit that I built with sanitiser and we are encouraging you to use it, especially if you want to touch things in the shop. This also applies to people wearing gloves. 

    We are all wearing visors, which is a great find (thank you Em) because they are far more pleasant to wear than masks, and enable us to be facing you without the 2 metre distance, and above all they allow us to be understood by customers and colleagues alike. I have built a screen in front of the tills and these are working well. We also have more sanitiser there.

    We are still allowing only 3 customers in the shop at any one time. If you come in as a couple, we would ask you to stay together if there are other people in the shop. 

    We’ll be asking you to pay by card if possible and the floor is marked out to give you a guide on distancing.

    Our website shop remains open, alive and kicking.

    Kind regards

    Andrew Bluett-Duncan

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We are pleased to say that we are operational, our website is open for you to place orders and we are dispatching at an unprecedented rate. Our incredible warehouse team have been working non stop to make sure we can still pick, pack and dispatch your orders as quickly as possible. As with most companies, we are operating with fewer staff than we normally would be, so we hope you understand that it may take a little longer than usual to answer your phone calls and respond to your emails.
Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.

To make sure we can answer all customer queries as quickly as possible, please consider the following Frequently Asked Questions before contacting us:

When should I expect my order?
We are currently asking customer to refrain from calling us to chase up delivery dates for orders. This allows us to prioritise actually getting your goods out for delivery. Unfortunately we are not able to answer telephone queries at this time, though you can leave a voicemail message for us. This may, at times, mean that our response times are a little slower than usual but we would ask that you bear with us. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience, but please rest assured that all customer enquiries will be dealt with.

Our warehouse team is working hard to make sure that most products are dispatched within our standard lead time and many items are going out much quicker. Some items do have longer lead times due to our suppliers also working with fewer staff and taking longer to deliver to us.

Depending on whether you gave us your email address or mobile number when you placed your order, we will email or text you once items are dispatched and on the way. Your order confirmation will give you a 'worst case scenario' delivery date.

Why have we suspended taking telephone orders?
We are currently unable to take orders over the phone and so we ask all customers to visit https://aolcookshop.co.uk/ to place orders.

I received my order, but it was incomplete.

We do sometimes part ship orders to ensure the products arrive as quickly as possible. So if you receive a delivery and think something is missing, please check the delivery note as this will let you know what should be in the parcel and if there is anything to follow in future deliveries.

My delivery tracking shows my items have been delivered but I haven’t got them.
Our carriers are currently operating “Contact free” deliveries. If you receive confirmation that something has been delivered but haven’t received it, it’s worth checking around your property or in your designated safe place before contacting us.

Do you have plenty of stock?
In short, yes we do! We are constantly ordering more stock so that we can not only continue to fulfil orders as they are placed, but also reduce the amount of time you have to wait. However, a number of our suppliers have gone from delivering to us in 24 – 48 hours to 10 - 14 days and this, along with a spike in demand means that some items may be delayed, or temporarily unavailable.

I have another question or problem

We would like to assure you that we continue to be here if you need us. Like most of our customers, many of our staff are spending the vast majority of their time at home and we realise that cooking and baking are becoming a sanctuary. We are committed to making sure we do everything we can to continue to supply you with the best quality products at great value.

Please email info@artoflivingcookshop.co.uk.

Thank you for your continued custom and for your support and patience at this challenging time.

We really appreciate it and wish you all health and best wishes.

The Art of Living Team



  • Lyn WatkinsMar 07, 2021

    Dear Babette, So pleased you are back at home with your lovely family. Your positive attitude is an inspiration to us all. xxx


    Dear Babette. Glad to see you looking so happy back at home with your family, and to hear your news. Lovely news also that you are enjoying being back in the kitchen, but now you have tempted me to buy another cookbook!

  • Andrew HealeyMar 03, 2021

    Your Positive Mental Attitude is an inspiration to us all!

  • GeoffPMar 01, 2021

    Babette … you rock! xxx

  • Lynn MyallMar 01, 2021

    Dear Babette, what a brave lovely person you are. I am so glad your battle is showing good results and that you are now back home with your wonderful family. Xx

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