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Aug 13 / Prinza

The great escape: stars go wild in the countryside

Shore leave: Ms Dynamite relaxes on the deck of a canal boat in Oxfordshire. Photograph: Suki Dhanda for the Observer

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

  • Credits:
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  • The Observer, Sunday 7 August 2011
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