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inside Wixam Park Development New domestic abuse codeword scheme to help victims seek support Marston Vale Forest – Accessing nature in a global pandemic £25 Prize Crossword


10,000 copies Delivered to Elstow, Shortstown, Wixams, Wilstead, Houghton Conquest, Stewartby, Marston Moretaine.

contents Wixam Park Development 4 Volunteering Opportunities 6 Mamma’s House 8 New domestic abuse codeword scheme to help victims seek support 10 Marvellous Minds 12 Prize Crossword 14 Marston Forest – Accessing nature in a global pandemic 16 Wood Green 18 Phoenix French Bulldog Rescue 19 The Composing Cook Recipe – Giant triple choc cookies 20 Real Bread Week 24 Safer Internet Day 26 Technology support during lockdown 27 Gardening – Heavenly Hellebores 28 Last Months Crossword Answers 30


Carlton & Chellington

Milton Ernest




Stevington Bromham

Front cover image courtesy of The Woolpack, Wilstead


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In total, 62 responses were received via the consultation website (https://oandh.com/ wixam-park/), with the majority of responses supportive of the provision of education, sustainable transport options and biodiversity on site. Specifically, 71% of respondents stated their support for the provision of land for the delivery of a two-form entry primary school on site, whilst an impressive 76% of respondents supported the provision of dedicated walking and cycle routes to promote sustainable transport options. The provision of open space on the site was increased following feedback from the consultation to 26 hectares, with 85% of respondents agreeing that the consideration of biodiversity in new developments was important. The final proposals include plans to plant new trees, as well as retain the existing woodland and pond areas that are of high ecological value.

Wixam Park Planning Application Submitted to Central Bedfordshire Council following Public Consultation Following public consultation that ran from 27th October to 10th November 2020, O&H, the landowner and master developer, has submitted an outline planning application with all matters reserved except access, to Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) for the development of Wixam Park. The planning application is for up to 1,200 dwellings of a mix a sizes, types, and tenures, including an elderly care facility and provision for affordable housing. As part of public consultation on the proposals, residents at Wixams and surrounding villages including Houghton Conquest and Ampthill were asked to submit their thoughts on the proposals for the Wixam Park development, which falls on land to the South of Wixams.


Tobin Rickets, O&H’s Director commented: “We were pleased with the positive response to our consultation from the local community and look forward to progressing through the planning application process with CBC. “Wixam Park would form a logical extension to the ongoing delivery of the Wixams community, helping to support housing need in the area. We have developed the proposals for Wixam Park over several years and are fully committed to consulting with all stakeholders as the proposals progress. We encourage residents to continue sending feedback via email, post, or phone. Any feedback received at this stage will inform the wider development process” Residents can access the application information via the CBC website, and we encourage residents to comment on the application via the planning portal. Any further comments can be sent directly to wixampark@oandh.com or call freephone 0800 368 7312. If you are unable to access these platforms, postal comments can also be received at: Wixam Park Project Team, Snapdragon at PLMR, Church House, 29 Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BL.

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VOLUNTEERING Refill Bedford Social Media Volunteer Refill Bedford is looking for someone to help grow their online presence and keep their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts exciting and up-todate. Could you help them?

Chair of Campaign to Protect Rural England Bedfordshire We are looking for someone with a big passion for environmental and countryside issues who wants to make a difference in Bedfordshire. Ideally you will also have some experience of the charity sector or board management and the ability to inspire others.

Volunteering Opportunities

Many organisations are having to cut down on the activities that volunteers would normally engage in due to the pandemic. Others are busier than ever and not in a position to train new volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, please register on our system and be patient as it may take a while for organisations to be able to accommodate you. Search for any of this month’s featured roles by adding the name of the organisation into the keyword field on our Simply Connect opportunity search at cvsbeds.org.uk/volunteer

43 Bromham Road, Bedford Call 01234 354 366 or Email: volunteering@cvsbeds.org.uk www.cvsbeds.org.uk 6

Greensand Country Volunteer Researcher Greensand Country Landscape Partnership is looking for volunteers to uncover and gather stories, past and present, from across Greensand Country. These stories will provide inspiration for our commissioned artists, whose work will be presented during The Greensand Festival in May 2021. Ideal for someone interested in local and oral history looking for a project that can be done remotely.

Brownie Youth Leader, Kempston Girlguiding Bedfordshire provides a rewarding volunteering role for those wanting to get stuck into adventures and activities and develop great relationships. The Brownies is about trying new things that teach girls aged seven to ten about themselves, their community and their world. The Kempston group meets on Wednesdays between 6 and 7.30 pm.

Family Support Volunteer – Home Visiting for Together@FACES Project FACES are always looking to recruit home-visiting volunteers to support families with children aged 0-19 and who are struggling to cope for one reason or another. Challenges may be parental or child ill health, mental health, social isolation, practical support, support with child development. Volunteers are matched to families and support is tailored to a family’s needs. You should be prepared to offer the minimum of 3 hours per week and an additional 2 hours for one to one supervision approximately every 6 weeks depending on the complexity of the family situation.


Fully trained and supervised Home Helps. Thorough vetting and DBS checks on all workers. Regular daily or weekly visits to suit your needs. A variety of payment methods including monthly invoicing.

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isn’t cancelled

It’s been a tough year, friends and family usually at the centre of our lives have had to stay at a distance. Many of us have missed sharing important mile stones with our loved ones. Grandparents especially can feel isolated and lonely and as though they are missing out on their grandchildren growing up. But it’s all to keep each other safe, and one day soon we can make new memories together. So until then here’s five ways you can spread the love on Valentine’s Day (and any other day) with Grandparents and loved ones.

It’s been a tough year, friends and family usually at the centre of our lives have had to stay at a distance. Many of us have missed sharing important mile stones with our loved ones. Grandparents especially can feel isolated and lonely and as though they are missing out on their grandchildren growing up. But it’s all to keep each other safe, and one day soon we can make new memories together.

For more follow @ mammas_house on Instagram 8

1. Go old school and call. Phoning regularly can be a great way of feeling more connected to grandparents. It’s lovely to catch up and fill each other in, or just to check everyone is ok. 2. Make a card and post it. The post service is still going (thank you posties) and everyone loves receiving something in the post. Even better it doubles up as some craft time with the kids. So get the craft box out and make something full of love. 3. Let grandparents join in on bedtime. Children don’t always want to sit still for a chat. So having a purpose for a virtual call might help. It also allows grandparents to continue to feel as involved as before lockdown. Letting them read the bedtime stories is a great way to help them feel more involved. 4. Drop off some homemade treats at the doorstep. Why not make some marshmallow crispy hearts (recipe on my Instagram) for your grandparents and loved ones and leave them on the doorstep. 5. Promise a future visit. Keeping each other safe is the priority at the moment, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. So sow some hope to the future with a promise to an in person visit.


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The force and the Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, are supporting a new domestic abuse codeword scheme which launched Thursday 14th January to help victims access emergency support in the community via local pharmacies.


Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. If someone is in immediate danger, call 999.

IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING DOMESTIC ABUSE domestic abuse please visit www.bedfordshire.police.uk/information-andWE ARE HERE TO SUPPORT YOU. services/Crime/Domestic-abuse The “Ask for ANI” (pronounced Annie) scheme has To find out more information and advice about

been devised byuse the Home OfficeSpace in collaboration Ask to the Safe or ask for ANI at the healthcare counter. Victims of domestic abuse can also contact with pharmacy associations, the police, and Signpost for free and confidential support, whether partners working in the domestic abuse sector. the abuse has been reported or not. Anyone experiencing abuse will be able to use the Signpost’s experienced staff and volunteers know codeword “ANI” at participating pharmacies, which stands for “Action Needed Immediately”, to indicate what emotions and challenges victims may be going through. They are specially trained to listen they require emergency police response, or help to and give help and advice. Often just talking to find support, when speaking to pharmacy staff. someone, especially one who is not family or a friend, can help victims, or those affected, make Participating pharmacies will display information sense of what has happened and find a way to help to let customers know that they can approach cope and recover. their staff to seek help, and when a victim uses the codeword, or asks directly for help, they will be They can provide a safe, neutral place for victims shown to a consultation room and helped to seek to voice their fears, worries and emotions. Their police assistance, or contact appropriate support emotional support is confidential and nonservices, and work has already been undertaken judgemental. They also work with a range of by the Bedfordshire Domestic Abuse Partnership, specialist organisations and community support to get the county’s pharmacies on board with the groups and can make referrals to help victims on scheme in readiness for its launch. their journey. To report domestic abuse, call police on 101, or For further information or to get in contact visit visit a participating pharmacy and ask for “ANI”. www.signpostforbedfordshire.com Alternatively, you can call independent charity 10

Home Counties Loft Ladders, Quality You Can Trust! These days most homeowners suffer from a lack of storage space. So many precious items that need to be kept – but where to store it all? That’s where Home Counties Loft Ladders come in. The company, based locally, offers homeowners the opportunity to maximise their storage space with a loft ladder, 50sqft of boarding and a light - all fully fitted in less than a day from just £355! But it’s not just the affordability of the package that makes Home Counties Loft Ladders stand out, as manager Jamie Oakley explains: ‘Our

watchwords are Quality, Integrity and Value. Quality in the materials that we use for all our installations and the fact that all our loft packages are fitted by time served tradesmen, so our customers are assured of the best job.

- that simply wouldn’t happen if we didn’t adhere to our overriding principles. At the end of the day the old adage that happy customers lead to more happy customers is true and we work hard to make that happen for

every installation we carry out!’ So, if you want to make use of your loft space, call Jamie free on 0808 301 9559 and he’ll be happy to pop round and give you a no obligation quote so you too can make use of your loft!

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At Marvellous Minds Tuition we offer affordable, high quality tuition and educational support to families, specialising in maths, English and science tuition for students aged 4 to 18. We are conveniently located in Bedford town centre and students are able to access tuition from our team of expert tutors in our bright and spacious classrooms, or online from the comfort of their own homes. Our classes are small which allows students to interact and learn with like-minded peers whilst still enjoying the benefits of tailored one to one support from our teachers. All our classes are teacher lead because we believe in real tutors, not computers. Our tuition starts from as little as £10 per class and as an Ofsted registered tuition centre we are also able to accept childcare vouchers, making our services even more affordable to families. 12

“My son attends Marvellous Minds and has been since January 2020. And what an improvement it has made! He has caught up nearly 3 years of work in the space of 10 months. Would highly recommend... Massive thank you Kayleigh” This is a testimonial from one of our parents, but don’t just take her word for it, come and see for yourself! We offer a free trial for new students. Contact us today to arrange a trial to get a feel for our tuition services and the structure of our classes!”

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Complete the crossword, fill in your details below, cut out this section and send to the address below before Friday 12th February Prize Crossword, BedsLife, 17 Foxbrook, Stevington, Bedfordshire MK43 7QY


Last Months Crossword Winner – S Sullivan, Bedford

ACROSS 1 4 8 9 10 11

13 16 19 20 22 23 24

Celebrity, headliner (4) No longer in use (8) Teaching period (6) Libretto, dialogue (6) Pockmark, healed wound (4) Single spot of precipitation (8) Persistence, tenacity (13) Going to ground (5,3) Belongs to you and me (4) Frail, ailing (6) Joined (6) Long-handled frying pans (8) Effortless (4)

DOWN 2 3 4 5

6 7 12 14 15 17 18 For last months answers please turn to P30

Name: Address: 14



Wilful betrayal (9) Set aside, save (7) Proprietor (5) Period of sustained drinking (informal) (7) Enticed (5) Apex (3) Without scent (9) Small glamorous white dog (7) Defeat decisively (7) Prizes awarded for peace, physics, literature etc. (5) Home of Snowdonia National Park (5) Large deer (3)


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Accessing nature in a global pandemic

With the New Year came a new lockdown, and adapting to the changing restrictions has been a really challenging time for a lot of people. But when we’re all spending more free time inside, how can we make sure that we’re still accessing the natural environment?

Planting trees is important for wildlife and for the benefit of the planet, but a big part of tree planting is also for people: creating outdoor places that we can enjoy and use to connect with nature in a meaningful way. Even for just a small amount of time, being in a forest, park or any green space has been proven to stimulate our senses, improve our mood and mental health and enrich our lives. Taking a break outdoors improves our physical health, but even if our daily exercise only consists of a quick walk around the block it can be a great opportunity to connect with our environment, if we look out for signs of nature threaded through our community. Staying close to home is important in the circumstances, so spend some time looking at your local area to see if there are walks or green spaces nearby that you can explore. If you get stuck try asking for recommendations on social media community forums, or look for local walking routes in your area like on our website marstonvale.org/ walks-and-routes.

• If you’ve got the space try making a log pile or compost heap, or leave an area of your garden naturally unkempt for small mammals to nest and insects to live Or if you’re feeling particularly crafty – or want to learn a new lockdown skill – you could even search online for the plans and create a hedgehog house or bird box.

Interacting with wildlife is something that can be achieved even without leaving your home, and a great way to access nature. Think about what you can do to encourage wildlife in your garden or outdoor space, whatever size it may be -

For an indoor activity, why not get creative? Paint, draw or write about what you can see from your window. Use your sense to start planning your next adventure once restrictions allow – what does a perfect day outdoors feel, look or even smell like? What would you like to do? What would you like to see? Capturing the benefits of nature and how they make us feel now can help us to appreciate that feeling later.

• Window boxes, wall-mounted bug boxes and bird feeders are all readily available online, and a great way to support a range of species over the winter months in a limited space

Being in touch with the natural world during these difficult times is so important to our wellbeing, and being mindful to take some time and make a small connection every day can make a big difference. 17

Transforming pets’ behaviour The support services offered by Wood Green, The Animals Charity have helped thousands of pet owners in the past year. Going beyond the rehabilitation and rehoming of dogs, cats and small animals, Wood Green is also able to help people resolve any pet-related queries or concerns.

work to be done. Sue Ketland, an experienced Dog Behaviour & Training Specialist at Wood Green, arranged a series of free one-to-one sessions with Mabel and her owner at a local nature reserve. Over this 10-week period, Mabel slowly learned to meet people and other dogs – including Sue’s dog, Reef – with plenty of positive reinforcement along the way.

These come in many different shapes and sizes, like one distressed dog owner who called Wood Green’s Pet Support team after her puppy, a Border Collie called Mabel, had bitten her vet through fear. As a first step to address the situation, Mabel joined one of Wood Green’s puppy training courses and the owner was given tailored advice to continue the training at home.

If you are struggling with any pet-related issue, however big or small, please contact Wood Green as soon as possible. The charity may be able to offer a solution through advice, behavioural support or even financial support. If you are no longer able to care for a pet, their friendly team can help with that too.

Mabel’s behaviour and emotional wellbeing improved during the course, but there was still

Talk to Wood Green’s team on 0300 303 9333 or visit woodgreen.org.uk to find out more.

Looking for free pet advice? Our team can help. At Wood Green, we can support you with all aspects of pet care – from behavioural problems and dietary needs, to health and happiness.

Registered Charity Number 298348 00782ks0620

To find out more, please call 0300 303 9333 or email pet.support@woodgreen.org.uk 18

we know that many people find a great deal of comfort and purpose by creating a tribute fund in their name, for a cause close to their heart. By

for a loved one, please visit inmemory.woodgreen. org.uk or contact Wood Green’s In-Memory Giving team on 0300 303 9333 option 3.

Raising Frenchies from the Ashes, with TLC

Phoenix French Bulldog Rescue has been established in the UK since 2017 not only to offer a home to any French Bulldog, or cross-breed thereof, in need within the UK, but also to educate the public on this wonderful breed, promote and support good ownership and to help keep Frenchies at home with their families wherever possible. Sometimes, people just need advice and support to be able to manage and keep their pet, at other times they need our non-judgemental, professional help in rehoming their dog. As much

as we can often be heard to say that it is ‘all about the dog’ we never lose sight of the fact that there is often a broken-hearted human at the end of a surrendered dog’s lead. We will never judge and all our volunteers are mindful of this. Other dogs may be genuine ‘rescues’ and our Team are well-versed in collecting these and seeking appropriate medical attention immediately, before they even reach their specialist foster-homes where the real mending can begin. All our dogs receive the very best care, medically and psychologically, during foster and afterwards in adoption. We will never turn away a dog in genuine need unless there are extremely exceptional circumstances For General Enquiries please call 0300 772 7716 or email: enquiries@phoenixfrenchbulldogrescue.org www.phoenixfrenchbulldogrescue.org Registered Charity No. 1171943


The Composing Cook The Composing Cook

GIANT TRIPLE CHOCOLATE CHIP C KIES As we approach Valentines Day, there’s only one way to say “I Love You”, and that is through Chocolate. Not just one type, but how about a triple hit of it, via my Giant Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies. Come on, you know you want to.

INGREDIENTS: 125g butter 75g light brown sugar 50g caster sugar 125g dark chocolate 1 large egg 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 150g plain flour 30g cocoa powder 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda ½ teaspoon salt 125g dark chocolate chips 125g milk chocolate chips 100g white chocolate chips Makes 12 Giant Cookies

Preheat the oven to 170° or fan 160° and have 2 baking trays ready, which have been lined with greaseproof paper. In a free standing mixer, add the butter, light brown sugar, caster sugar and beat until well combined. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave and add this to the mixer along with the egg, vanilla extract and give it another mix. In a separate bowl mix together the plain flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. With the mixer on add this dry mix, 1 tablespoon at a time, to the mixer until well combined. Now add all the chocolate chips and mix well. Take a tablespoon and divide the mixture into 12 rough balls, placing six on each tray making sure you leave enough room in between each one. Place trays in the oven and cook for 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave on the baking trays for 5 minutes. Place the cookies on a cooling rack so they continue to cool and harden. Once cooled, eat at your pleasure and remember to share, let’s not forget; it is Valentine’s Day after all.

You can watch me make the Giant Triple Chocolate Chip cookies by visiting www.youtube.com and in the search engine type: The Composing Cook, and there you will find me. In the video, I do also show you how to freeze these in batches so you always have an emergency stash ready for when you need that chocolate hit.


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The Woolpack Having lived in the Village of Wilstead nearly twenty years then what better than to take the Lease of the Woolpack when it came up three years ago. Myself my husband and two sons all took on the reins of the old pub Circa 1888, I’m sure there’s a lot of stories that could be told over the years. We soon got stuck in and were busy up until we were struck down with government shutdowns. We swiftly adapted the business into providing a takeaway service and got off to a roaring start with all our cancellations from the restaurant turning into takeaway Sunday lunches for that first Mothers Day an we’ve gone on from there. We provide our services Wednesday Saturday 5pm - 8.30pm -Sunday 12-4.30 pm. As a family we cannot thank the people of Wilstead & Wixams & surrounding villages for all the continued support they have shown over the last year a very special place to live.

PIZZA MENUh base with our homemade

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S Wraps including Chunky chips & Salad Garnish Crispy Chicken & Cajun Mayonnaise £7.00 Crispy Chicken & vegetable Fajita wrap £7.00 Spicy Roasted Ve getable & Chedda r V £6.50 Falafel & Humm us Ve £7.00

HOMEMADE B URGERS CHU NKY CHIPS & The Woolpack Bu COLESLAW 2 x 4oz patties se rger 4oz / 8oz £7 .00 / £9.00 rved with a toasted brioche

shredded lettuce ,tomato chutney, tomato, sliced gh Mayo, sliced erkins The Big Pac £10.00 2 x 4oz cheesebu rgers with a toas ted brioche buns lettuce,diced on ion, and our spec Roasted Veg & M ial sauce ozzarella Burger Our freshly mad (V) (VE) £9.00 e vegetable burg er with a mozza rella served in a brioche bun lettu sliced gherkins to ce tomato mato chutney m ayonnaise Double stacked Ca jun Chicken Burger Breaded Chicken £9.00 with a toasted br ioche cajun may onnaise,lettuce Add Bacon £1.00 Cheese £0.50


IC DISHES Freshly made Ba ttered Cod, Chips garden peas £9.00 Freshly made Pie of the day Mash or Chips Garden peas £10.00 Gammon & Chips pineapple/egg (gf ) £9.00 Whole-tail Scam pi ,Chips & garden peas £9.00 Lasagne Chips & Coleslaw £9.00 Chilli Con Carne & Rice £8.50 Vegan Chilli & Ric e (v) (ve) £8.50 Curry of the day served with Rice £8.50 add naan bread for £1.50 PASTA DISH

ES Woolpack style Carbonara (GF) £9 .00 Mac n Cheese £8 .00 Pasta Choice of sauce Below (v) £9.00 Alfreddo ( Mushr oom) Arrabiatta (spicy Tomato) Breaded Mushroo ms v with a Blue cheese or Garlic Mayo Dip £3.75 Mozzarella Stick s 6 v £3.75 Onion Rings 6 v. £3.00 Chunky Chips v GF. £2.50 Skinny Chips v GF . £2.50 Sweet Potato Fri es v GF £3.00



2 Bedford Rd, Wilstead MK45 3HW 01234 742318 www.woolpackwilstead.com

Real Bread Week

February 22nd – March 1st Real Bread Week is the annual celebration of local, independent Real Bread bakeries, and homebaked bread. Bread is one of the oldest prepared foods. It dates back to Neolithic times, when lumps of unleavened dough (made without yeast or other raising agents), were placed on hot stones in the embers of a wood fire. Archaeologists have correlated the development of human civilisations with the evolution of what is now regarded as the modern species of bread wheat. Over the centuries bread became synonymous with life. In England bread defined the social hierarchy. The word “Lord” comes from the AngloSaxon hlaford meaning “loaf ward”, the master who supplies food. Bread-making is chemistry-you-can-eat. Our ancestors discovered that ground grain mixed into a rough porridge with water could be transformed into a tasty, moist, puffy, mass that was crisp on the outside, simply by placing it near a fire. It was an extraordinary discovery. These flat breads as they are called are still meal staples in the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. Somewhere along the way we also discovered that if the porridge mixture was left in the open air for a few days it magically began to rise and could then be baked into the most wonderful cloud-like substance, leavened bread. 24

Although bread has occupied a central role in our lives and diet it hasn’t all been plain sailing. The rise of ultra-refined industrial bread in the middle of the last century led to mass-produced tasteless dough devoid of much nutritional benefit. Then there was the bread boycott led by Dr. Atkins and his low-carb, high protein comrades. But real bread - naturally leavened, long-fermented, and hearth-baked is enjoying a comeback, thanks to bread pioneers in artisan bakeries across the country. They use an array of flours and traditional grains, like emmer and spelt. It’s now possible to buy high quality, beautiful, tasty loaves on many high streets. More of us are making our own bread too. There are bread-making classes and online tutorials. At the most basic level, it’s fairly straightforward to transform flour, water, salt and yeast into a loaf of bread and this is why the Real bread Campaign is keen to get children involved. The joy of nursing their first loaf from raw ingredients to mouthwatering yumminess slathered with butter and jam should not be underestimated. From then on it becomes a highly addictive pastime: fruit loaf, crusty rolls, focaccia…the urge to experiment and perfect the dough takes over. It’s the perfect family activity…and you can eat the results. What could be nicer? By Louise Addison

Having grown up in Bedford Eleanor set up Tutor Doctor in 2019 having previously worked in a local school as a Careers Officer. She has been helping students grow in confidence and ability within Bedford and the surrounding villages ever since. Tutor Doctor Bedford offers a tailor-made tutoring service which is designed to meet the child where they are and get them to where they want to be. Eleanor thoroughly assesses a student’s needs and then carefully selects the best-fit tutor based on goals, personality and learning level. As a working mum of two school age children, Eleanor completely understands the constant juggling families are facing and also recognises just how hard it can be for children at the moment. The online provision provided by schools has improved dramatically since the previous lockdown, but Eleanor is seeing first-hand how some children are struggling to maintain focus and motivation. This is where one-to-one, bespoke tuition can really help. Eleanor’s tutors are all hand-picked, experienced and well qualified. All of them have an enhanced DBS check and will help students with their studies in addition to helping develop those allimportant executive functioning skills, add routine to the week and help maintain resilience during these challenging times.

All tuition is currently delivered online via a purpose-built virtual learning platform and can move to in-home once it is safe to do so, at times which are convenient to you and your family. If you would like to speak with Eleanor about your child’s education then give her a call on 07837 268217 or contact her at efox@tutordoctor.co.uk

“My son is studying A level Spanish and really needed some help in order to improve his grade for Uni applications. I researched the options for tutors locally and decided to contact Tutor Doctor. And I’m so glad I did. The service provided right from the start has been nothing but professional. There was an initial phone call and then a meeting with my son to establish his requirements in detail so the best match to a tutor could be made. He has indeed been matched with a fantastic tutor and in just a few weeks has already gained confidence which has been reflected in his schoolwork. I also receive feedback following each lesson so I can keep track of progress. All in all Tutor Doctor is a service worth investing in and I wouldn’t hesitate to use it again or recommend it.” 25

Safer Internet Day Tuesday 9th February

Safer Internet Day is now celebrated globally in February each year to promote the safe and positive use of digital technology. The day helps to highlight positive uses of technology and to explore how we create a better and safer online community. This year’s slogan is Create, Connect and Share Respect: A better internet starts with you. Here are some steps we can all take to stay safe online: Create complex passwords – Create strong, unique passwords for all your critical accounts. Corporate hacks are commonplace now. One database breach can reveal tens of thousands of user passwords. If you reuse your passwords, a hacker can take the leaked data from one attack and use it to login to your other accounts. The best advice is to use a password manager to help you create and store strong passwords for all of your accounts. Boost your network security – Now that your logins are safer, make sure that your connections are secure. When you are at home or at work a password-protected router will encrypt your data. When you are out and about you might be tempted to use free, public Wi-Fi. But this is often unsecured, which means it’s relatively easy for a hacker to access your device or information. If you access the internet a lot when you are away from home it’s worth investing in a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is a piece of software that creates a secure connection over the internet, so you can safely connect from anywhere. Use a firewall – This is an electronic barrier that blocks unauthorized access to your computers and 26

devices. It is often included with comprehensive security software. A firewall ensures that all of the devices connected to your network are secured, including Internet of Things (IoT) devices like smart thermostats and webcams. This is important since many IoT devices aren’t equipped with their own security measures, giving hackers a vulnerable point of entry to your entire network. Watch what you click – Many of today’s online threats are based on phishing or social engineering, when you are tricked into revealing personal or sensitive information for fraudulent purposes. Spam emails, phony “free” offers, online quizzes all use these tactics to entice you to click on dangerous links or give up your personal information. Share selectively – Be cautious about what you share, particularly when it comes to your identity information. Information could be used to impersonate you, or guess your passwords and logins. Think mobile! – Mobile devices face new risks: dangerous apps and fraudulent links sent by text message. Don’t respond to messages from strangers, and only download apps from official app stores after reading reviews first. Make sure that your security software is enabled on your mobile, just like your computers and other devices. By Ian McMullan

Technology support during the lockdown With information technology playing such an important role during the lockdown, if problems develop with your computer, tablet, mobile phone or internet connection, it can severely restrict your connection to the internet. It will affect whether you can work from home, connect to school, college or university for remote learning, receive important communications or simply stay in touch with friends and family. Home Computer UK is committed to keeping your IT equipment correctly set up and working well by offering support if you are experiencing technical difficulties. So, regardless of whether you use your equipment for communication, work, home learning or entertainment we continue to offer free diagnostic and consultation services to clients in the Bedfordshire area.

Many issues can be resolved remotely allowing you to work with your computer or mobile equipment without interruption. Software installations, fixes and updates can be arranged and speed and access problems can be quickly sorted out. Replacement equipment and parts are available if needed.

Friendly, helpful and no-obligation advice is always available by calling free on 0800 246 1175. If ‘Bedslife Magazine’ is mentioned during your call, a 7.5% discount will be applied once, to the hours you request.


Heavenly Hellebores I fell in love with Hellebores a few years ago after an early spring visit to the Botanical Gardens in Cambridge where there are some beautiful displays. They provide a spring garden with elegant colour, and I admit to being quite excited when they appear. They are poisonous plants so are probably best avoided if you have young children. They have a somewhat magical history. A mythological physician named Melampus was said to have observed the cathartic effect of hellebore on goats who munched on the plants. Melampus allegedly then used the milk of the same goats to cure the daughters of the King of Argos of their madness. The plant was used for its purgative properties into the Middle Ages and beyond. Personally, I would recommend growing them only for their attractiveness! The original species originated in the northern parts of Greece and Turkey, but they grow incredibly well in British gardens. Having said that, I was disappointed when my first hellebore plants didn’t thrive initially. They seemed to succumb to disease quite easily. I subsequently learned this this was black rot. Then I heard Alan Titchmarsh’s advice to carefully cut the large fingered leaves from the plant at ground level in January, taking care not to damage the buds. This somewhat brutal treatment has worked a treat and my hellebores are now flourishing. Hellebores like well-drained soil in sun or dappled shade. My clumps are happily increasing in size

year-on-year. The stems shoot up to 25-30cm high between late January and February and the flowers appear at the top. Colours tend to be subtle: green-tinged white, yellow, oxblood red or dull purple but they glow in the more subdued light at this time of year. They would certainly appear washed-out in the bright sun of late spring and summer. The flowers are rich in nectar so provide food for early bees. There are many varieties of hellebore, with single or double flowers. Just note that not all of them are easy to grow. I have struggled to get the Christmas Rose Helleborus niger to survive, never mind flower, but I’ve had much more success with the Green hellebore, Helleborus viridis, the pretty pink Lenten rose Helleborus x hybridus, which self-seeds quite nicely, and also the Helleborus x hybridus Ashwood Garden hybrids, which come in a variety of colours but don’t seem to self-seed as freely, at least in my garden. Dig in plenty of mushroom compost before planting, and mulch after you’ve cut the leaves off. Dust with a blood, bone and fishmeal mix after flowering and mulch again with wellrotted leaf mould or compost. Dig up any small self-seeded plants and use them as gifts, or to increase your own colony. Happy gardening, By Rachael Leverton


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