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Hucknall & Linby

ISSUE 114 December 2018

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Pets At Christmas Though Christmas is a fun time for humans, even we can feel overwhelmed. For our pets Christmas can be confusing, a bit scary and even dangerous. Here are the top reasons for emergency vet visits over the festive period, and how to avoid them. Vomiting and diarrhoea – Often a result of Rover helping himself to Christmas goodies; one year my brother’s beagle helped himself to our entire cheeseboard, with predictable gastro-intestinal consequences! But sometimes it’s a result of him being fed too many treats or rich food. Ask visitors to refrain from feeding your pets unless they have permission, and keep all festive food out of reach! CHOCOLATE – dark chocolate is poisonous to dogs so seek advice immediately if you suspect that’s what he’s eaten. Lacerations or Bites: -When family members or guests bring their pet, bear in mind your dog or cat will see this as an intrusion into their territory, and some animals are very territorial indeed.

Don’t leave unfamiliar animals alone together, even if they seem to be tolerating each other. In severe cases enmity separate rooms might be in order. If a guest brings a dog and your kids own a treasured hamster or guinea pig keep the small furry being well out of danger; preferably put the cage on a high shelf. Soft Tissue Trauma – Dogs and cats can be stepped on, have things dropped on them, or be hit by cars while running around on the drive as visitors arrive. If Grandma trips over your Chihuahua BOTH might end up in casualty so keep an eye on pets at all times. Foreign body ingestion – The beagle who ate the cheeseboard ate the cheese AND most of the board. Some pets will eat anything. Christmas baubles, lights tinsel and small toys. Ask guests not to leave things on the floor and keep a watchful eye on Rover. If he’s quietly in a corner chewing something, check it’s not Grandma’s spectacles, or false teeth!

Unusual Gifts Perhaps it’s a Secret Santa. Perhaps it’s the uncle you see only once a year, or your brother who has absolutely everything. Or you may be working to a £10 or less budget. Here are some ideas; unusual, funny and a bit off-thewall.

Crossword Puzzle Mug - Complete the crossword while having a cuppa. Then download a brand-new set of clues from the app and try again.

Chocolate Covered Bacon on a stick Yes really. This is a thing and it was hit last year when my teenage son received some from his aunt. We all tried it. So wrong...yet somehow so right! Google for suppliers.

Unusual Clock Everyone needs to tell the time, right? From projection clocks to lightup colour-change clocks, there’s a funky time piece for almost everyone. My son bought my sciencegeek husband a clock last year in which every number was replaced by a scientific formula whose answer corresponded to the hour! He loved it.

Fiddle Toys - Is your recipient a fiddler? Do they jiggle and fiddle with pens? Are they a nail-biter or fingerpicker? A fiddle toy is the perfect gift. Magnetic balls which can be played with and used to sculpt shapes, or fiddle cubes which have a different activity on every face and fit into the average pocket make great gifts.

Gift of Time Voucher - Perhaps money is an issue this year. What skills do you have? Can you walk a dog? Clean a car or a kitchen? Put together some flat-pack furniture? Make a cake? Get creative and make a voucher promising to carry out some chore for your recipient. It’s not about the money.

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Feeding A Crowd At Christmas Whether it’s the gradual increase in food prices over the past year, or your desire to cut back on food waste, there has never been more incentive not to over cater at Christmas. Roasting the turkey is as much part of Christmas as decorating the tree or going for a brisk walk after breakfast. It is tradition, it is untouchable, and it is enjoyed. It is part of what makes the day special. While Christmas lunch itself might be over-the-top extravagant, the rest needn’t involve endless fiddling in the kitchen. The key is to choose dishes that you feel confident cooking (or reheating), where it’s more about assembling key ingredients than doing any heavy duty work in the kitchen. As tempting as it might be to insist on cooking everything yourself, it is almost impossible to do so and also enjoy Christmas with your loved ones. So consider delegating wherever possible. Not having to think about setting and clearing the table, for example, will cut down the time you spend in the kitchen considerably.

But just how do you work out how much food and drink you need when you’re feeding far more people than usual? We’ve come to the rescue. Turkey - Allow approximately 500g per person. This doesn’t mean that you’ll get 500g of meat each, simply that to get a good portion size you need to allow this much turkey-weight per person. So, if you want to feed 8 adults your turkey should be at least 4Kg, more if you want leftovers. Roast beef or pork - If the joint is off the bone, allow 250g per serving – so 2kg for eight people. Allow 350g per serving for roasts on the bone – so around 3kg for eight. Roasties - Everyone loves roasties! Allow 250g of potatoes per person, so 2kg for eight people. Stuffing - You need to allow 100g of stuffing per person, so that’s at least 800g for eight people! With stuffing it’s better to have more than run-out, and it’s great on turkey sandwiches later!

Sprouts - Unless you are a sprout-lover allow 80g per person – or 650g for eight people. If you do have any leftover they go great in bubble and squeak for boxing day brunch. Carrots and other roast or steamed veg - 80g-100g is about right for any serving of vegetables, so you need 800g combined for eight people. I allow more because lots my family are vegetarian. Gravy - 125ml per person is enough for a normal family, but if your relatives are like mine and treat gravy as a food group then allow double. You can always freeze leftovers for an easy addition to midweek suppers. Cranberry Sauce - At least 50g per person. I’m sure I eat more than that though! Bread Sauce - 75ml seems to suffice because not everyone likes it, but those that do LOVE it. Around 600-700ml is usually enough.

Christmas Pudding - A 900g pudding will be plenty to feed eight. Custard - Treat it like gravy. 125ml per person unless your family are the type that can’t stop pouring! Unfortunately, there isn’t one shopping list to suit all families, but this is a good basic guide; adapt it to suit your own catering preferences. Happy feasting! By Tracey Anderson

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Leaves Matter Look Great This Winter

This month – Plants for Christmas With Christmas just around the corner I’m often asked what houseplants plants I recommend as gifts. Here are my top five. Hippeastrum / Amaryllis - is a remarkable bulb, which produces 60cm / 2ft tall, fleshy drainpipe stems and flamboyant trumpet flowers up to 20cm /8in across. ‘Red Lion’ with deep scarlet flowers; ‘Apple Blossom’ with pink-tinged white flowers, and ‘Christmas Gift’ with plain white flowers, are readily available. You can buy them as DIY plant-it-yourself kits, or as readyplanted gifts. Citrus bushes make interesting presents. Sold at this time of year with both flowers and developing fruit, they are deliciously scented. Lemon varieties ‘Meyer’ and ‘Four Seasons ‘are lovely but also consider calamondin oranges. The plant should be kept in a light, frost-free spot over the winter with a minimum night temperature of 5C, then in the summer the pot can be moved outside. Cyclamen persicum is wonderfully decorative. The flowers range from white, through pink, to red. This is probably a gift for a more experienced gardener as persuading it to flower again can be a challenge, but it can be done.

the end of succulent, flattened leaves, and pretty flowers. It likes high humidity while flowering so mist it regularly it with a fine spray of clean water, and feed it monthly with a high-potash feed. When it’s finished flowering put the plant in a light spot and keep the compost just moist. Hyacinthus orientalis ‘Ostara’ is a stunning hyacinth with deep-blue flowers, powerfully scented and particularly nice when planted as a trio in a bowl or basket. Christmas hyacinths are ‘forced’ to flower earlier than they would naturally. They need a cool spot, preferably no more than 13C, so that they do not flop. No-one wants a floppy hyacinth! The bulbs can be planted in the garden afterwards so will continue to provide pleasure in future years. Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ is not a houseplant but it makes a fabulous gift. It flowers from November, while the leaves are still on, through the winter. The pink flowers are scented and a few sprigs in a small vase at this time of year are just joyous. Even better it is totally hardy so is great for the nongreen-fingered, and can be planted out of a pot at any time, if the ground isn’t frozen.

Don’t wrap plants, just tie a big bow around the pot. It’s a thoughtful touch to provide printed or hand-written instructions for aftercare. Make sure any Keep it in full light in winter, at a steady 13C-16C. Give it a liquid feed fortnightly living plant is well watered before you inchand it over. while it is in flower. Water less as the stems start to bend and collapse, then They will probably be a bit neglected keep it completely dry for three months over the festive period, but a good during its dormant period. Gently watering should make sure that they introduce water again as new leaves WRITTEN QUOTE last past New Year. appear. Schlumbergera x buckleyi, the Christmas cactus is a perennial favourite. It has protruding stamens at

Happy festive gardening. By Rachael Leverton

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A Good Read The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton Enid Blyton is an author that most adults will be familiar with and now her books are finding a new generation of readers. Whilst not as well-known as her Famous Five series, or any of her boarding school series, this is nevertheless well loved and fondly remembered. Woods can be mysterious places, full of old trees. Some are older and bigger than others and one such tree is the Magic Faraway Tree. When siblings Joe, Frannie, and Beth move to the outskirts of the wood, they go exploring and discover the tree.

If you like a novel that feels like a luxurious meal in a restaurant where you can enjoy each course at a slow pace, then this is the novel for you. This slow-burner is in no rush to reach its conclusion and invites you to indulge in the world of 19th century Peru. Pulley skilfully mixes facts and historical fiction with fantasy as the novel turns in a way that you don’t expect.

MOTs JUST ÂŁ41!

It is 1859 and Merrick Tremayne is asked to undertake an expedition to Peru by the East India Company. As an ex-opium smuggler, and a gardener, they want him to supervise the search for cinchona trees. The bark of these trees produces quinine, a much sought-after treatment for malaria. Despite knowing that it is a suicide mission, since others have tried and failed, he agrees to go to get away from his miserable life at home. Once in Peru he travels to a mysterious village, given the name Bedlam Stacks. Three large pillars of rock rise into the sky with homes and shops built on to the sides of them. And this is where fact (the expedition did take place, led by Clement Markham, who accompanies the fictitious Merrick) and historical fiction meets fantasy and you realise that the novel is not going where you thought it might.

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A line of salt that no one can cross, statues that move, and a priest with knowledge far beyond his years. What will Merrick discover, and will it ultimately be more valuable to him than the precious quinine?

Unable to see the top they decide to climb it and find that it is inhabited by many magical creatures. There is Silky the fairy, Dame Washalot who spends her time washing laundry and throwing the dirty water down the side of the tree, and Moonface, a happy man with a face like the moon who befriends the children. At the very top of the tree is a ladder and here is the most magical thing about the tree. Each time that the children visit they can climb the ladder and visit a magical land from the Land of Birthdays to the Land of Do-As-YouPlease. Some are pleasant, some are not, but whatever they are the children know that they must not stay too long lest the land moves on to another tree in another wood. Just as the children never know what they will find at the top of the tree, neither does the reader. All the reader knows is that adventure will be had, and their imagination ignited.


explained to our son that if we don’t like a gift we should still say thank you to show our appreciation of the thought.

Christmas With Autism My oldest son has a diagnosis of High Functioning Autism (what used to be called Asperger Syndrome). When he was younger Christmas nearly tipped both of us over the edge.

help? A fidget toy? Noise-cancelling headphones? This approach encourages them to develop their own coping strategies as they get older. A visual method for counting down to Christmas is useful. My son found a chocolate advent calendar too stressful, so we found a fabric one where a Christmas-themed item is added each day with the use of Velcro. Simple but effective.

Even without autism Christmas can be a special kind of hell, but if you’re the parent of an autistic child, or a child with sensory issues, Christmas can come with a super-sized side-serving of stress and meltdowns. Autistic kids often find comfort in routine. Christmas means change: decorations, Christmas music, crowds, balloons, pop-up markets and parades, disruption to the normal school timetable. There’s a lot of potential for upset. Identify possible changes and pre-warn your child.

Be prepared for the odd slip-up! On receiving a scratchy woollen scarf from his Aunty one year he glanced at me and asked, “Do I thank her for the thought even if it was about how to make my neck as itchy as possible?” which left me smiling weakly at my bemused sister-in-law. Finally, if they don’t want to eat the Christmas food and would rather have a sandwich, or a pizza, let them. It’s a

small thing, don’t sweat it. In the grand scheme of things it’s not important. And things change. My fifteen-year-old autistic son now tucks in with the rest of us but for three years between the ages of four and seven he ate cheese on toast for Christmas lunch (because that’s what he ate for lunch every day!). We look back now and smile fondly at the memory. Merry Christmas. By Alison Foster

Many ASD kids don’t like surprises so it might be better to pre-discuss gifts. When our son was younger he didn’t like wrapped gifts, even ours. We left his unwrapped, but my husband and I explained that wrapping was part of our Christmas to each other and it was important for us. We felt it was good for him to see that sometimes he needed to compromise too.

It can be helpful to show them photos or create a social story to help them understand the sequence of events and what will be expected of them. If your autistic child is old enough and / or verbal enough, involve them in planning which events they want to be part of, and which events they’d prefer to skip.

Discuss the Christmas Day schedule in advance. Who will arrive, when and how they should be greeted. Some kids (even those without ASD) hate hugging relatives so prewarn guests if this is an issue. It might be prudent to go through the etiquette for receiving a gift too. We ? eral be

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Why We Hang Stockings And other odd Christmas traditions…

Sleipnir, hoping that Odin would favour them with gifts in return.

Christmas is all about traditions, but why do we hang stockings, eat chocolate logs and drink eggnog (why would anyone drink eggnog?!)

Carolling – You might suppose this is a centuries-old tradition but although the songs go back hundreds of years, visiting neighbours to bid them good luck and good cheer by singing for them didn’t happen until the Victorian era.

Stockings – Noddy Holder belting out, ‘Are you hanging up your stocking on the wall?’ is a Christmas tradition in itself. There’s no official explanation of why we hang socks up for Santa though. It probably derives from a tradition of leaving out hay-filled shoes on December 5, the eve of St. Nicholas’ feast day. Children would wake to discover that the hay they left for St. Nick’s donkey had been replaced with treats or coins. Snacks for Santa – Whether it’s milk and a chocolate digestive or sherry and mince pie, when we leave goodies for Father Christmas we’re possibly participating in a tradition that some scholars date back to ancient Norse mythology! According to legend, Odin had an eight-legged horse named Sleipnir. Kids would leave treats for

Evergreen decorations – Before Christianity people decorated their homes with evergreens in the winter as a reminder that spring would return. Christians adopted the tradition and decorated evergreen trees with apples to represent the Garden of Eden. The practice really took off when the public learned that Queen Victoria had a decorated Christmas tree as a nod to her German husband’s heritage. The Yule Log – Yule logs also predate Christianity. As part of winter solstice celebrations, Gaels and Celts burned logs decorated with holly, ivy, and pinecones to cleanse themselves of the past year and welcome the next one. The practice changed over time and eventually edible representations

of the log appeared, which is why we eat chocolate logs today! Eggnog – Surely the most revolting of traditions. However, historians agree that ‘nog’ was probably inspired by a medieval drink called ‘posset’, a milky drink made with eggs, milk, and sometimes figs or sherry. These were all pricey ingredients, so it was a bit of status symbol to offer it to guests. No-one seems to know for sure why it’s called ‘nog’, but it maybe from the old word ‘noggin’ which was slang for a wooden cup. Mistletoe - This was associated with fertility and vitality by Celtic Druids because it blossomed even during the most frigid winters. Quite how we got from that kissing under the mistletoe is a mystery, but we do know that it began in the 18th Century and started with guests kissing the hand of their host under the mistletoe, then became progressively more personal over the decades that followed! Advent calendars - The modern advent calendar, with its little doors containing sweets or small gifts, began with Gerhard Lang in the early 1900s. His inspiration was a calendar that his mother made for him when he was a child, featuring 24 coloured pictures

attached to a piece of cardboard. Christmas Cards – In these days of high postage costs, texts and emails, plus more environmental awareness this tradition may be at risk of dying out. Christmas cards are a surprisingly recent tradition anyway, with the first formal card only hitting shelves in 1843. By Tracey Anderson

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Help Mansfield’s Homeless

Nottingham Dance & Fitness Who are Nottingham Dance and Fitness?

Give up your time to help Mansfield’s homeless community

Nottingham Dance and Fitness offer a variety of dance, fitness and cheerleading classes, for both adults and children in the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire area.

If you want to help Mansfield’s homeless community, one of the best ways is to give your time. Mansfield’s Winter Night Shelter, which will be open seven nights a week from 1 December to the end of February, is looking for volunteers to support the staff who will work there during the night.

Right now we have Zumba, Clubbercise, Yoga-Pilates and Burlesque classes near you! We also offer themed hen & birthday party packages, we can take care of your child’s birthday party with Cheerleading or Street Dance and can even offer freestyle dancers and choreographed routines for corporate/private events and nightclubs. We teach our dance/fitness & Cheerleading in Schools and Colleges too, Yoga-Pilates for kids is popular right now!

Extra help is needed each evening from 8pm to 10pm to help set up and from 6am to 8am each morning to help tidy away. Duties could include signing people in, getting bedding ready and serving food and drinks.

New Clubbercise classes starting in January! Check out the front page!

Mansfield District Council is working with local churches and Derby City Mission to expand the night shelter so it will be open for a total of 90 nights - an increase from the 54 nights it was open last year.

So what is Clubbercise? If you love the idea of a night out minus the sticky floors, queues for the loo and the hangover, then you will love Clubbercise! Bringing a night out to your workout with glowsticks, disco lights and club anthems. Disco lights fill the darkened room so it feels more like a dance party than an exercise class!

Volunteers can attend one of two training sessions - on 8 November at the Baptist Church, Rosemary Street, at 6.30pm or 15 November at Chesterfield Road South Methodist Church at 6.30pm. To volunteer, call 07814541643 / 07983506037, email homelessenquiries@mansfield.gov.uk or just turn up to one of the sessions. One of last year’s volunteers, John, said: “All you need is a kind heart and a non-judgmental attitude. “It is a privilege to work alongside these people who are struggling, often through no fault of their own.

There are currently five venues confirmed to host the night shelter on a rota basis - The Stanhope Centre, The Beacon, Chesterfield Road South Methodist Church, Mansfield Baptist Church and St Mark’s Church.

Clubbercise combines dance, toning and combat moves so you can enjoy the music and not worry about getting steps wrong. It’s all about fun and not perfection, enjoy club anthems from 90’s classics to the latest chart hits. The moves are easy to follow and always have high and low options to suit all fitness levels. Clubbercise classes can burn up to 600 Calories per class and It’s also a great way to de-stress and enjoy an endorphin buzz.

Volunteers don’t need any experience or qualifications as full training will be provided.

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Smør Bullar

Christmas In Mansfield An amazing crowd of around 8,000 people attended the annual Big Switch On event in Mansfield Market Place on Sunday 18 November. Many more people visited the town centre throughout the day to enjoy a full range of festive family entertainment. At the Four Seasons Shopping Centre, Santa officially opened his Snow White themed grotto, families took part in B club craft activities, Peter Rabbit™ made special appearances to meet some lucky children and the cast of Mansfield Palace Theatre’s pantomime, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, signed autographs for fans. Throughout the day, crowds flocked to the I Love Christmas in Mansfield Market on West Gate which will remain open every day until 16 December. In the Market Place, the Silverbirds Marching Band performed to an increasing crowd while stilt-walking elves made festive balloon models for wide-eyed children. The Big Switch On stage show itself was opened by the Mayor and started in traditional festive style with opera singer Alexandra Stenson performing Hark the Herald Angels Sing alongside 40 pupils from All Saints’ Catholic Academy. Gary Barlow tribute act, Dan Hadfield, performed a number of well-known hits just before Peter Rabbit™ appeared and invited two children to join him on stage for fun and games. The Pantomime stars made another appearance and gave away family tickets to two children who joined Adam Moss in a performance of Baby Shark. Rock/pop duo Brotherhood got the crowd jumping with their energetic act, which was followed by the return of the mesmerising laser show. Santa then appeared to greet the boys and girls of Mansfield before being joined by Mansfield Town Football Club bosses, John and Carolyn Radford, with their children Hugo, Rupert and Albert, as One Call Insurance sponsored this part of the show.

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Together they pressed the plunger and set off a magical firework display

as the town’s Christmas lights were switched on. Kate Allsop, Executive Mayor of Mansfield, said: “The event was a great success again this year and we want to thank everyone who took part and helped to make it happen. “It was great to see so many families out enjoying the festivities and I hope you will continue to enjoy Christmas in Mansfield as we welcome the ice rink on 30 November.” The event was organised by Mansfield District Council, the Four Season’s Shopping Centre and Mansfield 103.2. This year, the local business community have shown great support with One Call Insurance, Inplace Personnel, Four Seasons Shopping Centre, Mansfield Building Society, Ambitions Personnel and REAL Education all sponsoring Christmas in Mansfield.

Festive Scandinavian cookies, though no-one seems to know their exact origins. These small spheres of butter, flour, powdered sugar and nuts, dusted with more powdered sugar for good measure are a Christmas delight. Makes: 20-24 cookies Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 8-10 minutes

Method Preheat oven to 200C / Gas mark 6 Cream the butter and sugar together thoroughly. Add flour, salt, vanilla and pecans, and mix well. Cover dough and chill for half an hour. Form dough into small balls (about 1 inch / 2.5cm diameter). If the dough seems too crumbly don’t be tempted to add water or the resulting cookies will be hard, just let the heat from your hands gradually bring it all together.

Ingredients Mansfield and Ashfield 2020 again sponsored the Christmas tree in the Market Place. The Mansfield One Call Ice Rink will be open from Friday 30 November to Monday 31 December. For more information and to book tickets, visit www.mansfieldicerink.co.uk. The Big Switch On event marks the start of late night shopping in Mansfield every Thursday in the town centre. Santa’s grotto in Four Seasons is also now open every day until Christmas Eve. If you attended The Big Switch On 2018, Mansfield District Council would like to hear from you to help make improvements to future events. Please fill in the brief evaluation form at www.mansfield.gov.uk/ christmasfeedback. Your name will be entered into a prize draw for the chance to win a £30 voucher to spend in the Four Seasons Shopping Centre.

225g Butter 60g Icing sugar 300g Plain flour, sifted ¼ tsp salt 1 tsp vanilla essence 100g Pecan nuts or walnuts, chopped fine Extra icing sugar for dusting.

Place 2 inches / 5cm apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until set but NOT brown (8-10 minutes). Allow to cool for 3 minutes before removing from baking sheet, then roll in icing sugar. When completely cool, roll in the icing sugar again. They make lovely festive handmade gifts in pretty boxes


The Perfect Cheeseboard How much cheese? - Allow about 100g-125g (3½-4oz) cheese per person if your cheeseboard is being served after a meal, or slightly more - 150g (5oz) per person if you’re serving it as a snack/light meal. Which cheese? - Three or four cheeses is enough – more than that and there’s too much for the palate to enjoy. The cheeses should be different styles, textures and flavours. Cheddar, Stilton and Brie is a classic combination, as it mixes a hard, soft and a blue. Why not go totally British with a traditional West Country Farmhouse Cheddar matched with Cropwell Bishop, a wonderful robust blue, and maybe Bath Soft Cheese, which is gorgeously gooey and mushroomy in flavour.

complement the cheese. Add a chutney - look for unusual brands at farmers’ markets, and some apples or grapes. Drinks - After a meal a sweet fortified white wine is always good. You could even try a whiskey, or a gin and tonic. If the board is going to serve as a light meal, then beer or cider is a good choice. A note on storage - Store in a cold room or the bottom of the fridge, wrapped in waxed paper if possible This allows the cheese to breathe. Let the cheese to come up to room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving for maximum flavour.

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Top Toys For Christmas In these days of iPads and online gaming do kids still play with toys? Yes of course they do. Toys have always changed to keep up with trends and technology and 2018 is no exception. Here we have six of the best.

the two and you have a winning Christmas gift. There is a Hogwarts Hall available but its super-expensive, so this is a good compromise with a nice solid train, five mini-figures plus Dementors.

Fingerlings Untamed Dinos (under £20)

Elasti Plasti (under £15)

Fingerlings are popular robotic friends which cling to your child’s finger and respond to motion and sound. This year is all about the dinosaurs. There are several different Raptors, and word was out at time of printing that there may be a T-Rex one released just before Christmas

LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Express (around £75) The Harry Potter books remain perennially popular, and LEGO is always a hit so combine

So many kids love slime and this stuff is great. It’s superexpandable and you can make giant bubbles with it. As a bonus it’s non-sticky so parents will love it too, or at least not hate it!

Monopoly ‘Cheaters ‘edition or Fortnite Edition (£20-£25) Almost everyone has at least one game of Monopoly at Christmas so ring the changes with the Cheaters edition. It encourages players to fake a dice roll, steal money and even skip rent.

Ok…maybe it’s not in the spirit of Christmas but it sounds more fun than normal Monopoly. And if you want to prise your youngsters away from the computer this festive season, try tempting them with the Fortnite edition!

Ricky the Trick-Lovin Pet (£134.99) Ok this one is pricey, but real pups are NOT for Christmas as we know, and when you factor in the cost and ongoing responsibility of a real puppy, including vet bills, and food, suddenly Ricky looks very good value indeed for a dog-loving child. He is soft and cuddly and has more than 100 sound and motion combinations. He can balance a biscuit on his nose and even give you a paw-shake! Frankly he makes my terrier look like a bit of a dunce. Ricky is perfect if your child is pestering you for a dog but you’re not sure about the longterm commitment, and as a bonus, he doesn’t shed hair!

GraviTrax Starter Set (around £50) I love marble runs, never mind my kids, and GraviTrax is a super-cool marble run for the 21st Century. It encourages the use of imagination in creating tracks and is educational too. It’s great for teaching kids (and adults) about gravity, magnetism, and kinetic energy and it’s so much fun. You can use the tasks and blueprints included to help you to get started but you’ll soon be designing your own tracks. This is trickier than it might appear and is great for encouraging problemsolving skills. There’s even a GraviTrax app to allow you build and test a track before building it in the real word. Have a great Christmas.... By Alison Foster

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Puzzle Page Quick Crossword

Crossword Clues Across 1 Bough (6) 5 Desert plant (6) 8 Cute, charming (8) 9 ‘Windows to the soul’ (4) 10 Largest continent (4) 11 Glass vessel used in science (4,4) 12 Clergyman (6) 13 Make certain (6) 15 Spectator (8) 18 Test, assessment (4) 19 Charismatic celebrity (4) 20 Songwriter (8) 21 Most strange (6) 22 Tune, song (6)

Down 2 Shared out, apportioned again (13) 3 Recount, chronicle (7) 4 Natural environment of an animal (7) 5 Strategy-based board game (5) 6 Swindle, con (5) 7 Without shame (13) 13 Tympanic membrane (body part) (7) 14 Cut out design, motif (7) 16 Mysterious, spooky (5) 17 Manservant, butler (5)

Wordsearch Clues Angel Bauble Bells Boxing day Candle Carols Eggnog Elf Epiphany Fairy lights Gingerbread Gold Grinch Holly Ivy

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Mince pies Mistletoe Myrrh Nativity Reindeer Scrooge Sleigh Snowman Stocking Tree Wassail Wreath

You can find the answers to the puzzles on Page 17


Duvet Day Create a cosy, inviting sanctuary of warmth in your bedroom with a luxurious new duvet. Nestling into the perfect duvet is a great way to spend the cold, dark winter nights.

of these natural fillings is combined feather and down. You can also get down-only filled duvets. Pure goose down is the best quality natural filling. It’s more ‘fluffy’ than duck down, giving a soft and incredibly lightweight duvet. When down is mixed with feathers the duvet becomes more affordable and a bit heavier. This is ideal if you like a more weighty cover. Look for a high percentage of down in relation to feather. Feathers add weight but don’t contribute to the softness of the quilt.

When choosing a new duvet think about your sleeping habits. Do you get too hot or cold during the night? Would you prefer a heavy quilt or a lightweight one? Would a natural or synthetic filling appeal more? If you have allergies take these into consideration too. Invest in the best quality duvet you can afford and it will last for many years. A duvet’s tog rating indicates how warm or cool it will keep you. A tog is a unit of heat; the higher the tog number, the warmer the duvet. So a 13.5 tog is ideal for people who feel the cold. The tog number has no bearing on how heavy or thick the duvet is though, that depends on what the duvet is filled with. Natural fillings have better insulating properties than the cheap synthetic variety. They usually feel lighter and appear thinner than synthetic duvets of the same tog. The most familiar

Synthetic-filled duvets are more practical and generally cheaper than natural fillings but a good one can be just as soft and warm. You can wash them yourself whereas a natural filling requires specialist cleaning. They are also hypoallergenic. Polyester microfibre is the best option as it mimics the feel of natural fillings. Relatively new to the market are sumptuous silk-filled duvets. These are much flatter than other duvets yet afford the same warmth. They are exceptionally light and very soft.

The best silk duvets are made from long strands of mulberry silk. As silk is naturally hypoallergenic and repels dust mites these quilts are perfect for those with allergies, including skin conditions. Silk is a breathable material so helps regulate your body temperature, reducing the effects of night sweats. At the moment, there is no official standard for a tog rating on silk-filled duvets, so different companies may have different measurements. Many suppliers give the number of grams of silk per square metre; the higher this number, the warmer the quilt. When opening a new duvet or taking one out of storage, restore the loft by shaking it out for a few minutes or fluffing it in the dryer on low for 5 minutes. Always check the cleaning instructions for your duvet, as some are dry clean-only Aside from regular spot cleaning, it is recommended to wash your duvet 2 or 3 times a year. For washing duvets at home, use warm water and mild detergent on the delicate cycle of a large machine washer. You may need

to do another rinse cycle to ensure all of the soap is gone. For drying, you will need to run the duvet on low in the dryer for a couple hours. Consider adding a few tennis balls to prevent clumps and ensure the down is evenly dried. If the shell fabric is wrinkled after the duvet is dry, gently steam the fabric (do not iron). Tip!When you bring your new duvet home, keep in mind it can take up to 72 hours after unpacking for it to expand and achieve maximum loft and fluffiness. A good night’s sleep is tremendously important for health and wellbeing, so treat yourself this winter and snuggle into a soft, welcoming duvet to keep the cold at bay.

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run the length of the body, with pressure points on the feet, hands, lips, nose and ears.

Step Into Health Footcare should be a priority in winter - the season for hiding them away in boots and sturdy weatherproof shoes. No sunny airing in sandals or barefoot on beaches and paddling in the sea to keep them healthy. We need to check our shoes are fit for purpose. Choose quality over quantity. Leather is best, with flexible soles, good gripping surfaces, cushioned insoles, insulated for warmth and room to wriggle those toes. Apparently the average adult walks the equivalent of more than 4 times round the world in a lifetime. What percentage of that is Christmas shopping I wonder? After a hard day, soak your weary feet in warm water, with added sea salt or soothing oils. Dry thoroughly with a soft towel, especially between the toes. A spot of tea tree oil helps to prevent fungal problems, like athlete’s foot. File hard skin gently, preferably using a pumice stone in or after a bath. Finish off with a foot file after drying, and apply a foot cream if heels are particularly dry.

Visit a podiatrist for advice if you have any problems. Many foot-problems are self-inflicted. However attractive high heels may be, healthy feet are the real beauty. Pam Ayres’ poem, ‘I wish I’d looked after my teeth’, could apply to feet, for those who regret having bunions and corns. Reflexology Massaging feet keeps them supple and healthy. Reflexology offers this and potentially more. Using specific thumb and finger movements, a reflexologist stimulates the pressure points on your feet or hands that they believe reflect various parts of the body, effecting a beneficial physical change. Reflex actually means reflect. It is thought to have originated five thousand years ago in China and was also used by the Ancient Egyptians. Reflexology was introduced in the west by an American doctor, William Fitzgerald - an ear, nose and throat specialist. In 1917 he published his ideas about interconnecting zones within the body, visualised by 10 vertical strips which

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Studies have concluded that reflexology creates relaxation, reduces pain, improves blood flow, aids post-operative recovery, enhances medical care, benefits mental health by reducing depression, complements cancer care and eases pregnancy, delivery and post-partum effects, including post-partum depression. Reflexologists say that it reduces stress by interrupting stress signals and restoring the body’s equilibrium. It’s important to keep your feet clean, dry and manicured to avoid issues such as, corns, calluses, toenail fungus, and ingrown toenails. Cold weather can dry out your feet and cause cracks, especially in your heels. If not properly treated these offer a way for an infection to get in. When your feet are kept in a warm, moist environment for long periods of time – like winter boots – it provides an ideal environment for toenail fungus to grow and thrive. To keep your feet properly maintained a chiropodist recommends:

Washing them with soap and warm water daily Using a pumice stone to smooth out heels Moisturizing your feet Trimming your nails straight across to avoid ingrown toenails Giving your feet the proper upkeep will keep them looking nice so you’ll be ready when summer comes back around. So this Christmas, step into health. Treat yourself or a loved one to a reflexology session to ease any stress and tension, and make sure your boots are made for walking and your shoes are made for dancing. Merry Christmas from Sue Blain


Board Games “They’re anything but boring” Despite the increasing popularity of computer and electronic games, good old fashioned board games still have their place. There are websites dedicated to fans of the genre, and when I posted a request on Facebook for recommendations, I was inundated with suggestions. Yes, a passion for this type of gaming is still very much alive! As a child I spent rainy Saturday afternoons sprawled across the living room carpet engrossed in a game of Monopoly. British weather being what it is, mum would entertain us three children for several hours with this rather long winded game that has aptly been renamed ‘Monotony’ by some! The most memorable games always involved dad. He was kind, fair and compassionate by nature, but once involved in a game of Monopoly, a much darker side would emerge. If he met with bad luck at the start, he would tug at our heart strings, persuade us to part with valuable properties for next to nothing, talk us into letting him off rent, and then end up winning by placing about fourteen hotels on Park Lane! Merciless, totally merciless. Scrabble is another favourite. Mum and I have enjoyed many an hour challenging one another’s wits and word power. It’s a great way to improve vocabulary and spelling skills, but neither is actually required to win. Dad was notorious for his somewhat unorthodox spellings and when it was

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his turn, he would pour over the board for what seemed like hours, giving mum time to make a drink, eat a round of toast and watch the latest episode of Coronation Street. He would then place his three letter word that included an x and z over a triple letter word-score and earning himself in excess of 100 points. Strategy was always the key, and he was not lacking in that department! I remember the time the family played Pictionary on a caravan holiday. We laughed and teased and giggled at one another’s attempts at drawing, but none were as funny as dad’s rendition of a horse. It took us the best part of an hour to identify it and the cup and saucer that followed weren’t much better! Fun, friendship and family time together are all reasons why board games continue to be as popular now as ever. Nothing can replace that feeling of camaraderie that comes with physical proximity as you nudge elbows and knock knees, or even the board itself, while engrossed in the very serious business of trying to beat down your opponents. All the better if those opponents are blood-relatives! More recent additions to our games cupboard include Blokus, Rummikub and Uno, but there is a whole host of games out there just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed! Go get yourself one! By Debbie Singh-Bhatti

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Chocolate Is A Super Food Just the word is nice to say; CHO...CO...L...A.T.E.......it rolls off your tongue indulgently, but what actually is it and why is it good for you? CHOCOLATE- THEOBROMA CACAO is made from the cacao bean. This is inside a pod which believe it or not grows on tress. The beans are sorted and then crushed in a mill, next they are roasted which and mixed with liquid coca mass (the white bit that surrounds the cacao beans) this silky liquid is sweetened and turns into to that delicious goo we call chocolate. Chocolates dark past... Chocolate is known the world-over as the ‘feel-good’ food, a therapeutic and ancient whole food and an indulgent treat. But what are the true origins of this culinary versatile delight? For sure it’s been around for centuries but it’s come a long way from the chocolate Mars bar we see on a shop shelves today. The history of chocolate chequered past starts in the new world .It’s known that the Aztecs and Mayans created a drink made from the beans of the cacao tree. They called the beverage cocoatl. In 1528, the conquering

Spanish brought the concoction known as chocolate (choco- LAH-tay) back to Spain. In 1615, chocolat (shoco-LAH) debuted at a royal wedding in France. From there, it made its way to England in 1662 as chocolata. The first chocolate house was opened in London in 1657. Chocolate cost 10-15 shillings per pound and was considered a beverage for the elite class. Chocolate is a super-food! This humble cacao been that is the origin of what we know as chocolate is grown in Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and The West African countries of cote de ivory and Ghana. All of these cultures a have been using chocolate for medicinal means for a long while like moisturizing skin with cacao butter cream. Chocolate contains powerful antioxidants called flavonoids, as well as some magnesium. These nutrients may help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. So chocolate is what Nutritionists call a super-food.

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Raw chocolate is highest in anti-oxidants but dark chocolate is the most nutritious common form of chocolate. Compared with milk chocolate, it contains more than double the amount of heart-healthy flavonoids. Milk chocolate has another strike against it: The added milk it contains may reduce the body’s ability to absorb the beneficial flavonoids. To enjoy the delicious taste of chocolate and receive the benefits of flavonoids, choose a dark-chocolate variety that contains at least 70 percent cacao, or cocoa. The dark chocolate also serves as a powerhouse of antioxidants. It reduces blood pressure. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants It helps in the proper functioning of your cardiovascular system It increases the appetite. It helps in reducing weight

It can help in curing several diseases like heart disorders and cancer. Dark chocolates help the brain to release endorphins, which help in mood elevation and also remove headaches. It is also a good remedy for treating depression. People undergoing reatment for high blood sugar can also have dark chocolate as it is beneficial for diabetes.


Elf and Safety at Christmas We’ve all met them - those odd souls who bound up to us on the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, informing us that there are just 358 days until next Christmas.

Experts say that small children often find a trip to Santa ‘terrifying’ and that responsible adults should take appropriate action to lessen the trauma.

They seem thrilled at the prospect of another season of peace and good will to all men, whilst we’re still recovering from the last one, grateful to have emerged unscathed.

I must admit, I do possess a photo of my daughter looking highly distraught, whilst a white haired, bearded stranger desperately tries to wrestle her back on to his knee.

There are health warnings about any number of things, but Christmas rarely features. Yet there are all kinds of dangers lurking behind innocent looking fairy lights and seemingly innocuous novelties. A whopping 31 people have died since 1996 from watering their Christmas tree while the lights were still on. Others have suffered broken arms from pulling Christmas crackers (really?!), and each year a couple of people die after testing 9 volt batteries on their tongue! These facts and figures are not for the faint hearted, nor is paying a visit to Father Christmas apparently.

We all know the dangers of drinking and driving, but did you know that accidents have occurred involving out of control toy racing cars? The police warn us to stay at home when the weather is bad, but not if there is a novice Scalextric driver on the loose! Incidents with unfamiliar toys rate in the top three causes of accidents at Christmas. When my sister and I dropped the odd Lego brick, we knew dad had found it when we heard a loud howl and saw him hopping around on one foot. Treading on broken toy parts, or being stabbed by pins left in shirts, may result in a trip to casualty.

Nothing less than total vigilance is called for. Do not open beer bottles with your teeth, or leave fairy lights on unattended, nor should you use a knife as a substitute for a screwdriver, pair of scissors or tooth pick. Every year, dozens of people are admitted to Accident and Emergency departments over the Christmas period having done one, (or in some cases more than one) of these. Too much drink can cause problems too...Buck’s Fizz in the morning, wine all day, Bailey’s in the evening… It all adds up, leaving you less aware of your surroundings and more prone to trips, slips and uncomfortable outbursts. Moderation should be your keyword for the big day.

They also tell us that 20 percent of all cases of food poisoning are poultryrelated, so you can see there is a capacity for disaster lurking inside almost every oven in the land. How many of us check our oven temperatures using a thermometer? And how many more of us are still eating left-overs a week later. Make an oven thermometer top priority this year, and freeze left-overs or dispose of them after three days. Wherever you are, and whatever you’re up to this season, take care and have a very happy (and safe) Christmas...... and then exhale because it’s a full 358 days before you have to do it all again.

And finally... the Food Standards Agency tells us that some ten million turkeys are sold every year at Christmas.

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With over 30 years experience in the home improvements industry, from demonstrating products right through to installation of the coatings and not to mention the after sales service. We pride ourselves on the slightly more bespoke service that we offer, gone are the pushy sales reps with double glazing salesman style offers. When our surveyor visits they will normally discuss your individual requirements and carry out a survey of your property, explain how the product works and how it might benefit your home, measure and price. On occasion you may be offered the opportunity to take part in a group booking which can greatly reduce the cost! If we are successful in acquiring your much valued custom, your installation is carried out by our local fitting teams and is overseen from start to finish by your own personal advisor, who is on hand to answer any questions or queries as and when they arise. So if you want to keep the cold out, give us a call on 0800 0432277 in order to arrange for one of our surveyors to visit.

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At Ecodry we will undertake any Tested and certified to standards This unique treatment technology Bored of your old, leaking felt pointing or render repairs before that the product penetrates deep into makes roofs self-cleaning, roof? At Ecodry Solutions we only coating your walls commences, the substrate, creating an INVISIBLE extremely water repellent, and use the finest quality Firestone algal growth or salt damage will INSULATION BARRIER that reduces prevents long-term surface RubberCover on our Flat Roofing also be dealt with. water absorption by more than 95%. erosion. systems.

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CONTACT ECODRY SOLUTIONS TODAY! CALL 0800 0432277 Ecodry Solutions, Castle Cavendish, 63-67 St Peters Street, Radford, Nottingham, NG7 3EN


Party Perfection We all love a good party but how many of us feel confident about organising one?

It’s not too late to find the perfect gift.

The art to throwing a successful party can be easily learned by following the ‘When, What, Who, Where and How’ guide to successful party planning. When The first step is to set a date for your Christmas party. The weeks leading up to Christmas are busy and some guests may not be able to attend then, so why not hold it between Christmas and New Year? There is often a lull during this period and a party to liven things up could be a welcome diversion. What What kind of party is it going to be? Themed parties are great when planning decorations, food and entertainment. Fancy dress offers some the chance to let their hair down but others may feel uncomfortable dressing up. Think about your guests and choose the theme accordingly: would a full-on Pirates of the Caribbean theme work or would you be better choosing a more subtle ‘Black and White Night’ theme, where the more extrovert

Last Minute Gifts

might turn up in Newcastle United kit or penguin outfit , whilst the more reserved could stick to a dinner suit! Who Getting the right mix of personalities can make the night, whilst getting it wrong can break it. Avoid inviting just one person or couple who are strangers to the rest of the group. Include a couple of extroverts in the mix to help get things moving, but too many extroverts can spoil it for quieter souls and you might even end up with a battle of the egos on your hands! Where A party at home might seem like the obvious place, but many a creamcoloured carpet has been ruined by red wine, so be warned! If your party is likely to be lively or the numbers high, consider hiring a room or hall.

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Are you ready for Christmas? Are you so organised that you bought everything in the January sales for gift-giving twelve months later? If you answered “yes”, then there’s no need to read on. However, if you’re like me, Christmas has once again taken you completely by surprise. I suspect we all go into denial at the point when the first Christmas decorations arrive in the shops around about August! Normally we’d panic and snatch the first vaguely suitable gift from the nearest available shop. But wait! Last minute gifts are never well thought out, are they? The adage “it’s the thought that counts” is actually incredibly important. People would rather receive a small, carefully chosen gift than a hastily grabbed box of bath products that scream “this will do”! Don’t panic. Most shops will be open on Christmas Eve, so you can really leave it until the absolute last minute if you plan a little first. Make a list of who you need to buy for and spend time really thinking about those people. What do they like? What would they appreciate? Keeping the recipient in mind and choosing a thoughtful gift is the only way to succeed at this late stage. Some people are just downright impossible to shop for which is why you’ve put off buying anything until now. In this case, present them with a written promise to take them shopping for something they really want. For some people it really is better to get their input before buying. Another heartfelt refrain is “what do I get the person who has everything?”

The answer is… a box to put it all in. Whether this is an unusual jewellery box, a useful sewing chest or colourful, personalised storage containers for children, you can’t go wrong with an attractive box. Donate the gift of your time. Offer to babysit so parents can take a well-deserved break. Spend a day gardening for someone. Buy tickets for a concert, cinema, sporting event or a play and take the family. Organise a surprise weekend break or holiday and present the tickets on Christmas Day. Bring some nostalgia to Christmas with family-friendly board games. Introduce extra food with a gourmet gift hamper. A beautiful tree ornament will hold memories every year when it comes out again. Students will always appreciate money. Don’t even attempt to work out what the ‘in-thing’ is as it will surely change next week. If you’re still stuck, there are always gift vouchers. Spa-breaks, restaurant vouchers, experience days, animal adoption and cookery courses are unusual vouchers to give. Last minute Christmas gifts don’t have to come from the shops. Use your imagination and take some time to think about what they would really welcome. Have a happy and stressfree Christmas!

Four Winds Landscaping

We are a local family run business who provide a friendly reliable service that guarantees quality. We are fully insured and have years of experience. At Four Winds Landscaping we provide a wide range of landscaping and garden maintenance services for both domestic and commercial properties, everything from cutting grass or removing trees to landscaping large building projects. Pathways Fencing Sleeper beds Turfing Ponds Weed control Driveways & Patios

Lawn mowing Cutting banks Edging & Strimming Lawn care Bed planting Tree surgery & Stump removal Hedge cutting and removal

We offer a free no obligation quote service.

Phone : 07506797978 Email : james@fourwindslandscaping.co.uk

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The Holly And The Ivy might be sceptical of the symbolism, but we can embrace the glory of these seasonal plants.

The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown, of all the trees that are in the wood the holly bears the crown.

Ivy (Hedera) comes in many sizes, from the tiny-leaved ‘Spetchley’ to the hand-sized leaves of ‘Maple Leaf’.

There’s no doubt that holly and ivy are synonymous with Christmas. This dates back to pre-Christian era when pagans used evergreen decorations in their mid-winter celebrations.

It also comes in a beautiful variety of colours from the rich green, crimped leaves of ‘Parsley crested’ which makes great ground cover, to the gorgeous red-stemmed yellow leaves of the climber ‘Sunrise’.

It’s not hard to see why they were attracted to these beautiful plants which offer a promise of better times to come during the most barren time of the year.

Protect it from rabbits if they frequent your garden as they love to eat the bark. Trim it in August if you have to and remove plain green shoots on variegated varieties.

disturbance once it’s established so plant it in the right place first time. Hollies are male or female but not necessarily named to help, so ‘Silver Queen’ is actually male and ‘Martin’ is female! You’ll need both for berries so talk to your nurseryman to be sure. If you only have room for one, grow a self-fertile variety such as ‘J C Van Tol’. Merry Christmas.

Take cuttings in the late summer or autumn. It does resent root

For winter baskets I’d recommend the lime-green ‘Ursula’ and her greyleaved friend ‘Frederick’. Ivy is a doddle to grow. There are only a few things to remember.

Early Christians adopted them too and imbued holly particularly with Christian symbolism. In the carol, ivy isn’t actually mentioned again until the last verse which is a repeat of the first.

Cut it back in spring to encourage new growth and take cuttings between October and March when the growth is woody.

It has a cameo role because of earlier songs, such as ‘The Contest of The Ivy and The Holly,’ in which the attributes of holly (male) and ivy (female) are compared.

Yellow varieties need sunshine and don’t let any of it grow into your eaves. Other than that, it is your undemanding gardening friend.

Our ancestors lived close to the earth and the seasons and were open to symbolism. As modern gardeners we

Holly (Ilex) is pretty easy-going too. It will grow almost anywhere except

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A Free local newspaper for Hucknall Nottingham AdPaper contains local content and information for the Hucknall area, as well as local bus...

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