DELIVERED TO THE ESSEX TOWNS OF THE CENTRAL LINE AND BEYOND
THE LOCAL MAGAZINE FOR LOCAL PEOPLE - ISSUE 17, DECEMBER 2015
PERFECT PRESENTS Gifts For Everyone On Your List
CHRISTMAS PRETOX Advice To Beat The Bloat
FOOD FOR THOUGHT Restaurant Reviews From Epping To Chigwell
TALKING TABLES Dress Your Dining Room To Impress
...a family ticket to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at...
QUOTE ESSEX CENTRAL FOR YOUR FIRST CLASS FREE
‘The Home of Essex’s Finest Personal Trainers!’
ON THE COVER 14 Gift Guide 18 Christmas Pretox 28 Dress Your Table For Christmas 39 The Bluebell Review 41 La Nostra Review 47 Competition Win a family ticket to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
34 HEALTH & FITNESS 23 What Is Shock Wave Therapy?
28 COMMUNITY 6 Your Comments 9 Local News 42 Whatâ€™s On 45 Essex Air Ambulance Charity feature Editor: Darren Perry Email: Darren@essexcentralmagazine.co.uk Tel: 01992 283 568 Advertising: advertising@essexcentral magazine.co.uk Features Editor: Victoria Grace Journalists: Devon-Elizabeth Tabersham & Ben Sneath. Design: Sharon Butler-Felby @SketchDesign, Lauren Brown. Contributors: Victoria Robertson. Publishers: 3 Blue Worldwide Ltd Facebook: EssexCentralMag Twitter: @EssexCentralMag
46,000 copies distributed to homes, businesses and station locations, along the Essex section of the Central Line and surrounding areas: South Woodford, Woodford, Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Loughton, Debden, Abridge, Theydon Bois, Epping, North Weald, Ongar, Wanstead, Redbridge, Ilford, Gants Hill, Newbury Park, Barkingside, Fairlop, Hainault, Grange Hill. Although every care has been taken to ensure accuracy, 3 Blue Worldwide Ltd take no responsibility for any errors, or the advertisements within this magazine.
HOME & GARDEN 33 December Gardening Guide TRAVEL 34 Christmas Getaways FUN & GAMES 46 Puzzle Corner 48 Entering Fatherhood Without a Map SPORT 50 Ongar Rugby Club
Ho Ho Ho!
This issue I would like to wish all our readers and advertisers a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Thank you all for tuning in each month and giving us great feedback and ideas for future issues. I would also like to thank all staff for their hard work and dedication this year to making the magazine an interesting read month after month. For our special Christmas issue we have a roundup of our favourite gift ideas that are sure to delight even the most hard-to-buy-for recipient and we have some expert tips on dressing the Xmas dining table to wow your guests. Abbotts Travel share a whole host of festive getaways if you fancy a last minute break or want to book for next year and we also review two local restaurants that are well worth a visit. Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas, see you in 2016!
Darren Perry Editor/Owner
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We love hearing from you!
ach month we trawl through our mailbox and social media sites to see what you are thinking. Here are a few of our favourite messages that we have received recently. Keep your comments coming in for a chance to win £20 if we pick you as our ‘Star Comment’ and £10 for the ‘Reader’s Photo’.
h the great British pub! Nice to see two of my favourite ‘locals’ featured in your November issue. I used to live near The Theydon Oak and was a regular there for my Sunday roast. Now we have relocated to Ongar and have been to The King’s Head a few times refurb is superb. Have you tried The Owl in High Beach? Another lovely little place that is worth a visit if you are in that area. Paul Saunders
den’ my gar ead in g o h , Wanst n a ‘Hedge e D Caroline
Good to see #lovebucket in @EssexCentralMag this month @lovebucketclub Thanks to @EssexCentralMag new edition includes our polar bear expedition. Good work, team @AbbottsTravel I want to see a polar bear! Need to go on this trip. Suzie Summers
Is it possible to subscribe via post please? I usually pick it up at the station but my shift has changed so get there too late. Emily Willis Congratulations to Louise Sansum (right) from North Weald who was the winner of our dinner for two and overnight hotel stay competition.
Check out Pole Train Fitness in the #November issue of #EssexCentral - The Loop #Magazine @poletrainfit
Address: Essex Central Magazine, Brickfield Business Centre, High Road, Thornwood, Epping, Essex CM16 6TH @EssexCentralMag EssexCentralMag editor@essexcentral magazine.co.uk
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A short roundup of what’s been going on
Inset picture: The Chigwell School team Main picture: Gill Punt with Olympic swimming champion Rebecca Adlington OBE before the race
The Chigwell School team which took part in the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon for Cancer Research UK raised a staggering sum of over £90,000. It takes the total raised by the school for the charity from two events to over £135,000. More than 100 parents, staff and Old Chigwellians joined the 16,000 runners who took part in the 13.1-mile event through Central London, taking in the spectacular sites of the capital and the beautiful Royal Parks. Starting and finishing in Hyde Park, the race took a scenic route past Green Park, St James Park, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. Chigwell School Development Manager Gill Punt, who put together the team, said: “This is a truly astonishing amount
CHIGWELL SCHOOL TEAM RAISES OVER £90,000 FOR CANCER RESEARCH UK
of money for Cancer Research UK. “CRUK receives no government funding for its research so its life-saving work relies on money from people like us to help the charity discover new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. “Many of us in our Chigwell community have been touched by this dreadful disease and this is one way of helping beat cancer sooner. “The adventurous team rose to the challenge magnificently with all completing the race in the glorious sunshine. Aching legs but beaming smiles were the order of the day.” A spokesperson for CRUK has said the charity was “totally overwhelmed” by the amount raised by the school and added that Chigwell is a shining example of what can be achieved through sport and fundraising.
NEW VAN FOR REUSE CENTRE
Epping Forest ReUse has taken delivery of its new van after 2 years of fundraising for the £30,000 it cost. The charity, based on the Bower Hill Industrial Estate in Epping, provides good quality furniture and household appliances at affordable prices for the public and at discounted prices for people on income related benefits. Some goods are provided free. In 2014/15 it helped 1271 individuals/families in need and reused 177.5 tonnes of furniture. Goods are donated by the public and are collected free of charge. Customers comment on the high quality of the goods and the attractiveness of the Centre.Household appliances such as fridge/ freezers, cookers and washing machines are always needed. These are tested and repaired if necessary and sold with a 6 months guarantee. The Vice-chairman of Essex County Council, Cllr John Aldridge, attended the van launch and cut the ribbon. A grant of £10,000 had been awarded by Essex County Council’s Community Initiatives Fund. Representatives of all the organisations which had contributed to the van were invited as well as those who had funded other needs at Epping Forest ReUse. The Centre is open Monday to Friday 9am4pm and Saturdays 9am12.30pm. Volunteers are needed for a variety of roles. Phone 01992 578222 to find out more.
FUNDRAISING MISSION OF LOUGHTON RESIDENT Some people run for the glory. Others run just for fitness or fun. And then there are people inspired to run for a greater cause than their own.
People like ex-soldier and local charity fund raiser Paul Henson, who has clocked up over 150 miles this year raising more than £1500 for the UK’s largest Meningitis charity, Meningitis Now. Seven years ago Paul suffered the devastating loss of eight-month-old daughter Maisie to the disease. Determined to help others also affected by meningitis, Paul decided to channel his grief into a series of endurance events raising money and awareness in the process. After being whipped into shape by regular boot camp sessions with Pegasus Military Fitness, Loughton resident, Paul, started his fund raising journey in February 2015 with a gruelling 10-mile trail run in East Sussex called the Eliminator and has not looked back. A succession of challenging events followed including half marathons in Silverstone and London, several of the UK’s toughest obstacle course races as well as gruelling endurance marches across Dartmoor and the Brecon Beacons. With more events and races in the diary, donations continue to stream in via Paul’s Virgin Money Giving page helping in the battle against Meningitis. To read more about Paul’s story or to make a donation please visit: http://m.virginmoneygiving. com/mt/uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiserweb/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage. action?userUrl=PaulHenson150208&un_jtt_redirect
AEROBED COMING TO THE RESCUE OF STRESSED HOSTS
With Christmas just round the corner, don’t panic about the seasonal influx of friends and family. AeroBed’s ultra-convenient Comfort Classic Raised is perfect for ensuring even last-minute guests enjoy a great night’s sleep! Featuring a full-height design for a home-from-home experience, the Comfort Classic transforms from bag to bed in under 3 minutes to instantly turn any room into a comfortable extra bedroom. When it comes to Christmas there never seems to be enough beds to go round. AeroBed has come to the rescue of stressed hosts across the nation with its luxurious range of Comfort Classic airbeds. Designed for maximum comfort and luxury, the AeroBed has a velvety flocked exterior combined with an advanced, 3-layer channel construction that provides a stable and supportive sleeping surface. Once it has been fully inflated, the bed is designed to fit standard-sized sheets perfectly so that it blends seamlessly in with the room’s décor. Incredibly quick and simple to inflate, the Comfort Classic Raised is supplied with a convenient mainspowered, screw-on pump. The bed’s firmness can be easily adjusted thanks to the one touch comfort control
and when it is time to pack away, the patented Whoosh™ Valve means that the bed deflates in seconds. Once deflated, simply roll the bed up and place it into its handy, lightweight carry bag until the next time it is needed. The ultimate bed in a bag this Christmas, ensure guests enjoy a good night’s sleep with the AeroBed Comfort Classic Raised. For more information about the new Comfort Classic Raised visit www.aerobed.co.uk.
Right: General Manager Darren Guyon and Deputy Manager Aidy Aziz
UNIT 7 LAUNCHES IN STYLE
More than 6,000 clubbers turned out to celebrate the opening of Basildon’s £3 million premier nightspot, Unit 7, on its official launch weekend (12/13/14/15 November). Darren Guyon, Unit 7 general manager, said: “So much work has gone into ensuring the venue offers unrivalled standards of sound, service and entertainment in the area. It was a great feeling to see our first customers’ reactions. We had really positive feedback, especially on our new luxury booths with table service, and guests loved the live performances, including Philip George and Charlie Tee.” With three distinct dance rooms, Unit 7 at Festival Leisure Park appeals to all tastes. Studio is the place to party, with club classics and party anthems. House fans will be wowed by Arena, while Rhythm offers an R&B vibe. Bringing a taste of the Caribbean to Essex, the venue even boasts a roof-top bar, Montego Bay,
specialising in rum cocktails. Darren added: “We’re excited about the future for Unit 7 and look forward to staging more special events and delivering an outstanding clubbing experience every week.” Customers can expect an impressive line-up of acclaimed DJs and producers, with future sets from Charlie Sloth, Sam Divine, Chris Lorenzo and the Dixon Brothers already confirmed. More than 120 full and part-time roles were created by operator The Deltic Group’s major investment. The club focuses on high levels of customer service with a premium drinks range, fresh cocktails and prebookable private booths. Further information, including how to book tickets and details on future events, is available at www.unit7nightclub.co.uk.
HOMEGLAZE CHARITY CHALLENGE BEGINS
Homeglaze, your local double glazing specialist in Chigwell, is celebrating their fifth anniversary. To mark this event they have teamed up with children’s charity Barnardo’s to raise £10,000 over the next 12 months. Last month they took on their first fundraising challenge. It tested their fitness, stamina and took a week to achieve. They finished on Saturday 21st November having spent the week rowing the English Channel – Dover to Calais – a distance of 26 miles. Instead of the wind and The Homeglaze team water, the challenge played out in the Gravel Lane showroom over 13 hours as each man rowed in the virtual event. Of course, it was still business as usual at the family owned and run company, as they continue to maintain their high standards away from the rowing machine. Fundraising for Barnardo’s means money will be channelled into the charity’s work with children leaving care in Redbridge. Colin knows about being in care, as he found himself there at just 10 years old. As the years went by he was moved several times and eventually left to make his own way in life.
With football having always been a passion, the company now also sponsors two junior football teams. The link with Barnardo’s is all about what is being done now for vulnerable youngsters. Support for the Homeglaze fundraising challenges is crucial to those it helps. The company would like people to make a donation in support of the challenge at https://www. justgiving.com/homeglaze Visit www.homeglaze.co.uk
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GIF T GUIDE Perfect presents for everyone on your nice list this year.
Minions 3D Wall Light £39.99 www.menkind.co.uk
Perfect for all those handbag essentials this bright and fun makeup bag from British brand bagsy is sure to please any beauty queen. Bagsy Makeup Bag £15 feelunique.com
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Filled with sweet and savoury treats from specialist producers in Italian regions that are renowned for the quality of their produce, this jute shopping bag is simply bellissimo! From the Pesto Rosso that originated in Sicily, delicious with the Florentine tricolore Gigli pasta, to the incredibly light, puff pastry Bocconcini biscuits, there’s a little bit of Italian magic for any time of day.
IDO 3D £24.97 Toys R Us
Taste of Italy Hamper £27.99 www.lakeland.co.uk
FO R FO
Bright Eyes Plush £19.99 A r
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ac Amazon 69.99 k£
Mr Tea £9.99 Lakeland
Tea time for you is bath time for Mr Tea. Stuff his silicone pants with your favourite tea leaves and while he has a relaxing soak, he’ll infuse your favourite brew with flavour.
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Let your creative talents run wild making and decorating a pair of speakers for listening to your favourite tunes. Simple to put together, containing everything you need to make two fully functioning stereo speakers, the kit comes with a jack lead suitable for any electronic device.
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Set of Four Personalised Drinks Coasters £15 Notonthehighstreet.com
This Personalised Man Cave Sign makes a fantastic gift for any man, as it will help him mark out his territory in the house - that place where he can get a little solitude from the world and, well, do those things that men love to do. Personalised Man Cave Sign £14.99 www.menkind.co.uk
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There’s a pesky little bug in the kitchen! And it’s not just any bug - it’s a HEXBUG® nano®, scuttling around the game board! Quick - can you catch it in the trap? By turning knives, forks and spoons you can direct the bug into the trap. Throw the die to discover which utensils you can turn. Catch the bug in the trap and earn a token the first player to collect 5 tokens wins the game.
Jazz up cold drinks and cocktails with a juicy fix of melt-in-your-mouth, fruity flavour with these fun popping balls. With no mess or mixing required, just add a few to your drink to experience a mini taste sensation. Strawberry Popaball £2.95 Lakeland
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N FESTIVE INFU G ON
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RIDE THE GHOST TRAIN
Free heritage bus travel from Epping Underground Station and Ongar to North Weald Station included in ticket price
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BLOAT BEAT THE
Digestive experts, Renew Life, share 10 pretox tips for the festive season.
hristmas is almost upon us! For many of us this means a period of overindulgence, food comas and late boozy nights which can leave us feeling a little worse for wear! The good news is that you can still enjoy all the merriment by getting your body into gear before the party season starts with a good Christmas ‘Pretox’ programme. Digestive Experts at Renew Life share their top 10 Pretox tips to beat the bloat and feel festively fresh all the way to 2016!
1 PAMPER YOURSELF:
Our skin is the largest organ of elimination, so it’s important to keep it clear and help it expel toxins. A good trick to get your detox system working is by dry body brushing before you shower or have a bath. Not only can this help to support movement of lymph fluids, but it’s also a great way to get rid of dead skin cells to reveal healthy, supple and glowing skin. Relaxing in a sauna or taking regular steam baths are also relaxing ways to release toxins from the body through sweat.
2 DIY PEPPERMINT DRINK:
Make your own bloat-busting drink by adding a few drops of essential peppermint oil into warm water with fresh lime to help relax the digestive tract and reduce IBS symptoms.
3 ADD WATERCRESS TO YOUR SALADS:
As it helps to ward off free radicals and stimulates cleansing enzymes in the liver which plays a major role in detoxification in the body.
4 POP A PROBIOTIC:
We all tend to treat ourselves a bit more during the festive period, especially with sugary foods and alcoholic drinks that can have a negative impact on our gut bacteria and exacerbate troublesome tummies. Taking a daily probiotic can help protect the body from the negative effects of alcohol by helping to line the stomach with an army of ‘friendly’ bacteria to support healthy gut function before all the festivities begin. According to a study published in the
British Journal of Nutrition, taking certain probiotics may actually help you lose weight (and keep it off too!). To avoid digestive discomfort and bloating this Christmas, try Renew Life’s award winning probiotic - Ultimate Flora Critical Care (RRP £36.99 www.renewlife. co.uk).
5 MUNCH ON WATERMELON:
Due to its high water content watermelon has a natural diuretic property, promoting regularity for a healthy digestive tract. Watermelon also contains potassium which rids the body of excess sodium, helping to relieve water retention and bloating.
6 CHEW FOOD THOROUGHLY:
When we rush down food we’re more likely to swallow excess air which can cause a build up of stomach gas. Slowing down
to enjoy each bite means less air is going into the stomach, helping to avoid indigestion and bloating. According to the experts, indigestion and bloating may be a sign of enzyme deficiency and can be greatly relieved by taking a digestive enzyme with meals. If you have difficulty digesting large meals or suffer from gas and bloating after eating certain foods, try DigestMORE (RRP: £19.99) - an ideal everyday enzyme formula that contains 9 different enzymes with healing herbs and amino acids to help soothe and protect the digestive tract.
7 WORK IT OUT:
Physical activity helps air bubbles pass through your digestive tract quicker, so that bloated feeling will disappear faster than if you lounge on the couch. Moderate exercise can also help to relieve constipation and stimulate bowel movement.
8 RELAX AND UNWIND:
Stress has been shown to reduce the levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut which can upset the digestion process. Banish the bloat by incorporating relaxation into your daily routine - such as yoga, reading a book or taking a bath with lavender oil before bedtime.
9 FILL UP ON FIBRE:
Fibre acts like a sponge that mops up fat and toxins for removal from the body, as well as assisting with healthy bowel functioning. This will cleanse your bowels before a heavy month of eating and drinking to help ensure that you can digest the large amounts of food and drink consumed over the festive period effectively. Good sources of fibre include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and nuts. You can easily boost your fibre intake, with Renew Life’s FibreSMART powder: (RRP £14.99)* a unique dietary fibre
supplement containing a complete digestive care formula that supports the intestinal tract lining and enhances the body’s cleansing processes by absorbing toxins and eliminating them from the system. Try sprinkling on your cereal or adding to yoghurt.
10 SLEEP ON IT:
With long days at work, evenings spent gift shopping and social events to attend, it’s important to make sure that you are still getting enough sleep, but it’s usually the last thing on our minds when Christmas time rolls around. Getting good amounts of sleep has been shown to improve memory, creativity and reduce stress. Interestingly, not getting enough shut eye has been linked with weight gain. This is because lack of sleep increases the production of hunger hormones which can result in hunger pangs and play havoc with our metabolism. Make snooze time a priority to help keep trim and build up energy you need throughout the party season.
“Food comas and late boozy nights can leave us feeling a little worse for wear!”
We are currently recruiting new members to our sales team and are looking for people with good social skills, We’re ambition and a Hiring! professional attitude. You must be able to travel locally, as well as work from home. If you’re interested in knowing more please email your CV to:
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H E A LT H
SHOCK WAVE THERAPY?
Robert Shanks, of Spine Plus Clinics, explains the treatment.
hock Wave Therapy is an effective form of treatment for stubborn tendon and other muscle and joint problems. The therapy was first used in operating theatres over 20 years ago as a non-surgical way of breaking down kidney stones. Since then, the technology has adapted, allowing it to be used within outpatient clinics to treat tendon and other musculoskeletal problems. Shock Wave Therapy works by blasting away fibrous (scar) tissue (and even calcium deposits) within damaged tendons and muscles, encouraging the body to heal with healthy, more elastic tissue. Even where other forms of physiotherapy treatment have failed, Shock Wave Therapy can provide a very real solution effective for a range of conditions, including: + Achilles Tendonosis: Pain and stiffness on the tendon and at the bottom of the calf where it meets the heel bone. + Plantar Fasciitis: Painful, inflammation of the muscle and tendons in the sole of the foot. + Patella Tendonitis: Pain in the tendons above or below the knee cap, common in athletes and sports people, especially runners. + Golfers & Tennis Elbow:
Sometimes known by its medical term “epicondylitis”, this refers to inflammation of the tendons of the forearm that attach to the inside or outside of the elbow. Pain is often felt either side of the elbow when gripping or moving the wrist and is caused by repetitive arm and wrist movements such as in tennis or golf. However the condition can even develop in office workers who simply type a lot on a keyboard. + Trigger Points: Known by most people as muscle knots, trigger points can become chronic and are almost always associated with chronic pain disorders such as fibromyalgia and tension headaches. Trigger points are commonly unresponsive to many forms of manual therapy such as non-clinical massage (which very often make the problem worse). Shock Wave Therapy is however one of the modalities that seems to be able to ease the pain and inflammation of trigger points. + Certain types of back pain: A recent medical trial found that Shock Wave Therapy was as effective for facet joint pain as injections. + Shoulder Impingement and calcification: Pain felt at the top of the shoulder when a tendon gets squashed during overhead movements. Unfortunately this
often leads to thickening of the (supraspinatus) tendon leading to even more impingement, scarring and even calcification. “During my 15 years of clinical practice, I have found that nothing breaks down scar tissue and is as affective for relieving pain from chronic musculoskeletal conditions as Shockwave. It certainly beats long term pain killers and antiinflammatories which usually only mask the pain and have very little therapeutic value. Most patients experience excellent results within 3 to 4 sessions. Hospitals will often charge up to £200 per session but at Spine Plus we charge what we consider to be a much more reasonable and affordable £85 per session and this very often includes other forms of treatment in addition to the Shock Wave”, says Robert Shanks, Director of Spine Plus Clinics. Spine Plus operate five clinics in the London area including Chigwell, Woodford, Bow, Waterloo and Harley Street. They offer specialist treatment services for musculoskeletal disorders, including the latest therapies such as IDD Therapy & Shock Wave Therapy. To book an appointment visit their Chigwell or Woodford clinic, call 0203 369 0937, for more information visit: www.spineplus.co.uk
“Shock Wave Therapy blasts away fibrous tissue”
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Halo Mugs at Denby
uring this cheerful festive time of the year tableware really comes into its own. With food and entertaining on every guest’s wish list, there’s no better excuse to dress your dining room to impress and ensure eating zones become the centre of attention. Beautiful dinnerware can instantly lift your look; complement with sparkling decorations and fairy lights and you’ll create an enticing display that makes entertaining seasonally stylish.
Monsoon Mug Collection at Denby
dish up arrives. Dessert lovers will, on the other hand, appreciate being served up a seasonal showstopper in a pudding basin like Denby’s Halo design. Silicone snowman cake moulds and cookie cutting sets in the shape of Santa and Rudolph will help you to put a playful spin on Christmas delights at your dinner party whatever you choose, a delicious feast will keep guests full and jolly.
With so many pretty and practical designs available, you no longer need to reserve beautiful dinnerware Every chef knows that the perfect Christmas demands the solely for special occasions. Owning a number of right equipment. Whether you’re best-known for a turkey different styles can be a bonus and will allow you to masterpiece with all the trimmings or you excel at baked tailor your look for any occasion, without having to sweet treats, investing in quality cookware will ensure spend money on an entirely new set. a stress-free culinary experience. If you decide to limit “When it comes to choosing dinnerware for your your purchases, be sure to opt for a large roasting Christmas table, do consider function as well as tray and a carving knife set for ease when the time to design,” comments Nicola Wilson, Senior Designer at
DRESS YOUR TABLE TO IMPRESS
Stylish table settings are a must for fabulous festive feasts
James Martin Gastro/Serve at Denby
Denby. “If you’re catering for large numbers, the luxury of being able to put everything in the dishwasher at the end of a meal can make all the difference.” The number of different plates and bowls required will depend on the number of courses that you’re planning to serve but, in most cases, a side plate and bowl that is placed on top of a dinner plate will lend your table an air of occasion without looking too crowded. Matching or complementary serving bowls and jugs, including a gravy boat, will also come in handy, enhancing your scheme whilst keeping things looking streamlined and elegant.
If your dinnerware features metallic accents, choosing cutlery with a similar shine will make for a striking combination. A plate set with ornate design details in sparkling silver hues like the Monsoon Filigree Silver collection by Denby is perfect for those opting for
a traditional festive scheme, whereas more artisan stoneware sets such as Denby’s Halo range offer both style and durability for modern family living. An array of glasses are also an elementary part of any table setting at Christmas, with a water and a wine glass as your base. If you’re serving different wines for courses it’s customary to have both a red and a white wine glass; it’ll also give you the chance to play with scale by mixing combinations to decorate your table.
Layering is key to a fuller-feeling festive table; don’t be afraid to think creatively about decorative finishes that you wish to dress your table top with. Embellished accessories such as napkins, crackers and festive ornaments are a great addition to merry feasts, helping you to tie your scheme together and play around with options. “Be sure to choose pieces that will complement the colour and style of your dinnerware and accentuate your overall theme”, says Nicola Wilson at Denby. A cluster of taper candles or a hurricane lantern filled with baubles will add extra drama and placing these in the centre of your table will visually frame the dining area for a stand-out focal point. Personal touches such as handwritten place cards or meaningful gifts in custom-made crackers will always go down well with guests and make your Christmas meal all the more memorable. www.denby.co.uk, Tel: 01773 740899
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“Now is the time to cover over the roots of your azaleas”
GARDENING WITH VICTORIA ROBERTSON
A seasonal guide to help you get the most out of your garden.
Look out this month for the return of Blue Tits and Greenfinches. Suet balls will help feed the birds during this winter. They are jam packed full of nutritious and fatty oils that will give the birds energy. Don’t forget to regularly change and top up the water in your bird baths. If you haven’t got a bird bath put out a shallow dish of water.
Frosty Azalea leaves
on Victoria Roberts
he winter frost has now arrived! Now is the time to cover over the roots of your azaleas and rhododendrons by applying a thick layer of mulch around them. Make sure all your climbing plants are tied in well so they survive any strong winds. Stop fertilizing your house plants and try not to over water them during the next few months. Keeping them too wet can lead to an infestation of pests such as fungus gnats. Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’, is a real winter stunner and looks fabulous this time of year. It has wonderful pale pink tubular flowers that are fragrant. Hamamelis mollis is a deciduous shrub, this month you will see the clusters of highly scented
water and place the foam ring in. Allow it to soak for around 10 minutes. STEP 3 Take the foam ring out and fill the whole ring with ever green foliage from the garden. STEP 4 Push some holly MAKE A CHRISTMAS berries or pine cones attached to wire DOOR WREATH into the wreath. Wreaths bring a You could add fabulous festive some Brussel welcome to your sprouts and front door. You chilli peppers, will get more these will satisfaction if look fabulous you create your too. Use your own wreath this imagination to create Christmas. It will only something totally unique. cost you around £10 STEP 5 Tie a piece of to make. STEP 1 Buy a ring shaped ribbon at the top so you can piece of floral foam online hang it on your door. Then create a bow at the bottom or in a garden centre. for a decorative effect. STEP 2 Fill a sink with By Victoria Robertson, amenity horticulturist & committee member of Copped Hall & Epping Horticultural Society & Chairman of Epping in Bloom. yellow flowers that will be clinging onto bare twigs. The flowering twigs are very decorative and can be cut and used indoors to fill your home with a wonderful floral perfume.
PESTS & DISEASE
Fungus gnats are tiny greyish black, non-biting, mosquito like flies with long legs and have one pair of clear wings. They emerge from house plants, especially when watering. Their larvae feed on fungi and organic matter in soil and they can damage tender plant roots. Stop fertilizing and reduce over watering your indoor plants during the winter, this will help prevent infestation.
CHRISTMAS GETAWAYS We wish you some merry Christmases. Forgive the plural, but it’s correct in this case as we unwrap the best festive experiences on the market.
Our 3 countries tour of Europe’s Christmas markets lets you compare the sights (and the lights) of Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. The best bit: you’ll do it by train, with Great Rail Journeys. This 4-day tour costs from £350 Three dates are available: 2nd, 8th & 12th December 2015 (subject to availability). Price includes return rail travel from London, Manchester, Birmingham or Bournemouth, 3 nights hotel accommodation with breakfast, plus the services of a UK tour manager throughout.
Day 1 - Depart London St Pancras on the Eurostar for Brussels, changing at Liège for three nights at the 3* Hotel Husa de la Couronne. Day 2 - Travel across the German border to the ‘Christmas City’, Aachen. The shops are filled with traditional German gifts including Aachen Printen, a local speciality gingerbread. The city was built on Charlemagne’s former palace where you can still see his influence in places like the stunning gothic cathedral. On returning, visit Liège’s Christmas Village on the Place du Marché. There are stalls laden with chocolate, vin chaud and the Belgian liqueur made from juniper berries, Peket. Top it off with a mug of hot mulled wine. Day 3 - Take a coach across the Dutch border, to Valkenburg. This enchanting little town is famous
for atmospheric Christmas markets held in an ancient labyrinth of tunnels and caves. You will receive a pass for entrance to both the ‘Town Cave’ and the ‘Velvet Cave’, with its impressive mural carvings, inscriptions and exceptional sculptures. Or simply tour the markets before returning to Liège by coach, then heading home the next day.
SANTA’S AURORA SHORT BREAK
Located in Finnish Lapland, only 90 minutes from the Arctic Circle, Luosto is a ski and Arctic safari resort in the heart of the national forest. Stay at Santa’s Hotel Aurora, your passport into the Lappish wilderness. Spend your first two nights enjoying views over snow-sprinkled fir trees from your own private sauna, before two nights inside the hotel’s Arctic View glass igloo rooms, with uninterrupted views of the Arctic sky and front row seats for the Northern Lights. This short break costs from £1310pp including flights, accommodation and transfers.
Day 1 - Arrive at Luosto and check in to a Standard room with its own sauna. In northern Lapland the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) can be seen on around 200 nights of the year. Each room has an Aurora alarm to wake guests for late-night displays. Day 2 - Take part in optional winter activities on this free day. Perhaps join an exhilarating snowmobile safari, travelling across frozen swamps and through snowy forests, or enjoy a husky safari by traditional sled. Later, enjoy Nordic fare from the lava stone grill at the hotel restaurant. Day 3 - Move to an Aurora Arctic View room for two nights. With glass walls and ceilings, these unique pods are designed like a traditional Lappish hut. Take an optional excursion to a reindeer farm or enjoy a reindeer sleigh ride. In the evening retreat to your room and watch the night sky.
Day 4 - Consider winter activities on the final day in Luosto. Embark on a snowshoe hike in the national park, try cross-country skiing on one of the nearby trails or head into the wilderness for a spot of ice fishing. Enjoy a final night of uninterrupted skyward views. Day 5 - Transfer to Rovaniemi, capital of Lapland where, time permitting, you can meet Santa Claus at his official home, before flying back to the UK via Helsinki. Aurora Arctic View room
If you prefer to spend Christmas away from home, Abbotts Travel have been working with the experts at Titan Travel to assemble 3 wonderful packages for a festive getaway.
Vienna has an atmosphere of elegant sophistication flavoured by the Habsburgs. Their rich historical, architectural and cultural heritage prevails in one of Europe’s loveliest cities. You will be staying at the 4-star Lindner Hotel Am Belvedere. At Christmas, the grounds of
the baroque Schönbrunn Palace are transformed into the famous traditional Arts Market. An excursion to the Vienna Woods, visiting the Cistercian abbey of Heiligenkreuz, adds to the delight. 6 days from £1,249 per person Departure: 22nd December 2015
NORTHERN LIGHTS CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR VOYAGE ABOARD MS RICHARD
The stunning scenery of Norway is eternally mesmerising, as your ship sails along the coastline and through narrow mountain valleys. Winter’s
white blanket can only add to the beauty, providing opportunities to see the famous Ice Hotel, or for an adventure into the wilderness on dog sledges. If you’re lucky, the Northern Lights will dance across the skies, making this cruise truly unforgettable. 14 days from £1,999 per person Departure: 21st December 2015
Full of Christmas cheer and spirit, Scotland’s capital is an ideal location to spend the festive break. In the heart of the city at the
Northern Lights Cruise
CLUB MED PRAGELATO VIALATTEA
Macdonald Holyrood Hotel, you are perfectly positioned to explore everything it is renowned for Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile and Princes Street. This trip includes 4 nights accommodation, 9 meals, a welcome drinks reception and Buck’s Fizz breakfast on Christmas Day. Three excursions are also part of the package, with an orientation tour of the city, entrance to Edinburgh Castle and a visit to the Royal Yacht Britannia. 5 days from £849 per person Departure: 23rd December 2015
Our final choice takes us to the Italian Alps for a winter sport family trip with the masters of all-inclusive, Club Med. Located in the Piedmont region at an altitude of 1,600 metres (5,250 ft), Pragelato’s charming chalets promise a warm and friendly welcome for the whole family to sample the high life Italian-style: VialatteaSestrière, Italian for winter sport joy. In the heart of the second largest ski area in Europe, this prestigious resort hosted the ski jumping and cross-country skiing events for the Turin Olympics in 2006. For kids: Petit Club Med (2-3 years old), Mini Club Med (4-10 years old), Club Med Passworld (11-17 years old) Activities: Ski and snowboard lessons, cross country skiing, hiking programme including hiking, snowshoeing and Nordic walking,
snow garden for kids, sledge, special teens ski programme. Ski domain: Via Lattea, Sestrière. Altitude from 1350m to 2823m. 440km of slopes, including 40km cross-country. Restaurants and bars: Gourmet full-board including drinks and snacks. Delicious, creative cuisine and impeccable table art. Restaurants offer typical Italian products and traditional mountain specialities. Other activities: Club Med Spa by Payot, Club Med fitness, aquadynamic, indoor swimming pool, Swedish sauna and Turkish bath, evening entertainment and parties. Prices during the Christmas season start from £1250 per adult. For further information or to discuss any of the Christmas adventures listed here, please contact Abbotts Travel.
Pragelato Club Med
FOOD & DRINK
Seared Devon Scallops with Honey Roast Pork Belly
e’ve been coming to The Bluebell for many years now and the standard of cuisine is consistently superb. On every single visit the team have delivered a fantastic dining experience, varied seasonal menu and exemplary service. Stepping through the lounge/ bar area you head past the kitchen where you can catch a glimpse of Owner and Head Chef Gavin Maguire and his team at work, and round the back to the main dining area, with its soft lighting and exposed beams you are immediately pulled into a relaxed and cosy dining experience. On our most recent visit, for starters, my dining companion opted for: ‘Seared Devon Scallops with Honey Roast Pork Belly, Granny Smith Apple, Pea Shoots and Truffle Dressing’ (in fact she orders this dish on every visit, without fail as she loves it so much!), whilst I ordered ‘Braised Beef Raviolo with Wild
Mushrooms, Pumpkin, Apple and Kale and Light Cepe Cappuccino’. The Raviolo was densely packed with braised beef, which had the texture of pulled pork. The Cepe Cappucino dressing gave a light lift to the dish whilst the mushrooms, pumpkin and apple all came together to give the dish a wintery, woodland feel, with strong deep flavours. For mains we had the ‘Cornish Lamb Four Ways’ (another one of her favourites) - Olive Roasted Loin, Sundried Tomato Braised Middle Neck, Mini Moussaka and Crispy Belly with Celeriac Chip and Curly Kale. This dish really shows off the skill and imagination of the Bluebell chefs and each of the 4 ‘ways’ is a glorious little meal on its own with flavours that complement each other perfectly. My choice was the ‘Line Caught Wild Sea Bass with Pesto Gnocchi, Butternut Squash, Spiced Pepper Chutney and Red Wine Fume’. This was a generous portion of succulent sea bass, expertly
Cornish Lamb Four Ways
cooked, sitting on a bed of delicious flavours, whilst the spiced chutney on top gave each mouthful an extra kick. For desert we enjoyed ‘Dark Chocolate Fondant with Cherry Sorbet and Chantilly Cream’. The rich chocolate flavour was cut with the zing of cherry sorbet and the centre of the fondant was perfectly oozy. Along with that we ordered a ‘Classic Vanilla Crème Brûlée with Raspberry Granita and Lemon Shortbread’, and somehow we even managed to find space for the cheese board afterwards, alongside a delicious Irish Coffee. Gavin told us some exciting news: The Bluebell have just got the green light on a new £20,000 refurbishment involving new lighting, carpets, mirrors and furniture throughout. Head down to see the changes in the New Year and sample the best food in the area. 117 High Rd, Chigwell IG7 6QQ Tel: 020 8500 6282 www.thebluebellrestaurant.co.uk
MOUTHAWARE? T HE NUMBER of people in the UK diagnosed with mouth cancer has increased by a third in the last decade – the disease now takes more lives each year than road accidents. However, figures also reveal that while the survival rate is 50% after late diagnosis, it is 90% after early diagnosis – highlighting the importance of having your mouth checked by a trained professional.
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FOOD & DRINK
LA NOSTRA RISTORANTE
La Nostra Ristorante
his was our first trip to La Nostra since it opened in July 2014 and we were not disappointed! Formerly The Epping Tea Rooms, this snug, warm and cosy restaurant has a lovely atmosphere and the narrow dining area both downstairs and upstairs makes the dining experience all the more intimate and unique. The food offering is authentic Italian fair which makes a welcome change to the high street chain restaurants which have sprung up along Epping High Street in recent years. The service was attentive and it was clear that the owner, Sharmila, and her staff take great care in making sure every diner is happy. We began our meal with a large Pescatore Frito (large seafood mix) to share, which consisted of: Fried calamari, prawns, zucchini frites and arancini served with a basil aioli dip. This was delicious, and the arancini risotto balls in particular were lovely
when dipped in the aioli, giving a mouthful full of flavoured crunch with each bite. The light, non-greasy batter on the calamari and zucchini also deserves a special mention. As La Nostra pride themselves on an authentic Italian food experience we decided to try two of the most Italian looking dishes on the main menu... the Lasagne and the Pizza, both of which were very generous portions. The Pizza itself was over a foot in length (the “Grande Fratello” pizza) and packed full of flavour, served on a beautifully seasoned light and crispy base, straight from the traditional wood fired oven just beyond the bar. I’d picked the ‘Picante’ which included: Pizza sauce, mozzarella, n’duja sausage, mascarpone, pepperoni, salami, mushrooms, chilli and rocket. As I sliced through the pizza all the amazing aromas came rushing at me, and I could barely finish slicing the dish before I had to stop and dive in. Even writing this now my
mouth is starting to water once more just thinking about it! All across the dish there were great connections going on, the creamy mascarpone complimented the spicy kick of the pepperoni, whilst the mushrooms and mozzarella gave a soft texture against the crispiness of the base as I bit through each slice. It was brilliant, and I would recommend this dish to any pizza lovers out there. Across the table I asked my dining companion about her lasagne and it seemed she too was enjoying her own choice as much as I was enjoying mine. It was rich, evenly layered, and never seemed to end and she particularly liked the addition of breadcrumbs to the topping to give an added texture. We washed this down with a couple of glasses of Prosecco but didn’t have any room for dessert maybe next time! 168 High St, Epping CM16 4AQ Tel: 01992 572995 www.lanostrarestaurants.co.uk
ESSEX GET OUT AND ABOUT IN
WHEN: Saturday 5th December, 10am-12noon WHAT: Willow Weaving Workshop - Come and learn how to make some willow Christmas decorations for the coming holidays. Adult workshop, children aged 10+ permitted. £5 per person. To book call 020 8559 2316. WHERE: James Leal Visitor Centre, Woodford Green IG8 7JQ
WHAT: Abridge Christmas Market - Art exhibition and sale of work. Refreshments on sale all day. Father Christmas will be in his
Grotto from 10.30am-12.30pm and 2pm-3.30pm. Entry £1 (children free). For more details, ring John on 07871 196004. WHERE: Abridge Village Hall, Ongar Road, Abridge
WHEN: Saturday 5th December WHAT: Christmas Workshops (1) Christmas Wreaths: Make a traditional wreath for your front door. Basic materials provided but take your own finishing decorative touches. 10am-12.30pm. (2) Christmas Table Decorations: Design and make a table centre decoration from dogwood and seasonal greenery, plus your own decorative touches. 2pm-4.30pm. Cost: £15 for each workshop (plus £1 if not already a BHCA member). For more details ring 020 8504 6668 or email office@bedfordhouse. org.uk. WHERE: Buckhurst Hill Community Association, Bedford House, Westbury Road, Buckhurst Hill WHEN: Saturday 5th December, 10am - 4.30pm
WHEN: Saturday 5th December, 11.30am - 2.30pm WHAT: Christmas Bazaar - Meet Santa in his Grotto. Tombolas. Crafting, raffle, gift stalls, games, face painting, refreshments. WHERE: Moreton School WHEN: Sunday 6th December, 9am-2pm WHAT: Farmers Market Produce stalls and local organisations. WHERE: Centric Parade, High Road, Loughton WHEN: Monday 7th December, doors open at 12.30pm WHAT: Finger Fayre - Ticket only. Visitors welcome for demonstration 1.45pm £5 pay on the door. This month Trisha Barton is going to entertain West Essex Flower Club friends and members with her demonstration called “Five Golden Rings”. Sure to be festive atmosphere, come and join us. WHERE: Thornwood Village Hall, Weald Hall Lane, Thornwood.
WHEN: Tuesday 8th December, 7.45pm WHAT: Theydon Bois Singers Christmas Concert - Bar and light refreshments. Tickets, priced £8 in advance (£10 on the door). Email email@example.com. WHERE: Theydon Bois Village Hall, Coppice Row, Theydon Bois WHEN: Saturday 12th December, 3pm WHAT: Carol Concert - Gates open 2pm. Cost £12 (children under five free but will not have their own seats). Mince pies and mulled punch included in ticket price. The Copped Hall shop will be open. For more details ring Frances Dennett on 07749 397932 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. WHERE: The South Room at Copped Hall, Epping WHEN: Saturday 12th December, 7pm WHAT: Davenant Community Choir Christmas Concert - An evening of Christmas music, carols and festive refreshments. Tickets, priced £10, available from Jane Begley on 07572 111387 or by emailing email@example.com WHERE: High Beach Church
WHEN: Saturday 12th December, 10am - 12noon WHAT: Winter Migrant Bird Walk - A
WHERE: Theydon Bois Golf Club, Theydon Road guided walk around Fairlop Waters to look out for winter migrants with local expert Neil Twyford. WHERE: Fairlop Activity Centre car park, Forest Road IG6 3HN WHEN: Sunday 13th December, 9am-1pm WHAT: St Clare Festive Fun Run
- The race follows a 5km circular route. Festive food and drink at the Water Gardens and Christmassy activities for all ages. Runners are encouraged to dress on a Christmas theme. Registration is £7.50 for adults (£2.50 for children) with participants asked to raise a minimum of £45 sponsorship. For more details, ring 01279 713700 or email info@ stclarehospice. org.uk WHERE: The Water Gardens Shopping Centre, Harlow WHEN: Monday 14th December, 8pm-10.30pm WHAT: Theydon Jazz Club - With George ‘Kid’ Tidiman (trombone) and his All Stars. £7.50 (nonmembers). For more information, ring Dave or Sheila Dyer on 01945 588325 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
the Bandstand (Aldborough Road South Entrance). WHERE: Seven Kings Park, IG3
WHEN: Friday 18th December, 8pm WHAT: Epping Church Choirs Association Christmas Reflections - A selection of choir and participatory carols for the season. Conducted by Simon Winters, Organist David Pickthall. Entrance free, Retiring collection for St Clare Hospice. www.eppingchurchchoirs. org.uk WHERE: St John’s Church, Epping CM16 5DN
WHEN: Monday 21st December, 2pm-3.30pm WHAT: My Little Princess Parties - ‘The Snowflake Christmas Ball’ hosted by The Snow Queen & The Ice Princess for children aged three to seven. Features games, singing and dancing. Limited tickets available. For more details email parties@mylittleprincessparties. co.uk WHERE: Coopersale Social Institute Hall, Institute Road, Coopersale
WHEN: 31st December, 7pm-1am WHAT: New Year’s Eve at The Bluebell - Seven course gourmet dinner with live jazz singer. £90 per person (10% discretionary service charge). Call 020 8500 6282 to book. WHERE: The Bluebell Restaurant, 117 High Road Chigwell IG7 6QQ
WHEN: Tuesday 22nd December, 11am WHAT: Christmas Walk - Easy, flat walk at gentle pace on hard surfaces. Allow approximately 1 hour to complete the walk. Come in your Christmas colours! Meet at
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AIR AMBULANCE Providing life-saving Helicopter Emergency Medical Service to the people of Essex
nlike NHS emergency services, Essex Air Ambulance, part of the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust is a Charity providing a free life-saving Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) for the critically ill and injured of Essex, Hertfordshire and surrounding areas. Each HEMS Team consists of a Pilot, a Pre-hospital Care Doctor and a Critical Care Paramedic who can be rushed to the scene of an
FACTS OF FLIGHT
4 Over 13,000 missions have been flown since its launch in July 1998 4 It costs in the region of £480,000 per month to keep both helicopters flying and cover all charitable costs, that’s £5.8 million every year. 4 The average cost per mission is just over £2,700. 4 The MD902 Explorer flies at around 150mph (138 knots).
incident with life-saving support equipment to deliver advanced clinical care that is normally only found in the Hospital Emergency Department. Once stabilised, the patient will be conveyed by air or land to the most appropriate hospital for their needs. Deployed on average 1-2 times a day, the HEMS Team is most commonly dispatched to patients with serious illness or injury caused by such incidents as traffic collisions, falls from height, heart attacks,
HOW CAN I HELP? There are many fundraising events throughout the year which you can get involved in.
SANTA RUN Sunday 6th December 2015 Victoria Park, London From Lapland to London - Skyline and Essex Air Ambulance are set to bring thousands of
stabbings, cardiac arrests and stroke. The helicopter is based at Earls Colne Airfield and is operational 7 days a week from 7.00am to 9.00pm or sunset whichever occurs first. With no direct funding from the Government or National Lottery they rely solely upon the generosity and goodwill of the people and businesses of Essex to remain operational and keep saving lives.
Father Christmas’s to the capital in the annual Charity Santa Run.
24/100 Saturday 5th March 2016 Have you got what it takes to raise £100 in 24 hours?
TREK SLOVENIA 17th - 22nd September 2016 Explore the dramatic HELI HOUNDS DOG WALK and breath-taking Sunday 6th March 2016 scenery of Slovenia Bring your pooch and on this action-packed join us for our Heli challenge with Essex Hounds Dog Walk in aid Air Ambulance. of Essex Air Ambulance. www.essex airambulance.uk.com
Match up the syllables from each half of the cracker to make 8 festive words
V V V V V
and V ble l V ta ney in WORD SEARCH
? V V
V Find these festive words: Rud VV V Family Feast Snowflake V V C V Elf Holly V Christmas Gar him Rob V Gifts Mistletoe Celebration Ang Carols Can V V V S V Bau an V V
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE
Can you spot 6 differences between these two pictures?
For puzzle solutions please visit www.essexcentralmagazine.co.uk
Win a family ticket to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs!
14th December. Terms and Conditions: *Tickets have no cash value and must be booked in advance with the Kenneth More Theatre Box Office. *By entering this competition you agree to provide a picture for publication if you are picked as the winner. www.kmtheatre.co.uk
SNOW WHITE COMPETITION
his year’s Pantomime at the Kenneth More Theatre, Ilford is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and upholds a tradition going back 41 years, ever since the Theatre itself opened. Kenneth More Theatre pantomimes are traditional, fun for all the family, comic spectaculars and have been acclaimed for their outstanding and lavish costumes and effects. The pantomime opens to the public on Thursday, 10th December 2015 and runs until Saturday, 16th January 2016. We have teamed up with The Kenneth More Theatre to offer two lucky families the chance to see this fabulous Pantomime. The winners will receive a Family Ticket (4 seats; must include one child) to any public performance (subject to availability).
To Enter: Fill in the entry form and send to: Essex Central Magazine, Brickfield Business Centre, High Road, Thornwood, Epping, Essex CM16 6TH, enter online at www. essexcentralmagazine.co.uk/ competitions or email your details to: competitions@essexcentral magazine.co.uk. Closing Date: Two winners will be picked at random on Monday
ADDRESS: TEL: EMAIL:
In Partnership with
WITHOUT A MAP
s we hurtle towards December 25th I’m starting to realise this could be my last ‘request free’ Christmas for about the next 20 years. George is only two, and although he is starting to grasp the concept of Father Christmas and presents, he’s not yet got his head around doing a list, and going through catalogues of toys, but he’s close. This time next year I expect to be a lot more stressed than I am now, and it’s only going to double in pain a couple of years later when Jake is old enough to understand the whole thing too. So for now, they can have a little present of our choice and that should do. He currently loves trains but seems to have gone into a slight Charlie Chaplin/Buster Keaton mode by getting his brother to lay down across the track whilst he moves the train towards him. I feel like playing some 1920’s style music and filming it all in black and white, but more often than not I just pick up a giggling Jake who then proceeds to watch his big brother hurtle the trains around his track. After purchasing a new dining table recently we were left with a very big box, it’s incredibly tempting to have this as his main Christmas present but I fear visiting friends and family may look on with a face of disapproval, so instead we’re going big on Thomas the Tank Engine, and Postman Pat (I had enough Peppa Pig over the summer so I’m trying to wean him off). It’s strangely nostalgic how two of my own childhood characters are now also captivating my son, although when I first saw the CGI versions on kids TV I was devastated, “What the hell has happened to Gordon? You can see every whisker on Jess’s face?!” and so on... However, I’m now I big fan
of the updated versions and often moan when he tries to change the channel. My old childhood had these two characters made from simple models, with very limited expressions, in fact I’d seen a whole episode where Percy remained with a face of shock throughout. This was never explained, and I can only assume the ‘animators’ had accidentally thrown out the other face pieces that week... I guess I’d be shocked too.
“Their little razor blade fingers spend all day lacerating your ce, so you end up fa looking like you’v e int t dived head firs o a shredder” George has become very polite, but unfortunately this also happens in ‘rebellious’ situations. I’ve been on at him to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ more often, but I hadn’t envisaged for the following (now common) scenario. “George, it’s time for bed” “No thank you Daddy, I’m going to play please”. On one hand I feel the need to praise his growing vocabulary, but obviously it’s the rejection of my words that needs addressing, “Now, now George, it’s time for bed dear boy... So bloody get upstairs!!” Or words to that effect! Luckily his recent understanding of Father Christmas not bringing presents to naughty children has enabled us to tackle any unruly behaviour and he quickly obliges. I’d forgotten how much fun it is
trying to cut a new born babies finger nails. Their little razor blade fingers spend all day lacerating your face, so you end up looking like you’ve dived head first into a shredder. Yet one misguided snip of those scissors and they’ll only ever count to 9. Normally his hands are still, calm and relaxed, yet as soon as I need them to remain that way he starts to do the Macarena. He lures me in with 2 seconds of still hands but as I go to cut he begins the electric boogaloo , body poppin’ his arms like waves around his head. This also got me noticing something strange about baby arms, the fat folds. Now I can understand a large fold around the elbow joint, another perhaps at the wrist, but the middle of the forearm? I keep looking at my own, thinking “I’m sure that part of my arm never bent in two”, yet there he is with his little Michelin Man arms, showcasing more folds than the packed blanket of an origami expert. On the plus side, those arms can be quite useful for holding playing cards, or take away menus, so hopefully they don’t go too soon. The recent gale force winds blew the top off the sand pit in the garden, revealing a host of cat mess, proudly pointing up through the sand like sunburnt prairie dogs, rigid and firm, standing to attention, whilst the scents marched purposefully across the lawn and infiltrated our defenceless nostrils. “What’s that smell Daddy?” “It means you need a new sand pit George, that one smells old, let’s go and play with your trains instead”. I guess that just leaves me to say I wish you all a happy Christmas, whether you’re with kids or without, and have a great new year! ...TO BE CONTINUED
ONGAR RUGBY CLUB
By Ben Sneath
ngar Rugby Club was founded in 1971 by rugby-mad Alf Jones, a teacher at the local Ongar Secondary School. Alf’s dream was to spread the word of rugby in Ongar with this club. Alf realised his dream as it’s still thriving after 45 years and the club has grown to have a large membership that covers all ages and backgrounds. Still positioned at Love Lane in Ongar, the club continues to grow every season with new players deciding to make Ongar their home. To keep all the members of all ages developing their rugby skills there are a number of training staff and coaches on call. They run all the sessions, from Minis & Juniors up to the first team league players, and get them training efficiently and safely. It’s very much a family orientated club with lots of rugby training and fun events for the children. There are sessions for Minis & Juniors who are aged between 7-14 every Sunday, while the annual start of season party complete with a BBQ and bouncy castles is held at the start of September, with the first team on hand to give the youngsters some tips. The Minis & Juniors practise their running, throwing and kicking but don’t get involved in competitive matches during their training. They do, however, get involved in local junior leagues. The Minis & Juniors recently enjoyed
a competitive day at the Oakman Cup held at Premiership champions Saracens’ ground, which they were invited to by one of the club sponsors The Kings Head. Meanwhile, the first team is currently doing well in the Shepherd & Neame merit league 4. The league is for Essex clubs not far from Ongar so the team and supporters can get to the games easy. So whether it’s a home or away match there are lots of local supporters to create a great day out. First team vice captain Jesse Hagger says the club prides itself on its friendly and sociable atmosphere. There is a popular post-match bar in the clubhouse and there are social events throughout the year, but every month the adult members organise a team social evening outside the club. Jesse also promotes the club on Twitter by communicating with the members, wider rugby community and spread the word about the upcoming games, social events and the club news. Jesse says it’s a good way to get people to watch the games and then maybe join the club. So whether you just want to enjoy watching a match or get yourself or your child playing rugby then there’s no better place than Ongar Rugby Club. Ongar RFC, Love Lane, Ongar CM5 9BL Tel: 01277 363838, www.pitchero.com/clubs/ongar Twitter: @OngarRugby
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