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RECRUITING NOW Successful ‘business mum’ is seeking 5 working partners to work part-time from home, alongside & without compromising family commitments or current career.

IN THIS ISSUE WIN a Season Ticket to Hatfield Park Farm!

Issue 90 Jan/Feb 2020 familiesonline.co.uk

If you have a supervisory, managerial, sales, marketing, recruitment or selfemployed background, or you wish to develop an extraordinary lifestyle

please call Diana Page 01235 533362 • 07747 086518

familiesonline.co.uk 1

“Little Steps, Large Leaps”


• Children’s Food Trust and Soil Association approved meals • Part time and full time sessions available • Funded sessions available • Individual Learning Programmes

• Regular Trips and Outings • Extra Curricular programmes such as: • Cook & Grow, Early Language Programme, Magical Maths, • Lets Get Physical, Stork to Walk

Hitchin: 01462 450354 Hitchin@toadhall-nursery.co.uk

Watford: 01923 254637 watford@toadhall-nursery.co.uk

Families Herts

• Platinum Award for First Aid Training • Nappies, Creams and sun creams all included • Strong belief in outdoor learning opportunities

Berkhamsted: 01442 871777 Berkhamsted@toadhall-nursery.co.uk


Hello! Happy New Year and welcome to the first issue of Families Herts Magazine of 2020. This issue has the regular mix of news, features and events listings and we also have a fabulous reader competition where you can win a family season ticket to Hatfield Park Farm. More details on that on page 4.

In this issue: News & Views 4-8 Health 9 Education 10-11 Childcare 12-13 What’s On 14-16

Do you have experience working with children with additional needs?

Wear A Hat Day, in aid of Brain Tumour Research, is celebrating its 10 year anniversary, and I encourage all Families Herts readers to get involved in supporting this special charity and the great work it does. Turn to page 5 for more information and ideas for fundraising events. Creativity and imagination is significant in the development and growth of the brain and our article The importance of imagination provides you with a few ideas on

Tel: 07958284983 Email: editor@familiesherts.co.uk Web: www.familiesonline.co.uk Editor: Dale Harry Design: 45 Degrees Design & Print Listings editor: Karen Porter Cover image: River Island Clothing Company Ltd

Market your business with Families Herts

how you and your child can tap into your creative side. Over the coming months many of you will be considering options for childcare. Why not take a read of Nanny, Granny or Childcare on page 12 which has lots of useful information to help you make that choice. Enjoy the read. See you in March!

Dale /Families_UK /FamiliesUK

• We reach over 45,000 engaged readers each issue • Distribute from schools, tuition centres, leisure attractions and more

• We have a high repeat booking rate, so advertising with us works

trusted, influential, visible 07958284983

You will have the skills to be an amazing foster carer. EVERY CHILD DESERVES A #ChanceToThrive We need more foster carers with the skills to care for children with additional needs. If you can help, give us a call on 0800 917 0925, or visit our website for more information www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/chancetothrive

Find us on socials: @HCCFosterAdopt / #ChanceToThrive Families Hertfordshire (FH) is part of the Families Print Ltd, a franchise company. All franchised magazines in the group are independently owned and operated under licence. Families® is a registered trademark of LCMB Ltd, Remenham House, Regatta Place, Marlow Road, Bourne End, Bucks, SL8 5TD. The content of FH is fully protected by copyright. Every care is taken in the preparation of this magazine, but Families Print Ltd and FH cannot be held responsible for the claims of advertisers nor for the accuracy of the contents, or any consequence thereof.


WIN: Family Season Ticket to HatďŹ eld Park Farm! The new season at HatďŹ eld Park Farm is fast approaching and Families Herts Magazine is giving you the chance to win a family season ticket to the farm which is located on the grounds of HatďŹ eld House. From pigs to ponies, the farm is the perfect setting for the animals and is set across 25 acres of land. While walking amongst the paddocks, you can see donkeys, pigs, sheep, cows, goats, ponies as well as many types of ducks, chickens and geese. There’s more than just the animals too: children can play in the sand pits, go on a tractor ride, or have fun in one of the play areas. To be in with a chance of winning a season ticket (up to 2 adults and 3 children and unlimited visits for the year), answer the following question. Which one of the following animals are you likely to see on a visit to HatďŹ eld Park Farm? A GoldďŹ sh A Tyrannosaurus Rex A pig Email your answer, name and contact number to editor@ familiesherts.co.uk to be in with a chance of winning one of two family tickets on offer. *terms & conditions apply – see Families website for details. Closing date: 7th February. HatďŹ eld Park Farm opens on 31 March.

If you are pregnant or a parent/carer of a child under 19 your local family centre would love to meet you. What happens at a family centre? Hertfordshire’s Family Centre Service brings children’s centres, health visiting and school nursing together to provide a joined up service for children, young people and their families from pregnancy through to when a child reaches 19, offering a range of activities and services to help them grow and develop.

Why should you register your family? • By registering with a family centre you and your child/children can have fun, meet new people and learn together through activities. • If you need help and support, the family centre will try and give you what you need.

National Storytelling Week National Storytelling Week takes place from 1 to 8 February and is a chance to reect on one of the oldest art forms in the world. We are all immersed in stories — from conversations during which we re-tell events in our lives, to watching our favourite television shows. Speech and language therapists believe that storytelling is vital for children’s academic success as it promotes narrative skills and strengthens the ability of children to correctly sequence ideas. To ďŹ nd a local event or to look through its extensive archive, visit www.sfs.org.uk

Marshalswick Pre-School and Nursery continues to thrive Marshalswick Pre-School and Nursery in St Albans has been serving the local community for over 22 years. Its Pre-School is set in a bright and spacious open space with a secure garden, and it’s the perfect environment to encourage outdoor learning and play. Learning and individual development is encouraged in small groups with qualiďŹ ed teachers and nursery practitioners under the Early Years Statutory Framework. As a small Pre School and Nursery with a maximum of 32 children, with a ratio of 1:4 for 2 year olds and 1:6 for 3 year olds, staff effectively provide a nurturing environment where children feel valued, encouraged and supported in all aspects of their development and well-being. Children are encouraged to explore the seven areas of learning set out by the Early Years Statutory Framework through play. Daily activities are delivered through a combination of child-led and adult-led play, encouraging roleplay, a range of activities that are creative, stimulating and challenging through which they can express themselves as individuals and discover the world around them. To book a visit to Marshalswick email marshalswickpreschool@gmail.com or call 07746 646011. Further details at www.marshalswickpreschool.co.uk Remember to quote Families Magazine to get your ďŹ rst session free.

• To give you the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of the family centre and help shape the services on offer.

For more information and to register visit



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News & Views

Twenty years and counting! Drama and dance with Perform Perform is celebrating its 20th anniversary and continues to bring dance and drama fun to children in Hertfordshire, and beyond! Families Hertfordshire Magazine chatted to founder, Lucy Quick. How did Perform start? I was a musical theatre actress in Oliver! at the London Palladium and I loved working with children. I had a vision for a drama school that wasn’t about talent or auditions; where performing arts would be used to develop what we now call the 4 Cs: confidence, communication, coordination and concentration. Where is Perform at now? Starting with two classes in 2000, we now run 472 schools across the

Sleep lessons for school children South East and West, employ over 250 teachers and have almost 8000 children attending weekly. What’s the secret of Perform’s success? We put child development at the heart of everything we do. What does the future hold? Opening more Perform schools across the country – we’re just launching in Nottingham – and continuing our confidence crusade to help children fulfil their potential through drama, dance and singing. What are you proudest of? My teachers. They are the most inspirational bunch of talented and enthusiastic people you’ll ever meet.

Try a FREE no-obligation dance or drama class in Bishops Stortford, Borehamwood, Broxbourne, Harpenden, Hertford, Hitchin, Radlett, St Albans and Welwyn Garden City. Quote HE140220 for an introductory £40 discount when you book. Visit www.perform.org.uk/try to book.

School children across Britain may be offered sleep lessons to help tackle the problem of insomnia in young people. Children and young people’s sleep is being seen as an increasingly important issue. According to the British Medical Journal, there is increasing evidence emerging that lack of sleep has a major impact on children’s mental and physical health, as well as learning. A recent study by the BMJ suggests that sleep has a greater impact on an adolescent’s mental wellbeing than bullying, physical activity and screen time. The sleep lessons are aimed at children ages 7 to 16 years and are available as part of the PSHE curriculum. The lessons focus on giving children strategies for falling asleep and raising awareness of how sleep needs change in adolescence. For more information visit www.pshe-association.org.uk and www.thechildrenssleepcharity.org.uk/

Wear A Hat Day needs you! The annual fundraising extravaganza Wear A Hat Day is coming back in 2020 – Families Magazine and Brain Tumour Research are calling on you to get involved! Wear A Hat Day 2020 takes place on Friday 27 March, at the end of Brain Tumour Awareness Month. Over the last decade, this hat-tastic event has raised more than £1 million in support of the charity Brain Tumour Research. It has become a must-do event for many children, parents and their communities. Taking part is really easy and the charity has some great ideas on its

Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer

website to help you plan and host wonderful hat-themed fundraising events. Register today to ensure you get your FREE fundraising pack in time: www.wearahatday.org Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer. No family should be devasted by a brain tumour. Wear A Hat Day is a really important campaign to be involved with – not only is it great fun but with your participation, it becomes a powerful symbol of hope for all affected by this disease. Funds raised will continue to

help the charity build a network of experts in sustainable research at dedicated Centres of Excellence whilst influencing the Government and larger cancer charities to invest more nationally. Together we will find a cure.



Sign up today for your


of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease



www.wearahatday.org Registered charity number 1153487 (England and Wales) SC046840 (Scotland). Company limited by guarantee number 08570737. familiesonline.co.uk


News & Views

Ofsted ratings driving up house prices Families in England are paying a house price premium of as much as £100,000 to make sure their children live within the catchment of schools rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, new analysis suggests. Researchers analysed the Ofsted ratings of 20,545 secondary and primary schools in England and found that average house prices often reflect the quality of the local school. The average price of a house in England with top-rated schools nearby stands at £331,605, according to research by comparison website Confused.com. This is about £38,600 more than the average price of homes with schools rated ‘good’ by Ofsted nearby, about £78,000 more than in areas with schools that ‘require improvement’ and nearly £100,000 more than in postcodes with schools rated ‘inadequate’.

Volunteers needed to help people rebuild their lives A local homelessness charity is urgently calling on volunteers to help its social enterprise, which generates the funding needed to support formerly homeless people as they rebuild their lives. Emmaus Hertfordshire has five charity shops across the county selling quality second-hand items and has several roles available for individuals who are looking to use their skills and experience to help a good cause. Volunteer roles within the charity include van drivers, stock sorters, till and customer service assistants, and multiple roles within its eBay team for people with a flair for fashion or an interest in books. The charity is also keen to hear from people with professional experience in marketing, business and social work. Redbourn-based volunteer, John

(pictured), (pictured) has been at Emmaus Hertfordshire for five years as a volunteer van driver. “I wanted to find something useful to do with my spare time when I retired – apart from playing golf. I enjoy volunteering and help out once or twice a week delivering orders and collecting donations,” he says. “It is great that there is an organisation like Emmaus which not only helps people who have been homeless by giving them somewhere to stay but gives them the chance to learn new skills and get back into working life.” All volunteers receive lunch on the days that they volunteer and 20% discount in the Emmaus stores – St Albans, Boxmoor, Harpenden, Hertford, and Tring.

To find out more visit www.emmaus.org.uk/hertfordshire/support-us/ volunteer-roles or call 07785 615155.

Trampoline therapy at Jump In

Open Half Term! Open Half Term! Open ALL SUMMER!


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Jump In trampoline park in Elstree runs Rebound Therapy classes aimed at children and adults with autism or heightened sensory needs. The trampoline therapy forms part of inclusive relaxed sessions where those with special needs are encouraged to explore unassisted play with their families and carers in a safe, lower sensory environment. Jump In Rebound Therapy-qualified instructors are on hand to work either one to one or in groups after a full assessment of needs is carried out. Trampolines are key to this specific type of exercise therapy which benefits those across virtually the whole spectrum of disabilities. It has been proven to provide a huge number of potential therapeutic and physiological benefits, from cardiorespiratory, muscle tone and balance and posture through to perception and communication.

“Freedom to play and move unaided is often something that children and adults with special needs can be restricted on when participating in many physical activities,” says Rob Borg, Regional Manager for Jump In Elstree. “Trampoline parks can go some way towards offering more scope for unassisted play. Trampolines also offer great physio benefits for those with low muscle tone who need to maintain or build their core strength.” To find out more or book an assessment for the Rebound Therapyspecific session with a qualified Jump In Level 2 Rebound Therapy practitioner, email to Elstree.management@ gojumpin.com.

Further information on Rebound Therapy can be found here: reboundtherapy.org/

News & Views

Separation and time with the children Debenhams Ottaway Family Partner, Helen Young, discusses some of the key considerations when parents decide to separate “As a parent, the decision to separate from your partner will be one of the most difficult issues you will have to face. When parents separate, the question of which parent will have day to day care of the children is usually resolved without too much difficulty as they will work together to minimise the impact of the separation on the children. It is recognized that it is a huge transition from having spent time together as a family on a daily basis. It is important to find a way to maintain an amicable relationship with the

other parent. This will be of benefit to the parents and the children who will want to spend time with each of their parents and will want both of their parents to be with them when they celebrate life changing events in the future. It is important that they maintain significant bonds with both parents. If you cannot agree, then it may be necessary to make an application to the Court for a child arrangements Order which will specify how much time the children will spend with each parent. This is typically the last resort when all other possibilities have been explored as decision making passes into the hands of the court and the Judge. The Court can appoint a member of CAFCASS to assist. CAFCASS is the

Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service and their role is to meet the parents and the children and to make independent recommendations to the Court as to the type of order, if any, they believe needs to be made by the Judge. The Judge’s decision is based on the fact that the child’s welfare has to be the paramount consideration. The Judge will decide what he/she believes is in the best interests of your children.

To contact Debenhams Ottaway email hy@debenhamsottaway.co.uk, call 01727 738212 or visit debenhamsottaway.co.uk

100% of our family law clients would recommend us to their family, friends and colleagues.*

Your aspirations are our inspiration

T: 01727 837161

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*Based on client survey results returned in 2019. For more information, please visit our website



News & Views

Would you rent clothes for your baby? Babies can get through an alarming number of outfits in a day, so there’s no getting away from the fact that you will need plenty of sleepsuits in different sizes, each of which will only fit for a matter of months or weeks. So how do you avoid ending up with piles of clothes your baby has outgrown? For more and more new parents, the answer is simple: rent. Two UK companies have introduced an alternative which they believe solves this problem as well as being affordable and environmentally sustainable by reducing waste. The alternative

also reduces time spent by parents constantly re-selling and purchasing clothes. Families pay a monthly subscription, return outgrown clothes and then receive the next size up, in line with their baby’s growth and the changing seasons. Clothes are professionally cleaned and must pass quality control before being sent to the next renting family.

For more info visit www.bundlee.co.uk or www.bellesandbabes.co.uk

Children of same ability missing out Britain’s got talent – but we’re still wasting it. That’s the main finding of a recent report by researchers from Oxford University. Children of similar cognitive ability have very different chances of educational success; it still depends on their parents’ economic, socio-cultural and educational resources. This contradicts a commonly held view that our education system has developed enough to give everyone a fighting chance. The research, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, found that only about half of the difference in educational attainment between children from More info: www.ox.ac.uk/news

advantaged and disadvantaged parental backgrounds is due to differences in their cognitive ability. The other half is due to other factors associated with their backgrounds. Experts are now calling for government to acknowledge that formal qualifications are only one channel for upward mobility for children of disadvantaged backgrounds.

Protecting our children from harm A community interest company which provides awareness on how to protect children from harm and abuse aims to delivery its workshops to more schools in Hertfordshire this year. Freedom From Abuse has already trained 98% of primary and secondary schools in Stevenage regarding the dangers online and offline in relation to grooming. The training also looks at child exploitation, county lines and dating violence leading to domestic abuse. The training is to every pupil in a school across a whole day, with staff members training after school, followed by parents in the evening. “Our training focuses on behaviours, how to stay safe and the need to use critical thinking,” says Freedom From Abuse director, Marilyn Hawes. “We cover child sexual abuse, online dangers, and give advice on therapy. We seek to keep youngsters safe, and for them to better understand the real threats around them and how to manage risk.” For more information email marilyn. hawes@freedom-abuse.org or visit www.freedom-abuse.org


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Coping with winter blues SAD affects many people, but there are ways in which it can be managed Most of us hate grey, cold winter days and feeling dispirited by them is quite normal. Just as it is natural for us to feel more energised and happy when the sun is shining and the weather is warm, research has shown that many of us feel miserable and lethargic, with a tendency to eat and sleep more in winter. But, for around 7% of the population, the shorter days of winter can trigger the onset of a more serious form of recurring winter depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs regularly on a seasonal basis; usually in winter. It is twice as likely to affect women as men.

Symptoms of SAD SAD is characterised by a low mood (depression). Other symptoms include low self-esteem and self-confidence, a loss of pleasure in usual activities, loss of hope for the future, marked lethargy, feelings of guilt and social withdrawal. Unlike non-seasonal depression, SAD sufferers are more likely to sleep excessively rather than have disrupted sleep patterns. People experiencing SAD tend to eat more rather than less, usually craving carbohydrate-rich, and sweet foods, which can result in weight gain in many sufferers SAD symptoms generally begin as the days start to get shorter in the autumn. Many sufferers cite the clocks going back in October as being the start of their symptoms. November through to February are the worst months for most and for the majority, symptoms start to improve by spring time, and may even disappear completely over summer. SAD is believed to be triggered largely by lack of exposure to natural sunlight. Here’s what you can do to relieve symptoms:

Lighten Up Make your home environment as light and airy as possible and sit near windows when you’re indoors. Light therapy is also a popular treatment for SAD. This consists of sitting in front of a light source that is much more powerful than ordinary domestic or office lighting.

Try Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is a non-invasive, non-surgical therapy where a person is placed in a pod, put under mild pressure, then breathes 93% pure oxygen (our atmosphere is only 21% oxygen). This extra oxygen supports and accelerates the body’s healing process. As well as oxygenation around the brain, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy relieves cloudiness, low mood and stress, and encourages a more calm and positive mental state.

Take a Winter Holiday If you can afford it and it fits in with your children’s school holidays, going away somewhere sunny in the winter months will provide some respite from the SAD symptoms. Unfortunately, this will only last while you are away and the symptoms are likely to return once you are back home.

Talk it Through Talking treatments such as counselling, psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you cope with SAD symptoms. Contact your local GP for further information.

More info: www.nhs.uk/conditions/seasonalaffective-disorder-sad

Keep Active Research suggests that a daily walk is helpful in beating the winter blues. As well as exposing you to natural daylight, exercise also boosts energy levels and the immune system

Get Outside Get as much natural daylight as possible, especially at midday and on bright days. If you are at home with pre-schoolers, head to the park. If you are working, go for a walk or eat lunch on a park bench. Try to plan some outdoor activities with the family at the weekends too.

Keep Warm Being cold makes you more depressed and staying warm can reduce psychological distress, such as the winter blues, by half. Keep warm with hot drinks and food, layered clothing and efficient heating in living areas.

Eat Healthily A healthy diet boosts your mood, provides energy and prevents weight gain. Try not to give in to a sweet tooth as putting on weight will have on impact on your self-esteem and confidence. familiesonline.co.uk



The importance of imagination By Dr Neel Burton

Imagination is a powerful tool which we need to reignite in our children Einstein held that imagination is more important than knowledge: “I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” It’s hard to disagree. Imagination is the highest form of thought, and almost divine in its reach. With enough imagination, we could identify and solve all of our problems. With enough imagination, we would never have to work again – or, at least, not for money. With enough imagination, we could win over, or defeat, anyone we wanted to. But our imagination is so poor that we haven’t even imagined what it would be like to have that kind of imagination. Most children begin to develop pretend play at around 15 months of age. What are children doing when they pretend play? And why are they so absorbed in works of imagination? When I was 7 years old, I would devour book after book and plead with my parents for those not already in the bookcase. By playing out scenarios and extending themselves beyond their limited experience, children seek to make sense of the world and find their place within it. This meaning-making is full of emotion, joy, excitement and awe and finds an echo in every subsequent act of creation. Think back to your favourite teacher at school: for me, a French teacher who wept silently as he read to the class from a novel by Marguerite Duras. The teachers whom we hold dear to our hearts, who changed the course of our lives, are not those who assiduously taught us the most facts, or fastidiously covered every bulleted point on the syllabus, but those who moved and inspired us, those who fired up our imagination and opened us up to ourselves and to the world. Despite its importance to the individual and society, our system of education leaves very little place for imagination. We are often forced to prioritise knowing over thinking, and equate thinking with reasoning, and 10

Families Herts

reasoning with logic. This has done, and continues to do, untold harm. Instead of digging ourselves in deeper, we need to make more time and space for thinking, and we need to rehabilitate alternative forms of cognition such as imagination, inspiration, and emotion that can support, supplement, or supplant reason and return us to wholeness.

‘Make time for idleness and daydreaming’

pieces of information, and making all sorts of novel connections and projections. Time is a very strange thing, and not at all linear: sometimes, the best way of using it is to ‘waste’ it. Dr Neel Burton is a leading psychiatrist and author of Hypersanity: Thinking Beyond Thinking, priced £12.99. To find out more, visit www.neelburton.com

Here are 12 tips for nurturing imagination in your children • Allow for unscheduled down-time, even for ‘boredom.’ • Discourage passive TVs, tablets, and other electronics. • Encourage reading, as your child’s school does, and make sure there are plenty of age-appropriate books around. • Encourage story-telling and writing.

Recovering imagination In recent years, I’ve been trying to recover the bright and vivid imagination that I left behind in primary school. For that, I’ve been doing just three things, all of them very simple to explain: • Being aware of the importance of imagination.

• Encourage pretend play, even if it gets messy! • Spend time in botanical gardens, zoos, art museums, science museums, natural history museums… • Spend a lot of time outdoors. • Travel to different places: forest, beach, mountains, abroad.

• Making time for sleep and idleness.

• Encourage contact with different people and cultures.

• Taking inspiration from the natural world.

• Encourage thought-provoking questions, and ask some yourself.

How might that translate to you and your children? Don’t skimp on sleep. Don’t fill every hour of the day with scheduled activities. Make time for idleness, for daydreaming, and long walks in nature. Above all, don’t worry about ‘wasting time.’ While we are idling, in bed, in the bath, on the bus, our unconscious mind is busy assimilating and processing disparate

• Try not to impose pre-conceived notions, especially pre-conceived notions of what it means to be successful. • Allow your children to follow their enthusiasms, however eccentric, impractical, or disruptive they may seem. You never know where they may lead!

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Nanny Granny or Nursery? By Gabrielle Nash

There are many factors to consider when weighing up options for childcare Decisions over childcare are some of the most challenging and important that working parents have to make. Whether it’s the cost or the suitability (or lack thereof), parents often grapple with childcare dilemmas right the way through a child’s pre-school and primary school years. So how do you go about finding the best for you and your family, regardless of the ages of your children? To start, be truly realistic about what the amount of childcare you need. It’s not just the hours you will spend actually at work. What about your commute? Do you have early starts, late finishes or unpredictable hours? Set or varied shifts? If you’re in a relationship, do you and your partner’s hours (and work pressures) match up or are they dissimilar? Can one or both of you work flexibly? Taking all this into consideration will help you assess the childcare options available.

Childcare options: What’s best? One of the best ways to learn about the childcare options in your area is to speak to other local parents about their experiences and recommendations. Of course, underpinning most parents’ choice is cost. What are your earnings after tax? Do you have access to taxfree childcare? What is your budget? For average costs in your area, check out this online tool: www.childcare. co.uk/costs

Nursery Day nurseries can care for children from when they’re young babies until school age, so once you’ve found a good one, excellent continuity is available. Nurseries vary in size and approach and it’s best to visit to truly 12

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see what they’re like. Remember: a regulator rating of Outstanding doesn’t mean the setting is right for you and your child. Offering year-round care, nurseries can be very cost-effective (£242 per week average) especially for one child but make sure there are no surprise extras such as meals and nappies. Nurseries will often operate long hours but these tend to be set, with little flexibility. Think about your commute to work. If you choose a nursery close to home, is it easy to continue your onward journey from

of your child in a home environment. They must be registered, which involves meeting numerous requirements (health and safety, development, nutrition, safeguarding etc) just like a nursery. They are also regularly monitored. You do need to consider what happens if your childminder falls ill. Do you have a back up plan? Contact your local authority for a list of registered childminders in your area. Laura and her partner have a 17 month old and only need 3 days childcare “We both are able to work 4 days a week, so we each do 1 day’s childcare and then for the remaining 3 days we have two different childminders, one of which is flexible which can be really helpful.”


there? Is there enough time between the time you leave work and the time the nursery closes for you to comfortably get there, taking account of inevitable public transport and traffic delays? Would it be better to choose a nursery close to work if time will be tight at the end of the day? If it’s going to be difficult for your (or your partner) to routinely leave work at a set time, a nursery may not be the ideal option for you.

Childminder Childminders offer childcare in their home with a small number of other children, often at a similar cost to a nursery (average £221 per week), so can be a very cost-effective option. Additionally, a childminder can offer a more flexible approach if you have irregular hours as well as offering care

A nanny is the most expensive childcare option (average £400 per week) but arguably the most flexible. If affordable, a live out (or live in) nanny can remove the majority of logistical issues of childcare as they’ll come to your home at times that suit you. Remember though, that there is no legal requirement to have qualifications as a nanny so it can be sensible to use a nanny agency to recruit one and undertake necessary background checks or rely only on a recommendation from someone you trust. A nanny is particularly cost-effective if you have two or more young children, children with any additional needs or if you can set up a nanny-share with another family. Take into consideration that there are other costs involved though; the nanny’s tax and pension, in particular. To work out costs head to Nanny Tax’s online calculator https:// www.nannytax.co.uk/what-we-do/freetools-services/salary-calculator

Family If you’re lucky enough to have a family

Childcare member to help with childcare then you are very fortunate as it’s known to substantially increase a woman’s chances of returning to work. It’s estimated that 40% of grandparents in the UK provide regular childcare. However, although this may look like a cheaper option, it does still require assessment. Is the family member in good health? Does he or she have other regular commitments? Who covers granny when she is ill or on holiday? You may prefer to keep your family member as back-up childcare for when your child can’t go to nursery or school or even ask them to just do wraparound for a shorter day at nursery, for example.

After-school childcare Childcare should become easier when your child goes to school, shouldn’t it? Unfortunately, you may still need wraparound and school holiday care and this isn’t always easy to find. Claire Harding from Coram Family and Childcare says the childcare problem really doesn’t go away when children start school: “Breakfast and after school clubs aren’t always easy to find and holiday childcare can be cripplingly expensive, especially if you have more than one child and aren’t lucky enough to have a flexible employer, or relatives who can step in.” Options can include after-school clubs (your school or local authority

will have an approved list) or you could hire a regular babysitter, or an au-pair to help with after-school activities and meals. Irene has two children, 13 and 4, and has managed full-time childcare using a variety of options. “It’s always been a challenge, first we had a nanny, then a nursery. Now they’re at school my husband and I take turns doing dropoffs in the morning and then in the afternoon we use a mixture of afterschool clubs and a babysitter. It’s not easy, but feasible.”

Childcare for Special Educational Needs The childcare system is not perfect, something that parents of SEND children are acutely aware of. Many parents struggle to find both affordable and suitable childcare for their child if they have a additional requirements – something that continues into the school years when there are limited provisions during school holidays. It’s advisable to discuss your needs with your local Family Information Service. Ask for details of childcare options that have expertise to support children with SEND. Depending on the availability of services and your child’s needs you may want to look to a combination of specialist and mainstream care. Visit www.familyandchildcaretrust.org for more information on finding suitable childcare near you.

Free childcare Despite not having the progressive approach to state funded childcare as some countries, British parents do enjoy some free childcare. In the last few years there’s been additional support for some parents from the government’s Tax Free Childcare scheme and the free childcare entitlement (for 3 and 4 year olds). If your child has additional needs or you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit you can receive 15 hours free childcare from age 2. When your child reaches 3 everyone is entitled to 15 hours free childcare and if you’re eligible this extends to 30 hours. While the grim reality of an inflexible childcare system can be daunting, good quality childcare plays a hugely important role in your child’s development and independence. Need help navigating the system? Contact your local authority’s family information service. They can help you availability and your entitlements and they’ll also have a list of local providers from nurseries to childminders.

Flexible working If flexible working is something that appeals to you then consider in advance of asking for it what might work for your career and your family. Compressed hours could mean you do 3 or 4 longer days, allowing for you or your partner to cover one or more days of childcare and save on costs. But if overrunning deadlines make rushing for childcare pickups a headache, maybe it’s better to do the equivalent of 3 or 4 days but spread over a week, with earlier finishes to allow for easier evenings. Parental Choice CEO Sarah-Jane Butler is a firm advocate of flexible working but often sees parents not planning childcare that fits with their career. “One key mistake that parents make, is to make the flexible working request and then try to make childcare work to what they envisage that to be like, it’s advisable to sort out what childcare you want first and then make the request.”

For more from Gabrielle Nash, follow her @TheLondonishMum



What’s On SHOWS THE ALBAN ARENA Civic Centre, St Albans, AL1 3LD 01727 844488 www.alban-arena.co.uk Scout & Guide Gang Show www.stalbansgangshow.com 12-15 Feb – 7.30pm. Also 2.30pm Sat Over 100 young people aged 11-20 from Scout and Guide organisations across St Albans present this variety show of big musical numbers. Cost: £9-£14 BROADWAY THEATRE Eastcheap, Letchworth Garden City, SG6 3DD 01462 681088 www.broadway-letchworth. com There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly 2 Feb – 2.30pm Ages 3+. Magical show written especially for grown-ups to enjoy with their children. Singalong songs, colourful animal characters and heart-warming family fun. Cost: £13.50. Concs £11.50 The Amazing Bubble Man 20 Feb – 2pm Ages 3+. Louis Pearl has been thrilling audiences around the world for over 30 years with the art, magic, science and fun of bubbles. Cost: £14 GORDON CRAIG THEATRE Lytton Way, Stevenage, SG1 1LZ 01438 363200 www.gordon-craig.co.uk Chinese New Year Extravaganza 13 Feb – 7.30pm Family-friendly show with

Chinese acrobatics, music and dance. Cost: £21.50. Family £68 HERTFORD THEATRE The Wash, Hertford, SG14 1PS 01992 531500 www.hertfordtheatre.com The Bear 25 & 26 Jan – 2pm The story of a little girl who befriends a mischievous polar bear. Pins and Needles Productions present this playful, funny and heart-warming tale of imagination and growing up. Puppetry, music and laughs for ages 3-8. Cost: £14. Family £52 Hertford Symphony Orchestra 2 Feb – 2.30 & 4.15pm Concert of storytelling and music celebrating the involvement of the Robert Kiln family in the musical life of Hertford. Dress up as your favourite story character. Audience participation guaranteed! Cost: £8. Child £5 Billionaire Boy 12-14 Feb – 7pm 15 Feb – 2.30 & 7pm 16 Feb – 11am & 3pm Joe Spud is 12 and the richest boy in the country! But what Joe doesn’t have is a friend. So he decides to leave his posh school and start at the local comp. Life becomes a rollercoaster as he tries to find what money can’t buy! From the book by David Walliams. Ages 5+. Cost: Weds & Thurs: £20, Under 16s £16, Family £68. Fri, Sat & Sun: £21, Under 16s £17, Family £72 Lily And Bear 18 & 19 Feb – 11.30am & 2pm

Fun, family musical about the give and take of friendship. Lily likes nothing better than to imagine and draw the things she loves, and one day she draws a bear that comes to life. Chance to meet the bear afterwards. Ages 18 months-6 yrs. Cost: £12.50 Little Grimm Tales 20 Feb – 11am, 1 & 3pm Ages 3+. Beasts and breadcrumbs, wolves and witches, frogs and fairies all join the fun in a stunning new adaptation of Grimm’s most magical tales. Cost: £11. Babes in Arms (under 18 mths) free THE RADLETT CENTRE 1 Aldenham Avenue, Radlett, WD7 8HL 01923 859291 www.radlettcentre.co.uk Room on the Broom 6 Feb – 1.30pm 7 & 8 Feb – 10.30am & 1.30pm Fun-filled adaptation of the best-selling picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Ages 3+. Cost: £13. Babes in Arms (12 mths and under) £3 Peter Pan - A Musical Adventure Join Peter and the Darling family on a magical, musical adventure as they are whisked away to Neverland! Talented amateur cast of under 19s. 19, 21 & 22 Feb – 7.15pm 20 & 22 Feb – 2.30pm Cost: Weds £12. Thurs, Fri & Sat matinée £16, Child £14. Sat eve all tickets £16. Family ticket where available £52. Babes in Arms (12 mths and under) £3. Morgan & West: Unbelievable Science 29 Feb – 2.30pm Science and silliness abound for ages 7 to 107! Explosive thrills and chemical spills backed up by the daring duo’s trademark wit, charm and detailed knowledge of the scientific method. Cost: £12. Under 16s £10 RHODES BISHOP’S STORTFORD 1-3 South Road, Bishop’s Stortford, CM23 3JG 01279 710200 www. rhodesbishopsstortford.org.uk Rumpelstiltskin & The Snail of Destiny 15 Feb – 11.30am & 1.30pm Theatre of Widdershins production for ages 4-11. Poor Polly Buckwheat, the miller’s daughter, is in a bit of a pickle! If she doesn’t turn a roomful of straw into gold by morning, the greedy King will turn a bit nasty. But should she accept the


Families Herts

kind help of an eccentric dwarf who mysteriously appears in her prison cell? Children can meet the puppets after the show. Cost: £12.50. Concs £10.50. Family £42 Woman Like Me: The Little Mix Show 22 Feb – 7pm Tribute show including dance competitions, giveaways and a Meet & Greet after the show. Cost: £17.50. Family £64 THE SANDPIT THEATRE The Ridgeway, St Albans, AL4 9NX 01727 799565 www.sandpittheatre.co.uk 20 Feb – 11am Big Book Tall Tales A story for ages 3+ set in a forgotten tattered library. The caretaker can’t stop talking about all his favourite books while he cleans the rooms, when suddenly, he finds a 6ft tall book! He tries to read the story but all the words have been washed away. Cost: £6/£4 THE SPOTLIGHT High Street, Hoddesdon, EN11 8BE 01992 441946 www.broxbourne.gov.uk/ thespotlight Puss In Boots 8-10 Jan – 7.30pm 11 Jan – 2 & 6.30pm 12 Jan – 2pm Traditional family pantomime. Cost: £12-17.50 WYLLYOTTS THEATRE Wyllyotts Place, Darkes Lane, Potters Bar, EN6 2HN 01707 645005 www.wyllyottstheatre.co.uk Robin Hood and the Dame of Thrones 23 & 24 Jan – 7.30pm 25 Jan – 2.30 & 7.30pm 26 Jan – 11.30am & 3.30pm Fun, pranks and live music feature in this traditional family pantomime by The Warren, an amateur group. Cost (in support of local charities): £14. Child £10. Thurs preview performance - all tickets £10

HALF TERM CAMPS & COURSES COOKERYEATERY www.cookeryeatery.co.uk Whole day food & cookery camp. Make (and eat!) the 3 typical daily meals, from menus containing a variety of healthy and delicious dishes. Each day brings new and unique food adventures to discover and

We take great care in compiling our events guide, but check with the venues before you leave home just in case times or prices have changed since we went to print. enjoy! Hitchin Boys School, Grammar School Walk, Hitchin, SG5 1JB 17-19 Feb Ages 4-11. Cost: £40 per day The Vege Centre, St. Christopher School, Barrington Road, Letchworth, SG6 3JZ 20-21 Feb Ages 8-16. Cost: £50 per day MULTI-ACTIVE HOLIDAY COURSES Venues across Herts including Bishops Stortford, Hertford, Hitchin, Kings Langley, Letchworth, Rickmansworth, Royston, St Albans, Stevenage & Welwyn Garden City 17-21 Feb – 9am-4pm (extended hours available) Ages 5-12. Cost: 18.99. Half day £15.49. Extended day 8am-5pm £24.49, 8am-5.30pm £27.49

CLASSES & WORKSHOPS PERFORM Venues across Herts (Bishops Stortford, Borehamwood, Broxbourne, Harpenden, Hertford, Hitchin, Radlett, St Albans, Welwyn Garden City) 020 7255 9120 enquiries@ perform.org.uk www.perform. org.uk Weekly drama, dance and singing classes for ages 4-12. Energetic games, catchy songs and funky dances specially formulated to bring out every child’s true potential. Run by highly experienced actor-teachers, in small groups, Perform classes focus on developing the 4 Cs: confidence, communication, coordination and concentration. No obligation FREE trial sessions

HEALTH WORKSHOP Get practical nutrition advice to help you live your healthiest, happiest, year ever! Discover how to be more active as a family; how to make healthy and sustainable food choices to lose weight, and keep it off; and how to be a happy and healthy family long term. Fun-filled, family-focused workshops taking place in January and February in Bengeo and Stevenage (dates tbc). Text FAMILY HEALTH WORKSHOP to 07985252220 for more info.


TICK TOCK MUSIC St Michael’s Church Hall, St Michael’s Street, St Albans, AL3 4SL 07933 153054 www.ticktockmusic.co.uk Thurs in term time from 9 Jan – 9.45am Weekly interactive music and drama shows for under 5s. Trial classes can be booked throughout the term. Cost: £7 per child. Sibling discounts available. LETCHWORTH LIBRARY Broadway, Letchworth Garden City, SG6 3PF Lego Club for Children 20 Jan & 17 Feb – 4-5pm Ages 5-12. Must book. Cost: £2 per session ARTSHED ARTS Westmill Farm, Westmill Road, Ware, SG12 0ES 01920 466446 www.artshedarts.co.uk Pottery Throwing Taster Sessions 18 Jan & 15 Feb – 30 min slots 10am-2pm 7yrs +. Two people can throw at the same time. Expect to make about 2 pots that can be fired. Booking essential. Cost: £20 including clay, glazing & firing Exploring Our Emotions Through Art and Mindfulness Mondays for 12 weeks. 6 Jan-30 Mar – 4.30-6pm Mindfulness crafts for ages 6-11 tutored by an experienced art therapist and family support worker. Some children attend because they love art, some are shy or suffer anxiety, some have ADHD or autism, all are welcome. Cost: £180

PLACES TO GO WGC 100 www.wgc100.org Celebrating 100 years of Welwyn Garden City throughout 2020. Garden City Lights 2020 Howardsgate, AL8 6HA 17 & 18 Jan – 4.30-9pm The town centre will radiate light to launch the year of celebrations. FREE Day of Dance 1 Feb – 10am-4pm The Howard Centre, Howardsgate, WGC, AL8 6HA Showcasing Welwyn Garden City’s dance schools and groups. From ballet to tap, Irish dancing, line-dancing to modern. FREE

Orienteering for All 1 Feb – 10-11.30am Sherrardspark Wood Car Park, Rectory Road, WGC, AL8 7SU Experience orienteering for all ages. Walk, jog or run but the shortest route may not be the quickest! Cost: Details online WILLOWS ACTIVITY FARM Coursers Road, London Colney, St Albans, AL2 1BB 0870 129 9718 www.willowsactivityfarm.com February Frolics See website for exact dates Live lambing, newborn lamb bottle feeding demonstrations and a full day’s programme of fleecy fun. Cost: See website CMRA MODEL RAILWAY EXHIBITION Gordon Craig Theatre, Lytton Way, Stevenage, SG1 1LZ 01438 363200 www.gordon-craig.co.uk 11 & 12 Jan – 10am Wide variety of superb layouts. With several large ones to wonder at and many smaller to inspire young or inexperienced modellers to have a go. Cost: £10 (includes adult & up to two children aged 5-15). Under 5s free. Additional child £4. Unaccompanied child (aged 10-15) £4 BRAMBLETON MODEL RAILWAY CLUB EXHIBITION Harpenden Public Halls, Southdown Road, Harpenden, AL5 1PD 01582 767525 www.brambleton.org.uk 18 Jan – 10.30am-5.30pm Catering for both families and model railway enthusiasts with the usual mix of layouts, preservation stands and traders. Refreshments area. Cost: £5. Child/Conc £3 STEVENAGE MUSEUM St George’s Way, SG1 1XX 01438 218881 www.stevenage.gov.uk/ museum Under 5s: Each Peach Pear Plum 16 Jan – 1.30-2.30pm Stories, games, art and craft fun. Cost: £2 Family Saturdays: Pantomime Puppets 18 Jan – 2-3pm BISHOPS STORTFORD MUSEUM Rhodes Arts Complex, 1-3 South Road, Bishop’s Stortford, CM23 3JG 01279 710200 www.rhodesbishopsstortford.org.uk

What’s On Story Time at the Museum 8 Jan & 12 Feb – 1.30pm Perfect for toddlers and preschool. After the story telling join in with an activity – a sing song, small craft session or a trail around the museum. FREE Spring Trail 3-29 Feb Find the museum objects with flowers on. FREE Half Term Children’s Crafts 18-20 Feb – 11am-3pm Make some fun and colourful bugs! FREE HERTFORD MUSEUM 18 Bull Plain, Hertford, SG14 1DT 01992 582686 www.hertfordmuseum.org Time’s Keepers: Discover Hertford’s Clocks and Their Makers Until 22 Feb. Tues-Sat 10am-5pm Exhibition. Explore what makes Hertford tick! Clocks, watches, hourglasses and more. Find out about the gifted craftsmen who worked in the town and discover the beauty and innovation behind their work. FREE. Donations welcome Stay and Play 4 Jan & 1 Feb. Drop in 10am4.30pm. Play with some traditional toys and get hands on with a family craft activity. FREE. Donations welcome Half Term Activities 18-20 Feb. Drop in Family friendly crafts. Cost: £2.50 per child Toddler Tuesday 28 Jan & 25 Feb. 10.15-11.30am Crafts, singing, stories & fun. Booking essential. £3.50 per child, including drink and snack for children and parents/carers. ST ALBANS MUSEUM + GALLERY Town Hall, St Peter’s Street St Albans, AL1 3DH 01727 864 511 www.stalbansmuseums.org.uk Museum Minis 28 Jan & 25 Feb – 10-11am & 11.30am-12.30pm Story, craft activity and museum hunt. Ages 2-4, accompanied by an adult. Book ahead online or pay in person at the museum. Cost: £3



Traditional Folktale Story Telling 12 Jan. Drop-in 2 & 3.30pm Discover the fantastic folklore and secret stories of St Albans. Join in with tales of lost treasure, dreadful dragons, wild witches and sweet treats. FREE Schools Art Exhibition 25 Jan-2 Feb Showcasing the best student work from 14 secondary schools across St Albans City and District. FREE Mad Science at the Museum! 15 Feb – 2-4pm Enjoy an afternoon of science surprises and pop up experiments. FREE Unlocking the Universe with Lucy Hawking 17 Feb – 4pm Calling all budding young scientists! Have you ever wondered how the universe began? Or what it takes to put humans on the Moon – or even Mars? What would you do if you could travel through space and time? Ages 9+. Cost: Pay what you can. Suggested donation £3 per person Participate in the Pageant! 18 & 19 Feb – 10am-4pm Immersive day long theatre workshops with Trestle Theatre for ages 8-14. Explore scenes from the 1907, 1948 and 1953 pageants and consider what might make it into a St Alban’s pageant for today. Book only one day to avoid repetitive content. Cost: £15 per child Help make a Dragon! 18 & 19 Feb. Drop-in 10.30am 12.30pm & 2-4pm Family workshop. Limited capacity, first come first served. Working with experienced stage and costume designers, help make a large-scale dragon to tell part of St Albans’ pageant story. The dragon will be used at the performance evening on 20 Feb. FREE Re-performing Past Pageants! 20 Feb – 7pm A special evening of performances and music. Celebrate the wonderful spectacles of the 1907, 1948 and 1953 pageants as Trestle Theatre brings together actors and community members to perform excerpts from these pageant scenes, capturing the

community feel of these events and bringing history to life for St Albans today. FREE (places must be reserved) Messy Science Workshops 21 Feb. Drop-in 10-11am (relaxed session), 11.30am12.30pm; 2-3pm, 3.30-4.30pm Explore a variety of experiments in these hands-on workshops. Cost: £3 per child VERULAMIUM MUSEUM Tots Tales 10.30-11.30am, 11.45am12.45pm & 1.30-2.30pm 9 Jan: Kipper’s Snowy Day Mick Inkpen 13 Feb: The Treasure Hunt Nick Butterworth Enjoy a story, craft activity and a museum hunt, inspired by a popular story. Ages 2-4, accompanied by an adult. Cost: £3 (plus Museum admission for non-residents) Meet a Roman Soldier 18 Feb – 2.30 & 3.30pm Meet Decanus Laurentius Calvus Petronius, a Roman Soldier posted to Verulamium Museum during the rebellion of Boudicca. FREE. Museum admission applies for non-residents Crafts in the Colonnade 21 Feb. Drop in 2-4pm, last entry 3.40pm Themed craft activities for halfterm. Cost: £1.50 (plus Museum admission for non-residents)

display in the Museum Gallery to make your own wall hanging. Cost: £3.50 per participant (includes 1 adult free admission) WELWYN ROMAN BATHS Welwyn Bypass, AL6 9FG 2-5pm weekends & daily during Feb Half Term Sculpt A Lucky Charm For Your Bulla 17 Feb – 2-4pm Imprint your lucky charm onto a clay pendant that the Romans would keep close to their side. Ages 3+. ST ALBANS CATHEDRAL AL1 1BY 01727 860780 www.stalbanscathedral.org Exhibition: Anne Frank + You 23 Jan-20 Feb. Mon-Fri: 2.305.30pm. Sat: 8.30am-3.30pm. Sun: 12.30-5.30pm. This thought-provoking, travelling exhibition explores Anne Frank, her diary and the Holocaust and how they highlight contemporary injustices, such as racial hatred. Also includes a life-sized replica of Anne’s bedroom, offering an experience of her life in hiding.and the value of freedom. Suitable for (School) Year 6 and up. FREE Be a Chorister for an Afternoon 1 Feb from 1.15pm For Girls in (School) Years 2-5 interested in joining the Cathedral Choir. (Boys event was in Oct). For details email

music@stalbanscathedral.org FREE Family Discovery Morning: Treasure Trail! 20 Feb – 10am-12.30pm Follow a trail around the cathedral uncovering hidden treasures on the way, before finishing with arts and crafts! Ages 3-11 (accompanied by an adult). FREE HARPENDEN COMMON Harpenden, AL5 1QH Family Conservation Day 17 & 18 Feb – 10am-2.30pm Help out with practical tasks which may include scrub clearance, gorse coppicing and bramble bashing. Hot drinks, biscuits and all tools and training provided. FREE PARADISE WILDLIFE PARK White Stubbs Lane, Broxbourne, EN10 7QA Beautiful conservation and research wildlife park, in the stunning surroundings of Broxbourne Woods Cost: £14-£18 REDBOURNE VILLAGE HALL 63 High Street, Redbourn AL3 7LW Parent Group 20 Feb – 10am-12noon Come and meet other parents. Practical parenting advice, tips and strategies will be provided by support workers from Herts Practical Parenting Programme.

MILL GREEN MUSEUM & MILL Mill Green, Hatfield, AL9 5PD 01707 357850 www.welhat.gov.uk/museum Mill Green Tots 23 Jan & 20 Feb – 10-11.30am Relaxed, fun-packed sessions for ages 0-5. Songs, stories, craft and play. Visit the Mill and Museum. Drink and biscuit provided. Cost: £3.50 per child (includes entrance for one adult) ‘Design in Nature’ Half Term Family Activities Sessions at 10.15, 11.15am, 1.15 & 2.15pm Ages 3-adult. Children must be accompanied. 18 Feb Make a beautiful leaf bowl to hold tea lights or treasures. 19 Feb Design a Bee-Friend the Bees tote bag to show your support for these essential pollinators. 20 Feb Be inspired by renowned local artist Patrick Heron’s work on

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January/February 2020 Issue


January/February 2020 Issue