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June 2012

Issue 18

www.oddfellows.co.uk

Sport & leisure

Culture club A matter of trust

Simon Jenkins, Chairman of the National Trust, speaks about his plans for the British institution and why it’s experiencing a popular renaissance during the so-called ‘age of austerity’.

Oddfellow sets torch relay alight, twice!

Discoveries

The Olympic flame has begun its 8,000 mile relay around the UK before arriving at London’s Olympic Stadium on July 27. Most of us only dream of carrying the torch, but for one 87 year old, getting the honour this summer brings back good memories. George Philips carried the flame through Plymouth on May 19, 64 years after he first did it for the 1948 Olympics. Read his story inside.

Food & drink The ultimate gift of simple, seasonal cooking Nigel Slater, the award-winning food writer and broadcaster, talks about his kitchen garden, the passion for cooking that’s in his DNA, and why he believes more and more of us are choosing to keep things simple in the kitchen.

Also featured this month Around Britain: We ask why Windsor is a royal favourite Home & garden: Our resident gardener George is here to answer your green-fingered questions Health & wellbeing: Exploring the nation’s changing attitudes to retirement Money: Expert pensions advice, no matter what stage of life you’re at WIN: A dazzling pair of gardening gloves! Send George your questions for your chance to win.

Cutting edge news from the world around us, and the first winner of our monthly photo competition. WIN: £50 of Jessops vouchers in our through the lens photo competition! Send us your best photo inspired by this month’s theme: summer.

Win WIN: An exclusive embroidered cushion worth £50! Thanks to Baker and Gray To enter, simply sign someone up to Friendscene magazine. Email subscribe@oddfellows.co.uk with the email address of your friend or family member by Friday 29 June and you’ll both be entered into the draw. Good luck!


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Culture club “I love going to the theatre once in a while, so when I heard my local Oddfellows Branch was arranging a trip I couldn’t pass it up.” Sharon - Manchester

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Bringing the Trust to life An interview with Simon Jenkins, Chairman of the National Trust Photo: NTPL/John Millar

Simon Jenkins at Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in Co Antrim, N Ireland.

As the so-called ‘age of austerity’ bites hard, many of us are wondering whether we’ll realise the long-held expectation of living a better life than our parents were able to enjoy. With the future so uncertain, more people than ever are looking to the past to find pleasure and, crucially, value for money. Little surprise, then, that the National Trust is experiencing a popular renaissance. Now in its 116th year, the Trust – along with its 60,000 volunteers – is responsible for hundreds of country houses, woodlands and world-famous heritage sites across the UK. Its membership now stands at just over four million – up 500,000 since 2007 alone. Perhaps this impressive rise in numbers is directly related to the financial crisis. Simon Jenkins, chairman of the National Trust, certainly sees a correlation between the two.

“There’s no doubt that in a time of austerity people seem to want to do things that are somehow traditional, almost nostalgic. They want the reassurance of the old,” he says. “But in a different sense I think we’re good value – you can get annual membership of the National Trust for your whole family for less than the price of a meal for four. I think that’s a factor in our success at the moment.”

We’re not trying to bring our members into the 21st century. We hope we’re in it – and we hope they’ll join us for that reason.

The best things in life are free, so the saying goes. Considering the current economic climate, that may be no bad thing.

And Sir Simon Jenkins – he was knighted in 2004 for services to journalism but rarely uses his official title – should know success when he sees it.

(Continued on the next page...)


Culture club liberating the property managers the Trust has charged them with making the places seem less like museums and more like lived-in houses where visitors are welcomed as guests.” He pauses for a second before adding: “Although I’ve got nothing against museums!” He continues: “If you don’t bring [the properties] to life and free them you won’t get more members. And without more members we can’t maintain our financial independence, which is highly prized.” This determination to keep the Trust solvent is linked to his firm belief that great attractions are worth paying for.

A big factor in accepting the role was a curiosity in rural life – something he puts down to a childhood spent in a city. “As a Londoner, I come from an urban background. I’ve certainly found the countryside that much more fascinating than I would if I’d always lived in it,” he says. It was while he was researching England’s Thousand Best Churches and its follow-up, England’s Thousand Best Houses, that he really developed a respect and reverence for the organisation. “I went to all the National Trust properties,” he says. “I became fascinated by their preservation and their presentation and how they could survive into the 21st century.” This modern approach has been at the heart of his work to overhaul how the Trust operates. “The weight and ponderousness of the bureaucracy were a really serious problem. But we’ve had a big internal upheaval that’s been designed to cure that,” he says. “We’ve delegated far more discretion down to property managers, given them their own budgets and tried to reduce the oversight and monitoring they experience from headquarters.” Such a dramatic urge to modernise might seem strange when it comes from a man who once wrote that “to criticise [the Trust] for being slow to change is to accuse it of being what the public likes it for being”. But not everything about the 68-year-old’s plan involves updating the old. The “second prong” has been to focus on restoring some of the grandeur of the Trust he believes the public craves. “I wanted us to bring the properties to life,” he explains. “By

There’s no doubt that in a time of austerity people look for the reassurance of the old.

Having graduated from Oxford, he began his decorated journalistic career with Country Life magazine. He went on to edit The Times and the London Evening Standard and was named Journalist of the Year in 1988 and Columnist of the Year in 1993. He became chairman of the National Trust in November 2008.

“We’re not free – nor should we be. We charge for things we think people will value, and we’re solvent because we don’t mess about. “Museum culture in this country, unlike in Europe or America, is stuck with the idea that it’s all got to be free – and the result is they’re strapped for cash all the time. “I won’t say we’re flush, but we can invest. We aren’t closing rooms, and we can take on new obligations because people are prepared to pay for them and to value them. “But obviously the landscape we maintain is free, and we have an ongoing conversation about how we can balance the two.” And what of the virtual landscape? Jenkins has written optimistically about the so-called “post-digital age”. Describing the internet as “not a destination in itself but a route-map to something real”, he offers a standpoint that gives hope to anyone concerned about the social impact of the web. “It’s all about getting out of your house, leaving your screen and having an experience of some sort – anything from walking to entertainment to art appreciation,” he says. “And I see the Trust as the perfect post-digital organisation. We’re using online as a way of enabling people to enjoy our properties more but, above all, encouraging them to go to the properties.” Asked if he thinks the Trust is succeeding in encouraging its members to embrace new technologies, he replies without equivocation. “We’re not trying to bring our members into the 21st century. We hope we’re in it – and we hope they’ll join us for that reason. “Of course, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. But it’s certainly something that’s close to my heart.”


Culture club

The Reader’s Review Film: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen What else is there to do in Cromer on a wet and windy afternoon? Go to the cinema to keep warm and dry! Luckily I’d read a review of this film first so I knew to expect a romantic comedy rather than a documentary on a subject of no interest to me. The story is simple. One of Britain's leading fisheries experts, Dr Alfred Jones (played by Ewan McGregor), is approached by someone from Yemen to help realise a sheikh's vision of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to the desert. But when the UK Prime Minister's overzealous press secretary (played by Kristin Scott Thomas) latches on to it as a good will story, this unlikely pair embark on an journey of faith and fish to prove the impossible, possible. I thought the film, which was shot in Morocco, was beautiful and acted with gentle interaction. Ewan McGregor played the slightly eccentric professor while Emily Blunt brings the romance. Kristen Scott Thomas meanwhile, added the steeliness of a formidable character. This is a great film which doesn’t demand much from the viewer. But it delights by leaving you with a cosy, happy-ever-after ending. (c) 2011 Lions Gate Films Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Wendy Atkins, Branch Secretary, Ipswich Oddfellows

Book: Antarctica I’ve always been fascinated by the vast, inhospitable, but austerely beautiful continent of Antarctica. This book focuses on different regions of the Antarctic which the author visits thanks to the hospitality of scientific bases run by various nations. By joining these scientists in their endeavours she offers an intriguing insight into the scientists’ work. However, the book is not all science. Instead it’s the human stories which bring the book alive and make it such an engaging read. The trials and tribulations faced by today’s scientists are interwoven with inspiring and heartbreaking tales of struggle by Scott, Amundsen and Shackleton back in the ‘heroic age’ of Antarctic exploration. As Walker says in the introduction, “no matter how powerful you believe yourself to be...Antarctica is always bigger.” The final chapters focus on the effect of climate change on Antarctica’s great ice sheets. It’s ironic that this vast continent, so indifferent to human endeavour, appears to be the area of the planet most affected by global warming. What comes across from the stories of those who live and work in the extremes of the Antarctic is that far from being a dehumanising experience, being there makes them feel more alive. The great success of this book is leaving the reader with that sense of wonder that leads explorers and scientists to return again and again to that strange continent. Mary Atkinson, Care Department - Unity Office, Manchester


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Food & drink “My favourite thing about the Oddfellows is that all the events are aimed at foodies like me. We even went on a tour of an English vineyard recently – I’ll drink to that!” George - Brighton

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Fresh thinking from the plot to the plate An interview with Nigel Slater Nigel Slater is a man of many talents. Author, journalist, gardener and cook, he keeps patience, simplicity and seasonality at the heart of everything he does. He describes the art of cooking for others as the ultimate gift, and his career has centred on the belief that taking the time to prepare food to make someone else happy is truly a wonderful thing. Despite having eight series of cookery shows, 10 books, 15 awards and 20 years as a columnist to his name, the 56year-old still considers himself an amateur. “I think of myself as a cook rather than a chef,” he explains. “I’ve always tried to differentiate between chefs who cook outside of the home and myself. “Although I make my living out of food, it’s still essentially home cooking. All I do really is pass on good ideas. It still feels like I’m just making something for supper really.” Such modesty overlooks the fact that a career spent emphasising the importance of simple, home-cooked, home-grown food has turned him into a household name.

The pleasure I get from picking fresh ingredients in the garden is unrivalled, and the encouragement I get from the success stories is wonderful.

Behind his disarmingly polite and thoughtful demeanour, though, the author of the best-selling autobiography Toast is on a mission to make confident cooks of us all. “I think lots of people are scared of making mistakes, and that fear makes them follow recipes to the letter,” he says. “Unlike other countries, where most people just get on and cook, in the UK we tend to rely on masses of cookbooks rather than just using our instincts.” Slater prefers people to use his cookbooks merely as a starting point – picking up his recipes, running with them and evolving them continually as they go. And he believes we are turning the tide on the impossible quest for food perfection.

Photo

“I’m always trying to show people that they don’t have to worry about making food that’s perfect. Everything I cook looks deliberately uneven and homemade to show that it’s okay to serve food with charm and character. “It’s not that TV-chef-style perfection we’re so used to seeing. In reality it’s actually incredibly simple to make something good to eat.” Part of Slater’s appeal stems from his desire to get people cooking, a passion he puts down to “having cooking in my DNA”. Having always wanted to cook – and with few other options on the table – he trained as a chef as a young man. But he soon realised the adrenaline-fuelled, high-pressure environment of restaurant kitchens wasn’t for him. (Continued on the next page...)


Food & drink “I’d never thought about doing anything else, but I quickly knew I’d got it wrong. I didn’t like the ‘macho chef’ thing. I hated the teamwork, and the ‘excitement’ of having to serve hundreds of people simultaneously left me cold. “Even so, all I wanted to do was cook. Luckily, I found a career within food where I get to potter around in the kitchen instead.” And his kitchen has remained the venue for his cooking ever since. With his now-famous kitchen garden just metres away, he’s constantly trying to bring the place where we grow our food closer to the place where we prepare it. He cooks with his kitchen door open whenever possible and is never more than 10 feet away from a regular supply of fresh herbs, fruit and vegetables to use in his dishes. Despite the cost and the varying degrees of success, growing his own food is a source of immeasurable enjoyment. “I’ve probably spent more than I would have done in the supermarket, and I think everything I’ve ever planted has been eaten by slugs. But none of that matters.

He takes a similar – albeit slightly more cautious – view on locally sourced food. Instead of focusing on the unspecific term ‘local’, Slater firmly believes we should eat things from our communities.

“The pleasure I get from picking fresh ingredients in the garden is unrivalled, and the encouragement I get from the success stories is wonderful.”

“What’s the point of eating asparagus from Spain when the farm down the road is growing it? By supporting our communities we help employment and cut down on air miles – and, most importantly, it just feels right.”

With sales of readymade meals still rising and our lives getting busier all the time, though, aren’t we actually getting worse at cooking as a nation? Slater thinks not.

Although I make my living out of food, it’s still essentially home cooking. All I do really is pass on good ideas.

Perhaps surprisingly, it was only 10 years ago that he discovered he could actually grow his own food. Until then, he admits, there was always a feeling of “Well, it’s not going to work”. More than ever in recent years, though, the food in his garden has brought home to him the importance of eating seasonally. “If I eat a strawberry in February it just feels wrong. The sky isn’t the right blue, the weather just isn’t right. “But if I pick something from my own garden I know I’m eating it when it should be eaten. It’s about eating the right food at the right time.”

“Yes, the sales of ready-meals continue to do well, but we’re also seeing people returning to the home baking that their mums and grans traditionally did. “I think we’re realising we don’t have to do everything ourselves either and that it’s okay to have both home-grown and readymade food in our lives.” “But more and more people are choosing to swap dinnerparty-type meals that are designed to impress for simple home cooking that’s tasty and genuine.” For a man whose ‘Desert Island Dish’ is simple lamb cutlets, grilled until they’re almost burnt, with a bone he can chew on after all the meat is gone, that thought must be the very definition of comfort food. Nigel Slater is currently filming the second series of Simple Cooking, which is due to air on BBC One in autumn 2012.

Congratulations! Well done to Jill Booth for winning a case of sparkling English wine worth £65, courtesy of Denbies Vineyards. Thanks to everyone else who entered; keep reading Friendscene every month for more chances to win other prizes.


Food & drink

Salmon, spinach and lemon salad Nigel Slater There is no fish I can think of that doesn’t work with spinach. But where creamed spinach seems perfectly fine with a steak of halibut or haddock, the richer, oily fish such as salmon are more appropriately matched to the leaves in a simpler state. A mouthful of lemon salad, at once breathtakingly sharp, is more than at home on the same fork as a piece of salmon or a bunch of meltingly soft spinach. Bring all three together and you have a dish of extraordinary vitality. Nigel

Serves two Ingredients salmon – a 225–250g piece of fish per person olive oil spinach – 500g

For the salad lemons – 2 caster sugar – 2 teaspoons olive oil – 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley – a small bunch capers – a heaped tablespoon

Method Brush the salmon on both sides with olive oil, then season with salt. Get a non-stick frying pan hot, then place the fish skin-side down in the pan. Leave, at a moderate heat, for four or five minutes until the skin has crisped. Turn, cover with a lid and leave for a further five minutes or so, until the fish is lightly cooked through to the centre. Meanwhile, make the salad by cutting away the skin and white pith from the lemons with a sharp knife and slicing the lemons thinly. Put them into a mixing bowl with the sugar, olive oil and a good handful of parsley leaves, left whole. Add the capers and toss the salad gently. Leave for a few minutes, during which time the sharpness of the lemon will mellow a little. Wash the spinach thoroughly, then steam in a lidded pan for a minute or two till tender. Drain. Put the lemon salad and the spinach on warm plates and slide on the salmon. Recipe property of Nigel Slater, from his book Tender: Volume One - A Cook and His Vegetable Patch. Visit www.nigelslater.com/books.asp for more information on Nigel’s work. All rights reserved. Photos copyright Jonathan Lovekin


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Around Britain “These days we take ‘staycations’ in the UK to keep costs down. But wherever we go there are always Oddfellows events to entertain us.” Lesley - South Yorkshire

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Windsor In the month of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, we pay a visit to the Thames side town that’s home to one of her most famous official residences.

King of the castle The biggest draw is, of course, Windsor Castle. Built by William the Conqueror after his 1066 victory in the Battle of Hastings, it is the largest and longest occupied castle in Europe. Extended and redesigned during the centuries since, the castle today dates back to the time of Charles II and the restoration. It was extensively refurbished after a fire destroyed over 100 rooms in 1992 and remains The Queen’s preferred weekend home.

A place in history There’s much more to Windsor than meets the eye, it’s well worth a visit.” (Lynn Harrison, Branch Secretary for Reading District)

To sum it up in one sentence…

The castle has played an important role in British political history. During the 13th Century it was besieged but successfully defended during the revolt of English Barons. It was used as a Parliamentarian base during the English Civil War and today it hosts visits from foreign Heads of State.

On the town Windsor itself benefits from more than one million tourists who visit the town each year. Legoland, the Royal Windsor Wheel and the River Thames boat tours are just some of the attractions on offer.

Famous neighbours •

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE was born here

Michael Caine (actor) lived here during the ‘60s and ‘70s

Margaret Oliphant (19th Century author, pictured above)


Around Britain On the ground: our members from Reading

Lynn Harrison, District Secretary for Reading since January, talks about the exciting summer of events planned in the Thames Valley region. The great thing about being in this area is that wherever you are, you’re only ever 15 minutes away from the beautiful countryside of Berkshire, Hampshire or Oxfordshire. Reading has the Madejski Stadium, home to Reading FC and London Irish rugby club, and the famous racecourses at Ascot, Windsor and Newbury. And London is only 40 miles away, or half an hour by train. The District celebrated its 150 year anniversary in 2011 and members have been meeting at their current venue, the Oddfellows Hall in the centre of Reading, since 1964. The District hosts an annual dinner dance and an inter-lodge quiz which is always extremely popular, as well as charity bowls, golf days and outings.

Vital statistics • • •

Established in 1861 The District now has more than 2,400 members Today the District covers Reading, Henley, Maidenhead and Wokingham, as well as Bracknell, Basingstoke and Newbury. For further details contact Lynn on 0118 9573354 or email lynn.harrison@oddfellows.co.uk.

Our Royal Berkshire Branch hosts an evening at Windsor races where they sponsor a race, and the District also jointly sponsors the annual Reading Sports Awards. I’d been secretary of one of the District’s financial branches for five years before becoming District Secretary, so it was easy to get stuck in and soon feel at home. The warm and friendly welcome was the thing that struck me the most, I love the place and I love the people. I didn’t come from a family with an Oddfellows background when I became a member 12 years ago but the people here are just so lovely and they’ll extend the hand of friendship to anyone.

Cheque presentation at the Royal Berkshire Hospital (left) Retirement dinner for Pam Newman (above)


Around Britain

Events being organised by the District Tuesday 3 July – 7.30pm onwards Strawberries and cream evening This evening of summer delights is being hosted by members from Reading Abbey Lodge and is open to all. Come along to Oddfellows Hall in Reading to find out more about the Society over some luscious summer fruit. Cost: Free – complimentary refreshments Address: Oddfellows Hall, 118b Oxford Road, Reading, RG1 7NQ For more details contact Valerie Philips on 0118 926 5195.

Tuesday 24 July – 7pm onwards Skittles Evening Annual Skittles Evening at the Stag and Hounds Pub near Maidenhead. Come and join members of the Jubilee Lodge for a fun evening that’s open to all. Cost: £9pp (price includes buffet supper) Address: Stag and Hounds pub, Lee Lane, Pinkneys Green, Maidenhead, Berkshire For more details contact Debbie Jex on 0118 969 8571.

Monday 20 August – 5pm onwards An evening at Windsor Racecourse Join us for a fun evening at the races, Windsor. One of Reading District’s Financial Lodges, the Royal Berkshire Branch, will be continuing its annual sponsorship of one of the evening’s races. Guests will get a private suite overlooking the finishing line and a cash bar, all for an exclusive ticket price. Coach transport will be provided from Reading and free parking is available at the racecourse.

If you would like to attend any of these events, please contact Lynn Harrison on 0118 957 3354, or email lynn.harrison@oddfellows.co.uk.

Cost: Two tickets for £20 (saving £28). Optional coach £10 (return fare). Address: Windsor Racecourse, Maidenhead Road, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 5JJ.


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Active Travel “I went to Austria with the Oddfellows last summer. Everything was taken care of – the only thing I had to worry about was making sure to enjoy myself.” Paula - Manchester

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2013 summer holiday

Group holiday to Lake Como (Italy) Wednesday 24 – 28 April 2013 (4 nights) Join us for a relaxing and picturesque trip to Lake Como, one of Italy’s most popular holiday destinations. This fantastic foreign holiday includes return flights from East Midlands to Bergamo, transfers to and from Lake Como and four nights all-inclusive accommodation in the three-star Britannia Excelsior Hotel in Cadanabbia. Cost: £369pp (exclusive price to Active Travel Club members) Single supplement: £10pp per night Deposit: £100 to be paid by 1 November 2012

Optional excursions Trip to Lake Lugano in Switzerland and Lake Maggoire in Italy (full day) – £35

Lake cruise and wine tasting (half day) – £28

For more details contact Lesley at LJ Leisure by calling 01709 837353 and quoting ‘Oddfellows trip’


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Home & garden “Sorting out the garden is how I like to relax. An expert gave a talk at my local Oddfellows branch – it helped me no end.” Christine - Derbyshire

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Out of Africa, into your home Fashion student turned textile designer Sarah Baker has brought the culture of a decade spent in Africa to her exclusive fabric collections. Here she tells us how her business is moving forwards and heading for the bright lights of London. After spending the early part of my career working in the London’s fashion industry, some years ago I had the opportunity to go to live and work in Zambia. It was a far cry from Harrods of Knightsbridge and the other companies I was used to. But I quickly began embroidering motifs inspired by the flora and fauna of Africa onto jackets and waistcoats. Before long I was designing and manufacturing a ready to wear collection of clothes for women in linen, silk and suede. Fast forward to 2006 and back in the UK, Baker & Gray was born. The company makes embroidered fabric collections in a traditional English 'country house' style with an African twist. The collections include cushions, lampshades, bespoke fabric collections for curtains and walls, as well as a range of period English and French decorative furniture. After exhibiting at London’s Decorex design fair, Baker & Gray opened its first retail outlet in Warminster four years ago. They now supply interior designers and other retail outlets in the UK. In order to expand further and to create a base for international customers, my immediate plans are to move the business to London. It’s always been my intention to expand and the last of my four children is about to leave home for University, giving me an exciting opportunity at this stage of my life. These are challenging times for retail and manufacturing, of that there’s no doubt, but if you have a unique product and good customer service, the customers will come. So whatever your age, if you have a vision and a passion then the sky can be the limit. Visit www.bakergray.com for more details.

Win an embroidered cushion worth £50! To enter, simply sign someone up to receive Friendscene. Email subscribe@oddfellows.co.uk with the email address of your friend or family member by Sunday 1 July and you’ll both be entered into the prize draw. Good luck! Competition terms and conditions 1) Please ensure you get the permission of the person you are nominating to subscribe to Friendscene before you submit their details. Only once we have received confirmation of their willingness to subscribe will you both be entered into the prize draw. 2) Only one entry allowed per applicant (aged 18 or over). 3) The deadline for entries is before Sunday 1 July – any entries received after this time will not be counted. 4) The winning entries will be chosen at random from all entries and notified within three weeks. 5) This prize cannot be exchanged for another option. 6) The Oddfellows reserves the right to change the details of this competition without prior notice. The prize submitted by Baker and Gray may be subject to change, up to the value indicated above. Final decision for this rests with Baker and Gray. For further details please contact ezine@oddfellows.co.uk.


Home & Garden

Ask George

Is your garden giving you grief? Well, fear not, help is at hand. George Hill is here to answer your gardening problems. And if we publish your question in next month’s edition we’ll send you a fantastic gardening kit absolutely free! This includes one brand new pair of dazzling gardening gloves and ten packs of assorted seeds to get you started. All thanks to Joe’s Garden and Suttons Seeds. Email ezine@oddfellows.co.uk today. Q: “How do I make a good compost heap?” Martin, Derbyshire A: If you can get your hands on four wooden pallets and tie them together, these will work well as the four sides of your compost heap. When stood on its end, a pallet will let just enough air through for the compost to breathe. Take some garden waste – old vegetation, leaves and the like – and put it at the bottom of your compost heat. On top of that add some grass cuttings and weeds, and then any food waste from your kitchen. Repeat this in the same order, and then after two months fork it over well. Continue repeating this process until the autumn and by next spring it will be ready to be dug into any soil that you want to improve.

Q: “I’ve recently bought some fresh herbs from the supermarket. What’s the best way to keep them alive?” Dawn, Lincoln A: A shaded spot in a cold greenhouse is the ideal place to keep them. Or if you don’t have a greenhouse then a windowsill on the west side of the house is just as good. Keep them out of direct sunlight and keep them moist. Do not water them too much but don’t let them dry out either. Don’t let any of them go to flower; this takes a lot of nutrients and energy out of the plants and is detrimental to them. The only exception is coriander, as some people like to use the seeds in cooking.

Top tip If you notice your compost heap getting dry, add 3 litres of water to get things moving again. (Continued on the next page...)


Home & Garden

George’s focus: June

June is the time of year when all the flowering plants are budding up and showing signs of flower. The Iris comes into its own this month; it’s a plant that lies dormant throughout the winter and then all of a sudden it arrives with a flamboyant flourish. Important jobs this month Give your roses a feed this month and spray them to help prevent greenfly and aphids causing problems. As they come into flower this month, roses are one of the best things about June. Keep your kidney beans and French beans growing well. Check your potatoes and add some extra top soil – this helps to prevent any potatoes being exposed to the sun and going green. Keep your strawberries well watered, don’t let them dry out now that they’re starting to form fruit. And try adding a little bit of feed too for nice juicy fruits next month. Don’t forget to hoe regularly throughout the garden to keep the weeds away.

Pond life If you need to tidy up your pond, don’t disturb too much all at once. Remove any dead foliage around the water’s edge as well as any scum, dead leaves and algae that’s formed on the surface of the water. If you’ve got fish, try to make sure that the water is circulating properly. Add plenty of oxygenating plants nearby so they can thrive. Pest control The easiest way to keep slugs away is to use slug pellets. But I’ve got three dogs and pets don’t go well with slug pellets, so try and keep the pellets hidden under a tile. This also keeps the rain off and makes them last longer.

What to sow right now • spring onions • lettuce • late beetroot • cauliflower • biannual flowers.

If you’ve got an open fire, try sprinkling some of the soot around your plants. This deters slugs throughout the year.

Members with green fingers Suttons is an internationally renowned supplier of flower and vegetable seeds, young plants, bulbs, fruit bushes and other horticultural products to amateur gardeners. Members are eligible to receive a 10% discount on anything at www.suttons.co.uk, from seeds and bulbs to gardening equipment and greenhouses. To take advantage of your exclusive Oddfellows 10% discount click here*. *You will need to be signed in as a member to access the Members' Benefits page.


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Sport & leisure “I’ve never really been ‘sporty’, but I try to keep fit. My local Oddfellows branch now hosts a walking club. It’s great to get some fresh air, and we always have a good time.” Diana - Essex

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Oddfellows Olympic torchbearer’s flame burns twice as bright

As the Olympic flame makes its way around the UK before this summer’s Games in London, for most of us having the chance to carry it is something we only dream about. But for George Phillips, a member of Plymouth & Truro’s Oddfellows District and one of the 2012 torchbearers, the honour brings back good memories. For the 87 year old recently carried the flame for a second time, 64 years after he first carried it.

He’d been nominated by staff at his former school, St Boniface’s College, to represent the school for the torch relay from London to Torquay and Torbay where the sailing events would take place. During his school years George had been one of Devon’s best long distance runners and an avid rugby player so he was an obvious choice. His route took him down Holden Hill, near Exeter in Devon to a place called Chudleigh.

Back then he was 24 and already a veteran of the Second World War. He’d seen action in the North Atlantic serving with the Royal Navy and also spent time in the Far East after the war helping the destroyed Japanese city of Hiroshima.

As George recalls, the relay was a simpler affair back then. “I had to make my own way there and bring all my own kit. They would just pay for my bus fare home afterwards.

So on return to his home town of Plymouth, he was surprised to discover he’d been chosen as a torchbearer for London’s 1948 Games – now remembered as the ‘austerity Olympics’.

“The torch itself was heavy and I remember feeling lucky to be running down the hill, unlike the chap who I’d be passing the flame to.”


Sport & leisure And according to George the torches in 1948 were lit using the incendiary from old German bombs, causing a degree of fear in the runners. “The flame seemed to burn at least a foot high above my head. There were moments when I thought I might actually singe my hair.” But despite the risks, it’s remained one of George’s proudest moments and his younger daughter Kim, 53, didn’t hesitate to nominate him again for this year’s relay. His elder daughter Janette, 57, said: “carrying the torch in ’48 was something Dad’s always been proud of; whenever he talks about it his eyes just light up.

The torch was heavy and I remember feeling lucky to be running down the hill, unlike the chap who I’d be passing the flame to.

“So we put his name forward this time and he was chosen by Samsung as one of their sponsored runners. This means that the torch – which would have cost him £200 to buy afterwards – has been bought for him to keep.” Before every Olympic Games, the flame is lit using the sun’s rays in a ceremony on the site of the ancient Olympics in Olympia in Greece. It then travels through Greece before being transported to the host nation. According to the London 2012 organisers, this year’s torch relay will involve 8,000 inspirational torchbearers like George who will transport the flame through more than 1,000 UK towns and cities during the 70-day relay.

George with the 1948 Olympic torch The flame will have travelled more than 8,000 miles by the time the final torchbearer – whose identity remains a secret – lights the flame in the Olympic Stadium on July 27 to officially open the games. George completed his leg of the journey in a wheelchair due to recent ill health. His section of the relay stretched from Cumberland Road to Union Street in Plymouth after which he went onto a nearby hotel for an official torch presentation. Friends, well wishers and three generations of his family were there to cheer him on. He’s appeared on national news and in the local press in recent weeks, but George remains characteristically unphased by all the attention. “It’s just nice to be asked. Doing it once was special enough, but twice is quite something. “Most of all I’m pleased that the family will have these two torches to keep for generations to come.”

You can follow the torch’s progress as it travels around the UK by visiting www.bbc.co.uk/torchrelay.

George makes his way with the London 2012 torch

Images courtesy of www.zooming-feet.com and George Phillips


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Discoveries “I’ve promised myself I’ll try new things, and I can do that thanks to the Oddfellows. My friends never thought I’d try paragliding, but it was of the best things I’ve ever done!” Karen - Nottingham

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Cutting edge news from the world around us Prosthetic retinas; seeing will be believing A new medical treatment could one day bring new hope to people suffering from age-related blindness. Researchers at Glasgow’s Strathclyde University are developing a new type of prosthetic retina designed to tackle age-related macular degeneration (AMD). By using electrical signals to stimulate neurons in the affected retina, researchers hope to use video goggles to deliver images directly into the eye. It’s hoped that this new technology will reduce the need for complex and invasive surgery that comes with current treatments. AMD affects one in 500 people aged between 55 – 64 and one in eight aged over 85. With the population getting older each year, treatments like this could eventually bring greater quality of life to millions.

Underwater turbines turn the tide

Did you know?

Tests on a giant experimental subsea turbine have paved the way for a new generation of clean energy production.

The Oddfellows has its own YouTube channel with so far 70 videos online, which have had over 4,000 views. They show what our members have been getting up to around the UK and beyond.

The 100-ft-high device has been generating up to 1 megawatt (MW) of electricity off the shores of Orkney in the North of Scotland since it was installed in December last year. The new technology could help the UK meet its carbon reduction targets. Engineers are now drawing up plans for more turbines nearby.

Visit www.youtube.com/oddfellows to find out more.


Discoveries Through the lens

Photography competition Last month we launched a brand new monthly photography competition giving you the chance to get your best photos in a future edition. The theme was ‘In Bloom’ and the winner was William Eyre from Dronfield, for his photo – ‘Two tulips in love’. Congratulations, William, on winning £50 of Jessops vouchers. Thank you to everyone who entered, your photos will be posted on our Facebook page this month for people around the world to enjoy. We’ll be setting a different theme each month. This month’s theme is ‘summer’; so get outside with your camera and show us all of your favourite things from the holiday season through your photos. And if we choose your photo to appear in the next edition, you’ll win £50 of Jessops vouchers to spend in-store. So go and get snapping now. You can enter by emailing your photo to ezine@oddfellows.co.uk, posting it on our Facebook wall or sending it in a tweet that mentions @oddfellowsUK. Click on the links below to visit our social media sites. Terms and conditions 1) Entries can be submitted at any time and still be included in this competition. However the cut off date for each edition will be the first day of the month. For example, this month’s competition closes on 1 July. 2) If successful, you will be contacted by the Oddfellows to arrange delivery of your prize. 3) If your photograph contains an image of a person, building or private location please ensure you get permission from the person/building owner before submitting your entry. 4) By submitting a photograph to this competition you are confirming that you have given permission to use and reproduce this image and that the Oddfellows can use this photo in future publications and marketing material, both online and printed. 5) The Oddfellows will assume your consent has been given once your entry is submitted unless you directly state otherwise.


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Health & wellbeing “The Oddfellows give so much. I wish more people knew about the great services they have to offer.” Paul - London

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Why our attitude towards pensions is no laughing matter Guest piece by James Devlin, Professor of Financial Decision-Making at Nottingham University Business School

Have you heard the one about the boiling frog? It’s not a joke, actually. It’s an anecdote – one commonly used to explain a certain psychological phenomenon. The story goes that a frog placed in cold water that is then gradually heated will fail to appreciate the danger and so be slowly boiled alive. On the other hand, it will instantly jump to safety if placed in water already hot enough to harm it. In the field of experimental economics “frog-boiling” is when decision-makers continuously adjust to a series of incremental changes that if revealed together at once would provoke a significant reaction. It represents the difference between, say, encountering dozens of negative stories about pensions over the course of many years and suddenly being told on your 65th birthday: “You have no money.” This, after all, is for many people one of the tragic ironies of the pensions crisis. They read about it, they hear about it, they can hardly escape it – and yet still they do nothing, as if the drip-drip-drip of warnings and woe is some sort of mild irritation with which they have conditioned themselves to live. They would perhaps think differently if they could fastforward to the devastating denouement of the process.

A new study by the Financial Services Research Forum underlines the extent of this inertia and the urgent need for a change in attitudes. Worryingly, it offers a picture of a population that in large part consists of individuals who are making no meaningful effort towards laying the foundations for a secure and comfortable future. The research, involving a YouGov survey of 2,000 people, reveals the paucity of commitment and the sheer lack of enthusiasm that ruin many people’s attempts to prepare financially for life after work. And this, remember, is at a time of supposed empowerment, when the official consensus is that consumers should assume more responsibility for pension provision. The scale of the problem is clear from the survey’s very first question, which asked respondents whether they agreed with the statement “I put lots of effort into financial planning for retirement”. Only 5% strongly agreed, while a further 20% agreed to some extent. In other words, 75% are failing to put in a lot of effort. Not only that: they know they are failing. They admit it. (Continued on the next page...)


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Similarly, less than 3% agreed with the statement “When making financial plans for retirement I feel excited and energised”. Barely 12% agreed to some extent, while 14% strongly disagreed, 34% disagreed and 37% neither agreed nor disagreed. Just under 50% either strongly or broadly agreed with the statement “When it comes to financial planning for retirement I am committed to the task”. This might appear to offer some grounds for optimism, but we shouldn’t overlook the unfortunate truth that actual levels of provision don’t reflect such confidence. Finally, a mere 7% of those questioned strongly agreed with the statement “I review my financial plans for retirement on a regular basis”. Only another 29% agreed to some measure. This is a far from ideal scenario if, for instance, savers are expected to increase provision levels under the proposed National Employment Savings Trust regime. One unavoidable conclusion is that pension products must be widely perceived as intrinsically uninteresting and uninspiring. This has to be of particular concern when consumers are being urged to assume more control over all elements of their finances. The “nudge” theory – the notion that policymakers don’t have to force people to act in a certain way when they can instead “nudge” them in the right direction – may well prove vital to how we proceed from here.

Auto-enrolment for pension saving, which is due to start in October, is “nudge” on a grand scale, on the one hand aiming to persuade savers to make better provision for retirement and on the other striving to appear less than draconian. As such, it could come to serve as an object lesson in the tremendously fine balance such initiatives will be required to strike. Many pension savers will never be comfortable with certain investment concepts. Others will require significant support and guidance throughout the long-term saving process. So where does one draw the line between empowerment and assistance?

Three quarters of Britons are neglecting to plan for later life, are aware of that neglect and do not feel sufficiently moved to do something about it. That’s a frightening thought.

If we extrapolate the findings to a national level, that means three quarters of Britons are neglecting to plan properly for later life, are aware of that neglect and, all things considered, do not feel sufficiently moved to do something about it. That’s a frightening thought.

This is the challenge policymakers and the finance industry must tackle. Identifying a happy and effective medium won’t be easy – especially when so many consumers obviously find the whole concept of retirement planning confusing, daunting or, most damagingly of all, both.

James Devlin is a Professor of Financial Decision-Making at Nottingham University Business School and Director of its Financial Services Research Forum, which is widely acknowledged as the UK’s most inclusive body for advancing the understanding of financial behaviour and promoting consumer interests.


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Money “When I had money worries the Oddfellows put me in touch with the right people who could help. They were with me every step of the way.” Pam - Cambridgeshire

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Pensions for all ages Since the current financial crisis began nearly five years ago, market dips coupled with rising life expectancies have continued to put pressure on our pension pots. People approaching retirement may be concerned about how to prevent their hard-earned savings being eroded. While many younger people have yet to set up a pension and are looking for practical ways to save for tomorrow while still affording to live today. But according to Michelle Gibbs, a Chartered Financial Planner for Helm Godfrey, there are still plenty of things you can do to protect and prepare your retirement plans despite the current economic challenges: Getting started Even if you can only afford to save £20 per month, the earlier you set up a pension the better. It might not seem like much, and the temptation can be to spend that money now, but all those contributions built up over time make a powerful savings tool. You receive tax relief on all your contributions, so the government boosts your pension savings too. Many companies offer pension schemes that take contributions straight from your monthly salary and your employer may also contribute. These are an excellent way to get started. Saving with a family During your thirties and forties, the amount of savings you can put into a pension may come down to affordability. Pensions are a great savings vehicle because the pot grows largely tax free, but once you’ve paid in you can’t touch that money until you retire. And there can be lots of other demands on your money.

It’s a tough balancing act, and I’d recommend speaking to an independent financial adviser to make sure you’re getting that balance right for your own circumstances.

If your children have left home, you could start making larger pension contributions now to boost your savings in a tax efficient way. And grandparents can save up to £3,600 each year into a pension for each child which benefits from basic rate tax relief.

Pension age approaching For people in their fifties and sixties, the time horizon changes and the parameters for investment is a lot shorter. You might want to start to move your investments away from equity funds now to reduce your exposure to economic dips that could reduce your pension pot.

And if you’ve been contributing to a pension scheme for a while, you could look at diversifying the investments within your pension portfolio by moving money into a self-invested personal pension (SIPP).

There’s lots of uncertainty out there that looks set to remain for a while. Make sure you take control of your money, stay informed and seek advice where you think you need it.

There’s lots of uncertainty out there that looks set to remain for a while. Make sure you take control of your money, stay informed and seek advice where you think you need it.

Helm Godfrey is one of the leading firms of financial advisers in the UK. Its success has been built on putting its clients’ well-being at the centre of its advice. www.helmgodfrey.com


eZine June 2012