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Fens Issue 11 | April 2017

A FREE lifestyle magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens

Easter activities round-up



EXCLUSIVE Interviewing watercolour painter Derek Massey A look at Bitterns in the Fens and much more History | Food | Home & garden | Nature | What’s on | Places visit | Reviews Theto Fens | April 2017 1

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Ed’s letter

This month I am writing my column after a very ‘fresh’ run out on the flat Fens landscape. Before you think how saintly I am for exercising, I have to make an admission. My run is entirely for selfish reasons because THE FENS have partnered up with the Perkins Great Eastern Run in October, and as such, I felt it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t sign myself up. Despite my running background, I haven’t ever ventured further than six miles from my home. And after a nasty fall a few months ago, I haven’t done much training or running for quite a while. That said, I’m really excited about this challenge - and yes it will be a really tricky challenge. Finding time to train will ultimately be my most difficult task, but I hope to bring you tips on how I manage my time, as well as keep you updated with my progress. And for a more amusing take on the challenge, I have also enrolled columnist Joe Ferridge to join me! Challenges seem to be the theme of this issue - as team FENS were invited down to Escape Peterborough this month. Testing our teamworking skills and ability to solve puzzles, the guys put us through our paces. See how we got on further in the magazine. Of course April also means end of term and Easter for our children. So we’ve put together a piece on activities to entertain youngsters, as well as a great craft activity suitable for all ages. Enjoy the read!


This month 7 The Mayor’s Ball - in pictures

18 Boom time for Bitterns

8 Ramsey Heritage day

19 Looking after guinea pigs

9 Raising money for heart screening

24 Interviewing Derek Massey, the Fenland Watercolourist

10 Walk of the month - on the hunt for signs of Spring

26 Recipe of the month

13-16 Home and garden including garden jobs for April and creating a room outside in Partnership with


Fens Issue 11 | April 2017

A FREE lifestyle magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens

Easter activities round-up


30 Find out about the US planes which crashed during WWII 36 Easter activities round-up 40 Down on the farm at Johnsons of Old Hurst 44 Independent business of the month - Vesuvio



EXCLUSIVE Interviewing watercolour painter Derek Massey A look at Bitterns in the Fens and much more History | Food | Home & garden | Nature | What’s on | Places visit | Reviews Theto Fens | April 2017 1

46 Learn how to make Spring flowers

THE TEAM PUBLISHER / EDITOR Natasha Shiels EDITORIAL/SALES ASSISTANT Amy Corney SUB EDITOR Valerie Matthews/Theresa Shiels PHOTOGRAPHY Chris Brudenell ADVERTISING SALES 01733 202049 | 07927 192854 Becky Daines ACCOUNTS 01733 202049 SUBSCRIPTIONS To subscribe for just £12 for 6 issues, contact us at CONTRIBUTORS Simon Parr-Black | Joe Ferridge | Eamonn Dorling | John McGinn | Westfield Nurseries | Anthony Austin | Mayur and Ubhi Mistry | SG Computing | Eva Jordan | Leanne Hyland | Robert Bull | Whittlesey Veterinary Centre | Caroline Fitton DISTRIBUTION 8,400 copies printed monthly. Delivered to Whittlesey, Eastrea, Coates, Turves, Pondersbridge, Benwick, plus copies in March and Wisbech @thefensmag thefensmag

Issue 11 | April 2017

Front cover - Cookie (the rabbit) by Chris Brudenell

THE FENS is published by Barley Media Limited. Care is taken to ensure that the content and information is correct, however we cannot take any responsibility for loss, damage or omission caused by any errors. Permission must be granted to reproduce, copy or scan anything from this publication. For a copy of our contributors’ guidelines please email Barley Media Limited accepts no liability for products and services offered by third parties.

The Fens | April 2017


This month



IT’S EASTER! SUNDAY, APRIL 16TH Not a chocolate fan? Hot cross buns are also a traditional snack for this time of year.

Every year over 80 million boxed chocolate shell eggs are sold!

The buns mark the end of Lent and different parts of the hot cross bun have a certain meaning, including the cross representing the crucifixion of Jesus, and the spices inside signifying the spices used to embalm him at his burial.

Bank Holiday fun

April is not only the month of Easter and therefore end of term, but for us grownups, it also has two bank holidays: Friday 14th April Monday 17th April Now all we need is plenty of sunshine to enjoy those extra days off work!

Aria Court Spring Fete

Free entry April 5th - 2:30-4:30pm Come along to Aria Court’s first ever Spring Fete, and help them raise money for Dementia Care and their activities fund at Aria Court. Lots to do, including an Easter Egg Hunt, Bouncy Castle, Cake Stalls and much more. Aria Court is at Coronation Close, The Avenue, March PE15 9PP


The Fens | April 2017

Who doesn’t love Easter eggs?

Love beer? Charters, Peterborough, Annual Beer Festival kicks off April 13th at 8pm with more than 20 real ales to sample!

END OF TERM IS HERE Find our pick of some fun-packed activities to enjoy this month on page 36 Easter Craft Fayre, Thorpe Hall Sunday 16th - Monday 17th April

Don’t miss an Easter Craft Fayre at Thorpe Hall. NGNPUK will be there to raise awareness of syringe drivers, what they do and why. During the fayre they will be raffling a barrel of booze. If you have any donations, either for the barrel or crafted items to sell on the stall, please get in touch with Louise Nicholls on 07751 141005. All money raised will go towards helping to provide another syringe driver to be used in one of the local communities most in need.


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The Mayor’s Ball in Pictures

The Whittlesey Mayor’s Charity Dinner was held on Saturday 4th March at the New Vision Centre at the Manor. It was a wonderful night, with the county’s Mayors in attendance, great music and high spirits. Cllr Alex Miscandlon, Whittlesey’s Mayor, added: “WOW what a night that was - it was a great success. With the dignitaries wearing their chains and their ladies in their finery, along with support from local people, it was a fabulous evening. “There were around 60 prizes in the raffle, which raised a lot of money for my charities. The prizes were given by a host of local companies, Councillors and members of the public, so a VERY BIG thank you to all the contributors. My personal thanks must go Sue (Town Clerk) and her family, and of course my wife Pat, without whom we would not have had such a great success.” The raffle and auction alone raised in excess of £800 for the chosen charities: Whittlesey Manor Dolphins Swimming Club, Whittlesey Warriors Netball Team and NGNPUK.

Images by RWT Photography and The Studio, Whittlesey

The Fens | April 2017




Enjoy heritage for free! Sunday April 2nd 11am – 5pm Ramsey is just a 15 minute drive from Whittlesey, and is awash with heritage sites to visit! On Sunday April 2nd Ramsey is showcasing its diverse history with an open day where everyone is welcome to visit seven heritage sites for free. Come and visit and take a journey through time from medieval days, when the Abbey flourished, to World War II, where we are celebrating a hero at the 1940s camp. On the way you can experience Ramsey’s Georgian and Victorian heritage as well as 200 years of rural history at the museum. The day runs from 11am until 5pm and a vintage bus, which stops at all the heritage sites, will run every hour from 11am until 4pm. And…it is all FREE! WHAT HAPPENS ON THE DAY? The library on the Great Whyte (PE26 1HG) will have volunteers to set you on your way with maps and information on the sites. It is also the first stop for the vintage bus. You are also free to go to any of the sites open on the day where you’ll find leaflets and volunteers. Take a look at the Ramsey website for details of the sites – SO WHERE CAN YOU VISIT? Thomas a Becket Church, the Abbey Gatehouse, the Lady Chapel and Abbey House, Booth’s Hill (ice house), the Walled Kitchen Garden, the Mortuary Chapels, Ramsey Rural Museum and the 1940s Camp are all opening their doors. You can hop on and off the vintage bus at any of these stops. You can see a photographic exhibition of all of the memorials and headstones uncovered over the past year in the unique Victorian Mortuary Chapels; you can also take a peak at the magnificent new glasshouse at the Walled Garden, plus enjoy the food and craft fair at the Ramsey Rural Museum. SPITFIRE FILM – THE STORY OF A HERO At the 1940s camp they will be showing the film, the “Great Fen Spitfire Excavation”, which took place last year. The award winning film features eye witness accounts and shows the incredible story of the recovery of the wreckage. This is a moving tribute to those who should not be forgotten shown in a fitting historic location. SOMETHING FOR ALL AGES For the young, and not so young, there will be Ramsey rams hiding in all our heritage sites and, of course, there’ll be prizes for those who can find them all. The new club house at the Old Nene Golf and Country Club will be offering some medieval themed family fun on the day too and you can complete your “Journey through Time” with a look round Ramsey’s newest tourist attraction. Amy Brown, of the Old Nene added: “I am looking forward to welcoming visitors on this special heritage Sunday, and I hope they’ll enjoy our facilities here as they take a pit stop on what looks like a really good Ramsey day out!” PARKING AND REFRESHMENTS There’s free parking in Ramsey town centre as well as at the Rural Museum and the 1940s Camp in Wood Lane. Food is available at the Rural Museum, the Old Nene Country Club 8

The Fens | April 2017

and several pubs in the town centre as well as some tea and cake at the Library. VISIT RAMSEY AT ANY TIME Our heritage sites and pretty Church Greens often take visitors by surprise as they venture in to our small market town, so if you can’t make April 2nd, do take a look at the website and come and visit another day – a warm welcome will be yours! FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT Ann Cuthbert, Promotions Officer, Promoting Ramsey 07762 710257

SLEEPING BEAUTY PANTO AT THE KEY THEATRE Plans are already underway to write, create, rehearse and deliver the well regarded pantomime at Vivacity's Key Theatre. This year we will see the famous tale of Sleeping Beauty hit the stage. This year's Panto will be filled with some of the UK's most talented actor musicians, where the onstage cast are also the 10 piece swing band. Sleeping Beauty promises a foot tapping, swinging style of comedy that has proved popular in the past. The journey starts from Thursday 7 December – Sunday 7 January. Excellent discounts are available throughout the run, so now is your chance to beat the crowd and get the best seats before they sell out! Beat the box office rush and call the Key Theatre now on 01733 207239 or visit www.vivacity-peterborough. com/panto to book your tickets early.

WHITTLESEY LIONS GOLF DAY, APRIL 12TH Whittlesey & District Lions Club will be holding their annual Golf Day at Ramsey Golf and Bowls Club on Wednesday 12th April. The President’s chosen charity this year is NPNGUK - and the group aim to raise enough money to purchase a syringe driver for use in the community. Golfers will enjoy breakfast, 18 holes of golf and dinner at the Clubhouse for £140 per team of four. First tee time is 10.00am. If you would like to enter a team please contact Lynn Palmer on 01733 351405 or at

SUDBURY COURT LOOKING FOR PRIZES Over the Easter Weekend Sudbury Court are holding various fundraising events to hopefully provide a defibrillator to be situated at Sudbury Court for use by the residents and surrounding areas. Any donations for prizes for Easter Raffle would be gratefully received. If you can help, please get in touch with Brian on 07956 073780, or drop off at 55 Sudbury Court, Whittlesey PE7 1RY.


Friday 19th May, 7:30pm – Childers A charity music night is being hosted in aid of Defibrillators For All and NGNPUK, both great local charities. This will be a ticket event costing £10 each. Performing on the night will be Holly and the Boatmen, Dave Smith (from Austin Gold) and Anthony Shiels (from The Candle Thieves) will be performing a Beatles medley. Also Whittlesey Motown legend Terry Grant will be doing a 60s, 70s and Motown mix to finish the night off. Tickets for the event are available from Colin Martin on 07751 602966 and includes a light buffet.


From the heart Defibrillators For All are looking to raise £10,000 in the next few months to screen youngsters in Whittlesey

“We need to raise £10,000 in the next few months, and we need people to pull together and help us to do this,” explained Deborah Slator, from Defibrillators For All. “If it could save even one young person’s life, it will be worth it.”   To date, Defibrillators For All has focused on providing public access defibrillators (PADS) for the town. Whittlesey now has over 50 PADS (no other town in the country has as many per head of the population), and so the focus is now on the young people in the community, to ensure the town is as heart safe as possible. According to associate medical director at BHF, Dr. Mike Knapton, “Every year 30,000 people in the UK have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, but the survival rate is less than 1 in 10.” In order to tackle this, Defibrillators For All have booked the screening charity CRY (, on the 2nd and 3rd of June. The two days booked means 200 young people between the ages of 14 and 35 will be screened, and possibly detected with an undiagnosed heart condition.   Screening will identify most cardiac abnormalities. Approximately 12 to 19 young people die suddenly EACH WEEK in the UK of previously undetected heart problems. The simple way to diagnose most cardiac abnormalities is by having an ECG (electrocardiogram) test. Small stickers known as electrodes are placed on the chest and the wires connect to an ECG machine.   For extra clarity, an Echocardiogram can also be done, a print-out of the heart’s electrical activity is then evaluated by a cardiologist.   “Social media has been an incredible tool for us to spread the word within the community about Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA),” added Deborah, “and now with more people aware that this could affect their own families, we need them to understand they can help us to prevent these tragedies from happening. We believe that with their support, we can make a massive difference. There are lots of ways you can help - from giving a donation, attending one of the organised events, to holding your own activity such as a cake sale. If you think you can help, you can contact Deborah Slator on or visit CHILDREN’S EASTER EGG HUNT AND FAMILY DISCO Defibrillators For All are holding a Children’s Easter Egg Hunt plus Family Disco on April 14th between 7pm and 10:30pm at the Ivy Leaf Club in Whittlesey. Join in the fun, wear your best Easter bonnet and help the guys raise some funds for the heart screening at the same time. Tickets are £2.50 for children and just £1 for adults. These are available from Mandy Wilson, Lorraine Daniels or Deborah Slator, or you can contact the organisers on Facebook.

The Fens | April 2017


Walk of the month


Spring With spring finally here, Leanne Hyland goes in search of some signs of it in the Fens

Daffodils are a classic sign of spring Crocuses are bee magnets in early spring, Holme Village Recent casualties of Storm Doris It’s early March and I’m on a hunt to find the first hints of spring in Fenland. Today I’ll be taking a whistle stop tour of just a few key sites across our region, stopping off at ancient woodlands, historic villages, country parks and scenic nature reserves to track down the first green shoots of the season. While it’s still no more than a chilly few degrees outside, already the evenings are getting longer, there’s a subtle change in the light and the sun’s rays have brought tiny bursts of colour back to the Fens.

Monks Wood

My first stop is Monks Wood, one of Britain’s most important lowland woodlands known for its herb rich grasses and trickling streams. I follow a long hedged alley from the road, 10 The Fens | April 2017

entering the reserve through a hefty wooden gate and look around. The earth is springy underfoot and the air is heavy with damp from last night’s downpour. Battered and broken branches lay strewn across the footpath, recent casualties of Storm Doris which beat the Fens with the strongest winds felt in this area for over a decade. At the forked crossroads I choose to follow the ‘Bluebell Trail’ which in just a few short weeks will play home to a sea of tiny blue tinged buds as they creep up from the forest floor after a long winter snooze. I pass oak, ash and field maple trees and despite the recent damage to their treetop homes, the locals clearly aren’t deterred. All around me the trees are alive with birdsong, and this will only

Spring flowers If you are out and about this month in the countryside, keep an eye out for these local plants...

Sloe berries grow on Blackthorn shrubs late in the year, and are often used to flavour gin get louder as the weeks pass. For our tiny winged friends, spring is the perfect season to attract a mate, with migrating birds returning to the UK to breed following a winter spent in warmer climes. The route leads me deeper into the reserve. Catkins hang off low branches and although the trees are a long way from springing back into life, on the forest floor sprouts of green shoot up, timidly reaching out from the undergrowth. Bright swathes of thick, crunchy grass line the path’s edge and I cross a tiny wooden bridge atop a forest stream, stopping to listen as the water trickles beneath my feet. At the reserve’s far edge I’m treated to sweeping views of agricultural land, and beyond farm buildings dotted on the horizon. But I’m still yet to find what I’ve been secretly hoping for - snowdrops.

Holme Fen

In the tiny Fen village of Holme, brightly coloured crocuses peer up from the village green. Holme is a gateway to perhaps one of the most ambitious restoration projects ever undertaken in this region, a 50 year endeavour to create a huge wetland area, restoring the Fen landscape. Holme Fen is just one part of the Great Fen project and home to an impressive silver birch woodland. It also happens to mark the lowest land point in Great Britain. A muntjac deer startles me as it

dashes through the undergrowth just a metre or two away as I wander beneath towering birches, careful not to stumble into freshly dug animal holes - a sure sign that spring is on its way. It doesn’t take me long to spot a patch of delicate white bell shaped buds spreading out amongst the grass. Snowdrops can flower from late January through March, and tend to grow best in a slightly shaded, damp environment - so Holme is perfect. I continue through the forest, clambering over fallen trees and spotting strangely shaped fungi growing between mossy stumps. I stick closely to the edge of a large glassy lake, the water is still, mirroring the reflection of the canopy above.

Bluebell Bluebell flowers are dainty bulbous perennials that provide a profusion of color ranging from deep purple to pinks, whites and blues from April to mid May. Although some confusion may arrive from various English and Latin names, most bluebells are also known as wood hyacinths. Crocus Crocuses are among one of the most popular of the early spring bloomers. Whether you plant them in a stately group or use them to naturalize your lawn, crocuses can add a bit of color to your lawn. With a little crocus flower care, these plants will last a lifetime. Daffodil Daffodils are constantly recurring flowers with at least 50 species and many hybrids. Where climate is moderate, Daffodils flourish among the first spring buds and often bloom in clusters.

Crown Lakes

As the evening draws in and I head closer to home, I stop at a country park on the edge of the Fens known as Crown Lakes. A former clay pit, the park’s central lake is surrounded by newt ponds, wildflower meadows and apple orchards. As I reach the water’s edge, I spot flowering blackthorn shrubs and daffodils. On the boardwalks that make up part of the trail, long rushes lead me to a viewpoint from where I can peer over the vast lake. Mallards and swans drift into view, and in the background, I hear a faint buzzing sound, a bumble bee hovers past - the first I’ve seen this year. Now I’m certain, spring has finally arrived.

SPRING IN THE FENS THE STATS Difficulty Level: Easy Distance: 7 miles Time: 2.5 hours of walking Facilities: Grab a bite at The Admiral Wells, a family-run pub in Holme Village

The Fens | April 2017



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Home & garden

Your garden in April

Spring should be well under way this month with daffodils in full flow, their bright flowers enough to cheer up any dull day. Blossom trees will be blooming and fresh growth will be appearing on plants everywhere. ‘April Showers’ are common but don’t be deceived by sudden bursts of rainfall – you may need to start watering plants more regularly on dry, bright and windy days. With longer days and stronger sunshine growing conditions are continually improving and the warmer weather will give us all the opportunity to get busy in our gardens.

Plant of the Month:

Rhododendron Why should you plant them?

Three Essential Gardening Jobs for April Sow Hardy Annuals

Hardy Annuals are plants that can be sown from seed in the open ground. Get them off to an early start by sowing in pots or modules. Modular trays are also handy for sowing summer bedding plants such as marigolds, lobelia and petunias. Label each seed tray and once they are growing put them outside when the weather is warm day and night.

Support Climbers

Climbing plants should be growing rapidly now, so will need ample support for new growth. Extend or replace trellis as necessary or add more wire to arches and tripods. New shoots will need to be gently encouraged sideways as they grow. This will send vital growth hormones along the length of the shoot rather

than just to the tips and so will encourage flowering all over the plant. The rest of the garden will also be growing well now, so if you have been putting off carrying out any major pruning then now is the time to bite the bullet and get it done. Trees, shrubs and hedges should be cut back now before birds begin to nest.

Care For Your Lawn

Ancient Greek meaning ‘Rose Tree’ the rhododendron family includes azaleas. These stunning shrubs flower in all sorts of vibrant colours and can help to brighten those difficult dark spots in the garden. Rhododendrons are grown for their spectacular flowers usually borne in spring, although some – the deciduous rhododendrons or azaleas – have good autumn colour.

How should you plant them?

In the wild rhododendrons are woodland plants, so they prefer dappled sunshine and can manage well in shade. They like plenty of water, however will not do well in boggy or badly draining soil, so drainage is key. Plant in Autumn or Spring and use ericaceous compost.

The lawn will need regular mowing from now until autumn. Get some maintenance carried out to your lawn mower to ensure it stays in good running order – at the very least your mower blade should be newly sharpened ready for regular use. Keep the edges of the lawn tidy after mowing with a sharp pair of shears or a lawn edger. Don’t forget to give the lawn a spring feed after mowing if you haven’t got round to doing it yet. If a more drastic approach is needed to spruce up your lawn, sowing seed for new lawns or over seeding dead patches can be carried out from mid-April onwards. Enjoy your garden!

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Home & garden

Keep your lawnmower

in top condition throughout the season With the grass cutting season approaching, it’s important to take care of your mower. Here are some top tips to ensure a problem-free summer of mowing...




Fill the mower with fresh fuel as any left in the tank through winter storage may have degraded, making it hard to start the engine.

Wash your mower down, especially after cutting damp grass, as excess wet grass under the deck can be corrosive and cause rust. Do not use a pressure washer as this may cause damage to seals. Always allow the machine to dry before storing away.

Check your lawn for branches, twigs, stones and pets’ toys to avoid any damage to your mower’s blades. Replace the air filter if it has not been changed over winter. A clean air filter prevents dirt, dust and debris from getting into the engine. Brush away dry grass from the exhaust area and from the air filter before starting the engine.

Keep your blades sharp to avoid uneven grass

Regular maintenance is essential to maximise the life of your equipment. Changing oil costs less than £6 for an average engine, therefore it’s well worth the minimal investment. Keep your cutting blades sharp at all times. Damaged or blunt blades

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Home & garden

Your Garden Room Don’t be limited to think your home finishes at the door, Simon Parr-Black explains why there are excellent reasons to embrace the outside space walls, these can of course be painted in a strong vibrant exterior paint painting an unsightly wall black can really help to showcase your planting and flowers, it also absorbs heat from the sun so this can help keep warmth

We British have long had an affection for our gardens, and with the seasons becoming gentler, there is no better time to embrace the outside space and make it part of our home. A great way to do this is to view the garden or terrace of our homes as an additional room. I find that as soon as the weather is warm enough, the doors are opened and I walk from one part of my home to another through my courtyard. There are of course some practical issues that need to be addressed in order to do this effectively. If you have young children or animals, you shall need to ensure that the area is secure and safe. There is no point letting the dogs outside if, when you need to get them in, you find that they have managed to escape and the next few hours are spent frantically searching for them. Likewise, if your youngsters are outside playing, ensure that your gardening tools and any sharp objects are put safely away to minimise any harm they may endure. Planting is also going to be an issue for both animals and youngsters berries can look very pretty in the garden, but if they are poisonous you could find yourself in the emergency 16 The Fens | April 2017

room very quickly! We find that we entertain our friends and family at home more often, and the outside space allows us to be a little more relaxed; spilt drinks, dropped foods etc can often be ignored, in the knowledge that they shall look after themselves. You can find also that a glass that has fallen from the table inadvertently is less likely to break when landing on grass... The vast array of garden furniture has opened up massively, offering not just the table and chairs of years past, but also lounging, shading, heating and lighting. The materials the furniture are manufactured from are quite often capable of withstanding our weather, with the opportunity of washing down at the start of the season, and a wipe down with a damp cloth throughout. The cushions offer water resistant finishes that can be machine washable, and weather in the sun well. From here, we can really start to have some fun. You will find that you no longer have to choose from a basic range of wood tones to paint and protect your fencing and shed - a good range of bright colours are now available. If you have block work

around your beds. You could of course choose a beautiful azure blue if you wanted to be reminded of a more beach like feel... Shading from both the sun and the rain can be erected, either in a sail like arrangement or in something more formal. This can be motorised so that it can be drawn back when you want it, and extended if a shower is passing or if the sun becomes too hot. Lighting within the beds or the terrace can be planned to create an ambient environment. Try incorporating a fire pit for heat, light and the opportunity to cook. Of course a wall or gazebo mounted electric heater could also be incorporated if you preferred. In order to make this all feel connected to, and part of the home, look to extend your colour scheme from the adjoining rooms into your garden, then maybe add in some bright splashes of colour to give vibrancy. My courtyard is not big by any means, but it has seen many parties and I ensure that it is used well into the evening - sometimes even for a spot of Yoga. Whatever it is you want from your outdoor space, make it part of your home, have fun with it - it can be so much more than slabs and grass!



Simon Parr-Black is an interior designer. You can contact him on 01733 688235 or email him at

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It’s boom time for bitterns in the Fens

WORDS DAVID WHITE RSPB Communications Officer in Cambridgeshire and the Fens IMAGE DAVE ROGERS

When March comes around, it is usually noticeable that both the volume and variety of birdsong increases significantly. In gardens and urban areas, the familiar fluty whistle of the blackbird dominates the dawn chorus and the song thrush delivers its loud and wonderfully repetitive song, occasionally mimicking the calls of other species. Out in the Fens, vast areas of wetland used to dominate the landscape, but now only pockets of reed bed remain. Visit one of these pockets and you may hear a bird “song”, which to be honest, doesn’t even sound like a bird! It sounds like 18 The Fens | April 2017

somebody blowing through a bottle. It is the boom of the bittern. Bitterns are members of the heron family. Unlike the familiar grey heron that is often found by dykes and rivers, bitterns are very shy and only live in reed beds. Cryptically camouflaged, bitterns blend so perfectly with the reeds they live in that it takes a keen eye to spot one. The sound however, is a lot harder to miss. Males “boom” to try and attract a mate. This sound has an exceptionally resonant quality and can carry for up to three miles. Beginning in March/April and continuing into mid-June, males

boom throughout the day, but the best time to hear them tends to be at dawn and dusk. There are several reed bed sites in the Fens where you can hear bitterns booming. However, a rather unusual site that houses this elusive bird is Needingworth Quarry, an area owned by Hanson Aggregates for the extraction of sand and gravel. On the face of it, this doesn’t sound like the kind of place that you would find a bittern! However, over the last 15 years and continuing into the future, Hanson is working with the RSPB to transform the quarry into Ouse Fen, which will incorporate Britain’s biggest reed bed. When the Hanson RSPB Wetland Project is finished in around 2030, RSPB Ouse Fen will cover around 2.5 square miles. Despite the fact that the RSPB and Hanson are only half way through the project, RSPB Ouse Fen is already home to 10 booming male bitterns. As there are only around 150 male bitterns in Britain, this is an incredible 7% of Britain’s breeding population. Whilst impressive, we don’t plan to stop there: by the time the project finishes, the aspiration is to at least double the number of booming bitterns on the reserve. If you would like to hear a booming bittern for yourself, then why not come and visit RSPB Ouse Fen this spring? The birds are best heard in mild and still conditions so pick your day wisely. Visit ousefen; or ring 01954 233260 to find out more about the reserve.



Guinea pigs or cavies were originally domesticated by the Andean indians of Peru for food, and also used as sacrifices to Incan Gods. Later, in the 16th Century, the Dutch started breeding them in Europe and started to develop the variety of types we still see today. There are four main types; English or Shorthair with uniform short hair; the Abyssinian with lovely whorls or rosettes; the Peruvian with its long silky hair and the Silky with its medium length silky hair. Guinea pigs are rodents with a 4-8 year lifespan, that will rapidly multiply where there are males and females together. They are quite happy either living alone, in groups of males, or groups of females. If two unrelated males are put together they will fight. They should be housed in a quiet

This issue, Whittlesey Veterinary Centre looks at everything you need to know about looking after guinea pigs

area away from direct sunlight as they are, in fact, nocturnal. In their normal daily life, guinea pigs are very messy and will even defecate in their food and water bowls, so these need to be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly and quite regularly. They are creatures of habit and have quite a sensitive intestinal tract. Their food preferences are established early in life and they do not tolerate sudden changes to their diet. Their diet should include plenty of hay, pellets and pieces of fruit and vegetable daily, along with something to gnaw on. Guinea pigs are one of the few species that cannot manufacture vitamin C in their bodies as they they lack a particular enzyme. When vitamin C is lacking, it gives rise to a condition known as scurvy. Vitamin C is

essential for growth and repair, therefore it has to be provided daily in the diet by feeding particular foods such as lettuce, cabbage, kale, dandelion and broccoli. Good fruits to feed are apples, oranges, strawberries, pears, cantaloupe and water melon and grapes. Hay must be available all of the time, with a variety called Timothy being a good source of fibre. Even though guinea pigs require vitamin C, there are some products that are too high in the vitamin and should be avoided such as Alfalfa. One fruit and vegetable from the above list being required daily, removing any leftovers each day. A good all-round food are guinea pig pellets which are around 16% fibre and 20% protein. When picking a guinea pig, make sure that you use both hands to gently but firmly ‘cup’ around the pet from underneath. Guinea pigs are very wriggly when they want to be and can easily be dropped. They are also front heavy, so will often fall on their noses if dropped. Guinea pigs are lovely little ‘talkative’ creatures that have been the first pet for many a child and even later in life, people keep, breed and show these lovely little cuties.


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Your pet’s our passion The Fens | April 2017




AN ELECTRIC BIKE? This month we’ve explored the latest trend in cycling - powering your ride with an electric bike. We spoke to experts at Rutland Cycling to find out more

“We’ve invested heavily in our e-bike range, and we’ve also added e-bikes to our hire fleet – so for just £19.99, you can come and try out an electric mountain bike or hybrid bike for a couple of hours at our Peterborough store and explore Nene Park.” AWARD WINNING “Having won a number of awards for the quality of our shops and customer service,” Alex added, “we are delighted with the recent news that Rutland Cycling is a finalist in the BikeBiz Awards 2017 as a specialist e-bike retailer, a great achievement for the company.”

The brand new Cannondale Moterra electric mountain bike Cycling has been growing in popularity since London hosted the Olympic Games in 2012, and showcased the incredible talents of the likes of Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton. And now local specialist store, Rutland Cycling on Ham Lane, Orton Meadows, have launched a dedicated Electric Bike department at their Peterborough Store, making cycling accessible to everyone. With over 30 electric bikes now available to buy, demo or hire in store and over 100 e-bikes available online, there’s no shortage of choice whatever your budget or requirements. THE RISE OF THE ELECTRIC BIKE Electric bikes are a common sight in European cities such as Amsterdam and Berlin, providing all the advantages of a regular bike, whilst reducing the strain on the body by giving you an assisted electronic boost. Whether you are using them to ride faster, keep up with friends, help you up hills, improve your time around the woods or get to work, e-bikes are increasingly light, versatile and easy to use. They’re also great if you’re coming back from injury or struggle to ride longer distances, as they can 20 The Fens | April 2017

allow you to cruise with ease and enjoy the pleasure of riding a bike. Alex Woollen, Rutland’s head bike buyer and pictured above, explained: “Here at Rutland Cycling we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to test ride some of the latest models and have seen the benefits of electric bikes first hand. We’re excited about the potential they offer for getting more people out riding bikes more often. E-bikes are a great way to get everyone involved in cycling, and with the broad range of e-bikes now on the market, there are models to suit everyone from commuters and leisure cyclists, through to mountain bikers looking for that extra boost and excitement on the trails.”

Rutland’s electric bike range features all the main brands, including Specialized, SCOTT, Giant, Trek, Cube, Raleigh, Haibike and Electra. Prices start at £899, or you can hire an electric bike for just £19.99. Visit Rutland Cycling’s Peterborough store on Ham Lane, Orton Meadows, or one of their other nine stores located at: Grafham Water, Rutland Water, Fineshade Wood and Cambridge. For more information and to find out more about the E-bike range visit: or telephone 0330 555 0080. Not sure? Why not try a demo day to get a taste of the e-bikes. Rutland Cycling are holding a series of Electric Bike events through May. For more information visit

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THE FOOD YOU We all know someone that has been on a ‘diet’. I often get told by friends and family about strange new ‘fads’ that gain popularity every now and again. Each new diet that crops up gains loyal followers for a while, but when I’m asked about a specific diet, I always respond in the same way, by asking: ‘Can you maintain it forever?’ Inevitably the answer is always ‘no’ and this is a huge problem. Many of you may have had initial success trying a new way of eating, only to find the weight slowly creeping back up, and then even perhaps beyond your original starting point. This is because your body can have any number of short term reactions to a sudden change, but once these changes stop, the positive effects are negated and often reversed. Trying to eat under 1000 calories a day to lose weight for example, is not something that anyone can realistically maintain forever. Mail order or purchased microwave


Action Habit

meals are convenient perhaps, but is that expense and routine going to fit into your dietary schedule permanently?

The word ‘diet’ I’m sure conjures up negative images for many of you, but in its truest form, diet simply means the food you eat. Your diet should be the foundation of everything you begin and end your day with, and believe me, what you consume powers everything about you, head to toe, it’s seriously important. We all need to think in terms of ‘from now on’ in a dietary sense. Is my daily food routine going to help me attain and maintain my ideal weight? Is my diet enjoyable, affordable, available, nutritious and satisfying? To ensure your diet is permanently contributing to good health and a healthy weight, the answer to all of these questions, should be ‘Yes’.

Robert Bull is a boxing coach and self confessed food nerd, currently setting up a digital nutrition advice service. You can contact him on 22 The Fens | April 2017

We all have habits, some good and some bad. Some evoke emotions and feelings whilst others are simply actions. Take for example brushing your teeth and smoking. Brushing your teeth is simply an action which evokes little emotions whilst smoking acts on your emotions directly. Changing any habit is Habits Part 1 – What are they? achievable but those which are emotional habits are harder. In We all article have habits, some good andwhy some bad. evoke emo<ons and feelings whilstaothers are this we explain thatSome is but also describe what habit simply Take for example looksac<ons. like inside of you.brushing your teeth and smoking. Brushing your teeth is simply an ac<on which evokes liEle emo<ons whilst smoking acts on your emo<ons directly. Changing An action habit can be viewed as a performed action in any habit is achievable but those which are emo<onal habits are harder. In this ar<cle we explain response trigger. I brush myofteeth, the action of why that is but to alsoa describe what When a habit looks like inside you. brushing our teeth is triggered by waking up and walking to the An ac<on habit can be viewed as a performed ac<on in response to a trigger. When I brush my bathroom . An emotional habit is also a performed action in teeth, the ac<on of brushing our teeth is triggered by waking up and walking to the bathroom . An response a trigger but thein result performed is emo<onal habitto is also a performed ac<on responseof to athat trigger but the result ofaction that performed ac<on is the release some chemicals in your brain which brain evokes an emo<on.evokes In the casean of the release ofofsome chemicals in your which smoking, stress maybe trigger,of reaching and the act of smoking the ac<on whilst the smoking emotion. In thethecase smoking, stress mayisbe the trigger, the process causes the release of some chemicals which makes the person feel calmer. See figure act of smoking is the action whilst the smoking process causes below for a pictorial representa<on. the release of some chemicals which makes the person feel calmer. See figure below for a pictorial representation.


I have not known many to continue past the short term with ANY kind of diet or see any serious long term benefits. The lack of balanced nutrients in so many diets means they will inevitably fail anyway.




Chemical release





The trigger can be anything from stress to visual or audible cues as defined in the examples of brushing your teeth and The trigger can be anything from stress to visual or audible cues as defined in the examples of smoking. The action performed exists in your body as a set of brushing your teeth and smoking. The ac<on performed exists in your body as a set of neurological connections (neural pathway) within nervous neurological connec<ons (neural pathway) within your nervous system. Whenyour triggered, the system. When triggered, fire which tells the nerves fire which tells the various partsthe of thenerves body to perform the ac<on. Now herevarious is the interes<ng the body more theto ac<on is performed stronger the connec<ons parts ofbit,the perform thetheaction. Now herebecome is theand the more refined the pathway becomes. In essence we become beEer at that habit because we are interesting bit, the more the action is performed the stronger prac<sing it. The opposite is also true. If we perform the ac<on less, the connec<ons will get the connections become and more weaker and the nervous system will favour that the pathway less. refined the pathway becomes. In essence we become better at that habit because The chemical response leading to emo<ons explains why emo<onal habits are harder to change we are practising it. The opposite is also true. If we perform the because the chemical itself is addi<ve. The more we perform the habit, the greater the quan<ty of action less, the connections get the nervous the chemical is released and so our nervous will system getsweaker used to thatand chemical quan<ty. When we system will try to change the favour habit, our that nervouspathway system cravesless. that chemical and tries to alter our ac<ons to get The its fix!chemical This explains, response to some extent,leading why those to whoemotions success in giving up smoking do put on explains why weight in the process. The nervous craves that chemical / emo<onal fix and so the smoking high is emotional habits are harder to change because the chemical subs<tuted by the food high. itself is additive. The more we perform the habit, the greater the quantity of the chemical is released and so our nervous system gets used to that chemical quantity. When we try to change the habit, our nervous system craves that chemical and tries to alter our actions to get its fix! This explains, to some extent, why those who succeed in giving up smoking do put on weight in the process. The nervous system craves that chemical / emotional fix and so the smoking high is substituted by the food high. What we can conclude from the above is that a strategy to breaking an emotional habit could be: a) Try to stay away from any triggers to the habit b) Substitute the emotional response you would have got from the action with a constructive emotional action. This could be watching film, spending more time with friends, a little indulgence, etc. Locking yourself away will only make things more difficult. c) Take comfort in the knowledge that it will get easier the longer you persist because those neurological connections are going to get weaker the less you perform the habit, therefore the urge will get weaker too.



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The Fens | April 2017



The Fenland Watercolourist Born in Hitchin, Derek Massey found himself living in Ramsey St. Marys painting the Cambridgeshire Fens. Having been a singer in the 60s, a teacher, and even a hospital porter, Derek’s true love was always to paint. He took some time out to speak to us about his inspiration and love for art WORDS NATASHA SHIELS IMAGES CHRIS BRUDENELL It’s not every day that you find yourself in the company of a slightly eccentric artist, whose life is as colourful as the art he produces. Derek Massey is now in his 70s, but he is far from fading out - in fact he’s still producing multiple paintings a month, some of which are incredible watercolours of the Fen landscapes. BORN TO BE AN ARTIST Born in 1943, Derek was certain by the age of five that he wanted to be a painter. His father insisted he studied a proper trade. “My father was quite strict and he said: ‘No you won’t be a painter,’ and from that day on I fought him, and it was that irritant that drove me.” Derek saved his own money, and in time managed to put himself through art school. Like most brilliant artists, life was far from ordinary. Derek briefly left the world of art to join a band with his twin brother in the 60s. He enjoyed some success, even signing contracts with HMV at Abbey Road, but his heart remained closer to Monet and his fellow painters than the life of a musician. By 1966 he was working alongside Pip Warwick (head of sculpture in Newcastle-upon-Tyne), before making the move to the Fens in 1975 with just his wife Jean, a table, four chairs and a suitcase. They arrived with nothing, but together built a new life, both as teachers. “I was always

a rebel - I was always getting into trouble,” Derek explained. “I talked too much ... I was always on thin ice.” Inevitably, the life of a teacher didn’t suit him. His chance came when their daughter was born in 1987, and Derek’s wife gave him the opportunity to become a full-time professional artist. “I was given five years to make it as an artist,” Derek added, “while I looked after our daughter and my wife worked as a teacher.” And he never looked back. Within four years Derek held his own

successful exhibition, and was selling his paintings to corporate companies such as Barclays Bank Plc, as well as to private collectors.

THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF PAINTING When Derek first embarked upon the life of a professional painter, he would work every day, painting from morning until evening, “but I didn’t paint as well.” Over time he came to realise that he produced his best work when he painted fewer pictures. Best known for his watercolours, which paint the vast Fenland horizons, Derek also uses acyrilics, oil and creates wonderful sculptures. “I now enjoy painting for me, I’m still a rebel though.” Derek doesn’t paint what he knows will be commercially successful, but he paints for himself, for his own enjoyment. “I never painted for money, I painted because it was a drive inside me. If I don’t paint, I feel ill. I miss it.” And it is for this reason that he often gifts his artwork to causes he believes strongly

“Painting is the only thing I’ve ever done which I know I can do well” 24 The Fens | April 2017

“Everybody has the capability of being a great artist, but not everyone has the opportunity to follow it” in, such as The Born Free Foundation, and his painting of the Peterborough Cathedral which he gave to the curators. He added: “I spent 30 years painting, I spent seven or eight years in acting and theatre, and a considerable amount teaching. I was born to be a painter.” INSPIRED BY THE FENS “The Fens inspired me to be a painter, that’s what started me off and I still paint the Fens now. I love the sky and the horizon. I come from Hertfordshire where you can’t see the horizon, but here it is beautiful. The wildness of it all. And the fact that it’s temporary. Artists are only here for a short amount of time. It’s the same with the Fens, it’s a temporary arrangement for all of us. And that’s how I view painting.” Derek explained that whilst sometimes he draws from a sketch, other times his pictures are completely abstract. “There is no right or wrong way of doing it. I’m always developing,” “I paint with my hands sometimes children paint naturally, but as you get older you lose your creativity. Everybody has the capability of being a great artist, but not everyone has the

opportunity to follow it.” A SUCCESSFUL CAREER Whilst Derek is extremely modest, when asked if he considers himself to be a successful artist, he proudly states that he’s not had gainful employment in 30 years, which surely counts for something. Six successful one-man shows exhibiting at L’Bidi Gallery and numerous mixed

exhibitions (including in London), reaffirms this. But surely the true mark of success is the three words he described himself to us: “Bonkers! No, I would say: Creative. Happy. And lucky.” Now isn’t that what we all strive for? Happily married for 40 years to his wife Jean, who he speaks so fondly of, Derek concluded that he is most proud of their family, and the fact that his children are happy, “now that’s an achievement! But my daughters from my first marriage are all rebels,” he added with a smirk. And his advice to other people wanting to express themselves through art? “Buy some basic stuff and have fun. It’s not easy, but just do it. Everybody has the ability but they’re frightened to do it. But it is within everybody to be creative.” You can view Derek Massey’s work on July 1st at Ramsey St. Mary’s Church in the afternoon. There will also be a talk with David at 7:30pm that evening. Tickets are £7.50, available from School Plus (Ramsey) or call 01487 710730.

The Fens | April 2017



An Indulgent Cake

Peach and Amaretto Loaf Cake By John McGinn, Dog in a Doublet Makes one small loaf Prepare 30 mins Cook 45 mins


For the topping • 55g plain flour • 30g butter • 15g caster sugar For the cake • 200g ripe peach • 1tbls Amaretto • 85ml butter, melted • 115g caster sugar • 1 room temperature egg, beaten • 115g self-raising flour • 30g ground almonds • ½ tsp baking powder • A pinch of ground cinnamon • A pinch of salt • 1 egg white

The Twist

This recipe can be adapted to whatever fruit you may have spare - pears and apples are great. Try serving with mascarpone cheese sweetened with a little icing sugar for a real indulgent taste. 26 The Fens | April 2017

The Method

1. Heat the oven to 180oc. Line a 450g/1lb loaf tin with greaseproof paper and brush lightly with oil. 2. To make the topping, sift the flour into a bowl and rub the butter until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Stir in the sugar and set aside. 3. Remove the skin and the stone of the peach and discard. Cut the peach into random dices. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with the Amaretto. 4. Beat the butter, caster sugar and egg the combine. Set aside. 5. Sift the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, cinnamon and salt over the butter/sugar mixture and fold in. Fold in the peach and Amaretto. 6. Whisk the egg white to medium peaks and fold in. 7. Turn into the prepared tin and

sprinkle over the topping mixture. 8. Bake in the oven for about 45 mins or until well risen and light brown. A wooden skewer inserted in the centre should come out without any wet mixture clinging to it. 9. Cool in the tin for 5 mins, then remove and cool on a wire rack. This dish was created by apprentice chef, Fams, and makes regular appearances on Dog in a Doublet’s Deli throughout the year.

Eat, drink, stay!

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The Writer's Corner Local author and mother of two

Jordan shares her musings


The Warrior Queen

Best Burgers

WORDS NATASHA SHIELS IMAGES CHRIS BRUDENELL It’s always exciting when your local pub decides to launch a new menu - and even more so when the concept is to enjoy a burger and/or dessert. It was only right that we popped down to sample the menu for ourselves. The Falcon Hotel in London Street, Whittlesey, is already a well-established venue for its Sunday carvery, but Colin Wilson wanted to firmly put the hotel and public house on the foodie map. Using locally sourced meat, and providing an extensive choice of burgers (including vegetarian and vegan options), alongside a very reasonable children’s menu, the Falcon Hotel have tapped into something quite special. Our burgers arrived on stylish slate plates, with a delicious side salad and chips that arrived in a cool side dish. The only negative we could find was that photographer Chris wanted to eat my chips! Serving its brand new menu at lunchtime and evenings, and with the warmth of two fires at nighttime, I can really see the Falcon Hotel becoming a new favourite for those looking for something hearty and tasty. Another couple who were sampling the burgers at the same time as us remarked how much they enjoyed their meal. And four empty plates speak volumes! I would definitely recommend the vegan mexican inspired burger (with jalapenos), and I was reliably informed that the barbecue, cheese and bacon beef burger was equally delicious. So whether you fancy a lunctime burger, or a grill and sweet evening meal, why not try the Falcon Hotel this month? Enjoy a selected burger and dessert for only £9.95. Visit the Falcon Hotel at London Street, Whittlesey. Call 01733 351001 or email

During recent research for my second novel, due for release in autumn this year, I found myself gathering some interesting facts about Boadicea, or as she is recently referred to, Boudicca. On-going debate as to the correct pronunciation of her name still continues, my children having been taught at school that the latter was correct, and I the former. I personally prefer Boadicea so from hereon in will refer to her as such. And no, just for the record, in case anyone is wondering, I haven’t switched genre to write about historical fiction for my second novel. Like my debut, my second novel is also a work of contemporary fiction, I just happened to come across Boadicea in my search for inspirational women of history. Boadicea demonstrated strength of character and endurance at a time of great adversity, both for herself and her daughters, as well as the people of her kingdom. History teaches us that all did not end well for Boadicea but she did not take her humiliation lying down. And, more importantly, she reminds us that once upon a time, before the Roman invasion of Britain, women were part of a social structure that encouraged equal rights. Not much is known of Boadicea’s early life and her birth date is not recorded but general consensus suggests she was born into a royal house as a member of the Iceni tribe, based in the area now known as Norfolk. Manda Scott’s modern novels based on Boadicea’s life suggest it likely she was brought up in a largely peaceful environment where both sexes would have taken similar roles in the running of the lives of the Iceni tribe, including mastering the skills necessary to defend themselves. This way of life was then threatened after the Roman invasion of Britain around 43CE. Boadicea, married to Prasutagus, King of the Iceni, found ownership of their land and wealth threatened. A deal was struck and Prasutagus was allowed to remain in control of his land and money, but only with the status of ‘Client King.’ However, Prasutagus drew up a will leaving half of everything to his wife Boadicea and their daughters, and the other half to the Roman Emperor. This did not sit well with the Romans because women in Roman society had no rights of ownership or inheritance. After the death of Prasutagusin 60CE the Romans refused to honour his will and Boadicea’s attempts to claim her rights were viciously denied. She was whipped, her estates confiscated, and her two daughters raped. The Romans may have left us with a rich legacy of innovation and invention including straight roads, sewers and sanitation, hot baths and bound books, but they also destroyed a social structure that had been so important to the women of the tribes of Britain, namely equality. A memorial of Boadicea still stands on the north-east corner of Westminster Bridge. Next time you are visiting London, why not take a look at the statue of the ‘Warrior Queen.’ Driving her carriage, arms aloft, defiantly holding a spear, her daughters standing behind her, she certainly looks formidable. A reminder that there was a time in bygone history when men and women in Britain had equal rights to property, power and inheritance which leaves me wondering what recent historical relations between British men and women would have been like had we inherited the sexual politics of the Celtic tribes rather than those preferred by the Romans. The Fens | April 2017


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New Dress Agency opens its doors The lifelong friendship of Penny and Corrine has blossomed into an exciting new venture with the opening of Penco Dress Agency

Situated on Broad Street in Whittlesey, Penco is a perfectly formed boutique-style shop, offering high quality secondhand dresses and casual wear. Not looking too dissimilar to the likes of John Lewis, Penco’s dresses range from Ted Baker, Jack Willis, to Dune, Karen Millen and Armani jeans. Opening Wednesdays and Thursdays 12-7pm, Friday 105pm and Saturday 10-4pm or out of hours by appointment, Corrine and Penny wanted to ensure they catered for everyone, including the women who perhaps work away during the daytime, but still wanted to browse for a nice outfit for a special occasion. As well as their beautiful dresses, including red-carpet proms creations and hats for the races, Penco also has a great range of shoes, handbags and accessories. And with stock changing frequently, there’s always something new to find. “Penco came to us over a glass of Prosecco one night,” Corrine explained. “We didn’t want to see another empty shop, so decided we would run our own dress agency.” And it certainly makes a wonderful addition to our high street. Watch out for a special opening ceremony, website and Facebook page, all coming soon. So whether you are looking for a special occasion dress, or just want to treat yourself to something nice, pop into Penco - they’re certain to give you the warmest of welcomes. And if you have a beautiful outfit that you’d like to see going to a new home, Penco might just be the ideal match. Penco Dress Agency, 7 Broad Street, Whittlesey. For further information, contact the ladies on 07791 944435.

Don’t be an April Fool Why are you paying all this tax? I said to a client recently. ‘Because that is what they (HMRC) demand’. I went on to illustrate that there was another perfectly legitimate way to arrange his affairs that significantly reduced his tax bill. I am not suggesting that anyone should not pay their fair share of tax, but there are tax advantaged schemes deliberately set up to encourage saving for the future and investing where the government want us to support their efforts, the only thing is that some people don’t know about them or fail to understand them. For example, contributions in to a pension can have the effect of increasing the band within which basic rate tax is paid – thus raising the ceiling above which higher rate tax is paid. There is even a level of income over which your personal allowance is removed, but a pension contribution may restore it. There are investments available that defer the payment of Capital Gains Tax, refund income tax and exclude the investment from an Inheritance Tax calculation – these benefits have conditions attached that are beyond this article – but an experienced Independent Financial Adviser can illuminate. Using tax advantaged Individual Savings Accounts or tax deferred Investment Bonds, even off shore investments may be suitable depending on your circumstances and aspirations.

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Exercise Eagle was the training exercise where the USAAF Troop Carrier Command and the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions practised before D-Day. During this exercise two C47s of the 316th Troop Carrier Group collided between Turves and Benwick, killing all on board

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My particular interest since being a lad has also been the Second World War. I started to learn more about the American GIs who were based in Leicestershire in 1944. I was privileged to be able to speak to a number on the phone, one in particular told me about a training accident in which his commanding officer was killed just weeks before the invasion of France. With this, I started to research the accident and the 14 men killed in it. The accident took place on the homeward journey when two squadrons of the 316th Troop Carrier Group were turning to fly back to their base in Cottesmore, when one of the lead planes pulled up into the path of another lead plane. The Commanding Officer of the 316th TCG had been killed, as well as the groups’ chaplain. The pilot of the second lead plane was the highly decorated 36th Squadron commanding officer. During months of research and phone calls with veterans from the 316th who were flying the night of the accident, family members of the victims of the crash, as well as locals who remember it, it became clear that limited information had been published about what had happened. To me it was sad enough to know that these

men were lost in such a tragic way, but to think that their story and the real men behind the names were getting ‘lost in time’, drove me to find a fitting tribute. I decided that the best thing would be a memorial. With that in mind, I got in contact with local parish councils, Mayor and Church authorities to see if they would agree to this idea. Thankfully they did! Almost a year later, I’m finally able to raise funds. I have set up a project Facebook page called Exercise Eagle, where more detailed information can be found regarding updates on the memorial and my research progress. I am keen to talk with anyone who has any memories of the crash or the aftermath. I have heard some wreckage may have been collected by local farmers. If that is the case, or if you have any stories to tell or pictures, I would be very keen to talk with you. The memorial unveiling is being held on 13th May in Holy Trinity Church, Coates. This is to mark the 73rd anniversary of the crash. All are welcome. You can contact Darren on drwbond1984@ or call 07946 437852. More information is available at Exerciseeagle/

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Exploring the FENS

Shhhh… It’s a secret! Escape from the busy school runs, the long days at work and have a peaceful day out at the Secret Garden, where you will be smothered with a relaxing atmosphere and peace of mind. The original thing about the campsite is that it’s not just a campsite, it’s a co-operative of small local companies who each bring their own unique individual skills and qualities to one place. FENLAND BUSHCRAFT How did people function without 3G and iPhones all those years ago? Bushcraft, that’s how! Fenland Bushcraft also operates from an area adjacent to the site, and they provide ‘Introduction to Bushcraft’ workshops for campers and anyone that fancies having a go at some outdoor skills. They also run Team Building days, Birthdays and specialist days, like the #hibernot day, more can be found on their Facebook page. For more information please visit MILE TREE BREWERY The site is also home to Mile Tree Brewery, producing full-flavoured award winning beers. Opened in 2012 it is operated by Richard and Karen Matthews. You can even be given a tour of the brewery and see how everything is operated, along with some free beer tasting

of course. If you like what you taste, you can purchase a bottle or two at the shop on the camp site. Visit www.thesecretgardentouringpark. for more information. BRAMBLEBEE FARM Pigs! Yes, you will also find pigs on site; they are Gloucester Old Spot on loan from Bramblebee Farm, another local business who provide the site

shop with tasty quality sausages in various flavours. What’s better than the aforementioned free beer tasting? Oh that’s right, beer and sausage tasting. The sausages come in various flavours; sage and red onion, Cambridgeshire, olde English, cracked black pepper and plain pork. Visit www.bramblebeefarm. for more information. FENLANDS SPIRITS AND LIQUEURS This year there will be a new addition to The Secret Garden co-op. Fenlands Spirits and Liqueurs. Could this be a better escape? It’s a small family run business producing such delights as Toffee Vodka, Flavoured Gins and a Whisky Liqueur. Each individual bottle is stamped with the ‘F’ seal of approval. Visit for more information.

vTo discover more about enjoying the Cambridgeshire Fens and ideas for great days out, please visit

Don’t miss the Fenland Midsummer Food and Craft Fair 2017 on June 24th at The Secret Garden Touring Park, Mile Tree Lane, Wisbech St Mary PE13 4TR. Indulge the finest artisan food and crafts they have on display for all to enjoy. Watch this space for more information coming soon. Written by Maddie Callaghan. Find us on Twitter: @CambridgeshireF The Fens | April 2017




As Whittlesey Manor Bowls Club prepares for one of its busiest and important seasons on record, it is offering the local community a free introduction to the sport and its social benefits. The club, based at the town’s Manor Leisure Centre complex, is staging FREE ‘Come and Bowl’ sessions on three consecutive Fridays - April 28th, May 5th and May 12th (from 6.30pm - bowls provided). As club chairman/secretary Melvyn Beck explained: “There are many people, especially those new to the area, who might not even be aware that a bowls club with some of the best playing and social facilities in the area is literally on their doorstep. “Bowls is a sport for all the family with no age barriers. It not only provides gentle, healthy exercise, but with a bar and comfortable surroundings at the club, it also brings the added importance of a strong social element and the opportunity to make new friends. “In comparison to some other sports, it is also relatively cheap to play. Pay an

annual playing subscription and you can play as often as you like without any additional cost, which equates in this instance to around £2.50 per week over a five-month period – much less than a pint of beer!” Although the club, sponsored by local recycling and waste management company TAG Industries, has initially specified these three dates for bowling tuition, it welcomes new members (playing and social) at any time, as the club bar and facilities are open every midweek night from the end of April through to mid-September. It’s a big year for the club, especially for life members Tony and Rita Mace, who not only celebrate their Golden Wedding later this year, but are the current presidents of the Northants Bowling Federation and Northants Women’s Bowling Federation respectively. So, apart from staging six county matches this season, the club will also be hosting two President’s Days and the county finals in July.

The club prides itself on the social aspect of bowls, with regular events organised, including quiz nights and barbeques. There’s a quiz night planned for Friday, May 19th and barbeques (plus entertainment) on Saturdays June 24th and September 9th, the latter as part of the annual Peter Bavister Memorial Charity triples tournament in aid of Magpas, with more than £2,300 having been raised over the past three years for the medical charity. Visit www.whittleseymanorbowlsclub. for more information about Whittlesey Manor Bowls Club.



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34 The Fens | April 2017


U3A GOING FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH It’s April, at last there’s some warmth in the sun and it’s time to begin all those jobs we’ve been hibernating away from during the bleak, cold winter months! Well, here at Whittlesey U3A it’s also time for us to blow away any winter cobwebs, elect a new committee at our AGM during the open meeting at Childers on 20th and for the organisation to move ahead into its third year. After the relatively short business part of this meeting we will be entertained by “Second Crop Music”, an excellent trio playing and singing music of our era! At our meeting on May 18th we are having magicians to mystify us and on June 15th a banjo player will regale us with some lively numbers to get our feet tapping (and maybe a few folk up dancing?!). Each quarter I produce a bumper magazine to supplement the newsletters in between. If you are on the internet and wish to view the new April copy to see what our U3A gets up to, I shall be only too pleased to send you it via email. My contact details are below. I would add that in fact this is my final piece for THE FENS magazine as, after being the publicity officer and newsletter editor since our inauguration, it is now time to hand over the reins to my successor Wendy, who I am sure will continue to provide updates here. My new role sees me taking over the maintenance of our website and continuing to oversee the Facebook page, on both of these outlets you may view details of activities and events. Simply search for “Whittlesey U3A” on Facebook and / or Google the same on your web browser. Our website has a down-loadable application form. I have previously told you about most of our Interest groups so thought I would finish up with a piece written by a member – it shows just what a broad range of activities there are to be enjoyed within our U3A and highlights the fact that new friendships are there, waiting to be discovered! Best regards, Tony Wright – Publicity Officer.; 01733 701628 KNOCK ON EFFECT OF U3A (A MEMBER’S PERSPECTIVE ON THE BENEFITS OF JOINING) I was very pleased to get involved with the setting up of our local U3A, although actually had no intention of taking on a major role. It all came at a time in my life when many changes had taken place and I was ready for some “Me” time. I have enjoyed that and more. As well as meeting many new people, and joining a few different activities, through meeting the new people, I have enjoyed many coffee dates, and lunches, at homes and local inns. I absolutely raved after seeing River Dance in Cambridge on my birthday last year, enjoying lunch out again, and as on many occasions, meeting new people, who others introduce me to. I also went to see “Beautiful” in London, with the Peterborough Choir that Theresa, who runs our Singing group belongs to, another amazing trip, meeting more new people, enjoying lunch in Covent Garden, and getting to know one of our members and group leaders more. The choir serenaded everyone on the way home in the coach. “Blood Brothers” was brilliant, and by taking three ladies in my car, introduced me to more people. I say “hello” to so many people on the occasions I walk round town, and have made new friends too. Yesterday, our Art App group went on another trip by train! This is introducing me to the possibility in future as using this form of transport as I no longer feel able to drive long distances. I heartily recommend joining our U3A, to meet new people, to take up or continue with your various activities, and to broaden your horizons, and learning of other opportunities available locally. Our town actually has quite a lot going on, and many interesting people to meet! Regards, Sandra.



To be held in Grosvenor House from 09:30 to 10:30 on the first Saturday of every month throughout 2017. Saturday April 1st Councillors present will be: Councillor Chris Boden (District, and Town Councillor) Councillor Wicks (Town Councillor) If you have any matters of concern and wish to discuss with a Councillor, then please come along and let us know.

STREET PRIDE UPDATE Members of Whittlesey Street Pride took part in their fifth litter pick of 2017, which was held at Gothic House, Eastrea Road. 12 members gathered on another cold and windy morning to collect 24 bags of rubbish. Over the last five litter picks, the group have collected 79 bags of rubbish, with thanks to their hardy members. This year they will be celebrating their 10th anniversary and future projects are planned. If you would like to join them on any future litter picks, the group are meeting at The Buttercross Market Square on Saturday 25th March 10am, or Ramsey Road layby on Saturday 8th April at 10am. All are welcome.

Our next meeting is on Wednesday 19th April, 6pm for a 6:30pm start. Our main speaker is Inspector Will Davis from Fenland Police. Come and hear what plans are in place for policing in Whittlesey. Do not miss this very important meeting. See you there, Steve Hodson. 01733 203064. The Fens | April 2017



Easter Activities

Children and teachers across Fenland will be breathing a sigh of relief that the Easter holidays are here. We’ve put together a selection of places to take those little darlings to keep them entertained (and keep that boredom monster banished)


Where: WWT Welney When: 1st - 19th April, 9:30am-5pm Cost: Included in admission (family ticket £22.61)


Where: Van Hage Garden Centre, Peterborough When: Cupcake 12th & 19th at 2-3pm; Chick Hunt 14th April at 2:30-3:30pm Cost: Both £4.99 each Calling all kids - WWT Welney have lost their GIANT yellow ducks and Dusty Duck needs you and your family to help him find them at Welney Wetland Centre this Easter. You’ll need to use all your special detective skills to track down these cheeky birds and be in with a chance of winning a yummy chocolate treat. Whilst looking for the ducklings you can explore the reserve, pause for some pond dipping, use your explorer backpack to spot some of the first insects of spring and find out about our summer wildlife by following our trails. If the weather happens to turn cold and wet you can spot birds from the comfy main hide or have a go at arts and crafts in the pond room. All included in admission price. For more information please visit

Children will have great fun racing around the Store hunting down all of the chicks we have hidden. With Name sheets all they need to do is write down the chick’s name and once they have found all of them they can hand their sheets in and be presented with a Goodie Bag. They can also enjoy a homemade biscuit and some squash while they complete our Easter themed activity sheets. If your child is a cake fan, why not join Van Hage’s cafe bakers for cupcake decorating classes, especially for little ones! Let your mini bakers unleash their creativity with pretty cupcakes to decorate and take home. The team will provide everything you will need, already baked cupcakes, sumptuous buttercream frostings, decorations, sprinkles and glitters. Both activities are great fun for all ages, but it is recommend for under 12s, and all children must be accompanied by one adult minimum. As there is limited availability on these dates, please book early to avoid disappointment. To secure your place call the store directly 01733 221400, or alternatively email them

36 The Fens | April 2017


Where: Sacrewell, Peterborough When: April 1st-17th Cost: Trail booklet costs £3.50 per child (from reception). Normal admission applies Spring at Sacrewell is about more than just chocolate, as they encourage families to celebrate the season of new life on the farm. From the 1st – 17th April, the Easter bunny will be visiting Sacrewell. His Easter Trail will be on foot and take young adventurers across the whole site. To make things eggs-tra fun visitors are tasked with finding the real Easter bunny at Sacrewell before they can claim their chocolate prize. As well as the Easter Trail, you can meet the cade lambs at daily lamb shows and see the Lincoln Longwool, Suffolk Texel Cross and Jacob lambs in the fields with their mums or in the maternity unit. The public lamb shows will continue until 23rd April. For more information please visit

Closer to home If you’re after something on your doorstep, here’s our pick of the events closer to home


Where: Whittlesey Vets Limited (formerly The Hero of Aliwal), Ramsey Road When: Monday 17th April, 2pm Cost: Ducks are £1 each (must be pre-bought) The annual duck race raises money for the Whittlesey Mayor’s charities. You can purchase your duck from the Town Council Office, Grosvenor House plus various other outlets in the town. On the day you can watch as hundreds of ducks are dropped into the river and ‘race’ each other to the finish (usually with a little help from the fire service). For more information please contact Susan Piergianni, Town Clerk, on 01733 351296 or email


Where: Lakenheath Fen Nature Reserve, Station Road, Lakenheath When: Sunday 2nd April, 10am-4pm Cost: Free Spring is an absolutely wonderful time to visit RSPB Lakenheath Fen. Join them for a FREE day of family fun to find out all about what they have to offer on the reserve. Weather permitting; this is your opportunity to meet some of the animals that graze the reserve including cattle, sheep and goats. You will even be able to pet some of them! There will also be a selection of other activities available throughout the day including pond dipping, a mini beast safari and a chance to explore the reserve. Each child will receive a goody bag. Please note there is a facilities charge of £4 per car (applies for non-members of the RSPB). This is a drop-in event, so no need to book. All children must be accompanied by an adult.


Where: Peckover House, Wisbech When: Friday 14th April - Monday 17th April, 11am-4pm Cost: £2.50 per trail (plus normal garden admission) Help a mother duck who has strayed from the River Nene to find her lost eggs, which could be anywhere in the gardens at Peckover House. Collect your Cadbury chocolate prize when you have found them all! For more details call 01945 583463 or visit The Fens | April 2017


Sunday 9th April from 4â&#x20AC;&#x201D;6pm





38 The Fens | April 2017


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Real Honest Food from a Real Honest Farm Our Passion - To rear, source and produce the highest quality local products for you to taste from our on site Butchers,Tea Room or Steakhouse. Our Aim - To encourage and educate all visitors to our farm to better understand our philosophy when it comes to taste, animal welfare, provenance and service. Your pleasure - Enjoy a variety of traditional & some unusual animals to visit, from Cows, Pigs & Sheep to Parrots & Crocodiles.

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Tuesday - Friday: 9am-6pm ¡ Saturday: 9am-4pm Sunday - Monday: Closed Tuesday - Friday: 9.30am-4.30pm ¡ Saturday: 9am-4.30pm Sunday - Monday: Closed Tuesday - Saturday:12pm-3pm & 5.30pm - 9.30pm Sunday Carvery - 12pm-3pm Tel: 01487 824658 option 3 or email: Facebook: @JohnsonsFarmShop

Church Farm, Church Street, Old Hurst, Huntingdon PE28 3AF Tel: 01487 824658 The Fens | April 2017 39 email:


The Best of British When fourth generation farmers, the Johnsons, welcomed The Fens to take a tour around their family farm, we weren’t expecting to find crocodiles... WORDS NATASHA SHIELS IMAGES CHRIS BRUDENELL Just on the outskirts of Huntingdon in Old Hurst, lies Johnsons of Old Hurst. Here you can quite literally see from farm to fork - the cows in the field, the butcher farm shop to the newly built Steak House. They pretty much have it all, even the odd crocodile or two. We sat down with husband and wife team, Andy and Tracey to find out exactly how the farm has evolved into the popular destination it has become. HUMBLE BEGINNINGS Four generations ago, Andy’s Great Grandfather started the dairy farm in 1899. Back then farming was very different. Fast-forward a few generations, and the farm was bought, sold, and bought again. In 1997 the dairy industry proved uneconomical for the Johnson family 40 The Fens | April 2017

and so when Andy and Tracey took it on, cows were replaced with quails. “The shop happened by accident,” explained Andy. “One day we were approached to open a butchers, and by 2006 we were open.” Shortly afterwards the duo built a farm shop and a tea room. Each builiding was built using local materials such as Stamford stone, and with a great deal of it done by Andy himself. FARM TO FORK Passionate about rearing and producing the highest quality local products, most things on site at Johnsons are handmade or bred on the farm. From pigs, cattle, venison, water buffalo, ostrich to seasonal poultry, the couple hold the animals’ welfare as paramount. Visitors can see the livestock grazing and

purchase the best quality produce on one of the largest meat counters in the country. “We encourage and educate our visitors on our farm, to help them better understand our philosophy when it comes to taste, animal welfare, provenance and service,” added Tracey. But it’s not just meat on offer at Johnsons of Old Hurst. The farm shop offers an excellent range of products including local spirits (and yes ladies, I did see plenty of bottles of specialist gins), some of the best British cheeses you can find, as well as gifts, vegetables and much more. A FAMILY AFFAIR It’s not often you see a family working together, but it was humbling to see both sons, George and Edward,

working alongside their parents in the family business. Along with their 60 strong staff, Johnsons of Old Hurst look safe in the hands of the next generation. And it was their own experience of having children, that inspired Andy and Tracey to ensure they offered something on the farm for families to come and enjoy and that didn’t cost a fortune. You can visit Johnsons of Old Hurst for free. Children can explore the play area, walk around and see the farm animals as well as various parrots, pheasants, raccoon dogs and the occasional rabbit and there’s no entrance fee. It is requested that you don’t bring your own lunch, but instead take advantage of the barnstyle tea room, with its excellent range of homemade cakes, sandwiches, hot and cold drinks. THE FUTURE The Johnsons’ recent addition to the farm is their Steak House. An impressive two-storey building, here you can sample the farm’s livestock, enjoy the ambience of live music and

take in the impressive surroundings. And with the Steak House’s reputation growing, Andy’s already looking ahead to his next project which involves Cuddles, Kisses, Sherbert and Romeo - they’re his crocodiles to you and me! So why crocodiles? Funnily enough, the crocodiles have been at the farm for many years. Safely in their own enclosure, the four adult crocodiles take care of any waste produced on the farm. And whilst you can purchase crocodile meat, I don’t think Andy or Tracey will be serving up their crocodiles anytime soon! Andy and Tracey Johnson have an unquestionable commitment to their farm. To quote Andy himself, “If you’re happy, it doesn’t matter if you earn 50 quid or 50 million. Our farm is our legacy.” With plans in the pipeline to open Sundays from early summer, we’re certain that this farm is only ever going to go from strength to strength. Where else can your children play, discover farm and exotic animals,

shop for your weekly meat, purchase a lovely gift or two and enjoy a tea and cake? We wish them all the best, and urge everyone to support our local farmers because without them, what would our British countryside look like? Johnsons of Old Hurst can be found at Church Farm, Church Street, Old Hurst, Huntingdon. Currently they open Tuesday to Saturday, with a Sunday carvery at the Steak House. For opening times and more information, including special Easter activities, please visit www., or call 01487 824658 The Fens | April 2017


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42 The Fens | April 2017



Pick up your leaflet at the New Queen St Surgery

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24 HOUR BLOOD PRESSURE The New Queen Street Surgery PPG members received a talk and demonstration regarding the 24 hour blood pressure monitor, which will cut costs and provide better understanding of patient information. When the monitor is needed for use it is set up in the surgery first, and set to record information half hourly during the day and hourly during the night. It consists of an arm pressure sleeve linked to the monitor, which can be worn in a harness or attached to a belt. This cuts out the need for

the patient to attend hospital for this procedure. When the patient returns to the surgery the next day, the information recorded is downloaded and the information placed on the patient’s record. Three pages of information are provided for the surgery. The photograph is of the presentation of the PPG cheque in the sum of £872.54 to Dr. Maddula from the PPG for the purchase of a 24 hour Blood Pressure Monitor.

CENTRAL ENGLAND CO-OPERATIVE CELEBRATE OFFICIAL OPENING OF REVAMPED FUNERAL HOME IN WHITTLESEY Special guests were on hand to mark the opening of a newly renovated funeral home in Whittlesley. Staff at Central England Cooperative’s H E Bull & Son Funeral Home hosted a special dedication ceremony at the site in Inhams Road, Whittlesey, to officially unveil the recently refurbished building. Funeral Branch Manager Mark Green and his team were joined by local clergy and councillors to mark the occasion. The event featured a service marking the opening of the new home followed by a guided tour of the premises for all attendees and refreshments. Much needed funds were also raised to help support the Society’s corporate charity, Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children. Mark said: "Our first priority is to enhance memories and love for all of our families and we are very pleased to offer that at H E Bull & Son Funeral

Home. “We feel it reflects our commitment to providing excellent standards of care for our families during their time of bereavement. "We would like to thank the clergy for leading the dedication service and coming along to officially open the site. We all appreciate the time they have put aside out of their busy schedules to help us mark this occasion. “Our guests had a tour of the funeral home and saw the range of options we offer which allow families to arrange a funeral reflecting the life and interests of their loved one.” Central England Co-operative Funeralcare H E Bull & Son Funeral Home offers a 24-hour service, seven days a week. In addition to arranging funerals, Mark and his team are also able to offer advice on floral tributes, monumental masonry, funeral stationery, pre-paid funeral plans and probate advice. The team can be

contacted on 01733 203573.

The Fens | April 2017


Independent of the month



Vesuvio Italian Restaurant

Maria and Peppe are the lively couple behind the much popular Whittlesey Italian restaurant Versuvio. We popped in to speak to Maria and find out what inspired the couple to open their business in this Fenland town

WORDS AMY CORNEY IMAGES CHRIS BRUDENELL HOW LONG HAS VESUVIO BEEN ESTABLISHED IN WHITTLESEY AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO OPEN HERE? We have been open for five years now, and originally decided on Whittlesey as I grew up here and went to the local school. At the time we opened, there wasn’t another Italian restaurant here, so we thought it was an ideal place to start our business and bring something new to the town. WHAT MAKES YOUR RESTAURANT UNIQUE? We are a family-run business and take pride in our great customer service. Peppe used to run his own deli in Italy, so his passion for authentic Italian cuisine makes our restaurant stand out. WHAT IS YOUR MOST POPULAR DISH? Lots of our dishes are popular, but the pasta dishes remain firm favourites. We have new specials every week and the most popular of those will make it onto our menu. WHAT IS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR MENU AND HOW OFTEN DO YOU CHANGE IT? Peppe is passionate when designing our menus and we like to have a new Maria and Peppe with their two daughters

44 The Fens | April 2017

menu to reflect the changing season. He is inspired by modern methods and takes an interest in new and fashionable foods. We source the majority of our supplies from Italy, so we use only the finest and most authentic Italian ingredients. WHAT EVENTS HAVE YOU GOT PLANNED IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS? Our ever-popular Saturday music evenings are back! We have Peter Jay returning on April 22nd as well as Pino Soccio and Freddy Hall later in the year. We will be open for Father’s Day and we are still taking bookings for large group events such as birthdays. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE THINKING OF OPENING A NEW BUSINESS IN THE TOWN? We welcome new businesses to Whittlesey as competition is good for the soul. We find that more businesses attract more customers into the town, helping it to thrive. If you were going to open a new business, I would suggest spending time researching the area and finding out what people need. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT THE FENS? I love Whittlesey as it’s a great place to bring up children, the town is so friendly and you can buy everything you need right here. I enjoyed living here when I was younger, so was happy to return after having a period of living in Italy. HOW INVOLVED ARE YOU IN

THE LOCAL COMMUNITY? We like to hire local students to work in our restaurant as front of house staff, so they gain work experience. We also work with the local schools and host their reward days with pizza making nights. We donate to our chosen local charities and actively support local events. VESUVIO is located on Eastgate Mews, Whittlesey. To book please call 01733 204599 or visit www.

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How to make


With the Easter break just around the corner, we teamed up with the talent behind Monkeymaid, to bring you a step-by-step guide to making your very own flowers. These make an excellent gift or form the basis to a beautiful handmade card. And don’t forget to share your creations with us

Step-by-step guide 1. Take two strips of card and glue the ends together at 90 degrees. 2. Fold the strips over and over each other one at a time. 3. You have just made a spring, now glue the top flap down, this will make it stronger. 4. Take three of the paper cake cases and your favourite colouring pens or pencils and get colouring! 5. You can colour them in whatever colours you like. 6. Fold each case into quarters and cut them as shown in the picture. Can you see that I cut tiny slits in the smallest one! 7. Unfold them and you will have three sized flowers, glue them all

46 The Fens | April 2017

together, the biggest one first, then the medium sized one, and lastly the smallest. 8. Glue your pretty flower to the top of the spring. 9. You have made your very own spring flower, well done! You can decorate the centre with whatever you like, buttons, sequins, smiley faces, or leave it as it is. (Don’t make the centre too heavy though, the flower won’t bounce) I decided to glue mine into a box that I bought from a craft shop, I decorated the lid and sent it to a friend to make her smile. What will you do with yours?


1. 3. 4.

5. 6. 7. 8.


WIN one of three packs of Monkeymaid cards, each containing three cards. To enter, simply email hello@thefensmag. by April 10th. Please make the heading of your email â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Win cardsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;.

Mary Wright is a wife and a mother of three wonderful children. She enjoys all sorts of arts and crafts in her spare time, but concentrates her business on making beautiful handmade greeting cards. Find out more at: www.facebook. com/Monkeymaidit, Monkeymaid or email her at The Fens | April 2017




The Fens business corner is a handy listing for your local services, shops and restaurants. You can list your business here for just £10 a month, or get a free listing with an advert in the magazine. Contact the team on 01733 202049 or email ACCOMMODATION COMMON RIGHT BARNS, 01945 410424, AUTO SERVICES BRIGGATE SERVICE GARAGE, 01733 202543, BATHROOMS & PLUMBING GTP PLUMBING (BATHROOMS, TILING AND PLUMBING), 07752 206381, 01733 840820 BIKE STORE RUTLAND CYCLING, 01733 371013, BOWLS CLUB WHITTLESEY MANOR BOWLS CLUB, Manor Leisure Centre, whittleseymanorbowlsclub. BUILDING SERVICES EPD INSULATION GROUP, 01733 202996, NORPILE LTD, 01603 416155, CARE WORK MIDAS CARE, 01223 666899, CARPENTRY/BUILDERS LILY ROSE CONSTRUCTION LTD, 01733 590121, CARPET CLEANING ZERO DRY TIME, 0800 180 4157, CATERING/HOG ROASTS THE FENLAND ROASTER, 07930 494076, 01733 206658, CHIMNEY SWEEPS SOOT BUSTERS, 01487 814185 CHURCH/HOLIDAY CLUB WHITTLESEY BAPTIST CHURCH, whittleseybaptist. CLEANING/CARE SERVICE SOLITAIRE CARE, 07709 600039, solitairecare@

48 The Fens | April 2017

CLUBS WHITTLESEY CONSERVATIVE CLUB, 01733 202381 COMPUTERS SG COMPUTING, 01733 202152, CURTAINS/BLINDS BLINDS IN HARMONY, 0800 028 2942, 01733 840258, CYCLE REPAIRS THE GREEN WHEEL CYCLE CO, 01733 205310, 2 Barnes Way, Whittlesey PE7 1LE EVENT CONTRACTOR DC SITE SERVICES, 01733 200713, ELECTRICIAN FENLAND ELECTRICAL, 01733 350400, fenlandelectrical. ELECTRICAL & PLUMBING G’S ELECTRICAL, Part P Register Electrician, 07969 880551, Whittlesey FARM SHOP/STEAK HOUSE JOHNSONS OF OLD HURST, 01487 824658, FIRST AID FENLAND FIRST AID, 01733 351909,




NEW VISION FITNESS, 01354 622399,



VESUVIO, 01733 204599, FALCON HOTEL, 01733 351001, London Street, Whittlesey SHEDS/GARAGES THE SHED SHOP, 01733 350218, 32 Market Street, Whittlesey PE7 1BD, SKIP HIRE F&G SKIP HIRE, 07415 440330, fandgskiphireltd@ STAIRLIFTS GREENSTAIRLIFTS LIMITED, 01487 815741, greenstairlifts. TRAVEL SPECIALISTS SHAWS OF MAXEY, 01778 342224, VETERINARY CENTRE WHITTLESEY VETERINARY CENTRE, 01733 685514, WINDOWS, DOORS, CONSERVATORIES PRESTIGE HOME IMPROVEMENTS, 01733 785125, VIKING CONSERVATORIES, WINDOWS, DOORS, 01733 840051, matt. vikingconservatories@



This month’s book review What we’re


The Vanishing by Sophia Tobin; Simon & Schuster I love historical fiction: Dickens, Conrad, Austen, Eliot, Gaskell and Shelley, not forgetting the brilliant Brontë sisters and yet, I have to admit, it’s been a while since I last read a book in this particular genre. However, after reading Sophie Tobin’s The Vanishing, I had to ask myself why? Beautifully written, this dark tale of intrigue and deception is set against the backdrop of England’s 19th century eerie Yorkshire Moors. Add a brooding Byronic villain who, (in the words of Lady Caroline Lamb when describing Lord Byron), could be best described as “mad, bad and dangerous to know,” a persecuted heroine and a remote setting alluding to aristocratic decay and madness, this atmospheric tale of mystery also has all the hallmarks of good gothic fiction. Annaleigh Calvert leaves behind the hustle and bustle of her London life, including her beloved adoptive father, and heads for Yorkshire to take up the position of housekeeper at White Windows, a somewhat decaying mansion nestled among the remote Yorkshire Moors. Annaleigh is also fleeing heartache; only White Windows is not the sanctuary she hoped for. “I felt disappointed,” she said. “I had come here to escape from sadness, and yet the house in that moment seemed the opposite of a place where one could be happy. It seemed to crouch in the rugged landscape, as though cowering from the rain.” Her somewhat aloof employers are brother and sister, Marcus and Hester Twentyman. They appear pleasant enough, however all is not as it seems. Hester, slightly melancholic and “colourless, like a water colour executed with too much water” relies on opiates to help her constant headaches. Her brother Marcus, at times arrogant at others troubled, is a contradictory character yet Annaleigh finds herself strangely drawn to her broody proprietor. “He looked at me, and the keenness of his gaze, needle sharp and perceptive, startled me anew.” Nonetheless, Annaleigh struggles with the isolation of her new home. Why is she warned by the other two resident servants not to get too close to her employers? And, more importantly, where did the previous housekeeper Kate, disappear to? Our verdict… Although well paced, I did find The Vanishing somewhat slow to begin with. However, it quickly picked up pace keeping me gripped to the very end. Tobin’s characters are well drawn and her descriptive use of language while both beautiful and haunting is also, at times, amazingly brutal. Through Annaleigh, Tobin also explores the historical entrapment of women within domestic space, as well as subjection to patriarchal authority. However, although subservient, as her position would have dictated at the time, Annaleigh discovers a strong will and strength of character refreshingly at odds with her place in society. The Vanishing is a story of love, betrayal and revenge and the perfect read for a cold day in front of a warm fire.

By Eva Jordan, author of 183 Times A Year

Toilet I often wonder if there is anything in life that doesn’t irritate me and if I’m just becoming a grumpy old man? For example, my recent jaunt to Amsterdam heralded many great stories and some sights that will take many years of substantial therapy to recover from. However, I was increasingly frustrated by being accosted by men ‘hanging around’ in toilets waiting to spray me with aftershave as soon as I’d done my fly up. I don’t want to be force-sprayed with aromas that I can only assume are a mix of essence of dishcloth and feet, I have no idea what ‘leave me alone you git’ is in Dutch, and funnily enough it wasn’t in my guide book. Not only that, but there is something really unnerving about standing at a urinal only to look to your left to see a man poised closer than is comfortable with a bottle of 007 aftershave aimed at your face. And since I’m talking about urinals ... Men, I wish to put forward a ‘Code of Conduct’ regarding urinal usage. 1. If you arrive at a toilet and all urinals are empty, you use the far left or right urinal, never the middle. 2. If you arrive at a toilet and there is someone already using the far left or right urinal, you use the farthest one from him, not the one next to him. If you use the one next to him, and the ‘him’ is me, just know I will find you deeply irritating. 3. If you arrive at a toilet and the only option is to use the urinal next to a person, so be it. (Unless the cubicle is free). And finally, the Dutch automatic hand washing machines. I put my hands in, nothing happens, so I remove my hands just in time for the soap to be dispensed, so I put my hands back for the water, only for it to take ages, and I’ve missed the soap so what’s the point. The blower then starts emitting air for four seconds leaving me with wet, still dirty hands. I turn to leave, only to have aftershave sprayed in my eyes leaving my other senses to hear ‘spare any money sir’ in a thick Dutch accent.

§ Joe Ferridge is an occasional writer and strongly advises never to ‘peek’ through a curtain because you can hear weird noises behind it in Amsterdam The Fens | April 2017



Escaping Peterborough On a slightly wet Wednesday, THE FENS team were invited to play at Escape Peterborough. We had one hour to escape, but did we get out in time... WORDS NATASHA SHIELS IMAGES CHRIS BRUDENELL It’s not every day that you are led into 221b Baker Street (that’s Sherlock Holmes to anybody who doesn’t know), and the door is locked behind you. But that’s what happened to us when we visited Escape Peterborough last month. The rise in popularity of these kinds of escape rooms has grown massively in the last few years. In fact, Peterborough alone has three different companies, each have puzzles in a room and the player has 60 minutes to solve the clues in order to progress. Testing your puzzle-solving skills and teamwork, escape rooms are brilliant fun. Whether you’re friends, family members, work mates or even on a hen or stag do, there’s something quite unique about working together to beat the clock. Your ultimate goal is to solve each puzzle (without a clue if possible), before your 60 minutes is up. And it’s not just for adults, as Tom explained, “We had two 12 year old girls who made it out.” But don’t think this means the puzzles are simple - oh no. I suspect we took a good 10 minutes to even find the answer to the first lock!

WIZARDS, DETECTIVES AND LIAM NEESON Each of the three rooms at Escape Peterborough has a different theme. As well as 221b Baker Street, there was a Harry Potter inspired room and a Taken themed room. Each room 50 The Fens | April 2017

has completely different puzzles to solve and are exceptionally well designed, with objects carefully placed to really set the tone of the theme. We had old-fashioned clocks, phones, chairs and books. The Harry Potter room had potion bottles and candles.

give a personal touch for birthdays or special occasions.” So did we escape in style or did we hang our heads in shame? After a couple of clues I’m so relieved to tell you that we managed to escape in a time of 53:57 - which I’ve been told, is a very respectable time for newbies. Would I recommend it? Oh yes! I can see the appeal for friends to test their gaming skills; I can see the appeal for families to try something new together; I can see why it would be a great option for a birthday or special event, or even a superb team building exercise for businesses. With plans to expand and create even more rooms, I’m sure this is only just the start for Tom and Andy. With thanks to Escape Peterborough for inviting us.

WIN a game for up to five!

To enter, all you have to do is solve the riddle below and send your answer to by April 15th.

The mastermind of friends Tom Owen and Andy Jones, who are selfconfessed escape game addicts, set up Escape Peterborough in the heart of the town to make it as accessible as possible. “We have travelled the country playing escape rooms and have played hundreds, so we decided to design our own,” Andy explained. “What makes us different is that we provide a great service and always go the extra mile to

Jason handed a letter with a coded message on it to Dr. Jane. The letter was from Sherlock Holmes informing Jane that he wanted to meet. The coded message read: 5 14 9 7 13 1 2 1 11 5 18 19 20 18 5 5 20 Where was Jane to meet Holmes?

The Fens | April 2017


Proudly sponsored by

What’s on guide FAMILY-FRIENDLY April 5th-7th

Holiday Club 2017 at Whittlesey Baptist Church, Gracious Street, Whittlesey. Reception to year 6, between 9:15-12:15

April 14th

Children’s Easter Egg Hunt plus family disco at Ivy Leaf Club, Whittlesey from 7pm-10:30pm. Raising funds for Defibrillators for All heart screening. Tickets £2.50 for children, £1 for adults



April 4th

Charity Easter Tea Dance 1-4pm at St Andrews Hall. Live music to dance to or just listen from the Toe Tappers. A variety of music styles catered for, £5 entrance includes refreshments, cakes and biscuits. Proceeds to charity Vesabroad who are helping the rainforest. Tickets can be brought in advance at Joes Toes, 30 High Causeway, Whittlesey.

April 22nd

April 7th

May 1st

Steve Manning will speak on ‘What Granny Didn’t Want Me to Know’. 7.30pm in the Town Hall. Whittlesea Society

Ramsey Rotary Vintage Fair between 9:30am-3pm at The Camp, Wood Lane, Ramsey PE26 2XB. Entry £2, under 15 free Fun Day at Serpentine Green Shopping Centre between 11am3pm. Fun for the whole family, from inflatibles for kids to martial arts for the adults. All proceeds go to The Village Playgroup Werrington and Amazon Children’s Ward

Race Night 7pm at Sudbury Court, Whittlesey

April 10th

Hatha Yoga, for all levels, £6 each, some mats available. Monday - 6pm Wednesday - 6.30pm, Thursday - 9.30am. St Andrew’s Parish Room, Parkinsons Lane, Whittlesey Power Yoga, lively music, intended to raise your heart rate & increase your flexibility & fitness. £6.10 to non members, bring water & small towel. Wednesday - 8pm. New Vision Fitness, Manor Leisure Centre, Whittlesey Painting group, we meet in the Eastrea Centre every Tuesday 1pm to 4pm all are welcome, for details contact Sue on 01733 205241 Jim’s Bingo, every Tuesday and Thursday. Doors open at 7pm. Eyes down at 7.30pm at Conservative Club Hot Food Friday lunchtime. at Conservative Club Whittlesea Society meet on the second Monday of each month at 7.30pm in the Town Hall and always have a speaker Members Bingo starts at 7.30pm every Sunday, Monday & Thursday at the Ivy Leaf Club Ukulele ‘strum for fun’ Ukulele ‘strum for fun’ at the Ram Whittelsey. Contact Chris on 07960 316724. Weekly meditation class in March Fridays 10.30am - 11.30am. £5 per class. March Podiatry Practice, High Street, March, Whittlesey Mud Walls Group Meet upstairs at the Whittlesey Museum on the first Wednesday of the month at 10:30am 52 The Fens | April 2017

Waddo at Conservative Club

April 8th

Steve Carmel at Conservative Club

April 8th

Red Thunder at Just for Kicks Rock n Roll Club, Yaxley 07718 511640. £8

April 15th

Pat Campbell at Conservative Club

April 17th

The Kopy Kat’s at Just for Kicks Rock n Roll Club, Yaxley 07718 511640. £3

April 21st

In The Mood 50/60/70 music £6pp Inc Buffet at Conservative Club

April 22nd

James Courtney at Conservative Club

Don’t miss our Easter activities on pages 36-37


April 1st

April 23rd

Sunday Lunch at Conservative Club

April 29th

Dave Logan at Conservative Club

May 6th

A Grand Charity Gala at Ivy Leaf Club, Whittlesey from 7pm-11:30pm. Tickets are £15 with funds going to local churches. See page 53 for more info

May 1st

April 19th

COATES BOOK CLUB are holding a COFFEE MORNING/CAKES in Holy Trinity Church Coates from 10.30 12.30. The aim is to raise money for “SHELTER” the homeless charity. There will be a cake stall, raffle etc. and all monies collected with go to this charity which helps all those in need. Further information or donation to Norma on 01733 840854 or Jenny on 01733 840301

April 28th

Card Bingo. 7pm at Sudbury Court, Whittlesey

May 6th

Quiz Night at 7:30pm, St Andrews Hall, raising money for NGNPUK (No Gain, No Pain UK). £5 per person – Teams of up to 8. Bring your own food and drink, tea and cakes for sale at half time including a raffle.

May 21st

Benwick Exhibition from 2pm5pm at Benwick Village Hall. Huge collection of photos of Benwick, plus displays of local arts and crafts. Free admission

The Outsiders at Just for Kicks Rock n Roll Club, Yaxley 07718 511640. £3

May 19th

Defibrillators For All and NGNPUK charity music night at 7:30pm – midnight, Childers. Tickets cost £10. Performing on the night will be Holly and the Boatmen, Dave Smith (from Austin Gold) and Anthony Shiels (from The Candle Thieves). Plus Whittlesey Motown legend Terry Grant. There will be a raffle and and a light buffet included in the price of the ticket. More info on page 9

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Whittlesey resident BARBARA LINDSEY, who was Personal Assistant and Confidante to the late Sir Norman Wisdom for many years, and is well known for her popularity and endless charitable fundraising events in the area, will be organising another function on Saturday May 6th at the Ivy Leaf Club in Gracious Street, endeavouring to raise finance for two Whittlesey churches, St. Mary’s and St. Andrew’s, and presenting a Grand Charity concert and Dance evening featuring a host of entertainers from the world of showbusiness. Hilarious television comedian JIMMY CRICKET will be appearing, making sure the audience will be kept laughing throughout the event, and the show will also star 60s rock ‘n’ roll icon JESS CONRAD OBE, well known for his many recordings and television shows over the years. Supporting these two great performers will be comedy impressionist GLENN M. FORD from Britain’s Got Talent, International illusionist DANIEL DEAN from the Magic Circle and the Magic Castle in Las Vegas, and young recording artiste GEORGIA TUOHEY, direct from a recent appearance with keyboard superstar Rick Wakeman. The music for dancing will be supplied by local band SECOND CROP, who are fast becoming one of the most popular groups in East Anglia. They have superb vocals, great music and play everything from the 50s and 60s, right up to today’s biggest hits from 2016/17. They are without doubt a force to be reckoned with and a band you’ll want to listen to again and again. There will be bar facilities on the night, and the evening will run from 7pm to 11.30pm. The compere for the evening will be Sir Norman Wisdom’s agent JOHNNY MANS, who has also helped Barbara Lindsey with the logistics of the event. There will be surprises and prizes, a raffle, and a truly great evening for all. Tickets are £15 each and all profits go to a very worthy cause….SO COME ALONG AND SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL CHURCHES. Tickets are available from the following:




Parties ~ Weddings Conferences ~ Funerals Birthdays ~ Christenings

new enquiries welcome • Two full size snooker tables, plus dominoes, darts and two gaming machines. • Separate bar facility in our function room. There is also a small dance floor in the lounge. • We’re one of the best local venues to hire out for any occasion. We operate a smart-casual dress code. Football tops, baseball caps excluded.

April Events • Sat 1st Waddo • Sat 8th Steve Carmel • Sat 15th Pat Campbell • Sat 22nd James Courtney • Sun 23rd Sunday Lunch • Sat 29th Dave Logan FRIDAY LUNCH Hot food served Fridays 12-2pm

t:01733 202381 The Fens | April 2017


Final word

Old Houses of Whittlesey WORDS Anthony Austin Can you help? It must have been almost 40 years ago I chanced upon an exhibition of old postcards in the library at Whittlesey. Included was a postcard photo taken from upstairs of the Queens Head pub, which stood on the site of the present library, looking across Market Street and showing a house which stood on the presentday shops on the corner of Market and Broad Streets. It had a thatched roof and a bay window, and if anyone has it still in their collection, I would love to see it again as it was used in the 19th Century as a school. I am currently researching the history of schools in the town and villages for a future article, so if you can help I would be very grateful! If you can, just get in touch with Natasha (hello@ and she will let me know. Anyway, old houses Obviously, Whittlesey was once full of houses and cottages built of local materials. Thatch, timber, plaster, cob, stone and brick. Reed, straw, wood, earth, clay and stone all served as

building materials for centuries. Some, thank heavens, survive still and are prized homes and offices, cherished and lovingly preserved. The vast majority have disappeared due to the vicissitudes of time. A few, now gone, survived into the age of photography and help to give us an idea of the look of the area as it appeared at the dawn of the Victorian era, when modern construction techniques overwhelmed the old local style of building. The medieval St. Andrews Manor House stood just north of St. Andrews Church and was in a ruinous state, even in the 18th Century. The medieval vicarage for the church stood opposite at the corner of Barrs Street and Church Street, and was demolished in 1864 when it was described as a cottage of but one room. Other truly medieval houses survived until Victorian times, such as the Guildhall on the site of the Nags Head in High Causeway, which in turn was removed in 1974 when the town centre relief road was constructed. By the 17th Century there were a

number of good stone and brick houses built by prosperous farmers and tradesmen, some of which are still with us, though, sadly, many have been replaced with modern dwellings. 6 Gracious Street, a splendid stone and collyweston slated house, 4 and 18 Delph Street, both plastered and thatched, are all examples of good 17th Century farmhouses demolished since the 1950s. Of course, most of the town consisted of what we would describe today as “cottages”, usually thatched single storied with dormer windows. Many were also shops, and I include a picture of one in London Street used as a butchers. In 1910 there were still at least five shops in London Street, itself once the medieval High Street of the town. We tend to forget today that there were shops on nearly every street of the Victorian town. Next month, we’ll take a look at shops and trades around our town in past times. I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Images clockwise from left to right: 6 Gracious Street, London Street, 4 Delph Street, Nags Head Inn, High Causeway, 18 Delph Street. 54 The Fens | April 2017

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