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A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens


Issue 21 | February 2018






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The Fens | February 2018

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ED’S letter

It’s only the middle of January as I write this, but I have already failed my New Year’s Resolution which was to run a mile every day. Whilst this doesn’t sound positive, I am instead organising my work/ home (having moved only a few weeks before Christmas, the real unpacking was put off for a while) and I have not one but two wall calendars to ensure I plan 2018 like a military operation. You may have noticed this month’s front cover is a little different. For the first time, we’re featuring a person rather than a landscape but we felt completely justified since we had the privilege of interviewing BBC’s Gardeners’ World presenter Adam Frost, who lives not far from Stamford. His insightful and honest interview is on page 16 and we really hope it inspires you to get out and enjoy your gardens, despite the weather! Don’t miss our competition on page 40 for your chance to pick up a free month’s ice skating pass and tickets to see the Peterborough Phantoms. So I might not be running today, and probably not tomorrow, but work is under way for our second magazine and our house feels like a home, and that is enough for me. Have a super month and I shall see you again in March!


THIS month 7 Straw Bear Festival gallery

28 Visiting Walnut Tree Designs

12 Our pick of local romantic hotels

31 Nature in the Fens

15 Valentine’s Day gift picks 16 Interview with Adam Frost 21 Your garden in February 22 Half term activities




A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens


Issue 21 | February 2018




32 Our pick of our favourite Fen walks 36 Advice from a local entrepreneur 40 Two great competitions 43 What’s going on at Peterborough’s Broadway Theatre 44 Recipe of the month indulgent chocolate truffles 48 What’s on guide - some of the great events happening in the next few months

THE TEAM PUBLISHER / EDITOR Natasha Shiels EDITORIAL/SALES ASSISTANT Amy Corney SUB EDITOR Valerie Matthews/Theresa Shiels PHOTOGRAPHY Chris Brudenell ADVERTISING SALES 07511 662566 ACCOUNTS 07511 662566 SUBSCRIPTIONS To subscribe for just £12 for 6 issues, contact us at CONTRIBUTORS Joe Ferridge | Eamonn Dorling | John McGinn | Westfield Nurseries | Anthony Austin | Mayur and Ubhi Mistry | Eva Jordan | Leanne Hyland | Robert Bull | Whittlesey Veterinary Centre | David White | Tia Henderson | Jade Hawkins DISTRIBUTION 9,100 copies printed monthly. Delivered to Whittlesey, Eastrea, Coates, Turves, Pondersbridge, Benwick, plus copies in March, Wisbech, Ramsey and Queensgate Shopping Centre @thefensmag thefensmag




Adam Frost 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 | February 2018



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HELP IS AT HAND TO GET HEALTHIER IN 2018 Fenland residents are being reminded about the district’s GP-supported exercise scheme to help people with various medical conditions kick-start a healthy New Year. Individuals with conditions such as diabetes, obesity and mental health are being urged to talk to their local health professional about the Exercise Referral scheme to support them to become more active and lead healthier lifestyles. Delivered by Fenland District Council’s New Vision Fitness leisure centres, Exercise Referral is a 12-week personalised fitness programme that can be prescribed by GPs and other health professionals to manage certain health conditions through exercise. Programmes may include exercise classes, gym-based workouts, water-based exercises and condition-specific sessions and can be undertaken at any of Fenland’s four leisure centres. Patients will have the help and guidance of specially-qualified exercise professionals throughout the course. In the last two years the programme has helped more than 300 people referred from local services, with the majority reporting that they felt healthier following the programme. Success stories include people helped back to fitness after operations and those who have gone from sedentary lifestyles to becoming active gym members. Councillor Mike Cornwell, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing, said: “The referral scheme supports us in our aim to reduce health inequalities in Fenland. It not only helps control some health conditions and limit the regression of illnesses but also reduces the number of visits needed to GPs and hospitals and reliance on medication, therefore reducing the cost to our NHS. “Being able to get out and use our leisure centres also enables patients to socialise and make new friends while improving their health.” Health professionals can refer patients over the age of 16 years of age with any of the following conditions: • Diabetes (Type 1 & 2) • Obesity (BMI > 30) • Cardiac Rehabilitation • Hypertension • Mental Health • Respiratory (including Asthma) • Smoking Cessation • Multiple Trauma/Injury • Muscular Skeletal • Neurological GPs and health professionals can also refer patients with other conditions that they feel would benefit from the programme. The Exercise Referral programme is subsidised by the Council and remains the cheapest way to access the leisure centres. It costs £24.50 a month on a three-month course agreement (normal anytime membership costs £40.50 a month), with no joining fee. Cllr Cornwell added: “We would urge anyone wanting to be referred to the programme to speak with their GP or health professional to discuss it in more detail. “We would also like to see more health professionals take advantage of the programme. The benefits for the health and well-being of our communities are numerous.” 8

The Fens | February 2018

NIGHT AT THE MOVIES ARRIVES ‘Great Nights Entertainment’ Soul, Motown and disco from the 60s, 70s and the 80s returns to the Ivy Leaf Club, Whittlesey on Saturday 17th February, with a new theme: “Night at The Movies”. So it’s time to dig out your best-loved film character, practise your impressions, and get set for another ‘Great Night’! Dressing for the occasion is, of course, completely optional, but prizes on the night will be given for the best dressed film character for an adult male and female. The music policy remains the same: Soul, Motown and disco from the 60s, 70s and the 80s, featuring DJs Ian Gray, John Bradley and Andy Coulson. If the music wasn’t enough, food, real ale and cocktails will be available via the Ivy Leaf Club throughout the evening. Tickets can now be purchased in advance via Once payment has been received, customers will be sent an e-ticket direct to your inbox. Alternatively tickets can still be purchased at the following venues: Larry’s Heel Bar, Broad St, Whittlesey The Ivy leaf Club, Gracious Street, Whittlesey,01733 202579 Bob’s Records, 2 Broad St, Whittlesey, Peterborough PE7 1HA, 07802 354220 Or by phone from Andy on 07941 629660. Tickets are £6 in advance or £8 on the door. The Great Nights Team thank you for your continued support and look forward to seeing you on the 17th of February 2018.

SISTERS COMES TO THE BROADWAY The Peterborough Revellers are looking forward to making their first appearance, in the Broadway Suite at the newly opened Broadway Theatre in Peterborough by staging a brand new comedy and becoming the  first amateur theatrical society to perform in this new exciting ‘cabaret’ style venue. The play, written and directed by local playwright Clive Read, is billed a ‘Supper Theatre’ with fish and chips brought to the tables during the interval. It’s called ‘SISTERS’ and is the story of a rough and ready working class family who find they are very closely related to the lady Prime Minister and an awful lot of nobility, resulting in hilarious circumstances. The local TV are on to it immediately and are there when the PM calls to meet her estranged family. The ‘world premiere’ of this highly amusing play runs nightly at 7.30 from Thursday 8th to Saturday 10th February. Tickets cost £12.50 and include the fish and chips. Phone the Theatre Box Office on 01733 306071 to book.



PETERBOROUGH TAKES THE BISCUIT! The Peterborough Biscuit is the business event that has taken our area by storm. Launched only last year, the event has attracted a phenomenal 130 exhibitors and over 1000 visitors, with impressive reviews from both visitors and exhibitors alike. The Biscuit for 2018 is back with a bang and is shaping up to be a colossal event. With up to 250 businesses in attendance and a forecast of 3000+ visitors, it will be the largest business exhibition in the eastern region in the last 10 years. 2018 sees the introduction of a retail area and entertainment in the form of reaction tests, driving simulators and a new mystery game. Live singers will also be at the event. Whether you have a business or not The Peterborough Biscuit is is for all. This isn’t just for Peterborough, this is for the people of East Anglia as well, so come along and have an experience like none before. The Peterborough Biscuit opens on Wednesday 7th February at 9am until 4:30pm at The East of England Arena & Events Centre.

As I have not done an article for a while I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year. I am now nine months into my term of office but unfortunately, I have not been able to attend as many events as I would have liked, due to health issues, but have been ably covered by the Deputy Mayor Councillor Julie Windle. Health aside, I have been able to carry out my role as a Town Councillor and I am very pleased to report that the Council will not be raising the Precept for 2018/19 and this means that a Band D property will be paying a few pence less than last year on Council Tax raised by Whittlesey Town Council. I believe this is something the Town Council can be proud of. As most people know, the Whittlesey Town Council have purchased the old Police Station and a firm of architects have been appointed, alterations will be taking place in the near future to fulfil the ambitions of the Town Council for a long-term asset for the Town. I have been involved with the replacement of the Kings Dyke Crossing from the outset, originally planned to be opened this year, and although I am no longer a County Councillor I have been informed is should be completed in 2019/2020!!!. Whittlesey Town Council have included in their 2018-2019 budget an amount for Youth Groups and others to apply for a grant that involves Whittlesey and our surrounding village residents and application forms can be obtained from the office in Grosvenor Road. Nominations are now open for ‘The Citizen’ and ‘Young Citizen’ of the year; all details may be found in a separate article within the magazine. The Mayor’s Charity Ball will be held on 24th March at the Manor Leisure Centre, my charities for this year are Coates Guides, The Scaldgate Club and the British Heart Foundation. The Annual Duck Race will be held on Monday 2nd April at 2pm, commencing at Whittlesey Vets Limited (Formerly ‘The Hero of Aliwal Public House’ Ramsey Road).

NEW LOCAL FARM SHOP, HARVEST BARN, OPENS ITS DOORS After months of hard work, Lynn and Stephen Briggs saw the opening of Harvest Barn. Situated on the road between Pondersbridge and Peterborough (Ramsey Road), the farm shop provides freshly dug vegetables, locally sourced meat, breads, jars, biscuits, chocolates plus Two Birds gin! If that wasn’t enough, there’s also an onsite cafe serving cakes and light lunches. “We were delighted to welcome lots of new customers to the Farmshop on our opening weekend of 13th /14th January,” Lynn said. “Customers gave us lovely feedback on the friendly atmosphere in the coffee shop, the good food and quality coffee. They also appreciated the range of fresh, local produce on offer and were pleased to see the food miles displayed. Many visitors said they had been watching the

build for months and were very happy that we have finally opened!” With exciting plans for the future, including developing their outside area, we’re sure Harvest Barn will become a new local favourite.

Harvest Barn Farmshop is situated on Ramsey Road, Farcet. Find out more by visiting or find them on Facebook and Twitter. The Fens | February 2018



WHITTLESEY NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW A NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN FOR WHITTLESEY PARISH The communities of Whittlesey and the villages (Eastrea, Coates, Turves and Pondersbridge) are in the process of producing a Neighbourhood Plan. A Neighbourhood Plan allows people to have a say over the development that takes place in their area by setting out their own planning policies that are used to decide whether to approve or refuse planning applications. The document is written by members of the local community who know and love the area, rather than the Local Planning Authority. Neighbourhood Plans are a powerful tool –they are already affecting planning decisions all over the country! PROGRESS SO FAR We’re making great progress on the Neighbourhood Plan and engaging with the community every step of the way. The Neighbourhood Plan process is being led by members of Town Council with support from URBED, a Manchester based Urban Design company. Back in March 2017 a questionnaire was delivered to every household in the Parish to gather the thoughts of this community – we got some fantastic responses and ideas about important issues facing the Parish. The next stage was to hold a community workshop, which we ran last November at the Whittlesey Christian Church. The purpose of the workshop was to build on results of the survey to develop a vision for the future of this area and to set some objectives for what the Neighbourhood Plan should be trying to achieve with its policies. You can find the results of both the questionnaire and the workshop on

the Whittlesey Town Council web page. PLANNING AND NON-PLANNING MATTERS One thing that is important to remember is that Neighbourhood Plan policies can only deal with the development and use of land. This is because the Neighbourhood Plan will become part of the development plan on which planning permissions will be decided. Because of this Neighbourhood Plans can’t do much to address non-planning matters like litter or policing. However, the process of producing a Neighbourhood Plan can really inspire people and local businesses to think about ways of improving their neighbourhood. Aspirations can also be turned into valid policies by looking at them differently. For example a desire for improved public transport could turn into a policy requiring new development to be close to bus stops, potentially increasing the number of users and prompting service improvements. URBED took the responses from the last workshop and re-framed them as suggested policies as a starting point for the next stage: • More local autonomy/engagement • Require more/better consultation • Policy to prevent developers challenging CIL/S106/Affordable housing • Mechanism to spend S106 locally • More developer contributions/ infrastructure to support development • Transport strategy • Design policy • Allocate land for industrial uses • Stronger policy on flood zone development • Policy on location of new development

• Policy on parking provision for new development • Policy on housing mix • Arts and leisure policy • Encourage a Supermarket • Engage with developers • Heritage protection policy • Highways policy • Allocate land for housing • Housing density policy • Strategy to provide adequate infrastructure • Landscape/biodiversity protection • Policy on back garden development • Sustainability policy for new homes • Policy to support business • Village separation policy THE NEXT STAGE AND HOW TO GET INVOLVED! The next step of the Neighbourhood Plan process is really important and we want as many people as possible to get involved and give us their views. We will be running a workshop on Saturday 24th February at Whittlesey Christian Church to actually develop draft policies for the Neighbourhood Plan. We understand that this is not familiar territory for most people so URBED will be on hand to give some training, guide you through the process and make sense of the results! Full details of the workshop will be on the Town Council website, , the Neighbourhood Plan Twitter feed @ WhittleseyNP and advertised locally so keep your eyes peeled for more information soon! To find out more and to get involved visit and follow us on Twitter @WhittleseyNP or contact Whittlesey Town Council at Grosvenor House, Grosvenor Road, Whittlesey, PE7 1AQ

WHITTLESEY STRUMMERS ENTERTAIN Back in December, members of the Whittlesey ‘Strum for Fun’ ukulele group were invited to perform for the residents of Aliwal Manor Residential home. They played and sang a wide range of well-known songs, often with some of the enthusiastic audience joining in. ‘Jingle Bells’ went down particularly well, with residents accompanying with a variety of percussion instruments, including bongos, tambourines and bells for the second 10 The Fens | February 2018

rendition - and even a demanding a third! The session was well received by residents and staff alike, who have invited the group back again in the future. Ukulele ‘strum for fun’ meet on the first and third Tuesday at the Ram pub, Whittlesey 7-9pm. Call Chris on 07960 316724 for further information. New members always welcome. Picture shows the group at Aliwal Manor, courtesy of The Studio.










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February is the month of romance, and what better way to spend some time with your loved ones than to whisk them off for night away. And it turns out you don’t have to go far to find a romantic hotel STRATTONS HOTEL When you think of boutique hotels, it’s impossible not to mention Strattons Hotel. Set in the historic market town of Swaffham, this independent and family-run establishment ticks every

box. The hotel offers accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as traditional Norfolk afternoon tea, with pet friendly, child friendly and family friendly bedrooms. It has even won awards, including ‘Best Small UK Hotel’ from International Hotel 12 The Fens | February 2018

Awards. Impressive! Treat your loved one to night at Strattons and you can relax in an individual room where art, design, luxury and comfort feature strongly throughout. Their award-winning restaurant and on site cafe offer plenty of choices and you can even take your dog, with the choice of three dog-friendly rooms. A stay at Strattons might set you back a few pounds, but it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Strattons Hotel, Restaurant & CoCoes Cafe Deli, 4 Ash Close, Swaffham, Norfolk PE37 7NH Find out more at strattonshotel. com or by calling 01760 723845.

Worth a VISIT We’re spoilt with lots of lovely places to visit. Here’s a small selection of some of our top romantic picks of places to enjoy this month:

POETS HOUSE With a name like that, how can you not be swept up by the romance of this historic hotel in the heart of Ely. Mixing old with contemporary interiors, Poets House in a hotel and restaurant with a real charm. Originally consisting of three Grade-IIlisted properties of the early 1900s and the home of a renowned local author, Poets House is a uniquely stylish hotel, restaurant and events venue. Coupling the buildings’ original charm with stunningly innovative interiors, Poets House affords guests the perfect blend of luxury and comfort. Ely itself makes a wonderful city to visit for a long weekend. Known as the ‘Ship of the Fens’, the cathedral city has plenty to offer visitors, including Oliver Cromwell’s house, a picturesque riverside, plenty of shops and the home of Ely Gin! A day in one of Poets Houses’s 21 bedrooms, provides the perfect place to relax after a long day exploring Ely. Indulge in a little bit of luxury with their period features and stunning views or relax in one of their iconic copper baths and perhaps enjoy a chilled glass of bubbly. Somebody book me

a room today! Poets House Hotel, 40 St Mary Street, Ely CB7 4EY. For more information or to contact the hotel, please call 01353 887777, email reception@poetshouse. or visit

PECKOVER HOUSE, WISBECH 2018 marks 70 years since the death of Alexandrina Peckover, the sale of the contents of the House and the property coming under the ownership of the National Trust. To mark this occasion, the team have worked with Trust New Art, East Anglian Art Fund and the Arts Council with the artist Aid and Abet on a special project that will see the house reinterpreted for this season. The celebrations start on February 24th between 11:45 - 14:45, but run on many days afterwards. Usual admission fees apply, although the event itself is free. Visit their website for full details: SIBSON INN HOTEL, PETERBOROUGH This year, the team behind Sibson Inn Hotel are hosting a special Valentine’s week, running from February 14th to February 17th. Experience an intimate candlelit dinner in their 16th century restaurant and treat yourself to an overnight stay at the same time. Bookings can be made online, or by calling 01780 782227 SNOWDROP SUNDAYS, DEENE PARK February is also the month for catching the first glimpse of snowdrops, and one of the best places to see them is at Deene Park in Corby. Opening on special Sundays on February 18th and 25th between 12 and 4pm, visitors are invited to enjoy a walk through the blankets of snowdrops which cover the woods. Warm up afterwards in the onsite tea room for homemade cakes and warming tea or coffee. Admission is £5 for adults and free for children under 16. Remember to wrap up warm though! For more information call 01780 450278 or visit:

The Fens | February 2018



Poets House Hotel and Restaurant, located in the heart of historic Ely, blends old period charm with a stunningly innovative interior. Our luxurious 21 suites, fabulous food and great service makes Poets House the perfect location for business travel, weekend breaks and celebrations in Cambridgeshire.

Poets House, located in the heart of historic Ely, blends old period charm with a stunningly innovative interior. Our luxurious suites, fabulous food and great service makes our hotel the perfect location for business travel, weekend breaks and celebrations in Cambridgeshire. Stay in one of our luxurious suites with stunning views. Relax in our Study Bar, catching up with friends for afternoon tea or a decadent cocktail. Dine in our stunning Dining Room where you will be served a great selection of seasonal dishes, using fresh and locally sourced ingredients. We look to welcoming you toour Poets House. For moreforward information please contact team on 01353 887777 e-mail or visit , 40 St Mary Street, Ely CB7 4EY.

The Dining Room at Poets offers a creative menu of classic dishes with inventive flourishes - prices for dinner from £25.00 for two courses and Sunday roast lunch from £15.00 for one course. For a more relaxed offering, the Study Lounge is available for light snacks, sandwiches and tapas. The Study Lounge is the perfect spot to catch up with friends For more information please contact our team on 01353 887777, during the day for an afternoon tea or in the evening for an e-mail or visit expertly made cocktail. We look forward to welcoming you to Poets House Hotel and Restaurant.





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The Fens | February 2018


An interview with

ADAM FROST WORDS NATASHA SHIELS IMAGES CHRIS BRUDENELL Living in Lincolnshire with his family, dog and a rather splendid garden, we discovered the real Adam Frost behind the BBC Gardeners’ World presenter, his journey into horticulture and plans for the future It’s not often that we’re a bit starstruck, but waiting to meet Adam Frost, best known for his appearances on the BBCs Gardeners’ World, I was a tad nervous. Adam is an RHS Ambassador, author and television presenter. He travels the world designing gardens and speaking on a wide variety of horticultural topics, whilst managing his own design business. Adam has also won seven gold medals at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Last year he set up The Adam Frost Garden School at his home in Lincolnshire. It was here that we met Adam over a nice cup of tea. HOW DID YOU START YOUR CAREER IN HORTICULTURE? It’s not an obvious story. I was moved from just outside North London to North Devon when I was just 15 - and that didn’t go down well. My last years in school weren’t the best and I left home at 16 and got a job on a parks department. It all started off by limited options but I loved the countryside in Devon. I was one of those kids that they said: ‘Join the army or you could be chef.’ I was interviewed on a parks department and the two chaps felt sorry for me and took me on. The two foremen put an arm around me and gave me this amazing apprenticeship. We learnt how to build a stonewall, grow 200,000 bedding plants to digging a grave! At that time, I wanted to get away 16 The Fens | February 2018

from Devon so I moved back to London and trained as a landscape designer. YOU STARTED WORKING AT GEOFF HAMILTON’S GARDEN IN BARNSDALE WHEN YOU WERE 21, HOW DID THAT EXPERIENCE INSPIRE YOU? At that period there was a recession hitting and families in London weren’t spending money on their gardens. I started to look for a job and had an interview with Geoff. I think I was quite lucky that Gardeners’ World was on at night and I was 21, so I didn’t really watch it, because if I had really known what I was walking into and who I was meeting, I’d have been a nervous wreck!

I was blown away by not only this man’s garden, but the more I understood about him, it was his passion for gardening and a passion to get a nation to garden From there, I thought I knew a little bit about plants, but in reality I knew what the council grew. I was blown away by not only this man’s garden, but the more I understood about him, it was his passion for gardening and a passion to get a nation to garden. Five million people watched Gardeners’ World then, and he had this ability to communicate to them. The ladies liked his twinkle and the men felt he was alright because you could have a pint with him and

chat about gardening - it gives me goosebumps just talking about him. It was Geoff who set me off in design, he was the first person I really put up on a pedestal and the first man who I really admired. The whole experience was humbling, but at 21, you don’t really appreciate it at the time. But I worked hard for him and he rewarded me in lots of different ways. SO HE WAS CRUCIAL TO YOUR CAREER? Oh yes! You look today and what’s becoming mainstream, such as organics, and Geoff was doing all that stuff 21 years ago. He was a man completely ahead of his time, but I don’t think he was aware of it, he was just getting on with it. IN 2013 YOU HELPED SET UP THE HOMEBASE GARDEN ACADEMY WHICH ENABLES HOMEBASE’S YOUNG EMPLOYEES TO TAKE THE RHS LEVEL 1 AWARD, WHY DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? It was actually born out of me moaning. I was at Chelsea the year before and I did a garden for them, and I was being asked to do another garden the following year. I was in a shed and it was pouring with rain, and I said that if I was to do another one, it would have to be different. I was talking about the lack of young people getting into horticulture and out of an hour conversation this academy was born. The idea was to give kids an opportunity. We started

The Fens | February 2018


with 12 and they had a 12 month experience and a job in horticulture. Over three years it grew to 80, but changes in Homebase have meant the academy is being restructured with a new sponsor. Out of everything I’ve done, I feel most proud about the academy. The pride comes from the opportunities it has given young people, some of whom work for me here still. One of the girls from the academy, who also worked here, helped design the Radio 2 garden at Chelsea. Watching her there, it felt bigger than me being there. She’s on her own journey, and to have played a small part in that makes me feel incredibly proud. IT’S LIKE YOU’RE GIVING SOMETHING BACK? I think exactly that, not in a “holier than thou”, but I’m in a position now where I can, so why not? SINCE 2014 YOU HAVE BEEN AN RHS AMBASSADOR, HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED IN THIS? They approached me, which is a miracle considering what I sound like! Again it was to do with the young people - I had the academy, and they asked if I could come and talk to secondary schools. The problem is that for some young people, it’s not cool to be a gardener. It was looking at ways to tell kids that it is a great industry - a great career. From my personal story, a 15-year-old who sat there, who didn’t care about academics, it shows that there is hope for something else. Our industry is massive, horticulture is a huge thing, especially for places like the Fens, and what it brings to the country in terms of revenue, it’s so important. YOU HAVE WON SEVEN GOLD MEDALS AT RHS CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW, WITH YOUR LAST BEING IN 2015. DO YOU HAVE PLANS TO ENTER ANY MORE? I promised my wife that I wouldn’t! I don’t know, maybe I will at some point. There’s a drawer full of ideas that’s behind my desk, but whether one of those turns into a Chelsea garden, I don’t know. But it’s nice going to Chelsea and not actually designing a garden, but stand in front of the camera and then go home! WHAT’S THE BUILD UP TO CHELSEA LIKE? It takes months and it hurts! The big gardens take 19 days to build, but in total it’s around 100 working days out of the year to plan and organise. I’ve traveled the world and done gardens all over, but the standard at Chelsea is incredible. THIS YEAR YOU OPENED YOUR GARDEN SCHOOL AT YOUR HOME IN LINCOLNSHIRE, WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO DO THIS? A dream, I suppose, and my wife 18 The Fens | February 2018

convincing me to move here, which scared me a little. There appears to be a real fear factor when it comes to gardening and that stops people from engaging properly. The way that we teach is in a way that engages, but it’s also about design and a different way of looking at your garden. I don’t think it has to be complicated, you can break design down and make it far easier to understand. WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FROM WHEN YOU ARE DESIGNING LANDSCAPES? All around. It’s about looking and engaging, it could be a wider landscape, a piece of architecture or a person. It’s about looking and finding inspiration all around. But gardens really are about people. So when you’re designing a garden, you are designing something for them, and how you draw the information from them to create a space they

want to be. Each of my designs is unique and different, and they are about the people who live in them. Gardens, after all, are an extension of our homes. YOU HAVE DESIGNED NUMEROUS GARDENS BOTH IN THE UK AND ABROAD, DO YOU HAVE A PARTICULAR FAVOURITE? That’s a bit like asking if I have a favourite child! Actually I do have a favourite child, but it changes depending on which one is behaving! I’m totally in love with this place though, and how I’m going to change it. All my gardens carry a memory. But my favourite Chelsea garden was 2014 because it was really personal one. YOU ARE A DESIGNER, WRITER, TV PRESENTER, TEACHER AND A GARDENER, WHICH DO YOU ENJOY THE MOST? My biggest problem is all of it [he chuckles] - I’m at that stage when

Adam Frost’s winning design at Chelsea in 2014 I have to make some decisions as to which ones I can continue. I love doing it all, even presenting, which I’ve come to enjoy. What I do love about presenting is going off and having some fun with the crew. The reaction of people is great. It’s an exciting year ahead for the school, which last year went better than we could have hoped for. DO YOU GET NOTICED A LOT NOW? Yes, the time I could nip out for a quiet beer has gone! But it’s a privilege, you get to be in people’s houses on a Friday night and the BBC want me to do more this year, so I’m very lucky. ARE THERE ANY EMERGING TRENDS FOR GARDEN DESIGN FOR 2018? More than anything, especially with the amount of uncertainty, people need to engage more with their gardens. When we get difficult times, people go back to their homes where they feel safe. As for trends, everything comes in and out, for example dahlias and lupins are cool again! WHICH GARDEN SHOW ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2018, AND IF YOU COULD RECOMMEND JUST ONE, WHICH SHOULD WE VISIT AND WHY? For me, it’s Chelsea, but I love it because I know everyone and it’s an annual get-together. As far as going to shows, the one I really enjoyed last year was Gardeners’ World Live at Birmingham. The marquees were really good, and now food has been added to the show, it’s great for families. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A NOVICE GARDENER OR SOMEONE CONSIDERING A CAREER IN HORTICULTURE? For the novice gardener I would say to just not worry about it, gardening is not as complicated as it’s sometimes

made out. You could start by growing a few bits around the house in pots, or try growing potatoes in a container or sowing seeds that are simple to grow. Start to think about your garden as a social space rather than a list of jobs. Spending half an hour or an hour gardening is also a great way to get fit! For someone wanting to get into horticulture, I’d say if you have an interest, just go for it. Go and get some experience working in a garden or garden centre, the industry is crying out for people. IF YOU’RE GARDENING ON A BUDGET WHAT WOULD BE YOUR TOP 3 TIPS? 1. Spend your money on bits you are going to see everyday. 2. Invest your money on plants that are going to come back each year, perennial planting or nice shrubs. Think about your garden over a long period of time rather than buying pretty plants that won’t last. 3. Sowing seeds is a great way to stretch your money. WHAT GARDEN IN THE UK WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO VISIT? One of my favourite places is a National Trust property called Packwood House. I also love Barnsdale because of Geoff. But any garden that’s open will give you ideas. Some of the best ideas are the gardens grown by amateurs that have got hooked into gardening. IF YOU HAD A SMALL GARDEN BUT WANTED TO GROW VEGETABLES WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE? Grow vegetables in containers outside your back door. Either do something simple to grow with your children, such as potatoes, or start to grow high value vegetables, such as asparagus that come back each year. WHO IS YOUR GARDENING HERO? Geoff, of course. But if I had to pick

©National Trust Images/ Chris Lacey

©National Trust Images/Oskar Proctor one more I’d pick Roy Lancaster who has a scary knowledge of plants. He’s also been really supportive of me when I first started in television. He was a man I was in complete awe of. FINALLY, WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THE AREA? I’ve always been in the area, since I moved to Barnsdale when I was 21. I think it’s got everything you could want - Stamford is beautiful and it’s really easy to get to London on the train. But I think we should just not tell anyone, and keep our beautiful area our little secret... The Adam Frost Garden School is now taking places for 2018 courses. There’s a variety of different courses to suit all levels, including single and two-day courses with Adam. His first masterclass begins in March, so book early if you want to avoid disappointment. Find out more by visiting With thanks to Adam Frost and the National Trust. To find out more about visiting their gardens, including Packwood House, please visit The Fens | February 2018


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YOUR GARDEN IN February If you’re a keen gardener February is a month filled with anticipation. The first signs of life are beginning to emerge as plants shake off their winter dormancy and wildlife begins to wake. Light levels are increasing, temperatures are rising and splashes of colour are beginning to creep back into the garden. Spring is on its way and there is plenty of preparation to do.

Plant of the month: Camellia

3 ESSENTIAL GARDENING JOBS FOR FEBRUARY PRUNE LATE FLOWERING PLANTS Prune late flowering shrubs such as fuchsia, hydrangea, buddleja and ceanothus. Using sharp secateurs, cut just above an outward pointing bud. Aim to remove about a third of the height of the shrub and try to maintain an even shape. Check other shrubs and remove any dead, diseased or damaged branches to keep the plant healthy. Try to avoid pruning early flowering shrubs until after they have flowered. GIVE THE LAWN A LIGHT MOW If the weather is warm you may need to start mowing. Set the cutting height on your mower to its maximum and only mow when it’s dry. Re-cutting

lawn edges will also give an instant lift to the appearance of the garden. PLANT SHRUBS AND TREES February is the ideal time to plant new shrubs and trees while they are still in their dormant state. Make sure the ground is not frozen or water logged before planting. Stakes and rabbit guards should be put in place at the time of planting to prevent damage to the root ball or bark. It’s also a good idea to check ties and stakes on existing plants and replace, tighten or slacken where necessary. Enjoy your garden!

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WHY SHOULD YOU PLANT THEM? Welcome in the spring with Camellias – these hardy shrubs have glossy evergreen leaves and display flowers that brighten up the winter garden and herald the end of winter. An early riser in terms of plants waking up from the winter snooze, Camellias burst into flower in February just as the rest of the garden is starting to blink its eyes at the sunshine. HOW SHOULD YOU PLANT THEM? Camellias are easy to grow and flower reliably – the most important thing is choosing the right spot. Although a hardy shrub, their flower buds are susceptible to frost once they start to develop so plant in a sheltered spot and wrap with fleece when frost is forecast. Camellias like to grow in acidic soil so need planting with ericaceous compost. Feed with ericaceous plant food to keep the leaves glossy and green and water well once the flower buds appear – although the flowers wont break until February, the buds will begin to develop in autumn.

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The Fens | February 2018



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As well as enjoying a ride on Thomas, kids and adults alike can shop at Wansford for those essential Thomas and other railway gifts, discover the children’s play area at Wansford, enjoy refreshments from their café while watching the trains and ducks at our riverside picnic area. You can also break your journey at Overton and visit Ferry Meadows country park. There’s also a buffet car on the train for snacks and refreshments. No booking is required. For more information please visit www.nvr. or call 01780 784444.



DAILY, FEB 12 - FEB 16 FLAG FEN £22 per child per day, or £90 per week. Sibling discounts available. Vivacity return with their fantastic activity club, back at Flag Fen for February half term and Easter. For kids aged 8 – 12, it’s a great opportunity to get involved in fun activities, make new friends and try something new. Your budding archaeologist will be able to get hands-on in the Big Dig Tent, handle artefacts, explore the Bronze Age landscape and wildlife, try new crafts and lots more! Visit for the detailed timetables. Booking is essential, please call Peterborough Museum on 01733 864663.


Join Thomas on his Half Term Specials as he pulls the train through the tunnel to Yarwell and back, then enjoy a little nostalgia with a trip along the picturesque Nene Valley from the comfort of the carriages, pulled behind a Steam Locomotive. Thomas will haul the train to Yarwell and back only at 10:00, 11:45 & 14:00 22 The Fens | February 2018

Venture outdoors and join us for a wild half term at Sacrewell. Explore our wildlife trail and meet our new Suffolk Punch horses. Why not warm yourself up and toast a marshmallow by campfire, or try one of our blacksmithing taster sessions. To find out more about the farm’s half term activities, please call 01780 782254 or visit


DAILY, FEB 10 – 18 10AM - 2:30PM Get your kids outside with these trail sheets from Nene Park. Collect a trail sheet from the Visitor Centre before hunting for the clues as you walk around Ferry Meadows. Return to the Visitor Centre to claim your prize. The sheets cost just £1 and there’s no need to book. With great play areas, a cafe and restaurant and miles of beautiful park to explore, there’s something for the whole family. Find out more by visiting www. or telephone 01733 234193.

MOSAIC WORKSHOPS FEB 14 & 16 10AM - 12:30PM For something a bit more crafty, Ramsey Library are hosting two mosaic workshops with Carolyn Ash. Tickets are just £3 (or £1 for concessions). Advance booking through the library is required. Visit Ramsey Library at 25, Great Whyte, Ramsey.

The Fens | February 2018


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This month’s book review What we’re


Mother by S. E. Lynes; Bookouture Mother is a dark psychological thriller that takes place in Leeds in the UK during the late 70s, early 80s, set against the backdrop of the true life murders taking place in the area at that time by serial killer, Peter Sutcliffe, dubbed by the press as the Yorkshire Ripper. Written in the third person by an unknown narrator, Mother tells the story of 18-year-old Christopher Harris just as he is about to leave home and set off for university. However, before he does so, Christopher discovers a letter that sets off a chain of events that will change his life forever. Christopher Harris is socially awkward, which may in part be attributed to his age, but is also perhaps related to his upbringing. It is obvious Christopher is loved and cared for by his parents, but it is also clear they are not particularly demonstrative. As a result, Christopher has always felt different, like a bit of an outsider. “Not that Jack and Margaret Harris were bad people. They were what you’d call traditional, but like all parents they did their best.” So when Christopher discovers a letter in a battered old suitcase in the loft he is surprised, but not unduly perturbed, to find that unlike his younger brother and sister, he was adopted by his parents when he was a baby. The first half of the book then sees Christopher settling into student life at university alongside the search for his birth mother, whom he discovers and makes contact with quite quickly. Our verdict… The story rapidly picks up pace in the second half and although initially quite to slow to start and perhaps, like some reviewers have stated, the first couple of chapters are slightly confusing, I would implore readers to stick with this story. Brilliantly written, this is a dark coming of age story that explores the basic human need to assimilate, to somehow ‘fit in’ and belong – sometimes at any cost. It is also a story about obsession, both for the things we want in life and for the life we believe we are entitled to. The characters are well developed and although it would be fair to describe Christopher as creepy, the author also does a brilliant job of showing the reader just how vulnerable he is at times, too. Lynes’ use of language is wonderfully descriptive and emotive and I loved being reminded of the music, fashion and culture of my own formative years. If you like creepy psychological thrillers with some dark twists and turns, then this is a must read.

FABULOUS FEBUARY Makeup Artist Tia reveals her top tips for a flawless ‘no makeup’ finish Have you ever wondered how people achieved perfect, flawless skin? Looking like they don’t even have any makeup on? That “No Makeup, Makeup” look that no one can achieve? Let me tell you all my tips that I have learnt so that you can achieve a flawless finish, every day! Tip 1 – SKINCARE Looking after your skin is key to a flawless base; you can use your makeup to cover any marks or imperfections, but it can’t take away the texture left by a blemish or dry skin! Making sure you have the right skincare routine and are consistent is really going to help you achieve flawless skin! Tip 2 – THE PERFECT MATCH Are you sure that your foundation is the right colour for you? A tip to getting the right match is to test on the cheek, down the jawline and onto the neck. This will help you achieve a “No Makeup, Makeup” as the foundation you will use will blend perfectly into the skin and look very natural. Tip 3 – REMOVE ANY IMPERFECTIONS Ensure you are picking the right colours to help disguise and cover any imperfections you may have, whether they are dark circles under your eyes, blemishes or dark spots! Most of the top makeup brands now offer colour correcting palettes which have all the colours you might need in one handy palette. Make sure you set your corrected areas with translucent powder before applying concelear or more foundation, this stops the colour blending into the concealer or foundation. Tip 4 – SET WHERE NECESSARY We don’t want to look like we have very oily skin, but for a “No Makeup, Makeup” look we don’t want our whole face to be matte. The key areas to apply powder to are under the eye and the T-Zone. This leaves the skin with a dewy finish in other areas for a very natural finish If you would like to know more information on how I can help you become more confident with your makeup, please email or call 07495 784689.

By Eva Jordan The Fens | February 2018



WHAT ACTUALLY IS SCIATICA? Sciatica is a common problem, but can be easily misdiagnosed. This article will identify the key symptoms of sciatica and why they occur.


High caffeine energy drinks are everywhere these days. Cheap, brightly coloured cans, packed with caffeine and sugar are available for as little as 25p in most shops and supermarkets. Many of us may be guilty of turning to caffeine to get us up in the morning or perk us up during workday lows, but as long as we stay within recommended limits (2-3 cups of coffee per day) this doesn’t have any real effect on our health. However, the limits for children are vastly different and the cheap availability of energy drinks is becoming a massive concern. Jamie Oliver, a long time campaigner for children’s health, has recently turned his attention to this very issue. When we consider that there are no age restrictions on purchasing energy drinks, and it is estimated that 25% of last year’s £2 billion sales were purchased by children under the age of 16, that we begin to realise this is a big



problem. One can of energy drink can contain 160mg of caffeine, whereas the safe daily limit for children is 105mg. Symptoms such as abdominal pain, insomnia, and headaches are becoming increasingly reported in secondary schools, and doctors have even linked hallucinations, convulsions and caffeine poisoning to excessive consumption of energy drinks amongst teenagers. We also need to factor in the high sugar levels and nutritionally void calories that these drinks carry, and the effect this is having on childhood obesity rates. There is a big concern that we are creating a generation of caffeine addicts who experience a vicious cycle of super highs and then lethargic lows, following a recent study showing that children as young as 11 now use energy drinks on a regular basis. Two national supermarkets have begun to place age restrictions on energy drinks, and hopefully more will follow suit. But as always with matters of nutrition and health, each of us has a responsibility to question everything we consume and not just accept that because it is cheap and readily available that it is the right thing to be putting into our bodies, especially when these products are accessible to, and often targeted at children.

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FIRSTLY, WHY THE TERM SCIATICA? The answer is simple. Sciatica defines an irritation of the sciatic nerve. The nerve comes from the lower back and runs deep to the buttock muscles, before sheltering under the hamstring muscle as it passes down the back of the thigh. At the back of the knee, it branches into two and runs down the outside and back of the lower leg respectively, and ends in the foot (see illustration). It is the largest nerve in the lower extremity and supplies the majority of the structures. To give you a sense of its size, if you imagine the main nerves in the body having a diameter of tree branches then the equivalent diameter of the sciatic nerve would be that of the tree trunk. SO HOW DOES THE SCIATIC NERVE BECOME IRRITATED? The two most common ways are compression and / or chemical irritation. Compression is simply extra mechanical pressure placed on the nerve by the surrounding structures. Usually surrounding tissues will simply slide past each other during movement. However, if a surrounding tissue is tight or damaged, it may take up more space (as a result of swelling for example) and thus squeeze the sciatic nerve. Chemical irritation results from the chemicals released during inflammation. One of the roles of these chemicals is to sensitize the local nerves to induce pain. Therefore,

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if the surrounding tissue is damaged [or indeed the sciatic nerve itself], then the resulting inflammation will chemically irritate the sciatic nerve. Both of these processes will alter the conduction of the sciatic nerve. When there is a low intensity compression, or chemical irritation, the sciatic nerve will produce pain along part or the whole of its pathway. As the compression or irritation increases in intensity, the functionality of the sciatic nerve will be compromised. This results in pins/needles, numbness or weakness in the muscles along the sciatic nerve pathway. So therein lies the symptoms of sciatica, back pain with a altered sensation into the buttock, posterior thigh or leg and foot. When the sciatic nerve is weakly compromised, it will produce pain in the named distribution, but as the severity increases it will also produce pins/needles, numbness or weakness.

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Did you know indoor air is typically 2-5 times more contaminated than the air outside? Most people spend about 90% of their time indoors. There is a wide range of short term and long term health effects from indoor pollution from cleaning agents, furnishings, cooking, beauty products and many other sources. The air we breathe undoubtedly impacts our health, but I guess most of us don’t think about it- I certainly did not until about a year ago. The Puritii Air Purification System: •Is portable, high-capacity, quick and effective •Suitable for your home or office •Removes all three pollutant

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Get in touch

Katy Huett, Ariix Representative Email: Tel: 07847 517343 Facebook page: Healthy and Happy with Katy

Plotter or Panster Local author and mother of two EVA JORDAN shares her musings Last month you may remember I interviewed writer, Heidi Swain, who sets most of her novels in fictional Fenland towns. One of the questions I asked Heidi was, what one piece of advice would you offer any would be writers out there? Heidi’s response was simple but honest: “If you want to be a writer, write. If you put it off until you ‘have more time’ you’ll never put pen to paper. Stop procrastinating and make a start.” Wise words indeed. However, if your New Year’s resolution was to do just that, and assuming you’ve got that far, you probably know by now whether you are a plotter or a panster. However, if you haven’t heard these terms before and have no idea what plotting or pansting is, read on. A plotter is someone who plans their novel before they write it. Famous writers generally regarded as plotters include, J.K. Rowling, R.L. Stine (of the famous Goosebumps books), Sylvia Plath and John Grisham. Grisham states, “I don’t start a novel until I have lived with the story for a while to the point of actually writing an outline and after a number of books I’ve learned that the more time I spend on the outline the easier the book is to write. And if I cheat on the outline I get in trouble with the book.” Pros: Having planned their novel beforehand, plotters know what’s going to happen before they write it. This makes it easier to bust writer’s block. Cons: Plotters can become confined to their plans, and if they do get stuck or want to change something, it often means having to redo their whole outline. A panster, like its name suggests, is usually someone who flies by the seat of his or her pants. They have some vague idea about a story, or a main character, or even just an opening line, but nothing comes to life for a panster until they actually sit down to write. Famous writers who regard themselves as pansters include Stephen King, Pierce Brown, Elizabeth Haynes and Margaret Atwood, to name but a few. Atwood starts with “an image, scene, or voice…I couldn’t write the other way round with structure first. It would be too much like paint-by-numbers.” Pros: Pantsers have the freedom to take their novel in any direction they want. They have flexibility. Cons: Having very little, or no plan, makes it easier to get stuck. I generally regard myself as a “planster” as I suspect most writers do, which basically means, I’m a little of both. However some writers tend to lean heavily towards one or the other, and I definitely lean more towards panster than plotter. Which one are you? The Fens | February 2018




Homemade, hand-crafted and personally selected, Walnut Tree Designs in Ramsey showcases some of the best local talent around WORDS NATASHA SHIELS IMAGES CHRIS BRUDENELL

Mother and daughter team, Gill and Lindsay, are the proud owners of Walnut Tree Designs, a beautiful shop ideally situated on Ramsey’s main high street. Having opened just November of last year, the girls have grown from a few local crafters, to showcasing over 35 different artists, designers and crafts people. So how did Walnut Tree Designs grow? With over 55 years’ of joint teaching experience, the chance came last year for both Gill and Lindsay to utilise that expertise and fulfil a lifelong ambition of running a business that allowed them to both showcase local crafts people as well as sell their own designs. “For the last five years we have successfully sold our handmade items online and at numerous craft fairs.” the mother and daughter duo explained, “but an opportunity arose to take on a shop and we felt that if we didn’t try now, we’d always wonder, what if...” Following encouragement from their customers, Gill and Lindsay chose their home town to give something back to their local community. “Our shop is a totally independent outlet, which aims to celebrate, showcase and sell handmade, bespoke items. Alongside our own products, we have 28 The Fens | February 2018

invited a range of Cambridgeshire artists, designers and crafts people to display their work.” Amongst these we spotted the work of Hannah Gilbert, Caroline Muckle’s Simply Hammered Jewellery and artist James Green, who appeared on our front cover last month. There’s beautiful crochet brooches and hats, glass key rings, necklaces and door stops. Many of

the crafts people are able to produce bespoke and personalised items, such as wooden beer crates which can be engraved. It’s the kind of treasure trove that you can spend hours in, looking through beautifully crafted items and falling in love with them all. “People still love actually looking at items, rather than looking online,” added Gill, herself a semi-retired art

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teacher. “Sometimes our customers come in looking for a gift for a loved one, and we’re able to suggest particular pieces through our knowledge and expertise.” In the future, Gill and her daughter would love to run classes in the shop, bringing in the crafts people they’ve met along the way to share their knowledge. But for now, Walnut Tree Designs is keeping them busy, both through their loyal customers old and new, and with replenishing items that have already sold. During our visit, the duo were busily crafting together vintage buttons into hearts ready for Valentine’s Day. So if you’re wondering what to get your loved one this month, or looking ahead to Mothering Sunday, why not

pay a visit to Walnut Tree Designs? Not only will you be supporting local crafters, but you will also find unique gifts not available anywhere else on the high street. The shop is also wheelchair and pushchair accessible. Walnut Tree Designs can be found at 2 Great Whyte, Ramsey PE26 1HA. There’s plenty of free parking around and some lovely places to stop for a cup of tea and slice of cake afterwards. You can also browse their Folksy and Etsy shop online, or find Walnut Tree Designs on Facebook and Instagram. They’re well worth a follow on social media so you can be first to spot a treasure going into the shop!

“Since opening the shop, we have had an overwhelming response from the local community, who have informed us how pleased they are to find items which are handmade and different ”

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The Fens | February 2018


Accounting for your success

Can we be a nation of shopkeepers again? Asks Whiting & Partners Managing Partner, Mark Haydon Have a stroll through the streets of our Fenland market towns Ramsey, March, Chatteris, Whittlesey and Wisbech. You’ll see they have more in common than just the geographic location. There are empty shops and retail units a plenty and the figures are likely to increase. I ask myself, who would be a shopkeeper when the sector is struggling through some of the toughest times in its history? Retail sales are down and just before Christmas a local furniture manufacturer went into administration threatening the loss of hundreds of jobs; an international toy retailer said 25 stores, some in this region, would be closing and a major groceries wholesaler announced the loss of 2,500 jobs. Two years ago, the government called for Britain to become a ‘nation of shopkeepers’ again.

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Since then many issues have militated against that wish. Inflation, business rates, employment term changes and of course, the greatest spectre of all, internet shopping. As I write, taxation of sugary drinks to tackle obesity is being introduced.

March Office The Old School House, Dartford Road, March, Cambridgeshire. PE15 8AE Telephone: 01354 652304

Medical and social impacts apart, it’s another burden for our local community stores and high street businesses to face possibly by increasing their prices to meet the so called ‘sugar tax’. Owners are already scrutinising their operating budgets in the wake of pension changes and the uncertainties around Brexit. It is little wonder that they might be considering a reduction in staff or, more dramatically, closing their shop doors forever.

Ramsey Office 108 High Street, Ramsey, Cambridgeshire. PE26 1BS Telephone: 01487 812441

On the other hand, flicking through the pages of this magazine entrepreneurs continue to start up their businesses, facing challenges on top of recent legislative changes in addition to the other pressure points that come into play.

Wisbech Office 12 & 13 The Crescent, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. PE13 1EH Telephone: 01945 584113

Whiting & Partners is experienced in those legislative changes and can help to explore some of the issues your business is facing. For support, contact your local Fenland office today and speak to one of our dedicated professionals. Information on which this article is based is correct at the time of publishing. Any updates are available on our website Bury Edmunds | Ely |2018 Huntingdon | King’s Lynn | March | Mildenhall | Peterborough | Ramsey | St. Ives | St. Neots | Wisbech 30 TheSt. Fens | February


February in THE FENS WORDS David White, RSPB

Although February is the shortest month of the year, there is still plenty of wildlife to see in the Fens at this time of year. If you find a nice day when you can get out and enjoy the beautiful fenland landscape, here are a few things that you can see during the shortest month of the year. Although February can still be very wintry, there are definitely signs that spring is on its way and the days are certainly getting longer. One of the rarest nesting birds in the Fens is the common crane. In February, cranes quite literally get a spring in their step. They start dancing to cement the pair bond and unpaired birds will be dancing to try and attract a mate. It really is wonderful seeing cranes dance as they stand five foot tall and have an eight foot wingspan. Despite their large size, they are really quite good dancers! Although you have to be very lucky to see cranes dancing, they nest on a couple of our RSPB reserves in the Fens. This includes RSPB Lakenheath Fen in West Suffolk and RSPB Nene Washes which is near Whittlesey in Cambridgeshire. The best way to locate dancing cranes is by listening out for their loud bugling calls as they tend to be very noisy when they dance! Even if you don’t see them

dancing, you may see them in flight which is equally impressive due again to their sheer size. Another specialist species of bird that is already getting ready for the breeding season in February is the secretive bittern. Bitterns only nest in reedbed so there are only a few sites in the Fens where they nest. One of the best sites for bitterns in the Fens is RSPB Ouse Fen which is near Needingworth in Cambridgeshire. Bitterns are famous for their loud booming calls which sound like somebody blowing through a bottle. This astonishing sound carries up to three miles, which is truly incredible. As long as the weather is OK and the water levels are appropriate, male bitterns regularly start booming in midFebruary. There were seven booming males at RSPB Ouse Fen last year so if you are lucky, you may hear several. Although they boom throughout the day, the best time to hear them is at dawn and dusk so plan your visit carefully! Away from wetland specialists, the beautiful song of the skylark can be heard from February onwards. Just in case you are not familiar with this wonderful song, it seems to go on forever and the birds typically

If you have never heard a skylark, it is well worth going to hear one as it can be a truly unforgettable experience deliver it in the air as if they are suspended on an invisible piece of string. Although skylarks can still be heard in many parts of the Fens, they can be heard at RSPB Ouse Washes near Manea and Nene Washes as they nest in the grassland. If you have never heard a skylark, it is well worth going to hear one as it can be a truly unforgettable experience. Although I have barely scratched the surface, I hope this article has given you a snapshot of what you can see and hear at our RSPB reserves in the Fens at this time of year. If you would like to find out more about our reserves, please visit uk/reserves; for more information. Have a great month and we look forward to seeing you on one of our reserves soon!

The Fens | February 2018


Walk of the month

Our favourite Fen walks so far… This month, Leanne looks back at some of her favourite walks WORDS AND IMAGES LEANNE HYLAND

Writing this column over the last 18 months has really encouraged me to explore my own back garden with open eyes and admittedly in more depth than I perhaps ever had before. Among my many local adventures, I’ve risen at the crack of dawn to walk through fog strewn wetlands at Wicken, witnessed spectacular swan feeds at Welney and wandered through meadows of wildflowers at Upwood - and while I can’t wait to discover what new routes lie ahead in 2018, today I’m looking back at those that have impressed me the most so far. Here’s our top local walks that are just as lovely come rain or shine, and so close to home you only need an afternoon to explore! UPWOOD MEADOWS TO LADY’S WOOD This humble little nature reserve lying just south of Ramsey proved to me that you don’t need to venture far to find a spot of beauty. I visited in late autumn, when the bushes were filled with juicy blackberries, and I quickly filled my pockets. The fields around me were freshly dug from the last of the harvest and the scent of onions hung strongly in the air. In Lady’s Wood, the canopies were alive with birdsong - I even spotted a squirrel

32 The Fens | February 2018

doing its best spiderman impression. Upwood is also where I conquered my fear of cows. “A walker who’s afraid of cows you ask?” Well, they are quite large. “But how scary could they really be?” I thought, as I watched them drink hungrily from a trough, their teddy bear like ears flapping wildly. DOWNHAM TO DENVER ON THE FEN RIVERS WAY There was plenty to learn on this scenic trek to Denver Sluice which saw me follow the ridged grassy banks of the River Great Ouse. Drawn in by the bright colours of Norfolk’s oldest market town I wandered past ivy clad thatched cottages, overlooked by Downham’s ornate Victorian clock tower, to join the Fen Rivers Way - a 50 mile stretch of path linking King’s Lynn and Cambridge. Just out of town I reached the sluice complex, a series of flood management structures built to protect those living in the Fens from rising water levels. My vantage point from the top of a raised bank

allowed me sweeping views over the surrounding farmland for much of the day, which concluded with a visit to a cosy riverside pub. HISTORIC ELY The enchanting city of Ely has been a firm favourite since I first set eyes upon its towering gothic cathedral and winding cobbled streets. Once an island known for its abundance of eels which made their home in the surrounding wetlands, today, it’s scenic riverfront plays home instead to all manner of birdlife, which live happily alongside canal boats, moored snugly, wood smoke drifting from their delicately painted

chimneys. Trailing branches of golden willows lined the riverbanks, from where the family-friendly Eel trail twists up and into the old town. It’s a steep climb - early settlers loved to build on high land - but I was greeted by arresting views of the city. THE WETLANDS OF WICKEN FEN As I drove through thick fog to reach Wicken early one Sunday morning, I was secretly praying for sun. Walking out onto the board walks of the reserve I could barely see 10ft in front of me, until a large Highland Cow made its way over, startling me with its thick amber coat and bullish horns.

A herd of these impressive creatures gathered to drink from a frozen lake nearby, amid swampy ground and rushes that now resembled dainty icicles. It was too cold for even the birds to make an appearance, and the hides were empty but for the hardiest of twitchers. However, as afternoon approached, my perseverance was rewarded with long, beaming rays of sun which lit up beautiful patchwork fields. I quickly fled to the highest point I could find, a ramshackle structure aptly named ‘Cock-Up’ bridge’. From here, the blue skies opened up, and I could admire Wicken’s earthy but beautiful wetlands, with the glassy waters of Burwell Lode trickling below my feet. STEEPED IN HISTORY: CASTLE ACRE The ruins of this impressive 12th century Norman stronghold sat proudly amid landscaped gardens, grand oak trees and open parkland. I wandered downhill from the priory gatehouse, through crumbling archways that were cold to the touch, glistening with sharp flint.

Winding stone staircases gave way to heavy wooden doors, I used all my strength to push one open, finding a large drawing room inside, complete with fireplace and beamed ceilings. From behind a latticed window I glanced out at the extent of the priory ruins. A malthouse, brewery and even a chapel have been expertly preserved by English Heritage. From the priory I walk to the equally charming town just over the hill, where vines trail up smart red bricked homes and a stone gatehouse perfectly frames the winding streets beyond. The Fens | February 2018



I THINK I’D LIKE TO BE A VETERINARY SURGEON! Many people like the idea of being a veterinary surgeon, but have no idea of how to go about it or exactly what the job entails. It isn’t just the things that we see on TV, such as the Yorkshire Vet. Being a vet is often compared with being a doctor, but if you think about it a doctor only deals with one species, whereas a vet deals with many more. From cats, dogs, rabbits to horses, sheep, and cows to snakes, tortoises, birds and fish. Plus the more exotic zoo animals and wild animals in the field. A doctor, or general practitioner, will see you in the clinic and then refer you

This issue, Whittlesey Veterinary Centre looks at the role of the veterinary surgeon

to someone to do blood tests or to take x-rays, to go to surgery or place a patient on fluids. A veterinary surgeon on the other hand has to be able to take bloods and do tests, do x-rays and ultrasound, be an accomplished surgeon in all areas and to be an anaesthetist at the same time as concentrating on surgery. When your pet comes into practice feeling under the weather, if it wasn’t obvious, the vet would do a series of tests and investigations before interpreting the results and deciding upon a course of action. A vet cannot ask their patient where the pain or discomfort is, so they have to work it out for themselves. Some species, such as cats and rabbits, are very good at hiding pain and it is often difficult to discern just what the problem is. There are several universities where veterinary medicine can be studied. They all have slightly different entrance requirements. Generally, they require 3 A-levels at top marks and between 6 – 16 weeks work experience in a variety of practices with a wide range of experience. The potential student must then go through a gruelling interview process with both practical

and academic tasks. During the time at university, usually around 5 years duration, there are many more weeks of experience in practices alongside the studying with a series of exams at the end of the degree. Once qualified, the new veterinary surgeon must then register with the governing body, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), to be able to practise in the UK. From then, the vet must undergo several hours of continuing professional development (CPD) in order to keep their accreditation. When you take your pet to the vets they may need to use words that most of us have no hope of spelling - just spare a thought for the many, many foreign vets that grace the profession and keep our practices running up and down the country. Not only do they have to have a command of the English language, they also have to have the technical side of the profession to be able to discuss cases with other vets. Most of us struggle to put together a few words on holiday to order a beer, let alone discuss a case of diabetes or liver failure. It is a great skill to be able to do this and we are grateful to them, along with the great number of native English speaking vets in our practices.


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Your pet’s our passion

Another disappointment Owen and others formed SO IT’S OFFICIAL, THE NEWS the back bone of a football THAT WE WERE EXPECTING. team that so much was The England and Wales expected of. Yet, over and Cricket team have lost the over again performances at Ashes. At least it wasn’t a the major tournaments were complete whitewash. We did disappointing and we were manage to draw one test! left only with a sense of what Being English and a sports could have been. fan I’ve discovered that life Actually, disappointment is full of hope which is often is not something exclusive to dashed with disappointment. supporters of England teams. The recent ashes series has It is something that all fans been a case in point. On experience at times whether several mornings that I’ve they are supporting their checked up on the state national or local teams. In of play in the ashes to hear rugby I support the Saracens that England have the (they used to play 50 yards upper hand or at least are Paul Kosciecha, from the hospital wing in holding their own. Yet, the Whittlesey Baptist Church which I was born). Recently next report gives news of a they’ve gone through a batting collapse or a century slump of not being able to win games. or double century from an Australian At least two they were winning only batsman. The semblance of hope was smashed and I was left with disappointment. to be denied by a last minute try from the opposition. Hope dashed, This June we have the 2018 Football disappointment reigned. World Cup in Russia. Will it bring more Why am I writing about this? It’s not disappointment? Who knows? History though doesn’t give much encouragement. because I’m sitting here frustrated and needing to vent, whether over the It wasn’t that long ago that we were told sporting disappointment or one of the we had the golden generation of English deeper disappointments of life. The footballers. Beckham, Gerrard, Lampard,


reason is that I’ve been spending some time thinking recently about what the Bible says about heaven. As I’ve done this the thing that’s struck me is that heaven will be a place without disappointment. One verse in the Bible puts it like this: an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. 1 Peter 1:4 Can you imagine that? A place where the joy never stops and the despair never enters. A place where we will never have to wonder when it’s all going to go wrong or what will be the next difficulty on the horizon. The Bible teaches that heaven is a wonderful place where the beauty of life will remain and never disappear. I find it can often be difficult to think about future things. There is so much vying for our attention today that we don’t have time or desire to look ahead. Similarly, when we talk of heaven we are speaking about life after death which has a taste of the morbid to it. Yet, is it not important to be prepared and to consider these things? If there is a heaven should we not be asking how it is we get there?

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The Fens | February 2018



local entrepreneurs

In this new series of articles, we speak to local entrepreneurs who each have successful businesses, to find out how they got started and what top tips they can share with those aspiring to start their own business

Briefly can you introduce yourself and your business/businesses? My name is Lewis Slack and I am one of the Directors at Ace Tones Entertainments Limited. Our business supplies event equipment, party equipment, marquees and accessories for corporate events, exhibitions, weddings and parties How did you come up with your business idea? Since I was young I enjoyed music and learnt to play the piano, followed by various woodwind instruments, but my love came with playing the saxophone. I studied Jazz at Middlesex University and whilst studying I taught saxophone to bring in some income via a music teaching agency. When I graduated I started my own music teaching agency which supplied peripatetic music teachers for individuals or schools in both Cambridgeshire and London, so that's where the business got its original name, Ace Tones Music. I also taught alongside running the agency and got great satisfaction from seeing my students’ progression. Later this expanded to include 'Ace Tones Entertainments' . I was playing in lots of local bands and knew lots of bands and entertainers in the area and decided to promote them. This was a logical progression as many of my teachers were also in local bands. Every business has to diversify and be pro-active, taking account of the changes in the market. So I decided to expand the business further and this gave me another opportunity to combine things that I love with work, this time in the form of shooting. I formed Ace Tones Events which initially focused on activities that revolved around shooting eg. Laser 36 The Fens | February 2018

Clay pigeon shooting and Archery. Quickly the repertoire of activities that we had to offer included lots of fun activities that appealed to a wider audience. We started to organise large company fun days and bought marquees of our own. We now have a wide range of marquees, furniture, dance floors. lighting and lots more. Therefore, I suppose the business progressed naturally and each aspect links to each other with the love of entertaining at the heart. What steps did you take to launch it? - I needed a cost effective office that I could work from so converted my garden shed into an office - I had had experience working for a music teaching agency in London and had recognised what worked well and what could be improved from a tutor’s point of view - Having been at Uni with other musicians and having been active on the music scene, I had lots of contacts that were looking for work - I had researched music tuition in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire and had found that there were lots of individuals but not an agency that could promote them and support them, so I decided to launch my own agency - I opened a music studio in Whittlesey which provided group music lessons for adults and children, and we also had a Casio franchise in which we also offered instruments for sale. We also opened another studio in London. - I arranged some press coverage and advertised in the Yellow pages - I had a website built but most of my customers came via word of mouth. - I developed relationships with schools by offering free music taster assemblies which enabled children to have a go and try various different instruments. This led to us providing peripatetic music tuition in schools across the area, becoming the first private agency in Cambridgeshire to compete with the council run services What advice would you give to somebody wanting to start out? Do lots of research to find out if there are customers out there that want what you want to provide. Who's already doing it? What potential customers want from you. What are

your margins likely to be. Carefully work out your expenses and what you require as an income in order to cover this and provide you with a wage. This might be small to start with, so you need to be sure you can cope with that, so if possible a contingency fund would be advisable. Make a plan with small steps that will get you where you want to be in the future. Also, consider what your USP is and why should a potential customer use you rather than a competitor? What’s the best and worst part of running your own business? The best part of running my own business is that I am the boss, although as of January 2018, that's not quite true as my wife, Natalie has taken over as the Managing Director of Ace Tones so that I can pursue another aspect of the business. I am working with a partner to design and manufacturer our own games which are available for sale to other event and exhibition companies. SLR Games Ltd is just getting started but I'm really excited about where it might take me, as this is the first time I have been involved in a manufacturing business. The worst part of running Ace Tones Entertainments Ltd is that we are really busy in the summer when my children are off school for 6 weeks. This makes family holidays tricky but I try to take any opportunity that I can. What lessons have you learnt along the way? That a more personal approach is best. I enjoy meeting with customers and building lasting relationships with them. We have been in Whittlesey for over 10 years but we are not very well known in the town, so it was lovely to see our activities being enjoy at The Whittlesey Christmas Festival and we hope to forge stronger relationships within the town in 2018. It’s easy to do things the way you always have but it’s important to reflect and be open minded, and to try a different approach, even if that just confirms that the way you were doing it was the best all along! Ace Tones Entertainments Ltd are based at Unit 16 Station Road, Whittlesey PE7 2EU. Tel. 01733 442025




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unsung hero?

Nominations open for Whittlesey’s Citizen and Young Citizen of the year open

It has come to the time of year where the council wishes to find the Whittlesey Citizen and Young Citizen of the Year. The criteria are as follows: Whittlesey Citizen: • Over 18 years old • A resident of either Whittlesey, Coates, Eastrea, Turves or Pondersbridge. Whittlesey Young Citizen: • Up to and including 18 years old • A resident of either Whittlesey, Coates, Eastrea, Turves or Pondersbridge. The council would welcome nominations for people of all abilities, for either or both categories. The nominated person may have helped in the community, undertaken charity work, fundraising or achieved outstanding results in any discipline. If you know somebody who doesn’t quite fit these criteria, but believe them to be worthy having gone above and beyond the call of duty, then please do put them forward. Should you wish to put someone forward for the above, please give details of the person’s name, address and reason for nomination. Post your entry to: Susan Piergianni Whittlesey Town Council Grosvenor House Grosvenor Road Whittlesey PE7 1AQ Please mark the envelope: ‘Citizen of the Year’ or ‘Young Citizen of the Year’. The closing date for nominations is Friday 2nd March 2018.


Before Christmas, Whittlesey Christian Church became HQ to a huge collection of food and gifts, thoughtfully donated by the public for less fortunate individuals and families. What started out as councillor David Mason, Sue Jennings and Brian Smithyman considering the possibility of Whittlesey Emergency Food Aid providing those on the current database a Christmas meal within its traditional hamper, very quickly snowballed with the assistance of 38 The Fens | February 2018

WHERE IT ALL STARTED Tom Anthony was a well-known local councillor and business man who was involved in the celery and flower growing business. At this time, Whittlesey was renowned for growing celery plants, which were then shipped to other areas to continue growing to their full potential. You will also come across other trophies in and around the town that have been donated by T W Anthony. The Citizenship Cup was presented to Whittlesey Town Council by Alderman Thomas Anthony on 24th June 1967, there are only three occasions during this 50 year period that the cup has not been awarded. The first recipient of the award in 1967 was ‘Whittlesey Division of St John Ambulance’, followed by many other organisations and individuals who have served the town of Whittlesey and its villages.

Deborah Slator. Deborah, and many other volunteers, started a Facebook page, encouraging the community to buy gifts for children and adults who otherwise wouldn’t receive anything on Christmas day. The support from everyone was overwhelming, and the organisers couldn’t have been prouder of how everyone came together to help. What a great combined effort!

Pictured left: David and Ann Mason; above: Sue Jennings, Deborah Slator and Marija Lysak


ON THE FARM Words by Philip Bradshaw

In my last article here, the autumn root crop harvest was just started, and decent yields were forecast. The yields for potatoes and onions turned out to be reasonable, but the catchy autumn weather made harvesting a challenge for some. Unfortunately, the open market price for potatoes is low this year but potato prices are often variable from season to season. The sugar beet yields have been huge, record breaking in places! This is great news, but coupled with a slight increase in the area planted has caused some logistical problems dealing with a large national crop. Many of us have chosen for the first time to leave some growing over winter, planning to harvest and deliver in the spring. This strategy carries a risk of losing crop in a hard-frosty winter, but we have an element of industry insurance against severe weather and will plant a spring crop after the late lifted beet.

When the weather warms up, hopefully by late February we will start planting spring crops, with Barley, Oats, Beans, Wheat and Sugar Beet to be planted ideally by the end of March. With that in mind some of my winter days are spent overhauling and preparing machines for the busy spring season ahead. As usual, like most farmers I will also spend some time on training courses etc to improve and update my knowledge. I will also have a lot of time in our office to keep on top of the growing burden of bureaucracy and paperwork, and it is good to start the spring with office work up to date. We attended the annual Plough Sunday service in January at St Mary’s Church. We always enjoy the whole Straw Bear weekend, and after the robust carnival atmosphere on the Saturday, it is nice to go to church and again celebrate the Straw Bear festival, and also its connection with farming, the plough, and the soil.

‘A person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century’ typically born between 1981 – 2000. There is evidence that suggests the impact of succession planning is a real issue according to a report by Laura Gardiner* BACKGROUND After the second World War this country gradually got back on its feet, home ownership increased, final salary pensions were the norm and the energy crisis was not even considered a threat. The population expanded, those babies are now at or nearing retirement, at some point their estate will pass on to the next or further generations. The point of this report is to point out that the situation alters according to circumstances. Among the findings there is evidence showing that: • Those owning a property are more likely to inherit than those who do not. • 46% of non-home owning 20-35-year olds have parents who don’t own either. • Millennials with property wealth already of £200,000 may inherit £195,000 per sibling, those without are likely to inherit £85,000 • Over the next two decades the value of inheritances is set to increase faster than earnings • Baby Boomers (currently aged 53 – 72) own 54% of Britain’s wealth • Wealthier people tend to live longer • Home ownership at age 30 are half as likely compared with Baby Boomers • Earnings of millennials are no higher than those born 10 – 15 years before them at the same age. • Peak inheritance volume is expected in the year 2035 Wealth comprises: Property, Pensions and other assets such as savings and investments. Some pensions can be set to transfer down the generations (e.g. Flexible Drawdown schemes), some finish with the plan owner, some with the spouse or partner. Pensions can represent a significant proportion of wealth. Property and other assets can be eroded by long term care, ill health or you may have heard the phrase ‘spending the kid’s inheritance’. The report indicates: ‘…most common age to inherit is age 61’ – there is no guarantee. Taxation of a large estate is a matter that can be reduced or eliminated with planning. From this we can see that the gap between rich and poor could get wider, it also highlights the need to take responsibility for your own future because there are risks unless steps are taken to preserve the value of an estate. It is also apparent that owners of wealth, and potential beneficiaries, should take financial and legal advice early as in the process. A good Independent Financial Adviser can introduce legal advice and brief you on the areas to seek guidance so that a comprehensive plan can potentially ensure the wishes of everyone are taken in to account and that wealth passes through the generations as efficiently as possible. *Intergenerational Commission Report (Resolution Foundation) December 2017

Eamonn Dorling Dip PFS, Senior Independent Financial Adviser. Brooks Wealth Management Tel: 01733 314553 Mob: 07767 795816 Email: Brooks Wealth Management is a trading style of Ampris Limited who are an appointed representative of Wealthline Limited, Registered in England 08761632 (Registered office: 8a Cowgate, Peterborough) Wealthline Limited are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority 684319 * 20170808 ERC LLA current deals 8th August 2017 ‘This may involve a lifetime mortgage, the actual rate available will depend upon your circumstances. Ask for a personalised illustration.’

The Fens | February 2018




The Peterborough DALROD Phantoms are the city’s semiprofessional ice hockey team, based at Planet Ice Arena, Bretton. This fast, exciting and physical sport is the fastest growing indoor sport in the country. The Phantoms are players who have been drafted in from across the UK (including home grown players from Peterborough) and International players from Europe. In current and recent seasons, a number of Peterborough Phantoms Players have represented their countries at Junior and Senior level at the IIHF World Championships and Olympic Qualification tournaments. The Phantoms are currently sitting top of the NIHL (at the time of writing this), and heading towards the all important, Play Off Finals in April. So for a day out with a difference, why not take a seat in the stands and cheer on the Phantoms? There’s a great family atmosphere and under 10s GO FREE - it’s a weekly event not to miss.







GO PHANTOMS! For more information on the latest fixtures and prices please visit and for more information on Public skating please visit


We’re thrilled to be teaming up with Planet Ice and Peterborough Phantoms to give away one family pass to the Ice Hockey and public skating for a whole month! All you have to do to enter this brilliant competition is email with the subject heading ‘GO PHANTOMS’. Please include your contact details in the email. The draw will take place on Friday 23rd February at 12 noon, and one lucky winner will be selected at random.

40 The Fens | February 2018

DUSTY AND THE SHADES OF THE 60s ‘DUSTY AND THE SHADES OF THE 60S’ is a brand new musical stage show that celebrates the life and music of the great Dusty Springfield and her contemporary peers. Starring singer and actress Emily Clark with the singing trio The Shades, this pop-filled show, which tours the UK from March 2018, is dedicated to the invention of pop music, the songs and the stars of the 60s.     The cast will perform a roster of Dusty hits written by Burt Bacharach, Carole King and others including Say A Little Prayer, Downtown, Natural Woman and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough which was a huge hit for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell in 1967.  Dusty was a powerhouse singer and a style beacon. ‘Dusty and the Shades of the 60s’ is produced by Red Entertainment, the fast-rising company who produced one of 2017’s most successful tours, ‘Cilla and the Shades of the 60s’.  “Ever since I could speak I’ve wanted to sing professionally and, being a huge fan of the music of the 60s, this is a wonderful opportunity for me to pay homage to one of the greatest singers of that time as well as the writers of some legendary songs,” added Emily Clark. “Dusty was an amazing woman, personally and professionally and I hope the Shades and I will be doing her proud!”


‘DUSTY AND THE SHADES OF THE 60S’ are performing at the Peterborough Key Theatre on March 7th. To celebrate, we’re giving away two tickets to the performance. To enter, all you have to do is email ‘Dusty’ to win@thefensmag. with your contact details. One winner will be picked at

random after February 15th. Good luck!

’DUSTY AND THE SHADES OF THE 60S’. March 7th, Peterborough Key Theatre. Tickets are £18.50, available from 01733 207239

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CALL MATT 01733 840051 or 07939 010257 Or find us on Facebook The Fens | February 2018


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DAZZLED BY THE NEON LIGHTS! Whittlesey resident Alex J Geairns is an Executive Director of the recently revived The Broadway, the magnificent theatre venue in Peterborough. He exclusively reveals to THE FENS magazine what a difference a year makes This time last year, all I knew about The Broadway was the proposals to turn it into a block of flats. Ever since I moved here in 1990 I was aware of it, visiting it when used as a cinema, a theatre, and even a comedy venue. So much money had been invested in the place over the years, and its local support was extremely vocal. However, a combination of circumstances had seemed to always work against it. For the last few years the place had been on life support. A couple of choir-based events a year, plus a couple of short seasons of musicals had kept hope alive that, at some point, a rescue would happen. By 2017 it was clear that time was running out. My interest was in the launch of local media training charity Hereward Media, which as an ancillary activity will lead to a local TV station for our area. It was a struggle to find a base to work from. I would have never suspected that The Broadway would provide such a location. In March, I was approached by Mark Ringer, the driving force behind The Willow Festival, one of the most successful events ever staged in our region. He explained that, as he was running as Deputy Mayor with Cambridge-based entrepreneur Peter Dawe heading the ticket, Peter had asked him what Peterborough most needed. Mark mentioned the revival of The Broadway. Peter made that a cornerstone of their campaign. Soon, I found myself being shown around the back offices at the theatre. Perfect to provide a studio, a

control booth, an office and training room, an edit suite and a Green Room. And so it was agreed that Hereward Media and The Broadway would work together, sharing resources and making the venue more than just a theatre – it would become a community hub, dealing with all forms of performing arts. Despite expecting to gain

occupancy in April, legal wrangling meant it was early August before we actually had the keys to the kingdom. Hereward Media has had to take a back seat while the myriad of issues which had been inherited were addressed. Everything for our Main Auditorium, plus our conference and event venue The Broadway Suite, and our Walter’s Bar & Eatery (named after local strongman and charity fundraiser Walter Cornelius) were all operational by our launch date of September 2nd – 80 years to the day since the venue first opened as an Odeon cinema. Unfortunately, that extremely long day led to me contracting a foot ulcer, which meant I had to work at home for a couple of months with my leg in the air! We are constantly improving the facilities, and building up the programme of events to come in 2018, with announcements of more shows being made every week, appealing to every type of audience. While we have already brought in productions from the West End, we are delighted that Blood Brothers will be with us in April. Comedy is very popular, and we have Jon Richardson and Ruby Wax coming soon. We expect to be announcing further major music acts too, building on our

capture of the likes of Jools Holland, Marc Almond, and Elkie Brooks. Our pantomime, Aladdin, was a critical success and we are delighted to build on this next Christmas with a production of Cinderella. We’re keen on bringing children along to experience theatre, hence us having such productions as Milkshake! Live, The Wizard of Oz, Dinosaur World Live, and Peppa Pig coming to join us. Add in monthly events like Doomwatch Wednesdays, and open mic and quiz nights, and this is why our slogan rightly describes The Broadway as “The Definite Article in Entertainment”. Find out more about The Broadway at its website: Pictured left: The newly reopened The Broadway looks good at night in neon; Middle: Alex Geairns (right) speaks to the audience at the reopening of The Broadway; Top: Ruby Wax comes to The Broadway on 17 April

The Fens | February 2018



Indulgent Chocolate Truffles These truffles are made in the French style, which is essentially a ganache, dusted with cocoa powder. They were first called truffles in the 1920s as they looked like real, freshly dug truffles, which are a highly sought after fungus whose fruiting body grows underground. Belgian truffles are sweeter with a softer creamy centre, which is very rich and filling.



PREPARATION TIME - 30 MINS CHILLING TIME - OVERNIGHT INGREDIENTS • 275g quality dark chocolate (minimum 60% cocoa solids) broken into pieces • 250ml double cream • 50g unsalted butter • 50g cocoa powder

1. In a large plastic bowl, microwave the chocolate for 20 seconds a time, stirring between each time, until the chocolate has fully melted. Stir in the cream and then the butter in two or three stages. It should be smooth and glossy. Set the mixture in the fridge overnight to set. 2. Take the mix out of the fridge half an hour before you want to make the truffles. Place the cocoa in a bowl and use it to dust your hands. Using a teaspoon take a little of the mixture and roll it into a ball with your hands before dropping it into the cocoa again. Shake of the access cocoa off and return to the fridge stored in an airtight container. These can be served straight from the fridge or left to get to a chilli room temperature. 44 The Fens | February 2018


You can add chunks of your favourite stuff, such as dried banana, rum and raisins; fudge pieces; nuts; marshmallows; crushed imperial mints; fresh chilli; or even sea salt. Be creative and add oils or essences such as orange oil, lavender, vanilla or peppermint. You could even infuse the cream by heating it with a spice or herb - try bay leaves or even cardamom! These truffles are being served with coffee as part of Dog in a Doublet’s 5-course Valentine’s menu aphrodisiac

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The Fens | February 2018


So you want to do a road-trip? Travel expert JADE HAWKINS looks at planning the perfect road-trip There are so many things to consider when doing a road-trip. Whether you’re planning to drive across Europe, ride around the USA, grab a motorhome in New Zealand or trains in Vietnam, it doesn’t matter where in the world you want to do it, the factors you need to consider are the same. First of all it is important to set yourself a budget, without one a road trip can easily become expensive and unaffordable. You should start by looking at what may be reasonable for your destination, whilst considering the type of transport you want whilst you are there. Secondly, plan how long you want to be on the road trip for. You need to plan your driving distances, so you aren’t continuously on the road. A road trip may sound fun, but the fun is in the sights you see and the places you get to visit, if you are continuously on the move the fun will soon disappear. On this note, once you’ve decided on your destination, pick three or so must see sites/places - if you have longer, pick a couple more. Work out the best way to get between these and see how long it will take and if you will need any stop-offs on the way if you are driving. 46 The Fens | February 2018

When planning a trip, understand routes may have to change slightly and detours may happen, so be prepared to be flexible. When arriving make sure you plan to stay close to the airport, especially if you’ve been on a long-haul flight, as you will be tired. Also, when stopping in your chosen places, give yourself plenty of time to relax, enjoy and soak it all up and maybe prebook some excursions to make sure you don’t miss anything. At the end of your trip it might be worth having a couple of days somewhere you can truly unwind so that you come home feeling revived and ready to head back to normality. Another thought to consider is what you may have to pay whilst travelling. As well as the usual food and drink and any accommodation you decided not to pre-book, there’s also the cost of parking in cities (especially in the USA as this can be very costly). If you are in a motorhome, think about where it is possible to park and actually stay overnight. Finally, make sure you always have change for Toll roads. Travel Agents are available to help you plan your road trips, from the more standard Route 66 trips to the

more unusual. They can plan and suggest routes and stop-offs, as well as help you stick to your budget by checking out details such as carparking, hotels and in general ensuring the trip runs as smoothly as possible. As a travel counsellor, when my client is on a road-trip, I am their computer at home, if they face an issue I will help them through it guiding them and ensuring all runs smoothly. Finally, don’t forget if you see a beautiful sight, pull-over take the picture, take a deep breathe and enjoy it! After all that’s what it’s all about. Jade Hawkins is a Travel Counsellor, offering a personal service. 01406 308030 | 07923 279164 hawkins

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A NEW ADDITION Life and relationships seem to have a natural progression don’t they? I observe from friends that, in no particular order, there are three phases every long term couple succumb to. These are marriage, having children and procuring a pet. I am getting married (hopefully) in April and have no intention of having children anytime soon (sorry mum). Inevitably, I find myself recently having got a pet. A house rabbit to be exact. The acquisition of said rabbit happened in the local pet shop, who just happened to have an ‘adopt a rabbit’ scheme operating. I looked at my phone one afternoon at work to see I quite unusually had three missed calls from my fiancée. With everything that has happened recently with her father’s ill health I naturally thought the worst, especially considering I couldn’t get hold of her when I tried to call her back. I worried all afternoon until finally she phoned me only to tell me that in fact the reason she’d called was because she wanted me to meet her at the pet shop so I could ‘have a look at this rabbit’. I imagine everyone already knows how this story is going to end. So I arrive at the pet shop and I am immediately thrust in front of this very sturdy looking rabbit who, on first look from the way she was head butting the glass on her ‘cage’, appeared to be the ‘Mike Tyson’ of rabbits. I was told to stroke her to see if she accepted me, which I thought was a bit like using a large joint of beef as a glove and shoving it in front of a lion. Fortunately, she did not savage my hand but gently nudged it and I must say, being a bit of a sucker for rabbits I immediately loved her. I agreed we’d take her, and it occurred we didn’t have any ‘stuff’, such as food or a cage to house a rabbit. Apparently I was wrong, as the reason for not being able to contact my fiancée earlier, was because she was out buying all such items and setting them up in the house. So it would seem my decision was rather made for me before I had even seen the rabbit!

§ Joe Ferridge is an occasional writer and just to wind me up even more, she’s even called the rabbit ‘Jar Jar’ (or Binksey) after my most hated Star Wars character. The Fens | February 2018


WHAT’S ON PETERBOROUGH BISCUIT Wednesday 7th February Don’t miss Peterborough’s biggest business networking event, held at The East of England’s Arena and Events Centre between 9am and 4:30pm. Free entry.

HALF TERM AT VIVACITY Monday 12th - 16th February

This February half term Vivacity has got it covered. With a range of fantastic holiday activities all the family can enjoy and Vivacity’s funfilled childcare solutions there’s lots to keep the kids entertained during the school break. Vivacity’s sports holiday club, powered by Club Viva, is at four locations across Peterborough; Hampton Leisure Centre, Werrington Leisure Centre, Jack Hunt Pool & Gym and Regional Fitness and Swimming Centre. Each day is jam-packed with exciting activities and is uniquely themed. From Lego to Around the World days, there is truly something for all the children to enjoy keeping them entertained and having fun all day, every day. Sports holiday club is available to children age 4-13, dependant on site. Weekly £80 (8.30am-5.30pm), £70 (10am-4pm) Daily £20 (8.30am-5.30pm), £18 (10am-4pm) 10% off when booking online Become Secret Agents Monday 12 – 16 February, 10am-5pm £3 child (under 5s free) £4 adults £12 families Shaped animals library event Monday 12 February Werrington Library 10am Central Library 12pm Hampton Library 2pm Archaeology adventurers’ club is available for children age 8-12 Weekly £90 (10am-4pm) Daily £22 (10am-4pm) To find out more about Vivacity’s holiday activities visit 48 The Fens | February 2018

GREAT FEN - SUPER STARS Tuesday 13th February

Step in to your space suit and zoom in to space! A fun, family afternoon packed full of activities awaits at Great Fen. Discover stars, galaxies and planets! Explorers should arrive atThe Wildlife Trust Countryside Centre, Ramsey Heights, PE26 2RS between 1pm and 3:30pm. Admission is £3 per person or £10 for 4 people. For more information please visit or email


Whittlesey Library is playing ‘Alice in the Cuckoo’s Nest’ on Tuesday evening, with doors opening at 7pm. Admission is £7 or £4 for concessions. Tickets are available from the Library oronline. Refreshments will be available. For more information or tickets please visit www.


Come along to the first of this years Great Fen Wildlife Watch group’s sessions. Wildlife Watch is for children aged 6 years to 12 years (under 8’s must be accompanied by an adult). Admission is £2 per child. Meet at Woodwalton Fen for 10am (until 12 noon). For more information please visit or call 01487 710420

SNOWDROP SUNDAYS Sunday 18th & 25th February

February is the month of Snowdrops, and what better place to view them could there be than Deene Park in Corby. Enjoy a walk through the blankets of Snowdrops between 12 and 4pm on the select Sundays this month. Admission is £5 for adults and free for Children under 16. There’s even a tea room for hot drinks, homemade cakes and light lunches. Find out more by calling 01780 450278 or visiting www.deenepark. com


ROADSHOW Thursday 1st February

The Key Theatre is playing host to the Johnny Cash Roadshow. After 12 years of touring the British Isles, Roger Dean revisits the Johnny Cash story. If you saw the film ‘Walk the Line’ then you will not want to miss this fantastic show. Tickets are £21.50 or £19.50 for over 60s. Book online at or call 01733 207239


Jonathan Foyle will launch his new architectural history: ‘Peterborough Cathedral: A Glimpse of Heaven’, with a talk about his discoveries at Peterborough Cathedral. At the start of the Cathedral’s 900th year, join us for the launch of Dr Jonathan Foyle’s new book on Peterborough Cathedral. In his talk, which draws on the most recent studies, he will highlight some of his own discoveries and theories about the long history of this remarkable building. From Roman occupation on the site, to the building of the church, to the painting of the remarkable ceiling, and Peterborough’s connections to the early Tudor court, Jonathan Foyle will reveal some secrets from the Cathedral’s past and show that this is one of the country’s most important surviving medieval buildings. Copies of Peterborough Cathedral: A Glimpse of Heaven will be on sale and Jonathan Foyle will be available after the talk to sign them. Tickets are £12 adults, £10 under 16s (including wine/soft drink. Unreserved seating). Book online via Peterborough Cathedral’s page at Oundle Box Office, or call Oundle Box Office on 01832 274734 or Peterborough Information Centre on 01733 452336.


March & District Model Railway Club

are holding their 2018 Exhibition on Saturday 3rd March. The new, larger venue will be at March Braza Club, Elm Road, March, Cambs, PE15 8NZ (next to March Railway Station) Pop in between 10am and 4.30pm. Admission is adults £4.00, children £2.00 or a family ticket is £10 (2 + 2) There’s free Parking, refreshments and tombola, plus disabled access. Enjoy 19 Layouts in various gauges, 11 Trade Invite to theand traction Stands,you demonstrations engine rides in the car park. For more horney 10k & 3k Fun Run information, contact: secretary@ 25th March 2018

THORNEY RUNNING CLUB 10K AND FUN RUN Sunday 25th Online entries are now open: March

10k - 10:30am start Chip Timing Flat PB potential course Cambs AA Road League 2018 Age category awards Momento for all finishers 30am start Thorney Running Club are hosting a Postal entry - form can be found at ocal park 10k and 3k fun run. The 10k will start gory awards 10k - offers £12 affiliated £14 unattached & certificateat 10am and chip/ timing, a (+£2 on the day) l finishers flat course with great PB potential. Fun Run - £3 It’s part of the Cambs Road Online entriesAA close 21.03.18

League 2018, and there’s age category awards plus a memento - Entries on the day are for all finishers. The fun run will start subject to availability Race HQ: 9:30am around a safe, local park. - at Refreshments Bedford Hall there will be age category -Again Car Parking Station Road Thorney awards, plus medals and certificates Peterborough for all finishers. PE6 0QE Online entries are now open at, forms can be downloaded at www. and posted. Entrance for the 10k is £12 affiliated/£14 unaffiliated (+£2). The fun run is £3 entry. Online entries close on 21st March, but entries can be made on the day, subject to availability, Refreshements will be available, plus car parking.

U3A UPDATE The U3A are looking back on a successful 2017 and planning to build on these foundations in 2018. Membership has reached 212 and a number of events have been held, including a quiz night, at which our team did well, though not quite well enough to beat some serious competition, A Barn Dance in conjunction with the Whittlesey Bowls Club, heralded such a success that another similar evening is planned for the spring, and a Christmas Party, attended by 102 members and guests, who were entertained by a magician and enjoyed an excellent buffet including gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options. Most Interest Groups still have space for new members, and everyone is invited to try something new and decide if it is for them. Our Open Meetings at Childers on the third Thursday of each month are a good opportunity to just come along for a warm welcome, enjoy refreshments, see what we do and pick up a copy of our monthly magazine. The Entertainment for the coming months is: February 15th A look behind the scenes of Great Ormond Street Hospital March 15th Learning about the work of Dr Barnardo’s April 19th An insight into the world of an auctioneer, with Lawrence Seaton May 17th The U3A AGM with music by Andy Smith-Music Man Find us on Facebook, email us at or contact Wendy Fletcher, Publicity Officer, at wendyfletcherwriting@

Invite you to the Thorney 10k & 3k Fun Run WHITTLESEY CONSERVATIVE Sunday 25th March 2018 ENTERTAINMENT


Saturday10k3rd February - 10:30am start Chip Timing DaveFlatLogan PB potential course

Cambs AA Road League 2018 Saturday 10th February Age category awards

MarkMomento Joseffor all finishers

Sunday 11th February

Sunday lunch with Online Dave Logan & Pat Campbell entries are now open: Saturday 14th February Postal entry - form can be found at

3k - 9:30am start Safe local park Age category awards Medal & certificate for all finishers

Steve Carmel 10k - £12 affiliated / £14 unattached (+£2 on the day) Fun Run - £3 Online entries close 21.03.18

Saturday 24th February Rob Stevenson

- Entries on the day are subject to availability - Refreshments - Car Parking

Race HQ: Bedford Hall Station Road Thorney Peterborough

REGULARS Hatha Yoga, for all levels, £7 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. £7 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, Tuesday and Thursday. Doors open at 7pm. Eyes down at 7.30pm at the rear of the Conservative Club. No membership required 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 Sun, Mon & Thursday at the Ivy Leaf Club Ukulele ‘strum for fun’ first and third Tuesday, at the Ram, Whittlesey 7-9pm. Call Chris on 07960 316724 for info 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 Just for Kicks Rock n Roll Club Record Hop. Every Monday. Yaxley British Legion 07718 511640

NOTICE We are pleased to let you know that the next meeting of the Business Forum is on the 28th February at the Falcon Hotel, Whittlesey. Doors open from 6pm for a 6:30pm start. Our speaker will be David Ostler, who will talk about the long retail history of Ostler’s Hardware Shops in the area. See you on the 28th. Chair, Joe Jennings The Fens | February 2018


Local BUSINESS Lily Rose Construction

Lily Rose Construction Ltd is owned and run by Whittlesey resident Tony Sharman. With a team of family members and trusted tradesmen, Tony aims to offer a new approach to the construction business. With plans to continue expanding his business, we caught up with Tony to find out more


WHY DID YOU START THE BUSINESS? We started Lily Rose Construction in 2016 to try to offer customers a more approachable, reliable and helpful construction service. This industry is notoriously difficult to find dependable and friendly trades people that you would be happy to have in your home. Having worked in the industry since I was 17, I knew I could provide a much better service and fill a gap in the local market. I make sure our team are always on time, highly skilled, efficient, trustworthy and approachable. We aim to offer excellent value for money and we keep our prices simple and upfront.

50 The Fens | February 2018

WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO RUN YOUR OWN BUSINESS? Running my own business is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Thankfully I have the help of my dad and other family members. I also have some highly skilled local tradesmen, that over the years have become good friends. These relationships are key to the service we can offer, as they have the same core values as us. WHAT PROJECTS HAVE YOU HAVE BEEN WORKING ON RECENTLY? We work in all areas of the construction industry, from fitting doors and windows, to garage conversions, extensions and new build homes. Some of our recent projects have been garage conversions - most people don’t use their garages to store their vehicles any more, so it is a simple and cost-effective process to gain valuable space in your home, without the extra work of an extension. Usually no planning permission is required, just liaising with building control, which we do as part of the service. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR? We are very proud of our achievement of winning an award at the CMI

sponsored Peterborough Business Awards in 2016. We aim to continue learning as a company always striving to achieve, whilst maintaining our core values. WHAT FUTURE PLANS DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUR BUSINESS? As a company we aim to stay loyal to our local community by working alongside local tradesmen and suppliers. We hope to help the community grow and benefit from our success. Being based in Whittlesey and having lived and worked around the area for many years, our staff have many contacts in the local area, allowing us to meet the needs of our customers. In the future we would look to take on some more apprentices to allow us to maintain our high standards. WHAT SERVICES DO YOU PROVIDE THAT WE MIGHT NOT REALISE? Lily Rose Construction can complete almost any construction job our customers may need, large or small. We also do work for many other parts of the local community, such as maintaining some of our local churches and schools. Last year we completed a large building renovation project for the Whittlesey Methodist Church, including internal carpentry work and fitting a new roof on the main building. These types of work can offer different problems to general building work, due to the age and complexity of the buildings. It is a labour of love but it is our attention to detail that allows us to complete these projects to a high standard.  WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE CONSIDERING STARTING THEIR OWN BUSINESS? The best thing I can say is trust yourself and believe in what you are doing. There will be plenty of setbacks and difficult times, but if you believe in what you are doing and are ready to work harder than you ever have before, then the opportunity to succeed is in your hands. You can find out more about the services offered by LILY ROSE CONSTRUCTION by visiting or emailing info@lilyroseconstruction. Check out their Facebook page for recent projets.

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148 Station Road, Whittlesey PE7 1UF Open 7.30am till 5.30pm Monday to Friday | 7.30am till 12 noon Saturday | Peterborough 01733 206991


The Fens | February 2018


52 The Fens | February 2018

The Fens February 2018  
The Fens February 2018