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A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens



a box of chocolates for your Mum

Issue 22 | March 2018


Sophie Allport


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PINO SOCCIO The Italian Singer PETER JAY The One and Only PINO SOCCIO The Best Italian Singer PETER JAY One Talented Voice PETER JAY The One and Only PINO SOCCIO The Italian Singer




ED’S letter

This month, as our brilliant contributor Eva Jordan discusses, it is International Women’s Day. It seems somewhat appropriate, therefore, to dedicate this issue to the many women who contribute to this publication every month (don’t worry men, your time will come). Behind the scenes of THE FENS HQ is a small but brilliant team. Supporting me throughout the month is my assistant Amy, who keeps Chris (our photographer) and me organised and in the right place at the right time. Once our issue is written and designed, my wonderful mother-in-law, Theresa, proofreads the magazine (and she’ll be checking this column before it prints, too!). I have many brilliant female contributors, from Leanne to Eva, Katy to Jade and Tia. And recently we’ve taken on a new sales manager, Cassie, who is working hard behind the scenes on our sister magazine, launching in Wisbech next month! So whilst they’re still saying that equal rights between men and women are still far away in certain aspects, THE FENS, I believe, is a great example of how talented the women in Fenland are, because without them, this publication wouldn’t exist. Hurrah to you all! That just gives me enough space to wish you all a lovely first month of Spring and to enjoy your March issue.


THIS month 11 Making Easter-inspired fudge

21 Your garden in March

13 Our pick of great activities this Easter

22 Inspiring story of two runners

15 Valentine’s Day gift picks 15 Mother’s Day gift ideas - PLUS a brilliant competition for your mum 16 Interviewing Sophie Allport


26 Spring fashion trends 32 A walk along the Ouse Valley Way 37 Advice from this month’s local entrepreneur 41 This month’s cover artist, Kelly McClorey

THE TEAM PUBLISHER / EDITOR Natasha Shiels EDITORIAL 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



A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens


Issue 22 | March 2018


a box of chocolates for your mum


Sophie Allport

46 Travel expert Jade talks about why cruises can make great holidays 48 What’s on guide - some of the great events happening in the next few months @thefensmag thefensmag


Illustration by Kelly McClorey

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 | March 2018



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4 SIGNS YOU MAY NEED FINANCIAL ADVICE There are moments in life when you need to make decisions which can have a huge impact on your finances. While some of us are better than others when it comes to managing our money, financial advice from a trusted expert can help you make the right decisions whenever circumstances or priorities change. Here are four moments when talking to an NFU Mutual Financial Adviser that could help you make the best decisions for you and your family. Do any apply to you and your circumstances? If they do, call us on 01733 2013 274 or pop in and see us at NFU Mutual, 24 Queen Street, Whittlesey, PE7 1AY.

You’re not sure you’ll have enough income in retirement Are you unclear about whether your pension savings will be sufficient when you slow down or stop working? Perhaps you want to review your existing pension and add to it with further investments – or even start a new one. It’s never too late to discuss your retirement plans.

You want to leave a legacy to your family If you’re thinking about the next generation, we can help you identify ways to ensure your family benefits from any wealth you want to pass on in the most tax-efficient way. Please remember that if we recommend any investments their value can go down as well as up and you may not get back what you originally invested.

Others rely on you No matter how well we plan, life has a habit of catching us unaware. How would your family cope if you were seriously ill or if you died? Would their future be secure if you were unable to work because of accident or illness? Following a divorce, it can be difficult to separate a lifetime of combined finances – our financial advisers can discuss your protection and pension needs.

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The Fens | March 2018




It’s the big 4-0 for Sands this year. The Stillbirth and Neonatal death charity was founded in 1978 by a small number of bereaved parents devastated by the death of their baby and by the total lack of acknowledgement and understanding of their loss. Since then, Sands has played a key role in raising awareness of baby death across the UK, supported thousands of parents whose babies have died and worked closely with Health Care Professionals to improve the care bereaved parents receive. Sands also aims to break the taboo and silence surrounding stillbirth. This not only helps those parents affected by the death of their baby to feel less isolated, but can contribute to the reduction in the number of babies dying through making expectant parents aware of the dangers. I first became aware of Sands following the loss of our son Charlie in 2012. Before Charlie, the word ‘stillbirth’ wasn’t something I really knew too much about. It was something I thought happened years ago. But sadly that’s not the case, 15

babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth every single day in the UK. I had no idea back then, but why would I? I’d had an easy, carefree pregnancy with my first son and was happily sailing through my second. So when I noticed Charlie hadn’t moved much one day, I called my midwife who suggested I pop along to hospital to be checked over. It was then that I learnt the devastating news, Charlie had died. A few days later I gave birth to him, he was perfect, but our world fell apart. The weeks and months that followed are a bit of a blur. Eventually after many weeks of hiding away I contacted Sands, online at first and then by phone, finally plucking up the courage to attend a support group. But I didn’t need courage, the support group was a safe place I was able to talk about Charlie and what had happened, I was able to talk, to cry, to listen and just be with others who understood exactly what I was going through. Sands support groups are there to offer support to anyone affected by the death of a baby. Peterborough and Stamford Sands are one of a network of over 100 support groups across the UK. Run by volunteers, the groups aim to offer support and raise awareness. The group works closely with Peterborough City hospital to improve bereavement care, and fundraises to allow all of this to happen. Sally Boylan and Lucy MacRae, both bereaved parents, launched the Peterborough and Stamford group

almost two years ago, wanting to help others who had been through what they had. Sally said “We understand the shock, devastation, sadness, isolation and guilt that can follow after a baby dies and are able to offer support via our support group”. She added, “Whether a baby was miscarried, stillborn, or died after birth and whether it happened very recently or a long time ago, we are able to offer support and information”. The group meets monthly at the ABAX Stadium on London Road. The meetings are informal so you can just turn up, they run from 7pm-9pm. For more information on our next meeting dates or to get in touch, please visit www.sandspeterborough. or you can find us on Facebook ‘Peterborough & Stamford Sands’. By Amy Eagling

Sands Support Meetings are open to anyone affected by the loss of a baby. 7pm - 9pm at ABAX Stadium, London Road, Peterborough. 22nd March 19th April 17th May 21st June

PIG DYKE MOLLY RAISE MONEY FOR HEADWAY Pig Dyke Molly are usually seen dancing energetically in amazing Black and White at various festivals, including Whittlesey's own Straw Bear Festival. As a break from this, on New Year's Eve they went from one function or pub to another to entertain, by dancing and collecting for charity. This year they chose to collect for Headway - the charity that helps those with brain damage - because the father of one of the side had been helped by the charity. All together they collected £487. On Monday 29th January, they presented a cheque for £500 to Robert Runcie, the Chair of The Trustees of Headway. Pig Dyke Molly wish to thank the people of Whittlesey who welcomed them and gave so generously to Headway. The Fens | March 2018



ANNUAL CHARITY GOLF DAY ANNOUNCED Whittlesey & District Lions Club are pleased to announce that their Annual Charity Golf Day will take place on Wednesday April 18th. The venue, as usual, will be The Ramsey Bowls & Golf Club, and the price has been held for another year at £140 per team of four. Teams will enjoy breakfast, Golf and afternoon dinner. Each year, the money raised goes to a local good cause. This year, The Fens Disabled Bowls Association in Whittlesey is the chosen recipient. If you would like an application form, just email

WHITTLESEY BEER FESTIVAL Over the weekend of the 18th – 20th May 2018, the Whittlesey Rotary Club will be holding its first BEER FESTIVAL at the Falcon Hotel, Whittlesey. The Real Ales will be from a selection of breweries within the Cambridgeshire area, together with some ciders etc. This is a fundraising event and your help is needed - the club are raising money for mental health and local charities including the YOUNG PEOPLE’S COUNSELLING SERVICE FOR WHITTLESEY. Make a note in your diaries and keep an eye open for further details. Whittlesey Rotary Club can be contacted whittleseyrotary@gmail. com and on facebook.

WHITTLESEY CHRISTMAS EXTRAVAGANZA Following the success of this event in 2017, the next step to organising the 2018 event is to hold an AGM. This will take place at the Falcon Hotel on March 6th starting at 7.30pm. The following posts are due for re-election: Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer and members of the committee. Although those in post are prepared to serve for a further year, all positons are open for nominations. If you feel that you can contribute to the committee or would like to voice an opinion, or even if you would like to hear what plans there are for 2018, please come along and have your say. For further information please contact lynn.palmer20

FREE RAMSEY SPRING HERITAGE DAY Sunday April 8th 11am – 5pm Don’t travel miles for a day out over the Easter holidays – just put PE26 1HG into your Sat Nav and take a short drive to a free event in Ramsey! You will be able to visit 7 different heritage sites for FREE on Sunday April 8th, from 11am until 5pm, enjoy some history and spot all the signs of Spring springing! Free Food & Craft Fayre The National Trust’s Abbey Gatehouse and medieval Lady Chapel are open with guides and from there you can stroll over to the beautiful Walled Kitchen Garden. The Ramsey Rural Museum has a free Craft and Food Fair as well as a café, for lunch or afternoon tea and cake, and once refreshed you can cross the road over to the Victorian Mortuary Chapels before heading back to the Abbey Green and St Thomas a Becket Church. Or, you could ride between all the sites and on to the 1940s Camp in a 1960s vintage bus for free and save your legs for taking in the sites! Family Fun There’s a colouring competition for the children as well as a search for Rammie’s chicks - they seem to have escaped the coop and have run off to the heritage sites. There is also a children’s activity pack, which is available in the library on the day, which should keep them happy exploring Ramsey over the Easter break. For more information and to see a calendar of events in Ramsey see 8

The Fens | March 2018

Spring Heritage Day Sunday 8th April 2018, 11am - 5pm Town Centre - PE26 1HG

��ring into a��on with a visit to 8 of Ramsey’s Heritage sites. FREE vintage bus rides and fami�y a��vi�es at a�� �o�a�ons.

Spring Heritage Day poster.pdf 1

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NEW TEAM FOR THE WHITTLESEY BUSINESS FORUM At the last meeting of the Whittlesey Business Forum, a new team was elected. Incoming Chair, Joe Jennings, thanked the previous team and former Chair, Steve Hodson, for their leadership and guidance over the past two years. Membership was buoyant and enquiries from potential new members encouraging. Joe promised enthusiastic support for the Forum with a number of activities. He was pleased to announce that a Community and Business Fayre is to held at the Manor Leisure Centre, Whittlesey, courtesy of Fenland District Council on May 20th. More details to follow. Picture above shows from left to right: Eamonn Dorling, Treasurer; Catherine Healy, Secretary; Outgoing Chair, Steve Hodson; new Chair, Joe Jennings; and Deputy Chair, Deborah Slator.

LOCAL BUSINESS TAKE THE BISCUIT The Ace Tones team attended the Peterborough Biscuit 2017 and were really impressed by the business exhibition at The Peterborough Arena, so when they were asked to be one of the sponsors for the Biscuit 2018, they couldn't be more excited. This was an opportunity for the local business to raise the profile of Ace Tones Entertainments locally. Ace Tones Entertainments have been in Whittlesey for over 15 years, and whilst they offer their services nationwide and get a lot of work in other areas of the country, they get far less locally. Four years ago, the company decided that this had to change and worked hard to gain business locally. Now they proudly work with Amazon Peterborough, John Lewis Peterborough, BGL, Whirlpool, Thomas Cook, Hotel Chocolat and were very proud to support the Whittlesey Extravaganza in December. Ace’s marquees and wedding entertainment are always booked up quickly, therefore, as The Biscuit event

On Saturday 13th January, seven fundraising members and a Trustee from the local charity Young People’s Counselling Service joined Slimming World members at their masquerade ball at the Holiday Inn, Peterborough, selling raffle tickets on behalf of the charity. The evening was hosted by Scott Smith who runs eight Slimming World groups in Hampton. This is the second year that Scott and the ball’s co-organiser Jo Leatherbarrow have supported the YPCS by donating all of the proceeds from raffle ticket sales. Scott also regularly donates prizes to the charity for other fundraising activities, with several Slimming World members showing their support through involvement in some of the charity’s other events, such as the fire walk and skydive that took place last year. Raffle prizes were kindly donated by both individuals and local businesses, including Peterborough based BGL Group, Michael John Hair and Bauer Media, Scott Smith Slimming World in Hampton, Circles of Yaxley and Diversity Boutique, Oundle. A whopping 10,000 tickets were sold overall, raising £1,360 for the charity, which provides free, confidential counselling to young people between the ages of eleven and sixteen. These funds will enable four young people to attend a course of twelve counselling sessions with a qualified counsellor. The valuable work carried out by the charity would not be possible without the fundraising efforts of people like Scott Smith and the Slimming World members, for which the charity is immensely grateful. A lovely evening was had by all and the YPCS committee look forward to seeing everyone again next year. If you would like to join the Young People’s Counselling Service fundraising committee or sign up for one of the fundraising events this year, just ‘like’ the YPCS Facebook page and details will follow. You can also make a donation, with £30 providing one young person with a counselling session. Contact YPCS on 0800 634 4395.

was aimed at businesses, they thought it was a great opportunity to show off their exhibition games. Rather than using the deluxe photo booth in the usual way, it was turned it into a photo pod, using one of their Vegas backdrops and stunning 1956 Buick we were able to demonstrate how a product and branding could be effectively combined in a fun way to create a photo with marketing messages. Visitors were also drawn to a 27 meter long stand and given the opportunity to try interactive games such as Batak wall, High Striker and Casino tables. A Giant Buzz wire also

drew crowds of people who enjoyed the competitiveness of it. Despite having sore feet by the end of the day we thoroughly enjoyed the Biscuit 2018 and feel that we added some fun to the event. You can find out more about Aces Tones Entertainments by visiting The Fens | March 2018



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A taste of EASTER WORDS NATASHA SHIELS IMAGES CHRIS BRUDENELL Easter is just arounnd the corner, so we visited Ely Fudge Company to give them a hand to make some egg-cellent seasonal fudge... Maybe I’m a big kid, but whenever I think of Easter, I always want to eat little chocolate eggs of any variety. So when I spotted that a local company was making Cadbury’s Creme Egg fudge, I couldn’t resist paying a little visit. In the heart of Ely, with the beautiful Cathedral behind, a quaint little shop smelling of sweet things tempts passers by. Ely Fudge Company has been a resident of Ely’s Market Place now for coming up to five years. With an emphasis on making the fudge within the shop itself, using traditional methods, it’s not difficult to see why mother and daughter duo, Louise and Jes, have some very loyal

customers. Fudge appears to have actually originated in America as far back as 1886. It is made by mixing sugar, butter, milk and evaporated milk, heating it to the soft-ball stage, before allowing it to cool. Once sufficiently cooled, the fudge is then poured onto a cold surface and carefully worked to allow it to crystalise. It’s at this stage that additional ingredients can be added, on this occasion, we added lots and lots of Mini Eggs. Whilst sounding simple enough, the art of making fudge can be tricky, as Louise explained. Different temperatures can alter the cooling

time, and measuring the ingredients carely is crucial, too much or too little of something could prevent the fudge from solidifying. Get it right however, and you create the perfect treat - soft, sweet fudge flavoured with almost anything you can imagine. “Our most popular fudge is definitely the salted caramel flavour,” Jes explained, “but at this time of year, our Creme Egg version sells so quickly sometimes it’s hard to keep up with demand!” For any one who hasn’t seen fudge being made, I would encourage you to visit a shop like Ely Fudge Company. Here you can watch the ladies pouring, folding and

The Fens | March 2018


Make your own FUDGE

flavouring right in front of you (although you are reminded not to touch the actual fudge, which is pretty challenging when it smells so nice). Louise and Jes sell their homemade fudge loose, in boxes and pretty bags which make ideal gifts. They’ve even made a wedding cake from fudge, and sold them as wedding favours. Ely Fudge Company is situated at 31 Market Place, Ely. Find our more by visiting www. thelocalfudgecompany. or you can email reallysweet@btconnect. The sweet company are also on Facebook and Instagram, where you can see their latest creations.

Why not have a go and making your own fudge this month with your own little helpers? Here’s a recipe from Louise at Ely Fudge Company (but don’t worry if it doesn’t come out quite right, you can always cheat and buy some instead....) This is my recipe that I used as a child for many years, it makes a simple but creamy fudge, made the proper way so it turns out crumbly. It will need supervision if a child makes it as it gets very hot! It also requires a lot of stirring, so a second person helps on this count too! 1. In a heavy based saucepan place 1kg granulated sugar, 1 x 250g pack of butter and 1 x large tin (410g) of evaporated milk (made up to a pint with cold water). 2. Bring to the boil, then stir constantly whilst cooking, as it has a tendency to burn! Boil until it has changed to a caramel colour, thickened and got to the “hard ball” stage - this means drip a few drops of the fudge into a cup of cold water it not only sets but has a slight hardness to it or “crispiness at the edges and you can form it into a definite shape. 3. Once it has reached this stage turn off the heat and then you must beat it until it is “fudging” which is where it suddenly gets very thick and almost granular and you can see it will be setting shortly. 4. Now quickly add in a capful of vanilla essence and mix in before quickly pouring into a greased (and preferably lined) baking tin. I used about a 9” square tin but any size will do, it just affects how thick the fudge is when finished. 5. Allow to cool for about 20 minutes, then cut the fudge with a knife. It should still be soft, but leave it in the tin and in about an hour it will be ready to divide up and serve.

12 The Fens | March 2018


Easter Egg Hunt Whilst it’s lovely having our children off school for Easter, parents often worry about how they will keep little ones entertained. Here’s our round-up of some local, Easter-themed activities which should keep our little bunnies happy....

Spring on the Farm (29 March – 15 April) Sacrewell have Easter well and truly covered. Visit them over the Easter weekend for their annual egg trail and to meet the Easter Bunny, or why not make your visit eggs-tra special (sorry!) and share breakfast with the Easter Bunny? Join the White Rabbit at a very special Mad Hatter’s tea party, eggs-perience the magic of drivein movies or book yourself onto our brand new lambing session. Sacrewell have some egg-cellent springtime crafts and activities as well as new born lambs and rare breed Suffolk Punch horses on the farm. Please visit for more information, including dates and how to book. Ferry Meadows Easter egg hunt (30 March & 1 April) Oh no, the Easter Bunny has misplaced all of his Easter eggs at Ferry Meadows! Can you and your family help him find them in time for Easter? Begin with some seasonal spring craft, explore the Park and hunt for eggs, then collect your prize at the end (one prize per child booked). Meet at the Discovery Den at Nene Park at between 10.30am – 12pm and 1.30pm – 3pm to join in. The activity costs £4 per person. Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt (Good Friday - Easter Monday) at Peckover House What will you discover this Easter at

Peckover House in Wisbech? Nature trails run over the Easter weekend, 11am to 4pm, and entry is £2.50 plus the normal admission. Easter Eggstravaganza at Peterborough Museum (31 March 10am-5pm) Join in at the Museum’s Easter eggstravaganza where kids can get their face painted, take part in an Easter egg hunt trail and so much more. £3 child (under 5s free) £4 adults £12 families Don’t miss out on all the fun, find out more at Eggstravaganza at Great Fen (10 April 1pm - 3:30pm) Discover new beginnings with Great Fen’s egg themed family event. Refreshments will be available and entry is £3 per person or £10 for a family of four. Booking is recommended. Please call 01487 815524 for more information. Easter Eggstravaganza at Peterborough Museum (31 March 10am-5pm) Join in at the Museum’s Easter eggstravaganza where kids can get their face painted, take part in an Easter egg hunt trail

and so much more. £3 child (under 5s free); £4 adults; £12 families Don’t miss out on all the fun, findout more at Easter Egg Trail at Johnsons of Old Hurst (30 March - 1 April) Johnsons of Old Hurst are holding their Easter Egg Trail on their family-friendly farm. Visit their tearoom afterwards for refreshments and enjoy seeing the various animals, including crocodiles! There’s also a play area for younger ones to run off some energy. Exact details for the trail are yet to be confirmed, so please visit www. or call 01487 824658 for more information. Whittlesey Mayor’s Charities Fundraising Duck Race (2 April at 2pm) Well known in Whittlesey is the annual Duck Race, raising money for the Mayor’s local charities. Starting at the former Hero of Aliwal at 2pm, hundreds of plastic ducks will be thrown from the bridge into the river and will race each other to the finish. Ducks can be bought for £1 either on the day or from the Town Council Office on Grosvenor Road, Dawsons Florist, Gifts Galore or contact Sue Piergianni, Town Clerk on 01733 351296. The Fens | March 2018




HOME - OFFICE - BUSINESS - COMMERCIAL Lily Rose Construction Ltd is a family-run carpentry and building company that specialises in supplying all the different trades to complete any project for you

Peckover House and Garden, Wisbech Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt What will you discover this Easter at Peckover? Nature trail runs from Good Friday to Easter Monday, 11am - 4pm, £2.50 plus normal admission




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Gifts to spoil your Mum

This month, spoil your Mum with a gift you know she will love. Here’s our pick of some lovely gifts we’d love to receive NEXT WATCH

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PAPERCHASE MUM IN A MILLION MUG PRICE: £10 From: Paperchase, Queensgate Shopping Centre



PRICE: £22.50 From: Hotel Chocolat, Queensgate Shopping Centre

We’ve teamed up with Hotel Chocolat in Queensgate Shopping Centre, to offer one lucky mum a box of chocolates. If your mum is deserving of a treat, email us why we should pick her, along with your contact details by March 8th to Good luck!

The Fens | March 2018


An interview with SOPHIE ALLPORT BY AMY CORNEY With Mothering Sunday just around the corner, we spoke to inspirational mum and local designer, Sophie Allport, whose collections include cute pink flamingos and dog beds WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR BUSINESS AND HOW DID YOU ACHIEVE THIS? My parents encouraged me to work hard at what I love and I’ve always loved to draw and paint. I was so lucky to have supportive parents who allowed me to follow my passion. I graduated from Leeds in 1994 in Graphic Art and Design, specialising in Illustration and then headed to London where I worked as a freelance illustrator for many years. My brother had always wanted to run his own business so in 2007 we joined forces and Sophie Allport Limited was born. As a qualified chartered accountant, Jem has 16 The Fens | March 2018

supplied the business acumen and drive to expand sourcing and sales of the Sophie Allport range, leaving me free to focus on design and product development. AS A MOTHER AND A BUSINESS OWNER HOW DO YOU JUGGLE YOUR WORK LIFE BALANCE? It’s really hard trying to juggle running my own business and bringing up

a family at the same time. I often feel pulled in many directions! As all working mums will agree, it’s trying to get the balance right. I can’t make every rugby match and assembly which is difficult but hopefully one day they’ll all understand. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY OFF? My perfect day off would be with

It’s really hard trying to juggle running my own business and bringing up a family at the same time. I often feel pulled in many directions!

The countryside around me and the amazing way the colours change with the seasons is a real inspiration. I’m obsessed by colour! family and friends at home. I would go on a long walk with the dogs and play with the kids in the garden. I rarely have the time but really enjoy pottering in the garden. I love this time of year when the Spring flowers are beginning to show their heads. We have the most wonderful spray of bluebells and snowdrops in the garden. WHERE DOES YOUR INSPIRATION COME FROM? All of my collections are inspired by the outdoors… I’m a very keen gardener hence our Gardening collection. We have a nest of Swallows in the old stables at home and I was fascinated watching them swoop and dive with such grace. When we first moved out of London my friend got some chickens – they’re so quirky and full of character and they inspired me to design the ‘Speckled Marans’ that cover the chicken collection. I continually see hares racing across the fields and pheasant birds with their quirky mad rushes across the roads. Our dog and cat collections have been inspired by my own pets and friends’ animals. I used to visit my uncle and aunt in Africa when I was a young child and they took us on the most amazing Safari trips – I remember being in awe of all the animals and the vibrant pink flamingos. My three young boys definitely inspire me, too with their fascination with nature, animals and sport! HOW DO YOU SPEND A TYPICAL DAY IN THE STUDIO?  I tend to paint at my kitchen table where the Aga keeps me warm and cosy and the dogs will often be at my feet! I’ll have plenty of coffee to hand and usually a bar of dark chocolate! WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL HIGHLIGHT FROM RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?  I was once commissioned to paint something for HRH Prince Charles and had the honour of presenting it to him, which was very special. An annual highlight is the Chelsea Flower Show - it’s such a special event and as a passionate gardener I’m inspired The Fens | March 2018


and cattle.

every year with the displays that get created. We’re very proud to have been highly commended for our stand for the past six years. HOW WILL YOU BE SPENDING MOTHER’S DAY THIS YEAR? We will have a relaxed roast lunch (cooked by my husband, hopefully!) after supporting the boys’ playing rugby in the morning. A long walk with the dogs will probably feature and collapsing in front of the fire in the evening!

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR SOMEONE WANTING TO START A CREATIVE BUSINESS? Be prepared for a lot of hard work! DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE PLACE TO VISIT IN THE LOCAL AREA?  We are so lucky to have beautiful Stamford just up the road. I love shopping in Stamford - Hambledon Bakery is a real treat and I love indulging in a coffee and watching the world go by in Café Chocolat. We used to live near Oundle, so I enjoy going back there for a pub lunch to catch up with old friends.

ARE YOU DESIGNING A MUG FOR HARRY AND MEGHAN’S WEDDING? Watch this space! There might be a surprise for Harry and Meghan and for Kate and Wills’ baby number three!

WHAT NEW PRODUCTS WILL YOU BE LAUNCHING FOR SPRING THIS YEAR? We are launching six new collections this Spring. Three new dog designs: Dachshund, Pug and Fab Labs. There’s also a very Spring inspired ‘Sheep’ collection and a ‘Garden Birds’ range featuring five popular British birds. Finally, there’s a new Dinosaur children’s collection. As well as the new designs, we are also launching over 200 new products! New bags, accessories and porcelain. We’ve been very busy! ANIMALS AND THE COUNTRYSIDE FEATURE HEAVILY IN YOUR WORK. DO YOUR LOCAL SURROUNDINGS INSPIRE YOU?  The countryside around me and the amazing way the colours change with the seasons is a real inspiration. I’m obsessed by colour! There’s something very magical about that in the UK. Being able to see the wildlife around us in everyday life is very inspiring. Close to home I’ll often see deer, hares, red kites, pheasant and partridge. We have swallows and owls nesting in the barns at home and are surrounded by fields of sheep, horses 18 The Fens | March 2018

The Sophie Allport shop opened on Stamford High Street in May 2017. It is open every day. Her popular ‘Seconds Shop’ is open at King Street Industrial Estate, Langtoft (PE6 9NF) on Monday – Friday (9am-5pm). Everything in the Seconds area is half price. 01778 560256

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Spring is finally here! The warmer and sunnier days during March provide the opportunity for an increasing range of gardening tasks. It’s a great time of the year as new life bursts forth and the garden begins to transform. Preparation of seed beds and borders should be well under way this month as well as cutting back winter shrubs and generally tidying up the mess that the winter has left behind. Whether you’re preparing for shrubs and bedding plants or sowing seed for vegetables, once all the tidying is done you’ll be in a better position to plan the season’s planting.

Looking good this month...

3 ESSENTIAL GARDENING JOBS FOR MARCH SOW SEED AND PLANT ONION SETS, SHALLOTS & POTATOES As the soil begins to warm you can start to sow broad beans, salads and sweet peas. If bad weather is forecast be sure to cover seedlings with cloches to protect them. March is also the time to plant out onion and shallot sets – cover with fleece or netting to protect from birds. Early varieties of potato such as ‘Rocket’ and ‘Swift’ can be planted in the early part of the month. If they have been kept in a light and frostfree environment they should be ‘chitting’ (a slight sprouting from the seed potato). Chitting before planting can encourage earlier and heavier cropping. FEED As the warmer weather promotes fresh growth a general garden fertiliser should be applied to help boost roots, green foliage and encourage more fruits and flowers from your plants. It can be applied

around the base of plants by scattering straight from the box and left to be watered in by the rain. Unfortunately the warm weather will also see weeds start to grow as well. Weeding isn’t the most popular of jobs but it is best to pull any that start to appear while they are young to prevent spreading. SCARIFY THE LAWN Do some lawn preparation this month before the growing season gets well and truly under way. Choose a dry day and give the lawn a thorough rake to remove the remnants of winter before giving a cut with the mower blades set at the highest position. Then aerate with a garden fork or aeration machine. This improves drainage and gets oxygen to the grass roots. Finally, apply a top dressing of spring lawn feed to add nutrients. Enjoy your garden!

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FROM COUCH TO 5K AND BEYOND... When photographer Chris Brudenell decided he’d had enough of being unfit and overweight, he never imagined how his whole life would change...

Chris is more used to being behind the camera, rather than in front. But recently he has found himself the centre of attention - and rightfully deserved. He, alongside training partner Carly Vine, have undergone an impressive transformation. Just seven months ago Chris weighed 23 stone and Carly was a size 24. The pair have shrunk to an incredible 16 stone and size 14. So what’s their secret? Hard work, exercise and healthy eating. Simple, right? Of course it’s not as simple as that, so how have Chris and Carly managed where so many of us fail? “I was about to hit the big 4-0, and had a few health scares,” Chris explained. “I couldn’t carry on any more the way I was and I had run out of excuses.” Motivated by wanting to take his daughter to Go Ape and a fear that his health was deteriorating, Chris approached his friend Carly for help. “I have ALWAYS been repulsed by myself, my image and my relationship with food,” added Carly. “I had to admit my habits to someone who understood what it’s like and who wouldn’t judge me, in order to both accept and address these habits. I became accountable for my actions. After accepting and beginning to address the food relationship, the time was right for incorporating some serious exercise, as opposed to just ticking the boxes.” But how do you stay motivated when it’s cold outside, or you’re feeling a bit tired? “As well as being accountable to, and for, myself and also to Chris, I set myself extensive, yet 22 The Fens | March 2018

achievable targets every few months. If it’s a running event for example, I now ensure I have at least one booked for a few months after the one I am currently working toward. If it’s a more long term goal, I reward myself (with something other than food these days). For example, for every mile I run this year, I save £1. I’m planning to save £1000 this year and I have plans in place for those funds.” “The gym has been a huge asset to us in our training,” Carly added. “We’ve incorporated strength and conditioning training to our workouts as well as joining in with some enjoyable classes. When it’s been too cold or frosty to run outside, the gym has given us somewhere suitable to be able to work out. It’s prevented us having too many ‘rest days’.” Between them, Chris and Carly have collected several medals, their latest for a 10k in London. There’s no denying that running and the gym have changed their lives. “I feel so much more energised,” added Chris, “the weight loss is amazing but it’s also changed my mood and friends have commented how much happier I am now.” “I feel now I’ve got it right,” Carly agreed. “I’m a qualified fitness instructor, so I know what to do - BUT, it will ONLY work if you are READY to make changes. If your mind isnt in the right place, it’ll never work. “Aside from the weight loss, I feel more confident in my abilities. I am doing things I never dreamed I’d do. I love discovering the new things my body can do and what it’s capable of. As someone who previously went

through counselling, CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) and was on medication for severe depression, I can honestly say that this has been the best therapy I’ve ever had.” So what advice would Carly offer to somebody who wants to get off the couch and start exercising? “Having a buddy to travel this journey with makes a HUGE difference. For me, having a buddy has been imperative to my results. I’m accountable. Some days, it’d be easy to talk yourself out of it, but letting your friend down isn’t so easy.” Your local gym is a great place to start. “Going to the gym has been a great support for me,” Chris explained. “There’s a real sense of community. The instructors are brilliant at New Vision in Whittlesey too, if you’re never not sure of anything, just ask them!” With a half marathon planned for both Chris and Carly in October, the pair aren’t likely to be stopping any time soon. Their story is a brilliant example of how anybody can get healthier and fitter by following a sensible fitness programme and eating better. If you’ve been inspired by their story and want to change your lifetsyle, visiting your local gym and getting some professional advice is essential. It might also be worth a visit to your GP to get an overall health check before embarking on any new exercise regime. Above all, find something you enjoy because it’s a lot easier sticking to something you like rather than something you have to grin and bear.

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This month’s KEEPING YOUR book review SKIN IN CHECK A History of Britain in 21 Women by Jenni Murray; Oneworld Publications This year marks the one hundriedth anniversary of the Act of Parliament granting women the legal right to vote. Also, on March 8th, it is International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, observed annually since the early 1900’s. I therefore thought it appropriate to review a book that was both fitting and relevant to these historic events. A History of Britain in 21 Women is written by Dame Jenni Murray; probably best known as presenter of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and whom I had the very great pleasure of meeting last year. These short biographies are a personal selection chosen by Murray to present the history of Britain through the lives of twenty-one women, whose lives embodied hope and change, who refused to surrender to established laws of society, and who still have the power to inspire us today. In the introduction Murray, born in 1950, states that growing up “the role of a woman was to learn how to be a good wife and mother, do the cooking and cleaning and nurture those her around her.” She quotes Thomas Carlyle, circa 1840, who said ‘The history of the world is but the biography of great men,’ and as a young girl growing up in Barnsley in the 1950’s and ‘60’s that’s pretty much what Murray believed. However, it was education that made her question the expectations placed on women, and after attending a wonderful girls’ school she began to discover many women who had influenced history and also challenged the assumption that a woman’s place was in the home. Murray writes about, to name but a few: Boadicea, Queen of the Iceni tribe, who fought bravely against the Romans to preserve a social structure that had been practised by, and so important to, the women of the tribes of Britain – namely equality, Aphra Behn, the first English woman playwright to earn her living by her pen; astrologer Caroline Herschel, after whom a crater on the moon is named, and computing pioneer Ada Lovelace. Our verdict… Written as biographies in small chunks, A History of Britain in 21 Women is well researched, informative and entertaining. Dedicated to “all the young people who need to know” it is an illuminating, easy read offering a great deal to both women and men of all ages.

Makeup Artist Tia reveals her 5 top tips for perfect skin this month

Understanding your skin type and its needs are the secrets to keeping you looking healthy, glowing and young. Check out my five steps to keeping your skin in perfect condition: STEP 1 - Understand what skin type you are: oily, dry, normal, combination or mature STEP 2 – Find the products that work best for your skin type. Make sure you have a minimum of 5 key products that you use on your skin, and don’t worry, you won’t be using all 5 products every day! STEP 3 – On a daily basis, you should be making sure you stick to a 3-step skincare routine of cleansing, toning and moisturising. Do this at least 1 to 2 times a day. STEP 4 – On a weekly basis, you should incorporate products like exfoliators and masks. Exfoliators should only be used between 1 to 2 times a week maximum, as they can be very abrasive on the skin and causes some irritation if used incorrectly. A mask can be used once a week to help replenish and treat the skin. STEP 5 – Did you know, most serums now are packed full of vitamins and minerals that your skin loves and needs? I recommend using a serum specific for your skin type between 1 to 2 times a week. I work alongside a company which has a wide range of natural, aloe vera based skin care products to suit all skin types. If you are interested in trying some of these products, for FREE, please contact me. Please visit to download your FREE copy of my “10 Steps to Perfect Skin” guide.


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A SPRING IN Y O U R S T E P... Personal Stylist and Confidence Guru, Sara Fontanella, helps put a SPRING in your step this season

March. The time of year where we can finally say goodbye to that fur coat we bring out every Winter, those heavy boots and socks, and that matching hat and glove set. It’s the time of year where we feel better in ourselves, we venture out for walks and most importantly, we dress differently. It’s time to embrace all things SPRING. As the slightly longer days approach and the birds sing, we head into that awkward ‘what to wear’ time of year. ‘It’s not cold but

it’s windy?’ ‘Do I need a coat?’ ‘I have nothing to wear!’ Know what I mean? Each month I will be talking about what to wear to keep you and your wardrobe up-to-date with the current trends through my style advice. This year, we see the return of pastels. We can expect to see pale shades of pink, blue and yellow, as seen from the likes of Victoria Beckham, Chanel and Hermes. Here are some of my ideas to help inspire your take on the trend...

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SHAKE IT UP! Still A Long Way To Go #PressforProgress

New Year’s resolutions may now be a distant memory….my paperwork is most certainly still a mess, the spare room has not been sorted out and I have lost my keys/bank card/glasses several times…. However, I don’t think anyone that uses social media could have missed news about Veganuary this year. It appears more people are considering the benefits of a plantbased diet in 2018 and I know several people who have taken to having a couple of meat free days a week. Although I am not a vegan I have certainly taken to trying to include more fruit and veg above my ‘five-a-day’ into my diet and can recommend Chris Wollams and Barbara Cox’s ‘Rainbow Recipes’ for inspiration. Hitting the gym in the New Year will also have meant some people have used protein powders to help build muscle- although this is not their only purpose. I am introducing one that is not based on the common whey protein.

Local author and mother of two EVA JORDAN shares her musings

natural sweeteners- so is a better low-glycemic choice compared to other products and it is gluten, dairy and soy free without any transfats or artificial flavours or colours. As well as protein it contains natural enzymes, fibre and key vitamins and minerals so it is a natural, nutritious snack! For a quick and easy breakfast (or snack) I like to mix Pure-Nourish with banana, berries and coconut or almond milk. It is also great with nutbutters or spices- perfect on the go!

PureNourish includes pea and cranberry protein that is readily absorbed without triggering digestive problems that people can experience with proteins such as whey. It also includes a soluble fibre that includes digestion-friendly probiotics, prebiotics and micro flora. It is flavoured with

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This month, 8th March 2018, is International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, political, cultural, and economic achievements of women. It is also a day that marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. The call to action this year is #PressforProgress and with global activism for women’s equality fuelled by movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp momentum is particularly strong this year. 2018 also marks the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the UK. So, a century on, how are we doing? Sadly, the findings of the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report suggest gender parity is still over 200 years away. Disheartening to say the least. Further research suggests that globally, one in three women suffer from gender-based violence, sixty two million girls, annually, are denied access to education, and women in the workplace still suffer in terms of pay and representation. Much has also been written about the inequality female writers still face in the writing and publishing world. And, as a female writer myself, I wanted to explore this a bit further. In terms of reviews, literary prizes and senior positions within publishing houses, many are still being awarded to men above women. Even World Book Night shows that the picks of the last 5 years have been made up of 64 male versus 36 female authors. And author Nicola Griffith shows gender bias in her study, published in May 2015, of prizewinning books both here and across the pond, broken down by the gender of their protagonists. Her findings suggest in the last 15 years, 12 of the Bookerwinning novels have had male protagonists, two have had female protagonists, and one has had both male and female protagonists. The Booker fared better than the Pulitzer, which has had no female protagonist among its 15 winning books. I was also disappointed to find in a study carried out by The Guardian in August 2016, articles written by women, irrespective of their content or subject matter, attract more abuse and dismissive trolling than those written by men. However, it’s not all bad news, women are making advances. I only have to look at my daughter to see the opportunities available to her compared to my mother who, born in 1950, was paid half the wage of a man when she first started working. Nonetheless, let’s not get complacent, continue to unite, support one another and #PressforProgress for women. The Fens | March 2018




TAKEAWAYS VS. HOMECOOKED FOOD People often argue that eating healthier is more expensive. Although on the surface this appears to be true, when we dig a little deeper we see a very different picture. I have quite a lot of facts and figures coming up, but stay with me. They are all based on the ‘average’ UK consumer, which isn’t always iron clad as everyone’s diet is different, but I actually found these figures from a 2017 UK study to be pretty close to many individuals I have worked with. The average annual spend per person on food and nonalcoholic beverages for the home is £1252. £671 of this is spent on fruits, vegetables, fish and poultry with the other 46% making up everything else such as soft drinks, processed meats, cakes, crisps etc. Let’s temporarily forget that if we dropped the bad stuff, we would


have around 46% more in our shopping budgets to play with. How much are we also spending on takeaways per person annually? £678 a year! Almost exactly the same as we spend on the good stuff, and over 50% of the equivalent of our total grocery spend on one-off meal purchases rather than fresh ingredients that can be used to make multiple meals a week. As an example, the average cost of a Chinese takeaway for one is around £13. When we consider that the average weekly spend on food shopping per person is £24 we can see that for the equivalent of one meal we could have purchased enough to cover another half a week’s food from the supermarket and been financially the same. I’m not saying never treat yourself to something tempting and convenient, I actively encourage people to incorporate some indulgence into their diets to help them stay permanently on track, but financially speaking, it is clear that the average consumer would be far better off and much healthier if more was spent on good groceries for the home.

For more information and further assistance with diet and nutrition, contact Rob via

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the overarching aspects of the game. Then there are a large group of analysers (50200 people) seating behind feeding the commenter’s information. These analysers The confines of human [our subconscious brain] are physiology attribute looking at everything else, intuition (sixth sense) to our i.e. taking apart the strategy, subconscious brain. Our looking at past records / subconscious brain is many, results, analysing individual many times more powerful than our conscious brain. We performances, counting stats, watching the weather, can define the subconscious talking to team members on brain as the part that the sidelines, looking at the performs all the functions we are not consciously aware of. reactions of the fans, etc. We categorise these functions They are then summarising and feeding this information into: to the commenter’s. Like the subconscious brain, 1. Daily – Those activities these analysers vastly essential for our life, e.g. outnumber the commenter’s our heartbeat, hormonal and are therefore able to secretion, breathing, etc. process substantially more information. 2. Awareness – processing the information gained from The commenters alone could our senses to create a world give the viewer a good for our conscious brain to account of the game, but it explore. is the analysers which enable the commenter’s to bring the 3. Memory management game alive and to provide – although the access of a depth that is entertaining memories is a conscious and deeply insightful to the event, the process of viewer. categorising and storing the experiences occurs behind In the same way the the scenes. subconscious brain gives us the depth to make inspired To understand intuition decision which we term let’s use an analogy of a intuition. It is unsurprising that commentary team during intuition is attributed to sleep. a sporting event. There When we are sleep deprived are usually two or three we notoriously make bad commenters [our conscious decisions. Why? Because the brain] keeping an eye on analysers are asleep!

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30 The Fens | March 2018


A year


WORDS David White, RSPB

When I was thinking about what I was going to write this article about, I realised that it is exactly a year since I wrote my first article for this publication. It was about hearing and seeing bitterns, which are rare species of herons, at RSPB Ouse Fen. A year later, I thought I would write another article about Ouse Fen, as the project to create it is really rather significant! The project is so significant that on Friday 26 January, BBC Countryfile were filming on site to document the project. You may have even seen the feature on Countryfile by the time you read this as it was due to air on Sunday 11 February. The project to create RSPB Ouse Fen is known as the Hanson RSPB Wetland Project and it began in 2001. It is an ambitious partnership project between the RSPB and Hanson UK. It is the largest project of wetland creation after mineral extraction of its kind. When the project finishes in the 2030’s, RSPB Ouse Fen will cover an impressive 980 football pitches and will include the UK’s largest reedbed. It is based at Needingworth Quarry in Cambridgeshire, which is one of the largest sand and gravel quarries in Europe. In simple terms, what will eventually be the completed reserve has been

split into “cells”. Once Hanson have finished quarrying a given cell, it is turned into a reedbed. The cells are then handed over to the RSPB one by one and the RSPB manages them from then on. To date, the reserve covers an area equivalent to 245 football pitches. This means that approximately 25% of what will eventually the reserve is now managed by the RSPB. Significant populations of rare breeding birds have already colonised the reserve and there were 10 booming male (males in breeding condition) bitterns on the reserve in 2015. As the reserve increases in size, it is expected that more of these scarce herons will colonise the reserve. There were a minimum of 166 booming males in Britain in 2017, so the population at RSPB Ouse Fen is already very significant. Once the reserve is complete, the aim is to have at least 20 booming males at the site. The reserve is also home to important populations of other reedbed specialists such as marsh harriers and bearded tits. Elusive otters call the reserve home and water voles are also present. There are good populations of breeding black headed gulls and common terns

“When the project finishes in the 2030’s, RSPB Ouse Fen will cover an impressive 980 football pitches and will include the UK’s largest reedbed” during the summer months. The pools around the Quarry settling lagoon are also a good place to see smews in the winter. These cold weather ducks are always quite hard to find in the Fens, but is always worth looking for them at Ouse Fen. In terms of visiting the site, there is currently a small reserve car park close to Needingworth village. There are two reserve trails, one which is five miles long and the other which is six miles long. In terms of viewing facilities, there is now a viewing mount at the end of the Reedbed Trail, the longer of the two trails. When the reserve is finished, there will be almost 20 miles of rights of way crisscrossing the reserve. If you would like to find out more about RSPB Ouse Fen, please search online for: “RSPB Ouse Fen” for more information. We hope to see you on the reserve soon! The Fens | March 2018


Walk of the month

Houghton to St Ives on the Ouse Valley Way Spring is just around the corner, and Leanne celebrates with a walk along the Ouse Valley Way WORDS AND IMAGES LEANNE HYLAND I hear the rumbling of water long before I see the mill. The sound travels far beyond the riverbank, following me through the forest. The clouds above are darkening and I wonder how long the weather will hold out before I’m treated to an extremely early spring shower. The answer? About 30 minutes - that’s when the hail starts to fall as I walk along a trail known as the thicket path, a riverside stroll linking Houghton with St Ives. It’s a five-mile round trip, but I stop frequently along the way to take in the stillness of the waters, admire the colours of the canopies above and breathe in the cold, damp air. And when light finally breaks through the cloud, I soak up the warmth of the winter sun on my face – I’d almost forgotten what that feels like. About a mile behind me sits the unassuming village of Houghton, with its guildhall, thatched clocktower, water pump and wonky, beamed cottages. Images of smartly dressed women hopping into horse and carts spring to mind as I walk through its charming streets, heading in the direction of the village’s most famous landmark, Houghton Mill. Owned by the National Trust, the historic 18th century water mill sits on the Great Ouse River and still grinds flour to this day. Once inside you can explore rickety wooden staircases and rustic low beamed rooms, there’s even a milling demonstration held on weekends when volunteers in traditional dress gear up the giant millstones to grind flour. The thicket trail begins just a few metres from the mill and leads me to a wide path protected by towering trees, branches 32 The Fens | March 2018

hanging bare in the steely winter temperatures. To my surprise, on the ground below, signs of life are already re-emerging from the frost, with a delicate trail of snowdrops carpeting the forest floor at the foot of thick, gnarled oaks. The trail is easy to follow with beautiful views over the Ouse river and surrounding fields where ponies graze. The rain has long fizzled out now, the skies have brightened and the sun beams down casting a golden glow over the horizon in the afternoon light. As I approach the market town of St Ives, the forested paths turn into canal side tracks. I walk slowly along the waterfront, managing to attract the attention of a few nosy swans. There’s a stillness about this place and I sit listening to the sounds of the town, dangling my feet over the water below. Pushing on, I head down intricate back streets and alleyways lined with market stalls and boutiques towards the 15th century arched bridge and chapel gracefully crossing over the Ouse River. An ancient monument and one of only three bridge chapels left surviving in England today, its history can be traced back generations, once serving as a notorious public house, inn and a doctor’s surgery. It even

Beautiful forest canopy along Thicket Road

incorporates a crypt, lying just above water level. This area, known as the Old Riverport, is something truly special. Awash with character, it’s my highlight of the day so far. The path home takes me a somewhat different route, leading me first across the beautiful Hemingford Meadows before re-joining the riverside trail on the outskirts of Houghton. The five large fields surrounding the village are made up of ancient hay meadows, with some used for pastoral farming. Hedgerows line the land beyond and a tiny brook trickles in the direction of Hemingford Grey. With the arrival of spring in just a few weeks, these wetlands will see a dramatic transformation. Between bare branched and twisted willows, a sea of flowers will arise, from bright yellow cowslips and pink orchids to purple knapweed. I don’t know about you, but I’m already just a little bit excited to welcome back the beautiful colours of spring.


Distance: 5.5 miles Opening: The mill runs on Sundays and bank holidays between March and October Terrain: Footpaths, meadows and village streets Facilities: Café and toilets at Houghton Mill

Houghton Mill is the oldest working water mill on the River Great Ouse Snowdrops spring back into life

Gulls float along the waterfront at St Ives

St Ives is a bustling market town with a farmers’ market held twice every month

The Fens | March 2018


PET CORNER| Sadly, one thing is for sure for all of us including our pets, and that is, the minute that we are born we start to get older. As with people, our pets suffer from many of the same traits that we do, i.e. stiff joints, sight problems, memory loss, loss of hearing, etc. It is by no means a certainty that our pets will get any or all of these conditions, so don’t worry that everything is going to happen to your beloved pet. Sometimes the breed of the pet pre-determines a condition that they may get, for example, retriever breeds like Labradors are commonly seen in practice because of arthritis and other joint problems. Brachycephalic breeds such as Boxers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Pugs are pre-disposed to getting eye problems due to the prominence of their eyes. German Shepherds and other long backed breeds like Dachshunds can get spinal problems due to the mis-match between their leg length and the length of their spine and relative size. Cats too get their share of problems. Indoor pedigree cats can get mobility issues due to their comparative lack of exercise, but mobility issues as well as other issues are often not noticed in cats due to their ability to ‘pretend’

This issue, Whittlesey Veterinary Centre looks at the ageing process of our pets

that there’s nothing wrong with them. When we take our dogs for a walk, we notice them slowing down, or more reluctant to go out, taking longer to get up and are sleeping deeper. With most of the ageing process, there are various medications and neutraceuticals available that can be given to slow down or ease the problem, but sadly there is nothing that will reverse them. With some of the conditions, there are things that we can do as owners in order to prolong our pets’ optimal years. Things such as providing a healthy balanced diet, not feeding too many treats that can affect their teeth or allow them to gain too much weight, and allowing them the correct amount of exercise to keep their body and brains active. The amount of exercise is largely dependant upon breed. Looking after our pets’ internal health is a very important part of pet ownership and this can be partly achieved by a regular flea, tick and worm regime alongside the good diet and exercise. Other pets that we may have, such as birds (particularly parrots and birds of prey) and tortoises can, in some

cases, have an exceptionally long life. All of the same problems occur in these pets but it is very difficult to notice as they manifest very slowly. The conditions are tricky to diagnose and need the expertise of a specialist exotics vet, as these pets aren’t at all anything like a mammal. It is important to have regular check ups with your veterinary surgeon, as some of the aforementioned conditions can, if left undiagnosed, be harder to treat. If you would like any information of a supplementary feed to assist your pet in making the ageing process more comfortable, please don’t hesitate to contact the surgery.


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Your pet’s our passion

Trying something new A number of years ago I came back from my summer holiday determined to keep fit. I decided I’d go swimming each week and set myself goals and targets. I checked the local swimming pools online and found one that had public lane swimming at a time that suited.

How do you respond when someone invites you to something new? When the day arrives what are you thinking as you look for the building your meant to go to; as you enter through the doors; as you find yourself in a new and unfamiliar environment?

The reason I’m asking When the first day arrived, I these questions is because was surprised to find myself I’m aware that over more than a little nervous. recent months I’ve often I wasn’t nervous to go ended this article with an swimming, although I hadn’t invitation to come to one been for a while I knew that of our services. Yet, for Paul Kosciecha, I would at least be ok for a many a church service Whittlesey Baptist Church few lengths. No, the reason I would probably come was nervous was because I under the category of hadn’t been to this swimming pool before. I ‘new’ experience. It isn’t a familiar didn’t know what it would be like, where to environment, it’s a strange one. go or quite how everything worked. With this in mind, I thought it might be Now, we’re all different. Some of us thrive helpful to write a little about what we off new experiences and the unknown do in our services on a Sunday morning doesn’t faze us one bit. Yet, for others we and evening. like our routines and we need at least These are times when we meet together some level of persuasion to do something to worship God. We pray and sing songs different.


that help us to think about who God is and what he has done. Not everyone is musical, and we try to sing songs that are easy to pick up. We read the Bible and at each service there will be a Bible talk where part of the Bible is explained, and we think about its relevance to our lives. This talk is often done by me, but we also have others who will do this. Our services are open to everyone and we have a welcome team who are there to help you find a seat and answer any questions you might have. Children are welcome too and nobody minds if they make a bit of noise. We do have a crèche for pre-school children that runs during the Bible talk for those who want to make use of it. Through the year we have special events (see the advert on our Holiday Club for kids this Easter) and it’s great to see different people coming along and enjoying themselves. Why not join in with one of our services and find out a little more about what the Bible has to say about God and our lives?

The Fens | March 2018


Accounting for your success

Getting Married – Tell the Taxman It’s unlikely that a taxman or taxwoman will be on your wedding guest in a professional capacity but they may have a gift for you through tax concessions to which you are entitled. Overseas Stag weekends and Hen parties may fall outside marriage tax allowance guidelines but HM Revenue & Customs says newly-weds are still failing to claim what could be due to them, writes Donna Gidney.

Whiting & Partners offers core accounting services with specialist expertise in:

The government has tried to simplify the application process since the tax allowance was introduced in 2015 but only 2.2 million couples have claimed it against the 4.4 million eligible.

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HMRC has recently launched awareness campaigns through advertising and its websites to encourage couples to apply. Applications are increasing year-on-year claims but have been much lower than anticipated. Many of those eligible may not even be aware that they are entitled to the marriage tax allowance or may not understand the application process.

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

Studies show that the numbers of people getting married or entering civil partnerships and claiming allowances has risen sharply. However, half of those who take their vows still fail to collect when they pledge ‘I do’. A year ago HMRC reported that only a quarter of couples eligible for marriage tax allowance were actually claiming. The figures have increased but still stand at just over a half of couples missing out on the £230-a-year they are entitled to.

How does the marriage allowance work? Here are five helpful pointers for couples who could claim the allowance – • To be eligible partners must either be married or in a civil partnership. • One partner needs to be earning at least £11,500 a year, and paying tax at the basic rate of 20%. If he or she is earning over £45,000 they are not eligible. • The other partner must be earning less than £11,500 in 2017-18 and therefore paying no tax. • If the above conditions are met, the partner not paying tax can transfer 10% of his or her tax allowance to a partner, so saving £230 in this tax year. • Couples can make back-claims for previous years.

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These are the basic pointers and there may still be queries relating to the marriage allowance, if so speak to your usual Whiting & Partners contact or get in touch with the March office to explore individual circumstances. Information on which this article is based is correct at the time of publishing. Any updates are available on our website Bury Edmunds | Ely | Huntingdon | King’s Lynn | March | Mildenhall | Peterborough | Ramsey | St. Ives | St. Neots | Wisbech 36 TheSt. Fens | March 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 they crave. We as a team, and the community help them with advice, tools and support to ensure their business is running as well as can be, making them money and giving them the work life balance they want. Briefly can you introduce yourself and your business/businesses? I am Jo, a 33 year old mother of two and founder of Hallmark Carpets & Flooring, Serenity Loves and The Unique Mumpreneur. How did you come up with your business idea? My husband and I started Hallmark Carpets and Flooring eight years ago whilst I was on maternity leave with our first daughter. Becoming parents changed our lives and priorities instantly. We knew quite quickly that we BOTH wanted the freedom to control our own diaries day to day and not have to ask permission to have time off to see our child in activities as she grew up or miss precious milestones due to working for someone else. After the birth of my second child I decided to open a hair and beauty salon with a creche. It was a service that I needed, therefore I assumed other people would need it too. Helping mothers gain back some time for themselves and have somewhere to go to relax became a real passion for me so after some extensive research I decided to open Serenity Loves in March 2012. Over the last two years I built up the business and trained a strong management team to run the salon day to day, leading me to my third business, The Unique Mumpreneur. The Unique Mumpreneur is an online and in person community that helps women do exactly what I did, set up and grow their own businesses, whilst raising a family. I love helping women to gain control of their future and help them gain the work life balance

What steps did you take to launch it? All three businesses were in completely different industries, and industries I had no experience, so I did lots of research before I committed to starting them. For example, was the industry a growing one? Was there a local need for it? What demographic would most be most likely to purchase the services and how would I market to them. I wrote a business plan for all three businesses which gave me a clear plan of what I wanted to achieve and how I was going to do it. I also took advantage of the people around me and and utilised their skills, in exchange for lots of dinners or free hair cuts when the salon opened. What advice would you give to somebody wanting to start out? Be clear on what you want to achieve, the service/product you want to offer, and know who it is you need to market to. Do your research on your industry, your area and your competitors, do not go in blind. Educate yourself from the beginning, speak to others in business, read business books, go networking and get a mentor! I actively encourage learning from other people’s mistakes, it will save you a lot of money, time and tears. What’s the best and worst part of running your own business? I do not enjoy the HR side of business, I am someone who likes to get on with everyone and a bit of a people pleaser so I hate having to tell someone off or do investigations/ disciplinaries, thankfully we now have great teams in all of our businesses

so this does not need to happen very often. The best part of running my own business is the control I have over my own diary. At the beginning of each school term I write all the dates of my children’s school and extra-curricular activities and my meetings work around that. Also if I feel like working from my bed I will, AMAZING!! What lessons have you learnt along the way? The list really is endless, I have learnt so much about business, other people and, most importantly, myself. One of the most important lessons I have learnt over the years is to delegate. At the beginning I felt I HAD to wear all the different hats needed to run a business, marketing, accounts, HR, strategy, ordering, social media, etc, which was really difficult as I may not have been good at or enjoy doing everything. But over the years I have learnt to do the things I love and delegate/outsource the things I don’t. It makes my time at work so much more enjoyable. Also do not compare yourself to anyone else in business. We all put out the best versions of ourselves so by comparing yourself with others you may feel inferior or demotivated, it just isn’t worth it. Concentrate your time and energy on your own journey and your own business to make it the best that you can. You can contact Jo Bevilacqua on: TheUniqueMumpreneur/

The Fens | March 2018


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With the exception of one, I’ve had ‘issues’ with all previous neighbours. When I brought my first house, I introduced myself to my neighbour who was a nice man who invited me into his home where I met his family and they later came over to ours with a bottle of wine and a card. The only problem was, the card had been addressed to the name of my girlfriend and to ‘Paul’. I almost corrected the mistake, but decided against it so as not to be rude. However, the longer I left it, the more awkward it felt to tell them of their mistake and eight years later, what started as a promising, friendly neighbourly friendship, ended with me literally going indoors if a member of their family came out for fear that I would have to suffer being called Paul by one of them, or even worse, I let slip that wasn’t actually my name. When I first moved into the current house I live in, my neighbours were actually very pleasant. The problem with them was the man about their house kept their garden lawn immaculate. I mean he cut that lawn once or twice a week and truth be told, it made me feel massively inferior. So I was sad, but not distraught when they moved away and my current, quiet, Polish neighbours moved in. They are a lovely young couple but we do have communication problems and that was never more evident than the other day when, as is not unusual, the postman had delivered a package for them to us, as my fiancée works at home during the day and is there to accept it. I’d just returned home from a run and as I let myself in the house the girl from next door came out of her house. She has very little understanding of the English language and I have even less understanding of anything Polish, but she has managed to learn, ‘Do you have a package please’ to the extent I can understand it, so I invited her into the house while I fetched it. She noticed the rabbit and made a reference to it along the lines of ‘err, rabbit’? Now, again, I was tired and not thinking straight and not realising every connotation of what I was about to say, I asked her, using a ‘stroking’ motion, and I quote ‘if she would like to stroke my rabbit’. She looked nervously at me, thanked me and very quickly exited the door.

§ Joe Ferridge is an occasional writer and is expecting a visit from a very angry Polish man from next door any minute now.

Dividends can be a very efficient way of extracting funds out of a business, especially small limited companies, another familiar benefit of holding shares can be the regular issue of dividend payments. There is a view that these activities have become a way to legally avoid taxation to some extent. As soon as the government realised this a plan was put in place to close the potential loophole. The first stage was to introduce a £5,000 limit on tax free dividend allowance, this has reduced to £2,000. However, there remain other ways of investing and transferring company value that can reduce potential risk and retain high performance. Understanding exactly what your objectives are, the timescale and what assets are available will help in the construction of an effective financial plan. In my experience there are few ‘template solutions’ each situation needs to be explored individually and it is likely that the assistance of an accountant or maybe legal advice could be usefully combined to find the best solution. Recent investment market volatility is another example of financial planning where similar situations have prevailed can provide good advice in bridging the gap between one secure place and another. An experienced Independent Financial Adviser with great contacts could be the best way forward. Skill in combining investment, pension and tax advice together with estate preservation planning can make full use of allowances and structures that have been developed for maximising value – is where experience is important.

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 | March 2018



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illustrator Kelly

We’re very lucky to meet some talented local artists living in and around the Fens, and this month’s cover star, illustrator Kelly McClorey, is no exception

led me to revive my love of drawing for my own enjoyment. Creating little illustrations for family and friends gave me the confidence to set up an Etsy shop and promote my work online which has given me the opportunity to take on commissions further afield.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN CREATING YOUR ILLUSTRATIONS AND HOW DID YOU GET STARTED? My background is in fashion illustration and costume design but a change in jobs and the birth of my daughter

YOU OFTEN CREATE CUSTOM BIRTHDAY/ CELEBRATION CARDS. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE OCCASION TO DESIGN FOR? It has to be for children's is always so nice to try to capture their little characters! WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON? I have several family portraits on the go right now along with some wedding artwork commissions that were given to couples as a memento gift. I am also really happy to be continuing to raise money through

the charity prints I created for the local Amelia Martin fund in support of her treatment for a rare brain tumour. DO YOU HAVE ANY EXCITING PROJECTS COMING UP THIS YEAR? I have been collaborating with a wonderful writer on a fun and very sweet children's book, which will be published this year! DOES THE FENS INSPIRE YOUR WORK? Very much so... nature is a neverending source of creative direction for me along with everyday events, people and places. FIND OUT MORE You can see more examples of Kelly’s work at: Instagram lastdayofmay_ Kelly’s charity prints are also available to purchase at Walnut Tree Designs in Ramsey. The Fens | March 2018


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LADIES NIGHT (OVER 18s ONLY) 4th may 2018 march braza club - doors 8pm £15 LADIES NIGHT (OVER 18s ONLY) 5th may 2018 ivy leaf club, whittlesey - doors 8pm £15

ABBA NIGHT 23rd june 2018 ivy leaf club, whittlesey - doors 7:30pm £9 AN EVENING OF BON JOVI 14th july 2018 ivy leaf club, whittlesey - 8pm £12

book today 07526 664 949 or email

The Fens | March 2018



Salmon and tarragon fishcakes with pea puree Fishcakes make a great meal anytime of the day. Versatile, they can be adapted to suit tastes and leftovers PREPARATION TIME - LESS THAN 30 MINS COOKING TIME - UP TO AN HOUR INGREDIENTS FOR THE FISHCAKES

• Vegetable oil for deep frying • 225g/8oz floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks • 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon • 1 lemon, zest and juice • 150g/5½oz smoked salmon, diced • 200g/7oz fresh salmon • 110g/4oz plain flour • 2 free-range eggs, beaten • 110g/4oz breadcrumbs • Salt and freshly ground black pepper FOR THE PEA PUREE

• 400g frozen peas (defrosted but not cooked) • 2 sprigs of fresh mint • Salt, pepper and sugar to taste


The Classic - Try replacing the salmon with cod and the tarragon with parsley then serve with chips. The Breakfast - Replace the salmon with cooked smoked haddock and bacon, then top with a poached egg. The Posh - Replace the salmon with scallop meat and black pudding and serve with salad cream. 44 The Fens | March 2018

THE METHOD 1. For the pea puree, place all the ingredients into a blender and blitz till super smooth. Adjust seasoning and refrigerate till needed. 2. For the fishcakes, cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling water for 15 minutes, or until tender. Whilst the potatoes are cooking place the fresh salmon in a bag, tie and poach in with the potatoes until just cooked (about 5 mins), then remove and alow to cool. Drain, then return the potatoes to the pan and heat for one minute to dry off any excess moisture. Mash the potatoes in a bowl. Set aside to cool slightly. Stir in the tarragon, lemon zest and juice until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in both the salmons. Divide the mixture and shape into 4 balls. Half fill a large saucepan with the oil and place over a medium heat. If you’re using a deep-fat fryer or have a thermometer, heat the oil to 180C. If not, to check the oil is at the right temperature, drop a 2-3cm/¾-1¼in cube of bread into the hot oil. It should be golden-brown and crisp in 1 minute. Put the flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs into three separate bowls. Dredge the fish cakes in flour, dip in beaten egg and finally coat in the breadcrumbs. Deep fry them (in batches if necessary) for 2 minutes or until golden-brown. Remove from the fryer using a slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper to drain. Warm the pea puree a little and serve.

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At Manor Leisure Centre Tuesdays (ladies only) Thursdays (Juniors) 7-8pm (Adults) 8-9pm FIRST CLASS FREE! IDEAL FOR BEGINNERS NON CONTACT FOR MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN AGED 6+

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BECOME A MEMBER FOR £20 PER ANNUM which includes FREE Saturday night live entertainment. Be part of a lively social calendar, including quiz and race nights and Sunday carvery once a month Smart-casual dress code. Football tops, baseball caps excluded

• Two full size snooker tables, March Events plus dominoes, darts and two • Sat 3rd Waddo gaming machines • Sat 10th 54321 • Separate bar facility in the • Sat 17th Mikki Jons function room plus a small • Sun 18th Sunday Lunch dance floor in the lounge • Sat 24th Dave James • One of the best local • Sat 31st Steve Johns venues to hire out for any occasion FRIDAY LUNCH Hot food served Fridays 12-2pm


Parties ~ Weddings Conferences ~ Funerals Birthdays ~ Christenings The Fens | March 2018


Fancy a cruise? Travel expert JADE HAWKINS looks at the delights of taking a cruise Whether you’ve never set foot on a cruise before, or have been exploring the world and its amazing destinations on a cruise for the last 20 years, there is always something new and different to experience. NEW TO CRUISE Do you like the idea of a floating hotel? Are you just not quite sure it’s what everyone in your travelling party would enjoy? Why not try a mini cruise. These are usually two or three nights long with one port stop. There are a choice of cruise companies who offer this, Cunard and P&O to name a couple, and with prices from just £219pp, it might be the time to take to the water and test cruising for yourself. FAMILY CRUISING We all know that finding the perfect holiday for the whole family can be tough, especially when you have a variety of ages and personalities to suit. Well, this is where a cruise can really be beneficial. Cruise ships really do offer a whole lot for everyone to do, with creches and uniquely themed kids’ clubs, to teen rooms full of gadgets and gismos, the whole family won’t want to get off. And if that’s not enough, some of them have water slides, sky-diving domes and so much more. For a family cruise some of the best are Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines 46 The Fens | March 2018

and Disney Cruise Lines. You can also get a small amount of education and culture in when stopping off at some amazing places around the world on your trip. CRUISE OF A LIFETIME There are certain places on this earth that we can class as once in a lifetime destinations. With this is mind, there are phenomenal and awe-inspiring cruise companies who can take you to visit these destinations. Hurtigruten is famous for its trips around Norway and the Arctic. They are the world leaders in sustainable travel in polar bear regions, and have so much more to offer than just a cruise. Silversea offer outstanding luxury and smaller ships, which offer you six star cruising and all-inclusive exclusivity to locations such as the Galapagos islands. RIVER CRUISING If you feel like you’ve made the most of ocean cruising already and would like to take a turn trying something a little different, river cruising may well

be the perfect match. It’s a wonderful alternative with incredible service. So whether it is the Rhine, the Danube or maybe the Mekong, a little further from home, I’m 100% sure it will be a trip you don’t want to miss. If I have persuaded you to take a look at cruising, please get in touch and let me help point you in the right direction of the company which will suit you best.

Jade Hawkins is a Travel Counsellor, offering a personal service. 01406 308030 | 07923 279164 hawkins

Childers Members Bar and Private Function Room

Sunday Lunch Dates Mother’s Day Sunday 11th March Sunday 25th March Sunday 22nd April Sunday 20th May Father’s Day Sunday 17th June Sunday 8th July

Sky Sports / BT Sports, pool and snooker tables available

Members Bar New Senior Citizen: January - December: £5 per year £2.50 renewal

New Membership: January - December: £10 per year £5 renewal

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Birthday parties






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See Facebook for more information on upcoming events, pictures and menus

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WHAT’S ON children] from 01480 375678, on the door, or by credit/debit card in advance from

SOCIAL DANCE Sunday 11th March 7.00pm – 10.00pm MARCH & DISTRICT MODEL RAILWAY CLUB EXHIBITION Saturday 3rd March

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 Stands, demonstrations and traction engine rides in the car park. For more information, contact: secretary@


This model show will be held at the Queen Katharine’s Academy, Mountsteven Avenue , Walton Peterborough, PE4 6HX on Sunday March 4th from 10am - 4pm. Admission is £3 and under 15s are free. All proceeds go to charity.


The Huntingdonshire Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra present an exciting programme featuring romance, tragedy and fate. The group welcome back three of the talented young soloists who performed last year in Handel’s Messiah: Jessica Smith, soprano, Robert Tilson, tenor, and Alistair Donaghue, bass - and they will be joined by Sara Champion, mezzosoprano. Bjorn Bantock will conduct the concert, which takes place at Hinchingbrooke Performing Arts Centre, PE29 3BN starting at 7.30pm. Tickets are £14/12 [£7/6 Students/ 48 The Fens | March 2018

The Peterborough Theatre Organ Society are holding another Social Dance at the Regional College, Park Road, Peterborough. Organist Nicholas Martin on his electronic organ also featuring the Wurlitzer Theatre organ. Please pay at the door £5.00. All welcome.


Music for Dancing – Enjoy a collection of Live Dance Music with Tanya – suitable for Ballroom, Latin, Sequence, Line Dance & More. To add to the enjoyment - Happy St. Patrick’s Night - ‘The Theme is Green’….wear something green or Fancy Dress – if you wish! Doors open 7.00pm for 7.30pm. Tickets £5 (limited availability) includes nibbles. Information or tickets available from Wisbech St Mary Community Centre, PE13 4SS, tel. 01354 656641 or email

BRAND NEW ANTIQUES FAIR Sunday 18th March 2018 10am – 4pm

Don’t miss the brand new Antiques Fair at Whittlesey Indoor Sports Complex, 194 / 198 Station Road, WHITTLESEY, PE7 2HA between 10am - 4pm. Held By Three Pieces Of Eight Antiques. TO BOOK A TABLE call 07837 775926. Entry is £2 per person and free for under 16s. Hot food & drinks available.

MESSY CHURCH Sunday 25th March

Easter celebration at Queen St. Church between 4pm and 6pm. Enjoy crafts, stories, games and food, all for free!

THORNEY RUNNING CLUB 10K AND FUN RUN Sunday 25th March Thorney Running Club are hosting a 10k and 3k fun run. The 10k will start at 10am and offers chip timing, a flat

course with great PB potential. It’s part of the Cambs AA Road League 2018, and there’s age category awards plus a memento for all finishers. The fun run will start at 9:30am around a safe, local park. Again there will be age category awards, plus medals and certificates for all finishers. 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.

FAMILY FUN DAY Saturday 31st March from 11:30am Sunday

Don’t miss this family fun day held at the Straw Bear pub, Whittlesey. There will be a bouncy castle, an ambulance for the kids to look around, colouring competition, BBQ, face painting, and an apportunity to learn CPR. In the evening there will be live music (band tbc). (Still at the Straw Bear) on Sunday there will be an Easter Egg Hunt from 10am and a raffle (tickets currently being sold 25p a ticket). In the evening there is the opportunity for 18yrs+ to do a fire walk. You can pay to do it, or choose a charity to raise money for. Contact Laura on 07894 276459 or or our Facebook page whittleseycfrs for more information. All money raised will go towards Whittlesey CFRS.


Join the volunteers at Nene Valley Railway as they go in search of Easter eggs over the weekend. Let the children hunt for clues to find as many numbered eggs as they can. You can even meet the Easter bunny at Wansford station. There’s no booking required either and you can jump off the train at Ferry Meadows or Railworld to make a day of fun. Tickets cost: Adults £16.00; Senior £13.00 (over 60) Children £8.00; Family £40.00 Find out more at events/easter-steam-and-easter-egghunt

Sunday 25th March from 4—6pm

ALL FREE!! U3A UPDATE The U3A continue to hold open meetings at Childers on the third Thursday of each month and invite everyone to come along and see what we do. Enjoy an afternoon of entertainment, make new friends and pick up a copy of our magazine. Next month’s entertainment: 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 Most Interest Groups still have space for new members and everyone is invited to try something new and decide if it is for them. FILM GROUP: The Film Group meets usually on the fourth Tuesday monthly and members travel by cars to the Showcase Cinema in Peterborough to enjoy one of the popular new

REGULARS Hatha Yoga, for all levels, £7 each, Mon - 6pm, Wed - 6.30pm, Thurs 9.30am. St Andrew’s Parish Room, Parkinsons Lane, Whittlesey Power Yoga, £7 to non members, bring water & small towel. Wed - 8pm. New Vision Fitness, Whittlesey Painting group, Eastrea Centre every

movies, selected by the leader or requested by members, in luxurious reclining seating before a short chat over coffee in the foyer. There are usually spaces available in cars so nobody is left out! Most members have acquired “Insider” cards online from the Cinema affording a small discount on ticket prices which presently stand at £7 per person. If cinema going is an experience you enjoy but have fallen out of the habit, then why not join us? Nobody is committed to going each time, the choice is yours! The leader sends out an email a few days ahead of each movie and attempts to arrange transport for everybody who has indicated a wish to attend. Please contact Tony on 701628 or tony. For more information on our groups, find us on Facebook, email us at or contact Tues 1pm - 4pm all are welcome, for details contact Sue on 01733 205241 Jim’s Bingo, Tues and Thurs. Doors open at 7pm. Eyes down at 7.30pm at the rear of the Conservative Club. Whittlesea Society meet on the second Monday of each month at 7.30pm in the Town Hall Ukulele ‘strum for fun’ first and third Tues, at the Ram, Whittlesey 7-9pm.


Sunday 18th March Sunday Lunch

Saturday 10th March Saturday 24th March 54321

Dave James

Saturday 17th March Saturday 31st March Mikki Jons

Steve Johns

NOTICE We are pleased to let you know that the next meeting of the Business Forum is on the 28th March at the Falcon Hotel, Whittlesey. Doors open from 6pm for a 6:30pm start. Our speaker will from the East Midlands Waste Recycling Ltd. Light refreshments will be provided.

Call Chris on 07960 316724 for info Whittlesey Mud Walls Group Meet upstairs at the Whittlesey Museum on the first Wed of the month at 10:30am Just for Kicks Rock n Roll Club Record Hop. Every Monday. Yaxley British Legion. 07718 511640 TAI CHI & SABRE Eastrea Village Hall Every Thurs evening. 7.30pm - 9pm Contact Jan or Jeff on 07842 090506 The Fens | March 2018


Local BUSINESS The Fenland Roaster

Richard Jones is the business owner and chef behind local catering company, The Fenland Roaster. After moving to Whittlesey in 1994, Richard has since gone on to open his own business. We spoke to Richard to find out what he does and what he plans next for his business

WORDS AMY CORNEY HOW LONG HAS YOUR BUSINESS BEEN RUNNING? I started the catering business eight years ago, after 35 years in engineering. I’ve always loved cooking good honest food and enjoying it in a relaxed social environment, especially during the four years I spent in Australia where there’s a culture of cooking and eating outside. Back in the UK, we held garden parties at our home to raise a few pounds for Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice. We did a hog roast one year and people liked it so much they asked me to cater for their events. Starting a business doing what I love was the obvious next step. WHAT STYLES OF FOOD DO YOU PROVIDE? We started just doing hog roasts and soon found ourselves needing another machine to cope with demand. Now there are two large roasters for business functions, and two smaller ones for private parties. We also provide a wide range of other styles of catering, including BBQs, buffets and breakfasts - we even have a traditional ice cream cart. Through investment in equipment and premises we can now cater for events from as small as 20 people to more than 1,200. From corporate hospitality to weddings and garden parties, we cover pretty much any type of event. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE DISH? I love a full English breakfast, and we cook all the traditional items plus some that meet people’s different dietary requirements. It’s a really flexible style of catering as the breakfast can be served in many ways. 50 The Fens | March 2018

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW DISHES IN THE PIPELINE FOR 2018? For corporate and private customers we make or bake most of the food ourselves at our kitchen. New for 2018 is an expanded range of homemade Scotch eggs, including a delicious vegetarian version. We’re also experimenting with exciting sweet and savoury toppings and fillings for our poffertjes: mini Dutch pancakes cooked and served fresh from the griddle. Plus, we are talking to our local suppliers about expanding the range of specialist items we source from them, including cakes, pies and quality meats. DOES ANY EVENT YOU’VE CATERED FOR STAND OUT? Every event is a pleasure to do, but I especially enjoyed providing corporate hospitality when the England women’s cricket team played a charity match at Warboys cricket ground. We catered for 400 guests in a huge marquee providing hog roast and BBQ with homemade salads, all cooked and prepared at the venue. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE EVENTS TO CATER FOR AND WHY? We love catering at the Peterborough and Cambridge Dragon Boat Festivals. These are great fun and of course lots of money is raised for many fantastic charities. I love sport, so being involved in three annual cycling events is also a real pleasure. We cater for as many as 1,300 entrants on completion of their rides of up to 100 miles: the riders are very hungry after a gruelling slog, so ready for tasty filling food. On a personal note, catering at the Straw Bear Festival in our home town for the past seven years has been a highlight. DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS TO

EXPAND IN 2018? You bet! We’re going from strength to strength, largely thanks to recent investment in the premises where we prepare some of the food, and our branded refrigerated van. This investment is enabling us to expand our corporate hospitality business. We will also be doing more weddings than ever, with our festival-themed catering proving to be especially popular as people look for something a bit different for their day. OUTSIDE OF WORK WHAT HOBBIES DO YOU ENJOY? I love to travel and have always loved motorbikes, so on days off when the sun is shining I enjoy a ride out in the countryside somwhere. Being a cook has only enhanced my love of good food, so I often get out to see what other cooks are doing. WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE IN THE FENS? Being born in what was The Isle of Ely I do love to visit the area. Although it has changed extensively since my early days when it was a thriving cattle market city, it is still a lovely place to visit. There are some great pubs, a couple of independent butchers and still some independent traders, plus the lovely riverside walk.

You can find out more about the services offered by THE FENLAND ROASTER by visiting calling 07930 494076 emailing richard@

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52 The Fens | March 2018


The Fens March 2018  
The Fens March 2018