Issue 48 | May 2020
A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens
Inside this issue
Find out how to make a hedgehog house Seasonal recipes to try at home
Looking back at tough times in Fenland Fens | May PEOPLE | FOOD | HOME & GARDEN | NATURE | WHATâ€™S ON | The PLACES TO2020 VISIT1
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The Fens | May 2020
Well this has been the strangest month of our lives. I remember the world seemed to change overnight between us printing our April edition and it being ready to distribute. It was, without doubt, hugely stressful and worrying. It comes as probably no surprise that we weren’t able to actually print our May issue, though it didn’t stop me feeling sad. Safety for our deliverers had to come first, which is why we have decided to publish digitally for the time being. As soon as it is safe to start printing again, we will do. So what can you expect from our first digital issue of The Fens magazine? Firstly you will see we have some of our regular contributors as well as some helpful articles to get you and your family through these strange weeks. There are seasonal recipes courtesy of the Co-op, top tips for enjoying your garden and the wonderful nature close to home. Richard Groom looks at ways in which local businesses have adapted over the past few weeks as well as delving into the history books at times when Fen folk had hardships. We’re delighted to welcome a new contributor, Hazel Beecroft, who will be sharing her experiences of living in the Fens as well as Nathan Smith from the Luxe Cinema in Wisbech who shares his top picks of recently released films you can watch at home. I’d like to finish by thanking everyone who helped us deliver our April edition and those who have supported this digital issue. For the latest advice, please either visit 111.nhs.uk/covid-19 or www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-forthe-public
NATASHA SHIELS, publisher
THIS month 5 Colour your own Wicken Fen Wind Pump 7 Your Neighbourhood News pages
14 Why exercising at home is important 18 Shrek the Musical gets a new date
Issue 48 | May 2020
13 Your garden in May
A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens
34 Enjoy nature at home
46 The lockdown cinema Inside this issue
Seasonal recipes to try at home
Looking back at tough times in Fenland Fens | May PEOPLE | FOOD | HOME & GARDEN | NATURE | WHAT’S ON | The PLACES TO2020 VISIT1
PUBLISHER / EDITOR Natasha Shiels email@example.com ASSISTANT EDITOR Richard Groom firstname.lastname@example.org EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Amy Corney email@example.com PROOF-READER Theresa Shiels PHOTOGRAPHY Chris Brudenell chrisbrudenellphotography.co.uk ADVERTISING SALES firstname.lastname@example.org 07511 662566 SUBSCRIPTIONS To subscribe for just £12 for 6 issues, contact us at email@example.com CONTRIBUTORS Joe Ferridge | Eamonn Dorling | John McGinn | Westfield Nurseries | Eva Jordan Whittlesey Veterinary Centre | Caroline Fitton Molly Day-Coombes |Bill Watt DISTRIBUTION 9,000 copies printed monthly. Delivered to Whittlesey, Eastrea, Coates, Turves, Pondersbridge, Benwick, plus copies in March, Wisbech, Ramsey and Queensgate Shopping Centre
20 Life on the land
38 Spring recipes
Find out how to make a hedgehog house
www.thefensmag.co.uk facebook.com/thefensmag @thefensmag thefensmag
ISSUE 48 | MAY 2020 Bubble Planet by Chris Brudenell
THE FENS is published by a local team. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. THE FENS accepts no liability for products and services offered by third parties.
The Fens | May 2020
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The Fens | May 2020
Print me out...
Here at Fens HQ we have really enjoyed getting crafty. This wonderful drawing of Wicken Fenâ€™s Old Wind Pump was drawn by Martin Brown. We would love to see them coloured in using any medium of your choice. Email your finished designs to firstname.lastname@example.org and weâ€™ll share our favourite ones on social media. Happy colouring!
The Fens | May 2020
Ellen McCarthy, age 8 years
Maddison (4) and Arabella Jarvis (3)
Emilia Catley, age 4
When the virus hit, humanity won… …here’s how
“Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud”, Maya Angelou WORDS NATASHA SHIELS Whilst we are still in lockdown, following the awful spread of Covid-19, there has been a lot of criticism about journalists printing horror stories, the men, women and children who have lost their lives. But there has been so much good that has come out of despair, so many people who have put down their business attires and rolled up their sleeves to help those in need. I wanted to write a small piece about that, about the small acts of kindness which I hope we will never forget and which will be the overriding memory of this difficult time. The way in which we all came together for a common goal - to get rid of the disease, together. I began by writing a list of kind acts I had heard or seen first hand. They aren’t in any particular order, just in the way they fell out of my head. It all began very locally with a group of people who wanted to help the vulnerable in society. They offered to go shopping or pick up prescriptions, they didn’t judge and they weren’t discriminative. They helped the young and old. They even helped us deliver our April edition of The Fens. These groups, which sprung up all over the country, worked alongside local councils who also set up Community Hubs to help the vulnerable. But they aren’t the only ones working. There are hundreds and thousands of key workers, ranging from our dust bin collectors to supermarket workers, 6
The Fens | May 2020
teachers and carers, doctors and nurses. Whilst the majority of us are given government support in order to stay at home and protect ourselves, these incredible key workers are still going out to keep the food stocked up, teach our children and provide comfort and care to our sick. Rightly so, we have started to clap our new breed of heroes on Thursdays at 8pm. They deserve much, much more but all we can do for them right now is to stay at home and clap, and that’s what we do. We will clap for them and owe them our lives. Rainbows have become the symbol of hope and kindness. We have ours, drawn and coloured in by our children and glued to our front window. We spent a happy afternoon one day walking through our local town and noting all the other rainbows we could find. We lost count after 20. It’s such a small way to connect us all, but it’s very powerful. Will a rainbow ever look the same after the disease has gone? I don’t think so. The world started changing. We had PE lessons with Joe Wicks on YouTube, stories read by celebrities and free West End Musicals on a Saturday night. The virus can affect anybody, Tom Hanks and Boris Johnson among its victims. But it also meant that we were united in our common goal. Joe Wicks donated all his money from his PE lessons to the NHS, big industries gave their expertise to
making ventilators and locally, smaller companies played their part to help. Fenspirits, a Vodka and Gin distillery in our part of the world, started making hand sanitiser for key workers and in Bedfordshire, a 100-year-old veteran Captain Tom Moore challenged himself to walk 100 lengths of his garden for NHS Charities Together. Incredibly, he raised more than £29 million (figure correct at time of writing). These heroic stories can be found in every village, town and city, in every country. Covid-19 has brought some of the worst of times but it has, without doubt, brought out some of the best in people. These stories of hope and kindness will live on, long after the virus has died out. They have inspired me and I hope a generation of others who will learn to live a little more peacefully, remembering to look after each other and treat the world better. Let us heal but never forget.
HELP IS AVAILABLE IN THE RAMSEY AREA FOR THOSE SELF-ISOLATING
With our usual activities and programmes on hold, Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust (RNT) and Ramsey Million are supporting our community in different ways. RNT launched ‘Ramsey Area Covid-19 Support’ on the 30th March and have already responded to over 150 requests for help and recruited 56 residents as local volunteers. We have liaised with the Town, District and County Councils, as well as Ramsey Foodbank, to offer a coordinated approach. Hunts Forum has worked with HDC to set up a network of Recognised (volunteer-led) Organisations to support local communities through the Covid-19 crisis. RNT, on behalf of Ramsey Area Covid-19 Support, was one of the first organisations to be granted this status.
How can we help? In addition to shopping and prescription collection RNT is a referral agency for Ramsey Foodbank, which is continuing to provide emergency food packages to those who are suffering financial hardship. Ramsey Million has stepped in and are covering the fuel costs for deliveries to those in self-isolation. Ramsey Community Bus Association have granted us use of their bus for this and one of their volunteer drivers is acting as ‘temporary delivery driver’. RNT provides someone to talk to and if we don’t know the answer to your query, we will do our best to find out. You will find all our contact details on the middle pages. As well as helping with shopping and prescription collections, Ramsey Area Covid-19 is working to combat loneliness by keeping in contact with as many people as possible via telephone or social media. If you are looking for work you can still access Job Search advice and support by calling 07562 379472 and leaving a message with one of our
staff for Alison, who will get back to you. You can always keep up to date or message us via our designated Facebook page, where you can also read a copy of our weekly Ramsey Timebank Newsletter. It has lots of ideas about keeping the whole family occupied indoors.
We can’t say THANK-YOU enough to all of you who have volunteered to help. Don’t worry if we haven’t called upon you just yet, we haven’t forgotten you, your offer is greatly appreciated. For the safety of residents and volunteers we have now issued safety guidelines and ID badges to all our volunteers but do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any concerns.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO OFFER TO HELP IN ANY WAY PLEASE GET IN TOUCH. The Fens | May 2020
A MESSAGE FROM YOUR MAYOR As many of you may know I am very proud of being Mayor of Ramsey, it is not something I had imagined or even planned to do, it is something that just happened, the opportunity was there and it felt like the right thing to do for me at the time. Many things have happened in our Town since becoming Mayor that if it were possible to make me even more proud, have done so. None more than what we are doing now! I have said at many meetings where I am trying to get some funding for projects or even get us noticed by higher authorities that one thing we have is community spirit, lots of it, in fact a lot more than some people would like to believe! In these strange unprecedented times that we find ourselves in, I am seeing first-hand the way that the community has come together, neighbours looking out for each other, when out walking Bearboo the dog, people are saying hello to each other, people are shopping for each other and genuinely taking
time to catch up, within the rules, obviously. This isn’t all that unusual, this happens daily, but the scale that people are helping each other is also unprecedented. The fact that from a standing start and a few phone calls, the plan was formed to set up a scheme helping the most vulnerable which has evolved into ‘Ramsey Area Coivd19 Support’. In its first week this group helped 66 people and gained 45 new volunteers, a great achievement. We have set up a website www.ramseyandvillages.co.uk/ promoting the businesses that are staying open throughout this period, showing their opening times and whether they are delivering. All these people are risking their own health to do this, trying to make our lives that bit easier. I hope that when things get back to normal, we carry on supporting them the way they have us now.
Neighbourhoods Trust, the Foodbank, the Town Council, all of the local businesses (especially the chemists) and finally HDC and Hunts Forum who have kept a constant stream of information and help to us to try our best to help you all. Thank you. Stay safe and well and look out for each other.
Lastly I would like to say a few thankyou’s, to everyone at Ramsey
Best regards, Steve, Your Mayor
DON’T FORGET – IF YOU NEED HELP CONTACT US. DO NOT FEEL THAT YOU ARE ‘PUTTING PEOPLE OUT’ Our volunteers are ready and willing to support anyone needing help due to self-isolation. Carol contacted us and now she knows that someone will do her shopping and collect her prescriptions. Thank-you for all your lovely comments. A couple, who are Key Workers sent this, “We would like to say a massive thank you for helping us out throughout our isolation xx We’re gradually getting back to health, just left with the cough and heavy chest BUT feeling out of the worse.” SO, REMEMBER WE ARE HERE TO HELP! 8
The Fens | May 2020
Contact Us Telephone or Text : 07562 379472 Email : email@example.com Ramsey Foodbank Vouchers : 07548 048471 Facebook : Ramsey.Covid19
Virtual Clubs a Big Hit! Initially here in Ramsey we started to post ideas for keeping occupied like so many other clubs have done. These have been appreciated by families across the Ramsey area, however we also wanted to try to have some continuity for our young people who are used to attending our clubs each Thursday. We decided to try ‘going live’ at our regular club time - initially just for our BOSH club children who are aged 5 to 10 years. We always make sure it’s interactive so that everyone is involved and not just watching us do something. We’ve had a nature session with
quiz, a baking week - where children could follow along at home, sharing comments while they baked. They also shared photographs afterwards of the cakes they had made, which looked fantastic! Then we had a science themed week making lava lamps. Not only have the children loved BOSH ‘live’ but their parents have too - whole families are now joining in and setting watch alarms to make sure they don’t miss it. We’ve now included our CRUNCH club members who are in the 11 to 16 age range. Their live activities started over the Easter weekend with a ‘live’ selfie scavenger hunt around their homes. We posted a selection of
items they had to find and they had to disappear off to find them showing us they’d completed the mission by posting a selfie with all the items. It was so much fun and the whole game lasted 90 minutes. We did apologise to parents for the mess their houses must have been in afterwards. Our latest virtual activity for both clubs, believe it or not, is online bingo. The young people were able to vote for what they wanted, and bingo won. Perhaps they knew there would be prizes involved. Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust is also responsible for the SPARKS club, which is a social club for adults with learning disabilities. Their club has also continued with videos of follow along activities being posted each Monday evening at the time they would have met. They’ve enjoyed craft activities and keep fit so far and I’m sure they’ve enjoyed seeing Lisa their club leader.
We’re delighted to have been able to do this for local families at an uncertain time for us all. It’s been as much fun for us as it has been for the people tuning in. By Val Fendley – Development Manager, Families and Young People
The Fens | May 2020
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Hello, these are very difficult and dark days that we are living through. Everyone's lives have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. It is essential that we continue to follow the government's instructions to stay at home, to protect the NHS in order to save lives. If we do, then we will begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel and together we will come through this crisis. I would like to highlight two of the many local community projects which are helping the aged and the most vulnerable in our local area and making a big difference to people's lives at this very difficult time: Whittlesey Emergency Food Aid organised by Cllr. David Mason and Pastor Brian Smithyman from Whitttlesey Christian Church and the Wednesday community meal organised by Deborah Slator, Chairman of Whittlesey and District Business Forum and cooked by Colin Wilson of the Falcon Hotel. Both of the projects are doing amazing work in Whittlesey and the villages area and I would like to say a big thank you to all the sponsors and volunteers involved in both of these inspiring ventures. Thank you and keep up the good work. If anyone needs help during the current coronavirus crisis please call the Fenland helpline 01354 654321 9am-4pm Monday to Friday and 9am-12noon on Saturday or email requests for help to covid19@ fenland.gov.uk Thank you to all those who participated in my alternative Mayor's Duck Race on Easter Monday and I hope it made people laugh and smile in the current situation. Congratulations to both of the joint winners Kian Massingham and Matilda Rae Rogers who guessed the correct time of the race and they will receive their prizes and certificates from me when it is safe to do so and we are back to normal. Well done to both Kian and Matilda Rae. We will come through this crisis and I look forward to a time when we can all be together to enjoy some of the great community events and activities that we have here in Whittlesey. Keep safe, Cllr. Julie Windle, Mayor of Whittlesey
Fascinating Fens Fascinating Fens is excited to announce the first “Celebrate the Fens” day on 20th June 2020. So please put it in your calender, get involved and think how you may explore and enjoy the fens on that day. Follow fascinating fens for more information via our website, facebook and twitter. More information will also be in June edition.
This is Timeless.... Here’s a poem which has been circulated on social media over the past few weeks. It’s haunting in its words as it is so relevant today, yet was written in 1869 by Kathleen O’Mara during the Spanish Flu. This is Timeless.... And people stayed at home And read books And listened And they rested And did exercises And made art and played And learned new ways of being And stopped and listened More deeply Someone meditated, someone prayed Someone met their shadow And people began to think differently And people healed. And in the absence of people who Lived in ignorant ways Dangerous, meaningless and heartless, The earth also began to heal And when the danger ended and People found themselves They grieved for the dead And made new choices And dreamed of new visions And created new ways of living And completely healed the earth Just as they were healed.
SUE RYDER LAUNCHES EMERGENCY APPEAL TO SAVE ITS HOSPICES Sue Ryder, the national healthcare charity, is launching an emergency appeal to save its end of life services. The charity runs Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice, which is the only specialist palliative care inpatient unit in Peterborough. Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice provides care for people with life-limiting conditions, as well as supporting their families. Before the Coronavirus struck, statutory funding only covered approximately one third of the costs involved in running the charity’s end of life care. Sue Ryder bridged that gap with fundraising efforts and income from its 450 shops nationwide. With fundraising events now cancelled and its shops closed, the charity has a matter of months before it will have to close its hospices and hospice at home services across the country. Sue Ryder will have a funding gap of £12 million over the next three months. Without immediate financial support, the critical end of life care that Sue Ryder provides to thousands of families each year will cease. The funding shortfall comes at a time when the NHS is relying on Sue Ryder to support them in caring for thousands of families as part of the fight against COVID-19. The charity continues to plead with the Government for emergency funding, but in desperation has now turned to the public in a bid to save its hospices. Heidi Travis, Chief Executive at Sue
Ryder, said:“We have been calling on the Government to support us but no funding has materialised. “The country will lose its hospices at a time when they are needed most. “This is a plea and no less, we cannot wait any longer. “Our doctors and nurses are working night and day to provide end of life care to more people now and in the coming weeks, than ever before. “We are a critical front-line support service in the fight against Coronavirus yet we are on the brink of closure. “We are all facing something we have never faced before and we are asking the public to give whatever you can afford to help us to help those who need it most.” Please donate at www.sueryder. org/donate
VE Day Celebrations Due to the ongoing Covid-19 (Coronavirus) situation the national celebrations to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day have been significantly scaled down. In view of this Whittlesey Town Council has regrettably cancelled its planned event scheduled for Friday 8 May. The Mayor of Whittlesey, Councillor Mrs Julie Windle, will lay the wreath to observe the Anniversary on 8 May. The Royal British Legion Standard will accompany the Mayor on this occasion. This will unfortunately not be a community event as we cannot be seen to encourage a social gathering.
We are still hoping to go ahead with the VJ Day celebrations on 15 August but that will, of course, be dependent upon the situation nearer the time. Please watch this space for further information. Why not have a VE Day stay at home street party? On Friday 8th May, why not decorate your house in red, white and blue and enjoy a picnic in your front garden? Let us know if you joined in, send your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Fens | May 2020
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YOUR GARDEN IN May Now that we are spending more time at home, the promise of warmer weather during May should bring with it the chance for us to enjoy the many positive benefits for mental well-being and general health that gardening brings with it. The Coronavirus crisis shouldn’t keep you away from your garden. Quite the opposite, a lockdown is a great opportunity to take even better care of your plants. Whether voluntary or imposed by the Government, gardening during the lockdown is safe and will bear much more fruit than staying inside.
ESSENTIAL JOBS FOR MAY
Looking good this month... Geranium
PLANT SUMMER BEDDING May is the month to get your summer bedding started in borders and containers. If planting in borders lift out old plants, run a fork through the soil and add a good fertiliser before replanting summer plants. Try to fill pots and containers in the position they are going to stay – they can become heavy when filled! Water retaining crystals will help to reduce the amount of watering and keep compost moist during warmer periods. Don’t forget to feed with fertiliser during the flowering period.
Our list of jobs this month, including three we’ve picked as ‘must do’s’, will be sure to make your garden space work for you at home during these extremely difficult and testing times. 1. Earth up Potatoes to stop them turning green. 2. Plant out summer bedding at the end of May. 3. Open greenhouse vents and doors on warm days. 4. Clip your hedges, taking care not to disturb nesting birds. 5. Mow your lawn every week. 6. Start to hoe off weeds more regularly. 7. Take cuttings of Succulents. 8. Lift and divide overcrowded lumps of daffodils. 9. Water the garden in the mornings and evenings. 10. Pinch our Broad Beans as soon as flowers show.
PRUNE EVERGREEN HEDGES AND SPRING FLOWERING SHRUBS There’s no better time to give evergreen hedges a trim to get them looking neat and tidy. Smaller hedges can be tackled with a pair of shears, but you may need a hedge trimmer for larger bushes. Prune any shrubs that flowered in spring as soon as they have finished flowering. Broom, Forsythia and Ribes all need pruning now. Remove around a third of the oldest flowering stems – this will make the plant look better and encourage new growth to create a good display next year. Be sure to check large shrubs and hedges for nesting birds before you start chopping! PLANT OUT YOUNG VEG Marrow, Courgette and Sweetcorn are all ready to be sown in the greenhouse. The likes of Brussel Sprouts, Kale, Peas and Swede should also be ok covered outside. If you have already sown Tomatoes move them outside to harden them off. Keep them outside during the day and bring them back inside for two weeks to acclimatise them. If you have Potatoes that are starting to emerge pull a few inches of earth around the plant with a rake to give the plant more soil to grow.
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WHY SHOULD YOU PLANT THEM? Geraniums make popular bedding plants – either in the garden or in pots and hanging baskets. They thrive outdoors in the summer but are also great for using as a houseplant. They look good planted in a group in a flowerbed all by themselves or mixed in with other annuals – the perfect plant for any spot that calls for a splash of colour throughout the season. HOW SHOULD YOU PLANT THEM? Geraniums need to be grown in well draining soil or if planting in pots a good quality free draining compost. They should be located in a bright spot in the garden that gets plenty of sunshine. Soil should be allowed to dry between watering to avoid root rot.
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Open 7 days a week including Bank Holidays The Fens | May 2020
WHY EXERCISE IS STILL IMPORTANT
We might be restricted and unable to leave our homes for more than one hour at a time, it is still really important to regularly take part in exercise. Here’s why….
Under the current government rules, we are only permitted to leave the house for essential shopping, medical needs, to provide essential care to vulnerable people or travelling to work as long as you are an essential key worker. There is clear advice that we can exercise outside for an hour, but it must be either alone or with people you live with. This hour can be spent walking, jogging, running or cycling. For those who exercise regularly, the benefits of a daily workout are well known. But what about those people who usually struggle to find time in their working week to exercise, why should they start now? The benefits of exercise are many and experts believe that the fitter a person is, the better chance they have of fighting viruses and diseases. But there’s more. Maintaining physical activity can prevent muscle loss, keep your heart and lungs healthy and improve your mental wellbeing. A lot of time has been spent researching the benefits of exercise (in particular running) with those suffering from depression with great results. Studies suggest that aerobic fitness can be as effective as anti-depressants, 14 The Fens | May 2020
why? A lot of it, of course, has to do with the endorphins that our bodies release, but there’s further evidence to suggest that running causes long-term structural changes in our brain. Either way, this is great news for keen runners who even during the lockdown, have Government permission to continue their happy pursuit. Not everyone is physically able to run, but there are still plenty of ways you can improve your physical activity, either during your one hour outside or within your home. On the next page we have ten exercises perfect for those new to fitness, that can be completed at home (or even in your garden). Remember fitness needs to become a lifestyle, not a chore. It might be difficult to start if you haven’t been active in a while, but starting some good habits now will make it much easier to find time in your schedule when life starts getting back to normal. How wonderful would it be if we all became healthier and fitter after Spring 2020? Now that would be something positive to hold on to.
Top tips • Try other home workouts such as yoga, weights, toning, stretching or even dancing. Mowing the lawn counts. • Map your fitness schedule and keep it visible. You could print out our ten day exercise plan and tick them each time you complete a day. Or map your distance on your walks and see how far you can travel in one hour. • Avoid giving yourself a post-exercise treat. You may feel you’ve earned that extra chocolate bar, but the reward is in getting fitter and healthier, don’t fall into bad habits. • Keep realistic goals. You can’t go from coach to 5k in a day unless you build up your fitness slowly. Find a realistic exercise plan and stick to it. • Finally, don’t quit. Some days are definitely harder than others but you will feel 100% better after a workout, even if it’s just spending five minutes walking briskly around your garden.
YOUR 10-DAY SENIOR EXERCISE PLAN There’s no pressure to do these every day, mix it up with walking, running or cycling or challenge yourself to more if it’s too easy. Good luck...
DAY 1 Stand behind a steady, solid chair (not one with wheels), and hold on to the back of it. Lift up your right foot and balance on your left foot. Hold that position for as long as you can, then switch feet. The goal should be to stand on one foot without holding onto the chair and hold that pose for up to a minute.
This strength training exercise for seniors makes your bottom and your lower back stronger. Stand behind a chair. Slowly lift your right leg straight back – don’t bend your knees or point your toes. Hold that position for one second, then gently bring your leg back down. Repeat this ten to 15 times per leg.
DAY 3 You might read this and wonder, “How is walking an exercise to improve balance?” This exercise makes your legs stronger, which enables you to walk without falling. Put your right foot in front of your left foot so that the heel of your right foot touches the top of the toes of your left foot. Move your left foot in front of your right, putting your weight on your heel. Then, shift your weight to your toes. Repeat the step with your left foot. Walk this way for 20 steps.
DAY 4 Stand with your feet apart, so that the space between them is the same width as your hips. Make sure both feet are pressed into the ground firmly. Stand straight, with your head level. Then, transfer your weight to your right foot and slowly lift your left leg off the ground. Hold that position for as long as possible (but no more than 30 seconds).
Slowly put your foot back onto the ground, then transfer your weight to that foot. Slowly lift your opposite leg. Start by doing this exercise for balance five times per side, then work your way up to more repetitions. The Fens | May 2020
DAY 5 Stand an arm’s length in front of a wall that doesn’t have any paintings, decorations, windows or doors. Lean forward slightly and put your palms flat on the wall at the height and width of your shoulders. Keep your feet planted as you slowly bring your body towards the wall. Gently push yourself back so that your arms are straight. Do twenty of these.
DAY 6 Marching is a great balance exercise for seniors. If you need to hold onto something, do this exercise in front of a counter. Standing straight, lift your right knee as high as you can. Lower it, then lift the left leg. Lift and lower your legs 20 times.
You’ll need a chair for this exercise.
You’ll need a chair for this exercise to improve balance.
This balance exercise for seniors improves your physical coordination.
Imagine that you are standing in the centre of a clock. The number 12 is directly in front of you and the number 6 is directly behind you. Hold the chair with your left hand.
Stand behind the chair with your feet slightly apart. Slowly lift your right leg to the side. Keep your back straight, your toe facing forward, and stare straight ahead. Lower your right leg slowly. Repeat this exercise ten to 15 times per leg.
Stand with your feet together and arms at your side next to a chair. Lift your left hand over your head. Then, slowly raise your left foot off the floor. Hold that position for ten seconds. Repeat the same action on the right side.
Lift your right leg and extend your right arm so it’s pointing to the number 12. Next, point your arm towards the number three, and finally, point it behind you at the number 6. Bring your arm back to the number three, and then to the number 12. Look straight ahead the whole time. Repeat this exercise twice per side.
DAY 10 This strength training exercise also helps balance. You’ll need a chair or a counter.
Stand straight and put your arms in front of you. Raise yourself up on your toes as high as you can go, then gently lower yourself. Don’t lean too far forward. Lift and lower yourself 20 times.
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The Show Must Go On! The show will fortunately go on, however for Peterborough’s awardwinning musical theatre society, PODS, the show looked set to be over. PODS had been busy rehearsing for their production of SHREK the musical which was to be staged at The Cresset this May before theatres were instructed to close in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. “The situation looked very bleak indeed” explains Chairman Rob Bristow “It’s not just a case of delaying to a later date, the venue have been wonderful and very helpful but we also hire in our sets and costumes from different companies which already had other bookings for most weeks of the year all over the country, so we had to find a date in which the set, costumes and venue were all available. To stage a show you also have to hire the theatrical performing rights for the show, we had hoped to move SHREK to early in 2021 but the theatrical rights licensors had already licensed SHREK to another group in Peterborough for 2021 so they were insistent that if PODS wanted to perform SHREK we had to perform in 2020. There was only one week when all factors could come together and we have therefore rescheduled SHREK for 22-26 SEPTEMBER 2020. The Cresset team have been very helpful in moving all the tickets already purchased. Sadly our show is no longer during half-term so we’ve had to cancel our mid-week matinee, which may inconvenience families with younger children who were planning to come and watch the show. We’ve moved our performances for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings to the earlier time of 7pm in the hope that some of our younger audience will still get to see the show”. “Once upon a time, there was a little Ogre named Shrek….” and so begins the tale of our unlikely hero and his loyal steed Donkey as they embark on a quest to rescue the beautiful (if slightly temperamental) Princess Fiona from a fire-breathing, love-sick dragon. Throw in a shorttempered bad guy, a cookie with an attitude and over a dozen other misfits, and you’ve got the biggest, brightest musical comedy around. Based on the Oscar-winning 18 The Fens | May 2020
DreamWorks Animation film, SHREK the musical is a Tony award-winning fairy tale adventure, featuring all new songs as well as the popular SHREK anthem ‘I’m A Believer’. SHREK the musical brings much-loved fairy tale characters to life in a hilarious allsinging, all-dancing extravaganza guaranteed to delight audiences of all ages. Following the sell-out success of Hairspray and their acclaimed production of Chitty Chitty Bang
Bang, multi-award-winning group, PODS are thrilled to present the regional première of this SHREKtacular show this SEPTEMBER. SHREK the musical runs SEPTEMBER 22-26 at The Cresset, 7.30pm Tuesday and Saturday, 7pm Wednesday to Friday and Saturday matinee at 12 noon. Special Opening Night Offer - all tickets only £15 (standard price £20 adults and £17.50 concessions) To book call 01733 265705 or visit www. cresset.co.uk
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Life on the land WORDS RICHARD GROOM Whenever you look into the history of the Fens, it soon becomes clear that agricultural workers frequently endured some very tough conditions With more time on my hands than usual lately, I have read several books on Fenland history. What strikes you when you read about Victorian times in particular is the sheer harshness of life for people working on the land. Let’s take the diet of farm workers as an example. It was basic, to say the least. Docky (lunch) would often be nothing more than bread, a potato or onion. Sometimes cheese was available, although it was often hard and difficult to digest. An old joke is that if a plough were to break, docky cheese would make a substitute. The main meal was typically just more bread and potatoes. Meat was eaten in small quantities and of poor quality. I remember my nan talking about boiling a pig’s head. She used to say: “The only part of a pig you can’t eat is the oink.” On a similar theme, in ‘Portrait of the Fen Country’ Edward Storey writes: “Meat was a luxury. A sheep’s head was a banquet and would provide the basis of many meals to come until the bones were as bare as pebbles on a beach.” In ‘Fen Boy First’, he writes about food being especially scarce in winter. He describes how autumn was a time to stock up for the lean months ahead. Onions, shallots and cabbage were pickled. Hams were salted. Blackberries were picked and made into blackberry vinegar for pouring over puddings. Elderberries and parsnips were used to make wine. THANK GOODNESS FOR BEER One source of cheer for many land workers was their daily allowance of beer. In ‘Rural Life in Victorian 20 The Fens | May 2020
Children take a welcome break from the harvest work England’, G. E. Mingay writes: “The quantity allowed might be as high as half a gallon or even more. Drink was a standard part of the wage, and it was difficult to get workers even to start a job without it.” He tells the tale of an American farmer visiting England in 1850 who tried to convince labourers that they would be better off in America: “His arguments were all rejected, however, once it was discovered that American farmers did not give their men a free allowance of drink.” Beer was in part drunk because it was safer than the dirty water available. Tea was often a luxury, and when it was drunk it was usually taken without milk. In fact, as recently as the 1930s there were big problems with infected milk. Steve Humphries and Beverley Hopwood in ‘Green and Pleasant Land’ note that ‘in 1931 alone, over 1,000 children under the age of fifteen
died of TB in England and Wales’ after drinking infected milk, and that many more were left crippled. IN SICKNESS AND POVERTY Getting sick was a particularly rough prospect for working people in Victorian times. In ‘Fenland Chronicles’, Sybil Marshall shares her father’s recollection of a particularly gruesome cure for whooping cough, in his own words: “Mother’s cure for that were to make me eat a fried mouse. I don’t know why I should care about eating a mouse, but I did, and now, arter seventy odd year, I could cag at the very thought on it. Perhaps the worst outcome for someone with physical or mental health problems, or indeed an inability to make any kind of a living, was to end up in the workhouse. Reports from Victorian workhouses list reasons for internment. It’s heart breaking reading. In one report, John
Ending up in Whittlesey Workhouse was a grim prospect Boyce, aged 25, has ‘idiot’ listed as the reason for being there. Children under ten are listed under reasons such as ‘age and infirmity’, ‘cripple’, ‘imbecility’ and ‘lost the use of one hand’. It’s also striking how many elderly widows and widowers were in workhouses. In the 1881 Census, John Holmes (89) and William Speechly (84) are just two of many in the Whittlesey workhouse. It’s believed that Drybread Road in Whittlesey got its name from the workhouse that it led to, presumably as an indication of what was in store for inmates. The
workhouse diet was mostly bread, sometimes served with broth that was nothing more than water that had been used for boiling meat, possibly with a few onions added. We know there was a workhouse in Whittlesey from at least 1725. In 1875 a new workhouse was built on land now occupied by Sir Harry Smith College. The 1881 Census records that whole families were in the workhouse, like the Warren family: Ann, a 38-yearold domestic servant and her children Eliza (10), and William (2). Lydia Chance is listed as an agricultural labourer, along with her children
Martha (3), John (2) and Mary (7 months). There’s a whole other story to be told about the plight of children in rural communities. Children often had it rough, working the land from a young age, especially at harvest time when everyone was expected to work long hours in the fields. Whether you were in work or in the workhouse, life in the Fens in Victorian times was likely to be severe and unforgiving.
Whittlesey Festival has been cancelled The Whittlesey Festival, which was due to be held on September 13, has now been cancelled as a result of organisational concerns relating to the coronavirus (COVID-19). The annual event, which usually takes place in Whittlesey town centre, has been cancelled following a decision by the Whittlesey Festival Committee. Cllr Peter Murphy, the Council’s Cabinet member responsible for Markets & Events said “It is always very disappointing to cancel much loved community events such as this, but after careful consideration
the Whittlesey Festival Committee felt they had no other reasonable option.” “With many businesses now closed and facing much uncertainty themselves, securing advertising and sponsorship would prove challenging. Many of the headline acts in the exciting programme of music and entertainment are also, understandably, unlikely to commit at this time. Continued planning of the event at this stage would represent a significant financial risk to Festival Committee funds and the success of the event.”
The Council is currently contacting the range of stallholders, caterers and entertainers who were due to attend the festival and will offer them the option of either transferring their booking to next year’s event, which will be held on Sunday 12 September 2021, or providing a full refund. The cancellation of the event follows on from the recent cancellations of both the St George’s Fayre in March, originally due to be held on April 26, and the Chatteris Midsummer Festival, originally due to be held on June 27 and 28. The Fens | May 2020
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COVID-19 CAPITAL GRANT SCHEME In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) Capital Grant Scheme provides a vital flexible capital subsidy to help Registered Limited Companies. For grants of £2,000 - £49,999, we will fund up to 80% of the total equipment costs. For grants between £50,000 £150,000 we will fund up to 50% of the total equipment costs.
URGENT APPEAL FOR FOSTER CARERS Urgent appeal for foster carers across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough (pic) - A campaign to urgently boost the number of people fostering to support children across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough during the coronavirus crisis has been launched. The number of people enquiring about becoming foster carers has dipped, with the immediate need being for teenagers, children with additional needs and sibling groups. Both Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council are launching a ‘Call for Action’ urging people who can help to change the lives of children and young people to become foster carers and provide loving, supportive homes as demand for the service increases. Councillor Simon Bywater, Cambridgeshire County Council Chairman of the Children and Young People Committee, said: “While many of us have family and friends who are there to support us in these difficult times, there are many children and young people across the county who are in need of that support more than ever.” Councillor Lynne Ayres, Peterborough City Council cabinet member for children's services, said: “Fostering transforms the lives of children by providing safe and stable environments for them to thrive and we have a dedicated recruitment team which will progress your enquiry by phone or video call during the self-isolation period.” During COVID-19, we are taking all the necessary steps during the fostering process to follow the government advice, for example, we can conduct initial visits virtually and have made arrangements to do so. If your application progresses then we will discuss the next stages with you which will include a face to face visit as part of the assessment process, this will adhere to the social distancing rules at all times. People who believe they can make a positive difference to a child’s life are encouraged to contact both council’s today. All carers receive training, 24 hour access to support, along with allowances. As a foster carer you need to have the time, patience and determination to support and help vulnerable children and young people who are living away from their families. You will need to be over 21 and have a spare bedroom in your home. Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council encourage you to find out more about fostering, visit: www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/ fostering email email@example.com or call 0800 052 0078 Visit www.peterborough.gov.uk/fostering email FosteringandAdoption@ Peterborough.gov.uk or call 0800 328 8433.
In order to apply for this grant, both the applicant and the project must be eligible. Eligible applicants are Small to Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the CPCA area. These are discretionary grants and each application is judged fairly and on its individual merits. An SME is any registered limited company with fewer than 249 employees, a turnover not exceeding 45 Million Euros, and a balance sheet that does not exceed 46 Million Euros. The CPCA area is Peterborough City, and the district council areas of Cambridge City, South Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Fenland, East Cambridgeshire, Rutland, West Suffolk, North Hertfordshire, Uttlesford, Lincolnshire - South Kesteven and South Holland, Kings Lynn and West Norfolk. All applicants must be able to produce evidence of income generation, by means of submitting copies of their accounts. Any grant offer is at the discretion of the CPCA, The CPCA’s decision is final, and there is no right of appeal. All applicants must be able to demonstrate how the purchase of grant funded equipment will protect and/or generate new jobs. Whilst the grant can pay up to 80% of the total project costs, it is a requirement that at least one new job will be protected or created for every £25,000 (or part thereof) of grant funding. For example, a grant of £50,000 could only be applied for if 2 jobs were to be created or protected. For further information please visit cambridgeshirepeterborough-ca. gov.uk/business-board/covid-19capital-grant-scheme/ The Fens | May 2020
Farmer Phil We catch up with our resident farmer, Philip Bradshaw, to see how Covid-19 has affected their day-to-day life
Last year I wrote of the challenges that the dry winter and spring had created for us on the farm, and noted that we must be due some significant rain to even things up… My prophecy was unfortunately correct, and we had seemingly endless wet weather which made autumn planting virtually impossible for many and harvesting of potatoes and onions a real challenge. We must just get on with the job, and I certainly do not mean to complain, but now we are back to very dry conditions again. This means for instance that some farmers are irrigating to apply water to some crops, while also struggling to lift potatoes left in the ground over winter due to the wet conditions! Here on our farm we have again planted our spring crops direct into the stubble which is good for the crop, our costs, and the environment. They seem to be emerging and growing well, and the autumn sown wheat and barley are starting to look almost ‘normal’ now they have dried up. Farming is carrying on through the Covid 19 lockdown as an ‘essential service’, although the real heroes are of course the medical staff on the front line and the emergency 24 The Fens | May 2020
services, postmen, refuse collectors etc.
Fish and Chip shops and other take aways suddenly ruined this important market for potatoes instantly.
I have had a normal lockdown period isolated on my tractor for days on end, and the quiet roads have made moving between farms much easier. We have had some issues with availability of certain things, and many of us are running short of PPE like dust masks, because for good reason the medical/caring fraternity have a priority need for such items. We have learned to think ahead and order crop protection products, fuel and fertiliser well in advance of needing it, due to challenges in the supply chain caused by the lockdown. There have been some serious problems for many farmers caused by the lock down, however. One example was the market for chipping potatoes, much of which is grown in our area. Initially, the closing of restaurants looked like it might increase the need for chipping potatoes, but then the closure almost overnight of
There are also issues with milk collection from farms, and the concern over labour availability for the impending UK fruit and vegetable harvests is a real issue. It would be great if the UK workforce could step up and get involved with harvest 2020. I do hope that the Covid 19 lockdown challenges have shown again how important UK produced food is to the economy and well being of the nation. The entire food industry is working hard to feed the nation going forward, and the Government needs to remember the importance of farming in the future.
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FINANCIAL KEY WORKER? I was asked how an Independent Financial Adviser could be considered a Key Worker* in the COVID-19 world. Apart from the administration of financial services here are some issues that I hope most readers will not require my help with. POWER OF ATTORNEY When an individual loses capacity to make their own decisions someone may have been awarded Power of Attorney (POA) to act on the patient’s interests in terms of Health & Welfare and/ or Property & Finance – or the Court of Protection may appoint a Deputy. My responsibility is to act with the Attorney or Deputy in respect of Property & Finance. I am a member of SOLLA specialising in later life advice, although POA is not restricted to older people. PROBATE A client could die, executors need to gather assets and distribute them according to a valid Will or the Rules of Intestacy. My responsibility is to safely and appropriately facilitate this. DEED OF VARIATION It may be appropriate for Executors of a Will to vary a Will within a prescribed timescale to make assets serve beneficiaries better, even reducing tax on an estate. Sometimes those working on the legal aspects of an estate can overlook an opportunity that an IFA would recognise. ESTATE PRESERVATION There are many opportunities to ensure assets are best used for the benefit of the owner, then when those issues have been settled attention could shift to other valued individuals or groups. These interests often (but not exclusively) tend to be associated with those nearing or in later life. An understanding of Trusts, linking with legal advice and an awareness of financial planning can be very helpful to those entrusted with caring for others. BUSINESS AS USUAL Although the financial impact of COVD-19 can be slight or devastating, I need to provide advice to clients. There may be choices to be made when using funds to keep a chosen lifestyle maintained, advice on the priority order could make a significant impact on the overall situation when all this is over. While face to face meetings are not possible as I write this, we use video conferencing and telephone contact to safely exchange information and discuss options. In turbulent investment markets this is when a proactive approach is helpful. FREE INITIAL REVIEW Having said that I hope readers will not need advice in many of these issues (for obvious reasons), however, if you have financial concerns and you are looking for some advice, why not have an initial consultation at no cost to you, by arranging a virtual meeting or a phone conversation with me? Tax planning is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. For financial planning advice on investments, retirement and estate planning, seek out an Independent Financial Adviser with a good record of delivering simple financial advice that really works.
Eamonn Dorling Dip PFS, Senior Independent Financial Adviser. Brooks Wealth Management Tel: 01733 314553 Mob: 07767 795816 Email: Eamonn@brookswealth.co.uk 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 The Fens | May 2020 25
A spring in the air
FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR HOME Chances are you have spent more time at home in the last month that you have for years. Now is the perfect time for a lick of paint or shopping for some new accessories to give your home a pop. And don’t worry, all these can be found and ordered online... With thanks to Queensgate Shopping Centre, Peterborough
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The Fens | May 2020
A Q&A With Local Author Wendy Fletcher Local author and mother of two EVA JORDAN shares her musings I’m currently reading a beautiful memoir called The Railway Carriage Child, written by local resident Wendy Fletcher. Look out for my review in next month’s magazine. In the meantime I thought we’d get to know Wendy a little better... Hi Wendy, thanks for agreeing to chat with me. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself? Hi Eva, I live in the railway carriages just outside Whittlesey, the last ones still occupied in this area – as far as I am aware. These have been in my family since 1935 and I spent my childhood there with my parents and grandmother; attending school at King’s Dyke and March. I returned to the carriages in 2009. Then my mother died and I realized how much history was lost with each generation. I started to record my memories, originally just for the family. Edward Storey, well-known chronicler of the Fens, suggested that this might appeal to a wider audience and The Railway Carriage Child evolved. Your memoir is beautifully written. Have you written any other books and do you have plans to write more in the future? This is my first book. I am currently collecting material for a book on the social history of King’s Dyke, which I hope to publish as a tribute to the families who lived and worked in that small community just outside Whittlesey. I am also 12,000 words into writing a novel and have started two children’s books. I am enjoying having a variety of projects and swap from one to the other, as inspiration takes me. Finally, what advice would you offer anyone thinking of writing a memoir? My first experience of writing was very lonely and isolating. I was surrounded by piles of notes and half-remembered images from more than fifty years ago. I found the balance for this by setting up a creative writing group (U3A Whittlesey Wordsmiths). Through them, I have met like-minded people and received support and encouragement. My advice to anyone considering a similar project would be ‘You don’t need to do it on your own’. You can purchase The Railway Carriage Child at Amazon or locally (when they re-open) at the Whittlesey Museum and Parkers Newsagents. Plus, if you’d like to read more by Wendy, you can read a number of her short stories in the two anthologies published by the Whittlesey Wordsmiths, Where the Wild Winds Blow and A Following Wind, also available on Amazon and the Whittlesey Museum. You can find out more about Eva by visiting www.EvaJordanWriter. com or find her on Twitter and Facebook: @evajordanwriter www.facebook.com/ EvaJordanWriter/ 28 The Fens | May 2020
Change = Opportunity For many of us over the coming weeks there will be changes, for those of you who try your best to avoid change it’s going to feel uncomfortable. Your natural response to change is to see it as something negative, rather than positive. Sometimes it is hard to see the light when you are stuck at the dark end of the tunnel. The reptilian part of your brain will try it’s best to set off your internal alarm system and put you in a state of fight or flight by flooding your system with adrenalin and cortisol, keep breathing and tapping to keep your nervous system calm and your ‘happy’ hormones up. Your instincts will be to mobilise into immediate action, I encourage you instead to be still for a while and really think about what it is that you want next. Give yourself power by acknowledging that you have choices in this moment of change. Take back control; do not allow panic to take you away from a path that will work better for you in the long term. “The more you use your power of choice and the more you focus your mind set on positively adapting to change, the more resilient you will be to dealing with impact that change will bring to your life.” – Kathryn Sandford I have set up a page on my (www. safehaven-therapy.com/changeopportunity) to support change which includes tips, exercises and videos to help you adjust, reset and be open to seeing change as an opportunity.
Susie Munns can be found at Safe Haven Therapy & Coaching Mobile: 07915 073 013 www.safehaven-therapy.com www.facebook.com/ SafeHavenTherapy
THIS MONTH’S BOOK REVIEW The Giver of Stars By JoJo Moyes Published by Penguin
QUIZ IN A CRISIS What a weird world we now live in. I forget how many weeks of lockdown it is now but I’ve been determined not to focus on the negatives, but rather on some of the nice things that have happened as a result of being forced to remain at home. Bank balance is one. I’ve spent very little apart from on essential foods and since by the time I finish work most of the food in shops has sold out, I buy whatever’s left meaning I’ve been feasting on steak, fish and lamb. Hey, why not, I’m not going anywhere, I might as well enjoy dinner! Then of course, there has been the advent of the online quiz. Designed to bring families closer via the wonder of the internet and video streaming, I decided to partake in the quiz that my wife’s family had organised. I should point out, I actually really don’t like quizzes. Probably because I’m not very good at them. I don’t retain knowledge unless it’s something that no one would ever need to know. I could recite every word of every ‘Back to the Future’ film for example, but I have no idea how many lines a sonnet should have. Far too much emphasis is put on how good at general knowledge you are, yet there is no evolutionary advantage to knowing how many shillings make a pound. However, I persisted and despite my customary and expected sarcastic approach, I actually found it fun. Fun, I should add once all the technical issues had been addressed. I’m throwing diplomacy out of the window here, it was the older generation that struggled with setting the video link up. Long conversations about how to install the app, how to answer the video call once they had and explaining they couldn’t also have the tv on in the background because everyone could hear Eastenders instead of the quiz. Once this hurdle had been jumped, it was all systems go and the chaos of seven couples in seven different places all talking at the same time on a computer began. On the whole, it was a success. But even if it hadn’t been it was nice to simply see other people and communicate with them. We laughed, joked and had a beer virtually together and at the moment that’s as good as it gets. Let’s everyone stay safe, protect yourselves and others and find fun ways to spend ‘time together’.
Joe Clarke-Ferridge is an occasional writer and because of being forced to stay at home, as you’ll see in the picture, I’ve finally found my mug! Find me @LifeofanOrdina1
Set in 1930s America, this story is based on a fascinating piece of American history regarding the horseback librarians of rural Kentucky. The aim of the Pack Horse Library Project, which was set up in 1934 by Eleanor Roosevelt, was to aid the education of those living in the more remote parts of the state, often hit hardest by the Great Depression. Hazardous work, including travel across tough terrain, often in adverse weather conditions, it was no easy task for the librarians (who were mostly women) who would regularly ride 20-mile routes into the Appalachian Kentucky Mountains via horseback. However, this band of women, who proved to be as determined as they were dedicated, delivered books and magazines to the people and families that requested them, as committed to their jobs as the mail carriers were. Narrated in the third person, the main protagonist of this story is Alice, a young English woman who, desperate to escape the rigid confines of polite society and her wellto-do family, marries a handsome young American called Bennett. However, when she arrives at her new home in America, all is not as Alice imagined it to be. She does her best to adjust to her new surroundings, but it soon becomes apparent that her new life in the small Kentucky town of Baileyville, despite the cultural shift from Sussex, is almost as stifling as her old one. Things change, however, when she volunteers to become a horseback librarian where she discovers new friends, including Margery O’Hare. Margery is unlike the other townswomen, or any of the women Alice knew in England. She wears leather breeches and unpolished boots. ‘I suit myself [she said], and people generally leave me be… That’s how I like it.’ The two women develop an unlikely friendship which, set against the vibrantly drawn landscape and mountains, interwoven amongst the beautiful imagery of the everchanging seasons, we follow the ups and downs of this pioneering duo alongside their other spirited friends. However, when tragedy strikes, their friendship is truly tested. Our verdict With vividly drawn characters, The Giver of Stars is a beautifully crafted and meticulously researched work of art. A real page-turner, both evocative and thought provoking, and full of heartfelt love and hope. Succinctly put, it is a story about a group of women finding themselves and their tribe, but above all else, it is a wonderful celebration of friendship and books. By Eva Jordan The Fens | May 2020
Wonderful owls WORDS RICHARD GROOM
Walking in the Fens countryside offers up some fantastic free shows, and one of the best is surely the sight of an owl looking for its next meal I am lucky to live in a Fenland village five minutes away from footpaths, farm tracks and open fields. My favourite time of day to walk is late evening, because there’s a good chance I’ll get to see my local barn owl hunting over the grassland. It’s a wonderful sight and I find myself rooting for him, hoping that he’ll catch a mouse or other tasty animal in his talons. Barn owls will hopefully remain a common site as farmers, private individuals and wildlife groups have been installing nesting sites in the Fens for several years. KILLING MACHINES Cute and lovable they may be, but owls usually have one thing on their mind: dinner! They have developed incredible physical features to make them superb killing machines. Tubular eyes. Most owls hunt at dusk or in the night, so they have developed large eyes and superb sight.
To fit such large eyes into their skull, their eyes are tubular. This means they can’t move their eyes, so they swivel their head. As a result, their body remains still and silent, helping them to go undetected by prey. Wonky ears. One ear is higher than the other, so sound reaches one a fraction of a second before the other. 30 The Fens | May 2020
The difference is something like 30 millionths of a second, but it’s enough to calculate the precise direction that a sound is coming from. To help further, a concave wall of feathers behind the ear openings channels sound into the ear. Near-silent flight. The front edges of an owl’s wings are serrated, which muffles the sound of its wing beats. Poor little mouse doesn’t hear its killer: by the time it knows something’s wrong, it’s too late. Fierce talons and a scissorlike beak. An owl’s talons crush the prey’s skull and bones, while the scissor motion of the beak softens up tissue. The downward facing shape of the beak is important, too. It keeps the owl’s field of vision clear and directs sound into the ears. Intelligent digestion. Owls don’t break their prey into pieces. Instead, they tend to swallow it whole. As the food passes through the owl, bones and fur are gathered into a ball and regurgitated. This is probably what earned owls their label as ‘wise’ in ancient times: it was believed that owls showed great wisdom in deciding which parts were indigestible.
Little owl by Steve Ball
SNAPPING OWLS IN THE FENS You will find superb pictures from local professional and amateur photographers on the brilliant ‘Nature of the Fens’ Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/ groups/natureofthefens/ Steve Ball frequently shares his pictures to the group. He says: “I’ve been following a few breeding pairs of little owls locally for a few years. They are quite easy to photograph as they perch while looking for prey, or sometimes they run along the ground looking for worms.” When it comes to camera equipment, experienced photographer Steve has this tip: “The camera matters of course, but a good lens is probably more important. You can start with a basic DSLR but attaching a quality 300mm lens to it – along with patience and luck – will help you be successful.”
Barn owl by Alec Wallis Short eared owl by Steve Ball
Like Steve, Alec Wallis has some good tips: “Learn when and where to look for owls. I’ve been watching the same barn owls for over a year and know their habits. One pair in particular hunt in the same place at 7.30 or thereabouts almost every evening. When you are ready to start shooting, use a fast shutter speed for a sharp focus. And take lots of pictures: for every 50 I take I might get one or two good ones.” Meanwhile, Lorraine Addy is proof that even beginners can take excellent pictures with basic equipment. “I only started when I got a Nikon D3500 last Christmas, although I’ve always had an interest in nature. I see owls while driving to work and pull over and open a window to take photographs. I saw barn owls a lot during daylight earlier this year. The stormy weather meant they couldn’t hunt for a few days at a time, so they came out in the day to make up for it.” So, if you have access to a camera and some time on your hands, why not see what you can do? The Nature of the Fens group would love to see your pictures. Thanks to Alec, Lorraine (image above) and Steve for kindly providing us with their fantastic pictures.
OWLS OF THE FENS Several species of owl can be found across the Fens, but you are most likely to see these three. Barn owl Unmistakable with their white, heart-shaped face, buff back and wings, and pure white chest. Most likely to be seen at dusk, but sometimes during the day too. With a wingspan of almost a metre, the barn owl is an impressive sight flying low across fields or open grassland, swooping down to pounce on an unsuspecting mouse, shrew or bird. Little owl About half the size of the barn owl, the little owl is brown with rounded wings and a short tail. Although mostly nocturnal, it can often be seen in the daylight. Rather than use up energy flying around looking for prey, the little owl perches on a tree branch, fence or telegraph pole, scanning the ground for its next meal. Short-eared owl Often seen hunting during the daytime, flying low over the ground looking for voles and small birds. About the same size as a barn owl, with a mottled brown body, short tufts that look like ears (but they aren’t) and pale underwings. Their numbers are greatest in winter when resident birds are joined by overseas visitors.
The Fens | May 2020
MAYOR’S DUCK RACE GOES DIGITAL
Easter Monday would have been the Annual Mayor of Whittlesey Duck Race on the Bower, raising valuable funds for the Mayor’s good causes. This event would normally attract hundreds of families as they enjoyed the 1000 ducks making their way down The Bower, and at £1 a time, this would have been a great financial boost to the Mayor’s chosen charities which were Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall, The Whittlesey Army Cadets and The Young Technicians. However, all was not lost and even though no money was raised from the sale of tickets, many enjoyed the thrill of the 2020 race. At a secret location in Whittlesey, as a bit of fun children and their families were encouraged to list the winning time that they thought would be of the winning duck in a three duck race over 22 metres. The ducks had to negotiate a tame inflatable crocodile.
The Mayor of Whittlesey, Cllr Julie Windle, said: “On the one hand I was disappointed for the charities that this race would normally have raised valuable funds for, but I was delighted to be part of one of the very few events in the UK over the Easter break and although Sky Sports BT Sport were not there to cover the event, the race was still shown on the Whittlesey Sports Association Facebook page.” Joint winner Kian said he is so happy to have won the race. He enjoyed watching and cheering on the race and got very excited to find out he had won. The other joint winner was 5-year-old Matilda-Rae Rogers, who added: “I just picked a time and hoped for the best, then to see that I was joint winner was amazing.” The winning time for the 2020 Whittlesey Duck Race was 4 mins 14 seconds.
Congratulations to joint winners Kian Massingham and Matilda-Rae Rogers who were the closest being a second either side of the correct finish time. Images courtesy RWT Photography
Whittlesey U3A update All our open meetings and interest groups have had to be postponed for the moment in accordance with government guidelines but, behind the scenes, we are still there to support members. The Committee are just a phone call away. Our email members will still receive an online magazine although we cannot print.
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New skills have been developed out of necessity. The Bridge group have bridged this gap by meeting virtually and playing online. The Creative Writing group have created a new space for themselves and are now using Zoom to ‘meet’ for a face to face exchange at their normal time each month. During this difficult time we still invite
phone calls and emails from anyone interested in joining us and we would like to assure everyone that normal activities will be resumed as soon as possible. Wendy Fletcher, Publicity Officer at wendyfletcherwriting@gmail. com
Riding the rollercoaster I’m not a fan of rollercoasters. I never have been and, generally, I stay away from them, even the little ones. Yet, that’s not always possible. At times I’ve been with a group of friends and I don’t want them to know I’m scared. So, I force a smile and stand in line.
up there?’ All the time my mind is racing; I’m trying to figure out if this is safe or not. Finally, we get to the summit. As we go over the top the whole thing speeds up, now we’re in free fall. My stomach is about 100m behind me, my eyes are closed and I’m inwardly screaming, ‘Please can I get off!’ But I can’t. I have to ride to the end with all the ups and downs.
The queue is always painfully long. The whole time I’m thinking to myself, ‘Why am I doing Have you noticed – life Paul Kosciecha, this?’ I’m flicking through can often feel like a Whittlesey Baptist Church different options in my rollercoaster? There’s a mind seeing if there is book in the Bible called a way out. There isn’t, so I quietly stand Ecclesiastes. In it we read that there is there waiting my turn. ‘a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.’ I reach the front and the attendant smiles It’s a reminder that life is not all plain and calls me forward. I think they can sailing. As we travel from beginning to smell the fear because there’s laughter end there will be hard days and easier in their eyes. I find a seat and pull down days; there will be times of joy and the restraining bar. Everyone’s in and the times of sadness. We won’t always like carriages begin to move. They slowly it. begin their climb upwards. My eyes can’t believe it, ‘Are we really going all the way As I write this article, we find ourselves
in one of those harder times. The country is in lockdown, an unseen enemy prowls about outside and all of our lives have been affected. Where do you turn in times like these? Over the last few weeks I’ve been encouraged with some of the statements the Bible makes about God. It tells us that God is a refuge. A safe place in the storms of life. It tells us that God is a rock. A firm place to stand as the winds batter. It tells us that God is an ever-present help. No matter where we are, God is close and able to help. These pictures have been a comfort to me, and I put them here, hoping they may be a comfort to you too. If you want to know more about God and life with him, why not visit our YouTube channel – www. whittleseybaptist.org.uk/ytchannel During these weeks where we are unable to meet we will be putting our services on this channel for people to watch. You are welcome to join us on a Sunday or whatever day works for you. I hope you all keep safe and well, and that you will be comforted by God in times of trouble.
The Fens | May 2020
New Nature’s School downloadable resources for families Looking for educational, inspiring and fun activities for your children? PECT has created a multitude of free resources to enhance your children’s understanding of the world around them and to enable them to discover more about the environment. The charity’s new Nature’s School resources aim to bring families together to enjoy, appreciate and protect their time together. By doing so it can have a positive effect on physical and mental health and ultimately our natural environment as well. “During this very difficult time it can sometimes be hard to know which way is up or down! Schools are closed, normal family routines have been disrupted and people are having to adjust to a new way of doing things,” explains PECT’s Environmental Education Lead Heidi Latronico-Ferris. “Here at PECT we are doing our bit to help children and their families try to make sense of it all.” She continues: “Our local environment is sometimes an unexplored natural resource, often overlooked for its wealth of possibilities, and not always appreciated or looked after as it should be. Take this time to turn that around and discover natural wonders, learn from Nature’s School, and in return protect it for future generations.” The resource activities include everything from Bird I Spy, creating a Bug Hotel, taking part in a Nature Scavenger Hunt, creating a time capsule, and many more. With fewer cars on the road can you hear the sounds of the natural world? Take a minute to stop and listen, and you can even create your own instrument by making a grass trumpet or a wind chime. You don’t always need expensive craft equipment to create a piece of art – look at all the resources we have around us, use these to get creative, and have some fun. 34 The Fens | May 2020
Nature’s School is not just for families – schools, charities and other organisations can also benefit from this resource and use it to create new ways of delivering the curriculum and learning objectives. PECT launched the resources at the end of March 2020 via Facebook and the original post has already
received more than 25,000 views and nearly 100 shares. The charity will be providing further environmental education content for children and parents over the next few weeks. To access the resources, simply visit www.pect.org.uk/projects/naturesschool/ or find PECT on Facebook.
Orange Tip Butterfly female on Stitchwort by Les Binns
Wildlife from Home WORDS Caroline Fitton, The Wildlife Trust
Tune into the tranquility of wildlife to soothe tough times. The Wildlife Trust in Cambridgeshire has created engaging online content and nature activities to connect with what’s around us in gardens and local spaces – and to help people find solace in nature . . . It’s easy to become absorbed by nature and wildlife right now – just step outside and look about . . . The Trust’s wildlife experts who might normally be leading school visits, events or talking to visitors on reserves have had to down tools and work from home – and so are now to be found online leading wildlife-spotting tours of their gardens, showing how to identify birdsong, or sharing heartwarming sounds of a dawn chorus on sunny mornings. Louise Rackham, Head of Wildlife and Communities says: “More people than ever are tuning into our wildlife videos and we’re seeing people have a lot of fun wildlife-watching in their gardens. Now that spring has well and truly arrived in splendid colour and sound - butterflies and bumblebees are all emerged from hibernation, blossom has burst into life and birds are singing beautifully every morning - many people have told us what butterflies they are spotting, or what birds they’re
hearing - joyful moments that they can hold dear at this difficult time. “Everyone can share and follow on social media using #WildlifefromHome and #EverydayWildlife – swapping experiences can be a lovely way of keeping in touch. Keep an eye on our channels in the coming weeks – we’ve got lots of lovely ideas and activities to help stay connected to nature and still feel the health benefits of being outside in your garden or neighbourhood. It’s all helping to lift our spirits and improve our mental wellbeing and proves that the role wildlife plays in our lives has become more important than ever.” The Wildlife Trust have created a suite of content on their website and social media platforms to help inspire, uplift and inform. For example, there are some fabulously easy, practical things to make - from birdfeeders to creating little mini ponds or even your own mini nature reserve. Handy ‘spotter sheets’ will help identify types of bees, other insects, create bug hotels, and plenty more - the website’s Wilder Learning section is devoted to helpful tips with things to do and make. WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR OUTDOORS FABULOUS FLUFFY FLIES The dark-edged bee-fly looks like a bumble bee, with a long, straight
proboscis (a harmless tongue, not a sting!) that it uses to feed on nectar from spring flowers, such as primroses and violets. On the wing from early spring, in flight, it is even more like a bee as it produces a high-pitched buzz. There are several species of bee-fly in the UK, the dark-edged bee-fly has dark markings on the edge of the wing, while others have plainer, translucent wings. BUZZING BUMBLES The bumbling hum of large bumblebees is a common sound in gardens and the red-tailed bumblebee lives up to its name. The female red-tailed bumblebee is a large, black bumblebee with a big red ‘tail’. Males are smaller and, as well as the red tail, have two yellow bands. Emerging early in the spring and feeding on flowers right through to the autumn, these bumblebees can be found anywhere there are flowers to feed on. It is a social bee, nesting in old burrows or under stones.
Red-tailed Bumblebee by Philip Precey
The Fens | May 2020
Orange tip butterfly by Wildlife Trusts
Bee Bombus lapidarius red tailed male by Rachel Scopes
SHIELDBUGS Shieldbugs look like beetles with shieldshaped bodies but they are ‘true bugs’. They are sometimes called ‘stink bugs’, because they can release a strongsmelling fluid from special glands when handled or disturbed. The common green shieldbug feeds on a wide variety of plants and they can turn up anywhere from garden to farm – sometimes landing on your hand! Adults overwinter and emerge in spring, laying their eggs on the undersides of leaves, the rounded nymphs appear in June and new adults are present in early autumn. ORANGE-TIP BUTTERFLIES A sure sign of spring is seeing the dancing flight of an orange-tip butterfly. This distinctive butterfly is on the wing from April through to July, with distinctive stuttering, faltering, dizzy flight patterns. The male orange-tip is unmistakeable: a smallish white butterfly with bold orange wingtips; the female is also white but lacks the orange wing tips. Both sexes have a mottled, ‘mossy grey’ pattern on the underside of their hindwings when at rest. 30 DAYS WILD The Wildlife Trust’ national, annual initiative 30 Days Wild returns this June with new and inspiring ways for people to connect with nature: and the
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countdown to the UK’s biggest nature challenge online has started - sign up is now open online. Back for its sixth year, 2020’s challenge is more important than ever as we are appreciating the wildlife close to our homes and the therapy that enjoying nature provides. Last year 400,000 people across the country took part, performing more than 10 million ‘random acts of wildness’. This year all the resources will be available online rather than physical packs in the post (for obvious reasons), with the usual colourful wallchart, a wild bingo game, colour-in window poster and passport log-book with ideas to record wonderful wild actions – including crafting with nature or going plastic-free for a day, to taking action for bugs, bees and butterflies in your garden. Sign up and find out more at www.wildlifebcn.org/30DaysWild JOIN/HELP/SUPPORT If you’ve enjoyed visiting a reserve during lockdown, are enjoying the online content or simply want to help the future work of the Trust, please consider giving support either by joining as a member or by donation – here’s where: www.wildlifebcn.org/support-us
Orange Tip butterfly by Alan Price
STAY CONNECTED Check out www.wildlifebcn.org/ wildlife-from-home for the suite of engaging content. Using the hashtag #WildlifefromHome people are submitting photos of insects and plants that they’re unable to identify: the Trust’s research and monitoring team are able to supply answers, facts and great nuggets of unusual information . . . www.facebook.com/groups/ wildlifebcn.research www.facebook.com/wildlifebcn National Wildlife Trusts: www.wildlifetrusts.org/looking-afteryourself-and-nature Tune in at to a weekly wildlife programme on YouTube for families, with a new video on Wildlife Watch UK every Wednesday, 10am, with wildlife experts, home-school help and seasonal species to spot wtru.st/Wildlife-Watch-YouTube or www.youtube.com/channel/UCCXBsQ6yACeGoWCDVa-LWA Please turn over for activity ideas to try at home with 30 Days Wild...
The Fens | May 2020
Recipes of the month
INGREDIENTS • 275g Co-op unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing • 100g bar Co-op Irresistible Fairtrade • 70% dark chocolate, broken into squares • 250ml Irish stout • 125g Co-op ready to eat dried prunes • 225g Co-op Fairtrade brown sugar • 200g Co-op self raising flour, sieved • 25g Co-op Fairtrade cocoa powder, sieved • 4 Co-op British eggs • 3 tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra for dusting • 1 tsp ground nutmeg • 1 tsp vanilla essence • 85g icing sugar • 5 tbsp condensed milk
Irish stout cake THIS GROWN-UP, BITTERSWEET BAKE IS MADE WITH A RICH MIXTURE OF STOUT, CHOCOLATE AND SPICES FEEDS 12 • READY IN 1 HOUR 30 MINUTES METHOD 1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/Gas 4 2 Grease a 21cm round, loosebottomed cake tin, then line with greaseproof paper 3 Melt the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the base doesn’t touch the surface
4 When melted, set aside to cool
inserted into the centre
5 Blend the stout and prunes until smooth, then set aside
9 Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely
6 Place 225g of the butter and the brown sugar, flour, cocoa, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla essence in a mixing bowl
10 While the cake is cooling, beat the rest of the butter and the icing sugar together until creamy, then beat in the condensed milk
7 Beat until smooth, then stir in the chocolate and the prune and stout mixture
11 Cover and chill the frosting until the cake has cooled
8 Spoon the mixture into the cake tin, level the surface and bake for 55-65 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean when
12 Spread the frosting over the top of the cake, and serve dusted with the extra cinnamon.
Warm butter bean and pesto salad THIS GLUTEN FREE DISH WITH BUTTER BEANS AND CREAMY PESTO DRESSING MAKES A GREAT PACKED LUNCH
FEEDS 2 • READY IN 40 MINUTES INGREDIENTS • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into wedges • 1 small red onion, cut into thick wedges • 2 tbsp Co-op olive oil • ½ x 190g jar Co-op Italian green pesto • ½ x 160g bag Co-op sliced curly kale • 3 tbsp Co-op 0% fat • Greek style natural yogurt • 400g can Co-op butter beans, drained and rinsed • 25g pecan nuts, toasted 38 The Fens | May 2020
METHOD 1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/ fan 180°C/Gas 6. Toss the squash and onion in 1½ tbsp of the oil, 1 tbsp of the pesto and seasoning. Roast for 30 mins until beginning to soften. Add the kale and roast for 10 mins more. 2 Meanwhile, mix the remaining pesto with the yogurt to make a dressing. 3 Heat the rest of the oil in a
frying pan, and fry the butter beans until they begin to pop and blister. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the roasted veg and pecans to the pan and toss together. Transfer the salad to a serving dish and drizzle over the dressing. Serve immediately.
Banana breakfast sandwiches CO-OP BANANAS ARE ALL FAIRTRADE. HERE, THEY’RE CARAMELISED AND MADE INTO AN INDULGENT TOASTIE WITH DARK CHOCOLATE FEEDS 4 • READY IN 25 MINUTES
Leek and pepper curry LOW IN SATURATED FAT AND READY IN 30 MINUTES, THIS VEGAN CURRY MAKES A GREAT MIDWEEK DINNER
FEEDS 4 • READY IN 30 MINUTES INGREDIENTS • 1 tbsp Co-op vegetable oil • 1 red onion, thinly sliced • 3cm ginger, finely grated • 2 Co-op British leeks, thinly sliced diagonally • 2 mixed peppers, thinly sliced • 1 tsp each ground cumin and garam masala • ½ tsp ground turmeric • 400g can Co-op Italian chopped tomatoes • 1 tsp Fairtrade caster sugar • 2 x 250g packs Co-op microwave basmati rice • 30g Co-op flaked almonds, toasted • 2 tbsp roughly chopped coriander leaves • 4 tbsp coconut dairy free yogurt alternative
INGREDIENTS • 75g Fairtrade caster sugar • 5 small bananas, cut into 1cm slices • ½ tsp ground cinnamon or grated nutmeg (optional) • 75g Co-op cashew nuts, roughly chopped and toasted • 75g Co-op Fairtrade 80% cocoa dark cooking chocolate, roughly chopped • 8 slices bread (we used a Co-op farmhouse white loaf) • 3 tbsp Co-op vegetable oil METHOD 1 Put the caster sugar in a nonstick frying pan with 1 tbsp cold water 2 Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat until it bubbles and turns amber 3 Carefully add the bananas and spices, if using, and cook over a high heat for 1-2 mins, tossing to coat all over. Leave to cool for 5 mins 4 Divide the bananas, nuts and chocolate between 4 bread slices 5 Top with the other slices, then brush the tops with half the oil 6 In a large, dry nonstick frying pan, cook the sandwiches oil-side down for 1-2 mins until golden 7 Brush the tops with the remaining oil, flip, then cook for 1-2 mins 8 Halve the toasties to serve
Recipes provided with thanks from Co-op. To find ou more please visit www.coop.co.uk
METHOD 1 Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry for 8-10 mins, until softened and starting to turn golden. Add the ginger, leek, peppers and spices. Fry for 1-2 mins until fragrant, then stir in the chopped tomatoes, along with the sugar. 2 Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 mins, until thickened, then season to taste. 3 Cook the rice according to the pack instructions, then mix in the flaked almonds. Scatter the coriander over the curry, then serve with the rice and yogurt alternative. The Fens | May 2020
Council thanks residents for “heartwarming” gratitude and support Messages and letters of thanks and colourful children’s drawings are brightening up the days of frontline council staff who continue to work through the coronavirus pandemic Fenland District Council has thanked residents for their gratitude and continued support for staff as they do everything they can to help keep communities going during the crisis. Chief executive Paul Medd said: “The messages we are receiving are truly heart-warming, and are helping to keep our staff motivated through these challenging times. “The work being undertaken day in, day out is immense. But our staff have worked at pace through complex and challenging situations, created new ways of working and gone above and beyond to ensure our vital services keep running and that residents and businesses receive the help and support they need. “I am extremely proud of the fantastic work being delivered and continue to be impressed by the resilience and dedication of our workforce.” Council Leader, Cllr Chris Boden, added: “At times like these, local government comes into its own, helping those who are in urgent need. Our keyworkers are doing an incredible job in difficult circumstances. Every bin emptied, every emergency payment processed, every food parcel delivered, and every non-essential trip avoided, all add up. Together we will make it through this period and come out stronger.” Here’s a flavour of just some of the messages received: “Thank you very much for your continuous support during this crisis and please stay well and safe.” – Jacqueline, on our refuse collectors “Thanks to your young collector today for our conversation via sign language checking I am ok. Stay safe.” – Sylvia, on our refuse collectors “Thank you to your bin men. Our garden is our only safe space, from two OAPs.” – Lynda, on brown bin collections “Thank you so much and thanks for all your hard work during this difficult 40 The Fens | May 2020
time.” – Debbie, on confirmation of receiving a Business Support Grant “That’s brilliant. Thank you so much. That’s a huge weight lifted for us and our business.” – Tom, on confirmation of receiving a Business Support Grant “Oh what a relief I am so grateful for your help on this. Thank you again.” - Amy, on confirmation of receiving a Business Support Grant “Thank you so much for everything.” – a 94-year-old March man, on receiving medication and food shopping via the Council’s COVID-19 response hub “I would just like to send a massive thank you to your community hub! A member of staff provided advice for support that can be provided to my elderly grandparents who we are unable to see due to living in Kent. I have now been able to arrange for them to have some shopping delivered over the next few days, so thank you again.” – Helen, on the COVID-19 response hub “Thank you for what you have done so far and are continuing to do. Those already on the frontline are taking on far more than ever before while other staff have been diverted to other roles. You are all going the extra mile and I should like to thank you all very sincerely for keeping the show on the road.” – Cllr Kay Mayor, Chairman of Fenland District Council “There are...many public sector workers like yourselves with essential jobs that are taking on far more than ever before. Thank you’s are often implied. They can be casually placed in a box labelled “take it as read”, presumed too self-evident to be publicly stated. I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to all our brilliant Fenland District Council teams for all their help and support, it’s very much appreciated.” – Cllr Dee Laws, Fenland District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning
“I would personally like to thank you…for the proactive approach being taken to assist all businesses as far as is possible. I know that these are busy and testing times for you all and you are having to adjust to changes on a daily basis and that in itself can be challenging. As a councillor having the support and guidance from Council officers makes life so much easier when dealing with constituents as I am able to say with confidence that if the Council can help, it will. All too often people are of the misconception that the Council is an uncaring and bureaucratic organisation. Obviously rules and procedures have to be adhered to but working on the inside, I see a team of dedicated people working hard to make the life of the Fenland folk better. Please keep up the amazing work you guys do and I for one will champion the Council and ensure those I speak to understand the work being done.” – Cllr Andy Maul, District and Town councillor for the Waterlees Village Ward, Wisbech. • The Council currently has 6 out of 303 members of staff who are selfisolating in line with Government advice. • For the latest coronavirus information and advice, visit: www.fenland.gov.uk/coronavirus
The Fenland Mum New columnist Hazel Beecroft shares her journey of motherhood whilst living on the edge of the Fens
think I’ll be back within a few weeks, maybe I’ll take six at most,” I told my boss, my hand resting on my emerging bump. He gave me a knowing smile, and suggested I decided later. He was right to think I might change my mind. By the time I was full term with my daughter I was set on taking the whole year. I have worked since I left school, cramming in part-time education, writing novels and horse riding either side of the day. I was excited at the prospect of a whole year at home, nestled in the Fens, and naively anticipated endless leisure time, punctuated with lots of cuddles. Although I was daunted at pausing my career, I reframed it as an adventure. I had never had a gap year; now was my chance. How hard could it be? We didn’t settle on her name straight away, her hospital wrist tag said “Baby Beecroft”, but at two days old she became Verity. It was HARD. Don’t get me wrong, it was magical, rewarding, and life-affirming, but incredibly difficult. I was tortured by broken sleep, craving for alone time, missing adult conversation. I loved my baby with all my heart, but I was exhausted, neglected, and jealous of my husband who still participated in society. There were endless emotional hurdles (pressure to breast-feed, relatives to placate, endless mum guilt), and physical changes to process (thank God for Bio-Oil). There was Google to consult at three in the morning with “is it normal for my baby to [insert latest concern here]”. The countryside outside my window beckoned me, reassuring me it would be okay, I could leave the house with a baby. I started with a cautious pram-push down a country lane, just a few minutes either way, one hesitant step after the other, and the Fenland breeze welcomed me back. From then on I became increasingly adventurous. Verity explored the great outdoors strapped to my chest in a sling, tucked into the off road buggy or perched in a backpack. My conservationist sister took us on tours of local nature reserves, including Holme Fen, Gault Wood and Woodwalton Fen, keen to point out the various flora and fauna to her beaming niece, and we picked our way across bogs, through long grasses and around trees. We went on trips to National Trust properties, which offer a truly perfect family day out. I gained confidence from my new group of mum friends. Strangers thrown together near the end of our pregnancy, we were encouraged to set up a WhatsApp group by our NCT mentor. As well as endless support and encouragement, we shared the highs without restraint (because people without babies really don’t want to see ANOTHER photo of your child) and we confessed the lows (exploding nappies, clonking baby heads on door frames, and ridiculous sleep-deprived arguments with our partners). After the babies arrived one by one, each with a unique birth story, in completely the wrong order of due dates, we ventured out to babyfriendly establishments and quickly discovered our
favourite local haunts. We invested in gigantic nappy rucksacks and lugged around carry cots. We tried everything on offer for tiny tots and knackered mums in and around the Fens. We snickered at our husbands stuck in offices whilst we enjoyed a hot summer. We used each baby class as an excuse to ABOUT THE AUTHOR meet up, fill our day and Hazel Beecroft grew up consume as much cake around Cambridgeshire, as we possibly could. We England, and lives with her went to Calmababy in husband, daughter and two Peterborough for post-natal horses on the edge of The yoga, baby swimming and Fens. She is a self-published baby massage, where author of equestrian fiction Selina’s café was a firm - complete with romance, favourite for lunch – we conflict and drama (to often ordered the avocado keep the protagonist busy) and egg “Energiser” - all set in the Fens. Find her off the menu. We tried books online at Amazon. baby sensory in Cardea, co.uk, available in both Buggy Fit in Central Park paperback and e-book. in Peterborough, various Follow her on Facebook soft play centres and – my @HazelBeecroftAuthor or favourite – Sweaty Mama Instagram @hazel_beecroft workouts. Sometimes we for regular updates on her met at Ferry Meadows for riding and writing. a picnic, once we went to Oundle for a pootle. I even met my future childminder at my village toddler group, a chance meeting I’m forever grateful for. Each outing perked me up; the fellow mums were all in the same crazy boat, someone always had a horror story to share that made us laugh in hindsight, relieved we weren’t the only ones struggling. I was a member of a tribe. There were a few fails, like when I had to leave the swimming pool with a screaming baby because everyone was staring and then cried along with her in the changing room, humiliated and disappointed. There were frustrating moments when I wondered why Verity had to be the one with colic, or the leaky nappy, or dribbling puree down her chin, but that was par for the course of being a first time mum. Even when it went wrong, I was proud of myself for trying, because I had something to talk about when my husband got home, and I’d already watched everything on my Netflix list. There were so many more highs, and our bond was strengthened by each shared experience. Her reaction to every escapade was reward enough; wonder when she saw her first butterfly, glee when she dipped her feet into the Peterborough Lido, and awe when she watched me give her a massage (which made the front cover of the Calmababy brochure!). At the end of the best year of my life I was prepared for the new adventure of returning to work and juggling, content to know we had made the most of our time, which made leaving Verity with someone else a little more bearable. Welcome to the Fens, Verity. We had such an adventurous first year. The Fens | May 2020
BUSINESSES SURVIVE THE LOCKDOWN WORDS RICHARD GROOM IMAGES CHRIS BRUDENELL The COVID-19 outbreak is having devastating implications for many companies and their employees, but there are encouraging examples of local businesses finding ways to keep going
Despite the current situation’s effect on the economy, it is heartening to see many local businesses working hard to serve their customers. One of them is Richard Jones, a familiar sight at many community events as ‘The Fenland Roaster’. Richard’s usual business is providing hog roasts, barbecues and buffets, but Richard says all that changed in an instant: “All my catering bookings cancelled overnight, including weddings and big events with thousands of visitors. But I decided that I could switch to providing people with bread, sausage rolls, 42 The Fens | May 2020
pasties, pies and cakes from my van, as I have good relationships with my baker and other suppliers.” To get food out to the community, Richard takes his van out to Whittlesey, Eastrea, Coates and Turves on a schedule explained on his website (www. thefenlandroaster.co.uk/fooddelivery-and-collections) and Facebook page. In addition, Richard is delivering directly to the homes of people who are isolating. Food can be ordered
Richard Jones is bringing freshlymade food to the community
ready for collection by text or email; contactless payment is available at the van.
Richard has taken things further still, using his cooking skills and facilities to come up with a range of onepot meals that can be heated in the oven. Lasagne, chilli, casseroles, stews, bakes and curries are available, in meat and vegetarian options. Although he is no stranger to hard work, running a service like this singlehanded is demanding. Richard is however getting a great response from his customers and has seen his following on Facebook grow as word has spread.
Adrian and Claire generally leave home around 7am and finally get to sit down in the evening at around 8pm. Adrian says: “It doesn’t end there though. There are queries from customers to answer and of course the plants still need After a busy couple of weeks, the shop was temporarily closed to make important changes and is open for business again. Lynn explains: “We created a one-way system so that people can keep two metres apart. A queuing system is in place at the till with a Perspex barrier to keep staff and customers as safe as possible. We also offer a service where customers can phone through an order and pick it up from a collection point outside the shop.”
PLANTS TO YOUR DOOR Implementing a delivery service was also the response from Westfield Nurseries in Whittlesey. Although having to close the garden centre was a shock, owners Adrian and Claire Howson didn’t take long to get moving again. Adrian says: “Unfortunately, we had to furlough two employees, leaving myself and Claire to get the delivery service up and running. We didn’t have much time for planning. It was very much a case of getting on with it and learning from our mistakes. One of us takes orders by phone and the other loads the van. As our stock changes continually through the season, we use our Facebook page as a way to let customers know what’s available. “In the first 25 days we made around 700 deliveries and our customers are being very appreciative. We think that if people are having to remain at home, then the garden is helping to keep them sane!”
watering. We also need to keep stocked by being available for deliveries or collecting plants from our growers.” All this hard work doesn’t translate into huge profits, as Adrian explains: “People shop with their eyes so we’ve lost a great deal of the purchases that would be made as people wander around the garden centre.” Westfield Nurseries also invested in a new coffee shop last year, so losing the income that was generating has also had a major impact. REDESIGNING A FARMSHOP At Harvest Barn Farmshop near Peterborough (https://harvestbarn. co.uk), keeping the shop open has presented a number of challenges for Lynn Briggs and her team. The immediate effect was that the onsite coffee shop had to close, although the farmshop was able to remain open to sell essentials including vegetables, fruit, meat and bread.
The impact on the business is of course much broader than requiring a change to the shop layout: “Several members of staff have been furloughed but we hope to bring them back as things pick up. We are also working on plans to get our kitchen running again so we can produce home cooked meals and cakes for collection.” Lynn is taking a positive long-term view of the situation: “We are glad to be open and supplying fresh produce to our customers. They have been incredibly loyal and I am so grateful to them for sticking with us. We want to keep going as we have so many great plans for the business and hope to pick things up again properly soon.” LOOKING FORWARD TO BETTER TIMES It’s clear that even the busiest small business at the moment is likely to be bringing in a fraction of their normal turnover. As Richard Jones says: “A friend of mine who is also a caterer summed it up nicely when he said he’s busy, but he’s making pennies rather than pounds.” But when speaking to local businesses I get a sense that they are thankful to still be operating and optimistic about the future. Hopefully, people will support these and other local businesses now, and won’t forget them in the future. The Fens | May 2020
DIGGING UP THE PAST
WISBECH WORDS AND WALKS (PART 1) WORDS GARRY MONGER
Wandering Wisbech as part of our ‘Lockdown’ exercise provides an opportunity to learn more about the town’s heritage. Most residents are familiar with Joseph Medworth’s Castle Circus development which includes The Crescent, Union Place, Ely Place, Castle Square, Museum Square and Market Street. Fewer will know that some of these properties and others in the Market Place, North and South Brinks feature in films and books. There are over two hundred Georgian and other historic buildings and monuments; blue plaques provide some information and details of listed buildings can be found online(1). Many buildings have been refronted over the years and some may hide earlier structures. The old library, now the reception of The Angles theatre, in Alexandra Road, conceals the original Georgian theatre behind. Opposite is the Luxe Cinema, formerly a Women’s Institute hall. WISBECH WAR WALK Wisbech played a significant part in World War One by not only providing soldiers for the British Army but also prefabricated buildings for army regiments and a hospital. This map highlights the locations that would have been of importance during the war and also the places of remembrance for those who made the ultimate sacrifice.(2). Other walks in Wisbech and the 44 The Fens | May 2020
Fens can be found at the Visit Cambridgeshire Fens website (3). The town’s residents have included an archbishop, bishops, High Sheriffs, Secretaries of State, MPs, Constables of the Castle, barons, knights, colonels, admirals, Nobel Laureates, Nobel Peace Prize nominees and Olympians. Writers to visit Wisbech and record their experiences in their diaries or memoirs include Isaac Casaubon (1611), Samuel Pepys (1663), Daniel Defoe (1723), William Cole (1772), John Howard (1776), Joseph Baretti (1778), William Cobbett (1830), William Macready (1836), Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald (1964) and Nicholas Wollaston (1965). The town has had a number of histories published over the years, the first ‘An Historical Account of the Ancient Town and Port of Wisbech’ by William Watson (4) in 1827. This was followed by The History of Wisbech published in 1833, The History of Wisbech and the Fens (1849) by Thomas Craddock and Neil Walker (5), and History of Wisbech and Neighborhood, During the Last Fifty Years - 1848-1898 (1898) by FJ Gardiner (6). Former Wisbech journalist, John Gordon, is one of the best-known writers to feature Wisbech locations in his books: The House on the Brink, The Giant under the Snow, Riders of
the Wind and other stories. The Castle, Museum, Peckover House, Rose and Crown Hotel and other pubs are easily recognisable. Whilst many stories are aimed at the adolescent market, the books are enjoyed by a wider readership and he is held in high regard as an author in the style of M R James. For a younger readership Rev W Awdry’s Thomas the Tank series of books feature trams that would have been seen running along the Wisbech to Upwell tram line and locomotives at the railway stations. Walking the route of the line follows the former canal, in parts it has been made into the dual carriageway (Churchill Road). More recent non-fiction publications which are easier to obtain include those by Jane Arthur, Robert Bell, Trevor Bevis, Peter Clayton, George Dunlop, Jane Holloway, Bridget Holmes, Andrew C. Ingram, Andy Ketley, Roger Powell, Kevin Rodgers, Rex Sly, Diane Calton Smith, William P
Smith and Dorothy Thurman. Those published by Wisbech Society may be ordered online (7) and those published by the Friends of Wisbech & Fenland Museum are available from the museum shop and Etcetera (8). Links to online publications, maps and retailers are in the footnotes. More recent films using Wisbech as a location include ‘Still Crazy’ (1998) starring Jimmy Nail, Bill Nighy and Timothy Spall. ‘David Copperfield’ (1999), ‘Micawber’ (2001) starring David Jason, ‘Dean Spanley’ (2008) starred Peter O’Toole. Channel Five featured the Rose and Crown hotel in the 2009 series of ‘The Hotel Inspector’ with Alex Polizzi and the hotel’s former owners (https://m. youtube.com/watch?v=f4U4Z3pATn0). Last year Wisbech ‘2019 Made in Minecraft: A different point of view’ was released (www.collusion.org.uk/ projects/minecraft-wisbech/). 1. https://britishlistedbuildings. co.uk/england/wisbech-fenlandcambridgeshire#.Xp3giNHTWhA 2.
https://d20u174ifpwkls.cloudfront.net/great-war/ uploads/2014/05/Wisbech-Walking-Trail.pdf 3. www.visitcambridgeshirefens.org/town-walks 4. https://archive.org/ anhistoricalacc03unkngoog/page/n15/ 5. https://archive.org/ historywisbecha00cradgoog ) 6. https://archive.org/ historywisbecha00gardgoog/ historywisbecha00gardgoog_djvu.txt 7. www.wisbech-society.co.uk/publications/ 8. www.etc-shop.co.uk
details/ mode/2up details/ stream/
Film footage of the town includes that available online at the East Anglian Film Archive. This includes the North Cambridgeshire hospital in the 1920s (www. eafa.org.uk/catalogue/972) and 1930s, (www.eafa.org.uk/catalogue/174) street scenes from the 1920s shown at the Electric Theatre, and 1963 film of Wisbech Castle (www.eafa.org. uk/catalogue/2977).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Garry Monger BSc PGCE is a former local councillor, teacher and army reservist. He is a member of FenArch and other local groups working to promote community archaeology in the Fens. The Fens | May 2020
The Lockdown Cinema WORDS Nathan Smith, Luxe Cinema A trip to the cinema is, for many, an absolute delight. An escape from the ‘real world’ for a couple of hours as we jump into a new world of excitement, intrigue, emotion or drama. The current situation however has resulted in the lamps being turned off in the projectors and the tabs pulled across the screen while we all become heroic leads in our own right. But can you recreate the cinema experience at home and how can you cut through the overwhelming choices available to find something to watch?
he major difference between a trip to the movies and a night in front of the telly at home (other than having to put up with Karen next door endlessly singing along to Wham!) is the level of distraction around you. There is a very good reason why some whispering in the movie theatre is so frustrating, it should be you and the movie while the rest of the world disappears as the lights go down. At home there are pets, family members and a whole house full of distractions to deal with – especially during self-isolating – so the first step in recreating the experience is to remove as many of these distractions as possible. Close the curtains, pop the phones/tablets in another room and make sure you are well stocked with snacks to go the distance. Immersing yourself in a film is helped by giving the film your undivided attention. In a time that sees many of us feel isolated and alone, film can offer a window into another world. Enjoy it. Likewise, when the credits roll you can take a moment and then chat about it, in person or online – or by phone. Why not set up a Film Club and all watch the same film at the same time, to then enjoy a discussion after the
46 The Fens | May 2020
movie and see what you all thought. Oh – and always have proper cinema snacks for the right movie. No point tackling a cheesy action movie with a bit of avocado on toast. Treat yourself. If you are isolating as a family – why not recruit the children and have them design tickets for a movie night? Later on they can be Ushers with a torch and a tray of snacks which gives them work experience and *you* get to enjoy being served by them which is a win-win if ever I’ve seen one. Now if you do not have a movie library you are probably among the millions with subscriptions to streaming services such as Netflix or Prime Video and struggle with the mountain of content available. For many a ‘Movie Night’ can rapidly spiral out of control and end up being a ‘Flick through pages and pages of content until it is midnight’ night so tackle this with the following top tips: 1) When you enjoy a movie – if you can rate it on the app you use, do so. This helps the app prioritise more relevant content. Sometimes this will create new sub-categories such as ‘Because You Liked…’ which can be full of hidden gems and new favourites.
2) Keep an eye on the social media posts from friends. Sure, Steph from accounts has terrible taste in men, but she has *cracking* taste in film and you would be surprised how many films can end up going under the radar. 3) Apps such as JustWatch can filter content to show you what has just been added on a range of services, including the recently launched Disney+ and the exceptional MUBI. This allows you to find something fresh. While the cinemas are closed there has never been a better time to sit in the dark at home and enjoy something new along with snacks, drinks and a break from the news. Enjoy your movie choices – or enjoy *not enjoying* some awful trashy movie while you finish off the tub of ice cream that has been awaiting a large spoon and a couple of hours of car chases, just remember that if you throw popcorn all over the floor during the film – you’ll be the one cleaning it up this time… unless the child ushers are still on duty.
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48 The Fens | May 2020
The Fens Digital issue has gardening tips, activities to do with your children, tasty recipes to try at home as well as history articles, he...
Published on Apr 28, 2020
The Fens Digital issue has gardening tips, activities to do with your children, tasty recipes to try at home as well as history articles, he...