The Fens Greater Peterborough January 2019

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A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens


Issue 32 | January 2019


Ellie Sandall


Straw Bear



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ED’S letter

Did you spot our sweet pair of bunnies on our January front cover? Go back and have a look if not. They belong to Ellie Sandall who we had the pleasure of meeting one slightly rainy day in December. We were all a little in awe, not least photographer Chris, who had watched CBeebies read out one of Ellie’s books during their ‘Storytime hour’. Ellie is like so many of the people we’re honoured to meet through producing this magazine. She’s hardworking, talented but completely approachable in her willingness to guide others. It’s people like these that live in our area that I just love to celebrate. It’s also a great inspiration - you never know, I might even dust off my pencil and get doodling in a sketch book in the new year... I’d like to make a special thanks to each and everyone who purchased a calendar, whether it was through one of our shops or direct through the magazine. I’ve heard that lots of them have made their way across the sea to places such as America, Canada and Germany. We’ve been amazed and hope they’re being enjoyed. We still have a few calendars left, so do get in touch with me direct if you would like one. Have a great month!


THIS month 11 Your garden in January

12 Interviewing Ellie Sandall 16 Eastern Angles returns to the Key Theatre 22 Richard talks about the Straw bear Festival 30 New Year fashion 32 Discover the Whittlesea Mere


36 The return of the Big Garden Birdwatch 38 Amy takes a wintry seaside walk 42 Catching up with Stephen K Amos 43 Short story competition winner announced 46 Recycling beans to make fire wood



A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens


Issue 32 | January 2019


Ellie Sandall


Straw Bear


THE TEAM PUBLISHER / EDITOR Natasha Shiels EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Amy Corney SUB EDITOR Theresa Shiels PHOTOGRAPHY Chris Brudenell ADVERTISING SALES 07511 662566 ACCOUNTS 07511 662566 SUBSCRIPTIONS To subscribe for just £12 for 6 issues, contact us at CONTRIBUTORS Joe Ferridge | Eamonn Dorling | John McGinn | Westfield Nurseries | Mayur and Ubhi Mistry | Eva Jordan | Robert Bull Whittlesey Veterinary Centre | David White Sara Fontanella | Richard Groom DISTRIBUTION

9,000 copies printed monthly. Delivered to Whittlesey, Eastrea, Coates, Turves, Pondersbridge, Benwick, plus copies in March, Wisbech, Ramsey and Queensgate Shopping Centre

48 Events diary 50 Independent of the month The Little Marketing Co. @thefensmag thefensmag

ISSUE 32 |JANUARY 2019 Ely Riverisde by Andrew Sharpe

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

The Fens | January 2019




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The Fens | January 2019

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The Fens | January 2019


WHITTLESEY PARKRUN CONTINUES TO GROW Whittlesey’s parkrun has now been a regular feature for over 12 weeks with the number of participants averaging just under 100. Our best week was 123 walkers and runners. The volunteering has also been extremely successful with around 20 volunteers each week. Most recently we had The Whittlesey Warriors Netball team taking over all volunteering roles. The focus of our parkrun is that people are equally welcome to walk or run the 5k course around the Manor field. And we are very keen for people to volunteer so that the events are well organised, safe, and to give encouragement. It has been heart warming to see local people from all ages forming friendships and also we have had stunning autumn mornings when people can really appreciate the beauty of the Bower

and the Manor Fields Park in the early morning sunshine. We have also had may visitors from as far away as Poole, Canterbury, Watford and the Forest of Dean in recent weeks and these parkrun tourists add to the local economy by using our shops and cafes. Currently, each week we get around 10 tourists. It is our intention to have a New Year Day event so that local people can give it a try at the start of the new

year and become more involved with exercise and enjoy the community spirit at the same time. To take part in the parkrun each Saturday would be a great New Year’s Resolution! The usual start time is 9am, but on New Year’s day the parkrun will start at 10.30am. Thanks for your great support, Geoff Howes

BUSY PRE-SCHOOLERS What a busy autumn term we had - Forest School and Mojo and lots of other lovely activities at pre-school. In October, we travelled by bus to Peterborough visiting the Cathedral where we saw a real spacecraft that had actually been into space, at the Tim Peake Spacecraft exhibition and then we saw the Museum of the Moon – when we got back to preschool we tried some real space food – dried apple – it was quite tasty. An Open Day in October saw some new families visit to take a look at Pre-school. During Stay and Play Week some of our mummies, daddies and grandparents came to play – we enjoy it when we can show them what we do at pre-school. Reverend Nigel also came along to tell us about Harvest Festival and we brought in some tins and packets of food which we donated to the residents of Palmers Court. In November we had a Coffee Morning to celebrate 100 years since the end of the First World War. Some of our nannies knitted poppies for a lovely display and we made poppies from the bottoms of plastic bottles, painted some poppy pictures,

decorated poppy cupcakes and made a trench cake. On the Sunday some of the children joined the Remembrance Parade and placed a cross at the war memorial. At the same time we raised £117 for the Royal British Legion. December was extra busy. Reverend Nigel visited us again; we were given a Christingle which is made from an orange and sweets with a special candle symbolising Jesus as the Light of the World. We had another stay and play week for mummies, daddies and grandparents to come to see what we get up to while we are at pre-school. Then we had our Christmas trip to Sacrewell Farm where we went on a trailer ride to see Santa at the farmhouse. While we were there we had a look at the animals and had a play in the play barn. Mummies, daddies, grandparents and friends came along to our Christmas Singalong when we sang the Christmas songs

we had been practising. We visited the residents of Palmers Court where we sang Christmas Carols and took some mince pies we had made. Finally, we all enjoyed it when Santa visited Pre-school during our Christmas Party. Trips and outings were funded from money we received from the Co-op Community Fund. We are now looking forward to a busy Spring Term with a trip to Hamerton Zoo, Mother’s Day afternoon tea, a visit to the library and a visit from the Exotic Pet Refuge planned. If you have children aged two, three or four and are looking for a Pre-school our next Open day is on Wednesday 30th January – everyone is welcome. The Fens | January 2019



Fenland Twinning Association is a voluntary organisation set up to provide twinning services for Fenland District Council which is twinned with Nettetal in Germany and the Sunshine Coast in Australia. We were established in the early 1980’s with an aim to foster friendship and understanding and stimulate and encourage twinning activities with our twinned partners As well as having individual/family membership we aim to support schools and groups (such as scouts, guides and sporting groups) to make links and undertake exchange visits with those carrying out similar activities in Nettetal. Our most frequent group exchange visits take place every two years with Nettetal. In July this year we hosted an enjoyable and successful visit from our German friends. The next return visit to Nettetal is planned for 2020. The twinning with the Sunshine Coast was established a little later and is now in its 21st year. Our charter with them was renewed in 2017 when the mayor of the Sunshine Coast and other visitors came to Fenland. Most visits from Fenland to the Sunshine Coast take place on an individual basis due to the distance involved. The link with the Sunshine Coast was established in remembrance of the heroics of Jim Hocking, a young Australian pilot who, during World War II, saved the lives of many March people by flying his severely damaged plane away from the town. He lost his life when his plane crashed shortly afterwards. There is an excellent exhibition about this young man’s sacrifice in the March Museum. Our Association is always seeking new members. Membership is open to individuals living in, and groups, schools and associations operating within, the Fenland District Council area. We are a friendly, sociable group with an interest in making new friendships within the association and with our twinned partners when we take part in the bi-annual twinning exchange with Nettetal. If possible we hope that members are able to host families or individuals from Nettetal when they visit Fenland and take part in our reciprocal visits to them. There is no need to speak German to take part as many of the German people involved in the twinning speak excellent English. We are holding our annual get together and annual general meeting on Wednesday 23rd January 2019 in the Council Chamber at Fenland Hall, County Road, March, PE15 8NQ. If you are interested in joining our association why not come along at 17.30 and share a cuppa and have a chat with us about our association and activities. You will be made welcome. For further information contact: Mike Cornwell, Secretary, Fenland Twinning Association: 01354 653757 or , or Bob Gosling, Chairman, Fenland Twinning Association: 01945 588342 or email


The Fens | January 2019

WHITTLESEY DO IT AGAIN! On Friday 30th November 106 local young people were screened for undiagnosed heart conditions at the Whittlesey Masonic Centre, thanks to local charity Defibrillators For All raised the money to allow this to take place with the help of local people. In the UK each week between 12 and 19 young people die from undiagnosed heart conditions. These are often what appears to be fit and healthy young people between the ages of 14 and 35. Simple tests such as an ECG and an Echo cardiogram can identify these conditions and refer patients to cardiologists for further treatment. At the previous screening a higher than average number of patients were referred to cardiologists, this resulted in the need for more screening days. The cost of hiring Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) to carry out the screenings is £5000 for a weekday and increases to £8000 for a Saturday or Sunday. Defibrillators For All have already booked a date for 2019 and fundraising will start in the new year. As usual Whittlesey community spirit was at its best, cakes were baked and tea and coffee provided for those waiting to have their test. The Masons kindly donated their premises to allow the event to take place. Dave Sowman who is a Mason along with his wife Jan provided refreshments and lunch for the team from Defibrillators For All and CRY Sir Harry Smith Community College ensured their eligible students were aware and were given time to attend the session. Thank you once again to all those in Whittlesey who support the work of Defibrillators For All.

A WORD FROM YOUR WHITTLESEY MAYOR Hello, I wish everyone a very happy, safe, healthy and prosperous 2019. The first major event of the town’s calendar is the very popular Straw Bear Festival which takes place this year between 18th-20th January. Thank you to all the organising committee of the Festival for their dedicated hard work throughout the year to put on this historic showpiece for the residents of the town and the many visitors that come to this world renown event. Looking ahead further into 2019 exciting and historic developments will happen. Work has begun on the Kings Dyke Bridge project after a final agreement was reached. This will be a very important and beneficial development for Whittlesey and the surrounding villages. Also during the next 12 months the new Whittlesey Town Council Offices formerly the Police Station in Queen Street will open. This new Town Council headquarters will be a major community asset for the town. I will keep you updated on these developments during the year. May I also remind you that if you have any problems or issues you wish to discuss with Councillors, there are the regular Councillor surgeries that take place on the first Saturday of the month between 9.30am-10.30am at Whittlesey Town Council Offices, Grosvenor House, Grosvenor Road, Whittlesey. Once again a very Happy New Year. Regards, Julie Windle, Mayor of Whittlesey

WHITTLESEY GREEN DOG WALKERS Whittlesey and the surrounding countryside is a beautiful place for residents and visitors to walk their dogs. The Whittlesey Green Dog Walkers scheme is an original scheme adopted by over 40 Councils across the country. Fenland District Council has purchased the licence from the originator council to enable any Town or Parish council within the district of Fenland to set up the scheme legally. Whittlesey has joined the scheme in partnership with Fenland District Council and the Whittlesey and District Neighbourhood Watch as it offers a proven, nonconfrontational and friendly way to change attitudes about dog fouling and encourages responsible dog ownership. The scheme was launched on Friday 12 October 2018 and acts as a reminder to others that they need to pick up after their dog has fouled and keep them under control. The facts if you own a dog are that it eats, it goes to the toilet and you clear it up. Failing to do so is antisocial, smelly and can spread diseases. To join the scheme – which is completely free - an application form and the pledge information are available from the Town Council Office in Grosvenor Road and some businesses in the town – posters are displayed. By joining the scheme you are able to show that you take your responsibilities of being a dog owner seriously and are not one of the minority of bad owners who fail to clean up after their animals. In return for signing our Pledge you will receive one of our Green Dog Walker dog tags to display on your dog’s lead or collar and a roll of doggie bags as a thank you. Whittlesey Green Dog Walkers are role models for responsible dog ownership.

PPG GIVE THANKS At the New Queen Street’s Patient Participation Group, held at the end of last year, committe members gave several thanks to Dr. Gary Howsam and Helena Papworth, who had both decided it was time for fresh new challenges. There was also a cheque presentation by local couple Sandra and Martin Green, who had raised £100 for the PPG (plus £100 for Sue Ryder and £100 for the Peterborough Emergency Food Aid) from bike sales held at their garage. The couple annually give money to local charities. The meeting also coincided with the group’s AGM, for which Mayor Julie Windle was present to witness as the full committe decided to stand again for another year. Bernard Gray-Esson, PPG Chairman, thanked the volunteers for giving their time to the group. Dr. Howsam also gave a special thank you to members of the PPG who are in his eyes, doing a brilliant job supporting the patients and surgery by being a visible link between the two. It was a bitter-sweet meeting but as always, a great pleasure to see such a wonderful group of people.

HELLO TO FREEDOM LEISURE Last month, Councillor Mark Buckton, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Young People Fenland District Council met with senior representatives from Freedom Leisure on the start of a new 15-year partnership which will see enhanced leisure facilities for residents. Fenland’s four leisure centres; Chatteris, George Campbell, Hudson and Manor will be managed by the not-for-profit leisure trust in partnership with, and on behalf of, Fenland District Council – giving them a bright future and supporting the people of Fenland to be more active and healthy. Matt Hunt, Freedom Leisure’s Operations Director and Dan Palframan, Freedom Leisure Area manager, were joined by local councillors, along with Freedom Leisure’s mascot, Jim Trainer and staff members proudly showing off their new uniform, at George Campbell Leisure Centre to formally mark day one. This partnership is committed to ensuring that Fenland’s leisure services provided for residents are protected and taken forward; with quality, affordability and accessibility at their core. Of the new contract, Matt Hunt, said: “We are delighted to have been selected by Fenland District Council as their leisure partner to ensure these essential community facilities remain where they belong. This is a long-term partnership with a huge amount of investment which we hope demonstrates our genuine commitment to the district and its public leisure services. “We are very much looking forward to getting stuck in and meeting all the staff and customers today, yet maintaining business as normal. We have a highly qualified mobilisation team here this week to support the site teams and ensure a smooth transition.” Councillor Mark Buckton said: “We are really looking forward to working with Freedom Leisure over the coming years, and seeing the many benefits it will bring to the whole of Fenland. Freedom Leisure has great experience of working with councils across England and Wales to make the most of local leisure services and has an excellent track record in boosting usage and offering great staff development. This new partnership will not only secure the future of our four leisure centres, it will also bring much needed investment in our facilities and secures concessions and services for vulnerable groups who already enjoy the facilities.” With £1.1m of investment due to be made, there are lots of exciting facility developments and improvements in the pipeline including extended and refurbished gym and studio spaces, state-of-the art fitness kit and improved catering offerings, plus the recruitment of an Active Communities Executive and the introduction of many new community-focussed outreach programmes, to support everyone in the district no matter of their age or ability. To find out more visit The Fens | January 2019


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YOUR GARDEN IN January The garden in January needs to be prepared for all sorts of weather and if you’ve been following our advice over the last few months your hard work is done for now. Most plants are dormant this month as they sleep through the cold weather, but there are still a few things to do in the garden. Spring is just around the corner and work can be done to prepare for the warmth of the new season. When its not too cold beds and borders can be dug over and lawn edges can be repaired and re-shaped. Don’t forget to keep feeding the birds, as food is scarce for them over the winter.

Looking good this month... Helleborus

3 ESSENTIAL JOBS FOR JANUARY PROTECT PLANTS January is known for cold frosts and bitter winds so plants will need protecting. If you haven’t already done so, ensure protective fleece is in place on tender plants over-wintering outdoors. Lift containers up onto pot feet – if water isn’t draining away the soil can become waterlogged. Wet compost can rot roots and cause pots to crack in frost. Remove snow from tree and shrub branches by knocking with a broom. Even a small amount of snow can add a lot of weight to branches, causing them to snap. DIG OVER BARE GROUND Run a fork through your vegetable

patch or flowerbeds. This will help to aerate – getting air into the soil is important because plant roots need oxygen. Choose a dry day when the soil isn’t too wet. Don’t break your back breaking down large lumps of soil. Keeping them large can help air circulate and any later frosts will break them up. FEED THE BIRDS Natural food sources for birds are in short supply during the winter. Give them a helping hand by putting food out for them. Keep food topped up but not full all the time – little and often is best. Enjoy your garden!

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WHY SHOULD YOU PLANT THEM? Popular because they flower in cold winter and early spring, Hellebores herald the start of the New Year bringing a touch of colour to the garden. Commonly known as ‘Christmas Roses’ they are easy to grow and very hardy. They produce attractive flowers and their leaves create a perfect evergreen backdrop to spring flowering bulbs. HOW SHOULD YOU PLANT THEM? Plant in shady herbaceous borders and the areas between deciduous shrubs to give an early splash of colour. Happy in dappled shade they should be planted in rich, heavy soil that won’t dry out in the summer. Ideal planting companions include Snowdrops, Primrose, Cornus and Mahonia.

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The Fens | January 2019


12 The Fens | January 2019

Catching up with ELLIE SANDALL Ellie Sandall is a children’s author and illustrator living and working in the Fenland countryside. Having published six picture books already, her new book Everybunny Dream is out later this month. We visited Ellie and her two furry companions, William the Basset Hound and Lola the rescue dog, to find out more...

WORDS AMY CORNEY IMAGES CHRIS BRUDENELL Ellie’s Background Having possessed an artistic streak from a young age, Ellie studied art at school before going on to study an art Foundation course at Isle College in Wisbech. Continuing this path, Ellie completed a Graphic Design degree at Bath University. It was during this course that she discovered her passion for illustration. Having graduated from university, Ellie then undertook a Master’s Degree in Illustration at Cambridge School of Art. It was here that the dream of becoming a published children’s author and illustrator became a reality. How did you go from idea to published picture book? After my Master’s degree exhibition I met some publishers about possible ideas from my portfolio and they were really interested in one of my much smaller drawings. It then took a whole year after meeting them the first time to get a book deal, so it was a really long process, but that seems to be pretty normal in the industry. I was lucky to get a two-book deal with that publisher, but I actually spent the first seven years of my career illustrating whilst working part-time in a local school as their artist in residence teaching art. What inspired your first children’s book ‘Birdsong’? The idea for my first book came from when I was living in Bath at university. There was an aviary in the local park and I would listen to the birds singing to each other; it’s this bird chatter that ‘Birdsong’ is based upon. It’s about different bird noises accumulating, rhyming and gradually

building up and up to a crescendo. The publishers liked this and wanted to develop that idea with me, so that was my first paid illustration and writing job and the book was published in 2010. It actually got filmed for CBeebies as one of their bedtime stories and was read by Big Bird, which was so exciting! ‘Birdsong’ also won a UK Literacy Association Children’s Book Award, was nominated for a Kate Greenaway Medal in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Booktrust Early Years Award, the Cambridgeshire Children’s Picture Book Award, the Heart of Hawick Children’s Book Award and the Junior Magazine Design Awards.

Can you tell us about your involvement with Booktrust and Vivacity? Everybunny Dance was used by Booktrust last year for their Bookstart campaign, which meant that a special mini edition was sent out to 450,000 children across England and Wales, which was wonderful! There’s an online interactive version of the book read by Lauren Laverne. The bunnies are also featured on Vivacity’s Book Bus, which I was commissioned to design earlier this year. The bus is based at Central Library in Peterborough and visits local schools, children’s centres and festivals to encourage a love of reading. The Fens | January 2019


Your new book ‘Everybunny Dream’ is out this month, what can you tell us about it? ‘Everybunny Dream’ is out on January 10th and is the latest in the ‘Everybunny’ series. It focuses on my popular bunny characters and their bedtimes. I have been working on this bunny series for the last three years, so I have spent a long time just drawing bunnies and foxes, so it is really nice to start working on a new project! Can you reveal what your next children’s book will be about? I am just starting to focus on writing and designing my new characters, so it’s only in its initial stages, but I can reveal the characters in the story will be dogs. My own dogs Lola and William may even make an appearance! When you write a book which comes first, the words or the pictures? I start my drawing with a rough comic strip which includes the pictures and words, so I actually write and illustrate at the same time. This then evolves into a mini picture book, before I draw up the final images and text for the book. Alongside writing and illustrating you also run Art Stars, can you tell us more? Art Stars is my other business. It’s art classes for children and young adults which I run from my studio here in Deeping St James. I have about 60 weekly students and there are up to 10 pupils in each class. My youngest student is four and my oldest student is 16, so it’s a wide 14 The Fens | January 2019

range of ages and abilities. We do lots of different projects, looking at artists and colour theory, and trying out different media such as collages, sculpture, print making and painting. Mainly, however, it’s about them experimenting and enjoying art! As well as after school art classes, I also run Arts Award courses and holiday workshops. I am hoping to expand this business by joining forces with a friend who runs a company called Paisley Art, offering art classes for adults- it’s a very exciting time! What is your daily routine - how much of your day do you spend writing and illustrating? I am normally in my studio working on my illustrations and books between 10am and 2pm. Then I have a long

lunch and start my art classes which are from 3.30-8pm. I’m currently working 50/50 with my teaching and illustrating and this is working really because I enjoy both aspects. What plans do you have for 2019? As well as working on my latest book, I have another couple of ideas in the pipeline that are at their very early stages. I am

also hoping to do more school visits, local festivals and library workshops this year. Has growing up and living in the Fens influenced your work? My books are generally all set in the countryside as I like drawing trees, bushes and natural forms more so than buildings and cities. In the Fens you are used to being able to see for miles with its big skies. I think this is reflected in my illustrations, as I like to have clear space and simple backgrounds which allows my characters to stand out. What advice would you give aspiring illustrators? The best advice I was given, and which I need to follow more, is to draw every day. Keep a sketchbook with you and even if you just doodle in it, keep doing so. Even if you draw something that you never use, it’s all part of the process to keep your work fresh – actually this may be my new year’s resolution! What can we find you doing on the weekends? I live right by the river, so I have a canoe and a kayak and William sometimes comes canoeing with me; he even has his own buoyancy aid! I do that more so in the sunny weather, so I tend to do lots of dog walking and biking in the countryside in the winter as I love being outdoors.

With thanks to Ellie Sandall (plus William and Lola) for allowing us to fall in love with the wonderful world of bunnies, dogs and all things creative. Everybunny Dream is out on January 10 and is available to pre-order from all good bookshops and online. You can find out more about Ellie’s work by visiting or her art classes, Art Stars, by visiting The Fens | January 2019


Eastern Angles Theatre Company presents

THE FENLAND SCREAMERS & OTHER BOGGY TALES You’re invited to a party… Eastern Angles return to Peterborough’s Key Theatre Studio with a madcap spoof on the well-known panto genre. The Fenland Screamers & Other Boggy Tales, from the makers of Stoat Hall and The Mystery of St. Finnigan’s Elbow, is a New Year’s Eve party with a difference... It is the 30th December, 1930. Young amateur sleuth siblings Sloppy & Sixpence arrive at a remote house in the middle of Clinker Fen, invited by a distant relative to celebrate the New Year. Tempted by the idea of a grand weekend party, they find the place deserted apart from the creepy butler, Tangent. He is expecting them and despite their misgivings, they decide to stay. Other guests arrive, all strangers to one another, and as the fog descends, cutting them off from the outside world, they pass the time by telling stories. It becomes apparent that they all have a guilty secret, and are unnerved when Tangent tells them the local legend of the Fenland Screamers, avenging spirits who emerge from the bogs to drag the guilty back down into the mire. When one of the guests mysteriously disappears, they all begin to fear for their lives. Can Sloppy & Sixpence solve the mystery before the Screamers come again and take them all, one by one? The cast of five includes Joe Leat 16 The The Fens Fens | | January January 2019 2019 16

(The Mystery of St Finnigan’s Elbow, Everything Must Go!) and Geri Allen (Stoat Hall). Joining them will be Eloise Kay and Anthony Pinnick who recently starred in The Mariner with Common Ground Theatre Company. James Macnaughton also joins the cast after recently performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Romeo & Juliet and BBC’s The Hollow Crown. From the sublime to the ridiculous you can expect a quirky quick paced farce punctuated with original catchy songs. Suitable for kids both sides of 40! This eccentric festive musical comedy tours to Peterborough’s Key Theatre Studio from 22nd 26th January 2019.

Eastern Angles is the regional touring theatre company for East Anglia. It has a national reputation for producing high-quality, new writing with a regional flavour. Based at the Sir John Mills Theatre in Ipswich, the company has been touring professional theatre productions into the towns and villages of East Anglia since 1982. Eastern Angles have also staged productions at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and at London’s Bush Theatre.

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CHICKEN SATE WITH PEANUT AND COCONUT SAUCE PREPARATION TIME LESS THAN 15MINS (PLUS MARINATING TIME) COOKING TIME - 10MINS FOR THE MARINADE • 4 tsp coriander seeds • 1 tsp cumin seeds • 2 tsp minced galangal • 2 stems of lemongrass thinly sliced • 4 tsp caster sugar • 1 tsp fish sauce • ½ tsp white pepper • ¼ tsp turmeric • 125ml coconut cream • 60ml water • 1 chicken breast per person • Skewers • Lime wedges and coriander leaf to finish FOR THE SAUCE • 1 tsp sesame oil • 2 shallots finely diced • 2 cloves of garlic crushed • 1 inch of ginger grated • 1 can coconut milk • 4 tbls peanut butter • 4 lime leaves shredded finely • Sugar and fish sauce to taste 18 The Fens | January 2019

1. Mix all of the marinade ingredients into a paste. Chop the chicken into 1inch chunks and toss into the marinade, cover and leave for at least an hour but preferably overnight. 2. To make the sauce, fry the shallots in the sesame oil for a couple of minutes to cook through, then add the ginger and garlic for just a minute. Add all the other ingredients and cook gently for about 10 minutes. 3. To cook the chicken place the pieces onto a skewer and fry in a little oil until slightly charred. You may need to finish in the oven or, alternatively, cook first then skewer.


4. Serve with the sauce warmed through with some chopped fresh coriander and a lime wedge.

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Working from Home It’s a recognised trend that as we approach and enter a new year many people think of starting up their own new venture. Figures show that, at least in the early days, it’s likely to be home-based. They also suggest that over 60% of businesses start in this way, that there are nearly 3m in the UK operating from home and that this region’s economy is underpinned by many. As Jason Jones writes, if you are thinking along these lines then a number of issues need to be addressed from market research to planning permission and onto health and safety. Planning permission is not normally required if the business is quietly accommodated in your home. However, it may be required where your business venture increases traffic or disturbs neighbours. If in any doubt, talk to the local authority. At the same time raise the issue of business rates. These should not apply if you operate alone from a home office but they may be levied if you employ others to work at your home or if you convert your home for business purposes. If you do need to pay business rates, be sure to check if you are eligible for the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme. If you rent your accommodation you will need to get your landlord’s permission to start a business, but current regulations mean that landlords cannot deny permission without ‘reasonable’ grounds. However, if you have a mortgage your provider should be aware of how your home is being used. Your will also need to amend your existing insurance policy to include business cover. At the same time think about whether Public Liability and/or Professional Indemnity Insurance are needed. Health and safety is a concern for all small businesses and although those with fewer than five employees do not need a written health and safety policy, you’re responsible for your own welfare as well as that of employees and customers entering your home.

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We are running a series of ‘Start-Up’ seminars over the next few months. For dates and details have a look at our website: Bury St. Edmunds | Ely | King’s Lynn | March | Mildenhall | Peterborough | Ramsey | St.The IvesFens | St. Neots | 2019 Wisbech | January 21



This month, Fenland locals and visitors from around the world will flock to Whittlesey for the Straw Bear Festival. Here’s our mini guide to the history of the festival, what’s on this year, and what it means to different people.

WORDS RICHARD GROOM The history of the Straw Bear is something of a mystery. But we do know that as long ago as 1882 there was a tradition of taking someone dressed as a Straw Bear around the town. The idea was to entertain townspeople in return for a few pennies and food for ploughmen, who tended to be a bit skint in winter. Unfortunately, it’s believed that the tradition died out around 1909, thanks in part to a policeman who saw the innocent fun as ‘cadging’ and banned the bear. It happened every year on the Tuesday following Plough Monday. 22 The Fens | January 2019

You know, the Plough Monday that’s the first Monday after Twelfth Night, which is the twelfth night after Christmas, which is the fifth of January. Got it? Thankfully, nowadays we have the internet and free local magazines, so it’s easy to find out the exact date for each year’s festival. Even better, when Whittlesey folk decided to revive the tradition in 1980, they opted for a Saturday, which is good as most people are off work. To keep things a little bit odd, and thankfully so, the festival organisers spell the town the old way,

‘Whittlesea’, whereas Wikipedia, the BBC, Google Maps and the Ordnance Survey spell it ‘Whittlesey’. Don’t you just love living in the Fens? THE JEWEL OF THE FENS Anyway, regardless of weird names for days in January and multiple spellings of the town, Straw Bear is quite simply a wonderful, crazy, bewildering event. The streets are full with more than 250 of the country’s best folk dancers, musicians and performers, and some from further afield. It really is a great chance to soak up

STRAW BRRRR The downside of holding a mostly open-air festival in January is that it’s usually cold. Very cold. My sisterin-law even claims that a glass of wine once froze on her. I struggle to believe that wine was in her glass long enough to freeze, but I take her word for it. So here are some tips for keeping warm while you’re out celebrating Straw Bear:

traditions dating back centuries, all in one town, and that town happens to be on your doorstep. There’s a park and ride, too, and even extra carriages on the trains coming into Whittlesea station (yes, Network Rail uses the old spelling) so you don’t have to worry about parking. This year there will be an extra level of loveliness. To help celebrate the Festival’s 40th year since its revival, pupils from the town’s primary schools will join in the morning procession, each carrying miniature Straw Bears. Following the festival, the little bears will be put on display at the schools. New memories for a new generation.

1. Start at your toes. Two pairs of socks are a minimum. I sometimes go for three, just to be on the safe side. Follow them with chunky boots and you’re good to go. 2. Reach for your PJs. Pyjamas under your jeans is a must or, better still, thermal long Johns. Not sexy, but they get the job done. there early, enjoy the lovely family-friendly stuff for a couple of hours and leave town before things get a bit rowdy. To be clear, Straw Bear Festival’s Saturday festivities start with the parade through the town from 10.30 and finish with a Grand Finale on the Market Place at 3pm. What happens after that in the streets and pubs may be great fun, but it isn’t part of the official festival. As for me, I’ll be in town from about 9.30am, tucking into my full English. How long I stay depends on the weather and my stamina. But whichever Straw Bear experience I choose, it’s going to be another brilliant one. I hope you have one, too. FOLLOW THE BEAR: WHAT’S ON THIS YEAR

CHOOSE YOUR BEAR The thing about Straw Bear is that it’s not one thing. It can be whatever you make of it. It’s one of the best family days out you can imagine. But if you are up for a pub crawl with your mates then you’ll have a brilliant one. Sometimes you’ll hear people say they avoid Straw Bear because of the drinking. There’s a simple answer: get

This year’s main events start with a concert at the Ivy Leaf Club on Friday 18 January featuring folk music and storytelling talent (tickets £10). The main festival itself is on Saturday 19 January, followed by the traditional Saturday Night Barn Dance at Sir Harry Smith Community College (tickets £12.00). The burning of the Bear, with more music and dancing, brings thing to an end on Sunday 20 January, also at the college. All the info and ticket sales are at or call 01733 208245

3. Layer up on top, too. My routine is t-shirt, long sleeved shirt, fleece, jumper, hoodie and jacket. Layers trap warm air, which acts as an insulator. You end up looking like the Michelin Man, but there’s a bloke walking round dressed up as a Straw Bear so why worry? 4. Hat and gloves. You’d be mad to leave home without them. Nip to the Factory Shop if you forget and hope they haven’t sold out. 5. Kick things off with a fry-up. Whittlesey has some brilliant cafes serving up breakfast on Straw Bear Saturday. Grease keeps Channel swimmers warm, so it’s good for Straw Bear too. With thanks to James Green (jamesgreenart. for providing the Straw Bear painting and Chris Brudenell for the photos from last year’s festival The Fens | January 2019


JANUARY GOALS! H3 January- the month of dreams! Of course, most of the good intentions start on the second at a push as New Year’s Day is an extra holiday...possibly a little after that as there are too many chocolates, crisps and treats left in the cupboard or you can’t focus just yet... However, January begins (ish) positively with ideas of diet change or life goals. My intentions will carry on being three fold: 1. To be as happy as possible 2. To be as healthy as possible 3. To create positive habits. Following a simple and effective programme using tried and tested methods to improve your wellbeing is what the H3 plan offers. It helps you build a daily routine to change your mind-set and boost your health. I will not be going it alone and you don’t have to either! There is a whole community of people sharing ideas and experiences available on-line. If you would like to take responsibility for your own happiness by building positive habits H3 is for you! As well as creating habits to boost mood and wellbeing I will also be taking ideas from a fantastic and nonjudgmental Facebook group I have been following recently. Sustainable Living East Anglia has a fantastic

Local author and mother of two EVA JORDAN shares her musings This month, with the imminent release of my upcoming third novel, Time Will Tell, I thought I’d give you an insight into some “tools” I consider useful during the writing process.

admin team who have created a group designed to help give people ideas about living in a way that is better for the planet, in a way that reduces all sorts of waste and is indeed sustainable- the content is checked as much as possible. We all know something about the harmful results of the over-use of plastics and harmful chemicals polluting our environment. In this group, ideas on how to reduce waste- such as the use of paper bin liners, or turning plastics that can’t be recycled into eco-bricks as well as eco-friendly food storage ideas are being shared. The group very much has the ethos that small changes by everyone can create an impact. I saw an advert recently that said. ‘It’s only one straw…said several million people’ ….this really hit home. So, my wellbeing will be affected positively by making some changes that will impact our environment!


Katy Huett, Ariix Representative Email: Tel: 07847 517343 Facebook page: Healthy and Happy with Katy 24 The Fens | January 2019

My Writing Toolkit

1. Foremost—coffee! Research suggests an estimated 70 million cups of coffee are drank in the UK every single day—wow! I can’t get anything done until I’ve had my first cup of the day, and although advice about the health benefits of coffee is conflicting, the caffeine it contains is believed to stimulate our nervous system, making us more alert and focussed. However, too much can make us anxious and shaky—so it’s all about moderation, folks. 2. A laptop or a computer. Goes without saying I suppose although there are authors who don’t use modern technology to pen their novels. Joyce Carol Oates says she prefers to write everything by longhand, and although Neil Gaiman writes his screenplays on a computer, he prefers to write his novels by hand. I prefer a computer. I trained as a typist when I left school, so I still use my typing skills to tap away at the keyboard. However, I use notepads to jot things down, so that brings me to my third item. 3. Notepads. I have lots; cheap ones, expensive ones, pretty ones. Some I’ve bought myself, others given as gifts, but I always have one by my desk, plus a small one in my bag for when I’m out and about. I even have one by the bed. Inspiration can come at the oddest moments, so it’s good to be prepared. I’ve yet to find a waterproof one for the shower though! 4. Peace and quiet. I know a few writers who love to pen their latest creation in cafes, or at home in the kitchen among the hullabaloo of everyday life. I prefer peace and quiet, although I don’t mind the familiar background noise of family life, as long as it’s behind a closed door. Occasionally, I write to music, too, especially if a particular song or composition has inspired a scene or chapter in my head. 5. And last but not least—chocolate. My guilty pleasure. Aww… c’mon, writing is hard work, uses a lot of energy, and besides, it’s official, chocolate is good for you! I’ve done the research and experts suggest chocolate is beneficial for the heart, circulation and brain. Just not a lorry load of the stuff. Like the coffee, it’s all about moderation! You can find out more about Eva by visiting www.EvaJordanWriter. com or find her on Twitter and Facebook: @evajordanwriter EvaJordanWriter/

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TOP TIPS FOR ACHIEVING YOUR 2019 GOALS A new year often brings with it thoughts of a fresh start, this is especially true in the health business where after the indulgence of Christmas new health goals are particularly popular. However many New Year’s resolutions don’t make it to February. So if you’ve already started your goals or are planning on starting something soon, here are just two ideas that may help you achieve them in 2019. Be realistic with your goals in the short term. Drastic changes in diet can occasionally bring about a sudden improvement but if this isn’t a healthy and maintainable method of losing weight – the impact of the change can very quickly plateau leading to a sharp return to old habits. Dropping lots of weight immediately in the first few weeks of the year may sound great, but even if you did manage to achieve this, you would then be highly likely to regain this weight and more within a very short space of time. The most efficient way of losing weight is with steady and consistent progress through a routine of diet and exercise that you can do permanently. If

you find yourself with goals that are too demanding in the short term, give yourself a more realistic time frame and never be afraid to adjust your goals once you’ve set them. It is always better to have something to aim for than heading off without a plan. Keep an accurate track of your results. So much emphasis is put on what the scales say, but I find this way of measuring a person’s progress to be completely flawed and highly disheartening. What are we actually trying to measure? FAT! So why do we weigh the bones, the hair, the skin, the muscles and the fluids all together and make determining decisions on health based on the outcome? For men the best indicator of how you’re doing is to measure around the stomach, for women it’s around the thighs and buttocks, but of course you can do both and various other areas for even greater accuracy. Identify the area of greatest circumference (where most of the fat is being stored) and measure the same area at the same time of day once every two weeks. This will give a far more accurate view of your progress and how the changes in your diet are impacting your health. Good luck and happy new year!

For more information and further assistance with diet and nutrition, contact Rob via 26 The Fens | January 2019

In this article we are providing you with an easy to understand description of the most complex computer in the world, your nervous system. Extracts have been taken from Susan Greenfield’s book, Mind Change, ISBN 978846044304. Her description of the nervous system captures the simplicity yet complexity wrapped in an easy to understand analogy. The two extract below capture a) how the nervous system is organised and b) how the nervous communicate with one another. So please read on, you will not be disappointed... To get an idea of how the brain is put together, think of a busy city like Peterborough (Susan used New York, but Peterborough is closer!); the anatomically distinct brain regions would correspond to boroughs, within which would be districts then neighbourhoods – in brain terms, smaller and smaller groups of cells. By the time we arrive at a block, street or line of houses, we are at the basic unit of neuronal communication; the individual gap (the synapse) between any one brain cell and another. And the house on the street? That would be the neuron itself, the rooms within it are the organelles, literally the little organs that keep a brain cell alive. (2014, pg 50) Rooms and houses change over time, representing the tastes and activities of the residences (i.e. the environment). Your organelles and therefore the neurons are no different and change in accordance to their environment. Their environment is governed by your actions, choices and the external environment you live in. Consequentially, your brain regions are continually

changing in response to your actions, choices and environment. This changing terrain is called plasticity and governs your ability to learn and adapt. There is a physical space between one neuron and another which Susan defined as the street or spaces between houses. These spaces are where neurons talk to each other, just like we do. Susan please continue... Neurons are the basic unit of the brain, just as a person is the basic unit of an organisation or society. Like a person, a neuron is generic, and yet at the same time an individual entity. A person changes gradually over time, and a neuron will also adapt, show plasticity. A neuron gradually makes connections via a small gap (a synapse) using an intermediary, a chemical messenger (a transmitter); actually direct physical contact is possible but features less. Similarly, a person gradually builds relations with others by indirect contact via a language; touching is rarer. With both chemical messengers and languages there’s enormous diversity but an adherence to the same common principle: communication between two independent entities without any direct physical connection. Both languages and transmitters come in a wide range of varieties, but they can be categorised into families, defined by geographical provenance (for language) or chemical structures (for a transmitter) respectively. The actual mode of communication in both cases has parallels in that all languages and transmitters can use simple signals through to complex and sophisticated ones. (2014, pg 51) We hope this has provided a useful insights into how you work. Take care.

Mayur and Ubhi can be found at Whittlesey Osteopaths, 14 Market Place, Whittlesey,PE7 1AB. 01733 785214 or visit

ECIGZOO GOES FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CIGARETTE SMOKING EcigZoo started as an online business in 2012 and now has two stores in Wisbech and Peterborough. The founder of the company had started smoking at the age of eleven and eventually became a very heavy smoker, smoking between 20-40 cigarettes a day and later 25g of rolling tobacco per day. For over thirty years he tried numerous times to stop smoking and there were several periods of success, between six months and two years of abstinence, but life events always brought him back to smoking. Having tried Champix, Zyban, patches, sprays, counselling services, hypnosis and self-help books for over 20 years, nothing could stop his need for smoking for too long. Whilst the emergance of electronic cigarettes in 2007 helped some quit smoking, the ‘cigalike’ types were often too weak. Since the more powerful devices came out in 2011, EcigZoo’s founder was able to finally switch from smoking to vaping. Since switching he has never looked back,

finally free of the combustion of tobacco with its deadly smoke and carcinogenic compounds. All EcigZoo staff were originally smokers before switching to vaping. So what’s so great about vaping? “We are passionate about vaping with over 30 years’ experience between us,” Anthony explained. “Although devices have become very powerful recently, they are geared for flavour and low nicotine, for experienced vapers. Smokers tend to start with the smaller devices. A major part of our day is talking to smokers who have never tried vaping before and wish to make the switch. We can offer real advice having experienced it first hand ourselves.” “Although we love the advanced kits, what gives us the most satisfaction is when a smoker discovers they no longer need to smoke, they switch

to vaping which is less addictive and they are free. No more New Years’ resolutions required.” An estimated 200 million smokers will die in Europe this century from smoking related diseases. EcigZoo’s goal is to see the day that smoking a combustible cigarette is as rare as someone taking snuff, and millions of lives have been saved. Pop along to one of EcigZoo’s shops to find out more. They provide a friendly helpful and knowledgeable service.

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Tel: 01733 209 421 9am - 6pm Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat 9am - 7pm Thu 10.30am - 4.30pm Sun & Bank Holidays The Fens | January 2019



Get Your Happy On There are two key things we can change to lift our mood, our physicality and our thoughts. Happily we can control both. If you are feeling low, the chances are you will be slumped over, your self-talk and images will be negative. Once we become aware of these things, we can change them. Start with your physicality; change your posture, facial expression, breathing and muscle tension. A great way to do this is to literally shake it off, change your position, if you are sitting stand up and move around shaking your limbs as you do, if you are pacing and stressed sit and use your breathing to slow things down. Now notice your thoughts, what are you saying to yourself? What images are you running? Make your inner voice sound silly, like Mickey Mouse and change those images to places, people and situations that make you feel happy and safe. “I’m not good enough” or “I’ll never be able to do that” are hard to take seriously when being said by Mickey or Donald. We all have our own inbuilt pharmacy and can give ourselves a boost of our happy hormones whenever we choose; the simple upward movement of a smile releases serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. Go for a walk, get out in the sunlight and get hugging; renowned family therapist Virginia Satir says that we need 4 hugs a day to survive and 12 to thrive. Join me on Facebook Live on Saturday, 12th January at 1PM to get your happy on.

Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister; Published by Penguin Cleverly written, Anything You Do Say is the first Gillian McAllister book I’ve read, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Described as a Sliding Doors psychological thriller, the story starts with Joanna, the main protagonist, committing a criminal offence, albeit accidentally, at which point the story splits into two; one called Reveal, the other, Conceal. Set during the present day, both stories, told in the first person, centre on Joanna Oliva, a young woman living in London with her husband, Reuben. The story begins with Joanna on a night out with best friend Laura. They are in a bar and leave when a man, who has been harassing Joanna, unsettles them. Once outside, and away from the bar, Joanna and Laura call it a night, say their respective goodbyes and head home in different directions. Joanna hears someone walking behind her. Too afraid to look she is convinced she is being followed. She spots a flash of red at the top of a set of stairs on a towpath which confirms her suspicions. Her pursuer is wearing the same red trainers worn by the man who earlier, in the bar, had been harassing her. In her panic, Joanna spins round and pushes “his body, firmly, squarely, the hardest I’ve ever pushed anything in my life” down the concrete stairs, and this is where the story splits. We then follow Joanna’s journey where in one story she reveals what has happened, and in the other she conceals what she has done. As expected, both choices have huge ramifications, which impact on both her life and that of friends and loved ones. Joanna is one of life’s procrastinators, who, unlike her husband Reuben, prefers to avoid her problems—“He’s (Reuben) never done denial. Not like I have… He confronts issues head on… Calmly, not hysterically, not the way I eventually tackle things I’ve been avoiding for years.” However, due to her actions, Joanne is forced to face up to herself and what she has done—in both stories. Our verdict…

Susie Munns can be found at Safe Haven Therapy & Coaching, 5 Market Place, Whittlesey, PE7 1AB. Mobile: 07915 073 013 SafeHavenTherapy 28 The Fens | January 2019

Gripping, pacey, and well written, Anything You Do Say glides easily between the two parallel timeframes with no awkward repetition. I was totally invested in the characters and particularly enjoyed the exploration of the ‘what ifs ’ in each story, as well as the diverse responses and differing attitudes to Joanna’s behaviour by those closest to her. Well worth a read. By Eva Jordan

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NEW YEAR fashion

This month Personal Stylist and Confidence Guru, Sara Fontanella, looks at trends for the new year 2018 was great, we witnessed some fabulous and timeless trends, but now is the perfect time for a fresh new start. It’s time to turn those winter blues into a positive and creative mindset and step in to the new year like a boss. It’s not impossible, even the word ‘impossible’ has the word ‘possible’ in it. Adjust your mindset and you could start to change your life, become more confident, brave and fearless. We’re going to kick start the new year with style tips on layering; a style perfect for this time of year. Inspired by Chanel, who created a discrete layered look with a dress and a hoodie under a puffa jacket and Balenciaga, who saw one piece of clothing to give the look of 9 layers, here’s my top picks of what’s out on the high street. It’s easy to recreate the trend, just be bold and don’t be afraid to mix and match different items of clothing. NEW LOOK BURGUNDY SUEDE THIGH BOOT £29.99





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Book a styling session with me, Style by Sara. Whether it’s an instant fix or a wardrobe makeover, I can help you on your way to a better version of yourself! Sara Fontanella – 07913 036896 | | FB – Style by Sara | IG – Sara.Fontanella The Fens | January 2019


WHITTLESEA MERE The lost lake shaping the local landscape One of the lost treasures of the historic county of Huntingdonshire is being brought back to life with the launch of a new book, featuring updated research by local author PAUL MIDDLETON

32 The Fens | January 2019

Inspired by his love of the Fens, doctor of archaeology Paul has delved into the story of Whittlesea Mere, the largest body of inland water in lowland England before it was drained in the 1850s. Paul said, “Having settled in the Fens at the start of a career teaching archaeology and local history, I fell in love with the area’s farming landscapes and wide skies and was fascinated by the stories about Whittlesea Mere, a great lake which, though no longer there, was still talked about and loomed large in the popular imagination.” The draining of the Mere, which bordered the edge of the Fens near Stilton on the A1 and Yaxley, brought to an end a long, rich and thriving history of fishing, reed-cutting and boating, the management and control of which excited the interest of kings, was fought over by medieval abbots and monks, by 17th century drainers and local communities and rival landowners. Once drained, the Mere continued to influence farming practice, hindered the smooth running of the main railway line to the north and bequeathed to the nation in its

surroundings what have now become two important nature reserves at Holme Fen and Woodwalton Fen. Now, in the 21st century, recognition of the area’s unique ecological and educational potential has seen the creation of a major environmental restoration project, the Great Fen Project.

much pleasure both to local residents, justifiably proud of their heritage, and also to any who visit the area with a desire to know more about its history and, in particular, Whittlesea Mere – one of the wonders of Huntingdonshire!”

An earlier study of this rich landscape was published in 1987, but has been out of print for many years. Much new research has been carried out since. Paul, a former lecturer at Peterborough Regional College, said “Two years ago, in discussion with friends at the Fenland Trust, we agreed that the story was important enough to re-tell for a generation which now has the opportunity to experience the environmental, social and educational benefits of one of the country’s most significant rewilding undertakings – the Great Fen Project.” “During my research for the new book, I have been privileged to have access to documents, maps, archives and stories passed down by many generations of people who have called the Fens their home.” “I hope this publication will bring

England’s Lost Lake is priced at £8.50 and is available through local outlets and on Amazon and Waterstone’s websites. The Fens | January 2019


PET CORNER| We all want our pets to be healthy and happy and to enjoy a good quality of life. By having regular health check ups you will be doing everything you can to ensure this, even if you feel your pet is well, helping to reduce the chances of disease or illness. Sometimes something small may be picked up before it becomes a bigger problem making it easier to treat successfully. Most pets will have a yearly physical examination when they have their vaccinations, but we also recommend at least another check up during the year. Examination of their eyes, ears, mouth, teeth, skin and coat etc. can tell us a lot about your pet’s health. Advice can also be given on how you can prevent future problems occurring, e.g. looking after their teeth, keeping them at a healthy bodyweight, providing them with the correct amount of exercise, treating them for parasites and keeping their claws in good health. Whittlesey Veterinary Centre now offer a Pet Health Plan, allowing you to provide your pet with the preventative care they require at a reduced cost, plus an added bonus of being able to

This issue, Whittlesey Veterinary Centre looks at the importance of preventative care

spread the cost. By joining our new Pet Health Plan your pet will benefit from preventative treatments and services at discounted prices that are payable via a monthly direct debit, spreading the costs over the year for you. WHAT TREATMENTS AND SERVICES ARE INCLUDED IN THE PET HEALTH PLAN? Dogs and Cats: • Annual vaccinations, including Kennel Cough for dogs and Feline Leukaemia for cats. • Flea and worm treatments. • Microchipping or a £10 discount on any diet if already microchipped. • Claw clipping. • Biannual Veterinary Nurse health examination. • 10% off dentistry or neutering. • 5% off Vetsure Pet Insurance. Rabbits: • Annual vaccinations,

including Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease. • Fly strike preventative product provided once annually. • Microchipping or £10 discount on any diet if already microchipped. • Claw clipping. • Biannual Veterinary Nurse health examination. • 10% off dentistry or neutering. For more information or to sign up contact us at the surgery via Telephone: 01733 685514 or Email:

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34 The Fens | January 2019

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BIG GARDEN (AND BEYOND!) Happy New Year! I hope you all had peaceful and enjoyable festive seasons. When it comes to January each year, I find myself writing at least one article about the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch! Just in case you haven’t heard of it, it is a bird survey that takes place over the last weekend of the month. This year, it will take place from Saturday 26 January until Monday 28 January. This year is particularly special, as it is the fortieth anniversary of the survey, which started in 1979. The idea of the survey is very simple: To spend any given hour during this weekend watching the birds in your garden to count the highest number of each species that you see at any given time. This provides a very important insight into how many birds are using your garden or local green space. Although it can be rather weather dependent, it certainly gives a snapshot. As I have mentioned above, you can either do the survey in your garden or local green space. As I have not been lucky enough to have a garden for the last nine years, I have tended to do the Big Garden Birdwatch where I am usually based At RSPB Lakenheath Fen on the Suffolk/ Norfolk border. However, I have just moved house and now, I have a

garden! Although I haven’t got any bird feeders out there yet, I will have to make sure that I have them before Monday 28 January, which, due to work commitments, will have to be the day that I do the survey. Even if I don’t see much, I am still looking forward to it regardless of what I see. If you don’t have a garden or you fancy doing the Big Garden Birdwatch somewhere slightly different this year, you could try the visitor centre at RSPB Ouse Washes, which is near Chatteris. The visitor centre, which now has hot drink making facilities, overlooks some feeders from both the front and back windows. You can therefore spend an hour in the warmth with a cuppa taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch. What more could you want?! If you do decide to do the survey at RSPB Ouse Washes, as well as finding the “usual suspects” such as

blue tits, great tits and robins, you are also likely to find some slightly more unusual species that aren’t typical garden birds. This includes the countryside cousin of the house sparrow, the scarce and attractive tree sparrow. This pretty little bird has a chestnut coloured head and neat black cheek patches. Unlike the more familiar house sparrows (which should also be present), the sexes are similar so it is not easy to tell the difference between males and females. As well as tree sparrows, you may also see two species of buntings. This includes reed buntings and brightly coloured yellowhammers. Although the reed buntings regularly get on the bird feeders, the yellowhammers tend to be seen feeding on the ground. Both of these species certainly add a bit of variety to the Big Garden Birdwatch. You may even see a gaudy ring necked parakeet, as this noisy introduced species has also been seen on the feeders in front of the visitor centre in the past. I hope this article has inspired you to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch either in your garden or local green space this year. Please search online for “Big Garden Birdwatch” or ring 01767 680551 for more information.

WORDS David White, RSPB IMAGES Andy Hay ( 36 The Fens | January 2019

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Walk of the month

A Seaside Stroll in Winter WORDS AND IMAGES AMY CORNEY

On a cold winter’s morning we headed out towards the coast to cheer our spirits and blow away the cobwebs with a brisk seaside walk. Just fresh back from the groomers, Twiggy smelt gorgeous so what better way to get our scruffy dog back than to take her to the beach. Having just celebrated her first birthday we thought she deserved a treat and her favourite place to run free and explore is the seaside. Packing up our car we started our journey to WellsNext-The-Sea with our excitable pup in tow. Parking in one of the town car parks we started our walk at the harbour side, which to be frank, was extremely windy! Battling our way against the breeze we walked along Beach Road checking out all the colourful boats that were moored up and hanging on to our hats! On arriving at the beach, we spotted the café and looked for the signs pointing us to the dog friendly section of the beach. Heading to the left of the café we walked through the pine trees towards the steps up onto the beach. Passing lots of doggies en route Twiggy was brimming with excitement and eager to play! As we 38 The Fens | January 2019

entered the beach, we spotted all the brightly coloured beach huts in an array of pretty colours and candystriped designs. A particularly bright yellow one took our fancy but as we had passed one up for sale for a cool £53,000, I think our fantasy of owning one of these will remain just that! The tide was out so the vast expanse

of beach made the perfect playground for Twiggy to burn off some energy! Letting her loose we laughed as she plunged into the salty water left in pools then proceeded to roll in the sand coating herself in a fine dusting. She didn’t smell gorgeous for very long! Thankfully the beach was sheltered from the raging wind which was a relief after

struggling to stand on the way! Ambling in the direction of Heacham we passed a couple who had parked there and were walking the coastal route to Wells, they were then making use of their free bus passes and taking the coastal hopper bus back to Heacham. A great idea if you want a much longer walk and don’t have a wet salty dog in tow! Lots of other dog owners were enjoying this area of the beach and Twiggy revelled in playing chase with other friendly pooches. Despite the cold temperature and the ever-present threat of rain we soaked up the fresh air and burned off some of the extra calories we consumed over Christmas! After walking and playing fetch for around 45 minutes, we decided to turn back and feeling peckish we made our way to the café ready for a spot of lunch. Sitting outside with our soggy pooch we realised the café was a mecca for other dog owners and had even provided a doggy bar of water bowls to choose from. Enjoying sandwiches and soup we recharged our batteries ready to battle the wind once again! For those of you just wanting to enjoy the beach there is a car park right next to the café. Parked next to this was a very cute Astroturf covered ice cream van dotted with daisies which unsurprisingly wasn’t open on such a cold day! Walking back, we strolled along arriving at the Quay next to the main row of shops. Wells has lots of great independent shops and several tasty fish and chip restaurants and there is nothing nicer than indulging in some hot chips on a chilly day! Feeling the cold drops of rain on our noses and with our pooch yawning her head off we decided to call it a day and seek shelter from the impending rain. As we drove off the rain began to fall faster and faster

and Twiggy had already fallen asleep from her adventures. We hoped the next time we visited the depths of winter will have passed and it would be slightly warmer and much more spring like!

THE STATS Time: 2.5 hours plus lunch stop Terrain: Pavements, grass and sand Distance: 6 miles/ 12km The Fens | January 2019








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CALL MATT 01733 840051 or 07939 010257 Or find us on Facebook The Fens | January 2019


When The Fens caught up with

Stephen K Amos The popular comic is back at the Junction in Cambridge for his latest national tour WORDS RICHARD GROOM Stephen K Amos is kicking off 2019 the way he finished 2018, with a string of dates on his ‘Bouquets and Brickbats’ tour. In fact, 2018 was a busy year even before the tour began, continuing his reputation as one of Britain’s most travelled comics: “This year alone I spent two and a half months in Australia, a few weeks each in New Zealand and America, six weeks across Europe and a month at the Edinburgh Festival.” Do audiences around the world get his material? He finds that they do: “Comedy travels well as long as your material isn’t too reliant on local knowledge. Family is a universal theme and a rich source of material for me. There are a lot of us in my family and comedy was a way to make my voice heard when I was growing up. There are plenty of strong characters too, and they are all happy to be featured in my act, albeit as exaggerated versions of themselves.” Touring his stand up show is just part of what keeps him so busy. There are TV appearances on QI, Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled, Live At The Apollo and Have I Got News For You, to name just a few. Then there’s The Stephen K Amos Talk Show, which started at the Edinburgh Festival and is now on Amazon’s Audible. Stephen was editing episodes when The Fens called him for a chat, just a couple of hours before he headed out to play another date on his tour. This will be the latest in a long line of visits to the city: “I’ve played many venues in Cambridge over the years, including the comedy festival at the Junction. It’s an intimate venue where the audience is always up for it.” ‘Bouquets and Brickbats’ refers to the way that life blends the good and the bad, the joy along with curveballs. But don’t expect lots of the political material that many comics explore: “I tend to avoid politics unless I have something original or clever to say about it. Politics is so divided now, left or right, and that’s not how the world works. It often descends into abuse. I want to avoid that and give people a place to laugh their heads off. Anything I throw in on politics is done in a subtle way.” Stephen plays the Junction in Cambridge on Tuesday 29 January. Visit for information and tickets.

42 The Fens | January 2019

A MIND ALL OF HIS OWN Short story by Alan Kahn

While picking fluff from his sleeve, Walter looks across at Olga and frowns. She’s Georgian, he thinks. We’ve been together nearly fifty years and she looks like one of those Russian dolls containing other dolls, and he has a feeling that if he lifts off her head, he’ll discover smaller versions nesting inside, and when he looks deeply enough, he’ll eventually locate Petite Babushka Olga he married.

… on way to his workshop. As usual he seems to be invisible; he affects nobody in his insignificance so nobody greets him, speaks to him, engages him in conversation. Passers-by ignore him in that same tone Olga uses when she says: if you say so, dear. Even so, too many people; he’s easily frightened by noise and crowd and street cries, so Grey Man Walter shrinks a little more each time.

Olga crochets, counting as she knits, a mandala taking circular shape across her broad square lap. World’s going to end tomorrow, Walter says, and she replies: will it dear? She’s not paying attention … 120, 121 … her lips mouthing muted mystical numbers, so he tries again. My cup’s full of frog spawn, he claims, and Olga doesn’t raise her chestnut eyes to his but murmurs distractedly: if you say so dear. He gives up. If you want me, I’ll be in my workshop, announces Walter, ratcheting up on his rickety legs, and Olga responds: try not to cut yourself dear.

Has he missed a turning? Shop windows reflect him: slate skin, dove hair, ashen beard, iron glasses, sad eyes—all grey, even a granite jumper, baggy now he’s losing weight. Pausing to stare at this stranger looking back, he spots a vivacious sweater on a rack inside, is drawn to it—such passionate colours: capsicum, orange, turmeric, lime; and it radiates with lambent light as if sunshine through stainedglass windows—and he thinks, dare I? Should I own such a thing of brightness? Inside, a shop assistant enquires: can I help you sir? He points and asks: have you that one in my size? Jah, Mein Herr, she smiles, and adds: would you like to try it on? It’s a perfect fit, and Walter glows in it, as if sun peeks down just for him, so he pays, leaves wearing his purchase, and grey-day turns to summer as he walks on. Now a woman pushing a pram nods at him, says hello as she passes, and everyone smiles, saying hello as though he’s no longer invisible. At first he’s unnerved, being accustomed to invisibility, but he enjoys

Today has a drab greyness about it—sky, pavements, smothering air—and it reminds Walter of Hamburg where he first met Olga. She was a spy; he worked for British Military Police, arrested her, and fell in love. Hamburg too was grey that February day, and very cold. She betrayed her motherland to be rewarded with Walter’s frozen hand for life. Walter remembers it well as he walks along … Spaldingstrasse?

this warmth from others, feels happier than for a long time. I should go home to Olga, he thinks, show her my new jumper, but … where does she live?

herself from his arms, fetches a CD, hands it to him, says: no charge, take it, and thank you for dancing with me, as she retreats, disappears behind a smoky screen.

Music drifts from a shop—joyful music, music of memories new and revived. He pushes open a stiff glass door and is crushed by sound, the room veers unsteadily like a top, or is it he who spins? A young woman approaches, so pretty, huge chestnut eyes sparkling, painted smiling lips, flame hair, says: can I help you, sir, just like Girl in that clothes shop not long ago— when was that? She’s Olga, or a replica of Olga when she was a tiny Russian doll, smallest in a set, just as she was when he first met her, somewhere near here he can’t quite recall because his mind is disorientated by this cataract of music. He asks: who’s that singing? Paloma Faith, says Young Olga, do you like her? Yes. He likes her; she sounds ebullient, full of colour and life. Young Olga grins impishly – would you like to dance? Walter is surprised how well he dances, in almost perfect time, this pretty young woman guiding him through aisles stacked with records and albums, though she seems muted, softness blurring edges … even music now fading low so he can think, and he asks: can I buy Paloma Faith please? Of course, she replies, but still they dance, and Walter doesn’t want to let her go because she smells so nice, shimmering floral scents, but she tenderly extricates

Hours later, Walter finds his way home. Olga is still on her sofa, a growing mandala across copious knees, and she glances up when he comes in but she continues counting stitches. I’ll make you a cup of tea in a minute, she mumbles through a mouthful of numbers, and Walter sits opposite her to wait. He picks grey fluff from his sleeves and he’s peeved because she’s ignoring him again. He asks: do you like my jumper? Olga says without a glance: yes dear. I danced with a young woman, he continues. Really, comments Olga. I bought you a record … he adds … Paloma Faith. Did you dear …? Olga sighs … where is it then? Walter looks round him, feels down the side of his chair. I seem to have mislaid it, he says sadly. Never mind—tea, I think. She puts aside her crocheting, struggles to her feet, and Walter looks at her closely. Olga, he says as she’s about to leave. I love you. Hesitating, she turns from her kitchen, returns instead to Walter’s side, pats away a stray strand of grey hair, nips at his grey jumper to smooth out a ruck over his shoulder, and says: I love you too, but sometimes I wish you’d remember— my name is Maureen.

THE EYRIE PRESS SHORT STORY COMPETITION 2018 The challenge - simply to write a story with a maximum of 1000 words, in any genre and on any theme. As in previous years, the standard was high, the topics varied and the decisionmaking difficult! A short list was created and sent to the judges, authors Sue Welfare and Jon Lawrence. After much deliberation they chose as their winner ‘A Mind All Of His Own’ by Alan Kahn from Lincolnshire. Sue said ‘The story has a compelling narrative and the writer has a distinctive voice that carries us through. It would have made a much longer piece, and I loved the sense of intrigue and character, both of

which were skillfully drawn.’ We at Eyrie Press had to agree – we had unanimously put Alan’s entry through to the short list after all! I also thought the use of imagery and colour very effective in portraying Walter’s state of mind as the story develops, and was particularly taken by the sense of mystery – we really don’t know what is going on and are left to decide for ourselves. Also, I found Alan’s treatment of the dialogue very interesting. Rather unconventionally, he has placed it in line with the text. At the editing stage, it would normally be punctuated as standard dialogue but, in discussion with

Alan, I opted to leave it as it is, feeling that it places the reader inside Walter’s mind, maintains a flow of consciousness and conveys a sense of mental isolation. I’d be interested to hear what you all, as readers and writers, think. If you’re on Twitter please let us know! We’re @eyriepress. Many thanks to Natasha and all at The Fens Magazine for supporting the competition and publishing the winning entry. And, of course, many congratulations to Alan! By Jane Spencer, Publisher, Eyrie Press

Congratulations to all who made the short list: ‘Homecoming’ by Stephen Mamone; ‘Life Changing’ by Cathy Cade; ‘Owzat’ by Kate Critchley-Fowler The Fens | January 2019



The big 250!

1769 was a notable year. congregation in the town James Watt, the Scottish in 1669 and more than inventor, received the one by the year 1728. So, first patent for his steam what’s significant about engine, an invention that 1769? The church didn’t would play an important start meeting in that role in the industrial year, but it was the year revolution. Captain Cook, that the congregation sailing on the Endeavour, meeting in Gracious reached New Zealand Street drew up a “Trust and became the first Deed” and officially European explorer to began. 250 years later, map the islands. Sir we’re still here. Arthur Wellesley, better 250 years is a long known as the Duke of time. Life back then Wellington, a future war would have looked very hero and British prime different from now. The Paul Kosciecha, minister, was born in church began long Whittlesey Baptist Church Dublin. before the Whittlesey It was also the year Mere was drained. There when Whittlesey Baptist Church began. was no need for a car park in those Dating the beginning of a church is not days as people would have travelled an exact science. Our current building on foot or on horseback. was built in 1836 and extended and I think about all the people who added to several times over the years. have been part of the church This was a replacement for an earlier over the generations. Thousands building put up in 1790. Yet, the church of people, most of them I’ve never existed a long time before either of met. As we’ve prepared for this year, them. we’ve found some old photographs There is evidence of a Baptist dating back to the early 1900s. One

of them shows a Sunday School Parade in the market square. The buildings, the clothes, the time was so different to today. There are many ways that the church has changed over the years. Yet, with all the changes there is still a common thread that runs down through the history of the church. The message we teach, the good news of Jesus, and the things we believe are still the same as when the church first began. There is something very reassuring about that. Throughout this year we are hoping to celebrate 250 years of Whittlesey Baptist Church. We have a few different events planned and if you’ve had any connection with the church in the past, or even if you’ve never had a connection at all, we’d like to invite you to join us. We’ll do our best to let you know what’s happening. We’ve also set up a Facebook group for past attendees where people can share their memories and connect with people from the church. If you want to know more, please visit our website – - for more details.

We#would#love#for#you#to#come#along#and#join#us#one# Sunday.##Our#services#are#at#11:00am#and#6:30pm.

Whittlesey Baptist Church, 32 Gracious Street, Whittlesey Website: E-mail: 44 The Fens | January 2019


AWKWARD CHRISTMAS OUTING I’m sure I join everyone in that ‘post Christmas’ feeling where all of a sudden my trousers are slightly tighter and my fingers are now struggling to hit the correct keys as I type where they are just a little bit stubbier. However, as much as I will miss the company, little bit of time off work and of course the food, what I certainly won’t miss are the work ‘ventures’ that come as part of the Christmas period. You see, I have a job that requires you to attend various events that require, for me, slightly awkward social interactions. For one, I am invited to Christmas services at churches. I am not ashamed to admit that I am about as much of an atheist as it is humanly possible to be, and for me, going into a church is like sending someone who is allergic to nuts into the KP factory. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the comfort attending these services gives to people, it’s just not for me. On the other hand, I’d be willing to sit in a 24-hour church service marathon if it meant that I could get out of the other ‘Christmas duty’ I have, and that is attending after work ‘parties’ at solicitors. Every year I get invited to meet the local solicitors so I can ‘network’ and meet new people. I find these horrifically awkward. This year I attended one in Leicester where, upon arrival I was offered a glass of wine which I declined and was therefore given some strange ginger, orange drink which I didn’t have the heart to tell the kind lady that I really didn’t like ginger. I was then offered a large chunk of stilton. That was all, not a cracker to go with it, but literally a large piece of stilton cheese for me to munch on while making awkward conversation with a group of people of which I’d only ever spoken to one once briefly over the phone. So not to look out of place, I introduced myself to an equally nervous looking man standing in the corner. He had clearly been presented with a wedge of cheddar having no doubt turned down the stilton and there he stood like some socially inept human mouse nibbling his cheese. It turned out he was a patent officer. Something I know literally nothing about. I made general chit chat for 5 minutes and then used my ‘get out of this situation’ trump card, ‘sorry mate, just need to go for a Jimmy’. And so I did, holding my gobstopper stilton in my mouth throughout the whole process because I couldn’t for the life of me see even a paper plate to store it on.

Joe Clarke-Ferridge is an occasional writer who wishes everyone a happy Straw Bear Festival!

At the time of writing the outcome of Brexit negotiations is unclear, I have a feeling that even if all the details were available, it would be difficult to predict the impact it will have on our finances, it is likely that people with differing circumstances will experience differing experience because in some situations matters could be for the better and in others it may be worse. Having said this – there is a warning from the Bank of England that there is potentially a risk of inflation increasing. Whilst the impact of price increases on goods and services will differ depending on your consumption the simple message is that if the cost of living increases (expenditure) – the amount of income needs to rise by the same amount to maintain that lifestyle otherwise your standard of living will either improve or deteriorate. Seldom are people worried when disposable income (surplus over expenditure) increases – it could mean a better lifestyle or the opportunity to save more for later. Of greater importance to most is when prices increase faster than the generation of income – so what actions could you take? There are two simple options, one is to reduce expenditure, the other is to get better value for money, and they can be the same thing sometimes. For example, if you normally treat yourselves to some form of entertainment three times a week, by reducing it to twice a week could (on the face of it) reduce costs by 33%, of course it only reduces the part of your budget that relates to entertainment which in itself might represent just 10% of your weekly spend, so the overall reduction is closer to 3%, then if you invite friends over and prepare a meal for them – that might wipe out the saving made on entertainment. Therefore, it is important to firstly prepare a budget, then to review not only the individual costs, but the overall picture. There is no point in switching off all the lights to save a few pence electricity on lighting if you trip over, injure yourself and cannot work for a week! There is an old saying that if you look after the pennies the pounds will look after themselves. In my experience those that have good budgetary control also benefit from the habit of questioning costs. There are those that know exactly where to buy petrol for a penny per litre lower cost than elsewhere. They then make a special journey to fill up. The extra journey costing more than the saving. I know individuals with cash deposits earning 0.5% interest on cash deposits – significantly more than the 0.1% their bank was providing – however, the rate of inflation might be 2.4% - so they are effectively losing 1.9% in terms of purchasing power – so it is not as bad as it was – just not as good as it might be. A more sophisticated investment might produce, say, a gross return of 5%, if the costs associated with it amount to 2% - your net return would be 3%, if costs could be reduced to 1.5% the net return increases by 16% up to 3.5%. This is only an example and does not imply a specific return. There are actions you can take to make your cash flow work better for you, if you need advice speak with an Independent Financial adviser for a free initial consultation. Delivering Simple Financial Advice – That Really Works!

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The Fens | January 2019


FROM BEAN TO BURN Across our region, new companies are being formed by people who want to do something more than make a few quid. Many also want to leave the planet in a better condition than they found it. One of these is located on the edge of the Fens at Alconbury. WORDS RICHARD GROOM

46 The Fens | January 2019

Housed in a converted aircraft hangar, bio-bean are doing interesting things with something that has previously been discarded at the rate of about 500,000 tons a year: waste coffee grounds.

The company was started by a university student working on research into how coffee shops could operate more sustainably. His analysis found that the grounds have potential for some pretty useful things, including as the basis for biodiesel. They also contain a natural oil that can be used in the food and perfume industries. But although bio-bean are working hard on these, their focus is currently on two further applications. For commercial use, there are coffee pellets that feed biomass boilers, and for home use the company’s Coffee Logs are made for wood burning stoves and open fires. At bio-bean’s Alconbury facility the process starts with separating the coffee from any plastic or other waste material that finds its way into the grounds. Then there are a series of steps before the finished product is ready for packaging. The Coffee Logs are 100% natural and the only additive is a little sawdust to help the processed grounds hold their new shape. KEEPING DOWN THE COFFEE MILES Getting large quantities of grounds to the site has required thought and investment, as bio-bean’s Matt Keniston explains: “At King’s Cross and Liverpool Street Stations waste coffee from outlets on the concourses goes into bio-bean skips. When it builds to eleven tons it’s transported to Alconbury in one big shipment. “Likewise, Costa Coffee shops have their waste grounds collected by the same vans that deliver fresh coffee beans. Our commitment to minimising transport energy is one of the reasons why the Alconbury site was chosen. It’s near enough to London, Birmingham and other cities, and is well connected to the A1.”

It’s great to see such innovation and green credentials from an employer in our region, and things are looking good for bio-bean. Their Coffee Logs are stocked nationwide, in the likes of Morrisons, B&Q and numerous garden centres. Local stockists include Cotton Orchard Garden Centre in Cambridge and B&Q in Peterborough. There are big plans for the Alconbury site, with a new laboratory scheduled soon. The company is also exploring opportunities for extracting useful material from other natural waste products, with talks already underway with the brewing industry and others. Find out more at

SAVING A USEFUL RESOURCE FROM LANDFILL Dumping coffee grounds into landfill is bad news. For a start, using energy to transport grounds to such a pointless end is very wasteful. Even worse, once they start to break down in landfill sites the grounds release methane, which has a greater greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide. But bio-bean say that using the grounds to make Coffee Logs produces 80% less CO2 emissions than sending them to landfill. Consumers also benefit as the logs burn hotter, longer and cleaner than wood. The Fens | January 2019


WHAT’S ON COUNCILLOR SURGERIES Saturday 5th January, 9:30am10:30am

Held in Grosvenor House from 09:30 to 10:30 on the first Saturday of every month throughout 2019. Saturday January 5th Councillors present will be: Councillor Chris Boden (County, District, and Town Councillor) Councillor Alan Bristow (Town Councillor) If you have any matters of concern and wish to discuss with a Councillor, then please come along and let us know.

STRAW BEAR FESTIVAL 2019 Friaday 18th - Sunday 20th January

January sees the return of the annual Straw Bear Festival in Whittlesey. Watch as the town comes alive to the sound of music and dancing. Various events are planned during this folkthemed weekend. Please visit www. for further details and information. Please note some events require pre-booking.

EASTERN ANGLES PRESENTS THE FENLAND SCREAMERS AND OTHER BOGGY TALES Tuesday 22nd - Saturday 26th January Don’t miss this tale which combines eccentric festive musical comedy

REGULARS Painting group, Eastrea Centre every Tues 1pm - 4pm all are welcome, for details contact Sue on 01733 205241 Jim’s Bingo, Tues and Thurs. Doors open at 7pm. Eyes down at 7.30pm at the rear of the Conservative Club. Whittlesea Society meet on the second Monday of each month at 7.30pm in the Town Hall 48 The Fens | January 2019

with superb acting from Joe Leat (The Mystery of St Finnigan’s Elbow, Everything Must Go!) and Geri Allen (Stoat Hall). Joining them will be Eloise Kay and Anthony Pinnick who recently starred in The Mariner with Common Ground Theatre Company. James Macnaughton also joins the cast after recently performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Romeo & Juliet and BBC’s The Hollow Crown. From the sublime to the ridiculous you can expect a quirky quick paced farce punctuated with original catchy songs. Suitable for kids both sides of 40! Book tickets now at www.vivacity. org or by calling the box office on 01733 207239

NEW ROAD PRESCHOOL OPEN DAY Wednesday 30th January, 10-2 or 1:30-3pm

All welcome to come and meet staff and take a look around New Road Preschool’s purpose-built facilities. Find them on New Road, Whittlesey PE7 1SZ


One of Shakespeare’s best loved

Whittlesey Mud Walls Group Meet upstairs at the Whittlesey Museum on the first Wed of the month at 10:30am Just for Kicks Rock n Roll Club Record Hop. Every Monday. Yaxley British Legion. 07718 511640 TAI CHI & SABRE Eastrea Village Hall Every Thurs evening. 7.30pm - 9pm Contact Jan or Jeff on 07842 090506 Fenland Music Centre Association Orchestras, Bands and Ensembles. Open to all ages and abilities. Meets every Friday during Term time 6pm

comedies, Twelfth Night, is to be staged at Peterborough Cathedral from 13th to 15th February 2019 by Gearbox Theatre Company. This talented new theatre company is combining the Cathedral’s stunning Norman architecture, a sixties skiffle band and Shakespeare’s poetic language, to bring this colourful production to life. Tickets, from £11 - £25, are now on sale via or call Peterborough Information Centre on 01733 452336. As well as the three evening performances, there are matinees on Thursday 14th and Friday 15th February, and these are open both to the general public and to schools.


Held at Westwood Community Junior School, Maple Grove, March, this exhibition features 15 layouts, 9 trade stands, demonstrations, refreshments and live steam traction engine rides outside. There’s free parking and entrance is £4 adults, £2 for children and family tickets available. Find out more by contacting Steve on


Whittlesey U3A Open Meetings take place on the third Thursday of each month at 2pm at Childers, Station Road January 17th Camsight February 21st Fire Safety March 21st Hearing Dogs April 18th To be confirmed May 16th AGM party, with WI choir and Whittlesey Warblers

- 9pm, March Community Centre. Just come along or visit www. Music Makers Whittlesey meet on Thursday 3rd January and on the first Thursday of every month. A singing group for older people. Persons with memory challenges very welcome. Venue: The Wesley Room, Queen Street Church, Whittlesey. £1 per person, includes refreshments. For further info contact Sue Beel at Care Network on 01945 589953


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The Fens | January 2019


Local BUSINESS The Little Marketing Co. Natalie Brannigan started her business The Little Marketing Company whilst on maternity leave and since then the business has achieved great success with Natalie recently winning a new business award. We chatted to her about why she launched her own business and how she is helping others with theirs


WHEN DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS AND WHAT INSPIRED IT? I launched my business this year whilst on maternity leave after making the decision to not go back to my employed job in July. I’ve worked in marketing for over 13 years but the idea came from helping my Dad who was made redundant and started his own business (Hobbs Private Hire) he had no idea about marketing or what to do so I helped him with his logo, website, social media, leaflets, adverts, business plan, marketing plan etc.. Over the years other friends and family who were starting up businesses had also asked my advice, so this encouraged me to set up on my own and I finally took the plunge this year. WHAT SETS YOUR BUSINESS APART FROM ITS COMPETITORS? There are lots of big marketing agencies out there but small businesses can’t afford them or wouldn’t even consider using them. With start-up businesses at a record high across the UK, there was a gap in the market to provide small businesses with the marketing tools, knowledge and the expertise they need to grow. I have set up The Little Marketing Company to allow small businesses to have access to a marketing company at affordable prices and make them feel that they are not alone and there is support and guidance available. I have learnt the tools and techniques over the last 13 years that’s needed for successful marketing and I can take away the hassle and free up time for the small business owner. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT WITH THE BUSINESS SO FAR? My proudest achievement is winning the New Business Award at the Peterborough

50 The Fens | January 2019

Small Business Awards in October. It means the world to me to have won this award, in the short space of time of running my business as it makes all that hard work worth it. The interest in the Little Marketing Company goes to show how much small businesses are crying out for this kind of support and I’m excited about what I can offer. People often start their own business because they’re passionate about the product but sometimes struggle to find the time or lack the expertise to market their business effectively. I’m passionate about supporting start-ups and helping small businesses to thrive. WHAT PLANS DO YOU HAVE FOR THE BUSINESS FOR 2019? I want to continue raising awareness of my business, I want to help as many businesses as I can in Whittlesey with their marketing. I will also be developing different services to offer even more for my customers. Oh and enter the Fenland Awards! WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS? The best thing about running my own business is having flexibility and being able to work on my own terms whilst being be there for my 15-month-old. It’s not easy and it’s a massive roller coaster but I wouldn’t change it for the world. ARE YOU INVOLVED IN ANY COMMUNITY PROJECTS? I run the Whittlesey Ladies who Latte, it’s a free business network group and we meet on the first Wednesday of every month alternating mornings and evenings at The Falcon Hotel in

Whittlesey. There is also a Facebook group which is an extension of the physical meetings and offers an additional way to share things we want other members to know including upcoming events, special promotions, links to blog posts etc.. If you are a lady in business, why not pop along to our next meeting and see what it’s all about. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT LIVING AND WORKING IN THE FENS? Everyone can’t wait to finish school and get out of Whittlesey, I moved to London for 5 years and thought that it’s time to settle down and buy a house and there’s nowhere better than where your family and friends are, so I moved back to Whittlesey. There is a great community here, there is always an event being organised to bring everyone together and Whittlesey has 100 different businesses which is amazing! WHAT HOBBIES DO YOU ENJOY? I used to love going to the gym and running but all of my time at the moment is spent looking after my boys and working on my business. Although I have started to make a conscious effort to schedule in some ME time to keep me sane so I love going to spas and having relaxation time! You can find out how The Little Marketing Company can help you by calling 01733 204359, emailing info@ or visit


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By Pat Whymark and Julian Harries

They were invited to see out the Old Year – but would they ever see in the New?!

22nd – 26th January KEY THEATRE STUDIO, PETERBOROUGH | Box Office 01733 207239 52 The Fens | January 2019