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Issue 52 | September 2020


A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens

Inside this issue Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust

The Fenland NHS Portrait artist From the Fens to the Mountains Our favourite beaches revealed


Whether your garden is big or small, we can supply a building to suit your needs and make the most of the space you have


The Fens | September 2020

September 2020

Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust

WELCOME There is a hero on our front cover, she has kept our country going amidst a crisis. She has kept her nerve when everything seemed so uncertain and frightening. She didn’t get to stay at home and stay safe, she didn’t get to complain because she was only allowed outside for an hour a day. She was brave, when the rest of us were allowed to cry. She is a real NHS worker and she symbolises the many heroes who kept our country running during the pandemic. This issue is dedicated to the NHS staff, the carers and the supermarket workers, the bin men and all the other key workers. You are still our heroes and we haven’t forgotten you. In this issue we interview one of the many, fantastic NHS portrait artists who took part in the Portraits for Heroes project, as well as Nick Livesey who swapped living in the Fens for the mountians of Snowdonia. Meanwhile, assistant editor Richard Groom, shares his favourite seaside towns and reminisces on the good old days... The creatives amongst us will be interested to note that there are two fantastic competitions in this issue. Lego fans can take part in a build, celebrating the fantastic Fens (page 59) and those who enjoy writing can enter Eyrie Press’ Short Story Competition (page 23). Please note these competitions aren’t run by us, although we are proud to support Eyrie Press and the story competition winner will be featured in a later edition of The Fens. Whatever you do this month, be safe.



Issue 52 | September 2020


6 This month’s happy news 11 Your garden in September 16 Portraits of heroes 23 Announcing the short story competition 26 Tips to prepare children for school 28 Richard shares his favourite beaches 33 YOUR RAMSEY NEIGHBOURHOOD TRUST PAGES 46 Nick Livesey shares his journey to the mountains 60 Share the love - local photographs taken by you Editor & design: Natasha Shiels hello@thefensmag.co.uk Assistant Editor: Richard Groom richard@pcbonline.co.uk Resident photogarpher: Chris Brudenell chrisbrudenellphotography.co.uk Sales & distribution: 07511 662566 hello@thefensmag.co.uk Cover: Caroline Forward @carolineforward With thanks to our brilliant contributors

A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens

@thefensmag www.thefensmag.co.uk

Inside this issue Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust

The Fenland NHS Portrait artist From the Fens to the Mountains Our favourite beaches revealed


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

The Fens | September 2020


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We wanted to create a new page dedicated to sharing positive news or a place to thank somebody for doing something great. If you would like to share your happy news about someone or another business, email hello@thefensmag.co.uk



This key worker and hero dad deserves a special thanks for never once missing a day off work, despite having his own health conditions, and for providing for his family during a very difficult time in their lives.

Kirsty is a key worker (in the hospital) who has spent most of her time working during lockdown, missing out on her own family time with her daughter. She is amazing at what she does and always puts others first. She deserves a big thank you.

- Nisaa Brown

GOODSAM RESPONDERS I’d like to thank Kieron Harrison who has been working day and night for Goodsam Responders, delivering shopping and medication to people that are shielding or can’t get out. - Steve Magnus

- Maggie Cooke

ALIWAL MANOR STAFF I would like to nominate all the staff at Aliwal Manor for keeping residents safe. They also posted videos of what they were doing which really brightened my day. Thank you. - Rachael Smith

BRILLIANT POSTIE I’d love to give a shout out for my husband, Neil, who is a postman. He has gone above and beyond to look after the people on his rounds. Everyone is so grateful to him. - Rebecca Isobel Garner 6

The Fens | September 2020



Denise is a nurse who was deployed in ICU during lockdown. She’s a single mum and lost her grandad during this time, yet she is still the most caring, genuine and thoughtful person I know. She is an inspiration and truly amazing

During Covid, Steph has worked tirelessly despite being an asthmatic. She works for a charity that provides support and accommodation for young people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless in Fenland

- Shell Pilfold

- Lynda Day


A WORD FROM YOUR WHITTLESEY MAYOR At the conclusion of last month’s article I hinted that considerable financial investment would be made in Whittlesey in the coming months. In this issue of your magazine I would like to share some of those plans with you all. Firstly, as we all now realise, the long awaited construction work at Kings Dyke Crossing has commenced to build a bridge over the railway line that traverses the A605. This work has begun some four months ahead of schedule and, allowing for inevitable delays due to weather and other considerations, will end in the autumn of 2021. There will of course be substantial delays whilst this work is undertaken which is inevitable when you consider that the A605 is the major route for many to and from Peterborough and beyond. I would ask you all to be patient in the meantime and wherever possible to stagger your work times or to seek alternative routes. Whilst Cambridgeshire County Council has been instrumental in delivering this scheme it cannot be denied that the crucial financial investment from the Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Combined Authority under the leadership of the elected Mayor, James Palmer, has been the telling factor. Similarly, other financial interventions from the Combined Authority are now in the pipeline aimed at enhancing the economy of Whittlesey, bringing greater prosperity through increased employment and trade within our town. Early in 2018, in my capacity as the then Economic Development Member of the Fenland District Council Cabinet, I became involved in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Economic Review (CPIER). This organisation, sponsored by regional business sources, was headed by Dames Kate Barker and Carol Black and sought advice from Metro Dynamics (Consultants), the Chief Executive and Leader of Fenland District Council and myself. The concluding report recognised the great potential for economic development in the Fenland area and its four market towns of March, Whittlesey, Chatteris and Wisbech in particular. It also acknowledged that considerable financial investment would be required to realise the

mental and physical requirements of each community and a scheme known as “Growing Fenland” was born to further those ambitions. My task was to set up committees in each town to examine the requirements of each community and I was delighted that my present Deputy Mayor, Cllr Mrs Dee Laws took on the chair in Whittlesey of a committee that included initially, former Cllr Martin Curtis, Stephen Hodson from the local Business Forum and two sixth form students from Sir Harry Smith Community College, William Green and Chloe Sperryn, working in conjunction with the consultants, Metro Dynamics. By the early part of this year, and after a tremendous amount of research and discussion a final report which provided an eight point proposal for Whittlesey was produced. The proposals include: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Enhancing the Whittlesey Market Making greater use of the Buttercross for new events Creation of a Heritage Centre Revamping of a Heritage Walk New Town Website Improvements to Education A Skills Taskforce Transport Improvement Package

As a result of this initiative the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority has agreed to initially fund the proposals for Whittlesey to the tune of £1.1 million. My thanks go to all members of the committee who have contributed to this project and I am personally delighted that the need for a Heritage Centre has been acknowledged, as I have personally worked on this project since 2017 along with Cllrs Alex Miscandlon and Eamonn Dorling from Whittlesey Town Council. But more of that next time…..Cllr David K M Mason, Mayor & Leader Whittlesey Town Council The Fens | September 2020




Al fresco dining spaces and street cafes could soon become a more familiar sight in Fenland as local food and drink businesses are invited to apply for a free pavement licence. Fenland District Council has launched a fasttrack process to apply for the new licence, which will allow pubs, cafes and restaurants to place tables and chairs outside their premises, without the usual need for planning permission. The pavement licences, made possible following the introduction of the new Business and Planning Bill 2020 this week, aim to help licensed businesses bounce back from the coronavirus lockdown and operate safely while social distancing measures are in place. The Council has waived the fee for the licences until the end of the year, and will determine applications in just 14 days including a seven day

WHITTLESEY YARD SALE 2 AUGUST 2020 What started out as a small fundraiser to help Defibrillators For All during a very challenging time, became a big hit with the community. Thanks to a brainwave from Sandra Donachie 60 people joined in the great Whittlesey yard sale, each donating £10 to Defibrillators For All. Sandra was amazed that so many were keen to take part. Each person set up their stall in their own front yard and cleared out cupboards, garages and lofts to fill their yards. The team then produced a list of all those taking part and a map to help those trailing around the town, trying to fit as 8

The Fens | September 2020

consultation period. In addition, the Bill has amended the Licensing Act 2003 to allow operators with existing alcohol on-sales licences to also serve alcohol for consumption off the premises and to make deliveries. Cllr Sam Clark, Fenland District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Licensing, said: “This is all about supporting local businesses as they begin to welcome customers back. Current social distancing guidelines make it difficult for many premises to find enough space indoors to allow them to operate safely, so a pavement licence could help. The streamlined process will also allow businesses to obtain licences as quickly as possible, aiding their financial recovery. “We know this won’t be something which every business will be able to take advantage of because their location might not make it possible. But some businesses could definitely benefit from this and we aim to be of as much help as we can.” The temporary pavement licences will be available until September 31, 2021, and may be issued for between three and 12 months. Applications will be subject to feasibility assessments to determine whether what is proposed is suitable for the outdoor space, and conditions may be applied to licences granted. For more information and guidance, and to apply for a pavement licence, visit: www. fenland.gov.uk/pavementlicence many visits in as possible. The feedback has been amazing, the stall holders said the town was buzzing, and lots sold out by lunchtime. Those visiting felt there was a carnival type atmosphere seeing neighbours and friends along the way. Sandra did an amazing job and Defibrillators For All are so thankful to her for encouraging so many people to take part. Defibrillators For All had their own sale and raised £444. Several people gave other stall holders small donations which added to the stall fees and over £1,100 was raised to help maintain the defibrillators in the town and surrounding villages. - Deborah Slator, Defibrillators For All Chair

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Vesuvio would like to inform all our customers and friends that we hope to be reopening our restaurant in September As a family run restaurant we have decided to remain closed for a little while longer, to ensure the safety and well being of all our customers, staff and family. We would like to thank all our customers and friends for the amazing support you have all shown us during this Covid 19 pandemic. With all your amazing support, awesome reviews, and so many calls, it has made this difficult time a lot easier. Whittlesey is an amazing town and it has been so wonderful to see the town came together during this time, a big thank you to everyone that has helped especially the “Helping Whittlesey Facebook group” We hope you all continue to stay safe and remember to keep the 1 meter social distancing rule. Keep washing your hands, and most of all let’s hope this virus ends soon.

We will be continuing with our takeaway and delivery service Calls to place your orders can be made from 4:30pm onward on 01733 204599 please note Vesuvio will be closed from the 16/08/20 until the 31/08/20 www.vesuviowhittlesey.com t: 01733 204599 | info@vesuviowhittlesey.com 1 Eastgate Mews, Whittlesey, Peterborough PE7 1PU

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YOUR GARDEN IN SEPTEMBER Summer is coming to an end with the month of September generally being a cooler month than August. The days are becoming noticeably shorter, but the weather is, however, usually warm and calm, giving us the ideal conditions to plant trees and shrubs. It’s a great time of the year to appreciate those long lasting plants that flower into autumn and if you have a fruit or vegetable patch you’ll be busy reaping the rewards of a hopefully successful harvest. Don’t forget - if you look forward to a great spring display of colour then now is the time to buy and plant your bulbs. Whatever you’re doing in your garden this month, be sure to make the most of the remaining warmth while you can.





September is a good month to lift and divide summer-flowering herbaceous perennials. Most perennials need to be divided every 3-5 years as the plants can become too big for the border and become congested. Dividing will invigorate the plant and help to improve flowering and overall shape for next year. Gently dig out the plant you want to divide, being careful not to damage the roots. Use a garden fork to separate the plant into two then shake off any excess soil and replant in your chosen spot a soon as possible.



Take cuttings of tender perennials such as fuchsia, salvia, verbena, penstemon and chrysanthemum. It’s a great way to increase the number of plants you have for your summer display and there’s something really satisfying about seeing plants grow that you’ve created yourself. Find some strong growth that hasn’t

flowered this year and cut a 5-10cm stem just below a leaf joint. Strip the leaves from the lower stem and leave one or two pairs at the top. Dip the end in hormone rooting powder and plant in pots of compost mixed with grit. Leave the pots somewhere bright and warm until rooted then re-pot into larger containers. Overwinter in the greenhouse or conservatory.



Bulbs make a fine display planted in containers or borders, especially Tulips, Snowdrops and Daffodils. They are among the easiest and most rewarding plants to grow and are great for adding colour to spring borders. Tulips come in a huge variety of colours and bloom at a time of year when there is very little colour in the garden. Snowdrops, appearing before the tulip, are one of the earliest flowering plants in the garden. When the snowdrop begins to fade the daffodil begins to appear, with its cheery shades of yellow brightening the borders. Enjoy your garden!

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The Fens | September 2020



WHAT’S HOT IN SEPTEMBER Each month brings something lovely to spot or to taste. Here’s our round-up this month



Late August and early September are the perfect months for Blackberrying - the one traditional foraging activity that’s still widely enjoyed today. Picking blackberries, the fruit of bramble, is a pastime that’s deeply embedded in our history and folklore and it goes back thousands of years. Blackberries have a high vitamin C content and can be eaten raw or cooked. The unmistakable, prickly shrub grows in woods, hedges, heathland and wasteland almost everywhere. Gather them for pies, crumbles, wines, jams, jellies and vinegar.

The AngloSaxons called September Gerst Monath (Barley Month) or Haefest Monath (Harvest Month) celebrating the barley harvest. The end of August and start of September will see plenty of combine harvesters out in Fenland, as ploughing and cultivation begins for the next batch of cereal crop. For lots of people, the change in seasons from late summer to autumn is their favourite time, look out for a selection of gold, red and brown colours as the flowers and trees change.

Image Jamie Corney with thanks to EC Browns and Sons Farm


INGREDIENTS 1.8kg blackberries 1½ kg jam sugar (the one with added pectin) Juice and pips of 1 lemon Finger-tip size knob of butter METHOD 1. The night before, layer the blackberries and sugar in a large bowl, cover and set aside. The next morning, give everything a quick stir. 2. Before you start, put a small saucer in the freezer. Take a preserving pan or a large, wide-based pan and tip the berries in, scraping out all the juices and any undissolved sugar. Stir in the lemon juice, then collect all the pips and secure them inside a tealeaf strainer or piece of muslin before 12 The Fens | September 2020

adding them to the pan (cooking them helps your jam to set). 3. Start the blackberries over a low heat until all the sugar is completely dissolved, then bring to the boil and simmer for 5 mins. Turn off the heat and spoon a little hot syrupy jam onto the chilled saucer. Once it's cool, push it with your finger. If it wrinkles a little, it’s ready. If it's too runny, return the pan to the heat and boil in 2 or 3-minute stages. 4. Skim off any excess scum, then stir in the butter - this will help to dissolve any remaining scum. Leave the jam for 15 mins before ladling into sterilised jars. It can be left in a cool, dark place for at least 6 months. Refrigerate once opened.


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LYNCROFT CARE HOME IN WISBECH DELIGHTED TO BE WELCOMING VISITORS BACK Staff and residents at Lyncroft Care Home in Wisbech have been enjoying welcoming visitors to their home over the past 2 weeks. “We are extremely pleased to be able to open our doors again, families are as much a part of our home as our residents”. Said Brenda Durrington, Home Manager at Lyncroft Care Home. “It’s been very emotional to see residents’ faces light up as they see family members after so long. We know how important it is for our residents to see loved ones and this is a real boost for everyone”. There were many touching reunions at the home as residents were able to see their loved ones for the first time in over four months. One relative commented “We felt very lucky to be able to visit, thank you to all staff for looking after the residents and making everything safe for them during these last few months.” Lyncroft, who had already put clear guidance for families in place before the government guidelines were announced, are asking families to comply with stringent health and safety measures to keep people safe. The home has put together comprehensive

information for visitors to help them understand the new procedures and feel at ease when they visit. All visitors will be required to wear a face masks for garden visits and full PPE for indoor visits and every visitor is required to pass through a thermal imaging machine to check their temperature on arrival. Brenda Durrington added; “Our home has been Covid-19 free throughout the pandemic and all of the measures we have implemented for these visits are designed to keep it that way. This means that visits will be different from before, but we are sure that people will understand why. These visits have been able to happen because of the hard work of all our homes to keep residents safe and it has been amazing to see how much it means to everyone”.

Lyncroft Care Home At Lyncroft Care Home in Wisbech, our care is the kind we’d want all of our loved ones to receive. In these difficult times the elderly population is particularly vulnerable at home. If you’re concerned about how your relative will cope and would like them to have more support, Lyncroft provides family-led care delivered by highly trained staff in a warm homely environment.


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The Fens | September 2020


Portraits of

our heroes In April Portraits for Heroes project was launched on Instagram. What nobody expected was the idea would become a hugely powerful artistic statement. We spoke to Caroline Forward, one of the participating artists, to hear her experience of this incredible collective achievement WORDS NATASHA SHIELS IMAGES CAROLINE FORWARD The idea for Portraits for Heroes originated from Tom Croft, an artist, who shared a two-minute video on social media. The Oxford-based artist wanted to paint a free portrait of the first NHS frontline worker to respond. Known before as an artist who painted famous people, his offer was a generous and somewhat of a coup and he quickly paired up with a nurse from Manchester. Over the coming weeks, Tom paired hundreds of artists with NHS workers before the BBC took hold of the story and the idea exploded. Suddenly artists all over the world wanted to take part in a similar initiative.


One of the many artists who saw Tom’s calling was Cambridgeshire based Caroline Forward. “I saw the initiative on Instagram and it really appealed to me as I love painting people and had felt during lockdown that I would like to do something meaningful to give back to those who were already giving so much,” Caroline told us. “It was a very simple procedure of posting a green “offer’ to paint a free portrait, and then to post a red “I’ve been paired” message. I was only going to paint one portrait as it can take me quite a while to paint a portrait, but I received several requests and in the end agreed to paint three.” No stranger to the brush, Caroline has been 16 The Fens | September 2020

exhibiting regularly over 25 years, having essentially self-taught. Living in Fenland for over 33 years has had a huge influence on the artist. “I am inspired by the world around me, in particular organic structures, patterns and shapes in nature, the vast Fen skies, reflections in water whilst regular life drawing forms the basis of my practice.” But Fenland skies are a far cry from the wards of hospitals. Caroline found the project deeply moving on many levels. “I found the response of my ‘sitters’ deeply moving,” she explained. “Despite the challenge of working from just a photograph and meeting the NHS workers ‘virtually’ rather than in person, this has been a very emotional experience. They are all so committed to the care of their patients, and during Covid-19, they have been going above and beyond their usual clinical roles to offer emotional support in the absence of visitors, to alleviate anxiety and fear linked to Covid-19, displaying concern for and understanding of their patients’ mental health.”


Caroline’s three NHS sitters, Kate, Katie and Karen each received their portraits after the painting was completed. They each sit proudly in their homes, a reminder of a very difficult time. Kate, a midwife from Barnsely, shared

THIS PAGE Katie is a Coronary Care Staff Nurse living in Sutton, Cambridgeshire The Fens | September 2020


I am so proud to be part of something that truly portrays so many of our amazing NHS workers, and demonstrates the power of art in telling such a powerful story, touching artists, sitters and audience her gratitude for her portrait: “It's everything and more […] you made me feel very special. It’s a gesture I will never forget and something I will treasure […] It’s one thing having a painting, having a painting of yourself, capturing you as a young-ish woman, working in the job you love, amidst a moment in time nobody ever expected. Well, it's just something else.” Karen was one of the many NHS workers who moved her children into the safety of family whilst she worked in the frontline. When the paramedic first contacted Caroline, she hadn’t seen her four daughters for over six weeks. “What I try to do at work and especially in this situation is keeping my patients as calm, comfortable and reassured as possible whilst giving them the treatment they need to get better,” Katie, a Coronary nurse from Sutton, explained, “and being their advocate for them especially at their most vulnerable.” It was this selflessness which really inspired Caroline: “I was so moved when both Kate and Katie talked about their care of their patients’ emotional needs, their care coming from within them as an unquestioning response to their patients’ needs, which they tried to meet despite their exhaustion of working in PPE, experiencing ‘the worst night shift ever’ during Covid-19, and coping with staff shortages due to sickness. “I am so proud to be part of something that truly portrays so many of our amazing NHS workers, and demonstrates the power of art in telling such a powerful story, 18 The Fens | September 2020

ABOVE Karen is a paramedic based in Moseley, Birmingham. OPPOSITE Kate is a midwife at Mapplewell

touching artists, sitters and audience. I was honoured to hear their stories and moved to hear how much it meant to them when someone was acknowledging them and spending time, thought and effort on them, at a time when demands on them were so high, and circumstances so difficult.� With the Portraits for Heroes project still growing, already at over 12,000 posts on Instagram under the #portraitsfornhsheroes, an online exhibition is in discussions. There’s even hope for a physical exhibition in the future. The Net Gallery @thenetgallery staged a small exhibition of NHS portraits by members of Contemporary British Portrait Painters in Fitzrovia Chapel which was shown online, as a start to the online exhibitions.

Locally, you can find out more about Caroline Forward by visiting her website at www.carolineforward. co.uk or find her on Instagram at @carolineforward Caroline is also the founder member of OuseLife drawing group (www.ouselife. co.uk) which hold regular exhibitions. They are currently working towards their next exhibition in the Cathedral due to be staged in 2022. Caroline also accepts commissions, so please do get in touch if you have been inspired by her work.

The Fens | September 2020

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SLIMMING WORLD WELCOMES MEMBERS BACK Great News! Slimming World Whittlesey AM is opening its doors September 8th in its new home at Queen Street Church (Hall). Charlene, who has been running the Tuesday and Wednesday evening groups for the past year, is excited to welcome the morning members into her Slimming World family home. Since opening the evening doors in August, special safety measures have already been put in place to keep everyone safe; with pre-bookable sessions only, hand sanitiser stations throughout the venue and a one-way system, etc. One apprehensive member messaged after group to say: “Well done Charlene, I felt very safe, you and SW have done well. I am feeling more confident, if and when you need help on

social team, I will be happy to help again” For people still shielding, but want to get their journies re-started, she can help with that too. If a Monday am/pm group would suit better, please contact Anna. Charlene is very excited to get all the Slimming World families back together again and welcome new members too. There’s also a fantastic money saving member offer in Slimming World groups this month to get a FREE COOK BOOK! Get in touch for details. Charlene looks forward to welcoming you soon. If you would like further information please get in touch on 07931 313201 or to book your session now.

Your local groups are back! We have groups on:

Monday AM/PM at the Eastrea centre Contact Anna on 07539 229365 BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL - for session times and availability please contact the consultants

Tuesday AM/PM at the Queen Street Church (HALL) Contact Charlene on 07931 313201 Wednesday PM at the Queen Street Church (HALL) Contact Charlene on 07931 313201

Special safety measures have been put in place to keep everyone safe, if you are still shielding but want to get your journey started, we can help with that too.

We are sooo excited to get back together and see our Slimmin g World fa milies back together again. We look forward to welcomin g you

The Fens | September 2020


Writing Short Stories

- from inspiration to publication A new online course from Eyrie Press Have you been itching to try your hand at writing short stories? Or maybe you’ve started, but you feel that you could do with some help to hone your craft? “A short story is a different thing altogether – a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger.” - Stephen King ‘Writing Short Stories’ is a new online course from Eyrie Press, designed to take you through the whole process, from the gathering of ideas and taming them into a story, through to editing and polishing, and finally submitting it for publication. Using a mixture of video presentations, exercises and downloadable notes, it’s suitable for all writers, even if you have no experience. Eyrie Press is based in Fenland, and we know how this part of the country can feel isolated from cultural centres, cut off from the opportunities that writers in more connected places seem to have right on their doorstep. So we’ve decided to embrace technology and bring some literary learning into your own home, your local café, or wherever you like to write. As well as being a respected genre in its own right, short stories are an excellent crash course in every single element of fiction. And as the typical short story is usually under 5,000 words (and often much less), it feels more manageable than writing a novel and less overwhelming. 22 The Fens | September 2020

But this course isn’t just aimed at This course exists thanks to writers seeking publication. Writing funding received from the Arts can be extremely therapeutic, Council England Emergency as a way of working through Response Fund. 90% of the fund emotions, or as a welcome comes from the National Lottery, escape. If you just want to write so thank you lottery players! We with no intention of showing are able to offer a significant your work to any but your discount on the cost to nearest and dearest residents in certain areas, The Course (and maybe not so do take a look and Includes even them!), see if that covers Getting Started – where to then this you. find ideas and how to develop course is for And once them; freewriting; writing a scene you too. you’ve Character – ways to show character; Designed completed using dialogue and subtext to be the course, Settings – creating settings; zooming studied there should in a scene over six be just Plot & Structure – starting a story; weeks, the enough conflict; hooks and tension course is time to enter Editing – playing with point of view; delivered a story into honing your themes; cutting and entirely the Eyrie Press adding for pace; tightening a story online, so you Short Story Submitting – formatting your can follow it at Competition for document; finding the right your own pace. 2020! market; submitting Take three months Find the course at over it if you prefer, or www.eyriepress.co.uk complete it in a fortnight! LEFT Megan Taylor is the author of four The course has been novels, including We Wait, published developed, written and delivered by Eyrie Press in 2019, as well as a short story collection, The Woman Under the by Megan Taylor and Giselle Ground (Weathervane Press, 2014). Leeb. Both are highly talented RIGHT Giselle Leeb’s short stories have and experienced writers appeared in over thirty publications, themselves, and they have run including Best British Short Stories 2017 many creative writing workshops (Salt). She is a Word Factory Apprentice and courses, including working Award winner 2019/2020 and an with Writing School East Midlands. assistant editor at Reckoning Journal.


The Eyrie Press Short Story Competition

We are delighted to announce that the fifth annual Eyrie Press Short Story Competition is now open This competition has become one of the highlights of our year. 2019 saw the most entries we’ve ever had, and we’re hoping that 2020 will beat that record! The short story genre is one I have always loved. I’m transfixed by the way a writer can say so much in so few words; how a rich backstory can be conveyed with such brevity; how a twist at the end can be so unexpected, yet, on looking back, seeded all along. Being confined to a limited word count gives you the opportunity to focus on techniques of writing such as plot and structure, point of view, and character. With only so many words to play with, every single one must count! As a social enterprise, one of our aims is to champion writers from our region. Here in the east of England, many of us are living in isolated rural areas, feeling disconnected from the literary world, so our competition brings the literary world to us. It is open exclusively to anyone aged 16 and over living in Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Norfolk, Suffolk or Lincolnshire. The winner gets to see themselves in print as their story is published right here in The Fens Magazine – our thanks once again to Natasha and the team for their support! Last year’s winner was Mai Black, with ‘The Smuggler’s

Sweetheart’. If you’d like some inspiration, you can read her story, and the previous winners too, over on our website www.eyriepress.co.uk/short-storycompetition And if you feel you need a little tuition first, there’s time to sign up for the Eyrie Press online course ‘Writing Short Stories’. You’ll find the link on our website. It’s funded by the Arts Council, and depending on where you live, you could be eligible for a discount. This year’s competition is again being judged by writers Sue Welfare and Jon Lawrence. Sue was a writer of romantic comedy for twenty years. In 2015 she released her first thriller, Next of Kin, to stunning reviews and followed that up with the equally successful Losing Leah. Jon is a writer of emotionally charged novels and novellas such as Playing Beneath the Havelock House, The Jack Newton Radio and Silence and Songbirds. The latter was published by Eyrie Press, and we’re delighted to be working with Jon on two more of his books at the moment. Jon has also now joined Eyrie Press as a director. We are very grateful to Sue and Jon for agreeing to judge the competition again, but we’d nevertheless like to give them as hard a time as possible, so please send those entries flooding in! - Jane Spencer, Publisher and Managing Director at Eyrie Press

THE PRIZE THE PRIZE FOR THE WINNER IS £75 AND THE WINNING STORY WILL BE PUBLISHED IN THE JANUARY 2021 ISSUE OF THE FENS MAGAZINE “The great thing about a short story is that it doesn’t have to trawl through someone’s whole life; it can come in glancingly from the side.” - Emma Donoghue, author of Room

THE RULES Eligibility: open to anyone aged 16 and over living in Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Norfolk, Suffolk or Lincolnshire Word count: A maximum of 1000 words (excluding the title) Theme/genres: No set theme or genre, but graphic horror, or erotica won’t be accepted Entry fee: £5.00 Deadline: Midnight (GMT) on Monday Nov 2nd 2020 To see the full rules, and to enter, go to www.eyriepress.co.uk The Fens | September 2020




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The Fens | September 2020



Top tips for children preparing for school As schools prepare to reopen to all pupils, The Young People’s Counselling Service is here to support young people and their families with the transition masks/PPE, changes to which lessons are on which days and having a different lunch or break time. You and your child could draw up a visual timetable of their new school day and who is in their 'bubble.’ • Establish a routine Predictability can reduce stress and remind children that their environment is loving and secure. Set bed and wake up times so they can get adequate rest. Involve your child in a ‘getting ready for school’ routine by having them help make their packed lunch or setting out their school clothes for the morning. Being part of what is happening can help children feel more in control and make sense of the changes, and less like events are being thrust upon them. • Look at the positives

TIPS FOR PARENTS • Listen to and validate your child’s feelings Reassure your child that it’s okay to feel nervous, worried, upset or unsure about returning to school. Telling children not to worry or that it will all be okay can make them more anxious or feel unheard. When children have returned to school, you could try a check-in with your child at a quiet time to explore how their day went and address any concerns that they might have. • Prepare your child for change Discuss how school might look and feel different, such as being in ‘bubbles’, possible use of face 26 The Fens | September 2020

While it is important to hear the worries and concerns of children, we can help by encouraging them to focus on the positive aspects of their day too. What went well? What did they have fun doing? Did they have the opportunity to try anything new? Questions such as these can help children acknowledge that although they’ve had worries or difficult feelings, they’ve also been able to have fun, enjoy themselves and learn. We also have a ‘Back to School Butterflies’ pack available to help parents and teachers work with children to understand and manage their worries. Please contact events@ypcs.uk for your free copy. If you are concerned about your child’s mental health, please visit www.ypcs.uk to find out what support we can offer.

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Back to the beach

circa 1975

With travel restrictions easing in recent weeks, this summer at last gave us the chance to head for a wonderful stretch of coastline on our doorstep WORDS RICHARD GROOM Joni Mitchell was right: you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. That was true for all of us during lockdown. Things we took for granted were suddenly just memories. (And I don’t just mean toilet paper and corned beef.) For many of the people I spoke to during that glorious, sunny, but tragic April, one of the things missed the most was the sea. When the weather gets hot, we are drawn to the coast, and millions of us were looking out for news that we could go there again. For most of us in the Fens that would mean North Norfolk. From my home near Whittlesey, I can jump in the Honda and be walking on Snettisham Beach in under an hour. During lockdown it was tantalisingly close. Thankfully, over the past few weeks I’ve been able to make it there once again, and to do so in a Covid-safe way. LOVE FOR NORFOLK’S COAST My love affair with the North Norfolk coast started in the 1970s. As kids, holidays for us usually meant a caravan in Hunstanton. Days were spent with buckets and spades on the beach. Late afternoons saw us 28 The Fens | September 2020

riding the dodgems and throwing ourselves down the helter skelter. Evenings often meant hanging out with the adults in the Kit Kat Club, feeling all grown up at a time when pubs rarely let kids in. Since I became an adult myself, the coast has still been a big part of my life. Sometimes it’s been a day out in ‘Sunny Hunny’, other times a weekend camping at East Runton, or maybe just a few hours to relax on a quiet beach while the dog tries in vain to chase down a few dozen seagulls. This summer, I’ve been getting up soon after dawn and arriving at the coast stupidly early to avoid the awful traffic on the A149. The car parks and beaches are almost empty that early, and the dog and I have our walk and swim by lunchtime. We’re home well before the roads heading out of Hunstanton start to jam up. While we are there, I get some peace, lots of walking and some lovely chats with friendly people along the way. The dog has a great run out, still completely failing to get anywhere near a seagull. He often just lies down and stares out to sea. I wish I

Holkham beach, photo by Natalie Briggs

Richard and his brothers paddle on a windy Hunstanton beach,


A FANTASTIC FIVE Most of the North Norfolk coast is worth exploring, but if you haven’t seen much of it here are five places to try.

knew what he was thinking. (By the way, dogs are welcome on most North Norfolk beaches but not all of them: please check online before you go and look out for signs confirming where dogs aren’t allowed while you’re there.) My childhood holidays in Hunstanton are long gone, but thankfully the coast is still there. It’s a wonderful constant in a changing world. The dog and I will spend many more happy hours on the sand and in the sea in wonderful North Norfolk. It’d be great to see you there too.

1. Snettisham beach. Great for Fens-dwellers as it’s the closest beach to home. There’s a big car park right next to the beach, which is clean, sandy and usually free from huge crowds. If you’re feeling energetic you can walk the 12-mile trip to Hunstanton and back along the beach. 2. Brancaster beach. Wide open golden sands await you here, with loads of room for fun in a 2020 socially distanced way. Look out for the shipwrecked SS Vina at low tide. 3. Holkham beach. A simply stunning (and enormous) stretch of sand where pools of warm water are left behind when the tide goes out; perfect for wave-free swimming. It’s so stunning in fact, it was chosen as the place for Gwyneth Paltrow to take her post-shipwreck walk at the end of ‘Shakespeare in Love’. It’s a bit of a hike to get to, which is one of the reasons why it’s often almost empty even at high season. 4. Blakeney National Nature Reserve. There are nature reserves all along the coast but Blakeney is a bit special. Best of all, by booking in advance you can take a boat out to see the seals at Blakeney Point. Please note: certain car parks and other facilities at the reserve may be closed or have limited capacity due to coronavirus so please check before travelling. 5. Cromer. About as far along the coast as you’d probably go on a day trip from the Fens, but worth the extra few miles. The town itself sits high on the cliffs so you zig zag your way down to the beach. If you can, buy a crab sandwich and eat it on the super 120 year-old pier. I love the lifeboat station too, although this is likely to be closed to visitors for some time.

Holkham beach, photo by Jamie Overland The Fens | September 2020


Are your serotonin levels low? Susie Munns is an experienced therapist & life coach

If you are feeling low, irritable, anxious or demotivated, the chances are your serotonin levels are low. Serotonin is a chemical and neurotransmitter produced in our bodies. It helps to regulate our mood, behaviour, digestion, sleep and even sexual desire. If you worry and feel stressed a lot this will impact the production of this feel good chemical, happily there are ways you can aid the production of serotonin. Although serotonin is recognised as a neurotransmitter, it is estimated that 90% of the body’s serotonin is made in the digestive tract, so it stands to reason that certain foods such as salmon, nuts and seeds, pineapple, eggs, cheese and turkey are believed to aid serotonin production. Thinking of things that make you feel happy also help production, especially if you smile as you think. A great way to build this into your daily routine is to write down the things you feel grateful for at the end of each day. It’s an obvious one, but exercise is great for increasing levels, research shows the aerobic exercise, at a level you are comfortable with, is the most effective. Massage helps, you do not need to seek out a therapist, if you have a willing partner ask them to give a 10 minute massage or foot rub. Sunshine is a great booster; you can combine your exercise with some light exposure by going for a brisk walk. EFT (Tapping) also enhances the production of this mood balancing chemical, you can request a free tapping guide via my website www.safehaven-therapy.com Susie Munns can be found at Safe Haven Therapy & Coaching Mobile: 07915 073 013 www.safehaven-therapy.com www.facebook.com/ SafeHavenTherapy 30 The Fens | September 2020

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Great Fen Events A little taste of normality is returning to the Great Fen with staff returning and work progressing around the sites. The team have also started events which have been really successful. Here’s a little taste... Wednesday Wander – Woodwalton Fen Join a member of the Great Fen team for a midweek wander around the beautiful Woodwalton Fen Nature Reserve, one of the oldest reserves in England. Learn about some of the wildlife, heritage and the vision of the Great Fen as you explore one of the trails. Dates: Wednesday 9/16/23/30 September 2020, 10.30am-12pm. Cost: £5 Wildlife Trust BCN Members, £7.50 NonMembers. Pre-booking is essential. Please book via our website or Facebook page. For more information please contact: 01487 815524 | info@greatfen.org.uk www.greatfen.org.uk www.facebook.com/GreatFen/

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Summer Challenge Summer 2020 has been tough but we’ve risen to the challenge every step of the way and feel sure the families who have joined in with our activities, whether virtual or in person as the government guidelines changed, have had a great time. Our BOSH club children (aged 5 to 10) had free activity packs delivered to their homes so that they could follow along with craft activities on our Facebook ‘lives’ each week. They then sent in photographs of what they’d done. We’re delighted to share some of them with you here in the Fens magazine. Thanks again to the Rotary Club of Ramsey and Jacks store in Chatteris for their funding support which allowed us to do this. We also managed to hold some face to face sessions back at Ramsey Cricket Club (our usual base) with restricted numbers and safety measures in place. For those who were able to attend it was a small piece of normality and they loved seeing friends again.

Our CRUNCH club young people (aged 11 up) had great fun in virtual escape rooms organised by us as a Summer treat via Zoom. Thanks to Ramsey Million Big Local for funding this. We were also able to bring them back together in a socially distanced group which was fantastic after many months of just seeing each other on a computer screen. We've also worked with the Young People's Counselling Service (YPCS) to offer wellbeing sessions via Zoom for those suffering with anxiety. These were incredible and the young people involved learnt some amazing techniques to help keep them on an even keel. Thanks to Ramsey Town Council for funding these sessions. It's great to see just how much can be achieved by organisations working together. All in all, our Summer has been different but amazing! I want to say a huge thank you to the team I work with at Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust, whether furloughed or still working - you're incredible, each and every one of you. Thank you for all you do for the Ramsey community. - Val Fendley, Development Manager Children, Young People & Families

If you are looking for work, you can also make an appointment to attend Job Search in Ramsey Library on Monday and Wednesday mornings. Please note these are by appointment only. Contact Alison on 07562 379472 or at rntprojectmanager@gmail.com The Fens | September 2020



TRAINING DURING LOCKDOWN Bethan lives in Ramsey and works for the local firm Kinnaird Hill Chartered Certified Accountants. She has recently taken on more responsibility for health and wellbeing and saw the opportunity to enhance her knowledge by completing the IHASCO Mental Health Awareness course provided by RNT. Bethan said, ‘ At Kinnaird Hill, we invest in our employees and following a unique year due to COVID 19, I was aware our employees needed a different level of support. Mental health is quite rightly becoming more important and if my colleagues feel happy and supported, then it has positive knock on effect for their personal health as well as our business and clients.’ Bethan now feels better equipped to help her colleagues by spotting signs of any potential mental health issues, giving her colleagues tips to help them and also signposting them to further help and guidance. She added, ‘ I totally recommend this course to anyone with an interest in this area and I’m very grateful to RNT for providing me with the opportunity to complete the course.’ The course Bethan completed is still available,

but we have just released four new short online courses, increasing the total number to 7. To find out more and/or sign up contact Alison on 07562 379472 or at rntprojectmanager@gmail.com • Returning to Work (during & after COVID-19) - helps you transition back to work in light of COVID-19; whether you have been working from home or been furloughed. • Customer Service Training - This CPD Accredited Customer Service Training course will help you to provide excellent customer service and improve interpersonal skills. • Food Safety and Hygiene Training - Level 1 &/or 2 - It is absolutely essential that anyone who works where food is made, sold or served has a good understanding of food hygiene and knows how to handle consumables properly. • Health and Safety for Homeworkers - This course is for people who work at home, some, or all of the time. • Infection Prevention and Control Training - No matter where you work it’s important that everyone knows the risks, how to stay safe, and keep themselves and everyone around them healthy. • Mental Health Awareness Training - This Mental Health Awareness Training raises awareness of illmental health (particularly stress, depression and anxiety), provides tools and guidance for daily wellbeing-management.

ENTHUSIASTIC, DYNAMIC, INNOVATIVE? WE NEED YOU! Our pages in the Fens Magazine provide a glimpse of what Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust (RNT) offers in Ramsey and the surrounding villages. In addition to two youth clubs, Job Search, community workshops, Ramsey Timebank, social activities and community events RNT works closely with local government and the statutory and voluntary sectors, providing a voice for local people on issues that directly affect them. As reported in the August issue, the Trust is currently expanding its range of activities and is working with Ramsey Cricket Club and Ramsey Million Partnership on an exciting joint venture to create a new sporting community hub. All this has been achieved under the leadership of Carol Aston who, after five years as Chair, is taking a well-earned rest. Therefore, Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust now requires a new dynamic, innovative leader who will work with trustees, staff, volunteers, strategic partners, 34 The Fens | September 2020

and residents to shape the future direction of our organisation. We are therefore looking for someone, for this voluntary role, who has knowledge of, or an interest in, community development and, as an ambassador for the charity, is able to communicate with people from all walks of life. By working together, we firmly believe that the possibilities for our community are endless. Come and join us on our mission to improve the lives of everyone who lives, works or volunteers in our town and its surrounding villages. If you are interested in leading our enthusiastic, passionate, and dedicated team please contact lindacollumbell@gmail.com for an application pack. If you want to find out more feel free to make an appointment to visit us or have an informal discussion with RNT Vice Chair Linda Collumbell. Deadline for applications 25th September 2020.


BEHIND THE SCENES AT RAMSEY RURAL MUSEUM The museum may be closed for the 2020 season but there is a band of volunteers busy working to ensure the site is in tip-top condition for 2021. Many of the displays have either been moved or updated and the closure has given the volunteers the opportunity to give everything a good overhaul. There are also exciting renovations going on at the

Mortuary Chapels and don’t forget you can now visit Ramsey Walled Garden on Sunday afternoons, with a one-way system in operation to ensure the safety of visitors and volunteers. For more details you can follow the Discover Ramsey Facebook page and look for announcements on the Discover Ramsey website, where you will also find downloadable walks

and the Peterborough Cathedral to Ramsey driving trail.

Ramsey Library is Open! Our office base is in Ramsey Library and we are delighted to announce that Ramsey Library is now open Tuesday 2-6pm and Friday 10-2pm with a reduced service. It isn’t possible to freely browse the shelves at the moment. However, you can: • Reserve a specific title or to order a book using the currently FREE Select and Collect service visit www. cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/ libraries-leisure-culture/libraries or call the Customer Service Centre on 0345 045 5225. You will be notified when your books are ready to collect. • Return items • Use the computers by appointment for 45 minutes, which can be made over the phone via the Customer Service Centre or online.


• Join the library online www. cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/ libraries-leisure-culture/libraries or phone 0345 045 5225 • Use the eLibrary www. cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/ libraries-leisure-culture/libraries/ library-online • Follow on social media and read the monthly newsletter online www. cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/ libraries-leisure-culture/libraries/ library-news Unfortunately, the library cannot accept book donations at this time, but all items borrowed prior to lockdown have had their due date extended until the 30 September and reservation charges are suspended until 31 August – when it will be reviewed.

Things continue to change everyday but people in Ramsey and the surrounding villages can be reassured that Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust will be running Ramsey Area Covid-19 Support as long as it is needed. If you require support in anyway due to COVID-19 do not hesitate to get in touch. If we can’t help, chances are we know someone who can! To enable staff and volunteers to return to their ‘normal duties’ we have some slight changes to the service. We now have a new number which will be open between 10am – 1pm Monday to Friday (see below). If we are not there, please leave a message – WE WILL GET BACK TO YOU. You can email anytime or leave a message on our Facebook page.

HANDY CONTACTS Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust rntchair@gmail.com or anna. rntoffice@gmail.com 07548 048471 Facebook: Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust Job Search By appointment 07562 379472 rntprojectmanager@gmail.com Facebook: Jobsearch Ramsey SPARKS Facebook: Sparks Club rntprojectmanager@gmail.com 07562 379472 BOSH boshsummer.rntoffice@gmail. com 07955 817137 Facebook: BOSH - Ramsey CRUNCH 07955 817137 jodie.rntoffice@gmail.com Facebook: Crunch - Ramsey Community Market market.rntoffice@gmail.com Facebook: Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust Ramsey Million BIg Local 07548 048471 office.ramseymillion@gmail.com Facebook: Ramsey Million - Big Local Ramsey Timebank 07562 379472 rntprojectmanager@gmail.com Facebook: Ramsey Timebank The Fens | September 2020



USEFUL NUMBERS 24 Hour Emergency Number 01480 52222 Age UK Cambridgeshire 0300 6669860 Care Network Cambridgeshire 01480 423065 Caring Together (Carers Trust) 03452 410954 Citizens Advice Bureau 0344 2451292 Cromwell Vets 01487 814789 Huntingdon Job Centre 0843 5092446 Hunts Forum 01480 420601 Locality 01480 376209 Chorus Homes 0345 2669760 Muir Housing 01480 453234 One Leisure 01480 388111 Police Emergency 999 Police Non Emergency 101 Ramsey Child & Family Zone 01480 379420 Ramsey Community Bus 01487 711330 Ramsey Community Warden 07900 340265 Ramsey Food Bank 01487 812648 Ramsey Library 0345 0455225 Ramsey Million* 01487 814897 BOSH/CRUNCH 07955 817137 Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust* 01487 814897 Ramsey Post Office 01487 812549 Ramsey Volunteer Bureau 01487 814117 The Bobby Scheme 01480 413311 Stagecoach 01223 433250 Swearers Funeral Services 01487 812239 The Ramsey Initiative 01487 813612 WI Centre 01480 453137 Health Addenbrookes Hinchingbrooke Hospital Peterborough City Hospital Rainbow Surgery Ramsey Dental Surgery Ramsey Health Centre

01223 245151 01480 416416 01733 678000 01487 710980 01487 812312 01487 812611

Need a local number? Our handy numbers are worth keeping close by. Or better still, keep your copy of the magazine on your coffee table until the next one pops through your door...

Village Halls/Community Centre Bury Village Hall 01487 813848 Ramsey Community Centre 01733 844816 Ramsey Forty Foot Village Hall 01487 814637 Ramsey Mereside Village Hall 01733 844459 Upwood Village Hall 01487 815475 Wistow Village Hall 01487 822708 Schools/Child Care Abbey College Ashbeach Primary Bury C of E Primary Bury Play Group Busy Bee Day Nursery Head Start Nursery Ramsey Pre School Ashbeach Ladybirds Pre School Ramsey Junior School Ramsey Spinning Infants The Ramsey Day Nursery Upwood Playgroup Upwood Primary School Councils Ramsey & Bury County Councillor County Cllr. Adela Costello Ramsey & Bury District Councillors District Cllr. Steve Corney District Cllr. Jeff Clarke District Cllr. John Palmer Warboys District Cllr. Jill Taverner District Cllr. Graham Bull Ramsey Mayor - Cllr.Steve Corney Ramsey Town Council Parish Council - Clerk Bury Parish Council Wistow Parish Council

01487 812352 01733 844262 01487 813784 07733 360836 01487 711643 01487 711122 01487 710160 01733 219900 01487 812500 01487 813587 01487 710422 01487 813510 01487 813510

01487 813124 07795 057440 07802 398259 01487 814063 01487 823082 07780 511928 01487 814957 01487 814957 01487 812447 01487 813278 01487 812877

Editorial Policy Summary •All items are included entirely at the discretion of the editor who reserves the right to edit or refuse to print any item submitted. •The Fens Magazine cannot accept any liability for omissions, errors or mistakes which occur in production. •All materials contained within are strictly copyright, all rights reserved. Production in whole or part without permission of The Fens Magazine is prohibited. 36 The Fens | September 2020


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Not sure about tomorrow? Paul Kosciecha, from Whittlesey Baptist Church, shares his thoughts this month...

I’m sitting here at my computer. It’s about 4 weeks ago as you read this article. What should I write about? I want you to read something relevant – a ‘now’ article that speaks to today. Yet, I have no clue what will be happening in 4 weeks’ time. Will Covid-19 be less of a threat, or might we be in the throes of a second wave? What else will come along? Will another disaster overtake the news and the concerns in our minds? Everything seems to be so changeable at the moment. Are you, like me, struggling to keep up? The future seems very uncertain. Yet, that isn’t something new. It’s always been there, just Covid-19 has exposed it.

There’s a verse in the Bible that reminds us of this. It says, ‘you do not even know what will happen tomorrow’ (James 4:14). We make our plans and we try to execute them. But we aren’t in control and, in reality, anything can happen. Where can we look for certainty in an uncertain world? The Bible tells us we can find that certainty in God. There’s a phrase the Bible uses to describe God. It says that he knows ‘the end from the beginning’ (Isaiah 46:10). That means, that as God sees the future, he knows what will take place. Nothing will surprise him or catch him off guard. As you look into the future,

unsure of what comes next, where do you look for stability? I’d love to know what’s going happen and be able to map it out the way I want it to go. Yet, I know I can’t. As a Christian, it’s a great comfort to me to know that God knows the future and he’s got it covered. If you want to know more about God and life with him, why not visit our YouTube channel – www.whittleseybaptist.org.uk/ ytchannel From September we will be livestreaming a service each Sunday morning. You are welcome to join us on a Sunday or watch later at a time that works for you. Praying you all keep safe and well.

The Fens | September 2020


Woodwalton Fen by J Barnard

Sphagnum moss: superstar! This month, Wildlife Trust’s Caroline Fitton looks at how Sphagnum moss has a central starring role in a pioneering project Under an exhilaration of vast skies, rolling grasslands and shining waters, the visionary landscape of the Great Fen is now 20 years into its 100 year vision, recreating long lost precious Fenland habitats via the carefully controlled raising of water levels and rewetting of peat soils vital for capturing carbon. This evolving watery haven for rare fenland species is a new green lung for the ever burgeoning populations of the county. Fitting in with the overall vision, an ambitious two year project, Water Works, is pioneering ways to develop a more sustainable future for fenland resources – its soil, water and people, which could change the mind-set of a generation as well as achieving positive action against climate change. The project, with £1m of funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund, is exploring new ways of ‘wet farming’ or paludiculture, and is now into its second year, despite a six month hiatus with Covid-19. Trials are about to get underway (in specially prepared planting beds which have taken months of planning and creating) of growing novel crops – new grains, rushes, grasses and mosses which ‘like to get their feet wet’. One of the stars of these is sphagnum moss – a really fascinating plant with a long history . . . Sphagnums are a group of beautiful mosses that grow naturally on bogs in the UK - an amazing plant whose special qualities could be one of the answers to climate change, sucking up gases released from farming. 40 The Fens | September 2020

These simple plants have lots of tiny pores that suck up water from their surroundings: the moss gathers moisture from the air in misty weather, collects rain water and draws up soil water to where it is needed. As well as absorbing 10 times more fluid than the same volume of cotton wool, they are naturally antiseptic and were used in bandages and nappies in World War 1. Once it grows into a continuous lawn, sphagnum can out compete weeds and doesn’t need fertiliser; the soil beneath is protected by remaining moist and, as the sphagnum grows, it can trap additional carbon and actually grow soil. One of the other key benefits of this moss is that you can harvest the top (it grows right back) then dry and mill the harvest to create a substitute for peat compost for growing seedlings. This means that growing our own ‘compost’ for vegetable producers and horticulturalists to use – preventing peat from being harvested from wild, natural bogs and wetlands and transported from as far away as New Zealand or China. Sphagnum is a contender for the longest lived plants on the planet. Each strand of moss grows ever longer, with the bottom turning slowly into peat.


As many of our bogs have been forming since the ice age some of the individual strands may have been alive for as long as 8000 years. As planting gets back underway this month after a long pause since March, the first bed of nine will be filled with bulrush – an amazing super hungry plant which will strip the incoming water of impurities and feed clean water to the rest of the beds. This crop can be turned into fuel, building materials, animal feed and cavity wall insulation. The other beds will then be planted with reeds, future grain crops, and flowers which could be the next thing in medicine or flavourings – think tasty beer or a new gin botanical! There will be 11 novel crops: fenland species which have had a variety of uses in the past and have future potential. Food – watercress, wild celery, bilberry and water mint; flavourings – meadowsweet, bog myrtle; and medicinal uses– comfrey,

gypsywort, lady’s smock, yellow flag and hemp agrimony. A socially distanced army of nimble fingers will be busy planting in all the plugs and seedlings this autumn which have been held in various nurseries at sites across the country – some 200,000 plants were in the process of being propagated or were ready for delivery for planting. The two year Water Works project involves partners University of East London, experts in wet farming, and climate change experts at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, who are producing site-specific data to demonstrate carbon capture in this real-life setting (with paludiculture and nature conservation as the driving forces behind re-wetting.) Such data will be key in creating an evidence base for lowland peat carbon trading in the future. www.greatfen.org.uk/big-ideas Sphagnum moss images by Brian Eversham. Great Fen Water Works ground works by Henry Stanier.

FENS BIOSPHERE As part of the Water Works project, Cambridgeshire ACRE is spearheading a movement to create a UNESCO Fens Biosphere, a global accolade which recognises the unique character of the Fens and its people, shares learning and supports development through harnessing all sectors of society to work together to achieve sustainable outcomes – read more here www.fensbiosphere. org.uk/



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From the Fens

to the Mountains

Nick Livesey is a published author and award-winning landscape photographer, documenting hill walking in Snowdonia. But it was Fenland that first inspired him WORDS AND PHOTOS NICK LIVESEY

46 The Fens | September 2020


When horizontal rain and fierce westerlies aren’t battering the 20 inch thick walls of this old cottage the view from my living room window is sublime, taking in ancient woodland, lush pastures and three of the highest mountains in Wales. At almost 700 feet above sea level it is a far cry from the area in which I spent my formative years and much of my adulthood. In 1977, aged 4, I moved with my family from Manchester to Market Deeping which, to an impressionable child used to bustling city life, came as a revelation. Our home was on the northern fringe of what was then a sleepy little market town, “a one horse town populated with carrot crunchers” to quote mancunion family members who were frequent visitors to 123 Wellington Way. I was a strange little boy prone to flights of fancy and often adrift in wild fantasies of adventure and exploration. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the vast expanse of fenland couldn’t be a less adventurous arena in which to enact heroic exploits but adventure is an attitude born out of imagination and curiosity. Where many would see nothing but a featureless hinterland offering little of interest I perceived it as a mysterious realm of distant horizons and expansive skies. I found the wide open spaces unsettling; if something malevolent was out stalking in the fens there would be nowhere to hide should it decide to pay us a visit. The winter of 78/79 was a harsh one and I have vivid memories of walking to school on 6 foot snowdrifts imagining I was Chris Bonington on a great Himalayan mountain. I could never have imagined that 40 years later he would write the forward to my first book, ‘Photographing the Snowdonia Mountains’. It’s surprising where life can take us if we allow passion and imagination The Fens | September 2020


‘Snowdonia is a landscape photographer’s paradise and there is nowhere I would rather be. It isn’t, however, any more beautiful than Fenland, it just exhibits a different, more obvious kind of beauty’

to be our guide. In 1981 we moved again, this time to Peterborough where I lived until my mid 30s. Once again it was a culture shock as I had grown accustomed to the freedom afforded by life in the countryside. I have always thought of Peterborough as a frontier town both geographically and culturally. To the west the landscape changes abruptly from the lowlands of the Fens to the gentle undulations of Rutland and Northamptonshire. It was at this time that several new townships were nearing completion and incomers looking for work arrived, profoundly changing the face of the city while in the Fens to the east life carried on as it had done for decades. I often thought back to my days in Deeping and yearned to go back, envying friends who lived in villages such as Sawtry, Glinton, Castor and Ailsworth. Fortunately my family home was within walking distance of Ferry Meadows which I got know very well along with a stretch of the Nene Valley 48 The Fens | September 2020

between Alwalton and Wansford. My friends and I would go on long walks and bike rides, camp out at Milton Ferry, swim in the Nene and fish for Pike. Lynch Lake was also a favourite place to swim in the mid 80s when there was a decent beach there, most of us preferring to tread water rather than put our feet down into the gloopy bed of the lake. I didn’t realise it at the time but I had become an outdoor enthusiast. Those days are now mere memories and after Blue Green Algae was detected no one swam there again and the beach was gradually reclaimed by vegetation and trees. In my twenties I discovered the upland areas of Britain through books borrowed from my local library. I immersed myself in photographs of the Lake District, Scotland and Snowdonia, soon becoming obsessed with the idea of exploring those magnificent landscapes, the likes of which I had no idea existed in the small collection of islands that make up the British Isles. I viewed them in much the same way as I did the Fens as


Nick’s top tips for enjoying the outdoors Comfort and Safety

It’s no secret that the UK ‘enjoys’ variable weather conditions and when venturing into the great outdoors it’s important to be properly equipped but this doesn’t mean spending hundreds of pounds on expensive kit. Sturdy, well fitting footwear, waterproof jacket and trousers are all you need to get started. Take appetising food and plenty of fluids for your day. Check weather forecasts and plan accordingly.

Where to walk?

Britain is unique in that it has an extensive network of footpaths, bridleways and public rights of way. Invest in an Ordnance Survey map of the area in which you wish to walk. If you are less confident then guidebooks to every part of the country are available.

Respect the Environment

Respecting the environments in which we walk is an important principle in enjoying the outdoors. A good maxim is to take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints. Aim to leave as little trace of your passing as possible.

a boy; I was intrigued, inspired and a little fearful of what I might find in an environment I didn’t yet understand. Twelve months later I found myself face to face with my first mountains, the Langdale Pikes in the Lake District. Along with two of my oldest friends I climbed Harrison Stickle on a day that changed my life and set me on a path that ultimately led to a career in Snowdonia. We were daunted by the task in hand and relied heavily on each other for moral support on what was the biggest adventure we had ever undertaken. Our lowland legs complained every step of the way but the incredible views kept us going until at last we reached the summit. Throughout the ascent I had been scared stiff but for me, things would never be the same again. The genie was out of the bottle. The next couple of years saw us visiting the mountains several times a year but eventually my friends got married and started families which meant our trips would be less frequent. That wasn’t going to work for me, I was well and

truly hooked and made enquiries into joining the Peterborough Mountaineering Club. The idea of a mountaineering club in one of the world’s flattest places may seem an unlikely one but the ‘PMC’ was formed in the 1950s and they soon acquired an old quarryman’s cottage in Snowdonia for the princely sum of £60. In those days not many folk had cars and once a month club members would charter a bus to take them to Wales to enjoy all forms of mountaineer from hillwalking right through to ice climbing and skiing in the winter months. I was nervous about joining but if I wanted to get to the hills more often it seemed the best way to do it so I signed up for my first meet and quickly found an eclectic group of people bound together by a shared passion. It didn’t matter if you were a doctor or a toilet cleaner, gay or straight, the mountains are a great leveller and soon strip away any notions of one person being inherently better than another. For the next ten years I visited the club ‘hut’ at least once a month and eventually joined the committee as members secretary. In that time I became a proficient rock climber and winter mountaineer struggling to remember a life which didn’t revolve around mountains. Overcoming adversity in potentially dangerous situations and sharing a joy that is unique to wild places has formed bonds of friendship and a camaraderie that will last a lifetime. I became eager to promote these gifts to others who, like me, may have been struggling in an urban setting. I wanted to become a writer but with no formal qualifications I failed to get a foot in the door but found I had an eye for photography. I was a prolific contributor of illustrated articles in the club magazine which over a number of years gave me plenty of scope for honing my craft. After leaving school I had been somewhat adrift but I now had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do with myself; I wanted to live in the mountains, write about and take photographs of them and, perhaps, gain a mountain leader qualification so I could introduce others to the love of my life. But

The Fens | September 2020


how? I had very little money and not one GCSE to my name. Maybe I was destined to live an unfulfilled life spent in dead end jobs where my only release would be weekends and holidays away in the hills. “Know your place, Livesey. Get back in your box!” How I came to achieve those ambitions and more besides is a story for another time but I am certain that our move to that little Fenland town all those years ago and being allowed to roam freely in nature played a big part in how my life has panned out. Snowdonia is a landscape photographer’s paradise and there is nowhere I would rather be. It isn’t, however, any more beautiful than Fenland, it just exhibits a different, more obvious kind of beauty where the photographer doesn’t have to work so hard to create a pleasing image. Beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder and our perception of what constitutes a beautiful landscape is governed by the emotions it evokes in us and the extent to which we feel connected to a particular scene. By the time I had been bitten by the photography bug I was living in Rockingham near Corby and spent my time getting to know the Welland Valley when not in the hills. As a consequence I never got to shoot the landscapes of Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, the Fens, apart from once. Out of the blue I remembered a spooky little cottage we used drive past on childhood trips to Hunstanton. I wracked my brains to recall where it was and failing miserably I searched the internet and with the aid of Google street view I found it. One morning, I rose early and drove from Rockingham and parked at the Dalmark grain silo near Thorney. There it was, Canary Cottage. Waiting in the pre-dawn made for an eerie vigil but gave me time to compose the image in a way that maximised the sense of isolation. At first light I took the shot and scarpered, for I was sure I could hear the faint refrain of a banjo somewhere. One day I shall return.

About the author

Nick Livesey is an author, award winning landscape photographer, videographer and qualified mountain leader based in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park. His words and images are regularly featured in the national outdoor press and he runs photographic workshops, hill skills courses and guided days in the mountains of North Wales. Photographing The Snowdonia Mountains is available from Amazon.co.uk

www.nickliveseymountainimages.com 50 The Fens | September 2020

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A Q&A With Psychological Thriller Writer S.E. Lynes

My book review this month is The Lies We Hide by the lovely Susie Lynes. A moving story that explores the fall-out of domestic abuse and the far-reaching ripple effect it has on all those involved. Although her sixth published novel, Susie informs me it was the first book she ever wrote and is therefore very close to her heart. Here, we find out why, and get to know her a little better…

I’ve now read three of your novels and I’ve loved them all! But for me, The Lies We Hide was particularly good. Why is this story so close to your heart? Thank you! The Lies We Hide is my only non-thriller. So perhaps there was more latitude, more depth. It is close to my heart because it is pulled from my roots. When I spent a day in Lancaster prison for research, I found I didn’t need to change anything about my character Graham because I went to school with boys like him. TLWH is the first book I ever wrote, and I was grateful

to Bookouture for publishing it for me. The final version benefitted from all the elements of craft I’d learnt over the years through writing thrillers. And finally, the question I love to ask all writers! For anyone thinking of becoming a writer, what advice would you offer? Write every day. Set yourself a time and don’t agree to anything else at that time. Write before you do your chores because they will always get done while your writing will not. Take it seriously. You don’t have to tell anyone you’re taking it

Welcome Susie, thanks for chatting to me. Can you tell our readers a little about yourself – I understand you used to work as a producer for the BBC? I used to be a radio programme producer for the BBC in Scotland. I started by making fiveminute features and progressed to producing a weekly magazine show. I left the BBC when I moved to Rome with my husband, Paul, and two kids, Alistair and Maddie. We lived there for five years before moving to Teddington. By this time we had our third child, Francesca. After settling the troops, I did a creative writing course at my local adult college, then an MA in creative writing and went on to teach creative writing at Richmond Adult Community College. I wrote four novels before I broke through with my debut, Valentina.

Write every day. Set yourself a time and don’t agree to anything else at that time. Write before you do your chores because they will always get done while your writing will not

seriously; this can be your secret. Only do it if, when you sit down to write, you ‘awake’ hours later with no awareness of time passing. If you never get around to doing it, maybe writing is not for you. It’s not for everyone, and there is no shame in that. Try and hold on to the fact that being rubbish or thinking you’re rubbish is part of the process. Ask yourself: do I enjoy it? If the answer is yes, carry on. The rest is just vanity.

- Eva Jordon is a mother of two and published local author of 183 Times a Year, All the Colours Between and Time Will Tell. You can find out more about her by visiting www.EvaJordanWriter.com or find her on Twitter and Facebook: @evajordanwriter The Fens | September 2020


Next stages of MTD Making Tax Digital, MTD, celebrated its first birthday in April this year just as the country locked down to battle the pandemic. Covid-19 has not stopped HM Revenue & Customs fine-tuning its plans for the next stages of a digital tax system fit for the modern world. Writes Stephen Malkin The government has now drafted its agenda for the next steps for a 21st century tax structure which is part of the Treasury’s ambitious long-term tax digitisation plan. It is designed to increase national productivity, make it easier for businesses and people to pay tax, reduce avoidable errors and fraud. At present under MTD all businesses above the VAT threshold of £85,000 are required to keep digital records and provide VAT returns through software which is compatible with that of HMRC. The Treasury says MTD affects the way that taxes are reported, not the level of tax that is collected and will help to minimise avoidable mistakes – which cost the exchequer £8.5 billion in 2018-19. The next stage will be introduced in April 2022 when the MTD programme will be extended to all VAT registered businesses with turnover below the VAT threshold of £85,000. Then from April 2023, it will apply to taxpayers who file income tax selfassessment tax returns for business or property income over £10,000 annually. The long lead-in time will allow businesses, landlords and agents time to plan. It also gives software providers enough notice to bring a range of new products to market, including free software for businesses with the simplest tax affairs. The legislation and detail are included in the 2020-21 Finance Bill. Consultation is due in the Autumn around extending MTD to incorporated businesses with Corporation Tax obligations.

54 The Fens | September 2020

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The best BBQ happens after lots of preparation. These beef ribs are amazing when finished over hot coals. Here’s John McGinn’s, head chef at Dog in a Doublet, recipe

INGREDIENTS 2 kg beef short ribs 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano 3/4 teaspoon cayenne salt and ground black pepper to taste 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil 1 1/2 small onions, sliced 6 cloves garlic, smashed 1 pint of lager or ale 500ml beef stock 1 1/2 tbls soy sauce 1 ½ tbls

METHOD 1. Season short ribs with paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. 2. Heat oil in pan then cook short ribs until browned, about 3 minutes per side; transfer to a plate. 3. Cook and stir onion and garlic in the oil remaining in the pan until softened, about 2 minutes. 4. Pour beer into the pan to deglaze, scraping browned bits of food from the bottom of the pan with a flat-edged wooden utensil; bring to a simmer and cook until reduced slightly, about 2 minutes.

5. Stir beef broth and soy sauce with the onion mixture. Lay short ribs with the liquid in a single layer in an oven pan. 6. Cover with foil and cook in the oven at 170oC for 3-4 hours. 7. Transfer ribs to a container. When ready to BBQ they just need browning over the coals. Baste the ribs with the juices. This dish works very well with lamb shanks or pork knuckles at the same time and temperature. It can also be served as a one bowl dish with some veg and noodles and some extra marinade. You could even serve the meat in a bun with a good coleslaw. We pressure cook these for even more flavour and they only take an hour. .

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As pet owners we all want the best for our pets. With over 100 years of veterinary care for Huntingdonshire’s pets, a fully equipped pet hospital, home visit service, rehabilitation centre & our own 24hr emergency service nearby in Huntingdon - why not choose Cromwell Vets to keep your pet healthy & happy?

Cromwell ARC specialises in tailored rehabilitation programmes to help get your pet back on their feet. We welcome pets from all veterinary practices.

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Cromwell Vets

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Build the Fantastic Fens Use LEGO® bricks to build a model of something you can see in the fantastic Fens and win a LEGO® gift card! Open to all ages. Entrants will be split into two age categories, under 12 yrs old and over 12 yrs old.

How to enter: build your model, take a photo send it to us. Date: 3 August to 11 September 2020. Prizes: two £50 LEGO® gift cards and two £75 gift cards

Terms and conditions apply. Visit Fens Biosphere website for instructions on how to take part and watch videos from our Fantastic Fens wildlife sites to inspire you - fensbiosphere.org.uk

The Fens Biosphere Partnership is hosted by Cambridgeshire ACRE and is supported by funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery Postcode Dream Fund as part of the Water Works project awarded to the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. Cambridge ACRE is registered in England as a charity (no.1074032) and a company limited by guarantee (no.3690881).

The Fens | September 2020




Fenland is an area rich with wildlife, beautiful landscape and wonderful skies. This month we asked you to share your favourite wildlife walks over the past month and you didn’t disappoint.....

Dragonfly at Woodwalton Fen on a Vetch flower by Chris Donohoe @donnyoutdoors

Photo by Jamie Corney taken with permission at E C Brown and Sons Farm

Photo by Kev Adcock taken whilst out on his kayak near Whittlesey

Photo by Robert Stoppard taken at Brancaster beach

60 The Fens | September 2020

FARM TO ….. A family run farm for over 100 years. Ten minutes from St Ives & Huntingdon. Visit a variety of traditional and some more unusual animals -from cows, pigs, buffalo, deer to parrots and crocodiles.

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Please note: Our steak house is currently closed due to the pandemic. We are not taking bookings at this time. The Fens | September 2020



HACKING OF PASSWORDS FAREWELL TO OLLIE For the past five years I have had the pleasure of Oliver Cole working with me here at AA Whittlesey Computers Ltd. Originally he joined as a parttime Saturday/Sunday assistant whilst at Sir Harry Smith, then graduated through to working additional hours that suited him and his studies. From there he moved to Peterborough Regional College where he studied Level 3 Advanced Technical Extended Diploma in Digital Technologies and, at the time of writing this, he is awaiting his final grades which I expect to all be Distinction/Distinction.*   He is leaving to join De Montfort Universitiy where he will study Cyber Security and already has his work placement for 2023/24 agreed in California, with Tesla.   Simply, well done Ollie. It’s  been more than a pleasure working with you and seeing you grow from a young lad to an, about to become, successful young man and we wish you every success in the future. Next Ollie will write the rest of the article on Cyber Security... 62 The Fens | September 2020

Every month, AA Whittlesey Computers will be providing an article on laptop/ Computer Technical issues. This month, Len and Deborah want to share important information about password hacking, as well as big a fond farewell to Ollie....

HACKING OF PASSWORDS Hackers generally use about three or four different methods to hack/crack passwords (ignoring the scamming aspects where you provide the information). • THE MAIN ONES ARE: Brute Force – where the computer tries every combination of every type of number, letter, symbol there is on a computer keyboard. For a simple five letter password without numbers or symbols, it would probably be cracked in 5/10 minutes, whereas with an eight-digit combination of symbols/numbers say, 45 minutes/one hour. Dictionary – where the computer is fed, say, the Oxford Dictionary and/or modified dictionaries with custom words and by matching words the hack eventually completes. Leading Edge – where it takes a dictionary and, as the complexity of the word builds, it substitutes commonly used symbols for letters e.g Password becomes P@ssword or P@ssw0rd, etc...

Combination Attack – by using a combination of any of the above. A good password is one which would withstand, say, 60 hours of attack and will consist of a total of minimum ten digits comprising two symbols, three numbers, two uppercase letters and three lower case letters. The following password withstood 60 hours of attack: JH~5vQ1bI4 And frankly, if a hacker wants to spend more than 60 hours cracking your password, you really must have something worthwhile to hack! Finally, having read this and, perhaps, decided to change your passwords, don’t just leave it until tomorrow, but sit down and change them all now – as I just did... Happy computing, Len and Deborah Find AA Whittlesey Computers now at Grosvenor Road, Whittlesey PE7 1AQ. Get in touch at 01733 601663 or 07540 444262.























01733 601663 | 07540 444 262




The Cinemas Strike Back: This Time It’s Personal (Protective Equipment) Nathan Smith from the Luxe Cinema looks at the challenges (and positives) of re-opening It goes without saying that many of us find a trip to the cinema to be a bout of pure escapism, allowing us to leave the stresses of Geoff’s constant emails complaining that the office vending machine doesn’t stock Maltesers (we get it Geoff… you like Maltesers!) behind and lose ourselves in a cinematic adventure. But then Covid-19 swept the globe and the ‘New-Normal’ means that for most of us, life has changed. So how can cinemas keep the escapism alive while the ever-present smell of hand sanitiser hangs in the air? As a cinema manager my number one priority is guest experience. I – like many others in the industry – hold a firm belief that while we have no control over the quality of the films you see, we are absolutely responsible for ensuring that your visit is comfortable, stress-free and enjoyable. As such, this is the area that in many ways is proving to be the biggest challenge in terms of reopening. The fact is, many cinemas are actually in a good position to

64 The Fens | September 2020

be Covid-secure, on account of having allocated seating which makes it easier to block out specific seats to allow for social distancing as well as having guest details as part of the booking process so if there was any suggestion that someone having tested positive following a visit, we would be in a good position to help with tracking and tracing. We are also equipped with ropes and queuing systems by default, so that’s all good too… but that doesn’t necessarily cover everything and with enhanced cleaning (including some rather fancy Ghostbusters-style ‘foggers’ for sterilizing the auditorium and rest rooms between showings), sneeze guards around the bar area and effective guest-management become necessary for everyone’s protection, confidence and ultimately comfort. Government advice at the time of writing - and let’s be honest it is almost impossible to commit anything to print that might still be accurate by the time you read it, so if the advice is

now ‘Carry a Banana at All Times’, just pretend I wrote that – is that Face Coverings should be worn in cinemas, except when eating/drinking, which was a welcome shift as we were always planning on advising guests to have face coverings just to keep any risk as negligible as possible. Given that the world of film is full to the brim of mask wearing heroes and villains, it also seems entirely appropriate that the audience should have the opportunity to be cinemagoing ninjas for a little while. Sure, all these measures are a bit of a faff. We know. But it allows us all to be the hero of the hour. It allows us all to relax a little more, safe in the knowledge that we are being looked after and allows us to forget that Geoff is threatening to chain himself to the water cooler in protest of what he calls ‘Malty Discrimination’ for a couple of hours. And what more can we ask but that? So go out, support your local cinema – especially a really cool little indie one like mine – and be the mask-wearing hero.

This month’s Book Review

Resident author Eva Jordan shares her latest reads...

THE LIES WE HIDE By Susie Lynes; Published by Bookouture The Lies We Hide is a family drama narrated through four main voices, namely Carol, her two children Graham and Nicola, and Richard, a prison chaplain. As stories go it is an uncomfortable read. However, it is written with such compassion and authenticity it’s difficult to put down. Mainly because, rather than just focussing on the day-to-day fear of living with an abusive partner, which the author does chillingly brilliant at times – “his anger [she thinks] will write itself on her body later, invisible ink that reveals its black message by degrees” – she also pans back, showing us the much wider picture. Including the terrible decisions that those affected by domestic violence sometimes choose to make. When confronted with long-term domestic violence, whether that means being directly on the receiving end of it or simply witnessing and/ or hearing it on a day-to-day basis, everyone copes and reacts differently. Carol, an abused wife, will do anything to protect her children. Whereas Graham, Carol’s son becomes, “silent, since speaking was difficult; violent, since no one speaks out against a fist; mean, since kindness got you nowhere”. Later, Graham finds himself in prison for murder but eventually finds redemption by confessing to Richard, a voluntary chaplain who, it turns out, is also struggling with his own demons. Then there is Nicola, Graham’s sister and Carol’s studious daughter. Nicola is younger than her brother and therefore somewhat shielded from her father’s violence. She chooses a different path to Graham and makes her escape through hard work and education. However, when her mother passes away, Nicola discovers the true extent of the sacrifices made on her behalf. The lengths her mother and brother went to to protect her, enabling her to become the successful city lawyer she eventually becomes – which in part is influenced by her brother’s incarceration. The lies, in fact, they have hidden from her...

LOOKING FORWARD There will be a USA Presidential election (probably) 3rd November this year. Usually in times of high unemployment the USA elect a Democratic candidate, currently there is high unemployment – what impact might all of these things have on investments? Investors (professional and private) tend to seek out stocks that look good for future growth, as COVID-19 takes its international course there will be winners and losers. Information and expertise are important, so is sound independent advice. In the UK, our Treasury Select Committee has embarked on some important investigations and projects. One is on the broad issue of ‘Tax after the Coronavirus’ with a remit to consider ‘what is the right balance between taxation of work, savings/pensions and wealth’. Coupled with the Public Accounts Committee producing a report on the ‘Management of Tax Reliefs’. It is critical of the Treasury and HMRC who are ‘insufficiently curious about the impact of some key tax reliefs on different groups’. Also, the Chancellor may return to a review of Inheritance Tax that was commissioned in 2019. Especially as it has been reported that IHT receipts have fallen for the first time in 10 years. All this is reason enough to fully review your financial planning, especially if the value of your estate could attract the attention of a Chancellor looking for taxes to collect. Arrange a free initial meeting/virtual meeting to go through the matters you know are of concern, even more importantly if you don’t know whether you should be concerned speak to an Independent Financial Adviser.

Eamonn Dorling Dip PFS, Senior Independent Financial Adviser. Brooks Wealth Management Tel: 01733 314553 Mob: 07767 795816 Email: Eamonn@brookswealth.co.uk Brooks Wealth Management is a trading style of Ampris Limited who are an appointed representative of Wealthline Limited, registered in England 08761632 (Registered office: 8a Cowgate, Peterborough) Wealthline Limited are authorised and regulated by The Fens | September the Financial Conduct Authority 684319 2020 65


The Fenland Mum

Pause, Breathe, be Mindful New columnist Hazel Beecroft shares her journey of motherhood whilst living on the edge of the Fens


didn’t intend to write about lockdown when I became a columnist for THE FENS. I planned to write about being a mum, living in the countryside, and achieving that elusive work–life balance. But lockdown caught us off-guard and decimated work–life balance, resetting boundaries and redefining normal. I had to write about lockdown. With restrictions slowly lifting (watch this space) I reflect on what happened, dissecting the past as if lockdown died and a post-mortem was ordered. I do this cautiously, because lockdown may resurrect. Initial findings suggest I should award myself a medal. As a full time working mum, I never want to compromise (cue horse riding at dawn and writing at dusk). It’s exhausting, but that’s just how I function. If I have a spare five minutes, instead of sitting down with a cup of coffee and a magazine (exceptions made for THE FENS), I look around to see what else I could feasibly cram in. For someone with this disposition, lockdown was survivable, but only just. I realise now how close to the edge I teetered. I cried daily. I snapped at everyone. I had a firsttime panic attack. I was tired and usually hungry because I forgot to eat. I drank too much, and it felt justified. I didn’t drink whilst crying, which I suppose is something. I experienced mum guilt magnified. The lowest moment, summing it all up, came when our toddler was playing in the spare room unsupervised (yes, unsupervised) and went quiet. I was alerted to it by my husband calling her name, his voice fearful. I found him shaking her. She had only fallen asleep, wrapped up tightly in the duvet, and possibly we overreacted, but it was without doubt the most scared I’ve ever been. Our situation was unsustainable at best, impossible at worst, and millions of us were somehow doing it, juggling childcare with work with having to watch the evening news, cut off from our broader support networks. We were in it 66 The Fens | September 2020

together but also alone, our families knew we were struggling but were not allowed to help. We were completely overwhelmed. But we survived. The work got done, the childminder reopened, my mother-in-law made us pretty face masks. Life crept closer ABOUT THE AUTHOR Hazel Beecroft grew up around to normality. NonCambridgeshire and lives with essential shops her husband, daughter and reopened and two horses on the edge of The ‘support bubbles’ Fens. She is a self-published formed. Verity went author of equestrian fiction back to the park. - complete with romance, I returned to the conflict and drama (to keep office and didn’t the protagonist busy) - all set in flinch at notices on the Fens. Find her books online doors and stickers at Amazon.co.uk, available in on floors advising both paperback and e-book. social distancing, Follow her on Facebook hand sanitiser @HazelBeecroftAuthor or Instagram @hazel_beecroft for stations, carefully spaced out desks. I regular updates on her riding visited London the and writing. day face coverings became compulsory in shops, and was stirred by the sight of determined customers, visibly uncomfortable as they cautiously browsed. There is confusion and debate over what we can and can’t do, so conversation never runs dry. We survived the pandemic. If this is just the first peak, so be it, we are resilient. Lockdown taught us to practice mindfulness; to pause, breathe, acknowledge feelings and explore thoughts, such as, ‘have the toilet roll hoarders caught up yet?’.

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The Fens September 2020  

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