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A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens


Issue 21 | December 2019

Inside this issue FESTIVE RECIPES



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ED’S letter

The December issue is always my absolute favourite issue, for many reasons. Everybody is feeling festive and my lovely contributors and advertisers send such lovely Christmassy-themed pieces in. I get to research lots of pretty gifts and I get to design my December cover, which is always a bit special. The last few years we have opted for very traditional festive images, but we are so thrilled with the 2019 cover picture, as taken by Kevin Sawford. What a gorgeous wintry squirrel, just perfect for this issue. Of course, we can’t guarantee there will be snow but I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for this Christmas... As well as our annual Christmas gift guide, this issue also features some festive recipes, courtesy of our friends Riverford Organic. We also had the pleasure of meeting and looking around The Stamford Notebook Co. and Richard Groom has taken a look back in time at Fenland in winter. It’s another packed issue and we hope you enjoy reading. Most importantly, I would like to wish all our readers, advertisers, contributors and delivery teams a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


THIS month 12 Visiting Stamford Notebook Co.

32 Mindful of wildlife

17 Your garden in December

38 Making the best of Fenland winters

18 Digging up the past

40 Recipe of the month

24 A Fenland Christmas lunch

44 Amy’s walk of the month

28 The best local festive gifts to buy in the area

48 Events in your area


50 WIN tickets to Vivacity’s panto: Beauty & The Beast



PUBLISHER / EDITOR Natasha Shiels EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Amy Corney SUB EDITOR Theresa Shiels DESIGN TEAM Natasha Shiels Charlotte Whittaker Vinny Clarke PHOTOGRAPHY Chris Brudenell ADVERTISING SALES Cassie Ward 07734 952626 ACCOUNTS 07511 662566 SUBSCRIPTIONS To subscribe for just £12 for 6 issues, contact us at CONTRIBUTORS Caroline Fitton |Gareth Monger | Garry Monger | John McGinn | Steve Barclay MP | Richard Groom | Lauren Bremner DISTRIBUTION

Printed monthly to the villages Emneth, Gorefield, Leverington, Murrow, Newton, Parson Drove, Tydd St. Giles, Wisbech St. Mary, Outwell plus Wisbech centre

A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens


THE TEAM @thefensmag thefensmag

Issue 21 | December 2019

Inside this issue FESTIVE RECIPES



Snow Squirrel by Kevin Sawford @kevin_sawford_photography

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

The Fens | December 2019



Divorce Separation Children Issues Financial Concerns Pre-Nuptial Agreements Co-Habitation Agreements

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GREEN DOG WALKERS SCHEME Dog owners and their four-legged friends have pledged to help stop dog fouling in their community following the launch of Fenland’s fifth Green Dog Walkers scheme. Wisbech became the latest community to launch the scheme on Wednesday (October 23), alongside March, Chatteris, Whittlesey and Wimblington. Wisbech Town Council and Fenland District Council joined forces for the latest initiative, which encourages dog owners to clean up after their pets in a non-confrontational and friendly way. A total of 27 dog owners registered over 30 dogs at its launch in Wisbech Park, which was attended by Cllr Peter Murphy, Fenland District Council’s Portfolio Holder for the Environment. Everyone who signs up to the scheme pledges to always clean up after their dog, carry extra dog waste bags, be happy to provide a bag to those without one, and be a friendly

reminder to other dog walkers to pick up after their pets. In return, they receive a Green Dog Walker dog tag to display on their dog’s lead or collar and a roll of dog waste bags. Cllr Murphy said: “As with other Fenland communities, the vast majority of dog owners in Wisbech are responsible and will always pick up after their pet. Unfortunately there remain some who continue to blight our open green spaces with dog fouling. “Green Dog Walkers is an excellent way to tackle the issue, with responsible dog owners helping us to raise awareness, change people’s attitudes about dog fouling and encourage more responsible dog ownership.” For more information about joining one of the district’s Green Dog Walkers schemes – or to enquire about launching a new one in your community – contact the Council’s Street Scene team via email at: Witnessed dog fouling? Owners who fail to clean up after their dogs can be reported online at: www.fenland. The public’s help makes it easier to catch offenders.

DON’T MISS POSTING YOUR LETTER TO SANTA The NSPCC’s annual Letter from Santa can be ordered now for December delivery to ensure they arrive at the right time to get little ones excited. This Christmas parents can build their little ones a personalised Letter from Santa and feel good by doing their part to support children in need this Christmas by donating £5 to the NSPCC. It’s a gift your family will treasure. And, with a suggested donation of £5 you'll be helping support children who need it most this Christmas. The money will help the charity continue to provide vital services like Childline, which can often be the only place vulnerable young people can turn to over the holidays. Choose the perfect letter for your little one from 8 new illustrations like ‘Reindeer Flying Practice’, ‘Christmas

Disco’ and ‘Elves are Ready to Go!’. Tailor with the child’s name, address, gender, age, hobbies, best friend or family member’s name and a special message for a magical start to Christmas. Letters are age appropriate, with shorter text that is easier to read for younger children and longer letters for more advanced readers. The letters are also available in English and Welsh.

The deadline for ordering letters is 26 November for overseas, 4 December for Europe and 16 December for UK. You can order your letter (suggested £5 donation) here: https://

The Fens | December 2019


LYNCROFT CARE HOME HOST SUCCESSFUL OPEN DAYS TO SHOWCASE LUXURY Lyncroft Care Home on Clarkson Avenue in Wisbech enjoyed a successful weekend showcasing the extension and refurbishment project that has been ongoing for the past few months. The new areas of the home were declared officially open on Friday when the ribbon was cut by Mayor of Wisbech, Cllr Michael Hill and Rt Hon Stephen Barclay, MP for North East Cambridgeshire. During the weekend over one hundred visitors had the opportunity to take a tour of the home, meet the staff team and sample the delicious food on offer. The residential care home has an additional 14 en-suite bedrooms, plus refurbished lounge and dining areas, bistro café and even its own pub. Staff at the home were inundated with positive comments and praise for the home, many visitors commented “It’s like a five-star hotel” and “It’s wonderful, very luxurious and homely too”. The hospitality team were on hand to ensure everyone had plenty to eat and drink with a selection of dishes to try including mini roast beef sliders, roast chicken, fish and chip cones and a wide variety of delicious cakes and biscuits to sample. The ‘Fisherman’s Arms’ pub was a particular favourite with visitors who were very impressed with the authentic pub, which gives residents the opportunity to have a drink with their visiting family and friends as well as, enjoy pub quizzes, games and fish and chip suppers. Other new areas of the home include a hairdressing salon, spa room, and library. The

home features quiet seating areas in corridors where residents can rest for a moment and enjoy the themed décor. The interior design has been carefully chosen to offer opportunities for reminiscing using old photographs from the local area and talking points, with themes such as vintage motoring with maps, books, and items to look at or read. The refurbishment has not stopped with the inside of the home. All outside areas have been updated, with a secure courtyard area and gardens around the home ready for residents to use and enjoy. There are areas of interest such as a fishpond in the courtyard and sculpture of a stag

in the garden, in the summer residents will be encouraged to help with the gardening and plant vegetables and herbs. Lyncroft Care Home is part of the Country Court Care Group, a familyowned and run business founded in 1983, with the company philosophy “Our family caring for yours”. Country Court Care has won numerous Great British Care Awards. In 2015 the company was awarded Health Investor Residential Care Provider of the Year and is in the ‘Top 20 Large Care Home Groups 2019’. Find out more at countrycourtcare. co/lyncroft-care-home-wisbech

Hold Your Event Your Way and Support Macmillan There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to raising money for a great cause, which is why Macmillan Cancer Support has recently launched the Your Event campaign. The charity has created a ‘Your Event’ pack to help supporters feel confident in hosting their own fundraiser, which is available here: This handy step by step guide navigates the supporter through the planning process and provides useful ideas, tips and advice on how to access further resources. Macmillan wants its supporters to feel empowered, informed and well equipped to have an enjoyable and successful fundraising experience. 8

The Fens | December 2019

Fundraising Manager for the East of England, Michelle Hutchinson, said: “As well as the guidance pack, Macmillan can supply template posters and tickets, merchandise and items to decorate your event venue. I’m also based locally and can provide additional support to event organisers where needed.” The concept of fundraising your own way is growing across the sector. Trends have shown that supporters are choosing to fundraise their own way, playing to their strengths and hosting a fundraiser that lends itself to their skills, interests and networks. There are approximately 28,000 people living with cancer in Cambridgeshire. As more people are being diagnosed and treatments

improve, this figure is expected to increase dramatically over the next ten years – to an estimated 46,000 people by 2030. Macmillan wants to be there for people living with cancer from the point of diagnosis, whatever cancer throws their way. The charity is almost entirely funded by donations and relies on the public to reach the growing number of people who need their help in dealing with the complex physical, financial and emotional impact of a diagnosis. If you would like to fundraise for Macmillan, sign up to raise money your way at uk/yourevent or call 0300 1000 200.

Grants available to help residents Homeowners are being offered help to reduce their energy bills and keep warm and well in their homes this winter thanks to a new grant scheme from Fenland District Council. Grants are available from the council’s Better Care Fund to install first-time gas central heating or to cover some, or all, of the cost of repairing or replacing broken or inefficient household boilers and electric storage heaters. The funding will help qualifying residents to save money on their fuel bills and improve the energy efficiency of their homes while keeping them warm and cosy. The scheme is available to Fenland residents who own their property and have bills and benefits registered to that address. Homeowners must also receive a means tested benefit to qualify for the scheme, or have a low household income with high energy bills. Elderly residents, those with a young family, pregnant women or residents with a health condition made worse by the cold, could also qualify for

funding. Cllr Samantha Hoy, Fenland District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: “I’m delighted that we’re able to offer this funding to residents who need support heating their homes. It will not only help them to reduce their fuel bills, but it will reduce the likelihood of health related issues brought on by living in a cold, damp home. I would urge anyone who thinks they might be eligible to receive support to get in touch.” Residents can also be referred for potential funding consideration by the council’s energy partner PECT (Peterborough Environment City Trust). PECT offers free home energy advice visits to Fenland residents as part of its Warm Homes project with the council, and will refer any residents they feel may be eligible. To find out more about the grant scheme and to check if you qualify, visit: heatinghelp or contact the council on 01354 654321. • The scheme is available to residents

who own their property. If you live in a social rented property and your boiler or heating isn’t working properly, you should contact your housing association to make them aware of the problem. If you are renting privately, you will need to contact your landlord or letting agency. • To find out more about the Warm Homes project with PECT, and to book a free home energy advice visit, contact 01733 866440 or visit: www.

STREET LIGHTING GOES GREEN IN WISBECH PARK Street lighting in Wisbech Park has been given a green makeover in time for the darker winter months. Fenland District Council has completed a £23,000 street lighting upgrade at the park, replacing 12 existing street lights and installing six new ones using the latest, energy efficient LED technology. The upgrade will boost pedestrian safety and give local runners a safer place to train, while saving energy and improving lighting reliability. The six new LED lights were part funded with a £4,000 grant from Tesco’s Bags of Help community scheme, which was awarded following a joint bid from the council’s Active Fenland team and the Three Counties Running Club to improve lighting at the park. Profits from last year’s Active Fenland and Three Counties Halloween Run also went towards the new lights. Cllr Peter Murphy, the Council’s Cabinet member responsible for parks and open spaces, said: “I’m really pleased work to upgrade the street lighting in Wisbech Park has been completed in time for the darker winter months. “The lights will improve visibility, keep the park safe and well-lit for pedestrians and use 50% less energy

than conventional lamps. They will also reduce the number of lighting faults due to the LED’s reliability and reduce maintenance costs.” Three Counties coaches Gary Bligh and Richard Betts worked with Lauren Bremner, Active Fenland’s Senior Health and Active Lifestyle Officer, to secure the Tesco funding. “This is great news for everyone in Wisbech,” said Gary. “A safer, betterlit park works for the whole community and also gives local running clubs a safer place to train during the darker evenings.” Cllr Sam Clark, Fenland District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Social

Housing and Leisure, added: “It will be great to see more new people getting active this winter off the back of these works in the park. Previously, Active Fenland and Three Counties would usually only hold beginner running sessions in the lighter months, as the park was too dark in the winter and the roads too dangerous to start on, but the new lighting means new people can begin throughout the year.” • Runners of all abilities are welcome at Three Counties Running Club. To find out more, including days and times of sessions at Wisbech Park, visit: The Fens | December 2019






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There’s few things more satisfying to me than a really good notebook. In the age where everything is electronic, I take great pleasure in still writing notes on every place we visit and every person we interview for The Fens. So when I discovered that there is a traditional notebook maker living not only locally, but still using the same techniques and traditional artisan skills, I just had to pay them a visit. And so we found ourselves, as the name suggests, on an industrial unit in Stamford, meeting Hugo Spiegl of Spiegl Press Limited, to find out how The Stamford Notebook Co. came about. “Where shall I begin?” Hugo had asked me, to which I replied at the beginning and he chuckled. The beginning, for this robust, familyrun business takes us back to the 1950s; a time when printers and bookbinders were doing very well in Britain. Set up by his father, Spiegl Press Limited made stationery as well as bound books, pads and commercial press for local businesses such as solicitors. It was a time when if you needed headed paper, you would have to use a printing firm. The company did very well, thanks to loyal clients and its strong belief in good quality materials and a highly skilful workforce. But like many printers, the advances of technology and the drive for cheaper products which could be bought elsewhere, had a negative effect on business. The demand for ebooks, online media and advertising has all had an influence on the entire printing industry. The first online printing service, which was launched in 1995, allowed customers a new way to order their print. Smaller, local businesses simply couldn’t compete with their fast service and cheap prices, regardless of quality of end product.

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Where similar companies have ceased trading, Spiegl Press did something very clever, they diversified. Looking at his company, Hugo recognised what they had was special. Their company still had all the skills of artisan bookbinders and the printing machines (some which date back as far as 1948), as well as the knowledge of the best materials. Their response to a changing market was to evolve and create a product which they could sell commercially as well as to the public, which not only used all of their knowledge and expertise, but offered something which few others were doing. The

Stamford Notebook Co. was created. Trading for over six years to date, the lifestyle books, diaries, handmade leather refillable journals, leather accessories and notebooks have been hugely successful for Spiegl Press and it’s not difficult to see why. Just the notebooks alone are available in four sizes, in six different styles and with over 70 colours to choose from. There are endless combinations of Stamford Notebooks you could purchase. In fact, when we challenged Hugo and Aimee, their Product Developer, to give us an exact figure of how many different notebooks they could make onsite, they just smiled at us. It’s impossible, actually, because pretty much all of their notebooks can be personalised, therefore the answer would have to be plucked from the air. And that’s before you look at their other huge range of best-selling products. Each and every product starts its life exactly the same way. Materials are chosen by the team with one very important factor in mind - quality. For Hugo, price doesn’t come into question. The paper and fabrics for covering the books have got to be

the very best. “We use the finest materials and the finest British paper to create the very best product,” Hugo explained. And it is for this reason that The Stamford Notebook Co.’s products are sold globally. They offer luxury and longevity, they are relevant and made to endure the journey which they go on. It’s not about buying a cheap book but buying an artisan product, all handmade locally to last a lifetime. And what will the future hold for The Stamford Notebook Co.? “You have to keep investing in your skill-based team,” Hugo concluded, “and keep bringing out new product ranges. You have to be bold and brave, and stick to your guns.” With everyone talking about the importance of sustainability, it’s not surprising to see that Spiegl Press are evolving their business model to include more recycled materials, to maintain their high standard of using sustainable and accountable FSC paper. In fact, one of their newest ranges, ‘Elements of Nature’, is a totally

recyclable product which uses absolutely no plastics and is Vegan friendly. Buying from The Stamford Notebook Co. is championing a local British company. Their products are of the highest quality and they can be personalised in the same building in which they are made, making them an ideal gift, whatever the occasion. Each notebook comes handmade, beautifully presented and offers the receiver a gift of words, because in this modern age of computers, mobile phones and tablets, there’s still nothing better than the handwritten word, I can assure you. Corporate and bespoke orders are welcome. Find out more at www. or contact the team on 01778 762550 or team@ You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

WIN A BESPOKE NOTEBOOK To celebrate Christmas around the corner, we’re offering one lucky reader the chance to own and personalise a Stamford Notebook Co. product. The Bronze Buckram Notebook can be personlised with initials. To be in with a chance, simply email with the subject heading ‘Notebook’. Please include your contact details. We’d love to hear who you would give the notebook too (and yes, you can nominate yourself). Entries close after midnight on December 5th. Best of luck. The Fens | December 2019 13

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Most gardeners tend to think that everything in the garden is dormant in December. While this does tend to be the case there are still crops, plants and wildlife to protect from any winter frosts. The lawn will need to be kept clear of any remaining leaves and patio containers will need raising to avoid them sitting in the wet. The beginning of the month, however, will probably be dedicated to decorating the Christmas tree. For many people this is an essential part of their festive traditions and there’s nothing quite like a real Christmas tree to decorate a room and fill the home with that nostalgic seasonal aroma…

Looking good this month... Mahonia

CHOOSING A CHRISTMAS TREE There are several types of Christmas tree to choose from and if you’ve never had one before it can be hard to decide which will be best. NORDMANN FIR – this is the top choice for real indoor Christmas trees and has excellent needle retention. The lush, glossy, rich green needles are soft and dense making it easy to decorate and the strong branches will support your lights and decorations to create a stunning display. They quite often have a wide base, making a perfect place to hide presents! NORWAY SPRUCE – the ‘traditional’ Christmas tree. Strong branches make for easy decorating, although the needles can tend to be fairly sharp. If you are choosing this tree it is best kept outside for

as long as possible before bringing it into a cool room to help with needle retention. POTTED/POT GROWN TREES Most people buy cut Christmas trees, but it is possible to buy ‘potted’ or ‘pot grown’ trees. If you want to keep your tree after Christmas to pot on or plant in the garden always ask for a pot-grown tree. Potted Christmas trees have usually been grown in the ground and then dug up and potted with a few roots. They generally won’t last much longer than a well cared for cut tree, and usually won’t establish in the garden afterwards. Pot grown trees have been grown in the pot and so are more likely to be successful for growing on from year to year.

WHY SHOULD YOU PLANT THEM? Striking winter foliage, fragrant lilyof-the-valley aroma and beautiful yellow blooms – it’s not difficult to see why the Mahonia is such a well-respected addition to a winter garden. HOW SHOULD YOU PLANT THEM? Mahonia are very low maintenance shrubs but a small amount of attention will ensure that they perform to the best of their abilities – an annual prune is sufficient to keep them in check. By nature they are adapted to woodland conditions so plant in partial to full shade, however they will grow well in a variety of soil conditions including clay, chalk and even sand. The Fens | December 2019 17



FENLAND’S PHOTOGRAPHERS WORDS GARRY MONGER IMAGES GEOFF HASTINGS WISBECH and the Fens were home to a number of photographic studios and the area was also visited by photographers keen to capture images of the fauna, flora, landscape or inhabitants. Other residents took their cameras overseas. The Rev William Ellis’s (1794-1872) work as a missionary took him to Madagascar and he brought back images that were used in his publications. Jane Holloway recently published a biography entitled Wisbech’s Forgotten Hero. Samuel (Philosopher) Smith (18021892) captured the development of the town during the 1850s and 1860s. His collections are now found around the country and include those photographs held by Wisbech & Fenland Museum and the Science Museum, London.

in a flood, but the collection’s negatives remained stored away out of sight until Geoff’s death on 25th September 2005. The collection of 3,000 negatives and 300 drawings was donated by Geoff’s family to Andy Ketley, who digitised the images so that Geoff’s collection could be shared with others.

Lilian Ream (1877-1961) created a collection, of which 10,000 images survive. This provides a wide-ranging record of local residents and events. From Cradle to Grave in a Fenland Town, with over 160 photos compiled by Colin Wilkinson and Robert Bell.

Andy, a trustee of the Friends of Wisbech and Fenland Museum, has produced Images of Wisbech no.1, Comprising a selection of twenty images from Geoff’s collection, with information about Geoff and his photographs. The income from this series of publications will be used to support the museum in curating the town’s heritage, which includes Geoff’s collection.

Geoff Hastings was born on 14th January 1926. After leaving school he was based at March, where he worked for the Air Inspectorate Department. Here he audited aircraft parts prior to their being assembled on the war-time assembly lines. After the war he married Mabel and came to Wisbech as a manager with Cambridgeshire Motors on Elm Road. He was a keen amateur photographer and he was unhappy not to have been able to make a photographic record of Wisbech prior to the initial slum clearance of the Horsefair in the 1950s and early 1960s. By good fortune he learned of Wisbech Borough Council’s redevelopment plans and was determined that this time he would use his camera to record the buildings of the town. He would cycle around the area using his 35mm camera to photograph buildings - residential, industrial, mercantile, maritime or 18 The Fens | December 2019

agricultural - at risk of demolition. Thus Geoff compiled a collection of negatives of huge interest. Soon local newspapers and periodicals made his work well-known around the area and further afield. Even when photographs are undated, visual information such as car number plates, brewers’ signage, car models or style of dress can assist in dating an image. The photographs themselves were lost

The Friends of Wisbech and Fenland Museum support the museum by organising talks and events. Members give talks and carry out research and publish books about local history. The group has a Facebook page and a notice board in the museum entrance. Images of Wisbech no.1, priced at £5, is stocked in the museum’s shop, as are From Cradle to Grave in a Fenland Town and Wisbech’s Forgotten Hero. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Garry Monger BSc PGCE is a former local councillor, teacher and army reservist. He is a member of FenArch and other local groups working to promote community archaeology in the Fens.

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WORDS Heidi Lemmon, Active Fenland We all know that physical activity is important for our health but do we know why it is so important, how it can help and how much is beneficial? The recommended physical activity guidelines suggest that at a minimum we should be doing: 1. Children and babies under 5 should be active every day. For toddlers (who can walk on their own) should be encouraged to be active for at least 180 minutes every day. 2. Children and young people aged 5-18 should be doing 60 minutes of moderate intensive activity every day, plus muscle and bone strengthening exercises 3 times per week. 3. Adults and older adults aged 19+ should be doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensive activity per week, plus strength exercises twice a week that work all the major muscles. NB If you have any questions about these guidelines please get in touch. Active Fenland contact details at the end of the article. What does moderate intensive activity mean? This is any activity that raises your heart rate, makes you breathe faster and feel warmer. The key message is to sit less and move more. How much are we doing in Fenland? The 2018-19 national Active 20 The Fens | December 2019

Lives data shows that 33.8% of the population are inactive in Fenland. This is higher than the national average at 24.8% inactivity. So why is being physically active important? There are many health benefits to physical activity but the biggest ones are: 1. Decrease in heart disease by up to 35% 2. Decrease in risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 40% 3. Decrease in the risk of some cancers by 20% (colon and breast) 4. Decrease in risk of depression, dementia and falls by up to 30% 5. Decrease in the risk of hip fractures by 68% 6. Decrease in joint and back pain by 25% But also don’t forget the other benefits such as improved sleep, managing stress, building confidence and social skills, improving concentration and learning, increased positive mental wellbeing, maintaining a healthy weight, and strengthens muscles and bones. If you would like to become more active then Active Fenland provides fun, friendly and free or low cost local activities for all ages and abilities to get involved in!

We know that it can be daunting to join a session but Active Fenland sessions are designed for all abilities include absolute beginners, returners and try it outers! Sessions range from traditional sports (netball, hockey, football, tennis, table tennis etc), fitness based classes, family sessions, running sessions, martial arts, skating, tai chi, yoga, walking sports, badminton and many more. To find out what is on in your local area get in touch with Active Fenland today by following @ActiveFenland on social media or by emailing activefenlandbookings@fenland. If you would like more information on activity levels and other easy ways to get started visit the NHS “Live Well” website.






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A Fenland

CHRISTMAS LUNCH Celebrate the wonderful local produce our area has to offer with these fantastic vegetarian dishes, courtesy of Riverford MUSHROOM, LENTIL & RED WINE WELLINGTON An ideal veggie centrepiece to your Christmas feast. The cooking is simple and speedy, but you need to give the filling time to cool - it makes working with the pastry much easier. If practical, it’s worth getting all the elements ready the day before. It gives them time to cool, leaving you to just wrap and bake on Christmas morning. It’s easily made vegan by using vegan pastry and brushing the top with a little oil in place of the egg Serves 4-6 Prep 10 mins Cook 40 mins – plus cooling time 4 large Portobello mushrooms 1 onion, finely dice 1 carrot, finely diced 1 celery stick, finely dice 1 tin cooked dark/puy lentils 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 large sprig of rosemary, finely chopped 1 tbsp soy sauce 100ml red wine 300g puff pastry 150g baby spinach 1 egg, beaten 1 Preheat your oven to 200˚C/Gas 6. Toss the mushrooms in a roasting tray with 2 tbsp of oil and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Bake for 20 mins. Remove from the tray and place in the fridge to cool quickly. Clean the tray.

24 The Fens | December 2019

2 While the mushrooms roast, warm 1 tbsp of oil in a saucepan and cook the onion, carrot and celery over a medium heat for 10 mins, until starting to soften. 3 Meanwhile, drain and rinse the lentils in a sieve. 4 Add the garlic, rosemary, lentils, soy sauce and red wine to the veg, along with 100ml of water. Cook over a medium heat for 10 mins, until most of the liquid has disappeared and the lentils have become mushy. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pop into the fridge to cool. 5 Roll out the pastry into a rectangle about 3mm thin, roughly the size of an A4 sheet. Lay it on the clean baking tray and return it to the fridge to stay cold. 6 Wash the spinach. Place it in saucepan over a high heat until just wilted, about 30 secs. Cool immediately under cold water. Drain,

squeeze out any excess water, and roughly chop it. 7 To build the Wellington, spread the cooled lentil mix evenly over the pastry, leaving a 2cm gap along one long edge. Place the mushrooms, stems up, in a line down the centre and pack them with chopped spinach. Brush the exposed pastry edge with a little water. Gently lift it up and over to completely encase the mushrooms, pressing the damp edge down to seal. Crimp the open ends closed. Brush with a little beaten egg and lightly score the top with a sharp knife. Cut 2 or 3 vent holes in the top to let the steam escape. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20-25 mins, until golden and cooked through.

HASSELBACK POTATOES WITH GARLIC & ROSEMARY Serves 4 Prep 10 minutes Cook 1 hour

spoon next to the potato to stop the knife cutting down to the board.

2 bulbs of garlic salt & pepper 1kg small/medium potatoes 50/50 mix of olive oil and sunflower oil 2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary

3 Place the potatoes in a roasting tray. Toss in plenty of oil, salt and pepper. Roast them, sliced side up, for 30 mins.

1 Preheat your oven to 180˚C/ Gas Mark 4. Cut the top centimetre from each bulb of garlic, and sit them on a square of foil. Cover with a slug of oil and a pinch of salt. Add a dash of water. Bring the sides of the foil up into a tight parcel. Place in the oven and bake for 30-45 mins, or until the flesh is soft and turning golden brown. When they are ready, remove the bulbs from the foil and leave to cool. They should be done before the potatoes are ready. 2 Meanwhile, thinly slice each potato without cutting all the way through. You could try to do it by eye, but a better trick is to lay the handle of a wooden

4 Remove from the oven and use a pastry brush to baste them with the hot oil from the bottom of the tray. Return to the oven for 20 mins, until completely tender in the middle. 5 While the potatoes are finishing, squeeze the soft flesh from the garlic skins, like squeezing toothpaste, a strangely enjoyable task. You’ll end up with a sweet, sticky garlic purée. Mix it with the rosemary. 6 When the potatoes are ready, use the pastry brush to brush the potatoes with the garlic and rosemary. Try to work as much as you can into the slices. Return them to the oven for a final 5 mins. Serve immediately.

BRAISED SPROUTS, RAW KALE & ALMONDS Serves 4 as a side Prep 10 mins Cook 10 mins 1 head of black kale olive oil 500g sprouts, trimmed and halved glass of white wine 40g flaked and toasted almonds salt and pepper 1 Strip the kale leaves away from the stalks and tear them into bite-sized pieces. Place them in a mixing bowl with 1 tbsp of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Use your hands to massage and scrunch the oil and salt into the leaves for a couple of minutes. Set to one side.

CARROTS & CLEMENTINE IN A BAG A theatrical technique that seals in the flavour and lets the veg cook in its own moisture. You’ll need baking parchment and 3 bulldog clips. You could use a dash of mulled cider instead of water side towards you. Fold it in half from left to right. Double-fold the top and bottom edges and secure the folds closed with bulldog clips, creating a bag.

Serves 4 prep 5 mins cook 30 mins 8 carrots, peeled and chopped into 3cm angled pieces 1 clementine, peeled and sliced into thin discs 1 cinnamon stick 1 star anise 3 whole cloves 2 tbsp olive oil 1 bay leaf Salt & pepper 1 Heat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. To make the bag, spread out a rectangle of baking parchment, approximately 60 x 30cm, with the longer

2 Put the carrots and clementine in a mixing bowl with the spices and oil, season well with salt and pepper and mix well. Tip them into the bag with the bay leaf and a dash of water. Double-fold the open edge of the bag and clip it closed. 3 Sit the bag in a roasting tray and bake for about 30 mins; the bag should puff up. Turn out into a bowl, or open at the table like a big bag of crisps.

2 Warm 2 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan. Add the sprouts and fry them over a medium heat for 2-3 mins. Add a pinch of salt and tip in the glass of wine. Braise the sprouts in the wine, turning occasionally, until the wine has evaporated. This should take 2-3 mins, by which time the sprouts should be just tender. If they seem a little under, add a dash of water and cook it away. 3 Keep the sprouts on the heat and let them cook for a few more mins, until starting to colour on the edges. Remove from the heat and stir in the kale. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve with the toasted almonds.

The Fens | December 2019 25

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@riversideantiquesuk The Fens | December 2019 27

Christmas Gifts in the Fens

It’s my favourite time of the year and one of my feature highlights - getting to look at the lovely festive gifts from retailers and local crafts people. Here’s just a small selection of some of our favourites M&S Pet Champagne Bottle - £6 | Queensgate Shopping Centre, Peterborough n

Walnut Tree Designs Harris Tweed HeadWarmer - £18 | Search Walnut Tree Designs on Facebook and Etsy


M&S Selfie Light - £9.50| Queensgate Shopping Centre, Peterborough


New Look White Christmas Cracker Slogan T-Shirt - £9.99 | Queensgate Shopping Centre, Peterborough n


Blue Design Shed Fused Glass Single Flower - from £65 | Blue Design Shed Fused Glass Bubbly Heart - £6 | n

Walnut Tree Designs Dinosaur Lavender Tree - £4 | Search Walnut Tree Designs on Facebook and Etsy n

28 The Fens | December 2019

Ruth Fairhead Porcelain Reindeer (in gift box) £14 each | www. ruthfairheadceramics. n


M&S Collection Jewellery Advent Calendar - £19.50 | Queensgate Shopping Centre, Peterborough

Ruth Fairhead Ceramic Wren Dish - £28 each | www. n

FatFace NinjaBread Socks in a Bag in Grey - £6 | Queensgate Shopping Centre, Peterborough n

n John Lewis & Partners, Green Marbel Cheese Bord & Knives - £50 | Queensgate Shopping Centre, Peterborough

Walnut Tree Designs Liberty Print Wired Headband - £8 | Search Walnut Tree Designs on Facebook and Etsy n

Oundle Candle Christmas Pud (with lucky sixpence included) - from £7.95 | n

n VEHO Stero Headphones - £12.95 | Wades, Ramsey The Fens | December 2019 29

Christmas at Est. over 42 years ago by brothers Steve & Geoff, Mendis is a warm and friendly environment serving great food and entertainment

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3 Courses + Coffee £35 (Includes admission to party) Tickets to the party £12 each Tickets on sale now *Available for private hire every lunchtime and evening except Friday evening Call for more information 01945 461051 30 The Fens | December 2019 Mendis Restaurant, 22 Old Market, Wisbech PE13 1NB

WHEN WILL GRANDPARENTS BE RECOGNISED? WORDS Daniel Sims, Solicitor, Family Department

With Christmas around the corner, specifically includes a presumption many families will be making that it is in the best interests of the child preparations to spend time together to have both parents involved in their over the festive period. However, in upbringing. cases where parents have separated However, there is no such or divorced, this is not always so presumption in favour of grandparents straight forward. While both parents spending meaningful time with their automatically retain the right to see grandchildren. Whilst grandparents their children after a relationship can initiate legal proceedings, the Are you Selling Remortgaging breaks down, grandparents do Buying, Court must giveor them permission to not and this can sometimes make start a case, and will have to consider it difficult them to see theand connection that they have and At Fraserfor Dawbarns wetheir work to simplify grandchildren. any risk that the case could cause remove stress from your property transaction. It can be heart-breaking to be harm and disruption to the child. denied time Theas Courts do recognise the We keep the you opportunity updated withto allspend major developments with your grandchildren, but a recent importance of a relationship between they occur and our fixed fee service helps you keep studyofhas the grandparent and grandchild and track yourshown costs.that this situation is not uncommon. In some areas, as when an application for contact is many as one third of grandparents madeofby a grandparent it is often Our lawyers can provide advice on a wide range have been restricted from seeing their granted unless there is a good reason conveyancing matters including: grandchildren and many believed why it should not be. However, the parental divorce or Sales separation reality is that grandparents face •that House Purchases and had played a role in this. additional hurdles when fighting for • New Build Purchases If after a relationship or marriage contact. • Remortgaging and Releasing Equity comes to an end, the separated Last year, it seemed as though • Buying a Retirement Home parents cannot agree on the living some of these hurdles were going •and Buying a Shared Ownership contact arrangements forHome their to be removed. In the summer of •children, Transferring Ownership of a Home either one can make an 2018, some MPs called for a change •application Buying a House a Landlord to the as Court for an Order to the Children Act to ensure that •setting Moving Rented Home The law outinto theaarrangements. relationships between grandparents

and grandchildren were maintained in the event of parental separation. The House of Commons suggested amending the law to extend the presumption of involvement to include grandparents, and to remove the requirement to apply for permission. Unfortunately these proposals did your not getHome? off the ground, and at the current time, the legal position for grandparents remains unchanged. Calls for legal reform continue, and it is hoped that this will be addressed in the future, so that the law will come to formally recognise the role that grandparents play in their grandchildren’s lives. The family solicitors at Fraser Dawbarns LLP are always happy to offer advice and have experience assisting grandparents who are making an application to the Court for access to grandchildren as well as helping with a range of family disputes. We offer a range of pricing options and levels of involvement, so we are able to tailor our service to best fit your needs.

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01353 383483 The Fens | December 2019 31


Mindful of wildlife As the year draws to an end it’s an ideal time to look back over the last 11 months, as well as anticipating the dawn of a new year on the near horizon

WORDS Caroline Fitton, The Wildlife Trust IMAGE J.Barnard

With darker shorter days and many of us leading busy crammed lives with 21st century data overload from mobile phones and tablets, social media, digital platforms, confused politics, Brexit uncertainties it’s both beneficial and important to take time out – and breath . . . Being outdoors in natural surroundings helps calm us and reconnect to our own inner peace. Many who crave peace find it through nature. Associated with peace today are the terms mindfulness and ASMR - which stands for “autonomous sensory meridian response”, and describes a pleasant tingling sensation moving from the scalp and down the spine, triggered by various repetitive stimuli, such as whispering, rustling leaves or reeds swaying in the breeze or perhaps the immersive quality of bird song. These trigger a physical response, a tingling, which in turn stimulates psychological responses ranging from relaxation to

sleepiness - many of us will have felt ASMR in natural surroundings, and the quiet enjoyment that nature reserves bring is the perfect way to seek it out. Under the sweeping skies of the Wildlife Trust’s Great Fen, for example, this very special 14 square mile reserve has many areas which offer the chance of meditation and tranquillity – from the exquisite graceful woodland of Holme Fen, to the sanctuary of double height bird hide at Trundle Mere Hide with views out over Rymes Reedbed. In places such as this, true mindfulness, with its emphasis on the relaxed focusing of attention on the present, sharpened by meditative exercises or by being alert to details in the environment, is possible. Seeing wildlife and nature reserves in a mindful way can be soothing, and mentally beneficial, helping put the wider world into a less jumbled and aggressive perspective.

Fenset David Holliday 32 The Fens | December 2019

EVENTS Mindfulness walk at the Great Fen - Friday 13 December, 1-2.30pm An opportunity to discover mindfulness techniques whilst walking in the beautiful natural habitat of the Great Fen. Book a place: or call 01487 815524 In the Deep Midwinter Wildlife Walk - Saturday 28 December, 10am – 1pm Time to walk off the excesses of rich food and drink with the Wildlife Trust’s Ely local group. British wildlife has largely evolved to cope with the low temperatures, shorter day length and possible bad weather that winter brings. Indeed, many species actively head to Britain, thus taking advantage of the relatively benign conditions that these islands enjoy (so we have no excuse not to get out and look for them!) In what has now become an annual outing, the Trust’s Ely Local Group will be heading out to see what species they can spot around the Roswell Pits area. Bittern, goosander and kingfisher are among the highlights of previous mid-winter walks; there should be plenty of interest to see.


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Tax – Another Digital Step In February, this year HM Revenue & Customs introduced an online portal for the submission of Research & Development tax relief claims for Small Medium Enterprises and Research and Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC) for larger bodies. Writes Jeannette Hume Although it is still necessary to make the claim on a company tax return, form CT600, the accompanying detailed R&D project information can now be submitted by completion of an online form. Until now a pdf report was required to be attached to the return. Submission on-line is not actually required so, what are the benefits of HMRC capturing the data they need in this way? Being politically correct, the ‘taxperson’, requires key information and the completion of question and answers through a standard template should lessen the risk to companies of omitting that material. It should also reduce occasions when additional information is requested which can, as a consequence, result in the launch of a formal aspect tax enquiry. Another benefit - it should be easier now for the taxperson to assess whether or not an R&D project qualifies for the enhanced tax reliefs. This could help in reducing the time it currently takes for HMRC to issue an R&D Credit related tax refund.

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The UK tax administration continues to tread a path which it claims will modernise the UK’s taxation system and turn it into a world leader. So, giving information to HMRC in this way is consistent with this direction of travel; where standard e-submissions replace posted forms and explanations. Initially the use of this new facility has been slow in first 9 months, any changes that make it easier for companies to claim what is arguably the most generous tax legislation on the UK statute book must be encouraged. But, and there’s a huge BUT. As R&D tax relief is, effectively, funded from the EU purse, we will need to wait to see what impact Brexit might have upon this, although HMRC have indicated that the intention will be to retain and possibly improve this tax relief. Jeannette Hume is a Corporate Tax specialist and can be contacted through 01553 774745 or through your local Whiting & Partners office. Bury St. Edmunds | Ely | King’s Lynn | March | Mildenhall | Peterborough | Ramsey | St. St.December Neots | Wisbech TheIves Fens| | 2019 37



The Fens was once a difficult place to live in winter, but our ancestors were able to find ways to survive and thrive through even the harshest conditions For thousands of years, the Fens must have been a tough and bleak place through the winter months. Just look at this extract from Sir William Dugdale writing in the 1600s about the Fens prior to their drainage and reclamation: “For in the winter-time, when the ice is strong enough to hinder passage of boats, and yet not able to bear a man, the inhabitants within the Fens can have no help for food, nor comfort for body or soul.

were excellent sources of meat and fur. Meat and eggs were also available from birds such as ducks, swans, cranes, plovers, spoonbills and oystercatchers. Fish were plentiful too. The Domesday book of 1086 records ‘such quantities of fish as to cause astonishment to strangers.’

“And what expectation of health can there be to the bodies of men, where there is no element good? The air being for the most part cloudy, gross and full of rotten harrs; the water putrid and muddy, yea, full of loathsome vermin.”

In more recent times, locals would get busy in the autumn, laying in food for the winter. Pickling was commonplace, for everything from blackberries and elderberries to shallots, cabbage and cooking apples, while meat was salted to last through to spring.

Life wasn’t all bad however, and we shouldn’t just rely on miserable accounts like this to tell us what conditions were like. The Fens was once rich in mammals, including beavers and otters, both of which

As well as plenty of food, it was possible to take relatively comfortable shelter from the cold. Reeds

38 The Fens | December 2019

grew in abundance, so Fen people had access to materials for thatching the roofs of their houses. To help survive outside, potatoes were baked and carried in pockets to keep hands warm. But let’s not imagine that life was easy. In Sybil Marshalls’s classic book ‘Fenland Chronical’ she shares her father’s recollection of the winter of 1916, ‘the worst storm as ever I remember’. He recalled: “The snow froze thick on the shutters of the mill sails, making each sail a solid block. At the end of that day, there was hardly a telegraph pole in the whole area left standing.” When he got home in the evening, he ‘yelled, and roared, and banged, and rattled’

but neither his wife nor children could hear him above the clatter of the storm. He also talks about a group of farm workers near Pondersbridge having to take shelter from the storm in the Green Man pub, emerging at closing time very much the worse for wear. Sadly the Green Man is no more, but sheltering from a storm in a pub is still a very good idea. FEN SKATING The people of the Fens have always been good at making the most of what nature throws at them. Nothing demonstrates this better than Fen skating. For hundreds of years, we have taken to the ice at every possible opportunity.

the Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border. Welney has a long tradition of Fen skating competition dating back at least to the 1850s. Skating in the Fens wasn’t just about competition. It was often a valid means of transport, with frozen rivers and fields linking villages and making average speeds of up to ten miles per hour possible for skaters. In his 1876 book ‘Reminiscences of Fen and Mere’, J M Heathcote recalls skating with the local vicar all the way from Connington to Ely and back in 12 hours.

There are records of Fen skating going back to the 12th Century, when skates were made of bone rather than metal. Speed skating is thought to have been introduced to the Fens by Dutch drainage engineers in the 1600s. By then, blacksmiths made metal skates, which were strapped to boots. Records of championship skating near Whittlesey date back at least to 1841, when a £10 prize was on offer to the winner and over 6,000 people came to watch. In recent years conditions have rarely been cold enough, but there was Fen skating in 1992, 1996, 2010 and 2012. March 2018 saw the most recent opportunity for skating in the Fens. The ‘Beast from the East’ froze part of the Whittlesey Wash and dozens of locals enjoyed two days of skating. Skaters also took to the ice at Welney Wash, on

BRINGING LIGHT INTO WINTER Fen folk found other ways to enjoy themselves in winter months. Festivals such as Whittlesey’s Straw Bear can be traced back for centuries. As well as looking forward to the death of winter and the coming of spring, these festivals gave agricultural workers an opportunity to dress up and dance outside people’s houses in return for money, beer or food. What we now know as a traditional Christmas emerged during the 19th Century, bringing much needed rest and celebration to winter. Decorations such as homemade paper chains became popular, in addition to the existing practice of bringing holly, ivy and mistletoe into the house. Christmas cards, Christmas crackers and hanging up stockings became widespread. Christmas trees became popular in Victorian times. These were often decorated with fir cones and candles, as well as cotton wool to imitate snow. It seems that the risk of fire was considered worth taking by Fen people eager to enjoy some light and joy at the bleakest time of the year. The Fens | December 2019 39


Maple and rosemary bacon We love this recipe at Christmas‌ crush it up and sprinkle it on your Brussels sprouts!


115g soft brown sugar 60ml cider 60ml maple syrup Pinch of smoked paprika Sprig of rosemary (roughly chopped) 10 slices of streaky bacon cut in half


1. Preheat oven to 200oC. Line a baking tray with foil and place a wire rack on top.

2. Place a small pan on a low heat. Mix all the ingredients except the bacon. When the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and brush the bacon on both sides with the sugar mix. Arrange the bacon on the wire rack and place in the oven. Remove the bacon every 5 mins or so and brush both sides again, pop it back in the oven and repeat for about 20-30 mins until the bacon is crisp and browned. 3. Allow to cool before serving as a snack.

Chef's Twist

This works well with honey or even r just building up a layer of icing suga are s herb during baking is good. Suitable t thyme and sage, and ginger root is grea for ze boo also. Cider is our favourite this dish but beer works just as well, especially a wheat beer. We have found that wafer thin pastrami is good but much more expensive

Eat, drink, stay!

Pub gastronomic, farmhouse kitchen, boutique rooms River Nene, between Thorney & Whittlesey | 01733 202256 40 The Fens | December 2019




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DO WE REALLY NEED PROBIOTICS? Probiotic is a word that seems to have effortlessly found its way into everyday vocabulary. Supermarkets now stock numerous drinks, yoghurts and supplements offering a probiotic boost that will increase the number of good bacteria in your gut, the small breakfast drink Yakult is a prime example. Reports of people actively taking probiotics for the same purposes as we use them today can be found as far back as 100 years ago. Although we generally consider the word bacteria to be a bad thing the body actually has trillions of good bacteria that help with things such as digestion and the immune system, and having a healthy gut balance is said to aid with a wide variety of ailments and illnesses ranging from everything from eczema to type 2 diabetes. Generally we will maintain and top up our good bacteria with the foods we eat, fruits, vegetables, pulses and wholegrains are all great everyday examples of foods that feed the microbes in the gut. The bacteria themselves are also pretty good at maintaining their own levels and we must remember that we are talking in trillions here,

so consider what benefit adding a supplement such as Yakult (6.5 billion good bacteria per serving) actually has. If we factor in the cost and the other ingredients included to make them palatable, the negatives begin to outweigh the positives. Some recent studies have suggested that if you are already eating well then there may be some benefits to adding additional probiotics to your diet, though these benefits seem to simply correlate with those of someone who is generally eating well anyway, but there certainly doesn’t appear to be any negatives. However if your diet is generally poor, adding good bacteria to your diet can actually be a bad thing. It all comes down to the health of your gut wall, if this is compromised the bacteria can escape into your body and have a negative impact just like any other bacteria would when released into the body. We must treat dietary supplements as just that, necessary additions to an already great and consistent diet. It’s only at the point of having a healthy functioning routine that we can begin to find the need and use for any outside additions.

For more information and further assistance with diet and nutrition, contact Rob via escapethediettrap@ 42 The Fens | December 2019


Phobias can affect anyone regardless of age, sex or social background. It is reported that approximately 10 million people live with a phobia in the UK alone. There are varying degrees of phobias, but at their worst can be very debilitating. Symptoms can include: dizziness, sweating, palpitations, shaking, nausea and an upset stomach. In my experience phobias tend to be learned, usually from a parent, or are as the result of a traumatic event and are driven by fear. Once a phobia really takes hold, you can actually experience the physical symptoms by just thinking about whatever it is you are afraid of. Believe it or not phobias can be one of the fastest things to overcome. I used to have a crippling fear of spiders; I’d had it for as long as I could remember. I once sat on the back of a sofa for over 3 hours paralysed by fear, waiting for somebody to come home and remove the wild beast (tiny spider). It took my mentor 17 minutes in front of a class full of students to shift my life long phobia with EFT (tapping); I went home that evening and picked up a spider from my bedroom wall with my bare hands and put him out of the window. Now I do not even put them out, I am quite happy to share our home with them. I have since helped lots of people overcome lots of phobias including, flying, driving, public speaking, dentists, heights, being sick to name a few. Get in touch to find out how I can help you.

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Walk of the month


On a blustery grey November morning we headed to the historical old seaport of Kings Lynn to trace its maritime past. Passing through the South Gate, a 15th century stone-built gateway, we entered this seaport and market town which is home to some stunning architecture, most prominently a mash up of medieval and Georgian buildings. Originally called Linn, a name derived from the Celtic word for lake or pool, the town become known as Bishop’s Lynn in the early 13th century. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII,  the town changed its name to Lynn Regis – which latterly evolved into King’s Lynn, the name it retains today.    Strolling along the front of the port we started our walk with a blast of fresh air coming from the South Quay. Boats moored to the sides of the harbour bobbed with the breeze and the mud banks reflected the wintery brown coloured water, you certainly wouldn’t want to take a dip! This Hanseatic town was one of England’s most important ports, with 44 The Fens | December 2019

its origins dating back from as early as the 12th century. The Hanseatic League was a powerful German trading organisation which was made

up of merchants from North Germany and the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea. Together they brought much wealth and prosperity to the area and the legacy of this history is still visible today. Late medieval merchants’ houses stretch back to the river, nestled between the cobbled lanes. Along the front old warehouses stand in varying states of decay, their original uses revealed in peeling old lettering fading on their facades. Here you can find the Marriot’s Warehouse which was built as a Tudor warehouse around the 1580s by Thomas Claybourne, one of East Anglia’s wealthiest corn and sail merchants. Some of the buildings have been renovated and are now home to restaurants and harbour view homes. Giant anchors left alongside the front look as if they have just been left and forgotten but are a constant reminder to the once industrious days of the past. Continuing along the front we spotted The Custom House, designed by Henry Bell, built in 1683 and opened as a merchant’s exchange in 1685. Inside you can find out more about the town’s rich heritage including its

illustrious smuggling past. In front of this classical building stands a prominent statue of Captain George Vancouver, a great navigator and surveyor, who was born in Kings Lynn and charted much of the North West Pacific Ocean. Captain George overlooks the Purfleet Quay which was the town’s principle anchorage for ships since medieval times. Heading towards the centre of the town down Queen’s Street we spotted the most unusual building, with a quirky checkboard style façade. This is the Town Hall and Trinity Guildhall which was built in the 1420s and used as the meeting place for the wealthy merchants of the town. Nowadays the building is home to Lynn Museum and houses important artefacts from the area. It is here that you can also pick up maps and a guide for the maritime trail which comprises of 27 numbered plaques nestled into the pavement at important landmarks around the town. Directly opposite stands King’s Lynn Minster an impressive church over 900 years old and founded by the first Bishop of Norwich, Herbet de

Losinga in 1101. On the tower used to stand a tall spire which was used as a seamark by Mariners, but dramatically fell in a violent storm in 1741. The Minster is open every day and stands in the historic Saturday Market Place. This meeting point was originally used by the merchants and traders to sell their goods and is still used for weekly markets. Following down St Margaret’s Place, we admired the medieval properties on the narrow streets spotting green plaques on the former merchant houses. Now feeling the chill, we decided to head to one of the town’s cafes for a mug of hot tea and a spot of lunch! Kings Lynn is a town full of character with its fascinating maritime past, quirky buildings and varying trails to follow. With plenty of shops, cafes and historical places to visit, the town really is a forgotten gem but one that is worth exploring! Distance: 1 Miles/ 1.6 KM Terrain: Pavements, Time: 1.5 hours Cost: Parking, museum entrance fee The Fens | December 2019 45





Tue 7 - Sat 11 Jan 2020 01733 852 992

46 The Fens | December 2019

The Fens | December 2019 47

WHAT’S ON Include your event for free by emailing FENLAND STAMP CLUB MEETING Thursday 5th December 2019

A “Get together” of members (any new members welcome). Existing members will display pages showing their philatelic interests. All meetings take place on a Thursday at 1.45pm at Upper Parlour, Trinity Methodist Church, Church Terrace, Wisbech Cambs. PE13 1BL. Next meetings as follows: 2nd January 2020. A display relating to Labuan and Borneo. 16th January 2020. A “Bring & buy” afternoon, with another display by members. 6th February 2020. A display entitled “Royal Biographies”.

BREAKFAST BUFFET WITH SANTA Friday 6th/7th/8th December

Santa is coming to Harvest Barn and would like to join you for breakfast! Spend the morning in our brand new cabin with Santa and enjoy a delicious hot and cold buffet breakfast – everything will be available from sausages, bacon and eggs to croissants and toast! Tickets are £8.99 per child, which includes a craft table, buffet breakfast and gift from Santa. Grown ups are free to sit with their children or you can pay £6.99 to get in on the buffet breakfast

action! To book your tickets email Ashley at, drop us a Facebook message or pop in store!

CRIMBLE AT THE CRUMB Friday 6th - Sunday 8th December

Don’t miss the proudly independent Crumb Studio’s glittering Christmas pop-up. Once more offering modern rarities, ceramics, sculpture, prints, jewellery and more. The Crumb Studio is at 60 Cross Drove, Coates, Whittlesey PE7 2HJ. Fri: 6pm-9pm; Sat: 10am-5pm; Sun: 10am-4pm

TYDD ST GILES CHRISTMAS FAYRES Saturday 7th December 2019

One village,Two venues to buy those unique,extra special gifts St Giles Church (Church Lane) 10am to 3pm. Plus refreshments and cakes Golf and Country Club (Kirkgate ) 11am to 3pm. FREE entry to both venues

FENLAND MUSIC CENTRE ASSOCIATION’S CHRISTMAS CONCERT Saturday 7th December 2019 10am midday This year’s annual Fenland Music

Centre Association’s Christmas Concert, will take place on Saturday 7th December at St. Peter’s Church, High Street, March. All 8 of the FMCA’s Orchestras, Bands & Ensembles will be playing music ranging from classical to modern, along with festive carols featuring as the main event. Conducted by Ceri Griffin & Beth Letts. Doors open at 6:30pm for a 7pm start. Tickets available at the door; Adults £7, Concessions £5, Accompanied Children Free. Refreshments and raffle available during the break. All proceeds goes toward the FMCA’s continued educational music work within the local community. For more details visit . This event is sponsored and organised by friends and volunteers of the FMCA

A VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION Saturday 7th - Sunday 8th December, 10am-3pm (last entry 2pm)

Take a step back into Christmas past! Discover Victorian Christmas traditions of the wealthy and those who were not so fortunate at Peterborough Museum. Make some traditional Victorian decorations and a Victorian Christmas card to take home. So come along and enjoy the magic of Christmas gone by! £4 adults, £3 conc/child, £12 families

REGULARS FREE Glow in the Dark Table Tennis! New and exciting activity for ages 1019 years old Just drop in and play! Fridays 15.30-17.00, Rosmini Centre, Wisbech. Fenland Music Centre Association Orchestras, Bands and Ensembles. Open to all ages and abilities. Meets every Friday evening during Term time 6pm - 9pm, March Community Centre. Just come along or visit our website on http://www. Fenland Archaeological Society (FenArch) meet at 7:30pm in Mendi’s, Old Market, Wisbech on 4th Wednesday of the month. Young archaeologists The 8-16 Fenland Archaeology group meet 10am - 12pm at the museum, Museum Square, Wisbech on the 4th 48 The Fens | December 2019

Saturday of each month. Wisbech Model Railway Club The group meet every Monday from 6:30pm to 9pm in Room 1 of The Institute, Hill Street, Wisbech. New members most welcome. Unfortunately there’s no wheelchair access. Further details from 07707 885718. Walking Netball – Thursday 9:30am Hudson Wisbech £2 Walking Football – Tuesday 9:30am and Friday 8pm Hudson Wisbech £2 Back to Netball – Tuesday 7pm Hudson Wisbech £2 Ladies Badminton – Wednesday 7pm Hudson Wisbech £2 Adults Badminton – Monday 7pm Hudson Wisbech £2 Forever Fit – Tuesday 11:30am £2 (Short mat bowls, New Age Kurling and Table Tennis) Adults Table Tennis – Friday 1:30pm

Wisbech Table Tennis Club £1 Beginners Running – Tuesday 9:30am Wisbech Park Free Yoga Oasis Centre – Tuesday 1:30pm Oasis Centre Free For more info on any of the above email or call 01354602116 Play Bridge? Wisbech Mixed Bridge Club meet every Thursday 6.45pm at WWMCC, 29 Hill Street, Wisbech. No partner necessary. Call 01945 464608 for more details. Silver Surfers We meet at Parson Drove Sports Pavilion behind the village hall. Thursday mornings, 10am to 12noon. Everyone is welcome to meet others and to overcome problems with computers iPhone or ipads. NEW Ukulele Group at Parson Drove

(2 adults, 3 children), under 5s free. After the event ends at 3pm admission to the museum is free. Book now online at or call 01733 864663.


Visitors to the Fayre can look forward to indulging their senses in all things festive from roasted chestnuts to hot chocolate Baileys liquor, to live music. There are a wide range of stalls offering gifts and plenty of seasonal food. So why not come to the Market Place and Horsefair Shopping Centre between 10am and 3pm - you might even spot Santa and his reindeers.


The popular City of Peterborough Concert Band are performing an afternoon concert of festive music to celebrate the Christmas season. Please come and join us at St Andrews Church, Ledbury Road, Netherton, Peterborough, PE3 9RF. Tickets are £6, free for accompanied under 16s, and available from Hilary Lewis 01733 265877 or


Explore Peterborough’s most haunted building by candlelight... if you dare! Due to limited availability pre-booking is essential. Access is limited so please call in advance for more information. Not recommended for under-14’s (all children must be accompanied). £5 adults; £3 children. Book now online at or call 01733 864663.

CHRISTMAS WREATH MAKING WORKSHOP Tuesday 10th December 7pm-9pm

£45 per person. Make your own real Christmas Wreaths at Harvest Barn. Tickets available on

EVENING OF MUSIC WITH PAVANOTTI AT EMMANUAL CHURCH PARSON DROVE Friday 13th December, 6-30 PM TICKETS: £10pp ( and nibbles). Contact Barbara 01945 701033. Show Songs, Popular Opera, Festive Favourites & much more. Come and view our Christmas Trees at the same time. EVERYBODY WELCOME

CHRISTMAS TREE FESTIVAL AT EMMANUAL CHURCH PARSON DROVE Saturday and Sunday 14th &15th December, 10am - 4pm Refreshments available

CAROLS BY CANDLELIGHT Sunday 15th December at 3pm

Walpole St Peter Church, Church Road, PE14 7NS. Join us to sing all your favourite carols in a beautiful candlelit atmosphere. Refreshments served afterwards, free parking

PETERBOROUGH GHOST WALK Tuesday 17th December - 7.30pm

Explore the city’s spooky side! Be spellbound by our haunted heritage with our ever-popular Ghost Walk. Pre-booking is advisable for this highly popular tour which is not recommended for under-8’s. (all children must be accompanied). Meet outside Peterborough Museum £5 adults; £3 children. Book now online at or call 01733 864663.

A new Ukulele playing and singing club meets each Wednesday at The Butchers Arms, Parson Drove 7pm to 9pm. Beginners and learners or those who have never played are welcome. The choice of music will be yours as we will have a democratic approach to what we play. Martin Hammond 01945 700 676 Marshland Hall activities Mondays: 9:30-10:30 Yoga; 10-1 Soft Play; 2-3:30 Line Dancing; Tuesdays: 10-1 Soft Play Wednesdays: 10-12 Indoor Bowls; 1-2 Sweaty Mamas; 6-7 Karate; 6-7 Marshland Saints Football; 7-8 Tai Chi; 8-9 Clubbercise Thursdays: 6-7 Marshland Saints Football; 7-8 Yoga; 7-8 Marshland Saints Football Fridays: 10-12 Soft Play; 2-4 Tea Dance; 6-7 Karate Saturdays: 10-12 Archery All events held at Marshland Hall, Smeeth Road, Marshland St James, PE14 8JB. More info can be found on facebook or by calling 01945 430414.


Junior Science Club Meets every second Saturday of the month at 1am to 1om at the Wisbech and Fenland Museum.

Refreshments available To book a table, please contact Hazel at heeley.highside@ - £5 per table

Peterborough Cathedral Choir, Youth Choir and Festival Chorus with a programme of Christmas choral favourites.

CRAFT FAIR TRINITY CHURCH WISBECH Saturday 1st February, 10am-3pm

The Fens | December 2019 49

THIS MONTH’S BOOK REVIEW Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye and Rebecca Mascull Published by HQ Every Christmas it has now become customary for me to read Charles Dickens’ wonderful Christmas story, A Christmas Carol; the tale of solitary miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, who is taught the true meaning of Christmas through a series of ghostly visitors on Christmas Eve, including his old business partner Jacob Marley. However, for those of you who don’t know, there is a prequel to this great Dickensian ghost story, namely Miss Marley. Written almost two centuries after A Christmas Carol, Miss Marley tells the story of orphans Clara and Jacob Marley. The siblings spend the first happy years of their young lives living in a grand house with their parents. However, some years later, after the tragic loss of both parents, Clara and Jacob then find themselves homeless and penniless. Living on the streets of London, in the shadow of the workhouse, the youngsters scavenge for food as, “Every Friday afternoon, the butcher threw scraps from his back door to the hungry street children, but all the best morsels went to bigger boys and vicious stray dogs”, relying on their wits and one another to keep each other safe. Then an opportunity presents itself, one that will allow the intrepid youngsters to flee the dangerous city streets and escape poverty. Jacob seizes it, despite the great moral price to his soul. Later, after much hard work, the siblings once again elevated to their place in society, Jacob meets Ebenezer Scrooge… and so begins their infamous partnership. The author’s note by Vanessa Lafaye states how she often wondered about Marley’s backstory; an exercise that eventually consumed her imagination. Sadly, Vanessa passed away in February 2018, unable to finish this beautiful prequel. But at the request of Vanessa’s husband, and her publisher, it was, I’m pleased to say, completed by Vanessa’s good friend and fellow author, Rebecca Mascull. Our verdict… Written in third person, this is the bittersweet story of Jacob Marley as seen through the eyes of his sister, Clara. Clara is a character entirely invented by the author who believed “that the idea of inhabiting Marley himself felt too much like trespassing”. Masterfully written, this evocative fable offers insight into the social observations of Victorian life, which at times reflect some of our current issues, whilst also capturing the Dickensian spirit of Christmas, complete with ghosts, goodwill, hope and redemption. By Eva Jordan 50 The Fens | December 2019

Bah Humbug! Local author and mother of two EVA JORDAN shares her musings It’s December already and Christmas is almost upon us. In the run up to the day itself, time permitting, you’ll find me snuggled up in the evenings with a small glass of Baileys, a mince pie and some good festive reading. I can also guarantee you that one book I’ll be reading will be Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. It’s one of my absolute favourites and has now become a bit of a tradition of mine to read every Christmas. For those of you who don’t know it, this famous Victorian tale tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a solitary miser, shown the true meaning of Christmas through a series of ghostly visitors on Christmas Eve, including his old business partner Jacob Marley. First published in December 1843, the first edition of A Christmas Carol had completely sold out by Christmas Eve, with a further 13 editions released by the end of 1844. In 1849 Dickens began public readings of the book which proved so successful, he undertook another 127 readings, right up to the year of his death in 1870. A Christmas Carol, which has never been out of print, has been translated into several languages and adapted many times for film and stage. Some lesser known versions include: Carry on Christmas starring Sid James as Ebenezer, and The Six Million Dollar Man— “A Bionic Christmas Carol”, whilst some better known adaptions include Mickey’s (Mouse) Christmas Carol, Bill Murray’s Scrooged, Blackadder’s Christmas Carol, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and my favourite film version, Disney’s A Christmas Carol starring Jim Carrey. Back in October this year I was honoured to meet Lucinda Hawksley, great, great, great granddaughter of Charles Dickens, at Wanstead Library, where she gave a talk about the man himself and the Christmas story that undoubtedly influenced social reform. As a historian and author with a keen interest in her own family history, Lucinda also talked about Dickens’ early childhood, including his time spent as a child labourer, and how, as an acclaimed novelist, not only did he become the greatest celebrity of his age but also a brilliant campaign journalist, philanthropist and social reformer. Above all else though, at a time of year when many families feel the financial burden of Christmas in what too often becomes a celebration of wealth and consumerism, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol reminds us that a joyful Christmas does not require Ebenezer Scrooge’s gold. Merry Christmas everyone!

You can find out more about Eva by visiting www.EvaJordanWriter. com or find her on Twitter and Facebook: @evajordanwriter EvaJordanWriter/

Santa Steam Selected dates 23rd November to 24th December ❅ Welcome from our station staff ❅ Entertainment provided on the platform ❅ Exciting visit to Santa’s grotto where each child receives a special present ❅ Join our steam hauled, decorated train for a fun-filled ride to Peterborough and return ❅ Staff serve the children with a drink and chocolates - Parents and other adults are not forgotten with a mince pie and either an alcoholic miniature, wine or a hot drink! ❅ Santa walks through the train to see the children, providing an opportunity to take photographs and to wish everyone the compliments of the season!

Available on Premier 1st Class compartments

It’s not where you go this Christmas, it’s which you choose...


Winter Light Spectacular

13th December to 11th January

Please note Santa will not be at the lights event

Arriving at Wansford, you will gather on the platform for the big reveal then once on board the heated carriages, sit back and enjoy a magical train ride, viewing the beautiful light displays between Wansford and Overton Station while a musical accompaniment adds to the spectacle. The turntable Café will be open until the train’s departure, offering a selection of hot and hearty snacks.

Buy tickets online: Charity 263617

01780 784444 The Fens | December 2019

Wansford Station, Stibbington, Peterborough PE8 6LR


Profile for The Fens magazine

The Fens Wisbech December 2019  

The Fens Wisbech December 2019