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A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens


Issue 10 | January 2019


Ellie Sandall


Straw Bear



The Fens | January 2019

01354 704500

ED’S letter

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


THIS month 10 Interviewing Ellie Sandall


15 Your garden in January

32 Amy takes a wintry seaside walk

16 Digging up the past 24 Richard talks about the Straw bear Festival 28 Catching up with Stephen K Amos 29 Short story competition winner


38 Recycling beans to make fire wood 41 An update from Steve Barclay MP 47 New Year fashion 48 Events in your area



50 Eastern Angles returns to the Key Theatre

A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens



Ellie Sandall

Straw Bear


PUBLISHER / EDITOR Natasha Shiels hello@thefensmag.co.uk EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Amy Corney amy@thefensmag.co.uk SUB EDITOR Theresa Shiels DESIGN TEAM Natasha Shiels Charlotte Whittaker Vinny Clarke PHOTOGRAPHY Chris Brudenell chrisbrudenellphotography.co.uk ADVERTISING SALES Cassie Ward 07734 952626 ACCOUNTS hello@thefensmag.co.uk 07511 662566 SUBSCRIPTIONS To subscribe for just £12 for 6 issues, contact us at hello@thefensmag.co.uk CONTRIBUTORS David White |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

www.thefensmag.co.uk facebook.com/thefensmag @thefensmag thefensmag

Issue 10 | January 2019



ISSUE 10 | JANUARY 2019 Ely Riverisde by Andrew Sharpe

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

The Fens | January 2019


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The Fens | January 2019


Prince Charles discusses Wisbech 2020 and the Wisbech Garden Town proposals with, from left, Peter Simpson, Chief Executive of Anglian Water; Gary Garford, Corporate Director at Fenland District Council; and Russell Beal, Anglian Water’s Wisbech 2020 Programme Manager.

HRH The Prince of Wales has invited partners behind plans to regenerate Wisbech to his new housing development in Cornwall to learn more about how its principles for urban planning could support Wisbech Garden Town proposals. Princes Charles extended the invitation to Fenland District Council, Anglian Water and other organisations leading the Wisbech Garden Town proposals during his visit to Wisbech on Tuesday November 27. An exhibition of plans for the town’s future was showcased at the town’s St Peter and St Paul Church, where His Royal Highness met a number of organisations, charities and volunteers to find out about the work they do in the local community, and learn more about projects in the area. Gary Garford, Corporate Director for Fenland District Council, Peter Simpson, Chief Executive of Anglian Water, and Russell Beal, Anglian Water’s Wisbech 2020 Programme Manager, spoke to The Prince about the garden town concept and how it was created from the partnership Wisbech 2020 Vision project, which aims to bring jobs, infrastructure and investment to the town. Developed in 2016, Wisbech Garden Town seek to regenerate Wisbech through growth of housing and the economy, with 13,200

homes over the next 40 years and 11,000 new jobs, as well as new shops, schools, public spaces and community facilities. During the meeting, The Prince invited partners to visit Nansledan, a 218-hectare urban extension of Newquay in Cornwall, led by the Duchy of Cornwall with support from The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community. Like the garden town’s ambitions, Nansledan has been designed to champion sustainable development environmentally, socially and economically. It will evolve into a community of more than 4,000 homes over the next 40 years to help meet Newquay’s future business, housing, educational and health needs. Mr Simpson said: “HRH was really keen to see how The Prince’s Foundation could support the development of the Garden Town proposal for Wisbech. The ambition’s regeneration plans for the town will help the local economy to grow and prosper. “We’re really proud to be a part of this work, and helping to put together the town’s 2020 Vision for the future which embodies sustainability and will enhance the quality of life for those living there, principles which are both equally championed by The Prince.” Mr Garford said: “It was wonderful

to see Prince Charles taking such an interest in Wisbech and its plans for the future. He was particularly interested in the Garden Town’s flood mitigation work and its green credentials including a new country park to provide surface water attenuation, leisure opportunities and new woodland.” Mr Beal added: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Wisbech and we will be delighted to visit Nansledan and explore how The Prince’s Foundation can get involved at the earliest opportunity.” The Prince’s invitation comes just weeks after partners submitted a bid to Government for Wisbech Garden Town to join its Garden Communities programme. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) launched the Garden Communities prospectus in August to offer local authorities and private sector partners renewed support for creating high-quality, locally supported, new communities. Successful bids will receive tailored government assistance, including resource funding, advice from Homes England and cross-government brokerage to overcome barriers to delivery. Successful proposals will be announced later in the New Year. The Fens | January 2019


TRIBUTE TO TOWN’S MOST FAMOUS DAUGHTER The heroic life of Wisbech born Octavia Hill has been held up as a pattern for a younger generation to follow. At a memorial service at St Peter’s Church, Wisbech, on Sunday December 2 members of the Wisbech detachment of the Cambridgeshire Army Cadet Force were urged to take inspiration from the woman who played a central part in the founding of the modern army cadet movement. Licensed lay minister Keith Aplin said that when Octavia Hill identified a need she began to do something about it herself, drawing like-minded people to her cause and raising the money that was needed – and the Rev Carol Monk, chaplain of the Surrey army cadet force, urged the cadets attending to take on the values and standards of the founder of their movement. The service was a highlight of the 26th annual Octavia Hill Society

commemoration day recalling the social reformer and co-founder of the National Trust, who in 1889 helped to form the first battalion of army cadets that was solely recruited from the working class and met at Red Cross Hall, near London Bridge. Earlier in the day the annual memorial lecture was given at the Birthplace House at 7 South Brink by Colour Sergeant Tim Scargill, of the Surrey Army Cadet Force, who spoke about his life in the army cadets. During the service he read the names of former cadets memorialised on a plaque in Southwark Cathedral who lost their lives in the Boer War – and the Bible reading, urging hearers to put on the whole armour of God as they answered the call to duty or danger, was given by Colonel Mark Knight MBE, commandant of the Cambridgeshire Army Cadet Force. Mr Peter Clayton, chairman of the Octavia Hill Birthplace Museum Trust, told the youngsters attending

the service that they could follow in the heroic footsteps of Octavia Hill, helping to create a better world for others to enjoy. He thanked Keith Aplin for leading the service and the Clarkson Singers for their performance of ‘Only remembered’, from the film, ‘War Horse’, and a selection of songs from the trenches. He also applauded members of the Cambridgeshire and Surrey army cadets for coming together to engage with the new Operation Noble pioneered by Colour Sergeant Scargill, which is helping to promote a partnership with local authorities and emphasising the debt that the 40,000 cadets around the country owe to their founder, Octavia Hill. Mr Clayton said: “We have had another successful day, this year concentrating on one of Octavia Hill’s less known achievements, the founding of the army cadets.”

The Fenland Music Centre Association would like to warmly thank the generous support shown by the audience at their annual Christmas Concert. A generous £711 was raised on the night which will help volunteers continue to bring music and educational opportunities to the local community. A packed St. Peter's Church in March, saw the FMCA put on one of their best performances to date. Conductors Ceri Griffin, Beth Letts and Theo Letts created the perfect festive atmosphere with their choice of repertoire that was performed by no less than three orchestras, two bands and three ensembles. Their spokesman was quoted as saying,: "A well attended Christmas Concert is vital to our charity and enables us to continue to serve budding musicians of any age or ability, throughout the local community. “We would like to thank everybody that made tonight's 'Concert possible and wish them all, a very Merry Christmas!" Photo shows Aidan and Jack; winners of 'best decorated instrument' award! 8

The Fens | January 2019

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

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


10 The Fens | January 2019

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

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

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

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


Your new book ‘Everybunny Dream’ is out this month, what can you tell us about it? ‘Everybunny Dream’ is out on January 10th and is the latest in the ‘Everybunny’ series. It focuses on my popular bunny characters and their bedtimes. I have been working on this bunny series for the last three years, so I have spent a long time just drawing bunnies and foxes, so it is really nice to start working on a new project! Can you reveal what your next children’s book will be about? I am just starting to focus on writing and designing my new characters, so it’s only in its initial stages, but I can reveal the characters in the story will be dogs. My own dogs Lola and William may even make an appearance! When you write a book which comes first, the words or the pictures? I start my drawing with a rough comic strip which includes the pictures and words, so I actually write and illustrate at the same time. This then evolves into a mini picture book, before I draw up the final images and text for the book. Alongside writing and illustrating you also run Art Stars, can you tell us more? Art Stars is my other business. It’s art classes for children and young adults which I run from my studio here in Deeping St James. I have about 60 weekly students and there are up to 10 pupils in each class. My youngest student is four and my oldest student is 16, so it’s a wide 12 The Fens | January 2019

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

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

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

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



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Home & garden

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

Looking good this month... Helleborus


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


Run a fork through your vegetable patch or flowerbeds. This will help

to aerate – getting air into the soil is important because plant roots need oxygen. Choose a dry day when the soil isn’t too wet. Don’t break your back breaking down large lumps of soil. Keeping them large can help air circulate and any later frosts will break them up.


Natural food sources for birds are in short supply during the winter. Give them a helping hand by putting food out for them. Keep food topped up but not full all the time – little and often is best. Enjoy your garden!

WHY SHOULD YOU PLANT THEM? Popular because they flower in cold winter and early spring, Hellebores herald the start of the New Year bringing a touch of colour to the garden. Commonly known as ‘Christmas Roses’ they are easy to grow and very hardy. They produce attractive flowers and their leaves create a perfect evergreen backdrop to spring flowering bulbs. HOW SHOULD YOU PLANT THEM? Plant in shady herbaceous borders and the areas between deciduous shrubs to give an early splash of colour. Happy in dappled shade they should be planted in rich, heavy soil that won’t dry out in the summer. Ideal planting companions include Snowdrops, Primrose, Cornus and Mahonia. The Fens | January 2019




WORDS GARRY MONGER ILLUSTRATION GARETH MONGER A property on the North Brink known as Bank House was built about 1722 and passed through a series of owners including Cicely Lowe, the Stone brothers, the Lake family and the Southwells. Jonathan Peckover (1755-1833) came to the town in 1777 and opened a bank in 1782 in the High Street. It soon moved to a site adjoining Bank House (which he occupied in 1794 and later purchased), eventually relocating to the Old Market in 1879. (A property on the South Brink was known as Bank House until the bank of James and Thomas Hill failed in 1825.) The Peckover Bank survived this banking crisis and in 1896 was one of twenty banks merging to became Barclays Bank. After the death of Alexander Peckover (1830-1919), Bank House passed to his daughters. The contents of the library were sold. (One hundred years later the story of this ‘Lost Library’ is about to be told by the National Trust.) His surviving daughter Alexandrina Peckover (1860-1948) left the estate to the National Trust in 1948. It was subsequently renamed Peckover House. The grounds contain a pets’ cemetery, the remains of the White Cross of the Lowe, carriage house, stable block and outbuildings. The Reed Barn restaurant also has a gift shop and second-hand book shop. The house and gardens are popular locations for weddings and other events and the Coach House and neighbouring Wainman House are let out by the National Trust. The riverside has changed much Photo credit: NT Peckover House

16 The Fens | January 2019

since the house was built, with the river becoming silted and shallow enough to be forded in places. Over time the banks were piled and the river made narrower and deeper. The last wooden structure was replaced by a stone bridge erected in 1758 and in use until 1855 when it was replaced by an iron bridge designed to swing to allow river traffic to pass. This swing bridge ceased to operate and was eventually replaced by the current Town Bridge. The river Nene at Wisbech gained another crossing downstream when the Freedom Bridge was opened by local MP Sir Harry LeggeBourke KBE on 22nd January 1971.

Since then some of the warehouses lining the riverbanks have been demolished and others converted into residential properties. Both riverbanks now have flood walls and the port area has flood gates to hold back rising river levels. The walls have recently been raised and inevitably will require further work in the future. The South Brink ‘Bank House’ is now known as Octavia Hill’s Birthplace House after Octavia Hill cofounder of the National Trust. Both former Bank Houses are now open to the public and are popular tourist destinations. Check websites for opening times and charges (www.nationaltrust. org.uk/peckover-House-and-garden and www.octaviahill.org). 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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ECIGZOO GOES FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CIGARETTE SMOKING EcigZoo started as an online business in 2012 and now has two stores in Wisbech and Peterborough. The founder of the company had started smoking at the age of eleven and eventually became a very heavy smoker, smoking between 20-40 cigarettes a day and later 25g of rolling tobacco per day. For over thirty years he tried numerous times to stop smoking and there were several periods of success, between six months and two years of abstinence, but life events always brought him back to smoking. Having tried Champix, Zyban, patches, sprays, counselling services, hypnosis and self-help books for over 20 years, nothing could stop his need for smoking for too long. Whilst the emergance of electronic cigarettes in 2007 helped some quit smoking, the ‘cigalike’ types were often too weak. Since the more powerful devices came out in 2011, EcigZoo’s founder was able to finally switch from smoking to vaping. Since switching he has never looked back,

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

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GET INTO WALKING SPORTS Walking sports are a great way to keep playing the sport you love when the traditional game’s pace becomes too fast. Lauren Bremner explains more... Walking Football has proven to be very popular throughout Fenland and the game was originally devised by Chesterfield FC in 2011 with the aim to keep people actively involved with football, who due to lack of fitness, mobility or other reasons cannot take part in the traditional game. Walking football isn’t solely aimed at older people, but can be a good way to socialise while maintaining a healthy lifestyle later on in life. The main difference to standard football is the walking element; if a player runs they concede a free kick to the opposing team. The game is low impact and minimal contact with slide tackles and forceful shoulder barges not allowed, the ball must be also kept below hip height. Walking football is played both inside and outside, the game was originally played without goalkeepers but they are now used in some versions. Walking Football is growing in popularity by giving so many more people the chance to play and 22 The Fens | January 2019

rekindle their love of football. Sessions are held Tuesday 9:3011am and Friday 8-9pm at New Vision Fitness, the Hudson Centre Wednesday 10-11am, Elm Road Sports Field, March and Monday 10-11am Chatteris Football Club. All sessions cost £2. Walking Netball is a fun way to enjoy exercise, socialise and make new friends. It does not matter if you haven’t played netball for many years or even never before, you can start playing walking netball at any age. Sessions all over the country have seen people aged 70+ joining in. Walking netball is also great for players with injuries or those with disabilities that restrict them from running and jumping. In the session you can expect fun warm up activities, learning new skills as well as a game, but everything is kept low impact with no running or jumping. Walking Netball is held at New Vision Fitness, the Hudson Centre Wisbech Thursday 9:30-10:30am

costing £2 a session. During the summer we also run Walking Cricket. This is a slower-paced version of the game ideal for men and women aged 50 plus. Walking Cricket is the perfect way to remain involved with the game or try for the first time, meet new people whilst staying active. Some sessions will include a chance to have a bat and bowl in the net as well as more tradition style game. Sessions are led by a qualified coach and are great for anyone, you can start playing at any age and no previous knowledge or experience of the game is needed. These sessions are nice and social with tea and coffee in the club house after. So does Walking Sport sound like a perfect fit for you? Just pop down to any of our sessions, all equipment is provided. If you would like more information visit our website www.activefenland.org Facebook @Active Fenland call 01354 622399 or email lbremner@fenland.gov.uk

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NOURISHING LIFE, LIVE TO THRIVE WORDS Marianne Killick, Acupuncturist MBAcC, BMAS. New Year is a time where many focus on all the bad habits and unhealthy things that they hope to give up. We’ve all done it, aiming to drink less alcohol, lose weight, quit smoking….only to give up before February has even begun. How about taking a different approach and rather than depriving and punishing yourself, look at how you can nurture and nourish yourself to feel better and not just live, but thrive? In our acupuncture practice we try to encourage our patients to adopt the ancient Chinese practice of yangsheng, which means “nourishing life”, so we get patients to look at all the wonderful things they can do to help nurture their bodies, mind and spirit so that life is about more than getting by. This can range from very simple things like endeavouring to start moving more, so getting out for a ten minute daily walk, to getting people to slow down, take time out and curl up on the sofa with a good book. Many people find life is too hectic and pressured, so just taking time to focus on your breath each day can calm your mind, help you feel more at peace and thus more likely to relax, resulting in less tension, less inflammation and less exhaustion. Rather than go on a strict diet, why not look at how you can add delicious nourishing foods in? So aim to add in a vegetable at each meal of the day, focus on how you can do this creatively so that your food is not only nourishing, but a pleasure. Look at food as something that is there to be a form of joy and healthfulness, not a form of torturing yourself with what you should and shouldn’t be having. Nourish your mind and spirit by taking up a hobby or a challenge, something you find fun, something that engages and challenges your brain and stops you from stagnating and feeling worn out and disengaged from life and people. Treat yourself to a few warm baths and an early night, as a well rested you is more likely to get the most out of the next day and handle any curved balls from life with greater ease. So use the energy of new beginnings that the New Year brings to embrace life and set yourself up for a fantastic year ahead.

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

WORDS RICHARD GROOM The history of the Straw Bear is something of a mystery. But we do know that as long ago as 1882 there was a tradition of taking someone dressed as a Straw Bear around the town. The idea was to entertain townspeople in return for a few pennies and food for ploughmen, who tended to be a bit skint in winter. Unfortunately, it’s believed that the tradition died out around 1909, thanks in part to a policeman who saw the innocent fun as ‘cadging’ and banned the bear. It happened every year on the Tuesday following Plough Monday. 24 The Fens | January 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

28 The The Fens Fens | | January January 2019 2019 28

A MIND ALL OF HIS OWN Short story by Alan Kahn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Walk of the month

A Seaside Stroll in Winter WORDS AND IMAGES AMY CORNEY

On a cold winter’s morning we headed out towards the coast to cheer our spirits and blow away the cobwebs with a brisk seaside walk. Just fresh back from the groomers, Twiggy smelt gorgeous so what better way to get our scruffy dog back than to take her to the beach. Having just celebrated her first birthday we thought she deserved a treat and her favourite place to run free and explore is the seaside. Packing up our car we started our journey to WellsNext-The-Sea with our excitable pup in tow. Parking in one of the town car parks we started our walk at the harbour side, which to be frank, was extremely windy! Battling our way against the breeze we walked along Beach Road checking out all the colourful boats that were moored up and hanging on to our hats! On arriving at the beach, we spotted the café and looked for the signs pointing us to the dog friendly section of the beach. Heading to the left of the café we walked through the pine trees towards the steps up onto the beach. Passing lots of doggies en route Twiggy was brimming with excitement and eager to play! As we 32 The Fens | January 2019

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

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

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

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

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


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Serving the Eastern Region for 90 Years

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

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Wisbech Office 12 & 13 The Crescent, Wisbech, Cambs. PE13 1EH Telephone: 01945 584113 wisbech@whitingandpartners.co.uk Information on which this article is based is correct at the time of publishing. Any updates are available on our website: whitingandpartners.co.uk

Health and safety is a concern for all small businesses and although those with fewer than five employees do not need a written health and safety policy, you’re responsible for your own welfare as well as that of employees and customers entering your home. We are running a series of ‘Start-Up’ seminars over the next few months. For dates and details have a look at our website: whitingandpartners.co.uk

whitingandpartners.co.uk Bury St. Edmunds | Ely | King’s Lynn | March | Mildenhall | Peterborough | Ramsey | St.The IvesFens | St. Neots | 2019 Wisbech | January 35


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GETTING EMPLOYMENT LAW RIGHT WORDS KIM CROSS, ASSOCIATE SOLICITOR AT FRASER DAWBARNS If you run your own business, many issues can give you sleepless nights and one of the most common of these is a difficulty with an employee.

employee, the contract will give you and the employee something to go back to.

• Review your contracts periodically. Tribunal claim fees were abolished last Employment law changes all the time year so if an employee wants to bring and employers often make the mistake a claim they can now do so with little of using the same contract for years, risk. Since then, the number of claims only finding out that the law is out of to employment tribunals has risen, date after they have encountered a reaching around 110,000 over the past problem. year. This figure doesn’t count claims that were either dropped settled • Put basic policies in place and At Fraser Dawbarns we or work to simplify and before getting tribunal. use them. Disciplinary policies and remove stress to from your property transaction. grievance policies are standard but it Despite the high number of claims, is alsoashelpful to have policies covering We keep you updated with all major developments only 536 unfair dismissal claims incapacity, the use of social media they occur and our fixed fee service helps you keep ended with the employee receiving and work computers etc. As with track of your costs. compensation but the time and employment contracts, these can be expense of going through a claim is drafted to cover the specific needs Our lawyers can provide advice on a wide range of something employers will wish to avoid, of your business. Policies like this help conveyancing matters including: and by taking certain steps you can managers and staff know what’s reduce your exposure to a claim. expected. • House Purchases and Sales •AsNew Build point, Purchases a starting you should make • Have at least a basic understanding •sure Remortgaging and Releasing Equity that the essentials are in place: of the types of claims that employees can make. If you have • Buying a Retirement Home written contracts of employment. an understanding of your obligations •• Use Buying a Shared Ownership Home Give these some thought so they and what might get you in trouble, • Transferring Ownership of a Home aren’t just generic but cover what you are less likely to find yourself in •you Buying a House as a Landlord need. If you have an issue with an difficulties. For example, one common • Moving into a Rented Home

mistake that employers often make is to dismiss someone who is frequently off sick, under the assumption that the employee can’t bring an unfair dismissal claim because they don’t have 2 years service. This might be right, but if the reason that the employee is off sick is due to a disability (which can include some forms of mental illness), they could bring a discrimination claim which is potentially more costly than an unfair dismissal claim.

Are you Buying, Selling or Remortgaging your Home?

Most employers experience difficulties with an employee at some point. The best advice is, when in doubt, seek legal advice. An employment solicitor is the best place to go for advice rather than relying on the experiences of others and, crucially, get advice before you take action. You may have valid grounds for wanting to dismiss someone but if you don’t handle the procedure correctly, you may end up paying compensation for a claim that you could have avoided by getting good legal advice.

total peace of mind,solicitors, contact Fraser Dawbarns today For highly For experienced property contact Fraser Dawbarns today Wisbech

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www.fraserdawbarns.com The Fens | January 2019


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

38 The Fens | January 2019

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

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

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

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



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A word from MP Steve Barclay

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE IN WISBECH AND ACROSS NORTH EAST CAMBRIDGESHIRE Happy New Year to everyone in Wisbech and across North East Cambridgeshire. Self-improvement is a big focus this time of year with getting fit, healthy and being more active amongst the top New Year’s resolutions for 2019. Now the festivities are over, it is a good time of year to take up a new sport or become more active. Active Fenland is leading the way in helping people to get active which is both good for their health and provides good fun through taking up new hobbies. I have seen first-hand the fantastic impact Active Fenland has had on our community since 2015, after I secured £250,000 for the Council to fund the three year project and drive participation in sport. Thanks to the work of the Active Fenland team the programme of walking football, no strings badminton, table tennis, swim fit and much more has been a great success. In 2018 a further £325,000 was awarded to Fenland and Peterborough to continue their work for a further 3 years. The Active Fenland team have also supported the development of Parkrun in Whittlesey and the Junior Parkrun in Wisbech and have some excellent new projects in the pipeline such as working with local businesses to promote staying active and being healthy in the workplace. Greencore (Wisbech) have already signed up to this and I look forward to hearing how the programme benefits the employees who work there. If you are interested in taking up a new sport, meeting new people and being more active, I urge you to get involved in some of the activities which Active Fenland are providing in your local area. No matter what your age, ability or level of mobility there is something on offer, from walking football, chair based exercises, beginners running sessions and activities for children. Information about what is on offer is readily available on the Active Fenland facebook page @ActiveFenland or online at: www.newvisionfitness. co.uk/whats-on.html I would like to congratulate Active Fenland Activator, Lauren Bremner and everyone who has either taken part or helped run sessions. It is great to see the wide range of affordable activities which have been made available across North East Cambridgeshire, making sport accessible to all.

The Fens | January 2019



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

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

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

WORDS David White, RSPB IMAGES Andy Hay (rspb-images.com) 42 The Fens | January 2019


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This dish is now on Dog in a Doubl et’s brand new fire pit menu, where th ey are now cooking on wood and charcoal fo r unparalleled flavour

CHICKEN SATE WITH PEANUT AND COCONUT SAUCE PREPARATION TIME LESS THAN 15MINS (PLUS MARINATING TIME) COOKING TIME - 10MINS FOR THE MARINADE • 4 tsp coriander seeds • 1 tsp cumin seeds • 2 tsp minced galangal • 2 stems of lemongrass thinly sliced • 4 tsp caster sugar • 1 tsp fish sauce • ½ tsp white pepper • ¼ tsp turmeric • 125ml coconut cream • 60ml water • 1 chicken breast per person • Skewers • Lime wedges and coriander leaf to finish FOR THE SAUCE • 1 tsp sesame oil • 2 shallots finely diced • 2 cloves of garlic crushed • 1 inch of ginger grated • 1 can coconut milk • 4 tbls peanut butter • 4 lime leaves shredded finely • Sugar and fish sauce to taste 44 The Fens | January 2019

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


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

THE TWIST - You can use just about any meat you like. In South East Asia the main ones are pork and beef, but we love prawns as well. You can even make the sauce and freeze it, making a quick rescue for leftover meat such as roast beef or turkey. Chillis give a kick, as does your favourite curry powder. Add vegetables to the sauce and you have a main meal with rice or chips

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NEW YEAR fashion

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





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Book a styling session with me, Style by Sara. Whether it’s an instant fix or a wardrobe makeover, I can help you on your way to a better version of yourself! Sara Fontanella – 07913 036896 | s_f00@hotmail.com | FB – Style by Sara | IG – Sara.Fontanella The Fens | January 2019


WHAT’S ON Include your event for free by emailing hello@thefensmag.co.uk MURROW VILLAGE HALL NEW YEAR’S EVE PARTY Monday 31st December

Nibbles on tables included, disco and licensed bar. Ticker prices in advance £10 adults, £5 children and under 3s free. If purchased on the door £15 adults, £5 children and under 3s free. Tickets available from Alex on 07891 175649

EXOTIC CAT SOCIETY CAT SHOW Sat, 5th January, 12:30

Members of the Public can come and see the cats from 12.30pm. Admission is £2.50. Tydd St Giles Community Centre, Tydd St Giles, near Wisbech, Cambs PE13 5LN Contact: Barbara on 01945 780027

CRAFT & LAUGH Tuesday 8th January,2pm

Craft and Laugh, Tuesday afternoon 2-4pm at the United Reformed Church in Wisbech. £7 per session - crafting materials and refreshments provided - places limited, booking essential suitable for all - beginners to experienced crafters Venue: Wisbech United Reformed Church, Castle Square, Wisbech, PE13 1EH

NEW SECONDARY SCHOOL FOR WISBECH DROP IN CONSULTATION EVENT Wednesday 9th January at 3pm Have your say on designs for a new Secondary School for Wisbech at a drop in consultation event in January. Cambridgeshire County Council,

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. fenlandmusiccentre.org.uk 48 The Fens | January 2019

with Design and Build Partner Kier Construction, will be holding events to seek views on the proposed Fenland Education Campus from 3-7pm on Wednesday 9 January. The two simultaneous events will be held at Wisbech St Mary’s Community Centre, Beechings Close, Wisbech St Mary, Wisbech, PE13 4SS and at the Queen Mary Centre, Queen’s Road, Wisbech, PE13 2PE. The proposed 600-place Secondary School, built on Cambridgeshire County Council owned land, will serve the current population and villages west of Wisbech and respond to rising pupil numbers from new residential developments in the town. The Campus will also include purpose-built accommodation for 60 pupils with Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs. This will enable the TBAP Unity Academy to relocate from their current leased site in Wisbech. Land on site will be retained by the Council for future expansion of the Secondary School and for a Primary School to provide the additional school places that would be required when the planned development of West Wisbech occurs. Subject to planning permission, construction begins in autumn 2019 with TBAP Unity Academy moving into their new accommodation in late autumn 2020 and the Secondary School ready for occupation by September 2021. Venue: Queen Mary Centre, Queens Road, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. PE13 2PE

church for the whole family and is once a month where Mum and Dad don’t have to cook! Enjoy making crafts, hearing Bible stories, singing songs and exploring faith in a creative way together, finished off with a tasty home-cooked meal. Entry is free but donations are welcome. Children, please bring an adult with you. Hosted by The King’s Church Wisbech. Cost: Free Age Range: All-Ages (children must be accompanied by adult) www.messywisbech.org.uk After Hours takes a break in January but will be back on the 1st Feb.

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

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


pilates tues nights 6.30pm till 7.30pm Murrow Village Hall. 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 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


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Don’t miss this tale which combines eccentric festive musical comedy with superb acting from Joe Leat (The Mystery of St Finnigan’s Elbow,

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

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 lbremner@fenland.gov.uk or call 01354602116 Stitch Studio Sewing School Wisbech St Mary Come and learn with like-minded people and get creative, small friendly classes with qualified tutor – Jayne Walpole. To book and more info: jayne@stitchstudio.co.uk or www. stitchstudio.co.uk or 07584341160. Saturday 5 January 2019

9.30-4.30pm 1 Day workshop – Learn to Sew the Basics. Monday 7 January 1.30-4pm or 6.30-9pm 6 week course - Beginners dressmaking. Tuesday 8 January 9.30am-12 noon 6 week course. Dressmaking & sewing crafts. Wednesday 10 January 1:30-4pm or 6.30-9pm 6 week course - Improvers & Advanced dressmaking/pattern cutting. Saturday 12 January 9.30-4.00pm 1 Day workshop - Learn to love your overlocker. Sunday 13 January 9.30-4.30pm, 1

Day workshop – Perfect Fit: Adjusting Sewing Patterns Saturday 19 January 9.30-4.30pm, 1 Day workshop Sew Saturday. Sunday 20 January 9.30-4.00pm, 1 Day workshop - Learn Pattern cutting techniques 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.

BOGGY TALES Tuesday 22nd - Saturday 26th January

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

The Fens | January 2019


Eastern Angles Theatre Company presents

THE FENLAND SCREAMERS & OTHER BOGGY TALES You’re invited to a party… Eastern Angles return to Peterborough’s Key Theatre Studio with a madcap spoof on the well-known panto genre. The Fenland Screamers & Other Boggy Tales, from the makers of Stoat Hall and The Mystery of St. Finnigan’s Elbow, is a New Year’s Eve party with a difference... It is the 30th December, 1930. Young amateur sleuth siblings Sloppy & Sixpence arrive at a remote house in the middle of Clinker Fen, invited by a distant relative to celebrate the New Year. Tempted by the idea of a grand weekend party, they find the place deserted apart from the creepy butler, Tangent. He is expecting them and despite their misgivings, they decide to stay. Other guests arrive, all strangers to one another, and as the fog descends, cutting them off from the outside world, they pass the time by telling stories. It becomes apparent that they all have a guilty secret, and are unnerved when Tangent tells them the local legend of the Fenland Screamers, avenging spirits who emerge from the bogs to drag the guilty back down into the mire. When one of the guests mysteriously disappears, they all begin to fear for their lives. Can Sloppy & Sixpence solve the mystery before the Screamers come again and take them all, one by one? The cast of five includes Joe Leat 50 The Fens | January 2019

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

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

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Profile for The Fens magazine

The Fens Wisbech January 2019  

The Fens Wisbech January 2019