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Wisbech & Surrounding Issue 26 | September 2020


A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens

Inside this issue

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


J B Turner – Farm Shop, Gorefield

So many yummy things in the Farm Shop, why not come and pay us a visit? We have great plants at great prices with fresh stock each week plus lots of local suppliers and locally sourced produce.


Find us at Fendyke Lane, Gorefield, Cambridgeshire PE13 4NF t: 07809 240004 e: info@togetherwegrow.biz www.togetherwegrow.biz


The Team at J B Turner work hard to support their local community & local producers, offering delicious fresh produce in the shop Mon 2020 10-4 | Tue 10-4 | Wed 10- 5 | Thur 10-5 | Fri 10-4 | Sat 9-4 The Fens | September

September 2020

WELCOME Welcome to your new look copy of The Fens magazine. It’s been a difficult few months for many of us and that’s no exception for us. We went into lockdown just as our April edition printed and we were very lucky to get it distributed and out to our readers, but we were forced to take a break from physical copies until things settled down. We are thrilled to now be back, albeit with a few changes. Most noticeably, we have changed the size of the magazine. I firmly believe that every problem offers an opportunity, and our opportunity was to look at ways to relaunch with some big changes. We have decided to cut our paper usage and produce a ‘handy’ size publication which over the year will save 24 tonnes of paper (that’s equivalent to one full lorry load). Our new eco-friendlier size also enables us to reduce the costs for our advertisers, meaning during this difficult economic uncertainty, we can actively help our clients reach their customers. But don’t worry, we will still have the same quality, informative editorial that you are used to reading. The magazine might be smaller, but it is as mighty as ever. In this issue we introduce a few new regular features as well as some fantastic interviews and a roundup of our favourite seaside towns. It’s great to be back!



Wisbech & Surrounding Issue 26 | September 2020


6 This month’s happy news 8 Photography Exhibition 12 What’s hot in September 16 Portraits of heroes 20 Local history 22 Staying active 25 Nick Livesey shares his journey to the mountains 30 Richard shares his favourite beaches 32 How Sphagnum moss has a central starring role

Editor & design: Natasha Shiels hello@thefensmag.co.uk Assistant Editor: Richard Groom richard@pcbonline.co.uk Resident photogarpher: Chris Brudenell chrisbrudenellphotography.co.uk Sales & distribution: 07511 662566 hello@thefensmag.co.uk Cover: Caroline Forward @carolineforward With thanks to our brilliant contributors

A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens

@thefensmag www.thefensmag.co.uk

Inside this issue

The Fenland NHS Portrait artist From the Fens to the Mountains Exploring the area on two wheels


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

The Fens | September 2020


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



During isoltaion, Bygones Cafe provided my elderly father with delicious meals. The driver always spent a few moments checking my dad was okay. That alone was very appreciated. We are very grateful to them.

Spike Cee and Penny Bliss Jex are part of 50 Backpacks for the Homeless who, during lockdown, organised food parcels for all those in need. I was lucky enough to help out and watching the time and effort they put in was incredible. Also part of the team who deserve a special mention are Matt Pancutt who helped Spike out running it and Phil Johnson (of Phillips Flooring) who gave up all of his time doing collections and deliveries. There were lots of volunteers who did fab, but these four especially went above and beyond.

- Susan Bains

- Bex Gay

ANDREW CALLAGHAN My dad Andrew and ECHO Company UK CIC deserve a thank you. My dad in particular have been non-stop organising picnics for groups of people who have not been able to meet during the pandemic. He is a real credit to the community - Maddie Callaghan

THE ALAN HUDSON DAY TREATMENT CENTRE I’d like to thank the nursing and home team of the Alan Hudson Day Treatment Cnetre at North Cambs Hospital for their hard work and still delivering exceptional services to patients - Toni Bird 6

The Fens | September 2020



I’d like to nominate Ant at Fenspirits because he turned brewing alcohol to make hand sanitiser to give away to keyworkers. And he’s still going now...

Alan has been doing twice weekly shops for the residents in our close. He also upkeeps parts of the town which Wisbech in Bloom maintain. He and his wife have given up so much of their time

- Melissa Bullen

- Janice Sandom


CAMBRIDGESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL AWARDS £150K TO WISBECH TOWN COUNCIL Communities Capital Fund allows Wisbech Town Council to ‘crack on’ with plans to revitalise Wisbech Market Place. The Cambridgeshire Communities Capital Fund was launched on 1 April 2020, and set aside up to £5m to help support community projects across the county. The fund was also to support community led projects to improve health, wellbeing, social and economic opportunities in our communities. It was therefore an exciting opportunity for Wisbech Town Council to submit a bid for £150,000, match funded by WTC by £50,000 to regenerate and revitalise Wisbech Market Place. The bid criteria was to assist in addressing issues with a specific priority for the local community, to address inequality of access to services or activities, and to implement community involvement in delivery or design of the project. The bid was recommended to the County Council’s Communities and Partnerships Committee meeting and the final decision was taken today, 6 August 2020, to approve the bid. Leader of the Council, Councillor Miss Samantha Hoy, said, “Councillor Andrew Lynn, Chairman of the Market Place Committee, has been the lead on this project alongside Terry Jordan, Town Clerk. They have worked incredibly hard to ensure the market place renovation planning was creative, thoroughly thought out and allowed customers, traders and businesses to all benefit”. The only stumbling block has been access to funding which winning this bid has now addressed. The Cambridgeshire Communities Capital Fund recognised that this project seeks to both improve the appearance of Wisbech Market Place and introduce new and improved

facilities which will enhance its use as both a trading area and a community space. One of the key aspects to this project is to develop a pedestrianised zone (operating between 7.00 am and 4.00 pm within the Market Place area and, secondly, to prohibit car parking on the Market Place and to undertake physical works such as new seating and waste bins, re-paving, decorative water features, plus a feature to attract the public to want to spend time in that space. By bringing people together, whether it be for retail activity or community activity, the Market Place plays an important role in improving community cohesion/integration and people’s wellbeing and mental health. Making Wisbech Market Place a more inviting and welcoming place for people to spend time will bring many benefits to the community. Councillor Lynn commented, “This vision is going to become a reality now, and with confirmation of this additional funding to make the project possible, the Town Council cannot wait to crack on with the work. Our next step will be to have further meetings with the Civil Engineers to finalise all of the the designs and obtain quotations to carry out the project”.

The Fens | September 2020




11TH - 20TH SEPT 2020

This year, the Wisbech High Street Project will be participating in the Heritage Open Days event by hosting an online photography exhibition of unseen images of Wisbech dating from the 1940s to 1960s. Visit the project website between 11th and 20th September to view a collection of black and white photographs of Wisbech which were found in Fenland District Council’s engineer’s archives. Photos include war damage, images from around the town centre, the river, the canal and new roads and housing schemes. In addition to the online exhibition there will be a small selection of images displayed in the window of 9-10 High Street (former Bon Marche store) www.highstreetwisbech.org.uk


The Fens | September 2020






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



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

The AngloSaxons called ber SeptemEST HARV Gerst Monath (Barley Month) or TIME Haefest Monath (Harvest Month) celebrating ber Gerst Septem and The of August The end harvest.called barley Saxons the Angloh e Monat Haefes or Month) (Barley ber combin Monat will see plentytof start ofhSeptem barley the ting celebra Month) st ing (Harve harvesters out in Fenland, as plough of of start and of August endbegins t. Thetion batch next harves for the and cultiva e combin of plenty see e will ber chang the , Septem people of lots For crop. cereal ing is d, asr plough Fenlan terss out harves to autumn summe frominlate in season batch of next thefor forout begins n a selectio and look te time, favourition their cultiva e chang the , people of lots For flowers crop. the as cereal colours brown and red of gold, is autumn to r summe late from e. season in treess chang and selectio out for Brownsnand lookthanks toaEC time, with favouri their Corney Jamiete Image Farmred and brown colours as the flowers gold, Sons of and trees change.


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

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

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

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

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


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The Fens | September 2020



BULGOGI BEEF SKEWERS John McGinn, head chef at Dog in a Doublet, shares a great summer recipe

INGREDIENTS 1kg rib eye steak (we’ve used wagyu for the delicious fat content) 1 small pear, peeled and coarsely grated 100ml tamari soy sauce 3 tbls light brown sugar 2 tbls toasted sesame oil 5 cloves garlic, minced 2 inch freshly grated ginger 2 tbls gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) 2 tbls vegetable oil, divided ORIENTAL SALAD 2 cooking apples, cut into juliennes 1 small celeriac, peeled and cut into juliennes 1 tbls cider vinegar 1 tbls caster sugar

METHOD 1. Cut the steak into 1-2cm chunks. 2. In a medium bowl combine pear, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and gochujang. Add the steak, cover and marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight, mixing occasionally. 3. For the salad: simply mix all the ingredients together and refrigerate until needed (it does mellow and improve over time). 4. For the crispy rice: cook as per instructions on the packet then

allow to cool covered with a weight on top to add pressure and press the rice. Chill then slice or break into pieces and deep fry until crisp and golden. 5. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a cast iron wok or pan then working in batches, add steak to the pan in a single layer and cook, flipping once, until charred and cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and steak. 6. Serve immediately, garnished with the salad and crispy rice, coriander and soy. .

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Portraits of

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


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

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


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

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

ABOVE Karen is a paramedic based in Moseley, Birmingham. OPPOSITE Kate is a midwife at Mapplewell The Fens | September 2020


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

Locally, you can find out more about Caroline Forward by visiting her website at www.carolineforward. co.uk or @carolineforward Caroline is also the founder member of OuseLife drawing group (www.ouselife. co.uk) which hold regular exhibitions. They are currently working towards their next exhibition in the Cathedral due to be staged in 2022.

THIS PAGE Kate is a midwife from Barnsely. TOP RIGHT Katie is a Coronary Care Staff Nurse living in Sutton, Cambridgeshire 18 The Fens | September 2020

Caroline also accepts commissions, so please do get in touch if you have been inspired by her work.


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DIGGING UP THE PAST Lieutenant Robert Pate Resident historain Garry Monger is a member of FenArch and works to promote community archaeology in the Fens

Robert Pate was born on Christmas Day, 1819, in Wisbech. Tragically, his mother died when he was a toddler, on 27th April 1821. His father Robert Francis Pate, a wealthy corn dealer had married Maria Wilson in Cambridge on 16 March 1818, (his father came from humble origins, but through trade became a gentleman and eventually Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire and High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire in 1847). After Robert finished his education in Norwich, in 1841 his father purchased for him a Cornetcy in the ‘10th The Prince of Wales’s Own Royal Light Dragoons (Hussars)’. He purchased a Lieutenancy the following year. In 1844 whilst serving on a tour of duty in Ireland, his horses (including his favourite) and his dog were put down because of rabies, and Pate began to show signs of mental instability. He returned to Wisbech without leave in 1844. He resigned his commission in March 1846 and took up residence in Piccadilly, London, where he lived the life of a recluse. He took frequent walks in the royal parks, where his strange behaviour drew attention. THE ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT There had previously been assassination attempts against Queen Victoria 1840, 1842 and 1849. Despite this the Queen, with only a small escort, was visiting Cambridge House in 20 The Fens | September 2020

Piccadilly on 27 June 1850 to visit her dying uncle, Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge. About six-thirty that evening her carriage was leaving the courtyard gates, when from a small crowd Pate stepped forward and struck her on the head with the brass ferule of the short cane he was carrying. The blow was heavy enough to crush her bonnet and draw a little blood. This attack was the only one of about eight in her reign that caused Victoria actual harm; the mark on her forehead remained for a decade. Pate was immediately arrested by Sergeant James Silver and taken to Vine Street police station. Later he was held at Newgate Prison. THE TRIAL Pate was put on trial at the Central Criminal Court. The Presiding Judge was Mr Baron Anderson. Pate was charged with three indictments: firstly with unlawfully and maliciously striking the Queen, secondly, with alarming the Queen and thirdly, with breaking the peace. The Attorney-General, the Solicitor-General, Mr Welsby, Mr Bodkin and Mr Clerk were engaged for the prosecution and Mr Cockburn QC and Mr Huddlestone for the defendant. Pate’s defence team did not plead insanity, but asked for a lenient sentence on the grounds of a momentary lapse caused by a weak mind. The jury took almost four hours to reach a verdict of Guilty. The prisoner was immediately

called up for judgement and sentenced to seven years of penal transportation. John Francis (in an earlier attempt with a gun) had been sentenced to be hanged and quartered! The Queen commuted the sentence. IN TASMANIA Pate's background probably ensured that he received lenient treatment while in prison, and on the subsequent journey to Van Diemen's Land (now known as Tasmania). When he arrived on 14th November 1850 he was assigned to ‘The Cascades’ penal settlement on the Tasman Peninsula like any other criminal. He served less than a year and was then transferred to more amenable work in the community until the end of his sentence. LATER LIFE Pate's father died in 1856. Pate only received an annuity of £300 and a share of his personal possessions. However, his money problems were solved the following year when Pate married Mary Elizabeth Brown, a rich heiress. They lived in Hobart Town, Tasmania for eight years before moving to London. Pate’s attack on the Queen received further publicity when newspapers published articles about subsequent attacks. Robert Pate lived a quiet life in the capital until his death in 1895 at South Norwood. Under the terms of his will (dated 20th July), he left £22,464 to his widow, the sole executrix. He is buried in Beckenham Crematorium and Cemetery with his widow, who died in 1900.

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Stay Forever Fit with Active Fenland

Please find our mini workout in this copy of your local Fens Magazine, feel free to cut this out and pin it to your fridge! It’s a taster of what you will get in our new Strength and Balance Booklet SAFETY Most people can exercise without speaking to a doctor first, especially if their medical condition is under control. However, if you get any symptoms from a heart, kidney or metabolic condition you should phone your healthcare professional to check before you start. TIPS • Prepare your exercise space by clearing away unnecessary clutter • Keep something sturdy and solid nearby for support (for example a kitchen work surface) • Have a glass of water ready to sip as you exercise • If you are exercising on your own, keep a telephone nearby, just in case you need it • If you experience acute or severe pain anywhere or dizziness then stop and rest. Remember to always warm up, before you start you can do this by performing the first exercise on the sheet. At Active Fenland, our aim is to 22 The Fens | September 2020

help people be more active; whether that’s supporting them to start new activities, continuing with activities or even advising them on the type of activities that benefit them. NHS recommends 150 minutes of Moderate Activity for all adults per week, that’s from the age of 18 years old to infinity! It’s important to keep this up, even in later life, however it’s also important to understand that an 18 year old’s moderate activity may be very different to someone over the age of 60. Strength is an important area of exercise at any time in our lives, with the NHS recommending us to do two 45 minute sessions of strength based activity per week, this doesn’t mean you need to join the gym but can include everyday tasks such as carrying heavy shopping bags. Staying strong in later life can mean you have better balance and are therefore less likely to cause yourself injury through falling. Sometimes understanding what exercises are considered to be ‘strength based’ and knowing how to perform them can feel daunting. However, Active

Fenland has created a BRAND NEW Strength and Balance Booklet- a step by step guide you can easily follow and do in your own home. It contains a warm up, flexibility and strength exercises and finishes with a cool down. This guide will explain each exercise with a description, contain a photograph of the exercise being performed and give a recommended number of repetitions to perform the exercise properly. You can complete the booklet from start to finish or pick and choose the exercises you’d like to do, as long as you warm up and cool down! The booklet will also contain lots of other hints and tips on how to stay safe when performing the exercises, how to incorporate activity throughout your day and more information on other services available. This guide is completely FREE! If you would like a copy please email activefenlandbookings@ fenland.gov.uk or call 01354 622498 and one will be posted out to you.

Always warm up before you start Sit up straight in a supportive chair, take 2-3 deep breaths in and out to calm the mind and body in preparation for the exercises. Remember to follow the safety advice in the above article. Chair marching

Heel lifts

Alternate leg extensions Straighten out one leg in front of you, then lower slowly back down. Start with 3 each leg then build up. Make this harder by lifting the leg slightly off the chair as you straighten it.

Arm raises Raise your arms out to the side and above your head, then slowly lower back down. Start with 3 then build up. Make this harder by going very slowly and hold for 1

Lift heels off the floor, then place them back down. Lift Lift one leg at a time, as if toes off floor then place down. marching. You can add your Do these slowly and fully. arms in too, if comfortable. 30 seconds

30 seconds

Mini squats Stand tall, slowly bend your knees keeping your body upright. Push up and return to standing. Start with 3 repetitions then build up. Make this harder by going further into the squat, and holding for longer.

Small lunges Take a small step forward and bend both knees. Push back into standing. Start with 3 repetitions each leg and build up.


Cool down

Let your breathing settle and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment!


Make this harder by stepping further forward, ensuring you return from the lunge position in one steady step backwards. Hamstring stretch Hold for 20 seconds

01354 6 www.f

Chest opening Breathe Hold for 20 seconds 3 deep breaths

Public Health England, Active at Home, 2020

DISCLAIMER - Any participation in any exercise or activity is done at your own risk. If you have an injury or any medical condition that might make taking part detrimental to your health you should consult your doctor or health professional before undertaking any exercise. Pictures are only provided as a guide.




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From the Fens


to the Mountains

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


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

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

Where to walk?

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

Respect the Environment

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

In 1981 we moved again, this time to Peterborough where I lived until my mid 30s. Once again it was a culture shock as I had grown accustomed to the freedom afforded by life in the countryside. I have always thought of Peterborough as a frontier town both geographically and culturally. To the west the landscape changes abruptly from the lowlands of the Fens to the gentle undulations of Rutland and Northamptonshire. It was at this time that several new townships were nearing completion and incomers looking for work arrived, profoundly changing the face of the city while in the Fens to the east life carried on as it had done for decades. I often thought back to my days in Deeping and yearned to go back, envying friends who lived in villages such as Sawtry, Glinton, Castor and Ailsworth. Fortunately my family home was within walking distance of Ferry Meadows which I got know very well along with a stretch of the Nene Valley between Alwalton and Wansford. My friends and I 26 The Fens | September 2020

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


of what I might find in an environment I didn’t yet understand. Twelve months later I found myself face to face with my first mountains, the Langdale Pikes in the Lake District. Along with two of my oldest friends I climbed Harrison Stickle on a day that changed my life and set me on a path that ultimately led to a career in Snowdonia. We were daunted by the task in hand and relied heavily on each other for moral support on what was the biggest adventure we had ever undertaken. Our lowland legs complained every step of the way but the incredible views kept us going until at last we reached the summit. Throughout the ascent I had been scared stiff but for me, things would never be the same again. The genie was out of the bottle. The next couple of years saw us visiting the mountains several times a year but eventually my friends got married and started families which meant our trips would be less frequent. That wasn’t going to work for me, I was well and truly hooked and made enquiries into joining the Peterborough Mountaineering Club. The idea of a mountaineering club in one of the world’s flattest places may seem an unlikely one but the ‘PMC’ was formed in the 1950s and they soon acquired an old quarryman’s cottage in Snowdonia for the princely sum of £60. In those days not many folk had cars and once a month club members would charter a bus to take them to Wales to enjoy all forms of mountaineer from hillwalking right through to ice climbing and skiing in the winter months. I was nervous about joining but if I wanted to get to the hills more often it seemed the best way to do it so I signed up for my first meet and quickly found an eclectic group of people bound together by a shared passion. It didn’t matter if you were a doctor or a toilet cleaner, gay or straight, the mountains are a great leveller and soon strip away any notions of one person being inherently better than another. For the next ten years I visited the club ‘hut’ at least once a month and eventually joined the committee as members secretary. In that time I became a proficient rock climber and winter mountaineer struggling to remember a life which didn’t revolve around mountains. Overcoming adversity in potentially dangerous situations and sharing a joy that is unique to wild places has formed bonds of friendship and a camaraderie that will last a lifetime. I became eager to promote these gifts to others who, like me, may have been struggling in an urban setting. I wanted to become a writer but with no formal

qualifications I failed to get a foot in the door but found I had an eye for photography. I was a prolific contributor of illustrated articles in the club magazine which over a number of years gave me plenty of scope for honing my craft. After leaving school I had been somewhat adrift but I now had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do with myself; I wanted to live in the mountains, write about and take photographs of them and, perhaps, gain a mountain leader qualification so I could introduce others to the love of my life. But how? I had very little money and not one GCSE to my name. Maybe I was destined to live an unfulfilled life spent in dead end jobs where my only release would be weekends and holidays away in the hills. “Know your place, Livesey. Get back in your box!” How I came to achieve those ambitions and more besides is a story for another time but I am certain that our move to that little Fenland town all those years ago and being allowed to roam freely in nature played a big part in how my life has panned out. Snowdonia is a landscape photographer’s paradise and there is nowhere I would rather be. It isn’t, however, any more beautiful than Fenland, it just exhibits a different, more obvious kind of beauty where the photographer doesn’t have to work so hard to create a pleasing image. Beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder and our perception of what constitutes a beautiful landscape is governed by the emotions it evokes in us and the extent to which we feel connected to a particular scene. By the time I had been bitten by the photography bug I was living in Rockingham near Corby and spent my time getting to know the Welland Valley when not in the hills. As a consequence I never got to shoot the landscapes of Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, the Fens, apart from once. Out of the blue I remembered a spooky little cottage we used drive past on childhood trips to Hunstanton. I wracked my brains to recall where it was and failing miserably I searched the

The Fens Fens | | September September 2020 2020 The

27 27

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

internet and with the aid of Google street view I found it. One morning, I rose early and drove from Rockingham and parked at the Dalmark grain silo near Thorney. There it was, Canary Cottage. Waiting in the pre-dawn made for an eerie vigil but gave me time to compose the image in a way that maximised the sense of isolation. At first light I took the shot and scarpered, for I was sure I could hear the faint refrain of a banjo somewhere. One day I shall return.

About the author

Nick Livesey is an author, award winning landscape photographer, videographer and


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Back to the beach

circa 1975

With travel restrictions easing in recent weeks, this summer at last gave us the chance to head for a wonderful stretch of coastline on our doorstep WORDS RICHARD GROOM Joni Mitchell was right: you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. That was true for all of us during lockdown. Things we took for granted were suddenly just memories. (And I don’t just mean toilet paper and corned beef.) For many of the people I spoke to during that glorious, sunny, but tragic April, one of the things missed the most was the sea. When the weather gets hot, we are drawn to the coast, and millions of us were looking out for news that we could go there again. For most of us in the Fens that would mean North Norfolk. From my home near Whittlesey, I can jump in the Honda and be walking on Snettisham Beach in under an hour. During lockdown it was tantalisingly close. Thankfully, over the past few weeks I’ve been able to make it there once again, and to do so in a Covid-safe way. LOVE FOR NORFOLK’S COAST My love affair with the North Norfolk coast started in the 1970s. As kids, holidays for us usually meant a caravan in Hunstanton. Days were spent with buckets and spades on the beach. Late afternoons saw us 30 The Fens | September 2020

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

Holkham beach, photo by Natalie Briggs

Richard and his brothers paddle on a windy Hunstanton beach,


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

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

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

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


Woodwalton Fen by J Barnard

Sphagnum moss: superstar! This month, Wildlife Trust’s Caroline Fitton looks at how Sphagnum moss has a central starring role in a pioneering project Under an exhilaration of vast skies, rolling grasslands and shining waters, the visionary landscape of the Great Fen is now 20 years into its 100 year vision, recreating long lost precious Fenland habitats via the carefully controlled raising of water levels and rewetting of peat soils vital for capturing carbon. This evolving watery haven for rare fenland species is a new green lung for the ever burgeoning populations of the county. Fitting in with the overall vision, an ambitious two year project, Water Works, is pioneering ways to develop a more sustainable future for fenland resources – its soil, water and people, which could change the mind-set of a generation as well as achieving positive action against climate change. The project, with £1m of funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund, is exploring new ways of ‘wet farming’ or paludiculture, and is now into its second year, despite a six month hiatus with Covid-19. Trials are about to get underway (in specially prepared planting beds which have taken months of planning and creating) of growing novel crops – new grains, rushes, grasses and mosses which ‘like to get their feet wet’. One of the stars of these is sphagnum moss – a really fascinating plant with a long history . . . Sphagnums are a group of beautiful mosses that grow naturally on bogs in the UK - an amazing plant whose special qualities could be one of the answers to climate change, sucking up gases released from farming. These simple plants have lots of tiny pores that suck up water from their surroundings: the moss 32 The Fens | September 2020

gathers moisture from the air in misty weather, collects rain water and draws up soil water to where it is needed. As well as absorbing 10 times more fluid than the same volume of cotton wool, they are naturally antiseptic and were used in bandages and nappies in World War 1. Once it grows into a continuous lawn, sphagnum can out compete weeds and doesn’t need fertiliser; the soil beneath is protected by remaining moist and, as the sphagnum grows, it can trap additional carbon and actually grow soil. One of the other key benefits of this moss is that you can harvest the top (it grows right back) then dry and mill the harvest to create a substitute for peat compost for growing seedlings. This means that growing our own ‘compost’ for vegetable producers and horticulturalists to use – preventing peat from being harvested from wild, natural bogs and wetlands and transported from as far away as New Zealand or China. Sphagnum is a contender for the longest lived plants on the planet. Each strand of moss grows ever longer, with the bottom turning slowly into peat. As many of our bogs have been forming since the ice age some of the individual strands may have been alive for as long as 8000 years.


As planting gets back underway this month after a long pause since March, the first bed of nine will be filled with bulrush – an amazing super hungry plant which will strip the incoming water of impurities and feed clean water to the rest of the beds. This crop can be turned into fuel, building materials, animal feed and cavity wall insulation. The other beds will then be planted with reeds, future grain crops, and flowers which could be the next thing in medicine or flavourings – think tasty beer or a new gin botanical! There will be 11 novel crops: fenland species which have had a variety of uses in the past and have future potential. Food – watercress, wild celery, bilberry and water mint; flavourings – meadowsweet, bog myrtle; and medicinal uses– comfrey, gypsywort, lady’s smock, yellow flag and hemp agrimony. A socially

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

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

The Fens | September 2020



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

34 The Fens | September 2020

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

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

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