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Effective and fun revision Gender parity starts at home Get out into the garden




Puberty vs Menopause THE ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN! How to talk to your kids about… racism

Frome Diary



he Little Things Magazine doesn’t do listings – and neither do we! Instead of listings, Frome Diary offers you experiences and memories. We bring the Frome community together. Frome Diary is your very own social diary – it’s THE place to find out about local events, classes, gigs, workshops, activities, exhibitions, talks, launches, markets, fixtures, community meetings, support groups, businesses specials and so much more. Did you see that event poster in the shop window too late to get tickets? Is the poster for your favourite band hidden under old posters on a community notice board? No more Frome FOMO. With over 250 events listed at any one time, Frome Diary makes sure you will never suffer with ‘fear of missing out’ again. Search events by category, by venue or by date. View the website as a poster

board of current events or filter to list events on a particular day, over a week or over a month – just make sure you have the number of reliable babysitter on speed dial. It’s free to post your event on the site. We also promote your event on social media through Frome Diary Facebook and Twitter accounts or on Instagram you can follow the #whereinfrome hashtag. For those that really suffer from FOMO, you can sign up to our weekly newsletter, The Frome Buzz, via the Frome Diary website for a round up of the best Frome has to offer. fromediary.com fromediary fromediary fromediary

It’s another corker of an issue filled with edgy content,

practical advice (which you don’t have to listen to) and puns galore. After the ‘Beast from the East’ and it’s little dopelganger the other weekend, Spring still feels a long way off. To get us through the dreary days, we’ve teamed up with Wolf Wines in Bath to add some Weekday Sinners to Slummy Mummy’s brilliant Weekday Dinners. It’s the only kind of wine-ing we like! We are also opening up the conversation around menopause, looking at the physical and emotional effects of perimenopause and menopause. Worryingly, it tends to hit women around the same time as their offspring become teenagers so we’ve included some information about the signs of puberty and some ideas about how to keep your cool – if you’re not in the midst of a hot flush, that is!

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Contents 5 6 8 11 13 18 20 22 24 26 28 29 30

Be sure to follow us on social media to stay in touch and to find out about The Little Things events.


Lisa Merryweather-Millard editor@thelittlethingsmagazine.com DESIGN & ART DIRECTION

Rather Nice Design hello@rathernicedesign.com CONTRIBUTORS

1 Daddy 3 Daughters, Jen Chow, Liam Drew, Katy Harris, Suzy Howlett, Debra O’Sullivan


Wells Printing


The Selfish Parents’ Guide to Good Parenting Buying yourself a little time How to Get What You Want As though it were their idea 15 Things to Try Keeping the kids entertained Talk to your kids about ... racism How to start the conversation Slummy Mummy’s Weekday Dinners Saving time and stress Weekend Treat Henny & Joe’s take on cupcakes your childs’ learning To Revise, Or How to Revise? The most effective revision techniques Equal Measures Addressing gender inequality Puberty vs Menopause The fight no-one is winning Spawn Again What to do in the garden now Private Matter Interview with dad and author, Liam Drew Co-habition Living together and the law The Parent Trap When it’s not what you thought

© Rather Nice Design Limited 2018. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used or reproduced without written consent. Rather Nice Design Limited (company number 10214533) is registered in England and Wales. The registered office of Rather Nice Design Limited is 12 Wallbridge Avenue, Frome, BA11 1RL. The Little Things Magazine has taken great care to ensure the content is accurate on the date of publication. The opinion expressed in each article is the opinion of its author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Little Things Magazine. Therefore, The Little Things Magazine carries no responsibility for the opinion expressed thereon. The published material, adverts, editorials and all other content is published in a good faith. The Little Things Magazine cannot guarantee and accepts no liability for any loss or damage of any kind caused by errors and for the accuracy of claims made by the advertisers.

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She Hit she bit

l k a t o t e m i t s a ti w

A fun rhyming book for children, lightly introducing them to mental health issues. Find out more at www.shehitandshebit.co.uk

d a t e e h d e i d c e h C

Selfishparenting | Family

© Adobe Stock

Low effort, high impact activites to support your child’s learning and give you some time to yourself!


fter a full day at work, collecting children, dinner, clubs, sport, etc. who has time for extra education at home? Yes, there’s mornings in between the frenzy of sorting uniforms, packed lunches and the hallway of hell when kids are (supposed to be) getting their shoes on and of course there are weekends, but we all deserve a break. Here are our tips to feel good parenting while buying yourself some time to yourself. Win, win!




SPELLING OF COURSE YOU CAN USE MY PHONE Is this the bane of anyone else’s week? This takes a little bit fo prep to set up, but it gives you a little time each day. Record a short video of yourself on your phone. Say each word slowly, use the word in a sentence and then repeat the word again. Pause between each word to let them spell it. They can do it every day. TIME IT BUYS YOU: Around 10–15 mins every day, depending on how many spellings they have. Just enough time for a cup of tea and a few biscuits.

SHAPES WHAT A HUGE RHOMBUS! By the time kids finish Year 6, they should be able to identify all shapes AND know their properties. Give your kids some post-it notes or some bits of paper.When they find examples of different types of triangles and quadrilaterals around the house, they can label them. It will stop them scalene the walls for little while. TIME IT BUYS YOU: Around 20mins while they label up everything in the house. No doubt they’ll want to take you on a tour after but you should have long enough for a bit of internet shopping.

PHYSICS NOT SUCH AN ANGRY BIRD Not all video games are bad. Lots of them can be quite educational. Take Angry Birds for example – it’s pure physics. It’s all about the angle of the bird in the slingshot. Kids playing the game learn about acceleration, projectiles, velocity all through firing birds from a slingshot. Get them to work out how to shoot it further or faster. Whathappens when the trajectory changes? TIME IT BUYS YOU: All day if you let them. Just think of all the things you could get done if only you could let them play video games all day long. thelittlethingsmagazine.com |


Men Only


(FROM ONE DAD TO ANOTHER) Gywn, co-creator of girls and author of the1 Daddy 3 Daughters blog, helps a brother out…

© Adobe Stock


’ve got a confession to make. I’ve been lying to my wife for a long time. A very long time. It all began in January 2011 when some casual earwigging at work led to me formulating a cunning plan – a new mum was raving about the iPad her husband had bought her for Christmas. I wanted an iPad and the the sheer euphoria with which she spoke made me green with envy – that was until she mentioned what a life-saver it was during the long night feeds with her new baby. She even said it made being a new mum so much more manageable. Aha! That got me thinking. Daisy (my wife) was 6 months pregnant with our first baby and the tech-geek in me longed for this new must-have gadget, but – despite my most persuasive efforts – all angles of ‘negotiation’ had failed. ‘We (you) do not need another gadget’ was the stock response from Daisy who was standing firm in the ‘this sounds like a complete waste of money’ camp. She was right, of course. But I don’t give-up that easily. Surely I could uncover the benefits of the iPad to a new mum? I researched ‘apps for new parents’ and – would you believe it – there were tons of them: breast feeding apps; sleep-training apps; nappy changing apps. You name it, there was an app for it. I gathered my research and prepared my case carefully and, like a nervous entrepreneur entering the Dragon’s Den, broached the topic not long after Matilda’s birth. I’m not 6|

| thelittlethingsmagazine.com

sure if it was the new parent cocktail of sleep deprivation, elation and exhaustion which caught her momentarily off-guard, but she actually bought it. So I bought it. Quickly, before there was chance to change her mind. And so it was, ‘we’ become the proud parents of not just a beautiful new baby, but also a shiny new iPad. I’ve since refined the approach to further feather my nest of electrical delights. The magic, my fatherly friends, is in the following two words: ‘so that…’. LET ME EXPLAIN… I’ve been reading about these multi-room music systems – I think it would be great if we got one so that the children can have their music on in one room and we can listen to ours in another. You know what, we should get a (massive curved) new TV and the girls can have the old one so that they can watch their programmes in the playroom and we can watch The Crown etc on Netflix in Ultra HD. I think we should look into getting a bigger car (ideally a 4x4) so that the three kids can sit in the back and you’re not squashed in the middle in the back. And, I miss talking to you – you can guess how beautifully that worked.

We (I) should get a smart turbo trainer for my bike so that I can exercise from home. It’s safer than being out on the roads and I can help out with the girls whenever you need me rather than being miles from home when there is a poo explosion/meltdown/ [insert other common parenting incident here]. My shopping list for this year includes: A drone so that the girls get outside more; a GoPro so that we can capture more videos of the family and; (possibly my most ambitious to date) a holiday with my Dad-friends so that… umm… there’s still work to be done on this one. Let me know if you’ve succeeded – I could use some help here.  So, fellow dads, if you’re reading this I hope you feel inspired by my evil genius. The key is putting the emphasis on how your idea will make family life easier so that you display the credentials of the considerate family man that you clearly are, rather than unwillingly unveiling the big kid your partner suspects you to be. Follow more of Gwyn’s witty fatherly antics on IG @1daddy3daughters or via www.1daddy3daughters.co.uk

Humanist Naming Ceremonies Naming ceremonies can be held for children of any age to welcome them in to the family, celebrate their lives and to smother them in the love and warmth of your family and friends. humanist.org.uk/elizabethwright Email: erbwright@hotmail.co.uk Phone: 07896 758636

Frome Wholefoods Local | Organic | Ethical | Fairtrade Knowledgeable staff Special orders Bulk discounts Festival & event supplies Delivery available on request 8 Cheap Street, Frome, Somerset, BA11 1BN Phone 01373 473334 Email fromewholefoods@hotmail.co.uk

spottyherberts.com 5 queen street Bath BA1 1HE Spotty Herberts donates 1% of all takings to sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity. Charity registration number in England and Wales (299679) and in Scotland (SC042789)




RIDE IN A WHEELBARROW Grab those seventies-style patched jeans and explore outside. Hold a worm. Know how to identify snowdrops and daffodils. Have sunflower growing competitions. Plant cress and actually eat it. (Does anybody still eat cress?)



will admit to being a little mystified by the three tier school system when I first moved to the Frome area. Ten years later I can now see that the best Infant and First Schools allow our youngest children to stay in the ‘bubble of belief’ that is characterised by fairies, dragons, monsters and bearded men with red coats. A belief that you WILL be a footballer, an astronaut or the fifth member of Little Mix. Who knows, perhaps Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle dreamt of being princesses once. This is the time to dream big and we have a responsibility to ‘light the spark’ and let children get just a taste of all the possibilities that are available to them in the future. With that in mind we asked a range of children in our first schools what they most loved doing and then set about building a curriculum around those dreams. Our children are fortunate but there is no reason why their dreams cannot be re-created in the comfort of any living room, garden, park (or maybe save the science experiments for Grandma’s house…) 8|

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MAKE YOUR OWN CD Our children have technology at their fingertips and with the help of programmes such as GarageBand we can all be Ed Sheeran. Encourage them to think of a name for their band and design a suitably eye-catching album cover. Make copies and sell it to unsuspecting relatives. Christmas presents sorted.


BUILD A DEN AND ATTEMPT TO SLEEP IN IT The first part is easy and you don’t even need to be at Forest School. Use garden furniture, branches, the dog’s blanket and lots of pegs to make a cosy den. You can even build it inside. Say ‘Yes!’ enthusiastically when they ask to sleep in it. Teach them how to be star-gazers. Make sure you leave the back door unlocked just in case they don’t last the night…


GO AWAY WITHOUT YOUR PARENTS If you’re lucky, your child’s school will run a week-long residential trip which will doubtlessly include some amazing outdoor pursuits activities. Nothing beats the excitement of sharing a room with eleven slightly smelly nine year olds.


BLOW THINGS UP! Google ‘How to make a volcano’.

This could take at least three days to build and then ten minutes to destroy your model with vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. Encourage your child to think like a scientist. Most pharmacists probably started out stripping the petals from their neighbour’s roses and mashing them with water to create a ‘pink perfume’. Keep questioning and asking ‘Why?’ and ‘What if?’. There are some fantastic ‘slime’ recipes on the internet. It’s going to get messy…


SING A SOLO FOR AN AUDIENCE It’s amazing to watch even our youngest children standing in front of an audience and singing their line with confidence! Not a dry eye in the house. Never tell our children they can’t sing. Instead, build their confidence by giving them opportunities to sing and to see you singing, whatever your vocal talents.


BE IN THE MOVIES Apps such as iMovie can turn even pre-schoolers into budding Spielbergs. Add music and create sound effects. Older children can learn how to use a green screen. Get the play dough out and make your own Aardman-style animation.


MAKE YOUR OWN RADIO SHOW I still have fond memories of my brothers and I making Tiger Thompson’s Top Tracks using a microphone and our portable cassette player. There’s an app for that now, of course. You can write a script, interview the neighbours and play the music that you made in number 2.


LEARN A LANGUAGE We have a number of bi-lingual children and staff in our schools who are a rich resource. Embrace diversity and see what can be learned from other cultures. At home, don’t underestimate the power of Dora The Explorer to hook your child onto Spanish. Learn some simple German songs from the internet. Watch Peppa Pig in French with your child and see if you’ve still got that GCSE in French that you like to boast about.



CLIMB THINGS AND GROW STRONG BONES Start with gates, then progress to trees, skateboard ramps and climbing walls. We’re lucky with our idyllic countryside locations but there are some fabulous indoor climbing centres around that run classes for even very young children.


JUMP INTO A STORY Allow children the time and space to re-tell and re-enact their favourite stories. Help them to write their own play, plan costumes, make tickets and build a stage in the garden. My seven year-old self penned ‘Mr Bump-the Musical’ and performed it under the car port as my long-suffering neighbours watched patiently from deck chairs.


DANCE LIKE EVERYONE’S WATCHING Being able to dance is a great skill for

life. Catch them before their inhibitions kick-in and dance with your children in the kitchen. Watch dance videos together and sign themup for Street or Jazz dance classes. Find a way for children to dance on a real stage.

trombone! Don’t underestimate the wonderful sound that can be created by a class of ukulele-strumming 8 yearolds. Learn alongside the children and try out that Coldplay song you’ve always enjoyed. You could even sing along (see 7).



MAKE YOUR OWN MAGAZINE Interview friends and relatives. Take photographs of the pets. Add illustrations and create your own comic strip. Write fake letters for the problem page and answer them. Include recipes and crosswords. Who knows, it could become a future career!


LEARN TO PLAY AN INSTRUMENT Thankfully, things have moved on since learning the recorder during the ’70s. Children now have numerous opportunities in our schools to learn the ocarina, guitar, drums – even the

Sing a solo for an audience

USE REAL TOOLS Build a go-kart. Cook a threecourse meal. Maria Montessorri believed that when given sharp knives and scissors, children will respect the tools and use them with purpose. Children from three years old can be introduced to woodwork using child-sized hammers, saws and drills. When not producing radio shows or Mr. Men plays George Muxworthy is the Early Years and Literacy Leader across Rode and Norton St. Philip First Schools’ Federation. She still dreams of being a dancer on Top of the Pops and a drummer.

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12/03/2018 06:30

Talking Points



Guest writer, teacher and published co-author of Return to Kirrin,Suzy Howlett , explores The Famous Five and racism. Words Suzy Howlett

© Adobe Stock


h-oh! I’ve just had a chinwag with a lovely friend who has something new to fret about. We were getting dewy-eyed over memories of curling up, as children, with a bit of escapist mystery and adventure – especially if it involved islands, unsupervised children, and suspicious ne’er-do-wells. But (you’ve guessed it) those old stories don’t pass muster when it comes to dodgy attitudes to gender, race and class which we rightly want to leave behind. Should she read them to her children? She wanted to – just as we enjoy sharing favourite rhymes and games – but could she? I think she can. As a child, those Enid Blyton characters were my friends. I couldn’t resist sharing them with my own children. But I’m a teacher who works in Equalities and my job often involves challenging racist behaviour. How can that work?

Most of us don’t mind comfort blankets – they provide simple pleasure and eventually children venture out without them. A few chocolate buttons sneak into the balanced diet, too. Similarly, why not enjoy some jolly escapism with dollops of self-reliant children thrown in? It won’t turn anyone into a xenophobic Stepford Wife. I read Jane Austen, but don’t feel the urge to wear bonnets or hanker after a bit of embroidery in the parlour (well, not often). I recently heard a group of seven-yearolds discussing their favourite Famous Five adventures, laughing at the silliness of the boys’ attitudes to what girls should

and shouldn’t do. They reckoned the joke was on Julian (pompous oldest cousin) because George (independent “tomboy”) did her own thing anyway. Yes, the writing is not exactly bursting with literary merit, and yes, the attitudes reflect the awful prejudices of the time – Enid Blyton was born in 1897, after all – but these Year 3 children can see that the books are retro. They understand perfectly well that things have changed, and they find it interesting, and worth discussing. Actually, I wonder whether Anne, even with her love of cooking and tidying up, is less of a stereotype than some of the pink and glittery fashionpeg characters pushed at girls today. She and George, clearly a hero, represent two different ways you can be yourself (though it’s a pity George feels she has to be a boy to do what she wants). But, just as you sneak the comfort blanket into the washing machine, do square up to a discussion or two. A conversation about snobbery or racist stereotypes is a great opportunity – though keep it for later reflection unless your child expresses an interest along the way. It’s all about the stories, after all. You and I can list a hundred wonderful children’s books out there which will challenge, stimulate, delight, provoke and comfort. Quite right, too. Bring them on, please! But let’s not over-think this and find yet another thing to worry about. Read them, share them, love them, but talk about them. Can we make a place for the comfort blanket, with its easy pleasure,

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Saturday 19TH May from 9:30am–11:00am Springmead School, Beckington

To mark the occasion of the Royal Wedding you are cordially invited to a ‘Right Royal Fete’ at Springmead School, Beckington, on Saturday 19TH May. With the wedding due to start at 12.00pm you will have plenty of time to travel (in your carriages) home before it begins! There will be live screening of the build-up to the event in plenty of places around the school. Parking is kindly being provided by SEA in the Castle Grounds, opposite Springmead School, Castle Corner.

Meeting a Prince & Princess A Royal Fancy Dress competition for the youngsters (so get your thinking caps on) A Royal Treasure Hunt Regal archery on the back lawn Crafts & activities Court Jester activities Music Tea, coffee & cakes (donations) To let us know you’re coming, please RSVP info@springmead.com

Talking Points

even if it is looking a little suspect around the edges now? I think we can. GET TALKING With very little children, stick to things they know about and can see. The “brown egg, white egg” way is a good example. If you are cooking with your child, and they comment on the different colours of the eggshells you are using, crack the eggs open and show your child that they are the same inside – just like people! Or you could wrap two identical presents up differently, and talk about it that way.



When your child is a little older, don’t worry that talking about racism or sexism will make them notice difference where they hadn’t seen any – you needn’t make the ism the issue at this stage if you’d rather not. Instead, use the huge sense of fairness young children have. We’re all familiar with the cry of “it’s not fair!” If you are reading a story which shows prejudiced attitudes, such as the comment “…girls can’t do what boys can…”, you can raise your eyebrows knowingly, and when you get to a natural place to stop reading, perhaps repeat that phrase, and ask if your child thinks that’s fair. Take the discussion on from there. Sometimes a simple “what a silly thing to say!” is enough, and sometimes it isn’t.


In some of the old books I read, the word gypsy is used with negative overtones. You might notice your child using expressions like ‘chav’ or ‘pikey’. You want to be able to discuss things openly, so try and avoid a telling-off tone, but don’t leave it unchallenged. Turn the situation into an opportunity – ask, “what does ‘chav’ mean? Why do people say it? Is it to make people feel bad? Is it to try and stop people making friends with them?” Talk about real people you and your family knows, and why it matters what you call people. Keep the lines of communication open, so you can come back to a discussion, perhaps a little at a time.


Think about your own language carefully, and how you talk about others, people you are friends with, people you admire, and why. Your

Rosa Parks: Creative Commons


The same goes for comments your child might make, perhaps provoked by a portrayal of a character in a book or film. “Jess doesn’t get to be Elsa when we play Frozen, because she’s brown” is one I heard recently. Ask why Elsa can’t be any colour? The Mum I overheard told her child that the artists who chose how Elsa looks in the film could have chosen a different-looking Elsa, and that the story would be just the same. Her child replied: “we don’t have to copy”. It got her child talking and thinking, and they were chatting about it as they walked home.

attitudes are more influential than those in books, whether you talk directly about any isms or not. The wider your social group, the better.


As children move towards the top of Primary School, there is lots of scope for discussing really big issues like slavery and apartheid, heroes like Rosa Parks, and role models like Malala Yousafzai. Ask at school what books and resources you can use. They may have some great ideas and books which they can lend you.


Get a wide spread of reading material, so that there is plenty to challenge the earlier stories. There are hundreds of books which can get the discussions going, while being lovely to share and enjoy. This is often the easiest way to look at things. The online lists are huge, so if you’re overwhelmed start with The Book Trust: ●● The Skin I’m In: A First Look At Racism, Pat Thomas (age 4–7) Simple and cheerful. ●● Amazing GraceMary Hoffman (age 4–7) Heart-warming and positive. ●● I’ll Take You to Mrs Cole, Nigel Gray (age 6–10) Great for challenging snobbery. ●● Bad Girls Throughout History, Ann Shen (age 8–adult) Full of amazing illustrations and role models from around the world. Inspiring! ●● Yokki and the Parno Gry, Richard O’Neill

Rosa Parks in 1955, with Martin Luther King Jr.

and Katharine Quarmby (age 4–7) Celebrating Roma Gypsy culture with gorgeous illustrations by Marieke Nelissen. thelittlethingsmagazine.com |

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WEEKDAY SINNERS We’ve asked Sam, founder of Wolf Wines, to suggest some wine (rather than the usual whine) to go with our Weekday Dinners.

Katy Harris, founder of Slummy Mummy’s Kitchen gets us out of a pickle with a week’s worth of family-friendly, quick and easy recipes.

Wolf Wine celebrates the dreamers, the artists, the winemakers who have that flair. We are passionate about small production, craft wine from all over the world. As long as it’s interesting, made in the right way and tastes great, we’re all over it! To find out more, visit The Den at Green Park Station, Bath or visit their website www.wolfwine.co.uk for information about tasting parties, events and how to buy wine.



hate the idea of buying fish that has been farmed abroad or endangered so I try to buy sustainable fish whenever I can. My salmon comes from the Frome Food Assembly. It’s ethically and sustainably farmed locally and it tastes amazing too!

INGREDIENTS ●● 4 to 6 large raw salmon fillets, skinned and de-boned ●● 2 packs of fresh spinach ●● 2 red onions ●● Zest of 2 lemons ●● 1 nob of butter ●● Salt and pepper ●● 4 courgettes ●● A pinch of nutmeg

Try with a cr German Rie isp, dry slin the Sex, Dru g like gs and Rock’n’Roll Riesling

●● 1 teaspoon of dried dill © Adobe Stock

●● 1 bag of new potatoes ●● 1 pack of ready rolled savoury puff pastry ●● 1 beaten egg and a pastry brush for glazing ●● A few sprigs of fresh parsley or dried if you don’t have fresh

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1 On a lined baking tray unroll the puff pastry and cut in half leaving the other half for the top of the pie. 2 Melt some butter in a wok and stir fry the spinach until it starts to wilt then drain in a colander, straining out any excess water with your hands. 3 Spread the wilted spinach over the puff pastry square leaving a small gap around the edges. 4 Sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg, dried dill and some salt and pepper. 5 Place the salmon fillets side-by-side over the spinach, brush with melted butter and sprinkle over some lemon zest (saving some for the potatoes). 6 Brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg and place the other pastry square on top. With your fingers gently press around the edges to seal the pie. Remove any excess pastry with a sharp knife or scissors, brush the top with beaten egg and place in a hot oven

(I suggest 180ºC ) for approximately 25 minutes until pastry puffs-up and turns golden brown. 7 Boil the potatoes until cooked then smash them with a potato masher so they are broken-up but not completely mashed. Add butter, chopped fresh parsley, salt, pepper and a sprinkling of lemon zest. 8 Wash the courgettes, then top and tail. Peel the courgettes in to strips using a vegetable peeler. Once you have peeled all the courgettes, gently fry in a half and half mixture of butter and olive oil until they start to soften and take on some colour. Season with salt and pepper. 9 Cut up the pie and serve with courgettes and potatoes. Yum!

Weekday Dinners

SLUMMY MUMMY’S EASY MOROCCAN VEGGIE TAGINE WITH FRUITY COUSCOUS This is the perfect recipe to introduce children to food from around the world. Mildly spiced, very sweet and packed full of veg, it’s absolutely delicious. To make this a meat dish, just add raw chicken to the pot with all the other ingredients.

INGREDIENTS ●● 4 carrots ●● 2 sweet potatoes ●● 1 large white onion

fruity Try with the he ac en Gr a at zn Ga

●● 1 can of chickpeas ●● Fresh coriander to serve ●● 1 small butternut squash ●● A handful of frozen peas ●● 2 tablespoons of pure honey ●● 3 tins of chopped tomatoes ●● 2 tablespoons of Ras El Hanout (a spice widely available in both healthfood shops and supermarkets)

FOR THE COUSCOUS ●● Dried couscous ●● A handful of dried apricots ●● A handful of dried sultanas ●● A handful of flaked almonds ●● Fresh coriander and lemon wedges to serve


1 Peel and chop the veg into large chunks and place in an oven-proof dish with all the ingredients and a large splash of water. 2 Place the lid on top and cook at 160°C until the vegetables have absorbed all the liquid and become soft. If the tagine becomes dry during the cooking process just add a splash more water. 3 Cook the couscous according to packet instructions. Once cooked, fluff-up the couscous with a fork, add a glug of olive oil and the dried fruit. 4 To serve, sprinkle the flaked almonds on top of the couscous along with the lemon wedges and fresh coriander.



ith two meat-eaters in the house and two vegetarians, we try to eat the same meals at least once-a-week or else it becomes a culinary nightmare. Meat-free Mondays have become a popular trend in many of my friends’ households so we gave it a try too and it works-out wonderfully. I absolutely love veggie Paella and, luckily, everyone in my family does too!

INGREDIENTS ●● Rapeseed oil ●● 1 red onion, sliced ●● 1 head of broccoli ●● A handful of spinach ●● A handful of frozen peas ●● 500g paella rice or long grain white rice ●● 1 red pepper, cut into thin strips ●● A teaspoon of chopped garlic ●● 1 pack of mange tout or sugar snap peas ●● 1 pack of baby corn (or tinned or frozen) ●● 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika ●● 2 teaspoons of fresh turmeric ●● 2 litres of hot vegetable stock ●● Wedges of lemon and chopped, fresh parsley to finish


1 Place a paella pan – or a large wok – on the hob over a mediumto-high heat and carefully add the oil when it’s up to tempertaure. Try with th e Au 2 Add the onion, garlic, smoked a rich and stum, robust paprika, all the veggies – except Ribera del Duero for the spinach – and gently fry. from Spain 3 Add the rice and stir coating it in the lovely red mixture. 4 Pour 1.5 litres of the stock over the rice and also add the turmeric. Let it bubble over a medium heat until the liquid has been mostly absorbed. Taste the rice at this point – it should be 70-80% cooked and feel firm between your teeth. 5 When the rice is almost cooked, add the spinach and a small amount of stock. Don’t overcook the rice – it still needs to have a bit of bite to it. 6 Once the paella is cooked and the stock has been absorbed decorate with wedges of lemon and the fresh, chopped parsley. 7 If you want to add a bit of ‘meatiness’ to the paella there are some fantastic vegetarian meat and fish substitutes available.The list of products is endless – you can even buy vegetarian prawns!

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Weekday Dinners



his is a family favourite of ours. It’s quick, easy and versatile. If you don’t have the vegetables listed, substitute them for whatever you do have – frozen work well too!

INGREDIENTS ●● 1 large white onion ●● 1 tin of sweetcorn ●● 4 peeled carrots ●● 6 sticks of celery ●● 4 large peeled potatoes

richer Try with a e the lik e it h w ty frui hite, Timothy W nc la B in a Chen

●● A handful of frozen peas ●● 1 pack of bacon lardons ●● 4 free range chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into chunks ●● 2 cloves of crushed garlic ●● 2 vegetable or chicken cubes ●● 1 tablespoon of dried tarragon ●● Salt and pepper for seasoning ●● 1 pot of British double cream ●● Butter or oil for frying ●● Fresh parsley to decorate (optional)


1 Finely chop the onion, carrot and celery into bite-sized chunks. 2 Transfer to a large flame-proof cooking pot on the hob along with the bacon lardons and fry in the butter or oil for a couple of minutes. 3 Chop the potatoes into large chunks and add to the pan with the sweetcorn, peas, garlic, dried tarragon and stock cubes. 4 Add enough water to cover the vegetables plus a bit extra. Simmer until all the veggies are soft but not overcooked. 5 Add the cooked chicken breast and the pot of cream. 6 Season with salt and pepper. If you don’t like your chowder chunky give it a few bashes with a potato masher to break-up some of the vegetables. This will also help to thicken the soup. I like to serve mine with a sprinkling of fresh parsley and eat it with warm, crusty bread.

Chocolate Orange Crêpes with fruit filling I like to think I’m a great cook but, for some reason, pancakes are not my forté. My husband is the ‘King of Crêpes’, so here’s his recipe for this indulgent treat.

INGREDIENTS ●● 50g orange-flavoured chocolate, broken up into small chunks ●● 200ml of British milk ●● 120ml of British single cream ●● 30ml of cocoa powder ●● 120g plain flour ●● 2 free range eggs ●● Oil for frying ●● 1 bag of frozen forest fruits ●● The zest of one orange

Try with a re d dessert wine such Myriad, a So as the uth Af fortified mer rican lot

●● 1 tablespoon of sugar


1 In a pan, warm the milk and the chocolate very slowly until the chocolate has melted, then pour the mixture into a food processor along with the eggs, cocoa powder, cream and flour. Whizz the mixture up until it is smooth and pour into a jug. Chill the mixture for a few minutes. 2 Defrost the mixed fruit, add some grated orange zest and a sprinkle of sugar. Warm slightly in the microwave so the mixture is room temperature. 3 Pour the crêpe mixture into a hot frying pan with a little oil. Once browned, flip-over to cook the other side. 4 Place a tablespoon of the fruit mix in each crêpe and roll up. Serve just as it is, or with ice cream.

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If you don’t have any frozen fruits, just use what you’ve got. Tinned peaches, apricots or some over-ripe bananas will work just as well. You could even scatter some chopped nuts on top.

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Weekday Dinners




y children love wraps and this is a great alternative to an expensive takeaway. Try to buy free-range chicken if you can afford it. If you can’t afford free-range chicken breasts, you can buy a whole free-range chicken and joint it. Once cooked, you can use the left-over meat in many lastminute meals. I freeze any leftovers to use in an end-of-week recipe like this.

INGREDIENTS ●● 4 free-range chicken breasts ●● A bowl of breadcrumbs (use stale bread, blitz in a mixer and freeze for when you need it) ●● A bowl of whisked egg ●● A bowl of plain flour ●● A bag of spinach ●● 2 ripe avocados ●● 2 packs of halloumi ●● 1 pack of wholewheat wraps

orle Try with the Th – r de un rg bu Spat and a young, fresh ir bright Pinot No

●● The zest of two lemons ●● 2 tablespoons of dried tarragon ●● Vegetable oil for frying (or any other oil suitable for deep frying)


1 Add the lemon zest and the tarragon to the breadcrumb bowl. Cut the chicken breasts into strips with scissors then dip each chicken strip into the flour ensuring it’s coated all-over. 2 Dip the floured chicken into the egg bowl, coating it all-over. Now, drop into the breadcrumb bowl making sure

the chicken is covered in the seasoned breadcrumbs. Repeat the process until all the chicken goujons are floured, egged and bread-crumbed. 3 Gently fry the goujons in a wok filled with vegetable oil or use a deep fat fryer. 4 Drain off any excess water from the halloumi, cut into thick slices and place in the hot oil for a few seconds until the halloumi starts to brown. 5 Once the wraps have been gently warmed in the oven, remove them and place two chicken goujons in each wrap, top with halloumi, fresh spinach and slices of fresh avocado. Roll-up the wraps and it’s done! Fresh, simple and so quick. If, like me, you’re vegetarian, you can use tofu or any other textured protein meat alternative. These wraps can even be eaten cold and packed into lunchboxes. Huge thanks to Dan at Frome Hardware for laser-etching our steak-slice and cheese strings! www.fromehardware.com

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Henny & Joe’s TAKE OVER



t Henny & Joe’s, we love a good collaboration – especially one in the food and drink world. When we took a trip to the famous Magnolia Bakery in New York a few years back, it set us on an inspired path to create our own goodies with our beloved chai. We’ve now tried everything, from chai-der (chai and cider), to donuts and macarons; but we remember our first collaboration very well. In our early years, Celia from the Bath Cake Company suggested we make some chai cupcakes, which was music to our ears! We gave them a bottle to experiment with, and we went home to bake a dozen ourselves. At the time, we were newbies to baking and this super-easy recipe opened-up doors. The results were amazing and it became a recipe that we still use to this day – it’s a winner with the boys and their friends!

BOOK REVIEW: THE USBORNE BOOK OF GREEK MYTHS Last summer we took the boys to Greece for a short break. However, we forgot to take any books! Our evening stories were on the line here so we had to improvise and think of something quick. Lottie ended up reciting Greek myths from memory which the boys really enjoyed and couldn’t wait to hear more of. That Christmas, as if by pure magic, the boys received a book about Greek myths from Santa! Its a great read and each tale is the perfect length for bedtime stories. We always discuss the morals in the story and what we would have done in the same situation. We would highly recommend this book!

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CHAI BUTTER-CREAM CUPCAKES Preparation time: 15 minutes plus cooling and chilling Baking time: 25 minutes INGREDIENTS For the cupcakes (makes 12) 4 eggs 200g butter 200g sugar 200g self-raising flour 5 tablespoons of chai For the chai butter-cream frosting: 125g butter Splash of milk 180g icing sugar 2 tablespoons chai

METHOD 1 Preheat the oven to 180ºC (fan 160ºC)/350ºF/gas mark 4. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake papers. 2 Cream your butter and sugar together. 3 Add your eggs and chai and beat together until you have a smooth consistency. 4 Fold in your flour. 5 Bake in the oven for around 25 minutes until the sponge bounces back when you press it. P.S. If you’re one of the few people that doesn’t like chai, then don’t worry – they don’t have to be chai cupcakes! This recipe can be varied to make any flavour you like. These along with other great recipes can be found on our website. www.hennyandjoes.co.uk/recipes thelittlethingsmagazine.com |

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All Hallows TAKE OVER

TO REVISE,OR HOW TO REVISE? THAT IS THE QUESTION! Dr Trevor Richards, Educational Psychologist and Headmaster of All Hallows Prep School, discusses strategies for learning and looks at the effectiveness of different revision techniques.

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oo often, emphasis is placed on teaching pupils content and not enough on teaching effective strategies for learning. A holistic, evidence-based education should help our children and young people understand what works in terms of learning and what does not. Given the broad aims at the heart of a truly effective education, good schools increasingly strive to develop both children’s subject-specific knowledge, skills and understanding whilst also fostering their understanding of how best to go about learning, study-skills and exam techniques (as well as their intellectual character, of course). This not only involves developing such skills and understanding as part of our work with pupils in school, it also underpins much of our planning for

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teaching and learning. Parents are a vital partner in the education process too – if they’re to support their children’s learning it’s important that they understand what works. Although academic research can be hard to translate directly to supporting your child and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ for learning, what does recent psychological, neurological and educational research tell us about which approaches to revision are most effective in maximising positive outcomes? The capacity to hold on to and recall information is key to improving memory, knowledge and learning and, hence, performance in assessments. Two techniques have been rated as being very effective for improving long-term memory: PRACTICE TESTING This is where pupils have to generate an answer to a question. It can include past papers, multiple-choice questions or doing practice answers. It’s a technique that has been extensively researched and is consistently found to be one of the most effective ways to improve learning. It is often engrained in the revision resources now widely available online and in the school’s preparation for tests and assessments that increase in formality as children move along their educational journey. As parents, you can support your children by testing them at the end of a period of solo revision. Short, informal quizzes work, too! For practice testing to be most effective, it must be done at “low-stakes”, meaning it should not increase stress levels. Little and often may well be a highly effective approach.

All Hallows TAKE OVER

Sources: Bradley Busch (2017) John Hattie (2015)

DISTRIBUTED PRACTICE Sometimes referred to as “spacing”, distributed practice involves doing little bits of work often, instead of a lot of work all at once (i.e. cramming). Essentially, pupils remember more if they spread out their learning; for instance, one hour a day for eight days rather than eight hours in one day. Spacing is effective because it allows time for pupils to forget and relearn the material, which helps strengthen it into their long-term memory. This is why regular breaks

in revision are important and that an hour of focused, productive work, is often better than an extended period of ineffective revision or learning. It is also one of the reasons why, with notable exceptions, school timetables typically space out activities and subjects across the week, rather than teaching them in large blocks of time. The following techniques have been found to be relatively effective strategies: ELABORATIVE INTERROGATION Asking “why is this true?”, “why might this be the case?” or “how do I know this is the case?” helps students to think about material and make connections to previously learned information, as well as develop their higher order thinking skills. However, this technique does require pupils to have a solid base of knowledge for it to work effectively. This often occurs during general discussions and debates at home, as well as in lessons and activities in school. INTERLEAVED PRACTICE Interleaving is where pupils mix up either the types of problem or different subjects, to avoid “blocking” their time on just one type of question or activity. This helps keep things fresh and makes it easier for pupils to identify similarities and differences between the materials they are studying. Again, interleaving helps pupils stay active in their learning. Lastly, the following two strategies have been found to be somewhat ineffective in improving young people’s recall of information at a later date – despite them being the bedrock of many students’ revision for some time:

to lead to long-term learning. I often tell pupils that we were not aiming for glow-in-the dark revision resources! This is because highlighting is often done on autopilot, does not help pupils make connections from previous learned material and is not an active, engaging process. By itself, highlighting is not the worst technique – it’s more a case of how pupils use it, with many excessively over-highlighting, making it little more than colouring in. Highlighting can still be useful in emphasising key words in exam questions, or identifying important information in bodies of text, however, but seems to be little use as a revision tool in itself. RE-READING. Although pupils may feel that they have learned something if they can point to a whole unit they have read, it is typically far less beneficial than they think. This is because people often end up skimreading, which does not require them to think deeply about what it is they are looking at. We know that thinking hard is when the deepest and most effective learning often takes place. Whether we agree or not, exams and assessments will be part of our children’s education for some time to come. If we can help them develop effective strategies in their learning we can not only maximise the outcomes and attainment, but also help ensure that we look after their long-term well-being. Education is a journey after all and keeping this in mind is also a critical part of cultivating the passionate, confident, motivated, risk-taking and happy learners we all want in our families and schools.

HIGHLIGHTING/UNDERLINING Despite being the method of choice for many pupils – and some teachers in the past – highlighting material often fails

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EQUAL MEASURES Though the issue of gender equality (and parity) will still take decades to resolve, there are some things we can do at home to challenge the status quo. Words Lisa Merryweather-Millard

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’m one for equality. If there are three biscuits left, each of my two kids will get one. And the other one? Well, I eat it. I could (and have in the past) tried to break it in half, but it never breaks equally and I’m stuck having to make the decision about who gets the bigger bit. I could take the time to remember who had the bigger bit last time or nibble on the biscuit until each half is equal, but I don’t. I can’t guarantee it’s equal. It’s not just food, I try to raise my daughter (9) and my son (6) equally as well. However, I do find that I’m a little more lenient with my second born. Or am I a little more lenient with my son? I find it hard to work out whether it’s birth position or gender that gives my son more freedoms than his sister had at his age. For the most part my partner is on the same page as me when it comes to our raising children. We want them to be strong, capable, happy, successful (to their own standards) and kind. We teach them both that they can be anything they want to be if they work hard. But we both know that will be easier for our son than for our daughter. We’ve never said that to our daughter and even writing it makes me feel like I’ve betrayed her. The truth of the matter is 100 years after 22 |

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(some) women got the vote, men and women are still not equal. I know this. My partner knows this. And sadly, I’m pretty sure, deep down, my children know this too. Much like my own upbringing, there is a lot of gender parity in our household. My partner does the cooking, I cut the grass. My partner bakes cakes, I fix the boiler. For a long time I had the ‘big job’ and he ran a business from home while holding down the fort . We didn’t plan it that way and we certainly didn’t make decisions about who does what job based based on how it conforms, or doesn’t conform, to gender stereotypes. It just worked out


that way. Despite blurring the lines, my son will still laugh when I tell him that girls can do construction or be pilots or play football. But not for too long, lest he gets an earful from his sister.

We’ve talked about the way in which we raise our kids and how to enable them to access every opportunity. We’ve talked about how it will be harder for our daughter, how she will have to be even better than the men who will be competing for the same job. Similarly, should our son wish to pursue a career in a traditionally female dominated sector, he will struggle. While opportunity and pay are not exactly the same thing, the gender pay gap is interesting in the context of gender parity. In the UK it’s estimated that it will take 100 years to close the gender pay gap and, according to the Global Gender Gap Index 2016 commissioned by the World Economic Forum, it will take 217 years to close the pay gap globally. If my children stay in the UK and if they decide to have children, it won’t be

until they have great grandchildren that men and women will be paid equally. Why will it take so long? A quick look on the internet will cite a number of reasons ranging from male bashing to stereotypes to genetics, depending on where you choose to look. More importantly, what can we do about it? LEad by example – consider the language you use when referring to males and females. Referring to girls as ‘lovely’ and ‘boys’ as smart isn’t helpful. Nor is it helpful when others gender stereotype you, your partner or your children. If, or when, this happens, have a conversation with your child(ren) about what was said and how those kind of comments can limit the way they think or the way others think about them or their gender. Integrate all toys – by separating stereotypical boys toys such as trains, cars and building toys and stereotypically girls toys like dolls, cuddly toys and art materials in separate places it sends a signal that there are only certain toys they can play with. By putting them in the same place, it suggests they are free to play with whatever toys they fancy. Share chores equally – I hate taking out the rubbish as much as my partner hates hoovering, but we do it. Sharing chores demonstrates gender equality. Similarly, children should be doing chores that are both stereotypically masculine chores as well as stereotypically feminine chores. Expose your children to sport and culture equally – expose your children to art, plays, street theatre, music as well as exposing them to sport. Find examples which challenge the norm. Watch women playing rugby or racing cars. Take them to see men doing ballet, painting or baking (it can be cultural). It doesn’t need to cost money, there are plenty of examples of men and women challenging gender stereotypes. thelittlethingsmagazine.com |

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PHYSICAL STATS Starts between 8–14 Average age for girls: 11 Average age for boys: 12 GIRLS Breast buds, increased sweating and stinky underarms, underarm and pubic hair growth, greasy hair, weight gain, growth spurts, acne, discharge, periods start BOYS Penis and testicle growth, scrotum colour becomes darker, increased sweating and stinky underarms, underarm and pubic hair growth, growth spurts, increased muscle, acne, voice changes, wet dreams

HOW TO GET TO NEUTRAL CORNERS Be a good role model, keep calm and ‘roll with the punches’ Be supportive, let them vent and give them some space Listen, but also share your experiences Talk to them about sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll, make sure they have all the information Let them make some mistakes, they won’t learn otherwise

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EMOTIONAL ATTRIBUTES Mood swings including shouting, crying and aggression for no apparent reason Identity crisis and being confused, not knowing what they want, being self-conscious, seeming dreamy Prefer being with friends rather than family, peerpressure, experimentation with sex, drugs and rock n’roll Extremely sensitive about just about everything Uncertain and indecisive, finding it difficult to make decisions Anger and frustration, often taken out on the ones who love them (I mean, who else is going to take it, right?)

EMOTIONAL ATTRIBUTES Mood swings and anxiety, feeling uncomfortable and out-of-place Irritability and feelings of depression Loss of sex drive Uncertain, feelings of being invisible and loss of confidence Panic attacks Difficulty coping with everyday life

PHYSICAL STATS Menopause usually starts between 45–55 Average age: 51 Perimenopause starts several years before, can last 4–8 years and can start from the late thirties. Hot flushes, sore boobs, lowered sex drive, tiredness and sleep problems, irregular periods, dryness and discomfort during sex, difficulty sleeping, very heavy periods (25% of women), hot flushes, chills, weight gain, dry skin, thinning hair, aches and pains in muscles and joints, slowed metabolism

HOW TO GET TO NEUTRAL CORNERS Eat well and exercise regularly Practice yoga, meditation or other mindful practices so you can ground yourself in moments of frustration Limit your alcohol and caffiene intake Try something new or take up a hobby Speak to your doctor for more information Spend more time with friends and loved ones

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say when What did the frog library? the to in ed pp ho he dit…” red it, dd re , “Reddit

Home & Garden

After the‘Beast from the East’ and the recent icy weather, Spring feels a long way off. Our garden colomnist, Jen Chow, gets us in the garden despite the weather.


he dawn chorus is back and you’ll probably be waking to the sound of birdsong in the morning. Garden birds will be nesting by March and singing their hearts out to attract a mate. WATER TIME TO BE ALIVE Have a look in your pond (or your neighbour’s pond) for signs of life. There may already be frogspawn or even tadpoles squirming about in the water! Frogs won’t be the only signs of life in the pond so do watch that pond weed

doesn’t smother the light from the water beneath. If it is starting to develop, carefully skim it off as it grows. It’s not actually too late to dig or install a new pond in time to see it teaming with life by late spring/early summer. You can buy rigid pond liners, butyl liner (soft and flexible to line your own shaped pond) or simply sink a bucket or half barrel into the ground. Don’t forget to place a large stone either side of the rim if your pond has steep sides so as to allow creatures easy access to or from the water.


“I’m not a worm!”

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If you’ve got a compost heap or bin in your garden, carefully lift the cover and you may be lucky enough to see a slow-worm as it emerges from out of hibernation! Slow-worms are neither worms or snakes – they’re actually legless lizards and, like snakes, not at all slimey (well, maybe a little bit after having been hiding in your compost heap). If you do fancy carefully picking one up and handling it, ensure you put it back gently in its hiding place where you found it especially if you’ve got a cat – cats love to hunt slow-worms. Give the compost a good forking-over to aerate it, mixing any garden waste that’s not too woody and being carefull not to injure any hidden, sleeping slow-worms. Larger prunings are best added to a larger heap that will reach higher temperatures for decomposition.

Home & Garden

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LAWN & ORDER Don’t worry about aiming for bowling green pristine but Spring is definitely a good time to repair and improve what you’ve got. Top-up holes and level-out low or uneven areas with topsoil and re-seed. If your grass is compacted, get your kids to push a fork in to it like a pogo stick to make holes, then scatter some sand over the holes and brush it in. This will improve the drainage and perk up your lawn as the grass grows through. Give the borders a tidy-up before newly emerging plants continue to fill in and hoe-off or hand-pull any weeds that are beginning to creep in to stop them from setting seed. Cut back any remaining herbaceous perennials such as grasses that may have been allowed to grow during Winter. But don’t worry about being too tidy because a bit of scruff will be a good habitat the wee beastieS. Finally, lift and divide any early flowering plants after they’ve flowered (ie primulas) and your garden will be primed for the coming months.

SOW ON & SOW ON Give your veg patch a bit of weeding, forking- over and perhaps a light raking. You can now plant onions, shallots and garlic. Start sowing seed of radishes, broad beans plus some varieties of peas, and spinach. If you can’t wait for warmer weather for sowing seed of carrots and salads you can sow under glass. Plant those strawberry plants! Sow hardy annual flower seeds in open sunny areas or in pots. Summer flowering bulbs can be planted now as well. Try lilies (they seem to love growing in pots and will increase year on year). Alliums and Nectaroscordums are great for bees and becuase they’re tall and slender can be planted between other things.


Make some fancy ice cubes by picking some primula or viola flowers (yes, edible!) and placing them on the water of each section of an ice cube tray before freezing.

BEE VIGILANT If you’ve got mason bee nesting boxes, keep your eyes peeled for solitary bees which may now be emerging. If the tubes/straws are blocked they may well be in use. Bees love the sun so make sure that your box is in a sunny spot! If you’ve got a bug hotel in your garden, have a peek at what may have moved in. Being very careful not to disturb intact areas that may be somebody’s home, top-up any materials and make any repairs that are necessary. Creepycrawlies need house-keeping, too.

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PRIVATE MATTER Scientist, father and Somerset native Liam Drew tells The Little Things about publishing his first book, I, Mammal, and how it felt to release that baby into the wild… Words Debra O’Sullivan


or most, a football-related testicle injury might be something to nurse in private. But instead of simply keeping his wounded pride (and privates) to himself, Liam Drew decided to put pen to paper. “I got struck with a football during a match, and after much complaining to my wife, she asked why my essential reproductive organs hung outside my body. This conversation led me to investigate why testicles must be kept below body temperature, or whether they were exiled for other reasons and so adapted accordingly.” It also led to a 5000-word essay, published by Slate in 2013, which grabbed the attention of publisher, Bloomsbury. As a new father, a process he had found, “profoundly transformative”, Liam decided at the book’s inception that he wanted to discuss how his mammalian biology had shaped his experience by peppering it with personal reflections on fatherhood, and life in general. A daunting task, to take a list of traits such as milk, hair, certain brain structures – and turn them into a cohesive, engaging blend of serious science, historical anecdotes and amusing observations. “I remember speaking to a friend early on, and saying, ‘I hope I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew’. She replied, ‘Do only mammals chew?’ I laughed. Then a week later, I emailed her to say, ‘Yeah, only mammals chew…’ Enmeshing research and writing into part-time work and family life often meant grabbing time to read and scribble on the train or in the library, but there were occasions when things came together in perfect synergy. 28 |

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“We took my two girls (aged three and six) to Down House, Charles Darwin’s old family home in Kent – it’s such a wonderful place, where myriad experiments and investigations were undertaken. The kids loved it. A few weeks later, I opened a magazine on the train and the girls yelled out, “There’s Charles Darwin!” The guy opposite was very impressed.” So have his thoughts on inspiring kids about all-things science evolved? Or how we, as time-poor, knowledgehungry parents can shoehorn personal development and reading into busy lives to guarantee our own grey matter doesn’t get preserved at homo neanderthalensis levels? “Above all else I want my kids to

grow up as inquisitive people who value knowledge. It’s amazing watching my daughters learn. I don’t want them to see science as an abstracted, academic pursuit – something apart from everyday life that only happens when the teacher gives you the test tubes. “ “The basic foundations of scientific thinking are simple; if X happens, what are the consequences? How are things related? I think you can do that with kids from a really early age, ask them to ask the question.” “As for my own reading, it’s important to read for pleasure and to experience other thoughts and viewpoints. But it’s hard since becoming a parent! I still buy the books - but then I tuck the kids in, have dinner, maybe a glass of wine… and that big intellectual novel sits there unread. Consequently – and ironically for a mammal – I’ve become more of a magpie! I gravitate towards shorter forms, like essays, articles and short stories.” While we wouldn’t be crass enough to compare the birth of a first child to the publication of a first book, it’s clearly been an, ‘emotional’ experience. Liam confesses to finding the public aspects of promoting it, ‘fun’, with inscribing copies his new ‘favourite thing’. The fact that some readers have laughed at the jokes and provided meaningful feedback by handwritten letter has moved him to tears – another profoundly mammalian response. As an, ‘And finally’, we couldn’t let him sign off without asking for his favourite mammal? “I have to say, I quite like the Tailless Tenrec, a Madagascan animal that looks like a shrew dressed in a hedgehog costume. It hibernates for 9 months!”

I, Mammal is published by Bloomsbury Publishing and available from all good book shops and amazon.co.uk Debra O’Sullivan: wheretheoneis.com

Harris & Harris Solicitors TAKE OVER

COHABITING? * Office for National Statistics, Statistical Bulletin ‘Families and Households in the UK: 2016’ (4 November 2016).

Contrary to popular belief, living together does not entitle you to the same rights as a married couple. Alison Macaulay from Harris & Harris Solicitors explains…


s head of the Family team at law firm Harris & Harris based in the Mendips and beyond, Alison Macaulay is keen to spread the word about the great ‘common law marriage’ myth which surrounds the lack of protection offered to unmarried couples. Alison’s advice on this topic comes after Resolution, a national organisation of family lawyers committed to non-confrontational Family Law, highlighted this issue during Cohabitation Awareness Week (27 November–1 December). Statistics state that cohabiting couples are now the fastest growing type of family unit in the UK with numbers doubling between 1996 and 2016*. However, whilst society and the makeup of our families have changed the law has not kept pace. This problem is made ever more pressing by the fact that many still believe the notion of common law marriage will protect them, should their relationship sadly come to an end. This is

simply not the case. The law relating to cohabiting couples is very different from that for married couples. There is currently no provision in law for unmarried couples to support each other financially on the breakdown of a relationship. Similarly, where one party stays at home to care for children they cannot make a claim for support from the other or over the other’s pension or property as an unmarried partner. Such problems, although common, can be costly to overcome with no certainty as to a final outcome for either party. Unmarried couples will not automatically inherit from each other unless they have a Will which specifically provides for this and are likely to find dealing with the assets of their partner difficult, without being legally acknowledged as their spouse. More and more unmarried couples are choosing to deal with this problem head on, given that the law cannot protect them in the same way as a married couple. As well

as making a Will to protect them on death, lots of cohabiting partners are asking their lawyer to prepare a Cohabitation or Living Together Agreement the terms of which can cover a whole range of issues. A Living Together Agreement can be made at the start, during or even at the end of a relationship. It sets out who owns what and how these assets might be divided on the breakdown of a relationship. In addition, it can include provisions relating to children, maintenance and household expenditure. It can be helpful in setting out what is determined as joint assets and how a non-monetary contribution to the family might be assessed. All of this is formed into a legally binding agreement which can prevent expensive fall-outs further down the line. A Living Together Agreement is bespoke and entirely unique to your family situation. It is however important that such documents are prepared in the correct way; being drafted by a lawyer to ensure that they are legally binding. Usual practice dictates that one party’s lawyer prepares the agreement which is then sent to the other party’s lawyer for approval. This is where the Family Department at Harris & Harris have the expertise, knowledge and experience to help. Unmarried couples might also want to think about other legal services which can offer them protection. This should involve making a Will and obtaining specific inheritance tax advice. In addition it is important that proper advice is sought when purchasing property together. Harris & Harris have specialist solicitors in these areas and more, who together will be pleased to assist with all aspects of family life. Find Harris & Harris online at: harris-harris.co.uk

Family Life


Our guest writer explores her feelings around children and what happens when it doesn’t turn out as expected

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don’t recall making a decision, having a discussion or actively trying to get pregnant. We didn’t bother much to be careful with contraception after we were married. I’m no good at remembering to take pills, I didn’t fancy the sound of any of the other options and condoms apparently dull the feeling for the man. I was more than obese and I’d overheard my mother-inlaw had say to another family member I was too big to have a baby anyway. I’m not sure if I would have ever made the decision to really try. I think I may have agreed but not believed it would actually happen. Having children is something I’d always said I wanted but I’m not sure I did. And how would we afford it? It’s a standard question for any married couple as to when they’ll start having children, or the ‘you’ll be next’ comment and nudge when another couple have a child. God forbid if I’d actually admitted I wasn’t sure. My 30 |

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Darling Husband (DH) wanted four. I’d stopped smoking – I had been an intermittent to heavy smoker for years. A while after, I recalled a time I was very tired and would often fall asleep during the day. I went off wine – something was obviously up! It was DH who eventually suggested I might be pregnant after a few weeks of being annoyed by my fatigue. I did a test. He was right. I spent the first 3 months of my first pregnancy in a paranoid state thinking something would go wrong and the following 6 months eating. My legs and feet swelled so much I could hardly walk. Then Darling Son (DS) was born. I would breastfeed, cook all his meals from scratch using the finest organic ingredients, keep him gluten and sugar free, never set foot in McDonalds, play games with him, teach him, sing lullabies, read stories, have a network of lovely mummy friends. After the birth, natural, happy, of course, I would lose the ‘baby weight’, get fit and active and be full of energy. It would be idyllic. In reality it seems to me you set yourself up to be a failure as a parent the minute you give birth (long, painful, with every drug I could get them to give me and culminating in an emergency caesarean). I’d heard about the wonderful feelings when you bond with your baby. The rush of euphoric love like nothing you’ve ever experienced. I hadn’t felt that and another huge disappointment was DS, despite all the help I could find, just would not latch on. I had expected to spend my time walking in the park and having coffee mornings (ok, herbal tea

mornings). In reality I was home all day with no transport and a baby I had no clue how to look after. No family and no friends. Now I had DS demanding my attention as well as DH. I wasn’t the mother I wanted my children to have. I didn’t have the time to play games or read stories. They were fast approaching the age where I was just an adult presence in the house. I didn’t cook the meals childhood memories are made of or take them to clubs or on happy family outings. I’d try to comfort them when they were upset but DH said they needed to ‘grow a backbone’ and stop crying, not be mollycoddled. He didn’t like the noise. Perhaps I had unrealistic expectations. My life wasn’t supposed to be like that and my aspirations wouldn’t become reality. DH had accused me of having an affair. His argument being I wasn’t attentive enough to him and I’d leave the house alone, therefore I must’ve been. Truth is, I think I would have liked to really. After all, I clearly wasn’t trusted. I’d crave for someone to comfort me the way I tried to do for my children. It would’ve been so lovely to have someone smile at me, hold me, listen to me without judging, allow me to have my feelings and emotions without mocking; make me a drink; let me sit down and relax without constantly feeling I should be getting on with something; to rub my stressed and aching shoulders and feet. I felt hollow inside, so desperately lonely. I used to be popular and outgoing. My spark and vibrancy had gone. Somewhere in all this I’d lost ‘me’ and I didn’t know how to get her back. Feeling low or depressed after the birth of a child is surprisingly common and can last a couple of years. If you or someone you know is suffering from symptoms of postpartum depression, please encourage them to speak to their midwife or contact Frome Birth Talk (fromebirthtalk.weebly.com) to get some free support.

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