SEEDS TO SOW AND BULBS TO BUD TOP GARDENING TIPS FOR THIS MONTH VALENTINEâ€™S DAY SET THE MOOD AT HOME THIS YEAR
BLOCKBUSTER SOUND CREATE THE PERFECT HOME CINEMA SETUP
THE FUTURE IS AUDIBLE HOW WE CONSUME DIGITAL CONTENT HAS CHANGED
FITNESS AND WELLBEING HOW TO LOOK AFTER YOURSELF IN LOCKDOWN
CONTENTS COVER STORY
Seeds to sow and bulbs to plant It’s time to prepare the ground for summer blooms and crops
4 16 16
Home entertainment system Helpful tips for upgrading your sound system About us Get to know our team a little better and see why we are your agent of choice Our latest instructions Take a look at a selection of our latest properties on the market
A romantic night in Treat your partner with this spectacular Valentine’s dinner
Designing your Valentine’s day Celebrate at home with your significant other
Audible Books Reasons to be encouraged by this new style of literature
Valentine gifts for pets Wonderful ideas for your pet on this special day
Positive vibes Things we can do to give ourselves a lift at this difficult time
What is Shrove Tuesday? What is it? Where does it come from? And what happens?
Six Nations Championship As the countdown continues England maintain momentum
WELCOME TO THE FEBRUARY ISSUE! The year hasn’t kicked off the way most wanted it to, but we have made it to February. The property market has had a huge start this year, and estate agents are busier than ever. In this month’s magazine we will be showing you how to treat your significant other with a Valentine’s day at home guide alongside some sumptious recipes for the special evening. It’s not just your partner we’re showing some love to; we also have the best treats for your pets, and for yourself, a guide to keeping mentally healthy and physically fit while spending so much time at home.
And, while you’re at home, why not treat yourself to the perfect home cinema system with our guide to the hottest tech to bring the blockbusters to you! Venture outside as the weather slowly gets warmer and we have a guide of what seeds to sow and blulbs to plant this month. Top this off with a look at the future of books with our guide to Audible and audiobooks; the history of Shrove Tuesday and finally a preview for the Six Nations. Most of all though, take care, be safe and stay positive this month. Jonathan Wheatley Editor
To the one
A huge part of the celebrations of Valentine’s Day is the role that food plays. From decadent titbits to homemade comforts, food should not be underestimated in its importance to the day as a whole. Let’s start with the morning’s offerings. Why not treat your partner to a good, old-fashioned breakfast in bed? But just because it’s breakfast, that doesn’t mean that it should be predictable. Cupid’s Tip: Why not splash out on a waffle-maker and make your partner some homemade goodies? Based on your partner’s preferences, you do know those, right? Choose between sweet and savoury, and for a more comprehensive list of waffle-themed ideas, visit ‘delish.com’ for their recommendations.
ROMANCE AT HOME:
It’s the most romantic day of the year. And what better way to celebrate than at home with your significant other
Now onto the really important meal of the day - dinner. Often, Valentine’s Day dinners can come with a great amount of pressure to get the perfect table, at the perfect restaurant, at the perfect time. But this year, make sure you aren’t disappointed, and take matters into your own hands! Construct your own, personalised menu, and treat the pair of you to a meal catered exactly to your liking. ‘Goodhousekeeping.com’ offer easy-tomake recipes for a variety of cuisines, including a decadent cheese-beer fondue for fans of French/Swiss cuisine, or a wild mushroom risotto for those of the Italian persuasion. And if you want to go a step further, why not organise to cook together? As well as creating your perfect meal, this can be a great activity for couples to bond over.
And speaking of activities, let’s look at some other ways to fill your day with that special someone. Start with getting creative and do some crafts. If you’re one of those couples that have managed to print off photos of your memories together but haven’t done anything else with them since then, then get hunting for them and design your own scrapbook of your favourite moments. Alternatively, you can look to make romance-themed practical objects. For instance, if you have unwanted mason jars, then you could use these to create votive candle holders, with the addition of only glitter and card. Or, if you happen to have firewood which is going spare, then why not cut these down, and create your own coasters? These are great ways of doing something rather unusual. However, if you don’t have a single creative bone in your body, then let’s explore some other ways of spending quality time with your other half. Nothing quite says ‘I love you’ like freshly-baked goods, so choose to go all out on the food front this year. If you want to make something which is a visual statement, then bake some Valentine’s cupcakes adorned with decadent pink and red icing, or popping candy and sprinkles if you fancy something more playful. And if you’re looking for something to complete your day with, then why not organise a movie night? Pick your favourite romantic film, get the blankets down, set the mood in your room with candles, and unwind together.
GIFTS Another great pressure of Valentine’s day is finding the perfect gift for your partner. So, to ensure that you don’t fall short on the present front, here are some thoughtful DIY ideas. If your partner is a fan of relaxation, then get some candles, and through online tutorials at ‘helloglow.co’, customise them with your initials and other heart-shaped decorations. This technique can also work with other items, such as mugs or tea towels, and is great for adding personal touches to everyday items. Or if your partner loves nothing more than to unwind after a day of life’s stresses, then make their day with some homemade bath bombs. There are plenty of online recipes to instruct you to make whatever shapes you wish, and it is a great way of adding a level of luxury to your gifting this year, whilst also using ingredients that you might already have in your cupboards.
THE VOLUME Does your telly pack an audio punch to match the picture quality? If not, it might be time to invest in a surround-sound system or a new soundbar
ome entertainment system. Three words to send a geek into overdrive and an uninformed consumer into meltdown. Sure, you’ve lashed out and bought a nice big, shiny 4K ultra high-definition TV that’s got all the bells, whistles and whatnots and can change its ambient lighting by shouting at it. Sure, the picture is fantastic, and the definition is awesome. But the sound is… well, puny.
Next, consider the features and what you will be viewing most of the time. Many modern soundbars have wireless subwoofers, Bluetooth connectivity, 4K-friendly HDMI outputs for games consoles or 4K Blu-ray player-enabled HDMI outputs. Some even support Dolby Atmos, which takes the longstanding surround-sound concept and gives it more oomph, providing big cinema sound in a smaller space. With that in mind, investigate the Sonos stable. The Beam,
It’s not a surprise Manufacturers are making televisions so thin, so lightweight something has to give, and as TVs are judged on their visual capabilities, it’s generally audio quality that is lacking. So, if you have moved into a nice new home with the acres of space you were craving, perhaps it would be wise to set aside a little of the money earmarked for Stamp Duty and invest in a decent sound
system to create the immersive experience your TV deserves. The obvious starting point is a soundbar, but before you start looking, be sure of your dimensions. They will either sit in front of the TV or just below it if wall mounted, so you don’t want to partner a bar that is so wide it overhangs the set or is so small it is dwarfed by the screen.
It’s not a surprise Manufacturers are making televisions so thin, so lightweight something has to give, and as TVs are judged on their visual capabilities, it’s generally audio quality that is lacking.
rated by many industry insiders as the company’s best soundbar yet, is small and adaptable, and packs an impressive three-dimensional sound with a surprisingly beefy bass, which more than offsets a bit of a background hiss at volume. Its spec sheet includes voice-control assistance from Amazon’s Alexa and supports the Dolby 5.1 format. The Sonos Arc, meanwhile, is fully compatible with Dolby Atmos and is the perfect partner for a 4K of more than 55ins. It uses 11 drivers to create a soundfield which puts you at the heart of the action and is nicely balanced if you just want to listen to music. Similarly, the Yamaha YSP-2700 offers a compact way to get the
full surround-sound experience into your home with the bar and wireless subwoofer providing a gutsy solution for movie buffs who will relish the 7.1ch effect. However, it does not support Dolby Atmos, unlike Sony’s HT-ST5000, which has a high feature count and makes film soundtracks totally immersive – put simply, if you want to watch Saving Private Ryan, fetch a tin-hat first. If you have deep pockets, a biggish room and a sensitive ear, go all-out on the Sennheiser Ambeo – excellent dynamics, sumptuous sound – but beware: to deliver a sound
that rich without a subwoofer means a soundbar that is 14cm tall and needs to be positioned perfectly for the best effect. Of course, you may have just moved into a barn conversion or have a vast open-plan living space you want to fill with sound. In which case, a full-blown surround speaker system is the way to go. There are obvious things to consider - such as trailing cables and whether you want to rearrange the furniture to accommodate it – before weighing up whether you want a 5.1 system (five speakers, two pairs of either floorstanding or standmount, plus one central) or a 7.2 (adding back speakers behind the main seating position, plus an extra subwoofer).
With that in mind, What Hi-Fi? named the Dali Oberon 5 5.1 Speaker Package their product of 2020 and its not hard to see why. “Lean, attractive and unfussy… are words equally apt for both the aesthetics and acoustics”, they said of a system with a full, warm sound “that brings the best out of any soundtrack”. Less bulky, yet almost as powerful, is the Q Acoustics 3050i 5.1 Cinema pack, a versatile bundle with an intense sound, while the sixth generation of Monitor Audio’s Silver series, the 200 AV12, has a clear balanced sound which is immense for both surround and stereo.
If you have deep pockets, a biggish room and a sensitive ear, go all-out on the Sennheiser Ambeo
THE FUTURE IS AUDIBLE The ease with which we consume digital content has changed rapidly in the past decade
nd this phenomenon has even reached something as physical as reading. Those who are loyal to the physicality of a novel might be sceptical about audiobooks, but there are plenty of reasons to be encouraged by this new style of literature.
THEY’RE AS EFFECTIVE AS BOOKS
A study, reported by Time, has shown that audiobooks have no negative bearing on an audience’s understanding of the material. Different participants were given the same material to listen to, or read, and when quizzed afterwards, there were no clear signs that one group had understood any less of the content. In a further study, different groups of participants either listened to, or watched blockbuster films. They found that those who listened to the audio versions had a higher heart rate and body temperature, which suggests a more intense emotional response to the material.
BOOKS STILL SELL Something reassuring for those who prefer physical ‘the real thing’, is that it doesn’t appear that audio content is causing an impact on the sales of physical books. A report claims that there are different audiences for different types of content, so the two don’t overlap too much. The report goes on to state that those who listen to audiobooks tend to be a
lot younger than those who don’t, and claims that, on average, those in their 20s or 30s are the biggest consumers of audio content. Interestingly, it also suggests that audiobooks are bringing in new audiences who would not have previously read books. So this can only be a good thing for the world of literature.
With the boom that audiobooks are experiencing, they, themselves, are being immersed into popular culture. For example, audiobooks now attract A-list celebrities as narrators. For instance, Elizabeth Moss narrated The Handmaid’s Tale, and Michelle Obama provided the voice for her own memoirs. On top of this, a top publisher has stated that there are certain audiobooks which would never have been made if not for added technological capabilities. He points to Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris’s book The Lost Words, which is a collection of poems. As a result of the opportunities which audio content provides, the makers were able to create individual soundscapes for each poem taken from recordings in the wild.
LOVING AND BRILLIANT GIFTS FOR YOUR PET
Your pet means the world to you, show you mean the world to them too with a treat this Valentine’s Day
e love our pets. They listen to us and they never argue back, which, as the unconditionally loving companions they are, makes them especially peaceful to have by our sides. In fact, studies show that three in 10 adults claim that their cats and dogs are better listeners than their other halves, and that over a third of people generally prefer their pets to their partner. Furthermore, 29% claim that their cat or dog is better at snuggling than their partner, with 44% of owners even going as far as to say they prefer to cuddle up with them rather than with their significant other. So give back this Valentine’s Day!
DOGS Shock absorbent leash. A gift your dog can really benefit from, ensuring much more comfort for the animal and much less chance of your four-legged-friend having their shoulder pulled out of their socket.
Dog wellies. Not only will these prevent wet and muddy paws, but also act as protection against any sharp and nasty objects they might accidently step on outside.
Woven grass pet bed. Play tunnel. Heart-shaped salt licks.
Orthopaedic gel memory foam dog bed. Dogs need their beauty sleep too, and in fact require 12-14 hours of sleep each day/night, so a great bed would provide real quality of life for a dog. Top three customer-rated dog toys on Amazon: • https://tinyurl.com/y9agvpsy • https://tinyurl.com/y77ljtx5 • https://tinyurl.com/y8ohhyj2
CATS Pet tote bag. Ideal for travelling, these bags will guarantee comfort and convenience for both you and your cat, typically with an open slot for the cat’s head so they can see the world as they travel. Cat wheel (treadmill). A portion of cat breeds are of particularly high energy, so something like this would be a perfect way for your cat to get their hyperactivity out of their system. It’s also a lot of fun for your kitty! Self-cleaning cat box. Both you and your cat will enjoy not having to deal with a dirty cat box each day with this product, as all you need to do is cover the disposable litter tray, toss it, and insert a fresh one.
GUINEA PIGS AND HAMSTERS Play or digging tower, or play bridge. Climbing nature house. Exercise wheel.
Top three customer-rated cat toys on Amazon: • https://tinyurl.com/y9ka67zz • https://tinyurl.com/ya2r4cu3 • https://tinyurl.com/y9sqfne5
TREAT YOUR KING OR QUEEN THIS VALENTINE’S DAY Treat your partner with this spectacular Valentine’s dinner, perfect for a romantic night in!
ake Valentine’s day extra special with our gorgeous menu featuring a delightful starter, an impressive main course and a sumptious dessert.
STARTER – REALLY EASY CHEESE FONDUE Ingredients 125ml white wine 450g gruyère, grated 450g cheddar, grated 50ml kirtsch 1 heaped tsp cornflour small baguette, torn into chunks, to serve Method Heat the wine in a heavy-based saucepan, then add the cheese, a handful at a time, and keep stirring. When all the cheese has melted, add the kirsch, followed by the cornflour, stirring until completely smooth. Serve the pan in the middle of the table on a wooden board with the chunks of baguette for dipping.
Images for illustrative purposes only Recipes from www.bbcgoodfood.co.uk
Images for illustrative purposes only
Recipes from www.bbcgoodfood.co.uk
DESSERT – CHOCOLATE FONDANT Ingredients 50g melted butter, for brushing cocoa powder, for dusting 200g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces 200g butter, in small pieces 200g golden caster sugar 4 eggs and 4 yolks 200g plain flour Caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream or orange sorbet, to serve
MAIN COURSE – STEAKS WITH GOULASH & SWEET POTATO FRIES Ingredients 3 tsp rapeseed oil , plus extra for the steaks 250g sweet potatoes , peeled and cut into narrow chips 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves 2 small onions , halved and sliced (190g) 1 green pepper , deseeded and diced 2 garlic cloves , sliced 1 tsp smoked paprika 85g cherry tomatoes , halved 1 tbsp tomato purée 1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder 2 x 125g fillet steaks , rubbed with a little rapeseed oil 200g bag baby spinach , wilted in a pan or the microwave Method Heat oven to 240C/220C fan/gas 7 and put a wire rack on top of a baking tray. Toss the sweet potatoes and thyme with 2 tsp oil in a bowl, then scatter them over the rack and set aside until ready to cook. Heat 1 tsp oil in a non-stick pan, add the onions, cover the pan and leave to cook for 5 mins. Take off the lid and stir – they should be a little charred now. Stir in the green pepper and garlic, cover the pan and cook for 5 mins more. Put the potatoes in the oven and bake for 15 mins. While the potatoes are cooking, stir the paprika into the onions and peppers, pour in 150ml water and stir in the cherry tomatoes, tomato purée and bouillon. Cover and simmer for 10 mins. Pan-fry the steak in a hot, non-stick pan for 2-3 mins each side depending on their thickness. Rest for 5 mins. Spoon the goulash sauce onto plates and top with the beef. Serve the chips and spinach alongside.
Method First get your moulds ready. Using upward strokes, heavily brush melted butter (use 50g in total) all over the inside of the pudding mould. Place the mould in the fridge or freezer. Brush more melted butter over the chilled butter, then add a good spoonful of cocoa powder into the mould. Tip the mould so the powder completely coats the butter. Tap any excess cocoa back into the jar, then repeat with the next mould. Place a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, then slowly melt 200g good-quality dark chocolate and 200g butter, both chopped into small pieces, together. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir until smooth. Leave to cool for about 10 mins. In a separate bowl whisk 4 eggs and 4 egg yolks together with 200g golden caster sugar until thick and pale and the whisk leaves a trail; use an electric whisk if you want. Sift 200g plain flour into the eggs, then beat together. Pour the melted chocolate into the egg mixture in thirds, beating well between each addition, until all the chocolate is added and the mixture is completely combined to a loose cake batter. Tip the fondant batter into a jug, then evenly divide between the moulds. The fondants can now be frozen for up to a month and cooked from frozen. Chill for at least 20 mins or up to the night before. To bake from frozen, simply carry on as stated, adding 5 mins more to the cooking time. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Place the fondants on a baking tray, then cook for 10-12 mins until the tops have formed a crust and they are starting to come away from the sides of their moulds. Remove from the oven, then leave to sit for 1 min before turning out. Loosen the fondants by moving the tops very gently so they come away from the sides, easing them out of the moulds. Tip each fondant slightly onto your hand so you know it has come away, then tip back into the mould ready to plate up. Serve with a squeeze of caramel sauce and a scoop of ice cream.
VIBES Mental health experts say there are several things we can do to give ourselves a lift at this difficult time so here is our guide to keep your spirit’s lifted
nd so, here we are again. Lockdowns are fast becoming the norm for our COVID-crippled communities, but unlike before there’s no summer, no Christmas on which to focus. Lockdown 3.0 wan announced in the gloom and cold of winter - a season that can be tough for many under normal circumstances – and the respite of warmer days and lighter evenings seems a long way off. However, there are many things we can do to make sure we reach the promised land of spring in good shape.
Any outdoor activity at this time of year may seem a bit daunting, but doctors agree it is an ideal way to boost your mood. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins into the bloodstream – producing a feeling of well-being – as well as increasing electrical activity in the emotionprocessing areas of the brain, preventing the risk of anxiety and depression. It also produces a protein crucial to brain health, so even a short period of exercise which exerts the body, such as a
brisk walk or a cycle ride, will be beneficial. Dr Brendon Stubbs, from King’s College, London, says: “Think of it as brain fertiliser – it helps parts of your brain regenerate.”
DON’T THINK ABOUT IT
People often dwell on problems or difficulties, allowing negative thoughts to dog their lives. But while it’s normal to worry, many fears never materialise. The key is to shift focus from worries to practical problemsolving, and Prof Jennifer Wild, from Oxford University, says: “If you’ve been worrying about a problem for 30 minutes or more without coming up with a plan of action, it’s time to stop.” Exercise is a good way to break those trains of thought. While it’s perfectly normal to worry, humans have, over time, become highly tuned to negativity and danger. “It’s over-encoded in our brains,” says Prof Wild. “You can make yourself much calmer if you recognise you are overthinking. Stop and focus on facts.”
Setting a new target, whether it be something as grand as learning a new language or trying a new recipe, can be beneficial. Learning new things is generally how we acquire self-worth and keeps us motivated. Stepping outside your comfort zone helps you to focus and brings a sense of control.
GO FOR IT
Don’t think twice about doinsomething, even if conditions suggest you’re not going to get the best results, says Olivia Remes, from Cambridge University.
“Novelty is fundamentally rewarding,” says Dr Dean Burnett, a leading neuroscientist. She says: “Our inner voice of criticism stops us “Learning to do new things is frequently how we doing worthwhile things, so acquire self-worth. Goaljump straight into action. Do motivated behaviour is one things and accept they People often dwell on of the most fundamental might initially be done badly problems or difficulties, ways we operate.” – most of the time, the
IT’S GOOD TO TALK
allowing negative thoughts to dog their lives. But while it’s normal to worry, many fears never materialise
results are not that bad and they’re almost always better than doing nothing.”
Maximise the little social contact that is available. Humans are social creatures, so isolated people are more likely to focus on themselves, going over small problems in their heads until they become issues.
That way, she believes, we can encourage ourselves to be optimistic and accept life’s not all down to things we can’t control.
“We’re not really designed to be on our own. We feel better with social contact,” says Prof Emerita Elizabeth Kuipers, of King’s College, London. “Isolated people are more likely to focus on themselves and that can make things worse.” Talking things through can help reframe problems, and if lockdown means you cannot do that in person, make that phone call or arrange to talk online.
She also recommends writing down three things a day which we are grateful about, forcing ourselves to focus on what’s gone well and why. This stimulates the left-hand side of the brain which is associated with positivity, and she concludes: “Emotions are contagious – steer yourself away from negative, miserable people who are constantly complaining because you could be come one of them.”
WHAT IS IT?
WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
To put it simply, Shrove Tuesday is the last day before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent - an event, which takes place over a period of forty days, replicating the forty days of hardship when Jesus was stranded in the desert. The religious period is observed by many Christians, including Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and Roman Catholics.
The meaning of the word ‘Shrove’, comes from the past tense of the verb ‘to shrive’, which means to give absolution after hearing confession. Therefore Shrove Tuesday is the last day to make confession before the period of Lent. The alternative name to Shrove Tuesday, and perhaps the more common title nowadays, is ‘Pancake Day’.
Traditionally, Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, which is associated with self-denial and abstinence. Therefore, Shrove Tuesday is treated as the last day to celebrate and indulge before this period. As produce such as eggs, fat, and milk were traditionally foods which could not be eaten during the period of Lent, pancakes became a suitable snack to make out of the leftover foodstuffs so that food did not go to waste.
So, Shrove Tuesday is known as the last day to clean the soul before the self-restriction of Lent begins. Historically, people would go to church in order to be repented for their sins.
The Christian period of Lent will soon be among us. And with Lent, comes Shrove Tuesday. But what is it? Where does it come from? And what happens?
This name supposedly originated from a story from Olney in Buckinghamshire when, in 1445, a woman who was making pancakes heard the church bells and ran out of her house with a frying pan in hand. This started the tradition of a pancake race in the town, which has been an annual event ever since.
The earliest pancake recipe in England dates back to the 15th century, so it could be possible that Christians have been successfully (or unsuccessfully) flipping their pancakes, and competing in pancake races for over six hundred years.
The Six Nations is back with England keen to maintain momentum as the countdown to France 2023 continues
SCHEDULED FIXTURES (ALL TIMES GMT) February 6 Italy v France (2.15pm) England v Scotland (4.45pm)
ith the 2023 Rugby World Cup looming ever larger on the horizon, England and the rest of the home nations will take another significant step on the road to the sport’s showpiece event in France when the Guinness Six Nations Championship is scheduled to resume this month.
However, it will be interesting to see how the England coach responds to the rising threat from across the channel and whether he adapts his “he who kicks most, wins most” philosophy. It makes Le Crunch on the penultimate weekend of the Six Nations on March 13 at Twickenham the pivotal game of the championship.
The draw for the pool stages in early December merely whetted the appetite for rugby union’s major showpiece after a hectic autumn in which England won the sport’s oldest and newest competitions – beating France on points difference in last year’s interrupted Six Nations, and then beating the same opposition in the final of the hastilyconvened Autumn Nations Cup.
Before then, England open the Northern Hemisphere’s major tournament with the home Calcutta Cup showdown against Scotland on February 6 before another Twickenham tie against perennial whipping boys Italy.
And while it may look as if Eddie Jones’ team had ended their international season on a high in the probably one-off cup tournament, the truth paints a different picture, England labouring to beat a side of emerging talent and youth team players thanks to an equalising try in the last minute and a penalty in the sudden-death period.
And then the journey gets a tad tougher. Matchweek three sends them to Cardiff to face Wales, never an easy place to go and likely to be more hostile if the Welsh have not fired in their preceding games against Ireland or Scotland. From there, it’s the back-to-back run-in against France and Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, where the sponsors’ black velvet will flow irrespective of who has won.
February 7 Wales v Ireland (3pm) February 13 England v Italy (2.15pm) Scotland v Wales (4.45pm) February 14 Ireland v France (3pm) February 27 Italy v Ireland (2.15pm), Wales v England (4.45pm) February 28 France v Scotland (3pm) March 13 Italy v Wales (2.15pm), England v France (4.45pm) March 14 Scotland v Ireland (3pm) March 20 Scotland v Italy (2.15pm) Ireland v England (4.45pm) France v Wales (8pm)
The dark days of winter may finally be behind us, so it’s time to prepare the ground for summer blooms and crops
s the days grow longer, gardeners will be making their plans for the spring, preparing their seeds for both flower and vegetable plots.
And even if the weather does not play ball and the ground is still cold, much can be done - particularly if you have a greenhouse or conservatory - to kickstart the growing season. If conditions allow and the soil is frost free, gently dig over and prepare the area you have earmarked for planting. This will expose soil pests to cold nighttime temperatures and bird predators, giving new plants a better chance to prosper and, if you have moved into a new house, will help identify whether you have inherited a light or heavy soil. Obviously, a stodgy, clay-based soil will need longer to warm, and this will affect planting plans. But if you discover a light, sandy mixture and live in a mild part of the country you can crack on – after weeding and allowing the soil to settle – by covering the area with clear polythene, cloches or fleece to warm the ground before sowing.
Once a crop rotation has been formalised, then you can sow broad beans, carrots, parsnips, early varieties of beetroot, salad onions, lettuces, radishes, spinach and summer cabbages under the covers. And then it’s back indoors again. Experienced veg growers will be keen to chit their seed potato tubers as soon as they have them. Novices may be baffled by the term, but it simply means encouraging the seed potatoes to grow before they are planted out, generally about six weeks after they have been arranged, blunt end up, in trays or old eggboxes, and allowed to sprout. Peas can also be started off in a heated greenhouse by using upturned and discarded – but clean – drainpipes with holes drilled in the bottom for good drainage, while cucumber seeds can be sown in a propagator, placing them on their sides at a depth of 1cm in a 7.5cm pot of free-draining compost.
If, however, your greenhouse isn’t heated wait a few weeks until March – and the same goes for tomatoes, which should germinate within two weeks in a propagator or on a sunny windowsill as long as the seed compost is kept moist. Even though it is very hardy, kale needs to be started indoors, where they can be sown in modules or 7cm pots with two or three seeds per module before thinning out to leave the healthiest seedling. For those who prefer colour to crops, mid to late February can also be a busy period. Now is the time to start off summer bedding, such as lobelia and Impatiens (Busy Lizzies), in propagators, giving them a head start before are big enough to be planted out or in hanging baskets. Sweet peas are probably one of the easiest – and most fragrant - summer flowering plants to grow, particularly when given a good start in a biodegradable pot on a sunny windowsill. Once established, they can be relocated to the garden when the weather turns milder without having to be
removed from their containers, which could damage fragile roots. Cosmos are similarly easy to grow and look great in borders or in a meadow where the single-flowered varieties, such as Fizzy Pink, attract pollinators. These annuals need light to germinate, so sow on top of seed compost in a tray then prick out when large enough to handle. Salvias, on the other hand, need to be sown on a bed of seed compost and then covered with a fine layer of compost which must be kept moist and placed in a light, warm spot. They can be planted out in the spring where they will add structure and height to borders and containers. However, be warned – low light levels and stuffy conditions can encourage what horticulturists call ‘damping off’, a fungal disease that can sweep through trays of seedlings. It can be easily prevented by adding perlite, an amorphous volcanic glass which will keep soil loose and light; watering pots from below; and opening propagator vents during the day.
Cosmos are easy to grow and look great in borders or in a meadow where the singleflowered varieties, such as Fizzy Pink, attract pollinators.
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Corringway, Hampstead Garden Suburb, NW11 £1,165,000
800 Finchley Road, Hampstead Garden Suburb London NW11 7TJ
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Superbly located being moments from the Heath Extension and Golders Green underground. A superb Grade II listed property placed in this lovely and quiet cul de sac just off Corringham Road. This delightful home is presented in very good internal decorative condition and features a spacious reception room and a fabulous sized principal bedroom with ensuite. Viewing of this super home is strongly advised.
South Square, Hampstead Garden Suburb, NW11 £999,950
One of the finest flats in this Grade II* Listed block built in 1928 and designed by renowned architect John Soutar. A superb spacious and bright first floor apartment. The building is situated in the heart of the Suburb in a delightful location approx 0.8 miles from the underground at Golders Green. The property is presented in excellent condition as has just been refurbished including a newly installed fitted kitchen and bathroom, featuring exquisite maple wood flooring throughout. The apartment has lovely views across the superb communal gardens and could be used as either three bedrooms or two bedrooms and two reception rooms. The apartment comes with a rare feature of its own private garage. Early viewing of this chain free flat is strongly advised.
Ludlow Way, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, N2 £1,395,000
FOR SALE Gideon Mark Associate Director (Lettings)
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Kendal Hayes Sales and Lettings Support
Litchfields provide an excellent level of service.
A superb sunny and spacious semidetached house placed in this quiet road situated within close proximity to the ample amenities of The Market Place. The house features a stunning open-plan oversized downstairs, made up of 3 reception areas and a kitchen which has been extended to provide excellent living/eating and entertainment areas. On the upper floors there are 4 good size bedrooms (3 doubles), the main bedroom having an en suite shower room. The property is presented in excellent internal decorative condition and further benefits from a beautifully maintained rear garden and off street parking. Early viewing strongly advised.
Temple Fortune Lane, Hampstead Garden Suburb, NW11 £1,399,999
A fine Grade II Listed double fronted semi-detached house with immense charm and character placed on this popular and convenient road close to Temple Fortune shops and a short walk from Golders Green underground. The property features five original built bedrooms and has a lovely large rear garden. The house now requires updating but would undoubtedly make a fine family home. Viewing of this chain free property is highly recommended.
Clive Lewinsohn LANDLORD www.litchfields.com
* Denotes asking price
Wildwood Road, Hampstead Garden Suburb, NW11 ÂŁ1,695,000 A very unique and rare opportunity to purchase one of the only apartments placed directly opposite The Heath Extension and backing onto Hampstead Golf Course. Designed by Gunther Hoffstead in 1927 to look like a single large house, but actually containing three flats. This handsome property is placed in a delightful detached building set in approximately 0.6 acres of beautiful and well maintained front and rear communal gardens, with a driveway leading to the rear garages. This first floor flat has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms (1 en suite), a balcony with views of The Heath Extension and the advantage of a single garage. Each flat has an approximate 33% share in `The Cottageâ€™, being a one bedroom self-contained flat situated within the grounds, which is currently let out on an AST. Viewing is strongly advised.
Wolseley Road, Crouch End N8 £750,000
020 8348 8000 firstname.lastname@example.org 44 Highgate High Street, Highgate Village London N6 5HX
Meet the team
We are pleased to offer this super, characterful two bedroom raised ground floor garden flat in an elegant period conversion on the Highgate-Crouch End borders. The spacious reception room has high ceilings, stripped wooden floor, original cornicing and a feature fireplace and this sunny room opens on to a kitchen-breakfast room with direct access to the 65’ south facing private patio and rear garden. There are two bedrooms, the master with built-in storage and an en-suite bathroom with separate shower cubicle. Further benefits include a guest cloakroom and a lower ground floor level which provides a utility room and ample storage/workshop space.
Whitehall Park, Whitehall Park Conservation Area, N19 £1,375,000*
Giselle Harrison Director
First time to the market since 1954! A substantial late Victorian (1898) family house retaining a wealth of period features and offering versatile living and entertaining spaces across three floors. This spacious house (c.2742 sq ft), which is in need of interior refurbishment, provides a rare opportunity to create a superb family home on a sought after residential road in the heart of the Whitehall Park conservation area. The ground floor offers an impressive double reception area with original intercommunicating doors leading on to a dining room overlooking the garden. There is currently a separate kitchen, guest cloakroom, separate WC and access to a large storage cellar. The first floor provides 3 ample double bedrooms and scope for a family bathroom or luxury en-suite. The top floor has another 3 bedrooms and a family bathroom with plenty of scope to re-configure the space to cater for a larger family or to create a home office space. Whitehall Park is enviably located in a small enclave close to local convenience shopping, great schools, including Whitehall Park primary school, Northern Line tube (zone 2), with all the amenities of historic Highgate Village and bustling Crouch End Broadway on the doorstep. Offered for sale chain free. EPC – E
Milton Park, Highgate, N6 £1,950,000 Ann Marie Bolger Property Management
Sally George Sales Support
My experiences with Litchfields are ‘top-notch’ and my feedback from others that have used Litchfields is similar. Bob Bratland SELLER, PURCHASER & TENANT
A unique, 7 bedroom, newly built house (2016) in the Edwardian style combining original period features with modern building refinements, such as double glazed wood frame sash windows throughout, under floor heating and Cat-6 ethernet wiring. This super family home features a double reception room with original feature fireplaces and inter-communicating doors and a spacious kitchen-dining room with French doors onto the lovely secluded rear garden. There is access under the stairs to a lower ground floor granny/nanny flat (with a separate street entrance). Stairs lead up to a mezzanine level which provides a double bedroom and shower room. The first floor offers 3 further double bedrooms and a family bathroom with jacuzzi bath and under floor heating. The top floor has a large double bedroom with a spacious walk-in storage area and ample storage in to the eaves. Further benefits include off street parking and a wide side access area which has scope for a side extension, subject to planning. Milton Park is enviably located on a very quiet residential road within easy reach of Highgate Tube and Woods, the Parkland Walk, local convenience shopping and several good state and private schools. It is also close to the shops, pubs and restaurants of both Highgate Village and Crouch End Broadway. Chain Free.
Southwood Hall, Highgate, N6 £1,200,000 A top (2nd) floor apartment set in a well maintained mansion block forming part of the Southwood Hall Estate (6 flats in this particular block) surrounded by beautiful landscaped gardens, situated close to Highgate Woods, the underground station and Queens Woods. The flat is very spacious and offers 3 bedrooms and 2 reception rooms, and there is off street parking on a first come first served basis Benefits include additional storage in the basement of the block, a resident porter and easy access to both Highgate Village and Muswell Hill.
* Denotes asking price
Talbot Road, Highgate, N6 ÂŁ2,650,000* CHAIN FREE. A superb 6 bedroom Edwardian family home on a sought after residential road in Highgate Village. This beautifully presented and very stylish house offers versatile family and entertaining spaces. The ground floor provides 2 separate reception rooms, a kitchenbreakfast room and a sun filled west facing conservatory with access to a delightful west facing garden. On the ground floor there is also a guest cloakroom and access to the cellar. There are six ample size double bedrooms on the upper floors, including the master bedroom with en-suite bathroom. One bedroom enjoys an extra conservatory style room off the bedroom area overlooking the garden. In addition there is another family bathroom. The house is located at the Village end of Talbot Road allowing fast access to the amenities of historic Highgate Village, Highgate tube, Highgate and Queenâ€™s Woods and sought after local schools including Channing and Highgate School, with the delights of Kenwood and the Heath just to the West. EPC - D
* Denotes asking price
Donâ€™t take our word for it,
listen to what our customers have to say...
Clive Lewinsohn LANDLORD
***** Litchfields provide an excellent level of service from the moment you give them an instruction. Bob Bratland SELLER, PURCHASER & TENANT
All the people that work there we get on with very well and they take a very deep interest in your properties. Would I recommend them to friends, Iâ€™ve already done it and will continue to do so.
Vikki Lee TENANT, LANDLORD, PURCHASER & SELLER
***** The way that the property was marketed was perfect for me, the photographs were all spot on. I have already recommended Litchfields to family and friends.
Jeff Salmon SELLER, PURCHASER & LANDLORD
Gillian Rafel SELLER & PURCHASER
***** I’m often asked by family and friends whether there’s any specific agent that they should be using in Highgate Village, Litchfields always springs to mind.
Litchfields showed the people around the house they explained everything, which took the pressure off me. They’re not too pushy, very helpful and friendly and always there on the end of the phone.
Claire Shaw PURCHASER
***** The lovely thing about Litchfields is that they made it as easy going and as simple and as straight talking as possible.
Beverley Cummin PURCHASER & SELLER
They really do know what they’re doing.
Giving you peace of mind every time Our innovative approach to marketing, together with our unrivalled customer care, makes us the right choice to market your property and guide you through your move
Whether youâ€™re looking to sell or put your property up for rental, when you choose to market your property with Litchfields, you can be confident that weâ€™ll ensure that everything goes smoothly.
Selling your property A leading independent agent covering all East London and West Essex, the name Litchfields is synonymous with trust, excellence and integrity. With decades of experience, specialising in all aspects of residential property, our friendly, enthusiastic and professional service ensures that our clients continually return to sell and buy through us. We also recognise the importance of marketing, so your property will be advertised on the major online property portals, our website and social media sites, as well as traditional placement in our window display. Exclusively to us in our area, your property will receive its very own FREE microsite showcasing a property video, OFSTED reports, and a property brochure. Sharing your personalised
website across the social networks widens the audience for your property, to find the right buyer and increasing the chances of a quicker sale. Our qualified database of home buyers will be notified of your property coming to market on their dedicated search websites where they can book viewings and offer feedback. Quite simply we endeavour to sell your home for the best price, in the shortest possible time, providing you an outstanding service, with a personal and friendly approach.
Letting your property When it comes to letting, as Litchfields are members of certified accreditations, you can have peace of mind that your property is in safe hands as we ensure you are fully compliant with your landlord duties. We offer a comprehensive range of services for you to choose from including areas such as Tenant Introduction, Rent Collection, Gas Safety Checks, in-depth Inventory reports, Deposit registration, insurance-based Rent Guarantee and Legal cover policies.
As with selling, when you choose to let through us, your property will be advertised on the major online property portals, our website and social media sites, as well as traditional placement in our prominent window display.
The power of social media Your property will also receive its very own FREE property website showcasing a property video, OFSTED reports, and property brochures; something that we are proud to say is exclusive to Litchfields in our area. In addition, our qualified database of tenants will also be notified of your property coming to market on their dedicated search websites where they can book viewings and offer feedback. All our tenants are fully referenced and vetted, making sure the highest of standards are met to find the right tenant for you. By sharing your personalised websites with family and friends across the social networks you will be widening the audience to find the right buyer or tenant for your property, increasing the chances of a quicker sale or rental.
When you choose to market your property with Litchfields,
Video microsite on our website
you can be confident that we’ll ensure that everything goes smoothly
Rightmove featured property advertising* Feature in our monthly magazine
Comparables of houses SOLD and price guides
UNIQUE with Litchfields
Print marketing: Property brochure, photography, floorplans and newspapers COMMON MARKETING
Tech gimic (Drones, 360 tours)
ACTIVATE RECEIVE YOUR VERY OWN
Want to find out more about our range of exclusive services? Then please feel free to pop in or give us a call and we’ll be more than happy to help. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Portals and websites
Feature on our Facebook and Twitter
All our applicants receive your property on their own search for a home website
OPENING ALL THE RIGHT DOORS! Unlock your dream home this year. With our professional and personal approach, alongside our innovative marketing including your own FREE property website to share with friends and family, we will ensure all the right doors are open to you this year.
HIGHGATE VILLAGE 020 8348 8000 HAMPSTEAD GARDEN SUBURB 020 8458 5000