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LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

PROPERTY NEWS

FEBRUARY 2021

SEEDS TO SOW AND BULBS TO BUD TOP GARDENING TIPS FOR THIS MONTH VALENTINE’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

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Seeds to sow and bulbs to plant It’s time to prepare the ground for summer blooms and crops

PROPERTY

4 16 20

Home entertainment system Helpful tips for upgrading your sound system Our latest instructions Take a look at a selection of our latest properties on the market About us Get to know our team a little better and see why we are your agent of choice

FOOD

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A romantic night in Treat your partner with this spectacular Valentine’s dinner

LIFESTYLE

2

Designing your Valentine’s day Celebrate at home with your significant other

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Audible Books Reasons to be encouraged by this new style of literature

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Valentine gifts for pets Wonderful ideas for your pet on this special day

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Positive vibes Things we can do to give ourselves a lift at this difficult time

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What is Shrove Tuesday? What is it? Where does it come from? And what happens?

SPORT

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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.

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PROPERTY NEWS

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

I love

FOOD

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.

o


ROMANCE AT HOME:

DAY

one

It’s the most romantic day of the year. And what better way to celebrate than at home with your significant other

DESIGNING YOUR

DIY VALENTINE’S

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.

EXPERIENCES

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.

LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

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PUMP UP

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

H

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.

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PROPERTY NEWS

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

LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

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THE FUTURE IS AUDIBLE The ease with which we consume digital content has changed rapidly in the past decade

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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

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PROPERTY NEWS

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.

THE PERFORMANCE

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

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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.

RABBITS

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

LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

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TREAT YOUR KING OR QUEEN THIS VALENTINE’S DAY Treat your partner with this spectacular Valentine’s dinner, perfect for a romantic night in!

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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

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PROPERTY NEWS

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.

LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

9


POSITIVE

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

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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.

GET OUT

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

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PROPERTY NEWS

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.”


NEW GOALS

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.”

LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

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WHAT IS

SHROVE

TUESDAY?

WHAT IS IT?

WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?

WHAT HAPPENS?

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.

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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?

PROPERTY NEWS

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.


& GLORY

HOPE

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)

W

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)

LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

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SOWING THE

SEEDS OF

LOVE

The dark days of winter may finally be behind us, so it’s time to prepare the ground for summer blooms and crops

A

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.

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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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ÂŁ275,000

Maids Moreton

A three bedroom semi detached family home well situated in a desirable village just outside of Buckingham with gas to radiator heating, Upvc double glazing, driveway and rear garden. The accommodation fully comprises: A good sized entrance hall, kitchen, spacious lounge/diner with French doors to the rear garden, first floor landing, three bedrooms and a refitted shower room. The property benefits further from having a garage with refitted electric door and driveway to the side of the property. The property is in catchment for the local village primary school, and both Buckingham Secondary and The Royal Latin Grammar Schools. EPC Rating TBC.

ÂŁ575,000

Tingewick

***NO UPPER CHAIN*** A well presented FOUR DOUBLE bedroom family home situated in this sought after village, not far from Buckingham and in CATCHMENT for local schooling. The property benefits from a NEWLY FITTED KITCHEN & BATHROOM SUITE and GAS CENTRAL HEATING. The property briefly comprises; Entrance hall, kitchen/breakfast which includes integrated appliances, UTILITY room, downstairs CLOAKROOM, lounge, STUDY, conservatory, to the first floor master bedroom with EN SUITE shower room, three further DOUBLE bedrooms and family bathroom. Outside there is a larger than average rear garden, to the front DOUBLE garage partly converted to an outside office and driveway in front. NO UPPER CHAIN.

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Buckingham 01280 815999 Brackley 01280 706832 Banbury 01295 710367 Bicester 01869 251754 CALL US TODAY FOR A FREE NO OBLIGATION VALUATION

£389,950

Buckingham

A very well presented three bedroom, three storey townhouse within walking distance of Buckingham town centre and local schools. The property benefits from two reception rooms, a refitted kitchen and refitted ensuite, low maintenance rear garden, garage and parking. The accommodation comprises: On the ground floor: Entrance hall, cloakroom, study and utility room. On the first floor sitting room, kitchen/breakfast room with various integrated appliances and cloakroom. On the second floor: Master bedroom with built in storage en-suite shower room with ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ basins, two further bedrooms and a family bathroom. To the outside: Carport with iron gates leading to a single garage and private low maintenance rear garden. EPC rating C.

£349,995

Poundon

Situated in the sought after village of Poundon giving easy access to both Buckingham and Bicester which benefits from 2 Mainline rail stations giving access to Oxford, London and The North and the superb Bicester Village edge of town shopping outlet. The accommodation briefly comprises: Entrance hall, Sitting Room, Kitchen, Lean-to Conservatory, 2 bedrooms and a Family Bathroom. The cottage benefits further from having a good size plot giving the opportunity (subject to planning consent) for extension or the provision of a garage at the same time enjoying countryside views and off road parking.

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ÂŁ925pcm

Buckingham

An immaculate one bedroom first floor modern apartment finished to a high specification and offered PART-FURNISHED. The property would suit either a SINGLE PROFESSIONAL or a STUDENT and briefly comprises entrance hall with phone entry system and storage cupboard, open plan lounge/ kitchen/dining area which includes stone quartz work tops, sink with boiling water tap and includes integrated appliances. There is a double bedroom with fitted wardrobes with sliding patio door leading out on to a large decked area together with a luxury bathroom with digitally controlled smart taps, smart mirrors, vanity unit and heated chrome towel rail. COUNCIL TAX BAND C. EPC RATING B. STRICTLY NO PETS. AVAILABLE NOW

ÂŁ975pcm

Winslow

Three bedroom terraced house situated in the market town of Winslow and offering good sized living accommodation. The property is situated within walking distance of the town centre and benefits from gas to radiator central heating and UPVC double glazed windows throughout and briefly comprises entrance porch with utility area, entrance hallway/study area, downstairs cloakroom, kitchen, good sized lounge/dining room, three bedrooms and white bathroom suite with shower over bath. To the outside enclosed rear garden, off street parking available. COUNCIL TAX BAND C. EPC RATING C LANDLORD WILL CONSIDER ONE CAT. AVAILABLE MID-MARCH.

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Buckingham 01280 815999 Brackley 01280 706832 Banbury 01295 710367 Bicester 01869 251754 CALL US TODAY FOR A FREE NO OBLIGATION VALUATION

£1,050pcm

Buckingham

Two double bedroom, PART-FURNISHED, top floor apartment WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE OF THE UNIVERSITY AND TOWN CENTRE. The apartment benefits from allocated parking for one car. The property briefly comprises; open plan lounge/kitchen/dining room with fridge/freezer, slimline dishwasher and integrated washing machine, two double bedrooms, one with en-suite shower room and further bathroom with shower over bath. EPC RATING C. COUNCIL TAX BAND C. STRICTLY NO PETS. AVAILABLE NOW.

£1,195pcm

Buckingham

Well presented three double bedroom mid-terraced house situated on the popular Lace Hill development. The property is situated within catchment for local primary and secondary schools. The property briefly comprises lounge, kitchen/dining room with integrated appliances, downstairs cloakroom, master bedroom with fitted wardrobes and en-suite shower room, second bedroom with fitted wardrobes and one further double bedroom, family bathroom and enclosed rear garden with gated access. The property benefits from a carport to the side and two further allocated parking spaces located at the front. COUNCIL TAX BAND D. EPC RATING B. STRICTLY NO PETS, NO STUDENTS. AVAILABLE BEGINNING FEBRUARY.

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MEET THE TEAM... Brian has been an estate agent since 1983. He runs the successful Buckingham Branch whilst also overseeing our superb lettings team. Brian maintains the most important people in his business are his staff as this transfers into excellent customer service. His hobbies include watching Formula one and is an avid Chelsea fan.

Director Nick has over 30 years experience in the property industry working for Corporate Firms and has been Co Director of Russell & Butler since 2002. Every home is different, every home is important, moving home can be one of the most stressful times, Nick is committed to making this task as easy and as stress free as possible, hopefully even enjoyable... Nick enjoys spending time with family and friends, enjoying a glass of wine and learning modern foreign languages.

Nicholas Butler

Brian Russell

MNAEA, Director

Cheryl Oxley

MNAEA, Branch Manager Cheryl has worked for Nick and Brian at Russell and Butler since day 1. Joining them 15 years ago, as a weekend Sales Negotiator, and with hard work and dedication, Cheryl has progressed through the ranks, qualifying as a member of the National Association of Estate Agents 8 years ago, and is now the Branch Manager. Cheryl’s previous career, pre-children was in Hotel Management where she quickly identified how important good customer care, communication and service is. Communication is key when buying and selling properties, alongside identifying and understanding people’s needs and motivations. Cheryl believes that Brian, Michelle and herself are the strongest sales team in Buckingham, working closely together to provide the overall experience that Russell and Butler provide. Out of work, Cheryl enjoys spending time with family and friends, going for long walks and is partial to the odd glass of Prosecco!

Michelle (AKA Mush) joined Russell & Butler in March 2014 as a Sales Negotiator, with a passion for delivering a high level of customer service and keen to change the perception of ‘Estate Agents’ she shortly went on to become Senior Sales Negotiator and a qualified member of the National Association of Estate Agents. Michelle believes success in estate agency is down to client satisfaction and reputation, trusting the agent you are buying or selling through is paramount. Michelle values residential properties within the area, conducts sales viewings and has an excellent understanding of buyers and sellers requirements, living locally her knowledge of the area is invaluable. Michelle enjoys good food and quality time with family and friends.

Michelle Jenkinson

MNAEA, Senior Sales Negotiator

Alice joined the team in 2019 as an administrator, quickly establishing herself as part of the team and making the role her own. She enjoys the busy atmosphere of the sales office and keeping everything organised and up to date. In her free time Alice likes to spend time with her family and friends & interior design.

Sales Progressor At Russell & Butler we only believe a sale is a sale once an exchange of contracts has been achieved. Tracey’s role is to communicate and chase all parties involved in the transaction, ie. Solicitors, Estate Agents, Vendors & Purchasers with the sole aim of reaching an Exchange of Contracts as quickly as possible, Tracey has been an Estate Agents and more recently worked in a Local Solicitor’s Office and therefore has gained a knowledge and understanding of the sales process which is second to none.

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Tracey Steventon

Alice Butler

Branch Administrator


Buckingham 01280 815999 Brackley 01280 706832 Banbury 01295 710367 Bicester 01869 251754 CALL US TODAY FOR A FREE NO OBLIGATION VALUATION

Lyn Jopling

Sales Negotiator Before becoming an Estate Agent, Lyn used to work as a Customer Services Manager and delivered customer services training, working with independent Estate Agents and the NAEA. At that time, Lyn realised what she wanted to do and has never been happier since making the change! Lyn is somewhat obssessed with buying and selling property having bought and sold 13 times! Constantly inspired and enthused by the opportunity and adventure that a new property presents, she brings enthusiasm and energy to work. Lyn loves working on projects to improve her home and likes a good book and a glass of wine to relax with.

Rachel joined us in March 2015 as our Property Manager, having been in the industry for 9 years, progressing to Senior Property Manager in 2019 and in February 2020, took on the role as Lettings Manager, heading up our Lettings Department. Rachel’s main role now involves carrying out rental valuations and driving the business forward, together with overseeing the management of our rental portfolio.

Rachel Yates

Lettings Manager

Debbie joined the team in July 2013 and is the back bone of all of our general administration duties, which include managing the progression of all of our tenancy applications and preparing all paperwork for the tenants to move in on time, together with managing all tenancy renewals.

Senior Lettings Negotiator Matthew has been with us since February 2016 and has proved a valuable addition to the lettings team as it has grown to the level where we were in need of a dedicated member of staff to fulfill this role. Matthew manages our applicant database and conducts all of our rental viewings, negotiating lets between the landlord and the tenant and providing feedback to our landlords after each appointment so that they are always updated on the progress of marketing their property.

Matthew Russell

Debbie Rowe

Lettings Administrator

Shirley Taylor

Property Manager Shirley joined the lettings team in August 2020 as an additional Property Manager and, with 9 years experience in the Lettings industry, has a wealth of knowledge to bring to the lettings team. Shirley’s role is assisting in managing all maintenance related issues and compliance checks, together with ensuring that all of our Fully Managed properties are kept in good condition in order to protect our Landlords investments and achieve maximum rental income.

Annette’s early career was in Marketing and Magazine Publishing, returning to the UK from spending fourteen years in Australia, she changed direction and went into Property Sales and Management. Working as Lettings Manager for a local agent for some years, in 2011 she decided to start her own business providing Inventories, Check Outs and Sales Consultancy. Annette has now progressed into Property Management and is delighted to become a Property Manager, alongside Shirley, as a valued member of the Lettings Team.

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Annette Darby

Property Manager


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Here’s what our our customers have to say...

Certainly our experience with Russell & Butler as both a buyer and a seller was excellent. We were kept informed and supported through some difficult times. Our selling chain fell through and we felt very supported throughout.

David Buyer & Seller

I think Russell & Butler differ from other estate agents in the area because their level of service and response, especially their response time. They keep you informed at every stage even after the sale is made using they’re sales progressing service is fantastic.

Nigel Seller & Landlord russellandbutler.com


Buckingham 01280 815999 Brackley 01280 706832 Banbury 01295 710367 Bicester 01869 251754 CALL US TODAY FOR A FREE NO OBLIGATION VALUATION

“ With regards to recommending Russell & Butler, they are the only ones I would recommend.

In an estate agent we look for professionalism and good people which Russell & Butler have a lot of.

Nigel Landlord

Neil Landlord

What we look for in a letting agent is trust worthy, professionalism and good advice and we find all that with Russell & Butler. We would recommend Russell & Butler without any hesitation and have done that with a few of our collegues in the rental business.

Vartan and Sarah - Landlord

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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.

Buckingham 01280 815999

Bicester 01869 251754

Banbury 01295 710367

Brackley 01280 706832

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Russell & Butler - February 2021