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


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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



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

I love


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.





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.


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.


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.”


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.


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


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.”









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.



01780 762433


Fox Barn (Plot A), Barholm ÂŁ395,000


Foxbarn is a detached single storey stone built home. The property is well designed with a reception room with built in cloaks cupboard, kitchen/breakfast room, large lounge/ dining area with bi-fold doors, 2 double bedrooms both with built in wardrobes, the master bedroom with shower room. Further bathroom.

High Street, Collyweston ÂŁ450,000

Offered with NO CHAIN & only 4 miles to the west of Stamford this surprisingly spacious home has been extended to the back to provide additional 2 storey accommodation ideal as an ANNEX for teenagers, an older relative or those working from home, which is linked by the large 9 metre kitchen breakfast room. It is in the attractive High Street of Collyweston, close to the community shop and village pub. The cottage is not Listed but is within the conservation area of the village. The cottage offers flexible accommodation and has lovely character features including open stone work, beams and a cellar.


Rich ardson Main Street, Empingham ÂŁ525,000


Situated within the conservation area of this highly sought after Rutland village of Empingham, which offers a good range of facilities including a doctors surgery and with Rutland Water close at hand, this well designed detached stone built home is offered with no chain. The feeling of space is evident when first entering the property with a wide reception hall with under stairs storage and separate cloakroom. There are two reception rooms with the study/family room positioned to the front with a corner fireplace, sitting room with further fireplace.

High Street, Rippingale ÂŁ525,000


Set back and positioned off the High Street this attractive individual stone and brick barn with a pantile roof has had a two story extension to the rear so is a lot bigger than first impressions. The quality of the repointed brick & stone work with an impressive oak porchway gives a nudge of reassurance to the overall quality and finish of this conversion. The retention of period features hasn’t compromised the modern open plan layout with an open plan kitchen dining/sitting area with separate living room and further home office or reception with its own entrance as well as plumbing for a shower room if required.


01780 762433


Newtown Court, Stamford £235,000


An opportunity to purchase a modern ground floor apartment with its own private southerly aspect garden within easy walking distance of the town centre, Stamford railway station and Burghley Park. The enclave comprises of only 11 apartments in two buildings built approximately 8 years ago. Entered by a security entry phone system to a communal hallway the apartment is light and airy with the reception hall opening to a large open plan kitchen, living dining area. The kitchen area has a range of built in appliances including fridge freezer, washer dryer, oven & hob with a breakfast bar acting as a divider to the living & dining area with sliding patio doors opening to the outside & garden.

Torkington Gardens, Stamford £159,500


Situated within a purpose built established enclave just a stone’s throw from Waitrose supermarket this first floor apartment forms part of one the over 55’s areas and is situated on a corner allowing plenty of natural light and overlooking the communal gardens. The apartment is well maintained with a modern kitchen and a modern white bathroom suite and has gas central heating. For piece of mind there is a security entry phone system, 24 hour emergency response call system and a local site manager looking after the building, gardens and providing support if needed.


Rich ardson Water Street, Stamford ÂŁ375,000


A stylish, well presented stone town house with secure oversized garaging and a private roof terrace within easy walking distance of Stamford town centre, railway station & The George Hotel. Tucked away off Water Street the accommodation is over four floors and is entered by a spacious welcoming reception hall. This gives access to the two double bedrooms with 4 piece ensuite for one and 3 piece ensuite for the other. To the lower ground floor is the useful utility area which opens up to the oversized garage with electric power door and useful storage cupboard.

Main Street, Yarwell ÂŁ895,000


Situated is a small tucked away cul-de-sac of only 4 properties on the edge of this popular village with views over open countryside can be found this impressive modern stone built family home. Positioned on a generous corner plot the property is very deceptive from the front and offers in excess of 3,000 sqft of living accommodation over a conventional 2 floor layout. The current vendors added extras to the already high specification and finish, a viewing is fully recommended to appreciate this well present home.


VALLEY VIEW DEVELOPMENT The Valley View development is a brand-new development in the wonderful village of Castle Bytham, just 25-minutes from Stamford town centre.


CASTLE BYTHAM Castle Bytham is a beautiful conservation village lying between Stamford and Grantham. The village, with its limestone buildings, is nestled in an area of stunning natural beauty with gentle rolling hills, native woodland and mixed agriculture. Overlooking the village is an 11th century Norman castle mound which is the site of the former castle where the village got its name. Castle Bytham is very close to the border of the smallest county in England, Rutland, which boasts one of the largest man-made lakes in Europe, countless village pubs and miles and miles of gorgeous countryside. And only a mile away from Castle Bytham, you will find the village of Little Bytham, while to the west, you will find the village of South Witham. Castle Bytham currently has two pubs, the Fox & Hounds and the Castle Inn, and it benefits from a wonderful village shop. St. James’s church offers a place of worship and is the hub of the community. Castle Bytham boasts an incredible position amidst beautiful English countryside, only 35-minutes away from the town of Uppingham and 25-minutes’ from both Stamford and Oakham.




Proposed Dwelling at Castle Bytham Peterborough


All the homes on the development are built using Stamford Stone with corner quoins and stone lintels, making them some of the smartest homes in the whole area. Each pair of properties will have electric gates which open to a block paved driveway and the garage with electric doors. Outside, there are enclosed gardens with paved patios and pathways with your choice of seeded or turfed lawns, perfect for enjoying the countryside.

Richardson are pleased to offer a fantastic opportunity to acquire one of these well appointed homes. Please contact us on 01780 762433 or post@richardsonsurveyors.co.uk to register your interest.






& PLOT 3

• Oak Stairs with oak newel, handrail & spindles • Kitchen & Utility will be fitted with stylish units with



quartz, granite or corian work tops and upstands, comprehensive range of Bosch or Neff built in appliances



• Recessed down lighting and pendant lighting with polished chrome or brushed chrome switches and sockets. TV points and media plates to principal rooms

• Tiled flooring to kitchen area, utility, cloakroom, bathroom and ensuites with fully tiled shower areas

• Chrome heated towel rails to bathroom, ensuite and cloakroom. Proposed Dwelling at Castle Bytham Peterborough




• Heating via a programable air source heat pump system. Under floor heating to ground floor and radiators with individual thermostats to the first floor. Chimney and space for multi fuel stove in an attractive surround to living room

• Carpeting throughout • NHBC 10 year warranty


• All homes are built using local Stamford Stone with corner quoins and stone lintels

• Flush Casement double glazed windows and doors • Electric gates opening to block paved driveways • Electric Garage doors • Paved patio area and pathways with seeded or turfed lawns


Internally, no expense has been spared. The kitchen and utility room have been fitted with stylish, modern units with quartz, granite or corian worktops and a comprehensive range of Bosh or Neff integrated appliances. The reception rooms have under floor heating and a chimney with space for a multi-fuel burner in the living room. Stunning oak staircases with oak newels, handrails and spindles lead to the first floor where you will find the bedrooms, some with en-suites, and the family bathroom.


• Enclosed gardens by close board and post & rail fencing

The specification may change and any choice will be subject to the stage of construction.


‘A GOOD USE OF LAND.’ St Martin’s Park, on the old Cummin’s site, was discussed at an application meeting on Tuesday.

The Cummin’s factory, off Barnack Road, closed in 2018 and was bought by South Kesteven District Council (SKDC) for £7.5m. With some adjacent land added by Burghley Estates and a collaboration with the council, they proposed St Martin’s Park, a development of residential properties, including affordable homes, business units, a retirement village and areas of green space. On Tuesday, Stamford town councillors met to discuss the application which despite being


drawn up by SKDC, will also be decided by its elected members. There was only one member of the public to speak at the meeting. Stamford resident, Richard Cleaver, made several points, including the fact that if the Cummin’s site is not reused, no-one benefits and taxpayers would pick up the cost of SKDC’s investment. Councillor David Taylor, who has worked on creating the ‘Stamford Neighbourhood Plan’, a development guide for the town, said, “The neighbourhood plan

supports developments that bring employment opportunities and we are told 825 jobs will be created.” He went on to add that affordable homes were necessary and that he was pleased cycleways and paths could create an attractive new ‘gateway’ to Stamford. The proposal was supported by the majority of town councillors, which will be relayed to South Kesteven District Council planning committee when it discusses the Cummins application. Its next meeting is on January 20.

Rich ardson

SOUTH KESTEVEN SEARCH FOR YOUNG STORY WRITERS Youngsters across South Kesteven are being invited to take part in an exciting new short story writing competition.

The competition is being held in association with the South Kesteven District Council’s Cultural Services team and the Deepings Literary Festival. Young authors from across the district will have the chance to write a short story of up to 500 words creating an imaginative twist on a well-known nursery rhyme or tale. The competition has two age group categories, 5-8 years and 9-13 years. For inspiration, local primary schools are being offered free creative writing workshops. These will be conducted online and are available on a first come, first served basis. Contact Jo Dobbs, Arts Projects Officer for more information by emailing jo. dobbs@southkesteven.co.uk Councillor Rosemary Trollope-Bellew, the Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy at SKDC, said: “The Deepings Literary Festival team is busy planning a range of events for 2021. Their work encouraging creativity in young people is especially important as


the fascinating world of words and reading opens doors to the wider world of arts.” Deepings Literary Festival Committee member, Ros Rendle, said: “We want children and young people to really use their imaginations by taking a popular tale and giving it an unusual spin. “Perhaps the wolf in The Three Little Pigs was simply misunderstood? Or maybe the witch in Hansel and Gretel was just lonely? The possibilities are endless. We hope the initiative will encourage children to revisit some of their favourite stories and look to retell them in unusual and entertaining ways.” A shortlist of the best entries will go to Festival Patron and international best-selling author Elly Griffiths and well-known local children’s author, Hannah Gold, to decide the overall winner. The first prize will be a £50 voucher and signed copies of children’s books by the judges and book prizes for 2nd and 3rd places too. For more details and to submit entries email: enquiries@ deepingsliteraryfestival.co.uk by: 31st March 2021.

01780 762433



SAY Mr Goodson - Developer We went through all the pricing, all the variations and stuff, a lot of due diligence, all the work and stuff they helped us through everything. 100% would recommend Richardsons. I mean they’ve been great, every aspect of the selling, the marketing has been fantastic 100%, no qualms whatsoever.

Mrs Hatt - Buyer Daniel Baker was excellent, we got on really well. He was very efficient and honest and straight-forward and he never hassled me, he never made me feel like I was being put under pressure.




We are experts in selling or letting your home, but just take our word for it, see what our clients are saying

Rich ardson

We’ve had a very good service from Richardsons. Right from the start, from the front desk to Alistair and Daniel… Richardsons came up with a realistic valuation and that gives you confidence they know about the market, they know about this area. I would definitely recommend Richardsons to anyone else, and I don’t go around recommending people like that unless I really believe I can be confident to recommend people and individuals.

Mrs Dolby - Seller



Mrs Kaye - Seller

Very helpful and I felt quite comfortable with them selling the property and that they’d do their best for me.


Mrs King - Seller Whenever I had to rang them, or they rang me it was all done very carefully and they understood my situation. I wanted to feel like the house sale and I was important, not them getting money out of me and I never felt that once.


Meet the Team... Sheep Market House, Stamford. PE9 2RB

ALISTER LEACH Alister is a Partner at Richardson who has over 35 years’ experience within residential sales. Since becoming a partner at Richardson in 2007, he has expanded the residential sales department giving it a highly valued reputation today. Alister has a vast knowledge and a strong reputation for honesty and attention to detail. Always approachable, building on working relationships with both vendors and buyers.

ANDREW LEECH Andrew Leech is a Chartered Surveyor with 30 years’ experience, an RICS Registered Valuer and Head of the Commercial Property Department. Andrew and his team provide a full range of services, including agency, acquisition, commercial property management, valuation, rent review, development advice, lease renewal and general landlord and tenant related work.

CHARLES RICHARDSON Charles is the Senior Partner at Richardson, overseeing the day to day running of the business and ensuring the strict compliance with the ever increasing regulation of our estate agency/surveying practice. Specialising in rural property, Charles completes formal valuation work, alongside advising clients on complex farming, land development, taxation, partnership and associated legal matters.

MARK THOMAS Mark Thomas is a Partner at Richardson with 22 years’ service working at the business in the local property sector. During this time, he has grown and developed our Residential Lettings Department, successfully guiding our many landlords through the increasingly complex area of property rental. Additionally, Mark completes farm agency instructions and undertakes rural professional work.


SANDRA BROOKBANKS Sandra joined the Residential Lettings team as a property manager of Richardson in 2011, having worked in the industry for over 20 years and qualified as a Licenced ARLA Agent in 2013. Sandra’s extensive experience, local knowledge and willingness to go the extra mile has enabled her to build excellent relationships with both tenants and landlords, ensuring the rental process runs as smoothly as possible for all concerned.

Rich ardson

TINA WALSH Tina joined the company in 2019, working as a Property Manager within the Lettings Department having previously worked within the industry. Since joining Richardson, Tina has achieved her Level 3 ARLA Property Mark Qualification. Tina has a passion for providing the best possible Customer Service to both landlords and tenants.

KAYLEY LAPPAGE Kayley is the latest addition to our team, starting in February 2020 as our Receptionist and Administrator for the Sales Department. Kayley has recently completed her Advanced Apprenticeship in Business Administration. She is approachable, organised and hardworking. Kayley cares about customer needs and will help to the best of her ability, which will help build relationship.

CHARLIE BURROWS Charlie joined us as Degree Apprentice in September 2019. Charlie is at Nottingham Trent University studying a Level 6 Chartered Surveyor BSc (Hons) Real Estate Degree Apprenticeship with the ambition to become a Chartered Surveyor at the end. At Richardson Surveyors he is part of the commercial department and is mostly involved with the letting and selling of commercial properties.

MOIRA STUDD Moira has been with Richardson’s Since 2018, who joined as a Residential Lettings secretary, providing support to the letting’s managers. Moira has a vast knowledge within the Residential sector having worked within the industry for the past 25 years and has an eye for attention to detail, ensuring everything is correct before any tenancy agreement takes place.


GINA GRADY Gina joined us during 2019 as a private secretary. She has had a long career working in professional offices, mostly Chartered Accountants, in London and Hertfordshire, before moving to Stamford after having fallen in love with the town many years before. In her spare time she enjoys golf, travelling and renovating properties.

SUE BINDER Sue joined in 1994 and is one of our long established employees, starting out as a secretary Sue’s role has evolved as the business has grown over the years now handling both office, management and accounting systems

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.

Rich ardson 01780 762433

post@richardsonsurveyors.co.uk richardsonestateagents.co.uk Sheep Market House, Stamford. PE9 2RB @RichardsonPE9

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Richardson - February 2021