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The Village Breeze EDITOR Sheila J. Bethell MOBILE 0753 441 3055 SALES 01283 814214 EMAIL info@thevillagebreeze.co.uk

Welcome FEBRUARY 2021 / ISSUE 113

VISIT www.thevillagebreeze.co.uk

Contents 3 4 6 8 8 10 12 14 15 18 20 22 24 25 26 28 30

HELLO and Welcome from your Editor ANIMAL TALES Dogs that Sniff Out Sickness BOOKS Books to Dip into GARDENING Get Planting LOCALLY Measham Gardening Group

H

ello again and welcome…

What makes a village special? It is the people who live there. It may be your friends, neighbours, or someone you’ve never met. Every person adds their own splash of colour to village life. It has been especially noticeable during these difficult times. We are exercising and walking more so we see a lot more people. The good mornings and hello’s are once more in abundance.

MURRAY CLARKE Roses are Red PARENTING Help your Baby Sleep HISTORY Valentine’s Customs PET HEALTH Choosing a Feathered Friend STAYCATION Cruising on the River Dart A WALK WITH MARK Prestop Park Wood COFFEE BREAK Take 5! COOK Tartiflette BAKE Orange & Apricot Loaf KIDS PUZZLE PAGE The Human Body MOTORING In-car Game Changers HOME INTERIORS A Houseplant Passion

DISTRIBUTED TO... Appleby Magna, Donisthorpe, Linton, Measham, Moira, Oakthorpe, Overseal and Snarestone. DEADLINE FOR NEXT ISSUE... 5th February, 2021 DISTRIBUTION... 8,000 copies monthly.

Our cover image...

Spring will soon be with us and no doubt you’ll be catching up on all those jobs that need doing. Our advertisers have done a great job at adapting their businesses at such short notice and I do hope that you continue to support them as much as ever. If you are planning an event this year, then remember these can be promoted for free with The Village Breeze by going direct to our website at www.thevillagebreeze.co.uk or email us at info@thevillagebreeze.co.uk with over 20,000 readers, it’s the best way to get free promotion. And the thought I will leave you with this month:“I will enjoy long romantic walks… To the fridge.” Until next time…

Sheila

Here’s to a Valentine’s Day Celebration, lockdown style! Front cover image courtesy of Pixaby. FEBRUARY 2021

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KATE MCLELLAND

ANIMAL TALES

Dogs that

Sniff out sickness

W

E are all accustomed to the idea of police tracker dogs searching for hidden drugs or explosives, sniffing out evidence at a murder scene or following the trail of a missing person. But what if a dog could use its remark-able sense of smell for another purpose, such as detecting disease within the human body? The idea sounds like something out of a science-fiction novel, but for some time dogs have been used to detect and warn against all kinds of medical conditions.

It turns out that the coronavirus that caused the Covid-19 pandemic has its own distinctive chemical signature that can be detected by carefully trained sniffer dogs. MDD currently has several dogs in Covid training and Dr Guest comments that “The study is moving forwards very well and the signs are all really positive.” One dog in particular has shown a remarkable ability to detect the coronavirus odour, unfailingly pointing it out on each test. After eight weeks in the laboratory during the first phase of training, the dogs will move on to use their newly learned skill in real-life situations. The charity, which has been working with the London School of Tropical Medicine and Durham University, ultimately hopes that the scheme can be expanded. The plan is to station dogs in places such as testing centres and airports, where they will be able to screen up to 250 people per hour. The secrets of the canine nose

So finely tuned are these dogs’ ultra-sensitive noses that they are capable of picking up trace odours that are the equivalent of dropping a teaspoon of sugar into two Olympic-sized swimming pools. The charity Medical Detection Dogs (MDD), based in Milton Keynes, is at the forefront of research into medical sniffer dogs, and MDD’s researchers already have animals capable of spotting the scent of malaria, cancer and Parkinson’s disease. Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, however, attention has turned to whether the dogs would be able to detect traces of coronavirus on skin and clothing. Covid detectives “When we have a particular disease or condition our odour changes, and a dog is able to detect this odour and, when trained, to tell us about it,” explained the charity’s Chief Executive Dr Claire Guest, speaking recently to ITV News.

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Dogs owe their extraordinary sense of smell to the complex structure inside their noses. Whereas a human has around five million scent receptors, dogs have over 300 million. Specialised bones in the dog’s nasal cavity create more space for these scent receptor cells, and the part of the brain that processes scents is particularly large in a dog. This gives them an incredible ability not just to pick out single odours, but to detect subtle differences within a complex group of scents. This ability, when combined with dogs’ intelligence and willingness to learn, makes them the best biosensors known to man. Clearly there is huge potential to develop this area of medicine and the results speak for themselves: dogs are able to pick out blood samples from people with cancer with almost 97 percent accuracy. Let’s hope that this fascinating field of research continues to receive the funding and support it so richly deserves.


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BOOKS

KATE DUGGAN

Books to

S

OMETIMES we just can’t face a whole novel or autobiography. With these books, you can dip in and out whenever you have a spare five minutes. Dear NHS: 100 Stories to Say Thank You – Adam Kay

Adam Kay brings us a series of essays and musings from a range of household names, from Malala Yousafzai to Dame Julie Walters and Johnny Vegas. Each tale is about how the NHS has stepped in to help the writer. There’s a story of a suspected heart attack that turned out to be trapped wind, several about household accidents (often involving kitchen knives) and plenty of sentimental stories to boot. Plus, all profits go to charity. Encounters: A Photographic Journey – Levison Wood Award-winning reportage photo-grapher Levison Wood has travelled to more than 100 countries over the last ten years. Encounters brings together 140 of his images, along with text about each one. You’ll meet a young shepherd girl in Ethiopia, resourceful teenagers in the Congo, stranded nomads, fishermen in Yemen and families surviving in war-torn regions. The Repair Shop: Tales from the Workshop of Dreams If you love the TV series about expert craftspeople restoring much loved family heirlooms, you won’t want to miss the accompanying book. It goes into more detail about some of the most interesting items shown in the series, from a rusty miner’s helmet to a circus performer’s dress. It’s the book version of a mug of tea and hot buttered crumpet.

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dip into Toksvig’s Almanac 2021 – Sandi Toksvig Fancy ‘An Eclectic Meander Through the Historical Year’? The main focus is on women that have been all but forgotten. There’s Begum Samru – an Indian dancer who led an army of mercenaries, Ida B. Wells – an activist and suffragist who cofounded the largest civil rights organisation in the United States, and Annette Kellerman, whose stunts including diving from 60 feet into a pool of crocodiles. There are also poems, trivia and other fascinating snippets. Back to Nature: How to Love Life and Save It – Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin  Whether you’re an avid nature lover and wondering how to stop the catastrophic decline in biodiversity, or you’re feeling disconnected from the wild and want to reap the benefits of it once again, this is a great book to help you. There are lots of interesting titbits to digest over a coffee (ever wondered how trees communicate?) and plenty of ideas for how to take action. Sapiens: A Graphic Novel – Yuval Noah Harari et al. The original Sapiens is fascinating, but there’s an awful lot of information to take in. If you’re interested in the origin of humans, but want something a little easier to digest, try this instead. It’s the first volume in a graphic-novel adaptation of the global bestseller. Full-colour illustrations and straightforward text take the reader on a journey from the very birth of humankind. It’s absorbing, suitable for older children and adults and has a good spattering of humour throughout.


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GARDENING

Planting Get

A

LTHOUGH autumn is viewed as the best time for planting, trees, shrubs, climbers or herbaceous plants will have enough time to get established if planted now. Plan a shopping trip to fill garden spaces with colour, shape or perfume. Start by digging or forking the soil over and removing pernicious weeds or debris. Measure the available spaces so that the chosen plant does not outgrow its new home too quickly, and make a note of how sunny or shaded the spot is. There should be a good selection of shrubs to choose from right now that will provide springtime colour – perhaps a flowering currant with flower trusses in red or pink, a star magnolia, Magnolia stellate, with white or palest pink star-shaped flowers, or, if you have space, an amelanchier, great value because they have tiny, very pretty white flowers with foliage in fiery shades come autumn. On acidic soils or in a goodsized pot of ericaceous compost, camellias perform well and their large flowers in reds, pinks, yellows and white look great. There is also Exochorda macrantha, ‘The Bride’, with delightful arching stems studded with tiny white flowers; the list goes on and on.

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PIPPA GREENWOOD

Plant your purchases as soon as possible. Dig a good-sized hole for each, making it several inches wider than the root ball all round, and fork the base and sides of the hole over thoroughly, especially in clay – where you should prepare the soil with a fork, as this causes less compaction of the soil than using a spade. If the soil is either heavy clay or extremely light and sandy, dig a bigger hole, gradually incorporating more of the ‘natural’ soil into the compost or planting mix as you near the sides of the hole. Before planting, remove the pot and firmly tease out the roots – soaking the root ball in a bucket of

water for an hour or two helps if they are quite congested and is essential for the plant to get properly established. Prune out any really large, woody roots encircling the root ball to release the remainder of the roots. The plant should be planted at the same depth that it was in its pot, with just the roots, and no part of the stem, below ground level. Watering in helps settle the soil around the fine roots, even if it is fairly moist. Finally, stand back and check the stem is upright. Make a note of the plant’s precise name and details, or remove the label and keep it somewhere safe, so you know how to look after your plant and how big it may grow!

At Pippa’s website (www.pippagreenwood.com) you’ll find stylish cloches, practical and pretty plant supports, the fantastic SpeedHoe, gardening tools, Grower Frames, signed books and the ‘Grow Your Own with Pippa’ system. Or book Pippa for a gardening talk at your gardening club. FEBRUARY 2021 | 09


MURRAY CLARKE

SHORT STORY

Roses are

V

IOLET, ninety-six, stared thoughtfully out of the window, a tear in her eye. The other senior citizens in the room were either asleep, reading or watching television. It may have been Valentine’s Day, but there wasn’t a card in sight. It had been a long time since the residents of the care home had received a romantic card from anyone. Memories came flooding back of the happy times enjoyed when she was young. She smiled to herself. Those were the days. World War Two. Food rationing was the order of the day, but everyone rallied around and supported each other. Violet was just twenty years old - her whole life spread out in front of her like uncharted territory. She was so pretty, long blonde hair flowing down to her waist. Sapphire blue eyes. Full of fun and vitality. Always laughing. Oh yes! Violet smiled again - she’d had her fair share of admirers . . . and Valentine’s cards; many of them handmade. Tall handsome men declared their undying love for her. Bunches of flowers, chocolates, jewellery – even silk stockings from the

Red

‘Did you say something, Violet, my dear?’ A carer was walking past and shook her head: talking to herself again! Violet and Jacko enjoyed a blissful few weeks in each other’s company, and then one morning, the following February, he took off in his single-engine aeroplane on a flight to France . . . And disappeared. Violet was heartbroken and prayed that Jacko, one day, would return to her loving arms. But he never did, and she remained a spinster for the rest of her life. Violet let out a long loud sigh, remembering what might have been. It was at that moment that she happened to glance down. She gasped. Lying on the small wooden coffee table beside her, she saw a beautiful bouquet of red roses. A handwritten card was pinned to them. Violet bent down and read the message: “To Violet. Love you always, my darling. Jacko xx” A tear came into her eye. ‘Oh Jacko, you’ve not forgotten me,’ she whispered. ‘Everything okay, Violet?’ The carer had returned.

American G.I.s. Some of the Valentine cards were signed only with a kiss; smitten young men too bashful to reveal their names!

‘It’s Jack - he’s remembered me on Valentine’s Day,’ she replied with glee, and pointed towards the coffee table.

Boyfriends came and went. But no serious relationships . . . until the day she met Jacko in late 1944 - Squadron Leader Jack Gibson. She remembered how dashing the young pilot had looked in his smartly pressed dark blue RAF uniform. Every bit an officer and a gentleman. She fell madly in love with him from the moment she saw him.

The carer, Linda, looked, a blank expression on her face.

Violet remembered their first proper date, just before Christmas 1944. Jacko had arranged to meet at a dance in the local village hall. He walked in, a beaming smile on his kindly face. In his hand he grasped a huge bunch of the finest red roses Violet had ever seen. ‘For a lovely lady,’ Jacko said, gallantly. No man had ever given her red roses before! And, later, when he bent down to kiss her, his neatly trimmed moustache tickled her face and made her squeal with girlish delight. Violet recalled the fun she’d had dancing the night away in his arms. Happy, happy memories!

‘Don’t you see – the red roses?’ insisted Violet. Linda rested her hand lightly on Violet’s shoulder. ‘There’s nothing there, my dear. Now, why don’t you come and sit over there with the others? There’s a romantic World War Two film about to start. I think you’ll enjoy it.’ *** POSTSCRIPT: AN INTERNAL MEMO, CIRCULATED LATER, STATED “SQUADRON LEADER JACK (JACKO) GIBSON HAD TAKEN OFF FROM AN AIRFIELD IN DORSET ON A SECRET RECONNAISANCE MISSION TO FRANCE. HIS SPITFIRE WAS SHOT DOWN BY ENEMY FIRE SOMEWHERE OVER THE ENGLISH CHANNEL. HIS BODY WAS NEVER RECOVERED. DATE: 14th. FEBRUARY 1945. VALENTINE’S DAY.”

‘Jacko, you were my only true love,’ Violet said out loud. Murray Clarke is one of our local contributors. Email: murrayclarke@btinternet.com 10 | THE VILLAGE BREEZE


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KATE DUGGAN

PARENTING

Help your baby

A

PPARENTLY babies sleep for fifteen to seventeen hours a day. Try telling that to a sleepdeprived parent. We can’t wave a magic wand to make your baby sleep better, but we can recommend some new innovations that might help you to get a bit more shuteye.

Sneaky nappy changes. “Ah 3am nappy changes. What fun,” said no one ever. Being wrestled out of an awkward sleepsuit is pretty much guaranteed to turn a halfasleep baby to a wide-awake one. Enter the SnüzPouch. Unlike most baby sleeping bags, this one has a curved zip on the front. Open it up, slip a travel changing mat under your baby’s bottom and get to work changing that nappy. You don’t need to lift your baby out of the cot or battle to prize their legs back into a Babygro. And zips are a lot easier than poppers. The SnüzPouch is made from 100% cotton and available in lightweight 0.5 and 1 tog versions for summer and a snuggly 2.5 tog for the rest of the year. There are two sizes available and ten designs to choose from. £29.95, see www.snuz.co.uk. Baby radio. Babies tend to love music. If you’re fed up of listening to the same songs or scrolling through Spotify for something different, try Rockabye Radio (www.rocka byeradio.co.uk). It plays nonstop music around the clock, with tunes chosen to suit the time of day. So you’ll hear relaxing, calming lullabies at naptime and bedtime, and

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Sleep

upbeat fun melodies to bounce around to at other hours. There’s even a daily disco. The station is the brainchild of Karen and Mike. Between them, they’ve composed music for the likes of CBeebies, worked on West End Shows like The Lion King, trained music teachers and set up The British Academy of New Music. In other words, they know what they’re talking about. Good vibrations. I wish the NapNap sleep mat had been around when my daughter was a baby. I may have fewer grey hairs and yawninduced wrinkles. She was a bit of a nightmare sleeper. I don’t think she slept for more than a couple of hours at a time until after her first birthday. It was exhausting. The NapNap combines gentle vibrations with white noise to comfort and calm a baby. Basically, it’s designed to mimic a womb environment. You can use it in a cot or pram and it rolls up into a bag so is handy for travelling. You can also use it on the floor for tummy time (it might help to ease colic). There are six levels of vibration to choose from, including two that mimic a heartbeat. And it’s waterproof, with a machine washable cotton cover. All in all, it’s a genius idea. At £120 it isn’t cheap, but when I was sleepdeprived I’d have probably sold a kidney to get more shuteye. See www.napnapuk. co.uk


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CATHERINE ROSE

HISTORY

T

Valentine’s Customs

HIS month, Valentine’s Day will see us buying our loved ones cards, flowers and gifts and perhaps sharing a romantic meal. Many countries around the world celebrate Valentine’s Day, or an equivalent not necessarily on 14th February.

Slovenian proverb goes: “St Valentine’s brings the keys of roots”, as it is the day work usually begins in the fields. There is a charming belief that it is also the day when birds propose to each other and wed for the season.

The French village of Saint-Valentin hosts a special three-day festival from 13th to 15th February, when trees and houses are bedecked with hearts, love letters and red roses. Lovers can propose in Le Jardin des Amoreux (The Lovers’ Garden) beneath a decorated willow tree, Le Saule aux Coeurs (the Willow of Hearts). One of the precursors to Valentine’s Day was the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia. At this festival, women would wear the name of their beloved on their arm. This ritual continues in South Africa where women pin paper hearts with the name of their sweetheart onto their sleeves, to literally ‘wear their heart on their sleeve’. Since the 1930s, women in Japan have presented boxes of fabulously coloured and decorated chocolates to men on Valentine’s Day. The chocolate given has a definite hierarchy. Chocolate presented to a lover is honmei-choko, literally meaning ‘favourite’ or ‘sincere’ chocolate, and is sometimes home-made. But women also give chocolate to important men in their life with whom they have no romantic connection, such as their boss. This type of chocolate is called girichoko or ‘obligation chocolate’. More recently tomochoko or ‘companion chocolate’ has appeared, in which women also give chocolate boxes to their best girlfriends. Across some Scandinavian countries, it is traditional for an admirer to send short love verses known as gaekkbrev on Valentine’s Day. The anonymous poems are signed with dots, each corresponding to a letter in the sender’s name. In Denmark it is also customary to give pressed snowdrops. Valentine’s Day is known as Zdravko in Slovenia and is linked with celebrations of fertility and the land. An old

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Estonians see Valentine’s Day as a festival of love for everyone. Sobrapaev translates as Friendship Day and as such does not have a romantic bias, instead celebrating love between all. The Welsh have long had an alternative to Valentine’s Day. There, St Dwynwen’s Day is on 25th January. St Dwywen is the Welsh patron saint of lovers and it was historically the day when men would give their wives, fiancées and girlfriends intricately carved and symbolic wooden Welsh love spoons. But the award for the most romantic nation must go to South Korea. As well as celebrating Valentine’s Day where (like Japan) women traditionally honour men, the 14th day of every month is reserved for lovers and each celebration has a different name. That is a lot of celebrations and holidays for lovers!


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STAYCATION

S

SOLANGE HANDO

Cruising on the River Dart

UN, sand and sea, Devon is fabulous, but if you feel like a change from the beach, a river cruise is a lovely way to relax away from the crowds. The Dart has its source up on Dartmoor, its east and west branches joining in Dartmeet before flowing into the Channel at Dartmouth. Among the options is the award-winning Round Robin starting in Paignton, where a steam train takes you along the scenic coast down to the estuary. The halfhour journey ends in Kingswear on the left bank, then it's just three minutes on the ferry across to Dartmouth. In this land of deep water and steep valleys there are no bridges until you reach Totnes, about eight miles away at the end of the cruise. Departures are governed by the tide and passengers may have time to explore Dartmouth, a gorgeous little place where myriad yachts glisten in a coastal inlet. Framed by green hills, as lush as velvet, neat cottages beckon up the lanes festooned in pastel colours and flowering plants. But soon the cruise is ready to go – paddle steamer only on special dates – first downstream if the tide is right for a close-up look at the medieval castles that once guarded the narrow entrance to the estuary. Feel the currents? Time to turn around and enjoy the most enticing views of Dartmouth, town clinging to the hills, dazzling yachts, the Britannia Royal Naval College, an impressive late Victorian building, and you might just spot your nostalgic steam train puffing away through the trees.

Then all is quiet, just the occasional boat sending ripples across the water or the breeze whispering in the trees. The oaks which gave the Dart its Celtic name may be sparse but there's plenty of greenery along the meandering banks, while up on the hills meadows glow in luminous light. Salmon, trout and more, the river is full of fish, a treat for black-headed gulls and other birds – here an osprey, there a rare dipper, a lonely heron, a colourful kingfisher and egrets galore. Most exciting in season are the Canadian geese feeding in the shallows and, if you're lucky, grey seals basking on the rocks or swimming alongside the boat. In this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a few villages doze along the banks – like Stoke Gabriel, its winding streets gathered around an 800-year-old yew tree, or Dittisham with delightful seafood cafés and a passenger ferry to Greenway across the river. Owned by the National Trust, this was Agatha Christie's holiday home and inspiration for a few murder mysteries. You'll need a special trip to visit house and garden, but as you sail past you're sure to see the elegant Georgian house rising on the hill among the trees. A little further, the Sharpam Estate may also tempt you back with awardwinning wines and its own delicious cheese. Ninety minutes or so after leaving Dartmouth, Totnes greets you like a fairy tale with bohemian lanes, cream teas and panoramic views from its hilltop castle.

Solange Hando...”Be a Travel Writer, Live your Dreams, Sell your Features.” 18 | THE VILLAGE BREEZE


FEBRUARY 2021

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MARK WHITE

WALK 8 : WALKING WEST ASHBY TOO

Prestop Park

Y

OU may have seen a sign like this before, at the Moira Road entrance; or another version high up on the hill at the northern end of the woodland, from where you can look south beyond Shellbrook, Norris Hill and Moira. This particular version of the sign is the one at the Moira Road entrance.

The map on each sign shows the public footpaths in yellow, and open spaces (including other footpaths) in black. The black boundaries of each field are footpaths too.

Wood

footpaths, but have been opened up to the public by the landowner). And although Prestop Park Wood is no more than ¾ mile from north to south, and only a ½ mile from east to west, there are a lot of variations within. To walk longer distances but remain close to your starting point, go around all of the trails, criss-crossing back and forth. Plenty of options to exercise your canine friends. If extensive walks are not always your cup of tea, there are lots of accessible off-path locations in which to relax (mainly in the area bounded by B-CD-F), some more secluded than others. Bring your sarnies, and your binoculars for the birdlife. If you have company, bring your picnic hamper. Or just bring a blanket, to discuss the merits of Jean-Paul Sartre, D.H. Lawrence, or Leo Tolstoy. And talking of rubbish, please take yours home.

The locations on the larger map are as follows: A-B: Part of the public footpath that runs from Blackfordby in the northwest (beyond A), to Westfields Estate in the southeast (beyond B); part of WALK 5. B-C-D-E: The first part of WALK 7, from the centre of the Bellway/Ashberry building site (B), past the first telegraph poles and power line (C), past the junction of many trails (D), to the gate on Moira Road (E). E-D-F: Public footpath (in yellow) from Moira Road (E), which joins up with the Blackfordby-Westfields public footpath (at F). Other than the yellow public footpath track, the black areas on the map represent permissive paths (i.e. trails that are not recognised by the government as public

‘Walking West Ashby Too’ is a continuation of an initial ‘Walking West Ashby’ guide, if you don’t have access to the original guide, email Mark White at walkingwestashby@gmail.com, and he will have it sent to you. 20 | THE VILLAGE BREEZE


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COOK

SERVES 4 • READY IN 60 MINS

Tartiflette This rich and cheesy potato gratin makes a fabulous warming winter supper. Serve with salad and crusty bread. YOU WILL NEED... • • • • • • • • • •

1kg Charlotte potatoes, halved 1 tbsp olive oil 2 small onions, peeled and thinly sliced 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed 4 smoked bacon rashers, finely chopped 100ml dry white wine 100ml double cream 4 tbsp crème fraiche Salt and freshly ground black pepper 150g Reblochon cheese, rind removed and sliced • Sprig of parsley, to garnish HERE’S WHAT TO DO... 1 Boil the potatoes in a large pan of lightly salted water until just tender. Drain well, cool for 10 minutes then cut into thin slices. Preheat the oven to 200oC / fan 180oC / gas mark 6. 2 Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and fry the onions and garlic for 5-6 minutes, stirring. Add the chopped bacon and continue cooking until the onions are golden and tender. Pour the wine into the pan and bring to the boil. Boil until the liquid has almost evaporated. 3 Layer the potatoes and onion mixture in a large square baking dish. Mix together the cream and crème fraiche and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour over the potatoes. 4 Lay the cheese slices on top. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until golden and bubbling. Serve garnished with parsley. TOP TIP... Use any other cheese you prefer. Try mature Cheddar, taleggio or Gruyere. 24 | THE VILLAGE BREEZE


BAKE

MAKES 8 • READY IN 90 MINS

Apricot Orange &

Loaf

Get the kettle on and enjoy a slice of this delicious fruity loaf cake.

YOU WILL NEED... • • • • •

175g unsalted butter, softened 175g caster sugar 175g self-raising flour 3 medium eggs Grated zest and juice from 1 small orange, plus extra zest to decorate • 75g ground almonds • 125g ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped • Icing sugar, to dust HERE’S WHAT TO DO... 1 Preheat the oven to 170oC / fan 150oC / gas mark 3. Grease a 900g (2lb) loaf tin and line the base and two long sides with baking paper. 2 Place the butter, sugar, flour, eggs and the orange rind and juice in a bowl. Beat with an electric whisk until thoroughly combined. Toss together the ground almonds and apricots and fold into the mixture. 3 Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and gently level the surface. Bake for 50 minutes 1 hour 10 minutes until risen and golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Serve dusted with icing sugar and decorated with the extra orange zest. TOP TIP... If the top of the cake starts to overbrown before the end of the cooking time, cover loosely with a piece of foil. FEBRUARY 2021

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FEBRUARY 2021

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MOTORING

Changers In-car game

N

OWADAYS drivers have access to a wide variety of technologies that make driving safer, easier and more enjoyable than ever before, and we look at some of the most important of those. Airbags made a huge difference, protecting occupants from serious injuries caused by hitting their head on hard cabin trim. Although they were developed in the 1950s, they didn’t come to Europe until 1980, when the Mercedes S-Class offered them as an option. It wasn’t until the late 1990s before airbags were offered as an option at the very least on the majority of cars.

Most modern cars now come with Bluetooth, which means drivers can play music and podcasts through their car speakers by hitting play on their phones. The latest advancement is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which provide simplified versions of each operating system to be used in the car. Advanced cruise control For some drivers, cruise control – which sees the car maintain a set speed itself – is a controversial subject. Those against it think it allows drivers to concentrate less, while others say it frees brain space to let them concentrate more on their surroundings. Either way, cruise-control systems have advanced to the point where modern cars are almost considered autonomous. These systems combine different technologies, such as radar-assisted cruise control and lane-keep assist, to maintain a vehicle’s place in traffic without any driver input.

Automatic air conditioning Ever suffered the discomfort of driving in the height of summer or a restricted view from a steamed-up windscreen in a car that doesn’t have air conditioning? That’s why air con is one of the biggest innovations in motoring, making driving comfortable for millions of people. And automatic air con lets you set a cabin temperature that remains constant, a luxury many take for granted in 2020. Satellite navigation The advent of in-car satnav systems in the 1990s did away with the need to work out a route before travelling and then using the map on your journey to find your way – which is incredibly distracting. Still considered something of a luxury, it’s an option most people choose. The peace of mind it provides is usually worth the extra cost. In-car entertainment Providing entertainment while driving has always been a selling point, with early radios replaced by tape decks, CD players, and in modern cars, smartphone connectivity. 28 36 | THE VILLAGE BREEZE

Car-to-smartphone connectivity As well as integrating infotainment systems with smartphones for entertainment purposes, a more recent innovation has seen manufacturers creating apps that let owners control aspects of their car from their phone. These are particularly popular in electric vehicles, as you can check charging or prime the battery to a good operating temperature before setting off. But other features, such as checking if the car is locked, setting a cabin temperature remotely or checking the car’s location, work for all vehicle types.


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KATHERINE SORRELL

HOME INTERIORS

Passion A houseplant

Create a beautiful indoor garden in any room House plants look amazing, adding colour, pattern, texture, interesting forms and a feeling of vibrancy. They can fill a dull corner, provide soft screening and help dampen noise. The Royal Horticultural Society reports that indoor plants have been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce fatigue and headache. Intriguingly, patients in hospital rooms containing plants report decreased post-operative pain. The psychological benefits include the satisfaction of nurturing a small seedling to a healthy, mature plant, as well as the pleasure of watering, misting and pruning, while the RHS says that house plants have been shown to reduce stress levels, improve mood, increase productivity and potentially lengthen attention span. Plants make us feel good.. What plants to choose? Select plants suited to homes, where it is shadier and temperature fluctuations are greater than in their normal habitat. Good examples include the spider plant, the Boston fern, several varieties of dracaena, Sansevieria trifasciata, rubber plants (ficus elastica), peace lilies (spathiphyllum), aspidistra and ivy. Succulents and cacti tend to be relatively easy to care for and come in a range of shapes and sizes.

Pooky

For fashion followers, the mostdiscussed plants on Reddit in 2020 included the pothos, monstera, philodendron, calathea, hoya and peperomia. On the other hand, the world’s most Instagrammed houseplants include the Swiss cheese plant (monstera deliciosa), fiddle leaf fig (ficus lyrata), Chinese money plant, snake plant and money tree. 30 | THE VILLAGE BREEZE

firedearth.com

Pooky Where to put your house plants Generally plants need good light (but not bright, direct sunlight) and should be away from heat sources, draughts and cold. Darker rooms like bathrooms need shade-tolerant plants. Provide a stable, waterproof base, and keep harmful plants away from children and pets. Huge statement plants look incredible in hallway, living room or dining room corners, or group several plants together for a similar effect. Place smaller plants on tables or use tall planters, or put a row of small plants on a mantelpiece, shelf or window ledge, or dot them among books and vases in a bookcase. Hang them from the ceiling, stage them in steps, or pop them on wall racks. Grouping in odd numbers looks best, and a range of widths and heights looks relaxed. Opt for varying shades of leaf colours or try a more regulated appearance, and contrast leaf shapes for natural variety.


JANUARY 2021 | 31


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