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

Welcome AUGUST 2020 / ISSUE 107

VISIT www.thevillagebreeze.co.uk

Contents 3 4 6 8 8 10 11 12 14 20 22 24 25 26 28 29 30

HELLO and Welcome from your Editor ANIMAL TALES Greyfriars Bobby TIME OF YEAR A holiday on four wheels GARDENING Watery Delight LOCALLY Measham Gardening Group MURRAY CLARKE A Dark and Stormy Night PUZZLE EXTRA Time Trial MOTORING Van to Camper Conversions TECHNOLOGY Tech for ‘the new normal’ TRAVEL Kerala Backwater HEALTH Water Worries COOK Paella BAKE Sweet Spiced Yogurt with Pomegranate LIFE BEGINS 50 : Milestone or Millstone? COFFEE BREAK Take 5! KIDS PUZZLE Henry Hedgehog’s Page BOOKS Sun, sea and a Satisying read

DISTRIBUTED TO... Appleby Magna, Donisthorpe, Linton, Measham, Moira, Oakthorpe, Overseal and Snarestone. DEADLINE FOR NEXT ISSUE... 5th August, 2020 DISTRIBUTION... Over 8,000 copies monthly.

Our cover image... Cover image photograph ‘UK Staycation’ courtesy of Sébastien Goldberg.


ello again and welcome…

No one was expecting a season of cancelled holidays and social distancing. But that doesn’t mean you have to do nothing during the holiday season. Instead restore a little fun and happiness this summer and hopefully banish the boredom. We know it’s not yet possible to attend movie nights in the park but you can easily host a movie night in your own front room with family and friends thanks to Netflix. Why not have a pajama party and enjoy a movie night together. Plan a creative carpet picnic. You don’t have to spend lots of money buying food or special ‘picnic’ treats — just grab some snacks from the kitchen and an old blanket and go squat on the floor in your lounge. Get everyone to bring their cameras or use their phones and set up a photo challenge for the evening and then give the winner a prize! To round the evening off how about a treasure hunt? I arrange a treasure hunt every Christmas, it’s great fun. Just hide half a dozen little gifts around the house and its finders keepers! Wherever you are and whatever you are doing Stay safe. And the thought I will leave you with this month:“School is out and summer is in Let the drama stop and the fun begin” Until next time…

Sheila AUGUST 2020

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N Edinburgh’s Candlemaker Row, there stands a drinking fountain topped by a statue of a small dog. The inscription underneath reads: "A tribute to the affectionate fidelity of Greyfriars Bobby. In 1858, this faithful dog followed the remains of his master to Greyfriars Churchyard and lingered near the spot until his death in 1872.”

How the legend began Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye terrier who reputedly spent fourteen years guarding the grave of his owner. Bobby’s master was John Gray, a night watchman employed by Edinburgh City Police. Legend has it that Gray adopted Bobby the Skye terrier to keep him company on the long, dark nights he spent patrolling the city. However, after several years walking the chilly streets of Edinburgh by night, the nightwatchman’s health began to suffer and he died of tuberculosis on the 15th February 1858. It wasn’t long before local people passing through Greyfriars Churchyard noticed that John Gray’s dog appeared to have taken up residence beside his master’s grave, refusing to leave even in the worst of weather. The graveyard keeper tried to shoo Bobby away on a number of occasions, but the dog would always return. In the end the keeper gave up and created a small shelter, with a bed made of sacking, next to the grave. Friends and supporters In 1867 a new by-law was passed, requiring all dogs in the city to be licenced. As Bobby had no master to buy his licence Sir William Chambers, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, stepped in to pay for one. William Dow – a former friend of John Gray – would


Bobby occasionally treat Bobby to a meal at a local coffee house where the two used to meet. At other times Bobby’s meals were provided by a man called James Brown, who looked after the cemetery. Finally, after fourteen years waiting patiently by his master’s grave, Greyfriars Bobby fell ill from cancer of the jaw. He died in 1872 but tourists continued to visit the graveyard where Bobby had waited. A novel (‘Greyfriars Bobby’ by Eleanor Atkinson, was published in 1912) and two films, ‘Greyfriars Bobby’ (1961) and ‘The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby’ (2006), were released. Shaggy dog story? The story of Greyfriars Bobby is a wonderful tale of canine loyalty and dedication, but like all good stories it has probably been embellished during the telling and re-telling. Dr Jay Bondeson, a historian and senior lecturer at Cardiff University, believes that the story was largely fabricated by the graveyard keeper James Brown, who received money from tourists eager to donate towards Bobby’s food. Dr Bondeson also believes that the original dog died in 1867 and was replaced by another Skye terrier. Whatever the truth behind the legend may be, the story is typical of many accounts of animals that faithfully wait for their human owners, including a recent report of a loyal dog that waited in the lobby of China’s Taikang Hospital for over three months after his elderly owner died from Covid-19. The tale of Greyfriars Bobby has warmed the hearts of visitors to Edinburgh for over 150 years and will no doubt continue to do so for many years to come.

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A holiday on four


ENTING a camper van or motorhome for your summer break is a truly different experience to a holiday home stay. Clearly it’s much smaller, but the ‘Wendy house’ feel is a lot of fun and being able to visit a number of places without packing and unpacking every time is a joy.

Small. VW and small camper vans look cool and are easy to get around in. They are small inside though and don’t have toilet facilities. They work well in good weather and for a couple of nights, but much longer than that and you’ll be longing for a bit of social distancing! If that’s all your budget will stretch to and there are more than two of you, make sure you get an awning for extra storage and living space. Medium. A camper van is a van which has been converted to a living space. Being a van they have big doors at the side and back, meaning you can get more of a view and let the fresh air in. They are generally easy to drive and park and are ‘Tardis-like’ inside – you won’t believe how much can be squeezed in. Large. A motorhome is usually built on a van chassis, but the living space is purpose-built so it’s wider, taller and has more space for storage and facilities. On the downside, they only have a narrow single door in the living space so there’s more of a definition between inside and outside.



Caravan. Caravans are inexpensive because there’s no motor but of course you’ll need a tow bar on your car, which you might not be so keen to do if you are just trying the experience for the first time. Driving and manoeuvring them takes a bit of practice too. Where to stay. During the day you can stop in many open car parks near beaches and in forested areas. Wild camping – where you just park up and stay overnight – isn’t encouraged even if you have your own toilet facilities. Rather you should aim for one of these options: The Caravan and Motorhome Club has an extensive network of club sites, see www.caravanclub.co.uk. The smaller Camping and Caravanning Club offers a good selection of sites. See www.campingand caravanningclub.co.uk. Britstop (britstop.com) is a guide you have to buy (£31.60) and it lists stays at farm shops, country pubs, vineyards and many other interesting venues. However, many are likely to still be closed this summer. What to do in the evening? As it’s likely to be a while before public venues are fully open, entertainment on your new holiday theme will resonate: • ‘Vanlifer’ Jenelle Eliana has built up a huge following on YouTube. She lives full-time in her van with a pet snake! • Book: How to Live in a Van and Travel. • Into the Wild is a moving film based on a true story of a young man who attempted to live independently in the wilds of Alaska. • Back on YouTube, watching van reviews and people doing self-build conversions may inspire you to make motorhoming a fixture in your life.

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pond is a great long-term addition to a garden but plan it before you start digging!

Where to put a pond?

Keep clear of deciduous trees; their leaves clog up the pond and cause methane gas to be released as they rot, which can be lethal to fish and pond wildlife. Conversely, extremely sunny, hot spots will increase the likelihood of pond algae problems. Choose a level site to minimise the amount of soil that needs to be shifted to create it.

How to choose a liner There are three main types of pond liner: a pre-formed rigid liner (mid-price but shapes are limited); plastic available by the metre (cheap but may only last three or four years); and butyl (costly, but lasts around 30 years, and allows and any size and shape you require).

What shape? Create a simple shape to use less butyl liner and underlay, and make it easier to install. Always use underlay as this dramatically reduces the risk of leaks due to liner damage. Either buy it or use old carpet underlay for flexible liners, while plenty of sand works well for rigid liners.

What size? A larger pond is generally easier to maintain and should be at least 45cm (18in) deep to minimise algae and to maximise the range of plants you can grow. Adjust the pond levels at the edges before laying edging material. Edges must fit snugly in the hole to



reduce the chances of damage – pack dry sand or garden soil into any gaps. Large, rounded stones at the pond edge help animals to climb out and help disguise liner edges, plus reduce the amount of soil accidentally entering the pond. Have a gently sloping beach at one edge to allow hedgehogs, birds and other non-aquatic creatures to drink and bathe, and get out easily if they fall in. Build in some ‘shelves’ at the sides, wide enough to hold pots or pond baskets to allow for aquatics and marginals (bog-loving plants) needing shallower water. A pond should be filled with rain water, but mains water can be used if allowed to stand for a week or so before adding plants or fish.

What to plant? Buy healthy and hardy pond and marginal plants that are able to withstand winter temperatures. Check the depth of water they require and how big they’ll grow.

Make it safe Make sure that you explain the potential dangers of ponds to children, and consider waiting a year or so if they are too small to understand. Avoid steep, straight sides and have a graduated exit so it’s easy to get out of should someone or something fall in. Consider fitting a strong galvanised metal mesh over the entire surface. It must be strong enough to bear a child’s weight, with a small mesh size that small feet cannot go through. A small fence around the pond can be clothed with climbers or painted, and can be removed once children are older. Visit Pippa’s website (www.pippagreenwood.com) to book Pippa for a gardening talk at your gardening club or as an after-dinner speaker. AUGUST 2020 | 09



A Dark and

Stormy Night

‘You rang, sir?’ A giant silhouetted figure towered over me — framed in the doorway of the Gothic-style mansion. The remote setting reminded me of an old horror movie I’d once seen. But I’m getting ahead of myself . . . Edward Andrew’s my name, area sales manager for an engineering company based in the Midlands. It was late-January. Temperatures had plummeted to below freezing and much of the country was shrouded in thick fog. My secretary had booked me an early 9am. meeting — a two-hours’ drive from our office. After hearing the impending weather forecast, I decided to travel down the night before, staying in a local hostelry. Before long I ran into dense, swirling fog — a real pea souper! Suddenly, I heard the ominous sound of the car tyres crunching on gravel. I was lost! Bright lights were visible ahead, and I heard the haunting strains of classical music. On coming to a halt, I looked up at the imposing façade of a large period country house — complete with tall turrets, arches and hideous gargoyles. Cautiously, I tiptoed up the icy stone steps leading to the entrance door and rang the big brass bell. I’d ask for directions and soon be on my way again. The solid oak door creaked open and there stood a butler scowling down at me. A tall elegant lady appeared from the shadows, smiling; her hand extended towards me. ‘Lady Calverton,’ she said, introducing herself. ‘Elizabeth to my friends. Welcome to Calverton Hall.’ Wow! With her long auburn hair cascading onto her bare shoulders, and her full-length figure-hugging turquoise dress, Elizabeth looked absolutely stunning. The candlelight flickered in her piercing blue eyes. Surely the most beautiful woman I had ever seen! ‘You really must stay a while,’ she purred. ‘You must be frozen. Let me offer you something warming to drink.’ She turned to the butler. ‘Benson, two large brandies, please. We’ll join the others in the drawing room.’ As the intoxicating nut-brown nectar slipped effortlessly down my throat, all thoughts of my onward journey were forgotten. I looked around the stylish room. Oddly, everyone was dressed in period costume — the ladies in long flowing dresses, and the gentlemen

wearing suits and waistcoats. A cheerful log fire crackled in the marble fireplace, and music drifted over from a 78 record playing on an antique gramophone. ‘Forgive me, you must be ravenous,’ said my hostess, touching my arm. The exquisite smell of her intoxicating perfume wafted over me as I gazed in wonderment at her lovely face. ‘Let me get you something to eat,’ she offered. Ignoring my feeble protests, she clicked her fingers. ‘Benson, some food for my new friend . . . and a bottle of our superior Chateau Lafite.’ And what a banquet it turned out to be: delicious lobster bisque soup, tender venison, sherry trifle with dollops of rich cream, and a selection of continental cheeses and biscuits — all washed down with the finest red wine I have ever tasted. A meal fit for a king! In silence, Elizabeth watched me devour my food, waiting patiently for me to finish before whispering in my ear: ‘And now we must dance, my darling.’ Dance? After so much food and drink, I could hardly stand up! My head was spinning. Strangely, the guests were now nowhere to be seen. Even the butler had vanished. Gently taking my hand, Elizabeth led me into the centre of the room. As the soft tones of a Chopin waltz began to play, a sudden rush of cold air caused the candles to splutter and go out. Now only the ghostly glow from the dying embers of the log fire lit the room. We began to dance, dance, dance. As our bodies moved as one, I wished that night would never end. ‘Hey, you alright, mister?’ I opened my eyes and saw the face of a young child staring down at me. A man and a woman wearing modern pyjamas stood close by. My head was pounding. ‘Here, let me help you up,’ said the man. ‘We thought you were dead.’ ‘I’ve called for an ambulance . . . but with all this fog . . .’ said the woman. My car was still parked on the gravelled driveway, and beneath me the frozen stone steps rising to the front door of the manor house. ‘Yes,’ said the man, ‘you’ve got to be careful. These steps can be very slippery when they’re icy. Lucky you didn’t hurt yourself!’

Murray Clarke is one of our local contributors. Email: murrayclarke@btinternet.com 10 | THE VILLAGE BREEZE

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Conversions Van to Camper


self-build or commissioned camper van can offer more freedom and bespoke details than a factory unit. These are the best vans to base your design on. Camper vans are big business in the UK and it’s easy to understand their appeal. After all, once you’ve paid your initial investment, holidays become staggeringly cheap. Even staying on the most luxurious of campsites costs pennies compared with a night in a hotel room, while those equipped with on-board water tanks, bathroom facilities and leisure batteries can even handle a few nights of ‘wild’ camping or rallying. The UK is awash with independent firms who specialise in converting vans into campers. Some mainstream manufacturers have got in on act game, too – just look at Volkswagen’s California. However, it’s also possible to home-build your camper if you’ve got the time. Guides online are plentiful and easy to follow, and it can prove far cheaper than going for a third-party conversion. Plus, you’re able to specify the van to your liking. But before you start a convsersion, you need a van – these are our top five...

Fiat Ducato. The Ducato (shown below) is a great choice for a motorhome conversion, and around twothirds of motorhomes in Europe, whether coach-built or van conversion, are based on the Ducato. They are just the right size for most, offering enough headroom for an adult to stand without having too large a footprint. If you’re ordering directly from the factory, Fiat offers a specific motorhome base, with specialised tyres, a wider rear track, lower chassis and space to install water tanks.

Volkswagen Transporter (above). The VW Camper was iconic once the rear-engined ‘splitties’ became an image of California surfer culture, and though the modern T6 is a totally different beast it still has that vibe nailed. It’s possible to buy your Transporter van in cool two-tone colour schemes or with retro alloy wheels. VW also offers a petrol engine – a rarity in this class. Ford Transit Custom. The Ford Transit has plenty going for it, and is the best-driving panel van you’ll ever find. A range of efficient diesel engines provide motive power, and few vans have such a car-like driving environment – there’s even a premium stereo and smartphone connectivity.

Renault Trafic. When Renault updated the Trafic (shown above), it made sure that the interior dimensions were identical to the old model. This means that if you’re kitting out a brand-new Trafic – or its sister vans, the Fiat Talento, Nissan NV300 or Vauxhall Vivaro – you’ll be able to draw on eighteen years of camper fittings, diagrams and designs with which to fit your van out. Renault’s range of 1.6-litre diesel engines is superbly efficient, very smooth and decently powerful. Mercedes Sprinter. One of the safest vans on offer thanks to high-tech safety gear, this big brute comes in a variety of wheelbase and roof height variations so you can get the camper size you desire. It has the most premium cabin on the market, with controls and displays from Mercedes’ passenger car range. And there’s a threepointed star on the bonnet. What could be better?


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Tech for ‘the new normal’ L

OCKDOWNS may be largely lifted but we’re going back to a very different world at work and at school: many more of us are working from home at least some of the time, and school pupils and college 2 students are getting used to doing more online learning.

That can be a challenge, because when most of us bought the things we have in our homes we weren’t thinking about using them for work – so for example dining tables may be great for chatting with family or friends, but they’re not ideal for long periods on a laptop. If you or others in your household are going to be spending longer periods working, especially on computers, comfort isn’t just nice: it’s essential. Spending too much time with poor posture or awkward working spaces can be bad for your health, as it increases the risk of physical stresses and strains. In some cases that can lead to painful repetitive strain injuries.



The good news is that you don’t need to do much to make your working or studying environment safe. It’s all about right angles: when you sit, your back should be straight, your feet flat on the ground (or on a footrest) and your body at right angles, so your forearms and your thighs should be horizontal and your back, upper arms and calves vertical. If you can afford it, invest in a good quality chair with back support and a decently padded or sprung base – your back and bum will thank you for it in the long term – and if you get one with wheels, invest in a floor protector too. Wheels can do serious damage to carpets 5 and laminate flooring. 1. Acer Swift 3, £533, Amazon UK; 2. Loft Living Corner Office Desk, £100, Argos; 3. Anglepoise Type 75, £175, John Lewis; 4. JÄRVFJÄLLET chair, £150, IKEA; 5. TP-Link Archer C50 Router, £32.99, Amazon 14 | THE VILLAGE BREEZE

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ESTLING between the steep slopes of the Western Ghats and the legendary Arabian Sea in Southern India, Kerala meanders through canals and lagoons, sprinkling its lush scenery and unique culture in 'the land of coconut palms'. With over a thousand kilometres of waterways, including thirty-eight rivers and lakes that look almost like the sea, this enchanting corner of India holds everyone spellbound.

Spreading inland from Cochin, like a vast open fan, Vembanad is the largest lake, ninety-six kilometres long and up to fourteen wide, dotted with islands and cooled by a welcome breeze. Smaller than it was since land was reclaimed, it is listed nevertheless as a wetland of international importance, home to some twenty thousand waterfowls, native and migratory birds from the Himalaya and beyond, such as the Siberian cranes. On the eastern shore of the lake, the Kumarakom Sanctuary is a favourite haunt for any bird watcher. Vembanad and the main waterway have plenty of boats, the latter with the occasional traffic jam, coracles, canoes, fishing crafts, ferries sailing from bank to bank and traditional rice barges converted into luxurious houseboats for tourists in the know. But small inland channels have a charm all of their own, vanishing through the trees in a never-ending maze of wonders. Palm trees mingle their reflections along the banks, exotic birds add touches of colour, a golden oriole, a green bee-eater, an Indian pond heron, dull brown until it takes off to reveal its glowing coppery shades and

beautiful white wings. There are orchids and snowflaked lilies, water hyacinths spreading right across the water in places and rice fields here and there, shimmering emerald green under a bright blue sky. Alappuzha, the 'Venice of the East,' is a bustling hub for houseboats but local life goes on in sleepy villages draped in hibiscus, a Hindu goddess' favourite bloom attracting humming birds and myriad butterflies. Women lay out offerings in the early morning while pretty girls with ribbons in their hair wait for a boat to take them to school. Then it's time to scrub the laundry on the canal bank, pick courgettes from the garden or prepare the fish father just brought in. The tapping of hammers echoes along the lane, men build a boat, others weave palm fronds on a bamboo-framed parasol. The earth glows red, a temple bell chimes now and then, and in the rising heat the village bursts with colour, all red roofs and walls painted green, blue, purple, orange, sheltering under the coconut trees. Kerala is relaxed – try herbal tea or Ayurveda – but come festival time, a new vibrancy takes over the land, sweeping everyone off their feet. Parades, rituals, boat races, caparisoned elephants, there are year-round celebrations with lots of music and dance, most dramatic the traditional Kathakali when painted faces and voluminous costumes send shivers down your spine. But late into the night peace returns to 'God's Own Country', lulled by the lapping of water under a starlit sky.

Solange Hando...”Be a Travel Writer, Live your Dreams, Sell your Features.” 20 | THE VILLAGE BREEZE

AUGUST 2020 | 21




Water Worries

SK most adults in the UK how much water they should be drinking and you’d be told “eight glasses a day.” But it’s a myth, believed to be a misinterpretation of some advice given in the 1940s. How can it be true when we are all different sizes, some of us are active and some are sedentary, and the weather may be sweltering or freezing? Like sleepiness and hunger pangs, thirst is your body’s way of indicating it needs something and really not something to be afraid of. IT’S THAT EASY? Yes and no. As we age, the thirst mechanism deteriorates so we can’t rely on that as our only indicator. Furthermore, when you are engrossed in some sedentary activity – watching TV, surfing the net – you may not be conscious that you haven’t had anything to drink for a while. I NEED A CLUE. Dizziness or a headache may be a sign, but more reliable is the colour of your urine. If you realise it has been many hours since you last passed water and when you do go your pee is dark yellow, you are dehydrated.

If you don’t feel you are awake until you’ve had your first cuppa that’s not a bad thing. Despite being slightly diuretic, tea and coffee are both sources of fluid. Your water intake doesn’t have to come from ‘water’. That is, fruit and vegetables, soups, milk and soft drinks all have a high percentage of fluid in them. MY WATER TASTES LIKE A SWIMMING POOL. Tap water really is fine to drink, but in many hard water areas a slight aroma and taste of chlorine will be enough to put you off, and that in itself will reduce your intake.

During the rest of the day, if you can barely remember where you put your car keys, keeping track in your head is a strategy designed to fail. As a minimum, a written log by the fridge will help, but using one of the widely available hydration apps is a great discipline and makes it fun too.

Of course you can buy it in bottles. Better for the planet and the wallet are water filters and there’s a huge choice and plenty of articles online comparing the options. One innovative idea comes from a Scottish company called Phox (www.phoxwater.com). Their jug features a refillable cartridge that is designed to last the life of the jug, not just thirty days. The water filtration granules expire after forty-five days, when you’ll simply open the filter, clean it out and pour in the new refill pack.

JUST PLAIN WATER THEN? Again, another urban myth is that only pure water counts and that simply isn’t true.

CHEERS! TOP ME UP. Indeed, but a final word of warning. It’s just as important not to overdo it. Overhydration, known as hyponatremia, can be lethal.

I PREFER A ROUTINE. A good start is to always take a glass of water to bed with you. This is your early morning reminder to start hydrating.


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Enjoy the flavours of Spain with this classic rice dish. It makes a great one-pan supper served with crusty bread and a green salad.

YOU WILL NEED... • • • • • • • • • • • •

1 tbsp virgin olive oil 225g chorizo, diced 1 large onion, chopped 275g paella rice Few strands saffron 1.1l fish or chicken stock Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped 100g frozen peas 2 tsp paprika 250g cooked peeled prawns, thawed if frozen Few fresh mussels, scrubbed

HERE’S WHAT TO DO... 1 Heat the oil in a large deep frying pan over a medium heat. Add the chorizo to the pan and fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. 2 Fry the onion in the pan juices for 5 minutes then stir in the rice and saffron and cook while stirring for 1 minute. Pour in the stock, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. 3 Return the chorizo sausage to the pan and add the pepper, peas, paprika and prawns. Simmer gently for a further 10 minutes until the rice is nearly tender and all the liquid has been absorbed, stirring occasionally. Top with the mussels and cover and cook for a further 4 to 5 minutes until the mussels open (discard any that do not open). Adjust the seasoning to taste then serve from the pan.

TOP TIP... To make a vegetarian version omit the chorizo, prawns and mussels and replace with a selection of vegetables of your choice, such as celery, green beans, chopped tomatoes and courgette. Use vegetable stock and fry a couple of crushed garlic cloves with the onion to give extra flavour. 24 | THE VILLAGE BREEZE



Yogurt Sweet Spiced

with Pomegranate

Take a pot of authentic thick Greek yogurt and flavour it with saffron, cardamom and rose water, then top with nuts and pomegranate seeds for a refreshingly different summer dessert.

YOU WILL NEED... • • • • • • • • •

Few saffron strands 1 tsp rose water 500g tub Greek yogurt 25g icing sugar 2 cardamom pods, seeds removed and finely ground 25g flaked almonds, toasted and chopped 50g unsalted pistachios, finely chopped 100g pomegranate seeds 25g cashew nut halves

HERE’S WHAT TO DO... 1 Place the saffron strands in a small heatproof bowl and add 1 tbsp boiling water. Leave to soak for 10 minutes. Stir in the rose water. 2 Place the yogurt in a bowl and fold in the saffron and rose water liquid, icing sugar and ground cardamom seeds. Cover and chill in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours (or overnight). 3 Stir in the almonds then divide the yogurt between four small serving bowls. Top with the pistachios, pomegranate seeds and cashew nut halves and serve immediately.

TOP TIP... Use a pestle and mortar to finely grind the cardamom seeds or replace with ground mixed spice for a sweeter spiced flavour. AUGUST 2020

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50 : Milestone or Millstone?

E often hear fashion journalists declare that “50 is the new 30”. These days it certainly seems that the stereotypes of old age we grew up with are no longer valid. Improvements in healthcare, better fashions for older people and increased opportunities for leisure and enjoyment have combined to keep many of us looking and feeling more youthful than our parents did.

susceptible to disease. Turning 50 has a new resonance within the Covid-19 crisis, as it underlines the fact that old age is accompanied by increasing risk and vulnerability.

“40 is the old age of youth, 50 is the youth of old age” goes the old saying, but veteran fundraisers such as Captain Sir Thomas Moore (better known as ‘Captain Tom’) and Dabirul Choudury ably demonstrate that today’s 50-year-olds could be looking forward to half a century or more of life. Celebrities turning 50 When actor Matt Le Blanc became a quinquagenarian, he made no attempt to hide his feelings: "It sucks. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. You kind of go, wow, where does the time go? I feel like I just turned 40." Happily, film star Julianne Moore has managed to be a little more philosophical about reaching her half century milestone birthday: "The thing about 50 is that you've clearly reached a point where you have more of your life behind you than ahead of you, and that's a very different place to be in. You're thinking, 'I've done most of it.' I don't like that feeling. But it makes you evaluate your life and go, 'Am I doing what I want to do? Am I spending my time the way I want?'" Shakespeare’s take on old age From the age of 50 onwards we enter what Shakespeare, in his famous “Seven Ages of Man” speech, has described as the fifth and sixth ages of man. As Shakespeare lived at a time when bubonic plague was rife and the average life expectancy was just 35 years, living to a ripe old age wasn’t an option for many. These days we may enjoy higher standards of hygiene and healthcare, but the arrival of Covid-19 has been a reminder that as human beings we are all still


Remarkable recoveries Antibiotics have conquered bubonic plague, and in the same way coronavirus will almost certainly be defeated, either by a vaccine, an effective track-andtrace system or a combination of both. Meanwhile there have been some remarkable recoveries from Covid-19, including 106-year-old great-grandmother Connie Titchen from Birmingham, who successfully fought off coronavirus. Connie Titchen's granddaughter Alex Jones told Sky News that her grandmother had led a "really active life," with hobbies that included dancing, cycling and playing golf. After avoiding two world wars and the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918, Connie is a triumphant survivor. So whatever you may feel about turning 50, it seems the answer is not to fear what might happen, but to take care of ourselves and enjoy each day as it comes.


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Sun, sea and a

Satisfying read

THE BEACH Alex Garland The Beach tells the tale of backpacker Richard, who sets out to find a fabled Thai island. What he finds at first seems like a slice of paradise, but as he soon discovers, the community who call the island home will stop at nothing to protect their secret. This is not a light-hearted holiday read, but its characters, story line and plot turns will stay with you for a long time. LONELY PLANET'S WHERE TO GO WHEN Sarah Baxter and Paul Bloomingfield If you’re looking ahead to 2021, but can’t decide where to head to on holiday, this comprehensive guide to 360 destinations might help. It lists some of the best places to travel to for every month of the year. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC’S JOURNEYS OF A LIFETIME various writers From epic train journeys to boat trips, cycle tours, hiking trails and adrenaline-packed adventures, this book has them all. It’s packed with stunning images of farflung destinations, commentary from National Geographic’s travel writers, and maps, practical advice, insider tips and much more.


MICROADVENTURES: LOCAL DISCOVERIES, GREAT ESCAPES Alastair Humphreys If, like many of us, your finances are looking rather lean at the moment, why not plan a microadventure? As the writer explains, a microadventure is “close to home, cheap, simple, short and 100% guaranteed to refresh your life.” You’ll find plenty of inspiration in this book, from easy day outs to more challenging trips that will push you out of your comfort zone. THE SUMMER VILLA Melissa Hill Looking for a feel-good story about friendship, romance and following your dreams? You’ve found it. Kim, Colette and Annie reunite several years after they first met on holiday. They’re together to celebrate Kim’s achievement at transforming the crumbling Italian villa where they first met. But as the story unfolds, it’s clear that all of the women are hiding secrets that could change everything. AINSLEY’S MEDITERRANEAN COOKBOOK Ainsley Harriott Bring a taste of the Mediterr-anean to your own home with Ainsley Harriott’s latest cookery book. The companion to his recent ITV series, it includes a wide range of recipes from Spain, Sardinia, Morocco, Corsica and Jordan. You could soon be enjoying aromatic fish pilaf; courgette, lemon and pecorino spaghetti; garlic and chilli prawns; or Middle-Eastern spiced beef pitta pockets.

AUGUST 2020 | 31

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The Village Breeze - August 2020