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Stone & Eccleshall DECEMBER 2016 / JANUARY 2017

Celebrating the season

Life

Enjoy a feast of festive delights

MERRY CHRIST AND HA MAS NEW YE PPY AR


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Festive Menu

Available from 5th December until 24th December 2016 (Monday-Saturday 12pm-3.00pm & 6.00pm-9.00pm 2 Courses £11.95pp or 3 Courses £14.95pp

Christmas Day

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LIMITED SPACE AVAILABLE

Boxing Day Menu

Available 26th December between 12 noon & 3pm 3 Courses £17.50pp

NEW YEAR’S EVE FREE Buffet & Disco

Please call to reserve your place for you and your guests.

38 High Street, Stone, Staffs, ST15 8AS • Tel: 01785 747477 www.crownhotelstone.com

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EDITOR’S LETTER

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON ‘ITS CHRISTMAS’...

he craziness of Christmas is officially upon us, but with the festive fun in full flow, it is easy to forget about the real reason behind the holidays. For many, Christmas can be a difficult, lonely or sad time, so while piling that trolly high with gifts and festive food why not this year spare a thought for those less fortunate as well. A small act of kindness towards a lonely, elderly neighbour or by making a small donation to charity instead of buying that extra joke present you know uncle Bob doesn’t really need, you could really be making a difference. It is easy to get wrapped up in the madness of Christmas, quite literally, but there is plenty of community Christmas spirit being spread around the area as well. The Rotary Club of Eccleshall Mercia raised an amazing total of £2,922.60 for good causes during their Santa sleigh collections last year thanks to the generosity of the general public. It is a feat they hope to equal or even exceed this year again with your help. Shoppers are being encouraged to spend some of their hard earned cash supporting local shops and businesses too with free parking on offer in Stone on the two Saturdays running up to Christmas, so make sure you make the most of that little gift. And finally of course, everyone is always welcome to rejoice and participate in the local church services set to take place over the coming weeks, from nativities to Christingles, midnight mass to carol services, there really is something for everyone to enjoy within the community this Christmas. So please stay safe, keep calm, look after each other and above all have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

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Deborah Boden Contents Editor debbie@timesandecho.co.uk Sophie Cotton & Tracey Wardle Design & Production Jane Walters Advertising Manager Tel: 07817 128582 jane@timesandecho.co.uk Tom Brian Advertising Sales Tel: 07855 242693 tom@timesandecho.co.uk

Deborah

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December 2016/January 2017 5


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December/ January



Editor’s letter ..............................................5

Christmas in Stone .....................................8

CONTENTS

Eccleshall Young Farmers.........................19

Recipes For Life ........................................20

Last Orders ...............................................22 Stage Directions........................................24 Stone Revellers .........................................25

Green Awards ...........................................26 Age Concern Stone and District ...............27

Health and Wellbeing ...............................31

Charity Skydive .........................................34 Stone Food and Drink Festival.................36 Gardening .................................................38

Home Improvements ...............................40

Christmas in Eccleshall .............................12

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust......................45

Stone Hockey Club ....................................16

Investment Matters ..................................47

St Dominic’s Priory School .......................14 Stone Scooter Club ....................................17

Womens Institute......................................18

Legal Matters ............................................46 Quiz Corner...............................................48

Motoring ...................................................49

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December 2016/January 2017 7


CHRISTMAS IN STONE

ALL LIT UP FOR C GOLDEN BOY JOE FLICKS THE SWITCH

tormy weather didn’t prevent a spectacular seasonal switch-on in Stone, with homegrown Olympic gold-medal winner, Joe Clarke, lighting up the town in time for Christmas. A freak storm earlier in the day had smashed marquees against the shop fronts and a lastminute switch of entertainment could also have put a spanner in the works. However, the weather settled, the X-Factor stars gave their all in crowd-pleasing performances and organisers have hailed the event one of the best ever. X Factor contestants, Kirby Frost who has gone on to produce her own record, and Ben Clark who reached the live shows in 2015, wowed the crowds along with Jake Shakeshaft, part of the

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8 December 2016/January 2017

Eurovision 2016 duo, who returned once again with Stone’s Combined School Choir. Stone Town Council member, Cllr Jill Hood, said: “It was a huge success.We had a bigger crowd than we’ve ever had before. “I think it was all down to the entertainment in particular Joe Clarke, who is the most wonderful ambassador for Stone. “He didn’t turn away a single child for a photograph or autograph and he was there much longer than he was supposed to be. “The fairground rides were fantastic and it was a really smashing night - particularly for the children. “We had 10 schools turn up along with parents, so there were lots of young people there it was fabulous. We couldn’t have asked for it to be any better. “The atmosphere was electric - it was just brilliant.”


CHRISTMAS

CHRISTMAS IN STONE

FREE FESTIVE PARKING CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR SHOPPERS

hoppers will be able to park for free in Stone town centre on the two key Saturdays in the run-up to Christmas. Parking charges have been waived for Stafford Borough Council car parks from 1pm on Saturday 10th December and from the same time the following week on 17th December. The free parking period applies to all car parks in Stone and Stafford town centres except the Riverside and Waterfront car parks in Stafford. The free parking offer aims to encourage more people to shop in the town centre to boost trade for local businesses over the festive season. Stone has a great mix of shops, cafes and restaurants as well as its monthly craft and collectibles market in the High Street taking place on Saturday 17th December, a chance to snap up some unique Christmas gifts. Councillor Frances Beatty, Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration, said: “Whether people are shopping for gifts, festive food and drink or going for a seasonal lunch, they can do so and not have to pay to park on these two afternoons. Both town centres have so much to offer and I urge people in the Borough to shop local for Christmas this year.�

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CHRISTMAS IN STONE

THE CHRISTMAS STORY N Stone Advent event

ow in its seventh year, it is an exciting moment as Stone’s popular Advent Windows event gets underway. 24 local organisations have been busy creating 24 special window displays for the Community ‘Advent Calendar.’ Shop fronts and businesses along the High Street and around Stone town centre will be hosting creative displays on the theme of the Christmas Story, made by schools, nurseries and other community organisations who always put in a supreme effort. Each Advent Window will be revealed at 11am with the Town mayor opening the first one on the 1st December. There is then a window opened every day through until the 24th December with part of the Christmas story told and a Christmas Carol sang in which everyone is welcome to join in! A special event on Christmas Eve will see carol singing starting at the Lock Keepers Salon on Stafford Street at 9.30am, moving up the High Street and finishing with the final advent window opening at 11am at Christ Church, followed by refreshments.

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Date Day

Creator

Host Location

2

Dunoon

Dunoon

1

Thursday

3

Saturday

4 5

6 7

8 9

10

11

12

13

Friday

Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

Simply Petals

Stone Library

Crown & Anchor

Birchill & Watson Katharine House

Wednesday Lock-Keepers Salon

Mumbles Day Nursery

Birchill And Watson Manor Hillbillies

St. Dominic's Primary

Shear Genius Hair Salon Christ-Church Academy

Saturday

Maison Jacqueline

Meaford Day Nursery

Monday

Mayfairs

Oulton 1st School

Friday

Sunday

Tuesday

Zeta

Royal Exchange

Cats Protection League

Wednesday Pattens

16

Friday

17

The Hub Craft Group

Thursday

14 15

Oaktree Farm Project

Thursday

Saturday

John Burtons

Home & Colour

The Star

St. Michael's 1st School

St. Dominic's Priory

Christ Church 1st School

Walton Priory

Pirehill 1st School

Alleynes

Oulton Church

18

Sunday

Stone Pharmacy

Women's Institute

20

Tuesday

Flavours Of Flora

Giggles And Wiggles

19 21

22 23

24

Monday

Children's Society

Wednesday Outdoor Pursuits

Trinity Skills For Life Smarty's Day Nursery

Thursday

Oatcakes & Milkshakes

Oulton Abbey Playgroup

Saturday

Christ Church

Christ Church

Friday

Blue Room

Little Stars Day Nursery


December 2016/January 2017 11


SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN...

CHRISTMAS IN ECCLESHALL

FESTIVE SEASON GETS UNDERWAY

s usual Eccleshall town centre will be decorated with Christmas trees and lights throughout December. The trees and lights were once again kindly erected by Ecclian Society members on Sunday, 27th November with lots of preparations and checks needed beforehand on the lights, transformers and brackets. Many people came along to see the lights officially switched on at 5pm on Monday 28th November and enjoyed the evening

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festivities which started at 4pm by the lych gate of Holy Trinity Church when Santa’s sleigh made its first appearance, courtesy of the Rotary Club of Eccleshall Mercia. Santa then remained on his sleigh for a short while to hand out sweets and listen to the Christmas requests of the town’s young children. The sad part of the season will however come on Sunday 8th January, when the trees and lights will be removed. If anyone is able to give a little of their free time to helping the committee with any of the festivities it would be greatly appreciated. There is a range of jobs which everyone can participate. And with the countdown to Christmas officially underway what better way to get into the spirit of the season than joining in with the Carols round the Christmas Tree taking place on Monday 19th December. Everyone is welcome to meet at the cross roads at 7pm for the singing followed by delicious hot punch which will be served by members of the Ecclian Society in Holy Trinity Church afterwards. And of course for those that missed the big man, St Nic himself at the lights switch on, will have plenty more opportunities when he makes his annual visit of the area thanks to his trusty helpers from the Rotary Club of Eccleshall Mercia.


CHRISTMAS IN ECCLESHALL

Santa will be visiting the Eccleshall area through December on the following dates and times: •Monday 5th December - Swynnerton 6pm •Wednesday 7th December - Gnosall East 6pm •Friday 9th December - Gnosall West 6pm •Saturday 10th December - Gnosall Heath 5:30pm •Tuesday 13th December - Tittensor 6pm •Thursday 15th December - Woodseaves 6pm •Saturday 17th December - Yarnfield 5.30pm •Monday 19th December - Yarnfied 6pm •Wednesday 21st December - Eccleshall Stone Rd/Stafford Rd 6pm •Friday 23rd December - Eccleshall Newport Rd/High St 6pm

•Saturday 24th December - Eccleshall Stafford Rd/Newport Rd 4.30pm The 2015 collection raised a total of £2,922.60 for good causes with a huge thank you going out to all those who made such generous donations. While this is still a major fundraising event for the Rotary Club, providing money for local, national and international projects, the main objective is to let the local children see Santa. The club have added an extra night in Eccleshall this year to reduce the number of streets that had to be missed out in the past through lack of time, however for safety reasons the sleigh will not be stopping on the main roads. All the routes and timings are weather dependant and people do need to be aware that they could be cancelled or reschedule if conditions or volunteer numbers prevent the Rotary Club from running the collection safely. December 2016/January 2017 13


NO HORSING AROUND FOR CHAMPION RIDER OLIVIA ST DOMINIC’S PRIORY SCHOOL

10 YEAR TAKES ACCLAIMED HORSE OF THE YEAR TITLE

0 year old Olivia Bennett, a pupil at St. Dominic’s Priory School in Stone, has enjoyed an incredible year with her show pony Anndalyse Sugar Plum, aka ‘Minnie’. 2016 started for the pair with a Championship win in Hereford where they qualified for The Royal International Horse Show, Hickstead. Further wins followed in Cumbria and a very prestigious win and Reserve Champion at Royal Windsor. In June the qualifiers begin for Horse of the

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Year Show in October. Olivia and Minnie qualified six times in all with wins including Mid Herts County, Stoneleigh and British Show Pony Society Championship near Peterborough, culminating in the prize of all prizes – winning her class at Horse of the Year Show gaining the title of First Ridden Pony of the Year. Olivia said: “It is truly what dreams are made of. I must say a very big thank you to our production guys – Team Carter and Wetley Rocks – and to Katy Carter for her superb training and attention to detail.” Minnie has now moved on to another little girl in Sussex. Olivia and her family are looking forward to 2017 with two new 12.2hh show ponies.


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December 2016/January 2017 15


STONE HOCKEY CLUB

JOLLY HOCKEY STICKS WARM REUNION FOR TEAM-MATES

n annual reunion of former team-mates took on an extra special meaning this year, as they celebrated 30 years since competing at World Championship level. Stone Hockey Club’s ‘Golden Oldies’ are veteran players who have mostly retired from the game, but who have continued to meet up once a year since 2004. In a true testament to team spirit, the reunions have become a highlight of the calendar, with former players travelling across the UK, from Worcester, Oxford and even Jersey, to enjoy a meal and share memories with their old teammates. And this year, members of the 1986 squad who competed in the World Veterans Hockey Competition in London, celebrated the 30th anniversary of their moment of glory on the national stage. David Illidge has been a member of Stone Hockey Club for 60 years - first as a player and now as an umpire. David organises the yearly reunion held on the first Tuesday of October at Granville’s in Stone. He said: “We’re called the Golden Oldies

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and although we are not officially part of Stone Hockey Club, we are all former members. “There are usually more than 30 of us who meet up each year at Granville’s restaurant and it all came about from a conversation I had with another player about people we didn’t see so much of since we had stopped playing. “We decided to see if we could get everybody together - people had moved away because of work and other things - and it just went from there. “Obviously there are local people who attend, but we also have people who take time off work or travel a long way to come along to the reunion because they feel it’s right and necessary and they enjoy it. “It has become something people don’t want to miss - support for the function has been excellent. “It’s great to see people from miles away and we still talk about the club, what’s happening there now and the time’s we had when we played there. “I think it has become an important event because many of the Golden Oldies are no longer involved in the hockey club on a weekly basis, so it’s a good way for us to keep in touch. “It’s really nice to see groups of people talking to one another about the yester years when they played together.”


Stone Scooter Club celebrate in style

STONE SCOOTER CLUB

Members ‘wheely’ pleased with how club has grown

rom humble beginnings Stone Scooter Club (SSC) still seems to be heading in the right direction with members recently celebrating its third anniversary. The Club was formed back in October 2013 and started with just four members. This number however soon shot up and following a good amount of local interest, has been steadily growing from strength to strength over the past three years to a healthy membership base of 27 scooter enthusiasts coming from as far as a 20 mile radius of Stone. During the last three years the club, as well as its growing membership, is now well recognised with its members attending many local, regional and national scooter rallies as well as SCC’s own

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Sunday club ride outs. Stone’s Scooter Club meets at Langtry’s Pub in Stone every Wednesday evening at 8pm, where members discuss all kind of scooter related issues as well as planing the next rally and weekly ride outs. The majority of the membership base are of what the club describes in its own words as being of a more ‘mature’ age but who are young at heart and simply just love the scooter scene. Following the third year anniversary celebrations, members of the club wished to thank Jamie and Sue, who run Langtry’s, for their kind hospitality and continued support of the local scooter fraternity. If anyone is interested in the scooter scene, enjoys riding scooters or even likes the music from that era please come down to SSC’s club night where you will be more than welcome. People can also check out the facebook page at www.facebook.com/StoneScooterClub or contact Len on Tel. 07702 874241 if they would like to know more.

December 2016/January 2017 17


HERE COME THE GIRLS... WOMENS INSTITUTE

ASTON-BY-STONE WI

hristmas is coming! There’s such a lot to do, but not so much that we can’t pause and think about those traditions which have grown up around this festival. John White, in marvellous costume as a Victorian Butler, told us about many of the decorations, foodstuffs and other fascinating details which are associated with Christmas. Some of these we knew: after all, we bring holly, ivy and other evergreens into our houses on Christmas Eve. (Some of the supermarkets seem to work from a different calendar: decorations have been spotted in September by our members!) We learned about mince pies, which have become staple fare at this time of year: more of them later! We heard about the Yule log (ash is best), which burned throughout the 12 days of Christmas: the remains of the log should be kept to use when igniting next year’s log. How times have changed over the centuries! Some of the things which represent Christmas to us were fairly recent innovations: Christmas trees

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BARLASTON HERONS WI

t was certainly an informative evening listening to Barbara Andrews describe the life of her Grandma, Thirza Cove. Thirza was a Suffragette and her granddaughter shared the main events in her fascinating life. Thirza was born in 1881 and died in 1969 and never really discussed her time as a Suffragette with her family. It was only after her death that Barbara had an insight into Thirza’s life. The ladies were very lucky to have the opportunity to hold and study some Suffragette artefacts such as her badges,

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were introduced by......no, not Prince Albert, but by his wife’s grandmother, Queen Charlotte. One thing hasn’t changed, though: Christmas is a time for celebrating Christ’s birth, and goodwill and friendship. Why don’t you come and join Aston-by-Stone WI at their annual Carol Service at St. Saviour’s church on 21st December at 7.30. After the service there will be coffee and the promised mince pies. Our December meeting will be a Christmas lunch for members, but in January we are back to our normal time and venue. Why not start the New Year in the best possible way, ladies? Come and join us, you’ll be very welcome. We meet at Aston-by-Stone Village Hall at 7.30 pm on the second Wednesday of the month, 11th January is the first meeting in 2017. Contact us at contactastonwi@ntlworld.com or go to www.astonbystonewi.btck.co.uk, or ring 01785 615662.

belts and sashes. Barbara shared a range of facts about Thirza and the ladies were enthralled all evening loosing themselves in Thirza’s life. Thirza had left her close knit family (she was one of ten children), and was never united with them and it is believed to be because she joined the Suffragette movement. She had even been in prison three times! It was a thought provoking evening filled with a range of emotions. The evening finished with the usual business items, and of course, a cup of tea and a homemade cake. There are some fantastic events coming up including a trip to Emma Bridgewater and a wine/cheese evening shared with the Barlaston WI ladies that meet in the day. The next meeting will be 21st December and will be pudding tasting. New members are always welcome with the group meeting at Barlaston Methodist Hall on the third Wednesday of each month at 7.15pm.


ECCLESHALL YOUNG FARMERS

Staffordshire success

ack in November, Staffordshire County Federation of Young Farmers Clubs (YFC) held their County AGM in the Ingestre Suite at the County Showground in Stafford. The evening had a very positive atmosphere following an extremely successful year for the federation. Emma Stubbs, County Chairman, gave her Chairman’s report on the past year of activities, she said: “I have been a member of Staffordshire Young Farmers for 11 Years and I would not change one of them. “It really is true that you get out what you put in. I have had so many opportunities through YFC and have met so many inspiring people. Best of all I have made so many friends most of which I couldn’t have got through this year without.” It was reported during the meeting that Staffordshire YFC currently has 616 members between the age of 10 and 26. The members have benefited from taking part in some amazing charity work and playing an active part in their local communities from Eccleshall YFC’s annual ‘Speed Shear’ to charity auctions, examples of just some of the many ways in which the ten clubs in Staffordshire, all of whom are charities themselves, take time and plan events to raise funds for other charities across the country. In total this year, the clubs in Staffordshire have raised over £13,000 for worthwhile causes. The presentation of awards was made by Ed

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Ford, a member of Essex Young Farmers and NFYFC Vice Chairman, who was guest speaker for the evening. Picking up awards for Eccleshall’s Club was: Sarah-Louise Jolliffe, runner up for Most Outstanding Secretary. Harriet Wilson, runner up for Most Outstanding Club Leader. Eccleshall were runners up for Club Efficiency Shield. Eccleshall were also runners up of the David Palij Award for the Club that has done the most for charity/community work during the last 12 months Eccleshall were awarded overall Competitions Cup, presented to the club with the most points for the competitions that have been held for the last 12 months: Trophy for the Most Embarrassing Moment also went to Sarah-Louise Jolliffe, for her mishaps on the train to the National AGM in Blackpool, when her suitcase burst open leaving all her clothing and essentials strewn across Stafford station platform! Certificates were awarded to Harriet Wilson, Becky Fowell and Dom Bloxham who have travelled through the YFC Travel Programme. And finally Eccleshall YFC were named Junior Stockjudging Cup runners up, Intermediate Stockjudging Cup winners and overall Stockjudging Cup winners. December 2016/January 2017 19


Christmas COOKERY RECIPES FOR LIFE

he winter months are a great time of year to enjoy your food with nothing more satisfying than a warm hearty meal to comfort you when the winter chill starts to bite. So why not try your hand at a bit of festive baking. It needn’t be time-consuming either as once everything is weighed out, most things take only minutes to prepare and cook and keep really well too. The aroma of some glorious baking coming from the kitchen will really add some festive cheer to your home this Christmas, and what is more traditional than a batch of scrumptious mince pies. And of course we cannot do a Christmas cookery section without mentioning the iconic turkey. So for good measure we have included a lovely traditional recipe for some sage and onion stuffing which will go perfectly with your bird and all the trimmings on Christmas Day.

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MINCE PIES

Makes: 12 pies Preparation time: 30 minutes to 1 hour Cooking time: 10 to 30 minutes

Ingredients • 350g/12oz high quality mincemeat, preferably homemade • 200g/7oz plain flour, sifted • 40g/1½oz golden caster sugar • 75g/2¾oz ground almonds 125g/4½oz unsalted butter, diced 1 large free-range egg, beaten milk, to glaze

Method 1. Lightly butter a 12-hole pie tin. Tip the mincemeat into a bowl and stir so that the liquid is evenly distributed. 2. Place the flour, sugar, almonds and butter in a food processor and process briefly until resembling breadcrumbs, then slowly add the egg through the feeder tube. (Or rub the butter into the dry ingredients by hand and stir in the egg.) 3. Bring the mixture together with your hands, wrap in clingfilm and chill for an hour or so. Thinly roll out the pastry on a floured surface. Cut out 12 circles with a fluted pastry cutter, large enough to fill the base of the prepared tin. Press gently into each hole, then fill with the mincemeat. 4. Cut out another 12 slightly smaller discs and use to cover the mincemeat. Press the edges together to seal. Make a small slit in the top of each, then brush lightly with milk. Chill for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. 5. Bake the pies for 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and serve warm. 20 December 2016/January 2017


SAGE & ONION STUFFING

RECIPES FOR LIFE

Serves: 4-6 Preparation time: less than 30 minutes Cooking time: 10 to 30 minutes

Ingredients • 4 large onions • 10 sage-leaves • 125g/¼lb of breadcrumbs 40g/1½oz butter • salt and pepper to taste • 1 egg

Method 1. Peel the onions, put them into boiling water, let them simmer for five minutes or longer, and just before they are taken out, put in the sage-leaves for a minute or two to take off their rawness. 2. Chop both of these very finely, then add the bread, seasoning and butter, and work the whole lot together with the yolk of an egg. 3. At this stage the stuffing is now ready to be used. It should be highly seasoned with the ingredients very finely chopped. Tip: If you require a stronger tasting stuffing do not parboil the onions and just use them raw.

THE

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December 2016/January 2017 21


SCOTCH LINKS WITH AMERICA LAST ORDERS

ell our world did not collapse following Brexit indeed I see that representatives from the Scotch Whisky Association accompanied the prime minister on her recent visit to India. Scotch whisky sales make up only 1% of the Indian spirits market. There is currently a 150% import tariff on Scotch imported into India and therefore a revised trade agreement would go down well north of the border. So we may survive Brexit but then came the American elections. Whatever you make of Donald Trump no one can argue that he is a very colourful character. It also seems he has a whisky connection. Cast your mind back to 2012. A momentous year dominated by the Olympic games, strange then when the nomination for Scotsman of the year, sponsored by William Grant and in particular the Glenfiddich brand, selected one Michael Forbes. His claim to fame was that he refused to sell his 23 acre farm to his neighbour Donald Trump to allow the American billionaire to expand his Scottish golf course project. Now as we have seen in recent times Donald

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Trump is not a good looser and it appears he took exception to what appeared to him to be a ‘rigged election’. Given the exploits of Messrs. Hoy and Murray in that year on this occasion one might have a little sympathy with Mr. Trump’s point of view. His response to this was to ban all whisky produced by William Grant & Sons from his venues and resorts. In fact he did have his own single malt produced by Glendronach so patrons of Trump establishments did not go without. What is perhaps a little more surprising is that following the ban revenue from William Grant & Sons, Glenfiddich’s parent company, increased by 12.5 per cent! Is this a foretaste of Anglo-American relations? As they say we live in interesting times.

Whisky expert Dave Pickard of Old School Wines, Tittensor. T. 01782 372888


December 2016/January 2017 23


Stage Directions

by Richard Lane

Aladdin the “Wok ‘n’ Roll” Panto at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre tafford Gatehouse Theatre (SGT) are going all Oriental this festive season, as preparations get underway for the forthcoming rock – or should we say – “wok” ‘n’ roll pantomime, Aladdin. Following the hugely successful productions of Dick Whittington, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and last season’s box office smash hit, Jack and the Beanstalk, this year’s rock ‘n’ roll panto is set to be the biggest and boldest yet!

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It’s time for celebrations in old Shanghai as the Emperor hosts a party to celebrate the engagement of his daughter to the mysterious Abanazer. Meanwhile, our hero Aladdin meets the Princess on the street and falls for her instantly, but knows a penniless boy like him could never marry a princess. When Aladdin goes on an adventure with his best friend Nanas the Monkey, could the discovery of a magic lamp help turn his fortunes around? Get ready to be whisked

away on a magic carpet ride of festive fun, filled with a storming line up of classic rock ‘n’ roll hits from Aretha Franklin, The Monkees, James Brown, The Temptations, The Jackson Five, and many, many more! Aladdin opens on Thursday 8th December 2016 and runs until Sunday 8th January 2017. Tickets can be booked by calling the box office on 01785 619080 or by visiting www.staffordgatehousetheatre. co.uk


OH NO IT ISN’T, OH YES IT IS...

STONE REVELLERS

PANTO TIME IN STONE AS REVELLERS PRESENT JACK AND THE BEANSTALK

embers of Stone Revellers are once again currently treading the boards as they proudly present their wonderful family pantomime by Alan Frayn. Tickets are still available for the group’s annual Christmas Pantomime, which is back and quite literally bigger than ever! Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum! Jack better run, to St Michael’s Hall in Stone for this GIANT Panto! Stone Revellers re-visit this well known story of a poor family, a cow that’s sold for magic beans and an adventure bigger than Jack could have ever imagined. Song and dance numbers along with a script filled with jokes, crazy characters and audience participation ensure a festiveseason treat for the whole family. Oh yes it does...... In this modern day age computer games have even infiltrated ‘Panto-land’ and Jack’s brother Simple Simon has got the bug…Pantomon-Go means Simon is hunting all sorts of crazy creatures as well as helping his brother Jack rescue the princess, the chicken that lays golden eggs and the entire village of Old Windy Bottom from the ever hungry Giant. Don’t miss this wonderful family show currently being staged nightly until Saturday 3rd December at 7.30pm with the addition of a Saturday Matinee at 2.30pm. Taking place at St Michael’s Hall in Lichfield Street Stone, there will also be a fully licensed bar available. Tickets cost £10 (£9 concessions) and are available online or from the Home and Colour Centre on Stone High Street, Tel. 01785 817307. For any more information visit: Info@stonerevellers.org.uk, www.stonerevellers.org.uk, www.facebook.com/stonerevellers or follow them on Twitter @StoneRevellers.

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December 2016/January 2017 25


GOING GREEN... GREEN AWARDS

co-friendly community groups, businesses, schools and other organisations have picked up awards for their work to boost the environment and be more sustainable. Stafford Borough Council’s 2016 Green Awards ceremony took place at the Gatehouse Theatre on 1st November with a record number of entries - 39 - in the competition’s 20th year meant some tough decisions for the judges. The winners were decided in three main categories: Business, Youth and Education, and Public Sector. A number of special prizes were also handed out and many entrants were commended for their projects. The Business Green Award went to Stone Computers which has put a raft of environmental improvements in place over the last 12 months including reducing emissions from its vehicle fleet, big reductions in paper and packaging, and improvements to energy efficiency of products. A special award was also handed to Viv Bradford from Lymestone Brewery - winners of

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26 December 2016/January 2017

the Let’s Recycle prize, awarded by Mark Street from Stafford Borough Council’s Environmental and Health Services. The Green Awards are open to all groups operating in the Borough and play a key role in the Council’s agenda on issues surrounding carbon reduction and sustainable development. Since they began in 1996, around 700 initiatives and schemes have been submitted. Councillor Frank Finlay, Cabinet member for Environment and Health, said: “It is wonderful to see so many schemes making such an impact on helping the environment and making the Borough more sustainable. This is vitally important work and we are delighted to put it in the spotlight at the Green Awards each year. “These awards reward forward-thinking groups and businesses for their initiatives. Many of the projects are not just about being environmentally friendly, they also save money, something that every smart business or organisation will want to embrace.”


AGE CONCERN STONE AND DISTRICT

FESTIVAL’S KIND DONATION CHARITY BENEFITS FROM FESTIVITIES

ylvia Burdon, Treasurer of Age Concern Stone and District recently accepted a cheque for ÂŁ400 from Chairman of Stone Festival Committee Neil Gater. Stone and District Age Concern is a small local charity based in the Council Building on Station Road, and has been offering support to older

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residents in the area for over 20 years. They rely solely on grants and donations to provide services such as befriending, form-filling, lunch clubs and a hospital transport service, and receive no financial support from either the national body Age UK or the High Street charity shops. This donation will go a long way to helping the group maintain these services. If anyone would like to make a donation to the charity they can pop in to the office on weekdays between 9.30am and 12.30pm. December 2016/January 2017 27


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December 2016/January 2017 29


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HEALTH AND WELLBEING

12 ways to relax for 12 days of Christmas        Close Your Eyes Simply closing your eyes for 5- 10 minutes provides an instant break from Christmas Preparations. Focus on your breathing and allow your whole body to just slow down. Practice Mindfulness Find a natural object such as a flower, apple or a leaf and examine it as though you are seeing it for the first time. Notice it’s shape and form smell, everything about it. If your thoughts begin to wander bring then back to the object. Relaxation Run a warm bath and put 4 drops of Lavender Essential Oil and 4 drops of Chamomile Essential Oil in 25ml of milk and stir thoroughly into the water. Spend 20- 30 minutes in the bath allowing your cares and worries to float away. Go For a Walk Brisk walking stimulates the endorphins and dopamine in the brain helping you to feel calm and relaxed. Grab Some Coloured Pencils Adult colouring books are a fabulous way to have a quick chill out for 5-10 minutes. Have a Cuppa Put your feet up and have a cup of Chamomile tea. Breathe Take some calming deep breaths by relaxing your shoulders and breathing from your belly. Plan a Holiday Looking through brochures and imagining yourself on a warm sandy beach can be very relaxing.

Cuddle a Pet Stroking a dog or cat can be very soothing and calming for both of you. Music Listen to some relaxing music.

Stretch Your Body Lie on the floor and stretch your arms above your head and stretch your legs and point your toes. Have a Back, Neck and Shoulder Massage Relieve built up stress and tension.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

CHRISTMAS TREAT

Back, Neck & Shoulder Massage Only ÂŁ20 Diane Connor FdSc MFHT 07967 434232 Mount Street, Stone Christmas Gift Vouchers available Valid until 31st January 2017

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December 2016/January 2017 33


CHARITY SKYDIVE

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PHIL’S


S FANTASTIC FLIGHT CHARITY SKYDIVE

hil Cannon, a warehouse team member at the Wincanton Distribution Centre for Screwfix near Stafford, had harboured a desire for several years to try a parachute jump - though had not had the opportunity (or the courage) to carry it out, until recently. The warehouse Phil works at is however heavily involved in raising money for charitable causes giving him his big chance. The site is currently supporting the Staffordshire Therapeutic Independent Neurological Group (STING) based in Stone, and has held a wide range of activities throughout the year to raise cash for the worthy local cause. Through the Charity Group at the site, and with the help of STING, Phil organised a tandem parachute jump at the Tilstock Airfield in Whitchurch with Skyline, a company that puts on various types of events to raise money for charities. Consequently, a nervous (but very excited) Phil found himself inside a small plane climbing to two and a half miles above the ground with a few other like-minded tandem skydivers. After reaching the required altitude, Phil (fortunately strapped to his instructor) plunged out of the plane’s exit door and started his exhilarating 200mph free-fall! After his chute opened, Phil then experienced an amazingly peaceful canopy ride, slowly gliding back down to earth. The experience was incredible for Phil, who

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raised over £600 from the jump for STING. “I’d wanted to try a parachute jump for years, and the chance finally came when Wincanton started to support STING with its fundraising. I can’t explain quite how incredible it felt, and to know that it was also raising money for a deserving cause made the event even more rewarding. I couldn’t have done it without the fantastic support of my sponsors.” Peter Marenghi, Vice Chairman of STING, who also works at the Wincanton site, was very appreciative of Phil’s efforts. “I’m not a great fan of heights myself so I can understand what Phil went through to raise funds for us at STING. We are so grateful for Phil’s efforts to raise so much money, which will be vital to help us carry out our work within the local community.” STING works to support anybody in the area with a neurological condition, which includes multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and many other conditions. The group operates out of Unit 22b on the Whitebridge Estate in Stone, which is fully adapted for disabled and wheelchair access allowing members to attend regular activities and take part in group discussions, wellbeing sessions, and exercise classes, as well as being able to access neurological therapies. More details of the charity can be found on STING’s website, www.stingstaffordshire.org.uk or on their Facebook page. For further details of the work that STING does in the area, or how Wincanton supports them during the year, contact Peter Marenghi on 07736-522474 or email petermarenghi@hotmail.co.uk.

December 2016/January 2017 35


STONE FOOD AND DRINK FESTIVAL

RAIN FAILS TO DAMPEN S taffordshire’s biggest gastronomic gathering celebrated yet another record-breaking year as visitors flooded Westbridge Park on all three days – despite torrential rain on festival Saturday. More visitors than ever before attended the Stone Food and Drink Festival on Friday with traders reporting their best sales for what has traditionally been the quietest day of the event; with talks and demonstrations on the day drawing near capacity crowds. Saturday unfortunately proved the forecasters right, with the heavens opening and rain persistent throughout the event’s eight hours of business. Revellers, however, were undeterred and visitor levels were on a par with 2015’s record-breaking attendance. The Gourmet Marquee and Joule’s Beer Tent were packed all afternoon, whilst the Mercedes Benz of Stafford Talks and Tastings Tent and Platt’s Garage Group Demonstration Kitchen saw standing room only for audiences across their entire schedules. The Cookery Classroom also proved a popular draw with bookings for both the Indian cookery masterclasses and cupcake decorating sessions well booked over the entire weekend. Sunshine and blue skies greeted visitors on festival Sunday, which once again saw record numbers through the gate. The ‘big weekend’ was the culmination of a whole week's worth of foodie themed events taking place at local pubs,

36 December 2016/January 2017


STONE FOOD AND DRINK FESTIVAL

N SPIRITS AT 2016 EVENT restaurants and businesses in Stone – including the new Tapas Trail and Stone Pubwatch Real Ale Trail. Chairman Richard Stevens said: “We are delighted with what has, in many ways, been a challenging year for the Festival. We began seeking new sponsorship to fill the gap left when Taste of Staffordshire’s support came to an end last year and have been humbled by the response of local businesses. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Platt’s Garage Group, Mercedes Benz of Stafford, Joule’s Brewery, Brown’s Waste, Aston Marina, Dave Fox Cars, Tinsley Garner Estate Agents, The Hanley and Regent Travel for their support. “The weather forecast also raised some concern, but having sold the highest ever number of advance tickets online, the crowds were undeterred and we ended up welcoming recordbreaking numbers of visitors on all three days. We’d like to thank everyone who turned up to support us – especially those who braved the elements on Saturday – and also a huge vote of thanks must go out to the small army of volunteers who kept smiling through the rain and mud to give everyone a warm welcome. We’re already looking forward to doing it all again in 2017.” The 2017 Stone Food and Drink Festival will take place on Friday 6th, Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th October. For more details visit www.stonefooddrink.org.uk.

December 2016/January 2017 37


GARDENING

 

   by Martin Blow

ave you noticed how after a cold winter self-sown seedlings pop up in greater numbers than usual? We are used to sowing pots of seeds on our window sill or in a warm greenhouse in spring, but some seeds really do need a whole winter’s cold before they will germinate in spring. So now is a great time to sow these and it couldn’t be easier. Not all perennials work this way – some do need heat so do check first. We’ve selected out some of the easiest and most reliable types we grow this way. You don’t need any indoor space or expensive equipment just a suitable container, some seed compost and something to keep excess rain off and mother nature will do the rest. Janet is sower-in-chief in our garden and right now she is filling containers – we use plastic module trays – with a good quality seed compost. It’s important to gently tamp it down and water thoroughly. Leave it to drain and settle before sowing. Large seeds should be lightly covered with dry compost – Janet uses an old plastic sieve to ensure an even, thin layer. Small seed can be gently pressed onto the surface of the compost. The trays or pans must be put outside in the cold. Some people cover the surface with a fine alpine grit to stop moss growth and protect from rain. Janet covers hers with clear plastic tops remembering to secure them from blowing off in the wind. Now all that is needed is patience and some winter cold. In spring seed will start to germinate as the weather warms up. With some seeds, like those of Miss Wilmott’s Ghost (Eryngium giganteum) or Bugbane (Actaea racemosa) two winter’s might be needed before germination starts – don’t throw the pan or modules even if nothing happens in the first spring. Once the seedlings have some proper leaves it’s time to pot them on. If you have used modules, then simply push the plug of soil out

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38 December 2016/January 2017

from below and pot up – we use 9cm pots. If you’ve sown in traditional pots or pans or a seed tray, then you will need to carefully prick out the seedlings. Fill a small pot with potting compost and make a hole in the compost deep enough to take the roots. Holding the seedling by the leaves (not the stem), use a thin stick or blunt knife to gently lift the seedling with its roots intact and then pop into a small hole. Gently firm the compost around the roots. Water the pots gently and put in a slightly shady place out of the wind or in greenhouse or coldframe until they are growing away. Don’t let them get baked in the sun! So which perennials can you grow this way? One of the easiest is Mallow (Malva). These germinate very easily in the winter and quickly make good flowering plants by early summer. Our favourites are “Zebrina� and “Mauritiana�. Some cranesbills (hardy geraniums) can be difficult to divide so seed sowing is a great method of propagation. The bloody cranebill (Geranium sanguineum) are easily raised from seed and “Striatum�, “Album� and “Vision Violet� will come completely true from seed. We also find that the meadow cranesbill (Geranium pratense) germinate well after winter cold but you will need to ensure that your seed is true if you want good plants of named types like “Mrs. Kendall Clark�. Angelica is a well-known herb and wildflower and there are some lovely, showier cousins you can grow from winter-sown seed. Seed must be fresh for success! Spanish Angelica (A. gigas) has large beetroot red flowers and “Vicar’s Mead� has bronze leaves and pink flowers. The Argentine verbena (V. bonariensis) is also easily grown this way and if the winter is an extra hard one you will need the seedlings to replace the mother plants in your garden as they will succumb to a prolonged, cold winter. Other species like hastata and stricta are also worth sowing now. Jerusalem sages, like Phlomis Russeliana have large seeds and the winter cold will break down the seed coat allowing them to push through in spring. These will take another year of growth before flowering. Peruvian Lilies (alstroemeria) are great cut


GARDENING

     flowers and you can grow a long-stemmed variety like “Ligtu� from seed. Again you may have to wait an extra year for your first cut flowers but its well worth it when you remember how much they cost from the florist. Penstemons aren’t usually grown from seed but the herbaceous variety “Husker Red� is an exception. We grow this for its beetroot red fresh leaves more than for the small white flowers. The plants can vary a bit: select those with the best colour for growing on. I’ve only just scratched the surface of winter seed sowing and I can see I’ve not mentioned

hellebores and spurge (Euphorbia) and many, many more but I hope I’ve given you some ideas. So why not get sowing and dream of all that summer colour! Martin and Janet Blow run Special Perennials, their website, www.specialperennials.com is full of colour photos and growing tips. They sell by mail order and at Plant Hunters’ Fairs throughout the season. See www.planthuntersfairs.co.uk, the couple are happy to bring orders to plant fairs for customers to collect.

December 2016/January 2017 39


KEEP WARM AND CARRY ON HOME IMPROVEMENTS

ith enough expense at Christmas as it is follow our top tips on keeping your energy bill costs down this Christmas and stay cosy simply by keeping your home warm and dry this winter. Start by having your boiler serviced – servicing your boiler will prevent it from breaking down when you need it most. An annual service

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will ensure that your boiler is safe and running at its most efficient, as well as detect any minor faults which could lead to serious problems. A gas boiler should only be serviced by a Gas Safe boiler specialist; if you have an oil boiler then you need to hire an OFTEC registered boiler expert. Keep on top of roof repairs - winter wind, rain, snow and freezing temperatures can take their toll on your roof. If there’s something wrong with your roof, your home can become cold, damp, expensive to heat and even structurally unsound. So make sure that you regularly inspect your roof and repair any leaks, replace broken tiles and check that fascias and soffits are in good condition. It’s also essential to make sure your guttering is well maintained and free-flowing, so have it regularly cleaned. Stop your pipes from freezing – when the weather turns sub-zero, water pipes can freeze and burst, causing substantial damage to your home. You can stop this from happening by: Insulating your home and your pipes, fixing

40 December 2016/January 2017


Transform your kitchen this winter in just a few days


HOME IMPROVEMENTS

leaky taps, disconnecting your hose and keeping your heating on low during cold weather. A plumber can insulate your pipes and deal with cracked or burst pipes. Double glaze your windows - if you have single glazed windows, much of the money you spend on heating your home is quite literally going straight out of the window. Double glazing your windows will keep your home warm and could save you up to £135 a year on your heating bills and cut your carbon emissions by 720kg annually. Added benefits of double glazing include increased security and sound proofing as well as reduced condensation and a possible boost to the value of your home. Get insulated – in cold weather your home loses more heat than ever, especially if it’s poorly insulated. Check that your walls are externally insulated or fitted with cavity wall insulation and that you have at least 270mm of insulation in your loft. You may even be eligible for a government grant towards the cost of insulating your home; check with your local council for details. Damp proof your home – during the winter months damp can really creep into your home. To prevent this from happening,

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HOME IMPROVEMENTS

ensure you have a damp proofing course installed; check that gutters and downward pipes are clear and that your roof is in good repair. Protect against condensation by ensuring humidity levels stay at 65-70%. A damp proofing expert can carry out a survey on your home to diagnose and treat damp. Heat your home with a wood stove – installing a wood stove or boiler could be an ecofriendly option for your home, especially if you don’t have access to a gas mains. A wood burner could save you as much as £390 a year on heating costs if you are replacing coal or electric heating and it can reduce your carbon emissions by up to 9.5 tonnes a year. If you source wood locally and replant the trees you burn, a wood boiler can be a completely carbon neutral heating solution. Plug up your draughts – draught proofing is probably the simplest winter home improvement you can make. Plugging up draughts around your doors, windows and letterbox will save money and energy as well as keeping your home cosy. A draught proofing specialist will use either draught excluders like sealants or strips made of rubber or plastic to keep your home draught free.

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Charity lauches 2018 calendar competition

STAFFORDSHIRE WILDLIFE TRUST

hotographers are being invited to submit entries celebrating Staffordshire’s varied wildlife and landscapes for a 2018 charity calendar. Staffordshire Wildlife Trust has launched a competition to find 12 stunning images of the wildlife and landscapes from across the county for its 2018 calendar which will go on sale next year. The competition follows on the success of the 2017 calendar, which is now on sale, which saw dozens of high quality entries being submitted. The Trust is urging people to pick out any photographs they have already taken, check for wildlife in their gardens or head out into the countryside across the county and start snapping. Images which capture all the seasons are required for the calendar. From bees to birds and gardens to nature reserves and living landscapes, the Trust is looking for the special species and places which

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people can find across the county. The 12 best entries will feature in the 2018 calendar and winners will all receive one copy each. Jon Owen, Assistant Communications Officer for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We know there are many excellent photographers who love taking pictures of wildlife and landscapes across Staffordshire. “We are lucky that our wildlife and landscapes are so varied, from the rocky ridges of the Roaches near Leek to ancient lowland heath buzzing with rare wildlife, like Highgate Common in Wombourne. “We are especially keen to see any images which epitomise Staffordshire.” To purchase the 2017 calendar visit our online shop at www.staffs-wildlife.org.uk/shop. Closing date for entries is Friday 28th April 2017. To enter the competition and to see terms and conditions, visit www.staffswildlife.org.uk/photographycomp

December 2016/January 2017 45


Practical preparation for divorce LEGAL MATTERS

or some, the more organised amongst us, practical preparation for divorce will be an easy task. Organised folders full of clearly labelled documents and all the information and paperwork required for divorce proceeding is easily accessible. For others, perhaps the majority, bank statements will be stuffed in drawers, wage slips left at the office and the marriage certificate somewhere in the box with the wedding photos.

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What do we mean by ‘practical preparation’? Divorce, and particularly financial negotiations during divorce, requires a lot of paperwork and we advise clients to organise this as soon as possible. The amount of information required can be overwhelming and sometimes, when the family home has been vacated, difficult to obtain. Not having the necessary documents prepared can cause delays, cost money and cause unnecessary stress. To negotiate a financial settlement the law requires that both parties provide full and detailed financial disclosure. In practice, what that means is that each party has to provide evidence of income, outgoings, debts, savings, pensions, business interests and the list goes on. Being prepared for this process creates many benefits. If, from the outset, you can provide your family law solicitor with accurate details of your financial circumstances, he or she can provide a more accurate view of the possible final outcome. Providing the full picture to your solicitor can reduce your legal bill by eliminating the need for your solicitor to review your matter, request missing information and then review again. Having a clear financial overview reduces risk. Once you start legal proceedings you are under a legal obligation to provide information. Delays and omitting information, either deliberately or accidently, only prolongs the procedure and can cause animosity between the divorcing couple, which can often unnecessarily, increase the legal bill for both. Our clients also tell us that this practical preparation brings emotional benefits. It helps them review their situation, think about the future and make positive plans, all part of the healing process when a marriage ends. 46 December 2016/January 2017

Reduce risk and stress At Grindeys, we strongly recommend all our clients to be as prepared as possible to reduce the risk, cost and stress often associated with a time of uncertainty and emotional trauma. The Practical Preparation Checklist To help, we provide our clients with a checklist of documents to prepare before divorce proceedings begin. If you feel the document could benefit you, you can request a copy by visiting www.family-law-anddivorce.co.uk/prep Daniel Rushton, Head of Family Law at Grindeys Solicitors

T: 01782 840 552 E:family@grindeys.com


GIVE YOUR INVESTMENTS A NEW YEAR REVIEW INVESTMENT MATTERS

ith the dawn of the New Year approaching, it is usually a time for quiet reflection – not least to ensure your finances are in good shape after the demands made on them by the festive season. Nobody begrudges spending money on family and friends over the festive period, but it is important also to consider one’s own long-term future; so thinking about how your investments are currently structured is a good idea. The first consideration is, of course, whether you are saving enough overall to ensure a secure future. But this cannot be achieved in isolation from a review of your personal lifetime goals, as how will you know what is ‘enough’? So this needs to be put into the context of an overall plan.

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Overview The first issue to consider is whether you have adequate money to provide for short-term needs – including the unexpected. Ideally this should be placed so it is easily accessible without penalty and no ‘hidden’ charges. Looking towards the longer term, to cover such things as special holidays, wedding costs, school fees and, of course, retirement, involves additional considerations, such as the need to balance potential risk with possible reward and the tax efficiency of different classes of investments. Balance The importance of adopting a diverse asset allocation strategy within investments cannot be overemphasised because this gives you the opportunity to ‘spread your risk’. Of course, you miss out on the upside potential of having picked

the best performing asset class, but it also protects you from only having picked the worst! One of the most important things to remember with investments is that the variations directly resulting from the different performance of each asset class will automatically result in the balance of investments changing. For example, if Far East shares rise by 15% and UK shares fall by 10% over the year, then the proportion of the portfolio held in the Far East will also increase relative to the UK. Whilst you could argue this is good, there is always a chance that the performance will reverse in future and then holding a higher than intended proportion of Far Eastern shares could reduce the overall performance of the portfolio. This makes it important to consult your financial planner in order to review the balance of your investment portfolio and also to consider whether plans put in place in the past are still appropriate. It is important always to seek independent financial advice before making any decision regarding your finances. For further information, please contact us. Stuart D Bryant is a fee-based Certified Financial Planner, specialising in personal lifestyle planning and investment planning.

SDB Strategic Planners Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Tel: (01782) 712233

NOTHING CONTAINED IN THE ARTICLE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AS GIVING INDIVIDUAL FINANCIAL ADVICE. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS ARTICLE IS BASED ON OUR CURRENT UNDERSTANDING OF LEGISLATION, WHICH CAN BE SUBJECT TO CHANGE. THE VALUE OF INVESTMENTS CAN GO DOWN AS WELL AS UP; YOU MAY GET BACK LESS THAN YOU INVEST.

December 2016/January 2017 47


QUIZ CORNER

Let’s get quizzical COMPILED BY PAUL STEELE

General Knowledge Quiz 1. Who played the title character in the recent television series ‘Victoria’? 2. The British National Ice Skating Association is based in Torvill and Dean’s home town. Where? 3. What is the first name of the Sylvester Stallone character Rambo?

5. Which computerised character spends most of his time trying to avoid four ghosts called Inky, Pinky, Blinky and Clyde? 6. Which two European countries have both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines? 7. In the nursery rhyme what is Tuesday's child full of? 8. Who wrote ‘Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy’? 9. Alphabetically which animal always comes first? 10. Who founded the computer company Amstrad?

A ‘Christmas Link’ quiz for the festive season 1. According to the nursery rhyme who sat in a corner eating a Christmas pie? 2. In the television series ‘Red Dwarf’ what is the name of the computer? 3. Who announced she would be leaving the numbers behind on the Channel 4 show ‘Countdown’ in 2008? 4. If you got involved in the Christmas Census in North America what would you be counting? 5. Which nickname for Hollywood sounds Christmassy? 6. Who is the patron saint of thieves? 7. In which James Bond film does the character Dr Christmas Jones appear? 8. In which film did Jim Carrey first play Lloyd Christmas? 9. Who was the song ‘American Pie’ mostly written about? 10. Holly Golightly was the main character in which film? General Knowledge Answers: 1. Jenna Coleman (The 30 year-old will return with another series of Victoria in 2017); 2. Nottingham; 3. John; 4. Balamory (It was mostly filmed in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull); 5. Pac-Man (First released in 1980 and the Pac-Man character was based on a pizza with a slice missing); 6. Spain and France; 7. Grace; 8. Douglas Adams (Originally it was a radio comedy in BBC Radio 4 in 1978); 9. Aardvark (The Aardwolf is the second animal in the dictionary); 10. Alan Sugar (Founded in 1968 the name Amstrad stood for Alan Michael Sugar Trading). Christmas Link Answers: 1. Little Jack Horner; 2. Holly (Played in different series by Norman Lovett and Hattie Hayridge); 3. Carol Vorderman (She probably got her first name due to her being born on Christmas Eve in 1955); 4. Birds; 5. Tinseltown; 6. St Nicholas (He is also the patron saint of children, sailors, brewers and pharmacists to name but a few); 7. The World is Not Enough (Played by Denise Richards); 8. Dumb and Dumber (Jeff Daniels played the other main character Harry Dunne); 9. Buddy Holly (Writer Don Mclean was 13 at the time of the crash that killed Buddy, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper); 10. Breakfast At Tiffany's.

48 December 2016/January 2017

Quizzes compiled by Paul Steele (Question writer and Quizmaster) from Cheddleton email: pnsteele@aol.com

4. Edie McCreadie, Miss Hoolie, PC Plum and Archie who lives in a castle are characters in which Cbeebies TV series?


MOTORING

RENAULT ZOE TAKES GREEN CAR TITLE

he all-electric Renault Zoe has taken top honours at the 2016 Green Apple Awards, presented at the House of Commons and singling out cars that are both good to drive and economical in the real world. The awards, presented on Friday (11th November) are organised by the Midlands-based The Green Organisation and judged by members of the Midland Group of Motoring Writers. After clinching the category for pure electric

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and hybrid cars, the Zoe went to take the Green Apple champion title, beating a diesel version of the Audi A6 in second place overall. One of the judges said of the Zoe: "It is by some measure the most convincing all-electric vehicle I've driven. So good, in fact, that it only takes a few miles to forget what's powering you along so convincingly." Midland Group chairman Ian Donaldson presented a Renault representative with the top place award at the House of Commons. SUPERMINIS The Mazda2 1.5 litre diesel had to be content with second spot this time, after a category win last year. The supermini champion for 2016 is the car that was runner-up in 2015 - in the shape of the petrol powered Suzuki Celerio Dualjet. One judge said: "It is a remarkably driveable and economical city car." SMALLER FAMILY CARS Second place went to the Honda Civic 1.6 iDETC, chosen, as one of the judges said, "because it is stylish, good to drive and

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MOTORING

refined, and one of the most genuinely economical cars in its class." The winner is another British-built hatch - the new Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi 110 Ecoflex. A Midland Group judge commented: "The new Astra shows there's lots of life left in diesels."

quietly into second spot. The winner this year, though, is the Renault Zoe, the French car maker's entry into affordable purely electric family transport.

LARGER FAMILY CARS Here, the fight was, perhaps not surprisingly, between a couple of cars from Germany. In the end second place went to the BMW 320d ED with the winner emerging as the Volkswagen Passat 1.6 TDI Bluemotion.

EXECUTIVE CARS In second place is the impressive Jaguar XF EPerformance but it has to give way to this year's winner, for the second year in a row - the Audi A6 2.0 TDI Ultra. One of our judges said: "The Audi has a build quality that is second to none. Love the handsome looks, the logical switchgear – the fuel tank that keeps on giving – and the effortless mile munching, planted drive."

SMALLER SUVs and 4x4s A whole year has not been able to shake the judges from their 2015 decisions. That means in second spot we have the Nissan Qashqai 1.5dCi 110 2WD while the winner - for the second consecutive year - is the Dacia Duster 1.5 dCi 110 4x2. A judge said of the Dacia: "It’s cheap, it’s cheerful, it’s rugged and does what it says on the tin without any fuss or needless frills. The running costs are great, as is the price to buy or lease." PURE ELECTRIC AND HYBRID CARS The Uber driver's favourite Toyota Prius drives

50 December 2016/January 2017

OVERALL GREEN APPLE CHAMPIONS for 2016 In second spot was the Audi A6. A judge said: "It offers performance, practicality prestige, frugality and a fit and finish that justifies the price-tag." But taking the top step this year is the Renault Zoe. A judge said: "The Zoe shows Renault's commitment to the future of electric power in an affordable package that looks good, drive well and does its bit to make the planet a little bit greener."


Stone Life Dec 2016  
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