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Vale Life

art w music w people w places w homes w gardens w theatre w food w fashion w Beauty w health w travel

Your free magazine for Aylesbury, Thame and the surrounding area

Take me home


Mar/Apr 2011


A Royal Wedding in the Vale? Bucks & Goats & Baby Lambs Tattoos and Trims in Aylesbury Eaten alive: it’s a Pisces Pedicure Matt Brown, Penny Harper, Ruby McLee... w Tea for a year w Boom Jennies tickets w organic oils gift sets w w Meal for Two at the Six Bells w Hendrix book w Gardeners’ World tickets w

For all your stone needs... Internal stone at our Thame gallery

External stone at Great Milton and Bracknell

to Oxford



Directions from The Gallery, Thame


For all your stone needs External stone Great Milton Views Farm Great Milton Oxon OX44 7NW TEL 01844 279274

to Great Milton

to Great Milton


to Thame

to Great Haseley to Little Milton


At the roundabout outside The Gallery, continue forward onto the Internal Cornmarket and then the High Street. stone Turn left onto Oxford Road. At the The Gallery, roundabout, take the first exit onto Thame Rycote Lane (A329) towards Wallingford. 43A Upper High Street Continue for approximately 5.5 miles, Thame passing over the M40 motorway and Oxon OX9 2DW past the turnoff for Great Milton. TEL 01844 279307 Before entering Little Milton, turn right where indicated by the Stoneworld sign. Continue for a short distance. Views Farm can be found clearly marked on the right hand side.

as individual as you are






Tel: 01296 468155 Fax: 01296 398722 Email: Showroom and Workshop: Cane End Lane, Bierton, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire HP22 5BH


01525 240711 email:


Workshop and Showroom Unit 1, Manor Business Centre, High Street South, Stewkley, Leighton Buzzard, Beds LU7 0HR

Telephone: 01844 208401 Mobile: 07732 329118 Email: Website:

Quality Plastering and Ceilings Perfect results every time

The professional design and build service for residential and commercial property

John Wiggins & Son Plastering Services

From fence panels and back door steps, to complete garden redesigns with paving, turfing, excavations, retaining walls and planting, driveways, patios, decking, water features, ponds...

Ceilings, coving, repairs, insurance work

Same day, or next day quotation Call: 01296 612074 Mobile: 07905 833190 Email: Website:

JOB VACANCY - We are currently recruiting

72 Worlds End Lane, Weston Turville, Aylesbury

Skilled landscape gardeners and experienced garden labourer sought. Call Rodney on: 07732 329118

Main stockists of leading name garden machinery. Also gardening equipment and sundries, compost and weed killers. Hardware, power tools, clothing and much more!


OPENING SOO Alarms/Baits Bivvies/Bobbins Carryalls/Clothing Landing Nets/Lines Reels/Rods Rod Holdalls

Head office: Leighton Buzzard 01525 372062 Other branches at Buckingham, Chesham, Daventry Full sales and service facilities


nglers for Anglers by A New Angling Cen

Serving customers since 1830

Thame Road HADDENHAM HP17 8BY Telephone 01844 292000 Open Monday to Friday 8.00am - 5.00pm and Saturday 8.00am to 1.00pm. Free customer parking.

Chiltern Fireplaces

10% off all standard fireplaces on production of this ad!

l Over 70 fireplaces and fires on display l Gas and solid fuel fires and stoves l Electric fires, stoves and suites l No Chimney? ...No problem!

Fan powered or balanced flue fires l Chiltern Fireplaces will install your fire if required, or supply only if preferred. l HETAS registered, GAS SAFE registered 47 Frogmore Street, Tring, Herts. HP23 5AU Tel: 01442 822595 Website: Email: Open: Tuesday-Saturday: 10am to 5pm

Great rates Amazing results To advertise in Vale Life Magazine Call Charlie on 07702 006218

Vale Life : March / April 2011

Spread the word across The Vale: see: for details

6 10 11 12

It’s all White Here


King of the Crop

Small Town Girl: Penny Harper


Hot Stuff

It’s a Spring Thing


Win Win Time

Give me the Works

30 Time for a Top Up

Royal couple’s day in the Vale

The Do’s and Don’ts wedding guide Out with the old, in with the new A barbers with a difference

13 Just Relax! 14 16

22 23

Efficient fires for modern folk Tickets to the Food Show and Gardeners’ World The Crazy World of Cartridges


Kipped for the Top

Jewel in the Town


Come Rain or Shine

Now Smile!


Tomayto Tomaaahto


One Hungry Man: Matt Brown

Hey Joe!


Seeds of Success

Petting Allowed!


1, 2, 3, Boom! Boom!


40 What’s On

Take your toes to doctor fish Moving on, moving in, moving up Panic not, it’s the no fear dentist.

20 Red, White, I Do 21

Growing time at the Garden Centre

Patriotic planting and a thing called love Win new ‘Hendrix in London’ book Chicks and goats and baby lambs Win a year’s worth of cuppas

Helping your kids to make the grade Rosemary’s babies

Ruby McLee: an American in Aylesbury Prune pudding and the dark side of cookbooks There’s gold in them there fields Comic trio sketch for charity Festivals, fairs and musical delights

Gone fishing...


t’s that time of year when journalists dust off hackneyed headings like ‘Spring has sprung’ and inspired by cautious clusters of crocus and snowdrop, drag out those irritating articles about how it would be good to spring clean your relationship and your home and while you’re at it, embrace a whole new life! It’s been a very grey February but here at Vale Life we’ve managed to shake off the Winter blues every now and then. We had a cracking night out at Aylesbury’s Greek


ongratulations to the following February edition competition winners! Hopefully your prizes will have arrived by now, let us know if not. Commiserations to those who weren’t so lucky - read on though for more competitions inside this edition, including the chance to win: a meal for two at The Six Bells, Thame, tickets to BBC Gardeners’ World Live and the BBC Summer Good Food Show, Organic oils gift sets, Boom Jennies tickets, Jimi Hendrix in London book and enough bellevue tea to last for a year!

Fancy a paddle?!

Taverna - lot’s of plate smashing, greek

Last issue’s prizewinners were: Meal for two at The Village Inn, Wendover: Tony Defriez, Cuddington. Harpers Health Club membership: Gavin Spencer, Aylesbury. Healthy Eating Guide: Yve Smith, Dorton; Venise Harrison, Aylesbury; Mary Murphy, Oxford. Ideal Home Show tickets: Lynda Dobbs, Chinnor; Jane Goddard, Long Crendon; N. Dovey, Haddenham; Janet Blackford, Thame; J. Downes, Cheddington. Valentine Photo Shoot: Sarah Wolsey, Oxford.

dancing, fabulous food and some close up magic from the brilliant Sylar (see him on line at And, in the interests of science, Amanda and I subjected our toes to a ‘Pisces Pedicure’ at the Belmore Centre, see picture. It was probably the most fun we’ve ever had for £10! Read all about it on Page 13! Thanks again for supporting the mag and all our local businesses. Enjoy the read. Best wishes


Travel Show tickets: David Lonsdale, Drayton Beauchamp; Kevin Nicosia, Granborough; Andrew Tovey, Aylesbury; Patricia Lambert, Bicester; Brenda Price, St Albans. Secret Guide book: Lauren McClue, Oxford; Rosemary Glasspool, Buckland; Mrs C. Lee; Aylesbury; Danielle Thomas, Amersham; Susan Warbey, Aylesbury. Weleda Bath Soak: Sue Walker, Aston Clinton; Jeanette Hyde, Princes Risborough; Sam Seddon, Thame; Sue Parker, Waterperry; Jacquie Campbell, Tring.

Front cover picture: Young Vale Life readers Sam and Grace from Thame are pictured at the Bucks Goat Centre and Children’s Farm, Stoke Mandeville with a new arrival. The baby lamb is only a week old, but quite a handful! Vale Life Magazine is designed and published by House of Mouse, 23 Glenham Road, Thame, Oxfordshire, OX9 3WD Telephone: 01844 261579 Mobile: 07702 006218 Website: Email: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of Vale Life. We cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies, omissions or late changes. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publishers. Printed in the UK by The Magazine Printing Company Vale Life : March / April 2011


Vale Life : March / April 2011

Westminster Abbey is very nice, but should our royal Berkshire couple have plumped for a more rural idyll - what would Kate and William have gained with a wedding made in the Vale... William and Kate in an official engagement photograph by Mario Testino


ate Middleton met Prince William in 2001 at St Andrews University in Scotland while studying art history. Unlike her royal fiance, 28-year-old Catherine Elizabeth was born into a relatively normal middle-class family from just up the road at Bucklebury, in Berkshire. Her parents, Michael and Carole, run a mail-order business selling toys and games for children’s parties from a converted barn close to their home. The eldest of three children, Kate was educated at Marlborough College in Wiltshire, where she was described as 6

Vale Life : March / April 2011


edding fever is starting to build! There are only weeks to go to the royal nuptials, a bank holiday has been declared and a slot on the guest list is the hottest ticket in town. The event of the year is taking place at Westminster Abbey on Friday, April 29th. Arrangements are well in hand, but are Kate and William actually missing a trick? A city wedding is all very well, but imagine how much more wonderful this prestigious event could have been if staged here, in the beautiful Vale of Aylesbury. Across these pages Vale Life has assembled some of the area’s very best wedding specialists to suggest what a wonderful occasion the big day might have been if only they’d looked slightly further afield!

William and Kate opt for a traditional, elegant wedding or a state of the art funky celebration and from the hill there’s a view of the Vale that’s fit for a Prince! (

The Place We’re in the Vale of course, where could be better - we’ve Rothschild mansions, 12th Century Abbeys and Tithe barns that would provide a stunning stage for proceedings. Of course for the ultimate in flexibility and the best view, a sumptuous marquee on top of Coombe Hill would be the answer. No ordinary marquee would do though, one of Florey’s elegant bespoke marquees, (see picture opposite page), luxuriously draped and decorated with seating for 2000 diners would fit the bill. The company has a wide range of fixtures and fittings that would suit whether

The Rings Wedding rings are possibly far more important than the venue, the dress or the fairytale horse and carriage, as hopefully our royal couple will be wearing them everyday for the rest of their lives! “They should be beautiful, meaningful and personal,” says Christopher Clarke of Hester Clarke Fine Jewellers. “Traditionally the royal family have their wedding bands made of Welsh gold dug from the Clogau St David’s mine in Snowdonia. “We would transform a plain band into something unique, with a hidden engraving. For while the exterior may be any colour and any metal and textured in many different ways, inside is where you hide the difference. “A secret message, initials entwined, names and the date... whatever William and Catherine chose no one else would ever know!” Hester Clarke, 10-14 Cambridge Street, Aylesbury. Tel: 01296 482963. Website:

level-headed, popular and talented. She excelled academically, being an A-grade pupil in all her subjects and is sporty too she was captain of the school hockey team and a good tennis player! She has a sister, Philippa, 25, a party planner and a brother, James, 21, who owns a baking company. While studying in Scotland the royal couple’s relationship flourished during weekends on the Queen’s Balmoral estate. Rumours of an engagement reached a peak around the time of Kate’s 25th birthday in January 2007 and the media took up residence outside her Chelsea home.

At the time, Kate was working as an accessories buyer for high street fashion chain Jigsaw, in Kew, a role she left in November 2007. She has since been working for her parents’ firm and is pictured on its website. The engagement was officially announced last November and Prince William Arthur Philip Louis has chosen his brother Harry to be his best man, while Kate Middleton’s sister Philippa will be her maid of honour. Among their four bridesmaids and two page boys will be two of Prince William’s godchildren.

Vale Life : March / April 2011

The Makeup Any bride wants to look her best on the big day and this means some serious preparation and plenty of pampering. At Essential Pampering in Thame, Jane Barson offers a range of make-up and beauty treatment options. “As with any bride Kate and I would first discuss her beauty needs and when to schedule treatments such as waxing, manicure, pedicure, facial or peels, which may be undertaken before her wedding day,” says Jane. “A make-up trial before the day ensures the perfect look and also allows the bride to wear our Jane Iredale Pure Mineral make-up for a while and be happy it is the look and the

colours she desires. “If I were doing Kate’s make-up I would keep the eyes warm and subtle and use eyeliner and mascara to enhance her look. “After the amazing pressed powder mineral foundation has done it’s work (it gives perfect coverage and is light and natural not heavy and clogging like some foundations), I would use a peach shade of blusher. “The lips would be completely covered in a soft lip pencil, before applying a soft lipstick shade as this helps the colour to last, even if she kisses a prince, or two!” Essential Pampering Makeup and Beauty Treatments, 4 Upper High Street, Thame OX9 3ER. Tel: 07814 633 841

The Hair We think the Royal wedding may be quite different to other Royal weddings – more informal, say Sam and Bev of Eclipse Hair Design, Thame. We can’t wait to see how Kate wears her hair; but guess it will largely be governed by the style of her dress. She is

naturally beautiful and very photogenic so will look stunning anyway. We had fun putting our models hair up and feel we have given her a regal air! We look forward to seeing Kate on her special day. Eclipse Hair Design, 56 North Street, Thame, OX9 3BH. Tel 01844 260062

The Photographer Putting the obviously important formal portraits aside, what the wedding photographer should be trying to capture is William and Kate’s lack of pretension and obvious love for each other,” says photographer Kate Hopewell-Smith. “As with any wedding I will ask for 15 minutes alone with them – so they can just be Kate and Wills, private moments that will remain so. The world will be waiting for a stunning portrait of Kate in ‘the dress’ but I would also be aiming to capture the relaxed and fun side of her, away from the formalities. It may be a key moment in the future of the monarchy but at the end of the day it’s a wedding like any other – and it would be my job to tell the story – the details, the people, the places and the emotions. Kate is a local lifestyle wedding and portrait photographer – her work is often described as artistic, stylish and timeless. Tel: 07725 233247 Email:

The Dress The dress must of course be stunning, a showpiece. Everyone will be waiting to see what Kate chooses. Being young, sporty and up for a party Kate will probably have a fun, modern feel to her outfit. The dress below is from Anna McDonald, one of Oxfordshire’s leading Bridal Shops which boasts a stunning collection of wedding dresses by internationally renowned designers including Justin Alexander, Sophia Tolli, Alfred Sung, Paloma Blanca and Marylise. Anna offers an appointment-only service with times not restricted to normal opening hours, so she would be ideal for a Royal bride attempting to avoid excessive media intrusion. Anna McDonald, The White House, 2 East Street, Thame, OX9 3JS. Tel: 01844 214190. Website:

Makeup by Jane at Essential Pampering

Hair by Sam and Bev at Eclipse, Thame Accessories supplied by Ruby Moon

Photograph by Kate Hopewell-Smith. Marquee: Florey’s Marquees. Dress: Anna McDonald. Makeup and hair: Cat Vale Life : March / April 2011 Fransham of Make Up for Brides. Accessories: Euphoria Couture. Flowers: Joanna Carter


Vale Life : March / April 2011

The First Dance “On your wedding day, it doesn’t matter if you feel like royalty or ARE royalty, that first dance can conjure a dread more nerve-wracking than the words ‘I do’. “Fear not Willy and fillie,” says dance instructor Patrina Law of MIJive. “We would get the royal marriage off to a memorable start by ensuring they didn’t trip up on the dance floor!” Patrina’s partner Seamus, says “I would teach them simple but effective moves to wow their guests! With a little practice and our tuition in modern jive, they could pull off a first dance that is easy and fun, but looks suitably impressive.” “We encourage couples to combine a regular class each week with private tuition. We work on moves that suit them, work with The Flowers “Traditionally royal brides have carried long trailing shower bouquets and even though the trend amongst current brides is for smaller hand tied bouquets, I think Kate Middleton will follow tradition and have a shower bouquet,” says Joanna of Joanna Carter Contemporary Flowers. “I think she will try to incorporate some elements of traditional bridal flowers and then add some more modern touches. This might include English roses or possibly early season peonies, orange blossom, lily of the valley, stephanotis, gardenia, or freesia and possibly herbs like rosemary. “I think she will try to use as many home grown flowers as possible and will try to be environmentally friendly in her choices. “I think the bouquet is likely to be all ivory but if Kate wanted to add an original touch, a small hint of colour like a very light pink might work. “As with any bride, I would be happy to advise Kate on what is in season, which flowers work particularly well together and how to make best use of her budget! Joanna Carter Flowers Tel: 01865 858638 Mobile: 07870503591 Email: Website:


Vale Life : March / April 2011

Tring Brewery’s excellent Side Pocket for a Toad beer would be a good bottled choice

a piece of music they’ve chosen and then send them away with a personalised DVD of their routine so they can practice in the comfort of their own home, or palace.” “Modern jive is upbeat and vibrant which should suit the sporty royal couple, although we’d need some insider information on what Kate was wearing before we put in any fancy footwork!” MIJive runs regular classes for all levels on Thursday evenings at Waddesdon Hall from 7.50pm. Seamus and Patrina provide private tuition for wedding couples and are also bookable for parties, providing music, lights and sound and a fun class to get your guests moving. Web: Tel: 01296 676166 Email: YouTube: search for ‘mijive’ The Refreshments This is going to be one thirsty crowd and although there are several English vineyards that can supply something suitably bubbly, quality ales are what the Brits are known for. “If we were asked to recommend beers from our range for the wedding,” says Ben Marston of Tring Brewery, “then to complement the spectacular gold-plated state coach, traditionally used for such royal occasions, we would suggest our very own Wooden Wonder. It’s the name given to our 4.1% pale amber, triple hopped monthly special (actually named after a WW2 aircraft, the DeHavilland Mosquito). Visit Tring Brewery and you will be expertly led through a process that ensures your wedding day beer, or cider, requirements are fulfilled. Customers are invited to try beers at the shop, where the staff can advise on appropriate styles, quantities, storage and serving. With at least eight different beers on at any one time there is sure to be enough variety to satisfy the wedding party and guests. With both bottled beers and draught cask ales available in a number of sizes all the way up to 72 pint firkins, we can cater for occasions of all sizes. Tring Brewery Company, Dunsley Farm, London Road, Tring, HP23 6HA Tel: 01442 890721

Phonebox pic - Photograph: Kate Hopewell-Smith, Dress: Anna McDonald, Flowers: Joanna Carter.

The Groovybooth “If you are planning a wedding party or other special event the Groovybooth offers hours of fun and comes with everything to make your party rock!” says James Anderson of Groovybooth. “We can set the Groovybooth to print two copies of each photo, so William and Kate’s guests can take one home, putting the second into the royal guest book along with their message. “We offer the booth in various designs, but the ideal one for the royal couple would of course be the Union Jack booth pictured here! We can take along a box of props - glasses, hats and masks to add that extra bit of fun! With unlimited prints included

The Union Jack Groovybooth in all Groovybooth rentals, guests can visit the booth time and time again! An exciting new feature in every Groovybooth is the wind machine for flowing, model-like hair. The royal guests will be blown away! Groovybooth, 11a Combe Road, Combe Down, Bath, BA2 5HY. Tel: 0800 612 0331 Website:

Les Liney

Vehicle Hire iPhone App now available to download free from The App Store

Car and van hire All sizes available including Luton tail lifts AA Cover Also available: Fully Insured 24 hour accident and Unlimited Mileage breakdown service Customer Parking

Tel: 01844 292783 Mobile: 07860 795236

Old Farm Workshops Haddenham Road Kingsey, HP17 8LS

43b Buckingham Street, Aylesbury, HP20 2NQ Tel: 01296 423233 / 0800 298 8514 Email: w Weddings w Corporate w Special Occasions w w Birthdays Parties w Sympathy w Gifts w w Soft Toys w Wines and Champagne w Innovative, contemporary and traditional designs Vale Life : March / April 2011


l Column: Penny Harper - A Wedding Survival Guide!

Vale Life : March / April 2011

Penny Harper


hen I heard that Prince William and Kate Middleton were inviting two thousand guests to their wedding my first reaction was to take a big old nap. I’ve never been much of a wedding person but I have been to a fair few and I thought, rather than a bowl they’ll never use again, my gift to Kate and Wills should be some pre-wedding advice. I like to call them the ‘I do’ Do’s and Don’ts. I might have to work on the title. Don’t tell your bridesmaid that you’ve found her a dress she can wear again. She can’t. The only place she can possibly get away with the blue satin two-piece is at a bridesmaids’ convention. Don’t think for one minute that three bridesmaids of varying shapes and sizes will all look/


feel great in the same hot pink number you’ve picked out for them. They will secretly pray for you to fall over while walking up the aisle. Don’t try to set your bridesmaids up with the groom’s weird and (curiously) unmarried friends. The same rule can also be applied to eligible ushers and slightly desperate single female friends. I can say this, because I have (in the past) been the slightly desperate single female friend. Don’t have the hen/stag nights 24 hours before the wedding. It’s an old-fashioned notion that will only end in tears for one, or both, of the previously happy couple and should be restricted to being a dramatic device for bad soap operas. Don’t take for granted the fact that out-of-town guests

staying for more than two days will delight in helping make any of the following: party favours, table decorations, food for the wedding, polite conversation with your relatives. Do pick your Best Man with care. A relative is good, because they will hold back when it comes to saying crude things about you; Your Grandma may also be their Grandma. Do make sure you have someone competent looking after the rings. The following are not advised; children, dogs, trained birds, brothers. Do make sure that you get round to saying hello to everyone. It may feel like a working wedding, but you need to show gratitude for the fact that you’re feeding the five-thousand in return for six platters, five toasters and assorted hideous ornaments.


Small Town


Do make sure the band knows what your first dance is going to be or you could end up with a ‘Careless Whisper’ fiasco on your hands. But most of all - Do remember to stop and look around you every once in a while. After all it’s your wedding, and you don’t want to miss it!

01844 351313

At Recollections in Chinnor Emma, right, is busy. Her rails are full with seasonal second hand and new garments - all in excellent condition at a fraction of the original price. Her brand new ballgowns and party dresses are ready for the prom season (to buy or hire) and she’s created a stunning line of unique handmade jewellery. Apparently she’s so busy she’s barely had time to try a thing on...

Spring is in!

Fabulous Spring wear bargains

Good quality high street brands, boutique and designer wear. Garments and accessories from size 6 to 22

The Prom is on! Dress hire available

A beautiful selection of ball gowns, cocktail wear, prom dresses, cruise wear, wedding outfits and much more, available to buy or hire.

Bag some bling!

Beautiful unique handmade jewellery from the finest beads, Swarovski crystals, semi-precious gemstones and freshwater pearls.

Open: Tue/Thur/Fri 10am-5pm and Sat 10am-4pm Plenty of parking to rear of shop 1A Lower Road, Chinnor, Oxon, OX39 4DT. Tel: 01844 351313. Website: 10

Vale Life : March / April 2011

Vale Life : March / April 2011


s that Spring in the air or just a spring in your step? These golden shards of sunshine certainly give one a lift and are very welcome after weeks of winter grey. Zing go the Springs of your heart to see tiny snowdrops blinking in the sunshine while daffodils and crocus splash their colour on gardens and roadsides. We’ll soon be celebrating mums and Easter - ‘What comes first, the chicken or the egg?’ - you may say, but this is no time for philosophy! Open your front door and embrace the brave new world, hello birds, hello trees... perhaps this is taking things too far. It’s a time of renewal, time for a tidy, a clearout, to embrace new things, out with the old, in with the new, a whole outfit or just a cardigan, a scarf, bag or dress, elegant jewellery, some scented candles, something for the home, perhaps some coloured eggs or an exotic moroccan lantern... Spring into action, skip in the sunshine to Haddenham’s White Hart Studio rejuvenate with a springling of seasonal shopping and then home - assemble family and friends - and Spring it on them!

Rolls of Buckram cloth

l White Hart Studio, 15 Churchway, Haddenham, HP17 8AB Telephone: 01844 292308 Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm Sundays: 11am-4pm

Vale Life : March / April 2011


Vale Life : March / April 2011

There can’t be many places you can have your hair cut, beard shaved, nose pierced and a tattoo to commemorate the event, but Aylesbury’s new barbers is a salon with a twist...


From left: Ryan, Andre and John with Leesa

John’s handiwork

edusa was a Gorgon, a character from Greek mythology with snakes for hair and a face so terrifying that one look would turn you to stone!. Fortunately Leesa Watson, whose Medusa barbershop, tattoo and piercing studio has recently opened in Aylesbury, is a far less frightening prospect! “Snakes are a popular image for tattoos,” says Leesa, “so it seemed apt to combine hair and snakes in our logo. “Skulls and Gothic imagery also feature in tattoos so we’ve added a little Gothic flavour here and there with heavy gilt-framed mirrors and black and silver theme.” The salon is actually bright and modern but Leesa’s touches add some drama while the Medusa emblem make an impressive mirrored mosaic feature. “We’re a traditional barber shop offering haircuts and cut-throat shaves,” says Leesa, “but with a modern twist in that we can do piercing and tattooing too.” Leesa, 26, bought her first barbershop in Tring at 21: “I’m very independent, says Leesa. “I definitely prefer running my own business and I hope to open a couple more Medusas in years to come. We’ll see how it goes here first though. I’ve wanted to be a hairdresser since I was four. My aunt was a hairdresser and she inspired me! It’s a lovely business to be in as you are making people feel good about themselves. They come in and

trust you with their looks, so it is important they leave happy.” Leesa grew up in Aylesbury and went to the Grange School: “I trained at Aylesbury college and then joined a local ladies salon. I did courses on hair extensions and trained as a colour technician and then went into barbering, which I prefer. “I worked in two Aylesbury salons and then set up ‘Barbers’ in Tring in 2007. I wanted to come back to Aylesbury though, it’s a bigger town and there is more potential here, so I sold up last December. It’s nice to be back home and most of my Tring customers come here now as it’s not that far away. “I heard about John the tattooist, through a friend and I’ve since had a couple of tattoos by him myself. He’s very good. We set up a tattoo studio at Barbers and it worked really well. John is known in the area for his tattooing, he’s originally from the Philippines and is brilliant at asian and oriental designs. He’s training Ryan who has been an apprentice for a couple of years and is tattooing in his own right now. “It’s lovely to hear the stories behind people’s tattoos. It’s a very personal thing and when they come in and want a particular design there’s often a good reason, which can be very touching. “We just cater for men’s hair here. I do some little girls if they just want a trim or a bob, but we don’t have a backwash here, so it’s just dry cuts. Our stylist Andre is from


Right: Amine from Aylesbury having girlfriend Bahia’s initials tattood on his finger

Vale Life : March / April 2011

Andre in action Philadelphia, he’s been over here three years and is an expert in Afro hair and fades, but he can do anything really, from funky cuts and patterns, to a clippered crop. “I do most of the piercing although John is fully trained too. It’s mostly eyebrows, ears, lips, nose, belly buttons, tongues, nipples, we’re not doing microdermals and surface piercings yet, but we may in the future if there’s the demand. “We’re open quite late 10am til 7.30pm Monday to Thursday and 10am to 8.30pm on a Friday. Saturdays is 9am to 7pm and we can open by appointment on a Sunday if a customer can’t make it any other time.” Prices for haircuts are very reasonable: Children up to 15 years are £6 while adults are £10 and you get £2 off on your first visit! There’s also free parking a short walk away at the Junction Retail Park. Good luck to Leesa and her team at Medusa. It’s great to see a new idea in action and her barbers with a twist provides a stylish centre for hair and body art. l Medusa Aylesbury: barbers, piercing and tattoos, 38 Cambridge Street, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. Tel: 01296 709270.

Vale Life : March / April 2011

In our February edition we featured Stoke Mandeville’s Belmore Centre which prides itself on leading the way with new and innovative treatments. The beauty therapy centre is the first in the area to offer Fish Pedicures and is making a bit of a splash!


or those with tickly feet - and there are plenty of us - the thought of having toes nibbled by 50 piscine beauticians is a worrying prospect! The miniature carp, or Garra Rufa fish are no more than four inches long and to them, it seems, sucking dead skin from your feet is not so much work as lunch! In the wild, they are cleaners, removing dead scales from larger river fish and to them a pair of human feet is much like two big fish in the tank. With the Vale Life ethos, ‘Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it’ in mind, the magazine’s beauty expert Amanda and I picked the fluff from our toes and prepared to bare all, well from the knees down anyway, for the sake of you, dear readers. At the Belmore Centre we were shown to the aquariums and after cleaning our feet sat

Amanda’s fish tuck in! on a bench behind two glass tanks. The fish certainly know what is expected of them and bubbled hungrily at the surface of the tank as soon as our feet appeared over the water. As you immerse they cluster around your feet like a mass of wriggling seaweed: it’s gently bumpy to start with, but pleasantly tickly after a while (mercifully, these doctor fish don’t have teeth, so utilise a gentle hoovering action). They congregate at the points where there is the most food and seem to pay particular attention to my heels and the hard skin under my big toe and around the balls of my feet. Looking down I seem to have acquired a pair of feathered ankle bracelets made of fish! To my left the lovely Amanda is holding her breath, trembling slightly and emitting strange squeaking sounds. She is smiling though. While some of the tiddlers are snacking on my hard skin areas others are nibbling between my toes which is slightly more ticklish, but pleasant enough. I am told there has been quite a lot of shrieking and giggling from more sensitive souls though. The fish are really very gentle and although at times the feet become completely covered after a while you just sit back and enjoy the sensation. It is really quite relaxing. The fish and tanks are tended with care and each of the aquariums is attached to a sterilis-

ing system, which changes and purifies the water at least five times an hour. Amazingly the feet I pull out of the water, after only 15 minutes, are lighter and softer than the ones I put in. They’re smoother and even feel slightly smaller when once again back in my socks and shoes. Apparently the fish saliva contains an enzyme called diathanol which improves the skin regeneration process. For generations these finned therapists have been employed to treat a variety of skin conditions and are known to eat only dead skin, leaving healthy skin alone. Fish therapy is popular in Asia, especially Thailand, Cambodia and Singapore. And in Japan, they go for whole-body, full-immersion fish spas! I don’t know about the fish, but for me, that might be biting off more than I could chew! l A 15 minute ‘Pisces Pedicure’ treatment

costs just £10. 15 minutes with the fish, followed by a pedicure from a Belmore therapist is £35. Book early though as these treatments are already proving very popular!

l The Belmore Centre, Lower Road, Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP21 9DR. Telephone: 01296 612361 Fax: 01296 612024 Email: Website : Vale Life : March / April 2011


Vale Life : March / April 2011

Sharp eyed shoppers will have noticed some changes to the sparkly end of Aylesbury shopping. Harrisons’ new location in the Hale Leys Centre is an ideal spot for showing off their fashionable range of stylish jewellery, sexy bags and trendy watches. But it doesn’t end there...


arrisons Jewellers have been manufacturing and repairing jewellery since 1969 when Paul Harrison founded the business with a workshop. For many years the firm worked purely within the trade, repairing and making jewellery. In 2000 the company made the move into retail and opened a first jewellery store in Woburn Sands. It has since taken on four more branches in Aylesbury, Buckingham, Dunstable and Welwyn. The company prides itself on its professionalism and is renowned for quality merchandise, customer service, expertise and integrity - qualities the founders consider essential for a jewellery service. Two of the directors, father and son Paul and Matthew Harrison and a member of the staff are fellows of the Institute of Professional Goldsmiths (IPG), quite an accomplishment as there are only around 100 such fellows in the world! Paul Harrison, a past IPG chairman, is currently on the controlling committee and is the company’s valuer. In Aylesbury Harrisons took over the Chiltern Jewellers store some seven years ago, but continued to trade under the Chiltern name. Last December they moved location to a spacious new shop (formerly occupied by Ernest Jones jewellers) in the heart of Hale Leys Shopping Centre, just off Market Square, and changed the name to Harrisons for consistency across 14

Vale Life : March / April 2011

their group. The new shop is an impressive corner store with huge windows in which to display their range of watches, bags and jewellery. “We focus on up-and-coming fashion brands,” says Harrisons’ retail business manager Paul Saw, right. “The company has exclusive rights to stock Pandora in the Aylesbury area and we’ve a wide range of their beads, charms and jewellery. “We also sell bags, watches and jewellery by leading fashion brands such as Storm, Fiorelli and Nina Ricci and the new Ice watch range, which perfectly complement

Paul Saw the traditional jewellery selection with which Harrisons has made its name. “We can also design and make bespoke pieces for customers as we have our own inhouse team of craftsmen and goldsmiths who can create anything from wedding bands, to rings, pendants and brooches, you name it! We do repairs - at the workshop we have the facilities and capability to deal with anything from resoldering and resetting of stones to fixing clasps and broken links etc. and you can of course pop into the shop for watch straps and batteries which we fit while you wait.” Matthew Harrison deals with the trade side - the business still handles repairs for around 120 other jewellery companies - he also does valuations, while Paul Saw runs the retail side. “I came from a fashion and textiles background,” says Paul, who is a local Aylesbury lad and went to Mandeville School, as does his son. “I was a national sales manager for Lacoste and Calvin Klein Home and various other companies, then I went into the jewellery side with Thomas Sabo and to Harrisons, where a lot has happened in a short time. “We opened Aylesbury last year and Dunstable opened just before Christmas, it’s

Vale Life : March / April 2011

Items from the Fiorelli silver collection


Julie and Helen been pretty full on, but good!” “We are trying to offer something different to the mainstream,” says Paul. “It is affordable, luxury, fashion jewellery. We’re exclusive stockists for Pandora and most of our other designers aren’t available elsewhere in the area. We stock both up-and-coming designers and established designers but most are exclusive to Harrisons. “Our window displays change regularly and give a good idea of the range on offer. “We get quite a few enquiries at this time of year for engagement and wedding rings and of course the royal wedding has captured the imagination of many. We’ve had people wanting a copy of Kate’s engagement ring, which was originally Princess Diana’s of course and Pandora have designed a special charm to commemorate the event.” Julie Shadbolt is store manager at Aylesbury and has worked for the company for Ti Sento

Pandora nine years. She started at Harrisons workshop in Woburn Sands and then worked in the Dunstable branch, before moving to the Aylesbury store seven years ago. “I love my job,” says Julie. “I really enjoy coming to work. No two days are the same, customers are always different and they keep things interesting. I like our range. It’s pretty but affordable. “We do a range of jewellery with different stones: amethyst, peridot, topaz, smokey quartz, opal, pearls... we have a good variety of silver jewellery, lockets, St Christopher’s, bracelets, expandable christening bracelets, novelty charms for younger children and Pandora is incredibly popular. The Ice watches are very in at the moment - they come in funky colours with a silicon strap and a box which looks like a Lego brick! “Fred Bennett is a trendy men’s range with popular bangles and leather bracelets, rings, dogtags, cufflinks and chains “Nina Ricci is glamourous and sophisticated while Old Florence is a stylish, chunky, Italian range, and we’re introducing Troll beads and Ti Sento soon. “We also have a range of wedding and engagement rings along with pendants, chains

and earrings, white gold, or yellow gold and we can make up items for you if you have an idea or a picture of something you’d particularly like. It would take two to three weeks as it’s nice if Nina Ricci you can see the stone first, then the item is made and has to go to London to be hallmarked. “Helen is my assistant, she used to work for Watchbox so is particularly good with watches, but is generally knowledgable and easy to chat to. Juliet helps part-time, we’re open seven days a week. “We offer a friendly, personal service. We can often help with ideas or suggestions if customers aren’t exactly sure what they want. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere here and you are welcome to browse and ask questions, we’re not stuffy like some places!” “We’re an up-and-coming business,” says Paul. “We’ve opened two new outlets in the last couple of months and are looking to open a couple more this year in the surrounding areas. We’re a family business though and a local company and aim to provide an excellent friendly service, with a relaxed, informal approach.” It’s an exciting time to be part of the team at Harrisons and their new Aylesbury store was certainly attracting a constant flow of customers when Vale Life visited. With its funky, fashionable brands and staff that are helpful and welcoming the Aylesbury branch is another jewel in the Harrisons’ crown! l Unit 4A, Hale Leys Shopping Centre, High Street, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP20 1ST. Tel: 01296 436499 Website:

Fred Bennett men’s range

Vale Life : March / April 2011


Vale Life : March / April 2011

Dentistry has changed dramatically over the last few years. Advances in hygiene, technology and preventative care, plus a shift to dental plans and private care mean visiting the dentist has become a much more pleasurable experience. It might even make you smile...


Jenna and Emma


Vale Life : March / April 2011

here can’t be many who actually enjoy a trip to the dentist! Most of us are apprehensive, some of us are nervous and others are so worried they just don’t go at all, unless their problems become absolutely unbearable! These days though, many practices are thoroughly pleasant places to visit and some, like Waddesdon Dental, are actually geared up to cater for nervous or even phobic patients. Located on the corner of Waddesdon High Street and Baker Street, Waddesdon Dental has been open just over two years. It is a modern dental clinic in a recently renovated cottage with easy access and ample off road parking. A private practice staffed by a friendly, helpful and highly qualified team. Step into the relaxing and comfortable reception area and you will be welcomed by one of the dental nurses: Jenna and Emma. There’s an air of calm, a flat screen TV and some stylish animal print on which to flick through the latest copy of Vale Life, while awaiting your appointment! Dentist Steve Cooley leads the team at Waddesdon. Originally from Nottingham he’s an experienced dental practitioner having qualified from the Charles Clifford Dental School at Sheffield University in 1987 as a Bachelor of Dental Surgery with final year awards in Restorative Dentistry, Periodontology (gums) and Oral Surgery. In 1997, Steve completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Child Dental Health and Restorative Dental Care at Bristol University. He is registered with the General Dental Council. Steve is also a certified phobic dentist having taken a special interest in the treatment of phobic patients. You will find him listed on the Dental Phobia website with a glowing review! “A lot of people are worried about going to the dentist,” says Steve, “and if they haven’t been for several years they may get embarrassed about the condition of their teeth and think we will judge them. But we never do. “We actively recruit nervous patients, and our team is specifically trained to address their concerns. Patients may be nervous because they have had treatment they weren’t happy with before, or they may not cope with treat-

Dentist Steve Cooley ment due to a strong gag reflex. We can usually deal with the patient’s concerns and take away the anxiety, so they can be treated without fear. Some patients may prefer to be sedated though and we can offer that service too. “Nervous patients can come in for a chat, have a look around, see the equipment, talk over procedures and then make a decision on what they would like done before we make an appointment and decide on a treatment plan. “When they are ready we do an examination, maybe take some X-rays and then devise a treatment plan. It’s only then that we would decide, with the patient, if anything needs doing under sedation. “The aim is to get the patient dentally fit and on a routine monitoring schedule, so they get used to coming in every six or nine months and not having any major work done. Their confidence will start to build. They may still be a little nervous, but will know what to expect, which helps to dispel a lot of fear. “Malcolm Reilly is our specialist implant surgeon. He’s also an expert in periodontal disease, which is a major factor in tooth loss today. He may offer the option of a titanium implant instead of dentures - a root implant which a crown or bridge can be fixed to.

Vale Life : March / April 2011

Steve shows a patient her X-rays

“We also have an oral surgeon, Simon Moore, who provides services that you might otherwise have to go into hospital for. Removing a broken tooth or wisdom teeth can be done here rather than at a clinic or hospital. Our sedationist, Dr Etienne Deysel, can provide intravenous sedation for difficult procedures or phobic patients. It’s conscious sedation though, so you are awake but relaxed.” Dental nurses Emma and Jenna are in their final year of training at Aylesbury College: “I enjoy working with people, says Emma, “and I love nursing. It’s very rewarding, especially when you have nervous patients and you can help them. It can make a big difference to them if they get over their fears and have much needed work done on their teeth. “One of our patients recently told me that when he first came in he was so nervous he felt sick,” says Jenna, “and now he is quite happy to come in. He said getting over his phobia at Waddesdon had completely changed his life - he now feels so much more confident.” The practice has some pretty impressive technology. An OPG scanner (Orthopantomogram) can X-ray all around a patient’s mouth in one go, providing a panoramic picture of the upper and lower jaw. It provides high

quality images with minimum radiation and the digital images can be seen on a monitor almost instantly. “We may also take digital pictures of the patient’s mouth, so we can show on the monitor what I am seeing and what the problem is,” says Steve. “We can give the patient the information to make a decision. We advise and explain and it is then their choice how they would like us to proceed. “We try and achieve clarity to make sure all our patients are fully informed. We use models, pictures and computers to show what needs doing. “Everyone has different requirements. People may be shy, or embarrassed, they might not want to take their dentures out, they might prefer to sit up more. We’re all individuals and that’s how we like to treat people. “Most of the work we do here is correcting and restoring teeth. Simple things like removing staining and tartar and showing people how to clean their teeth properly can help a lot. Many people have never been shown how to maintain their teeth. They do what they think is best, but often it is not enough. “Things have changed a lot since I started in dentistry,” says Steve. “The range of dental

The OPG X-ray machine

equipment and materials, coupled by advances in laboratory technology have opened new avenues for patient care. Advances in decontamination equipment ensure that all patients are treated in a safe and hygienic environment. “There’s also been a big shift to private dental care over the last decade with the advent of cosmetic dentistry and the demand for implants to replace missing teeth.” Nervous patient or not, Waddesdon Dental’s philosophy is to provide dental care of the highest standard in calm and relaxing surroundings. At Waddesdon they have an impressive set up and the team are a happy, helpful bunch who will soon put you at ease. “Call or email us if you would like a look round,” says Steve. “If you are anxious or phobic, we are ready to help. “Visiting the dentist today shouldn’t be a worry, it could even make you smile!” l Waddesdon Dental, 5 High Street, Waddesdon, Aylesbury, Bucks HP18 0JB Tel: 01296 655577 Email: Website:

Vale Life : March / April 2011


Vale Life : March / April 2011

NHR Organic Oils, Brighton. Tel: 0845 310 8066 Website:

Win one of two fabulous NHR Organic Oils gift sets


HR Organic Oils was founded over 15 years ago, when the organic movement was relatively new The company has searched the world for the purest and highest quality, certified organic oils and is now extremely proud to stock over 100 organic essential oils and over 30 organic base oils. All are certified organic by the Soil Association, apart from a few that are wild grown and unavailable in organic form. The firm’s ethos is simple - the purer the quality of the oil, the stronger the therapeutic and healing effect. They believe many of the essential oils on the market today are of very low quality - even some organic ones - and many are mixed with synthetic chemicals which can be harmful. “We only use the purest certi-

fied organic plant ingredients, none of which are tested on animals. We don’t use emulsifiers, artificial colourings or fragrances, synthetic additives or GMO’s. Actually we don’t use anything but certified organic plant ingredients. Our analysis and testing programme ensures we use the freshest most potent organic oils in the world. NHR is offering Vale Life readers the chance to win one of two gift sets of their oils. The Organic Rose Gift set described as: Nurturing, nourishing and deliciously aromatic contains: Organic Rose moisturiser, Organic Rose essential oil 5% blend, Organic Rose Floral water 100ml with atomiser and Organic Rose soap, plus an aromatherapy book, ‘Essential Health’ by Kolinka Zinovieff. The Organic Lavender Gift set described as: Clearing, cleansing

and beautifully aromatic. contains: Organic Lavender moisturiser, Organic Lavender essential Oil, Organic Lavender floral water 100ml with atomiser and Organic Lavender soap plus an aromatherapy book, ‘Essential Health’ by Kolinka Zinovieff. To be in with a chance of winning simply email your name, address and telephone number,

along with the answer to the following question and the oil set you’d like to win to: What is NHR’s ethos? Winners to be drawn at random and notified by email on April 10th.

Fly Fishing Days Try a Fly Fishing Starter Experience! l Ideal for new or novice fly fishing anglers, or someone looking for something different to try l Day or Half Day on a private lake in Oxfordshire, or Buckinghamshire l Small or large groups also welcome l Corporate fly fishing days available at selected venues You will be met near the fishery, given tuition on casting, if needed, then on to the lake to try and catch the brown and rainbow trout that will test your skills l Wild and natural surroundings l Gift vouchers available l Private fly fishing lessons available

Prices £95 Half Day £165 Full Day Private and corporate group rates available All guides hold enhanced CRB certificates Your guides Steve Ward and Ian Horrocks between them have over forty years experience of fly fishing to help encourage and ease you through an exciting and enjoyable day’s fishing

Telephone Steve Ward on 07889 185518, 01844 212390, or for more information go to: 18

Vale Life : March / April 2011

Laminate Flooring

Real Wood Flooring





Beautiful flooring supplied and installed by experts We’re passionate about superior flooring that enhances your environment. From cool, modern laminates to exquisite wool carpets, Kinv is flooring with style!

The new Kinv showroom is now open! Please call: 01844 274876 or 07976 611797 to arrange a visit.

With over 30 years’ combined experience and a background in cabinet making, producing high quality bespoke furniture, the attention to detail in Kinv workmanship is of the highest level. We offer high quality flooring including solid wood, laminate, tiles and carpet. We can assist with advice on suitable flooring for particular areas within your home, including wet rooms and exterior decking and also in commercial premises, including safety flooring.

Unit 5, The Barn, Manor Farm, Risborough Road, Kingsey, Bucks, HP17 8LU Visa debit and all major credit cards now accepted

Tel: 01844 202418

Hypnos ex-showroom stock at clearance prices. Sets from £499

Harrison Brothers contemporary & traditional bedroom furniture

Tel: 01844 202418 Vale Life : March / April 2011


Vale Life : March / April 2011

It’s unlikely Kate and Willy will go for red, white and blue as a wedding theme, but a little patriotic planting could be a fun way to brighten up the garden anyway, says Naomi McKay...


ith an extra day’s bank holiday (and maybe a street party to look forward to), the bunting is likely to be out across the county when Prince William marries Kate Middleton at the end of April. You don’t need to stop at red, white and blue flags though, you can echo this cheerful colour scheme in your garden, without waiting until the end of April. Check out the garden centres now and they’ll be full of flowering bulbs – tulips in all kinds of shades, as well as grape hyacinth (muscari) and white narcissus – which will add some instant interest, whether you want to plant up a border or

This delicate pink rose has been named the ‘Catherine’ Rose after Katy Middleton

some containers. As well as spring bulbs, there are some other plants that will bring those pariotic colours to the garden. How about Dianthus ‘Passion’ – rather aptly named and in a stunning red shade – team with the dainty pure white flowers of Dianthus ‘Arctic Star’, pictured top right (find suppliers at

w w w . s ta te l y . c o . u k

Grand, Unusual and Surprisingly Affordable Furniture and Furnishings Another suitably monikered variety is Lavender ‘Regal Splendour’ or the less appropriate but just as blue Campanula ‘Blue Bloomers’. Hardy geraniums will reward you with colour long into summer, and spread really well, so pick out your favourite, such as Geranium ‘Johnsons Blue’. And don’t forget it’s not just flowers that provide colour – for structure, look to the bold red sword-like leaves of Cordyline ‘Festival Grass’, which will look just as good in a large container as they do in the border. Find suppliers at English bluebells also flower in April, so if you don’t already have some in your garden, this could be the time to get some. And aquilegias, those happy little bonnetshaped blooms that will joyfully self-seed all over the place, are also in flower at this time of year, in all the colours you could wish for. If you don’t fancy following the Union Flag colour theme, keep an eye out for plants named in honour of the happy couple DIY chain Focus has come up

with the ‘Catherine’ Rose, a very pretty, limited edition, pale pink rose, in honour of Kate Middleton (and St Catherine – whose day also falls on April 29th). Exclusive to Focus it will go on sale in April priced £9.99 with a percentage of sales donated to the Princess Diana Foundation Trust. Haddenham Garden Centre has a tradescantia ‘Sweet Kate’ - a hardy perennial suited to a mixed or herbaceous border. It produces deep blue/purple flowers from mid to late summer over mid yellow/ green lance-shaped foliage. Kate’s husband-to-be already has a rose named after him (one of the benefits of being a prince, I guess). ‘Royal William’ is a red hybrid tea rose, (available from Haddenham Garden Centre, see feature article page 22) that will be happy in heavy clay, moist, well-drained soil or light soil (which should cover most of what Bucks has to offer!) and would sit well from the middle to the back of a border. In fact it grows so well that it has been awarded a prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit.

l Naomi MacKay has been writing about gardens for 15 years. Her blog about her Buckinghamshire garden is at A journalist for more than 20 years, she also helps businesses to create or improve their websites. Naomi is offering a 10% discount to Vale Life readers who quote the code VLMAR. Call 07802 426594, email naomimackay@ or log on to


Super Size Dining Tables • Character Sideboards & Cabinets Statement Pieces • Partner Desks • Chaise Longues • Four Poster Beds Unusual Objet d’art • Vintage Trunks & Chests • Framed Oil Paintings Suits of Armour • Traditional Rugs • Throne Chairs...and much more.

Broadfields, Aylesbury 01296 438200 Retail Trade Contract

w w w . s ta te l y . c o . u k Always different and always in stock ... 20

Vale Life : March / April 2011

Complementary Health Centre

Castle Park Road, Wendover Massage, aromatherapy, reflexology, health screening, hypnotherapy, kinesiology, reiki, aqua detox, hopi ear candling, Bach flower therapies

Tel: 01296 622611

Vale Life : March / April 2011

Win new Jimi Hendrix book


escribing how the city of London helped transform little-known musician, Jimmy James into rock legend Jimi Hendrix, this revealing volume details how the guitarist helped transform London into a dynamo of popular music and social rebellion. The book examines Hendrix’s impact on London’s leading musicians - including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton - and follows Hendrix as he acquires a savvy manager, a tight band and a forgiving girlfriend launching himself on a breakneck career from dingy clubs to Woodstock and recording and television studios. Each chapter introduces unforgettable characters and takes readers on a trip through the psychedelic era, concluding with

Hendrix’s tragic death in a London apartment. It explores the public as well as the private man, capturing the contrast between the wild on stage showman and the unassuming guy behind the scenes. Author William Saunders is a journalist and poet and a regular contributor to the Guardian and the Independent. To be in with a chance of winning one of three copies simply email your name, address and telephone number, along with the answer to the following question to: What was Jimi’s band called? Winner to be drawn at random and notified by email on April 10th. l

Entertain the kids for less this Easter! CeX buy, sell and exchange Trina and Shamus technology and entertainment products including DVDs, mobile phones, consoles, video games, computers, Blu Ray movies, digital electronics, laptops, cameras, iphones, blackberrys, ipods, xbox, ipad, playstation...

Opening HOurs Mon: 9:30-18:00 Tue: 9:30-18:00 Wed: 9:30-18:00 Thu: 9:30-18:00 Fri: 9:30-18:00 Sat: 9:00-18:00 Sun: 11:00-17:00 Unit 1, Crown Buildings, High Street, Aylesbury We’re at the top of the High Street Website:

01296 780 222

Open to the public all year round, Intuition Sport houses Open to the public all a fully equipped Gym, Sports Hall and Dance Studio.

year round, Intuition Sport houses a state of resistance The Gym offers top of the range Pulse Fitness equipment including and cardio machines. We have a number of qualified personal the art Sports Suite withtrainers available to coach beginners through atofully sports enthusiasts.Gym, equipped Sports Hall and Dance Both the Sports Hall and Dance Studio can be hired out and host a wide Studio. range of clubs and classes. These include: Yoga Basketball

Street Dance Zumba Fitness

The Gym offers top of the range Pulse Fitness equipment

Badminton Five-a-side Football

Gym membership £15.00 per month with no joining fee, £3.50 pay as you go. Dance Studio hire £15.00. Sport Hall hire from £10.00. Intuition, Aylesbury College, Oxford Rd, Aylesbury, HP21 8PD

Vale Life : March / April 2011

Kids love animals and no more so than when they can cuddle, stroke and even feed their furry friends. There’ll be squeals of delight when you get to the goat centre and it won’t be the pigs...


Lauren Godfrey


hen was the last time you bet on a ferret, cuddled a pig or dodged some llama spit?! If it’s been a while you really should get out more and where better to go than the Bucks Goat Centre Animal Farm? Most of us know where it is, but if you’ve never been in, you’re missing out, especially if you’ve little ones in tow. It’s great for youngsters, who can get up close and interactive with baby lambs and goats, see chicks hatching and cuddle a guinea pig or rabbit. Lauren Godfrey has recently taken over the centre and is planning all sorts of fun activities over Easter and a whole host of new additions in the coming months. “I’ve worked at the centre for five years,” says Lauren, “so I know the ropes and when the opportunity came to take over, I jumped at it! It’s so lovely here for children, it’s fun and friendly with a real family feel.” Lauren grew up in Long Crendon and went to Lord Williams’s School. She’s always loved animals and after GCSEs took a National Diploma in Animal Care at Berkshire College of Agriculture. She did work experience at the Bucks Goat centre and was offered a weekend job there. After college, she went full-time and now at only 22 she’s running the place! “The goats centre used to be all goats,” says Lauren, “hence the


Vale Life : March / April 2011

name. They had every sort of domesticated goat breed and made cheese. Now it’s more of a children’s farm. “I’m looking at developing the range of animals, bringing back some of the rare goats, and investing in some miniature donkeys and alpacas. At the moment we have some micro pigs, they’re not that tiny though, three little baby pygmy goats, Polly Pip and Pop, Chico the cockatoo, rabbits, ferrets, rias, guinea pigs, donkeys and horses and Maxine the llama, “Children love it,” says Lauren, “It’s small it’s not commercial, the staff are very friendly and it’s very hands-on. You can get right up close to the animals. If you ask you can hold a rabbit or a guinea pig. A little bag of food is only £1 and there’s lots of fun to be had feeding. “There’s lots of space, so you can bring a picnic if you like or get food from the café. It’s very relaxed and friendly with the chance to get up close and interact with the animals. “We’ll be having fun events over the Easter holidays: egg hunts and baby chicks, egg rolling competitions, egg painting and baby

bunnies. There’s also the chance to feed a baby lamb from a bottle and there should be a baby goat born Easter weekend too, it could be while you watch!” Lauren is also running the Goat Centre Café. “You don’t have to go into the centre to use the café, she says. “We are happy for anyone to pop in for some tea and cake or an all day breakfast.” “Actually I need a couple of good home cooks,” she says. “I’m not looking for qualified chefs, our menu is simple. Part-time is fine - friendly people who are happy cooking and serving at the counter. Just give me a call or pop in if you are interested.” As you can see from the pictures Vale Life had great fun visiting the centre last month. We took our young friends Sam and Grace from Thame along and mum Amanda says they haven’t stopped talking about it yet! Admission is £4.50 adults, £3.50 for children and under are 2’s free. Open every day from 10am to 4pm. l The Bucks Goat Centre Animal Farm, Layby Farm, Old Risborough Road, Stoke Mandeville, Bucks HP22 5XJ. Tel: 01296 612 983. Website: .

Win a year’s supply of bellevue tea! Around this time of year we’ll all be thinking of our mums at some point and wondering what we can do to show our love and appreciation. All mums love a cup of tea of course, so what could be better than making sure your mum has a cup of tea for every day of the coming year?! The team at bellevue tea pride themselves on making the best quality tea bags that are perfect for every day drinking. Clare Jones, Founder of bellevue tea, says: “Giving tea is a thoughtful gesture - it provides your mother with all she needs for a special tea break and a peaceful pause.” bellevue tea is stocked by many independent outlets up and down the UK (see for stockists) and is also available to buy

on-line. Vale Life has teamed up with bellevue to offer 15 boxes of assorted bellevue teas (including at least one of each of the eight teas in bellevue’s range) as a competition prize. There’s 25 tea bags in each box, so

that makes 375 tea bags - enough for at least one cup of tea every day for a whole year, plus a lovely tea towel! We’ll be picking a winner on Mother’s Day, Sunday April 3rd, so you’ll have to get her something else for the day first, I’m afraid, but what a lovely additional gift to remind her of you every day of the year! The bellevue teas collection includes a bright and punchy Breakfast tea, a lightly fragrant Earl Grey, a rich and gentle Rooibos, an award winning and distinctive tasting Ceylon black and a traditional Sencha green tea - new to the bellevue tea range this year are the aromatic and refreshing Peppermint infusion, the silky sweet and subtle White tea and the pale, fragrant and elegant Darjeeling tea.

These high quality teas are presented in a convenient string and tag bag, each one individually wrapped in its own envelope and tagged without use of glue or staple. bellevue tea was launched in 2008, by Clare Jones (wife of lifelong Tea Trader, Mike). bellevue teas are 100% biodegradable - just add them to your normal compost material once you have made your cuppa. To be in with a chance of winning simply email your name, address and telephone number, along with the answer to the following question to: Who is bellevue tea’s founder? Winner to be drawn at random and notified by email on April 4th. l

Swanbourne House Preparation for future schools • Outstanding pastoral care • Excellent CE/Scholarship results • Service bursaries • Excellent facilities • First class sporting opportunities

Come and visit us; you can be sure of a warm welcome. For details contact Mrs C Hollowday tel. 01296 720 264 Let us put you in contact with other service families to tell you of their experience here

Vale Life : March / April 2011

Chris Hawkins knows about growing. He’s been up to his elbows in plant pots for over 30 years and with wife Margaret, has raised three children who now help nurture the family business. Could it be time for Haddenham Garden Centre to have a growth spurt?


hris Hawkins and his father Jack first opened their Haddenham nurseries in 1978. After school Chris had undertaken a five year engineering apprenticeship, but decided he would prefer an outdoor life to toolmaking. He worked as a landscape gardener for ten years, first with Jim Lawrence Landscapes and then on his own, before persuading Jack to take early retirement from his job, as manager at the Rolls-Royce Works near Watford, to join him in a new business venture. The family had moved to Haddenham from Pinner, Middlesex in the late 60s after hearing details of a new homes development in the village by North Harrow firm William Old. In those days it was considered quite a move ‘out to the sticks!’ Chris and Jack took on some farmland at the edge of Haddenham and set up a small Dan, Zoe and Angel in the coffee shop


Vale Life : March / April 2011

Ben, Chris (holding Kate’s daughter Eleanor) Stephen, Margaret and Kate nursery: “We put up a glasshouse,” says Chris. “As it got older it leaked like a sieve though! We were always having to move the products around, it was an absolute nightmare. It used to wobble in the wind too - scared the life out of me!” he laughs. “I was worried the glass would fall in on us. “When my parents retired I ran things, with help from my wife Margaret and son Stephen and now all my children have joined me. Stephen, 34, is now a director while his sister Kate, 31, is in charge of giftware, Christmas buying and marketing and my youngest, Ben, 25, looks after web design, e-commerce and IT. “We grew up here,” says Kate. “It was brilliant as a child, hiding around the plants and shrubs, although we did get in a few scrapes. I remember playing on one of the trolleys. The wheels were in the middle so we put some big tins of creosote the other end to balance us.

They fell over, the lids came off and creosote went everywhere! I think Dad has nearly forgiven us now! “We bred chickens and ducks on the site and when we reached our teens we started helping out at weekends on the tills and around the nursery. Stephen is very handy and has done most of the construction around the garden centre himself. “Stephen and Ben went to Lord Williams’s School in Thame, while I went to Wheatley. “Stephen joined dad in the business from school while I went to study business management in Gloucestershire and Ben did computer studies at Birmingham. I came back to work here about eight years ago while Ben joined us last year.” “Having my family involved is brilliant,” says Chris, “as the youngsters are up with all the latest technology. Ben is developing the website and we’ve just updated our computer-

Vale Life : March / April 2011

ised stock control and till systems to help us to run the company more efficiently. “We employ about 25 members of staff here now, including our manager Steve Pullin. We attained planning permission to construct a retail shop a few years ago, and we are now half way through our expansion project. “People are pleasantly surprised when they enter the shop, as you can’t tell what we have got here from the road! We’re going to sort that out though, take down the old glasshouse, extend the shop and make a new entrance facing the front.” “We are thinking of new things all the time,” says Kate, “for instance, encouraging children to get into growing. We did a hanging

basket competition at one of the local schools last year and the children loved it! We’re up for doing it again this year. If any of the local schools would like to get involved they’re welcome to contact us.” “We’re increasing the plant area this year too and we’re adding more covered areas outside so it will be more pleasant selecting plants when the weather isn’t good. We’ve also resurfaced the car park, which will be a relief to many!” “It’s a very friendly trade to work in,” says Chris. “Meeting new customers is always nice and we have regular trade association meetings with other centres which is great for swapping ideas and advice. We all help each other.

“I’m stepping back slightly now. I leave the technology to the youngsters! I’m concerned more with the overall development of the business while they get on with the day to day running of things. “The coffee shop has really taken off over the last year, the all day breakfast is particularly popular! We’ve a good team in there with Dan, who is the coffee shop manager, Ollie, deputy manager, Dan’s mum Tracey, his sister, Zoe and Angel, to mention but a few. They all get on well with people and have built up a good regular clientele. It’s lovely food and very reasonable. “I think people like the fact it is very relaxed and friendly here. You can have a wander round and stop for a cuppa or some lunch. We’ve a good range of garden related products, everything from twine and secateurs to paving slabs, Laura Ashley baskets and boots, seeds and growbags... we’ve also a pet section and lots of gifts and homeware, from crockery to candles. There’s some lovely items that mum might like for Mothers Day too! “We have plenty of bedding plants and shrubs in at the moment and we are intending to grow our own herbaceous plants again, which my wife Margaret used to do here years ago. The tunnel frames are up and we’ll start planting in mid summer. “We’ll be adding more garden furniture as the weather improves,” says Stephen. “It used to be mostly timber, but now we have a lot of resin and metal furniture as well, which is much easier to maintain.” “Although we’re getting bigger, I’m looking to reduce our carbon footprint,” says Chris. “We’re looking to change the heating system from oil to a more sustainable source. “We’re also keen on recycling and have our own baling machine for compressing plastics and cardboard for recycling. 95% of our rubbish is recycled now which I’m really pleased about.” “The business is stepping up a gear,” says Stephen. “We’re slowly expanding, we’re broadening our range and keeping up with technology, we’re growing, but we aim to maintain our friendly, family feel.” l Haddenham Garden Centre, Stanbridge Road, Haddenham, Bucks, HP17 8HN Tel: 01844 290395 Email: Website:

Vale Life : March / April 2011


Vale Life : March / April 2011

‘You can’t beat an open fire’, says Vale Life, but according to one local expert that’s not just wrong, it’s plain old fashioned...


obody is driving around in Model T Fords any more,” says Ian Pearce of Bledlow based North Mill Stoves. “But that is what an open fire is!” Ian should know too being a fully trained HETAS engineer with over 20 years experience in the heating business. He runs his own business, supplying and installing the best in clean burning state-of-the-art stoves. “The trouble with an open fire is that it is always working,” explains Ian. “There’s a hole in the wall and it’s drawing air up and out 24 hours a day, taking your heat with it. There’s a vast volume of warm air disappearing up there. With a stove, even if it’s not lit, it is already blocking that hole and when it is going you get five times the heat, for a third of the fuel!” “An added advantage is that when everything else has failed, when the snow’s up to the windows, the power’s off and you can’t get any oil delivered, your stove will still be going. You can heat the house, boil a kettle, or warm a pan!” Ian was born and lives in High Wycombe. When he left school he trained as a pattern maker then a toolmaker, engineer and draughtsman. In 1983, while working as a freelance draughtsman, he was offered a job over Christmas helping build handmade kitchens and enjoyed it so much he stayed on for 16 years! “The stove business started drip by drip,” says Ian. “Making wood kitchens, we had


Vale Life : March / April 2011

Ian demonstrates a woodburning stove in his North Mill showroom unlimited quantities of waste wood to dispose of, so everyone in the trade had wood burners. One winter, about 28 years ago, a friend moved into a new house and the boiler blew. With a young family to care for he needed help to install a new woodburner at short notice. I helped him find and fit one, it warmed his whole house and provided hot water, he was delighted with it and when his boss saw it, he wanted one too - it went on like that. “Since I trained (he passed the HETAS course with distinction) I’ve been on a lot of additional courses. I’ve been installing stoves now for many years, so there’s not much I haven’t had to deal with.” HETAS (The Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme) is officially recognised by the government to approve solid fuel domestic heating appliances, fuels and services including the registration of competent installers and servicing businesses). Ian runs North Mill Stoves with the help of his daughter Laura and colleague, Kevin Long. “We’ve done thousands of installations,” says Ian. “They are all done personally by me and Kevin, who is also HETAS qualified. We

don’t sub anything out. We also get a lot of fault finding work - putting right what someone else has installed incorrectly.” “We do a lot of work for the National Trust,” says Laura. “Dad could be fitting a stove anywhere from a little cottage in West Wycombe to Hughendon Manor itself.” “From caravan to castle is a popular saying in the trade,” laughs Ian. “We do a lot of safety surveys for the Trust as well. Many landlords and letting agents don’t realise it’s their responsibility to have a chimney swept and checked regularly. If it gets blocked and causes a fire or gas poisoning they could well be liable and without proof of servicing insurances are invalid. Coal and wood fires give off carbon monoxide just as gas fires do. You can’t smell it either, so you have to make sure the installation is done by HETAS registered installers and annually maintained. Wood burning in a modern stove is known as reduced oxygen combustion. It is an efficient way of producing heat as you control the oxygen flow so there is just enough to allow combustion and create the heat. Any more, as with an open fire, and the wood

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burns too fast wasting heat up the chimney. “It’s a big investment,” says Laura. “From around one to several thousand pounds for some systems. We only want to do an installation that we know a customer is going to be happy with, so it’s nice when people come to us for advice first. It’s such a big industry, but over the years we have identified certain brands as being particularly good and which we have confidence in.” “A good stove should last at least thirty years. We’ve listed some of the manufacturers whose products we have found work well and believe are reliable, on our website. “The trick is to hold the fire in a kind of suspended animation,” says Ian. “You can get a whole evening of glowing warmth from a few bits of old timber. You don’t even need good quality logs, any well-seasoned wood will burn in the stove. Visiting North Mill’s Bledlow showroom is an experience in itself. It’s tucked away down a winding track in an 18th century former paper mill not far from the Phoenix Trail. If it’s Ian and Laura

been raining heavily you may have to squelch gingerly through the muddy yard, where the River Lyde provides a mill race of water draining from the nearby Chiltern escarpment. The showroom is on the first floor, with viewing by appointment only. There will usually be a couple of models fired up for demonstration and the warmth emitted is spectacular, even in the draughty old mill. It’s a fascinating place, filled with bits of old furniture, tools and family memorabilia and a further dozen or so stoves to examine. “It’s a good time of year to think about fitting a new stove,” says Ian. “Most people call up in the autumn and winter when we can be booked up to three months ahead. From now on though the days are longer and it’s better weather, so if your doors are open and we’re up on the roof it’s much more pleasant for the customer. We’ll do a small discount too as it’s easier on us! It will usually take a full day to install a stove properly. If someone says they can do it in a couple of hours, it probably won’t be a great job! I’ve been asked to put right a few that have been poorly installed.” Laura started helping Ian with paperwork in 2008 and now runs the customer facing side of the business. “We also do maintenance on the stoves that we’ve installed. We sweep the flues, carry out a thorough safety check and replace any worn parts. We even clean the glass, polish the brassware and respray the stove to make it look brand new. “You don’t have to have a chimney to fit a stove. We can fit what is termed a ‘twin wall flue’ which is a self-supporting, insulated, chimney system. They are great for conservatories which can be chilly in the winter. “We don’t charge for quotes, so if you’d

like to find out what is possible we are happy to advise and estimate for free.” “There is some science involved,” says Ian. “You need the right kind of chimney pot, a chimney liner will have to be fitted, insulation and so on. “You need a strange blend of skills to fit stoves. With a twin wall flue pipe you will need some carpentry skills for trimming floorboards and joists and boxing in, roofing skills too for stripping and replacing tiles or slates and putting lead flashing and a storm collar on and a head for heights!” “People skills are important too,” says Laura, “and respect for your clients and their property. At North Mill Stoves you’ll be dealing with me or Dad right from the start, so you know who will be coming round and that you’ll get a friendly personal service.” “We’ll keep you safe and warm,” says Ian. “It’s time to scrap that Model T!” l North Mill Stoves Limited, North Mill, North Mill Road, Bledlow, Bucks, HP27 9QP. Tel: 01844 342400 Email: Info@northmillstoves. Website:

Vale Life : March / April 2011


Vale Life : March / April 2011

Win tickets to the BBC Good Food Show and Gardeners’ World Live at NEC Birmingham


f you love summer then the BBC Good Food Show Summer has it all. From speciality and artisan producers and fresh local produce to seasonal live cooking demonstrations, you’ll find plenty of summer recipe inspiration. Don’t miss all your favourite TV chefs - and above all have a great summer day out! Summer recipes… Sit back and watch celebrity chefs, including Rachel Allen and James Martin create their favourite summer dishes live on stage using seasonal ingredients. You’ll find all the recipes easy to follow – some favourites are printed in your Recipe Collection (value £10 and included in the ticket price) for you to try at home. Seasonal food and drink… Discover summer food and drink you won’t find on the high street


Vale Life : March / April 2011

from regional producers. Stock up on homemade goodies ideal for alfresco entertaining – or buy regional cheeses, pickles and wines, and invite your friends to lunch. Fantastic shopping… Whether you want a traditional picnic hamper or state-of-the-art kitchen gadgets, you’ll find them at the Show. There’s an unrivalled selection of high quality food and drink to choose from and exclusive Show bargains. Stock up for birthday barbecues or weekend picnics and you’ll enjoy yourself as much as your guests! Grow your way to five-a-day! Nothing tastes as good as fruit and veg picked fresh from your own garden, so whether you’ve got an allotment or a window box, take advantage of free entry to BBC Gardeners’ World. Experts like Monty Don and Alan Titchmarsh from the BBC series will be on hand to offer advice and you can buy all the seeds, plants and produce you need, to start your own kitchen garden too. Top TV chefs cooking live… Saturday Kitchen Live hosted by TV’s James Martin, makes its debut at the Show with a summer twist! With celebrity guests, Food Heaven and Hell and the fiercely competitive Omelette Challenge,

it will be better than ever! Plus, you’ll find John Torode, Gregg Wallace and a host of familiar faces from the TV programme in live Cook-offs. It’s all taking place in the Summer Kitchen sponsored by Sainsbury’s, so don’t forget to reserve your seat. Make your day extra special with exclusive VIP tickets… Your VIP package includes a Gold Seat in the Summer Kitchen sponsored by Sainsbury’s, access to the exclusive VIP lounge with refreshments, specialist talks and demos, a fabulous goody bag, VIP cloakroom and bag crèche, fast

track book signing, and a glass of bubbly to top it off. For Good Food Magazine subscribers there is no booking fee and Summer Kitchen sponsored by Sainsbury’s seats are free of

charge With top celebrity names appearing at the BBC Good Food Show Summer, you’ll have a fantastic day out and enjoy the freshest, most delicious seasonal food and drink. It’s a celebration of all that’s best about the British summer, whether you spend it with family, friends or just as a couple... Who’s the MasterChef? Watch previous winners from the top TV show including Dhruv Baker. PLUS the soon to be crowned champion of MasterChef Series 7, as well as judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace live on stage creating amazing dishes in just thirty minutes. Ask the Experts However keen a cook you are there’s always something extra special to be learned from the experts and with Rachel Allen offering free demonstrations using new and improved products from Sainsbury’s, you’ll pick up tips for effortless cooking at home. To be in with a chance of winning one of six pairs of tickets which allow entry to both the Good Food Show and Gardeners’ World Live simply email your name, address and telephone number, along with the answer to the following question to: Which TV chef presents Saturday Kitchen Live? Winner to be drawn at random and notified by email on April 10th.

Vale Life Snappy Snaps Fab Photo Competition


Sponsored by Snappy Snaps, Aylesbury

any thanks to all of you who have entered our Fab Photo Contest. As always some striking images have arrived this issue including several skyscapes. Nick Whitfield of Aylesbury wins by a whisker though with his fabulous big cat photographs. Nick was lucky enough to visit the Big Cat Sanctuary in Smarden in Kent with his wife which allowed him some stunning subject matter. Nick says the cat laying down is a Sumatran tiger and the one eating is an Amur leopard of which only 40 are left in the world. Well done indeed Nick. Also congratulations to Sarah Wolsey of Headington, Oxford, the Winner of our Valentine mini-photo shoot at Snappy Snaps Aylesbury studio. To Enter our Mar/April competition: Email your picture plus a brief description of the image and your name, address and contact details to: Entries for this issue’s competition should be emailed by April 10th. The winner will receive a free A3 sized canvas print of their picture courtesy of Snappy Snaps, Aylesbury.

Sunset from Whiteleaf by Andrea Margai of Princes Risborough

Snappy Snaps, 7 High Street, Aylesbury, HP20 1SH. Tel: 01296 330003.

Win a meal at The Six Bells


Towersey 25-29 August 2011

Your Local Festival

W h e re F e s t i v a l m e a n s s o m u c h m o r e

* The Six Bells during last year’s snow

* * *


To be in with a chance of winning simply email your name, address and telephone number, along with the answer to the following question to: Who was driven mad by the bells of Notre Dame? Winner to be drawn at random and notified by email on April 10th. The Six Bells, 44 Lower High Street, Thame, Oxfordshire, OX9 2AD. Tel: 01844 212088. Email:


uilt around 1545 The Six Bells, Thame is a beautiful half-timbered coaching inn situated in the oldest part of Thame, opposite St Mary’s Church and the bells it is named after. Recently refurbished in a stylish but sympathetic manner it has a warm and welcoming atmosphere with flagstone floors, real log fires and a large patio area for the summer months. A Fullers’ pub you can expect quality ales including the popular London Pride and a mouthwatering menu that mixes modern dishes with pub favourites and daily changing blackboard specials. Manager Sam Snook is a keen cyclist and the bell connection now encompasses old bicycle bells and a variety of cycling memorabilia too. It’s comfortable, friendly and with an extensive wine list, great coffee and excellent service, an ideal place to enjoy a meal. You may be able to do just that - and for free too, as Sam has offered a meal for two with a bottle of house wine as a competition prize for Vale Life readers.

Oxfordshire’s 47th

Billy Bragg leads a mighty line-up 01629 827016 Vale Life : March / April 2011


Vale Life : March / April 2011

We all like to do our bit to save the planet and if it’s saving you money into the bargain it’s a proverbial ‘no brainer’. So how come only 20% of us refill our printer cartridges?


odern technology is amazing. Most of us are wired into the digital world, our grannies have Facebook pages and our kids are glued to their iPads and smartphones. It’s hard to imagine how businesses ever functioned without computers and email. Now most homes have a selection of PCs and a cheap printer that boasts amazing print quality, but drinks ink at an alarming rate! Replacement cartridges are expensive and if you could see how much ink you were actually getting for your money from some of the leading brands, you would be shocked! Even worse the big boys have been sneakily reducing the amount of ink they put into their cartridges, so if it seems like they are running out more and more quickly, it is probably not your children’s fault! In some cases it’s down to about 10% of what you used to get! How do I know all this? Well, I’ve been talking to Martin and Sarah of Cartridge World in Aylesbury, who can help you make big savings by refilling your ink cartridges when they run out. “There’s a myth that using refilled cartridges will invalidate your printer warranty,” says Martin. “But that’s not true, it is actually illegal under European restraint of trade laws to do that. We guarantee our cartridges will match the performance of the originals, under similar conditions, and will repair your printer free of charge if one of our cartridges has caused a problem.” It’s very enlightening talking to the couple who took on the Aylesbury Cartridge World franchise at Parton Road, Broughton, in 2005. Tucked away in a small shopping arcade just off the A41 the business has flourished. It’s part of an international success story but still retains the air of a cottage industry-


Vale Life : March / April 2011

From left to right: Jonny, Hannah, Steve, Martin, Sarah and Trevor at the back come-family firm with a bustling workshop and friendly counter staff all catering for your needs right there on the premises. You can tell customer service is important and that isn’t just for those who pop into the store. Cartridge World offers a range of services to local businesses including maintenance contracts, printer supplies, servicing and consumables. Refills make recycling sense too, which is good for you and the environment. While you save 40% on the cost of a laser cartridge you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint by 60%! “When we first looked at the business we did wonder if it would be easy for others to set up in competition,” says Martin, “but there’s actually quite a lot involved. To do a good job you need about 200 complete ink sets! Different generations of machines from the same manufacturers may require completely different inks or toners. You can’t do one size fits all.

“With toner cartridges you need the right parts, the right toner and the right chip. We keep a record of how many cycles the key parts have done and how many they should do, so we know when to replace what. “Even our cardboard boxes are reused and manage an average of 3.5 trips before they are recycled! We pick up the empties when we deliver the new ones. “About 60% of our business is from companies,” says Sarah. “From small local firms, to large organisations. We’re happy to work with their existing technology and can offer advice on where savings and efficiencies might be made. We can supply new printers as required and if there’s a problem, have a replacement model installed to keep things going while the fault is diagnosed. “We also offer to supply printers on a rental basis, so you just pay per sheet for your printing and we maintain the machine. Then it’s in our interest as much as our client’s to keep everything running smoothly!” Cartridge World has been a phenomenal success story. Founded in Australia in 1988 it began franchising in 1997 and arrived in the UK in 2001. It is now the world’s No. 1 provider of quality, refilled printer cartridges, offering massive savings on the price of

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replacement printer cartridges, while helping the environment. Every major brand of printer cartridge for home, education or business use is catered for and guaranteed. The Aylesbury store, the UK’s 22nd, opened in 2002 and was bought by Martin and Sarah Dyckhoff in 2005. “We wanted to live and work locally’, says Sarah. “Martin had been working in Stoke on Trent and travelling a lot. We both wanted to be involved in raising our three children and Martin is also keen on volunteering, so we needed something that gave us flexibility. “Martin comes from a marketing background while I was a florist, although we’ve had a packaging and reprographics business and at one time we both worked in a chocolate shop together! At the moment I’m more hands on with the day to day running of the store, while Martin looks after marketing and sales.” “I like the mix,” says Sarah, “My job’s practical, there’s challenges to deal with and I never know what’s going to come in next! “It’s also nice to be offering people a good deal and a chance to save, while also doing something for the environment. I enjoy dealing with our customers and being a customer myself while dealing with our suppliers.” Martin is also a warden, part of the leadership team at Barley Hill church in Thame. He feels it is important to ‘give something back’ and works as a volunteer for the church community. “It’s all about work/life balance,” he says. “I now spend half my time on the business, half my time at the church and half my time looking after the children. Maths never was my strong point!”

It was while working in Stoke that a colleague told Martin he had been to the local Cartridge World outlet and was really impressed with the business model. “That was in March,” says Sarah “and by May 1st we’d taken over a franchise! It was meant to be - we looked into the company and found the Aylesbury franchise was for sale. The previous owner had been doing well, but was leaving for personal reasons, so it was a great opportunity.” Five years on the Aylesbury store has just been nominated Cartridge World’s No.1 UK store, selling more refills in 2010 than any of the other 250 outlets. The previous year they took the organisation’s Franchisee of the Year title. “We now have eight staff,” says Sarah. “Hannah and Steve look after customers in the store and also refill the ink cartridges, Trevor, Jonny and Oli, refill and remanufacture our laser cartridges and Dave, technical manager and troubleshooter, visits our business customers for maintenance audits and technical issues and combines deliveries with servicing. “We’ve invested in specialist technology which enables us to produce refilled cartridges that are just as reliable as the new ones,” says Martin. “Our reliability figures match those quoted by the big companies for new ones. We can take an empty and turn it into a filled cartridge as good as the original. A lot is down to the cleaning and our vacuum boiling and centrifuging systems. We can load the ink without airlocks forming and the cartridge is sold taped and airtight just as when first filled.” “Amazingly 80% of people still don’t refill,” says Martin. “In 2008 we carried out the first ever live data Carbon Footprint in the

world by the Centre for Reuse and Remanufacturing here in Aylesbury. “We measured, counted (and weighed where necessary) everything that came in and went out for three months. “The results showed that having your laser cartridge refilled instead of buying new saved 40% on the cost and reduced your carbon footprint by 60%, while saving the cartridges from going into landfill. “With printers getting cheaper and cheaper the build quality is coming down. Current models are often not as well made as previous models and we find that it can be more cost effective to refurbish an older, sturdier model than to buy a cheap new one. “It is difficult for customers to know what the best buy is, so we are looking at providing printers free on a contract, like a mobile phone. We worry about the printer then, so the customer doesn’t have to!” At Cartridge World Sarah and Martin do more than run a business. They have a real enthusiasm for their industry and some excellent ideas for taking it and their firm forward. So don’t wait til your printer is running on empty - give them a call and find out about refilling, recycling and reaping the benefits! l Cartridge World Aylesbury, 32 Parton Road, Aylesbury, HP20 1NG. Tel: 01296 434666 Fax: 01296 436333 Email: Website:

Vale Life : March / April 2011


Vale Life : March / April 2011

We all want the best for our children and a good education is top of the list. So how is your child really doing and what can you do to maximise their potential? Why not ask Michael Garnett at Kip...


ocating your learning centre above a chocolate factory might seem an inspired way of attracting pupils. It’s no wonder Michael Garnett’s Kip McGrath Education Centre is full of happy, smiling faces. But the congenial Canadian is actually filling his pupils with the desire to learn and not confectionary! “Many parents worry about how their children are performing at school,” says Michael. “Are they at the standard appropriate for their age? Are they performing to the very best of their ability? How can one find out? We provide a free, no obligation professional assessment which answers these questions. “As a headteacher, my personal philosophy is to strive for excellence, high standards and result-orientated education. This is the cornerstone of our business. “We deliver a unique, personalised curriculum designed to inspire children to pursue learning and to aim high. One thing I have learnt after thirty years of teaching, is that all children have talents. We are specialists in bringing out the best in children ranging from remedial abilities to the exceptionally gifted.” Michael Garnett is originally from Toronto in Canada. A natural mathematician he gained a degree in Maths and then, keen to visit Europe enrolled at York University as a post graduate student. After gaining a teaching qualification, he began his career in Cambridge. An opportunity to teach in the then new nation of Zimbabwe, appealed to Michael’s adventurous spirit. He spent three glorious years teaching enthusiastic children in classes of 45 and swimming in the mighty Zambezi with hippos. He returned to Canada with his Zimbabwean wife Chris and spent a spell teaching on an


Vale Life : March / April 2011

Michael Garnett with students Indian reservation in the wilds of North West Ontario. After one too many arctic winters, the couple returned to England, with their first daughter, Aurea, to make their home in Buckinghamshire. “We’ve been here over 20 years now.” says Michael. “We like the people and the way of life in England. My wife and I have always felt at home here. It’s a land of opportunity if you are prepared to work hard and it’s half way between Canada and Zimbabwe! “My career progressed from teaching maths at Mandeville to deputy head of maths in Milton Keynes then head of maths at Great Marlow School. From assistant head at a school in Hitchin, I moved on to deputy head at a school in Oxfordshire.” Along the way to deputy headship, Michael gained a Master’s Degree in Education from Westminster College, Oxford. He was one of the early graduates of the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH). “After many years in the state sector, I began to look for fresh opportunities in education, says Michael. “An advertisement in The Times Educational Supplement for a tuition franchise caught my eye. This was the birth of Kip McGrath Education in Aylesbury. “Managing a supplementary school is an exciting educational challenge. It’s a tremen-

dous platform from which to create new teaching techniques.” Kip McGrath Education Centre is located in the village of Stone, near Aylesbury. The classrooms are bright and full of colourful displays. Michael taught his first student here in 2005. “It was very quiet,” he laughs. “My voice echoed through the corridors. I could swing my ice hockey stick in the empty classrooms, which was useful practice as not long after I joined the Milton Keynes Ice Hockey Team, Rumble! “Word of the school soon spread. Kip McGrath Aylesbury became known as the place to study the 11+/12+ and GCSEs. We’re also an established, registered exam centre open to all who wish to take GCSEs and A Levels. “We teach Maths, English, Science, History and Geography and now have 160 students attending weekly lessons, 12 teachers and two administrative staff and we are poised to expand further. New initiatives include Early Learners, the Cool Education Club (during holidays) and Adult English. “Today what gives me most pleasure is the sound of the mad dash up the stairs that is my students clamouring to learn! Michael still maintains links with Zimbabwe and The Gambia. Kip Aylesbury is twinned

Vale Life : March / April 2011

EVENTS CALENDAR March 16th: 11+ Parents Evening (7.30pm to 9pm) April 12th: GSCE Revision English & Maths (10am—1pm) April 13th: GCSE Revision English (10am—1pm) April 14th: Cool Ed Club April 19th: GCSE Revision English & Maths (10am—1pm) April 20th: GCSE Revision English (10am—1pm) May 11th: 11+ Parents Evening (7.30 pm to 9.00 pm)

Pupils quiz each other during their break

with Bondolphi Primary School and pays school fees for 26 children. He is very proud that this year his first student from the school will graduate from the University of Zimbabwe with a degree in accountancy. A new website: is to be launched this month. “I’m a global citizen who believes education is the best route out of poverty and injustice,” says Michael. “Canada is in the top five countries for education and social mobility while Canadians are known for their humanitarian work throughout the world.” So how does one enrol at Kip Aylesbury? It’s as easy as calling up Michael on 01296 747500 and talking to him about your child’s progress at school. He will then invite you to visit the centre with your child for a free, no obligation assessment. If you are impressed with the centre you may enrol your child straight away. The centre is Ofsted registered and accepts childcare vouchers.

Michael will then draw up a Personal Education Plan (PEP) for your child taking into consideration the assessment results and your concerns. These PEPs are updated termly so you’re always in step with your child’s progress. Day one at Kip Aylesbury begins with a free Rumsey’s ice-cream for your child. If you wish, you may chill out in the comfortable, wified waiting room during the lesson and enjoy a free mug of tea and pile of biscuits. There is a short break during the lessons when children can refuel on fresh fruit and bottled water and socialise with their friends. New competitions, quizzes and displays make the breaks go far too quickly, the time whizzes by and children often complain the lesson’s over too soon. “The one ‘problem’ we have here,” says Michael, “is that the kids don’t want to leave! “We think it’s important to develop independent learners - enthusiastic learners who want to enquire about things. With the big classes in schools these days the love of learning has been somewhat lost. I’m passionate about learning and teaching and I try to convey that through my teachers - it is part of the ethos of this centre. “We support students’ schoolwork and the national curriculum. We also teach social skills, handwriting techniques, problem solving and

May 18th: Open Evening for Prospective Parents (6pm-8pm)

public speaking. In addition, we debate current affairs and believe in enriching general knowledge. We recently had an interactive display on money. Our children had to discuss for example, which historical figures featured on £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes and why. “We often spot gaps in the curriculum which we help fill - for example geographical facts (children go abroad on holidays but often can’t locate the country on a map). “We create independent learners who are encouraged to take ownership of their PEP targets and we enjoy far more interaction with parents than most schools as we often see them for a chat when they pick up.” All the teachers at Kip McGrath Aylesbury are professionally qualified and experienced. Michael admits that when recruiting he also looks for dynamism, passion and subject knowledge. Every parent deserves to know how well their child is doing at school. Often a school will maintain all is fine and ‘on track’ but on track for what? It is important not to make assumptions about your child’s ability and to get an educational assessment as early as possible in order to evaluate your child’s needs. If you wish to find out more about your child joining Kip Aylesbury, Michael invites you to an Open Evening on May 18th, from 6pm to 8pm. You will be given a guided tour and presentation and light refreshments will be served. To book simply call 01296 747500 or log on to the website: l Kip McGrath Education Centre, The Cocoa Pod, 74 Oxford Road, Stone, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP17 8PL. Tel: 01296 747500 Email: Website:

Vale Life : March / April 2011


Vale Life : March / April 2011

Tomayto Tomaaahto

Chow down with the Vale’s own American foodwriter

Our farm diary from Richard and Rosemary Hilsdon who run Boycott Farm, near Stowe, with its popular farm shop and restaurant. Rosemary checks on her chickens


Ruby McLee

thought I caught a glimpse of spring this morning. Daffodils blooming, birds singing and glorious sun shining over the garden. It lasted all of an hour. Such is life on this rainy island, but no matter – it was enough to cheer my sun-starved soul. In fact, it did even more than that. I was so inspired that I created a gorgeous, light and lemony, bubbly champagne cake, decorated with fresh flowers. The very sight of it put smiles on everyone’s faces and the first bite led me to daydream other excuses to bake this again. Such occasions are rampant this time of year - Mother’s Day, Easter, even a royal wedding. But you don’t really need an excuse, do you? Go on - bake up a bite of spring and spread the joy!

Blooming Champagne Cake What You Need:


ooray!Spring is finally here and along with enough newborns to fill Stoke Mandeville maternity unit, we’ve had another special delivery here at Boycott Farm – a new butcher! Adrian joined us at the beginning of March to head our butchery team and he’s already doing a fantastic job. We have been extremely busy on the farm, repairing the fencing ready for when the cattle go back out to the open fields to graze. They need to be secure so the animals don’t escape. We don’t think the residents of Buckingham would appreciate our herd of Aberdeen Angus rampaging down the High Street. On the 26th March we are holding our Spring Celebration Day. This annual event is a chance to share all that is good in the new season with our customers. The hi-light of the day is a delicious pig roast featuring our Gloucester Old Spot pork. Poor Richard has to get up to start the roaster at 4am in the morning but his dedication to our taste buds is much appreciated! Our hens continue to keep Rosemary occupied when she’s not busy in the kitchen. She has been preparing for a Red Lion Code inspection checking standards for our free range egg production are up to scratch. Happily we passed with flying colours. The hens, of course, are totally oblivious to all this. They are celebrating the fact that the mud is drying up so they can get back to scratching around in the dust, which they love, without getting mucky feet. Staying in and cooking is the new “going out” so we have decided to hold regular butchery demonstrations and recipe tastings for our customers, to inspire the use of different cuts of meat. The first one showed selected cuts from a fore quarter of beef. It was a great success. Everyone left with full tummies and plenty of ideas. All the recipes are on our website and the next demonstration is on Saturday 2nd April. l Boycott Farm, Welsh Lane, Stowe, Buckinghamshire, MK18 5DJ. Telephone: 01280 821286. Email: shop@ Website:


Vale Life : March / April 2011

For the cake: 2 eggs For the icing: 250g caster sugar 2 cups icing sugar 1 tsp. vanilla extract ¼ cup sparkling wine Zest of 1 lemon 2 Tbsp lemon juice 1 cup rapeseed (or sunflower) oil 1 cup sparkling wine (minus 1 sip – to test quality of course) 250g self-raising flour What You Do: 1. Preheat oven to 170C/340F/Gas Mark 3.5 2. Grease and line a standard (8”) cake tin – square or round. 3. Beat eggs, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest together until frothy. 4. Add oil and sparkling wine and beat gently for about 30 seconds. 5. Sift in flour and mix well. 6. Bake for 45 minutes (or until done). 7. Cool for 20 minutes, then de-mould. Place cake upside-down (flat side up) on the cooling rack until completely cool. 8. Prepare icing by mixing icing sugar with sparkling wine. When smooth, add lemon juice until it drips but is not too runny. 9. Gently pour icing over the top, encouraging it to drip over the sides. Keep adding more to the centre (it spreads out to the edges and down) until you have a nice solid white layer on the top. 10. Decorate with fresh flowers. Edible flowers include roses, nasturtium, violets and many more. Ask at your florist or garden centre. If unsure whether the flowers you use are edible, play it safe and remove them before serving. 11. Enjoy with a glass of bubbly and say a toast to your mother, to Kate & Will, to a Happy Easter or simply to Spring!

Ruby McLee is a local writer, photographer and author of popular food blog Tomayto Tomaaahto, which you can read online at

l Column: Matt Brown - One Hungry Man


scar Wilde once said that it is always with the best intentions that the worst work is done. This was demonstrated to me at a very young age. I had expressed a love throughout my childhood for the work of Raymond Briggs. I had sat entranced at Christmas and watched The Snowman, I roared with laughter at his grumpy and belligerent Father Christmas and devoured every sentence and snot-filled drawing of Fungus The Bogeyman. It is not surprising then that one day my mother brought home a VHS copy of a new Briggs’ animation called When The Wind Blows. For those of you unfamiliar with this work, it tells the story of a lovely old husband and wife in the run up to and aftershock of a nuclear war. It highlights with brutal clarity how following the then Government’s guidelines would lead to misery, skin disease and a slow, painful and certain death. I was eleven when I saw this and it scared the

Matt Brown

ONE Hungry Man

l Listen to Matt Brown on Heart Breakfast With Matt and Michelle (weekdays 6-9am 102.6FM). Tweet Matt at

bejaysus out of me. For many years I wrestled with the fear of this devastating nightmare coming true. As the Cold War thawed the fear receded although I have always been troubled by one question. What skill would I bring to a post-apocalyptic future..? I’m no good with my hands so I can’t build things. I have little knowledge of flora and fauna so I wouldn’t be much use as

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Vale Life : March / April 2011

a farmer. I get an electrician stew if you have to go to your out to change a plug so I can’t Anderson shelter mid-meal. fix things. Well, now I worry no By the time you read this we longer as my mother-in-law has may well be in the throes of Kate come to the rescue. I’m going to and William wedding fever. If cook food for everyone. Hooray! you are planning a street party I love cookbooks but not the or cul-de-sac jamboree then the beautifully photographed and ‘Cooking In Times Of Emergency’ wittily written cookbook has come Mmmm! Prune pudding volumes of Nigella, up trumps. It has Jamie or Nigel. No, recipes for all I love cookbooks manner of tasty that you might treats to amaze categorise as crap your friends and cook books. I have neighbours. Why not a stupendous barbeserve up some delicue cookbook from cious savoury tripe the 1970s where a casserole, followed plate of brown food by some Brains au is never without a carved tomato Gratin and finish the meal off garnish. I have a cookbook called with prune pudding*, see pic! ‘Gourmet Cooking’ where a dish If you want to throw a Royal called ‘Pacific Pie’ is topped Wedding party that your street with broken ready salted crisps will never forget then just email (gourmet indeed). Last week my me ( and m-i-l gave me a cookbook called I’ll send you the recipes. And ‘Cooking In Times Of Emershould we ever experience an gency’. It was published during apocalyptic event that plunges WW2 and it is incredible. There the world into a pre-industrial is a whole chapter called ‘Air dystopia then come on over and Raid Interruptions’, which details I’ll pop the kettle on. what you should do to a cake or *yes these dishes are all real !

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Vale Life : March / April 2011

Oilseed Rape or Brassica Napus has been around for at least 4,000 years. Previously used to light lamps and lubricate steam engines a local press is showing it to be the gourmet’s oil of choice...


imon Mead’s family has been farming in the Chilterns since the 1800s. It is thought the family came out from London to produce hay and straw for the city’s working horses. Simon and cousin Chris Mead, the son of his father’s brother, are now the sixth generation to farm here, they are partners in the business as were their fathers.. Simon was born on Gubblecote Farm near Tring and moved, aged 6, with his family to Wilstone Great Farm, purchased from the Rothschild Estate by Simon’s grandfather. The cousins produce a mixture of arable crops, beef and sheep: “It’s about diversification,” says Simon. “For the last twenty years it’s been difficult in the farming business and we’ve had to try and find new ways of making it work as traditional crops are no longer viable.” It’s a familiar story to Vale Life readers, but one that continues to demonstrate the initiative and determination of our farmers. “We now produce charcoal, have stables for livery and process firewood, says Simon. “Our most successful diversification to date has been our farm shop and our latest project, the production of extra virgin rapeseed oil, from our own oilseed rape, which is pressed and bottled at Wilstone Great Farm.” It’s hard to believe that the Mead’s impressive farm shop and restaurant, by Wilstone reservoir started life in the 60s as a tea trolley at the side of the road! In those days a few eggs and home produced seasonal vegetables were left out and payment made via an honesty box. “It attracted two types of customer”, laughs Simon, “the ones that paid and those that didn’t! The tea trolley became a barrow and then a shed: “In the 70s everyone had a big chest Rape seed

The press


Vale Life : March / April 2011

Simon Mead

deepfreeze,” says Simon “and would buy vegetables in bulk for freezing. We’d harvest fields of carrots and sell the whole lot in a weekend. Now you can buy all year round in the supermarkets people don’t bother stocking up. “In 1985 we built a small fruit and vegetable shop and introduced some new lines including plants, pet food, composts and firewood, but by the mid 90s we needed more space again and applied for planning permission to convert a beautiful, old, grade II listed tithe barn. We eventually got the funds together in 2003, with a grant and the sale of some fields, and were able to get started. “The extra space allows us to market our home produced beef and lamb and a range of locally sourced and speciality foods. We have also incorporated a tea room and gift shop. “It’s been the best thing we’ve done. It’s been very well supported by the public and seeing people’s increased interest in where their food comes from has given us the confidence to start producing our own Chiltern The oil is left to settle in a vat and impurities are strained out

Chris Mead

cold pressed extra virgin rapeseed oil. Simon’s rapeseed oil has indeed been a success story. It has a delicious, light, nutty flavour and is rich in omega 3, 6 and 9. It contains no artificial flavourings or preservatives and is naturally high in vitamin E. It’s a versatile oil ideal for dressings and marinades or cooking. “The rape is harvested at the end of July,” says Simon. “and the seed is stored at the farm. The oil content is between 42% and 45%. We cold press - one pressing like an extra virgin olive oil. There’s no chemicals or heat involved like there would be if we sold it to one of the big refineries. They use heat and chemicals to get more of the oil out. They deodorize and bleach the oil destroying all the natural goodness and actually have to fortify it with vitamin E afterwards to give it a shelf life! Ours is completely natural. We’re left with a meal which contains about 15% oil. We use it as a high protein feed for the cattle. “Our Chiltern Coldpressed has got half Bottling


Vale Life : March / April 2011

Simon’s father David with some of the calves

Trina and Shamus

Simon bottling a new pressing of rapeseed oil the saturated fats of olive oil, it’s got 10 times more Omega 3 and it’s got a higher smoke point so you can use it for stir frying and roasting - it does a fantastic roast potato! “We also sell the oil infused with garlic, lemon, basil, thyme and chilli which is good on salads and with pasta.” Last year Chiltern Coldpressed won national recognition when awarded Two Gold Stars at the Great Taste Awards. The awards honour those who make truly great-tasting food and drink and help small, artisan producers improve their products with feedback from the experts. The two star rating is the second highest and means the judges thought the oil ‘exquisite’. Alongside the rapeseed oil Mead’s farm shop stocks a stunning selection of home produced and locally sourced produce, from fresh fruit and vegetables to lamb and beef from the farm, local sausages and bacon, cakes, biscuits, jams, chutney, honey... it’s a long list! The Meads have sourced some fabulous

local producers from biscuits baked at Stoke Mandeville by Just Biscuits to Heygates Flour from their mill on the canal at Tring and Beechdean Icecream from Speen among others. See their website at: for more information. “A lot of farmers are struggling,” says Simon. “Dairy is on the way out - there’s only eight or nine dairy farms left in Hertfordshire now, there used to be 30. “We’ve got cattle here for beef, mostly Aberdeen Angus Fresian crosses. They come at about three months old from a dairy farm where they’ve calved the heifers to get their milk going. “We have about 200 but because the dairies are going out of business there are less calves around, so the price has shot up. They can cost between £300 and £400 each. The price of Aberdeen Angus has been further driven up because it’s so popular in the supermarkets. “The Angus has fat marbling in the meat, Hereford’s do too, which produces a nice moist beef when cooked. It is more popular here than continental breeds like Charolais. “We have sheep too, just enough to produce lamb for the farm shop. “We process timber and sell about 500 tons a year of seasoned firewood. We bring the tree trunks in from locally managed woodland, it’s mostly beech and sycamore at the moment.” The Meads have an impressive set up on the farm. Simon is not afraid to invest in new machinery. He’s streamlined his rape seed sowing with a new machine that takes out the need for ploughing before sowing. It ploughs and sows the seed in one pass and they then just need rolling in. He’s got log sawing and kindling machines, his oil press is state of the art and he’s the

proud owner of a large combine harvester. “I do all the harvesting,” he smiles “I drive the combine harvester and we contract out to harvest for other local farms as well as our own. I’ve helped with the harvest since I was a lad! Things have changed a lot over the years but it’s nice to produce something to sell directly to the consumer. You get instant feedback and appreciation. You really feel you have achieved something. It gives you a buzz when people tell you that your steak was fantastic or the potatoes they roasted in your oil were lovely and crispy.” It’s not an easy life. Simon is often up in the early hours to bring the best fresh produce back from London’s markets. “My wife Jenny helps out with the day to day running of the shop and does the books and a lot of rushing about,” he says. “Over the next few weeks we’re getting the oil orders out, getting ahead on the logs so they will be properly seasoned before they go out to customers. Then we’ll be on the fields as soon as it drys up, putting down fertiliser and looking after the crops.” Next year’s rape is already in the ground, it takes a year to mature and the pigeons love it, so that’s another problem for Simon to deal with! He’s up for the challenge though and with his Chiltern Coldpress rapeseed oil now winning prizes and the Meads’ fabulous farm shop drawing foodies in from far and wide it looks like Simon and family may have found their recipe for success. l PE Mead & Sons Farm Shop, Wilstone Green, Wilstone, Tring , Herts. HP23 4PA. Tel: 01442 828478. Website: Chiltern Coldpressed Website:


Vale Life : March / April 2011


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Tues 22 Spring Drive - Cotswold Villages £15 Wed 23 Cite Europe & Belgium £35 Sun 27 Sewing for Pleasure & Hobbycrafts, NEC Birmingham £29 Sun 27 Birmingham Bull Ring Shopping £16


Mon 18 Titanic Exhibition, 02 London £35 Wed 20 London Eye & Covent Garden £35 Sat 23 Exbury Gardens £26 Sun 24 Brighton £19 Sun 24 Easter in Brugge £35 Sun 24 Jersey Boys & 2 Course Lunch £75 Sun 24 Festival of Steam at Chatham Dockyard £26

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Vale Life : March / April 2011

Kingston Blount Point to Point Race Meetings: Season 2011


omic trio The Boom Jennies, described as ‘oddly charming’, return to Thame this April with an hilarious hour of unbridled fun - their hit comedy show. Expect a boisterous sketch carnival, pingponging from the sharply observed to the slightly surreal. Two of the trio Anna and Lizzie met while attending Lord Williams’s School where, aged 12, they joined Thame Youth Theatre. Their first comedy sketches together were performed at the annual Thame Youth Theatre cabaret night. A few years later Anna and Lizzie met Catriona while studying English at Bristol University. After graduating the threesome moved to London to pursue a career in comedy, distracting Catriona from a career as a serious actress to join them. The girls are now regular per-

formers on the London Comedy Circuit and have taken shows to the Edinburgh Fringe four times. In May they will be taking an hour-long sketch show to the Brighton Festival Fringe. Boom Jennies’ sketches recently featured on BBC Radio Oxford’s Extraordinary Trumping and the


Beverley Craven

Plus Special Guests: Shed@ThePark Theatre Company

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Kimblewick Meeting: 10th April First Race 2PM Kimblewick Meeting: 7th May First Race 2PM Berks & Bucks Draghounds Meeting: 29th May First Race 2.30PM Tickets £15 to £25 per car available on gate or in advance from 01494 881321 This year’s Easter meet at Kimble Raceourse is on Saturday, April 23rd

Local youth bands to play for thousands

Kindly supported by Wycombe District Council and Mr Craig Rennie

In Aid Of Helen & Douglas House...


girls are currently developing a sitcom idea and a pitch for BBC Radio 4, as well as working on various solo projects. Their Thame performance at the Phoenix Studio, Lord Williams’s Lower School on Saturday April 2nd is a fundraiser for the school. A half hour support act of funny sketches performed by senior members of Thame Youth Theatre and a variety of local talent will be followed after the interval by an hour of boisterous sketches from The Boom Jennies themselves. The event, kindly sponsored by the Spread Eagle Hotel, Thame, promises to be a rib-tickling night out! Doors 7.15pm for 8pm performance. Bar available. Tickets price £10/£8 are available in advance from Julie Anne’s Shoe Boutique, The Buttermarket, Thame or Phoenix Tickets on 01844 212619.

Registered Charity Number: 1085951

Grass Roots, organisers of this summer’s Spirit of Tring music festival, has announced a competition to give three local bands the chance to play on stage in front of thousands of people. The competition - Play Live - is open to bands whose members are under 25 years and who are based in the area between Aylesbury and Hemel Hempstead. Entries will be judged on videos posted on You Tube and shown on the Spirit of Tring website. Each band that enters can post one song, less than four minutes long, which will be reviewed by a panel of judges from Grass Roots and event partners. The judges will take into account the number of You Tube hits that each video gets. Winners will perform on stage at Spirit of Tring on Saturday June 4, from 5pm when the doors open, with each band playing to a crowd that the organizers anticipate could be as large as 5,000 people. The Play Live winners will be followed by the well known 70s soul, funk and disco tribute Planet Funk and then the Music of ABBA, performed by players from the West End hit musical Mamma Mia and backed by the English National Orchestra. The Spirit of Tring festival opens on Friday June 3 with The Great British Proms classical spectacular. Full details of the concerts and how to enter Play Live are available at or by emailing The Spirit of Tring concerts are part of the Tring Summer Festival, not for profit and aim to raise money for local community organizations. Vale Life : March / April 2011

Tickets: £20


Vale Life : March / April 2011

What’s got music, dance, street theatre, a huge real ale bar, mountains of festival food, storytelling, workshops, craft and music fairs, poetry, visual art and sculpture... and it’s right on your doorstep?


estivals have become a big part of the British Summer. They offer an escape from the stresses and strains of daily life,” says Towersey Festival organiser Joe Heap. “They can be a fun ‘staycation’ providing an idyllic setting with great entertainment, unique experiences and memories that will last forever. “If you have been to a good festival, says Joe, “you will know what we mean and if you haven’t you should try one!” Vale Life had a fabulous time at last year’s event and asked Joe to give us a taste of what’s in store this coming August Bank Holiday weekend. “People go for all sorts of reasons,” says Joe, “the music, the atmosphere, a day out, entertainment for the children, meeting up with old friends and making

new ones. “More people are going than ever before. It’s a growing trend. And what’s more, living in the Vale it’s easy to take part!” It’s true although there are loads of festivals all over the country - see our festival guide at we have one of the best on our doorstep! Towersey is an Oxfordshire Festival (the village is just outside Thame) that prides itself on ‘The Festival Experience’. It’s much more than a great line-up, offering all the buzz, atmosphere, magic and colour that you would expect from any major festival but with a villagey feel and it’s just down the road. “Watch, listen, learn, chat, laugh, eat, and drink,” says Joe, “ and then we’ve got eight performance stages, a huge children’s festival, a massive real ale bar, a unique youth project

‘Shooting Roots’, Late Night Clubs, a vast array of world cuisine and the special Towersey atmosphere as we take a real pride in making the festival like ‘another lovelier world’.” Join the thousands that make a Festival part of their summer every year and get your dose of Festival magic at Toweresey. “There are many ways to take in Towersey, says Joe, “you can... Do the whole thing... Get stuck in for the whole festival and you will soon find yourself part of a very special group. Festival goers become like family; your campsite neighbours become lifelong friends and you come away with a sense of fulfilment and wish it was next year already. Adult tickets from £98 for the whole 4 days. Join in for a day... Pop down for the day and immerse yourself. Just like being there for the whole thing but you have to drag yourself away at the end of the day! A night out for just one gig... At Towersey we offer an evening ticket (which also gives

you access to the festival experience site). Each night gives you a warm up, headline artist and a late night dance. It’s like a mini festival in one night. Or just get a taste... Our “Festival Experience” ticket is available on the day and gives you access to The Showground. Here you will find all the atmosphere of the festival, a real ale bar, loads of great food, music, street theatre and surprises round every corner. All yours from Sat – Mon.” Towersey, it’s your local festival! Tickets and information from the festival website at:

Vale Life : March / April 2011

Don’t miss the forthcoming Art and Craft fair at Thame Town Hall, there’s some exceptional talent on display...


he vale is full of talented folk producing, delightful, interesting and exciting works of art and craft. Individual, different and made by local craftspeople the pieces are great for gifts, but often even better for displaying and enjoying in your own home. Sally Evans Events puts on fabulous Art and Craft shows around the South Buckinghamshire area. The lady loves her art and has a great eye for what’s different, stylish and affordable. Sally began promoting artists and craftspeople about six years ago with a small local event. Since then the venture has grown and she now stages several regular events in Thame and Wendover every year. Sally’s Art and Craft Market is back at Thame Town Hall on Saturday, April 2nd and at The Memorial Hall in Wendover on Saturday, May 21st so put the dates in your diary now! Star of the next show has to be one of Britain’s most popular and highly regarded artist/illustrators Paul Slater. Paul graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1978 and has seen his work appear in countless newspapers, magazines and advertising campaigns. His illustrations are quirky, imaginative and witty and can be found in collections all over the world. See ‘Boy Hairdresser’ right for a classic example of his style. Jeremy White and Godfrey Thorpe return to exhibit their ceramics once again. Jeremy works in high fired stoneware. Natural forms and landscapes influence his work

Print by Thame artist Kim Osborne

Boy Hairdresser illustration by Paul Slater

Jeremy White ceramic

‘Quixote’ tiles by Godfrey Thorpe

which he forms both by hand building techniques and wheel throwing. His finished pieces are a marriage of shape, form and glaze-effects. Godfrey, fascinated by symmetry and optical illusion, is developing a style of tile that incorporates a form of Op Art motives and patterns, derived from natural and historical sources. He is particularly interested in exploring the effect of light and shadows in 3D pieces. Amanda Wheaton graduated from Buckingham University with a BA (Hons) in designed metalwork and jewellery. Her work is an eclectic mix of functional and sculptural items. She re-uses copper with a contrast of finish; highly polished with various different patinas. Amanda Wheaton Re-used copper with a natural patina to one side

Sarah Booth exhibits fascinating and beautiful black and white prints taken by her late father John E.A. Bolton. John was born in Harrow and worked in London. The majority of his photographs were taken in the 1950s and 60s. He had his own darkroom at the family home in Hyde Heath. A keen member of local camera clubs and photographic societies he won several awards for his work in annual exhibitions. Other exhibitors include: Barbara Menzies, painter; David Shepherdson, wooden pens; Anna Franklin, illustrative design and original gifts; Terry Castle, woodturner; Elspeth J Hector, knitted accessories,

knitted wire bracelets and ‘curious creatures’; Alison Greenhalgh organic gardeners gift baskets; Janice Hulme, mixed media art; Christine Crocker, silver jewellery; Zillah Moore, strawsilk covered glassware and candles; Jazzy Lily, glass jewellery; By Hand Books, handmade books and contemporary bindings; Mick Randall, Woodcraft. Sally’s own stand with handmade jewellery designed by Dutch designer Zsiska. Open from 10am to 4pm. £1 entrance, profits to local charities. There is plenty of parking close by at both venues. l For more information please contact Sally on 01296 696747 or Email: Vale Life : March / April 2011


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  

Vale Life Magazine Mar-Apr 2011  

Lifestyle magazine for Aylesbury Vale area of UK

Vale Life Magazine Mar-Apr 2011  

Lifestyle magazine for Aylesbury Vale area of UK