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Take me home

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Vale Life

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

Feb/Mar 2012 See our website at: www.vale-life.co.uk

Free local listings for events and businesses

Inside:

The Hairy Stick:

Time to call in the professionals?

Chipping away:

Stoneworld celebrates 10 years

Thing called love:

Perfect gifts at the White Hart Studio

Journey’s End

Can Raymond Blanc improve on perfection?

Penny, Ruby, Matt and much, much more... Cover image: Portrait modelling class at Phoenix Studio, Towersey

w What’s for dinner? book w Tickets to the country living spring fair w w dinner for Two at the bugle horn w Gossard Lingerie set w oil diffuser w


LOVE SHUTTERS

20% OFF

order before vaLentine’s day 2012

Love shutters for functionaLity and beauty at Peter John we simply Love shutters, they offer unsurpassed flexibility in design and installation styles and are perfect for both traditional and contemporary interiors. our range of s:craft shutters offer many benefits (in addition to their aesthetics) and can fit practically any window shape and style you can imagine, from simple square frames to bays, patio doors, conservatory and sash windows or even as a room partition or wardrobe door. Contact us now to benefit from Love Shutters and an honest (no strings attached) 20% OFF - offer valid until 14th Feb 2012 E: enquiries@peterjohn.co.uk W: www.peterjohn.co.uk Visit our showrooms: 250 high street, berkhamsted, hP4 1aQ t: 01442 873093 or barclays house, Gatehouse Way, aylesbury, hP19 8db t: 01296 398301 We are an accredited S:CRAFT Licensed Master Partner providing industry leading levels of service, from initial consultation to ensure the best aesthetic solution to a hassle free installation.

Specialists in beds and bedroom furniture

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Contemporary and traditional bedroom furniture Hypnos ex-showroom stock at clearance prices. Sets from ÂŁ499

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Viewing by appointment Crendon Furniture Outlet

Unit 4C, Drakes Drive, Long Crendon Industrial Estate Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire HP18 9BA

Tel: 01844 202418 www.crendonfurniture.co.uk 2

Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012


not le y abbe y, nr. tha me

b ot l e y s m a n sion n r . c h ert se y

c a i n m a nor n r . fa r n h a m

si lc h e s ter house n r . reading

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St Teresa’s

St Teresa’s Independent Catholic School and Nursery

INDEPENDENT SCHOOL AND NURSERY

A Catholic school for children of all faiths

OPEN MORNINGS Thursday, Feb 23rd Aylesbury Road, 10am to 12noon Princes Risborough, Bucks, HP27 0JW

Saturday, Feb 19th (next door to 10am toCatholic 12noon

church, diagonally opposite Tesco) Thursday, June

14th 10am to 12noon

Phone: 01844 345005

• • • • • • • • • •

‘An inclusive Catholic School’

Co-educational 150 on roll aged 2½ to 11 Small classes in a caring environment Care from 07:30 to 18:00 during term time rising 3 to 11 l Small classes; co-educational; High academic standards & excellent results l High11+ academic standards in SATs, and common entrance with excellent Balanced & well-rounded education results in SATS, 11+ and Common Entrance focusing on each child as an individual examinations Exceedingly high level of expectation l Balanced andfrom well-rounded French, PE and ICT Nursery class education Special education focusing onneeds eachsupport child as a unique individual Clubs & societies for all year groups l Excellent pastoral care Wide range of sporting opportunities, l Wideswimming range of&clubs, music tuition and including inter-school fixtures Music tuition inopportunities. a variety of instruments sporting

Member Independent Schools Association Careoffrom 7.45am to 6pm (term time only) You are also welcome l Independent Schools Conference Bursaries available to view the school l& Catholic l Up to 15 hours free nursery education at any other time. Please call the school per week (3-5yrs) office to make an l Number 55 in the ‘Sunday Times’ appointment Top 100 School’s’ list

www.st-teresas.bucks.sch.uk

office@st-teresas.bucks.sch.uk

Aylesbury Road, Princes Risborough, Bucks, HP27 0JW (next to the church and opposite the Tesco store) Tel: 01844 345005 Website: www.st-teresas.bucks.sch.uk

The best days of

Our pupils are our best advert; come and see for yourself

Open Morning SATURDAY 3RD MARCH 2012 Come and visit, you can be assured of a warm welcome

IAPs, Co-Ed, Boarding and Day, Prep School for 3-13 year olds

www.swanbourne.org 4

Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Aylesbury College

Open Day Friday 2nd March 2012, 2pm-6pm Saturday 3rd March 2012, 10am-2pm • • •

Full and part time courses to meet everyone’s needs. Discuss your options and visit our state-of-the-art facilities. Tutors available from every section of the curriculum to answer questions and help with your application.

Register for the Open Day NOW:

Call 01296 588 595 or email OpenDay@Aylesbury.ac.uk For further information, please visit our website www.aylesbury.ac.uk Individuals Wanted

your life • Excellent Academic Record • Small friendly classes • Beautiful location • Excellent facilities • After School Care and Holiday Clubs

For details contact Mrs C Hollowday

01296 720264

office@swanbourne.org


GOLD GOLD GOLD

Top Prices Paid In Cash For Your Scrap Precious Metals Including Unwanted Jewellery, Coins & Watches. Part Exchange Available

A B C AYLESBURY BULLION COMPANY The Family of Jewellers

11a, St Aylesbury Buckinghamshire HP201SH 1SH 11aHigh High Street, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP20

01296 423198 Tel: 01296Tel: 423198 Web: www.aylesburybullion.co.uk


Luxury Coach Holidays

DayTrips,Theatres & Shows Join one of our great value tours! el.com .mottstrav w w w : e n nli Book o Downton Abbey / Highclere Castle: 4 Days: Walk the streets of Bampton, film location for Downton Abbey - in real life Highclere Castle, on this nostalgic tour. Package includes: Luxury Coach Travel, 3 Nights with breakfast & dinner at a 4 star Marriott Hotel (free use of leisure facilities), excursion to Highclere & Bampton plus Lacock Village & Abbey. Choice of dates: April 13th, May 4th, July 13th, Aug 24th. From only £224! Floriade 2012: 4 Days Staged only once every 10 years Floriade is set to be a truly remarkable and unmissable event. We stay at the Grand Monopole Hotel in Valkenburg for 3 nights on half board and our package includes entry to Floriade plus an excursion to Aachen in Germany. Choice of dates: Easter, April 6, April 27, May 18, June 8 & 15, Aug 10, Sept 7: £349

Isle of Wight: 4, 5 & 7 Days Splendid white cliffs, sparkling waters and picturesque villages, just 5 miles off the mainland coast, make our holiday based in Shanklin a must for 2012! Hotel voted our customers’ favourite for many years. Choice of 4, 5 or 7 day holidays. Visits to Ventnor, Freshwater Bay, Cowes, Godshill, The Needles & Allum Bay. 7 day tours also include an optional visit to Osborne House. All include half board, 2 excursions on 5 & 7 day holidays. Choice of dates: Easter 4 Days Apr 6th £256 5 Days: Mar 26, Apr 23, Oct 8: from £299 7 Days May 27, Jun 17, July 1, 22, 29, Aug 12 & 26, Sept 16 & 30: from £499 All holidays are subject to Single room supplements and Travel Insurance if required. 2012 DAY TRIPS ON SALES NOW! Chelsea Flower Show, Hampton Court, Highclere Castle, Thursford Christmas Show (book early!) London Olympic Explorers, Theatre Trips, Loose Women TV, Royal Ascot Ladies Day, Orient Express Aug 16 (new date due to sell out of June tour!)

See our 2012 brochure for many more holidays... British Seaside Resorts - Special Event Breaks - Garden Weekends - Scotland, Ireland & Isle of Man - Bulbfields - Spain - Battlefield Tours - Italy - Switzerland & Portugal

Motts Holidays 4 Buckingham Street, Aylesbury, HP20 2LD BOOKING HOTLINE: 01296 336666 6

Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012


Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

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

Spread the word across The Vale: see: www.vale-life.co.uk for details

Contents

24

Growing greener

Gimme some lovin’

26

Hot up your plot

Sweets for my sweet

28

Coffee and cocktails

12 Thing called love

30

Journey’s end

Flat as a pancake

32

Go with the flow

Muddy Stilettos

34

Heart of the matter

Glass act

38

Curtain’s up

Chipping away

40

Quite a collection

Hairy stick

42

3’s company

Hot off the press

44

High Performance

7 8 10

14 15 17 18 21 23

Guide to inside and a job offer from the Ed What’s it all about, Valentine? Pick’n’mix at this ladies’ boutique A perfect gift for the one you love? Our beady eyes are on Penny Hero’s urban guide to the country Beautiful things for your home The rise and rise of Stoneworld Call in the professionals Free printers in U-Print deal

Florist plans some British blooms Naomi with the garden trends Tomayto Tomaaahto and One Hungry Man There’s nine steps to heaven at Le Manoir Loose your creative juice Sir Steve supports sporty campaign What’s on at Waterside Guitars, guitars, guitars... Cars serviced with a smile Tune in for auto talk

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ongratulations to the following Dec/Jan edition competition winners! Hopefully your prizes will have arrived by now, let us know if not. Commiserations to those who weren’t

around the Vale and meeting so many interesting and inspiring people. There is so much going on and so many great local producers and service providers, we will never be short of things to write about! Of course as things develop it creates more work and we are now looking for people who might like to help out. The roles will be part-time and involve interacting with the local community so you should be a friendly, mature, polite person, enthusiastic, self-motivated and well organised, with good communication skills and able to use a computer. There are numerous other skills

that might come in handy but an interest in what is going on around you and the fact that you love Vale Life Magazine will be good starting points! I would also be interested to hear from people who have office systems/secretarial/pa experience. Please send an email describing yourself, why you would like to work for Vale Life and any relevant skills/ experience you feel might make you an ideal person to work with. Experience in coping with a grumpy stressed-out editor will be gained once you start...

so lucky - read on though for more competitions inside this edition, including the chance to win: a signed copy of ‘What’s For Dinner?’ by Romilla Arber; a pair of tickets to The Country Living Spring Fair; NEOM Luxury Organics candle and

diffuser sets; a set of lingerie from Gorgeous of Tring; and dinner for two at The Bugle Horn at Hartwell, Aylesbury. Last issue’s prizewinners were: A copy of Emotional Fitness: Barbara-Anne Cummings, Aylesbury and

w FooD w FASHioN w BeAuTY w

FREE MAGAZINE

Your free magazine for Aylesbury,

Thame and the surrounding area

HeALTH w TRAveL w

Aug/Sept 2011

Bathing Belles stiltwalkers at AylesburyOn-Sea event, Kingsbury Square Photograph taken by Danny Higgins: www.dannyhigginsphotography.co.uk See inside, page 28

Vale Life

w ART w MUSIC w PeoPle w PlACeS w hoMeS w GARdenS w TheATRe w food w fAShIon w BeAUTY w heAlTh w TRAvel w

FREE MAGAZINE

: Inside Design

Matt, Penny,

Fairford Leys: a Grand Artful Dent-istry in Stoke Mandeville Fancy a Bow-wow Pow-wow? What became of the Dinton Hermit? Ruby, Naomi and much, much more...

Your free magazine for Aylesbury, Thame and the surrounding area

Take me home

2

011 was an amazing year for Vale Life Magazine! Despite the economic gloom, which is making things difficult for many, the publication has continued to grow rapidly. We have received some lovely feedback from readers and advertisers and heard some amazing success stories about how our Vale Life articles and advertisements have helped boost trade for local businesses. We now boast 30,000 avid readers across the M40 to A41 area and our website is becoming increasingly popular with its free events diary and business directory. The best part is getting out

Vale Life w HoMeS w GARDeNS w THeATRe

Take me home

Fancy a job with Vale Life Magazine?

w ART w MuSic w PeoPLe w PLAceS

June/July 2011

TickeTS w w STRiPeY HAMMockS w WHiPSNADe w cHiLTeRNS cRAFT SHoW TickeTS BRiDe Book w AT THe SPReAD eAGLe w BeAuTiFuL w DiNNeR BeD AND BReAkFAST

Inside:

Commonwealth Gold medal winner Natalie Melmore photographed at Thame Bowls Club by Paul Wilkinson: www.paulwilkinsonphotography.co.uk See inside, page 24.

Stagging in Sydenham: Is murder on the menu? Bees Knees: Saving the humble bumble Student savvy: Cheap summer chic Guys and grooming: Could you be a UK Male Matt, Penny, Ruby, and much, much more...

w PAnTS foR heRoeS w hoRSe of The YeAR Show TICKeTS w lUSh STUff w w MeAl foR Two AT The PeACoCK w CAnAl wAlKS dvd w feSTIvAl CAMPInG w

Charlie

Charlie Trott: editor@vale-life.co.uk

David Symes, Tring. A copy of The British Olympics: Martin Kyle, Thame. Meal for two at Munchies Indian Restaurant, Fairford Leys: Debbie King, Aylesbury.

Front cover picture: clay modelling class at The Phoenix Studio, Towersey, nr Thame. 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: www.vale-life.co.uk Email: editor@vale-life.co.uk 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 www.magprint.co.uk

Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

7


Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

St Valentine’s Day is firmly etched into our modern calendar and celebrated by romantics the world over. It’s an excuse to express hidden longings or to confirm the depth of our feelings, but very little is known about St Valentine himself and why we celebrate him today...

I

f there’s a heartbeat of romance within you then you probably celebrate Valentine’s Day each year. In fact even if you don’t feel that romantic, or cynically believe it’s just one big commercial exercise designed to part you from your cash, the consequences of not observing the tradition would, for those with romantic partners, probably be too unpleasant to contemplate. Whether it’s spoiling the one you love, or even the one you lust after, with flowers or chocolate, a romantic dinner date, a card, or a sentimental trinket, the day is

coming up fast. But have you ever stopped to ask why we celebrate Valentine’s Day? There is much myth and confusion surrounding Saint Valentine, and the Catholic Church recognises several different ‘St Valentines’. Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II, Rome was involved in many bloody and unpopular wars. Claudius the Cruel was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join up and believed the reason was that Roman men did not want to leave their loved ones. So Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements! Valentinus was a priest in Rome

Body & Soul 59 Westmorland Avenue Aylesbury HP21 7HS Tel: 01296 434216

VALENTINE’S DAY OFFERS

15% OFF ALL GIFT VOUCHERS We stock Elemis Gift Bags plus other beautiful gifts for that special person on Valentine’s Day. Half price trainee appointments available on 4th and 18th February. Keep an eye out for our Mother’s Day promotion for Saturday 17th March.

www.bodyandsoulaylesbury.co.uk 8

Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

e v o l h it

w

at the time. He helped Christians and secretly married couples but was caught, dragged before the Prefect of Rome and condemned to death. Claudius took a liking to the prisoner, but Valentinus pushed his luck and tried to convert the Emperor to Christianity as well! Valentinus was beaten with clubs and stoned and then beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate. He suffered his martyrdom on the 14th day of February, around the year 270AD. Another legend tells of Valentine the prisoner, who had refused to deny Christ before the Emperor Claudius. Before his head was cut off, this Valentine restored sight and hearing to the daughter of the jailer. It is also said that while a prisoner, he fell in love with the daughter and wrote her a love letter signed ‘From your Valentine’. In ancient Rome, February 14th was a holiday to honour Juno, the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses. The Romans also knew her as the Goddess of women and marriage. The following day, February 15th, the Feast of

x

Lupercalia would begin. At that time the lives of boys and girls were strictly separate but on the eve of the festival of Lupercalia the names of Roman girls were written on slips of paper and placed into jars. Each young man would draw a girl’s name to partner for the duration of the festival. Sometimes the pairing of the youngsters lasted an entire year, and often, they would fall in love and later marry. The pastors of the early Christian Church in Rome endeavoured to do away with the pagan element in these feasts by substituting the names of saints for those of maidens. As Lupercalia began about the middle of February, the pastors appear to have chosen St Valentine’s Day for the name of this new feast and perhaps the association of couples with valentines, arose in this way. The feast of St. Valentine was first established in 496AD by Pope Gelasius I, who included Valentine among those ‘...whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God.’


Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Many of the current associations that characterise St Valentine’s Day were actually invented in the fourteenth century, in England, notably by Geoffrey Chaucer and his contemporaries and that is when the feast day of February 14th first became associated with romantic love. Whatever the history, St Valentine’s Day is now very much a part of our popular culture and can provide a lot of fun, romance and excitement for those who seize the moment. It doesn’t take much effort to tell someone you love them and only a little more to organise a card, or small gift. If money is tight, make one, it’ll be even more appreciated. If your budget does stretch a little further there’s lots of options, from a spa break to a gift voucher for a local salon, or boutique, a meal out, perfume, or even some sexy lingerie.... Biagio The Jewellers has shops in Thame and Bicester. The company is renowned for stocking items that are a little different and in addition to a stunning range of ready to wear items offers a Your Jewellery, Your Way bespoke service. You can choose a gemstone or diamond to suit your taste, choose a precious metal for the band, select a setting for the stone and specify what you would like to spend. Your ring will then be made especially for you. Biagio also has a comprehensive website with a ‘click and collect’ service - select online

and pick up from your local store, a complimentary gift wrapping service is available too. Gorgeous of Tring is an award-winning independent lingerie boutique at the far end of Tring High Street. Often described as ‘Tring’s best kept secret’ and established for six years now, Gorgeous specialises in bra fitting and offers ranges of bridal, mastectomy, maternity, and sports bras and sizes from A to K cup. Their fabulous collection of luxurious lingerie includes: Curvy Kate, Rosy, Panache, Masquerade, Little Minx, Bassoni, Gossard, Pour Moi?, Sielei, Shirley of Hollywood, Kris Line, Hot Milk and Royce. They also supply vintage and bridal lingerie, swimwear, hosiery and accessories from gloves and scarves to beautiful diamanté, pearl and costume jewellery, feather boas, hats, Italian leather handbags and much more... gift vouchers are available. Owner Elle, who is always happy to help and advise, is kindly offering Vale Life readers the chance to win a Gossard Collection lingerie set (bra and briefs). To be in with a chance email the answer to the following question, along with your name, address and telephone number to: editor@vale-life.co.uk. Which town is Gorgeous located in? Winner to be drawn at random and notified by email on Feb 29th, 2012. Winner will be required to visit store to choose actual set and size.

Win a Gossard lingerie set from Gorgeous of Tring

Your jewellery, Your way We design jewellery for you with great vision and creativity and I have always believed in making these designs affordable. Jewellery designed with the diamonds or gemstones you have dreamed of that doesn’t cost a king’s ransom is waiting for you at Biagios.

Biagio the Jewellers 19 Crown Walk, Bicester OX26 6HY 01869 252323 2 Greyhound Walk, Thame OX9 3DY 01844 217001

1. Choose your gemstone or diamond 2. Choose white, yellow or pink gold, palladium or platinum 3. Choose your setting 4. Decide what you would like to spend We then promise to give you the best gemstone or diamond in your chosen setting made by us for you.

email: biagio@biagiothejewellers.com

Order online biagiothejewellers.com FREE delivery on all orders to UK customers, we use Royal Mail Next Day Delivery. Jewellery arrives beautifully gift wrapped

Click and collect instore service

Biagios most recent designs for his customers

Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

9


Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

The world is full of pretty things and at this time of year if a girl isn’t getting what she deserves, (gift vouchers are available boys) she may have to take matters into her own hands. Beware though, you could end up like a child in a sweet shop...

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hocolate is Princes Risborough’s delightful new fashion boutique. Many ladies have already discovered the stylish store which opened last April on the High Street opposite Costa Coffee. Owner Jo Louis is delighted with the way things are going. “It’s been better than we could ever have hoped,” she says. “We had a very busy Christmas and now we’ve got our Spring collection coming in: more Anna Scott - lovely bright colours, Fransa and a couple of new brands: Noa Noa and French label, Modo et les Autres . We’ve a wider selection of jeans, by Peppercorn, Fransa and Anna Scott, bootleg, straight and skinny and reasonably

10

Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

priced. Desigual have a fabulous Spring collection too, which I’m really excited about. There’s some gorgeous colours coming in for this season, really striking reds, blues and yellows. We still have a few coats, jackets and jumpers though, as the cold weather may not be quite over yet! “I try to select clothes that are reasonably priced, well made, good value and look great. Fransa, Oxmo and Peppercorn are particularly popular for these very reasons. “We try to stock different ranges to the main high street stores and only take a few items in each style, so our customers can be sure they are buying something that is a little more individual.” Chocolate also stocks a good range of costume jewellery and accessories, scarves, bags and hats, which are ideal for gifts and of course, if you can’t make your mind up, there’s always the option of a gift voucher. “We aim to cater for all ages and offer a wide range of sizes, from XS to XXL,” says Jo, “So there should be something for everyone.” “We’re a friendly independent boutique, so come in and ask if you are looking for something specific or just have a browse around.”

Jo is assisted by Jane, Bev and Jo’s daughter Gemma who works on Saturdays. “We have a lot of fun,” says Jo, “our customers are lovely, we’ve made quite a few new friends and we’re looking forward to making many more in 2012.” l Chocolate Boutique, 19 High Street, Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire. HP27 0AE. enquiries@chocolateboutique.me.uk Website: www.chocolateboutique.me.uk Opening times: Mon to Sat: 9.30am to 5pm


simply romantic

Dinner and Overnight packages from ÂŁ169 to celebrate Valentines Day. Dinner only packages from ÂŁ90 per couple. For further information visit our website or call 01844 278300 Terms and Conditions apply.

The Oxfordshire Golf Hotel and Spa Rycote Lane, Milton Common, Oxfordshire OX9 2PU Telephone: 01844 278300 Fax: 01844 278003 www.theoxfordshire.com


Y

ou can’t see it with your eye, hold it in your hand... but it’s strong enough to rule the heart of any man,’ sang Johnny Cash, ‘this thing called love’... Johnny had his fair share of heartache while trying to ‘walk the line’ and a lot of it was probably down to forgetting about those important little things: a pair of cute heart-shaped earrings, a pretty plant pot, a romantic Valentine card or a cuddly scarf... It doesn’t take much to show you care, ladies need a little love and affection and if it comes gift-wrapped, so much the better! Of course there’s not just the love of your life to take care of at this time of year, mummy needs to be told she’s yummy come Mothering Sunday and a surprise parcel will absolutely make her day. Luckily at The White Hart Studio you’ll always find something to make a heart beat faster and Jane has just taken delivery of a stunning new selection of jewellery from her favourite collections - there’s earrings, bracelets, pendants and more from: Kate Hamilton Hunter, Bluebird Boutique and new supplier Banyan, who has sent a gorgeous range of the most beautiful, delicate silverware. Love is a wonderful thing...

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

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Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012


We live in a beautiful part of the world that’s always worth exploring. Over the next few weeks, if you spot one of these envelopes, you might just discover that little bit more. Each envelope contains a money-off voucher to spend in FROM. The shop that’s full of beautiful things made by people who live locally.

FROM, 16 Cornmarket, Thame, Oxfordshire, OX9 2BW. 01844 217998. www.fromroundhere.com


l Column: Penny Harper - thoughts of a small town girl

Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Penny Harper

A

u t if

n la

n u su du

Presenter Yvette Fielding created a mushy mess trying to show how to cook pancakes on Blue Peter

conversation where I explained that - certainly in my case - it was probably where the expression ‘flat as a pancake’ came from. Put it this way, I hadn’t done half as well on the bead front as my friend ‘Double-D Wendy’.

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good few years ago I celebrated Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Those Louisianans sure do go crazy for ‘Fat Tuesday’. If you’re a young woman - as I was then (meaning I have aged a bit, not had a sex change) the object of the festivities was to collect as many different strings of beads as you could. These were given out by the young men taking part in the carnival. I was explaining this once to my Dad who then asked ‘do they just give them to the girls they like?’ to which I replied, ‘that’s right’. All was fine until a few years later when my Dad happened to watch a holiday programme, destination: New Orleans. It was then that he found out the true way of getting beads from the men during Mardi Gras. What followed was an awkward

So, that was my most shameful Shrove Tuesday. Apart from that it’s been the usual pancakes-athome scenario and an outcome that usually looks like former Blue Peter presenter Yvette Fielding’s had a go. I end up with a sticky mess which then gets drowned in lemon and sugar. They still taste delicious and we still say ‘why don’t we have these more often’ and then we put the pan away for another twelve months. Of course, the next day is Ash Wednesday and Lent begins. Last year I tried to give up cheese. I say try, because two weeks in I ate some pesto sauce, forgetting it contains cheese. Mr P said ‘don’t worry hon, that doesn’t count’. Perhaps not, but the consolatory cheese sandwich I made myself afterwards certainly did. Oops! Restraint has never been my fortitude.

Small Town

Girl

A friend (who shall remain nameless) once asked me if Lent lasts forty days because of Noah in his ark. I can see the confusion; it did rain for forty days and forty nights. I said ‘yes, that’s right. That’s why all the animals had to give up eating something they liked. It was the only way they could give the antelopes a fighting chance’.

Ir o n in The g Bo ar d Quality ironing, laundry & cleaning service

Saving you time and money! Professional, local, hand-finished ironing, laundry, dry cleaning & domestic cleaning. We provide a first class ironing service for both commercial and domestic customers. Established 14 years. Highest standards assured Domestic & commercial l Free collection and delivery l 24 hour turnaround l Repairs & alterations l Service unique to you & your family l l

w Wall art w Clocks w Candles w Lamps w Mirrors w Vases w w Ornaments w Homeware w Prints w Fireplace sets w Signs w w Furniture w Kitchen & Dining w Gifts w Cards w Mats w Ginger Interiors, 8 Duck Farm Court, Station Way, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP20 2SQ Tel: 01296 415035 Email: clare@gingerinteriors.co.uk

Website: www. gingerinteriors.co.uk 14

Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

For a crease free life call 01844 299300 The Ironing Board, 8 Banks Parade, Haddenham, Bucks, HP17 8ED Opening hours: Mon-Thur 8am-6pm, Fri 8am to 5pm, Sat 8am-12noon

Email: info@theironingboard.biz www.theironingboard.biz


The urban guide to the country

Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

www.muddystilettos.co.uk

Hero Brown has swapped the bright lights of the big city for fresh air and farmers markets. The ex-glossy magazine editor now blogs about life in the sticks at www.muddystilettos.co.uk and is here to share her urban take on country living with Vale Life Magazine

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can’t say there aren’t perks to scouting around the Vale, discovering the hottest restaurants, boutiques, cafés, events and one-offs to put into Muddy Stilettos, but last week the job finally

bit me on the bum. Picture a cosy corner of Seasons Café Deli in Amersham (a fab deli and café bar, definitely worth a visit, www.seasons-cafe-deli.com). I’m feeling modern,•Expert chic and just a tiny Advice

Seasons Café Deli, Amersham

bit smug as I leaf through a Bill Bryson cookbook, one of many such books left nonchalantly for foodie types to read with their cappuccino. My toddler Cass is yet to start screaming his favourite new phrase, ‘I don’t like you mummy, stop winding •Professional Fittingme up!’ at the top of his voice. Inhe’s quietly colouring in, blond •Very Competitivestead, and angelic. for Residential and I’ve ordered a panini and Cass Commercial workspecifically requests the herveros rancheros (oh alright, he ordered We always have lots of gorgeous •Carpets to suit alltoast and jam but come on, life’s not cats and sometimes kittens, perfect). Budgets in need of loving homes Then I spot my nemesis in the •Free Quotes corner - Perfect Mum. She’s wearing cashmere jumper that’s still clean. •No Obligation aHer hair is salon shiny. Her son really (*households on a low income, senior citizens, students & those in receipt of income-related is eating herveros rancheros. And he’s •Freebenefits) Parking using his cutlery. And is he scrawling We are also in urgent need of volunteer fosterers and fundraisers away with crayons? Nooooo. He’s CPChiltern ChilternCats

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playing his mother at Scrabble. ‘Oh good boy!’ she shrieks, as her little darling puts down four tiles (let’s just imagine what those lovely four letters may be). As if sensing the problem, Cass rallies and shows me the salt and pepper pots. ‘That’s an S’, he offers. I nearly keel over. ‘Yes darling, yes, •Expert Advice you’re right, well done!’ I beam. ‘Come•Professional on then, what word starts with Fitting an S?’ I can see I’ve pushed my luck. •Very Competitive ‘‘Apple!” he bellows across the room. and Perfect for MumResidential smiles sympathetically at me. ‘Hasn���t he got beautiful Commercial workhair?’ she says. My son knows condescen•Carpets allwas sion when he hearsto it - suit the kid practically weaned on it. ‘You,’ he Budgets booms, pointing across the room at Quotes Perfect•Free Mum who goes a perfect red, ‘I don’t•No like you! Stop winding me Obligation up!’ That’s my boy.

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•Professional Fitting •Very Competitive Web: www.charleshuntington.co.uk Tel: 01296 Mob: 07767370067 for337181 Residential and 23 DUCK FARM COURT, STATION WAY, AYLESBURY, HP20 2SQ Web: www.charleshuntington.co.uk Commercial work 23 DUCK COURT, STATION WAY, AYLESBURY, HP20 2SQ WE WILL NOT BE BEATEN ON QUALITY OR SERVICE l Independent, family runFARM carpet Charles Huntington Flooring and flooring specialists. •Carpets to suit all Charles Huntington Flooring Charles Huntington Flooring WE WILL NOT BE BEATEN ON QUALITY OR SERVICE •Expert Advice Charles Huntington Flooring l Extensive range of traditional Budgets and contemporary flooring •Expert Advice Charles Huntington Flooring at competitive prices. •Expert Advice •Expert Advice•Free •Professional Fitting Advice •Professional Fitting Quotes•Expert l Expert fitting service. •Expertl Carpet, AdviceFitting •Professional •Professional Fitting vinyl, sisal, coir, hardwood •Professional Fitting •Very Competitive l Domestic and commercial •No Obligation •Professional Fitting for Residential and •Very Competitive •Very Competitive •Very Competitive •Very Competitive Commercial work for Residential and Residential and for Residential•Free and •Very Competitive Parking for Commercial work for Residentialwork and Commercial Commercial work

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for Residential •Carpets to suit and all Commercial work •Carpets to suit all Budgets Opening Times: Monday to Friday •10am 5pm CARPETS VINYLSuntil • SISAL • STAIR RODS CARPETS • VINYLS • SISAL • STAIR RODS CARPETS Saturday • VINYLS • SISAL • STAIR RODS CARPETS • VINYLS SISAL • Any STAIRother RODS SAFETY FLOORING • WOOD • BINDING TAPES until•RODS 4pm. time•Free by appointment CARPETS • VINYLS • 10am SISAL • STAIR SAFETY FLOORING • WOODQuotes • BINDING TAPES SAFETY FLOORING • WOOD • BINDING TAPES SAFETY FLOORING • WOOD • BINDING TAPES SAFETY FLOORINGTel: • WOOD • BINDING TAPES Opening Times: Monday to Friday 10am until 5pm 01296 337181 Mob: 07767370067 Opening Times: Monday to Friday 10am until 5pm •No Obligation Saturday 10am until 4pm. Any other time by appointment Opening Times: Monday to Friday 10am until 5pm Opening Times: Monday to Friday 10am until 5pm Opening Times: Monday toWeb: Friday 10am until 5pm Saturday 10am until 4pm. Any other time by appointment www.charleshuntington.co.uk Saturday 4pm. Any by appointment Saturday until time 4pm. Any other time Tel: by appointment 07767370067 Saturday10am 10amuntil until 4pm.10am Any other other time by appointment Tel:01296 01296 337181 337181 Mob: Mob: 07767370067 Tel: 337181 Mob:337181 07767370067 Tel: 01296 Mob: 07767370067 Web: •FreeHP20 Parking Tel:01296 0129623 337181 Web:www.charleshuntington.co.uk www.charleshuntington.co.uk DUCK Mob: FARM07767370067 COURT, STATION WAY, AYLESBURY, 2SQ Commercial work •Carpets Budgetsto suit all •Carpets to suit all •Carpets to suit all Budgets •Carpets to suit all Budgets Budgets •Free Quotes CARPETS • VINYLS • SISAL • STAIR RODS Budgets •Free Quotes •Free Quotes •Free Quotes •No Obligation •Free Quotes •No SAFETY FLOORING • •No WOOD • BINDING TAPES •No Obligation Obligation •FreeObligation Parking •No Obligation •Free Parking •Free Parking •Free Parking •Free Parking

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15


Looking for a new kitchen but don’t want to pay inflated shop prices?

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ver 60 Jazzercisers bounded into the big hall at Aylesbury’s Grange School in January to take part in an open house charity event. The aim was to raise money for the Florence Nightingale Hospice which is based in Aylesbury. Jazzercise instructors, Keri Donnellan, Sarah Mackay and Tamsin

Ely took to the stage to lead the packed hall in a series of lively exercise routines and there was a raffle and refreshments after. “Everyone had a great time,” says Keri, “and a total of £183 was raised for this fantastic cause! It’s been a brilliant success, many thanks to all who took part and to those who donated so generously.”

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w Bespoke kitchens w Made to measure joinery w w Staircases w Traditional handmade furniture w Brixton Buildings, Station Road, Quainton, Bucks, HP22 4BX Telephone: 01296 655726 Website: www.quaintoncottagefurniture.co.uk 16

Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Avoid the Spring rush! Call now for details of our Early Bird Discount - contact Rodney on: 07732 329118


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Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012



We never thought We could afford our

dream kitchen While Stoneworld celebrates its 10th birthday this year, the firm’s gallery in Thame is in its second year, a clever addition, that has brought several companies together under one roof...

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t’s been great working with Stoneworld this last year,” says Tracy Nielsen of tillynilly, “a real success, our homeware and soft furnishings complement the stone flooring displays at the Thame Gallery perfectly and work well with the artworks exhibited. “We originally brought pieces in to dress Watermark’s kitchen and bathroom sets upstairs, but now we have a display area of our own downstairs as well, which has created a lot of interest, especially the hand-blown glass vases and original cushions. Our range is catalogued on our website and can be bought online, but it’s good for people to be able to come and pick an item up and feel the weight and texture. “Our decorative accessories are

sourced from all over the world, whereas our soft furnishings are made locally by the tillynilly team. While the cushions on display and online are available to purchase, we do also provide a bespoke service, producing new covers for your own “The tillynilly brand has been cushions and also made to measure established for over three years and blinds, curtains and soft furnishings. is constantly evolving. Exhibiting Also on display at The Gallery are at Stoneworld has made a big some of the tables and chairs, suitdifference, the glass vases in able for indoor and outdoor particular have gone down really use, that we supply. well and we’ve expanded the range, “I think the Stoneworld Gallery they start at £18 and make unique is a good addition to the town. It’s gifts and a colourful addition to any very stylish but people can visit interior. anytime, they don’t have to make “Although we only have some an appointment, just walk in and of our range on display, if there is Front Uno yellow / Neo shiny have a look round. There’s kitchens an item youmango have spotted onwhite our Available in 14 attractive front colours and bathrooms, fireplaces, stoves, website and would like to see at some of our tillynilly range, glass the gallery please call and we can art by Jessica Luxury Ecott and paintings. German rigid kitchens at flat prices arrange for it topack be there.

K I T C H E N S

&

Tracy and some of her display at Stoneworld “Having the different businesses under one roof is a great idea as it helps to give people inspiration, there’s kitchens, bathrooms, flooring, and furnishing and often a customer will come in to look at one range and end up buying from another as well. “Happy Birthday Stoneworld, here’s to working with you over the next ten!” l tillynilly, Thame, Oxon Tel: 01844 220035. Email: info@tillynilly.com Website: www.tillynilly.com Store: www.tillynilly.com/store

I N T E R I O R S

Range of services from supply of units, worktops and appliances, to full project management, design, technical drawing, fitting, planning applications and building work. www.ridgewaykitchens.co.uk · info@ridgewaykitchens.co.uk Tel: 01844 279 900 · Milton Common, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 2NZ

New showrooms near Thame. Viewing by appointment, please call: 01844 279900 Traditional English kitchens by Prentice: high end Staffordshire built luxury kitchens l Ridgeway’s own Hacker German built kitchens: exceptional value, elegant and contemporary l

Ridgeway Kitchens & Interiors, Rycote Lane, Milton Common, Oxon, OX9 2NZ Tel: 01844 279900 Email: info@ridgewaykitchens.co.uk Website: www.ridgewaykitchens.co.uk Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

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In ten years Stoneworld has grown from a small supplier of sand and gravel, into a thriving business that sources and delivers high quality, natural stone materials, from all over the world. But if it hadn’t been for Alan Titchmarsh and a nasty wet patch, it might never have happened...

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’m hoping we’ll have a good year and I can buy a water jet cutter.” says Stoneworld boss Rob Parker. “They are capable of incredible detail and you can carve very intricate designs.” Sitting in his sales office at Great Milton Rob is still full of enthusiasm after a decade building his Stoneworld business. He is looking forward rather than back, but 2012 marks Stoneworld’s tenth anniversary and is a good excuse to reminisce. Rob started the company in 2002 with brother-in-law Steve. They were selling sand and gravel but it was a rocky road at first. “The margins were so tight we’d never have lasted,” says Rob, “Then Alan Titchmarsh and his Groundforce crew appeared on TV using all sorts of interesting stone in their garden makeovers. We increased our range and started importing paving. Every year since stone has been getting more popular, particularly so in this area for walls and paving.” Stoneworld wasn’t an overnight success though and Rob admits that if it hadn’t been for a wet spell and some serious flooding in 2003, things might have been very different. “We had a contract to supply the Environment Agency with sandbags,” says Rob. “They’d ordered 12,000, which we bagged up ready and then they changed their mind! I was making my annual church visit on New Year’s Day and the vicar suggested we take time to think about what we’d most like the year ahead to bring. I thought about the 12,000 sandbags sitting in my yard and prayed for rain! About three hours later it started to pour down and didn’t stop for weeks. Suddenly the order was back on and then everyone needed sandbags.

The Stone Genie at work

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Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Rob Parker

We were bagging from 6am to 6pm, loading 2,000 onto the lorry and then driving down to Chertsey. We supplied 36,000 in the end. It was hard work but it got us started financially. “Anything we’ve made went back into the company. We bought lorries, forklifts, stone saws, the bagging plant, the Stone Genie and we now carry around £400,000 of stock, so there’s a lot of capital tied up. Happily the balance sheet is starting to look healthier as we are starting to pay off our finance costs. “It’s been a steady build and I’m very happy with the way things are. We’ve diversified into stonemasonry and invested in cutting technology. We can now supply things that even established stonemasonry companies don’t.” One of Rob’s investments, the Stone Genie, is a robotic computer-guided cutter that can cut or sculpt a chunk of stone into a desired shape. It can carve hearths and fireplaces, kitchen worktops, statues, or replacement masonry features working from 3D computer images: “Stone has a life of about 150 years,” says Rob, “and there’s a lot of properties in this area that are that age or older. Our Stone Genie comes in handy for carving out replacement sills and stonework to match existing features.” Recent jobs include statues for a cathedral and a 146 piece vaulted ceiling for a manor house in the Cotswolds. The Genie also cut 750m2 of especially thin sandstone slabs for Lord Cadogan’s Lockinge Estate at Wantage. They had to be light as they form a rising floor for a swimming pool, which when raised out

of the water, doubles as a dancefloor! Rob is pictured above with a chunk of sandstone the Stone Genie has carved into a likeness of his face in a frame: “I think our face sculptures will prove popular,” he says. “They are great fun and look fabulous in a wall.” A year ago the company renovated an old stone chapel in the centre of Thame. The ancient building looks fabulous now and as The Gallery Stoneworld, houses a stunning variety of internal stone flooring, plus a mixture of art, homeware and on the first floor, Watermark’s bathroom and kitchen showroom. “The business has grown naturally.” says Rob. “We never thought we’d be doing swimming pool surrounds, hearths or fireplaces, but people asked and we supplied. From one pool in 2006, we paved and edged about 20 last year - every one was different, each a bespoke design to the customer’s requirements.” Ten years in Rob is still pressing forward with all the energy and enthusiasm of a start up company. The Stoneworld maxim ‘for all your stone needs’ is one he takes seriously: “We do anything,” he says. “From a £1 bag of gravel for your path, to a £50,000 sculpture.” It’s time to celebrate though and raise a glass: to Stoneworld, to Alan Titchmarsh and a timely spot of rain! l Internal stone: Stoneworld Gallery, 43A Upper High Street, Thame, OX9 2DW Tel: 01844 279307 External Stone: Views Farm, Great Milton, Oxon, OX44 7NW Tel: 01844 279274 Email: sales@stoneworld.co.uk Web: www.stoneworld.co.uk


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For all your stone needs... Internal stone at our Gallery in Thame The Gallery Stoneworld, 43A Upper High Street, Thame, Oxon, OX9 2DW. Tel: 01844 279307 Email: sales@stoneworld.co.uk

External stone at Great Milton and Bracknell Views Farm, Great Milton, Oxon, OX44 7NW. Tel: 01844 279274 Email: sales@stoneworld.co.uk

Stoneworld is a family-run, independent company offering help and advice on all aspects of stone purchase and use

Our extensive range includes: l Over 30 different natural stone paving options l Variety of finishes including hand cut, tumbled, sawn and honed l Natural stone block paving l Cobbles and pebbles l Over 50 different ornamental gravels l Rockery stone l Natural stone walling l Feature stones and water features l Swimming pool edging l Range of interior stone for floors, walls, worktops l Bespoke digital masonary service l Stone clean and reseal service; internal and external

www.stoneworld.co.uk

Celebrating

10 Years 2002 - 2012


Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

‘I’ve always been a decorator,’ says Mick Simmonds ‘and my lads are all fully trained and qualified professionals.’ With over 30 years in the trade Mick has decorated everything from factories to country houses, National Trust hotels, shops, offices, flats, celebrity mansions and lots of homes...

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ichael Simmonds began his career in the decorating trade over 30 years ago and has not been short of work since! Born and raised in Dinton, he went to Stoke Mandeville School but was always keen to start his own business. “I left school in 1978 at the age of 16,” says Mick “and started a job with a Haddenham firm that did building and decorating. I was with the company for two years, training as a painter and decorator. “Not much has changed since then, we still use traditional methods. Paint technology has moved on a little, but preparation, hard work and knowing what you are doing are still the key elements.” Mick branched out on his own and at the age of 19 took on his first employee. Three decades later his company, M. Simmonds Decorating Contractors, is still going strong and now boasts a team of eight. “Business has built through recommendations really,” says Mick. “I’ve always taken care not just to do a professional job, but to be friendly, helpful and reliable as well. “When I first took on workers, they were usually experienced contractors working on a self-employed basis, but about 16 years ago we switched to employing our own staff who we train to ensure, not only a high standard of craftsmanship, but also an approach to work that is in line with our way of doing things. “We take people on as school leavers and train them up to our way of thinking. There are a lot of painters and decorators around who have drifted into the job from other occupations but I’ve always been a decorator,

Graham, right, shows how the dry fix wood care system can be used to patch a rotted sill 20

Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Michael Simmonds

it’s my craft and I want a team of specialists working with me. I think we do a better job as a result. “We take pride in offering exceptional customer service, so our lads are trained not only to be professionally qualified painters and decorators but also to be friendly and respectful and to take care of our clients’ homes. “We ensure all fittings and furnishings are adequately protected with dust sheets and clean and tidy up at the end of each day. We have a uniform too which not only looks more professional but helps everyone adopt the right attitude.” Simmonds is very much a family business. Mick’s wife Kay is from Haddenham, they met

at Mandeville School when Mick was 16 and Kay just 15. They’ve now been married for 28 years and she is a partner in the business and helps with administration, accounts and running the office. It is not the first business they’ve run together as Kay was a hairdresser and at one time had her own salon: “Before we had children,” says Mick, “we owned a successful hairdressing salon, Amber’s, on Walton Street in Aylesbury, which Kay ran. We were thinking of starting a family when the chance came to sell the premises for redevelopment, so we decided to accept the offer. “We also owned two decorating shops, ‘Main Supplies’, one in Bicester and one in


Tony&Guy’s Aylesbury salon was given a Simmonds makeover recently. The work was done overnight so the salon could operate during the day

Sean applies some gloss Aylesbury. They did well and we eventually sold both to a national company which allowed us to concentrate all our efforts back into the painting and decorating business.” Mick’s brother Graham, a skilled carpenter, is an associate partner and contract supervisor and Mick and Kay’s son Matt has recently joined the firm as an apprentice. He left school last year and is working while attending a Small Builders Apprenticeship course at college in Oxford, which includes carpentry, plumbing, plastering and painting to full City and Guilds and NVQ standard. “All our lads have done a three year apprenticeship with us,” says Mick.“Sheridan has been with me for 15 years, Karl for 14 years and Sean for four years. My brother Graham, who has been with me for 20 years and Keith, 27 years, gained equivalent qualifications from the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) a few years back under the ‘grandfather rights scheme’.” Employing your own full-time staff is a gamble as the pressure is on to ensure there is always work coming in to pay their wages. “Luckily we’ve never been short of work,” says Mick. “It’s not easy though, especially nowadays, I try to be available to answer enquiries, or to respond the same day and to be reliable and punctual when visiting to price a job and to be organised with references and quotes, accounts and invoicing. I’m not just the ‘hairy stick’ anymore, which is what my mates used to call me, because I usually had some sort of paintbrush in hand - it’s pen and mobile now!” “Most of our work is domestic painting and decorating but we do industrial and commercial premises too. We also do repair,

maintenance and refurbishment work and have a reliable pool of tried and tested professionals from the plastering, plumbing and electrical trades that work with us if required. “My brother Graham is a skilled master carpenter, so takes care of any woodwork involved. He’s especially adept with the dry fix woodcare system, (see pictures opposite), which enables rotting sections of timber, such as window frames or sills, to be cut out and replaced, so extending the life of the window and avoiding expensive replacement costs. “On the decorating side we’ve been doing a lot of wallpapering lately. Wallpaper is back in fashion and hanging it can be quite tricky, especially if it is expensive, bespoke hand-printed paper, which you can’t afford to waste!” Mick’s firm has decorated both at Hartwell House and at Cliveden Hotel, which included hanging some exquisite heritage papers. “One minute we’ll be working for a retired couple in a small council house, the next it could be a large country house or commercial premises,” says Mick. “We have scaffolding, high ladders and access equipment, so the size of a building is not a problem.” As one would imagine in this day and age health and safety considerations have to be taken into account, Mick and his team have been on several courses, and the staff have all undergone Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) checks too, as part of Buckinghamshire County Council’s (BCC) ‘Buy With Confidence’ scheme. “BCC Trading Standards are very thorough,” says Mick, “they carry out a full audit of our books and have a stringent vetting procedure. They collect references from

The Simmonds team: Sheridan, Sean, Keith, Matt, Graham, and Karl

clients and ensure that we have the appropriate health and safety standards, insurances, waste carrier’s licence, CRB checks, complaints procedure, etc. We have survey forms to give clients when a job is complete, which go direct to Trading Standards, so they can check customers are satisfied with our service. “I’m as happy with the way the business is at the moment as I’ve ever been. I’ve a great bunch of lads working for me, who I respect and they seem to respect me too! They are hard workers and good at their craft and we get some lovely feedback, nice comments and recommendations from our clients. A lot say how clean we are, how we tidy up each day and leave things nice. People often trust us to let ourselves in, while they are away. Sometimes we’re even asked to feed the cat too!” “If anyone would like a quote for a job they are welcome to get in contact, either by phone or via our website and make an appointment for me to visit and discuss the work involved. “We’ll supply a written estimate and then, if acceptable give a provisional start date and then, two weeks before, a confirmed start date. Depending on the time of year our lead-in is from four to six weeks, though in the high season things can be much busier, so many of our regular clients know to book us up well in advance. “We mostly operate within an hour of Aylesbury and the work is quite varied, from modern flats to old Wychert houses. “I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy every part of my work and I still get the same buzz now, from giving our clients the highest standard, quality service, that I did when I first started my business 30 years ago. I now have 30 years worth of interesting, amusing and insane stories to tell though and it is my intention to one day write an autobiography... Look out for The Hairy Stick coming to a bookshop near you soon!!” l M. Simmonds Decorating Contractors, Hobbs Barn, Klee Close, Quainton, Buckinghamshire, HP22 4AF. Tel: 01296 655774 Mobile: 07850 499795 Email: michael@msimmonds.co.uk Website: www.msimmonds.co.uk Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

21


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Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

at

In tough times money can become the main focus while Planet Earth takes a back seat. Luckily U-Print is a clever new printer deal which can save you cash and up your green credentials...

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ast year Vale Life wrote about Martin and Sarah Dyckhoff, pictured right, the owners of Aylesbury’s Cartridge World store, where you can save money on printing by having your ink and toner cartridges refilled instead of buying new ones. Not content with helping customers save pennies and the environment like this, the couple have taken things even further and under their new U-Print banner provide customers with a free printer! “For years manufacturers have been making printers cheaper and cartridges more expensive,” says Martin. “Once you’ve bought a printer you have to buy replacement cartridges and that’s where they make their money. “We remanufacture cartridges at Cartridge World and are able to save our customers money, as it is much cheaper to refill than buy brand new ones. It’s also better for the environment, as if thrown away old cartridges generally end up in landfill - 45 million

Martin installs a printer at Frost Canover Accountants watched by MD Chris Hatton Paul Carpenter in the library at Aylesbury Grammar School

Sarah and Martin non-biodegradable printer cartridges a year are binned in the UK alone!” Martin and Sarah have taken this idea a step further and under the U-Print banner are now refurbishing printers which they supply for free, providing you purchase your replacement consumables from them. “As manufacturers have been making their printers cheaper, they have also been making them more cheaply and today’s machines are not actually as robust as those from a couple of years ago,” says Martin. “We have refurbished a selection of well made machines which we supply free. They are good reliable machines - under the U-Print deal we maintain the printers, so we wouldn’t supply them if they were likely to go wrong - we’d be the ones fixing them!” There is a requirement to do a certain amount of printing, a minimum of 500 sheets per month, so it may not suit some home users but for many businesses it is ideal. There is also a one-off set up and installation fee which covers installing the software (print drivers) onto a network or the computers to which the printer is linked. “We’ve got about 80 machines out at the moment,” says Martin. “Most are with business users and organisations, all sorts of activities from accountancy to education and leisure to retail. “It works well in these uncertain times, as if a customer decides they don’t need the printer any more, or they’d like a bigger, or smaller one, they have only to give 30 days notice and

Wendy and Emma in the office at Budgens, Bedgrove we’ll take it away, or replace it with a different model.” At a time when budgets are being cut it will be a relief to many that should they be in need of a new printer they can get one for free. It’s a refurbished machine and you’ll be running it on recycled cartridges, saving you money while helping the environment. “The new U-Print printer is ideal,” says Emma Bracher, above, assistant manager at Budgens in Bedgrove, “We’ve just printed some barcodes and prices for our shelves. It’s nice to know that we are recycling and being kind to the environment too.” Paul Carpenter, left, ICT systems manager at Aylesbury Grammar School had a U-Print machine installed in the school library last year. “Our machine is very high usage,” says Paul “U-Print supplied a machine with a large toner cartridge, so it doesn’t run out so often and the replacements are very keenly priced. “It’s working so well we are going to have another in the staff room. It’s good U-Print is local too. If we run out of toner or need help they are quick to assist. We used to buy new toner cartridges but the refills are so much cheaper and better for the environment." Find out more about U-Print at Cartridge World via the website at www.u-print.org or call: 01296 434666. l U-Print, Cartridge World, 32 Parton Road, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP20 1NG. Tel: 01296 434666 Email: cwaylesbury@cartridgeworld.co.uk Website: www.u-print.org Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

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Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

90% of flowers bought in the UK are grown abroad! A Risborough florist aims to stem the tide though, growing British blooms locally, for ultimate freshness and great green credentials...

F

ullers Flowers was established in 1899 by Lorna Brooks’ great grandmother and is still run as a family business. The original firm was based in Greenford, West London. Lorna owns Fullers Flowers on Bell Street, Princes Risborough. She came to the area as a girl, when her father Tom Fuller moved his family out to Buckinghamshire in 1980. Tom continued to work for the family firm in Greenford while Lorna grew up attending Risborough’s Bell Street School, now an old people’s home and later Henry Floyd School in Aylesbury. “I grew up with flowers, it’s in the blood,” says Lorna. “As children we were taught little jobs like how to make buttonholes and often helped out with the business, everyone chipped in if there was a big job on. “When I left school I started working at Greenford, I’d already been helping out there part-time and after a year or so, in 1988, my dad opened our shop on Bell Street, Princes Risborough which Alison and I helped run and eventually took over. Now, at 73, Dad still does deliveries and oversees all we do!” Business was good, but Lorna and her sister grew up, married and started families and soon found they wanted to spend more time at home with their young ones. They sold the business but Lorna missed it and couldn’t resist buying it back again in 2005. “Floristry is our passion, “ she says. “It will never make you rich, but there’s the joy of the flowers, the colours, the smell, I just love arranging them - my life didn’t feel right without them. I love Princes Risborough too and really enjoy working here, we just had to come back!” Fullers Flowers shop is filled with a heady scent, and furnished with an eclectic mix of ‘shabby chic’, vintage vases and containers, and of course, the most gorgeous array of flowers and foliage. “We try to use the very best seasonal British blooms,” says Lorna, “whether it’s for a wedding or for everyday flowers, they evoke nostalgic memories of times gone by. “Our style is loose and informal, we like to bring in vintage touches and a hint of good,

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Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Lorna and dad, Tom old fashioned romance, with natural, seasonal blooms. We keep packaging to a minimum and use natural and recycled products, so our flowers can speak for themselves. “We’ve found British blooms are not that easy to source though. There are some good growers in Cornwall and for daffodils and tulips, in Lincolnshire, but there seems to be a gap in the market. Apparently the UK only produces around 10% of flowers bought here now, compared with at least 50% 20 years ago. “We have a local smallholding and are developing a nursery there to grow our own home produced cut-flowers. There’s been a lot of training and research - Lydia and I have been attending horticultural classes - but soon we’ll be cultivating our outdoor beds, ready for planting. We have a barn that will double as a workshop, which will be useful when catering for weddings and larger events. “The flowers will be so fresh, they will last much longer and will be environmentally friendly, as there is little transport involved. We’re growing in poly tunnels, using biodynamic horticulture, a method of organic farming utilising the soil, plants and animals in a self-sustaining system - no pesticides and again, very environmentally friendly. “We’re aiming to produce seasonal English cottage garden flowers, which suits our style and vintage edge - proper old-fashioned flowers such as: Delphiniums, Asters, Dahlias,

and Peonies. “We have a leaning towards vintage styling and naturally grown flowers. We’ll combine a posie and a vintage tea cup to make a beautiful mother’s day gift, or a combination of classic British blooms for a Valentine bouquet with a difference. “I run the shop with the help of Lydia who is head florist and manageress and does most of the day to day business, she is an absolute star. We work as a team assisted by our apprentice florist Jessica, my dad, who does most of the deliveries and my daughter Alice, who is our Saturday girl. “There are only a handful of florists who grow their own flowers at the moment but we’ll be one soon. We’ve joined a new co-operative called Flowers from the Farm set up to help promote British grown flowers. “When my dad was a lad they were all home grown and he’d pick them up from Covent Garden market or off the train. He says in those days some of the best Chrysanthemums were grown in Southall! Soon, maybe, they’ll be saying that about Princes Risborough. l Fullers Flowers, 26 Bell Street, Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, HP27 0AD. Tel: 01844 345426 Email: shop@fullersflowers.co.uk Website: www.fullersflowers.co.uk


Win gorgeous Spring scents from NEOM

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EOM Luxury Organics is the gorgeous organic brand that helps women feel amazing every day the Duchess of Cambridge is among their many devotees. Their home, bath and body range contains pure ingredients (70% or higher organic) and mood-boosting essential oils, with no nasty chemicals emitted into the environment. (See: www.neomorganics.com) Neom is famous for its beautiful candles and reed diffusers, and is offering three lucky readers the chance to win a Spring Scent Trio. This includes brand new Inspiration Reed Diffuser and Home and Travel

APPROV AL INSPECTION TESTIN G CERTIFIC ATION

Candles in their new Happiness scent, a fresh blend of mimosa, white neroli and lemon. If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning one of three Spring Scent Trios, simply email your name, address and telephone number, along with the answer to the following question to: editor@vale-life.co.uk What is Happiness scent a blend of? Winner to be drawn at random and notified by email by Feb 29th. NEOM is also offering Vale Life readers an exclusive 20% discount when you shop online at www.neomorganics.com. Simply quote valelife20 at check out, offer ends Feb 29th, 2012.

APPROV AL INSPECTION TESTIN G CERTIFIC ATION

w w w.northmil lstoves.co.uk Tel: 01844 342400 North Mill Road, Bledlow, Princes Risborough HP27 9QP

STOVES

(By Appointment)

E: info@northmillstoves.co.uk

Premier Retailer & HETAS Installer of: Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

25


l Column: In the Garden with Naomi MacKay What’s hot and what’s not? Tune in and trendy up your plot!

Give an old table a new lease wood or purple beans and brassicas. of life - here’s how… l Naomi MacKay is a freelance

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ust as on the catwalk, fashions in gardening do change – remember when the garden project must-do was decking? That was about the time Groundforce was at its height and Charlie Dimmock was never off our screens. Okay, so the good news is that, in your garden what’s in one season doesn’t go out the next, as it does in fashion, but nevertheless, we’ve been taking a sneak peek at what is going to come to the fore in the next year of gardening. Colour-wise there are a couple of dominating trends - brights are going to be back with a vengeance think bright pinks, oranges and vivid greens and blues. This is not a trend for the faint-hearted - although there’s no reason why you can’t just inject a splash of colour, with some bright annuals and a lick of paint on a couple of planters or other garden features. Monochrome is going to be big too, particularly in modern and urban gardens, reflecting the trends on the catwalk. Or, if you fancy something altogether more relaxed, go for the subtle hues and pastel colours rep-

Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

1. Use masking tape to create a column that runs along the centre of your table 2. Use a small, flat brush and paint gradually within the lines of the masking tape. Here we’ve chosen Cuprinol Garden Shades Sunny Lime to create a bright and bold look, but you could choose a more muted shade for the county garden look

Add a little colour to features resented by the ‘Country Garden’ trend. This is inspired by the ‘Field of Dreams’ meadow in Somerset and the country cottage theme at the RHS show at Hampton Court and at the Chelsea Flower Show. Garden paint specialist Cuprinol has a whole range of paints with fantastic names such as Purple Pansy, Wild Thyme and Forest Mushroom, to bring a relaxing, muted colourwash to your garden. Picket fences, gates and seating can all be painted in these soft

writer and editor who has worked on Garden Answers, Garden News and Garden Trade News and writes about her Buckinghamshire garden at: http://diggingthedirt.wordpress.com. She also helps businesses to create or improve their websites, run social media campaigns, and produce business publications. Naomi is offering a 10% discount to Vale Life readers who quote the code VLFEB. Call 07802 426594, email: naomimackay@gmail.com or log on to: www.naomimackay.co.uk

3. Once the paint is dry, carefully strip away the masking tape 4. The end result - a beautiful table with painted runner colours. Other trends to look out for include white metal furniture and native plants. Meanwhile, Matthew Biggs, a Gardeners’s Question Time regular who lives in Hertfordshire, predicts that the colour purple will be big, whether it be in painted

Time for a purple patch

Aylesbury’s No.1 Driveway and Patio Company TH ON CIA THE ASS O EC IAASTSI O OTFI O N O F BA LO V IN NTGR C T RRASC T O R S BLOCK P V ICNKG PA CO AO CN TO TH E OACSISAO A TO I OFN O F SS T ICOI N TTHHEE AASSSSOOCCI IAATTI IOONN OOFF T H E A BK L OPA C VKI NPA I NOGN TCROANCTTROARCST O R S PAVVI INNGG CCOONNTTRRAAC BCLTTOOC G VC BBLLOOCCKK PA RR SS

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A DOCNOT N OVVEED D C CAO OPN N RPOA ARVCO PTTP RR ETV DOER C R TAR CAT C OTRO R AAPPPPRRO

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01296 336641 // /07853 698168 01296 336641 07853 698168 01296 336641 698168 01296 336641 / 07853 698168 01296 336641 / 07853 07853 698168 01296 336641 698168 698168 References are available from many local satisfied customers! References are available from many local satisfied customers! References available many local satisfied customers! References are available from many local satisfied customers! References are available from many local satisfied customers! References are available from many local satisfied customers! References are are available fromfrom many local satisfied customers!

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Britain’s premier antiques centre

40 Showrooms of fine quality antiques Unique gifts for every budget & personality Georgian through to Art Deco Open 10am-6pm every day Lunches, Brunches & Afternoon Teas Large Car Park St Valentine’s Day – Candlelit 3 Course Dinner by an open fire. An evening with Antique Roadshow’s Ian Pickford - 13th March The Swan at Tetsworth, High Street Tetsworth, Nr Thame, Oxon OX9 7AB Telephone: 01844 281777 Email: antiques@theswan.co.uk Visit www.theswan.co.uk for full calendar of events and menu details.

Win dinner for two at The Bugle Horn!

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he Bugle Horn in Hartwell is a country pub and restaurant that oozes rural charm and rustic character. The cosy olde worlde interior provides the perfect surroundings in which to relax and savour some hearty, seasonal, pub-food and the carefully nurtured cask ales and fine wines that grace the bar. It is particularly popular of a Sunday lunchtime when the hand-carved roast is on offer. The Bugle Horn started life as a farmhouse, but during the early 1800s it was used as a wine store for Hartwell House, whilst Louis XVIII of France lived there in exile. It was known as the Plough, until renamed The Bugle Horn after the

horn-shaped fossils of the same name to be seen in the pub’s walls. If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning dinner for two with a bottle of house wine, at The Bugle Horn, simply email your name, address and telephone number, along with the answer to the following question to: editor@vale-life.co.uk What is Captain Hornblower’s first name in CS Forester’s books? Winner to be drawn at random and notified by email by Feb 29th. l The Bugle Horn, Oxford Road, Hartwell, Aylesbury, HP17 8QP Tel: 01296 747594 Web: www.vintageinn.co.uk/ thebuglehornhartwell

Celebrate at

43b Buckingham Street, Aylesbury, HP20 2NQ Tel: 01296 423233 / 0800 298 8514

The Six Bells

Email: suesflowers2@hotmail.com www.suesflowers.co.uk 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

St Valentine’s Menu (February 14th) Three courses £25 per person Chicken and duck liver parfait, red onion marmalade, toasted brioche Celeriac and apple soup, crème fraîche, parmesan croutons Pan seared scallops, parsnip purée, hazelnut butter Fish platter to share: smoked salmon, prawns, mussels, smoked trout, taramasalata, flat bread Grilled seabass, buttered spinach, new potatoes, white wine cream Trio of lamb: grilled cutlet, slow-braised neck, crispy belly, red wine sauce Puff pastry case filled with wild mushrooms in a tarragon sauce Roasted poussin flavoured with garlic and thyme, potato fondant, light jus

Professional event caterers for weddings, parties & corporate events. Our chefs source the highest quality local produce and create fantastic seasonal menus which are fresh and delicious, for any occasion. 

Dark chocolate torte, raspberry coulis Meringue nest filled with berries, honey and lavender ice cream Orange and vanilla bread and butter pudding with ginger ice cream Cheese platter to share with crudités and chilled grapes

Book now: deposit & pre order required

Bookings now being taken for Sunday lunch on Mother’s Day (call pub for further details) 44 Lower High Street, Thame, Oxon, OX9 2AD Tel: 01844 212088 Email: sixbells@fullers.co.uk Website: www.fullers.co.uk Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

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l Column: Ruby Moukli

Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Win a signed copy of What’s for dinner?

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recent survey by the Government’s Change4Life campaign revealed that families who plan their weekly menus ahead and cook healthy meals from scratch, can save an average family £29 per week. If writing out recipes sounds daunting and time consuming, it doesn’t have to be, as Romilla Arber has done all the hard work for you! Her kitchen essential What’s for Dinner? is the only cookbook you will need in 2012 to feed the family proper, healthy, home cooked meals each day. As a mum of four, Romilla knows that planning healthy meals for the family is a time consuming task. What’s for Dinner? addresses this issue and each week begins with a menu plan together with a shopping list - a quick check list for everything needed from freezer, store cupboard or fridge. There’s a recipe for each day of the year, as well as two weekly tea-time treats, using seasonal ingredients. Each recipe feeds two adults and four children and not only encourages people to cook with confidence but by using What’s for Dinner? a family can cook healthy, delicious meals from scratch for less than £100 per week (depending on which supermarket you choose). Romilla Arber founded The Food Education Trust, a charity

dedicated to equipping children and adults with basic cookery skills for life. The Food Education Trust is wholly funded by What’s for Dinner? and has raised over £10,000 to date and provided much needed cookery equipment to schools, colleges and adult education centres in the UK. What’s for Dinner? is available at all good bookshops and online at www.amazon.co.uk If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning a copy of What’s for Dinner? simply email your name, address and telephone number, along with the answer to the following question to: editor@vale-life.co.uk Who wrote What’s for Dinner? Winner to be drawn at random and notified by email by Feb 29th.

Aylesbury’s own American foodie

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he first February I spent in England I was feeling a bit homesick for New Orleans. Not that I’m actually from New Orleans, mind you, just that I lived there for some years, and February is Mardi Gras season and, well, it sticks with you. Like the smell of night jasmine in the warm, humid air wrapping around you like a hug, and the dark shadows of voodoo lurking behind crumbling mansion façades, some things about New Orleans just never let go. I used to live in the French Quarter, right at the end of the infamous Bourbon Street, and was part of the ‘Krewe du Vieux’ that parades on foot through the Vieux Carre, throwing beads to revellers (bare-breasted and otherwise). What mid-winter festivities did England offer to rival that? British friends told me, ‘Never mind, we celebrate Fat Tuesday here too - we call it Shrove Tuesday’. Umm… sorry but no you don’t. Flipping pancakes is just not in the same category as a week-long masquerade ball that only ends when, at the stroke of midnight on Mardi Gras night, the police ride their horses four-abreast down the streets of the Vieux Carre, literally forcing everyone to go home. Of course no one actually does go home - they just go indoors. One of the most popular shelters is Pat O’Brien’s, with its flaming fountain in the courtyard, end-to-end grand pianos in the piano bar and, of course, legendary Hurricane cocktail. Indeed, for many, Mardi Gras would not be complete without a Hurricane (or three). There are many variations of the recipe - I’ve adapted this one from Pat O’Brien’s website. And if you’re thinking, ‘Hey Ruby that’s great but February’s not exactly tropical drinks weather here in England’, I say, ‘All the more reason!’ Happy Mardi Gras y’all, and ‘Laissez les bons temps rouler’!

N’Awlins Hurricane (makes one)

Wonderful wig party

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hugely successful Wig Party has raised around £12,000 for Great Ormond Street Hospital. The event at Cuddington Village Hall, in January, was supported by family and many local friends of Annie, Brian and Robbie Connolly. “I’ll never forget the good will, love and support in the village hall that night,” says Annie. “It was incredible, especially at the end of a particularly tough week for our son Robbie.” Seven-year-old Robbie suffers from a chronic condition called Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorder, or EGID, which is a bowel disease, fairly rare and receiving

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Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Annie Wig wearers Brian little funding for research. It affects his life in every way but to look at him you would have no idea what he copes with and what’s going on behind his smile. He struggles with a weakened immune system, so spends all winter fighting off one virus after another and suffers regular pain and discomfort. You can read more about his story and others who are fundraising with his doctors at: www.justgiving.com/ BrianConnolly

What You Need: 2 oz (75ml) light rum 2 oz (75 ml) dark rum 3 oz (75 ml) orange juice 3 oz (75 ml) pineapple or passion fruit juice Juice of ½ lime 3 oz (75 ml) grenadine (Ribena concentrate works well in a pinch!) Slice of orange and a Maraschino cherry for garnish What You Do: 1. Half-fill a hurricane (or other) glass with ice. 2. Pour the rums in first, then the juices. Finish with grenadine. 3. Garnish and enjoy! (For a non-alcoholic version, use lemonade instead of the booze).

l Ruby Moukli is a local writer, photographer and author of popular food blog Tomayto Tomaaahto, which you can read online at www.tomaytotomaaahto.com


l Column: Matt Brown - One Hungry Gent Coffee and Danish or is it just Killing time?

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Matt Brown

ONE Hungry Gent

ver recent weeks, I have become the weeniest bit obsessed with coffee. Personally, I blame the time of year. Gazing, bleary-eyed into my morning mug, the darkness of the winter is reflected perfectly in the slow black, sloe black pitch of my early cuppa Joe (incidentally did you know that it IS a ‘cuppa’ Joe and not a ‘cup of’ Joe as the GIs stationed in Britain adopted l Listen to Matt Brown on Heart our slangy way of saying ‘cuppa’ Breakfast With Matt and Michelle (weekdays 6-9am 102.6FM). tea and used it for their coffee). Tweet Matt at twitter.com/frazzleddaddy It seems perverse, given the www.onehungrygent.blogspot.com associations of speed that we give and hot chocolate from his website to a shot of caffeine, but I think monkshoodcoffee.com). that slowness and coffee are made This is not the only reason for for each other. my coffee compulsion. I I had a wonderful ‘the Danes drink was recently bought lesson in the benefits the box set of the first of slow coffee-making coffee like we series of The Killing. given to me a couple stand in queues’ If you haven’t seen it of months ago by Elliot then you must because it is a brilWallis from Monkshood Coffee. liant Danish drama about a murder Elliot drives his coffee camper investigation. van around and enlightens people It was made a bit famous on the virtues of coffee (you can because of the lead detective’s love also buy ridiculously good coffee

Music and romance at

the chequers inn St Valentine’s Day Menu (Tuesday, February 14th) Set three course meal with live music: £28 per person Lobster ravioli Scallop & king prawn Chorizo and aged balsamic risotto Goat cheese and red onion marmalade crostini Welsh lamb cutlets served with cave age cheddar dauphinoise potatoes and a red wine, rosemary and port reduction Gressingham duck breast served with noodles, vegetables and hoi sin sauce Crab thermidore Hot chocolate pudding served with chocolate ice cream Vanilla crème brulée served with shortbread Orange cheese cake served with winter berries compote Gorgonzola, walnuts and pear served with oatcakes Mother’s Day: Sunday 18th March - Give your Mum a special treat this Mother’s Day and bring her for a delicious 3 course lunch at The Chequers Inn. Menu available soon, call pub for details. 35 Church Lane, Weston Turville, Aylesbury, Bucks HP22 5SJ Tel: 01296 613298 www.thechequersinnwestonturville.co.uk

Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Each table in The Killing, whethof knitwear. However, the series really should be famous for it’s er corporate or family, has another shiny device for warming coffee, or infatuation with the Arabica bean, because if there’s one thing that blending coffee or enjoying coffee in some new and wondrous way. they do a lot of in The Killing, it’s I apologise here and now to drink coffee. If you thought we love coffee anyone who comes into contact with me over the next few weeks what with all our Costa this and Starbucks that, then you need to because this coffee fixation is not going anywhere. I have just have a word with yourself. The Danes drink coffee like we stand in ordered season two of The Killing queues, except they do it better. and am currently series recording the Danish political drama, Borgen. Hardly anyone in The Killing has any alcohol, there are only a Then after that there’s a new series called The couple of times in the 24 hourBridge and after long episodes that there’ll be time for Borgen where we see people drinking 2. Right now I talk about not booze, but coffee is consumed all much else and I am aware how the time. It is boring it has bethe blood that Matt, Elliot and the come. I am truly, pumps through Monkshood camper van truly sorry. the arteries of Copenhagen and is used as a plot l For more thoughts about food driver, a prop for the action and a and even a few recipes, head to metaphor all at once. Matt’s blog: onehungrygent. One of the lead characters is a politician who drinks coffee with blogspot.com l Hear Matt’s latest story from glorious delight as he fires half of The Creepy Valley here...http:// his cabinet, each sacking punctuthecreepyvalley.com/podcasts ated by another ruthless sip.

Win tickets to the Country Living Spring Fair

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he Country Living Magazine Spring Fair at the Business Design Centre, Islington, London from 21-25 March 2012, promises a lovely day amongst some of the UK’s leading artisans. Celebrating skilled craftsmanship, delicious food and delicacies, inspired gardening, as well as presenting a wonderful array of accessories for the home, the Country Living Spring Fair celebrates all the joys of country living. There’s lots of scope for personal pampering too, with clothing for every occasion; jewellery and silversmithing designs influenced by nature and sensuous handmade soaps and perfumes. Entertaining talks and demonstrations by popular experts are a hands-on opportunity to learn about different crafts and activities. There will also be a beautiful spring garden ensuring that there’s plenty to do, plenty to see and plenty to enjoy. Tickets are £16 but Vale Life readers can purchase their’s for only £11.50 quoting CLSPRING 2.

Tickets must be booked no later than 1pm on the day before your visit. Telephone: 0844 848 0160. If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets to the show, simply email your name, address and telephone number, along with the answer to the following question to: editor@vale-life.co.uk Where is The Spring Fair to be held this year? Winner to be drawn at random and notified by email by Feb 29th. l www.countrylivingfair.com Tickets: 0844 848 0160 Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

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Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons is one of Britain’s finest temples of gastronomy. It is also one of the country’s most wonderful hotels, with exemplary service, a delightful setting and 32 individually designed and gorgeously decorated guest rooms. Rather excitingly, the restaurant offers a nine course découverte ‘voyage of exploration’ menu. Charlie Trott loosens his belt...

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aymond Blanc first limped into England, in a battered Renault Gordini, some 40 years ago. He claims it took him three days to drive from Dover to Oxford, as his English was so bad he couldn’t get the right directions! Since then he has mapped out his own route, driven by an all consuming passion for food and now, at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, he is nearly at his destination, realising his vision to create the ultimate environment in which to enjoy his obsession. Raymond took on Le Manoir in the early 80s, in 1985 it was awarded two Michelin stars which it still holds today, 27 years later. Totally self-taught Monsieur Blanc is one of our most respected chefs and inspired by his mother’s use of fresh, local and seasonal produce, champions the connection between our food, the seasons and the land. Although every inch a stunning English country house, Le Manoir at Great Milton, near Thame, was appropriately built by a Frenchman named Aginscourt in 1356. The honey-coloured stone walls and mullions and towering chimneys are imposing, yet welcoming and the lavender-lined sandstone flags invite you up the path from the car park, which is complete with charging point for the greenest of drivers. Your bag will make it’s way to your room while you check in at reception and experience a first impression of Le Manoir’s charming staff and their friendly, welcoming efficiency. In his autobiography, A Taste of my Life, Raymond says: “It’s not a case of knowing the philosophy, I have to surround myself with people who can learn it, appreciate it and be part of the culture.”

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The Jade suite The staff certainly embrace the ideal, nothing was too much trouble during our stay and all was organised with a quiet professionalism. In the restaurant later the waiting staff were similarly helpful, ready to chat if required, extremely knowledgable about the dishes served and cooking techniques and spookily able to anticipate the needs of a guest! The rooms are of course sumptuous. We stayed in Jade, an exotic experience inspired by Raymond’s travels in South East Asia. Apparently Derren Brown was a recent incumbent. You enter up a short flight of stairs under the canopy of an Oriental tree into a sitting room/dining room in serene shades of jade and green - there were flames playing on pebbles in the fireplace, an ebonised dining table, huge comfy sofas and arm chairs and then, through thick drapes and up a couple of steps to one end, an enormous bed! The stylish slate bathroom with spacious walk in rainshower and steam room was stocked with fabulous soaps, oils and creams,

scented candles, and the softest fluffiest towels and robes. Moi enjoying a Champagne In the lounge there cocktail before dinner were chocolates and sugared almonds, fruit and Champagne and a selection of magazines, Vale Life included was that just for my benefit?! After perusing the menu over a cocktail in one of the sitting rooms we were shown to our table in the conservatory restaurant. It is impossible to do justice to what followed in words alone. It was indeed a gastronomic journey of discovery, each course accompanied by a specially selected wine to complement the dish. After a tricky start with the The Velouté de Chou-Fleur, Noix De St Jacques - I wasn’t sure whether to dip my scallop into the shot glass, or drink the velouté - we were off. Course after course appeared, each as amazing as the last, flavours both subtle and intense, lingering and brief, interesting textures,


Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Turbot & scallop with lemongrass jus Exploring the gardens

Le Manoir’s take on Tiramisu The morning after

Raymond Blanc OBE

alien ingredients (to us anyway), oak-smoked salmon confit, horseradish and mouli (a kind of white radish), butternut squash agnolotti (like ravioli) with wild mushrooms. Wild Cornish brill, Scottish scallop, Oscietra caviar, cucumber and wasabi beurre blanc, roasted Rhug Estate venison, braised celery heart, aigredouce sauce (a hint of sweet’n’sour). And still the courses came, they were sensibly portioned though and with the freshness and quality of the ingredients and the lightness of the preparation, I didn’t feel overfull, even after the ninth! Somerset goats milk Cardo cheese, apricot and vanilla chutney, followed by exotic fruit raviole, kaffir lime and coconut jus, we were in dessert territory and sadly on the home stretch! Pear Almondine, caramel croustillant and ginger sauce, and finally tiramisu flavours, Coeur de Guanaja chocolat cream. The menu is described as modern French but it is Raymond Blanc’s philosophy,

passion and search for culinary perfection that is behind the fabulous flavours and imagination in the creations that appear and draw influences from around the world. The restaurant is open to residents and nonresidents daily for lunch and dinner and it is no surprise that many of the sittings are fully booked. There is a selection of set menus to choose from, five, six, seven or nine course and an á la carte menu. There are of course cheaper places to dine but when you consider the quality of the food and the ingredients, the time, research and loving care that has gone into every dish, the standard of service and the delightful surroundings, £150 for nine courses actually represents value for money. Le Manoir is a grand vision designed to highlight the beautiful things in life. Monsieur Blanc sees it as ‘the sum of a million tiny details all working in perfect harmony together’ and he has

been working on it for nearly 30 years now. The journey has been a long one but the destination must surely be in sight. The Raymond Blanc Cookery School is open offering a variety of fun courses. The gardens and apple orchard are beautiful and produce a range of organic herbs and vegetables for use in the kitchens. The Belle Epoque private dining rooms are available for functions, weddings and business meetings and a programme of events brings actors, musicians and entertainers to offer added enjoyment during your visit. Le Manoir is ‘elegant, utterly welcoming and a place of beauty where craft, agriculture and science come together’, this was Monsieur Blanc’s vision and now it has become a reality. l Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Church Road, Great Milton, Oxford, OX44 7PD Tel: 01844 278881 Website: www.manoir.com

Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

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Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Have you ever had the yearning to be creative? To learn a new skill, or have some fun painting, printing, sketching or modelling? Perhaps ceramics and mosaics sound interesting, or even a ciment fondu!? There’s lots on offer at the Phoenix Studio for artists of all abilities...

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ucked away in a pretty meadow by the Phoenix Trail at Towersey, near Thame, is an inspirational art studio boasting fun, creative and educational courses and workshops for all abilities, whether you are trying something for the first time, or a skilled, lifelong artist. The Phoenix Studio is run by sculptors Peter Jones and Karin Ort and Karin’s son James. They firmly believe that a ‘can’t do’ attitude to art is just wrong! “There is an artist in all of us,” says Karin, “but we need to find the medium that suits.” “Lots of people come here unsure if they will be able to cope because they haven’t done anything like it before,” says James, “and then they really excel and enjoy it so much.” A nice environment helps, when you are trying to be creative and the Phoenix Studio is a warm, friendly, inviting place, where you find like-minded people who are only too happy to assist with advice and support - those creative juices will soon flow. Peter and Karin started weekly ‘Sculpting from Life’ workshops in January 2004. The studio was formerly an agricultural dwelling and it took a fair bit of work to transform the old, run down smallholding into a comfortable creative centre. Additional classes and courses are continuously added and a growing number of students visit, some from as far afield as Belgium! A new, large, purpose-built teaching studio was added last year, opened by TV presenter Fiona Bruce, who lives locally and is a fan of the centre. The studio is a lot more comfortable now, there’s more creative space, improved restroom facilities and proper disabled access to amenities. “The new studio is a lovely light airy space,” says James, “and in the Summer we often work outdoors too. “Local artist Eddie Kent regularly holds Raku Firing sessions outside the studio and teaches ceramics in the evenings!” New student, Debbie Mellor says ‘I don’t think that I am a creative or artistic person at all, but I have been very pleased with the ceramics pieces I have made on the Beginner’s Course at Phoenix Studio. 32

Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Life class in progress

The new studio building Below, Karin and Peter with Fiona Bruce for the opening of the new studio

Selection of courses Ceramics For Beginners 8 weeks from Thursday, February 23rd Untutored Life Drawing Sunday, February 26th History Of Art Study Days: February 26th & March 31st Lino Printing: March 3rd & 4th Painting A Still Life: March 24th & 25th Raku Firing Day: April 14th Mosaics: April 21st & 22nd See www.phoenixstudio.co.uk for details

“Eddie helps to explain the different techniques in a simple to understand and friendly way, and I have really enjoyed working with the clay and seeing my finished results. It’s been an extremely enjoyable and refreshing new experience for me. If I can do it, I think anyone could give it a try!’ Karin still teaches her popular clay life and portrait modelling classes, there are also oil painting classes, mosaic making, lino printing, raku firing, ceramics, dyed-cane basketry, all sorts of activities to delight and inspire. For those who would like to expand their knowledge of art there are two history of art study days coming up, with expert Naomi Phelan. The details are all on the website (www.phoenixstudio.co.uk).” The Phoenix Studio also opens its doors to artists and craftsmen who need a space to work, or the use of a kiln. You can book the studio for a private course with friends, family, or an organisation, and for non artistic activities as well if you so wish. Most Tuesdays are ‘Creative Tuesdays’ when anyone can bring the artwork of their

choice to the studio and spend the day creating alongside likeminded peoples. Whether you want to sculpt, roll, knit or sew; doodle, paint, weave or make - the Phoenix Studio should be able to accommodate. The charge is only £14 (10am to 4pm). The session is untutored but includes the use of modelling stands, tables, tools, easels, etc. l The Phoenix Studio, Chinnor Rd, Towersey, Nr Thame, Oxfordshire, OX9 3QZ James: 07765 980508, or 01844 698521 Karin: 07890 161305 Email: james@orts.co.uk Website: www.phoenixstudio.co.uk

Karin, left, gives tips in a clay portrait modelling class while James looks on


EAR WAX REMOVAL If you are troubled by excessive ear wax, causing discomfort or loss of hearing, Vale Health Aural Care Service can offer you a very effective treatment at its Haddenham Medical Centre Micro-suction is the most up-to-date procedure for removing obstructions in the ear using a high-powered binocular operating microscope. Very delicate instruments are used to: Remove material blocking the ear canal, including wax, infected debris, dead skin layers or foreign bodies Apply medication to the ear Compared to syringing, micro-suction is: Safer Quicker Better tolerated More effective

What does it cost?

NEW range of wide-fitting footwear for men and women l NEW Stairsteady and Stairlift l Mobility scooters and powerchairs sales and servicing l Walk-in baths and bathlifts l Riser/recline/lift chairs and posture chairs l Adjustable beds l Lightweight wheelchairs, rollators and walking frames l Special terms on larger items/long term hire on mobility scooters l

Vale Health offers a competitively priced service at £80 for an initial consultation, assessment of both ears, removal of wax and any other debris present, the application of medication where necessary and, if required, a letter to your GP.

Call now

(Monday—Friday 9 am to 5 pm)

01494 555204

or e-mail for an appointment: info@cv-health.co.uk

Bowman’s S ta i n e d G l a s s

For all glass repairs including: w Leaded lights w Conservatories w Mirrors w w Sealed units w Bespoke windows and doors w

Studio 4, Fleet Marston Farm, Aylesbury, HP18 0PZ Telephone: 01296 651777 Mobile: 07703 536931 Website: www.bowmansstainedglass.biz Email: bowmansglass@btconnect.com

l Quality dentistry in a friendly and relaxed environment l Established 40 years l Full Hygienist Service l Advanced treatments available including: Veneers, Implants and Whitening l Open: Mon & Wed 8.15am-5.30pm, Tue & Thur 8.15am-7.30pm, Fri 8.15am-3.30pm

Tavistock House Dental Practice 77 Tring Road, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. HP20 1LE Tel: 01296 481615 Email: info@tavistockhouse.co.uk Website: www. tavistockhouse.co.uk Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

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Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

www.reactivatebucks.org 01296 585215

Come February our thoughts turn to Valentine’s Day, pulses racing and hearts all a-flutter. But did you know that, rather appropriately, February is also National Heart Month...

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Sir Steve Redgrave

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Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

t’s nice to think of others but now is the time to give yourself some loving too. Your heart is a muscle, so it needs a regular workout to keep it in shape (for advice see: www.bhf.org.uk). Why not start by finding yourself some fun ways to get fit, feel healthier and begin looking after your heart? A useful first port of call could be the Reactivate website (www.reactivatebucks.org). Whether you’re looking for a gentle introduction to exercise, or some high octane sports action, you’ll be sure to find the right activity with Reactivate. With a click of your mouse this non-profit campaign can connect you to hundreds of activities taking place right on your doorstep (www.reactivatebucks.org).

You can also give your heart a warm, happy glow by helping your friends, family or colleagues to get active. Sir Steve Redgrave, five-times Olympic Gold Medallist, would be thanking you for it and now there’s all the support you need from Sport Makers. Sir Steve explains: “By helping people you know get involved in sport, you’ll be doing something amazing for your friends and local community, as well as having fun yourself. You don’t need medals to become a sporting hero.” Becoming a Sport Maker can involve anything from finding a pitch and getting the lads together for a regular kick-about, to finding out what activity colleagues would like to do in their lunch break. You don’t need any qualifications or experience but you do need to be sixteen or above. So why not take your first step to becoming a Sport Maker by registering for a free, inspirational event taking place at Stoke Mandeville Stadium next month? It will give you all the advice and support you need plus free Adidas kit and the chance to win London 2012 prizes. So whether you want to lose weight, get fit, make new friends or learn new skills, there’s never been a better time to look after yourself and others. See panel far right for details.


Follow Bucks Sport on

Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Facebook and Twitter

Get your heart racing!

Stoke Mandeville Stadium

Samantha Amend, bottom left, and below with her Marlow running group. Bottom right, Heather and the Raggy Dolls Netball Team

Free Events

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unning is among many activities you can enjoy with Reactivate. Running isn’t simply about the exercise, it’s about the buzz, the boost in mood, confidence and self-esteem. With new running groups in the area there’s never been a better time to get started. Regardless of your age, fitness level, motivation or location you can be part of a running group. Log onto www.reactivate bucks.org/running for details, or call 01296 585215. If you want to run with friends, family or work colleagues we’ll put you in touch with a group that’s convenient for you, or help you to set up and lead a running group. Samantha Amend, a working mum, has encouraged people from her local

community in Marlow to come along to her running group. She says: “Thanks to the training I received I can help people to reach their goals. I feel I’m giving something back.” However you want to make sport happen we’re here to help. Among the people we’ve worked with is Heather Batty from Aylesbury. Heather keeps her friends on their toes with netball. She’s fundraising and entertainment organiser for local netball team, the Raggy Dolls. Her reason for making sport happen is simple. As Heather says: “Helping to keep the team going gives me a real buzz and sense of achievement.” We need more Sport Makers like Heather so why not take your first step by coming along to one of our free events?

he first step is to register for the inspirational Sport Maker event taking place next month. As well as meeting top athletes, you’ll gain the skills and opportunities to get involved in sport locally. So why not become a Sport Maker, enjoy lots of benefits and bring the magic of London 2012 alive where you live? Don’t miss the forthcoming Sport Maker event – you could win a month’s free membership to Harpers Fitness Club at Stoke Mandeville Stadium! At: Stoke Mandeville Stadium (www.stokemandevillestadium.co.uk), the national centre for disability sport and the birthplace of the Paralympics, near Aylesbury. When: 6.30-7.30pm on 12th March 2012. Register: www.reactivatebucks.org/ sportmakers or call Sports Maker co-ordinator Stephen Green, on: 01296 585626 for a chat. You get: Free Adidas kit, a free one day pass to Harpers (which includes the gym, group training, swimming and tennis) and the chance to win London 2012 prizes plus a month’s free membership to Harpers.

Win a Total Transformation Package

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Ladies from Oving discover the fun of running together

Before

eep up with the latest information about Reactivate (including the forthcoming Give it Go Week – 20th to 26th February – when there’s lots of activities to try for free) by registering on www.reactivatebucks.org If you register this month you can win some great prizes including ‘The Total Transformation Package’ (valued at £200) at Rebecca Hill’s Hair Gallery, Beauty Retreat and Fashion House (www. rebeccahillcompany.com) in Princes Risborough. Here you, or a loved one, can enjoy top to toe styling including a hair colour, cut and style plus a new look in make-up and clothes. After What better way to show you care? Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

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Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Super slimmer cycles to fitness Discovering a love of cycling after shedding a mammoth 8st 2lb in just over a year has earned 39-year old Michelle McBarnett, from Aylesbury, the title of Rosemary Conley Diet & Fitness Magazine Super Fit Female Slimmer of the Year 2012.

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ichelle, who used to weigh 20st 2lb and wear a size 20/22, now weighs just 12st and is a slimline size 12/14. She received her award, plus £1,000 cash, from Rosemary Conley, CBE, during a glittering ceremony at the London Marriott in January. Michelle, who used to be on medication for high blood pressure because of her weight, has just completed her first bike marathon, in just two hours and six minutes. She now cycles four miles every day and up to 30 miles at a weekend. Her next challenge is to complete the 54 mile London to Brighton bike ride, something she never thought she would be healthy enough to do. Michelle joined her local Rose-

mary Conley Diet and Fitness Club in Aylesbury in May 2010 after being told by her doctor that she needed to lose weight for the sake of her health. “At only 37-years-of-age the thought of having to take tablets for the rest of my life was a real shock,” says Michelle. “Rather than having a final goal weight I set my sights on getting off medication as quickly as possible.” After the first month, Michelle succeeded in losing half a stone and exercise started to play a huge role in her success. “I’d biked a bit in the past and knew I enjoyed it so I started to do a circular 20 minute cycle route around Aylesbury,” adds  Michelle. She gradually  increased her training and completed  her first  marathon last August.

Michelle before her amazing weight loss. Right, the new slim Michelle with RC instructor Jo In May 2011, a year after starting to take tablets for her high blood pressure, Michelle was taken off the medication and, in June 2011, just 13 months after joining the Rosemary Conley class, she succeeded in reaching her final target weight loss of 8st 2lb. For details of local Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Clubs call Joanna Beardsmore-Dilks on 01296 485933 or visit www.rosemaryconley.com



Drop a dress size

    

at your Rosemary Conley class

Free

  



Come and have a fantastic time in our amazing INDOOR and OUTDOOR children’s activity centre. We have play frames, a sports arena, bouncy castle and dedicated toddler area. You can also enjoy our freshly prepared-to-order meals from the new hot food menu at the WHIZZKIDZ Café. WHIZZKIDZ is a great place to come whatever the weather!



  

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Barbershop - Walter’s Ash

To find out more, please visit: www.whizzkidzthame.co.uk WHIZZKIDZ, 2-6 Jefferson Way, Thame, Oxon, OX9 3SZ Tel: 01844 217555 Email: info@ whizzkidzthame.co.uk * to obtain your free Regular Frutina Ice drink, hand in this advert by 29th February 2012, when you pay the full entry fee to WHIZZKIDZ. Conditions apply. Not valid with any other offers. Only one voucher per child. Vale Spr12

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Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Free Frutina Ice Drink*

Open Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri: 9.30am to 5pm Saturdays: 7.30am to 4pm Shear Madness, 245 Main Road, Walter’s Ash, Bucks, HP14 4HT. Tel: 07742 361711 Email: s.madness@yahoo.co.uk www.facebook.com/shear.madness1


Record smashed!

THE Guinness World Record for a singles Squash marathon was broken at Racquets Fitness Centre, Thame in January by two veteran squash players from the town. Guy Fotherby and Darren Withey played 475 games of competitive Squash in 31hrs 19mins and 4secs, beating the previous record of 29 hrs and 55mins. Hundreds of people followed the event on twitter. So far, the two record-breakers have raised almost £9,000 through sponsorship for their two charities, Cancer Research and the Chiltern Centre for Disabled Children, both of which are close to the hearts of both players. Their target is £10,000 and more donations and pledges are still coming in. There is still time to make a donation to either of the charities via the links from the Racquets website: www.racquets-fitness-centre.com

Are you worried about your weight? If you are Cambridge Weight Plan could be the answer. Together with your Consultant, you will work out a plan that suits your lifestyle – helping you achieve your goals.

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Why not make a positive decision to change your life and contact me today.

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North, West & East Aylesbury, Halton, Ivinghoe, Pitstone, Tring & Winslow Keri Donnellan 07900 987230 www.facebook.com/ JazzerciseBucksBedsHerts South & East Aylesbury, Haddenham Princes Risborough & Thame Sue Morris 07752 448026 www.facebook.com/ JazzerciseBucksandOxon

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Special offer for Vale Life readers: Discounts up to 25% off sessions between 10am – 4pm Mon – Fri (bookings made before 01/03/2012) Mobile in & around Aylesbury & Chilterns area. Sessions take place in your own home; you don’t even have to step outside the front door. Call Lizzie Evans at Function Fitness  for your FREE consultation: 07967-305551

lizzie@function-fitness.co.uk www.function-fitness.co.uk

FOCUSSED FITNESS SOLUTIONS TO GET YOU ON TOP FORM Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

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Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Aylesbury’s impressive new theatre has been open over a year now. A fine addition to the town’s architecture, its stylish contemporary construction has won several awards. What goes on within is of more interest to most locals though, which actually may be more a case of, what doesn’t..?

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nspired by the rolling Chiltern Hills, Aylesbury’s landmark, theatre, Waterside, is not only a stunning entertainment venue but an impressive addition to the town’s skyline. Designed by Norman Bragg for London based architects Renton Howard Wood Levin (RHWL), the building took some four years to plan and three more to construct and kit out. Design inspiration came from the Chiltern Hills and Aylesbury Vale. The building’s timber fins reflect local forests, while the curved roof captures the essence of the rolling hills. Aylesbury Waterside was officially opened, just over a year ago, by Cilla Black on October 12th, 2010. The performance that night was Northern Ballet’s Swan Lake, which Vale Life was lucky enough to attend. It was a breathtaking show and demonstrated what a fabulous facility this was to be for the area. The main auditorium with its large flexible stage caters for up to 1200 seated, or 1800 standing (with stall seating removed) and boasts superb vision and excellent sound reproduction in all areas. The technical specification includes a Carmen electroacoustic enhancement system which electronically adjusts the bass acousJulian Lloyd-Webber tics (designed for speech Monday, March 5th and amplified events) to provide a more reverberant sound for symphonic and choral performances. The state of the art design enables multiple 38

Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

The Lady in the Van

seating configurations and the flexibility to host gala dinners, charity events, conferences, award ceremonies, exhibitions, live screenings, television recordings, weddings and much more. Upstairs the Second Space is much more intimate, a performance area with the flexibility to accommodate small scale theatre, community performances, music gigs, small award ceremonies, workshops, art exhibitions, lectures and conferences. There are two further, smaller, meeting rooms available for hire and back on the ground floor, a spacious reception cafe-bar. For those who have yet to visit, you must. It is more comfortable and convenient than most West End venues and boasts a

programme that features many of the same stars and shows. It is currently managed by the Ambassador Theatre Group who are delivering a dynamic and diverse programme of exciting live entertainment, from electrifying West End productions, hilarious comedy, rocktastic bands, dance spectaculars and the best children’s shows. The new spring season is underway and already chasing away those Winter blues! For starters there are musical treats galore: the writers of sell-out sensation Dreamboats and Petticoats are back with Save the Last Dance for Me, (Feb13th-18th), a sackful of 60s hits that’ll have you grooving, in a retro fashion, to pop’s golden age. For the swingingest party in town check out The Rat Pack Live from Las Vegas (Feb 20th-25th) and for something a little more tropical, allow yourself to be swept away to the South Pacific in May (15th-26th), when Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical comes to Aylesbury, following a sellout season at London’s Barbican. The show stars West Side Story’s Daniel Koek and EastEnders’ Alex Ferns and is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the lavish and breathtaking Lincoln Center Theater production. The company’s record-breaking reinvention of South Pacific, swept the 2008 New York Tony Awards, played to sold-out houses on Broadway for two years, was televised across America, and is now touring the UK! For drama queens there’s a chance to be heartbroken and heart-warmed by a play from one of the UK’s best known playwrights; Activate Dance Sunday, April 1st


South Pacific, (May 15th-26th)

Alan Bennett’s The Lady in the Van. Don’t miss the return of the National Theatre who, in the Autumn, brought James Corden and the hugely successful One Man, Two Guv’nors to the Waterside. This time it’s award-winning actor Anthony Sher in the funny and fascinating Travelling Light, (Mar 27th-31st). Alternatively enjoy the suspense of J. B. Priestley’s classic thriller, An Inspector Calls, (Mar 20th-24th), directed by Oscar nominated, Stephen Daldry (The Reader, The Hours, Billy Elliot) which is arriving direct from its fourth West End season. For dance fans, a pas de deux - two ballet masterpieces beautifully performed by the Russian State Ballet and Orchestra of Siberia: La Fille Mal Garde, (Mar 15th) and Swan Lake, (16th-17th), will delight and enthral, while for Strictly devotees and ballroom fans in general, Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag, (Mar 4th), team with a live orchestra, singer Lance Ellington and guest dancers in glamorous routines to the music of Gershwin, Berlin and Porter. Ladies can get the girls together for some non-stop laugh out loud musical comedy with Gillian Taylforth in Girls Night, (Jun 12th-16th), or join Margi Clarke and the Hormonal Housewives, (Mar 25th), battling against weight gain, weight loss, mood swings, wine and pmt! Or, for the full monty, enjoy one of the UK’s top male glamour troups in the Dreamboys Full Frontal Tour, (Apr 20th). If you love musicals, Back to Broadway, (Apr 8th), brings you the best songs from the hit shows woven into an enchanting story about a young girl’s dream to become a star, it’s a real family treat. Celebrity psychic Sally Morgan, (Mar 12th), will delight and astound the spiritual and the curious, while youngsters can look forward to joining Peppa Pig for Treasure Hunt, (July 28th29th), and the Little Big Club, (Apr 15th), which includes children’s favourites: Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder and Fireman Sam!

If you enjoy a good laugh, there’s more comedy than you can shake a tickling stick at: An Audience with Pam Ayres, (Mar 10th), controversial American Doug Stanhope, Irish/ Australian superstar Jimeoin, (Mar 11th), TV favourite Paul Merton, (Apr 18th), and mock the week’s Stewart Francis, (Apr 17th). Plus in the Second Space the return of the Comedy Club on the first Friday of every month with a selection of the finest up and coming comedians from across the UK. For music lovers The Osmonds, (Mar 13th), stop by on their biggest ever UK tour, The Searchers, (Mar 14th), show off their classic hits and there’s rock’n’roll in That’ll be the Day, (Mar 8th). Former singer with Ace, Squeeze and Mike and the Mechanics, Paul Carrack, (Feb 19th), is always good value with his soulful rock vocals Paul Carrack Sunday, Feb 19th and a top quality band while X-Factor finalist Andy Abraham, (Apr 19th), shows he can swing it big band style. Aylesbury’s Hobble on the Cobbles (Feb 26th) comes in from the cold this year and onto the Waterside stage with a whole host of most excellent local bands and professional acts including: Platform Soul, and The British Guitar Academy’s ‘All-Star’ Band. Classical concerts include two dates with Oxford’s Professional Symphony Orchestra Oxford Philomusica, Mon, March 5th, featuring cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, and Sunday, June 10th, with pianist Benjamin Grosvenor and the London

Todd Carty in Spamalot, (Apr 9th-14th)

Symphony Chorus performing Grieg’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in A minor and one of the most romantic piano concertos ever written, Carmina Burana by Carl Orff. Best of Bucks, (Sun 18th), Bucks biggest talent show, is back, with a celebrity judging panel that includes legendary broadcaster and DJ, Dave Lee Travis. Enter and you may get to perform on the Waterside Stage, or come along and support the acts taking part. It’s all in aid of local charities the Bucks and Milton Keynes Community Foundations. LiveScreen at the Waterside is a programme of live screenings from theatres around the world. Don’t miss, live from the National Theatre: The Comedy of Errors, (Mar 1st), with Lenny Henry playing Antipholus of Syracuse and She Stoops to Conquer, (Mar 29th), and from the Royal Opera House, The Royal Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet (Mar 22nd) and the opera Rigoletto, (Apr 17th). For full details of the Aylesbury Waterside programme see their website at: www. atgtickets.com/ aylesbury, or pick up a brochure from the foyer. Tickets are on sale now - you can book today at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre Box Office: call 0844 871 7607 or visit: www.atgtickets.com/ aylesbury. Britain’s first new theatre of the millennium, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre holds an exciting position in theatre history and marks the beginning of a new era of entertainment for the Vale and beyond - don’t miss out, there’s some cracking shows to see! l Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Exchange Street, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP20 1UG Telephone Booking: 0844 871 7607 Website: www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

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Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Thame’s Vintage and Modern Guitar shop recently celebrated its first birthday. The store boasts an ever changing range of fascinating instruments from starter guitars for under £100 to classic axes such as a 1964 Fender Stratocaster and a 1934/5 Gibson Super 400...

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t’s gone better than I’d hoped,” says Phil Carwardine, who runs Vintage and Modern Guitars (V&M) with help from wife, Maria and daughter Sophie. “In the shop we’ve developed a great regular clientelle, some have become good friends and there’s a bit of banter and the occasional jam! We’ve a few bluegrass fans who like to get picking, which is great! Guitarists come from all over the area now as word is spreading. “I’m stocking Gretsch, which I’m personally very passionate about, they are lovely guitars. I’m playing a ‘57 Country Gent myself at the moment. I’ve also got an exclusive deal on a brilliant American brand Reverend. They make real hipster guitars,

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a bit different, great pick ups, nice to play, great value. They are very cool guitars and you won’t find them anywhere else over here. “We’re USA Fender dealers, the company is really on a roll, they are making great guitars right now, I hope to get a Gibson dealership this year and in the meantime we usually have a few second hand ones in stock. We also have Duesenberg, Larson, Guild, Burny, Crafter... “James Trussart is a French luthier making metal bodied guitars, stunning to look at and play. His Telecasters are a real high energy guitar, darker sounding than a standard Tele.” The shop stocks banjos and ukeleles, lap steels, mandolins, steel guitars and acoustics - Martin and Takamine among others. There’s

Phil Carwardine tries a Gretsch for size at Vintage and Modern Guitars

Fender, Vox and Cornell amps and the retro Evil Robot which are 1950s Magnatone clones, strings, effect pedals, including a new range from Electro Harmonix, and accessories, even drum sticks!” Word is spreading and V&M has been attracting a steady stream of pro guitarists and sessioneers, but there’s plenty for us mere mortals too, from entry level Fender Squiers to a real Gretsch from only £199! “The majority of our stock is under £500,” says Phil. “We have something for all levels, guitars to start on and guitars to aspire to!” l Vintage & Modern Guitars, 1A Cornmarket, Thame, Oxon, OX9 3DX. Tel: 01844 261447 Website: www.vintageandmodernguitars.co.uk or www.facebook.com/vintageandmodern


Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Thame’s Six Bells is one of the town’s most popular pubs. It was refurbished last year with a quirky cycling theme and is now to be the starting point for a two-wheeled charity challenge...

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ycling mad staff at The Six Bells, Thame, have come up with a cracking way of raising vital funds for a local hospice, no doubt working up a bit of a thirst at the same time! The Six Bells 14 Bells Bike Ride is a sponsored cycle which will take participants part, or all of the way around a 55 mile route connecting four Fullers pubs with ‘bells’ in their names. The riders will saddle up on Sunday, 25th March and pedal off from The Six Bells in Thame. Sam Davey, general manager at pub and event co-organiser says, “There are four Fuller’s Master Cellarman pubs within biking distance of Thame, which have one or more ‘bells’ in their names. I wanted to raise money for the local Sobell House Hospice charity and thought that a bike ride incorporating the four Bell pubs in the area was rather fitting. “The route goes from The Six Bells in Thame to The Bell at Chearsley, across Aylesbury to The Bell in Bierton and then on to The Five Bells at Leighton Buzzard. Entrants have the option of finishing their ride there, or of completing the loop by cycling back to The Six Bells again.” Add up all those bells plus the one in SoBell House and you have 14, hence The Six Bells 14 Bells Bike Ride! If you are interested in taking part please pop into one of the participating pubs for a registration form or email: sixbellsbike@ yahoo.com for more information. You can also call Susanna on 07580 436760. If you would like to help either by sponsoring the riders, by donating a raffle prize, kit, or clothing or by sponsoring the event, there are a variety of promotional options, so please use the above contact details. Sobell House Hospice provides care to improve the quality of life of patients and their families who are facing life-threatening illness. The hospice currently costs around £4 million a year to run, much of which is raised through the support and generosity of individuals and companies throughout the community.

“We would like to unite the community and local businesses with this sporting challenge,” says Sam, “and turn the ride into an annual event, so any help will be much appreciated. Please support us any way you can... And get out your bike and start training!” The Six Bells is a beautiful old coaching inn right at the heart of the historic market town of Thame and Sam’s passion for bikes and cycling is reflected in the pub’s decor. From a chandelier made of an old bicycle wheel, to the last orders “time” bell made from a cog, bicycle chain and pedals, the quirky theme is much in evidence. Sam loves her bike as much as her pub, and can often be found ‘relaxing’ between busy shifts, by cycling for 20 miles! Susanna has worked at The Six Bells since March 2011, loves the outdoors (especially coastal walks) and shares Sam’s passion for cycling and a challenge! You can contact the event organisers, Susanna Jeffery and Sam Davey, at The Six Bells, 44 Lower High Street, Thame, Oxfordshire. OX9 2AD. Telephone: 01844 212 088 To sponsor The Bells’s fundraising efforts for the Sobell House Hospice visit: www.justgiving.com/SixBellsSobellBikeRide You can also follow the event on twitter at: www.twitter.com/SixBells14BellRide For more information on the Sobell House Hospice see: www.sobellhospicecharity.org.uk

Six Bells manager Sam Davey on her bike Above, The Six Bells

Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

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Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

In the world of film 3D is all the rage but for local vehicle owners 3B could soon be the main feature. Technologically up with the times the family garage and hire company believes in personal service, a professional approach and some good old fashioned value for money...

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B Hire and Servicing is a family run garage and vehicle hire company based in Haddenham. Run by Alan, Lesley and Ross Batting, the three Bs, the company offers short and long term car and van hire, vehicle servicing and maintenance and a full valeting service, at very competitive prices. Alan, who is originally from Beaconsfield, is a mechanic by trade with some 40 years experience. When his wife, Lesley, a microbiologist, was made redundant in 2002, the couple decided to team up with son Ross and take on a local Milton Common vehicle hire business that was up for sale. Ross, who was brought up in Thame and went to Lord Williams’s School, had worked in marketing and telesales, so the three had an interesting combination of skills to pool. “The first few years were tough,” says Ross. “It was a steep learning curve. When we took the business on there were 65 vehicles all on lease, so the overheads were massive. If they weren’t out on hire it was costing us a fortune! The insurance costs were huge too. It’s taken some time to restructure but now we own most of the vehicles and we’ve got better deals on insurance and other outgoings, which has helped us to be even more competitive on price. In April 2006 3B relocated to Townsend Garage in Haddenham: “I think there’s been a garage on the site since the 1940s,” says Ross. “It’s been a good move as we are now able to offer garage servicing too. The hire business can be quite seasonal, busy at Christmas and in the Summer, but the car servicing and valeting keeps us busy all year.” “Alan runs the service side. People have

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We also organise MOTs, although we don’t actually do them on the premises. “We are contactable 24 hours a day, so if your car has broken down out of hours and needs towing in, we should be able to help and then sort you out with a hire vehicle or courtesy car to keep mobile.” “On the hire side we are a lot more flexible than the big names,” says Ross. “We tailor each hire to the individual, as every hire is different - from a one day long wheelbase van hire, for a customer who is moving home, to the long term hire of a work van for a local tradesman, a people carrier for a holiday trip, or a car for a visitor to the area. We have all sizes of vehicle from small cars up to 17 Alan and Ross Batting seater mini buses, small vans, transits, box vans and Luton vans with tail-lifts. been looking to cut costs over the last couple “If you are hiring one of our vans out, your of years and we’ve gained a lot of new own car could be serviced and valeted during customers. We charge much less than main that time, ready for your return.” dealers and there’s nothing to lose now The 3B valeting service ranges from a in coming to an independent garage for a Quick Wash at £5 for a jet wash, wax and service. Even if your vehicle is less than three wheel clean, to a Full Valet - from £40 for a years old, it won’t effect its warranty. But it full internal valet, full external valet, engine does cost less - a main dealer might charge steam clean and boot clean (See: www.3bhire. over £100 for labour, we charge £50. We can co.uk for details). also offer a courtesy vehicle. 3B is currently “Diagnostic offering a free equipment is one TLC valet worth of our biggest £25 with every car expenses - there service! are so many That is amazing electronic value when you components to consider a basic cause problems service may only these days. We’ve cost £49 plus invested in the parts. technology, which At a time when is very expensive everyone is talking and now have to 3B long wheelbase van for hire about 3D and 3G, pay about £1,000 perhaps getting a year to keep it to know 3B could be a much more rewarding up to date! experience! “We cater for any make and model though, petrol or diesel, cars and vans. We service l 3B Vehicle Hire, Townsend Garage, Thame and we supply and fit all the usual bits like Road, Haddenham, Bucks, HP17 8BY tyres, exhausts, batteries and so on. It’s all Tel: 01844 291430 here under one roof which customers find Fax: 01844 292835 convenient. A minor service (including free Email: sales@3bhire.co.uk valet) could cost from only £49 plus any parts. Website: www. 3bhire.co.uk


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Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

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Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

With a background in motorsport that includes tuning rally cars for the X-Games in Los Angeles, stage rallying with Ken Block and dodging the mud in the Welsh forests, Auto Torque mechanics Chris and Tom are more than capable of servicing your car, in fact they could up its performance...

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hris Marshall, founded Auto Torque in 2007. The firm comprises Chris and fellow motorsport mechanic Tom Gaunt. The lads honed their trade working for top-flight motorsport teams both here and in the USA and Canada. Now with a fully-equipped workshop based just off the A41 Aylesbury to Bicester road, at Kingswood, they are applying their skills to any make and model of car for routine servicing and repairs, as well as specialising in tuning and maintenance for the performance car market and offering performance upgrades. “My dad was always into cars,” says Chris. “He was usually working on one outside our house and I used to be out there with him watching and tinkering!” Chris was brought up in Oving and went to Waddesdon School. He studied engineering in the sixth form and then Motorsport Engineering at Brookes University, while doing an apprenticeship as a motorsport mechanic with a local firm. “After university I spent three years working for a Motorsport team rallying Mitsubishi EVOs around the UK,” says Chris, who is now 29. “Then in 2007 I went freelance as a motorsport mechanic and spent a year doing Rally America working with the Rockstar Energy Drink Rally Team on their Subaru Impreza rally cars. We travelled all over the states. “Everyone involved in motorsport is so passionate about it, it’s in their blood. It’s something they love doing, whether they love the adrenalin of driving, or, like myself, just love working on the cars and seeing them race. Watching them compete gives me a real sense of achievement. “In America I worked with two drivers, Tanner Foust, who is a professional racing and stunt driver and now co-hosts the American version of Top Gear and Australian rally driver Andy Pinker, pictured opposite. “When I came back I set up a workshop at my parents place in Oving and started servicing cars while doing a bit of weekend rallying. To begin with it was mostly looking after

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Performance Car Specialists Full Workshop Facilities

Engine Diagnostics

Performance Parts family Stockists Re-maps & Diesel Tuning and emergency call outs. We can collect your vehicles for friends and but ECU gradually Competition Preparation Fast & Friendly Service word spread, business increased and I realised car if you can’t get to us. 4 Wheel Laser Alignment 20+ Years Performance Experience Servicing & Repairs Performance Club Membership I needed bigger premises. “Working on rally cars you are trained to “About a 18 months ago I found our worklook at the performance side of things and are shop at Kingswood. It’s just up the side of aware of areas that suffer wear and tear and Lodge Garage, the Mazda dealership. heat damage. You are always looking at ways “Tom, who is originally from Dinton, of improving cooling, tyre wear, handling, the works with me full-time. He also comes from suspension set up... When you are rallying the a rally background - I’ve worked with him becar needs to be performing at its very best fore and he’s a great mechanic. My dad Ross and tiny little things can effect that, from tyre (www.rossmarshalllogistics.co.uk) helps out pressure to geometry set up and tyre comtoo. We have a recovery truck for breakdowns pounds. For people who want to get the best Aylesbury, Bucks HP18 0QJ Call today for a free and no obligation quote email: info@autotorque.net

For specialist advice and quotes call: 01296 770546

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Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Chris Marshall, back and Tom Gaunt, front with the Auto Torque Mitsubishi

www.autotorque.net


Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

Andy Pinker in action out of their road vehicle we look at these sort of things and can offer suspension upgrades, brake upgrades and engine builds to make them faster, handle better and stop quicker. “We take extra care on standard vehicles too. When we inspect a car say pre-MOT, or for a service, we will go that bit further and do a full safety check. We’ll look at wear on bushes and dampers and do spanner checks to see that all your bolts are tight - they can wear loose just from general use - as well as standard stuff like checking tyre wear and pressure, wiper condition and so on. We’ll go through everything from suspension and brakes to bolt torque settings, which effects cornering and roadholding. We like to go that little bit further and do a really thorough job.” Auto Torque specialises in Japanese performance cars and Mitsubishi in particular, as Chris is particularly experienced with these vehicles but is happy working on any make and model, from basic runabouts to BMWs. “We do a lot of general everyday servicing and repair work, MOTs and so on for regular road users as well as our performance car work,” say Chris. “We may be specialists but we are not expensive. Our labour charges are only £45 per hour which is a fraction of the cost of main dealers and even if you have a new car, your warranty will still be maintained if we service your vehicle. “We can collect and return your car if necessary and have a courtesy car available

Trina and Shamus if waiting for servicing to take place is not possible. “If your car has broken down then we can collect it on the recovery truck and deliver it back when repaired, if necessary.” The Auto Torque workshops are open Monday To Friday from 8am to 6pm and on Saturdays by appointment. They have a website at www.autotorque.net with further information on their services. “We’ve invested in the latest diagnostic equipment,” says Chris. “It’s crucial for reading the computer codes that modern cars generate. There’s a lot of sensors in vehicles today but the computer will generally point us in the right direction if there is a fault showing. It’s then up to us to see if there is a problem, or if it’s just a faulty sensor or wire! “We can also do tuning and analysis and offer re-maps for all petrol or diesel cars. “Re-mapping involves tweaking the original factory Engine Control Unit (ECU) settings to make the car more fuel efficient and increase performance. It seems unbelievable but you really can increase performance and save fuel at the same time by adjusting the standard settings! This costs from £250 but is well worthwhile if you do a reasonable amount of mileage, you can increase fuel efficiency by 15% to 20%.” s a try! Chris is currently driving a Nissan ive uGT-R, G y l which is quite a sporty You’d think pointed endnumber. disbyapthe Frienough becars t ’ & he would shave had of n o t Fa but heYisoustillwvery much a motorweekend,

Performance Car Specialists Full Workshop Facilities Performance Parts Stockists Competition Preparation 4 Wheel Laser Alignment Servicing & Repairs

Engine Diagnostics ECU Re-maps & Diesel Tuning Fast & Friendly Service 20+ Years Performance Experience Performance Club Membership

Team Auto Torque on the track sport enthusiast and enjoys racing his other car, the Auto Torque Mitsubishi EVO 7, with its E7 FAT number plate, for fun at weekends. “We’ll do some fine tuning and take part in some sprints and track days this year,” he says. Watch out for him in this year’s British Sprint Championships! l Autotorque, Unit 1, The Lodge Yard, Kingswood, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP18 0QJ Tel: 01296 770546 Email: info@autotorque.net Website: www.autotorque.net

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Performance Car Specialist Services l Standard servicing Full Workshop Facilities Engine Diagnostics l MOT’s arranged Performance Parts Stockists ECU Re-maps & Diesel Tuning l Parts Supply Competition Preparation Fast & Friendly Service l 4-wheel laser alignment 4 Wheel Laser Alignment 20+ Years Performance Exper l Performance upgrades and tuning Servicing & Repairs Performance Club Membershi l Full engine rebuilds l Manual transmission rebuilds Tuning l ECU Re-maps l Forged Engine Builds l Transmission Upgrades l Nitrous systems l Brake systems l Suspension packages l Exhaust systems and Turbo upgrades l Clutch packages Vale Life : Feb/Mar 2012

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Vale Life Magazine Feb/Mar 2012