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Vale L fe

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

Your free magazine for Aylesbury, Thame and the surrounding area

Take me home


Feb/Mar 2011 espresso bar

A fine blend of Colombian and

African coffee, salads, baguettes, newspapers and lovely people 7a Fort End, Haddenham, Bucks, HP17 8EJ. Tel: 01844 290426 Also at Haddenham and Thame Parkway and Bicester North.

Little_italy_128x190_montage.indd 1


Get fit - Reactivating Bucks They’re off! Point to point at Kingston Blount Feels good! Pampered with purpose in Stoke Mandeville Stately interiors at home in Aylesbury, Matt Brown, competitions, and much more... w Healthy eating cook book w ideal home show tickets w Weleda bath milk w w Meal for Two at the Village Gate w Secret guides w Travel show tickets w

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

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

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

The professional design and build service for residential and commercial property From fence panels and back door steps, to complete garden redesigns with paving, turfing, excavations, retaining walls and planting, driveways, patios, decking, water features, ponds...

JOB VACANCY - We are currently recruiting Skilled landscape gardeners and experienced garden labourer sought. Call Rodney on: 07732 329118

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

External stone at Great Milton and Bracknell

to Oxford



Directions from The Gallery, Thame


For all your stone needs

to Great Milton

Great Milton Views Farm Great Milton Oxon OX44 7NW TEL 01844 279274

to Great Milton


to Thame

to Great Haseley to Little Milton


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

Chiltern Fireplaces

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

Professional bookbinding by Malcolm Kew British Museum trained craftsman High quality leather binding, gold tooling, paperback binding, thesis binding, short run biographies, library binding, journal or magazine binding, repairs and restoration. 61A North Street, Thame, Oxon, OX9 3BH (opposite Thame Library) Tel: 01844 212035. Mob: 07859 880087 Email:

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

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

Open Monday to Saturday

Quality Plastering and Ceilings Perfect results every time John Wiggins & Son Plastering Services

Les Liney

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

Tel: 01844 292783 Mobile: 07860 795236

Old Farm Workshops Haddenham Road Kingsey, HP17 8LS

Ceilings, coving, repairs, insurance work

Same day, or next day quotation Call: 01296 612074 Mobile: 07905 833190 Email: Website: 72 Worlds End Lane, Weston Turville, Aylesbury


Complementary Health Centre

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

Tel: 01296 622611

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

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

Spread the word across The Vale: see: for details

And they’re off!


One Hungry Man: Matt Brown

Just the one


What is love?

10 Eye for design


Small Town Girl: Penny Harper

Totally floored


Tricky stuff


Love, lust & lingerie

6 8


Saddle up for a day at the races Stately style at Aylesbury’s new store English craftsmen and vorsprung durch technik Paul and Tim lay down the sole food

14 Give it a go!

Get active with free sports sessions

Rain can’t wreck the perfect butty

Is the answer at The White Hart Studio? Everyone’s got the love bug

Sylar’s magic goes multimedia Alisha’s guide to what lies beneath

Class act

30 A shop named Sue

Action man


Spring Fever

20 Just relax!


Destination Birmingham

22 Leading lady


It’s a win win situation

24 Come rain or shine


Millar’s world

24 Buon appetito


Fab photo competition

16 19

School’s in - for all of us! A life in slow motion Take your toes to doctor fish Caren’s clinic is ahead of the game Christmas chills and a pregnant porker Romance in a dish

Is now the time to say it with flowers? Naomi MacKay’s out in the garden Win tickets to The Times Travel Show Win a meal or bath soak in our fun competitions Pictures of Vikki

Win a Snappy Snaps Valentine mini-studio session

From VL with love...


omance is in the air and no mistake. At this time of year you can’t turn a corner without bumping into a heart shaped balloon or being reminded that it’s time to make a grand romantic gesture, or at least offer your loved one a small token of your affection. Why fight it? We all like to feel loved and sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of the fact too. Sure you could argue it’s all a cynical plot to separate you from your hard-earned cash, but a slushy card is all it takes for most to know you care.


ongratulations to the following Dec/Jan competition winners! Hopefully your prizes will have arrived by now, let us know if not. Commiserations to those who weren’t so lucky - read on though for more competitions inside this edition, including the chance to win: a meal for two at The Village Inn, Wendover, Tickets

Love is in the air...

Of course ladies will already have planned their approach, what to get the love of their life and probably what they hope he’s going to be giving in return. to The Ideal Home Show, a Healthy Eating Guide, Tickets to Destinations Travel Show, a Secret Guide book and some Weleda bath soak! Last issue’s prizewinners were: Meal for four at The Bell, Aston Clinton: Freda Osborn, Chinnor Lemmy DVD: Doug Stockley, Aylesbury; Steven

For guys it’s trickier, we’ll mean to do the right thing, we’ll have vague ideas of organising something, but then the big day will creep up on us, the best cards will have gone, restaurants will be booked up, the flower shops will be empty... oh misery, not a packet of Celebrations from the garage again... So if your roses don’t bloom on St Valentine’s Day, if the postman fails to knock once, if it seems that romance has ridden on by, don’t despair, remember we love you, dear reader, we really do. Enjoy the read. Best wishes

Charlie Howe, Tring; Paul Holt, Abingdon Quest Luxury Board Game: Helen Harlow, Grendon Underwood; Katherine Stubbs, Haddenham; Sandra Smith, Butlers Cross Queen Book: Melanie Ryder, Aylesbury; Andrew Rees, Brill; Angela Harvey, Bedgrove Fab Photo Competition: Sharon Hardy, Aylesbury.

Front cover picture: ‘Young Love’ taken at Little Italy Espresso Bar, Haddenham. Photograph: Paul Wilkinson Photography, Haddenham: 01844 290054, Models: Sophie Ayris & Tyler Cartwright. Vale Life Magazine is designed and published by House of Mouse, 23 Glenham Road, Thame, Oxfordshire, OX9 3WD Telephone: 01844 261579 Mobile: 07702 006218 Website: Email: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of Vale Life. We cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies, omissions or late changes. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publishers. Printed in the UK by The Magazine Printing Company Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011


Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

Horses for courses they say, so what are the odds on finding a fun activity the whole family can enjoy? Could a day at the races prove a real winner...


he point to point season gallops off in style next month with a meet on the local Kingston Blount course. One of the joys of living in Aylesbury Vale has to be the beautiful countryside and there is no better way to enjoy it than amid the colour and excitement of a race meeting. Point to point racing has been around for at least 200 years having developed from steeplechasing - a race across open countryside from one church steeple to another, or ‘point to point’. Steeples were used as landmarks as they could be seen for many miles and races were often organised by the local hunt to keep their horses fit between meets. From cross country races over whatever hedges and ditches came along, 19th century steeplechases began to be run over prepared tracks, with fences and water-jumps to mimic natural obstacles. The best-known is the annual Grand National, which has been run at Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool since 1836. Point to points are still run across country, but this is now more usually on a designated course over man-made fences. Competitors are amateur riders on horses used for hunting. In 1970 three foxhound packs: the South Oxfordshire, Old Berkley and Hertfordshire Foxhounds amalgamated to form the Vale of Aylesbury Hunt (now Kimblewick hunt). Up to 1970 the South Oxfordshire Point to Point took place at Crowell, near Chinnor, but the course ceased to be available after the 1970 season and so Colonel Arthur Clerke-Brown,


Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

Kingston Blount Race Club The Kingston Blount Racing Club was established last year to ensure that the racing programme can be maintained. Anyone can join and for a membership of £20 per person benefits include a discounted car park label and voucher for a free racecard. You also receive a free copy of Kingston Blount’s new annual newsletter telling you all the inside information on the course and prospects for the season and one race on the card will be restricted to horses in the ownership of Club Members. Membership enquiries to Stewart Nash: 01932 880211 or previously Master of the South Oxfordshire Hunt created a new point to point course on his land at Kingston Blount. The first meeting took place on Wednesday, May 5th, 1971 and the final race that first evening was won by Scrum-half owned by Col Arthur Clerke-Brown and ridden by his daughter Angela, who owns the land today. This year marks the course’s 40th season. Four point to point meetings are staged each year and have proved particularly popular

partly due to the efforts of Clerk of the Course Rodney Mann, Aston Rowant based trainer Alan Hill and their team who put in weeks of hard work to convert the grazing land into a racecourse each year. On race days thousands flock from near and far for a great afternoon in the countryside, perhaps with a picnic, or to enjoy the on site refreshments. There is enough space to kick a ball about between races and time to do a little shopping at the trade stands, although a

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

Kingston Blount Race Meetings: Season 2011 Kingston Blount Racing Club: 12th March First Race 1PM Kimblewick Meeting: 10th April First Race 2PM Kimblewick Meeting: 7th May First Race 2PM Berks & Bucks Draghounds Meeting: 29th May First Race 2.30PM Tickets £15 to £25 per car available on gate or in advance from 01494 881321 This year’s Easter meet at Kimble Raceourse is on Saturday, April 23rd

Picture by Andrew Gilmore

studious perusal of the form guide and a chat with the bookies is the priority for many. The beer and food tents are popular too! The normal programme is for seven races including a Mens Open, a Ladies Open and a Maiden race - for horses that have yet to win. There may also be a Members race for local hunters. With between 7 and 12 horses in each race it makes for some close contests and very exciting finishes. Jockeys and horses come from a wide area and compete for the South Midland Championship as well as for the local Kingston Blount Championship sponsored by Knight Frank. Chairman of Kingston Blount Point to Point Rodney Mann grew up in the area and has been a keen horseman for many years. He rode in point to point for 20 years and has been an owner for the past 25 years: “My father was master of the South Oxfordshire hunt,” says Rodney “and the family were very involved too, although I didn’t take up riding

seriously until I was in the army at 18. When I left I started competing and even won a couple of races,” he smiles modestly. “Every hunt used to have a point to point to race the hunters at the end of the season and to entertain the farmers. Now there are racing clubs which organise meets as well and some of the horses go on to race under National Hunt rules.” It takes a lot of hard work to get the course in top condition for the day, including an enormous amount of fencing and paling to convert the venue from cattle grazing into a race course with car parks, viewing areas, parade ring and so on: “If you go up there now,” says Rodney, “You wouldn’t know it was a point to point course. You can see the grass track but we have to put up the bends and all the paling to keep the cars away from the track. Our barn is stacked with fences which need to be refurbished with new birch and installed on the course. There’s markers

and signs to be put up, a paddock to be built. We’ve a good team, but we are looking to recruit more helpers!” If you are interested in getting involved you can contact Rodney via the website:, or call him on: 01844 281426. Rodney has two horses running this year: Bon Accord and More Trouble. His jockey James Tudor is one of the course’s most successful competitors having ridden 32 winners there: “You never know what is going to happen,” says Rodney. “That’s what makes horse racing so fascinating. There are huge ups and huge downs. So much effort goes into preparing a horse. If it all comes right on the day it is just brilliant.” You don’t have to know anything about racing to enjoy Point to Point though. It’s great value too, from £15 to £25 for a car and occupants and you can spend as much or as little as you like once there. Stand up at the course railings and you will see and feel the horses thundering down the final straight. Dogs are welcome too (on a lead and well-behaved of course). Put the dates in your diary now - it’s a sure bet you’ll have a great time! l Special Offer to Vale Life Readers

£20 Car Pass Ticket for £15

Send Cheque & SAE to: Helen Jackson, Hanger Farm, Fingest, RG9 6QP Cheque payable to: ‘Kimblewick Hunt’ to arrive no later than one week before race day. Please state which date(s) you require. Tickets are Non refundable. Offer closes seven days before race day. l Kingston Blount Point To Point

Picture by Andrew Gilmore

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011


Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

We all like to be different and now a new Aylesbury store is supplying an exclusive range of unique furniture and furnishings - if it’s a cowhide armchair, a hand-carved sofa, chunky, wood coffee table or Louis XIV dining room set, it’s nice to buy the only one...


ale Life readers will know about Mike Clare the philanthropic entrepreneur who established bedding empire Dreams and has since built a portfolio of new enterprises, including a charity hub at Saunderton - The Clare Foundation and several property related ventures. These include Amazing Retreats - a chance to indulge his interest in restoring unusual, spectacular and characterful properties, including a couple of castles and a sea fort in the Solent and now Stately Interiors, a furniture and furnishings store which specialises in grand, unusual and surprisingly affordable items. The first Stately Interiors has just opened in Aylesbury. Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed it on the corner opposite Tesco at Broadfields. Previously the store was called Trade Interiors and was supplying hotels, pubs and restaurants with ‘looks’: ‘gentlemen’s club’, ‘ethnic bar’, ‘Hollywood restaurant’ - exotic, eclectic combinations of classic, antique and cosmopolitan styles which we have become used to coveting in boutique hotels and funky bars. The business had grown from Mike’s need to source the ideal furnishings for his Amazing Retreats. Where do you buy a suit of armour and a banqueting table for a stunning 15th century Scottish castle, or an Arts and Crafts look for a 19th century Venetian Gothic pile in Worcester8

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

Hollywood glamour shire!? He recruited experienced, international furniture buying expert Alec Saville Brown as general manager and chief buyer and it soon became apparent that the range they were putting together would not just appeal to the trade market. We don’t all have a stately home to furnish of course, but the Stately Interiors range is not necessarily about big pieces, it’s more about furniture and furnishings that have the wow factor. Alec has 40 years experience in the furniture business and has spent many years abroad, so his specialist knowledge and contacts enable him to find unique pieces and little known producers in out of the way places. “Unlike most other furniture stores we don’t stock run-of-the-mill products,” says Alec. “What you see here is unique, a lot of one off items, exclusive to us. Once they’re sold they’ve gone, that’s it, they can’t be repeated. “We’re not contemporary furniture retailers, our range takes in British traditional, European classical, Rococo revival, Louis XIV and XV, Victorian, Regency as well as more modern influences. We also stock Asian arts and Retro Chic which is traditional with a twist like added colour or ageing effects and also furniture incorporating fashionable natural fabrics such as linens, calico and cotton. I’ve a lot of good contacts in China and have found some amazing pieces of Oriental origin: old apothecary chests, a 150-year-old rice thrasher,

heavy wooden bridal chests, also modern Chinoisery, antique chairs and coffee tables and some replica full-sized terracotta warriors! Our Globetrotter range is in the Hemingway style: quirky old lights, bulky luggage and chests, while the Hollywood theme has an Art Deco feel with black leather chairs, film-set lights and a distinct film noir atmosphere. “On the ground floor we now have a large showroom, displaying our wide range of products, that is open to private buyers. “At the moment we’re market-testing products, looks and prices and are listening to customer feedback. We aim to open another couple of stores this year in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire area. Aylesbury will be our distribution hub though, we’ve office

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

space here, the showroom and 20,000ft of warehouse space too.” “So far the response has been brilliant. We’ve had very positive comments and the majority of people who come in here actually leave with something,” says Alec, “It may be a picture frame or a table lamp, there’s quite a range, from a £10,000 dining suite to some rabbit coat hooks for around £15! “The other day someone bought a lovely, low, two-seater sofa, in a beautiful damask fabric, with a solid mahogany frame handcarved like a continuous piece of rope. In the West End it would have cost £2,000, here it was priced around £700.” Alec has been buying internationally for over 20 years and lived overseas for seven while buying for Courts. I worked in North and South America, Africa, the Far East and Australia, sourcing and designing products,” he says. “I’ve been trading with China for 20 years and have a lot of contacts there too. “I go to a lot of trade shows, but I now also visit factories that don’t show and deal mainly with the smaller producers to ensure our range is unique.” “Although part of the Clarenco Group, Amazing Retreats is our customer and we supply all the furnishings to finish off the properties for rental,” says Alec. “From mirrors to

beds, artwork... every item. We get a brief and then put together the furnishings to suit the style of the property. We’ve just dressed Beaucastle, a beautiful mansion near Worcester and are currently discussing another which has 50 bedrooms. We’re looking at heraldic dining rooms with tables for 50 people, grand thrones, tapestries, a Victorian music room and so on. We can supply all these items. We commission British furniture too, we’ve just had two bespoke tables made out of English oak in Norfolk to fit a particular brief. “Sales are important to us, but the most important thing is feedback from our customers,” says Alec. “If we get people coming in and saying that they would like to buy certain items, but can’t find them anywhere, I’ll keep my eyes open on my travels. I’m writing a blog to report on my activities, what I have found and what is coming into the store. You’ll be able to reserve items online too, so if you see something you like on the website you know it will still be there if you are coming in to the store to have a look. “I was sourcing new products in Indonesia in October and visited some of the smaller hand-carving workshops. The items made aren’t being mass-produced, they are one-offs. When I find an interesting design we check the quality of the materials and workmanship

and that the item complies with the relevant regulations. We ship it over and you’ve got a unique piece. The item you see in our showroom is the one you buy and take home! “It’s the same when I go to the far East to China, Brazil or to Italy or Spain. I see so many beautiful items I could do with 20 showrooms! “If you want something a bit different, something to make a statement in your home. Something that friends are going to remark on and you can be proud of. Something unique and unusual that you won’t see in other people’s homes, you may well find it here. It may not be something you necessarily need, but you’ll want it, you’ll fall in love with it and it will enrich your life and your home having it.” l Stately Interiors, Broadfields, Bicester Road, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP19 8AY Tel: 01296 388018. Email: Website: Opening hours: Mon/Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat: 9am6pm. Thur: 9am-8pm. Sun: 11am-5pm. Public holidays: 11am - 5pm

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011


Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

In 25 years Simon Taylor has built his bespoke furniture business from a one man concern to a nationally renowned company making hand-built bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, home offices and furniture of distinction. ‘I sometimes have to pinch myself,’ he tells Vale Life...


’ve always wanted to make things,” says Simon Taylor. “Woodwork was a hobby of my father’s and since I was about six, I wanted to get into his workshop and make things! “I grew up in Waddesdon and used to make things for people in the village. One of my first projects was a pair of stilts - quite tricky with limited tools!” Simon has plenty of equipment now, he’s a bit of a gadget man and has always invested in the latest technology for his workshop. He has just celebrated 25 years in business with an open day at his company’s headquarters in Bierton, where amid the spacious workshops and stunning showrooms guests enjoyed cooking demonstrations by Masterchef winner Steve Groves, a display of Aston Martin cars, Segways to ride and fun for children. It was a spectacular success and great fun for staff and guests. Simon’s woodwork teacher at Waddesdon School spotted his ability and persuaded the internationally renowned Rycotewood College in Thame, to take him as a student. It was unusual at his age, as being an international centre of excellence for innovative furniture design and making, students were usually older with some trade experience or apprenticeship behind them. He excelled though, winning their coveted Craftsman of the Year award in his second year. At Rycote Simon was making and designing fine furniture and reproductions and doing antique restoration. It was 1982 and he was only 18 but decided he’d get a job rather than do a third year of specialised training.


Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

Simon Taylor A table he had designed and made was displayed in the end of year college exhibition at Maples in Tottenham Court Road and sold for £375 which was enough for a deposit on his first car. It came at the right time as he had been offered a job in the Lake District. “I took a job in Kendal and I really enjoyed it,” says Simon. “I learnt so much and the people were great. I’d always wanted to have my own business though, so after a couple of years I moved back home to get some money together and took a job with Lund Halsey in Aylesbury while doing private jobs at weekends to build up my own clientele. “I’d bought a van and a Black and Decker workmate and some power tools and my

chance to make the break came when I was offered a job making a bar for a hotel in Lutterworth. It was going to be three months work and meant staying up there. I decided it was time to set up on my own, that was December 6th, 1985!” “I was enjoying making fine furniture, but jobs were a bit irregular, so I’d keep busy doing any work that came in. I’d fitted a kitchen for my mother and a friend of my parents asked me to actually make them a kitchen. I was hesitant, as I’d not made one before and didn’t have some of the equipment needed. “ The customer was really keen though and offered to advance me the money for any equipment and materials. It was a great opportunity, I took the job on and started developing my own kitchen designs. “I love English furniture design, but I’ve always been very impressed with German engineering. At that time English kitchens were often poorly constructed and I wanted to combine my cabinet designs with German runners and hinges to make kitchens that were as high quality as the German’s, but with our English handmade look.” Simon began sharing a joinery workshop on Cublington airfield. The owner, John, was nearing retirement and Simon eventually took over the premises. “I was a one man band at first,” he says. “I had to be quite disciplined. I’d see my clients in the evening, do my quotes and designs, make up the cabinets in the day and then fit them. After a while I had enough work to take on another cabinetmaker. He did more of the manufacture while I did the fitting. That was Luke, who’s still with me today and now a director, as is Steve, who was next to join me, in his case as a fitter.

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

Simon was looking to expand the business and in 1993 found his current premises, the old Cane End joinery site in Bierton which had closed down. It was a time of decision for Simon, who bought the plant, took on the lease and got married to wife Deborah about a month later! After a bit of wheeling and dealing Simon sold off the equipment he didn’t need and amalgamated the best of his two workshops in the new Cane End premises. “We try and do all the work here,” says Simon, “to keep time on site to a minimum. Everything is cut to size in the workshop and designed to fit simply together on site. “We’ve gradually expanded the services we can offer. We now do building work if required, electrical work and plumbing, mostly in-house, although we have tried and trusted contractors we can call upon if necessary. “We offer a very broad range of product. We can cater for any taste and being bespoke we’ll always put a little twist in our designs so the customer has something unique, something personal to them.

“We also do bedrooms, bathrooms and free standing furniture, anything you can make with wood. We’ll design to your requirements if there’s not something in our range to suit. “Customers are welcome to come and have a look around the showrooms and workshop. We’ve got a huge portfolio of work to see. “I try and treat people as I’d like to be treated,” says Simon, “We’ve got thirty staff here now and we aim to give a quality service, from answering the phone quickly to discussing a brief, designing items, making up samples and installing on site with minimum fuss. Our fitting service is definitely second to none! “Clients can come and see their order in production if they like - there will be a project manager looking after their project and assigned cabinetmakers will handle their job from start to finish. “We pride ourselves on our aftersales service. We can make items for a kitchen that we put in 20 years ago - being bespoke there’s no worry your design will go out of production.” Simon has seen styles change over the years: “Since the 90s the kitchen has become very much the heart of the home,” he says. “People are looking to extend the space to include a living or dining area, maybe with a woodburning stove or open fire, a sofa and television. Requirements have become more elaborate. In recent years I’ve invested in related businesses so we can offer a complete service as our client requirements become more complex. We now have our own granite, stone and fireplace company, Stewkley Stone.” Simon has also kept up with his gadgets. His workshop boasts a state of the art computer guided cutter and intriguing vacuum system for bending wood into smooth curves - a popular current style.

“Fashions have changed, but the classics keep coming back,” says Simon. “Curves are big at the moment, but they are time-consuming and involve building up layers over a mould in a big plastic bag that then has all the air drawn out, sucking the wood into shape! “The CNC cutter is amazing,” says Simon, “but operating it is like flying a jumbo jet - it does require some training!” “I’ve been so fortunate,” says Simon. “I have to pinch myself sometimes! I’ve managed to turn my hobby into a job. For me coming to work is not a chore. I actually look forward to what I do every day. If I want to design and make something, I’ve a team of craftsmen who can help. I look for people with the right attitude, I’ve got an exceptional staff here. and I’ve tried to make it a nice environment in which to work.” Simon’s attitude has clearly not changed either. After 25 years he still has the passion and desire not only to make and design the highest quality furniture, but to ensure his customers get the very best service too. He hasn’t lot touch with his roots either: “We’re not just top end,” he says. “Our clients are all sorts of people. They are what makes the job interesting. We’ve worked all over the country and abroad. There’s no job too small, if someone just wanted a cupboard door made, we’d do it!” l Simon Taylor Furniture, Cane End Lane, Bierton, Aylesbury, Bucks. HP22 5BH Tel: 01296 488207 Fax: 01296 398722 Website: Open: 9am - 5pm, Monday to Saturday. l Stewkley Stone, Unit 1 Manor Business Centre, High Street South, Stewkley, Beds. LU7 0HR. Tel: 01525 240711 Website: Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011


Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

You could say having the right surface underfoot is good for your sole! It can certainly up the saleability, if not value, of your home and you may well be living with your choice for years to come, so don’t trip up - call in the experts says Charlie Trott...


ecisions, decisions... options are a fine thing, but the more choice the harder to choose! Take flooring, a major consideration in any building and especially your home. You need to get it right, as hopefully you’ll be enjoying it for many years to come. But do you go carpet, vinyl, laminate, wood, what colour, which type...? In the dining hall at Trott Towers we’ve been nursing an increasingly off-white carpet, that came with the house, for several years. The time had come to go our separate ways though and to this end we enlisted the help of local flooring specialists Kinv. The company is based in Kingsey, just outside Thame and is run by two likeable grafters, Paul Smith (known to his friends as Frank) and Tim Bebb. Both hail from Princes Risborough where they met at Risborough Secondary school. Leaving school at 16 they worked together at the local Whiteleaf Furniture factory, Tim as an apprentice cabinet maker, Paul as a trainee wood machinist. Eventually the lads moved on though and lost touch. Tim set up his own kitchen manufacturing business and then moved into double glazing and home improvements, while Paul got into transport and distribution and worked for a communications company. By 2001 both were looking for something new and after a chance meeting decided to set up together utilising their carpentry skills. It was 2002 and after a slow start, and some hard selling, contracts to fit new build developments started coming in. As word of mouth spread work opportunities increased and although the new build has dropped off, the Kinv reputation has grown and the lads have been much in demand. “The work can be a bit seasonal,” says Paul. It gets mad up towards Christmas, everyone wants a smart new floor before the relatives arrive and then it goes deadly quiet in January!


Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011



Paul trims down a board

“Last year we invested in the business, we bought a new van and we've opened a showroom in Kingsey, so customers can come and see a selection of what we offer and get an idea of what different floorings are like. “We’ve a good selection of coverings from carpets and laminates to different woods and we’ll be manning it every Saturday morning and at other times by appointment. We’ve also laid some floors in the Chameleon Furniture showroom next door.” Kinv is now in its ninth year and Paul and Tim have continued to develop their skills attending specialist courses on sanding and sealing, herringbone blockwork and laying Karndean, an exceptionally durable form of customised vinyl that looks like natural flooring. They can also supply and fit carpet and ceramic flooring.“ “Clients often want wood flooring in one room and carpet in another,” says Paul, “so it makes sense to be more of a one-stop shop. We’ve got specialist carpet-fitters on call and we fit all the wood flooring ourselves.” Indeed, at Trott Towers we are happy with carpets elsewhere, but were unsure whether to re-cover the dining room with carpet, wood,

or one of the impressive luxury vinyls such as Karndean or Amtico. “Karndean is a luxury vinyl,” says Paul. “It can look amazing. Their Van Gogh range looks exactly like a wide oak board and actually has textured finish with a micro-bevelled edge to emulate the contours of real boards. “It can be more expensive to lay though as the sub-floor has to be perfectly smooth. We latex it so there are no bumps or indentations which would show through.” “It can even come with a feature area which looks like a tiled section with grout around it. It’s a good choice for bathrooms and kitchens as it resists water spillage and food accidents!” Natural wood, especially oak, is very popular at the moment and goes with most furnishings. Solid oak boards are tricky to deal with, but engineered flooring combines a solid wood overlay on a ply back, which is more stable and won’t bend or warp in modern, centrally-heated homes. It comes in tongue and groove lengths which are glued together on an underlay. “We used to show samples of cherry, oak, beech, maple, ash...,” says Paul, “but nowadays oak is so popular we have eight different

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Tim, left and Paul shades and finishes of that.” We’d been considering oak and liked the look of one of Kinv’s medium oak samples. Having instantly measured the room with an impressive click of his hi-tech laser tape measure, Paul did some rapid calculations and came up with a price, with or without a new oak skirting board to match. “We’re not always the cheapest,” said Paul, “but we guarantee a top quality result.” Checking around the Kinv price was actually very competitive, so the lads got the goahead. They booked us in within a couple of weeks and did a spectacularly good job, taking only three or four hours from start to finish! “Work is coming in from all over now,” says Tim, “London, Birmingham, Sussex, jobs from people we have worked for before. We’ve had some interesting ones too, including a windmill at Coleshill, which was tricky - no straight edges” he laughs. “We replaced some wood flooring for actress Pauline Quirke at her home in Penn. She’d had a leak and it had unfortunately ruined her old floor. “We had a huge job over Amersham way. About 100m2 of herringbone floor - it took ages - you have to lay it in sections and then

wait for it to dry before moving on to the next bit. There’s a lot of hand-cutting, sanding and sealing involved too, it was hard work! “We’ve been getting quite a few enquiries for carpet and we now offer a fitting service. We’ve a stunning Victorian style plush velvet carpet with a stripe going into a house in Stoke Poges this month which has to be laid up a curved staircase. It’s not the easiest of jobs but it’ll look stunning. “Looking forward we’re keen to work with kitchen companies, interior designers and builders as well as homeowners,” says Paul, “and now the new showroom is up and running it’s nice to have somewhere customers can come to see what we have to offer.” If you are wondering where the name Kinv comes from, the company is named after the guys’ children. Paul’s daughters Imogen, 20 and Naomi, 16 and Tim’s daughters Katie, 19 and Victoria, 12. Take the first letters from their names and you can spell KINV! For an idea of what Kinv can do for your floors have a look at their website: www. - there’s something for everyone from Quick Step laminate floors, ‘the best in world’ says Paul, to carpets, (bleach cleanable

- ten-year guarantee), Victoria carpets, wood flooring, Amtico and Karndean luxury vinyls, there’s quite a range. “We offer a personal service,” says Paul. “We do most of the work ourselves and personally oversee that Kinv jobs are done well as a lot of our work is repeat business, or from personal recommendation and our name depends on it. We’ve got a good reputation and we aim to build on that. We also respect our customers’ homes and take care to ensure that any mess is kept to a minimum and cleared up afterwards.” We are certainly pleased and impressed with the Kinv service. Our oak floor looks fantastic, it was installed with minimum fuss and plenty of good humour and we feel that with Kinv’s help we definitely made the right choice this time! l Kinv Flooring Specialists, Unit 5, Manor Farm, Risborough Road, Kingsey, Bucks, HP17 8LU. Tel: 01844 274876. Mobile: 07976 611797 Email: Website:

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011


Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

Re activate

Give it a go...

Case Study

It takes more than love to keep your heart beating strongly, a little exercise is required even when l’amour is all around...


ive it a go this February and keep your New Year resolutions! That’s the call from TV comedian Miranda Hart, pictured right and Reactivate Bucks, the campaign that connects people to hundreds of sports and activities across the county. From 14th to 20th February local people will have their pick of hundreds of different activities ranging from street dance to gentle walks and with many subsidised or free, there’s never been a better time to get off the sofa, unless of course you are watching the latest episode of ‘Miranda’ on the BBC. However even it’s star, Miranda Hart, would urge you to get moving, as she explains: “The word ‘exercise’ used to make me think of people running about in shorts on a bleak, British winter day trying to ignore their blotchy legs and pretend they were enjoying themselves. But now there are lots of things you can do to get fit and feel healthier whilst actually having fun.” Miranda joined six other celebrities in a 1,000 mile charity cycle ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats last year, but admits she’s no fitness fanatic: “This was a massive goal for me to achieve. I was sporty at school but things have gone downhill since!” Helping to raise more than £1m for Sport Relief gave Miranda a great sense of achievement and that’s why she supports Reactivate Bucks: “Everyone should have the chance to discover their personal best or feel they can

Miranda Hart, left and below, on the charity cycle ride

Kirsty Ingham from Bucks Sport (standing) with Joan and Frank who are lovin’ their heart by keeping fit and active

Young at heart try something without worrying how they look or whether or not they’ll be any good. And Reactivate Bucks provides the choices and support people need to do this.” Indoor and outdoor activities are on offer ranging from gentle exercise for those who want to take it easy, through to high energy action. And to keep active why not try a Return to Sport course? It will get you back into a sport you once loved or always wanted to try. To find out what’s on near you and to register for an activity, go to www.reactivate or call the Reactivate Bucks Team on 01296 585215.

It’s never too late to get fit, have fun and feel healthier, according to Joan Burton and Frank Smith, above, who are both 93 and exercise regularly with their friends at the Poplars Sheltered Housing Scheme in Wendover. For Joan it’s an important focus in their lives as she explains: “You need to get together, you need companionship and you need exercise. It does you good”. Reactivate Bucks provides activities for adults of all ages and abilities. So get inspired by Joan and Frank and do something today!

Win a 3 month membership leisure package for Harpers at Stoke Mandeville Stadium! Vale Life Magazine has teamed up with Reactivate Bucks to offer readers a chance to win a fabulous free, three month adult membership at Harpers, at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympic Games and home of WheelPower, British Wheelchair Sport. This state of the art leisure centre offers everything from swimming and badminton to more than 40 group 14

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

exercises each week. For details see: www.stokemandeville or call 01296 484848. To enter: email your name, address and contact number plus the answer to the following question to: Who plays Miranda Hart’s mother in the BBC comedy Miranda? Winner to be picked at random from correct entries submitted by Feb 28th.


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


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

01296 423198 Tel: 01296Tel: 423198 Web:

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

Sports hall hire from £10

Most of us have spotted Aylesbury’s £32m state-of-the-art college on Oxford Road, but did you know that inside are sports, hair, beauty, restaurant and conference facilities for public use...


ylesbury College couldn’t really be described as a hidden gem. It’s stylish, eco-friendly and ergonomic new facility must rank alongside the Waterside Theatre as one of Aylesbury’s most notable modern buildings. Inside education and training is provided for approximately 4,500 part-time students and 1,000 full-time students. A wide range of vocational courses including hospitality and catering, care, construction, hair and beauty and sport, plus a range of A Levels and GCSEs are available. However it is also home to ‘Intuition’ the college’s commercial brand, which manages a variety of services open to the general public. These are not cut price facilities operated with trainee student labour, but professionally run services offered alongside some of the college departments and these really are hidden gems. There’s a hair and beauty salon, a restaurant, sports facilities, conference and meeting facilities and function rooms. They are available all year round too, not just in term-time. Intuition Hair and Beauty is on the ground floor by the main reception. It incorporates it’s own reception and waiting area, a modern salon and four relaxing, treatment rooms. The salon employs a fully-qualified creative team. Creative director Paula Druce is trained to the highest standard and teaches hairdressing at the college as well. She is assisted by senior stylists Julie, Dawn and Joan and graduate stylist Ruby who is a student in her final year. Prices for a cut and finish range from £13 for a graduate to £38 for the creative designer. Sessions as a student model are available too and are even cheaper at £5.50 for cut and finish. These are in a classroom salon under supervision. “We pride ourselves on our customer service,” says Commercial Enterprise and Training Co-ordinator Louisa Mazzone. “The salon is brand new, it’s very high-spec, a five star salon. Pricing is structured to suit all pock-


Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

The Intuition salon

Hair and Beauty reception ets, based on the experience of the stylist. Our creative director, Paula has 20 years hairdressing experience, our senior stylists have from five to ten years and our graduate stylists are in the final stages of qualifying and offer great value for money. “‘The team are able to offer all genres of hairstyling from classic looks to Avant Garde, gent’s hairdressing and bridal hair. “We offer a high level of service, complimentary refreshments and a relaxing scalp massage with every shampoo. There’s plenty of free parking too. “We’re not that well known at the moment, but we’ve amazing facilities. You could have a great value pampering day here - perhaps start with an exercise class or gym session, sauna, shower, have lunch and then hair and beauty treatments, manicure, waxing, massage, pedicure, facial, tanning - our beauty therapist Kim Stevens and graduate therapists Laura and Rachael are all fully qualified and employ professional skin, body care and nail ranges. “We use top quality products: Dermalogica beauty products, Opi nail products, Wella colour and Tigi hair products and the hair and

Louisa Mazzone and Paula Druce beauty salons are both open later on Thursday and Friday evenings until 8pm. “The gym is only £15 a month and there’s no joining fee, which is great value, or you can pay as you go, which is only £2.50 a session after a £15 joining fee. You get a full induction and fitness assessment. Qualified instructors are always on hand for advice and motivation. We also have a dance studio and sports hall that can be hired for sports sessions or parties and we run a range of morning and evening classes in our Dance Studio, including: Yoga, Pole Attack, Street Dance, Cheerleading and Zumba and we have clubs you can join to do trampolining, badminton, basketball and five-a-side football. “The gym is open all year round, seven days a week from 6.30-9am, from 12-2pm and from 4-10pm and from 9am-5pm on Saturdays and Sundays.” Chef Toby Hill has been running Hardings restaurant at Aylesbury college for three years. Toby, originally from Haddenham, went to Aylesbury Grammar School before training as a chef at Aylesbury College. He has achieved four Michelin stars so far during his career,

Intuition Hair and Beauty: 01296 588 555 Intuition E

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Hand making chocolates for a dinner event

Toby Hill in the kitchen

Gym membership £15 per month

Lunch at Hardings Ready to impress at Hardings

Hardings one-day courses Sat 5 Feb - Michelin Master Class Sat 12 Feb - Fish & Shellfish Sun 13 Feb - Cake Decoration & Pastillage Sat 5 March - French Cookery Sun 6 March - Mediterranean Gastronomy Sat 12 March - Cookery for Beginners Sat 19 March - One Pot Cookery Sun 20 March - Professional Chocolaterie Sat 2 April - Italian Cookery Sun 3 April - Dazzling Dinners

but has been lured back to Aylesbury where his knowledge, drive and passion is helping shape a new generation of chefs. He has been instrumental in developing Hardings into one of the best restaurants in Aylesbury, with a full on and off site catering service for weddings and functions. - it offers a great opportunity for students to prepare, cook and serve exceptional meals to customers at very modest prices “Although students were being taught the right technical skills,” says Toby, “they needed to work in a real restaurant environment to get a feel for what is expected out in the workplace, to get that commercial edge. “The restaurant is now open seven days a week. We offer a modern mix of classic French cooking, dishes from my Michelin menus, British and European cuisine. “We have 60 seats in the restaurant but have additional areas in which we can seat up to 250. We have several conference and meeting rooms here too which we provide catering for. “We’ve also opened a cookery school for the general public. We do courses for all ages. We’ve a whole season of specialised one-day

weekend courses in progress at the moment for beginners, intermediate and advanced cooks and I can also arrange bespoke courses for groups who wish to learn specific things. We do fun cookery for youngsters too, ‘birthday bakes’ are a party at the college with the chance to learn some cookery skills. “The idea is to throw open the doors and invite the community in, so they can see the quality we achieve here and the high standards the students work to. “We’ve got students working at Le Manoir, at Waddesdon Manor, at The Waterside Inn and we’ve been complimented on their quality. “When you come to eat at Hardings you will be eating first class food, dishes don’t leave the kitchen unless they are perfect. Consistency and quality is all important and we apply rigorous standards. “Marco Pierre White would say ‘a chef is only as good as his last meal’ - each day is like starting again and we work hard to maintain the highest standards. “We do a set price three course meal from £12 to £15 per head, which is good value. “We always have a fish dish and a vegetar-

Events: 01296 588 568 Intuition Sport: 01296 780 222

To book email: or call 01296 780295. Restaurant opening times - Lunch: TuesdayFriday, open at 12pm, orders taken 12pm-2pm 2 Courses £10 or 3 Courses £12. Dinner: Tuesday-Friday, open at 6pm, orders taken 6pm8pm. 2 Courses £12 or 3 Courses £15, including vegetables. Sat/Sun available for functions. Reservations: 01296 588577. For events and private functions of 30+ please call: 01296 588568.

ian option. We’ve a fully licenced bar too and a reasonable wine list which we’re gradually expanding.” There’s no doubt Aylesbury College has a stunning new faculty and the decision to combine student activities with facilities for the general public is a clever way of integrating the college with the wider community. The public gets access to some great deals, which help finance the college while the students get to see commerce in action. It’s a win, win, win situation a hidden gem of an idea in fact! l Aylesbury College, Oxford Road, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP21 8PD Tel: 01296 588588 Website: Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011


Win a pair of tickets to The Ideal Home Show Ideal Home Exhibition 1949 Below, last year!

Bring in the Spring!

Dress agency requires Spring wear

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

Bring on the Prom! Dress hire available

Britain’s best loved home event, The Ideal Home Show, returns to London’s Earls Court for its 103rd year from March 11 to March 27. The multi-award winning show brings together more than 600 quality exhibitors from all over the UK to offer a unique shopping experience for all areas of the home, including ideal Interiors, ideal Home Improvements, ideal Gardens, ideal Gadgets, ideal Food, ideal Housewares, ideal Shopping and ideal Woman. And if that’s not enough, the show is jam-packed with celebrity guests, more features than ever before including the Home of the Future, demonstration theatres, a live kitchen theatre, a beauty bar and catwalk and of course there will be some amazing show homes. Don’t miss a great day out for all


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

Going for a song! Beautiful unique handmade jewellery from the finest beads, Swarovski crystals, semi-precious gemstones and freshwater pearls.

the family! The Ideal Home Show is offering Vale Life readers the chance to win one of five pairs of tickets. To be in with a chance simply email your name, address and telephone number, along with the answer to the following question to: How long has the Ideal Home Show been running? Winner to be drawn at random and notified by email on March 1st.

Recollections Dress Agency, 1A Lower Road, Chinnor, Oxon, OX39 4DT. Tel: 01844 351313. Website: Open: Tue/Thur/Fri 10am-5pm and Sat 10am-4pm

Win a copy of Haynes Healthy Eating guide

Written by nutritionist Carina Norris of Channel 4’s Turn Back Your Body Clock, Haynes Healthy Eating is a practical guide to having a balanced diet and explains the principles of good nutrition and how to achieve them in the 21st century - even when time and money are short. It offers simple, practical steps to improve   nutrition for the whole family and discloses why we put on weight and how to lose it, as well as explaining cravings and how to snack healthily. We have three free copies for Vale Life readers to win. To be in with a chance, simply email your name, address and telephone number, along with the answer to the following question to: What are Haynes   manuals more usually associated Profitme is based on one very simple concept: with? Winner to be This is to be committed to carefully matching passionate, expert trainers to clients, to allow them to not only reach, but surpass, their physical and drawn at random mental goals. and notified by email on March Get matched to your perfect trainer by what you want to achieve, 1st. l Tickets: 0844 415 4144

not just because they live close to you.

Visit to find your perfect home personal trainer.


Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

Above: Suspended camera filming the eye of rose petals closing titles sequence for the Big Brother show. Left: John Hadfield with one of his Phantom HD GOLD high-speed cameras Right: John and wife Liz with Emmy award

If you’re filming explosions for Top Gear, gangsters with Guy Richie or Jack Black breaking his bonds in Gulliver’s Travels, high speed film specialist John Hadfield will capture the action...


hen John Hadfield of Thame based Green Door Productions recently discovered he had won an *Emmy Award, it came as quite a surprise. It was an ‘Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft’ award for his stunning footage of birds, moths and insects in flight for natural history programme, The Magic of Motion. The organisers failed to inform him though and he only found out recently, when his assistant spotted it on the internet! John was born in Manchester and grew up in Knutsford, Cheshire. His father had worked in America as a young man back in the 20s and took photographs to send back to his family. The old albums inspired John to take an interest in the art and after school he studied scientific and technical photography at Leeds College of Technology. John got a job as a photographer at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, near Bedford. He continued his studies at London Regent Street Polytechnic and became interested in the high-speed film cameras used for recording aircraft catapult and arrester wire trials. A position came up at Hunting Engineering near Ampthill, involving high-speed filming for military projects and John applied:

“I knew Hunting did a lot of high-speed filming,” says John. “I got a post and learnt the trade, I was with them for nearly ten years filming at ranges, looking at parachutes, rocket motors and weapon systems. I loved it! “I was living in Harrold, a small village near Bedford at the time, which was lucky for me as I met my wife Liz there.” The time came to move on and IIMC in Thame needed a Sales Manager for highspeed cameras and photo-instrumentation products. John got the job, married Liz and the couple moved to live in the town. In 1989 the urge to get back behind the camera became too strong to ignore though and John founded Green Door Films: “We worked on anything that needed slowmotion filming,” says John. “Natural history, documentaries, television commercials, music videos. We took on some 35mm cameras and started doing more feature films. We filmed the opening scene for Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels where they drop the suitcase of money down the stairs and then on Guy’s follow ups Snatch and Revolver. We worked on Tomb Raider, Wimbledon and Nanny McPhee. We also do industrial filming, to see what is happening at a certain points in the production process and military projects too.

We worked on Pixie Lott’s video we’ve filmed McFly and Blue, Fatboy Slim (we blew up a fridge for him) and The Chemical Brothers. Last year we filmed a slow-motion clapping sequence for the Haiti charity single video which was fun. “We did the final title sequence for Big Brother, where flowers fly down to form an eye, we’ve filmed for Top Gear and Fifth gear and filmed a reconstructed Roman flamethrower for Ancient Discoveries! The fireball in slow-motion was fascinating.” Life in slow-motion really sounds quite exciting! At Green Door Liz manages the office and John is assisted by data technician and camera operator Gavin Free (see his Slow Mo Guys videos on YouTube). He collaborates with Tony Allen of Panache Productions, a fellow high speed film expert, and the two can now produce high-speed 3D film using twin cameras: “We offer the full range of filming services,” says John, “from video to HD, slow motion, time-lapse and 3D and we’re looking at investing in some even faster cameras. It’s amazing what you can see in slow motion!”

l Green Door Films Telephone: 01844 217148 Email: Website:

*An Emmy is the Television equivalent of an Academy award and is presented by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011


Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

Reception Ruth Wright, seated, teaches a reflexology class

Relaxing in the Floatation tank

You’ll need a break after browsing the Belmore Centre’s exhaustive list of treatments and therapies. Luckily they are experts at helping you unwind and can even make you feel quite floaty, if you wish...


hizz along the B4443 from Stoke Mandeville to Aylesbury and you might notice a low, brick-built building fronted by a huge car park! It’s unlikely you’d guess what goes on within though – for behind the plain exterior The Belmore Centre is a warm and welcoming haven where a team of professional therapists offers an impressive range of health and beauty treatments and therapies. Owner Caron Vetter, originally from Wendover, started in the business some thirty years ago. Caron completed a beauty course at


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James Goldney Aylesbury College and worked from home initially before setting up at the now closed Belmore Hotel, on the Old Risborough Road, in 1988. There she was able to introduce complementary therapies and set up a floatation tank. Caron taught beauty classes at Aylesbury College while her business at the hotel grew. She relocated to the current premises, which

have a lot more space, in 1999 and she was able to introduce more complementary therapies. Despite a devastating fire in 2005 the centre continued to develop while Caron stretched herself, learning new skills and researching innovative treatments and products. Two years ago she launched a second centre, Whitethorn Fields Mediclinic, which specialises in aesthetic and anti-ageing treatments, cosmetic surgery and high-tech non-surgical procedures. While Caron now focuses her attention on the new Clinic, her stepson James Goldney plays a leading role in managing the Belmore Centre – he’s been there for two years: “James has a background in customer service,” says Caron. “He organises the computer systems and websites for both centres and does a lot of the marketing and administration for both centres. Jean Kennedy works alongside him; she is very organised and is a great help with HR and admin.” “We try to cater for all aspects of health and beauty and a wide range of complementary therapies,” says James. “Our aim is to treat the inner and outer self. We keep an open mind with regard to new treatments, so

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we are often one of the first to introduce new healing or relaxation techniques. Over the last few years people have become more accepting of holistic therapies as effective alternative or complementary treatments to traditional medicine. People are recognising they can work and can help you.” Treatments offered range from yoga to hypnotherapy, homeopathy, osteopathy, reflexology, pilates, foot health care and many othCaron Vetter ers - fortunately the centre’s impressive website has a comprehensive list and a full explanation of what each entails ( The Belmore Centre also boasts a training school, which is run by Ruth Wright, Caron’s tutor when first at Aylesbury College all those years ago. It is an International Therapy Examination Council (ITEC) college, offering level 2, 3 and 4 diplomas in holistic and beauty therapies: “Courses offered include anatomy and physiology, holistic massage, reflexology,

aromatherapy, Indian head massage, sports therapy, beauty therapy and now laser and IPL (intense pulsed light),” says Ruth. “So far we’ve had a 100 per cent pass rate with many credits and distinctions. We use traditional teaching methods, small class sizes and oneto-one tutorials to achieve the highest standards possible. Most of the courses take place during evenings and weekends.” Ruth worked at Aylesbury College for 24 years. She set up at the Belmore some seven years ago and is now assisted by two additional trainers: “I’ve been working locally so long, I’m now teaching the daughters of previous pupils,” she laughs. “Caron is very forward thinking,” says Ruth. “She is always looking for new ideas. A lot of time is invested in staff training and there’s a very happy atmosphere at the centre, many of the staff have worked here for years. The quality and standard is really good. The clients are very well looked after.” With so many treatments and therapies under one roof Belmore clients can benefit from cross-referrals and often see more than one practitioner. On the beauty therapy side Jacqui Pearson is beauty manager with a staff of nine fully trained and qualified therapists. All are fully Clarins trained: “We’re a Clarins gold salon and do a lot of their treatments,” says James. “Facials are popular, as are manicures and pedicures. We also have a floatation tank, which provides a totally relaxing experience

Reflexology and is great before a massage. At the centre we offer treatments for men and women of all ages, pampering packages, tanning, bridal make-up and much more. “We’re one of the longest established centres in the area. We’ve pioneered many new treatments and we pride ourselves on the high standards of service offered here. A lot of our staff, such as our practice manager Barbara Kidnee, have been with us for more than ten years. They worked at the old centre and moved here with us. We continue to develop individual skills though to maintain our caring attitude and high standards. “We are open seven days a week, Monday to Thursday: 9am-9pm and Fridays: 9am-7pm and then Saturdays: 9am-3pm and Sundays: 9am-4pm. “We have a lot of information about the centre on our website, but you can always telephone or send us an email if you have any questions. “We offer a free consultation to ascertain what the best treatments or therapies would be for any individual client. Experience has shown us the types of treatments which are suitable for different people, symptoms and conditions.” Whether you have a bad back, a skin care problem or just wish to relieve the stresses of a tiring day, The Belmore Centre is definitely the place to go - and there’s plenty of parking out front, too! l The Belmore Centre, Lower Road, Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP21 9DR. Telephone: 01296 612361 Fax: 01296 612024 Email: Website :

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011


Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

From removing wrinkles and lines to breast augmentation and cosmetic tattoos a unique clinic is utilising cutting-edge technology that can improve features and confidence

Caron demonstrates cosmetic tattooing for eyebrow enhancement

The con


aron Vetter is a driven woman. She’s lovely with it, mind you relaxed, charming and welcoming, but readily admits to being constantly on the search for new developments, techniques and treatments to offer at her health and beauty facilities, The Belmore Centre and Whitethorn Fields Mediclinic. You can read more about the Belmore Centre in the feature on our previous pages. Whitethorn Fields, opened two years ago on the edge of Stoke Mandeville. It is a stylish modern clinic offering a unique range of procedures from skincare to cosmetic surgery. Sudip Ghosh, MBBS, MS, FRCS (Plast) Eng. and Caron are co-directors and have combined their skills and expertise in plastic surgery and medical micropigmentation to create a state-of-the-art facility using the very latest technology, medical skincare and cosmetic surgery. Caron has assembled an impressive team at Whitethorn, including former colleagues from her 30 years in the beauty business: “Ruth Wright, who is head laseographer here now, was my teacher at Aylesbury College in 1978,” says Caron. “That was her first year there. I worked as a beauty therapist and then did my teacher training in 1984 and lectured at Aylesbury for nine years. “Melanie Recchia who is the clinic manager here was also a teacher at Aylesbury. She is a fully qualified beauty therapist and ran her own salon. She left to become a nurse and ended up working for my business partner, plastic surgeon Sudip Ghosh, at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in the burns unit, plastic surgery and accident and emergency. “It is really nice that we have all come together here. Sudip was already referring patients to me for nipple tattooing after breast reconstruction, Mel was running a Harley Street Mediclinic and Ruth was running 22

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courses at the Belmore Centre, assisted by a previous student of mine!” Caron grew up in Wendover and attended John Colet School. She left at 16 and went to Aylesbury to study beauty therapy. Since the age of 12 she’d wanted to be a make-up artist and after qualifying went on to work as a make-up artist and then taught stage make-up and special effects: “In a way that helps me now,” she says, “When I came to do medical tattooing I already had experience in complementary therapies, from my work at The Belmore Centre, which helped me deal sensitively with people who had been on a difficult journey and I also had an eye for colour matching and aesthetics from my make-up experience. I now teach medical tattooing to nurses in hospitals. “I started doing cosmetic tattooing, that’s eyebrows, eyeliner and lip-liner, twenty years ago and immediately realised what a difference it can make. I had clients who hadn’t been swimming for years because they did not feel confident without their make-up. Having make-up tattooed can completely

change lives! It can be so beneficial. “I went to America and did a course doing medical tattooing for cleft lips, scars and burns and breast reconstruction which wasn’t available in this country then. Caron regularly visits America to pick up on the latest health and beauty innovations: “I love to be ahead of the times!” she smiles. “I spend a lot of time researching new treatments and developments. At the Belmore Centre we’re installing doctor fish, which will be giving ‘Pisces pedicures’, nibbling off the dead, hard areas of skin, leaving feet soft and healthy. “Now we have the mediclinic it has opened up several new areas. We have been registered by the Care Quality Commission and can undertake medical procedures here, under their stringent regulations. “We can now do facial peels such as the pumpkin peel, which is good for ageing skin, acne, enlarged pores and hyperpigmentation and the latest advances in anti-ageing skincare. We also do CACI facelifts (Computer Aided Cosmetology Instrument), where tiny

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

IPL hair removal

electrical impulses and signals stimulate muscle tone and enhance skin tissue. Botox, fillers, teeth whitening, laser hair removal are all available here. You can even have surgery under local anaesthetic in our operating theatre for procedures such as: wart removal, upper eye bags, and moles - we get quite a few GP referrals. External plastic surgeons are welcome to hire the facilities and our nurse to carry out procedures here too. “I do a range of cosmetic and medical tattooing or micropigmentation. It is actually different to normal tattooing as pigments, not ink, are used. I use a digital machine and the pigments are not impregnated as deeply as normal, so they are only semi-permanent and will fade over time.” Caron says her business has grown organically, rather than to any masterplan: “I was running my beauty business at the Belmore Hotel” she says “and started to rent out rooms for different treatments which included complementary therapies. “I had a vision of a centre that would cater for the inner and the outer self.. We had to

leave the Belmore Hotel in 1999 and moved the Belmore Centre to its current location. “The two centres complement each other. We have beauty therapy and complementary therapies there and cosmetic and aesthetic medicine here. “We’ve got a great team, many of whom have worked together for many years and that shows in the happy friendly atmosphere. “I do get bored quickly,” laughs Caron, “so I am always looking for the next thing. It helps us stay ahead of the game but it hasn’t necessarily made things easy. We often offer new treatments which people haven’t heard of - we had our first floatation tank back in 1993. What is good though is having so many different therapies available under one roof as it introduces new options to our clients and they will often recommend to friends or family who have different problems.” At Whitethorn the options come under four main areas: Cosmetic surgery offered by Sudip Ghosh: liposuction, facelifts, breast surgery, thread lifts and so on which are actually carried out

at a local BMI hospital such as the Shelbourne in High Wycombe, after consultations at Whitethorn.. Anti-ageing treatments such as dermal fillers, dermaroller, vein therapy, laser skin rejuvenation and hair removal, microdermabrasion, botox and so on. Medical and cosmetic tattooing. Minor urgery - mostly GP referred like mole removal. “It is a real gift to be able to give people back their confidence and improve their self esteem,” says Caron. “I feel we are changing lives, helping people physically and psychologically and it is inspiring. Caron’s dynamism is impressive and with her new Mediclinic she is again leading the way, not only with the treatments on offer, but in the friendly, professional service and stylish, modern facility she has created. l Whitethorn Fields MediClinic, Old Risborough Road, Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury, Bucks. HP22 5XJ. Telephone: 01296 614441 Email: Website: Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011


Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

Buon Appetito from

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


t’s been an eventful few weeks here at Boycott Farm. Like many, we were hit by heavy snow just before Christmas which brought us challenges both in the shop and on the farm. As we finally locked up the shop on Christmas Eve we looked forward to an unusually long 3 day break. We never have the day off completely as the animals still need looking after, but we had not planned to spend Rosemary and Christmas Day, defrosting Richard Hilsdon pipes on the farm and playing midwife to a sow struggling her way through labour! With the worst of the weather hopefully behind us, our thoughts turn to romance with Valentines Day on the 14th February. Our customers can buy a special meal for 2 including wine, which they can take to cook at home. This always proves popular and earns our gentleman customers some serious brownie points! On the farm, our Boar, Boris, weighing in at 600lbs, doesn’t have to work too hard to find a bit of love and affection. He has 7 ladies available to him and has produced approximately 270 offspring so far. One particular sow was so desperate for a date with him that she broke down the gate on her pen and ran off to find her true love. Sadly, she lost her bearings and ended up running out of the farm, across the road and into the horse paddocks! Luckily, she was spotted by one of the grooms and was tempted back to her pen by a large bucket of feed and some interesting pig noises made by Richard! Spring is only a few weeks away and it’s all about babies. As the piglets born on Christmas day settle into the sheds at the front of the shop, Bacon and Sausage have been weaned from their mother and moved to the large pig shed at the back of the farm. The calves have left their mothers and although they spent the first night “crying” (mooing loudly!) they are now settled and growing up fast. Every year we celebrate spring with our Spring Celebration Day which this year will be held on Saturday 26th March. It’s a chance for people to visit the farm and enjoy all that the new season brings. l Boycott Farm, Welsh Lane, Stowe, Buckinghamshire, MK18 5DJ. Telephone: 01280 821286. Email: shop@ Website:


Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011



mberto Della Valle runs Umberto’s, a fabulous, specialist Italian food shop in Thame’s Greyhound Walk, just a few yards from Waitrose. He’s an excellent cook and has kindly supplied us with this special Valentine recipe as eaten by all hot blooded Latin lovers back home in Italy! “This is a very special dish for me, because it reminds me of when I lived in Italy - this was the first real dish I ever prepared! It is usually cooked on St Valentine’s Day and believe me the smell and the taste are superb - a sure way to win the heart of your Valentine! I learnt how to cook this to perfection thanks to a special family friend called Enzo, who is a master of cooking. I hope you enjoy as much as I do!

Cuori Or Farfalle All’ Enzuccio

Ingredients for 2 persons Hand made pasta cuori or farfalle shape 1 jar hand made tomato sauce with basil A knob of butter/extra virgin olive oil 170gm double cream Half a glass of white wine

200gm smoked salmon 1 shallot Shaved Parmiggiano Salt and pepper

Bring the pasta water to a boil and salt it; in the meantime prepare the other ingredients. Cooking the sauce will take 10 minutes, so check the cooking time of the pasta and begin the sauce about 10 minutes before the pasta will be ready. Start by sautéing the shallot in the butter and olive oil until it wilts, then add the salmon (shred with fingers) and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring, until it lightens in colour. Pour in the wine, stir until it is evaporated, add the cream and the tomato sauce. Heat through for few minutes, check seasoning, and it’s ready; mix in the Parmiggiano at the very end, just before you use it to sauce the pasta. Finish with some parsley on top and a good grinding of fresh black pepper. Serve hot with some Bardolino Chiaretto Rose’ Buon appetito!

Create a masterpiece for pancake day Pancake Day could present the perfect opportunity to impress your foodie friends by using pancakes as the basis for an imaginative meal! Forget the normal boring fillers, create a bowl of golden pancake pasta or a deep filled pancake nest of silky, syrupy poached pears to make your pancake day an occasion that will be remembered all year round. Savoury or sweet, starter or dessert the possibilities are endless. To learn more visit the Vale Life website:

l Column: Matt Brown - One Hungry Man


ou might not know this about me, why should you for heaven’s sake, we’ve only just met, but I am the host of a breakfast radio show. Working on a programme that begins at six in the morning means that for the last three years of my short yet beautiful life I have woken up at 3.46am. It also means that breakfast is something of a snatched affair, a quick something to get me going, a slice of toast here, a bowl of cereal there, something to be consumed while I’m doing other things. I don’t for a minute think I’m alone in this, my wife Elizabeth tells me that my fantasies about her breakfasting leisurely at home with our two sons are unbelievably wide of the mark! Is it because the breakfast of my imaginings has been denied to me that I have become so obsessed with it?

Matt Brown

ONE Hungry Man

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

I have vivid memories of breakfasts as a kid, more so than any other meal. My sister and I used to alternate who would get the free gift in the box of Frosted Flakes or Rice Crackles (we were never allowed the real cereals and had to make do with the supermarket versions).

SAFETY FIRST at Independent Living

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

I remember going through a mad phase of having bananas on toast because my mum told me that bananas were such a treat when she was a child, she used to slice the banana as thinly as she could and make it last for as many rounds of toast as possible. She claims that she once managed thirteen slices, a feat that I have never, ever been able to match. For me though the real breakfast holy grail is the bacon sandwich. Everyone I know has their own version of this glorious food and everyone is adamant that their way is the best. For the record my own preference is for a white bread bacon sarnie but not presliced white bread. The bacon should be grilled so the fat is crisp and lightly browned. The bottom slice of bread should

be buttered and the top slice dipped in the hot bacon fat from the grill. For years I thought this was the perfect bacon butty until this new year’s morning we took some friends up to Wendover Woods, where we had rented a barbecue pit specifically to cook up some hangover-busting bacon sarnies. I also took a camping stove and frying pan to fry some eggs and I have to say that a barbecued bacon roll with a runny fried egg on top eaten in the drizzle of a January day in the woods might just be the greatest thing I have ever cooked. If you’re near Wendover Woods next January 1st, pop along and I’ll make you a perfect bacon sanger. That’s if there’s any left, which is highly unlikely!

Coffee. Lovers.

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Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011


19/01/2011 14:55

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 


01844 338137

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Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011


Rolls of Buckram cloth

don’t have a wooden heart, sang Elvis Presley in 1960, but if he’d lived in Haddenham he could have rocked up at the White Hart Studio and wiggled his hips around tickers of wood, stone, wicker, tin, terracotta, satin... the king would no doubt have been royally pleased. ‘Love me tender, love me true’ he’d have crooned but with Valentine’s Day upon us, should we sing, ‘what is love? Sophocles said, ‘One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.’ He would have gone for the cute set of coat hooks with love writ large upon them - relieving at once the heavy burden of both living and his cloak. Perhaps Mark Twain had it right when he said:,‘Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired’ but to visit the White Hart Studio is to be filled with irresistible desire - oh it is so confusing, perhaps we should just go shopping... l White Hart Studio, 15 Churchway, Haddenham, HP17 8AB Telephone: 01844 292308 Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm Sundays: 11am-4pm

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011


l Column: Penny Harper - Small Town Girl

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

Penny Harper


hilip Larkin once wrote that marriage was like ‘promising to stand on one leg for the rest of one’s life’. I have refrained from writing this in a card to my brother who has just got engaged to his long-term girlfriend. It seems everybody in my life is about to walk down the aisle; old boyfriends, cousins, friends, little brothers. It’s as though some great romantic sneeze went off and scattered over a wide area, leaving me feeling like the last ‘single’ woman standing. It’s now airborne. A few days before Christmas, my boyfriend and I put the presents for each other under the tree. I tried to hide my surprise

when he placed what looked like a neatly-wrapped ring box next to the obvious CD and DVD selections. I didn’t say anything and certainly didn’t want to go anywhere near it. Surely this wasn’t how he’d propose?! Two days went by and I couldn’t stand it any longer! We were writing cards and gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes (or watching telly, I can’t quite remember) when I finally decided to take back control. ‘I know what that ISN’T, but what the heck IS it?’ He burst out laughing. It turned out to be an MP3 player. I had really, really wanted one... Perhaps it’s the recession and being forced to huddle together

for warmth but it seems the love bug has come early this year and it’s spreading, fast. Like some winter strain of Valentine’s Day fever; everybody I know is being struck down in their prime. Just think of all those people promising to stand on one leg for eternity. I suppose it’s easier though with a partner to prop you up. I’ve been thinking of Philip Larkin a lot since seeing Tom Courtenay become the poet in the show ‘Pretending To Be Me’. He performed recently at the Thame Players theatre. It’s given me a renewed appreciation of all my relationships, be they with my partner, my family or my friends. I’ve never made a

Small Town

Girl formal vow or promise to stand on one leg for any of them, but I’m certain they know how I feel. It’s a done deal, ‘till death do us part’ as they say. Here I must turn once more to the words of that great Hull librarian, Mr Larkin: ‘What will survive of us is love’.


ast year Vale Life featured Sylar Magic, the young Romanian magician who has made Aylesbury his home and is taking the area by storm with his baffling card tricks, clever conjuring and amazing mentalism. Despite having a time-consuming day and evening job at the town’s Greek Taverna he has been out and about performing in clubs and pubs and at private functions and parties to the amazement of all who see his shows. Not content with the local acclaim Sylar has entered Britain’s Got Talent and after a positive start at Excel in London, where he was kept back after the audition for a screen test, he is now waiting to hear if he has made it through to the second round of auditions in March. In Romania Sylar had his own TV slot, there is still footage available on YouTube under his alter-ego Bogdan Mangu and he has now started making his own TV show, which can be seen online via his website. Every week he puts up edited highlights of magic he has done at clubs and parties, videos of close up magic, stand up magic 28

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

and mentalism. So far there are five episodes online and episode three contains the trick he is going to do next on Britain’s Got Talent. You can see it online at: and you can link with him via his facebook page: If you prefer to catch the man live at the time of going to press he was in talks with the Niche bar on Market Square, Aylesbury about performing a stand up magic show at one of their Thursday night over 25s events. Keep an eye on his websites and for further news.

l Column: Alisha Johnson

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

As Valentine’s Day looms many of us are stuck with the dilemma of what to wear, but it’s often what’s underneath that really counts. Vale Life’s Alisha Johnson takes us through her lingerie lust, I mean list!


alentine’s Day... many of us dread the event, even if we have a partner. We wonder what he will buy us, whether we’ll get taken somewhere nice for dinner and at the end of the evening what will he expect?! Even if you don’t have someone, it doesn’t mean that you can’t dress to impress this Valentine’s Day, just go out with the knowledge that you’re wearing something slinky underneath and your confidence will shine through. No matter what your situation come the day of lurve, enjoy feeling sexy with some sensual underwear - here’s a guide to what you can wear - let’s spice things up!

Matching set For those who don’t want to go too raunchy but still want to look sexy, try a matching set. Opt for lace to feel girly or silk to be slinky and of course make sure you get properly fitted by a sizing specialist - doctors have found that ill-fitting bras can cause backache, which is a definite passion killer! For something special check out Myla’s lingerie range, they have a special section just for the bedroom. If you’re not comfortable bearing all in a tiny bra and knickers set then go for something that gives you a bit more coverage, it can still ooze sex appeal. A corset or body is perfect for this, accentuating the hourglass in your shape with a push and a squeeze in all the right places! For corsets that aren’t too burlesque check out Lepel’s range they’ll certainly give you a lift. Babydolls Babydolls are perfect for retaining a little mystery while still making quite an impression. La Senza has a gorgeous range which come with all sorts of whistles and bells, or ruf-

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fles and sequins and even some added support. If you need a little more support then go for a body. Simply Yours has a wide range that are supportive and sexy! X-Rated For the brazen among us Ann Summers will have all a kinky heart desires. From peekaboo bras to dressing up oufits, her range is truly wicked! Remember though, whatever you wear, should make you feel good too! Of course sorting the underlayers is just the start of a girl’s concerns, but with firm foundations to build on you’ll be full of confidence and ready for romance whatever Valentine’s Day may bring.

new volume, Secret Geneva, but Vale Life readers can choose their prize. To be in with a chance of winning one of five Secret Guides email your name, address and telephone number, plus title of guide you’d like to win, along with the answer to the following question to: Which country is Lisbon in? Winner to be drawn at random from correct entries and notified by email on March 1st.

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Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011


Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

There’s 6am deliveries and buckets of water to deal with, but Jayne and Gary still think their job is heaven scent!


t's a busy time of year for a florist, but Jayne Cleaver and Gary Molloy at Sue’s Flowers in Aylesbury are enjoying the buzz of owning a blooming business. The couple took over from Sue last year and as the shop name has not changed and Sue’s staff are still working there, many locals may not yet have noticed! Jayne and Gary moved from Bracknell, Berkshire to take on the venture and are enjoying their new life in Aylesbury: “It’s a great shop,” says Jayne, “Sue was here for seven years and has some lovely regular customers and the staff are brilliant - all experienced florists and lovely to work with.” “We’ve given the shop a facelift and we’re adding our own mark slowly. We carry the full Interflora range and we’re building on that. We’ve some lovely vases and a selection of sparkley wedding tiaras. We’ve pretty bracelets to clip a wedding or prom corsage onto and then keep to wear afterwards. We’ve got an alcohol licence which means we can deliver a flowers and champagne package, or flowers with wine or sparkling wine. We also have chocolates, teddy bears, balloons... we’re doing hiring of vases for parties or weddings too, which helps brides to keep their costs down.” Although this is her first business Jayne is an experienced florist. She worked for Longacres in Bagshot, a huge garden centre with some 80 florists. She studied floristry at college for two years and worked for Flower Corner in Wokingham. She is experienced in all aspects of the craft, from weddings and events, to formal, funereal and memorial displays as well as arranging stunning bouquets and pretty hand-tied bunches.


Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

Above: Jayne and Gary. Below: Jayne and Gary with staff, Claire, Trisha and Mandy

“I’ve always enjoyed making things and being creative,” says Jayne. “It wasn’t until I started working for Longacres that I realised how much I enjoyed working with plants and flowers. Now having our own shop it’s great being able to put our ideas into practice. Gary has a background in the motor trade and ran his own garage, so he concentrates on admin and deliveries: “We cover quite a large area,” he says, “We deliver from Waddesdon out to Whitchurch, Wingrove around Aylesbury, Tring, Wendover and Thame, a similar area to Vale Life really.” The shop supplies local businesses, with regular fresh flower displays as well as being open six days a week for the general public and catering for a variety of weddings, funerals and events. “We’d been looking for a floristry business for a while,” says Gary. “We’d seen a few places, but we really like the Aylesbury area.”

The shop is on Buckingham Street, just off the town centre: “We cater for all tastes and budgets,” says Jayne, “We do contemporary and traditional arrangements. Most people ask for hand-tied bouquets which come in water, ready to display. Some people prefer a traditional bouquet so they can have the fun of arranging them at home themselves. “Our vase arrangements come complete with a vase: black, white, purple, lots of different colours, we do flowers in wicker baskets and even arranged in a purse or handbag which is pretty and different. “I’m looking forward to seeing what people order for Valentine’s Day this year, say Jayne. “The traditional red rose is always popular but there’s always pink, or yellow roses, pink tulips, or red amaryllis. Something grander like Cymbidium orchids and antirrhinums are a bit more modern and very popular.” Through February Sue's Flowers is offering the chance to win a £40 bouquet. When you place your order in store, you'll get a free raffle ticket and a draw will be made at the end of the month. l Sue’s Flowers, 43b Buckingham Street, Aylesbury, Bucks. HP20 2NQ. Tel: 01296 423233. Email: suesflowers2@ Website:

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

“Forget swine flu, I’ve got spring fever,” says Naomi MacKay. “I’ve seen green shoots growing out in the garden and if I don’t get stuck in soon, I fear I’m going to run out of time!”


spent a happy couple of hours in the garden enjoying the winter sunshine at the weekend, and as I noticed the shoots of bulbs emerging my thoughts turned to spring. It’s not been easy to do that with snow lying on the ground, but if you don’t make a start on getting the garden ready in the first couple of months, suddenly March and April are upon us and there is so much to do and so little time - so where to start? First, garden structures. Make sure fences and buildings are solid and secure. Replace and repair as necessary. If your fence looks a bit dull, add some trellis, and plan which climbers you’d like to grow along it, or even invest in some colourful garden paint. Pull and dig out any obvious weeds and then mulch beds and borders. This will keep weed growth to a minimum – there are lots of garden jobs I love but weeding isn’t one of them!

A heated propagator like this one from The Stewart Company can give you a head start on seed sowing

Prune back bushes and shrubs now before the growing season starts. If you’re growing potatoes this year you can chit (encourage sprouting) them now. They can be planted out mid-March to April (Good Friday is the traditional day, but we won’t hold you to that!) I’m going to experiment this year by chitting some but not others. I’ll let you know what happens. If you’re planning on seed sowing this year, check your greenhouse is clean (or invest in a small one if it suits you better). Clean out pots

Even a small greenhouse, like the one above, from Forest, can help you get a head start on the growing season

and trays. If you have a heated propagator, towards the end of the month start sowing bedding plants for a fabulous display this summer. If you’re new to this, start off with bigger seeds such as cosmos, nasturtium, sunflowers and sweet peas. Outdoors, you can sow broad beans and some early peas. Under cover start sowing summer cabbages, spinach and even some early salads. If you haven’t already, gather a few seed catalogues (or check out suppliers online) and start planning what other veg and flowers you’d like to grow from seed or plug plants. This is the really fun part.

l Naomi MacKay’s blog about her Buckinghamshire garden at is updated every Wednesday. She also helps businesses to create or improve their websites, and runs training courses on presenting your business on the web and social media. Naomi is offering a 10% discount to Vale Life readers who quote the code VLFEB. Call 07802 426594, email or log on to

Win tickets to Destinations Holiday and Travel Show

Ditch the workout

Join the party! Latin inspired, easy-to-follow, calorie burning, dance-fitness party

Every Tuesday - 7pm At LJ’z Café Bar / Nightclub, Aylesbury (next to Wilkinson’s) Only £5! GET FIT! HAVE FUN! Contact Livvy: 07584 668847 for more information on this class & others in your area!

Anyone passionate about travel should head to Destinations, The Times Holiday and Travel Show taking place at Birmingham NEC from March 4-6. Hundreds of leading and independent travel companies will be on hand to provide inspiration, ideas, expert advice and a vast travel choice - everything from jungle treks and city breaks to honeymoons and gourmet retreats. Enjoy food demonstrations, tasting sessions, learn new arts and craft skills and partake in dance workshops. Plus there is a superb line-up of inspiring travel speakers including Simon Reeve, Ben Anderson, and the Willmott family

from the Channel 4 series My Family’s Crazy Gap Year. The Show provides inspiration and advice with visitors able to book with complete confidence and take advantage of some sensational offers – all in one place. Destinations is offering Vale Life readers the chance to win one of five pairs of

tickets. To be in with a chance simply email your name, address and telephone number, along with the answer to the following question to: What does NEC stand for? Winner to be drawn at random and notified by email on March 1st. l 31

Luxury Coach Holidays

DayTrips,Theatres & Shows

ave w.mottstr w w : e n i l n Book o

Taste Of Yorkshire Weekend

with 50s and 60s Party Night!

SPECIAL OFFER Wed February 2 London for sightseeing and shopping £12! Wed February 9 Cite Europe & Belgium £35 Sat February 12 Snowdrops at Welford Park, Newbury £21

Half Board, excursions to Leeds and York Drinks promo £1.50 and Quiz Night 4 Days Friday March 11 ONLY £149

Dutch Bulbfields & Old Holland

3 or 4 Nights Hotel On Half Board Plus: included excursions to Amsterdam, Volendam and Kuekenhof Gardens 4 Days Fridays through April £309 5 Days Sun/Mon through April £399

Tue February 22 London Free Museums £18 Sun March 20 Stitch & Craft Show, Olympia £26

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

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

Winning smile

Congratulations to Sarah East of Dinton who won a fabulous Hamper courtesy of Waitrose, Thame in our Vale Life Christmas Competition. Sarah is pictured above receiving her prize at the store from customer services manager Graham Pople. Thanks to everyone who entered and to Waitrose for not only putting up the prize, but also for stocking Vale Life Magazine.

Win a meal for two at The Village Gate

Where there’s a will there’s a way and The Village Gate at Wendover shows what you can do with a little imagination, and a feel for what pubs are really all about: eating, drinking and conversation. Dan Shotton’s Red Comb Pubs company has taken what was previously the Marquis of Granby opposite World’s End Garden Centre and refurbished into a warm and welcoming country pub, with oak boards, exposed brickwork and wood burning stoves complemented by some stylish decor, muted tones and chunky mirrors. This is a quality country pub, with an impressive dining room, where you can enjoy a drink and a chat with friends, a quick sandwich or

bar snack with colleagues, or a meal with your family – and be well looked after by a team who are proud of their pub. If you’d like the chance to win a meal for two at the Village Gate (drinks not included), simply email your name, address and telephone number, along with the answer to the following question to: Which county is The Village Gate in? A winner to be drawn at random and notified by email on March 1st. l The Village Gate, 225 Aylesbury Road, Wendover, Bucks. HP22 6BA. Tel: 01296 623884. Email: Website:

Win Weleda pine bath milk

Join us at 17a Buttermarket, Thame, Oxon, OX9 3EP

Cosmetic andJoinFragrance Co Ltd us at 17a Buttermarket, Thame, Oxon, OX9 3EP

All a girl needs -

To celebrate our opening and to launch the Art Deco range of cosmetics and skincare in Thame.

and something for the guys too!

A makeup artist from Art Deco will be providing demonstrations and be available to give advice Gifts, oncosmetics, perfume, their range of products

skincare,thtoiletries Tuesday 13 July 2010 Open House from 7pm

Crabtree & Evelyn: RSVP: Karen Moore

or 01844 214816 Gardeners, La Source, Rosewater, Iris


Cefiro, Fleur Elite

Dr. Hauschka

ARTDECO COUTURE MAKE UP TEAM 2009 Royal Television Society Award-Winners for Best makeup - Dancing on Ice Series 4

Susan Posnick ArtDeco Guys or Dolls & more...

17a Buttermarket, Thame, OX9 3EP Tel: 01844 214816

To celebrate our opening and to launch the Art Deco range of cosmetics and skincare in Thame. Weleda, originally a Swiss A makeup artist from Art Deco willcompany, be providing has learnt a thing demonstrations and be available toorgive twoadvice from alpine plants and on their range of products put them to good use in its all-natural range of medicines Tuesday 13 th July 2010 Open House from 7pmand bodycare. If you’re skiing RSVP: Karen Moore this season, their winter sports remedies are a must. or 01844 214816 After a demanding day on the slopes, Weleda’s biodynamic Massage Balm with Arnica will soothe tired, aching muscles. If you can’t make it to the mountains this year experience tranquillity of snow-clad ARTDECO COUTURE MAKE UPthe TEAM 2009 Royal Television Society Award-Winners for Best makeup - Dancing on Ice Series 4 pine forests in a warm bath of Weleda’s aromatic Pine Reviving Bath Milk instead. Take a long soak in the bath to benefit from the natural health-giving properties of essential oil of silver fir (Abies Alba) and Siberian pine (Abies Sibirica). Weleda is offering Vale Life

readers the chance to win a bottle of the aromatic soak. To enter simply email your name, address and telephone number, along with the answer to the following question to: Which alpine country is Weleda originally from? Winner to be drawn at random and notified by email on March 1st. l

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011


Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011


hame photographer Frank Millar has again been snapping life in the Vale. He’s kindly passed on a selection of photographs of Shabbington based singer Vicki Dawson, 24, who won a photo session with Frank in last year’s Thame’s Got Talent competition. It was a surprise victory for Vikki, who hasn’t done much public singing, apart from occasional karaoke sessions while on holiday! She impressed the Thame judges with her version of the Witney Houston favourite ‘I will always love you’. Vikki says she’d like to do more singing, she sometimes joins the Towersey open mic sessions at The Three Horseshoes and she’s been collaborating with local DJ Tom Wainwright from Haddenham on some tracks, but would like to hook up with a decent band, so is open to offers - you can contact her via Vale Life, email:

Vikki was brought up in Long Crendon and went to Ashfold School and then Headington. She is a keen rider and studied Equine Therapy at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire. We may be seeing more of Vikki, buoyed up by her recent success she’s entered the next series of X Factor, so keep your fingers crossed! Above Vikki is pictured singing at Thame’s Christmas light switch on, following her success in the talent competition. Inset right, photographed at

Vikki Dawson The Spread Eagle, Thame during her winning performance All pictures by Frank Millar:

Vale Life Snappy Snaps Fab photo Competition


Sponsored by Snappy Snaps, Aylesbury

any thanks to all of you who have entered our Fab Photo Contest. We’ve been emailed some amazing images including this lovely picture, taken last summer by Sharon Hardy of Aylesbury, of her four Cavalier King Charles Spaniels on a hay cart in a Weston Turville cornfield. We feel Sharon must take the prize this time, if only for getting her subjects to pose so elegantly! To Enter: Email your picture plus a brief description of the image and your name, address and contact details to: Entries for this issue’s competition should be emailed by March 1st. The winner will receive a free A3 sized canvas print of their picture courtesy of Snappy Snaps, Aylesbury.

Win a Valentine mini-photo session

Snappy Snaps would like to offer Vale Life readers the chance to win a mini-photo shoot at their Aylesbury studio with a choice of print to take away afterwards. Simply email your name, address and contact details to: editor@ stating who your Valentine photo partner will be. Good luck!

We were also impressed by these pictures, taken by Peter Woodliffe. He snapped the telephone box in Kingswood near Aylesbury on Christmas day and took the atmospheric winter scene on a frosty morning walk by Chinnor rugby club.

Snappy Snaps, 7 High Street, Aylesbury, HP20 1SH. Tel: 01296 330003. 34

Vale Life : Feb / Mar 2011

Tyres l Brakes l Batteries l Servicing l Exhausts l MOTs

Fast fit you can be sure of

iPhone App now available to download free from The App Store

Autocentre New state of the art service centre Unbeatable prices Up to 25% Off* Tyres MOT from £25* Silver service and MOT £95*

* subject to terms & conditions

HiQ Aylesbury Unit 7, The Point, Gatehouse Way Aylesbury, Bucks HP19 8DB Tel: 01296 422226 Tyres l Brakes l Batteries l Servicing l Exhausts l MOTs

Village Pub and Restaurant, London Road, Aston Clinton, Aylesbury, HP22 5HP. Tel: 01296 632777 Website:

A relaxing drink, tasty food and even a comfy bed! The newly-refurbished Bell at Aston Clinton is a fabulous village pub and restaurant serving tasty, top-notch food, with an eclectic range of quality wines and fine cask ales in cosy, stylish surroundings. Pull up a chair and enjoy the buzz of the bar, a roaring fire and some good, honest, home-cooked pub food, prepared on the premises from the best ingredients available (including fresh fish delivered daily). Our latest menu is simmering with warm, seasonal flavours. Dishes range from light bites and tapas-style sharers to modern British classics and beautifully cooked fish.

Grill night - Thursday

Fish night - Friday

Roasts on Sunday

A warm welcome everyday

Vale Life Magazine Feb/Mar 2011 edition  

Vale Life Magazine Feb/Mar 2011 edition Six weekly, glossy, lifestyle title for Aylesbury Vale area of United Kingdom

Vale Life Magazine Feb/Mar 2011 edition  

Vale Life Magazine Feb/Mar 2011 edition Six weekly, glossy, lifestyle title for Aylesbury Vale area of United Kingdom