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Vale Life

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Mar/Apr 2012

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Free local listings for events and businesses


Hidden Treasures

Out of the closet at Thame Museum

Artists in action

Makers on view at Waddesdon fair

Not diggin’ your scene?

Call in the Personal Plant Shopper

From East to West

Sam’s putting the punch back in South Pacific Penny, Ruby, Matt and much, much more...

Cover image: baby swimming underwater at Swimkidz swimming classes, see page 43

w Sarah Cole Jubilee Mug w Hotel Chocolat Everything Selection w w dinner for Two at the Angel w Welsh Spa Weekend w

Specialists in beds and bedroom furniture Viewing by appointment Crendon Furniture Outlet

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

Tel: 01844 202418 Contemporary and traditional bedroom furniture

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Hypnos ex-showroom stock at clearance prices.

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Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

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Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

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Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012


Luxury Coach Holidays

DayTrips,Theatres & Shows Join one of our great value tours! .mottstrav w w w : e n nli Book o DUTCH BULBFIELDS AND OLD HOLLAND: 4 & 5 Days: Ideally situated in the heart of the bulb-growing region, our tours to this flower-growing area are a must for the flower enthusiast, who will love the dazzling display of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. Package includes: Luxury Coach Travel, Return Ferry Crossing, 3 or 4 nights Hotel with breakfast & dinner, admission to Kuekenhof and visit to local nursery. Excursion to Volendam and Amsterdam. With the option of a canal cruise and guided tour. Optional excursion to Delft and The Hague on 5-day holidays. Choice of dates: 4 Days (April 13, 20 or 27) - £324 5 Days (April 9, 15, 23 or 29) - £424

Floriade 2012: 4 Days The World Horticultural Expo is more than a flower show, it is an international event showcasing the very latest trends in gardening, horticulture and the environment. Staged once every 10 years, this truly remarkable, unmissable event is based at the very popular Grand Monopole in Valkenburg. Accommodation has been reserved for three nights with breakfast and dinner. Entry to Floriade is included plus excursion to Aachen in Germany. Choice of dates: April 27, May 18, Jun 8 or 15, Aug 10 or Sept 28 for only £349 Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows on sale now! Please request a brochure.

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

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Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

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

Spread the word across The Vale: see: for details

7 8 11



All about energy

Hidden treasures


Ruby, Matt and dinner for two

Plant power


Queen of cool


Fun for foodies

Urban guide and country walks


Tipsters choice

Location! Location!


Business as usual

Let’s celebrate


All booked up

They call it madness


Tip for a top day

Wired for sound


Just kidding

Upstairs, downstairs


Breathe easy

What’s in this issue?

Local history at Thame Museum Meet the Personal Plant Shopper

12 Secret garden 16 18 21 22 24 26

Jane’s new range will grow on you!

Stepping out with Hero, Helen and Pythius Growing salon has lots on offer A year on it’s time for the bubbly The crazy world of Lynn and Mandy Listen in and help your hearing Firms combine in one-stop shop

Andy’s door is always open

Friendship is a fistful of dough

Blazing a trail with frozen yogurt Have your fill at the Chilterns Food Fest Cosy local has great pub grub Meat and greet Thame’s old new butchers Small town girl’s been telling stories 100 years of Kimble Point to Point Fun for families at Bucks Goat Farm Swimming with babies

Apologies for the delay, it was snow on the tracks


ow! Who’d have thought so many of you would be up for joining our esteemed publication! Last edition’s plea for potential helpers to get in touch was obviously heard loud and clear and the mail box is still pinging with late entries responding to the call! It is much appreciated, but I’m afraid has caused a slight delay in making a decision on the way forward, as there’s still a few respondents I’d like to chat with. The small matter of producing the magazine in the meantime, keeps getting in the way - oh well... I have to admit I did slip away to France for a few days as well, which hasn’t helped. Some friends had kindly lent the use of their ski chalet and a few days of bracing mountain air and healthy outdoor exercise was in order to recharge the batteries. We took the channel tunnel and drove across


ongratulations to the following Feb/Mar edition competition winners! Hopefully your prizes will have arrived by now, let us know if not. Commiserations to those who weren’t so lucky - read on though for more

France to a delightful alpine village called Les Carroz. It is a long slog, even though the French roads are fabulous, just mile after mile of clear dual carriageway and then a few kilometres of hairpin bends and you are in winter wonderland. Despite the drive I have come back reinvigorated and will be contacting all applicants who haven’t already been informed in the next few days to let them know what is going on. I really appreciate everyone who has taken the time and made the effort to get in touch. And thanks for all the kind comments about Vale Life, I’m hoping it wasn’t just flattery! Enjoy the magazine, and happy reading

Skiing uphill is actually harder!

Charlie Charlie Trott:

competitions inside this edition, including the chance to win: a Sarah Cole Silver Jubilee Mug; Dinner for two at The Angel, Long Crendon; a Hotel Chocolat selection box and a luxury Welsh Spa stay. Last issue’s prizewinners were: A signed copy of What’s for Dinner?:

Carole Natella, Tring; Kirstie Waring, Aylesbury; Sherry Rix, Milton Common. Tickets to the Country Living Spring Fair: Wendy Graffy, Thame; Isabella Darnton, Princes Risborough; Emma Ward, Whitchurch; Janice Carr, Ludgershall; Adrian Mannall, Aylesbury

NEOM diffuser and candle: Vivienne Miles, Aylesbury; Kim Harbison, Aston Clinton; Alison McKenzie, Stoke Mandeville A Gossard Collection Lingerie set from Gorgeous of Tring: Elizabeth Mellor, Wendover.

Front cover picture: underwater shots taken at Swimkidz swimming classes by Andy Hare of SwimKidz Uk Ltd (see page 43). 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 : Mar/Apr 2012


Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

A chance discovery during a cottage renovation 24 years ago reveals a fascinating insight into life in Victorian Thame, writes Joanna Collie. And now it’s all on display in Thame Museum...


t’s not often that you can enjoy a fascinating and completely absorbing few hours for nothing. That’s exactly what you can expect at the Thame Museum, though, where local history leaps to life, from the relatively recent recordings of local residents, reminiscing about the town’s past, to a glimpse of life in medieval Thame. Some artefacts offer a more personal insight, especially for Janet Eaton, pictured right, who works at the museum and donated some of its intriguing exhibits. In 1987 Janet inherited 13 Southern Road in Thame and set about renovating it to sell. She soon made a mysterious discovery - a sorry-looking cupboard set high in the wall to one side of the fireplace and blocked in by old gaspipes. Quite why it was covered over with the gaspipes in 1888 is baffling, but even more intriguing is that the cupboard was filled with letters and objects belonging to the cottage’s 19th-century residents, the Carter family. Janet, whose teenage son made the discovery in 1988 (eerily exactly 100 years later), thinks that it may have happened by accident. Perhaps the mother of the family, Ann Carter, hastily swept everything out of sight, shutting the door firmly on the clutter before workmen arrived to fit the gaspipes. Objects on display at the museum


Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Janet Eaton after the discovery in 1988, and today (left) at her cottage in Thame, where she has a similar fireplace cupboard

History on your doorstep Thame Museum is an independent, self-funded charity organisation staffed entirely by volunteers. Around 50 give up their time to help out front-of-house, carrying out conservation work, managing the shop or showing school groups around the collection. It was set up in 2007 in the town’s old Court House by the Thame Historical Society, which was determined to have a permanent display for artefacts collected by the society and local residents. Since the call went out in 2005 for local residents to clear out their sheds and attics, the collection has gone from strength to strength. But the museum is not just about displaying objects; the society was keen to tell the history of Thame and has created a

Janet remembers the excitement of the moment of discovery, especially for her son as he rifled through the findings. “He came running in and said, ‘Mum. It’s absolutely full of things. Letters, photos come and look.’ I thought he was teasing me at first,” says Janet. But one look at the pile of papers, letters, photographs, diaries, pencils and everyday artefacts assured her that she had truly inherited treasure. In total, the cupboard contained 496 items, including a bank book and some photographs; after the pipes were fitted, Ann Carter must have been more than a little frustrated to have her precious things so near and yet so far! There were several building and gardening implements too - the men of the household were involved in such work. These were exhibited in London and are now in the Reading Museum. After reading through most of the letters, Janet started researching the 1901 Census and followed the trail of clues that seemed to grow with every new discovery. The Carters had three sons and a daughter, Pollie. Among the many papers found were letters from Pollie, who worked for the Pontyfix family in High Wycombe. Her letters throw a light on life in Buckinghamshire at the time and suggest that the family was interested number of graphic display panels, all designed in-house and each telling a part of the story. In addition to the permanent galleries the museum has a programme of entertaining and informative exhibitions and talks. Facilities for local history and family history research are also available. If you would like to get involved with the museum, it is always looking for new members and volunteers. For more information email:

Opening Times Tuesday: Wednesday: Saturday: Sunday: Admission is free

10am - 4pm, 10am - 4pm, 10am - 4pm, 12pm - 4pm

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

A Letter from Pollie Carter to her parents One of the finds in Janet’s cupboard was a letter dating from 1885 from the Carters’ daughter, Pollie, who worked for the Pontyfix family of High Wycombe. In the letter she recounts the recent election of Richard Curzon. My Dear Mother & Father, I dare say you have heard by this time that Lord Curzon was the successful one here yesterday, poor Rupert the mob brought him down to the gates, he looked so disappointed, I felt sorry for him. I think he has been rather foolish and against himself for going for Disestablishment. The first telegram received from Lord Carrington was to say he hoped Rupert would get in. They say Lady Curzon ’as won the election. She ’as been driving a tandem canvassing the town on Friday, they kept her in The Lion yard for nearly an hour yesterday, when they where going away they mobbed her and said they would kill her, they even had to back the train in the station to keep the mob from her. The fighting, howling, groaning, shouting, quarrelling was something awful. They broke every pane of glass in the Conservative club, we had to close our shop soon after tea on Friday. On Saturday the shops were closed after dinner. I hope Sarah liked the cloth, we shall soon have Xmas here now. Wouldn’t Emily like to come and see all the pretty things we have got for Xmas. I wish you could bring her up for a couple of days. Mr Johncock as gone down to Faversham, we are going to Miss Pontyfix to tea. What miserable weather we have had this week. I hope you are all quite well. With Love, Yrs Truly, Pollie

in politics and day-to-day civic concerns. The letters are colloquial, revealing idioms and speech patterns of the time, as the family simply wrote as they spoke. Some are full of character, and it’s no wonder that Janet has become fond of the shadowy figures who once lived in her old cottage. When Derrick Lane was renamed Southern Road, one of them exclaims gleefully: “We’re now going to be Southern Road - ain’t we grand!” There are letters of a touching nature, too. Some of them discuss a young relation called Emily in Birmingham, whose mother was struggling to raise her, probably due to overcrowding and their unbearable living conditions at the time. Janet’s investigations gradually took on a personal nature. “After getting this close to them I really think of them as friends”, she says, and happily a search of the Census revealed that little Emily grew up to work as a gold polisher in Birmingham. That particular little story thread had a happy ending. There are still lots of questions that remain unanswered, however Janet is struggling with one in particular. “Ann Carter was described as a ‘monthly nurse’ from Wheatley,” she says. “I’ve looked at records and asked other nurses in the area if they know what a ‘monthly nurse’ was, but nobody seems to know.” Do you know? If so, please get in touch with Vale Life and enlighten us. That would be one more little mystery from the locked cupboard solved. l Thame Museum, 79 High Street, Thame, Oxon OX9 3AE Tel: 01844 212801 Website:

Some of Janet’s finds on display at Thame Museum include Victorian spectacles and embroidered case, medicine bottles, old newspapers and bills

WANT TO BE A WRITER? Get your story onto the page! Take up a fun, relaxed Creative Writing course starting in Little Milton in April. The classes are led by Jo Collie and are suitable for all levels. Jo is a published author, features writer, broadcaster and university lecturer. Join us on Monday evenings and/or Wednesday mornings from 16th April. Course details and booking form at WHERE: The Pine Lodge, Thame Road, Little Milton WHEN: Monday evenings from 7:30pm and/or Wednesday mornings from 10:30am PRICE: £12.50 per class.

Call Jo on: 07505 128293 or email:

Joanna Collie is a freelance writer, author and creative writing tutor living in South Oxfordshire. Her latest book, From Mother To Stepmother: the Single Mother’s Guide to Marrying a Man, His Kids and His Ex-Wife, was published by PIATKUS in October 2011. Her short stories, features, radio scripts and poetry have been published and broadcast internationally and have taken prizes in several open competitions. Jo was Head of Creative for Primedia in South Africa before becoming Senior Creative Writer for GWR Radio Group in the UK (now part of Global Radio).   She offers writing services in a multitude of styles - from humour to formal, journalistic to motivational - and writes books, articles, business and personal blogs, or just about anything else you want written that’s non-fiction. If you have great ideas but can’t seem to find the words to express them, Jo offers a ghost writing service for your book, blog, advertising copy or article. She will adopt your style and write words that express your unique viewpoint. The most important skill a ghost writer possesses is the ability to write words that sound like they come from your mouth. Do you have a story to tell? Contact Jo to discuss your project further at, or go to her website to see examples of her work Joanna Collie at

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012



In the Garden with Naomi MacKay

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Gardeners’ World’s Joe Swift unveils his RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden


hat’s the dangerous thing about TV - when you see a personality in real life, you smile and say hello before realising you only ‘know’ them from watching them every week on the small screen. So when I went to a recent event for garden writers and saw Joe Swift getting a coffee, I had to stop myself from greeting him like a long-lost friend. Happily, I later caught up with him to talk about his RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden, so next time I see him, maybe he won’t think I’m a stalker when I smile and say hi. Joe has designed the Homebase Teenage Cancer Trust Garden, which has been dubbed an ‘urban oasis’. “I live in Hackney,” says Joe, “so it’s a dream to see anything natural - wood, stone or a piece of water. I wanted to be a bit touchyfeely and ensure visitors connected to it visually but also physically.” The garden’s design uses curved cedarwood frames to draw the eye down the length of the garden, but there are also windows that look into the sides of the garden. The frames divide the space into separate sections without blocking

Joe Swift and his Homebase Teenage Cancer Trust Garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (above) them off entirely, as solid fencing would. Planting is warm with golden yellows and deep burgundies. Geums and potentillas are popular. “Chelsea is always about blues and purples; I wanted to do something different,” Joe says. From the spring, Homebase shoppers will be able to buy plants inspired by Joe’s Chelsea garden. The Chelsea Collection aims to encourage all gardeners, no matter how green-fingered or nervous they

are, to recreate a piece of Chelsea magic in their own plot, inspired by Joe’s design and themes. You may not want to go the full effect with giant cedarwood frames in your garden, but think about creating ‘views’. You could add ‘windows’ made from hazel, or by growing climbers around trellis or frames with a gap in the middle to gaze through. Think how you could draw the eye to favourite parts of the garden – the idea is to not allow the entire space to be seen at once, but to create the chance for it to ‘reveal’ its secrets as you walk around.

Cosmos Choca Mocha

Geum Borisii

l Naomi MacKay is a freelance writer and editor who has worked on magazines including Garden Answers, Garden News and Garden Trade News and writes about her Buckinghamshire garden at http://digging She also helps businesses to create or improve their websites, run social media campaigns, and produce business publications. Naomi is offering a 10% discount to Vale Life readers who quote the code VLMAR. Call 07802 426594; email; or log on to

Stanbridge Road, Haddenham, Bucks, HP17 8HN Tel: 01844 290395

Mother’s Day Sunday 18th March

Easter Cards & Gifts Easter Sunday 8th April

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Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012



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Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

‘It’s the plants that give your garden the ‘wow’ factor,’ says garden expert Bob Mattei, but which ones are best for your garden?! Perhaps it’s time to talk to the Personal Plant Shopper...


he Personal Plant Shopper is a brilliant service for local home owners run by Bob and Nikki Mattei from Meadle near Thame. We all love a beautiful garden but if you are not an expert how do you know which plants will flourish and how the colours and sizes will work together? Bob trained and qualified in Amenity Horticulture at Dublin’s National Botanic Gardens (Ireland’s equivalent of Kew Gardens) and over the past 30 years has gained experience planting gardens in all styles and sizes from town courtyards to large country gardens and estates in Ireland, New England USA and the UK. He first came to the area to work for Chenies Landscapes in Amersham: “We did some really big design and build projects,” says Bob. “It was excellent training.” He started his own business, Greenstone Landscapes in 1989, designing, constructing and planting innovative gardens and in 2005, launched The Personal Plant Shopper to focus more on plants and meet an increasing demand for horticultural knowledge and flair. “I wanted to get back to my horticultural roots,” says Bob. “I enjoyed the construction parts of garden design, the landscaping and water features but my real love is plants.” “It’s enjoyable to go to a garden centre and pick out a few plants, but to be successful with your purchases you need to know if the plants will suit the conditions back home and how they will work within their surroundings.

How high will they grow, will they bush out, how much space do they need? There is an art to choosing plants and it does take years to develop the skill.” “Buying plants on the internet is a bit of a gamble,” says Nikki. “The size of a plant will usually be a lot smaller than we would supply for the same price.” Bob sources his plants from a network of specialist nurseries and insists on handpicking the best. His work ranges from complete redesigns for existing gardens and for brand new homes, to border makeovers, help with problem areas or just sourcing individual plants and trees. “The nurseries are huge,” says Bob, “and the variety of plants enormous, a much wider choice than you’ll normally see. The quality of the plants is excellent too and mainly British grown. “A lot of our clients have beautiful plants in their gardens already and we will work with them to improve the whole garden, introducing new plants that will blend in and moving a plant that isn’t doing well. “When a new customer calls we arrange a free garden consultation to discuss all aspects of the garden with them and find out what they have in mind. Following a full assessment of all the plants and conditions in the garden, we’ll put together a planting proposal and a written quotation. “The plants are delivered fresh from the nursery and laid out for the client’s approval.

Bob Mattei We offer a full planting service, which most of our clients take up, as well as an aftercare service if required.” Bob will use his expertise to choose plants which will flourish in your garden and achieve the impact you are looking for. You may have a theme in mind, or a particular style to suit the age and character of your home. A country cottage garden he planted was one of the winners of Amersham in Bloom last year. Bob is currently supplying plants to the White Hart Studio in Haddenham (page 12) and The Personal Plant Shopper will have a stand at the Chiltern Food Festival in April with Bob demonstrating how to combine fruit and veg in a potager (see page 35). Find out how The Personal Plant Shopper can help you at: www.personal-plant-shopper. l The Personal Plant Shopper Telephone: 01844 342470 Mobile: 07976 507626 Email: Website:

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012


Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

When Vale Life first reported on Haddenham’s White Hart Studio, we were impressed by owner Jane Davies’s boundless energy and enthusiasm. Two years on Jane is as passionate as ever about her popular boutique, which now boasts an airy garden room and courtyard full of plants and items for the garden, conservatory and those who enjoy outdoor living...


he garden room has been open a year now and has really developed on its own,” says Jane. “It’s been a great success. I started with garden furniture and accessories, and it seemed natural to add pots and planters and then useful items for gardeners like the barrier cream, muscle rub and hand wax, which sold out last year, as well as gifts like the gardening mugs, labelling kits, twine reels and so on. “There’s fun bits for children and grown up items for adults like garden clocks and mirrors, benches, vases and urns. We have some fabulous new garden cushions from Biggie Best and some very stylish garden furniture by Ascalon due in too.


Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Sting in the Tail

Jane Davies “We’ve now introduced plants as well. We’re not trying to be a garden centre but are stocking a small range to team up with our pots and planters. “We are supplied by a great local firm The Personal Plant Shopper (see page 11) who selects the best quality plants from a range of specialist nurseries and delivers them to us for display. The owner Bob is a real expert and will be giving a free talk here on: ‘How to choose the best plants for your pots’ at 12noon on Sunday, April 1st, all are welcome. “We’re stocking seasonal gift plants, like the dwarf daffodil Tete-a-Tete, primulas and bellis daisies and also shrubs and patio plants, even some bamboo, which looks lovely in a big pot and makes a useful screen, if you have something to hide! As the weather gets better we’ll add more. It’s quite intimate here, you can see the plants in a small garden setting which is nice.” While Jane has been busy in her garden room she hasn’t neglected the main shop and has been hard at work sourcing fabulous new gift and homeware items, cards, jewellery and clothes, as regulars have come to expect. “The new Bohemia range is lovely,” says

Jane, “I think it will fly out, and we’ve got some new clothing from Love, which we haven’t had for about a year. It’s casual and fun, quite modern and great value: jumpers with hearts on them, pretty little dresses, maxi skirts... the Bohemia range is quite a mixture from dresses for day wear to dresses you could wear to a wedding.” With so much going on Jane has decided to keep everyone updated via her new Facebook page ( Studio). “The White Hart Studio website is a bit static,” she says, “but on Facebook I can give regular updates on what is new and post pictures too, so become a friend of White Hart Studio and you’ll be among the first to know! “This last year there’s been quite a lot of work in progress but I’m really happy the way everything has turned out, especially now Spring is in the air and the sun is shining on our new plants and patio furniture!” l White Hart Studio, 15 Churchway, Haddenham, HP17 8AB Tel: 01844 292308 Open Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun: 11am-4pm Website:

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012







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l Column: Helen Peacocke - Paws under the table Retired Oxford Times features writer Helen and her faithful Border Collie Pythius explore walks and dog friendly pubs in Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds

Helen Peacocke

Paws under the Table


The Leathern Bottle Three-mile circular walk


he attractive little village of Lewknor lies at the foot of the Chiltern Hills on the Oxfordshire Plan and l Dog Friendly pubs and walks is reached by travelling the B4009 in Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds between Thame and Watlington or by taking Junction 6 from the M40. building – the summer months can The 450 year old Leathern be spent in the garden watching Bottle Inn, which is both family red kites soar above your head. and dog-friendly is an ideal place Your walk through the Chiltern to begin or end a walk through the Hills and Aston Rowant Nature Chilterns, but as it closes during Reserve can begin by taking Hill the afternoon its worth which stands ‘the flames of pub’sRoad, keeping an eye on the directly opposite the roaring fires add time or you may miss pub and leads you to out on a pint of Brake- their own magic’ some steep steps that spear’s real ale and a wind their way to the jolly good home cooked meal. B4009. Cross this road with care During the winter months you and bear right for just a few yards can enjoy the dancing flames of the until you see a small road leading pub’s roaring log fires adding their towards open country. Take this own touch of magic to this ancient road and begin enjoying the breath

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

taking views spread out before you. Cowleaze Wood where you will After walking for about five min- discover bluebells in abundance utes (perhaps six) you will come to during the spring. If you feel energetic you can the point where the ancient Ridgeadd a mile or two to your walk by way crosses this path. It is well exploring this enchanting wood sign posted so you can’t miss it and before continuing a little way a mounted map of the area allows you to plot your route, giving you down the road and taking the next waysign on the left. This will lead two choices. You can turn left and you along a path running parallel walk under a bridge carrying the motorway traffic, or turn right as to the road, then down, down, down towards the Ridgeway Path. The we did and walk the rutted way, as our ancestors have done for cenviews at this point are so spectacular seats are strategically placed turies. After a few hundred yards along the way you will come to a wooden so that you The Leathern Bottle can enjoy the kissing gate on the left, with scene. Wooden acorn signs a way marker designed to pointing diagoinform children nally across a of the vegetameadow totion they are wards a copse passing add a and the Aston special touch. Rowant Nature By following Reserve. White this path you will eventually arrive hand painted arrows on trees and at the spot where you originally fences now direct you forward – turned into the Ridgeway. follow them and you really can’t go wrong. The arrows will lead you l Read about Helen’s latest walks towards the left and the bottom of at http://pawsunderthetable. a steep hill and a tree lined path that takes you to the road abutting

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Job vacancies! Hard landscaper wanted, also labourers with skills: bricklaying, paving, plumbing, carpentry etc - contact Rodney on: 07732 329118 Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012


l Column: Hero Brown

The urban guide

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

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

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pentathlon, I grant you, but it’s a start, and let me tell you, these walks are beautiful. The 2.5 mile circular walk going from Hughendon Manor down to Downley Common has been a real pleasure ( - Walk 13). The bluebell woods at Cowleaze and Bottom Wood near Stokenchurch are just coming into their own now and Wendover Woods holds as much allure as ever. There’s nothing like a large muddy dog slathering at your heels to provide a final Olympic burst of pace. Alas, now that I am the embodiment of health, the soupçon of inner serenity, I must try to ignore this month’s frankly stunning *sigh* Muddy Stilettos giveaway - a beautiful ceramic cake stand from the award-winning Aston Pottery (btw, free entry into the comp when you subscribe, fact fans) covered in - what else? gorgeous fairy cakes. Please, put me out of my misery and win it!

Be au


re you looking at your waistline wondering why, why, WHY didn’t I didn’t stick to my New Year’s diet? Join the club. I had visions of emerging from my shapeless chunkyknit chrysalis into some foxy bodycon by this point. Regrettably the cheese counter held me to ransom all through February and my buttocks have been stuck to the settee ever since, suffering post-traumatic stress disorder. And now it’s Spring. How can that be? I was only opening my Christmas presents last week. It is surely only days before Birkenstocks need to get dusted off (the pedicure, quick, the pedicure!), two months until the arms make their first tremulous appearance, and three months until my bikini elastic is, yet again, stretched to breaking point. Well I say ‘no more’! I’ve cancelled the gym and taken up walking. It’s not quite the

To book call Anna Lipman on 07722 425314

Read more posts from Hero & subscribe for free at w Wall art w Clocks w Candles w Lamps w Mirrors w Vases w w Ornaments w Homeware w Prints w Fireplace sets w Signs w w Furniture w Kitchen & Dining w Gifts w Cards w Mats w Ginger Interiors, 8 Duck Farm Court, Station Way, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP20 2SQ Tel: 01296 415035 Email:

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Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

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Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Business is booming at Eclipse Hair Design. The salon moved premises just over a year ago and ‘things have really taken off since’ says salon director Vicki. No wonder she can’t stop smiling...


he girls of Eclipse Hair Design, Thame seem to be smiling particularly brightly at the moment and with good reason. The salon has recently celebrated a first anniversary at its new premises on North Street. “It’s been brilliant,” says salon director Vicki. “We absolutely love being here. It’s a much better position, it’s bigger, everything is shiny and new, it’s more comfortable for our clients and business has just grown and grown. It’s been an amazing success.” With more space now the salon is not only more comfortable for customers but has been able to accommodate new staff too, the latest additions to the team being new stylist Jade and new receptionist Lauren, (not in picture). Heidi, one of Eclipse’s principle designers, is back from maternity leave now, having had a second son and will be working Wednesdays and Thursdays. “Things are constantly evolving,” says Vicki. “Kelly has graduated, which is fantastic, we’re really proud of her, she’s done incredibly well. She’s worked very hard and showed amazing commitment, she’s come in on all her days off to practise on models and for training evenings, to improve her skills. She’s been with us four years and worked her way up from trainee to stylist. “We have a special promotion of 25% off colour on Wednesdays, with Heidi, Kelly and Jade, until the end of April.” The salon has also launched a new website: with lots of pictures and information, hair tips and items of interest. There are individual profiles for all the staff and details of the days they work, what they do and so on.


Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

From left: Connie, Mandy, Chloe, Bev, Vicki, Bev, Ashleigh, Sam, Kelly. Front: Danni, Jade & Emma

“Our new Blow Dry bar is a great idea,” says Vicki. “Anyone can now come in, without an appointment and have a wash and blow dry on the spot for only £10 with Kelly and just £15 with any other stylist. It’s ideal if you are having a bad hair day - you can pop in and we’ll sort it out in your lunch hour (subject to availability). It’s also handy for clients who have booked colour and then decide they’d like a blow dry afterwards.” Eclipse now stocks the Philip Kingsley (PK) range and is offering the fabulous PK conditioning Spa Treatment and a blowdry, usually priced at £50 (£100 in London), for just £35 during March and April. It includes: scalp mask, elasticizer, steam treatment, massage and finish, with PK shampoo, conditioner and scalp tonic selected to suit your personal needs. “We also now offer a student rate for 14 to 20 year olds,” says Vicki. “It’s available from Monday to Wednesday, with a cut and finish only £20, when you show your ID. “Through March we are holding a charity raffle for Sports Relief with great prizes including a year’s worth of shampoo and conditioner! It’s only £1 a ticket and anyone is

welcome to pop in and buy some, just ask at reception, or see our website for full details.” Owner Louise Dockery is very keen on education and Eclipse continues to develop its training structure: “We now have three assessors: Sam, Louise and Ashleigh,” says Vicki. “We are working towards training two nights a week. All the girls do extra training after work to learn the latest cuts and keep up with new colouring techniques and we like to ensure our trainee stylists get the best start possible. The girls have a lot on but seem to relish the challenge. The wedding season is in full swing and the salon has four stylists who specialise in wedding hair, on location if required. Knowing the Eclipse team, it is not just the move to North Street which is giving them success, there is a lot of hard work going on too, but if the words location, location come up you may just see them smile! For regular updates, news items and offers see the Eclipse Hair Design website. l Eclipse Hair Design, 56 North Street, Thame, Oxfordshire, OX9 3BH Tel: 01844 260062 Email: Website:

What, this old thing darling! Visit us at The Gallery Stoneworld 43a Upper High Street, Thame OX9 2DW Mon-Fri 9-5 Sat 10-4

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ack by popular demand ‘What, this old thing darling!’ is being held from 2pm to 5pm on Saturday 21st March at The Neighbours Hall (next to Le Manoir) in Great Milton The sale is organised by Georgia Turner and Sue Wallis from Great Milton and gives fashion fans the chance to recycle high quality clothes, accessories and home furnishings. The sale works in a similar way to high street dress agencies, but instead of a 50% return the individual receives 70% back on every item sold on their behalf at the sale. “We wanted to run another fun event allowing us to sell quality clothes and home furnishings on behalf of individuals,” says Sue. “Last time, we had over 1,500 items in the sale from a Jimmy Choo


handbag at £30, to good as new clothing from high street names like Whistles, Karen Millen, Zara, Jigsaw, from as little as £4. There will be also be a home furnishing section with soft furnishings, lighting, picture frames, furniture, linens and more.” On the day, ladies can enjoy a cuppa, delicious cakes, a manicure plus advice on styling and colour and enjoy guilt-free shopping with plenty of bargains. There will be donations on the door to raise money for Breast Cancer. For more information or to find out how to sell your high quality items visit the blog at: or email whatthisoldthingdarling@ or call Sue Wallis on 0774 8653336. Now on Twitter too @thisoldthing


Pinefinders Old Pine Furniture Warehouse Tel: 01844 291231

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

Pinefinders Old Pine Furniture Warehouse is situated between Oxford and Aylesbury in the small village of Haddenham, just outside the market town of Thame. Probably the largest old pine shop in the region, we sell beautifully restored genuine antique pine furniture, which we import from all over Europe. All of our furniture can be seen in our warehouse and on our website. We are committed to keeping our website up to date, our prices as low as possible, and can deliver anywhere in the UK. We are open Fridays 10am - 4pm, Saturdays 10am - 5pm, and any other time by appointment.

Pinefinders Old Pine Furniture Warehouse, Unit 7 Alexander House, Thame Rd Industrial Est, Haddenham, Aylesbury, Bucks HP17 8BZ Tel: 01844 291231 Website: Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012


Return of Sunday markets

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rinces Risborough Sunday Markets will be opening up again in the town centre from Sunday 15th April! The new monthly Sunday market was launched in Princes Risborough last year when a variety of products ranging from locally made jams and chutneys, olive oil, cupcakes, plants, apple juice, fruit and vegetables, quilts and cushions, cards and much more were available. The markets were well received and now Princes Risborough Market Group is delighted to announce that they will return again this year on the following dates: April 15th, May 20th, June 17th ,

July 15th, August 19th, September 16th, October 21st and November 18th The markets will take place in Princes Risborough High Street from 10am - 2pm. New stallholder enquiries are welcome and if you are interested in booking a stall or would like further information about the market, please contact: Public car parks in the town are free on Sundays. The markets are organised by a small team of volunteers but need everyone’s support if they are to keep going - use them or lose them!

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Minor Surgery Service CV HEALTH CV Health (a collaborative venture between Vale Health Limited and Chiltern MINOR SURGERY SERVICE Health Limited) is delighted to announce a new self-funding minor surgery service available at clinics in Aylesbury and High Wycombe.

The following examples of lesions are appropriate for removal by GPs with specialist training working for CV Health: Seborrheic keratoses l Solar keratoses l Cysts or lipomata (lumps and bumps on the body) l Benign naevi (such as moles and birth marks) l Cutaneous horn (hard dry out-growths of skin) l Nail wedges l Nail excisions l Skin tags l

The price for our service is £220 which includes: Pre-surgery counselling and advice l Removal of up to two lesions Telephone: 01494l 555204/5 Histology analysis of up to two samples l After-care advice l Follow up appointment to remove any stitches, if required Our physicians can also give advice on a self-treatment plan for warts for a charge of only £50. l

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Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

The girls at Body & Soul love a good party and so their Bedgrove salon’s first birthday will not pass without bubbly, cake and some great offers...


year ago we reported on Aylesbury’s popular beauty and tanning salon Body and Soul, which had moved from Fairford Leys to stylish new premises in Bedgrove. Salon owner Laura Gilbey can’t quite understand where the last 12 months have gone - it’s been a busy time for her and the salon, which is on Westmorland Avenue, not far from Bedgrove shops and is doing so well that Laura has taken on another beauty therapist to keep up with demand. “We’ve made a few changes,” says Laura. “Our power step has gone to make room for a second manicure table. The Shellac manicure which was new in last year, has taken off a storm and we needed another nail bar to keep up, especially as we’re introducing OPI nail products in the next few months to complement

our Minx and CND ranges. “Katie, our new therapist, started in November. She is Champneys trained like Emily and is really good, she does a wide range of treatments. “There’s six of us now, three receptionists and three therapists. It was just me and Emily at the start and we weren’t busy all the time, now we’ve got two therapists in most days and the Summer should be even busier as demand for waxing, sunbeds and nails increases - we have two vertical Ergoline tanning booths which are very popular. “When we first arrived here we did a lot of leafleting and new clients came in and then recommended us to their friends and family, so we are quite well established now. It’s built up really quickly and we are still being discovered by Fairford Leys customers who wondered where we’d gone and have only recently found out!

Body & Soul It’s our First Birthday! Come and celebrate with us on 31st March 2012 There’s birthday cake and bubbly for all our customers PLUS 15% OFF all treatments and courses* And as an extra birthday surprise we will be introducing three exciting new treatments...

• Miracle Eye Treatment • Ultimate Back Facial • Foot and Hand Treatment Each week in April we will be offering one of the treatments for 1/3 rd off!

We look forward to seeing you then! *Must be booked and paid for on the day.

59 Westmorland Avenue Aylesbury HP21 7HS 01296 434216

© Rodgerson

Come along on the 31st to find out more about each one and to book your appointment.

From left: June (reception) Laura, Emily and Katie “We do a lot of waxing - clients often come in monthly for that which is nice as you get to know them a bit more. “Massage is popular and our Elemis treatments are impressing those who try them. We sell a lot of Elemis products, they are really good. It’s not the cheapest range but I think it outshines Clarins and other other skin care ranges - the results are very, very good. Once people have tried it they stay with it. “We do pedicures, manicures and facials, we also have a diamond tip microdermabrasion machine, the DermaCo Pro System, the latest in facial technology, which combines non-surgical face lift and microdermabrasion as well as four more treatments in one machine. “There’s a full list of our treatments with descriptions on our website at: www.bodyandsoul “We’re celebrating our first year at Bedgrove in April with a Big Birthday Month! We’re introducing three new treatments: The Miracle Eye treatment, The Ultimate Back Facial - a back facial with a cleanse and exfoliate - and The Foot and Hand massage treatment and each week in April one of these treatments will be at a reduced price as a trial offer. “The 31st March is our big party day when all our customers are invited to come in for birthday cake and bubbly, which, will be available throughout the day. There will also be the chance to get 15% off any treatments and courses booked on the day. You can come along and

find out more about the new treatments and when they are on offer and then book up if you like. “So far this year has gone really well. We had a great start with a brilliant January sale and it was nice to see people taking the opportunity to try treatments new to them. “I’ve been surprised by the number of men having waxing and using the sunbeds. Guys are getting increasingly body conscious and are taking a lot more care of themselves than they used to. “Our beauty products, make great presents and we have gift vouchers for treatments and products and beautiful Elemis gift bags, which come with fabulous selections of products at special offer prices. “We now send out a monthly email newsletter and we’re on Facebook, so get in touch if you’d like us to keep you up to date with what’s going on through year two!. l Body & Soul, 59 Westmorland Avenue, Aylesbury, Bucks. HP21 7HS Tel: 01296 434216 Website: Email: Reception@BodyandSoul

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012


Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

In their first year at Walther’s Ash near Princes Risborough Lynn and Mandy have done a fair bit of barbering but they’ve still found time for rubber ducks, pyjamas, wing walking, kite boarding, moustaches and a visit from Santa...


hear Madness was officially opened a year ago on March 12th by ‘The Blues Brothers’. The dynamic barbering duo of Lynn and Mandy booked their favourite local tribute band to do the honours and woke sleepy Walther’s Ash with the soulful strains of Soul Man and Sweet Home Chicago - there has been little rest since! Not content with running their popular barbershop the girls have been out and about taking their Shear Madness into the community: “We’ve had a really fun first year,” says Lynn. “In June we set up a stall at Naphill village fete. We did coloured hair spraying and hair pieces, it was our first fete and we really enjoyed it but it was a bit tricky as the shop was open at the same time!” Anyone who goes to the barbershop or follows Shear Madness on facebook will have noticed a distinct rubber duck presence: “The ducks arrived during the summer,” says Lynn. “We sponsored a duck for a local charity event but the stream had dried up and they used ping pong balls and watering cans instead. Feeling slightly cheated, we kidnapped a rubber duck and put it above a mirror in the shop. Customers have taken Trevor the Duck on holiday with them and then brought him back with new friends. We have around 46 now and they have very exciting lives. Some have been to TV shows, one is out in South The new duck store 22

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Mandy rocks!!!

Grand opening with Blues Brothers Africa, others have been scuba diving, kite surfing, wing walking (one of Lynne’s new hobbies) and to the Brit awards. “At Christmas many went home with customers to celebrate. We even got Suggs from Madness and Timmy Mallet involved. We’ve had to buy extra shelves and even a phone box to keep them in. “In November we held a firework picture competition for the younger children at Naphill/Walter’s Ash School. The winner received a gift and a trophy donated by the Woodhall Trophy Shop next door. “We held a pyjama day for children in need and with only a day’s notice managed to get all the staff from our neighbouring shops: The Co-op, Manor Garage, Leigh Lewis opticians, Woodhall Trophy Shop to join us dressing up in night wear for the day and managed to raise £180. “Many locals grew ‘M’ovember ‘taches for charity which we then shaved for them in The Wheel pub at the end of the month and we had a visit from Santa who set up a grotto in our shop during December. “So far this year we have entered a Shear

Lynn and Mandy in action Madness team into the SWATK Conner endurance race at Brean sands, which involves travelling as many miles as you can in three hours on a kite board or kite buggy and we have managed to lose a pancake race to Manor Garage on account of Mandy’s cheating!! “We’ve had a fun first year and would like to thank all our customers old and new for supporting us in our new venture. l Shear Madness, 245 Main Road, Walter’s Ash, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, HP14 4TH Tel: 07742 361711 Email Website: Hours of opening: Mon-Fri 9.30am-5pm & Sat 7.30am-4pm Closed on Thursdays and Sundays


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Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

We have our eyes and teeth checked regularly, so why not our hearing? It’s just as important and there are several conditions for which an early diagnosis can be crucial to prevent permanent hearing loss. Vale Life learns to listen at Aston Hearing...


ust off Woodway, the road to Lacey Green, near Princes Risborough, two local firms have joined forces to offer a range of services under one roof. Aston Hearing Services has opened a new consulting room above Independent Living Consultants’ (ILC) Bucks Mobility Centre. The two are linked internally by a flight of stairs complete with Stenna stairlift - ILC specialises in such items, (see page XX). Aston Hearing was established in 1989 by Susan Webster. An experienced audiologist Duncan and Kate Collet-Fenson with a Sue trained at London’s Royal Throat, Nose soundproof booth used for hearing tests and Ear Hospital, worked at and later ran Wycombe General Hospital Audiology old Weller Brewery. There are three consultDepartment and worked for the Audiology ing rooms, two on the ground floor with Department of St Mary’s Hospital, wheelchair access and a third on the first floor Paddington. offering a dedicated paediatric testing area. Sue felt a professional alternative to the “We discovered there was space available NHS was needed and set up in practice at at the Mobility Centre,” says Kate, “and Aston House in West Wycombe. Her specialthought our two businesses would compleist expertise and high ethical standards soon ment each other. It is also closer for the cliproved popular, attracting patients from a ents who used to visit us in Loosley Row and wide area. at our high street shop in Great Missenden.” In 1991 Sue took on Christine Headworth Aston Hearing has seven staff now. Sue in an administrative role. She trained as an officially retired from the business in 2008, audiologist and has continued to work but is still very involved and her many ‘In Nepal at Aston for the last 18 years, becomyears of audiological experience are ing an experienced hearing aid audi- Duncan tested an invaluable resource. Christina is ologist. Sue also built new consulting now Senior Hearing Aid Audiolo1,800 people in gist rooms at her home in Loosley Row. and Karen Williams has been three weeks!’ working in a supporting role whilst Sue has since been joined by her daughter Kate and Kate’s husband Duncan. undertaking a foundation degree in Hearing The couple are both qualified audiologists Aid Audiology (a two year course). She aims and now fill the roles of practice manager and to qualify in a few weeks and will alternate managing director, respectively, in addition to between Amersham and the new centre near their hands-on work with patients. Princes Risborough. In 2004 Aston Hearing consolidated “We are very much involved with hearing operations at premises in Old Amersham. aids,” says Kate, “but are work is quite varied, The building, in a pretty cobbled courtyard from testing the hearing of toddlers and off Church Street, was originally three cotchildren to working with tinnitus sufferers and tages and a coach house built to serve the doing practical things like earwax removal.” 24

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Kate and Duncan keep up to date with developments in hearing care and have just come back from Las Vegas where they had been invited to attend the Starkey Hearing Technologies’ Hearing Innovation Expo 2012. “There were some amazing speakers,” says Kate, “very motivational. Bill Clinton and Richard Branson were keynote speakers and focused on putting back into the community on a global level, which is something we’ve always been keen to do. We collect old hearing aids to be re-used in poorer countries and Duncan spent three weeks in Nepal, working alongside an ENT consultant. He tested the hearing of some 1,800 people. “There are many serious ear problems in Nepal because they don’t have access to antibiotics and infections develop into more serious conditions - things we usually only see here in textbooks. “Sue spent three weeks in Windhoek, Namibia. A clinic there had equipment donated but needed showing how to use it. Sue helped set it all up and taught the locals what to do. “The treatment of hearing problems is constantly developing. It is not just the technology but understanding that how the brain interprets information from the ear and

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Duncan uses an otoscope to show patient Gladys Howe what the inside of her ear looks like

l Gladys Howe, left, first saw Sue Webster in 1999: “I have been very impressed by Aston Hearing,” she says. “They bend over backwards to help you. I’ve been very happy with the hearing aids I’ve been prescribed and so many people I know, who go elsewhere, just aren’t. “They keep up with the latest developments. I’ve been to open days exploring techniques for listening and other activities like pilates that can help. I’m doing a LACE course (Listening and Communication Enhancement) at the moment which is helping improve my hearing by retraining the way I listen.”

Duncan uses a tympanometer to check his son Charlie’s ear handles sound, effects the way you hear. “It is possible to work with people to improve the way they process incoming sounds and to help them to listen more effectively - to improve the cognitive part of listening. So we not only ensure a good clear sound is received but we coach people to interpret that information well and thus to actually hear better. It’s not just a technical solution now. “Some people experience a sudden onset of tinnitus or a hearing loss, which can be due to a variety of reasons, some minor, some more serious. There is a viral infection of the inner ear which, if diagnosed immediately, is treatable within 24 hours, but after that time it may be too late! “If anyone has hearing or ear concerns they are welcome to give us a call. You can come in and have a hearing check. If there’s nothing wrong you’ll have your hearing data on record to compare future information against and see if anything has changed. “We do a free consultation for people interested in hearing aids, or for a more in depth screening it’s just £25. Children range from £25 to £50 depending on what is involved and the kind of reports required. “We work closely with GPs and ENT

departments and can refer medical issues to the relevant place and supply our audiological reports, which speeds the process along.” “Hearing is a big part of our lives but most people have no idea how their ears work,” says Duncan. “If you are losing your hearing and it’s impacting on your life, it may be easily helped, so don’t be afraid to come and get some advice. “Surfers ear is an increasingly common condition among surfers and swimmers. It happens if someone has been exposed to cold water regularly. They may get bony growths in their ear canals which can be prevented by wearing earplugs while swimming. “People who ride motorbikes, or are playing MP3 players loudly on a regular basis can damage their hearing quite quickly. It’s difficult for people to know what a safe level is but we can measure it and show you. We often go out to fetes and fairs in the summer and do demonstrations to show what is safe. “Hearing aid technology has really come on over the last ten years. The move from analogue to digital technology has meant that hearing aids are like mini computers now and not only amplify sound but are programmed to sample and adjust the frequencies of the

incoming sound to suit your individual hearing. Hearing aids are also individually custom made to fit your ear comfortably. “We can assess your requirements and order the hearing aid, not just to help you hear better but to suit your cosmetic requirements and being an independent company, we can order the best one for you from any manufacturer, we are not tied to one supplier. “When the hearing aid arrives it will be linked to our computer and all the audiological data logged. We’ll fit and calibrate the hearing aid to your requirements and then adjust as required over a period of weeks, as it may take time to become used to hearing sounds you haven’t been able to for a while.” As you might expect Aston hearing has some interesting technology to help with their work: “The tympanometer measures how well the ear drum is performing,” says Duncan. “and if there’s any obstruction behind it like fluid or negative air pressure. Glue ear is the most common middle ear problem, especially with children. It’s important to pick it up because at certain ages it can effect how speech and language develops. “Generally youngsters are brought in because someone has noticed a problem but it would be better if everyone had regular hearing checks, as with sight and teeth, so any issue could be spotted earlier. “Sometimes it will be something quite simple, perhaps a foreign body stuck in the ear, or a wax build up, but it would be hard to tell without the use of an otoscope as children’s earholes can be very small. “If there is a middle ear problem we can do a free field test - different types of sound are projected from different parts of the room to determine how good the hearing is, which frequencies are causing problems and which ear is worse.” “We often get referrals from GPs,” says Kate. “They don’t have this kind of specialist equipment and NHS referrals can take some time to organise. See the Aston Hearing Services website for more information, or call them on: 01494 733840. l Aston Hearing Services, Woodway Princes Risborough, Bucks, HP27 0NN Tel: 01494 733840 Email: Website: Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012


Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Two companies have joined forces just outside Risborough to offer a one-stop shop for hearing and mobility needs... “



e’ve been here 16 months now,” says Maureen, owner of The Bucks Mobility Centre, the Risborough based family business committed to making life easier for those experiencing difficulties with mobility or personal care. “Word is spreading and more people are finding us every week. It’s a very handy spot here at Woodway. We’re just out of the town on the road to Lacey Green and I think people like the fact you can park right outside and there is so much under one roof for them to see and try. “We stock everything from simple jar openers to complete bathrooms. The stairlift doubles up as transport for people going up to Aston Hearing Services (see previous pages) on the first floor, so there is even more for people to access here now. “We are both independent family businesses, concentrating on offering a personal service with good aftercare. We work in close co-operation and Aston Hearing customers with mobility problems are welcome to use our stairlift to access their first floor consulting rooms. “It’s nice that they are here, there’s more people about, it creates more of a buzz. A lot of our customers overlap and we can be a one-stop shop for their mobility, independent living and hearing products now. “People come here for a variety of reasons, we’re not just retail, we offer a hire service, if items are required for a limited period, say while recuperating after a hip operation and we service items, such as reclining chairs and mobility scooters. “Every item that goes out of the shop is the consequence of an assessment to ensure we are supplying the product that meets the need of the individual. We can do assessments in a customer’s home if they can’t get here to see us. We also assist people with benefits information and applications and we work quite closely with several charities: Bucks Carers, The RAF Association and The Risborough Memorial Trust and we help with fundraising for those who can’t meet

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

David and Maureen

Karen, Kate and Duncan from Aston Hearing Services with Maureen, David and Christine from The Bucks Mobility Centre Christine’s on the the costs of vital equipment. stairlift again! “We work with Bucks County Council, as partners in equipment - they refer clients to our staff here who are trained to do an assessment on their behalf - and we also work with Total Training, a company based in Chesham, which trains carers. “Our customers are right across the age spectrum, the youngest is eight at the moment, and includes people who have suffered traumatic accidents, people with chronic congenital problems and those with mobility issues that have developed with ageing. “We stock items for personal care, therapy and mobility and we supply wheelchair adapted vehicles too. We can offer interest only finance packages and longer term hire for some items if required. “Our experienced and understanding staff are here to provide discreet and confidential advice, and our fully qualified professional socustomers may benefit from the additional cial worker/care management consultant will services now available at Woodway.” find the solution that best suits your needs. l Independent Living Consultants - Princes We are able to deliver many of our products Risborough Branch, Woodway, Princes on a regular arranged basis, to ensure you Risborough, Bucks, HP27 0NN never run out of what you need. Tel: 01844 273 050 “We welcome Aston Hearing to our Email: community here and are pleased that our Website:

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Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Doors and windows are getting ever more complicated. They still open and close to offer access and fresh air but can now also be stylish, low maintenance, secure and energy efficient. If you are thinking of raising your energy rating perhaps it’s time to knock up the experts...


ndy Lucas was brought up in Weston-Super Mare. When he left school, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, until one day he found himself standing outside a double glazing shop with an advertisement for staff in the window. The idea appealed to him and he applied to join a training course with Anglian Windows. Andy sailed through the course and the company was so impressed they offered him a job at their training centre. “I was only 21,” says Andy, “but they had me training the Anglian salesmen, they said I was a natural!” Andy eventually moved on to work for a glazing company in Reading and then to another in Thame. About four years ago he decided to launch his own company and Omega Homestyle was born. “I thought I could offer a better service, “ says Andy. “I’ve 30 years of experience in the industry and I know the kind of service I’d appreciate myself. “At Omega we cover the whole spectrum of double glazing with a comprehensive range of products from windows to doors, conservatories, fascias, garage doors, soffits and guttering. We also offer a bespoke carpentry service, so if you have an older home and would like a window made up to exactly replicate the existing ones, it can be done. “We’re a small family firm and we aim to give a personal service. I usually see each of our customers and do their quote personally. Steve Fitzgibbon is office manager and will


Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Andy Lucas

take over if I am away, but I oversee most of our jobs and my wife helps out with admin and marketing.” Andy now lives in Brill and has two youngsters at the village school. Omega is based, not far from his home, at Woodway Farm industrial estate, off the Bicester Road just north of Long Crendon. The company recently opened a new showroom there with a cross section of their products, from solid wood framed, leaded windows to PVC-U stable doors and bi-fold patio units. “We’ve got a window for everyone,” says

Andy, “and we ensure they are the best quality, whatever your budget may be. “If you like a certain door or window but are looking to save money we can generally find a good quality alternative to suit. “Obviously the top of the range models are going to be fabulous but if you are only planning on living in your current home for a couple of years, you may feel a cheaper option would be more than adequate. “All our installations come with a 10 year guarantee. Most will be personally inspected by me and some by FENSA who ensure that

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

replacement windows and doors comply with current thermal performance standards. When we fit your new window or door, as a FENSA member we check it is compliant with current energy standards so you don’t have to go to the trouble of getting a separate assessment done by the local authority.” “People are a lot more interested in energy efficiency and the technical specification of what they are ordering nowadays,” says Steve. “The technology has come on a lot since I started,” says Andy. “The double glazing units are now filled with argon, an inert gas and the spacers are carbon which is a better insulator than the aluminium they used to use. “The gap between the panes is now 20mm, it used to be 6mm. Research has shown that any less and heat radiates across the gap, any more and you start to get convection currents, which again transfer heat or cold from one pane to the other. You can get triple glazing of course, it depend how far you want to go. “The government has just standardised energy ratings,” says Steve. “There’s now a door energy rating (DER) and a window energy rating (WER) index. The scheme is a consumer-friendly method of demonstrating the energy performance of products, which

are rated from ‘A’ (best) to ‘G’ (worst).” “Of course it’s not just about insulation,” says Andy, “We want to make your home look nice as well, so it’s important to choose frames that suit the style of the building, we’ll help you find the right type of window in the right design to suit your home, there’s no one size fits all here.” “We do solid wood frames, PVC-U, aluminium - a wide range. Bi-fold patio doors are very popular at the moment, they concertina back to give you a much bigger opening. “We offer a full range of glazing services, from replacing a broken unit, or broken pane, to coloured glass splashbacks for kitchens and bathrooms, or a complete conservatory extension; from foundations, to walls and glazing. We may also be able to help with broken locks and fittings, “We don’t take deposits, we do the work and you pay when we’ve finished. There’s no outlay until you get what you wanted. “For conservatories we will help you develop your ideas into a plan, have a design drawn up and any relevant planning permissions organised. “We are now supplying Tricept doors and windows which are secured on all four sides by a unique multi-point locking system for added security. The company is so confident that the Saracen lock hardware on their Tricept windows and doors is secure, that they guarantee to pay you £1,000 if you are broken into as a result of the failure of one of their units. They are a very reputable firm and their Rustique range is particularly impressive, they are PVC-U and come in a number of colours, with or without a realistic woodgrain effect and with a range of glazing options, including leaded or stained glass and plain or featured panels. “It’s worth popping in to our showroom to have a look. We’ve got wood frames and PVC-U to compare. Some of the wood effect PVC frames are very hard to tell from the real thing.

“I started up working from home with an assistant who helped me do the on site fitting. We then took on a little showroom across the yard from where we are now. “We’ve had some good contracts for the Ministry of Defense and a fair amount of new build work for developers, so it’s not been all private homes. We’ve done local authority contracts, MOD and school projects - we’re doing some work for Lord Williams’s in Thame at the moment. “I’ve tried to run a tight ship here and reinvest back into the company so we are financially stable. We own our own vans, all our suppliers are paid on time. In four years we’ve gone from nothing to a solid business with seven staff, a new showroom and six vans, things have gone very well. “About three years ago we moved into a bigger unit and now we’ve fitted it out with a showroom. The premises are great, we’ve got all the space we need, plenty of parking, rubbish disposal and recycling facilities and the transport links are good.” Having been in the business for 30 years, fitting, selling and installing, Andy knows the industry inside out. “If you go to a national company you’ll never get the service you do from here,” he says. “I’ll survey, measure up, design and order your job, then make sure it is fitted to your satisfaction. It’s a personal service and it means a better understanding of the customer’s needs and a lot more chance of the job been completed as requested.” For more information on Omega Homestyle and their products and services see the website at: or visit the Long Crendon showroom. l Omega Homestyle, Woodway Farm Industrial Estate Bicester Rd, Long Crendon, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire HP18 9EP Tel: 01844 201888. Email: info@ Website: Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012


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Win a delicious Everything Selection from Hotel Chocolat illustrious names as Mercedes and Apple iPhone. In the chocolate sector Hotel Chocolat finished in first place. Hotel Chocolat has an excellent website with lots of mouthwatering pictures and an efficient online ordering system. For a chance to sample and peruse their collection, pop in to the Oxford store where friendly staff will guide you through the beautifully smooth and tantalising chocolates, from the traditional to the adventurous. If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning one of three ‘Everything Selections’ as pictured above and truly containing something for everyone to love, from melt-in-the-mouth

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Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

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ine food is what we’re famous for,” says owner and chef Trevor Bosch of The Angel Restaurant at Long Crendon. He’s right too, for the 16th century coaching inn has built up quite a reputation for the quality of Trevor’s cuisine and the fact that it is one of those rare places that combines wonderful food, a convivial, relaxing ambience and excellent service. The charming bar and dining areas are brimming with character. Exposed beams, muted colours and an original wattle and daub feature complements simply dressed scrubbed pine tables, while to the rear the bright, airy conservatory is glamorously set with elegant white cloths and sparkling blue glasses. The well-chosen menu features fresh, seasonal flavours and a good choice of vegetarian options. It is a gastronomic treat for the taste buds - from classic British dishes with a modern twist to innovative creations displaying influences from the Pacific Rim. Fresh fish is a feature of the restaurant with specials listed daily on

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the blackboard. Taste, texture and presentation are at the very heart of Trevor’s cooking and he insists on using only the freshest and best local produce. The wine list is also well travelled and carefully selected to complement the food. There is an extensive range of red and white wines, with a good selection by the glass. Beer drinkers will also appreciate the well-kept cask ales, and there’s an impressive selection of single malt whiskies and spirits to choose from. If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning dinner for two with a bottle of house wine, at The Angel, simply email your name, address and telephone number, along with the answer to the following question to: Where is The Angel? Winner to be drawn at random and notified by email by April 30th. l The Angel Restaurant, Bicester Road, Long Crendon, Bucks, HP18 9EE Tel: 01844 208 268 Email: Web:

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Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

l Column: Ruby Moukli

Aylesbury’s own American foodie


ight, now I’m off to see a man about an ostrich.” It struck me, even as the words left my mouth, that it wasn’t something you say every day. Or even hear, for that matter. The ostrich in question, ostrich plural actually, are raised in Great Kimble by Arthur Andrews, primarily for their eggs. He sells them locally as well as in specialist grocers such as Harrod’s and Fortnum & Mason in London. After touring the farm, a friend and I trying to distract Andrews from the fact that our children were gathering ostrich feathers off the ground (these retail at £1 each – luckily he was kind enough to invite the children to keep them), we took an egg into their class at school. My husband drilled a hole into it, the children took turns blowing it out (“GROSS!!!” was the resounding reaction) and then we scrambled it up. The children mostly loved the taste (there were one or two dissenters), so for a group of finicky five year-olds, it was a pretty good result. Interested in having a go? One ostrich egg is equivalent to approximately 24 chicken eggs, so plan this for a gathering or freeze extra portions. As for the empty shell – it can be painted or even carved. We haven’t yet decided what we’ll do with ours – just have to stop the boy from playing football with it!

Scrambled Ostrich Egg (Serves 12) What You Need: 1 ostrich egg (available from PE Mead & Sons Farm Shop, Wilstone) Hand drill Drinking straw with flexible end 125 ml milk Handful of chives, chopped 1 Tbsp salt 1 tsp black pepper What You Do: 1. Holding the egg over a large bowl, carefully drill a hole about 2 cm wide in one end. This will take time as the shells are very hard. 2. Empty by blowing into it with the flexible end of the straw inserted into the hole. This is the bit children can help with (and which will throw everyone into fits of giggles – grown-ups too). 3. Beat the egg with milk, salt and pepper and scramble on low heat in a large greased skillet, stirring constantly. (10-15 minutes) 4. Add chives and serve as you would chicken eggs. A lovely Easter brunch idea is to pile it on toasted English muffins or bagels, with smoked salmon and a hollandaise sauce. Brilliant with Buck’s Fizz!

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

l Column: Matt Brown - One Hungry Gent Friendship born in a dollop of sour dough


Matt Brown

ONE Hungry Gent

have lived in Aylesbury Vale for nearly five years now and since 2008 I have been happy to call a sleepy little village home. If it’s all the same to you, I shan’t say which village just in case you happen to be a crazed, chainsaw-wielding psychopath with a hatred of handsome and prodigiously talented food writers. It’s an unlikely but statistically possible scenario that I’d rather just avoid. l Listen to Matt Brown on Heart Having lived in London for the Breakfast With Matt and Michelle (weekdays 6-9am 102.6FM). best part of the previous twenty Tweet Matt at years my only window on life in a rural community was my regular introduction neighbours and villagSunday night double-bill of Last ers will share childcare, gossip and, Of The Summer Wine and Miss Marple. With some disappointment, most crucially for me, food. Barely a week goes I can report that villages ‘I can report less by without someone contain significantly bringing over a pot of less murder and riding murder and riding chutney or jam that down hills on tea trays down hills on made and for than I had been led to tea trays’ the lastthey’ve couple of years we believe. have steeped and shared as much One aspect of village life that sloe gin as it is possible to make has been a surprise and delight without actually alerting Her though is the amount of sharing Majesty’s Customs and Excise. that goes on. With precious little

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

before dividing the mix into four Most excitingly of all, we recently of all took delivery of a and passing three batches on to their friends etc etc etc (as Yul friendship cake. I don’t know if you’ve seen or Brynner liked to say). The birth of this wonderful, heard of a friendship cake before thoughtful culinary creation was but they really are the most wonderful things. As far as I can work no doubt rooted in the necessity to out the concept is German in origin feed as many people with as little and they are the baking equivalent as possible. That necessity is gone although in such difficult economic of a chain letter (except without the request for money or the threat times it does feel good to feed not of bad luck if you chuck it in the just your family but the goodwill of the community too. bin). Five days ago a friend gave us When I was sitting in my London house listening a small batch of yeasty to the drunks sourdough shouting under my window and and a list of instructions. dreaming of life in a village Each day we have been it is exactly what I had in told to stir the mind. mixture or add By the way, bits and bobs to Fermenting sourdough if you would it such as flour, like to start off milk and sugar. your own friendship cake, there’s a It is growing in size and in recipe on my website (http://onefive days time we will divide the Let me mixture into four, keep one to bake for ourselves and give three away know how it pans out. l Hear Matt’s latest story from to other friends. The Creepy Valley here...http:// Our friends will then begin the two-week process all over again

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012


Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Most of us love icecream despite it being naughty but nice and not awfully good for you. Now though, a local company has launched a frozen yogurt alternative, with fruity toppings, which means you can enjoy a delicious treat that’s actually doing you some good...


rozen yogurt with berries sounds a healthy alternative to the usual treats, snacks and fastfood options. Coolberry Café founder Michele Young should know. She grew up in Poole, Dorset eating icecreams by the seaside, gained a degree at university in London and has since spent many years in the food industry. “I studied languages,” says Michele, “and then worked for Burger King at their European office in Uxbridge. I was with them for 10 years, in marketing and product development, all over Europe and the Middle East. I then joined Greggs the Bakers, so I went from burgers, fries and coke, to sausage rolls, pies and pasties, not the healthiest of diets!” Michele spent two years as marketing director at Greggs, then joined BB’s coffee and muffins as retail director, from 2004 to 2009, when she left to start up her own company. “I’ve worked a lot with franchisees,” says Michele. “I could see they often need a helping hand, so I set up a consultancy business, Foodservice Support, one aim of which was to find new products for companies that would fill a gap in their market. I’d heard frozen yogurt was big in The States, so I went over to New York and Chicago - their climate is closer to ours than say California - to see how it was being marketed.” Michele saw frozen yogurt would make a great addition for many catering outlets. She spent a year creating the Michele Young


Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

stream. She launched her Coolberry Café website in March 2011 and started getting lots of enquiries. She was invited to take a dispenser to a corporate event and realised that mobile units would be great for fetes, fairs and festivals, so she bought a threewheel Piaggio van and had a frozen yogurt machine installed in the back. It arrived last August and you may well have spotted Michele since then. She was creating quite a stir at Thame Food Festival when Vale Life first spied her, frantically filling cups for fascinated foodies desperate to Michele with van at an event sample her yogurt and sprinkles! Coolberry Café recipe, her product is made “We did the Chilli Festival last year especially for her in Italy, and tested a range at Waddesdon,” says Michele, “and the Apple of delicious sauces and toppings: “I wanted and Autumn Fruits Fair, the Thame Food something that would introduce the flavour Festival, and a few smaller events like Speen of frozen yogurt to an audience used to ice Village Fair and the Hearing Dogs Christmas cream,” says Michele. “Children see the reFair. It’s nice to link up with local charities and semblance to a ‘Mr Whippy style’ product and I really enjoy the smaller events as I get more want one, while adults wonder what it will taste of a chance to talk with customers. like - when they try it though, they usually say “It worked so well, I’m now wondering ‘wow, it’s really nice!’ We do lots of different whether to get another van and employ topping options from fresh fruit to crunchy, somebody to run it, or to give other people the healthy ones like granola, or more indulgent opportunity to take on the van idea themselves ones like cake, cookies and Oreos... we’ve got and just supply the products?” sauces as well. It’s great for schools because Michele now has clients all over the country, pupils are getting fruit and yogurt which norshe delivers nationwide and with her mobile mally they might not choose to eat. unit has been pumping yogurt at an increasing “Frozen yogurt has half the calories of nor- variety of indoor and outdoor events, from bar mal dairy ice cream and is only 0.1% fat, quali- mitzvahs to garden fetes. fying as fat free. We use skimmed milk in the “If anyone is organising a local fair, or mix, to keep the nutritional values and it’s got charity event, we’d love to get involved,” says prebiotic cultures which are good for you. The Michele. “Adults are into it as much as the kids, nutritional breakdown is endorsed by schools, we serve all ages. It’s a fun thing for everybody, we’ve got several as customers. There’s sugar young and old, at one event somebody even but the levels are acceptable. bought one for their dog!” “My first customer was Southampton You can follow Michele on Facebook under University. They took a Coolberry Café frozen ‘Coolberry Café Frozen Yogurt’. “I’ve called yogurt dispenser in October 2010 and it has it Coolberry Café because ultimately I’d love proved very popular with their students even to have a café that looked like the gingerbread through the winter months!” house in Hansel and Gretel,” says Michele, Michele runs the business from her home “selling lots of frozen yogurt and treats!” near Princes Risborough. Her yogurt machines l Coolberry Café, c/o Foodservice Support Ltd are designed to be compact and sit easily on PO Box 140, Princes Risborough, Bucks, HP27 the counter in a café or canteen, ideal if you 7AP Tel: 07754 600584 are a small venue looking for a new revenue Website:

Richard ‘The Beer Chef’ Fox

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Young gourmets can conjure up a host of Easter treats, and there’s plenty on the menu for the parents, and grandparents

The Love Food Chilterns Easter Festival of Food & Drink will tempt tastebuds and get kids cooking


s we all know, getting children cooking is a fundamental part of encouraging them to eat healthily. So what better place to start than the Children’s Cookery School at this year’s Love Food Chilterns Easter Festival of Food & Drink? It’s included in the admission price and is open to all ages. The popular attraction will give children the chance to experiment and play while learning how basic ingredients can be combined to create gourmet masterpieces, from bread and scones to jam tarts and cupcakes. Your little ones can even take their creations home and force feed them to their grandparents! This fun approach to cooking

allows children of all ages to feel like a real chef and offers a grassroots approach to instilling the Love Food Hate Waste message. Aprons will be provided and after handwashing, the fun begins, usually with a lot of flour involved. As well as the Children’s Cookery School, there will also be a range of other children’s activities at the festival, including ‘Finger Painting Fun with Chocolate’, organised by local chocolatier Anne Scott from Auberge Du Chocolat, and the Kiddies Cocktail Bar, where children can make their own fun cocktails such as a Green Goblin or Red Kite Delight. Also, don’t forget the Easter Egg Hunt, which is also included in the admission price.

The festival is a great day out for the whole family with other features including cookery demonstrations, food and beer matching and knife-skills workshops with celebrity chef Richard Fox, from BBC1 Look North & The Food Channel’s Market Kitchen. There are also sausage-making and

burger-making workshops with award-winning, master butcher Johnny Pusztai, coffee tasting and brewing demonstrations, how to cook with herbs, wine tasting, local restaurant chef demonstrations, chocolate workshops with Auberge Du Chocolat, local producers, a craft and gift area, children’s craft area, The Bucks Federation of Woman’s Institutes, gourmet onsite eateries and much more... l The Love Food Chilterns Easter Festival of Food & Drink takes place at the Memorial Hall Great Park, Great Missenden, from April 6th-9th (10am-5pm; admission charges apply). For further information, visit, or call 024 765 41055.

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012


It’s hard work making a success of a small country pub these days and The Black Horse at Lacey Green only narrowly escaped the knackers yard a few years back. It is now a thriving traditional local offering value for money and great pub grub, plus a game of crib or doms if you fancy it...


ou wouldn’t normally expect to pop into your local and be offered a Full English at nine in the morning! A publican can’t afford to miss a trick these days though and up in Lacey Green The Black Horse has become a popular stop for those who like to go to work on a bit more than an egg. “We’re here every morning anyway,” says landlady Lynne Comley, “so we thought we’d give it a go and it’s been really popular. We do breakfasts from 9am to 11am every day except Sunday.” Lynne grew up in Wycombe and Bledlow Ridge. She married a lad from Ibstone and has two children and four grandchildren. She lived for many years in Chinnor and worked as a doctor’s receptionist: “We’ve always had pubs in our family,” says Lynne. “My nan used to work in a pub and my uncle had a pub in Beaconsfield. I’ve always done barwork, I’ve worked in Oxford and at the Wheatsheaf in Chinnor and at The White Swan in Aylesbury. “About 16 years ago, I heard The Black Horse was going to be sold and redeveloped for housing. We mounted a save the pub campaign and I ended up running it. It was in a really bad state and needed a lot of work but I’m still here! “The building is over 200 years old. The first landlady was Amy Ginger, above. She named it after her horse, which we have a picture of, as a kind gentleman of 90 brought one in only the other day saying it was his grandmother who started the pub and that he had a photograph of her black horse for me. “I wanted a village local with people playing pub games like doms and crib, a traditional


Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Ian and Lynne

Amy Ginger pub but we couldn’t take enough money to survive like that, so we started doing food.” “Luckily, about 11 years ago, a retired RAF chef, Ian Wilson happened to come in and offer to help out. He’s been brilliant, he’s a great chef and he’s become a partner in the business too. He lives on the premises - it’s worked out really well.” Ian is originally from Rhyl in North Wales and joined the RAF straight from school. “I learnt to chef and did 27 years,” he says. “I travelled around a bit and ended up at Strike Command just up the road in Walther’s Ash. When I first left I was doing a house clearance job and just happened to stop off at the Black Horse. I’d had a year’s break from catering and was ready to start cooking again so I started helping out a part-time and gradually took on more. “We do good wholesome pub grub at The Black Horse, something for everyone’s tastes

hopefully. We have a good vegetarian selection, we do pies casseroles, dishes from the griddle, fresh fish, steaks...” “We are a pub not a restaurant,” says Lynne, “we’ve got a reputation for good pub grub, we’re in the Good Beer Guide again this year and the Good Pub Guide. “Our best seller is liver and bacon and the chicken and bacon salad is very popular too. I like the Cajun chicken myself though, it’s delicious!” The pub has four real ales, Brakspears plusthree rotating guest ales. “We’ve got Doombar coming in,” says Ian, “the Cornish beers seem popular, Tribute and Trelawney but also ales like Bombadier, Spitfire, Youngs. We’ve lagers, cider and a small popular wine selection. We do outside catering and hold small parties, christenings and funerals, at the pub as well.” The Black Horse is a tiny pub, very cosy with low ceilings, beams and horse brasses. It’s got a pleasant little beer garden with a fabulous play area for youngsters and plenty of parking. In many ways it is the traditional pub that Lynne had always intended - they have a darts team, two Aunt Sally teams and two doms and crib teams. Lynne’s five staff are all local and have been with her over 11 years. “We’re a friendly country pub,” says Lynne, “there’s a nice atmosphere here, families are welcome, we do a children’s menu and on Sunday lunchtimes children under six eat free, for adults it’s two courses for £9.50.” The Black Horse certainly gives value for money. Most of their main courses are in the £8-£11 bracket and they do a once monthly meal for over 50s - two courses and a coffee for around a fiver - which they are packed for! They also do local meals on wheels for Bucks County Council. Food is available every lunchtime and every evening except Sunday and Monday nights. It’s not that big though, so best to call ahead and reserve your seats.

l The Black Horse, Main Road, Lacey Green, Bucks, HP27 0QU Tel: 01844 345195 Email: Website:

Sharp-eyed Thame shoppers will have noticed a name change over the town centre butchers in The Buttermarket. What was Clays is now Wrens of Thame, but fear not, it’s still being run by the same friendly, family...


hris Wren grew up in Botley and had a Saturday job working for a master butchers, on Oxford’s Little Clarendon Street. He took an apprenticeship with Dewhurst Butchers, who had shops all over the country and several training centres. He came to Thame to open up a new branch for the firm in 1972, where Superdrug now is and eventually became an Assistant Area Manager. By the 90s the supermarkets were taking their toll on specialist food stores and Dewhurst decided to sell their Thame premises and lay off the staff in 1994. “I was thinking of starting my own butchers,” says Chris, “but Clays approached me to run a new shop in Thame for them. Derek and my son Andrew, who both still work with me, had been at Dewhurst too, so they joined me in the new venture. “We’ve run it like a family business and it’s gone very well for 20 years now. The opportunity came up for us to buy the business from Clays, which we have just done and so our family name ‘Wren’ has gone over the door. It’s the only change at the moment as although we’ve got a few ideas, the business is running very well as it is.” Chris lives in Brill and has four boys and a daughter. Andrew is his eldest son and they’ve worked together for some 24 years. “It’s now a father and son business,” says Chris, “Andrew’s co-owner. He grew up in Brill and went to Wheatley Park School and when he left went straight into the butchery trade with me, so he’s very experienced. My wife Marie and daughter Annette are also involved though, they do a lot of the deliveries as we have quite a big catering trade.

The Wrens team: Chris, Derek, Nigel, Alan and Andrew, “There’s a little more admin to do now,” says Andrew, “I was going to train as an accountant when I left school though, so running the accounts side of the business comes naturally! I enjoy the variety in the job, every day is different here. “We focus on quality and value for our customers and as we are at the counter every day, we hear what people want and can respond quickly to that. “As a local butcher we cater for everyone,” says Chris, “from those who want rump, fillet or sirloin steak to those who want mince, liver or a pack of burgers. You can buy anything from a couple of sausages to 25 8oz. rump steaks individually cut and packed. “We offer a personal service. We have five qualified butchers here on site who can do anything, from boning to cutting and packing and preparing, which supermarkets can’t always offer. If you’d like a leg of lamb boned and diced there on the spot, we’ll do it. “Being a specialist butchers the quality of the meat we provide will be better than from a big chain. We select it ourselves and with 40 years experience we know where to get the best, but we also keep an eye on prices and make sure our customers are getting a good deal. Over the years we’ve managed to find better and more consistent suppliers. In some cases that means going slightly further afield,

our beef comes from Mathers of Scotland but it’s worth it for consistent quality. “We do game: pheasant, venison, partridges and rabbits; the full selection when in season and our venison sausages are very popular. We’ve built an exceptional Christmas trade with our hand selected turkeys, hand fed on all the right things, they really are exceptional. “We also supply more unusual cuts like pig’s cheeks and ox cheeks, which celebrity chefs have brought back in. “In addition to fresh meat we also do a small selection of cheeses which are great value and we have lovely local free range eggs. “A lot of our business is with the local restaurant and catering trade. We supply a lot of the local schools, catering establishments and pubs such as the Bird Cage in Thame, which is a really good steak pub. The steaks are all hand selected and hand cut, we trim every bit of fat off, you’ll definitely have a good steak if you eat there! My own favourite is a lovely bit of aged rump. “We’ve adapted over the years to cater for people’s changing needs and we’ll continue to do that. Our catering trade has really boomed and our pig roasts for parties and weddings are very popular. We’ll see what the future brings!” l Wrens of Thame, 19 Buttermarket, Thame, Oxon, OX9 3EP Tel: 01844 260269 Email:

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012


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

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Penny Harper


or Vale Life columnist Penny Harper, 2012 is set to be a very exciting year. Her first foray into the world of children’s fiction, Lollipop and Grandpa’s Back Garden Safari, inspired by her own childhood, will be published in March. The official launch is happening on the 1st April at The Times Oxford Literary Festival and she’s hoping it’s not all been an elaborate joke! “I’d been working in local radio for more than a decade,” says Penny, “and although I had always enjoyed the challenges that the media environment could bring, I felt it was time to do something else. I quit my full-time post at Mix96 in Aylesbury and took up a part-time job as a librarian at Lord Williams’s School in Thame. I think my parents thought I’d lost my mind. “I’d always wanted to write a series of books based on me and my Grandpa. We had tremendous makebelieve adventures together when I was little, and I was keen to transfer that relationship to paper.” With the picture-book market being notoriously hard to crack, getting published was no mean feat. “I’m under no illusions that a certain amount of luck has played a part,” says Penny. “A colleague at school mentioned that a member of my local drama group - Pat Shepherd Young ‘Lollipop’ with her Grandpa, of Orchard Publishing - was a literary the inspiration behind Lollipop and agent, so I handed her my manuGrandpa’s Back Garden Safari script. The next morning I received Swimming, which is being one of the best emails of my life; published in June, and Lollipop Pat loved it! All we had to do was and Grandpa and convince a publisher to feel Loose Tooth, the same. We had a few ‘I’d always wanted thewhich is comrejections but having to write books based on ing out in worked in media, I September, was used to knockme and my Grandpa. so to speak.” backs. We had tremendous Finding the “When I got the make-believe adventures right illustrator was call that Phoenix another challenge. together’ Yard Books in London Phoenix Yard wanted an wanted to publish the first iconic style and finally decided book, I was blown away. We had on Edinburgh-based illustrator and a meeting shortly afterwards and I print-maker Cate James. “Seeing was signed up to create the Lollipop Cate’s interpretation of the characters and Grandpa series. I’ve spent a lot and the stories was amazing,” says of this year writing the next two Penny. “Everybody has really taken books Lollipop and Grandpa Go


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Small Town


With a hectic schedule of booksignings and story-telling ahead of her, Penny’s already gearing up for

‘My Grandpa would be tickled pink that his legacy lives on’ the Oxford Literary Festival. “It’s going to be great,” she enthuses. “I’ll read the first book to the audience and then we’re going to create our own enormous garden safari with the children. I’ve been working as a storyteller for The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden so I’ve had some practice. “Then it’s on to the Hay Festival. It’s a bit of a coup to be on the programme as a first-time children’s author so it’s all getting very exciting. My Grandpa would be tickled pink to know his legacy lives on.”

Lollipop and Grandpa into their hearts. When I met Cate, she told me she too had had a very close relationship with her grandfather. I knew she was the best person for the job. Her illustrations are beyond anything I could have hoped for and I am eternally grateful to her.”

l  Lollipop and Grandpa’s Back Garden Safari will be in bookshops from the 22nd March. It’s available to buy online through Amazon and Waterstones. Look out for the next two books - Lollipop and Grandpa Go Swimming and Lollipop and Grandpa and the Wobbly Tooth - later in the year. l  Catch Penny at The Times Oxford Literary Festival on 1st April. She will also be appearing at the Chipping Norton Literary Festival from 20th-22nd April (date and time to be confirmed) and the Hay Festival on 6th June. On 8th June she will be doing storytelling sessions and activities at the Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden.

St Teresa’s

St Teresa’s Independent Catholic School and Nursery


Street Dance Week April 10th – 13th For 12 to 16 year olds

Ever wondered how Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake became so effortlessly cool? Come and find out during this unique week of workshops where you’ll get to try different styles including Hip Hop, Breaking, Popping AND Commercial Street Dance. Not only will you learn some of the latest routines straight from the studios of London, you’ll also find out how to choreograph your own dance and see how the best in the business come up with the greatest shows and music videos around.

A Catholic school for children of all faiths

OPEN MORNINGS Saturday, May 19th Aylesbury Road, 10am to 12noon Princes Risborough, Bucks, HP27 0JW

Thursday, June 14th (next door to 10am toCatholic 12noon church, diagonally opposite Tesco) You are also

welcome to view

Phone:the 01844 345005 school

at any other time. Please call the school office to make an appointment

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‘An inclusive Catholic School’

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

l Member Independent Schools Association Careoffrom 7.45am to 6pm (term time only) & Catholic Independent Schools Conference l Bursaries available l Up to 15 hours free nursery education

per week (3-5yrs)

l Number 55 in the ‘Sunday Times’

Top 100 School’s’ list

Musical Theatre Course April 2nd – 5th for 8 to 11 Year Olds During this magical week you’ll learn routines inspired by some of the best shows around including High School Musical and Bugsy Malone. You’ll create your own scripts, be inspired by the glorious costumes of The Lion King to design and make your own outfits and learn how a show grows from the seeds of an idea into a fabulous production on Broadway!

At BRILL MEMORIAL HALL from 08.30 to 17.30 EVERY DAY


ONLY £120 for each 4 day course!! Here’s a truly great way to guarantee that your children have fun, stay active and learn new skills during the holidays. Each course is packed full of inspiring workshops, dynamic classes and fun activities so they’re sure to have a brilliant time while also being challenged. Let US look after THEM for YOU! Places are limited so get in early.

For more information and to book visit or call Sophie Garland on 07989 205 498

Aylesbury Road, Princes Risborough, Bucks, HP27 0JW (next to the church and opposite the Tesco store) Tel: 01844 345005 Website:

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T he K iMbleWiCK h unT Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Centenary easter Point-to-Point Meeting 1912-2012 1912-2012

Saturday 7th April 2012

Over a left handed all grass course of 3 miles, 1 furlong and about 38 yards by kind permission of The J.W. Robarts Trust & Messrs C.M. Robarts & Son


On Easter Saturday, April 7th, Kimble Point to Point celebrates its Centenary. A telegram from The Queen would be appropriate, well her mother did have a lovely time there in 1974, and if you are lucky enough to attend don’t forget to raise a glass to Stanley Rose, who started it all...


hen the first Point to Point at Kimble took place back in 1912 you would probably have taken odds of 100 to 1 against it still being run a century later, but Easter Saturday will herald the one hundredth meet of what has grown to be Aylesbury Vale’s biggest racing event - the Kimble Point to Point. Over two hundred volunteers help stage the day, led by the Kimblewick Hunt and many thousands attend this race meeting every year. It is held in the village of Great Kimble at Kimblewick Farm. The setting is ideal as cars may park on a slope, overlooking the racecourse, which gives excellent viewing. Point to Points are so called because they were originally raced between easily visible landmarks, like two church steeples. The races gradually became more regulated and were run on designated courses, marked out around local farmland. In 1912 Stanley Rose, the then owner of Kimblewick Farm, decided to host a meeting for The Old Berkeley, his local hunt. The first Kimble meeting was a great success and became a regular event. Over the years local hunts The Old Berkeley, the Vale of Aylesbury and now the Kimblewick have held their meetings at Kimble as have many from further afield.


Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

the men. The regulations changed and ladies only races were the order of the day, which was reversed in the 70s. It was around this time course owner Fizz Robarts, pictured below, achieved major success, becoming National Ladies Point to Point Champion. Her daughter Gi has since carried on the family’s racing tradition. Today racegoers can expect a colourful day out. Trade stands are open for business, selling clothes and accessories, there will be food stands, a very large bar and a chamPic by John Bell pagne and Pimms tent. Most people The 20s and 30s attracted large 1930 until 1983 and brought with bring their own picnic and the races entries. In 1933 Horse and Hound them a thoroughbred crowd. The have been likened to one huge party reported: ‘the number of entries Prince of Wales and Prince Aly S. with racing attached. bear testimony to the popularity Khan came to run their horses, Lord There are many bookmakers and amongst hunting sportsmen of this Oaksey rode his first a full tote facility to excellent point to point course.’ winner and in 1974 cover the six races, Group Captain Beauchamp of RAF The Queen Mother, business is generally Halton was Clerk of the Course and right, attended; taking brisk for them during Hon Secretary for the pre war years. a keen interest in the day. It was a time when many regiments every race, presenting The first race is at and clubs held meetings: The Midthe cups and by all 1.30pm with the bars, dlesex Yeomanry; 7th Hussars; Scots accounts thoroughly food and trade stands Guards; RAF Halton; the Stock enjoying the day. She open from 11.30am Exchange and the Pegasus Club all left to a fanfare from onwards. This year came to Kimble. the King’s Troop a special Centenary CM Robarts bought Kimblewick and the hunting presentation will be Farm in 1933. His sons, Eric, John horn blown by Jim made to the owners and Norman farmed in partnership; Bennett. of the course, Lord with John (a staunch supporter of In 1963 Jack Gardiner of Kimble The Queen Mother, left, hunting and racing) running the Knight of Windsor presenting trophies, 1974 and his cousin and family farm until he Racecourse redesigned former successful died in 2001. the course and his staff built the point to point jockey Fizz Robarts, Four meetings fences. It is now left handed of for the huge amount of work their Fizz Robarts on three miles, one furlong and about family has put into this course since Interrogation were held in 1937, possibly a record 38 yards long. 1933 – seventy nine years of the one for the course. The Kimble was the first point to hundred. Pegasus Club, a point course in the South to have l Tickets available in advance from club for riding and National Hunt type fences and now Philip Carter on 07941 673233 at hunting members all are portable except for the water £30 (reserved space) or on the gate of the legal profes- jump and the open ditch. at £20 per vehicle. sion, held meets Up until 1930 ladies were allowed at Kimble from to ride, side saddle or astride, against


Save up to £130 on your next round of golf, based on a four-ball. Valid until the 30th April, further details available at Terms and Conditions apply. *The offer above allows a four-ball at £150 instead of the published rate of £280.

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

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Springtime is always exciting at Bucks Animal Farm, there’s baby goats, lambs and Guinea pigs, calves, little chicks and maybe even piglets to cuddle and the kids may enjoy it too... Lauren Godfrey

Baby Guinea pigs


auren Godfrey has been running the Bucks Goat Centre Animal Farm and Adventure Centre for 18 months now. It’s a traditional children’s animal farm featuring a wide range of farm animals, including llamas, birds, donkeys, sheep, ferrets and of course domestic goats. Petting and feeding the animals is all part of the fun and children get to make friends with the rabbits and guinea pigs, baby goats and lambs. “The Goat Centre used to be all about goats,” says Lauren, “hence the name. They had every sort of domesticated goat breed and made cheese. Now we’re much more of a children’s farm. “We’ve tried to make it hands on and have fun activities for the children to get involved in. There’s a nature trail and quiz which is quite educational and we’re building a rat 42

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Baby goats town which will be fascinating. We’ve got play equipment with a tractor course for the play tractors and in the holidays we stage ferret racing and animal handling sessions - depending on the time of year it might be ‘meet the piglets’ or ‘feed the lambs’. “We have play equipment and toys but it’s all about the animals here really, getting up close and learning a bit about them. We have goats, sheep, pigs, llamas, rabbits, ferrets, birds and Guinea pigs, ponies and donkeys and there’s an alpaca arriving soon. “We have a timetable of events now as we’re not allowed to have animals running loose anymore and there’s supervised meeting times for petting and feeding. “It’s a lot of fun and the adults seem to enjoy it as much, if not more, than the children!” The Goat Centre is open seven days a week through the summer, from 9am to 5pm. The Farm Kitchen is a pleasant café serving a

good selection of hot and cold food and child friendly snacks at reasonable prices. There’s lots of room to picnic outside too and you can take your own food along if you like. At 4.50 for adults, £3.50 children, and under 2s free, admission is reasonable and if you are a regular there’s a yearly membership with which you can visit as many times as you like. Being an expert in animal care Lauren is now offering an Animal Boarding service for rabbits, Guinea pigs and hens. If you are going on holiday and have no one reliable to look after your pet, she will take care of it for you at the centre. For prices ring Lauren on: 01296 612983. l The Bucks Goat Centre Animal Farm, Layby Farm, Old Risborough Road, Stoke Mandeville, Bucks HP22 5XJ. Tel: 01296 612983 Website: Open every day: 10am to 5pm

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Swimming is great for your health and best learnt young, so now could be the perfect time to get your newborn used to the water and learning a life-saving skill...


e all know how important learning to swim is - it’s a real life-saving skill. As with most things, the earlier you start learning, the easier it is, so taking your baby to swimming lessons not only makes good sense, but is a whole lot of fun. Join the local Swimkidz course and you’ll also be able to take part in an underwater photo session - aren’t those pictures just amazing?! Swimkidz business owner and instructor Tracey grew up in Thame and went to Lord Williams’s School. She has loved swimming from an early age. When her son was about seven months (he’s four now) she tried to get him into swimming lessons but all the classes were full. “Even private lessons had a nine month waiting list!” says Tracey. “I’d worked in travel but thought I might retrain as a swimming instructor and contacted Trish Hare who runs Swimkidz in Reading.” Swimkidz is affiliated to the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) and Swimming Teachers Association (STA), covering the national and international plan for teaching swimming. Tracey did her full teacher training with Trish, including her baby/preschool, lifeguarding, first aid and SwimKidz own in-house training programme and is now fully qualified to teach swimming from babies upwards. “Having been in the pool and taught babies I really regret not having done that with my

Tracey Paterson with one of her toddlers son now,” says Tracey. “Apart from the fun of it, the children that start early do have more confidence. It’s the most amazing job ever! There is a great sense of achievement seeing toddlers at the age of 18 months swimming on their woggles unaided and children little more than two years of age swimming between five and ten metres on their own, incredible! “Lifesaving skills are introduced right from the beginning, in our baby programme, which include turning around to hold on, back floating and submersions, just to name a few. “Parents get into the pool with their babies and toddlers at first. Later they will start to sit out for periods to get the child used to being on their own. They would be a minimum of three years old by then though and be confident on a woggle. “We take children aged from about three weeks upwards to 10 years and we’re all qualified to do underwater swimming with babies. All classes are taught with the instructors in the water which has proven with SwimKidz to be extremely effective and we are confident that our children progress much quicker with this method of teaching. Our classes are for small numbers, so it’s more like private lessons and the children progress Pictures courtesy of Andy Hare SwimKidz Uk Ltd

very quickly. Lessons are for 30 minutes once a week. We do four ten week courses a year to coincide with the school terms. We also do some more intensive courses in the Summer holidays when a child can swim every day for four or five days. “We use pools that are heated to a minimum of 30 degrees as we find that children respond better in the comfort of a warm water pool. “Lessons are structured, progressive and most of all lots of fun. With the babies/toddlers it’s getting them used to the water and building confidence both above and below the water surface - there is lots of singing too! “Swimming has many proven health benefits including muscular and brain development and improved co-ordination. “A ten week course usually costs £110 but we are offering the first lesson free for anyone booking onto the April course, which starts after the Easter holidays, week commencing April 16th. “I am teaching at Reflexions Health Club, Watermead in Aylesbury at the moment and will be starting lessons in Wycombe soon - details of the venue to be confirmed. “We are looking for more pools all the time and are open to considering private pools if there are any owners out there who’d like to get in touch.” Tracey is currently teaching at Reflexions (www.reflexionsaylesbury on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays but will be expanding on this with the increasing demand for her classes. Everyone is invited to enjoy a free taster session, during which she can assess your child to see which class might suit. Contact Tracey on: 07889 905678 or email: for further details. Go on... take the plunge! l Swimkidz, Tel: 07889 905678. Email: Website: Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012


Every business has targets and at College Farm Shooting Ground, Steve and Kevin have added some big straw ones. They are ideal for archery and crossbow sessions and along with air rifles and shotguns, can make a great birthday treat for youngsters...


t’s been a hectic year,” says Steve Ward of Long Crendon based Go-Shooting. “We sold a lot of shooting vouchers at Christmas and they are starting to come in now, so we are already quite busy. We’ve been working with a couple of the special events voucher companies, Into The Blue and Adventure 001 and it has proved very popular.” Steve is an experienced shot, who has held a shotgun licence since he was 10. He’s also an expert fisherman and along with top angling instructor Ian Horrocks offers tuition and days out fly fishing and coarse fishing on local lakes and rivers and further afield. “Our fishing days have gone down well,” says Steve. “We’ve advertised in local magazines like Vale Life and it has certainly brought business in. We do a lot of one to one tuition and ‘dads and sons’ days. We have some beautiful private lakes nearby where we can cater for corporate days too. “At College Farm where we do the clay shooting we have been investing in our facilities. We’ve put more stands in for the shooting, we’ve improved the loos and we’ve planted about 1,500 trees. We had 80 customers and seven instructors for clay shooting last Saturday and it is growing all the time. We’ve improved the catering facilities and can offer anything from a bacon roll or barbecue to a full Christmas dinner! “In addition to the clays we organise a variety of activities from quad biking to falconry, (details are on our website at: www. and we have a great


Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Steve Ward and clients new package for youngsters - a chance to try air rifles, crossbows shotguns and archery. They can have 25 clay shots, half an hour of air rifles and half an hour of crossbows each, for groups of four up to 20. It’s ideal for a teen birthday treat - most young lads dream of getting their hands on a real shotgun or crossbow! It’s quite safe and costs £39 a head. “Ian, our senior fishing instructor is now qualified to Level 2 which means he is teaching instructors - he really does know all there is to know about fly fishing and is a very good teacher. We do days or half days, beginners to experts, groups or private tuition in beautiful surroundings on well stocked lakes. You will have a fabulous day and perhaps even a lovely pub lunch too! Our shooting instructors are all Clay Pigeon Shooting Association (CPSA) or Guild of Shooting qualified and CRB checked. They are all nice guys too and excellent teachers, so you will have a fantastic time even if you have never picked up a gun before. We’ve had hen parties, stag parties, corporate days,

grandmothers and grandsons and they all leave with smiles on their faces. “A lot of people find us on the internet, we get enquiries from all over. Bookings come in online and through voucher companies and direct by phone and email too, it’s a constant flow but it’s nice to be popular! “We work as preferred suppliers for Stratstone Landrover in Aylesbury and The Crazy Bear hotel group, offering shooting experiences and rod and gun days for their clients. “If you’ve yet to try clay shooting, we do an introductory ‘have-a-go day’ for £35. You get 25 clays and 25 shots with an instructor which lasts about an hour and a half. Be prepared though, it’s such fun you may want to come back for a ‘have-another-go day’ as well!” l College Farm Shooting ground and Go Clayshooting are open throughout the year. Contact: Kevin Gray on 01494 883715 or 07702 243308 and Steve Ward on 01844 212390 or 07889185518 Email: Website:

Win a fantastic luxury four-star spa weekend in beautiful Mid Wales


he Metropole, situated in the elegant town of Llandrindod Wells, is truly a family affair. Owners Justin Baird-Murray and sister Sarah are the fifth generation of their family to be running the venerable Mid Wales establishment. The Metropole was bought by the siblings’ great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth Miles, 115 years ago. Elizabeth saw the potential of owning a roadside hotel just as the car began to make its mark. Tourists came in increasing numbers, both to

The Metropole’s pool

take the waters at the spa town, and to explore the stunning countryside. Elizabeth extended the hotel considerably, increasing capacity from 40 guests to 250 - and by 1923, the hotel was the largest in Wales. Now, The Metropole seamlessly blends old and new. “We have striven to keep the feel of a grand old Victorian hotel, and we still have a large lounge furnished with comfortable chairs and a formal restaurant for fine dining,” says Justin BairdMurray. “But the bar is thoroughly modern, as are the brasserie and spa.” The upkeep of The Metropole is a full-time job, and the latest project is the refurbishment of the 114 bedrooms. Another labour of love is the development of the

The majestic Metropole is a perfect blend of old and new

kitchen garden, whose vegetables and herbs go into head chef Nic Edwards’s modern British dishes. The Baird-Murrays are keen to support local farmers and producers, so you’ll find local produce, such as Welsh lamb and beef, Hafod and Perl Lâs cheese, featuring heavily on The Metropole’s menus. If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning a weekend spa break for two, (or for a family with up to two adults and two children sharing a family room) at the luxurious

Metropole hotel in glorious Mid Wales, along with delicious dinners on Friday and Saturday, simply email your name, address and telephone number, along with the answer to the following question to: editor@ How many generations of the same family have been running the hotel? Winner to be drawn at random and notified by email by April 30th. l Website:

Win a fab Sarah Cole Diamond Jubilee mug


orget tea and sympathy, artist Sarah Cole designs quirky china that is all about mugging up on long-forgotten historical facts while you slurp your brew. “I started Cole of London just over a year ago,” says Sarah, “the idea being to make ‘mugs for thinking while drinking’ - mugs that make you laugh, look great, and from which you learn a few facts as you sip.” Since then, she has built up a brilliant range including Kings and Queens, the Six Wives of Henry VIII and Famous Writers, featuring stylish caricatures alongside all those facts you know you really should remember from school days but struggle to extract from the dark depths of your memory. “A really nice mug gives so much simple pleasure in the quiet moments of the day,” says Sarah. “I hope that the mugs make people smile, and I hope that they enjoy the information and find it useful.” After last year’s Kate & William

special-edition mug, Sarah has created another unique take on royal memorabilia with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee mug. If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning one of five funky Sarah Cole Jubilee mugs, simply email your name, address and telephone number, along with the answer to the following question to: Which Jubilee will the Queen be celebrating this year? Winner to be drawn at random and notified by email by April 30th. l Website:

Artists’ and Makers’ Fair, May 5th & 6th Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

It’s always fun to wander round art and craft exhibitions and marvel at the skills and talent on display but at a new Artists’ and Makers’ Fair you will also be able to see the artists in action...


ally Evans Art and Craft markets are well known in the Vale. Since 2004 Sally has regularly drawn together a fabulous range of artists and craftsmen displaying a fascinating collection of unique, high quality handcrafted items for her fairs in Thame and Wendover. In May she has been invited by Waddesdon Manor to take things a step further and is staging an Artists and Makers Fair in The Glass House at Waddesdon Plant Centre, adjacent to the Manor, for which many of the artists will also be demonstrating their skills live at the event. “The emphasis at Waddesdon is on demonstrating,” says Sally. “Most of the 60 people taking part will be showing off their creative skills at the event. So you will be able to watch handbuilt clay work, printmaking, a variety of painting techniques, willow work and wet and dry felting and Pauline Holt of Jazzylily will be showing visitors how to create glass beads for jewellery making. It will be fascinating.” In addition to demonstrating their skills the participants will be selling their unique creations; beautiful, affordable and in many cases useful items made from wood, paper, mosaic, glass, silver and sculpted steel. There will be refreshments on sale too, it’s all in the airy Glass House adjacent to Waddesdon Plant Centre. If you have time, a wander round the plant centre is always worthwhile and you could visit Waddesdon Manor and Gardens too. Admission to the Glass House is £3, which Mosaic artist Melanie Watts


Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

Vitreus Art

goes to local charities Helen and Douglas House, Ian Rennie Grove House Hospice and Bucks Young Carers. Here is a brief taster from some of the 60 artists taking part at the event: Artist Susan Day works in ceramics and will be demonstrating at the fair, her work is pictured right: “I enjoy the making process from preparing the clay to the final firing,” says Susan. “Very soft clay responds differently to firmer clay and the patterns and textures vary depending on the state of the clay. It’s a collaboration between the clay and myself, with a final word from the kiln!” Claudia Phipps, far right, works in glass: “I have been developing skills in sandblasting and engraving and acid etching,” she says. “With these processes of ‘taking away’ I am able to texture the glass and create linear marks. I reveal layers of glass, each sheet adding to the one behind it and recreating itself. It

Printmaker Laura Boswell at work

h at Waddesdon Plant Centre


Thame Town Hall

Ostinelli and Priest is ‘revealing’ as a means of creating.” Melanie Watts, bottom left, creates bespoke mosaics (her peacock is pictured top left), working in mixed media and sculptural work by commission, in stunning materials. Since completing a BA in Textiles in 1993, Melanie has worked as a full time artist. Her career began within a textile design studio, creating hand drawn and painted wallcoverings and fabrics for a worldwide market. She creates in a random artistic style which captures the passion and emotion she has felt throughout her life, giving her work a bold, eye-catching style that stays with the viewer. She currently works from a studio in Buckinghamshire and teaches mosaic to all ages and abilities. Jenny Timms and Mike Caddy are Vitreus Art. They began making stained glass panels using the ‘Tiffany’ Ruth Lewis or ‘foiling’ method for pleasure and discovered that other people liked what they did. Their styles have evolved over the last six years as they learnt new techniques and now they are creating contemporary stained glass for home and garden. Gaynor Ostinelli and Paul Priest describe their work as ‘hand-built sculptural animal and figurative, decorated with coloured slips and underglaze’ the fabulous hounds above are a great example. See their website


10am to 4pm 21st April 13th October 24th November

Jeremy White and facebook page for lots more pictures. Ruth Lewis makes sterling silver and gold jewellery pieces, see earrings left. Distinctive in their simplicity, she works hard to make them comfortable to wear, timeless and elegant. l Artists’ & Makers’ Fair, 10.30am to 4.30pm, May 5th & 6th 2012 Waddesdon Plant Centre, Queen Street, Waddesdon, Nr Aylesbury Buckinghamshire, HP18 0JW. For more information contact Sally on 01296 696747, or Email: Web:

Wendover Memorial Hall

Wharf Road, HP22 6HF

10am to 4pm 10th November www.sallyevans Tel: 01296 696747 Email:

l The entrance to Waddesdon Plant Centre is from Queens Street, Waddesdon, on the bend opposite The Long Dog pub (formerly The Bell) off the A41 between Aylesbury and Bicester.

Susan Day ceramics

Claudia Phipps glass etching Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012



Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

From playing Mandy in cult comedy Game On to Ronnie Mitchell in EastEnders, Samantha Womack is one of our most endearing and versatile actresses. Returning to the stage, she is starring in the acclaimed Lincoln Center Theater version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, which enjoys a two week run at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre in May...


Samantha Womack as Nellie Forbush


Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

he West End comes to Aylesbury in May when the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific takes up residence at the Waterside Theatre for 16 performances. Centre stage as nurse Nellie Forbush is ex-EastEnders actress Samantha Womack. A far cry from her role as hard-nosed Ronnie Mitchell, Sam plays a US navy nurse who is posted to a tropical island where she falls in love with married French plantation owner Emile de Becque, played by Phantom of the Opera star Matthew Camelle. With a UK tour running until July, Sam is looking forward to the production’s Waterside run: “I’ve been in South Pacific for seven months now. I work four weeks on, two weeks off - that way I can continue playing Nellie Forbush, which I’m really enjoying and my children get some mummy time as well,” says Sam. “They are 7 and 11, so I try to get home as much as I can. Sometimes they come with me, but for the two weeks at the Waterside Theatre I’ll commute to Aylesbury each day. I live out north of London towards Cambridge, so it’s not too far.” The role of nurse Nellie is just the latest instalment of an amazingly varied career. Sam was the UK’s Eurovision song entry in 1991 at the age of 18 with ‘A Message to Your Heart’, and has appeared on stage, TV and film in dramatic roles, comedies and musicals. “I’ve always tried to mix it up a little bit,” says Sam. “I’ve tried not to be typecast and be remembered for only one thing. I was in EastEnders for three years, which was quite a long time for me. It was a very easy job

because it wasn’t too far from where I lived, there was a regular routine and I had a lot of friends there, so it was enjoyable and difficult to walk away from.” When Sam was a girl, she enjoyed spending time with her grandmother, a choreographer on the QEII, often accompanying her on world cruises and watching her rehearse elaborate shows for glamorous passengers such as Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.

“I loved being with her and all the shows. I just soaked it all up, the auditions, the rehearsals and then the performance with music by Gershwin and Glenn Miller,” she says. “I’m sure I remember a version of Honey Bun from South Pacific in one show, it may have been in a South Pacific medley. They were big numbers with lots of girls dancing, it was all very glamorous.” Sam left home at 15 and, after a spell as a ‘wild child’, decided to follow her love of theatre and dance and secured a place at the

Sylvia Young Theatre School in London. “It gave me a career,” says Sam. “I’d always wanted to get out and work rather than study in a classroom, and being involved in music and theatre appealed to me. If I’d continued at school I don’t know where I’d be now.” With such strong grounding in musical theatre, Sam’s role in South Pacific is a dream come true. “I’d heard about this production of South Pacific in New York [it enjoyed a two-year run at the Lincoln Center Theater on Broadway]. It had won so many awards and there were rumours it was coming to London,” she says. “I was in EastEnders at the time and I knew the director, Bartlett Sher [who, with the same creative team, has brought the production to the UK], was very fastidious over his casting. He wanted it absolutely right and there were lots of recalls going on, so I didn’t think I’d have a chance. “Someone I’d worked with previously on Guys and Dolls mentioned me to him. I thought I gave a terrible audition, but he brought me back in four or five times. I was convinced I hadn’t got it and then later found out that he’d liked me from the start. “The great thing about this production is that it has gone back to the original text. The book ‘Tales of The South Pacific’ that Rodgers and Hammerstein based their musical on, had moved them a lot, but over the years the musical had become light and a little twee. They’d taken out the nucleus of the piece, which was the racial prejudice and

tension. There’s a feeling of alienation and it’s a great dynamic for a musical, but it became sanitised.” The new show, the first Broadway production the Rodgers and Hammerstein Estate has allowed since its original five-year run from 1949, includes the original score with classics including I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair, Some Enchanted Evening and Happy Talk. But Sher has been allowed to make changes and reinstate the orginal text and the script that was written in 1949. For Sam, it has been quite a transition from soap queen to an all-singing, all dancing musical nurse. “My character is quite a change from the dark and damaged Ronnie Mitchell role I’ve just played in EastEnders,” she says. “It was quite a difficult change to make. She’s the first character I’ve played who is quite so naive, almost childlike in a way. I’ve found it quite challenging and even felt a bit stupid at first, in my 30s, hopping and skipping around in an innocent childish way. She’s quite secretive and a very damning though. “Theatre’s great, it’s good old-fashioned hard work and I’m really enjoying it; its been very refreshing. When the show starts and the music plays, it really lifts me every night. Even if I’m tired physically, my brain is working really hard as I’m on stage for a lot of the show. “It’s a very glamorous and visual production, and the sound is fantastic. We’ve got one of the largest touring orchestras [featuring 25 musicians] ever assembled, so it’s a chance to hear the most incredible music with wonderful orchestral arrangements played quite beautifully. It’s a romantic story and quite nostalgic. It appeals to all ages - we’ve had three generations of the same family coming to watch and they’ve all loved it.” l South Pacific runs from 15th-26th May 7.30pm Monday-Saturday, with matinées at 2.30pm on Thursdays and Saturdays and Wednesday 16th May. Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Exchange Street, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP20 1UG Telephone Booking: 0844 871 7607 Website:

Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012


Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

From the Vale’s best young bands to a Proms concert and firework finale, the Spirit of Tring festival is a must-see


his year’s Spirit of Tring music festival looks set to follow last year’s success, promising a brilliant line-up to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The 2012 not-for-profit familyfriendly event, the third in a row staged by Tring-based business services company Grass Roots, hopes to build on the momentum from June 2011, when 5,000 visitors flocked to the Grass Roots Stadium, home of Tring Athletic Football Club, for two days of pop and classical music. Last year’s show recently

Grass Roots’ David Evans with last year’s Play Live contestants

picked up three national awards in recognition of the event’s contribution to the local community. Tickets have now gone on sale for this year’s show, which will again take place at the Grass Roots Stadium over two nights – Saturday 2nd June and Sunday 3rd June – the special double Bank Holiday weekend in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. On Saturday, the event kicks off at 5pm when winners of youth-band competition Play Live will take to the stage. The X Factor-style contest is a great chance


Vale Life : Mar/Apr 2012

for local bands to get on stage and takes place in May to decide who will go through to perform at the festival in June. Hugely popular St Albans-based party band, Soulfish, will then take to the stage, returning to the festival by popular demand. The party atmosphere will continue with the main event of the evening - Cool Britannia a West End-style celebration of great British rock and pop from throughout the Queen’s 60-year reign. Stars from the London stage will have the whole family up and dancing before a firework finale. On Sunday, enjoy a special Diamond Jubilee version of the Proms performed by the English National Orchestra. Star conductor Jae Alexander will lead the ENO through all the traditional proms classics, with a Spitfire flypast choreographed in time with the music and firework spectacular to round the weekend off. Grass Roots chairman David Evans MBE is looking forward to putting on another great show: “When I gave birth to the event in 2010, it was intended to be a one-off celebration of my company’s 30th birthday,” he says. “It was so well received I made the

decision to do it again in 2011. It is just one part of our support for the community. Can we do it again? Well, my bank balance says no, but my heart says yes.” While Grass Roots underwrites the cost of staging the event, local firms such as BMW dealership Specialist Cars and solicitors Hughes & Company support the festival, and local schools and sports clubs can generate much-needed funds through ticket-selling and operating food and drink stalls. Mick Eldridge, chairman of Tring Athletic Football Club, which plays at the Grass Roots Stadium, says: “We are extremely grateful for Grass Roots’ generous support, which makes it all possible. The money that we and other sports clubs generate from the event enables us to continue providing a fantastic range of sporting opportunities for the community.” l Tickets can be purchased online, subject

to a card fee, at, or alternatively from box offices in Tring at Beechwood Fine Foods, 42 Frogmore Street, or the Grass Roots office reception at Pennyroyal Court, Station Road.

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Vale Life Magazine March/April 2012  

Lifestyle magazine for Aylesbury Vale area of UK

Vale Life Magazine March/April 2012  

Lifestyle magazine for Aylesbury Vale area of UK