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VILLAGER The

December 2017

and Town

Life

LOCAL NEWS • LOCAL PEOPLE • LOCAL SERVICES • LOCAL CHARITIES • LOCAL PRODUCTS

Win £100 in our Christmas Prize Crossword

In this issue The History of Clowns Win tickets to see the

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Contents

VILLAGER The

December 2017

and Town

Life

LOCAL NEWS • LOCAL PEOPLE • LOCAL SERVICES • LOCAL CHARITIES • LOCAL PRODUCTS

Win £100 in our Christmas Prize Crossword

In this issue Clowns

The History of

Win tickets to see the

Best of Wham Bringing Local Business to Local People in the Stevenage Area every month

ur Yo EE FRco1 py

The Christmas Wreath....................................................26 Animal Stories................................................................29 Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe Edition 50............................31 Seasonal Delights...........................................................32 Puzzle Page....................................................................36 What’s On.......................................................................38 £100 Prize Crossword.....................................................42

Win Tickets

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The History of Clowns.......................................................4 The History of Christmas Decorations...............................8 Choice Wines: France......................................................10 Win Tickets to see The Best of Wham..............................12 School Readers - Volunteers Needed..............................15 Quirky Britain.................................................................21 Employment Matters.....................................................22

Editorial: Catherine Rose, Trevor Langley, Carol H Scott, Rachael Leverton, RSPCA and Simon Davis. Advertising Sales/Local Editorial Nigel Frost - 01767 261122 nigel@villagermag.com Photography Darren Harbar Photography Design and Artwork Design 9 Tel 07762 969460

The Christmas Wreath

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Publishers Villager Publications Ltd 24 Market Square, Potton, Bedfordshire SG19 2NP Tel: 01767 261122 nigel@villagermag.com www.villagermag.com Disclaimer - All adverts and editorial are printed in good faith, however, Villager Publications Ltd can not take any responsibility for the content of the adverts, the services provided by the advertisers or any statements given in the editorial. No part of this publication may be reproduced or stored without the express permission of the publisher.

Advert Booking and Artwork Deadline: Thursday 7th December for our JANUARY edition

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History

The History of

Clowns

Love them, loathe them or view them with terror, clowns have been entertaining us for thousands of years. Renowned for humour, with the recent relaunch of Stephen King’s horror classic It and his demonic antagonist Pennywise, clowns have become a scare symbol too. But where did they originate? Clowns began with royalty and across history and cultures, royal courts have long featured court jesters. The earliest recorded were in ancient Egypt during the fifth dynasty (around 2500BC). Clowns were even prominent in native tribes and formed an integral part of their social and religious ceremonies. Not only did they provide entertainment, they were also believed to be healers and counsellors. When the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortés overthrew central America’s Aztecs in 1520, it was said that the Aztec king Montezuma’s court had dwarf and hunchback clowns whom Cortés took back to Spain with him. Despite being an object of ridicule, court jesters were in fact highly thought of and the only members of a royal household permitted to openly air their views. When China’s Great Wall was being built around 300BC, Emperor Shih Huang-Ti decided he wanted it painted as well. Hundreds of labourers had already lost their lives constructing the wall but it was his court jester Yu Sze who persuaded the emperor to abandon the painting idea, saving hundreds more lives. Although rustic fools appear in Ancient Greek and Roman plays, during the 16th century clowns increasingly moved out of the court and into the theatre. Shakespeare often featured ‘the fool’ in his plays. These characters were integral to the play and actors would frequently ad lib for comic effect during performances. It was around this time that the Commedia del Arte, a structured form of comedy theatre with

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set characters, began in Italy. It quickly spread across Europe and heralded the advent of the pantomime. The set characters consisted of three servants who would plot to trick their masters. The principal servant or first zanni (which gave us the word ‘zany’) was the modern day ‘straight guy’ who would come up with the clever schemes; his helper, the second zanni was a witless fool or ‘fall guy’ who would become hilariously entangled in them, often either unintentionally thwarting them or ending up being a victim himself, and the third character was the female fonteca who provided the romantic interest. The clown-like characters of Harlequin and Pierrot grew out of Commedia del Arte. Harlequin was originally the second zanni to a character named Brighella but eventually he grew to become a principal character of his own. The white-faced clown began with Pierrot but was popularised by Joseph ‘Joey’ Grimaldi (1778-1837) who has been described as ‘the father of modern clowning’. He was well known for his comic songs and theatrical special effects. Wearing a spiky blue wig with white make-up and rouge on his cheeks and lips, his costume was a variation of the Harlequin suit with its trademark ruffles around the neck – a clothing item that has been associated with clowns ever since. The first circus was created in 1768 by Philip Astley and his equestrian shows that took place in a ring. It was Astley who created the first circus clown, calling him Billy Buttons. Billy Buttons’ character was a tailor who, in his act, would try and fail to ride a horse in amusing ways. Billy proved so popular among audiences that he soon became a feature in other circus acts. This led to the development of the Auguste (or fool) clown, a forerunner of our modern-day clown, who would spend his act tripping over his feet and having all sorts of accidents.

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The iconic American character Uncle Sam was based on a famous circus clown. Dan Rice was a philanthropist and close friend of President Lincoln who made his fortune working as a clown during the Civil War period by using humour and songs to make political observations. Sporting a goatee beard, he wore a red nose and his suit and top hat were decorated with the American flag. When political cartoonist Thomas Nast first drew Uncle Sam, he allegedly based it on Rice. The Fratellini brothers were famous circus clowns in the early 1900s and although they weren’t the first to invent the white-faced, red-nosed performer, it was the brothers who ensured the clown make-up, costumes (including the oversized shoes of the Auguste clown) and the red nose - still used as a symbol of comedy - became a tradition. The coupling of skill (such as juggling or riding a unicycle) with slapstick has evolved as hallmarks of the clown. The 20th century may have associated them with hamburgers and horror, but throughout history there have been bad clowns too - sinister masked characters who can feature in our worst nightmares. In fact, fear of clowns is a recognized psychological condition known as ‘coulrophobia’. But however you view them, no one can deny that clowns have long had the power to entertain.

By Catherine Rose

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Time of Year

A History of

Christmas Decorations Every year we go with the children to choose a new Christmas tree decoration. We don’t do themed trees in our house so our annual tree is a history of the kids’ eclectic and often eccentric tastes down the years. Traditional inherited hand blown glass ornaments nestle alongside a plastic gingerbread man, a gaudy fairy in striped tights, a robot, a festive dachshund, and a host of other unlikely characters. Every year is a delight of discovery as my teens and preteens unpack, reminisce and tease each other over their past choices. But where did the idea of decorations originate and how did they evolve into what they’ve now become? Tinsel originated in Germany in the early 1600s. Back then it was made from real shredded silver. Tinsel makers hammered the silver until it was thin, then cut it into strips. It was so popular that tinsel machines were invented to keep up with demand. Clearly silver was a little expensive and eventually the plastic variety took over. We have the Germans to thank for baubles. They were invented in the 1840s by Hans Greiner. His original glass fruit and nuts developed into beautiful ornate ornaments which so charmed Queen Victoria that she brought them back to Britain. As they were all hand-crafted the first, baubles were very expensive. Improvements in plastic manufacturing meant that cheaper versions became available, and baubles became available to the masses. The green fir tree was originally used by Pagans and Christians to celebrate winter. Pagans used branches of the fir tree to decorate their homes during the winter solstice, as a reminder that spring would come again. The Christians adopted them later. The tradition of Christmas trees seems to have originated about 1000 years ago in Northern Europe. They were

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often hung upside down from the rafters. In modern times improved manufacturing techniques have allowed for the production of artificial trees which can be very difficult to tell from the real thing! In Victorian times, Christmas trees were been decorated with candles. In 1895, an American man, Ralph Morris, was so concerned about the fire hazard of candles and Christmas trees that he invented the first electric Christmas lights, which are similar to those still in use today. Over the years there have been glass and plastic variations of reindeers, stars, fruit, butterflies, birds and even festive dachshunds (see above!) but the debate still rages about whether there should be an angel or a star on top of the tree.

Merry Christmas

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Food and Drink

Choice Wines: France Château la Tulipe de la Garde is a much-respected winery that continues to receive prestigious awards for their wine productions and is situated between Saint-Émilion and the Dordogne River, in the Bordeaux region of France. Dating from the middle of the 14th century, the estate was purchased by Dutch rock star, writer-composer, Ilja Gort, during 1994. Having only a small amount of knowledge about winemaking, but wanting to live in a peaceful environment, Ilja developed the family business and can be justifiably proud of all achievements. Located north-east of Bordeaux, the climate of this area enjoys a good amount of sunshine and grows numerous grape varietals, with high-quality grapes, for producing exceptional wines. Château la Tulipe Bordeaux Supérieur is an excellent blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes. Aged in French oak barrels, this production has an intense red colour. Ripe, dark fruits, are in abundance for the bouquet. The smooth, dry palate sensations follow through, with a most impressive finish, to complete. A very pleasant and popular wine, having a richness to savour. The Company also produces wines under the ‘Slurp’ label. Slurp Cabernet Syrah Red has Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes utilised to great advantage. Ripe and juicy, this wine has many ‘followers’, being easy-drinking and with positive flavours. Smooth and popular, this production has a good body and is well-balanced. Slurp Chardonnay also has a good number of ‘devotees’. Again, excellent value and enjoyed both on its own and at many dining occasions, this wine will not disappoint, either. A medium-intense, dry, white production, which has a modest floral bouquet, leading to the mouth’s pleasures and the palate’s appreciated enjoyment. Easy-drinking and pleasing to many wine lovers. For all details, plus availability and very interesting information about this winery and the impressive productions, which accompany a lot of cuisine, wonderfully, please visit: www.tulipe.co.uk www.tulipe.nl www.slurp.nu

As always, Enjoy!

ey Trevor Langl

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advertorial

Has Your Double Glazing Steamed Up? Established for over a decade Cloudy2Clear windows have become a leading company for glass replacement. Issues with double glazing can often be gradual and may only be noticed during a clear sunny day or during the winter. A failed glass unit may no longer provide you with the protection you need or be energy efficient. Why not spend a few minutes checking your home to see if you have any failed double glazing? If you act now you can avoid these problems. Now, you may think you need to replace the whole window including

the frames and all the hardware, however Cloudy2Clear have come up with a simple and cost saving solution‌ Just replace the glass!! If you see condensation in your windows just visit our website or give us a call on 0800 61 21 118. We will send out our highly experienced engineers for a free no obligation quote. A Cloudy2Clear quote takes on average no longer than 20 minutes. Once the quote is completed, we will sit down with you and explain the problem and tell you how we can fix it.

With years of experience Cloudy2Clear have a wealth of knowledge and are recognised as a Which Trusted Trader, plus our work is backed by an industry leading 25 year guarantee. Cloudy2Clear also replace faulty locks handles and hinges on all windows and doors. Your friendly local Cloudy2Clear specialist is Tom Bliss and he services the Luton, Stevenage, Letchworth, Dunstable & surrounding areas. So, if your windows are steamed up, broken or damaged give Tom a call for a free quotation on 0800 61 21 118.

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COMPETITION

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Sweeney Entertainments Presents

The Best of Wham Bedford Corn Exchange

Saturday 13th January 2018, 8pm Tickets £19.50 in advance

We are giving away 2 x tickets to the show! Simply send your entry by 16th December 2017 to: Villager Publications Ltd, 24 Market Square, Potton, Beds SG19 2NP The winner will be drawn at random. BEST OF WHAM COMPETITION ENTRY To win 2 free tickets to see The Best of Wham on Saturday 13th January complete your details below:

A ‘Fantastic’ new show featuring the best of George, Andrew, Pepsi and Shirlie with sensational vocals, choreography, costumes and an awesome live band. Can it really be 37 years since George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley formed one of the most enduring pop groups of the 80s? In four short years WHAM! sold more than 28 million records, topping the charts with three albums, four number one singles and eleven top ten hits. They featured in the Live Aid concert of 1985 and were the first western pop group to ever tour in China. Their impact and influence on the 80s era and music today really cannot be over emphasised. The Best of WHAM! Show includes all those hits, a few B side favourites and a couple of early George Michael bonus songs. This fun-loving, vibrant, megamix tribute to the pop sensation of the 80s will be loved by ‘Young Guns’ of all ages, so come along to the ‘Club Tropicana’ (*sorry, Drinks not free!) This is a fully seated show.

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104 Ampthill Road, Shefford, Beds SG17 5BB 14

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Local News

Volunteers needed to listen to children read in local primary schools Can you spare an hour or two a week to listen to children read in a local primary school? Schoolreaders is looking for more volunteers in Hertfordshire to carry out this important role. Reading time for many children at home and at school is often insufficient and one in three children are now leaving primary school unable to read to the required standard. This can have a lifelong consequence. No qualifications are necessary, just a good command of spoken and written English. Schoolreaders is flexible and will match your availability to an appropriate, local school. Our volunteers find the scheme incredibly rewarding, knowing that a few hours helping a child learn to read each week can have such a great impact on their life chances. Please visit the website www.schoolreaders.org to join or call 01234 924111 for further information.

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En-suite dreams Visit our showroom and we’ll help you make your dream bathroom a reality. Brands in our showroom: • Merlyn • Ideal Standard • Roca • Crosswater • Aqualisa • Mira

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Visit us at: Units 23-24, Gunnels Wood Park, Stevenage, SG1 2BH. 01438 722653 Open 6 days a week: Mon-Fri: 7.30 – 4.30 Sat: 7.30 – 12

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Local News

Oakview Lodge Care Home

to create 60 jobs for the local community A brand new care facility named Oakview Lodge will create up to 60 jobs for local people. This new care home is located on the site of the old Queen Elizabeth ll Hospital in Welwyn Garden City and will provide essential specialist dementia and residential care, with a philosophy of holding all residents and their families are at the heart of everything the homes does. Amongst the 60 jobs will be a variety of full and part-time positions will be available including roles for housekeepers, maintenance assistants, day and night care assistants (including seniors) and activity champions and deputy management.

The company building Oakview Lodge, Country Court Care, are a family business and were established in 1983. They are known across the country for providing family led specialist care and became winners of Health Investor’s ‘Residential Care Provider of the Year’ award in 2015, and were also announced as finalists in 2016 & 17 awards respectively. The home is opening its doors on Sunday 21st of January 2018 for a

Public Open Day from 11am, and invites all local people to come in and see the home, meet our team and enjoy some complimentary refreshments. For more information about admissions or recruitment at Oakview Lodge, please call 0843 506 9452, email info@countrycourtcare.com or visit www.countrycourtcare.com

The team at The Villager would like to wish all readers and advertisers a very

Merry Christmas

and a

Happy New Year

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Hobbies

Quirky Britain THE HIGH STREET SHOPS WHERE IT’S CHRISTMAS ALL YEAR ROUND Are you one of those people who starts looking forward to next Christmas as soon as the decorations are packed away? Thanks to a growing British shopping trend, you can now enjoy Christmas all year round. A growing number of retailers are trying out all-year Christmas shopping, with many of the more successful stores located in areas known for attracting tourists. In Stratford-Upon-Avon, The Nutcracker Christmas shop - with its range of festive ornaments - makes a lively contrast to the staid Shakespeare souvenirs on sale elsewhere. The shop is part of a small family business founded by Robert Newman in 2001. Robert had intended to open a small gift shop, but a visit to a trade gift show in Birmingham opened his eyes to the huge potential for selling festive goods. He now owns a chain of Christmas stores in England and Scotland. Lisa Hill-Whyte, owner of the Isle of Wight’s Jingle Bells Christmas shop, was inspired to open her business in 2009 after visiting Christmas stores in Austria and America. She began by filling an adjoining tea room with Christmas merchandise during the winter months, but her idea proved so popular that she was able to realise her dream of selling festive goods for most of the year. Her Shanklin store now stays open seven days a week, from March to Christmas Eve. Lisa says: “We do as much business in April as we do in December and our busiest months are July, August and September.” Lisa’s policy is to stock items that are “a little bit special”, so customers can personalise their Christmas tree decorations. As a result she has had some unusual requests: “Some customers ask

for a certain animal that you wouldn’t necessarily expect at Christmas – such as a fish, raccoon, tiger, elephant, sheep, cow or fox. The list is long, but I have found all these and others. I haven’t been caught out yet!” So what attracts shoppers to buy Christmas items at a time of the year when the festive season should be furthest from our thoughts? Hayley Corden from Bromsgrove sees it as part of the tourist experience. She says: “Whenever we go away we always try to buy a Christmas tree decoration. It’s lovely to look at your Christmas tree and remember all the places you’ve been.” James Tunstall from Newquay, Cornwall, enjoys the “magical feeling” he gets in a Christmas shop. He says: “I love to browse out of season. It’s about recalling the Christmasses you had as a child, and these shops bring it all back.” However, some shoppers are very far from experiencing nostalgia when they see festive goods on sale out of season. Whilst enjoying a summer holiday in Dorset, Tracy Whelbourne from Chesterfield was shocked to find Christmas decorations on sale: “So there we were, enjoying the sunny weather, and what do I see? A Christmas shop, open, with customers inside! Christmas seems to start earlier and earlier these days, and seeing it made me really cross.” Whether the sight of a high street Christmas shop thrills you with memories of childhood Christmasses past or makes you boil with rage, it seems that from now on - should they so choose - fans of the festive season will be able to shop for Santa stockings, advent calendars and shiny baubles whenever they want.

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Employment

Good relationships between employees and their managers are a positive factor in employees’ ability to balance work and family.

Employment Matters Employees who rate their organisation’s company’s overall commitment to wellbeing as good to high say this has a positive effect on the work life balance. Employees who experience negative attitudes from their managers, peers and colleagues at work find it hinders their ability to balance work and family. Organisations who consider their employees’ happiness and workplace wellbeing can gain the benefit of reduced absence and increased productivity. This is done not by following fad or fashion, but by understanding the real issues impacting all the workforce, and wherever possible, actually doing something about them. Being a good listener is a positive step to promoting wellbeing at work and active listening involves paying close attention to what the other person is saying, asking clarifying questions, and rephrasing what the person says to ensure understanding. A good communicator should enter any conversation with a flexible, open mind and committed to listening to and understanding the other person’s point of view, rather than simply getting their own message across. Being willing to enter into a dialogue, even with those who may disagree and have ideas of their own, produces more honest, productive conversations and potential improvements to the ‘way we do things around here’. All those working in a business will find it easier to be more open to communicating if they are approached with respect for themselves, their skills,

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knowledge and experience and their ideas. Actions like using a person’s name, making eye contact, and actively listening when a person speaks will make the person feel appreciated. If you are talking on the phone, avoid distractions like reading your emails or playing computer games, and stay focussed on the conversation. Convey respect in every email by planning the content as if it was a business letter. Always use an opening salutation, don’t send a sloppily written, confusing email, or use it as a way of avoiding a face to face discussion on underperformance. Being able to appropriately give and receive feedback is an important part of wellbeing at work in every role. Anyone with workers who report directly, or even indirectly, to them should continuously look for ways to provide those employees with constructive feedback, be it through face to face meetings, email, phone calls, or weekly status updates. Giving feedback involves giving praise as well something as simple as saying “ that was a great job” or “thank you for taking care of that so well” to an employee can greatly increase the feeling of wellbeing and motivation. We all spend a lot of time at work and by everyone committing to building and maintaining harmonious working relationships everyone’s level of wellbeing will increase. Carol H Scott HR and Business Consulting Ltd

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Experts in Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury Claims We are a highly specialised firm of solicitors based in St Neots, Cambridgeshire. We were founded in 1988 and we practice exclusively in the fields of clinical negligence and personal injury law. Our highly experienced team of solicitors take on cases concerning inappropriate medical treatment of all kinds. We deal with claims against GPs, hospital Trusts, dentists and other health care professionals in the NHS and in the private sectors. Director Vicki Seabrook has particular expertise in high value brain injured infant cases. Director Marc Folgate specialises in high value personal injury claims including claims involving brain and spinal injuries, complex regional pain syndrome, orthopaedic injuries and polytrauma. Marc also specialises in accidents at work.

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CHRISTMAS SHOPPING AT WESTGATE

Shop Late Every Thursday ‘til 8pm (from Thursday 30 November) OPEN Fri 22 Dec and Sat 23 Dec: 9am-8pm OPEN Christmas Eve: 10am-4pm* CLOSED Christmas Day OPEN Boxing Day: 9am-5pm* OPEN Wed 27 Dec to Sat 30 Dec: 9am-5.30pm OPEN Sun 31 Dec: 10am-4pm CLOSED New Year’s Day Normal trading hours thereafter *Check your favourite stores for individual opening hours

www.westgateshopping.co.uk @Westgate_Centre Westgate Shopping Centre

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Garden View

By Rachael Leverton

The

Christmas Wreath Until fairly recently in history, certainly up to Victorian times, people could never be certain they would safely survive the harsh winter. So they developed rituals and displays to help them get through the darker days. One such symbolic display of hope was the Christmas wreath. The circular shape is symbolic of eternity or everlasting life because it has no beginning or end. From a Christian perspective it represents the unending circle of life, with the traditional Holly as the thorns on Jesus’ crown and the red berries as his blood. Now we hang them on our doors and use them as table centrepieces because they look wonderfully opulent and festive. The word ‘wreath’ is linked to the word ‘wrist’, both words describing the form of a continuous circular shape. This became fused with ‘wrethe’ from middle English which means a twisted band or ring of leaves. At this bleak time of year, it’s traditional to use evergreens and other brightly coloured flowers, foliage, or fruits to adorn a wreath. In past times the addition of expensive and rare fruits such as pomegranates, indicated wealth, but wreaths also included the display of pinecones, seashells and even imported products. Once the decorations

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were taken down, the edible parts would be eaten and the bounty of summer could be enjoyed in the depth of winter. Making a wreath is fun and relatively easy. You can make a simple and cheap evergreen circle or push the boat out and create an elaborate bauble ring. You can buy a ring of flower-arrangers’ foam. Soak it in tepid water, and then stick sprigs of evergreen foliage from the garden, flowers, berries, dried fruits, nuts, and bows into it using wire if necessary. Or you can make your own base by taking a ring of string wire and covering it in moss or hay. This will need to be held in place using thinner gauge wire. You can then wire in foliage and decorations. I will just warn you about holly though; working with it can be a painful experience so wear gloves and maybe have a box of plasters handy! If you want to try something different you can use a circle of pine cones, dried leaves, threaded popcorn and cranberries or woven red and yellow dogwood cut from your garden and interweaved with battery-operated lights. Use your gardener’s imagination.

Happy Gardening

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Animal Stories

Pets

Happy re-homing... Now that the darker nights are closing in and the cold is making us all a little grumpy – we thought that we’d cheer you up with some recent stories of successful re-homing. Hopefully these beautiful cats will warm the cockles of your heart and help you consider if you could open your home to an animal in need. Ronald was only a scrawny kitten when he was found abandoned and full of fleas. Despite his tough start, he was cheeky and friendly – and lucky enough to find his forever home. We received this lovely message from his new family: “We just wanted to let you know how well Norman (previously known as Ronald) is getting along. He’s settled in so well with lots of cuddles, gobbling down lots of food and he is also getting along well with our other cat, Gertrude! They play together, eat together and she’s even recently started grooming her new little brother!” Another stunninglooking kitten was found trying to get a spray tan from a local salon! Sadly, she wasn’t claimed and so was put up for adoption. Now called Misty, we were sent this lovely photograph from her new owners. It definitely looks like she’s made herself at home! Surprisingly, black cats are always difficult to re-home and often find themselves overlooked. Luckily for handsome, fluffball Bruno – his new owners quickly fell under his spell. They sent us this message: “…Bruno has settled in extremely well since bringing him home on Saturday. He is such a sweet natured ella and he very much enjoys fuss and attention!” )

Some of our animals come to us in inseparable pairs and it is too traumatic for them to be split up. This can mean finding a new forever home is a bit more difficult – but Twyler and Sirrius hit the jackpot. Their new owners write: “Twyler and Sirrius are making good use of our king-sized bed and now prefer this to their basket. We just sleep around them! We have bought them a cat tree which is beside our patio windows so they can get a good view of the garden and birds. We also bought some cat toys. Thank you so much for allowing us to adopt these two lovely cats. They are already very much part of the family.” It’s wonderful that these are such happy endings, but unfortunately, we always have a constant stream of unwanted animals coming into our care. Daisy, Maisy and Lacey are around 6 months old. They’ve come from a chaotic house with too many animals and are now looking for a loving forever home. If you think you can offer one of these kittens – or any unwanted animal in our care – a loving home, please contact us. Supporting the RSPCA Bedfordshire North branch ensures that we will always be here for animals such as Norman, Misty and Daisy – protecting them and giving them new beginnings.

Can you help us spread a little more happiness?

ANIMAL STORIES is one of a series of articles brought to you by the RSPCA Bedfordshire North branch www.rspca-bedfordshirenorth.org.uk

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Stevenage airport taxiS

Premier Painters and Decorators

Stevenage Airport Taxis offer the most reliable and professional airport transfer service in and around the Stevenage area. We have several licensed vehicles that can cater for up to 8 passengers. We also provide a transport service for weddings, long distance journeys and any occasion day or night leisure trips. Please visit our website for any bookings or quotations

www.stevenageairporttaxis.co.uk or call

01438 420420 Online Bookings • Credit Cards Accepted

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Premier Painters and Decorators are a professional, punctual and hard working company delivering outstanding quality of work to our clients in and around Stevenage From wallpaper hanging, feature walls, coving and cornice work. We even clean facias, soffits and guttering. (PVC or Wood) If you would like to take advantage of our services, require a quote or advise please do not hesitate to contact us. Be assured when Premier quote a job there are NO HIDDEN EXTRAS. Private and commercial, exterior and interior painting services.

For a free quotation please contact Gary on Tel: 01438 230943 Mob: 07733 227961 Email: info@premierpd.co.uk

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Motoring

Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe Edition 50 By Simon Davis

What is it? The Mercedes AMG GT C Coupe Edition 50 is the secondhottest model in the sports car line up and sits slightly below the utterly bonkers GT R. Only available currently as a 500-production ‘Edition 50’ special run, it features a monstrous engine, thunderous soundtrack and super GT looks. What’s new? The engine steals all the headlines, but technical refinements include active rear axle steering, electronicallycontrolled locking differential and a wider track than its lesser powered GT and GT S siblings. What’s under the bonnet? All GT models feature the same 4.0-litre V8 with a ‘hot inner V’ – a compact engine design that places the turbos on the inside of the engine’s ‘V’, so they spool up quicker. Power output for the GT C is a whopping 549bhp backed up with 670Nm of torque, which means 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 197mph. What’s it like to drive? On the road, it feels big and wide. Visibility isn’t great and placing it takes practice. It’s got fantastic levels of grip though and despite those tyre-shredding performance figures, it puts those huge lumps of power down impressively well, aided smoothly by a quick seven-

speed auto gearbox. The steering feels heavy, perhaps even a little slow at times, but it’s communicative. As the name suggests, this is definitely a performance GT rather than a lithe and supple sports car. On paper, it might be a rival to an Audi R8 or Porsche 911 Turbo S, but both of those would feel far more sports car than this. The GT C is muscle; more raw power and less finesse. How does it look? That muscle car look might be exactly what buyers are looking for, though. Its long, blunt nose, tight rear and low stance will win the most buyers. It’s a unique look – something that’s pretty unrivalled on the road – and one Mercedes is pegging a lot of the GT’s success on. What’s it like inside? Inside the driver is surrounded by a focused cabin. A large, somewhat intrusive transmission tunnel is littered with buttons and dials and the multimedia system is frustrating. The touch-sensitive trackpad is clunky and the graphics look dated, especially when compared to the likes of Jaguar Land Rover. The interior feels incredibly cramped too. Taller drivers will find their knees butt up against the bulkhead and the seats don’t recline far enough.

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What’s the spec like? Standard spec on the GT C includes 19-inch front and 20-inch rear alloy wheels, Burmester sound system, parking sensors and camera, keyless go and an AMG performance steering wheel finished in nappa leather. It’s topped off by red brake calipers with AMG lettering. Verdict If you can see past the complicated naming strategy to pick the right model, you’ll be rewarded with a technologically advanced, blisteringly fast and characterful GT. It’s cramped inside for taller drivers, and some of the multimedia system can be infuriating, but there’s no denying the GT C is staggeringly quick, exciting to drive and looks the muscle car part. Buyers will have a tough choice between this and the very capable alternatives from Audi, Porsche and McLaren, though – while Mercedes will be hoping its AMG heritage and booming soundtrack will pull in the punters. Base price: £139,855 Engine: 4.0-litre V8 twin turbo Power: 549bhp, 670Nm Top speed: 197mph 0-60mph: 3.5 MPG: 20mpg Emissions (g/km): 259

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Food and Drink

Seasonal Delights Salmon and Monkfish Filo Wreath

Serves 6 Ready in 1 hour 30 minutes, plus chilling time This festive wreath makes a great alternative to traditional roast turkey and can be prepared in advance the night before.

INGREDIENTS

Sunflower oil, for greasing 100g butter, melted 270g pack filo pastry, thawed if frozen 450g salmon fillet, skinned and diced 450g monkfish fillet, skinned and diced 225g cooked peeled tiger prawns 2 tbsp lemon juice 3 tbsp chopped fresh dill Salt and freshly ground black pepper Lemon wedges and dill sprigs, to garnish 1 Use the sunflower oil to grease a 1.2 litre capacity ring mould, then line the mould with cling film. 2 Brush the sheets of pastry one by one with melted butter and use nearly all of them to line the ring mould. Overlap the pastry sheets slightly as you go and repeat the layers 3-4 times. Leave the excess pastry to drape over the side of the mould. 3 Mix the salmon, monkfish and prawns in a large bowl and stir in the lemon juice and chopped dill. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. 4 Spoon the fish mixture into the pastry-lined mould, pressing down gently. Fold the excess

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pastry in over the filling and top with more buttered sheets of pastry, cutting them to fit and completely cover the filling. Stamp small star shapes out of any remaining sheets of buttered pastry and place on a plate. 5 Cover the ring mould and the plate with cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour (or overnight). Carefully invert the ring mould onto a large baking sheet and then remove the mould and the cling film. Re-melt any remaining butter and brush all over the pastry. 6 Bake in a preheated oven at 190C/fan 170C/Gas Mark 5 for 40-45 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden. Bake the pastry stars on a separate baking sheet for 5 minutes until golden. 7 Allow the wreath to stand for 5 minutes then transfer to a serving platter and decorate with the pastry stars. Garnish with lemon wedges and dill sprigs.

Tip

Filo pastry sheets can vary in size so simply cut to fit. Don’t worry if they tear, just place another piece of buttered pastry on top to cover the tear.

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HERTS OVEN CLEAN Herts Oven Clean is a domestic oven cleaning specialist in Hertfordshire. Non-caustic, fume-free solution individually prepared for each customer. Ovens, Hobs, Grills, Extractors, Agas, Microwaves and Gas Barbeques. Call Richard on 01438 813492 Bring a sparkle to your kitchen today. To advertise in The Villager and Town Life please call 01767 261122

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Electrician

www.hertsandbedselectrical.co.uk

Do you find it difficult to get someone to come and do a small job? Fault finding/repairs Extra lights and sockets New fuse boards Rewires P.A.T testing Landlord inspections Qualified electrician  Fully insured Reliable service  Tidy work Free quote  Satisfaction guaranteed

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Easy Suduko

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Handyman Plumbing Electrical Painting & Decorating Drainage Fully Insured All Work Guaranteed – No Job Too Small Gardening Call Now For A Free Quote Locksmith 24/7 Emergency Call Out

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Deadline for What’s On entries is the 12th of the previous month. What’s on entries to whatson@villagermag.com

n O s ’ t Wha In December 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29 December Springfield House Friday Bridge Club 1.30pm Old Stevenage Community Centre To play cut-in Chicago Bridge. Play is informal and friendly. Tel: Richard Bean 01438 221517

2 & 3 December Winter Art Exhibition & Craft Sale 10am-4pm Roecroft Centre, Church Rd, Stotfold Stotfold Art Group Winter Exhibition and Craft sale. Everyone welcome to browse.

2 December Ashwell at Christmas Many events will be happening in Ashwell including the Christmas Fair in St. Mary’s Church from 9.30am2.30pm. Unique and handmade gifts, cards, cakes, art will be available. Carol singing by the Church Choir. Refreshments available. Winter Wonderland will be at the U.R.C. and the Museum will be open.

3 December A Christmas Carol 5.30-7.30pm St Mary’s Church, Meppershall No tickets - suggested £5 donation on the evening A one man performance of A Christmas Carol from an abridged version of the original text. Mulled wine and mince pies will be served. Seats are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. Web: www.vintageverse.co.uk

2 December The Signals Museum Open Day 10am-4pm The Signals Museum at RAF Henlow is open to the public. Entry is free but official photo ID such as a driving licence, passport or over 60s Bus Pass is required to get an entry ticket from the Guardroom. Web: www.rafsignalsmuseum.org.uk 2 December Cambs and Beds Hardy Plant Society 2pm Weatherley Centre, Eagle Farm Road, Biggleswade Jill and Alun Whitehead, owners of Aulden Farm Nursery, will talk about ‘Aulden Farm - From Conception to Chaos’. Plants for sale followed by Christmas Tea. Web: www.hpscambsandbeds.co.uk 2 December A Christmas Carol 5.30-7.30pm St Mary’s Church, Henlow A one man performance of A Christmas Carol from an abridged version of the original text. Mulled wine and mince pies will be served then onto The Engineers Arms for Smoking Bishop and Porter. Web: www.vintageverse.co.uk 2 December Vivace Advent Concert 7pm St Peter’s Church, Arlesey Tickets inc. refreshments £10, Students & teens £8, Under 13s free Including Bach Cantata ‘Sleepers, Wake’; Pergolesi Magnificat and Pachelbel Canon. Conductor Robert Bunting, organist Geoffrey Boult. Tickets available on the door, online or by telephone. Tel: Ticket Manager 01462 453 336 Web: www.vivacechoir.co.uk

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4, 11& 18 December Branch Out Social Club for Single People 8.30-11pm Cromwell Bar, The Sun Hotel, Hitchin Branch Out meets every Monday night and is a medium-sized Social Club for single people. It was formed in 1995 to bring together single, divorced, widowed and separated people, aged 40 upwards, from the Herts, Beds and Bucks area, to socialise and enjoy one another’s company. Tel: Lorna 01438 233657 www.branch-out.org.uk 5, 12 & 19 December Stevenage Bridge Club 7.30pm Priory Nursery, Stanmore Road, Stevenage To play Duplicate Bridge. A host system is run to find partners, if required. Tel: Phil Cooper 07957 813434 6 December North Herts Association of the National Trust 7.30pm Christchurch, Bedford Road, Hitchin £2 on the door inc. mince pie & non-alcoholic punch ‘Man on the Spot’, a talk by Bill Hamilton. Membership of the National Trust not necessary. Tel: Colin Cropley 01462 713391 Email: colinecropley@gmail.com 6, 13 & 20 December Vivace Choir 7.30-9.30pm Edgeworth House, 121 High Street, Arlesey We are looking for keen singers to join our fun and friendly choir. Find out more about the choir and its concerts online. Web: www.vivacechoir.co.uk

6, 13, 20 & 27 December Baby Rhyme Time 10.30-11am Baldock Library Free event 6, 13, 20 & 27 December IT Sessions 3.30-4.30pm Baldock Library If you have an IT issue come and see the IT Champion or book a Taster session; one-to-one with a member of staff. Tel: 0300 123 4049 7 December Lecture ‘From Yuletide to Nativity: Christmas in Early England’ 11am or 2pm Spirella Ballroom, Bridge Road, Letchworth The Arts Society North Hertfordshire presents this lecture on how Modra Niht became Christmas Eve. An exploration of the great midwinter festival in the light of Medieval art, poetry and literature. Lecturer is Dr Sam Newton. Visitors welcome. Email TheArtsSociety.nh@gmail.com 7, 14, 21 & 28 December Toddler Tales 2.15-2.45pm Baldock Library Free event 8 December Hitchin Christmas Tree Festival Preview Evening & Concert 6.30-9pm, Concert 7.45pm Holy Saviour Church, Radcliffe Road, Hitchin Tickets £12 inc. mulled wine & light refreshments The Festival begins with the Preview Evening and Concert, giving visitors an opportunity to have a leisurely look at the trees before enjoying a concert of seasonal music performed by the Holy Saviour Church Choir and The Radcliffe Singers. Tel: Tickets 01462 712212 8 December ‘Winterlude’ a Festive Concert 7.30pm Baldock Arts & Heritage Centre, High Street, Baldock Adults £10, Under 18s £5 Baldock Community Orchestra together with Hatfield Welwyn Community Choir presents ‘Winterlude’ a Festive Concert. Tickets available in advance or on the door. Tel: Roy 01462 730348 9 December Santa Claus’ Float 6.30pm Stondon Proceeds going to Keech Cottage and All Saints Church.

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This is a small selection of the What’s On for the full listing please go to our website www.villagermag.com

n O s ’ t Wha In December 13 December Henlow Branch R N A 7.30pm Community Centre, The Gardens, Henlow The Henlow Branch of The Royal Naval Association meets on the second Wednesday of each month. Tel: Jack Stafford 01462 850618 for further info 13 December Letchworth Music Club 7.45pm Howgills Friends Meeting House, 42 South View Tickets £12, Under 18s & students £6 Come and meet pianist and composer, Richard Sisson and his friends who will entertain us with and evening of music and talk including his work with Alan Bennett on the first production of The Lady in the Van and on his adventures teaching in Zimbabwe. Tickets available on the door. Web: www.letchworthmusicclub.co.uk

15 December The Gary Wood Swing Band Christmas Concert Doors open 7pm Parkside Community Hall, Ampthill Tickets £12 Swing into Christmas with popular local Crooner and Trumpeter Gary Wood, as he brings his band together to kick start your Christmas with a Swing Concert. All your favourites by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Michael Buble et al. Licensed bar. Fundraising concert in aid of the Parkside Community Hall. Tickets from Cambridge Wine Ampthill or online (booking fee applies). Email: gary@jazzexperience.co.uk Web: www.parksidehall.org.uk

16 December Figgy Pudding Christmas Concert 4pm St. Martin’s Church, Knebworth Tickets £10, Under 16s £5 Stevenage Choral Society and Roebuck Academy Choir. We’ll be singing carols old, carols new and some a little different. There are carols to listen to and some to join in with. A family concert which normally sells out very quickly so get your tickets early. Web: www.stevenagechoral.org.uk Web: Tickets WeGottickets.com/StevenageChoral 18 December Stick Man 2-3pm or 3-4pm Baldock Library Stick Man by Julia Donaldson. Children can come and make a stick man to hang on their Christmas tree. Limited spaces so booking required. Tel: 0300 123 4049

GAS SAFE REGISTERED

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I D Decorating Emergency Call Outs Full & Partial Rewires Electrical Safety Reports CCTV Installation Security Lights Garden Lighting

Painting & Decorating Services Painting – Interior & Exterior Decorating Coving No Job Too Big Or Too Small Fully Insured & Free Estimates

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November’s Puzzle Solutions and Winners Last Month’s Crossword Winner Mrs White of St Neots Easy

Hard

n i t l ham F e o J Plasterers

Female Plasterer specialising in: Plastering, Plasterboarding, Making Good and Painting

A FRIENDLY FAMILY FIRM. FREE QUOTATIONS

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The Villager Prize Crossword

Prize

ÂŁ100 Across 7 Light wind (6) 8 Add up (6) 9 Not pretty (4) 10 Take away (8) 11 Tenth month (7) 13 Deprived (5) 15 Two times (5) 17 Remaining (7) 20 Booklet (8) 22 Floats (6) 23 Unlocked (6) Down 1 Horrendous (6)

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21 Assists (4)

2 Refute (4) 3 Childhood illness (7) 4 Investigate (5)

Complete the crossword, fill in your details below, cut out this page and send to the address below before

16th December 2017 Prize Crossword, Villager Publications Ltd 24 Market Square, Potton, Beds SG19 2NP

5 Barely (8) 6 Coerced (6) 12 Engaged (8) 14 Stopping place (7) 16 Gun or knife (6) 18 Bowed (6) 19 Nearby (5) 21 Pinnacle (4)

Name: Tel: Address:

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Herts Gas.

Central heating specialists Caring local professional service by British Gas trained technician, 35 years experience.

Servicing New boilers installed Breakdowns Inspections Fault finding Please contact Iris or Peter on 01462 790342 office, 07971 958942 mobile E mail Hertsgas@live.co.uk Herts Gas HP.indd 1

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13/11/2017 10:03

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Our Pride - Your Joy • Conservatories • Orangeries • Sunrooms • Porches • Composite Entrance Doors • Bi-Folding Doors • Energy Rated Glazing • Garage Conversions • Tiled Roof Garden Rooms • Re-Furbish Your Existing Conservatory Your specialist local company, who build with care and dedication from design to completion

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Premier

Property Maintenance Premier Property Maintenance is a multiple trade company operating in and around Hertfordshire and north London. We are a well organized management team with a professional approach to Client Liaison, Supervision and Health and Safety. We operate with a versatile in-house work force with various specialist trades, which results in our ability to provide our Client’s with an ‘all-trades’ service. We pride ourselves on delivering a competitive quality service to new and existing Clients.

Premier Property Maintenance offers a comprehensive range of services including;  Fully managed bathroom and kitchen installation  Electrical and plumbing certificates for landlords  All aspects of electrical work covered by NIC installers  Plumbing and heating engineer  All aspects of carpentry work covered  Wall and floor tiling  Plastering and cornice work

 Painting and decorating including wallpaper  Roofing - slate and tiled  Brickwork  Laying of laminate and wooden flooring  Conservatory project manage and installation  Fully project managed garden landscaping  Window and conservatory cleaning

www.premierpm.co.uk info@premierpm.co.uk 01438 230943 / 07531 229067

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SHIRON

Domestic Appliances Repairs of

Washing Machines Tumble Dryers Dishwashers Electric Ovens Electric Cookers Microwaves Vacuum Cleaners and all domestic appliances. VAT Registered. Specialist in Hotpoint, Indesit, Ariston, Creda and Whirlpool appliances.

Contact RONNIE Tel: 01438 720 304 Mobile: 07739 922493 Chase HP advert_ppl.pdf 1 14/09/2017

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CHASEHOUSE DEVELOPMENTS LTD All aspects of general building and landscaping undertaken. Driveways | Patios | Fencing Garden walls | Block paving Turf | Artificial grass | Decking Please contact Dan for more information and for a free estimate Chasehousedevelopments@outlook.com

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Kitchen | Bedroom | Home Study For all your design, supply and installation needs Family run business

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