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Issue 25 - April 2020

and Town



In this issue Easter Origins Understanding

Global Warming Win £25 in our Prize Crossword

Bringing Local Business to Local People Every Month in Hitchin, Great and Little Wymondley, St Ippolyts, ur Charlton and surrounding areas Yo EE y

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Inside this issue...

Windswept Gardening


Easter Origins........................................................................4 Understanding Global Warming............................................8 Namib Desert......................................................................10 Rechargeable Batteries.......................................................12 National Stop Snoring Week................................................16 Wine: Convenience Matters. The Next Chapter....................19 Easy Eco..............................................................................21 Nick Coffer’s Weekend Recipe..............................................22 Self Help for Sore Throats....................................................25 How to give your wardrobe a make over.............................27 Crisps!.................................................................................29 How to save money when selling your home......................31

Windswept Gardening........................................................34 Recycled Confusion.............................................................37 Container-Grown Fruit........................................................38 Be Prepared.... but don’t panic!...........................................41 Don’t be an April Fool..........................................................42 RSPCA Hertfordshire East News...........................................44 Hertfordshire Libraries........................................................47 Puzzle Page.........................................................................48 It’s the age of ‘Age Tech’......................................................50 What’s On............................................................................52 Prize Crossword.......................................................... 58 Book Review.......................................................................60 Useful Numbers..................................................................63


National Stop Snoring Week

Get your business off to a flying start this year

Advertise with the Villager Magazine... prices start from just £25.00 +VAT per month Editorial - Catherine Rose, Nadia Houston, Solange Hando, Tracey Anderson, Louise Addison, Trevor Langley, Kate Duggan, Nick Coffer, Dr Daisy Mae, Jennie Billings, Ann Haldon, Rachael Leverton, Dr. Clare Becker and Kate McLelland

Advertising Sales/Local Editorial Nigel Frost • Tel 01767 261122 nigel@villagermag.com Photography -VladMax Design and Artwork - Design 9 • Tel 07762 969460 www.design9marketing.co.uk

Publishers Villager Publications Ltd 24 Market Square, Potton, Bedfordshire SG19 2NP Tel: 01767 261122 Email: 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.

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Easter Origins

By Catherine Rose

Or the reason why bunnies lay eggs

Easter is the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection but its annual tradition of a rabbit leaving chocolate eggs for children seems to be an idea out of the imagination of Lewis Carroll. So how did it come about? Although eggs have featured symbolically in ceremonies throughout the world for hundreds of years, the tradition of eggs given at Easter seems to have been born in Europe as long ago as the twelfth century. The Easter Bunny in particular is said to originate in Germany where it was the mystical hare, not a rabbit, who was the giver. This hare was mentioned as early as 1682 in George Franck von Frankenau’s German book About Easter Eggs. And near the turn of last century The Every Women’s Encyclopaedia wrote: “In Germany, it is the timid hare who is supposed to be responsible for the plentiful supply of brightly coloured Easter eggs so eagerly sought for by the children in all manner of hiding places. The hare, therefore, plays a very important part in German Easter observances, and representations of the gentle, long-eared little creature are immensely popular.” Further afield, in the USA, Dutch immigrants to Pennsylvania in the eighteenth century were


telling their children about Osterhase or the Easter Hare. By the time it was mentioned in the San Francisco Call, the hare had become a rabbit: “From Germany – rich in weird traditions – comes the quaint conceit that the week before Easter rabbits are endowed with the power to lay eggs.” But why a hare originally? The hare was once a symbol of the sixteenth century German Lutheran Church because it was believed – perhaps due to its solitary nature – that it could reproduce itself without a mate and was therefore likened to the Virgin Birth. There is another possibility that the idea of an Easter hare was born from the pagan worship of Eostre, the Saxon goddess of spring, who was said to have the altered shape of a hare. The origin of the Easter egg is not certain. Some see it as a symbol of new birth and therefore the Resurrection. It can also be linked to the forty day Christian period of Lent, which represents Christ’s time in the wilderness, when people eat up their last eggs and flour as pancakes on Shrove Tuesday in preparation for the fasting that begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts until Easter. During the Middle Ages eggs were forbidden to be eaten during Lent, which could also be why they

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became central to Easter celebrations. And there would have been plenty of them to use up as hens don’t stop laying because it’s Lent! However, as spring is the time of new birth in nature generally, it is likely that the idea of giving decorated eggs at this time of year began as a pagan one. The tradition of egg gifting has long existed throughout Europe but with different twists on the theme. For example, in Italy it was believed that angels would descend from heaven on Easter Sunday and bless the faithful with a basket of eggs, while in Switzerland Tyrolean musicians would go from house to house performing and receiving eggs as payment. It has long been customary to serve painted or dyed hard-boiled eggs for breakfast on Easter morning. Early dyes would have been natural, made from bark, walnut shells, flowers and onion skins. The eggs were often wrapped in pieces of fabric or decorated with beeswax to provide a ‘resist’ and therefore leave a pattern on the eggshell (a bit like tie-dye). The wealthy also gifted extravagant eggs to one another – gilded and decorated. At Easter in 1885, the Russian Tsar asked Fabergé to make one of his jewelled eggs to present to the Tsarina and there are examples of beautifully made and expensively decorated artificial eggs throughout history.


So how did Easter eggs come to be made of chocolate? The Victorians popularised giving a decorated cardboard egg filled with sweets and chocolates at Easter. At the beginning of the twentieth century, chocolate manufacturers such as Fry’s and Cadbury began cashing in on the idea of marrying the two, the former having produced the first commercially available chocolate Easter egg in 1873. The first eggs were solid but soon they were being manufactured to be hollow so that they could be filled with sweets or toys. There does not seem to be much in the way of records that show how the Easter egg hunt began but as well as the traditional egg hunt, games with eggs such as egg rolling and egg tapping (a bit like conkers) also feature as community activities at Easter, even today. And there is no doubt that they provide a lot of fun for children. Even Queen Victoria was partial to an Easter egg hunt, writing in her diary when she was fourteen: “Mama did some pretty painted and ornamented eggs, and we looked for them [in Kensington Palace gardens].” It was a tradition that she carried on with her own children, giving them moss baskets in which to collect the eggs. There will be many hunts taking place either inside or out this Easter, thanks to the generosity of the Easter Bunny.

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Special Report

Understanding Global Warming By Nadia Houston

The ten-year anniversary of the volcanic ash cloud is nothing to celebrate. All flights in and out of the UK and several other European countries were suspended while ash from a volcanic eruption in Iceland moved south. Up to 4,000 flights were cancelled with no flights allowed into UK airspace for days amid fears of engine damage. Lives were thrown upside down whilst the volcano continued to spew its ash and people waited with bated breath to see in what direction the wind blew. Fast forward to this year’s disaster in the southern hemisphere where record-breaking temperatures and months of severe drought have fuelled a series of massive bushfires across Australia and burned their way through New South Wales and Victoria. Bush, forest and parks were decimated and people (including firefighters) lost their lives. Here we have two situations which have consequences in terms of global warming. Cause or effect? Chicken or egg? During major explosive eruptions, huge amounts of volcanic gas are injected into the stratosphere and greenhouse gases have the potential to promote global warming. It’s ironic that glaciers act like a protective layer and when the ice melts away from the top of a volcanic mountain, it is then free to erupt. The Earth’s climate has changed throughout history and in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 11,700 years ago marking the beginning of human civilisation.


The evidence is compelling, the current trend having particular significance because most of it is the result of human activity since the mid-20th century. Furthermore it is proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented, roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age recovery. Ancient evidence plus modern earth-orbiting satellites have enabled scientists to see the big picture on a global scale. There were once six trillion trees on the planet, yet now there are only three trillion, leading not only to a changing climate but a shrinking habitat for wildlife and harder lives for billions of people. Now, the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) is hoping to restore a trillion trees by 2050, to reverse these trends and create a world where forests are expanding, not shrinking. It can be depressing to hear that glaciers are melting, seas are rising and many species are on the move, migrating to higher, cooler areas. The good news is many of us have become informed. We are travelling responsibly, eating sustainably, reducing our waste, watching what we buy, donating, pledging and volunteering. Our efforts are important. In the UK, we’re getting more energy than ever from renewable sources. Last year, for the first time since the industrial revolution, more energy was generated from zero-carbon electricity than from fossil fuels. And in summer, we went for more than two weeks without using coal to generate electricity at all – the longest period since 1882. While there is still much to be done, it just shows what can be achieved.

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WHAT’S ON AT THE MILL Easter Holiday

EGGSTRAVAGANZA Kids Activity Trail



18th - 25th April

19th - 23rd May

ENGLISH TOURISM one get one FREE WEEK Buy on Mill tours.


13th - 19th May

VEGETARIAN WEEK Celebrate all things veg with our delicious daily specials.


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For full details of all our events please visit our website, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.


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Marking RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the best tips and advice from our head gardener. Special plant offers in the Mill Shop.


www.jordansmill.com Jordans Mill, Holme Mills, Southill Road, Broom, Nr Biggleswade SG18 9JY


Namib Desert

By Solange Hando

West of the Kalahari and the Great Escarpment, the Namib stretches 1,500 km along Namibia’s Atlantic coast and 80 to 160 km inland. This is the oldest desert in the world (some say over 55 million years old), an ‘open space’ that gave its name to Namibia. It’s nature in the raw, a mythical land claiming some of the highest dunes on the planet and laced with river beds, briefly flooded every five or six years but usually bone dry. Hot and arid, it may seem a desolate place, yet about a hundred days a year the ocean fog drifts in, bringing life-giving moisture to a few acacia trees. Plants pop up here and there: spiky melon, dollar bush – so called for its shape – and the resilient mirabilis with just two very long leaves, which can live for over 2,000 years. Fauna includes small geckos and lizards, white ants found nowhere else on earth, rodents, a few springbok and the amazing desert elephants able to survive four to five days without water. Equally well-adapted is the beautiful Oryx gazelle, often wandering on its own with long straight horns silhouetted against sand and sky. In the Namib-Naukluft National Park, the ‘Sea of Sand’ is a world heritage site and for nature lovers the most spectacular attraction, just beyond the dramatic canyon of Sesriem. The park opens in time for sunrise and as you start the 60 km drive across the legendary Sossusvlei area the desert takes your breath away, dazzling colours from


orange and gold to red and pink, spooky shadows, blinding light and clumps of wild sage glowing luminous green. Crowds climb up the iconic Dune 45, seen on every postcard but close to the tarmac and a mere 170 metres high. Number 45 refers to the distance from the park’s entrance, but for real adventurers it all begins at the end of the road. First it’s a 4x4 safari ride, 5 km or so bouncing on a track, then shuffling through the sand to the base of ‘Big Daddy’, the highest dune in the area beckoning at a whopping 325 metres. Ready to climb? Not easy as you crawl up the narrow ridge, no track, only footprints ahead of you, shifting precariously as you attempt to anchor your heels. It’s blazing hot but the views are gorgeous all along the crest, even if you don’t get to the top. For without the slightest warning, a mighty sandstorm might arise, forcing you to slide down to safety as fast as you can on the steepest side. You land in the Deadvlei, a long-dried up marsh now a white clay pan, dotted with the skeletons of camelthorn trees, dead for hundreds of years, never decomposed but scorched by the sun. Yet just as awesome are the mighty dunes rolling along the Skeleton Coast, scattered with shipwrecks and mostly inaccessible – though wonderful views can be enjoyed on a propeller flight, skimming right across the desert in a vast surreal landscape of ever-changing shapes and colours.

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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

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By Tracey Anderson

Rechargeable Batteries Do you have a laptop and a smartphone? How about cordless power tools, or even an electric car? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you will be dependent on rechargeable batteries. I was surprised to learn that rechargeables have been around since 1859! French physicist Gaston Plante developed the lead acid cell. This had a lead anode (the positive bit), a lead dioxide cathode (the negative bit) and a sulphuric acid electrolyte (the chemical connector). The Plante battery was actually the precursor to our modern-day car batteries. Regular non-rechargeable batteries and rechargeables generate current in exactly the same way: through an electrochemical reaction involving the anode, cathode and electrolyte. In a rechargeable battery though the reaction is reversible. So, when electrical energy from an outside source is applied to the battery (i.e. it’s plugged into a charger), the negative-to-positive electron flow that occurs during battery use is reversed, and its charge is restored. The most common rechargeable batteries on the market today are lithium-ion (Li-ion). Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) and nickelcadmium (NiCd) batteries are also used. Nickel-cadmium (NiCd) have been around a long time and are pretty rugged, so they are used where long service life, high discharge current and extreme temperatures are required. They allow very fast charging with

minimal stress so tend to be used in power tools, medical devices, and aviation. Nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) were developed as a replacement for NiCd. They are used for medical instruments, hybrid cars and industrial applications. NiMH is also available in AA and AAA sized rechargeables for consumer use. Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are being used in applications that were previously served by lead and nickel-based batteries. Li-ion batteries have a long life, hold a charge better, operate at higher voltages, and can be made smaller and lighter so they are very popular for phones and laptops etc. But Li-ion batteries


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are not currently available in popular standard sizes such as AAA, AA, C or D, and they’re considerably more expensive. All rechargeable batteries (and the single use variety) contain metals such as cadmium, cobalt and lead that are harmful to the environmental if not disposed of properly. Hence when they reach the end of their life it’s better to keep them out of landfills because these metals can taint the surrounding air, topsoil and groundwater. Remember, even rechargeable batteries will eventually die, though it may take hundreds of charges before that happens. Make sure to dispose of them responsibly at a recycling facility.

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By Louise Addison


April 20th marks the start of National Stop Snoring Week Snoring is the distinctive sound made by vibrations of the soft palate and other tissue in the mouth, nose and throat. It is caused by turbulence which occurs due to a partial blockage that may be located anywhere from the tip of the nose to the vocal cords. During waking hours muscle tone keeps the airway in good shape. When we sleep our throat muscles relax and this decrease in tone can cause airways to narrow and vibrate. Though it can certainly feel like your partner is doing it to annoy you, no-one snores deliberately, and unfortunately it can’t be cured. But it can be controlled. The key to control is to find out the cause of your particular snoring. Snoring can be related to the tongue, nose, mouth, or it can be multi-factorial. Historically it was considered to be a male problem, but it actually affects males to females in the ratio of 2:1. Women tend to under-report and fail to seek help due to embarrassment because even in the 21st century it’s considered ‘unladylike’ to snore! The risk factors for snoring are similar in women to men: being overweight, smoking, and alcohol are common factors, but women also snore more following the menopause and it’s one of the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Snoring is often considered a joke, but it can have a devastating effect on people. Sleep deprivation (both the snorer and their partner) is physically and mentally debilitating and can lead to illness as well as relationship breakdown.


Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a particularly dangerous side-effect of snoring, defined as the cessation of airflow during sleep, preventing air from entering the lungs caused by an obstruction. It is considered clinically significant if a person stops breathing for more than 10 seconds each time and if occurs more than 5 times every hour. OSA only happens during sleep. When you experience an episode of apnoea during sleep your brain will automatically wake you up, usually with a very loud snore or snort, in order to breathe again. People with OSA can experience wakening episodes many times during the night and consequently feel very sleepy during the day. If you are excessively sleepy during the day and feel irritable or restless, you may be suffering from OSA. Your partner may point out that your snoring is loud, often interrupted by pauses and gasps. You might fall asleep at work, whilst driving, or during conversations. You might be forgetful and irritable and suffer with morning headaches. Not everyone who has these symptoms will have sleep apnoea but if you suffer with them a lot, you should seek advice from a medical professional. The British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association (BSSAA) has a very helpful website packed with advice and useful questionnaires and information about all aspects of snoring. They even sell approved anti-snoring devices. The web address is britishsnoring.co.uk Here’s to a peaceful night’s sleep!

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Swiss Garden Photography We are pleased to be running two photography training workshops in the stunning surroundings of the Shuttleworth Swiss Garden. £85.00 per person Available on two dates: Wednesday 20 May 2020 Thursday 20 August 2020

Aviation Photography

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Spitfire Photography

These workshops are themed around the Supermarine Spitfire Mk V (AR501), and you spend the entire day getting up close and personal to this historic airframe. £175.00 per person Available on two dates: Thursday 11 June 2020 Wednesday 5 August 2020

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18 Villager - FP April 2020.indd


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Food and Drink

Wine: Convenience Matters The Next Chapter

Various types and styles of wines are widely available in these modern times. Red, white, something in between, sparkling, dry, medium, sweet, are several of the choices to be considered, when selecting wine. Also, organic, plus wines suitable for vegetarians and vegans are further available options.

Chile produces splendid wines and I found the Chilean Valle wines to be excellent. Valle De Casablanca Reserva Chardonnay is a white wine pleaser for many occasions. The climate of the Casablanca Valley has cooling breezes, to create perfect conditions for the growing of grapes. This Chardonnay flavour is fresh, with the mouthfeel and palate appreciating a good, balanced production. Pairs perfectly with salmon and other fish dishes, plus chicken and white meats. Valle De Leyda Reserva Sauvignon Blanc is another white wine which is extremely popular. This is a bright, refreshing wine, tending towards floral in style and wonderful to accompany salads and seafood. Staying with Valle De Leyda, Reserva Pinot Noir is very popular with red wine lovers. Juicy red fruits on the nose lead enticingly to the mouth’s pleasures, for this smooth, powerful production. Accompanies tuna fish and red meat dishes, particularly well. Valle Del Maule Reserva Merlot is a further, often-selected, red wine. The Merlot grape produces exceptionally good wines, which are full and rich. Powerful and fabulous with numerous dishes, including casseroles and red meats. Vine & Bloom offers Pinot Grigio (Italy) vegan wine. Described as ‘crisp and appley’ (agreed) I found this production refreshing and pleasantly light. An excellent white to accompany a lot of cuisine. Vine & Bloom Merlot (Italy) vegan wine is described as ‘smooth and juicy’ (again, an accurate description, which I agree with). Dark fruits, on the nose and mouthfeel, continue through to the palate’s sensation and enjoyment. A smooth and very popular red wine to pair with numerous dishes. Other vegan wine productions are available, too. I located these wines at a Spar store. Founded during 1932, Spar now has shops in over 40 countries. Spar convenience stores stock numerous items, for everyday needs, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to suit all tastes and palates. www.spar.co.uk/wine www.spar.co.uk

As always, Enjoy!

ey Trevor Langl

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By Kate Duggan

Easy Eco

There are plenty of planet-friendly beauty brands to choose from these days, but that certainly wasn’t the case when Weleda launched back in 1921. The brand’s original focus on helping the body to heal itself with plants still holds true today. Ethics are firmly embedded throughout the company. Growers receive a fair wage, all products are at least vegetarian and Weleda’s buildings are powered with renewable energy. Weleda also believes in giving back so supports a range of initiatives, from wellness retreats for cancer patients to wildflower planting schemes. Hero products include its multi-award winning Skin Food and the gorgeously scented Wild Rose range. See www.weleda.co.uk. British brand Neal’s Yard Remedies (www. nealsyardremedies.com) has been making and selling sustainable skin and hair care products for almost forty years. Ingredients are organic where possible and all are sustainably sourced. Its factory runs on renewable energy, including from its own solar panels. The company helped to get plastic microbeads banned from cosmetic products. It’s funded the protection of more than one million square metres of tropical forests and the Bee Lovely range raises money for bee-friendly charities. The brand is aiming to have protected fifty million bees by the end of this year. Eco-cleaning brand Splosh also sells hand wash and shower gel. You get bottles with your first order and refill pouches from then on. The refills are super-concentrated – you pour a small

Trying to do your bit for the planet? Switching to eco-friendly toiletries is an easy place to start…

amount of the gel into an empty bottle and top it up with water. Once you have eight empty pouches, you can post them back to Splosh for free to be recycled. It’s a great way to save plastic if you prefer liquid wash to bars of soap. As well as saving plastic, you’ll also save money as the refills work out a good bit cheaper than leading eco brands. (They also perform a lot better in my opinion.) All Splosh products are cruelty-free, vegan-friendly and designed to be gentle to the environment. See www.splosh.com. Green People (www.greenpeople.co.uk) mainly uses organic ingredients, has never tested on animals and will plant a tree for every order over £40 in 2020. All packaging can be recycled, but the company is planning to move all of its products to renewable sugar cane packaging over the next couple of years. The brand donates 10% of its net profit to charity; previous recipients include the Marine Conservation Society and a children’s hospice. Try the award-winning Vita Min Fix 24 Hour Cream, which is packed with nourishing plant and seed oils that your skin will lap up. One of the easiest ways to buy sustainable toiletries and cosmetics is to head to a shop or website that specialises in them. Holland and Barratt is a good choice if you want a high street shopping experience, or try www.lovelula.com, www.biggreensmile.co.uk, www.naturisimo.com or www.ethicalsuperstore.com.

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Food & Drink

Quick salmon miso ramen noodles with crunchy vegetables On my Weekend Kitchen show, I often take a microphone into my own kitchen and record myself making recipes at home. They are great ways of showing how you can make lovely home-cooked food in double-quick time. This lovely broth is a great example of that. It can be on the table in barely five minutes and just feels so healthy and good for you. I cheat with the store-bought ingredients, but that makes it all the easier to make. Ingredients 1 litre vegetable stock (use a good quality cube, powder or pot) 2 tsp Miso paste Garlic and ginger stir-fry oil Chilli sauce (to taste) Japanese soy sauce 1 pack ready cooked noodles 2 x 150g salmon fillets, cut downwards into 1 cm thick squares 1 large leek, sliced 1 pack mange tout, or similar 1. Make up your stock and stir through the miso paste. Check it for taste – you can always add a little more if you like more of the salty, nutty taste that miso paste gives. 2. Addafewdropsofchillisaucedependingon your taste and spice levels.

Serves 2 3. Keep the stock on a gentle simmer. 4. Prepare two deep large round bowls. 5. Give the noodles a quick blitz in the microwave to heat them and soften them a little. Share them between the two bowls. 6. Heat a pan on a high heat and pour in a good glug of the stir-fry oil. Flash fry the leeks and greens for a minute. They won’t need more as they’ll continue to cook in the broth. 7. Share the veg between the two bowls, on top of the noodles. 8. Add a little oil again and chuck in the salmon. Cook the pieces quickly on both sides. Drizzle in some soy sauce so they take on a colour. 9. Again, share the salmon between the two bowls and fill each bowl with stock. 10. Serve immediately and enjoy.

Hear wonderful recipes on Nick Coffer’s Weekend Kitchen every Sunday morning on BBC Three Counties radio at 11am. You can also join Nick every weekday afternoon at midday for brilliant local guests with great stories to tell and all the music you want for your early afternoon.


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IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A HIGH-QUALITY KITCHEN MAKEOVER FOR UP TO 50% LESS THAN A NEW FULLY FITTED KITCHEN, WHY NOT PAY A VISIT TO DREAM DOORS EAST HERTS SHOWROOM IN WARE Highly-experienced owners Carly and Tom promise you a warm welcome. More importantly they will help you design and create your ideal kitchen using our impressive range of highquality products and can typically reface your kitchen in as little as two to three days. Dream Doors is the UK’s #1 kitchen makeover specialist and we take the hassle out of your kitchen revamp from the very beginning. Once we’ve arranged a free, no obligation visit to your home - at a time that’s convenient for you we will measure up your kitchen. Our experienced kitchen designers can then talk you through our extensive range of products and help you narrow down your selection. No matter if your style is traditional, contemporary, exclusive, modern or classic we have a range of doors and worktops that will suit you and your style.

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By Dr Daisy Mae, Freelance Health Writer https://healthcarewriterdr.com/

Self Help for Sore Throats We all know that dreaded feeling: you wake up with such a painful throat that it feels like you are swallowing sandpaper. Do you need to see a doctor? Do you need to stay off work? Should you take an antibiotic? What causes a sore throat? In adults and in children aged under 5, around 95% of sore throats are caused by viruses. There are also non-infectious causes of a sore throat; smoking, the effects of passive smoking, snoring, shouting and use of some medicines, such as steroid inhalers. Two types of sore throat Have a look in the mirror. - Pharyngitis - Your throat will be generally red and inflamed. - Tonsillitis - Your tonsils will be swollen and red, covered with a tonsillar fluid, and may contain spots of pus. The tonsils are two pads of lymphoid tissue, like two pillars, one on either side, at the back of your throat. You can survive without your tonsils, but most experts agree it’s best not to remove them. Self–care for your sore throat Both pharyngitis and tonsillitis are likely to resolve within 3-4 days but there is plenty you can do to ease your symptoms. 1. Rest is often enough. If you feel you will not be productive at work and may infect other work colleagues, it’s really best to stay away. 2. Drink plenty of fluids. 3. Take paracetamol regularly to help reduce your temperature. Take ibuprofen (provided you haven’t been advised not to) as this will help reduce the pain.

4. Other treatments such as throat sprays, lozenges and antiseptic mouthwashes may be helpful. 5. Try gargling with saltwater. 6. Try not to smoke – this will make your symptoms worse. When to see a doctor See the doctor if your symptoms last more than four days, are worsening, if you can’t eat or drink, or if you have large, pus-covered tonsils. When do you need an antibiotic? In both pharyngitis and tonsillitis, your throat will hurt and you may have symptoms such as tiredness, fever and difficulty swallowing. A sore throat may also be a symptom of a cold, or an attack of influenza. General symptoms like these will not respond to an antibiotic. People with tonsillitis tend to be more unwell, with a high fever (temperature of over 38°C), and general malaise. Other symptoms may include a cough, a hoarse voice, sore glands in the neck and bad breath. Should you have your tonsils removed? The NHS is concerned that too many children are having unnecessary tonsillectomies. This refusal to operate can be very frustrating for parents whose children are repeatedly ill. However, tonsillectomy carries risks, children do tend to ‘grow out of it’ and there is some evidence that children who have their tonsils out may have an increased risk of asthma and other respiratory problems in later life. Nevertheless repeated bouts of tonsillitis, particularly in adults, may lead to a recommendation of a tonsillectomy.

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House of Colour

How to give your wardrobe a make over and a spring clean Is your wardrobe a mess? Lose things? Wear the same things repeatedly because you can’t see what’s there? Spring is the perfect time to have a serious wardrobe sort out and clear out. It has also never been more important to be environmentally conscious about fast fashion and how to take care of our clothes. 1. Know your colours and styles – Ok I would say this but by knowing your seasonal colour palette, what colours truly suit you, and then the styles that work with your body architecture and personality, all of your clothes should work well with each other. It is a waste of money and bad for the environment to have a wardrobe full of colours and styles that you never wear because they feel wrong somehow. 2. Have a clear out, before you go shopping for something new. This means embracing a mindset which appreciates the clothes you already have and only buying key pieces that are missing. Do you already have 19 pairs of navy trousers? Think about making your wardrobe feel inviting and organised, not troubled and cluttered! If you haven’t worn something for a year, rehome or recycle. Be ruthless so you can see what you already have and what you love so you can wear it. 3. Create a capsule wardrobe. This doesn’t mean having only ten items of clothing on rotation. It means being conscious of every purchase you make and having clothes that coordinate well and can be worn with different separates for different occasions, rather than a top only working with one pair of trousers and only seeing the light of day once a year. 4. Only buy clothes that you really need or you can’t live without. If you need it, AND love it, it makes you feel incredible and you can re-wear it to make a satisfactory cost per wear then buy it! Also only buy it in the sale if you would have bought it at its original price because you love it that much! 5. Get Organised. Store coats in a separate area as they can be bulky and heavy. Use specialist hangers for belts, ties and scarves and recycle any you aren’t going to wear or if you have too many similar ones. If you have room keep similar coloured or type of shoes together so you can make quick choices. Keep dust-bags in special handbags in particular so they keep their shape.

6. Host a swap party. Organise a party with your friends to swap clothes, scarves and necklaces that you just don’t wear for whatever reason. Make sure the heating is turned up so people are comfortable to try clothes on, have some delicious bites to eat and some chilled wine and hopefully you too will enjoy picking up a few new pieces for free. 7. Find a tailor! So the colour is right, and the fit seems right but for some reason you never wear that pair of trousers or that dress. Sometimes a piece may just need a small alteration to make them perfect for you such as the length of a hemline, sleeve or neckline. It really can make all the difference and give a lease of life to something you always wanted to wear. 8. Dye clothes and shoes. Dyeing shoes is much easier than it might seem. Canvas and silk type shoes dye particularly well but search online to see if those brown boots can actually be made into lizard grey or whatever suits your colour palette. Just make sure they are as clean as possible before you dye them, so you don’t dye any obvious stains or marks. 9. Buy matching, wooden hangers so your clothes hang evenly, and it will be easier to move around and therefore see what you have. Hang your trousers full-length from the hem if you have the vertical space using hanger clamps. Keep knitwear folded on shelves, never hang on hangers to avoid the horrible little stretched shoulders they can create. By Jennie Billings, Colour and Style Consultant, House of Colour www.houseofcolour.co.uk/jenniebillings e:jennie.billings@houseofcolour.co.uk

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A FREE WILL for Homeowners Protect your home and legacy for your children • • • • • •

Keep your hard-earned wealth within the family Stop your home from being sold to pay for long term Care Fees. Prevent the courts from making your financial and healthcare decisions. If you already have a Will … Is it up to date? Several thousand outdated wills are legally challenged every year. Ensure your parents’ home and property is also protected.

DON’T PUT IT OFF – Don’t let your home and money disappear, make sure your estate goes to your family… leaving “what you want” to “who you want”. CALL 01767 660250 for more information or to book a free meeting with one of our Will and Estate Planners either in your own home or at our offices. Baystrait Ltd t/a Will & Estate Planning, Baystrait House, Station Road, Biggleswade, SG18 8AL


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Food & Drink

By Tracey Anderson

Who doesn’t love a bag of crisps? They are so moreish you can never eat just one. They were reportedly invented by a chef named George Crum who created them in 1853 at Moon’s Lake House near Saratoga Springs, New York. Legend has it that a customer kept sending his fried potatoes back to the kitchen, complaining that they were soggy, and not crunchy enough. Fed up with the constant griping Crum sliced the potatoes as thin as possible, fried them in hot fat, then doused them with salt. The customer loved them and “Saratoga Chips” were born! They quickly became a popular item at the lodge and throughout the whole of New England. The crisps (or chips as they are called in the US) began to be mass-produced for home consumption. Originally, they were sold in barrels or tins, and quickly went stale. In the 1920s, Laura Scudder invented the airtight bag by ironing together two pieces of waxed paper, thus keeping the crisps fresh longer. Today, they are packaged in plastic or foil bags and come in a variety of flavours though ready salted and salt and vinegar remain the most popular.

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How to save money when selling your home Selling your home can sometimes entail eyewatering costs that considerably reduce any profit you make from the sale, but saving money throughout the process is possible if you’re prepared and understand the various fee systems involved. So what fees might you face in your efforts to move up or down the property ladder and how can you save money at each step? Estate agency fees How do estate agency fees work? Estate agency fees are typically expressed as a percentage of the final selling price, and this fee is known as commission. ‘No sale, no fee’ is a common method used by ‘traditional’ estate agents to charge commission, whereas online agencies typically charge their fees upfront or by way of a deferred credit agreement. How to save money on estate agency fees • Negotiate Fee negotiations don’t just have to be downwards, although this is always a good first option. They can also be creative in the sense that they increase the agent’s motivation to achieve a sale. • Don’t use an agency You can save thousands of pounds if you don’t use an estate agency, but you also need to factor in the time and effort needed to sell your own home Legal fees How do legal fees work? In a similar way to estate agents, some solicitors and conveyancers base their fees on your home’s value. Others use a fixed fee structure that

provides more certainty to both parties. The final cost in legal fees when selling your home will depend on the complexity of the transaction. How to save money on legal fees • Obtain several quotes Shop around for a few quotes or approach those referred to you by trusted friends. • Buying and selling? If you’re both buying and selling a property, you can save money on legal fees by using the same solicitor for both transactions. Removal fees How do removal fees work? There are many factors that determine a removal firm’s fees, including whether or not you pack your boxes yourself, how many belongings you need to move, the proximity of your moving date and the distance to your new home. How to save money on removal fees • Book well ahead of moving day You could secure a significant discount by booking a removal firm well in advance of your move, and don’t forget to negotiate them down if appropriate. • Move yourself If you don’t have many belongings to move, you could hire a van and move yourself. You’ll need to factor in the cost of hiring the van, the fuel needed to travel to and from the properties (potentially several times), insurance for ‘goods in transit’ and the packaging materials. Planning ahead is key to saving money when selling your home. It’s definitely possible to secure some good deals with removal firms if you approach them early, and if you shop around and negotiate you can even save money with the estate agent and solicitor.

By Ann Haldon

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Windswept Gardening

By Pippa Greenwood

Creating a garden in a windswept spot is possible by making it easier for plants to survive, but there are also plants that are tougher than you might think. So what should you do, and what should you grow? If possible, choose miniature or dwarf varieties of plants – as they are closer to the ground, they enjoy some protection from the prevailing winds and so have the chance to put on a decent show. Creating a windbreak – such as hedge – gives a great improvement. Native hedging plants including hawthorn, blackthorn, guelder rose, wild rose and some field maple are available for planting bare root at a very reasonable price. It will take a few years for a small, new hedge to get established, so in the meantime erect a man-made barrier such as some hurdles. If you don’t want a hedge, erect something like a fence, which allows some wind through. Avoid solid windbreaks like walls, as they can cause turbulence and worsen the wind and cold on the garden side of the barrier. Make the most of those areas of your garden that are less exposed, and don’t ‘waste’ those prized positions on tougher plants. Many bulbs are hardy or low to the ground, so consider crocus, chinodoxa, anemone, Iris reticulata, cyclamen (hardy forms only) or dwarf narcissus such as Tete-a-Tete and Peeping Tom. A number of rock plants do well in exposed gardens. Try Campanula portenschlagiana (a creeping form of the pretty bellflower), Sempervivum (the rosette-forming house leeks), low-growing hebes, Erigeron daisies,


Helianthemum and Veronica spicata. Some annual flowers with delicate colourful blooms are tougher than they look, and many of these are easy and inexpensive to grow from seed. Consider wallflowers, petunias, evening primrose, Echium, flax, calendulas, sweet William, clarkia, Californian poppies, Lavatera trimestris and candy tuft. Sow or plant perennials for colour that will return year after year. There are often some bargains to be had at this time of year when small pots of perennials are available from most garden centres for only a few pounds each. The stately hardier form of Yucca filiamentosa (related to the popular houseplant) adds structure and impact; also consider the New Zealand flax (Phormium), Sedum spectabile (the ice plants), Phlomis, Lavatera maritima, Kniphofia caulescens (a form of red-hot poker), Centranthus ruber, Japanese anemones, Eryngium, Agapanthus and Euphorbia characias. For a little more height and longer-term structure then a few shrubs are a welcome addition to a windy or exposed garden. Many of the delicate flowered Cistus do well: Fuchsia magellanica, Euonymus fortunei, Escallonia, Elaeagnus and the dwarf species of Cotoneaster such as Cotoneaster horizontalis should fit the bill. At Pippa’s website (www.pippagreenwood.com) you’ll find stylish cloches, practical and pretty plant supports, Nemaslug and other great ‘green’ controls, the fantastic SpeedHoe, gardening tools, Grower Frames, signed books and the ‘Grow Your Own with Pippa’ system. Or book Pippa for a talk at your gardening club.

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Collection & Delivery of Loose Aggregates Building Sand • Sharp Sand • Ballast • MOT Type 1 • 10 & 20mm shingle Top Soil • Granite Dust • Cements • Drainage • EASYjoint • Sleepers

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Recycled Confusion Despite much of our waste bearing the recycle symbol, most councils don’t have the facilities to process everything. You will correctly believe that items such as glass bottles, cardboard and plastic drinks bottles are processed. But toiletries bottles and aerosols? What about plastic food trays. And broken drinks glasses… admit it, you probably don’t really know. Paper: In your kerbside collection most paper will be collected and recycled. But this excludes shredded paper, tissues, photographs and gift wrap. Glass: Bottles and jars are widely recycled and the Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) will usually take panes of glass or mirrors. But normal drinking glasses should just be carefully wrapped and placed in the household waste bin. Toiletries: Anything bottle-shaped - including empty toiletries bottles and used aerosols – should be fine. Face-wipes, cotton pads and mixed products like plastic razors go into household waste. Plastic: Most councils can’t recycle ready meal/takeaway trays or yoghurt pots. There are a number of reasons for this, related both to the way these products are manufactured and the facilities councils have for recycling, but check with your own council. Tetrapak/drinks cups: containers used for orange juice, non-dairy milks and soup, together with plasticlined cups provided in coffee shops, are not usually acceptable in a kerbside collection. Some councils do have facilities at recycling centres. Finally, remember that if you put non-recyclables into the wrong bin, it could contaminate the whole lot meaning nothing is recycled. And that would be a waste.

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Garden View

By Rachael Leverton

Container-Grown Fruit April is the perfect month for planting containergrown fruit trees and bushes. Even if your garden space is limited you can still grow fruit trees and bushes. You can even grow them in containers on a balcony. The trick is to read the label. Look for dwarf varieties that won’t grow too large for your pot or garden. It’s a good idea to buy self-fertile plants too, especially if you don’t live in an area where lots of people grow their own fruit. Even on a small plot buy the biggest pot you can fit into the available space. Bigger pots hold more compost, so they contain more food, more water and more space for strong root growth. Make sure the pot has drainage holes and cover the base with drainage material. Handy hint – if wind is a problem on your site use heavy material like broken crockery or stones to add weight, whereas if you will need to be able to move the pot easily use polystyrene chunks, which are very lightweight. Fill the container with a loam-based potting compost. Remove the tree or shrub from its original pot, spread the roots a little and plant it in the new container to the same depth. Water the compost well initially and then whenever the surface is dry. If you want to plant your fruit tree in the garden dig a hole as deep as the root system, and about three times the width. Place the plant into the hole and refill it. Then firming the soil with your foot. If the tree is in an exposed area you might need to stake it.


Fruit is very easy to grow, and there are a huge variety of fruit trees or bushes to suit every garden size and aspect, so you’re bound to find the perfect plant for your space. Try: Dwarf apple trees, which provide interest all year round as well as fruit in the autumn. Any of the currants. Blackcurrants are particularly nice. They are low maintenance and great in jams and pies. They like a sunny spot and plenty of water. Raspberries are lovely. They fruit in summer and like a sheltered sunny spot. You buy raspberry canes rather than bushes. Look for a thorn-free variety. Blueberries grow really well and are great for growing in a container because they like acid soil and in a container, this is easy to provide. Look for ericaceous compost which you should keep moist because like most soft fruits they are quite thirsty plants. Collect rainwater for the purpose as blueberries are not keen on tap water. I like to grow strawberries in large hanging baskets to make the most of the space. They are easy to grow this way but make sure you keep them well fed with a high potash fertiliser as nutrients leach away from hanging baskets very easily. I protect all my container-grown soft fruit with netting my garden birds tend to view my patio display as a rolling all-season buffet laid on especially for their benefit.

Happy Gardening!

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• • • • • •

Driveways For a free quotation or advice Paving call Robin on Patios 01462 815968 07785 530558 Fencing Decking Garden Design & Build

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The Orange Property Improvements Group @Orangepropertyimprovementsgroup

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Be Prepared

Be Prepared… but don’t panic!

By Clare Becker

Zombie apocalypse movies are perennially popular. Human beings love to imagine how we might survive after a global disaster. Recent flooding and the coronavirus have prompted an interest in ‘prepping’, as in ‘prepping for disaster’. Preppers have historically been cast alongside conspiracy theorists, and American survivalists, who build bunkers, live ‘off-grid’ and are scarier than any imaginary zombie. As flooding and extreme weather become ‘normal’ events in the UK, and every year seems to bring a new pandemic threat it’s easy to see why people feel helpless, and why ‘prepping’ becomes seductive. Should we prepare for imminent disaster? The answer isn’t a straightforward yes or no. In this country we are fortunate that food is plentiful. However, food is supplied on a ‘just-in-time’ basis, using predictions based on the public’s past shopping habits. If everyone shops normally, supply and demand remain balanced, but if large numbers of people suddenly panic-buy more than usual to stockpile food, shelves are stripped bare pretty quickly. It makes sense to be aware of this and to think about how we might manage if there was a temporary hiccup in our own food supply chain, perhaps because poor weather or flooding prevents us from accessing shops, or because we’re confined to our home through illness or quarantine. It does no harm to plan how we might be more self-reliant for a week or so, and to make sure that we have a basic emergency store cupboard. I would advise against specialist emergency food packs you see advertised. They are expensive, and freeze-dried food tastes like garden mulch. A few extra tins in

your weekly shop is easy for most people to achieve. Remember, in most instances you will already have food in, which can be used up first. Useful items for an emergency store cupboard: tinned meats, tinned vegetables, tinned beans, pulses and chickpeas, tinned soups and packet soups, tinned fruit, a large bag of rice, a large bag of porridge oats, cooking oil, salt, honey, long-life milk, long-life orange juice, packs of cereal, cereal and protein bars, dried fruit. If you live in an area where flooding and therefore water contamination is likely allow 2 litres of bottled water per person per day for drinking and cooking. A simple emergency store cupboard can be built up over a couple of months quite easily by adding a few extras into your weekly shop. A can opener is essential. Torches, batteries, and a camping stove insure against loss of electricity, and loo roll, bleach, hand sanitiser, paracetamol, ibuprofen, plasters and disinfectant are useful health and medical items. If you live in a flood zone, make sure your supplies are stored high up. Use a vermin-proof storage box in the coolest place possible, and every so often move items out into your regular cupboards, and replace them, to make sure that nothing goes beyond its sell-by date. One last thing. We all have important documents filed away such as birth certificates, passports, insurance documents and house deeds. Ideally these should be stored in a fire and waterproof deed box to protect them. A little thought and preparation goes a long way. No bunker required!

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Don’t be an April Fool

The tech scams to watch out for this spring

all ills; auction scammers who sell fake or broken items without disclosing their status; get-richquick schemes, dodgy lotteries and other dubious supposed moneymakers. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is. Trying to fool people can be big business. In late 2019, Indian police shut down two call centres that were targeting UK residents by pretending to be Microsoft technical support staff. One victim, retired businessman Richard Varey, lost £4,000 – and City of London Police say they’re contacted by 2,000 people like Richard every month. The police have made four smart suggestions that can help you prevent being sucked in by such scams. One, don’t assume a cold caller is who they say they are; two, call the organisation back on a published phone number to check whether the call is real; three, don’t trust Caller ID on your phone because it’s easy to fake; and four, never call phone numbers listed on pop-up messages telling you there’s a problem with your computer.

We all know the rules around April fools: once the clock strikes noon, the pranks stop. Unfortunately that isn’t the case for the online villains that try to fool us with fake emails, fake virus warnings and other issues – and some of those scams can leave the victims seriously out of pocket. So how can you keep yourself safe from the scammers? Step one is to trust nobody. One of the most common kinds of scams is called ‘phishing’, which is when fraudsters create a convincing-looking fake email purportedly from your bank, from PayPal, from eBay and so on. They’re traps: the sites they link to are also fake, and they’re designed to trick you into entering your username and password. If you do, the villains can use those details and start spending your money – and because so many people use the same details on multiple sites, the fraudsters can often access multiple sites too. Many security packages can detect phishing emails, but they’re not 100% reliable so it’s important to stay cynical. A new and worrying kind of scam

centres around bank transfer payments. Fraudsters pose as genuine tradespeople or service providers and send a convincinglooking invoice with the bank details they want you to transfer money to. According to payment processing firm ShieldPay, in the UK alone such frauds cost UK bank customers a whopping £207.5 million in 2019 – and on average, victims were only able to get back 48% in compensation from their banks. 15% didn’t get any compensation at all because the banks found they hadn’t taken ‘reasonable care’ to avoid being tricked. Whether it’s fake emails or fake invoices, it’s a good idea to assume that anything unsolicited that appears in your email inbox is a fraud: if in doubt, call your bank or tradesperson on the phone (and don’t use any numbers listed in the suspicious emails – they can be faked too). Never, ever transfer money if there’s the slightest possibility that the recipient is a scammer. Some of the oldest scams have been reborn on the internet too: snake oil salesmen selling dodgy products that promise to cure


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Registered Charity No. 208244

RSPCA Hertfordshire East News animals. Give it a try and feel great about making a difference. Contact our Office (telephone number below) and someone will be happy to help you and answer any questions you may have. Here is a list of fund raising events so far:Flag Days Saturday 18th July 10am to 4pm Harpenden Town Centre Saturday 5th September 10am to 4pm Sainsbury, Letchworth Events Sunday 14th June One Fun Day Hitchin Charity Shop Monday 31st August - Ashwell Show

Can you offer a home to one of our cats? Luckily, the three kitties here have already found a forever home, but we have lots of beautiful cats looking for loving new homes. Imagine having your own furry companion eager to welcome you home after a stressful day, curling up on your lap, purring contentedly. For details of our adoption process and to see the cats that we currently have available, please visit our website:https://www.rspca.org.uk/local/hertfordshire-eastbranch/findapet The Hertfordshire East branch was originally established to help sick or abused animals in the local area. The branch is self-funding, meaning it has to rely on solely on raising money from the charity shop, tin collections, events and the generosity of the general public. The RSPCA Head Office makes no regular financial contribution to help the branches. If you can spare your time, we welcome your ideas as a volunteer on fund raising and perhaps organising events with our friendly team of Trustees and volunteers. No idea is stupid and can be thrashed out to make it work. Your contribution will go a long way to alleviate the pain and suffering of local


The Branch has a wonderful Charity shop in Hitchin where many bargains can be found, but at the moment it lacks volunteers. If you enjoy working with a team or on your own this is the place to be, helping customers on the shop floor, or upstairs in the stock room sorting donations, pricing or steaming clothes in preparation for the shop floor. Spend as much time as you can afford to suit you and you will enjoy the experience, camaraderie and gain insight into how the shop helps animal welfare. We look forward to hearing from you. By the time you read this, hopefully the weather should have improved so that your dog or cat can enjoy the outdoors, but remember to give them flea and worm treatments, easily done at home. Groom your pet with a fine-tooth comb then hold the comb over a white surface – any fleas or droppings will be deposited on the surface. Add a few drops of water and it the droppings turn reddish brown it is very likely your pet has fleas. If you spot fleas on your pet, treat quickly, as fleas can give them tape worms and diseases. Wash bedding regularly and vacuum furniture, floors and skirting boards to help destroy fleas at each stage of their lifecycle. Throw away the dust bag from your vacuum after each use. In the event of an emergency or cruelty, please call 0300 1234 999 Branch Office: 01462 672278 Why not follow us on Facebook:www.facebook.com/hertfordshireeastbranch or on our website:www.rspca-hertfordshireeast.org.uk

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Local News

Free Information Online Hertfordshire Libraries can help you with finding information even at home. Our excellent reference library online is free to use with your library membership number and pin code via our website www.hertfordshire. gov.uk/orlib or via the Hertfordshire Libraries App which is free to download. There is a good range of useful and interesting resources. Two great resources which you can find in the General reference section are Britannica Online - the online version of the Encyclopaedia Britannica - and Credo Reference: a resource we recommend to students for projects as it has 1000+ reference books that you can search or browse. This is really useful when researching a subject. Great for Helping your children with homework. Do you like a crossword but always get stuck? Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words past and present. OED contains present-day meanings of words, but you’ll also find the history of individual words, and of the language—traced through 3 million quotations, from classic literature and specialist periodicals to film scripts and cookery books. Or maybe you want to learn something new: Universal Class which you can find in the Learning Section offers a range of courses you can study for free. Other topics include Literature and Music, Business Information, Newspapers and Magazines there really is something for everyone and its good quality up to date information.




Before After

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Codeword 1



























Easy Suduko

Hard Suduko

Fill in the grid so that each row, column and 3x3 box, contains the digits 1 through to 9 with no repetition. Use your logic to solve the puzzles. 48

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Sales Service Repair Call Outs Automation of Existing Gates Residential Commercial


Life Begins...

By Kate McLelland

It’s the age of ‘Age Tech’ There’s a lot of talk these days about the benefits of ‘Age Tech’ – a term coined to describe technological innovations that are designed to improve health and quality of life for older people. Here are a few ideas that have the potential to transform our lives as we age: Virtual reality A virtual reality (VR) headset can generate realistic images, sounds and sensations that simulate a user’s physical presence, either in a virtual environment or in the real world. Using a VR headset it’s possible to explore almost anywhere on earth, from historic sites to caves, mountains to coastal settings. VR also allows you to play games and simulate everyday activities. After a recent trial in American nursing homes and hospices, Billy Agnew, chief executive of virtual reality producer Viarama, told Forbes.com: “We’ve had mountain climbers climbing mountains, we’ve had artists with dementia who have had to give up their life’s work, and we let them draw, paint and sculpt in VR.” Wearables Wearable devices such as smart watches have been popular for several years now. These lightweight, portable devices – generally used to monitor personal health and fitness levels – are now employed in medical settings. Last year the NHS announced that British people at risk of type 2 Diabetes (with an average age of 58 years) would be fitted with wearable technology to monitor their exercise levels. Other wearable tech innovations include blood pressure monitors

and devices that can sense when the wearer has fallen. People with dementia can also benefit from wearing watches fitted with a GPS tracker, so carers can quickly locate them if they have wandered off. Smart speakers Voice-controlled smart speakers can be connected to almost every appliance in the house, allowing you to dim lights, switch on the oven or play music without getting up from your chair. They can also make calls, check the weather, let you listen to podcasts, create a shopping list and answer essential questions. The smart speaker can also be used to set reminders: prompting the user to take their medicine at the right time, or tune in to a favourite radio broadcast or TV show. Remote monitoring An aging relative living alone can be a source of worry for many families, particularly if family members don’t have time to check on them every day. Remote monitoring systems can take away a lot of the stress


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by simply observing normal patterns of behaviour within the elderly person’s home and issuing an alert when something unusual occurs. These systems operate through a series of remote sensors, picking up the resident’s movements, together with the home’s ambient temperature, without the need for invasive cameras or microphones. In addition, the system allows family members to see exactly when visitors have called and how long they have stayed. These clever gadgets may sound futuristic, but they are all available to buy and use now. At a time when the future of social care looks uncertain and many care homes are struggling to survive, the hope is that such innovations can help us live independently and well in our own homes for longer. www.weforum.org/ agenda/2019/07/no-longer-justfor-the-young-70-of-seniors-arenow-online www.ageing-better.org.uk/ news/lets-stop-talking-abouttechnology-older-people

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n O s ’ t Wha In April

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

1 April North Herts Association of National Trust 7.30pm Christchurch, Bedford Road, Hitchin Visitors £2. ‘The Reverend Henry Small of St Albans and the Missing £20,000’ with Jon Mein, who has a background in both history and law. The talk explores a surprising story that attracted the attention of the then Prime Minister and involved an inspiring resolution. Visitors welcome. Membership of National Trust not necessary. Tel: Secretary Mrs Colette House 01462 815585 Email: colettehouse@gmail.com

2, 9, 16, 23 & 30 April Stevenage Plus Social Group 8.15pm for 8.30pm Holiday Inn Express (opposite Matalan), Stevenage £2 - first night free. A fun and friendly social group with members in their 30s and 40s from Stevenage, North Herts and surrounding areas. We have a varied programme of events on Thursday and Saturday evenings as well as day trips and weekends away. New members always welcome. Tel: 01438 231550. Email: welcome@stevenage.plus Web: www.stevenageplus.co.uk

2 April A Christmas Carol GCSE Revision and Performance 10am-12.30pm The British Schools Museum, 41/42 Queen Street, Hitchin £5. GCSE revision for Years 9, 10 and 11 with school groups or as individuals. For those who enjoy Dickens and want to learn through experiencing a Dickens-style performance. Includes a one-man performance of the key scenes by Matthew Jones, followed by discussion and activities led by a qualified teacher. Book online. Tel: 01462 420144 Website: www.britishschoolsmuseum.org.uk

2, 9, 16, 23 & 30 April Sapphire Social Club 8.30pm The Orange Tree, Hitchin A small and friendly group for single people generally aged 50 and above, offering a variety of social events during the month and the opportunity to meet and make new friends. Tel: Joyce 07952 678021 or Ian 07900 890583 Web: www.sapphiresocialsinglesclub.co.uk

2 April The Arts Society North Herts Doors open 10.15am, 11am-12.15pm Broadway Cinema and Theatre, Eastcheap, Letchworth Visitors £7 on the door. ‘Chagall - Wandering Jew or Citizen of the World’ by Monica Bohm-Duchen. A talk tracing Chagall’s long, chequered and colourful career. Visitors welcome. Lift access. Web: theartssocietynorthherts.org.uk 2, 9, 16, 23 & 30 April The Hitchin Thursday Club 9.30am-12 noon St John’s Community Hall, Hitchin A friendly group which meets every Thursday morning for recreational painting, drawing, etc. The group is very easy going in its attitude to art - only doing your own thing. Still Life and raffle every month. No qualifications required - just come along with your drawing gear and you’ll receive a very warm welcome. Tel: Pauline 01767 315553

2, 16, 23 & 30 April Roundabouters Country Dance Club 8-10pm Friends Meeting House, Cuttys Lane, Stevenage £3, annual membership £5. Friendly club for English country dancing – enjoyable, easy to learn and very sociable. We welcome new members, both beginners and experienced, couples and individuals. All dances walked through; club and guest callers ensure a varied programme. Tel: 01438 727239 Email: roundabouters@live.co.uk Web: www.roundabouters.org.uk 3 April LGBT Meet up and Support Group 7-10pm The Radcliffe Arms, Hitchin Meets first Friday of each month. Email: katiewilsonmind@gmail.com Find us on Facebook Hitchin LGBT

2, 9, 16, 23 & 30 April Slimming World 3.30, 5.30 & 7.30pm St. John’s Community Centre, Hitchin Tel: Sarah 07986 947330

3 April RSPB Hitchin & Letchworth Local Group 7.30pm Letchworth Settlement, Nevells Road, Letchworth Garden City Local group members free, Visitors £3 ‘Owls, a cultural history’ with Mike Toms. Mike, author of the New Naturalists tome ‘Owls’, explores the changing ways we have viewed owls through the centuries and how this has shaped our current conservation interest in them. Tel: 01763 249459 Email: martinrjspc@hotmail.com

2, 9, 16, 23 & 30 April Stevenage Bridge Club 7.30pm Priory Nursery, Stanmore Road, Old Stevenage To play Duplicate Bridge. A host system is run to find partners, if required. A wide level of ability play at the club. Tel: Phil Cooper 07957 813434

3, 17 & 24 April Springfield House Friday Bridge Club 1.30pm Springfield House (the home of the Old Stevenage Community Centre) To play cut-in Chicago Bridge. Play is informal and friendly. Tel: Richard Bean 01438 221517


4 April Hertfordshire Walks 10am-1pm Tickets £7. 4-5 mile walk starts in Old Knebworth, continues to Graffidge Wood and the Keeper’s Cottage, returns around Knebworth House and then finishes at the village. Mike Clarke, local historian and writer, will be the guest walker. Part of the British Schools Museum’s Dreamers, Radicals & Satirists season. Ticket includes £1 off entry ticket to the museum (T&Cs apply). Tel: 01462 420144 Website: www.britishschoolsmuseum.org.uk 4 April 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 is required to get an entry ticket from the Guardroom. Web: www.rafsignalsmuseum.org.uk 4 April Fairfield Lawn Bowls Club Open Day 2pm Kingsley Avenue, Fairfield Park, Stotfold Just turn up and give lawn bowls a try. Ladies and gents of all ages welcome. Equipment provided and friendly coaches on hand to help. Just wear flat shoes or trainers. No obligation to join New members only £15 for the first season. Social members £10. Licensed bar. Call or email for more information. Tel: Stella 07811 738599 Email: s.wilson662@btinternet.com Web: www.facebook.com/Fairfieldbowls 4 April LEGO Club 2-3pm Hitchin Library £2. For ages 5-8. Children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult. Booking essential as spaces are limited. Tel: 0300 123 4049 5, 19 & 26 April Hare & Hounds Hash House Harriers 11am H5 are a social running and walking club for mixed abilities, meeting every week in the Bedfordshire area. The trail is set by our hare from a local pub and typically lasts 1 hour covering between 3 and 4 miles. Family and dog friendly. Full details of the trails can be found online or via email. Email: info@h5hashers.org.uk Web: www.H5hashers.org.uk 6, 13, 20 & 27 April 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. The club organises regular events, such as dinners, discos, meals, parties, Sunday walks, theatre and concert visits, day and weekend trips and holidays. Tel: Lorna 01438 233657 Web: www.branch-out.org.uk

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n O s ’ t Wha In April

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

6, 20 & 27 April Stevenage New Pathways 1-4pm Friends Meeting House Cuttys Lane, Stevenage £2 inc. hot drink & biscuits. A friendly place to meet and talk over issues in a positive way. Maybe go for walks, bring in speakers, form a craft group. Email: katiewilsonmind@gmail.com 6, 20 & 27 April Staplers Country Dance Club 8-10pm St John’s Community Hall, Hitchin Staplers is a social folk dance club. All dances are walked through first then called and you don’t need to come with a partner. Car parking is available next to the hall. Meets every Monday apart from bank holidays and some school holiday dates. Tel. 01462 624144 www.staplers.org.uk 7 April The British Schools Museum Talk 7pm The British Schools Museum, 41/42 Queen Street, Hitchin Admission £5. ‘Charles Dickens & Edward BulmerLytton – a Literary Bromance: The remarkable story of two of the greatest Victorian writers’ by Clare Fleck and Henry Lytton-Cobbold of Knebworth House. Book online. Tel: 01462 420144 Website: www.britishschoolsmuseum.org.uk 8, 9, 15 & 16 April Easter Activity Days 10am & 1pm The British Schools Museum, 41/42 Queen Street, Hitchin £5 children aged over 4 with an accompanying adult. Make spring baskets and Easter egg decorations. Follow the Easter trail to win a prize. Tel: 01462 420144 Website: www.britishschoolsmuseum.org.uk 14 & 28 April Hitchin & District Probus Club 12 noon for 1pm Priory Hotel, Hitchin Social club for retired and semi-retired professional and business men which meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month for lunch. Organised visits and events throughout the year. New members welcome. Tel: Roger Burt 01438 351891 Email: roger@mazda20.plus.com 15 April Hitchin Flower Club 7 for 7.30pm Church House, Church Yard, Hitchin Visitors £6.50 + materials. ‘A Contemporary Floral Basket’ hands-on workshop. Please contact Michelle for information and booking. Tel: Michelle 01462 637874 Facebook: Hitchin Flower Club-NAFAS

18 April Hertfordshire Walks 10am-1pm Tickets £7. 4-mile walk along Edward Thomas’ Icknield Way: Edward Thomas (1878-1917) Thomas was a poet who wrote extensively on travel. Part of the British Schools Museum’s Dreamers, Radicals & Satirists season. Ticket includes £1 off entry ticket to the museum (T&Cs apply). Tel: 01462 420144 Website: www.britishschoolsmuseum.org.uk 18 April Weston Music Society Concert 7.30pm Weston Parish Church, SG4 7DJ Tickets £16, 19-25 years £5, under 19s free Graham Ross and Clare Consort. A joyful programme for eight voices, ranging from 16th century to the American Songbook. Call or email to reserve tickets. Tel: 01462 790573 Email: felicitylowe@yahoo.co.uk Web: www.westonmusicsociety.org.uk or www.wegottickets.com 19 April RSPB Hitchin & Letchworth Local Group Trip Coach trip to Walberswick. Exploring the habitats between Walberswick and Dunwich, looking for birds such as Dartford warblers and booming bitterns. Pick-ups Hitchin 7.15am, Letchworth 7.30am and Royston 7.50am. Leader Martin Johnson. Tel: 01763 249459 Email: martinrjspc@hotmail.com 19 April Willian Bowls Club 10am-4pm Lower Bowls Green, Norton Common, Icknield Way, Letchworth Free tuition/equipment plus tea and cake! All new Bowlers welcome to come and try bowls. Also from 21 April, any Tuesday at 2pm or Thursday at 6pm. Tel: David on 01462 642790 Web: www.willianbowlsclub.org 20 & 27 April Stevenage Choral Society 7.45-9.45pm Stevenage Music Centre, Nobel School, Stevenage The society meets every Monday during term time. Free the friendly choir with a free session. No audition necessary. Meet like-minded people of all ages and abilities. Try out a wide range of music, from the classics to show songs and be part of a friendly and supportive team, putting on excellent performances whilst having fun. Tel: 01438 365769 Email: info@stevenagechoral.org.uk Web: www.stevenagechoral.org.uk

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21 April Stevenage RSPB Local Group 7.30pm The Friends Meeting House, Cutty’s Lane, Stevenage RSPB Members £3, Non-members £4, Under 18s 50p Richard Pople returns to present his talk entitled ‘Bears, Birds and Whales’, a journey from Vancouver via Alaska to Vancouver Island. Bring-and-buy plant and flower stall. Tel: 01438 226014 Web: www.rspb.org/groups/Stevenage 24 April Hitchin Book Club 5.30pm The Orange Tree, Hitchin £2.50. A friendly group who meets the last Friday of each month. No pressure to read books just turn up for a drink and chat. www.meetup.com/Hitchin-Book-Club/ 26 April Stevenage RSPB Local Group trip to Wicken Fen Non-NT members c. £7.70 + £3 car park, NT members free. An all day visit to Britain’s oldest nature reserve for birds, plants and insects. The walk leader will be Graham Beevor. Grid Ref 154/TL 565705. Postcode CB7 5XP. Meet in reserve car park at 10am. Tel: 01438 232055 Web: ww2.rspb.org.uk/groups/stevenage 2 May Hertfordshire Walks 9am-1pm Tickets £7. 7-mile walk on fairly easy terrain around George Bernard Shaw’s country near Ayot St Lawrence. Peter Briercliffe, history enthusiast and local rambler, will be the guest walker. Part of the British Schools Museum’s Dreamers, Radicals & Satirists season. Ticket includes £1 off entry ticket to the museum (T&Cs apply). Tel: 01462 420144 2 May The British Schools Museum May Festival 10.30am-12.30pm The British Schools Museum, 41/42 Queen Street, Hitchin Free entry. Join in dancing round the Maypole and Country Dancing - wet or fine. The Ramrugge Clog Dancers will be entertaining us. For children 6+ who must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Games for younger children. Tel: 01462 420144 Website: www.britishschoolsmuseum.org.uk 2-4 May Lilley Flower Festival 11am-4.30pm St Peter’s Church, Lilley Celebrating 40 years of the Lilley Flower Festival with displays depicting the themes during this period. Stalls and refreshments in Cassel Memorial Hall next to the church. Tel: Beryl Rowe 01462 768208




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March’s Puzzle Solutions and Winners Last Month’s Crossword Winner Susan King – Biggleswade





0800 046 1080 30% OFF ORDERS PLACED IN APRIL hello@thehomeimprovementproject.co.uk www.thehomeimprovementproject.co.uk To advertise in The Villager and Town Life please call 01767 261122


The Villager Prize Crossword

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

16th April 2020 Prize Crossword, Villager Publications Ltd 24 Market Square, Potton, Beds SG19 2NP



Across 1 Not private (6) 4 One belonging to a club (6) 9 Endure (7) 10 Book of maps (5) 11 Surplus (5) 12 Design (7) 13 Discontinued (11) 18 Withdraw (7) 20 Living (5) 22 Concerning (5) 23 Outside light (7) 24 Removing (6) 25 Two wheeled vehicles (6) Down 1 Mailed (6) 2 Destroyed by fire (5) 3 Copy (7) 5 Precise (5) 6 Accept as true (7) 7 Climbing up (6) 8 Frantically (11) 14 Interconnected system (7) 15 Clearly (7) 16 Chicken meat (6) 17 Racket game (6) 19 Consumed (5) 21 Perfect (5)

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Book Review By Kate Duggan Alice by Christina Henry

If you enjoy twisted fairy tales, this book (and its sequel, Red Queen) needs to be on your reading list. The story begins with Alice, who’s been locked up in an asylum for a decade after encountering the Rabbit. She escapes with her neighbouring cellmate and they set off on a journey that sees them encountering various characters from the beloved children’s tale. This is definitely not a story for children however; it’s horrifying, gruesome and as dark as they come. .

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

Masked gunmen attack a school in Somerset. They shoot the headmaster but make no demands. Who’s behind the attack; who’s safe; who’s the target? A heart-racingly tense thriller with characters you’ll be desperate to protect. Three Hours will keep you on the edge of your seat and reading ‘just one more page’ long into the night.

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and Town


Alcoholics Anonymous....................... 0845 769 7555 Al-Anon family Groups....................... 0800 008 6811 Anglian Water.................................... 08457 145 145 Bedford Hospital................................. 01234 355122 Lister Hospital..................................... 01438 314333 Benefits for people with Disabilities..... 0800 882 200 Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue............. 01438 729041 Carers Line......................................... 0808 808 7777 ChildLine................................................... 0800 1111 Citizens Advice................................... 0344 245 1292 Cocaine Anonymous..................................0800 689 4732 Crimestoppers...................................... 0800 555 111

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Profile for Villager Mag

Hitchin April 2020  

Hitchin April 2020