Eastbury Hotel & Spa review

Liz Nicholls

Lazing in the bubbling jacuzzi, gazing up at the round ceiling window, where concentric circles of rain pulse outwards… this is about as close to Zen as I can remember feeling.

I have entered the round, inviting, Hobbit-like door to the bijou spa at the bottom of the walled garden at The Eastbury in Sherbourne. Inside is a nurturing safe haven that feels a million miles from the daily hubbub, with a luxury wet spa, hydrotherapy tub, sauna and treatment room where even the most frazzled can feel their cares melt away.

Treatments on offer from healing hands include nourishing facials, stone therapy and deep tissue massage, using the premier cru of wellness brands Caudalie. There is also an outdoor jacuzzi for good measure, and you can book exclusive use of the spa suite or perhaps treat yourself to a nourishing body wrap or tub and scrub.

If you are worn out by your own life and need a restorative change of scene, I can think of few places more suited than The Eastbury. The recently refurbished 26-bedroom country house hotel is the winner of the “best value experience” in the prestigious Conde Nast 2022 awards for Excellence.

Sherborne – the ancient capital of Dorset – is a sleepy market town with many local gardens (Stourhead, Minterne, Tintinhill), fly fishing, hot air ballooning, Sherborne Castle and Abbey. The area is surrounded by National Trust and English Heritage Sites and is a great base from which to explore the Dorset coast including Chesil Beach, Durdle Door, West Bay and Brownsea Island (a drive away of less than 45 minutes).

The five Victorian Garden Potting Shed Suites are beautifully appointed, snuggly warm and cosy, thanks to their underfloor heating. Each one has its own entrance and tri-folding rear doors so you can enjoy the private terrace and gaze at the stars, alongside the fire pit. These get-away suites are nestled in the award-winning gardens of the 17th century stone period property, where the outdoor seating, croquet, badminton, table tennis and large chess set add to the quirky charm of this luxury getaway. The newly refurbished Eastbury Cottage is has three generous bedrooms, if you’re looking for a group stay.

There are some dog-friendly rooms with comfy canine beds, bowls, treats, a squeaky dog toy and even a welcome letter from the owner’s chihuahua Monty. Each beautiful room offers a walks guide so that you can venture out to make the most of the local scenery, including Badbury Rings, Glastonbury Tor and the River Yeo.

Whatever your stress levels, a stay promises to top up your mojo levels and leave you feeling pampered, refreshed and ready to face the world anew. Aaaaaaand relax!

Doubles from £206 B&B per night. Eastbury Cottage price based on two people is £625 per night or £4,375 for seven nights. Price based on four people or more is £850 per night or £5,950 for seven nights on a self-catering basis. Includes a private garden, six-seater outdoor table, barbecue and a classic garden hot tub (available from the end of September). Minimum two-night stay. For more info or to book a stay visit theeastburyhotel.co.uk or call 01935 813131.

We have a five-star overnight stay with spa & dinner for two people at The Eastbury to give away! Click here to enter

Menopause and hair loss

Liz Nicholls

Menopause and hair loss – what’s the link? Experiencing hair loss at any age can be upsetting. It may not be talked about as much as hot flushes and night sweats, but hair loss is extremely common during menopause and often occurs as a result of plummeting oestrogen levels and an increase in testosterone.

Every person naturally loses between 50 and 100 hairs a day, which hardly seems possible but this is considered normal shedding. Any more than this and you may notice areas of baldness on your scalp, clumps of hair coming out when you wash or brush your hair, or thinning of hair around the front and sides of your scalp.

Although you wouldn’t necessarily think of hair loss as a being a symptom of menopause, the hormonal havoc that menopause can wreak, can have all sorts of unexpected effects on the body.

The hormones oestrogen and testosterone have the most important influence on hair growth. During the menopause, levels of oestrogen decrease. This hormone is important for promoting hair growth. While oestrogen levels drop, testosterone levels increase disproportionately. This causes the hair that does grow to be thinner than before, and can also cause facial hair.

Diet

Dietary and lifestyle changes can help to some extent. Protein and iron rich foods are good for strengthening your hair. Vitamin C is also beneficial, not least for helping you to absorb iron into your bloodstream.

Stress

Try to keep stress to a minimum. This will also help you sleep well at night, reducing another factor which might cause you to lose your hair. Exercise will help to reduce stress, improve sleep and circulation of blood to the scalp to help you keep your hair on.

Be nice!

Be nice to your hair. Use gentle shampoo when you wash it and try to avoid tugging and tangling it. Dying it regularly can cause hair to become unhealthy and more likely to fall out. A scalp massage can stimulate extra blood flow to the scalp, which may prevent further hair loss.

If hair loss is the result of hormonal changes caused by the menopause, a soy based supplement such as A.Vogel’s Menopause Support supplement may help. It tackles all stages of the menopause, and contains soy isoflavones which naturally mimic the effect of oestrogen in the body. The inclusion of magnesium helps to support the nervous system in times of need; it also contributes to a reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

For further information on menopause, visit Anita and her team at Nature’s Corner, 73 Northbrook St, Newbury.

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Local photography competition

Liz Nicholls

Berkeley Invites Community to Take Part in Photo Competition Celebrating Nature:

Award-winning local housebuilder Berkeley Homes has launched a photography and drawing competition open to all residents local to the Woodhurst Park development in Warfield for a chance to win a Polaroid instant camera.

The competition aims to celebrate landscapes and nature as the season changes, encouraging families to explore local nature trails and capture what they see.

The winners of the competition will win an Instax or Polaroid instant camera, which will be handed over at a prize ceremony at the Woodhurst Park Sales and Marketing Suite, where the best pictures will be on display for the public to see. Two runners up of each of the three age categories (11 years and under, 12 to 17 years and 18 years and over) will receive a £25 Amazon voucher.

Entries will remain open until Tuesday 16th November and should be submitted to . Entries can also be submitted in person to the sales and marketing suite at Woodhurst Park, or on Instagram with the hashtag #StepIntoWHP and by tagging @berkeley_group.

Submissions will be judged by local photographer Karen Bennett and the Berkeley Homes Sales and Marketing Director.

Please note competition terms and conditions below:

  1. The competition is only open to residents of the United Kingdom.
  2. There is no entry fee or purchase necessary to enter this competition.
  3. All entrants under 18 must have permission of a responsible adult over 18.
  4. Only one entry will be accepted per person.
  5. Closing date is the 16th November 2021, after this date no further entries to the competition will be permitted.
  6. No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for reasons out of our control.
  7. Berkeley Homes reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice, but any changes to the competition/offer will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter.
  8. Berkeley Homes is not responsible for inaccurate prize/offer details supplied to entrants by any third party.
  9. The prize is as stated no cash or other alternatives will be offered. Prizes are subject to availability and Berkeley Homes reserves the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice.
  10. Prizes are not transferable and cannot be resold.
  11. Competition winners will be selected by Berkeley Homes from all entries received.
  12. All entrants must be willing to provide full name, contact details and address and to have these details passed to the suppliers of the prizes.
  13. Any competition winner agrees to the use of his/her name and image in any publicity material, including on the Berkeley Homes website and social media. Any personal data relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant’s prior consent.
  14. Entry into the competition gives Berkeley Homes permission to use submitted entries in any future promotional materials, on their website and on social media.
  15. Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.

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Wheelyboat Picks the Litter

Liz Nicholls

WOW-one crew stand proudly over their spoils of the Littler Pick

WOW! Wallingford Accessible Boat Club heroes support the Thames river clean-up with WOW-one wheelyboat

We thought we would share some heart-warming community news to add some light to what has been a very gloomy week for most.

Members of the Wallingford Accessible Boat Club (WABC), with their wheelyboat WOW-one, helped out with the Thames Clean Up in Wallingford today.  Bankside litter pickers, co-ordinated by local councillors and actively supported by the charity Wallingford 1155, passed the rubbish bags and other debris to the wheelyboat for ferrying downstream to the main collection point at Riverside in Wallingford.

WOW-one proved to be the ideal craft for the job. Its flat decking, designed for carrying wheelchair users, coupled with its shallow draft allowed it to get very close to the bank making it easy to load the rubbish.

Just some of the debris collected by WOW-one during the Litter Pick

Councillor Steve Holder, lead coordinator of the litter pick, said:  “Another great litter pick thanks to the 80 or so local people who turned out to help. We were very pleased to have the support of WABC and WOW-one which was invaluable for the river element of the Litter Pick which coincided with the wider South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse River Thames Clean Up event. It is great they were involved in this important community initiative.”

John Jenkins MBE, WABC chairman of Trustees, added: “The litter pick was all great fun and I am very glad that our involvement proved to be so helpful. After all, our wheelyboat operation is itself a community project and we are always keen to get involved to support local Wallingford initiatives such as this.”

For further information please contact John Jenkins on or phone 07976 297835.

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Star Q&A: Timmy Mallett

Liz Nicholls

Broadcaster, artist & dad Timmy Mallett, who turns 66 this month, tells Liz Nicholls about family, football, art and his new book Utterly Brilliant – My Life’s Journey

Q. Hello Timmy. It’s wonderful to speak to you & I’ve really enjoyed your book, in fact I cried reading it! Are you pleased with it? “That’s very kind of you, I’m pleased it resonates. I’m proud of it, yes. You don’t know when you write a book how it’s going to go down. I wanted to combine the story of an adventure, a big personal challenge, with memoirs of Wacaday and my radio days and career and things I’ve done over the years, and my love of history and art. How do you do that? And I remember my editor saying: ‘you start at the beginning and crack on and see how it goes’. Haha!”

Q. I loved your drawings at the start of each chapter. “Part of that is to stop and look at where you’ve stopped. I say it in the book: work on the assumption you’re only going to do this once, you’re not going to come back and do it again with more time. It’s not every day can you devote masses of time to drawing so give it all you can in the moment. Sitting down and drawing or sketching or painting is a way of thinking about at the place you’re at and absorbing it. And that’s the nice thing about taking the bike, because you have to think about what you’re going to take. In a car you chuck everything in, but on the bike, you have to be quite precise. It seemed to work.”

Q. Your late brother Martin sounds so inspirational. Do you still talk to him, as you do in the book, and feel he’s still with you? “Thank you. Yes I do, it happens every day, Liz. Every day I have those little conversations with him. He pops up in what we’re doing. I remember when I was planning the adventure I was thinking about Martin and how he reached his potential. It takes the pressure off, in some ways. You haven’t got to be the best or the fastest… you’ve just got to be the best you can be. And Martin, with his language and learning difficulties, showed me how to do that, just by being absorbed and interested in everything he was doing. As brothers sometimes it was a little bit annoying that it wasn’t at the same speed, but he was always in the moment, he lived his life in the moment and his time scale was different. We often judge things as ‘life will be good when… lockdown’s over or when I get the new job, when I move house, when I go on holiday, get the new outfit…’ Well, what’s wrong with now? Now’s the moment. Everything’s got a time limit hasn’t it? We think everything’s going to carry on forever, like this lovely warm hot sunny day. Tomorrow we will need a jumper on!”

Q. What do you love about living here? “I moved into this house 30 years ago this Christmas and my son Billy, who’s grown up here, and was born here, is a gardener in the neighbourhood; he speaks with a Berkshire burr. The thing I love about it is the people; it’s great for families. It’s a lovely place to live. I’m passionate about my cycling and there’s some great cycle routes, either out southwards to Windsor or north into the Chilterns. I’ve got good friends here, I play five-a-side football, tennis. There’s good pubs and restaurants. I ring the bells at Holy Trinity church; I like the involvement. The fact I’ve put down roots, haha! This is the longest I’ve lived anywhere and it’s got something special about it. Then seeing the way Billy has taken to being a gardener. He knows the Latin names, the nicknames and the proper names of every plant in the garden as well as every football team in the country. I like the fact that when I’m out and about people say ‘hello Timmy!’”

Q. And Oxford United? “I love Oxford I’ve been a passionate fan of them since the 1990s when I worked at Radio Oxford when they soared. I watched how when the football went well, the town did well, there was a bounce in the air and people were inspired. I have two teams now – I have Oxford and also Maidenhead Utd who have the oldest football ground in the world. With both my teams, I like the ambition at the start of the season. Pre-season in these friendlies, new players are coming in you’re thinking ‘are they any good? Are they going to be better than the last lot? Are they going to set us alight and entertain us?’ Then, 45 minutes in, they’re 3-0 down and you’re like ‘arrrgh where are my hopes and dreams?!’ It’s about enjoying the ride. I don’t judge the season by whether they get promoted. No: it might be a great season if they stay up! If they stay in the midst of it all with great games or a great run. All those things are to be celebrated and you’re seeing players giving their best and trying their hardest. All these ups & downs are to be celebrated.”

Q. What are your favourite songs? “Anything by the Beatles. I often have Band On The Run by Paul McCartney & Wings playing loudly in the house, and The Stranger by Billy Joel. Lovely haunting melodies in there. And The Bluebells’ Young At Heart. Pop music is your personal diary isn’t it?”

Q. What’s your first memory of music? “My mum playing the piano. Pop music was always really important, too. Listening to Alan Freeman on Pick Of The Charts each week. The charts mattered – whether they went up or down. How they did in the league. We used to love that. When I was at boarding school my brother used to send me lists of the charts and what he thought they should be. We had a little pop group, me and my brothers. Paul couldn’t remember the words, Martin couldn’t say the words so I made them up. We were called the Kettleholders. Singing and pretending to be pop stars!”

Q. Which artists inspire you? “I really like the impressionists – I like Dutch 17th century artists like Vermeer and modern artists like David Hockney who rejoices in painting the seasons.”

Q. Do you have any favourite local galleries? “Nova in Marlow, Lemongrove in Henley and Whitewall galleries have all supported my art. I like going to visit some of the weird and wonderful museums we have in the Thames Valley – the chair museum in Wycombe! Wow! Bizarre! Reading Museum in the old town hall which has a copy of the Bayeux Tapestry. I like the Ashmolean museum in Oxford. I like the Bodgers exhibit in the Turvill Church, in the vestry. The Bodgers lived and worked making chair spindles in the 19th century. I like the Heritage Centre in Maidenhead. And if you want to see more of my art look at Mallettspallette.co.uk

Q. Who would be your dream party guests? “Eleanor of Aquitaine, an impressive woman in a man’s world. Tom Hanks, particularly because I love his character’s line in Castaway; ‘all we have to do is keep breathing because tomorrow the sun will rise & you never know what the tide will bring in’. I’d have Gareth Southgate. Also, I’ve been watching The Kominsky Method on Netflix and Michael Douglas seems like good value. And my mate Michaela Strachan who makes me laugh.”

Q. Do you get any weird fan mail or attention? “Fan mail is interesting because I get it just as regularly now as in the Wacaday days. It doesn’t surprise me when a message comes via social media or actual letters. Everyone has their memory of Wacaday, like you Liz, when you said you and your sister used to watch it. I was in the British Museum and someone shouted ‘Tony! You’re Tony Robinson, wow!’ I reminded him of Baldrick, obviously. Some people want a pinky-punky mallet, so I brought out a 30th anniversary edition which people can buy.”

Q.  If you had a magic wand, as well as your mallet, what would you wish for the world? “I feel as though climate change is fixable, all we have to do is put our minds to it. I’ve done this in a small way in my own house. If I could have a domestic wind turbine on the roof, I would do. I’d find a way to make where I live work harder. I reckon it’s doable in the bigger picture. I’m optimistic.”

Q. You’ve done so much in your varied career! Anything in the pipeline? “These are the golden years to make the most of what you’ve got and make it happen. One of the things I was surprised about, researching the Camino, was how much connection there was with the Thames Valley. Santiago de Compostela is where you go to see the tomb of St James the Apostle, where all of him is buried except for his left hand, which is in Marlow, at St Peter’s. Then when I was planning my trip, I contacted my MP who said I want to hear more about this, so the PM came to my house to hear about the camino. Then there’s the Bishop of Oxford who didn’t know about any of it. All these little connections putting people together. Your story is part of the thousands of ‘Camino’ journeys that happen every year. There’s probably another adventure to do on my bike. And there’s another big idea which I’m trying to persuade Mrs Mallett about, so I don’t feel it’s fair to tell you first, Liz, until she’s on board! At the moment she’s like; ‘you’re going to do what?!’  I want to do more cycling and painting – that suits me. Meeting people, hearing their stories, sharing some tales would be a good thing to do. Always take that inspiration of brother Martin, with the smile on his face and a warm embrace.”

Please visit Timmymallett.co.uk & mallettspallette.co.uk

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Star Q&A: Martin Jarvis

Liz Nicholls

Actor Martin Jarvis OBE tells us about life, love and turning 80 as he prepares to star as Ted Heath in Michael McManus’ smash hit play Maggie & Ted at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud this month

Q. Maggie & Ted sounds a wonderful play. Has playing Ted changed your understanding of Sir Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher? And do you think Ted was entitled to his “Incredible Sulk”? “Yes, it’s an extraordinary play. Brilliantly observant. Very funny! Surprisingly moving at times. The author Michael McManus was Ted’s Private Secretary. He has based so much of his play on personal recollections. So if, as ‘Ted’ I ever wanted to question a line or speech in the drama, ie ‘Would Heath ever say this? Michael is likely to reply ‘Well he did, I was there!’ Haha!

I once had the pleasure of actually meeting him. He suddenly arrived at a wine-bar/restaurant where my wife [Rosalind Ayres] and I were dining. He hadn’t booked and he and his eight young musician companions needed a table. With the help of the manageress, Ros and I relinquished ours. As we withdrew to park ourselves near the door he turned to us and, with immense charm and his familiar widening smile, announced: ‘Thank you so much. Very grateful.’

So that’s where I have begun in inhabiting the fascinating, and as I learnt, complex character of Edward Heath. Unexpected charm. I’ve much enjoyed discovering, too, how amusing he was. His comments about Maggie are often extremely funny, though sometimes with an undertow of misogyny and deep disapproval. I don’t think he ever quite recognised how very alike they were. Their backgrounds were oddly similar. I hadn’t appreciated how lonely a person he was, even early in his political career. And how cool and comedic he could be – his television encounter with Dame Edna (which occurs in the play) is a classic. When he lost office others termed him The Incredible Sulk. Really this came from the popular television character ‘The Incredible Hulk’. I sense he quite enjoyed the pun, even using it himself in public.”

Q. Do you follow British politics now? And how do you think this Conservative government compares to the times when Maggie & Ted is set? “How could I not follow current events and policies? Some things never change. Only perhaps ways of demonstrating attitudes and disunity. Perhaps there was more apparent courtesy offered in political exchanges in those older days. But in private, the attitudes of differing personalities, points of view, mindsets, jealousies were probably just as bitter, vitriolic, corrosive. Fortunately they didn’t have to deal with the pitfalls of social media.”

Martin Jarvis OBE & Clare Bloomer starring in Maggie and Ted at the Yvonne Arnaud

Q. You are renowned for your acting, and mellifluous voice – how do you take care of it? Anything you don’t eat or drink? “Well, thanks. I gave up smoking when I was 16, which I presume helped a bit! I’m told singers have a glass of warm water standing by in the recording studio for the occasional sip, to keep the throat open and relaxed. And an apple ready for the odd bite to prevent the sound of ‘lip-smacks’ on the microphone. I prefer cold water and a banana! Perhaps that’s why I’ve never been a great singer!”

Q. When did you know acting was for you? Were there any actors you remember being dazzled by growing up? “When I was selected for the school Shakespeare plays (Whitgift, Croydon, Surrey) I found I had an instinctual understanding of some of the verse and characters. Thanks to an inspirational English teacher, Maurice Etherington, I discovered I could speak the text believably and make it sound natural.

Actors that dazzled me ranged from Terry-Thomas the great comic performer and the superb actor Alan Badel. And on stage and film: John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson. Later I was lucky enough to work with many of them. Not Olivier. Though I did speak to him on the phone when he rang-up to offer Ros Ayres a role. It seemed almost surreal when I asked: ‘Who’s calling?’ and he said in those recognisably crisp tones, ‘Larry Olivier!’

Gielgud gave me some wonderful advice when I was embarking on Peter Hall’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest at the National Theatre, with Judi Dench. ‘Acting in Wilde’ (said Sir John) is best approached with all the seriousness of taking part in an elaborate practical joke’? He was right. We found that the more deadpan and ‘earnest’ you were, how much the comedy increased.”

Q. I laughed at an interview in which you say you almost trod on the Queen… is this still your most embarrassing moment?“Ah yes, it was fairly embarrassing. At a Windsor reception I hadn’t realised that Her Majesty had suddenly arrived and was standing just behind me. I had backed, laughing at something one of our group had said – oh dear – I then turned and apologised to the queen profusely. Absurdly it didn’t end there. Some years later at a party given by Jeffrey Archer I had to edge along a row of seats in order to get to my own. Unfortunately I had, in passing, trodden on Margaret Thatcher’s toe. Again an apology. In Maggie and Ted I haven’t yet trodden on the wonderful Clare Bloomer’s foot, either by accident or design. She plays Maggie superbly and would no doubt improvise a characterful response. When I was fortunate enough to be awarded the OBE for services to Drama a friend suggested it should really have been for services to Apology.”

Martin Jarvis OBE & Clare Bloomer starring in Maggie and Ted at the Yvonne Arnaud

Q. What’s your first memory of music? And your favourite song? “My first music memory (if I could call it that) was my attempt at the age of five to play the xylophone in the school carol service. I hit the wood more times than the metal bars.

My favourite song? It changes all the time. Sometimes it’s Schubert’s The Trout. Sometimes, especially now that we hope the world is opening up, the emotional and rhythmic After Hours by Weeknd.

Sometimes it’s Half a Moment from Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s By Jeeves. I listened to it from the wings every night when I played Jeeves on Broadway. A genuinely moving ‘relationship’ song that gradually turns into a supremely comic rendition because of Alan’s brilliant staging.”

Q. What’s the most surprising lesson fatherhood has taught you? “That the fun and laughter goes on forever. Toby Jarvis is composer of everything from popular game show music to television ads, and the scores for plays by Ibsen, Sheridan and Wilde.

Olly Jarvis, criminal barrister, is also a best-selling author of legal thrillers, (his latest: The Genesis Inquiry.)”

Q. Having voiced so many great stories – do you read a lot for pleasure and if so who is your favourite author and why?“I read for pleasure, though very often it’s also for professional reasons. PG. Wodehouse, Michael Frayn, Christopher Matthew, Gyles Brandreth, Olly Jarvis are all authors who can make me laugh aloud – and also make me think. I’m grateful for my long association with Richmal Crompton’s Just William stories. Have just recorded five more for Radio 4 to be broadcast this Christmas. My favourite biographer is Claire Tomalin. I’m proud to have recorded so much of these remarkable writers’ work, either as a performer or as producer/director for BBC radio or audiobook.”

Q. Many happy belated returns on your 80th birthday. How do you feel in your ninth decade and how did you & will you celebrate?“Ros arranged two ‘celebrations’- a family dinner the weekend before, and a ‘friends’ dinner the weekend after. In between, business as usual. On the actual day I visited the dentist, and then recorded a voiceover for an American company. Should perhaps have been the other way round? Cold water and a banana saw me through.”

Q. If you could make one wish for the world, what would it be? “One wish can never be enough – we desperately need an end to all the various horrors that are currently being visited upon us. This short piece, A Soldier’s Dream from the 1st World War poet Wilfred Owen comes to mind. He was 24 when he wrote it, in 1917. Killed in action the next year, a week before the armistice was declared.

‘I dreamed kind Jesus fouled the big guns gears;

And caused a permanent stoppage in all bolts;

And with a smile Mausers and Colts;

And rusted every bayonet with His tears.’

 

If only.

Q: We look forward to the play in Guildford & lots of best wishes & thank you for your time. “Thank you, Liz. I’ve always appreciated Guildford. I came here in the 1960s to audition for the Surrey Scholarship that, somehow, I was awarded. Which meant I could go to RADA and begin to really understand what it might be like to be an actor. I’m thrilled to be back.”

Martin Jarvis OBE & Clare Bloomer star in Maggie and Ted at the Yvonne Arnaud, 12th-16th October. Visit yvonne-arnaud.co.uk or call 01483 44 00 00 to book.

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Feel more energised

Liz Nicholls

Feel more energised with these tips from Nature’s Corner in Newbury

Need more energy? Happily, there’s plenty you can do to increase your energy levels naturally.

Drink more water!

It may seem obvious but one of the main causes of fatigue is dehydration. Difficulty concentrating, headaches and fatigue, even feeling hungry are all signs you’re not drinking enough water. Aim for at least two litres of water daily.

Get sufficient sleep

Poor sleep on an ongoing basis will soon zap your energy. If you’re having trouble nodding off because your bedroom is too stuffy, try changing your bedding – choose natural fibres over synthetic, and sheets over duvets to help increase airflow and circulation. A natural sleep remedy can also help. Dormeasan® Sleep with Valerian and Hops can help restore better sleep patterns, which means more quality time in restorative sleep stages. Take 30 drops in a little water half an hour before bedtime.

Slay your stress!

Feeling stressed can take its toll on energy levels. It causes the digestive system to slow, meaning we don’t get as many nutrients, and therefore less fuel from food. It also means we can become deficient in the vitamins and minerals we need to keep our bodies working, and our energy levels up. Allow yourself at least 30 minutes each day to do whatever helps you to relax, whether that’s a walk by yourself, a long soak or a dip into a good book.

Ditch the quick-release carbs found in white bread, pastries and sweets. They might give you a quick sugar fix, but after a couple of hours that sudden spike of energy will drop, making you feel tired and sleepy. Low GI, energy-rich foods, such as wholegrains, nuts and seeds, and foods rich in protein, will keep you full for longer.

Still feeling tired?

Bring your minerals into balance. Minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, are essential for turning the food we eat into energy. A.Vogel’s Balance Mineral Drink contains magnesium, zinc, potassium, calcium and vitamin D, to help release energy and maintain vitality. Simply add to water and stir.

For further advice, visit Anita and her team at Nature’s Corner, 73 Northbrook St, Newbury.

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Support vaccination with V-star badge

Liz Nicholls

Lisa Hulyer and Sarah Lewis were so moved by the plight of our NHS heroes and angry about anti-vax scaremongering, that they decided to do something about it…

Over winter they launched their Vaccine Star (V-Star) badge for sale at £3 with all profits going to NHS charities, St John Ambulance and local causes, while sending a positive message to the world.

“We are two British mums who, like everyone else, have been significantly and profoundly affected by this dreadful virus,” explained Lisa and Sarah.
“Like most of you, we’ve been homeschooling our children, whilst struggling to maintain any vestige of normality as best we can.

As we are unable to work as normal, we have created this badge to promote the Covid19 vaccination programme to encourage every person in this country to take up this vital vaccine and to wear your V-Star badge to show your support.

It’s a handy way of being ‘seen’ to support the programme – and the feedback from healthcare workers has been so positive. It’s important everyone, from all communities, comes together to have the vaccine, to enable us to return to normal.”

The high quality 3cm blue enamelled star set in gold metal with a butterfly clasp is a British-made product. The project is helping to promote pop-up staff shops in hospitals for free food and essentials. As well as relaxing staff break areas for NHS workers and welfare packs of snacks, drinks, lip balm and hand creams.

To buy yours, please visit v-star.co.uk and follow
@vstar.uk on Instagram


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Mental Health Mates are offering support

Liz Nicholls

Abby Lacey set up Mental Health Mates – Reading after needing help herself, the support group helps anyone suffering as well as their family and friends

Founded in 2016 by author and journalist, Bryony Gordon, Mental Health Mates is a network of peer support groups, run by people who experience their own mental health issues, meeting regularly to walk, connect and share without fear or judgement.

In early 2019, being a fan of her writing and podcast, as well as suffering from anxiety for most of my life, I decided to check out Mental Health Mates. The nearest to me were about 20 miles in either direction, so after about five minutes of procrastination, I contacted them and offered to start my own group.

I know from experience that mental illness magnifies through isolation. I also know that being outside in nature is great for your mental health, so to incorporate walking and talking to someone, sharing with them or simply walking beside them – just connecting – is the first step to recovery.

In May 2019 I set up Mental Health Mates – Reading, organising bi-monthly weekend walks for people suffering from mental illnesses, along with their family and friends, in and around Reading.

We were lucky enough to have almost a year of walking together before the pandemic hit, but we’ve carried on walking when we can, and when we can’t, we meet bi-weekly through Zoom. The Zoom calls are a great way to check in, in a really informal environment. There is no structure to our calls – we chat about everything from TV to politics, from fashion to medication – we cover it all! There is never an expectation to talk and if you don’t want the camera on, that’s fine too.

We have built a great community of like-minded people, and we have visitors on the calls from all over the country as I, along with other walk leaders, actively advertise that all are welcome.

When we are able to get together, our accessible walks are as gentle or as brisk as the group would like, so we cater for everyone, covering about two miles over an hour.

We are truly spoilt for choice for locations in the area from beautiful lakes such as Dinton Pastures and Whiteknights Lake at the University of Reading, to the River Thames at Caversham. We’re hoping to expand our offering to west Reading too in the early summer too, so we can reach even more people.

If you would like to join Mental Health Mates – Reading please visit facebook.com/mhm.reading
Or for more information on support, visit mentalhealthmates.co.uk/support/


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Where’s Brian’s Bottom? asks Abingdon illustrator

Liz Nicholls

Local illustrator Rob Jones always wanted to create a children’s book and, in Where’s Brian’s Bottom? the dream has unfolded!

“I’ve always loved dogs, especially sausage dogs,” says Rob, who lives in Abingdon, “but sadly I’ve never owned one. I’m hoping one day I’ll have one called Brian!”

Where’s Brian’s Bottom? is Rob’s new board book for toddlers that unfolds to two metres long. Young readers are encouraged to help Brian find his bottom in the house and learn about different animals and the sounds they make.

“I didn’t used to draw dogs that often,” adds Rob, “until I illustrated The Funny Life of Pets by James Campbell. I find I draw them all the time now. Anytime I sign a card or book, there will usually be a doodle of a dog.”

Rob studied illustration at the University of Gloucestershire and it was during this time that he discovered a love for making books, toys and puppets. He has made many puppets for the Story Museum’s Christmas production in Oxford. His first book, Bernard, won the People’s Book Prize in 2014. “I owe a lot to the Story Museum,” says Rob. “They were really supportive of me when my first book Bernard was released.

I once took part in an exhibition there called “the illustrator zoo” where visitors could watch me work on book ideas. I’ve made puppets for four of their shows, the first being Winter Mouse, which was made using a sleeve from an old jumper. I’m looking forward to taking my son there once it reopens.

“My advice to any budding illustrators out there is not to give up! There have been many times over the last 10 years when I’ve been close, but something has always happened to keep me going. I am also very lucky, as my family, friends and colleagues are all so supportive of me.”

Where’s Brian’s Bottom? £6.99, ISBN 9781843654667


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