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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Gemma Hardy offers mental health advice

Liz Nicholls

The term ‘mental health’ has recently become something of a buzzword. Worries of how the pandemic is affecting our mental health are discussed daily in the news, on social media and in our social circles.

It’s encouraging that a topic, which is usually considered taboo, is being given so much airtime, however, do we really know what mental health is?

Interestingly, there is no finite definition of mental health. The World Health Organisation suggests it is: ‘a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community’.

The language surrounding mental health is often misused and terms such as mental health and mental illness get confused despite being very different. The truth is, just as we all have physical health, we all have mental health too. We know the importance of looking after our physical health and it’s no different from our mental health.

With last year’s constant changes and uncertainty, some of us may be feeling stressed, overwhelmed or deflated. As lockdown restrictions are eased, how can we adapt to our ‘new normal’ whilst keeping mentally healthy?

Try our top three tips:

Acceptance

It’s much easier to live in a state of harmony when you accept the things that are out of your control. You can’t change the actions of others, predict if there will be another lockdown or change how people respond to rules. So, accept the things you can’t control and focus on the things you can control.

Practise gratitude

People who regularly practise gratitude feel more positive emotions, have improved sleep, and express more compassion and kindness. Take time to notice the small things around you, like a beautiful blue sky, a delicious lunch or time to dive into a new book.

Exciting opportunities

The plus side of uncertainty is you never know what’s around the corner. Could it be the pandemic has forced you to make changes that will actually enhance your life? With a positive mindset, you can look at change as a new chapter filled with new goals and successes to celebrate.

Take action and invest in your mental health today!

Hardy Training Company works with businesses and schools to create mentally healthy workplaces, by providing internationally recognised Mental Health First Aid training courses.

If you, or your organisation, would like further information please visit hardytrainingcompany.co.uk


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Petworth Craft Group boost charity funds

Liz Nicholls

Petworth Community Craft Group has taken its fundraising efforts for local charities online to continue its good work when they haven’t been able to meet in person.

The group which has just marked its third anniversary brings crafters of all abilities together to make saleable delights to help boost local charities including more than £1,000 for Petworth Community Garden and in excess of £2,500 for the Sylvia Beaufoy Youth Club.

When sources of selling ceased last year because of the pandemic, Tricia Stephens from PCCG said they “entered the 21st century, creating a Facebook page and sold from there as well as Petworth virtual Christmas market”.

Where possible the group uses unwanted, surplus or natural products to make a wide variety of gifts and useful items. Materials used have included donated designer fabric samples, donated blank cards and envelopes, unwanted magazines and newspapers, scraps of wool, corks, fir cones and much more.

PCCG encourages teamwork and a sense of camaraderie and belonging and enables experienced crafters to share their know how.

Members are welcome to bring their own project, make crafts to raise money or just go along for coffee and a chat and see what others are doing.

The group usually meets every second Friday in the month at Coultershaw Warehouse and is looking forward to getting together as soon as they can.

Interested in joining? Email , visit petworthcommunity.org or call 01798 342016.

To see what the group has for sale visit www.facebook.com/CreatePetworth


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Interview with local artist Catherine Cook

Liz Nicholls

“From an early age growing up on the family farm, inspiration was never far away, whether it be our rescue dog asleep in the chair, my dad’s herd of Charolais cattle, to the farm buildings around me, I would be sketching.”

Catherine Cook’s desire to draw and create has taken her down several paths since she studied decorative crafts at art college and university, but drawing has always been her starting point whichever medium she is aiming for – glass, digital graphic or paint.

Having gained her degree she worked for a number of years in an auctioneers office but says “the yearning to create was always there” and so she returned to the pursuit of developing her glass artwork.

With the arrival of her two boys, family life took over and creativity was on hold briefly until the creation of a family birthday gift involving a collection of watercolour dog portraits took Catherine back to her paints and pencils and she has been drawing pet portraits continually ever since, working in watercolour, oil paint and pen and ink.

“When I paint a pet portrait for a client, I feel there is a great responsibility to capture the special character, which is achieved through seeing those fine details accurately,” Catherine explained.

“The power of a portrait and the emotional response from clients, when presented with the final artwork can be very moving and rewarding.”

“The process of drawing and observing your subject is a discipline which makes you stop and really look; this is an aspect I especially enjoy. You can become completely absorbed in the process of drawing, it is therapeutic, it is a form of escaping all other busy thoughts. During lockdown weeks, anytime I could find to draw was valued.

”Living in the Hampshire countryside she never tires of watching the seasons change and enjoys having an “endless list of plants, wildlife and breeds of animals to draw”. And her work can be enjoyed through everyday objects such as greeting cards, tea towels and coasters.

Catherine added: “I love constantly seeing new ideas around me on every country walk and during these lockdown months, there have been many!

“I take photos when out and about and use the images to build compositions. Capturing those magical countryside moments of a Robin chirping on a branch or a squirrel busy in the garden, greatly inspires my artwork style.”

While in-person events have not been possible – and much missed – you can discover Catherine’s work at thecatherinegallery.co.uk and shop on Etsy.com


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Holme Farm community hub

Liz Nicholls

Ronnie Kendall is passionate about creating a community hub in the Woking area to help those with mental health issues and to combat loneliness.

The idea behind Holme Farm, Woodham, is to create a community hub with workshops and a café which also provide a safe haven for those with mental health issues and to combat loneliness.

There will be space for gardening, an orchard, bee-keeping, re-wilding and family areas for relaxing. Inside the ‘sheds’ there will be a café where people of all backgrounds and ages can meet and socialise, and courses will be organised for everything from crafting and creative activities to computer skills and woodworking.

In the longer term, it is hoped to involve local councils and assist with high child poverty and levels of loneliness in our boroughs. It is this that inspired the group of community-minded individuals including myself and my wife Christine to come together to try and secure derelict buildings and adjoining land, currently owned by DEFRA, in Woodham Park Road.

Loneliness causes mental illness. Recently there has been a heightened level of awareness around the issue of poor mental health and an urgent need to take positive action in tackling this issue, reducing the burden on the NHS and emergency services. Workshops are a simple way of helping with this growing problem.

It is hoped the Holme Farm project can start this year. It will be a place to pursue interests, to share and practice skills, enjoy making and mending and discuss anything. A community project to share knowledge, make social connections, build friendships – and of course a lot of laughter and tea!

To join the project sign up here or email


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Win! A portrait of your pet

Liz Nicholls

Love your kitty? Adore your doggy? We always knew that we Brits loved our pets passionately. But the last year has deepened our appreciation for our animal companions!

April is National Pet Month, and National Pet Day is on 11th April. To celebrate, we’ve teamed up with Surrey artist & pet-lover Bri to offer you the chance to win a portrait of your pet…

Artist Bri had planned to launch her drawing and painting workshops for beginners in March 2020… until the world put a stop to that! She jokes: “Timing has never been my speciality but this takes the mick!”

Keeping motivated

Bri decided to offer free pet portraits to local people… “This was an exercise to get some practice and to bring a smile to people’s faces,” she tells us. “I know how important a pet’s company is: I live alone with my dog. She’s my best mate, haha! And I couldn’t have been more grateful for the distraction she gave me. Also, she was a legal reason to leave the house! I thought pet portraits would be nice to keep me motivated as I was unable to tutor. I’d never done a pet portrait before but after I put up a couple of posters I was inundated.”

Hundreds of responses

Bri completed almost 50 portraits, 31 alone last April. “When I first thought about the type of work I could offer free to encourage people to commission me, pets were the subject I thought would attract most interest,” she says. “But hundreds of responses and the copious positive feedback was on a scale I didn’t imagine! It proves we’re a nation of animal-lovers. From dogs to cats, and the odd gecko thrown in, we love our pets. It’s particularly worthwhile to hear how someone got genuine happiness from seeing a pet who perhaps isn’t with them any more celebrated in paint.”

Rebranded as The Isolating Artist, Bri evolved to virtual workshops. “Online teaching is a fantastic way to communicate in what otherwise would be an impossible situation, but classroom tutoring is the best way to learn to draw and paint,” says Bri. “I hope soon to bring together a beginners’ art group. I want to introduce students to the fun of art and give people a chance to be creative, to look at the world differently. If there’s anything we need after all this it’s to leave the house so what better reason than an art class?”

As for influences, Bri says: “As a kid, art was the only thing I was any good at, so that was a natural inspiration. I remember coming across a book about Francis Bacon at school. It changed my opinion on how I should draw and paint; something I’ll never forget seeing for the first time”. Bacon remains one of Bri’s favourite artists, alongside Frida Kahlo, Vincent Van Gogh, Egon Schiele, Edward Hopper and many more.”

Visit isolatingartist.com to find out about Bri or sign up for an art class.

WIN your pet’s portrait!

We want you to share your love for the pet in your life. Share a picture, poem or photo of your beloved animal companion on our social media channels. Tag Round & About (our links below) and #petportrait in your post and Bri will select the winner who will be immortalised in portrait form! Deadline: Tues 4th May.


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Coffee delivery to perk us up!

Liz Nicholls

Roots and Rose is a brother and sister duo, want to take the hassle out of finding great-tasting coffee, by doing the hard work for you.

They both know the coffee industry having worked in it for over 13 years. They also understand many people working from home may need that pick me up.

Set up from their homes in Frimley and Woking during the first lockdown, Chris and Catherine Rose. They both know that now, more than ever, it’s important to sit and chat over a great cup of coffee (via Zoom!). Ranging from individual bags to gift boxes, there’s something for everyone.

Their gift boxes, named after the family dogs, consist of The Arnie, The Henry and The Tilly, ranging in size and amount. The Arnie includes three x 127g cafetiere coffee; The Henry offers three x 227g cafetiere coffee and The Tilly, 2 x 227g cafetiere coffee and a cafetiere. Due to the popular demand for beans, they have added the Jack’s Beans to their website with the Surrey Beans soon to be released.

The R&R subscription service is the best of Roots and Rose, direct to your door, every month. Each month you’ll receive a 127g or 227g bag of one of their three coffees (on a three-month cycle), with no minimum commitment.

All the coffee is ethically sourced, hand-roasted, and hand-packed in the UK. R&R roast to order which means it holds its taste and is super fresh.

To find out more and try for yourself, visit rootsandrose.co.uk


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