MEZEMAS bringing the Greek meze magic!

Round & About

Buckinghamshire

We chat to Panny Skrivanos whose authentic & high quality MEZEMAS fresh feast boxes are spreading the love from his homeland, and his beloved relatives

Filoxeno is the famous Greek spirit of hospitality and Panny Skrivanos has managed to box this concept and deliver it to food-lovers’ homes.

No wonder, then, that Panny has been winning rave reviews for his meze boxes, delivered across Bucks and Oxfordshire, complete with lovingly written menus and heating instructions. He’s even made a playlist of Greek music on his website if you want to ramp up the Greek vibes (plate smashing optional).

Panny set up the business with his family in 2015 to bring truly authentic, fresh and high quality Greek food to Oxfordshire and Bucks. Originally The Souvlaki Brothers, they spent years catering festivals, events, weddings and parties, opening a busy takeaway in Oxford’s Covered Market but the shop closed following the drastic reduction in footfall after 2020.

“We looked at a way to bring our food directly to our customers and broaden our menu to include the dishes we grew up eating, which inspired us in the first place,” he says. “And MEZEMAS was born! Since lockdown, shopping habits have changed, and it can be very expensive to eat out these days. Our business model allows us to provide really high quality food at a reasonable price. The past few years have also confirmed the importance of sharing time with friends and family, and we hope our sharing feasts will contribute in some way to helping people spend quality time together.”

Panny grew up in Torquay, where his family ran tavernas. Now he loves living in Chinnor with his wife, young son, cat Patti and Dot the tortoise. “Our local restaurants and takeaways are good, but, like a lot of villages, Chinnor lacks a little variety for food, and this also inspired us. Way back, my family originated from Smyrna (now Izmir, Turkey) but relocated in the early 20th century to Chios, in the North Aegean. It’s a beautiful island with great food culture and recipes. I’ve always been proud of my heritage. I’m conscious of a connection to my past when I’m cooking. I often think about my YiaYia and Thea Stavroula who were just the most amazing cooks. They’d probably have improvements to make with my food, but if I can get close to their cooking I’m doing OK!”

“I’ve always been proud of my heritage. I’m conscious of a connection to my past when I’m cooking.”

One myth about Greek food is that it’s meat-heavy… “In fact, for a long time, for much of the population, meat was a precious and expensive commodity. Many traditional recipes make good use of small amounts of meat, and lots are vegetarian and vegan-friendly. Our box contains a mixture of all of these, for all tastes.

“That’s the beauty of meze! I recall one holiday to Lesbos searching for food in a quiet, small village but the only taverna was just closing after lunch. The owner said he had some leftovers; lemon potatoes, dolmades, saganaki etc – and could put some on a plate for us – delicious! That’s a fine example of Filoxeno.”

Visit Mezemas

Top 5 Solar Installers in Beaconsfield

Round & About

Buckinghamshire

Every second, the sun generates 173,000 terawatts of solar energy – this is more than 10,000 times the Earth’s total energy use*. Without solar panels installed on your roof, this endless supply of free energy goes to waste.

With solar costs at an all-time low, now is a great time to take advantage of this free supply of energy at home. Are you keen to save on your monthly energy bills and become energy independent? Book one of the top MCS-certified solar installers in Beaconsfield, UK:

1. Soly

Soly is a leading solar installer in Beaconsfield, rated Excellent on Trustpilot. With over 10 years of experience, Soly offers free virtual consultations and cost-effective solar solutions that can help you save up to £1,300 per year on your energy bills. 

Take advantage of industry-leading warranties including 30-year solar panel, 25-year performance and 10-year workmanship warranties, with fantastic aftercare service beyond installation. Soly is MCS and HIES accredited, Enphase certified, and a Which? Trusted Trader.

If you buy before 30th April, Soly is offering £1,000 off. Book a free consultation today at Soly Energy and quote ‘Beaconsfield’ to claim this discount.

2. Elech Tech

Elech Tech is a family-run business based in Beaconsfield. Established in 2017, the company designs, supplies and installs solar panels, batteries and EV chargers for homes and businesses across Buckinghamshire. 

Elech Tech offers a 25-year product warranty and a 30-year performance warranty on solar panels, a 10-year warranty on batteries and a 25-year warranty on inverters. The installation comes with a standard two-year workmanship guarantee. The company is an MCS-certified and NAPIT-approved contractor.

3. HDS Solar

HDS Solar is a family-run electrical engineering business based in Marlow that supplies and installs solar panels and batteries. Established in 2010, the company services Marlow and Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire and surrounding areas. 

HDS Solar offers a 20 to 30-year manufacturer’s warranty on solar panels, a 10-year warranty on batteries and inverters and a 10-year workmanship warranty on all installations. The company is registered with NAPIT and is MCS-certified. 

4. Kimbletech

Kimbletech is a family-run solar company that supplies and installs solar panels, battery storage solutions, EV chargers and smart home technology. Based in High Wycombe, the company services Beaconsfield and all of Buckinghamshire. 

Established in 2011, Kimbletech offers a 25-year performance warranty as standard on solar panels and inverters and a 10 to 12-year warranty on batteries. They offer a 12-month solar output guarantee, ensuring that the system generates at least 90% of the estimated output in the first year after installation. The company is a NICEIC-approved contractor and MCS certified.

5. Solar Service Solutions

Solar Service Solutions services Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire and the surrounds. The company designs, supplies and installs solar panels, battery storage systems, solar thermal systems and more. 

Solar Service Solutions offers a 30-year warranty on solar panels and a five-year workmanship guarantee on installation for peace of mind. The company is MCS-certified and registered with the NICEIC. 

Finding the Best Solar Installers in Beaconsfield

Finding local solar installers you can trust in Beaconsfield doesn’t need to be difficult. There are plenty of certified solar installers and professional contractors to choose from. While the initial investment can be significant, the long-term benefits can outweigh the cost, with many homeowners making their money within eight years. 

The top solar installers are MCS-certified and offer high-quality products and long warranties for peace of mind. As your solar panels are a long-term investment (lasting up to 30 years), always look for companies that offer great after-care service beyond the installation period. 

Sources: https://sos.noaa.gov/catalog/live-programs/energy-on-a-sphere/

Support Thames Valley Air Ambulance

Round & About

Buckinghamshire

Thames Valley Air Ambulance celebrates 25 years and you’re invited to join the party and help their life saving work

In 1999, Thames Valley Air Ambulance first took to the skies to treat patients in critical need. Now, a quarter of a century and nearly 35,000 call outs later they are celebrating this milestone with a fun-filled family day for the whole community on June 22nd at Penn Estate.

Amanda McLean, Chief Executive Officer at Thames Valley Air Ambulance said: “Both the care we deliver at the scene and the support we offer long afterwards are funded solely by our community. It’s your generous donations that have allowed us to be there for these 35,000 people in their time of need.”

Their ‘Big Birthday Bash’ will include a variety of fun activities for both kids and adults to enjoy, from circus shows and workshops to special demonstrations from their crew plus plenty of delicious food and drinks from local vendors.

Tickets start from £4 and all proceeds go to help Thames Valley Air Ambulance continue to be there for those in most need across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. More at Big Birthday Bash – Thames Valley Air Ambulance

Did you know:
• Last year, we were called out 3,293 times to help people in need of urgent critical care.
• We are called out on average 9 times a day.
• The flight time between our base at RAF Benson and anywhere in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, or Oxfordshire is just 15 minutes.
• To find out more about the work of Thames Valley Air Ambulance and donate visit Thames Valley Air Ambulance

Build It Live

Round & About

Buckinghamshire

The UK’s most informative self-build and renovation show, Build It Live, returns to Bicester on 8th and 9th June – and you won’t want to miss out!

If you’re planning a self-build, renovating a property or looking to add more space to your current home, then you can’t afford to miss Build It Live Bicester on 10th and 11th June. As the UK’s most practical self-build and renovation show, Build It Live has been designed to help people through each stage of the process – from finding land to hiring an architect, and sourcing materials for your build.

The exhibition, which will take place at Bicester Heritage, will provide two full days of inspiration, advice and practical tips to ensure you get the home you want – finished on time, and on budget. Within the exhibition hall, you’ll be able to meet hundreds of the UK’s leading suppliers and manufacturers, offering everything from build systems to sliding doors, so you can compare products before making those important buying decisions.

But that’s not all! The show has been designed as a one-stop shop for all your information needs. Over the two days, you’ll be able to attend free seminars and workshops, hosted by industry experts and covering topics such as how to fund your self-build project, heating options for your home and the different routes to managing your project.

Architects, planners and finance experts will also be on hand, offering free, independent advice in one-to-one sessions. You’ll be able to sit down and have a face-to-face chat, talk through your plans or concerns, and gain the insight you need to move your scheme forward!

Don’t miss out! The standard ticket price is £12 per person, but Round & About have 100 pairs of free tickets to the show! Use Promo Code ROUND100 at www.builditlive.co.uk to claim a pair of tickets worth £24.

Sophie Davenport’s best bits of Bucks!

Liz Nicholls

Buckinghamshire

For our May vox pop, Sophie Davenport, managing director of Widmer End-based SFE Services, shares her favourite things about local life

Q. Hello Sophie! Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
“I am a mum of two daughters aged 13 and eight. We’ve lived in Holmer Green with my husband Grant for five years now. I’m originally from Maidenhead, and Grant is from High Wycombe.”

Q. What does your company do & what do you have on the horizon?
“SFE Services Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Ltd serves commercial and residential clients in Bucks. This year we’ll be sponsoring and attending the Holmer Green Sports Association Beer Festival, continuing our sponsorship with Wycombe Wanderers Football Club and supporting events for Rennie Grove Peace Hospice Care charity.”

Q. What do you most love about where you live?
“Holmer Green has a lovely village feel. The common has a fantastic playground and is great for the kids to play and for a picnic in the summer. Having shops in the village and close by in Hazlemere is so convenient and saves trips into town.”

Q. What pets do you have?
“A British Bulldog, Lola, a Boerboel called Kion and my daughter has a pony, Jim. Our favourite places to walk or ride are the fields in Little Missenden, Penn Woods and West Wycombe. We take our dogs to Posh Paws in Widmer End and I recommend The Barking Barbers in Stokenchurch.”

Q. What are your favourite restaurants or pubs?
“Old Oak in Holmer Green for the best Sunday roasts! The Hit or Miss in Penn Street, Old Queen’s Head in Penn. Browns & Prelibato in Beaconsfield and Zaza in Amersham.”

Q. What about star businesses?
“Nathan’s fruit & veg in Holmer Green; the staff are super-friendly, and it has a great selection of quality produce. Hildreth Garden Centre in Prestwood is my go-to for a mooch and has a lovely café. The Square café in Holmer Green has the best hot chocolate. I go to Mulberry’s in Beaconsfield when I need pure relaxation! B2 Chalfont Clinic also deserves a shout-out: acupuncturist Kate is second to none.”

Q. Any hidden local gems?
“The bluebells in Penn Woods and Common Wood are a must-see. And the trip wouldn’t be complete without a stop at The Squirrel or Hit or Miss.”

“The bluebells in Penn Woods and Common Wood are a must-see.”

Q. What highlights are you looking forward to later this year?
“Holmer Green Sports Association’s beer festivals in May & August and garage night in September. Hell Fire Caves at Halloween is great fun. Then, at Christmas, visiting Waddesdon Manor with the family.”

Q. Are you a member of any groups?
“BoB [Business Over Breakfast] Club in Wycombe, run by Tina Duggan from Oven Loving. I’ve met so many talented local business owners.”

Q. If you could make one wish for the world, what would it be?
“Id wish for a world free from judgment and full of empathy, where individuals are celebrated for their uniqueness rather than condemned for their differences.”

Zone out!

Liz Nicholls

Buckinghamshire

Summer beckons, so why not think how you can best enjoy your outside space, come rain or shine? We speaks to some Bucks specialists who can help you

Picture the scene… The Euros have kicked off and you’re relaxing with friends, a chilled drink in your hand, as the action unfolds on the big screen…

And all of this (delete the hypothetical footie and replace with Wimbledon, the Grand Prix or the Olympics as you wish) in your own back yard. It’s an enticing prospect isn’t it? Well it’s not beyond the realm of possibility, thanks to a lightbulb moment Bob Best had last summer.

While Bob, who runs Herts Pergolas, was with his team admiring their recent handiwork, he noticed that the flat, white surface would make a perfect screen so a projector could be fitted opposite. “Suddenly the penny dropped,” says Bob, who has years of experience across the home counties building conservatories before switching to pergolas in 2022. “I thought: this is the perfect way to make the most of the space, watching the Euros. That’s the dream, in your own garden! You could add a hot tub or whatever floats your boat as well.” 

It’s a popular trend to create outdoor zones to suit a particular purpose which can make a huge difference, even in smaller gardens, where two or three areas work well. Outdoor structures such as pergolas are a great way to define a space and are often easier to achieve than extensions because they usually don’t require planning permission. That’s why pergolas are a fashionable choice with Bob’s customers, taking gardens to the next level.

“The bulk of our team’s work is now pergolas, led by our customers, which is great,” says Bob who lives in Kings Langley. “Our pergolas are made of aluminium, have a polyester powder-coated finish and are available in white or grey, which looks really elegant. They come in three sizes, 3 x 3m, 3 x 4m and 8 x 4m. The roof is fully adjustable, and they come with a full-height blinds and LED lighting with optional remote-controlled heaters and USB sockets to charge phones or devices. What’s genius, too, is they have internal drainage so that inevitable rain drains on to your patio area. It’s the way forward!” Visit hertspergolas.co.uk

Garden rooms have increasingly become an extension of your home and not just for those who work from home. If you’ve been coveting a beautiful hand-crafted bespoke oak building in your garden or adjoining your home, you’re not the only one! The Artisan Oak team work with clients across Bucks to help you design your dream bespoke space. The company, based just outside Stoke Bruerne, believe oak to be one of the most beautiful materials to use, with raw textures and uncompromisable strength. They also offer a landscaping service and incorporate materials such as glass, stone, brick and other wood, working along side sub-contractors for a hassle-free project. Visit artisan-oak.com

Seating is also a must, anything from a cute stylish bistro set for a smaller space to a full on comfy garden sofa next to a fire pit.

But, before you start planning your garden layout, you might come across an unsightly stump blocking your way. This is where the Wycombe-based Simply Stumps team step in. Led by owner Scott Howfield, a fully qualified arborist with 25 years of experience and a vast array of five-star reviews, they offer a convenient Whatsapp or online quote system at simplystumps.co.uk/free-quote/. Scott emphasises the challenge of removing tree stumps due to their extensive root systems, making digging them out nearly impossible. Instead, he recommends stump grinding, which produces fine woodchips that are easy to move and make excellent mulch for the garden. It’s a clean and efficient solution that avoids the hassle of dealing with a leftover stump. Scott also highlights the risk of honey fungus, which can use old stumps as a food source to attack living trees. As he aptly puts it, “it’s most definitely a case of better out than in!”

One thing that’s bound to be a godsend in this country is some sort of shade or cover. The experienced team at Verdec will help you create a fantastic outdoor area with bespoke timber garden structures and buildings, such as summerhouses, offices, adventure playgrounds, decking, hard landscaping and patios. Find out more at verdecfencing.co.uk

If you’re looking for high-quality long-lasting outdoor furniture covers or gazebo side panels check out family-run, UK-based Kover-it. The team manufacture all types of covers, including for sofa sets, BBQs, pool tables and gazebos. All are bespoke and manufactured to ensure the best fit. Visit kover-it.co.uk

Metal Gates Ltd are manufacturers, fabricators and installers of quality metal gates, railings, garage doors, balustrades and staircases. The family business has over 30 years’ experience in the metalwork industry, they can guarantee quality craftsmanship and a professional service from planning to installation. Contact them on  01628 621974 for a free no obligation quote. More at metalgatesltd.com

The Runnymede is having a makeover…

Round & About

Buckinghamshire

The Runnymede on Thames Hotel and Spa remains open, book your Summer stay at Runnymede and enjoy the outdoor pool and boats from the 5th May

Eagle-eyed locals & spa-lovers might have noticed that The Runnymede is being refurbished. With Warner Hotels now offering breaks from later on this year, we wanted to share a sneak peek of what’s to come in the autumn…

All 205 rooms will have a stylish new look with characterful artwork that reflects the history and natural beauty of the surrounding area. Fans of The Runnymede, which overlooks the Thames, will be pleased that the signature duck association will remain! There will also be 25 newly built rooms and those overlooking the river will have the added luxury of balconies.

There will be a choice of two restaurants – Market Kitchen and Brasserie32. Market Kitchen will replace Leftbank and will feature a deli bar, fresh fish counter and a roast of the day, carved to order. At the other side of the property, Brasserie32 will be located in the former Lock Bar & Kitchen with a menu filled with British classics. The property will also feature The Coffee Nest, an informal setting for sweet treats, tea and coffee, alongside further bars and lounges.

Those who would otherwise visit London for the theatre won’t be disappointed, as the hotel will host a diverse programme of entertainment in the new Live Lounge. From comedians to tribute acts and party bands, every stay promises an impressive line-up of unique shows.

The Runnymede remains the go-to place for R&A, with treatments to help put a spring in your step, including the highly recommended Salt & Polish Scrub: a thorough body exfoliation followed by an application of nourishing body oil to leave the skin smooth and free of dry skin.

Alongside plenty of entertainment, there will be ample time for R&R at the spa with pools, a sauna, steam room, state-of-art gym, studio room for yoga and other fitness classes, a relaxation lounge, and an extended wellness programme. This is in addition to a range of soothing treatments designed to nourish your mind, body, and soul. From May to September (weather permitting), guests will also have use of the outdoor pool with sun loungers.

There will also be activities to choose from including tennis, archery, laser pistol shooting, tasting experiences and cooking demos. During the summer months, there will also be boat hire available from the property’s private jetty. So much to look forward to!

Not forgetting the Runnymede’s complimentary shuttle service to and from Windsor!

Breaks are available to book online for autumn onwards. In the mean time the hotel will continue to operate as an independent property for stays, dining and spa treatments and days, though the team do advise that the hotel might not be looking its best while construction work is going on.

For spring and summer bookings book directly with The Runnymede; The Runnymede on Thames | Windsor Spa Hotel | Egham Hotel (runnymedehotel.com)

Volunteering with the Schoolreaders charity

Round & About

Buckinghamshire

Peter Henry tells us about his rewarding role as a volunteer with Schoolreaders… Perhaps you could sign up to change lives, too?

Schoolreaders is a national children’s literacy charity which helps children to catch up on their reading by recruiting, training and placing volunteers into primary schools in their local area.

I am happily retired after a successful career however; I can truthfully say that nothing I did in my professional life seems as worthwhile and satisfying as watching the children I read with improve their literacy.

Why is this so important? One in four children leave primary school unable to read to the expected standard.

This means they cannot fully access secondary education and only one in 10 of these children will get a GCSE in English and Maths. This can severely diminish their life chances. One in seven adults in England (7.1 million) are functionally illiterate so cannot read instructions on a medicine label, sit a driving theory test or fill in a job application form. That is why helping children to improve their literacy at primary level, has never been so important.

Nothing I did in my professional life seems as worthwhile and satisfying as watching the children I read with improve their literacy.”

I volunteer in a local infants’ school and my role is to focus on those children, especially those from more disadvantaged backgrounds, who need a little extra help learning to read. Fortunately, one thing of which you can be sure is that all children aged between five and seven are eager to learn and great fun to be with!

I, like many other Schoolreaders volunteers, could share a great many heart-warming stories. These include the boy who, for over a year, had really struggled, then one day was comprehending sentences and asking questions about the book, to the girl who not only reads the stories, but gives each character a different voice. I always return home from school with a spring in my step!

We are always in need of readers especially as more and more schools are asking for our help, which is provided absolutely free. So, if what you have read here has inspired you to think about joining us, and you can commit to an hour a week during term-time for a year, the next step is easy – please just visit School Readers to learn more.

The Money-Saving Gardener Anya Lautenbach

Liz Nicholls

Buckinghamshire

Self-taught Bucks “garden fairy” Anya Lautenbach’s new book can help you create your dream garden on a smaller budget, thanks to her hard-won experience

Standing amid a drift of beatifully  blooming narcissi, Anya Lautenbach has a smile as radiant as the blooming half-acre garden she has nurtured.

And this positive, sunny sight is even more miraculous because Anya is the first to admit that her self-taught gardening skills have helped her dig her way out from a dark place.

Anya grew up in Poland and was inspired by her grandparents who knew how to grow and forage for their food, having survived WWII. She arrived in the UK in her late twenties to learn English, leaving behind a career in business development. But while working on Mohamed Fayed’s Balnagown Castle estate in the Scottish Highlands, she felt extremely homesick and, on her mother’s advice, she bought a plant, which helped her feel “rooted”.

From this tiny plant baby, a strong passion grew, with Anya growing and propagating new plants, channelling the knowledge she’d absorbed as a child. Once her English had improved, she moved to Buckinghamshire to return to her corporate life, getting married and having her first son before moving to her current home in Marlow in 2012. She loved the natural beauty all around her but nonetheless felt herself sliding into a mental health crisis.

Propagation can connect us to previous generations.”

“I never asked for any help in terms of mental health,” she says. “I felt trapped and lost and I couldn’t even go for a run because I had a newborn.” Anya also struggled to process her shock and pain when close relatives back home in Poland were struggling with long-term illness. “It was like storm after storm after storm, and I was so overwhelmed, constantly in tears, struggling with what was happening back home,” she says. “Since then I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, which I now see as my superpower, but before then it was hard.”

Thanks to her mother-in-law’s encouragement, Anya began taking cuttings and her passion for the life-changing magic of plants grew, “almost like a positive dose of medicine. Propagation saved me from a serious mental breakdown.”

Anya, who lives with her husband and two sons, started posting short, easy-to-follow gardening hacks on her Instagram @anya_thegarden_fairy which went viral, especially as the cost of living crisis began to pinch. Today, she has more than a million followers across social media channels, including 690,000 on Facebook, almost half a million on Instagram and 60,000 on TikTok, where her tutorials include splitting clumps of “Rozanne” geraniums and other tips.

Dorling Kindersley published her first book, The Money-Saving Gardener: Create Your Dream Garden at a Fraction of the Cost in February, and it has become a Sunday Times bestseller. The book is a mine of helpful, creative tips to help save your pennies, the planet and maybe your sanity. “Propagation can connect us to previous generations – and to future generations too,” says Anya. “I’m delighted by the response!”

Bucks book shops worth a visit

Liz Nicholls

Buckinghamshire

Our independent bookshops welcome readers young and old as well as connecting authors to loyal audiences. Liz Nicholls chats to some of the people behind the local treasures which deserve your custom, thanks to face-to-face, tangible magic in an increasingly online world

Don’t underestimate the pulling power of your local bookshop! Recently Joan Borreli travelled from the USA to Gerrards Cross Bookshop to collect a signed, limited-edition copy of Sir Paul McCartney’s book, 1964: The Eyes of the Storm.

“There are only 175 signed copies of this book worldwide, and we were thrilled to be selected by Penguin Random House to receive one copy to sell,” explains Sheryl Shurville. “As you can imagine, we were inundated with phone calls and emails from interested customers, but Joan got in first! We had a lovely celebration for her and Joan combined her visit with a trip to Liverpool as she’s a huge Beatles fan. It’s moments like these that really bring home how much joy people get from books. It’s a fantastic memento that Joan and her family can treasure, and we were delighted to play our part in that.”

The GX shop has been cherished by locals for more than 30 years while its glam older sister, Chorleywood Bookshop, has clocked up 50 years. Both are now part of the same company, Chiltern Bookshops Limited, co-owned by Sheryl Shurville and Martin McKean, but the Chorleywood shop was originally set up by four women in the early 1970s. Both are cultural hubs for their respective communities, as Sheryl adds: “Individuals and families love visiting for pleasure and inspiration. They’re the lifeblood of the local cultural communities, inspiring the readers of today and tomorrow, connecting authors and their potential audiences. Our friendly, knowledgeable booksellers offer customers personalised advice on what to read next. These human conversations are so important. Customers really value these face-to-face interactions – it’s something they simply cannot get from shopping online!”

The shops also host about 90 author events a year, with recent highlights starring the likes of Rick Stein, Lorraine Kelly, Alastair Campbell, Victoria Hislop &Clive Myrie. “Our schools programme is extensive and expanding too, from large-scale author events, book fairs, supporting children’s literacy, and library restocks. It’s a vital part of what we do to inspire an interest in reading from a young age.”

Use your independent shops or lose them! We aren’t museums.”.”

Spring and early summer is always a busy time for book releases. On Monday, 15th April, 7.30pm at Chorleywood Memorial Hall, the Chiltern Bookshops team will welcome the writer and comedian Helen Lederer to discuss her powerful, frank, moving new memoir, Not That I’m Bitter. Tickets are £12; call 01923 283566 or email [email protected]

Women’s heath expert Liz Earle will star at King’s Church in Amersham, HP6 6LX, for an evening celebrating the publication of her new book A Better Second Half (tickets from £15).

Gardeners’ World presenter Frances Tophill will be at Chorleywood Memorial Hall, on Monday, 29th April to talk about her new book, A Year in a Small Garden which features photography shot throughout the year, as well as Frances’ own journal and garden notebooks documenting how she built her small oasis.

Highlights beyond this include former PM Theresa May, bestselling novelist David Nicholls, writer & journalist Clover Stroud and historian and writer Max Hastings. For this & more please visit chilternbookshops.co.uk

Young readers were also front of mind when Thame Book House opened in 1972, exclusively as a children’s bookshop… “Hence the gift of our wonderful Fat Puffin who stands outside (in opening hours) from publisher Puffin Books,” says Luise Pattinson of the shop. “We started in Cuttlebrook House – auspiciously WB Yeats had lived in that house a short while and his son was born there. As our business grew, we needed to expand; we were essentially in the main downstairs room of the owner’s home so we moved to our current position, 93 High Street, which allowed us to add books for grown-ups to our shelves!”

A few years later the same team opened a shop in Summertown, beloved by Morse author Colin Dexter…  “We had to close that branch exactly 40 years after opening,” adds Luise with a call to action for us all: “Use your independent shops or lose them! We aren’t museums.”

Among the many authors whose burgeoning career was nurtured by their local bookshop is bestselling writer and barrister Tony Kent. “I first came to know the team at Chiltern Bookshops when I moved to Bucks in 2018, which coincided with the release of my first book,” he tells us. “Despite being very early in my career at that time, Sheryl, Martin and their staff were incredibly supportive. They invited me to appear at a host of events throughout the first few years and made a big difference to my profile locally. As things have progressed and my books have become more well-known, that same support has been maintained, including a launch event for my fifth thriller The Shadow Network and our partnership with them at the UK’s newest major crime writing festival, Chiltern Kills.” For more on this October highlight, visit chilternkills.com

Anya Lautenbach’s new book, The Money Saving Gardener, is thriving as heartily as the Bucks garden she planted from seeds and cuttings. Her book was recently named a Sunday Times bestseller and featured in The Telegraph. But it’s her local Marlow Bookshop which helped tend this blossoming success… “I love supporting local businesses and was thrilled the shop wanted to stock my book and invite me to talk,” she beams. “It’s a wonderful place, with 25,000 books in stock. Since they know I’m local, they have been so kind to me and I have also supported them on social media. I love the fact that my passion, and now my book, have allowed me to connect with so many people.”

With its hotchpotch of characterful buildings tucked under wonky rooftops, Great Missenden High Street will forever be the BFG’s stomping ground in my mind thanks to Roald Dahl, the famous son of the village. It’s also home to St Andrew’s Bookshop which has served readers of Christian books for more than 65 years.

Real Magic Books opened in the heart of Wendover High Street in 2022. Co-owner Carl Gosling says: “Independent bookshops celebrate real books, showing people of all ages how beautiful, exciting and important they are. Booksellers work tirelessly to bring authors to our towns and villages, to share ideas and culture that hopefully bring us joy through art and the written word, and ultimately inspire us. Amazon does none of this; Amazon just believes in profit. Our motto is ‘good books for bad times’. Our highlight guests since we opened have included Irvine Welsh, Jeremy Deller, Salena Godden, Cold War Steve, and many more. There has been an event almost every week with lots of author events coming.”

l Please visit booksaremybag.com