Build It Live

Round & About

Marlow, Bourne End & Cookham

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 8th and 9th 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.

Zone out!

Liz Nicholls

Marlow, Bourne End & Cookham

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

Marlow, Bourne End & Cookham

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)

The magic of Pratchett

Round & About

Marlow, Bourne End & Cookham

Marc Burrows is bringing his celebration of Terry Pratchett to Norden Farm

Author, comedian and Terry Pratchett fan, Marc Burrows invites audiences to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the landmark comic fantasy Discworld series with his beautiful tribute.

In 2020, Marc penned the first ever biography of Sir Terry. The book received critical acclaim, won a Locus Award and was embraced by fans. This new, live multimedia show, based on the book, was then created with the full endorsement and support of Narrativia, the company founded to protect and promote the late author’s work in association with his estate.

The Magic of Terry Pratchett is a comic lecture in which Burrows explores Pratchett’s influences, his rise to fame, impact, and unique life, becoming one of the most beloved storytellers of all time. From the national treasure’s days as a school librarian, his time as a trainee journalist to his untimely death in 2015 and in keeping with Pratchett’s own style, the show is a gently comic celebration and exploration of his work. It will also seriously examine his death, and the activism he was involved with toward the end of his life surrounding dementia treatment and the right-to-die; an important part of his story and legacy.

In addition to using the framework of the The Magic of Terry Pratchett book, the show incorporates additional elements of Rob Wilkins’ official biography, Terry Pratchett: A Life in Footnotes, (A Sunday Times Bestseller) as well as licensed media.

Sir Terry Pratchett OBE is one of the world’s most widely read authors. Conventions dedicated to his work are held globally every year. His works have been translated into 40 different languages, sold 100 million copies and have been performed on stage on seven continents. John Lloyd was right when he said “of all of the dead authors in the world, Terry Pratchett is the most alive”. Pratchett’s short story The Abominable Snow Baby was adapted by Channel 4 as a Christmas Day animation in 2021. Sky released a feature film adaptation of his Carnegie Award winning book The Amazing Maurice in cinemas in 2022, and Good Omens, a TV series based on the book Pratchett wrote with Neil Gaiman, will have a second Amazon Prime season in the autumn.

Marc Burrows often writes on culture and social issues for The Guardian, New Statesman, Big Issue and Independent and his Edinburgh Fringe shows include The Ten Best Songs of All Time and Mind Your Head. Marc’s second book, The London Boys: David Bowie, Marc Bolan and the 60s Teenage Dream was published to considerable acclaim in 2022 and is in the early stages of adaptation into a feature-length documentary. Outside of writing and comedy, Marc plays in the cult punk band The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, regularly performing at the Download, Glastonbury, Bestival and Latitude festivals and touring the UK and US.

The Magic of Terry Pratchett is at Norden Farm on 28th March.
Tickets are available here.

Varvara Neiman Exhibition and Event

Round & About

Marlow, Bourne End & Cookham

Elgiva Theatre hosts an exhibition and a “meet the artist” event in March

A solo exhibition featuring local artist Varvara Neiman began at the Elgiva Theatre in Chesham on Saturday and will run until the 1st April.  Power Of Colour In Light is open to the public from 10.30 am – 3.00 pm daily, except Sundays. There is no cost to enter during these times.

Varvara obtained her MA in Fine Art at the Academy of Fine Arts in St Petersburg in 1996. Subsequently she worked in several local theatres specialising costume and set design.

Following a move to the UK in 1999 Varvara concentrated on her career as a professional artist, staging exhibitions in Suffolk, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and London. She now has a studio in Beaconsfield and is a member of both the Bucks Art Society and “HP9”, a group of local artists.

Varvara is also an art educator and teaches for artsmart School of Art and Buckinghamshire Adult Learning. She is currently teaching Life Drawing and her key subjects also include Portraiture, Water Colour, Oils and Acrylics.

At this solo exhibition Varvara is showing two of her favourite subjects, Portraiture and Landscape.

“I have always drawn people from a very early age and am passionate about creating a character either from life or from photos when undertaking commissions,” she says. “These can be celebratory surprises or simply commemorative. My favourite portrait artist is Rembrandt from whom I am always learning that a portrait of a person is all about their eyes which are a mirror of their soul.”

Varvara is very enthusiastic about painting en Plein Air and passionate about Cezanne’s famous quote: “Painting from nature is not copying the object; it is realizing one’s sensation…”

“For me whether it is a watercolour technique or painting in oils or acrylics it is about the power of light reflecting in a prism of a kaleidoscope of colours,” she says.

Varvara will also be showcasing her watercolour technique on Saturday 16th March when the is a chance to meet the artist at the Elgiva. The event starts at 1pm, and will explore Varvara’s artistic journey and inspiration and she will discuss her work in depth.

The Henley Players present Pygmalion

Round & About

Marlow, Bourne End & Cookham

Much-loved classic comedy comes to the Kenton Theatre, March 20th to 23rd

Eccentric phonetics expert, Henry Higgins, thinks he can pass off a poor flower girl in polite society with a few months of elocution lessons.

It turns out that spirited Eliza Doolittle has a mind and personality of her own and is not willing to lose them as easily as she sheds her cockney accent.

Strong characters and great wit animate this classic comedy, and the themes of social mobility and women’s empowerment are as relevant today as when Pygmalion was first performed, over a century ago. Whether you’re a lover of classic drama or a seeker of truth, this play promises an unforgettable evening.

Pygmalion spawned many adaptations for film and stage and was recently revived at the Old Vic.

The Henley Players’ Saturday matinee performance is once again ‘pay what you want’ with a minimum price of £5.

To book visit here.

Buy a butterfly to celebrate memories!

Round & About

Marlow, Bourne End & Cookham

BBOWT wildlife charity launches new commemorative display

To mark Valentine’s Day, a local wildlife charity has opened two new butterfly memory walls to celebrate special occasions, declare your love for nature – or your sweetheart!

The ‘Your Wild Memories’ displays have been installed by Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) at two of its visitor centres. They feature specially-designed butterfly plaques which can be personalised with messages to remember precious moments, people or wild times.

The butterflies are made of brushed stainless steel and fly above an eye-catching wildlife border. They have been put up at the Nature Discovery Centre near Thatcham and College Lake visitor centre near Tring.

Laura Pepper, BBOWT’s Head of Philanthropy, said: “If your Valentine sets your heart a-flutter or you’ve just got engaged or married, why not celebrate your love with a specially engraved butterfly? Or you might like to commemorate a special birthday, a retirement, a favourite family walk or perhaps remember a loved one.

“Butterflies hold all sorts of different meanings for people, as well as being beautiful to behold. Our new ‘Your Wild Memories’ wall is a lovely way to celebrate your special memories and help the vital work of BBOWT at the same time.”

The Your Wild Memories walls have got off to a flying start, with butterfly messages added by local MPs, writers and nature champions.

Estelle Bailey, BBOWT’s Chief Executive, wrote: This special place, with nature at its heart. Here for every community.

Laura Farris, MP for Newbury, left this message on her butterfly at the Nature Discovery Centre: Delighted to support the NDC, bringing the wild into the heart of Thatcham.

Buckingham MP Greg Smith’s butterfly at College Lake reads: Thank you BBOWT, our nature champions. Proud to support you and work with you.

Writer and butterfly lover Patrick Barkham left this beautiful message: Breathe in green, Breathe in blue, Soar soul! Thanks, nature.

Priced at £250 (inclusive of VAT), each butterfly can be engraved to order with the wording of your choice. Funds raised from the sale of the commemorative butterfly plaques will go towards BBOWT’s work creating more nature everywhere for everyone, to benefit wildlife, climate and people.

To order your personalised butterfly visit: www.bbowt.org.uk/support-us/your-wild-memories Order forms are also available from College Lake or the Nature Discovery Centre. For more information call 01865 775476 (Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm) and ask to speak to the Membership Team.

Your Bucks (and hens!) wedding guide

Round & About

Marlow, Bourne End & Cookham

Weddings in 2024 & beyond are an opportunity to ‘rip up the rule book’ and surprise your guests. Luckily Buckinghamshire has plenty of experts to help you achieve your dream, green, local wedding

Congratulations! You’ve said yes and celebrated with family and friends and – depending on the date for your big day – you’ll either be into full-on preparations or just making a start, but where to begin? Here are just a few ideas taking into consideration some of the trends for 2024.

Sustainability is a key consideration for many modern brides and grooms. Did you know the average wedding produces 14.5 tons of carbon dioxide? And weddings can negatively affect the planet in lots more ways, which is why Bucks wedding and event planners Eleanor Berry and Lois Langford, founders of Flamingo + Fern help couples tie the knot without causing undue harm to the environment.

Our single biggest tip would be to keep it as local as possible.”

“We’re seeing that people are increasingly interested in sustainability, not just in their everyday lives but also in major life events,” says Eleanor. “We believe this is going to be big trend for 2024 weddings and beyond. The wedding industry has a reputation for damaging the environment, and choosing sustainability can seem difficult or like you’ll have to compromise, but with a few simple changes, couples can still have the wedding of their dreams while reducing that negative impact. “Our single biggest tip would be to keep it as local as possible. Choose a venue close to most of your guests, pick suppliers near your venue, use seasonal, local produce and flowers and you’ll already have made a huge difference.”

For more simple, actionable tips on how to make your wedding more sustainable, you can check out their sustainable planning guide for free at flamingoandfern.co.uk 

Many couples will opt for biodegradable, recycled and upcycled decorations with “pre-loved” dresses becoming high on many brides’ lists from both an eco and cost point of view. Charity shops are a great source of beautiful bargains. Oxfam has a site dedicated to them at onlineshop.oxfam.org.uk/bridal

Hiring is growing in popularity, too. Searches for “wedding dress hire” have increased with specialist shops and sites such as Something Borrowed offering the opportunity to rent designer or vintage dresses. One of this year’s key dress trends is colour; brides in blush and dresses with floral motifs, blue hues and peach: Peach Fuzz is the Pantone colour for 2024.

Sisters Amy Ahern and Steph Miles opened White Lace and Butterflies fashion-forward boutique in Great Missenden in 2016. Since then they have been winning rave reviews from brides flocking from all over the world for the perfect frock. “We don’t do ordinary!” they say, in the pretty boutique inside a listed building, which has relaxed bridal rooms and super-spacious fitting rooms. “Your wedding is your chance to be bold and break the rules. We focus on contemporary and ‘out of the ordinary’ bridal style here in Buckinghamshire. You’ll find an unrivalled curation of world-renowned designers for the modern, fashion-savvy bride. Our collections are unique and anything but boring.” Take a look at whitelaceandbutterflies.co.uk

Since the pandemic pushed more couples into the open air, barns, vineyards and even industrial spaces remain popular for weddings. Many of these venues are also ideal for a more intimate celebration. Less formal catering and entertainment options continue to appeal for good reason, with charcuterie tables and local cheeses, dessert bars and live music, starring friends & family, making memorable highlights.

And, much to the relief of your guests, those formal, staged photography sessions of yore have made way for a more natural, storytelling approach. Photographer Chantelle Shepherd took the stunning cover picture in Chearsley and has won love from countless bride tribes for bringing out the best in her subjects, especially youngsters, having worked in childcare for 10 years. “I’m totally comfortable behind the camera,” she says… “however if it’s turned on me I don’t know what to do with myself! I feel awkward in front of the camera so I do my very best to make sure those who feel the same as me comfortable and relaxed.”
Visit chantelleshepherdphotography.co.uk

Justine Holliday, founder of West Wycombe’s Artisan Jewellery has more than 25 years’ experience and is loved for beautifully upcycling and remodelling pieces. She advises: “Give yourselves enough time to choose the perfect rings. Reserve space in your budget for your wedding band. Make sure it’s comfortable and it sits well with your engagement ring. You will hopefully be wearing this daily for the rest of your life, so you want it to stand the test of time, even when your tastes may have changed!” Please visit Artisan Jewellery

Heart felt with author Teri Terry

Liz Nicholls

Marlow, Bourne End & Cookham

Teri, whose psychological thriller The Patient will be published by Bookouture on 13th February, tells us about her local life & loves

Teri is no stranger to writing, having previously published 14 young adult novels. She was inspired to write The Patient after following the tragic news of the parents of a young boy who went to court to stop his life support being withdrawn.

This and other previous cases got her thinking about what life and death mean, both medically and legally, and how it might differ from how most lay people would view this…

“When I was a law student I was fascinated at the difference between ethics and a lay person’s gut reaction of what is right or wrong,” she says. “An action could be considered ethical even if many would consider it wrong; conversely, it could be unethical even if most might think it was right.”

Teri, who has worked as a scientist, a lawyer and an optician; managed her own business, worked for a charity and in schools and libraries, has been writing full-time for a dozen years, mostly thrillers for teens, starting with the Slated trilogy. She was born in France, going to school in Canada, and living in Australia before settling in south Bucks which has been home for almost 20 years and where she lives now with her husband and six-year-old cockapoo Scooby. “Bucks is very much home,” adds Teri. “We got engaged at the top of Coombe Hill… Then I slipped over in the mud. Scooby is much loved and full of life and mischief. Having her made such a huge difference to our lives during lockdown. Tommy the trainer is one of her very favourite people, now located at Pegasus Unique Pets in Whitchurch [pegasuspets.store].

“I love that we have easy access to canal and countryside walks here, but are still being able to get to London in under an hour: the best of both worlds! I love Black Goo in Tring and Thame is a favourite haunt. Also, The Bell in Aston Clinton and Rumseys in Wendover for getting together with other writers, eating chocolatey treats and having a good natter. I’m also very pleased there is a new independent bookshop in Tring, Our Bookshop.”

The Patient is a psychological thriller about a heart transplant recipient who becomes obsessed with her donor. You can order or pre-order before that date on Amazon.

Moving mountains

Liz Nicholls

Marlow, Bourne End & Cookham

Angelina Messenger tells us about her role as a mountain leader and her love for life in the Chilterns

When it comes to aspirations and living life to the full, it’s fair to say that Angelina Messenger sets high standards for herself.

The 47-year-old mum of twin boys who lives in Lane End has a degree in archaeology from Reading University (becoming a member of Mensa many years later), sails regularly at Maidenhead Sailing Club and is an experienced and qualified mountain leader and National Navigation Award Scheme provider.

“As a family, we all climb together at indoor walls and outside on the crags when we can get to them,” she says of her husband and boys, who have just started secondary school in Marlow. “My job and personal hobbies definitely merge into what would be considered mountaineering, but nothing on as grand a scale as Everest, yet…”

Angelina began walking and camping in the hills and mountains as a child growing up in Surrey and has felt the urge to explore ever since. “I later took up mountain biking and adventure racing, kayaking and climbing; I seem to have a never-ending need to try new things. I remember poring over maps, atlases and all things geography as a teenager.

“I love being outside in our beautiful countryside and mountains, and I’m passionate about improving wellbeing through that connection with the natural world.

“I also love sharing my experience and helping other people to achieve new skills and have amazing adventures.”

However adventure starts close to home and Angelina loves where she lives, especially the area around Maidensgrove for some wide open space on the common and its quaint villages… “I’d also pick St Mary the Virgin Church in Radnage,” she adds. “Built far back in the 12th century by the Knights Templar, the inside is always open and tranquil, and it has some fascinating wall paintings that span 600 years. And the views from the hills as you approach it are so picturesque.

“I often use Coffee on the Green in Stokenchurch to meet groups for navigation courses because it’s so well positioned for access from the motorway and the bus service, as well as offering great service and cake! I love the Chilterns’ rolling chalk hills with the special and unique species of plants and animals, the extensive walking network and the conservation work going on to protect our precious natural landscapes.”

This year Angelina is increasing the number of walks and courses she’s running locally, and is looking forward to welcoming people and local groups to gain skills and experience that lead them on to adventures beyond in other beautiful and remote upland areas of the UK.

Please visit angelinamountainleader.com