Instil Design runs for award

Round & About

Abingdon & Kingston Bagpuize

Martina Landhed, from Oxford business InStil Design Ltd, has been nominated as a finalist for the prestigious kbbreview Retail & Design Awards for the third time.

This time in the category; Bathroom Designer of the Year, projects costing over £25,000 category. The kbbreview Retail & Design Awards are a celebration of the very best retailers, designers and manufacturers in the kitchen and bathroom industry nationwide, celebrating their 27th year in 2021.

InStil Design Ltd Managing Director Martina said: “Being announced as a finalist among several hundreds of national designers is fantastic news, and I am delighted to be down to the final four.

“My desire is to always inspire and help my clients to realise the potential in their bathrooms. I aim to take their dreams and turn them into reality, whilst offering as personal service as possible.”

Martina has previously won the kbbreview Award Bathroom Designer of the year 2013, project costing up to £10k, and in 2017 Bathroom Designer of the year project cost £10 to £25k. She’s been running InStil Design with her knowledgeable and service-minded team from a boutique style showroom just outside Oxford since 2013.

The next stage of the 2021 competition sees the finalists present their designs via video presentation to the KBB panel of judges who will then determine who has best met the competition brief. The criteria include aesthetics, problem solving, product and material choice, uniqueness of idea, design initiative, and value for money.

The winner will be announced at the kbbreview Retail & Design Awards 2021 event that this year will take place on September 15th at Liverpool’s St Georges Hall, and promises to be the biggest industry post-lockdown party of the year.


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Take five….

Round & About

Abingdon & Kingston Bagpuize

Top tips for creating your home gym. We’ve teamed up with Morgan Beilby of local design and fit-out specialists Velvaere Studios to help you create the perfect home/work balance.

1) Make sure your space will function as a home gym

Avoid the mistake of a “room full of equipment” rather than a home gym. Carefully design your gym so that it allows for an effective work- out.

Many aspects can be overlooked but it’s the attention to detail that enables the user to experience the full benefits of a home gym.

For example; is your gym ‘zoned’ correctly, with separation between the strength and cardio area?
Is your gym flooring located in the right place?

Is there enough space behind your cardio equipment and are sockets in the right place to avoid trailing leads?
Are your mirrors located in the best position?
Is your bench and squat rack directly under any lights that are affecting your vision?

Our design service at Velvaere Studios enables clients to visualise their space, focusing on the details to make it perfect in every way.

Our design team use the latest design tools to assist our clients from initial concept to the equipment layout and final design finishes.

2) Does the space inspire you?

Once the fundamentals of design are established to enable your home gym to function properly, we can then work with you to personalise the space. We believe that a home gym should be designed to promote wellbeing and a sense of inspiration. The choice of wall and floor finishes, the mood created by the lighting and the atmosphere from air quality to fragrance will all contribute to the energy within the room.

3) Does the equipment match your fitness and lifestyle needs?

It is essential that the equipment you choose is the equipment you will use.
If your goal is to build muscle then you would want to focus on investing in strength equipment such as dumbbells and other free weights rather than cardio pieces such as a treadmill. You might like the idea of a treadmill, but you may still want to go for runs outside with your running partner so the equipment focus should be on the equipment you will most use.

We will help you to focus on selecting the equipment for your home gym which best suits your workout and lifestyle needs.

At Velvaere we provide a whole range of health and fitness equipment, to meet the needs of all training requirements. We create a solution for every space, ranging from a single set of dumbbells through to a full home gym set up.

We partner with world leading equipment manufacturers and will produce proposals to fit your budget.

4) Find the right space

Do you have a spare room or suitable space that can be repurposed? Many people convert their garages, spare rooms, basements and lofts etc. and it may be possible to make a room flexible in its use. It is important though to design it first before you go ahead and assume that it is suitable.

It may be possible to extend your home or a very popular option is to consider using a garden building. Again, you can re-purpose an existing building but often a better solution is a new purpose designed garden building. Companies such as our partners, Green Retreats, (https://www.greenretreats.co.uk/upgrades-to-the-bucks-showroom/ ) provide an efficient and effective way to expand your home to include a home gym where the building structure and amenities such as windows, doors and heating are all included in the price. Velvaere Studios then provide the interior fit out of the garden rooms with fitness equipment and specialist finishes that will transform your space into a fully fitted and perfectly functioning garden room gym specialist finishes.

5) Quality is key

Your home gym should be built to last. It’s a place to go to improve and feel better so both the interior fit out and the fitness equipment inside should reflect this. A home gym is an investment in yours and your family’s health, happiness and wellbeing. Your home gym needs to be a place that inspires you and the quality of equipment and finishes will all contribute. A quality home gym is much more than about how it looks, it’s about how it makes you feel.

At Velvaere Studios we work with world leading manufacturers such as Technogym and Life Fitness and our design and fit- out team has many years of experience of working on high quality projects .

The Velvaere one- stop service home gym fit-out service makes it easy and stress free for you.

We completely take it off your hands and create stunning home gyms that are designed and fitted out to not only function properly but to look and feel great so that you can too !

We would love to hear from you and to see how we can help to create your ideal home gym.

Visit www.velvaerefit.com, follow @velvaerestudios on Instagram, email or call 07580 155596

Shakespeare & St George’s Day

Round & About

Abingdon & Kingston Bagpuize

“Cry God for Harry, England and St George..!” Pit your wits against our Which William quiz in honour of Shakespeare & St George’s Day

We’re wishing you a happy St George’s Day & happy birthday to William Shakespeare with a Bard quiz from Guildford Shakespeare Company (GSC) who still have tickets for their live-streamed performance of Henry V this weekend.

Book in for HENRY V: live online, written by William Shakespeare & adapted & directed by Caroline Devlin from today until Sunday at various times. The cast brings together a collection of the company’s best-known actors including Paula James, Chris Porter, Emily Tucker, GCS founder Matt Pinches and Gavin Fowler. Matt tells us: “We are thrilled to have such a fabulous cast for this special retelling of Henry V, and Caroline’s inspiring 2014 production. This production, with the play’s own homage to theatre, will be a testament to the ingenuity and resilience of our industry, as well as a celebration of all that we love about the theatrical experience. The play also carries a unique message of hope that the impossible is possible, a sentiment that has never felt more poignant than in our recent times.”

Tickets are £20 – book at www.guildford-shakespeare-company.co.uk/Henry-5-online

As they celebrate their 15th birthday, the Guildford Shakespeare Company also kick off their return to the stage with the irresistible comedy She Stoops To Conquer, in the gardens of Guildford Castle, 17th June to 3rd July.

We have teamed up with GSC founder Matt to offer you the following Which William? quiz to test your knowledge against!

Which William?

Willy Wonka, Will.I.Am or William Shakespeare..? You might find it harder than you expected to establish which famous William said the following lines…

1 Every man dies, but not every man truly lives

2 There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so

3 The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together

4 When our memories outweigh our dreams, we’ve grown old

5 Better three hours too soon than a minute late.

6 Only the good die young

7 Can you practice what you preach
Or would you turn the other cheek

8 Love sought, is good; but given unsought, is better

9 We know what we are, but know not what we may be

10 There’s no such thing as the unknown, only things temporarily hidden

#BlossomWatch

Round & About

Abingdon & Kingston Bagpuize

Celebrate the UK’s first ever #BlossomWatch day in Bucks, Berks and Oxfordshire

The National Trust is urging people to use the longer, warmer days of spring and come together on social media to share their pictures as part of the charity’s first ever nationwide #BlossomWatch Day, Saturday, 24th April.

In Bucks, Berks and Oxfordshire, some of the best places to enjoy blossom include Hughenden, Cliveden, Stowe, Greys Court and Basildon Park.

As restrictions ease and loved ones can finally start to meet outside, the conservation charity is urging people to use the easing of restrictions to share in one of nature’s most magnificent natural spectacles.

People are being asked to share pictures of blossom on social media on April 24th using the #BlossomWatch. And by tagging their location, an interactive digital map (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blossom-watch) will chart the progress of blossom across the country.

The Trust’s Garden’s and Parks Consultant for London and the South East, Emma McNamara, says: “Blossom season is advancing apace, but we’ve had some frost damage recently from the low overnight temperatures. Magnolia and camellia blossom have been affected by this, burning the flowers at Greys Court and Basildon Park, which means they drop quickly. This highlights the fleeting nature and beauty of blossom. However, fruit trees such as apple, pear and cherry will be blooming in late April and early May in the orchards at Hughenden and Cliveden, buzzing with insect life pollinating for fruits later in the year.”

Blossomwatch is also a chance to indulge in the Japanese art of hanami whcih literally means “viewing blossoms”. Long ago, around the 7th century, when the Japanese talked about “hana” they were referring mainly to plum blossoms. But years later, “hana” has come to mean cherry blossoms. And now Hanami means “going out to enjoy cherry blossoms.” It is one of the most featured images in Japanese art and literature.

Junko Shimizu, Founder of the Amenity 2000 Association, says: “Cherry blossoms are the sign of spring. They tell us cold winter is gone, to take off heavy coats. People are eager to get this sign. This year cherry blossoms are slower to bloom than usual.”

For further information, inspiration and to donate towards the charity’s tree planting ambitions visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blossom-watch

Walk this way!

Round & About

Abingdon & Kingston Bagpuize

Chilterns Walking Festival is back from 22nd May to 6th June with more than 80 guided walks to enjoy

The Chilterns Conservation Board is delighted to announce that the Chilterns Walking Festival, sponsored by Brakspear, is back with an impressive programme of outdoor events.

The walks will help people explore the landscape, villages, nature and heritage of the Chilterns. The activities and events are designed to appeal to different age groups, interests and levels of fitness. Whether you are interested in sampling local drinks and produce, finding out about the history of the Chilterns heritage, or trying out a new activity or experience with your family, there is something for everyone.

Here is a taster of what is to come:

• Health & Wellbeing: We are offering a number of events from Nordic walk taster sessions and mindfulness walks, to gentle Nature Connectedness sessions, challenging trail run or a beautiful 25 mile walk around the Chess Valley.

• Family Friendly:  From woodland adventures and bushcraft events to storytelling, toddler toddle and nature-spotting walks, there are many activities perfect for getting outdoors and spending quality time with the family.

• Explore and Discover: The Chilterns is brimming with history and heritage and with so many places to explore it is no surprise that there are many walks offering the chance to discover more about our rich heritage and precious ancient landscapes. Why not step back in time with a Hedgerley Deep Time Walk or costumed Tudor walk, explore some old drovers routes, enjoy a George Orwell or Charles Dickens literary tour or some local produce tasting.

• Learn and Do: Whether it’s mastering tree identification, practicing map and compass navigation, or having a go at Nordic walking, there are lots of opportunities to get involved and try something new.

Chilterns Conservation Board People & Society Officer Annette Venters said: “After months of lockdown we are delighted to be offering such a full programme of events. It will be a chance to explore and enjoy the beautiful landscape of the Chilterns in small groups, led by experienced guides”.

For details of all guided walks, events and activities, which must be booked, please visit visitchilterns.co.uk/walkingfest. Most are free of charge, though some require a small fee which is clearly shown. To assist walk leaders with expected numbers, most events must be pre-booked. There has already been lots of interest, and numbers are limited for Covid compliance, so book early to avoid disappointment.

Putting children’s wellbeing first: Inside Out

Karen Neville

Abingdon & Kingston Bagpuize

Inside Out is an education charity based in Reading focussed on improving children’s wellbeing.

Children’s mental health and wellbeing have never been so high on the school agenda. Teachers have never been under so much pressure, managing daily change.

To help teachers and parents with the current, flexible approach to schooling, they have developed a ‘Wellbeing Guide’ based on their 5 Keys to Happiness, the equivalent of 5 fruit and veg a day for your mental health.

This is a free resource for schools, teachers and families packed with inspiration and activities to boost children’s happiness and wellbeing. These resources will now help ease the long-awaited transition back to school.

There is a wealth of information and resources out there but it’s often confusing and hard to know where to start. The Wellbeing Guides are full of activities that are simple, fun and quick-to-use, at home or school.

The Guide offers fun, simple ideas and resources for children, whether they are currently being educated at home or in school with a new edition shared each week during lockdown. Please see attached pdf of the latest edition, which includes a 5 Keys to Happiness poster for parents to print out and use at home.

For more wellbeing inspiration, why not follow INSIDE OUT on Facebook and twitter or visit their website www.theinsideout.org.uk for all previous issues of the Wellbeing Guide.

Read about pop icon Billy Ocean and the Young Voices Choir’s charity single to help children’s mental health here.

Love local with fresh food boxes

Liz Nicholls

Abingdon & Kingston Bagpuize

Love local! Fresh food delivery boxes so you can make restaurant-quality meals

Our hospitality industry has, of course, been brutally battered over the last 12 months. This is part of the reason we’re celebrating our food & drink heroes in our R&A Good Cheer Awards.

Crop To Kitchen is one of the many valiant businesses which has had to evolve to survive – and keep us well fed. Ordinarily, the team supply restaurants in London and the home counties – including Michelin-starred eateries and five-star hotels – from its Maidenhead base. These include iconic settings such as Cliveden House, the Hind’s Head and The Groucho Club.

MD Peter Codling says: “Like many, we have had to think on our feet. What was also important was that we helped the local farms and growers whose top produce was no longer needed by the trade. We wanted to avoid food waste and serve the community so they can enjoy great food at home.”

Their home delivery boxes, containing the finest ingredients, have won rave reviews. Customers can build their own order or choose a pre-selected box. As well as the best fruit, vegetables, meat and eggs, the Crop To Kitchen team also rose to the challenge in the first lockdown, sourcing items in short supply including fresh pasta. Foodies should also keep an eye on the website for new lines of produce, normally only supplied to the best restaurants, so that you can replicate the same level of excellence in your own meals.

The social media feed is filled with delicious recipe ideas. They offer free next-day delivery within a 10-mile radius, including Cookham, Bourne End, Burnham, Ascot, Slough, Windsor, Bray, Cookham Dean, Taplow, Bisham, Marlow, Henley and all the villages in between.

All orders are delivered in reusable and fully sanitised crates and plastic packaging is avoided when sourcing and delivering to fit the green ethos. The drivers pride themselves on meticulous presentation and comply with social distancing guidelines, using full PPE.

Crop To Kitchen also dreams big, with plans on the horizon including offering specific areas of land or poly tunnels for restaurants, once back on their feet, to grow their own bespoke produce. Peter is also going to rustle up some live-streaming nights featuring chef cook-alongs.

Get your box for Valentine’s Day – or to find out more, visit croptokitchen.co.uk.

We’ve teamed up to offer a box bundle to one lucky winner – watch this space for the competition which will go live at the start of March!

For some of our own recipe ideas, click here

Maymessy: Recipe for life

Karen Neville

Abingdon & Kingston Bagpuize

Social enterprise Maymessy is helping families learn valuable life skills.

Food shopping and cooking for a family can be a challenge, especially when you’re on a tight budget, but help is at hand from a Wantage-based social enterprise.

Maymessy at Garlands Farm, West Challow, believes in giving marginalised groups and disadvantage young people better wellbeing through cookery classes and wellness activities.

It was launched in 2017 by Anna Richards who turned a disused cow shed into the cookery barn supporting young carers, young people in the care system, families struggling financially, those with special needs and refugee families.

Maymessy works with eight local charities and youth groups helping young people to understand the importance of teamwork, build their confidence and self esteem and enjoy time outside in the shared garden as well as giving them greater knowledge of healthy eating and wellbeing.

Maymessy at Garlands Farm

This year, it has branched out to support adults from charities such as Refugee Resource and Style Acre with those who visit working in the vegetable plot and getting to grips with the pots and pans before sitting down to tuck into a plate of their own yummy and nutritious food.

Maymessy can also offer ad hoc work experience, volunteering and mentorship to the young people who go there.

Anna said: “As a qualified teacher with nutritional accreditation and a mother of twin girls, I know how food shopping and cooking for a family can be a challenge, especially when you’re on a tight budget or using a food bank.

“As a local community interest company, I wanted Maymessy to help these families by providing a safe and comfortable space to learn these essential life skills.”

And this year Maymessy has been supporting the NHS in Oxfordshire with weekly deliveries to around 100 Covid-19 special care staff.

Anna added: “At the end of lockdown, we also collaborated with Ray Collins Charitable Trust to provide care packages to the staff of the John Radcliffe Children’s hospital. It was there that we had the idea that we could partner to provide support to local families in Wantage – providing our cooking expertise to the families using the [Wantage Coronavirus] Support Group.”

The WCSG has been working closely with local families over the last seven months supplying much-needed shopping and over this time realised the difference these classes could make.

Anna Richards: Founder of Maymessy

Ray said: “Shopping and cooking on a tight budget is never easy and in some cases can lead to friction and tension in the home. So the Sustainable Wantage, Ray Collins Charitable Trust and the Coronavirus Support Group want to help out by organising cooking classes for parents and hopefully older children to learn new cookery skills together and how to plan and budget for meals.”

To find out more about the work of Maymessy visit www.maymessy.com

Read about the R&A Good Cheer Awards and nominate who has helped in your community.

The GREAT outdoors!

Round & About

Abingdon & Kingston Bagpuize

We’ve never appreciated being outside more than we do now and with more gradually opening up to us, let’s get out and enjoy it

It’s the time of year when we’re normally thinking about going on holiday and spending as much time as possible outside – and with more of us likely to opt for staycations and short breaks closer to home this year, where do you start?

Fingers crossed, campsites are preparing to reopen this month with social distancing measures and a limited number of places, some will reopen second fields while others will introduce measures such as a system including timed use of showers.

If you’re a camping virgin, The Camping and Caravanning Club is a great place to start with all you need and some helpful advice:

• Stay in the open air – there are many physical and well-being benefits of camping and caravanning thanks to spending time in the fresh air

• Stay local – there will be a campsite near you, there’s no need to travel far for a change of scene and the local economies will benefit too

• Stay comfortable – there will be social distancing measures in place when they’re able to re-open campsites

The Club’s Director General Sabina Voysey said: “We believe the great outdoors will never feel greater and we can’t wait for the day when we’re able to welcome people back to our campsites. By sharing our handy guides, top tips and online content we hope we can introduce even more people to the joys of camping and caravanning.”

TV presenter Julia Bradbury is president of The Camping and Caravanning Club and created The Outdoor Guide (TOG) website to share her love of all things outdoors.

She said: “Green spaces are incredibly important to me. And they don’t have to be big, wide open landscapes. Yes, I love the Peak District and the Lake District, and Dartmoor and I love exploring the wilds of Scotland, but green spaces, parks, gardens, even simple window boxes. These ‘little bits of green’ or smaller green environs are equally important.

“Growing something, for example, in a window box is a way to connect with nature. And that is something that we have evolved to do. And it’s an important part of our makeup. We know for example, that time spent in green spaces, whether that is parks or bigger landscapes, either of those, time spent in green spaces is good for us.”

For many time spent in outdoor spaces means enjoying a walk and while Julia won’t commit to a favourite she explained that was the reasoning behind TOG: “People have been asking me for years and years about my favourite walks or where I like to stay or the pub that I was at, or where I was when I had that pie and pint, or that little woodshop that I called into, or the blacksmith/carpenter I talked to…

“So we’ve put all of that information up on the website and there are hundreds and hundreds of really good walks up on there. It’s not fair for me to say a favourite walk because I just like being out there.

“And it depends where you live. Some people will never get to the other side of the country. They’ll explore what they’ve got on their doorstep and that’s absolutely fine as well.

“Of course, the Peak District would always have a special place in my heart as will the Lake District because that’s where I made my first TV walks – The Wainwright walks – filming in the footsteps of Alfred Wainwright, so those two places are special.”

Julia believes it’s just important for people to get out and enjoy it, especially now. She added: “A University of Exeter study of nearly 20,000 people in England last year revealed people who spend at least 120 minutes a week in nature are significantly more likely to report good health and higher psychological well being, than those who don’t visit nature at all.

“One hundred and twenty minutes a week is nothing but the benefits to all are enormous, quite simply nature and green spaces help to keep us healthy. Governments that don’t recognise this are being incredibly foolish – it’s almost like having a second health service… This study found the majority of nature visits took place within just two miles of people’s homes.”

There’s lots more information on Julia’s website The Outdoor Guide, www.theoutdoorguide.com

UK tourism industry site Visit Britain is developing a quality mark for tourism businesses, including campsites, in response to Covid-19. It aims to reassure visitors businesses are complying with government guidelines.

The National Trust is reopening some of its properties but with many restrictions still in place. Visitors can now walk in some of its open spaces locally – White Horse Hill at Uffington; Buscot and Coleshill Estate in Wiltshire; the Chilterns countryside; Ashdown, Lambourn; Bibury, Gloucestershire and Stonehenge landscape. Car parks have reopened at these sites, some with limited space on a first come first served basis.

Some sites have been able to reopen further with gardens, parklands, estates and car parks welcoming visitors. Booking is essential at all properties although the houses themselves will not be open. Those you can now visit locally include: Cliveden and Basildon Park in Berkshire; Stowe, Waddesdon and Hughendon, all in Buckinghamshire; Buscot Park and Greys Court in Oxfordshire.

Visit the National Trust website for details
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/how-to-book-your-visit-and-what-to-expect

A National Trust spokesperson said: “We knew that once we started a gradual opening of our gardens and parklands, tickets for our places would be very popular; particularly with such fine weather.

“We’ve made careful decisions about which gardens and parklands can open, and we have limited their capacity to ensure everyone can adhere to social distancing to maintain the safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers, which remains our top priority.”

Historic Blenheim Palace in Woodstock has also reopened its formal gardens and walks for visitors to enjoy. Again booking for dates and times is essential as numbers are limited. The Palace has introduced a number of safety measures such as installing hand washing facilities and sanitisers, operating a cashless system and screens at kiosks. Visit www.blenheimpalace.com/ for all you need to know.

Walk around the beautiful gardens of Stonor Park near Henley which has welcomed visitors again and enjoy the offerings from street food vendors too. Pre-booked tickets are a must with timed entry only. The street food will also need to be booked in advance. For more information and to book visit www.stonor.com

You can also enjoy a walk around Windsor Great Park, observing the now customary restrictions and Savill Garden has reopened to friends and members as well with a further phased opening planned to welcome more people to appreciate the splendour of the gardens.

Make the most of the English outdoors and celebrate it as The Camping and Caravanning Club says on its website ‘the good times will never feel better’ and ‘the outside will never feel greater’.

• Share with us where you like to go. Which places are you longing to get back to? Get in touch with us via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and share your pictures