Star Q&A: Timmy Mallett

Liz Nicholls

Wiltshire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Star Q&A: Ed Byrne

Round & About

Wiltshire

Liz Nicholls talks about life, laughs & lockdown saviours with comedian & dad Ed Byrne, 49, ahead of his live shows in September, including Oxford, Newbury, High Wycombe, Farnham, Camberley & Dorking

Q. Hello! Which comedians did you like when you were young? “I always liked Dave Allen. My brother had a 12-inch album The Pick of Billy Connollly which I remember laughing at with my Ma & Da. And then repeating the jokes (that I didn’t really f***** get but were still funny), to other kids who also didn’t get it, in a bad Glaswegian accent.”

Q. Have you had to rewrite material for your new show If I’m Being Honest? “I’ve done a few outdoor & drive-in shows, so I’ve been able to tinker as I go, see what works and what doesn’t. Now I am making jokes about the fact that jokes in the show are a couple of years old which really changes the joke. It demonstrates that life has been in suspended animation for two years.”

Q. What were your lockdown saviours? “I had visions of having a nice break, then taking myself off to the Scottish Highlands when the kids went back to school…but no! I did manage to film a show interviewing celebrities while hill walking but people love to accuse you of breaking the rules. At home we did a lot of Dungeons & Dragons and Pokemon battles. We divided and conquered in this house, and I was banished to the garden. I dug a vegetable patch, made raised beds, I laid a patio… all in the first flush of lockdown, obviously, before my get up and go got up and went. I taught myself via YouTube. When it comes to practical stuff it’s better to watch someone who’s only slightly more qualified than you cackhandedly find their own way through it first.”

Q. Is it true you shook hands with David Bowie? “It was more than that! I was in Adelaide and was invited on to an evening TV chat show. It was live, and as I was doing my bit, Bowie and his band gathered opposite me next to the cameras and audience. Then he did his interview & he was easily as funny as I was. We had a chat and, despite the enormous disparity in our standing, he spoke to me like we were contemporaries, like equals, which was very sweet, if mad! The following day Steven K Amos did the same TV show and he got to meet… The Wiggles. So I won that one.”

Q. What’s your most memorable heckle? “To this day the most devastating heckle I ever had was in Sydney when woman just stood up and shouted [adopts drunken Aussie accent] BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! That really was all she was hearing.”

Q. You’re a humanist, right? “Yes. Humanists help people organise things differently. A lot of the big things in life; how we mark marriage, babies, death, used to be controlled by religion but now there’s choice. You can be altruistic and an atheist.”

Q. Any up-and-coming comedians worth a shout-out? “When work was scarce, I watched a lot of short videos. I do think it’s fitting that I’m made to feel old by the app TikTok, which sounds like someone pointing at their watch counting my career down. I have enjoyed Alistair Green, Tom Little and Naomi Cooper who are all very funny.”

Q. If you could make one wish for the world what would it be? “Wow; big question! That it be disease free. And if we can’t go for disease-free, can we just make the diseases we have slightly less contagious?”

For Ed’s show details & to book, visit edbyrne.com

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Star Q&A: Andre Rieu

Round & About

Wiltshire

Liz Nicholls asks international classical music champion & dad Andre Rieu, 71, about life, love & music ahead of Together Again which comes to cinemas on 28th & 29th August.

Q. Your concerts look so joyful! How do you create that magic? “Wherever we play in the world, people start to dance when they hear The Blue Danube. Magicians use their wands, I have my violin and my bow. But there is also the joy I feel when I play my music. It’s real, and luckily, my fellow orchestra members share that joy and passion. And then there is this unmistakable interaction with my audience: we face them and they can see our faces too. You know, classical music has been composed for all of us – not only for the elite like some people tend to think. Johann Strauss, Mozart; they were pop stars in their own times. Music is my oxygen!”

Q. How have you coped over the last 16 months? “When a concert was over and we were travelling to our hotel, I used to watch baking tutorials on YouTube. So that’s what I’ve been doing: making cakes, pies and all kind of pastries for the street, haha! One of the most famous cake bakers in the Netherlands (Cees Holtkamp) gave me a masterclass on my birthday, that was a nice surprise! Nevertheless, I missed contact with my audience and my big family; that’s the nickname for all my fellow orchestra members. My saviours? My wife, our sons with their wives and our five gorgeous grandchildren. I am looking forward to touring and returning to the UK in 2022.”

Q. How did your father shape your path in life? “I was raised in a classical family. My father was a symphony orchestra conductor, all my brothers and sisters play one or more instruments, chosen by our mother. She thought the violin would suit me and she was right! No other instrument translates my inner feelings so well. My first violin teacher was an 18-year-old blonde girl with whom I instantly fell in love (I was five years old, haha!).”

Q. What’s the key to a happy marriage like yours with Marjorie? “The key to our blissful happiness is the 100% mutual trust, but also sharing the same sense of humour and giving the freedom the other needs. We’ve been married 47 years, we work together but we’re also still each other’s lovers. Most people forget but it’s important to enjoy life and laugh. In the Netherlands we have a saying: ‘Not having laughed one day is not having lived that same day’.”

Q. What surprising lessons have fatherhood, and being a grandpa, taught you? “Not a single day is the same as another. Try to enjoy every moment because your (grand) children grow quicker than you think. Besides that: freedom is the secret… they’ll come to you as a father or grandfather when they’ll need you. Last thing: I love to spoil my grandchildren once in a while…”

Q. Who would be your dream dinner party guests? “Walt Disney who said: ‘If you can dream it, you can do it!’ Next to him, the one and only true King of the Waltz: Johann Strauss. Albert Einstein because of his knowledge about the universe: Jules Verne and Columbus.”

Q. What wish would you grant the world? “World peace. Not to fight for, let’s say, one year. Try to make music… more fun than weapons!”

For tickets please visit andreincinemas.com

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Take five….

Round & About

Wiltshire

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

Wiltshire

“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

Wiltshire

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

Channel 5’s Skin A+E Needs Wiltshire

Round & About

Wiltshire

5 Star and Boom are looking for people from Wiltshire with various medical conditions to appear on SKIN A+E which is returning for its second series.

Following on from the success of the first series, which can be viewed here: SKIN A+E SERIES LINK

The doors to the Skin A+E clinic will be open for a second time, where a team of top UK dermatologists will give participants a FREE consultation, advice and medical treatment if appropriate.

If you, or someone you know, has a skin condition that you would like help with then the team at Boom would like to hear from you.

Perhaps your condition doesn’t qualify for treatment on the NHS? Or your treatment has been delayed?

Have you been unable to find the right treatment for your skin condition?

Or are you on a long waiting list for a referral to a dermatologist?

Their team of dermatologists would love to help you!

Applicants who are picked must be willing to talk openly and frankly about their condition and be available for filming for one day in April or May 2021. All applicants must be legal residents of the UK, currently live in the UK and be aged 18 and above.

To get more information and fill in an application form please email the production company at:

Deadline for applications is Friday 30th April 2021

We welcome applications from all sections of the community. Boom will process your information in accordance with its privacy policy (Boom Privacy Notice for Contributors) Applicants should be aware that due to the high volume of responses we cannot guarantee to reply to everyone.


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Love local with fresh food boxes

Liz Nicholls

Wiltshire

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

The Three Daggers in Edington

Grace Tracey

Wiltshire

A stay at the dog-friendly The Three Daggers certainly made my tail wag, not to mention that of terrier Roger

Anyone who knows me knows I love dogs. Another thing I love is staying in beautiful B&Bs in the gorgeous countryside (who doesn’t!). So a stay in The Three Daggers, a dog-friendly inn in the middle of Wiltshire’s valleys, was perfect for me!

Unfortunately, I don’t have a dog (yet) – so I borrowed my mum’s rescue terrier mix, Roger, for the trip. I‘d seen the pictures online but the whole property had such charm it simply can’t be captured in an image.

The self-proclaimed “quintessentially British” accommodation certainly lived up to the title. Our room was spacious and luxurious with a massive comfy bed and bathroom fit for a king. There was also a Roger-sized armchair which he soon settled into with his favourite blanket and one of my mum’s shoes.

We were shown Edington Farm Shop, full of local produce and much from their own Priory Farm inclduing their special Three Dagger ales from their micro-brewery. They also had fresh fruit & veg, pies, sausages, some rather lovely dog treats and even local artists’ work.

In the micro-brewery we were told by Jackie the Accommodation Manager, who was very kindly showing us around, they hold small weddings and with this year’s restrictions they have had a lot of interest from couples in using this stunning location for their big day, holding the reception in the upstairs of the restaurant which doubles as a quaint events room.

Just in case a pub, accommodation, brewery and farm shop were not enough for you – they also have a Spa Barn onsite which has an extensive treatment list and also includes a sauna, steam room, outdoor hot tub and a plunge pool! What more could you ask for!

Roger was in need of exercise by now, so we took a walk around the quiet roads and fields surrounding The Three Daggers as the sun began to descend. The hills and valleys made for a fantastic sunset, and the pinky-purple sky guided us back to the inn.

I’m envious this isn’t my local as it had a lovely warm and welcoming atmosphere – the staff could not have been nicer to Roger (and us of course). We ordered starters and mains and ‘cheers’ed a delightful house red to having a great time so far.

I’m not just saying this because we’ve not been out much since the lockdown, it genuinely was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I enjoyed a creamy baked camembert to start, a delicious veggie pie while my partner (often disappointed by small portion sizes) was pleasantly surprised with his pig terrine starter, steak and chips main. We both opted for the salted caramel cheesecake for pudding as we’d seen it pass on the way to another table earlier and decided sharing one wasn’t an option.

After a heavenly sleep, we were greeted by a basket of warm pastries and other breakfast treats outside our door – I loved the pain au chocolat. A brief walk with Roger in the morning sun and it was time to head back to reality.
If you’re a lover of the countryside and looking to treat yourself – and your pooch – this is an ideal destination!

If you fancy booking a visit for yourself or to find out more about the beautiful venue visit www.threedaggers.co.uk

#YouCanAdopt

Round & About

Wiltshire

We’ve partnered up with PACT (Parents And Children Together) to highlight the #YouCanAdopt campaign and encourage you to consider adopting

The team and their celebrity patrons are on a mission to debunk the myths on adoption and highlight the number of children looking for a new family

Adoptions in England have fallen by a third in four years but almost 3,000 children in England are still waiting to find their new family. That’s why an emotive new emotive film featuring adoptive families has been released as part of the campaign alongside a podcast series featuring a number of famous voices talking about adoption. In the film, the adoptive families recite a poem written by comedienne, writer and adoptee Joy Carter, which brings to life the stories of each of the families: the highs, lows and realities of adoption.

Carrie Grant, vocal coach, TV presenter and mum of four, said: “Our adoption journey began over eight years ago when we adopted our son, Nathan. We already had three biological children, but we had room in our hearts and knew we had the opportunity to offer another child a loving home. Adopting our son wasn’t an easy thing to do, but it was the right thing to do and a fantastic thing to do. He’s a Grant now, every bit as much as his sisters. I’d encourage anyone thinking about adoption to take the first step and find out more. It’s been such an incredible journey for our family.”

Sinitta, singer and mum of two, said: “I would definitely encourage others to consider adoption. I always knew I wanted children and I tried everything from IVF to surrogacy to have them. All of those journeys led to heartbreak, except adoption. The feeling of finally becoming a mother was almost indescribable; it’s just everything. It was everything I wanted and more. I love my children more than anything and I always say that love is thicker than blood.”

Joy Carter, writer, comedienne and adoptee, said: “It was a pleasure meeting all the different families and collaborating with them on this project. I was adopted when I was a baby, so the stories they shared with me really resonated. Every child needing adoption has a story and I hope by bringing some of those stories to life, people realise the difference they can make if they choose to adopt. I hope the poem and video will help encourage people to register their interest in adopting and help a child find a forever home. I’m really lucky that my parents gave me mine.”

Some of the biggest misconceptions around eligibility are that single people, older people, and those who are LGBTQ+ are not allowed to adopt, which is not the case. The new data revealed that participants felt the following groups would be either ineligible to adopt or were unsure if they were eligible to adopt; over the age of 50 years old 67% single 46% and LGBTQ+ 34%

The #YouCanAdopt campaign also aims to target potential parents from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, as these children traditionally wait longer to be matched with a new adoptive family. The campaign aims to encourage potential adoptive parents to also consider adopting older children, sibling groups and those with complex health needs or a disability.

The adoption process has evolved over the last few years; it is simpler and quicker than it has been previously and there is a lot more support available with over three quarters (76%) of adoptive parents finding the support and resources helpful.

Jan Fishwick, CEO of PACT, an adoption charity covering London and South East England, said: “The future of many children depends on adults exploring adoption and taking the first step towards becoming an adoptive parent. We need to address misunderstandings and outdated views to ensure that nobody is discouraged from taking the first important step towards adopting a child. Some people assume that because of their age or marital status they won’t be able to adopt, but that is simply not true, adoption is a choice for people who want to become a parent.

”It’s also important that prospective adopters are aware that they have a choice. They can choose to adopt through a local authority or a voluntary adoption agency such as PACT and we would encourage anyone thinking about adoption to explore all the options open to them.”

Visit www.youcanadopt.co.uk and begin your journey towards growing your family. To find out more about adopting with PACT, to download a free information guide or to book a place at an adoption information event visit www.pactcharity.org or call 0300 456 4800.