Vox pop Q&A with Holt Dugan

Round & About


Carpenter & dad Holt Dugan, 45, tells us his best bits of Bucks after swapping America for Amersham

Q. Hi Holt. Where do you live?
“I live in Amersham with my wife Emily and our kids Ada (4), Sam(2), and our English Springer Spaniel Sonny. We live in Amersham and moved here from SW London in 2021. However, I grew up on a row-crop farm in the American mid-west and moved to England from Nashville at the end of 2018 after meeting Emily when she was visiting for work – we’ve been busy!”

Q. What are your favourite shops or local businesses?
“I can often be found at Timberstore in Beaconsfield where the team always look after me, and John Cox & Son Motors are top-notch mechanics and just generally good people. I work as a carpenter, specialising in bespoke garden rooms and outdoor kitchens, treehouses, pergolas and playground equipment, as well as fitted indoor furniture such as wardrobes, cabinets, bookshelves etc.”

Q. What are your favourite local pubs or restaurants?
“Lunches at Darmon Deli and at Spiga in Amersham are always great. In both instances, the proprietors are as terrific as the food. With two small children my wife and I are more likely to enjoy an evening takeaway from Tom Yum Thai in Amersham or from Kai at Shangri-La Chinese in Chesham. However, if we are going out, we do like to treat ourselves with the daal makhani at Hawkyns or a night at The Griffin in Old Amersham. I worked as a chef many years ago in Austin Texas so my ultimate treat is probably a tasting menu somewhere very fancy, which often surprises people! The Artichoke in Old Amersham for my birthday last year was exceptional.”

Q. What are your favourite walks?
“Sonny comes to work with me most days and my business partner Jon has a spaniel too so they have a great time! Our favourite place to walk is in the woods at Hervines Park near to where we live, particularly when the bluebells are out.”

Q. What highlights are you looking forward to later this year?
“Workwise we’re about to start building a three-tier treehouse with a zip line and climbing wall which I am excited about. With the weather finally turning nicer we are getting more outdoor kitchen projects being booked in. We just finished a really fun one in Chalfont St Giles and have another really unique one booked for Beaconsfield in a couple of weeks. We also have a massive timber-framed barn restoration and conversion on a farm outside of Chesham we’re really looking forward to. We’ve got a really enjoyable next few months coming up. Outside of work my family has a couple of holidays coming up. In July, my parents are coming over for my daughter’s nursery graduation after which we are all heading to Menorca for two weeks. Then in October my wife and kids and I are joining other friends for a week in Turkey.”

Q. What do you most love about where you live?
“I just love Amersham. The people are lovely. My neighbours are kind and amicable. The town itself has everything I need from hardware and timber to speciality groceries to Michelin star restaurants. Not to mention the absolutely breathtaking rolling hills and centuries old architecture. I can be lost in the woods, on a playground with the kids, picking up dinner, getting a cup of coffee or catching the tube to London, all within a 15-minute walk from my house. Y’all know how to design a town over here!”

Q. Finally, if you could make one wish for the world, what would it be?
“I would wish for everyone to live with a little more love and a little less fear. To work hard, laugh loudly, eat well, and be kind. Also, hire us for your next building project!”

Call Holt on 07379 209449.

Farm shops worth forking out for!

Liz Nicholls


Summer is the perfect season to sample the goodies at your local farm shop (NB many close on Mondays!), support homegrown growers and help the environment. Liz Nicholls offers her pick of the crops in Bucks & nearby

Fellow foodies, you’re in good hands at the universally loved Peterley Manor in Prestwood, HP16 0HH. Its founders, the Brill family, have been farming in these parts for more than 130 years. Today Peterley is a great day out, with its nursery, pick-your-own and gorgeous Barn Kitchen (a feast for your eyes and tastebuds). The multi-award winning farm shops stocks homegrown, British and seasonal produce, plus products from 100+ suppliers, including Bucks Fish, Laceys (more of which imminently), Nettlebed Creamery, Marlow Cheese Company and Norton and Yarrow. There are wellbeing events, and more too. Visit Peterley Manor Farm or call 01494 863566 to find out more.

The Laceys are into their seventh generation carrying on a passion for farming and preserving our beautiful countryside. And Laceys Farm Shop, HP14 3LP, is the cream of the crop! The farm is home to a pedigree herd of Guernsey Cows, beef cattle and arable croppers with milk bottled on site and delivered around local towns and villages, supplying independent cafes and restaurants. The Laceys are delighted to have been crowned Best Farm Shop and Deli in the 2024 Muddy Stilettos Awards. Visit Laceys Family Farm / 01494 881660.

Oxmoor Farm in Great Hampden, HP16 9RD, is open for the season! Every month the Wild Feasts team welcome a resident chef to cook a sharing banquet on the farmland to serve diners on shared tables overlooking the idyllic views (or in the renovated barn in cooler months). Beautiful new restaurant The Barn offers coffees, small plates, pizzas and natural wines and you can shop for fresh free range eggs, local honey and more. Visit Oxmoor Farm – The Barn & Wild Feast’s.

Would you like some wonderful Wagyu beef?! Pop into Town Farm Shop in Bisham, SL7 1RR, for this as well as fresh eggs, lamb, pork and pheasant (when in season). Visit Town Farm Shop or call 01628 473781.

Copas Farms Estate is a progressive, family-run, rural estate with deep roots in sustainable farming, in a fairytale setting. There are two pick-your-own Fruit Fields juicy with produce and the Copas Farm Shop in Iver, SL0 0LU. Visit Copas Farms Estate or call 01753 652727.

Nearby, soft fruit and apples grow in abundance and you can pick your own or stock up on groceries at Home Cottage Farm Shop, SL0 0BB. Call 01753 653064 or visit Home Cottage Farm to find out more!

Looking to ‘taste the rainbow’ and tuck into the freshest produce? Emmett’s Farm Shop in Little Marlow, SL7 3RR, offer this, plus chilled & frozen items, cakes, flowers, local honey & much more. Call 01628 484094 or visit Emmetts Farm Shop

Are you, like me, a sucker for a scotch egg?! This (as well as Mrs Blusch’s strawberry jam) is one of the specials attracting a loyal customer base at Amersham’s Hatchery Farm Shop, HP7 0JY. Visit The Hatchery Farm Shop or call 01494 670109.

All the goodies are created with love and locally sourced at Orchard View Farm in Little Meadle, HP17 9UG. This postcard-pretty setting is a dog-friendly and also has a café, farm shop, butchery and campsite. Call 01844 273387 or visit ORCHARD VIEW FARM

Farming comes first at the small but perfectly formed Buckmoorend Farm Shop in Butler’s Cross, HP17 0UT. You’ll find quality pork, beef and lamb, available for sale and the family team are involved in the entire chain, from farm to fork. They also serve hot food and drinks from the farm kitchen. The farm is surrounded by natural woodland amid the undulating Chiltern Hills and is part of the Chequers Estate, steeped in history. Call 01296 622472 or visit Buckmoorend Farm to find out more.

From pies to parties the team at Bradmoor Farm, Shop & Café in Haddenham, HP17 8JX are ready & waiting to help you! The butcher’s counter is full of quality cuts of meat and is a great stop for barbecue-lovers – the team’s banging burgers and sausages are freshly made on site. Call 01844 299387 or visit Bradmoor Farm to find out more.

Suppliers to the best in the hospitality business, Boarstall Meats was established in 2000 to market all the livestock produced on the Ernest Cook Trust farm of 500 acres half of which is on Muswell Hill (besides the Pheasant in Brill) which in places in 500ft above sea level and therefore only suited to grazing livestock. The shop is open Thursday to Saturday, and the team can cater for your outdoor events. Call 01844 238256 or visit Boarstall Meats to find out more.

Still fresh after 70 years in business, Rectory Farm, in nearby Stanton St John, OX33 1HF, is home to 45 acres of PYO fields, a well-stocked farm shop, cafe and woodland play area for a beautiful day out in the countryside. I’m a little bit obsessed with the coffee, with an obligatory wodge of cake. I also highly recommend the pies and sausage rolls from the Eadles Farm in neighbouring Beckley and Kingcott Dairy’s award-winning cheeses. Home – Rectory Farm (rectoryfarmpyo.co.uk)

For artisan foods with provenance you can’t beat The Wild Pig (formerly known as The Crazy Bear Farm Shop) at Stadhampton, OX44 7XJ. The team here started breeding Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs in 2006 and it was the world’s first farm to be TSG approved, awarded for welfare excellence by Compassion in World Farming. Visit The Wild Pig for more about this & scenic hot air balloon rides!

Whether you’re looking for quality meat, seasonal veg, homemade pies, seasonal game or tasty chutneys, Kings Farm Shop in Nash Lee End near Wendover, HP22 6BH, is always worth a visit. For more info please call 01296 622014 or visit King’s Farm Shop in Wendover

The rosettes hang proudly at Parrott Bros Farm Shop on Beechmoor Farm in Whitchurch, HP22 4LG. You’ll find top-quality meat including gammon, venison, rabbit, chicken, duck, guinea fowl, partridge and sausages as well as pork pies, fruit and veg, dairy and bakery items, soups, pickles and preserves! Call 01296 641207 or visit Parrott Bros

Priding themselves on the best homegrown and homemade produce, the team at Waterperry Farm Shop, OX33 1LB, deliver to a large portion of west Bucks. Visit Waterperry Farm Shop or call 01844 369351 for more info.

I’ve almost got to the end of my greedy list but a shout-out to Jeremy Clarkson’s Diddly Squat Farm Shop over in Chipping Norton (as seen on Amazon Prime). Diddly Squat Farm Shop

You can find more shops near you – or wherever else you’re visiting over the summer – at Fabulous Farm Shops. Tuck in & enjoy!

Summer daze

Liz Nicholls


Holidays are on the horizon so let’s get out and have a good time whatever the weather. There’s fun for all ages to enjoy!

Summer feels as though it’s been a long time coming this year, don’t you think? We’re determined to squeeze every last drop from it, once the holidays start!

Luckily, whether you have tiny tots or surly teens to entertain, there are lots of events and attractions nearby to make great memories.

Quainton has been home to a railway station since 1868. And today this lovely rural village is home to a working steam museum and heritage railway (with a smashing visitors’ centre) where kids can enjoy steaming days for just £1pp over the holidays., from 24th July to 1st September. On steaming days the whole 25-acre site is open including steam train rides, miniature and model railways, as well as a gift shop, and travelling post office – a great family day out! Adults £12.50; seniors £11.50; kids £1, under-3s free. If you’re quick you can catch Zog on 30th June and Emergency Services Day is on Sunday, 11th August (£7.50pp & ES workers get free entry with their work ID). And there’s more! A Classic Car Show on BH Monday 26th August & Dino Day on 15th September. Please visit Buckinghamshire Railway Centre for full info.

Chiltern Open Air Museum in Chalfont St Giles, HP8 4AB, is always worth a visit, bringing stories from the Iron Age to the mid-20th century to life. There are 37 historic buildings for you to explore, filled with real objects, including historic toys and games. Try on WW1 uniforms, hats and pinnies, as well as Victorian clothing, accessories and more. Please visit Chiltern Open Air Museum for activities & what’s on.

Based largely in a medieval hall house, Amersham Museum brings to life fascinating local stories through exciting family-friendly exhibitions and events. You can travel through time with the new displays, join a guided walk, get creative in an activity session, or enjoy the herb garden. Also browse the shop full of locally inspired gifts! Amersham Museum

We love Wycombe Swan which offers the best of the West End with a spanking new season of shows, from The Rocky Horror Show starring Jason Donovan (call me, Jason!), to A Chorus Line, Grease, and Elf the Musical plus the magical pantomime, Aladdin, starring local hero Vernon Kay and the sensational La Voix. While we’re in Wycombe, a quick westwards mention for the fabulous Hellfire Caves: visit Hellfire Caves

We hope you enjoy our farms special! We can’t not give a friendly oink to one of our faves for animal adventures and indoor/outdoor fun, Odds Farm Park, HP10 0LX. oddsfarm.co.uk

Kew Little Pigs is the award-winning farm in the Old Amersham with piggy experiences, petting pens and a new barn (which you can hire). If you’re smitten with the porkers (stars on screen & field), there are piglets for sale. Word to the wise: wear wellies! Visit Kew Little Pigs Farm

The Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre in Great Missenden invites visitors to enjoy a peachy time (sorry) celebrating James and the Giant Peach from 20th July to 1st September. Enjoy Roald’s writing hut, and check out the activities lined up Tuesdays to Sundays including hands-on science workshops, daily storytelling, a themed trail and craft. Call 01494 892192 or visit Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre

Fancy getting some fresh air? You can go above & beyond at Go Ape which has adventurous sites at Wendover, and Black Park in Slough, among others. Check out the zip wires, Tarzan swings, rope ladders, leafy hideout, Monkey Shuffle and more, including Captain Fantastic & co at the Black Park branch. Visit The Game Fair Festival of the Countryside

An Open Garden Tea Party at 2pm on Sunday, 4th August, at Woodlands House, SL7 3RN, will include a meadow walk, sculpture, arts & crafts, with added sparkle thanks to local wine heroes, Harrow & Hope. What’s more, proceeds will go to Medical Detection Dogs. For tickets & info please email [email protected].

I used to love taking my little tot to Gulliver’s Land and since then, the fun resort in Milton Keynes, MK15 0DT, has grown to offer even more giant fun! Book tickets to enjoy Dinosaur Discovery and Farmyard Fun from as little as £10pp and there are great stay & play packages too. Visit Gulliver’s Land Theme Park Resort | Milton Keynes (gulliverslandresort.co.uk) and also find our super-duper voucher deal opposite!

If Olympian Sharron Davies has inspired you, historic Wycombe Rye Lido, HP11 1QX, has family sessions and a great gym. Visit fusion-lifestyle.com/centres/wycombe-rye-lido/

Fancy a spin!? Rogue Leisure in Aylesbury, HP19 8DB, has the fastest indoor karts in the UK where you can test your skills on a banked corner up to 45mph. Or give Ten Pin Bowling a whirl, up to seven players per lane and you can wear your own shoes! If karaoke is more your jam, book a pod for up to eight singers with 80,000 songs to choose from all genres and eras, an amazing sound system and 50″ HD TV. To book your trip visit Activity Centre Buckinghamshire – Rogue Leisure

Bekonscot, HP9 2PL, features the world’s oldest and original model village, huge model railway, 1.5 acres of well-tended gardens and intricately detailed model buildings. Travel back to a 1930s idyll, see England how it used to be, and discover this wonderful little world tucked away from modern life. Visit Family Day Out | Beaconsfield | Bucks | Chilterns (bekonscot.co.uk)

Take your kiddies to see another type of kid and interact with the friendly team of animals at Aylesbury Goat Centre in a safe, and caring environment. Along with goats, you’ll find playful piggies, cheeky chickens, very inquisitive alpacas and cuddly rabbits (the best pets!). For more info visit The Bucks Goat Centre Aylesbury

Denham Country Park, UB9 5PG, has loads to keep young explorers occupied, not least Denham Adventure Zone for 12s and under, including a sand put, adventure trail, tube slide, treehouse, toddler swing and more. Join a bird-spotting safari, collect a map and enjoy some family orienteering. Home – Colne Valley Regional Park (colnevalleypark.org.uk)

Widmer Farm Park in Princes Risborough, HP27 0PG, is the perfect place for your little ones to meet llamas, alpacas, goats, sheep, ponies and donkeys amid the picturesque Chiltern Hills. Please visit Farm Attraction | Widmer Farm Park | England

Wishing you all safe, smiley, sunny fun!

Celebrate creativity with Bucks Art Weeks

Round & About


Bucks Art Weeks, the county’s largest visual arts festival and open studios event, returns, 8th to 23rd June. You’re invited!

Every year in June the bright yellow signs go up across Buckinghamshire, and just across its borders. Often these are put up by individual artists and makers who’ve found the courage to open up their homes or studio to exhibit work to the public. Sometimes they are put up outside venues such as galleries, art centres, churches, barns and village halls where groups of artists gather together to create their displays.

As a visitor you might decide to visit open studios on your doorstep to support artists and to consider buying work. Other visitors plan tours using a town art trail, and can easily spend half a day meeting many of the artists, fuelled by a morning coffee or afternoon tea – many venues offer refreshments in exchange for a charity donation.

The free festival directory and website Bucks Art Weeks offers you a map of the locations of all these creatives. Decide on your stop-offs by looking at the online gallery belonging to each artist or maker, and check opening dates and times, parking, access and whether it’s a working studio with demonstrations. Keep an eye on @bucksartweeksofficial social media too.

One artist taking part for the first time is illustrator Elly Bazigos, whose work will be on show at Amersham Museum. She says: “I love interpreting history through illustration and drawing to process my experiences. Sometimes I even work like people in days gone by – I draw using a nib taped to a twig! For the museum, I hand painted more than 35 illustrations bringing Amersham history to life, bringing colour and charm to the timeline. Working with the museum is a pleasure. It’s small but mighty and I’m thrilled to be featured.”

An established favourite venue is Where Inspiration Blooms at Holy Trinity Church in Penn Street. Each year a diverse group of artists show their work here, and this year there are landscape paintings, ink prints, kiln-formed glass, ceramics, wildlife paintings, hand embroidered textiles and stained glass. Mia Babb, one of the artists, creates pen and ink drawings, often embellished with gold leaf. “I’m excited to be exhibiting with a talented, diverse group at a lovely venue which includes a brilliant pop-up cafe,” she tells us.

If you’re looking for something unique for your wardrobe, you could visit Sarah Ives in Lane End, who makes hand dyed and printed textiles. She says: “I discovered botanical printing and natural dyeing in 2019. I’ve always loved nature and crafts so it seemed a perfect fit, which quickly became a passion! I use plants, flowers and leaves to hand dye and print textiles. I create wearable art from natural fibres such as silk, wool, linen, leather and cotton, using crafts I love: sewing, crochet and weaving. You can often find me gathering the leaves, flowers, and plants from my garden where I grow my own flowers to use for dyeing and printing.”

Princes Risborough artist Christine Bass has been part of Bucks Art Weeks for an amazing 19 years, and she is the cover artist for this year’s directory with a lovely field of poppies. She paints her contemporary landscapes using acrylics with a collage base, and much of her work is inspired by the Ridgeway Path and the Chilterns countryside. Strong lines and shapes, flattened planes and saturated colour characterise a style that has won her many accolades. She is exhibiting among nine artists who are showing paper sculpture, ceramics, mosaics and jewellery at the medieval St Dunstan’s Church in Monks Risborough.

Did you know there is a new art gallery in Great Missenden? Hanks Gallery recently opened on the High Street. Claudine Hanks grew up in Little Kingshill and has lived in Prestwood for 17 years. She named the gallery in tribute to her father who sadly passed away when she was 10.

“I love the village,” says Claudine. “The countryside, community, knowing so many people when you pop to pubs and the gym. And the locals are delighted to have a gallery back on the High Street. It’s always been my dream to own an art gallery and exhibit my creations. I love what I do. And, knowing that people love my work too, well that’s simply… amazing.”

As a child Claudine loved to draw and paint. After passing her GCSEs at Rickmansworth Masonic School, then art A Level at The Misbourne, she gained an art foundation qualification at Bucks College. Claudine, who lives with her partner Kate, is also a graphic designer and proud owner of design agency, Blooberry Creative, an agency that helps businesses and charities with their branding, websites, campaigns and more. You can find out more at blooberrycreative.co.uk

Busy Claudine is also a DJ who founded OUR HOUSE which hosts local house music events. She adds: “I’m looking forward to the Our House day event on Sunday, 25th August at Magnolia Park in Wycombe. I’m DJing as well as my partner Kate and a host of other DJs. Tickets are available on Eventbrite, so see you there!”

Hanks Gallery will be open during Bucks Art Weeks and alongside Claudine’s work you can enjoy works by animal artist Sue Sibley. For more details please visit hanks gallery – art gallery

The Rowsham Creatives group at Manor Farm are busy bees. Before Bucks Art Weeks begins, on 1st June, they’ll host a fundraising event for the Multiple Sclerosis Trust with special guest actress Gill Wright (Jean Slater from EastEnders). Then throughout the festival fortnight there will be workshops for children (and adults) including: glass fusing, card making, drawing people, collages, painting in acrylic, pottery and print making. Find events and book in for a creative workshop at Rowsham Creatives – Manor Farm Fused Glass

Katrina Shearlaw, a glass artist who hosts the group in her studio, tells us: “I’m supporting six other artists, four of whom have never participated in the event before. It’s important to be able to support one another during this time and to keep art alive! I’m so excited to host my first charity event in support of the Multiple Sclerosis Trust. Gill is a friend of mine and her sister Lois was diagnosed with secondary progressive MS 25 years ago when she was in her 30s. It is a charity close to my heart as it has affected family and friends too, and with more than 130,000 people living with various types of MS in the UK so I’m delighted to help the cause.”

Once again The Boathouse Studio in Bourne End will welcome visitors to admire its beautiful leaded stained glass for the home and garden. Also in Bourne End, artist, painter and illustrator Sarah Luton will welcome visitors to her studio to see her wonderful local landscapes and portrait paintings: please visit sarahluton.com for a sneak peak!

Best of Bucks with Alexandra Lhomond

Liz Nicholls


Alexandra Lhomond, 28, marketing manager at Ibanista, tells us about swapping the Mediterranean for Bucks

Q. Hello Alexandra. How are you?
“Life’s a whirlwind of excitement! I’ve got my hands full at Ibanista, where we help expats navigate the currency landscape. I love helping people realise their dreams! My husband started the venture two years ago and I joined last year. But the real joy? My little boy, Lucas. He’s two and a half and has a knack for melting hearts with his bright blue eyes and blonde hair – the total opposite of me! And let’s not forget my cats, Sushi and Katsu.”

Q. Where do you live?
“In High Wycombe. I made the leap across the channel from the sunny shores of southern France seven years ago. Trust me, the transition was quite the change of scenery! I can’t help but miss the sea and sun, but there’s something special about the English countryside that’s grown on me.”

Q. What do you most love about where you live?
“I love that it’s so close to London, but also so close to nature. Bucks has the best of both worlds. I go on long walks and there are so many different routes here. We live across from The Rye Park, and every season I enjoy seeing the leaves change.”

Q. And what’s one thing maybe you’d change?
“It’s disheartening to see the town centre’s decline, with numerous shops and restaurants shuttered. I hope things get better.”

Q. What are your favourite local pubs or restaurants?
“The Beech House in Beaconsfield & the Wild Strawberry Café and Barn Kitchen at Peterley Manor Farm in Great Missenden are personal favourites – serving great food with a fantastic atmosphere. When guests visit, it’s a muse to treat them to The Royal Standard of England in Beaconsfield – one of England’s oldest pubs.”

Q. What about shops or local businesses?
“The Front Room and Django’s are my top picks for cosy vibes and delicious coffee. As for shopping, I love Søstrene Grene – I can spend forever just looking at everything.”

Q. What’s your local hidden gem?
“Our go-to spot on weekends is Black Park in Wexham. No matter how often we go, we always get lost in the forest! Another favourite is the serene walk along the Thames from Bourne End to Marlow.”

Q. What highlights are you looking forward to?
“Summer holidays for sure! I’m heading to the South of France to reunite with my family. It’s a time for beach days, sea breezes, and indulging in the simple pleasures of good food and wine. At Ibanista, we’re dedicated to simplifying foreign currency exchange, particularly for expats, with a focus on Brits or US citizens making the move to France. Our calendar is packed with exciting events, from engaging podcast episodes to webinars. Check out our blog, brimming with valuable resources for anyone considering a move abroad, investing overseas, or retirement overseas.”

Q. Are you a member of any local groups?
“When I was on maternity leave, I used to go to the High Wycombe Mums Meet-Up. It’s a really supportive and friendly group for new mums.”

Q. What would you wish for the world?
“Peace! With so much turmoil and conflict, my deepest hope is an end to wars and conflicts.”

Visit Ibanista | Personalised Currency Solutions for Expats

Vox pop Q&A with Roger Runswick

Liz Nicholls


We chat to Roger Runswick, dad, DIY lover & founder & director of The 50plus, about his best bits of Bucks

Q. Hi Roger. Where do you live & what do you enjoy doing?
“I’m 72 and I still work full-time. I’ve lived in Chesham since the late 1970s (but with spells abroad for work). I have two adult children. My hobbies (and work!) are software coding, DIY (what a surprise!), applying technology in the home and (mostly) pleasure maintaining an old Morgan car and producing garden figures in acrylic.”

Q. Where are your favourite local haunts?
“I love walking in the Chilterns, The Grand Union Canal and the BBOWT [Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust] reserves such as College Lake in Tring. I occasionally cycle, particularly along the Phoenix Trail from Princes Risborough to Thame – great for us oldies as being an old railway it’s reasonably level and Thame is a great coffee/snack halfway stop before returning.”

Q. What do you most love about where you live?
“Who can complain about living in the Chilterns? An AONB with marvellous countryside coupled with easy access to London and transport links!”

“Who can complain about living in the Chilterns?”

Q. What don’t you like so much?
“We’ve all got our gripes at the moment but as someone running a business what I’d really like is a few years without political instability, epidemics, wars so the global ‘we’ can instil confidence and grow the economy (politicians please take note!)”

Q. What are your favourite local pubs or restaurants?
“We often eat in Amersham. I’d mention the Pomeroy, Zaza, Bistro Twelve Twenty and Seasons Café.”

Q. What about shops or local businesses – any in particular you love to mooch round, or any worthy of a mention?
“Being a (possibly typical) male, I shop when I need something and ‘mooching’ is unusual for me. That usually means shopping for birthdays and Christmas when I certainly like the street markets where I can find unique gifts. I also like Amersham Owned and its partner bookshop Chapter Two in Chesham. Both are Hospice of St Francis shops and well worth a visit.”

Q. Where is your favourite local landmark or hidden secret locally?
“I suspect most people know about Wendover Woods, Coombe Hill and the Little Missenden to Amersham river walk but all are to commended.”

Q. What highlights are you looking forward to?
“The first is spring and summer and hopefully less rain this year! A warm summer providing plenty of opportunity for garden works, walks and open-top car drives to some favourite destinations, especially the Chinnor & Princes Risborough railway for a good breakfast and a train ride if it takes your fancy.”

Q. What’s on the horizon for your business?
“The 50plus is a business that provides a very broad range of home maintenance and improvement services. The name originally derived from the age of the service providers (the plumbers, electricians, and handypersons etc) but the company’s domestic customer base demographic and service offering is orientated toward the more mature customer – although the level of customer service finds fans across a broad age range.”

Visit The 50plus

Go wild this June for BBOWT

Round & About


Do one wild thing every day for a month this summer, as the UK’s biggest free nature challenge returns for its 10th anniversary from June 1st to 30th.

Could you do one thing to connect with nature every day for a month and feel happier and healthier as a result? That is the 30 Days Wild challenge being laid down by Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT).

This June promises to be a bumper 30 Days Wild – people of all ages and abilities are urged to participate and BBOWT are offering free herb seeds and an inspirational guide to everyone who signs up to do one wild thing every day during the month. There are also special packs for schools, businesses and care homes.

Estelle Bailey, Chief Executive of BBOWT, said: “With wildlife in crisis across the UK, it seems fair to ask – are we still a nation of nature lovers? I believe the answer is a resounding yes. This year is the 10th anniversary of both 30 Days Wild and my own time with Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust. Over those 10 years I’ve had the privilege of seeing our communities’ commitment to restoring nature where they live and enjoying all it has to offer. While our first year of running 30 Days Wild saw just over five hundred people sign up across our three countries, last year more than four thousand took on the challenge, which is brilliant.

“This momentum comes as no great surprise – connecting with nature is so important for our sanity and general wellbeing. My top tips to enjoy 30 Days Wild: Sit, walk, run, lay on the grass, look up, look down, fix on something, don’t be afraid to touch or smell it. Smile at the sun, throw your arms out in the rain, get wet, walk barefoot on grass and bare earth, have a cuddle with a tree – be in the moment.”

Supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, 30 Days Wild encourages individuals, families, schools, and businesses to connect with nature on a daily basis during what many argue is the best month for wildlife spotting. It could be going on a snail safari, eating your breakfast outdoors or closing your eyes to listen for bird song, to more adventurous endeavours such as outdoor yoga or forest bathing. This year’s participants will receive a special 10th anniversary park, designed to make their 30 days even more fun.

The 10th anniversary marks a real milestone for The Wildlife Trusts’ flagship 30 Days Wild initiative. The nature challenge has grown from 12,000 participants nationally in its first year to over half a million last year alone. 30 Days Wild has helped people to get outside, enjoy and connect with nature as part of their everyday lives.

Research has consistently highlighted the positive impact of nature on well-being. A study found a significant increase in people’s health, happiness, and connection to nature through participating in 30 Days Wild. People reported feeling more relaxed, reduced stress levels, and a greater motivation to protect wildlife which lasted long after the campaign ended.

So why not get in touch with your wild side this summer? Sign up today and receive a free pack in the post, plus lots of inspiration for activities: bbowt.org.uk/30-days-wild

Support Thames Valley Air Ambulance

Round & About


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

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

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

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

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

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

Sophie Davenport’s best bits of Bucks!

Liz Nicholls


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Help train life-changing hearing dogs

Karen Neville


Hearing Dogs for Deaf People trains clever dogs to alert deaf people to important and life-saving sounds, including smoke alarms, intruder alarms, oven timers, alarm clocks and even baby monitors.

Its dogs also provide constant emotional support and companionship – helping deaf people to leave loneliness behind.

Deafness is on the rise in the UK; by 2035, it is estimated that one in five British people (over 15 million) will experience hearing loss, and the increase the charity is seeing in the number of people coming to it for help, reflects this.

The charity receives no government funding but is very fortunate to have the support of a network of committed volunteers.

There are two types of volunteer roles the charity urgently needs to fill: permanent puppy trainers, who will look after a puppy for the duration of its training (usually between 18 months and two years), and short-term trainers to cover times when other trainers are on holiday.

Linda Foster, who lives near High Wycombe, became a volunteer puppy trainer last year after retiring from her job as a personal assistant at an architectural practice.

“I started off by doing short-term cover when the other puppy trainers were on holiday. I also went along to puppy training sessions at The Grange, Hearing Dogs’ southern training centre. Then in April, I started looking after Lola, a gorgeous 13-month-old black Labrador puppy, on a long-term basis.  

“I’d actually never had a dog before, so it was quite a steep learning curve, but I had a lot of help from the charity’s trainers, and advice from other volunteers.  The whole experience has been very rewarding, and I’ve met some lovely people (and dogs) over the last year.”

Without volunteers like Linda, the charity would not be able to help anywhere near as many people with hearing loss reconnect with life.

Sixteen-year-old Zach Allen, from Chalfont St Peter, was diagnosed as deaf when he was just three years old. His mum Kirsty said: “Although we got support for Zach to attend a mainstream school, he still had challenges. He didn’t play along with other children’s games in case he misheard the rules and got them wrong. I saw him lose confidence as he got older. He was overlooked for games. He wasn’t invited to birthday parties. It was a very difficult thing for a parent to see.

“Then, when Zach was eight years old, everything changed because Echo the hearing dog came into our lives. Soon after Echo arrived, we took him into school so that Zach’s year group could meet him. As a teacher was about to tell the school about him, Zach stood up instead, and introduced Echo to everyone. He explained how Echo alerts him to sounds by nudging him with his nose. We all stood there open-mouthed at this confident child who had appeared from nowhere.”

Victoria Leedham, Head of Volunteering at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, said: “Our dogs do so much to help deaf people – from alerting them to life-saving sounds, to providing emotional support and making sure they never feel alone – and the hard work put in by our wonderful volunteers is absolutely integral to that.

“Anyone who volunteers for us can expect to feel like part of our family. No previous experience is necessary, and volunteers will receive lots of support and training to ensure they feel fully equipped to care for one of our dogs.

“The charity will also cover all costs involved, from the moment the volunteer takes the puppy home, to when it is handed over to one of our deaf partners after its training is complete”, she added.

“These roles would be perfect for local dog lovers living in a home with a secure garden, and plenty of time to spare every day. We can really only consider applications from working people if they work just a few hours from home each week.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about volunteering for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People can visit www.hearingdogs.org.uk/volunteer. The volunteering team can be reached directly at [email protected] or on 01844 348129.