Volunteers help maintain Betjeman Millennium Park

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James Kent, a year 12 pupil at King Alfred’s, spends a day with the army of volunteers who help maintain the Betjeman Millennium Park in Wantage, which has just marked its 20th anniversary

Just a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Wantage Marketplace is a haven of wildlife, poetry, and relaxation – the Betjeman Millennium Park.

This month, the park enters its 20th year of providing for the local community but why is the park here in the first place? How was the land transformed from an empty derelict wasteland to the vibrant hub it is today? And why is it still so important?

You could be mistaken for wandering down from the parish church or along by the mill and assuming the wild plot of land on the outskirts of Wantage is just a normal park or nature reserve, but this is far from the truth…

You can feel a sense of magic and myth as you wander around the trails

Named after local poet and former poet laureate Sir John Betjeman (who lived in Wantage 1951-72) and dedicated to the start of the new millennium, the park is certainly not your ordinary piece of flat and neatly squared out urban greenery.

Being host to semi-wild woodland, engraved sculptures, a circle of ancient sarsen stones (the same as in Stonehenge) and even a performance area this is less of a park and more of a centre of life. You can feel a sense of magic and myth as you wander around the trails and get lost within the sprawling trees and running rhythms of word.

The freedom and wonder are infectious and not exclusive to humans – wildflowers pop up and enthusiastically cover the ground all around and birds call out from their leafy abodes.

In most places it is us or nature. Houses, pavements, fences keeping us tucked away from wildlife like it’s our enemy, the unkempt sprawling mass that we can’t control. However, here it is (to an extent) beautifully uncontrolled and thriving and a poignant reminder that we can all be here and coexist happily.

To many (myself included) it seems like Betjeman Park has always been there – a permanent feature of Wantage – but, as I’ve learnt, the fight for this park has been hard, the upkeep crucial but most importantly the transformation incredible. The two-acre site of land on which the park lies was once a piece of derelict wasteland that was close to being developed on with property.

Seeing the opportunity for protecting wildlife and how devastating it would be to see this land become swallowed up by more infrastructure, a local group came together to make a charitable trust. Through hard work, they saved the land and bought the plot with help from a council grant in the mid-1990s.

Chelsea Flower Show gold medalist Gabriella Pape was commissioned to design the space and came up with the idea of planting native tree species to increase biodiversity.

Local sculptor and artist Alec Peever was then chosen to engrave and install six sculptures to immortalise Sir John Betjeman’s words and poetry in stone which now make up the poetry trail. Finally, in May 2002 (after seven years of dedication) the ribbon was cut and the park opened to the jazzy sounds of The Wantage Silver Band.

It’s just so lovely to have this place in the centre of town

Today, the park is as relevant as ever in the local community and holds annual events like Art in the Park and the Betjeman Bike Ride and is used by many schools, cub groups and brownies for both education and adventure. It is also loved by locals (young and old) as a calm and relaxing sanctuary which transports you far away from the humdrum of the town.

One local resident told me it’s “just so lovely to have this place in the centre of town” and “it’s a wonderful asset” which has bloomed out of the “rough, unloved ground” she once remembers.

The Park has also been especially helpful to locals during the lockdowns as it provided many with the opportunity to get out of the house and spend some time in nature during those precious windows of exercise.

The essential role it plays in the community has also been acknowledged as it is now recognised as a Local Green Space in the draft Wantage Neighbourhood Plan, which protects it from all future development.

As a park for both people and nature to coexist happily, the upkeep is essential and many dedicated local volunteers help out at monthly work parties. I went down to see what was going on at the April work party and met some of the volunteers and trustees.

From the moment I joined them during their well earnt tea break I could really feel the deep sense of unity between them and the nature they care for. One enthusiastic volunteer, who has been involved for eight years and is one of the current trustees, told me how as a child she had quite self-sufficient parents and grew up “in the middle of nowhere” so it’s quite “a revelation to be in such a community”.

However, it’s not always a walk in the park (!) as she tells me it can be challenging to juggle her job and other responsibilities with the time needed as a trustee but there is such a great “feeling of achievement” and so much social connection.

Not only do those working inside the park’s perimeters feel the connection but I was told how often passersby stop to say how much they appreciate the work being done on the park and how much the park means to them which is “reason enough to do it” for lots of them.

One elderly lady, although unable to do any physical work, regularly pops by to bring home-made biscuits for all the hard workers- not only is the park there for the community to enjoy but also for the community to care for in all the different ways they can.

Not only is the park there for the community to enjoy but also for the community to care for

One student volunteer who got involved just about nine months ago originally to be part of his Duke Of Edinburgh award is now the park’s youngest ever trustee and has spent six months on an ambitious project identifying and mapping out all the trees in the park alongside one of the more experienced and knowledgeable volunteers.

He tells me the yew tree is his favourite in the park with its reddish and purple bark and evergreen spines and how they are very slow to grow but can live for thousands of years. What I really came away feeling like at the end of the work party was that this is no begrudging task or tedious responsibility for those involved but really a great pleasure.

As the chairman John Vandore said it is a real “privilege” to be able to ensure the survival of the magical space the original founding trustees fought so hard to gain.

To find out more about Betjeman Millenium Park or get in touch check out the Facebook page

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Journey into the Magical Forest

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LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort is opening its newest attraction this Saturday, 30th April – step inside and explore

Take an enchanting new walk-through The LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort’s newest attraction as The Magical Forest opens this weekend.

The immersive experience which marks a new realm in the story of its multi-million pound land, LEGO® MYTHICA: World of Mythical Creatures, is set to capture children’s hearts and imaginations when it opens this weekend.

Model Maker Will Saunders (28) puts the finishing touches to some of the mythical LEGO creatures that populate The Magical Forest, the new immersive walkthrough experience launching at the LEGOLAND ® Windsor Resort this Saturday. Will laid the final bricks to a snappy plant model and the vibrant baby Lava Dragon. All the LEGO ® Models were built using over 80,000 LEGO bricks

The finishing touches have been applied and the swirling vortex of dazzling lights offers a glimpse into how guests will start their adventure in this parallel universe, where LEGO creatures come to life using awesome Augmented Reality (AR) with surprises in store around every corner.

Fan-favourite, Bits & Bobs and the friendly baby Alicorn, will surprise guests as at the enchanted waterfall before they head deep in the heart of The Magical Forest. Guests can also expect to unearth secret LEGO habitats hidden beneath the undergrowth and foliage, but just beware for the giant Venus Fly Trap which can be a little snappy – especially when they first meet intrepid young explorers.

The adventure hots up as first look imagery reveals how the habitat shifts from an enchanted forest to a landscape of lava where guests will come eye to eye with a group of Crystal Claw Crabs and a super-sized LEGO dragon egg, before braving the grand finale by entering the magnificent Lava Dragon’s cave, who is stirring inside.

Activated exclusively via the LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort app, families will set off on an intrepid adventure where an AR overlay takes users on a journey narrated by Bobs as he’s magically brought to life and transforms from LEGO to his real-life form in The Realm. Bobs guides guests along The Magical Forest pathway as you meet other creatures from the realm, including; Crystal Claw Crabs, Baby Lava Dragons, Venus Fly Trap and the incredible Lava Dragon herself.

Families will get to help Bobs find his missing wing, breathe fire like a Baby Lava Dragon, and play with the Crystal Claw Crabs; before witnessing and getting to capture a photo of the amazing mother Lava Dragon in full flight. With each creature, you discover you’ll also add a special virtual card to your digital collection with facts and stats about them.

To celebrate the launch of The Magical Forest there are also two exclusive AR Pop Badges featuring the Crystal Claw Crabs and baby Lava Dragons to collect.

LEGO MYTHICA: World of Mythical Creatures also features the UK’s first ever flying theatre ride, Flight of The Sky Lion, which takes guests on a mind-blowing 4D film adventure on board a flying gondola where they soar, swoop and dive with guardian Maximus on an amazing adventure through the epic world.

The land which is full of epic adventures waiting to be discovered also includes the Fire and Ice Freefall drop tower ride and the exhilarating water ride, Hydra’s Challenge.

To book visit www.legoland.co.uk

New Guildford Festival – ShyneFest

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Family-friendly, live music festival with kids activities, entertainment, camping, glamping, silent disco, bars, food stalls, escape rooms, animal encounters and loads more!

Join ShyneFest on the 3rd – 4th June at their new venue, Merrist Wood, for a weekend of live music from Lightning Seeds, Jesus Jones, The Farleys and loads more, including top tribute band Guns2Roses!

Upgrade to boutique glamping tents for proper luxurious camping, have a kickabout, play giant chess, enjoy some rides, eat delicious food and have a cocktail or a pint from one of their bars.

This will be their 5th year and it is going to be the biggest and best yet!

See the lineup

Follow ShyneFest on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

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Star Q&A: Justin Fletcher

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TV megastar Justin Fletcher MBE tells us about his influences as he steps out to a venue near you for his all-singing and dancing live show Justin Live – The Big Tour!

Q. Hello! You’ve been a children’s TV star for more than 20 years. Who inspired you? “As a child I used to watch Playschool with Jonny Ball, Derek Griffiths and Floella Benjamin and loved acting out the stories. During my three-year drama course, I was inspired by Philip Schofield and Chris Jarvis in the CBBC Broom Cupboard. I put a show reel together, secured an audition for the Playdays theatre tour and I landed the part of Mr Jolly. That started my career.”

Q. The Big Tour will be full of slapstick. Who are your comedy heroes? “Slapstick comedy has such wide appeal. It’s great when children and their families laugh out loud watching routines by performers like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. It’s a timeless format and you can’t beat the sound of belly laughter from the audience. I was inspired by Laurel and Hardy. I used to watch their slapstick routines over and over. They had such amazing chemistry between them.”

Q. Do you think family entertainment has changed? “The choice on TV is now huge. When I was a child there were very limited programmes. However, having a good strong story-based script and engaging characters is still the key.”

Q. How important do you think live theatre is for children? “Creating many family theatre productions over the last two decades has been incredibly important to me and hugely enjoyable. There is nothing like performing on stage and meeting the families that support you and your TV shows. Children’s theatre is quite often their first live show experience. We are hoping to inspire the next generation of theatre-goers.”

Q. What do you enjoy about touring? “We have an amazing production team who work extremely hard to prepare the show before it goes out on the road. We are like one big family. From the performers to the lighting and sound operators, the catering team, and the back stage crew, we’re all working together. We also support each other out on the road, which is really important when you’re away from home for fairly long periods of time. Touring provides a fantastic opportunity to experience so many different towns and theatres across the country and to meet so many new friends along the way.”

Q. You have written this show. Tell us a little about this process… “It always starts with a storyline. Once you have that in place, I think about the music content. Music is a vital element and I try to write some original songs myself.”

Q. Any favourite songs in the show? “You can’t beat seeing the audience join in with Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, If You’re Happy and You Know It and The Hokey Cokey. Then, in a heartbeat, all singing and signing Twinkle Twinkle.”

Q. It’s likely some parents who saw you on CBeebies now bring their children to see you live. How does that feel? “I feel very proud and flattered. This inspires me to continue entertaining generations to come. It’s been a very long time since we’ve been able to tour. I can’t wait to get on the road and meet all of our friends again.”

To book your tickets, please visit imaginetheatre.co.uk/justin-live-the-big-tour

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Looking for an exclusive costal gem?

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Mill Rythe – Away Resorts is the place for everyone this summer!

A little bit of luxury, taking a chance to make your holiday in Hayling island memorable and a relaxing experience. Located right on the Hampshire coast is the place to be this summer.

Taking a dip in the swimming pool to grabbing some lunch (highly recommend their Moules of the Day!) to enjoying the outdoor cinema nights and acoustic vibes over a freshly poured cocktail.

From a relaxing break just the two of you, enjoying a hot tub or a family with kids and the dog, Away Resorts can tailor your holiday to the perfect break away that is just what you needed.

As our first family holiday we spent the week at Mill Rythe – from the most amazing accommodation with a coastal breeze, outstanding food and service we received whilst enjoying our break.· The Islander Train – on the seafront.

Top things to do when staying at Mill Rythe;

· The Islander Train – on the seafront
· Staunton Country Park
· Blue Reef Aquarium
· The hovercraft over to Isle of Wight
· Ferryboat Inn

Away Resorts will always be top of our list for our staycations; as a family or as a couple; www.awayresorts.co.uk

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Your Will, your way

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David Robinson, Director of Templar Estate Planning discusses the importance of everyone having an up to date and valid Will. If you do not have a Will or changes have happened in your life, please read on!

Thinking about your Will and how you want your property and assets shared out after you die is something that no one really wants to do… but you know you should. I speak with people every week about this, and one thing is clear – there is always a great sense of relief once your Will and other Estate Planning has been completed.

It has been estimated that two thirds of people in the UK do not have a Will or any other form of estate planning in place, with the average person thinking:

• I’ll sort it later, there is plenty of time.

• What is the need? Everything I have will go to my spouse

• No need, my family will be able to agree on how to divide it all up

• Or.. I’m just not sure how to go about getting it all sorted.

Are you like this?

If you are, I would greatly encourage you to get your affairs in order now. Don’t let your family or loved ones down by dying without a Will. Here at Templar Estate Planning we specialise in providing a bespoke service whilst making the process as easy possible for our clients.

What happens If you don’t have a Will place?

In short it will mean that your loved ones, the people you want to benefit, may have a very big job to sort your affairs at a very difficult time in their life.

Without a Will you will be declared as “Intestate” – this means that your estate will be shared out to your family under certain rules – that may not be in the manner that you would like. This is particularly relevant if you are not married because under intestacy rules, your partner may not get anything.

If you are declared intestate there is a real potential that the courts will need to get involved in order to process the distribution of your estate; this can be costly, take a lot of time and even possibly cause issues within the family at a vulnerable time for them. All of which can be avoided with a Will.

Without a Will, parents of younger children are often surprised to find that should the worst happen, Guardianship of children can be contentious and decided by the Courts – someone who you may not want, could be asked to look after you children. With a Will, you can clearly state who should be the Guardians.

It probably seems obvious to say this, but with a Will you can clearly state who you want to leave your assets to. This is not just any money you might have, but also your personal and loved possessions. Importantly it also means that you can say who should not benefit.

You might have a particular cause or charity that you support and want to leave a legacy towards after you have gone. With a Will you can clearly state who this is, how much they should receive and the reasons behind your gift.

With a Will you can also lower the risk of potential family disputes. We have all heard stories where families have sadly fallen out with each other over a relative’s estate. A clearly written Will with commentary can remove any contention and leave your beneficiaries understanding and respecting your bequests.

Types of Will

We often get asked about simple Wills compared to a more sophisticated ones using Trusts. My view on a simple Will is that, although they are better than nothing, depending on your personal circumstances they can leave you exposed to avoidable threats and lose your family money. When you are planning to get your first Will or checking to see if yours still meets your requirements, think about:

• If you have a larger estate – these days that could mean even just owning your house – you could be exposed to unnecessary Inheritance Tax.

• Care home fees could result in your family home being lost to future generations.

• You may want to ensure that your children’s inheritance is protected if you spouse or partner get married again after you have gone.

• Whether your beneficiaries, for whatever reason, may not be able to manage their inheritance without help. This could be because they are in debt or threatened by creditors, or even not have the mental capacity to cope, through to you not 100% trusting their partners.

These and other threats to your estate can be mitigated by an experienced Will writer and estate planner, utilising more sophisticated Wills with Trusts.

With this type of robust planning, you will leave your estate in good hands and will minimise the work and upset for your beneficiaries.

I urge you to not delay in this vital planning. There are many options to get a Will these days and who you go to will depend on your own circumstances and what you feel comfortable with. The most important thing is to ensure that you have a valid and robust Will and if needed, further estate planning in place, to match your specific needs.

Here at Templar Estate Planning we are happy to, and without charge, take the time to discuss with you, and to ensure that all your needs are covered and importantly that you understand the whole process before you commit to our services.

Contact us today to book your free and absolutely no obligation consultation, we look forward to meeting you.

Call: 0118 948 4381
Email:
Visit our site: www.templarestateplanning.co.uk

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning allows you to put together a clear plan that details exactly your wishes regarding how you would like your estate to be managed and distributed on your death, or managed during your life should you become incapacitated.

What is an estate?

We all have an estate. Granted some may be bigger and more complicated than others, but we all have one. That is why you should be thinking now what should happen to your estate when you die or should you become incapacitated in your lifetime.

Your estate is made up of everything you own: your home and perhaps other property or land you might have, your car, your savings, investments, bank accounts, your business, and your personal possessions right through from jewellery to your golf clubs!

The basic planning you should think about:

Your Will

Number one on the list is your Will. There are many reasons to have a Will, the main is to avoid being declared intestate and therefore having your estate distributed by intestacy rules that may be in a manner that is not to your wishes. This is particularly important for unmarried couples.

Trusts

Trusts are effectively a protective wrapper around your estate or parts of it, which provide the extra protection that your requirements might demand. There are many uses for Trusts, including but not limited to; ensuring that a partner can stay in your family home after your death, protecting younger or vulnerable beneficiaries’ inheritance, or ensuring that your loved ones do not pay unnecessary tax after you have died.

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA)

A lasting power of attorney is a legal document that lets you appoint one or more trusted people to make decisions on your behalf in your lifetime should you lose mental capacity to do so. This gives you more control over what happens to you if you have an accident or an illness and cannot make your own decisions.

Transparency

Transparency and clarity of your wishes. On the whole, Wills and other estate planning is very much about the “what” and the “how”, but not about the “why” of your wishes. We can work to provide clarity on the reasons for your decisions and gifting through our Will Clarity and Statement of Execution documents to leave no room for misinterpretation or possible claims against your Estate.

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Winnie-the-Pooh 95th anniversary prequel

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Once There Was A Bear, a new prequel to mark the 95th anniversary of the classic Winnie-The-Pooh.

With so much uncertainty in the world the familiar, beloved characters from our childhood are more welcome than ever. So the enchanting new 95th anniversary prequel to Winnie-The-Pooh’s adventures is perfectly timed for anyone who has the privilege of reading a bedtime story to younger ones this year.

We all have a place in our hearts for the adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh, as told by A.A. Milne, in Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. In honour of the 95th anniversary of Winnie-the-Pooh, highly talented author Jane Riordan has created a wonderful collection of new stories, written in the style of A.A. Milne, that take us back to when it all began, when Winnie-the-Pooh was first purchased for baby Christopher Robin.

From London and Christopher Robin’s Mallard Street playroom to the familiar surroundings of the Hundred Acre Wood, this timeless collection follows Pooh and friends on a new series of adventures, with outings to the Natural History Museum and London Zoo, where Pooh meets his namesake, Winnipeg. A.A Milne and his son visited the real-life Canadian bear – known as Winnie – and this inspired the name of the book’s much-loved bear.

Illustrated with beautiful decorations by Mark Burgess in the style of E.H. Shepard, and radiating the warmth and playfulness of the original stories, Once There Was a Bear is a tribute to The Best Bear in All the World and the perfect opportunity to revisit these favourite friends and find out how they become the larger than life characters that we all know and love.

Winnie-the-Pooh Timeline

1914

Winnipeg the black bear arrives at London Zoo for safekeeping whilst her owner, Lt. Colebourn, is posted to France with his regiment.


1920

A.A. Milne’s son Christopher Milne is born and in his early years is a frequent visitor to London Zoo.


1921

Christopher Milne is bought a bear from Harrods. Originally christened Mr Edward Bear or Teddy Bear, he is eventually renamed Winnie, inspired by the real-life bear, Winnipeg.


1924

A.A. Milne publishes his first book of children’s poetry When We Were Very Young, where Teddy Bear makes his first appearance. The book features decorations by E.H. Shepard, later earning him the name ‘the man who drew Pooh’.


1925

The London Evening Standard approach A.A. Milne to create a story for its Christmas Eve edition. The Wrong Sort of Bees becomes the first stand-alone Winnie-the-Pooh story.


1926

On October 14th, A.A. Milne’s first volume of stories Winnie-the-Pooh is published, including decorations by E.H. Shepard, which have become an inseparable part of the Pooh stories.


1927

A.A. Milne’s second poetry collection, Now We are Six, is released.


1928

A.A. Milne’s final book in the series, The House at Pooh Corner, is published introducing a new character named Tigger.

About the author

Jane Riordan grew up next to, and often paddling in, the River Itchen. She wasn’t sure she’d ever be a writer because, like Winnie-the-Pooh, her spelling wobbled. She now lives in London and has two boys who are much better at spelling than she is. Jane has a strong pedigree in writing in the style of A.A. Milne, having created Winnie-the-Pooh Meets the Queen, and the re-issue edition Winnie-the-Pooh Goes to London. She is author of many other books for children including Watch Out, Little Narwhal!, I am NOT a Sleepy Sloth and A Pudding for Christmas.

Originally published in the 1920s, following the First World War, A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories were an instant success. Their enduring appeal means the books have never been out of print and, to date, have been translated into 72 languages. The stories remain some of the best loved works in children’s fiction, with Winnie-the-Pooh named both the UK’s best-loved children’s book (YouGov, 2014) and favourite childhood book character (The Reading Agency, 2016). Marking the 95th anniversary of Winnie-the-Pooh, author Jane Riordan discusses the iconic bear, recreating A.A. Milne’s style and her favourite Pooh moments …

What are your early memories of Winnie-the-Pooh? I can’t think of a time when I didn’t know A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories – the poetry has also been in my head for as long as I can remember. I do remember though having a record with a sung version of Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace which I loved because London was a very exotic and far-away place for me at the time.

I was lucky enough to grow up in the countryside, with a river at the bottom of the garden and nearby there is a bridge which we still call the Poohsticks bridge. I used to play Poohsticks there very calmly with my sister and sometimes in a much louder, riskier way with my naughty cousins – I don’t think that, like Eeyore, any of them actually fell in but they tried their best to!

What inspired you to write the prequel? In the original stories Winnie-the-Pooh lives in a tree in the Hundred Acre Wood but history tells us that he was bought from Harrods for Christopher Robin’s first birthday. I loved the idea of seeing Pooh and Eeyore and Piglet in London, in the nursery that is written about so much in the poetry and also out and about in London as well.

What adventures does the city hold for Pooh and friends? We know that Pooh in part got his name from a real bear in London Zoo, Winnipeg, or Winnie for short and so I couldn’t wait for them to meet in one of my stories. I couldn’t resist our Winnie being a little bit jealous of how much Christopher Robin admired the real bear. This is what Pooh had to say about that meeting: ‘“One bear in London is probably enough,”thought Pooh to himself, hoping it could be him.’

How difficult was it to recreate A.A. Milne’s style? A.A. Milne’s style is so distinctive and the characters have such strong voices that once I’ve decided where to take them, it’s as if I can hear them in my head, worrying, in the case of Piglet, or bemoaning something, in the case of Eeyore! Sometimes it’s more a question of asking them to hush so that the plot can move on! But that’s the beauty of Winnie-the-Pooh, it’s not so much about what happens in a story, it’s more about the characters’ observations and interactions – the smallest happenings can become big adventures.

What are your favourite Pooh moments? In the original stories there’s something about the pathos of the Eeyore birthday story that really resonates with me. When Pooh realises it’s Eeyore’s birthday and everyone has forgotten he rushes home to find a present for him, the detail I love is that he looks to see if he has ‘quite a small jar’ of honey… Of course the best-known part of the story is Piglet bursting the birthday balloon and Pooh eating the birthday honey but the pleasure Eeyore takes in putting his burst balloon in the jar and taking it out again, is so poignant and just brilliant.

What are your favourite words of wisdom from the original books? My favourite quote would have to be when Pooh pays a visit to Rabbit and Rabbit asks if he would like honey or condensed milk with his bread and he is so excited that he answers “both”, and then, so as to not seem rude, he added, “But don’t bother about the bread, please.”

What do you think made the Pooh stories such an instant hit? A.A. Milne was in fact already a successful and well-known writer, primarily a playwright before he became associated with Winnie-the-Pooh. Pooh Bear first appeared in Punch magazine before having his very own book written about him! But the poetry collections that first introduced audiences to Edward Bear were instant bestsellers, as were the three books that followed it. At the time Europe was still reeling from the First World War and A.A. Milne’s poems and stories offered a safe place for readers – the Hundred Acre Wood – and let’s not forget just how funny the stories are – they were the perfect distraction for adults and children alike.

Why do you think these stories continue to resonate with readers? No matter how much the world changes, some things remain timeless. The Pooh stories have a comforting, gentle wisdom that reminds us about the importance of friendship and the joy of simple pleasures. There’s a wonderful familiarity about shy Piglet, know-it-all Owl and bumbling Pooh. And a charming reassurance that everything will be OK in the end. Sometimes even the rainiest days can lead to the biggest adventures.

These are ideas that speak to readers across generations. It makes them perfect stories to escape to by yourself or read aloud together- something we know is enormously beneficial to children.

Winnie-the-Pooh: Once There Was a Bear
The Official 95th Anniversary Prequel

By Jane Riordan, illustrated by Mark Burgess
(Farshore, £14.99, 30 September 2021)

Hardback/gift edition

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Make it a Turquoise Friday!

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Treat yourself to a luxurious holiday in the Maldives or Mauritius and enjoy some fabulous Black Friday deals with Turquoise Holidays

Turn Black Friday Turquoise with 50 per cent off selected holidays to the Maldives and Mauritius booked from November 26th to 29th.

Turquoise Holidays is offering guests exclusive deals with fabulous prices on spectacular hotels for 2022.

The idyllic Indian ocean paradise of the Maldives and Mauritius offers holidaymakers glorious tropical sunshine amid breath-taking natural beauty, not to mention endless sunshine.

Choose from Constance Moofushi and Constance Halveli in the Maldives both including flights and seaplane transfers.

Travel in May and seven nights in a beach villa at Constance Moofushi, all-inclusive, will cost £2,649 per person, saving £3,100 per couple.

Holidaymakers can enjoy 50 per cent off water villas for travel from April 1st to December 26th, 2022 and 50 per cent off beach villas between May 1st and October 31st, 2022.

Constance Halveli offers seven nights in a water villa, bed & breakfast, from £2,499 per person for travel in May, saving £2,750 per couple. Water villas enjoy a 50 per cent discount for those holidaying from January 4th to December 26th, 2022 and the same amazing saving on beach villas from May 1st to October 31st.

Mauritius invites you to sample the delights of the Constance Prince Maurice and the Constance Belle Mare Plage at prices reduced by 50 per cent for the accommodation.

Junior suites are available at the Constance Prince Maurice for travel from January 7th to December 22nd from £1,549 per person (based on travel in June). Stay for seven nights on a bed & breakfast basis and enjoy return private transfers and flights included in the price, a saving of £1,500 per couple.

Constance Belle Mare Plage has stunning deals for both couples and families. Couples will love benefiting from 50 per cent off prestige rooms, prestige beachfront rooms, junior suites and beachfront junior suites for travel from January 7th to December 22nd, 2022. Spend seven nights half board in a prestige room with return private transfers and flights from £1,449 in June, saving £1,180 per couple.

Treat the family (two adults & two children under 12) to seven nights in paradise staying in a junior suite for £4,600 when travelling in August, saving £2,400 per family.

These exclusive offers and savings are only applicable to bookings made between Friday, 26th November and Monday, 29th November for the Maldives and Mauritius.

Visit www.turquoiseholidays.co.uk or call 01494 678400 to find out more and to book.

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The Divorce Revolution

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family

New business launched to help separating and divorcing couples save money and stay out of court

Divorce rates are increasing and relationship experts warn the pandemic-induced break-up curve may not have peaked yet. Some law firms are seeing over a 100% increase in enquiries based on the same period last year and courts are struggling to keep up with the new demand.

Claire Colbert and Rachael Oakes have set up their own business called “Family Mediation and Mentoring” because they want to work with individuals and couples in a way that law firms cannot.

Most people know someone, a friend or family member, who talks about the nightmare of their divorce, the conflict, stress and what seemed like never-ending legal fees.  Well, separation and divorce no longer need to be like this anymore.

At Family Mediation and Mentoring LLP the focus is to keep people out of court, save them money and facilitate the resolution of any issue involving family breakdown, separation, divorce and its financial consequences, arrangements for children and any other kind of family dispute.

We will be supporting couples to achieve an amicable divorce using the skills we have as accredited mediators and drawing on all the knowledge and experience we have each built up working as specialist family lawyers for more than 20 years. We are leaving the world of litigation behind to focus on supporting individuals and couples in a way that will reduce acrimony, legal fees and stress.

Our aim is to become the go-to business for people who find themselves considering separation and divorce and want to know what all their options are and gather as much information as possible about the process before going to lawyers. If the couple wish, we can then mediate to discuss and sort out all the issues that need to be resolved, meaning that they may only need a lawyer at the very end of the process to receive legal advice and draw up a legally binding agreement.

Lawyers cannot meet with a couple together. They are prevented from doing so because it is regarded as a conflict of interest by the rules that govern how lawyers’ practice.

One of the unique services Family Mediation and Mentoring LLP will be providing is a fixed price Family Law Information Meeting.

Whilst working as family lawyers we were conscious that many couples wanted to meet with us together to obtain an understanding of the steps and options involved in divorce situations. Law firms cannot offer this service, they are unable to meet with couples together, but we can.

This is a great first step for any individual or couple wanting to receive as much information as possible about how the divorce process works and enables couples to make joint decisions about next steps. This service can reduce the risk of conflict, help keep legal costs down and assist people who are already representing yourself in the family court.

We can use these meetings to answer all the questions people have that they often think they must go to lawyers to get the answers to. In our experience, once lawyers are involved, many cases are then on the litigation pathway and options to consider and resolve issues amicably have been lost.

In speaking with us people may decide that Mediation is the process that they want to use to reach an amicable agreement about their family dispute. If they do, then we will then provide that extra support and put in place the necessary meetings to take things forward. If mediation isn’t right for any reason, then we can provide recommendations about other professionals who can help.

We are the only local business who are able to provide all of the following services to help and support people resolve their family dispute;

• Traditional Family Mediation where a couple meet with a mediator to facilitate resolution of the practical and financial consequences of separation and divorce.

• The new Hybrid Mediation model where both lawyers representing the couple are involved in meetings so that they became part of finding the solution and stop litigating. Having the lawyers at meetings means that they can provide legal advice to their client as and when it is needed, when discussing proposals for reaching an agreement, and then a binding legal agreement can be drawn up on the day. This significantly reduces the time it can take to reach an agreement with lawyers involved, hand in hand with the costs.

• Meeting with children to ascertain their views about future arrangements so that they have a voice in the process and so they feel they have been consulted about important decisions that are going to impact on their future.

• Mediating for couples to facilitate what might be included in a pre-marital agreement, post marital agreement or cohabitation agreement.

• Coaching people who are having to prepare for or go through the court process. This is a very stressful process and one we know inside out. We can offer real and practical tips that people can use to help them cope.

• Resolving other types of family disputes by mediation.

• Mentoring lawyers who work in the field of family law. This service is led by Rachael who also sits as a Deputy District Judge.

Our business came about after much reflection about the way we wanted to work moving forward and wanting to help couples find a better way to separate and divorce. As Alice Walker said – “Look closely at the future you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming”. We have dreamt the dream, now we are creating our future and a better future for those we will work with.

Our website contains lots of information about all the services we provide and explains all the above options in more detail so please do have a look –  www.familymediationandmentoring.co.uk

Here is a video we have put together to explain a little more about our new business. We very much hope that we can help people and their friends and family find a better way to separate and divorce.

If we can help you or anyone you know, call us on freephone 0800 206 2258 or email us at or

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