Saving Sumatran orangutans

Liz Nicholls

Lucy Radford of Abingdon charity Sumatran Orangutan Society explains more about the plight of and how to help this majestic endangered creature.

On the Indonesian island of Sumatra, lush rainforests are home to orangutans, elephants, tigers and rhinos. Hornbills fly over the treetops and troops of monkeys leap from branch to branch. The air is alive with the buzzing, shrieking and singing of thousands of animals, from minuscule insects to jungle giants. The rainforest is an amazing place to be, and it is vital for species such as the Sumatran orangutan, which is critically endangered in the wild. Tragically, Indonesia has the fastest deforestation rate in the world, and the threats facing species like the orangutan are intensifying.

Thousands of miles away in Abingdon, the Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) works to reverse the fortunes of the orangutans, their forest homes, and the other animals living there. In collaboration with Indonesian NGOs, SOS takes a holistic approach to orangutan conservation. This means tackling the causes of deforestation, as well as trying to cure the symptoms.

Orangutan habitat is sometimes chipped away a few acres at a time by rural communities who grow crops where the forest used to be. In other cases, forests are cleared on an industrial scale. Of the crops grown on Sumatra, the most familiar to us in the UK is palm oil. Palm oil is found in a wide range of products, from cosmetics to chocolate bars, so the global demand is huge. Wildlife cannot survive in oil palm plantations – Sumatra has four times as much land cultivated with oil palms as there is habitat for orangutans.

Orangutans spend their lives in the trees, so protecting and restoring their forest habitat is crucial. SOS works with Indonesian non-Governmental organisations to protect Sumatra’s last forests and restore damaged ecosystems. The health and prosperity of the people of Sumatra are also linked to the fate of the forests, so SOS works closely with local communities to develop conservation projects including forest restoration, and sustainable livelihoods like organic farming that offer a real alternative to the destruction of forests. SOS also supports the only active orangutan rescue team in Sumatra. As well as evacuating orangutans from dangerous situations and releasing them into safe forests, they tackle the causes of human-orangutan conflict, providing training so rural communities can protect their crops without harming wildlife.

One of the simplest ways you can help is to become a voice for orangutans: follow SOS online and share their news. The choices you make when you shop can have a real impact – look out for sustainable palm oil on ingredients lists and check for the FSC symbol on anything derived from wood. You can also donate to support the work SOS is doing on the ground or set yourself a fundraising challenge to raise money and awareness.

 For more information visit www.orangutans-sos.org

Best of British: Political cartoons

Liz Nicholls

Liz Nicholls reflects on a tumultuous year in world politics, thanks to Tim Benson and the talented cartoonists who have depicted 2018 in satirical pictures…

Few people might have relished the political drama served up throughout 2018… However, by way of positive spin, it has been a gift to cartoonists.

“It’s been fantastic!” exclaims Tim Benson, editor of Britain’s Best Political Cartoons and co-owner of The Political Cartoon Gallery & Café in London.

“Over the last six years you couldn’t have made up the world events… For a cartoonist, it’s been like a daily treat. And the characters; from Jeremy Corbyn to Jacob Rees Mogg, Boris Johnson to Kim Jong Un… so many subjects to have fun with! No one knows what’s going to happen next.”

We’re just kissing goodbye to 2018; a feverish year in which Brexit got serious, football fever, a UK heatwave and royal wedding mania gripped us all and Trump got transformed into a giant baby blimp (see above, by Peter Brookes of The Times)…

Times of political turmoil test the mettle of our nation’s cartoonists – the best in the world. “We’re very lucky in this country, because cartoonists have more freedom here than anywhere else, which is something to be proud of,” says Tim.

A historian with a particular interest in 20th century political history, Tim’s PhD was on Sir David Low’s relationship with Lord Beaverbrook, his editor at The Daily Express. He began collecting political caricatures and has written several titles on political cartoon art, a vital form of satire, from 19th century etcher James Gillray via wartime master Sir David Low to today’s top draw. As a die-hard fan of newspapers myself, it’s cheering to read that it is also a media that works best in print.

Tim rejoices in the art form, pointing out that, while cartoonists might be the “canaries in the mine” when it comes to budget cuts, it has survived the industrial revolution, print censorship and two world wars. “And we still have a culture of daily political cartooning in the broadsheet press: Evening Standard editor George Osborne recently reinvigorated his opinion pages by bringing back the political cartoon after a hiatus of 13 years.”

Along with his partner Julie Dangoor, Tim has bought, sold and exhibited original cartoon art for 15 years. Their gallery is the world’s only venue dedicated to original political cartoon art, ranging from The Guardian’s Steve Bell and The Daily Telegraph’s Bob Moran to yesteryear greats “Vicky” (Victor Weisz) and Carl Giles as well as original gag cartoons from Punch and Private Eye.

Tim has edited six Britain’s Best books, published by Random House. “It’s fabulous because I get to play God,” he tells me. “Selecting my favourites is hard because there are so many good cartoons. As for depicting people, David Low called them ‘tags of identity’ and politicians often play these up – Theresa May’s leopard print shoes, Howard Wilson choosing a pipe even though really he was a cigar man… To be in politics you need the hide of a rhinoceros but the higher up the greasy pole you go, the more vain you can get… When Steve Bell got wind David Cameron was really irked by being depicted with a condom on his head, it felt like winning the lottery. Cartoons are a wonderful in the ‘now’ but also, when you put them into context, become a kind of commentary.”

We have a copy of Britain’s Best Political Cartoons 2018 to give away! To enter, click here or visit our competitions page.

The Political Cartoon Gallery & Café, SW15 1JP www.original-political-cartoon.com

Let’s get crafty!

Liz Nicholls

Happy half term everyone! How’s it going so far?

My daughter and I stayed in our pyjamas until gone lunchtime on Monday then decided to get some fresh air by foraging for autumn leaves and returning for some Halloween-themed craft!

Blue Peter celebrated its 60th birthday last week and we’re inspired to make lots of Halloween crafts.

Here at Round & About we’re keen to promote responsible trick or treating, so please make sure that you only knock on doors which have a pumpkin or similarly spooky paraphernalia on display! The quandary we find ourselves in is that we want to welcome knockers on the evening but are also keen to go out & about so we try to race back as soon as we can!

There are so many great ideas for decorating pumpkins (or kits if you want to make it even easier!). This year we’ve decided to go for bats which was an easy and fun choice (see pic!).

We’ve also raided the craft cupboard at home to create some pipe cleaner critters – snakes and rainbow tarantulas! They look fab in our window web display, with a random collection of cacti and spooky bits and bobs.

We want to know and see what you’ve been making so please drop a line & share!

Rick Astley: Rick & Roll

Liz Nicholls

Liz Nicholls chats to singer-songwriter and dad Rick Astley, 52, about making his new album and having the best of both worlds

Q: Nice to speak to you. How’s your summer been?
“Fantastic thanks. Lots of touring and pottering in the sun too. We live a stone’s throw from Hampton Court Palace and the other night I was having a glass of rosé in the garden listening to Lionel Richie thinking ‘how wonderful’. I have a little boat – and it really is very little – which I take a couple of mates in to drift off down to the pub – my local is The Albany. There’s something about the river – in the mornings I’ll have a coffee looking at it and if you go off on a boat for even an hour, you feel like you’ve had a day out. It’s a great pace of life.”

Q. How did your new album come about?“
My wife was in America for a couple of weeks and, like any man left alone, I went to my ‘man cave’! Which is a studio at the end of my garden. Before long I’d made some tunes I really liked and thought ‘maybe I’m halfway through another record’. That’s how the last album [2016’s best-selling 50] happened. That one came after a big break from music and I got so much goodwill and love. I don’t kid myself that people are sat there with bated breath waiting for my next album to come out. But we’re on a bit of a roll at the moment.”

Q. Speaking of rolls, what about the ‘rickrolling’ phenomenon?
“It’s freaky and amazing. Years ago when it started, a friend of mine rickrolled me a few of times and I kept saying ‘yeah very funny, whatever’. I didn’t understand the concept, still don’t really! It keeps going and going – and it’s because of that I ended up invited on stage by the Foo Fighters last summer. I‘m a bit obsessed with the show Westworld and was stunned when the lead actress launched into Never Gonna Give You Up. Bring it on!”

Q. Do you love playing live?
“Yes; performing in front of human beings is the most exciting bit. Whether it’s your wife or friend – once you play a song and get a good reaction from someone, that’s amazing. Magnify that by playing in front of hundreds, if not thousands of people, and I do think it’s like a drug. It messes with the chemicals in your body and is a weird feeling – weird in a great way. It’s not like the real world.”

Q. Which other musicians do you love live?
“I’ve seen Adele in front of 500 and 80,000 people and she makes such a connection that it’s like being in her living room with her. I was going to say that’s her skill but it’s natural. I saw Gary Barlow the other day – again at Hampton Court Palace. I know Gary and said hi. When you look at his solo and band career he’s got a helluva set list – he’s worked for that and really works for his audience. Having read his book, I know he’s been through some s****y times and I think that always makes you appreciate what you’ve got more, and give more.”

Beautiful Life is out now and Rick Astley will perform at London’s Eventim Apollo on Thursday 8th & Friday, 9th November.

Young minds

Liz Nicholls

Kevin Leivers of Guildford’s Naked Pharmacy explains how we can help boost children’s mental health

September summons our youngsters back to school, college and university. This may mean the start of somewhere new which is stressful for both students and parents alike.

Increased screen time, pressure to succeed and the inability to switch off can tip the nervous system into permanent “sympathetic nervous system” mode. This is the “fight or flight” mode the body originally evolved as a mechanism to protect us from imminent danger. The anxiety response in the brain causes a cascade of hormones with wide-ranging effects such as shortness of breath, a racing heart, paling or flushing of the face, sweaty hands… The list goes on and, if left unchecked, may lead to more regular and extreme symptoms.

Youngsters who suffer from anxiety may feel abnormal and isolated. Depression is a deeply personal issue and masks itself in many varied symptoms. Research by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has shown that perhaps the most effective treatment is personal empowerment of the sufferer’s own treatment. This means that they can learn to recognise and manage their symptoms, assisted by their parents.

Finding the tools that work for the individual is key to success. A regular exercise routine is both physically and mentally beneficial for health, especially within a group or team which will help reduce isolation. Regular sleep and a bedtime routine is very important, so turn off all blue light-emitting devices, avoid late food or drink (give at least two hours to digest) and avoid caffeine and sugary drinks after 1pm. Encourage children to express themselves by drawing or writing; it’s such a beautiful tool as an outlet to release thoughts.

Correct breathing is also vital – learn how to retrain the breath. The hormonal cascade during an anxiety response causes us to shallow breathe and suck in more air than we breath out, making the panic worse. A great technique is “The Big Breath”. Tony Ulatowski has used this with more than 400 students in west London, from pre-schoolers to secondary students, for the last year and has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from parents, teachers and pupils. Tony says: “One of the preschool teachers shared her story of a four-year-old girl with anger issues who has now learnt to take herself away, regulate her emotions, and just two or three of the big breaths help her feel better about taking control of her emotions.”

A healthy balanced diet including “live” foods, vegetables and fruits can be hugely helpful. Amazingly 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut. A study from Victoria, New Zealand in 2017 found patients with moderate to severe depression had a statistically significant improvement in symptoms on a modified Mediterranean diet. Dr Chatterjee, star of the BBC’s Doctor in the House, shows diet can make a difference. However, when was the last time your doctor asked you about food when you were worried about feeling depressed?

There are also some natural supplements which are safe, effective, non-addictive and adaptogenic, and that provide an evidence-based approach for mood imbalance and anxiety in children and teenagers. One of the most widely tested is the ancient spice saffron. Saffron targets the gut as well as the brain.

Dr Paul Clayton, Fellow at The Institute of Food, Brain and Behaviour, believes saffron should be considered in place of current therapies, which he believes are outdated and on off-target. He says: “By targeting core aspects of mood and anxiety, saffron works far more rapidly than the pharmaceuticals, which are shooting at the wrong target. In short, saffron restores normal nerve function in key areas of the brain. If you have chronic inflammation, the “brakes” are put on a few key processes. Saffron takes the brakes off. Moreover, it acts very fast (hours, not weeks or months), has no withdrawal symptoms, no side effects, and is safe to use with children.”

Visit www.thenakedpharmacy.com or email info@thenakedpharmacy.com or call 01483 685630.

Did you know?

1 In the UK 16 million people experience mental illness.
2 Three out of four mental illnesses start before the age of 18.
3 10% of school children have a diagnosable mental illness.
4 Three out of four young people with mental illness are not receiving treatment.
5 The average wait for effective treatment is 10 years.
6 Suicide is still the biggest killer of young people in the UK.
7 People with severe mental illness die 10-20 years earlier than the general population.

Young minds

Liz Nicholls

Kevin Leivers of The Naked Pharmacy explains how parents can help boost children’s mental health

September summons our youngsters back to school, college and university. This may mean the start of somewhere new which is stressful for both students and parents alike.

Increased screen time, pressure to succeed and the inability to switch off can tip the nervous system into permanent “sympathetic nervous system” mode. This is the “fight or flight” mode the body originally evolved as a mechanism to protect us from imminent danger. The anxiety response in the brain causes a cascade of hormones with wide-ranging effects such as shortness of breath, a racing heart, paling or flushing of the face, sweaty hands… The list goes on and, if left unchecked, may lead to more regular and extreme symptoms.

Youngsters who suffer from anxiety may feel abnormal and isolated. Depression is a deeply personal issue and masks itself in many varied symptoms. Research by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has shown that perhaps the most effective treatment is personal empowerment of the sufferer’s own treatment. This means that they can learn to recognise and manage their symptoms, assisted by their parents.

Finding the tools that work for the individual is key to success. A regular exercise routine is both physically and mentally beneficial for health, especially within a group or team which will help reduce isolation. Regular sleep and a bedtime routine is very important, so turn off all blue light-emitting devices, avoid late food or drink (give at least two hours to digest) and avoid caffeine and sugary drinks after 1pm. Encourage children to express themselves by drawing or writing; it’s such a beautiful tool as an outlet to release thoughts.

Correct breathing is also vital – learn how to retrain the breath. The hormonal cascade during an anxiety response causes us to shallow breathe and suck in more air than we breath out, making the panic worse. A great technique is “The Big Breath”. Tony Ulatowski has used this with more than 400 students in west London, from pre-schoolers to secondary students, for the last year and has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from parents, teachers and pupils. Tony says: “One of the preschool teachers shared her story of a four-year-old girl with anger issues who has now learnt to take herself away, regulate her emotions, and just two or three of the big breaths help her feel better about taking control of her emotions.”

A healthy balanced diet including “live” foods, vegetables and fruits can be hugely helpful. Amazingly 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut. A study from Victoria, New Zealand in 2017 found patients with moderate to severe depression had a statistically significant improvement in symptoms on a modified Mediterranean diet. Dr Chatterjee, star of the BBC’s Doctor in the House, shows diet can make a difference. However, when was the last time your doctor asked you about food when you were worried about feeling depressed?

There are also some natural supplements which are safe, effective, non-addictive and adaptogenic, and that provide an evidence-based approach for mood imbalance and anxiety in children and teenagers. One of the most widely tested is the ancient spice saffron. Saffron targets the gut as well as the brain.

Dr Paul Clayton, Fellow at The Institute of Food, Brain and Behaviour, believes saffron should be considered in place of current therapies, which he believes are outdated and on off-target. He says: “By targeting core aspects of mood and anxiety, saffron works far more rapidly than the pharmaceuticals, which are shooting at the wrong target. In short, saffron restores normal nerve function in key areas of the brain. If you have chronic inflammation, the “brakes” are put on a few key processes. Saffron takes the brakes off. Moreover, it acts very fast (hours, not weeks or months), has no withdrawal symptoms, no side effects, and is safe to use with children.”

Visit www.thenakedpharmacy.com or email info@thenakedpharmacy.com or call 01483 685630.

Did you know?

1 In the UK 16 million people experience mental illness.
2 Three out of four mental illnesses start before the age of 18.
3 10% of school children have a diagnosable mental illness.
4 Three out of four young people with mental illness are not receiving treatment.
5 The average wait for effective treatment is 10 years.
6 Suicide is still the biggest killer of young people in the UK.
7 People with severe mental illness die 10-20 years earlier than the general population.

Young minds

Liz Nicholls

Kevin Leivers of The Naked Pharmacy explains how parents can help boost children’s mental health to cope with their learning journey at school

September summons our youngsters back to school, college and university. Increased screen time, pressure to succeed and the inability to switch off can tip the nervous system into permanent “sympathetic nervous system” mode. This is the “fight or flight” mode the body originally evolved as a mechanism to protect us from imminent danger. The anxiety response in the brain causes a cascade of hormones with wide-ranging effects such as shortness of breath, a racing heart, paling or flushing of the face, sweaty hands… The list goes on and, if left unchecked, may lead to more regular and extreme symptoms.

Youngsters who suffer from anxiety may feel abnormal and isolated. Depression is deeply personal and masks itself in varied symptoms. Research by the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that perhaps the most effective treatment is personal empowerment of the sufferer’s own treatment. This means that they can learn to recognise and manage their symptoms, assisted by their parents.

Finding the tools that work for the individual is key to success. A regular exercise routine is both physically and mentally beneficial for health, especially within a group or team which will help reduce isolation. Regular sleep and a bedtime routine is very important, so turn off all blue light-emitting devices, avoid late food or drink (give at least two hours to digest) and avoid caffeine and sugary drinks after 1pm. Encourage children to express themselves by drawing or writing; it’s such a beautiful tool as an outlet to release thoughts.

Correct breathing is also vital. The hormonal cascade during an anxiety response causes us to shallow breathe and suck in more air than we breathe out, making panic worse.

Tony Ulatowski has used “The Big Breath” with more than 400 students in London, from pre-schoolers to secondary students, for the last year and received overwhelmingly positive feedback from parents, teachers and pupils. He says: “One of the teachers told of a four-year-old girl with anger issues who’s learnt to take herself away, regulate her emotions and just two or three of the big breaths help her feel better.”

A healthy diet including “live” foods, vegetables and fruits is hugely helpful; 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut. A study from New Zealand in 2017 found depressed patients significantly improved on a modified Mediterranean diet. There are also some natural supplements which are safe, effective, non-addictive and adaptogenic that provide an evidence-based approach for mood imbalance and anxiety in children and teenagers. One of the most widely tested is the ancient spice saffron. Saffron targets the gut as well as the brain.

Dr Paul Clayton, Fellow at The Institute of Food, Brain and Behaviour, believes saffron should be considered in place of current therapies. He says: “By targeting core aspects of mood and anxiety, saffron works far more rapidly than the pharmaceuticals, which shoot at the wrong target. Saffron restores normal nerve function; if you have chronic inflammation, the “brakes” are put on a few key processes. Moreover, it acts very fast (hours, not weeks or months), has no withdrawal symptoms, no side effects, and is safe to use with children.”

Visit www.thenakedpharmacy.com or email info@thenakedpharmacy.com or call 01483 685630.

Did you know?

1 In the UK 16 million people experience mental illness.
2 Three out of four mental illnesses start before the age of 18.
3 10% of school children have a diagnosable mental illness.
4 Three out of four young people with mental illness are not receiving treatment.
5 The average wait for effective treatment is 10 years.
6 Suicide is still the biggest killer of young people in the UK.
7 People with severe mental illness die 10-20 years earlier than the general population.

Acting up

The Boost! School of Acting team believe taking part in drama-based group activities can help develop social skills and reduce anxiety. They offer Saturday morning lessons in Oxfordshire for 4-6-year-olds and 7-10-year olds in Clifton Hampden and Monday morning sessions for pre-schoolers in Didcot. They also want to start a new group for teenagers – parents and teens themselves who might be interested, please get in touch! Visit www.boost-drama.co.uk

London calling

Liz Nicholls

We asked Merlin Labron Johnson, star chef at London’s Portland and The Conduit, his kitchen titbits ahead of his appearance, with many more talents, at The Big Feastival

Q: What is your favourite kitchen gadget – one that you couldn’t live without?
“My microplane – because I love covering dishes with a fine grating of something!”

Q. What’s your favourite summer/al fresco dish?
“Tomatoes, raspberries, basil and good olive oil.”

Q. Do you have a favourite pub/restaurant for a summer visit and why?
“My favourite place to eat is 40 Maltby St in Bermondsey, London. I love their wine list and deceptively simple dishes, all executed to absolute perfection on mismatched crockery.”

Q. Do you have a favourite supplier/producer/farm shop and why?
“I’m a big fan of OrganicLea, a workers’ co-operative growing food on London’s edge in the Lea Valley. Their produce is incredible and their vision is noble – working to create just production and trading systems that provide fair incomes to food producers and guarantee the rights of communities to access healthy and nutritious food produced using ecologically sound and sustainable methods.”

Q. What’s your favourite British summer fruit/veg? And drink? “Strawberries and the green asparagus from OrganicLea farm was incredible this year. Elderflower soda is definitely my favourite summer drink.”

Out of the blue

Liz Nicholls

Interiors fans can look forward to their next dose of luxe inspo thanks to Decorex International 2018, 16th to 19th September

Pops of peacock, azure, indigo and sapphire are sure to dazzle over the next seasons in the world of interiors if Decorex is anything to go by…

And it most certainly is: for more than four decades, Decorex International has been the show of choice for the luxury interior design market, and the go-to destination for new styles and trends. This year, the event returns to Syon Park from Sunday, 16th to Wednesday, 19th September, and will see rugs designed from across the world bringing an international flavour.

Decorex is firmly recognised among the international design community as the trusted resource for high-end interior designers, architects, speciers, retailers and property developers. Boasting more than 400 exhibitors from leading names to emerging talents, this annual four-day show attracts nearly 14,000 visitors from across the globe. This year Blank Canvas is the show theme with lots to delight!

Much celebrated contemporary craft furniture, lighting and home accessories retailer Another Country will be present for the first time. Other SW London stars exhibiting this year include Pooky whose gorgeous marble-effect lampshades are making us swoon; Charlotte Jade with luxe-patterned wallpaper, textiles and ceramic tiles and bespoke patterns and the superb Christopher Jenner who has a studio based in Chiswick Drummonds. Also look out for Blackbird London and Bert Frank. If the interiors inspo has you in the mood for some shopping, also check out the stunning lighting and mirrors, sofas and seating from Isleworth-based Sweetpea & Willow.

Visit www.decorex.com to find out about tickets and updates.

Summer favourites from Atul Kochhar

Liz Nicholls

We asked Atul Kochhar the twice Michelin-starred chef, and owner of Benares in London, Sindhu in Marlow and many other restaurants, about his summer favourites

Atul Kolchhar
Atul Kolchhar

Q: What’s your favourite kitchen gadget?
“I wouldn’t be without a wok or a karahi. A slightly heavier wok is best as you can stew, braise and fry. It’s a good idea to season a new wok before using it for the first time; Put plenty of salt in and heat then take a kitchen cloth and rub the salt all over the sides and base, wash with weak soapy water and dry.”

Q. What’s your fave al fresco dish?
“Anything I can do on the barbecue, meat, vegetables or fruit. You don’t need to add lots of spice; keeping it simple with salt, pepper and lemon juice is ideal. Try to retain the juices as much as you can by grilling on a high heat so the food seals quickly and retains flavour.”

Q. Do you have a favourite pub or restaurant?
“I love The Footman in Mayfair where, once in a while, I go for a pint with my team. A great place.”

Q. What about a fave farm shop or supplier?
Laverstoke Park Farm [in Basingstoke] does the best cheese, especially buffalo mozzarella.”

Q. Which British summer produce do you love?
“Early this year I made a pact with the family to spend less time travelling and more time at home so I’m mostly in the UK. Strawberries are my favourite. Chard and rhubarb I love, too, especially at this time of year. Chard is best blanched quickly, used in the same way as spinach. If I’m cooking a chicken curry I’d add the whole leaf to the pot – which makes it slightly salty but amazing, since it absorbs all the juices. The eating is fantastic! If you’re a vegetarian chard is a great option.”

Visit www.atulkochar.com