Turn on the TAP

Round & About

A new social platform for thanking unsung heroes in education and healthcare/NHS was launched in Ascot last year but never has it been more poignant.

TAP (Thank And Praise) is a unique platform, running on WhatsApp, for parents and patients to thank employees working in education and healthcare/NHS.

Founders, Phillip and Sandie Curtis, came up with the idea after receiving so much excellent care and support for their special needs son, in schools and the NHS, and often finding it difficult to relay their appreciation.

Sandie shared her experience: ‘We have received so much help, from many truly amazing people, who deserve to be recognised for their selfless commitment to caring for us, and our children.’’

TAP research in 2019 confirmed more than 70% of people do not manage to give the thanks they want to pass on, and believe employees in the NHS and education, deserve more praise.

To use TAP, just register on WhatsApp, and let them know who you would like to thank. TAP will pass on your words of appreciation, and also allocate TAP points, worth £1, to your unsung hero, which can be redeemed with participating retailers. These points are funded by corporate companies who want to contribute to the wellbeing of employees in certain sectors.

Soon after the launch in Ascot, St Michaels school became the first establishment to receive more than 100 thank you messages, which means some of their staff have already qualified, and claimed their vouchers, which can be spent in retailers such as Costa, Waitrose and M&S.

The headteacher at St Michaels school, Lorna Anderton has witnessed the benefits of TAP first hand: “As a headteacher, I am thrilled with the opportunities TAP provides to support my teachers’ well-being. A ‘thank you’ every so often makes a huge difference to someone’s day and how they feel. Happy, positive teachers create an environment where our children can flourish. Everyone’s a winner!”

TAP is delivering a tangible solution to the growing need to improve staff well-being in the NHS and education; many of these unsung heroes are being worn down with pressures at work, and TAP provides us all with the opportunity to show how much we appreciate them.

TAP has just launched a digital thanking wall to allow people to post messages of appreciation for the courageous and selfless people working in healthcare/NHS and education, visit the website www.thankandpraise.com to see the wall and post your message.

If you live in the Ascot area, and want to give thanks, message us on Whatsapp 07871 064296, or, if you think TAP would benefit your community, contact Ann on [email protected]

Barking to baking

Round & About

Cook up some peanut butter cookies for your four-legged friends!

The award-winning team behind The Big Bakes are helping dog owners across the nation turn Barking to Baking with their new free online classes as part of a mini series helping owners make simple dog treats at home.

The Big Bakes is the UK’s first and only live baking competition, where guests take part in live bake off events in fully decked out marquees in London and Birmingham. Whilst we are all isolating at home, they are hosting an array of remote tutorials across their instagram and facebook channels to get the nation baking.

Keeping us humans company during our new indoor time is hard work for our four legged friends, so to say thanks, homeowners across the country can now bake their canine companions some special treats to say thank you.

Eloise Frank, co-founder at The Big Bakes said: “My dogs Luna and Freddie have provided me unconditional love and friendship, making life in lockdown infinitely more manageable which is why it is great to be able to return the favour and spend time together baking their favourite dog treats!”

The new mini pet baking series, available now, will see recipes launched twice weekly for an array of pets in the home. The baking team will be sharing two pet treat bake-at-home classes each week across their social media channels, airing on IGTV every Monday and Friday – make sure you look out for the cuteness overload making a guest visit in the Peanut Butter Dog Cookie recipe airing today, Monday, 6th April. All recipes use day-to-day ingredients and standard kitchen equipment found in the home.

To take part in these digital sessions, all people need to do is visit @Thebig_bakes on Instagram or The Big Bakes on Facebook where they will find a list of all the necessary ingredients needed for their up-coming class. And the good news is, there are also plenty of free baking classes on the channel for us humans too. Once people have completed their home made creations, they can share a photograph with @Thebig_bakes, in order to be in the running for a prize. Each week, the team will choose the winning amateur baker, who will receive vouchers to attend a live session later in the year.

The Big Bakes is all about bringing people together through a love of baking (and eating!) so they thought why not extend this to all members of the household, including those with four legs as well as two!

Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Cookies  

Ingredients:

 ⅔ cup or 85 grams fruit puree e.g. pumpkin, banana, apple  

• ¼ cup or roughly 3 tablespoons natural peanut butter (Do not use peanut butter spread that contains sugar, or additives, this should be an all natural whole nut butter suitable for animal consumption e.g. Meridian or Pip and Nut as Xylitol, the sweetener most often used in peanut butter with sugar is toxic to dogs).  

• 2 large eggs  

• 3 cups or 384 grams plain flour wholemeal or rye  

Method:

Begin by preheating your oven to 180c degrees and line a large flat baking tray with baking parchment or a silicone baking mat.  

2  Take your large mixing bowl and crack in your eggs and then add the peanut butter and fruit puree. Now mix the wet ingredients until combined using an electric whisk with the paddle attachment or with a wooden spoon. Remember to give it a good mix if you are using a spoon! 

3  Once combined, gradually add your flour about a quarter at a time and fold into the wet mixture. If you are using an electric whisk then beat this slowly until just incorporated. Then repeat to add the rest of the flour quarter by quarter until the dough is no longer sticky.  

4  Now, form your dough into a ball TIP: you may need to use your hands to do this, so dust them with some flour first.  

5  Then, once your dough is bound together in a ball, dust a work surface with flour and then knead the cookie dough (use your knuckles to press firmly and turn the dough a few times) until it comes together. If you are finding the dough to be sticky just sprinkle on some more flour. 

6  Then, using a rolling pin, roll the dough until it is about the thickness of a £1 coin.  

7  Once rolled, take your cookie cutters (you can also make these by choosing some stencil shapes online and printing and cutting these out using a piece of card) and cut out your desired shapes and place onto the prepared baking sheet leaving a little space between each cookie.  

8  Place into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until they start to turn a golden brown and they are firm to touch.   

9  Once ready, leave to cool completely before treating your 4 legged friend to a delicious peanut butter treat! 

See our other recipes (for humans)

Home schooling

Round & About

Youngsters at home? Don’t panic. Liz Nicholls gathers great educational ideas with the help of Lucy Spencer

When the government announced school was out for the foreseeable, my 11-year-old did a little victory dance. It was a bright moment amid a bleak week, but I was soon chastised when I mentioned this, cheerfully, to a family member who fumed ‘’That’s very irresponsible of you – how are you going to make sure she covers the curriculum?’’

Having been hothoused in an uncaring academic grammar school, I’ve yoyoed and am especially lax in my approach to fixed learning. So it was lovely to hear calming words from Lucy Spencer, a private tutor who lives in Sunninghill and works with Education Boutique.

“Home ed may seem daunting but the beauty is your children will have time to realise you don’t only learn English in English lessons but that all sorts of activities help children to develop and grow in confidence. Don’t put too much pressure on yourselves. Build a routine around your personal situation. You don’t have to emulate school at home.

“The government may be in the process of getting clear guidance about all of these changes but, as teachers, we thrive in situations where people need our help. The whole teaching and tutoring community are coming together and are ready to support every family. It looks like we’re entering a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure you include outdoor fresh air time and consider doing some physical exercise as a family first thing to get up and ready for the day!”

Lucy recommends aiming for an activity that can feed into learning for the whole day. Baking, for example: your child can start the day reading recipe books then select a recipe based on checking ingredients, weigh them out, possibly scale the recipe, time the cooking and can even create imaginary packaging and a menu or business plan for how they could sell their creations.

“I’ve been home educating the children of other for years, from my nextdoor neighbour to celebrities. I understand how daunting it may seem – everyone feels the same. Smile, be positive and create your own unique curriculum and style – it’s not all about worksheets.”

MORE RESOURCES:

Visit educationboutique.co.uk for ideas to support common themes children love, including Minecraft, Pokemon, Lego etc.

Visit scholastic.co.uk and bbc.co.uk/bitesize for lots of free learning resources for all ages

Carol Vorderman has live maths fun at 10am daily at themathsfactor.com and check out worldofdavidwalliams.com/elevenses for English fun at 11am.

History with Dan Snow is free for 30 days at tv.historyhit.com/signuppackage

For geography check out lovely Steve Backshall on Twitter & there’s tons of science fun with Professor Brian Cox, Robin Ince & guests at cosmicshambles.com

Worship Online

Round & About

Holding Sunday services online is one of the ways churches in the Newbury area have had to adapt to not being able to meet physically.

In a surprising development however, churches can also report that online congregations have more than doubled.

Mark Landreth-Smith, pastor of Bridge Church Newbury in Love Lane, said: “We are still feeling our way, to be honest, with streaming services, but it has been a pleasant surprise to see so many people joining in – more than would normally attend on a Sunday.

“I guess some people feel more comfortable in the own home with a mug of coffee watching online. For others, this present crisis may cause them to ask the bigger questions of life: Is there a God…Where is He…What is He doing… Does He even care…?”

Mark is also doing a daily vlog to keep in touch with church members and others who are interested.

“ I was asked to do the vlog and again, am surprised how many people watch it and give feedback, although most of the feedback is about what I am wearing!”.

Churches in the area are still open for business in supporting residents, practical, emotional help and prayer.

Most churches are offering some kind of Sunday online or streaming service. Why not find out what is happening at a church online near you…?

For further information

Contact Christian Together in the Newbury Area

Take your seat…

Round & About

If you’re missing the chance to enjoy live theatre while the current restrictions are in place, help is at hand courtesy of the National Theatre which has launched the National Theatre at Home.

To make it available to everyone it is releasing one title from its back catalogue each week on the National Theatre YouTube channel to keep audiences engaged and with the hope of attracting new fans.

The idea began at the start of April with the James Corden hit One Man, Two Guvnors, followed by Jane Eyre, Treasure Island and Twelfth Night. More are scheduled throughout May. Each production runs for a week only starting on Thursdays at 7pm.

The National Theatre at Home say: “We have worked hard to create an offer and this free streaming is strictly limited to 7 days per title and we have endeavoured to prioritise titles that have benefitted from theatrical success already.

“We see this as an opportunity to raise awareness about filmed live theatre with a wider audience, and will do what we can to welcome them into your venues upon reopening. And we hope this limited online offer might also support your National Theatre Live fans in these challenging times.”

Take this opportunity to enjoy the theatre from the comfort of your sofa and when we can get out and support live theatre again.

To enjoy these ‘at home’ performances

Gardening tips 2

Round & About

With many of us spending more time at home, getting some fresh air and keeping our minds occupied in the current situation is so important.

So switch off from the news and take a break in your garden. Gardening is a great stress buster and it’s a good form of exercise too. 

If you’re looking for ideas there are plenty of uplifting projects to get stuck into in your garden. Why not:

> Plant a tree

Grow your own fruit & veg

Create a wildlife-friendly garden

Plant patio climbing roses

Try growing some plants from seed

Get the children into gardening

Create an edible window box

Sarah Squire, Chairman of Squire’s Garden Centres believes escaping into the garden is a great way to lift your spirits to soak in the beauty if the outdoors generally and our gardens.

She said: “In times like this nature and simple pleasures, like gardening, watching the birds and looking out for wildlife, seem all the more precious and a boost to body and spirit. If you need us we are here to help you get gardening and find some outdoor relaxation and exercise.”

She added: “If you are spending a little more time at home over the coming weeks, I hope that the weather is kind and you are able to enjoy your outside space.”

Squire’s also offer a local home delivery service. Simply call your local centre to arrange delivery. Squires Garden Centres

Spring Clean

If this gets you in the tidying spirit – why not try our Spring Cleaning ideas? Broken down into five easy days!

Gardening tips 1

Round & About

While having to stay at home is not ideal for any of us there are lots of things you can do in the garden and what better time than with the spring weather, here are a few more ideas, that will not only keep you occupied, but also mentally and physically active too:

> Dust down the mower and get out and tackle the lawn, not forgetting the edges which you can trim with shears. This simple task will immediately make your garden look tider.

Welcome the birds into your garden, order some feeders and birdfood to get started if you don’t already have them and the sight and sound of our feathered friends will put a smile on your face.

Do your bit for wild plants that are under threat by sowing some native plants into a window box, on a balcony or in a corner of your garden and make a mini meadow to encourage nature back.

Children can join in with nature/gardening-based craft activities to inspire and entertain them to get growing too. Why not make a den in the garden if you have room and see how ingenious they can be.

Don’t stare at a blank wall or fence, add some colour with hanging baskets or try environmentally-friendly, hessian flower bags filled with compost and planted with flowering plugs.

String up some garden lights to bring a sparkle to a tree, porch, archway or shrub.

Don’t neglect the patio or terrace when dealing with the plants, veg and greenery – a blast from the pressure washer will easily give it a new look.

For a real taste of the summer to come order some strawberry plants and get them in now with some fertilizer to really encourage the juicy sweet fruit.

Add some sunshine with some cheery sunflowers, sow seeds now, put pots on the windowsill and plant seedlings when frosts are gone.

Pot up some herbs, salad leaves, spinach, beetroot, dwarf French beans, potatoes and dwarf carrots which will all do well in containers or skip the sowing and go straight to plug plants.

Spring Clean

If this gets you in the tidying spirit – why not try our Spring Cleaning ideas? Broken down into five easy days!

Spring clean: De-clutter

Round & About

The Great British Spring Clean has been postponed until September but while you can’t do your bit for the outside it doesn’t mean you can’t focus on the inside so how about giving your home a spring clean instead?

Be realistic about it, don’t try tackling it all at once – especially if you’ve got other things that need your attention – do it room by room, perhaps even enlist the help of other family members at home with you and make it fun for the children to help out, after all many hands make light work!

Hopefully now you’ve got a clean, tidy, fresh house so the final step is to de-clutter and take care of the little things to complete that new look for spring…

Clutter


Clean makeup brushes

They’ll need 24 hours to dry so make sure you do this when you won’t be using them, just use a brush cleanser or a lightweight unscented shampoo.

Dust

Don’t just clear surfaces and straighten up ornaments, take the time to have a really good dust, bedside table, shelves etc, it will add to the overall improvement of the house.

Clean toys in dishwasher and washing machine

Put plastic things in the dishwasher and fabric in the washing machine. Remember to check what it’s made of first– you don’t want goggly eyes or loose parts falling off in the machine.

And finally… Create a space for clutter

No matter how hard you try there will always be some bits and pieces you can’t get rid off but that don’t have a natural home so create a dedicated space to store these things to ensure all your hard work and newly cleaned and tidied home isn’t spoiled by clutter again.

Spring clean your digital life

Round & About

The Great British Spring Clean has been postponed until September but while you can’t do your bit for the outside it doesn’t mean you can’t focus on the inside so how about giving your home a spring clean instead?

Be realistic about it, don’t try tackling it all at once – especially if you’ve got other things that need your attention – do it room by room, perhaps even enlist the help of other family members at home with you and make it fun for the children to help out, after all many hands make light work!

Over the next week, we’ll share advice on all those essential tasks that can help give your house a new lease of life.

It’s not just the ‘physical’ possessions in your life that needed ‘cleaning’, do a digital clear out too… 

Digital


Clean up your desktop

A quick fix to tidy up your screen is to move items into folders, although just a temporary fix, it’ll allow time to sort through files in an orderly way.

Clean keyboards

Keyboards are often neglected but cleaning them is simple – soap, water and a cotton bud will help you get in between keys without a problem.

Unsubscribe and delete unwanted emails

Don’t let unopened emails accumulate in your inbox. You can either search ‘unsubscribe’ in your emails and find the ones you don’t want or for a more thorough job, sort your inbox by “from” and choose the sender you don’t want to hear from.

Spring clean your house

Round & About

The Great British Spring Clean has been postponed until September but while you can’t do your bit for the outside it doesn’t mean you can’t focus on the inside so how about giving your home a spring clean instead?

Be realistic about it, don’t try tackling it all at once – especially if you’ve got other things that need your attention – do it room by room, perhaps even enlist the help of other family members at home with you and make it fun for the children to help out, after all many hands make light work!

Over the next week, we’ll share advice on all those essential tasks that can help give your house a new lease of life.

You’ve focused on the key rooms, so how about turning your attention to the house overall?

House


Remove carpet stains with an iron

Vacuum the area, dampen any spots or stains with a towel soaked in a solution of one part vinegar and three parts water. Place the moist towel over the stain and use the iron to heat the towel, it should lift the stain into the towel.

 

Banish bad smells

Open your windows to let in some fresh air. Check your fruit bowl for worst-for-wear fruit and take the bin out. A cup of vanilla extract in the oven to heat for an hour will make your home smell like a bakery. Fresh potted herbs in the kitchen (mint, rosemary and basil) are also a great way to freshen things up.

 

Rearrange furniture

Not only will it feel like you’ve got a new room, it’ll also help you clear away clutter and dirt in the process.

 

Wash the windows

The best time to do this is on a cloudy day as sun dries them out too quickly, causing streaks. Mix equal parts white vinegar and warm water and spritz away, making sure to rub it in quickly and fluidly.

 

Create a donations box

Place a box, bag or bin somewhere handy for unwanted items, drop in one thing per day that you don’t wear or use anymore. It will soon fill up and you can then donate or sell the collection when the box is full.