Snowdrop walk

Karen Neville

All Areas

Child Bereavement UK invites families to plant a snowdrop in memory of someone important at a special event at West Wycombe Park, West Wycombe.  

This annual event, which started in 2001, is a special day to remember babies and children who have died, and children who are bereaved each year.

Individual snowdrops will be on sale and a book of remembrance, donated by a bereaved family, will be available to sign.

There will be a children’s treasure hunt where children can explore the grounds before receiving a fun-filled goody bag at the end. Refreshments will be available at the finish, as well as cake and a tombola to enjoy.

Child Bereavement UK supports families and educates professionals both when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying and when a child is facing bereavement.

Join the walk at West Wycombe Park on Sunday, 2nd February, 10.30am to 4pm, last entry 3.30pm. Adults £3, under 16s & concessions £2, under 3s free.

Only guide dogs and hearing dogs are permitted within the grounds.

The Child Bereavement UK helpline team is available to take calls and respond to emails 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday on 0800 0288840 or email [email protected] 

More info

For more information about the Snowdrop Walk

2020 trends

Round & About

All Areas

It’s the new year which must mean it’s time for that ‘new you’ we all search for for a few weeks/months, but trends for 2020 mean it’s not all about sweating it out at a gym and donning your running gear in all weathers, the emphasis is as much on mental wellbeing as it is on physical activity. Here’s a few of things to tempt you this year… 

Wellbeing workouts

More workouts are putting mindfulness and mental health at the fore with spiritual wellbeing and nurturing the soul becoming more important. Expect to find therapies like cryotherapy, meditation, breathing, massages and flotation tanks.

 

Mindful running

This can be a great way to put your worries and stresses to the back of your mind, disconnect from what is overwhelming you and allow you some ‘me time’. Mindful running encourages you to focus on your training and yourself.

 

Mind over matter

New workouts will focus on strengthening your mind as much as your body. The idea is to push yourself out of your comfort zone with bootcamp-style exercises and team competitions. The goal is to build mental resilience, as well as improve fitness levels.

 

Group workouts

2020 is expected to bring a surge in group sweat classes, workouts could replace happy hour and team lunches swapped for team outings to a spin or trampoline class. Working out increases team bonding, productivity and improves culture. It can be a great way to develop friendships too and reduce some of the self-consciousness and anxiety of exercising in a room full of strangers.

Hybrid yoga

Combine the exercise with other practices. Yoga HIIT (high intensity interval training) balances stretches with sharp bursts of intensity, ensuring you use all your muscles and are buzzing with endorphins.

 

Snooze time

Recognition of needing more sleep will be in focus in 2020. Sleep deprivation can impact you at work, your physical appearance and your mental health. There’s more technical equipment that can help fight lack of sleep and more fitness studios are sleep space for after workout rest and sleep pods are popping up for a rest on your lunch break.

 

Shorter workouts

It seems HIIT (high intensity interval training) is not intense enough, say hello to micro HIIT. The recommended amount of HIIT is 20 minutes, three times a day but get set for an even more intense version with two or three minutes’ worth throughout the day! Feel exhausted yet?

 

At-home workouts

The popularity of Peloton, the home-spinning bike sensation shows no signs of abating in 2020. Without having to leave home and in your pjs if you wish you can join in thousands of on-demand classes. Trainers with infectious energy are helping to grow this trend. Look out too for the Peloton Tread (running treadmills) coming from the US including training and recovery tips.

 

Smart boxing

With the increasing use of tech, comes punch trackers. Worn on your wrist, the device will track the velocity and intensity of your punches to measure your progression and see how your right hook compares to your fellow boxers.

New year, new job

Round & About

All Areas

Want a change of job and need some help writing that perfect CV? Judith Coslett has some great advice 

Would you like to make changes in your working life this year? A promotion, more work-life balance or perhaps a return to work after a career break? Your first step in securing this move is writing your CV and this is where a few tips can make a big difference. 

Layout – make your CV easy on the eye. Use standard margins and a normal size font and don’t be tempted to jam too much onto one page. 

Length – 2 pages is ideal. If you are struggling to keep to this limit, you may be giving too much detail about your early career. Your most recent experience is what interests the recruiter most. There’s no need to detail everything you did many years ago. 

Introduction – keep your personal profile brief, 1 or 2 short sentences. It should present you as though someone were introducing you, stating your profession, highest level qualification and experience.  

Suitability – show how you are suitable for the new job. Include the skills and experience the recruiter is after and make it easy for them to find this by bullet-pointing rather than hiding it in long paragraphs of text. 

Relevance – if parts of your previous job are not relevant to the new job, leave them out. Just list the tasks and responsibilities that are similar. The recruiter doesn’t need to know everything you did in a role, just the aspects which match the new job. 

Hobbies and interests – only include these if they are relevant to the job or you are applying for your first job and using your hobbies to evidence your skills. The recruiter may have a negative view of your particular hobby based on their own experience and you want to avoid discrimination.  

Unexplained gaps – don’t leave anything unexplained if it could be assumed to be some sort of problem. If you left a job after a short time say why, so the recruiter doesn’t wonder whether you were sacked. If you were unemployed for a long time, state what you were doing so the recruiter doesn’t draw their own conclusions. 

Some people are better than others at expressing themselves in writing or formatting documents on a computer. If you struggle with this, it is probably worth getting your CV professionally produced as a poor CV may hamper your chances in the employment market. A good consultant should ask for details of the sort of job you’re going for, so they can tailor your CV to that and give you the best possible chance at being short-listed for interview. 

More info

Judith Coslett is an experienced CV writer and interview coach based in Guildford.

Education guide: Winter 2020

Round & About

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Welcome to the first education extra of 2020, we had an impressive array of entries for our story writing competition and they all prove what a talented bunch you are! Congratulations to our two winners and thanks to all who entered. Reading and writing are very good for your mental health and as more schools are focussing on pupils’ overall wellbeing we look at the importance of that and what is being done to improve this as Children’s Mental Health Week will be encouraging you to ‘Find Your Brave’

FIND YOUR BRAVE

Wellbeing is becoming as much a part of the curriculum as maths and English. Find out how it can help you and your school

Superheroes would probably feature highly for most children if they were asked who they thought was brave. However, bravery comes in all shapes and sizes as this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is out to prove.

The week from 3rd to 9th February invites schools, youth groups, organisations and individuals to take part with one goal to “Find Your Brave”.

Bravery is about so much more than just fighting evil villains, it can be about fighting your own enemies, sharing worries and not being afraid to ask for help. Perhaps you want to try something new or push yourself outside your comfort zone, build your self confidence, improve your self-esteem and feel good about yourself.

Children’s mental health charity Place2Be which provides counselling and mental health support and training in schools, says bravery is all about finding positive ways to deal with things that may be difficult, overcoming physical and mental challenges and looking after yourself. They believe that children should not have to face mental health problems alone.

Place2Be launched the first Children’s Mental Health Week in 2015 to highlight the importance of children and young people’s mental health. Now in its sixth year, they hope to encourage more people than ever to get involved and spread the word. about the importance of caring for your mental health.

Last year, Place2Be worked with 639 schools in England, Scotland and Wales, reaching 364,080 children and young people. In the same year, more than 300 schools took part in Mental Health Champions programmes, equipping school leaders, teachers and staff with the skills and confidence to support pupils’ mental health. Over 1,600 child counsellors took part in training on various levels, building an ever-growing number who specialise in working with children and young people.

The Mental Health Foundation offers The 5 Ways to Wellbeing, a set of actions which have been proven to improve wellbeing, offering a starting point for schools.

Connect

Get to know your classmates, it’s a great support network, get together over activities or just tea and a chat.

Get active

Exercise can be good for your mind as well as your body, whether you cycle, dance, run, swim, jump or walk, it’s a great way to deal with negative thoughts and feelings.

Be mindful

Take time to check in with your thoughts and feelings, you may notice things you’ve missed, try a yoga session or mindfulness, breathing techniques can be a real help especially at exam time.

Keep learning

Lifelong learning is the way to keep the brain healthy, the sense of achievement from learning something new can be great for your mood, or try a quiz or a new skill.

Give to others

Helping others can help reduce your own stress, improve your own emotional wellbeing and even benefit your physical health.

• To find out more about how these charities can help you or your school, visit www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk and
www.mentalhealth.org.uk

PASTORAL CARE – CAN YOU FEEL IT?

New headmaster of Barfield School in Farnham, Andrew Boyle talks about the importance of pastoral care for pupils

As a new Headmaster, my first half of term has been spent carefully observing and evaluating the many strengths of Barfield School, while also looking for those areas where a fresh pair of eyes might make a difference. One aspect of school life which works beautifully here is the understanding of what outstanding pastoral care looks like.

With research showing that mental health issues are becoming apparent earlier and earlier in children’s lives, is it any wonder that some parents are putting more emphasis on finding a school which places a higher priority on pastoral care and wellbeing?

From your first telephone conversation with the Admissions Registrar, you are immediately making judgements as to the ethos and values of the school and rightly so! However, it is my belief that pastoral care is best measured by ‘that feeling’ you get when you walk in through the front door for the first time.

The cornerstone of a culture of warmth, support and family comes from the people. There is simply no substitute for great staff and certainly no shortcut in the relationships they build with your children. Trust your first impressions, but if you are not sure, take a few moments to look around at the children, as they are always the best ambassadors of a school and its beliefs.

Outstanding pastoral care is not just the responsibility of the named Deputy Head or a policy document to which you refer to when something goes wrong, but it is in fact a commitment from top to bottom, with the understanding that everyone has a significant role to play. Cliche or not, happy children are going to make the most progress and will fulfil their potential in all aspects of school life.

I do not have the pleasure of having children yet, but when I do, top of my wish list will be to watch them skip into school every day, safe in the knowledge that when they do hit a road bump, the people around them know them inside and out.

STORY COMPETITION WINNERS

Our younger readers have proved to be a very talented imaginative bunch if the entries for our short story competition are anything to go by. We received a great variety of stories demonstrating there could well be some future David Walliams’ and J K Rowling’s out there. Well done to all who took part, here are the winning entries…

Keep Dreaming by Bethan Hopton

Bethan’s entry charmed us for the way she showed how small random acts of kindness can make all the difference, often in the most unexpected ways and how dreams can come true

Sam was cycling down a hill when all of a sudden…”STOP”. He looked behind him and saw an elderly man next to a road. “Little boy” he croaked “can you be a dear and help me across the road?” Sam flinched at the world little but he couldn’t help stopping his bike and going over to help the man.

He checked the road to see if there was any traffic. He was used to checking the road as he was twelve. He went out on his own all the time!
They walked across the road really slowly because it took ages for Sam to walk whilst carrying all of the man’s heavy bags. Sam checked his watch. He had been helping the man for almost five minutes and they were barely quarter of the way across the road!

Sam sighed as he thought of the football match he had intended to watch when he got home from school. It would be starting any minute!
“Did you have a good day at school?” the man asked in a suspiciously high voice. ”I guess,” murmured Sam.

Eventually, they got to the end of the road. “Bye,” Sam said and began to climb onto his bike. “Bye,” the old man called after him.
When he got home, Sam slumped onto the sofa and switched on the television. He groaned as he looked at the time. He had missed a whole half an hour of the game.

“Mum” he called ”can I have a drink?” ”Sure” she answered.
The next day at school started normally. Sam met his friends outside the gates and cast a cheeky grin at Ffion, his girlfriend who was standing outside the assembly hall when he got in.

Everybody was sat down when the head teacher entered. ”So,” she said, “we have a special guest today and I’ll let them introduce themselves.” She walked off the stage and an elderly man walked on. Sam instantly realised that the man was the same man that he had helped yesterday and smiled at him. “Hello,” the man said, peeling off a mask, “I am Harry Kane.”

Sam stared at Harry and gasped. He recognised him! “You will be pleased to know that I have chosen Sam Jeffers to be my mascot at our next game because of his kindness to elderlies. I disguised myself as an elderly man yesterday, waiting for someone to help me. Many people ignored me but Sam helped me even though he didn’t seem to particularly want to.”

Beeep! Sam’s alarm clock was beeping. ”Are you awake?” his mum called from downstairs. “Yes” Sam shouted back. He quickly got changed in the uniform that Harry had told him to wear and jumped in the car. They got to the stadium early so that Harry could go over things with him. Sam gasped “It’s amazing!” “I know” whispered Harry “Good luck!”

Turning over a new leaf by Elijah Mayers

Elijah’s use of description, painting pictures through words made it easy to visualise the story he was telling and again showed the value of being kind and thinking of others

Sam was cycling down the hill when all of a sudden, his mother appeared by the roadside with her hands firmly placed on her hips. He knew straight away that something was very wrong. Sam got off the bike and walked sheepishly with his head down towards his mum.

Sam’s mother Simone was a stout overweight woman who always wore clothes two sizes too small. Her face was as round and pale as the moon. Her eyes were cold and blue like the sea. Her black hair was long and thin like liquorice running down to her waist. Simone in her high-pitched voice shrieked at Sam to “Get in the house!!!”.

Sam made his way into the house and went straight into the living-room. The house was a mess and Dad lay spread out on the sofa fast asleep. Sam’s dad was a skinny man with a potbelly who loved to wear string-vests. He had thick Ginger hair covering his entire body, making him look like an orangutan. As he slept, Sam’s dad snored. In fact, he snored so loudly that the glass of water on the table next to him shook and eventually fell on the floor.

Ever since Sam’s dad had been sacked for stealing a pair of pink pyjamas from the warehouse where he worked, all he did was lay around the house snoring like a tractor.

Simone soon followed Sam into the living-room and scream at him “What have you done!!!”. Simone went on to explain that the Headmaster’s office had called her, and they wanted a meeting tomorrow.

“I can’t miss work and your dad is useless, so your grandad will have to go with you,” Simone yelled. A wave of fear spread over Sam and that night, he had a horrible nightmare about being told off by the Headmaster.

The next day, the doorbell rang as Sam was getting dressed for school. It was his grandad Jonas wearing a bright green suit and a blue tie shimmering in the sun. Sam sighed and let him in.

Later at school, the Headmaster’s secretary told them to wait in the Headmaster’s office. Sam was so worried that he started to feel nauseous. A moment later, a tall skinny man entered the room and introduced himself as Mr Pearce the Headmaster.

Mr Pearce explained that in the past, Sam had been in trouble a lot of times for bullying. Sam was known for Kicking, punching and pushing the smaller pupils in the school. Recently, Sam has changed his behaviour and now actually helps the other pupils when they hurt themselves. Mr Pearce went on to say how pleased he was that Sam had turned over a new leaf and made himself a better person. Sam nearly fell off his chair when Mr Pearce told him they had awarded him a commendation.

When Sam got home, he showed Simone the commendation and she was so pleased that she nearly fainted. From that day on, Sam’s mum stopped shrieking at him and started praising him instead.

THE HELP HUT

Pupils at Longacre School can enjoy a welcoming environment to talk in The Bear Hut

Schools are putting more emphasis now on pupils’ mindfulness and mental health, making sure their overall needs are addressed.

One of those which has been working to help children is Longacre School in Shamley Green which has opened a new wellbeing space.
The ‘Bear Hut’, so called after the bear that features in the school’s logo, opened at the start of the September term and is already proving popular.

Funded by Longacre PTA, the Bear Hut provides a safe, quiet, welcoming environment where children can be listened to. It will be used as a space for counselling, speech therapy and occupational therapy with individual children and small groups. Mindfulness Club and art therapy will also take place inside the hut.

The Bear Hut is the brainchild of Longacre’s Head of Art and Head of Years 5 & 6, Tara Pandey. She said: “Research has shown 70% of children and young people who have experienced a mental health problem have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age and that children and young people who experience mental illness are more likely than other people to experience mental illness in adulthood.*

“Creating the right environment for children is about creating the right physical environment as well as the right emotional environment.”
She said she expects it to be used as a place for teachers to meet parents and children together to talk through any issues and to offer reassurance or just share their day.
*according to research by Young Minds

HAPPY EATING

Honey Bees Day Care, Farnham has some advice to develop your child’s healthy eating habits

How your child eats today can have a huge impact on their health, food preferences and dietary habits. The earlier you begin teaching them healthy eating patterns, the more likely they’ll be to take these good habits with them into adolescence and adulthood.
Healthy eating can stabilise children’s energy, balance their moods and prevent illnesses. A balanced diet will also ensure your child gets the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients for growth and mental development.To get all these nutrients, it is important your littles ones start experimenting with a wide variety of foods from an early age – fruit and vegetables, beans, lentils, lean meat, oily fish, nuts, seeds and whole grains such as brown rice and bread.
A great way to get your children to experiment with food is to make it fun:

• get creative in the kitchen and let your child try different flavours and textures of food

• try and put different colours of food on the plate so they get a variety of nutrients, turn it inot a game with the colours

• get them involved in the weekly food shop, learn about where different foods come from

If they won’t try different foods, don’t worry: the majority of children go through phases with their eating, and habits will often change over time.

• Day care and forest school, Honey Bees, based in Bentley, near Farnham offers a full curriculum to get the most out of any child’s time in their care, including gymnastics, yoga and French

OUTSTANDING NURSERY

The Lime Tree Nursery in Alton is celebrating its top class report

A homely setting and an environment in which children flourish are just two of the reasons why Lime Tree Nursery in Alton has been rated outstanding.

The recent inspection revealed four areas in which Lime Tree was outstanding citing the “rich and stimulating activities” which support development and commented on the “exciting opportunities that skilfully prepares them for their future successes”.

There was also praise for the qualified and experienced staff, with the report saying: “They are always engaging with the children and make this a wonderful environment for the children to flourish.”

The report continues to say: “Children learn impressive new skills during forest school sessions, including how to use tools safely and how to cook food on open fires. The well-resourced outdoor area provides the children with various opportunities for exploration, risk taking and challenge.”

Relationships with parents were also highlighted. The report said: “They liken the nursery to a family and are delighted with their extremely supportive care.”

Lime Tree Children’s Day Nursery is set in a home from home, with an enclosed garden, full of nature to explore and with direct access to Anstey Park. Open for 51 weeks, from 8am – 6pm, taking children from birth to school age.

The nursery also welcomes children back during the school holidays for their first year of school, making the transition to school from nursery much easier.

THE POWER OF READING

Find out how ARCh can help

Reading for pleasure can increase self-esteem, reduce symptoms of depression, help build better relationships and reduce anxiety and stress. When immersing yourself in a good book, you can be swept away to a happy world, away from any dilemmas or stresses. Certain books can also help you realise you are not alone, which is often a focus for the healing process; recognising others may be going through similar struggles.

But what happens if you can’t read well? Assisted Reading for Children Oxfordshire (ARCh) has over 300 volunteers visiting primary schools twice a week to read with three children for 30 minutes each. Each volunteer has a box of books and games to engage with each child and they endeavour to find the right book to inspire a love of reading. An ARCh session focuses on the child improving their reading skills, but it’s about so much more; it’s about a special relationship helping that child gain confidence and knowing it’s OK to make mistakes.
The children and their adult volunteers benefit from the connection between reading and mental wellbeing. People who read into old age can reduce memory decline and have fewer physical signs of dementia. By sharing the magic of reading with a child, the volunteers can gain empathy and perspective at a time when their own connections may have reduced and a sense of loneliness may have crept in.

• To share the magic of reading and enhance your wellbeing in 2020 visit www.archoxfordshire.org.uk or call 01869 320380 to find out more. Happy reading!

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE QUESTION

Former head Gerald Vinestock has useful advice before you head off to a school open day

It’s easy enough to mock open days, but parents can find them useful. It’s important first to realise the school is selling itself and parents are potential customers; parents should forget their own schooldays terror of visits to the Head and ask the questions that matter.

If your Ermintrude is a budding Mozart, don’t reveal that until you have the answer to the question, ‘How important is music in the school?’ You are much more likely to get the answer you need than if you start by revealing that Ermintrude passed Grade 6 clarinet at the age of three.
Keep questions neutral therefore, but make sure you do ask them.

You may be shown round by a pupil – that is a good sign of the school’s confidence in its children – and you will be able to gauge a lot about the relationship between pupils and staff as you go round. You will pick up, even on an open day, something of the atmosphere of the school. That matters even more than exam results, though you should ask about these and where pupils go after leaving.

Classrooms are revealing and you should look at what’s on the walls, but remember that a rather untidy piece of writing pinned up prominently may reveal that here is a teacher who really cares: that particular piece of writing may mark a huge step forward for the pupil, whose confidence has now been boosted by public display of this work.

A visit on an open day can be helpful, but if you are close to choosing a school, a second visit on a normal school day will be even more helpful to enable you to gauge the atmosphere. Not all schools can cope with such individual visits, but it is worth asking, it will be easier to assess what the school is really like on a normal day and to ascertain whether this will be the right place for Ermintrude or Wilfred. Much more important than what gossip may say is whether you feel the school is right for your child. If you have met caring staff and happy children that matters more than local tittle-tattle when you come to make a very important decision.

The most important thing to remember is that however impressive and daunting the Head may be, ask the questions that are important for you and keep them neutral!

Gerald Vinestock was Northern Regional Director for the Independent Schools Information Service (Now ISC). He has recently had published Crib and the Labours of Hercules a children’s book available locally at Blackwell’s. Read more from Gerald Vinestock at www.geraldvinestock.co.uk

PUPIL POWER

Berkshire schools encouraged to enter conservation awards

School children in Berkshire are being invited to do their bit for the environment by taking part in the 2020 Dorothy Morley Conservation Awards in honour of a pioneering campaigner.

The awards are promoted by CPRE Berkshire and recognise the two best school projects promoting environmental conservation with prizes of £1,000 and £500 on offer.

CPRE Berkshire branch secretary Gloria Keene said they were encouraged by young people’s desire to change their local environment.
She said: “By promoting this award scheme throughout the county, we hope that we can help school children feel that they can really make a difference, particularly when news about the climate change emergency might feel overwhelming.

“We believe local action can bring big changes and look forward to hearing about pupils, teachers and parents working together on what we know will be some fantastic projects.”

Past examples of projects include tree planting and waste recycling, partnerships with organisations in towns and villages, promoting organic and local food, creating and developing school gardens and creating and maintaining wildlife friendly community areas.

The award reflects the work of Dorothy Morley who died in 1995 and was a strong campaigner on environmental issues. In addition to the £1,000 first prize and £500 for the runner up, all shortlisted schools are invited to display information about their project at CPRE Berkshire’s July presentation event.

The deadline for schools to register their interest is 31st January. For more information contact Gloria on 0118 930 6756 or email [email protected]

Go green!

Round & About

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If we each make small changes to our lives we can collectively make a huge impact to protect our planet for future generations. Here are some positive ideas…

A new year, and a new decade. Recent months have delivered some very bleak news about the fate of our planet. We all know, thanks to Greta Thunberg and others, that urgent action is needed to mitigate the damage our species has done. However, we believe that positivity is the only way to bring about change so please consider these suggestions inspiration rather than guilt trips. Some of it might seem like common sense Together we can make a huge difference.

Tree’s company

Scientists have stated that billions more trees could remove two-thirds of all the carbon dioxide created by human activity. The Woodland Trust is the UK’s largest woodland conservation charity working hard to protect the 1,064 ancient woods threatened by development right now. Buy saplings or donate at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk. Also plant bee-friendly plants and wildflowers. And aim to use only naturally derived products and fertilisers and keep your lawn real rather than paving over.

Council care

In the garden, get a compost bin to reduce your household waste. Ensure you utilise food waste, green waste and recycling schemes in your area: local authorities are working very hard to boost these so do check online what can & can’t be recycled to reduce landfill. Reusing, and buying less in the first place is still the best way to lessen your carbon footprint. Monitor and aim to reduce your levels over time.

Shower power

Just 2.5% of the world’s water is freshwater (the rest being saltwater) and most of it is frozen or deep underground so we can’t afford to waste it. According to the Environment Agency, we could run short of water within the next 25 years. Shorten your shower and save 10 litres every minute, and get a water-saving shower head. An average five-minute shower will use 40% less water than a bath.

Feeling flush

Using the small button on your loo will save half the water. Or fit a low-cost water saving device in your cistern. Perhaps surprisingly, dishwashers use far less water and energy than washing up. Run taps slowly & turn off in between brushing your teeth, for example. In the garden, get a water butt if you can and use a watering can.

Heating help

When heating your home, turn radiators off or down in less used or unused rooms, consider if and when you really need the heating on and pop a jumper on or get a warmer duvet. Turning down your thermostat by just one degree can save up to £80 a year. Home boiler heating is responsible for nearly 20% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Bright sparks

You can save electricity and around £30 a year just by remembering not leave your appliances on standby and more by unplugging. Don’t leave lights on or appliances and devices on, in standby mode or charging unnecessarily. Switch to more energy-efficient LED lightbulbs and save about £40 per year.

People power

Switch to renewable electricity and green gas at home and reduce both your carbon foorprint and bills. Leading providers include Bulb, Octopus Energy and Ecotricity. The average home can save 1.5 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Do install a Smart Meter too – visit www.uswitch.com

Holiday at home

Consider a UK staycation for your next holiday. A long-haul return flight, say to New York can generate 1,000KG of CO2 per passenger. It takes an average person in more than 50 of the world’s countries to reach that figure an an entire year. A flight to America’s west coast would produce 50% more emissions, and a flight to say China or Australia double that.

Web wise

Switch to using the Ecosia search engine, which commits 80% of its profits to supporting reforestation projects. To date, it’s helped to plant more than 70 million trees.

Shopping savvy

Shop more responsibly and you can significantly reduce your waste and recycling output. And “punish” major supermarkets for their inaction! Look for local suppliers of milk, bread, fruit and veg, meat and dairy and other products. Find products that are made or grown in the UK and use less packaging, such as loose fruit & veg. Sign up to Freegle updates and for clothing, join the kids & buy vintage on apps such as Depop.

Waste not

Think about switching to a disposable safety razor, a bamboo toothbrush, planet-friendly deodorant, bamboo loo roll, soap bars or refillable shampoos and shower gels and use a Mooncup if menstruating. More zero-waste shops & pop-ups are appearing: we will keep bringing you news of these locally!

Cleaning up

In the kitchen, consider green dishwasher and washing machine aids (from Ecoleaf to soap nuts), a household cleaner such as Koh, refillable washing up liquid and other products (from Splosh to Smol) and  plastic-free cloths and scourers (from Ecococonut to Loofah).

Avoid palm oil

Research by Rainforest Rescue showed that the equivalent of 300 football fields are being destroyed every hour to produce palm oil production that can be found in close to 50% of the packaged products. The following ingredients on labels show that the product might well contain unsustainable palm oil: Palmate, Palmitate, Palmolein, Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearine, Palmitoyl Oxostearamide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate, Hyrated Palm Glycerides, Etyl Palmitate, Octyl Palmitate and Palmityl Alcohol. (Source: WWF)

Drinking problem

It goes without saying that if you’re a keen coffee drinker or like to carry a drink on your travels, you should invest in a reusable coffee cup (from R Cup to Stojo) and drinks bottle (from Klean Kanteen and Jedz to One Green Bottle).

Food for thought

Avoid food waste and cut your household emissions by controlling portions, planning meals and monitoring dates. Every year in the UK we throw away £13 billion worth of food that could’ve been eaten, with the average wasting £500 a year. See our Ramblings for a wealth of gardening clubs to help you grow your own or share the fruits of other labours in various swap sales in your community.

More info

For more tips, visit

Talking point: Liz Bonnin

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Liz Nicholls asks award-winning presenter and biologist Liz Bonnin about school, the live tour of the BBC’s Planet Earth II this spring and how we can all do our bit.

Q. Which early experiences or teachers sparked your love of nature? “I grew up in France, in the mountains above Nice. My sister and I were always out in the wood near our house with our two dogs, having adventures with hedgehogs, snakes and spiders. Nature just works its magic if you plonk kids in the middle of it. At school, I was fascinated by little birds, how everything worked inside that perfect little body, which led me to biology. Then I wanted to understand how everything worked in every living system and I had a great chemistry teacher in Ireland who nurtured my passion. A good teacher will do that. I wasn’t very good at physics or maths but I loved school.”

Q. Do series such as Planet Earth, and Sir David Attenborough’s latest Seven Worlds, One Planet have an influence on how we treat our planet? “We’ve reached a tipping point in terms of our impact, and one of the things I’m most astounded by is that petrochemical companies are just seemingly carrying on as if it’s ‘business as usual’. I believe we can make a difference, but need to be aware of the facts. I think series like Planet Earth can both move and inspire people.”

Q. Has filming Meat: A Threat To Our Planet changed your eating habits? “I already was eating less meat. The show certainly made me think again about how we treat a food that, considering its impact, should be a luxury rather than an everyday staple. I don’t eat red meat and any chicken I eat is free range, high welfare.”

Q. How do you feel about Planet Earth II’s live tour? ”It hasn’t quite sunk in that I’ll be involved. So, to be stepping out as part of the tour and getting to see it all on a gigantic screen with a full orchestra as well… I think I’ll be quite emotional.”

Q. What is it like working with a national treasure Sir David? “I’ve met Sir David on a few occasions now, and I’ll never forget the first time I saw him about 12 years ago when he was talking at an event. I was a bit starstruck; he was my hero when I was growing up. He went from production work into inventing natural history programming with the BBC. There really is nobody else like him and I doubt there ever will be again. He’s not just a national treasure, but one for the whole world.”

More info

For Planet Earth II Live in Concert 2020 visit the website and see our competitions.

Janyary’s recipes: Vive la revolution!

Round & About

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We share two exclusive recipes from Ollie Hunter’s brand new sustainable cookbook with two copies up for grabs

Chicken breast tagine

with locally dried fruit

Ingredients:

• 1 tbsp ground cumin
• 1 tbsp ground coriander
• 1 tbsp ground turmeric
• 1 tbsp paprika
• Two raw chicken breasts
• Oil of your choice, for frying
• One onion, diced
• Six garlic cloves, diced
• A handful of fresh coriander (cilantro), with stalks diced
and leaves left whole
• One red chilli, diced
• 100 ml/31/3 fl oz or 1/3 cup
red wine, water or even cider (hard cider)
• 1 x 400g/14oz can of
chopped tomatoes
• 1 tbsp apple molasses, or use whatever molasses is locally produced
• 1 x 400g/14oz cooked beans
or pulses – cannellini beans
are delicious
• Handful of local dried fruits such as prunes, damsons
or apricots, pitted
• Salt

To serve

• Dollops of plain yogurt
• Grains such as spelt or couscous, cooked

Method:
reheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Mix all the spices together and set aside. Rub the chicken breasts with 1 tbsp of the spice mix. Add a few glugs of oil to an ovenproof saucepan and place over a medium heat. Quickly fry the chicken breasts – just to sear the outside on both sides – then remove from the pan and leave to one side.

Add some more oil to the same pan and then sauté the diced onion, garlic, coriander stalks and chilli until soft. Once soft, stir in the rest of the spice mix and cook for a few minutes. Add the wine, cider or water to deglaze the pan. Add the tomatoes and molasses and give it a little stir. Simmer for 10 minutes to reduce the sauce.

Add the drained beans or pulses and dried fruit, stir and season with salt. Nestle each seared chicken breast into the sauce, then add 100 ml/31/3 fl oz/1/3 cup cold water and transfer to the oven to cook for between 30 and 35 minutes.

Serve the tagine scattered with fresh coriander leaves and perhaps some edible flowers, with dollops of yogurt and some spelt or couscous.

Beetroot leaf dhal

Ingredients:

• 100g/3½ oz/½ cup dried red split lentils or split peas
• Oil with a high smoking point such as rapeseed or sunflower, for frying
• One onion, diced
• Chunk of fresh ginger, diced
• Six garlic cloves, diced
• Handful of fresh coriander (cilantro), stalks diced and leaves left whole
• One red chilli, diced
• One cinnamon stick
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 1 tsp ground coriander
• 1 tsp ground turmeric
• 1 tsp black mustard seeds
• Four fresh tomatoes,
chopped (or ½ x 400g/14oz can of tomatoes)
• Four beetroot stalks and leaves, thinly sliced (save the beetroot for another meal)
• Salt
• Dollops of plain yogurt,
to serve

One of the great things about eating from root to fruit is the added variety of flavours and textures available to us. For example, sage flowers have the subtle taste of sage but are a little more floral than the leaves. Pea shoots offer a lighter and more delicate pea flavour than the pea. In this recipe, beetroot stalks bring that earthy beetroot taste, but with added crunch and freshness.

Method:
If you’re using split peas, then they’ll need to be soaked overnight in plenty of cold water before using.

Put a good amount of oil into a large pan (skillet) over a medium-high heat. Add the diced onion, ginger, garlic, coriander stalks and chilli and fry until soft.

Once they’re soft, add the cinnamon stick, ground spices, mustard seeds and continue to cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the tomatoes and lentils or soaked and drained split peas. Season to taste with salt and stir. Add one litre / four cups of cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes if using lentils (or 40 minutes if using split peas).

Stir in the sliced beetroot stalks and leaves for the final five minutes of cooking. Serve the dhal scattered with the fresh coriander leaves and dollops of yogurt.

See our other recipes

Great & good

Round & About

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This festive season, look no further than Windsor Great Park as the setting for your family time together.

Free seasonal walks at Windsor Great Park

Keep active this season. Wrap up and embark on a family expedition in Windsor Great Park. From 01 December, follow one of our free seasonal walks* from The Savill Building. Take up the challenge to find a new favourite walk and discover more of the Great Park.

Vintage carousel and carriage rides at The Savill Garden

Big and little ones alike can take a spin on our popular vintage carousel or travel on horse and carriage through the winter woodland. The carousel will be at The Savill Garden from 14 -23 December and 26 December – 01 January inclusive. To book a carriage ride, email [email protected].

The Savill Garden Kitchen and Christmas shopping at The Savill Garden

Enjoy a warming dish from the Savill Garden Kitchen and shop from artisan suppliers from around the UK.  Remember to come along to one of our shopping evenings in The Savill Building, every Thursday in December until 7pm.

*Car park charges apply.

The Winter Garden in The Savill Garden**

Marvel at the variety of beautiful and fragrant plants that thrive in the winter months in The Savill Garden. Discover the flaming dogwoods and willows in the Winter Garden and the golden grasses from New Zealand. The Queen Elizabeth II Temperate House is the perfect place to enjoy plants from across the world, alongside our National Collection of Mahonia.

**Garden entry fees apply.

Christmas trees at Windsor Great Park

28 November – 22 December

Buy your freshly cut Christmas tree from Windsor Great Park, at Forest Gate SL4 2BY . With the helpful advice from the on-hand foresters, choose from trees ranging in height from 3 feet to 25 feet. Wreaths, fresh boughs of holly and mistletoe as well as a wide selection of decorations are also available.

More info

A golden example of dining

Liz Nicholls

All Areas

Liz Nicholls reviews the newly opened Ivy Oxford Brasserie.

In these strange, straitened times, luxury feels like it’s in short supply. In fact, “luxury” has become so rare a concept that it feels a retro, almost naughty. Luckily, the energetic team behind The Ivy Oxford Brasserie haven’t received this particular memo.

From the moment we were ushered inside, off the bleak wintry high street into the velvet-coccoon of the cloakroom we were (to quote Beyoncé) living lavish.

The Ivy Oxford Brasserie’s arrival in this often austere city of broken dreams has caused a big fat buzz for good reason. Because we’re all hungry for some luxury, and a place to celebrate rather than commiserate.

As with its celebrity honeypot mother branch in London, and the successful brasserie outposts in Winchester and Marlow, the Ivy brand is all about the best of the best. That’s most thrilling, on first entry, with the service. The staff offer the level of old-fashioned courtesy and enthusiasm that makes you feel like you’re winning at life. I go weak at the knees for a good banquette (especially a curvy orange one) and the effervescent Karim’s recommendation – truffle arancini – were balls of richly flavoured sexy joy; the perfect accompaniment for Magdalen Manhattan.

You can’t visit this Ivy branch without being wowed by its interior. Instagram has helped to gild the Ivy Oxford’s golden age because it really is a maximalist wonderland that feels designed to be snapped. For Pinterest fans like myself, the general vibe could be defined as “1920s Flapper Luxe”, with huge botanical motifs (toucans, butterflies, rainbow trout) and shiny surfaces at every turn. The old bank’s stately dimensions make it the perfect stomping ground for anyone in need of a bit of glam – even strutting up the copper-hued illuminated staircase to the ladies makes you feel special. The toilets themselves (which you might have seen on Insta) are worth special mention: rose quartz sinks, brass taps, gothic-gold floral wallpaper and jewel-hued pouffes… No wonder, then, that the smallest rooms have apparently been papped even more than the chocolate bombe (which comes a close second). And the enamel-ceilinged private hire party room is a golden example of how to create a setting where you can and should celebrate in debauched yet elegant style, a la the Ivy alma mater.

Hype can really detract from a good meal, and I had thought this Ivy outpost might be more style over substance but happily I was proved wrong. Tempura prawns and salt & pepper squid, in their conical silver salver, were crisp and gorgeous dunked in their wasabi and miso dressing and – a greedy choice – the lobster risotto was a divine creation of sweet meaty flesh doused in a seafoamy bisque dressing with a perfect partner of tender samphire.

Another greedy winter choice (and Karim’s recommendation), chicken Milanese was peak pleasure, coated in brioche crumb but kept savoury by a shiny tureen of truffle cream sauce that I kept trying to steal and topped with a rudely perfect fried egg. Then, as if to prove more definitely is more, the blackened cod fillet. This has almost become a cliché dish, which footballers plump for at Nobu and other top-tier celeb haunts, but technically the Ivy version is very hard to fault: pearly succulent fish, baked in a banana leaf beautifully fragrant with sesame and helped to sing with its citrus-pickled fennel (genius) broccoli and yuzu mayonnaise. Top marks too for a sublime sweet potato side and creamed spinach with pine nuts. All of it looked beautiful but tasted even better.

That much-Instagrammed chocolate bombe is also worth its 15 minutes: a grenade of golden flavour whose honeycomb centre oozed out to mingle with the vanilla ice cream once the hot sauce was poured on top to make a big sticky mess.

With all this glitz & glam, you’d expect the Ivy to be expensive but it’s reasonable: a la carte starters hover about the £10 mark, mains around £20 and there’s a three-course set menu for £21 which is stunning value, all things considered.

Hats off to the Ivy team. They’ve managed to live up to the not-inconsiderable hype. From my grandmother – who toasted her 94th birthday here earlier this month – to youngsters in athleisure chinking drinks at the bar, being made to feel like royalty is surely the best measure of success.

See their menu and book here

Above & beyond

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Please join us in supporting the Children’s Air Ambulance whose life-saving helicopters are going green. Anna Phillips tells us more.

Oxford-based Children’s Air Ambulance is the only life-saving service of its kind in the UK. The charity has chosen to locate one of its two brand new, specially equipped, bright green Agusta Westland 169 helicopters here in the heart of Oxfordshire, at Kidlington airport, with the other in Doncaster.

This charity is solely dedicated to providing a specialist emergency medical transfer service which is currently changing the face of paediatric care across the country through the high-speed transfers of critically ill neonates, babies and children. The bespoke helicopters are specially adapted with intensive care equipment and on board BabyPod incubators transferring critically ill babies and children from local general hospitals to specialist paediatric hospitals across the country when they need extra specialist life-saving treatment further from home. When a child is too sick to fly, the Children’s Air Ambulance fly a specialist team of clinicians to them and with flight times commonly over four times faster than transfer by road, time saved is a life saved.

The Children’s Air Ambulance receives no NHS or government funding with its life-saving work being totally reliant upon donations and fundraising activities and events from its diverse range of supporters and private individuals. These currently include support from small companies to large corporates, Charity of the Year nominations, community organisations, sports clubs, nurseries, schools, universities, pubs, hotels, breweries as well as a broad and diverse range of interest groups, clubs and associations.  There are also 21 Children’s Air Ambulance charity shops located across the country including three in Oxfordshire – in Abingdon, Headington and Banbury.

The charity has also launched its very own Green Agenda, working to ensure all of its operations are as sustainable as possible with minimal impact to the environment. Achievements to date include its Re Use programme, successfully diverting over 600 tonnes from landfill, the launch of closed-loop plastic recycling and recently receiving recognition for its Data Wiping and Asset Recovery service at the 2019 Charity Retail Awards winning Best Use of Innovation and Technology.

Some of the ways you can help

  1. Donate :  Either online or by donating unwanted clothes and goods to its shops
  2. Charity of The Year: Nominate The Children’s Air Ambulance as your Charity of the Year
  3. Volunteer: Help to raise both funds and awareness of the charity in your community
  4. Events: Organising and taking part in fundraising events, challenges and activities
  5. Shop: Shop and donate through The Children’s Air Ambulance charity shops

The Children’s Air Ambulance would love to hear from you, your company, organisation or local community group if you would like to know more about its work and some of the patient stories of lives it has saved.

Children's Air Ambulance

For more information or to arrange a talk or visit from a member of the Oxfordshire team please call   0300 3045 999, email [email protected] airambulanceservice.org.uk or visit