Let’s go outside!

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However big –or bijou –it is, there are lots of ways make your outdoor space gorgeous…

Here we are, summer is here and we’ll cheers to that! If we can take our weather forecasters’ word for it, there’s lots more heatwave left so
it’s not too late to create your own mini paradise!

Heritage Landscape Construction has been transforming Thames Valley garden landscapes for more than 30 years. The friendly experts can find you the best affordable solutions. Contact Roger on 07721 844647. Founded in 2015 by Will Macdonald, who has 12 years’ gardening and groundwork experience, WCL Estates is an Oxfordshire-based fully insured landscaping company has a stunning portfolio of highly desirable projects; call 01235 603032.

The Coulton Tree Services team, based near Wallingford, are passionate about trees. These approved contractors, they also work with local authorities to help keep trees healthy and well-maintained. Find out about stump grinding, hedge pruning and more at www.coultontrees.co.uk

It’s vital to enlist the help of the experts for those practical and sometimes dangerous jobs. The friendly, independent Stratus Guttering team supply, install, repair and refurbish all types of metal guttering including seamless and sectional aluminium, cast iron, galvanised & stainless steel, copper and zinc. Visit www.oxfordshireseamless.co.uk or contact Euan on 07789 864696.

Love a garden gadget? Farol, a family business that’s been running since 1976. The firm has various local depots where you can check out the mowers and garden machinery; visit www.farolmowers.co.uk. And, offering a premier range of Bobcat mini excavators, skidsteers, tracked loaders and telescopic handlers for hire to get jobs done, check out TVE Hire and Sales near Wantage & Abingdon; www.tvehireandsales.co.uk

The Bourne Buildings show site near Farnham is the UK’s biggest and most affordable source for stunning outside buildings of all kinds, garden accessories & furniture. You’re sure to find something lovely (but please note they’re closed Tues & Wed) – www.bournebuildings.co.uk

It’s vital to enlist the help of the experts to get down to the nitty gritty when it comes to those practical, mucky and sometimes dangerous jobs. The friendly and genuine local specialists at Moss Master can remove moss from your roof manually, clean your fascias and soffits, vacuum-clean your gutters and power-clean your patio or driveway. Call 01420 479746 or visit www.mossmastersurrey.co.uk for a free quote.

Barbecue season is now firmly upon us (see our recipes for inspiration), but it’s not too late to create the perfect al fresco space, in as little as two hours! The Patio Black Spot Removal Co Ltd’s patented products rid your patio, terrace and garden stonework of pesky “black spots”, restoring their natural colour and impact to restore the condition as when it was first laid. Call 0800 500 3032 or visit www.patioblackspotremoval.com

Independent Sutton Green Garden Centre in Woking is sure to inspire you with its gorgeous plants as well as a stunning selection of garden furniture, barbecues and accessories such as chimeneas as well as much more. Call 01483 237 832 or visit www.gardencentrewoking.co.uk

1. Check out this Cube Fx stainless steel outdoor room by Garden House Design. 2. Don’t forget insect accommodation to help wildlife thrive outdoors. We love this hexagonal wild bee house by Garden Trading Company. 3. Check out the range at www.lights4fun.co.uk – the right lighting can create a twinkly wonderland in your garden – 4. Redwood Stone is the renowned as a creator of delightful Gothic follies and ruins, displaying each year at the famous Chelsea Flower Show and Hampton Court Flower Show; www.redwoodstone.co.uk. 5.&6. Weatherproof garden furniture, Bridgman. 7. Jambi hand-woven garden lounger; Habitat.

Enjoy your Summer!

Filming locations: Starring role

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Sometimes the locations are as big as the stars in many of our favourite TV shows and films, how many do you recognise? Karen Neville goes undercover

How many times have you seen something on television and thought “that looks like that road in…”? Well, the chances are that it is indeed.

CHOOSE YOUR AREA:

Talking Point: Will Young

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Liz Nicholls asks local singer-songwriter Will Young, 40, about life, happiness, his new album Lexicon and upcoming tour

Q. You’re looking well! You said this new album has been stress-free –
is that why? “I think so, yes. Looking after your wellbeing is so important. I now work a four-day week and I’m working with a team I adore. Our rule is that if it doesn’t make us happy, we don’t do it! Also the music inspires me.
I think this [Lexicon] is my best album to date.”

Q. How do you like to listen to music? “In my car! I love driving down to Berkshire listening to BBC 6 Music… But I actually still own CDs!”

Q. What’s your first memory of music? “Listening to Michael Jackson’s Thriller album on a sunny day and looking at the artwork on the LP.”

Q. Which tour dates are you looking forward to and which days out will you enjoy close to these? “I always love the New Theatre in Oxford. Kew Gardens in London is so beautiful and fun. Gigs in Gloucestershire are always fun as it’s near my sister and is such stunning countryside.”

Q. Do you like to travel & where’s next? “I love travelling. I have been to Marrakesh twice in the last few months. My next place is Brazil or India.”

Q. Do you consider yourself healthy? “I am healthy-ish. I try to eat greens a lot and drink a lot of water. I think moderation is important but my downfall is chocolate!”

Q. What advice would you give to any budding musicians? “It’s about finding your own unique voice and style. All of us are unique and we need to give ourselves the time to explore this.”

Q. What other projects are on your horizon? “I’m writing a book called How To Be A Gay Man which I’m very excited about. I’m touring the UK in October and also playing Pub in the Park gigs.”

Q. It’s lovely to hear you joyful. How do you feel now, looking back at your low period in terms of your mental health? “I feel very proud of how hard I’ve worked over the last seven years. It’s been a huge task and I’m fortunate to have the strength of will but also the time and money. I’m aware I’m very privileged and that’s spurred me to give talks on mental health to businesses around the UK to help set up a system that can aid their employees. Depression and anxiety are partners in that they create a cloud that descends over mind and body. It creates difficulties for one’s ability to function. I always say it’s like swimming in syrup.”

Q. Do you have a favourite book, artist, film and piece of music? “Enid Blyton’s Shadow The Sheepdog, Magritte – a Belgian artist, Remains Of The Day and Barber’s Adagio For Strings.”

Q. Who would be your dream party guests, living or dead, real or fictional? “Richard and Judy, Richard & Judy and… Richard and Judy!”

Q. What would you wish for if you had a magic wand to change the world? “Peace and love.”

• Lexicon is out now. He will perform at this summer’s Pub In The Park shows and has also just announced an extensive UK tour for October 2019, tickets via www.willyoung.co.uk

  Read more of our Star Q&A’s

July’s recipes: Thrills & grills

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We’ve teamed up with the team behind ZIGZAG to bring you the perfect recipes to rustle up on the grill this summer!

Lamb

(Prep: 15 mins – Cooking: 12-15 mins – Serves: 4)

Ingredients:

for the lamb:
• French trim lamb chops – allow three per person
• Garlic
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Fresh thyme leaves
• Rosemary
• Balsamic glaze

Method:

• Marinade lamb in oil garlic and thyme for 2 hours prior to cooking
• Heat up pan in the oven,
• Roast lamb chops for 3-4 minutes on both sides,
• Serve with fresh rosemary leaves.
• Drizzle with balsamic reduction for extra sweetness

Roast asparagus

(Prep: 15 mins – Cooking: 12-15 mins – Serves: 4)

Ingredients:

And for roast asparagus:
• Bunch of fresh British Asparagus
• Olive oil
• Lemon wedge
• Rock salt
• Black pepper
• Parmigianino Reggiano

Method:

• Drizzle olive oil over the asparagus
• Place into the oven on a baking tray or metal handled pan.
• Remove from oven when soft and golden brown,
• Serve hot with slice of lemon, rock salt, pepper and a few  shavings of parmesan.

Aubergine

(Prep: 15 mins – Cooking: 12-15 mins – Serves: 4)

Ingredients:

for the aubergine:
• Two large aubergines, cut into disks around 1cm
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Tahini
• One pomegranate, cut in half and with seeds removed
• Fresh oregano

Method:

• Lay out cut aubergines face down in a pan or baking tray
• Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper• Roast until golden brown
• To serve overlap aubergine, drizzle with tahini and sprinkle with fresh pomegranate seeds.
• Garnish with oregano

Fish

(Prep: 15 mins – Cooking: 12-15 mins – Serves: 4)

Ingredients:

And for roast fish:
• Whole seabass – around 35cm long scaled and gutted
• Potatoes, sliced 1cm think and par-boiled to soften
• Lemon
• Sunblush tomatoes,
• Fresh dill & parsley
• 2oz of fish stock

Method:

• Lay out cut aubergines face down in a pan or baking tray
• Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
• Roast until golden brown
• To serve overlap aubergine, drizzle with tahini and sprinkle with fresh pomegranate seeds.
• Garnish with oregano

Make Music Day

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Hit the right notes with Make Music Day

June 21st is the longest day, so what better way to mark the extended hours of daylight than as part of a worldwide celebration of music. 

Make Music Day was launched in France in 1982, it is now held on the same day each year in more than 1,000 cities and towns in 120 countries. 

Make Music Day is unlike any other music festival – it is open to young and old, amateur and professional, to play music of any genre. People gather in public places, on streets, in parks and porches to share their music and it’s all free and fun. 

There are several themes for this year including electronic music, music in libraries, performing in rural locations and sharing it online and performing the Make Music Day anthem, Morecambe & Wise’s Bring Me Sunshine where musicians are encouraged to perform weird and wonderful versions in unusual places. 

Abingdon is hosting a variety of events to celebrate Make Music Day starting with a drumming workshop at Abingdon Library at 2pm. From 3.30pm, there are music workshops in the Guildhall Rooms including song-writing, ukulele, fiddle playing, singing and body music.  

A range of local musicians will take to an outdoor stage in the Market Place from 5-9pm and in the evening the music will spread to the local pubs and venues with a blues jam, a band night for teen artists, acoustic acts and more – and all for free! 

Join accordionist Pete Watson at Oxfordshire County Library, Queen Street, Oxford, for a live performance in your lunch time from 12.30pm-1pm. 

All that is needed to make music happen is you

So if you want to take part, either as a performer, an event or a venue – click below for more information about the day and how you can get involved. 

Join March for Men

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Take part in prostate cancer’s walks and help raise funds for life-saving research

Sunday, 16th June is Father’s Day so how about doing something really special to help not just your dad, but all men.

Throughout June, Prostate Cancer UK is inviting families and friends to get together and walk and help fund life-saving research to stop prostate cancer, a disease which kills one man every 45 minutes.

Since 2017, more than 10,000 people have joined a March for Men and helped raise  in excess of £3.3million to improve testing, treatments and care for men. There are 10 national walks including those taking place in London and Bristol for you to get involved in or why not organise one yourself where you live?

It doesn’t need to be any great distance, you can choose to walk around your local park or open space or get the community involved – decide on the length and pick a place that’s important to you. If there’s one incentive to get many men marching it’s the prospect of a pint at the end of the walk so how about a pub-to-pub march? Plan a route between two pubs and finish with a well-deserved pint.

Many will know of Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling’s efforts to raise funds for prostate cancer, he has walked 25 marathons which have raised nearly £800,000 and from September 5th to 8th he’s taking on four marathons in four days walking from club to club  in Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff and London. You can join Jeff or set up one of your own club-to-club walks, it doesn’t need to just be football league clubs and it doesn’t need to be 26 miles either.

For loads of fundraising ideas or to join Jeff go to Prostate Cancer UK

June’s recipe: Fiery & fresh

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Star chef Kay Plunkett-Hogge shares two recipes from her new book Baan: Recipes & Stories From My Thai Home

Gaeng keow wan gai

A classic green chicken curry

(Prep: 15 mins – Cooking: 12-15 mins – Serves: 4)

Ingredients:

for the paste
• ½tsp coriander seeds
• ½tsp cumin seeds
• 1 tsp white peppercorns
• A good pinch of salt
• 1 tbsp finely chopped & 1 tbsp finely chopped lemongrass
• Two Thai shallots or one regular, peeled and finely chopped
• 12 green Thai bird’s eye chillies, de-stemmed and chopped
• Two long green chillies,
destemmed and finely chopped
• 4 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) root, with some stem attached
• One garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
• 2cm / ¾-inch piece of fresh turmeric, finely chopped
• zest of one kaffir lime
• 1 tsp kapi (shrimp paste)

And for the curry
• 2 tbsp vegetable oil
• One 400ml / 14fl oz can of coconut milk
• 350g / 12oz chicken thighs, cut into 2cm / ¾inch dice
• 1–2 tbsp nam pla (fish sauce)
• a pinch of caster (superfine) sugar (optional)
• 65g/2¼ oz pea aubergines (eggplants)
• Two Thai round aubergines (eggplants), cut into quarters
• 100 g/3½ oz bamboo shoots, chopped
• Two long red chillies, diagonally sliced into three pieces
• Large handful Thai sweet basil
• One long orange chilli (optional)

Method:

Pound all the paste ingredients in a pestle and mortar (hardest first, as listed, working down to the softest), until you have a uniform, close-textured paste. If it’s not completely smooth, don’t worry. If you prefer to use a food processor or a blender, again work from hardest to softest, and add about 1 tablespoon water or more to bring the paste together. Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan and fry the paste until it smells fragrant (about a minute). Add half the coconut milk, bring to the boil slowly, stirring to dissolve the paste. Let the coconut milk simmer a little until you see oil appear on the surface. Then add 200 ml/7 fl oz/a cup of water and bring to the boil.

Add the chicken and bring back to the boil, then add the rest of the coconut milk. Bring back to the boil and simmer for about six minutes. Add the nam pla and the sugar, if using. Taste and adjust the seasoning. If it seems a little thick, add a little more water – you want a soupiness, not a thick gravy. Add the aubergines, the bamboo shoots and one of the long red chillies. Simmer for another three minutes or so. Taste – you want this to taste vibrant, hot, salty and herbaceous. Add the basil, the remaining red chilli and the whole orange chilli if you have one, and serve with some jasmine rice and nam pla prik (fish sauce with chillies).

Khao pad goong

Fried rice with prawns

Method:

Heat the wok or frying pan (skillet) until it’s very hot. Add the oil, then the garlic and stir-fry until golden. Add the prawns and the chillies, and carry on stirring, adding the nam pla, soy sauce and sugar, until the prawns are cooked. Add the cooked rice and stir through well, breaking up any clumps. Add the onion and the spring onion and incorporate well.

Season with white pepper, then turn on to plates and serve sprinkled with coriander and with the cucumber slices and lime wedges on the side.

Fried rice is one of the great comfort dishes – it’s filling, soothing and satisfying. I’ve used prawns in this version, but you can use slivered beef, pork, chicken, tofu, whatever. Feel free to pull back the chilli, too, if you like. You can always add extra heat later with some nam pla prik (fish sauce with chillies).

Three words of cooking caution: firstly, when you add the rice, you may be tempted to add more oil… Don’t do it! It will make the dish claggy. Keep breaking up the rice as you stir it through the wok, and work through it. Secondly, if you want to make this for more than two, by all means do. But don’t double up all the ingredients and throw it all into one wok. Make the dish once, wipe out your wok, and go again with the second batch. Thirdly, make sure the cooked rice is at room temperature when you make this. If it’s too warm and steamy, it will clump and stick. If it’s too cold, it will turn out as hard as a rock.

Days out: Sunny delights!

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The summer holidays are looming and no matter how much you try to organise and arrange for your little (and not-so little) ones to do, it’ll never be enough. Karen Neville serves up a few ideas…

Let’s hope for good weather to get outdoors and have some fun…

CHOOSE YOUR AREA:

Cupcake Day

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Bake it or fake it for Alzheimer’s Society Cupcake Day  

Who doesn’t love a cupcake and even better if you can tuck in while helping a brilliant cause.

Bring everyone together on Thursday to help fight dementia for the Alzheimer’s Society Cupcake Day. Whether you’re a baker or not, faking it’s OK with some shop bought ones, every cupcake helps fund pioneering research, support services and care.

If you want to make and decorate your own you’ve got two days to get in the kitchen and get creating but don’t worry if you can’t get it done for then – just choose a day that suits you instead.

In the average time taken to bake a batch of cakes, six people in the UK will develop dementia, since 2016, Cupcake Day has raised £2.7million so get baking and help raise funds as your cupcakes rise.

Take them to work, school or just invite a few friends and family round, tuck in and get helping.

If you need some tips for your Cupcake Day and some great recipe ideas right here

Click here for more about Alzheimer’s Society and the work they do

Read more about what is being done in the battle against dementia in our feature on motor racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart whose wife Helen has been diagnosed with the disease. He has launched a fundraising drive, Race Against Dementia, to boost funds for research.  You can also find out about Singing for the Brain and the benefits of music when it comes to unlocking memories.

Happy baking!

Get into gear with Bike Week

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Today marks the start of Bike Week a great opportunity to celebrate the social, health and environmental benefits of cycling. 

The aim is to get many thousands of people across the UK to give cycling a try, encouraging people to get out on their bikes between Saturday, 8th June and Sunday, 16th June. 

Any outing on a bike counts – whether that’s nipping round to a friend’s house, cycling to work or school, enjoying a leisurely ride with the family or tackling a cycling challenge. 

Bike Week shines a light on everyday cycling for everyone. This year, Bike Week is set to add another 240,000 people to the 2.4 million who already cycle three times or more a week. 

Across the UK, hundreds of events will be taking place to help you enjoy cycling. 

Bike Week events are suitable for people of all ages and experience. There will be lots of different opportunities, such as family-friendly rides, bike maintenance, bike breakfasts and group rides, among others. 

There are so many health benefits associated with cycling as well as the obvious aid to weight loss, it can help reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, boost immunity, aids mental health, helps to reduce air pollution and can also help you save money. 

There are many events you can get involved in all around the country although you can of course just get out on your bike under your own steam. 

Closer to home at the end of the month Wokingham Bikeathon takes place on Sunday, 30th June with both a 15-mile route and a 35-mile route to take part in. 

Cyclists of all ages and abilities are welcome to saddle up, with many cycling as families and the 15-mile route is perfect for families to tackle together. 

Registration is open now for those wishing to do so online but you can just turn up at Cantley Park on the day. 

For all the important information you need to take part and to register in advance, visit Wokingham Bikeathon

However you cycle it’s important to make sure you do it safely and the Cycle-Smart Foundation based in Reading has some great tips and advice on doing just that and the importance of wearing of a helmet.

  Find out more about them at Cycle Smart Foundation