Dementia Action Week

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Don’t be afraid to talk in Dementia Action Week

Research by the Alzheimer’s Society shows that many people are worried about saying the ‘wrong thing’ to someone with dementia or including them in a conversation.

In this, Dementia Action Week, (20th to 26th May) the society is running its #AskUsAnything campaign to break down the awkwardness and anxiety many people feel.

Someone in the UK develops dementia every three minutes and research shows that despite many of us knowing someone affected by the condition, two-thirds of those living with the condition say they feel isolated and lonely.

In Dementia Action Week, Alzheimer’s Society is encouraging people to start a conversation with someone living with dementia they know, whether that be to speak to a relative or visit a neighbour.

Alzheimer’s Society has produced a booklet with advice on how to start a conversation with someone living with dementia, explaining what they may experience and how you can help make talking to them easier.

Tips include:

Give the person with dementia your full attention and try to speak to them face-to-face, be patient and give them time to answer

Keep to questions with a yes or no answer or give a short list of options with your question

Speak clearly in a friendly and chatty way and make sure you are relaxed

Try to laugh about any mistakes or misunderstandings

Try to talk to the person about something they have an interest in or that makes them laugh

There are many ways you can help and starting a conversation is just the beginning.

You may choose to become a dementia friend and join 2.5million others who are helping in just that way by supporting people in your community with dementia; there are lots of opportunities to volunteer for Alzheimer’s Society; help with fundraising such as holding your own cupcake day on 13th June or sign up to one of the campaigns.

There are events taking place all over the country during Dementia Action Week.

 To find out about these and how you can get involved visit Alzheimer’s Society

Gardening: Abundance of colour

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Spring is coming to its glorious end, and summer is nearly upon us.

Long sunny days (fingers crossed) and an abundance of colour and produce are just around the corner. Now is the perfect time to:

– Deadhead spring bulbs but resist the temptation to cut back the foliage. The bulbs need the nutrients from the leaves to put on a good show next year

– Divide hostas as they come back into growth

– Tie in sweetpeas, and climbing and rambling roses

– Prune spring flowering shrubs such as Hibiscus and Laurel

– Top dress permanent containers with fresh compost

– Apply weedkiller to lawns and feed with a high nitrogen fertiliser to promote healthy growth

– Lower the blades on your mower to their regular summer-cut height

– Delay mowing newly-sown lawns until they are 3” high, (and raise the mower blades)

– Keep on top of weeds to stop them taking valuable moisture and nutrients from the soil

– Put up netting to protect soft fruit from the birds

– Protect strawberries with straw – placing it around the plants prevents weed growth and protects the berries from wet soil

– Plant up hanging baskets and patio containers with summer bedding such as pelargoniums, fuschias, petunias etc, but keep an eye on the weather forecast and bring them in or protect with fleece if frost is forecast

– Continue successional sowings of annual herbs, beetroots, carrots and radishes

– Direct sow or plant out French beans, courgettes and pumpkins when you’re sure we’ve seen the last of the frosts

Plants looking fabulous now include:

o Allium ‘Purple Sensation’
o Aquilegias
o Ceanothus (Californian lilac)
o Choisya ternata (Mexican orange blossom)
o Early peonies
o Iris sibirica
o Syringa vulgaris (lilac)

Why not visit some gardens for inspiration?

My top picks for May are:

Rookwood Farm House, Stockcross, Newbury (National Garden Scheme, 5th May)

Sandleford Place, Newbury (National Garden Scheme, 12th May)

The Old Mill, Ramsbury, Wiltshire (National Garden Scheme, 19th May)

West Green House, Hartley Wintney, Hants (Wed-Sun, plus Bank Hols)

Chenies Manor House, Bucks (Wed-Thur, plus Tulip Festival on 6th May)

  Call Hannah Fraser, Bloom Gardens on 07768 041929 or visit Bloom Gardens website

Foster Care Fortnight

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Foster carers are part of what’s called “the team around the child”. As we approach Foster Care Fortnight, between 13th and 26th May, we encourage you to consider it.


May’s recipe: Egg custard tart

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Egg custard tart with roasted rhubarb

Artisan baker Paul Barlow-Heal, dessert devotee and founder of Cotswold Baking, shares special recipe for gluten free sweet pastry, roasted rhubarb and egg custard, making this gorgeous egg custard tart!

(Prep: 30 mins [see pastry] – Cooking: 55 mins – Makes: one large tart)

Gluten Free sweet pastry (always make 24hrs before needed)


• 500 grms gluten free plain flour ( I use doves)
• 225 grms diced unsalted butter
• 110 grms caster sugar
• 1.5 tsp xantham gum
• 2 large eggs
• 75 mls milk
• ¼ tsp Vanilla extract
• Good pinch sea salt
• 1 egg for sealing


1. Place flour, xantham gum, caster sugar and diced butter into a machine mixing bowl and blend until mix resembles fine breadcrumbs and butter is incorporated.

2. Whisk eggs and milk together with salt and vanilla. Pour onto the flour and butter and mix on slow speed until the dough comes together. The mix will seem wet, this is normal.

3. Transfer the dough to a container, cover with clingfilm and store overnight in the fridge

4. Remove the dough from the fridge and on a lightly floured surface gently knead the dough to make it pliable. Don’t worry about over working it. There is no gluten in it so this will not happen.  The enemy of gluten free pastry is warmth, because it is soft it will become very difficult to work with quite quickly.

5. Roll out the dough using gluten flour or rice flour as a dusting, and roll to about 3ml thick, then line your 10” loose bottom tart case making sure the pastry is tucked nicely into the edges of your tart case, and trim away the overlapping pastry, but don’t throw this away. You can reuse as it will not get tough.

6. Prick the bottom of the pastry case with a fork then place in the fridge for 20 mins to firm up.

7. Line the pastry case with a circle of baking parchment and baking beans ( I use uncooked rice) and bake in a pre-heated oven at 160 C for about 20 mins then remove the parchment and bake for a further 10 mins.

8. Gluten free pastry does not take on a golden colour like normal pastry, it does stay quite pale. Remove from the oven, leave to cool slightly then brush the inside of the case with some of the 1 remaining beaten egg ensuring it is nicely sealed then bake for a further 2/3 mins to cook the egg glaze. Leave to cool

roasted rhubarb


• 500 grms rhubarb
• 80 grms light soft brown sugar
• Zest of 1 lemon


1. Wash and trim the ends of the rhubarb, then cut into 2” lengths. Place the rhubarb in a bowl and add the zest and the sugar. Toss the ingredients together.

2. Place the rhubarb onto a shallow baking tray lined with two layers of baking parchment then cover with another piece of parchment and place in a preheated oven at 180c and cook for 15 mins.

3. Remove the parchment and check the rhubarb, it should be tender, but not mushy. If it needs more cooking, place back in the oven for a further 5 mins. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

egg custard


• 10 Egg Yolks
• 3 whole eggs
• 425 mls double cream
• 425 mls milk
• 160 grms caster sugar
• 1 vanilla pod
• Nutmeg for grating


1. Place the cream and milk with half the sugar and split vanilla pod into a saucepan and bring slowly to a boil.

2. Whisk the egg yolks and whole eggs together with the remaining sugar. When the cream mix has come to the boil pour a third onto the egg mix whilst whisking in, then finally add the rest of the liquid stirring until all incorporated.

3. Pass the mix through a fine sieve.

4. Place the tart case into a preheated oven at 140c for a couple of minutes then leaving the tart case in the oven slowly pour your egg mix into the case, taking care not to over fill the case or spill any.

5. Once the tartf case is completely full ,grate some fresh nutmeg on top and bake for about 30/40 mins, (this can vary depending on your oven.

6. If the mix starts to bubble around the edges turn down your oven until there is a slight wobble in the centre of the tart. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack.

7. When completely cool place the tart in the fridge and chill to set.

To serve, cut a nice slice of the tart and serve with some roasted rhubarb and its cooking liquor and a spoonful of full fat crème fraiche.


Leo Sayer Q&A

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Leo Sayer talks to Peter Anderson about life and his show at Guildford’s G Live on Thursday, 30th May.

Q. When did you discover your talent for singing? “At a very early age as a boy chorister. I was taught by Father Demot MacHale, an Irish Catholic priest who, years later was also the celebrant at my wedding.”

Q. Who were your musical inspirations?  
“Bob Dylan, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Van Morrison and lots of early Delta blues singers.”

Q. Do you remember the first concert you went to? “I think it was Chris Barber’s Jazz Band. I was really young, but my older sister smuggled me into the back of the hall. The highlight was that Lonnie Donnegan was in the band – he was the father of skiffle and sang wonderful old Leadbelly songs, like Midnight Special, during the concert.”

Q. Congratulations on your new album Selfie. What is your process when it comes to writing songs? “It comes from many different methods but mostly I get the ideas in my head and take it from there. Creating the tracks is a slow, gradual process, and since I am doing it all myself now, it requires loads of imagination and plenty of ingenuity. For me the creative process is linked to both the writing and recording.”

Q. What can audiences look forward to in these concerts? Well-known favourites as well as songs from the new album? Who is accompanying you? “We will play a couple of new songs from the album, but mostly it’s the hits and the most popular tracks from the albums. That’s what the audience have come to see. I’ve had the same band for a little while now. Elliot Henshaw plays drums, Dave Day is the guitarist, Stephen Williams is on keyboards, and Richard Hammond plays bass.”

Q. Do you have vocal training to keep your voice in trim on tour? “No, and I never warm up either – I just save it all for the stage.”

Q. Is Guildford a place that brings back good memories? “I played the final gig of the old Civic before they closed it. That was fun because it was an all-star band with Eric Clapton on guitar.”

Q. Is there a location or venue that is still on your wish list to perform at? “Wembley Stadium or Glastonbury would be nice!”

Q. Many people fondly remember your duet with Miss Piggy. Is there anyone else living, dead or fictional with whom you’d love to have a duet with? “Aretha Franklin. I met her once, but we never sang together… She did tell me that she liked my voice, though.”

Q. You have always been good at drawing; do you use art as a way to relax? “It’s more for work – designing record covers and stuff like that. I do find making music is more relaxing.”

Visit or call G Live on 01483 369350. Also check out 

Festivals: All together now!

Round & About


Whatever your age, taste or background there are a whole
host of festivals to get your musical juices flowing, writes Liz Nicholls

Festival season is upon us – which is great news for us here at Round & About Towers (we’re fans of a bash). Perhaps you are one of the supremely dedicated / lucky few to have bagged yourself a Glastonbury ticket..? Yes the Mother Of All Festivals is back at the end of June but if, like me, you’ll be enjoying it from the comfort of your sofa there are loads more to get fully immersed in…


Dream girl

Round & About


Liz Nicholls asks soul singer Gabrielle (AKA Louisa Gabrielle Bobb) about life and work ahead of her performance at Blenheim Palace on Thursday, 20th June.

Q. Hello! How do you feel about turning 50 this year? “I can’t wait! To reach 50 is exciting, a real celebration. I’m embracing getting older – some people sadly don’t even make it to 50 so I can only be thankful I’m still here, loving life.”

Q. Are you sick of being asked about your ptosis, which is why you cover your eye? “Not really. After 25 years I still get asked about it so I have to accept I always will. I don’t mind explaining why I cover my eye, it’s personal choice and how I feel comfortable. Each to their own I say!”

Q. Are you super-healthy and how do you relax? “I’m so not healthy, which isn’t good. I love Haribo and all things sweet. When I’m relaxing I love a good box set on Netflix or a sci-fi novel.”

Q. What’s the greatest lesson motherhood has taught you? “That you don’t stop being a taxi.”

Q. How do you feel about the critical acclaim Under My Skin has earned? “The way my new album’s been received has been phenomenal. When you write songs and haven’t released new music in a while you don’t know if you still can. I made an album I love and am proud of so people telling me they love it too is an amazing feeling. I can’t wait to perform songs old and new at Nocturne Live.”

Q. What advice would you give to any budding musicians? “Stay true to yourself, do what makes you happy and follow your instincts.”

Q. Are there any rising stars you think deserve to be huge? “I think Lady Leshur is amazing and I’m sure will be a huge star very soon.”

Q. What format do you most like to listen to music on? “I still buy CDs, mainly in the supermarket. I like physical copies, I never stream anything, I’m old-fashioned like that. My daughter has a record player and I actually loved listening to my new album on it as it came out on vinyl. It’s lovely to hold and play, I should get more really.”

Q. What’s your favourite live show so far? “It has to be performing for Nelson Mandela at the Brighton Centre in 2000. He told me afterwards he wanted to get up and dance. I’ll never forget that and will harp on about it forever!”

Q. What’s on your horizon? “I’d love to go to Nashville to write songs, I’ve done elements of country before in my music but to actually go there and be in the history of the place would be amazing, one of my ambitions for sure.”

Q. Who is your dream party guest? “George Michael, I loved him growing up as an artist and think he was amazing. He sent me flowers and champagne when Rise went to number 1 and I never got to say thank you. I’d like to hang out.”

Q. What would you wish for if you had the power? “I know it’s obvious but how can I not say peace?”

  Gabrielle will perform at Blenheim Palace’s Nocturne Live series, 20th – 23rd June, alongside Gladys Knight and Disco Classical plus Sister Sledge ft Kathy Sledge.

Floral feast

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The blooming marvellous Chelsea Flower Show is a true horticultural highlight

here’s nothing more British than Chelsea Flower Show, with cutting-edge garden design and plants from all over the world, the show offers a glamorous, unique and memorable experience.

Whether your green fingers can make anything flourish or you only have to look at a plant to see it off, this event from 21st to 25th May, has so many aspects to enjoy and marvel at.

Internationally renowned designers and world-class exhibits vying to win RHS Gold medals and the coveted Best Show Garden will greet you round every corner with a few surprises too.

One garden that is sure to attract a great deal of attention this year is the RHS Back to Nature garden designed by The Duchess of Cambridge with Andree Davies and Adam White.

With the emphasis firmly on the family and inspired by childhood memories, the woodland garden offers a place to play, learn and discover and as part of the RHS’s partnership with NHS England is promoting the physical and emotional benefits of gardening and being outdoors. After the show, much of the planting and landscaping will be given to an NHS mental health trust.

Visitors to this garden – and there are sure to be many – can marvel at the centrepiece tree house with its swing hanging form the branches; a waterfall and stream to paddle in and a hollow log to learn balancing and climbing.

The garden is designed to be relaxing and calming as well as boasting plants for craft activities, food for wildlife and nectar for pollination.

Among the highlights (although I’m not sure how you pick) are a garden inspired by a rock formation on an Australian beach for show sponsor M&G Investments and Welcome to Yorkshire which consists of a towpath running alongside a canal lock.

Artisan Gardens are making a welcome return with smaller spaces offering thought-provoking designs that tell a story. Here you can wander around gardens raising awareness for donkeys to mark the 50th anniversary of The Donkey Sanctuary; The High Maintenance Garden for Motor Neurone Disease Association which reflects the limitations of some with the disease and the forgotten quarry garden among others.

Don’t let limited space put you off creating a garden you can be proud of, the Space to Grow gardens are a feature of Chelsea for the second year with the Kampo no Niha garden. Kampo is a system a Japanese herbal medicine with plants featured for their health benefits while The Facebook Garden takes you “Beyond the Screen”.

The Duchess of Cambridge at the announcement of the garden design in January Credit: RHS / Suzanne Plunkett

Garden designer Chris Beardshaw, winner of Best Show Garden 2018 for the Morgan Stanley Garden for the NSPCC, Credit: RHS / Luke McGregor

The Chelsea Flower Show is also heralding the health and wellbeing benefits of green spaces and gardening for people and the environment.

Designers have explored the positive powers of plants and looked at factors which affect mental and physical health, such as Kate Gould’s garden supported by Greenfingers Charity which has created an uplifting space for children and the Savills and David Harber Garden which is all about how good it can feel getting away from the hustle and bustle using plants, trees and grasses to show a sustainable woodland clearing in a city garden.

The centrepiece of the show is the Great Pavilion which houses specialist growers from across the UK and those who have travelled from overseas to attend.

More than 80 exhibitors will be featured with a first for the Great Pavilion this year in the shape of a fully-interactive and walk-through garden, created by Tom Dixon and sponsored by IKEA, showcasing sustainable, affordable and forward-thinking solutions to growing food at home and in the community.

Many of the exhibitors are celebrating significant anniversaries this year at Chelsea including the multi-award winning David Austin Roses which marks its 50th anniversary at the show; the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies celebrating 60 years and the leading orchid cultivator McBean’s Nursery, with more than 70 Gold awards to its name, which is celebrating its 140th year.

After you’ve walked round and feasted on all that – and that’s only a small fraction of what’s on offer – you’ll be in need of some sustenance and there’s no shortage of options there either, not least the Jardin Blanc, an innovative dining experience from award-winning Oxfordshire chef Raymond Blanc.

To complete your quintessentially British experience visit The Drawing Room courtesy of The Dorchester and enjoy a floral-inspired tea with pastries and warm scones alongside a glass of Champagne or pop into Wedgewood’s tea conservatory and taste the exotic Wonderlust Collection.

Night owls can also hang back after the crowds have dispersed and enjoy Chelsea Late with botanical-inspired cocktails and cool jazz to round off what will have been a sublime experience.

  For more information about these gardens and many more and to book tickets, please visit

April flowers

Round & About


I absolutely love this time of year. The countryside is awash with daffodils, tulips are starting to flower and glorious summer days in the garden really are just around the corner.

Now is the perfect time to:

– Prune shrubs including buddlejas, hebes, mop head hydrangeas, hypericums and winter flowering honeysuckles. Always start by removing any branches which are dead, damaged, diseased or crossing other branches. Established shrubs can be hard pruned to control size

– Direct sow hardy annuals such as marigolds, nigella, poppies, ammi, cerinthe and nasturtiums for lots of summer colour. It’s also your last chance to sow sweet peas

– Beetroot, broad beans, brassicas, onions, parnsips, salad leaves and spinach can all be sown now. Sow little and often for harvesting throughout the year. If you can’t decide which cultivars to choose, opt for the ones with ‘AGM’ after the name.

– Plant second early potatoes by the middle of the month, and maincrops by the end

– Plant snowdrops ‘in the green’

– Protect plants from slugs and snails which are out in force now. There are several ways to control them: beer traps, mulching with grit, or simply by being vigilant and removing them. If you decide to use slug pellets go for the ones based onferrous phosphate rather than metaldehyde to protect wildlife. Apply sparingly

– Create a new lawn by seeding or turfing

– Green up existing lawns by scarifying, aerating, feeding and weeding

– Start mowing regularly

– Apply a general fertiliser such as Vitax Q4 to your borders to give both edible and ornamental plants a nutritional boost

– Protect fruit blossom from late frosts with horticultural fleece

Plants looking particularly good now include:

  • Brunnera macropylla (Siberian bugloss)
  • Chaenomeles × superba ‘Crimson and Gold’ (Japanese quince)
  • Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ (wallflower)
  • Euphorbia amygdaloides (wood spurge)
  • Hyacinthoides non-scripta (bluebell)
  • Lamprocapnos spectabilis (bleeding heart)
  • Ribes sanguineum (flowering currant)

Why not visit some gardens for inspiration?

My top picks for April are

Rooksnest, Lambourn Woodlands, (April 10th)

The Old Rectory, Farnborough (April 14th)

Rookwood Farm House, Stockcross (April 28th)

Chenies Manor, Rickmansworth

Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury

  Call Hannah Fraser, Bloom Gardens on 07768 041929 or visit Bloom Gardens website

Green party: April recipes

Round & About


Watercress & cheese scones

Ahead of Alresford Watercress Festival on Sunday, 19th May, The Watercress Company has teamed up with chef Keri Astill Frew. Watercress, which grows in the flowing spring waters of Hampshire and Dorset, is one of the healthiest plants known to man and has been revered since ancient times. It contains more than 50 vital vitamins and minerals and, gram for gram, even contains more calcium than milk, more folate than banana, more vitamin C than oranges and more vitamin E than broccoli. Watercress has been scientifically proven to help prevent cancer and other diseases.

(Prep: 10 mins – Cooking: 15-20 mins – Makes: 9)


100g watercress
• 225g self-raising flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp mustard powder (optional)
• A pinch of salt
• 50g butter, cubed
• 75g mature Cheddar cheese, grated
• 200ml buttermilk plus a little for brushing the tops
• A pinch or two of cayenne pepper


A tangy alternative to the traditional sweet scone, these are delicious with butter or perhaps topped with a cream cheese.

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas mark 7.

Reserve a few small sprigs of watercress (to decorate the tops) and finely chop the rest.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder and mustard into a large bowl. Add the salt and butter; rub into dry ingredients with your fingers. Stir in watercress and two thirds of the cheese, mix well.

3. Make a well in the centre, add buttermilk and mix with a round bladed knife into soft dough.

4. Very lightly knead on a floured surface, then use a floured rolling pin to roll dough to a thickness of 2.5cm. Use a 6cm plain round cutter to press out circles of the dough, rerolling lightly, as necessary. The mix should make nine scones.

5. Place the scones on an oiled large baking sheet. Brush each with a little buttermilk (or milk), top with a sprig of watercress, then scatter the remaining cheese on. Dust with a pinch of cayenne if liked, then bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 mins or until golden on top. Leave to cool for five mins before serving warm.

Chocolate, orange & watercress brownies

…with chocolate ganache topping

Chocolate, orange and watercress may not seem the most obvious combination but by golly, it works! The sharp pepper of the watercress contrasts deliciously with the citrus flavours and bitterness of the chocolate to make a truly mouth-watering treat.

(Prep: 40 mins, Cooking: 40 mins, Makes: 16 squares)


• 300g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
• 200g unsalted butter
• Zest of one orange
• 350g caster sugar
• Four large eggs
• 100g plain flour, sieved
• 50g cocoa powder, sieved
• 50g watercress, finely chopped

For the topping:

• 250g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
• 250ml double cream
• 1 tbsp Cointreau (optional)


1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C and line a square tin with greaseproof paper. Place 200g chocolate, all the butter and orange zest in a heatproof bowl and microwave, full power for 30 seconds at a time, stirring and repeating. Be careful the chocolate doesn’t get too hot and burn.

2. Use an electric whisk, or stand mixer with whisk attachment, to beat the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy. Leave the chocolate mix to cool for at least five minutes before stirring in, then mix in the flour and cocoa. Stir in the remaining chopped chocolate and watercress, then pour into the tin. Bake in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes, using a skewer or knife to test it’s cooked. Remove and cool completely.

3. Bring the cream to the boil in a saucepan, being careful it doesn’t boil over. Remove from heat, then stir in the chocolate, stirring until melted and mixed. Finally, stir in the Cointreau if using.

4. Allow the ganache to cool a bit, then pour on the brownies in the tin. Smooth using a palette knife or spatula, then leave for 30 minutes before cutting into squares.

5. The brownies can be kept for three-to-five days in an airtight tin or frozen (up to three months).

Visit for more recipes. For details about Alresford Watercress Festival visit