Peace offerings: Christmas recipes

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Here are some indulgent yet wholesome and uncomplicated recipe ideas to help keep us grounded throughout this mad month.

Almond biscotti

(makes 24)

These are great to make ahead and present in a glass jar or tin when you are serving coffee or after-dinner liqueurs. Dip these in Vin Santo to transport yourself to heaven. Give me these over mince pies any day!

Preheat your oven to 170°C. Add 220g of plain flour, 1½ tsp of baking powder, generous pinch of salt, 60g of ground almonds, 120g of whole almonds and 150g of golden caster sugar to a large bowl and mix together. Lightly beat two eggs and add to the mixture with 1tsp of almond extract and bring together with a wooden spoon. Use your hand to bring the dough together into a ball (it may be a little sticky) then lightly flour a work surface, divide the mixture into two and roll it into two long sausage shapes, about 20cm long each. Lay on a baking sheet lined with parchment and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and slice into 1cm thick pieces using a serrated knife then lay flat back on to the baking sheet and cook in a cooler oven at 150°C for another 20-30 minutes or until crisp and golden.

Chuck steak con carne

(serves 6-8)

This is the kind of one-pot dinner that gives you a break after all the fiddly, feasting food. Really hearty and another crowd-pleaser. Serve with sour cream with a dusting of paprika, grated cheese, nachos and rice or winter slaw.

Heat your oven to 170°C. Chop 1kg of beef brisket into 2.5cm chunks then brown in a hot pan with 2tbsp of vegetable oil in batches. Transfer the beef to a casserole pan then finely chop two red onions and sauté until softened and starting to turn golden. Add five minced garlic cloves, cooking for a few minutes then add 2tsp each of ground cumin, smoked paprika, dried oregano and ½tsp of ground cloves. Add more oil if you need and cook out the spices then add 2-3tbsp of chilli paste (chipotle or ancho work well) and transfer everything to the casserole with the beef. Add two tins of plum tomatoes and 500ml beef stock and bring to a boil then put the lid on and transfer to the oven for two hours. Drain and rinse two tins of kidney beans and add to your casserole, cooking for a further hour without the lid until the beef is tender. Check seasoning and serve.

Winter slaw

(serves 6-8)

Something fresh and tasty to go with leftover turkey or ham. This makes a large bowl and looks great piled high in the centre of the table for people to help themselves. Add some pomegranate seeds for a little sparkle.

In a large bowl mix together 4tbsp of buttermilk, 1tbsp of Dijon mustard, 1tsp of celery salt and the juice and rind of one lemon. Add in two grated carrots, ¼ red and ¼ white cabbage, finely shredded, five finely sliced radishes, five sliced spring onions and a large handful of roughly chopped parsley. Mix together, adjust seasoning to taste and pile high into a serving bowl.

 

Chive blini with salmon, caviar and crème fraiche

 

This is always a great crowd-pleaser. I like to serve these on Christmas morning between breakfast and lunch, as we are all opening presents with some bubbles. It is really worth making these yourself as they are far more tasty than shop-bought, just warm in the oven before serving.

In a large bowl weigh out 100g of plain flour and add a generous pinch of salt. Separate an egg, adding the white to a clean mixing bowl and the yolk to the flour. Measure out 150ml whole milk and add half to the flour. Use an electric whisk to whisk the egg white until it begins to stiffen and leave to one side whilst you then whisk the flour mix until smooth. Gradually add the rest of the milk while continually whisking then 25g of melted butter and a handful of chopped chives. Fold through the egg white. Warm a pan and brush with a little butter until it begins to foam then add small spoonfuls of your batter. Cook on a low heat until the bottoms begin to brown then flip and repeat. Serve warm with a dollop of crème fraiche, smoked salmon, caviar and dill.

 

 

Play time! Toys and games

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Do you have youngsters to buy presents for this Christmas? Liz Nicholls rounds up her 2018 choices…

Rampant consumerism hits its peak during December. My ten-year-old is currently obsessed with the LOL dolls which are all about plastic packaging and (with ever more and more to collect, natch) to exploit that acquisitive streak all children have. I’ll indulge her with one, hoping the fad passes the way of Minecraft paraphernalia. Also all the rage are PlayFoam Pals. What about some family board games? Monopoly (created in 1935) has long engaged families in capitalist battles and the new Cheaters Edition (RRP £23.99) takes it to the next level!

Traditionalists might prefer the new versions of old classics Rummikub , Dixit (RRP £29.99) and Othello (RRP £23.99). Of course we’d all rather our children and grandchildren play with sturdy (not to mention tasteful) wooden toys. The toys by Cornish brand Hape are beauties, such as the Discovery Box (£32.49) and Roadster and Sky Flyer (£8.99) for age one year and up. For real longevity Steiff has been hand-making teddy bears since 1847 and its toys and kids’ clothing is of collectible quality, including Mungo the magnetic monkey (£85). Gifts For A Girl offers top-quality presents such as this Ride-On Zebra (from £219) while supporting charities who care for abandoned and trafficked children, mainly girls, in Cambodia. For more ethical goodies (in a stocking-filler price range) check out the creative range from Clockwork Soldier Shop and, for dinosaur-mad children, do also check out the lovely range from the Natural History Museum shop, including the cuddle T Rex and Cluedo paleontology board game! Remember mood rings from the ’90s? Pomsies (£17.99) are feline plush toys whose eyes change colour according to whether they’re happy, sleepy or hungry, while Rescue Runts (£17.99) encourage their new owners to groom their new puppies clean before their fur becomes messy again and the dirt reappears on their paws… The whole concept reminds me a little of that scene in Withnail & I but at least we have moved on somewhat… Enjoy your Christmas!

Craig Revel Horwood: Strictly panto star

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Craig Revel Horwood shares his thoughts on Strictly, his varied schedule and meeting his wax twin.

Q: We have heard about your waxwork doppelganger in Blackpool – what was it like meeting him? A: “It was quite bizarre, seeing another me because no one ever sees themselves three dimensionally like that! It was so lifelike it was ridiculous. My mum was there and she couldn’t tell us apart! We had the launch in Blackpool Tower. Of course the last time I’d been there was with Strictly and they had spotlights on it in the centre of the ballroom, six dancing girls and fireworks…it was incredible!”

Q: Are you looking forward to playing the Wicked Stepmother in the panto Cinderella at Woking’s New Victoria theatre? A: “I do feel like I’ve come full circle, I just wish I was as beautiful as I was 30 years ago! You have to look after yourself as you can’t go off partying the whole time… but it’s fantastic, it keeps me thin all the way through Christmas! [Pantomime} is an introduction for children to live theatre and as live theatre is my passion I really encourage that. It also teaches children generally about theatre, which I think is the most important thing about doing panto. Coming to the theatre is a unique and individual experience and you can interact with the cast too… it’s great!”

Q: You seem to have a hectic schedule, do you? “I’m working on material now for Christmas 2020. It is crazy! As for Strictly  I still get very excited and very nervous when I hear the opening music… It’s a whole new bunch of people, a whole new cast each time, so it’s always fresh. Seeing people who’ve never danced before realising dance can actually be taught.. and just seeing the enjoyment that people get out of it is great. It’s a gift.. people are no longer socially inept when it comes to dancing and that’s fantastic! It’s the only show really you can have on a Saturday night with the whole family… It’s great fun, the best Saturday job ever!”

Q: Which is your favourite dance to do yourself? “The Argentine Tango is my favourite, I just love that; it’s the way the body is intertwined, how fast it is and how the woman responds to the man’s lead and how much is improvised, it’s a very cool dance, when it’s done well!”

Q: How do you feel about Shirley Ballas’ addition to the judging panel? A: “I think Shirley has made a fantastic addition to the Strictly family, she’s really confident and has learned to be less technical which is good, I think, as that can bedazzle people… she’s fitted in nicely and it’s wonderful having another woman on the panel.”

Q: You’ve directed the opera La Traviata and seem willing to tackle an infinite variety of projects? “As long as I’m in the Arts, those challenges push you forwards. I conducted Act II of La Boheme which was amazing… I studied music at school and can read music which helps and I’ve been singing, dancing and acting to music my whole life so this was really another way to understand what the conductor does. When you’re doing it yourself you get very immersed in it and you and the music become one.”

Q: You’ve written a new volume of autobiography, out soon, In Strictest Confidence, how do you feel about that? “It’s a good, fun read. I try and keep it light but it’s also tackling the death of my father and goes into all the emotions that one goes through. [His first memoir] All Balls & Glitter was really to get skeletons out of the closet so other people couldn’t tell stories about me; whereas this one is answering questions that people ask.. about Strictly, about my life and how one copes with being a celebrity and how that changes your life entirely.”

Q: Do you enjoy being in the public gaze? “The only thing I find good about being a celebrity is that you can raise money for charity and I’ve done quite a lot of that. My mum has chronic rheumatoid arthritis but osteoporosis can be prevented by exercise up to the age of 23 so that’s why it was a charity I chose in order to change people’s lives.”

Q: What was it like choreographing the final scene in Paddington 2, the big dance number led by Hugh Grant? “I taught Hugh to tap dance which was fun; he was absolutely fantastic and really applied himself because it’s tough; he literally learned in three weeks but was spending three hours a day practising.”

Q: You’re also reprising the role of Miss Hannigan in Annie in the West End… A: “She’s wonderful, a misunderstood character who actually has a lot of love to give but unfortunately the children don’t see that. She just really wants a man in her life to take care of her and not finding it tries to find the answers at the bottom of a bottle which, as we know, doesn’t work. I just enjoy her, she’s a lovely character and is funny and scary with it too, you don’t often get all that!”

Q: What’s your life philosophy? “Life is very short and you have to just go out and don’t fear anything. I’m open to whatever comes along. I’d love to direct a film as well but I think I need to act first to see how it all works then can apply everything I’ve learned from that (and from directing musicals) to film.. and perhaps promote dance in film. I’d love to do that!”

Coast vs Country

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We chat to Scottish and Oxford-based television presenter of Coast vs Country

October has seen award-winning Oxford interior designer Kerr Drummond swap dreaming spires for scenic sand dunes as one of the co-hosts of Coast vs Country.

This Channel 4 show gives house-hunters the choice of a future in a rural idyll or seaside hotspot. In each episode, house hunters are shown three coastal properties and three countryside properties, as they decide whether their heart lies within the UK’s rolling hills and pretty villages, or in a stunning coastal location packed with seaside culture.

So, how did Kerr come to be involved in the programme? It turns out Coast vs Country is not his first television show. “It was the second television programme I had done,” he says. “I was approached in 2008 to do Kitchen SOS which was produced by a television company owned by Nadia Salwalha. They had sold the concept to UKTV’s Home channel, but one of the conditions was that one of the designers had to be up and coming and new to TV.

“I had just been nominated for Young Designer of the Year, so when they did a Google search they found me quite quickly. After three years in that show, I applied for Coast vs Country and it was either the instant rapport I got with the fellow presenter, Kirsty Duffy, or the fact that they were totally bored of interviewing people. Something must be going right, we are now on out third series!”

      

Are the presenters quite competitive… perhaps keeping score as comes across on screen? “Officially nope, but I think I ‘won’ series 1 and 2 against Kirsty. In series 3 the rural idyll is being looked after by Sara Damergi as Kirsty has had a break to have a baby. Fingers crossed I can keep my record up – not that I’m keeping score!”

What made Kerr choose Interior design as a career, considering he is now on television… “It wasn’t my first choice; I was going to go to drama school and my poor drama teacher and given me a lot of help filling in forms etc  – then I chickened out! I was flicking through a local paper looking at various jobs and somebody wanted a junior bathroom designer and I had the entry qualification – an ‘A’ at A-level art. I got on really well at the job and progressed to senior designer after four or five years before starting my own company.”

No doubt the properties on offer come from many centuries; is there a period in history Kerr would have loved to have been an interior designer, perhaps? “I guess being Scottish I would love to go back only a brief time to when Charles Rene Mackintosh was working in Glasgow. But, the other period that interests me is the time of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I when they went on travels all over the country staying with nobles who always tried to outdo the noble before. Though I guess the challenge for the designer was getting paid afterwards as a lot of the nobles overstretched their finances.”

For someone who extols the virtues of the coast, what is it that attracts Kerr to life in Oxford? “I moved down to Oxford with my parents when I was about three, but I really love the place and would not want to move. I live in the Osney area, and this summer could happily go swimming in the river or walk along the bank into the centre of Oxford. Then there are the travel links, I am only an hour by train from the centre of London, but nothing beats sitting outside a pub in Broad Street watching the setting sun glisten off the historic rooves of the colleges.”

Visit www.channel4.com/programmes/coast-vs-country

Will Greenwood: nice try

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With the autumn rugby internationals on the horizon, we chat to rugby legend and father Will Greenwood.

Q. What would you do to help injury in the senior game?
“There is no perfect world – the key is to get children to enter adult rugby having had a good technical grounding in the contact area and tackle point and make sure they have had a safe and enjoyable journey along the way – that’s what’s most important.”

Q. You’re a great ambassador for children’s rugby – do schools do enough?
“Schools are constrained by budget, safety and numbers of qualified coaches. Mentoring schemes, access to club and academy coaches are improving and I hope it continues. I try to do my bit coaching at my local club [Maidenhead] and with my holiday coaching business Legend Holidays & Events.”

Q. With Twickenham ticket prices so high, would it be a good idea to play internationals elsewhere in the UK?
“I like having a ‘Fortress’ at Twickenham – not always a fortress – but it looks and feels like one to me! However I feel the occasional game could shift north – which it is next year… to St James’s Park with a world cup warm-up game which is exciting.”

Q. What would you say is the best moment of your playing career?
“That’s a tricky one, but probably Durham University 1991-92 – playing some great rugby with people who are my best friends to this day.”

Q. What do you think is the best position to play in to captain an international side?
“I don’t think there is a best necessarily – history would suggest the forwards – but great people come in all shapes and sizes. Rugby is a great sport that caters for all those shapes and sizes; a legendary captain could play in any position.”

Q. Is there another Martin Johnson playing now who can fill the role of captain?
“There will never be another Martin Johnson – unique and awesome! They’re big boots to fill if someone is up to the task.”

Q. Why are the All Blacks so good?!
“I think their success comes down to a few key factors; culture, geography, genetics and Importance of the game as a national sport.”

Q. How do you relax?
“I love a good Sudoku puzzle, whenever I get time!”

Q. What’s your favourite book?
“I’ve read some brilliant books, but my favourite would have to be Flashman Papers by George Macdonald Fraser.”

Q. Music?
“Easy: Oasis or Take That.”

Q. What are your ambitions for the next year on?
“My biggest ambition right now is to be a good Dad, it always comes before everything else.”

A print success story

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Round & About Magazine expands in to its ninth county as the family business continues to fly the flag for print publishing

In October this year we launched the latest edition of Round & About Magazine, for all the residents of Hungerford, Marlborough and Pewsey. As per all our other magazines it‘s Royal Mail delivered to all the homes within the RG17, SN8 and SN9 postcodes, giving local and national businesses complete penetration within the area.

The region is a good match for our target audience, complementing our current geographical reach and it will offer existing and new clients another great region to target.

To cope with the demands of ever more editions and content creation we are very pleased to have Karen Neville join us. Karen, who leaves her current role of production editor at Bath Chronicle, has worked in newspaper publishing, including for the Oxfordshire Guardian group, for many years, and thus has a sound knowledge of the areas we already reach. She will bring a great amount of experience and a valuable skillset from an international business.

Working with Liz Nicholls, our talented editor, Karen will help Round & About deliver ever more localised content, writing articles on issues that matter to our readers and help the machine run smoothly!

Our expansion over the last few years brought us to Howbery Park in 2015, enabling us to have the space to grow and offer employees an enjoyable environment to work in.

To help us reach our growth plans in 2019 we are expanding our advertising sales team. The right person doesn’t necessarily come from a sales background but someone that is a “people person”, has strong customer service skills and can offer sound solutions to potential advertisers, matching their needs with our offering.

If you feel you have the skill set to manage some existing accounts and develop new ones we would like to hear from you. Please email the sales director Luke Maitland on lmaitland@roundandabout.co.uk

Find out more about our story

Winter aches & pains?

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Pharmacist Kevin Leivers from The Naked Pharmacy explains how to find effective natural relief for joint and muscle inflammation this winter

As the temperature drops both athletes and elderly people alike notice their muscles and joints ache more and are slower to recover from injury.

There are a number of great natural remedies for these problems at The Naked Pharmacy. Two stand-out herbal products that can be applied regularly to aching muscles and joints are Arnica Massage Balm and Copper Ointment. Both are effective for reducing rheumatic pain in addition to improving circulation.

We also recommend supplementing your diet with high-strength tumeric capsules. This is a proven, natural and low-risk solution for a number of conditions including arthritis and sporting injuries. The therapeutic benefits of turmeric are produced by a class of compounds in turmeric called curcuminoids.

For the turmeric to be effective it must contain the correct strength; a minimum of 360mg curcuminoids in each capsule. Secondly, it needs to be formulated to enable the curcuminoid active compounds to be absorbed well in the gut.

On its own, only a small amount of the curcuminoids in turmeric are absorbed into the blood. Adding piperine (black pepper) resolves this issue. When piperine is mixed with turmeric, the total curcuminoid absorption increases significantly.

A turmeric extract that contains the highest strength of curcuminoids will be the most effective compared with extracts containing only curcumin.

For more advice visit The Naked Pharmacy or to speak to a pharmacist  call 01483 685630.

Thick & thin: hair loss tips

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Jamie Stevens, hairdresser to the stars including Hugh Grant and Olly Murs, talks frankly about the sensitive topic of balding – and how to combat it

Thinning hair is a subject that’s close to my heart. Researching it has helped me understand the reasons for hair loss, how to slow it and, most vitally, how to help conceal it without a hair transplant.

I’ve seen the effect hair loss has on confidence – our survey of 2,000 men revealed many would rather have a small penis, be cheated on or have their internet history made public than lose their hair. A fifth think thinning hair makes them less attractive and a quarter are worried it makes them look older.

Hair loss causes real anxiety. As someone who has thinning hair myself, I hope getting men talking will stop them suffering in silence. There are lots of options. Clever cuts can make hair look thicker, and hair fibres and disguise spray cover a balding spot well. Hair plugs are a more expensive but long-term option for men who really don’t want to be bald. There does come a point when shaving is best but some men go too early – Prince William, for example, probably didn’t need the buzz cut as soon as he did.

Tackle thinning hair early and you can hang on to hair for longer. Grooming staples are the foundation for any good haircare regime; anti hair-loss shampoo and conditioner plus a treatment spray help reduce the rate of hair loss by prolonging the growth phase.

About 70% of men will be affected by some sort of male pattern baldness, from completely losing the hair, to receding or thinning in areas. Genetics affect different areas of the hair. The top area will thin and fall out, but the gene that affects below the recession and occipital bone (what we call the “Friar Tuck” area) means this doesn’t thin or fall out in tandem with the top. The simple top tip for cutting thinning hair is the back and sides should be shorter and thinner than the top. Also try colouring: darker hair looks thicker, and colour swells the hair shaft to enhance thickness. Volumising products also offer short-term improvement. Disguise colour spray will instantly make hair look thicker; hair fibres matched to your hair colour are another instant solution to make the hair look thicker.

Find a style to suit fine hair; for example, adjust a parting to avoid bald patches. Longer hair weighs more and may leave more scalp exposed. Never rub wet hair with a towel: thin hair is fragile and can break, so pat dry. A silk pillowcase causes less damage.

Practice makes perfect – if I asked you to spray a car it’d take more than one go! Look online for how-to videos and avoid wet gels or waxes. Pastes and clays are best as they are more matte.

Click here to check out Jamie’s products.

Cosy cravings

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In the heart of winter sometimes we crave informal, uncomplicated, wholesome food. These recipes from Katie Kingsley will provide comfort and nourishment through the festive period.

Roti with curry sauce

(makes eight)

These are a fitting evening snack for when lunch has been particularly late or large. Prepare the roti the night before. In a large bowl mix 400g plain flour with 2tsp fine salt and add 200ml lukewarm water, gradually, to form a dough. Knead until elastic, smooth and shiny then wrap in cling film and rest for 30 minutes. Divide into eight balls, roll in a generous amount of vegetable oil, place on an oiled plate then cover and chill overnight. Oil your work surface and take a ball in the palm of your hand then flatten it and use a rolling pin to get the dough as thin as possible. Roll it up as you would a crepe then roll into a snail shape bringing the end back and tucking into the middle before rolling out again into a disc about the size of a large frying pan. Heat your frying pan over a medium heat, and fry until golden bubbles form, brushing both sides with a little oil as you fry, then fold before serving. To make the curry sauce add a tin of coconut milk, 3tbsp smooth peanut butter, 2tbsp soft packed brown sugar, 2tbsp red curry paste, 2tbsp kecap manis (sweet soy), 1tbsp soy, 2tsp tamarind paste, three minced garlic cloves and a pinch of salt to a medium saucepan, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until thick. Leftover curry sauce is great made into katsu chicken.

Parsnip pancakes with sour cream and caramelised onion

(makes eight – ten)

A delicious snack exploiting this sweet winter root. Halve three white onions and slice into half moons then fry in 2tbsp oil until starting to brown. Add a knob of butter, 1tsp soft brown sugar, 1tsp fennel seeds and a sprinkle of salt and continue to sauté until they are caramelised. Parboil six parsnips for 2-3 minutes then drain, running them under cool water and dry off as much as possible before grating them (a food processor makes light work of this). Add a leek finely chopped (white part only), one large lightly beaten egg, 3tbsp plain flour and season generously before mixing together using a spatula. Heat 2tbsp of oil with a knob of butter in a large frying pan and form balls with your hands of the parsnip mixture then use the spatula to press down once in the pan and flatten to about 1.5cm thick. Cook each side until crisp and golden. Serve with a dollop of sour cream with fresh chopped chives mixed through and caramelised onion.

Chunky chicken minestrone

(serves four – six)

Just the thing to nurse winter ailments and so simple to put together. Quarter a whole chicken leaving the skin on or use legs if you are cooking for fewer people. Season the chicken with salt, heat oil in a sauté pan then brown on both sides before transferring to a plate. Pour 200ml white vermouth into the hot pan to deglaze then transfer to a casserole or heavy saucepan, with the chicken and two tins of rinsed butterbeans. Add 500ml good quality chicken stock and a few tbsp chopped rosemary then partially cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add a few handfuls of minestrone which cooks in the broth, season to taste and serve the chicken as whole pieces or remove and shred before returning to the pan. Finish with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.

Sussex Pond Pudding

(serves four – six)

Just the thing to nurse winter ailments and so simple to put together. Quarter a whole chicken leaving the skin on or use legs if you are cooking for fewer people. Season the chicken with salt, heat oil in a sauté pan then brown on both sides before transferring to a plate. Pour 200ml white vermouth into the hot pan to deglaze then transfer to a casserole or heavy saucepan, with the chicken and two tins of rinsed butterbeans. Add 500ml good quality chicken stock and a few tbsp chopped rosemary then partially cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add a few handfuls of minestrone which cooks in the broth, season to taste and serve the chicken as whole pieces or remove and shred before returning to the pan. Finish with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.

Creature comforts

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More than half of Brits own a pet and there are so many benefits to having an animal in the family! Here are some titbits to ensure that your pet is at his or her happiest…

1. Taking time to decide which pet you get is vital. Responsible pet ownership is a big commitment. Consider your budget, space and lifestyle when deciding on a pet, not whichever animal is cutest. Rescue centres (such as Dogs Trust Surrey) not only have a huge variety of pets needing “forever homes” but offer advice on helping your pet settle in and their happy life beyond. 

2. “Dogs are descended from wolves which are very social animals.” Bruce’s Doggy Day Care puts doggie wellbeing first, offering full-and half-day boarding, a puppy nursery, grooming and a Tiny Town for little dogs to mingle. www.brucesdoggydaycare.co.uk

3. Breeding animals on the basis of appearance can wreak havoc on their health. The charity PeTA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is trying to combat irresponsible breeding, especially in light of recent “teacup” breeds, popularised on social media.   Visit www.peta.org  to find out more

4. Here some some fun facts  about pets for you! Did you know, for example, cats have no facility for tasting sugar? Henry III of France used to have a basket of small dogs hanging around his neck. The bloodhound is the only animal whose evidence is admissible in an American court. Queen Victoria won six prizes at Crufts in 1891 for her Pomeranian dogs, whereas Winston Churchill, Raymond Chandler and Samuel Johnson were all cat lovers.

5. Rabbits make great pets but are not an easy option!A rabbit can live for eight years plus, up to four years longer if spayed or neutered,” says Sue Beckram of Pets Homes & Gardens in Cranleigh.“They need to socialise daily and can become listless and difficult to handle if neglected and need regular grooming.” 

6. All dogs need regular exercise. Without daily walks, dogs get depressed, fat, poorly or bored, as curious canines love to sniff about socially. How much exercise your dog needs depends on its breed, age, fitness level and personality. Contact Kaz’s K9s and Equines on 07881 915815.   

7. Should you insure your pet? The average pet insurance claim is £750, but claims can run into thousands if your pet develops an ongoing condition. If you’re unsure whether insurance is worthwhile, consider how you would deal with an unexpected bill. The easiest way to bag the best deal is to buy a lifetime policy when your pet is young. There might also be discounts for spaying/ neutering and microchipping your cat.

8. Birds can live to a ripe age. Larger species such as macaws and cockatoos can live for  35 up to 50 years. Tarbu, an African grey, lived to 55 and today’s oldest parrot is 82-year-old Cookie who lives at Brookfield Zoo in Chicago.

9. Raw and grain-free food can make a massive difference to your pet’s health and behaviour. Most experts agree grain-free and raw dog foods are the best choice as they are the closest equivalent to the natural diet their ancestors (wolves and wild cats) would have eaten.

10. Don’t think of fish as low-maintenance. A thriving aquarium needs consistent attention. Overfeeding is the biggest problem with fish because uneaten food pollutes your tank and inhibits filtration. All pets need dedicated care.

11. Take care of your pet’s teeth & gums! Just as with humans, a good oral care routine is a vital part of your pet’s health and wellbeing. The experienced team at Lynton Veterinary Group advise: “This can be aided by regular brushing, a good diet and, if necessary, scale & polish to prevent further issues. A neglected mouth can cause pets a lot of pain and discomfort and may lead to other serious health problems.” 

Follow this link to find out how to enter out pets competition!