Editor’s Letter – April 2019

Dear Neighbours,

I have already succumbed to the temptations of Easter treats and eaten my first Cadbury Crème Egg of 2019; (other eggs are available!). Unfortunately, once the first one is consumed, my will-power evaporates and I’m on the slippery slope of eating my body weight in chocolate over the coming weeks! I’m normally a savoury rather than sweet person, but at this time of year I’m seduced by all the chocolate eggs on offer and resisting temptation proves impossible. I just need to ensure my boys don’t find my secret stash!

The annual National Parks family festival is now coinciding with Easter school holidays and aims to get families outside to discover the length and breadth of the UK’s 15 National Parks, details of which are on page 10.

If you’re entertaining this Easter, we have great decorative suggestions for your seasonal celebration, page 18. Plus, why not finish any Easter feast with our apricot and orange cheesecakes; page 24.

Don’t be an April Fool! Beware of the tech scams trying to trick you; details on page 26.

Last issue we looked at whether a diesel car was the right choice, this month we look at hybrids; page 28.

It’s National Stop Snoring Week, 22nd-28th April, an awareness campaign to remind people snoring is treatable and to also be aware of its links to other health problems; page 44.

Crusader Community Boating is a Northamptonshire charity that enables people with physical or mental disabilities, as well as those from care homes, to enjoy a day trip on the local waterways in its purpose built boat. To help fund these excursions, they also offer a limited number of private charter trips to groups of up to 20 people – great for a family celebration or get together with friends; page 42.

Finally, we have two tickets for the phenomenal stage version of Dirty Dancing to give away, courtesy of Royal & Derngate Theatre; competition details on page 46.
Wishing you a happy Easter. Until next month…


Royal & Derngate: Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing is back, exploding with heart-pounding music, breath-taking emotion and sensationally sexy dancing.

Seen by millions across the globe, this worldwide smash hit tells the classic story of Baby and Johnny, two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds, who come together in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives.

Don’t miss your chance to see this sensational new production featuring the hit songs, including Hungry Eyes, Hey! Baby, Do You Love Me? and the heart-stopping (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life.

Dirty Dancing takes to the Derngate stage between Monday 10th and Saturday 15th June. Tickets are priced from £11 and can be booked by calling the Box Office on 01604 624811 or online at www.royalandderngate.co.uk.

* A charge of £3 applies for all transactions over £15. Does not apply to Groups, Friends or Disabled Patrons, and is per-transaction, not per-ticket.

Crusader Community Boating

Bringing the peace and tranquility of Northamptonshire’s waterways to the disabled, disadvantaged and elderly through free group trips on our specially equipped wide beam boat. Funded by voluntary donations.

Crusader Community Boating is a Northamptonshire charity that enables people with physical or mental disabilities, as well as those from care homes, to enjoy a day trip on the local waterways in its purpose built boat – an experience they might otherwise be denied. Trips run from Gayton Junction, at Blisworth Arm, along the Grand Union Canal.

Passengers either bring a picnic or we make a lunch stop at the Wharf canalside pub at Bugbrooke.

There is no charge for these trips as we rely on voluntary donations and our own fundraising activities.

To help fund the free trips, we also run a number of private charter trips for groups of up to 20 passengers. A perfect day out for family and friends celebrating a special occasion.

The charity, run entirely by volunteers who are also responsible for generating their own funding, is continuing a service for the local community that was started by St John Ambulance over 20 years ago.

Due to an increase in demand for the current service, and the charity’s objective of introducing an expanded service for primary school children, we are currently seeking financial support to purchase a second boat.

For further details, please see www.crusadercommunityboating.org.uk and follow us on Facebook /crusadercommunityboating

East Hunsbury Rocks! Easter Rock Hunt, Grangewood Park, Sunday 14th April, 10am

‘Rocking’ is a worldwide craze where people paint and hide rocks for others to find. We have a lovely group that ‘rock’ East Hunsbury regularly, so you might be lucky and find a painted rock while you’re out and about. We hope that the rocks bring smiles to their finders, and encourage them to keep their find or rehide it to share the smile with someone else. We’d love you to join in this activity that encourages creativity and exercise, and is bringing the community together. We have an Easter themed rock hunt in Grangewood Park on Sunday 14th April from 10am. If you would like more information about our activities, please visit our Facebook group ‘East Hunsbury Rocks’.

Barking Mad – A Waggy Tailed Solution To Modern Day Loneliness

Barking Mad Dog Care are offering volunteer dog cuddling as an antidote to the problem of loneliness in modern society! For those who are retired or work from home and are spending large chunks of time alone, caring for a waggy-tailed companion on a temporary basis and meeting other like-minded dog lovers could really help to overcome feelings of isolation. 

The perception of loneliness as mainly an issue for the older generation is now proving inaccurate, as a study from the Office for National Statistics suggests that young adults are more likely to feel lonely than older age groups. Due to huge advances in technology, the number of freelancers and remote workers is rising, with an article in Business Leader claiming that a ‘third of business owners think that workforce will work remotely by 2020.’

Caring for a friendly dog not only provides canine cuddles (far better than any virtual hug) but also the motivation to go and take a walk, increasing the likelihood of adhering to New Year fitness resolutions.

The community of Barking Mad host families mainly consists of active retired people and those who either work from home or have extended periods away from work. It offers the
opportunity to care for dogs in your own home, while their owners are away on holiday. Hosts experience all the benefits of dog companionship without any of the emotional or financial responsibilities of full-time pet ownership. 

If you know someone who would like to find out more about becoming a Barking Mad host, visit www.barkingmad.uk.com or call Shirley Rands on 01280 700110.

Brain Haemorrhage Foundation Charity Golf Day – A Great Success

The charity golf day on 7th March was a great success, raising £697 on the day for the Brain Haemorrhage Foundation. One of co-organisers of the charity golf day sadly lost his mother to a brain haemorrhage on new years eve, it was all so sudden and their aim is to raise money for further research in order to help prevent this from happening to other families.

Online donations for this very worthy cause are still very much appreciated and can be made through justgiving: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/brain-haemorrhage-foundation

Please help raise money for the Brain Haemorrhage Foundation

Northamptonshire Carers – Volunteers Needed To Give Carers A Break

– Do you have a few hours to spare?
– Would you like to help a worthwhile cause?
– Use your skills and experience to help carers take a break

What’s involved?
The Carers Sitting Service provides support by giving a break to those who have a caring responsibility for a husband, wife, partner, parent, relative or friend.

Sitting sessions take the form of befriending and involve meeting the same person in their own home. As a volunteer befriender you would be visiting someone in your local area. Volunteers do not give personal care or cook meals, undertake cleaning or do shopping.

No qualifications are needed, we will provide induction training and on-going support. However, it is important that you are understanding, patient, non-judgmental, a good listener and open-minded.

You could use your spare time to help someone else, or gain experience while you search for paid employment. You could also gain a reference to use when you apply for jobs.

All volunteers have an informal interview, will need to complete an application form and provide two references. If you are successful we will request a disclosure and barring service (DBS) check, which we will pay for.

Travel expenses will be paid for any visits you make.

Interested? To find out more,
call Adam Wilson on 01933 677837
or email him at adamw@northamptonshire-carers.org

Editor’s Letter – March Issue

Dear Neighbours,

As I sit and write this month’s editors letter, I can hear the birds singing in the tree outside my window and the sky is a beautiful bright blue, without a cloud in sight. It’s amazing how a little sunshine (regardless of how cold it is), can lift my spirits and put a spring in my step. It’s certainly an improvement, and definitely preferable, to the drenching I received just a few days earlier!

Whilst the hints of spring may be welcome for many, others may be dreading the associated symptoms of hay fever. Read our health article for advice on controlling symptoms and available treatments; page 24.

Despite recent bad publicity, diesel cars still fit the bill for some drivers; James Baggott explains why on page 28, so you can choose what is right for you.
As we come to the end of the financial year, Ann Haldon looks at whether opening a cash ISA is still worthwhile; page 34.

In this issue, our technology review features the top hair gadgets on page 42; and we also have our pick of the best natural beauty buys on the market; page 44.
We’ve got a couple of great recipes for you this month – a hearty vegetable gratin, which makes a great side dish to a roast dinner, and mini orange and chocolate cakes; pages 22 and 48 respectively. Alternatively, you could book a table at Greens Restaurant in Collingtree Park (page 43), who proudly boasts to have the best Sunday roast in Northampton… plus they’ll be no washing up!

Local business, Barking Mad Dog Care, are offering volunteer dog cuddling as an antidote to the problem of loneliness in modern society! For those who are retired or work from home and are spending large chunks of time alone, caring for a waggy-tailed companion on a temporary basis, and meeting other like-minded dog lovers, could really help to overcome feelings of isolation; page 52.

Finally, we have two tickets to see Ibsen’s Ghosts to give away, courtesy of Royal & Derngate Theatre; competition details on page 40.
Until next month…


Spinney Lodge Vets – Vet’s Bitesize Guide To Protecting Pets’ Teeth

A leading Northamptonshire veterinary practice is giving pet owners advice on how to look after their animals’ dental health as part of a three-month awareness campaign.

Spinney Vets is urging people to be vigilant when looking after their pet’s pearly whites, as dental disease among cats, dogs and rabbits is one of the most common problems dealt with at its three branches across the town.

As part of its awareness campaign, Spinney Vets is offering free dental health checks with a veterinary nurse at all of its practices from now until March 31, during which the nurse will examine pets’ mouths and give advice, if needed, on what treatment may be appropriate.

Iain Fletcher, clinical director at Spinney Vets, said the aim of the campaign was to encourage pet owners to be aware of the risks faced by animals and to prevent issues going forward.

Iain said: “Unfortunately, dental disease is extremely common in pets due to a combination of dietary and genetic factors. If we didn’t follow our dentist’s advice and look after our teeth by brushing twice a day, think what our mouths and teeth would be like – pets are no different.

“Without daily brushing, plaque can build up on animals’ teeth and this contains a complex film of bacteria which cannot always be seen by the naked eye but can be damaging to gums and roots.

“If plaque isn’t removed it can build up and become calcified. The brown substance which can be seen on the teeth of cats and dogs is tartar, which can allow more bacteria to grow and cause more damage if left untreated.

“This can eventually lead to toothache, gingivitis (gum infection) and tooth loss. All these conditions can be very painful and you may see your pet having difficulties eating.

“Regular proactive dental care can help prevent oral health issues. Daily brushing with pet-friendly toothpaste will help reduce the build-up of plaque and there are also a number of prescription dental diets which can be used to help prevent plaque build-up and keep teeth clean.

“For cats and dogs where tartar is already present, a scale and polish under a general anaesthetic is needed to remove the build-up.”

Iain also warned dog owners of potential dangers to their pet from chewing on what may seem an innocuous object, such as a tennis ball, his own dog’s teeth have been worn away due to a tennis ball obsession.

He said: “Tennis balls are not best friends to our dogs’ teeth. The tennis ball fibres collect sand, dirt and grit which can be very abrasive and, along with the tennis ball fibres themselves, they can wear teeth down so the root is left exposed.

“When choosing a ball for your dog to play with, it’s best to choose a soft or rubber ball. It’s also important not to let your dog or cat chew and play with hard or brittle items which could cause painful fractures to their teeth.”

To find out more the dental health campaign being run by Spinney Vets, which has branches in Spinney Hill, Wootton Fields and East Hunsbury, and for the chance to win a Fitbit with its Pet Health Club, visit www.northampton-vets.co.uk or search for Spinney Lodge Veterinary Hospital on Facebook.

Editor’s Letter – February 2019

Dear Neighbours,

My good intentions for a ‘dry January’, rapidly changed to ‘dry Monday-Thursday’, which was quickly replaced by ‘dry Monday and an occasional Wednesday’. I blame my friends for leading me astray… I was doing so well up until 5th January! I’m also yet to re-visit the gym post Christmas, my excuse being too much work to catch up on. The reality is I’m finding any reason to currently avoid it, much like dry… every other Monday!

February, however, will be different! I am determined…to find some new friends, (only joking!)…to eat and drink healthier and resume physical activities – so hopefully by the time spring arrives, I will be able to shed the winter layers with confidence. Here’s hoping!

If Christmas spending has taken its financial toll, now may be a good time to take control and give your finances a spring clean for a richer 2019; page 10.

If your wish list for this year included greater flexible working, going freelance may be worth considering, (it worked for me!). Kate Duggan has some helpful tips on page 14.

With the introduction of ‘Smart Motorways’ to our road networks, James Baggott explains the differences and what to be aware of; page 28.

Do you have a few hours to spare to help a worthwhile cause? Northamptonshire Carers are looking for volunteers to give carers a much deserved break; details on page 34.

Intending to treat a loved one this Valentine’s Day? If you’re looking for an alternative to flowers and chocolates, consider our techy gift suggestions on page 40.

Finally, we have two tickets to see An Evening Of Eric & Ern to give away, courtesy of Royal & Derngate Theatre. This brilliant homage by Olivier-nominated duo, Jonty Stephens and Ian Ashpitel, is crammed with renditions of those famous comedy sketches. Competition details on page 46.

Until next month…