Editor’s Letter – February Issue

Dear Neighbours,

The start to 2020 has already marked a milestone in my son’s (and therefore my) life… he passed his driving test (so one less person for me to taxi around!), and an unconditional university offer means he’ll soon be packing his bags and starting a new chapter in his life away from home. I have had a range of emotions, from being extremely happy and proud, to moments of sadness at the realisation that once he’s flown the nest, that’s an end of an era. My little boy has grown up… and it all happened so fast!

At least I’ve still got a minimum of 3 more years before my younger son departs and I’m faced with an ‘empty nest’. Although, the freedom that offers does sound rather appealing!

Love it or loathe it, Valentine’s Day will soon be upon us; but why do we exchange cards, flowers and gifts with our loved ones on 14th February when the day’s patron saint was a Christian martyr? We take a look back in history to discover its origins, page 10.

If you do like to give a Valentine’s gift, but are looking for some inspiration, other than flowers and chocolates, we have a few ideas on page 14.

If you’re thinking of retiring in the next few years it’s a good idea to organise your finances well ahead of time, so you can consider some of the big issues without feeling too much pressure. Ann Haldon has advice on the essential steps on page 24.

With the increase in electric car popularity, more people are going to need to charge at home. But how do you go about it? Read our motoring feature for guidance; page 28.

In this issue we also have on-trend interiors on pages 36 and 40; growing the perfect potatoes on page 48; and books to get you talking, page 58.

Finally, we have two tickets to give away to see the hilarious and deeply moving production of The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin & Stan Laurel, courtesy of Royal & Derngate Theatre; competition details on page 16.

Until next month…


Richmond Northampton: Village Showcase, Saturday 8th February

Kumon, Maths & English Tuition: Free Trial 1-29 February

Royal & Derngate: The Strange Tale Of Charlie Chaplin & Stan Laurel

In 1910 the unknown Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel set sail for New York as part of Fred Karno’s famous music hall troupe. On this journey, Charlie and Stan shared a cabin and then spent two years together touring North America, with Stan as Charlie’s understudy. 

In Charlie Chaplin’s highly detailed autobiography Stan Laurel is never mentioned. Stan talked about Charlie all his life.

Playing fast and loose with the facts and with an original piano score composed by Mercury Award-Nominee Zoe Rahman played live each night,?The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin And Stan Laurel ?is no nostalgic bio-drama, but a?hilarious and deeply moving?homage to two men who changed the world of comedy forever. 

The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel takes to the Royal stage between Tuesday 10th and Saturday 21st March. Tickets 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 £3.50 applies for all transactions over £20. Does not apply to Groups, Friends, Disabled Patrons or Subscribers and is per-transaction, not per-ticket.

Spinney Vets: Mané No Longer Out In The Cold Thanks To Warm-Hearted Stranger

A stray, underweight cat in extreme pain has undergone an astonishing transformation and welcomed in the new year with a new life, thanks to a leading Northampton vets and a generous stranger who refused to give up on her.

Nathan Chambers was out running near Castle Ashby when he came across a cat in a very sorry state, so he took her to Spinney Vets, in Kettering Road.

Mané, as she has now been named by her new owner, a die-hard Liverpool FC fan, was diagnosed with bilateral lower lid entropion, which is where the eyelids roll inwards, meaning with every blink her eyelashes were scraping the surface of the cornea.

As well as being in excruciating pain with her eyes, she was also underweight and bedraggled.

Spinney Vets set about trying to find her owners but were met with dead ends – but kind-hearted Nathan, who was in regular contact with the practice during Mané’s stay, offered to pay for her operation.

Nathan said: “I was on a long distance run and I was close to collapsing. For some reason I ran up a steep incline and saw the sun shining in a field in front of me and thought what a beautiful photo it would make.

“I took the picture and turned around to see a cat leaning up against a tree.

“She was on the soaking wet ground as there had been a downpour earlier. She was so skinny, and I could already see there was something very wrong with her eyes. But she was straining her neck to look up and catch some rays of sunshine on her fur, and from that moment I felt I was meant to find her.

“I stayed in touch with Spinney Vets throughout Mané’s stay there and didn’t hesitate in offering to pay for her surgery. I told them from the moment I dropped her off that if she didn’t have an owner, I wanted to take her home with me.

“When they told me she was mine, I felt at peace, to be honest, as I had been so anxious. It was just the best news.

“There has been a huge transformation in her. She has put on weight, her coat is brilliant, and her eyes are now healed. We’re thrilled with how much she’s flourished. She looks like a different cat.

“All my family use Spinney Vets for their animals as they are a skilled and hugely caring bunch of people, and they have shown this once more with how they took care of Mané.”
Vet Rachel Chan said: “We gave her pain relief and medicated her eyes, which soon started to look better.

“After seven days no owner had been traced, but then something amazing happened. Nathan, who had been in constant contact with us since bringing Mané in and already expressed how much he wanted to become her new owner, said he wanted to pay for the treatment.

“After she had recovered, he was able to take her with him to start her new life.

“Mané is a beautiful cat and we are delighted she has a new home to go to. Nathan has done a wonderful thing.”

For more information about Spinney Vets, visit www.northampton-vets.co.uk or search for Spinney Vets of Facebook.

Crusader Community Boating: Volunteers Wanted

Brushstrokes Art Group

Mondays 7pm – 9pm
Brushstrokes is a small group of local artists who meet on Mondays in the staff canteen at Mereway Police HQ in Northampton. Tuition, help, advice and guidance is provided by local artist Tony Pearson. Our members are of mixed ability and enjoy drawing and painting using their own individual choice of materials.

If you would like to join, or want to find out more, please contact Jane Denton – janefun@icloud.com

Editor’s Letter – January 2020

Dear Neighbours,

I hope you had a lovely Christmas and it didn’t whizz by in too much of a blur! As per usual I ate and drank far too much over the festive period, so I’m jumping on the ‘healthy New Year’ bandwagon, especially as I stupidly agreed (and was immediately signed up by my family) to a 10 mile obstacle ‘Tough Mudder’ event in June… I blame the prosecco! However, having a challenge will definitely motivate me to stay on track with my fitness goals, as I don’t want to embarrass myself on the day and give my sons mocking rights for the next 10 years!

If, like me, you’re kick-starting your fitness this January, we have gadgets that can help keep you on track; page 10. Maybe, you’re going to give Veganuary a go? If so, it’s important to understand how to get the vital nutrients your body will be used to; see our health feature on page 12 for more information on the healthy way to do Veganuary.

The start of a New Year is a good time to re-evaluate and put new processes in place to make life a little easier. Read our parenting article on page 18, and our finance feature on page 34, for some helpful advice for a more organised 2020.

Interiors expert, Katherine Sorrell, has tips on making your home more cosy and inviting on page 42; and we have a selection of home products in Dulux’s colour of the year, ‘Tranquil Dawn’, on page 48.

Local charities, Crusader Community Boating, and Voluntary Impact Northamptonshire, are currently recruiting for volunteers; pages 40 and 41 respectively. If you feel you can help these very worthy services, please get in contact with them.

Finally, we have two tickets to give away to see a gripping production of Alone In Berlin, courtesy of Royal & Derngate Theatre; competition details on page 54.

Wishing you a healthy and prosperous 2020…


Voluntary Impact Northamptonshire: Drivers Needed

Editor’s Letter – December 2019

Dear Neighbours,

The time has come to retrieve the Christmas decorations from the loft, turn up the Xmas tunes and devour copious amounts of mince pies… the countdown to Christmas has officially begun!

I have a very long ‘To-Do’ list, which sends a small shiver of panic through me whenever I look at it. However, I am determined to remain calm and enjoy the lead-up to Christmas, as the day itself is always over far too quickly.

I do miss the excitement that having younger children bring to the occasion as now my boys are older the magic has dissipated slightly; no more excited squeals that Santa has been (unless you count my husband!). We now have to wake them up rather than being woken, and presents have reduced in size (but become more expensive!). However, the most important thing for me has always been spending quality time with the people I love… and that’s as special now as it’s always been.

In this festive edition, we look at the history of our Christmas traditions on page 10. We have top tips for festive decorating on page 16, as well as Christmas tree decorations on page 22.

If you’re planning a Christmas Eve box this year (when did that start being a thing?), we have ideas on what to fill it with on page 26. We also have the best beauty gift sets, page 30; your festive gadget survival guide, page 34 and our pick of the best books on page 38.

If you want to offer guests an alternative to a mince pie or slice of Christmas cake, we have a delicious cranberry, orange and nut loaf recipe on page 42.

The shorter, darker, colder, wetter days of winter can leave even the fittest and chirpiest of us feeling mentally and physically run-down. We have six tips to keep you feeling better through the winter; page 44.

Finally, we have two tickets to give away to see an acclaimed production of a classic Miss Marple mystery, A Murder Is Announced, courtesy of Royal & Derngate Theatre; competition details on page 48.

Until next month…