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…

Zoë

Forum Cinema – What’s On

Christmas At Royal & Derngate

Editor’s Letter: November Issue

Dear Neighbours,

I seem to be constantly putting the kettle on now that the colder weather has descended – and what always goes hand in hand with a cuppa… cake and biscuits! Due to my lack of will-power at this time of year, I think relocating to a warmer climate would be beneficial for my health (and waistline!); in the meantime, however, I’ll justify the extra pounds gained as good insulation against the cold!

November is the month of big deals, thanks to the American tradition of Black Friday, which has now been adopted by the UK. A perfect time to shop for Christmas presents and benefit from savings, therefore making your money go further – however, ensure you do your research on any items you intend to buy to confirm it is a good deal, and importantly, stick to a list of things you are looking to purchase anyway, so as not to impulse buy. We have some advice on bagging a Black Friday bargain on page 10.

If you’re in need of more gift inspiration, we also have book recommendations, (page 12); presents for young children, (page 16); and new beauty releases, which will make ideal stocking presents, (page 20).

It’s that time of year when coughs, colds and the dreaded flu surface. Flu isn’t new and neither is the flu vaccine – yet every year, come flu season, there’s confusion about them. We set things straight in our health feature on page 24.

We have a delicious and simple-to-make chocolate cake recipe on page 30; serve hot for a perfect winter warmer.

As we head through autumn and into winter, the garden can start to look rather bare. However, although hanging baskets are traditionally a summer planting feature, they can work just as well for the winter months and make even the gloomiest garden look more cheerful; see page 54 for Pippa’s helpful tips.

Finally, we have a family ticket to give away to see the musical adventure, Pippi Longstocking, courtesy of Royal & Derngate Theatre; competition details on page 40.

Until next month…

Zoë

Richmond Northampton Retirement Village: Christmas Fayre, 1st December

Delapre Abbey – Dates For Your Diary

Editor’s Letter: October Issue

Dear Neighbours,

With the changing of seasons and summer holidays now a distant memory, we are fast approaching the festivity period of Halloween, Bonfire Night and – dare I say it… Christmas!

The shops are filling with seasonal goodies to entice buyers… but I am not making the same mistake as previous years, whereby I’ve made an early start to ‘stock-up’ in an attempt to be organised and spread the cost, only to have to replenish everything when my teenage sons raid the kitchen cupboards (and find my not so secret stash) in the meantime!

During the upcoming noisy celebrations, it’s worth considering the effects on pets as they can become increasingly stressed and anxious. However, help is at hand at local veterinary practice, Spinney Vets, who run free nurse-led anxiety clinics and are raising awareness with their ‘Comfort Your Pet’ campaign; see page 34 for more information.

It’s not always easy to be eco-friendly, but with concern regarding climate change, pollution and plastic waste, it is important to work together as a family to lead a greener life. We have some small steps which can make a big impact, on page 16.

If your skin and hair is in need of a pick me-up after the summer, we have some fast fix remedies on page 24.

Wanting a larger family car? Motoring expert, James Baggott, looks at the best seven-seater cars on sale today, page 28.

We also have advice on fab floors in our interiors article on page 38; and in the garden, Pippa Greenwood has tips on creating a rock garden, page 50.

If you have money left over at the end of each month, or have received an unexpected lump sum, you may be thinking about paying off your mortgage early. Our finance feature looks at whether early repayment is right for your mortgage on page 56.

Finally, we have two tickets to give away for the brand new romantic comedy musical, The Season, courtesy of Royal & Derngate Theatre; competition details on page 36. Until next month…

Zoë

Hunsbury Park Primary School: Open Morning & Afternoon Sessions

Editor’s Letter: September Issue

Dear Neighbours,

My sons always look really smart returning to school, however, it is unfortunately always short-lived! School shoes are normally scuffed within a few weeks due to break-time football games, (also responsible for many a split trouser!), and shirts are normally ink stained within the month. So, despite their protestations, I always insist on a photo on their first day back, just so I can remember the fleeting time they looked pristine, as by the end of the week, typical teenage appearance will have resumed!

With the majority of course/homework now being done on a computer, it may also be necessary to kit your child out with a suitable laptop, which can be eye-wateringly expensive! However, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a decent laptop; see our tips on getting a good deal on page 10.

We also have financial advice for students who are off to start a new independent life at university, page 12; and for younger children we have kid-friendly tech (which keeps the parent in control), including pocket money apps, which can help children understand money management at an early age; page 16.

With the ground still warm from the summer and moisture levels in the soil increasing, September is the perfect time to create a new lawn; Pippa Greenwood shares her expertise on page 20.

The rise of the electric car can’t be underestimated and demand is increasing by the hour, but which ones are best? We’ve put together some of the ideal all-electric cars currently on sale; page 34.

According to the Royal National Institute for the Blind, around half of all sight loss in the UK is avoidable. National Eye Health Week (NEHW) is running from the 23rd to the 29th of September this year, reminding us of the importance of eye health and the vital role regular eye tests play. To support this, our health feature details seven steps to healthy eyes; page 48.

Finally, we have two tickets to see Nigel Slater’s Toast to give away, courtesy of Royal & Derngate Theatre; competition details on page 54. Until next month…

Zoë

Northampton High School: Open Morning, Saturday 5th October 10am-1pm