Double Celebrations as National Fudge Day Takes Place on Father’s Day (Sunday, 16th June)

Dads have double cause to celebrate this year as National Fudge Day this year lands on the same dayas Father’s Day (Sunday, 16th June).

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It makes sense then to reward the special father figure in your life with a lovely gift of Buttermilk’s Cornish Fudge.

For anyone looking for a delicious gift on a pocket money budget, supermarkets across the UK stock Buttermilk sharing boxes in the confectionery aisle in a range of flavours and all under a fiver:

·         Caramel Sea Salt £3.99 (Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Amazon)

Infused with tiny flakes of sea salt, our buttery Caramel Sea Salt fudge crumbles and melts in the mouth, for delicious little bursts of salt and intense caramel sweetness. This award-winning fudge is Buttermilk’s bestseller.

·         Vanilla Fudge £3.99 (Sainsbury’s, Amazon)

Wonderfully moreish and generously flavoured with natural vanilla, our award-winning, all-butter Vanillafudge is the ultimate sweet treat.

·         Pink Gin £3.99 (Waitrose)

Buttermilk has partnered with Pinkster to create a sumptuous crumbly fudge infused with British grown, gin-soaked raspberries.  The founder of Pinkster, Stephen Marsh has fond memories of choosing his favourite fudge at Buttermilk’s Padstow shop as a child in the seventies!

Tracy of Buttermilk, said: “We all want to show our appreciation for our dads but they can be so hard to buy for!  Forget the ties and socks this time around though as it makes even more sense this year to buy fudge for the man in your life as by a happy coincidence, National Fudge Day lands on Father’sDay.

“Not only does everyone love a little sweet treat now again, but we often hear that people love receiving Buttermilk sharing boxes as it reminds them of visiting one of our shops on holiday in Cornwall from the 1960s onwards.

“We’ll also be celebrating with a social media competition celebrating special dads and the adventures we share with them. Tweet your best dad-themed photos using the hashtag #Buttermilkadventures and you could be in with a chance of winning a lovely prize”.

As an artisan producer based in Cornwall, Buttermilk celebrates fudge every day, but as the company uses locally-sourced ingredients where possible and makes fudge by hand using a traditional recipe and methods – it is proud to mark National Fudge Day on 16th June every year.

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Twitter: www.twitter.com/buttermilkfudge

Insta: www.instagram.com/buttermilkconfections

 

Hungerford Summer Festival (28th June to 14th July!)

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Back for its 28th year, this year’s programme includes a wide range of live music, rip-roaring comedies, exciting drama, music, art, film and a wide variety of walks, talks and workshops for all ages.

Music includes The Red Stripe Band, The Appel Trio, The Adam Winslet Band, Kennet Opera, Opus2 Choir, Guy Masterson, Uncovered, The Derek Paravicini Quartet, Phoenix Brass, the Kennet Accordion Orchestra and the Hungerford Town Band.

Audiences are invited to make a whole night of it with delicious meals served before performances at The Croft Hall.

There is a fascinating and unique talk by specialist Nigel West about security and intelligence, not to be missed.

There is a variety of workshops which are already booking quickly; art, Qi Gong, tea light making, eco craft, cookery and drumming. There’s a farm visit to Farncombe Farm and a practical guide to honeybees; throughout all the festivities our traditional Summer Festival Art Exhibition will be at Hungerford Hub.

There is lots for children too, especially “Lego, Lego, Lego” for an afternoon of fun. Children aged 8-12 are invited to a ‘kids bake off’ event with Gert Pienaar, head chef at Blandy’s at Inglewood on Saturday, 13th July from 2-4pm at Hungerford Youth and Community Centre while teenagers are invited to a ‘teen cook-off’ with Ollie Hunter, from the Wheatsheaf in Chilton Foliat on Wednesday, 10th July from 5-8pm, also at the Hungerford Youth and Community Centre. Both cost £5 per head including ingredients and utensils and each will see a winning young chef invited to demonstrate at the Hungerford Food Festival on Sunday, 6th October.

Hungerford Summer Festival chairman Fiona Poole said: “In these uncertain times, we need to able to escape to a happy place. The Hungerford Summer Festival will enable you to do just that – whether a walk on the wild side with our very own Hugh and Lois Pihlens, or perusing the pop-up galleries to feast on amazing artworks or learning a new skill at one of our interactive workshops. We think there’s something for everyone – please come and join us!”

This year all our local organisations are involved; The Football Club, The Rugby Club, The Cricket Club, Hungerford Allotment Association, The Rose of Hungerford, The Brownies, The Bowls Club, The Tennis Club, The Camera Club, The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers(REME), The British Legion, St Lawrence’s Church, John O’Gaunt School, Rock Choir and many  more.

Many thanks for the support of our fabulous venues at The Hub, The Herongate Club, The Croft Hall, John O’Gaunt School, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Hungerford Youth and Community Centre, The Croft Field and Hungerford Corn Exchange.

Book on-line or get your tickets from Newbury Building Society in Hungerford High Street and programmes are available from most Hungerford shops and businesses.

www.hungerfordsummerfestival.com

 

 

National Hoarding Awareness Week activities in West Berkshire from 20th to 27th May 2019

A West Berkshire-based hoarding and decluttering specialist is striving to remove the stigma of a mental health condition during National Hoarding Awareness Week which takes place from 20th to 27th May.

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Jo Cooke, the founder of Tapioca Tidy and co-founder of Hoarding Disorders UK (a community interest company) is giving a series of talks to the NHS and local charities to help raise awareness of the disorder and to fight prejudice about the stigma of hoarding.

Jo will also be present at the National Hoarding Conference: New Approaches Roadshow in Birmingham which is the official launch of Hoarding Awareness Week. This year’s focus is to raise awareness of the disorder as a mental illness, and not as a lifestyle choice.

Jo estimates that there could be at least 10,000 households in the West Berkshire area who need help and she receives referrals most days. Most hoarders tend to collect newspapers, books, containers, clothes, plastic bags and animals.

Jo and her team lead a free support group meeting which takes place on Thursday, 30th May and on the fourth Thursday of each month from 7pm to 9pm at Broadway House in Newbury. Anyone who is a hoarder or whose life is affected by hoarding is welcome to attend.  Jo has also inspired other support groups around the country to be formed and is instrumental in setting up new groups this year to be launched in Reading, Oxford and Swindon.

Jo said: “We welcome anyone to our support group who would like to discuss hoarding without judgement. We offer a safe place to talk and to reduce the stigma of hoarding. Unfortunately, owing to some television programmes that show the very worst side of hoarding, there’s a perception that hoarders are dirty and smelly which is not the case. We want to treat people with compassion and patience, not punishment.”

One former hoarder who attends the Newbury group said: “I used to have a hoarded house, in which none of the rooms apart from the bathroom were suitable for their original use. It was obvious that something had to be done, and that really it was down to me.

“Having made a good start with support from my family, I joined Jo’s hoarding support group and this has proved very motivational, reassuring and supportive. The group provides a safe and secure place for people with hoarding behaviours, and those supporting them.

“Talks and techniques bring a new perspective to dealing with the items themselves and the feelings and behaviours involved. There are talks from Cruse on bereavement, and talks on mindfulness, fire, health and safety, and stress control. But the most useful parts of the meetings are those when people just talk to each other. Feedback from those who attend indicates that they no longer feel as if it is ‘just them’, that others are in a similar situation. They feel more able to discuss the issues involved, as the people attending really understand what is going on. Ideas and techniques are exchanged and these spark enthusiasm and determination.”

National Hoarding Awareness Week also marks the second anniversary of the launch of Jo’s book “Understanding Hoarding”, an expert guide to helping a hoarder.  She will be giving tips and advice from the book on social media throughout National Hoarding Awareness Week.

 

Six best business books as recommended by West Berkshire SMEs

If you’re on the lookout for some business books, then our recent West Berkshire hour Twitter chat threw up some interesting reading suggestions.

We had a teacher among our participants, so some slightly unusual recommendations:

  1. Drive by Daniel H Pink – “Particularly good if you manage staff…”

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2. Linchpin by Seth Godin – “Why it’s so important to make yourself indispensable and put everything you can into your work.”

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3. For entrepreneurs with big ideas: A travel guide from big idea to business case by John Jukes – “a witty and readable guide for youngsters wondering whether self employment is for them and how to go about it” 

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4. Creative Schools: revolutionising education from the ground-up by Sir Ken Robinson  – “A  vision on how schools could be transformed to ensure that all children flourish”

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5.  Purple cow – transform your business by being remarkable – Seth Godin

How to stand out from the crowd and make your business truly exceptional

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7. The four hour work week – Tim Ferriss – “an absolute game changer – I realised that for years, I’d been working for years to make someone else rich”

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So, please let us know of any that we missed that should be on the list and let us know what you think of the books here. Also, if you’re local to West Berkshire and want to network without leaving your house, then please come and join us! We chat on Twitter every Wednesday from 7pm to 8pm using the hashtag #wberkshour

 

Please note there may be affiliate links in the post.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at The Base

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We made it to The Base, the new arts centre at Greenham Business Park!

I was keen to visit the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition which is on tour at Greenham until 28 April.

We made it at 3.59pm – last entry is at 4pm – but it was worth being windswept! The images were incredible, although the first ones were saw were fairly brutal – a monkey holding its dead baby and another featuring animals holding a baboon’s face werequite disturbing.

But nature is as cruel as it is beautiful and these 100 pictures certainly were beautiful. The competition attracted more than 45,000 entries and were shortlisted down to 100 – can’t imagine the magnitude of this job.

We were amazed by the amazing variety of the pictures and DS is already thinking very differently about the natural world and the impact us humans have on it.

 

Buttermilk’s new FREE FROM Easter eggs

  • Confectioner introduces two new ‘free from’ Easter eggs – Choc Honeycomb and Choc Orange (185g)
  • Gluten free, wheat free, dairy free and suitable for vegans
  • Exclusively available in Sainsbury’s supermarkets from 24th February – RRP £5.99

 

Everyone can enjoy Easter now that Buttermilk has unveiled new ‘free from’ Easter eggs for 2019 in Choc Honeycomb and Choc Orange flavours.

With strong demand for the confectioner’s original collection of Easter eggs, Buttermilk has now developed two new ‘free from’ flavours so that so that no one needs to miss out owing to dietary restrictions. The new eggs are free from dairy, gluten and wheat and are suitable for vegans.

The Buttermilk Choc Honeycomb Easter egg is made from alternative milk chocolate with honeycomb pieces and decorated with a white chocolate alternative. Meanwhile, the Buttermilk Choc Orange is made with an alternative milk chocolate flavoured with orange oil and decorated with an orange and white chocolate alternative.

Each is 185g and with an RRP of £5.99 available exclusively at Sainsbury’s supermarkets.

Buttermilk managing director Tracy McDonnell Goad said: “This is a very proud moment in the history of Buttermilk. We’ve been creating delicious treats for more than 50 years so it’s fitting that we can now extend our range for anyone with dietary requirements.”

It’s open! MrsB’s Kitchen Cafe open in Faraday Road, Newbury

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A dream has come true for West Berkshire caterer Emma Benson who has officially opened the doors to her new café in Faraday Road, Newbury.

MrsB’s Kitchen Café is located in the former Crescent Signs warehouse and the venue has been turned into a welcoming space which is now open for breakfast, lunch and fabulous coffee seven days a week.

Mrs Benson has run a catering firm in Newbury for more than 15 years and felt the time was right to open the doors to her new venue for café customers. Each of the 30 seats inside the café gives a fantastic view of the activity in the kitchen, so customers are truly at the heart of the business.

Breakfast comprises homemade pastries, sausage rolls and bacon sandwiches while the lunch menu changes daily with salad boxes available to eat onsite or take away. Mrs Benson is particularly passionate about catering for a range of dietary requirements including vegetarian, vegan and dairy-free options.

Mrs Benson said: “I am thrilled to finally be opening the doors to Mrs B’s Kitchen Café as it’s been a dream for many years. I’m so grateful to everyone who has supported us along the way, particularly my family and our fantastic team of staff.”

As well as informal dining, there is a meeting room that can be hired and a bespoke room for event tastings. Mrs B’s Kitchen Café has a minimal waste policy and aims to be as sustainable as possible.

Mrs Benson said: “After much anticipation, we are finally able to throw up the shutters and show you what we have done with a big empty warehouse. We offer wholesome lunches and salad boxes that will keep you going, whether you’re a regular who lives nearby or an office worker taking a break from work. Everything is made from scratch on site and ingredients are sourced locally where possible. The menus change every day, so you’ll be able to see what the specials are on social media or on the chalk boards outside.”

Click onto www.mrsb.kitchen for more information and opening hours.

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Cleveland Pools in Bath

I still love you Newbury Lido, but I have to admit that my head has been turned!

Bath’s tourist office is currently running tours to a hidden gem – Cleveland Pools. This is an outdoor pool that dates back to 1815, but has sat unloved since 1984. A group of passionate locals plan to restore this Georgian gem which will be heated in the summer and then remain open (unheated) through the winter, with a scheduled opening date of Easter 2021.

There are weekly tours taking place every Tuesday morning from the tourist office, and it just so happened that I was lucky enough to be the only person.  Undeterred, my amazing guide Sally gave me a personal walking tour through the streets of Bath to the site, sharing her incredible insights and stories along the way. A particular favourite was hearing about the Superintendent of the pool in the 1860s, diving into the pool from 100ft up, wearing a top hat!

If you love swimming, Bath, or even heritage, then I highly recommend this tour. And I’ll see you at the pool in 2021!

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Happy 90th birthday to Tintin!

“Billions of blistering blue barnacles!”

Quoting Tintin’s friend Captain Haddock, small son starts running when he sees the angular frontage of Musee Hergé. After taking the train to a small town outside Brussels, and walking through a grey shopping centre, Tintin’s profile, peering into the distance is a welcome sight, whether you’re a fan or not.

With his enduring energy, distinctive quiff and exuberance, it’s hard to believe that comic strip hero Tintin first appeared in 1919, captivating children from several generations. The 90th anniversary of his first appearance as a comic strip in Le Petit Vingtieme seemed like a good excuse to take my Tintin obsessed son to the spiritual home of everything Georges Remi, Tintin’s creator.

The building is quite a sight, with high ceilings and angular colourful walls, complete with poured concrete floors and feels like a fitting tribute to Herge’s massive creative output.

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The first room shows his early life and his early illustrations which give a flavour of what was to come, leading into another room on Herge’s advertising work, before you descend a floor and find yourself immersed in the world of Tintin.

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There’s lots to see, and small son wasn’t sure where to start. There’s plenty of pictures, early drafts and facts about the creator and his most famous work, including info on the characters -not just his beloved dog Snowy (known as Milou in the original) and constant friends Captain Haddock, Professor Calculus plus ne’er do well ‘twins’ Thompson and Thomson, but also the wealth of background characters that appear in the 24 books.

We had incredible fun having a picture taken in the midst of a Tintin scene, and there are interactive elements, plus models of the shark submarine from Red Rackham’s Treasure and a rocket model, used as the inspiration for Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon.

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Although small son was eyeing up a 5,000 Euro Tintin model in the gift shop, we managed not to spend anything in here. It’s still worth a browse as is the on-site café. We both danced back to the train to Brussels eager to re-read the books.

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We stayed at the Hilton Bruxelles City, just north of the centre after a painless Eurostar journey from London. Travelling around Brussels is affordable and easy, with efficient trams, trains and buses, reasonably clear signage and plenty of helpful English speakers around. We stayed overnight before taking the train on a Sunday to the small town of Louvain-la Nouvelle, not to be confused with Louvain (Leuven). We’re grateful to Sally Murray Travel Counsellors for doing all the bookings for us!

Musee Herge is giving a day of free entry on Sunday, 6th January, but admission is usually 12 Euros for adults. Closed Mondays.

How to avoid selling the family home to pay for care

We’ve all heard the traumatic stories of people being forced to sell their family homes to pay for astronomical care fees. The subject of elderly care, writing a will and what happens to our estate when we die is never an easy one, but with just a bit of planning, unnecessary fees and a lot of stress can be avoided.

Sam Francis of Assured Wills is an expert in this field and helps families to protect their estates to ensure they can pass as much as possible onto their families.

He says: “Fees for end-of-life care are affecting more ordinary families than ever before. In the past, few gave much thought to having to pay for care fees as they were unlikely to live long enough for this to be a problem. Nowadays, the burden for financing social care has now fallen to the individual who requires it, and the local authority where they live.

“The average cost of a week’s care in a residential home is now nearly £1,000, so it doesn’t take long before you lose significant wealth to pay for nursing care.”

  • If your estate is below £14,520, then the local authority will pay for your care.
  • If you have between £14,250 and £23,250, then you will pay a proportion of the cost of your care on a sliding scale.
  • However, any savings, investments and assets over £23,250 mean that you will pay 100% of your own care should you require it.
  • If you own your home and, by taking residential care, you will be leaving it empty, then the value of the house will be included as an asset that can be sold to pay for the care.

According to Mr Francis there are three important steps to protecting your estate and your home when you die. These are perfectly legal and accepted in estate planning.

The first is to ‘sever the tenancy’. Usually people buy together as a Joint Tenancy meaning they own the property as a couple. This meant that should either of them die, the remaining partner will own the whole property.

If you sever the tenancy means each has a 50% share and if one partner dies, they can pass their share in their will to someone other than the surviving spouse. The process of Severing the Tenancy is straightforward and involves each of them signing a written statement and submitting a form to the Land Registry.

The second step is to make sure that on the first death, the property passes into a protective will trust. This is a trust such as a Property Protection Trust (PPT) which guarantees a right of residence to the survivor so they can continue to live in the property. And on the second death, it will benefit the children and grandchildren. As a side-effect of this trust, it is highly likely that the entire value of the home would not be included in an assessment for care fees.

A great advantage of this type of trust is that should either remarry after their spouse’s death then the home would be protected from forming part of the new marital assets which means that any new husband or wife would not have any legal right to inherit any part of the family home that is in the Trust. Anything tied up in the Trust would also be protected from divorce or bankruptcy.

Mr Francis added: “We have recently worked with a family where the husband died very suddenly and unexpectedly and everything was left to his wife. Unfortunately, she suffered a stroke very soon afterwards and needed residential care.

“The local authority decided that she needed to pay all of her care fees and that the family home should be sold to pay for this. They have worked so hard all of their lives and wanted to pass on their inheritance to their children so they could get onto the housing ladder or pay for university.

“The tragedy is that others in the same care home have constructed their wills differently when both partners were fit and well so that half of the house passed into a protective trust and meant that only savings were used to pay for care. When they had nearly run out of saving, the state stepped in and covered the cost of care. It seems so unfair and a real catalyst to ensure everyone has proper advice on getting their affairs in order.”

For more information and to find out more about how to plan to avoid care fee costs, visit www.samfranciswillsoxford.co.uk