Winter Stocktaking by Nicki Jackson

There are any number of reasons why you might want to change your garden: perhaps your family dynamic has changed and it’s no longer fit for purpose; or you have new neighbours and their impact has changed your relationship with your garden, or it may be that you’ve just grown tired of some aspect of it. Whatever your reason winter is a good time to take stock and assess what is working for you and what isn’t, because with many plants having died back and shrubs having lost their leaves you can really get to see the bare bones of your garden.  

We’d recommend starting by doing a rough sketch of the garden and marking on it some or all of the following information.  It’s not everything you might need and it’s not in any order but it’s enough to help start the thinking process and get a good understanding of your land.

This really is just the beginning and there’s so much we haven’t touched on, but knowing this information is key to being able to plan your garden effectively. What you do with it now is up to you, you can use it to begin discussions with your family and help you decide what it is you want and where or it can form the basis of a conversation with a garden designer.

© Nicki Jackson, Blue Daisy Gardens 2023

I Went To Wembley, But It Had Nothing To Do With Football by Tom Beasley

At the tail end of August, I spent a wild evening surrounded by 81,000 other people at Wembley Stadium. I had long assumed that my first visit to the crucible of English football would be for... well, football. But after failing to get tickets for the play-off final, it turned out that I walked the length of Wembley Way for the first time in order to go to All Elite Wrestling's biggest show ever – All In: London.

In fact, this event wasn't just AEW's biggest show ever. It was the largest paid audience for a wrestling show in history – more than any WrestleMania or Mexican lucha libre spectacular. That's probably surprising to you given that you likely haven't heard of AEW. You'll be familiar with WWE – it used to be WWF until a legal battle involving pandas – and the British events that ITV used to show on World of Sport, with the likes of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. But AEW isn't either of those things.

AEW was formed in 2019 as an upstart rival to WWE, which had dominated the American wrestling landscape for more than two decades at this point. AEW signed some big names from the world's independent wrestling scene, as well as WWE greats familiar from the 1990s and 2000s, like multi-time world champion Chris Jericho.

They've been building steam over their four-year existence and the Wembley show was their debut in the UK – perhaps a surprise it has taken so long seeing as AEW owner Tony Khan has a British link as the owner of Fulham FC. AEW has a decent audience over here thanks to the fact their weekly programming airs for free on ITV. In order to watch WWE, meanwhile, you need a very pricey subscription to TNT Sports – formerly BT Sport. These things make a difference.

That's a lot of context to get to the point I wanted to make, which is that it was a really beautiful day and a heartening occasion as a fan of an art form that doesn't often get the respect it deserves. Wrestling is often dismissed as being “fake” nonsense. It's not wrong necessarily to say that it's fake – the “fights” are collaborative and the outcomes are pre-written – but that does a disservice to the talent of the storytellers in the ring. They're crafting live, physical theatre, as well as being elite athletes.

All In featured high-flying acrobatics, intricate grappling akin to MMA or Olympic wrestling, and a blood-soaked “hardcore” match in which someone stumbled around with barbecue skewers stuck in their head. It was the most varied of variety shows, showcasing every facet of what wrestling can be.

The Wembley show felt like a rare occasion in which a large crowd assembled to celebrate the art of wrestling. I've been to other big events in the past, but they've been a fraction of the size of what AEW put on and, as a result, they felt like fairly exclusive, small-scale occasions for a group of devotees. When you're in a mass of roaring fans, though, it feels like wrestling has won on a mainstream level. There were 10,000 fewer people at the last England men's international match.

By the time the final bell rung at All In, AEW had announced that they will return to Wembley in a year's time for another mega-show. It's entirely possible that they'll beat their own attendance record and again deliver a gargantuan wrestling audience of the sort even the behemoth of WWE can seldom manage. And all this from a company that didn't exist five years ago.

I'll be there in person again next year. As an adult wrestling fan, you have to endure the sneers, chuckles, and the “isn't that just for kids?” brigade. It's so nice to be around thousands of other people who share your passion, unapologetically and at the top of their lungs. I wouldn't miss it for the world.

© 2023 Tom Beasley

Tom Beasley is a staff writer for the film/TV website, The Digital Fix, living just outside London and originally from Coventry. He can be reached at

Around The Garden In Autumn by Martin Blow

As autumn takes hold, there’s still plenty to enjoy in our garden as trees, shrubs and grasses take on their late season colour, berries and fruits ripen, and perennials have their final burst of flower.

Leaf colour comes from our Acer trees, mainly glowing amber shades from the Snake Bark Maples. These leaves will soon fall revealing the patterned bark for the winter. Dogwood leaves are now blazing in red and maroon as are the leaves of the Physocarpus bushes. Perennials like Lythrum (Purple Loosestrife) Euphorbia (Spurge) and some types of hardy Geraniums (such as sanguineum varieties) are also clothed with red and orange leaves.

The glowing orange tones are picked up by the berries of Cotoneaster simonsii and Pyracantha. Orange Dahlias like David Howard are still putting on a show as is Helenium Sahin’s Early Flowerer with its streaky orange and yellow flowers. The latter has been in flower since early July and can continue into November.

Other long blooming perennials are also still putting on a valiant show. Persicaria amplexicaulis varieties (Fleece Flower) are still a magnet for bees and hoverflies with red, pink and white types providing big drifts of the colour in our borders.

Another perennial that gives reliable continuity to the flower garden is the well-known Verbena bonariensis, the tight heads of purple flowers are still going strong and attracting all the butterflies in the neighbourhood. This tall branching plant is also a convenient support for the rather straggly Boltonia Snowbank – an unusual relative of the Asters.

The late blooming perennials like Asters, Solidago (Golden Rod), Biden aurea and Helianthus (perennial Sunflower) are still holding on but will peter out as October passes. The bronze-brown leaved Ageratina Chocolate is just opening its heads of white flower by mid-October.

Some tender perennials are still at their peak as they don’t get going until midsummer in our climate. The tall, blue Salvia atrocyanea is at its peak now with 6ft / 2m stems topped with deep blue flowers. The flowering stems of the exotic looking Lobelia tupa are still growing and new flowers are opening at 6-8ft / 180-240 cm tall. Woody Salvias species like microphylla and macrophylla are still covering in flower. My favourite is Pink Blush which has been in bloom since April or May.

Some grasses, such as the taller Miscanthus, are also just reaching flowering time and their tassel-like flowers are stunning in silhouette against the sky. Deciduous grasses like Molinia (Moor Grass) are turning orange and then fading the straw colours through October.

By the end of October, we have normally had our first air frost and plants hurry to prepare for winter by shedding leaves, flowers and seed as November approaches and it’s time to begin thinking about putting the garden to bed for winter.

Janet & I organise Plant Hunters’ Fairs, specialist plant fairs at wonderful locations. Please see for a full list of our 2024 plant fairs.

Thanks to our dedicated army of garden visitors, the 2023 takings of the Warwickshire National Garden Scheme look set to exceed £37,000, a healthy sum which will help fund the important work of our associated palliative care beneficiaries and gardening charities. These include Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Hospice UK, Carer’s Trust, the Queen’s Nursing Institute, Parkinson’s UK and Maggie’s

There may be garden owners reading this issue of Your Call who are keen to open their own gardens for these vital organisations but are unsure whether they would qualify. “The option of group openings if there are good gardens close together is always a welcome one,” comments Warwickshire NGS County Organiser Liz Watson. Village (or town) Open Garden events are always one of the most popular attractions within the NGS calendar. “I would say that the reference to friends saying how good your garden is remains one of the most important indicators. We always need a wide variety of gardens…new, familiar, walled, large, small, wildlife, formal, cottage or potager,” says Liz who opens her own garden in Kenilworth each year.

All of the criteria – along with some encouraging testimonials -  to help you decide whether to get in touch with a view to opening are listed in our helpful website at

For those readers who would like to support the work of the National Garden Scheme in other ways, Warwickshire NGS is always looking for volunteers to join the County Team which organises garden openings, please contact Liz Watson on 01926 512307 or

By Lily Farrah

Photo Credit © Lily Farrah
The Smitten family from Berkswell, well satisfied at the end of their first-ever NGS Open Day

Chronic Pain: When Our Body’s Alarm System Gets Stuck

Have you ever been rudely awakened by a blaring alarm, only to discover that there’s no emergency, there’s no break-in? Perhaps it’s just an oversensitive car alarm triggered by a few leaves falling on the car in a gust of wind. It’s annoying, isn’t it? Well, imagine if that alarm wouldn’t shut off – even days, weeks, or months later. That’s a rough comparison to how chronic or persistent pain works in our bodies.

You see, our body is incredibly smart. It has its built-in alarm system – pain. When you touch something hot or step on a sharp object, your body screams, "Ouch! Move your hand!" or "Lift your foot!" But what happens when this alarm system gets a little... overzealous? What if it keeps ringing long after the initial injury or problem has been resolved?

This is where we dive into the fascinating (and sometimes perplexing) world of chronic pain. A significant misunderstanding about persistent pain is that it's a continuous signal of ongoing damage. But, this isn't always the case. Imagine turning the volume up on your music system and then forgetting how to turn it down. The music isn't necessarily bad, but the volume certainly is uncomfortable!

Chronic pain is somewhat similar. It isn't always about an ongoing injury or damage, but more about our central nervous system (the body's music system, if you will) getting its volume settings wrong. In essence, the pain senses have been cranked up way too high, and they've become stuck in that "loud" mode. It's like your body's alarm system is constantly yelling, "Hey! Something's wrong!" even when everything's actually okay.

Now, why would our bodies do this to us? For some, it might stem from an initial injury or ailment that made the central nervous system more sensitive. Once that injury heals, the sensitivity remains, like an echo. For others, it might be related to stress, emotional factors, or other internal triggers. Sometimes, the exact reason remains elusive.

But here's the good news: just as we can adjust the volume on our music systems, there are ways to "tune down" this heightened sensitivity in our bodies. Hypnotherapy, medications, exercises and mindfulness practices can help retrain the central nervous system to find a more acceptable volume. It's like teaching the alarm to recognize when it's reacting to just a leaf and not a real break-in.

So, the next time you or someone you know talks about chronic pain, remember, it's not always about a present injury or damage. It might just be a body's alarm system that needs a little recalibrating. Let's be compassionate and understanding, for our bodies are wondrous, intricate, and sometimes just a bit overprotective. If you're someone living with chronic pain, know that there's hope. It might take some time, patience, and the right kind of help, but finding that "acceptable volume" is possible.

Stay well and keep listening to your body – even if, sometimes, you need to adjust its volume.

© Louise Hall, Louise Hall Hypnosis

Louise Hall is a Certified Professional Hypnotherapist based in Coventry, helping people to overcome issues they are struggling with, allowing them to take back control and transform their lives with hypnosis. Visit to see how hypnosis can help you.

Make An Entrance

How to add a little ‘wow’ factor to your hallway without breaking the bank. 

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, and the main bedroom is the mind as one’s private retreat, then the entrance hallway is surely the ego. 

Like a perfectly curated Instagram feed, this is where we reveal most to those on the outside of our family or friendship circles.

Whether fleetingly delivering a package, picking up a child from a playdate or visiting to spend a leisurely evening, the entrance hallway is the first and last impression we will make of our homes, so why not invest a little love into it in the following smart ways.

Smarten up your storage

If you don’t have a dedicated porch, your entrance hall can become a dumping ground for outdoor paraphernalia.

From overflowing coat hooks to overburdened shoe racks and even the odd buggy or bicycle, it’s difficult to manage the necessary bits and bobs a family need in order to leave the house. However, there are ways you can simplify and modify storage so it serves you better. 

One obvious solution is to rotate coats and shoes depending on the season so as to minimise what needs to be in the main hallway. You can also turn existing storage into something more practical, so as far as under-stair space goes, consider transforming it into a closet with rails and built-in drawers, or shelves for shoes. 

Shoe cabinets that hide the cluttered footwear within are also fantastic, particularly if they double as a bench. 

Be bold

As for what you put on decorative display, embolden your entrance hall with show-stopping pieces that immediately grab the attention.

Consider a large, grand mirror; not only will it amplify light and add dimension, it also offers one last chance for guests (and yourself) to primp before entering or leaving the house.

Unique console tables adorned with vibrant vases or sculptural art can also be stunning conversation starters; and if you have high ceilings, a dramatic pendant light or chandelier will make a lofty impact.

And don't forget about the floor – a bold, geometric patterned rug can tie the whole space together while adding a soft and welcoming touch.

Embrace existing features

Your entrance hall might, in its very fabric, find itself graced with inherent architectural features, and it’s a good idea to make the most of these.

Staircases can be highlighted with a fresh coat of paint, or by updating the balustrade with a modern design. Then, if you've got vintage tiled floors, let them shine; they're the embodiment of character.

Stained glass windows, cornicing, or even original wooden floors can be accentuated rather than hidden – they all tell a story of the home’s past, and enhancing these unique features can provide a distinctive and authentic charm to your entrance hall.

Show a little love

Finally, ensure you imbue your hall space with personal touches that not only welcome guests but also celebrate the things in life you cherish.

Display framed photos of loved ones or important life moments, or hang a gallery wall that combines family pictures with artwork you've collected over the years.

It's these personal touches that make a house a home, and while many leave such elements for the main living spaces in the house, there is no reason why you can’t express pride and passions from the very first moment you step into your cherished abode.

Top Tips To Make Black Friday And CyberMonday Work For You

In the world we live in today, for lots of people, there seems to be no ‘rush’ higher than the feeling of spending money. For good, or ill, it makes the world go round.

Black Friday and CyberMonday, on November 24th and November 27th respectively, represent both the height of temptation - coming, as they do, only weeks before Christmas - and the height of risk for those unwilling to apply reasoning to their spending.

Citizens Advice is supporting National Consumer Week this year to help consumers through this difficult period. Between October 16th and October 22nd they are promoting key messages to help consumers avoid the pitfalls of spending too much, spending without an understanding of their consumer rights, and spending in ways that could cause long term harm.

Below are well known, but worth remembering, top tips for making Black Friday and CyberMonday work for you.

(Source: The Consumer Council, 2019 -

For more information on your consumer rights and protections in general visit the Citizens Advice website at

For information on spotting, stopping and reporting scams visit your local council’s website and enter the search terms, ‘Trading Standards’ or ‘scam prevention’.

For more consumer protection advice geared specifically to Black Friday and CyberMonday go to

Finally, if you want to know more about CA’s National Consumer Campaign 2023, go to and enter the search term, ‘National Consumer Week’.

According to research published by Citizens Advice in July, one in six people (8.5 million) ended up buying something online last year they didn’t want, need, or came to regret because of online shopping traps used by some retailers.

Nobody wants to turn down a great deal before Christmas. Make sure you are in the know before making costly decisions.

By Ed Hodson
Citizens Advice South Warwickshire - Citizens Advice working in partnership across Warwickshire

Focus on Bowel Health and Bowel Cancer

Disorders of the bowel can significantly impact patients’ quality of life. The commonest symptoms that my colleagues and I consult include tummy pains, constipation, acid reflux symptoms, diarrhoea, bloating and gassiness, bleeding in poo, and from the back passage, sometimes symptoms persisting even after multiple investigations. Many of our patients are worried about bowel cancer and yet many do not present to their GPs until late.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and accounts for almost 11% of all cancers.

It is important to know that almost half of bowel cancer [54%] is preventable by healthy lifestyle and thus it is vital to make those changes in our busy lives to reduce the risk of bowel cancer.

Scientific data suggests 28% of bowel cancer is caused by eating too little fibre. This can be improved by including at least 5 types of fruit and vegetable in your diet, reducing processed foods including breakfast cereals, biscuits, cakes, bacon, ham, sausages, pies, hot dogs, pasties, canned meat, chicken nuggets, ready meals and other highly processed foods.

The NHS recommends no more than 70g of processed food intake daily. Substituting foods with whole grains, lentils, chickpeas, lean meat, poultry, fish, fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables reduces the risk of bowel cancer. Reducing processed food also helps in improving symptoms of tummy pains, constipation, bloating and gassiness in many patients.

Another preventable cause of bowel cancer is obesity which is linked to many cancers. Regular exercise, including brisk walking for 20 mins daily, reduces the risk of bowel cancer and also helps us be more active physically and improves mental wellbeing. Our lifestyle and wellbeing coaches will be able to help you get active and fitter, so please get in touch with your surgery.

Smoking can also cause bowel growths called polyps which can turn cancerous, estimated to cause almost 7% of bowel cancer, please call our smoking cessation team to help you to stop smoking, which also has many other health benefits.

Alcohol is also linked to bowel cancer, the recommended limit being 14 units throughout the week in both men and women. Cancer UK prevention advises at least 2 alcohol free days in a week to reduce risk to health.

It is important to remember key symptoms of bowel cancer and present to your surgery immediately if you have change in bowel habits, bleeding from the back passage, weight loss, unexplained tummy pains, or excessive tiredness.

Statistics suggest early diagnosis can lead to 90% chance of cure from bowel cancer. Your doctor will request blood tests and a stool test called a FIT test which analyses tiny amounts of blood in poo, which is not seen by the naked eye and, if positive, is an indicator for a camera test for the back passage called a colonoscopy which can detect bowel cancer. Early diagnosis will ensure active treatment towards a cure.

Dr Suparna Behura
GP Partner and Trainer

Monday-Friday – 8.00am-6.30pm
Tel – 01926 857331
Facebook – @CastleMedKenilworth
Twitter – @Castle_Med
22 Bertie Road, Kenilworth, CV8 1JP

Councillors will now be available for Parish Council Surgeries on the second Saturday of the month at the Parish Council foyer area, 10am-12pm, this coincides with the Saturday opening times of Bidford Community Library.

The First Thursday of the month in the Parish Council Room (in the library) 10am–1pm. Please note you must pre-book.  This provides essential advice in these difficult times and is carried out in complete confidence. Please note the library is closed on Thursdays. Full details available at

You can also book via the Clerk – email giving name, contact details and reason for the appointment. The Clerk is the Council’s GDPR Officer, and you can be assured all will be treated in the highest confidence.
Dates: Thursday 19th October and 16th November.

If you have a concern or issue about anything within the Parish, please contact the Clerk on either 01789 778653/07718 628925 or by email instead of posting on Social Media (Bidford Forum) where it may be missed and, therefore, remain unanswered or unsolved.

All meetings, which are open to the public, are held at the Parish Council Meeting Room, Bramley Way, B50 4QG (unless stated otherwise). Please note the November Parish Council meeting is held at Broom Village Hall. It is at these meetings that decisions that directly affect our village and our local community are made – so be part of it and come and see it happens.

Want to know what is happening in the village every week? Simply sign up by emailing the Clerk at and your name will be added to the Weekly Email Information list to receive an email regarding upcoming Events and Notices. As Your Call Magazine is bi-monthly, this is a good way to ensure you are up to date with everything local.

Another way the Parish Council is trying to keep the local community informed is by the use of Social Media: please follow us via Facebook (Bidford on Avon) Twitter (@Bidford_PC) and now also on Instagram (bidfordpc). A lot of information and updates are published through Social Media, so do make sure you follow us to stay informed.

Elisabeth Uggerloese – Clerk to the Parish Council

PS. Keep an eye on the What’s On website ( for events, including those at Christmas. They will also be advertised on Social Media.

My chocolate caramel soda bread isn't your ordinary loaf. Just mix, bake, sit back and enjoy.

Serves 12

1   Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas mark 6. Dust a baking tray with a little flour.

2   Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda, sugar, salt and chocolate into a large bowl and mix together.

3   Mix the vanilla paste into the buttermilk.

4   Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients, then use a palette knife to bring the dough together.

5   Drop the dough into the centre of the prepared baking tray. Using floured hands, flatten it to a square roughly 25cm x 25cm.

6   Using a sharp knife, cut into 12 squares, making sure to cut all the way down. In the centre of each square add a soft caramel and push down gently into the centre.

7   Bake for 30 minutes. Once baked, leave the bread on the tray for 10 minutes. Dust with cocoa powder and drizzle with the melted chocolate.

This recipe is from the book Nadiya’s Family Favourites, published by Penguin Books in 2018.

Stratford Christmas Lights Celebrates Its 40th Year

Stratford-upon-Avon’s famous Christmas Lights will once again be illuminating the town during the festive Season between 4pm-11pm daily from 18th November 2023 until 3rd January 2024.

The 2023 display is extra special as it marks 40 years since two local guest house owners formed a volunteer committee and arranged the first town wide Christmas Lights display.

40 years later, Stratford’s Christmas Lights are still organised by a team of dedicated, independent volunteers who organise not only the illuminations but also source all the funding needed to make them happen. The display is loved by residents and visitors alike and is thought to be one of the best in the UK and the largest, comparable to the size of the town, covering 14 streets with lights stretching from Clopton Bridge in the South of the town to Greenhill Street in the North. 

To celebrate their 40th Anniversary, Stratford-upon-Avon Christmas Lights committee have commissioned new lighting schemes for Bridge Street and Ely Street that, like the rest of the display, use the latest in energy saving LED technology and are made from recycled steel and bio print plastics that can be ground down and composted when the motifs have reached the end of their useful life.   

Please consider supporting Stratford-upon-Avon’s Christmas Lights by donating towards the cost of the display to ensure the lights keep illuminating the town for another 40 years. None of the funding is guaranteed and every penny raised goes towards the upkeep and improvements of the display. You can donate by scanning the QR code below or visiting our website

Photo credits: Con McHugh

Your Questions Answered by TaxAssist Accountants

What are HMRC’s online Time to Pay arrangements for VAT?

I have an upcoming VAT payment due and I don’t have the funds to make the payment, what can I do?


Don’t fret, HMRC have recognised that many businesses are having cash flow issues at the moment.

In this instance, we would recommend you consider the available time to pay options set by HMRC. To alleviate VAT pressures, from 31st May 2023, HMRC has been granting certain businesses the option of setting up online VAT payment plans.

These online payment plans will be available to businesses meeting the following conditions:

Should you meet the conditions, an online application can be made, hopefully aiding the immediate cash flow issues. However, as you will appreciate, the 28 day notice period does not give you much time, therefore forward planning is key.

Having an agreed plan in place will mitigate a business’ exposure to late payment penalties being issued, although interest will still be charged at HMRC's official interest rate.

If this online payment plan can’t be utilised, we recommend contacting HMRC as soon as possible to agree next steps.

Should you need guidance with your VAT affairs or managing your cash flow we are here to help.

Information supplied by Cheryl Hopkins, Chartered Certified Accountant, TaxAssist Accountants. Advice shared in this article is intended to inform rather than advise and is based on legislation and practice at the time. Taxpayers’ circumstances do vary and if you feel that the information provided is beneficial it is important that you contact us before implementation. If you take, or do not take, action, as a result of reading this article, before receiving our written endorsement, we will accept no responsibility for any financial loss incurred.

Show off your cooking skills with this surprisingly straightforward pasta dish that looks and tastes like something far fancier.

From the king of Italian cooking himself, Gino D'Acampo knows that this combination of salty, crisp pancetta with eggs and pecorino cheese is simply irresistible. 

Serves 4

1   Fill a large saucepan with 4 litres of water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and bring to the boil over a high heat. 

2   Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a small frying pan over a medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the pancetta and fry for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside. 

3   Break the eggs into a medium bowl and whisk lightly. Stir in half the pecorino and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. 

4   Cook the penne in the boiling water (uncovered) until al dente. To get the al dente perfect bite, cook the pasta 1 minute less than instructed on the packet. Stir every minute or so.

5   Return the frying pan with the pancetta to a high heat for 1 minute. 

6   Drain and tip the penne back into the pan, off the heat. Pour over the egg mixture and the pancetta with its oil. Stir for about 30 seconds to combine. 

7   Transfer to warm plates or bowls. Sprinkle over the remaining pecorino and serve immediately.

Top Tip

It’s really important to take the saucepan off the heat when you pour over the egg mixture, otherwise you’ll end up with overcooked eggs and sticky pasta. The heat from the pasta and pancetta will be enough to cook the eggs and give a creamy, moist texture. 

Is Your Mobility Scooter Winter Ready?

The nights are drawing in and the weather rapidly changing so there is no better time than now to give your mobility scooter a little winter-ready MOT.

At Move Mobility we provide scooter servicing and repairs and recommend all machines over 12 months old have an annual check.

Items such as batteries and tyres may need testing and replacing, and it is vital to ensure indicators and lights are in good working order.

If you would like us to help ensure you keep on MOVE-ING, call us on 0800 652 1515.

A few other useful tips for safe winter riding include:

Margot Robbie Interview – Blonde Ambition

Margot Robbie, at just 33, worries she may be on a downward career trajectory. The evidence, of course, suggests otherwise, with the Barbie movie propelling the Aussie actress back into the box office elite.

It’s natural for anyone, in any walk of life, to feel career anxiety and perhaps a sense of pessimism over their ability to perform.

When this is someone close to us or, worse still, ourselves, we accept the reality. We are, after all, just human, right?

Yet when the person is someone at the top table of the entertainment elite, we are maybe more surprised. How can someone who has everything feel that they might soon have nothing?

“The truth is most actors need constant proof or reassurance that they’ve still got it – whatever ‘it’ is,” begins the brilliant Margot Robbie.

“I am no different on that front. I need to keep taking chances, because standing still with the same project or the same concept is, in fact, going backwards, and I have already felt in certain moments that my career is at risk of a downward trajectory.

“It’s fair to say I will do absolutely anything to avoid that from happening.”

Her plan is working. For 2018 biopic-mockumentary I, Tonya – where she played the role of the film’s central character, American figure skater Tonya Harding – Robbie received nominations from the Academy Awards, BAFTA, Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild.

The same four also nominated her two years for their Best Actress in a Supporting Role category for Bombshell.

The Queensland-born actress has been married to Tom Ackersley since 2016, and both helped co-found production company LuckyChap Entertainment, which is behind this year’s megawatt-smile release, Barbie.

First introduced in 1959, Barbie has lived through and impacted most generations, continuing to sell globally to a fervent market of fans. At age 64 (technically), it was probably about time someone put the iconic doll on the big screen, and Robbie – along with director Greta Gerwig – was determined to be the first to succeed with a big-movie version.

“I think it’s every girl’s dream to be Barbie,” she says excitedly. “It’s also every adult’s dream to make a girl’s dream come true, so it was a very special project. Barbie has been with so many girls growing up and we know just how vital it was that we got this right.”

And get it right, Margot Robbie continues to do. With so many scene-stealing roles in the likes of Suicide Squad, The Wolf of Wall Street and Birds of Prey, it may not be accurate to say Barbie will be the actress’s most profitable venture yet; but in terms of being the most defining, perhaps…

We Don’t All Want To Buy Online!

Visit Brightmores of Burbage For Friendly and Knowledgeable Staff!

Brightmores of Burbage Ltd is a family run business that started all the way back in 1922 with our Great Grandfather, Percy Brightmore, repairing and selling bicycles from the front room of his house.

Percy, being a shrewd man, realised the potential of the radio back then, and he began selling electrical goods, one being televisions in the 1940s, serving the people of Burbage, Hinckley, Nuneaton and all the surrounding areas.

The business was then handed down to James Brightmore, known as Jim. Jim and his wife Pat continued to make the business a success. In 1986 their son Steve joined the family business, and he has been in the business ever since. Steve’s two sons also joined the company, Dan joined in 2017 and Sam joined in 2020, becoming our fourth generation, both hoping to carry on the running of the family business altogether.

Brightmores offers a very personal service. A customer may come into the store to speak to one of our helpful and friendly staff and that person may be the same person that delivers and installs the goods they bought. "Go above and beyond" is the Brightmores’ motto, as Steve the Managing Director likes to say, "We treat customers as we wish to be treated ourselves."

The company is a member of Euronics, Europe’s largest buying group, which means not only do we offer a large array of white goods including washing machines, dishwashers, fridges, freezers, ovens, etc, we also have brown goods including TVs, sound bars, etc. Our showroom has many of these on show and much more.

Being members of Euronics helps Brightmores to compete with not only the High Street but also with online stores, and contrary to some people's beliefs, we are usually cheaper than the "big" boys, when including delivery, installation and collection.

As retail seems to be moving more online, we have many customers stating that they do actually want to come into a shop and see what they are buying, to have a "human" touch, and to be able to ask questions and be helped by friendly and knowledgeable staff.

Eventually, if we keep buying online, companies like ourselves will slowly disappear. The well-known High Streets of the day are becoming less and less of a place to shop, but we don't all want to shop online! So, let’s keep family businesses and small shops running by Buying Local, at least give us a try, you may well be very surprised just how competitive we are!

Brightmores of Burbage
56-61 Sketchley Road
LE10 2DU

Window Wanderland 2024

This is a national project where people transform their neighbourhood into a magical outdoor gallery in their streets.

In January 2023 around 40 window makers in Alcester brought a great feeling of community spirit and creative joy across Alcester.

Next year from 20th to 28th January 2024, it is hoped to make the event bigger and more accessible to all in Alcester than ever before. In 2023 many visitors came from outside the town admiring the creativity of our window makers.

So, whether you are a window wanderer or a window maker, scan the QR code in the picture to find out more information

Check out our new look website!

You can now easily

• Find out who your local councillors are

• Book the Eric Payne Community Centre

• Check who to contact to report a pothole

• See latest news and events organised by the Town Council

For these and more, go to our newly refreshed website

Town Council Meetings

All Town Council meetings are held in person at Globe House, with the exception of the Planning Committee which generally meets using Zoom. All meetings commence at 7pm.

Full Council - Tuesday 3rd October & Tuesday 7th November

Planning Committee - Monday 16th October & Monday 20th November

Finance & General Purposes Committee - Tuesday 31st October & Tuesday 28th November

Members of the public are welcome to attend all Council meetings and are given time at the start of the meetings to speak. Anyone wishing to attend or ask questions is advised to contact the Town Clerk on before the meeting to obtain further details.

Agendas are published on the Town Council website at and copies can be viewed on the Council notice boards.

Alcester Town Council Contact Details

The Town Council offices are open Monday - Friday from 9am-1pm. If you have an enquiry for the Town Council, please phone 01789 766084 or email and we will respond as soon as we can.

Alcester Town Council Offices

Globe House, Priory Road, Alcester, B49 5DZ Tel: 01789 766084

Town Clerk - Vanessa Lowe:

Planning and Communication - Sarah Duran:

Health & Wellbeing - Wendy Sherwood:

Facilities Manager - Tim Forman:

Further info also available at:

Green Fingers…The Alan Titchmarsh Column

He’s a brilliant presenter, accomplished gardener, talented novelist and all-round horticultural inspiration. This month, Alan Titchmarsh asks us to explore both the minute and the supposedly mundane in our gardens.

We often marvel at the grandeur of the natural world around us, the sweeping landscapes and towering trees, but we forget that magic exists in our very own back gardens.


Building For Better Garden by Nicki Jackson

Considering having some building work done on your home? If so, now is the perfect time to factor your garden into those considerations too. As Garden Designers who often follow on after builders have left a property, we can find some pretty shocking things. Not all of the time thankfully, but enough to know it’s an industry wide problem for many homeowners so it’s good to get ahead of the game if you can, and some – if not all – of the points below are a good idea to discuss with your builder preferably at quoting stage or at the very least, a pre-build meeting.

Try be clear about what it is you want to protect right at the outset. For instance, plants and trees, family space and/or access, elements like patios or water features, etc.

If builders know at the outset what it is you’re expecting of them you can both agree how things might happen through the build, for instance:

A lot of builders will have their own set of ‘green’ credentials but it’s important to ask to see them and ask how they will look after your land whilst transforming your home. What you don’t want is to have to spend even more money needlessly dealing with contaminated soil or waste in your garden once they have left.

Existing homeowners at least have the opportunity to influence what happens in their gardens during a build. We have also designed gardens for new build properties and our experience of these gardens is quite scary; very little viable soil, ground that has been badly compacted and contaminated; buried waste, severe drainage issues and often poor-quality turf laid to cover what’s left. At the moment there’s no real legislation for builders to leave the earth in a good condition after they’ve finished so many don’t; our industry is pushing for this to happen but we’re not there yet. So, if you’re able to influence things we’d highly recommend it!

© Nicki Jackson, Blue Daisy Gardens 2023

Water Good Idea

Unveiling water's critical role in optimum health and fitness

There's a hidden agent of vitality and health, accessible to us all, yet a product so often overlooked in our fast-paced, bustling lives. This miraculous health-booster is as common as it is underestimated - water.

Water comprises about 60% of our body's constitution. This elemental substance, far from being a simple thirst quencher, plays an indispensable role in ensuring our bodies function optimally.

That’s because every cell, organ and tissue in our bodies uses water as its vital lifeline. It aids in regulating our body's temperature, lubricates joints, helps transport nutrients, and is paramount in eliminating toxins. Proper hydration empowers our bodies to operate at their best, increases cognitive function, and can even affect the quality of our sleep.

The scientific community's growing understanding of hydration's role in human health reveals compelling insights. Studies have found that even mild dehydration can alter a person's mood, energy levels and mental function.

Indeed, landmark research published in the Journal of Nutrition found that even a minor level of dehydration – around 2% of body weight – could influence cognitive abilities. The study indicated that tasks involving attention, motor coordination and executive functions became significantly impaired.

In contrast, hydration will strongly enhance athletic performance and recovery, so consumption before, during, and after exercise is instrumental in maintaining overall athletic performance.

Sleep, too, benefits from adequate hydration. According to the National Sleep Foundation, maintaining hydration can prevent nocturnal leg cramps and support sleep quality. Chronic dehydration may lead to more frequent awakenings during the night, leading to a disjointed and less restful sleep experience. This is why, when retiring to bed after a night down the pub, it’s essential to drink water if we want to enjoy a restful night’s sleep… before the hangover kicks in!

While recognising the importance of hydration is a crucial first step, practical strategies to ensure we consume the right amount of water daily are vital. Multiple studies recommend a daily water intake of about 3½ litres (or about 13 cups) for men and 2½ (about nine cups) for women. However, factors such as climate, physical activity and individual health can adjust these recommendations.

To effortlessly incorporate this into your daily routine, begin your day with a glass of water to kickstart your metabolism. Invest in a reusable water bottle and make it your constant companion. There are even smartphone apps available to help remind you to hydrate throughout the day.

Water-rich foods like cucumber, watermelon and oranges can also contribute to your daily intake.

As simple as it may sound, staying properly hydrated is an often-underappreciated cornerstone of health and wellness. The next time you reach for a glass of water, remember, you're not just quenching your thirst, but supporting an entire mass of bodily functions that keep you running at your best. What’s more, the price of water is almost negligible, so staying healthy and remaining on budget can be seen to work side by side in perfect harmony.

Who wouldn’t want to drink to that?!

Ant and Dec

Ant and Dec are widely regarded as one of the most successful TV presenting duos in the UK. Anthony McPartlin was born on 18th November 1975 and Declan Donnelly was born on 25th September 1975 both in Newcastle. The boys grew up in the same area and attended the same school, St Cuthbert’s Roman Catholic High School. (more…)

Pincushion Flowers by Martin Blow

Scabious are well loved cottage garden flowers grown to attract bees and butterflies and also as lovely cut flowers in summer. They are easily grown from seed, and some will flower in their first year. They also have some wonderful close relatives that add to the range of flowers. (more…)

The Uncertainty Of Life Reminds Us To Live Well

Marilyn Monroe, when asked what she wore in bed, answered “Chanel No 5”.  Now that is my sort of woman and I like to feel I am like her in more ways than one, however I am still looking for the second. (more…)

Size Is Everything

Effective methods for making the rooms in your home look and feel bigger.

Creating the illusion of size in a room that may not have much is all about styling an environment that’s open, clutter-free, and that feels bright and airy. Here are some tips on how to achieve the thing most of us yearn most when it comes to a home – space. (more…)

Let's Talk Dementia

944,000 people are estimated to be living with dementia in the UK. One in 11 people over the age of 65 have dementia in the UK and one in 71 in the whole population.

So what is it? (more…)

Green Fingers…The Alan Titchmarsh Column

He’s a brilliant presenter, accomplished gardener, talented novelist and all-round horticultural inspiration. This month, Alan Titchmarsh discusses the holy grail of ensuring flowers and plants flourish to their full potential – soil quality! (more…)

Beach Reads

For August, a selection of relaxing reads, perfect company for time spent relaxing on beach somewhere. (more…)

National Garden Scheme Cedar House First Opening

Since 1927, any new National Garden Scheme opening is a seasonal highlight, the throngs of appreciative visitors raising vital funds for NGS nursing charities.

On 27th August the gloriously secluded grounds of Wasperton’s Cedar House will open near Warwick, featuring four contrasting gardens - Peacock, Walled, Woodland & Paddock – with additional areas of interest including bamboo screen, swimming pool garden, arboretum and adjacent Sir Gilbert Scott church. (more…)

Conquering Anxiety And Boosting Confidence: Your Path To Awesomeness!

Life can sometimes feel like a rollercoaster of emotions, and anxiety and confidence are two aspects that can greatly impact our journey. But in this article, we’ll dive into how to easily conquer anxiety and boost your confidence. No complicated stuff! (more…)

Uncovering Garden Shelters by Nicki Jackson

Garden shelters: so many reasons to have one, so many types to choose from. ‘Shelter’ comes in many guises, meeting many needs, and some may not be what you immediately associate with the term. If you feel you’ve never needed shelter in the garden before, you might like to think again!

Here’s a quick round up of the 5 ‘W’s of garden shelters: (more…)

Edd Kimber’s Olive Oil, Pistachio And Lemon Snack Cake

Delight your afternoon tea guests with this joyous one-tin bake from The Great British Bake Off’s first ever champ, Edd Kimber.

This simple pistachio cake is made in a food processor, so it takes just minutes to prepare, and the machine does all the heavy lifting for you. Serve it with a simple lemon and sugar glaze and sprinkle with a few roughly chopped pistachios and dried rose petals. (more…)

Community News From Around Our Area

The Magic Alley Presents The Curse of Jewel Island

Immerse yourself in a land of pirates and puzzles for a brand new swashbuckling adventure!

Welcome to The Curse of Jewel Island – our exciting summer event that promises to challenge your wits and put your problem-solving skills to the test! Jewel Island is filled with sparkling diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires and the King of Jewel Island is trying to save the precious jewels from the clutches of the notorious Pirate Queen. (more…)

Community News From Around Our Area

Solihull Grandad Helps Total Climb for Warwickshire Children’s Charity

A Solihull grandad was the oldest among 60 intrepid fundraisers to conquer Ben Nevis en masse in April in aid of a Warwickshire children’s charity. (more…)

Community News From Around Our Area

100-ish Years of Girlguiding in Lapworth!

Our friends at the Lapworth Local History Group came across this photograph of the Lapworth Guides, circa 1922, so we know that there have been girls enjoying the friendship, camaraderie, community service and outdoor pursuits that Girlguiding provides for over a century in our village (on and off). (more…)

Community News From Around Our Area

Warwickshire Children’s Charity Gears Up for 180 Mile Cycle Ride in July

Following the success of last year’s charity cycle ride from York to Shrewley which raised more than £73K, Warwick-based Molly Ollys is gearing up for another similar challenge on the 7/8/9th July. (more…)

Community News From Around Our Area

Fundraisers Help Total Climb for Warwickshire Children’s Charity

Three Warwickshire friends were among 60 intrepid fundraisers who have so far raised more than £4,400 by scaling the UK’s highest peak in aid of a Warwick children’s charity Molly Ollys. (more…)

Community News From Around Our Area

What’s Happening at Kenilworth Town Council?

Following the success of the Town’s Jubilee Celebrations, the Town Council have been working with the team at the Castle and other local groups, such as the Lions, to bring celebrations into the Town once again for the Coronation of King Charles III. English Heritage chose Kenilworth Castle to be one of just three locations being used for the weekend celebrations, and the local response to their screening of the Coronation has been fantastic. This, combined with the screening of some family friendly films, made it a fun weekend for everyone. (more…)

Community News From Around Our Area

Jamboree Wood Project

Last year 18 intrepid Scouts and Explorers, between the ages of 13 – 17 years, were selected from the Coventry area to attend the World Scout Jamboree, which takes place in South Korea this Summer. (more…)

Community News From Around Our Area

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street Welcomes Deal That Will Keep Sky Blues At Their Coventry Home

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has welcomed news that Coventry City Football Club have reached an agreement to play at the CBS arena for another five years. (more…)

Community News From Around Our Area

North Warwickshire Citizens Advice - You’ve Never Been Needed More Urgently

The cost of living has increased, and individuals are facing difficult challenges. People who are already making tough choices are likely to face ever more difficult and unimaginable decisions. (more…)

Community News From Around Our Area

Local Kart Racing Sensation Aiming High in Europe

Local teen, Sam Halle-Hinxman, has spent the last 8 years racing successfully across the UK in some of the highest levels of national karting. For 2023, at only 15, Sam, who races with his dad’s team Hinxman Racing, has made the move from Junior racing into senior racing, 2 years earlier than most drivers do. Hinxman Racing compete as a privateer race team where Sam is the driver and mechanic, and his dad, Dave, is the engineer, mechanic, team manager, accountant, logistics manager, driver coach and sometimes the counsellor. (more…)

Home Style

The interior design faux pas’ that are ruining your chances of getting a spread in Ideal Homes magazine!

When it comes to home interiors it can be difficult to find your way through the clutter… literally! Trends are constantly evolving, and changing a room isn’t like changing an outfit, it takes time and money. Having said that, there are certain pitfalls that you can avoid regardless of what’s ‘in’ at the time. (more…)

Alcohol: The Pros and Cons

Settling down with a pint of beer or glass of wine can feel like one of the highlights of the week, yet tempering consumption of alcohol and understanding the risks (and occasional benefits) involved will ultimately make us happier, healthier people. (more…)

Green Fingers…The Alan Titchmarsh Column

He’s a brilliant presenter, accomplished gardener, talented novelist and all-round horticultural inspiration. This month, Alan Titchmarsh discusses an array of wildlife we may not expect to see in our gardens over the summer months. (more…)

Getting Value For Money

The top 10 ways to extract maximum value from your consumer habits.

The concept of value can be expressed in many ways, but with some smart planning, here’s how you can make it work best for you: (more…)

Cornflowers and Knapweeds by Martin Blow

We all love to see cornflowers growing wild, although it is a rare sight these days. These wildflowers are the annual Centaurea cyanus that can be grown from seed each year. There are, however, lots of perennial types that have the same shuttlecock flowers but come up year after year in the garden. Cornflowers and knapweeds all belong under the name of Centaurea which harks back to the ancient Greek legends of their healing properties. (more…)

Not Fearful But Ageing In A Caring Community

There has been much comment on Twitter since an esteemed elderly GP wrote of his fears for care in his later life and death as the NHS is less able to cope with demand. I know what he means as I see the contraction of health and social care just when bits of me, and my partner, are creaking. (more…)

The Nostalgic Joy Of Going Back To School – With Waterloo Road by Tom Beasley

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. Having spent the last six years covering the entertainment industry for work, that's something that couldn't be clearer. People love to point at things they remember and smile out of pure recognition. It's basically what carried the first of the new Star Wars movies over the line in 2015 and, as I write this, a movie built on how much people of all ages love to play Mario Kart has just earned a billion dollars at the box office. (more…)

Your Questions Answered by TaxAssist Accountants

Why should I do my self-assessment tax return early?

Are there any benefits to doing my tax return early, other than being organised? (more…)

Still Having A Laugh

He’s the celebrity that celebrities avoid, and one of our finest exports.

Many regard Ricky Gervais as national treasure; a select few consider him a national disgrace. Either way, it's hard to avoid the magnitude of the man. In his typical black t-shirt and jeans uniform, the actor, stand-up comedian, writer, producer and director is a melange of passionate sentiment, delivering fix-eyed intensity followed by a howling hyena cackle. (more…)