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By Andrena Carden-White, Apr 8 2016 08:48AM

Spring is the perfect time to explore a new area, and there are certainly plenty of events planned across the UK this Easter to tempt you on to the road. For starters, you could head to the Isle of Skye on April 29th for a weekend of live music; more than 30 acts are planned and weekend tickets are a steal at £95. Or maybe you fancy taking in some truly breath-taking scenery? If so head to the Scottish Highlands on May 21st , for a coast-to-coast classic car tour with The Rotary Club of East Sutherland.

Kids will love to explore the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, with its outdoor sculptures, rope bridges and ‘jungle’. Or how about a trip to Escot in Devon, where they can run riot through the maze, see otters being fed, watch wild bird displays and play hide ‘n’ seek in the woods? Book into nearby Yellingham Farm B&B, or camp at Crealy Meadows Caravan and Camping Park, where you can also take advantage of the adventure park, with its huge indoor play area, sandpits and rides for all the family.

A good day trip can feel like a mini-break in itself. National Trust properties are usually a pretty safe bet. Choose between castles, forts and other historic buildings, or just spend a few hours wandering through the parklands or gardens. Cliveden in Buckinghamshire is a good choice for garden lovers: its Italianate Long Garden has been planted with some 20,000 sweet-smelling hyacinths, while the Water Garden will be awash with cherry blossom, wisteria and magnolias.

Or why not just pack a picnic and head off to the beach or woods? Check out Walking Britain for some inspiration.

If you fancy going a bit further afield, try Morzine in the French Alps. In the winter it is a popular skiing destination, but at this time of year it’s quieter. The scenery is still stunning though, and there’s certainly plenty to keep you busy. The mountain biking trails are among the best in the world, but there are also plenty of more leisurely sports to enjoy, including golf.

How about nabbing a last minute cruise deal? The Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas starts from just £569 for nine nights, and calls at Naples, Sicily and Malta to name a few destinations.

If you crave the sun, Dubai is a good bet, with temperatures in April reaching 32°C. Wander around the street markets, from the Gold Souk, to Deira Fish Market, and then have a coffee in the Ramada Dubai hotel where you can admire one of the world’s tallest stained glass windows. You’re pretty spoiled for places to stay in the UAE, but the Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf at Madinat Jumeirah is a great choice, as it’s one of the top rated hotels on Trip Advisor.

By Kate Duggan

By Andrena Carden-White, Feb 29 2016 11:19AM

Lovely Lilies (and a spot of hard-pruning)

The first day of spring this year is officially March 20th . Trees are blossoming and daffodils are in bloom. The garden has woken up from its winter sleep and is full of promise.

But promise is not enough. A beautiful garden does not happen by chance. So what are the top jobs for March gardeners?

Pruning features large! Hard-prune those late flowering shrubs like Buddleia, Leycesteria and Lavateria, but only if the risk of heavy frost is past.

Spring-flowering plants such as Forsythia and Winter Honeysuckle should be pruned immediately the flowers fade.

If you haven’t already pruned your bush roses, now is the time. Leave about an inch of last year’s growth to encourage bushiness and lots of flowers. Shrub roses don’t need such radical treatment but would benefit from losing a third of their old, thick, woody stems.

Lift congested clumps of snowdrops while they still have leaves showing.

Finally, stay on top of the weeds. If you leave them, weeding quickly becomes an insurmountable chore.

Ok, we’ve dispensed with the hard work, now it’s time to look ahead.

I have one word for you...Lilies.

I always thought they were tricky to grow, and so they proved, mainly because my garden doubles as a slug sanctuary!

Then I had an epiphany. It dawned on me that if I grew them in pots, slug prevention would be easier, plus I didn’t run the risk of slicing through the fat, scaly bulbs or tender shoots with my hoe while enthusiastically weeding my plot. Even better, it means you can grow them even if you only have a balcony.

There are loads of varieties in the garden centres right now. Three bulbs fit nicely into an 8inch / 20cm pot and five fit into a ten inch / 25cm pot. I’ve found terracotta pots best because they provide enough weight to prevent these tall plants tipping over.

Lilies need an open planting mixture which drains well so I use a mixture of potting compost plus a soil-less multi-purpose compost. The bulb tips should be a couple of inches below the compost.

Keep in a sheltered spot and water when the surface of the compost looks dry. Once the buds have formed, feed weekly with dilute tomato food until late summer. When the blooms fade, cut the stems down and place in a sheltered spot.

Each spring, scrape away a couple of inches of compost and add fresh mixture, then repeat the instructions above. Treated like this your lilies will reward you for three or four years before they need re-potting.

There are a plethora of colours and scents available, so there is a lily for everyone. Try them. I guarantee you’ll be as in love with lilies as I am.

By Rachel Leverton

By Andrena Carden-White, Jan 27 2016 05:04PM

This year's FSB Bedfordshire Business Awards will be declared open next week to entries from all companies and sole traders in the county with the theme of “changing up a gear”.

Bedfordshire's businesses have ridden out the recession and are now ready to take advantage of the opportunities the future will bring.

Business leaders have been invited to the launch of this year's awards on Wednesday, February 3 at Basepoint, Great Marlings, Luton.

The competition is free to enter and open to all businesses based in Bedfordshire. They do not have to be an FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) member to enter but they must be sole traders or have fewer than 250 employees at the time of entering. There will be a range of categories to consider.

Ian Cording, chairman of the Bedfordshire branch of the FSB, said: “The county's businesses are lean and fighting fit and will be keen to shout about their achievements and plans for 2016 and beyond.

“Entering awards is the best kept secret in marketing; they can provide a fantastic return on investment so we urge everyone to get their entries rolling in.”

For more details visit

By Andrena Carden-White, Dec 18 2015 10:40AM

Leighton Linslade Concert Band joint Christmas Concert with the Linsdale Singers. was a huge success with congestion in the surrounding streets and by 7:30pm it was standing room only as everyone enjoyed the music and mulled wine.

The bucket collection for Leighton's Homeless and Sacred Heart raised £360. well done everyone, particularly the musicians, singers and the Sacred Heart fundraisers who took care of the hall arrangements.

By Andrena Carden-White, Dec 7 2015 01:40PM

U-559 emerging from the Mediterranean, 30 October 1942 ©The Petard Associat
U-559 emerging from the Mediterranean, 30 October 1942 ©The Petard Associat


The Petard Pinch in Hut 8 at Bletchley Park opens with an exclusive preview for Friends of Bletchley Park on Sunday 13 December, marking a historic anniversary. It will be open to all Bletchley Park visitors from Monday 14 December.

This exhibition will tell the incredible story of the capture of crucial Enigma codebooks. These enabled Bletchley Park to break back into the German naval Enigma network codenamed Shark, following a devastating ten-month blackout. The Admiralty could then re-route vital convoys coming in from the USA, saving thousands of tons of shipping and countless lives.

On 30 October 1942, Lt Tony Fasson and Able Seaman Colin Grazier, along with NAAFI canteen assistant Tommy Brown, made their way towards the stricken U-559, which was sinking after being hit by depth charges for ten hours.

While the U-boat was gradually filling with water, Fasson and Grazier boarded the submarine and handed various Enigma ‘treasures’ to Brown on the U-boat’s conning tower.

The U-Boat sank, taking Fasson and Grazier with it, while Brown was rescued by the crew. Their bodies were never recovered.

The demand for intelligence was never more closely linked to heroic sacrifice but Fasson and Grazier did not die in vain. Just three weeks later the vital documents taken from the U-559 arrived at Bletchley Park. On 13 December 1942, Hut 8 broke back into Shark, unlocking vital intelligence about the U-Boats’ movements.

Bletchley Park’s Research Historian, Dr David Kenyon, says “The achievements of the crew of HMS Petard in October 1942 were vital to the Allies' success in the war at sea. The documents they captured allowed Bletchley Park to read German U-Boat codes for the first time in nearly a year, and to continue to do so for the remainder of the war. As a direct result the Battle of the Atlantic against the U-boats was effectively won in 1943, paving the way for D-Day in 1944 and eventual Allied victory.”

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