Books and Gifts

Sixtyplusurfers Book Review

My Life by Gloria Hunniford

Review By Simon Fine

Gloria Hunniford is one of Britain’s best known TV and radio personalities with a broadcasting career spanning six decades. Growing up in Portadown in Northern Ireland, she had her first taste of show business aged seven alongside her father, who performed as a magician.

At seventeen she spent time in Canada and, on her return home, she began an illustrious and varied career at Ulster TV and BBC Ulster becoming a fixture on both radio and TV, especially with her nightly show, Good Evening Ulster. During that time she developed both as a news reporter at the height of the Troubles and as a presenter in the magazine format of television, including learning the skills of celebrity interviewer.

A brief spell covering for Jimmy Young in 1982, led to her becoming the first woman to have a daily radio programme, presenting on BBC Radio 2 for the next 13 years. She was then offered her first chat show and Sunday, Sunday launched her into the homes of millions of people, as she interviewed some of the greatest stars of our time, including Andy Williams, James Stewart, Sophia Loren, Bette Davis, Charlton Heston, Doris Day, Audrey Hepburn and Sean Connery.

Most recently Gloria continues to demonstrate her prodigious work ethic as a panellist on Loose Women and presenting the daily consumer programme Rip-Off Britain.

But despite her outstanding career, Gloria’s family is her greatest passion and this is reflected in her autobiography. She is a proud mother and grandmother and she tells us in loving detail about her parents, siblings and her two marriages.

She also recalls the tragic and painful loss of her daughter, Caron, to cancer. This loss inspired Gloria and her family to launch a highly successful charity in Caron’s name, and this led to Gloria being awarded an OBE in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

On a lighter note, Gloria has developed some strong, long term friendships with entertainers such as Cliff Richard and Howard Keel and there are some delightful stories about people she has interviewed and worked with.

What I particularly enjoyed about Gloria Hunniford’s autobiography is that her story is told as if she were in the same room as the reader, chatting in her unique style. I enjoyed reading about her career, her family and her friendships and I am sure that many readers will feel the same.

Gloria Hunniford OBE is one of the most prolific and talented British broadcasters, with a career spanning seven decades. She presents BBC consumer programmes including Rip-Off Britain. She regularly appears on This Morning and The One Show as well as being one of the presenters of Loose Women for ITV.

Gloria has won many prestigious awards during her long career, the latest being her OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2017. She is a patron of a number of charities and dedicates much time to the causes she supports including The Caron Keating Foundation, which Gloria founded in honour of her daughter Caron.

My Life by Gloria Hunniford is published by John Blake Books. Price is £8.99  for the paperback.

For more information about the book visit the website at 

Sixtyplusurfers Book Review

Spitfire: A Very British Love Story

Review by Simon Fine

Britain’s greatest warplane, the Spitfire, was crucial in securing victory in World War II. First produced in 1938, delays in production meant that the German air force had superior numbers of fighters at the outbreak of war.

However the Spitfire was able to play a vital role in the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940 and, as production increased and technical innovations gave the Spitfire greater speed, fire power and manoeuvrability, the Spitfire played significant roles in winning the battle for air supremacy defending the country throughout the Battle of Britain and then further afield in the campaigns in Malta, the D-Day landing, North Africa, Italy and the Far East.

Although the Spitfire ceased firing its guns in anger in 1951, the Spitfire has a unique place in military aviation and in the hearts of the British and their allies.

John Nichol’s latest book tells the story of the Spitfire and some of the crews who flew her. He relates edge-of-the-seat first-hand accounts of Spitfire pilots in deadly combat with German fighters over the skies of Kent and Sussex and subsequently over mainland Europe and beyond.

We hear the tales of pilots forced to bail out over occupied territory. There are stories of sacrifice, loss of friends and colleagues and family members killed in action. Stories of wartime love, some cut short by death, some which endured long after the War. There are also accounts of aristocratic female flyers, and of the mechanics who braved the Nazi onslaught to keep the aircraft in battle-ready condition.

The story of Spitfire is the bond between this much loved and respected fighter and the incredibly brave and heroic pilots who flew her. In researching his book, John Nichol met several of the wartime pilots who flew Spitfires.

Now in their 90s, their stories are remarkable and John tells us about their lives after the war. Some of them are re-united with their beloved Spitfires for one final flight, which is very emotional.

For those of us fortunate to have grown up in a period of peace, this book takes us back to experiences beyond the comprehension of most of us. A story that is well worth understanding.

Author, John Nichol

During 15 years’ service in the Royal Air Force John Nichol flew Tornadoes in both the Air Defence and Ground Attack roles. John has written for UK national newspapers and is a widely quoted commentator on military affairs.

John is the author of 14 books including the Sunday Times best-seller Tornado Down which describes his ordeal as a prisoner-of-war. His latest books are works of World War II history.

Spitfire: A Very British Love Story by John Nichol is published by Simon & Schuster. Price is £20 for the hardback.

For more information about the book visit

Sixtyplusurfers Book Review

How to Be a SuperAger

Review by Simon Fine

Ageing is inevitable but stagnation is optional. So says Angela Lucas in her new book, How to be a SuperAger. And this is the philosophy that underpins Angela’s writing. 

Despite it being her 82nd birthday, Angela challenged herself to hike 100 kilometres in Spain’s Galician mountains. Walking the ancient Camino de Santiago route with a heavy backpack, she faced adventures with other pilgrims, a close encounter with sticky mud, steep climbs and blistering midday heat.

But despite the physical exertion and challenges, Angela completed the walk and was rewarded with a feeling of exhilaration from her achievement and from meeting fellow travellers who had overcome their own personal challenges.

Taking on a daunting hike was symbolic of how Angela has tackled the adventures and challenges of the third age. These are challenges that face many of us. Angela addresses important life questions for those in their 50s and beyond.

As our working lives come towards the end, children are no longer dependent on us for their every day needs, it can leave an emptiness and questions of what now, what next and what has it all been about? But far from settling into comfy slippers, if we accept new challenges, a purposeful new life adventure begins.

Of course our personal circumstances vary and choices may be restricted by poor health or responsibilities for caring for elderly parents or grandchildren. But we can all set goals and find purpose and satisfaction in achieving them.

What I particularly found inspiring about Angela’s words is that she sets a fine example of moving forward in her 50s and beyond by adopting a positive attitude, making the most of every day, taking bold options but being willing to accept help.

She is also an advocate of becoming a good listener and encourager of other people. Her story is uplifting and her attitude will inspire many readers.

Author, Angela Lucas

Angela Susannah Lucas spent her wartime childhood years in Rhyl in northern Wales. Alongside marriage and the birth of her five children, she followed a career in nursing.

In her 50s redundancy encouraged a change in career prompting study for the Private Secretary’s Certificate, this leading to work in Saudi Arabia as a medical secretary and later as a TEFL teacher in Egypt teaching English while attempting to learn basic Arabic.

Retirement gave opportunity for further study, first for A Level English, followed by university and three consecutive degrees. To celebrate her 82nd birthday Angela hiked the final 100 miles of the ancient Camino de Santiago in the Galician mountains of northern Spain.

How to be a SuperAger by Angela S Lucas is published by Panoma Press. Price is £12.99 for the paperback.

For more information about the book visit the website at

Must Buy for the Summer

Whimsical Fashion Colouring Book

Get colouring and release your inner fashionista with The Whimsical Fashion Colouring Book by Natasha Itzcovitz. Perfect for all the family, this stylish colouring book includes 100 beautifully drawn fashion illustrations to spark the imagination of everyone who enjoys fashion, history and style.

Illustrations in the book include  historical characters, cute animals, fairytale princesses, pirates, people with interesting pastimes and professions, and fashionable street style characters.

Perfect for taking on holiday or enjoying while waiting at the airport. A great gift for children and adult relaxation. Price is £8.99.

The Whimsical Fashion Colouring Book is published by Troubador.

Buy it now at Amazon


Sixtyplusurfers Book Review

Beautiful Liars

Review By Jenny Itzcovitz

Eighteen years ago, Martha said goodbye to her best friend, Juliet on a moonlit towpath. The next morning, Juliet’s bicycle was found abandoned at the waterside. She was never seen again.

Nearly two decades later, Martha has become a TV celebrity and is preparing to host a new crime show, delving into historic cases. The first case will be that of missing student, Juliet Sherman.

After all these years, Martha must reach out to old friends to try to piece together the final moments of Juliet’s life. But what happens when your perfect friends turn out to be perfect strangers?

As soon as I started reading this book I was drawn in by the fascinating personality of Casey, a damaged woman who tells her part of the story, and Martha who is trying to find out what has happened to her missing childhood friend, Juliet.

As part of Martha’s investigations, she also has to work with Toby, a young TV presenter who at first, she feels isn’t up to the job. But slowly warms to him as they begin to work as a team.

I really enjoyed piecing together the fragmented pieces of the puzzle as we watch Martha at work, tracking down the people who knew Juliet as a child when she worked at square wheels as a volunteer giving food to the homeless.

Cleverly constructed, as we switch from different narratives, the story is peppered with atmospheric photographs, and engaging dialogue. Everything is not as it seems. And there are secrets that each person is keeping from the other.

A gripping exploration of friendship and twisted family secrets, this is a thought provoking detective story, that will stay with you long after you have finished the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope we see more of Martha, as she solves other cold cases on her TV show.

Author, Isabel Ashdown

Isabel Ashdown was born in London and grew up on the south coast of England. She is the author of four novels and winner of the Mail on Sunday Novel Competition.

After giving up a successful career in product marketing to study English at the University of Chichester, her debut GLASSHOPPER was published and named as one of the best books of the year by the Observer and the London Evening Standard.

She has a first class degree in English and an MA in Creative Writing with distinction. In 2014 Isabel was Writer in Residence at the University of Brighton, where she taught on their Creative Writing M.A.

Along with dachshund Leonard, she is a volunteer for Pets as Therapy, as part of their Read2Dogs scheme. Isabel lives in West Sussex with her carpenter husband, two children and their dogs.

Beautiful Liars by Isabel Ashdown is published by Trapeze. Price is £7.99 for the paperback and eBook.

For more information visit the website at

Sixtyplusurfers Book Review

The Memory
Activity Book

Review By Jenny Itzcovitz

Over 850,000 people live with dementia in the UK (source: Alzheimer’s Society), so it’s likely that this disease will affect most of us at some stage.

As described by Angela Rippon, whose mother suffered from Alzheimer’s, “We now know so much more about how to support and stimulate those affected by this cruel disease. How to keep memories alive. Challenge the brain to keep our “little grey cells” active. Combat isolation and loneliness amongst those with dementia, and their carers, and ensure that they remain active and valued members of society.”

But while we know that keeping active physically and mentally can help slow and delay the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, family, friends and carers often struggle to know what to actually do.

The Memory Activity Book is a very practical resource with over 50 ideas and projects designed to stimulate and entertain, helping to combat symptoms of dementia from memory loss to disorientation.

Each project has clear visual instructions and examples of how to perform each activity, including suggestions of how to adapt it for different stages of dementia or how to involve family and friends.

Activities include physical exercises, games, craft projects and leisure pursuits, as well as ideas on how best to interact with people affected by memory issues. Dementia care specialist Helen Lambert explains how each activity benefits the person emotionally and physically.

The Memory Activity Book is a unique book aimed at both people with dementia or memory loss as well as their families and carers.

Caring for someone with dementia can be a difficult and emotional experience, it can also be costly with so many different products to buy and solutions to help those affected. So this useful book is a great source of inspiration with lots of inexpensive ideas to try such as crafts to make, outdoor activities, simple activities and plenty of helpful tips such as making memory labels and signs.

There are plenty of ideas for those with all levels of memory loss varying from simple puzzles and games to make at home, exercise tips, relaxation techniques, and ways to avoid loneliness and isolation. With a comforting foreword by Angela Rippon, a useful resources section, and plenty of simple and rewarding activities, this is a great resource for carers and those living with dementia.

The book is bright, positive, fun and easy to follow.  Packed with stunning and helpful photographs, many of the activities involve help and supervision, depending on the individual’s level of dementia, so this is a good book for family, friends, partners, and carers as well as those who are concerned about the onset of dementia and slowing its progression.

About the Authors

Helen Lambert is an Independent Occupational Therapist with over 25 years’ experience within Britain’s National Health Service, and now provides bespoke personal training courses for the health, social care, and third sector and is a Teepa Snow PAC Certified Trainer.

Driven by the memory of her grandmother, Helen is passionate about using her personal and professional experience to improve the provision of person-centred care, and is committed to supporting all who live with dementia – both those who have been diagnosed, and the families and friends around them.

Angela Rippon is an award-winning journalist who has embraced a variety of programmes on both radio and television for both Commercial and BBC stations in Britain, America and Australia. Angela became an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society after caring for her mother Edna who had dementia, and who died in 2009.

Angela co-chairs The Prime Minister’s Champion Group on Dementia Friendly Communities, which focuses on improving inclusion and quality of life for people living with dementia. She has also backed Alzheimer’s Society’s flagship fundraising campaign, Memory Walk and supported the Counting the Cost campaign, which aimed to improve the quality of care for people with dementia on hospital wards.

Angela was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to dementia care in her role as development lead with Dementia Friendly Communities. Angela has written 14 books, the most recent being Fabulous at Fifty and Beyond.

The Memory Activity Book is published by DK on 1st August 2018. Price is £16.99 for the hardback.

Pre-order at

Sixtyplusurfers Book Review

Step-by-Step Desserts

Review by Jenny Itzcovitz

Step-by-Step Desserts is your dessert bible for that sweet treat at the end of a meal. Containing over 400 recipes, all the classics are included in this definitive collection with well loved desserts from Tarte Tatin and Vanilla Panna Cotta to Chocolate Fondant and Baked Cheesecake.

What makes this book so unique is that each classic recipe is accompanied by fresh and delicious variations, giving you lots of options to create new versions of your favourite desserts at home. You can get to grips with a classic Crème Brûlée and then try White Chocolate or Earl Grey recipes.

If you like Chocolate Fondant, try making delicious different melting centres like show stopping Dulche de Leche or Lavender.

The book is presented in hot, cold and frozen chapters so you can easily take your pick depending on which type of dessert you want to create. There is a recipe to suit every occasion, from quick and cosy favourites like Cinnamon and Apple Crumble (along with 11 more ideas for crumble fillings if you’re looking for inspiration) to impressive puddings such as Chocolate, Apple and Pear Pavlova.

Every classic recipe is demonstrated with step-by-step photography that makes each stage clear and easy to follow, ensuring you achieve perfect results. You’ll know exactly what to aim for with stunning images of each of the finished desserts.

The introductory section ‘Sweet Success’ shares top tips on mastering pastry, meringues and baking and there are lots of ideas for decorating throughout, from creative crusts and crimping to advice on pro-piping.

Step-by-Step Desserts also includes modern twists on your favourites with trend-led flavours, such as a fabulously floral Lavender Panna Cotta, refreshing Raspberry and Hibiscus Sorbet and Chocolate Torte with Matcha Tea Stripes.

I was really impressed with this comprehensive book about how to make your own delicious desserts at home.

Packed with plenty of mouthwatering recipes for both the beginner and professional cook, this book provides a great inspiration for dinner party desserts and family meals.

Each recipe includes hints and tips to make your dessert a success. There are also variations, so that once you have mastered a recipe, you can make it again with different fillings, toppings and ingredients.

I particularly liked the recipes for Tiramisu, Apple and Cinnamon Fritters, Double-Crust Cherry Pie and Poached Pears in Red Wine. The beautiful photographs included are a great help so that you can see the process of the recipe and how it should look when it’s finished and plated.

The perfect gift for someone who enjoys baking or a helpful guide to have at home. You’ll be inspired to make some scrumptious desserts and impress your family and friends.

About the Authors

Caroline Bretherton is the author of five cookery books including DK’s bestselling Step-by-Step Baking and The Pie Book. She has a passion for fresh ingredients and contemporary recipes, particularly of the sweet variety.

With a career in the food industry that spans over twenty years, she founded Manna Café in London’s Notting Hill, has run a successful catering company, and has written for various newspapers and magazines including a stint at The Times as Family Food Writer.

She now works from her home in North Carolina, USA.

Kristan Raines is an American recipe writer and photograph. She is the author of the blog The Broken Bread which was shortlisted for Saveur’s 2014 Best Baking and Desserts Blog.

She is passionate about sourcing local and seasonal produce whenever possible, and incorporates this approach into everything she cooks and bakes.

She lives in Seattle, USA.

Step-by-Step Desserts by Caroline Bretherton and Kristan Raines is published by DK. Price is £20 for the hardback.

For more information about the book click on

Great Summer Buy

The Vel-Oh Polygon Versatile Handbag

The Polygon from lifestyle brand Vel-Oh is a versatile tote style handbag which cleverly adjusts to become an easy to wear and comfortable backpack. The Vel-Oh brand was originally launched to create bags for those commuting by bicycle and incorporated four key elements; waterproof, lightweight, stylish and versatile. Those elements are an integral part of every Vel-Oh bag.

The Polygon is a simple concept but superbly stylish, as a handbag it has a removable leather strap and the backpack straps are tucked neatly away and out of sight. Inside the main pocket there is a zipped security pocket for valuables such as phone, keys, wallet and purse. The Polygon measures 21cm x 31cm.

The Polygon is made from high quality heavyweight 100% 18oz British Millerain waxed canvas, to keep the contents dry.

The closure straps are made from leather and the shoulder straps are padded for comfort.

Each Vel-Oh bag is handmade in Ireland using British materials. Available in black or red. Price is £130.00.

For more information visit

Great Summer Buy

FORMcard Mends and Molds for DIY and Around the Home

Look out for FORMcard – the moldable, meltable, multi-use bio-plastic tool which works like magic!

Transform, fix and have fun with the functionable FORMcard a credit card sized tool that fits in your wallet or purse for all your needs.

The non-toxic food safe polymer can bind to most materials and sets solid once cooled. So if you’ve broken your pen handle, need to colour coordinate your keys, or simply want to create a phone stand for your desk, the possibilities are endless.

With economic and environmental positives the re-useable plastic is money saving and is a hardy bio-plastic that can be re-moulded time and time again. Simply dip it in hot water and start sculpting.

Creator, Peter Marigold says, “I have always created and fixed things since I was a little boy and I guess I designed FORMcard for people like myself, something that you can use to make mend and modify the world around you.

“FORMcard is something that you can keep in your kitchen drawer, suitcase or glove compartment so that it’s always ready to go no matter when or where you need it.”

Buy It Now retailer and Prezzybox MD Zak Edwards says, “Form card has a gazillion uses. Perfect for everyone from handymen to children who love to experiment. What’s not to love?”

FORMcard is available now at for just £6.99. For details click on

Environmentally Friendly Buy

Huskup Reusable Coffee Cup is Kind to the Soil and Seas

Utilising an abundant waste material to make each takeaway tea, coffee or hot chocolate that bit greener, the new reusable cup from Huskup takes the humble rice husk from earth to earth. Durable and dishwasher safe, but entirely free from plastic, trees, BPA and melamine, this unassuming little cup is setting a new bar for the eco-friendly caffeine fix in the UK.

Beginning by saving large quantities of rice husks from the incinerator, currently just a small dent in the 125 million tonnes that are produced globally each year, the hard-wearing Huskup is designed to make a big impact on the country’s single-use plastic problem that has overrun the oceans and heaped yet more pressure on landfill sites. From cafés and canteens to the daily dash for the door each morning, a Huskup in-hand can help reduce the 2.5 billion takeaway cups that are discarded each year in Britain.

Looking beyond the here and now, the Huskup can also return to the earth at the end of its useful life, biodegrading fully through microbial action. Certified to European compostability standards (EN 13432), the cups are able to disintegrate naturally and go back to the land, entirely safe for seeds to germinate in the resulting compost.

Reducing the need for millions of plastic-lined cups that are destined for landfill, incineration, the streets or the seas, Huskup has a lifecycle designed with Mother Nature in mind.

The Huskup comes in 12 different designs, priced at £10.95 each.

About Huskup

Bath-based Huskup was founded in 2018 to harness one of the world’s most abundant food waste materials, the humble rice husk, and begin a new chapter in takeaway coffee with a cup that is both durable and biodegradable. Entirely plastic, tree and toxin free, the Huskup contains no melamine or BPA, meaning that no nasties can make their way into drinks.

These eco-friendly cups are also tough enough to take on the dishwasher and safe for reheating coffee in the microwave, but will simply decompose and return to the earth at the end of their lives. Launching with 12 designs, having teamed up with like-minded independent artists to create products that represent the Huskup ethos, these reusable cups are ready to bring takeaway coffee back down to earth.

Buy your Huskup from

Historic Summer Gifts

Historic Royal
Palaces Gift Shop

Historic Royal Palaces Shop offer some gorgeous gifts for the Summer.

Treat yourself to these beautiful vintage style star engraved glass Champagne Saucers. This set of two starry champagne saucers are replicas of the coveted early 20th century engraved champagne glasses found in London’s famous antique markets.

With a timeless design, our elegant champagne saucers add an opulent touch to any contemporary home. Made from hand blown glass and made from dishwasher safe fine crystal. Price is £29.99.

This pretty Royal Palace Rose luxury folding hand fan is inspired by our magnificent gardens and the people who lived there. This traditional style paper folding fan is extremely elegant and perfect for garden parties or as a Summer gift.

The Royal Palace Rose collection is exclusively designed and made for Historic Royal Palaces and celebrates the exquisite historic gardens at the royal palaces in their care. Exclusively designed for Historic Royal Palaces and hand made in Spain. Price is £14.99.

Make your own silk daisy chain with this delightful kit. Fun and quirky, these pretty silk daisy chains can be worn as a hair crown or plait or twist them into your hair plait, wrap them around a bun or even wear them as an accessory wrapped around your wrist a few times.

You can make them as long or as short as you like as you loop each individual daisy together yourself and undo them and make them up as many times as you like, it takes minutes to make a chain of daisies. Longer lasting than real daisies which wilt within a half hour!

This set includes 12 large silk petal daisies with fluffy yellow middles and soft yarn stems with loops for easily joining together in a range of pastel colours. Full length when joined is 50cm. There is ribbon for ending the designs and instructions. Presented in a pretty organza party bag, these little daisies are perfect for a Summer gift. Price is £3.99.

For more information visit the website at

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