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Sixtyplusurfers Competition

Win a Starbucks £50 Gift Card

Win a Starbucks £50 Gift Card

This month, Sixtyplusurfers has teamed up with to offer ten lucky readers the chance to win a £50 Starbucks Gift Card.

Complete a short online survey and voice your valuable opinions and you could also win some great prizes for participating. is an online service dedicated to gathering consumer opinions. Here you can enter a competition by providing your views and opinions in the UK's largest consumer opinion poll and help shape the future of British industry and the products and services that it provides to UK consumers.

Win a Starbucks £50 Gift Card

In exchange for few minutes of your time, we'll enter you into one of our fantastic prize draws where you can win a variety of prizes from new cars and holidays to beauty products and gadgets!

If that's not enough, we'll also give you an instant reward of a £5 online voucher for completing the survey.

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Win a Starbucks £50 Gift Card

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 Blists Hill Victorian
   Town Celebrates
     Queen Victoria

Blists Hill Victorian Town celebrates Queen Victoria

 Whitsun half term 28 May - 5 June

Join the residents of Blists Hill Victorian Town in Shropshire’s Ironbridge Gorge during the late May half-term week, 28th May – 5th June, when they will be celebrating the life and long reign of their much loved Queen Victoria with great pomp and pageantry.

Every day at 2pm during the school holiday, except for Sunday 29th May, visitors will be able to enjoy poetry readings and short stories, all about Queen Victoria.

Blists Hill Victorian Town celebrates Queen Victoria

Other activities throughout the week including candle dipping workshops which use Victorian techniques to make multi-coloured candles to take home; a lesson in the school house at 12 noon, a ride on the horse-drawn bus between 1.30pm and 3pm and a self-led trail to discover more about Queen Victoria and her Empire. There’s also a sing-a-long in the New Inn at lunchtime time and during the afternoon.

On Sunday 29th May, the Townsfolk will also be honouring their Queen’s birthday with extra special activities, Punch and Judy and a patriotic parade through the streets, which will be brightly dressed with flags and bunting for the entire week. The not-to-be missed birthday parade on Sunday starts at 2pm followed by fun and festivities including street games and live entertainment.

Blists Hill Victorian Town celebrates Queen Victoria

Open 10am to 5pm Blists Hill is one of the ten Ironbridge Gorge Museums. A great value Annual Passport Ticket allowing unlimited entry into all ten Ironbridge Gorge Museums costs £25 per adult, £20 for seniors, £15 for children under 18, £68 for a family of two adults and all their children and £50 for a family with one adult; under 5s free (terms and conditions apply).

Passports can also be bought online in advance saving 10% and individual entry tickets are available at each museum. Activities and workshops vary day-to-day and some carry an extra charge.

The Gorge is easily reached via the M54 motorway exiting at Telford junction 4 or 6.

Blists Hill Victorian Town

For further information call the Ironbridge Tourist Information Centre on 01952 433 424.

Or visit

   The Other Dickens
Discovering Catherine

Engraving of Catherine Dickens

 Charles Dickens Museum, London
    3rd May - 20th November 2016

A new exhibition will aim to debunk a series of myths surrounding the life of Catherine Dickens, wife of Charles Dickens. The Other Dickens: Discovering Catherine, guest curated by Prof. Lillian Nayder and based on her 2011 biography of Catherine, will use a combination of rarely-seen exhibits, including many personal items and letters, to present an accurate picture of a woman who met Charles Dickens in her teens and whose own character and achievements remain in his shadow.

The Other Dickens: Discovering Catherine takes place at Charles Dickens Museum at 48 Doughty Street, the London townhouse where Dickens completed The Pickwick Papers and wrote Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. The exhibition runs from 3rd May - 20th November 2016.

As Charles Dickens’s fame grew quickly, following the successive publications of the three novels listed above, Catherine found herself existing increasingly in his shadow, her own identity defined by that of her husband. The exhibition will celebrate Catherine’s life at 48 Doughty Street, adding significant detail to a name only known through the achievements and actions of Charles Dickens.

The Dining Room at Charles Dickens' House in Doughty Street

Catherine Hogarth married Charles Dickens in 1836. They lived together for the next 22 years, Catherine having ten children (two of whom were born at Doughty Street) in the first sixteen of those years, as well as travelling to America and living abroad. When they separated, Catherine moved to 70 Gloucester Crescent near Regent’s Park, where she stayed for 21 years, outliving Charles by nearly a decade. During this time, Charles Dickens painted a harshly negative portrait of his wife, suggesting that Catherine was constantly depressed and an uncaring, unfit mother.

Addressing this issue, the exhibition will help to build a more rounded picture of a Victorian woman devoted to her children and part of a lively social group, who enjoyed frequent visits to the theatre, concerts and late-night parties. Catherine was also a published writer; her popular cookbook, What Shall We Have For Dinner, ran into several editions. Her good friends included Victorian novelist Annie Hall-Cudlip, philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts, Punch magazine editor Mark Lemon and his wife Nelly, and concert pianist Christiana Weller, as well as Charles’s two sisters (which may not have enhanced their relationship with their brother).

Working its way through Catherine and Charles’s home, the exhibition will explore Catherine’s childhood in Scotland, her relationship with her sisters, the role she played in Charles’s success, her place in London’s literary scene, and her musical and needlework skills. It will reflect on her experience of motherhood, as well as the effect of the loss of three of her children.

The Master Bedroom at Charles Dickens' House in Doughty Street

With the support of a Grant for the Arts from Arts Council England, the Museum has commissioned sound artist Felicity Ford to make Hearing Catherine, a collection of six new works which will bring Catherine’s voice back to Doughty Street. Introduced throughout the exhibition, a subtle combination of spoken word, music and field recordings will use Catherine’s own words to give her a presence and build something of the atmosphere that she would have known in the family home.

Among the music will be pieces by Catherine’s father, George Hogarth, while recordings will include sounds from around Catherine’s gravesite. Catherine’s words will be taken from her letters, her published cookbook, and lists and notes she kept at Doughty Street.

Among the exhibits are:

· Catherine Dickens’s jewellery, including her engagement ring, snake design ring and bracelet, and chain design purse.

· Individual portraits of Catherine and Charles by Samuel Lawrence.

· Oil painting of Charles Dickens in the theatrical role of Sir Charles Coldstream in the play Used Up. The picture belonged to Catherine and she left it in her will to her eldest son, Charley.

Oil miniature of Charles Dickens

· A drawing of four of the Dickens children, by Daniel Maclise, which Catherine and Charles took on their travels to the USA and which stayed with Catherine (she wrote to Maclise: ‘My beautiful sketch of our dar[lings] is more admired than I can possibly describe. It is in great demand wherever we go and Willis the author actually asked me to give it to him. Imagine. Such impudence! And audacity!’).

· A circular table bought by Charles for Catherine to celebrate the birth of their first child in 1837.
· A tortoise-shell and mother of pearl card case given to Catherine by Charles at their marriage.

· Charles and Catherine's Draft Deed of Separation, drawn up in 1858.

· Illuminated extracts from Catherine’s Last Will and Testament.

Guest curator, Lillian Nayder, Professor of English at Bates College, Maine, USA says, “When Charles and Catherine separated, he characterised her as an unnatural mother who shirked her maternal duties. But his claims are readily disproven by Catherine’s behaviour, by the evident affection between her and her children and by Dickens’s own statements to the contrary about his wife.

Indeed, during most of their years together, parenthood strengthened their mutual attachment. When Dickens was away, Catherine wrote to him about the children and he answered in kind soon after their third child was born: ‘Their dear little voices...have sounds for you and me that we shall never forget.’“

Cindy Sughrue, Director of Charles Dickens Museum says, “We are pleased to bring Catherine into the house in a significant way, in the process showing some of the character and qualities that were written out of history once the couple separated. The exhibition will show that, far from being Charles’s ‘plus one’, Catherine played a crucial role in his career and family life and it will illustrate the affection shown towards her by her children and her fascinating circle of friends.”

Visitor Information

Charles Dickens Museum at 48 Doughty Street, London

Dates: 3rd May - 20th November 2016.

Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm (last admission 4pm). Closed on Mondays.

Museum admission prices: Adults £9; Concessions £6; Children (6-16) £4; Under 6 free.

Address: Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LX


Telephone: 020 7405 2127

  Celebrate Year of
 the English Garden
       at Borde Hill

Garden Designer, Sophie Walker

Borde Hill Garden will celebrate the ‘Year of the English Garden 2016' by unveiling a brand new design by young and upcoming Garden Designer, Sophie Walker.

In 2014 Sophie with her garden, Cave Pavilion became the youngest woman to design a garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower show, and she has already won multiple awards for her designs. Sophie enjoys working with rare and unusual plants, which she believes form an important contribution to the making of 'new design' as well as collaborating with modern-day plant hunters.

Sophie's interest in conceptual garden design has led her to the subject of the Japanese garden, on which she is writing a book that is due to be published by Phaidon in spring 2017.

The Round Dell at Borde Hill Garden, artist's impression

The Round Dell, artist's impression

Sophie’s design for Borde Hill Garden will transform the ‘Round Dell’, an old quarry in which sub-tropical plants thrive. The history and legacy of Borde Hill's diverse collection of plants will sit at the heart of Sophie's new design, and new and exciting specimens found in the 21st Century will be added to an already significant collection. The design itself will encourage visitors to explore the lively heart of the Round Dell through a conceptual, architectural design.

Sophie says, "I am thrilled by the opportunity to work at Borde Hill Garden, especially to redesign the Round Dell, which is a space so close to what I am interested in - the garden as an immersive place that opens up secrets, slowly and sequentially through process of a journey.

"I hope my work at Borde Hill will show a broader public that exciting new plant-finds of the 21st Century can be used in garden design today, and can even open up new possibility for design. We don't know exactly how the plants will behave and I'm looking forward to working with the team at Borde Hill in developing an intuitive gardening practice around these exciting new plants."​

Borde Hill Garden is based in Borde Hill Lane, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH16 1XP.

Opening times are 10am to 5pm weekdays and until 6pm on weekends.

For full details click on

   Capability Brown
 Horse and Carriage
  Rides at Blenheim

Capability Brown Horse and Carriage Rides at Blenheim Palace

Discover 'Capability' Brown at Blenheim Palace by Horse & Carriage. On selected dates throughout 2016, visitors can book to enjoy a trip around the Parkland to see the landscape as Brown himself would have viewed it.

Blenheim Palace was one of 'Capability' Brown's most significant landscape projects. Commissioned by the 4th Duke of Marlborough in 1763, he spent a total of 11 years transforming the Palace's landscaped parkland which, although appearing quite natural, is 'contrived to pleasing effect'.

Capability Brown Horse and Carriage Rides at Blenheim Palace

Alongside the Horse & Carriage rides, visitors can discover the new 'Capability' Brown Viewpoints Trail which has been created with interpretation panels highlighting many of his most impressive viewpoints across the estate. Explore the trail on foot by downloading a map from the Blenheim Palace website or pick up a leaflet at the Welcome Centre.

The carriage rides last approximately 15 minutes and take in some of the quintessential Brownian views. Booking is necessary. Plus, don't miss a look around the new temporary 'Capability' Brown exhibition which features maps, plans, paintings, pictures, costumes and historic artefacts of one of the world's most illustrious landscape designers.

Alongside specially-commissioned artworks featuring his most celebrated views, the exhibition also features drawings of the lake and dam under construction as well as a film by modern gardener Diarmuid Gavin reflecting on the influence of Brown's work at Blenheim Palace.

Blenheim Palace

The 'Capability' Brown Carriage Rides at Blenheim Palace take place on 1st and 2nd May, 9th and 10th July, 19th - 21st August, 17th and 18th September

Admission to Blenheim Palace is £25 + Adult £14.90, Child £6.90, Park & Gardens ticket.

For further information click on

     MacTours Offer 
  Discounts on Tea

Exclusive offers on Afternoon Tea with MacTours

Welcoming back the MacTours City Tour with its iconic Routemaster buses for the summer season, Edinburgh Bus Tours is giving visitors the chance to experience not only the best views from the top deck, but the best tea, cakes and sweet treats the Capital has to offer.

Visitors can enjoy a set of exclusive offers on Afternoon Tea experiences when they hop-off with their MacTours City Tour ticket.

Available until the 29 October, visitors can save up to 25% at five venues across the city, including Café Hub on Castlehill, The Royal Exchange Coffee House at The Real Mary King's Close and The Printing Press.

MacTours City Tour and Edinburgh Tour offer live commentary by the company's expert guides, multi-lingual audio commentary in up to 10 different languages is available on board City Sightseeing, Majestic Tour and The Forth Bridges Bus & Boat Tour.

For more information about Edinburgh Bus Tours visit

News & Book Reviews

RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May

Joanna Lumly at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, 2015

     Joanna Lumley at last year's show

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show (24th – 28th May 2016), sponsored by M&G Investments, once again hosts the RHS Garden Product of the Year competition which showcases all the latest product launches, catering for all gardening tastes and needs. All the products will be available to buy at the show and online.

Twelve of the most innovative and exciting new gardening products have been shortlisted for the 2016 RHS Chelsea Garden Product of the Year competition. The winning product will be selected by a team of judges, led by Dragons' Den investor and successful entrepreneur Deborah Meaden, and will be awarded during the Show on Tuesday 24th May.

Chelsea Pensioner and visitors at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, 2015

Finalists this year include Cloud Controller, a mobile App, hub and remote tap unit from Hozelock which allows you to remotely set, pause and adjust your garden’s watering schedule to keep up with changing weather conditions. Allowing you to enjoy your garden whatever the weather, the Firecube 16" by Solus Décor UK Ltd is a contemporary concrete fire pit with eco-friendly ethanol burner, which also doubles as a table when not in use.

Other shortlisted products include the Big Ben Plant Frame, Garden Time GroTray, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown Bust, the Rootator, Feature Wall Planter, Royal Dutch Hoe - hand model, The Floating Bench, The Stud Planter, and the Tree of Life Fire Ellipse.

HM the Queen at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, 2015

       HM the Queen at last year's show

All of the products competing for the coveted title of RHS Chelsea Garden Product of the Year have been designed with the gardeners’ needs in mind, aiming to aid and enrich time spent in the garden.

Tickets are now available for 24th – 28th May from

Admission details

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

24th – 25th May RHS members only
26th – 28th May RHS members and non-members
24th – 27th May 8am – 8pm
28th May 8am – 5.30pm (sell off starts at 4pm)

Venue: Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London SW3 4SL

To book tickets call 0844 338 7546

Or visit

Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.

Ticket prices range from £23 to £68

Great British Bake Off
& MasterChef Finalists at the 2nd Blenheim Palace Food Festival

Blenheim Palace Food Festival

The Blenheim Palace Food Festival returns for the 2nd year running, for the late May bank holiday weekend, 28th-30th May 2016, from 10am-5pm.

Building on the huge success of the 2015 festival, which saw 20,000 visitors to the festival over 3 days, this year's enhanced festival will feature more demonstrations, more local producers and more tastings, with a fantastic range of food, drink and activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Visitors are invited to explore flavours, learn new culinary skills and meet local chefs and TV personalities, whilst immersing themselves in the splendid setting of Blenheim Palace and its 300 years of fascinating history.

See the wildlife at the Blenheim Palace Food Festival

Recently listed as one of the top ten food and drink festivals in the world, the Blenheim Palace Food Festival promises:

Regional food and drink from 120 stallholders, including artisan bakes, craft brews, gourmet burgers, international cuisine, traditional ices and handmade sweets.

A Demonstration Theatre featuring a packed programme of events including demonstrations from:

· Tamal Ray – Great British Bake Off 2015 finalist

· Tony Rodd – MasterChef 2015 finalist

· Dipna Anand - Chef and author of 'Beyond Brilliant'

· Katharine Tate – The Food Teacher

· Kelly Mauger – Tutor at Award Winning WI Cookery School, Denman College

· Nick Pullen – Owner Chef of Wild Thyme Restaurant, Oxfordshire

· Marlow Renton – Foraging expert, Wildfood UK

Interactive food events and tastings to appeal to the whole family.

Children's entertainment such as a roaming storyteller, garden games, face painting and vintage rides.

Sit in the traditional hay baled picnic areas at the Blenheim Palace Food Festival

Traditional hay baled picnic areas where visitors can relax whilst enjoying the festivities and beautiful festival setting

Speaking of his forthcoming appearance at the festival, MasterChef Finalist, Tony Rodd says, “I'm really looking forward to my day at the Blenheim Palace Food Festival.

The festival is set in such a beautiful setting and has great traders, chefs and entertainers. I'll be cooking two dishes that demonstrate how to get the best from seasonal ingredients and will be on hand to answer questions about my food and my time on MasterChef.

Enjoy delicious food at The Blenheim Palace Food Festival

For more information about The Blenheim Palace Food Festival please visit the website at

Red Hot Planting
at Eden Project

A team of Eden Project horticulturists manoeuvring a Chinese windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) into position for Eden's new Bright Sparks project

Gardeners at the Eden Project are to set a steep slope ablaze with colour in the biggest and boldest planting scheme since it opened 15 years ago.

The high-profile Bright Sparks project will see a precipitous bank replanted with a stunning array of Chinese windmill palms, red hot pokers and golden, purple and red grasses, transforming the view and enhancing Eden’s identity as a premier contemporary global garden.

In a dramatic example of extreme horticulture, an acre of ground opposite the Core education centre has been cleared in preparation for the mass planting.

With the famous Biomes as a dramatic backdrop, 20 towering Chinese windmill palms were planted yesterday (Tuesday) by a team of Eden’s outdoor horticulturists, with more plants due to be put in the ground in the coming days.

A team of Eden Project horticulturists manoeuvring a Chinese windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) into position for Eden's new Bright Sparks project

Gordon Seabright, Managing Director of the Eden Project says, “This is a really exciting moment for our garden – the biggest new planting scheme for 15 years. This part of the Outdoor Gardens has evolved from a backwater into one of our most high-profile areas. It is adjacent to the busy Core, viewed from the Core café terrace and our bridge.

“The plan for this slope is to electrify it with colour and form, to make it horticulturally special for our visitors and as an educational resource for our apprentices and new higher education students.

“We have added greatly to our collection of windmill palms (Trachycarpus fortunei) that thrive on this slope and, among them, will showcase flowing grasses and vibrant perennials from the southern hemisphere, particularly South Africa, in the ‘new naturalism’ style.

“This will include what we hope will be the start of a nationally significant collection of Kniphofia – better known as red hot pokers.

“We are calling the new initiative Bright Sparks because of the forms and colours of the planting as well as the involvement of our own ‘bright sparks’ - our young horticulture apprentices. Re-planting this large slope is a major project and will require a huge team effort.”

Artist’s impression of how the new Bright Sparks area will look when fully planted

When the slope was originally planted, it was the backdrop to a temporary food and education camp and showcased a mix of grasses. Over time, the whole area became dominated by invasive Phalaris grass which is now being cleared.

Eden’s aim is that the Kniphofia planting will eventually be deemed a National Collection, which would be a first for the project. The plan is to plant around 2000 Kniphofia of around 100 species and cultivars, some of which are rare or specialist and have been bought with help from the Stanley Smith (UK) Horticultural Trust.

Gordon Seabright says, “I believe that by securing National Collection status we can raise our stature as a garden. We are very much a contemporary botanical garden and we aim to broaden our appeal among informed and expert gardeners.

“By having a diverse range of Kniphofia we can have an extended flowering season and show the beautiful diversity they offer. We also have the nearby South Africa area within our Mediterranean Biome to display some of the tender varieties, enabling us to show a more comprehensive collection.”

The photographs above show a team of Eden Project horticulturists manoeuvring a Chinese windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) into position for Eden's new Bright Sparks project. There is also an artist’s impression of how the new Bright Sparks area will look when fully planted.

For more information about the Eden Project click on

Street Food Craft Beer Festival at Alexandra Palace

Street Food Craft Beer Festival at Alexandra Palace

Starting 28th – 29th May, Alexandra Palace’s hugely popular Street Food Craft Beer Festival returns for a run of weekends throughout the summer. Entry is free for all.

Londoners are invited to join the party in the capital’s biggest beer garden, set amongst a 196 acre park with stunning panoramic views of the city. Festival-goers can expect premium street food traders offering a huge range of delicious treats for even the most discerning foodies, all washed down with a tasty craft beer or cocktail. All this plus a full line-up of live music, DJs and entertainment, guaranteed to keep the party in full swing well into the evening.

Enjoy delicious food at the Street Food Craft Beer Festival at Alexandra Palace

Serving up some of the best street food London has to offer will be smoked meat masters Smokestak, The Athenian with tempting Greek souvlaki, delicious vegan curry from Wholefood Heaven and Cheeky Italian offering a twist on classic Italian faire. Expect premium burgers from The Backstreet Diner, delicious BBQ from Bodeans and sweet treats from The Ice Cream Cab and The Waffle Float, plus much more besides.

Over 20 different craft and cask beers will be available from some of the best local and international breweries, and for those who don’t fancy beer there will be incredible tropical cocktails to try, and of course it wouldn’t be a British summer party without the offering of Pimms.

Enjoy craft and cask beers at the Street Food Craft Beer Festival at Alexandra Palace

The public will be treated to live music and entertainment with a variety of acts and DJs ranging from brass, jazz, folk, indie and party tunes, plus some very special guests still to be announced, from opening until late.

Street Food

Featuring: The Athenian – Backstreet Diner – Bodeans – Cheeky Italian – El Dorado – The Ice Cream Cab – Rainforest Creations – Smokestak – The Waffle Float – Wholefood Heaven – Woodfired Pizza – Yum Jungle + many more!

Craft beers

Enjoy craft  beers at the Street Food Craft Beer Festival at Alexandra Palace

Featuring: Five point - Pin up beers - ROGUE - Crate Brewery - Brooklyn Brewery - Sierra Nevada & more from the best in London and international breweries.

Live music

Featuring: The Dimmocks - Luke Carey - Gyps N’ Progress - Brassterminds - Hallouminati - Hot Rock Pilgrims - Kings Cross Hot Club - Temple Funk Collective - Dat Brass

Enjoy the stunning views from Alexandra Palace

Street Food Craft Beer Festival Dates

May: Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th

June: Saturday 18th & Sunday 19th

July: Saturday 23rd & Sunday 24th

August: Saturday 20th & Sunday 21st

Opening Times:

Saturday 11am – 10pm

Sunday 11am – 9pm

Check out the brand new website at  for further information.

Haverfordwest Food Festival, Pembrokeshire

Haverfordwest Food Festival, Pembrokeshire

Pembrokeshire’s second annual Haverfordwest Food Festival, takes place in the grounds of the County Hall and Picton Centre on Saturday, 7th May from 10am to 6pm with a full programme of events and activities.

Sample local produce from the abundance of food and drink stalls, around 40 will be under cover. Watch cookery demonstrations by well-known Welsh chefs including Anthony Evans from S4C and Castell Howell, a team from Blas y Tir and Andy Holcroft from Britain’s first insect restaurant located in St Davids. In a separate marquee local fisherman will demonstrate how to prepare freshly caught fish and seafood for cooking on site by the Cardigan Bay Fish for all to enjoy.

New this year is My Little Kitchen where children aged 4 - 11 can learn to cook under the guidance of Ellen Picton from Health Aspire; they will be given a chef’s hat to take home as well as samples of their cooking. Local visitor attraction Silent World will also be displaying their large fish tanks and be talking about the fascinating colourful sea life.

Live music throughout the day will keep everyone entertained with a mix of local singers and songwriters, including Not The Only Clown in the Village, all conveniently close to the licensed bar.

Tickets at the gate are £2 adults and under 12s go free.

For full details about the Haverfordwest Food Festival visit

Or email

More information about visiting Pembrokeshire plus suggestions for places to stay, activities and things to see and do can be found on the website at

To request a copy of the free Pembrokeshire visitor guide call 01271 336100.

Summer Fun at Birdland Park & Gardens

Summer Fun at Birdland Park & Gardens

For fantastic family fun this summer enjoy an exciting and educational day out at Birdland, Bourton-on-the-Water. One of the UK's biggest bird gardens, discover an array of amazing wildlife from King Penguins to Tortoises!

Situated in the picturesque Bourton on the Water in the Cotswolds, Birdland boasts a beautiful natural setting of woodland, river and gardens that are inhabited by over 500 birds - including 140 different species such as vibrant flamingos, pelicans, colourful parrots, laughing kookaburras and magical owls displayed in over 50 aviaries.

Birdland also is home to the only breeding group of King Penguins in the UK. Situated in Penguin Shore, the parcel of penguins live with the group of comical Humboldt penguins. Spot them swimming underwater through a glass viewing panel and learn more about penguin life during the twice daily Penguin Feed and Talk – 11am & 2.30pm.

See the penguins at Birdland Park & Gardens

Find out more about the birds at one of the talks or feeding displays and meet the keeper for some interactive sessions with the friendly residents. The daily summer holiday programme includes flamingo, penguin and pelican feeds throughout the day. Plus head to the Encounter Zone where visitors can meet giant tortoises, pet rabbits and guinea pigs or come face to face with a snake.

At Birdland's indoor Discovery Zone, visitors can learn more about other egg-laying creatures such as invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. Meet recently born chicks at the new Hatchery, currently housing eggs from ducks, quails and chickens. The Hatchery allows children and adults to see up close the rare eggs needing special care and watch the chicks hatching and taking their first steps.

Explore the Jurassic Journey trail this summer to discover dinosaurs and dig for fossils. Visitors will be armed with special dinosaur tracker kits, and will venture in to a Jurassic-themed landscape which is home to more than 30 different dinosaurs for an interactive adventure.

See how many birds and animals you can discover at Marshmouth Nature Reserve, where indigenous creatures from dragonflies, grass snakes, otters and kingfishers have all been spotted.

Finish up at the Flamingo Point Café or pull up a picnic whilst watching the flamboyant flamingos in the lake.

Enjoy Summer Fun at Birdland Park & Gardens and close encounters with Birdland's residents from King Penguins to tortoises!

Admission is £9.95  for adults and £6.95 for children (aged from 3-15).

For more information please visit the website at

 Sixtyplusurfers Book Reviews

   One Step Ahead
             By Mary Berry
         Review by
Jenny Itzcovitz

One Step Ahead by Mary Berry

The Queen of baking is back in this new format reissue edition of One Step Ahead. Best loved home cook Mary Berry simplifies delicious recipes in step-by-step instructions that can be made in advance and chilled or frozen to cook later.

This beautiful cookery book is the perfect addition to any busy cook's kitchen shelf, with recipes ranging from party canapés to pies, soufflés and of course a myriad of classic cakes and bakes.
Mary shares her years of baking expertise in the helpful hints, tips and tricks featured throughout One Step Ahead and the multi-award-winning 'Bake Off' judge also gives practical instructions for Aga owners.

This is the essential guide to inspire confidence in the kitchen and get everyone cooking for friends and family.

I'm a huge fan of Mary Berry as her recipes always work and she has such a wealth of knowledge and experience in the kitchen, so I was delighted to receive One Step Ahead.

This beautiful book is packed full of easy to make recipes with stunning photographs and plenty of hints and tips for serving, freezing and time saving ideas in the kitchen.

My favourite recipes are Baked Trout with Lime and Garlic, One Pot Chicken and Mediterranean Rice, Divine Raspberry Soufflé, Fresh Pineapple Ice Cream, and Hot Plum Torte.

There's something in this fabulous book for everyone to try including beginners and more experienced cooks. Perfect as a housewarming gift or for those who enjoy home cooking. Keep it handy for inspiration for family meals, entertaining and delicious dinner party ideas.

Mary Berry by Tim James/Mabel Gray

  Mary Berry by Tim James/Mabel Gray

National Treasure, Mary Berry is the author of over 70 cookery books and is known to millions as the judge on BBC1's Great Bake Off. After spending many years working as a magazine cookery editor, Mary started writing her own cookbooks in the 1960s.

Mary is an expert on Aga cookery and in developing simple, delicious recipes for home cooks everywhere.

One Step Ahead is published by Quadrille. Price is £20 for the hardback.

For more information about the book click on

    Wild Lavender
       By Belinda Alexandra
         Review by Jenny Itzcovitz

Wild Lavender by Belinda Alexandra

At the age of fourteen, Simone Fleurier is wrenched from her home, a Proven
çal lavender farm and sent to work in Marseille. Her life there is hard and impoverished, but Simone discovers the music hall and a dream - to one day be a famous dancer and singer.

But when war threatens, Simone makes a decision that will lead to great danger - yet ultimately proves that love, just like wild lavender, can grow in the least likely of places ...

This is a tale of passion and courage that moves from the backstreets of Marseille to the grand music theatres of Paris, from the countryside of Provence to decadent pre-war Berlin and jazz-age New York.

Wild Lavender is a feast for the senses that will live on in the imagination forever ....

I was very impressed with this well researched book. I took it on holiday with me to Spain and it kept me engrossed and gripped even during a turbulent aeroplane flight!

The character of Simone Fleurier is so realistic and well drawn that I originally thought she might be drawn from a real person, although I later realised she was fictitious. The book follows her journey as she is forced to leave her family's lavender farm and make her own living in Marseille.

At first she works as an unpaid maid for her cruel aunt. But it doesn't take Simone long to realise that she really wants to be a famous singer and have her name in lights. Her career takes off slowly as her talent for song and dance is gradually discovered. However, war soon overtakes her dreams and plans, and she is horrified by the cruelty and needless death that she sees in occupied France.

She joins the resistance and helps Jews, soldiers and airmen to find places of safety and escape. But in the meantime she endangers her own life and also her family. Beautifully told, with plenty of realism and atmosphere, I stayed up late into the night to finish this well written book. Powerful and totally captivating, this enthralling love story is a great summer read. I look forward to reading more books by this talented author.

Belinda Alexandra has been published to wide acclaim in Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Holland, Poland, Norway and Greece.

She is the daughter of a Russian mother and Australian father and has been an intrepid traveller since her youth. She lives in Sydney with her husband, Mauro, and a menagerie of adored pets.

Wild Lavender is published by Simon & Schuster. Price is £7.99 for the paperback.

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  The Novel Habits
     of Happiness

  By Alexander McCall Smith
          Review Jenny Itzcovitz

The Novel Habits of Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith

Isabel Dalhousie is one of Edinburgh's most generous (but discreet) philanthropists - but should she be more charitable? She wonders, sometimes, if she is too judgemental about her niece's amorous exploits, too sharp about her housekeeper's spiritual beliefs, and too ready to bristle in her battle against her enemies.

As the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, she doesn't, of course, allow herself actual enemies, but she does feel enmity - especially towards two academics who have just arrived in the city. Isabel feels they're a highly destabilising influence.

Equally troubling is the situation of a little boy who is convinced he had a previous life. When Isabel is called upon to help, she finds herself questioning her views on reincarnation. And the nature of grief. And - crucially - the positioning of lighthouses.

I always enjoy reading Alexander McCall Smith's books, his characters are so warm and engaging. So I was delighted to receive this new Isabel Dalhousie story.

As usual, the over generous philanthropist is called on to help when a mother has problems with her son who is convinced that he has led a previous life and is able to describe where he once lived and the family that brought him up.

Isabel and her loving husband Jamie with their young son, Charlie set off on a trip to see if they can find out if the home he is talking about really exists and if they can unravel the mystery.

Other well loved characters appear in the story such as Isabel's niece, Cat and the hilarious academics Robert Lettuce and Christopher Dove. But all is not as it at first seems ...

This charming story is elegantly seasoned with Alexandra McCall Smith's well loved gentle wit and delightful characters. His words of wisdom and compassionate views of life and people are also an intrinsic thread running throughout the book. Uplifting and heart warming, this new Isabel Dalhousie story is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face, whatever the weather!

Alexander McCall Smith

       Author, Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world's most dynamic, prolific and most popular authors. His career has been a varied one: for many years he was a professor of Medical Law and worked in universities in the United Kingdom and abroad.

Then, after the publication of The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency, he devoted his time to the writing of fiction and has seen his award-winning books become bestsellers throughout the world. These include the Scotland Street novels, the Isabel Dalhousie novels, the Von Igelfeld series, and the Corduroy Mansions series as well as his stand alone novels and joyful non-fiction.

In addition, he writes libretti, radio plays and has an interesting involvement in embroidery.

The Novel Habits of Happiness is published by Abacus. Price is £8.99 for the paperback.

For more information about the book visit the website at   

  Walk Off The Weight

   By Lucy Wyndham-Read
               Review Simon Fine

Walk Off The Weight by Lucy Wyndham-Read

“Walking is an amazing exercise that anyone can do and the results are incredible: weight loss, increased fitness and toned legs, arms, bottom and thighs,” says Lucy Wyndham-Read, fitness and weight loss practitioner and author of Walk off the Weight.

Subtitled “21 days is all it takes”, Walk off the Weight is a full 21-day plan, and contains all the advice and guidance you need. Simply follow the exercise instructions and the eating plan on each day and you will be fitter and healthier and look better than ever before. Lucy Wyndham-Read has used this plan with her clients for many years and she has seen amazing results.

I love walking, especially in the beautiful British countryside, so I agree with Lucy that walking is an amazing exercise that anyone can do. It is not intimidating, like some other types of exercise, it requires no special training and can be done on your own or with friends and family. It also costs nothing, although suitable footwear is always a good idea.

The book contains a 3 week programme of walks, exercise and healthy eating. The intensity increases slightly each week and there is plenty of encouragement to maintain the healthy lifestyle beyond the 21 days. The walks are relatively short but include bursts of high intensity walking to maximise the benefits. The book also contains Lucy’s Healthy Anti-Ageing Plan full of delicious meals and snacks that are easy to prepare and help promote collagen in the skin to help you look younger.

This is a very accessible book to help you achieve fitness and weight loss goals and most enjoyable and straightforward to read. Lucy has an excellent website at  and a YouTube channel.

Lucy Wyndham-Read

        Author, Lucy Wyndham-Read

Lucy Wyndham-Read served in the British Army for five years and has worked as a fitness trainer and nutritionist since then. With her 21-day fitness and nutrition plans, she has helped thousands of men and women lose weight and stay in shape.

She is a leading fitness and weight loss expert and has written ten bestselling books on fitness and health for women. She is a regular on TV and has her own columns in magazines and national newspapers where she shares her tips on staying fit.

Walk Off The Weight is published by Meyer & Meyer Sport. Price is £12.95 for the paperback.

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    The Botanical

        By Christopher Mills
           Review by Simon Fine

The Botanical Treasury by Christopher Mills

Kew Gardens in South West London is world-famous for its historic glasshouses, magnificent vistas and precious specimen trees, royal buildings, a Pagoda and beautiful woods. It extends to 132 hectares of landscaped gardens and was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. It also stages outstanding exhibitions such as the recent Orchids festival which I was fortunate enough to visit. The Botanical Treasury, published in association with the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew is a magnificent book which reveals the story of 40 of the world's most fascinating plants.

The featured plants are extraordinary for a number of reasons, from the iconic and the deadly to the ancient and truly bizarre. But all have beauty in common. Accompanying the plants are archival articles, letters and descriptions offering a snapshot of the stories on how they were discovered, described and transported by intrepid travellers around the world. The lengths to which collectors and growers went to find and propagate them is laid out on the pages along with reproductions of letters, articles and correspondence with passages written by contemporary plant experts and scientists.

The Botanical Treasury includes 40 beautifully reproduced prints of the plants (approximately 29 x 22 centimetres) which can then be framed, allowing the reader to exhibit the prints in their home and truly appreciate these magnificent plants.

The Botanical Treasury is an exceptionally beautiful collection and is presented in a stunning gift box and would make a wonderful present to anyone with a serious interest in plants or who loves stunning artwork of plants, particularly those who want to exhibit such artwork in their home. It would also adorn any library or coffee table.

Christopher Mills

           Author, Christopher Mills

Christopher Mills has been Head of Library, Art and Archives at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew for nine years. Before that he was Head of Collections at the Natural History Museum, London for 13 years. He writes regularly on the subject of Botany for both the academic and lay enthusiast market.

The Botanical Treasury is published by Andre Deutsch. Price is £35 for the hardback.

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  The Somme & Verdun
    1916 Remembered

         By Major General
         Julian Thompson
            Review by Simon Fine

The Somme & Verdun 1916 Remembered by Major General Julian Thompson

Verdun and the Somme were two of the most significant battles of the First World War on the Western Front. The carnage on that front in 1916 was unprecedented for all sides, and had a profound effect on the eventual outcome of the war.

On the first day of the Somme, Britain and her Commonwealth suffered almost 60,000 casualties, the worst day's loss in British military history. The battle of the Somme lasted for four and a half months and heralded the arrival of the tank on the battlefield. Likewise Verdun lasted ten months and the steadfastness of the French soldiers remains legendary to this day.

A century later, this fine collection helps us relive and appreciate this shocking period in history by examining rare items of memorabilia such as maps, diary extracts, letters, sketches, secret memos and reports which had been filed away in museums and other collections around the world. Julian Thompson explains the battle in an engaging and informative way, with over 200 photographs from the Imperial War Museum, French and German museums.

As well as the battles, the book provides an informative background to the war itself, the arrival of tanks and aircraft in battle for the first time, the strategies and tactics employed by both sides and the people and politics involved in the World War I.

I was interested to learn how Britain was relatively unprepared for war in 1914 and how millions of volunteers were recruited - we are all nowadays familiar with Lord Kitchener’s “Your Country Needs You” poster. But most of all, this superb book is a powerful reminder of these two major battles of World War I.

The treacherous conditions, the alarming scale of fatalities and the grinding nature of trench warfare are effectively captured by Major General Thompson. A must for military historians and a terrific tool for learning about this significant era in British and European history.

Major General Julian Thompson

      Major General Julian Thompson

Major General Julian Thompson is a leading military historian and a distinguished veteran of the 1982 Falkland Islands War.

The Somme & Verdun - 1916 Remembered is published by Andre Deutsch. Price is £40 for the hardback.

For more information visit the website at

  The 50 Most Influential
     Britons of the Past

          100 Years
            By Peter Pugh
              Review Simon Fine

The 50 Most Influential Britons of the Past 100 Years by Peter Pugh

Peter Pugh presents his selection of the 50 most influential British men and women of the modern world. The 50 individuals have been selected, not because they are the most successful or the greatest in their field or because of their popularity (Dr Beeching for example!), but because they have each had a profound effect on the lives of Britons and the rest of the world.

Pugh discusses and ranks the influence of scientists and inventors such as Francis Crick, John Logie Baird and Alan Turing; lawmakers and leaders like prime ministers Attlee, Churchill and Thatcher; entrepreneurs including James Dyson, Mary Quant and Terence Conran; and cultural icons like J.K. Rowling and The Beatles. The top three places are held by an economist, a scientist and a civil servant.

Pugh is so successful in explaining the impact that each of the 50 have made, that I found myself thinking that most of them are strong contenders for the number one position. No doubt a compelling case could have been made for another equally impressive 50 British men and women to have been included.

Pugh makes no attempt to compare the 50 or to quantify their influence on our nation. I found this added to my enjoyment as it encouraged me to consider the relative merits of achievers from all walks of life, from politics to entertainment, from science to business.

The book is essentially a whistle-stop tour through recent British history and is wholly enjoyable and informative. I learnt a great deal about modern British history and many of the people who made that history.

Peter Pugh is a businessperson and company historian who has written more than 50 company histories on businesses from Rolls-Royce to Iceland. He is also the author of Introducing Thatcherism and Introducing Keynes, and lives by the sea in north Norfolk, and in Cambridge..

The 50 Most Influential Britons of the Last 100 Years is published by Icon Books. Price is £8.99 for the paperback.

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