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Sixtyplusurfers Competition

Win Cortex Challenge

Win Cortex Challenge from Esdevium Games

Sixtyplusurfers has teamed up with Esdevium Games to offer three lucky readers the chance to win Cortex Challenge.

Cortex Challenge is the exciting new brain busting card game by Esdevium Games, which uses the same fast-paced approach to family fun popularised by Dobble and Jungle Speed!

The game tests up to six players’ memory, cognition, and sensory perception. It even includes texture cards that are used during ‘Touch Challenges’, where players must guess what they are feeling, adding a unique element that is often neglected in games.

Win Cortex Challenge from Esdevium Games

Players’ brain powers are stretched to the max as they race to be the first to match symbols, correctly, remember all objects on a card or find the route out of mazes, among many other tests!

Winning challenges allows players to add pieces to their brain puzzle which they must complete before their opponents in order to win the game. Cortex Challenge is sure to tax the mental abilities of players both young and old!

Cortex is available in Geo and Kids versions

The game also comes in both Geo and Kids versions, making the game accessible to more specialised or younger audiences!

Cortex Challenge is suitable for 2 to 6 players for ages 8 and over. RRP is £12.99

Cortex Challenge is available to buy from

For Your Chance to Win

   Tell us the name
       of this well
   loved physicist

Tell us the name of this well loved physicist?

a) Peter Capaldi
b) Richard Osman
c) Doctor Hilary Jones
d) Professor
Brian Cox

  To Enter the Competition

Tell us the name of this well loved physicist? Then send in your answer, together with your full name, postal address and telephone number by clicking on the Sixtyplusurfers link below:

* Please label your entry Cortex Challenge Competition

* This competition is open to
our UK visitors only


     Autumn Events
       at Blists Hill

     Victorian Town

Celebrate Harvest Festival at Blists Hill Victorian Town

The residents of Blists Hill Victorian Town, near Ironbridge will be celebrating harvest time at a traditional festival on Sunday, 18th September with a display of produce and a thanksgiving service.

Celebrate Harvest Festival at Blists Hill Victorian Town

Go along to the small Mission Church at 12 noon where they will be singing hymns in celebration of this year’s harvest.

Afterwards join the festivities in the Pleasure Gardens, where there will be an open air service from 2pm. The best of the season’s produce will also be on show for all to admire.

Celebrate Harvest Festival at Blists Hill Victorian Town

As the celebrations take place, the Victorian townsfolk will still be going about their daily lives in the authentic houses and shops, baking bread, counting coins at the Bank and talking about Victorian remedies in the Chemist.

Craftsmen will also be at work in the artisans’ corner. Chat to the townsfolk then enjoy a celebratory pint in the New Inn or portion of traditionally prepared fish and chips from the town’s Fried Fish Dealer.

Celebrate Halloween at Blists Hill Victorian Town

Blists Hill will also be celebrating Halloween with the arrival of cult characters from the Ghostbusters movies. The Town’s Ghostly Gaslight evening takes place on Saturday, 29th October, when the streets, shops and houses will be transformed into eerie places filled with ghosts, ghouls and monsters.

You are encouraged to dress up in your scariest costume and watch out for the Marshmallow Man, as the massive 31ft high inflatable paranormal monster will be looming over the darkened streets.

You won’t miss the replica of the iconic Ghostbusters Miller Meteor Cadillac car, as it measures a vast 23ft in length, 9ft in height and weighs 5 tonnes. If that was not enough, its four bars of emergency flashing lights will be dazzling the assembled spooks and the films’ famous sound tracks will be playing from its impressive sound-system.

You can meet two Ghostbuster characters complete with boiler suits and Proton Back Packs, which they plan to use to suck up the town’s many ghosts. But don’t be put off, you will be very welcome to have a selfie taken with the Ghostbusters and their car.

See the replica of the iconic Ghostbusters Miller Meteor Cadillac car

Elsewhere around Blists Hill, you will be kept guessing what spooky characters you might meet next – will it be the wicked wizard casting spells, the local carpenter seeking victims to nail in his coffin, ghostly apparitions in the cottages’ windows or zombies looking for brains. One of the many highlights of the night will be a firework show in front of the old Brick and Tile Works, along with pyrotechnic displays around the Town that will create scary scenes.

This popular, fun and safe event takes place between 6pm and 9pm. Tickets are priced at £9.95 adults; £6.75 children aged 3-15 years and £31 for a family (2+2). Tickets must be purchased in advance either online; from any of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums’ ticket points or the Ironbridge Visitor Information Centre.

All under 16s must be accompanied by an adult; Ironbridge Gorge Museum Passports are not valid for this evening and dogs will not be allowed.

A combined family ticket (2+2) for Ghostly Gaslight and the Fireworks Night (5th November) is priced at £55.

Visitors are advised to park at the Ironbridge Park and Ride, located at the top of Jiggers Bank (TF4 3QE) where a regular bus service will take them to the event for a small fee. Limited parking is available at Blists Hill Victorian Town.

For further information about Ironbridge visit

Or call the Ironbridge Tourist Information Centre on 01952 433 424.

 New Gallery at Bank
  of England Museum

Bank of England Museum

The world’s earliest paper money will take its place alongside the newest, most technologically sophisticated Bank of England note in a new permanent gallery at the Bank of England Museum.

The Banknote Gallery at the Museum will present the story of the banknote, from its earliest days when paper money was largely mistrusted, to the new £5 note, packed with security features, historically significant designs and printed on polymer rather than paper.

The Banknote Gallery at the Museum will present the story of the banknote

Filled with original drawings, artwork, designs, notes and sketches from the Bank’s collection, the new Banknote Gallery opens on 7th September 2016 at the Bank of England Museum in the Bank’s Threadneedle Street building. The new polymer £5 note launches a week later, on 13th September. Entry to the Museum is free.

The new gallery will build a clear picture of how banknotes have changed since the Bank was established in 1694. Among the highlights are the earliest paper notes from Ming dynasty China and the ‘running cash’ notes - as old as the Bank of England itself - accepted as payment in place of a pile of gold.

The gallery will also include the earliest Bank of England notes from the end of the 17th century and classic designs such as the ‘white fiver’ which lasted for 100 years. As soon as banknotes appeared, so did forgeries; the story of banknote design is paralleled by an alternative history of the development of counterfeiting.

Since its foundation, the Bank of England has been in a constant battle to stay several steps ahead of forgers; even the simple black and white notes of the 18th century contained a whole battery of subtle security features, including complex watermarks and minute secret marks that helped Bank clerks identify genuine notes from forgeries. Many forgeries ended up at the Bank of England.

Among those forgeries on display are brilliantly plausible notes which are surviving evidence of Operation Bernhard, the Nazi plan to flood and ruin the economy of the British Empire during the Second World War. Created by prisoners at Sachsenhausen concentration camp, the notes were intended to be dropped by plane over Britain, picked up and used by members of the public.

While this never happened, the Bank was forced to withdraw all notes over £5 and re-design the £5 note after the forgeries began to
appear in circulation in Britain.

Among those forgeries on display are brilliantly plausible notes which are surviving evidence of Operation Bernhard, the Nazi plan to flood and ruin the economy of the British Empire during the Second World War

Also on display are earlier forgeries, many of whose creators were punished by hanging. Among these is a £5 note altered to a £50, which was discovered when it was used to buy a cow at a country fair in 1850. During the Bank Restriction Period in the early 18th century, hundreds of forgers received the death penalty for counterfeits of Bank of England notes.

The gallery will include a wealth of beautifully intricate original design artwork, much never previously displayed, which illustrates the complete process of creating a note. This includes material by Banknote designers including Daniel Maclise, Harry Eccleston, Stephen Gooden and Roger Withington, initial design sketches, detailed master drawings, test prints and printing plates for scores of different notes, presenting a roll call of characters that have found their way on to banknotes, as well as the changing face of the Queen and how the Bank’s Britannia emblem has evolved.

The Bank of England Museum

And alongside the designs which became Bank of England banknotes will be all sorts of designs submitted to the Bank in the early 19th century after it announced a competition to make the ‘Inimitable Note’ – a banknote that could not be copied. Elsewhere, the gallery will follow the journey of a banknote from creation to destruction and eventual recycling.

The gallery will also include large, historic piece of design machinery - a geometric chuck lathe. Built in 1905 and in use until the 1980s, the machine created the ‘Spirograph’ patterns that decorated the Series A (1928) and Series C (1960s) banknotes. A combination of art and mathematics, the lathe generated an almost infinite number of complex patterns, virtually impossible to copy exactly, either by hand or

The inspiration for the new gallery is the Bank of England’s newest note, the polymer £5. The most sophisticated Bank of England note ever designed, its thin plastic material also makes it stronger, safer, longer-lasting (21,835 damaged paper notes had to be replaced in 2015) and cleaner than those that preceded it. Within its design are a see-through window, a gold and silver Elizabeth Tower and a portrait of Winston Churchill.

The Churchill illustration is based on the famous 1941 photograph of Churchill by Yusuf Karsh, known as ‘The Roaring Lion’. His slightly indignant expression may be put down to the fact that the photography sitting was very rushed and he had just had the cigar that he’d been tetchily smoking whisked away from him by Karsh. The new £5 will be followed in summer 2017 by a polymer £10 note featuring Jane Austen and, by 2020, a polymer £20 note featuring JMW Turner.

Curator of the Bank of England Museum, Jennifer Adams says, “The new polymer £5 note begins a new era of banknote design and technology and gives us the perfect opportunity to show off the most beautiful, significant and, in some cases, surprising notes in the Bank’s collection. The pairing of notes from the 1690s with the new note shows how far we have come, but while the original notes may appear
simple in comparison, they were packed with design tricks designed to outwit counterfeiters.

At the outset, banknotes had to win over a sceptical public that could not see the link between a piece of paper and a pile of gold. I hope that the new gallery will make people regard the note in their pocket differently, as a beautiful, innovative work of art, before they have to part with it.”

Visitor Information

The Bank of England Museum

There is no charge for admission to the Museum or for any event.

Entrance: Bartholomew Lane (off Threadneedle Street), London EC2R 8AH (a two-minute walk from Bank Underground Station).

Opening hours: Monday-Friday: 10am-5pm (last entry 4.30pm). Closed Public and Bank Holidays and weekends, except for special events taking place on those days.

For more information about the Bank of England Museum please visit the website at

News & Book Reviews

Publishing People’s Passions

Bristol-based SilverWood Books is a company which helps self-funding writers realise their publishing ambitions

Bristol-based SilverWood Books, a company which helps self-funding writers realise their publishing ambitions, has noticed an interesting increase in the number of those wishing to produce a book about their passions.

Recent successful publications include a retired police dog handler recounting his experiences in the Avon & Somerset Constabulary Police Dog Section over three decades (A Job With Bite); a former health visitor researching family history and recording her late father’s time in RAF Bomber Command in WWII (The Man on the Mantelpiece); and a cricket enthusiast travelling the length and breadth of Britain to capture beautiful images of the country’s most scenic cricket grounds (Sweet Shires).

Sweet Shires by Dave Morton

Each of these books, and many others, have found a natural audience with the authors’ friends and families, and also more widely through online retailers and local or national book shops.

New author Peter Chaplin recently launched his police dog handler memoir A Job With Bite. He has seen thousands of hits on his website before and after publication, and has sold almost 300 copies in the first two weeks alone.

A Job With Bite by Peter Chaplin

Peter says, “I’ll admit I’m a bit of a techno-dinosaur, and I never thought I’d write a book, let alone have it published. But Helen Hart and her team at SilverWood were so helpful and encouraging.

"There was a lot to learn and do – working with a typist and then the editor and proof reader, talking about cover design, sorting and organising the photographs I wanted to include – but the SilverWood team made it all so easy.”

Developments in printing technology, coupled with the ease of using the internet to promote books, has meant that nowadays authors find it straightforward and relatively cost-effective to publish their own work, or find a reputable company to help them.

The Man On The Mantelpiece by Janet Denny

Established in 2007, SilverWood Books was at the forefront of the independent and self-publishing revolution and has established a solid reputation for professionalism, high standards, and a caring approach.

The small specialist team works closely with its authors at every step of the publishing process – from the enquiry stage when a writer asks simply, “Is my manuscript good enough to publish?” through to the time a finished book is launched and promoted.

Writers are supported with a range of services such as editing, proofreading, book design, wholesale and retail book distribution, as well as ongoing advice and information.

The SilverWood Books Team

“The cricket photo-book Sweet Shires has been a fascinating project to work on,” explains SilverWood Publishing Assistant Catriona Dickie. “Although we’ve produced colour books with photographs before, this was SilverWood’s first true ‘photo-book’. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of working closely with the author to arrange his collection of many years’ worth of photographs into a lovely 108-page full-colour book.”

SilverWood’s list of authors includes household names and literary prize-winners, as well as those with more humble ambitions to write and publish a memoir intended only for family and friends. The key feature of a SilverWood book is that it aims to match or even exceed the production values of traditional publishing houses such as HarperCollins and Random House – and this means a SilverWood author stands a better chance of persuading bookshops to stock their book, and arranging author events and book signings.

SilverWood titles are welcome at many bookshops across the UK, such as Waterstones, Foyles, and a variety of smaller independent stores.

Contact the SilverWood Books Team

If you’ve got a passion and you’d like to publish a high-quality book about it, you can find out more about SilverWood Books and the team at


Or speak to the team on: Telephone 0117 9105829.

Anton and Erin
Swing Time

Anton and Erin in Swing Time

Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag announce a spectacular new show ‘Swing Time’, embarking on a major tour of the UK and Ireland for 2017.

‘Swing Time’ promises a wonderful performance of music, song and dance delivered with aplomb by the nation’s favourite ballroom couple and a fantastic supporting cast including brilliant star vocalist Lance Ellington, six world-class Ensemble Dancers and the 25-piece London Concert Orchestra conducted by Richard Balcombe.

Anton and Erin in Swing Time

This exciting production will feature sensational new choreography and sparkling costumes set to a musical backdrop of timeless classics such as ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’, ‘I Got Rhythm’, ‘Moondance’, ‘I’ve Got The World On A String’, ‘Guys And Dolls’ and ‘Le Jazz Hot’.

The show will also feature a very popular ‘Q and A’ section providing some fun interaction with the audience.

Commenting on ‘Swing Time’, Anton Du Beke says, “Erin and I absolutely love going out on tour. We are in our element. We look forward to welcoming old friends and new and hope they will enjoy the occasion as much as we do.”

Anton & Erin … Swing Time 2017, dates and venues

Anton and Erin in Swing Time


Thursday 26th, 7.30pm Northampton Royal & Derngate. Telephone: 01604 624811
Friday 27th 7.30pm Northampton Royal & Derngate. Telephone: 01604 624811
Saturday 28th 2.30 & 7.30pm Birmingham Symphony Hall. Telephone: 0121 345 0603
Sunday 29th 3.00pm Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Telephone: 0844 871 7607


Friday 3rd 7.30pm Sheffield City Hall. Telephone: 0114 2 789 789
Saturday 4th 7.30pm Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. Telephone: 0151 709 3789
Sunday 5th 3.00pm Nottingham Royal Concert Hall Telephone: 0115 989 5555
Tuesday 7th 7.30pm Bradford Alhambra Theatre. Telephone: 01274 432 000
Wednesday 8th, 2.00 & 7.30pm Bradford Alhambra Theatre. Telephone: 01274 432 000
Friday 10th, 7.45pm Basingstoke The Anvil. Telephone: 01256 844 244
Saturday 11th, 2.30 & 7.30pm London Barbican Hall Telephone: 020 7638 8891
Friday 17th, 7.30pm Reading The Hexagon. Telephone: 0118 960 6060
Saturday 18th, 3.00 & 7.30pm Guildford G Live Telephone: 01483 369350
Sunday, 19th 3.00pm Cardiff St. David’s Hall, Telephone: 029 2087 8444
Wednesday 22nd, 7.30pm Gateshead The Sage Telephone: 0191 443 4661
Friday 24th, 7.30pm Stoke Victoria Hall. Telephone: 0844 871 7649
Saturday 25th, 3.00 & 7.30pm Manchester The Bridgewater Hall. Telephone: 0161 907 9000
Sunday, 26th 3.00pm Bristol Hippodrome. Telephone: 0844 871 3012.


Friday, 3rd, 7.30pm Dundee Caird Hall. Telephone: 01382 434 940
Saturday 4th, 7.30pm Edinburgh Usher Hall. Telephone: 0131 228 1155
Sunday 5th, 3.00pm Glasgow Royal Concert Hall Telephone: 0141 353 8000
Wednesday 8th, 8.00pm Southend Cliffs Pavilion Telephone: 01702 351 135
Thursday 9th, 2.30 & 8.00pm Southend Cliffs Pavilion Telephone: 01702 351 135
Saturday 11th, 2.30 & 7.30pm Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre. Telephone: 0844 576 3000.
Sunday 12th, 5.00pm Southampton Mayflower Theatre. Telephone: 02380 711811
Thursday 23rd, 7.30pm Llandudno Venue Cymru, Telephone: 01492 872 000
Saturday 25th, 7.30pm Belfast Waterfront. Telephone: 028 9033 4455
Sunday 26th, 3.15pm Dublin National Concert Hall Telephone: 01 417 0000
Thursday 30 7.30pm Leicester De Montfort Hall. Telephone: 0116 233 3111


Saturday 1st, 3.00 & 7.30pm York Barbican. Telephone: 0844 854 2757.
Sunday 2nd, 3.00pm Milton Keynes Theatre
Telephone: 0844 871 7652.

For further information and tickets: click on  and national ticket hotline: 0844 847 2319 (booking fees apply).

Calls will cost 7 pence per minute plus your network access charge.

New Forest Food & Drink Festival

New Forest Food & Drink Festival

Afternoon Tea, Cheese tasting with Mr Lyburn and Smoking Hot – a Smoke House Dinner – are just three of the newly announced headline events lined up for the first New Forest Food & Drink Festival which takes place this autumn.

There’ll be a week of culinary events, produce, tasting, dishes and activities for every foodie - all taking place under 15 themes showcasing the very best food and drink the Forest has to offer, from October 31st – November 6th 2016.

There’ll be a week of culinary events, produce, tasting, dishes and activities for every foodie

Lime Wood, a boutique country house, is laid-back luxury at its best – the perfect location to headline the Heritage, Artisan and Charcuterie theme! Chef Angela Hartnett and Lime Wood’s Luke Holder do the cooking, pulling together both of their much admired signature styles, to create Hartnett Holder & Co, the hotel’s relaxed and stylish restaurant. Their vision is to produce locally sourced Italian dishes with a respectful nod to the seasons and to Italian culinary ideologies.

Guests are invited to attend on the evening of Monday October 31st and be welcomed with a glass of fizz, before tucking into a Smoke House feast. Each course will feature home cured and smoked meats or salmon from HH&Co's very own New Forest Smoke House.

Enjoy a Smoke House feast

Fans of the Very English Afternoon Tea won’t want to miss the headline event planned for this theme. The Michelin-starred Montagu Arms Hotel in Beaulieu village takes tea very seriously and no wonder – they were voted the Tea Guild’s ‘Top Country House Hotel Tea in the UK’ and Head Chef Matthew Tomkinson will be giving a talk on this very important tradition in quintessentially English surroundings.

Starting his career in 1998, Matthew Tomkinson went on to win the prestigious Roux Scholarship in 2005 (at the age of 29). In 2009 he won a Michelin star for the Terrace Restaurant and has retained his ranking ever since.

Enjoy a selection of sandwiches, homemade scones and sweet treats for tea

The tea, which takes place on Wednesday, November 2nd, promises ‘A unique course by course tasting journey starting with a savoury selection of delicate finger sandwiches, warm served fresh oven-baked homemade scones, before arriving at an array of sweet treats.’

Headlining the Cheese & The Forest Larder theme on Friday November 4th is The Drift Inn, set in the heart of the New Forest. The Drift Inn serves home cooked food and a great selection of ales, with wellies, walking boots and dogs always welcome.

Headlining the Cheese & The Forest Larder theme on Friday November 4th is The Drift Inn, set in the heart of the New Forest

Mr Lyburn himself will be the guest speaker at the cheese tasting event, showcasing an array of locally handmade cheeses produced at Lyburn Farm. After a delicious tasting session, guests will be invited to choose from a variety of Ploughmans, undoubtedly a true forest favourite.

Tickets for all headline events are limited, so these can be reserved on a provisional basis from the official New Forest Food & Drink Festival website.

Enjoy delicious fresh food at the  New Forest Food & Drink Festival

For more information about these and the other events planned for the New forest Food and Drink Festival please visit the website at   

In The Footsteps
of the Plant Hunters

In The Footsteps of the Plant Hunters at Borde Hill Garden

The holidays may be over for another year but the fun at Borde Hill Garden lingers on well into the autumn.

On 15th September, Gardener’s Question Time regular Matthew Biggs will host a talk entitled ‘In the Footsteps of the Plant Hunters’, about the extraordinary adventures of the great Victorian plant hunters who worked for nurseries and private collectors, including Colonel Stephenson Robert Clarke, the current owner’s great grandfather. Their discoveries transformed British gardening and many varieties – which will be pointed out during a guided walk as part of Matthew Biggs’ talk - still survive today at Borde Hill.

The autumn is a magical time to explore the Garden, as the leaves on the trees change colour and contrast with the hues of late-flowering dahlias, roses and herbaceous border plants. It’s also the ideal season to get inspired for next year, too, which is why Head Gardener Andy Stevens (on Thursday 22nd and 30th September and Tuesday 4th October) is taking a guided walk around the garden looking at seasonal interest and discussing what’s required to put the garden to bed for the winter.

September is also the last chance for visitors to enjoy this year’s acclaimed sculpture trail, which has transformed the historic garden into an outdoor gallery alive with figurative and abstract works, including Angela Conner’s elegant water installation, Aquapoise, in the peaceful Italian Garden.

For more information visit  or call 01444 450326.

 Sixtyplusurfers Book Reviews

   The Bertie Project
  By Alexander McCall Smith
           Review by Jenny Itzcovitz

The Bertie Project by Alexander McCall Smith

Bertie's back! In the eleventh instalment of Alexander McCall Smith's best selling 44 Scotland Street series, we return once more to fiction's favourite street to catch up with the goings-on of its lively inhabitants. The Bertie Project, now officially part of the longest-running serial novel in the world, guarantees to delight readers with its gentle satire and charming characters.

Brimming with the wit and wisdom that has become a trademark of McCall Smith's writing, this new addition to the series sees the residents of Scotland Street caught up in all kinds of amusing antics. Bertie's mother, Irene returns from her travels to find he has been exposed to the worst of evils including cartoons, movies and Irn Bru. With her wrath falling on her husband Stuart, will their marriage survive? How will newly reformed narcissist Bruce's love affair turn out? And will Bertie really escape Scotland Street to live with his grandmother, Nicola?

McCall Smith's tales of the (nearly) always sunny Scotland Street are loved worldwide. With over 120,000 books sold so far, Bertie, the ever-innocent child genius, is undoubtedly the favourite of the series. The Bertie Project is a wonderful addition to this beloved collection and is sure to put a smile on your face.

I'm a huge fan of the 44 Scotland Street novels so I was delighted to receive The Bertie Project and catch up on all my favourite characters. Young Bertie at the tender age of seven is having a tough time, his mother Irene is determined to turn him into a well educated protégé, teaching him Italian, taking him to yoga classes, making sure he reads what she considers are the right books and eating healthy food. But is taking him for regular appointments to a psychiatrist 'to control the way he is thinking' just a step too far?

Meanwhile her husband Stuart is being pushed to his limits, particularly as he is getting the blame for letting Bertie watch television, eat the wrong food and drift into 'bad habits'. Will he continue to put up with her criticism and domineering ways? Or does he have other plans in mind?

It's always a joy to catch up with Bruce, the heartthrob of Scotland Street. With his good looks but incredibly narcissist nature he has no hesitation in breaking a woman's heart. But things are set to change when he meets his match, Clare from Australia, who tries to turn him into a 'hipster' and get him into dangerous extreme sports. Will he fall for her or save his face?

Then there's Elspeth with her lively triplets. When one of them catches Hand-Foot-Mouth disease, her two Danish au pairs are horrified. Will they catch this contagious disease or bid the family farewell? And how about Domenica who is married to the artistic Angus and his ever loyal dog, Cyril who are always there to save the day. Catch up with all these wonderful characters in this delightfully gentle satire and page turning serial novel.

As well as a fabulous story, the book includes so many words of wisdom and heartfelt sentiments, that you can't help picking up some of the joy and warmth from this marvellous storyteller. The perfect tonic for a rainy day when you need some light-hearted cheer and complete escapism. Curl up on the sofa with a large mug of hot chocolate, a generous slice of cake and a warm blanket, and enjoy this delightful tale.

Alexander McCall Smith

      Author, Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world's most prolific and most popular authors. For many years he was a professor of Medical Law, then, after the publication of his highly successful No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which has sold over twenty five million copies, he devoted his time to the writing of fiction and has seen his various series of books translated into over forty-six languages and become best sellers throughout the world.

These include the 44 Scotland Street novels, first published as a serial novel in the Scotsman, the Isabel Dalhousie novels, the Von Igelfeld series and the Corduroy Mansions novels.

The Bertie Project is published by Polygon. Price is £16.99 for the paperback.

For more information about the book visit the website at

  All These Perfect

          By Aoife Clifford
        Review by Jenny Itzcovitz

All These Perfect by Aoife Clifford

'This is about three deaths. Actually more, if you go back far enough. I say deaths but perhaps all of them were murders. It's a grey area. Murder, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. So let's just call them deaths and say I was involved. This story could be told a hundred different ways.'

For Penelope Sheppard, university offers an escape from her troubled past. Running from a life weighted down with scandal and tragedy, Pen sees this as the ideal place to reinvent herself among perfect strangers. Life in her new halls of residence feels like a wonderland of sex, drugs, and maybe even love.

Little by little, through Pen's flawed narration and tantalising diary entries, secrets, truths and lies come to light and a dangerous dilemma unfolds, twisting and turning until the very last page. Reminiscent of Donna Tartt's The Secret History and Tana French's The Secret Place, this compelling debut reveals a world where the truth is constantly being revised and no one is who they seem.

I'm always on the lookout for something different and unique to review, so I was keen to read All These Perfect Strangers. From the very first page I was gripped as the character of Penelope Sheppard begins to develop and we find out what has happened to her.

The novel goes backwards and forwards in time as Pen tells her story to Frank, a psychiatrist, as she tells him about her time at university and reads him extracts from her diary. There are also memories of her childhood friend, Tracey. As well as her mother and her unsavoury boyfriend, Terry.

As author Aoife Clifford drip-feeds events and experiences that happened to Pen, we realise that all the characters have secrets and flaws, and everything is not always what it seems. Pen is also hiding things and only telling Frank the parts of her diary and feelings that she wants him to hear.

The story picks up pace as we learn of the murders that Pen has often witnessed, but we aren't sure if she is involved or whether she is in danger of being a victim herself. The characters are realistically drawn and despite what Pen has or hasn't done or been an accomplice to, we find ourselves being sympathetically drawn into her story and what she has experienced over her young and difficult life.

I was completely enthralled until the very last page of this cleverly constructed and thought provoking crime thriller. It's packed with plenty of drama, twists and turns, and edge of the seat suspense. I look forward to reading more books by this talented new author.

Aoife Clifford

                 Author, Aoife Clifford

These Perfect Strangers is Aoife Clifford's debut novel, but she has won the two major Australian crime writing prizes in short story form and been shortlisted for the UK Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger.

In 2013 she was awarded an Australian Society of Author's membership for All the Perfect Strangers. Born in London of Irish parents, she grew up in New South Wales. She now lives in Melbourne with her husband and three children.

Find out more at

All These Perfect Strangers is published by Simon & Schuster. Price is £7.99 for the hardback.

For more information about the book visit the website at

Cook Healthy & Quick
         Review by Jenny Itzcovitz

Cook Healthy & Quick

Want to eat healthy - fast? Cook Healthy and Quick makes it easy. Bursting with ideas for clean and green salads, plant-based main courses, protein-packed breakfasts, virtuous grab-and-go snacks, and much more, this book offers over 300 delicious recipes using nourishing, easily sourced ingredients for which you won't need to search the health food shops.

Follow the latest health trends, such as natural sugar, gluten-free, raw, soups, and plant-based meals. Each easy-to-follow recipe in Cook Healthy and Quick has detailed nutritional information, with calorie, fat and sugar content highlighted. Plus each recipe can be made in 30 minutes or less, so you'll be rustling up Broad Bean Tortillas, Prawn Kebabs, Spicy Turkey Burgers, and Banana and Cranberry Ice Cream in no time.

I was really impressed by this beautifully presented cookery book. Packed with over 300 easy to make recipes which are both healthy and appetising, there is plenty of scope for preparing home cooked meals and treats with the minimum of effort.

Each recipe has its own stunning photograph, simple step-by-step instructions, nutrition advice and serving suggestions. There is plenty of scope for making healthy, nutritious meals with ingredients that are easily accessible and inexpensive to buy.

My favourite recipes are Broccoli Soup with Cheesy Croutons, Peas with Lettuce, Thai-Style Stir-Fried Minced Beef, Quick Banana Ice Cream, and Simple Tuiles - delicious! The perfect reference for anyone who enjoys healthy home cooking with simple to follow and easy recipes. This is a great buy for the Autumn or anyone who needs some inspiration in the kitchen.

Cook Healthy & Quick is published by DK. Price is £18.99 for the hardback.

For more information about the book click on

       Waterways of

        By Jonathan Mosse
            Review by
Simon Fine

Waterways of Britain by Jonathan Mosse

We are very fortunate to have inherited a historical network of canals, mostly built during the Canal Age of 1760 to 1840 by great canal engineers such as James Brindley and Thomas Telford. Originally the canals were built to transport goods such as coal, stone, cement, textiles and manufactured goods across the country. Individual canals were built and these were linked to form an extensive network which helped drive the industrial revolution.

But following a period of prosperity, the opening of the railways led to a decline in the traffic using canals which struggled to compete with their new competitor. Following a long period of decline, many of our canals have been given a new lease of life as many thousands of people have discovered that boating on Britain’s canals is a wonderful recreational activity.

Waterways of Britain offers an authoritative view of many of the contemporary inland waterways of England, Scotland and Wales. This picture is built up by delving into the history of each waterway, providing a timeline of important waterway developments from early beginnings through to the present day, a detailed description of the navigation and engineering highlights of each canal and the points of interest along the way.

Each chapter is illustrated with maps and over 300 contemporary photographs. There is a wealth of fascinating information on the challenges faced by the engineers who built the canals and the innovative solutions that they created to overcome these using features such as locks and tunnels.

Waterways of Britain is a perfect guide for canal boat enthusiasts and novices alike. It will also appeal to those who prefer to walk or cycle along towpaths. The book is packed with fascinating facts and features new insights into Britain’s waterways and how they helped shape our industrial heritage and inspired a new type of tourism. This handy guide offers tips on access points, supporting maps with stunning photography and also reminisces on a bygone era when life moved at a more leisurely pace.

Jonathan Mosse was brought up in rural Yorkshire and later in mid-Wales. He has researched and written the Nicholson Waterways Guides for over 25 years – and more recently Waterways of Britain – having developed a fascination for Britain’s inland waterways whilst teaching.

Waterways of Britain is published by Harper Collins. Price is £16.99 for the paperback.

For more information about the book visit the website at

    Grow Vegetables

        By Alan Buckingham
             Review by Simon Fine

Grow Vegetables by Alan Buckingham

Growing your own vegetables is an increasingly popular hobby in Britain. With encouragement from television and newspaper gardening experts and help from garden centres and supermarkets where packets of seeds and young plants are widely available at affordable prices, millions of us are enjoying growing and eating our home grown vegetables.

Sadly, despite our best endeavours, the results are sometimes disappointing. Seeds that fail to germinate, young plants devoured by slugs, snails and other pests, apparently healthy crops blighted by bewildering diseases. The enthusiastic amateur vegetable grower needs a little help to grow successful crops of vegetables.

Alan Buckingham’s recently published Grow Vegetable is a great source of information. Beginning with a wealth of useful tips on how to plan a vegetable plot, the mysteries of soil, fertilisers, tools, crop rotation – all the essentials that the grower needs to be aware of before the planting can begin.

The main sections include how to grow cabbages & leaf vegetables, root & stem vegetables, peas & beans, cucumbers & squashes and salads. Plus a chapter on growing each of twenty popular herbs. Each chapter is beautifully illustrated with photographs, so you visualise the results you are aiming to achieve!

Each section offers advice on where and when to plant each vegetable, sowing, planting out, caring for your crop, harvesting and storing. There is also information on what can go wrong, explaining which pests and diseases are likely to attack your crop and how to avoid the potential damage. Each section has a mini-timetable of when to sow, plant out and harvest each vegetable and there is a dedicated chapter giving a month by month vegetable year planner which is especially helpful.

Grow Vegetables is a splendid grow-your-own guide for all gardeners and foodies looking to grow their own vegetables. From juicy tomatoes and crunchy lettuce, to courgettes, potatoes and runner beans, I have grown my own vegetables and so can you, no matter what space you have to work with.

Alan Buckingham is a freelance writer with over 25 years' experience in illustrated publishing, both as an editor and an author. He writes predominantly on his two main hobbies - gardening and photography. Grow Vegetables is illustrated with Alan's own photography.

Grow Vegetables is published by DK. Price is £16.99 for the hardback.

For more information about the book click on


  Wrinklies Large-Print
     Crossword Puzzles

            Review by Simon Fine

Wrinklies Large-Print Crossword Puzzles

We are often told that memory can be improved significantly simply by doing mental exercises. The brain is like a muscle - if you don't give it regular workouts, its functions will decline. One of the best ways of exercising the brain is to do crossword puzzles and word games. However books can be difficult to read for long periods if their print size is too small to be comfortable for our eyes. So it is great to learn of a book that has recently been published by Carlton Books under their “Wrinklies” banner.

The Wrinklies Large-Print Crossword Puzzles is a superb volume of large-print puzzles which has been designed especially for people who need the puzzle to occupy more of the page. None of the fiddly, tiny text in this book. Everything is spelled out loud and proud!

The book contains 150 crossword puzzles, one per page, with the solutions provided at the end of the volume. The puzzles are not especially cryptic, so are not limited to experts in crosswords. Mind you, I struggled to work out the answers and was grateful for the answer pages!

Carlton Books have also published a companion volume of large-print puzzles titled Wrinklies Large-Print Wordsearch Puzzles for anyone who enjoys word search puzzles. Needless to say, this is also designed to suit anyone who finds books with small print a bit of nuisance. Regardless of the Wrinklies in the title, these books are ideal for puzzle fans of any age and will provide many hours of enjoyment and challenge.

Wrinklies Large-Print Crossword Puzzles is published by Carlton Books. Price is £7.99 for the paperback.

For more information about the book visit the website at