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Sixtyplusurfers Competition

Win Your Favourite Version of Dobble

Dobble Kids Finding Dory

Sixtyplusurfers has teamed up with Esdevium Games to offer four lucky readers the chance to win the award winning Dobble in a choice of one of five fabulous versions. Choose from Finding Dory, Star Wars, Cars, Kids or regular Dobble as your prize.

Dobble Kids Finding Dory


Dobble Kids Finding Dory consists of 30 cards, featuring 6 images from the Finding Dory movie. Match the same image between each game card faster than your friends and you could be the winner.

Dobble Kids Finding Dory

Like its big brother Dobble, Dobble Kids Finding Dory offers five mini-games. Three were inspired by Dobble, two are especially designed for this version for children.

There are also less symbols, to simplify and shorten the game. Great for parties and bringing people together of different ages, Dobble Kids Finding Dory, is the fun filled game of seeing double!

For details click on www.amazon.co.uk

Dobble Kids

Dobble Kids

Dobble Kids consists of 30 cards, featuring 30 different animal symbols. Match the same animal between each game card faster than your friends. Like its big brother Dobble, Dobble Kids offers five mini-games.

Three were inspired by Dobble, two are especially designed for this version for children. There are also less symbols, to simplify and shorten the game. It's great for parties and people of all different ages. Anyone can play.


Dobble Kids

The handy Dobble Kids tin includes 30 colourful cards. Perfect for taking on holiday or bring it over to a friend's house to play.

For details click on
www.amazon.co.uk


Dobble

Dobble

Dobble is a speedy observation game where players race to match the identical symbol between cards. Players compete with each other to find the matching symbol between one card and another. Every card is unique and has only one symbol in common with any other in the deck.

The match can be difficult to spot as the size and positioning of the symbols can vary on each card. As the game is based on reactions and visual perception, rather than knowledge or strategy, there is no advantage for adults over children, making it the perfect family game.

Dobble

There are five different ways to play Dobble, so it's always exciting. Simple to learn, quick to play, but a challenge to master and win. Dobble's game play and its pocket sized tin make it the ideal party or travel game. Suitable for ages 6+ and playable by 2-8 players.

For details click on www.amazon.co.uk


Cars Dobble

Cars Dobble

Cars Dobble is a vibrant new game featuring characters from the Disney Pixar movie. The action packed game features six different symbols or characters on each Dobble card. Your goal is to find it faster than your opponents!

This exciting new version includes characters from both Cars movies and is suitable for 2-5 players aged from 4+.

Cars Dobble

Star Wars Dobble

Star Wars Dobble

Star Wars meets Dobble in this brand new game based on everyone's favourite movie. Be the first to find symbols from Episodes I to VI of the cult saga.

The alliance between a best selling game and a strong license make this a winner for Star Wars fans. Suitable for ages 6+.

All versions of Dobble are available for £12.99.

For Your Chance to Win

 Tell us which animals
    are featured in the
  movie, Finding Dory?


     a) Cats
     b) Fish
     c) Giraffes
     d) Dinosaurs


  To Enter the Competition

Tell us which animals are featured in the movie, Finding Dory? Then send in your answer, together with your preferred version of Dobble (Finding Dory, Star Wars, Cars, Kids or regular Dobble) your full name, postal address and telephone number by clicking on the Sixtyplusurfers link below:
 sixtypluscomp@hotmail.co.uk

* Please label your entry
Dobble Competition


* This competition is open to
our UK visitors only

 

   Enjoy a Victorian
    Summer of Fun
       at Blists Hill


Enjoy a Victorian Summer of Fun at Blists Hill

Join the residents of Blists Hill Victorian Town, near Ironbridge this summer between 23rd July and 4th September as they host a great variety of traditional activities, fun family events and three spectacular themed weekends.

Over the weekend of 30th and 31st July Blists Hill is recreating the atmosphere of a traditional Victorian Country Fair. Go along and play traditional games on The Green with the Town’s residents, watch demonstrations, and be entertained by the Prince Albert Players. Working horse demonstrations will take place throughout the weekend and you can enter your four-legged friend in the daily fun Dog Show.

Discover how the Victorians harnessed steam to power their engines and other machines over the weekend of 20th and 21st August, when Blists Hill will be ‘In Steam’. The outdoor museum will be displaying its own eclectic collection of steam powered machines, which will be in their full working splendour.

Gypsy Wedding at Blists Hill

Then over the Bank Holiday weekend of 27th – 29th August, you can join the townsfolk as they celebrate a traditional gypsy wedding. See the elaborate gypsy wagons on The Green, watch the recreated ceremony at 2.30pm each day and then join in the fun and merriment.

Summer spirit

In between these special weekends the Town will be bustling with cheer and summer spirit. Meet the townsfolk as you follow one of the many family trails including ‘High Days and Holidays’, ‘Fashion Folly’ and ‘Selfie Points of Interest’, which will lead you to special places where a small selfie icon has been hidden. Take a selfie, post it on social media and show it to reception for a free lolly! Then challenge your skills with Victorian games on The Green such as stilts, quoits, skipping ropes and hoop and stick or simply relax and watch others play.

New this summer is a chance to have your photograph taken in the beach themed studio, which will be equipped with traditional Victorian seaside props so you can embrace the British seaside holiday; a concept invented by the Victorians

Other activities throughout the summer include candle dipping workshops in the Goods Shed; school house lessons; self-led colouring activities; a ride on the horse-drawn bus and sing-a-longs in the New Inn. There’s also peg doll making every Monday and performances to watch every afternoon by the Prince Albert Players.

Steam engine at Blists Hill

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.

For further information about Ironbridge visit www.ironbridge.org.uk

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

      Discover the
 Private Apartments
 of Blenheim Palace


Discover the private apartments at Blenheim Palace


Blenheim Palace open its Private Apartments to the public, offering visitors an intimate look at Marlborough family life.

Until September, visitors will have the exclusive opportunity to explore the East Side of the Palace; the Duke of Marlborough's Private Apartments. Discover the opulence of the rooms in which the Marlborough family have lived for generations, and learn about family life at Blenheim Palace.

The Billiard Room at Blenheim Palace

Entering the apartments is much less grand than the usual visitor entrance. The rooms have a mix of precious antiques, tapestries and artworks amongst modern living items and family photos.

The intimate tour begins with climbing the Main Stairs and peeking into the Dressing Room and through the Duke's Corridor. Taking visitors on an intimate tour of family life, visitors will view the Master Bedroom and Dining Room. Visitors will enjoy seeing the Sitting Room where His Grace and family relax and mixes priceless heirlooms with modern technology.

Discover the private apartments at Blenheim Palace

Walking through the Bar Area, visitors will be led to the Smoking Room which contains full size tapestries from the Alexandra the Great series which were commissioned by the 1st Duke. The Smoking Room is also home to the Stubbs Tiger, which is of the tiger which lived at Blenheim Palace from 1763 gifted to the 4th Duke by Lord Clive, Governor of Bengal.

In the extended tour, running at 10.45am and 1.25pm, visitors will also be taken around the Grand Cabinet, a room full of opulent history and family heirlooms. The Visitor's Book will also be on display, turned to the page of Clementine Hozier and Sir Winston Churchill.

The signatures are dated directly after the meal that followed their engagement at the Temple of Diana in Blenheim Palace's parkland. On the same page visitors can see Clementine's signature from the first time that she returned to the palace after her marriage.

Blenheim Palace

Guests must book at the Welcome Desk or Great Hall on the day; Palace, Park and Gardens ticket is also required. This tour starts at the front door to the Private Apartments. Please arrive no less than five minutes before your tour is due to start. The 10.45am and 1.25pm tours include the Grand Cabinet.

Admission details

The Private Apartment Tours at Blenheim Palace are open daily until September. Tours are £6.00, Adult & £5.00 Concession plus Palace, Park & Gardens tickets are Adult £24.90, Concession £19.90 - Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays.

For more information about Blenheim Palace visit www.blenheimpalace.com
 

News & Book Reviews

Summer Activities
at the Roman Baths

Find out how the Romans dressed at the Roman Baths

Families can enjoy an array of fun activities this summer at the Bath & North East Somerset Council-run Roman Baths, Fashion Museum and Victoria Art Gallery. All activities are either free or included in the admission price.

Children must be accompanied by an adult at all events. The events are as follows:

Roman Baths

The Roman Baths


Tuesday Times Tables
 

Tuesdays, 12th July - 23rd August, 6pm-8pm
Included in admission price
This series of evening sessions looks at objects from the Roman Baths' collections. There will be opportunities for handling original artefacts.

Togas and Tunics

Monday 25th July, 10am-1pm and 2pm-4pm
Included in admission price
Find out how the Romans dressed in our summer holiday family activity.

Legio

Monday 1st August, 10am-1pm and 2pm-4pm
Included in admission price
Investigate the Roman army and make a shield.

Gems

Monday 8th August, 10am-1pm and 2pm-4pm
Included in admission price
Explore the gems found in the hot spring and make some great designs.

Little Britannia

Monday 15th August, 10am-1pm and 2pm-4pm
Included in admission price
Investigate life as a child in Roman times.

Curious Coins

Monday 22nd August, 10am-1pm and 2pm-4pm
Included in admission price
Find out about some of the Roman Baths' special coins.

For details click on www.romanbaths.co.uk

Fashion Museum

Explore footwear and design some shoes at the Fashion Museum in Bath


Best Foot Forward

Tuesday 26th July, 10.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-3.30pm
Included in admission price
Explore footwear and design some shoes to help decorate our Fashion Floor. Draw around your shoes on giant paper, adding your own design.

Up Front

Tuesday 2nd August, 10.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-3.30pm
Included in admission price
Find out about the waistcoat and create a special waistcoat design.

Fan-tastic

Tuesday 9th August, 10.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-3.30pm
Included in admission price
Discover the beautiful fans on display and make a fan-tastic fan.

Hand in Glove

Tuesday 16th August, 10.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-3.30pm
Included in admission price
Marvel at some of the amazing gloves on display and create your own design.

Black and White

Tuesday 23rd August, 10.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-3.30pm
Included in admission price
Explore 60s design and make a two-tone design fit for the Swinging 60s.

For details click on www.fashionmuseum.co.uk

Victoria Art Gallery

Enjoy craft activities at the Victoria Art Gallery


Pots and Plates

Wednesday 27th July, 10.30am-11.30am and 12pm-1pm
Free activity, no need to book
Create patterns and shapes using pastels and tissue paper. For 3 to 6 year olds.

Criss Cross

Friday 29th July, 10.30am-11.30am and 12pm-1pm
Free activity, no need to book
Design and make a mini cross-stitch. For 6 to 11 year olds.

Puppet People

Wednesday 3rd August, 10.30am-11.30am and 12pm-1pm
Free activity, no need to book
Use collage to create a character from a wooden spoon. For 3 to 6 year olds.

Book Ends

Friday 5th August, 10.30am-11.30am and 12pm-1pm
Free activity, no need to book
Design a scrapbook or a sketchbook. For 6 to 11 year olds.

Fruits of the Season

Wednesday 10th August, 10.30am-11.30am and 12pm-1pm
Free activity, no need to book
Make a fruit picture using printing techniques. For 3 to 6 year olds.

Tree of Life

Friday 12th August, 10.30am-11.30am and 12pm-1pm
Free activity, no need to book
Explore trees in art and make a 3D tree. For 6 to 11 year olds.

Crazy Cats

Wednesday 17th August, 10.30am-11.30am and 12pm-1pm
Free activity, no need to book
Make collage cats using plates, tissue, pastels and card. For 3 to 6 year olds.

Art Lit Up

Friday 19th August, 10.30am-11.30am and 12pm-1pm
Free activity, no need to book
Create a candle holder using model magic. For 6 to 11 year olds.

Deep Blue Sea

Wednesday 24th August, 10.30am-11.30am and 12pm-1pm
Free activity, no need to book
Draw imaginary sea creatures from the deep using pastels, pencils and pens. For 3 to 6 year olds.

For details click on www.victoriagal.org.uk
 

A Garden of Herbs at Knebworth House

Karin Kadak at work in the Blue Garden at Knebworth House

         Gardener Karin Kadak at work
                    in the Blue Garden


Gardeners at one of Britain’s most historic venues have sown the seeds for new summer menus for visitors. The four-strong team at Knebworth House, Hertfordshire, which dates back to the 17th century, routinely provides chefs at the venue’s Garden Terrace Tea Room with fruit and vegetables grown in the estate’s walled kitchen garden.

But now they have extended their planting by sowing a variety of culinary herbs in the upper terrace adjoining the Garden Terrace Tea Room. And their planting is set to further inspire head chef Charlotte Obia in creating menus for visitors to the House and park and for the thousands of corporate clients who choose the Knebworth Barns conference facilities, for their meetings, team building activities and social events.

Assistant head gardener Matt Palacio with lemon balm

  Assistant head gardener Matt Palacio   
                     with lemon balm


“A large amount of the produce we serve at the Tea Room and to business visitors using our Tithe, Cobbold and Lytton Barns, is grown here at Knebworth,” says Charlotte, “meaning we’re always able to offer our visitors the freshest, most seasonal, produce.

“There is a real focus on herbs and botanicals within the catering industry at present and it will make the world of difference to have fresh rosemary, oregano, mint, chives and dill growing so close to the kitchen and to be able to cut them as and when needed”.

Knebworth is committed to ‘green,’ sustainable gardening in a chemical-free environment wherever possible, with head gardener, Adam Carveth, opting for coir rather than compost in the Gardens and ensuring surplus plant and vegetable produce is also offered for sale in the gift shop.

Knebworth House

Easily accessed from London and with efficient motorway links via the A1M, Knebworth offers a full range of catering services.

For more information visit the website at www.knebworthhouse.com
 

 Medieval Weekend at Hever Castle

Medieval Weekend at Hever Castle

Enjoy medieval entertainment and a thrilling Jousting Tournament at Hever Castle’s Medieval Weekend taking place on 23rd and 24th July.

Throughout the weekend visitors will have the opportunity to learn fascinating facts about medieval arms and 15th century equipment, dress up in fabric costumes as worn by the Yeoman class, and discover how to put on a suit of armour.

Battling it out in the Castle grounds, men-at-arms re-enactors will demonstrate foot combat and the various weapons they would have used.

Jousting at Hever Castle

The popular Summer Jousting Tournament will be in full swing, so don’t miss the procession from the Castle forecourt as Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn lead visitors through the grounds to the Jousting Arena.

Spectators will be treated to a thrilling display as the brave knights compete for points riding the quintain, spearing heads, and lancing rings followed by foot combat with weapons of their choice.

Round off a memorable day with a spot of shield painting for the kids or get the whole family involved in ‘Have-a-go-Archery’.

Medieval Weekend at Hever Castle

For more details about Hever Castle’s Medieval Weekend click on www.hevercastle.co.uk
 

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

This year's RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, sponsored by Viking Cruises, will feature its largest ever World Gardens section, with 6 destinations being brought to life through imaginative gardens. Set against the historic backdrop of Hampton Court Palace, at the world's largest flower show, this exciting feature offers the chance for exhibitors from all corners of the globe to recreate a sense of their destination through individually created gardens. This year's offering features designs ranging from the terraces of Machu Picchu to the mountains and vineyards of Oregon, and from 1066 country to Galicia's historic pilgrim's route.

There is a strong American theme with three 'Great Gardens of the USA' sponsored by Brand USA, all designed by Sadie May Stowell. To tie in with these gardens, RHS Garden Holidays www.rhsgardenholidays.com, the dedicated travel division of the Royal Horticultural Society, has created three unique garden themed itineraries featuring each destination, departing in 2017.

The Oregon Garden, designed to capture the natural beauty of the landscape of Oregon, takes inspiration from its mountain, wine country and scenic gorges. The backdrop will be formed by rocky outcrops representing mountains, with a cascading water feature running through it. These outcrops will be planted with conifer trees, whilst the central area will be lined with grape vines representing the many vineyards found in Oregon.

The Charleston Garden will evoke the spirit, charm and elegance of Charleston, taking inspiration from its famous hidden gardens as well as it's sense of history and sub tropical climate. Walls and wrought iron railings will encompass the garden on three sides, giving visitors the feeling of viewing one of Charleston's beautiful hidden gardens. Planting will display a rich tapestry of greens, including sub tropical plants.

Capturing the natural beauty of the landscape and gardens in and around Austin, Texas, The Austin Garden design takes inspiration from the Lady Bird Wildflower Centre, Blackland Prairie and Edward Plateau, incorporating the plants and habitats of these areas including Echinacea, Acacia, Agave, Ratibida and Coreopsis. Corten steel and sandstone, materials commonly used in the region, are incorporated into the design, with a structure made from aged, rusting scaffold poles topped with corrugated iron, and a water feature constructed from blocks of natural stone set in a circle supporting a Corten steel bowl forming focal points. Pathways are constructed from crushed stone and reflect the colours of the natural stone found in the region, with boulders creating a feeling of the Texan landscape.

Journey Latin America's Inca Garden - the show's first ever Latin American Garden, has been inspired by the ancient Inca civilisation of Peru who were pioneers in botany and horticulture. It evokes a sense of adventure, travel and discovery of a mysterious lost culture - the same emotions felt by explorer Hiram Bingham on his discovery of the 'lost' Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in 1911.

Thick native tropical plants surround the garden's entrance and hide a dramatic 3tiered terrace which echoes the famous Inca terraces, with intricate dry stone walling and the gentle sound of falling water. The garden also celebrates 2016 as the year of the first direct flights linking London with Peru's capital Lima in more than 30 years, which are now being operated by British Airways. Lima is the gateway to some of Latin America's greatest attractions, including Cusco, the Sacred Valley, the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu.

The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show takes place from 5th - 10th July

The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show takes place from 5th - 10th July.

For more information click on www.hrp.org.uk
 

Shakespeare's Will Returns to Birthplace

Shakespeare's Will returns to his birthplace

One of the most important original documents relating to William Shakespeare will return to his hometown for the very first time since it was written 400 years ago. William Shakespeare’s last will and testament will be making its way back to Stratford-upon-Avon for the very first time since it was written in March 1616. Cared for by The National Archives, the original will of the world’s greatest playwright will be loaned to The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust from 16th July – 4th August as part of a major exhibition celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare’s legacy. This is the first time Shakespeare’s will is returning to Stratford-upon-Avon since Dr. John Hall, Shakespeare’s son-in-law took the will to London in June 1616 to get a grant of probate.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the charity which promotes Shakespeare’s work, life and times and cares for the world’s largest Shakespeare-related museum and archives, will temporarily display Shakespeare’s last will and testament in its Treasures exhibition, which gives a fascinating insight into Shakespeare’s social circle.

Dr Delia Garratt, Director of Cultural Engagement at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust says, “We’re incredibly excited to be able to present this once in a lifetime opportunity for people to see Shakespeare’s original will back in his hometown where it was drafted by local solicitor Francis Collins 400 years ago. Displaying this historic document alongside other treasures from our collections will complete the story of Shakespeare’s social circle and his relationships with family, friends and business associates.”

Dr Katy Mair, Early Modern Records Specialist at The National Archives, said: “We are delighted to be working with The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to bring Shakespeare’s will back to his hometown. Thanks to work carried out by The National Archives’ conservation team, the will’s appearance is now closer to its original state allowing us to carry out new scientific and archival research into this iconic document. This summer offers a great opportunity to see the will, which includes three of Shakespeare’s six known signatures, before it has to rest for a recommended 20 years.”

William Shakespeare’s Will and Testament will be on display in the Treasures exhibition at Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon from 16th July – 4th August. For details visit www.shakespeare.org.uk
 

 Sixtyplusurfers Book Reviews

     The Little Coffee
       Shop of Kabul

      By Deborah Rodriguez
          Review by Jenny Itzcovitz

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez

Sunny is an energetic American living in Kabul. Her pride and joy is the coffee shop she runs for expats whose stories filter through her daily life. When Yazmina, a young woman from a remote village, is kidnapped, then left on a city street pregnant and alone, Sunny gives her a home - but all Yazmina wants is to find a way to rescue her sister from the same fate.

Into the coffee shop, and Yazmina's and Sunny's lives, comes Candace, a wealthy American who uses her connections to make a difference in the women's circumstances, then ends up needing help herself.

Then there's Isabel, a determined journalist with a secret that might keep her from the biggest story of her life. While Halajan, the den mother, has a long hidden love affair that breaks all the rules and threatens to turn her own son against her.

As these women gather and discover there's more to one another than meets the eye, they form a bond that will change not only their own lives, but those of an entire community.

My mother-in-law, who always enjoys a good book, recently thrust The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul into my hands and said, "You're going to love this!"

She always knows what I like reading, so I took it with anticipation, already intrigued by the title and the cover. As soon as I started reading I was completely gripped, I loved all the characters and their stories and finding out about life in the extraordinary coffee shop in the heart of war torn Kabul in Afghanistan.

Sunny, as her name indicates, is a strong woman, full of joy and passion as she sets to work making her coffee shop a haven of comfort amidst the often frightening and dangerous world outside. The book is positive and uplifting as we see Sunny attempting to make her shop safe from the dangers of war with a protective wall, and providing her customers with great coffee, snacks and even a television to watch the football.

I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this warmly written and gripping story. And was delighted to discover that my mother-in-law had the second novel, Return of the Little Coffee Shop of Kabul ready for me to read next! A great Summer read, I would highly recommend it. Pack both books in your suitcase and take them on holiday!

Deborah Rodriguez

   Deborah Rodriguez, photograph by
              Suzanne Becker Bronk


Deborah Rodriguez is a hairdresser, a motivational speaker and the author of the bestselling memoir, Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil. She spent five years teaching at and later directing that Kabul Beauty School, the first modern beauty academy and training salon in Afghanistan.

Deborah Rodriguez also owned the Oasis Salon and co-owned the Kabul Coffee House. She is the founder of the non-profit organisation Oasis Rescue, which aims to teach women in post-conflict and disaster stricken areas the art of hairdressing. She currently lives in Mexico.

Deborah Rodriguez also has her own website at www.debbierodriguez.com

Return to the Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez


The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul and Return to the Little Coffee Shop of Kabul are both published by Little Brown. Price is £7.99 for each paperback.

For more information about the book click on www.littlebrown.co.uk
 

    A Year in the Life 
     of the Yorkshire
       Shepherdess

         By Amanda Owen
            Review by
Simon Fine

A Year in the Life of the Yorkshire Shepherdess by Amanda Owen

Amanda Owen’s first book, The Yorkshire Shepherdess was a Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller. Her second book, A Year in the Life of the Yorkshire Shepherdess, tells her further adventures as she juggles farming life with the demands of raising a large family on her remote Yorkshire farm.

Amanda lives with her husband Clive and eight children at Ravenseat, a 2000 acre sheep hill farm at the head of Swaledale in North Yorkshire where the weather and terrain can make life very difficult. Subtitled “1 Husband, 8 Children, 1000 Sheep”, the book paints a rich picture of a challenging life but one that she loves.

Life at Ravenseat is never dull, and the book is full of wonderful stories, some funny, some sad but all told with a charming, matter-of-fact honesty. The book is a month by month account, describing the centuries-old cycles of the farming year and the constant challenges the family face as they tend their sheep on some of the country's highest, wildest moors.

Writing with warmth and humour, Amanda tells many amusing stories such as how a calf swallowed her wedding ring. She also shares the touching stories of an epic two-day journey taken by a ewe determined to find her lamb and of Queenie, an ageing neglected horse who came to live at the farm. My favourite story is of her son proudly announcing to a packed school assembly that his mum’s profession “is the oldest in the world”.

Amanda’s book beautifully evokes the landscape of the Swaledale, the hill farming life, the characters of the Dales and the joys and challenges of raising a large family on a busy working farm. It is wonderfully illustrated with photographs of Amanda’s family and the beautiful Dales. A Year in the Life of the Yorkshire Shepherdess will delight everyone who has dreamed of living close to nature

Amanda Owen grew up in Huddersfield but was inspired by the James Herriot books, amongst others, to work in farming. After learning her craft as a freelance shepherdess, cow milker and alpaca shearer, she settled down as a farmer's wife with her own flock of sheep at Ravenseat. Voted Yorkshirewoman of the Year by the Dalesman magazine, she is also the author of the top ten bestseller, The Yorkshire Shepherdess.

A Year in the Life of the Yorkshire Shepherdess is published by Sidgwick & Jackson. Price is £16.99 for the hardback.

For more information about the book click on www.panmacmillan.com

 

  The Bridge Ladies
          By Betsy Lerner
          Review Jenny Itzcovitz

The Bridge Ladies by Betsy Lerner

Perceptive, hilarious and fearlessly vulnerable, Betsy Lerner's memoir is required reading for anyone who has ever had a mother. And it teaches us an important lesson: Facebook may connect us across the world, but social media can't deliver a pot roast and won't dry your tears.

For the past fifty years, Monday afternoons in New Haven have always been the same: Betsy Lerner's mother, Roz and her friends Rhoda, Bea, Jackie and Bette - the Bridge Ladies all meet up and play cards. All they need is a card table with folding chairs (and one dummy seat). And once they begin the game, hours of silence follow, punctuated only by the sound of cards being plucked up or snapped down.

As a child, Betsy thought the Bridge Ladies were fascinatingly chic. To the teenage Betsy, they seemed hopelessly square. As an adult, working in New York City, they were a relic of her past. But when her husband accepted a job in New Have, she found herself right back where she started.

Suddenly the Bridge Ladies came hurtling back, their Monday lunches and Bridge Club still ongoing. They had accepted their lot in life and were mostly grateful. They didn't talk about their problems, much less those involving sex, relationships, or their children. On paper they were unremarkable, even dull. But once Betsy started really looking at them, she realised they were anything but.

I really enjoyed this captivating book by Betsy Lerner as she explores the lives of the ladies who play Bridge with her mother, but ends up finding out there is more to them than meets the eye. The women are always there for each other through happy occasions, illness and family crises. Each lady is immaculately dressed, incredibly strong and has their own story to tell. One lady had ambitions to be an actress, another helps run a soup kitchen.

But it is the relationship with Betsy and her mother which is the most interesting, and has seen her through family trauma, her painful and rebellious teenage years, later on her own marriage and children, and now a new stronger bond as she starts to explore Bridge and its significance in her mother's life.

Ever since Betsy's mother has been married, the Bridge Club has been a prevailing social activity, where the women prepare each other lunch or dine out together in a local restaurant, before settling down to their favourite card game. And Betsy is particularly keen to find out what is so special about Bridge and what draws the women together.

The book sees Betsy learning to play Bridge herself and the amusing characters in her classes, she interviews her mother's friends and finds out about their relationships and families, and what makes them tick. She also spends more time with her mother and they eventually go to card classes together - even though her mother can already play.

Warm, honest and very witty, I loved the sections where Betsy describes how her traditional Jewish mother makes her own 'gefilte fish', tries to come over and polish her silverware as it doesn't meet up to her standards, and scrutinises the clothes she wears - especially her coats. Betsy soon starts to enjoy Bridge and it is through the game that she discovers more about her mother and find they can both have fun with it and share the intricacies and rewarding facets of the game together.

This is a great read, even if like me, you have never played Bridge. Betsy brings these wonderful American women to life and a fascinating feel for the game and its traditions.

Betsy Lerner

                 Author, Betsy Lerner

Betsy Lerner is the author of The Forest for the Trees and Food and Loathing. She received an MFA from Columbia University in Poetry, was the recipient of a Thomas Wolfe Poetry Prize and an Academy of American Poets Poetry Prize, and was one of PEN's Emerging Writers.

She also received the Tony Godwin Publishing Prize for Editors under 35. After working as an Editor for fifteen years, she became an agent and is currently a partner with Dunow, Calson & Lerner Literary Agency. She lives in Connecticut.

The Bridge Ladies is published by Macmillan. Amazon. Price is £18.99 for the hardback and £11.99 for the eBook.

For more information about the book visit the website at www.panmacmillan.com  
 

    The Happy Hack

           By Mike Molloy 
          Review by Simon Fine

The Happy Hack by Mike Molloy

When Mike Molloy began his career in Fleet Street, it was the hub of the newspaper industry. Each paper was full of characters, each had its own pub where long, liquid lunches were the norm, smoking and drinking in the office were widespread, budgets were highly flexible and generous expenses could be claimed with little scrutiny. Hiring and firing took place at a whim and traditional production methods were unchallenged.

Mike Molloy thrived in this culture and the early part of his memoir is packed with hilarious anecdotes involving extraordinary characters and their triumphs and disasters. Legendary names such as Jeffrey Bernard, Keith Waterhouse and Marge Proops feature large in some remarkable and hysterical stories. Molloy became familiar with several prime ministers, Wilson, Heath, Callaghan, Thatcher and we learn a great deal about their personalities and the world of politics and its relationship with the press.

During the 1970s and 80s, a revolution occurred in the British newspaper industry. Several titles deserted Fleet Street, traditional practices were replaced by computerisation, the power of the unions diminished and new proprietors bought famous titles and the culture shifted dramatically. Mirror Group Newspapers were bought by Robert Maxwell who appointed Molloy as editor-in-chief of the group.

The second part of this highly entertaining book charts the author's astonishingly surreal five years with Robert Maxwell, whose chaotic and criminal reign brought new heights of blundering absurdity to the role of the tyrannical 'press lord'. A particularly telling quote being “it took some months to realise he was simply a street trader who was mortgaged up to the hilt”.

I thoroughly enjoyed Mike’s book. Full of hilarious stories involving well known journalists, politicians, the royal family and stars of show business. Highlights include a bizarre meeting between Maxwell and Mother Teresa. The contrast between Fleet Street in the early years of Molloy’s career and the modern world of the newspaper industry is fascinating. But most remarkable are the fascinating insights into the chaotic world of Robert Maxwell and his ultimate demise.

Mike Molloy began in Fleet Street as a messenger boy on the "Sunday Pictorial," and subsequently worked as a cartoonist, page designer, feature writer, and features executive. Eventually he was appointed the youngest editor of the "Daily Mirror," a post he held for 10 years.

The Happy Hack is published by John Blake Publishing. Price is £8.99 for the paperback.

For more information about the book click on www.johnblakebooks.com
 

     Absolutely Foxed

         By Graeme Fowler
           Review Jenny Itzcovitz

Absolutely Foxed by Graeme Fowler

Graeme Fowler was a successful opening batsman for Lancashire and England, scoring 201 against India and a century at Lords against a formidable West Indies attack. When his playing career ended, he enjoyed a spell working on BBC Test Match Special, before running the Durham Centre of Excellence for 18 years, where he grew a reputation as an innovative and influential coach, with Andrew Strauss as one of his students.

Fowler is one of the most original thinkers about the game and a man with strong opinions. In his highly entertaining autobiography, Absolutely Foxed, He looks back over his 40 years in professional cricket, his 16 years on the county circuit with Lancashire and Durham, and three years opening the batting for England, an international career cut short by a potentially life-threatening injury, and 18 years at The Durham Centre of Excellence.

Fowler also has struggled with depression for several years and he openly describes how the illness affects him and his family. Alastair Campbell provides an Afterword in which he commends Fowler's support for others suffering from mental-health problems. Fowler's own experiences should provide help and inspiration for those dealing with similar problems. Fowler can count on Sir Ian Botham as one of his closest friends and Fowler writes movingly about how Botham has supported him through some of his darkest days.

There is so much to like about this book. Simply as a cricket book, his stories about life as a county and international cricketer are fascinating. His tales about the man management skills of the England hierarchy and the Lancashire committee in the 1980s are eye-opening. As pure entertainment, his exploits on tour with England are absolutely hilarious, with Botham often involved in the fun.

The highlight for me are his recollections of working with the Test Match Special team. Some of the schoolboy pranks reduced me to tears. And most significantly, his moving account of his battle with mental-health issues is a significant contribution to helping others understand how depression affects the sufferer and those around them.

Graeme Fowler

               Author, Graeme Fowler

Graeme Fowler was born in Accrington in 1957 and went on to play cricket for Lancashire and Durham between 1978 and 1994. He won 21 England caps between 1982 and 1985, scoring a century at Lords against the West Indies.

After retiring from the game, in 1996 he set up the Durham Cricket School of Excellence and was head coach of the Durham MCCU side until 2015. He has commentated for Test Match Special and Sky and written for the Sunday Telegraph.

Absolutely Foxed is published by Simon & Schuster. Price is £18.99 for the hardback.

For more information about the book click on www.simonandschuster.co.uk