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Nordic Walk & get ski fit

Sam Bertram

7 September 2017

The start of the school year signals change for not only the young but for everyone. September is the new ‘New Year’ when we re-access priorities and think about our work, life balance and wellbeing. We spoke to Ashley Sandy of Nordic Walking with Ashley to find out why Nordic Walking is becoming such a popular form of exercise. So, what’s so great about Nordic Walking? ‘The best part of Nordic Walking is that we exercise outside. We live in such a beautiful part of the county and there are such a variety of places to walk. One of my walkers, who recently moved to the area, said she hadn’t realised how beautiful this area is. Nordic walking helped her discover places she would never have found on her own. Even people who’ve lived here for ages are surprised by the new places we visit. People love the fact that it’s extremely social and that brings them back time after time. There aren’t that many exercises where you can socialise at the same time. I teach people how to Nordic Walk and, more often than not, people come back and walk with the groups rather than go off on their own. It’s so much fun and many of my walkers have made friendships for life with lots of great connections being made.  It’s great for both toning and cardio. We do different kinds of walks – some short and fast paced and others longer while keeping up a good pace to get the best workout.  Using poles utilises upper body muscles you wouldn’t normally use and help you keep a good posture. If you have injuries you can really benefit from walking with poles. Another lady in my group broke her back and Nordic Walking has really improved her fitness and movement in her lower back. If you have hip or knee issues poles help take the weight off them.  And finally, it’s great for all ages.  I’m looking at doing some more intense hour sessions to suit those who don’t have the time for something longer.’ Which are your favourite walks? ‘I absolutely love Avebury – I’ve got several walks in that area including ones to the Valley of the Stones and Fyfield Downs. Pewsey Vale is also fabulous – I love walking from Knapp Hill to Martinsell – the views are spectacular. Although views are incredibly rewarding I also love the walks in the forests of Savernake and West Woods. There are so many wonderful trees. Walking on the canal from Wilton to Great Bedwyn and up to The Brails is lovely and we always find a good spot for coffee!’ Tell us about the ski fit training you’re planning ‘So many of us never get ski fit, but you can really minimise the thigh burn if you do some preparation before your ski holiday. ‘Nordic Walking UK have a specific ski fit training programme so I’m planning some sessions. They will be an hour of outdoor circuit training - possibly a six-week programme in the run up to Christmas and one after Christmas. The training focuses on strength, balance and posture. We will use poles, bands and there will be some basic Nordic walking training. I’d love to hear from people on what times suit best.  I’m thinking of straight after school drop off – around 9.30 but open to suggestions - please get in touch if you’re interested.’ http://www.ashleysandy.com  

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Quintessentially English accessories

Sam Bertram

4 August 2017

Picture it – the breakfast table laid with stunning plates & cups with the smell of fresh coffee & bacon wafting through the air. A scene where Dragonfly & Blossom’s beautiful illustrated fine bone china and fabric home accessories would feel right at home. We talked to founder Sarah Holton from her home in Malmesbury to find out more about her gorgeous range of products for the home. Tell us briefly about the inspiration behind your range of home accessories ‘With a background in arts, graphic design and brand management I always wanted to make a quality product that’s not only made locally but the best it can be.  Originally from Gloucestershire, the countryside has always been a major part of my life. My illustrations are inspired by nature – whether it’s the insect range featuring bees, dragonflies, ladybirds or butterflies or the countryside collection including hares, stags, chickens & pheasants.  I wanted to create a distinct understated quality brand, with broad appeal, so all my illustrations are black on white.  I’ve always enjoyed pencil drawing which is perfect for my products. I started with fine bone china (mugs, teacups, bowls, plates, jugs & jam pots) but have since added candles, fabric accessories (lampshades, cushions & noticeboards) and more recently notebooks & box files.’ You mention some new products – tell us about those  ‘The most recent addition to my range is a bigger farmyard mug where I’m donating 10% of all product sales to Jamie’s Farm, a charity enabling disadvantaged young people to thrive academically, socially and emotionally. The mug is not only bigger than previous mugs, but is the first design to deviate from the black illustration on white. It’s on a grey background, features pigs, cows and geese, is fun and perfect for morning coffee! I’ve introduced the grey background to other products too. It’s on the new notebooks and box files which are hand finished, and on the aprons, tea towels, book bags and gift wrap. All our new products have been launched in the most popular design – the bee & hare. With the aprons and tea towels it’s not always practical to have a clean white design so the grey background offers a more user-friendly solution. We’ve also introduced a range of greeting cards & doorstops. There are new additions to our fine bone china range too with tea bag tidies and spoon rests. We launched them at the Cotswold Show recently and they went down a storm.’ What’s next for Dragonfly & Blossom ‘The exciting part is the brand is starting to get recognised and known. At the Cotswold Show so many people came in to give us some wonderful feedback on our products. I love shows as that’s when you get to meet your customers and see people’s reactions. We’re always looking to introduce new products & ideas. Our next stop is Christmas when we’re going to launch some gift collections. If you’ve got any ideas of what you’d like to see please let us know.’  http://www.dragonflyandblossom.co.uk

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Our members favourite walks

Sam Bertram

12 May 2017

May is a great time to get out into the open countryside when temperatures are warmer but it’s not too hot. Our members all give their top tips on things to do in Wiltshire. Here are some of their favourite walks.   South Wiltshire   1. Well Natural - a fabulous independent health shop in Salisbury say a scenic walk at Old Sarum at sunset is the best.   ‘Salisbury residents will be familiar with the beautiful history of how the city came to be at its current location. The gothic Salisbury Cathedral was built in that location following the decision from the previous settlers of Old Sarum, a historic hill fort which was once a thriving village and visited by many famous Royals including William the Conqueror, to move the Cathedral and build a city around it. The Old Sarum hill fort was still lived in until more recently, but is now a place of historic significance and managed by English Heritage. In the evenings, when the weather is nice, you can walk up to the ruins of the old Cathedral and watch the sun set in the distance. You get a fantastic countryside view and can also see the ‘new’ Cathedral standing prominently in the view overlooking the city. Highly recommended, just make sure to wear suitable footwear as the terrain can be rough.’ Location   2. Great Wishford’s Simply Bluebell’s favourite is the Roman Road in Grovely Woods.    ‘What could be better than running, walking or cycling along the Roman road in Grovely. Far from the madding crowd with a tree lined walk that changes dramatically with every season, but is particularly spectacular in autumn. Fragrant with bluebells in spring, cool and refreshing in summer and mystical in the snow.’ Location   3. Clementine’s shop near Tisbury loves a walk around the lake.     ‘I have grown up near the Fonthill Lake and have always enjoyed talking a stroll around the lake. You can walk some of the way around the lake, with lovely views.’ While you’re there it’s really worth popping in to see Clementine’s shop and their new café. Location   The epicentre of our county   1. Brittany and Guy Murphy from Michelin starred The Red Lion East Chisenbury love to recharge the soul on the wide open spaces of Salisbury Plain as do Wiltshire Life pub of the year The Swan in Enford.    Pete and Emma Jeffries of the Swan say ‘The single reason we decided to stay put. Salisbury Plain is on our doorstep and we absolutely love it! We walk our dogs, Digger and Pickle, on the plains every day and love the peace and quiet it offers. You can walk for miles with no fences or gates and enjoy great open expanses of our countryside. From the pub car park, you can be on the plains in minutes and, if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see parachutists from Netheravon airfield making their descent, the Hercules carriers practising at Upavon as well as deer. We can let you know of the best walks from the Pub. It’s gorgeous in the sunshine but there’s even a beauty in the rain!’ Location   Closer to Swindon?   1. The Pear Tree in Purton love strolling around the extensive grounds of Lydiard Park in Swindon.    ‘It’s an under-used Wiltshire resource which deserves a better profile. It combines pleasure, leisure and history. We particularly love the Walled Garden which is carefully tended and the staff are always happy to answer questions and share their knowledge.’ Location   2.      Buckerfields Barn love to walk on ‘The Ridgeway, the earliest known thoroughfare in Europe, imagine those who have followed the route over the last 10,000 years, watch the soaring birds of prey, embrace the big sky views and listen to the silence.’ Location   3.     Overtown manor regularly walk around Barbury Castle to see Wiltshire’s beautiful countryside. Location   4.     Little Dan Designs love a stroll around Jubilee lake in Royal Wootton Bassett. Location   The Marlborough and Pewsey Downs   1. Beverley Hams from A Piece of Cake By Bev loves to walk on the Ridgeway on Fyfield Downs.    ‘It’s just beautiful, the views are amazing, and great walking underfoot. Fantastic if you have a dog because of the wide open spaces’. Even better is the fact that once you’ve done the walk your even most justified in having one of her delicious tray bakes which she delivers! Location   2. Garp and Liis from Sticks and Stones café and lifestyle shop in Woodborough say..    ‘On our days off (rare, but it does happen) Garp and I love walking. Our favourite places are West Woods for the bluebells, Kennet and Avon canal to see the boats or kite flying on Woodborough Hill’. They make a fabulous cup of coffee so stop in after for refreshment or one of their delicious lunches. Location   3.     Indigo Antiques is also a fan of the Pewsey Downs    ‘The meadows around Adams Grave Longbarrow is at the summit of Walkers Hill. A wonderful place to walk in all seasons with a beautiful view across the Pewsey Vale. Walk up from the main road along the spine of the hill to get to the summit. Just above the huge Alton Barnes chalk White Horse, maintained by the local community. The hillside is full of a wonderful array of native wild flowers. I feel privileged to live in such a beautiful part of Britain.’ Location   4. Digger and Mojo also love that area   ‘A fantastic walk at any time of year. Park and cross the road and walk up to the White Horse – check out its spindly legs – the 19c workers refused to dig a wider outline after the architect in charge ran off with their wages…! Children are always fascinated by the sheer scale of something so familiar they’ve seen from the car. The Pewsey Vale and beyond spreads before you; at 295m above sea level, you’re at Wiltshire’s highest point. Over the seasons you may spot rare wild flowers, paraponters and corn circles. Blow away the cobwebs or walk off your Sunday Lunch.' Location   5. Meadow in my garden 'One of our favourite walks is near Oare. It's a beautiful circular walk that starts at the centre of the village and takes you on a half hour loop.' Location   6.     Balmain & Balmain say 'Walking through the Brails is a must, plus at the same time you can take in The Wilton Windmill, and end up in Great Bedwyn for refreshment'. Location   7.     Radish loves likes the Old Railway path Marlborough - 'The old railway will take you all the way to Chiseldon, but you can make it as long or short as you like. We like to walk with our little girl in her buggy and our two boys on their bikes for an enjoyable weekend breath of the beautiful Wiltshire outdoor.' Location   Nordic walking with Ashley runs all her walks around that area which is a great way of seeing the beautiful countryside while exercising. We've tried it and it's fab.   Devizes   1. The George and Dragon in Rowde love a walk around Caen hill Locks. Owner Chippy Day says.. ‘This is a 2 mile walk around 26 canal locks, all cascading down the hill so they are an impressive sight. At the top lock is a cute café which is a welcome stop, fab ice-creams, cakes and tea, just what’s needed to keep going half way around.’ If you’re looking for a delicious pub lunch to round off the walk or a pint then The George & Dragon is just up the road. Location   2.     Pink boutique like Drews pond in Devizes   'A stunning woodland walk whatever the season. This provided a therapeutic walk for patients from the old hospital which closed in 1995.' Location   Forest   1. Tiffinie from The Wiltshire Liqueur Company challenges you to walk through Savernake Forest without getting lost. Her tip is to take lots of water! If it’s a shorter walk or a picnic she’d no doubt recommend one of her liqueurs for a warming tipple. Be in awe of the big old trees in the only privately owned forest in Britain. Michelin starred the Harrow at little Bedwyn also love the forest. Being foodies Roger and Sue love to forage for wild mushrooms and truffles. Ollie and Lauren Hunter from The Wheatsheaf in Chilton Foliat also love to forage. Ashley and James Wilsey and family from The Three Tuns, Great Bedwyn favourite path in Savernake is down by St Katharine’s, where there is a gem of a church set in amongst the trees and fields. ‘Sometimes you can hear the church bells ringing as you wander along the forest paths.’ Location   Chippenham   1. Fairfax Antiques ‘Visit our local Maud Heath’s Memorial column on Wick Hill; Maud Heath was a widow from East Tytherton village who died in 1474 and left land to provide an income to maintain a causeway from Wick Hill to Chippenham for the benefit of the country folk taking their goods to market. We all love to walk to the ancient Maud Heath's Causeway, a pathway in rural Wiltshire rising above the Avon floodplain on sixty-four brick arches, carrying an undistinguished country road between Bremhill and Langley Burrell.' Location   Closer to Bath Hannah from Gyidance (dance movement psychotherapy) loves a mid-morning walk through box woods to The Greenhouse, Wadswick 'A great way to get energised for the day with a trek up the hill and into nature. Met by wood-land Pigs and landscapes of beauty, Box Woods takes you into a maze ….. and leads you to an array of treasures, including The Greenhouse Restaurant. At the heart of the unique complex for older populations, The Greenhouse serves exquisite dishes in a light, yet warm and cosy environment as well as offering spa, health and beauty treatments. A must!' Location   See our top tips map for more recommendations from our local independents on things to do.    

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Gift 28 - handmade gifts for home

Sam Bertram

20 November 2015

We're giving a gift idea a day through October and November. See what Wiltshire has to offer for Christmas shopping and shop local this year. Gift 28 is from Sticks and Stones - a stylish, lifestyle shop wrapped around a cosy and relaxed café in Woodborough. Owners Garp and Liis Flack have handpicked original and interesting gifts that work just as well in a contemporary London flat or a farmhouse kitchen. There are always new items to discover plus a selection of crockery, cutlery, glassware, linen and Garp’s unique, range of hand-made wooden products for the kitchen, dining room and home. Garp's hand-made cheeseboards and burr bowls are absolutely stunning. Testament to their quality is the fact he was commissioned to do a Sunday Roast carving board for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's wedding - that's hard to beat!  And while you're there they serve delicious food and fabulous coffee so why not stay a while longer? See more..  

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