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Food: Far-Flung Flavours

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 08:33 AM PST

Melissa Blease takes a little trip around the world as she samples the street food and the international cuisine available right here in Bath

Our collective tastebuds have been awoken to the delights of far-flung flavours and inspirations gleaned from across the globe. Party menus based around far-flung flavours are trending in Bath this year. Leading by example, cosy Argyle Street bistro Chez Dominique is flaunting fully-French flavours on its festive menu, with turkey only available for those that specifically request it, and for a small supplement.

The turkey option at the lovely, lively and stylish Circus Restaurant in Brock Street, meanwhile, comes in Italian-inspired saltimbocca rather than roast format, while dishes such as cauliflower, cumin and white lentil fritters served with bahara-roasted romanesco, and a dessert of pineapple served with lychées, pawpaw and mango and jalapeño meringue, prove just how popular our taste for the exotic has become. But such a trend is most definitely for life, and we're not all sitting down at a restaurant table to indulge.

In 2017, authentic, cross-continent street food (as in fast, freshly prepared, non-assembly line, wallet-friendly, grab'n'go grub) hit the Bath streets in a big way.

Now highly regarded for being one of the earliest ventures to both awaken our senses and change our habits, the Thai Hut opened as a pop-up venture in Green Park Station in 2015 and, having established a firm fan base and a massive reputation for greatness, has since taken over a permanent chalet specialising in authentic, affordable, freshly-cooked Thai food from pad Thais and penangs to massamans, loads of veggie/vegan variations, sticky rice and nibbles such as Thai chicken skewers for just £1. You can scoff on the hoof, at a picnic table, or take your grub away for later, and even the heartiest dishes don't cost more than £7. Mouthwatering street food from Seadog

Also on GPS territory, JC's Kitchen – a more recent addition to the Bath street food scene, cooking up fabulous Filipino flavours – offers the kind of food that, let's be honest, you're never going to attempt to make at home (or if you do, you're unlikely to make it as good as this.) Menus are largely based around free range chicken (lechon manok rotisserie roasted, to be precise), but belly pork features too, alongside meat-free specials. Create your own combinations dished up from huge simmering cauldrons and pots, served on sourdough flatbreads with spuds, spicy bean rice, salads, coleslaw, sauces, etc. Service is fast, friendly and theatrical, too – presented with flourish.

“The beef chilli is the stuff of legend among hungry office workers, but absolute beginners should opt for the signature club sandwich laden with salad”

Meanwhile, over in SouthGate . . . If you've cruised along the main SouthGate drag at lunchtime, you'll have seen the eager queues for food at the LJ Hugs pagoda. Music, action and food served on the street here is loud, proud and Cajun, through and through (although the company itself, established in 2013, is based in Somerset.) The beef chilli is the stuff of legend amongst hungry office workers, but absolute beginners should opt for the signature club sandwich, laden with salad and your choice of sauce from a selection that includes piri piri and maple.

But we can't talk about Bath's street food revolution without paying a visit to a tiny little booth on the edge of Kingsmead Square. Niraj Gadher opened Chai Walla – which specialises in meat-free Indian fast food – as a pop-up experiment almost a year ago. The venture proved to be so successful that Niraj has recently opened a second pop-up on Bristol's Stokes Croft. So why is Chai Walla so successful? Just one nibble of Niraj's richly caramelised samosas, or one slurp of his velvety, comforting daal will answer that question in seconds, while going for broke – however, even a main course here won't set you back more than around £6 – and ordering, say, samosa chaat (chickpea curry crumbled with samosa, topped with crunchy noodles and dotted with tamarind sauce), or a falafel wrap stuffed with all manner of saucy/salady options gives even the most committed packed lunch addicts more than enough reason to step away from the Tupperware.

But while restaurants that serve so-called "street food" as part of their formal menu shouldn't have any place in this feature, there is one venture that has managed that crossover point very successfully. Hoba Kebabs, found in Kingsmead Square during December

At the age of seven, Noya Pawlyn and her family fled southern Vietnam as a refugee during the 1970s conflict. Now living in Bear Flat with a family of her own, Noya's instinctive feel for recreating the dishes of her homeland led to her inspirational idea to host pop-up supper clubs at a tiny café around the corner from her home. Since hosting her first pop-up in 2013, the events proved to be immensely successful; places were often fully-booked months in advance.

But as of this month, we don't have to wait quite so long to sample Noya's vibrant Vietnamese cuisine, as she's opened her own restaurant on St James's Parade. Noya has created an environment that's as warm, welcoming and sociable as her previous informal supper club – and anybody who has eaten their way around, say, Saigon, or Hanoi, or Da Nang, will know that not all real Vietnamese street food has to be eaten on the actual street; cafés, teahouses, noodle bars and restaurants offer eat-in and takeaway services. Noya plans her own takeaway service next year.

Until then, an advance booking only supper club service offering a tasting menu based the food that Noya loves to cook will be offered from Thursday to Saturday evenings, and lunch served from Monday through to Saturday.

While Bath may not be known for a city that starts revolutions, these tasteful folk serving up their fresh, international cuisine to growing numbers of appreciative customers, are most definitely taking to the streets.

Featured image: Vietnamese dishes served at Noya’s Kitchen

The post Food: Far-Flung Flavours appeared first on The Bath Magazine.

History: War Hero took the waters

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 08:11 AM PST

Military historian Christopher Joll looks at Lord Nelson's time spent in Bath and the legacy of this great Briton

On 21 October 1805, William Holburne, one of Bath's greatest benefactors, was an 11-year old Midshipman on board HMS Orion, which was about to join battle with the French Fleet off Cape Trafalgar.

As Holburne's ship closed with the enemy battleship, Intrepide, his Admiral's wife, Frances, Viscountess Nelson and Duchess of Bronté, was on holiday in Bath, doing her best to avoid the pitying stares of Bath's fashionable society, all of whom knew that, since 1798, her husband had been keeping his feet (and his other remaining body parts) warm on the voluptuous form of Emma, Lady Hamilton, wife of the British Minister at the Bourbon Court of King Ferdinand of Naples and Sicily.Lady Emma Hamilton, by George Romney

Since 1781, the Nelsons had been frequent visitors to Bath starting when, accompanied by his father, the Reverend Edmund Nelson, the partially paralysed Horatio had boarded at the house of the apothecary, Joseph Spry, at 2 Pierrepont Street. It was from this address, now marked with a bronze plaque, that Nelson junior took the cure to help with his recovery from the malaria he had contracted on active service in Nicaragua the previous year. The upwardly-mobile sailor accompanied by his new bride, Frances, stayed with Spry again in 1788, while on a holiday to meet Fanny's relations in Bristol, and returned once more in 1797, by which time the apothecary had moved to Argyle Buildings. On this occasion, Nelson was hoping that the waters would ease the pain of the stump of his right arm, which he had lost at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

The last time that the Nelsons visited Bath as a couple was in early 1798, this time to attend to the Reverend Edmund who had taken to wintering at 9 Pierrepont Street. The, by now, one-armed and one-eyed sailor, who started his affair with Lady Hamilton shortly after his victory at the Battle of the Nile later that year, never set foot in the city again. But, on and off until 1815, his wife Frances continued to spend time in Bath, caring for Nelson's elderly father after the breakdown of her marriage until the man's death in 1802, and it was in the city that she learned of the news of her husband's victory at Trafalgar and her new status as a naval widow.Crowds gathering in Pierrepont Street, Bath for the unveiling of a plaque in 1900 to mark the house where Nelson recuperated. The tablets can still be seen today. Picture courtesy of @BathinTime

The story of Nelson's death at Trafalgar is something that every schoolboy and girl used to be taught. As he laying dying below decks on the Victory, surrounded by his loyal crew, he famously said: "Kiss me Hardy" and among his last utterances was: "Thank God I have done my duty." News of his death spread like wildfire through England, reaching Penzance first, where the mayor of the Cornish town broke the news to townspeople from the balcony of the Union Hotel. Couriers carrying messages from the victory against the French, and the names of those killed, hurried from Falmouth to the Admiralty in London – now known as the 300-mile Trafalgar Way and marked in 2005 with a series of commemorative plaques along the route.

“Her husband had been keeping his feet (and his other remaining body parts) warm on the voluptous form of Emma, Lady Hamilton”

Although there is no evidence that Sir William Holburne ever met the Nelsons, there is a connection between the future philanthropist and England's most famous sailor: a small wooden snuff box currently residing in a display case at the Holburne Museum.

Bath is a city remarkably uncluttered with the memorabilia of war. Its souvenirs of the Crimean War, a pair of large Russian cannons, were taken away in 1941 for conversion into munitions to drop on the Germans, whose retaliation in 1942 echoed down the years when a 500lb Luftwaffe bomb was found in 2016 in the grounds of Mary Berry's alma mater at Hope House, Lansdown. But, like the Russian guns removed from the Royal Victoria Park in 1941, the bomb was taken away and destroyed, leaving Bath once again unencumbered with the material of war – providing one overlooks the Holburne's wooden snuff box.The HMS Victory snuffbox in the Holburne Museum, dated from around 1820. It’s inscribed: made from the companion ladder down which Nelson was carried on the glorious 21st October 1805.

According to the inscription on a gilt metal plaque on the lid, the box was made from an oak companion ladder on HMS Victory down which the mortally wounded Vice Admiral was carried at the height of the Battle of Trafalgar. While there is no reason to doubt the authenticity of the snuff box's provenance, there are almost as many relics of Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar as there are hooves of Napoleon's charger at Waterloo and surviving fragments of the True Cross.

Indeed, it is a wonder that the famous 104-gun, First Rate Ship-of-the-Line, which has been in a dry dock in Portsmouth harbour since 1922, has any original fittings left after the depredations of the French, termites, barnacles and souvenir hunters. Even Victory's White Ensign, which was flown during the battle in 1805 and which covered Nelson's coffin at his state funeral, did not survive the trophy hunters: it was torn to shreds by the Royal Navy bearer party, who – it is alleged – had previously consumed the spiced brandy from the barrel in which the Admiral's body had been pickled after his death.

How or why the snuff box was acquired by Sir William Holburne is not known, beyond the assumption that he wanted it as a souvenir not only of the battle in which he had fought, but also as a memento mori of his late Commander-in-Chief. However, while Holburne's legacy is omni-present in Bath, but largely unknown outside, the reverse is true of Nelson whose presence in the city is limited to the Holburne Museum's snuff box, the brass plaque at 2 Pierrepont Street, and several buildings of varying age and quality, the very best of which are the magnificent early-19th century Nelson Place West, Nile Street and Norfolk Crescent named, respectively and in commemoration, after the late Admiral, his first great victory over the French and his home county.

On a footnote, sadly for Bath's romantics and lovers of urban myths, the so-called Trafalgar iron balconies to be found on many buildings in the city are named after the architectural features on the houses which originally surrounded Trafalgar Square, not after the battle itself. HMS Victory in Portsmouth is now a tourist attraction

Christopher Joll is a Bath resident and a former officer in The Life Guards turned author of military historical fact and fiction who also writes, directs and produces military theatrical events for armed services charities. Recently appointed Regimental Historian of the Household Cavalry, he wrote Uniquely British: A Year in the Life of the Household Cavalry, published in 2012. He is also the author of the popular military-history action-adventure series, The Speedicut Papers. This article is adapted from a story about Nelsonian memorabilia to be published in 2018 in The Spoils of War: Treasures, Trophies and Trivia of the British Empire.

The author is grateful to the Nelson Society and The Holburne Museum, Bath, for assistance with this article.

Featured image: Lord Horatio Nelson, by LF Abbott from the National Maritime Museum

The post History: War Hero took the waters appeared first on The Bath Magazine.

The walk: England’s prettiest village

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 08:05 AM PST

Andrew Swift takes a walk around the woods and valleys surrounding historic Castle Combe village

This is a lovely walk for autumn, starting in Castle Combe, before heading off in search of wooded valleys, old coach roads, packhorse trails and half-forgotten weaving villages.

Among Castle Combe's charms is an almost total lack of parking. There is, however, a large free car park, signposted off the B4039 to the north of the village (ST845777).

Having parked the car, head down a flight of steps to the road and turn right. Bear right at a T junction and, 100m further on, turn right up a drive with a footpath sign to Nettleton Shrub. Walk past the old school and carry on through gateposts. When the drive bears right, follow a footpath sign along a narrow track straight on.

After 200m, when you emerge at the edge of a golf course, carry on beside a wall to follow a track downhill between trees. At the bottom, go through a gate on the left (ST840773). Head down steps, go under a bridge and follow a lane as it curves downhill and through an archway into Castle Combe's market square.

Castle Combe was founded by the Normans, along with the castle – half a mile to the north – from which it took its name. By the 15th century, it had grown rich from clothmaking, outstripping even nearby Chippenham. By the end of the 17th century, however, its glory days were over, due to a dwindling of the flow of the Bybrook, which powered the mills on which its prosperity relied. The reason for this is unclear, but it may have been connected with a steady increase in the number of mills along the brook, built by those eager to make their fortunes.The market cross in the 19th Century

Whatever the reason, Castle Combe sank into a torpor, unchanged and unchanging, from which it was only awoken by the rise of mass tourism and the cult of picturesque antiquity. When it was declared England's prettiest village in 1962, the glory days had well and truly returned.

Continue past the market cross, which incorporates an earlier preaching cross. On the left is the half-timbered Court House where the local court leet sat in the middle ages. The cottages on the right date from the 16th century and contain many original features – look out for a timber mullion window and a studded oak door.

Follow the road as it crosses the Bybrook and carries on alongside it. After passing a small bridge, the lane curves away from the brook and starts to climb. After another 100m, follow a footpath sign up a steep path on the right to head up through woods (ST840767).

After 500m, when you come to a stile, cross it and turn left along a road for a few metres before crossing another stile on the right (ST839762) and bearing right down a track. After 350m, you come to a clearing, with a seven-bar gate over to the left (ST836764). Go through it and head up a broad and muddy track. After 250 metres, when the way ahead is blocked by a gate marked private, bear right.

After 400m, go through a gate, past Truckle Hill Barn (ST833759), and through another gate which opens onto a panorama over a wooded valley. The stream that flows through it is an unnamed tributary of the By Brook.

Bear right, keeping to the upper track, and after 300m a cattle grid leads onto a lane. After 1500m, when you come to a T junction, turn left towards North Wraxall. Turn left at a T junction by the church and follow the lane as it curves down through the village, before crossing that unnamed tributary and climbing the other side of the valley.

After the lane levels out and bears right, turn left by a bungalow called Nutstock along the Old Coach Road, once the main road from London to Bristol (ST822747). As you carry on, it becomes muddier – an approximation of what it would have been like before its abandonment in the 18th century. After 1,400m it starts to head down a steep hill – the reason for a new road being built with a gentler gradient to the south. The lane leads down past the Old Malthouse to the village of Ford. At the main road, if you fancy calling in to the White Hart Inn, cross over and head down a flight of steps.

To carry on with the walk, don't cross over but turn left along the pavement. Carry on past Park Lane, but take the next left by Bybrook Barn. After 325 metres, go through a stile on the right (ST845750) and follow a well-trodden track across a field. When you reach a stile, cross it and carry on alongside a barbed-wire fence.

After going through a six-bar gate, continue down a packhorse trail between moss-covered walls. The building at the bottom is Lower Long Dean Mill, built as a paper mill in 1635. In 1867, three people were killed when a boiler burst. It later became a corn mill.

Cross the Bybrook and carry on through Long Dean. When the lane forks by a cottage with a post box, bear left (ST850757). A little way up the lane is Upper Long Dean Mill, originally believed to have been a cloth mill before being converted to a corn mill.

Carry on up the lane, and, when it forks, bear right uphill. A little further on, cross a stile by a seven-bar gate, then a step stile by a six-bar gate, and continue along an old packhorse trail across Rack Hill, its name derived from the racks on which cloth from nearby mills was stretched to dry.A clearing in the woods reveals a superb view over the valley, with the 17th century house at Lower Colham below. As the path descends, look out for Colham Mill through the trees on the other side of the brook.

Carry on, ignoring a path branching off up to the right, go through a kissing gate, cross the Bybrook on the three-arched bridge you passed earlier and turn right along the road towards Castle Combe and the car park.

Fact file

Length of walk: 8 miles

Approximate time: 3 – 4 hours

Map: OS Explorer 156

Refreshment stops: White Hart Inn, Ford, pubs and tea rooms at Castle Combe

Andrew Swift is the author of On Foot in Bath: Fifteen Walks Around a World Heritage City and co-author, with Kirsten Elliot, of Ghost Signs of Bath.

The post The walk: England’s prettiest village appeared first on The Bath Magazine.

Guest Columnist: Linda Blair

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 07:18 AM PST

Greatest rivals: best of friends.

Linda Blair, clinical psychologist and Telegraph columnist, on her new book which examines sibling relationships

What's the longest relationship you'll ever have? When asked this question, most people will tell you it's with their parents, or perhaps with their children. But in truth, that's almost never the case. The longest relationships we're likely to have are with our siblings.

And not only are they our longest relationships. Because sibling relationships are usually established when we're quite young, what we learn as we negotiate life with them lays down the foundations for our interactions with everyone else – classmates, friends, colleagues, partners – throughout the rest of our lives.

That's why I think it's high time we start thinking about sibling relationships as something much more than simply how to introduce a new baby to an older sibling or how to manage sibling rivalry in young children. Sibling relationships underpin our social skills, the way we subsequently relate to everyone else. Furthermore, our siblings know us better than almost anyone ever will – and nowadays, when many of us are living longer and life is changing faster than ever before, that longest connection gives us a sense of continuity, a way of understanding ourselves and remembering who we really are.

Finally, there are now many reasons why we're likely to interact with our siblings not just as children, but throughout our lives – for example, when twenty somethings who have younger brothers or sisters come back to the family home as 'returners', or when as middle-aged or older adults we must come together to look after our parents for a time.In my new book, Siblings, I discuss a number of situations that individuals in my clinics increasingly wish to talk through – not just how to deal with returners and their younger siblings or how to bring siblings together to care for elderly parents, but a number of other situations as well. For example, is harmony possible when siblings and step-siblings live together, and if so, how can it be achieved? Do twins really enjoy a 'special relationship', and how do their other siblings relate to them? How does everyone in the family cope when one child has a chronic disease? And how can bonds remain strong and positive between siblings when one receives huge attention because they have an outstanding talent?

In addition to the many 'special' sibling situations, there's also a section on what influences the nature of sibling relationships – age differences and gender distribution, how many children are in the family, parenting style, whether parents separate, whether the family moves home, and so on. I also describe the factors that make for a strong and positive relationship between any two people, and how siblings can learn to get on even when they're incredibly different.

“Sibling relationships underpin our social skills, the way we subsequently relate to everyone else”

Here, then, as a taster, are some of the ways parents can ensure that their children have the best chance of getting on well – not just as young children, but for the rest of their lives.

1: Be a good role model

In comparison with what you say, what you do will influence your children's behaviour far more in the long term. Show them how best to get along by trying always to treat others courteously and with respect. When they want to talk give them your full attention, and when you don't agree, rather than becoming emotional and insisting on your own viewpoint, simply listen quietly. When you do give an opinion, present it simply and calmly. There's no need to elaborate.

2: Make 'time to talk' a regular part of family life

Children who grow up sharing what's going on in their lives are likely to continue doing so as adults. Establish regular occasions when it's natural to talk – for example, share a family meal at least twice a week.

3: Spend more time showing them what 'to do' than reprimanding them for what 'not to do'

Children aren't born knowing how to behave appropriately. This is something they need to learn. When siblings quarrel, rather than simply scolding one or both, suggest and/or show them a better way of resolving their differences.

4: Calm down first, talk later

If we try to find a solution to our differences while we're still angry or upset, logic is overshadowed by emotion and the solution rarely works or feels fair in the long run. When your children are in the midst of a quarrel, simply separate them and ask them to calm down, without blaming anyone. When all is calm, ask each to describe the problem from their point of view while the other listens, and then help them find a compromise.

5: Establish family traditions

Celebrate Christmas and birthdays in the same ways every year, and try to have an annual holiday in the same place or same area. When they're grown up, siblings will look back on these traditions (however much they trivialise them at the time) and enjoy reminiscing about what happened when. Many will also take their own families on holiday together to their childhood spots, which allows the siblings to stay in touch and the cousins to grow up knowing one another, thus increasing everyone's network of support.

The post Guest Columnist: Linda Blair appeared first on The Bath Magazine.

5 places to get crafty

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 06:55 AM PST

From lampshade making to Tek Tek weaving, there is such a variety of arts and crafts workshops to get stuck into around Bath. Crystal Rose rounds up a few of the best

1. Crochet Camp

Perfect for beginners, as you learn to weave with Tek Tek, a thick cloth-like material made from the waste products of fast fashion factories in Europe, that crochets quickly and easily. Learn the magic circle, double crochet and how to increase your stitches and change colour. You'll go home with your own crocheted plant pot. Saturday 13 January, 2 – 5pm; £42.

Visit: themakery.co.uk

2. Shady Business

Attend the heirloom lampshade workshop at V V Rouleaux and create your own unique lampshade. Use a selection of V V Rouleaux's collection of beautiful ribbons, beads, flowers and tassels (you're welcome to bring your own heirlooms, if you wish) to create a true one-off. Friday 19 January, 10am – 12.30pm; £65.

Visit: vvrouleaux.com

3. Personalised Pottery

Pick your bisque (unpainted pottery) from the extensive range, choose from more than 50 underglaze paints and create original personalised pottery. Clay imprints and Decopatch supplies are also available. Drop in sessions are on weekdays or book your own group event and get creative. Adult studio fees: £5, child: £4.

Visit: crockadoodledo.co.uk

4. Ready, Set, Posy

Get prepared for Mother's Day and take part in this Floristry for Mother's Day evening course at Bath College. Learn to make a posy in a myriad of colours from spring flowers such as peonies, tulips and dahlias. All flowers, tools and equipment will be provided in the price. All you need to bring is a large bag to carry your handiwork home. Tuesday 27 February, 6 – 8.30pm; £44.

Visit: bathcollege.ac.uk 5. Modern Weaving

Learn how to make your very own wall hanging with Suzanne Gattrell Hodshon from Nest & Burrow. In this workshop you'll work with a mixture of wools, yarns, texture and colour. All materials are included and you'll have the option to buy your loom at the end of the workshop. Suzanne (who teaches from her open-plan kitchen in Wiltshire) will have a latte waiting for you upon arrival and you'll learn modern weaving techniques such as Rya knots and Soumak. Get 10% off your workshop with the code 'BATHMAG'. Thursday 22 February, £55; 10.30am – 2.30pm.

Visit: nestandburrow.co.uk 

The post 5 places to get crafty appeared first on The Bath Magazine.

Gardening: Throw some shapes for winter

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 02:46 AM PST

Jane Moore picks her favourite structural shrubs for interest in mid-winter

It is a mistake often made in gardening circles to think that a good looking winter garden should be stuffed full of evergreens. Not so, dear reader, making your garden look good through the long dark days of winter does not mean you need to furiously plant those ever unchanging dark green blobs of evergreens.

While it's true that a garden full of evergreens is highly architectural it is also a bit boring. That's not to say that evergreens don't have their place but it's important not to go too overboard.

So let's not beat about the proverbial bush, evergreen or otherwise. What we're looking for in the winter garden shrub is fragrance, shape and colour plus a liberal helping of fortitude, strength and sturdiness. We'll be lucky to find all of that in a humble shrub but we will find some of it, fear not. Of course it's entirely up to you to decide what are the most important attributes for your garden; all I can do is extol their virtues in much the same way as a green-fingered Cilla Black suggesting your prospective blind dates or, for younger readers, a gardening version of Tinder.


There is nothing that beats a lovely whiff as you waltz about the winter garden. Scent transports you to another place as you close your eyes and breathe it in, helping to sweeten the freezing, dark and short days. My favourite all-time plant is the winter sweet or chimonanthus praecox with its sturdy wax-like flowers of sunny spring-yellow. The fragrance is simply delicious, surprisingly strong and it flowers in January, just when you need it most. It's a big grower eventually and you will wait a few years for it to flower so it's not for the faint-hearted or impatient gardener but oh it's so worth the wait.

Those that need a speedier fix of scent should pick a daphne and my favourite is daphne bholua Jacqueline Postill as not only is it one of the best of all fragrant flowering shrubs, but it also has a nice rather upright habit to about 2m (6ft), which is ideal for small gardens. Add to that rosy red buds opening to large white flowers and you have an impressive winter display among the evergreen foliage. Oh and then there's the fragrance, which can be almost intoxicating. lonicera fragrantissima

Last but by no means least is the humble honeysuckle. The winter honeysuckles are not great lookers, in fact they're a bit plain and shrubby but they are reliably fragrant and flower unfailingly, attracting bumble bees and gardeners to their scent every January. My favourite is the lonicera fragrantissima which is good for a spot by the back door where it can be kept clipped into shape all summer ready to knock your socks off in winter.


It may surprise you but there are a lot of plants out there to choose from that are guaranteed to give you spectacular colour in deepest, darkest winter. To give you just a handful of my favourites is downright difficult but one shrub I would never be without is good old cornus alba Westonbirt with its brilliant red stems lighting up the whole garden. Plant boldly in stands of several shrubs if you have space. You won't regret it. In the smaller garden go for single plants combined with hellebores and snowdrops. Other cornus are also good value, especially Midwinter Fire and its kin, but if you only have room for one, take my advice and make it Westonbirt.

A close second on my must-have list is the lovely witch hazel or hamamelis, an ethereal lovely with strange ribbon-like flowers in shades of yellow, orange or fiery red depending on the variety. It's elegantly slow growing, making 12ft (4m) eventually, often has spectacular autumn colour and there are lots to choose from, many with Awards of Garden Merit from the RHS. I love the pale yellow Pallida as well as the widely available Arnold Promise. For orange flowers choose Jelena or Diane. The yellow flame of witch hazel – hamamelis

Mahonia, while not a favourite of my assistant Anna, definitely does it for me with its sunny winter flowers and strong evergreen leaves. I also love the somewhat Japanese looks with twisted branches and shiny holly-like leaflets.

Again there are lots to choose from including many with AGMs such as Buckland, Lionel Fortescue and Winter Sun which describes itself perfectly.


For all that I have decried the evergreen blobs earlier on; no garden is complete without a blob or two to set other things off against. Dark globes of clipped yew and the brighter greens of box hedging and topiary are invaluable for providing a backdrop to winter colours such as red dogwoods, hellebores, snowdrops and so on. But there are more to evergreens than these. I have a soft spot for the Christmas box or sarcococca which comes in various varieties, all of them evergreen, all of them with fragrant winter flowers and all of them a perfect mound of shiny evergreenery.

Second on the list is another Daphne D. laureola or the spurge laurel has rich evergreen leaves a lovely mounded habit and small but bright lime green flowers in the depths of winter. Perhaps best of all it will happily grow in the shadiest corner and in dry soil. Yes it's a must have.

Finally, having been a bit sniffy about heathers for perhaps the best part of two decades, I have come to appreciate them lately. In the right spot the gentle hummocks of evergreen foliage topped with soft purple, pink or white flowers are just the thing to brighten the winter garden. Heathers also look great with the greys and golds of paving and walling which makes them perfect for courtyard gardens and container gardening. Red dogwood stems against the snow

Granted you have more choice if your soil is light sandy and acidic which Bath is decidedly not, but you can still grow some good varieties. Look for erica carnea and erica x darleyensis as these are the most tolerant and run the shears or hedge trimmer over them every spring to keep things neat.

Jane Moore is the award-winning gardening columnist and head gardener at The Bath Priory Hotel.
Twitter: @janethegardener

Featured image: topiary yew makes a striving addition, if you have the space

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Clare Webb to Partner at Sharp Family Law

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 01:24 AM PST

Sharp Family Law, specialist family law firm with offices in Bath and Bristol, are pleased to announce the promotion of Clare Webb to Partner within the firm.

On joining Sharp Family Law in 2011, Clare shared the firm's commitment to finding constructive ways to address the many challenges resulting from divorce and separation.  Since, she has grown and developed her practice to help clients focus not only on resolving their current issues but also considering and shaping their futures to ensure long term security.

What the firm says:  "We are pleased to acknowledge Clare's dedication to clients and commitment to this firm – a well-deserved promotion for a truly valued member of the Sharp Family Law team."

What the clients say:  "Clare is an excellent solicitor who I would highly recommend to anyone who has to go through this process. She is particularly able at helping the collaborative process to proceed with fairness and dignity. Clare was always extremely sympathetic to the emotional upset that a divorce entails and took the time to talk through the significance and implications of every stage of the process. Communications were always prompt, clear and detailed. I felt well supported throughout this very difficult time."

Visit: sharpfamilylaw.com

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