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January Gardening: bleak but beautiful

Posted: 07 Jan 2019 04:02 AM PST

There are a number of small but vital garden jobs to be done in January, says Jane Moore, ranging from feeding the birds to pruning your wisteria back or building that compost heap you've always wanted

Now don't worry as this won't be a long list – just enough to get you out of the armchair and looking a bit more lively after the Christmas binge. Don't overdo it, especially when January needs to be filled with essential shopping in the sales, afternoon snoozing and garage sorting. So this is a gentle warm up in preparation for the season ahead, with no danger of your burning out before spring. After all, despite a few must-do jobs, the great beauty about deepest winter is that there really is no rush.


This is more of a 'mustn't-do' really, so put your feet back up and carry on reading. Don't be tempted to clear up in every part of the garden. You don't see bare soil in nature, so leave some of the fallen leaves, grassy stems and herbaceous heads for the little critters to rummage about and hide in. That isn't a licence to leave all in utter abandon, more a question of acting judiciously, deciding what to leave and what to chop and tidy so the garden looks ordered but not sterile.


This is one of my favourite winter pursuits. I think all gardeners have an affinity with robins as they follow us about picking off little prizes as we tidy up and turn over leaves, but so many birds are bolstered to be brave through hunger and they are a winter joy.
Things that will naturally attract birds include berried shrubs and trees such as rowans, but even turning over the compost heap will attract a fan club of feathered friends. This is where leaving seed heads really comes into play as many smaller birds such as tits, wrens and finches will scratch about after tiny seeds on the ground. The ideal thing is to supplement nature with your own offerings of seed mixes, unsalted peanuts and dried mealworms. A few table scraps like cheese and fruit such as apples and pears also go down a treat.


If you have a pond and it freezes over, it will help to make a hole in it to allow more active animals like fish, frogs or newts (who will be hibernating at the bottom of the pond) to move to the surface to breathe. Don't break the ice forcibly and don't go and pour a kettle of boiling water straight into the pond either, instead use a pan of hot water to melt the surface of the ice.


This is a nice, chunky job to get on with on a sunny winter's day. Wisteria needs a good hard prune – and I mean hard – in January or February at the latest. You can also train in any new shoots you need along the wires or trelliswork frame that your wisteria grows on and cut all the other long, sprawling laterals back to a few buds. The buds are spread out few and far between on the new growth, while closer to the main stems they're more tightly packed – that's where you need to make your cut. The tougher you are, the better the flowering will be, so be brave.


Here at The Priory we often save the big chunky jobs until January – it gives us something to chip away at during these long, dull winter days. This is the time to do something major in your garden – now while you have time on your hands and not much else to get stuck into. Build that compost heap you've always wanted, or that raised vegetable bed. You won't regret it – after all there are plenty of wintery weekends to fill between now and spring and only so much filing of photographs, sorting of wardrobes and decorating that can occupy you indoors.


Pick a nice, crisp sunshiny day in January and take some pictures of your garden. Winter light makes gardens look quite magical, but when you add a touch of frost and a few red dogwood stems or something else to contrast with the neutrals and greys in the garden, it takes on quite another character.


I know there aren't that many gardens open in January but the ones that are usually have something to shout about. Plus there's always the compulsory cup of afternoon tea or pub visit to enjoy. The National Trust has three strong options, firstly a trip to Newark Park in Ozleworth, Gloucestershire, which has splendid views of the Cotswold countryside. There's also our very own Great Chalfield Manor near Melksham where the gardens offer terraces, topiary houses, a gazebo and views across the pond for the snowdrops. Finally, there's the ever-beautiful Stourhead near Mere in Wiltshire for a wintery stroll around the dramatic lake surrounded by classical temples, mystical grottoes and rare and exotic trees. Don't forget to take your camera.

Visit: nationaltrust.org.uk/newark-park; nationaltrust.org.uk/great-chalfield-manor-and-garden; nationaltrust.org.uk/stourhead

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

The post January Gardening: </br> bleak but beautiful appeared first on The Bath Magazine.

Mum’s the word: events and classes rundown

Posted: 07 Jan 2019 03:42 AM PST

Get set for 2019 with our rundown of inspiring classes and events, all tailor-made for mothers


Bath-born YOGADOO (founded by local mum Lucy Ashton) has built up a huge following. The company does brilliant yoga-themed holiday clubs for kids, classes in more than 50 schools, plus all-day retreats at Combe Grove Manor Hotel. But they've long wanted a studio space to call home. Cue the opening of The Hive. The setting is spot-on; it's in the midst of town, off Walcot street but has tranquil riverside views. Expect six adult classes a day and two children's classes for post-school wind downs.

Visit: jointhehive.co.uk


Last autum ceramist Julia Davey took the plunge and upgraded from her small studio beside Bath canal into a stunning shop-meets-studio space in Bear Flat. You can browse a thoughtfully curated selection of homewares (think bespoke eggcups and delicate pewter animal brooches). There's also an ever-changing selection of classes, many of which are great to do with older kids. In line for spring are: Shibori Dyeing, Brush Lettering and Valentine's Wreaths. Our pick would be the three-hour introduction to clay with Julia Davey, 2 February, 10am–1pm, £50.

Visit: juliadavey.com


The Mum Club hosted their first Bath event at Framptons last October and it was a smash hit. It saw 20 mums (and almost as many kids) sitting down to a brunch of poached eggs, bacon and tomatoes on sourdough toast. Of course meeting new friends is the big draw (those showing up solo will be welcomed by host and local mother Lulu Fisher who's a pro at making everyone feel at ease). But you'll also get a goodie bag bulging with gifts from local brands (a Brissi candle and Spotty Herbert treats were spied in the last one). In the line up this year is a breakfast club at Good Day Café on 17 January, 10.30am–12.30pm; a Sleep Workshop at Sweet Little Things, 13 February, 6.30–8.30pm plus a weekly fitness club and collaborations with Somerset-based start-ups such as Cotton and Canvas.

Visit: themumclub.com


Want to get a deeper understanding of your little one's behaviour and help them develop better self-confidence? Family-focused hotel Woolley Grange is hosting a two-hour workshop with expert family therapist, Caroline Penney (who also happens to be the great-granddaughter of Sigmund Freud). Caroline has more than 20 years of experience under her belt and specialises in helping parents manage and improve their relationships with their children. Friday 25 January, 10am–12pm, £5.

Visit: woolleygrangehotel.co.uk


Book now for the next Eat, Drink, Think dinner at Walcot House on 7 March. Their sold-out launch supper last October with Jo Wimble Groves, the award-winning author of Guilty Mother, was inspiring and hilarious according to those who nabbed tickets. The March one is set to be just as good; the theme is Identity and the host is Molly Gunn of Selfish Mother. Ticket includes prosecco on arrival, dinner and serious ace goodie bags (we spied a £15 Sweaty Betty gift card, Boxclever Press Journals and Aveda beauty products in the last one). The event happens in the lofty environs of Café Walcot but you are welcome to hit the bar (and the dance floor) at the club below when the event winds down at 10pm.

Visit: eatdrinkthink.org.uk

The post Mum’s the word: events and classes rundown appeared first on The Bath Magazine.

January diet refresh

Posted: 07 Jan 2019 03:08 AM PST

If you're planning to make positive lifestyle changes to your diet in 2019, don't be too hard on yourself, says Melissa Blease. You see, slow and steady, tortoise style, always wins the race

Imagine being a guest at a fabulous, month-long party that you've prepared for and looked forward to for months. The drinks flow, the non-stop buffet just keeps on comin' atcha and pretty much every available surface around you is strewn with enticing little nibbles and luxurious chocolates. Imagine if the party climaxed at midnight with fireworks and fizz, and yet more food to sustain you into the wee small hours. Imagine yourself falling into bed after all that, happy and a bit fuzzy around the edges, totally at peace with the world. And then imagine waking up six hours later to… that's it! The party's over: a new year has dawned, and you're obliged to give yourself A Very Hard Time.

If you're planning to make positive lifestyle changes starting on 1 January 2019, you're not going it alone: according to a recent survey conducted by ComRes for Bupa, 47% of us will make New Year's resolutions this year, with 38% of those polled putting combinations around losing weight, eating more healthily and cutting down on alcohol consumption at the top of their list. It's a sad but true, however, that – despite our very best intentions – a whopping 29% of dieters will have stepped off the path of righteousness and straight into the cheese/pudding/pub by the start of February. Are they weak? Are they lazy? No! They're just human.

January is the very worst month for subjecting yourself to a drastic or possibly even harsh regime: the weather is as cold, dark and gloomy as your post-party season bank account, the back-to-work alarm call has come around all too quickly, and the post-Christmas blues are hardly conducive to an 'up and at it' plan of action. But while I'm not suggesting that anybody should put their healthy plans on hold in favour of opening a bottle of red wine, bingeing on pie and mash and taking up permanent residence on the sofa until spring comes around, there is a middle ground twixt the dynamic/do nothing approaches to New Year resolutions.

According to the legendary ancient Greek fable-teller Aesop, there was once a shouty, boastful hare who was very confident about winning a race against against what he perceived to be a very slow tortoise. So confident was he that he even took a nap during the race, thinking that he had all the time in the world to catch up with the 'competition'. But while Mr Hare snoozed, Mr Tortoise continued with his own gentle but solid, determined pace all the way to the finishing line… which haughty hare, who thought he knew all there was to know about achieving success, didn't reach until much, much later. And this year, you too can be that winning tortoise.

If, instead of making all manner of strict rules regarding what's off the menu, you focus on all the fabulous stuff you can eat to your heart's content (in this context, quite literally) and make it your aim to get friendly with properly good food, you'll slowly but steadily notice a big difference to your weight, wellbeing and wallet.

“If you make it your aim to get friendly with properly good food, you'll slowly but steadily notice a big difference to your weight, wellbeing and wallet”

At this time of the year, we've got a lot of fabulous fresh produce to fill our shopping bags with, not least of all on our doorsteps: beetroot, cauliflower, parsnips, leeks and kale are just a few of the luscious, vegetables that are at their very best in January. Winter berries are sweet, clementines super-juicy. Cod is coming in, mussels are marvellous, venison (high in protein; low in fat; massively flavoursome) is still vibrant… and that's only the start of what's on the healthy eating winter menu. Hunger pangs? Not in this kitchen!

There's a big place for lightweight substitutions in the slow'n'steady race too: swap the cream in soups, sauces or on top of fruit for yogurt, crème fraiche, or quark, and you won't notice that you've given up anything apart from fat and calories.

Keen to ditch dairy? Nut, oat, rice and soya milks are all fabulous alternatives to traditional dairy milk, while tofu – high in protein, iron, calcium and all manner of minerals and vitamins, now readily available in silken, smoked and pressed varieties – can take over where cream and meat are being left off. Talking of meat…

According to that ComRes survey, it's estimated that 13% of the population won't be eating meat or fish at all this year, while thousands more will identify themselves as 'flexitarian' (ie, substantially cutting back on the amount of meat they eat) – joining their ranks is a 'make just one change' goal that could have a massive, positive impact on your healthy eating aims for 2019.

If, after all this easygoing advice, you're still feeling a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of making any kind of changes at all this month, call in the troops for a bit of support. Riverford Organic Farmers' home delivery veg (and more!) boxes include inspirational recipes that offer fresh ideas to liven up your larder, while a range of courses at Demuths Cookery School encourage everybody, whether beginners or veterans, to gain confidence in plant-free cooking. Meanwhile, a massive, ever-evolving selection of largely organic, fresh, seasonal produce proliferates at Bath Farmers' Market every Saturday morning – one trip here is all it takes to wake up your senses and boost your attitude to good food.

But above all, remember this: if you're aiming to kick bad habits to the kerb this year, that doesn't mean that you're going to be brutal on yourself. Nothing terrible will happen if you have two glasses of wine instead of the planned 'just one' (or none at all) when you're having a hard-earned Friday night feet-up. The world won't end if you polish off the last of the chocolate truffles that you'd hidden in the back of the cupboard. The diet police aren't going to arrest you for giving in to your crumpet cravings, or taking a cheeky takeaway order too far one weekend in four, or saying yes to a Yorkshire pudding… and you're not going to give yourself a rollicking for snarfling down the odd roastie, either.

If you need to escape the confines of your own kitchen, eating out isn't off the menu for healthy eaters, nor does it mean giving in to temptation. These days – what with vegetarian/vegan/lighter dishes trending on most restaurant menus and good chefs being savvy to all manner of dietary requirements – it's relatively easy to choose wisely, choose well… and let somebody else do the dishes afterwards. Fallen off the wagon again? Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.

If you put not hanging out with hares at the top of your resolutions list this new year, you're on track for the happy, healthy, tasty January you deserve – slow and steady wins the race.

Riverford Organic Farmers: riverford.co.uk; Demuths Cookery School: demuths.co.uk; Bath Farmers' Market: bathfarmersmarket.co.uk

The post January diet refresh appeared first on The Bath Magazine.