Friday 24 February 2012

Real Ale Tales with the Amber Valley by Nathan Dilley

It’s that time of year again when the members of Amber Valley CAMRA have selected their pub of the year. This is an arduous task undertaken by the members and competition is fierce. We are fortunate to have an increasing list of quality pubs and inns in our region, from quiet rural pubs to lively town ones, bustling back street locals to quirky modern conversions.

Members will have been visiting pubs that may include the likes of The Old Oak Inn at Horsley Woodhouse, a curio of a place which affords a warm welcome in the shape of open fires, and at weekends the Rurad Bar which offers gravity-dispensed craft beers from near & far of varying strengths and styles. Another pub worth seeking out is the Dead Poets at Holbrook, which offers high-backed pews at the bar, stone flagged floors and comfy corners in which to enjoy any of the six guest beers that they have on at any one time. The area also includes pubs such as the Thorn Tree at Waingroves, a real locals’ pub which goes to great lengths to source beers not found elsewhere locally and puts on interesting beer festivals well worth seeking out. If character is what you are after, then the Holly Bush at Makeney will definitely not disappoint; this late 17th century listed pub was a possible haunt of Dick Turpin when it stood on the old Derby Turnpike before the new road opened in 1818.

The judging panel score not only on beer quality, but on such things as good value, service/welcome, atmosphere and numerous other criteria which CAMRA believes makes these pubs stand out in a crowded marketplace. Members will have decided whether last year’s worthy winner, the Hunters Arms at Kilburn, has retained its crown among such sterling competition. A list of potential pubs is whittled down to the eight pubs with the highest number of votes from members and these are then visited over a six-week period, and the winner is announced shortly into the New Year. The pubs mentioned above are only a small selection of possible entrants. What they all have in common though is excellent beer, a warm welcome and what I believe to be the ingredients that make the pub the essential place to while away many an enjoyable hour. Why not check out a selection of the above and see if they are deserving of a place in your own pub of the year list?

Nathan Dilley, Chairman of Amber Valley CAMRA

This article appears in our Feb/Mar 2012 issues - click here to read the All Things Local issue of your choice.

Monday 20 February 2012

Recipe: Mushroom & Leek Risotto

This creamy risotto is great for a quick and easy midweek supper simply served with a leafy green salad and some warm ciabatta bread. Replace the mushrooms with small vine tomatoes fried until soft, if preferred.

Serves 4
Ready in 45 minutes

55g butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 leeks, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
225g risotto rice
900ml hot vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
175g button mushrooms, wiped
2-3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 Heat half the butter and the oil in a large deep frying pan. Add the sliced leeks and garlic and fry over a medium-high heat until softened but not brown. Stir in the rice and cook for one minute.

2 Add a ladleful of the hot stock to the pan and simmer gently, stirring all the time. When all the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, add another ladleful of stock. Continue adding the stock in this way until the rice is tender and has a creamy texture – this will take about 20 minutes.

3 Heat the rest of the butter in a separate frying pan and fry the mushrooms over a high heat for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Stir the Parmesan cheese into the risotto and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

4 Serve the risotto in warmed bowls topped with the fried mushrooms, chopped parsley and extra Parmesan cheese.

This article appears in our Feb/Mar 2012 issues - click here to read the All Things Local issue of your choice.

Friday 17 February 2012

On Two Wheels

On Two Wheels” by Ian Bax (pictured) of Roy Jervis, Ripley.

By the time you read this Christmas will be well and truly over, apart from, for a lot of us, the “did I really spend that much” credit card bill and the extra inches and pounds we seem to have received from 
Santa’s festive treats! Unfortunately I can’t help with the credit card bill (well yours anyway!) but maybe we can do something to help shed the unwanted pounds. GET ON YA BIKE!

As I sit and write this article with just 10 days to go till Christmas we are busy at the shop building, preparing and storing bicycles and scooters of all shapes and sizes ready for Santa to collect and deliver to kids of all ages and cycling abilities. I love seeing kids out on the street on Christmas morning riding their new bikes, especially when we’ve sold them!

Cycling is life enhancing, not only is it a mode of transport but it’s a balancing act, a tool for exploratory play and a form of exercise all wrapped up in an eco-friendly package. Did you know that cycling is by far the most popular sport related exercise among children?

For kids, learning to ride a bike is a key rite of passage giving them a great sense of independence, enabling them to undertake journeys that were too boring or too far to walk previously and making them fun and exciting. Cycling enables children to explore new places, meet up with friends and make new friends that were out of their reach before.

Obviously there are risks with cycling; bicycles can be fast, a lot faster than running which, in itself, is an attraction for many children. I’m sure many of us used to build ramps and tracks to see how far we could push ourselves and our trusty steeds! Children do hurt themselves on bikes; I did, but most injuries are slight and every knock is a learning experience and that is no reason to limit their rides to weekends with adult supervision.

As a kid I would spend most summer days during the school holidays with my best mate Chris out on our bikes going for miles with only a water bottle, some sandwiches and a few pennies for sweets! For those of you who have read my previous articles and have some idea of my age you will know that we didn’t have mobile phones either! We loved it, regularly clocking up 50 miles or more and discovering places we didn’t know existed, our favourite being “Stone Rocks” at Weirwood Reservoir in Sussex (I’m a Southerner, don’t hold it against me!) where we would climb the rocks and meet up with like-minded kids.

We didn’t even have cycle helmets in those days something which should be a must today and as familiar to kids as putting their seat belt on in a car.

Well 500 words is fast approaching, so let me just end by saying that not only is cycling fantastic for children’s development and general health, but it is also something that we can all get a massive benefit from, keeping us healthy in body and mind and giving us an activity that we can do as a family.

Good luck with the diet and I look forward to seeing you all soon.

This article appears in our Feb/Mar 2012 issues - click here to read the All Things Local issue of your choice.

Monday 13 February 2012

YOUR HOROSCOPE for February and March 2012

The Cosmos during February and March

February: Neptune, the planet of mystery and illusion leaves Aquarius on the 4th and “comes home” to its own sign of compassionate Pisces. This will be a 14 year stay and takes us up to 2026. Neptune is the God of the seas, and just like water, can be difficult to pin down. Pisces is also associated with the vastness of the sea and big questions around the world’s water and resources will arise. Neptune also rules spirituality and deep understanding, and during this time we could all find ways to channel our sensitivities to the greater good of all. Spiritual ideas and new forms of healing will affirm their validity and become more a part of everyday life. Venus, the love planet is in amorous Aries on Valentine’s Day, it should be especially passionate and romantic this year!

March: We are heading towards longer and warmer days, and with the spring equinox on Tuesday the 20th and a powerful new moon in Aries on the 22nd there is renewed strength and vitality available for all. Enjoyment and prosperity are also emphasised as benevolent Jupiter and harmonious Venus are both in sensual Taurus. Reconnecting with love, art, music and all things beautiful should be a priority to lift your spirits and help to access your potential. Impatience may cause concern as communicative Mercury marches through Aries, but this will all slow down as the retrograde motion begins on the 12th. It is always wise to look before you leap with Mercury retrograde, and don’t forget to check all communications and travel plans as the trickster always likes a laugh at our expense!

Venus, the Goddess of love and beauty moves into your sign on the 8th. Your passions and desires will now come to the forefront and demand that you take action. Neptune, now in a prominent position, ensures that you begin to direct your attention to more intuitive sources and follow your dreams. March: Your ruler, energetic Mars, is in retrograde motion all month and may bring a halt to certain projects. This may seem like a hindrance, but in truth you probably need to double check your plans. Mid-month brings a spectacular alignment with transformational Pluto and new ideas are revealed.

Neptune illuminates the social area of your chart. With Venus also there until the 8th you might seek new alliances with organisations based on your newfound spiritual interests. Many new people may now enter your life and you’ll see that they will help lead you back to yourself. March: Venus, the goddess of love and your planetary ruler, moves into your sign on the 5th. Are you ready for a new romance, or just some quality time to concentrate on yourself and bring new pleasures into your life? The 14th could bring amorous surprises as Venus aligns positively with Mars.

Neptune reaches the highest point in your chart and you’ll feel like reaching for the stars! Your intention to merge love and beauty into your goals ensures that your faith will be rewarded. After the 14th Mercury enters Pisces and new ways of inspired communication develop. March: The full moon on the 8th illuminates the domestic area of your chart and challenges you to really think about your living arrangements. Mars in productive Virgo continues to fire you up to make positive changes and your endless enthusiasm ensures a successful outcome.

Neptune has arrived at a pivotal position in your chart; you will start to focus on how to expand your influence in the world. Wherever you travel now could begin to feel like home. The new moon in Pisces on the 21st brings a new start to projects aimed at further education. March: The new moon in pioneering Aries on the 22nd, challenges you to take another look at your professional life. Are you really getting what you want and do you feel appreciated? Communicative Mercury, retrograde after the 12th, brings innovative and inspiring ideas to the surface.

Planetary forces combine all month to improve your finances and your career standing. Mars continues to work hard in Virgo and your well thought out strategies should pay off this month. The full moon in your sign on the 7th could bring some major surprises, be ready for action. March: A spectacular alignment of Venus and Jupiter on the 14th could illuminate some interesting developments in your professional life. With transformational Pluto and Mars also joining in, this is a great time to strengthen your reputation and make important and advantageous connections.

Your work place could be a source of intense scrutiny this month. Try to stay under the radar and keep your focus. Communicative Mercury moves into Pisces on the 14th. This could bring some misunderstandings or confusion, but staying connected to your intuition brings results. March: Mars is retrograde in your sign all month supplying you with added energy to re-focus and re-establish your personal goals. This is a fantastic time to identify your strengths and to take positive action to rectify situations that may have previously felt frustrating or repressive.

The Sun and communicative Mercury are travelling through a pivotal spot in your chart. Creative business projects can be furthered and because you will do well in negotiation, you should aim high and get the best deal. Neptune now urges you to listen to your inner voice. March: This could turn out to an amazingly lucky month for Librans. Bountiful Venus and expansive Jupiter are cuddling up in the financial area of your chart. Optimism and enthusiasm should be at their peak and any innovative projects started now could turn out to be very successful.

Mighty and benevolent Jupiter is forging ahead through your opposite sign of Taurus. Relationships come to the forefront and you may need to check that your needs are being met. You need emotional balance and an inner feeling of peace and you’ll be determined to get it. March: Expansive Jupiter and bountiful Venus are in your opposite sign of Taurus, bringing up your innermost feelings and desires. Refocusing and review become necessary now. It's time to re-examine how you have been handling your assertiveness in relationships and with family.

Mystery planet Neptune touches the deepest sector of your chart this month. Although you might feel confused to start with, the more you touch base with your inner wisdom you’ll see that things can only get better. The new moon on the 21st brings surprises on the home front, stay flexible and enjoy. March: Sagittarians feel a wave of new energy at the start of this month. Three planets activate the most creative and fun loving part of your chart. Your popularity is on an upward trend and others will find you particularly attractive and friendly. Spread the joy and have a ball!

Finding new ways of communicating are your main focus this month. Neptune and Venus, both in sensitive and compassionate Pisces, bring an entirely new slant to the way that you get things done. Mars is busy working at broadening your horizons, exciting times ahead if you go with the flow. March: Three planets in the domestic sector of your chart herald a busy start to the month. Many issues concerning you home and family could come to a head now. Stern Saturn, your ruling planet, is in Libra and helps you to find a more balanced way of coping with any difficulties.

Neptune leaves your sign on the 3rd after a long 14 year stay. Clarity and insight return in abundance as you now focus on your new goals. Intuitive Neptune has taught you many things and with new values and a renewed sense of self you are ready to carve out a brilliant plan of action. March: All things around communication and learning are illuminated during March. Your ruler, the maverick planet Uranus, demands innovative and creative thinking on all levels. You’ll enjoy the challenge of tackling a variety of new subjects and making brilliant new connections.

Neptune has come home and will be in your sign for the next 14 years. Neptune often dissolves all that it touches and this is the time to dispose of things in your life that you no longer appreciate or value. Mercury also enters Pisces on the 14th and you’ll find that you want more love and beauty than ever before. March: Expansive Jupiter and the love planet Venus light up a pivotal sector of your chart. During this cycle there should be a powerful mental connection with your creative self-expression. You should be very proud of your ideas and have no trouble expressing them smoothly.


Would you like to know how you can get in touch with your personal power and be the very best version of yourself in 2012? I can help you to discover your purpose, achieve personal transformation and work towards achieving your dreams.

Christine Chalklin
Inspirational Astrologer and Life Coach,

Friday 10 February 2012

Fishing By John Layton, Derbyshire County Angling Club

Spring Fishing: A time of expectation for the fly fisher
Derbyshire is a magic place for the fisher and for many, spring is its most magical time. If we are lucky the rivers, lakes and reservoirs are in first class condition and the passion for the sport is at its peak. Whilst these delights affect all fishermen, March and April is when the Trout fishing season starts and a strange compulsion comes over those suffering from winter fly fishing deprival. They have an unrelenting and irresistible urge to visit reservoirs and rivers to cast their fishing flies.
Derbyshire has a special place in the hearts of fly fishers. This comes from its focus in the fly fishing chapters of Walton's Compleat Angler and perhaps if fly fishing has a sacred place, a holy of holies, then it lies in the River Dove near Hartington. It was on this spot in 1674 that Charles Cotton, author of the fly fishing chapters in the Compleat Angler and friend of Izaak Walton built his fishing house.
The Dove in this area flows through beautiful countryside and towering limestone gorges. The spring-fed river is crystal clear as it dances downstream over the rocks and when the conditions are right; swarms of flies hover and skip across the surface of the deeper pools. In the spring flies are fewer but fly fishers dream of warmer days and of casting fishing flies and catching the lovely pink spotted wild Dove brown trout of about a pound or the larger stock fish, released by Derbyshire County Angling Club.
The River Dove near Hartington is clear and trout and grayling are plentiful. The river has benefited from much improvement under the Upper Dove Restoration Project, run by the Trent Rivers Trust in partnership with the Derbyshire County Angling Club. Much has been achieved and the fishing has greatly improved. Trees have been removed to allow more light into the river, allowing weed growth which provides cover for fish and a variety of invertebrate food. Long-term habitat improvement has ensured the health of the wild brown trout to the upper Dove.
If you want to know more about fishing available under membership of the Derbyshire County Angling go to: or for fishing the historic Charles Cotton fishery under the Peak Passport fishing scheme:
This article appears in our Feb/Mar 2012 issues - click here to read the All Things Local issue of your choice.

Monday 6 February 2012

Fashion by Shona Harding of Pearls and Scarlett

Going into the New Year most people see it as a chance to change or adapt the lifestyle choices or habits we all slip into throughout the year. For most people it is giving up chocolate or cigarettes, for others it involves a gym membership or two. These resolutions normally don’t last very long as we put the expectations far too high and set ourselves out for failure. So for a change this year why not set yourself a resolution to try a new style or look. As with everything we do on a day to day basis we are habit forming, it is part of our DNA and this is no different for the way we shop. We get used to buying from the same shops; it gives us comfort to know what size we are in that shop and that season after season they tend to stick to only variations of the same look.

If the prospect of changing your style is too daunting why not look to your favourite films or T.V programmes for inspiration. Programmes like Downton Abbey and films following the lives of Marilyn, Wallis Simpson and Margaret Thatcher are all popular and hark back to the days when women dressed in a more stylish way. Likewise if you were inspired by Princess Diana or Jackie O you can achieve their style by just making the smallest of changes.

Plan your seasons – take an hour out of your weekend to really think about what you will need for the next 3 to 4 months. We can take Jackie Onassis as a style inspiration for example; start with a Capri length or cropped trouser, very straight leg with vents at the ankle. A great colour is a dark beige, navy or black, team that up with a pair of ballerina pumps or loafers; good labels to look for here are Jaeger, French Sole & Max Mara. Then a higher neckline for the top - slash is great with ¾ length sleeves. Avoid prints and stick to plain, it is classic and will ensure the look won’t date. For evenings out try a black shift dress, length just below the knee teamed with a short swing jacket or bolero and medium-heeled court shoes. 

Keep jewellery to a minimum with just an elegant bracelet or earrings. If you look at photos of her from the 1960’s right up until her death she never made a fashion mistake because she understood and knew her style.

Next edition, I will be discussing a different look altogether; in fact it could not be more opposite to the elegance of Jackie O - the madness of Helena Bonham Carter!

See you all in April.

This article appears in our Feb/Mar 2012 issues - click here to read the All Things Local issue of your choice.

Saturday 4 February 2012

The Diary of a Local Mum

A friend of mine recently asked me to help her with her CV. She’s taken a ‘career-break’ to look after her three children, and hasn’t worked in the conventional sense for seven years. She was worried about how to communicate this on her CV, without coming across as out of touch or a bit rusty.

She began looking back at skills and experience she could draw on from her previous job, but she was concerned that it looked like she was delving into the past for evidence of her abilities. It struck us then that we shouldn’t skim over the past seven years, but that her experience within this time was both valid and valuable.

There’s a common misconception that parents of either sex who take time off work to look after children spend all of their time cleaning and drinking tea. There’s certainly some tea and cleaning involved, but looking after children (and a home) involves a great deal more than that, and during those years you develop skills that are easily transferable, and would be beneficial in any workplace.

In fact there are very few paid positions that require such a vast variety of skills. When you become a parent there is no training, and often little support. You have to think on your feet, make tough decisions, and carry out a multitude of demanding tasks every day.

We looked at the skills that had been well-honed during the past seven years and these included:

Organisational skills – speak to most parents and they will say their calendar is the most important thing in their house. Not only are you organising your own life, but you’re responsible for numerous little people getting to and from various schools, pre-schools, swimming lessons, clubs, and social commitments, often all at the same time. Then there are meals, packed lunches, uniforms, presents, and countless other things to think about. Managing an office diary is a doddle when you’ve been through that.

Multi-tasking – from the earliest days of becoming a parent this becomes second nature. In fact, if you’re only doing one thing at once you start to wonder what’s wrong.

Quick-thinking – when a wheel falls off a bike when you’re halfway home from the park and you’re faced with the prospect of carrying both a broken bike and a screaming toddler home, it’s amazing how innovative you can be.

Negotiation skills – from a surprisingly young age children are shrewd negotiators, and the ability to debate and agree on a compromise is imperative.

Learning new skills – there’s nothing like being thrown in at the deep end, and when you first become a parent that’s exactly what happens. Within days you’re an expert on feeding, winding, changing, dressing and all the things that had previously filled you with terror (admit it, everyone’s scared of even holding a newborn before they have their own). This doesn’t stop either. As your child grows up you’re continually learning new things to keep up with them and support them through all their new ventures.

Communication skills – as well as learning to communicate with your children on their level (interpreting their early utterances, encouraging them to tell you what’s bothering them, explaining difficult concepts to them), parents also have to learn to communicate effectively with a host of other adults at various levels, dealing with problems or situations that can be challenging, sensitive or embarrassing.

And this list is far from comprehensive. Being a parent is by far the most difficult job you could have, and it’s a life-long commitment that doesn’t get easier! We’d all shy away from putting this experience on our CV’s for fear of not being taken seriously, but surely any employer would be lucky to have someone with all of these skills.

By Helen Young

This article appears in our Feb/Mar 2012 issues - click here to read the All Things Local issue of your choice.