Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Windsor Electric Vehicle Festival To Tour This Month

The electric vehicle specialist, Octopus Electric Vehicles, is delighted to launch the Windsor Electric Vehicle Festival at locations across Windsor starting Saturday at King Edward Court in front of Waitrose, and then at Windsor Racecourse on 25th August, and followed by The Oakley Court Hotel on 1st September.

The series of events is specially designed to help Berkshire locals to learn about, experience and celebrate electric vehicles across three exciting days.The electric vehicle specialist, Octopus Electric Vehicles, is hosting the Windsor Electric Vehicle Festival at locations across Windsor. This series of events is specially designed to help Berkshire locals to learn about, experience and celebrate electric vehicles across three exciting days.

For the first time, Octopus EV brings together a range of the world’s best EVs, a team of impartial experts to help consumers choose the right vehicle (and get a great price), 100% renewable electricity for the selected electric car and home, smart charger that saves money when charging, and a free VIP support helpline for as long as they remain a customer.

Berkshire locals will have the chance to experience everything to do with electric vehicles from test driving the cars themselves, to learning about charging, and about Octopus Energy Go - the very first time of use tariff designed specifically for EV owners.

There are around 40,000 deaths in the UK every from air pollution (source: Royal College of Physicians), and 59% of people living amid illegal pollution levels in the UK

Brand new research conducted by Queen Mary University of London shows air pollution is linked to those changes in the structure of the heart seen in early stages of heart failure. The finding could help explain the increased number of deaths seen in areas with high levels of dirty air. Such premature deaths can be linked to a number of causes including cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and changes linked to dementia.

The health problems resulting from exposure to air pollution have a high cost to people who suffer from illness and premature death, to our health services and to business. In the UK, these costs add up to more than £20 billion every year. .

Electric cars can bring more to Berkshire than just great fun and affordable driving. It is the biggest move we can make towards a sustainable future, and making an impact on the health of local residents.

Octopus Electric Vehicles CEO, Fiona Howarth, said:

'As the only company to offer the full electric vehicle package, Octopus Electric Vehicles is delighted to present the Windsor Electric Vehicle Festival taking place from 18th August - 1st September 2018.
'The events will give locals an exciting chance to find out more about electric vehicles from our team of experts, how to make the switch and book a test drive, across three different exciting events, while demonstrating our commitment and passion for the UK’s switch to electric vehicles - giving us zero-carbon transportation and importantly - cleaner air.'

A Full Fat Festival of Food & Drink For All The Family

Milk Fest is in its fifth year! To celebrate the occasion this year’s Milk Fest is all about the Best of British. As ever, over the August Bank Holiday weekend Milk Fest kicks off on Friday 24 August and we’re planning a long weekend of fun all the way through to Monday 27 August.

It’s been created to be a feel good feast of British fun for the whole family. We’ve put together a jam packed schedule, with music from top local talent and fabulous food and drink from some of our wonderful suppliers. From Pimm’s slushies to Halloumi burgers, face-painting to British bubble-tastic displays, there’ll be something to put a smile on everyone’s face. To mark the occasion, we’ll also be putting our Full Fat Festival Top back on tap at a cheap and beerful £3.50/pint. A tipple or two of this bespoke Kentish bitter, crafted just for us by Old Dairy Brewery, is sure to get you in the party mood. So bring a rug, make yourself comfortable, tuck into some fine festival fodder and enjoy the tunes! For more information please visit their website or check out this video.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Comedy, nostalgia and drama at the Holiday Inn Winchester

Following on from the Holiday Inn Winchester’s recent success with their sell-out ‘Fawlty Towers Comedy Dining’ event, the 4 star hotel has created a programme of new events for their autumn season of entertainment. The season will launch with ‘Fabulous? Absolutely’ on Friday,12th October, an Absolutely Fabulous tribute that will bring all the drama and comedy of that much loved TV series into the hotel, while guests enjoy a three course meal, created by the hotel’s AA Rosette Award winning head chef and his team.

The hotel’s Sarah Waddington reveals a little about the performance:

'The drama will unfold around our guests, who will see the main characters attending a Gala, only to arrive and find out that they are not on the guest list. They then try various hilarious ways to get access to the event.'

The evening starts at 7pm, when the gathering guests will start to see the scenes unfold as the cast mingle and perform around them. Then at 8pm a three course meal will be served, while the performance continues. Tickets are £36 per person.

'We had a promenade theatre event at the hotel a few years ago and it was very successful and memorable, so it is great to bring a live theatrical performance back again and present it to the public in a non-theatre setting' continued Sarah Waddington.

The hotel will also be presenting a Christmas themed comedy performance on Saturday 24th November, featuring characters from the hugely popular Only Fools and Horses TV series. ‘Del Boy’s Comedy Dinner Show’ aims to be a whirlwind tribute to everything Trotter and everything to do with Christmas.

'This event is perfect for pre-Christmas celebrations, office parties and groups of friends to come along to. Party games, pantos and presents will be part of the theme of the drama that will be revealed to our guests as they dine, along with the usual Del Boy Trotter chaos!' said Sarah Waddington. Tickets will be £36 including a three course meal, festive table decorations, coffee and mince pies with 7pm arrival and dinner at 8pm.

Also leading up to Christmas the hotel has booked Abba’s Angels, an Abba tribute band for another evening of entertainment and fine food on Friday, 30th November from 7pm until midnight. There will be a dance floor for those who want to express their inner-Abba and the event includes a three course dinner, party novelties and the evening of entertainment. Tickets £42 per head (over 18’s only).

To end the year the hotel will be ‘Partying through the Decades’ on New Year’s Eve with live music from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, with fancy dress of the decades optional. The event includes a pre-dinner glass of Prosecco, a three course meal, and the entertainment, with tickets at £75 per person and special packages for those wishing to stay overnight at £249 per couple including the event, overnight accommodation and breakfast, with extended check out until 1pm for those wanting a relaxing start to 2019.

For more information call 01962 670700 or visit

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Plant Fairs Roadshow to visit Borde Hill Garden for the first time this September!

The team behind the Plant Fairs Roadshow, which numbers a select group of intrepid plant explorers and nurserymen, are gearing up for their first ever visit to Borde Hill Garden in Haywards Heath on 16th September (10am - 5pm).

Borde Hill is celebrating it’s 125th anniversary this year with a series of events to honour the links the garden has with the great plant hunters of the Edwardian age.  The  Roadshow’s visit is particularly pertinent as the exhibitors offer rare and unusual plants, which would appeal to the Edwardian collectors such as Colonel R Stephenson Clarke who bought Borde Hill 125 years ago this summer and sponsored famous plant hunters including EH Wilson and George Forrest. 

2018 has proved to be the biggest year yet for the Plant Fairs Roadshow with successful shows at Arundel Castle, the Sussex prairie Gardens, Hall Place and Layer Marney Tower to date this year.  
Members of the Plant Fairs Roadshow include multiple Chelsea winners and Exhibitors: Hardy’s Plants, Graham Blunt's Plantbase, Pineview Plants, Blue Leaf Plants, Pheonix Plants, Charles Hurst Farm, Forgetmenot Plants, Jo Grows, Southon Plants and many more.

Colin Moat, Chair and events coordinator says: 

'We are really looking forward to our event at Borde Hill Garden.  The history and legacy of the plant hunters is intriguing and stimulating to the exhibitors and to visitors alike.  We are pleased to be able to help the garden celebrate it’s 125th milestone and hope that the mouth-watering selection of plants on sale will do justice to the garden’s legacy.'

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

5 great hotels within 2 hours of London

Gravetye Manor

Whether your perfect short break involves Michelin-starred food, boutique shopping, stately homes and gardens or indulgent spa treatments (or all the above), there’s a hotel near the UK capital to suit.

The Good Hotel Guide has selected these five great hotels within two hours of London, all perfect for a hassle-free mini-break.

Best for a foodie weekend: Gravetye Manor, East Grinstead

From the garden flowers in the public rooms to the hot-water bottle, TV remote and Radio Times left on the bed at evening turn-down, a stay at this Elizabethan manor house is like a stay in a private home – albeit the private home of a world-class chef and gardener. The hotel’s brand new restaurant, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the historic gardens, is a fitting spot to sample chef George Blogg’s Michelin-starred cooking; he uses produce from the hotel’s orchards and extraordinary kitchen garden to create dishes that look as beautiful as they taste.

While you’re there… devote at least a few hours to the wild garden – it’s one of the most important gardens in the country, play croquet, and order the exquisite seven-course tasting menu.

Get there… in 1 hour 30 mins by road, or 1 hour by rail from London Bridge to East Grinstead Station followed by a short taxi ride.

Best for a design-led city break: The Old Vine, Winchester
 Built over a subterranean 14th-century tavern a short stroll from Winchester cathedral, Ashton Gray’s 18th-century pub-with-rooms overflows with hanging baskets and character. Interiors blend the traditional with smart contemporary. The bar has beams and open fires; each bedroom is named after a fabric and wallpaper designer and furnished with Victorian, Arts and Crafts and contemporary pieces. Under the eaves, the Design House Cathedral View Suite stretches the length of the building. Osborne and Little, overlooking the cathedral green, has intricate Georgian plaster panelling.

While you’re there… visit Jane Austen’s grave in the cathedral ,stroll the charming streets and squares of England’s ancient capital, and browse three floors of antiquarian and vintage books at The Winchester Bookshop.

Get there… in 1 hour 30 mins by road, or 1 hour 10 mins by rail from London Waterloo to Winchester Station followed by a 10-min walk.

Hartwell House

Best for a sophisticated retreat in a stately home: Hartwell House, Aylesbury

Swish up the drive through an Arcadian landscape to reach this Jacobean mansion. Enlarged and remodelled in the 1700s, it’s now a National Trust-owned luxury hotel, complete with grand interiors, a two AA rosette restaurant and a spa. Bedrooms are huge; bathrobes and home-made biscuits come as standard. For an über-romantic break, book one of the antique-filled Royal four-poster rooms, where Louis XVIII of France and his queen stayed when the house was home to his court-in-exile.

While you’re there… spend a lazy afternoon in the spa and its swimming pool, dress up for a candlelit dinner, and promenade through the hotel’s 90 acres of gardens and parkland.

Get there… in 1 hour 20 mins by road, or 1 hour by rail from Marylebone Station to Haddenham & Thame Parkway or Aylesbury Station, followed by a short taxi or bus ride.

Best for a stay in a historic castle: Hever Castle B&B, Hever

Connect with the past in this sumptuous B&B, which occupies two Edwardian additions to 13th-century Hever Castle. Moulded ceilings, grand chimney pieces, and corridors lined with paintings heighten the sense of grandeur; in the Astor and Anne Boleyn wings, individually decorated bedrooms, each with a bathroom of limestone or marble, are full of character. A blend of Tudor-inspired features and modern-day comfort, they may have a golden chaise longue, a four-poster bed, a glimpse of the castle through leaded windows.

While you’re there… enjoy complimentary access to the castle and grounds during opening hours, wander through parts of the peaceful gardens after the public has left, and walk to the atmospheric village pub, King Henry VIII, for dinner.

Get there… in 1 hour 20 mins by road, or 40 mins by rail from London Bridge to Hever Station followed by a 5-min taxi ride or a 25-min walk.

Cliveden House

Best for a country house experience: Cliveden House, Taplow

The service at this Grade I-listed stately home with a scurrilous history is exceptional, the décor suitably grand, and the setting above the River Thames exquisite. Some bedrooms are opulent, some austere, all different; even some of the smallest bedrooms have a private terrace with a hot tub and courtyard views. Grab a moment of calm in the spa, swim in the notorious outdoor pool that sparked the Profumo affair (one of the biggest political scandals in British history), then nab a table by a window in the flawless restaurant and dine on chef André Garrett’s excellent modern meals. If it was good enough for Meghan Markle on the night before her wedding…

While you’re there… get lost in the Cliveden yew maze, follow a trail through Cliveden’s National Trust-run estate for far-reaching views across Berkshire and back to the house, and take a jaunt along the River Thames in one of Cliveden’s vintage launches.

Get there… in 1 hour by road, or 30 mins by rail from London Paddington to Taplow or Burnham station followed by a 10-min taxi ride, or 50 mins to Bourne End Station followed by a 40-minute walk across the fields.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Knole becomes one of the Seven Wonders of the Weald

The Seven Wonders of the Weald is delighted to announce that National Trust property Knole in Sevenoaks has joined the other six tourist attractions which make up this successful tourism partnership.

Knole joins existing members Chiddingstone Castle, Scotney Castle, Hole Park, Kent & East Sussex Railway, Biddenden Vineyards and the Spa town of Royal Tunbridge Wells.

Hannah Kay, General Manager at Knole said: 'We were delighted to have the opportunity to work with the Seven Wonders of the Weald to promote the West Kent region to a wider audience.'

Knole was approached to be a member for its fascinating history and amazing visitor experience that starts with the sweeping parkland with wild deer herd to the grand showrooms and world-class collection.

The partnership offers a fantastic value pass which allows one free visit to all the attractions for just £30. The pass can be used at any time in the 12 months after purchase and can be obtained from or with a visit to the offices of our accommodation partner the Kent & Sussex Holiday Cottages who have offices in Cranbrook and Sandwich or from the Tourist Information Centre on the Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells, Chiddingstone Castle and Biddenden Vineyards.

The Seven Wonders of the Weald website also has details of events taking place at the attractions. Media enquiries to Caroline Edmunds at Pennington PR on 01892 616647.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

School Children set to visit Bedgebury to help save Endangered Trees

Children from four local primary schools (Goudhurst, Lamberhurst, Sandhurst and Downe) will visit the Forestry Commission’s Bedgebury National Pinetum, near Goudhurst, Kent on 18 and 19 April 2018. Each of the local schools have links to schools in Malawi through the work of the charity Starfish Malawi, and during the visit to the Pinetum they will learn about the lives of children in Malawi, hear about their critically endangered national tree, the Mulanje cedar, and tour the pinetum to learn about the tree conservation work of the pinetum and meet some rare trees.

The Bedgebury National Pinetum tree conservation team and learning team, together with representatives from Botanic Gardens Conservation International and the local charity, Starfish Malawi, will welcome the children to the Pinetum where they will learn about the plight of the Mulanje cedar before planting wild-collected seeds from the critically endangered trees in the Pinetum nursery. The seedlings will form part of the propagation trials for the “Save Our Cedar” project, which Bedgebury National Pinetum is supporting.

Bedgebury’s Collection Manager, Dan Luscombe, said:

'After visiting Malawi to collect the seed from the Mulanje cedar myself (as part of a 3-year international tree conservation project to help save the critically endangered Mulanje cedar) it is wonderful to be able to educate school children about the importance of our trees and let them know how some, without our help, are at risk of extinction in their natural environment if action is not taken soon.'

The project in Malawi will map the mountain, identifying remaining cedar trees and the best planting sites. Local community members will receive training in nursery techniques and enterprise development and will be supported in setting up nurseries around Mulanje Mountain.

The Mulanje cedar (scientific name: Widdringtonia whytei) is endemic to Mulanje Mountain in Malawi. This unique tree produces valuable timber that is durable, termite-proof and used for construction and wood-carving. Its value has led to overexploitation and very few Mulanje cedar trees now remain on the mountain. This has resulted in a loss of income for communities living around the mountain and increased soil erosion and floods due to rapid water run-off from the mountain during rainy seasons.

Previous efforts to replant the cedar populations on Mulanje Mountain have had limited results, but the Mulanje cedar grows well on Zomba and in other locations. The reasons for this are not well understood. This project will work with geneticists, foresters and botanists to improve propagation results and planting success. Alongside the restoration project, work will be conducted across Malawi to test and promote the Mulanje cedar as a sustainable timber resource that can be grown from household to plantation scales. These efforts will develop a long-term market for cedar seedlings, ensuring the survival of this tree as well as a sustainable income for nursery workers.

Forestry Commission staff travel the world to collect seeds from rare and endangered species for propagation and are supported in this work by the Friends of Bedgebury Pinetum