Friday, 24 July 2015

WT's Big Day Out

Wealden Times Team training day...

After receiving an email the day before telling us where to meet and to only bring some spare clothes and a towel, Julie had the whole team wondering what she had in store for the Wealden Times training day...

It started with some tea, obviously, and then a talk from Neil Laughton, a former Royal Marine Commando and SAS officer who has lead expeditions on 7 continents, by land, sea and air, and climbed Mount Everest 5 times!

After feeling inspired we ran through some great character building exercises and played a serious game of ultimate frisbee!

After a delicious lunch made by the fabulous people at Brick House Farm we were in for some more team building games and then the real mission was made clear...

Our damsel in distress (WT's Julie) was stuck at the other side of the pond, and it was up to the rest of the team, divided into groups of 4 and 5 to build a raft using wooden poles, plastic barrels, a bath and lots of rope (and hope!)

After some more tea to build up our spirits, we took it in turns to paddle our way across the water to rescue Julie, help her safely onto the raft and back over to the other side onto dry land. 

Everyone had similar design ideas for their flotation devices, but Fiona and Rob decided to go for something a little different, using only two barrels...Despite the slightly more wobbly journey, they did it, and no one ended up falling in!

It was a day packed with lots of fun and some inspiring words. Everyone without a doubt gained something to take back to the office with them. So a big thank you is in order for Neil Laughton, the team at Brick House Farm and Julie and Beth for organising it all!

Friday, 17 July 2015

July's Take Five

Tea Party Treats

We pick some of our favourite recipes from over the years that we think will make the perfect selection of tea party nibbles!

Butternut squash and chilli chestnut rolls

What you'll need...

● 1 small butternut squash ● 500g Saxby's puff pastry ● 1/2 red chilli ● 1/2 tsp five spice ● 1 tsp ground ginger ● 50g soft brown sugar ● 150g roasted chestnuts ● 1 egg whisked for egg wash ●

What to do...

1. Peel and cut butternut squash into cubes, then roast in a little oil together with the sugar and five spice mix, allow to cool.

2. Finely chop the chilli and chestnuts, and mash together with the butternut squash and ginger.

3. Roll out the puff pastry into long thin strips and place a little of the mixture in the centre of the puff pastry, brush the edges of the pastry with egg wash and fold over to form a roll.

4. Brush lightly with egg wash before placing tin the oven to cook, until golden brown.

Recipe: Tony Boyle
Photos: David Merewether


What you'll need...

● 1tbsp icing sugar ● 125ml hot water  1 tbsp cornflour ● 25g sachet gelatine ● red food colouring ● 2 free range egg whites ● 500g granulated sugar 

What to do...

1. Sift together the icing sugar and cornflour in a bowl. Grease a 20cm (8in) square shallow cake tin with a little vegetable oil, then shake some of the icing sugar and cornflour mixture to coat the tin. Set aside.

2. Pour the hot water into a bowl, sprinkle the gelatine on top and stir gently until the crystals dissolve. Add 2-3 drops of food colouring to the gelatine and mix thoroughly. (Pink is traditionally used but you can use whichever colour you like)

3. Put the egg whites into a food processor and set aside. Put the granulated sugar into a medium saucepan and add 250 ml of water. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. In the meantime, turn on the food processor and mix the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Boil the sugar mixture until it reaches 121C, the hard ball stage- when a small amount of mixture is dropped into water it will form a ball that holds its shape. Take the pan off the heat.

4. Pour the gelatine into the pan of syrup, stirring continuously until the gelatine is thoroughly mixed with the syrup. Turn the food processor back on and carefully pour the syrup onto the beaten egg whites. Continue mixing until the mixture turns thick and bulky but is still pourable. If you lift up the beater, a ribbon of marshmallow should remain on the surface for a few seconds before sinking back down into the mix.

5. Pour the marshmallow into the prepared tin and leave to set in a cool place for approximately 1 or 2 hours (do not refrigerate)

6. Dust a chopping board or work surface with the remaining cornflour and icing sugar mixture. Butter a sharp knife and carefully ease the marshmallow mixture out of the tin and onto the board. Sift any extra icing sugar and cornflour over the marshmallow if necessary. Cute the marshmallow into cubes. 

7. Store in an airtight tin lined with baking parchment or grease proof paper for up to one week. You can freeze marshmallows- they will only take a minute or two to defrost.

Recipe: Nicki Trench
Photos: David Merewether

Lunch Frittata

What you'll need...

● 8 large eggs ● small bunch of spring onions or 2 medium onions ● some cooked, cubed potatoes (quantities depend on the other vegetables used) ● a red pepper ● a courgette or two ● mushrooms ● green beans (precooked) ● peas ● a handful of chopped parsley ● oregano ● olive oil ● salt ● optional cubed pancetta 

What to do...

1. Use a heavy based, or non-stick, medium sized frying pan for this recipe. If you're splashing out and using pancetta, fry it gently until it starts to crisp and then soften the onions and uncooked vegetables in the bacon fat for 5 minutes or so. Or use a little olive oil and add the cooked potato.

2. Meanwhile crack the eggs into a bowl and beat together, then pour over the vegetable mixture and cook gently until the egg starts to set- no mixing, or you'll scramble the eggs- and keep the heat low or the bottom will burn.

3. When the mixture's been cooking for around 15 minutes, place the pan under the grill and cook to the top, to make sure the frittata cooks all the way through.

4. Serve warm or cold!

Recipe: Jo Arnell

Goat Cheese Tartlet with Thyme and Roasted Red Onion

What you'll need...

● packet of filo pastry ● 60g butter, melted ● 6 sprigs of thyme, stripped ● 1 red onion, chopped ● 200g goat cheese ● 250ml double cream ● 2 eggs ● 2 egg yolks ● salt and pepper ● 2 mini muffin tins ● 

What to do...

1. Preheat the oven to 170C

2. First roast the chopped red onion in a little olive oil and black pepper till soft.

3. Make the filo tartlets by painting one sheet of filo pastry at a time with melted butter, then cut the sheets into 5cm squares. Next sprinkle half of them with thyme, salt and pepper and place the unseasoned squares on top at an angle, and mould them into the muffin tins. Cover the tins with clingfilm to stop the pastry drying out while you make the remaining tartlets. 

4. For the filling, blend the goat cheese, double cream, eggs and seasoning. Put some roasted red onion in the base of each tartlet and spoon the goat cheese mixture on top with a sprig of thyme.

5. Bake for 10 minutes, check and return if they need to cook for longer, then serve warm. 

Recipe: Juliet Bidwell
Photos: David Merewether

Eton Mess Cake

What you'll need...

● 150g self raising flour ● 150g softened butter ● 150g caster sugar ● 1/2 tsp vanilla essence ● 2 eggs ● 1 tbsp milk ● 75ml double cream ● small punnet of strawberries ● 

For the meringue...

● 2 large egg whites ● 100g caster sugar 1/2 tsp vinegar ● 

What to do...

1. Pre-heat oven to gas 4/180C. Fill a cupcake tin with 12 cases.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together, gradually add the eggs and flour, then milk (a little at a time) until it reaches dropping consistency.

3. Divide the mixture into the 12 paper cases and bake for approximately 15 minutes. Check towards the end of this time- they should be a light golden brown.

4. While the cakes are cooling, wash, hull and roughly slice the strawberries, whip the cream and break up the meringue into pieces about the same size as the strawberries.

5. Once the cakes are cooled, scoop out the centre of each (you can use the cake 'scoops' and add them to the topping or save them to make a trifle base). Pile cream into the middle and top with meringue pieces and strawberries.

For the meringue...

1. Line a flat baking tray with baking parchment and preheat oven to gas 1/ 140C

2. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then gradually add the sugar, a little at a time. beating in between until it's incorporated and the mixture looks glossy and holds stiffly on a spoon (don't over beat)

3. Add the vinegar if using (it's supposed to help the meringue's texture). Spread the mixture thickly over the baking sheet and bake for approximately 40 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave them to dry out in the oven over night. 

Photos: David Merewether

For more recipe inspiration, pop to our website...

Friday, 10 July 2015

July's Interior Inspiration

How to create a magical space for your little ones

Add Adventure...

Adding a map, modern or vintage, will inspire your young travelers. One of these matched with an enchanting story of worldly explorers will create endless curiosity and enjoyment.

Use Vibrant Colour...

By introducing some bright colours to the bedroom, it gives it real personality, and this can easily be done on a small budget. The simple Ikea bed on the right was transformed with a lick of Annie Sloan paint, and when paired with a colourful duvet cover it will be guaranteed to bring a smile!

Create Interest...

 Whether you're trying to store toys, stack books or tidy clothes, why not make it into a feature? This book shelf doubles up as a stair case to a cabin bed, and the green wigwam makes toy tidying a simpler task. Failing this, just have some fun and create another universe entrance in the wall!

Spell It Out...

Children are rightly very proud of their names, so by making this into a focus of their bedroom, it can be showcased! Transfer it on the wall, embroider it on cushions or make letter bunting. The opportunities are endless...

Keep It Simple...

Cover a wall completely with chalkboard paint. This way, they can go totally mad, without ruining any beautiful wallpaper throughout the rest of the house! Chalks are cheap and come in loads of different colours; so a great means of self expression for toddlers and teens alike!

Photos: David Merewether
Styling: Lucy Fleming & Helen Barton

For more interiors inspiration pop to our website

Friday, 3 July 2015

Wealden Wellbeing

Bless You!

With nearly 18 million of us suffering from it in the UK alone, hay fever seems never ending for those itching and snuffling throughout summer. But what are the options for treatment? We talk to three holistic health experts to get their advice on some natural remedies...

The team at Helios Tunbridge Wells...

What is Homeopathy and how does it work?

Homeopathy is a system of medicine that uses minute doses of substances, usually from plant or mineral origin, prepared to traditional methods. The word Homeopathy comes from the Greek words and means similar suffering. This refers to the central philosophy that a substance which can produce symptoms in a healthy person can, in homeopathic dose, cure those symptoms in a sick person. For example a person suffering from typical hay fever symptoms of streaming and irritated eyes and nose might be given a remedy prepared from an onion.

Can homeopathy help with the symptoms of hay fever?

We receive many telephone calls and enquiries in the pharmacy asking for help with hay fever. There are many remedies that might help with hay fever symptoms but in order for homeopathy to be effective it is important to match the person’s symptoms as closely as possible to the remedy picture or for very severe, long standing problems have an in-depth consultation with a homeopath. 

Are there particular homeopathic remedies you would recommend for the condition?

Two of the most commonly prescribed remedies for typical symptoms of irritated eyes and nose, sneezing etc are Mixed Pollens and Grasses, which contain pollens from grasses, trees, shrubs and flowers and a combination of three remedies Euphrasia, Allium Cepa and Sabadilla.

To find out more about Helios Homeopathy visit their shop and clinic at 97 Camden Road, Tunbridge Wells, call 01892 537254 or see

Health coach and personal trainer, Sophie Pattihis

Are there foods hay fever sufferers should avoid when pollen counts are high? 

Allergic reactions, like hay fever, are not just inconvenient symptoms to be suppressed, but a valuable signal from the body that it is struggling with stress, acidity and inflammation caused by diet, lifestyle and gene expression. based on each client’s bio-individuality – the vital key to being able to ‘eat yourself out of ’ any inflammatory state. There are certain foods that commonly trigger inflammation such as processed wheat and dairy, refined sugar, animal protein and alcohol.

Are there any foods that will help alleviate symptoms? 

Yes! Salads, smoothies, juices and stir fries are the way to re-balance naturally. Raw, organic veg, fruits, nuts and seeds are rich in the anti-oxidant vitamin C and flavonoids, a group of plant pigments with natural anti-histamine properties. Examples of great options are dark green vegetables like spinach, broccoli and kale and orange and red foods such as tomatoes, beetroot and berries. Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts are also beneficial.

Do you recommend any specific supplements – vitamins and minerals – that will help? 

Rather than ‘supplements’, I have my top three bio-available foods that the body can easily recognise and use immediately. Wheatgrass powder fortifies the blood, is antiinflammatory and is the best source of living chlorophyll. Raw honey and bee pollen contain quercertin, another anti inflammatory compound that’s great for the immune system and Omega 3 fish oil is an effective antioxidant. 

See Sophie’s website for health coaching appointments, inspiration and recipes galore:

Healer and author, with a special interest in plants, Anna Parkinson

When using herbs medicinally, would you recommend taking them in tincture, tea or tablet form? 

I would recommend a tincture or a tea over tablets because I like to use herbs as fresh as possible. Making a tea with fresh herbs is so easy: pour hot water over a small handful of leaves and leave it covered to steep for 15 minutes before drinking. A tincture is made from the essence extracted in alcohol, also easy to take as drops in water. 

Are there any herbs which are of particular benefit to hay fever sufferers? 

Nettle tea, made as above, will clear the liver and it’s delicious if made from fresh leaves. Rosemary tea clears and dries nasal passages, and sage tea will do the same for throat and chest. My personal favourite for itchy eyes are eye-drops made from distilled loosestrife root, Lythrum salicaria, a 17th century recipe that is fantastic for any eye problem. A witch hazel eye bath is also good. Eyebright is commonly recommended also.

Can I grow any of these herbs in my garden?

Plants have such a varied and wonderful interaction with us that many plants will treat the same ailment, but personally I think the best ones to use are the ones you can obtain closest to home. Many of the most effective herbs, like loosestrife, grow wild in the countryside around you. Anyone can grow sage, rosemary and thyme in a pot and these will serve you all through the year, for coughs and chest infections in the winter and hay fever in the summer.

Anna is the author of ‘Nature’s Alchemist: John Parkinson, herbalist to Charles I’, and
'Change your Mind, Heal your Body’. For more about Anna see For appointments call 0781 806 1605