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water-vole-250x189

Did you wrestle with the "Beast from the East" this week? My goodness me, it was like the return of a bad-tempered woolly mammoth from the Ice Age! I did think it particularly apt that the sub-zero temperatures, biting winds and snow coincided with the homecoming of Britain's team from the Winter Olympics. It was the perfect welcome for our athletes who are used to competing in such conditions, but the rest of us were caught unawares as we were all ready to leap into spring like March hares!

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laughter-lines-250x189

We British are famous for our sense of humour whether subtle, satirical or self-deprecating. Each edition of Evergreen contains a seasonal dose of laughter with our regular "Rib-Ticklers" series that is guaranteed to get you guffawing or groaning! More comedy memories will be recalled in the forthcoming spring issue, published on 7th March (click here to order a copy), in our "Whatever Happened to...?" feature, which looks back at some of the actors who starred in the brilliant 1980s comedy series "'Allo, 'Allo".

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poetic-memories-250x189

I have a feeling that, like me, many Evergreen readers will remember reciting times tables during their early schooldays. In my era the familiar "three Rs" were also accompanied by weekly spelling tests and handwriting lessons (using proper fountain pens). Our English classes involved creative writing (poetry and prose), grammar, punctuation, exercises in comprehension, précising and discovering classic and popular poetry ranging from William Wordsworth ("I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud") to Lewis Carroll ("Jabberwocky"), and Hilaire Belloc ("Cautionary Tales for Children") to T. S. Eliot ("The Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats"). All this was at my village primary school long before the advent of the national curriculum or Ofsted inspectors!

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winter-olympics-250x189

Sporting sights will be set on the slopes and skating rinks as the Winter Olympics get underway this weekend in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Great Britain is sending 59 athletes, its largest team ever, and it is hoped that we will beat our previous best haul of four medals which we scooped in 2014. Our main hopes rest with Elise Christie (short track speed skating); James Woods and Izzy Atkin (freestyle skiing) and Dave Ryding (slalom). Lizzy Yarnold (skeleton) is defending her 2014 title and Lara Deas is also in contention in the same event. The British Men’s bobsleigh team is having a good season and both the men’s and women’s curling teams could be in line for medals.

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best-foot-forward-250x189

Where is your favourite walk? Across hills, dales, downs and moors; scaling the rocky peaks, or along one of Britain's windswept coastal footpaths, with the sound of the waves echoing in the distance while the sun glistens on the sea? I favour a coastal route, particularly the Cornish section of the South West Coast Path, because I find being beside the briny both invigorating and soothing. Here in Gloucestershire we are lucky to be surrounded by glorious countryside and, when it comes to putting your best foot forward, you have the choice between striding out across the rolling Cotswold landscape - even taking up the challenge of the 100-mile Cotswold Way - or the gentler option of a stroll through one of the many idyllic villages perhaps stopping en route at a local, welcoming hostelry (why not nominate it for inclusion in our regular feature "Raise a Glass"?) for refreshment.

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the-oscars-250x189

It can’t have escaped your notice that the cinema award season is upon us with the announcement of the Oscar nominations this week. I was delighted to see that British talent and films feature prominently, with Gary Oldman’s masterful and compelling performance as Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour” seeing him hotly tipped to bring home the Best Actor award. However, he is not the only British interest in this category, with Daniel Kaluuya nominated for “Get Out” and Daniel Day-Lewis for “Phantom Thread”. Sally Hawkins is a Best Actress nominee for “The Shape of Water”, while Lesley Manville in "Phantom Thread" receives a Best Supporting Actress nomination. Christopher Nolan’s intensely powerful drama “Dunkirk”, has received eight nominations including Best Director. Not surprisingly, both "Dunkirk" and "Darkest Hour", with its seven nominations, are among the contenders for Best Picture. We will have to wait until 4th March for the results, but I can definitely tell you that we are including a special feature about "Darkest Hour" in the summer issue of This England, published on 9th May (click here to order).

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coronation-mems-250x189

Last Sunday evening, I am sure that you, like many of us here in the Evergreen and This England office, eagerly tuned into the excellent documentary “The Coronation” on BBC1. This was the first time that we had the opportunity to hear Her Majesty The Queen speak about the solemn, historic ceremony that took place on 2nd June 1953 and marked the beginning of her life as Sovereign. In conversation with the presenter Alastair Bruce, The Queen allowed us a privileged glimpse into what has to be the most treasured aspect of the nation’s heritage: the monarchy.

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weighing-things-250x189

It always happens at this time of year. Following the conspicuous calorific consumption of Christmas, the experts are out in force, in print, online and on-air, urging us to “do the right thing”. Countless column-inches are devoted to their cause, as we are bombarded with their “effective plans” and “easy-to-follow guides”. We are encouraged with headlines convincing us that we should do such things as “Embrace a New You for the New Year”. There are those of us who, feeling weighed down by guilt and festive indulgence, heed their well-meaning advice, as we brave the scales, take an anxious glance at those tell-tale figures, and promise that we will indeed “do better”. Alternatively, we might rebelliously resist, preferring to embrace – and enjoy - life as our comfortable old selves despite the passing of another year! Yes, dear reader, the season is now upon us for healthy eating, diets, fitness and, of course, those layers of luminous Lycra.

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happy-new-year-250x189

Welcome to 2018! I hope you had a lovely Christmas and New Year. As we returned to work on Tuesday morning, we all commented on how quickly the festive break was over. It was almost a case of blink and you miss it! This weekend, of course, is the time when we have to say farewell to the festive cheer and take down the trees and decorations. As I enjoy Christmas, I always find removing the tree and decorations rather a sad process - everywhere suddenly looks so bare - yet I do love the prospect of new beginnings and fresh promise that January brings us. It is a time to look forward with hope and optimism.

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christmas-cracker-250x189

It is almost here! Are you ready yet? Have you got the turkey, the sprouts and the pudding on standby? Then again, you might be varying your Christmas menu this year and opting for beef, duck, goose, or even nut roast. One thing I am intrigued to discover is whether those of you who will be tucking into the traditional turkey feast will include a Yorkshire pudding on your plates? This seems to be increasing in popularity, although it can be a contentious issue among some folk and within families. (It even prompted much debate at our office Christmas lunch this week!) I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic; should Yorkshire pud be confined to roast beef dinners, or does it merit a prominent place alongside the Christmas turkey?

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