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Summer Holiday Plans

Parents of small and not so small children throughout Britain are currently preparing themselves for the onslaught of the Summer Holidays. Yes, it is a lovely school-free time to spend hanging out with your offspring, but with unpredictable summer weather and squeezed family budgets, it can be a somewhat testing time for many.

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Fear not! We have compiled a list of seven of the best summer holiday activities, all local, all brilliant, many recommended by friends of the Kiosk. (Other mums are such a valuable source of information when it comes to things like this.) So, grab a pencil and pen and a cup of tea, put your feet up and plan some summer holiday fun.

In at number one, it has to be the VERY recently re-oped Higgins gallery in Castle Quay's summer activities. View the full list here, but our pick of the lot would have to be the Who Stole the Ducks? event on Tuesday 30th July.

“You’re the detective: solve the clues, find the evidence, interview the witnesses and present your case to the Justice, during this fun family day on Victorian crime.” Join in Wednesdays and Fridays (11-1, 2-4pm 31st July - 28th August) sound pretty good as well – just £2 to join in and make, free play for the under 3's.

Next up: Tennis! We've gone tennis mad here at the Kiosk recently, and if you would like your kids to do the same, why not sign them up for one of Riverside Tennis Club's holiday camps?

There is a massive range of tennis courses, plus football for the under 12s. They take children from 3 years at Tennis nippers, right up to 11-18 year olds at their RAW Tennis Camp. Have a look at their information here, or contact them on doc@riversidetennis.co.uk or 01234 352726

The Bunyan Meeting church, which incidentally, is one of Bedford's most interesting historical buildings, will be running their popular holiday club from 13-15 August, 10-12.30. A mix of fancy dress, games and craft, the sessions are open to children 4 and over. For more information, call the office on 01234 213722

Kidsize activity camps are highly recommended by lots of Kiosk regulars. Based this summer at Biddenham Upper, Redbourne Upper and Cranfield University sports centre, they offer a multitude of sport and other activities, including cooking, nature, construction and performing arts. They offer an early bird session from 8-10am, and a late stay from 4-6pm, as well as the core 10-4pm session; a great thing for working parents! Have a read of their extensive programme here.

Bedford Modern School offer a amazing range of activities from athletics to debating, jewellery making to swimming. All sessions are for half days, from 9.30-12.30 or from 1.30-4.30, with early bird and late flyer sessions available. You can browse their summer 2013 brochure and use their online booking form here.

Bedfringe has put on an excellent programme for children this year, including the rather marvellous-looking 'Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus'  in the Harpur Suite from Sunday 28th-Tuesday 30th July. You can look at the Childrens' Theatre programme here, but don't forget to check out the rest of the Bedfringe events, there are a great range of free events as well as the ticketed ones.

We can't resist a plug for our own theatre event of the summer: The Playhouse at the Park event in Russell Park on August the 5th WHEN the Oxford  Playhouse will be bringing a pop-up theatre to the park - and it looks like it will be BRILLIANT.

Remember, if all else fails (as sometimes it does,) just come along to the Kiosk. We will be here in all summery types of weather, from welly to flip-flop. We have Duplo and colouring, coffee and sanity. There are always plenty of children and similarly vexed parents to sympathise with. We do offer lunchboxes as well now, so if you have run out of picnic food, you can give them lunch at the Kiosk. As well as the playground, we have tennis, mini golf and table tennis to offer. Storytime sessions continue throughout the summer, where we'll be welcoming a team of Superstar Storytellers for stories, songs, milk and biscuits on Monday mornings. Keep checking the blog and facebook page for updates and more information.

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Bedford Girls join the Race For Life

The Race for Life is speeding through Bedford on Sunday - and this year, the pink-tastic charity race has got, well, a bit arsey. Race for Life 1

That's the official slogan of the race, which sums it all up perfectly. Women all over the country are being encouraged to 'gang up' on cancer and come out and walk or run in support of friends, family and loved ones who have had, or are currently fighting cancer. Race for Life is a really important fundraiser for research into the treatment for all kind of Cancers. It is the UK's only female-only fundraising event, and since it began in 1994, an incredible six million participants have helped to raise over £493 million - all of which has gone towards funding research into cancer treatment which will save lives.

A group of enthusiastic Kiosk customers (we must refrain from ever calling them Kustomers) and friends are running a very special Race for Life this year. We are celebrating the great and very lovely Hattie, who successfully and with great dignity fought cancer last year.  We are also supporting another dear friend, Rachael, who  is currently kicking all kinds of hell out of her Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Rachael was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease earlier this year, and this is her story.

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Despite having to contend with the realities of living with cancer alongside being a mum to Jack and Libby and proud co-owner of two incredibly enthusiastic rescue dogs, Rachael is not one to take her diagnosis lying down.  Instead, she has launched herself into several fundraising projects for the Lymphoma Society,  is learning how to make superfood snacks a way of life, and has been modelling a very stylish Picc line (the line through which the chemotherapy drugs are delivered) cover made specially for her by a friend. Although she is on an intensive form of chemotherapy (escalated BEACOPP), Rachael has made the choice to face her diagnosis head-on, and has risen to the challenge with an astonishingly positive attitude and an enviable sense of humour.

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Rachael has been joined in her fundraising efforts by her rather wonderful sister Rebecca - who, when learning that Rachael's treatment would mean the loss of her lovely long brown hair, decided that she would shave her own (also gorgeous and long) hair off in an act of sisterly solidarity. You can see the beautiful photos and story of the Bald Chick Challenge here:

http://www.davegreaves.co.uk/bald-chick-challenge-lymphoma/

Both Rachael and Rebecca donated their hair to the Little Princess Trust, which makes real-hair wigs for children who have lost their hair due to cancer treatment. The huge amount of money raised from the bald chick challenge has gone to the Lymphoma Society.

So, this Sunday, Hattie, Rachael and friends - including Kiosk at the Park photo supremo Gemma Kirkham, who is 36 weeks pregnant no less, will be running/walking/waddling in the Race for Life wearing pink tutus, massive smiles and some very special T-shirts, the logo on which has been created by Australian designer Danielle Tiedeman whose sister also successfully fought Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  Look out for them - they'll be easy to spot!

The profits from the T-shirts that have been sold are also going to The Lymphoma Society.

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The word 'inspirational' is used so much these days, to the extent that it almost seems like an understatement to use it here. But Rachael, and Hattie, and the courage, humour and determination with which they have faced this horrid disease head-on and fought it, are truly inspirational. There are many other stories like theirs, of young people who continue to live their lives around their treatment, who refuse to let cancer take over.  In fact, nearly everybody has a cancer story. If it isn't a story about you, perhaps you have a sister, a brother; a mum or a dad or a friend who has battled with cancer. Or perhaps you are one of the millions of angry people who don't want to live in fear of one day having your own cancer story, and want to fight back now.

Rachael, Hattie and the 'Fighting for Friends' team of Bedford girls running the Race for Life this weekend are hoping to raise £1,500.  We think they deserve far more than that. If you are able to sponsor them, have a look at their page here. It doesn't need to be much, just the cost of a cup of coffee (or two) will make a difference.

All the money that the participants in the Race for Life raise will go towards trying to write happy endings for stories like Rachael's.  Please spare whatever you can  and sponsor Bedford's very own ridiculously-clad pink tutu-ed ladies as they run, walk and waddle the 5K  course around Bedford's beautiful Embankment in solidarity with all those thousands of cancer victims who need happy endings to their stories, never forgetting those whose endings weren't happy.

Piccolo's Music Club at The Kiosk

On Monday, at 9.30, the Kiosk at The Park is delighted to welcome one of our favourite Superstar Storytellers back to Storytime: Mark, from Piccolo's Music Club. Inspired by his enthusiasm and great songs, we tracked him down and had a chat with him about his music club, his favourite floor-fillers and being a stay at home dad who fits his work around his children: Image

Mark started his Piccolos Music Club two years ago, but says that it is something he has always wanted to do. After deciding to take on a stay-at-home Dad role, he needed something that would fit around looking after his daughter. Having been along to other music groups for children, he decided that there was room for a group that was more interactive, and was all about getting the children to participate, rather than just be sung to. He started holding informal music groups at his house, inviting friends with children to join him and his daughter. When his daughter was old enough to go to preschool, he would bring his guitar in and hold sessions there.

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These days there are weekly groups at The Harrold Centre, and fortnightly groups at Buskers in Bletchley. (For more info, have a look at his Facebook Page.) The very exciting news for Bedford people is that in September he will be starting a new group at The Place Theatre in Bradgate Road! The sessions are pay-as-you-go, so you can turn up and see if it is the kind of thing you're looking for without having to pay for a whole term of classes. And we have a feeling that this group might be pretty popular with the under 5's of Bedford...

Each month at Piccolos has a theme: Africa for example, or Hip Hop, or The Beatles. The sessions are a mix of songs and dancing games that everyone knows and some that are written by Mark (a CD is available to buy of his songs, so you can learn them off by heart and sing along in the car/bath/at dinner parties, etc.) Introducing children to things like rapping nursery rhymes, hip-hop dancing and Indian dance make this a music class with a difference. The Goodbye Song which Mark sings at the end is made up from anecdotes the parents write about each child during the session and includes a personal goodbye to each attendee, with an additional bit of information such as 'will be having fish fingers for tea', or 'is wearing her favourite fairy dress'. During the sessions, kids get the chance to win 'piccolo points' for good joining in, enthusiastic dancing and suchlike. At the end of the session points can be exchanged for biscuits. (You can imagine the excitement.)

Mark reckons his favourite Toddler Floor filler is his self-penned punk-classic 'No peas, no pudding' - an intereactive song about the age-old battle of wills over vegetables and the reward of a good pudding where he gets the kids to shout the names of their favourite puddings out, to be included in the song. He also has a song called Peas and Green Lentils, and says that he hopes eventually to have enough pea-themed songs to create an L-Pea...

Mark also does his Piccolo sessions as musical entertainment for childrens' parties, which might be worth bearing in mind if a room full of excited three year olds waiting to be entertained is not really your cup of tea; we bet it would be a popular choice!

If you want a flavour (it's pea, obviously,) of Piccolo's Music Club, have a look at some of the videos on facebook, there are lots of great ones but this Robot one is our favourite.

So please come down and support Mark at Storytime on Monday at 9.30. As ever, there is milk and biscuits for the little ones, and of course tea, coffee, cold drinks and cake are available for the grown ups. We can't wait for some Piccolo themed Marvellous Monday Musical Mayhem at the Kiosk!

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Anyone for Tennis ?

If, like us, you failed to qualify for the French Open, and will instead be watching the final on TV on Sunday - perhaps you could do with a spot of expert tennis coaching. There has never been a better time to dust off your sweatbands and steam clean your tennis whites; for tennis-mania has come to Bedford. Tennis ball stuck in fence

Excitingly, the Kiosk has teamed up with Riverside Tennis Club to help you get the most out of the tennis courts at Russell Park. We've got a new and exciting programme of events to get everyone involved, whatever your tennis playing skills are like.

On Monday, a new fitness class called Cardio Tennis  hit Russell Park, with Claire Norman leading a fast-paced tennis based workout to motivating music. No tennis skills required for this one - but you'll probably pick some up along the way. Cardio Tennis is on from 9.15 to 10.15 on Mondays until 15th July. You can see some of the first session here:

 [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYbOVPdFwDE]

Wednesdays from 10.00-11.30 is Tennis Morning - come down for expert coaching from Rob Stean, with some match-play time to put those tips into practice.

And on Sundays from 11.30-1pm we've got Tennis X-Press, with group coaching available from Claire Norman. A great way to improve your game AND meet new players.

You can pay per session, but all block bookings of sessions include a free drink afterwards every week at the Kiosk - so you can have a post-match-natter/debate/full-blown-argument about the finer points of the game over a nice drink. Although anyone who continuously shouts 'you CANNOT be serious!' in a terrible American accent will be removed from the premises.

To book any of these sessions, or for any more information, email Neil Frankel on doc@riversidetennis.co.uk

And as a final point, we should draw your attention to the new website tennisinbedford.com, for all your Bedford Tennis needs. It really couldn't be easier to get into tennis this summer!

Kiosk Tennis

Oh, and just for a bit of inspiration, we'll be showing the French Open final at the Kiosk on Sunday - come down to watch it if you want to create a bit of a Parisian atmosphere, although we do draw the line at strings of onions round necks...

Birthday Party in the Park

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So: this weekend marks our very first birthday! What a year it has been. Weather-wise, we've had it all; from torrential rain to snowman-quality snow, from baking sunshine to frosty sleet. And through it all we have served coffee cake and sandwiches to you - our wonderfully loyal and enthusiastic customers;  whether you've sheltered under blankets with hot water bottles or you've come seeking some shade and a cool drink. You've come for stories and songs, a chat and a catch up, a lazy afternoon tea and a morning coffee. You've made the Kiosk into the heart of Russell Park.

Thank you.

Here are just a few of our highlights of a brilliant first year:

And so it begins...

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Red Nose Day Fun

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Peppa Pig and Friends

We would love to see you all for a mini birthday party in the park on Sunday to celebrate a fantastic year! Birthday cake to be served between 5 and 6pm.  And after a year of this Kiosk lark, we have learned one or two things about good cake...

Super Sweet Blogger Award

As you may or may not have noticed, with the notable exception of the Kite Festival Weekend (more to come on that, but generally, wasn't it FAB? It was like being in Spain or something, only with more kites!) the month of May has been something of a cold washout so far. So we were particularly pleased to receive some very heart-warmingly nice news last weekend - that we have been nominated for an award! The fabulous MonsterYarns blog has nominated us for the Super Sweet Blogging Award! Happy times at The Kiosk! Hands up who has ever mentally prepared for an Oscar-style award acceptance speech, complete with fantasy award ceremony dress ideas? Well, it turns out that all that is still on hold, but in the meantime, as per the rules of the award, we must answer some tricky questions. Cookies or Cake? At the risk of offending any of our brilliant suppliers, we are going to vote for CAKE. Sturdy, get-you-through-the-afternoon Victoria Sponge-type of cake.

Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate. Vanilla has its place, of course, but there is something a bit magical about chocolate.

What is your favourite sweet-treat? It's very hard to beat a Malteser Square. Literally, as well as figuratively. Those things are CONDENSED in a very good way.

When do you crave sweet things the most? Mostly during that pesky 2pm-ish, after-lunch energy dip. Or, scoff-o-clock, as we like to think of it as.

If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be? Er, tricky one. After a bit of deliberation, we're plumping for Bonbon, mostly because we like the way that "the name arose from infantile repetition of the word bon, meaning 'good'. In modern French and several other European languages, the term simply refers to any type of candy or small confection." Thank you wikipedia. The Kiosk:  so good, we say it twice, just to emphasise the point.

Sweet Treats

And now in accordance with the rules, we must nominate 13 other blogs (a baker's dozen, no less!) or at least as many as we can who we think are worthy of a bit of a sweet-treat! Whether or not an actual award does exist for all this sweet blogger malarkey or not is debatable. But it is nevertheless a great opportunity to recommend some of the inspirational, pretty, and downright USEFUL blogs we read and love.

Kitchen Table Sewing, first off, for her endless dedication to the world of good cake and excellent sewing. A must read for anyone attempting any sort of stitching.

StayingAwake for services to coffee-snobbery and all things beautifully-designed.

Great Smitten for beautiful photography and writing

Bedford Network : the best place to get the lowdown on the best places to eat/shop/hangout in Bedford.

Want to know about tea and/or baking? Try reading Steffanie Pomfrett's blog. She knows her special teas...

Brian's Coffee Spot: Brian knows A LOT about coffee.

For fantasy baking, with an American twang, try Just Baked by Me. Foolproof cake recipes . What's not to love?

For the BEST bread recipes we have ever drooled over: The Little Loaf. (Number 22 in the Foodies100 list!)

For gluten/soy/dairy free recipe inspiration, have a nosy at this blog: food that feels good. That's not 13, admittedly. But it is a good place to start if you are looking for something tasty to read. All worthy award nominees! Now, when is this award ceremony then? We've got some party shoes to dust down....

Bedford Annual Kite Festival

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jx9dIUFNq8 We found this lovely video of the annual Kite Festival in Russell Park on Youtube, by the very talented Lez Marwick (we always approve of the ad-hoc use of a 'z' in names.)

We were tickled by his description of the event;

"This is an annual event held in Russell Park. The venue is far from ideal for kite flyers, as it is surrounded by trees, but it is in an excellent location for spectators... It was a very dull day, with a constant threat of rain, but at least we had some wind."

2012 was not kind to the Kite Festival. There may have been cases of Trench Foot. Let's hope this year is a bit more kite flier and spectator-friendly.

See you in Russell Park for more kite-excitement, at the 2013 Kite Festival this weekend! Remember you can always refuel and refresh at The Kiosk...

Let's go fly a kite...

Pinterest: Get on board !

If you've got a creative project on the go and want somewhere to brainstorm and collect all of your ideas, look no further than  online scrapbook Pinterest.  If you've never used it, or are not sure how on earth you would use online scrapbooking; don't worry - pinning-help is at hand. We're very lucky to have a guest blog today from local journalist Sally Brown, who explains how to get the best out of Pinterest. Bunting

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Get on board for happiness!

Back in the day, making a moodboard meant two or three hours grappling with a pile of magazines and a Pritt stick. Not any more – now you can throw together a mood board in an instant, thanks to virtual pinboard sites like Pinterest. But there’s more to online moodboarding than collecting pretty pictures. Use it right, and it will motivate and inspire you to achieve your goals.

Creating a virtual board is a great way of ‘pinning down’ fleeting thoughts, dreams and ideas that would otherwise get lost in day-to-day life. ‘A mood or visionboard creates a bridge from daydreams to reality,’ says lifecoach Dr Nicola Bunting. ‘Being able to look at something and say, ‘That’s what I want’ takes you a giant step nearer to achieving it.’

Images are processed by a different part of the brain than words, one that taps directly into our emotional state, says social media psychologist Dr Pamela Rutledge from Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP). ‘We get information faster through images and we understand it in a more intuitive way - it bypasses thinking and taps straight at emotions. That’s what makes visualisation so powerful – it creates change at a subconscious level.’

And because you choose images with the feeling part of your brain rather than the thinking side, they reflect the authentic you – so it’s a great way to get in touch with your deepest values and passions. ‘It’s hard to be dishonest on Pinterest if you trust your gut instinct and pin what immediately appeals to you. It’s a great way of exploring your passions,’ says Pamela.

Choosing and collecting images that represent your future goals and aspirations is like setting a ‘filter’ on your brain’s search engine - your brain naturally starts to home in on relevant information and opportunities that take you closer to your goal but that may otherwise have passed by unnoticed.

The Kiosk’s Emma Garrett used Pinterest to fuel her creative thinking when she was setting up the project: ‘In the three years it took to negotiate with the local council to get the go-ahead, I was feeding my imagination and enthusiasm by creating Pinterest boards full of images of any great cafe I came dream real and achievable.’

Feel inspired to try? Simply sign up at Pinterest.com and create a user name. Then click on and name a board you’d like to work on. You build boards either by re-pinning images from other people’s boards (put a topic into the search button), pinning images you like from web pages (by installing a ‘Pin It’ button your bookmarks bar – Google ‘Pinterest button for Chrome’ to find a good selection), or pinning images directly from your phone.

A longer version of this article appears in the June issue of Zest magazine. By Kiosk regular and journalist Sally Brown.

Kiosk at The Park have our own boards on the website which you can look at here

Spring Fling at the Park

Two great British traditions will come together on Saturday in Russell Park - the marvelous concept of the picnic, and also LAUGHING IN THE FACE OF THE BRITISH SUMMER. We like both. Picnicking, for obvious reasons - delicious food, eating outdoors, on a nice rug, (or just one that has been rolling around in the back of the car for an unspecified number of years, it really doesn't matter-)  perhaps a pork pie or two- a picnic is a really lovely, outdoorsy, social way to eat.

Picnics - the dream

And, laughing in the face of the British so-called-Summer. Well, it is practically a national obsession, and you can usually turn it into a nice game to help pass the time as you shelter from the latest downpour.

"Who can remember a worse Spring?"

"Ah, the May of 1985 was terrible - definitely colder."

"But do you remember the awful drought of May 1991? At least we're not on a hosepipe ban and queuing for water..."

etc.

Umbrella-tastic - stylish British picnics

We'll be celebrating BOTH of these things this Saturday, (May 18th) with a little help from our friends. The Spring Fling Picnic is all about heading down to Russell Park with a picnic, a blanket or two and some friends/children/accomplices  to be part of a great big community knees-up in the park.  The Kiosk serves hot drinks, remember, and has blankets and hot water bottles available if the weather does its worst.  And if the sun comes out, we can all enjoy the actual Springtime. It's on from 11am at The Kiosk - and excitingly, we have room for buskers! If you, or someone you know wants to book a slot - get in touch!

We're organizing the event in association with The Scone Roses and Kris, from The Frogs Chorus. So there will be singing, storytime, busking and loads of other activities all around the Kiosk - and you can top up your picnic supplies from the Kiosk  - have you seen our beautiful new kids' lunch bags?

A ladybird lunch

Come on - let's show the weather that it takes more than a bit of drizzle to defeat Bedford's finest picnic-ers. See you there!

Walk to Work Week (and the offer of free flapjack!)

This week, May 13th-17th is National Walk to Work Week! What a great thing. Walking to work is good for you in MANY ways. Not only are you getting some exercise, it is good for the environment, free, and a nice chunk of time to listen to music, or make long lists of stuff to do, construct Grand Plans or just have a good old daydream. All of which are very important. And just think of all the vitamin D you are absorbing on the way. In a way, walking to work is the ultimate way to multi-task.

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And one other bonus - all this week, you can claim a free flapjack with any hot drink  if you are walking to work past the Kiosk! Just come and see us. Our flapjacks are full of oaty goodness to power you on your way to work. Just what you need!

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Racing on the River

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It is not every town that boasts an embankment and river quite as stunning as the one here in Bedford. It's so easy to take the river for granted if you live nearby; rushing past it on your way to school and work all the time. But this weekend is one of the weekends when the river really comes into its own. This Saturday (11th May) Bedford will host the largest one-day regatta in the country; a regatta with a long and wonderful history. The Bedford Regatta celebrates its 149th birthday this year, with a race every two minutes between 8.15am and 7.30pm, and over 1,500 competitors from all over the country.

The 1200m course begins at County bridge, and crews race under the town bridge down to the finish line just by the Suspension Bridge; making it an excellent regatta to come and watch, and you can admire the wonderful display of tulips in the flowerbeds along the embankment at the same time!

If you'd like a closer look at some of the trophies on offer, you can walk along to the enclosure, just near the Suspension Bridge. For the price of a race programme (£1.50) you can come and wander around the enclosure, where there will also be a barbecue and fully licensed bar to enjoy! It's also a great chance to meet and chat to some of the competitors and get to know a bit more about the sport of rowing, and how you can get involved.

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Rowing used to be seen as a bit of an elitist sport - strictly the territory of public schools and Oxbridge. And whilst these institutions have a vibrant rowing history, the future of rowing is far more open to all. Bedford sports not one, but two rowing clubs, who come together to organize the regatta along with the Harpur Trust. Both Bedford Rowing Club and Star Rowing Club are open to any new members, from total beginners to seasoned professionals wanting to get back on the water. They also work with local state schools to get more children into the sport. Interested? Why not come along on Saturday to get a glimpse of what you could achieve with a little hard work, dedication and a LOT of flapjack!

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Bedford has a proud history of rowing alumni, including Tim Foster, Olympic gold medalist who trained at Bedford Modern and Star Club. You could be watching the next generation of Olympic rowers whilst sitting serenely on the embankment sipping your Kiosk Ethical Addictions coffee and munching on one of Barbara's flapjacks (endorsed by many a hungry rower.)

We picked the brains of David Dixon, President of Star Club for the crews to watch this year. He recommended trying to catch the Elite 8s race between Christ Church college Oxford and Kingston Rowing Club at 2.38pm. The Christ Church boat should contain 4 members of this years' victorious Oxford boat race crew - which basically makes it a rowing-celebrity boat. It should be a great race, and the final of the Elite mens' 8 category is the last race of the day, at 7.30pm. There's plenty of local interest too, as Bedford Rowing Club, Star Club, Bedford Modern, Bedford School and Bedford Girls School all have crews taking part, and there should be some good clashes to test local loyalties. Race commentary will be provided throughout the day, keeping you up to date with exactly who it is flying down the River Ouse.

Bedford Regatta 1851 c) Cecil Higgins Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

This painting is of a regatta on Bedford river in 1851, just a few years before the first official Bedford Regatta began. Maybe it will be hanging in the newly renovated Higgins? (opening June 21st - also very exciting!)

Playhouse at The Park

So we mentioned here that Alex Levene would be delivering some VERY exciting news about an event coming up in the Summer at The Kiosk....well, if you missed him at Storytime, I hope you are sitting comfortably now for some rather marvelous news. Kiosk at the Park is delighted to announce that The Oxford Playhouse will be visiting Russell Park on the 5th August with their Pop-Up Theatre, a travelling tent described as a theatrical discovery space - exciting for everyone!

Inside, the tent will be a haven of creativity - stuffed with activities for families, young children as well as older children and adults.

For the under-sixes there will be performances of Teatime, a wonderfully silly celebration of mealtimes in stories, song, music and dance; all inspired by games played around the kitchen table.

There will also be workshops, games, craft and other activities for families to join in with.

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For older children and adults, there will be a cryptic treasure hunt to puzzle over, as well as audio plays, poetry and many digital experiences.

And if the excitement of all that gets too much, you can kick back for a bit in the chill-out area with books to curl up with and read, and cosy armchairs to relax in. Reviving drinks and snacks will be on hand at the Kiosk.

If you'd like to find out more, you can see their blog describing their 2012 Pop Up Theatre tour here.

Now, how brilliant does that sound? Pretty darn brilliant is what we think. Pop the 5th August  down in your diary/phone/Summer Plans List, right now.

You have our solemn permission to do a celebratory dance of excitement now.

 

Storytime at The Kiosk

The latest in our line-up of SuperStar Storytellers at The Kiosk will be none other than Alex Levene, director of The Place Theatre. Alex has read at Storytime before, so is a seasoned professional. Do not be alarmed by his beard. Or his paper hat. Or, his expression in this photo. He is an actor, OK? Image

Storytime will be at The Kiosk at 9.30am, bank holiday Monday - 6th May. The weather forecast is great for once*- so kick off your Bank Holiday with a brilliant story session and a early energy burst for the kids in the park. Coffee, tea, cakes and cookies will be on hand, as well as milk and biscuits for the children. Dogs, bikes, scooters, mums, dads, brothers, sisters and grandparents all very welcome.

Alex will not only be reading a story, but also announcing some VERY special news about a brand new and very exciting project coming to The Kiosk this summer. Be the first to know the news. We are, quite frankly, GIDDY with excitement...

*That's our final word on the matter in case we accidentally jinx the good weather.

Photos at the Park

The area around Russell Park is a bit of a hotspot for local photographers and creative people. As well as Gemma Kirkham, who has taken so many of the great photographs you can see on our facebook page and on the blog, local photographer Graham Watson of We Can Creative often takes amazing photos on his way through the park in the early morning as he is on his way to the gym. Have a look at some of these magnificent shots: including very rare views of the empty playground!

Sunrise over the big swing

Anyone coming out to play?

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A snowy mini-golf course

Now that (hopefully) the snow is just a sparkling but distant memory, and Spring has finally sprung, it's a great time to come and enjoy spending some time outside. It's good for vitamin D levels,  as well as being great exercise and, as Kelly the natruopath said in her guest blog last week, it's highly recommended for your sense of happiness and wellbeing. Just yesterday the Kiosk welcomed loads of children enjoying a musical morning outdoors, thanks to Mark from Piccolo Music Club. He hopes to come back in a few weeks for some more musical fun. Keep an eye on the blog and our facebook page for dates.

Music st The Kiosk

Piccolos Music Club

In the meantime, why not come and take some photos of your own of  Russell Park and post them to our facebook page? We'd love to show off the work of all happy snappers! And there is the small issue of that empty playground that needs filling up...

The Anne Frank Tree

There are many lovely trees in Russell Park, some for climbing on, some for playing hide and seek behind; many for picnicking under. And then there is one, other tree. At the far end of the park there is a small horse chestnut tree, with a plaque next to it. This is the Anne Frank Tree. The plaque on the Anne Frank Tree

It was planted almost 15 years ago, on the 15th of May 2000, by the then mayor Carole Maxwell Elllis. It is, as the plaque says, a memorial to all children who died in war and conflict during the 2oth century.

In her diary, Anne mentions the horse chestnut tree that she can see from her attic window several times.  On the 23rd Febuary 1944, six months before her secret hideout was discovered:

"From my favourite spot on the floor, I look up and see the blue sky and bare chestnut tree on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind. When I looked outside and into the depth of nature and God, I was happy, really happy."

The Tree Anne could see from her window

The horse chestnut in Russell Park is a small reminder of all of the children who were unlucky enough to be caught up in the conflicts of the 2oth Century. It also provides a place to gather and reflect on Holocaust Remembrance Day, held once a year on the 27th January.

A place to reflect

It really is a remarkable tree.

Guest Blog: Kelly the Naturopath

We're very excited about this guest blog from one of out lovely local customers, Kelly. Kelly is a naturopath practicing in Bedford. Here's her story of how she has worked hard to pursue her dream job; with a few handy tips for healthy living too! I grew up in Bedford but moved to London when I was 19 to pursue a career in media. After making copious cups of tea and running so many errands that I knew the West End as well as any black cabbie, I bagged my first job as Beauty Assistant on the coming-of-age teen title Sugar Magazine, and within a few years I’d worked my way up to be the youngest Beauty & Wellbeing Editor on the block. I had a contacts book stuffed with the numbers of London’s top hairstylists, facialists, make-up artists and wellness experts, a bathroom over-flowing with more products than your average branch of Boots and my new-found passion for natural health and beauty started to grow.

Teen Magazine Sugar

A school-girl pact that my best friend wouldn’t let me forget saw me swap lipstick launches for LonelyPlanet itineraries and sealed the fate of my Ford Fiesta as it was exchanged for a round-the-world ticket from STA Travel. The sights, the sounds and oh the smells of  the wider world were more mind-blowing than I could have ever possibly imagined but what really resonated with me were the tastes. Mmmmm how we ate, and more often than not it was locally grown or reared, seasonal and fresh. I also couldn’t help notice that this simpler, stress-free, outdoors way of life was itself food for the soul.

As flight BA10 from Bangkok returned us home with a bump, new-found dreams of returning to Australia to study naturopathy were put on the back-burner as I started work as a PR Director for an agency specialising in natural wellbeing. In March 2004 my Dad died suddenly and with life’s fragility thrust in my face I enrolled at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London to start a five-year course studying Naturopathy and Nutritional Therapy. At the same time I signed up for a diploma in Reflexology at The London School of Reflexology.

Refelexology

Working full-time, getting married and having two children made studying far from easy but I was fascinated by all that I was learning and I graduated two weeks after my second son was born. We’d made the decision to leave London when I fell pregnant the second time,  and with a pros and cons list Kirsty herself would be proud of, we embarked on the relocation challenge and after a long search, headed back to Bedford!

Once we’d been back here almost a year, and the re-plastering dust had finally settled  and wiped away, I felt ready to start thinking about how I was going to turn five years of hard study and into a new career. I decided on calling my business 'Kelly the Naturopath' because I thought it had a friendly, local feel to it and because a Naturopath is a health practitioner who applies a number of natural therapies, which encompasses what I do. My specialist area  is Nutritional Therapy, which means  using food to optimise wellbeing, but I also look at my client’s lifestyles, sleep patterns and emotional wellbeing. In addition to dietary and lifestyle changes I might recommend nutritional supplements, tissue salts, flower essences, herbs or a touch therapy like reflexology.

Everyone has their own reason for seeing a Naturopath, for some it may be to get support if they’re trying to conceive, for other’s if they’re suffering from an illness. Some people want help with weight management whilst others simply want to learn how they might maximise their long-term wellness or reduce the feelings of anxiety and stress. For each client I put together a personalised treatment plan to meet their individual needs and then support them whilst they achieve their health goals.

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I’ve now been practising for a year and work most Thursday’s and the first Sunday of the month with the lovely Lord sisters at Lords & Ladies on St Cuthbert’s Street. Skype and at-home consultations and treatments are both available upon request based on the needs and circumstances of individuals. Any Mum will know juggling work and kids is never simple but I feel very privileged that I’m able to work around my family doing a job that I am passionate about and find hugely rewarding.

Kelly's Local Health and Wellbeing Tips

* Go for a walk outside – sunlight increases serotonin production to create more positive moods and helps to trigger vitamin D synthesis in the skin which is needed for calcium metabolism and neuromuscular and immune system functioning. Just choose a green space and go!

Wellbeing

* Eat a Mediterranean Diet – rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, olive oil and wholegrains, using herbs and spices instead of salt and limiting red meat to a few times a month whilst enjoying fresh fish a couple of times a week, with the odd glass of red wine if you choose; the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet are well documented. The secret ingredient… eat leisurely with friends and family. Try local delicatessens Foods of Italy and Andaluz.

* Eat cake if you want to – just maybe not every day, and make sure it’s freshly baked and therefore not bulked out with preservatives. Depriving yourself of a little bit of what you fancy isn't good for the mind or soul (see below). Personally I can’t get enough of The Kiosk’s Super-Seedy-Flapjack.

Flapjack at the Kiosk- as recommended by Kelly!

* Be happy - being healthy is more than just eating the right food. In studies looking at people who live the longest there is a common trait, happiness. Think about what would help you have a more fulfilled life and do it.

If you'd like to get in touch with Kelly (and she comes highly recommended, one other Kiosk customer described her as having magic hands!) - you can visit her website, or email her: info@kellythenaturopath.com

The Roundabout Garden

Not very far at all from Russell Park, there is a sort of secret garden. It is not ever so secret, because if you are local, you probably walk past it, or through it very regularly. It is easy to  forget it is there. But it is worth remembering  because as well as being a very pretty garden,and a small oasis of green set in the middle of a busy road junction; it is a very useful garden. It is a community herb garden.

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Two of the large flower beds on the roundabout which links Castle Road and Rothsay Road are set aside as a herb garden; organised and cared for by volunteers from the Zero Carbon Castle group. Under the leadership of local residents Lucy Bywater, and Anne Doody,  Zero Carbon Castle hold regular working parties to help maintain the garden, and the herbs are available for anyone local to pick and use.  The next working party, incidentally, is this Saturday: the 20th April, at 10 am. New volunteers are very welcome to come along! Tools are provided, just bring your own elbow grease...

Lots of herbs grow in the garden, including thyme, mint, rosemary, sage, lavendar and oregano. Anne explained that there is a mix of common herbs, along with some more unusual traditional varieties, such as dyers greenweed: which does exactly what it says it will, and has traditionally been used to dye cloth and wool yellow. Elecampne can be found here too, which is a herb that has been around since Roman times and used to be commonly used as both a medicine and a condiment.

The garden is also home to a selection of mint plants - they even have a chocolate mint (you really can  smell the chocolate on it - it's amazing!) Anne and her husband Graham, who were tending the garden when I visited listed some of the other varieties of mint that they are hoping to cultivate, including orange & lemon mint, and ginger mint. The chocolate mint is just starting to grow now, so in a few weeks, as the garden springs to life, you should be able to go and pick some - it's a great way to flavour your ice cream!

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The Garden won an award in 2012 -  for being the region's best drought/water tolerant garden. Despite the fact that 2012 was the year of rain, rain, and a LOT more rain, (as we at the Kiosk remember all too well... ) the two previous years had been incredibly dry. The herb garden proved very resilient to the dry weather, as the majority of the herbs here are from the Mediterranean, and used to the dry climate. They have also been the runner up twice in the Regional Community Garden awards.

If, like us, you'd like to know more about the herb garden - they are holding an open day on 18th May, from 10.30 until 3pm, with Jane Perrone, Gardening editor of The Guardian - as well as The Bedford Clanger-  organising a foraging walk. around the garden. Plants will be for sale on the day; Anne says that she is currently cultivating around 200 on her patio in preparation for the day. There will also be a bee keeper coming along, and representitatives from the Wildlife Trust offering advice on how to make your garden attractive to wildlife. The garden itself is home to several hedgehogs, and the volunteers leave bowls of water out for them, sunk into the flowerbeds. A local childrens' book club will be at the open day too, talking about their favourite wildlife stories. It sounds like a great day to come along and enjoy the garden, as well as taking the opportunity to learn about the work the volunteers do, and what herbs are on offer in the garden.  The herb garden is designed to be a community garden - so everybody  is welcome to come along and enjoy it!

hedgehog

The herb garden receives no funding, and is entirely run by volunteers. All proceeds from the plant sale at the open day will be used to buy more plants, and to maintain the garden.

Herb of the month at the moment in the garden is chives. Chives are a wonderfully versatile ingredient,  and the information board at the herb garden gives you some great ideas for what you can do with them, including mixing them with soft cheese and chopping them into salads.  Here are a few other ideas of using chives to spice up some other everyday favourites:

chives-2 Chives-3Chives1chives7 Chives 6 chives 4

And on the subject of chives, savoury muffins are the next Big Thing due to rock up at The Kiosk. Have you got a favourite savoury muffin recipe? Do you fancy a bit of a Masterchef-style competition, with the winning recipe made up and served up at The Kiosk? If so, get in touch! We'd love to hear from you...more details to follow.

If you'd like to find out more about the Zero Carbon Castle and the community herb garden, you can contact them via facebook, where they are called Abundance Bedford, or email Lucy at lucybywater@yahoo.co.uk

Mini Golf at the Kiosk

ImageRussell Park is full of interesting things to do: adventure playground, climbing trees, space for rugby, football, hide and seek, scooting, bike-riding, dog walking, tennis, table tennis and MINI GOLF. Also known as 'pitch and putt', there are different ways to describe it - but basically a mini 18-hole course, right here in the park!

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If you're looking for something to keep yourself or your offspring busy for an hour or so - why not try your luck on the course, just behind the kiosk!  All the equipment is available to hire from the Kiosk. It's cheap, fun, and outdoors - just think of all the vitamin D* you'll be soaking up whilst aiming for that hole in one! Or two, or three. Or, let's face it, these things take time to perfect.

Three (or 4, if you count a comedy shopping opportunity) reasons to play mini Golf in Russell Park:

Reason 1: We found this great review of the course on this blog here - written by Richard Gottfried, who is a British Minigolf Association (BMGA) Tour Pro, Great Britain International Minigolfer & a member of the 2008 BMGA British Club Champions – the Midlands Minigolf Club. So he knows his stuff. He says 'the course is in excellent condition with good equipment and scorecards. Last time out I scored a 48(+12), with a hole-in-one on the 15th hole and this time I scored a slightly better 46(+10) and an Ace on the 14th hole.'

So there's a score to beat!

Reason 2: The Mayor does it. As does 3 Counties Radio DJ Nick Coffer. It's basically a celebrity sport.

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Reason 3: You could introduce it as a lunchtime activity for your office or a group of colleagues. Think of the benefits of getting fresh air, some time out of the office AND the chance to fit in some always-welcome  team-building and socializing time. Oh, and the Kiosk just happens to be a great place for lunch...Here are the guys from Woods Hardwick at the Kiosk for a bit of lunchtime mini-golf. We'd love to see some more local firms following suit - we're planning to start a lunchtime league, just to give you that competitive edge to your lunchtime putting.  Give us a call on 01234 271877 to find out more.

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Reason 4: If you get good enough, you could buy yourself this t-shirt:

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*the Kiosk can guarantee you nice cakes and tea afterwards, but not sunshine. It's just not in our remit, OK?

 

Kiosk at the Park's Guide to enjoying a Cheep Easter!

The thought of two weeks of arctic condition Easter holidays is enough to strike fear into any parent - but if you are feeling like this - perhaps we can help. We've picked the brains of some of our customers who are also the proud owners of school-age children for their top tips for holiday entertainment on a budget. 1. Wrap up warm and go for a nature hunt in the park. Once the children have collected their treasure they could have a go at making some stuff with it. For a start, lots of feathers and twigs are good for an Indian headdress when combined with card or fabric to tie round your head. Or you could make a nature mobile using strong thread or string. And there's always leaf printing with poster paints on paper or fabric paint on cloth.

Make a nature-mobile

2. Dad tip #1:  Make a home cinema. For an authentic cinematic experience on the cheep, get a dvd the kids haven't seen before (Bedford Central Library have a good selection you can hire for a week for just £1.40, or Blockbusters in Kempston is a good place to look for newer titles you can hire,) draw the curtains and get the popcorn in! Invite friends and add beanbags for a really great (easy) afternoons' entertainment.

3. Enter the Kiosk at the Park drawing competition! All you have to do is draw and colour your very own Easter Picture using felt tips, crayons or colouring pencils on a sheet of A4 paper. Write your name, age, email address and a contact number on the back. Hand it in at The Kiosk before April 12th, and you will be in with the chance of winning a hamper of Easter goodies. The winner will be announced on April 14th, and will be judged by members of the Circus of Illustration!  There will be paper and colouring pencils available at The Kiosk throughout the holiday - so come and do Colouring at the Kiosk!

Get colouring in!

4. Take a well-wrapped-up walk around Mowsbury Woods, which are just behind Mowsbury Park It's perfect boy-and-stick territory, and if you take wellies and a jam jar, you can wade about in the stream, and bring home some interesting stream-life. (Or some precious pond weed.)

5. Dad-tip #2: Visit Priory Marina. Ideal for slightly older children, the new(ish) adventure playgound near the car park features a flying fox! Other attractions at Priory include a labyrinth, a walk around the finger lakes, and the best stone-skimming destination in all of Bedford.

6. Dye some eggs. Well, it is Easter, after all.  For a simple approach, dip boiled eggs into bowls of food colouring for a beautiful coloured effect. Accessorize with soldiers! For more advanced egg decorating, see here.

Egg dying - simple, but beautiful.

7. Go egg rolling. You're in good company if you do - it's the Easter day activity at The White House, no less. For this, you just need hard boiled eggs, and a hill. You may also need chalk for marking out the points that your contestants' eggs reach. Refereeing skills are preferable.

Egg Rolling

8. Do some baking. Let's face it, any cake looks better with the addition of some decorative chicks/mini eggs/foil-wrapped bunnies. If you want to make an Easter Victoria sponge, have a look at the tips here from one of our awesome baking team, Karen.

Easter Nest Cakes

9. Take a day trip to Watergate Farm near Leighton Buzzard to see some newborn lambs! Admission really is cheep - £3.50 for adults, £2.50 for kids, and you can  also take a tractor ride, see baby pigs, or have a pony ride. Wellies are a good idea.

10. Come to Russell Park, grab a warming drink and some sustaining snacks from The Kiosk. You are bound to run into other owners of small children. As well as our colouring competition, we will have Face Painting duo Sophie & Millie on hand to create artworks like this:

Face Art

At least the kids might sit still for ten minutes!

We'd love to hear any of your ideas for keeping kids busy over the holidays! Comment on the blog, or leave a post on our Facebook page.

Ethical Addictions at The Kiosk: Great Coffee, Great Story.

Here at the Kiosk we serve a very special kind of coffee. If you've ever popped by for a cup of it, you really are part of something pretty amazing. We serve Ethical Addictions Coffee.

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Ethical Addictions Coffee is a remarkable story of a business setting out to do something very straightforward. Just something simple and fair, but something that is at the same time, completely extraordinary. The company is founded on the belief that ethical business does not have to compromise on quality, and doesn't have to be significantly more expensive for the consumer.

Inspired by a few years living on the West Coast of Canada, where there was an abundance of 'great coffee with great stories', founders Ian and Dave came up with the idea of setting up a coffee brand that dealt direct with the growers. No middle-men or complicated supply chains. Coffee, Ian told us, is the most traded commodity in the world after oil. Often there are 7 or 8 links in the supply chain, all adding to the cost of the products, but leaving many of the farmers in poverty.

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When you think about it, cutting out the supply chain makes perfect sense. The farmers get a fair wage for their work - far higher than they would otherwise - and consumers pay no more than they would for any other coffee. Ethical Addictions pay the farmers the same amount as they would pay coffee suppliers in the UK. The difference is, of course, that the farmer keeps the whole amount. This also means that Ethical Addictions is not a luxury brand, it's an affordable alternative to other coffee brands.

It is also not a Fair Trade coffee. For the villagers to register with the Fair Trade brand, they or the farm would have to put up about $1800, which, as Ian pointed out, is more than the average yearly wages of the villagers. In places like this, where the need is so great and the villages fall through the gaps of Fair Trade, Ethical Addictions is making a real difference. “Fair Trade made consumers think again twenty years ago,” says Ian “maybe it's time to think again now”.

He describes the business as “a passion; part business, part social enterprise. We're not doing anything amazing, we're just doing the right thing. We can't change the world, but we can change things for families in a couple of villages.” And yet, depressingly, even now the business model sounds quite revolutionary.

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On their website, Ethical Addictions tell the stories of their coffees. This is the one about Mountain Top Coffee, and Bente. Bente is the manager of Machare Farm, who they credit with the vision, as well as helping forge the relationships with growers that has given Ethical Addictions the chance to make a difference. Bente introduced them to two small villages high up the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa who had no route to market for their high-quality coffee, and just had to sell to any supplier who happened to come along; meaning that they were getting an insultingly low price for the coffee they had worked so hard to produce.

With some investment from Marchare Farm, Ethical Addictions, and other funding, the villagers were able to produce their own coffee. Now, a few years later, those same villagers have been able to put their children through school for the first time. They've been able to save to repair their houses, and buy livestock. They are producing exceptional Arabicancoffee: 'Dark and smooth with a velvety cocoa and caramel finish.'

Some of Ian's favourite Ethical Addictions moments come from the trip he made to Machare Farm back in December 2011. “Four or five years of supporting the farms and workers has made such a tangible difference,” he explains. “There were people who said 'the wage that we're earning means our children have been able to go to school,' or 'we've been able to have a new roof put on our hut'. These are real peoples' lives that we're helping to change, long-term, for the better."

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This is Desiana Pauli, talking about how Ethical Addictions has changed things for her and her family: "Before, we used to all sleep in the same room on the same bed. Now, I could build a bedroom for my five children so that they have more space. I could also pay the school fees for all the five children, including the uniforms and the books, etc."

And you are helping those same families too, just by drinking our coffee at the Kiosk. Great coffee, great story. 

Summer opening times

pavilion open 9-5pm
the window stays open until 6pm

last food orders 3:30pm

Autumn opening times
as of October 1st

pavilion open 9-4pm
the window stays open until 5pm

last food orders 3:15pm

Mondays: Café opens at 10am

we are open 7 days a week and dogs are welcome on our heated veranda during the winter months

We occasionally close early for private bookings. Please always call us to book a table & avoid being disappointed!

01234 351104

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