Relaxed - Remarkable - Refreshing

Pavilion at the Park Bedford

Bedford Park

locally produced, seasonal food. We cook simple and imaginative dishes and high quality British cuisine.

Hedgehog Mania!

So we told you that we were planning a hedgehog-themed event. Missed that? Catch up with hedgehog news AND an exclusive interview with local illustrator Kitty Dinners here. Well, we got rather carried away, and made it an even MORE exciting event! If you've got school-age kids, it's that point in the holidays where the children are getting a bit...restless (have we put that politely enough?). So we've put together a programme of events to suit all kinds of wriggly children (and hedgehogs.) The date to remember is Wednesday 28th August! Hedgehog in the wild!

The emphasis of HedgehogMania is on creating a mascot for the Kiosk: Russell the Hedgehog. We want your input! What does Russell look like? What are his favourite Kiosk snacks? And who does he hang out with? Katy Dynes (aka Kitty Dinners) will be on hand from 10am for drawing, collage-making and colouring. We've got handy hedgehog templates for less-confident artists, and lots of paper, pens and sparkly stuff to decorate your creations.

At 10.30 we have our guests of honour: visitors from Shepreth Hedgehog Hospital, with an African Pygmy Hedgehog called Honey! They'll be showing off the tiny hedgehog, as well as giving advice on what to do if you find an injured or orphaned hedgehog, and what to feed any spiky visitors to your garden on to keep them healthy.

We'll have a brief pause about 10.50 for drinks and snacks, as you'll need to be sitting comfortably for 11am when we are VERY lucky to be welcoming storyteller Jane Lambourne. Jane specialises in nature-based storytelling, and believes that 'every place has a story to tell' - so she's the perfect person to help us shape some stories and ideas about the wildlife around the Kiosk. This should be one very special storytime at the Kiosk!

Baby African Pygmy Hedgehog

From 11.30 until 12.30 there'll be more opportunities to create your own version of Russell - the winning design will be made into an actual soft toy mascot by Katy - so it's worth having a go - you could be designing a really special hedgehog! As well as craft, there will be facepainting (free!), hedgehog biscuit* decoration (small charge per biscuit). All profits and any other donations from HedgehogMania will go to the Shepreth Hedgehogs - wristbands will also be available for pocket-money prices.

If this has tickled your fancy for all things hedgehog - this is a good place for finding out more 'hog-info.

Oh, and if you've got any soft toys or books that need a change of scene (hedgehog themed or otherwise), bring them along on Wednesday for The Great Kiosk Cuddly Toy & Book Swap - a great way to rejuvenate the playroom!

Sometimes it is wrong to resist pictures of hedgehogs in knitted hats. This is one of those times.

Also on Wednesday is a public consultaion about the exciting new play equipment that will replace the old timber-frame multi-play units in the playground area. The organisers want your ideas, and your childrens' design for a 'signature piece' - designed to the specification of the many young children who play in this part of the playground. The meeting will be held from 12-3 in the play area - please pop along and help shape the future of our park!

See you on Wednesday!

*that's a biscuit in the shape of a hedgehog, rather than a biscuit for a hedgehog, in case you were wondering!

Hedgehogs AND illustrators at the Kiosk!

Kiosk at the Park is not only a meeting place for the local human community, it's a bit of a wildlife hangout too! It would be impossible to work in the park and not be aware of the local animal visitors, not only our friendly canine regulars, but lots of interesting birds - including a very friendly robin, lots of magpies and blackbirds - some squirrels, the odd cat - and a smallish hedgehog. Hedgehogs are fascinating creatures, with their long snuffling noses and spikes; the way they waddle about but can put on a sudden sprint if they see something interesting or threatening. We started to think about this animal community, and thought how nice it would be to imagine what they get up to when the human park people are sound asleep. So we've written about Russell (well, clearly the hedgehog of Russell park would need to be called Russell! Perhaps the park was named after him, in fact?) and some of his friends. And now we'd like you to get involved. What do you think Russell might look like? Is he a naughty hedgehog or is he well-behaved? What does he do at night when no one else is about? Tennis? Does he hang out in the playground? And what's his favourite Kiosk treat?

Local illustrator and soft toy maker Katy Dynes (Kitty Dinners) is going to help us out and will be running a 'design a Russell Hedgehog' workshop at the Kiosk on Wednesday 28th August at 10am-12.30pm . Come down and join in with some designing, collage making and illustrating! Tell us what you think Russell looks like, what he eats and where he likes to play. The final/winning design will become the Kiosk mascot and will be made into a real soft toy by Katy! There'll be more information on this event later in the week - we've got LOADS of hedgehog-related fun planned including a treasure hunt, face painting, cake decorating, and hopefully some VERY special guests! In the meantime, we asked Katy about her illustrating career and influences.

 Illustration by Kitty Dinners

How did you get into illustrating? Was it something you always wanted to do?
K: A little by accident! I've always loved books and drawing and thought I'd hopefully, do 'something in art' when I left School. When I was 19, I went off to do an Art Foundation Course at Bedford College and loved every minute of it- experimenting with a variety of different disciplines. I finally settled on 'Photography' but really, in my heart of hearts, wanting to learn animation. I had a FAB photography tutor, who said he would build me a lightbox, in the photography studio, if I was prepared to teach myself animation, but also learn photography. I bought myself a stop frame camera, a projector and some plasticine and I was off! I loved it so much, I managed to secure a place at the Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design to study 2D Animation.
However........... when I graduated, I realised sadly, it wasn't the 'moving image' that was my passion- it was the 'setting the scene/designing the characters and telling the story' that I really I swiftly sidestepped....... and a career in freelance illustration was born!

Which children's illustrators did you admire when you were growing up? Do you have a favourite now?

K: My wonderful Gran had a fantastic selection of children's books for me to read when I was growing up and I loved anything with bright colourful illustrations, but always something drawn with a 'twist' or a 'hidden element'. I had a huge and wild imagination, so I was (and still am!) a great believer in make believe, fairies and magic. Richard Scarry was a favourite Illustrator, as was Arthur Rackham, Cicely M Barker, Ernest Shepherd and Beatrix Potter.
Now, I have many favourites: Arthur Rackham is joined by Dave McKean, Oliver Jeffers, Lauren Child, Lizbeth Zwerger and Jane Simmons.

What are your favourite animals to draw? Do you find any particularly tricky?
K: I love drawing any animals- I find it fascinating to try and work out the best way to capture their personalities and incorporate that in my illustrations. Elephants, dogs, cats and horses are favourites.
However, ask me to illustrate a dolphin...........I might just manage to draw a 'nose' popping out of the water!!! I find them soooooooo difficult!!!
So save the date: Wednesday 28th August is HEDGEHOG DAY! Come down to the Kiosk to meet Katy, help design a Russell mascot for us and get involved in lots of hedgehog-themed fun! We'll leave you with some inspiring work by Katy - just to get you thinking about how you might illustrate a certain young hedgehog...

Painted Illustration from Lawrence the Lion Seeks Work by Miller Caldwell, illustated by Katy Dynes

Image from 'home' by Katy Dynes

Painted Illustration by Katy Dynes

A Bin Elf and a loyalty card for Kiosk Kids!

Two exciting new schemes launch at the Kiosk on Friday, as part of our super summer holiday entertainment: a litter picking event and a loyalty card for our younger visitors. Friday morning is a very rare opportunity to meet one of the bin elves that tidy the park – and even help one out for the morning! Flynn the bin elf will be at the Kiosk from 10am to meet young (and any older) litter pickers, and we’ll be having a special storytime too! Litterpicking: good for your elf, don’t you know! Flynn says 'I am a very special elf as I can reuse the rubbish people put in the bin. My mission is to make Bedford cleaner and ensure that everyone uses a bin and recycle where they can.' ! An elf that can reuse rubbish is a VERY HELPFUL ELF!!

Flynn the Bin Elf

As for the loyalty cards – why should the grown-ups have all the fun and benefits of a loyalty card? We’re launching a card where young kiosk-ers (if that wasn’t a word, it is now!) can collect points every time they purchase a treat or drink from the Kiosk at the Park. On Friday we’ll be introducing the scheme and giving out loyalty cards.

Malteser squares could soon earn you points!

We’ve had a brilliant summer so far – we’ve been story-writing, paper doll making, and colouring; we’ve had a visit from the playhouse tent, a storytime bonanza, and LOTS of sunshine! There’s still plenty of time to make some paper dolls for the world record attempt and to enter our  500 words of summer competition,  and we’d love to see you on Friday for some  elf-tatsic litter-picking and to claim your loyalty cards.

Hurrah for Fridays!

Paper Dolls at The Kiosk

The Paper Dolls As well as all the other super holiday things we have planned (don't forget our Playhouse at the Park next Monday, and our 500 words of summer story competition!) we are also taking part in a WORLD RECORD ATTEMPT! It doesn't involve daring deeds or baked beans, instead we are helping to make the worlds' longest paper doll chain! To celebrate the brilliant Paper Dolls book by Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb, (if you haven't read it - read it now! It's an amazing book!) publishers Pan Macmillan are organising the record attempt - trying to get a chain of dolls 3km long!

That is 60 lengths of an Olympic swimming pool. Or 270 London buses... and about 11,500 of their paper doll templates!

The paper doll templates are available to download from the website, and you can choose the one to colour in, or the one where you can design your own dolls. You could try superhero dolls, or fairytale-themed dolls, or space man dolls...


And for every paper dolls chain we send in,  Pan Macmillan will donate 10p to Save the Children.

Work started last Monday at our storywriting workshop, and we've got a few templates for you to collect and colour in at the Kiosk. Alternatively, you can download and print the template here. You can send in your entry online, or by post- all the details are on the website. You can also hand in your dolls at the Kiosk and we will send them all off together. We've got a good collection already - but remember that for every set sent in, another 10p is raised for Save the Children - so the more of you that get creative, the more money we can raise for charity!

We have until 31st August 2013 to complete the record - so get colouring and designing, folding and cutting! You can check the doll-o-meter on the website to see how the record attempt is going. If you'd like to hand your dolls in at the Kiosk, please do so by Monday 26th August so we can send them in on time to be part of the 11,500 sets of dolls!

épanoui - Jewellery design at the Kiosk

You know when you meet someone who you just know is going to go far: incredibly talented and with a great business idea? Well, Hannah, who works part time here at the Kiosk, is one of those people. And making the perfect latte is just one of her talents. She also makes beautiful, high quality jewellery under the name épanoui. We caught up with Hannah in between jewellery-making and coffee-making to chat about her business, her inspiration and what exactly the word épanoui means  (you'll love it!)

So Hannah, tell us a little about the jewellery you make.

épanoui is a line of  high-quality hand-made jewellery. I only use the finest precious metals and gemstones to make  my products, which include bracelets, necklaces and earrings.  I sell online, (you can see the lovely website here)  and also through a few shops across Beds, Bucks, Suffolk - with more stockists in the pipeline.

What inspired you to set up your own business?

I've always been creative, and it's something I've always wanted to do, I just needed the right moment! After I graduated from Nottingham Trent (Fashion Marketing and Communications), I went on to do a short course in jewellery making at Central St Martins. I knew that was the direction I wanted to go in, but with little experience and no money behind me, it would have been hard to just set up on my own. So I went and worked in entertainment PR in London, ending up working for Disney. It was great experience, and gave me a really good grounding in branding and promotion, but after a few years I wanted to do something more creative. So in February 2012 I moved to Bedford, and in June 2012, I  left Disney, ready to set up on my own. I took a long creating the brand and website; I really wanted to get it right first time.

Where did the unusual name come from?

I first heard the word épanoui (pronounced e-pan-wee) a few years ago – long before I had decided to set up my own business. It's a French word, and I first heard it used to describe a garden that was flourishing. There is no direct translation into English, but it basically means something that has reached its full potential – to blossom, to grow, to be in full bloom. It must have really struck a chord with me, because I remembered it when I was setting the business up, and it just seemed to be a perfect fit with the brand I was creating: natural, fresh, connected. People did warn me against using a name that people might not be able to pronounce or spell, but the word sums up perfectly what I do, so I stuck with it, and I still love it!

What's been your best moment so far?

 Winning the Bedford Business Women (link) Young Achiever award in my first year of business was incredible. I was so excited just to be nominated amongst all these women doing such amazing work; to actually win was unbelievable. And it was at their Silver Ball, celebrating their 25th Anniversary, so I got to dress up and go to a beautiful ball, which was great as well! The award is in pride of place on my mantelpiece, I'm still so pleased to have won!

What's been hard about going it alone?

 The financial change of going from a well-paid job with a regular income to being self-employed with initially very little income was a challenge! Luckily my boyfriend has been very supportive – he's self-employed too, so he's been really encouraging, and supported me thorough that transition. It's also quite hard to adjust from working in a busy office surrounded by people all the time, to working by yourself, for yourself, and being on your own a lot more. That's why I got a job at The Kiosk, it gets me out and talking to people, as well as being a bit of regular income. Through working here I've been able to meet loads of people, get to know the community and make new friends. Nansi and Emma have been so supportive and are really flexible, so it's been possible to work here alongside growing my own business.

What has a year of running your own business taught you?

 Well I've learnt a lot about myself! And I have learnt a lot about my customers and my market. But mostly I have just learnt to stick to my guns – lots of people will offer you advice about altering the way you do things to make it easier to sell, or to appeal to a wider audience, but I think you have to stay true to your principles and brand ethos, and figure out what works for you. If you don't compromise on your brand, it will grow in the way you want it to.

What is next up from épanoui? Any exciting new products to tell us about?

 One of our most exciting new additions to the brand is personalised bespoke pieces. We are now offering designs engraved with special initials & dates for the ultimate thoughtful gift. I love to work closely with each individual customer to create the perfect design be it for a loved one or even a treat for themselves the beauty is that each piece is completely unique and comes beautifully giftwrapped.

You can feast your eyes on some of Hannah's beautiful designs below. Clearly a rising star of the jewellery world, our advice would be to stock up while you can on this locally-made loveliness. A selection of  épanoui jewellery is available locally at Pensieri in Castle Quay, or you can see the full list of stockists here.

Smokey quartz studs

Image 6.


We would also like to remind you that Hannah's creative skills extend to beautifully made coffee, and as such are on show at the Kiosk - the home of artisan lattes. (A bold statement, but we'll go with it.)

Emergency Poet at the Park!

We have news of an exciting-sounding emergency service coming your way very soon! The Emergency Poet is the world’s first and only mobile poetic first aid service, and she will be driving her vintage ambulance to the Kiosk at the Park on Sunday 21st July, from 11am-4pm. Described as a 'mix of the serious and the theatrical', the ambulance will also contain skulls, jars full of eyeballs and none other than Nurse Verse! Sound intriguing? There's more! After a consultation, you will be diagnosed and prescribed some great poetry, perhaps in the form of poemcetamol... Image


The emergency poet's secret identity is Deborah Alma, an experienced workshop facilitator who has, amongst many other things, delivered sessions on using poetry to help communicate with people with dementia for The Courtyard Theatre, Hereford. Deborah has a degree and a masters in creative writing, and is lead writer at The West Midlands Writers Squad, which teaches creative writing to young people in Ludlow. We're really excited about her visiting the Kiosk, and look forward to welcoming her on Sunday, along with her poetry and her eyeballs!

The Emergency Poet is just one of the many Bedfringe events that are happening all over Bedford during the next few weeks. Have a look at what else is on here: loads of comedy, theatre, and shows for children.  And if you've been to a brilliant Bedfringe event and would like to review it - why not write a post for the citizen bedford blog?

See you on Sunday for an emergency appointment with some poetry!

500 Words of Summer

Ever dreamed of writing your own book? Do you secretly dream of being an author like Julia Donaldson or JK Rowling? Would you like to wrote a short story, just to get started? Well, if so, we have marvellous news for you. The Kiosk at the Park is delighted to announce that we will be running a storywriting competition over the summer holidays! We're teaming up with local authors and book enthusiasts to get the children (and grown ups!) of Bedford writing stories. There are no set themes or rules about what you have to write about - it just needs to be 500 words or under. There will be EXCELLENT prizes for the winning story plus two runners up in each category. Winners will be decided by a panel of expert judges. There are four age categories:

Up to 9 years (If your 9th birthday is after the 26th August 2013, that's the one for you.)

9-13 years (for those with 13th birthdays after the 26th August)

13-18 years (for those with 18th birthdays after the 26th August)

18 years plus (you know who you are.)

Just one entry per person please, and you'll need to hand your stories in to the Kiosk before 6pm on the 26th August. We'll have some forms for you to fill in your contact details.

If you'd like some help getting started, there will be a drop-in storywriting workshop (with a bit of storytime for the younger ones) on Thursday 25th July at the Kiosk from 10-12. Keep checking the blog and our facebook page for more details - and make sure you tell all of your friends!


Pimm's O' clock!

The unusual combination of Wimbledon and glorious sunshine (at the same time - almost unheard of!) has signalled that it is well and truly Pimm's season! Keen to make the most of the weather, we've looked into making the perfect Pimm's. Waitrose's recommended recipe for the perfect Pimm's is listed as:

  • 3 parts lemonade to one part Pimm's,
  • 1 slice orange, 1 slice lemon, 2 slices cucumber, 1 sliced strawberry, sprig of mint.

They also say that Pimm's is 'usually credited to James Pimm, a shellfish monger from Kent who opened his famous Pimm's Oyster Bar in London in 1823. Using gin, quinine and his own secret mixture of herbs, Pimm created a drink that he served as an aid to digestion.'

An aid to digestion, eh? Practically medicinal!

If you fancy branching out from the classic Pimm's and lemonade combo, we found this recipe for ginger-ale based Pimm's on a great website: - a collection of beautifully illustrated recipes from around the world. Have a look on their website for other inspiring recipes - there are loads of different ideas - and you can even search by illustration style!


But whichever kind of Pimm's you make, you'll definitely need some fresh mint. If you don't have any growing in the back garden - head to the herb garden on Rothsay Roundabout - the mint there is fresh and free to good homes!  Pick your way to the perfect Pimm's. We love it!


An afternoon at The Higgins

Are you excited about the re-opening of The Higgins ? We were! So on a very sunny Sunday, we went to have a nose around. The new look museum and gallery is light, airy and beautifully laid out. The courtyard entrance, decorated with brightly coloured bunting and which hosts a lovely cafe, is the perfect welcome. It was great to see some community art projects alongside beautiful works by Edward Burne-Jones, Rosetti and William Burges. The 'A Sense of Place' exhibition was curated by artists Alex Julyan and Lucy Wilson and brings together works by ten different community groups, all exploring their sense of 'place.'  It is part of The Higgins’ Audience Development Project, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. All of the groups have all had a relationship with The Higgins for some time and include family carers, from Carers in Bedford, (read more about the group here) adults with learning disabilities, first-generation Italian migrants, members of the Polish British Integration Centre and people in new housing area, Wixhams.

You can see more work by Carers in Bedfordshire at the Tourist Information Office from 21st May 2013 until the 25th July 2013 and then at Borough Hall from 25th July 2013 until 1st October 2013.

Here are a few highlights of a lovely day out in Bedford's Cultural Quarter.

Higgins 1


higgins 2

Higgins 3

If you are worried about whether it is wise to take children to a museum, then take a look at this 'colouring station' - loads of sheets to colour so that your offspring can 'redesign' some of the artwork without being evicted from the premesis. A good range of well-sharpened colouring pencils too: no blunt crayons here!

higgins 6

There is also a brilliant afternoon tea section with lovely tea sets and cake stands for the kids to play with whilst you learn about the local origins of this great British tradition, and a dressing up box full of bonnets, top hats and long gloves for children to try on.


The exhibition of William Burges' painted furniture; his Sleeping Beauty bed and Narcissus mirror were a particular highlight, as was the Edward Bawden exhibition, and The Great Bedfordians section. And there is a great history of the British Afternoon Tea ritual (of which we are known to be partial to at The Kiosk.) Oh, and a porcelain cauliflower. You don't see many of those. The gift shop has got some lovely items, and enough pocket-money buys to keep the smaller visitors satisfied. It is also worth noting that The Higgins offers rooms and gallery space to hire out for events;  it would make the perfect venue for meetings, workshops and other events - there are concessionary rates for charities. See here for details.

All in all, The Higgins is a triumph, and a credit to Bedford. We can't wait to go back for more!

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.


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 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.


The Higgins is Amazing...

Very exciting day in Bedford today: the opening of The Higgins! Read all about Paula Walker's preview for The Bedford Clanger here! The Higgins is open all day and evening to celebrate the longest day of the year. Will you be heading down?

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.


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.

Picc line

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:

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.


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.


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!


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:


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

And as a final point, we should draw your attention to the new website, 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


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...



Red Nose Day Fun








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 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


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 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..."


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!

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

find us on google maps

Privacy Policy