Glamour, Creative Flair and Traditional Skills at #WearAHatDay

Glamour, Creative Flair and Traditional Skills at #WearAHatDay

Victoria’s Hatbox is a local business based in Upton, a village just outside of Southwell, Nottinghamshire. One lady with a creative flair who has fallen in love with the skilled craft of Millinery, but what is all the fuss about, when did this craft begin?

Hats and different forms of head wear can be traced back to our primitive ancestors – using natural materials to shield our heads from the elements. Speed forward many years and using felt (one of the earlier forms of man made materials) we have seen early examples of felt caps found in Denmark, dating back to the Bronze Age around 1500 BCE.



Various forms of head wear became a symbol of rank and social standing, we see elaborate displays with Egyptian Pharaohs across to simpler examples that symbolised modesty, marital status and religious affiliation. In the 14th and 15th Centuries hats began emerging in western culture and became a must have for men.



The term ‘Milliner’ first referred to sellers of Women’s fashion items imported from Milan, in later centuries they began to become makers of straw bonnets and hats and over time materials diversified to silk, taffeta, leather felt even furs such as beaver. In the middle ages the church also encouraged the wearing of hats by ruling that the hair must be covered and by the 18th Century Milliners became stylists – creating hats not only to match outfits, costumes, occasions but also ensuring that every aspect of the design was taken into creative consideration – the trims, lace, decorative aspects.


Spring into 2018 and hats are whatever you wish them to be – they finish off an outfit and create an air of true celebration of significant events. They are practical and warming and now they are also FUN – raising awareness for charities like Brain Tumour Research during their #WearAHatDay events and reminding us that we all have the right to glamour, status and creative flair and this is what Victoria captures…..

” My interest in millinery began when my friends chose to have a hat-themed wedding. We attended a make a hat in a day course to make our hats and I fell in love with the craft. Since then, I have enjoyed learning from experienced milliners, learning traditional skills and methods and working with a range of materials. My hats are all handmade, unique pieces and can be made to order to match your outfit for any occasion.”


Victoria will be attending our #WearAHatDay event at the Full Moon Inn on 29th March 2018 at 6pm – bringing her tools along to demonstrate some of the skills involved in creating her unique pieces and answering questions if you indeed wish to treat yourself to a hat created with love and completely for you.

To Contact Victoria call her on 07903 575247
or visit her Facebook Page – VictoriasHatbox

Better still pop in and meet her during our event!

Join us on 29th March 2018 for


Help Improve Our


Easy Shortbread Recipe for Preschoolers

Easy Shortbread Recipe for Preschoolers

Baking with your preschooler is so rewarding for all involved and can help them to be less picky with food. The key is to start simply with something they are guaranteed to enjoy and to forget perfection, it can get messy and it may not look anything like the picture – yet this is where the magic happens… So, here we have a simple favourite to get you started with thanks to Southwell Preschool. As well as designing tartan, making haggis and learning poems, the shortbread baking formed one of their activities celebrating Burns Night.



250g   or    9 oz   Plain Flour
75g     or    3 oz   Sugar
175g   or    6 oz   Butter

Take the handwash, sleeves up, aprons on train….

Preheat the oven to 160 C / Gas Mark 3.

Line your baking tray with tin foil – It’s easy to work with for little fingers and easy to clean up afterwards.











Weigh out the ingredients, involve your child with checking the numbers.




Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and rub into fine breadcrumbs,
then divide equally between the children if you have more than one.



Squash and Roll into balls – Cut in half – Create Fingers
or indeed any shape and animal your little one’s heart desires.

Prick all over with a fork.





Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

Sprinkle with sugar as soon as they come out of the oven.

Allow to cool and that’s it – super easy shortbread.


I hope you enjoy eating your shortbread creations as much as we did, we would love to see your pictures.

For those interested here is how this all links to Ofsted Areas of Development:
We always look out for the development milestones within our children whether activities are child led or pre-planned, this recipe was part of a number of Burns Night activities, celebrating special occassions and other customs and cultures. We are developing mathematics by weighing out ingredients and discovering that things change when we cook them, introducing a little bit of science. Lots of new words were learned and it promoted communication. This covers areas of learning from both the prime areas and the specific areas of development. But most importantly it’s Messy & Fun !

Thanks for reading.


Ann Best

Ann Best

Supervisor at Southwell Preschool

Our preschool is a non-profit charitable setting staffed with qualified professional child care workers and run by a voluntary management committee. Sessions are for children from the age of 2 until they start school. We pride ourselves in being child and environment led  providing playful activities in our building/garden as well as experiences within the community and our parkland setting.

Southwell Preschool Logo

Telephone us on
07910 889040 or 01636 813821

Pregnant and Prepared it’s not just about the hospital bag

Pregnant and Prepared it’s not just about the hospital bag

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I was elated. It hadn’t been an easy journey getting there, but there it was – the blue line on the stick – oh, and the nausea… but I was (we were) over the moon.  I hadn’t done much reading around pregnancy or childbirth, but assumed that as long as I was where I needed to be (the hospital, in my mind) surrounded by midwives, doctors and drugs on the day of my child’s birth, everything would be ok and there wasn’t much else I could do to prepare for the big day. Yes, I signed up for an antenatal class – but I think that was more to meet friends than actually learn anything.

Fast forward a few months and my son arrived safely (in a hospital) but I was left feeling quite affected by the whole experience for some time. I was lucky and the birth wasn’t particularly traumatic, but I had felt completely out of control of both the situation and my own body.

Several years on, following 2 miscarriages and a lot of sickness, we happily announced that we were expecting our 2nd child – a daughter. After a lot of heartache and pain, I had started yoga to try to prepare my body as best I could for a successful pregnancy. Once I fell pregnant I was keen to continue with the yoga classes and found a local antenatal yoga class run by a midwife. The classes were a perfect way to escape, once a week, from my busy everyday life and soon became a regular part of my routine. I attended the classes from around 16 weeks of pregnancy (once the sickness had subsided!) until 39 weeks. When I went into labour the following week, my body seemed to instinctively know what it needed to do. I knew which positions felt comfortable, and when offered a bed to lie in, I politely but firmly refused. I took some towels out of my bag and quietly went back to the comfortable (upright) position I had been in at home, on the floor. Looking back I may have looked quite odd, going to ground as soon as I got in the room, but I was in my labour bubble and I knew where I needed to be. This time around I had the confidence to go with my body and what it was telling me. My daughter arrived not long after we arrived (much to the midwife’s surprise), in a (relatively!) peaceful, calm and controlled environment. I felt completely in tune with my body and what it was doing and was positively buzzing afterwards. My daughter was so content that she latched on and was feeding within 15 minutes of birth.

At the time I didn’t know about the Daisy Foundation, nor did I know all the reasons why what I did 2nd time around would help me. Knowing all I know now about active birth (and why lying on your back isn’t likely to help you), why breathing is so important (and vitally how to breathe at different stages of labour), what your body is doing in labour (and how to help keep things moving along) … I want to tell the world! Every woman should have access to this information so that they too can have every chance at the birth that they want and deserve.

Daisy Birthing classes are so difficult to explain until you’ve been to one. Yes, they include yoga-based movements, all specifically designed to help with common pregnancy problems – indigestion, puffy fingers, swollen ankles – and help your body prepare for its birthing day, but they include so much more than that. The antenatal education that we share with Mums-to-be is delivered in small bite-sized chunks – just 15 minutes a week, but every week I see the penny drop and women saying ‘why don’t all women get told this stuff? It just makes so much sense’. YES! And yet there is more, the classes finish with a beautiful relaxation segment. Time-out for ladies to relax, connect with their babies and prepare their minds for their forthcoming birthing day. And the classes are as much about preparing the mind as preparing the body, which is absolutely right. How you think or feel about something and your thoughts can have a very powerful effect on your body.

If you are expecting a baby and would like to prepare for your birthing day, please get in touch. Classes are just as suitable for 2nd or 3rd time Mums as they are for your 1st baby.

Daisy Birthing classes run in 6 week terms at Trebeck Hall, Southwell on Wednesdays 7:30-9pm.  The classes are suitable from 14 weeks of pregnancy,  are for ladies only and can be adapted for all. No prior yoga experience is necessary. Daisy is supportive of all birth choices.

Katy Mogg

Katy Mogg

Daisy Perinatal Educator

6 week term of Daisy Birthing antenatal yoga-based classes starts at
Trebeck Hall, Southwell: on Wednesday 13th December 7:30-9pm

Newfield Dairy Ice Cream Parlour: Tuesday 9th January 2018 at
Tinies at 11:15am is for babies aged 6 weeks-4 months, Wrigglers at 10am is for babies aged 4-11 months.

1 or 2 day Daisy Parent antenatal workshops for Mum-to-be & Birthing
Partner takes place at Hoveringham Village Hall: on 14/28 January and
11/18th March 2018.

For information call Katy Mogg
07900 375619

Now the holidays are over -How do I make time for me?

Now the holidays are over -How do I make time for me?

Today, or possibly tomorrow, I am guessing if you are a parent you are preparing for the joy of school runs to begin again. Perhaps, you have been labelling clothes or finding shoes and a uniform to fit a child who seems to have grown huge in the space of six weeks. I know that getting into the swing after Summer always takes a few weeks and will do even more so this year now I have 3 to get ready in the morning. So, the kids are sorted but WHAT ABOUT YOU?

  • Have you thought about how you are fitting in some, dare I say it, “me” time?
  • Have you thought about the resolutions you didn’t stick to in the New Year or have you blanked that out?
  • Have you discussed with your partner how you will fit exercise into your schedule?
  • Have you talked about how you will improve your eating now that holiday time is over (especially if you overindulged on the ice-creams!)?

These discussions are not easy to make time for but without any thought, no change will take place. As a parent I am usually looking for ways to make everything easier, quicker and less stressful so we used the 7 hour car journey back from Devon to talk through our fitness goals, our eating goals and how we can make life easier for ourselves.

Maybe, we won’t fit it all in or make all the changes but at least we have tried. I have said I will get up in the morning to exercise and I will do something everyday except on a Saturday as I want my family time. If it isn’t in your diary, the chances of you finding a reason NOT to do exercise are much more likely.

My husband has also planned out his running/biking schedule. I have booked into some events over the next six months.  I have said I will step away from the sweet stuff which started once I was back off holiday anyway and we will not have the TV on when I get in from work. If you are struggling with this, why not book in with me.

I can help you, but only if you want your health, strength and emotional wellbeing to be a priority. If it is now your time to have some “me” time then get in touch and I can help you make LIFELONG changes.

Bad News, there is no quick fix, no magic pill or potion that will change your body. First you have to change your mindset and then the changes in your body will follow.
The Good News – it is completely possible and within your reach, i hope to see you out there however, you choose to do it.

Jo Semmelroth

Jo Semmelroth

Personal Trainer

For more details about me and what I do check out

or call me on 07967 208230.

Current sessions include personal training, clubbercise fitness classes and ‘Bring the children’ Mum fitness classes.

How to be a responsible dog owner – and not see it as a chore!

How to be a responsible dog owner – and not see it as a chore!

We have had a number of heated discussions on our social media over the last couple of years about responsible dog ownership… so we are very pleased to introduce our newest guest writer – Emily Birch, an expert in this field.


Over the next few months, I shall be writing a number of articles for the dog owners among you about, well, dogs. You may have seen that last year Brackenhurst partnered up with The Kennel Club to help create a place for dogs and owners from all walks of life. We do have a website ( and a Facebook page ( so do follow us if you’re interested in knowing more about what we are doing. In this article I’m going to discuss how you can be a responsible dog owner and love doing it (sometimes it may feel like all we do is get nagged!).

So first let us imagine two scenarios…


Scenario One

There are two lovely owners on a walk with their own dog. One owner has a nervous dog, the other a very friendly dog. The two owners meet along a footpath and it goes something like this. Nervous dog owner holds their dog’s collar and tries to get it out of the way. Friendly dog owner tries to call their dog back but it’s seen a potential new friend and is off. Nervous dog owner panics and tries to move their dog out of the way more. Friendly dog rushes up to say hi, nervous dog has no way to escape and so snaps aggressively at the friendly dog. Friendly dog leaves and both owners carry on their walk. Fast-forward 6 months of this sort of situation. Nervous dog will now actively bite dogs who come and say hi and they will defend their space aggressively. Friendly dog is now conflicted about meeting dogs (wants to say hi but doesn’t want to get told off) so becomes frustrated and stressed and ultimately aggressive. Both owners are now scared to let their dogs off the lead. This becomes a vicious circle.


Scenario Two

There are two lovely owners on a walk with their own dog. One owner has a nervous dog, the other a very friendly dog. The two owners meet along a footpath and it goes something like this. Nervous owner recalls their dog, pops them on a lead and asks them to sit. They have moved off the pathway to increase the space that their dog has. Friendly dog owner recalls their dog and gives them a brilliant reward for coming back. Both walk past calmly and owners say hello (and possibly even chat), whilst both feeding their dogs treats for paying attention to them. Fast-forward 6 months. Nervous dog doesn’t worry at all about other dogs on a walk as they know their owner helps them find space and listens to them. Friendly dog owner has a friendly dog who loves saying hi but knows how to do so appropriately and only when suitable. In this situation, both owners could start walking together having created situations where dogs don’t feel the need to show aggression.


Out of these two scenarios which would you prefer? I’m pretty sure its scenario two… but the question is how to we get to that point? Well below are a few pointers to start with.

  • Teach your dog a reliable recall – it leads to a great amount of trust between you and your dog and ultimately more freedom for both of you. We do run specific recall workshops over the year (like our Facebook page to keep updated) that teaches your dog lots of games to create a brilliant recall. However, the main aim is to make sure you’re more fun than whatever else it is they like to do. Be exciting and fun and run off in the opposite direction whilst calling – when they catch you having a big game of tug of war or some great high value treats, then let them go off again.
  • Teach your dog you’ll look after them – if you listen to their whispers they won’t need to shout. Give them a choice about who/what they interact with and space when they don’t want too. If they tell you politely they don’t want to say hi, listen to them move out the way with them. It means they never need to climb up the ladder of aggression. If you are interested in understanding what your dog is trying to tell you, we hold canine communication seminars that teach you what those subtle signals are.
  • Take treats or a toy with you – it’s not about bribing them, it’s about paying them for their actions. If an action has a positive consequence, they are more likely to do it again. If it has a negative one, they are less likely to repeat the action. When you’re angry and can’t get your dog back think about what your dog sees… Currently, they are having fun sniffing things and running around, why would they return to an angry, shouting human?
  • Lead by example – the dog owning public can, at times, come under bad press due to some not so responsible dog owners. Rather than worrying about things we can’t control (because we can’t control how other people behave) instead let’s lead by example. If you see some people coming and you know your dog is friendly, call them back, pop them on a lead and walk past, rewarding your dog for ignoring the walkers. Pick up after your dog – every time someone walks in dog poo, every dog owner is tarred with the same brush. And please don’t be tempted to sling said poo bag into a bush! If we lead by example, these behaviours become the normal thing to do and others will start to follow suit.

We would love to know – What do you think makes a responsible dog owner ?- share in the comments below

For more tips to help with dog training, follow our Facebook page where every Monday we give a new tip for dog owners. If you would like to know more about the canine developments at Brackenhurst, book on to a course, or indeed come along to one of social walks, have a look at our website ( or email Emily (

We look forward to meeting you and of course your dog(s)!

Emily Birch

Emily Birch

Clinical Animal Behaviourist

Emily and the team at ntucanine offer a number of training workshops and events throughout the year.

For more info visit :
FB :

Animal Farms and Theme Parks all near Southwell Nottinghamshire

Animal Farms and Theme Parks all near Southwell Nottinghamshire

“I want to see some cows”

“I want to go on a boat”

“But mum, you said we could go to to the park!!”

You’ve managed to narrow down what is going to satisfy all members of the family – A park with animals ideally with some extra adventure activities – but you don’t want to travel far…… Well, suprisingly there are a number of family attractions close to Southwell, Nottinghamshire – all with a great reputation.

If you are from Nottingham or maybe further a field, why not make it a trip to remember – consider camping locally or staying in a local B&B. Most villages have a pub serving food, park and footpaths to explore – again something to satisfy the whole family.

Be sure to comment below where you went and what you most enjoyed….. !

Petting Farms and Theme Parks

Ferry Farm Park & Restaurant – featured image.

White Post Farm

Wheelgate Adventure Park

A little bit further from base and you may enjoy Sundown Adventureland or of course a visit to Sherwood Forest and Sherwood Pines.