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Posts from the ‘GIVEAWAYS’ Category


Thompson & Morgan Daily Giveaway – February 2014

tne323-banner 1st February 2014

We have always liked Thompson & Morgan plants and seeds and we thought you might like to enter a competition to win a great gardening prize, once a day, every day in February.

Statistically you are in with a good chance of winning, so do go to the T&M website and enter NOW!

Good luck!

Val Reynolds, Editor


UK consumers could be losing £100 million in cash benefits every year

Following the recent feature  How to Get Money for Nothing!  you might be interested in this press release received this morning:

UK consumers who belong to clubs, gyms and thousands of other organisations could be losing more than £100 million every year in cash savings and benefits, according to a major new survey published today  by money saving website

A survey carried out in May of more than 2,000 UK adults found that more than three quarters (78%) belong to, or pay a regular subscription to, at least one organization.  However, more than half (52%) of those who are members of at least one organisation or service said that they didn’t know or forget what is available.

It seems – with an estimated 10 plus million consumers who belong to clubs and other organisations in the UK which entitle them to average potential benefits of £100 or more each year – most people simply forget or are totally unaware of what is available or what they can claim.

According to Richard Brown, founder of iMember, it’s not the fault of the clubs if members fail to claim benefits and, in response, has launched a new free online service ( that ensures no one need ever lose out again. The new website reminds users when savings – to which they are already entitled because of their memberships – are available and where.

Young people are likely to benefit most from the site. The iMember survey says they are the big losers with 63% of 18-24 year olds (compared to just 26% of all ages surveyed) not knowing how many organisations they belonged to. Younger people are also more likely to be unaware of what benefits and rewards are available to them – with 39% of 18-34 year olds who are members of organisations or services saying this, compared to 30% of those aged 65+.

This passivity problem is not just exclusive to the young adult market.  In fact, one in six (16%) members of organisations or services ‘cannot be bothered’ to use membership benefits. Meanwhile, almost one in ten (9%) say that they ‘don’t have time’ to use the offers that are rightfully theirs – even though as a member of an organisation, it makes sense to reap the rewards that come with belonging, whether it’s a discounted hotel stay or cheaper health insurance.

The survey has highlighted the clear need for a more transparent, accessible and simplified way for consumers to save money. The new iMember website does just that, providing a free service that informs and reminds people what is available and explains how and where to claim.

Combining all of a consumer’s memberships and subscriptions in one handy location, iMember tells them exactly what benefits so many of the UK population should be enjoying already – simple as that. Rather than trawl through numerous websites and marketing materials for each organisation, iMember also keeps the process as simple as possible.

Founder of iMember, Richard Brown, explains: “Only after paying for tickets and attending an exhibition at the Royal Academy, I found out that as a Barclays Premier customer I could have got in free.  As a member of many organisations I realised that there are a plethora of benefits and deals out there of which the UK consumer has little or no knowledge at all.”

It may be true that everyone is busier during tough economic times, but people are missing out on savings that are just waiting to be claimed. Membership deals offer money for nothing, but you just have to remember you’re a member.  If, like so many UK consumers, you need a little reminder every now and then – that’s where iMember comes in. 

iMember is a free and easy-to-use website ( A  smartphone app which will remind you of benefits you are entitled to out and about will be available in July.  Registered users can use the site to access reward offers and membership benefits for more than 60,000 places, venues and retailers across the UK.

With more than 10,000 deals on the website database, available through major organisations from the AA to University College London, iMember helps UK consumers to take advantage of their subscription and membership entitlements.

iMember offers organisations the opportunity to remind members, subscribers or customers of the real benefits of belonging to their organization, encouraging to join or renew their subscriptions and memberships.

The iMember website was developed by The Smack Agency. Part of UKNetMonitor Limited, iMember is based at 1090 Galley Drive, Kent Science Park, Sittingbourne, Kent ME9 8GA United Kingdom.

One comment received from a reader: I’ve never really believed the savings on offers were worth the bother, but this website saves time and is easy to use.

Do send an email with your opinion, experience, view  – we’d be interested in your response.


1 Forrester Report – The Impact of Online Voucher Codes (

2 Organisation and Service Benefits Survey – ComRes interviewed 2,017 GB adults online between 15th and 16th May 2013. Data were weighted to be representative of all GB adults aged 18+. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Data tables are available on the ComRes website,

Val Reynolds, Editor


How to Get Money for Nothing!

New website iMember encourages UK consumers to ‘remember you’re a member’

We all have memberships of one sort or another - do you have a list?

We all have memberships of one sort or another – do you have a list?

The UK may have avoided a triple dip recession but in these tough economic times many of us are relying on cashback offers, online discounts and voucher codes to save money on everyday items. So why do so many membership offers and deals go unclaimed? It is simply because we don’t know they exist.

Remember you’re a member!
Motoring organisations, trade unions, gyms, clubs, alumni bodies, professional societies, and even newspapers and banks offer thousands of rewards and benefits that most of us never use.

“Only after paying for tickets and attending an exhibition at the Royal Academy, I found out that as a Barclays Premier customer I could have got in free,” said Richard Brown, Founder of iMember. “and as a member of so many other organisations, I realised that there was a whole world of benefits out there of which I had little or no knowledge at all.”

iMember is a revolutionary new website that makes it easier than ever for UK consumers to claim the many benefits to which they are legally entitled – and it’s completely free of charge!

Developed with the everyday consumer in mind, iMember changes the way people use the entitlements they have as members of clubs, societies, unions, and professional bodies, as well if they subscribe to motoring organisations, gyms, banks, newspapers and more. And if you were going to buy a product or service anyway – it makes sense to know how much money you could save.

iMember will help you get the most out of your subscriptions. It reminds you when you are entitled to a discount or a special offer because you have joined an organisation or subscribed to something great. Just tell iMember what you belong to and it’ll tell you what benefits you should be enjoying – simple as that.

Nero has a popular system of rewards using their stamp a card scheme - Seems this chap can't wait for his fix!

Nero has a popular system of rewards using their stamp a card scheme – Seems this chap can’t wait for his fix!

Using the service will become even easier this summer when the iMember app is launched for both iPhone and Android smartphones. Consumers can get the best deals whilst on the move and never again miss out on discounts that are rightfully theirs.

Membership deals offer money for nothing; you just have to remember you’re a member. And that’s where iMember comes in. Bear in mind  all these reductions reflect a lower profit margin for the organisations. Seemingly a good investment if they attract regular, faithful followers. Do you have coffee shop cards? I do!

Currently in Beta mode the website is free to register … have a look you might have a lot of fun!

Val Reynolds, Editor


Top Ten Christmas Gifts for 2012 – Personal Favourites

Every year we put together a list of the products we have tried and loved over the year and include them in our Christmas List. 2012 has been a memorable year for visits, tastings and tests.

These are our favourites:



Chocolate bouquet – can’t think of anything more tempting than this astonishingly beautiful chocolate bouquet – we’re sending it as a family gift to five families who live far and wide who will be meeting up for Christmas in a country house in the Midlands. A smaller bouquet and individual flowers are also available. Utterly charming, seems a shame to eat them.

Last year we were impressed by and ordered several items from the Thompson & Morgan catalogue of bouquets and other floral gifts. This year they have added to the items on offer. All details on their website.

Booja Booja chocolate truffles are oh so yum! Organic and made by hand, we have to restrict ourselves to one each a day until the box is empty. Delicious flavours include raspberry – our absolute favourite is the Champagne Truffle … so irresistible they should be banned! Ingredients for chocolate aficionados: Dark chocolate (cocoa solids 55%, cane sugar, emulsifier, soya lecithin, vanilla, coconut oil, champagne 8%, Agave, Cocoa powder.

Organic Champagne Truffles

Organic Champagne Truffles

Cooking in someone else’s kitchen is always interesting and on our return from a two month stay in France we immediately bought a hand blender – there are lots on the market but we plumped for the Sainsbury 200K version. At the surprising price of £4.13 it does the job quite well and is good enough for soups, blending cooked fruit and vegetables. We love the flexibility of blending direct in the saucepan. Much less washing up. For slicing, chopping and making small quantities of sauce our Magimix is indispensable – it has considerably more power with well designed cutting discs.

We love our Russell Hobbs Brita Filter Kettle. Living in a hard water and limescale area, dark rings on cups and a film on coffee and tea is really noticeable and slightly unpleasant. All that disappears using this filter kettle and your tea and coffee tastes so much better too. Of course you have the ongoing expense of the filters, but we prefer that to the unpleasant effects of scale. We use the filtered water for cooking as well.

Spoon Rest

Spoon Rest

Another useful device in the French kitchen was a simple Spoon Rest. I could only search out one, in John Lewis, the Playnation Ceramic Rest costs £8. It’s big enough to hold more than one wooden spoon, it gives me less cleaning to do of food marks on the worktop. Just throw it in the dishwasher, well best not to throw … Definitely the most useful piece of kitchen kit I have come across in years.

Digital scales As I am on a calorie restricted food programme (called a diet by everyone else!) an accurate, easy to clean, set of scales is essential. Again John Lewis came up trumps and I was pleased the nicest one I found, Salter 1036 Electronic Disc Kitchen Scale, 5kg, Black only cost £12.80. It has a lot of positive reviews.

I was lucky enough to interview Stanley Kubrick’s widow, Christiane, a month or so ago to talk about her, painting, work methods and style. The feature will  appear in the New Year.

Christiane was kind enough to sign a copy of the Taschen Book: The Stanley Kubrick Archives for us to offer to In Balance readers. This giveaway will appear on this website early in 2013.

The book is the first to explore Kubrick’s archives and the most comprehensive study of the filmmaker to date. It would be a must for any film buff. Reviews on the Taschen website are enlightening.

Another book we came across is Uniquely British, A Year in the Life of The Household Cavalry, written by serving officers and soldiers. The book covers events that took place during 2011 and 2012 and gives a unique insight into the background activities of a 350 year old organisation. Published to fund the launch of the Household Cavalry Foundation, a new charity to support serving soldiers, operational casualties, veterans or even their horses. Uniquely British is available direct from the publishers Tricorn Books, who presumably pay their British taxes which is more than be said about that huge organisation that sends most of its UK profits home to the US whose name begins with a capital A and from whom we assume you wouldn’t order this book. Sorry, our prejudices are showing.

OTHER Favourites to Give you Inspiration

For those who find listening to book a lifeline when driving long distance, or doing any repetitive activity like gym work, talking books might be an appropriate gift. Our recent feature gives details

George Foreman Grill – Absolutely besotted with this easy to make sandwich grill that cooks steaks to a T! Our feature gives details

Rose Oil is our absolute favourite product for facial care. From Living Nature we would never be without it!

Belleville Rendezvous – If you haven’t seen this do have a look at our feature – it’s a cartoon which is so funny and whacky yet charming and engaging.

Insect House – This is a fascinating item to attracts insects that will stay in your garden to help pollinate your fruit and vegetables. Young children love it. Our recent feature gives details.

Relaxing by the pool

And FINALLY, we’ve left the best until last! We spent an overnight spa stay at Whittlebury Hall. We so enjoyed this. A world class hydrotherapy centre, offering a vast range of treatments, beautiful decor, spacious accommodation, wonderful food … seriously large swimming pool, golf course, beautiful grounds to explore … You might just like to book up one of the special deals on offer up to Christmas! I took my husband who loved it … now that’s a recommendation!

Phew, I hope you find something of interest to choose as a thoughtful gift.

Good luck and the compliments of the season!

Val Reynolds Brown, Editor



Attract Wild Bees in your Garden with an Insect Hotel

It is time of year when I reinstall the bee nest boxes kept in our dry cool garage since last autumn, into the garden. I bought my nest kits some years ago from the Oxford Bee Company, which sadly is now defunct.

7 cm bee nest

7 cm bee nest

The Oxford Bee nests I have are two sizes: 7 cm and 12 cm

12 cm bee nest

12 cm bee nest

As the tubes the bees use to lay their eggs degrade over time and sometimes fall out and get wet, or birds pecking at the tubes make them fall out – some folk have trouble with woodpeckers – I had to search around for a website where I could get replacement tubes.

Red Mason bees use the tubes to lay their eggs and the most curious fact is that the first egg they lay emerges last? How can that be? Evolution I know – perhaps there’s some kind of chemical difference in the nectar moistened pollen used that delays development. Honey bees feed their queens 100% on what is known as royal jelly, a high protein secretion the worker bees produce from their heads, a somewhat less amount is fed to the drones, and even less to the workers.

7 cm bee nest with red mason bee

7 cm bee nest with red mason bee

This year I transferred most of the tubes from the smaller pipe to replace those gaps and degraded tubes in the larger pipe. So I decided to add some dried stalks of fennel and hollyhock that I left standing for insects to overwinter. Here is the result, a bit raggedy but useable. Another of my cunning plans – code for hopeful experiment! I use a pipe support for the pipes to rest on and then use wire to keep them in place.

A mix of ready made tubes and dry plant stalks

A mix of ready made tubes and dry plant stalks

When I need more I’ll make them from plastic water piping. One end would have to be blocked off to mimic the Oxford design.

In my search for replacement tubes I came across the Schwegler bee nesting box which has fascinating see-through tubes, the eggs and pollen can be clearly seen. And I found this really interesting website about bees – the drawings are delightful.

Here’s a link to info about Red Mason Bees

Here is a Google page with lots of references to Red Mason Bees.

Neudorff Insect Hotel

Neudorff Insect Hotel

Our Neudorff Insect Hotel is now erected. We have placed it near the greengage tree and look forward to watching the insects inspecting it!

Helping insects find a safe haven in your garden for nesting and hibernation isn’t just good for the environment – it helps your garden, too. Ladybirds and lacewings munch greenfly and blackfly, while mason bees pollinate fruit blossoms as do lacewings.

Neudorff’s new insect hotel offers a stylish way of greening your garden. Designed to attract ladybirds, lacewings, mason bees, digger wasps, wild bees and hibernating butterflies like Peacocks, Brimstones, Small Tortoiseshells and Red Admirals, its wooden structure features different rooms to suit insects’ varying needs, such as hollowed out wood for mason bees and a central space for butterflies to seek shelter.

It’s also a great educational and instructive device that fascinates young children from age of three upwards. Great for school projects too!

For more information, visit the Neudorff site.


UPDATE: We now have TWO Neudorff Insect Hotels to give away to In Balance readers. All you have to do to enter the draw is send an email to:

With Neudorff Insect Hotel in the Subject box and your contact details including telephone number in the text box

Only one entry per household will be accepted and must have a UK or Forces postal address.

Last date for entries has been extended to 10 June 2012.

Val Reynolds, Editor


Tropical Fruits Giveaway – Are you a Winner?


The winners of the Tropical Fruits Giveaway are:

K Bolton, Wilts
N Clifford, London
L Jeffs, London
K Christodoulou, Herts
S Darby, London
D Johnson, Devon
H Izzard, Manchester
C McLeary, London
D Criscuolo, Surrey
D Hilliard, Powys

Not a winner? Perhaps you didn’t include all your contact details. Two entries drawn didn’t include postal details so we had to draw again.

Why miss out on future giveaways we will be offering soon … books, skincare, tickets to shows …  Just click on the Sign me up! box at the bottom of the righthand column


Christiane Kubrick Wife of the late Stanley Kubrick Exclusive Interview + Book Giveaway

Christiane Kubrick at her easel

Christiane Kubrick at her easel

Last century, there were a few film directors who rewrote cinema. Apart from London-born Alfred Hitchcock, geographically the closest to South East film buffs was Stanley Kubrick, New York born but happily settled in Childwickbury, just north of St Albans, for many years before his death.

Known as an obsessive who valued his own privacy and space above all else – his classic A Clockwork Orange was withdrawn from circulation for many years in the UK because he didn’t want to engage in discussion about its potential for social harm – it’s hardly surprising that this silent iceberg of a talent had the potential to overshadow his talented wife, German-born Christiane.

Life is always hard for the lesser-known partner in a well-known relationship. Whatever their achievement, they always face the danger of being just a footnote to a more famous life. However, Christiane Kubrick has always done her own thing and has gained an international reputation as an artist to boot.

Descended from a melange of theatre directors, actors, writers and musicians, Christiane’s parents were opera singers and encouraged her into a career in the theatre, although her impulse was always to paint. However, she found early success as a dancer and actress – this included leading roles in theatre, radio, TV and film productions, when she was seen by Stanley who cast her in the only female part in the film Paths of Glory.

But the desire to paint never left her. Despite family commitments, she continued painting, studying at UCLA, the Art Students League in New York and at St Martin’s School of Art in London.

Then, following a family move to the UK in the 1960s, she began to exhibit – the Cork Street Galleries the Grosvenor Gallery, the Drian Gallery and the Mercury Gallery. Later, Christiane was elected Chair of the Women’s International Art Club, founded with a legacy from suffragette and artist Sylvia Pankhurst to defy a law that prohibited women from exhibiting their paintings. And she was also chosen four times for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

At the same time, her work appeared in her husband’s films – in a curious mirror image of wardrobe designer Shirley Russell’s contribution to her husband Ken – as well as in works by Steven Spielberg, on a CD cover design for cellist Alexander Baillie and the cover for a novel by Gabriel García Márquez. Her paintings have been widely collected in the USA and Europe, with both prints and posters published, first by Athena Fine Art Posters and latterly by the Bentley Publishing Group. Many are reproduced in a series of fine art books in Japan and in 1990 a selection was published by Warner Books in a book Christiane Kubrick Paintings* selected as Art Book of the Year on American television.

Enough? No, there’s more! In keeping with the theatrical tradition in her family, she designed the sets for the Palace Opera’s successful production of Hansel and Gretel which was chosen by the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London to be its Christmas Show for two consecutive years.

That experience of theatre design led her to use an Apple Macintosh computer and the computer program ‘Painter’. She now uses these as a complement to her painting and also as a tool in her multimedia projects. Her recent activities include exhibitions for Art in Action at Waterperry (Oxon) and Open Studios (Herts).

She teaches regularly at workshops in Hertfordshire and Shropshire, as well as exhibiting and selling her work over the web.

Remembering Stanley

Remembering Stanley

So, that’s Christiane Kubrick – artist, creator, woman, mother. Ask her about Stanley and you get the stock response: “As and when the time comes that I feel I must say more, I will.” But that’s no problem – she’s a fascinating force in her own right. And she demands, in the nicest possible way, her own identity as an artist. “I don’t know whether Stanley wrote anything about my painting,” she says. “He might have mentioned it when he used my work in his films, but I’m afraid that’d be too long a search!”

Let us then take Christiane Kubrick as her own person, an artist of substance – ironic, humorous, whimsical but full of substance.

Here she is in conversation with In Balance magazine in 2007

IB: Have you always painted?
CK: I have painted all my life, I have painted professionally, from the age of 25 – before that I needed to learn how to draw. I come from an extremely theatrical family, so that’s all I ever really knew, opera and stuff. And I had a puppet theatre from day one it seems to me and I repainted the puppets and I learnt how to sew, I really learned painting, sculpture and sewing and all that in my wish to build the theatre and I made sets – sadly I don’t have them any more because the early ones must have been very funny.

IB: That was important to you?
CK: I know I gave it everything I had and I started to play with electric lights and water – nearly killed myself!

When I think hard, because the children have asked me about these things, I think it was when I had all the childhood diseases. When I had scarlet fever I remember just doing the theatre for weeks – that’s why I think I was better in class at drawing than the other children, just simply by doing it all the time.

Later I studied at St Martin’s School of Art and wherever I could in between babies and stuff!

IB: You’re German. What’s your background?
CK: I was born in 1932 in Braunschweig, a town in North Germany. I then lived in many different places as my parents were opera singers. Later, I was evacuated and I lived in my Nan’s relatives house in a brickworks, in the countryside. Then I lived with lots of other people after the war and went to boarding school.

I was 23 when I met Stanley and we got married a year or so later. I had been married before – criminally young – and had my eldest daughter, Katherine, in Germany before I went to the US. Stanley and I had Vivien who lives in California and Anya**.

IB: Moving to your paintings, the colours you use are very vivid, strong. Are they what you see or what you’d prefer them to be?
CK: I tend to see the world in bright colours, but now I’m longing to use more muted versions. I hope it comes not from growing older but from being more sensitive.

IB: So your style changes …
CK: Yes, it goes in phases. It’s a bit like handwriting – one day you write and it looks okay and another day you think how beautiful and neat it looks. Seems to be true of painting too.

IB: Do you sell most of your work?
CK: Well, it goes in waves, I sold very well at first on the Internet but that was because I was riding on Stanley’s coat tails and when he died lots more people looked me up, otherwise I think I wouldn’t be looked up that much. So that was good for sad reasons. It seems to have evened out. I sell at ‘Art in Action’, I sell to people who collect my work – overall I have sold a little over half my work. Of course, when I was young I sold them very cheap and I sold lots!

IB: Away from art, what makes you angry?
CK: The war in Iraq, but it’s not something I want to speak publicly about …

IB: What don’t you want to talk about when you’re asked for interviews?
CK: Some journalists are very clever and they surprise you. I hate that perplexed moment when you gush out the first thing that comes to your mind, or you are dumbfounded and you say nothing. Either way you look a fool.

IB: What sort of things?
CK: There were a lot questions about whether Stanley minded my being German – that kind of thing. People just assume that you’re a kiss and tell person – that’s insulting. I didn’t want to appear to be an idiot – it was that very thing that Stanley was afraid of with the press. He said that you do your very best, you work very hard and you only show the stuff you think is really good and then in an interview it’s undermined by nervous babble. He only wanted to talk about things he had considered carefully. He didn’t think he was quick witted enough to cope with intense interviews.

IB: Of course, you were married to Stanley and supported him. But what did you personally think of his films?
CK: I liked all his films, each one in its own way as they were very different from each other. As a painter I liked very much Barry Lyndon and 2001 – I liked the last one very much. Perhaps I felt the least connection with Full Metal Jacket where the topic was more alien, but I thought that was a good film as well.

So much time was spent on each one they represent whole periods of my life and I don’t have a favourite film. It depends on my mood at the time.

IB: He worked at home, though? So you were involved?
CK: He worked at home and prepared the film at home. It usually started when he read a story he really liked and he would talk about that particular story and how he could make it. Then, if it was really something he thought would work, he would make a budget and work out the casting. It took a long time to do it carefully and he enjoyed the preparation enormously. The driving force was a longing to see the story on screen.

IB: So you knew everything that was going on with his films while he was making them?
CK: Yes, because it happened at home.

IB: What did you learn from him?
CK: I learned from Stanley that you had to be thorough and patient, not self indulgent. He was good at putting different hats on. He was producer, business man, director. One instance I can remember was where he really liked a particularly long scene. He said “I think it’s particularly wonderful but it’s too long. It doesn’t help the whole enough for me to put it in.” And he whittled away at it. Often it was very painful to let go of something he thought was really good and he’d put it in, take it out, suffer in other words, but he also expected to do that. Paintings are slightly more protected because they will be there no matter what. The worst thing that could happen is I don’t sell but there are no other people pulled in, no one else suffers and the whole thing doesn’t collapse because I do a lousy painting. Film is different, it is so big and expensive. It needs ability and endurance to succeed, only a few people can do it, and Stanley did.

Val Reynolds Brown & Dave Reeder

1. Christiane Kubrick at her easel © Pintail Media
2. Remembering Stanley © Christiane Kubrick

** Died 1999

August 2011:
I met Christiane recently when she generously offered a copy of her book to give away to an In Balance reader

If you would like to enter the prize draw send an email to with Christiane Kubrick Paintings in the subject box and your full contact details in the text box.
Last day of entry 10 November 2011. One entry per household.


Jane Eyre – Major New Film – Giveaway Copies of Penguin Classic

Penguin Classic - Film tie-in

Penguin Classic - Film tie-in

The Penguin Classic Jane Eyre is the tie-in book for the major new film directed by Cary Fukunaga to be released next Friday, 9 September.

Starring Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell and Judi Dench it promises to be an exciting version of a wonderful story.

Orphaned Jane Eyre undergoes a baptism of fire – from suffering the cruelty of her coldhearted relatives to the harsh regime at a charity school. Emerging from these experiences a fiery heroine, Jane challenges inequality and the hypocrisy of her keepers. But the strictures of her upbringing are a thing apart when faced with her love for the brooding Mr Rochester and the secrets of his dark past.

Bronte’s controversial proto-feminist classic has had over eighteen film adaptations. Cary Fukunaga, the director of this 2011 versions, says ‘I’m a stickler for raw authenticity, so I’ve spent a lot of time rereading the book. Other adaptations treat it like it’s just a period romance, and I think it’s much more than that.’

Radical in its time for its depiction of women and its challenge to accepted class standards, Jane Eyre has attained enduring significance for combining these controversial issues with a classic love story.

Charlotte Bronte (1816-55) was the eldest sister of novelists Emily and Anne Bronte. Jane Eyre appeared in 1847 and was followed by Shirley (1848) and Villette (1853). In 1854 Charlotte Brontee married her father’s curate, Arther Bell Nicholls. She died on 31 March 1855 in Haworth, Yorkshire, and The Professor was posthumously published in 1857.

This is one of our all-time favourite books and are so looking forward to seeing the new film version.



We have three copies to give away to In Balance readers
To enter the draw send an email to with Jane Eyre – Cary Fukunaga’s new film in the subject box and your full contact details in the text box
Make sure your entry reaches us by latest 5 October 2011
Only one entry per household


London Sketchbook a pictorial guide book – Winners

We had six copies of this beautifully illustrated guide book to London to give away to readers of In Balance Magazine

The winners of the draw are:

G Coleman, Romford   S Collinge, Blackpool    A Baldan, Southend  V Fieth, Welwyn Garden City    K Krogulec, Nottingham     J O’Neill, Shepperton

Congratulations and good luck in the next Prize Draws.

Val Reynolds Brown, Editor


Interested in Gardening? Like some seeds?

Gazania Tiger Stripes

Gazania Tiger Stripes

I attended the annual Thompson & Morgan press event this week when we were shown 33 new flower seeds, 54 new vegetable seed introductions, many new young plants – including a massively flowered dahlia ideal for both borders and patio pots – and fruit plants … 2012 is going to be a great year!

I was impressed by the vegetable planting in containers, it’s amazing what they have grown in pouches – imagine a full grown courgette plant hanging on a wall or a post! Dwarf beans, the list goes on and all so easy to harvest. You can have a kitchen garden on your patio! There were good frame supports for patio containers so you could grow peas, mangetout, beans, whatever … Very exciting.

Growing beans in a pouch!

Growing beans in a pouch!

We were given numerous packets of seeds of the new introductions and as I have many duplicates I am happy to send them to our readers free of charge. Just send a stamped addressed envelope to

In Balance Magazine, 50 Parkway, Welwyn Garden City, Herts AL8 6HH

with either Veg or Flower, or both if you would like either, written on the back and we’ll forward them on a first come first served basis. You’ll have to be quick though!

Here are just some of the new flower and vegetable seeds that caught my eye and I will be trying next year. They will all be available online from September and in the Thompson & Morgan 2012 Autumn catalogue.

Lettuce Lettony – a ball of a lettuce, mildew resistant, sweet tasting
Herb Basil Crimson King, special trial price 99p a packet
Cucumber Crystal Apple – incredible taste, golfball size, absolutely no bitterness
Swiss Chard Fantasy F1 Hybrid – excellent taste, spring and summer harvesting
Tomato Bajaja – this is prolific plant, capable of producing up to 700 fruits! Small juicy red fruit 8-10 grams in weight No sideshoots Broad bean de Monica – looked fab and gives high yield
Courgette Sunstripe F1 Hybrid, eager to try this, has a good pedigree
Dwarf french bean Laguna – a new one to try, we love these beans

Calendula Fruit Twist

Calendula Fruit Twist

Calendula Fruit Twist – a range of citrus colours
Hollyhock Halo Mixed good against a wall
Poppy Pink Fizz – this is so pretty with its frilled petals and seeds are edible

Chrysanthemum Polar Star – strikingly attractive
Californian Poppy Peach Sorbet – gorgeous

Phlox Moody Blues

Phlox Moody Blues

Phlox Moody Blues – this will be a good filler for the borders

Some of the plants available include two really stunning verbascums, blue lagoon and Clementine – a gold blossom, they will look fabulous together. Do explore the plants T&M offer, there will be some real stunners for next year.

And the fruit … We were knocked out by the apricot and patio trees, and dare I say a new strawberry – Sweetheart. I tasted the fruit – excellent … Will have to have some of those. And the raspberry Valentina – unusual apricot pink coloured – heavy cropper,  upright canes, virtually spinefree, again must have some!

If you are keen on gardening and want some inspiration do try to get to the Open Days this weekend – open 10 to 4pm both Saturday and Sunday – I’m certain you will not be disappointed.

Val Reynolds Brown Editor is the website we write about the ongoing renovation and care of a front garden in a garden city

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