Thursday, 30 April 2015

Ferocious Dog review!

A blast of Mhairi's Wedding part 2 from the night:

Peake House

Not many people can claim that hundreds of couples have tied the knot in their living room or that their house was for decades a vital destination for thousands of West Berkshire residents.

Peake House closed its doors as a register office in November 2006, but almost ten years later, Clare and Jason Sheffield still regularly find people on their doorstep looking to register a newborn baby.

While most Newbury residents will have passed through its doors for a wedding or to register a birth or death, only a select few will have seen it since it was restored to its original use as a four bedroom private home.

The detached property on Newtown Road started life as a private home called Winton House in 1897 but was bought by the then Berkshire County Council in 1949.

The house was named after Harold Peake, who was chairman of the Berkshire County Council Elementary Education Sub-Committee and the county libraries committee and is best remembered for nearly four decades as honorary curator of Newbury’s museum.

The house is now owned by Clare Sheffield, a designer who runs S&T Design, her husband Jason and their two young daughters. Until they moved in four years ago, they lived just yards away from the property, never realising that one day it would be their dream home.

Clare is an award-winning designer who has worked with Crabtree & Evelyn, Fortnum and Mason and is the creative brains behind the branding of the Sainsbury’s Basics range. As she works from home, she needed a calm, light-filled studio to inspire her, combined with a family living area with a flexible and open plan layout.

Bringing the offices up-to-date and converting it into an elegant, contemporary house was not without its challenges though. Having spent so many years as council offices, there was a warren of rooms, suspended polystyrene ceilings, a thick vault door and woodchip wallpaper to contend with. Additionally, the original staircase had been mercilessly hacked in half and an ugly 1970s fire screen added across the top.

The couple worked with Kate Cooper of Absolute Architecture, an award-winning architect who specialises in residential properties, as well as friend and neighbour. Kate understood the family’s needs and the balance between retaining the house’s character while ensuring it worked for the Sheffields. As it had been used as office space for some years, she had to look beyond the faded carpets and plasterboard to visualise the spaces as domestic ones.

It was Kate too who found the property for the couple. She said: “I had a good feel of what they were looking for, so this house was actually only the third property we looked at.
When the site put up for sale by West Berkshire Council, various uses were suggested, including a GP or dentist surgery, a vets or a school. Plans were even submitted to convert it into two blocks of flats with no parking, but we knew it would be perfect as a family home as there was no need to extend; it just needed someone to see its potential and to make better use of the space.”

Clare was struck by the amount of natural light and the feeling of calm and fell in love with the property. The couple were so keen to start work that they stopped off on the way home from hospital after the birth of baby Harriette (now aged three) just before they took possession of the keys to have one final look before they moved in.

The office-like fa├žade with creepers has been replaced with a fresh “heritage grey” exterior and the room that hosted thousands of civil and marriage ceremonies is now their living room. The reception area and back office have been opened up and are now a dream kitchen with windows overlooking the child-friendly garden which was previously the office car park.

Kate added: “There was a balance in that you have to decide how far to go to reinstate the original features and proportions while understanding the flexible layouts and open plan way people live now.”

The very room where Kate herself had been interviewed at Peake House prior to her own marriage was converted into a spacious child’s bedroom, with fireplace reinstated and the neighbouring family bathroom is unrecognisable from its former use as a staff kitchenette and toilets.

Clare said: “It took tremendous skill from Kate. The back of the house is essentially a flat roof with extension added on by the council in the 1980s) and originally felt like a rabbit warren with toilets and interview rooms everywhere. She had to think about how to use this space and integrate it without it feeling like a bolt on.

“Kate understood our brief perfectly and wasn’t afraid to do things that might be considered unconventional such as transforming a room off one of the bedrooms and opening it up into the landing to make it expansive and full of light. It was so much more than just turning the building into a beautiful architectural space - Kate was interested in how we live and function.”

First appeared in Out and About magazine, free with the Newbury Weekly News (23rd April 2015)

Friday, 24 April 2015

Tips for making PR work for you.

Asa, who came to our PR session on Wednesday, kindly drafted this blog post based on our workshop!

More Royal mug coverage -many thanks Newbury Chronicle!


Thursday, 16 April 2015

After seeing our release on Gail Lummis' healthcare MOT system (here Jo from Country Child had a trial session and blogged about it here:!

Thank you Jo for the brilliant write-up!

Country Child is a beautiful magazine and well worth a read. If you are a blogger based in or near Wiltshire and would like to try it too, then please contact me via twitter @margaretmcdpr

#bloggerrequest #journorequest


The countdown to the birth of the second child of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge has begun with the launch of a limited edition commemorative mug.

Lynda Tillotson, from Bucklebury-based interior design and retail company L Interiors, has once again commissioned a mug to celebrate the royal birth and a percentage of the proceeds is being donated to West Berkshire Mencap.

And she hopes the new special keepsake, to commemorate the birth of the fourth in line to the throne, will generate the same global excitement of the first mug she commissioned for the birth of Prince George in 2013.

This time, it has been developed by renowned designer Juliet Travers, and made by Royal Staffordshire. Reflecting the acorn design on the first mug, 500 of which were sold to collectors worldwide, this mug also features the same Bucklebury-inspired motif.

The mug retails at £20 and will be on sale at L Interiors in Chapel Row, Bucklebury and also at Lynda Tillotson’s new shop L Maison which opens shortly in London’s Holland Park.

Lynda Tillotson said: “Here in Bucklebury, with just three or four weeks to go until the birth, we’re hoping to capture some of the excitement of last time. The mugs were delivered to every part of the world last time and were popular with Americans in particular.

“We’re delighted that this interest will also enable us to support a local charity. Leila Ferguson, CEO of West Berkshire Mencap bounced into the shop four years ago and suggested that I help to organise the charity’s race day. Since then, we’ve built a relationship with West Berkshire Mencap, and have looked around their centre and know what great work they do.”

Leila Ferguson from West Berkshire Mencap added: “We are delighted that Lynda Tillotson and L Interiors have chosen to support West Berkshire Mencap. What a great gift to remember the royal birth. Good luck to William and Kate and don’t forget to put your order in now before the commemorative mugs sell out.”

To order your exclusive royal mug please visit


1. The Royal mug
2. Leila Ferguson of West Berkshire Mencap (left) with Lynda Tillotson from L Interiors (right)with the Royal mug.

For more information, contact me via twitter! @margaretmcdpr

Wednesday, 15 April 2015


When you take your car into the garage, the technician in the workshop hooks the engine up to a system to see what’s wrong with the vehicle. There’s now a newly-upgraded system called The BioScan SRT (Stress Related Therapy) Wellness System that allows you to do the very same for your own body.

Developed in the US by Innovative Health Technologies, there are just six systems in existence in the UK, all owned by qualified practitioners. The non-invasive and FDA-cleared biofeedback device tracks the body’s meridian lines via two electrodes placed on the middle fingers.

The system identifies stresses on the body and how severe they are. An initial consultation provides a 100-point wellness inspection that gives an overview of the general state of your health and gives you the information required to change external factors such as diet and other stressors.

The practitioner can then delve down deeper into individual “folders” to get more detailed information about certain stresses. The BioScan SRT system is capable of detecting over 50,000 different stressors and also provides a non-invasive therapy using bioenergetic frequencies and LED light therapy through traditional acupuncture points to condition the body and effectively manage the stress so that you maintain your optimal health.

One of the few systems in the UK is used by Gail Lummis, a Wiltshire-based nutritionist. “We are exposing ourselves to more stress than ever”, she said. “Whether it’s financial stress, family pressures, environmental stressors such as hay fever or pollen, work-related stress or other types of stress, these all take a toll on our everyday health”.

Once the stressors are identified, the therapy sessions use the BioScan Corrective Focus Tool to transmit a series of bio-energetic frequencies, unique to each individual, back into the body, conditioning it to no longer react negatively when exposed to the stressors.

The system received an overhaul to bring it completely up-to-date at the end of 2014. Gail was introduced to a predecessor of the system in 1997 when she was faced with the prospect of surgery owing to an impacted bowel.

After nearly 20 years working in the city, stress and lifestyle had taken its toll on her health and weight. Gail, now aged 49, was four stone overweight, a drinker and smoker. When surgery was advised, plus a lifetime on medication, a colleague mentioned the MSAS System, she tried it out and was able to use the feedback to significantly change her diet and lifestyle.

She then swapped her corporate life for a career in helping people with their health and nutrition. She now runs a private complementary health practice using her nutritional knowledge and the help of the BioScan SRT.

She said: “I am living proof that health screening with optimum nutrition can enable anyone to take back responsibility for their own health and well-being. I am privileged to be able to help others on the route to a balanced and symptom free way of life and can offer nutritional therapies based on both clinical and naturopathic nutrition as well as Advanced Profile Health Screening on the BioScan SRT.”
Vikki Champion, a Berkshire-based photographer, was astonished at the level of detail that the procedure revealed; Gail was able to tell her that a year-old dog bite injury was still causing stress to the body and even that she had a wood burning stove.

She was able to identify that she was sensitive to certain foods and with Gail’s help, to replace them with more suitable foods in her diet.

Vikki said: “I had been conscious that I needed to sort out my irritable bowel syndrome and knew diet would be a big contributor. When I met Gail I instantly knew she was the right person to help get me back on track.

“I was feeling good about doing something positive for myself, and also somewhat apprehensive before my first appointment but I needn’t have worried – Gail was brilliant, calm and positive.

“Over the course of my four treatments, I learned what aggravated my body from an environmental and physical point of view, especially an intolerance to wheat and cows’ milk. Having changed my diet, I have more energy, my skin, nails and hair look great and I dropped ¾ of a stone without trying which was a nice bonus. I can’t thank Gail enough for helping me to make this change. She’s brilliant at what she does, very knowledgeable and attentive, and I feel I have a much better view of my own health.”

For more information, please visit


Are you a blogger or journalist? You’re invited to send a health journalist and a photographer to try the system “blind” ie without telling Gail anything about your health. To schedule your BioScan SRT 100-point Wellness Inspection, contact me via twitter @margaretmcdpr


Friday, 10 April 2015

Scotland Food and Drink