In focus: ‘Dear Mrs Bird’ book, ‘Ace the Gram’ podcast and other things we loved

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“In focus” is a fortnightly, online update on things that the focus team has loved. New places we have discovered, food we’ve enjoyed and events that have made us happy – here’s a glimpse into our lives in the past two weeks.

Dear Mrs Bird. A J Pearce

1940. It’s wartime London and the German planes have increased their nightly raids. Emmeline Lake is doing her bit for the war effort by volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services but dreams of becoming a war correspondent. When she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance but, through an unfortunate misunderstanding, Emmy finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of Woman’s Friend magazine.

Emmy is issued with an extensive list of “Topics That Will Not Be Published Or Responded To By Mrs Bird”. Letters containing any form of Unpleasantness will not be tolerated and must be thrown away. However, Emmy soon finds herself moved by her correspondents’ troubles and secretly begins to answer them.

Although readers have an inkling as to what the outcome might be, this book discusses themes of friendship, heartbreak and life during the war and reminds us of all the stoic women who volunteered and kept up a chipper and brave face in spite of the tragedy surrounding them. A great read over a wintry weekend.

Vitality Organics in Tauranga

The Mount’s long-time fav smoothie pitstop, Vitality Organics, now has a branch in Tauranga CBD! Try Maca Mocha with Shrooms, Reishi and Chaga Tea or any other elixir and superfood smoothie at Health Quarters (67 Willow Street).

No Bull Fuel Pop-up Cafe, that was renamed into Vitality Organics, will still have smiley Paige Renall making the best coffee and, don’t worry, the Real Rad Food raw balls aren’t going anywhere…you’ll simply have more menu options to choose from. Extra bonus – the outdoor seating area grew bigger! Will we see you there tomorrow?

Instagram: @vitality_organics_tauranga

Ace the Gram podcast

Ace the Gram by Viv Conway and Tash Meys. If you want to get your Instagram page buzzing, listen to these podcasts!

Vivien Conway and Natasha Meys are the brains behind Ace the Gram and are experienced Instagram growth and engagement specialists. Their services include consulting, online courses and social content creation. They have over 100k net followers on their personal Instagram accounts and have worked with clients across Australia, the US and New Zealand.

Website: acethegram.com

Kiwi Classics at the Orchard House Cafe

We love all the comforting winter foods around the Bay. A winter menu highlight at Orchard House Cafe (603 State Highway 2 RD3, Katikati) is Battered Fish of the Day. Moist and crunchy snapper or tarakihi, sometimes – gurnard, is served with fries, tartare sauce and a side salad.

The best part about the dish is the house-made 100% gluten-free beer batter. Orchard House uses Scott’s Gluten Free Pale Ale – which is made from alternatives to the traditional malt and barley mash and tastes amazing – so even those with Coeliac Disease or allergies can enjoy it!