Tag Archives: daffodils

Roundup: Motorcycles, Daffodils, Kelli O’Hara …

For 21 years, Stacie Curran and friends have ridden in the CT United Ride. The largest motorcycle ride in Connecticut pays tribute to the victims and first responders of 9/11.

Yesterday’s event took place on the actual date: September 11. Before the start at Sherwood Island, the group met at Stacie’s house:

The entire group — hundreds strong — gathered at the state park:

(Photo/Tom Lowrie)

Soon — with a police escort from several towns — they headed onto I-95. Their route of remembrance took them to Exit 17, Riverside Avenue, Wilton Road, and through 8 other Fairfield County towns.

(Photo copyright by Ted Horowitz)

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Every year, the arrival of spring in Westport is heralded by the “Daffodil Mile” — the long, winding rows of daffodils at Willowbrook Cemetery on Main Street.

Daffodil Mile, at Willowbrook Cemetery … (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

For the past few years, daffodils have also bloomed throughout the rest of Westport. On Prospect Road, in Saugatuck, in traffic islands everywhere, the week of yellow flowers brings smiles to Westporters sick and tired of snow and slush.

Greens Farms Road, at Prospect Road.

Those daffodils don’t just fall from the sky (to mix metaphors). They’re the product of plenty of planning — and planting.

“Paint the Town Yellow” is a project begun 4 years ago by Debra Kandrak. This fall — prime daffodil-planting time — she encourages everyone, of all ages, to plant “around our neighborhoods, around street signs, mailbox posts, in front of your business, in front of the Police and Fire Departments.” She’d love for schools to be involved too.

This year’s theme is “plant in memory of a loved one lost.”

The easiest way to plant, Debra says, is to dig a trench and pop the bulbs in (pointy side up). Costco sells 50 bulbs for $13.99.

After you plant, email the location to debra.kandrak@raveis.com. She’ll come around next spring, and take photos.

Which, of course, she will share with “06880.”

So get going. Spring is only 7 months away.

Daffodil bulbs from Costco. (Photo/Debra Kandrak)

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The New York Times says that this November’s Metropolitan Opera staged premiere of “The Hours” is “New York City’s opera event of the fall.”

In addition to renowned soprano Renée Fleming, it stars Kelli O’Hara. The Times calls the Westport resident “a Tony Award-decorated musical theater actress with opera bona fides (even at the Met, where she was a standout as Despina in Mozart’s ‘Così Fan Tutte’).”

That’s part of the intro to an interview published yesterday with Fleming, O’Hara and Joyce DiDonato.

Click here for the full (and very interesting) piece.

Kelli O’Hara (Photo/Thea Traff for New York Times)

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Every Staples High School reunion is a cause for celebration and remembrance.

COVID caused the Class of 1980 to wait an extra 2 years to gather for their 40th. But as they got together last month (and shook their heads that they’re all now 60 years old, or about to be) they turned their thoughts to classmate Susan Lloyd.

The popular, always-active native Westporter was diagnosed with cancer as a senior. She passed away while at Colgate University. Her parents and friends created the Susan Fund in her honor. For 4 decades, it has provided important educational scholarships to Fairfield County students diagnosed with cancer.

Ten years ago, the reunion class raised $2,300 for the Susan Fund. This year, they contributed $5,500.

Kelly Frey Pollard — Susan’s good friend, and a Susan Fund board member — created a beautiful display, with letters from classmates to Susan and her family during her battle with cancer. Classmates were encouraged to take their letters home, as mementoes.

Over 130 alumni attended the reunion. A 45th is planned for 2025 — with another contribution to the Susan Fund. To find out, more follow the “Staples Class 1980” Facebook page, or email Amy Potts: amy@aapk.com,

The Class of 1980 display, of cards and letters sent to Susan Lloyd.

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The Westport Woman’s Club big clothing tag sale is next month. They’re getting ready — which means, they need items to sell.

Tax-deductible donations of new or gently-worn women’s, men’s and children’s clothing, and accessories like shoes, handbags, scarves, hats and jewelry, can be dropped off weekdays (9 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 4 p.m.) at the WWC (44 Imperial Avenue).

Funds raised from this clothing tag sale support the town food closet, local charities throughout Fairfield County, and student scholarships.

The clothing tag sale is set for October 28-29 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and October 30 (noon to 3 p.m.). For more information, call 203-227-4240 or email  wwc@westportwomansclub.org.

Westport Woman’s Club tag sale.

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Longtime Westporter Geoffrey Hooper died last week. He was 87 years old.

He was born in Victoria, British Columbia. After serving in the Canadian Air Force he met his first wife, Jeannette Lauzon, and moved to Connecticut to work for his father-in-law at Stamford Typesetting Corporation. In 1976 he bought the company with a partner, Frank DeBartolo.

At Stamford Type Geoff was a force to be reckoned with as a typesetter, salesman, accountant, proofreader and generous employer. He loved taking clients out charter fishing from Old Saybrook, and delivering bags of bluefish fillets to clients and friends. As the business changed from linotype to computers to desktop publishing and scanning, he kept up with all the new technologies.

When his children were growing up in Westport, Geoff was active in the Westport Community Theater and other acting groups. 

After retiring in 2008 he spent most of his time at his favorite place: home. Geoff was a talented gardener who always grew too many seedlings, but was happy to share them with family and friends. He enjoyed reading, cooking, traveling, theatergoing, and the YMCA’s water aerobics classes.

He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Suzy; his brother Murray (Barbara); his children and their partners Debbie (Norman), Lynne (Gary), Geoff Jr. (Susan) and Kenneth (Kim); his grandchildren and great-grandchildren; his brother- and sister-in-law, Ken Solomon and Janice Lakey, and many other relatives and friends.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to a cause of your choice.

Geoff Hooper, in the water.

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Last March, 3 dolphins hung out for a few days in Bermuda Lagoon, by Saugatuck Shores.

Westport architect Peter Cadoux did not see them. In all his years has boating on Long Island Sound, in fact, he has not seen a single dolphin.

Yesterday he made up for that. Peter was awed by a pod of about 100 dolphins, cavorting a couple of miles off Smithtown Bay. That’s almost directly across the water from Westport.

Here’s a close-up, for today’s fascinating “Westport … Naturally” feature:

(Photos/Peter Cadoux)

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And finally … in honor of the pod of dolphins, last seen frolicking in Long Island Sound:

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(Without “06880,” would you know there were dolphins right off our coast? Please click here, to help us continue to bring you all the stories of where Westport meets the world.)

Roundup: Tyler Hicks, Jim Himes, Emil Gilmutdinov …

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First came Willowbrook Cemetery’s “Miracle Mile.” Then came Debra Kandrak’s town-wide planting project. Now, Westport has become the Daffodil Capital of — if not the world — at least the area.

Among the yellow beauties bringing joy to us all: 7,000 lining Prospect Road.

These were planted, thanks to Debra, to remind everyone about the issue of bullying. It’s just not cool — for victim or the bullies themselves.

Cindy Shumate — who had both a literal and figurative hand in the projects — says that anyone who has suffered from bullying, or knows a person who has, is welcome to clip a bouquet for themselves.

(Please take them only from the roadway in front of #11, 13, 21 and 25 Prospect Road, owned by Melissa and John Ceriale).

“It’s a small token to let someone know that they are safe with you, and to open a conversation if that someone is ready,” Cindy says.

Prospect Road connects Hillspoint Road with Greens Farms Road. It’s worth a drive even without clipping a daffodil bouquet!

Hillspoint Road daffodils (Photo/Cindy Shumate)

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As the Russian war in Ukraine grinds on, Tyler Hicks’ photos continue to illustrate the gruesome state of life and death there.

The 1991 Staples High School graduate’s latest work in the New York Times is from the village of Husarivka. The Pulitzer Prize winning photographer’s images illustrate a story about the depravity of Russian soldiers, as they harass, terrorize and kill farmers and their family members. Click here for the full story, and photos.

Lubov Dvoretska, 62, a biology teacher whose husband was killed in a bombing. Her neighbors buried his body in the garden behind their house. (Photo/Tyler Hicks for the New York Times)

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The Y’s Men attract an A-list of speakers for their Thursday meetings. Last week’s was particularly impressive and insightful.

Congressman Jim Himes offered thoughts on some of the major news stories, then answered questions on a broad array of topics.

Click below to see and hear Himes’ session. All that’s missing are the Y’s Mens’ famous coffee and donuts,

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Emil Gilmutdinov was born in Russia. He moved to New York in 2009. He worked in the food and beverage industry for nearly a decade, but lost his job during the pandemic.

That’s when he rediscovered his passion for drawing and painting. A self-taught artist working with both pencil and oil paint, he constantly experiments and hones his skills. His work includes both black-and-white graphic prints, and oils reflecting nature.

His first-ever solo exhibition is set for Steam, the coffee spot across from the Westport train station on Railroad Place. There’s an opening reception tonight (Monday, April 18, 6 to 9 p.m.).

Emil’s work is on display at Steam, for purchase, through June 12.

Pencil work by Emil Gilmutdinov.

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In a few days, this tree will be bursting with color.

Right now, it’s today’s “Westport … Naturally” featured photo.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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And finally … Happy Patriots’ Day, to our readers in Massachusetts and Maine.

The official state holiday commemorates the first battles of the Revolutionary War, at Lexington and Concord in 1775.

Pics Of The Day #1822

Every autumn for several years, Debra Kandrak has urged Westporters to plant daffodils.

Every fall, they do. And every spring, we reap the rewards.

Here are just a few of the many “new” daffodil gardens that surprise and delight us all.

Assumption Church

Bulkley Avenue North and Long Lots Road,

Bulkley Avenue South and Post Road

Placid Lake Lane, off North Avenue

Post Road, near Baker Graphics

In addition to urging Westporters to “paint the town yellow,” Debra Kandrak maintains a traffic island daffodil garden. This is at the corner of Greens Farms and Prospect Roads. (All photos/Debra Kandrak)

It’s That Time Again: Paint The Town Yellow!

It’s early October. Fall will soon hit full force, with a spectacular array of colors. It’s Westport’s most gorgeous time of year — rivaled only by spring, 6 months from now.

As the leaves turn, Debra Kandrak is thinking about daffodils.

It’s time, she says, to “paint the town yellow.”

Rotary at Church Lane and Myrtle Avenue (Photo/Dan Woog)

Kandrak is the woman behind the town’s 4th annual daffodil-planting project. Her efforts over the past 3 years have resulted in an explosion of flowers, from neighborhoods like Greens Farms to the Westport Library, Cribari Bridge, traffic island and the entrances to Staples High and Bedford Middle Schools.

Groups like the Westport Garden Club and National Charity League have helped. But Kandrak is the driving force, helping the project, um, flower.

Willowbrook Cemetery daffodils (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

This year’s theme is “In Memory of a Loved One Lost.” Kandrak encourages Westporters to plant flowers to honor those who died in the pandemic — or any other time.

Kandrak also hopes to plant a Memory Garden for Layla Malon, the young child killed last June. She is looking for ideas for an appropriate site.

Meanwhile, she urges Westporters to plant daffodils wherever they can. Sites include roadsides in front of homes, around mailboxes and street signs, in front of businesses, or anywhere else needing a pop of color.

(Photo/Scott Smith)

Kandrak’s goal is for Westport to have an annual Daffodil Festival, like Nantucket’s.

For now, please email debra.kandrak@raveis.com. Let her know where you’ve planted your flowers. Next spring — just 6 months from now — she’ll take a photo.

Sherwood Island Connector, at the Post Road. (Photos courtesy of Debra Kandrak)

Roundup: Ramadan, Michael Douglas, Daffodils …

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It’s a Ramadan tradition for Muslims to visit civil service offices, meet executive officers in person, and thank them for their contributions.

Yesterday, Feroz Virani, Adil Kassam and Tameeza Asaria — members of the Ismaili Muslim community — presented 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Police Chief Foti Koskinas and Fire Chief Robert Yost with a gift of appreciation.

At Town Hall …

… Police headquarters …

… and the fire station. (Photos courtesy of Town of Westport)

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Westport Republican Town Committee member Jim Campbell has tossed his hat in the ring: for chair of the Connecticut Republican Party.

A former chair of the Greenwich Republican Town Committee whose early and avid support of Donald Trump was chronicled in Evan Osnos’ New Yorker story “How Greenwich Republicans Learned to Love Trump,” Campbell is an executive with Frontier Communications.

Jim Campbell

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The cover story for AARP Magazine’s April/May issue is Michael Douglas.

In a long interview about his life and career, the 76-year-old actor mentions his teenage years in Westport:

I was into hot rods, tinkering with cars. I worked at a Mobil station at one point, and my first real award was Mobil Man of the Month. I was also a member of a group called the Downshifters. A little bit like the Jets in West Side Story: [sings] “When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way.”

I had a D.A. — when you’d comb your hair to look like a duck’s ass — the D.A., we called it. We were known to spend a little time locating automobiles that had parts that we wanted. Not proud about it, but it kept me out of a lot of other trouble.

Click here for the full interview.

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Scott Smith writes: “I can’t remember a prettier season for daffodils and forsythia. I read an New York Times article on tulips that suggested the snow cover this winter may have helped. I

“I don’t recall buying any type of daffodil with multiple blooms, though I know some such varieties exist. So when I spotted this pretty bloom in my yard, I wondered if I have some sort of self-evolved mutant. Anybody else around town have this sort of daffodil?”

Daffodil lovers: Click “Comments” to respond!

(Photo/Scott Smith)

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Speaking of blooms: The Westport Garden Club’s annual plant sale has a new venue: Jesup Green. The date is Friday, May 14 (9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.).

Also new this year: the option to pre-order plants online, for curbside pickup. The ordering page goes live May 1, at http://westportgardenclub.org.

Held annual since 1928 (except during World War II, and last year’s pandemic), the event features over 1,000 homegrown perennials from members’ own gardens, with a special section of Connecticut native plants. Club members will be on site, for advice. Each plant has a tag with care information too.

The Westport Book Shop — across Jesup Green — will offer a selection of garden books.

Proceeds from the sale — and the club’s booth at the Westport Museum for History & Culture’s May 1 Spring Market — support the club’s projects, including maintenance of local public gardens and parks. For more information, click here.

Getting ready for the sale.

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Westporter Melissa Bernstein has been very open about her lifelong battle with existential anguish and depression. LifeLines — the multimedia platform recently launched, in collaboration with Doug, her husband and fellow Melissa & Doug toy company founder — has gotten great publicity.

One of the most in-depth and powerful stories was just published in the Washington Post. Click here to read. (Hat tip: Marc Selverstone)

Melissa Bernstein reads her “LifeLines” book.

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Food insecurity and cancer are both difficult situations. Too often, they go together.

In honor of Mother’s Day, Pink Aid is helping struggling moms feed their families. With every the breast cancer support group will purchase food cards for women battling both breast cancer and financial hardship.

Pink Aid will send every donor’s mother a card acknowledging the meaningful gift. For every donation of $100 or more, they’ll send the donor (or donor’s mom) a reusable insulated grocery bag. Click here to donate.

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From the Cincinnati Reds to Greens Farms Academy. That’s the unusual career path for the private school’s new athletic director. Eric Lee — senior director of player development for the MLB team — begins his next job in early July. He replaces Tauni Butterfield, who is moving to North Carolina after 2 decades at the Beachside Avenue school.

Lee’s 8 years with the Reds includes stints at director of baseball operations and senior director of international operations. He played baseball at Haverford, where he earned a BA i political science. He then taught world history and coached coaches baseball at basketball at Hawaii Preparatory Academy before returning to Haverford as an assistant dean of students and assistant baseball coach. He also worked and coached at National Presbyterian School in Washington, DC — and earned a law degree from the University of Maryland.

Eric Lee

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And finally … on this day in 1965 Luciano Pavarotti mad his La Scala debut in Franco Zeffirelli’s production of “La Bohème.” Here he is, 21 years later:

Pics Of The Day #1464

Daffodils on the rotary at Church Lane and Myrtle Avenue … (Photo/Dan Woog)

… and trees behind Jesup Road (Photo/Bob Cooper)

Pic Of The Day #1453

Willowbrook Cemetery daffodils (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Daffodils Thrill

After last fall’s 2nd annual “Paint the Town Yellow” campaign, organizers were pleased.

All over Westporter, groups and individual gardeners had planted daffodils.

Now — as the bulbs sprout — they are really happy.

So are the rest of us — even those who don’t realize where so many beautiful flowers came from.

Prospect Road — with 7,000 daffodils — is particularly gorgeous. Melissa and John Ceriale invite anyone to clip a bouquet in front of #11, 13, 21 and 25, to give to someone who has been bullied — or stopped a bully. (Please take them from the road only — not the garden beyond the stone wall!)

Prospect Road

Also last fall, the National Charity League placed daffodils around the trees at the entrance to Staples High School.

Staples High School

Nearby, parents and children planted them in front of then Bedford Middle School entry drive too.

Bedford Middle School

The Westport Garden Club put daffodils around the Westport Library. “Paint the Town Yellow” organizer Debra Kandrak did the same in front of the pine trees along the William F. Cribari Bridge.

William F. Cribari Bridge

Other residents planted in front of their homes and around their neighborhood.

One Greens Farms scene …

… and another.

“Everywhere I drive, I see a burst of yellow. It makes me smile!” Debra says.

She wonders if one day Westport could have a Daffodil Festival.

Why not? It would sure make other towns green with envy.

Greens Farms Road, at Prospect …

… and the Sherwood Island Connector. (All photos/Debra Kandrak)

Paint The Town Yellow — Again!

Last fall, Debra Kandrak had an idea.

She wanted everyone in town to plant daffodils.

“Imagine driving through Westport and seeing thousands of daffodils around mailboxes, on the roadside, in front of stores,” she said. “It would be so pretty. And they can be in honor of loved ones, so they’re even more meaningful.”

She got commercial landlord David Waldman on board. Laurelrock and Northeast Horticulture, which maintain several traffic islands, joined in. So did the Westport Garden Club, town officials, businesses, and plenty of random Westporters.

A collage of daffodils.

As she drove around last spring — when the town was laid low by the coronavirus — Debra was heartened to see thousands of new daffodils.

The residents on Soundview Drive had planted hundreds of beautiful flowers along the beach exit road. Project Return planted them in front of their North Compo shelter. They sprouted in front of The Learning Community School on Hillspoint Road, at the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge, and at dozens of other spots, both public and private.

The Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge downtown.

Now, Debra announced the 2nd annual “Paint the Town Yellow” campaign. This year’s theme: Every daffodil represents a stand against bullying.

“Bullying destroys lives,” Debra says. “It chips away at someone’s self-esteem. As you plant flowers with your children, teach them empathy, not excess.

“Our country is in turmoil. Let Westport, show the world that we practice kindness, compassion and empathy. We can do this!”

Debra asks residents, committees, businesses and the town of Westport to plant daffodils “in front of your home, around the mailbox post, by street signs, at your store or office — everywhere!”

She would love to see schools get involved. (Parents can donate daffodils, she suggests).

Sherwood Island Connector, at the Post Road. (Photos courtesy of Debra Kandrak)

Last spring, when we desperately needed to be uplifted, daffodils did the trick. No one knows what this spring will bring.

Except many more daffodils.

(To contact Debra directly, email Debra.Kandrak@raveis.com)

COVID-19 Roundup: Daffodils; Pink Moon; Earthplace; Easter Egg Tree; Augmented Reality; More

Thanks to the wonderful, multi-talented Miggs Burroughs for the new “06880” logo above. It will grace every Roundup from here until there’s no more COVID news to report. Fingers crossed …

Speaking of masks, here’s what the well-dressed blogger should wear. Apparently I can now look like this even at the bank.


Eileen Ward — director of the Children’s Community Development Center — writes:

“A long long time ago, as children would say (but really only last fall), we planted 1,000 daffodil bulbs in the beds along Hillspoint Road, and our entrance in back.

“Our volunteers — along with hundreds of other people Westporters — decided to ‘paint the town yellow’ in memory of people we love, and to brighten our passings all over town.

“Now, in the most bittersweet of ways, they are blooming en masse. As I come and go, to and from an empty CCDC, I remember the families and children who helped make this beautiful scene possible — and I hope and hope some more.”

The project was conceived by Debra Kandrak. Other daffodil gardens can be seen by the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge downtown, the Sherwood Island Connector, Beachside Avenue, and Project Return.

Daffodils around town.


Rindy Higgins writes: “Calling all Westporters to go outside tonight at 8 p.m. and howl at the pink moon! If the Italians can sing from their balconies to connect during social distancing, we can howl to the moon as a way to reconnect with the human pack.

“Even if it’s cloudy, there’s still the biggest and brightest supermoon of 2020 in the sky. So let’s connect to nature and each other by howling tonight at 8!”


Lisa Power provides this update on the Norwalk Hospital meal train:

The goal is to get daily meals to every unit at Norwalk Hospital (20 people each), delivered by a restaurant. It’s a win-win: feeding hard-working medical personnel, while supporting local businesses.

Many restaurants are even providing discounts for donors. Click here for a list of participating restaurants (scroll down to “General Instructions,” and to donate. Restaurants interested in being listed should email lapower2014@gmail.com.


A special shout out to Food for the Front Line who have been amazing and feeding all units at Norwalk Hosptial on Mondays. I’m hoping this Meal Train will help fill the gap on those other days.

Earthplace now has its own YouTube channel. Features include animal videos, activities to do at home, and story time. Click here to see.


The coronavirus is taking a toll even on Stew Leonard’s. Departments are shutting early — the butchers now leave at 5 p.m. weekdays — and the entire store will be closed this Easter. That’s a first in the store’s history.


Easter services may be canceled, but one tradition lives on: Jalna Jaeger’s Easter Egg tree!

For the 13th year, the 1971 Staples High School graduate has decorated a large tree on her 3 East Avenue property in Norwalk (just down the hill from Stew Leonard’s) with hundreds of eggs.

Kids (of all ages) enjoy it. “We all need something cheerful these days,” Jalna says. She provides it!


Here’s a novel way to amuse yourself (and others), during the pandemic.

Westporter Steven Kranz is a founder of Strax Networks. The new company just launched “StraxAR.” It’s “augmented reality” — and all you need is a smartphone.

Take a video. Then digitally “stick it” to any item: a logo, a painting, a stop sign…

Take a look at this video:

Strax is offering any “06880” reader the chance to submit a video (45 seconds or less). It could be a special recipe, a do-it-yourself project, even a singing dog. They’ll “stick it” to the target of your choice. Your content will be available worldwide, to anyone who “Straxes” that target.

Send your video to support@straxnetworks.com. Their crew will turn it into an augmented reality experience. And — completing the circle — “06880” will feature some submissions here. (The Strax app is available through the App Store and Google Play.)

PS: If you’d like, your augmented reality experience can lead to the home page of a charity of your choice.


And finally, this one might be a springtime cliché. But — as Jalna says above — “we all need something cheerful these days.” We can always count on the Beatles for that.