Marchwood Store Manager

Happy Leap Year! A few fun facts

It’s a well known fact that a Leap Year only comes around once every four years, but here are a few things you may not have known about February 29th.

Julius Caeser introduced the leap year

The former Roman dictator is believed to have been the first known person to introduce the leap year in 46 BCE – and who were we to disagree with him! Since calendar changes have taken place, some subsequent studies have shown Ceaser’s calculations were out slightly, and the leap year of February 29th, as we know it today, seems to have been set in the 1500s.

Without a leap year, we’d lose 24 days every 100 years

Yes it’s only one quarter of a day per year, but when you add it up it’s quite significant. Without the leap year, eventually, our seasons would change – and over a lifetime, it works out to be almost an additional month!

People born on a leap year are called Leaplings

More than 4 million people around the world are Leaplings and there is an international group called The Honor Society of Leap Year Babies which has over 10,000 members. Even though they can only celebrate an official birthday every 4 years, some leaplings chose to celebrate early on February 28th, with others opt for a day later on 1st March.

Olympics and Leap Years are always the same

The Summer Olympic Games are always held on a Leap Year – and the next ones are taking place this year!

And our final fun fact….

In a “normal” calendar year there are 525,600 minutes but on leap years, there are 527,040 minutes – giving us an extra 1,440 minutes in the year.

What will you do with your extra time?

Asparagus, prosciutto & Parmesan pasta

This elegant spaghetti dish is super-easy – and ready in just 20 minutes

  • Feeds 4Feeds 4
  • Ready in 20 minutes


  • 400g Co-op spaghetti 500g Co-op British asparagus, chopped into 4cm pieces
  • 80g pack Co-op prosciutto crudo, roughly torn
  • 5 tbsp Co-op olive oil
  • 90g Co-op Parmesan wedge, finely grated
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Zest of 1 lemon


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/Gas 6
  2. Cook the spaghetti according to the pack instructions
  3. While the pasta is cooking, put the asparagus on a roasting tray and nestle the prosciutto around it
  4. Drizzle with 1 tbsp of the olive oil, then roast until the prosciutto is crisp and the asparagus is tender — about 10 mins
  5. Drain the spaghetti, reserving 80ml of the cooking water, then return to the pan with the reserved water
  6. Add most of the Parmesan and the rest of the oil
  7. Beat until you have a silky sauce
  8. Stir in the parsley, lemon zest, asparagus and prosciutto, then serve sprinkled with the reserved cheese

Each serving contains

  • Energy 35%2932kj 699kcal
  • Fat High 43% 29.9g
  • Saturates High 45% 8.9g
  • Sugar Low 5% 4.9g
  • Salt Med 28% 1.69g

% of adult’s reference intake | Carbohydrates per serving : 76g

A flipping brilliant time!

Last week saw the highly anticipated annual pancake race in Brockenhurst – and we couldn’t wait to put our competitive pancake-flipping skills to the test!

People of all ages can take part in the contest and winning teams could get their hands on a highly coveted Gold, Silver or Bronze medal – which this year were made from a sustainable wood source (big tick from us!) provided by the event sponsors Friends of Brockenhurst.

Despite the damp weather, crowds gathered in Brookley Road, Brockenhurst to watch the races and cheered on their teams which contained several categories.

Of course, we’re not ones to turn down a challenge, so Welcome stores entered a team and came a highly respectable third place – and earned a bronze medal! We were behind the Balmer Lawn Hotel who retained their first-place position from last year, and the Daisy Bank Cottage Boutique Bed & Breakfast in second place.

The walking relay also did very well with the 50+ Club taking the gold medal and the Brockenhurst WI as runners-up.

We’d like to thank the organisers at Brockenhurst Parish Council’s events committee and the sponsors Friends of Brockenhurst – it was great success and really good fun!

You can now view all our photos from the day on our Facebook page here – don’t forget to give us a like a follow while you’re there!

Challenges, chilly weather and… chinchilla food – a glimpse into the Eastleigh Basics Bank

Welcome stores position themselves at the heart of the community – and we understand the part we have to play in giving back to those who shop with us and live and work around us.

Built on challenging times

One of the organisations we work with is the Eastleigh Basics Bank, which started in May 2011 after the Churches of Eastleigh, Bishopstoke and Fair Oak recognised there may be a shortage of essentials in the area following the 2008 crash. As the years went on, it has become apparent the need was far greater than they could have anticipated!

Since 2011, the church-led community foodbank and other basics project has constantly changed and adapted to whatever circumstances the community are facing. Right now, it’s the cost-of-living crisis that is pulling on the Eastleigh foodbank’s resources, but in previous years it’s been recessions and of course the pandemic.

Pre-covid, there was space and time to offer a cup of tea or coffee and someone to chat with clients, whilst they waited for their package to be made up. However, since covid and with the continued growth in demand they’ve had to use that space for ensuring food is packed ready for clients to collect as soon as they arrive. It is one of their top priorities over the coming year to find a way to offer that safe space to talk and have a coffee again as they believe it is as important as the food and essentials itself.

A community resource through and through

People need to be referred to the foodbank by partner agencies; housing associations, councils, social services, NHS, schools, churches and various local charities, many of whom have an ongoing connection with those they refer so understand their circumstances.

Eastleigh Basics Bank is very focused on meeting the physical needs of the community, but they very much see themselves as an emergency support, as opposed to dependency support. That’s why they operate a referral system, so that where possible they can also provide links to services locally that might help people with more long-term solutions to any challenges they might be facing.


There are several misconceptions surrounding foodbanks that might surprise you.

1. Tinned foods are not always right! At one point, Eastleigh Basics Bank were actually turning away donations of baked beans because they had more than they knew what to do with. They keep an up-to-date shopping list on their website – so if you are considering making a donation, check here first! You might have some of these lurking in your cupboards already.

2. A lot of people who use foodbanks are in full-time work. It’s a sad fact that costs have increased so much, many visitors that use the foodbank are successful in their careers but just don’t quite have enough left to feed themselves, however;

3. Many people rarely have to use a foodbank regularly. There’s a common misconception that people come back week after week and this is rare. In fact, Eastleigh Basics Bank is more likely to hear stories from people who come back to tell them how they’ve got back on their feet and are grateful for the help given when they’ve needed it.

Chilly weather… and chinchilla food?

As you’d expect, the busiest time of year at the foodbank is during the winter. Energy bills increase as lights go on for longer and we switch the heating on – and some people can struggle to cope.

Perhaps what you may not expect, is that feeding humans is a given – but people need to feed their pets too! Once, the Eastleigh Basics Bank was asked if they had any chinchilla food that they could have, but also, odd things are donated on occasion – so when they come in, they are put on a front table for people to help themselves to!

To donate to Eastleigh Basics Bank, you can do so using the PayPal link here, but you can also donate food at the collection points at your local Welcome store.

Lentil & vegetable soup with crispy carrot topper

With a hint of curry, this tasty soup is a super-quick option.

  • Feeds 4Feeds 4
  • Ready in 15 minutes


  • 300g leftover potato and carrot curry
  • 1 vegetable stock cube (from your storecupboard)
  • 300g leftover cooked lentils
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (from your storecupboard)
  • 1 carrot, peeled into ribbons with a veg peeler
  • Pinch of curry powder
  • Chopped coriander, to garnish (optional)


  1. Put the leftover curry into a blender with 200ml cold water and blitz until smooth
  2. Tip into a saucepan with an additional 500ml water and crumble over the stock cube
  3. Season with black pepper and bring to a simmer
  4. Add the lentils, reduce the heat and cook for 5 mins
  5. While the soup is cooking, heat the oil in a small nonstick frying pan and cook the carrot ribbons a few at a time over a high heat, for 1-2 mins, until golden at the edges
  6. Drain on kitchen paper
  7. While still hot, toss with a pinch of curry powder
  8. Divide the soup between bowls and top with the crispy carrot
  9. Serve garnished with chopped coriander, if you like

Each serving contains

  • Energy 8% 715kj 170kcal
  • Fat Low 6% 4.4g
  • Saturates Low 3% 0.5g
  • Sugar Low 4% 3.6g
  • Salt Med 11% 0.66g

% of adult’s reference intake | Carbohydrates per serving : 25