Waves of Well-being: it’s never too late to learn how to swim!

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Here at Aura Leisure and Libraries, we believe that it is truly never too late to learn how to swim. Swimming should be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of age and that is why we want to encourage anyone who has not yet learnt to swim to come along to our adult swimming classes.

Catering for beginners, as well as those who wish to improve their technique, our adult swimming classes at the Jade Jones Pavilion Flint aim to encourage water confidence and to support anyone seeking well-being through swimming. The class currently takes place every Wednesday from 9.30-10.30am. For more information, please contact Wes Billings by emailing: wes.billings@aura.wales

Physical Benefits

Swimming uses all the muscles in the body and exercising in water makes your body work harder. As a result, 30 minutes in a swimming pool is worth 45 minutes of the same activity on land. In other words, swimming is a full body workout!
Swimming is also one of the most effective ways to burn calories. A gentle swim can burn over 200 calories in just half an hour, more than double that of walking.

Water supports up to 90% of the body’s weight; if you sprained an ankle at a football or netball session, or have a long term injury or illness, swimming is a brilliant way to stay active and help you towards improved fitness levels.
Inactivity is often responsible for people’s lack of energy, yet just 30 minutes of swimming three times a week can help to increase your energy levels and boost your mood.

Well-being for the Body and the Mind

Not only is swimming a brilliant way to exercise, but it can also help you to maintain a positive and healthy outlook: just 30 minutes of swimming three times a week, alongside a balanced and healthy diet, can help both your body and your mind to stay fit and healthy.
Regular trips to the swimming pool can lower stress levels, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve your sleep pattern. The benefits are endless!

Why is swimming so important?

We asked one of our wonderful Swimming Coordinators, Wes Billings, why he feels so passionately about teaching children and adults to swim, he said: “Swimming is a life skill that no other sport or hobby can offer. Not only is swimming an excellent way of keeping a high level of physical fitness, but it can also support your personal well-being. Being around water can be intimidating or frightening for non-swimmers, but it is never too late to learn and we are here to help. We offer swimming lessons from new born babies to adults of any age and ability. Aura take pride in offering swimming lessons to everyone and supporting the community to learn an important life skill. Swimming is a very inclusive sport or hobby and I encourage everyone to take part in aquatics and enjoy the health and well-being benefits that come along with it.

For more information, please get in touch with Wes Billings by emailing wes.billings@aura.wales
We hope to see you soon!

The best autumnal reads recommended by Aura Libraries!

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We’ve compiled a reading list of perfect rainy day reads for you to delve into this autumn! All of the below titles are available either at our library branches (search our catalogue, here!) or via Borrowbox and can be searched for, here!

Autumn: An Anthology for the Changing Seasons by Melissa Harrison
Pine by Francine Toon
The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi
Grimm’s Fairy Stories by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Autumn by Ali Smith
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Let us know what you think of our reading recommendations or what books you would recommend! Find us on Facebook @LlyfrgelloeddAuraLibraries or Twitter @LibFlintshire

Aura Libraries’ Author of the Month: November 2020!

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Our November 2020 Author of the Month is: Zadie Smith!

There are so many wonderful ways to describe Zadie Smith’s fiction, and we could go on and on listing them! Instead, we will stick to just one word that pretty much sums up her writing: brilliant! If you don’t believe us, see for yourself and read any one of her novels or short stories! She is truly a brilliant writer and, without a shadow of a doubt, one of Britain’s most cherished and adored novelists. For this reason, we have decided to nominate Zadie Smith as the Aura Libraries November 2020 Author of the Month!

Whether you are discovering her books for the very first time, or revisiting some of her best known titles, we have put together a small reading list to set you off on a Zadie Smith adventure! Enjoy!

Where it all began…
White Teeth (2000) and The Autograph Man (2002)

The game changers…
On Beauty (2005) and Swing Time (2016)

More recently…
Grand Union (2019)

Audiobook and E-book available on Borrowbox

Aura Libraries top recommendation: The Embassy of Cambodia (2013)

We want to hear from you! What is your favourite Zadie Smith novel or short story? Let us know what you think of our choices! Leave a comment below or get in touch on Twitter (@LibFlintshire) and Facebook (@LlyfrgelloeddAuraLibraries)

Spooky Book Recommendations to enjoy this Halloween from Aura Libraries!

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With Halloween sneaking just around the corner, we here at Aura Libraries decided to put together a list of spooky reading recommendations for you to enjoy! From vicious vampires to ghastly ghosts – we’ve got your Halloween reads covered!

All of the titles chosen below are available to borrow on Borrowbox as either e-books or audiobooks! Click here to start browsing!

Let’s start with a couple of classics: none other than Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein! If you’ve already come across these titles before, we recommend trying out the audiobook versions this autumn!

Our next two recommendations have been adapted into T.V series’ recently: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and You by Caroline Kepnes. If you enjoyed either of these titles on screen, we recommend giving the books or audiobooks a go to see which you prefer! (We are in favour of the books, of course!)

For a classic ghost story, you can’t go wrong with The Turn of the Screw by Henry James and The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. Both of these books keep you hooked right until the end and are full of supernatural suspense: in other words, perfect choices for Halloween!

Next on our list we’ve got two more recent books that have been very popular: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager and The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James. We apologise in advance if these two recommendations put you off staying at a hotel/motel!

And lastly: for a creepy dystopian read, we recommend The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood which might not be full of ghosts and monsters in the traditional sense, but is certainly haunting and terrifying in its own way!

We want to hear from you! What is your favourite scary book? Share your spooky reading recommendations with us on social media! Find us on Facebook @LlyfrgelloeddAuraLibraries or Twitter @LibFlintshire

Happy Halloween and happy reading!

FAQs Issue No.3: (October 2020)

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Following the First Minister’s announcement on Monday, 19 October that all leisure centres and libraries in Wales will be required to close from 6:00 p.m. on Friday, 23 October until Monday, 9 November, Aura has developed some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) which we hope will make things clear regarding Aura’s services.

  1. Which buildings and services will be closed from 23 October until 9 November?

ALL of Aura’s leisure centres (including swimming pools) and library buildings will be closed to the public during this period. This includes the Mobile Library and the Home Delivery Service.

Our Libraries’ team will be contacting Home Delivery customers before Friday, 23 October to see if they require a ‘top up’ visit. We are also committed to continuing any community calls (via phone) that may have been scheduled for the period of closure.

The Connects offices, operated by Flintshire County Council, located in Buckley, Connah’s Quay and Mold Libraries will also be closed. Customers can access Connects services at the offices in Flint and Holywell, which will remain open.

  1. Will children’s outdoor play areas remain open?

Yes, all children’s play areas will remain open and accessible to the public. The benefits of outdoor play are significant and keeping play areas open supports children’s mental and physical health and well-being.

It’s great to see children and young people using our play areas but please play safely and take the time to read our Safety Notice here

  1. Which Aura library services will I be able to access during the two-week closure?

Library members are encouraged to access our comprehensive selection of online digital services. You can download e-books and audiobooks free of charge from Borrowbox and RBdigital to a PC, laptop or Mac. Alternatively, you can download the Borrowbox and RBdigital apps directly to your smartphone or tablet.

As you are currently unable to access physical newspapers and magazines in our library branches, we suggest members explore the hundreds of e-magazines and publications available to download for free via RBdigital or Pressreader.

To access most online resources you will need to enter your Library Membership Number and PIN. If you do not already have these, then you can join up as a member online via the Aura website for instant access. All links and further details about our digital library resources can be found here

Book lovers and book club fans are also encouraged to join our online ‘Reading Friends’ Shared Reading sessions via Zoom. If you are interested in joining our Zoom sessions, please email susannah.hill@aura.wales

Don’t worry if you currently have books out on loan. These will be automatically renewed. Please keep your books at home during this temporary closure.

  1. Which Aura leisure services will I be able to access during the two-week closure?

Aura has developed a brand new schedule of online fitness classes, delivered via Zoom, which you can join from the comfort of your own home.

This temporary online class programme is FREE of charge and will run throughout the period of closure only.

View the new online fitness class schedule here

To obtain the Zoom Meeting ID and Password please email info@aura.wales, Monday to Friday, between 8:30am -5:00pm.

Customers wishing to book into classes/sessions upon the re-opening of leisure centres on 9 November will be able to do so online from 2 November (7 days in advance as normal). You can book online here

  1. What will happen to the children’s swimming lessons course that started in October?

For those children booked onto the current course you will receive your due credit via a reduced payment in November. We will automatically amend your Direct Debit (if applicable) so you do not need to take any action.

For parents whose child is not on the current course but would like them to join swimming lessons after 9 November, and have not yet heard from us, please contact Aura via email at swim@aura.wales to arrange your child’s place.

  1. I paid my last monthly Direct Debit on 5 or 19 October and you closed the leisure centres from 23 October. What will happen to this payment as I haven’t received my full month’s value?

Direct Debit payments received in October would normally have been valid for the period 5 October to 4 November or 19 October to 18 November. As you know, Aura has temporarily closed its leisure centres from 23 October meaning customers have not received their full month’s credit.

All Direct Debit customers that paid in October will receive their due credit via a reduced payment on 5 or 19 November.

  1. I paid upfront via cash/card for one of the following memberships prior to the leisure centres closing on 23 October:

• Saver10
• NERS Saver16
• Monthly CASH

What will happen to the remaining days, weeks or months of time credit that apply to my membership?

In all circumstances, the previous expiry date will be extended to mirror the length of the period of closure for leisure centres.

And finally…
Please can we advise all customers to visit our website and to follow us on Twitter (@aura_wales) and Facebook (@walesaura) for further updates.

Aura’s Customer Services Team can be contacted at info@aura.wales or via telephone on 01352 704302 / 704316 (Mon – Fri, 8:30am -5:00pm).

At Home with Aura: Check out our Zoom Fitness Class Programme!

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Stay active at home with Aura’s Zoom Fitness classes! We have put together a brand new schedule of online fitness classes, delivered via Zoom, which you can join and enjoy from the comfort of your own home.

This temporary online class programme is FREE of charge and will run from Saturday 24 October until Monday 9 November.

To obtain the Zoom Meeting ID and Password please email info@aura.wales, Monday to Friday, between 8:30am -5:00pm.

the sessions are enjoyable and engaging and all in a relaxed manner to get the best out of participants, all with the goal of achieving a better fitness level.”

Fitness Class Participant

Keep in touch with us by following us on Twitter (@aura_wales) and Facebook (@walesaura). Stay safe and we look forward to seeing soon!

Digital library resources have provided ‘lifeline’ to Aura library member Gwyneth Goodwin

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Aura Libraries would like to share some very special feedback we received from a local Flintshire resident, Gwyneth Goodwin.

We were so delighted to hear from Gwyneth and hope that her story will inspire others to enjoy the free online library services available to them as an Aura library member. Here is what she had to say:

Dear Aura Team, my name is Gwyneth Goodwin and I am 76 years of age and suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. Over the years, I have had periods of time when pain and mobility problems prevented me from getting to the library – usually Buckley or Mold Library. I mentioned to one of the librarians at Buckley branch that health issues were sometimes affecting my ability to physically visit the library, she then offered to help me download the online library service. I have to say that this was one of the best things I have ever done in my life because in an instant I had a whole library in my own home and, in particular, access to hundreds of audio books. I do a lot of craftwork which I sell or donate to charity and therefore always use audiobooks: however clever you are, no-one can knit, crochet or sew and hold a book at the same time!

Whilst I did regularly use the online services, I still enjoyed my visits to Buckley and Mold libraries. Then came COVID-19 and life in lockdown where I spent almost six months in isolation as a ‘shielded’ person. I am widowed and my close family members live many hours away, so I spent much of that time on my own. I love my books – mostly crime/detective/thriller novels – and cannot possibly imagine just how I would have managed to get through the sometimes negative effects of isolation without the totally wonderful library service Aura provides: without any doubt, it has truly become a lifeline.

I have lost count of how many books have been beamed down onto my beloved iPad and I have found added pleasure in discovering many new authors such as: C J Box, R J Ellory, Jorn Lier Horst, Alex Howard and Val McDermid. At the moment I am making my way through the ‘Prey’ series of books by John Sandford with the main character being Lucas Davenport an American police detective.

Whilst I mainly only use the audio book facility, there are other choices on the system such as e-books, popular magazines and even comics! I would definitely recommend and encourage anyone who has access to the internet to download this marvellous system. It is simplicity itself to use and an absolute must for older people like me who might sometimes find they cannot get out and about, or who may do craftwork, or indeed those who may have eyesight impairment.

Living on my own, I can get through at least five audio books a month: I cannot imagine how I would have managed without the wonderful free access to the Welsh Library Service during this very difficult and scary time. Thank you so much.

The whole Aura team would like to thank Gwyneth for taking the time to send us such lovely feedback. We were touched by her love of reading and hope that many more people can benefit from their local library service.

Get To Know Your Customers Day: Meet Jean and Sharman!

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To celebrate Get to Know Your Customers Day, we got in touch with some of our wonderful gym members to find out more about their fitness goals and favourite ways to exercise.

We spoke to Jean Outwin and Sharman Smith who have been using Aura gyms together for the past 3 years. Over that time they have become “the best of friends”, as well as partners in crime in the gym! Here’s what they had to say:

Hello! My name is Jean: I am 77 years old and live in Mold. My friend Sharman (to most she is known as Babs!) is 67 and lives in Buckley. We met about three years ago whilst doing a stability class with Aura Instructors Dave and Jo. Since then we have continued to support each other in everything we do: we always encourage each other. It is so good to have a reliable gym buddy – we never let each other down.

We both attend a Zoom fitness class on Mondays, and the Wellbeing Walk on Thursdays, along with daily exercises that we can do at home that Dave has planned out for us. After our Zoom meeting we all meet up in a chat room to have a catch up.

At the moment, walking is our favourite way to exercise. Together, we decided that we would do the ‘Smart’ challenge that Dave suggested to us; we started this eight weeks ago and our aim was to increase the steps we did week by week. So far we have done really well we have increased our steps every single week. Having each other has helped us both tremendously: if we had been doing this on our own we may not have been so committed. Having a friend to exercise with definitely makes a difference.

When asked to describe their fitness instructors in three words, they said:

Inspiring, Caring and Loyal

Inspiring – the instructors are always encouraging us to do as much as our ability will allow us to do.
Caring – they make sure that we are always safe and able to do the tasks set before us.
Loyal – our instructors have not let us down once which we feel is a great testament to them.

Jean and Sharman very kindly praised Aura’s Instructors for their “help, encouragement and support”, saying: “We have been so lucky with our instructors Dave, Fraser and Gavin, who have helped us tremendously through the lockdown by providing Zoom classes and an opportunity for us to chat afterwards. We thank them also for making the Wellbeing Walks really enjoyable and giving us extra exercises that we are able to do at home on a daily basis. We can’t praise them enough for all the help they have given: not only to us but to the other people in our group.

Whilst keeping fit and reaching their ‘Smart’ fitness goal has been very important to Jean and Sharman, they agreed that the most valuable thing to come out participating in Aura fitness classes has been meeting new people: “Most of all we have found great friendship. Mixing with other people has been rewarding for us and we certainly would recommend it to anybody.

The whole Aura team has been inspired by Jean and Sharman’s friendship and is very pleased to have played a part in bringing them together to become the great friends they are today. We thank them for getting in touch with us and wish them the very best of luck in completing their ‘Smart’ fitness challenge!

Celebrate #LibrariesWeek with Aura Libraries!

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From 5- 10 October, Aura Libraries will be taking part in Libraries Week: an annual celebration of the importance of libraries. This year’s theme is ‘Discover a World of Reading’!

We will be sharing a poem a day, daily reading recommendations from colleagues across the whole Aura team, as well as information about our services and what your local library can do for you. We will also be sharing extra special rhyme time and story time videos on our social media and YouTube channel.

Library Service Manager, Susannah Hill, shared her excitement saying: “We are really delighted to be celebrating Libraries Week this year. We want people to ‘Discover a World of Reading’ with us and we have so many stories to share. Books can take you on incredible journeys, make you smile, and improve your well-being, as well as help you to learn. We would love for all our library members to share their favourite books with us and hope that everyone enjoys seeing some of ours too! Aura Libraries would like to be your passport to reading and we invite you to join us and explore the services and resources we have to offer.”

On 13 October, Aura Libraries will be hosting our very first online ‘Reading Friends’ shared reading session via Zoom and encourage all book lovers and book club fanatics to join us! Find out more about Reading Friends, here – and watch their fabulous video ‘Yarn, Natter, Blether’, here! To express your interest in joining our shared reading online session, please email susannah.hill@aura.wales

We would love to hear from you, our Aura Library members! Share photos and reading recommendations on our Facebook (@LlyfrgelloeddAuraLibraries) and Twitter (@LibFlintshire) with us and help our local community #DiscoverAWorldOfReading!

Happy #LibrariesWeek!


Happy National Poetry Day from Aura Libraries!

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October 1st 2020 marks #NationalPoetryDay: a day to celebrate the power of the written word and the joy it brings, especially during challenging times. That’s why this year’s theme of ‘vision’ is so important: in difficult times, we can always turn to poetry for vision and hope for a brighter future.

Aura Libraries have put together a list of some of our favourite poetry collections – available either online via Borrowbox, or within our libraries – for you to enjoy in celebration of this year’s #NationalPoetryDay.

Penguin’s Poems for Life selected by Laura Barber
Collected Poems by Carol Ann Duffy

Cyrraedd a Cherddi Eraill by Alan Llwyd
Cerddi’r Chwedlau edited by Mari George
Chwyn edited by Gruffudd Owen

R.S Thomas Uncollected Poems edited by Tony Brown and Jason Walford Davies
The Complete Poems of Dylan Thomas edited by John Goodby

Cerddi Ffiaidd by Roald Dahl
Poems to Perform by selected Julia Donaldson
Poems Aloud by Joseph Coelho and Daniel Gray-Barnett

Get involved on social media by using the #NationalPoetryDay hashtag, or by visiting the National Poetry Day website, here. Whichever way you choose to celebrate, we wish you a very happy Poetry Day!

We would love to hear from you! Share your favourite poems with us on Facebook (@LlyfrgelloeddAuraLibraries) and Twitter (@LibFlintshire)! Remember, as an Aura Library member you have access to e-books and audiobooks on Borrowbox and RBdigital! We also have our fantastic Select and Collect service, click here for more information. #UnitedByBooks