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life! Saturday, January 3, 2009 In association with

The Gazette

in association with


FAMILIES: Pages 16/17

STARRY STARRY NIGHT Treat for dance fans

GARDENING: Pages 18/19

PLUS: SEVENDAYS Your full seven- Demons in his sights day TV & radio listings

Your complete guide the week’s televis to ion


hristian Cooke stars underworld drama in new If you don’t know Christian’s name (ITV1, tonight, Demons you might remember yet, 7.20pm) ancestry, which full of scary werewolf his face Donovan’s son and hideous baddies. hoodies in ITV’s ratings as Jason Dracula myth. is all tied up in the Beach. flop Echo complete with He plays demon “Rupert is my ITV is clearly enamoured hunter Luke Rutherford mentor, he is my to his face as a crooked beak attached (above), who and he teaches godfather the finds with the 22-yearold Yorkshire lad, Gladiolus Thrip villainous vampire episode one that out over the course of shows me ‘the me about the history and - who leads a career aged 10 who started his acting unsavoury characters. rabble of in the Van Helsinghe’s the last descendent our bat cave if stacks’, which is sort of filmed near his in Where The Heart Is, Like Spider Man, Christian explains: line. am and what you like. He tells me who I there’s a hint of Taking time out native Bradford. “The mystery the score is with romance in Demons. father’s death demons,’’ Christian the is uncovered and of his juggernaut that from playing the un-PC Although Luke might not realise accept his destiny he It’s not long before explains. it, his best friend Glenister turns is DC Gene Hunt, Phil and become a has to (Holliday Grainger) Luke has been hunter. It’s all demon introduced to kind of crazy, has feelings forRuby American calledup in Demons as an the “Ruby wants something but have to take a him. Mina Harker (also mysterious blind pianist leap of faith with you just tracks down his Rupert Galvin who to happen between them, it.’’ her way around above), who can feel but Luke’s far contemporary godson Luke in the stacks, and and far too focussed too naive London to tell him with the weapons provides on what he has him of his do as the last he needs. to Cue the entrance Van he doesn’t realise Helsing to realise it, so of Mackenzie Crook how Ruby is probably a YOURVIEW good thing at feels, which e-mail life@blackp this stage.’’

Saturday, January

3, 2009

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Adapted from the legendary comic choice strip, this classic action-adventureromance told by genre-twister Frank Miller is the story of a former rookie cop who returns mysteriously from the dead as the Spirit (Gabriel Macht) to fight crime in Central City. His arch-enemy, the Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson)is going to wipe out Spirit's beloved city as he pursues his own version of immortality while facing a bevy of beautiful women who either want to seduce, love or kill our masked crusader. Rating: Good spirits.


Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes star in Stephen Daldry's haunting period romance. It opens in post-World War II Germany, where ailing teenager Michael is ill with scarlet fever. Nursed to health by Hanna, he eventually recovers and decides to thank his benevolent caretaker in person. The pair quickly enter into a passionate yet clandestine affair until Hanna vanishes without a trace, leaving him heartbroken and despondent. A decade later he is a law student observing Nazi war crime trials - when Hanna enters into the courtroom and her past comes into focus. Rating: Winslet winner







Budge over Buffy here comes Harry Potter’s darkside. Mormon author Stephanie Meyer’s sanitised vampire tales have sold millions in printed firm and now look set to take the cinema by storm. It’s no sex please, we’re the undead, as Bella (Kristen Stewart) relocates to the drizzly town of Forks where she meets the Cullens, a family of vampires who can control their desire to feed on humans. She falls in love Edward Cullen (former Potter star Robert Pattinson) who has to fight his desire to bite. Rating: Toothless tale


Born into a laughter-less land the diminutive rodent Despereaux Tilling longs to one day become a noble figure among his people. Sometimes in order to realise their true destiny, heroes must first experience great hardship and when Despereaux fails to adhere to the rigid rules of his society, he is banished from his homeland and sets out on a series of adventures. Rating: Mouse trappings


Mo (Brendan Fraser) can summon characters and objects from books by reading aloud. He is nagged by Dustfinger (Paul Bettany), a fictional character who wants to go home and hunted by Capricorn (Andy Serkis) who wants to exploit Mo and his similarly talented daughter Meggie (Eliza Bennett) to evil ends. Based around Cornelia Funke’s cult children’s novel it has cast of familiar faces but is restricted by complicated ideas and the fact that characters from real books couldn’t be used because of copyright restrictions (and costs). Rating: Magical but messy


Based on a memoir by British author Danny Wallace, the story centres on a man who decides to change his life by saying yes to absolutely everything that comes his way leading him on a series of unexpected comedic adventures that turn his whole life upside-down. Jim Carrey stars as Carl Allen, a man who signs up for a selfhelp programme based on one simple principle: say yes to everything...and anything. At first it transforms his life in amazing and unexpected ways, but he soon discovers it can have its drawbacks. Rating: Carrey on trying

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A big budget romantic action-adventure set in northern Australia prior to World War II, centring on an English aristocrat (Nicole Kidman) who inherits a ranch the size of Maryland. When English cattle barons plot to take her land, she joins forces with a rough-hewn cattle driver (Hugh Jackman) to drive 2,000 cattle across hundreds of miles of the country’s most unforgiving land, only to still face the bombing of Darwin, Australia by the Japanese forcesr. Rating: Westerns go Oz

Keanu Reeves tops this adaptation of the seminal 1951 science fiction with this huge budget 20th Century Fox production. Scott Derrickson helms the story of an alien traveller, Klaatu (Reeves), who heads to Earth along with his bodyguard robot to deliver a warning of planetary destruction if the people of the world fail to bring peace to their civilizations. Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, and Kathy Bates co-starbut do special effects and star names make more impact than the original? Rating: Deja viewing


A children's fantasy concerning a hotel handyman who gradually begins to realize that the imaginative bedtime stories he tells his niece and nephew are beginning to manifest themselves in the real world. Adam Sandler is Skeeter Bronson, whose life is changed forever when the fictional tales he tells start to come true. He attempts to take advantage of the phenomenon, incorporating his own aspirations into one outlandish tale after another, but it's the kids' unexpected contributions that turn Skeeter's life upside down. Rating: Frothy fantasy



Blythe Duff

Samuel L Jackson and Scarlett Johansson talk about the fun they had playing an evil scientist and his sexy sidekick in new movie The Spirit

Blythe Duff was born in East Kilbride in 1962, and began her acting career in the theatre, before landing the role of Jackie Reid in Taggart in 1989. She has stayed with the detective drama ever since, and is now the longest-serving cast member. Away from the TV series, she continues to act on stage and will be touring with the play Be Near Me in the new year. Blythe is married with two teenage daughters.


amuel L Jackson is humming a little ditty and looks so happy with the world. The 60-year-old actor has plenty of reasons to be content. For a start, he’s sitting next to the ever-glamorous Scarlett Johansson and he’s just been honoured with a prestigious American Cinematheque Award for his contribution to movies. He’s very enthusiastic about his latest film role in the daringly comic-like film adaptation of Will Eisner’s The Spirit. Samuel plays The Octopus, a deeply disturbed scientist and master of the criminal underworld, while 24-year-old Scarlett is his sexy sidekick Silken Floss. It’s clear from the way the pair are so relaxed and chatty with each other that they forged a strong friendship on set. “We connected immediately and we just had a good time everyday. No matter what kind of time anyone else was having, we had a good time,” said Sam. The Spirit tells the story of Denny Colt (played by newcomer Gabriel Macht), a murdered cop who has come back to life as the masked crime fighter, The Spirit. He has just one goal in mind, keeping his beloved Central City safe from villains like The Octopus, but he still finds time for a string of beautiful women, who either want to love or kill him. With Sin City creator and director Frank Miller at the helm, Sam and Scarlett were given free rein to play around with their baddie image, particularly because their characters were only roughly sketched out in Will Eisner’s original 1940s comic. “Silken Floss was really only in a couple of the stories. She’s one of The Spirit’s many women, one of Eisner’s many women, and the character was really underdeveloped, so it was fun because we got to think of the backstory of this character who was smaller in the actual comic books,’’ Scarlett says. “My role in the comic was just a pair of gloves,’’ adds Sam, “so I had an opportunity to put flesh and blood to a pair of hands. “We realised we could kick The Octopus into another space with wigs and eye make-up and I think that helped create a really fun, memorable villain.’’ So what is the backstory to the two characters?


UNLIKELY PAIRING: Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L Jackson

Beauty and her beast “She’s a genius and he took her in and paid for her education, there’s no romantic or sexual relationship, he just really likes her and she is the one person who’s not really afraid of him. She kind of talks to him like he’s normal and he’s not,’’ says Sam, with an evil laugh. We’re used to seeing Sam tackling character-driven roles in films ranging from the career-defining Pulp Fiction to the 2006 thriller Snakes On A Plane. But it’s unusual to see Scarlett, who made her name through a mix of indie films and costume dramas like Girl With The Pearl Earring, in such a quirky role. The Octopus and Silken go through an



● Born in Washington and grew up in the segregated South, where he became interested in the civil rights movement. ● His role as hitman Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction that brought him to the world’s attention. ● He married actress Latanya Richardson in 1980 and the couple have a daughter, Zoe, who was born in 1982.

● Born in 1984 in New York to a Danish architect father and producer mother. Studied acting at the Professional Children’s School in Manhattan. ● Becam a rising star in 1998’s The Horse Whisperer alongside Robert Redford and Kristin Scott Thomas. ● L linked to a string of leading men, but surprised the world when she married actor Ryan Reynolds in September.


incredible number of costume changes - one minute they’re dressed as a samurai warrior and geisha and the next Scarlett’s in a very revealing nurse’s outfit with a curly white wig. “A lot of times you play a character like a journalist, for instance, and you don’t have the opportunity to be all costumed and glamorous and really play with different looks,’’ the actress explains. “I was really inspired by the golden age of Hollywood, by Lucille Ball and other actresses from the 40s. I wanted to play with that film noir look.!’’ Scarlett and Sam had plenty of time to develop their characters and even shared a trailer, so they could work or play together. The pair says The Spirit has a very dark, stylised look to it because Frank was determined to give it a comic book feel, where almost anything could happen. Next year Scarlett will be back on screen with Jennifer Aniston and Drew Barrymore in He’s Not That Into You, while Sam has just finished ‘torturing’ Michael Sheen in the thriller Unthinkable. But before then the pair will be celebrating the festive season at home in the States with their families - Sam with his wife of 28 years Latanya and their daughter Zoe - and Scarlett with her new husband, actor Ryan Reynolds. “Are you doing something fabulous? Have you got a party to invite me too?’’ Scarlett asks Sam, before they get lost in their plans. ● The Spirit was released in UK cinemas on New Year’s Day

If you had to be stuck in a lift with someone, who would it be? Billy Connolly. I’ve met him a few times, and he makes me laugh a lot even off screen. I like his humour and his warmth and I think he’d be entertaining enough to keep the time ticking over. What is your biggest fear? I don’t fear an awful lot, apart from something happening to my family. I don’t particularly like water either, as I can’t swim very well. We have a boat that my husband’s really into, and I enjoy it too, but the weather’s got to be perfect for me. If it’s a wee bit choppy or I feel in danger in anyway, shape or form, then I have a moment of panic. Once, we did have to turn round and come back because I thought ‘I can’t stand this, it’s not what I consider to be a good time.’ Do you have any superstitions? I just have stupid things that I try and do, just the old wives’ tales like not passing a knife to someone, but if it’s difficult or someone said ‘Don’t be so daft’, I’d let it go. I don’t have any rituals that I go through when I work though. If you could have only one song on your iPod, what would it be? The Al Green song Let’s Stay Together. Tina Turner has covered it and I don’t mind which version it is, I just really, really like that song and anytime it comes on it gives me a good feeling. What’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought, not including property? A hot tub. It’s brilliant to have that in Scotland, because you can pretend you’re not really having a rubbish summer and during the winter, it’s wonderful - that’s when it’s at its best. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? My dad was a very, very honest soul, and honesty is the best advice. I think if you try to be honest all your life you won’t do too many bad turns to folk. What’s your indulgence? Clothes. You know how mothers are supposed to say things like ‘You don’t need that, you’ve got plenty of those’? My mother would say ‘Oh, that’s fantastic, buy two and get them in different colours.’ She was so dapper and really cared about her appearance, and she’s left me with an appreciation of good fabric and good cuts, so that’s my indulgence. How environmentally friendly are you? It’s a bit incongruous, because I do the whole recycling and sorting thing, and I crack up at the kids to do it, but my husband is shocking for just



I met Will Smith at the premier of Hancock in London in the summer. It was awesome. I reached across the crowds to get his autograph for my girlfriend. He was very friendly – student Jonathan Saunders from Preston Have you ever got up close to someone famous. If so who and where? Let us have your claim to fame. e-mail life@

Saturday, January 3, 2009




Good end to melodic year


week may be a long time in politics, but a year in music is equal to an eternity. At this time of year, having had our ears well and truly deafened by Christmas carols and festive tunes, it’s hard to remember the new musical dawn of January 2007. Bookending the year, as always, is X Factor. As 2008 started, we’d just seen Leon Jackson crowned winner of the X Factor and take the Christmas No 1 spot, but where is he now? His album, released in October, flopped, and no date has been set for the full release of a follow-up single after the song could only limp in at No 32 on the iTunes chart. The poor Scot’s fortunes probably won’t improve as he’s been traded in for a younger model with a bigger and better voice. Expect to hear a lot more from his successor Alexandra Burke (main

picture), in due course. Moving on, January and February saw a raft of big releases from artists including Hot Chip, who unveiled Made In The Dark to rapturous reviews, hotly tipped singer Adele, who gave us 19, and British Sea Power, brought us their third effort Do You Like Rock Music? The latter two earned Mercury Prize nominations for their troubles, more of which later, and as spring arrived, so did Duffy (left). Young, hugely talented and blessed with soulful, retro voices, Duffy was pitched head-to-head by the music press with the aforementioned Adele. While the Londoner might have pipped her Welsh rival to the coveted BBC Sound Of 2008 and Critic’s Choice BRIT awards, the diminutive blonde emerged as the real star. Duffy’s debut collection has now sold more than four million copies worldwide, and is currently the biggest-selling album in the UK




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this year. She’s also the darling of America, and heads off to Australia and New Zealand in the New Year to complete her global takeover. February also saw Elbow release their fourth album, The Seldom Seen Kid. The Manchester band have been together for nearly 20 years, yet despite making beautiful, emotional music, have never quite received the publicity they deserve. That all changed in the months leading up to the Mercury Music Prize in September. Singer Guy Garvey had said how happy the band were to have been nominated, but no one really expected them to win with Radiohead, Estelle, Neon Neon and the mysterious dub-step artist Burial, who was the favourite, among the other nominees. Thankfully, the judges did the right thing and awarded Elbow the prestigious prize. June saw Coldplay and Chris Martin (right) release their long-awaited fourth album, the preposterously titled Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends. The new album, almost universally praised, saw the band bring in a new wardrobe for public appearances. They’ve since spent the remainder of the year dressed like extras from an Adam Ant video, but it hasn’t put fans off. Viva La Vida sold a whopping 125,000 copies on its first day. Compared with recent summers, this year’s festival season passed without much of a commotion, although the music at Glastonbury grabbed more headlines than the weather for a change. The addition of Jay-Z as a headliner split the crowd down the middle, with some proclaiming the American’s arrival a piece of scheduling genius. Others, including Oasis’s Noel Gallagher, thought hip hop and Glastonbury should never meet. Mr Beyonce Knowles turned out to be quite the performer, and in making his entrance on stage to Wonderwall, had the last word in the

argument. Things quietened down in September, although Madonna dropped in to London with her Sticky & Sweet tour. Critics marvelled at Madge’s physique, but behind the scenes things were not right, as we later found out. She and film-director husband Guy Ritchie announced their divorce not long after, with the Material Girl recently ordered to pay her ex-hubby somewhere in the region of 96 million dollars. What that amount equates to in pounds depends on which bank has crashed or been bailed out on the day you’re checking the exchange rates. Talking of financial crisis, the music industry seems to have bucked the trend a little , especially in the final quarter. Oasis and Keane released new albums in October and both achieved huge sales. Around 700,000 tickets for Oasis’ summer 2009 shows also sold out in record time. The Gallaghers didn’t hold to the record for long, however, as Take That’s resurrection gathered even more pace. Yes, Gary, Jason, Mark and Howard are, wait for it, back for good. The foursome released their album The Circus in December and sales have sailed past the one million mark. Fans bought up more than 600,000 tickets to their 2009 shows in a record shattering five hours. Rumours abound that Robbie Williams will rejoin the band this year, but that remains to be seen. Robbie is also linked with X Factor, with Simon Cowell apparently dead set on having the Angels singer replace Dannii Minogue on the judging panel. Finally, we reached Christmas and the ‘battle’ for the festive No 1 - won by X Factor winner Alexandra and her version of Hallelujah, although a backlash propelled the Jeff Buckley version and the Leonard Cohen original into the upper echelons of the charts. A fitting end to what’s been an unpredictable year. Let’s hope the industry stays in tune with the trends in 2009.

WHAT’SON Hotel’s Razzle Dazzle spectacular BLACKPOOL is set to step back in time and raise its glass to the days of the Dunkirk Spirit. The 40s Razzle Dazzle Experience raises its curtain on a live tribute to the greats of 1940s, including famous sons of Northern comedy with replications of George Formby, Frank Randle and Robb Wilton plus many more. A non-stop comedy extravaganza by Gerry George and Vince Powell, regarded as one of the Godfathers of British situation comedy, is set to commandeer the Savoy Hotel from tomorrow until January 9. This interactive show-within-a-show has authentic treatments of the life in the air raid shelters and of popular TV and BBC Radio shows from the 40s through to the 90s – which will be played-out across the hotel. The Savoy will be turned into a virtual TV set, resembling the early years of the burgeoning

BBC and Granada TV studios and ticket holders can be filmed alongside the cast as the comedy takes in spectators. Manchester-based, Royal TV award-winner Mike Blakeley and his crew will film the guests’ encounter with the cast, and the

video recording will be on the Internet. The production will mirror the early and most successful days of Sunday Night at the London Palladium in a five day and four evening comedy marathon and includes firstclass accommodation. In support will be Come Dancing with the ballroom dancing lessons, and the Best of British Variety contest with prizes, cabaret and talks about the stars from Vince Powell. There will also be a loyal reproduction of the BBC radio production of Have a Go and a tribute production of BBC Television’s longrunning surprise celebrity show This Is Your Life. Organisers say there has been a lot of interest with people coming hundreds of miles. ● Pictured: Gerry George as Capt Mainwaring (right), Viv the Spiv and George the 1940s copper)

Strictly stunner Stars from the show host glittering night at Tower Ballroom


ans of television’s blockbuster Strictly Come Dancing series and lovers of ballroom dancing have a chance to meet two stars from that show – including the partner of this year’s champion Tom Chambers. Series regular Ian Waite and Tom’s dance partner Camilla Dallerup (right) glide into town next Friday. Back by popular demand, resident Blackpool Tower Ballroom dance teachers Jason and Shemayne Parkinson are hosting and introducing another Night of Stars. With music from Chris Hopkins at the Wersi Louvre organ and the chance to meet Ian and Camilla it will be a night to remember for all fans of Strictly Come Dancing and ballroom dancing in general. There will also be a presentation dance from the Dance With Passion Juvenile and Junior formation teams. Camilla Dallerup is a British based Danish ballroom dancer who has been dancing from two when her mother took her to her first class. Camilla won the Danish Junior Championships at 12 and moved to England where she competed with Brendan Cole and in 2003 they were placed third in Latin American at the UK Closed Championships. In 2005 after the second series of Strictly Come Dancing Camilla co-hosted the CBBC show Dance Factory along with Nigel Clarke and Reggie Yates.

Camilla has appeared on all six series of Strictly Come Dancing and the break-up of her nine-year relationship with fiancé and dance partner Cole was publicised, owing to rumours that he had an affair with BBC News newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky who was his "Strictly" partner at the time. She won the show for the first time last month. Camilla is now dancing with fellow Strictly Come Dancing professional Ian Waite. They were placed second for Latin American at the 2005 UK Closed Championships. Ian started dancing aged 10, when his parents split up and his father decided to

take dance classes. At the time, Ian was in the school rugby and football teams and not interested in dancing at all but after taking his younger brother along to a Saturday morning dance class he was slowly enticed on to the dance floor. By the age of 14, he had won almost every competition that he entered. From there, he went on to the open circuit where he achieved international success by becoming the European Youth Latin American Champion. This started a 10 year partnership with Melanie Walker, with whom he competed all over the world. He turned professional in 1997 and partnered up with the former Latin American world champion, Inga Haas. After just nine months, they were runnersup in the British Professional Rising Stars. After five years studying in Holland he returned to his home town of Reading and by the summer of 2004 he had started to dance with Camilla. Their first competition was the International Championships at the Royal Albert Hall, where they made the semi final and in November of that year they made the final of the British National Dance Championships. By then he had also secured his place in the second series of Strictly Come Dancing and the rest, as they say, is history. Doors open 6pm. Show time 7pm.

Hall has a swinging start to 2009

THE Bridgewater Hall in Manchester opens the year with a flying start and a hat trick of major attractions. On Sunday at 3pm and 7.30pm the Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Ray McVay with vocalists Jan Messeder, Colin Anthony and Rosemary Squires plus special guests The Uptown Hall Gang, The Moonlight Serenaders and The Jumping Jack Jivers lindy-hopping duo will swing in the new year. All the Glenn Miller favourite arrangements such as Moonlight Serenade, In The Mood,

Adios, American Patrol, Little Brown Jug, Kalamazoo and St. Louis Blues March, will be included. Tickets are £17, £20, £23.50 and £27.50. On Wednesday at 7.30pm the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and London Voices team up under the baton of conductor Semyon Bychkov and will be joined by the Luciano Berio Sinfonia for Richard Strauss’ An Alpine Symphony Tickets are £10, £15, £20, £23 and £27.50 (under 25s all tickets £5).


On Friday and Saturday there’s a sneak preview of what’s heading to Blackpool Grand Theatre the following week. At 7.30pm on Friday and 3pm and 7.30pm on Saturday there is The Nutcracker by The Russian State Ballet and Orchestra of Siberia with Sergei Bobrov (artistic director) and Anatoly Tchepurnoi (music director and chief conductor). Tickets are – evening: £21.50,£27.50 and £31.50 and matinee: £19.50, £25.50 and £29.50.

DUKE’S DIARY Solution to stresses of the season


’m becoming so mellow that I might have to cut back on my intake of St John’s Wort. I’m just not stressed enough these days. Goodness knows I should be. Savings and shares have gone to pot, everyone’s job is on the line, pensions are in jeopardy, there’s tumbleweed blowing down town centre high streets and we’re taking bets on just which major retailers will be the next to go. I normally get a bit twitchy over the Christmas and New Year period wondering just how I’m going to fit all the extra shopping in alongside the demands of work and those invitations to meet people you haven’t seen since this time last year. I worry about getting the decorations up in time and taken down. This year, well, technically, last year, I started the gift shopping so early that by the time Christmas came I’d bought a couple of things twice because I’d forgotten I’d got them in the first place. I was also first out of Booths with a Christmas Tree and tomorrow it will be trashed. Not only that but I finally managed to rid myself of the temptation to buy packets of figs, nuts, dates and those sugar-coated, tooth-rotting orange and lemon slices. The only reason I ever did buy them was that Mother Dearest always used to. And I presume Grandma stocked up on them before her. And I’m willing to bet that none of us ever ate them. It’s taken me a while to get out of the mindset that things wouldn’t be the same without them. Well, they were. Granted they wouldn’t be the same without a nice bottle of single malt whisky to keep the winter chills at bay – but that’s another story. I also usually worry about whether what I’ve spent a fortune on, as a sensible shopper, is going to appear in the January sales at a fraction of the original price. But this year the January sales followed swiftly on from the December ones and I’m willing to bet that they will be followed by the February version. I doubt that for a while at least we’ll have to pay full price for pretty much anything. The sales usually stress me – all that pushing and shoving to get to what you want before everyone else does – but they’ve been on so long that everyone has been calm and surprisingly polite about the whole thing, probably due to exhaustion. Whether they’ll be quite as together when the bills start coming is another thing. Then of course there’s the gym. It’s that time of year again when there’s a surge of flabbies heading to the nearest health centre in the hope they can shed the surplus that has been piled on over the past few weeks before the holiday season heads their way. Well, I’ll be one of them but I’m under no illusion that I’ll come out any slimmer. The Only One told me cutting down on alcohol would help me lose weight. It hasn’t. In fact I’ve put weight on. He tells me my face is thinner. I point out my stomach is bigger. Maybe something has fallen from my head to my gut? Maybe it’s gravity? I just don’t care any more. I just wear bigger shirts and reach for the St John’s Wort.

Saturday, January 3, 2009




Tis the season to be drinking port PORT, like its other fortified brethren sherry and Madeira, has always had a bit of an image problem. But don’t let its ancient associations with elderly gents, cigars and gout put you off. Most of the port drunk in this country’s from Portugal’s beautiful Douro valley, where vines have been grown for more than 300 years. While white port makes a good summer aperitif, this time of year calls for the honeyed richness of its more mature cousins. The very best vintage ports - blended from the pick of the wines from the best vineyards and stored for at least 15 years - can be rather pricey, but there are plenty of pocket-friendly options. Port also makes an excellent gift, especially if you’re turning up at someone’s place for dinner and want to treat them to something to stash in their cellar. Play your cards right, and they might just crack it open on the spot. If you’re not a fan of Stilton, try your next glass of port with dark chocolate, dried fruit (I think figs are especially good) or Brazil nuts. While wine buffs are often seeking out new vineyards and the Next Big Thing, port fans can rely on trusted names familiar to generations of drinkers. They might not sound Portuguese, but names like Croft, Graham and Taylors are all reliable labels. Graham’s 1980 Vintage Port is one of the finest wines I’ve tasted this year but it’s hard to get hold of and costs upwards of £40 a bottle. Try your local wine merchant or if you’re keen to get your hands on one. The new 2003 Taylor’s Late Bottled Vintage, which is just about to appear in stores nationwide at £11.99 a bottle, is a nice introduction to port at a fraction of the cost. Taylor’s created this style for British palates, so it’s almost like getting a bespoke port at a bargain price. There’s no rule that you can’t look further afield Australia’s De Bortoli winery produces some excellent port thanks to some parcels of very old wines from the Barossa Valley and Rutherglen. EU regulations mean that they can’t label their aged tawny port accordingly, but look out for the deep golden Old Boys 21 Year Old (£18.99 at Oddbins). Single quinta written on a label means the port has been produced by one vineyard, rather than the work of many. Croft’s Quinta da Roeda 1997 (£17.99 at Threshers and Majestic) comes in a smart wooden crate, making it a nice gift. You can get away with spending less than a tenner (though, as always, you do get what you pay for). Look out for Fletcher’s Ten Year Old Tawny Port in Aldi stores for a cheap and cheerful £7.99. Croft Indulgence (£9.99 at Tesco) and Taylor’s First Estate (£8.99 at Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda ) are also good buys.



Thai By Night in Lytham is my favourite. The staff are lovely and they whip up an excellent vegetarian green curry! – Writer Mark Charlesworth from St Annes



ry this mouthwatering chicken with a touch of heat. It’s certain to be a family winner!


2 chicken supreme 2 tbls vinegar 1/4 cup vegetable oil 2 tbls Worcester sauce 1tbls clear honey 2 tbls English mustard 1 tbls chilli powder Salt and pepper


Combine all ingredients together,except


with Anthony Malone of the White Tower Restaurant, Blackpool

CHICKENDEVILS the chicken. Place chicken in marinade and leave overnight.

Remove chicken from marinade. Warm a little oil in a frying pan and brown chicken on both sides. Transfer to oven proof dish, place chicken, spoon over large spoonful of marinade and cover and place in the preheated oven 175c. for about 15-20 minutes. Transfer to plate and serve with plenty of mixed salad. To start: Vegetable broth with crusty bread To finish: Strawberry cheesecake To drink: Niersteiner Gutes Gomtal (John Brunner Rhine) To book: 346710


Italian delights from Jamie’s inspiration

GENNARO Contaldo, known as the man who put Jamie Oliver on the path to good food, has been cooking since he was eight. Even though he’s been living in the UK since 1969, the irrepressible Italian remains close to his Amalfi roots. Gennaro has recently collated dozens of his favourite recipes into a new book, Gennaro’s Italian Home Cooking (Headline, £20). It’s overflowing with mouthwatering ideas - from antipasto dishes like marinated sardines and tuna and ricotta crostini, to rustic dishes like hare with potatoes, apples and lemon or braised eel with peas and sage. There are plenty of options for dessert lovers too fancy a fruity tiramisu, or a decadent chocolate tart? Try his recipe for: Insalata Di Capesante E

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Funghi Misti, Scallop and Wild Mushroom salad (pictured). The combination of delicate scallops and wild mushrooms with the added kick of balsamic vinegar is wonderful and this makes a great starter for the Christmas meal. If you prefer a more tangy taste, Gennaro suggests adding more good quality balsamic vinegar - but only a few drops at a time.


Serves 12 12 scallops 10tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 2 garlic cloves, left whole 1 large ripe tomato, peeled, deseeded and cut into small cubes 180g wild mushrooms, thinly sliced salt and pepper, to taste 100ml white wine

4tbsp balsamic vinegar a handful of parsley, finely chopped rocket leaves, to serve


Rinse and open up the scallops with a knife: cut them away from the shell and set aside. Pour the olive oil into a large frying pan, add the garlic and stir-fry until it becomes golden. Discard the garlic. Add the tomato and mushrooms and stir-fry on a medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add the scallops and salt and pepper. Add the wine and continue to cook for 15 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and scallops from the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar and parsley. Arrange some rocket leaves on a large serving dish, or individual serving plates, and top with the scallops and mushrooms. Allow one scallop per person. Serve immediately.




by Jacqueline Morley

Salvatore’s, Newton



he credit crunch is likely to hit the restaurant trade even harder after Christmas, but determined to buck the trend is Salvatore’s. The Italian eating experience is alive and well in Newton-with-Scales - and having recently celebrated its third birthday, Salvatore’s enters 2009 boasting fresh ideas, a new management team and a new chef. Ristorante Salvatore’s is well established in Penwortham and a further sign of success will be signalled during January, traditionally the quietest period in the catering year, with the opening of a third venue - in Garstang. Salvatore’s certainly has found a winning formula at Newton, no doubt benefiting from being on the doorstep of Kirkham and from its prime position for passing trade on the main Blackpool road to Preston. It’s certainly a world away from its days as the Highgate pub and Wacky Warehouse though as you would expect, young families have not been forgotten. The transformed building has a spacious bar area, an open kitchen and a traditional brickbuilt, wood-fired pizza oven. The deceptive dining area, able to accommodate up to 130 diners, consists of elevated platforms which give the appearance of individually themed rooms, some more intimate, others screened, while a welcoming living gas fire proves a magnet during winter months. The menu message from unseen hosts Salvatore and Elizabeth is Il Mangiare Sano Health Eating - fresh quality ingredients, presented with flair, imagination and attention. There’s no shortage of choice - as well as a comprehensive Italian menu, there’s a fish menu and a blackboard of specials, as well as two and three course offers. Among the 20 starters were Pate Della Casa (£5.50), rich chicken liver pate served with toast and home made relish, Costolette di Maiale (£6.50) pork ribs in bbq sauce, Antipasto di Mare (£7.60, a mix of smoked salmon, prawns and crayfish and Fritto Misto Cosa Nostra (£6.95), fresh calamari rings and tiger prawns, deep fried and served with salad garnish and tartare sauce. I went for the option of any of the 17 tempting pasta dishes served as a starter (£6.20) and was more than happy with spaghetti carbonara, cooked with good juicy bite-size pieces of bacon, eggs and cream - rich as it should be but not overly so. My partner picked a favourite Fegatini di Pollo (£5.95) which proved to be a deep dish of fresh chicken livers pan fried with onions, that was almost a main course in itself. The livers were melt-in-the-mouth delicious as was the plentiful sauce, with a taste of chilli but not too overpowering. Main course options included a variety of 12 inch pizzas ranging in price from Margherita (£6.90) to a folded Calzone pizza (£8.95), Lasagne al Forno (£7.95) and Cannelloni Ripieni (£7.95) to risotto and pasta dishes, starting from £6.95. For meat-eaters there are seven chicken breast options plus a further 15 dishes including eye-catching Filletto Surf & Turf (£18.95), Aberdeen Angus fillet pan-fried with king prawns in a wine jus, garlic and a touch of fresh chilli, Costolette D’agnello (£14.95), tender rack of lamb finished with wild

FACTFILE Address: Blackpool Old Road, Newton, near Kirkham Telephone: (01772) 673231 Open: Daily from noon to 10pm/ Fri and Sat noon10.30pm/Sun noon-9.30pm Find out more on www.ristorante Parking: Own large parking Booking: Only peak times Disabled access: Good Cards: Most Children: Welcome Value for money: 8/10 Life rating: 8/10 mushrooms, wine, jus and cranberry sauce and Rosette di Maiale (£13.95). In a prime spot by the fireplace on a bitterly cold day, we were not well placed to watch the open kitchen entertainment of pizza making, so there was no hesitation in choosing Filletto Stroganoff (£16.95), cuts of fillet, pan-fried with mushrooms, onion, red wine, fresh cream and served with rice. First sight of the deep dish resulted in groans of ‘too much’.. but it was truly excellent. Ample strips of meat cooked to perfection and covered in a splendid sauce that soaked well through to the rice below. Across the table Arrosto D’Anatra (£14.95) roasted crispy Goosnargh duck, was a full, sliced breast with a coating of a sweet apple sauce which was accompanied by fresh vegetables and a separate dish of herb potatoes. We also shared a portion of chips (£2.70). The duck was moist and succulent, but


maybe a littler rarer would have been better. We accompanied the meal with palatable glasses of house red and white (£2.95) but dared not look at the separate sweets and coffee menu. Service was good and the staff friendly and attentive. The price for two - came to £52.95 If you are thinking of paying a visit, there are attractive two and three course meal deals. There’s also regular Friday night live entertainment, themed nights and class act tributes. The family Sunday fundays feature a magic show, fun and games, lucky bags, balloons and face paintings with children’s portions available from the main menu. When the winter is over, outdoor heated decking areas are popular for al fresco dining. Private functions can be catered for in the Italian suite which has its own bar, dance floor and access to the Italian garden.

Steve Singleton

ime to sniff out some credit crunchers for the new year. We don’t normally rave about rosé but it hits the spot after being sated on ripe reds and rich foods over the festive glut. Number one Argentinian brand Finca Las Moras has cheered us further with a half price offer on the Limited Edition range in the Co-op from Monday. Until January 25 all three wines, the summer fruited strawberry pink dry rosé, fresh and zesty Sauvignon Blanc, and medium bodied Shiraz, with plenty of red fruits and hint of pepper, are all down from £6.99 to the more palatable £3.49 Next, into Tesco, to snap up (from Thursday) Argentina Tesco Finest San Juan Shiraz and Guentota Chardonnay Viognier at £3.99 instead of £7.99. GuentotaIs a delicious off-dry white which is fabulous with lighter fare - seafood, cold meats and the like. Spend £1 more and bag some Ozzie delights, the excellent Rawnsley Cabernet Merlot and Chardonnay, both half price at £4.99. Australia Day is later this month and,Yellow Tail wines promise to bring a taste of Down Under to sun starved Brits. The 2008 vintages, £5.99 and widely available, seem set to brighten up the dreariest day. Try the golden Chardonnay, ripe peach and melon aromas, oak nuances, fresh palate, balanced acidity and tropical flavours, Asda, Tesco, Co-op and Booths. The Yellow Tail rosé is lighter, but luscious stuff, fresh strawberries, spicy notes, sweet red cherries, and light sparkle, with lively acidity, finely textured tannins and sweet finish, Tesco and Spar. TOP TIPPLE There’s a vibrant deep purple Shiraz, Kumkani full of ripe, bright Lanner Hill berried charm with Sauvignon spice, and Blanc ‘07 underlying earthy was notes, and a touch recently of vanilla to soften crowned the palate, Best Sainsbury’s, Asda, Sauvignon Tesco, Morrisons, Blanc in Somerfield and South Booths. Africa.It is Booths has cut a fantastic full prices until January bodied wine with ripe 24. Skip merrily past gooseberry flavours the discount and a crisp, lingering Blossom Hill and finish, but none of Lambrini and try the pungency of the these... Kiwi counterparts. Inycon Fiano Sicilia From Majestic, ‘07, southern Italy’s £11.99. classical grape, rich, complex, surprisingly fulsome and aromatic, £1.50 off at £3.99 If you like a rounder, more tropical style of Sauvignon, underpinned by citrus, sample Chile’s Valdivieso, again £1.50 off at £4.19. For a truly mouth filling palate blaster of aromatic varieties, Moscatel and Gewurztraminer, try Torres Vina Sol ‘07, all rose petals and lychees, and limes, £2 off at £4.49. Penfold’s Koonunga Hill Chardonnay and Shiraz Cabernet are worth a second glance at £2 off, too, down to £5.99.

Don’t forget to send your booze news, clubs, favourite finds, swigs and tips to jacqui.morley@blackpoolgazette.

Saturday, January 3, 2009





In a seemingly perfect American town, four women are suffering at the hands of their philandering husbands, cloying children, rascals of parents, and need to strive for middle-class perfection. Walker is a talented writer and artfully draws the reader into the worlds of her central characters. We soon discover that behind their polished, perfect demeanours lies a choice cacophony of prescription drugs, psycho-analysis, lust, abuse, and hope. Walker’s insight into the noughties equivalent of the Stepford Wives is very entertaining and her fictional town of Hunting Ridge, no place for a sane woman. Arrow, £6.99


THE LUCKY ONE Nicholas Sparks

While posted in Iraq, Logan Thibault comes across a seemingly innocent photo of an attractive young woman. He miraculously survives potentially fatal attacks and begins to wonder if the photo might be connected. On returning home, Thibault is haunted by memories of the war and decides to set out and find this woman. Meanwhile, unlucky-in-love Beth is more concerned with her husband’s ways and raising her child, than the possible arrival of a stranger. But her luck is about to change. Written with none of the cynicism of many modern love stories, this novel is utterly compellingr. Little Brown, £19.99


A round-up of English footballing history and despite the lack of analysis about why the England team is more likely to lose than win those big matches, it is a still a great read, and no doubt would be a terrific gift for any (English) football fan. Unlike similar sporting histories, Briggs does not direct his focus primarily on modern events. Rather, he keeps a broad perspective, with 180 pages of



footballing history before the reader has even reached 1966. Every chapter has authoritative, wellresearched and humorous accounts of the great and not-so-great games, tournaments, players and managers of the last 130 years. Quercus, £12.99


Chess, Box and Splinter Tuesday are , orphans. Chess Tuesday has a mysterious significance to the secret war being waged across parallel worlds, one arm of which requires the abduction of children by nefarious secret policemen. One thing stands out as distinctly Myers: the warning that “nobody really likes children. Apart from their parents. Sometimes.’’ This sense of being misunderstood and persecuted will doubtless appeal to younger readers, and the chases and conspiracies will probably grip them too Orion, £18.99


One Christmas Day, 40-year-old fashion makeover expert Annie Curtis decides to divorce her unfaithful house-husband, wannabe rock star Mark. It’s all very civilised – until Mark claims sole custody of Fluffy, their scruffy mongrel. Annis is outraged. The designer gloves are off. Penguin, £6.99


MacPherson (Val Kilmer) is badly wounded during a tour of duty in Iraq and returns home, where he descends into a morass of despair and self-loathing. When a member from the ill-fated patrol gets in touch and asks MacPherson to visit his Arizona ranch close to the Mexico border, the former Marine agrees and arrives to friend that his friend has vanished without a trace. When it transpires that a powerful businessman called Rhodes (Gary Cole) and his heavies may have had a hand in the friend’s disappearance, MacPherson rediscovers his fighting spirit and goes on the warpath. (Cert 15, 86 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, DVD £19.99, Action/Thriller)


Not to be confused with the recent Brendan Fraser film in 3D, this Sky One and Sci-Fi Channel mini-series adaptation of Jules Verne steps back in time to the late 1870s, when plucky anthropologist Jonathan Brock (Rick Schroder) agrees to help wife Martha Dennison (Victoria Pratt) track down her husband Edward (Peter Fonda), who

Fighting spirit of a veteran

disappeared during an expedition to the centre of the earth four years ago. As they descend into a wondrous realm, untouched by civilisation, Jonathan and Martha face Mother Nature at her most primitive and fearsome in a race against time to return to the surface. (Cert PG, 86 mins, Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK, DVD £15.99, Family/Action/Drama)


Compilation of short animations from the Walt Disney Studios archives, made between 1946 and 1956, including African Diary, A Cowboy Needs A Horse, The Flying Gauchito, Goliath II,


Grievance Of A Starmaker, In Dutch and Mickey Down Under. (Cert U, 52 mins, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, DVD £9.99, Family/Comedy)


On New Year’s Eve, a group of revellers waits expectantly for the bells to chime at a party on the roof of an abandoned skyscraper. Out of the blue, five of the party – Kathy (Georgia Mackenzie), Wade (Mark Wilson), Nicole (Julia Ballard), Pamela (Joanna Bobin) and Adam (Adam Rayner) – receive a text message inviting them to an exclusive shindig on the 27th floor of the building. The curious quintet heads for the specified location with gatecrashers Robert (Pascal


This deeply moving story about a Zulu pastor’s search for his son is a searing portrait of South Africa in the early part of the twentieth century. First published in 1948, months before apartheid was first introduced, the story remains fresh and immediate. Vintage Classics, £7.99


Moths by Karl Manders. I loved this rites of passage story about a little boy who lost his parents and was brought up by elderly relatives – marking administrator Yvonne Lawrence of Blackpool What was your last book, favourite read, or top DVD? e-mail

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Chris Helme

Matt Andersen

The nearest this New Brunswick choice guitarist and singer will be coming to Blackpool on his forthcoming UK tour is The Met at Bury but if he’s anything like as good on stage as he is on his debut full length studio album, it will be worth the journey. Recorded in the UK with Eric Clapton’s post Cream band it’s a fiery fusion of authentic sounding blues and solid rock. Try Lonesome Road . Matt Andersen Records


Recently seen and heard in Blackpool’s Blue Room the former lead singer with the legendary Seahorses and The Yards is going alone with spasmodic tour dates taking him through to mid February. Though he’s probably listened to one too many Tim Buckley tracks along the way, there is a real poignancy to his voice which fits with the melancholy stripped down approach of his music. Standout here is actually the Soledad Brothers song Lorali to which he brings an excellent blues flavour. Helme


This year is the 30th anniversary of Irving Berlin’s death and it’s just over 50 years since the classic Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Irving Berlin Songbook first set the template for vocal jazz and later won a Grammy. Her voice and these arrangements are still instantly recognisable and haven’t dated at all. This double CD brings together 31 original tracks plus seven bonus tracks released around the same period. Everything has been digitally remastered and could create a whole new fanbase. Jazz Manifesto


GAMESGEAR Bloom (Stephen Rea), his sexy and adulterous wife Molly (Angeline Ball) and struggling poet Stephen Dedalus (Hugh O’Conor), whose fortunes collide of on the streets of early 20th century Dublin. (Cert 18, 110 mins, Stoney Road, DVD £12.99, Drama)


Langdale) and Melanie (Annabelle Wallis). The seven fun-seekers discover they have been lured into a series of booby traps, laid by a psychopath. (Cert 18, 89 mins, Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK, DVD £12.99, Horror/Thriller)


Feature film of James Joyce’s comic “stream of consciousness’’ novel Ulysses, following the dalliances of frustrated Leopold

Recorded discreetly by an anonymous group called the Winterfilm Collective in 1971 in a Detroit hotel conference room, Winter Soldier is a shocking and sobering confessional by 100 Vietnam veterans about the crimes they committed and the atrocities they witnessed during the conflict. With the notorious My Lai massacre still fresh in their minds, the men present an unvarnished and raw vision of the horrors of war, stripped bare of spin and propaganda. (Cert E, 97 mins, Stoney Road, DVD £19.99, Documentary)


Based on the play by Ben

Jonson, Joseph L Mankiezwicz’s 1967 comical mystery ponders how far some people will go to get their greedy mitts on an inheritance. International playboy Cecil Fox (Rex Harrison) concocts an elaborate scheme to test his three old flames by pretending to be dying, then inviting the woman to visit him in his supposedly final hours to see their reaction. He hires actor William McFly (Cliff Robertson) to pose as his secretary to complete the charade. The three contenders – Merle (Edie Adams), Mrs Sheridan (Susan Hayward) and Princess Dominique (Capucine) – arrive at Cecil’s bedside to learn which of them will inherit his fortune but events take a sinister turn. (Cert PG, 126 mins, Optimum Classic, DVD £15.99, Drama/Comedy/Thriller)


It’s no understatement to say that GTA IV was the most eagerly anticipated title that the gaming world had ever seen, and no short, snappy review was ever going to do it justice. There’s no way you can sum up the amount of laugh-out-loud moments, adrenalin-fuelled car chases, ear-splitting shootouts and other jaw-dropping stand-out experiences that come choice bundled into the return to a living, breathing Liberty City. Everything about GTA IV oozes class and that all-important attention to detail, and there are few people who can dispute this is quite possibly the greatest videogame of all-time. 5/5 £49.99

✔ life!

LITTLE BIG PLANET WWE – UNFORGIVEN 2008 Let’s get ready to rumble in Cleveland Ohio as the three championships – WWE, World Heavyweight and ECW – are decided in so-called 20-minute scrambles, during which literally anyone could take home the prize. Shawn Michaels faces long-time rival Chris Jericho in the big grudge match alongside frenetic World Tag Team and Diva championships contests. (Cert 15, 178 mins, Silver Vision, DVD £17.99, Special Interest)


It can take a while for a new console to produce the kind of titles that you’ll look back on with huge affection when the next ‘next-generation’ is in full swing. Little Big Planet is absolutely one of those games for the PS3. Creative and incredibly addictive to play, either on your own or with friends, it’s an action game with a real difference. You can choose to build a world to share with other gamers or simply explore the adventures there on the disc but, either way, customising your sackman character is an absolute hoot and developing your own patch on the planet for others to come and see feels more like the game itself than an added extra, such as how other level editors often feel. This is unique, stunning and sets a new benchmark for PS3 games to beat and that could take some time. 5/5 £44.99


Xbox 360

With 5 million copies of the original Gears of War sold, it’s sequel had pretty big army boots to fill. As one of the most popular games in Xbox history, Gears re-defined shooter action with an incredible cover system and supreme co-operative play, and guess what - it’s just as good all over again! Continue as war hero Marcus Fenix, six months after


Stu Allan and Joey Riot

In case you haven’t recovered from the New Year parties, here’s a reminder that it’s 2009 – with another 52 weeks to love or loathe the thumping sounds of far harder edged dance than you’ll get in your church hall disco. Stu Allan is an instigator of the Hardcore genre, Joey Riot is one of the fastest rising DJ/producers and together they bring together 58 prime slices of their kind of music. The only official remix of Guru Josh project’s smash Infinity 2008 is as soft as it gets. EMI/Nukleuz



After being saturated with the usual festive musical tosh for far too many weeks it’s almost a crime that this latest release from the delightful Ms Rusby should be released pretty much too late to capitalise on most of this yuletide season. This is basically a collection of South Yorkshire Christmas Carols and seasonal songs performed in the time honoured style of touring carollers moving from venue to venue in a tradition dating back over 200 years. Her arrangements and voice as ever are impeccable. Pure Records

This is a re-launch for the seven piece Berlin Mississippi band who almost made their breakthrough with the Stallion Battalion album. That track kicks this collection off in fine style paving the way for their strange fusion of the disco pastiche of Electro 6 and the Elvis spoof revivals of The King. Take Britney’s Toxic or Outkast’s Hey Ya, shake in a little white trash country and pepper it with punk and you are part way to the whiskey and whimsy which inspires them. Excess Berlin

Kate Rusby


The Bosshoss

GREAT GAME: Grand Theft Auto IV the events of the original, there’s a new Locust threat from below. It looks absolutely stunning and the improved cover system now even allows you to use downed enemies as shields - much needed when you get a load of the psycho enemies you’ll encounter along the way, many of whom are thirsty for all new chainsaw duels - another highlight. Put simply, it’s about as intense and over-the-top a shooter adventure you’ll get, before you even get a chance to sample the superb online offerings, too. 5/5 £44.99


Pokemon, Super Mario Bros, Zelda and many more of your favourite Nintendo characters unite in one game to do battle with each other in a frenetic fighting extravaganza that takes the series one step further in terms of graphical excellence, superior sound and the all-round enjoyment to be had from what must rank as one of the best multiplayer experiences out there right now. A fabulous fighting combat system coupled with cracking power-ups and other items to improve your in-battle chances unleashes pure, unadulterated fun - and who can ask for more than that? Countless gameplay options ensure there’s never a shortage of new challenges to set yourself, but it’s the main multiplayer that really steals the show. 4/5 £34.99


MOST movie star websites are depressingly similar: a gallery of photos, a rarely-updated ‘news’ page, and probably a biography listing all the movies the star has appeared in. Sites like this aren’t usually very interesting. Jeff Bridges, most famous for his role as The Dude in The Big Lebowski, bucks that trend with style. It turns out that Jeff is quite an artist, and his sketches, paintings and drawings are used to bring the site to life. What’s more, he updates it frequently with notes, comics, and photos from his film shoots. A recent gallery shows behind-the-scenes snaps of the making of Iron Man. His site is at and is well worth an hour of your time, even if you’re not a movie buff.


■ Labyrinth - can you find your way through? ■ Classics - something to read on the train

Saturday, January 3, 2009

life! 11


o sooner is Christmas over the horizon than New Year arrives with all those potential resolutions.

Many of us will resolve to get slimmer, fitter, fulfil promises made in cards to ‘see you in 2009’, plan to join countless worthy clubs, be nicer to relatives we don’t like, and - crucially - strive to be happy. While all those pledges are fun to make, they’re incredibly easy to break, so before you somehow morph, Dr Who-style, into something different from the way you were in 2008, it could be worth taking some refreshingly honest hints and tips from Janet Street-Porter. At just past 60, this outspoken broadcaster and journalist, who took up the challenge of ‘I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here’, is happy in her own skin, has finally found a haircut she likes (most women’s ultimate dream), and accepts that no matter how hard she tries some people will hate her guts. And typically she has a novel approach to New Year resolutions. She says: “Frankly, instead of making New Year resolutions it’s far better to make a list of the things that you’re not going to do any more. You’ll not only find it easier to stick to but you’ll get more fun out of life.’’ Instead she says: “Just take a few hours on your own to make a plan for yourself. Decide what you are NOT going to do any more - the people you are not going to call back, the books you will never read, the relatives you can send to social Siberia!’’ And after that, she suggests, you could add the food you are not going to cook (and the cooks you’re not going to try to copy, from Nigella to Delia), the men you’re not going to wait on hand and foot any more, the clothes you’re not going to buy, the stuff you don’t need, and the boring job you’re not going to suffer any longer.” She’s decanted this wisdom for 2009 and other top tips into her witty self-help manual, Life’s Too F***ing Short (Quadrille, £7.99). She hopes it’s an antidote to all the advice we’re bombarded with daily from fashion and beauty experts through to celebrities on how to look and live perfectly. “The end result, after watching TV, reading magazines, and newspapers looking at all those celebrity tips and airbrushed perfection, is a feeling of utter exhaustion, a sense of confusion and inadequacy. Frankly, who needs it,’’ she says firmly. She suggests, that after that cull of unwanted activities and actions, you make only a daily list with no more than five or six things on it. “On a day-to-day basis, don’t make lists you can’t achieve. Don’t carry over more than a

BE RUTHLESS: Edit your address book

What not to do any more couple of things to the next day’s list. “Plan your time to make sure that every week you set aside a slot for stuff you want to do grow lettuce on the windowsill, go to evening classes, join a walking club, learn another language, learn to disco dance. Life’s too short to put off starting things. Even if you only do one and maybe find you don’t like it you’ll still feel better for trying. “Establish your own rules and stick to them.’’

COLD COMFORT WITH a spate of colds now sweeping the nation, there’s no better time to invest in preventative care. But don’t necessarily dive for powerful medicines that might leave you feeling groggy. There are plenty of good natural remedies on the market. We recommend Nelson’s Echinacea & Elderberry Spray, £7.50, from The original recipe dates back to 1870, and it should be taken at the first sign of feeling poorly or getting the sniffles. In fact, many people are now going retro to treat their health, following a trend for yesteryear and nostalgia. The concern about the over-use of antibiotics has prompted a surge of interest in homeopathy whose roots almost certainly stretch back prehistory but was put into rational system in the 18th century. Responding to the trend Nelsons and The

School of Homeopathy have linked up to produce a brand new Homeopathy First Aid Kit. It’s incredibly comprehensive and includes a set of 28 homeopathic medicines including popular remedies such as Belladonna, Chamomilla, Nux vomica and Arnica. Novices can learn from a course manual, a DVD featuring Misha Norland, the founder of The School of Homeopathy and two books Get Well Soon and Homeopathy and A Rational Choice in Medicine. The kit can be topped up or extended by using a set of discount vouchers, which can also be used to get reduced cost homeopathy classes. The Homeopathy First Aid Kit is available at a special launch price of £124.99 from Nelsons. Call: 020 7495 2404/

12 life! LOGON


● DIETS: Don’t resolve to start a crazy new diet. Cranky diets don’t work. “The only way to stay at the right (and I mean healthy) weight is to eat three times a day, never miss a meal and eat as slowly as you possibly can. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, limit pasta to once a week, red meat to only a couple of times a week

and drink plenty of water. ● GETTING FIT: She says: “I hate gyms life’s too short to fill up your diary with stuff you then feel bad about cancelling. Remember, every celebrity who says they spend two hours a day working out is lying through their teeth.’’ Instead, buy some small weights of up to three kilos each and a secondhand exercise bike. Get up half an hour early and cycle for 30 minutes as you watch the TV or listen to the radio, do arm curls with the weights at the same time. Walk as much as you can, at lunchtimes, get off the bus a stop early on the way to work even 30 minutes will do. ● FRIENDS MATTER: Ruthlessly analyse your address book - chuck out people you haven’t seen for two years. Start a new book and only put in the people you really want to see. “Make sure that, even though you only see real friends very occasionally, they realise they mean a lot to you. It might only be sending them a postcard every few months but don’t let a friendship wither to extinction.’’

MICHELLE’S RESOLUTIONS ACTRESS Michelle Collins, who played Cindy Beale in BBC’s Eastenders, reveals her New Year health and wellbeing resolutions. She says: “While I’m not a great believer in New Year’s resolutions as you only feel bad if you break them, I do want to give up coffee and stop biting my nails in 2009. “Although I have a pretty healthy lifestyle, coffee’s the one unhealthy temptation I find hard to resist. “Occasionally I detox completely but it’s always the smell of a cappuccino that breaks my willpower. “Last year I did manage to cut down to one cup a day but it was a real

struggle!’’ Michelle, 44, who has an 11-year-old daughter, says her nail biting habit began when she was 15, and she’s going to use nail gels to help her curb the nibbling. Her health regime includes walking, pilates classes, and a weekly session of weights with a trainer. “I drink loads of water, eat lots of dried fruit and goji berries, which contain lots of antioxidants.’’ Her remedies: Lemon and ginger herbal teas for her throat and voice and to relax her, Bach Flower Rescue remedy for nerves, as well as daily doses of Evening Primrose Oil, Vitamin C and Zinc.


Martine McCutcheon: She gets her glowing complexion with MAC Studio Fix Fluid, £18.60 (www.maccosmetic “To cheat a glow without getting messy with fake tan, I use MAC Studio Fix in a shade that’s slightly darker and more golden than my natural skin colour. Mix this with moisturiser and then blend it over your face, decolletage and hands.’’

Davina McCall: This star buy is a moisturiser all the family can use Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion, £4.99. “My son Chester has eczema and this helps. The whole family can use it. If I’m running around and need to moisturise, I grab that.’’


beautiful stars may have hair and make-up artists on hand to transform them for the red carpet, but what about the products they just can’t live

without day-to-day? It’s time to take a peek inside the stars’ make-up bags to discover their favourite beauty buy and celebrity secrets.

Emilia Fox: She accentuates those gorgeous big eyes with Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes, £18.50 (01932 233 824) “Wow, that mascara is the best I have ever tried. It gives every lash the attention it deserves from corner to tip and no clogging at all.”


BEAUTY TIP Holly Willoughby: Her scintillating smile lights up TV screens and she reckons she owes it to Benefit’s Her Glossiness, £13 ( “I always have lip balm and lip gloss. I hate getting cracked lips in winter. I love Benefit’s Her Glossiness ‘Life on the A-list’.’’


Myleen Klass: That glossy hair (seen left) is all down to Pantene Volume & Body Shampoo and Conditioner, £1.89 each. “It’s phenomenal - my hair is poker straight and this really puts that extra lift into it.’’

Star favourites h to be a fly on the wall inside a celebrity’s bathroom cabinet to get the real beauty buzz. Showbiz’s most

Emma Harris, Gazette health writer and qualified gym instructor, with her weekly look at staying healthy

You know the saying, you are what you eat? Follow that advice! Eat foods that are healthy and you will have a healthy body. Plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet will show through in your healthy, glowing skin – Sue Simpson, Blackpoolbased beauty expert Let us have your beauty tip. e-mail


CAN you tell me what core stability is and why it is important? Core stability is the ability to keep the body in correct alignment and stable while moving the limbs. It comes from the deep stabilising muscles of the trunk, which help keep the pelvic girdle and the lumbar spine stabilised and where they should be to help the body function efficiently. It’s important for balance, coordination, maximisation of power and to keep a good posture and help prevent injury. The first step to core stability training is to locate the neutral spine position. This can be done standing against a wall, with your heels and bottom touching the wall. Tip your pelvis forward to create a hollow in the small of your back and you should be able to easily put your hand and even part of your arm through the gap. Tuck it under pressing the back against the wall and you should find you can only get your fingers in behind the small of your back. Find a position somewhere in between where you can get some of your hand behind the small of your back but no further than about the wrist. That is the neutral spine position. When performing core stability exercises, the trick is to keep a neutral spine at all times. Exercises to help with core stability include the plank, side plank, supermans and lying leg lifts. Always try to draw your belly button in towards your spine to keep the abdominals tight and support the lower back.


Are you trying to lose weight but find yourself constantly craving something sweet around 4pm? Well, why not try some cacao nibs? They are the rawest form of chocolate and originate from the cacao tree in South America. According to nutritionists, they are extremely high in antioxidants and their strong, bitter taste will give you a real buzz, perking you up but stopping you from craving fatty, processed chocolate.


Alesha Dixon: Her hair care of choice is Frederic Fekkai hair products (above), from £15 ( “I love Frederic Fekkai products, they really help to keep my hair soft and shiny. I use everything from the Shea Butter Moisturising Shampoo and Conditioner to the Ironless Straightening Balm and Ultra Light Finishing Cream.’’

The number of men who have died from skin cancer in the UK has topped 1,000 a year, which is a rise of nearly a third in the last decade. According to experts, the main reason for this is that men fail to check their skin for changes. Melanomas are the most fatal form of skin cancer and can occur anywhere. The main risk is sunburn, so take care to cover up when you are outside and if you do take your shirt off slap on that sunscreen.


You might not be a big fan of the dark, but sleeping in too light a room could be affecting your sleep. According to experts, darkness helps to trigger and balance the sleep hormones serotonin and melatonin. So invest in some thick curtains to block out the light and you’ll sleep much better.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

life! 13

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FASHION&STYLE Weekend wrap: Ideal for weekends, when you want a warm and casual look, this Next black long embellished cardigan is £90

GOODBUYS Mountain boy: Boy’s ski pant £10, ski jacket £15, ski gloves £4, hat and glove set £7 all from Matalan

Snow queen: Ladies boarding jacket, £25, ski pant £20 from Matalan

The cold busters T

here’s no business like snow business. If you and your family are heading off to the slopes this winter you will be scouting around for high-performance clothing to keep you warm and dry.

In-vestment: Invest in thermal underwear to ward of the chill. The thermal lace trimmed ribbed camisole is £16 from Marks & Spencer


COSY TOES: Indulge your feet with these cosy Cranberry Heatable Feet Hugs, RRP £18, from The Body Shop. Filled with fragrant cranberries and flaxseed, they can be heated up in the microwave in a matter of seconds and are the perfect present for anyone who wants to ward off those winter chills! MAGNETIC LIFT: Fed up with the economic doom and gloom and post-festive blues then pop on a magnetic bracelet to lift your spirits and renew your energy levels, giving you that extra boost to and look glamorous too! This gorgeous Magnetic Haematite Bracelets, £16.95, not only looks good but does you good too. From or 0845 130 5110

Cosy feet: Don’t forget your footsies. Ladies blue tube socks, four-pack, from Tesco Elevation ski range, £20

Snow boot: Sheepskin Ugg boots are just the ticket on the slopes. Aqualamb Sheepskin Ugg Boots from Cornish company Celtic Sheepskin stood up to rigorous testing recently by a customer in Lapland – where temperatures were roughly 20 degrees below zero! £150 from

Enjoy window shopping with life! in our weekly guide to tempting offers

Winter warmer: Warm in the snow, in the mountains or on the flat Fylde coast, the ivory angel down gilet is £35 from Lands End. or 0845 0123456

NEW YEAR BARGAIN: Cowshed is running some gorgeous offers online and in-store over the next month with 50% off Pampering Gift Sets, Filthy Uplifting Soap Sets and Filthy Soothing Soap Sets. Plus get a free Spa Skincare Set (Hydrating Moisteriser/ Cleanser/ Toner 30mls) with purchase of two Cowshed products (one being a Spa product)!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

life! 15


In association with Blackpool Tower


For your week ahead Shrewsbury, ● birthplace of Charles Darwin

(right), is ready to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of its most famous son throughout 2009. As a result, visitors to the county-town will be able to follow in the footsteps of a person famously labelled as "the greatest man of his century" thanks to a calendar of events which includes: the launch of a 'Darwin Trail' featuring new circular way-markers in the pavements; scheduled guided walks in the company of town guides; talks and lectures during the Darwin Festival in February, and later in the year; heritage re-enactments featuring actors in period costumes; and special events to mark Darwin's birth, baptism, and return to Shrewsbury following his voyage on The Beagle. The new, self-guided Darwin Trail, meanwhile, has been unveiled. Clearly outlined in a new leaflet, which will be available free-of-charge from the Tourist Information Centre, it also links-in with seven brand new circular pavement plaques, designed by Ivan Williams. Both the plaques and the leaflet have been sponsored by Royal Mail, who will launch a set of stamps in 2009 to mark the anniversary. Copies of Shrewsbury's 2009 Visitor Guide, and additional tourist information is available by telephoning 01743-281200. Or, visit

What would it have been like to take part in a Medieval battle and how far could you shoot a bow and arrow? Families should find these questions answered at the Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds. Hit or ring (0113) 220 1985 for details. The concept of interactive museums is challenged at the 15th century Staircase House, arguably one of England’s oldest and best restored merchant’s houses. The Stockport attraction has been laid out, as it would have been across the centuries and visitors are invited to take part in re-living its history. Hit or ring (0161) 480 1460 for details. Take a special cruise on an Ullswater ● ‘Steamer’ to make the most of the breathtaking frosty lake scenery. Their Winter

Wonderland package combines a relaxing trip on Ullswater in one of their heritage steamers, with a delicious lunch in the atmospheric Medieval Hall of Dalemain Historic House. Click onto An exhibition of Edward Chambré Hardman’s ● images of people, places and influences of Liverpool is currently on show at the city’s

Victoria Gallery and Museum until the end of the month. Hardman was a photographer of unrivalled quality in Liverpool who specialised in portrait and pictorial landscape photography. His photography business in Liverpool flourished in the 1920s to 1960s at a time when Liverpool was influencing the world with its industrial, commercial and maritime activities In partnership with the National Trust, and as part of Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture celebrations, this special exhibition offers a window onto Liverpool life as it was in the middle years of the last century, as captured through Hardman’s unique images. The Victoria Gallery and Museum G&M is situated at the top of Brownlow Hill in the Victoria Building, with its distinctive red-brick and clock tower. It is a short walk from the city centre.

STUNT FUN: One of the exciting displays at the National Motorcycle Show

Biker’s paradise


here’s a feast of motorbiking fun on its way to Manchester at the annual National Motorcycle Show which opens on Friday. Always popular with motorcycle enthusiasts and families alike the National Motorcycle Show offers visitors a combination of exhibition stands, and an incredible line up of stunt shows. Stars of the show are the new 2009 motorcycles, with the latest models on show from local dealers, so if you’re shopping for a new Honda Fireblade, Yamaha R1 or just a Suzuki Address scooter, you’ll find plenty of chrome-plated temptation at the show. Don’t forget to shop for a top value helmet, boots, clothing or accessories too. Providing the high octane entertainment is an ‘extreme’ lineup of stunt shows


including the awesome Extreme Globe Riders arriving all the way from Finland. Heidi and Mikko ride their bikes inside a steel globe, reaching 5G and speeds of up to 70mph, travelling upside down and criss-crossing each other. Making a welcomed return is show favourites Xtreme Trials; great family entertainment with uncanny balancing skills and a touch of comedy, all on offer from Dan Clark and Martin Crosswaite. Riders who want to improve their skills can take advantage of the free assessments by Stockport School of Motorcycling, who will be just outside

Central Hall. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been riding bikes, there’s always something you can gain from a ride-out like this. From new 2009 bikes, Classic Corner, commuter scooters and wild choppers, lowriders and trikes in the Custom & Extreme Performance Zone - Manchester’s National Motorbike Show really does have it all. National Motorcycle Show takes place at Manchester Central on Friday. The show is open on Friday 11.30am5.30pm and 10am-5pm on Saturday and Sunday, January 10-11. Adult admission on the door is £12, with Seniors and children under 16s admission £6. Advance booking discounts are available, call 0844 338 8000. For further information visit

Visitor hopes for town’s oriental temple plan IT is famous for its pier, pies and mintballs, but Wigan could soon also be celebrated for a massive Chinese temple. In a bid to attract more family visitors, the town’s huge Chinese textiles hub project may soon include an ornate Shaolin Buddhist temple – the largest of its kind outside China. It is thought the temple would attract hundreds of thousands of people a year. An outline concept for the Wigan Chinese

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Temple project has been put forward by the Lee Kai Hung Foundation, a charity founded in 1992 to help Chinese students studying in Britain, on behalf of the North West Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The temple site could include hotel and retail facilities and an educational and cultural centre. Specialist consultants are doing a feasibility study and the project is backed by the North West Development Agency

and Wigan council, which view it as a big tourist and heritage opportunity for the North West. The temple is seen as an important potential aid to understanding and building links between Britain and China. China’s Shaolin Monastery was made famous by the 1970s cult film series Kung Fu. Dating from AD496, it is the only temple in China combining martial arts and Zen Buddhism.

Island has so much nature on show

FYLDE nature lovers should consider making the short haul hop across the Irish Sea in they want to do some serious wildlife spotting. For the Isle of Man is proving a world class destination for rare wildlife sightings, on a scale unrivalled across Britain. A pod of more than 150 Bottle-nosed Dolphins were spotted during December frolicking near the coast, the biggest single group seen off the Island since records began. Enthusiasts are encouraged to take a trip to see these stunning creatures in the wild. Visitors can also take a leisurely boat trip to view the Island's seal colonies or watch them from the comfort of the Sound Café, overlooking the ‘Calf Sound’ a truly dramatic stretch of tide-rip in which the seals play effortlessly. Flocks of rare waxwings have also recently been spotted on the Isle of Man. The

exotic-looking birds occasionally visit the British Isles; however this large scale influx was caused by the failure of berry crops in their native Scandinavia. The Isle of Man's stunning coastal environment is home to over twice as many Hen Harriers as England, and bird watchers travel from around the world to watch these beautiful animals coming to a communal roost at dusk on winter

evenings in the Island's RAMSAR site, an internationally important wetland habitat. This site, the Ballaugh Curragh, is also home to a sizeable population of Rednecked Wallabies, descended from animals that escaped from the nearby Wildlife Park, itself well worth a visit. A weekend spent on the Island, in habitats that range from heather-clad moors, through wooded river valleys, dramatic cliffs, long sandy beaches and secluded coves, provides plenty of opportunities to see over 80 species of bird, as well as the chance for the occasional rarity. In winter, almost any clifftop walk should be rewarded with great views of Chough, over 150 pairs of which nest on the Island. So layer up, pull on your wellies and see what the Isle of Man has to offer for wildlife lovers this winter. More information on the Isle of Man is available at:


CLASS PARENTS: Parents have a few days left to do their homework. With the start of new term imminent, it’s best to get your kids to try on their uniform to see if it still fits. Children grow in a flash and there is nothing worse than finding out that their clothes don’t fit on the day they are due back in class. Adams kids have schoolwear all year round. This mid blue crew neck sweatshirt is from £5, also available in red, pleat front trousers in grey from £8, ( standard or longer leg), pilot school shirt from £5, tank top in a range of colours from £6; combat school trousers in grey from £9 (standard & longer leg).


Parents alerted to obesity issue

RECOVERED: An American bank note retrieved from the wreck at the bottom of the Atlantic is among the new exhibits

Titanic treasures


ascinating personal belongings salvaged from the wreck of the Titanic have gone on display at the Merseyside Maritime Museum. The new exhibits are a wrist watch, spectacles, a White Star Line cup, lead ventilation grill, a gold wristwatch, five tie pins and a five dollar banknote. When the Titanic sank on 15 April 1912, with the loss of 1,500 lives, she broke up as she plunged down into the depths. The bow and stern sections of the wreck lie 1,970 ft apart surrounded by debris scattered far and wide - 2.5 miles down on the ocean floor. Numerous expeditions have been down to the wreck since Dr Bob Ballard first


discovered it in 1985 after an exhaustive search. The Titanic’s salvors later presented the above items to the Liverpool and London Steamship Protection and Indemnity Association which has loaned them to the museum. The Association - based in Water Street, Liverpool, at the time - settled compensation claims from crew and passengers in the traumatic aftermath of the liner’s sinking. It was founded in 1881 by legendary White Star chief Thomas


Ismay with other steamship owners from the two ports. Dr Alan Scarth, curator of the Titanic exhibition, says: “These objects are very evocative of the most famous shipwreck of all time. The personal items are particularly moving because they represent the terrible human cost of the disaster.” The new exhibits are currently on display in the museum’s Titanic, Lusitania and the Forgotten Empress exhibition. The Merseyside Maritime Museum is to be found at Albert Dock, Liverpool. Admission FREE. Open 10am-5pm every day. Information 0151 478 4499 Website

WEIGHTY PROBLEM: A massive effort is required to alert parents to the risk of their children growing up obese, Health Secretary Alan Johnson has warned. Although it’s estimated that 90 per cent of youngsters will be at risk of obesity-induced illness by 2050, research has found most parents are blind to the reality. Almost nine out of 10 fail to recognise that their children are overweight or obese. Johnson has announced plans for a nationwide ‘lifestyle revolution’ as part of the Government’s Change4Life programme, which will include healthy food promotions and free swimming for the under 16s and over 60s. Johnson said: “The message we received from parents was clear: we recognise that obesity is a big problem, but it’s not our problem’’. But whose problem is it to get the parents of obese children to take any notice of the Change4Life initiative? BOY TROUBLE Nearly half of people think boys are more trouble and harder to parent, according to new research. A total of 49 per cent of those questioned in the UK said boys were more challenging children. The poll was commissioned by the British Association For Adoption and Fostering, which is concerned that negative perceptions could lead to boys waiting longer to be adopted. But perhaps those negative perceptions will persist until stories about boys using knives on other boys stop hitting the headlines.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

life! 17

OUTDOORS WEEKEND CHORES ● Cover soil needed for early sowings with cloches to warm it. ● Ventilate lettuce under cloches or in frames regularly and only water occasionally, avoiding splashing the foliage. ● Work a little fine compost around the base of autumnplanted strawberries and firm them back in. ● Carry out any remaining fruit tree pruning. ● Propagate lilies by planting scales to half their depth in boxes or pots of No 1 compost. Set in a cold frame. ● Cover areas still to be dug with a sheet of polythene to keep off rain, ensuring the soil remains dry enough for digging. ● Pinc growing tips of sweet peas when the stems reach 7.5cm (3in) to help growth. ● Bring pot-grown bay trees under cover if cold weather is forecast as the leaves are susceptible to cold winds. ● Earth up spring cabbages and winter brassicas to give them better anchorage.


Brussel sprouts

LATE varieties should be harvested until March, once they have reached 2.5cm in diameter. Most Brussels sprout types are F1 hybrids, bred to produce heavy crops of small, firm sprouts which can be picked in one go. They like a neutral or slightly alkaline soil. Sow seed in mid-March to midApril for a winter crop. If you just want a few plants, sow seed in 9cm pots and keep them outside in a sheltered spot or coldframe, ensuring compost is kept moist Or sow into a well prepared seedbed (dug in autumn, working in plenty of compost), raking over the surface to a fine texture and sowing the seeds 1.5cm deep in rows 15cm apart. They should germinate in one to two weeks and seedlings should be thinned to 8cm apart. Choose a sheltered, sunny spot where the plants will grow to maturity. They should be ready for transplanting by June, when the seedlings are around 15cm high. Water the rows the day before moving them to their final quarters. Plant firmly with the lowest leaves just above the surface and water after planting. Hoe regularly and feed in early summer. Earth up around the stems in summer and stake tall varieties. Harvest when the sprouts at the base of the stem have reached the size of a walnut and are still tightly closed. Good varieties include Cascade, Braveheart and Citade’.

in association with The Garden Place


f you’ve made any green-fingered New Year’s resolutions for 2009, try to make them realistic and achievable. Bear in mind the amount of time you have available. If you’re extremely busy at work, you’re unlikely to have time to totally re-landscape your garden on your own. If you have a bad back, don’t resolve to double dig a vegetable patch unless you have plenty of volunteers to help. Make the resolution something that you will be able to do with the time and space you have available. Here are a few suggestions for more achievable projects. ● Go on a gardening course. One of the most widely-available courses is the RHS General Certificate in Horticulture, aimed at both the career gardener and the dedicated amateur. A list of colleges which run the course can be found on the Royal Horticultural Society’s website at The Inchbald School of Design is expanding its online courses in 2009. Two new web based courses, Diploma in Principles and Practices of Garden Design, and Certificate in Design and Drawing will supplement the existing year diploma course. Full course information can be found at If you just want a lecture or a weekend workshop, try the National Trust, which has a variety of events throughout the year. Go to for details. ● Rent an allotment. As the push to grow your own fruit and veg continues, having an allotment is an ideal way for people to grow their own produce. It may be time-consuming, but if you don’t have enough space in your own garden for a vegetable patch, acquiring an allotment may be the answer, especially if you can persuade the whole family to take part. Contact your local authority for details on your nearest allotment and plot vacancies, or visit your library where they may keep a record of allotments. Once you have found one, check it out. Consider the distance it is from your home (how easy is it to get to?), whether it has a mains water supply, which is vital, and maybe even whether it comes with a shed. Speak to neighbouring plot holders about the pros and cons of the site and check out the particular plot available to you. Will it have enough sun to grow fruit and veg or will large trees be shading it? Ask about the soil, weeds, wind and weather. ● Grow from seed. If you don’t want to spend a fortune at the garden centre, pick up some packets of seeds, some seed trays and compost, make some of your windowsills available and start growing in late winter and early spring from seed. You don’t need masses of room to be productive. Think about the annual bedding you like, which you might normally spend a lot of money on, and grow it from seed. It should save you a fortune and


Goals for green fingers LEARNING: A person taking part in the RHS General Certificate in Horticulture course


you’ll probably have more plants than you would if you filled a trolley at the local nursery. You don’t need a greenhouse or conservatory to enjoy success. ● Create your own compost bin. It may take a day to clear the area where you will house it, but it will be worth it. Ideally, have two compost containers - one which can be filled and then left for the compost to rot down while the other is being filled up. The container needs to build up heat inside so to avoid holes in the sides. Make

Send dates to life! magazine, The Gazette, Avroe Crescent, Blackpool, FY4 4AU or e-mail

Thursday, January 8 Thornton Cleveleys Horticultural Society. Dorothy and Andrew Richards “The National Gardens Scheme and its Yellow Book.” Thornton Little Theatre, Four Lane Ends, Thornton, 7.30pm. Saturday, January 10 The Alpine Garden Society Southport Group. Rosemary Cox, A Greek Odyssey. Emmanuel Church Hall, Cambridge Road, Southport, 2pm. Thursday, January 15 The Alpine Garden Society. Peter

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Bland - “The Pindhos Mountains”. Methodist Church, Greaves, Lancaster, 7.30pm Thursday, February 12 Thornton Cleveleys Horticultural Society. Keith & Chris Buxton “Borneo - the Land Beneath the Clouds”. Thornton Little Theatre, Four Lane Ends,7.30pm. Saturday, February 14 The Alpine Garden Society Southport Group. John Good, Climate Change Impacts on Alpines. Emmanuel Church Hall, Cambridge Road, Southport, 2pm

with Hannah Stephenson the bin out of wooden slats. The area should be at least 1m (3ft) squared. If you have an open compost bin, turn the compost waste every three months to ensure that the material around the edges breaks down properly. Cover the compost heap with plastic sheeting or old carpet in winter or rainy weather to keep the heat in and excess water out. A free-standing compost heap should take six to 12 months to rot down sufficiently for the compost to be used. It should be a dark, crumbly consistency when it’s ready.


Spotted Laurel (aucuba japonica ‘Variegata’)

THIS sturdy evergreen shrub with pretty variegated foliage makes a good display all year round. In spring the female plants produce insignificant small red flowers, followed by bright red berries in autumn and winter which can be cut to include indoor displays. Laurel is an easy shrub to grow, being really tolerant of difficult sites, from deep, dry shade to coastal cliffs. The only place it will struggle is waterlogged soil. Hedges can be pruned in

spring and will come back after hard pruning. You will need to plant a male nearby if you want berries from the female plant. The only thing to be aware of is that new growth may be scorched by strong, icy winds and the varieties which are splashed heavily with yellow need some sun. Spotted laurel grows to around 7ft (2.1m) high. Good female varieties include ‘Gold Dust’. If you want berries but can only have one plant, go for the hermaphrodite, ‘Rozannie’.




he Ribble Way long distance path was established in 1985. It follows the river from Longton to its source in the Yorkshire Dales, a distance of 70 miles. This walk takes you in the opposite direction from the centre of Preston, and is best achieved with the help of public transport.


1. Preston Centre – riverside 0.75 mile 15 minutes Walk up Fishergate towards the city centre, crossing at a convenient point. At Barclays Bank turn right into Winckley Street. At end cross into Winckley Square. On far side of the square turn right, cross and then turn left into Avenham Lane. A short distance along the road bends sharply to the left. Here cross the road to enter Avenham Park. Follow the main path past the war memorial, under the old railway bridge into Miller Park. Just before the next railway bridge take the path on the left, leading down to the river. You are now on the Ribble Way. 2. Miller Park Entrance – Penwortham Bridge 0.5 Mile 15 minutes Turn right under very imposing railway bridge. Beyond the road peters out to become a pedestrian/cycle way with the river on your left. Walk through, past a new development reaching Riverside. This leads into Broadgate. Keep to the left along the avenue reaching the set of traffic lights on the A59. Cross the road and turn left over Penwortham Bridge. 3. Penwortham Bridge – The Dolphin, Longton. 5.5 miles 2.25 hours At the far side of the bridge, turn right into a small car park. Through a kissing gate a tarmac path takes you forward with the river now on your right. Continue forward beneath the new road bridge into an area of parkland. Your way is forward. By an electricity sub station tarmac gives way to gravel and a much rougher track. After two hundred yards, pass through a gate, close to a pylon. Take the narrow path on the embankment. On your left you will pass a green and fairway of Penwortham Golf Club. Across the river you will notice much modern development around Preston Dock. As you come abreast of the entrance to the dock, the path takes on a different character as it weaves its way through scrubland to reach a gate by a barbed wire fence. A short way ahead two pairs of massive pylons bestride the river. Here the path gives way to springy turf on a wide embankment. Past the second pylon a track leads down left to Howick, but keep straight. 500 yards after the last pylon cross Mill Brook by as the way dips over a culvert. Continue along the embankment. After 30 minutes the route turns distinctly left, still on an embankment with farm buildings to the left and Hutton Marsh out to the right. At a stile cross into a pasture and continue to the next ladder stile and cross to arrive at a farm lane. Cross the lane and enter the large field opposite, again by a ladder stile. Walk along the edge of the field with the fence on your left. At

By the riverside

BIRDWATCH with Kate Humble

ABOVE: The Ribble Way near Hutton


the end of the field cross a stile and turn right then cross the brook on an old wooden bridge, turn right along an embankment following it as it turns left with Longton Marsh on your right. After 800 yards cross a stile then turn left down to reach a lane and wooden gate with a stile on right. Go over and a short way down on the left you arrive at the Flying Fish – the Dolphin pub. 4. The Dolphin – Liverpool Road, Longton. (1.50 miles – 30 minutes) From the Dolphin continue up Hall Pool Lane. When it reaches Marsh Lane carry straight on. In fifteen minutes you will reach the edge of Longton village. A further 10 minutes will put you on Liverpool road, next to the Golden Ball. ● Walk by John Griffiths and Bob Clare. Hit for more walks exploring the diversity of the Lancashire countryside


Start: It is suggested if using private transport that you park close to The Golden Ball, Liverpool Old Road, and Longton and take the Number 2 bus to Preston, alighting at the railway station. Otherwise take the Number 2 bus that Stagecoach operates on the Southport – Preston service weekdays and weekends. During week and on Saturday reckon on a half hourly service. Sunday buses are less frequent. (Hit www.transportforlancas for details) Summary: Distance: 14.6k/9m Time: 3-4hours Terrain: Mainly flat and easy riverside walking.


hope you had a great festive season and no doubt we all over indulged as usual! I always feel better about this if my garden birds have a Christmas feast too so hopefully we all remembered to feed them any suitable leftovers. January is just as harsh for wildlife as December so make sure you continue feeding and providing water. Its incredible that birds survive at all but well conditioned feathers and full tummies stand them in good stead. Nest boxes are a popular Christmas gift from the RSPB and although the breeding season may seem a long way off now is an ideal time to put yours up. There’s a misconception that they can be attached to any old wall or fence but careful thought is needed. For example blue tit boxes need to be placed in the open, and robin boxes are better situated amongst plants or shrubs. New Year’s resolutions often involve some sort of fitness resolve but after weeks of too much turkey and chocolate its harder at this time of year than ever! If you’re not a gym fan and can’t face the idea of pounding the streets running, I’d seriously recommend a stroll round an RSPB reserve. With over 200 around the UK there’s bound to be one close by, and as well as guaranteed fresh air and exercise there’s so much wildlife to see and hear. Beats staring at the floor on the rowing machine! Finally, I have an important date for your calendar at the end of this month: 24-25 January is the 30th birthday of the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. Over the last three decades, millions of people have helped garden birds by counting how many they see over one hour of the weekend. This information is vital in telling us which species are doing well and which need our attention. It’s a fun, free and educational hour that can be enjoyed by the whole family – and best of all it can be done from the warmth of your window! For more information on Big Garden Birdwatch visit ● Next week: A walk on the Wyre side

Saturday, January 3, 2009

life! 19


Here’s a selection of Gazette Travel offers... in association with Liverpool John Lennon Airport THE DERBY

June 5, 2 days from £149.95

Summer starts on Derby Day, so come celebrate the season and join the party, with a fun filled day at the races on beautiful Epsom Downs. Our ticket will give you entry on Derby Day to The Grandstand and Paddock. Located next to the Queen’s Stand, the Grandstand affords a spectacular view of the racing and the Downs. The price includes return coach travel, one night’s hotel accommodation at the 4 star Tower Guoman Hotel, continental breakfast on the Sunday, one day’s admission to The Grandstand and Paddock on Derby Day and free time in London. Organised by Omega Holidays ABTA V4782.

SETTLE TO CARLISLE RAILWAY Aug 29, 2 days from £119.95

See five lakes and four dales on this glorious and ever popular tow day weekend break. You will stay overnight at the comfortable Swallow Hotel in the historic border city of Carlisle with its fine cathedral, castle and handsome red sandstone buildings. There’s an included coach tour on Saturday, right through the heart of the Lake District and a ride on Sunday on the Settle Carlisle railway, with a visit to lovely Grassington in Wharfdale, too. The price includes coach travel, one night’s accommodation, dinner and full English breakfast and a ride on the Settle Carlisle railway line. Organised by Omega Holidays ABTA V4782

IN SEARCH OF NORTHERN LIGHTS March 20, from £169.95

Enjoy a wonderful journey through the stars in a quest to see one if the most spectacular natural phenomena known to man. Our guest astronomer will guide you on your voyage of exploration through the crystal clear winter sky and we hope to see the Northern Lights from the aircraft as we reach the Shetland Isles. If the conditions are right, it promises to be an unforgettable sight for all. Includes pre flight illustrated presentation by out guest astronomer, flight of approximately three hours, services of the astronomer on board and airport taxes. Organised by Omega Holidays ABTA V4782.


ine historic cities, beautiful sweeping beaches and bays on a bright blue sea, ancient ruined abbeys, attractive spa resorts, spectacular moorland and superb stately homes, Yorkshire’s got the lot, and its all there for you to enjoy on this attractive break. After a morning departure you will travel by coach to Harrogate. This lovely spa resort, pleasantly set on the edge of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales and a popular winner of Britain in Bloom, never fails to delight and offers a wealth of attraction for the visitor including colourful and spacious parks and gardens, elegant buildings, its famous Betty’s tea rooms and fashionable shopping area. You will continue to your hotel, the very comfortable 3 star Quality Hotel in good time for dinner and your overnight stay. The Quality Hotel is located in 16 acres of grounds in open countryside to the east of Leeds and is just a short drive from York. It has been extensively refurbished and upgraded in recent years and provides all modern comforts. The well appointed bedrooms have a private bathroom, TV, radio, tea coffee making facilities, trouser press, hairdryer and telephone. The following day after breakfast, you will be taken by coach to the superb heritage city of York, the jewel of England’s North Country. Here you will have a whole day to enjoy some of the attractions of this ancient Roman and Viking city, beautifully set on the tranquil River Ouse. You may wish to visit superb York Minster, take a stroll along the medieval city walls with their many booths and bars, visit one of York’s many museums, take a sail on a tourist boat on the river or an open top bus tour, or simply stroll through York’s charming shopping streets. In the evening, take a dip in the hotel’s pool, before dinner. A fine day of Yorkshire splendour awaits you on Sunday with a visit to the superb Yorkshire Coast. We will take you first via scenic Sutton Bank to picturesque Helmsley, with its old ruined castle and picture book stone cottages and then onto Whitby. Whitby is a popular holiday resort, throughout the seasons. You can climb up the Keiber Pass to see the huge whale’s bone monument and Captain Cook memorial or up the 39 steps to Whitby Abbey to enjoy fabulous sea views all around, buy fresh kippers on Herietta Street or Whitby jet souvenirs in the town’s cobbled alleyways, there’s something of interest for all. Before returning, we’ll take you onto the sweeping North Yorkshire Moors to the quiet village of Goathland, known to millions throughout the world as the setting of TV’s Heartbeat. On day 4 there is a visit to fabulous Harewood House. Home to Earl Harewood, a cousin of the Queen, this is one of the grandest houses in Yorkshire and offers a wonderful Upstairs Downstairs experience for the visitor. You can visit Harewood’s magnificent staterooms with their superb collections of paintings and treasures, including

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HISTORIC STEPS: The Shambles in York

Jewels of Yorkshire CONTACTNUMBERS Call our 24-hour brochure hotline: 01772 838080 Other inquiries: Telephone as above or

furniture by Chippendale and then downstairs the scullery and old kitchen, in turn of the century style. In the Housekeeper’s room there’s a display about Lord Harewood’s mother, HRH

Princess Mary, who was a daughter of King George V. And finally there are the exquisite terraced gardens and extensive parkland by capability Brown, to enjoy, before you begin the homeward journey in the late afternoon. This break departs on September 25 and costs from just £189.95. The price includes coach travel to the hotel and return, three nights stay at the Quality Hotel, dinner and full English breakfast and admission to Harewood House and Gardens. For a brochure please telephone our brochureline or to make a reservation telephone 01524 37500 quoting the code BEG. Organised by Omega Holidays ABTA V4782.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

life! 23


With Cassandra Nye

For the week starting Jan 5 CAPRICORN (22 Dec - 20 Jan) A keen start to the New Year has already seen a few surprises come your way. Being enthusiastic, even over small things, usually brings the right response. The urge to get things done quickly needs balancing with the need to also be accurate. AQUARIUS (21 Jan - 19 Feb) After the holidays you may be feeling a little low on energy. Want to crawl under the duvet? Is that necessary? It is possible to still take part in social activities without spending all your bank of energy. Being poised for something of a breakthrough in financial terms, you may worry that you will not be sharp enough. PISCES (20 Feb - 20 Mar) Do something worthy today. The mood is expansive and cheerful. That is because this is a ‘soul’ day, when your spirit is at its most generous. You simply cannot be doing with nasty or miserable people. Trying to convert them is useless right now and a waste of your time. ARIES (21 Mar - 20 Apr) This is a brilliant day to concentrate on family and home matters. If that sounds dull, it doesn’t have to be! Find out what others want to do and have a go even if you are not initially inclined. Wanting to get closer to someone? Share a new experience with them. TAURUS (21 Apr - 21 May) Keeping up the bulllike attitude may serve you well in business but could see you come unstuck on a personal level. This is one good reason why business should not be mixed with pleasure this week. There is much to spark your imagination and a few breakthroughs are possible. GEMINI (22 May - 21 June) Let us be under no illusions as far as cash is concerned. You, resourceful Gemini, could be sold a pig in a poke! Stay sharp this week and if a financial deal is suggested, get all the facts before responding. The future has been on your mind recently and you should maximise your talents. CANCER (22 June - 23 July) A cool and logical approach is admired in a business setting. Using the same tactics in a romantic setting, however, could make you appear emotionally shallow. This is not your intention, so keep those two worlds apart! LEO (24 July - 23 Aug) Get the ball rolling by chatting with others to find out what they need from you. Having a ‘people day’ like this usually throws up all sorts of strange and unusual things. All too often we assume that we know what is going on in the minds of others, especially those close. We can be wrong. We can also be missing a lot. VIRGO (24 Aug - 23 Sept) There are perhaps people you met over the holiday that you would like to keep in contact with. Just a few emails and letters, maybe even a couple of phone calls, can open up a whole new world. Approaching your social life in a more businesslike way pays off this week. LIBRA (24 Sept - 23 Oct) With your mind buzzing you are likely to be attracted to live-wire types who are as keen to have fun as you are. When in this mood, Libra, your responses to others are heightened. This makes for a good love life and you, as a lover of love, know how to make the most of it. Fill your life with people of your choosing and inspire them. SCORPIO (24 Oct - 22 Nov) An innovative approach to an outwardly simple plan can turn it into something really funny and amazing. Seeing something from all angles is exciting and inspirational. With your forthright approach, who can resist your charm and enthusiasm? SAGITTARIUS (23 Nov - 21 Dec) An emphasis on finances and the home means giving these areas special attention. It may be necessary to be plain and simple in explaining to someone what a situation is and its importance. Being in a creative mood it is possible to satisfy both the eye and the mind. Get started early as some shopping may be required.

Natalie Wootton and Adele Nicholson


evellers celebrated a Blackpool tradition in sparkling style. The Christmas Tree Ball turned 21 this year and more than 1,000 party-goers ensured the birthday milestone went with a swing. To mark the anniversary year, the long running event returned to its birth place, The Winter Gardens after a number of years at Blackpool Tower.

Mike Rushworth, Marie Rushworth, Andy Robinson, Louise Robinson, Chris Reid and Jamie Robinson

Krisia Dugdale, Paul Dugdale and Veronique Melvin

Marion Oates, Craig Beattie and Kelly Martin

■ To order any of the photographs on this page, please contact our photo sales department on 01253 361867

Coun Lyndsay Greening, Coun John Davies, Wendy Mutton and Barbara Davies

Anne McVittie, Mayor of Fylde Coun Susan Fazackerley, Mr Matthew Berry-consort to the Mayor of Fylde and Linda Fazackerley

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Sue Bennett, Peter Kirton and Lindsay Kirton


ylde Mayor Coun Susan Fazackerley welcomed councillors, family, friends and guests to a cocktail party at the Town Hall, St Annes.

Phil Woodward, the Deputy Mayor of Fylde Coun Janine Owen, Richard Nulty and Coun Linda Nulty

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Saturday 3rd January 2009. The life magazine is your guide to everything from film reviews to fashion and food & drink to travel.

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