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REVOLUTIONARY ROAD (15)
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THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (12A)
NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST (12A)
David Fincher's adaptation of an F. Scott Fitzgerald story re-teams the director with Brad Pitt, who takes on the title role. What makes Button such a curious case is that when he is born in New Orleans just after World War I, he is already in his 80s and proceeds to live his life ageing in reverse. This sweeping film follows the character’s unusual life into the 21st century as he experiences joy and sadness and the meaning of timelessness. Cate Blanchett co-stars. Rating: Zappy but not zippy
Recently heartbroken Nick (Arrested Deveopment’s puppy faced Michael Vera) is still pining for his exgirlfriend (Alexis Dziena) and remains oblivious to the candle that Norah (Kat Denning) holds for him, chiefly because she loves his mix CDs. During a long night chasing around Manhattan for a secret gig, Nick and Norah are thrown together. Go for the soundtrack and not for the plot and there might be something there. It’s Zack and Miri meets Superbad but flimsier than even them. Rating: Infinity and beyond
THE SECRET OF MOONACRE (U)
It’s 1964 and a charismatic priest, Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman), is trying to upend a Bronx school’s strict customs, which are fiercely guarded by Sister Aloysius Beauvier (up-for-an-Oscar Meryl Streep), the principal who believes in the power of fear and discipline. The winds of political change are blowing but when Sister James (Amy Adams), a hopeful innocent, shares her suspicion that Father Flynn is paying too much attention to a new student, Sister Aloysius sets off to unearth the truth. Rating: Undoubtedly worthy
When 13-year-old Maria Merryweather’s (Dakota Blue Richards) father dies, she is forced to leave her luxurious London life to go and live with eccentric uncle Sir Benjamin at the mysterious Moonacre Manor. Soon she finds herself in a crumbling moonlit world torn apart by the hatred of an ancient feud. Maria discovers that she is the last Moon Princess and, guided by an unlikely mix of allies, she must unearth the secrets of the past before the 5,000th moon rises and Moonacre disappears into the sea forever. Rating: Patchy pre-teener
HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU (TBC)
A Baltimore that fans of The Wire won’t recognize sees this big screen adaptation of Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo’s best-selling book concerning the everwidening gap between genders and the misunderstandings that often arise between couples. In the film, a woman who can’t seem to get a grip on the men in her life pursues an advice columnist who never quite knew what he wanted in a relationship. Stellar cast included Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Aniston and Ben Affleck. Rating: Chick flic A-lister
BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA (U)
UNDERWORLD 3: RISE OF THE LYCANS (15)
Kate Winslet’s got the Golden Globe, she’s got her Titanic leading man Leonardo DiCaprio back in her on-screen arms and she’s got her husband Sam Mendes producing so what could possibly go wrong? It’s 1955 and young marrieds the Wheelers, Frank (DiCaprio) and April (Winslet) settle into the stultifying world of suburbia but still dream of reclaiming lives as free spirits. However, their neighbours react to their getaway plan as a threat to world order. So will they break away or apart? Rating: Long unwinding road
In this Disney animation a pampered Beverly Hills Chihuahua named Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore) finds herself accidentally lost in the mean streets of Mexico without a day spa or Rodeo Drive boutique anywhere in sight. Now alone for the first time in her spoiled life, she must rely on some unexpected new friends – including a street-hardened German Shepherd named Delgado (Andy Garcia) and an amorous pup named Papi (George Lopez) – to lend her a paw and help her to find her inner strength on their incredible journey back home. Rating: Pretty woof
The Nazis are the new rock and roll – and it’s a dangerous game for Hollywood to play. German generals hatch a plan to assassinate Adolf Hitler and render the German war machine impotent. Tom Cruise stars as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, the real-life mastermind behind the plot known as Project Valkyrie. His loyalty has been tested after losing an eye, hand and three fingers in an Allied bombing and he joins the resistance movement for the chance to change history. Rating: Reich or wrong?
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This prequel delves into the origins of theblood feud between the aristocratic vampires (Death Dealers) and the barbaric Lycans (werewolves). A young Lycan, Lucian (Michael Sheen - a far cry from his role in Frost/Nixon) emerges as a powerful leader who rallies the werewolves to rise against Viktor (Bill Nighy), the cruel vampire king who has persecuted them for centuries. Lucian is joined by his over, the beautiful vampire Sonja (Rhona Mitra), in a battle to free the Lycans. Rating: Rise and fall
Craig Revel Horwood
Child actress Dakota Blue Richards, star of The Golden Compass, tells of the fun she had on the set of her latest fantasy adventure
raig Revel Horwood, 43, was born in Victoria, Australia. A highly respected dancer-turnedchoreographer, he has had enormous success on the stage, choreographing shows such as Spend Spend Spend and Miss Saigon. He has gone on to gain small-screen fame as one of the judges on BBC1’s celebrity dance competition Strictly Come Dancing. He recently published his autobiography, All Balls and Glitter: My Life. Craig is divorced and lives in London.
akota Blue Richards is working her magic again. The Brightonbased schoolgirl, who shot to fame starring as Lyra in The Golden Compass, is back on the big screen with her second fantasy film – and she’s revelling in the experience. Auburn-haired Dakota stars alongside Ioan Gruffudd and Juliet Stevenson in The Secret of Moonacre, an adaptation of The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. She plays the recently orphaned Maria Merryweather, whose sole inheritance is an illustrated book entitled The Secret Chronicles Of Moonacre. When she is sent off to live with her reserved uncle (Gruffudd), Maria, a moon princess with magical powers, discovers the book provides a key to a past world and a secret that must be unlocked before the rising of the 5,000th moon. Dakota speaks eloquently and with a maturity that makes you forget that she is still only 14. She admits she was instantly attracted to the role when she saw the film’s working title, Moon Princess. “I think most young girls enjoy fantasy films. I don’t find it that hard to imagine things. If I’m on my own I will just daydream about things,’’ she says. Once the young star set her heart on the part nothing could stand in her way. “I flicked through the script, read the scene I had to learn, auditioned and got the part all in the same day,’’ she says, laughing. She says it was more than just fantasy that attracted her to The Golden Compass and The Secret Of Moonacre. “These films both had strong female main characters. I don’t think that there are a lot of strong female characters around.’’ The teenager is not shy of a challenge either and was determined to do as much of her own stunt work in the film as possible. “Whenever they say we need a stunt double I’m like ‘oh no, no, no, please can I do it?’ I always get really upset when they say that because it’s so annoying.’’ In hindsight, however, she admits there were times when she found filming “draining’’. “It was quite hard doing all the physical stuff because we were in a forest most of the time and so it was physically hard to do all the running because it was slippery and there were branches everywhere so you could just trip up so easily.’’
FANTASY FOURSOME: Michael Webber as Digweed, Dakota Blue Richards as Maria Merryweather, Juliet Stevenson as Miss Heliotrope and Andy Linden as Marmaduke
Girl with the magic touch The elaborate costumes restricted her movement, making life even harder. “They were so impractical that you couldn’t really do anything in them,’’ she explains. “There was underskirts, bustles, underskirts, more bustles, the skirt and then loads of stuff that they would stick on top.” The Secret Of Moonacre, directed by Gabor Csupo, was filmed in Hungary, which Dakota describes as an enchanting place with castles and cobbled streets. She says the cast and crew became “like a big family’’ during the three months of filming. While Gruffudd became like an uncle, she says she grew closest to costar Augustus Prew.
■ Dakota (right) was born in South Kensington, London, on April 11, 1994. Her family moved to Brighton soon afterwards. ■ She started attending acting classes at weekends and sometimes missed school to attend auditions. When she was 11, she joined the K-BIS Theatre School. ■ Dakota’s mother chose her name because she apparently wanted to call her after a place and a colour. ■ Before she won the role of Lyra in The Golden Compass, her mum had read the His Dark Materials trilogy to her and immediately loved the character of Lyra. ■ Lyra appears in every scene of The Golden Compass, so Dakota had to be on set for 98 out of the 100 days of filming.
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“He was more my age than anyone else so he probably got me more than the adults did,’’ she reveals. But there was still a seven-year age gap separating the pair and she admits she felt lonely at times, even though her mother accompanied her to Hungary. “I got to see my friends once in the three months I was away,’’ she says. “There were quite a lot of times when I thought, ‘I need somebody else my age’. There was my double but she was Hungarian and didn’t speak any English. “I know it’s hard, but it’s not bad enough to make me stop wanting to do that kind of thing.’’ Although still at school, Dakota has already got two new projects lined up for this year – a short film called Rain, about a girl who is allergic to water, and a proposed feature film called Lovely To The Last. Despite starring with Hollywood luminaries like Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman in The Golden Compass, Dakota’s feet are still firmly on the ground and she is determined to continue with her education. The plan, she says, is “to do my GCSEs and then my A Levels and then I’m going to get two degrees’’. Her ambition doesn’t end there either – “I’d really like to work with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp.’’ ■ The Secret Of Moonacre was released at cinemas nationwide this weekend.
If you had to be stuck in a lift with someone, who would it be? Bette Midler. I’d make her do the whole of The Rose. I used to do it as a kid. What is your biggest fear? It used to be failure, but now heights freak me out. Do you have any superstitions? No. If you could only have one song on your iPod, what would it be? That would be Against All Odds, by Phil Collins. I play it over and over. I love it. What’s the most expensive item you’ve ever bought, not including property or cars? I’ve just forked out thousands on new windows, but I suppose that doesn’t count. In that case, it would be a rather nice pair of shoes – or maybe my Prada man bag. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? To accept criticism and believe it is a good thing. I do, but I don’t deny it’s painful. When was the last time you cried and why? Probably when I’d broken up with my ex of 13 years. That was emotional. What’s your indulgence? Wine. It’s all about whites at the moment, but I have gone red before. How environmentally friendly are you? Very. I don’t drive, I cycle everywhere and I recycle. Australia is very eco-friendly. It’s against the law there to put plastic in the wrong bin. I have to admit littering bothers me too. It’s a different culture. Who is the most famous person whose number you have in your mobile? Let me see. Danny La Rue – I think he’s hilarious. How many texts do you send in a day? I don’t know, about 20? What item could you not live without? My mobile phone. I love it. I bought one as soon as they came out. My latest one is tiny and fabulous. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My waistline! I have to suck it in and I’m always on a diet. I’d change my eating habits and cut down on the booze. I find it hard to walk past a pastry shop though. Where are you going on holiday? New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, Los Angeles, New York. All after the Strictly Come Dancing tour. What were you doing this time yesterday? I was rehearsing on stage. What will you be doing this time tomorrow? I’ll be doing a book signing for my autobiography, All Balls and Glitter: My Life.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
WHAT’SON Search for top talent
TALENTED locals are competing for honours in the live final of Fylde’s Got Talent at the Lowther Pavilion in Lytham on Sunday from 7.30pm. There’s £500 worth of Debenhams vouchers for the winner, £300 of vouchers for the runner-up and £200 of vouchers for the third place. Organiser, Fylde Coun Janine Owen, said: “The auditions were fantastic and it’s a shame we couldn’t put more acts through to the next round. The standard of the acts selected for the call backs was extremely high and we can be certain of a fantastic night on Sunday. “We are urging people to come along to the final and support the contestants – and if this year is a success we hope to run the competition again next year.” Judges for the evening will be The Mayor of Fylde, Coun Susan Fazackerley, Helen Bowden, station director of Radio Wave, Robin Duke, entertainment editor of The Gazette and Cameron Scott, local entertainment agent/promoter. Tickets for the final are on sale now at £8 and £7 (concessions). The show is in aid of the Mayor of Fylde’s Charities with all proceeds being donated to Trinity Hospice, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary and the Snowdrop Centre.
Children on stage
oung local talent is lined up for the latest series of Schools Alive! concerts at Blackpool Grand Theatre from Monday to Thursday. The concerts are part of a unique strategic partnership between Blackpool Music Service and the Grand Theatre. Every evening from 7pm the Grand stage will be filled with music, song, dance and comedy from budding young performers in the annual extravaganza. This year there will be a minimum of eight contrasting themed performances every evening with a total of 37 acts from Blackpool schools performing. Band and orchestral contributions will also include instrumentalists from most of the remaining Blackpool schools. In total, in excess of 90 per cent of Blackpool schools will be represented, which is a record for this annual initiative. Andrew White, Blackpool’s music adviser, said: “Schools Alive provides a unique opportunity for pupils of all abilities to perform at one of the country’s finest theatres. The theatre’s professional staff support is superb and ensures all performers are given specific advice and encouragement to ensure they perform with confidence.” Schools taking part in Schools Alive! for 2009 are: Monday February 9: Park School Band, St John’s C of E, Revoe Primary, St Nicholas C of E Primary; Palatine High; St
George’s C of E High; Kincraig Primary; Baines Endowed C of E Primary; Montgomery High Tuesday February 10: BMS Basso, Devonshire Primary, Woodlands School, Westcliff Primary, Boundary Primary, BMS Basso Jazz; Beacon Hill High; St Mary’s Catholic College; Bispham High Wednesday February 11: BMS First Beat Orchestra; Marton Primary; Stanley Primary; Mereside Primary; Moor Park Primary; Norbreck Primary; Claremont Primary School; Christ the King Catholic Primary; Roseacre Primary Thursday February 12: Layton Primary; St Teresa’s Catholic Primary; Our Lady of the Assumption; Collegiate High; BMS Youth Choir; St Kentigern’s Catholic Primary; St Bernadette’s Catholic; Anchorsholme Primary; Holy Family Catholic Primary; BMS Concert Band. Tickets are adults £4, children £ 3.50, over 60s £3.50. Call the Grand Theatre box office on (01253) 290190, visit www. blackpoolgrand.co.uk or call at the new Grand Theatre sales information point in the Houndshill Shopping Centre for bookings and further information. Discounted parking is available at the secure West Street Car Park. Book your parking ticket when you book your show tickets from the box office and you can have parking from 5.30pm until 12.30am for £2.50.
IN CONCERT: A scene from last year’s show
Wicked wit from a master
JOIN Opera della Luna at Blackpool Grand Theatre tomorrow for a glittering new look at Johann Strauss’ wickedly witty operetta Die Fledermaus. Die Fledermaus tells the light-hearted tale of Dr Falke who was once left to wander home drunk and dressed as a bat by his friend Gabriel von Eisenstein. To exact his revenge, he arranges for Eisenstein to attend an extremely risqué party at the home of the outrageous Russian aristocrat, Prince Orlofsky. There Eisenstein seduces a mysterious Hungarian countess, who is in fact his own wife in disguise. Opera della Luna has earned itself a matchless reputation as the country’s best small-scale operetta company, touring the country for over 10 years with acclaimed productions of Gilbert and Sullivan and Offenbach.
The company now turns its hand to the “waltz king” Johann Strauss and his most sparkling of scores. This saucy new production is directed – with his own new translation – by Jeff Clarke, and designed by Gabriella Csanyi-Wills: the team that created the company’s recent acclaimed production of The Mikado. Die Fledermaus from Opera della Luna is at Blackpool Grand Theatre for just one night at 7.30pm. Tickets from £14. Concessions and Friends of the Grand discount are available. Book your seats by calling the Grand Theatre box office on (01253) 290190, online at www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk or at the new Grand Theatre information sales point in the Houndshill Shopping Centre.
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Back once again to bring soul to the British public The Blues Brothers are wreaking havoc across the UK and the fabulous Blues Brother Party comes to Preston Charter Theatre from Monday to Saturday. Grab your pork-pie hats, put on your shades and get ready for a high-energy, feel-good musical guaranteed to get you on your feet and dancing in the aisles. The Blues Brothers Party storms through hit after hit – from tender ballads to rip-roaring party pieces
including In The Midnight Hour, Sweet Home Chicago, Everybody Needs Somebody To Love, Try A Little Tenderness, Mustang Sally, Gimme Some Lovin’ and many more. Live music is played by the Magnificent Seven Blues Band whilst the Sensational Sisters of Soul provide that last essential ingredient to raise the temperature and guarantee it's the hottest show around. Tickets range from £15.50 to £22.50 and concessions are available. For more information
howzam – Blackpool’s festival of circus, magic and new variety – is set to return for a 10-day spectacular. The second annual festival will be taking over various Blackpool venues and landmarks from Friday until Sunday, February 22. Showzam opens with a fantastic flower themed Carnival Ball hosted by the glamorous Yellow Rose of Texas Miss Tina C in the Tower Ballroom on Friday. Think Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton, add inspiration from flower carnivals around the world, combine it with the opulence of Blackpool Tower Ballroom and witness performances from top national artists. Cult burlesque brand La Clique’s Miss Behave brings new variety to Blackpool Grand on February 14 and 15 with the premiere of her brand new adults-only UK tour that’s saucy, sassy but always classy. The infamous Miss Behave, one of the last surviving female swordswallowers in the world, will introduce her friends to wow the audience with skills, comedy, striptease, magic, hula hoops and dancing girls. Showzam Central, which runs for the entirety of the festival in the Winter Gardens Olympia at the Winter Gardens, forms a hub for activities and will be a place to watch shows, take part in workshops, listen to talks or simply find out what’s going on. Showzam Central will feature a host of entertainment including Circus of Wonders – a unique and imaginative journey of discovery through circus and sideshows that will appeal to everyone from the entertainment enthusiast to the circus historian. The centrepiece to the sideshow exhibition is the Great Omi who was not only considered one of the revolutionary people of the circus scene but also the most famous tattooed person of the 20th century. A lifesize recreation of The Great Omi will appear alongside a photo archive of The Headless Lady, The Mummy, The Girl in the Goldfish Bowl, Electra and The Living Half Lady. Booths will tell the history of circus alongside photographs, costumes and posters of unusual and past performers including costumes belonging to Hal Denver, a knife thrower from Leeds who performed alongside Elvis Presley in the 1950s and the Wee McGregor, one of the last performers on the British side shows. To complete the Showzam Central experience, take a ride on Carnesky’s Ghost Train which is re-opening for the duration of Showzam. The National Theatre of Variety in association with Paul Stone Productions presents a UK first with Variety Live at Blackpool Grand Theatre with an international line-up of talent from February 19 – 21.
Variety Live at the Grand is being premiered in Blackpool with future plans to take it to the London Palladium and a major hotel and casino venue in Las Vegas. The Grand aims to bring the best showstopping acts from the world of mainstream cabaret and international variety where the audience will see a variety show for the family in the National Theatre of Variety. Blackpool will be illuminated once again as Heat the Streets returns with more fire, music, magic and street performance from
book online at www.prestonguildhall.com or ring box office on (01772) 258858. Keane bring their UK Arena tour to the Echo Arena in Liverpool tonight. The band made the most talked about return of last year, with their confident, pop tour-de-force third album Perfect Symmetry which was released in October. For remaining ticket availability log on to www.accliverpool.com or call the Echo Arena box office on (0844) 8000 400.
Wrestling is back in the news thanks to the success of movie The Wrestler, which earned Mickey Rourke a Golden Globe for best actor and is hotly tipped to win him an Oscar. With the grapple game so much in the public eye, there has never been a better time to catch a live wrestling event, and with that in mind, the XWA returns to the Morecambe Dome tonight for its annual Goldrush show.
Listen to my words of wisdom
CIRCUS STARS: A character from the show and (inset) The Great Omi
It’s a circus spectacular ●
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Walk the Plank, including a steaming finale experience by Dark Spark on Saturday February 21. This exhilarating evening of steam, fire and street theatre promises to transform the town centre as performers, circus acts, musicians and artists create another world of heat, sound and interaction. A complete programme and details of special festival packages can be found at www.showzam.co.uk, or ring (01253) 478222.
Fifteen of wrestling's roughest and toughest will rumble in The Dome, with the last man standing to gain a British Heavyweight title match. Doors open at 7pm. Under 14s must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets cost £16 for ringside, £11 for adults, £9 for children aged 16 and under, £34 for a family of four and £42 for a family of six (advance sales only). Call the box office on (01524) 582803 to reserve your seats. See www.xwawrestling.com for more information.
id you ever try and teach your grandmother to suck eggs? I for one never did. I suspected all along that if anyone knew how to suck them it would have been her – but she was far too nice a lady to ever try. Or at least admit it. Do you ever cast a clout before May is out? Well, what with global warming and nuclear winters you can never be too sure what to do these days but I’d advise, if you have any clouts, to hold firmly on to them for a while because in my younger days it was known to snow thick and fast until the end of February (Mother Dearest would have me believe it always snowed on my birthday – and as it’s coming up again soon I’m taking care). And as TS Eliot informed us so eloquently in The Wasteland back in 1922: “April is the cruellest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.” In other less poetic words – “hang onto those clouts at least until May 1”. Not all homely advice has stood the test of time quite so well. These days you really do have to put all your eggs in one basket. Imagine approaching someone in Tesco or even Sainsbury’s and asking if you can put a few of your eggs in their basket – just in case? In case of what? They’d smack you – or worse. And what about not counting your chickens until they’re hatched? Most kids today haven’t even seen a chicken being hatched - unless it’s a plastic one out of a Kinder chocolate. Anyway they’re far too busy worrying about not putting their eggs into someone else’s basket to worry about them hatching. Maybe they’d be better off with the advice “don’t count your chicken until its properly barbecued”. The thing about time honoured old sayings is that they can either be full of more sense than a 99p pint when you’ve only got £1 to spend on booze or about as useful as a Kylie Minogue album at a rare record sale. So why not make up your own? All you need is an air of confidence, the ability to drop your voice a bit in a sincere kind of way – and a knowing look. It also helps to be on the wrong side of 40. If in doubt try this one for size: “better to be what a fly eats from your plate than what it leaves on the table.” Or “missing the bus doesn’t mean missing the journey”. Bearing in mind my rapid decline into an age I never for a moment thought I would reach, I’ve become quite a fan of nodding sagely whilst advising “youth alone cannot stop the wind from blowing.” Obviously it means less than a politician’s promise but will win you some breathing time – especially if it’s windy. When talking to even older people you can always try “only bats in the belfry know how true the chimes are” and I’ve found that when about to lose an argument it sometimes pays to throw in “there’s more to a road than the traffic lights on it.” The really good ones are those that sound like they have been around for donkey’s years. For all I know “even small people can cast long shadows” might have a pedigree longer than a Cruft’s champion. Anyway, just bear in mind – it’s a wise stitcher knows the thickness of their cotton. email@example.com
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Anytime is time for tea ... BE ready for anything with Dr Stuart’s new ready to drink teas – a natural herbal boost in a bottle. There are three new blends to choose from. Each bottle contains 10 per cent active botanical extracts – more than 10 times the amount of other herbal drinks – as well as no added sugar and allnatural ingredients. What’s more, they’re caffeine free too. They include Skin Purify – a beautifying herbal infusion which is a cleansing tonic of nectarine, red clover, dandelion, nettle and lemon balm. Citrussy and refreshing Echinacea & Cherry is a fortifying combination of cherries and berries enriched with echinacea. Detox is a cleansing herbal infusion of liquorice, peppermint, spearmint, dandelion, burdock and milk thistle. In supermarkets and health food stores priced £1.99p for a 250ml bottle. More details on www.drstuarts.com
Cheap vodka has a nasty burn (and even worse after-effects), but don’t discount some of the supermarket own-brands. Sainsbury’s Vodka (£11.49 for 1L) or Marks & Spencer’s Vodka (£11.79 for 700ml) are triple-distilled and make good cocktail bases. Recommend is the silky smooth Ketel One vodka. This 100 per cent wheat-distilled Dutch drop has been around since 1691. A 70cl bottle of Ketel One Vodka costs around £19.99 and is available from selected Tesco, Majestic, Harvey Nichols and online retailers including www.thedrinkshop.com, www.drinkon.com and www.specialitydrinks.com.
utton mushroom with chardonnay and tarragon on Phil’s walnut bread crostini is a delicious starter to set the scene for a special Valentine’s Day dinner – but it works just as well as a tasty supper dish. The speciality bread is from Phil’s Bakery in Lytham
(Serves 2) 8oz button mushrooms (plus a little olive oil) ½ pint of Béchamel sauce 1 teaspoon of chopped tarragon 4oz strong cheddar cheese Pinch mustard powder Salt and pepper 2 fl oz of chardonnay
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EATINGIN with Paul Rowley of the Lindum Hotel, St Annes
MUSHROOMON WALNUTBREAD METHOD Fry the washed mushrooms in a little olive oil for a couple of minutes.
Add the wine and reduce the heat. Add the béchamel, grated cheese, mustard powder, salt and pepper. Once all the Cheese has melted, remove from the heat and mix in chopped tarragon. Drizzle a little olive oil over slice of walnut bread and toast till brown. Pour the mushrooms over the walnut bread and serve immediately. To follow: Veal Escalope in a Crisp Crumb with tagliatelle and a home made tomato Provencale sauce. To finish: Creamy panacotta and fresh raspberries. To drink: A vibrant fresh Chianti. To book: 721534.
by Jacqueline Morley
WHAT A FIND: Pipers in Garstang is worth the search, for well-presented food and friendly service
asked a friend if she’d been to Pipers Restaurant at Garstang. There’s only one person of her acquaintance, she said, who would get on to a motorway and head off to an unfamiliar village for dinner when there were other places to eat within a five-minute drive. It got me thinking. If you’ve got to drive anyway – and who wants to add a £20-or-so return taxi fare to the price of a cheap midweek meal out in this economic climate, sorry cabbies – why would a few extra minutes be a problem? Personally, I’d prefer not to have a drink in the week – it’s hard enough to drag myself out of bed on a cold winter morning. So I rather fancied the idea of a teetotal evening outing to a pretty village I’d not visited for a decade. And so it was that I headed down the M55, turned off after less than 10 minutes along the A6 through Barton and onwards ... and that’s as much as I knew about how to find Pipers. The place had been recommended but, when I “Googled” it to find out how to get there, all I could establish was that it was on High Street. If ever a name oozed “central location” this was it, so we couldn’t fail to come across it – surely. After driving past it three times in a scene reminiscent of a 70s sitcom, we did indeed walk through its doors to be assured (they’d watched us through the window) the website would be up and running anytime soon to save other motorists looking quite so hapless. Our difficulties stemmed from the fact that as you arrive in the village, High Street runs both ways. We guessed and went right (correctly, it turned out) only to unwittingly pass a huge free-after-6pm car park before actually seeing the restaurant. By the time you recognise the signage you’re doomed to a circular tour of the one-way system –
FACTFILE Address: 46-47 High Street, Garstang Tel: (01995) 606665 Booking: Recommended Parking: Large car park close by Cards: Yes Vegetarian: Yes Extras: Table d'hote menu changes weekly. Call for Valentine’s menu Value for money: 8/10 Life! rating: 8/10
and then again (twice). Well, it was dark. So, to the £19.95 table d’hote menu which turned out to be well worth our troubles. A la carte options were plentiful, but we were reeled in by the so-named TDH not least because starters included a home made soup and the mains a Chinese pork dish with sauteed leeks and bacon, apple mash and mustard sauce. I should’ve followed my friend’s lead, or at least sneaked a peek at other diners’ plates before I ordered. The place was full, even on a cold Tuesday night in January and by the time my less than enticing Lancashire cheese and onion tart arrived I was obsessing about other people’s Goosnargh chicken with ratatouille vegetables and rosti potato. It had been my mistake to assume the cheese would have more bite and, while I’m on a roll here, I can never understand why when a menu item is described as coming
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with, in this case, roasted vegetables, it turns out to be such a meagre few. The size of a garnish rather than a proper portion. Amid all the expensive costs – rent, business rates, electricity, staff, decor, I could go on – why leave anyone yearning for a few extra carrots? I’m not slow at speaking up, but even I would stop short of asking for more, Oliver Twist fashion – and I can’t be the only one. That said, the food quality and presentation here is excellent, the service friendly and our vanilla cheesecake desserts were yummy. The menu, apparently, changes every week so I’ll definitely be going back for another £19.95 experience ... or, if the salmon, seabass and swordfish combo stays put, I might even decide to push the a la carte boat out.
he birds are getting frisky, the snowdrops are starting to emerge, even if the green shoots of economic recovery aren’t, so here’s to popping Valentine’s cork in a cold climate. Valentine’s Day gives us all an excuse to dote on a loved one, especially as it falls on a Saturday so you even get to sleep in next day... Traditionally, canny supermarkets court shoppers’ attentions with discounted champagne and bubbly to clear what’s left from fallen festive sale stocks. Our advice is watch for substantial reductions on brands with a reputation to maintain rather than go for rock bottom cheapies with a couple of quid off. Festive sales fell by 22 per cent but that’s no excuse to drink the cheap stuff as Le Credit Crunch bites. If you haven’t got cash to burn, think pink. Tesco has some Montez Cherub Rose 2007, a very special parcel, for just £6.99. Or buy a Spanish Cava or a French, German, Oz or Italian sparkler, dry for that biscuit bubbly lift to the spirits, and ON LINE One small wine have a carton of business, peach juice in www.fromvineyards reserve to bring a direct.com forecasts a touch of Venice’s 50 per cent growth in Carnevale, or overall sales this year, Casanova, to has seen a huge rise lovelorn Brits. A drop of cassis helps in champagne sales, and even manages to too, or a fresh strawberry bobbing turn orders round in a in the glass. Serve day – so check out the the rest with milled site. peppercorn and citrus for dessert or to clear the palate. Similarly, a buck’s fizz is a great start to the day, but be sure to make your own. Tesco’s got a lovely sparkler to share under the blankets, 1531 Blanquette de Limoux 2004, down from £9.99 to £5.99. Somerfield’s Cava Rose, lively, zingy, full of rosehips, won the Decanter Awards Silver Medal last year, and is just £4.99. It’s 50p cheaper for Banrock Station Reserve Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir, but if it has to be champagne I’d bag Somerfield’s star offer, half price (£11.99 until Feb 17) Nicole D’Aurigny Reserve Brut, quite a classy champers with tongue tingling mousse, biscuit notes, fabulous with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. WHAT’S NEW: Nicholas Feuillatte has introduced the One Fo(u)r range, champagne miniatures (pictured), 20ml, so equivalent to two flutes, to preserve the bubbles. The pink’s bright, charming, strawberryish on the palate, and the Brut’s elegant, well balanced, with floral nuances, and both under a tenner, which is a pricey way of buying champagne if you’re after quantity, but not bad for a treat, a novelty, or romanic gesture. It’s £9 for the Brut, £8 for the rose , from John Lewis, or www.johnlewis.com. CREDIT CRUNCHER:if you want a rock bottom fizz Lidl has a nice Prosecco (as used by the Italians with peach juice, or an aperitif) under £2 a can – as well as the bottled variety which works out much cheaper.
Don’t forget to send your booze news, clubs, favourite finds, swigs and tips to jacqui.morley@blackpoolgazette. co.uk
Saturday, February 7, 2009
TIMEOUT NEW FICTION CHORAL SOCIETY Prue Leith
She’s probably best known as a food writer, restaurateur and cook, but in Choral Society Prue Leith has whipped together all the ingredients to create a rattling good read. If this novel was a meal, it would be a light and fluffy souffle. There are no deep hidden meanings here – instead, this is a well put-together morsel which will satisfy female readers of a certain age . In it, three 50-something women at a crossroads in their lives join a singing group. Lucy, a recently-widowed food journalist is finding it hard to recover after losing her prestigious newspaper column to a young whippersnapper TV celebrity, while Rebecca is currently without a man – and for Rebecca, life minus a bloke isn’t worth living. Finally, there’s hotshot businesswoman Joanne, who can conquer any financial crisis but can’t sing a note. The threesome become friends, and as their lives intertwine, the reader is taken on a hugely entertaining journey. Quercus, priced £14.99
NEW NON-FICTION THE WEIGHT OF A MUSTARD SEED Wendell Steavenson
Just as British troops prepare to withdraw from Iraq, here comes a timely survey of the Saddam era and the immediate aftermath of the 2003 invasion. Amid the acres of newsprint and countless books about Iraq, The Weight of a Mustard Seed stands out for weaving the broad historical narrative of the country’s past half-century with the personal experiences of ordinary Iraqis and those who participated in the Baathist regime, principally the late Journalist Wendell Steavenson portrays the regime of terror under Saddam but also the traditional hostility of Iraqis towards foreign invaders and their anger at the country’s descent into chaos. Atlantic Books, £14.99
CHILDREN’S CHOICE AMY GREEN TEEN AGONY QUEEN: BOY TROUBLE Sarah Webb
Sarah Webb’s first book for young teens is a resounding success. Her
own brand of heartwarming chick-lit easily lends itself to writing for girls suffering teen angst and yet to embark on romantic adventures. The book’s narrator is Amy Green, a smart 13-year-old, who lives with her mum and her boyfriend Dave and their two littleones. Amy’s Aunt Clover, her mum’s sister, is just 17 and taking a gapyear to work as The Goss magazine’s resident agony aunt. Clover is the girl at school that everyone wanted to be – she’s pretty and funny and can handle any situation with style. She quickly ropes in Amy to help her solve a stack of reader’s problems – which leads the pair into some comedy scrapes -– and ultimately helps Amy to mature as a young adult. Walker Books, £5.99
BOOKCLUB CHOICE BEAUFORT Ron Leshem
An overnight, international, literary sensation, Ron Leshem’s debut novel won Israel’s top award for literature and was then turned into a prize-winning film. Written as the diary of Liraz Liberti, a commando serving in Lebanon during Israeli occupation, it brilliantly communicates the outrageous and often brutal voice of teenage soldiers caught up in one episode of the nihilistic Middle Eastern conflict. Comic, absurd and piercingly truthful, it is an incredible debut novel. Vintage £7.99.
NEWDVDs BURN AFTER READING
IA agent Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich) loses his job and decides to bide his time, when he’s not drinking, by penning his memoirs. An electronic copy of the manuscript ends up in the possession of gym employee Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) and co-worker Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand), who attempt to blackmail Osbourne. Unfortunately, the former agent refuses to accede to their demands so Chad and Linda head to the Russian embassy, intent on selling Osbourne’s insider secrets to the enemy. Meanwhile, Osbourne’s hardnosed wife Katie (Tilda Swinton) revels in an extra-marital affair with serial womaniser Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney), who has also begun dating Linda. Unbeknownst to all of them, the CIA is monitoring every twist and turn. After the nerve-racking tension of the Oscar-winning No Country For Old Men, writer-directors Joel and Ethan Coen return to comedic territory with this pithy tale of espionage and infidelity. Burn After Reading is peppered with colourful characters we love and loathe in equal measure. Malkovich relishes his role as a hard-drinking curmudgeon, who cannot believe the incompetence of his would-be blackmailers.
Tangled life of a CIA agent COMEDY CHAOS: A scene from Burn After Reading Clooney essays another charming oddball, while Pitt steals every scene. Whether
Chad is dancing goofily to music from his MP3 player or attempting to conceal his identity on the telephone by adopting a risible, raspy voice, we cannot help but chuckle at his comical misadventures. The unlikely double-act with McDormand’s cosmetic surgeryobsessed spinster is a joy to behold. Not classic Coen brothers fare but there are enough flashes of insanity and brilliance here to keep us smirking for almost the entire 92 minutes. Burn After Reading (Cert 15, 92 mins, Universal Pictures UK, Comedy/Drama/Romance, DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99)
PAPERBACK CHOICE REMEMBER ME Melvyn Bragg
When English-born Joseph meets Natasha from France at Oxford in the ’60s, the attraction is instant. This tragic love story by prolific writer and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, focuses on the nature of marital love. Powerful are the emotions which bind a couple together, but all too often, real life gets in the way. Hodder, £7.99
THE LAST BOOK I READ
I've just read Maeve Binchy’s This Year it Will be Different. It contains 22 short stories written on a Christmas theme but written in her own unique style of storytelling. It is amusing, sad and thought provoking – retired hotelier Elaine Smith, chairman of Blackpool Civic Trust Tell us about your favourite read. e-mail email@example.com
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RAY GUNS ARE NOT JUST THE FUTURE The Bird and The Bee
Imagine The Ting Tings booked into choice a Las Vegas cabaret lounge or the band which St Etienne wished they’d booked for their anniversary party. Inara George (Little Feat’s late frontman Lowell’s daughter) and Greg Kurstin are one of those delightful boundary breaking combinations you can’t hear enough of. Irresistible. Blue Note
LOVE IN THE... Various
Pick a decade – and be careful you get the right one. Each of these four collections highlights love songs from one decade – just make sure that both of you share the same memories from the 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s before taking the plunge or there could be trouble. So take your pick from Percy Sledge (60s), Andrew Gold (70s), Simply Red (80s) or All Saints (90s) with some pleasant surprises thrown in for good measure such as The Ramones, Harper’s Bizarre, Gram Parsons and The Lemonheads. Rhino/Warner Platinum
MEANWHILE AS NIGHT FALLS Angie Palmer
This former Preston singer may have missed her moment. With so many female singersongwriters around even being dubbed an English Lucinda Williams or Joni Mitchell might not help her cause. She is still perfectly at ease criss crossing genres and has a deeply satisfying voice – especially in the epic eight minute big production Weeping Wood and the emotional Hunting The Wolf. Akrasia Records
THE DVD RENTAL TOP 10 1 (-) Taken 2 (-) Tropic Thunder 3 (-) Eden Lake 4 (2) Death Race 5 (1) Hancock 6 (6) The Dark Knight 7 (4) You Don’t Mess With The Zohan 8 (7) Hellboy 2: The Golden Army 9 (8) Wall-E 10 (-) Babylon A.D.
■ Chart supplied by www.block buster.co.uk
SCENE STEALER: Brad Pitt in Burn After Reading
Former government operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) hopes to rebuild bridges with his spoilt, 17-year-old daughter Kim (Maggie Grace), and reluctantly bows to pressure from ex-wife Lenore to allow the girl to visit Paris with best friend Amanda. Midway through a telephone call to Kim, to check the girls have arrived safely, Bryan’s worst fears are confirmed. Albanian thugs break into the girls’ city centre
SIM ANIMALS Wii
If you’re a Sims addict, you’ll probably feel that you’ve given your virtual creations everything they could ever ask for in their pixelated lives, from penthouse apartments to high-flying jobs and tailor-made pets. Perhaps now it’s time to take a look at what else nature has to offer when it comes to this genre’s control-freakery. Whether it’s deer, squirrels, rabbits, hedgehogs or owls, you’re thrown into the middle of the action as they all come together in your very own forest setting for a wild time! Solving challenges will unlock forest areas required to help your animals thrive; it’s survival of the fittest out there, as you’ll soon find out who the troublemakers and good guys are, and what it takes to make sure everyone gets along – or not! 4/5 £39.99
AC/DC LIVE: ROCK BAND PS2
apartment and drag away Amanda and Kim while Bryan listens across the Atlantic. (Cert 18, 89 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Action/Thriller, DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £28.99)
NIGHTS IN RODANTHE
With her marriage in freefall, Adrienne Willis (Diane Lane) takes time out from her wayward husband (Christopher
Meloni) and resentful, teenage daughter (Mae Whitman) to spend a weekend in the North Carolina coastal community of Rodanthe, looking after the beachside inn. The promise of peace and quiet is short-lived with the arrival of the inn’s solitary guest, Dr Paul Flanner (Gere), who has unfinished business with local resident Robert Torrelson (Scott Glenn). (Cert PG, 93 mins, Warner Home Video, Romance/Drama, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £26.99)
There can’t be many gamers out there who haven’t sampled the delights of the Rock Band series in someone’s living room or bedroom in the past year or so, and you’ll probably know the drill anyway. Play your way through a host of top tunes to unlock further musical challenges, ditching the traditional controller for all manner of plastic periphery. Here, AC/DC take centre stage, offering up a whopping 18 of their classic tracks to unlock in Tour mode, or you can stage-dive straight into a quick play and pick any of them from the outset. Sadly, you can’t import any previous bands you’ve created and must play with the default characters, which puts a bit of a dampener on things. 3/5 £19.99
CSI: NEW YORK PC
SECOND TIME AROUND Matt Andersen
It’s only months since his first full length studio album was released here but with a current UK tour (nearest date – The Met at Bury next Friday) this is a good opportunity to sample some more from one of Canada’s finest blues guitar players. Matt revisits some of his earlier material as well as taking on the Bill Withers classic Ain’t No Sunshine and Steve Earle’s excellent My Old Friend The Blues. Andersen Music
Third albums are notoriously “difficult” and as if to prove the point the Ferdinands have come up with something which is, well quite frankly, difficult. Having made their mark with edgy guitar-led commercial rock they seem to have listened to too many Scissor Sisters albums, added a touch of testosterone and then run out of ideas so extended a couple of tracks to well beyond their stay by date. It’s time to decide – dance band, rock band or former band. Domino
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GRAMMY NOMINEES 2009 Various
There’s just time to catch up on the 15th edition of this best selling series before the 51st annual Grammy Awards ceremony takes place on Sunday in Los Angeles. Most of the best known categories are here with the likes of Coldplay and Adele almost certain to pick something up. Duffy and Leona Lewis but face competition from Pink and Katy Perry. Expect the expected – they usually win. Grammy Recordings/Rhino
Millions of TV viewers remain hooked to the hit CBS detective series, and here the writers of the show have crafted five new original cases, allowing fans to experience the environment, characters and mysteries of CSI: NY. In traditional point-and-click adventure style, you’re tasked with piecing together clues and uncovering hidden evidence in America’s biggest city, exploring five brand-new, bizarre crimes and bring suspects to justice along the way. Playing the characters of Detective Mac Taylor and Stella Bonasera will be a bit of a thrill, and their authentic voiceacting adds some in-game atmosphere. 3/5 £19.99
ANIMAL MAGIC: The new Sims game DON KING PRESENTS: PRIZEFIGHTER BOXING
Wii Fight Night has been the undisputed champion of the boxing world for quite some time, and hasn’t really had a heavyweight contender to really test its excellent credentials. Prizefighter, despite the backing of the wild-haired promoter Don King, doesn’t really run it close at all, despite impressing with some excellent in-game features. A polished career mode and some innovative training mini-games provide much promise, but on stepping inside the ring it’s the meat and drink controls that fail to hit the dizzy heights of EA’s fighter, focusing on a simpler, less strategic control structure that may draw more gamers in at the outset but will also leave more left feeling unrewarded by the more basic button mashing. Fight Night still holds the belt. 3/5 £39.99
WORD ACADEMY Nintendo DS It’s another DS dose from that strangely enjoyable genre named ‘edutainment’, where gaming fun manages to mask that painful process named learning. Word Academy stimulates you to learn interesting new words in a fun way, discovering them through six different mini-games and also playing with your friends through five other multiplayer games. You can choose between four different coaches that will help you through the game, and with a dictionary of over 16,800 words to master, if nothing else you’ll become a demon player on Scrabble. 3/5 £19.99
They say that laughter is the best medicine. And if you need an injection if humour into your day, then check out www.dotcomedy.com. Here you’ll find a whole host of comedy videos from US TV, clips of stand-up and classic sitcoms, as well as the best viral movies culled from the internet.
■ A secret tunnel in my back garden, gardenbunker.blogspot.com ■ Bloggers in the House of Lords, lordsoftheblog.wordpress.com
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Ten steps to happiness W
e all want to be happy, feel fulfilled and generally bask in a constant warm glow of contentment. But if life constantly seems to thwart you, especially in these current hard times, you could try boosting your chances of feeling good by following the new ‘10 Commandments for Happiness.’ The easy day-to-day actions have been pinpointed by Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley who discovered their value during work on his book, Born To Be Good. And he points out: “Our current situation is showing, what social scientists have long known, that the central pursuits of the past 20 years – materialism, competition, and just looking out for number one – just don’t bring us happiness. “In fact our true nature is to be kind and good to each other, and if we allow those natural instincts to shine through we’ll feel more content and that will spread to others.’’ Follow his happiness recipe by doing at least three of these daily.
When we laugh, our stress-related physiology calms and we create good will and pleasure in ourselves and those around us. He says: “In my research, people fare better when facing the deepest of life’s problems - the death of a loved one, romantic conflict, terrorism - when manage to see some humour amid the tragedy and they laugh. “Also, we have lost the art of play - we need more teasing, rough and tumble, and silliness.’’
Expressing what you are grateful for, in your own life or in the qualities of people around you, boosts well-being and health.
“Start simple - find one thing to be grateful for - and think about it privately. Then make it a conversation with others. Set off a gratitude revolution so it spreads through families, classrooms, and workplaces.’’
We’re not naturally selfish, and in general are the most co-operative and giving of species. He points to a study that recently found people were happier when giving £15 away than when spending it on themselves. “We are wired to give - giving always brings deeper and more lasting rewards than taking,’’ he says.
Smiling is simple but hugely powerful and ideally we should smile dozens of times each day because it’s like ‘social chocolate’ that helps life run smoothly. He points out: “In humans, a good smile stimulates pleasure-related regions of your brain and in the brains of those who witness your smile, it evokes trust and good will. It calms people down. “Forcing the wrong kind of smile is torture, but cultivating the right kind of smile, of warmth, is like giving chocolate to those around you.’’
Take time to look up and around you and notice the beauty in in nature, in art, and in the details and positive moments of daily life. “Be thankful for the kind gesture, the warm smile, the friendly tone of voice. Savour those moments and try to store and remember them when you feel down.’’
Look out for and support others - children, grandchildren, partners, colleagues and neighbours. “We are wired to care. A bundle of nerves in your chest, the vagus nerve, unique to
mammals, hums with activity when we care - it is a care-taking organ. And in caring, this bundle of nerves fills us with purpose and good health.’’
TELL YOUR STORY:
Our minds are designed to tell stories about our lives. “When you tell your story, both the joys and trials and tribulations, your mind creates a narrative that brings sense to life and reduces its uncertainties and anxieties,’’ he says. So take time to write down your thoughts, read, meditate and share and talk through your experiences with others.
Stop yourself overthinking and spiralling into feelings of disaffection and despair by being physical. He advises: “Get out and move the body jog, do yoga, play table tennis, dance, and go on walks with your children, a partner or friend. “You’ll feel the joys of the endorphins, you’ll see your problems through a new lens, and your clothes might fit better!’’
Trust is a glue of social life, it builds strong
Raw food is route to feel full of energy DAVINA Mackail (right), an expert on creating healthy living and work spaces has appeared on numerous TV programmes such as Channel Five’s House Doctor with Ann Maurice, and she shares her New Year health and wellbeing resolutions for 2009. Davina says: “Last year I made a resolution to only eat raw foods for six months. I actually ended up doing it for nearly eight months because it made me feel so well and full of energy. “I still have a large proportion of raw food
in my diet and my resolution is to now eat only raw food for as long as I feel comfortable with it.’’ She now makes her own chocolate “which is easy, such a treat and it’s free from those unhealthy nasties such as dairy and sugar’’. Davina confesses that her one weakness is coffee. “I regularly give it up because I believe caffeine stresses the immune system. “But then find myself all my good intentions wrecked when I’m tempted by having a frothy cappuchino in
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a cafe and sitting watching the world go by!’’ She keeps her wellbeing stable by going to weekly Bikram yoga classes - where techniques are practised in a heated room to maximise stretching and effect. And she says: “I meditate daily - even five minutes a day makes an enormous difference to the way I perform. I also pause regularly in the day and take a couple of long, slow deep breaths to steady and destress myself.’’ She also ensures that she minimises the amount of electro magnetic pollution in her home, and keeps clutter to a minimum to ensure she enjoys high energy levels in her rooms.
personal relationships and connected communities. “Twenty years of looking out for number one and the emphasis on materialism has worn down the trust in our social fabric. We trust each other far less than before. “So fight back and take time to dwell on the good in those around you, and have confidence and self belief that life will work out well despite the difficulties that beset you.’’
Touch and be touched. “When we are touched in warm fashion, our cardiovascular stress calms, our immune system grows, we get a burst of the love drug - oxytocin. “When we touch others we build trust and appreciation. Regrettably, Britain and America are low touch cultures. We have become wary of touch, when in fact it may be the oldest and most powerful mammalian instinct to show friendliness and co-operation.’’ ● Born To Be Good, by Dacher Keltner, published by Norton, £18.99. Available February 13, 2009.
HERBALLY WELL IF you’re fed up with dosing yourself with over-the-counter remedies a range of natural, herbal solutions from Duchy Originals could appeal. The company, founded by Prince Charles is famous for its food but his passion for healthcare has led to this range. The Detox Tincture has extracts of Dandelion and Artichoke to aid digestion and cleanse the system. Echina-Relief aims to help relief symptoms of colds and flu and includes Echinacea; Hyperi-Lift is to relieve symptoms of slight low mood and mild anxiety and contains Hypericum often known as St John’s Wort. Each costs £10 each,from Boots and Waitrose. see www.duchyoriginals.com.
Love your look
ove the way you look and he will too! Here are some fabulous beauty buys to have you looking and feeling every inch a princess for Valentine’s Day. Pucker up: For irresistible lips, Lipcote, the original lipstick sealer, has been creating perfect pouts for for more than 50 years. The sensational sealer, £3.49 from Boots and retailers nationwide (main picture and inset), will see you through the day and into the night ...
Emma Harris, Gazette health writer and qualified gym instructor, with her weekly look at staying healthy THE BIG QUESTION I HAVE heard people in the gym talk about drop sets when training with weights. What does this mean and what does it do? Drop-sets are a way of training with weights or resistance, enabling you to train muscles for both strength and endurance in the same session. The idea is to start with a heavier weight and perform as many repetitions as you can with correct technique, until failure. Then drop the weight by about 20 to 50 per cent and perform the same exercise again, without having a break in between, again with good technique, until you reach failure again. Once again, you drop the weight by about 20 to 50 per cent and perform as many repetitions as you can, maintaining correct technique, until failure. You can then have a break and you may want to perform another set in the same manner. But they are intense, so it is best to only use this method for one or two muscle groups and only do it once or at the most twice a week. It’s not really suitable for beginners. It works by employing the fast twitch, white muscle fibres when lifting the heavier weights – helping to develop strength. But then when you drop to the lighter weights, red, slow twitch muscle fibres are recruited – thus improving endurance. You can use the same training method on both resistance machines and free weights and weights do not have to be very heavy, just whatever challenges you and overloads your muscles.
Love all: Captivate him with the scent of love – Romance by Ralph Lauren (above). This seductive fragrance is from £21.07 at Debenhams. Be a smoothie: How will be resist your soft, deliciously perfumed skin? Body and massage oil from L’Occitane (right) is enriched with grape-seed and sweet almond oils, it softens and nourishes the skin, leaving it supple and fragranced! £12.
KEEP THE WEIGHT OFF
Women who want to lose weight – and keep it off – need to be exercising for almost an hour, five days a week, according to experts. The study found that the 55-minute regime was the minimum needed to maintain a 10 per cent drop in weight. Approximately two-thirds of adults in the UK are overweight or obese, with some estimates suggesting that this could rise to nine in ten by 2050.
Women who wear the wrong kind of bra could be damaging their breasts, researchers have warned. Their studies found that poor support could lead to fragile ligaments in the breast being stretched; and that during exercise, breasts move up to 21cm up and down, in and out and side to side – but most bras just limit vertical movement. They also warned that crop-top sports bras didn’t give enough support.
Blushing beauty: A hint of a blush is just oh-so-cute. Technic’s stylishly packaged Duo Blusher (above) is available in two ‘suit all’ shades and creates a gorgeous iridescent rosy glow. It’s a bargain at £1.49
EXPERTVIEW BEAUTY TIP Use a humidifier which will help keep the air and your skin moist - Blackpool-based beauty expert Sue Simpson Let us have your beauty tip. e-mail email@example.com
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WRAP UP WARM
If simply stepping outside is enough to give you freezing cold fingers and toes, you could have a condition called Raynaud’s. This is a very common ailment where cold situations make your extremities turn white and feel painful. Prevention is the best treatment, so make sure you wear gloves and thick socks if it’s a particularly chilly day.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
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Have a heart
SISTER ACT: Samanda, aka Sam and Amanda Marchant, have come a long way since their pinkthemed wardrobes on Big Brother. The fashionsavvy twins are quite the style icons and have been chosen to front Knickerbox’s new season campaign. “We love Knickerbox’s grown up girl-next-door image – we’re huge fans of the pretty styles,’’ the pair say. See the latest collection at www.knickerbox.co.uk.
Enjoy window shopping with life! in our weekly guide to tempting offers
here’s just one week to go until Valentine’s Day and with these red hot little numbers, the man of your dreams will know that love is on the cards. Be a scarlet woman and steal his heart! Cutie cupid: Cheeky chic for fun loving Valentines – heart-shaped sunglasses £8, boyfriend jacket £30, Limited Edition summer dress £35, socks £3 and pumps £10, all from New Look (main picture). Basque in lurve: You’ll turn into a temptress when you step into this Valentine’s red silk basque set (right) £22.50 from Marks & Spencer.
CHINESE CHECKER: Chinese New Year celebrations are now in full swing as millions of people around the world commemorate 2009 as the Year of the Ox – the symbol of prosperity and good fortune. Swiss watch maker Swatch has designed a limited edition to mark the occasion with its fun theme Bulls on Parade, £42. A signature style plastic timepiece decorated with bold red Chinese characters signifying “gold” and “good luck” which are attributes associated with the Ox.
Love heart: Send out a subtle love signal on your Valentine’s night out, with this pretty clutch bag (right). From River Island, £21.99.
Time for bed: Wear your heart on nightie with this pretty little number (above). From Matalan, £7.
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Sex it up: Red hot patent platforms will show your pins off to perfection. From Faith, the Cyla shoe (left) is £60.
Net gain: Seductive and cute, unusual stretch jacquard with a pleated look is used with dotted tulle and fine lace for this seductive lingerie. Bra £24, suspenders £15, G-string £11, all by Triumph International (left).
BEAUTY TREAT: The stunningly romantic Be My Valentine gift box from Celtic Herbal includes a range of lavish items that will bring a smile to your Valentine’s lips. The gift box includes Rose, Grapefruit and Lavender Bath Oil; a fragrant blend of essential oils to leave your skin feeling wonderful; two 140g handmade soap bars in Rose and Angel; a Ylang Ylang essential oil candle to create mood lighting; and a net of dried rose buds, perfect for sprinkling in your bath.£21.95. www.celtic-herbal.co.uk or 01758 701883. FAIR BITE: Think fair when you are picking up you mid morning snack bars. Fair trade organisation Traidcraft has revamped its successful Geobar cereal bar range by introducing more fair trade ingredients, adding two new flavours and improving recipes – packing in fairly traded ingredients from producers in Chile, Pakistan, South Africa and across the world. The two new flavours are Honey Nut and Mixed Berries. Around £2 for a box of six bars.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
For your week ahead Visit The Manchester Museum for a funpacked activity day next Saturday – Armour ● Day Big Saturday – when you will discover what
armadillos, stag beetles, puffer fish and warriors from the Iron Age and Japan have in common. Join in a design challenge and create armour to protect an egg from attack. Plus you can join in a celebration of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthdayn There will be live performances, talks, music, a recreation of Darwin's famous ‘worm charming’ experiment on the bassoon and lots more, 11am to 4pm. The Manchester Museum is at The University of Manchester, Oxford Road. Hit www.manchester.ac.uk/ museum or call 0161 275 2648. Explore Cumbria in perfect Valentine style on a ● tandem for two. Country Lanes’ Windermere Cycle Hire Centre offers a full day’s tandem hire for £30. This price includes free use of safety helmets, route sheets, map-holder, lock and expert route advice and you can book your bike online so it’s all ready by the time you arrive. The Cycle Centre is at Windermere Railway Station so you can hop off the train, on to your bike. Visit www.country laneslakedistrict.co.uk/windermere_cycle_hire.htm
Amazingly old swan drops by IT’S always nice to catch up with an old friend ... but staff at a Lancashire wildlife centre were stunned when a rare swan came “home” – 18 years after it first visited Martin Mere. The 23-year-old Bewick’s swan, first ringed at the Burscough centre in 1991, is thought to have travelled more than 100,000 miles during his “unusually long” lifetime. It is thought the swan – last seen in Lancashire at Bradshaws Lane in Pilling in January 2006 – has migrated 2,200 miles to Martin Mere from Siberia. Throughout his life, he has been logged as mainly visiting the Netherlands and Denmark. Centre manager Andy Wooldridge said: “After reading the metal ring number, we were amazed to discover the bird was ringed at Martin Mere as an adult in 1991 when we assumed he was at least four, making him an astonishing 23 years old in 2009. “A swan is considered old at 20. We know that he is a male swan because the ring
was placed on his right leg, the identification tool for knowing the sex of a swan. He appears to have distinctive stop-off points on route to Lancashire.” Martin Mere is best-known for the numbers of Whooper swans that migrate from Iceland but, during the 1980s, it also
welcomed thousands of wintering Bewick’s swans from Siberia. Visitors can spot the Bewick’s swans during the daily swan feeds or when they leave the roost during the final dawn flight on Saturday March 14. Ring 01704 891220.
An urban hit
North Fylde Model Rail Club has a mini ● exhibition at Milton Youth and Community Centre, Fleetwood today (noon-5pm) and tomorrow (10am5pm). There will be working layouts. Adults (£2.50), seniors £1.50, juniors £1.50, families (2+2) £7.
Visit Hoghton Tower, near Preston, the ● third most haunted house in Britain on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evenings, for a ghostly tour. Enjoy hot mulled wine, then venture through silent rooms, explore ancient underground passages and dungeons by candlelight. Finally, relax in comfort with a delicious meal. Tickets £25 per person. Booking Essential. Tel; 01254 852986. Winners of the Life! competition for family ● tickets to visit The Rum Story in Whitehaven were: Janet Van Dyke, Moss Side Lane, Lytham;
Jason Hardie of Highfield Road, South Shore; Mr J. Huntbach of Chester Avenue, Poulton; Miss L Hargreaves of Carleton Gardens, Poulton; Wendy Hay of Homestead Drive, Fleetwood: Petra Gendle of Staining Rise, Staining.
FREEFUN PRESTON is to mark the new Chinese Year of the Ox with special celebrations tomorrow. A tradtional Lantern Day will take place on Sunday with events taking part in the covered market in the city centre. There will also be a parade with tradtional lion dancers, a Chinese market, free workshops and entertainment.The fun is from 11am-4pm.
MY FAVOURITE DAY OUT Rivington Pike, which is a public park with hills and trees, but it’s pretty cool. It’s a bit of a challenge walking to the top, but it’s great when it’s snowing! – student Kay Taylor who lives in Preston Let us have your top day out destination. e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
T got off to a shaky start - but Manchester city centre museum Urbis has pulled in the crowds for a record breaking year. It faced a storm of criticism over early exhibitions when it first opened in 2002. But now things are looking up for Manchester's ‘museum of modern life’, after the latest figures showed a huge increase in visitor numbers last year. More than 260,000 people went through the doors in 2008 – an increase of 67 per cent since 2005. Almost three quarters of visitors were under 35 and 60 per cent were repeat visitors. Urbis came under fire when it emerged in 2003 that visitor numbers had slumped to just 200 a day.
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DAYOUT Bosses took the radical step of scrapping the admissions charge and its popularity soared. Urbis boss Vaughan Allen said: "Because Urbis is young and had everything to prove when it first opened, the team has been able to create a new kind of cultural organisation in the city, with the city and for the city. It is rewarding that the figures show that people in Manchester like what they see. "We won't be resting on our laurels. In fact 2009 will be our most ambitious yet as the increase in visitor numbers means
that we have ever more people to please. We know that our visitors come back time and again. "So we always have to follow the wow factor of the first visit with something equally lasting." This year, the Reclaim project, which works to encourage youngsters to achieve and make a positive impact in their communities, will continue. Exhibitions will include State of the Art: New York, in which 16 of the Big Apple's bright young artists have been invited to present their views of the modern world. Urbis in Cathedral Gardens, Manchester, is open 10am-6pm daily. Admission free. Find out more on www.urbis.org.uk or call (0161) 605 8200.
Reservoirs turn into wildlife oasis
BATHTIME FUN: Adorable towel for baby’s bathtime, the mini mode cream hooded towel, with its cute bear design, is practical too. £10 at Boots stores or online at www.minimode.co.uk.
Splashing time for the family
NEWLY completed wildlife haven near Preston is now open to nature lovers. Three redundant reservoirs at Grimsargh have finally been converted into a wetland wildlife reserve by United Utilities. At first, residents feared the reservoirs would be drained or the land used for housing, meaning the loss of a local attraction. But, much to their delight, United Utilities decided to make it into a conservation area. Work to transform the reservoirs, near Longridge, began after birds had finished breeding in the summer. Consultation with Grimsargh Parish
DAYOUT Council was carried out and, now, the transformation, which includes wooden boardwalks for visitors, has been completed. The work is part of United Utilities’ £2.9bn environmental and water quality programme across the North West. David Hindle (above at the site), of Preston Road, who was behind the exhaustive Birds of Lancashire guidebook, has studied Grimsargh wildlife for years. He says he is extremely pleased at what
JUST SWIMMING: Make bathtime playtime for your family with this brood of ducks from Matalan, which cost £4 the set has happened to the land, and wants people to know about the area. He predicts the wildlife will flourish over the next two years. He said: “It’s a breath of fresh air. Preston has become very urbanised lately. “It’s great to see this kind of thing happening. The three Grimsargh reservoirs have always been good for wildlife. But now there will be even more plants, animals and birds.” United Utilities has drained one reservoir, left another half full, and the third remains near to its original level. “This has created an environment suitable to a much wider variety of animal and plant life,” says United Utilities Landscape and Ecology Manager Brian Tollitt.
Half-term chance to get your skates on EVERYONE enjoys dancing on ice! Christmas may be over and many town centre temporary ice rinks have long since gone - but now there’s chance to get your skates on during the half term holidays. Guy's Thatched Hamlet at Bilsborrow, near Garstang, has a ‘Real Ice’ Skating
Rink on site from Thursday until Sunday, February 22. The invitation is for families and friends to soak up the winter atmosphere of ice skating on real ice. Whether you are a seasoned skater or a beginner, a glide around the ice is great fun – and entertaining, to judge by the
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millions who tune in for the celebrity ITV1 series Dancing on Ice each Sunday! The Guy’s Thatched Hamlet rink opens on Thursday at 4pm and is open daily from 11am to 10pm. The price is £5 for a 45-minute skate! including skate hire. Bookings now being taken.
CHILD FRIENDLY: Employees of retail giant, Matalan, have given the NSPCC a great start to 2009 by donating more than £232,628 to help protect vulnerable and abused children. Workers from across the company’s 200 UK-wide stores raised the fantastic amount through a variety of year-long fundraising activities including dress down days, store entertainment, fun runs, marathons, sample sales, head office cake sales.
TOOTHBRUSH TIDY: Make cleaning their teeth fun for your children with this chirpy toothbrush holder - Douglas the Duck tumber is £4 from Matalan.
HELPING HAND Recently formed from the merger of the National Council For One Parent Families and Gingerbread, the Gingerbread charity website, www.gingerbread.org.uk , is full of information for lone parents including advice on benefits, tax and other financial help, education, work and childcare. There’s also an online Helpdesk and factsheets, and a Dads’ Place.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
OUTDOORS WEEKEND CHORES ● Pinch out rhododendron and azalea buds damaged by frost to prevent the spread of disease. ● Cut out broken, diseased, dead or rubbing branches on established trees and shrubs except Prunus. ● Wash and disinfect seed trays and pots, ready for early spring sowing and planting. ● Make any necessary repairs to structures supporting plants such as trellises, pergolas and arches while the plants are dormant. ● Give perennial vegetables such as asparagus, artichoke, rhubarb and seakale a dressing of general fertiliser, which will wash down to their roots ready for the new growing season. ● Sow early salad onions in a greenhouse now, or outdoors under cloches in mid-February. ● Give struggling hedges a boost with a dressing of general fertiliser or a mulch of well rotted manure over the area of root run. ● Apply lime to any ground that needs it, particularly the vegetable plot. Soil enriched with manure in the autumn can now be treated. ● Check that cloches haven’t moved out of alignment, or unwanted cold air may find its way to your crops. ● If a cold spell threatens, crops such as spring cabbage can be protected by spreading straw around them. ● Buy celery seed for sowing under glass in March or April, to produce plants to be set out in late May or early June. ● Refresh pot plants which are not to be repotted by removing some of the surface soil and replacing it with fresh compost. ● Continue to top up food and water supplies for the birds.
GOODENOUGH TOEAT Testing vegetable seeds
IF YOUr vegetable seeds have been stored for a long time, test their viability before sowing. Put 50 or 100 seeds on damp absorbent paper on a saucer and keep it moist and in a warm, dark place. The seeds should germinate within two to three weeks, producing roots and first seed leaves. Count the seedlings and work out the percentage of germination. Don’t count seeds that have just swollen, as all seeds swell when wet. Sixty per cent germination is the minimum required for you to consider sowing that batch of seed, as when sown outside, the percentage will be lower.
in association with The Alpine Centre
s the winter gloom persists, it’s a welcome escape to think ahead to summer and the possibility of growing delicious, juicy red fruits which are a taste of warmer weather. I caught up with Gardeners’ World presenter Carol Klein this week, who was contemplating the ingredients to make the perfect summer pudding, most of which will grow happily in cooler gardens. “Raspberries, blueberries and other easy-togrow fruits such as redcurrants will combine beautifully and are easy to grow,’’ she says. Carol, whose new book Grow Your Own Fruit (Mitchell Beazley, £16.99) follows on from her previous best-seller Grow Your Own Veg, believes that we are more hesitant about growing fruit than veg. “The majority of veg grow over one season – there aren’t many perennial veg – and it’s a oneoff thing. People get worried that fruit might be difficult to maintain. “But raspberries, for instance, are among the most versatile fruits - they freeze well and make the most wonderful jam and the great thing about them is that you don’t need a really sunny place. They will crop in a bit of dappled shade because they are basically a woodland plant.’’ You don’t need a lot of space as you can grow them in a row, up wires, or make a little hedge at the back of your vegetable garden or herbaceous border. “Scottish raspberries are always the best varieties,’’ she says, so go for types including ‘Glen Moy’ and ‘Glen Ample’. “With autumnfruiters, chop them right down to the base in really early spring and they’ll come back year after year.’’ Other fruits which are easy to grow and make great additions to summer puddings include blackberries, blueberries, redcurrants and strawberries. “Strawberries will spread hugely so are easy to propagate by taking the runners and dipping them into little pots of compost. When you’ve done that, take them away to make a fresh strawberry bed. “Put them round your flowers if you don’t have enough room elsewhere and they’ll make good ground cover and you’ll get a lot of fruit that way, but keep suckers to a minimum once you’ve grown on what you want.’’ If you are a beginner to gardening and can only grow one ingredient for your dessert, grow a blackcurrant bush, says Carol. “It’s completely straightforward, will fruit prolifically and will just get better and better. The maintenance is simple. Every few years you just
Fruit for your labours IN GOOD TASTE: Carol Klein picks strawberries. and (left) a summer pudding
INTHEGARDEN take out a third of the oldest wood and that’s it.’’ You can even grow a bush in a big half barrel container, she says, provided you don’t use proprietary multi-purpose compost. You’d need a loam-based compost because the plant will be there a long time and you need really rich soil. Like gooseberries and redcurrants, blackcurrants tolerate a wide range of soil conditions but prefer well-drained, moisture-retentive soil. They prefer full sun but will tolerate light shade. Avoid frost pockets, as frost can drastically reduce yields. “One bush should yield about 4.5kg (10lb) of fruit,’’ says Carol. “In small gardens they can be
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Tuesday, February 10 Carleton Garden Club. Tony Bracegirdle “Roses”. Carleton Scout Hall, Poulton Road, Carleton, 7.30pm. Thursday, February 12 Kirkham and District Horticultural Society. Bill Poole. Bees and Beekeeping with Wild Flowers, Kirkham Grammar School (6th Form Lounge), Ribby Road, Kirkham, 7.30pm. Thornton Cleveleys Horticultural Society. Keith & Chris Buxton “Borneo - the Land Beneath the
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Clouds”. Thornton Little Theatre, Four Lane Ends, Thornton, 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. Thursday, February 19 The Alpine Garden Society. Jim Almond - “Propagation: a matter of life and death”. Methodist Church, Greaves, Lancaster, 7.30pm
with Hannah Stephenson grown in containers.’’ Bare-root blackcurrants should be planted in late autumn, while containerised plants can go in at any time of year, as long as the soil is not too wet. If you decide to go for blueberries, they require a moist, acid soil, can be grown in pots of loambased ericaceous compost and also provide an ornamental feature thanks to their warm autumn colours. “I just want people to have a go. Just grow a little row of raspberries or just a few strawberries, which are cheap enough but will repay you 100 times over,’’ she says.
Winter aconite (Eranthus hyemalis) THIS clump-forming, tuberous perennial produces stemless, cup-shaped, bright yellow buttercup-like flowers on a ruff of light green leaves. It makes a good ground cover plant from late winter to early spring and is ideal for naturalising in dappled shade beneath deciduous trees and large shrubs, especially in chalky soils. Bulbs should be planted in autumn in fertile, moist but welldrained soil. Winter aconites spread rapidly to form colonies, which can be divided after flowering.
t is a brave picture editor that omits a photograph of Croston from any calendar of Lancashire views. The arrangement of church, ancient bridge and the river combine into a striking scene that immediately arrests the eye. Add to this the fact that there is hardly a decade in the past 400 years that hasn’t left its mark on the village’s vernacular architecture. Often such a mixture of styles can produce an eyesore, but in Croston old and new blend in pleasing harmony. It is well worth visiting in its own right. This walk starts in the village then follows the Yarrow to its confluence with the River Douglas before returning by way of the moss. 1. Start: Car park off Town Road, Croston,(Thursday to Sunday) or on Town Road itself. To arrive at Croston, from Junction 28 of the M6, join the A49 to Wigan. At Euxton follow A581 to Southport. This will take you into the village centre. The car park is on the right behind the Lord Nelson. (If you intend taking refreshment in one of the village’s several hostelries, you should be able to come to an arrangement to use a pub car park.) 2.Car park to Great Hanging Bridge, 3k From the car park, return to Town Road and turn left towards the church. Cross the ancient packhorse bridge across the Yarrow and turn right into the Hillocks. Follow the lane between rustic brick barns and turn right at the junction. At the next junction cross the road and take a short ginnel between houses. Turn right and follow the street to where it joins the Southport Road by some Georgian almshouses. These were dedicated in the year of George III’s jubilee 1807. Turn left onto the A581 (Meadow Lane). For the time being it is best keeping to the left side where there is a narrow pavement. Make the most of the bridge as it crosses the railway – it is virtually the highest point on the walk. Continue to a slight bend then cross the road, taking due care since it can be quite busy, to a stile on top of the embankment. The River Yarrow soon meets the River Lostock and then, after passing under pylons, joins the River Douglas. Follow the embankment around on its wide sweep to the left. Here you are barely above sea level; but for the embankments the area would be awash. Further along on the opposite bank you will see a pumping station that helps to drain the rich farmland. A short way beyond the pump house you come to Great Hanging Bridge. Local inquiry has not revealed the derivation of the bridge’s name other than to distinguish it from Little Hanging Bridge. One plausible suggestion is that it was built after the River Douglas was channelled away from its original course so that the original bridge now Little Hanging Bridge was left hanging there to no purpose. 3. Great Hanging Bridge to Croston, 4k
Renowned for its views CENTREPIECE: The River Yarrow running through Croston
FACTFILE Summary: Distance: 7k 4 ½ m Time: 2 – 2 ½ hours Terrain: Flat. Mainly farm tracks and some road walking Map: OL 285 Southport & Chorley
Cross the road a follow a track as it bears left in front of a works depot. After 250m after the track crosses a ditch turn right. This is Shepherd’s Lane. Keep on it for approximately 500m – 7 or 8 mins, and then follow the main track as it bends to the left towards the electricity pylons. At the level crossing take the advice of the warning signs. There are not many trains along the Preston to Ormskirk line but it would only take one to turn you into coarse mince! Keep ahead at the next junction of tracks past Moss House Farm. The track now begins to upgrade itself and by the time it reaches Sumner’s Farm is fully metalled.
The lane swings to the left towards the village with hedges on either side, the first hint of enclosures since the walk commenced. The lane will bring you to the edge of Croston. After passing a farm entrance on the right, turn right at the next corner towards the cemetery. Take the footpath on the left that crosses the Yarrow and leads through the old village school to the churchyard. Bear left into Church Street. At the end turn left to return to the car. ● Walk by John Griffiths and Bob Clare. Hit www.lancashirewalks.com for more walks exploring the diversity of the Lancashire countryside.
BIRDWATCH with Kate Humble
t’s always a bit of a relief when January is over isn’t it, although weather-wise the temperatures can get even lower this month, especially close to the coast. We may still be a long way from spring and frosts are frequent, so our wildlife has a tough few weeks yet. February certainly heralds an increase in wildlife activity and don’t be surprised to spot the occasional bumblebee or a hedgehog waking for a light snack. Don’t worry too much though – it will probably nod off again for a few weeks! St Valentine’s Day is said to be the day when birds pair up ready for the breeding season. I suspect a bit of poetic licence here as many birds have already laid claim to their territories and some may even be nest-building. It’s a bit late for nestbox cleaning but if you still have one to install you’d better do it quickly if you want the birds to use it this year. Its also an ideal month for hedge trimming, but do be alert for nests just in case you have any early home makers. I don’t know about you but I can’t bear the gym and would much prefer some physical activity outdoors to pacing on the treadmill any day. Why not shake off the sloth of winter with a brisk walk on an RSPB nature reserve or a stroll round the countryside? There are still lots of winter migrants around to enjoy and keep an eye out for swirling masses of starlings, as they flock together before diving into a sheltered roost site – usually woods, reed beds and buildings. Keep your fingers crossed, too, that the gloom of late winter will be brightened by the appearance of the waxwing; a beautiful bird which feeds on rowan and other berries, though not many have appeared in the UK for several years. I live in hope! For more information on wildlife, nestboxes and nature reserves visit www.rspb.org.uk
SWIRLING MASSES: Starlings flock together before roosting
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Saturday, February 7, 2009
Here’s a selection of Gazette Travel offers... in association with Liverpool John Lennon Airport BEST OF THE BULBFIELDS April 15, six days from £289
To mark the arrival of Spring 2009, join this short break to the world famous Keukenhof Gardens, the biggest bulb show on earth and see millions of tulips and bulbs in bloom. The hotel Dennenhoeve is a traditional Dutch hotel which boasts indoor pool, whirlpool, sauna, solarium, tennis court and British style pub. The price includes crossings with P&O North Sea Ferries, hotel accommodation, transfers and entrance to Keukenhof Gardens and a visit to Bruges. Organised by Phoenix Holidays.
RHINE CRUISE TO SWITZERLAND August 9, nine days from £769
The breathtaking beauty of the Rhine Gorge and the prettiest corners of France, Germany and Switzerland will be revealed on this terrific Rhine Cruise which also includes visits to Strasbourg, Rudesheim and Basle. Enjoy panoramic views of snowy peaks, mountain streams and forests from the comfort of your excellent vessel, not forgetting great food and a warm welcome. Includes coach travel, Channel crossings, cabin accommodation and full board. Organised by Phoenix Holidays.
LONDON WEEKEND RAIL SPECIALS Various 2009 dates, three days from £109.95
It’s so quick to travel to London by rail. In a matter of hours you could be taking in a show, visiting the famous sights or shopping till you drop in one of the capital’s many shops and boutiques. Why not enjoy all London has to offer on one of these fantastic breaks. Includes a reserved seat by standard class rail to London and return and two nights accommodation at the 4 star Thistle Barbican with full English breakfast. Upgrade to the 4 star Thistle Grosvenor for a supplement of £10. Organised by Omega Holidays ABTA V4782.
ANCY a trip to the Algarve for beautiful beaches, sun and great food? Or maybe a flying visit to the vibrant city of Lisbon? What about one of the lesser-known Portuguese beach areas like the Costa da Prata – the Silver Coast north of Lisbon? No? Perhaps the historic cities of Porto, Coimbra and Obidos with a drive across the gentle Alentejo landscape and a visit to the wonderful old town of Evora is more your cup of tea. Portugal has so much to offer, it's difficult to decide where to go but not now, as award-winning tour operator Preferred Travel Services can show you on a holiday to the Algarve & Historic Cities of Portugal. One of Europe’s oldest nation states, Portugal is a land of contrasts. The greener northern region contrasts with the more arid south; the more commercial, populous areas near the cities and southern coast contrast starkly with the quieter, more traditional areas inland. Experiencing this contrast on one holiday has been difficult in the past, but a fine new motorway ink between the capital Lisbon and the Algarve has made travelling much easier. The first part of this unique cocktail is a direct flight form Blackpool International to Faro followed by two nights at the four star Hotel Vila Gale in the delightful coastal town of Tavira on the eastern Algarve. With a free day in Tavira to spare, you can either explore the fascinating old town, take a one euro boat ride to one of Portugal’s most famous beaches or take a trip across the nearby Spanish border to Vilareal. On the third day the grand tour of Portugal begins with a drive across the Alentejo prairies to Evora, a walled city with a wonderful Roman temple, a lovely 13th century cathedral, and a fine medieval town square. Continuing north, you cross the mighty Tagus River on the 10-mile long Vasco da Gama bridge en route to Pederneira on the Costa da Prata. The base for the next four nights is the four star Hotel Miramar, perched atop the cliffs overlooking the resort of Nazare. From here one day is devoted to Lisbon and Obidos. Lisbon is one of Europe’s most spectacular capitals, dominating the Tagus River and offering superb views of the estuary and the riverside Belem Tower. In Obidos you can walk along the old city walls and view the cobbled streets and whitewashed houses below. Another interest-packed day takes you to Porto and Coimbra. Porto, with its unique coastal and river location, is home to the traditional port trade and a visit is not complete without taking in a visit to one of the port shippers’ lodges. In Coimbra you can soak up the atmosphere of this wonderful old university city where students in their black caps are much in evidence. The university dates from the 13th century,
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LOTS TO OFFER: A secluded cove on the Algarve. and (below) the capital Lisbon
A country of contrasts CONTACTNUMBERS Call our 24-hour brochure hotline: 01772 838080 Other inquiries: Telephone as above or www.gazettetravel.co.uk
and several areas are open to the public. If this wasn't enough, there is still time to see the pilgrimage site of Fatima where thousands still come on the anniversary of the vision of the Virgin Mary in 1917. Leaving the Costa da Prata, you head back south, this time down the west of the country back to Tavira for the final night. This holiday departs in May, Sept & Oct 2009 and costs from £659. The price includes return flights, half-board throughout and included visits to Lisbon,
Obidos, Porto, Evora and Coimbra. For a brochure phone our brochureline. Organised by Preferred Travel Services ATOL 5537
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Saturday, February 7, 2009
SOCIETYDIARY YOUR STARS
With Cassandra Nye
For the week starting February 2 AQUARIUS (21 Jan-19 Feb) Make sure you are on the same wavelength as loved ones as this week begins. The Full Moon shines into every nook and cranny of close relationships. If you should see something that puzzles or upsets you, talk about it to your partner. PISCES (20 Feb-20 Mar) Stresses and strains are highlighted this week, but you may choose to ignore them. Don’t get too strung out over things that change from day to day. Wait until they settle to take a positive approach. Your dreams are alive and well although they seem to be hiding behind a mist of irrelevance! ARIES (21 Mar-20 Apr) A Leo Full Moon brings desire and disruption in equal measure. Any romantic relationship that has been going through changes now needs to be concentrated on. There is the potential to make good any damage done, but that can mean, initially, going over old ground. TAURUS (21 Apr-21 May) A deceptively low-key start to the week can soon change under the influence of the Leo Full Moon. Family relationships are highlighted in both good and bad ways. The good is that those close are able to express their feelings with clarity and passion. GEMINI (22 May-21 June) Having confidence in your ability to turn a situation around is important. There are a lot of scare tactics going on that can lead you to see something looming that is, in fact, a change for the better. What happens this week can simplify your life and relationships. A dramatic Full Moon initially brings both fears and passions to the surface. CANCER (22 June-23 July) With Valentine’s Day a sparkling attraction at the weekend, you would much rather be concentrating on that than thinking about finances. Still, let’s get it out of the way and dealt with, shall we? The Full Moon in Leo at the beginning of the week throws a bright light on cash and business dealings. LEO (24 July-23 Aug) Your image and surroundings are thrown into the limelight as this week begins by the emergence of the Leo Full Moon. Matters close to your heart and home are given extra time and thought, bringing unexpected delight. VIRGO (24 Aug-23 Sept) As one chapter of your life comes to a close, the Leo Full Moon encourages you to look forward. It isn’t always easy to change or to let changes happen around you, is it? There is usually a good part to whatever is no longer there. LIBRA (24 Sept-23 Oct) With something very desirable and tantalising in view, it is frustrating to realise that it is going to take time and patience to get to it. Being an inventive and imaginative person, you may look for a quick approach. SCORPIO (24 Oct-22 Nov) There are challenges on the work front at the moment and the Leo Full Moon throws a hot spotlight onto them. Far from worrying you, however, this allows you to see more clearly where your talents are best used and where it is right to let others take some of the load. Indeed, your leadership skills are sharp and inspiring. SAGITTARIUS (23 Nov-21 Dec) Matters that are working quietly in your intimate life are continuing to heal old wounds. Because of this, the Full Moon may have less influence on your moods than usual as this week begins. Letting the world wash over you seems to work quite well until later on, when someone shows their true colours. CAPRICORN (22 Dec-20 Jan) Sudden demands made on you and your resources need careful thought, not an instant reaction. Keeping your temper also means keeping your sense of perspective. Although someone may upset you, let go of any resentment, for it can only damage your spirit. Forgive and move on, making a vow never to make the same mistake again.
Mayoress of Wyre Yvonne McCann, president Fleetwood Rotary Gordon Oates, Mayor of Wyre Coun Gordon McCann, and president-elect Margaret Lund
leetwood Rotary Club held their 83rd charter night dinner at the North Euston Hotel, Fleetwood. President Gordon Oates welcomed members and guests including Wyre Mayor Coun Gordon McCann and Mayoress Mrs Yvonne McCann.
Carol Bolton-Heaton, Terry McCann, President Fleetwood Interact Keeley Howarth, Shaun MacNeill and Vice-President Fleetwood Interact Sophie Oldcorn
Irene and Brian Pollitt, Dorothy and David Heath
Shaun and Sue Hartley, Mike and Donna Page, Fred Kazi, Jill and Robert Wright
■ To order any of the photographs on this page, please contact our photo sales department on 01253 361867
Darren Rowe, Peter Ford, Elaine Smith, Sean O'Toole and David Cam
Rick Ingram, David Huck, Wendy Huck, David Hadwin and Tracy Hadwin
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Mark Timms and Neil Ashton
lackpool Civic Trust celebrated the heroes and heroines who keep heritage vibrant with the presentation of their community “Oscars” at the Blackpool Town Hall.
Sandy Lee, Mayoress of Blackpool Coun Mary Smith, Carl Carrington and Tim Brown