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CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC (12A)
Based on Sophie Kinsella’s novels. Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher) is a 25 year old who lives cheap with her best friend Suze (Krysten Ritter) in a trendy part of town. Rebecca has low paid job with a financial magazine but an expensive shopping addiction. Her bills are piling up when she discovers a story that she is truly invested in. Exposing the story gets the attention of a colleague that she hasn't quite figured out yet. Drama ensues as she snags the guy, and she attempts to pay off her evergrowing debt. Rating: Overdrawn
In the early hours of March 9, 1997, Christopher “Biggie” Wallace, aka rapper The Notorious BIG, left a Los Angeles club with his entourage, bound for their hotel. When the vehicles stopped at traffic lights, an unknown assailant opened fire in a drive-by shooting, fatally injuring the musician. Executive produced by Sean “Diddy’’ Combs, Notorious is an overlong biopic that doesn’t draw any conclusions, but offers up a reverent if not entirely affectionate portrait of The Notorious BIG Love the music, love the film. Rating: LImited appeal
HOTEL FOR DOGS (U)
In a canine comedy aimed squarely at youngsters, Nancy Drew’s Emma Roberts turns her talents to dog sitting. She is a supposedly errant foster child Andi who shares a secret pet with her younger brother Bruce. When they discover a disused hotel they turn into a refuge for the city’s unwanted stray hounds. There a parade of cute pooches play with Bruce’s elaborate inventions and, well, that’s about it. Lisa Kudrow and Kevin Dillon seem strangely miscast as the under used deluded rocker foster parents. Rating: Cold dogs
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THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (12A)
HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU (TBC)
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
A relatively exciting British action-thriller set in the modernday world of psychic espionage. Nick (Chris Evans) and Cassie (Dakota Fanning) are among a group of unique individuals who have inherited and developed special psychic abilities that originated from human experiments conducted by the Nazi regime during World War II. Unfortunately all previous experiments have ended in tragedy and they find themselves on the run from Carver (Djimon Hounsou) and his troops, part of a clandestine government agency determined to harness their powers for evil. Rating: Some pull
THE PINK PANTHER 2 (PG)
Just when you thought it was safe to assume that the worst cod French accent around belonged to the cast of ’Allo ’Allo along comes Steve Martin in the least anticipated sequel of 2009. This time Inspector Clouseau is on the hunt for a thief who has stolen the world’s top artefacts. But like the original re-make it comes over like a weak version of spoofs like The Naked Gun with not enough jokes or invention. The former clever funnyman needs comedy support but is surrounded by straight actors. Rating: Pants Panther
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Man’s best friend learns to stand on his own four paws in this computer animated comedy, which pokes fun at our obsession with celebrity. Since he was a pup, Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) has been the star of a popular TV series, in which he plays a genetically engineered canine with superpowers who saves plucky owner Penny (Miley Cyrus) from dastardly Dr Calico (Malcolm McDowell). But once thrust into the real world he embarks on a series of misadventures. Rating: Hot dog
A Baltimore that fans of The Wire won’t recognise 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
FRIDAY 13TH (18)
He’s back – and he’s badder than ever. Five young friends end up missing in the woods near the abandoned Camp Crystal Lake (made famous by the original 1980 film), after visiting the site where a psychopathic killer resides. Meanwhile another group arrive at a cabin on the lake for a weekend of sex, booze, and drugs. But their fun weekend soon escalates into a nightmare when the young adults find themselves face to face with evil reborn, reimagined, and rebooted, and his name is Jason Vorhees. Rating: More gore galore
Veteran star Clint Eastwood, 78, reveals why he prefers working behind the scenes to being in front of the camera
n all-round performer with multiple hit records and starring roles in countless Hollywood films in a glittering four-decade career, Bette Midler truly deserves her celebrity star status. The Divine Miss M is now starring in her own Las Vegas show and her latest album is The Best Bette. For more information visit www.bettemidler.com
e’s had many box office successes during his long and esteemed career, yet Clint Eastwood must be chuffed that his latest offering, Gran Torino, is his highest grossing film ever. The gritty drama, which he stars in, directed and produced, cruised to the top of the North American box office in its opening weekend and remains in the Top 10, having taken in over 120m dollars. Not bad, considering the living legend wasn’t looking to act again. “I hadn’t planned on doing much more acting, really. I said a few years ago, ‘I don’t think I’ll act any more, I’ll stay behind the camera’,’’ he admits. “And then Million Dollar Baby came along and I liked that role, so I said, ‘I think I’ll do this role because I’m right for it’, and then I did Gran Torino. It had a role that was my age, and the character seemed like it was tailored for me, even though it wasn’t. “The message from the story was great – it shows that you’re never too old to learn. And that’s why I’m still working at 78, because I like learning something new all the time, and every time you do a project, you learn new things. That makes it fun. When it’s not fun, you won’t see me doing it any more.’’ Clint has had one of the most illustrious careers to date. The man who carved out a niche for playing tough guys and cowboys in the ’60s has successfully made the transition into a five-time Oscarwinning filmmaker, directing movies like Changeling, Million Dollar Baby and Mystic River, and winning over a new generation of audiences at the same time. “Directing is a great thing. That’s one of the reasons why in my senior years I do this kind of thing – hide behind the camera and let the young people jump and run with the ball,’’ he says. “It’s a great pleasure these days to watch the talent come along. I’m always amazed at how good some of them are at such young ages, because it took me forever to learn how to say my own name.’ In Gran Torino, Clint plays Walt Kowalski, a grumpy Korean War veteran who’s forced to come to terms with his prejudices. “Walt’s very, very disturbed about the way his world has gone. He was raised in a neighbourhood in Michigan that was populated with automobile people like he was, probably a high percentage of Polish Americans, like he is. So when he sees his
GRITTY DRAMA: Clint Eastwood as Walt Kowalski, a grumpy Korean War veteran
Story of an angry man neighbourhood changing, it discourages him.’’ The San Francisco-born actor relished the role, especially loosening his tongue with Walt’s insults. “I didn’t have to worry about dialogue – he just sits there and growls all the time, and fill in a few lines here and there,’’ he chuckles. “He’s an equal opportunities insulter. I knew a lot of guys like him, so this guy just seemed like a real person. People in general are tired of walking on eggshells because everyone’s so worried about being ‘sensitive’ and this way, you can sit there and live vicariously through a guy who’s totally insensitive. It’s fun. I think everyone would like to be Walt Kowalski
■ Clinton ‘Clint’ Eastwood Jr was born in San Francisco on May 31, 1930. ■ Once labelled a womaniser, he is happily settled with wife Dina, whom he married in March 1996. ■ His most memorable roles are in spaghetti westerns (left) like A Fistful Of Dollars and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, and Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry. ■ He has an interest in politics, and became mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, from 1986 to 1988.
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for 10 minutes. He’s honest in his feelings.’’ With his reputation, Clint, who has acted alongside Angelina Jolie, Meryl Streep and Hilary Swank, could have his pick of leading stars – yet he chose unknown actors from the Hmong community in California, and he admits he had to educate himself about them. “Because they had helped the Americans during the conflict, they were brought here as refugees after the end of the Vietnam War,’’ he explains. The multi-talented Clint also co-composed the Gran Torino soundtrack with his son Kyle, although he’s eager to play his role down. “As you start making the film, you start living with it and you live with it all through the preparations - I find myself sometimes sitting down and figuring out some sound that I think would go with the film. That’s all it is. It’s not brain surgery,’’ he says. There are rumours circulating that Gran Torino could be the last film before the father-of-seven (and grandfather-of-two) retires from the acting spotlight. “I’ve been saying that for years,’’ Clint says. “However, you never know. You never say never. I don’t know how many, if any, great roles they have for guys my age ...I could play butlers, I suppose.’’ ■ Gran Torino will be released at cinemas nationwide on Friday, February 27.
What are your favourite songs on the new album? I’m very partial to my own song Something Your Heart Has Been Telling Me, also Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most. I also love that song Friends. I do When A Man Loves A Women in my show and I love performing that – people go nuts over it. How excited are you about doing the Las Vegas show? The most exciting part was putting the show together, doing the rehearsals, hiring everybody, putting the costumes on people and deciding what we were going to do. Now there are shows and you have to be in good, good shape in voice and health. That’s a different type of challenge but it’s always very exciting. What’s your average day out in Las Vegas like? It’s a hard and long day! I have to do things for my energy levels. I run, do pilates, yoga and all that stuff, do a little bit of business, then the soundchecks start and it’s into hair and makeup. The show sometimes runs a little bit late and then we have to see people afterwards, so I’d say it’s about nine o’clock in the morning to 1am. What keeps you motivated? It’s my job, it’s what I do, and the people who buy my tickets expect a certain level of performance and I always feel obliged to give it to them. Did you always want to be a performer? I’ve performed my whole life and I always imagined myself in very skimpy clothes - I always imagined I wouldn’t be just a performer, but in a showgirl line. Now I’m a little bit older but that hasn’t stopped me, I’m still wearing as little as possible and standing in the middle of all these different showgirls – it’s a dream. Did you ever think you’d be as successful as you are? Sort of. I certainly imagined I’d be doing it for a long time. There were times when I could have given up, but I never did. Do you ever think you’ll retire? I’m way older now and the challenges I face are completely different than before. My daughter has graduated from college, and my husband and I are of a certain age and find there are a lot of things we like but we don’t have a chance to do – we both work so hard! So I can understand the idea, because really by the time you get to be a certain age, retirement doesn’t just mean you leave the room and lie down – it also means that you’re tired! Acting or music? I actually think of acting as a vacation from singing. Singing, music and its presentation are very hard, there’s a lot of things you are responsible for. In acting you’re usually just an employee for hire and your part is somebody else’s vision. Are there any more albums on the horizon? I’d love to sing new material, and there are so many songs I haven’t sung in such a long time that when I do it’s actually like singing new material. Some of those songs I haven’t sung in over 20 years – I guess they’ll be on the next one. I love new material but it’s very hard to get, because the music business has changed so much. I’m not first on everyone’s list, so I mostly have to find my own material and that can be a real drag, and it’s really hard work.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Stars tune up for a red hot blues treat
et ready for the return of Studio Blues at Blackpool Grand Theatre from February 27 with visits by the Bob Hall Show featuring Top Topham, Zoot Money, The Stumble and the Lyndon Anderson Band. The Lawrence House Studio will once again resound with the sound of slide guitars, saxophones, haunting harmonicas, boogie woogie pianos and amazing acoustic sets thanks to the welcome return of the Studio Blues season. The Bob Hall Show featuring Top Topham kicks off in true rocking style on Friday with the first of two shows in Studio Blues 2009 featuring originals of the 60s Blues Boom. Acknowledged as Britain’s finest blues & boogie pianist; Bob Hall was a founder member of The Groundhogs and Savoy Brown and also backed visiting American bluesmen such as Howling Wolf, John Lee Hooker and Chuck Berry. In 1963, aged 15, Anthony “Top” Topham was a founder
member and lead guitarist for The Yardbirds. On Friday March 27 there’s Zoot Money (inset). He formed the Big Roll Band with Poulton-born Andy Summers (of The Police) in the early 60s fusing R&B with jazz. He also played with Alexis Korner and Alan Price. Zoot wrote hit songs for Lulu and Long John Baldry and produced the Tutti Frutti album from the television series of the same name in 1985, which launched the careers of Robbie Coltrane and Emma Thompson. He has also been regularly seen on our TV screens. Today Zoot’s huge talent continues to bring his own blend of experience and fun to entertain and amuse you. Friday April 17 sees the Blackpool return of The Stumble. Following the release of their acclaimed second CD The Houngan, The Stumble are making their first visit to the Studio. Featuring the mighty guitar of Colin Black and Paul Melville’s heartfelt vocals; this six-piece band from Preston are dedicated to hot, live,
rapturous Chicago blues. What you get from them is a classic valve-driven back line driven with shuffle and roll. Influences range from BB King, Freddy King, Maceo Parker and The Allman Brother’s Band to Booker T and King Curtis. On Friday May 22 there’s the Lyndon Anderson Band. When it comes to the blues, the Lyndon Anderson Band has all the bases covered. Whether it’s a 1950s Chess classic, a chunk of 70s funk, a rocking Texas shuffle, jazz influenced West Coast swing or one of their many originals, they play it all with style, authority and taste. From Lightning Hopkins to The Meters and beyond, they mix up tunes from the likes of Muddy Waters, James Brown, Junior Walker and the Fabulous Thunderbirds. To book for Studio Blues 2009 at the Lawrence House Studio at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre call 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. All seats £10 for each evening. Students £9. Studio Blues 2009 Linked Ticket available – £25.50 for three shows, £30 for all four shows.
GUITAR MAN: Colin Black of The Stumble
Showcase for magicians THERE’S magic in the air again this weekend when more than 110 dealers, dozens of performers and demonstrators and their guests from all over the world take over the entire Winter Gardens for the 57th annual Blackpool Magicians’ Club annual convention. Organised by Derek Lever, the 2009 Convention has more innovations and is bigger than ever with a full dealers’ Super Showcase open all weekend. Most of the weekend is for ticket holders only but the public can gain access to the brand new Intercontinental Magic Championships in the Opera House on Saturday from 7pm, and the International Gala Show on Sunday. Saturday’s championships carry a $10,000 prize and feature an invited cast of Kenris Murat (France), Kyoko (Japan), Rolf Reiner (Spain), Dirk
Arnold Brown, one of the founders of Britain’s “alternative” comedy explosion, heads the bill at Variety Lives on Sunday – the first of two comedy and music nights at the Library Theatre in Manchester. Also on the bill is rising comedy star Carrie Quinlan, who is a regular panellist on BBC Radio Four’s The News Quiz and a writer on many of Radio 4’s top comedy shows including The News Quiz, The Now Show, and Late Edition on BBC4; and veteran comedy magician and illusionist Otiz Cannelloni, who will compere the evening. The line-up for this night of comedy and music, and laughter and song, is completed by elegant jazz chanteuse Barb Jungr.
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Losander (USA), Marc Oberon (UK), Yumi (Japan), Adrian Soler (Venezuela) and Hans SeolHee (Korea). The show will be compered by Tony Stevens. The Sunday show is compered by Canada’s Derek Scott and features Tony Chapek interacting with television; An Ha Lim from Korea – hailed as the greatest card manipulator of all time; manipulator Jeff McBride; Arthur Trace’s innovative prize-winning act with an artistic theme; dove magician Ervan Bodiou from France; diablo juggler Tony Frebourg from France; Jerome Murat the Living Statue; Rudy Coby from America pus Dutch star illusionists Oscar, Renza & Mara with Magic Unimited. The evening also features the presentation of the Murray Award and the Ken Dodd Comedy Trophy.
The second Variety Lives night, on Sunday March 29, features Steve Nallon, Hattie Hayridge, Ronnie Golden, and jazz and soul singer/songwriter Carol Grimes. Shows start at 8pm. Tickets £14.70. ■ Library Theatre, Central Library, St Peter’s Square, Manchester. Box office: (0161) 236 7110. Opera North returns to The Lowry at Salford Quays next week with three major productions. They are Puccini’s harrowing, powerful, poignant Tosca (Wednesday), the cutting edge, comic, Skin Deep (Thursday) and Gershwin’s darkly satirical, political Let ’em Eat Cake (Friday and Saturday), all at 7.15pm.
Trio take on works by the masters LYTHAM St Annes Music Circle’s next concert takes place on Friday and will be given by the Boreas Trio, comprising of Sophie Wang (violin), Camilla Bisengaliev (oboe) and Jonathan Fisher (piano). The concert includes trios and duos by composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Elgar, Salieri and Schumann, and will
include The Butterfly Lovers, a work based on Chinese folklore and instrumentation.
St Annes, Woodlands Gallery in Ansdell, Plackitt & Booth’s bookshop in Lytham or the Violin Shop in Blackpool.
The concert takes place in the hall at King Edward VII and Queen Mary School, Lytham at 7.30pm. Tickets are £8 for adults and free for school students and can be obtained from the tourist office in
Further information on this and future concerts is available from Ron Naylor on (01253) 725155 or from www.concertdiary.com, LocalListOnline.com and ww.stannestowncouncil.gov.uk
A murder riddle web of intrigue T
he Agatha Christie Theatre Company returns to Blackpool Grand Theatre from Monday to Saturday with the murder mystery Spider’s Web. Brought to the resort by Bill Kenwright, the all-star cast features Denis Lill (The Royal, Survivors, Outside Edge); Melanie Gutteridge (The Bill); Catherine Shipton (Casualty’s Duffy, inset); Ben Nealon (Soldier, Soldier) ; Bruce Montague (Butterflies) and Grand Theatre favourite Mark Wynter. When Clarissa discovers a dead body in her drawing-room, she tries to dispose of it before her Foreign Office diplomat husband returns home with a government VIP guest in tow. Equipped with an over active imagination, Clarissa finds real life murder a little too hard to handle. And having persuaded her houseguests to help her, it soon becomes apparent that the dead man was not unknown to everyone
amongst them. As the web of deceit starts to unravel, Clarissa pulls her friends into a desperate race to unveil the murderer and solve the mystery before the police discover the felony and arrest her as their prime suspect. Following the huge success of The Unexpected Guest and And Then There Were None, this new production of Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web is another thrilling theatrical masterpiece from the first lady of crime. Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web is performed on Monday at 8pm, then Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm, Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2pm. Tickets from £14. Group rates, Friends of the Grand discount and concessions available. Book ay the box office on (01253) 290190, online at www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk or at the new Grand Theatre kiosk in the Houndshill Shopping Centre.
The Bridgewater Hall’s international piano festival returns next week bringing world class artists to Manchester. The event unites all three of the Hall’s resident orchestras – the BBC Philharmonic, the Hallé and the Camerata – plus The Royal Northern College of Music and Chetham’s School of Music in a truly city-wide celebration. Heading the bill in Piano 2009 are pianists Joanna MacGregor, Richard Goode, Nelson Goerner, Wayne Marshall and Barry Douglas, and their performances will be complemented by masterclasses and
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Let me back into the past
DIRTY DEEDS: A scene from Spider’s Web
lunchtime recitals, some by young players competing in the final stages of the prestigious Terence Judd/Hallé Award, jointly organised with The Manchester Midday Concerts Society. For more information visit www.bridgewater-hall.co.uk or call 0161 907 9000 Critically acclaimed Cirque Du Soleil is staging its breathtaking production Quidam at the Echo Arena Liverpool from Thursday to March 1. Quidam is classic Cirque du Soleil at its very best, with more than 50 performers
from 14 countries producing a thrilling combination of gravity defying acrobats, awe-inspiring aerial acts, contortionists, rope-jumpers, a balancing duo and of course the acclaimed crazy clowns. Echo Arena Box Office on (0844) 8000 400. Speed climber and BBC1’s Ultimate Rock Climb presenter Tim Emmett, will be at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal on Tuesday with his one man talk – Extreme High. Tim talks about his incredible life, giving the audience an insight into the mindset of an extreme sports athlete.
s the winsome Lesley Gore once warbled: “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.” Well, truth be told, I’m not having a party and if there’s any crying it will be done discreetly when no one else is around. But it is my birthday tomorrow – and I suppose I’ll sigh if I want to. I wasn’t even going to mention the fact – partly because I’d prefer not to think of myself as reaching an age I never thought I’d have breath to see and partly because coming as it does at the tail end of the Showzam festival and the Blackpool Magicians’ Club annual convention with all the reviews required from them, there’s not a lot of time left to celebrate. It doesn’t help that I’m ... well, no, I’d rather not reveal just how old I am.Those who know, know, Those who don’t can have a guess. Suffice it to say there’s an “0” on the end of it and a nastly squiggly number in front. I’m also thinking of sticking with it for a couple of years so there will be plenty of time for everyone to find out. I’ve been re-assured that most people so far have guessed incorrectly – and on the flattering side of incorrect as well. The Only One says they are sucking up but I don’t care. Most of the time I can bluff it out. It’s only when I read music quotes such as “The stripped bare beats of minimal techno and dubstep are finally making way for something more ... maximal” that I think it’s time to dust down my vinyl and immerse myself in the past again. I’ve made a token gesture by having my annual haircut but I have to admit that’s more to do with seeing fellow men of a certain age Robert Plant and Mickey Rourke receiving their Grammys and Baftas and deciding I’m not well known enough to grow old disgracefully. And then there’s all this Facebook stuff. I mean what’s all that about? I was out with some younger colleagues a couple weeks ago and before we’d all got home (I think I left first) the pictures of our gathering were being posted onto the ether. Why? “So our friends who aren’t here can see what a good time we’re having” said one of them. Mmm... that’s really going to cheer them up isn’t it? I think I once joined Myspace but I can’t remember whether I might just have dreamt it. Either way I’ve no idea now what my password might have been – I’ve problems enough logging onto the Gazette system if I’ve spent more than two days away from the office. As for getting emails telling me that someone has received my phone text on their Blueberry ipod – or words to that effect – I’m clearly on another planet which is thankfully populated by fellow Luddites. Let the young ones get excited about downloading. I’m happier discovering the 13th Floor Elevators have released a limited edition definitive 10 CD box set of their material – a snip at £75 plus postage and packing (remember what that is kids?). firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Drinks with the feelgood factor PLANNING to give up the demon drink to help whittle down your waistline? Diet conscious champagne drinkers may like to invest in a bottle of Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut, which is just 65 calories a glass (normal brut champagne is 90 calories). The ultra-dry, fresh-tasting champagne is a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir grapes and is made without any added sugar. At £43.99 a bottle, it will also help to slim your wallet – available at Selfridges, Harrods and Harvey Nichols.
Try this recipe for a restorative hot toddy, using Teacher’s Blended Scotch Whisky:
50mls Teacher’s Whisky 2 teaspoons vanilla sugar 1 pod of green cardamom Pinch of cinnamon 2 wedges of lemon 1 wedge of orange 37.5mls pressed apple juice Hot water
Add the cardamom, cinnamon and vanilla sugar to a heatproof glass and gently press the cardamom. Half fill the glass with boiling water then pour in the apple juice and whisky. Squeeze in the lemon and orange then gently stir until the sugar has dissolved before topping up with boiling water. If preferred, strain into a fresh glass and garnish with a cinnamon stick. Teacher’s Whisky is available from supermarkets and wine shops nationwide, RRP £13.49.
tasty trio of ingredients, complemented by bulgar wheat and salad vegetables, makes this skewer a real winner.
(to serve four) 400g chicken breast 4 rashers of streaky bacon 12 scallops 100g dried bulgar wheat 1 vegetable stock cube Flat leaf parsley 8 sun blushed tomatoes 4 spring onions 1 green pepper Olive oil Seasoning
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EATINGIN with Helen Crampton of Le Bistro, Cleveleys
CHICKENBACONAND SCALLOPBROCHETTE METHOD
Place dried bulgar wheat in bowl, add half a pint of boiling water and vegetable stock cube and then cover with a plate. Soak four wooden skewers in hot water for a few
minutes, dice the chicken and wrap the bacon round the scallops. Thread the chicken, bacon and scallops onto the wooden skewers and brush with olive oil, grill under a medium heat until cooked. Meanwhile chop the pepper, tomatoes, spring onion and parsley and mix in with the bulgar wheat adding seasoning and olive oil, mix well. Serve the cooked brochette with the bulgar wheat salad. To follow: Roast Loin of Pork with sweet potato, apple and sage To finish: Chocolate Terrine with raspberry coulis To drink: Zonte’s Footstep 2007 Viognier Langhome Creek. To book: 853144
by Jacqueline Morley
aise your glass to Bernard - or rather his series. Wine maker Bellingham has launched a range inspired by Bernard Poslashuk (Pod to pals) in UK stores. It celebrates the Cape Winelands legacy of the maverick winemaker, whose vision helped put South Africa on the wine drinker’s map. ust sample the Old Vine Chenin Blanc, Hand Picked Viognier and Basket Press (know that feeling...) Syrah for innovation and unadulterated enjoyment. The sheer concentrated flavour of the ‘07 Chenin Blanc shines, winning gold medal, best in class and Spier trophy at the 2008 International Wine Challenge, but the Viognier is no slouch, claiming best in class and silver medal at the same outing. And the Syrah’s superb, the juice extracted by basket press to ever so gently create an extraordinary wine. But the joy’s in the price, all three under a tenner, the Chenin and Viognier already available at £8.99 in Majestic, and the Syrah at £9.99 at Sainsbury’s early March.
f location really were the be-all and endall of success then Batley Variety Club would never have re-invented big name cabaret in industrial Yorkshire, Las Vegas wouldn’t be in the middle of the Nevada desert and Blackpool’s beautiful White Tower restaurant with its art deco splendour and magnificent elevated views of the illuminated promenade would still be part of the resort’s future rather than another name consigned to the dustbin of its past. What’s more the owners of the excellent Oliver’s Bistro in the Lancaster House Hotel on Central Drive would have thought twice about their view with a room and more recently the friendly folk at the award winning Vidella Hotel on Dickson Road would have stayed with their regular trade rather than risk branching out into a finer dining experience called Cascades. Cascades? Don’t worry, our taxi driver hadn’t heard of it either – and he lives in central Blackpool. Whilst the hotel has been under its current ownership for more than five years, the intimate restaurant only came on stream last November, taking its name from a large water feature on the wall of the 46cover dining area and its inspiration from the fact that there is a dearth of quality eating experiences in this part of town. Fortunately, enough people had heard of it to make a Saturday night comfortably full of a mix of hotel guests upping their stay with either the tempting table d’hote menu (two courses for £14.75 or three for £19.95) or guests pushing the boat out from the surprisingly adventurous a la carte selection. Whilst Michelin rated chef Stephen Brennan would never admit to actually rejoicing in the White Tower’s demise, too much sympathy could rank as crocodile tears, with Cascades clearly out to attract any former regulars of the South Shore destination prepared to experiment with an evening “uptown”. Entrance to Cascades is via the hotel foyer – a rather too spacious area for comfort, but turn immediately left and there’s a comfortable bar to start the evening in whilst you make your selection relaxing over a drink. The restaurant itself is a fusion of traditional (chandeliers, bay window, flock wallpaper) and modern (brown and cream decorations and furnishings plus a functional parqué floor). The service is delightfully old school – friendly, efficient and with a good eye for detail (our table candle had barely snuffed out before a replacement was installed, the ice bucketed wine was waiting to be opened and tasted by the time we arrived at the table, explanations of what was on offer were informative and correct). Had this been a weekday there were ample selections on the table d’hote to interest us but weekends are special and Brennan clearly knows how tempt discerning diners. Had duck not been my main course I would have weakened to the warmed carpaccio of mallard (£7.65) but instead opted for the warmed sauté slivers of chicken fillet with Chinese leaves and tangy citrus based salad, crisp smoked bacon lardons and soy glaze (£5.95) – a king sized and very tasty serving which far outlasted our other starter, a homemade tomato soup (£4.95) decorated with a spider’s web of fresh cream. Another time the lobster and green peppercorn ramekin with a scallop and Chardonnay sauce and brown breads (£8.25) or the chicken liver, brandy and shallot parfait on a rocket and coriander salad with sage and fig
BRAVE VENTURE: Cascades bucks the current downsizing trend
FACTFILE Address: Cascades, Vidella Hotel, 80 Dickson Road, Blackpool. Telephone: (01253) 624947 Open: Daily 5 - 9pm (but negotiable). Closed Tuesday. Sundays, noon to 5pm. Bookings: Preferable at weekends. Parking: Reasonable adjacent street parking. Cards: Yes. Vegetarian: Good selection. Extras: Good value table d’hote, also discount offered on return bookings. Children: Welcome but no concessions. Value for money: 8/10 Life! rating: 9/10 jam would have been just as tempting. A signature dish here is the Cascades’ Fruit De Mer (oysters, clams, crevettes, langoustine, lobster, tiger king prawns, mussels, queen scallops and marsh samphire – all left in the shell and served over ice – £44.50 for two). But this was a cold enough evening and the slow roasted cinnamon infused duck on forest berry potato cake with a red wine and blueberry sauce (£16.95) sounded too inviting to turn down. Likewise, when so many fish dishes tend to the bland, risking the oven roasted Fleetwood cod with sautéed leeks, Pernod spiked creamed potatoes and roasted vine tomatoes was worth a gamble. Neither dish disappointed – the duck was plentiful though my preference would have been for it rather pinker. However the infusion was interesting and the sauce in sensible rather than over-abundant supply. Daily fish deliveries meant the two sizeable cod steaks received a huge seal of approval – succulent tasting and falling apart at the thought of a fork. Likewise the accompanying vegetables – asparagus, broccoli, green beans and cauliflower – were restaurant crisp rather than hotel stewed. Normally we would have called it a day there but we had been tipped that Stephen Brennan “takes his desserts very seriously.”
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It would have therefore been churlish not to experiment with the warmed oven baked fresh figs poached in port on sweet pastry discs with butterscotch and raisin ice cream (£5.45) – an artwork of a dish decorated with raspberries, cream and a sugar strand nest. The discs seemed dangerously like flying from the plate if any attempt to skewer them was made – but the figs were delicious and the contrasting tastes perfect. The requested half portion of chocolate mocha mousse still turned out to be overfacing, even without the chilled pouring cream and chocolate shavings (£5.95) – but was voted excellent. The wine selection is short but balanced – half a dozen red and whites ranging from £15.45 to £28.75 and a quartet of rosés, sparkling and champagnes from £14.95 to £32.75. We opted for a New Zealand Savignon Blanc at £18 which was fruity but full enough to work well with both the fish and poultry. Fresh and refreshingly strong coffee finished the proceedings. The bill – including pre meal drinks and gratuity – was in the region of £90. Not cheap but it’s quality worth paying for, in a venue brave enough to buck the current depressing downsizing trend.
The ever innovative fromvineyardsdirect.com has introduced a great new wine, Rosso del Palazzone, Montalcino NV £9.75, from Tuscan producers Il Palazzone from a glut of (lucky!) of Brunello di Montalcino, one of Italy’s best and most expensive wines. You get the greatness of a Brunello at a fraction of the price, and can set aside for a year or five, if you can resist that velvety sleekness. The company has a flair for sourcing benchmark Italian wines such as a remarkable, refreshing Rocco di Tufo, Orvieto Classico, ’07, from TOP TIPPLE winemaker Giovanni Dubani, £9.75. If you Villa Maria Private want to make Bin Pinot Noir, ’07, mamma an offer she from £10.99, can’t refuse, on Sainsbury’s and Mother’s Day, La Tesco, is Famiglia, Sicily ’06, Marlborough from Mount Etna, winemaking at its native grape Nero most accessible. d’Avola, is a Sleek velvety gorgeous glug for seductive red, £12.65. Free brimming with cherry delivery, too. and raspberry, spice,and the sort of PRICE complexity which commands respec. PLEASERS Watch out too for From Wednesday Villa Maria Private you can catch the excellent Isla Negra Bin Merlot ’06, bigger on brambly fruit, with Reserve Merlot, a damsony kick, and Sauvignon Blanc, a tannic edge. Just and Rose, at half under a tenner. price, £3.74. Cracking saving on Le Cassiane Chianti Classico, half price at £5.99 too, and Frascati Superior. To March 17.
Fairtrade Fortnight starts Monday and Booths has 10 from which to choose. We’d tip the Los Robles Sauvignon Blanc, £4.99, clean, crisp and Chilean, from a 60 strong co-op recently nominated as the best Chilean winery. Try Thandi, the Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon for ripe berries and spice, £5.49, and the Stellar Organic Sauvignon Blanc, £5.29.
Don’t forget to send your booze news, clubs, favourite finds, swigs and tips to jacqui.morley@blackpoolgazette. co.uk
Saturday, February 21, 2009
TIMEOUT NEW FICTION TWO LITTLE BOYS
Nige and Deano have been best mates for 15 years and they’ve shared everything. So it’s only logical that when Nige accidentally runs over and kills a Norwegian backpacker that he calls on Deano to help. The trouble is, Deano is still smarting from the fact that Nige has a new best mate, Gav, and he’s not thinking as straight as he should be. It might sound dark and twisted, but Two Little Boys is a laugh out loud romp. Duncan Sarkies – best known in his native New Zealand as a scriptwriter and playwright who has also written episodes of the cult Flight Of The Conchords series – has a brilliant ear for dialogue and an innate sense of timing. Somehow he’s managed to make his first novel funny, chilling and incredibly touching. John Murray, £11.99
THE FLYING TROUTMANS Miriam Toews
Taking a road trip fuelled by gasoline and diner dinners, is the all-American version of journeying towards enlightenment. Miriam Toews, shows us just how much easier, and more interesting, it is for quirky, poor people to bond, when they’re on the move. When Paris-based Hattie gets a call from her 11-year-old niece, Thebes, she returns home. Having learned that her sister is in a psychiatric ward, she hatches a plan to find the children’s long-lost father. Faber and Faber, £12.99
NEW NON-FICTION DARWIN’S ISLAND: THE GALAPAGOS IN THE GARDEN OF ENGLAND Steve Jones
which he investigated, catalogued and described the insects, plants and animals of Britain. Jones, one of the country’s top science writers, brings compelling enthusiasm for his subject and plenty of contemporary references. Little Brown, £20
CHILDREN’S CHOICE THE SANDFATHER Linda Newbery
Hal Marborough lives with his white, single mum Tina. But Hal is mixed race, and wants to know more about his background. Every time he asks his mum, she refuses to tell him anything about his dad, making him boil with anger. With his mum in hospital, the young man is sent to stay with his aunt Jude and starts to search for his father, The question is, can Hal work through his anger or will he continue to be a walking timebomb? Orion, £6.99
PAPERBACK CHOICE UNSPOKEN Sam Hayes
Devoted grandmother Mary Marshall would do anything for her children. But sometimes the past comes back to thwart your best intentions. This tense thriller should head straight to the top of the book charts. Headline, £6.99
BOOKCLUB CHOICE THE INDIAN CLERK
Madcap comedy in spy caper
axwell Smart (Steve Carell) is a surveillance expert for secret US agency CONTROL, monitoring and deciphering conversations between counterparts from the Russian agency KAOS. He is keen to prove his worth in the field but the Chief (Alan Arkin) values Maxwell’s talents too much to let him stray from headquarters. When the secret identities of CONTROL’s operatives are compromised, the Chief has little choice but to promote Maxwell and to dispatch the new operative to Russia under the guidance of mentor Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway). With geeks Bruce (Masi Oka) and Lloyd (Nate Torrence) providing technical backup and buff Agent 23 (Dwayne Johnson) as additional muscle, Maxwell and Agent 99 uncover a dastardly plot hatched by Siegfried (Terence Stamp) to kill the American president (James Caan). Based on the madcap ‘60s television series, Get Smart is a comic caper about an accident-prone yet sensitive secret agent who might just be mankind’s last, great hope. Peter Segal’s film incorporates many familiar characters and gizmos from the TV series including the shoe phone and so-called Cone Of Silence, but
Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart
with a split personality, which the screenwriters are unable to resolve. Carell embraces the film’s peculiar brand of unabashed silliness without restraint. He catalyses a pleasing screen chemistry with Hathaway, who has nothing to do apart from keep a straight face as her costar goofs his way out of trouble. Supporting performances are largely forgettable and Bill Murray shines in a brief cameo as stir crazy Agent 13, who is stuck inside a tree.
the director focuses too intently on big action sequences rather than slapstick, burdening the film
(Cert 12, 105 mins, Warner Home Video, Comedy/Action, DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £26.99)
THE BALLAD OF JOHN HENRY
A SPOONFUL OF STILES & DREWE
FOLK AWARDS 2009
Celebrating 12 years as a professional musician it’s only the past choice couple of them that haveseen the once reliable show opener start to headline major venues across the world. From thestomping opening title track to his Elmore James riffs on Last Kiss it’s easy to see why – as hecombines searingly confident guitar playing with a genuine vocal feel for the blues. On this album he makes several classics his own. Provogue
Blackpool and the Fylde College drama graduate Joanna Riding is among the cast of West End and other stars (including Gareth Gates) featured on this celebration of the 25 year songwriting partnership of George Stills and Anthony Drewe which was recorded live at Her Majesty’s Theatrelast year. The music is from familiar (Peter Pan and Mary Poppins), forgotten (Honk! and Just So) and future (Soho Cinders) musicals as well as a couple of cabaret ditties. Spekulation
In this, the 200th anniversary of the great naturalists’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his masterpiece, On The Origin of Species, Darwin been everywhere. So do we need any more? Well, yes, in short. In Darwin’s Island, Steve Jones takes us effortlessly through his subject’s other, less celebrated works, in
Although mathematicians may worship him, the Indian genius Srinivasa Ramanujan is hardly famous. But now the subject of a new book ‘The Indian Clark’ by David Leavitt, two new films and a sell-out theatrical production, it seems that the early 20th century genius nicknamed the “Hindoo Calculator” might well be worth reading about. Bloomsbury, £7.99
THE LAST BOOK I READ
Dead Lucky. Lord Lucan: The Final Truth by Duncan MacLaughlin. Overwhelming evidence appears to prove that he was “Jungle Barry” who lived and died in Goa, India from 1975 to 1996. The author is convinced that he had found him and, now, so am I ... or am I beyond reasonable doubt? Nevertheless an absorbing, un-putdownable read – Gerry Wolstenholme of Butler Street, Blackpool. Tell us about your favourite book or DVD. e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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The annual BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards are the Oscars of their genre - though it’s unlikely Bellowhead, Martin Simpson, Faustus and Phil Beer are ever likely to make as cringeworthy acceptance speeches as the Hollywood winners. The accompanying triple cd features 24 tracks by the nominated acts plus a bonus half dozen from the Young Folk Awards nominees. It’s anannual reminder of just how varied and maligned the music is. Try The Shee’s Chilly Winds or Jim Moray’s All You Pretty Girls. Proper Music
THE DVD RENTAL TOP 10
1 (-) RocknRolla 2 (-) The Righteous Kill 3 (-) Step Brothers 4 (-) Pineapple Express 5 (2) Tropic Thunder 6 (4) Death Race 7 (1) Taken 8 (6) The Dark Knight 9 (5) Hancock 10 (7) You Don’t Mess With The Zohan
INTELLIGENCE AGENTS: Anne Hathaway and Steve Carell in Get Smart
CITY OF EMBER
For the past 200 years, the subterranean metropolis of Ember has survived with the help of its massive generator but as food stores dwindle and machinery fails, this microcosm of life threatens to slip into eternal darkness. Graduate student Doon Harrow (Harry Treadaway), the son of noted inventor Loris (Tim Robbins), and feisty classmate Lina Mayfleet (Saoirse Ronan) resolve to find a solution to the
■ Chart supplied by www.blockbuster.co.uk
HOUSE OF THE DEAD: OVERKILL Wii
House of the Dead is a classic arcade series and Overkill represents the first foray into Wii territory for the light-gun shooting action, coming up trumps, for the franchise and the genre in general. Graphically, Overkill is cracking and will provide some jump out of your seat moments, although the visual prowess does have a negative on the framerate when the action hots up. This aside, you’ll love the Xrated dialogue and overall grindhouse feel to this production, which may be an acquired taste, but behind the blood and guts is the kind of technically accomplished title that we’re all dying to see more of on Wii this year. 4/5 £39.99
F.E.A.R. 2: PROJECT ORIGIN PS3
nightmare. Lina stumbles upon the answer when she finds a metal box containing badly torn, cryptic instructions. (Cert PG, 91 mins, Entertainment In Video, Family/Drama/Action, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99)
Turner Prize-winning artist Steve McQueen recreates the hunger strikes of the early ‘80s in the Maze Prison just outside of
Belfast in this harrowing narrative feature film debut. New inmate Davey Gillen (Brian Milligan), who is flung into a cell with fellow non-conformer Gerry Campbell (Liam McMahon). At Sunday Mass, Davey is introduced to Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender),Bobby is brutalised by the guards and resolves to protest by starving to death. (Cert 15, 102 mins, Pathe Distribution Ltd, Drama, DVD £19.99)
Just when you thought it was safe to peep out from your sight target, that creepy little girl that sent shivers choice down all shooters’ spines last year in the original F.E.A.R. is back, in another dark dollop of intense first-person shooter action. Beginning shortly before the ending of F.E.A.R., a Special Forces squad is on a routine mission when the city of Auburn is rocked by a supernatural explosion. Alma, that freaky girl with immense power and a thirst for revenge, has unleashed her wrath upon the city and thrown it into chaos. And so begins another awesome episode of closequarters battling through the supernatural and super-organised human opponents that Project Origin throws at you. Put simply, it improves on the original in almost every way, and provides gamers with the first real blockbuster gaming experience of 2009. 4/5 £39.99
DESTROY ALL HUMANS: PATH OF THE FURON Xbox 360
If you’ve hit double digits then the names BB, Freezebone and Mostart probably mean very littleto you. They are the Monkees of the i-pod generation, three “artists” who double their musical talents with harnessing the 13th note to battle evil in the world. Their debut album doesn’t tackle quite as many notes but is a frothy collection of mainly high energy tunes with street cred titles such as We Rule The Playground and Livin’ It Lovin’ It. Oh to be young again. Freewave/ Union Square Music
END OF THE TELEGRAPH WIRES Zoo
Having picked up the Best Jazz Artist title at the Glasswerk New Music Awards in 2007 and being selected for the East Midlands Rhythm-a-ning project this year, this Derbyshire based outfit is beginning to make the right noises. At times it’s easy to see why - their jazz fusion sound has quality written most of the way through it with some excellent arrangements of their own compositions. Sadly though Karen Clegg’s lead vocals don’t have the same distinctiveness. Red Admiral Records
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THAT’S AMORE Various
Just because Valentine’s Day is history for another year doesn’t mean that romance is dead and with just a little bit of rebranding this could easily double up for Mother’s Day (That’s a Mum Day?). It’s a strange selection though bringing together such different delights as Alma Cogan’s Mambo Italiano and Doris Day’s Que Sera Sera with Sandie Shaw’s Monsieur Dupont and Francois Hardy’s Comment Te Dire Adieu. So where does Drupi’s Vado Via come into it all? EMI TV
It’s the 1970s and Crypto finds himself in Los Paradiso, a Las Vegas styled environment upon which you (as he) must unleash another helping of humourous destruction upon the human race. With an upgraded arsenal of weapons and the chance to dish out the mayhem from the comfort of your flying saucer, Path of the Furon
SHOOTER ACTION: F.E.A.R. 2 Project Origin does move the original on slightly, although some missions feel like rehashes from earlier titles. The graphics are a bit of a mixed bag but the 70s funk and disco fits into proceedings a treat. 3/5 £39.99
BEN 10: ALIEN FORCE PSP
It’s probably the kids who will be clamouring for a piece of Ben 10: Alien Force, as the Cartoon Network’s hit television series hits the PSP, allowing gamers to take command of characters from the Alien Force team to get a first-hand experience of their adventures. What you’re presented with is a mixture of good old-fashioned arcade brawling with a smattering of platforming intertwined. The overall experience is less than enthralling for any gamer who doesn’t have an emotional attachment to the eight different playable characters through obsessive watching of the TV show. 2/5 £19.99
He’s the latest canine action hero to come from the Disney stables, and now he’s off the leash on the DS, following up from where he left off on the big screen with a further dose of handheld animated action. You take on the heroic personas of the TV star dog and his owner, Penny, from the high-action television series featured within the film. As Bolt, you can use his superpowers, including laser vision and his superbark, which sends out a sonic blast to devastate opponents, while Penny uses stealth, hacking skills and a wheelbar, inspired by her scooter seen in the movie, to outwit enemies. Sadly the game doesn’t quite meet the movie expectations, as this turns out to be fairly average platforming adventure fare. 3/5 £29.99
WeSay (www.wesay.com) is a citizen journalism site with a difference. It puts the focus on photography, and lets anyone sign up as a contributor. You add your photos, and fellow members vote them up if they like them. Top-voted images make it to the front page. An excellent place to start for wannabe pro photographers.
■ Cook with what you’ve got – www.reactivecooking.com ■ Cute things falling asleep – http://www.cutethingsfallingasleep.org/
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Boost the feelgood factor with Gabrielle Fagan’s guide to getting the most out of your life ... COPING WELL
A friend recently confided to me how helpless she feels trying to deal with her husband’s depression. “Despite trying all kinds of ways to cheer him up, nothing works and it’s making me feel so useless and rejected,’’ she said. Ainsley Johnstone nods sympathetically when she hears this story. She knows only too well how bewildering and upsetting it can be living with someone with depression. Her husband, Matthew revealed he suffered from it soon after they first met 10 years ago. “At that time I really had no idea what depression really meant,’’ she said. “I suppose I was young and a bit niave but I just blithely thought ‘well, we’re in love and we will face it together.’ “But I had never dealt with depression before and I certainly didn’t know how it could, and would, affect me or the impact it would have on our lives.’’ The couple did successfully triumph over his illness, and Matthew’s innovative cartoon illustrated book, I Had A Black Dog, whose title is inspired by Winston Churchill’s famous description of the depression that “dogged” his life, was much praised by sufferers and health professionals. Now, what Ainsley learned during her years supporting and caring for a partner with depression, is revealed in a sequel, Living With A Black Dog. It has the same winning formula – a blend of witty and poignant cartoon drawings all depicting an ever-present “black dog”, as well as sound advice. Ainsley, 34, who talked to hundreds of other carers while researching for the book, points out: “Caregivers live in the shadow of the Black Dog. As with any illness, they take on the burdens, pick up the pieces and do all the worrying, often not knowing where to turn or what to do. “Often they do feel as though they’re walking on eggshells and swing between being exhausted, frustrated and sympathetic. “What can be so helpful is knowing that you’re not alone and isolated and that your feelings are often shared by others in the same situation.’’ She also points out that it’s important to recognise that you alone cannot somehow “rescue” your loved one from the jaws of depression. “Professional help is often what’s needed. Trying to jolly them along often makes them feel worse. If they could ‘pull their socks up’ or ‘snap out of it’, which outsiders might urge them to do, of course they would, but they can’t.’’ She believes she avoided many of the mistakes – well meaning and unintentional – that carers can make because as a
NEW LIFE: Authors Matthew and Ainsley Johnstone
Beating the ‘black dog’ of depression
GET TALKING: Honesty between partners can h elp overcome the difficulties of depression couple they were always honest and open with each other. “We’ve always talked about how we really felt,’’ she said. A joint counselling session also proved helpful. “It was brilliant because I could voice how angry and frustrated I was and not feel guilty or worry I was blaming Matthew, which I wasn’t. It was the depression I was angry at, not him. “I’ve been able to see the depression as something separate from the man I love, something that will pass with help and treatment, and definitely not a life sentence.’’ Matthew who is now well, says: “For many people depression rolls in like a slow, insiduous fog and slowly picks off all the joy in their lives and like dry rot takes a hold. “It can be very hard for the people around them, but their support is so central to helping you get well. What’s important to remember is you can beat depression and you don’t need to be defined by it. “Over the years I’ve learned to accept that I’m not perfect and that’s fine, and that’s partly due to having a family that loves me unconditionally.’’ Ainsley says: “Matthew’s depression has been a bit of a gift in some ways because it has strengthened our relationship, and showed us the true value of communicating honestly and respecting each others feelings.’’ ■ Living With A Black Dog by Matthew and Ainsley Johnstone, published by Constable, £7.99. Available now.
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Amir Ahmadi. There’s also a Diet Box available. My verdict: A great way to kick off my New Year plan to eat and live more healthily and it could be an ideal launch pad for would-be dieters. It costs £16.50 a day (£115 a week) and an extra £62.45 buys extra evening meals delivered for a partner (so your willpower’s not tested by cooking for someone else). Call: 0845 026 1999/www.detoxinabox.co.uk
Delivery diets needn’t be indulgences enjoyed only by Hollywood A-listers such as Jennifer Lopez, who recently revealed she lost her post baby weight through a diet delivery service. I’ve just enjoyed celebrity style pampering with Detox In A Box which arrived at my door full of seven-days worth of meals. TV presenter Kirsty Gallacher recently used this detox package to prepare for appearing in the new series of Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway on ITV . I wanted to overhaul a sluggish digestive system and restore my get-up-and-go after too much chocolate and comfort food during the winter. This package certainly made it easy. The meals are all freshly prepared, additive free, and clearly marked so you know what to freeze and what to put in the fridge. As well as the bliss of not to have to think about food shopping or cooking, the snacks included kept me free of cravings, and I enjoyed trying interesting new meals. You can specify allergies and food preferences when ordering, and get personal advice and tips on nutrition from founder, Nas
Mel B, former Spice Girl Scary Spice, is in the UK to promote her fitness DVD Totally Fit. She shares her well-being tips. The 33-year-old mother of two daughters, who’s married to film producer, Stephen Belafonte, believes her happy family life – home is in Los Angeles – and commitment to a healthy diet and exercise, are key to her contentment. “I work out at least three times a week either at home with my DVD or by going to the gym. I used to do a lot of dance exercise but at the moment I’m more into yoga and boxercise,’’ she says. She sums up her wellbeing philosopy by saying: “I think life is about balance. I know the best way to keep my energy levels high, so I can juggle working and raising the kids, is by eating healthily. If I start craving snacks I fill up on vegetable crudites and a fat free dip. “But I don’t believe in complete denial and once a week have a treat day when I indulge myself. Being healthy shouldn’t be a punishment, instead it’s about being good to your body and treating it well. I truly believe you are what you eat.’’
Emma Harris, Gazette health writer and qualified gym instructor, with her weekly look at staying healthy THE BIG QUESTION
What are the benefits of cross-training and what does it mean?
Buy buy, baby!
rowsing around the beauty counters is as much a weekend must as trying on the latest looks in high street fashion stores. It might be a girl thing, but browsing or buying is guaranteed to give you a feel good factor. Watch out for these little beauties! Curl dryer: Don’t be scared... The latest launch from Remington
isn’t a new hair-tangling device. Spin Curl is a revolutionary new dryer that curls hair as you dry to create a head of natural waves, without the need for styling. Any timesaving beauty gadget is good in our books. The Spin Curl dryer (main picture) is now available exclusively from Boots, priced £39.99. Colour kiss: Time to get both charitable and kissable with
Weather beater: Browsing from home, click on to www.qvc.co.uk and keep your lips soft and kissable in the harshest of weathers with this Tawaka Rejuvenating Lip Kit (left) from Ojon. It contains Ojon Tawaka Lip Exfoliating Cream (15ml) to gently polish the most fragile, dry and chapped lips. Follow with the Ojon Tawaka Lip Care Treatment (18ml) to add vital moisture to your lips. £32.
Clinique. For the second year, the beauty brand has teamed up with Great Ormond Street’s Kiss It Better appeal for children with cancer. Clinique has created a new Different Lipstick in Kiss It Better shade, £12.79, with £2 going to the appeal (right). The new lippy is available at House of Fraser stores nationwide and online at clinique.co.uk during February.
Straight on: Go for gold when you tease your locks into submission with Sassoon’s new All That Glitters Ionic Straightener (above), £49.99, exclusively from Boots.
Pencil perfect: Keep those jumbo colour pencils at tip top perfection with this large pencil sharpener from The Body Shop, £3. It’s a must-have for every beauty bag.
Cross training doesn’t just mean going on the cross-trainer in the gym, as a friend of mine once thought! It means basically doing different types of training. Rather than just running or swimming for example, cross-training would see a person doing a variety of activities – perhaps on different days of the week – in order to train the body in different ways. I personally am a big believer in cross-training and throughout the course of a week I take part in a range of different activities, including running long distance outside, running speed intervals on the treadmill, swimming, weights in the gym, and fitness classes such as Spin and Body Combat. The benefits are the fact you are working your body in different ways – cardio and strength – and getting an all-over body workout. The fact you are doing a variety of activities means you are less likely to get bored, your body keeps getting a training effect and you are less likely to suffer injuries from doing repetitive actions. It makes training more interesting and more effective – variety is the spice of life, as they say.
Bananas are perfect for getting rid of puffy eyes or a puffy face as they are packed full of potassium, which helps regulate fluid balance in cells and so combats fluid retention. Potassium also protects against dry skin and blemishes as it helps maintain the body’s acid levels. They are also a very good to eat for a hangover as the natural sugars help combat the toxins left by too much alcohol.
If you’re slimming, it’s a good idea to keep a food diary every day of what you eat, to keep an eye on snacks adding up and so on. Research has shown that those who keep a food diary can lose up to twice as much weight over six months as those who don’t.
NAGGING PAYS OFF
Drink plenty of water: This will help keep your skin moisturised and healthy. Water is good for
your whole body: inside and out – Blackpoolbased beauty expert Sue Simpson
Let us have your beauty tip. e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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Wealthy women have a better chance of surviving cancer then poorer women, statistics have shown. The disparity was discovered by a study of women diagnosed with the disease between 1986 and 1999. Experts believe the reason behind this could be middle class women feel more comfortable nagging their doctor for immediate treatment.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
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Dress to impress
BUY IT NOW: Be quick off the mark by snapping up Life’s buy of the week – this stunning coral batwing top, £28 from Dorothy Perkins.
Enjoy window shopping with life! in our weekly guide to tempting offers MUSIC ON THE MOVE: Music mad males will love this stylish mobile. The slimline Sony Ericsson W302 Black has a range of options including stereo Bluetooth compatibility, TrackID music recognition service, FM radio and a 512MB Memory Stick Micro card. It’s £49.95 from The Carphone Warehouse (0800 925 925/ www.carphonewarehouse.com). SPANISH IMPORT: Spain’s best-selling makeup collection Pure is set to hit UK shores so that we can see what the fuss is all about. The cosmetics will be available exclusively in Boots stores, priced from £6.50-£15.
ust the job! In these hard-pressed times, those lucky enough to get a job interview will be facing strong competition, and that makes dressing to impress potential employers even more important. You might be evenly matched when it comes to qualifications, so having the edge in the style stakes could be a deciding factor. City smart: Look the part in the Original City Suit from Austin Reed (main picture) – jacket £280, trousers £120, shirt £50, tie £35 (www.austinreed.co.uk for stockists). Suits you: New for spring from J by Jasper Conran (top right), this suit jacket is £129, white
shirt £35, striped tie £20, all at Debenhams. Budget buy: You don’t have to break the bank to look smart. This Taylor&Wright grey suit jacket is £30 and matching trousers £10 (second top, right). The easy care shirt is just £4. All from Matalan. Slick operator: Look slick in this grey suit, from the new season range at Bhs (second bottom), jacket £44, trouser £25, shirt, £10 and tie £6. Winning look: Impress a potential employer with this smart look from French Connection (bottom), suit jacket £160, trousers £90 (www. frenchconnection.com)
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DIARY DATE: Designers of the future from all over Britain will be showcasing their creations at Graduate Fashion Week at Earls Court 2, London, from June 7-11. The event is sponsored by high street chain, River Island. ROSY TOES: Put a spring in his step with these rose print Ted Baker socks, £14 (08451 304 278/ www.tedbaker. com).
Saturday, February 21, 2009
For your week ahead There’s still chance to enjoy Tatton Garden’s ● annual Scarecrow Festival this weekend. For half term, a family of ‘Hair Crows’ have arrived in the gardens, including a be-quiffed Elvis,among spring bulbs, a poker straight Cleopatra holding court in the Japanese Garden and a Cave Man, with a barnet barmy enough to frighten away the most courageous crow. There is free entry to the gardens to children dressed as a scarecrow and accompanied by an adult. Normal entry price: Adult £4, Child (4-15 years) £2, Family £10 (2 adults, up to 3 children). National Trust members – free entry to gardens. Park entry £4.50 per car (includes NT members). Parkland open 11am-5pm (last entry 4pm)
Familes can get to grips with some great ● American Wrestling at Preston Guild Hall tonight. The All Nation Showdown sees competitors from across the Atlantic step into the ring. Telephone the box office on 01772 258858.
Blackpool and Fylde Toy Dog Show is being held at Lowther Pavilion, Lytham, tomorrow, 10am-4pm. Winners of our Spaceport/Mersey Ferry River ● Explorer Cruise tickets were: Elaine Evans, Keswick Road, Blackpool; Rebecca Gooden,
Gosborne Avenue, Cleveleys; Natalia Paterson, Salmesbury Avenue, Blackpool; Janet Gillett, Skelwith Road, Marton; Ann Carragher, Shaftesbury Avenue, Blackpool; Jack Price, Barnes Drive, Cleveleys.
Windermere Lake Cruises are inviting drivers to leave the car at Bowness and take the connecting boat and bus service to romantic Hill Top. This Cross Lakes Experience will run every weekend until March 29 from Bowness to Beatrix Potter’s famous home. The Walkers ticket and Green Cruises have also been extended on Saturdays and Sundays. The Walkers ticket is a popular amble along the shore past Wray Castle to Ferry House via connecting boat services along the lake. It is suitable for all ages and abilities. Check on 015394 42600. Brockhole Visitors Centre is also open early this year. The 40-minute circular Green cruise collects and drops visitors to the centre from Ambleside Pier without the need of the car. Further information, phone (015394) 42600
A date has been set for this year’s Preston Caribbean Carnival. Dubbed the “largest and msot well-known street festival in the city” the event celebrates the city’s ties to the islands. Events will take place at Avenham Park on Sunday, May 24.
MY FAVOURITE DAY OUT
Chester has everything - the historical attractions of a big city but small enough to get around. You can enjoy strawberries and cream on the river banks or lunch in the crypt! – marketing administrator Yvonne Lawrence of Blackpool Let us have your top day out destination. e-mail email@example.com
Bubbling over with fun
iscover a World of science at Catalyst Science Discovery Centre in Cheshire. Catalyst provides visitors with a fantastic opportunity to discover the interactive world of science and technology. The award-winning centre is home to more than 100 hands-on exhibits for all the family, which include Big Bubbles (above), Melt a Crystal and Human Battery. There’s always something new to discover. As well as the fabulous interactive galleries, visitors can take a ride in the museum’s glass lift to marvel at the views from the glass walled, rooftop observatory. For a snack or meal there is The
Elements Cafe, and Catalyst’s gift shop provides a wide range of intriguing scientific souvenirs and gifts. Catalyst is located in Widnes, easily accessible from major motorway routes. The centre is open Tuesday to Friday 10am to 4pm (Mondays during school holidays), and Saturday to Sunday 11am to 4pm (last admission 3pm). Admission charges are; Adult £4.95, Children £3.95, Concessions £3.95 and Family Tickets £15.95 (2ad + 2chn or 1ad + 3chn) or Family Ticket £17.95 (2ad + 3chn).
For more information visit www.catalyst.org.uk or telephone 0151 420 1121
We have 10 family passes for the Catalyst Science Discovery Centre which must be won. Just answer this question: How many exhibits does the centre have? To enter send your answer, along with your name, address and telephone number to: Catalyst competition, Life! magazine, The Gazette, Avroe House, Avroe Crescent, South Shore, Blackpool, FY4 2DP. Closing date Friday February 27. The winner will be picked at random from postal entries.
Real rainforest is coming to North West AN African rainforest teeming with exotic animals and birds is heading to Chester Zoo. The £225m project will create a massive domed tropical eco-system – called Heart of Africa – over 138 acres. Residents will include gorillas, chimpanzees and the rare giraffe-like okapi. Birds, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates will move freely among lush vegetation. Zoo bosses say the development, due for completion in 2018, would allow visitors to explore the jungle canopy on a massive interactive water ride. As well as benefiting the animals, the dome aims to make the already-popular zoo an all-year-round attraction. Zoo boss Prof Gordon McGregor Reid said: “As well as the overall impact on conservation worldwide, here in the North
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West there will be a major increase in job creation and security and a positive impact on the regional economy. "Our visitors will be immersed in the world of wildlife where we will engage, inform, educate and amaze them in a truly thrilling and unique environment. "New and exciting animal species will be
introduced. This project is unlike anything in Britain and will offer a spectacular visitor experience and the highest standards of animal welfare." The first phase includes the construction of a 90-bed hotel and a conservation college. A planning application is to be submitted in September. NWDA’s tourism boss James Berresford said the plan could transform the zoo into a ‘visitor experience of international importance’. He said: “The zoo has the potential to become a flagship visitor attraction for the North West, improving perceptions of the region and boosting inbound tourism.” Chester celebrates its 75th anniversary in May and welcomes around 1.3m visitors a year, making it the most popular zoo in the country.
FAMILIES Fantastic celebration of all things steam THE fourth Celebration of Steam at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard promises more displays of all types of steam engine, a tasty sausage and ale festival plus Ivor the Engine. There’s also the exclusive opportunity to view the first complete steam powered factory in the world, the Block Mills. The event tis on Saturday and Sunday May 9-10 and visitors can discover more about the role Portsmouth Historic Dockyard played during the 18th and 19th centuries when it was the greatest industrial complex
in the world. Visitors can save 10 per cent if booking tickets before the end of February. The unusual sound of steam engines and a brass band will resonate throughout the area as displays of traction engines, road locomotives, miniatures, steam boats, steam rollers, crane engines, model railways, steam fairground attractions and a ride-on railway fill the site. A sausage and ale festival located alongside HMS Victory will whet visitors’ appetites. For both enthusiasts and those
who enjoy shopping, there will be a large collection of traders and exhibitors, including traditional craft and gift stalls. Tickets are adults: £12, concessions: £10, family (up to 5 people, maximum of 2 adults/seniors): £36. They include entrance to all attractions on site: HMS Warrior 1860, HMS Victory, Mary Rose, Royal Naval Museum and Action Stations. Book before the end of February and save 10 per cent. Ring 023 9283 9766 or visit www.historicdockyard.co.uk.
Baby’s food on pizza chain menu DINING out with bambinos has just got easier! Baby’s foodie favourite, Plum Baby, is now on the menu at PizzaExpress. Plum, the revolutionary baby-food company founded by mum Susie Willis less than three years ago, has quickly grown to be the most popular independent brand in the UK. All its products are totally organic, free from additives and contain no added salt or sugar, and use known ‘superfoods’ - including the heritage grain quinoa.
Boarding party! A
hoy there, all families - enjoy a scenic voyage cruising along the canal to Lancaster. The entire family, grandparents, aunties, uncles and the rest, can enjoy a trip on The Jungle Queen barge, which carries up to 45 people in luxury through the beautiful Wyre countryside. One lucky reader’s family can even have a cruise worth £100 for free, as the winner of our Life! competition. Design engineer and project manager Dan Bolton has been operating cruises from the Old Dunscombe House B&B in Bilsborrow, for 14 years, having previously operated the smaller Bilsborrow lady with his late father, Alec. Two years ago, Dan designed the 65ft long Jungle Queen, which was built in Wakefield at a cost of £80,000. Sailing on her is an experience to remember. My in-laws treated 10 of us to a memorable one-hour trip on a crisp winter's morning and the experience was so engrossing you barely noticed the cold creeping through your limbs until you sat in the car afterwards. Standing up inside the barge, you are at eye level with the water and notice all kinds of wildlife you might never see by strolling
along the canal bank – beneath a wooden landing, I glimpsed a moorhen hidden from prying eyes pottering quietly on its own. All manner of birds inhabit the banks, while pike, perch and roach are the main fish in the 7ft deep waters. Then up on deck, there's the simple relaxing pleasure of chugging slowly through the countryside, past houses' elaborate back gardens, a static caravan park, under bridges, through fields and a cross an aqueduct over the River Brock up to the new Barton Grange marina. Longer than an hour takes you up to Garstang or beyond, and of course, there's the option of sailing towards Preston, where the wildlife is more prolific further away from the road. The children were thrilled at the novelty and even got the chance to hold the tiller for a minute or two under Dan's close supervision. He's happy to chat and makes you feel very much at ease. If you prefer a life indoors, you can sit in
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centrally heated comfort with a coffee or drink from the licensed bar, watching the landscape pass by at 3mph or so. But none of our party did so for long. An on-board IT system, complete with flatscreen TVs, offers DVDs, slideshows and all manner of music through its sound system, though these are probably more popular for parties and corporate events. Dan does parties of all kinds for all ages, with catering provided, whether it's a child's birthday, hen or stag nights, a works party, Christmas cruise, anniversary celebration or whatever you desire. He even carries coach parties from hotels in Blackpool and St Annes. For more information, hit www.partyboats.co.uk
To win an hour's cruise, simply answer this question: What is the name of Dan's canal boat? To enter send your answer, along with your name, address and telephone number to: Canal Cruise competition, The Gazette, Avroe House, Avroe Crescent, South Shore, Blackpool, FY4 2DP. Closing date Friday February 27. The winner will be picked at random from postal entries.
ANIMAL AID: Young PDSA, the kids’ section of the leading veterinary charity, has teamed up with a top online gifts retailer to help raise much-needed funds for pets in need of vets at the same time as encouraging children’s creativity. The Yellow Moon website – www.yellowmoon.org.uk – is packed with wonderful products to entertain and educate kids, and PDSA receives up to 25 per cent cashback from sales when PDSA is nominated as a chosen charity. FUNNY FEET: Toddlers will love these blue crocodile shoes, perfect for when they are taking their first steps! The supple nonslip suede soles are ideal for tiled and wooden floors while soft breathable leather protects and allows feet to grow naturally and elasticated ankles give ease of fit and ensure shoes really do stay on! The next best thing to bare feet. £17 from www.2littlefeet.com or call 01287 625856 DIAL CHANGE: Does your child always play up when you are on the phone? Here’s how to stop them interrupting. 1. Before making a phone call, ask your children if they want to read a book or draw, or give them attention beforehand so they’ll leave you alone when you need to talk on the phone. 2. Thank them in advance - instead of warning them not to interrupt, thank them for keeping quiet while you chat. 3. Respond to interruptions and tell them you’ll answer them when you’re off the phone.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
OUTDOORS WEEKEND CHORES ■ Begin to feed plants in established borders using a controlled-release slow-acting fertiliser. Try not to get fertiliser on the new foliage. ■ Knock snow off the branches of evergreens to stop them bending and snapping off with the weight. ■ Don’t walk on the grass when it’s snowy or frozen. ■ Continue to firm in autumnplanted shrubs lifted by frost. ■ Put cloches in position to warm the soil for early sowings of vegetables next month. ■ Protect the blossom of early-flowering apricots, peaches and nectarines from frost damage by covering plants with fleece. ■ Mulch all fruit crops with well-rotted manure or garden compost once the ground has thawed. ■ Plan a crop rotation system for your vegetable plot, to ensure that the same crops are not grown in the same beds year after year, to help prevent disease build-up. ■ Continue to force chicory and seakale. ■ Top-dress shrubby herbs in pots, such as lavender and rosemary, with a balanced fertiliser such as Growmore or fish, blood and bone, plus some organic matter, or with fresh John Innes compost (No 2 or 3). Shrubby herbs in the garden do not need feeding most of them thrive in poor soil.
GOODENOUGH TOEAT Sowing broad beans
If you have a greenhouse or coldframe, you can give broad beans a good head start by sowing them, one seed per 7cm pot, in February, or under cloches or garden fleece in March. Before sowing or planting out, rake in a general fertiliser. They are normally grown in double rows on vegetable plots, planting them 20cm apart each way. Alternatively, grow single rows with plants 13cm apart. Sow them into a gully 5cm deep and sow more than you need at the end of each row so you can transplant these to fill any gaps. Broad beans can also be grown as container plants by pushing four seeds into a 10-litre pot in spring. Harden off beans which were started inside in pots in April and May. You may need to support tall varieties. They shouldn’t need much watering before the flowers appear, but give them a good soak once a week when the flowers are forming and hoe regularly to keep weeds at bay. When the plants are in full flower, pinch out the top 10cm to encourage the pods to form.
in association with The Alpine Centre
For peat’s sake
y 2010, some 90 per cent of composts and soil conditioners should be peatfree, if government targets are met. However, peat-free alternatives are often criticised for inconsistent performance and manufacturers are constantly developing products to improve results. Peat-free compost is a totally natural and ecofriendly product with a wide range of uses. It can contain ingredients such as recycled garden materials (professionally composted garden and park plant material), bark fines, coir and wood fibre. Many of us are aware that lowland peat bogs and their wildlife are threatened through peat extraction for garden composts and other uses. Peatland wildlife such as dragonflies, butterflies and birds depend on peat for survival and gardeners are constantly being encouraged to choose alternatives. The eco-friendly advantages are obvious. Peatfree compost will help cut down the amount of organic waste sent to landfill, as it’s made of recycled materials, and isn’t always a more expensive option. However, in the past some gardeners have complained that seed germination is slower in peat-free compost, the compost tends to dry out more quickly and it’s too clumpy and impossible to sow very small seeds in. Which? Gardening, the Consumers’ Association magazine, tested nine widely available peat-free composts last year, assessing the performance of each compost for seed sowing, growing on young plants and growing plants in large pots, published in the latest edition. Researchers found that the best buy was New Horizon Organic & Peat Free Growbag (£3.29 for 31.5L, available from www.william-sinclair.co.uk, 01522 537 561), which did well in each stage, although the trial showed that seed sowing is still a problem area for all peat-free composts. Petunias in the peat-based compost had no difficulty. Young antirrhinums and cabbages did consistently well in this growing bag peat-free compost and after five weeks their quality matched or out-performed those in peat. The survey also found that some peat-free composts varied from bag to bag, which was a problem with the Westland Earth Matters Peat Free Multi-Purpose compost and B&Q Peat Free Multipurpose compost. Which? Gardening concludes: “Clearly, achieving a consistently reliable peat-free compost is difficult. This is because the waste products, such as timber and green waste, on which these peatfree alternatives are based, vary depending on their source. “They also continue to break down in the bag and as a result the nutrient levels in the compost are constantly changing. “Manufacturers need to address these issues in order to produce a peat-free product we can rely on.’’ To give you the best chance of good results, buy the freshest peat-free compost and avoid bags with damaged or faded packaging. Water your plants little and often and start feeding them four to six weeks after potting them up in
INTHEGARDEN peat-free compost, or use a slow release fertiliser mixed in at planting time, checking the bag for specific instructions. Peat-free compost should be stored in a dry place as nutrients may be washed away if it becomes too wet. ■ People wanting to find out more about buying and using peat-free compost can go for
Send dates to life! magazine, The Gazette, Avroe Crescent, Blackpool, FY4 4AU or e-mail email@example.com
Thursday, March 5 Kirkham and District Horticultural Society. Frank Hoyle, Growing Alpine Plants, Kirkham Grammar School (6th Form Lounge), Ribby Road, Kirkham, 7.30pm. Saturday, March 7 The Alpine Garden Society Southport Group. John Page, 250 Years of Rock and Alpine Gardens. Emmanuel Church Hall, Cambridge Road, Southport, 2pm. Tuesday, March 10 Carleton Garden Club. Ann
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McCarthy, “Madeira – the Island Garden”. Carleton Scout Hall, Poulton Road, Carleton, 7.30pm. Thursday, March 12 The Alpine Garden Society. Julia Corden - The Explorers’ Garden”. Methodist Church, Greaves, Lancaster, 7.30pm Thornton Cleveleys Horticultural Society. Richard Hodson “Clematis – Viticella & offspring”. Thornton Little Theatre, Four Lane Ends, Thornton, 7.30pm.
with Hannah Stephenson additional advice to www.recyclenow.com/garden and download a buying guide on which brands to look for. ■Which? Gardening is a subscription-only magazine published 10 times a year. For details on how to receive three issues for £3, telephone 0199 282 2800 or visit which.co.uk.
Viburnum tinus (Laurustinus)
THIS useful bushy evergreen, which grows up to 3m (10ft) in height and width, bears flattened clusters of perfumed white flowers in winter and spring. It also has attractive dark green, glossy leaves and black berries. If you’re looking for an alternative viburnum for winter, go for V. fragrans (V. farreri), which produces scented white flowers from November to February. These plants are ideally grown in full sun in any fertile, moist but well-drained soil containing ample humus. They don’t need to be pruned apart from shortening overlong shoots which spoil their outline, or cutting back old or damaged branches in May.
RIVERSIDE VIEWS: The old tram bridge near the end of the walk
or most people living in the towns and cities of Lancashire the countryside is not a great distance away – just a short car journey or bus ride. But in many places it is even closer than that. Rivers, canals, disused railways and cycleways provide excellent opportunities for walking in what seem at first glance, unpromising townscapes. In general the linear nature of this type of walking necessitates the use of public transport if the less interesting “there and back” option is to be avoided. Many tourist information offices have more detailed guides/leaflets describing these “Green Corridors” (mostly free of charge), and of course will carry bus/train timetables. As an example we describe a walk from Bamber Bridge to Preston city centre. THE WALK From the station turn right into Station Road. This is the B5258 and if this stretch seems unpromising, it gets worse! 600m (10minutes) along turn right into Havelock Road which then leads onto a pedestrian/cycle path Holme Road. This weaves its way through a large industrial estate, the very antithesis of country walking. At Cuerdale Way turn right. Walk past Matalan and then turn right onto a pedestrian/cycle path with the roar of the A6 on left and wire mesh fence on right. After a low railway bridge, turn left under A6 and then right onto Brownedge Road. Using the traffic island and exercising great care, cross immediately before the roundabout to pick up the cycle path opposite. Now matters begin to significantly improve. Here you are following the line of an old railway, but now adapted to new use as a cycle path. This stretch forms part of the National Cycle Network – Route 55 connecting Preston to Chorley and Manchester. It also forms part of Preston Junction Local
A hidden highway ...
Nature Reserve. Like a portal to a different world, passing through the gate, you are presented with a pleasanter scene. After skirting a field behind a stable, the path dips down to a reedy pond, then rises to cross Todd Lane. Once again take care in crossing Todd Lane and follow the long straight track ahead.
Start: Bamber Bridge Railway station, Station Road. Summary: Distance: 6k 4m Time: 1½-2 hours Terrain: Pavement and cycle path all the way. No need for boots – comfortable walking shoes or trainers will do just fine. This is a very easy walk. Map: OS Explorer 286 Blackpool & Preston
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with Julie Vale, assistant manager of the RSPB Discovery Centre, Fairhaven Lake
After a stretch along a cutting dotted with ponds and hawthorn, the route passes through woodland. At all times of the year there is a variety of birdlife to be seen. At the end of Factory Lane a junction of tracks is reached. The line of the former railway veers to the left along a raised embankment. Bear to the right ahead and enter a long avenue of impressive trees. This section follows the line of the Old Tramway built in 1803 by the Lancaster Canal Company to link Lancaster Canal with the rest of the canal network at Walton Summit. Competition from railways forced its closure in the middle of the 19th century. Beyond the trees to either side grassy meadows will be seen, often containing cattle – remarkable considering the bleak industrial landscape at the walk’s beginning. On reaching the River Ribble cross the wide Old Tram Bridge into Avenham Park. Paths upwards will bring you to Avenham Lane and Preston Centre beyond. Or you may wish to take refreshment in the award-winning Avenham Park Pavilion which is open throughout the year. This is a little way off to the left after you have crossed the bridge. Note the County Council have published leaflets on Old Tramway Route and Preston Junction Local Nature Reserve. ● Walk by John Griffiths and Bob Clare. Hit www.lancashirewalks.com for more walks exploring the diversity of the Lancashire countryside.
t’s been a week since St Valentines day ... are you still a love bird? Today also see’s the end of the British Trust Ornithology National Nest Box Week. The week’s aim is to encourage everyone to put up nest boxes in their local area to promote and enhance the biodiversity and conservation of our breeding birds. However, just because the week’s finished doesn’t mean that you still can’t help your garden birds have their very own love nest this year. The natural nest sites on which many of our bird species depend, such as holes in trees and buildings, are fast disappearing as gardens and woods are “tidied” and old houses are repaired. Since National Nest Box Week was launched in 1997, thousands of enthusiastic naturalists across the UK have put up boxes to compensate for this loss. It is estimated that there are now 5-6m boxes in gardens across the UK. You can get a huge sense of satisfaction having a nest box in the garden waiting for that day to come to count how many tiny heads come out of the hole. It can hold the whole family in suspense watching your garden birds through the trials and tribulations of parenthood. If you want an even closer the view The Ribble Discovery Centre will be soon be launching its Blue Tit Big Brother this spring. The centre has a camera in a nest box close by so you can see the more intimate moments of blue tit life, but be warned – it can be a roller coaster of emotions, so bring your tissues along! Anne Clay, long time volunteer at the centre, says: “It’s amazing to see the blue tits so close, but it was difficult last year. We watched as 12 eggs ended up as only one bird fledging, without being able to help!” There are ways to help though. By putting up nest boxes in your garden and providing food and water all year round you are giving the birds the best chance of a start in life. Go on, give a brood a home!
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Here’s a selection of Gazette Travel offers... in association with Liverpool John Lennon Airport
V GERMAN VALLEYS SUPERDEAL
May 28, August 17 or Oct 15, four days from £99
Surrounded by countryside where mountains and forests form magnificent backdrops to picturesque villages and where winding rivers flow as freely as the wine you’ll discover just how sweet life can be. You will stay in friendly family run hotels throughout Germany’s Rhineland region, usually within picturesque villages along the Rhine and Moselle rivers. Includes return coach travel, Channel crossings and three night’s hotel accommodation. Organised by Phoenix Holidays.
ITALY’S MOST BEAUTIFUL LAKES
August 17 or Sept 7, eight days from £699
This holiday includes a week on Lago Maggiore, Italy’s second largest lake, which stretches north from Lombardy and up into Switzerland. It lies, sheltered, on the south side of the Alps, making for a mild climate and consequent lush vegetation, with Mediterranean and exotic flora, including azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias. You will also visit Lake Como and Lake Lugano. Includes seven night half board in Arona on Lake Maggiore and a three lakes excursion taking you to Lake Maggiore, Lake Lugano and Lake Como. Organised by Preferred Travel Services ATOL 5537.
Aug 14 or 21, two days from £119.95
A thousand performers from the four corners of the globe will come together for Scotland’s sensational international showcase of music entertainment and dance in the amazing and romantic setting of Edinburgh Castle. Each year more than 22,000 people from throughout the world attend this stunning and sell out event. A further 100 million people, throughout the globe, annually view it on international television. Includes return coach travel, hotel accommodation, full Scottish breakfast and a ticket for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Organised by Omega Holidays ABTA V4782.
enice Simplon Orient Express is delighted to welcome the celebrated Northern Belle to Preston and Blackpool in 2009. The Orient Express is the epitome of luxury, refinement and glamour, enchanting and delighting all who seek a medical adventure without parallel. Sister train to the legendary Venice Simpleton Orient Express, the Northern Belle captivates and enthrals with a stylish collection of day excursions and short break travel experiences across the UK. Step aboard the Northern Belle and allow yourself to be transported back to the golden age of travel. The scene is set, a symphony of exquisite marquetry, polished brass and beautifully patterned upholstery surrounds you while, with discreet yet attentive service, your every need is attended to. Indulge yourself in an exquisite lunch or dinner dining experience, sampling appetising delicacies as you unwind in the surroundings of your carriage. Alternatively, spend a day exploring a variety of glorious destinations. Stroll at leisure through historic cities and market towns, wander through breathtaking gardens, magnificent castles or stately homes. A fine dining excursion departs from Blackpool on September 4 and costs from £195 per person. During this four hour countryside excursion, you will enjoy a delicious four course dinner in the ultimate of style and luxury. Perhaps you would prefer to take a longer journey. The Historic Edinburgh excursion takes you to the stately capital of Scotland. Edinburgh has one of the most beautiful cityscapes in the world, making it an ideal day trip destination. The UNESCO World heritage Site at the heart of the city combines the medieval Old Town, the Georgian New Town and award winning modern architecture. You’ll see views that make for the perfect picture postcards, mysterious winding streets, elegant terraces and an abundance of shops, bars and restaurants. With Scotland’s most famous castle dominating the city skyline, there is plenty to see and do with the perfect balance between all things traditional and contemporary; you’ll be spoilt for choice. On arrival in Scotland take advantage of an inclusive open top bus tour to establish your bearings in Scotland’s capital or head straight for Princess Street and its many department stores and shops, including the world famous Jenners. Morning coffee with a three course Bellini brunch is served on the outward journey from Preston station. After plenty of free time for shopping and sightseeing you will be welcomed back on board with a glass of Champagne for the journey home to Preston. A sumptuous four course dinner with half a bottle of wine per person, coffee and petit fours are also served on the return. The departure dates are April 18, Sept 24 or Nov 14 and costs from £285 per person. The Christmas Luncheon departs from Preston on December 11 and costs from
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RAIL STYLE: Take a trip on the celebrated Northern Belle
Relive the golden age CONTACTNUMBERS Call our 24-hour brochure hotline: 01772 838080 Other inquiries: Telephone as above or www.gazettetravel.co.uk
£195 per person. Entertainment, bedecked carriages and a festive meal with all the trimmings is the perfect way to start the Christmas Season. Sample impeccable service, wonderful cuisine with the romance of luxury travel. Sit
back and relax as the Orient Express stewards care for your every need as you enjoy the British countryside gliding past your picture window. Enjoy a glass of Champagne when you board, table canapés, a festive five course meal with half a bottle of wine per person and petit fours. Other tours available from Preston include day trips to Loch Lomond, Ironbridge and Blist Hills Museum and weekend breaks include Edinburgh Tattoo or Highland Games. To make a booking telephone 0845 077 2222 quoting the code NLPN. For a brochure please telephone the brochureline. Organised by Venice Simplon Orient Express Ltd.
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Saturday, February 21, 2009
SOCIETYDIARY YOUR STARS
With Cassandra Nye
For the week starting February 23 PISCES (20 Feb-20 Mar) Do anything that you can to boost your energy and confidence as this week begins, because you are going to need it! Midweek both Mercury and Mars have you saying and doing things that would have seemed impossible not so long ago. Perhaps a bit of frustration with others has finally got you moving. Well, the planets are here to help you! ARIES (21 Mar-20 Apr) A pleasing and quietly confident week ahead brings you to realise that everything will eventually fall into place. The forgiving Pisces New Moon lets you change things that may have not been going so well. With jolly Jupiter on your side also, there is a note of optimism that draws in creativity. TAURUS (21 Apr-21 May) A seemingly quiet start to this week belies the action ahead. Get small tasks out of the way in the first few days and let loved ones know that you could become quite busy! A wonderful conjunction between Mercury and Jupiter midweek really sets your mind sparking. GEMINI (22 May-21 June) Illuminating conversations, especially at work, start the week. Your sharp mind soon picks up on anything troubling a colleague. Offer advice without upsetting their ego. The Pisces New Moon shines on your career, but not to the exclusion of your social life. CANCER (22 June-23 July) Feel like being a drama queen? Keep it for dressing-up time, Cancer! You really must stay calm and in control this week. Mars and Pluto encourage an aggressive attitude to any setbacks that can be blown out of all proportion. LEO (24 July-23 Aug) There are consoling thoughts and dreams coming your way this week with the lovely Pisces New Moon. Small problems seem smoothed over and anything seems possible. Of course, in the real world it takes a bit more effort and determination. VIRGO (24 Aug-23 Sept) A wave of optimism washes over you at the beginning of this week, so let your imagination flow with it. As a free spirit you have it in you to make the most of any circumstances, however good or bad. LIBRA (24 Sept-23 Oct) You had to take a deep breath last week when something important changed, but by now it has been possible to see the benefits instead of just the downs. Whatever your thoughts at present, they will be tempered by the Pisces New Moon which gives an imaginative and gentle approach. SCORPIO (24 Oct-22 Nov) Make the most of a quiet start this week to tie up loose ends while fun is brewing all around. Come midweek it will be much harder to concentrate with so much going on. However, it is important to do just that, especially when dealing with any important documents. SAGITTARIUS (23 Nov-21 Dec) A big advantage is yours this week with both chatty Mercury and influential Jupiter batting for you. Grab the ball of chance and run with it, going all out to impress. If you are successful, a fond wish will come true sooner than expected. CAPRICORN (22 Dec-20 Jan) With a strong feeling of ‘self’ at the moment, this week sees you actively communicating your ideas and aspirations. This is a clear-thinking time, but there is much to think on. To avoid feelings of confusion, first look at the facts and then make a plan. AQUARIUS (21 Jan-19 Feb) A rather dreamy start to the week can lull you into a false sense of what is to come. Bring minor things to a close and pay attention to loved ones. Both Mercury and Jupiter arrive midweek, firing your hopes and pushing you to make them reality. If some ideas seem but a dream, then seek technical advice and perhaps even start something new and innovative.
Ann Ballard, Jean Hartley and Sandra Lovesey
t Annes Old Links Golf Club held their ladies night dinner at the New Glendower Hotel, St Annes. Club captain Dave McBain gave the toast to the ladies and a poetic response was given by Lady Captain Jenny Whitaker. Entertainment was provided by music duo, Studio Two.
Jean Molloy, Maureen Romer, Dorothy Cartwright and Gladys James
Mick Molloy, Terry Cartwright, Max Romer and Rick James
Gwen Jagger, Betty Stapleton, Dave McBain, Jenny Whitaker and Betty McBain. Back: Keith Stapleton, John Jagger and Mike Whitaker
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John Bennett, Cyril Wildon and David Ellitson
Richard Wooldridge, Roy Male, Victoria Wooldridge, Linda Fazackerley, Mayor of Fylde Coun Susan Fazackerley, President St Annes Rotary Louis Shaw, guest speaker Michael Coles, Jean Eaves and Margaret Coles
Ian Withers, Marie Morgan, Peter Morgan and Roland Whitehead
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t Annes Rotary Club held their annual Old English Night dinner at Fylde Rugby Club. President Louis Shaw welcomed members and guests who were entertained by guest speaker Michael Coles.
Barbara Terras, Kadaba Vasudev, Lakshman Balasubramanyam and Richard Terras