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Christmas Gift guide NutriBullet Balance Smart Food Blender from John Lewis

Eco-Friendly Faux Fur Scandi furniture retailer JYSK is championing faux fur this season with the ontrend TAKS, available in three colours - grey, off-white and dusty rose, for just £10 a piece. Ideal for adding an accent colour in the bedroom, living room, even the bathroom, and kids adore them, too. https://jysk.co.uk

The NutriBullet Balance Blender is more than just a blender, it’s the world’s first smart nutrition system. Now you can make professional quality smoothies at home, and track your nutritional goals with a dedicated app on your smart phone or tablet that interacts with your new blend. www.johnlewis.com £149.99

Miles Morales Spiderman

Sanatio - Diffuser Lamp Hand-Crafted from glass, this beautiful diffuser adds a touch of natural elegance and luxury to any space. It utilizes ultrasonic technology to produce a fine, cool fragrant mist. Enjoy a mindful aromatherapy moment. Perfect gift for someone special in the Home, Spa, Hotel, Office. Purchase via Sanationaturalis.com Handcrafted £80.00

Figurine holds any of your smart device, whether that’s your PlayStation, X-Box, Switch, retro console controller or smartphone/mobile phone. They don’t just look awesome at your gaming set up either as they power up your devices too! The easy to use, functional device stands proud at 8” tall, complete with a 2m cable to enable the charging of your most well used gadgets to commence, it’s the perfect edition to take pride of place in any bedroom, office or lounge. Further models (Sonic, Chun Li, Deadpool Rear, Master Chief, Rafiki, Spyro Ice and Captain Price) from some of your favourite gaming and movie classics. £20.31 - £29.99 from Amazon

'The Welshiest G&T' Miniature Gift Set From Cygnet Gin

Sanatio - Geranium Essential Oil Sanatio Naturalis Geranium Pelargonium graveolens is a finest 100% pure therapeuticquality aromatherapy essential oil from Egypt, and is obtained by steam distillation from the leaves and flowers. Purchase via Sanationaturalis.com 10ml £20.00

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The much sought after and eagerly awaited gift box comes with a 5cl Cygnet Gin Miniature, 200ml Llanllyr Source Welsh Tonic water and a Cygnet Gin branded gin balloon glass. The gift set is finished with incredible design and detailing, something that the brand has now become synonymous with; including an emotive Welsh spirited poem written on the side. Available from www.cygnet-distillery.co.uk RRP - £15.00

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Decathlon Stay warm on chilly walks this winter by picking yourself up some waterproof wear from Decathlon’s newest collection. Perfect for walkers at every level, Decathlon’s latest kit will be sure to keep you dry while out on rainy afternoon hikes. CHILDREN'S WATERPROOF HIKING JACKET – NAVY BLUE £14.99 WOMEN'S MOUNTAIN WALKING FLEECE - BLUE GREY £5.99 MEN'S MOUNTAIN HIKING TROUSERS – KHAKI £24.99 All available at www.decathlon.co.uk/

Robo Dash Mookie has just launched ROBO DASH - a loveable robotic dachshund that moves, sounds and acts like a real dog, has been unleashed - just in time for Christmas. He’s an adorable, lively puppy that is destined to be a child’s best friend with all the characteristics of a real four-legged friend; he pants, he barks, he yelps, and he even wags his tail when he’s happy. Available from Argos, Very, Wicked Uncle, Menkind and Amazon, the ROBO DASH™ RRP £60

Fabfitfun Unveils Its Winter Box, In Collaboration With Maria Shriver FabFitFun, has launched its Winter Box. Containing a varied selection of this season’s most exciting products delivered directly to you, the Winter Box is packed with 8 -10 products from beauty, fitness, lifestyle and fashion for less than £50, (per season*) and has a guaranteed worth of over £150.The Winter Box celebrates the “Breaths In Between” this holiday season and has all the essentials you need to survive the cold. The box selection provides customizable options from some of the most sought-after brands, so there is something for everyone! www.fabfitfun.com

Coole Swan, A Premium Irish Cream Liqueur Each set features a 700ml bottle of Coole Swan premium Irish cream liqueur along with two beautifully crafted glasses. Coole Swan is best enjoyed in celebration and this stunning Gift Pack makes the perfect Christmas present. www.johnlewis.com/coole-swan-superior-irish-cream-liqueur-with2x-glasses RRP £35.00 - John Lewis

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Fun Festive Pyjama Sets From Peacocks Boys navy blue long sleeve 'Snow Much Fun!' slogan top and matching navy and red check bottoms. Girls red long sleeve 'Snow Cute!' slogan top and matching navy and red check bottoms. Women’s red long sleeve 'Up To Snow Good!' slogan top and matching navy and red check bottoms.Men’s Containing a navy blue long sleeve 'Snow Probs!' slogan top and matching navy and red check bottoms, it's perfect for Christmas. https://www.peacocks.co.uk/

Fortnite Dabs Single Duvet Fortnite is massive at the moment and wilko has the perfect bedding for any super fan! https://www.wilko.com/ £12

Friends of the Earth Reusable Bottle Created By Ion8

Lava Moments Candle Sea Dream promises a journey of olfactory bliss. It radiates a sunny fragrance that's reminiscent of a fresh and woody seaside. FRAGRANCE Top Notes: Mint, Concord Grape Leaves Middle Notes: Jasmine, Roasted Almond Bottom Notes: Vanilla The Sea Dream candle is 820 grams and burns up to 85 hours. Size 10 x 10 cm RRP £78.00 luxury candle collections https://www.lavamoments.com/

25% of profits help their campaign to reduce plastic in the ocean. The bottle is stainless-steel, stunning and the images show a plastic bottle print on top of the amazing ocean prints, helping show the harm plastic does whilst showing a real statement. The Sunset Surfer Ion8 Friends of the Earth 500ml Insulated Bottle costs £19.99 from Leakproof.co.uk

Cadbury Dairy Milk 850g This extra-large Cadbury Dairy Milk X-Mas Bar is a perfect gift and is ideal for sharing with friends and family. Use as a stocking filler or add it to a festive-inspired food hamper. https://www.wilko.com/ £8.00

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editors letter

cardiff times

Welcome PUBLISHER Cardiff Times Hi All, and welcome to our December issue.

EDITOR Louise Denning 07903 947594

I think it is probably now safe to mention the ‘C’ word Christmas! Our children have compiled their (very long!) lists for Santa, and it’s interesting to see as they get older how their choice of presents change.

FEATURES EDITOR Mark Denning 07758 247194 SALES & MARKETING Beth beth@cardiff-times.co.uk

CONTRIBUTORS Wyn Evans, Vince Nolan, Carl Marsh, Sara John, Molly Dutton, Sue Good, Michael James, Craig Muncey

Our daughter’s birthday celebrations managed to last a whole weekend last month, which included a family meal and a (very loud!) children’s party at Boulders. Great fun was had by all, and as an activity for wearing children out, we thoroughly recommend two hours of indoor climbing! If you haven’t finished (or started!) your Christmas shopping, then you are in luck, as we have a three page Christmas Gift Guide to help you choose that perfect present. We also have two pages of Christmas Beauty Ideas - we are really spoiling you this month! December in Cardiff is one of our favourite month’s of the year, there is just so much to do and see in the city. We are all looking forward to our annual trip to the New Theatre to see this year’s panto, Cinderella, starring the always hilarious Mike Doyle, and also this year Gok Wan! Talking of Gok, we have an exclusive interview with the man himself as part of Carl Marsh’s entertainment column, definitely not to be missed! Finally, Mark and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our advertisers and contributors, who continue to be loyal and support our magazine, it is very much appreciated by us. We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

EDITORIAL

029 2046 3028

ADVERTISING 07903 947594 EMAIL

info@cardiff-times.co.uk

WEB

www.cardiff-times.co.uk

Louise & Mark

Follow us on Twitter

@CardiffTimes

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December

CONTENTS

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38 Christmas Feature - We Have Everything Covered!

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40 “In The Words Of…” By Carl Marsh

FEATURES

48 ‘And Another Thing…’ By Vince Nolan

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Christmas Gift Guide

54 Puzzle Mania

12 Nitro World Games Wales 2020 Come To Cardiff

58 Fashion Done Your Own Way By Molly Dutton

18 The Greatest Story; Or, Our Own Little Miracle!

64 I’m Dreaming Of A Green Christmas

By Wyn Evans

By Sue Good

22 Christmas Beauty Ideas 28 Gatland - The Welsh Years

68 It’s Beginning To Look Like Christmas

By Craig Muncey

By Michael James

32 My Side Of The Bed

71 Puzzle Mania Solutions

By Sara John

72 ‘The Glory, The Glory Of The Lord’

36 Books To Look Out For In December

By Sara John

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nitro world games wales 2020 come to cardiff More than 100 of the best athletes in sport’s most extreme disciplines will gather in Cardiff next spring when the world’s preeminent action sports competition takes place for the first time ever outside the U.S. Global sport and entertainment leaders Nitro Circus and Live Nation have partnered with Visit Wales, Principality Stadium and Cardiff Council to bring Nitro World Games Wales 2020 to Cardiff on the Bank Holiday weekend, 23rd and 24th May. Next year, elite competitors in freestyle motocross (FMX), BMX, skate and freestyle scooter will face off not only for a coveted trophy, but more importantly for ultimate bragging rights as a world champion.

Nitro World Games Wales 2020 will take over Principality Stadium with five electrifying action sports disciplines, all of which push the limits of gravity. Freestyle Motocross and BMX Best Trick each take big air action to the next level thanks to the world’s biggest and tallest ramps, and both have been fan favourites since the event’s inception. Also a fixture is BMX Best Triple Hit, requiring a singular combination of aerial agility and technical consistency necessary to land three tricks in quick succession. Skate Vert, a recent addition to Nitro World Games, will see top athletes take on the halfpipe, and rounding out the event is Scooter Best Trick, featuring one of action sports’ fastest growing disciplines and the biggest ramp used in competition.

Created by Nitro Circus and action sports icon Travis Pastrana, Nitro World Games pushes the limits of action sports competitions. Featuring new big air formats, breakthrough ramp technology and innovative judging criteria, Nitro World Games shifted the landscape for both athletes and the industry alike in its 2016 debut and Nitro Circus' global livestream reached a hungry audience worldwide. Travis Pastrana said, “With Nitro World Games, our mission was to allow athletes to push their sports to the next level. We wanted to give athletes bigger ramps along with innovative landing technology which allows them to push the envelope and attempt tricks previously thought impossible. To see Nitro World Games thrive after three years in the U.S. and now crossing borders for the first time and coming to Cardiff, Wales, I couldn’t be more thrilled.”

Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, Welsh Government Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “I’m delighted that the Nitro World Games are coming to Wales in 2020. This will be the first time the games have been hosted outside the U.S. and is another historic milestone for Wales and a reflection of our growing reputation as an outstanding events destination. Many of the world’s leading action sports athletes will compete in the unique atmosphere of the Principality Stadium, and I’m sure their gravity-defying tricks will provide the tens of thousands of spectators with a breath-taking experience.” While the world-class competition will have attendees on the edge of their seats, there is also plenty to do outside the stadium over the bank holiday weekend. After cheering on the athletes and their spectacular successes, fans can share that celebratory spirit by enjoying the wide variety of entertainment and great food Cardiff has to offer. Nitro World Games, Cardiff Principality Stadium, 23rd – 24th May 2020. To purchase tickets or for more information please visit nitroworldgames.com

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It Won’t Be Lonely This Christmas At Cardiff Care Home

Throughout December, Tŷ Llandaff will be encouraging further Christmas get togethers for residents too, which will include a festive quiz and a more grown up gathering at a cheese and wine event on December 18, giving residents the chance to dress up and enjoy sharing Christmas memories. Residents will be able to enjoy carol singing, mulled wine and mince pies with friends and there may even be a special visit from some reindeer to greet them.

It certainly will not be lonely this Christmas at one care home in Cardiff as its residents have lots of festive fun to look forward to this year. Staff at Tŷ Llandaff, which offers residential, nursing and respite care, have organised a bumper calendar to make this season one to remember for all their residents who live at the home on Conway Road in Pontcanna.

Tŷ Llandaff Service Manager Lisa Cristina said: “Here at Ty Llandaff, it’s important for to us to create a jolly atmosphere for our residents at this time of year. We hope that our Christmas events will be a way for residents to create new, happy memories.

The festive fun will get underway with a party this week, bringing together all generations, when Tŷ Llandaff hosts a Christmas party for toddlers. Father Christmas will even be making a special visit to meet the residents and will be bringing some presents to give out to the children.

“We are all especially looking forward to kicking things off with our special party with the little ones too. Some of our residents aren’t able to see as much of their families as they would like over the busy festive season, or they may no longer have young children in their lives, so events like this are particularly special.”

Tŷ Llandaff activities co-ordinator Melanie Geoghegan said: “Nothing lifts the spirits like watching the faces of young children as they enjoy the magic and wonder of Christmas and informal research has shown that this type of inter-generational mixing can bring about significant enhancement in the wellbeing of older people. Events where children visit and enjoy themselves are always popular with all at Tŷ Llandaff.”

For more information about Tŷ Llandaff call Lisa on 02920 600 100, email info@ tyllandaffcare.com or visit www.tyllandaffcare.com

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the greatest story; or, our own little miracle! By Wyn Evans I have flirted with God my whole life. One of my fondest memories is of discussing with my father who or what god was. I was studying Law in Aberystwyth University in the late 1970s and at the end of each of the three terms Dad would drive up from home in Kidwelly and ferry me back. Of course, I brought with me a ton of washing alongside my textbooks. (Full disclosure: there weren’t many textbooks. Like many other a young man I spent too many of my student nights in the pub, staying out with my mates, or in with a girlfriend. I eventually came to value education for its own sake, rather than for the socialising, but more of that below.)

may not meet mam again in an afterlife (she died many years before) at least their energies would be as one. I still cry when I remember his words. Time went on and I reached my mid-twenties. I went to Cambridge University to study Theology. I wanted to do a degree properly this time, without wasting the experience. I think it’s fair to say that, though still agnostic, I was keen to establish whether or not I should use the break-down of my marriage to move my career, like my life, in a new direction. I got as far as agreeing with the church that, after my degree, I would be considered for the Ministry. Nothing came of that in the end because studying theology transformed me into an evangelical atheist! Granted, the most we can say is ‘god? I don’t know’ and thus the principled position is agnosticism. But, just as committed believers have more fun believing than not knowing, I have more fun being atheistic than being agnostic. And I genuinely believe there is no personal, interventionist, god. God, if she exists, is so far removed from our lives that she may as well not exist.

Dad did not practise any particular faith. Nor did he feel any pull towards the forms and liturgies of worship. But he had a sense of the numinous. Each journey home from University we would return to the big questions. We saved such conversations for these car journeys; I cannot recall ever discussing them at home. And so we’d get into it. Was God real? Was god a spaceman? (We had been reading Erich von Daniken’s ‘Chariots of the Gods?’(1) one year!) Were religious texts based upon revelation or were they explained as the natural product of very human development – superstitious pre-scientific, pre-literate societies naming what they did not understand ‘god’ or ‘gods’ - an early manifestation of the ‘god of the gaps’ theory? The gaps being filled by scientific knowledge until there were no more gaps left for god to hide in; until Nietzsche claimed that ‘Gott ist tot’. He used the phrase ‘God is dead’ to express his idea that the Enlightenment had eliminated the possibility of the existence of God(2). What Dad and I agreed on was that there probably was no actively interventionist personal god. I felt that what was key was the ‘Idea of God’ and was very taken by Bonhoeffer’s musings about a ‘religionless Christianity’, where humanity had come of age and had no need of a ‘real’ god(3). Dad was more circumspect than me and rooted his thoughts in modern physics. For him the First Law of Thermodynamics, which states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; it can only be transferred or changed from one form to another. Just before his death a few years ago he reminded me of this conversation and said that though he

Article - Wyn Evans - December 201... page 2

Of course, various religions have claimed that this unknown and unknowable god has revealed Herself to us. Christianity goes as far as to say that God became one with humanity and suffered for us, rising again to defeat death. On this basis it is been called ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told(4)’ and it is the Easter message that is central to the story. It still

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CT Feature

seems apt to me that the eponymous movie included (the much underrated) John Wayne. Had I been casting, he would have played God. As it was, he played the Roman Centurion and got to say the line: “Truly this man was the Son of God”.

Fourteen years ago The Boss and I shared a fraught but exciting Christmas. Fraught because my wife was roughly six months into the pregnancy that would later deliver The Girl, our daughter, who has Down Syndrome. We had had a previous miscarriage so every little thing made us worry. Exciting, because we could barely contain our hopes that she would be born safely to us. We opted to celebrate with a meal for two at TGI Fridays before visiting family the next day.

But Easter is preceded by Christmas and Christmas is again upon us. Alongside Diwali it is my favourite religious festival; light coming into the world, a time of optimism and renewal. The roots of pagan winter festivals were assimilated into and transformed by Christianity into something new and this, now-ancient, festival is here once more. Granted, it has been ambushed by Victorian sentiment and practice, by Dickens, by TV schedules, and by the need to get away to somewhere warm. But it remains special, even to an evangelical atheist like me. For me, Christmas starts with the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College Cambridge, at 3pm on Christmas Eve (listen on BBC Radio 4(5)). Of course if I left the shopping until after this programme Christmas wouldn’t happen at all in the Evans house; so, technically, my Christmas starts earlier than this, but, hey!, you know what I mean.

Now, here we are once again. The Girl, our very own little miracle (“big, dad”), is in Year 9 at Cardiff High School, has loads of friends, and is doing well. It’s hard not to be enthused by her constant love of and lust for life. The Boss is doing well at work and my Parkinson’s seems to be reacting well to a new drug regime. Whether you be a heathen like me, a person of faith or of none, we wish you a very happy and blessed Christmas. And a special shout-out to Silas, Emma and her daughter in Nottingham, for introducing yourselves to us this week. Thank you all for reading and sharing your stories with ours. We look forward to being with you afresh in January. Footnotes: 1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chariots_of_the_Gods%3F 2. https://bigthink.com/scotty-hendricks/what-nietzschereally-meant-by-god-is-dead 3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Dietrich_Bonhoeffer#Theological_legacy 4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ The_Greatest_Story_Ever_Told#Cast 5. https://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/chapel/a-festival-of-ninelessons-and-carols

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Craniosacral Therapy brings about a deep state of relaxation This can help resolve problems such as back or neck pain, headaches or any stress related symptoms. It can also help speed your recovery from accident, operation or illness.

Craniosacral Therapy enhances health and well–being For more information, contact Judy Clover RCST on 02920 481844 or mail@judyclover.co.uk www.judyclover.co.uk 1 21

Cardiff Times • www.cardiff-times.co.uk

Stewart Greenberg Page page 1

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Christmas Beauty Ideas ESPA Special Moments Advent Calendar Explore ESPA’s limited-edition collection of precious, hand selected gifts. Hidden within each drawer, you will find ESPA treasures for the mind, body and skin. Discover new favourites and embrace your most loved formulas, one little precious moment at a time. RRP £130

Sanctuary Spa - Signature Showstopper RRP: £40 CLARINS - Super Restorative Day Cream – Very Dry Skin ESPA The Luxury Spa Collection This indulgent collection contains everything you need to enjoy precious moments of luxury and relaxation. Inspired by worldwide ESPA spas and treatments, this indulgent collection contains everything you need to enjoy precious moments of luxury and relaxation; all housed in a beautiful keepsake box. Recreate your own spa experience at home for a renewed sense of wellbeing and inner calm.

An intensive replenishing day cream that meets the specific needs of very dry skin on face challenged by hormonal changes due to the ageing process. £74.00

Give in to your pamper cravings with Sanctuary Spa's ultimate collection of head-to-toe treats. Relax and enjoy that well deserved 'me-time' with our most indulgent favourites of all time. • Foaming Bath Soak 75ml • Body Scrub 200ml • Wet Skin Moisture Miracle 200ml • Body Wash 250ml • Heel Balm 75ml • Signature Sanctuary Body Butter 300ml

(Worth £292) RRP £150 LUSH - PERFUME New - Rose Jam Aromatics Elixir & Body Smoother Set Sensual, sophisticated and slightly exotic, Aromatics Elixir has had the power to enchant since its inception in 1971. Today, this charismatic scent is the calling card of avant-garde women around the world. Aromatics Elixir captured the zeitgeist of the time. It had a rare, earthen sensibility that appealed to the independent spirit of the day. Smart, sexy and non-conformist, it was the epitome of femininity. Stocking at World Duty Free. https://uk.worlddutyfree.com

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This sophisticated and romantic delight blooms with scents of fresh rose, lemon, and geranium. It also contains Pakistani rose absolute, which helps to soothe and rejuvenate the skin. Grown without the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, the organic practices benefit not just the land, but the growers, too. https://uk.lush.com/products/ vegan-perfumes/rose-jam

Clarins Joli Rouge Velvet Lipstick in 711 Papaya Clarins has put a new matte finish on its legendary Joli Rouge lipstick in a luxuriously hydrating formula that strikes a seamless balance between non-drying lipstick and a flawless velvet look. RRP £22

Dr Organic’s Manuka Honey Moisture Gift Set This Christmas, treat your loved one (or yourself!) to the ultra-nourishing and replenishing benefits of Manuka Honey, with Dr Organic’s new Manuka Honey Moisture Gift Set featuring three of the range’s top moisture-boosting skincare products the Manuka Honey Rescue Cream, Skin Lotion and Hand & Nail Cream. All of these are formulated with nourishing extracts such as cocoa butter, sunflower seed oil and vitamin E, working together to leave skin feeling restored, moisturised and naturally healthy. Dr Organic, Organic Manuka Honey Moisture Gift Set (£18.00, Available in Holland & Barrett)

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Time Bomb Divine Intervention Glow Oil Drawing on ancient beauty wisdom and practices from around the globe, this healing facial oil delivers powerful calming, anti-inflammatory properties to soothe, smooth and brighten your complexion and awaken its inner incandescence. This radical formula blends the modernity of the lipid-rich, anti-inflammatory Cannabis Sativa oil with ancient sacred oils so skin appears tranquil, supple, more rested3 enlightened! £50/30ml, timebombco.com

é2 é2 is the perfect His and Her perfume direct from the East End of London. Priced at just £39 for a 20ml travel sized bottle é2 is the new perfume to look out for - and everyone will want it because this is going to shake the world of the French, Italian and Spanish perfumerie designers. www.studiostyl.uk

Kenzo World Power Kenzo World Power celebrates empowerment, the power of singularity, the strength of complementarities, and highlights the multiple facets of femininity. 30ml EDP SRP £46.00, 50ml EDP SRP £65.00 Available from John Lewis

Clinique For Men Maximum Energy System Set Travel Exclusive: Daily revivers he’ll want to take wherever he goes, from Clinique For Men™. Super Energizer SPF 40 Anti-Fatigue Hydrating Concentrate energizes skin with 12 hours of anti-fatigue power. Delivers all-day hydration and antioxidant defence to fight the first signs of aging. Cooling roll-on Anti-Fatigue Eye Gel instantly revitalizes, hydrates and brightens tired-looking eyes. Combats puffiness, dark circles. Cream Shave cushions beard, helps calm razor burn. Great value, great travel companions. Allergy Tested. 100% Fragrance Free. £49.15 https:// uk.worlddutyfree.com

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Pestle & Mortar’s Box of Stars For the skincare lover in your life. Be someone’s skin star this Christmas by gifting them Pestle & Mortar’s Box of Stars. Stunningly packaged in a luxury giftbox with the brand’s signature monochrome styling. £63.20

Westlab’s MULLED WINE Salts A favourite seasonal beverage, a glass of Mulled Wine captures the essence of Christmas with its fragrant spices and warming flavour. Transformed into a fragrant, mineral-infused bath, Westlab’s MULLED WINE salts contain magnesium-rich Epsom salts infused with spicy Cinnamon, Clove and Mandarin. Encouraging users to unwind and relax, a warming bath in MULLED WINE will be the perfect treat at the end of a long, cold winter’s day. £8, Exclusive to Holland and Barrett

One for some seasonal self-careA You’ve treated everyone else and now it’s time to treat yourself amidst all the partying! Say goodbye to those tired eyes with Olay Eyes Deep Hydrating Eye Gel. With skincare heavyweight ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide / vitamin B3, this turquoise coloured treasure delivers powerful results to the area women worry about the most – the delicate eye area - and enables you to enjoy 24 hours of nonstop hydration for a wide-awake look. It can even be kept in the fridge for an added cooling effect! Available now at Boots RRP: £24.99 2

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get glowing skin in time for christmas The HydraFacial is suitable for all skin types and can tackle a wide range of skin complaints and conditions. It can be performed weekly and monthly depending on your skin needs; when clients experience the HydraFacial difference, it becomes a must have treatment for maintaining beautiful, radiant skin.

To get your skin ready for the Christmas season request a HydraFacial at the Specialist Skin Clinic. The HydraFacial is a unique multi-step facial treatment that boosts skin health by cleansing, exfoliating and extracting" this is like no other facial you will have ever had. Whether you just want to maintain healthy skin or you are concerned with the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, areas of pigmentation or acne, the HydraFacial is the perfect skin solution.

The treatment is totally non-invasive so perfectly safe with no downtime. The HydraFacial experience is very comfortable and clients are excited to see an improvement to the skin immediately after treatment.

Is your skin looking dull and congested? First, lymphatic drainage is stimulated to increase circulation and aid in toxin elimination. Is your skin marred by impurities? The HydraFacial takes cleansing and exfoliation to the next level, removing dead skin cells and impurities.

The HydraFacial can either be performed as a one-off skin pick-me-up or provided as an ongoing skin health regime. Results can be seen immediately after treatment but will continue to improve if a treatment programme is followed.

Has your skin lost its natural glow? The next step in the HydraFacial treatment is to apply a gentle glycolic and salicylic solution to brighten and illuminate the skin.

Contact the Specialist Skin Clinic on 02920617690 to arrange an appointment or go to www.specialistskinclinic.uk for more information.

Skin looking parched and dry? A specially designed cocktail of antioxidants, peptides and hyaluronic acid is delivered into the dermis to plump and hydrate the skin. The final step" LED light is used to stimulate collagen production and reduce any areas of redness or irritation, so skin immediately looks more healthy and radiant.

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Picture Credit – sixnationsrugby.com

gatland - the welsh years By Craig Muncey

the Six Nations with Gatland in charge, Wales won the Championship four times, with three Grand Slams. In the ultimate test of a national team, the Rugby World Cup, Wales with Gatland reached the knockout stages in the three World Cup tournaments he led Wales, getting to the semi-finals twice and once the quarter-finals before being eliminated.

Well, the World Cup has come to an end with Wales reaching the semi-finals before succumbing to defeat to eventual winners, South Africa. Many teams now will go through a new cycle with changes to personnel both on the playing staff and in management groups. One such side is Wales, who will have in the main, a new coaching group. Head Coach, Warren Gatland will be returning to New Zealand with Wayne Pivac taking the reins. Gatland took over as Welsh Coach in 2008, so 11 years in the role, a considerable period for any coach. This article looks at his period in charge where there is no doubt that he turned around the fortunes of the national side, but also poses questions as to whether as some say, he is the greatest Welsh Coach of all-time? Read over my views and come to your own conclusions.

Gatland built a strong team around him with one of the shining lights being Shaun Edwards, the Defence Coach. Wales became a leader from a defensive perspective on the international stage. The structure Edwards put in place with an emphasis on defence made Wales very difficult to beat. With players such as Gethin Jenkins, Alun Wyn Jones, Sam Warburton, Dan Lydiate, Leigh Halfpenny and Jamie Roberts all superb defenders in the ranks, Wales had the players in place to be very difficult to break down.

The Successes When Gatland became Head Coach, there is no question that Wales needed a new direction. The World Cup in 2007 had been a massive disappointment, with Wales not qualifying for the knockout stages under the leadership of Gareth Jenkins. In his first year in charge, Wales won the Grand Slam with some excellent performances. In

Before the summer of 2008, Jamie Roberts was seen as a fullback/winger. Still, on the tour to South Africa, it was identified by the Welsh Coaches that Roberts could be a considerable influence in the centre with his defence and his ability to get over the gain line with his physical

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prowess to be able to carry the ball forward and retain the ball against heavy traffic. Roberts would unquestionably become one of the best inside centres of his generation.

three against Australia. Interestingly, the most wins occurred against South Africa, is this due to the style of play where South Africa often relied on attrition with big powerful direct playing style, unlike the way Australia and New Zealand play, was our strong defence more suited to directness? Whatever the reason, the numbers do not look good. Appreciate those three have been at the top or near the top of world rankings for many years but is it reasonable that Wales should have attained more victories?

The kick chase was also a massive part of Gatland’s game plan for Wales. With players such as Halfpenny, Dan Biggar and Lee Byrne in his time in charge Wales had accurate kickers who could put the ball where required. If kicking to keep the ball on the field, Wales with the defensive structures in place would try to win the kicking battle and force the opposition to run the ball back and then rely on their defence and fitness (which improved massively), to win a penalty or turn the ball over. It worked numerous times over the years.

Under Gatland’s leadership, the Welsh Rugby Union brought in dual contracts for players identified as being key to international success who may look to move abroad as well as the 60-cap rule, all to retain players. Gatland had more access to players than ever before outside of international windows than any coach had ever had previously. The national team had its successes, but many regional fans felt to the detriment of their respective local teams. Many international players were rarely seen playing for the region due to playing time being managed for the national team which for the weekly domestic rugby fan was disappointing.

Gatland also put significant importance on players spending times with their families even during periods in camp. From speaking with players, he completely changed the work ethos and professionalism and wanted players to be happy on and off the pitch, and their families being around the camp certainly played an essential part in this.

Could There Have Been More? In closing, Warren Gatland and his coaching team deserve a lot of credit for their time in Wales. The national side is now respected around the rugby world and in a healthy position for the new coach to move forward. Could it though have been even more successful? Let us know your thoughts.

Under Gatland, Wales had world-class talent that most international sides would have enjoyed to have had at their disposal, did we make the most of that talent? Ball-players such as Martyn Williams, Justin Tipuric, Gavin Henson etc. Try threats such as Shane Williams, Alex Cuthbert, Mike Phillips, Jonathan Davies, Mark Jones, Lee Byrne, George North etc. Forwards of the ability of Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees, Adam Jones, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton and Taulupe Faletau, to name a few. Were the structures too rigid, could the playing style have evolved more with the players at his disposal? In terms of winning matches, then in the Northern Hemisphere, there is no question his record with Wales was outstanding. However, for many years to prove just how good a side is you have to beat the big three in the Southern Hemisphere, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Wales under Gatland played these three teams 44 times in total, winning just eight times, an 18% win ratio. Five of those wins were against South Africa and

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my side of the bed By Sara John

There have been numerous recent publications on unusual or little used words, now fallen out of general usage, which have caught the interest of readers and book lovers generally. Being particularly interested myself in one aspect of this topic, that is, in my case, words which need a whole sentence, in English, to explain them, I should like to share some of my findings offering a few examples of Welsh interest.

common language of school and of the workplace. It has taken more than a century for this to begin to be reversed. For the families who stayed behind, gradually the words of the local dialects were used less and less. Major social changes driven by the expansion of the railways into the countryside and the introduction of formal education through the medium of English hastened the end not only of significantly special words and expressions, but, eventually, of an entire way of life.

These few examples have been taken from a most valuable and fascinating lexicon compiled by the Rev. W. Meredith Morris and published, in Tonypandy, Rhondda, for subscribers only, in 1910 when he was Vicar of Clydach Vale.

I believe these words, mostly now lost, offer clues to the way of life, culture and customs that have all but disappeared.

There is also a social and historical aspect to these words. I think they, and their longer explanations, give us a real whiff of life in rural west Wales in the 1850’s.

ACHWYN

my side of the bed.

ADWEDD the district within which the poor were allowed to seek alms. There was a tacit understanding among the poor as to the boundaries, of these areas and there was great indignation by the poor of neighbouring communities if the alms-seekers ventured beyond them.

My small selection, only from A to B!, is taken from the Demetian dialect which was in everyday use in the north of Pembrokeshire in the area centered around Cwm Gwaun, certainly up to the First World War.

ARFACH a cantankerous man, disposed to find fault, ever ready to criticise. Literally “ar fach” means “on the hook”, that is a man with the hook of destructive criticism always in his hand, ready to catch at the smallest fault.

During the fifty years or so prior to 1914, there had been a steady migration of people from these rural areas (and in fact all over west Wales) travelling on the new railways to seek a better living in the increasingly industrialised valleys of Glamorganshire.

AWR-DEILWR twilight, literally the ‘tailors’ hour’. The time between two lights (natural and artificial) when it was too dark to do such work as that of tailoring and too early to light candles. The term came to have a wider application and signified any ‘idle hour’.

Many of these words and expressions travelled with the migrants and continued to form part of their everyday speech when conversing with each other. The children of these families, benefitting from regular school attendance, as required by law, gradually lost or forgot these expressions. The words used were referred to, disparagingly, as “kitchen Welsh”, and even as the Welsh language was codified they still fell into disuse. The Valleys attracted many people from the west of England, Spain, Italy and Ireland. English became the

BARCO to bark, many women earned their living formerly in the Gwaun woods by barking timber, in the days when oak bark was used in the preparation of leather. Their wages in 1850 were eight pence a day.

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BON-Y-GWYNT the direction the wind blows. For example the “Gwynt trad y meirw” described the wind from the east, literally it translates as “the wind from the feet of the dead”.

BEDYDD-ARCH the old custom, not quite forgotten yet (these explanations were written in 1909) of baptising an infant over the corpse of his mother who had died giving it birth. Undoubtedly a survival of a species of vicarious baptism.

BRACSO to walk through the river without boots or stockings and with the trousers rolled up.

BIETIN turf that is pared and burnt known as ‘bratland in South Pembrokeshire and in the north of England. When mountainous land was brought under cultivation the turf was first pared with a breast-plow and burnt in heaps. The ashes thus obtained were considered first-class manure. BIRWEN summers.

Mr Chambers’s dictionary refers to these as a ‘gloss’, that is one word or so that needs a sentence of explanation, a number of these would make up a ‘glossary’.

a maiden of from seventeen to twenty

I hope, by giving these dozen examples, it will prevent these words from dying out forever!

BIRCH HIR a hired cow. Poor people often hired a cow from the time of its calving until it became dry. If the animal was kept for more than one season, the next calf became the property of the hirer. The fee paid for the season was twenty-five shillings.

Try and use them if you ever have to tell a tale about a cantankerous man, his young wife of eighteen, the fire needing more balls of culm, his cold return from walking through the river barefoot, in an easterly wind after burning bracken on the hillside ready for the arrival of the hired cow, by which time it was too dark to see where he was going but too early to light candle as he had been raised by a widowed mother who stripped bark for eight pence a day and never lit a candle a moment too early.

BOLO’R-TAN to make up the fire, to put balls on the fire. Small anthracite coal was mixed with clay till it attained the consistency of mortar, then it was worked by hand into balls something in the shape of an egg, only larger and put on the fire.

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Books To Look Out For in December Dirty Vegan 2 : Another Bite by Matt Pritchard Tie-ing in to the second series of the hit cookery programme for BBC Cymru Wales and BBC iPlayer, Dirty Vegan is back with 80 brand-new recipes for proper vegan food. Matt Pritchard, co-creator and star of the cult TV show Dirty Sanchez, credits his incredible life transformation to his vegan diet. Now an endurance athlete, healthy living advocate and celebrity chef, Matt shows you how plant-based food can help you perform better in all aspects of life. Dirty Vegan 2 is bigger, even more rocking and absolutely full of Matt Pritchard’s wicked personality.

Available 12 December : Hardback £20

‘Let Me Know When You’re Famous Chris’ by Chris Clark Ever thought the old boy next door with a twinkle in his eye must have got up to some tricks in his time? Not many born in postwar Ely have given up a teaching career to go sharpening knives on the streets of South Wales, out of which came a niche product that made his fortune. Severn Road, Canton HS and an English degree led to Paris, Kenya and Arabia in a stirring life that went wrong, then right. Friends, girlfriends and a wonderful wife each leave an indelible mark in a poetic book by a local author that will have you reminiscing this Christmas about all the heartwarming and heartrending things that you too have been through, over the years.

Available now at Amazon: Paperback £7.99

Park Life by Peter Roberts In a unique and honest book, a Sunday League player-manager has written about the reality of football at the grass roots level. The new book, called Park Life and published by Y Lolfa, is a celebration of local football in the Rhondda Valleys and is full of humorous stories and banter, concentrating on the social side of the game. Author Peter Roberts has lived in the Rhondda since his family moved to area when he was four years old. In 2020 he will celebrate 40 consecutive seasons of playing 11-a-side competitive grass roots football. “I still love the game as much now as I did when I started playing aged 7, and want to continue playing for as long as I can,” says Peter, who works at the University of South Wales as a student disability adviser. “I feel that the camaraderie within grass roots football – in the Rhondda and all over the United Kingdom – is amazing, and the difference between it and the professional game is worth highlighting. The professional game has changed so much in recent years.”

‘You Must Be Mad!’ by Michael James The Himalayas. Probably the greatest mountain range on earth. The mere name conjures up the sight of majestic snow-capped mountains and tales of the struggles of historic and heroic climbing expeditions. This is the true story of (almost) a similar tale, of how a 75 year old man, Michael James, heard ‘The Still, Small Voice’ of God calling him to do something to raise awareness of and funding for two Christian charities he works with, The Leprosy Mission and The Rainbow of Hope. The undertaking of such a Trek was, for him, a huge personal challenge that gave rise to the comments from those who know him and who said, ‘You Must Be Mad!’

Available 2nd December: Paperback £7.99

Available now: Paperback £7.99

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Books To Look Out For in December A Dish Best Served Cold? by Chris Kinsey Nineteen days before his fifth birthday, Chris Kinsey was involved a nightmare scene: his father stabbed his mother to death while he was in the next room. Despite being convicted for murder, his father ended up looking after Chris after his release from prison. He ended up being involved in petty crime and doing casual drugs. After a number of wild years, and the death of a close friend to overdose, he was given a lifeline by an employer he met down the pub. Chris has now written a fictional book based on these experiences (examining the idea of revenge). He is now happily married with children, and now works for Jaguar-Land Rover.as violence depicted with shockingly visceral sense of reality – Chris is keen to point out that the story is also one of hope.

Available now: Paperback £8.99

Walking Cardiff by Peter Finch Poet and ‘psychogeographer’ Peter Finch is the go-to writer on Cardiff; he has conducted numerous alternative rambles, literary walks, non-literary adventures and cycle-aided excursions across the city, which he has collected into Walking Cardiff. The twenty walks here visit the new and the ancient, the difficult, the undiscovered, the lesser-known, the artistic, the entertaining, the quirky and the unexpected. Finch and photographer John Briggs criss-cross the city, informing, discovering, exploring, enduring reviving old routes as they go, from its farthest reaches – Lisvane, Penarth pier, Llanrumney – to its familiar centre around Cathays Park and the castle. Walking Cardiff encompasses the city’s history while recording daily life on its streets, in its parks and its famous, and not so famous, buildings.

Available now: Paperback £14.99

Reasons 2 Smile by Matthew Rees This autobiography details the life and career of Scarlets, Cardiff Blues, Wales, Lions and Barbarians rugby player Matthew Rees aka ‘Smiler’ - who was a key member of the Welsh team which achieved momentous Grand Slams at the 2008 and 2012 Six Nations Championships, and is the most capped hooker of all time for the Welsh national side. In the book, the Cardiff Blues hooker reveals all on his battle with testicular cancer in 2013, which changed everything for Matthew and his family. He reveals the ordeal of the treatment, and his fight to get healthy again, and back playing on the rugby field. The book includes a foreword by Wales coach Warren Gatland, who describes Matthew Rees as a team player who is “tough, leads by example, focused, resilient - but it keeps coming back to him being ‘just a good bloke’.”

The Mandore Rose by Cyril James Morris A mystery story full of intrigue and set in the early 1950’s about a young girl finding her way in life. Riley, brought up as a Romany girl, having left the confines of her group and now seemingly alone, seeks the meaning of her persistent dreams. She is accompanied by her deceased friend and guide, ’The Bangled Lady’, who comes to her in times of stress. She wears a golden ring with an inscription in a foreign language passed down to her from her mother. What does it signify?

Available now: paperback £8.99

Available now: Paperback £9.99

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Christmas - We Have Everything Covered! Covent Garden Flowers Eric Roberts LTD Cardiff florist has earned its reputation for being committed to both quality and service. In 2006 they incorporated Eric Roberts florist into the business which is known for being the longest running florist in Cardiff trading for over 65 years. They are an established florist business which prides itself on standing out from the crowd. One of the ways they do this is by spending valuable time visiting the Dutch flower auctions purchasing only the freshest, best quality flowers. Covent Garden Cardiff Florist has become renowned for its unique approach to design, specialising in the modern, exotic and unusual whilst being able to maintain the traditional standards of floristry. For all your Christmas floristry requirements, call : 02920 495999 www.coventgardenflowersdirect.co.uk

OneYou Treat yourself this Christmas by saving 40% Off Courses of Laser Hair Removal at OneYou, based in Canton. Courses start in sessions of x3 or more and are giftable too – the perfect present for this time of year! You can expect: Exceptional results of up to a 90% reduction of dark hair Simultaneous skin cooling for optimal comfort during treatment Treatment via a medical-grade laser for all skin types Continuity of care. All treatments are performed by Kimberley Davison-Sebry, with over 11 years’ experience in laser treatments. OneYou is based within the stunning Dollhouse Hair and Beauty Boutique, 451 Cowbridge Road East, CF5 1JH. All treatment is subject to suitability following a consultation and patch test. OneYou (2018) Ltd is Registered with the Healthcare Inspectorate Wales as an Independent Hospital for Laser Services. Book online today at www.oneyou.me or call 07531 744439. Offer ends 31.12.19. Packaged courses are included in this offer.

Clark’s Pies Created by Mary Clark over 100 years ago in 1913, Clark's Pies, colloquially nicknamed "Clarkies" or "Clarksies" are well known, quality meat pies originating from Cardiff. The exact recipe of the pie filling is a closely guarded secret containing beef, vegetables and gravy. Each pie has the word "CLARPIE" stamped into the base of the pie. Clark's Pies pride themselves on three things; • A rich history • The quality of their pies • Being Welsh and proud Clark’s Pies is an institution in Cardiff and South Wales, and the company is keen to progress and keep up with new developments whilst still retaining the image of being Cardiff’s traditional pie. Clark's Original Pies • 23 Bromsgrove Street, Grangetown, Cardiff, CF11 7EZ • Phone: 029 2022 7586 Email: pies@clarkspies.co.uk

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Mercure Cardiff North NEW MERCURE CARDIFF NORTH HOTEL UNVEILED JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS! The newly refurbished Mercure Cardiff North Hotel has just been unveiled to the public ready for the Christmas season. Completely refurbished, the hotel boasts a new restaurant for both local residents and hotel guests to enjoy, serving traditional British dishes with a modern and imaginative twist, using quality, locally sourced ingredients, together with an extensive selection of wines and spirits. It has 92 Standard Double Rooms, 27 Standard Twin Rooms, plus 13 Privilege Rooms, together with impressive conference facilities in the form of ten meeting rooms and onsite car parking with 150 spaces. Located in Cardiff’s docklands district, Tiger Bay, the new Mercure Cardiff North Hotel draws inspiration from local landmarks such as the Millennium Centre façade in Cardiff Bay, with details such as copper aesthetic lining and curated display items that encompass elements of the area’s cultural and historic past. Having previously operated under the Park Inn brand, the hotel is one of six across the UK to have been signed by Danish based property group, Proark, and rebranded to Mercure. Perfect for business or leisure travellers and families, maybe a visit could be added to your Christmas wish list! To find out more or book your stay, please visit: W: https://www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-B539-mercure-cardiff-north-hotel/index.shtml T: 0292 058 9988

The Cinnamon Tree The Cinnamon Tree is one of the finest Indian restaurants in Cardiff, with the interiors exuding the feeling of tradition and present their family history beautifully. With impeccable service and a broad, interesting and diverse menu, there is omething to suit the taste of every person that walks in the door. Just the fragrance of their curries that are bursting with flavour makes you salivate. Each of their dishes showcase the deep-rooted knowledge of authentic Indian cooking: the Maharaja Bhuna and Lamb Dhaka Achari are their most favourable dishes and are guaranteed to make you want to keep going back for more. It doesn’t matter what flavour of food suits your palate, the Cinnamon Tree provides dishes that are mild, medium and hot. The only problem you’ll face is having to decide on one dish from a wide selection, but no matter what you choose, you can’t go wrong. 173 King’s Road, Cardiff CF11 9DE 029 2037 4433 Cinnamon House, Tonteg Road, Treforest CF37 5UA

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Play At Pins Why not have your Christmas party at Play at Pins, a brand new boutique bowling, dining and escape room experience in the heart of Cardiff’s City Centre. Featuring bowling lanes, four different themed escape rooms and retro games. It is the perfect hang out for social gatherings and even bigger private and corporate events. The instagrammable space features a flower wall, retro artwork and plush interior. The drinks menu is full of beautifully presented cocktails including signature cocktails Cuba Libre, Paloma and Porn Star Martini. Whether you are saying cheers to the weekend or celebrating with a friend’s hen or stag party, there is something for all occasions. The food menu is perfect for social dining. Expect upmarket burgers, hot dogs and fries, with vegetarian and vegan options. The bar and dining area has a relaxed and welcoming vibe. Comfy seating in rich tones and tall bar tables create the perfect environment for long weekend gatherings and after work drinks. For more information visit www.playatpins.com or call 029 2009 9680 For 10% discount quote CT10 Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/playatpins Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/playatpins/

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“in the words of…” By Carl Marsh

I have to mention a big thank you to Freya Ridings for seeing my daughter and myself, after her gig at St David’s Hall. I interviewed her a while back, and we had a lengthy chat, and we spoke at how my daughter introduced me to her music. So she wanted to say hello to her, and me. It was just the two of us after the show. So we felt quite special!

November was a busy month for me, extremely busy. I had (and excuse me if I have forgotten anything!) a perfect night in the company of Stifyn Parri. He was performing his new stand-up show No Shame at Ffresh in the Wales Millennium Centre. As the name suggests, Stifyn has no shame. Says it all as it is. We get to learn a lot of things that he has never mentioned before, anecdotes that were either short or long; they hit the laughter-o-meter to the highest level. The only downside was when it all ended; I just wanted the show to go on, and on! Catch it in English or Welsh as he tours it around Wales and beyond! Wales v Hungary! What a night that was. I attended my first FAW game as press. Earlier in the month I was at the announcing of the Wales Men’s Football Team selection at Nathaniel Car’s in Bridgend and got to chat with Ryan Giggs. Being in the Cardiff City Stadium to watch the national team as press was a dream of mine, and what a night it was too! Wales were immense. When I was in the manager’s press conference after the game, even Ryan Giggs was still a bit subdued at the idea that Wales have qualified, outright, for the Euro’s in 2020! Brilliant!

Interviews This month I had the pleasure to interview the lead singer out of Shed Seven, Rick Witter. Hugely popular in the 90s, who then took a sort of hiatus to come back later and release an album of new songs in 2017, which made the top ten. They are playing at Cardiff University’s Great Hall on Monday 16th December. The BBC always comes up trumps with its original material, and they have a show called The Wedding Dress Shop. It’s a fly-on-the-wall documentary about what the title suggests. I got to catch up with Samm Buca. The show is airing on Thursday’s at 8:30 pm, or is on BBC iPlayer. I also got to chat with two members of The Overtones ahead of their annual Christmas tour. They have a new member, Jay James, and if you recall, I interviewed Jay back in January. They are playing St David’s Hall on Monday 16th December. Lastly, it would not be Christmas without pantomime - I give to you Cinderella! I chatted with Gok Wan, who is portraying The Fairy Gokmother, yep, that’s right! Showing at New Theatre throughout Christmas and into January.

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Rick Witter - Shed Seven Having been huge in the 90s, to come back then and have a top ten album 17 years later in 2017, is a rarity but Shed Seven did just that! I spoke to Rick Witter ahead of the band's gig at Cardiff University Great Hall on Monday 16th December. Carl Marsh You've just released Going for Gold (singles compilation), had a top ten album of new tracks in 2017, and now have this headlining tour, but some of us didn't realise that you'd been away that long! Then on top of that, we released a new album, as you quite rightly said, which was something like 16 years between releases. So, you know, if you're a casual fan, yes, you might not have known, but there's an awful lot of people who've been coming to see us over the last few years.

Rick Witter Well, it's a weird one as we haven't been away that long. If I had to give you a brief potted history; we did all right in the 90s, we kind of stopped in about 2003. And thinking that's it, game over. But then in about the beginning of 2007, and because we all didn't fall out and we still lived quite near to each other, we just got together and thought, wouldn't it be great to get together and just put a few gigs on and to play live because we loved playing live. So we did that at the end of 2007. And I think initially, we decided to put about maybe four or five gigs on, up and down the country to go out and play. But yeah, the reaction to it was mega really, and we ended up upgrading venues and adding more dates. So what was supposed to be like a five-day tour ended up being like a 20-day tour. And we just played our old hits. And then we found ourselves doing that every other year, since 2007. So this time when we go out, it's almost like 12 years since we've been back doing this.

Carl Marsh What was the catalyst for you guys to write new material as I know it can be quite easy to play gigs as you said of the greatest hits, but to record a release a top ten album of new songs, so long between releases, is phenomenal? Rick Witter It was a bit of a happy accident, to be honest. We were quite happy playing every other year and just playing our old hits, but obviously, a lot of hardcore Shed Seven fans were questioning throughout those ten years, ‘Will you ever write anything new?’. And for a long time, the nature of our lives meant that it was difficult even to bother starting to do that because we were all busy doing other things and we were quite happy as you say just getting together now and again and just playing our old stuff. I think about four or five years ago; I think we were rehearsing to do a gig, just getting match fit. And Paul the guitarist just absentmindedly started playing a guitar riff which became a song called Nothing To Live Down, which was off our last album. And he was mucking about on his guitar and the next thing I knew I was on my hands and knees scribbling out new lyrics and melody to this guitar riff. So we just accidentally wrote a song, and we thought, well, that's a good song. That then made us decide to get together once a week without telling anybody. I just thought, why don't we try and write some new stuff. And after about a year and a half, we'd amassed 20-25 songs. A lot of it was really good and worth persevering with. And it was very pleasing. Doing the whole process because there's no pressure on us because we haven't told anyone we're doing it. There was no record label, doing it was almost like a debut album it’s also fresh and was a joy to do, and I think that comes across when you listen to it. It sounds like a joyful album.

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Samm Buca I think it's the way that it's been edited I imagine because I don't find my sister very funny to be honest! [Laughs]. I've got two other sisters and two brothers, so there are lots of us in the family. We all get along brilliantly, and we are not a serious family. At work we are very professional but once the bride leaves, we have loads of cups of tea as we have loads to catch up on with what's been going on, you know. Initially, it's not what they sort of filmed for, as when the producer came in it was to do a kind of proper TV show about brides and everything, but they just found us interesting.

Samm Buca The Wedding Dress Shop starting airing on BBC One Wales on Thursday (November 14) at 8.30 pm, and will run for four weeks. You can also still catch the earlier episodes on BBC iPlayer. I spoke to the owner of Pink Butterfly Brides, Samm Buca, where the action(!) all happens. Carl Marsh I've seen the first episode, and you come across as very endearing, as a very, very warm personality, but how did the BBC approach you in the first place to make this series?

Carl Marsh Yeah, I guess when you're doing professional stuff that's interesting, and you get to hear the life stories of the future brides-to-be coming in, but then it's the offcuts, you know when you talk to your mum or your sister when she's falling asleep?

Samm Buca I was just approached by the fabulous director that is Sharon Bennett. She contacted me about doing something for TV. They then did a pilot, and obviously, this made the amazing BBC decide that I was the one for them. So I was over-the-moon really, and it's just all come about quite wonderfully and organically really, it has just been crazy. I am a bit of a 'yes' girl, you know, I don't say no to anything! And then all of a sudden I've got a bloody TV show! I've not seen it yet, so I don't know what it's like. [Laughs)

Samm Buca The thing is, I've been doing it for 12 years and I have often thought it would be suitable for a TV show as there is always a story behind 'every' family. I'm just nosey, and I always ask loads of questions. I like to know what's going on in their life. It gives me a better starting point to work with them. I like to be familiar with the girls. I think that's quite unusual for the industry that I am in, as it can be quite a bit snooty. I suppose that I want to break that mould of actually, you can go into a shop and make a friend and they will help you out as much as they can. I love working and doing what I do. It's amazing. I get to sort of dress girls up like a Barbie doll every day, that's how I see it.

Carl Marsh I saw the first episode where you've got your mum and your sister in the shop, and they also seem like 'right' characters themselves, and all of you are hilarious to watch.

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Carl Marsh Last year I know you had the tragic death of Timmy which put you down from a five to a four-piece, then when Lockie left, it put you down to a three, so what has stopped you from getting a fifth member now that Jay has replaced Lockie, or even staying as just three members?

The Overtones The Overtones will be bringing their Christmas Party 2019 to St David's Hall on Monday 16th December, and I spoke to Mike and Darren about what the fans can expect?

Darren It felt natural to stay as a four-piece after the tragic loss of (Timmy). Still, once we parted ways with Lockie we said now that we need to be a four for many reasons, you know, we like to put on the best show possible and have the best sound possible, and four is a good number for that.

Mike We're back on the road this December for our annual Christmas Tour, which is something that we absolutely love to do. And we can’t wait to get back on the road. Carl Marsh How's it going to be different from previous Christmas tours?

Carl Marsh Was it quite easy selecting the tracks to play on this Christmas tour?

Darren I'm not sure if you're aware there's been a line-up change as we now have Jay in the band. We're just going all out to make this the best show that we have ever done, to be honest, and will proudly you know, put it out there and let that manifest because we're working our 'butts off', excuse the French, to give the fans what they deserve. They've stuck by us for ten years, so we're going to provide them with the best Christmas party possible, as usual. We will hopefully make sure they forget about any stress or worries that are going on in the outside world and for that hour and a half we will make them smile, sing and dance and give them a night to remember.

Mike The thing is that's one of the challenges we always face when we go on tour. We're celebrating ten years of The Overtones next year, and that for us is a wonderful achievement and something that doesn't happen that often in the music industry as it kind of sits at the moment. We've got this back catalogue now of six albums. And that's a lot of songs. That's like 70 odd songs, and they're all classics, and they're all these great songs that our fans respond to and love. So, your question’s interesting because that's the main kind of challenge we face. Ultimately it is a very collaborative thing, as in The Overtones, we listen to the opinions of our fans, and we (ourselves) have discussions about it, it's never turned into this big kind of 'epic' discussion or argument. We know that we're all here for the good of the band and for the good of putting on an incredible night for our audience, so it always kind of happens quite organically and smoothly, to be honest.

Carl Marsh I've interviewed Jay before in January, and I know he can talk, he never shuts up, actually [laughs). Darren and Mike We've learned that, don't worry [laughter]. Carl Marsh But in all seriousness, what was it that made Jay sort of stand out for you guys, and to want to make him join the band? Mike We've known Jay for about a decade. And we met him when we did a charity album called Songs To Save A Life for The Samaritans. And, you know, we hit it off with him immediately. Over the last ten years, you know, our paths have crossed several times and actually, he's supported us in a few gigs a couple of years ago and, and you know, he's such a great guy, he's got the work ethic that we've got. We've always worked hard and, you know, he has all his values in terms of performance which are the same as ours. It's all about old school, old fashioned entertainment. So when we kind of considered who we were going to get to be the fourth member, to be honest, his was the first and only name we thought about because, you know, it's a match made in heaven.

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Gok Wan clubbing here. I've DJ'd here. I know the crowds. And they are brilliant, brilliant people, they are just out enjoying themselves. And they're not shy. It's not a shy nation at all. Carl Marsh You do see a difference between different cities, don't you? Gok Wan Yeah, and you wouldn't find it out, a person out there arguing the fact that Cardiff has got precisely the same social mentality as someone from somewhere like Cirencester, you just wouldn't, you know, it is a geographical thing. It's the same as the Scousers and the Mancs, and the Geordies, you know, everybody's got their own identity, and I think that we should embrace that. We shouldn't ever try and de-regionalise people because I think that's dangerous, because you want to have flavour in our tapestry that's in our country. Carl Marsh What do you want the audience to take from watching Cinderella when it's showing in Cardiff? Gok Wan I want them to take (away with them) a massive sense of joy, a tremendous sense of happiness. I want them to feel they're a part of the show and to celebrate the show, and to enjoy themselves and escape for a couple of hours away from whatever they've got going on in their world. To just come and enjoy a very well put together, very well polished production that is purely about being told a story, that's all it is.

Gok Wan is the maestro of makeovers, and he is to play the 'Fairy Gokmother' in Cinderella in the New Theatre's Christmas Pantomime this year. And yes, you did read it correctly, the Fairy Gokmother!

Carl Marsh Is there any part in Cinderella you would love to play if you weren't playing the Fairy Gokmother, or even any other pantomime?

Carl Marsh Are you prepared for the fun-loving craziness of the Welsh crowd as you will be living here for about eight weeks over Christmas?

Gok Wan No, not in Cinderella. That's the only part that I'd ever want to play. I mean, there are other pantomimes where I think that I'd like to give it a go. Well, I've always thought I'd quite like to play one of the straight-up characters. So my character (in Cinderella) isn't a straight-up character, my character is that I play myself, basically in a role, Gok is Gok. It would be quite interesting to do, say, for instance, Robinson Crusoe and to play, the captain or something like that, to see what it would be like. I don't think I'd be any good at all whatsoever. But it would be interesting to see what it'd be like not to have to rely on the audience knowing who I am already, and doing a slightly more straight-up acting role. And I don't think it's ever going to happen. But it would be interesting.

Gok Wan Yeah, I love Welsh people because they wear their hearts on the sleeve. They are all about fun. They're very vocal and an incredible audience. You know, the kind of a dream audience really, especially for something like pantomime because you want them to be involved with the show. And so what you can't do is I can't come here and say, right, I want you to be rowdy and loud and raucous and involved in the theatre. And when I leave the theatre, I want you to be quiet; you don't get that. That would be incorrect of me to expect that. So yeah, I'm looking forward to it, and I know the people here as I have been to Cardiff so many times now. I've done stage shows here. I've been out

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CT Feature Entertainment Reviews

Restaurant/Bar/Club (I am unsure!)

Restaurant

The Ivy Cardiff - 69/70 St David’s, Cardiff City Centre The Ivy was a busy event, a few hundred people at least, and on offer were unlimited drinks, loud music and canapés of a variety only one would expect from The Ivy in London. I usually know there will be tables (I hope!), but this was a party type event. As I mentioned already, this was a busy event, too busy, and it was as if the whole of Cardiff were invited, it was just too much. I know they wanted to show off the internal setting, but it was more of a bar opening. Perhaps I read the invite wrong, but a restaurant is a restaurant, I didn’t leave thinking I had been in one! All that being said, I still would like to be invited to try out the fine dining option, as for the Cardiff Times readers, they will want to know what the restaurant can offer, and if I can recommend. (Stars - To be confirmed)

Juniper Place - 5a High Street, Cardiff City Centre Only just opened, I was invited to the VIP day event which was a precursor to the evening event, which was a more informal affair. The food was cooked to perfection. At present, the restaurant only has about 12 to 15 tables, but will be expanding to the back of the building in February where it will accommodate over 120 covers. The two head chefs cook all the food in-house, and what my guest and I ate were the following: Sweet Potato and Ginger Velouté, and Confit Duck Rillette to start - delightful. For main we had Roast Chicken Supreme with Coq au Vin Sauce, and the Chargrilled Bavette Steak au Poivre, for my guest. Without going all culinary here, I have to mention the Bavette Steak, my guest used to own a restaurant and is a chef, so he chose the steak because it is the hardest piece of steak to get right when cooking it. Too much, and its like cardboard, too little, and well, you may as well leave it in the fridge. The margin of error is minute. He said it was cooked perfectly. So that sums up this place, perfect food, perfect service, perfect restaurant.

Film/TV

Little Monsters - Sky Cinema The film was shown in the cinema and on the Sky TV Cinema channel at the same time. A wild school day out to an Australian theme park that goes wrong. Bring in a lot of slow-moving zombies, thanks to a secret US military testing base next door. This is a comedyromantic-zombie fest. At times violent, at times silly, a lot of the time very funny and a few times you’ll be treated to a few Taylor Swift songs sang by the cast. This is an adults film, as the language is quite strong, but I loved it. You will find this in the Sky Movies section of your Sky TV package. (Four Stars) I also need to mention the gin! Juniper Place is also home to many smaller distilleries. What this means is that anyone eating here can engage first-hand in making their own gins while still enjoying the distilling process. I am yet to try the distilling, but no doubt will be back with my family, very soon!

Until next month and make sure you have a Merry Christmas, Carl Marsh Twitter - @InTheWordsOf_ Facebook - @InTheWordsOf

(Five Stars)

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Thursday, 28 November 2019 16:10 Magenta Yellow Black Cyan


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TLC Fostering - December 2019 page 1

TEXT ‘TLC’ TO 66777 Tuesday, 26 November 2019 22:27 Magenta Yellow Black Cyan


“And Another Thing…….”

By Vince Nolan

pensioner or prisoner? My fellow Wassailers, as you will know, the above title words do not mean the same thing despite having almost identical letters. However, one can quickly turn into the other at this time of year. Let’s all try to do something positive for an older citizen particularly one who does not appear to have family around them. The smallest act of kindness will go a long way and won’t cost you much. (This does not apply to the Sainted Mother-in-Law of course).

account. Nice. Anyway, all plumbed in and then the inevitable leak through the smoke detector in our lounge ceiling and all over our new wooden floor. Laugh, I nearly started.

She Who Must be Obeyed had fallen out of love with our bathrooms and so subtly suggested they be replaced. Don’t start me on DIY. As far as I am concerned the acronym stands for Don’t Involve Yourself. I get a bloke round, part with a shed load of cash and then do it myself. I have been to B&Q (other stores are available) so many times in recent weeks that I have been invited to their staff Christmas Party.

The Ghost of Christmas Past and I occasionally have a pre-prandial snifter in the above local, The Kleptomaniac’s Arms. Aside from food and drink you can order whatever you want from the local high street and the “Borrowers” amongst the clientele go and steal it to order for you at January sale prices. Whilst illegal and something we would never take advantage of, nor condone, it does help to reduce the carbon footprint since it limits the numbers of trips to the shops by the locals and cuts down on unnecessary packaging and parking.

So we went to the local pub and I stood at the bar next to two Eastern Europeans who were struggling with English. They asked for wine so the barman said, “red, white?” They ordered redwhite not having noticed the comma, one assumes.

I bought two expensive showers, the wrong ones, so took them back. Later the same day, I was advised that we needed to change the wiring and update the plumbing so I went back to the shop and bought the same showers again. Same lady served me and had unsurprisingly, a very puzzled look on her face. The refund given on the returned goods took 5 days to clear the bank whilst my repurchase of the showers instantly exited my

Anyway, I digress. Whilst in the bar we either try to complete a crossword or play dominoes. We are so rock and roll. But do not judge us yet friends for there are humorous twists to both forms of entertainment. If we are bored we select a theme for the crossword – say football, and ignoring the clues, complete it with football related words. They have to be proper words, properly spelt. Not as easy as you might think but good fun. If you really want to impress the locals, buy The Times newspaper, make a fuss of opening it at the crossword page and fill in all the clues with anything you like. Rude or offensive words are good as you will surprise yourselves at how many you know. Result, you will astound the onlookers with your encyclopaedic knowledge and speed of completion. Husband doing crossword with his wife: “Husband: Emphatic no, five letters. Wife: Never H: Pistol, 3 letters. W: Gun

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CT Feature

give a first-hand description of it. The things some people will do to see their name in print!

H: Disgust, 3 letters. W: Ugh H: Charity, 4 letters. W: Give

Same paper reporting on a “calamitous wedding” when the DJ called on Mr and Mrs Moss for the first dance instead of Mr and Mrs Ross. You have to admit it is a bit of a headline grabber. The paper then went on to call the unhappy couple Mr and Mrs Moss 5 times, instead of Ross. Moss, Ross, don’t give a::::::.damn.

H: Female sheep, 3 letters. W: Ewe H: Pixar movie, 2 letters. W: Up Husband – “I didn’t know you liked Rick Astley.” Second pub game, we have christened “honest dominoes.” In a nutshell your tiles face your fellow player and theirs face you. You do not know what your hand is throughout. You then honestly suggest which they should play for best. If your partner wins, you will have strengthened the circle of trust between you. It is of course easy to make them lose but that is a matter for your conscience at this time of goodwill to all men and women (except MP’s). Breaking news: The local paper reported that a no deal Brexit could result in a shortage of toilet paper. On the same page they ran an article about the shortage of Customs Border Staff to handle the increased paperwork Brexit will bring. So there will be both an increase and shortage of paper. Sounds about right.

Tis the season of overindulgence and so turning to food matters, my Brother was chopping up onions today and I cried. Onions was a good dog. Food has been a family business interest for many years. Anyone who wanted to sell fish locally had to get permission from my Granddad. He was known as the cod father. And did you hear about the pessimist who hated German sausage? He always feared the Wurst. Unfortunately the same guy drowned in a bowl of muesli. He was pulled in by a strong currant. And what about the pilot who decided to cook whilst flying? It was a recipe for disaster. So, have you ever tried to eat a clock? It's very time consuming. Finally, I have just finished reading former Dr Who, Chris Ecclestone’s autobiography. A brave work focussing in part on his mental wellbeing. Speaking of his working class upbringing he says: “Having a little never meant having nothing.” Struck a chord with me, particularly at this time of year.

Staying with the same newspaper, I read with great interest about a recent car crash: “Eyewitness” John Smith said he didn’t see the crash and that by the time he drove past it the police were already there. Call me old fashioned but I was always under the impression that an eyewitness was a person who was present at an event and could

Merry Christmas

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Wednesday, 27 November 2019 10:44 Magenta Yellow Black Cyan


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Cardiff Times • www.cardiff-times.co.uk

DECEMBER 2019 - PART 2 page 52

Wednesday, 27 November 2019 10:45 Magenta Yellow Black Cyan


LANDSCAPES

Contact us today to arrange for a free, no obligation site survey



 

    

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DECEMBER 2019 - PART 2 page 53

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puzzle mania! Crossword 1 8

9

18

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4

6

5

14

15 20

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25

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12

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31

30

7

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10 13

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55 59

62 64

47

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58 61

41

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48 50

40

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60 63

65

Across 2. Large African antelope (3), 5. Lyricist,  Gershwin (3), 8. Showing malice (5), 10. Tempo (5), 11. Frequency selector (5), 13. Golf peg (3), 15. Roman goddess of plenty (3), 17. Fluff (4), 19. Roll along (7), 22. French priest (4), 23. Painting on a wall (5), 25. Small welsh dog (5), 28. Colony of primates (5), 30. Utilise (7), 32. Thin bakery item (7), 35. Bow down (5), 36. Explosive thrown by hand (7), 39. Beg earnestly (7), 42. Stab, pierce (5), 43. Bristles (5), 46. Beneath (5), 50. Call of a lion (4), 52. Study of the body (7), 56. Heroic story (4), 58. Vague amount (3), 59. Mimic (3), 61. Group of church singers (5), 62. On a par (5), 63. Area with certain weather patterns (5), 64. Sound of disapproval (3), 65. Easter gift (3). Down 1. Safety (6), 2. Acquire (3), 3. Operator (4), 4. Gas for sign lights (4), 5. Object of worship (4), 6. Army section (1,1,1), 7. Major road (6), 9. Hostelry (3), 12. Superior person (3), 14. And so on (abbrev) (3), 16. Domestic animal (3), 18. American author, Mark... (5), 20. World organisation (1,1,1), 21. Four-legged pet (3), 22. Savoury jelly (5), 24. Uncle Sam (1,1,1), 25. Small boxes for valuables (7), 26. Acknowledgement (7), 27. Worship (7), 29.  Mayall, comedian (3), 30. Pig (3), 31. Historical period (3), 33. Gentle knock (3), 34. Female sheep (3), 37. Decompose (3), 38. More pleasant (5), 40. Sudden forward thrust (5), 41. Grain (3), 42. Evergreen tree (6), 44. Former Spanish Queen (3), 45. In time past (3), 47. Spacecraft (6), 48. Prohibition (3), 49. Sudden pain (3), 51. Sprinter,  Boldon (3), 53. Russian no (4), 54. Shallow basket (4), 55. Masculine (4), 57. Greek54 letter (3), 58.  Garfunkel, musician (3), 60. Heart monitor (1,1,1)

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WORD WHEEL

C L

E C

O

I

E.g. COD

R

O D

Including the middle letter, how many words of 3 letters or more can you make? 20 = Good 25 = Excellent 30 = Outstanding

Sudoku Easy

1

5

Hard

8

3

7

6

9

1

3

6

5

7

3

1

3

5

2

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4 6

2 9

2

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2

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3 3

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1 7

4 9

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1

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1

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fashion done your own way By Molly Dutton

especially when I’m prone to changing my mind consistently. Sadly (or fortunately depending on how sensible you are) I now favour more stylish yet less practical fashion choices that tie in very closely with my trusty umbrella.

Winter is finally here and as you can probably see, the temperature has dropped considerably since we entered the month of November. This means one thing and one thing only; it’s time to bring out the coats. This fills me with so much excitement (yes, I’m a coat nerd) that I just had to run out and buy two more for safe keeping, purely in case the hundred I already have are not “suitable” for the weather conditions. Buying coats has become a bit of a hobby, and since I never really found my sport at school, I think I’m going to become an athlete in “coat buying” because that’s a very legitimate career (I’ve already started training!)

The world of magazines has opened by eyes to the power of accessorising with clothing; a powerful concept when done simply. A jacket can be a more effective accessory than a bracelet, complimenting the look and being as simple or decadent as you desire. I choose to treat my jacket as a focal point for the outfit, drawing attention away from the basic black, white and neutral tones in my clothes underneath. My recent purchase, that was completely a result of peer pressure from my mum, is a beautiful Vera Moda long faux fur coat, the warmest thing I have

On a more serious note, coats have developed to become something so much more than simply practical fashion items, giving the buyer the opportunity to purchase a range of colours and styles for every occasion, or every day if you’re like myself. Coats are not particularly presented on runways as much as their fellow items and can sometimes be seen as being bulky and unnecessary but with some guidance it is very much possible to find one that compliments your style and personality perfectly, and keeps you nice and warm. When I was younger (how all horror fashion tales begin) I only ever had one or two coats and only had then for reasons of practicality; black raincoats and macs were rather common throughout primary school. This dull choice continued right up until the iconic come back of the parka. This power move was successful among both the older and younger generation because of its ability to be suitable in all situations; there were a range of waterproof ones, warm ones, fluffy ones and even pink ones (tactical move). For this reason, parkas stayed central in the high street stores for longer than other styles that were trying to compete, with young people and their families replenishing their collections quickly after they got old or dirty. I recall buying them all the way up until I reached “high school” which is a huge span of success,

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CT Feature

is, I’m more than convinced she could have done that herself and bought an equally fabulous item.

ever purchased for my collection and the only designer item in my winter wardrobe. I happened to come across it in a shop in The Lake District on a walk and had to return after spending a whole day weighing up the positives of such a beautiful, and expensive, masterpiece. In the end I was so worried that someone else might buy it I dragged the parents back into the little shop and wandered home feeling very happy with myself. I like to think of faux fur coats as a glimpse into a more luxurious life of brunch and garden parties and royalty; if the Queen were ever to invite me to one of her classified events, I would be sure to wear this fluffy coat.

Considering the lack of colour in my winter clothes, I aimed to venture slightly into a world with a bit more colour and found a pale blue beauty from Newlook that had the class and grace of a Parisian fashion student. What I would personally advise, after this purchase, is that you should always look for well made tailoring in a smart coat, one that sits comfortably and with enough looseness, so it is the ideal middle ground between tight fitting and baggy. Newlook have a fabulous range of professional looking coats in colours ranging from burgundy and black all the way to camel and nude and of course pale blue. They are well made and feature a button that positions the coat in just the right way when you wear it to maintain its elegant shape.

Interestingly, a few weeks after I bought my first coat of the season, I fell back into the same coat desiring situation (it was quite déjà vu actually). My lovely nan wanted to buy me a nice coat for my birthday and suggested that I order it to ensure it’s the right one; being the style icon she

This article has been quite focussed on me so I would like to suggest a few ways that you can get involved in the coat brigade and start your own collection ready for the winter months (because there is nothing worse than a dull January). Firstly, scout around the high street stores like Newlook, Topshop and Primark to see if they have any styles that you are more drawn too, they each produce slightly different coats with varying tailored shapes which you might find more interesting than others; and more comfortable which is key! I always look for the price ranges as well, usually because often, good quality coats are the more expensive ones. That being said, if you are only interested in buying a coat to then replace it in a few years time, then it would be more cost effective to buy a cheaper coat first time round. My advice with anything fashion related is always to shop around and keep your eye out for the best choice. I’m far too excited thinking about all the lovely coats you will be buying! (Lets all pray I don’t find another one).

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Article - Molly Dutton - December ... page 2

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DECEMBER 2019 - PART 2 page 63

Wednesday, 27 November 2019 10:50 Magenta Yellow Black Cyan


i’m dreaming of a green christmas By Sue Good

Apparently, the best way to test if gift wrap is recyclable is the scrunch test: If it scrunches into a ball and stays scrunched, it can probably be recycled, plus it’s much cheaper than the glossy stuff. 2. Buy an eco-friendly Christmas tree. Pot-grown trees are the best, as they can be planted back into your garden after the festivities are over. The cut alternatives are less environmentally friendly, but if you buy from local growers and use the local council’s recycling scheme, then the carbon footprint of that tree will be much lower. Artificial trees are okay too, as long as you use them year after year. 3. Send sustainable Christmas cards. Simply opt for sustainably sourced or recycled paper cards and avoid ones with glitter and foil. Also, choose cards that are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) certified. This ensures the paper used has been sustainably and ethically produced. And make sure you recycle them properly in green bags after or re-use them as gift tags for next year.

10 tips for an eco-friendly Christmas As much as I love Christmas, when it comes to being environmentally friendly, our festivities don’t always make sustainable sense. From Christmas dinner leftovers; to piles of wrapping paper and cards; to the plastic packaging on gifts Christmas can be a wasteful time of year. With experts linking our festive mass consumption to long term environmental damage and statistics revealing that households produce 30% more waste at Christmas, it’s time to cut out the excess. Happily, this is not difficult. Here are my 10 tips on making your Christmas eco-friendly - without losing any of the magic.

Decorations and wrapping 1. Ditch the unrecyclable paper and bows anything with foil or glitter is also a no-no. I know they’re pretty but they’re also a nightmare for recycling plants. In fact, simply go for the cheaper paper or fashionable brown parcel wrap.

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4. Replace single use crackers with reusable or recycled ones. Lakeland, Not on the High Street and RSPB all offer alternatives to the wasteful single use crackers that litter (literally!) our dining tables. I especially like the RSPB ones which are made from recycled paper and teach you origami!

Oh.. and avoid battery gifts if you can. Batteries contain heavy metals and toxic chemicals that can harm the environment if not recycled properly.

Sustainable food

Gifts 5. Be creative and make some gifts. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but what could be nicer than a little hamper of homemade jam, shortbread and Christmas cake for your Nan. Knit a scarf; bake biscuits; make a table decoration or get the kids to give it a go. It’s just a bit of time and creativity and it will mean much more than shop bought chocs. 6. Buy gift experiences. From dining out to cookery courses to zip wiring – these can cater for all tastes and ages, plus they are a great way to make magic memories. Also, donations to charities or animal welfare organisations can be a thoughtful gift. These acts of kindness require no paper or packaging and deliver the true meaning of Christmas giving. 7. Buy local. From local jewellery makers to artists to gin producers – we can find an array of talented local businesses who need our support to keep going. Find them at the Christmas markets in town, local high streets and ‘pop up’ Christmas shops and fayres. 8. Buy sustainable gifts. When it comes to kid’s toys at Christmas, plastic is everywhere. Even if the toy is not made of plastic it’s wrapped in a tonne of it. But if you look hard enough gorgeous sustainable gifts can be found. For a range of gift ideas, try Ethicalsuperstore.com, greentulip.co.uk and traidcraftshop.co.uk. Plus, lovely toys for kids can be found at babipur.co.uk and woodentoyshop.co.uk.

9. Buy local and organic. If you can’t ditch the meat and go plant based, then simply minimise your carbon footprint and support local organic produce. Local farm shops may be pricier, but you will be helping the local economy and can do your vegetable shop at the same time with plastic free produce available for your pickings. 10. And perhaps, this year, to make a change, just don’t buy so much. To avoid too much wastage, simply plan your meals carefully and be realistic. If you do have food left over then pop it in the freezer or embrace post-festive food: bubble and squeak, frittata, soup, turkey sarnies etc@ . You could also use apps like OLIO or contact your local homeless shelter to see if your food waste can be used elsewhere. So, we all know that Christmas is the season to be jolly, perhaps it’s time we also realised it’s the season to be sustainable too. Happy Christmas!

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Wednesday, 27 November 2019 10:51 Magenta Yellow Black Cyan


it’s beginning to look like christmas By Michael James

Yes, it's beginning to look like Christmas, well almost. We are on the run up to the festive season. As I write this article it's only Halloween and with all that goes with it these days. Unlike in my childhood, back in the day, when it was better known as ducking (or bobbing) apple night. Those simple pleasures have now given way to the full blast of dark humour(?) coming from across the 'pond'. When we were recently in America, the blast was already a hurricane of pumpkins, carved with ghastly faces, and witches, wizards and skeleton clothing and all manner of flying broomsticks and enough weapons to clear the planet of ghosts and ghouls. Have you or did you, stock up on your supply of sweets and goodies to ward off the children, knocking on your door and demanding, innocently, “trick or treat?”. When I asked, “What tricks will you play on me if I don't give you any treats?”, they had no answer. I guess that's encouraging. No malice in their minds. It's just been announced that we will have the joy (?) of a General Election to look forward to and yet another extension on a decision on the 'will we or won't we?' Brexit. Perhaps Guy Fawkes had the right idea after all! Which nicely leads me on to Bonfire Night when hundreds of effigies of poor old Guy will be burned on huge bonfires. I really loved that as a child and never gave a thought to the

Michael James - December 2019 page 1

political symbolism behind it, nor concerned myself with the feelings of the many people who were terrified by fireworks, nor the animals who could not cope with the loud explosions. My belated apologies to them. While I now realise that Bonfire Night and all that it brings can be very disturbing to some, I am equally against the nanny state of some companies wishing to stop the sale of fireworks. Of course they have the right not to sell fireworks but people should be allowed to make their own decision on the matter. Small moan over. Let me get back to where I started. Yes, already it's beginning to look like Christmas. At the time of writing, it's still Autumn. The clocks have been turned back bringing us dark early evenings, lots of cold, dry days and even colder nights which are slowly being warmed and illuminated by the glow of Christmas lights in many houses. It's the end of October and I haven't yet spotted a decorated Christmas tree but I fully expect to see one soon. We don't start putting up the trimmings in our house until December. Isn't 'trimmings' a lovely expression? It seems to have been lost in this modern world, it's all decorations now, except of course, to be used, as in, 'all the trimmings with our Christmas meal'. If it's good enough for the turkey, then it's good enough for me.

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Are you looking forward to having what many now say 'A Happy Holiday'? Have you forgotten that it's time to celebrate the birth of Jesus? That shouldn't be hard to do as the clue is in the very name, Christmas. As a Christian, I should really be celebrating Halloween as 'All Hallows Eve', but for many that seems to have passed into the depths of time. Please don't let Christmas go the same way. It certainty won't for me. Unlike my negative thoughts on early lights and decorations, my run up to Christmas begins in October with the start of choir practices for 'The Promise of Christmas', in St. David's Hall on Saturday 7th December at 3.00pm. It's a great time of Carols and Christmas songs, with three choirs including the brilliant Cambrats, a 40 strong group of youngsters aged between 7 and 14 years who, year after year, completely steal the show. It's a lovely way to get the message of Christmas. Tickets are on sale now at the St. David's Hall Box Office (029 2087 8444). Yes it's a busy and happy time during Autumn, through Christmas and into the New Year, but not for everyone. There are many old or lonely people who will not have a happy time and who could do with someone remembering them at this time. And what about all those who are homeless or disadvantaged, who may be starving and living on the streets of our City in this wet and bitterly cold weather. Many good folk out there go out of their way to help in any way they can to bring love and good cheer to those who think that they are forgotten.

shop where those in need can buy, 'once new' clothes, shoes, children's clothing and toys as well as small items of household goods at affordable prices. It is also a 'drop-in centre, open on Monday to Thursday mornings, which offers advice and help, provides hot meals, teaches English as a second language, and where you can have a friendly chat with a caring person if needed. This Christian organisation receives no monetary help from official sources and like those it seeks to help, it lives from day to day on donations from well wishers. It's vision is to be able to raise enough funds to purchase the property it currently rents to enable it to have a secure future and so continue to help all those in our community who need it, and who need to know that they too are loved and not forgotten. If you need to know more or wish to help in any way, please contact, 'Rainbow of Hope' on 029 2049 4317. Thank you. As you read this, it will be December and yes, in the words of the song, it's now 'Beginning to look a LOT like Christmas'. May I take this opportunity to wish you and all those you love a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and a Healthy and Peaceful 2020. God Bless you all.

Please don't let that happen to your neighbours or others you know who might be in that position. As well as good neighbours, there are many Churches, Chapels, the Salvation Army and other organisations like the Huggard Centre who are prepared to help. One such organisation is the 'Rainbow of Hope', a local Charity which works with the homeless and disadvantaged, providing, clothing and hot drinks and food every night of the year in our City Centre. As well as caring for those sleeping rough and those in need like refugees, asylum seekers and single parent families, the 'Rainbow of Hope', working from rented accommodation in Broadway, with unpaid staff, is a Charity which provides a

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Calling All Clark Griswolds! Is Britain’s Best Christmas Lights Show In Your Front Garden? With new research revealing the explosion in popularity of staging spectacular outdoor Christmas lights displays – and the cost of doing so – price comparison website Moneyexpert.com is searching for the UK’s answer to Clark Griswold, the iconic Christmas lights enthusiast from the classic movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

this year, Brits expect to spend £222M on lighting their homes this Christmas, and that’s a staggering £11 million in Wales alone. Those planning on putting on a display outside their home expect to see their energy bills spike by a third (33%) during December. To inspire nominations, MoneyExpert has teamed up with Keith Woodward from Yateley, Surrey, who’s been putting on an awe-inspiring lights show outside his home for 21 years, raising £30,000 for charity in the process, as well as drawing in the crowds. You can see Keith’s story, and nominate your own home, or a neighbour’s, to win a £500 prize, by visiting https://moneyexpert.com/christmaslights

The competition is being run by price comparison website Moneyexpert.com, in response to new research that reveals that householders’ outdoor light shows are now an essential festive must-do and must-see. A fifth (17%) of Brits now decorate their gardens and driveways with big bold Christmas lights, and a quarter (25%) say they tour their neighbourhood to take in these displays. In contrast, in Wales, less than one in 10 (7%) visit Santa’s Grotto or see a pantomime (9%).

Commenting on the competition, Jason Smith, CEO of MoneyExpert.com, said: “There’s a whole Santa sack-load of households across the country that put on these impressive outdoor displays and help bring the spirit of Christmas to their local communities. But it’s a hugely expensive act of generosity that adds to an already costly time of the year. We look forward to helping one lucky winner of our Christmas Lights competition with a cash prize towards their electricity costs, but for the general public switching energy providers and finding a better deal is the best way to take the sting out of December’s bills.”

But while these spectacular lights displays have an incredible impact on the local community, they also hit wallets hard too. The research shows that

Save money on your energy bills. Visit https:// www.moneyexpert.com/gas-electricity/

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Friday, 29 November 2019 12:19 Magenta Yellow Black Cyan


‘the glory, the glory of the lord’ By Sara John hours. No mobile phones or any other means of allaying parents’ fears in those days.

Whenever I hear any of Handel’s much loved ‘Messiah’, I am happily transported back in time. Not everyone is as much in love with it though, as my father, who taught classical piano, claimed it was just the “same old thing over and over”.

Best of all memories however, whenever I hear any of Handel’s Messiah, was when I recall working in Chester Cathedral, on a co-production with East German television, with the BBC in the mid 1980’s. The Berlin Wall was then still in place; there was still constant fear of the power of the eastern bloc and the Cold War was still seriously frigid. For the East Germans travel was strictly restricted, there were shortages of many things, many struggled to survive and precious little freedom was enjoyed by those living ‘safely’, or so they were told by the authorities, behind the Iron Curtain.

However, the music has a deep effect on me, reminding me of the lavender scented and highly polished parquet flooring of the Girls Grammar School I attended, in the last century, with the sounds and strains of constant rehearsals for a performance of The Messiah slipping and sliding down the main corridor throughout the school. Miss Harris would be playing the shiny black Bechstein in the large book-lined library. The “gals”, but only the ones with the best voices, all in identical gym-slips with collars and school ties, would be trying their very best to create the right ambience, breathe and/or sing as instructed and to please dear Miss Harris.

Late in the 1970’s, after very long negotiations between government agencies, determined broadcasting professionals and enlightened individuals, it was agreed, between the BBC and East German Television to co-produce a television programme of the service of re-dedication for Dresden Cathedral. Accordingly in 1979 the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra and East German choirs performed Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem in the Cathedral. Diplomacy, patience and determination had overcome the many difficulties and myriad obstacles to create an inspired and truly moving occasion. This event was televised some thirty five years after the devastation of Dresden by Allied bombers.

The long windows of the nearby classrooms looked out across the valley to the mountains above Porth. Distracted by the sound of the choir, we risked looking out of these windows. Was it going to snow? If so would we be sent home early? What is ‘a quadratic equation’? A strident voice interrupted our reverie, “Yes, girl, I am asking YOU, where is Ecuador?” “That is NOT the past historic, as I recall it from ten minutes ago.” “One hundred lines, please, of ‘I must pay attention’ and detention for you, Jennifer, Mary and Janet.”

In view of the success of the event it was decided shortly afterwards that there should be a reciprocal co-production in Wales. This time it would feature a performance of Handel’s Messiah, with the BBC Welsh Symphony conducted by James Lockhart, three British soloists and one from East Germany, with the Leipzig Radio Choir and John Scott at the organ. It would take place in Chester Cathedral in December in 1984.

All those threats and sarcastic remarks aimed at us innocent girls were suffered against the sounds, soaring, wonderful and familiar, words and music of Handel’s Messiah. It would soon be Christmas. Detention was the complete opposite of being sent home early - which never happened anyway. It meant being kept in after school hours writing out ‘advice’ to oneself at the behest of the accusatory teacher. Worse still was the fact that we would not, when sentenced with the dreaded ‘detention’, be able to go home directly on the school bus designated for our various locations as these had already left. When eventually leaving the school premises up to an hour or so after normal time, those who lived further north than Treorchy would have a bus journey that might involve three or four different buses and could take over two

The plan was to record the event over five days, hopefully avoiding any inconvenience to the Cathedral and its many worshippers and visitors. A straightforward Outside Broadcast (O.B.) does not have to be “outside”. This one was entirely inside the Cathedral. Plans for the occasion were prepared well in advance like a military operation. Communications

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engineers visited, assessed, planned, booked, worried, double checked, measured again and started their marathon. Production staff, camera crews, sound staff, riggers, drivers, set designers, scene crew, electricians, lighting engineers, costume and wardrobe crew, makeup artists all had to be selected, rota’d, prepared, ready, researched and packed for the event. Also, security and catering had to be provided. The list goes on.

and warned not to be too surprised at the poverty of the people. Then they all arrived in Chester just before Christmas! The only items that they hoped they could take home for the children were tiny chocolate bars that could be hidden in their luggage and hopefully not discovered and then confiscated by the border guards. The poignancy of these little stories contrasted with the power and the glory of the building. A Cathedral that had stood brave and fearless and for centuries had comforted the poor, the lost, the sick and distressed. The walls and windows heard the wonderful music. The atmosphere was uplifting. The music was masterful, the singing truly heavenly, and sung by voices whose owners back home could be punished for simple acts of Christian worship. The music created a wonderful atmosphere, hopeful and joyous, permeating the Cathedral and affecting everyone present.

There were ninety players in the orchestra. All their instruments, which someone explained to me were ‘more valuable’ than the players, had to be insured, packed and transported. Despite thorough preparation there are always ‘unknowns’ arising on outside broadcasts, not only known or expected unknowns but ‘unknown unknowns’, so there were difficulties for the production team in Chester. One of these was the fact that once the heating was on in the Cathedral, not only could the sound of it interfere with the recording of the music but the heat caused centuries of damp to seep out of the stonework, with the vapour obscuring the pictures and possibly damaging the orchestral instruments.

Some doubts arose when we considered our new friends, our new brothers and sisters and their immediate future. People who we were powerless to help except in very small ways. What were they returning to?

Therefore the heating could not be turned on which meant that it was so cold inside the Cathedral that it affected the performers. The production crews were taking turns to step outside to the near freezing street in order to get some relief and warm up. The East German lady members of the choir shivered but did not complain. But they were delighted when issued with pretty M&S pink beribboned long johns and thermal long sleeved vests (which, of course, they could take home) to wear under their thin long magenta choir dresses. There were tears and hugs at that stage.

On the last evening after dinner in their hotel the choir sang to the staff who had looked after them so well. After being prepared for the poverty of Britain they had been overwhelmed by the reception received in Chester at Christmas. The joy of the Oratorio was continued and sustained by stunning unaccompanied singing as the Choir’s way of saying thank you and farewell to the hotel staff and their hosts, amid torrents of tears. No one person there could ever have imagined that only five years later the Berlin Wall would be demolished (in 1989) and east German boundaries opened. The drama of that moment amidst an outpouring of great joy and euphoria as two families of Germans, East and West, were reunited.

Visitors to the Cathedral that week were in for a real and unexpected treat. It was clear to everyone, including the non-musical people, that as soon as rehearsals began, and as soon as the first note was sung, that although Wales is The Land of Song, this choir was world class; crisp and sharp with amazing discipline.

That dramatic event was revisited this year on the thirtieth anniversary, reminding us that when, on that first day when the East Germans crossed into the West, they collected vouchers from the West Berlin authorities for free coffee and cake. Then they heard, for the first time for many of them, church bells being rung and they fell to their knees in the street to pray. To pray in Freedom.

I spoke with one elderly lady visitor from East Germany who explained that at the age of sixty she had been allowed to settle in the West as she had been told that “older people would not make any trouble”. Previously she had sung with the choir, and she had flown from West Berlin to Manchester, then by bus to Chester to catch up with old friends in the choir. She explained that the only chorus members allowed on this visit were those who had dependents back home. They had been told that the British economy was in a very bad way

In my mind the concert of the Messiah in Chester Cathedral and the fall of the Berlin Wall some five years later are intrinsically connected. Hallelujah!

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