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Issue No. 73 Complimentary

Worcestershire Edition

Survive by Sue Cressman

A song to inspire Courage and Hope

Protect your hands

this winter Getting to know

the King and I

s a m t s i r Ch Enjoy

in the Jewellery Quarter Fabulous Free Event

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Stratford-upon-Avon is home to many unique beauties, and one of those is the Welcombe Hotel.

Sue Cressman winning an award for the funds she has raised for equipment at the hospital.


Win a quad trekking or hovercrafting session for two at Adventure Sports in Warwick.

The Fall Issue Hello and welcome to your latest edition of Cornfield M gazine. November is here! And with it, we bring you a round up of the very best of this season’s upcoming events, trends, expert hair and beauty tips, sports fixtures and more. This month we take the Christmas preparations seriously and get into full festive mode! We spoke to Sue Cressman from the amazing Nailcote Hall, about her incredible journey and the release of her charity single ‘Survive’. Available to download now. We have an article from the Midland Hand Clinic on how changes in barometric pressure can cause joint pain and we have some advice to help protect your hands this winter. We also had the chance to stay at the incredible Welcombe Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon. Read about this amazing place inside. All of the above plus more can be found in this month’s issue.

Contact Us

Happy reading,

From The Cornfield Team x

Tel: 0121 796 6800 Email: Web:

Front Cover photography: Sam Henderson - @shendergram

gazine g gazine

Whilst every care has been taken to ensure that the data in this magazine is accurate, the Cornfield M gazine cannot be held responsible for any errors, omissions or endorse companies, products or services appearing in this magazine. The Cornfield M gazine cannot be held responsible for any breach of copyright arising from any material supplied. Published monthly by Cornfield Publishing Ltd No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission from the publisher.

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Hampton Clinic A doctor led medi-spa, in the luxurious setting of Hampton Manor, offering advanced aesthetics and beauty treatments Hampton Clinic is a hidden gem of aesthetics, nestled in the 45 acre woodland estate of Hampton Manor, a boutique hotel which boasts its own Michelin starred restaurant. The Clinic was awarded “Commended” at December’s Aesthetics Awards in the category of Best Clinic in The Midlands and Wales.

beauty treatments and holistic care. In support of healthy lifestyles, the team are proud to stock the high quality ZENii supplements.

The team comprises of Dr Lorraine Hill, Aesthetic Doctor and Medical Director, Dr Sally Bell a GP and lifestyle medicine specialist, Sarah Smith a functional medicine therapist. Melpo Economou offers counselling and life coaching, and Matt Chinn is our new podiatrist. There is a clinic manager, CoolSculpting nurse, one aesthetician and two Beauty therapists. With such a comprehensive team we are able to not only offer rejuvenation with injectables and fat freezing but also relaxing

Hampton Manor in partnership with Hampton Clinic make for an alluring destination for clients wanting pampering, rejuvenation and a luxurious stay. Clients relax during their treatments and can expect to see thriving wildlife in the woods. Clients comment on the tranquil setting and how they look forward to returning. We are proud of our high standards of safety and hygiene whilst delivering a cosy, rustic, home from home appeal.

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Monthly Hair Care Column

With Celebrity Hair Stylist

Jay Birmingham Winter Hair Care Hi everyone, I cannot believe we are talking about winter hair care already! Where has the year gone. I love this time of year, cosy nights with hot chocolate and mulled wine are my favourite. I also love the amazing tv shows that we have to look forward to each winter time and one of my all-time favourite shows is of course Dancing on Ice. Last year my gorgeous client Gemma Collins was part of it and this year my stunning client Maura Higgins will be on our screens. I recently worked with Maura on her hair for the Dancing on Ice campaign and can’t wait to see her smash it. Even though I love the chance to wear a chunky knit and go to the Christmas market, Winter can be so harsh on our bodies in general, from the biting cold affecting our skin to the effects of the heating indoors causing our hair to become dry and brittle. This is such an important time of year to invest in ‘you’ and ensure that you are dedicating some me time each week and even each day if possible. When the weather is so awful outside, we do find that we spend more time indoors which should allow you to set aside some time for this. Remember ‘me time’ can include setting aside ten minutes to have a nice cup of tea and biscuit. One of my favourite ways to take care of hair throughout winter is using a luxurious mask once per week. You can have a few different masks which target specific concerns and alternate these too in order to ensure a comprehensive hair care plan. One of my favourite masks is JOICO K-Pak Color Therapy Lusterlock Treatment Mask. Of course, this one is designed with colour treated hair in mind but it restores hair shine and strength which is perfect for the winter months. It is also important that you visit the salon regularly too for your trims throughout winter. This will keep split ends at bay and ensure that your hair looks as fresh and healthy as possible throughout the festive season. For an extra hydration hit, ask your stylist about intense conditioning treatments available in the salon. Love, Jay x

Jay Birmingham Hair Highfield ellness & Beauty, 23A Highfield Rd Birmingham B15 3DP @JayBirminghamHair

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Henley Lash House Eyelash Extension Specialists Anna Cornfield owner of Henley Lash House, has been in the beauty industry for 15 years and has perfected her lash treatment technique over the last five years. Specialising in Russian Volume eyelash extensions, Anna is an expert technician in semi-permanent lashes, achieving fantastic results for all clients. What are Russian Volume lashes? Designed to give the ‘wow-factor’, Russian Volume lashes are applied to match the natural curvature of the eyelid. Their ultra-fine lightweight design allows technicians to apply multiple synthetic extensions to each natural lash, creating more volume than classic lashes and often lasting longer. How are they applied? Anna carefully applies individual extension fibres to a single natural eyelash, building up both volume and length in the process. Depending upon her clients’ desired outcome, Anna can apply two to eight extensions on a single natural lash. The Russian Volume lashes are applied in a ‘fan-like’ shape, giving an eyecatching, impactful look. Are Russian Volume lashes safe? It’s important to book a specialist technician for all eyelash extensions. Eyelash extensions can only damage your natural lashes if applied incorrectly. Untrained, amateur technicians may not have the skills and equipment to correctly isolate individual natural lashes and safely apply extensions. When it comes to your beauty and health, always go professional. Anna guarantees all clients are given aftercare advice and receive patch tests before any appointments take place.

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£50 off teeth whitening

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07815 460786 01827 892952

Protect your hands

this winter

With the winter months ahead of us, it’s important that we take extra care of ourselves. The cold weather can cause additional health concerns for our hands. We know that changes in barometric pressure can cause joint pain and we have pulled together some advice to help you protect yourself this winter. Wrap up warm

The damp and the cold can make it harder to manage arthritis symptoms which can be painful. Wrap up warm when going outside and use layers as they can help to trap body heat to keep you warm and of course pay particular attention to your fingers to protect your hands. Symptoms of Raynaud’s disease can be more prominent in winter and can see issues with your circulation which can cause fingers turn pale or white then blue when exposed to cold or during stress. Keep gloves on at all times in colder weather and keep your fingers and toes moving to lessen the symptoms. Have you tried hand warmers? Something as easy as a cooked jacket potato in your pocket, wrapped in foil can provide heat for a few hours

Keep moving

We have an instinct during winter to hibernate; however, a lack of physical activity can cause joints to become stiff. Exercise is known to help ease arthritis pain. It increases strength and flexibility and reduces joint pain, decreases stress levels and blood pressure and improves circulation. To manage arthritic conditions during the cooler months, it may help to plan physical activities that are easy to do inside such as: • Walking indoors, such as around shopping centres • Household chores, like vacuuming • Swimming indoors, such as hydrotherapy • Taking an aerobics or yoga class

Beware of those slips and trips

As soon as the frosty mornings appear there is a significant increase to the risk of slips and trips causing fractures and sprains especially to hands, wrists and elbows. Take great care when walking on untreated pathways and ensure you are wearing suitable footwear for the weather to lessen the chance of any falls. Plan your day and route.

Remember the motto ice and snow mean “take it slow!”

How do you know if you’ve broken something?

Immediate pain and sometimes deformity, could imply fracture (break) of bone or dislocation of a joint and you should present directly to hospital for a radiograph (x-ray). Common upper limb injuries are wrist fractures, elbow tip fractures and shoulder head fractures or dislocations. If you have only swelling and pain but you’re able to use hand and wrist, take some simple pain relief, rest and elevate the limb. If pain and functional problems are still present after a week, an x-ray is advisable. It’s difficult to treat a condition without a diagnosis. Our expert team of surgeons and therapists will be able to rapidly make this and advise on treatment accordingly.

• Listening to music and dancing

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07815 460786 01827 892952

June Receives an Early

Christmas Present

“It is amazing how just being able to brush your own hair can change your whole outlook on life,” according to great grandmother June Shakespeare. Eighty-four-year-old June had been gradually losing the use of her fingers over the past few years until it reached the stage where she could hardly use her hands at all. But, following surgery to reattach tendons that had become worn away by wrist arthritis June, who lives in Great Barr, has been able to grab back the many day-to-day skills that most people take for granted. “Opening doors, taking lids off jars, holding a cup or taking money from my purse – even brushing my hair, had become almost impossible. You can’t imagine just how much that impacted on my daily life,” she explained. As the condition continued to deteriorate June met with specialist hand and wrist surgeon Mr Gunaratnam Shyamalan at Spire Hospital. He explained that not only could he help her get movement back to her hands but he could also perform the surgery while she remained completely awake. He said: “Years of arthritis in the bones of her wrist meant that the tendons to her fingers had been severed or ruptured – it is not an uncommon condition in elderly patients. “What I did was use sections of healthy tendons to repair the torn ones while carrying out repairs to the badly damaged ones. I used a technique called WALANT (Wide Awake Local Anaesthesia No Tourniquet) which meant she was able to stay awake throughout the entire operation. “Not only does this seem to put patients at their ease, it also means they don’t have to recover from the effects of a general anaesthetic which speeds up their actual recovery process.” Now, following a series of physiotherapy treatments, June is delighted to have ‘excellent movement’ back in her wrist. She said: “The operation went very well and I was delighted to be able to chat to people in the operating theatre as Mr Shyamalan carried out his work. It really put me at my ease both before and during the actual surgery. “It really is beyond my expectations to be able to do some everyday things that most people take for granted and, as a bit of a bonus, there is hardly a scar to show for the surgery he carried out.” June is delighted with the results of her wrist surgery.

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Midland Hand Clinic lead by Mr G Shyamalan FRCS NHS consultant hand surgeon. All patients welcome whether you have private medical insurance or you are self-paying. Ask us about our self funding prices for minor hand surgery.

Hand Clinic PA: Pam Dziubany Email: Call: 07815 460786 01827 892952

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Natty Buddha A Midlands football coach has launched a free meditation class to help people suffering from stress or anxiety. Nathan Feeley already runs Sheldon-based ‘Nath’s Netters’ - a club aimed at encouraging children into football by offering coaching in a safe environment with qualified A coaches. Following its success, Nathan is now planning a new initiative - a free meditation class aimed at hoping anyone suffering from stress, anxiety or just wants to start meditation. To make the classes self-sustaining, Nathan has designed a range of t-shirts dubbed ‘Natty Buddha’ that are going on sale, with all proceeds going towards any staff, venue or running cost. “The idea came to me as I love graffiti and I also meditate daily so I thought let’s try and make meditation more mainstream. We want to focus on the younger generation - they face huge stress from peer pressure to social media and meditation can really help them deal with everything that’s thrown at them. “To make it work we’ve put together some great t-shirt designs that we want to sell to help fund the classes. The aim is to get the t-shirts as far across the world as we can - at the moment the furthest is Dubai, but I’m aiming for Australia. Fingers crossed this will turn into a self-sustaining idea and we’ll be able to offer more and more of these free classes, which can bring great relief into people’s lives.” There’s no denying that meditation is on its way to going mainstream. Gone are the days where people turned their noses up and wrote it off as a hippy-dippy practice. Now, there are posh meditation studios in NYC and a handful of smartphone apps to help us find our calm anytime, anywhere. Research shows that meditation can help you better handle negative feelings and emotions. Meditation is the practice of thinking deeply or focusing one’s mind for a period of time. While there are many forms of meditation, the ultimate goal is a feeling of relaxation and inner peace, which can improve mental health. Taking a few minutes to meditate every day with the goal of becoming more mindful, or focused on and accepting of the present, is a great way to relieve stress. But it’s even more powerful than you think. Mindfulness meditation helps ease mental health conditions like depression and anxiety—so much so, that some clinicians are trying it as a course of treatment before turning to medication. The classes will be held at True Fitness in Sheldon, on the Coventry Road. Nathan is also urging people to post pictures of themselves on Instagram or Facebook wearing their Natty Buddha t-shirt, tagging #nattybuddha to help spread the word. True Fitness, 2343-2345 Coventry Road, B26 3PN Email: - Mob: 07805 305 129

Nath’s Netters Nath’s Netters offers weekly football sessions for kids in a safe environment with an FA qualified coach. The mission of the weekly club is to provide children with high quality football training using the latest equipment, in order to improve kids’ fitness levels, encourage exercise, and most of all, allow little ones to have fun!

Nathan believes football coaching is a brilliant way to help kids to stay on the right path and build confidence The club teaches kids to work together as a team, stay active, and make lots of friends. Whether your child hopes to train

for a professional club in the future, or just simply wants to have fun playing sport with their mates, Nath’s Netters is the place to be. Sign up for an introductory lesson for your child today for just £3 per session, with no contract required. Nath’s Netters makes football fun for boys and girls - perfect for ages 4+

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Christmas Beauty



G ift G uide

Professional Makeup Artist, Naomi Halliday, shares her favourite products to leave you looking (and feeling) scrumptious this winter. With Christmas around the corner, the shops are already stacked full of gorgeous gift sets and you may find yourself spoilt for choice! To help you out, Naomi Halliday reveals her favourite gift sets for every kind of beauty lover in your life, to help make your Christmas shopping a little easier!

The Makeup Novice

NARS Softcore Mini Blush and Balm Set, £22.00 ( uk), features a mini blush & tinted lip balm. The universally fl ttering shade ‘Orgasm’ is perfect for all skin tones and is a fool proof combo for anyone who is beginning to venture into the world of makeup.

The Makeup Junkie

The Sam & Nic Edit Beauty Box, £28.00 ( is the kit of dreams for all beauty lovers. Professional Makeup Artists Sam and Nic Chapman have put together their ultimate favourites, including products from Estee Lauder, Clinique, MAC, Bobbi Brown, Bumble & Bumble, Smashbox, Glamglow and Real Techniques. 10% of all proceeds will be donated to Breast Cancer Haven & Look Good Feel Better charities, which makes this gift even better! But be quick – this box is limited edition and is sure to sell out quickly!

The Lipstick Lover

Charlotte Tilbury Mini Hot Lips 2 Charms, £25.00 ( includes a trio of magical shades including a soft pink-kissed-with-nude, an elegant warm berry pink and a fl ttering soft wine. Perfect for any lipstick obsessive, these little trinkets are ideal for fuller-looking lips on-the-go!

The Devoted Vegan Spread the ‘Vegan Love’ with the Kat Von D Limited Edition ‘Vegan Love’ Eye Shadow Palette, £34.00 (debenhams. com). Featuring 10 ultrabold vegan shades, such as ‘Compassion’, ‘Empathy’ and ‘Sanctuary’, this palette is a celebration of Kat Von D Beauty’s never-ending love for animals and commitment to creating a kinder, more compassionate world – the perfect gift for any makeup loving vegan!

The Skincare Obsessive

Discover the magic of Australian Pink Clay with the SAND&SKY Aussie Dream Team gift set, £39.90 ( Great for all skin types, this award winning mask and exfoliator set contains a cocktail of ingenious natural ingredients that will leave your skin looking beautiful, with a lit-from-within glow. It also comes with an adorable mitt and applicator brush for miracle masking results.

Words by Naomi Halliday For makeup booking enquiries / 07912 646363 Cornfield Magazine | 1

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Laughter proves

the best medicine

for comedy entrepreneurs by Amanda Chalmers

TWO South Warwickshire entrepreneurs have joined forces after fleeing the r t race to pursue new careers – in stand-up comedy! Anne Docherty from Stratford-upon-Avon and Mark Hinds from Warwick are the creative minds behind Comedy at Work, an innovative new business that brings stand-up to venues across the country in support of local charities. But the journey thus far has not always been a laughing matter for the plucky pair who have both overcome personal setbacks in order to embark on this new chapter in their lives. They met at a six-week comedy course on which Mark enrolled following the collapse of his marriage after more than 20 years. The 47-year-old former stockbroker turned London cabbie moved from the capital a few months ago to establish the new business with Anne, a mum of three. He said: “My wife woke up one morning and said ‘I don’t think this is working any more’ and that was that. “This caused me to take a massive dip and I suffered with bouts of depression and anxiety. All my hopes and dreams I had for our future together had suddenly been taken away from me.” He added: “Then, a few months later, I just had this realisation that actually, none of this matters. I thought, right, I need to go and live my life for me – and do all the things I should have done before. “As a London cabbie for 18 years, every day I would drive past a place in Regents Park that had an advert outside for Stand Up Comedy and I always thought to myself ‘I should do that!’ “I’ve also always wanted to learn a language so am currently teaching myself Italian and plan to learn guitar!” For Anne, 43, the new venture, which started out as a dare, has now become a new passion as well as a lifeline from mental health struggles and a job in which she felt trapped.

“Part of what made me leave my job is that I had become overwhelmed and stressed. Stress was taking its toll on my physical and mental health. “That was a real turning point in my life. It just made me realise I wanted to spend more time doing something that I love.” She added: “I had a conversation with a friend of mine who didn’t want to settle down and have kids but also felt like he was being left behind. So I said to him: ‘Why don’t you challenge yourself to do the scariest thing you can think of to do. He said that for him that would be moving abroad – and now he lives in Fiji! “Soon after that, and knowing how unhappy I was at work, he turned it back on me and said ‘now it’s your turn.’ And the scariest thing I could think of was stand-up comedy. “So the idea was I would put myself through this course and do a five-minute comedy set at the end of it and then never do it again. But I just kept going back! I discovered there is something quite magical about making people laugh. It’s unique in the sense that you’re allowed to say whatever you like, whatever is on your mind, as long as you try and make it funny.” But Anne, who admits to nearly giving up during a crisis of confidence is convinced that fate had other ideas. She said: “I remember I had Live at The Apollo on TV just before I was due to go on the course and felt this moment of overwhelming certainty that I would be on that programme one day, which was really strange because it had never been a dream or ambition to do that. “And then, halfway through the course, I went on holiday and was having a real wobble. I’d convinced myself I couldn’t do it. It was so stressful and making me feel sick. And then I proceeded to get on the plane – and found

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David Fawbert Photography

myself sitting directly behind Rob Brydon! I definite y took this as a sign. I thought, whatever reason I’m doing this for, I need to keep going. “I did try and engage with Mr Brydon as I wanted to pick his brains, but he didn’t seem to want to talk, he was incredibly shy actually. I have decided I will write to him at some point though and let him know how he, unwittingly, inspired me to keep going in comedy! Anne has now turned a corner and is excited about her new future. “My day is enriched now, my mental health is much better because this is something that is a joy to do. Poor mental health was forcing me to re-evaluate my life. When I’m more experienced on the comedy scene, I will have the confidence to do a set about it,” she said. Mark is a fan of American comedian Bill Burr and Anne’s favourite is Michael McIntyre. But who – or what inspires the pair’s own material? Mark said: “For me it’s starting with everyday life and putting a spin on how you see things and how bizarre it can be. I also do a lot of material about myself because, from what I’ve seen from other comics, a lot of it is almost like self-deprication. “I also use material from my days as a cabbie, for instance where I have said the wrong thing to celebrities. And I have absolutely no problem with naming and shaming – as long as it’s in the name of comedy and it’s funny!” Anne said: “All my material is inspired by own life because I find it much easier to remember and speak with passion on something if it is based on truth. I start with an idea and it just evolves from there.” No stranger to public speaking in her previous role at a corporate transformational software company, Anne admits stand up presents very different challenges. “I’ve had to overcome quite a lot of fear in being able to stand up and make jokes and it’s all about that inner voice. If you say to yourself ‘this is scary, I can’t do this’ and think about all the bad scenarios then you paralyse yourself with the fear and you can’t do something. She added: “Even on those nights where I completely bomb – the thing we’re all frightened of as a comedian – they are what I need because they show me how to improve my comedy and it also shows me that I’ll survive. If that’s the worst thing that’s going to happen, then I survived it. That frees you up as a performer, not to care too much, which makes you a better comedian.” “It’s just so exciting at the moment because every day is different and that’s so different to the day job I was doing before.” Mark said: “It was a big change but I now feel that this is the way my life should be.

“Yes, we do have responsibilities and kids and mortgages and stuff, that’s fine but at the end of the day no one’s going to say after you’ve gone, ‘he was a great mortgage payer!’ “What it always comes back to for me is what advice you would give your children. I always tell my kids to do what makes you happy. You don’t have to follow the 9-5 and get bogged down in life, just do what you enjoy and you’ll find other people who have that same goal in life - and that’s where the joy is.” So what do their family and friends make of their new personas? Mark said: “They have been very supportive. Even my ex-wife came to see me one night and was really impressed and my kids think it’s fantastic.” Anne said: “My husband saw my first comedy gig and he wasn’t very keen because at that point all my jokes were about him. “But I was were talking about comedy to my children the other day when my eldest daughter said to me: ‘Mummy, I’ve worked out that it doesn’t matter if you’re pretty but if you’re nice and you can make people laugh then people want to be friends with you.’ “It’s early days for the new business partners whose selfconfessed mission is to just ‘follow the laughs.’ But they don’t shy from ambition and, longer term, have their sights set on Edinburgh Fringe Festival - and television - exposure. And as for Comedy at Work, well, there are secret hopes it will soon have these fledgling masters of mockery laughing all the way to the bank!

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by Sue Cressman

A song to inspire Courage and Hope ‘Survive’ by Sue Cressman Available to download at: In 1992, successful business woman Sue Cressman’s life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Placed in a hospice for 10 months she underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. She recovered and vowed to help other sufferers, continuing her work running several companies in the business and corporate sector. Unbelievably, the worst was yet to come… In 1999 she broke her neck leaving her hands and feet paralysed, luckily retaining a tiny amount of spinal cord, which enabled surgery and a bone graft, she was able to walk again. Some eight years after, another disc broke and prolapsed leaving her needing another operation. Feeling an undying debt of gratitude to the hospitals, surgeons, doctors and nurses that had saved her life on several occasions Sue decided that she would find a way to help provide medical equipment where it was most needed. She set about raising funds independently to enable her to buy directly what was required. Through her own generosity, tireless fundraising and the kind donations of others Sue would present the purchased equipment to the relevant consultant then move on to another NHS hospital or unit and do the same. In 2013 she was again diagnosed with breast cancer. This time it was impossible for her to have chemotherapy or radiotherapy and she underwent a full mastectomy, after which followed some 16 operations and procedures. The recovery period was long, but she continued her fund raising including a video message from her bed to a mass of guests at a Pink Ball she had organized, which proved moving viewing for all that attended. Five years after her recovery, in early 2018, Sue was asked by friend and BBC radio & TV presenter, Trish Adudu, to audition for a very special choir that would be singing just before the Royal Wedding in Windsor. Having secretly harboured a love of singing, acting and dancing since her childhood Sue found herself up against some 300 potential candidates. Two weeks later she received the call telling her she had a place in the new choir named ‘Gospability’. That same weekend she was told that a handful of choir members, including herself, would be appearing on BBCs ‘The One Show’ with Kylie Minogue! Nearer the time of the Royal Wedding, Sue found herself as spokesperson for the choir, conducting interviews with Hello Magazine, BBC World News, BBC Live News and numerous radio stations. The final performance ahead of the wedding was broadcast live from The Guildhall in Windsor on The One Show. An award-winning documentary ‘The Royal Wedding Singalong’ charts the journey of the choir during this period.

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The award (shown above) will be in the reception of the Oncology Unit at Solihull Hospital, was given to Sue because of the funds raised for equipment at the Unit. Sue has purchased equipment for all the Birmingham Hospitals including: Heart of England, Queen Elizabeth, Solihull and Good Hope Hospitals.

At the beginning of 2019 Sue was ready to try something else and closest to her heart was the suffering of other Breast Cancer patients. Having final y exposed her love of performing with such great success she decided that a song of inspiration would be a novel and creative way to make a difference. Having undergone so much in her own battles with the disease she wanted to help other ladies by giving them hope and encouragement. Together with her husband Rick, they wrote the lyrics and then teamed up with good friend Guy Barnes, who wrote the music. A demo of the song was played to hugely successful publicist and manager Stephen Colyer (David Essex, Peter Sarstedt, Hot Chocolate, Mud, The Tremeloes). Impressed by what he heard he put them in touch with top arranger and producer Ian Wherry (David Essex, Elaine Paige, A-Ha, David Cassidy) and the song ‘Survive’ was born.

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Creating something special: An interview with Escape Arts Co-Founder Karen Williams by Amanda Chalmers

MORE than two decades ago when Karen Williams established a small Arts project in Warwickshire, she didn’t dream it would evolve into the success story it has become today. A passion for the arts alongside a sense of frustration at an increasing lack of creative resource in the community, inspired Escape Art’s co-founder to follow her dream – and today she is the driving force behind its continued growth and success. Escape Arts became a charity in 2003, as a result of two local projects: Escape founded by ceramic artist Robin Wade in 1997 and Community Art in Action, founded by Karen in the same year. Their shared vision for a creative arts community group to aid health and wellbeing, quickly won hearts and minds and today it is recognised and respected on both sides of the county, where it operates out of two main hubs, in Stratford and Nuneaton. News of the charity’s inspirational work quickly spread as requests for support and collaborations started to roll in, eventually attracting its first grants – including £500 received from a local community policeman – which funded the start of what became their fl gship parents’ 12 year project in Studley, the popular Grow, Cook and Eat group which combined creative arts, health interventions, cooking and sourcing ingredients from their own community allotment. More projects meant Escape Arts also needed more room to grow, and soon found themselves moving out of Robin’s garden studio and taking over five unoccupied shop units in Stratford’s town centre, transforming them into a vibrant gallery, youth music and film studio, office home for Stratford Men In Sheds and a huge community arts space. 2014 marked the biggest milestone for the charity when it was awarded a share of a £1 million Community Funding Challenge led by Stratford Town Trust. Where to invest this money was instinctive - new premises – to be precise, a Grade II-listed former 15th-Century cobbler, Tudor pub and slaughterhouse now sitting derelict in Stratford! But if this was to become a reality it was going to take vision. Karen said: “This was a really big deal. When I walked in I admit I was daunted but there was such an overwhelming response from people who fondly remembered Henson’s butchers and wanted to share their memories. There was a

real vision for what it could look like. As a result we created this fantastic community-based arts and heritage hub and visitor centre celebrating local arts. “There was nothing like this in Stratford. It was all Shakespeare, all the RSC. There was nothing about local people and we are all about local people. The whole focus is local people and local stories.

Madhatters Ball, joint fundraiser with Shakespeare Hospice Childrens Hub at the White Swan hotel 2017

“And it meant for the first time, after having previously had quite a nomadic life, we had a proper home so we could really start focusing on the charity, what we do and who for.” Following a year of renovation work, the grand opening of the new centre in May 2015 marked a hugely proud moment for the Escape team. The celebrations were made extra special on the day by the presence of VIP guests – the Henson’s family, employees from its time as a butchers’ shop - as well as veterans and community groups. “I felt elated on that day – hugely relieved and extremely proud,” said Karen.

Our Stratford ln Stitches group preparing for yarn bombing the yard at the Mayors Community weekedn 2019

Around the same time – as a way to further extend the charity’s reach - Karen sought her opportunity to take their community work on the road. With the help of a Big Lottery grant, they rescued an old county council bus from the scrapheap and, fitting y for the charity, in Karen’s words ‘we took something people didn’t want and turned it into something beautiful.’ Housing arts materials, a fridge, media suite and even portable radio station, the bus is a regular fixture of local festivals and charity events

Artist ali allen incredible festial giant ball run always popular for both young and older

Karen said: “The Escape model that we use is all about inclusion and integration, each project is supported by experienced link workers who support lots of different needs and help visiting artist ensure the creative activity is accessible for all. They are the glue that hold the whole thing together. This is the unique aspect we offer. A critical part of the work Escape does is to break down those access needs and makes sure everybody can be involved and included. If they need one-to-one support we can work with them and their families to help facilitate funding support for that.”

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HEALTH Successful partnerships over the years include other charities, such as Mencap, Turning Point and RISE as well as adult social care teams, schools and local businesses. But one of the most rewarding, says Karen, is the relationship established with Shakespeare Hospice Children’s and Young People’s Hub in Stratford. “It’s all about bringing young people together, creating an activity where they can share and bond and grow and increase confidence in a safe place to explore some of those issues they’re struggling with.” Over the course of the 22 years Escape has been ably supported by a loyal army of volunteers, now numbering more than 150 - the longest serving, Paul Mitchell, boasting 20 years with the charity, who now tends the heritage centre garden alongside supporting project activities. And they can all reflect on the thousands of people whose lives they enhanced through a host of cultural and creative projects. These projects fall into one of three categories: Community Art, Children’s and Youth Programmes and Heritage.

Community Art Two words at the very heart of Escape’s ethos. The diversity of their work is evident around practically every corner, from the In Stitches groups, Men’s Sheds, creative health interventions, artists’ workshops to volunteering and open days. But it’s the exhibitions which have most helped build its reputation as a community hub, exploring local histories, the changing landscape of the town and impact on local people’s lives. One of their most recent – and popular - Call The Midwife, casts light on Stratford’s maternity and general health services from Victorian period to present day.


“We’re very much health by stealth, you’re building friendships, you’re building social skills, you’re learning how to work in a very diverse group, and you’re valuing each other. “We’re working with professional artists and practitioners so there’s a very high quality in what we’re doing. We find we’re often the stepping stones for people getting back involved in their community.

Children’s and Youth Programmes: One of the most rewarding aspects of the charity’s work is its development of young people. Projects are vast and varied, including a youth café, radio station, Lego Animation workshops, birthday parties, after-school clubs, holiday camps and work experience. One of their most successful is what they call their Legacy Project – working with partner organisations in the fields of behavioural difficulties mental health, illness, bereavement and isolation. Karen said: “The work is all geared around giving them ownership so they get involved in our projects, whether it’s interviewing war veterans or helping collate our press releases, it’s about them leaving something tangible. We’re turning the tables and giving them the responsibility to make an impact on other people, it’s not just about us making an impact on them.”

Heritage: Celebrating the past is also a part of what has shaped the charity’s future.

Never missing an opportunity to entertain and inform, even the visitor centre’s ‘smallest room’ gives us pause for thought with the charity’s permanent exhibition Lifting the Lid on Stratford’s Loos, exploring the historical links with one of the town’s oldest businesses Thomas Crapper!

Escape’s most innovative projects and exhibitions have left their mark on the local community. They include regular gatherings of VIPs (Veterans and Interesting Pensioners) such as birthdays and Christmas dinners; and a WWI centenary commemoration. One of the most talked about projects of last year was a two-day event to which eight of the original Warwickshire Land Girls were invited to help re-enact a WWII wedding.

But Karen is quick to point out: “We’re not simply an arts and crafts organisation. Our work is about using arts and culture to impact on health and wellbeing. That underpins everything we do.

Karen said: “Heritage is so important to us. It’s about valuing people and valuing their stories. It’s about ensuring they feel a sense of belonging in their communities and about enabling them to leave a legacy.”

She added: “We are a very inclusive organisation so we don’t just work with one particular client group. We have an established referral system where we work with lots of different organisations who signpost people into the project. What you end up with is a group of people coming together from all sorts of different backgrounds learning, sharing and creating together. That’s powerful. It doesn’t happen very often in a community.

The work of Escape Arts does not go unnoticed beyond the county walls either and, in December last year it was presented with a Queens Award for Voluntary Services.

In the meantime Karen says: “Part of our role is about advocacy and about advocating the impact of arts and culture on health and wellbeing and really validating that across professions. “I would like to see the work we’re doing continuing to grow in lots of different settings, in every hospital, in the playground. It would be nice for the arts to be validated in clinical settings and its importance prioritised in educational settings.” “It’s been a difficult journey and there’s been some heartache on the way, a lot of difficult decisions but I think what we’ve got now is something everybody involved in Escape is extremely proud of.” Escape Arts can be found at: The charity is only able to continue its good work through continued funding support. Any businesses who are interested in sponsoring or partnering with the charity are invited to contact karenwilliams@

Karen Williams

Young sleuths at spy camp

But what next for a charity whose accomplishments try hard to keep a pace with its founders’ ambitions? Look out for news of a new public art partnership with local hospitals as well as exciting plans for further growing its facilities in Nuneaton.

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Swapping scales Entrepreneur finds her recipe or business success by Amanda Chalmers

It’s exciting times for entrepreneur Saffron Medway as she prepares to expand her successful cake-making business with the launch of a new cafe. But for the master baker who admits she ‘doesn’t like cake,’ it marks a huge departure from her previous profession – nine years as a Weightwatchers instructor!

But, in the meantime, Saffron’s passion for baking was continuing to feature more heavily as she worked throughout the night to perfect her sugarcraft skills.

The owner of Caking and Baking in Leamington Spa, Saffron was inspired to join the slimming group’s ranks after successfully shedding a whopping four stone in just 15 months under their weight loss programme, slimming down from a size 20 to size 10 dress size.

She said: “I have always liked to bake and cook but I would find myself up in the middle of the night with insomnia trying to find something to do that was quiet - and there’s only so many books you can read – I just wanted to do something constructive. I don’t consider myself artistic funnily enough and it wouldn’t have occurred to me to pick up a pencil or a paintbrush or something, but I did enjoy baking and got hold of some books and magazines and watched You Tube videos and literally started teaching myself cake decorating.

The 47-year-old mum of four said: “I had always been active and liked to run and, when I lived in London I was working as a childminder so was always on the go. But when we moved to Warwick I changed my job and worked in an office all day and was cooking less and having more takeaways and generally eating badly, so the weight just kind of crept on. “So one day I decided to do something about it and I signed up to Weightwatchers and eventually reached my goal weight. “After a couple of years I decided to train to become a leader because I felt inspired by the journey I had been on and wanted to be able to give somebody else the same feeling and same experience I had.” And so, she quit her long-held position at a Leamington export business, passed her nutrition training and went on to spend nine rewarding years instructing others on how to achieve their own weight loss goals. “I loved seeing people achieving their goals and changing their lives for the better,” said Saffron. Some of my members lost 10 or 11 stone. It was an amazing experience to be a part of and some of them have become lifelong friends.” But balancing her classes with the demands of a full time job was taking its toll and worrying signs, including bouts of insomnia and depression, signalled the need to make changes in her own life again.

“The children would come down in the morning and there would be a whole array of sugar craft animals or creatures in the kitchen. It got ridiculous because there was cake everywhere in the house. There was cake in the oven or on the table or in the office And our space was completely taken over with cake making equipment. She added: “The workload just got bigger and bigger and it had got to the point where I was literally working 24 hours a day. I was running the Weightwatchers meetings during the day, then having the children and doing all the domestic stuff and then it was off to another Weightwatchers meeting in the evening and then coming home at around 9 or 10pm to do my paperwork and then starting on my cakes.

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FOOD & DRINK I would be working through to about 6.30am and wasn’t sleeping at all.

celebration cake for one of my members because they’d ordered one.

“I had to make a decision and it was at this point and my husband supported me to give up the Weightwatchers work to concentrate on the cake making but set me a challenge of making a profit within my first yea , which I did.

“But it also helped because I developed a lot of low fat cake baking with fresh fruit or Greek yoghurt.”

“I also learned that It’s important to remember that things can change and even in the darkest moments there is light around the corner. Your mental health is important and making sure you are taking the time to look after it is vital, healing takes time but it is possible.” It was time to focus on her new vision. She added: “We started advertising and the business quickly grew until it became just too big for my kitchen at home. Around the same time a friend of mine was looking to sell her bakery business in Leamington Spa so I took it on.” As well as a clutch of local business awards, Caking and Baking has already won recognition from all quarters of the industry, including a Certific te of Merit from the world’s largest cake competition Cake International, as well as being featured in Vogue and Cake Masters magazines. Saffron’s skills have even been given the royal seal of approval when, in 2017, she was among seven teams chosen to recreate the Queen’s wedding cake for her 70th anniversary. She said: “I am a member of the British Sugarcraft Guild and they were asked to find people to recreate each of the seven tiers of the original cake. We spent an afternoon royal icing netting and polystyrene to make the sixth tier. “It was an immensely proud moment and I felt extremely honoured to be chosen to do that, even if it was just a small part. In fact, I would say it was the pinnacle of my cake making career so far.” She also does her bit for the local community by linking up with national charity Free Cakes For Kids, ( an organisation dedicated to creating birthday cakes for children who, through circumstances beyond their control, would otherwise not have one. It partners with organisations such as children’s centres and social services who request cakes on behalf of the families.


But Saffron is keen to point out that you can, in fact, have your cake and eat it! “You can still have cake and lose weight. Weight loss and healthy weight maintenance is about having everything you want, but just in moderation. There is no reason why if you’re trying to lose weight that you can’t eat cake. You just have to make allowances elsewhere. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with cake or enjoying a little bit of what you like because if you deprive yourself of something you just crave it more and you’re going to end up over-indulging because that’s what we do as people. “It’s just about self-discipline and being in control. But when you want it enough it will happen. When you want the weight loss more than the piece of cake or more than that glass of wine or more than that bag of crisps, that’s when it changes.” She added: “People are amazed when I tell them what I used to do. Weightwatchers instructors, when they leave, tend to go into their own weight loss classes or fitness and nutrition classes because th y have the knowledge -and then there’s me baking cakes for a living!” Some 18 months on from the shop opening, her team has now grown to five headed up by manager Abby Hawkins – and Saffron is already planning for the next project - to open her first café, in the new year, in neighbouring Warwick. Saffron said: “Years ago, before I even started to make cake, it was always my plan to have a tea room or coffee shop so it’s lovely to see that happening. I always had my eye on Warwick. “When people refer to me as a businesswoman I say, ‘I’m not, I just make cake!’ I also think to myself, what am I doing starting a new business at my age? But I do feel proud of what I’ve achieved and the business it has become.” Visit Caking and Baking at: Queen’s 70th anniversary replica cake

The irony of the slimming instructor turned baker’s tale is not lost on Saffron herself who even unashamedly admits to some of her best customers being former Weightwatchers clients! She said: “It was hilarious. It was a never-ending business circle because I would be supplying cake and helping them lose weight and then supplying them with cake again and helping them lose weight again! I would often turn up to my meeting with a

Annie Johnston Photography

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In Review:

Welcombe Hotel Stratford-upon-Avon Stratford-upon-Avon is home to many unique beauties, and one of those is the Welcombe Hotel. Charming place, and one which I hadn’t visited previously until now. The fact I hadn’t was remarkable, considering all that it had to offer people. What we have here, in quite a rare display, is a hotel which genuinely makes a lot of effort to deliver a service above and beyond what you’d expect. I personally found this to be the best hotel I’ve ever stayed at, which wasn’t what I was expecting for somewhere so close to home. You’d think the title would go to a five star room in the Ritz, or a château in France. But instead, it was here. First of all, the views were astounding. They captured the area wonderfully, and I felt from beginning to end that we were on holiday even though in all honesty, we weren’t. We stayed in the 4 poster bedroom. In case you didn’t know, it is very large. Incredibly so, in fact. We were able to play hide and seek in there, which just gives you an idea of how vast the space was. However, the hotel is not judged solely on the merits of its room, as any enthusiast of staying in these establishments will know. The real test of whether or not it was a good place to be would come in the form of the

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service. Thankfully, we were well taken care of. The service was exceptional from the moment we arrived to when we left, and the staff who work at the front desk were particularly helpful in this regard. The problem that you encounter with a lot of hotel experiences is that you feel like just another bill. No one takes the time to see if you are comfortable, they don’t go out of their way to look after you and so the personal touch is absent. In this case, we encountered none of those problems.

Something I would like to note is that we were able to enjoy breakfast in our room, overlooking the wonderful views. This made all the difference for us, because it was a very intimate experience. We didn’t have to share our moments with other patrons. It definite y made the experience even better, which considering how good things had been up until that point was a considerable achievement. So how would I describe my stay at this establishment? In a word, rejuvenating. We were due a stay away from home, and to be honest I’m so glad we picked here above any other choice. The experience was wonderful from the outset. It genuinely felt like we were treated like important guests and not just another person. That makes such a difference for anyone who wants to spend time away from home. The staff were lovely, the room was incredibly spacious and the overall quality of our stay was top notch.

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Enjoy Christmas

in the Jewellery Quarter

Sitting on the edge of Birmingham’s bustling city centre, this urban village offers a unique combination of historic buildings, independent retailers and award-winning bars and restaurants making the Jewellery Quarter the perfect place to celebrate the Festive Season! Celebrate the season in style with the FREE Christmas Lights Switch On event on Friday 15th November from 5 – 7pm on The Golden Square (B18 6NF). Dance the night away to live music on the outdoor stage, tuck into delicious street food, or warm yourself up with a cup of hot mulled wine. This event is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a night out with family or friends in the Jewellery Quarter and will culminate with a spectacular firework display as the bespoke jewellery themed Christmas Lights are turned on. Pick up a copy of the JQ Christmas Window Trail. New for 2019, this map will guide you along the historic streets of the JQ to admire the very best Christmas window displays from local retailers. With independent shops ranging from jewellers, to rare whisky sellers, florists chocolate shops and art galleries you’ll be sure to find the perfect gift for both family and friends. Jewellery continues to be at the heart of this neighbourhood and the Quarter manufacturers circa 40% of the UK’s jewellery making it the perfect place to pick up a hand-crafted item or commission a bespoke piece for a special occasion. There is even the opportunity to get hands-on and create your own pieces, perfect for newly engaged couples or anniversary celebrations. The local jewellery shops still dominate much of Vyse Street and Warstone Lane and shoppers can browse a wide range of jewellery in all styles and price brackets. Get in from the cold and discover more of the Quarter’s industrial heritage at the local museums including Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, The Coffin Works, and The Pen Museum. A great opportunity for young and old alike to get hands-on with the manufacturing trades that gave Birmingham its nickname “The City of 1000 Trades”. Combine your visit to the three museums and save money with the Jewellery Quarter Explorer Pass, be sure to ask for the full details when you purchase your museum ticket. With special events throughout the year and quirky gift-shops, the local museums and galleries are a must on your tour of the JQ. Toast the festive season at one of our many award-winning pubs, restaurants and cafes. With over 80 food and drink options in the Quarter you are truly spoilt for choice. Take the opportunity to catch up with friends and family over a delicious meal or a locally made beer. Discover more by downloading the Food & Drink Guide from our website Why not extend your visit into a weekend escape and spend the night at one of our many boutique hotels or well-known budget travel options? Download the Jewellery Quarter Visitor Guide for more details Best of all, this jam-packed urban village is only a 20 minute walk from Birmingham New Street or a 10 minute Metro ride. The Quarter also has two train stations, Jewellery Quarter and Snow Hill stations as well as two multi-storey car parks, Vyse Street (B18 6LP) and Snowhill Station (B3 2BJ). For the latest news, events and updates from the Jewellery Quarter, including downloadable leaflets and travel information, visit

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In Review:

The Manor

Country House Hotel

The Manor Country House Hotel was a fantastic place. As you are no doubt aware, I have a lot of experience with hotels and chalets. I think it’s important to try and give an honest recounting of my experience, because when it comes down to it, places that really offer a fantastic service need to be recognised. The first thing that you’ll notice about this particular place is that it does look like a manor. All of the splendour and sophistication and classic design were on full display as we arrived. What you will find is that this sets a certain precedent before you’ve even begun. The expectations for such a place are automatically generated based on the exterior. I know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But if the front was anything to go by, we were in for a treat. Thankfully, all of my preconceived notions about staying in such a grande establishment were all realised quite quickly. We had a lovely time here. There was a lot to appreciate, and it all began with the room. The place you stay is equally about the room you sleep in as it is everything else. Our room was huge, and classically decorated. This really added a touch of sophistication to the proceedings, and everything was all very pretty. The character of the building was evident from the beginning. I genuinely could feel the history here; each brick told a story, each room a novel. It really made the experience quite special because we were intimately aware at all times that there was a palpable sense of grandeur which isn’t always present in hotels. Geographically speaking, the manor itself was a short distance away from the village of Bicester, so it was easy to walk into the area and have a look around. The surrounding area was equally as picturesque and cosy as the hotel itself, and so I genuinely enjoyed my experience there.

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“ ”


We seemed to encounter people at every turn who genuinely understood the importance of customer service.

Of course, the service we received from the hotel staff was excellent. We seemed to encounter people at every turn who genuinely understood the importance of customer service. They went out of their way to make sure that we had a good time, and I am always appreciative of such individuals. They really help to drive home just how much difference good staff can make when it comes to service.

So overall, what do I think of this place? Well, The Manor Country House Hotel is definite y one of my favourites. Being able to sense the sophistication and customer-focused attitudes in the air was always good. You felt like you were genuinely getting the most from your time and money. The building had such character as well. I genuinely felt like I could feel the history. When you stay in a room with such character, you can’t help but feel rejuvenated. You step back in time and discover a world long passed, preserved within the walls. It was incredible.

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A Magical Christmas

in Royal Leamington Spa

Find your Spa*kle in Royal Leamington Spa this Christmastime with fun filled shopping and fabulous FREE activities or all the family to enjoy! Combining a unique mix of independent stores, national retailers and great places to eat and party, you will discover something for everyone. From finding the perfect Christmas tree to perfect pressies, Royal Leamington Spa has all you need to ensure your Christmas is packed with festive spa*kle! Stroll around town and enjoy the town’s beautiful Christmas Lights and Christmas themed windows offering inspiration for the wonderful gifts you will find inside. Plus our wonderful Christmas Angels will be on hand to offer help and advice to make your shopping experience twinkle. Shop ‘til you drop with late night shopping on Thursdays (from 5 December and FREE parking in the Royal Priors after 5pm) and Sunday Yuletide markets (FREE weekend parking at Riverside House -CV32 5HZ). You’ll find plenty of inspiration as you work your way through your Christmas shopping list to find that special gift for family and friends. Look out for Santa too! – he will be sure to put in an appearance along the way, shhhh… might even find him in Royal Priors Shopping Centre! And don’t forget to treat the family to, The Royal Spa Centre’s family panto this year, Snow White. During the day, Leamington is alive with tasty food stores, delis, cafes and bistros – all bursting with fl voursome treats. As evening comes, the town’s vibrant night time culture springs to life with traditional pubs, cool bars, live music venues and excellent restaurants showcasing food from around the globe Join us on Sunday 1st December to light up Leamington at our spectacular Lantern Parade. There will be entertainment, real reindeer and hundreds of colourful handmade lanterns lighting up the town centre! To top it off, this stunning Regency town which boasts beautiful buildings and tree-lined avenues, is right here on your doorstep! Just 25min from Stratford or Coventry you will also find easy all d y parking in the Covent Garden multi-storey (CV32 5QB) for £3. For more information about what’s on this Christmas please visit

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Loch Fyne

Award Winning,

Incredible Experiences I was recently invited to come and try and the experience that is Loch Fyne - despite the name, this isn’t a damp lake. It is in fact a lovely place to eat which I would recommend to practically everyone. There’s a couple of different reasons for this, but chiefly among them is that they recently won an incredible award. The establishment at Knowle is a place which has recently been awarded the prestigious title of Restaurant of the Year, awarded to them by The Restaurant Awards 2019 Midlands Edition. They garnered this award for an incredible experience which, to be honest, I could easily identify as being incredible. The first thing you notice about the evening is that you are greeted at the door by Ludvik, the manager of the establishment. He took the time to interact with everyone who came into the restaurant, which is quite a personal touch that I didn’t expect. It made us feel like important guests, which was nice. Before we get onto the food, let’s talk a little bit about the people behind something like this. The whole series of places began life as the result of the passion of two oyster enthusiasts called Johnny and Andy. They began by selling their catches out of a shack in Scotland and the business grew and grew until it became what you see today - 22 different dining establishments up and down the country, all offering the same incredible service. But anyway. Let’s talk a little bit about the food because it really is quite a special thing. A lot of it is sourced straight from the Loch itself, so you know that it is going to be fresh and delicious. We had oysters and champagne, which was an experience for us. I’ve never sampled a dish that had such fl vour and such unique textures. It was delicious. It was also an interesting first to watch one of us had the lobster. I can assure you that simply watching people eat it on the television is nothing like seeing it in person. Putting aside the food for 20 seconds, it was evident to everyone who went with us that the staff couldn’t emphasis on customer service and satisfaction. They were very attentive, and tried to make sure that we had a pleasant experience at all times. A member of staff was no more than a simple hand motion away, and it really did help to make us feel like we were important and valued. A prime example of their dedication to service would come not from us, but from another. A young couple who were attending the restaurant with us, or at the same time technically, became engaged at the table. The staff had taken every step they possibly could to ensure

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that the night was a success, and it was a heartwarming moment to see these two people come together. It may not have been a particularly extraordinary event, as proposals happen all the time in restaurants, but there was something about the way that this resonated with the room that we could all feel the emotion in the air. Suffice it to say, the applause was universal. It really is incredible to think that two people operating out of a shack in the middle of Scotland could transform their enterprise into a successful chain of restaurants. Clearly, dreams have no limitations, and these two people started something beyond anyone’s expectations. To come so far and then to win a prestigious award speaks volumes about the dedication of every single member of staff who works there. The award itself certifies that out of all the restaurants in the Midlands, this establishment is the best for seafood. That’s an accolade which speaks volumes about how the business is run, how well the staff treat their customers, and how good the food is. Seafood can often be quite hit or miss, but this was truly special. So, to summarise. We had a wonderful time at this establishment. It was clear to me from the moment I arrived that we were dealing with professionals. These were people who clearly had a very efficient system in place for looking after customers, and it’s safe to say that satisfaction was their top priority. There wasn’t a single moment in the evening that I didn’t feel looked after. Everyone who came with me agreed, this was a wonderful evening. The food was delicious, the staff were attentive, and the accolade that the restaurant had one spoke volumes about how well it operates all the time. This is a place that I can definitely recommend, simply because it showcases exactly how well a restaurant can perform if all of the staff are willing to put the work in.

The Bank House High Street Knowle B93 0JU T: 01564 732750 Opening times Mon - Fri: 9:00-22:00 Sat: 9:00-22:30 Sun: 9:00-22:00

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Fratelli coffee shop “It’s not just about the coffee. It’s about good service and high standards. All of those are what make a great cafe and that’s what we’re trying to do here,” says Lee Miles, co-owner of Coventry’s newest coffee shop Fratelli. Set over two floors on Hertford Street in the city centre, Fratelli opened in late October just six weeks after Lee and business partners Genc Braha and Luigi Alliaj decided to take the plunge and open a coffee shop together. The trio already run another business together, supplying security services to bars and pubs in Coventry and have spent years having meetings in coffee shops. “We kept thinking, ‘why don’t we open our own’,” says Lee, “and we’ve final y taken the plunge. Once we decided it was full steam ahead and now here we are.” Named after the Italian word for ‘brothers’ - a reflection of their own close relationship - all three owners are passionate about their new venture from the coffee to the culture they create in Coventry’s latest cafe. They want to provide top quality coffee in great surroundings, served by top quality staff so people keep on coming back. The two-storey premises has been completely refurbished and the owners commissioned local artist Katie O to create Coventry-focused art for the walls, providing a unique look to the brand new venue. There are service counters on both floors to make sure nobody has to wait too long, and plenty of seating in the light, airy cafe. Offering coffee supplied by Illy Coffee as well as a range of teas and other hot and cold drinks, Fratelli is open from 7am for breakfast and will also be serving a range of food from breakfast through to cakes and snacks as well as sandwiches, salads and jacket potatoes. General manager Tom Adkins has come from Esquires and is looking forward to seeing the offering grow and evolve as Fratelli finds its feet Service and standards are top of the agenda at Fratelli. Lee and his business partners have committed to using local staff and suppliers wherever possible as well as to providing top-class training so customers can enjoy the best experience possible. “There’s nothing worse than going into a coffee shop and being served by someone who doesn’t want to be there and doesn’t care whether you come back or not,” says Lee. “We want Fratelli to be a place that people can come to, see the barista they know, have great coffee in a relaxed environment and want to come back again and again. I think if you’re serious about your investment you should show it, and that’s why we’ve invested in our staff. “We don’t want to be just another faceless coffee shop, we want to fly the fl g for Coventry and provide great coffee, fresh, tasty food, and an experience that makes us number one in people’s minds for coffee in the city.”

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Local business partnership on course to help entrepreneurs A digital marketing company has joined forces with a Warwick entrepreneur and former newspaper editor to launch new specialist workshops which meet a rising demand from small businesses in Warwickshire. FL1 Digital is collaborating with Chalmers News PR to provide a series of intensive two-hour courses all geared at supporting the growth of SMEs and startups. FL1 Digital specialises in high-end custom designed and built websites but after a successful decade of offering training from their headquarters in St Albans, Hertfordshire, the company has now rolled out the workshops to its new offices in Warwick’s Tournament Fields. Chalmers News PR founder Amanda Chalmers is delivering the PR workshops which, she claims, are a first or the area. Amanda, former editor of The Stratford-upon-Avon Herald, hopes local businesses can benefit from a wealth of experience after her three decades in the local print media. She said: “You don’t work in newspapers for 30 years without learning a thing or two about effective PR and marketing. And for the past year running my own PR agency it’s really brought home to me what a huge appetite there is among the growing number of small businesses, for learning these skills. “Getting your message across to the marketplace has never been tougher, with increased competition, crowded social media channels and busier lifestyles all making connecting with your audience more complicated than ever before. “It is recognised that PR is of vital importance to businesses of all sizes but, sadly, it’s usually the smaller ones that miss out on the opportunities good PR can create because they don’t know how to approach it or have the time to address it among all their other day to day responsibilities.

increasing challenges of running a modern-day SME (small or medium enterprise). “People respond well to the idea of offering short sharp training courses because taking too much time regularly out of your business for training is a big hit. People prefer to take two hours out of their business rather than going on a big long course just to get 80% of the stuff they didn’t need to know instead of 20% of the stuff they did need to know,” he said. “Colleges are offering similar things but they tend to be more prolonged courses rather than short sharp workshops and not so much geared to businesses.” On the collaboration, he added: “In this age of Digital and Social Networks, effective writing and PR is more powerful and relevant than ever, so adding this to our Digital Marketing focused Workshops was a natural and obvious fit. The workshops run at the FL1 offices starting on November 15th with WordPress. This is followed by Google Analytics on November 29th, Public Relations on January 10th and Google SEO on January 24th. Jason said: “There is increased demand for Google analytics training, for instance, these days because people are becoming much more digitally aware and it’s become essential for businesses to have a website. But a digital presence is more than just about having a website – it’s about a social presence, link PR and SEO. It’s not like it used to be when being online just meant having a website.” The courses cost just £45 per session, with the option of signing up for follow-on training bespoke to their business. For further information or to book, visit: www.

“And, as not all business owners can afford to pay for their own PR or marketing, these short workshops offer the perfect solution when it comes to learning the important basics. From how to write a stand-out press release and where to send it – to how to pitch and build key relationships, it’s all invaluable insight and knowledge that they can take with them going forward.” FL1 co-founder Jason Sammon says the low-cost time-efficient training comes in response to the

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In Review:


An Old Tudor House With Modern Character

Pubs and houses which used to be part of old buildings are always quite interesting to explore and look around. There is a tangible sense of history there, and you become very much aware that at one point in the past, people may have been incarcerated here, they may have died in here, or history may have been made in the same spot you’re stood in. So when we went to visit Flamenco, we understood immediately that we were dealing with something very precious in the sense that was very old. The owner, Alex Clayton, made us feel right at home from the beginning and personally greeted us. That in itself is the sign of a good night, because a lot of owners and managers are quite disinterested in the dayto-day affairs of their pubs. They’re more interested in running the business and turning a profit so people who take the time usually have an establishment that you’ll remember. We spent the beguining of our evening in the wine bar area. There was a big roaring fire in the background, the drinks were nice, the service was attentive. It really was a very enjoyable experience, and I can start to understand why a lot of people would visit such a place. The lighting was relaxed and romantic, not too dark, but not bright either by any means. The staff were very music focused, so there were some classic tunes playing in the background and to my understanding there is quite a regular schedule for live acts. Despite the fact that this is a traditional Tudor building, there was a Spanish side which actually paired quite well with the whole ambience. It’s incredible to think that radically different cultures could come together in perfect harmony, but we were sitting in the proof. Moving onto the food, we were invited into the resteraunt and sat in an extreamly romantic and cosy, what I can only discribe as a stone like booth. The owner asked us if he could personally arrange our meals. So he asked us what we like, and what we dislike, and then promised to come up with a three course meal to appeal to us. And to be honest, he did a really good job. The starter was Tapas, which had so many different fl vours in, it was unbelievable. The chicken paella was their signature dish, and it was incredibly tasty. All of the food in fact was wonderful, and some of the best we’ve had in quite some time. I personally liked the chicken paella, but the Baileys tiramisu we had for dessert was equally appealing. All things considered, this is a wonderful place to visit. There is a lot to appreciate here, and there is actually also a ghost in the building. Don’t worry, it’s friendly, and we have already talked a little bit about that in another piece. But when you think about the history, and the modern infusion of Spanish cuisine and culture, you really get a unique experience that is quite pleasing on multiple levels. We had a wonderful time, and it is somewhere that I could recommend to everybody.

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IT’S a new chapter for a well known Warwick inn which has recently reopened as a Spanish restaurant and cocktail bar. But, while the team and interior may be new, there’s no doubting the building still retains its original spirit – in every sense! The 17th-century former manor house in West Street, regarded as one of the most recognisable buildings in the town, is now home to Flamenco restaurant – and a resident friendly ghost called Jennifer! Spooked staff at the business have reported a series of unexplained sights and sounds over the years, from shadowy figures to flying glasses and self-rocking rocking chairs. Former manager Sweetie Sohal, whose family have owned the building for 18 years, recalled her first ghost y encounter in the winter of 2010. “I remember I was pregnant with my first child and, on two occasions, I came through the door and heard a young lady say ‘hello’ even though I knew there was no one else in the building. “Then, a few years later when my daughter was about five we were here on a Sunday evening with friends who were having a birthday meal. One person was taking lots of photographs and video. There’s a small window going up the stairs and, in all the years, I had never seen anything in that window. But the camera shots revealed a face in the window. It was a young girl of similar age to my daughter with olive skin. And it looked like there was a skull shape next to her which was freaky. “Everyone was shocked when they saw the picture. She looked very sullen and sad like she wanted to play with the children but couldn’t come out.” One of the town’s oldest inns, The Grade II Tudor House was among only a handful of buildings to survive the Great Fire of Warwick in 1694, which destroyed most of High Street, Church Street, Sheep Street and parts of Jury Street and New Street. From a manor house it went on to become Sunnyside Apartments in 1888, an auction house in the early 1900s, Tudor House Café and then Tudor House Inn bed and breakfast, as it’s best known today. It’s this rich history – and tales of the supernatural – that still attract ghost hunters from across the country. Sweetie’s spiritual encounters continued throughout the years including glimpses of ghosts and sinister activity. She said: “One day I caught the back end of somebody going up the stairs and no one was in

the building. I believe I saw the tail of a black skirt. “A few years ago there was a lady in here who sketched a picture and she said: ‘I’ve just seen this lady and wanted to sketch a picture for you.’ It made me jump out of my skin because it was the maid wearing the black and white outfit! There have also been sightings of a man who used to sit smoking at the bar wearing a distinctive hat adorned with a long feather. She said: “I was told by a spiritualist that the spirits within this building like me and I will not have a problem. She gave me advice that if I made changes and I felt something was going wrong in here, like the electrics or water etc. just to stand in the middle of the room and talk to Jennifer and say ‘today, this is what we’re going to do and I will make sure I am on top of it and no one damages anything.’

his authentic and traditional cooking methods specialising in tapas, paella cooked over flame and hot stone cooking (meat is cooked on a hot stone) - plus live music and cocktails. This cooking style was the inspiration for the restaurant’s new name Flame’nCo. But Alex Clayton is yet to get the approval of his ‘special guests.’ He said: “I believe this place has an energy. The good news is that all the indications we have from the experts are that the ghost is benign and there’s nothing to be afraid of. Despite that, there is still one feature of the business he is reluctant to change – a decrepit rocking chair that is believed to be haunted with the ghost of Jennifer.

“Any time we would have a party of, say 50 or more people, the Coke hose on the bar would stop working. After the last person had left, I would say ‘try the Coke gun now’ and it would be working. It’s because she doesn’t like that many people in the building.”

Sweetie said: “I have told Alex not to move the rocking chair in the back room. Every time we had a party and I’d have to move it I would gently pick it up and place it somewhere else and would reassure her: ‘Jenny, you sit here and keep an eye on everybody. It’s going to be a good night and we’re going to have a great party.’ Nothing would ever seem to go wrong then.

She added: “She was here before me and I am just a passer through. I think she just wants it to be recognised that she’s there. It’s nothing to worry about. She is a nice spirit and is not here to cause anyone any harm, it’s more a blessing really.

“I remember once, three years ago, moving the rocking chair to the balcony in the bar while we were redecorating and had a massive water leak gushing through from upstairs and I blamed it on the chair. When I moved it back to its rightful place nothing ever happened again.

But three years ago Sweetie’s nerve was first tested when, whilst staying in one of the bedrooms with her daughter during building work on her home, she was forced to take action.

Alex respectfully added: “It will be kept here. It is part of the furniture of the place. It’s part of the building and in the same way we respect the building we try to respect the history that comes with it.

“We stayed in Room 10 and one night the television came on and it went ice cold at the bottom of the bed. I turned it off but it came on three times! I woke up my daughter and did the only thing I could think of and got the Bible and started reading a Psalm out of the New Testament. I left the Bible open, and all of a sudden that freezing cold feeling had gone and that’s when I personally experienced what some customers will talk about that happens in Room 10.”

Bar manager, Julia Correderas Orozco, from Spain, admits she was not a believer in ghosts – until she started working at Flamenco three months ago. She said: “Customers recently reported seeing a glass just fall off a table that had no one was sitting at and I saw for myself one fly off a shelf while I was pulling a pint. Flamenco opened in April and marks the second project for new restaurateur Alex Clayton who recently won Best Spanish Restaurant award for Tasca Dali which he opened seven years ago. He now hopes to replicate this success with

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Home and Garden section, Sponsored by

M & J Mahoney + Sons Ltd Builders Merchants and DIY Centre M & J Mahoney + Sons Ltd is an independent family run business, established in 1975. Mahoney’s have a network of branches in Solihull, Birmingham & surrounding areas. Serving the Trade and Public with quality products for over 40 years! We have a wide range of goods to enable you to be able to complete any project from building a house, or tackling those odd jobs around the home or garden. Our experienced and friendly staff are always on hand to help and have the necessary knowledge to assist you with any DIY task, advise on materials, quantities and costs. We also offer a free cutting service on all timber and sheet metal, with a speedy delivery service available 6 days a week. We are committed ensuring our cutovers get great value for money and a second to none service. Joinery Shop - Free Timber cutting Service at our Solihull Branch Delivery Service - 6 days Everything you need under one roof - A one stop shop! Follow us on twitter@mahoneysdiy all the latest news and offers!

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Find Your NEW Family Home

in the West Midlands

Families looking to move into their new dream home in time for Christmas are invited to discover Miller Homes’ West Midlands developments, Regency Fields in Solihull and Miller Homes @ Myton Green in Warwick.

location of Tidbury Green in Solihull. Parents will be happy to hear that there are a number of Ofsted rated ‘outstanding’ schools in the area, including Solihull School and Tudor Grange Academy, along with excellent shopping at Touchwood shopping centre and children’s sports clubs nearby.

Each neighbourhood offers a selection of energy efficient new homes located in some of the Midlands’ most desirable locations, close to local amenities and transport links.

For more information on the Regency Fields and Miller Homes @ Myton Green developments, visit Alternatively, call into the sales centres, which are open 10:30am 5:30pm. Please head to the website for specific opening d ys.

With quick connections to the M40 and surrounding railway stations, Miller Homes @ Myton Green is ideally located for those who commute. Situated between Warwick and Leamington Spa, this stunning new development offers the best of both towns with fantastic attractions on their doorstep, including Warwick Castle and Jephson Gardens. With great places to eat, a wide range of shops and retail parks, as well as its famous medieval streets, Warwick is the perfect place to call home. Regency Fields in Solihull offers families a beautifully landscaped development surrounded by open space, in the ultra-desirable

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Hoods Flooring A trusted name in carpet fitting se vices and supplies As a long-established, family-run business, Hoods Flooring can offer you an exceptional wealth of experience and high-quality service.

Breathe life into your home this autumn with a professional floor renovatio Creating a fresh new look for your home is the perfect way to start summer. Why settle for out-dated carpets and worn down floorboards when you can have more? Together with Hoods Flooring, you can create a bespoke, practical living space by installing high quality flooring to suit your personal style, budget and taste. Founded in 1939 by Hilda Hood, Hoods Flooring was established with the aim to provide a first class flooring sup y and fitting se vice to customers throughout Birmingham and Solihull. Now in its third generation, Hoods Flooring continues to fulfil this ambition Over the years, we have established long and happy relationships with hundreds of valued customers, both

commercial and private. Our large two-storey showroom stocks a huge range of flooring product options allowing customers to select the perfect floor covering to suit their needs We supply a wide range of carpets and hard flooring including Karndean designer flooring Marmoleum tiles and rubber flooring

Transform your interiors – trust in Hoods Flooring Award-winning and certified team members Hoods Flooring’s award-winning team are all NICF (National Institute of Carpet and Floorlayers) certified We receive on going, inhouse training and attend regular manufacturer training courses to ensure we stay up-to-date with industry standards and maintain our high standards of service. Our team are fully trained and qualified to handle flooring projects specialising in providing excellent carpet fitting services and expert advice for our clients.

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Prepare your garden

for winter

The leaves falling off the trees is nature’s way of telling us its time to get the garden ready for the winter. Use our tips to prepare your garden for the colder weather. 1. Pull up dying plants or any with disease or insect problems. 2. Cut your perennials to between 4 and 6 inches. 3. Tidy paths and paving and if you have one use the pressure washer. 4. Trim shrubs and trees. 5. Repair garden structures and general maintenance on fencing. 6. Protect your delicate plants by moving pots into a conservatory or greenhouse. 7. Prepare the lawn by getting rid of moss and giving it an autumn feed. 8. Plant spring flowering bulbs be ore winter kicks in.

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Kavanagh’s Kitchens and Bathrooms is an established supplier of leading manufacturers of bathroom and kitchen products, providing a full design and installation service. The family-run business has been delivering exceptional workmanship to clients for over 28 years. Specialising in complete bathroom and kitchen refurbishments, Kavanagh’s will create bespoke expert designs to bring clients’ dreams to life, managing the whole project from start to finish With excellent workmanship, Kavanagh’s are able to mange the entire installation of a project including plastering, electrics, worktops, doors, wet rooms, shower panelling, tiling, and under floor heating. The company’s up-front quotations mean there are no hidden costs, and customers can rest assured their homes or businesses are in safe, expert hands. For enquiries, please call 0121 604 6464 or email or 32 East Meadway, Tile Cross, Birmingham, B33 0AP

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Make Your Move

In Droitwich

Just In Time

For Christmas House hunters looking to settle down in Worcestershire are invited to explore the last remaining homes at Miller Homes’ Ravens Croft development. All properties are ready to move in now, so with the help of our offers available, including the government-backed Help to Buy scheme or Part Exchange, there’s the chance to be in your dream home just in time for Christmas. Located in Droitwich Spa, Ravens Croft has just four new, four and five-bedroom properties left to own. These homes offer commanding views over open countryside and some of the best gardens on the development. With easy access to Worcester and Birmingham by train and the M5, the historic spa town of Droitwich provides the perfect combination of countryside living and big-city amenities. This season, house hunters can also discover new homes at Kings Meadow in Bidford-on-Avon, just seven miles from Shakespeare’s home town of Stratford-upon-Avon. Families and first-time buyers have a choice of two, three, four and five-bedroom homes close to the village centre. New residents can enjoy all of the charms of Stratford-uponAvon, from world class theatre at The Royal Shakespeare Company to walks along the picturesque River Avon, without the price tag of purchasing in the town. Bidford-on-Avon is an affordable alternative, offering village living with easy access to Stratford, Worcester and Birmingham. For more information on Ravens Croft and Kings Meadow, or to register your interest in the developments, visit www. Alternatively you can call into the sales centres, which are open Thursday to Monday, 10.30am 5.30pm.

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In Review:



A little while ago, I decided that I wanted to do something different. The end result was that my business partner and I went to go and do something known as “Adventure Sports”. Specifical y, we put our trust in the hands of a man called James. He was our instructor for the day, and so he would show us how to start off with two different activities. So it was with some excitement that I tried driving a hovercraft and Quad Bike Trekking for the first time Let’s talk about the hovercraft first This was quite difficult to get the hang of. It doesn’t control like a regular car, but it does drift like one. If you’ve ever gone drifting in a vehicle, then you might understand where I’m coming from. But, don’t let this fool you. I really enjoyed driving the hovercraft. It was a lot of fun once you get past the initial strangeness of the control scheme. The quad bike trekking was also incredibly fun. We both trained under the experienced yet friendly eye of James. I will say now, I can not wait to try and do it again. It was a lot of fun. Perhaps more fun than you would ever think when it came to something like this. It was exhilarating and furious all at once. Once we had made our way through the initial training phase, we were set loose on 100 acres of countryside and allowed to careen around to our heart’s content. Our exploration of the area took us through mud, water, puddles, trees, and other incredible terrain. It is hard to properly convey my feelings on this activity. There was an almost indescribable sense of freedom and adrenaline that coursed through my veins. I could not recall the last time my reflexes had been tested in such a way, and it was incredibly gratifying to accomplish minute turns and changes in my trajectory. The safety of a car was not present, and so what remained was a connection to the outdoors that you wouldn’t normally experience. I adored every second. It’s quite difficult to summarise how I felt, the things I did and what I saw. So let me try anyway. There is no doubt that the experience I had was fantastic. Being able to take control of something like a hovercraft or a quad bike was indescribably fun. I really felt like I could go anywhere and do anything, which is exactly how you’re supposed to feel with things like this. There weren’t any limits, at least none that I could see. My instructor was very easy to get on with, and knew exactly what to say to motivate me. This is an experience I could recommend to anybody, because it’s just so much fun. You really feel like you are doing something you’ve never done before, and the sensations you experience when you get the hang of it are indescribable. It would be perfect for a birthday or Christmas party for sure.

Check out the page oposite for your chance to win a quad trekking or hovercrafting session for two. 54 | Cornfield Magazin

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Popular outdoor activity centre Adventure Sports in Warwick has teamed up with Cornfield Magazin to offer one lucky reader a quad bike trekking or hovercrafting session for two people. The hovercrafting offers a truly unique experience testing balance and coordination skills as you negotiate a circular grass track riding on a cushion of air of speeds of up to 25mph. Flying a foot above the ground, the Flying Fish Snapper hovercrafts are easy to drive and yet exhilarating enough for the thrill-seeker. Participants will receive full tuition before progressing to the large course where they’re invited to put the machine through its paces. Suitable for ages 14 and over. The quad bike trekking sessions will put you at the controls of a powerful Honda Fourtax 250 machine for an hour-long trek through 100 acres of challenging countryside incorporating slopes, mud, water, dense woodland, grassland and harsh terrain.

The corporate activities are geared around fun team working challenges, including full- and half-day packages: Tradition and Targets - Country Pursuits; Speed and Safari - Adrenalin Driving; Challenge and Champion – Team building He said: “The name of our company Adventure Sports, tells you everything you need to know. We live and breathe adventure and we aim to give the best experience.

Founder Steve Richardson

“We offer amazing activities that leave you breathless and give you a sense of accomplishment that will last a lifetime.” For further details about all the activities available, visit:

It starts with brief training to assess experience levels after which trekkers will follow an experienced instructor throughout the course. Suitable for ages 16 and over. More than 50 activities at the site also include Mixed Activity events, Karting, Junior Karting, Clay Shooting (including 20 and 50 Shot Experiences for novices, Lessons and an extensive Sporting layout, Sportrap, Skeet and DTL for regular shooters, Mud & Mayhem, Axe Throwing, 4x4 Taster Sessions and Safaris, Rally Karts, Powerturn Karts, Reverse Steer Jeeps, Archery, Segways, Digger Driving, Treasure Hunts, Junior and Compact Paintball, Pistol and Rifle Target Gallery, as well as a vast selection of Team Building Activities. A new outdoor Karting track also opened earlier this year, boasting a fleet of 14 fast and powerful twin-en ine 400cc Biz Le Mans Karts, fitted with st te-of-the-art electronic De Haardt safety systems and Tag Heuer timing.


Founder Steve Richardson heads up the team which organises and delivers hundreds of events every year, catering for corporate team events and stag and hen parties as well as family groups and children’s parties.

Winner will be picked on the 6th December 2019.

Simply head to our website: and click on the competition banner to be in with a chance.

Terms and conditions: Prize participants must be aged 16 years and older for the activities; No cash alternative can be offered; Sessions must be pre-booked and redeemed by end of June 2020 and are subject to availability.

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Getting To Know

The King and I By Roz Laws

In these times of political turbulence, a trip to the theatre is just the escapism we all need. The King and I offers that in spades, with an award-winning revival of a classic musical boasting familiar songs, a top cast and beautiful costumes. But its stars point out that it could also give politicians a few lessons – and could even help solve Brexit. American-Filipino actor Jose Llana, fresh from playing the King on Broadway, is on a UK tour which comes to Birmingham’s Alexandra Theatre over Christmas. He says: “What the UK and US have in common, unfortunately, is that both of our governments are in turmoil. “To have a show where the message is about bringing people together and finding common ground and friendship is really needed right now, in both our countries. “The cultural differences between Anna and the King are massive but they find a w y.” Annalene Beechey, who plays British schoolteacher Anna Leonowens, says: “One of the mostloved songs from the show, Getting to Know You, is all about tolerance and empathy.” Jose adds: “The King and I offers lessons but also an escape. Listen to songs you know, watch a polka danced in a big dress and go home with a smile on your face.” The King and I, written by Rodgers and Hammerstein in 1951, is set in 1860s Bangkok in what was then Siam. It tells the true story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship between the King of Siam and Anna, brought by the king to teach his many wives and children in a bid to modernise. This new production has won five-star reviews and four Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival. It includes classic songs such as Shall We Dance, Getting to Know You and I Whistle a Happy Tune. Annalene, who played Anna in the West End, says: “It’s a truly family show and perfect for Christmas. It connects us to happy times as a family, watching the film with Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr. Children in the audience are transfixed. In the famous Shall We Dance number there’s another star on stage with the leads. She’s called Bertha and she’s a dress, though not just any dress. She weighs nearly three stone, has a 14ft circumference and cost £15,000. Annalene laughs: ”I’ve called her Bertha because of her girth. She’s enormous and stunning. When I first put her on, I almost collapsed under the weight. I do a lot of yoga to give me core strength. Jose really helps to hold me up.” “Everyone is waiting for that dress in that iconic scene,” smiles Jose. “You have to learn to respect Bertha – if you don’t, she takes you down!

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“But my part is relatively easy. Annalene has to dance backwards in that dress, I’m barefoot in a comfortable costume. That scene epitomises the opulence that people expect from The King and I. We have a legacy to continue, and the ghost of Mr Brynner is always hovering, so we try to do the show justice.” The King and I stays in Birmingham for the longest time on the tour, at the Alex for four weeks from December 10 to January 4. While Jose is hoping to make a whistle-stop return to America for a couple of days over Christmas, Annalene is bringing her husband, two children and her parents to the Midlands because her visit is something of a homecoming. Her father is a born and bred Coventrian from Ansty and Annalene was born there too, spending the first seven years of her life in the city before moving to Wexford in Ireland. She remembers going to Wyken Croft Primary School and visiting the canal and Coventry Cathedral. Annalene has also worked in Birmingham several times, singing with the CBSO at Symphony Hall and appearing in Beauty and the Beast at Birmingham Hippodrome. That’s where Jose will head to see his first pantomime. He says: “I’ve never seen a panto but I’ve heard so much about it. People have told me odd things, about audience participation and men dressed as women, and I’m very confused. I can’t wait, though.” This is his first time in the UK but he’s already picked up some essential English habits, such as eating a Sunday roast and going to the pub. “I love the pub culture here,” he says. “The idea of just stopping for a pint is great. If you were caught in a bar at 2pm in America, people would think you had a drinking problem or had been fired “I did The King and I on Broadway and toured it around America for two years. It’s interesting seeing how differently audiences react here. In the US it’s a show about two foreigners, but Anna is English so British audiences are on her side. I have to win them round a bit more.” The king has several wives and more than 80 children, of whom around eight are on stage, played by children as young as six. Annalene says: “The kids are amazing. They are similar ages to my children and give me a ‘mummy cuddle’ when I’m missing my kids. They are full of energy and life. We get tired but they come in with their spark and it brings out the best in us.” Jose agrees: “It’s impossible to be cynical when you’re surrounded by a dozen bright eight-year-olds. They remind us to be grateful. “It’s hard for me as a card-carrying feminist to defend the king’s polygamy, but you have to remember that in 1862 Siam, it was a political thing. To unite the country, the leader of each province would send their eldest daughter to marry the king, to join their blood lines. “He was a misogynist but Anna challenges that and I think the king comes to respect women. His first wife Lady Thiang is a force to be reckoned with in the palace. She would sort out Brexit by telling them all to grow up!” The King and I plays the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham from December 10 – January 4. For tickets, ring 0844 8713011 or go to the-king-and-i/the-alexandra-theatre-birmingham/

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PEUGEOT E-LEGEND CONCEPT CAR GETS UK PUBLIC DEBUT AT NEC CLASSIC MOTOR SHOW Peugeot’s e-Legend Concept car will make its UK debut at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show, with Discovery, this November, giving the British public their first chance to see this already iconic car up close. Hosted on the Club Peugeot UK stand in Hall 5 of Birmingham’s NEC, the e-Legend Concept is a 100 per cent autonomous, electric and connected vehicle. Launched at the Paris Motor Show, this technological advancement offers four modes of driving – two autonomous and two manual – which can be selected depending on the road and traffic conditions, as well as the driver’s preference. When the e-Legend Concept is in either of the autonomous modes, the interior configur tion changes, with the steering wheel retracting under the sound bar in order to make the 49-inch central screen fully visible. The front seats recline for extra comfort and the side armrests deploy automatically, freeing up a large storage area and an induction charging area for smartphones and other devices. The Peugeot e-Legend Concept is powered by a 100% electric power train, with the 100 kWh batteries reaching 800 Nm torque and 340 Kw

power, distributed to the four-wheel drive. This level of performance makes it possible to travel 0/100 km/h in less than four seconds and reach a maximum speed of 220Km/h. The range is 600 km according to the WLTP protocol, of which 500 km are accessible in 25 minutes thanks to a fast recharge. It cultivates the zero technological constraint mind-set by offering induction charging. Event Director, Lee Masters. “This is what the future of motoring could look like and definite y will be a future classic. It has taken months of negotiations for Club Peugeot UK to secure this incredible vehicle and we congratulate them on what will be a show-stopping centrepiece for the club’s display.” While the autonomous car will grab everyone’s attention, it will have tough competition from a very rare Peugeot 205 T16 that will also feature on the stand.

modified in some way but as a standard example it makes this car very rare, especially in the UK. Tickets are now on sale for this year’s Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show, with Discovery. For more information including ticket options and booking details, visit

In the days of the Group B World Rally Championship, any manufacturer wishing to compete had to create 200 road going examples of their proposed Group B rally cars for sale to the general public. This car is number 188 of the 200 made by Peugeot. It is a completely standard car as built to fulfil the homologation rules at the time. A lot of cars were

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Volvo XC40

T5 AWD R-Design Pro Automatic By motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay - Twitter @carwriteups Instagram @tbarnesclay

Sweden seems to radiate cool. You can see the Northern Lights from Northern Europe’s biggest country – and then there’s the food, fashion and tradition. Oh, and we can’t forget Volvo. This auto brand wasn’t so cool in years gone by. Its cars had the aerodynamics of bricks, but they were safe - and very family-oriented. The family bit hasn’t gone – indeed, the marque is producing SUVs like nobody’s business. Take the XC40 on test here. The model is chunky, yet sleek – and doesn’t resemble a brick – that’s for sure.

the matter. This is a car that’ll please not just you as the driver, but all the family. And, who knows, some of that Swedish cool might even rub off on you.

Fast Facts (XC40 T5 AWD R-Design Pro Automatic • Max speed: 140 mph • 0-62 mph: 6.5 seconds • Combined MPG: 39.8 • Engine layout: 1969cc 4-cylinder petrol turbo • Max. power (PS): 247 • CO2: 166 g/km • Price: £38,485

In R-Design trim, you get a car that has an athletic edge – but it’s the interior that gives it the advantage. Gorgeous suede-effect materials and a perfectly screwed together cabin make the XC40 a delightful place to be. The SUV will seat four adults comfortably - and five at a push. The boot is large enough for everyone’s luggage, and things like the powerful sound system make every journey a pleasure. It’s difficult to get stressed in this car, even when stuck in a queue. What’s more, should a bad thing happen, like an accident, you’re in one of the safest smaller SUVs money can buy. The drive can be dynamic as well as chilled, especially in ‘T5’ petrol turbo guise, as tested here. There is a downside to this engine, though – I never got more than late 20smpg out of it all week. Maybe it was my heavy right foot? It’s claimed to do around 39mpg. Volvo has a ‘premium’ image more than ever these days – and justifi bly so. There’s no vacuous marketing spin around this brand – it really does deliver– from quality to ride comfort, and from safety to looks. I know it’s shallow, but this is an SUV you’ll be glad to see parked outside your home. It’s not got the kind of looks only a mother could love – which can’t be said for some high-riding vehicles on the market. The XC40 isn’t a cheap package to buy or lease, and it’s expensive to run in T5 form, but you’ll still want one the moment you go for a test drive. What’s more, if your kids are anything like mine, you’ll have no choice in

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Sports By Alex Dudley

Para World Championships The world of Paralympic track and field events is ever-increasing, and this November sees the 2019 instalment of the World Championships. The ninth edition of the event will take place between the 7th and 15th November and will come alive from the United Arab Emirates. Hannah Cockroft, Libby Clegg and Richard Whitehead are among the athletes on the 42-strong British team for the global event. A total of 10 reigning world champions from London 2017 feature in the squad, including 10-time world gold medallist Hannah Cockroft, grand slam champions Hollie Arnold and Sophie Hahn and two-time Paralympic gold medallists Aled Davies and Richard Whitehead. Also among the returning world champions are Olivia Breen, Kadeena Cox, Sophie Kamlish, Sammi Kinghorn and Stef Reid. Making her return to global competition after the birth of her son, Edward, in April, is double Paralympic champion Libby Clegg, who will be guided in the T11 200m by Thomas Somers. Dan Greaves will not be competing, however, as the discus thrower has been ruled out of attending his seventh world championships due to injury.

Women Sell-Out Wembley Women’s football has captivated the country, and fans can witness the Lionesses take on Germany on their route to the European Championship in 2021. However, those that aren’t fortunate to have tickets will need to watch all the action on the BBC, as it has recently been revealed that for the first time in the history of the women’s game, the match is a sell-out at Wembley. With England ranked third in the world, the visit to the national stadium of the team placed just above them in the FIFA standings promises to be another special occasion. Head coach Phil Neville said: “This is a great boost just before the World Cup. Wembley has been a brilliant home for the Women’s FA Cup final in recent years, and we know we will have a huge crowd behind us. England previously played Germany in a 3-0 defeat at Wembley in November 2014 with a record crowd of 45,619 watching the national team’s first stand-alone game at Wembley. The stadium also played host to three matches during the 2012 Olympic Games in London including Team GB’s 1-0 defeat of Brazil in the group stage, courtesy of a Steph Houghton goal, and the United States’ 2-1 victory against Japan in the final in front of a crowd of 80,203 fans However, this will be a landmark occasion for the national side on a night that promises to smash records.

ATP Finals The curtain will come down on another memorable tennis season when the ATP finals return to London in November. The event is the second-highest tier of annual men’s tennis tournament after the four Grand Slam tournaments. And the week-long event promises to deliver its fair share of high-quality action. Players that have qualified for the event include Grand Slam winners Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Meanwhile, there could be a potential shock on the cards as Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas may have hopes of their own. The prize money for the event is approximately $8 million. However, reigning champions Alexander Zverev will not be back to defend his crown. You can catch all the action live on Sky Sports throughout the week.

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If you would like to add your info for FREE on this page, then please email the details to: If you would like your event in a black box, it’s a minimal charge of £20 per month. Then please call our sales team on 0121 796 6800 for more info.

WE NEED MORE LOCAL EVENTS. It’s completely FREE to place your event in this section. From classes, groups, shows and bootsales you can place your event here. Please email to place your event.


Come and enjoy tea and cake whilst browsing a varied selection of local artists work. Fused Glass, watercolours, mixed media art, cross stitch and jewellery is on display here along with local guest exhibitors. Dec 7th & 8th and Dec 14th & 15th. ‘Kingcot’ is a fused glass showcase, with onsite workshop where fused glass courses are available throughout the year. View All Fired Up Glass on Facebook. 07745 299457 ‘Kingcot’, Alcester Road, Dormston, Worcester, WR7 4DF (on the A422 Worcester to Stratford road, next door to Simply Alpaca)

27th Lions Festive Walk

Friday 27 December 2019 – that’s the date for this year’s Knowle and Dorridge Lions Festive Walk from Baddesley Clinton National Trust House in aid of Solihull Hospital Charity, Clic Sargent and local causes. Be sure to fill up your car by inviting all your friends and relatives for a choice of 4 sign-posted routes of between 1.4 & 9.1 miles. Visit for more details & to download the free entry form to complete and bring along on the day. Editorial enquires to Dave Carter 01527 894073

Fibrehut Spinners

meet on the last Friday of the month from 3pm - 6pm at Fibrehut, Cadbury Courtyard, Blackminster Business Park, Evesham, WR11 7RE. There is no charge and tea/coffee is free. Bring your own wheel or borrow one of ours. Beginners welcome! www.fibrehut 01386 830396

BLOSSOMFIELD PLAYERS present their Christmas production

It’s the week before Christmas and the newly refurbished Hotel Babylon has re-opened for business. What could possibly go wrong and how do Cinderella and the Godmother become involved. Come along and find out - you won’t be disappointed! TUESDAY 3 DECEMBER - SATURDAY 7 DECEMBER 2019. Performance commences 7.45pm Tickets £10 - Text message/phone 07746 636745 for bookings/enquiries or Email- blossomfieldpl yers@hotmail. com. We are located at Blossomfield Club, The Wardens, Widney Lane, Solihull B91 3JY


Interested in Photography? Want to improve your skills? We are a friendly club who meet at Dorridge Methodist Church, Mill Lane, Dorridge. Meetings take place fortnightly on Thursday evenings at 7.45 pm. Meetings comprise of visiting speakers, training evenings and member competitions. The first two meetings are free, so why not come along and see for yourself? For more info please contact Tony Albutt on 01564-782175 or visit

Personal Training

Personal Training, nutrition and lifestyle coaching in a lovely private gym on the outskirts of Henley in Arden. All ages and abilities catered for including over 50’s and pre and post-natal specialist programmes. Contact jan@ for details of our summer special offer.

Art/Adult day Classes at the Core Gallery, The Core

Thurs 10am-12pm and 12.30-2.30 pm starting in September Fri 10-12.00. Join a friendly group of artists and watch Artist Vicki Gorman demonstrate drawing and painting techniques then try them out yourself, and develop your own style. Beginners to advanced, all abilities are welcome. To book a place and to get more details you can contact the box office on 0121 704-6962 or contact Vicki on 07940483320 or email Art classes are also on Tuesdays 1pm-3pm at Central England Arts, Hampton in Arden and Mondays South Yardley Libray call Vicki for more details.

Henley Art Group

A mixed group of artisans meeting every Thursday 1.30-4.00. At Henley Baptist Church Hall. Paint/ sketch/whatever takes your fancy, or just sit and have a convivial chat. £3.00 per session paid 4 weeks in advance with coffee/ tea/biscuits included. With occasional relaxed mini tutorials and group sketching exercises inc. Still Life, Portraiture, Landscapes and Life Drawing (clothed) adding to the mix. Contact Colin Fisher 01564 794339. Or just simply stroll on up and have a chat and a cuppa.


We are a community choir, with 60 regular attendees. We have a professional musical director and accompanist though the rest of us

have varying abilities in singing. We meet Monday nights, during term time, 7.15pm - 9.30pm at the scout hut in Wythall Park. Generally, we are rehearsing for a concert or performance. Come and join us. No audition necessary. Just turn up from Monday 10 September onwards or contact


Come and give Bowls a try - find us o f Eldorado Close in Studley at B80 7HJ from the end of April - you can be sure of a warm welcome at our Club sessions on Tuesdays 2 - 4pm and Thursdays 6 - 8pm or come to our Open Day on Sunday 19 May 2019 from 10 am. For further details visit our website: www.

Solihull Embroiderers

We meet 1st Tuesday monthly 7.30pm at Solihull Methodist Church Hall for talks on creative textiles and hold Saturday workshops. Open to everyone interested in stitch - regardless of ability. For info: www.solihullembroiderersguild. or email: solihullsec@

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Modern Luxury, Classic Feel


01527 519 444

Buildland Ltd, Oxleasow Road, Redditch B98 0RE

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01527 519 444

Buildland Ltd, Oxleasow Road, Redditch B98 0RE

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Profile for Cornfield Magazine

Cornfield Magazine November 2019 Worcestershire Edition  

Hello and welcome to your latest edition of Cornfield Magazine. November is here! And with it, we bring you a round up of the very best of t...

Cornfield Magazine November 2019 Worcestershire Edition  

Hello and welcome to your latest edition of Cornfield Magazine. November is here! And with it, we bring you a round up of the very best of t...