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Seing new to do...

Make 2021 the year you try a different hobby

Mind, body and spirit The ultimate guide to your personal wellbeing

Sale shopping for your home

Now is the perfect time for a new look indoors


ENJOY EVERY MINUTE! THE BEST GUIDE TO LOCAL EVENTS IN JAN AND FEB Follow our feathered friends How to take part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch Get ready to go Plan a much-needed holiday for 2021 From medic to maker One woman’s creative career change Nice ’n’ spicy Try our easy recipe for a tasty winter warmer


h t i a F e l tt i l a e v Ha Shire talks baby and album news with star Paloma Faith

A day out at a safari park, and a fun-filled trip to GreenWood Forest Park! Turn to page 113


Appealing architecture in red, red Ruthin The home of the Olympics, Much Wenlock


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Managing Director Dan Bromage Editor Kate Speedie Chief Subeditor Jo Williams Subeditor Chris Miller Staff Writers Eluned Watson Helen Gordon Adele Barry Designers Ella Knight Meryl McIntosh Advertising Design Sarah Norman Sales & Marketing Pauline Jones Tess Montero Susanne Lehmann Distribution Manager Paul Howard Finance & Accounts David Kynaston Nicky Kynaston Jane Osman Contributors John Hargreaves, Gloria Mans, P Parker, Clive Williams, Helen Cooke, Pip Gale, Lizzie Deery, Deborah Law, Jennifer McKinney, Bob Hickman


ere it is, at last – the new year we’ve all been waiting for! We’re not sure we’ve ever felt as keen to put a year behind us, but now it’s 2021 we can all look forward to the brighter months ahead. With a vaccine in circulation, we can hope for an imminent return to normality after some very difficult times. We’re so grateful to have had our loyal readers with us throughout the past year, and we hope you’re all feeling positive and ready for the year ahead. With that in mind, in this issue we’re taking a close look at our wellbeing – physical, emotional and spiritual – to discover ways to get the balance right and make sure our minds and bodies are in the best place to feel positive. Have a read, and make sure to be kind to yourself as you head into 2021. The new year is also a good time to consider how you spend your spare time. If you’re thinking about taking up a new hobby or just fancy trying your hand at something different, we’ve rounded up various pastimes and activities you might like to try – we’ve included all sorts, so there’s something for everyone! If you’d like to spend your time making sure your home is exactly how you’d like it, we’re also looking at the local companies and businesses that can help you. With January sales all around, there’s no better time to go for a new look. Elsewhere this issue, we’ve also included all your favourite sections, including books, art, fashion, health and beauty, pets and wildlife and gardening – everything you’ve come to expect from Shire. Enjoy! IN THIS ISSUE

Email Shire magazine editorial@shiremagazine.co.uk advertising@shiremagazine.co.uk

Feeling good Discover how you can boost your mental wellbeing on page 32

Shire Magazine PO Box 276 Oswestry Shropshire SY10 1FR Tel: 01691 661270 SUBSCRIPTION RATES ONE YEAR – £19.95 TWO YEARS – £34.95

Hobby time

Looking for a new pastime? We round up some of our favourites on page 40

www.shiremagazine.co.uk Print ISSN 2514-3913 Online ISSN 2514-3921

SHIRE MAGAZINE is published bi-monthly by Superstar Publishing Ltd. Every effort is made to ensure that the information and advice contained in these articles is correct and appropriate, but no liability or responsibility for loss or damage to any person acting or refraining from action in reliance on or as a result of anything omitted from such articles can be, or is accepted by, the authors, the publishers, their employees or any other persons connected with Superstar Publishing Ltd. Views expressed by contributors to Shire magazine are not necessarily those of the magazine or of Superstar Publishing Ltd and should be attributed to the authors concerned. Save as expressively permitted by law no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written authority of the Publisher, acting for Shire magazine. Privacy Policy published online at shiremagazine.co.uk © 2021 Superstar Publishing Ltd, all rights reserved. Registered Number: 10604188.

Events near you Our guide to what’s on across the region in January and February, from page 6

GET IN TOUCH! We want to hear from you…


Tell us about your upcoming events. Just remember that we work in advance, so 1st February is the deadline for events you’d like to feature in our March/April issue.



Reader poems Do you like penning the odd line? So do we! Send us your poems – we’d love to include them on our poetry page. See page 109 for more.

Share your reader stories. Have you got an extraordinary or exciting story to tell? We’d like to feature it in the next issue. Send us an email and don’t forget to include a picture or two as well.

We have lots of regulars readers can contribute to:

with their name and anything else you want to tell us. See page 77 for further details.

Reader photos Taken a great shot recently? Email your best effort and you might get picked! See page 88.

Your pets Is your pet the love of your life? Send a snap, along

A free copy of Shire delivered to your home! To help readers during this difficult time, if you’re having trouble getting to the supermarket and would prefer a copy delivered to you at home, please just send us an A4 SAE with £1.83 postage to Shire Magazine, PO Box 276, Oswestry, Shropshire SY10 1FR. We will send you the latest issue by return.

Get social Follow, like and friend us on Facebook and Instagram to be the first in line for event updates, competitions and more. Visit our website online at www.shiremagazine.co.uk and send submissions and information by email to editorial@shiremagazine.co.uk.

TURN TO PAGE 110 for our fantastic subscription offer!

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Contents JA N UA RY/ F E B R UA RY 2 02 1 6 What’s On Check out the events happening near you in north and mid Wales, Cheshire, the Wirral and Shropshire PAG E 74

16 Ruthin In our first focus on a local hidden gem, we visit the pretty Denbighshire town of Ruthin

Products for pets

31 Paloma Faith The award-winning musician discusses her forthcoming album – and her forthcoming baby

PAG E 3 1 Paloma Faith

COVER FEATURE 32 All Being Well Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual approaches to improve your wellbeing – and feel healthier and happier

PAG E 6 PAG E 6 1

What’s on near you

38 Winter Wonderland There’s nothing better than a winter walk to lift the spirits!

Fancy furnishings

COVER FEATURE 40 Do Something Different Looking for a new hobby? We round up some of the activities you could try this year COVER FEATURE 47 Homes & Interiors We reveal the local companies that can help if you’re looking to revamp your surroundings in 2021, plus the latest news from the region’s housebuilders PAG E 4 0

PAG E 9 2

Find a new pastime

61 Hibernation Time Cosy home furnishings to help you stay snug this season

Men’s fashion

PAG E 6 2 PAG E 9 1

Local delicacies

Winter warmers

86 Arts & Crafts We talk a local doctor who discovered a passion for jewellery making, plus our selection of your bright and colourful photographs of nature 91 Wrap Up Warm Strike a pose this winter with great coats and accessories 92 Beating The Blues Choose the right hue to lift your mood this winter 94 Active Our resident rambler unveils a great winter walk, and find out more about a very different kind of adventure – dog sledding! 95 Motoring Bob Hickman reviews the Nissan Juke Tekna 97 Charities & Volunteering A look at the organisations that do so much for so many good causes across the area 99 Schools It’s time for a new term, so take a look at what’s going on in the world of education with our round-up of news from schools and colleges across the region

62 Food & Drink One Shropshire chef shares a delicious recipe, plus how to make the most of wine tastings

106 Retirement Take a tour of a new luxury care home in Chester, plus how one company is using tech to keep loves ones in touch

66 Much Wenlock A perfectly placed town in the heart of Shropshire

107 Meet The Expert A specialist in public health from Wrexham Glyndwr University

67 20 Questions Musician and pilot Allan Dawson answers Shire’s searching queries

108 Books & Poetry Meet the local author who has visited every beach in Wales, while we review the new releases and publish some of your poetry

69 Gardening We reveal a great guide to some of Wales’s amazing gardens, plus a beautiful flower arrangement to brighten your doorstep 72 Health & Beauty Expert tips on how to boost your levels of vitamin D 73 Green Living Environmentally-friendly DIY shopping made easy

PAG E 3 2

81 Holidays Now’s the perfect time to plan ahead or even invest in a holiday home of your own with our look at the area’s local caravan parks, luxury lodges and more

110 Subscribe To Shire! Take out a subscription and get every issue delivered direct to your door – you can even set it up on the Shire website! 111 Letters We hand over to you, our amazing readers, with a selection of the lovely letters you’ve sent in to us once again

74 Life Is Better With Pets We round up some top treats for the animals in your life

112 What’s In Your Stars Check out what’s coming your way in 2021 with our horoscope forecast by Gloria Mans

77 Wildlife & Pets Discover how to take part in this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch, plus your lovely pet pictures

113 Competitions Don’t miss your chance to win some fabulous prizes in our exclusive Shire competitions

Wellbeing focus January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 5

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3rd January, Pop Up Vinyl Record Shop, Gray-Thomas, Caernarfon Browse over 5,000 records, including 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, rock, pop, prog rock, indie, Cymraeg, blues, metal, punk, new wave, Northern soul, folk, jazz, reggae, electronic, goth, hip-hop and more. Records are available from as little as £1. Social distancing rules apply. 10am-4pm. gwyneddrecordcollector @gmail.com

8th January, Serenity Evening, Bodnant Welsh Food, Colwyn Bay Join this monthly session of calm and rediscover a feeling of serenity. You’ll be shown gentle movement and mindful breathing, as well as acupressure points to help stimulate qi along the meridian pathways. 5.30pm. £12, including Chinese tea. www.bookwhen. com/omyoganorthwales

Legendary renditions at Rhyl Pavilion The Legends Of American Country Show, 13th February Showcasing highly acclaimed tributes to Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Don Williams, Patsy Cline and Jim Reeves among others, this show brings you a fantastic night of hand clapping, toe tapping country classics. Featuring four fantastic singers and a superb live band, this award-winning show is sure to transport you all the way to Nashville and back. 7.30pm. Tickets £22.50.

Say it in silver Make a silver ring or bangle in two workshops running at Rhug Estate, Corwen on 24th January. The sessions, run by Noctua Jewellery, will teach you traditional silversmithing techniques and are suitable for complete beginners. The ring workshop costs £60 and the bangle workshop costs £80. www.noctua.co.uk/workshops

The Wind In The Willows, 27th February – POSTPONED until 24th April Pack your picnics and join Ratty, Mole, Badger and the irrepressible Toad as they embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Immersion Theatre brings its trademark energy to the riverbank with heaps of interaction, stunning costumes, toe-tapping music and larger-than-life characters. 7.30pm. Tickets £14 adults and £10 children. www.rhylpavilion.co.uk

GHOSTS OF GWRYCH If you think you have the guts to brave a night in a haunted castle, head to Gwrych Castle for a ghost hunt on 30th January and 27th February. The tours will take visitors to the chapel, bakehouse and coach house before continuing on to the Countess’s Tower, which is said to be haunted by the Countess herself. The events run from 8pm to 1.30am and tickets cost £30 per person. To book, visit www. gwrychcastle.co.uk/ghosts.

Still feeling festive? •

8th January, Digital Storytelling, online Learn how to create a digital story using the Adobe Spark app via your smartphone or tablet. Record treasured memories and experiences for posterity with this free online workshop run by Digital Communities Wales and DVSC Denbighshire. 10am. For Apple users, there is a workshop teaching you to use the PowerDirector app on 5th February.

8th January, Navigation: Gaining Confidence with a Map and Compass, Snowdonia Perfect for beginners, or as a next step for those already experienced with a map and compass, this course will give you the confidence to plan your own adventures and get outdoors. Choose the one-day course from £60 per person or select a second day when booking the first from £40. 9am-4pm. www.breese adventures. co.uk

Catch the end of the Christmas season at Theatr Clwyd, Mold, with three familyfriendly shows runing until 3rd January. Once Upon A Christmas Festive stories of joy and hope. Showtimes vary. From £5. The Panto That Nearly Never Was An hour-long, rock ’n’ roll, panto-esque show. Showtimes vary. From £10. The Ice Witch The tale of Vasilisa, who is kidnapped by the Ice Witch. 11.30am & 2.30pm. From £5. www.theatrclwyd.com

Racing at Bangor The first fixture of 2021 at Bangoron-Dee racecourse takes place on 14th January. Currently, races are held behind closed doors and available to watch on Sky Sports, but it’s hoped punters will be able to return soon. For updates, visit www. bangorondeeraces.co.uk.

A special message from Shire Once more this issue we’ve made every effort to bring you the most up-to-date details of the fabulous, fun activities you can do across the Shire region. At the time of writing, all the events listed over the following pages are still scheduled to take place unless stated otherwise, but please check with the venue by phone or on the web before travelling for the most recent updates. And of course, when attending any of these great events in our wonderful local area, please ensure you follow the latest government guidance to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

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Wands at the ready!

A spell-binding new adventure game is coming to Wrexham on the 23rd January – and your team of mysterysolving wizards can join the fun! This enchanting outdoor adventure will take your team on a magical journey across Wrexham as you work together to

DID YOU KNOW? Prizes are available for fastest team, best unravel the mystery, solve the puzzles and crack the case! fancy dress Tickets cost £36 for a team of six, and more and children play free. The adventure unfolds via the CluedUpp app and the game is self-guided on the day. For more information, visit www.cluedupp.com.

Beat the January blues in Portmeirion

If you need a pick-me-up after the festive season, head to Portmeirion between 1st and 16th January for a luxurious stay for two. The beautiful Italianate village is offering visitors a two-course dinner, bed and breakfast deal for just £105 per night in its January Blues Package. The offer is based on two people sharing a standard double or twin room. To book, email stay@portmeirion.wales or visit www.portmeirion.wales.

A new outlook

Run with the sheep

Get 2021 off to a great start with an energising weekend on Anglesey from 8th to 10th January. At the Outfit Winter Weekender, which takes place a stone’s throw from Porth Ddafarch beach, you can enjoy a wide range of activities including trail running, hiking, Pilates, beach workouts, orienteering and HillFit sessions. There are various accommodation options, including glamping pods, yurts, and motorhomes. For details, visit www. out-fit.co.uk.

Take to the hills and follow paths created by sheep at the Clwydian Sheeptracks fell race on 21st February. The challenging 27-30km event along the Clwydian Range covers 1,500m of ascent and offers a wide choice of routes but the most efficient racing line follows the natural lines created by the Welsh mountain sheep. Runners need to be fully self-sufficient throughout the race. www. clwydian fellrace.org

On the buses Take a ride on a vintage bus between Wrexham and Chester on 1st January. The free heritage service will run every 15 minutes following the Chester to Wrexham route 1. Buses operate between 9am and 6pm, and all vehicles will serve all normal bus stops along the route. Donations will be taken in aid of two local hospices. To find out more email george.d5310@gmail.com.

Sled dog riding in Conwy Set within the beautiful forest trails of Bwlch Hafod Einion near the Alwen reservoir, Mynydd Sleddog Adventures has a team of 16 racing dogs including 11 Siberian huskies, two Scandinavian hounds, two Alaskan huskies and a German short-haired pointer. You can watch the dogs being

harnessed and then enjoy a ride on the Rowerland passenger rig with a six-dog team. This experience is suitable for people aged 14 and over. Children aged six to 13 can book a Mini Mushers Adventure, and there are also meet sessions that allow people of all ages to get close to the race team. The centre is open throughout January and


9th January, Puppy School, Black Park, Chirk An essential sixweek course designed to get your puppy off to a great start in life and give you the perfect partnership. Everyone who books a class will be sent a puppy pack from Nature’s Menu, including free trial packs of healthy food and treats as well as a training manual. £96. 10.30-11.30am. info@beastlythoughts.co.uk

15th January, Pen-Y-Lan Ghost Hunt, Wrexham Spend a night in this beautiful TudorGothic building and witness some spooky, paranormal activity. Investigate the creepy cellar that once held prisoners, explore the grand hallway, the servants’ quarters and the outbuildings, experience glass divination, table tipping and a group human pendulum experiment. 9pm-2am. £45. www.haunted-houses.co.uk

16th January, UFO Hunting in the Berwyns, Llandrillo Enjoy a 10-mile walk and look for evidence of the UFOs seen by residents of Llandrillo on a cold January night in 1974. The walk takes in the summit of Cadair Bronwen and Cadair Berwyn, which has stunning views over Snowdonia as well as the stone circle of Moel Ty Uchaf. 10am-4pm. www.walesoutdoors.co.uk

20th-25th January, Winter Yoga & Hiking Retreat, BlaenauFfestiniog Enjoy guided hikes, daily yoga sessions, great hearty seasonal food and meditation in a retreat that’s guaranteed to recharge your batteries. Prices start from £495, which includes five nights’ and six full days’ full board. www.bluevanlady.com

February while the weather is cold. To book your adventure, visit www.mynydd sleddogadventures.com

23rd January & 13th February, Graffiti Club, Venue Cymru, Llandudno Get creative and learn the skills you need to design and create your own graffiti work. Suitable for ages eight to 14. 1.30pm-4pm. £7. www. venuecymru. co.uk

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29th January, Steak Night, Bala Golf Club Enjoy a delicious sirloin, T-bone or gammon steak with all the trimmings! The steak night, which runs on the last Friday of every month, caters for up to 30 people socially distancing in the clubhouse. Tables for up to six must be booked in advance. 7pm. www.golffbala.co.uk

30th-31st January, Winter Skill Course Snowdonia, Bethesda Gain all the skills required to enjoy some adventures in the snow. This course covers how to use an ice axe and crampons, movement on snow and ice, how to plan a winter mountain day and what to do in an emergency. £100. www. mountain-expertise.co.uk

Let the fun be gin Raise a glass to your favourite tipple at the Rhyl Gin Festival on 30th January. The event, run by Gin Festivals In Wales, works with local craft gin distillers as well as small-batch gin producers from all over the UK to bring you a fantastic selection of small batch, hand-crafted gins.

Get creative with clay Get your hands dirty on a five-week clay workshop at the Tân y Ddraig Ceramic Café in Conwy. The course, which begins on 13th January, is open to all levels and costs £100, including materials, tools and firing. www.tanyddraig.co.uk

6th February, Family Dance Project, Venue Cymru, Llandudno This workshop for ages two to 10 uses dance to engage with people of all ages. Run by Emma-Jane Sutcliffe and Transitions Edge Dance Company, the sessions are fun and inclusive for parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings. Booking essential. Free. 1.30pm-4.30pm. www.venuecymru.co.uk

12th-14th February, Yoga Retreat, Trigonos, Caernarfon Rebalance, de-stress and unwind with a yoga getaway. There will be energising morning yoga to kick-start the day and a restorative yin class in the late afternoon as well as pranayama practices and a gong/sound bath. £315 including luxury accommodation, yoga tuition and organic vegetarian food. www.traceyyogamassage. co.uk/yoga-retreats-wales

14th February, Valentine’s Day at Dylan’s, Llandudno, Criccieth and Menai Bridge Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a very special sharing menu that includes some of Dylan’s most popular and delicious dishes. The special menu costs just £25 per person for a three-course dinner and a glass of prosecco. www.dylans restaurant.co.uk

DID YOU KNOW? In 1726, London had 1,500 working stills and there were 6,287 places selling gin other bubbles,

For just £10, gin lovers can enjoy a welcome gin liquor, a branded glass to take home, a gin guide, bag and pen, complimentary artisan tapas, live music and, of course, gin sampling! There will also be a games corner and a fizz bar serving prosecco and

all in a lovely gin party setting with retro deck chairs, soft cotton bunting and vintage décor. Sessions run from 1pm to 5pm and 7pm to 11pm. For more information, visit www.ginfestivalsinwales.co.uk.

Set the pace in Rhyl

Stunning stitching Quiltfest, which takes place in Llangollen, has moved online to bring you a virtual exhibition from 8th to 19th February. Expect galleries, online workshops and links to a selection of traders presenting their latest fabrics. www.quiltfest.org.uk

Enjoy a flat, fast course – perfect for PBs – when Rhyl’s popular 10-mile run returns on 20th February. The event begins at 10am, with a fun run at 9.15am. All entrants receive a medal and entry costs £26. To find out more visit www.runwales.com.

Hike to the summit

See some stunning parts of north Wales while blowing away the cobwebs on the Aber Falls and Snowdon Hiking Weekend from 23rd to 24th January. Enjoy a beautiful two-and-a-half-hour hike on the Saturday, viewing some of the region’s majestic waterfalls, then stay overnight at the beautiful Caernarfon Marina before taking on the main six-hour Snowdon hike on the Sunday. The weekend costs just £85 per person, including the hotel stay. For more information, visit www.themountaincoach.com.

Get set, grow! Treborth Botanic Garden in Bangor has a Gardening for Wellbeing Club, which runs from 10am to 12.30pm and 1pm to 3pm every Tuesday from 5th January. Connect with nature, meet others, gain work experience and learn how to grow and cook fruit and veg. All ages welcome. To book, call 07799 566533 or email info@wildelements.org.uk.

Fine art in Anglesey Oriel Mon, Anglesey, has a number of exhibitions running this winter. From 16th January to 28th February you can view the sketches of Wini Jones Lewis in Life Is Not Black And White. Until 21st February, you can also see the work of Aimee Louise Jones, which focuses on the crow family. Finally, don’t miss George Cockram: A Forgotten Victorian Artist, looking at a former resident artist of Anglesey, which runs until 7th March. For opening times and more details, visit www.orielmon.org.

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events & shows

FOR 2021

In the only What’s On guide for North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Shropshire and the Wirral worth reading! 2021 will be the year of returning to normal, we are all very much looking forward to the return of events and shows in all the fantastic venues and attractions in our region. Shire gets you: • 100,000 local readers • Two month’s covered in each issues • Editorial coverage guaranteed

Get in touch: editorial@shiremagazine.co.uk 01691 661270

21/12/2020 14:55


Tributes live at Venue Cymru Whitney: Queen Of The Night, 14th February – POSTPONED until 7th May 2022 Following a run of hit West End performances, Whitney: Queen Of The Night is heading to Llandudno to celebrate the music of one of the greatest singers of our time. Fans will be blown away by three decades of nostalgic hits, including “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, “One Moment In Time”, “Saving All My Love” and more. 7.30pm. Tickets from £25.50.

The Sound Of Springsteen, 20th February – POSTPONED until 20th August 2021 With a passion for the work of “The Boss”, this eight-piece tribute band bring their years of live performance and recording experience to rock you with Bruce Springsteen’s greatest hits. You can expect songs including “Born In The USA”, “Glory Days”, “Streets Of Philadelphia” and many more. 7.30pm. Tickets £27.50. www.venuecymru.co.uk

Most Haunted at Ruthin Castle

15th-16th February, Introduction to the Fundamentals of Leatherworking, Wernog Wood, Ruthin Learn how to sew a basic saddle stitch, lay out a pattern for marking and cutting, dye and treat leather and prepare edges for finishing. You’ll build either a large clutch handbag, a belt with solid brass hardware or a A5 notebook cover. £240. www.wernogwood. co.uk/leatherworking

Join Peter Rabbit on a winter adventure

Celebrating lockdown creativity

Enjoy the magic of Peter Rabbit with a fun trail at Erddig until 10th January. Each trail costs £2 and includes an activity pack, pencil, certificate and reward badge. The trail is held within the garden, which is open from 11am to 4pm every day. Normal admission prices apply and booking is recommended. www. nationaltrust.org.uk/erddig

Ty Pawb is displaying the Ty Pawb Open exhibition – which has the theme “creativity during lockdown” – across both its galleries. Slots are available for household bubbles to view the exhibition from Wednesday to Saturday. Those who can’t make it to the gallery can see a fully interactive virtual tour online. www.typawb.wales

FWarne & Co Ltd

The Village Bakery Half Marathon hope to returns on 14th February to Wrexham, with a smaller field. The super-quick race is popular with the region’s fastest runners as well as those who are tackling the distance for the first time. www.run cheshire.com


20th February, No Time To Live Murder Mystery Event, St George’s Hotel, Llandudno Put your sleuthing skills to the test while enjoying a delicious three-course meal at this spy spoof farcical murder mystery event. Evil mastermind Herr Otto Matic has disposed of his arch-enemy – but things aren’t as simple as they seem! 6pm. £40. www.stgeorgeswales.co.uk

Join the Most Haunted crew from the hit TV series and go ghost hunting at Ruthin Castle Hotel! The stars will be heading to Ruthin on 23rd January and 13th February, giving you the chance to get up close and personal with the Most Haunted team while searching for paranormal activity. Chat to Yvette Fielding, Karl Beattie and Stuart Torevell, try your hand at table tipping, ouija board and human pendulum, tour the castle from the tower to the dungeons, use ghost hunting equipment to capture paranormal activity and expect a night filled with fun and scares! The night runs from 9pm to 1am and costs from £69 per person. To find out more and to book, visit www.mosthauntedexperience.com.

A fast and flat half marathon


Opera in isolation

Get running in Ruthin

If you’ve been missing opera in lockdown, head to Welsh National Opera’s website where you can watch a new version of Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine free of charge until 25th April. Filmed “as live” under social distancing guidelines, the production is set during an intimate Zoom party at L’s studio flat, during which L receives a phone call from her lover who is ending their relationship. Witness the range of emotions experienced by L, from joy and desire to devastation and deep despair. www.wno.org.uk/humaine

Dust off your trainers – the Ruthin 5k and 10k events return on 21st February. The races, which set off from Ruthin Leisure Centre, offer something for everyone, including a waymarked and measured route, free parking, excellent facilities and some truly inspiring running. Both routes take you through stunning countryside before returning to the leisure centre. To find out more, visit www.bespoke fitnessand events.co.uk.

21st February, Candlelit Yoga, Bodnant Welsh Food, Colwyn Bay Enjoy an oasis of calm in this slow and mindful mat-based yoga class, with seated meditation and a long yoga nidra. 7pm. £14. www.book when.com/omyoganorthwales

25th February, Wild at Heart: Women’s Circle, The Forge, Corwen Spend an evening by the fire with a community of like-minded women. The evening begins with a short yoga nidra, followed by a brief session of slow yoga. The rest of the evening will be used to share, journal and set intentions for the month ahead. £18. www.lovinglifeinwellies.co.uk

28th February, Nature of Snowdonia: Environmental workshop, Devil’s Kitchen Snowdonia, Bangor Spend a day out on the hills asking key questions like: What grows here and why? Why is the geology here so complex? Did the ice really shape these mountains? This course will answer all these questions and more. 10am-4pm. £45. mike@ mikeraine.co.uk

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1st January, Village Tour, Elan Valley Visitor Centre Learn about the history of the Caban Coch Dam, the workers’ village and more on this one-mile walk. 2pm. www.elanvalley.org.uk

1st January, New Year’s Day Walk, Llanwrtyd Wells Recover from the excesses of New Year’s Eve with an eight-mile guided walk starting at 11am from the town square. Just turn up and go! www.green-events.co.uk

2nd January & 6th February, Monthly Meditation Session, The Bleddfa Centre, Knighton These drop-in meditation sessions give you the opportunity to relax and reconnect with yourself. Teas and coffees are provided and Caffi Celf is open for lunch and snacks. 11am. Suggested donation £3-£5. www.bleddfacentre.org

7th January, Volunteers’ Fair, Cletwr, Machynlleth Cletwr is a multi award-winning social enterprise in Tre’r-ddol that’s keen to hear from anyone who can spare a couple of hours a week to help out. Whether you fancy working in the shop, helping in the café or kitchen, gardening, organising exhibitions, helping with events or doing accounts, there are opportunities for everyone. All ages welcome. 1.30pm-3pm. www.cletwr.com

9th January, Winter Bird Walk, Llangasty Bird expert and county recorder Andrew King leads a walk along the shore of Llangorse Lake. Bring binoculars and see what you can spot! Booking essential. Contact 07957 292235 or email p.hill@welshwildlife.org. 9.15am-11.30am.

9th January, Face Painting Workshop, Bliss Hair, Beauty & Wellbeing, Aberystwyth Practise a set of four beautiful designs, get acquainted with brush techniques, and learn about health and safety, tools and more. Noon. £100. www.facebook. com/funtasticnets

Musical delights at the Globe at Hay Mitchell & Vincent, 18th February The folk duo from Dorset and Somerset bring traditional and contemporary styles on fiddle and guitar to folk tunes and songs from around the British Isles. 8pm. Tickets £5. The Harcourt Players, 19th February The Players perform their own contemporary scores for classic silent movies from the early 1900s. Watch the 1922 cult classic Nosferatu

while the musicians create an eerie soundscape. 7pm. Tickets from £6. Mischa & His Merry Men, 27th February An energetic and compelling performance with uplifting, socially charged originals. 8pm. Tickets from £8. www.globeathay.org

DID YOU KNOW? The Black Mountains were named by the Saxons, who saw them from the east

GET OFF THE BEATEN TRACK Discover the freedom of trail running with the Black Mountains Trail Running & Navigation Weekend from 22nd to 24th January. Spend time with fellow runners and learn new skills or enhance existing ones while staying in the beautiful bunk house of PerthY-Pia at the base of the Black Mountains. Enjoy a two-night stay with half board, brush up on your navigation skills, get support

from a team of highly qualified trainers, gain confidence with trail running and get out into the hills to enjoy time off the beaten track. To find out more and to book, visit www. limitlesstrails.co.uk.

Lambing live at Cantref Farm Park


Spring is a very busy time of the year at Cantref, with new arrivals every day in the lambing barn. As well as lambing, Cantref Adventure Farm also has all your favourite activities on offer, including pony rides, pet handing, children’s activities, rides and play. www.cantref.com

Bach and the Romantics online Hear Jayson Gillham, winner of the Montreal International Music Competition, present an hour-long recital of Bach and the Romantics online. The recital, which was released on 16th December by Hay Music, includes music from Schubert, Liszt, Busoni and Brahms as well as Bach, and is available to view as many times as you wish until 16th June for just £7.50. Australian-British Gillham has emerged as one of the finest pianists of his generation. His recent concerto highlights include performances with the Royal Philharmonic, London Philharmonic and the English Chamber Orchestra. To hear his performance, visit www.haymusic.org.

The Bleddfa Centre continues its creative programme in 2021 with two new exhibitions. From 7th to 31st January see Altered States, a collage by Sharon Hall Ship, who lives and works in mid Wales. From 5th to 28th February, the artists’ group Abstract Edge brings its range of works to Bleddfa. The centre is open 11am to 4pm, Thursday to Sunday. www.bleddfacentre.org

Make memories at Llanerchaeron Blow off the cobwebs with some winter fun at Llanerchaeron in Ceredigion. The elegant Georgian villa will be open from 17th to 21st February, with the National Trust’s 50 Things To Do Before You Turn 11¾ booklets available, helping your kids to get closer to nature. There will be spotter trails and balance bikes available to ride around on. You can also wrap up warm and enjoy a wintry walk around the farm and gardens. To book your timed entry slot visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/llanerchaeron.

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On your bike! Gain confidence on your bike and learn the level 2 course on 10th January DID YOU new skills, whatever your level, with a and 14th February to gain the skills KNOW? series of courses at Coed-y-Brenin. to bunny hop and ride drop-offs with Coed-y-Brenin is Those new to mountain biking confidence. Or join the level 3 course the UK’s first ever on 20th February, which takes all the or looking to improve can join the dedicated level 1 course on 9th January and skills you’ve learned and puts them mountain bike 13th February, which teaches the into practice on tougher terrain. trail centre foundation skills needed to take your All the courses, run by Pedal MTB, riding to the next level. Those looking take place on the trails of Coed-yto ride more smoothly and efficiently can join Brenin and cost £90. www.pedalmtb.co.uk

Enjoy a taste of excellence Treat yourself to an evening of decadence at a Tasting Evening at Garthmyl Hall on 30th January. Talullah’s Catering will be serving delicious dishes from its revered menu and you can sample them in the beautiful grand ballroom. Tickets cost £50 and include canapés followed by a five-course supper. Email hello@ garthmylhall.co.uk.

Indulge your creative side Relax and let your creativity flow on a Creative Retreat at Gilaffes, Crickhowell from 5th to 7th February. Open to aspiring and established writers, artists and craftspeople, as well as their partners, this weekend allows you to enjoy a stunning setting, wonderful food, the company of other creative souls, and a huge range of fabulous workshops. To find out more, visit www.beaconsretreats.com.

JOHN ADAMS LIVE IN CARDIGAN Spend the evening in the company of singer-songwriter John Adams when he visits Cardigan’s Cellar Bar on 18th February. Adams’ atmospheric piano playing complements his impressive vocal ability, and he earns the undivided attention of the listener with his emotive and heartfelt narratives. Originally from Aberdare, Adams began his career busking. He has since gone on to support household names such as Take That, Lemar and Katherine Jenkins, as well as performing at some of the UK’s largest festivals. He’ll be performing tracks from his 2018 album, You Never Know Who’s Listening, and his latest release, No White Lies. Tickets cost £12. www.facebook.com/thecellarbarcardigan

TAKE A HIKE FROM LLANWRTYD WELLS Join the annual Lord Crawshaw Memorial Walk on 6th February and choose from a 12- or 20mile hike along waymarked routes, starting at Llanwrtyd Square. There is a badge for all who finish plus spectacular scenery, good company and the warmest of welcomes. www.green-events.co.uk

Sustainable solutions online

Explore climate change solutions with the Zero Carbon Britain live online course on 27th and 28th January, provided by the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Machynlleth. The course runs from 9.30am to 5pm and costs £75. For details, visit www. cat.org.uk.


13th January, Felting Focus, Online Craft and Wellbeing Group These fortnightly Zoom sessions are aimed at adults of any age who are shielding in Powys. Artist Jane Hunter leads participants through different creative activities. Each participant will be sent a free felting kit, including all the materials and tools you need to get started. 11am12.30pm. Free. To sign up visit www.artsconnection.org.uk/ felting-focus or email sioned@ artsconnection.org.uk.

14th January, Willow Hurdle Making, Machynlleth Learn about coppicing and willow management on this course. The material will be used to make a small woven willow panel you can take home. 10am-2pm. £75, www.crabbandcompany.co.uk

15th-17th January, Basic Survival Course, Brecon Beacons Learn the skills necessary to survive in the wilderness, based on military survival training and concentrating on shelter, fire, water and food. A degree of hardship will be involved! £100. dean4761@outlook.com

Get artistic at home The Andrew Logan Museum of Sculpture is welcoming visitors back in Berriew. But if you can’t visit, you can bring a little of the museum into your home with a Home Heroes Crafting Kit? The kits, which cost £6.50 plus postage and are based on the museum’s popular workshops, contain everything you need to become an artist in your own home. shop.andrewlogan.com

30th-31st January, NNAS Bronze Navigator Award, Newtown Taking place in the beautiful countryside around Newtown, Powys, this enjoyable two-day course will give you all the skills to navigate with confidence. Accommodation is available from £40 per night. www.brynwalking.co.uk

3rd February, Group Stargazing, Brecon Beacons Visitor Centre, Libanus Join a group of like-minded individuals and enjoy the dark skies of Wales. You will be accompanied by astronomers who will guide you around the night sky from constellations to nebula, learning the mythology and science of astronomy. No experience is needed and all astronomical equipment will be provided. 7pm-9pm. £20. www.darksky walestraining services.co.uk

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Musical theatre course in Aberystwyth If you’ve ever fancied joining a chorus line, join HAKA Entertainment when it returns to Aberystwyth Arts Centre for a three-day workshop leading up to a night of musical theatre. The workshop brings stars of musical theatre together with budding local actors in order to

provide students with a realistic insight into life in this tough but exciting industry. Students will be provided with professional singing, dancing and acting training, as well as rehearsing for ensemble work in the final performance. They will also be given the opportunity to work in

DID YOU KNOW? Only 40 spaces are available, so make sure you book early

smaller groups with the lead performers. The popular course, which begins on 15th February, costs from £75. To find out more, visit www. aberystwythartscentre.co.uk.

Eerie sights at Silver Mountain

Run a virtual winter trail Winter Trail Wales is going virtual this year, meaning you can run it from anywhere in the world! Participants are asked to complete the distance any time between 6th and 31st January. Entry costs £18. www.runcoedybrenin.com

Experience a night like no other with paranormal investigations at the Silver Mountain Experience, Aberystwyth on 6th February. The night, which runs from 8pm to 2am, will give you access to the historic buildings, two mines and woods. Tickets cost £34.95. www. silvermountainexperience.co.uk/paranormal

Take a stroll at Powis Castle Put on your winter woollies and take a stroll around the beautiful garden at Powis Castle. Whether you’re a keen garden enthusiast or just appreciate the joy of the outdoors, you’ll find there’s lots waiting to be discovered. Stroll along the Top Terrace, through the Edwardian Formal Garden, take in the breathtaking views across the Severn Valley and

Home is where the art is

Channel your creativity with live online art classes organised by Theatre Hafren this January. Run by local artist Zoe Mach, the classes bring you a live, relaxed paint-along tutorial, delivering tips and advice on painting. The sessions are suitable for all ages and abilities, and run every Thursday from 5pm. To join, request the Zoom link in advance by messaging “Zoe Mach Community Artist” on Facebook or emailing zoemach@gmail.com.

admire ancient yews, trees and Italianate terraces. The garden is open 10am to 4pm every day and the Courtyard Café serves light bites, cakes and hot drinks. Booking is recommended. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ powis-castle-and-garden/the-garden

LIFT YOUR EYES TO THE SKIES Marvel at the majesty of the night sky on a stargazing weekend in Staylittle from 8th to 10th January. The event, organised by Dark Sky Wales, is aimed at all levels of experience. Accommodation comprises six deluxe wigwam cabins sleeping up to four adults or a family of five. The course costs from £374.35. www.darkskywalestraining services.co.uk

Exhibitions at MOMA

See the work of established artists and up-andcoming talent in exhibitions at MOMA, Machynlleth this winter. The gallery is showing works by David Ware until 6th February and a collection of work by Jane Parry, whose paintings depict impressions of light, space and architectural form, until 23rd January. It will also be showing Young Welsh Artists until 23rd January. www. moma.machynlleth.org.uk

7th February, Brecon to Cardiff Ultra This 70km race winds its way from Brecon to Cardiff following the River Taff. The race starts at 8am at Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon, and makes much use of an abandoned branch of the Taff Vale Railway and Glamorganshire Canal. www.runwalkcrawl.co.uk

18th-19th February, Traditional Hedge Laying, Denmark Farm Conservation Centre, Lampeter Learn the benefits and techniques of hedgerow management, including singling and high pruning as well as laying. Tools and equipment provided. 9am-4.30pm. £95. www.denmarkfarm.org.uk

19th February, Polytunnel Edibles All Year Round, Training Gardens, Synod Inn Ideal for gardeners of all levels looking to make the best use of their tunnels. Covers propagation, no-dig gardening, water saving, airflow, seed saving, natural pest control, mixed planting and more. 9.30am-3pm. £95. www.greenrocketcourses.com

27th February, Make Your Own Porcelain Cups, Make It In Wales, Cardigan Alanda GunnWilson guides you through the steps to creating your own cups. Alanda will take home your beautiful pieces for firing and return them to Stiwdio 3 for you to collect. 10am-4pm. £130. www.makeitinwales.co.uk

27th February, A Beginner’s Guide to the Compost Toilet, Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth A course looking at the components required to make a compost toilet system work, the biology of composting to maximise performance, and the cultural trends governing our attitudes towards toilets. 10am-4.30pm. £70 including lunch. www.cat.org.uk

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Escape to the countryside between Welshpool and Newtown. Some of the fantastic places of interest within 35 mile radius: Chirk Castle, Lake Vrynwy RSPB, Coed y Dinas, Powis Castle, Hafren Forest, Ynyshir RSPB, Devils Bridge, Elan Valley, Abbey Cwm Hir, Whittington Castle, Stiperstones, Long Mynd, Clun Castle.

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Seeing red The county town of Ruthin in Denbighshire holds plenty of appeal: it’s both pretty and practical, benefiting from great facilities and a central location in the county, but it has a strong history and heritage too

dominates the Ruthin skyline. It has an impressive double nave and medieval roofline as well as being home to a four-manual Wadsworth-Willis organ and renowned for its large choir of children and adults. The half-timbered Old Court House on the square, built in 1401, features the remains of a gibbet last used to execute a Franciscan priest who was shipwrecked on the Welsh coast in 1679. Another striking building is Ruthin Gaol, which ceased to be a prison in 1916 and has now been renovated and reopened as a museum. Today’s town has all the high street names and amenities you would expect, as well as a Craft Centre opened in July 2008 as part of a £4.3m scheme celebrating the town’s past as well as embracing and celebrating the creative nature of its future.

to construct the castle of the same name in 1277-84, by Dafydd, the brother of Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. The castle has had DID YOU a difficult existence: KNOW? it was forfeited to Wales has more castles per square King Edward I in a mile than any rebellion, subjected to other country various invasions and in Europe conquests over the years, and Ruthin’s 13th-century castle is now a hotel eventually uthin has a particularly high became one of very few number of architecturally appealing buildings left standing when buildings, which gives a it a distinctly Owain Glyndwr burnt Ruthin picturesque nature. Indeed, it has a high to the ground in 1400. number of listed buildings and some During the English Civil fine examples of local heritage that have War, the castle survived an been well preserved and appreciated. 11-week siege, after which it But the town also has a more challenging was demolished by order of side, away from its notably pretty appearance. parliament. It was rebuilt in the Having been developed alongside the River 19th century as a country house, Clwyd, a substantial part of the town is which has now been turned The town has plenty of heritage and historic appeal built on a flood plain and has suffered for into the Ruthin Castle Hotel it. While the older parts of town, housing and is a popular venue for weddings and THINGS TO SEE AND DO the castle and St Peter’s Square, lie safely functions thanks partly to its unusual on the hill, the newer sprawl was flooded and attractive red sandstone exterior. Ruthin Craft Centre Lon Parcwr, several times in the 1990s until £3m Ruthin LL15 1BB; 01824 704774; worth of flood control works made sure Significant structures www.ruthincraftcentre.org.uk the whole town remained high and dry. Within the town, plenty of beautiful buildings Ruthin Castle Hotel Castle Street, remain. Maen Huail is a registered ancient Ruthin LL15 2NU; 01824 702664; Castle and keep monument, marking the legendary beheading www.ruthincastle.co.uk The name Ruthin comes from the Welsh of Huail – brother of Gildas the historian – words rhudd (red) and din (fort), referring by King Arthur, located in St Peter’s Square. Ruthin Gaol Museum Clwyd Street, Ruthin LL15 1HP; 01824 708281 to the colour of the sandstone on which The Collegiate and Parish Church of St the town is built and which was extracted Peter, established by Lord de Grey in 1310,


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Half-term fun at Chester Zoo

DID YOU KNOW? Chester Zoo is home to more than 35,000 animals and over 500 species!

Children can join the rangers at Chester Zoo from 15th to 19th February for a five-day holiday activity club that is perfect for animal lovers and the conservationists of the future. Discover the amazing animals, the habitats and the remarkable conservation work taking place all around the world through a range of fun activities, including zoo trails, conservation actions, practical skills, games, arts and crafts. The programme is suitable for Years 4 to 6 and runs from 9am to 4.30pm, with free early drop-off available from 8.45am. The course costs £180 per child. Visit www.chesterzoo.org for more information.

Winter walks at Arley Hall Arley Hall & Gardens is now open for walks. There’s no need to book – just turn up. Dogs are welcome, as long as they are kept on leads. If you’re looking for refreshments, the Gardener’s Kitchen Café is open for takeaway including hot drinks, soup, jacket potatoes and cakes, while the Cruck Barn has a sheltered outside seating area. The gardens are open 10am to 4pm daily, and entry costs £6 for adults, £3 for children and £15 for families. www.arleyhallandgardens.com

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Prepare to be spooked Take a night-time tour of Chester every Saturday in January and every Friday and Saturday in February. Visit eerie sites of the city’s murky past and hear chilling tales of ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night. Tours depart from the Town Hall at 7.30pm and last 90 minutes. Tickets cost £10 for adults and £25 for families. www.chesterghosttour.co.uk

Until 4th January, The Tiger Who Came To Tea, Chester Grosvenor Museum Celebrating Judith Kerr’s much-loved children’s book, this family-friendly exhibition features a life-size model tiger and facsimile artwork from the iconic picture book. 10.30am-1pm and 2.30pm5pm (last admission 4.15pm), Tuesday to Saturday. Free entry but booking essential.

Beeston Castle highlights Christmas Adventure Quest, 26th December – 3rd January Explore and discover fun facts about the castle and untold stories in the places where history happened. Hunt for clues and QR codes which reveal quirky tales or treat yourself to a hot chocolate or mulled wine in the beautiful surroundings of Beeston.

Half Term Explorer Quest, 13th-21st February Visit Beeston Castle during the February half-term for a family fun trail around the grounds. Will you be able to find the clues and solve the puzzles to emerge victorious in this quest? It is time to venture outside and start exploring! Entry to both events is included in the standard admission ticket price to the castle. Tickets cost £9.90 for adults, £6 for children and £15.90 for family tickets. www.english-heritage.org.uk

Chester Cathedral winter events Christmas Tree Festival, until 4th January Spend time in Chester’s wonderful cathedral admiring festive trees decorated by local businesses. The trees will be spread around the cathedral to allow plenty of space for social distancing. 2.30pm-6pm. Tickets £2.50 for adults; children free. Brighouse & Rastrick Band, 30th January The current Champion Band of Yorkshire and National Champion Band of Great Britain 2017 was formed more than 130 years ago and continues to be supported through public subscriptions and fundraising. 7.30pm-9.30pm. Tickets costs from £13 for adults and £6 for children. www.chestercathedral.com

Until 4th January, Yuleville Trail, Blakemere Village, Northwich Follow the fun and festive trail around the village and receive a treat at the end. No booking required. Fully outdoors with extra safety measures in place. 10am-5pm. £5 per child; maps can be purchased from the visitor information centre or the touring park reception. Until 31st January, Susan Stockwell: Hidden Histories, Untold Stories, Warrington Museum & Art Gallery A new exhibition by international award-winning artist Susan Stockwell, exploring the hidden stories behind the museum’s eclectic collections. It also explores themes around social change, consumerism and how museums across the world are reframing their collections to better reflect the communities, cultures and people they represent. 10am-4.30pm Wednesdays to Fridays, 10am-4pm Saturdays, 11am-3pm Sundays. Free entry.

10th January, Luxury Wedding Show, Crewe Hall Visit the stunning Crewe Hall to see 50 unique and inspiring exhibitors in this historic and gorgeous venue, with experts on hand to guide you through every aspect of planning your wedding or special event. Entry is free and everyone will receive a free mulled wine on arrival, magazines and a goody bag. 11am-3pm.

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2nd February, Jewellery Making, Coffee House, Tarporley Make either two slim stacking rings with a semi-precious stone or a wider ring with added texture. All the rings are made of sterling silver using traditional silversmithing techniques. 6.30pm. Tickets cost £60 per person including all materials. To book, visit www.noctua.co.uk.

SUPPORT LIVE EVENTS AT CREWE LYCEUM The Bon Jovi Experience, 18th February Endorsed by Jon Bon Jovi himself, the official tribute band to Bon Jovi perform all over the world to sell-out crowds. 7.30pm. Tickets £26.50. Joel Dommett, 19th February Join Joel as he brings you up to date on his life since his last live show. He has become a regular face on TV, from I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! to hosting ITV2’s I’m A Celebrity Extra Camp

alongside Scarlett Moffatt and Joe Swash. Suitable for over-14s. 8pm. Tickets £22. Aida, 26th February – POSTPONED until 22nd March 2022 The Russian State Opera presents Aida, a timeless and emotional opera with breathtaking melodies. Music by Giuseppe Verdi, sung in Italian with English surtitles. 7.30pm. Tickets £37, concessions £35. www.crewelyceum.co.uk

Foodie treats at Chester Market •

12th February, Ben Maitland, The Nags Head, Crewe The frontman of the party band Shakermaker is also a professional acoustic solo artist who travels all around the country performing songs from The Beatles, Queen, Oasis, The Jam, Kings Of Leon, The Killers, Robbie Williams and more. 7pm. Free entry.

16th-24th February, River Cruises, ChesterBoat ChesterBoat is running half-hour river cruises during February half-term – the perfect way to see the River Dee. Enjoy stunning scenery and hear all about Chester’s storied past on board the cruise. Adults from £7, children from £2.50 and families from £18. Book your tickets at www.chesterboat.co.uk to receive a discount.

19th February, Mark Watson, Pyramid Arts Centre, Warrington In 2017, comedian Mark Watson – a man prone to considerable anxiety, with multiple phobias and a history of low self-esteem – was asked to go on Celebrity Island With Bear Grylls. The experience changed him for the better and now he’s written a motivational talk about what it taught him. 8pm. £15.

21st February, Cheshire Children’s Market, Bridgewater High School, Warrington A great place to stock up on baby and children items with tables full of good quality second-hand baby and children goodies. Local baby and children businesses will also be there to entice you with their goods. 10am–11.30am. £2 entry; children go free.

Head to Chester Indoor Market for its Foodie Fridays and Saturday Socials during January and February. Voted the UK’s best indoor market 2020, the market offers fresh produce, food, drink and niche stalls all in one place. Enjoy an Italian pizzeria, Thai noodles, street food, taco bar, artisan breads, deli, bistro, wine bar and shop, a traditional market café and a craft beer taproom. Socially distanced tables are available inside the food court and in the al fresco area. The market is open 8am to 10pm and entry is free. www.chester.market

A NIGHT FOR LAUGHTER AT THE VICTORIA CLUB Head to the Victoria Club in Holmes Chapel on 23rd January to see comedian Justin Moorhouse’s latest show, Things. It’s likely to include a Paloma Faith story (she won’t be there), some reminiscing (not sad), recycling issues (not jokes) and a lovely story about how cricket made Justin happy and sad at the same time (you don’t have to like cricket). Tickets cost £15. Over-18s only. www.thevicclub.co.uk


Celebrate the coming together of the people of Lymm after the Covid-19 pandemic with a two-day event on 9th and 10th January in Lymm Cross. Businesses will be open for people to enter, give custom, meet new people and collectively celebrate coming through the dark times. Sunday’s gathering will be based on the May Queen family event and will take place at the May Queen Field. Admission to the event is free. For the latest information and opening times, visit the Facebook page.

Socially distanced gigs at the Live Rooms Chester

Massive Wagons, 29th & 30th January A night to remember with this highenergy, high-volume rock band. 7pm. Tickets £20.

Nigel Clark, 5th February The former lead singer of indie band Dodgy goes solo. 7pm. Tickets £17.50. March Of The Mods, 20th February In aid of Teenage Cancer Trust. 7pm. Tickets £10 in advance, £13 on the door. www.theliverooms.com

Peter Kay tribute at Clock Face Enjoy a spectacular night of comedy at Clock Face Recreation Club in St Helens on 27th February with a tribute to Peter Kay. Delivering the iconic routines of the much-loved Bolton funnyman, from “Garlic Bread” to “Misheard Song Lyrics”, Simon Mark will have you in fits of laughter. Tickets cost £10, including a curry. www.zenflick. co.uk/tickets

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LIVE ACTS AT PARR HALL Snow White, 8th-17th January Parr Hall opens its curtains on everyone’s favourite fairy tale. There will also be a signed performance on 10th January and a dementia-friendly performance on 12th January. 1.30pm & 5.30pm. Tickets from £13.25.

Sounds Of The 60s, 13th February – POSTPONED until 28th October 2021 Hosted by Tony Blackburn, this show features songs, stories and memories from the golden decade of pop, with live music. 7.30pm. Tickets from £30.

Icons Of Darts, 5th February Phil “The Power” Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld reignite the game’s greatest rivalry when they appear at Parr Hall as part of the 2021 Icons of Darts tour. 8pm. Tickets from £25.

Circus Of Horrors, 18th February An amazing amalgamation of acts driven by a rock ’n’ roll soundscape that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat when not falling off it with laughter. 7.30pm. Tickets from £18. parrhall.culturewarrington.org


During a ghost hunt at Norton Priory in Runcorn on 12th February, you’ll have the chance to investigate one of the UK’s ancient areas. Ghostly shadows and the cries of a woman have been heard in the upper gallery, while a skull-like face has been seen in the 12th-century undercroft. Tickets cost £55. www.hauntedhappenings.co.uk

Snowdrop walks at Rode Hall Discover more than 70 varieties of snowdrops in the Old Wood at Rode Hall, Scholar Green from 30th January to 28th February. Take a walk past the beautiful old pool and boathouse, where the snowdrops are a sight to behold. The walk is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm. Entry costs £5 (children £2). Book in advance at www. rodehall. co.uk.

Sandbach Concert Series goes online

Sandbach Concert Series is continuing its online concerts from young musicians and professional artists, giving audiences the opportunity to hear world-class artists perform live in the town. Concerts follow the same format but in a slightly shortened form using Zoom. The virtual doors open at 6.30pm. To register, visit www. sandbach-concert-series.co.uk.

Scrooge at Storyhouse Chester A Christmas Carol, until 17th January Join Storyhouse for big-hearted Christmas joy with a show full of song and laughter. The production runs without an interval in a safe, spaced and comfortable environment. Audiences are limited to 180 (normally 480). Show times vary. Tickets from £23.

Targeting Inequalities In Desperate Times, 19th January Professor Chantal Davies explores whether desperate times call for the use of targeted positive action to address inequalities. Noon, via Zoom. www.storyhouse.com

Terrific times at Tatton

Gallery In The Gardens: Cheshire’s Wonderful Wildlife, until 12th February View the new Mid Cheshire Line poster artwork, created by local artist Nicky Thompson. Follow a route around the gardens to see all 12 designs. There is also a 24-page brochure available free of charge.

A Christmas Trail: Holly’s Festive Feast, until 3rd January Holly the Hare needs your help to find her invitation to a festive garden feast with her woodland friends. Help to solve the puzzles to find her friends, and don’t forget to collect your party pack with animal mask and a sweet treat.

Tatton Park is open from 10am to 4pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Entry costs £8 for adults and £6 for children, and is free for National Trust members. www.tattonpark.org.uk

21st February, The Wedding Party at Walton Hall & Gardens, Warrington Looking for wedding inspiration? Look no further than the wedding fayre at Walton Hall. Featuring some of Cheshire’s finest suppliers, this open day gives you the opportunity to view the stunning grounds of Walton Hall and to secure your wedding dream team. 11am. Free entry.

January and February, Blue Planet Aquarium, Ellesmere Port Blue Planet has taken steps to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of guests, staff and animals with a one-way journey through the attraction. All the aquarium is open to the public, except for the top floor of the aquatheatre and the balcony over Northern Streams. 10am-5pm. Tickets from £17.10 adults, £12.15 children.

January and February, Chester Roman Tours How would you like to be transported back nearly 2,000 years, to visit the city of Chester when it was the largest Roman fortress in Britain? Take a fascinating walking tour of Chester with a Roman guard as your guide. The 90-minute tours run each day at noon and 3pm, starting at the Visitor Information Centre. Adults £8, under-12s £4, under-fives free.

January and February, Quarry Bank Mill, Wilmslow The gardens, upper garden café and wider estate are now open to enjoy in line with government guidance. Gardens are open 10.30am to 4pm, Wednesday to Sunday. Adults £8, children £4. Tickets must be booked in advance at www.nationaltrust. org.uk/quarry-bank.

January and February, Chester Ghost Tours Join a guide every Saturday outside the Visitor Information Centre to begin your journey through Chester’s haunted history. 7.30pm Call 01244 405340.

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Covid-safe live music Audiences can enjoy a series of socially distanced, limited-capacity shows at Future Yard in honour of Independent Venue Week from 23rd to 31st January. The live music venue in Birkenhead is staging a number of gigs which will also be broadcast on a high-quality digital live stream for those who can’t attend the shows in person. Some of the artists featured include contemporary folk multiinstrumentalist Rachael Dadd, future-Afro soul vocalist Fehdah, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Natalie McCool and bands The Lounge Society and White Flowers. All shows will be delivered in accordance with the government’s most up-to-date Covid-19 guidelines, while the venue’s production partners will also deliver a high-quality audio and multi-camera video live stream of the shows for you to view at home. For full details and to book, visit www.futureyard.org.

Set goals for the new year

Meet your heroes at the Gladstone Theatre An Evening with Jamie Carragher, 4th February Spend an evening with Liverpool FC legend Jamie Carragher, who made an amazing 737 appearances for his hometown club. Hear him tell the story of his amazing career, from the ecstasy of Istanbul and the historic 2001 cup treble all the way through to the agony of missing out on the Premier League title by a whisker in 2014. 7.30pm. Tickets from £32 with VIP options also available. Women In Rock, 6th February The UK’s premier show dedicated to the world’s female musical legends will keep you entertained from the start. With new songs, costume changes, a live seven-piece band and a fully choreographed two-hour set, Women In Rock has something for everyone, from Janis Joplin to Suzi Quatro, Tina Turner to Cher, and Blondie to Joan Jett. 7.30pm. Tickets £18. www.gladstonetheatre.org.uk

Powerful prints on display Witness powerful prints by some of the most influential artists of the 20th century at the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Bebington until 28th February. With works by Pablo Picasso, Edvard Munch, Max Beckmann and more, the exhibition displays the very different responses artists had to anarchy, violence and war, with visceral images that still stir the emotions. For opening times, visit www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk

Get your New Year’s resolutions off to a great start with the January Fat Loss Boot Camp, which begins on 3rd January. The programme, which is run by Revive Wellness, begins with a workout and goal-setting session, followed by three workouts a week that all take place outdoors at Leasowe Bay, New Bridgton Dips, Wallasey Town Hall Steps and Birkenhead Park. There are also Saturday morning yoga and Pilates classes in the Secret Garden, Revive Wellness’s dedicated studio in Birkenhead. The boot camp costs £120 per person, which includes a full diet plan and support. And although it will be tough it is also guaranteed to be lots of fun, with no two workouts the same. To find out more and reserve your place, visit www.revive.yoga or email hotyogawirral@gmail.com.

Join the Maker Meet-up

Virtual priory tour

This event for people in or interested in the creative industries takes place at Make, Hamilton Square, Birkenhead, on 26th January. It aims to bring together the Liverpool region’s community of makers, artists, thinkers and doers to showcase their work, meet other makers, and discuss the maker movement happening in the city. The event will feature speakers from a variety of disciplines, and will give makers a chance to talk, share and connect. The evening runs from 6pm to 9pm. Tickets are free from www.eventbrite.co.uk.

Although Birkenhead Priory is temporarily closed you can still pay a (virtual) visit to the oldest standing building on Merseyside with a free virtual tour. The 360° tour allows you to wander through the ancient site and experience the unique buildings and architecture from the comfort of your own home. You can also find out more about each space of within the priory in the Video Tour series on YouTube. To take the tour, visit www. thebirkenheadpriory.org/virtual-tours.

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On stage at the Floral Pavilion Paul Smith: Changed, 21st January & 3rd February A lot has changed for Paul, the resident host of Liverpool’s Hot Water Comedy Club, in recent years. Join him for his largest ever tour of the UK and Ireland as he once again mixes sharp, hilarious stories from his life with his trademark off-the-cuff wit. 8pm. Tickets £23.75. Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain, 11th-14th February Using actors and 3D special effects, this amazing show is

guaranteed to thrill you and your children. It’s the horrible history of Britain with the nasty bits left in! Showtimes vary. Tickets from £14. Lionel – A Tribute to Lionel Ritchie, 18th February Europe’s leading Lionel Richie tribute artist has a fresh new show. Starring Malcolm Pitt as the soul superstar, this show brings you all your favourite hits including “All Night Long”, “Say You, Say Me”, “Hello” and “Dancing On The Ceiling”. 7.30pm. Tickets £26.50.

John O’Connell gets back to his roots Local favourite John O’Connell returns to his roots for three live performances at West Kirby Arts Centre from 25th to 27th February. John rose to fame in partnership with the late Graham Evans in Liverpudlian group Groundpig, playing to hundreds of fans every week. After Graham’s death in 2006, John concentrated on his songwriting and putting on his own concerts, as well as touring with his tribute show Simply Dylan. Now, much to the delight of his fans, John is going back to his roots and will be performing his eclectic sets at the West Kirby Arts Centre this February, playing originals along with some classic guitar tunes. John will be joined on the night by his band and it promises to be a diverse and engaging set delivered by musicians at the top of their game. The show starts at 7pm and tickets cost £15 per person. For more information, visit www.westkirbyartscentre.org.uk.

DID YOU KNOW? Lionel Richie has three Oscar nominations and one win

The Zombies: The Invaders Return, 20th February The Zombies return home to celebrate their induction into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame. The band’s live performances were described by Rolling Stone as “absolutely triumphant”. This show promises to take fans on a journey from their early singles “She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No” to their masterpiece Odessey & Oracle. 7.30pm. Tickets £29.25.www.floralpavilion.com

The art of music at Future Yard Super Cool Drawing Machine is a touring exhibition of musicians’ artwork, which will be on display at Future Yard, Birkenhead, from 18th to 21st February. This celebration of the visual art created by a host of internationally acclaimed, touring musicians brings engaging and exciting artistic creations – and a much-needed dose of fun – back into the UK’s treasured music spaces. The diverse artists include trailblazing saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, Mercurynominated Welsh singer/producer Cate Le Bon, and African American experimentalist Lonnie Holley, who has previously exhibited in the likes of the Turner Contemporary gallery. They will exhibit paintings, photography, drawings, ceramics, digital installations, recycled arts, sculpture and furniture – a colourful and interactive array of artwork for the open-minded and curious. Viewings take place at noon, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm, Thursday to Sunday, and tickets cost £5.50. For more information, visit www.futureyard.org.

9th January, Wirral Belly Dancing Classes, Hoylake Parade Community Centre Be a goddess, have fun, get fit – but most importantly learn how to belly dance! This 10-week course, suitable for women of all ages, body types and abilities, teaches fun, creative belly dance from 11.20am every Saturday morning. Bring your own coin hip belt and have some fun! £50 for 10 classes. www.wirralbellydancing.co.uk

11th January, Baby Massage Group, Newton Village Hall, West Kirby Bond with your baby through nurturing touch in this five-week massage course. Build your massage technique and learn how it can help reduce crying and emotional stress, promote attachment, and provide relief from colic, wind or constipation. 1pm-2pm. £40. Email info@ paulahoneybabymassage.com.

24th January, Off Road Thursaston 8 Mile Run, Thursaston This eight-mile off-road route is a real tester so it’s one for those who like a challenge! The race takes you along the beach, up the hills and down Oldfield Drive, and has consistently been one of the best legs of the Tour of Merseyside. 10am start. £23£25. www.btrliverpool.com

28th January, Gypsy The Musical (Live), Gladstone Theatre, Port Sunlight Following its run in London’s West End, you can experience the magic of the multi-awardwinning Gypsy starring Bafta winner Imelda Staunton at the Gladstone Cinema Club. 2.30pm-5pm. £5. www.gladstonetheatre.org.uk

13th February, Hand Weaving with Kirsty Jean, The Barn, Heswall This introduction to hand weaving workshop is perfect if you’re a beginner or want a refresher in the basics! Kirsty will demonstrate how to set up a frame loom and various techniques. You will then get the chance to create a beautiful piece of handwoven cloth. Noon-4pm. £45. Email info@theliverpoolweaving company.co.uk.

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1st January, New Year’s Day Lunch, Lion Quays Resort, Oswestry Make the most of the bank holiday by relaxing over a delicious family lunch in the Waterside restaurant. 12.30pm-5pm. Adults £25 for three courses, children half price. www.lionquays.co.uk

•2nd-3rd January, Mince Pie Tours, Whittington Castle, nr

Oswestry Join a specialist tour guide for a historic walking tour of the castle grounds and the rooms inside. Learn about Whittington Castle’s fascinating history, then warm up with a hot drink and mince pie or cake. 12pm-1pm. £7.50. www.whittingtoncastle.co.uk

•2nd-3rd January, Victorian Christmas, Blists Hill Victorian

Town, Ironbridge The Christmas festivities carry on into the New Year! Book now to make the most of the new real ice rink, traditional decorations, fish and chips and mulled wine. www.ironbridge.org.uk

4th January onwards, British Ironwork Centre, nr Oswestry The British Ironworks reopens after Christmas on 4th January. The sculpture park and outdoor spaces are perfect for those who enjoy a leisurely walk while enjoying unique artwork. The UK’s largest metal safari park has over 100 sculptures on display throughout its 90-acre grounds. 10am-4pm. www. britishironworkcentre.co.uk

8th January onwards, Acton Scott Historic Farm Museum, near Church Stretton Acton Scott aims to reopen on 8th January for weekends throughout 2021. The farm is now a Rare Breeds Survival Trust accredited farm park, and will be working with the trust to provide more information about rare breeds for visitors as well as helping to conserve the breeds through a breeding programme. www.actonscottmuseum.com

Humour and horrors at The Place Ross Noble: Humouroid, 8th January What happens when pure comedy takes human form? What happens when a creature is created and bred to do stand-up? Nobody knows because that isn’t a thing. What is a thing is Ross Noble doing a show. This is it. You can come and see it as the comedy legend up for his 2020 tour. 8pm. Tickets £20.50. Oh! What A Night, 9th January Take a trip back in time on a musical journey through the incredible career of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, immortalised in the awardwinning show Jersey Boys. This show combines amazing vocals, slick harmonies and even slicker dance moves to deliver an evening full of energy and nostalgia that

Symbols of hope at Attingham Park Every New Year the team at Attingham Park, near Shrewsbury, keep an eye out for the first of the snowdrops – which usually appear in mid-January. These delicate flowers transform the woodland floor, so wrap up warm and take a stroll to spot them. Traditionally seen as a symbol of hope at the end of the winter, they can be found in abundance in Attingham’s orchards and walks. Usual admission prices apply. Visit www.nationaltrust. org.uk/attingham-park for bookings and restrictions.

will leave you wanting more. 7.30pm. Tickets £24.50. Circus Of Horrors, 30th January This celebration of 25 years of Circus Of Horrors is an amazing amalgamation of acts, driven by a rock ’n’ roll soundscape. You’ll be on the edge of your seat when not falling off it with laughter. Enjoy a rock ’n’ roller coaster ride of amazing and bizarre acts – it is a circus like no other! 7.30pm. Tickets from £18. Steve Steinman’s Vampires Rock, 10th February From the producers of Anything For Love: The Meat Loaf Story comes the classic rock musical sensation that’s been rocking the nation for 18 years. Starring Steve Steinman and an incredible cast of singers, dancers and musicians, this show will have

you DID YOU rocking in KNOW? the aisles. Ross Noble owns Featuring a kind of tank over 30 called an FV433 of the Abbot SPG greatest classic rock anthems of all time, including Queen, AC/DC, Bonnie Tyler, Meat Loaf, Bon Jovi, Journey, Guns N’ Roses and many more. 7.30pm. £29. Live/Wire: The AC/DC Show, 26th February The hugely successful tribute to rock music’s greatest band AC/DC, complete with cannons, a wall of Marshalls and over two hours of high-voltage rock ’n’ roll in a show that has been acclaimed for its similarity in look and sound to the real thing. 8pm. £18.50. www.theplacetelford.com

The sound of magic at Henry Tudor House Irish singer-songwriter Jack Lukeman will appear at Henry Tudor House, Shrewsbury, on 14th February. A platinumselling, critically acclaimed artist in his homeland, Lukeman has toured the UK with Jools Holland, The Proclaimers and Neil Sedaka. His latest album of idiosyncratic original songs, Magic Days, is available now. Starts 8pm. Tickets £15. www.henrytudorhouse.com

Arnie action classic at Kinokulture The classic 1990s sci-fi action film Total Recall has been restored for the 30th anniversary of its initial release, ready to entertain new audiences at Oswestry’s Kinokulture cinema on 15th and 16th January. The film, which was inspired by the 1966 short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale by science fiction author Philip K Dick, stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone. Starts 7.30pm. Tickets £8.60. www.kinokulture.org.uk

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Youth music festival hits the right notes

The Oswestry Youth Music Festival 2021 takes place from 24th to 28th February, and entry is open to talented musicians until 22nd January. The festival has vocal, musical theatre, string, brass, piano and percussion categories, with solo, duet and ensemble available. There is a separate competition to design the festival logo for 2021. The winner of this

year’s design will be selected by the festival committee and will be presented with their prize by the Mayor. Again, the entry deadline is 22nd January. Dating back to 1977, the festival includes a programme of individual, group and school opportunities linked with celebrity concerts. Past winners of the festival have gone on to successful professional musical careers. Organisers of the Oswestry Town Council event have gone to great efforts to ensure that the annual event can go ahead safely. Visit www.oswestry-tc.gov.uk/council-services/ oswestry-youth-music-festival.html for details.

Cooking classes with a touch of spice At Brompton Cookery School, near Shrewsbury, there’s something for all foodies in 2021, from beginners to the more adventurous. On 9th January, learn to cook fragrant dishes of Asia. The chef will teach you how to master and cook authentic recipes from China, Thailand, Malaysia and Japan. 10am-4pm. £165. On 23rd January, the Back to Basics course is perfect for

Peter Rabbit and friends hop into action Families can take part in a Peter Rabbit winter adventure at National Trust properties such as Dudmaston Estate, near Bridgnorth. The trust has also produced activity trails featuring beloved Beatrix Potter characters, including Mrs Tittlemouse and Jeremy Fisher. Download the latest pack from www.nationaltrust. org.uk/features/peterrabbit-activities-andgames-to-try-at-home.

Celebrate in a carriage Christmas isn’t quite over on the Severn Valley Railway from Bridgnorth to Bewdley. The festivities continue on the Festive Season Service which runs until 3rd January. Spend a whole day on the railway in a private compartment or reserved table seats. Every train will be pulled by a magnificent steam or diesel engine carrying passengers in beautifully restored vintage carriages. From £47.50 for a table for two to £120 for a compartment of six. Book tickets in advance. www.svr.co.uk

anyone who feels there are skills they have forgotten – or they never learnt. After this half-day course you’ll be confident in the kitchen. 10am-2pm. £85. On 30th January, it’s the turn of the junior cooks. The full-day course is designed to be fun and creative, while children will also learn about the ingredients, tastes and flavours. Ages 10 to 16. £100. To see the full cookery programme and book, go to www. bromptoncookeryschool.co.uk

Virtual meet-up for gardeners Whether you’re a greenfingered pro or discovered gardening during lockdown, don’t miss the online Homegrown Gardening Group Meetup on 16th January from 10.30am to 12.30pm. Join the Bridgnorth-based group on Zoom to share veg-growing experiences, hints, tips and advice. There’s no cost but registration is required. The group was established in 2019 to bring people together for sharing advice, seeds and more, as well as socialising, and has grown into a thriving local community! www.homegrownmarketgarden.co.uk


22nd January, Taste Of Tanners At Home: A Journey Through Bordeaux, online Shropshire wine merchants Tanners takes virtual visitors on a tour around the different areas and styles of wine produced in Bordeaux, a huge winemaking region that is world famous for its red wines but also produces superb whites and sweet wines too. Mathew Evans, branch manager of Tanners Chester, will guide wine lovers around each region and explain the differences in style. This is a virtual event held online from 7pm-8.30pm. Virtual tastings are charged per case, not per person, and include one Zoom invitation. £100. www.tanners-wines.co.uk

29th January, Oswestry Artisan Market, Bailey Head Oswestry’s Artisan Market is held on the final Friday of every month, selling the best in local produce such as pies and pastries, meat and fish, cheeses and cakes, as well as occasional crafts and bespoke gifts. 9am-3pm. www.oswestrytc.gov.uk/markets

30th January, Winter Holly Challenge Half and Full Marathon, Telford Runners shouldn’t miss the Winter Holly Challenge – ideal for those who are planning to run a spring marathon – with routes around the beautiful lanes of Lightmoor in Telford. All finishers will receive a medal. Start time 10am. Entry from £32. www. codrc.co.uk/the-holly-challenge

Fight your way to fitness

For anyone who has over-indulged at Christmas, Team Bootcamp Fight Club offers the solution over seven days from 15th to 22nd January at Eardington Manor near Bridgnorth. Combat instructors and fitness coaches offer classes in Muay Thai, MMA, boxing and more to strip fat and burn calories and build fitness in a dedicated facility. Visit team-bootcamp.com/fight-camp.

30th January onwards, New Year Open Exhibition, Willow Gallery, Oswestry Enjoy the work of talented artists from across the region. Featuring local favourites and some more recently discovered talents, the exhibition runs until 20th March. Free entry. www.willowgalleryoswestry.org

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Laugh and sing along at Theatre Severn •30th January, Funky Good Times, The Buttermarket,

Shrewsbury Shropshire’s funkiest party promises a night packed with belting tunes from soul and Motown to R’n’B and hip hop, with some guilty pleasures for good measure. Three outstanding vocalists, funky horns, and the tightest rhythm section this side of the Severn. £10. ww.thebuttermarket.co.uk

6th-7th February, Icing On The Cake marathon and half marathon, Church Stretton Hit the trails with the county’s most epic races, as runners tackle 13.1 or 26.2 miles of the Shropshire Hills and The Long Mynd. The start is in Carding Mill Valley with the finish near the National Trust tea rooms. 9am start. £36. www. codrc.co.uk/icing-on-the-cake

12th February, The Charles Darwin Day 10K, Shrewsbury Come and run on International Charles Darwin Day to celebrate the great naturalist’s birthday in the town of his birth: Shrewsbury. The event will be held on Shrewsbury Sports Village’s purpose-built cycle track with chip timing and is limited to 150 places. You can choose between 10k, half or full marathon. Starts 10am. All finishers get a special Darwin medal. £25.50. www.codrc. co.uk/the-charles-darwin-day

15th-23rd February, February Fun at Ray’s Farm, Billingsley, near Bridgnorth At halfterm, there’s plenty for all the family at Ray’s Farm. Join in with animal care time, regular animal encounters, colouring competition and a farmyard treasure hunt, following the clues around the farm and into the woods. Or take a walk, get muddy and build a den in the woods. www.raysfarm.com

Jack Dee, 27th January Join the TV and radio star for an evening of entertainment in his new stand-up tour. 8pm. Tickets £25. The Mersey Beatles, 29th January The world’s favourite Liverpool-born tribute to the Fab Four, from Beatlemania to the Sgt Pepper years. 4pm & 8pm. Tickets £21-£23.

Arabella Weir: Does My Mum Loom Big in This?, 5th February – POSTPONED until 16th July The devastatingly funny confessional show for everyone who has had or been a mother. 7.30pm. Tickets £19.50. Opera Boys, 7th February A new show featuring everything from classics like

Arts Alive presents a Winter Festival

Celebrating creativity in Whitchurch

Arts Alive presents a Winter Festival of stories and songs at The SpArC Theatre, Bishops Castle on 22nd to 23rd January. Highlights include Shropshire poet Jean Atkin performing Understories with folk group Whalebone, The Fetch Theatre’s popular travelling show Pedlar’s Tales, and an “Evening of Eloquent Eccentricity” with music from Scotland and Ireland. For times and prices and to book tickets visit www.artsalive.co.uk.

The Caldecott Festival celebrates the life and times of inspirational artist, cartoonist and travel writer Randolph Caldecott on 27th February in Whitchurch. The event is free and promises a Victorian High Street, games, singing, dressing up, a market and more.The townsfolk will celebrate the life, work and inspiration of the town’s famous artist and all things creative at the Civic Centre and High Street from 10am to 3.30pm. www.caldecottfestival.org.uk

On target for world-class evening Serene Events presents the Champions Grand Darts Challenge live at The Buttermarket in Shrewsbury on 23rd January, featuring stars like Gerwyn Price, Daryl Gurney, Jelle Klaasen, Bobby George and Chris Mason. Three lucky people from the crowd will be able to compete against the pros for the chance to win £1,000 cash! Strictly 18 years and over. Fancy dress is encouraged. 5.30pm to 11pm. Tickets from £25. www.thebuttermarket.co.uk

Les Misérables to modern hits such as The Greatest Showman. 7.30pm. Tickets £21.50. Shappi Khorsandi: Skittish Warrior, 14th February Packed full of sharp gags and cultural observation, this is a wartsand-all journey through the 90s comedy scene. 7.30pm. £16.50. www.theatresevern.co.uk

Following in Dick Whittington’s steps

Missed out on a panto this year? Traditional pantomime Dick Whittington is on stage at Theatre on the Steps, Bridgnorth, from 9th to 30th January. This is a sparkling version of the traditional tale packed with hilarious comedy, great music, and fabulous scenery. Various showtimes. Tickets from £10. www. theatreonthesteps.co.uk

Unlocking secrets of the Severn A conservation and river engagement project is unlocking the fishy secrets of the River Severn, at Jackfield Tile Museum until 28th February. In the exhibition gives visitors an insight into the world hidden beneath the river’s surface. They will be introduced to an endangered fish, the twaite shad, and learn the story of its epic River Severn migration. Alongside beautiful graphic panels telling the twaite shad’s

story there are two short films to watch, including a new animation about the journey the shad make up the River Severn in search of their freshwater spawning grounds. The Unlocking the Severn Exhibition will be open in the Footprint Gallery, Jackfield Tile Museum, from Wednesday to Sunday, 10am4pm, throughout January and February. For more information visit www.ironbridge.org.uk.

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SHIRE: 45,000 copies picked up in North & Mid Wales, Cheshire, the Wirral and Shropshire



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Distribution is carried out by specialist companies who service and monitor each stand every week. 45,000 copies of SHIRE MAGAZINE are picked up from: North Wales, including Gwynedd, Anglesey, Wrexham, Flint, Mold, Ruthin, Denbigh, Rhyl, Prestatyn, Abergele, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno, Llandudno Junction, Connah’s Quay Mid Wales, including Newtown, Welshpool, Ceredigion and Powys Shropshire, including Telford, Shrewsbury, Wellington, Oswestry, Ludlow, Ellesmere, Market Drayton and Whitchurch Cheshire, including Chester, Saltney, Upton, Ellesmere Port, Nantwich and Crewe, Northwich, Middlewich, Winsford Wirral, including Rock Ferry, Prenton, West Kirby, Heswall

JAN & FEB 21

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SHIRE Magazine: The best of North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Wirral & Shropshire

This New Year at

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Extended for all orders placed before January 31st. If it’s WINDOWS, DOORS, CONSERVATORIES or a NEW LIVING SPACE you desire, we offer both quality and large choice to suit all budgets. We believe our stunning indoor showroom is the biggest and best in the area showcasing everything we do, so it’s definitely worth a visit to view the finest array of options under one roof.

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Covid regulations are all in place, appointments preferred.

Visit your local showroom or call us to arrange your no-obligation quote SHOWROOM ADDRESS Unit 5 Moreton Business Park, Gledrid, Nr Oswestry, Shropshire, LL14 5DG

OPENING HOURS Mon - Fri - 9am to 5pm Saturday 9am - 1pm

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CHRISTMAS OPENING HOURS Closed 5pm, 18th December reopens 9am, 4th January

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Brit Award-winning singer Paloma Faith wowed the crowds when she headlined Colwyn Bay’s Access All Eirias in 2018 and now she’s back with a new album, Infinite Things. Ahead of a tour scheduled to visit Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and Cardiff this autumn, she talks to Shire about how lockdown was for her

The time out also forced Paloma to record much of her new material herself, in her basement – an experience she enjoyed. “Being at home meant I was completely uninhibited with wild abandon, in a way that I am not when sound engineers are looking at me. Also, I wasn’t afraid to make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes land in places that are wonderful, and I wouldn’t make them if someone else was there. So, I feel like there’s more intimacy in this record, and more truth.” Infinite Things is focused on motherhood and the pressures, hopes and expectations that it brings. The record’s title track is about her daughter, Paloma says: “It’s about seeing things through my daughter’s eyes, and how becoming a parent is all about continuing humanity. You experience the worst heartache with it.”


aloma Faith is counting her blessings after a year that has left many people shaken and traumatised. Not only has she managed to dedicate time to recording new music, she is embarking on another new adventure, having recently announced that she’s pregnant with her second child. The 39-year-old says she is enjoying parenthood and can’t wait to do it all again. As she gears up for her return to the charts and, hopefully, touring, she describes what it’s like for her to combine being a musician and a mother: “It’s made me go for the jugular more. I have to be more focused. It’s a question of time management really.” Time is not something Paloma is used to having – until recently she was featuring as a coach on ITV’s The Voice Kids, playing live (she performed a huge 14-date arena tour of the UK and Ireland in 2018) and collecting nominations for industry accolades, as well as exploring new territory as an actor in TV’s Batman prequel spin-off, Pennyworth. So in many ways the enforced downtime brought about by the pandemic gave her a rare chance to take stock.

Quality time

“It is so great being a mum and I feel very lucky, as the lockdown meant that we’ve spent a lot of time together as a

Baby blues

“Recording at home meant I was completely uninhibited… I feel like there’s more intimacy in this record, and more truth”

family, which has been a positive. Usually, it had just been one or the other of us looking after our daughter, who has now started really learning about family,” says Paloma of her now three-year-old.

Paloma is no stranger to heartache. She has been open about the six rounds of gruelling IVF she ensured in order to conceive the child she is now expecting. “I had pretty much resigned myself to giving up with this latest treatment, and I thought that this just wasn’t going to happen. I was thinking: where am I am going with this?” she says. So it’s fair to say she was delighted about the treatment’s eventual success. Somehow, at the same time as juggling being a recording artist, mum and actress, Paloma has still found time to devote to other interests, including being an ambassador for Oxfam and Greenpeace, which are of great significance to her. As well as supporting those good causes, she hopes Infinite Things will help people by encouraging them to reflect on the difficult times we have been through. “The album is also a commentary on society as well, in respect of issues raised by living in the pandemic, and knowing people who have lost loved ones,” she says. “We live in a very volatile world that now seems as if we only get one chance. I have been lucky that I’ve been able to put releases out and put myself on the map.” January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 31

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g n i e b Al l we We’re all hoping 2021 will be a better year than the last – so let’s make the best start by making sure we’re in good shape and ready for positive change, physically, mentally and emotionally

Last year tested us all. We faced challenges we’d never even considered before, and all of us had our lives, lifestyles and often livelihoods transformed. The pandemic may have affected your social life. It could have impacted you physically. It has certainly damaged many financially. But one way in which it has affected many is by causing mental health concerns. Fear of the virus itself, worry for friends and family, changes to schedules, routines and habits, combined with the terror of not knowing how it would end, took a toll on the mental health of all of us. Mental health charities and support lines reported a spike in calls during last year’s lockdowns, and received more referrals than usual from GPs, individuals and schools. In an era when talking about your feelings is becoming less of a taboo, it’s great that these services were there to help those that needed it.

DID YOU KNOW? According to the Mental Health Foundation, in late November 2020 almost half (45%) of the UK population reported feeling anxious or worried in the previous two weeks

carried out research of their own to see where they could help. Google search data compiled by Kiera and Aimie showed a 53 per cent increase in the number of online searches for how to deal with health anxiety, an 89 per cent rise in the number of people looking up how to cope with OCD and a 67 per cent growth in people looking for advice about depression. “We want to offer support to anyone who might be struggling,” say Kiera and Aimie. “Feel Good Club exists to remind people that we are all just humans – we’re two wives on a mission to support you in becoming your best and happiest self.” Now there’s a vaccine and we have a better grasp on how to live with Covid-19, it’s time to start looking forward. Read on to find ways to get in the right mindset so you’re ready to embrace change and face the future.

“There has been an 89 per cent rise in the number of people looking up how to cope with OCD”

Positive steps

One organisation that has been doing its best to help people in need of support is Feel Good Club, founded by Kiera and Aimie LawlorSkillen. The couple first launched an Instagram page to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental health, and found their ethos attracting support across north-west England, eventually opening the doors to their own wellbeingfocused coffeehouse in Manchester. Unfortunately, this coincided with England’s first lockdown but Kiera and Aimie took their services online as well as providing support wherever possible. The staff are trained in mental health first aid, so Feel Good Club ensured its doors stayed open for takeaway to help anyone who might be struggling and

Aimie and Kiera Lawlor-Skillen

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DID YOU KNOW? The World Health Organisation says that 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year

y t i v i t i s o P s l a о i  e f pro

Online learning

Lisa’s online course for adults, Mind Flight, is a celebration of positive wellbeing taught through story, flight, meditation and nature. It is designed to help you calm your mind, control your life and gain clarity. She explains the benefits to participants: “You will feel calm and comfortable, relaxed and happy. Life will feel normal again. Those restless, anxious feelings will dissipate, and you’ll be able to think clearly. You won’t want to pull the covers over your head and stay in bed in the morning – you’ll want to leap up and embrace life. You’ll feel balanced and ready to take back control of your life to start focusing on your objectives and what you want for your future to enhance, accelerate and elevate your life. You will feel mentally healthy, happy, and calm.” For more information about both courses, visit www.mightyminds.org.uk or www.mindflight.online.

Mighty Minds is a programme for children

For many of us, the journey to mental wellbeing can be a strange one – and not everyone knows where to start. Here are some experts who can put you on the path to positivity Lisa Whelan worked in the music industry for 14 years for the likes of the Pet Shop Boys, Liam Gallagher, Patsy Kensit and Status Quo. But all that changed in 2001 when she suffered extreme ill health that left her unable to walk for two years. On the brink of severe depression, Lisa managed to turn her life around and went on to study the methods of transformation that had saved her. During this process, she decided that the only important thing in life was to help others reach their full potential and has dedicated the past 20 years to helping others create a positive change in their lives. “When you have experienced something that you know will ease people’s suffering, how can you not share it?” she says.

“The Mighty Minds motto is simple: believe and be brave, and you will run past them all”

Sharing the message

Lisa’s journey began with her book Mind Flight, co-written with Seto Ogali and based on the positive wellbeing teachings that she teaches to this day to adults and children, based on Mind Flight meditation teachings for adults. Lisa started to think about a method that would positively benefit children and future generations too, and the Mighty Minds concept was born. Mighty Minds is a six-week animated online resource for children that builds resilience and mental strength through sport, story, and education. “Your mental health at the time of any challenge or adversity either makes you or breaks you,” says Lisa. “I believe in giving adults and children a positive wellbeing toolkit for life, so whatever challenge is thrown on them, they emerge even more mighty and even more magnificent. No one should have to suffer.”

How to help yourself – and others Lisa Whelan’s top tips to improve your mental wellbeing


Listen Sometimes all we need is for someone to listen to us without giving advice or making judgement. Listening to others also makes our own worries seem less important and eases other people’s burdens.


Smile Smiling helps you and helps others. A smile releases good endorphins, elevating the mind and elevating the mood.


Breathe Focused breathing calms the mind. When we are calm, our world is more peaceful for us and those around us. Just 10 minutes of focused breathing every day will increase your energy levels and boost your immune system, leaving you feeling and looking happier and healthier.


Change If you can’t change the inside, perhaps you can change the outside. Changing our environment can help because it plays a considerable part in determining our mood. Move the furniture around, add some flowers in a new vase, or go outside for a walk.

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Making connections

DID YOU KNOW? Another great The cost of Botox source of support injections in the UK is offered by the can vary from £100 to former mayor £350 per treatment of Colwyn Bay Stephen Williams, who has launched a business and clothing range to support people with mental health issues. Stephen hopes that CBT (Connect Build Transform) will shine a light on problems faced by businesses and individuals across the UK, notably those affected by the pandemic. The cognitive behavioural therapist also has a Mind Free Clothing UK range (www.mindfreeclothinguk.co.uk), emblazoned with hashtags and messages encouraging positivity. Supported by Hwb Menter/ Enterprise Hub at M-SParc on Anglesey, and in collaboration with Mark Bryant from Fast Way to Fitness in Mochdre, Stephen hopes to be able to help people when they need it most.

Top team

“I’ve always been passionate about supporting people with mental health issues, through my role as a councillor and mayor of the Bay of Colwyn, and in other voluntary roles over the years,” says Stephen. “It will be great to work with Mark, who does so much in mental health, fitness and wellbeing coaching, and I’m excited at what lies ahead. I’ve been through the tough times myself when my mum died. It was only when I started to talk that I made the journey out of it, but many of us – especially men – are often too proud to speak about how we feel.” Mark believes the synergy between both organisations made working together a natural next step. “Health, exercise, and mental health and wellbeing go hand in hand, so we can support each other to help people transform their lives,” he says. “There is still a stigma around stress and depression and even talking about the issues we face, but given the events of last year it’s time to open up and be there for one another.”

Why not try… There are many ways to boost your wellbeing. Here are our favourites


Mindfulness This is the act of paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and the world around you.


Meditation This technique focuses the mind on a particular object, thought or activity to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.


Sleep Getting a good night’s sleep directly affects your mental and physical health. Fall short and it can take a serious toll on your energy, productivity, emotional balance and your weight, so it’s vital to ensure you’re doing everything you can such as going to bed at the same time each night.


Nutrition Our diet affects us mentally as well as physically. Some foods release endorphins to give us a feelgood fix, while others contribute to a poor lifestyle and physical health which only brings us down more.


Yoga Practioners of this ancient art praise its ability to transform the way you feel in body and mind.

d  g g n i l F t  d n a e insid It’s not only changes to our thinking that can help with how we’re feeling – sometimes embracing positive improvements to our bodies can also give us a boost, as one Shropshire doctor explains

Having spent months living our personal and professional lives via video links, many people are tired of their Zoom profile – but one Shropshire doctor hopes to help us put our best face forward. Dr Rhiannon Worrall doesn’t aim to give you Love Island lips and cheeks when you visit her Hinstock clinic; her holistic approach to facial aesthetic treatments aims to restore your natural beauty and confidence one step at a time. Brought up in Shropshire, Rhiannon was determined to bring top-of-the-range skincare treatments to her home county and make them affordable enough for anyone to have. “My typical clients are ladies aged 40 upwards whose children have grown up and who are looking to invest in and look after themselves more,” she says. “As the signs of ageing creep in, they can begin to feel like their face no longer reflects them and their personality. “Lots of places offer treatments, but I wanted to offer a safe, professional space where women can come and discuss their needs without judgement and feel confident that they will be fully taken care of. I take a holistic approach to skincare, which means I will take the time to sit down with the client and put together a plan that takes into account all of their skincare needs. “It’s a full rejuvenation plan,” Dr Worrall continues. “Because I’m working with people over a number of months, I go through a real journey with them and it can be quite emotional at times. A lot of medicine is about remembering and applying your knowledge and there’s little room for creativity, but in my aesthetics clinic it’s totally different. I can spend time with people and find out what their issues are and I get to be more creative because every face is different.” For more information about Dr Worrell’s treatments, visit www.rwaesthetic.com.

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y d o b g n i Bring togeer d n i m and One of the best ways to boost our overall health and wellbeing is to take a closer look at our diets. Here we take a look at the simple ways in which you can improve yours If you’re feeling down, slumping in front of the TV and eating a tub of ice cream may offer some temporary comfort but it won’t help with your overall wellbeing. According to the mental health charity Mind, “evidence suggests that as well as affecting our physical health, what we eat may also affect the way we feel. Improving your diet may help to improve your mood, give you more energy and help you think more clearly.” Here are Mind’s suggestions on how to make sure your food helps your mood. Eat regularly A drop in blood sugar can make you feel tired, irritable and depressed.

Manage caffeine Caffeine, mainly found in coffee, tea and chocolate, is a stimulant which means it will give you a quick burst of energy, but then may make you feel anxious or depressed and disturb your sleep.

Eat the right fats

Your brain needs fatty acids, especially omega 3 and 6 – try oily fish, plant oils, nuts and seeds – to keep it working well.

“Improving your diet may help to improve your mood, give you more energy and help you to think more clearly”

Stay hydrated If you don’t drink enough, you may find it difficult to concentrate or think clearly. You might also start to feel constipated (which puts no one in a good mood). Get your five a day Vegetables and fruit contain a lot of the minerals, vitamins and fibre we need to keep us physically and mentally healthy. Look after your gut Your gut can reflect how you are feeling emotionally. If you’re stressed or anxious, you can find it causes gut problems. Get enough protein Protein contains amino acids, which make up the chemicals your brain needs to regulate your thoughts and feelings.

Stock up on supplies One place you can go to fill your cupboards with the right foods is Daisy & Tilly’s Health Food Shop in Shrewsbury. This village store specialises in vegan, gluten-free, local produce, home baking, fine wines, beers and much more. It doesn’t stock big brands, preferring to find alternatives from the many small producers in Shropshire and beyond. So not only will you find organic, nutrient-rich foods, you’ll also be supporting local producers. The same ethos is applied at Ludlow Farmshop, a one-of-a-kind shopping environment where farming, passion for great food and retail come together. As part of the Earl of Plymouth’s Oakly Park Estate, which extends to 8,000 acres of Shropshire countryside, the store farms and supplies all of its own beef, lamb and Gloucester Old Spot pork, along with the milk used to make its cheese and dairy products. Artisan producers make more than half the food, as the farmshop believes in supporting talented food producers.

DID YOU KNOW? Even mild dehydration can impair a person’s mood, memory and brain performance

Best body boost Another great way to make sure your physical self is contributing to your mental wellbeing is by using physical exercise

We’ve all heard about the endorphins that our body releases during exercise that make us feel good – but that isn’t always enough to encourage us to get out and do something about it, especially in the winter months. NHS advice, though, is to get motivated and get fit: “Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness, evidence also shows it can also improve your mental wellbeing by raising your selfesteem, helping you to set goals or challenges and achieve them and causing chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood.” If you can’t face the gym, don’t forget there are many ways to work out in your own home. You can join an online class, follow a routine on YouTube or invest in some home gym equipment – just make sure to keep on moving! If you’d rather get outside for a walk, run or cycle ride, don’t forget to read our hobbies feature on page 40 for advice on how to get started.

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DID YOU KNOW? In 2020 David Knott, a curator at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, hugged 350 trees to raise money for charity

y a w s ’ e r u Nat g n i e b l e to w There’s no doubt that spending time with animals, getting outdoors and surrounding ourselves with nature can all give us a much-needed mental boost

watching videos of cute dogs and puppies can reduce stress; the pet department at OnBuy took its investigations further to find out if cuddling our four-legged friends could reduce stress even more, and if so, which breed was the most effective. The results found that petting a labrador makes our heart rates drop the most, with huskies coming a close second, shortly followed by cocker spaniels.

A treat among the trees

How many of us rely on our canine companions to cheer us up when we’re feeling low, or find ourselves soothed by stroking a cat? Sharing our lives with animals has a built-in benefit for many of us, so it’s time to make the most of the companion animals we have. Another great way to improved wellbeing is spending time If your pets deserve a thank you for the happiness they bring, in nature, with or without your animal friends. If you fancy Petcetera Etc in Whitchurch, Shropshire is the perfect place to reconnecting with Mother Nature in a calming, tranquil way, why not try the latest activity pick up a treat. The team has at Tatton Park in Knutsford, been supplying the nation’s dog and cat lovers with innovative Cheshire, to restore some “If you fancy reconnecting with Mother products for more than 30 inner calm – forest bathing. years and stocks a wide variety Tatton Park is the perfect Nature in a calming, tranquil way, why of products, from training and place to learn more about forest not try the latest activity at Tatton Park” bathing – which is the art of playtime to grooming and much more. Established by reconnecting with nature and Brian Johns in the late 1960s, taking in a forest’s atmosphere during a leisurely walk. The parkland and gardens here Petcetera Etc continues to run as a family business alongside Osmonds Animal Health, and will make sure your beloved pets, boast thousands of trees, some of which have been growing and you, feel as good as can be. for hundreds of years, giving pleasure over the centuries of countless members of the Egerton family, estate workers, rangers, gardeners and, more recently, tourists.

The hounds have it

If you need more persuading that animals have more than a bit of magic when it comes to our mental health, recent research of our online habits looking at the millions of views of “cute dog” compilations on YouTube demonstrates that they tug on our heartstrings when we need them the most. Studies have shown that

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Tatton Park is the perfect place for forest bathing

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Forest bathing has been studied in Japan – where it is called shinrin-yoku – for more than 30 years. Research into the healthboosting properties of trees has looked at the pleasure we feel when walking through a forest or just sitting beneath a tree, and has scientifically proven that spending time among trees reduces stress levels, lowers your blood pressure and heart rate, boosts your immune system and increases feelings of happiness.

Feeling pine

The Pinetum in Tatton Park’s garden is an invigorating introduction to forest bathing. Smell has a greater effect on our mind and body than any other sense. Take a log seat beneath the towering trees and breathe in the scent of pine. Pick up cones and needles from the floor or even run your hands along the branches. Pine resins can help many ailments but are especially helpful for easing breathing problems and aching muscles. The gardens and parkland are open and ready to welcome you, with new safety measures in place across the estate.

Take heart t r a n i

Expressing yourself is a great way to get your mental health under control, as one Shropshire painter discovered during lockdown

Last year’s lockdowns across the UK were hard for many people, but when times were tough for creative designer Clarrie-Anne Cooper from Whitchurch, painting became a form of creative therapy. She believes it helped to improve her anxiety and manage other emotions brought on by isolation and uncertainty. “I started painting in watercolour to move away from the computer and at first found it quite challenging,” she says. “There are traditional methods of working with the medium, but I’ve found my own way through many hours of experimentation.” Having found a great outlet for her creativity, Clarrie-Anne decided sell her artwork to raise money for Mind, the mental health charity. She raised a total of £1,416 with the help of her employer, Cartridge People. “Encouraging creative projects is important for us as a business and the benefits have been outlined by Clarrie-Anne,” says John Flanagan, managing director at Cartridge People. “Customer services, marketing and our website developers are just some of the departments who’ve had to adjust to working from home, and we’ve had to make sure that adjustment doesn’t mean that their mental health is adversely affected. Hopefully people looking to explore their creative sides can follow Clarrie-Anne’s footsteps and absorb the benefits that arts and crafts bring.” January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 37

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Walk in a a winter wonderland It might be cold, it might get dark early, but the air is fresh and if you get a bright day there’s nothing better than a winter walk to lift the spirits and work off a bit of that festive excess… Start the year as you mean to go on – by being active and getting out and about in your local area. There’s no need to wait for spring – wrap up warm and take the first step to a new you with our hints and tips for winter walking, compiled with a little help from the experts at the Ramblers. “There are so many reasons for heading out for a walk,” they say. “Getting into the countryside and connecting with nature is great for our mental health – and is the perfect way to relieve stress and just get away from it all. The festive season can feel particularly overwhelming, particularly if we feel stuck indoors for long hours. “What better way to get your exercise quota than exploring some of the most beautiful routes across Great Britain? If you’re not a seasoned walker, our short routes are a great way to get started. Many people find talking is much easier when you’re walking side by side with someone. So, bring a friend for a walk and talk.”

a spokesperson from the Ramblers. “Exercising the family dog is a simple way to add something different to a walk, but there are plenty of other easy – and free – ways to make a walk special. Games of I spy, collecting objects, treasure hunts or even fancy dress can help liven up walks for disinterested children. “You could also consider incorporating Myriad environments local attractions or adding a picnic to your walk so they have something extra to look forward to. And sometimes children just like to be involved. You could introduce them to map reading, help them pack their own rucksack, take a camera for them to use or let them bring a friend – all things we take for granted as adults but which can make a big difference to children.”

“Walking is a great activity to enjoy as a family”


Pick the right route

Walking is a great activity to enjoy together as a family, and even the youngest members of the tribe can join in if you approach it the right way. “Once you’ve introduced children to walking, the hard part can be keeping them interested,” says


There are sensible precautions you can take when walking with children to make sure they go the distance. Go at their pace and keep walks shorter or plan ways to make a short cut if necessary. It’s better to leave them eager for the next walk than badtempered and reluctant for another outing. Make sure they are wearing the right clothing and footwear and in winter make sure you take some extra layers. Build in toilet and refreshment stops – or take some snacks and drinks with you. Also choose walks with convenient parking Reach new heights or transport links near to your starting point to keep their energies and attention on the walk itself.

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Snap to it While out on a walk you may find yourself wanting to capture the landscape. The Ramblers has these top tips on winter outdoor photography to help you make the most of your excursions


Shorter days offer a great opportunity to get stunning photos of sunset and sunrise. The “golden hour” – the first hour after sunrise and last hour before sunset – is a particularly perfect time to get snapping.


You can find beautiful locations for walks at www.ramblers. org.uk/go-walking, including woodland, park, lake and seaside spots. Try taking your photos from different heights to get a new perspective on a shot.


Take a selfie with a backdrop to remember a walk you’ve been on.


Connect with loved ones by sharing your photos with family and friends on social media. You can also tag the Ramblers so it can see your lovely shots! Follow the Ramblers on Instagram and share your photos using #ramblersgb or #walkinwinter for a chance to be featured on the walking organisation’s social media feeds.


Why not show your support for the organisation that helps us all find and make the most of Britain’s beautiful walking routes and become a member of the Ramblers? As a member, you’ll be part of an organisation which represents and campaigns for the interests of all walkers in Britain. You will be directly contributing to their work to protect and expand the places people walk and promote walking for health and pleasure. In the past year, the Ramblers has: • Saved over 800 paths from being blocked, closed or badly diverted • Encouraged more than 88,000 people to start walking • Safeguarded 140,000 miles of public path For more information on how to join and the benefits it offers, visit www.ramblers.org.uk/membership


Walking is a relatively cheap and easy pastime and most routes don’t require much equipment, but it’s worth taking the essentials with you to make it easier for everyone. Here are the key items to keep close at hand wherever you wander… WATERPROOF JACKET

Place this in the very top of your backpack, so it’s close at hand if it starts raining.


If you don’t like to carry these items on your person, keep them in the inside lid pocket of your backpack.



To keep safe while walking.


If your map isn’t weatherproof, carry it in a map case or a plastic pocket.


And don’t forget any regular medication you may need.


Make sure it holds at least one litre.

A double-walled metal vacuum flask is the best way to drinks warm on a long walk.


Take a mix of slow-release and quick-release carbs.




Essential if heading for remote areas.

Wear multiple layers so you maintain a good temperature. If you stop for a moment, layer up – you’ll cool down quickly.


Very useful if your walk will finish in the dark.

EMERGENCY CONTACT DETAILS Ensure a relative can be contacted in an emergency.


Keep that low winter sun out of your eyes.

Nothing ruins a winter walk like wet feet!


An easy way to attract attention in an emergency.


Safety pins, duct tape and a spare boot lace can be useful for making emergency repairs.


Be prepared

If it’s icy or snowy, crampons can help keep you safe. They are a traction device attached to your walking boots. They can be carried easily in your rucksack. January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 39

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different Do something

this year

Having fulfilling and interesting hobbies has never been more important than it is in the age of self-isolating and lockdowns. And the new year is a perfect time to try something new…

When a new year begins, many of us take advantage of the opportunity for a fresh start and begin a new hobby – and if 2020 taught us anything it’s that there’s no time like the present. So, in 2021, should you learn a language, join a gym, write a book or embrace your inner artist? Whatever you fancy trying, time is of the essence. Sign up for a class and get started before we get hit with another lockdown; or if you’re furloughed, it’s the perfect time to begin your masterpiece, whether that’s a novel or a painting or a sculpture; or, now that everyone’s health is under greater scrutiny, it could be the ideal moment to get properly fit. Before deciding which direction your new pastime is going to take, it’s worth thinking about what you want to achieve. To help, some new studies carried out by Fitbit have analysed the reaction our bodies have to various hobbies.

RESTFUL OR REVITALISING? As part of the study, data was collected from a group of British people (aged between 20 and 30) wearing a Fitbit while completing 20 different hobbies over the space of a few weeks. This revealed how each hobby affected their heartbeats, with those that reduced it to a lower rate being considered good for reducing stress as well as keeping us occupied. The results, compiled by www.diys.com, produced this list of the top five most relaxing hobbies…

DID YOU KNOW? Other hobbies in the Fitbit test that might seem relaxing, such as yoga, baking and tai chi, were actually shown to raise average heart rate

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KNITTING In first place is a hobby that has been growing in popularity for some years – notably among young people, thanks to knitting video clips on TikTok. Participants were recorded with an average resting heartbeat of 65 beats per minute, which made it clearly the most relaxing hobby you can take up. In fact, the data showed knitting can decrease the average heart rate (80 beats per minute) by 18.75 per cent.

FISHING TV’s Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse must be on to something! With an average heart rate of 72 beats per minute, and decreasing the average by 10 per cent, it’s no wonder people are grabbing the bait and throwing a line.

BLOGGING Whatever, your chosen subject, whatever thoughts you have, get in front of a keyboard and publish them online! Blogging can decrease your resting heart rate by 7.5 per cent.

CALLIGRAPHY With its slow and steady brush or pen strokes, calligraphy can be extremely calming and satisfying hobby, bringing participants’ average heart rates down to 74 beats per minute.

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PAINTING Completing the top five is this therapeutic hobby, which can decrease your resting heart rate by 3.75 per cent down to an average of 77 beats per minute.

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“Over the space of a few weeks, data revealed how each hobby affected people’s heartbeats” OR FOR THE OPPOSITE EFFECT… Relaxing and calming doesn’t do the job for some people, who want an active hobby that does the opposite and gets your heart beating faster! The Fitbit data also picked out which hobbies raised the heart rate of those taking part, and the one that had the biggest impact was cycling. Riding a bike was found to get hearts racing at a whopping average of 175 beats per minute – almost three times higher than the most relaxing hobby of knitting. But whether you want an adrenaline rush or some relaxation, there are many places and people to help you get started across the Shire patch. Over the following pages we’ve picked out some of our own suggestions and pointed you in the right direction for some local expertise.

Take part in some art Bringing out your creative side can be a hugely satisfying endeavour. There are plenty of local places you can find inspiration

ENDLESS INVENTIVE IDEAS As life starts to return to normal in 2021 and we’re able to meet safely in groups once more, says Janet, it will be easier to return to classes. “It’s a good idea to look out for small classes or maybe take a class for one or two people, or even better go with a friend and make it a real treat while learning a new hobby: painting, pottery, woodwork and woodland skills or maybe something like crochet, knitting or jewellery making. The ideas are endless, but it really all depends on you and what you want. “Think about your time, your space to be creative and the finances you have spare to put into your new hobby. Many of our visiting artists started off in a small way, just with a hobby, and it grew into a mini business or more. Why not have a go? Do something different or something maybe you’ve wanted to do for years. For me, I fancy painting and upcycling furniture. I think the connection with vintage and antiques gives me a love for this, as well as hating waste. If you can fix it, mend it or create something new from old, that suits me. Maybe this year I will find time to have a go myself!” For more about Afonwen Craft Centre and everything it offers, visit www.afonwen.co.uk or call 01352 720965. You can also check out Shire’s regular crafts column to see which visiting artists are coming to Afonwen soon on page 87.

A lot of people have a creative side to them that never sees the light of day. Maybe this is due to time restrictions, fear of failure, or just because we’ve never given it much thought. But expressing ourselves in some way through artistic and creative outlets is both rewarding and mentally stimulating too. Who better to explain the importance of getting your creative juices flowing than Janet Monshin Dallolio, Shire’s very own craft columnist? Janet is also the owner of the Afonwen Craft Centre where a vast range of activities can be tried out or observed. “Lockdowns and the whole pandemic experience have made many of us think a little differently,” says Janet. “The new year is the perfect time to think about a new hobby or craft and something to fill our time and brighten our days. I’ve been amazed to discover north Wales has an abundance of local crafters and artists, more than we ever realised. “When taking up a new craft or hobby you can start small, testing it out and seeing if it’s for you. With so much technology in the world now we can Google anything we like and get an answer or use YouTube to find out how it’s done! Before the pandemic you may have considered going to an art class or booking in for some pottery lessons – this has been a bit tricky of late and we have to be a little more careful and inventive.


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DID YOU KNOW? The documentary I Remember Better When I Paint showed the cognitive benefits of art for people with dementia

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Afonwen is not the only centre in the area that celebrates and champions local artists and craftspeople working and creating locally – we are lucky to be blessed with several such places! Another one that can provide some artistic inspiration is the Ruthin Craft Centre, which is keen to welcome visitors to its galleries as soon as restrictions allow. At any one time the centre has a range of exhibitions, with associated talks and workshops often held in conjunction with the main show. It welcomes school groups and families as well as those wishing to join a class and have a go. If you and your family fancy taking on a new hobby you can do together, then there are options of workshops for all ages. Continued on next page January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 41

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Ruthin Craft Centre holds regular craft clubs, split into age groups, for children who want to explore and discover exciting craft artwork and work alongside the centre’s talented team of artists and makers. If you want to get stuck in together, you can unleash your creativity during a Family Fun day when everyone can be inspired by the gallery exhibitions, get involved and enjoy a selection of artistic activities throughout the day. For more about Ruthin Craft Centre’s events and activities visit www.ruthincraftcentre.org.uk or call 01824 704774.

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STOCK UP ON SUPPLIES If you’re looking for somewhere that can provide inspiration as well as all your crafting supplies to get your new hobby started, try Corwen Manor Craft Centre. The building started life in 1839 as the old Union Workhouse. It was purchased by the Sayer family in 1989 and is now a thriving craft centre with a workshop where candles are made – in fact it’s renowned for its vast range of novelty candles. The craft shop has a full range of Welsh gifts, handmade products from north Wales and a wool shop. The building itself is interesting historically and offers a diversity of interest both historical and practical, from legendary detectives to a Dickensian-themed past – all set in the picturesque Dee Valley. So whether you collect frogs, dogs, cats, pigs, dragons, owls or teddy bears you’re sure to find them at Corwen Manor. There’s a full range of candle-making and craft supplies on sale so whatever you want to try, there’s a good chance the shop can to equip you for it. Search for Corwen Manor on Facebook to see the full range.

PICK UP A PALETTE Once you’re all set with everything you need to embark on your artistic endeavours, perhaps you could still use a bit of guidance to get you going? It can be really helpful to enrol on an art class or take up some private tuition. Andrew Jenkin is a north

A way with words Reading If you love a game of Scrabble, enjoy tackling a crossword or love to compose a letter, you could look into a hobby that embraces your love of language and words. The simplest way of doing this would be by reading more – a pledge many of us make at the start of a new year. If you need some inspiration, check out our reviews and suggestions from the experts at Linghams Bookshop on page 109. Or if you need more encouragement, why not set up a book group with like-minded friends? Pick a novel and then get together to discuss it – over the internet for now, and perhaps in person soon. If you can’t find anyone else to join you, many libraries have book groups set up already, and there are also some famous ones such as the BBC Radio 2 book club or Richard and Judy’s book club, both of which can be found online.

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DID YOU KNOW? The Royal Watercolours Society was founded in 1804, inspired by the work of Thomas Girtin, Louis Dacros and JMW Turner among others

Wales-based artist who offers watercolour classes to anyone from complete beginners to capable painters. He’s currently operating from his virtual studio, with classes held online: these include tutorials, live videos, chat and feedback using Zoom. During the course you will build a solid foundation in watercolour painting, learn how to master various brush techniques, understand your materials and achieve amazing colour mixes to create your own watercolour paintings, step by step. If you’re an experienced painter who has tried watercolours and feels a bit stuck, or wants to loosen up, then the classes can allow you to take your watercolour skills to the next level with engaging challenges and constructive technical critique from Andrew. The course costs £25 per month on a rolling month-to-month basis. You may pause and resume tuition at any time. For more details visit www.andrewjenkin.co.uk or call 07788 542695.

Writing Perhaps you’re more inclined to write your own book? Although the UK publishes more books per capita than any other country, it is still a huge challenge to get into print – but maybe that should not be the end goal. Writing for pleasure can be fulfilling in itself. If you’re hoping to get started this year, one of the best places in Britain to get stuck in is here in the Shire region at Ty Newydd, the National Writing Centre of Wales. Established in 1990, the centre has seen thousands of aspiring writers pass through its doors, and once it can welcome visitors again for its courses it’s a perfect option for any budding author. Ty Newydd specialises in residential creative writing courses and retreats, and guests spend time under the tutelage of professional writers, taking part in workshops and one-to-one tutorials, enjoying readings and the inspirational setting. Some of the courses specialise in poetry as well as prose – but if you can’t wait that long to get your next verse together, don’t forget Shire has its very own poetry section and we’d love to see your poems in print! Turn to page 109 to see the offerings that made it into this edition and get inspired to send us yours for the next one.

42 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2021

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Food glorious food

While some people see food as mere fuel, for others it is an everyday delight that produces great pleasure and satisfaction. If that’s you, or you’d like it to be, why not develop your culinary skills this year? There are multiple ways to get you started, but for serious inspiration to whet your appetite we’d suggest paying a visit to Porters Deli in Llangollen. Once you’ve seen the dazzling array of delicious delights on offer, you’ll be straight off to try your hand at pickling, preserving, cheese-making, baking and brewing just as fast as you can get your pinny on! Here are Shire’s top five hobby suggestions for foodies to try…


Brew your own beer With restrictions on going to the pub, bring the pub to you!

Pickle and preserve fruit and vegetables A great way of reducing waste as well as extending the season of produce.



Carve your own wooden spoon And then feel a sense of achievement every time you stir something tasty.

Try cheese-making A simple kit is all you need to get your dairy treats going at home.



Nurture and grow a sourdough starter This can be used to bake bread, crumpets and much more.

Get out and about An active hobby brings you the benefits of exercise and fresh air as well as the mental boost of getting out into the countryside or seeing new scenery. These are the nation’s favourite outdoor activities WALKING Whether for pleasure or just to get from A to B, walking is a hugely beneficial pastime. And we couldn’t think of anyone better to ask why we should take a hike as a hobby than the Ramblers (formerly known as the Ramblers Association). “Millions of us have found comfort in walking and nature this year: being able to walk in nature-filled green spaces close to where we live has proved more important to us than ever during the Covid-19 lockdowns,” said a spokesperson. “Recent research for the Ramblers by YouGov found that 78 per cent of people said they intended to walk more than they did before. “There is growing evidence for the health and wellbeing benefits of walking. It is a great way to lower your chances of developing all sorts of health conditions such as heart problems, strokes, diabetes, dementia or even cancer. A good walk lowers stress levels, improves the quality of sleep, strengthens bones, reduces blood pressure, improves our thinking and makes us feel uplifted. “Every season has its charm for walkers, and while the days might be shorter and the weather colder, north Wales, Shropshire and Cheshire all have lots to offer walkers at this time of year. The Ramblers’ Walk in Winter campaign is all about winter walking, which can be a great way to blow away the cobwebs, get away from it all and ‘reset’ for the start of a new year by enjoying some magical surroundings. You don’t need any special equipment – just a good, stout pair of shoes or boots. There’s a free Ramblers guide to winter walking to help you get started, which you can download at www.ramblers.org.uk/go-walking/ walk-in-winter.aspx. So get your coat, get out there and enjoy!” Visit www.ramblers.org.uk, click “Go walking” and enter your area in the search box to find great walks near you. In Cheshire you can also visit www.ramblerssouthcheshire.org.uk, www.nmc-ramblers.org.uk and www.cheshirewalkers.org.

DID YOU KNOW? The record for the longest unbroken walk is 19,019 miles, from Tierra del Fuego to northern Alaska, by British adventurer George Meegan

Continued on next page January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 43

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RUNNING More people than ever took up running during the first lockdown last year. The benefits are obvious – it’s a great way to get fit, it’s good for your cardiac and muscular health and it’s relatively easy to do. You don’t really need anything more than a pair of trainers to start running – unless you want to, as there is a huge range of gear and gadgets available! It’s so flexible, too: you can do what you like, when you like – there is no fixed schedule or need to get to a certain place and with the abundance of supportive apps now available, you can get the advice and encouragement you need at a time and place to suit you. One great place to look for loads of information and challenges to keep you motivated, as well as details of local running groups to join, is www.irun.wales. As Wales’ biggest social running community, it celebrates people and groups who run, jog and walk their way to a more active lifestyle – regardless of age, fitness level, aspiration, background or location.

DID YOU KNOW? Gliding as a sport was developed in Germany in the 1920s, when the country was banned from building powered aircraft


If you choose to take up fishing this year you could fill your freezer at the same time as spending time outdoors relaxing! Obviously you need to make sure you have the right permits and licences, so you can’t just fling your rod over your shoulder and stop by a stream, but once you have sorted out what kind of fishing you want to do it is a supremely enjoyable way to spend a day. Fishing may seem like a gentle, laid-back pastime but it can be quite active. Options like fly fishing and surf fishing need quite a lot of physical input – and even standard coarse fishing can test you if you’re lucky enough to land a whopper! It’s a pastime that has been popular for centuries so there are many clubs and groups to join or just consult for advice if you haven’t fished before. One website that will help you get started is the home of the Angling Trust at www.anglingtrust.net. The trust is the national governing body representing all game, coarse and sea angling in England, and its aim is to develop the sport from grassroots participation through to elite performance. It works with clubs across the country and has links to local ones online, to increase participation, particularly among groups who have yet to discover the joys of going fishing. 44 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2021

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GLIDING Take to the skies and let yourself fly free… what could be a more relaxing hobby? If you fancy getting a look at the local area from a whole new angle, and you’ve got a decent head for heights, gliding could be the hobby for you. For a good starting point, make contact with Midland Gliding Club in Church Stretton. This historic group operates flights across the Long Mynd taking in the stunning Shropshire scenery – you can join for a taster flight or sign up for a course and learn to pilot yourself through the skies. The courses include glider hire and all safety instruction as well as the opportunity to progress to future courses, so join the club and reach great heights… literally. Visit www.midlandgliding.club.

CLAY PIGEON SHOOTING For a traditional country pursuit that doesn’t involve harming animals, you could try clay pigeon shooting. Once the preserve of affluent landowners, the sport has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years and is now a popular choice for hen and stag parties as well as hobbyists. Cheshire in particular has a wealth of opportunities if you fancy trying it: shooting is available at Catton Hall and Mickley Hall as well as in the purpose-built shooting ground at Holmes Chapel and with the Tattenhall Gun Club. There are plenty of places for pot-shot practice, and they’re helpfully listed on the website www.shootinguk.co.uk/shooting/ clay-shooting, where you can also search for shooting clubs near you. fire!


If you want to get out and about but the standard hobbies don’t interest you, here are some more unusual suggestions that you may find intriguing

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“Fishing may seem like a gentle, laid-back pastime but it can be quite active”

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Another popular outdoor choice is to swap two feet for two wheels and get out on a bike. Again, once you’ve got hold of a bike, this is an activity you can do at a time and place of your choosing – whether that’s an enjoyable pootle along a country lane, a fast blast along a track or an adrenaline-pumping plummet down a challenging mountainside! Whatever type of cyclist you are, there are only a few rules to remember: wear a helmet – it’s daft not to – and if you’re on public roads, make sure you’re familiar with the rules of the road for cyclists. If you want to make your hobby more sociable, there are plenty of cycling clubs around. The Shropshire branch of Cycling UK offers help for all levels of cyclist, organising regular rides and social events throughout the year and helping cyclists make the most of the beautiful county with its bountiful hills and empty country lanes. The Cycling UK website at www.cyclinguk.org has links to loads of local organisations as well as tips and advice for both novice and experienced cyclists.


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Afonwen North Wales


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Enjoy a hot Neff coffee while you browse or have an informal chat with our designer about your project. You can also see your new virtual kitchen, get a feel for the space on our top of the range CAD system. This puts you in the driving seat, ensuring you get the perfect kitchen for you and your family that you can delight in for many years to come.

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GRANTS TO GO GREEN The government has announced a series of measures to encourage more environmentally-friendly technology and adaptation to our homes, including grants for those who qualify


reen Home Grants are being offered as part of a drive to make homes more efficient by retro-fitting old ones with better insulation, or replacing old gas boilers with new electric pumps that convert and concentrate heat underground into central heating for our homes. If you are a homeowner or residential landlord, you can apply for a Green Homes Grant voucher towards the cost of installing energy-efficient improvements to your home. Improvements could include insulating your home to reduce your energy use or installing low“If you’re a carbon heating to lower the amount of homeowner carbon dioxide your home produces. or residential Not everyone will qualify for the landlord you government assistance and if you do you must redeem the voucher and ensure improvements can apply for the grant” are completed by 31st March 2022.

yourself, but broadly speaking the vouchers will cover two-thirds of the cost of eligible improvements, up to a maximum government contribution of £5,000. If you, or someone in your household, receives certain benefits you may Apply online for assistance be eligible for a voucher covering 100 per cent of the cost of the improvements. The maximum value of the voucher is £10,000. The available measures are split into “primary” and “secondary” measures, and you have to agree to fit one from the primary list of insulation types or low-carbon heat sources before you qualify to choose an option from the secondary measures such as windows,

Tough task

The UK has a heritage of leaky, draughty housing stock, but before this scheme was launched there was no financial assistance offered for those trying to improve it. This grant – along with a pledge to replace 600,000 home heating systems a year by 2028 – takes the scale of improvements up a pace and should make it a simpler task for many of us. Heat pumps are just one alternative that would be a great improvement for almost any home – both in environmental and financial benefit. But they are expensive to install and not many people will be eligible to have one fitted under this scheme. The criteria are variable, A ground source heat pump is one option so it is worth checking for

Will you qualify for green improvements to your home?

doors, heating controls and insulation. Once you have agreed your project and selected one of the experts from the recommended list, you can go head and get the work done and the voucher, for either all or some of the cost, will cover the labour, materials and VAT.

Check out the improvements you could make and apply online at www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-forthe-green-homes-grant-scheme January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 47

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TIME TO BUY We’ve all been spending more time at home than ever, and now the shops are reopening in time for big January sales, is it time to invest in your nest?


f 2020 taught us anything it was that the place where we live is pretty important. Luckily the new year has brought more than just fresh vaccine hope, it has brought all the usual January sales we love. Here at Shire we know you’ll be keen to refresh your interior, replace those things that have been worn down with the added pressure of lockdown and generally get your home shipshape for spring. And luckily for us, we have a wealth of local businesses and suppliers happy to help us achieve the interior of our dreams. Any home makeover starts with a browse of some of the firms that have showrooms packed with ideas and inspiration. Here are a few of the Shire team’s favourites…

Caprice, Bangor

Established in 1983 in Bangor High Street, this family firm aims to supply quality furniture, carpets and beds at reasonable prices, with a commitment to customer service and reliability. During the past 37 years, the company has grown to be a successful business and has recently moved to new premises at the Tesco roundabout. Caprice is still a family-run firm, with Malcolm Morris The new Caprice showroom as chairman, Neal Morris as managing director and Dominic McGrath as sales director, heading a sales team with vast experience in the retail furnishing industry. Pop in to see the range on offer and you’ll find the atmosphere in store both cordial and inviting. www.capricebangor.co.uk

Warner Furnishings, Shrewsbury

high-quality couches and sofas, durable soft furnishings and hard-wearing upholstery. “Stokers has The team has years of experience in home been helping furnishing and is very happy to answer any families questions you may have about the company’s furnish their bespoke furniture or branded products such as home for over Parker Knoll, Cintique, Celebrity and more. 120 years” Warner Furnishings takes pride in helping you create the perfect customdesigned furniture for your home, whether that means a fully bespoke sofa or suite as part of a new interior design, or just the addition of the perfect armchair, recliner or occasional piece of furniture to your room. www.warnerfurnishings.co.uk

Hafren Furnishers, Llanidloes

Located just off the A470, Hafren Furnishers has an enviable reputation that has spread far and wide, with satisfied customers returning from all over Wales and England. Its vast furniture showroom, just under the size of a standard football pitch, offers maximum choice of products. There are literally hundreds in stock, available immediately, to help you make your house a home. Hafren Furnishers You can find living, dining and bedroom furniture here, as well as conservatory, home office and home accessories such as lamps, mirrors, bedding, pictures and more. Hafren continues to deliver anywhere in England and Wales free of charge – a big part of its customer service. All leading furniture brands are on display in the showroom, including GPlan, Parker Knoll, Stressless, Duresta, Ercol, Stressless, Tetrad and Himolla. The staff believe in giving honest, impartial advice to customers, giving the right product at the best value, and none of them works on commission.

Since 1977, Warner Furnishings has built a reputation for creating beautiful bespoke upholstered sofas, chairs and recliners. Based on Wenlock Road, the showroom is just 10 minutes from the M54 and has ample free parking. The showroom is home to a wide range of

Stokers Fine Furniture

Stokers Fine Furniture, Chester

Warner Furnishings in Shrewsbury

Stokers has been helping families furnish their homes for over 120 years. Whether it’s snuggling up on your sofa, catch-ups at the kitchen table or falling into bed at the end of the day, the company believes your home should be a place of comfort. There has never been a more important time to love your home and there has never been a better time to buy furniture than in the Stokers winter sale. There are fantastic half-price offers and special deals on top brands including manual to power recliner upgrades, three-seater sofa for the price of a two-seater sofa, free

48 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2021

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HOMES & INTERIORS DID YOU KNOW? In 2019, British households spent £17bn on furniture and furnishings

accessories such as coat racks, pictures, lamps, mirrors, magazine tables, pouffes, rugs and more. www.shannonsales.co.uk

Cousins Furniture, Shrewsbury

Founded in 1984, Cousins was the brainchild of two brothers, Robert and Edward Shotton, and their cousin William. Their first showroom featured many of the brands still displayed today, including Parker Knoll, GPlan and Ercol. Cousins Furniture Shrewsbury store is home to an exclusive bespoke sofa department. Cousins Bespoke, located at the former Alan Ward premises in Ennerdale Road, offers customers a personal, made-to-measure service. Every sofa, chair and corner group is bench-made and handcrafted to suit your own individual style,

Shannon Sales stocks a range of well-known brands

storage drawers in beds and free pillows on selected bed brands. When it comes to delivery, Stokers has got it all wrapped up with its own deliverymen who will put your furniture where you want it, assemble and take all the packaging away too. With inspiring interiors and styles to suit every room, Stokers has everything you need to make your house a home. www.stokers.co.uk

Shannon Sales, Chirk

With a beautiful showroom and a team of local experts, Shannon Sales specialises in stunning luxury furniture and flooring for every room in your home. Stocking everything from stunning artwork that reminds you of a beautiful holiday to sofas so comfortable you’ll be reluctant to move, Shannon Sales has a wide range including some very well-known brands such as Alstons, Sherborne, Celebrity, Kingstown, Ancient Mariner, Willis & Gambier, Corndell, Bentley Designs, Rauch, Rest Assured, Harrison Spinks Beds, Health Beds and many more, as well as being a specialist in Karndean flooring. The showroom also stocks a wide range of

Cousins Bespoke sofa department is now open in Shrewsbury

specific dimensions and comfort preferences. If you have a seating puzzle, Cousins Bespoke could well be the answer. Customers can also take advantage of the new Hammonds kitchen studio, just opened in the Shrewsbury showroom. You can enjoy extra discounts on all sale prices this January. You can also pay nothing for a year, with no deposit required. www.cousinsfurniture.co.uk

for the chance to get an even lower price on beds, mattresses or furniture than normal, look no further than Dial A Mattress.

Now To Bed, Prestatyn and Llandudno

etting your bed exactly how you want it is crucial – not only for a good night’s sleep but also for your posture, for back support and to avoid neck problems. Whether it’s the size or shape of your bed that needs to change, or a simple refresh of a mattress that’s in order, here are some of the best bed stores in the area.

The company’s Prestatyn store displays 50 beds and 30 mattresses from many brands including Hypnos, Sealy, Relyon, Healthbeds, Salus, Highgrove, Serene and more, and promises exceptional service whether you’re spending £89 on a headboard or over £5,000 on a divan set. The winter sale starts in store at 10am on 29th December with Modern looks at Now To Bed up to 50 per cent savings on big brands such as Hypnos, Relyon, Harrison Spinks, Dunlopillo, Millbrook and more, and a special offer of two free drawers with every divan set purchased during the sale, saving an extra £100.

Dial A Mattress, Shrewsbury and Telford

North Wales Beds, nr Wrexham


What started as a small shop in 2004 has now opened in a larger showroom in Shrewsbury, with a warehouse in Telford providing a same-day/next-day delivery service. The store is an agent for a host of manufacturers, including Silentnight, Julian Bowen, Kozee Sleep, Slumberland, Dura Beds, Kayflex, Sweet Dreams, Furmanac, Limelight Beds, Metal Beds and Time Living. There are special offers running throughout the year so Choose the right mattress

North Wales Beds was established over 25 years ago in Rhyl, and its main showroom in Gwersyllt near Wrexham displays more than 100 beds. The company’s price policy is to bring the customers its best offers every day, giving genuine low prices all year round. In store you’ll also find a Wellbeing Centre with a selection of electric adjustable beds so you can adjust your body to a comfortable sleeping North Wales Beds position at the knee, hip, back and neck.

50 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2021

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f Shropshire were a year, it But buying a property isn’t should be 2021. This year, about a tax advantage. It’s about our county will be a place of new beginnings, building a home renewal and fresh opportunities. and investing in the future. It will be a far cry from 2020. With our outstanding NHS Last year started with a bang. and medical scientists putting us Brexit had passed an enormous on the road to Covid recovery, hurdle and the property we can look forward to market responded a bright and optimistic “Buyers quickly, but by the end 2021. I believe that will carry of March we were in the property market in on being lockdown. The market our region will remain attracted by ground to a halt and active through the year, our fantastic many in the property with values continuing way of life” industry wondered if to rise. Buyers will carry they’d survive. on being attracted by But by July we had no time our fantastic way of life, and to worry because we had the opportunities will be many. surprise of our lives. Thousands I’m calling 2021 by the and thousands of people were name of our county. So I wish fleeing the major metropolitan everyone, especially all our areas, seeking a quieter, healthier clients – old, new and future – life in peaceful places with room a very happy, prosperous and to breathe. They were looking healthy Shropshire! for places like Shropshire. Suddenly, we’d never been Russell Griffin is director busier. It was astonishing of Samuel Wood, which has summer and autumn. Things branches in Shrewsbury, have now settled down a bit, but Ludlow, Craven Arms there is still a tremendous job and Church Stretton. to do getting pipeline sales over Call 01743 272710 or visit the line before the stamp duty www.samuelwood.co.uk holiday ends on 31st March. January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 51

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ire alarms use a range of sensors to detect various types of fire, each suited for different rooms of a property. It would therefore seem you’d need a lot of alarms to protect a single home,

Multi-sensors are a sensible choice

but there is an alternative – multi-sensor alarms. This type of alarm contains combinations of sensor types that work together to provide maximum coverage. At Aico, we provide two multi-sensor products: the Ei3024 and the Ei3028. The Ei3024 is fitted with optical and heat sensors. The optical sensor is triggered by smoke, while the heat sensor triggers at 58°C. If the heat sensor detects a significant rise in temperature, the sensitivity of the optical sensor automatically increases. The Ei3028 is fitted with heat and carbon monoxide (CO) sensors. The CO sensor triggers whenever carbon monoxide gas is detected, while the heat sensor is again set to trigger at

58°C. This provides both fire detection and CO detection in one intelligent alarm. The benefits of a multisensor alarm include: • Cost effective – buy one alarm instead of two • Intelligent fire detection • Increased resistance to false alarms Every kitchen is a potential fire risk, but many kitchens are also at risk of a CO leak if they have a fuel-burning appliance. This situation is what our multisensors were designed for. Not only are you guaranteed the highest level of protection from heat and CO, but it’s also cost effective because you only need to buy one alarm to cover this high-risk area. If you have an open-plan kitchen that forms

Join the Shire team

Would you like to work at home? Do you like communicating with people Do you have sales experience?

If you’re a good communicator and will enjoy building relationships with clients for the best regional magazine covering Wales and the Borders, we want to talk to you. Due to rapid growth, there is now an opportunity for a new member to join our team. You can work from home, with hours to suit you, liaising with advertisers to help them choose their campaign and their coverage in the magazine. You are a charismatic and proactive self-starter who enjoys working on your own initiative, and are outgoing and personable. You are highly organised, and have good computer skills. Above all else, you are a trustworthy and hardworking individual, someone who gets a real buzz from achieving results for clients. Please email with a covering letter and your CV to advertising@shiremagazine.co.uk, marked ‘Work from home’ as the subject to find out more.

Your business will feel right at home in Shire Magazine Expert homes & interiors advice, and fabulous shopping pages filled with inspiration

Aico’s multi-sensor range

part of the escape route from your home, you could choose a smoke and heat alarm. For more information about Aico, visit www.aico.co.uk, call 01691 664100 or email enquiries@aico.co.uk

Get in touch 01691 661270 advertising@shiremagazine.co.uk

52 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2021

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Perfect inside and out It isn’t only your home’s interior that needs to look the part – make sure your house has some great kerb appeal with a little help from some of these local companies


inding the perfect finishing touches to your home’s exterior is easy in the Shire area. We are blessed with a fantastic range of garden centres, country stores and window and door companies that are only too happy to help you make a great first impression.

Jackson’s Boutique Garden Centre, nr Rhyl

Find the perfect plants at Charlies

and Queensferry. The stores stock everything you’d expect from a garden centre and country store, and the site at Coed-y-Dinas is no exception. The unique and beautiful shopping centre was originally the Home Farm for Powis Castle and the magnificent buildings have been restored with great care, retaining many of the original unusual features. www.charlies.co.uk

This award-winning, independent garden centre in “Make your Trelawnyd, Rhyl, prides itself on providing carefully selected North Wales Doors, Rhyl home’s products brought to you with an old-fashioned commitment Make your home’s entrance as stunning as it is practical entrance as to customer service. The business is a destination of choice at North Wales Doors. stunning as it for gardeners, friends and families across north Wales The team stocks a range is practical” and north-west England, and has a team that brings its of composite doors and horticultural knowledge, A-rated uPVC and passion and experience to aluminium windows, help gardeners, and a huge range of bi-folding door sets, sliding doors outdoor furnishings and accessories. and garage doors – all of which www.jacksonsgardencentre.com come pre-finished and offer greater thermal values than older windows Charlies, Coed-y-Dinas and doors, and higher security. The team can also help transform Coed-y-Dinas is one of seven stores that your home’s interior with a makes up the Charlies Stores Group; comprehensive range of internal you can also find them in Newtown, Add style to your exterior doors. www.northwalesdoors.com Garden furniture at Jackson’s Aberystwyth, Carmarthen, Shrewsbury

Don’t forget the soft stuff


F Tweedmill throws

This is the perfect time of year to invest in some gorgeous soft throws, cushions and blankets to keep you warm and cosy on those colder evenings


f you want to freshen up your interiors without investing in huge new furniture ranges or big pieces, why not add a few soft furnishings to create a whole new look for less. The stunning ebony and ivory textile design below looks great on the new off-white and black bedspread pattern from Trefriw Woollen Mills. Prices start at £140 plus postage for a 127cm x 178cm throw (www.t-w-m.co.uk). Alternatively, check out the amazing range of textile treats from the experts at Tweedmill, a long-established firm based in Flint on the edge of the River Dee. Home to over 1,000 products covering home, accessories, outdoors and babies, the company supplies high-street shops, national department stores, garden centres and historic tourist venues, so check out the website to browse the products and find a stockist Make a statement with monochrome near you (www.tweedmill.com).

ollowing another fantastic year for the company, Garolla just keeps on expanding, bringing high-quality roller garage door systems to thousands of homes across the country. With more installers than ever before, Garolla operates in your area and is ready to install a strong and thermally efficient roller garage door to your home. With Garolla there are no pushy salesmen or inflated prices – just its best quote up “Expert front. Just call its dedicated customer craftsmen enquiries team with the measurements of ensure your door and Garolla will do the rest. every detail You can meet your local Garolla garage door is perfect” fitter when they come to survey your property. With years of experience and regular training at the Garolla HQ, they’ll ensure your home is ready for a new door and make any recommendations that could improve the job. Garolla makes all of its garage doors at its factory in Leeds, where expert craftsmen ensure every detail is perfect. On the day of your installation, your local installer will remove your old garage door and replace it with your made-to-measure Garolla roller garage door, ensuring a snug and secure fit. Your local installer will also take your old door away and recycle this for you, free of charge. When the installation Roller garage doors are snug and stylish is complete, your local installer will go through the any questions you may have and show you how to use your new roller garage door. For more information, or to receive an instant free quote, call 0800 468 1982 or visit www.garolla.co.uk. January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 53

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New Homes BEAUTIFUL BEDROOMS If a bedroom revamp is on the cards, check out the latest range from The Range – available in store at Shrewsbury, Chester, Wrexham, Rhyl and Queensferry

Tap into instant style The huge surge in tea drinking during lockdown has provided a welcome boost for one kitchen tap specialist based in Cheshire


he Range has recently launched its new Suffolk furniture collection, comprised of two choices of wardrobes, a bedside cabinet and a chest of drawers – perfect for anyone who would like to give their bedroom a contemporary edge. Whether you’re looking for a collection that’s sophisticated enough for your master bedroom or something classy to fill a spare room, this collection will add a modern touch to your home. The Suffolk three-door mirror sliding wardrobe is a large, spacious wardrobe perfect for those who need extra space to store all their clothes and accessories. A second, smaller alternative is available that fits the same contemporary aesthetic while taking up slightly less room. A matching four-drawer chest in the same matte graphite grey, with dulled silver, oval handles, adds to the collection, along with a tall, blocky three-drawer bedside cabinet to finish the look. The Suffolk range comprises the threedoor mirror sliding wardrobe, £299.99; three-door wardrobe, £249.99; four-drawer chest, £99.99 and three-drawer beside cabinet, £69.99


aking a brew has long been a British remedy for keeping calm and carrying on in times of crisis and that’s exactly what the nation did during last year’s lockdown, enjoying an extra two cups of tea a day on average. In fact, one survey suggest that an extra 111,972,000 Adobe Pronteau cups of tea were consumed during last year’s lockdown – so whether we were supping more cuppas to calm our nerves or just because more of us were working from home, the kettle was on and working harder than ever. This increased demand has been reflected in an increase in sales of Abode steaming hot water taps. Produced by Wilmslow-based Norcros, these innovative water dispensers produce freshly boiled water on demand. The company claims that Google searches of hot taps increased by 25 per cent last year, while Abode Pronteau sales were up by 13 per cent in July and August compared with the same period last year, a trend Abode predicts will continue. Norcros, which includes Johnson Tiles and Triton showers, is a leading supplier of high-quality showers and enclosures, taps, bathroom accessories, ceramic wall and floor tiles. You can check out its full range of hot water taps at www.abode.eu.

THE NEW NORMAL FOR HOMES With more and more of us working from home these days, interior designer Suzanne Mercer from Kettle Design in Heswall has taken a look at practical and pretty home office solutions


orking from home has some important implications for your work-life balance. There are some key considerations if your workspace at home is likely to be utilised in the future.

Colour Bring as much colour in as you dare. Greens help you to relax and also take the strain away from your eyes.

Space Do you have a space where you can work? Spare rooms work well but you may want to consider extending into the loft space or into the garden. Combining space with work and play can work well if you can work while they’re at school. One of our recent projects involved clever design to make use of storage and technology to keep all parties happy.

Environment Enhance your space with objects you want to touch. Bring in plants and things that feel good – fabrics, cushions and artwork.

Combine spaces

Light Good lighting is essential to your video calls, as well as your mental wellbeing. Daylight bulbs make the most of short days and being able to change settings for video calls ensures you always look your best.

Think about colour and storage

Storage Storage solutions that are beautifully made and

discreet can change “work” into “home” again with little effort.

Physical health Your space needs to be a joy to work in. At Kettle Design we work with occupational health experts (www.fohcus.uk) who can help make sure office areas at set up to meet your needs.

For more ideas and inspiration, visit www.kettledesign.co.uk

54 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2021

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Friendly, local independent businesses you can trust

Morgans Decorators Merchants & Morgans Doors & Floors

Morgans Windows, Doors & Conservatories

01691 657700 email: decorators@morgansltd.com

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Morgans Joinery 01691 672013 email:gd@morgansltd.com ‘All your BESPOKE joinery needs at Morgans Joinery’

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Shine a light on 2021 12-months mortgage paid!

Discover a new space and a new you... Is it time for a reboot? Maybe you need more space or maybe you now need less room. Whatever your reasons we’ve got homes that suit everyone. From stylish open plan living for the whole family to study and snug spaces to hide the kids away (or yourself!) we’ve got it covered.

For more information please call:

01785 788 312 or search:

Bovis Homes Mercia

We have 2, 3, 4 and 5 bedroom homes from £199,995

Appointment visits and virtual tours available! Don’t worry if you don’t feel comfortable to visit us just yet, you can still talk to us over the phone or via a virtual call. Mortgage Paid for 12 months offer is available on selected homes only, not in conjunction with any other offer. Paid as a cash lump sum upon legal completion and calculated as the cash equivalent of monthly mortgage repayments of £600 per month for the period of 12 months from legal completion. Cash lump sum capped at a maximum of 3% of the purchase price, subject to lender’s criteria, qualification and acceptance of cash incentives. Not applicable to second homeowners or investor purchasers. We reserve the right to withdraw the incentive at any time without prior notice. ^Flooring is provided from our standard range unless otherwise specified. Photograph depicts a typical Bovis Home exterior/interior. Elevation may differ to that shown. Internal images may include optional upgrades at an additional cost. Price & availability correct at time of going to print/broadcast. YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON A MORTGAGE ORANY OTHER DEBT SECURED ON IT. Ask our sales advisor for details. 5-star home rating based on the independent. Offer ends 31-12-2020. 5-star home rating based on the independent annual home owner survey conducted by the Home Builders Federation. GDD57897

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ENJOY A CHANGE OF SCENERY FOR 2021 Thinking of buying a new home for the new year? Bovis Homes has a range of properties to suit everyone – and a great offer too


ovis Homes offers a range of stylish and spacious homes to suit both first-time buyers and those looking to move up the ladder and purchase a second home. With plenty of options to choose from, including bungalows, townhouses, terraced and larger detached homes, there’s something for couples and families alike at affordable prices, and with the option for taking some “Bovis will pay of the stress out of buying a new home. £600 a month Designs favour open-plan kitchen towards the and dining rooms, while selected homes mortgage for also offer a downstairs utility room 12 months” and optional study or snug spaces – ideal for the new trend of working from home. Larger properties, such as the five-bedroom Birch, include features like bi-fold doors to the garden, kitchen islands and double en-suite bathrooms. If you’re looking for something smaller, three-bedroom detached homes in the range, such as the Spruce, also offer a downstairs WC and utility area, as well as en-suite features. The Spruce makes a great small family home with modern designs, spacious entrance hall and large bedrooms. Selected homes in the range include Properties feature modern designs

appliances such as integrated fridgefreezers, Bosch double ovens and integrated dishwashers. There are many other features included in the new range including turfed lawns as Many homes overlook green areas standard, porch lighting, built-in wardrobes and two years’ customer care warranty in addition to NHBC Buildmark cover.

Enjoying nature

Outside the home, Bovis has included plenty of shared open spaces for you to enjoy, as well as play areas and walkways to help you get out into nature. Most homes overlook these areas or are just a short walk away. Some of its new developments also include “hedgehog highways” in garden fences to help these declining creatures and encourage them back into the local habitat. All Bovis homes across the Mercia region now also include the option to have the first year’s mortgage paid. The company will pay you £600 a month towards your mortgage for 12 months if you reserve a home before the end of January this year, so you can rest assured that for 2021 buying a new home isn’t as far out of reach as you think. Luxurious spaces To discover a new home from just £199,995 at a development in Cheshire or Shropshire, search “Bovis Homes Mercia”. You can also book an appointment to look around the showhomes and speak to a member of the sales team from 10am to 5pm by visiting www.bovishomes.co.uk. January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 57

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We visit Linda and Neil in Flint to see how their home renovations have been completed with new bespoke oak doors from North Wales Doors in Rhyl


fter living in their Flint home for 38 years, Linda and Neil were keen for an upgrade. After considering their options, including moving to a smaller property, the couple decided they would rather start a programme of renovations. “We started replacing all the windows – originally they were The glazed internal doors allow plenty of light in mahogany-framed solid wood and we’ve gone for white uPVC all the way around,” Wales Doors showroom in Rhyl and that’s says Linda. “We also had a separate kitchen where we met James. We looked at some and dining room, so a wall was knocked of the doors we liked, then we went back a down to make one big space, which gave us second time and had a chat with views of the garden – which is James. He came to the house and our next big project for 2021. measured up, but then it all got There’s a new summer house “The joiner put on hold because of Covid.” going up and a gym, as well was amazing as a children’s play area – we – he did a have three grandchildren Lighter living first-class job” under three, all boys!” The couple were guided in their “To complete the project, door choices by James. Downstairs, we wanted to change all the the doors to the kitchen, lounge internal doors,” says Neil. “The old ones and small lounge are all the same, with a were mahogany and very dark with brass similar style without glazing for the utility fittings and brass handles, so quite oldroom. Upstairs, the bedrooms have different fashioned. We didn’t really know what we doors with a modern horizontal wanted, so we went down to the North groove detail, and there are also doors to an office on the landing and an airing cupboard. “It’s a modern look with the door design and we think it goes with our new kitchen,” says Linda. “And the grandchildren love putting their hands on the glass – which is safety glass, of course.” “The joiner was amazing,” says Neil. “He was first-class – he did a good job and took away all the old doors too. It was new everything – new hinges and ironmongery. The doors are solid oak, and when you close them you can feel they are nice doors. “The glass has made huge difference. Our hall was always dark so before. When we had The solid doors upstairs bring a modern look

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the front door put on – at the same time as the windows – we replaced solid double doors with a half-glazed door, and the glass in the internal doors has improved the light in the hall.”

Easy care

“We wanted doors that didn’t need any maintenance – we want to live as maintenance-free as possible now – and all the doors are treated so we don’t have to do anything to them,” Neil continues. “It’s all designed to make life easier – it’s a big house, so there’s a lot of work in it. “North Wales Doors even moved the door in the bathroom to go the other way to make more room. From when we went to see them and put the deposit down, it took about a month to get the doors installed – it took two people two days to fit them all, and the joinery was part of the quote. There were no delays beyond those caused by the pandemic. I would highly recommend them – James was brilliant.” JAMES AT NORTH WALES DOORS SAYS…

“It was a pleasure dealing with Linda and Neil and visiting their home to measure and offer some advice. It is now clear to see they made the right choices. “The doors look fabulous and having matching glass and solid doors downstairs really completes the look. I’m so pleased Linda and Neil are happy with the outcome. We offer the full package – we make things easy to make your life easy.” To find out more, call North Wales Doors on 01745 353700 or visit www.northwalesdoors.com

18/12/2020 13:53

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3 1


Hibernatiо time



When it’s grey and miserable outside, light a fire, pull up a blanket and turn your home into a cosy haven of tranquillity




11 13 10 14



1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Kashmir Pear & Fig reed diffuser, £16, Roobarb in Bridgnorth, Shropshire; www.loveroobarb.co.uk Woven pink chenille throw, £28, Roobarb in Bridgnorth, Shropshire; www.loveroobarb.co.uk Arlo rug, £249.95 for 160cm x 230cm, Cousins Furniture in Shrewsbury; www.cousinsfurniture.co.uk Pebble lamp, £16, Tweedmill Shopping Outlet in St Asaph, Denbighshire; www.tweedmill.co.uk Moscato scatter cushion, £34.95 for 43cm x 43cm, Cousins Furniture in Shrewsbury; www.cousinsfurniture.co.uk Woodpecker WP4 woodburner, £449, RN Williams in St Asaph, Denbighshire; www.rnwilliams.co.uk Cera brass floor lamp, £109.95, Lime Lace; www.limelace.co.uk Smart book light, £65, Vinegar Hill in Shrewsbury; www.vinegarhill.co.uk Penguin 8 multifuel stove, £1,399, Ludlow Stoves & Renewables; www.ludlowstoves.co.uk Nordic fir glass candle, £19.99, Vinegar Hill in Shrewsbury; www.vinegarhill.co.uk

11. Gamebird lampshade, £45, The Silver Pear in Ludlow; www.silverpear.co.uk 12. Tin single wick candle, £8.99, Cheshire Home Fragrance; www.cheshirehomefragrance.co.uk 13. Welsh tapestry bedspread throw, £140 for 127cm x 178cm, Trefriw Woollen Mills, nr Betws-y-Coed, Conwy; www.t-w-m.co.uk 14. Yale four-seater sofa, sale price £1,499, Stokers Furniture in Chester; www.stokers.co.uk 15. Curved stainless steel log store, £114.99, British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry, Shropshire; www.britishironworkcentre.co.uk 16. Hound dog cushion, £20, Hafren Furnishers in Llanidloes, Powys; www.hafrenfurnishers.co.uk 17. Extra large wicker log basket, £49, Make Your House A Home in Whitchurch, Shropshire; www. makeyourhouseahomewhitchurch.com 18. Trio of stone candle holders, £6.99, Cheshire Homewares; www.cheshirehomewares.co.uk




January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 61

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A sweet start to 2021 Shropshire chef Rebekah Jones, author of My Little Persian Kitchen, shares a delicious recipe to warm you up on winter nights


weet ingredients aren’t just there to please the palate but also to bring harmony to the home. These sweet and sticky lamb meatballs do just that. They are super-easy to make and a great crowd-pleaser. So whether you’re entertaining or just want something yummy to enjoy with a glass of wine and a movie, try these sumptuous little bites of heaven.

Pistachio and pomegranate sticky lamb meatballs Ingredients 1 white onion 2 cloves of garlic 100g shelled pistachio nuts 900g minced lamb 1tsp salt 1/ 2 tsp pepper A good glug of olive oil 3tbsp pomegranate molasses A handful of cherries Flatbreads and Greek yoghurt to serve Small handful of fresh mint Rebekah Jones

Sticky meatballs

DID YOU KNOW? A portion of 14 cherries counts as one of your five-a-day

Method 1. Add the onion and garlic to a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Add the pistachio nuts and blitz for 30 seconds, then add the lamb, salt, pepper and olive oil. Mix together for around one minute until combined, scraping down the sides as you go. 2. Remove from the food processor and roll into 2cm balls with wet hands. Set aside. 3. Pour a good glug of olive oil into to a heavy-bottomed frying pan. Heat gently and place the meatballs one by one into the pan and cook until browned. 4. Add the pomegranate molasses to the pan and ensure the meatballs are coated in it. Cook on a low heat for around five minutes until the molasses has started to thicken and given the meatballs a sticky coating. 5. Add the cherries for the last 60 seconds. Remove the meatballs from the pan and serve on hot flatbread with dollops of Greek yoghurt and pomegranate seeds.



wo Anglesey producers have combined their skills to launch a new alcoholic drink with a seafood twist. Menai Oyster Gin is the result of a novel collaboration between craft producer Llanfairpwll Distillery and shellfish enterprise Menai Oysters & Mussels. Over the first lockdown, distiller Rob Laming and oyster producer Shaun Krijnen hatched a plan to create an oyster-infused gin. Now the spirit is on the shelves. Local ingredients are the company believes in harnessing the nature of the island as much as key to Llanfairpwll Distillery’s possible. “Everything we make has something local in it,” says Rob. Rob and Maria have found 2020 to be a rollercoaster success. It started as a ride that saw them at one point switching to production of kitchen-top enterprise “A gentle hand sanitiser. However, a chance conversation in March led by Rob Laming and taste and Maria Jones, but in just to a lockdown project and the eventual creation of Menai aroma of two years the business Oyster Gin. After much testing, the result is a “smooth the sea” and creamy gin with a gentle taste and aroma of the sea”. has become one of the biggest craft distilleries The gin is now available to buy from Llanfairpwll Rob Laming and Maria Jones of in Wales. Capturing the Distillery and Menai Oysters & Mussels. For more Shaun with (left) Llanfairpwll Distillery information, visit www.llanfairpwlldistillery.co.uk. Krijnen of Menai Oysters & Mussels spirit of Anglesey in a bottle, the 62 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2021

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AWARDWINNING GINGER JUICE With Dry January upon us we’re swapping our regular beer column for a celebration of an alcohol-free tipple – kombucha – and in particular a Welsh variety that is making a splash on the culinary scene


n innovative new Welsh kombucha brand scooped gold in last year’s prestigious Great Taste Awards, the Oscars of the food world. Blighty Booch Organic Ginger Kombucha won three Gold Stars, the highest accolade possible, in the world’s largest blind-tasted food awards. Judges called it “an utterly delightful and refreshing drink” and “a fine example of what a kombucha should be”. The Blighty Booch and Blighty Brew Organic High Mountain Tea brands were launched by Mark Pavey and Alana Tyson, founders of Conwy Kombucha in north Wales, in 2019. A naturally sparkling organic fermented tea, kombucha is the fastestgrowing market in the functional beverage industry. Recently global demand for organic and authentic kombucha is soaring due to the varied health benefits associated with it, including its natural vitamins and minerals and its probiotic qualities.

Complex process

Mark was introduced to live refrigerated kombucha while he was living in Canada and was intrigued by its taste, its health benefits

Alana Tyson and Mark Pavey

DID YOU KNOW? The kombucha industry is projected to reach a global value of $6.2bn by 2026

and the complex skilled process it takes to make the drink. “We’re absolutely delighted to win three Gold Stars for our Blighty Booch Organic Ginger, especially as it’s the first time we have ever entered the awards,” says Mark. “We take great care in making the highest-quality kombucha, blending in small, slow batches the finest organic whole leaf and bud tea we have sourced from the high mountains of Hunan in China. We are lucky to have our beautiful Welsh water, organic Brazilian sugar and live heirloom kombucha culture to add to it. Making it is a complex skilled process and we see our authentic brand as the champagne of kombucha, which maximises the abundant goodness of nature.” Blighty Booch’s award-winning Ginger Kombucha is certified organic and registered with the Vegan Society. It costs £38 for a case of 12 330ml bottles and is available from health food shops, delis and farm shops and online from www.blightybooch.com.

TASTING TIPS FOR THE NEW NORMAL In the hope that wine tastings may return in the near future, Pip Gale from Gale’s Wine Bar in Llangollen tells us how to get ready


here have been no in-person wine tastings or events for almost a year now, which for wine buffs is like not being able to go to a sporting event or gig. Tastings are where we hone our palates, expand our horizons and share our passion with like-minded people. But with the prospect of tasting returning soon, here are some tips on how to make the most of them.

clouding their judgement. Open your mind to new things or change the old. Also talk through what you’re tasting and listen to others. Don’t be a know-it-all but don’t be shy with your thoughts either – you’ll be rewarded with great insight to take home from others.

Do your homework

Starting a list of wines you’ve tasted can be a great tool. Taking photos of labels can be a good way of tracking wines and apps such as Delectable and Vivino can also help. Whatever system you use, keep it consistent and easy to look up. Taking long, descriptive notes can often be confusing and unhelpful. I just take note of the things in the wine I wasn’t expecting.

Wine events are usually be hosted by someone knowledgeable so you don’t need to do too much homework, but it will help to have a little insight into the wines you’re approaching, particularly in the case of a large free pour tasting where you are left mostly to your own devices. Even the most practised taster can only taste six or so wines before they struggle with nuance, so a little preparation can help you plan what to try first.

Take notes

Go with an open mind

Tasting is about expanding horizons and challenging what you think, but you’d be surprised how many people still approach these events with misconceptions

Prepare to make the most of it

Buy wine

Even if you’re paying to go to the tasting, chances are the person who put it on is looking to sell some wine – and the more they sell, the more likely they are to put on another event. Make sure to order on the night as your notes may not be as good as you remember and the host will also recognise you as someone to invite again. I hope to see you all at a tasting in the future – bring on the new normal! January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 63

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One local dairy business has used a container conversion to expand its business as demand for its delicious ice cream boomed during lockdown


Lisa James, left and Anna Taylor

“We’re always open and although the summer events were cancelled we kept on supplying local shops, butchers and farm shops. Demand from those places also rose because people wanted to support local businesses and I think they also felt they deserved a bit of a treat at this difficult time. The public have been amazing the way they have supported us.”

hilly Cow Ice Cream, based in the Vale of Clwyd, recently set up a portable freezer and an honesty box at Stryt Faw in Llanychan, near Ruthin, and the results have been amazing, attracting as many as 150 customers a day. It has The next phase meant that a planned expansion of the business, which “You can was threatened by Covid-19, is now very much back on The new container has also helped Chilly Cow gear up for hear the the agenda with a 20ft container from Denbigh-based kids saying, growth, providing much-needed storage space instead of Container Sales Centre providing 1,280 cubic feet of space. the cramped spare bedroom that also doubled as Anna’s ‘Are we Anna Taylor set up Chilly Cow six years ago at the organic there yet?’” office. Chilly Cow employs two people full-time who were dairy farm her husband, David, runs with his parents. “The both furloughed at the height of the pandemic but they honesty box has been a godsend because we had 33 summer have now returned to work and business is picking up events in the diary and they were all cancelled,” she says. “We again. The other important partners involved are the 90 thought we’d give the brown Swiss cows who provide the organic milk with a very high honesty box a go and dairy-fat content, which is ideal for making an extra creamy ice it has been amazing cream in over 20 flavours. how it has taken The ice cream has also proved off – with so many a useful way for parents to people on furlough get their children out of the and children off house, according to David. school, families have “Sometimes you’re here in the been out and about. farmyard and you can hear the A small tub costs just kids saying, ‘Are we there yet?!’ £2, and people find Lots of mums and dads have a nice spot nearby to said the promise of an ice cream Brown Swiss cows are the source enjoy them and then has literally got their kids on their bikes. There’s even a handy little seat just down the lane by Anna and David Taylor of Chilly Cow ice cream (left), carry on with their with Lisa James of Container Sales Centre walk or cycle ride. Llanychan Church and some days there’s a queue to sit there.”

INTRODUCING THE “DRAKEFORD” One Llangollen bar launches joke mocktail in response to lockdown restrictions


Llangollen bar and grill has launched a new mocktail in “tribute” to Mark Drakeford, the first minister of Wales. To quote from the new drinks menu at the Three Eagles, the Drakeford is “Welsh, wet and uninspiring”. Following the Welsh government’s ban on pubs, bars, cafés and restaurants serving alcohol, the award-winning Denbighshire venue has introduced an extensive alcohol-free section to its menu, including cocktails such as the Gingerbread Espresso

Martini and Virgin Maes Mawr Mule. As to the secret ingredient behind the Drakeford, Adam Gaunt Evans – director of operations at the Three Eagles – says with a smile: “It’s just water.” “It has been a tough year for everyone, so we wanted to keep things fun,” Adam continues. “We’ve taken a positive approach to the new restrictions by offering an extended menu of non-alcoholic drinks as well as expanding our outside area with heaters to allow more diners at lunchtime.” The business has also developed a new clickand-collect app for its takeaway service. Since Friday 4th December, pubs, bars, restaurants and cafés in Wales have been required to close by 6pm and haven’t been allowed to serve alcohol. After 6pm they are only able to provide takeaway services. The Drakeford

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Nelson’s Distillery & School is a multi-award-winning craft distiller of premium Gin, Rum and Vodka that offers the unique experience of crafting your own 70cl spirit at their Gin & Vodka School.

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Its gins are a perfect balance and blend of 27 botanicals, and are renowned across the globe, winning awards in San Francisco World Spirit Competition, Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit competitions and closer to home the Great Taste Awards.

Please call 07854 821180 to find out more or email enquiries@nelsonsdistillery.co.uk www.nelsonsdistillery.co.uk @Nelsonsdistillery



Jamie’s Butchers and Deli offer a wide range of delicious local produce!


Hot and Cold Sandwich Bar Call & Collect or Home Delivery Service Available Unit 1, St Mary’s Precinct, Church Street, Chirk, Wrexham, LL14 5HX T: 01691 772602 www.jamiewardsbutchers.co.uk

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Much more than meets the eye Much Wenlock in Shropshire may be beautifully quaint, but it’s more than just a picturesque market town – it has hidden depths too


uch Wenlock is a town and parish with a history dating back over 700 years. The wider parish, which includes the villages of Homer, Wyke, Atterley, Stretton Westwood and Bourton, is home to around 3,000 residents as well as prime examples of beautiful architecture from the medieval, Georgian and Victorian eras. Within the town, Wenlock Priory and the 16th-century Guildhall are particularly noteworthy, alongside several churches and features in and around the cobbled streets. Holy Trinity Church in Wilmore Street is the Anglican parish church and was built in 1150 on the site of a church dating back

The 16th-century Guildhall

DID YOU KNOW? The Wenlock Olympian Games still take place every July

The priory site dates back to 680 and its founding by King Merewalh of Mercia

to Anglo-Saxon times. Today it is worth admiring its Norman tower and large, tree-lined graveyard. On nearby Barrow Street, St Milburga’s Well is another ancient monument, and one that is celebrated in a well-dressing ceremony every year.

Modern Olympic games

Much Wenlock is perhaps best-known as the birthplace of one of the founding fathers of the modern Olympic Games, Dr William Penny Brookes. He set up his Wenlock Olympian Society in 1850, and then became involved with the Shropshire Games in 1861 before helping launch the National Olympian Games in 1866. Much Wenlock proudly embraces the connection: the town’s secondary school is named after Dr Brookes and the Olympic torch was carried through the town in 2012 to honour its sporting past, while one of the two London 2012 mascots was named Wenlock in recognition of the town. The town has another notable name in its history, and one with less positive connections: in 1546, 11-year-old Alice Glaston from Little Wenlock was hanged together with two men in

Much Wenlock for an unrecorded crime. She is the youngest girl known to have been legally executed in Great Britain.

What’s in a name?

The town of Wenlock had the prefix “Much” added to distinguish it from the nearby Little Wenlock, and the word Wenlock itself is thought to derive from the Celtic name Wininicas, “white area”, thanks to the high volume of limestone at Wenlock Edge. The Domesday Book records the town’s title as Wenloch. Today it still feels more like a village than a town, and visitors and residents alike describe arriving in the streets as like stepping back in time. The shops offer a great selection of traditional services rather than big high-street names, and locals pride themselves on having the time and disposition to offer everyone a personal welcome to Wenlock. THINGS TO SEE AND DO Much Wenlock Museum and Visitor Information Centre Memorial Hall, High Street, Much Wenlock TF13 6HR; 01952 727679; muchwenlocktourism@shropshire.gov.uk Much Wenlock Guildhall Wilmore Street, Much Wenlock TF13 6HR; 01952 728242; guildhall@muchwenlock-tc.gov.uk Wenlock Priory The Bull Ring, Much Wenlock TF13 6HS; 01952 727466

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QUESTIONS Allan Dawson, an airline pilot and musician from Mochdre, Conwy, has just released a new album, Reflections Of Your Face. Over the years he has tried his hand at all sorts of weird and wonderful jobs, from radio show host to executive skydiver and even a business adviser for the Welsh government

1 2




What is your full name? Allan James Dawson.

What is your current job title/role? Airline pilot and rock musician.

Describe your home life… I live with my wife Nely and our pet kitten Charlie.


What has been your highlight of the past 12 months? Definitely finishing recording and releasing my fourth studio album.


Worst moment of the last 12 months? As for most people, living through the coronavirus pandemic – the lockdowns, the isolation, the worry about those close to you who at times you can’t even go to see and the uncertainty all that brings.


If you could come back as any animal, what would you be and why? Since having a kitten in my household I think I’d like to come back as a cat – they have such an easy life. I’m sure they secretly rule the world, and who could complain about the nine lives?

What’s the first thing you would buy if you won the lottery? Pizza.


What is your dream job – other than your current role, of course? When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut. If you were representing your country in the Olympics, which sport would you choose? The pool, darts and tiddlywinks triathlon.


What is your favourite drink? Tricky question! It really depends on the occasion but generally I’d have to say red wine.


If you had to take part in a competitive reality TV show, which would you have the best chance of winning: Strictly Come Dancing, The Great British Bake Off or battling it out in the wilds of Wales on I’m A Celeb? Well, despite being a musician I’ve got two left feet without a guitar in my hands, so that’s Strictly out of the question. At the same time I don’t suffer fools gladly, so there won’t be any visits to Gwrych Castle in the near future. It would have to be Bake Off!!

What would be your desert island disc and why? Good Vibrations – I grew up listening to the Beach Boys, and Brian Wilson is a huge influence on my work. This song is a perfect creation. If I had to listen to one song on repeat forever, this would be it!


16 17



If you could have one superpower what would it be and why? The power to heal people and grant them an eternal youth, because life is too short – it’s not long enough for most people to see enough of the world or to realise their full potential within it.


Who is your all-time hero and how have they inspired you? My dad. He is a very smart guy and against all the odds, and with all the easier options available to him, he chose to follow his passions and do his dream job. By doing so, he proved to me that you really can do whatever you want in life if you have the confidence to do it.


What is your worst fear or phobia? That the human race will wipe itself out before colonising other worlds.

“My celebrity dinner party would include David Gilmou r, Brian Wilson , Paul McCartney an d Guns N’ Ros es guitarist Slas h!”

What is your guilty pleasure? Pizza.

When did you last laugh uncontrollably and why? Well, last weekend I finally got round to watching Shaun Of The Dead – yeah I know, only 16 years late. Enough said!

You’re hosting a celebrity dinner party for four guests – who do you invite? David Gilmour, Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney and Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash.


Where is your favourite place in the world and why? I’ve seen quite a bit of the world but there’s no place like home. I’ll always come back to north Wales.


What is your proudest achievement so far? Getting my pilot’s licence and managing to do that as a real job. People underestimate how ridiculous a challenge that has become these days. On a personal and financial level, it’s insanely time consuming and expensive to get into, and on top of that I had to endure setbacks in the industry caused by 9/11 and the economic collapse of 2008, so it took a decade longer than planned and at times I thought it would never happen. January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 67

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GREAT GUIDE TO GREAT GARDENS Start the new year as you mean to carry on by getting out and enjoying some of Wales’s great gardens. If you don’t know where to start, a local expert has written a book to help you


xperts tell us we need to get out and enjoy the fresh air for our physical and mental health, and we are surrounded by some wonderful gardens that are always worth a visit. This year, picking which one to see has been made even easier as garden writer and broadcaster Tony Russell spent his lockdown days writing a new book, The Great Gardens of Wales, which is out now. The book features 50 of the finest gardens in Wales, each one accompanied by evocative text and stunning photography. “I began to write the book pretty much as soon as the Covid-19 restrictions came into force and gardens across Wales were forced “You can’t to close,” says Tony, mothball a who lives and gardens garden like on the slopes of the you can a Moelwyn mountains in museum” Snowdonia. “I realised this was going to be devastating for many gardens, because they rely on income from visitors to enable them to maintain and look after the gardens. “The problem is, you can’t mothball a garden like you can a gallery or museum, and wait for the time when visitors return. A garden is a living, dynamic thing and needs constant work to stop it from being overrun by weeds, as well as watering in times of drought to stop plants from dying.”

Wide range

Gardens included in the book range from national icons such as Bodnant, Powis Castle and the National Botanic Garden of Wales to lesser-known gems Dyffryn gardens

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The grounds at Erddig near Wrexham

ony Russell has written 18 books about the gardens of the world and is the editor of Tony Russell the annual Great Gardens to Visit and horticultural editor of Discover Britain’s Gardens magazine. In addition to writing and broadcasting, Tony runs a thriving garden and forest consultancy business. From 2014 to 2017, he worked with the Snowdonia National Park Authority on a garden restoration project for the Victorian mansion at Plas Tan y Bwlch, as well as founding and co-ordinating the North Wales Festival of Gardens. He is also a garden consultant to the National Trust and has worked with many local gardens including Plas Newydd, Penrhyn Castle, Dyffryn, Tredegar House, Erddig and Chirk Castle. Alongside this work, Tony regularly leads garden and plantbased tours both in the UK and overseas, and in his spare time he volunteers for the Glaslyn Osprey Project near Porthmadog.


including Dyffryn Fernant, Plas Cadnant and Dewstow. They are spread throughout Wales, from Anglesey in the north to Pembrokeshire and the south Wales valleys, and every garden featured is open to visitors at some point during each year. Tony is hoping his book will encourage people to begin exploring gardens once again and that they see a boom in visitor numbers in 2021. “I feel any support we can offer at this moment is important, as it would be heartbreaking to see some of National Botanic Garden Wales’s wonderful gardens and historic landscapes falling into decline and forced to close permanently,” says Tony. “It has long been recognised that visiting gardens is good for us too. It provides many health and wellbeing benefits, and is proven to reduce stress and anxiety levels – something we could all do with a little help with during the current pandemic.”

Tony Russell shares his favourite gardens for every season

The Great Gardens of Wales (RRP £15.99) is available from all good bookshops, online retailers and www.gardenstovisit.net

ALL YEAR “The National Botanic Garden of Wales surrounding the glasshouse designed by Sir Norman Foster.”

SPRING “I always head for Aberglasney in Carmarthenshire, as it has wonderful displays of spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips.” SUMMER “It has to be Dyffryn Gardens near Cardiff. Its double herbaceous borders are some of the best, not just in Wales but in the whole of the UK.” AUTUMN “It’s hard to beat the spectacular colours at Bodnant, where you can see Japanese maples with leaves of red, gold, orange and yellow.” WINTER “The formal Dutch-style garden at Erddig near Wrexham – in winter you can see the wonderful structure of this garden with its avenues of pleached limes.”

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EARLY TOUCH OF SPRING Reaseheath College floristry technician Dave Billington turns his artistic talent to outdoor planting to help you get your gardening fix whatever the weather


t may not be quite the time to get out in the garden just yet, but you can get your green-fingered fix by following this scheme for a simple planter to place outside your front door. Planning it will give you the perfect excuse for a trip to your local garden centre, and could also give you an incentive to clear the old summer bedding out of your pots and give them a good wash. Dave uses similar techniques to flower arranging to structure his planter, building in height and texture to create focal points. “I’ve made what is in essence a florist arrangement in a miniature flower bed,” he says. “All the materials are easily available and you only need an hour to complete the planter. You don’t have to be held back by the weather – you can easily make it up in the greenhouse or garage.”

You’ll need the following

• • • • • •

A good size planting container (Dave has used a tall zinc container approx 60cm high and 25cm square) Contorted twigs or a willow ball for interest Small evergreen conifer Mixture of flowering and ornamental plants (Dave has used pansy, ivy, ornamental grass and primula) Pot of flowering bulbs for instant colour (Dave has used parrot tulips in yellow and cream) A bag of multipurpose compost

Step 1

in their pots first, so you can move them easily until you are satisfied with the arrangement. Then plant the conifer.

Step 4

Add the decorative twigs to give height and provide support for the tulips.

Step 5

Fill in with the decorative grass, primula and pansy, then tuck in the ivy at the front so its decorative Step 2: fill with compost fronds provide interest. Ivy takes well to splitting, so you could choose to divide it into smaller clumps and distribute round the outside of the pot if you wish.

Step 6

Take the flowering bulbs out of their pots and separate. Plant in the container, using the twigs to support the heads of the flowers.

As this is a winter container that has to endure the worst of the weather, it’s essential it is well drained. Put broken crocks, small stones or polystyrene to the depth of at least 5cm into the base.

Step 7 Step 1: drainage is key

Step 2

Gather your “ingredients” before you start

Soak the plants before removing them from their pots. Fill the container with compost to about 10cm from the top and firm in.

Step 3

Select the tallest plant to go at the back (here, we used the conifer) and work forward in height. Try placing the plants

EARLY BURSTS OF COLOUR The start of the year can be a drab time for our outdoor spaces, but these favourite flowers can be added to bring a much-needed splash of colour

Position the planter outside to frame an entrance – perhaps you could place one either side of your front door. Place on pot feet to ensure adequate drainage.

Find out more about the latest news and courses from Reaseheath’s floristry and horticulture departments, including workshops and short courses, at www.reaseheath.ac.uk/floristry and www.reaseheath.ac.uk/horticulture


Crocuses can be used at the front of a border, in lawns in drifts or in shallow containers. Early crocuses need soil that drains easily and they flower best in full sun.





These firm favourites have long been considered a herald of spring. Planted in autumn, they add colour to borders and containers. As their name suggests, these hardy blooms can even poke their heads through a layer of snow. They don’t need pruning or training and will happily multiply every year.

TOP TIP Gently free up the plant roots so they have the best chance of growing into the compost.

Popular for their bold colours, tulips are ideal bedding plants combined with annual or biennial planting. They grow best in fertile, well-drained soil. These hardy specimens often provide colour when little else is flowering, particularly in late winter or early spring. They brighten up shady corners and don’t like to sit in full sun.

70 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2021

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Gate Expectations

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Tel: 01948 840630 OPEN

Open : Mon – Thurs 9.00am – 4.30pm, Fri 9.00am – 3.00pm Closed for lunch each day 12.30pm – 1.00pm

Monday to Saturday: 9am to 5pm Sunday: 10am to 4pm

Whitchurch Road (A49), Prees, Shropshire SY13 2DD www.hollyfarmgardencentre.co.uk • Holly Farm Garden Centre


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21/12/2020 11:44


A RAY OF SUNSHINE We get vitamin D from the sun’s rays and it has a key role in health – it might even protect against respiratory diseases like Covid. Steph Watkins, visiting lecturer at the University of Chester, explains all


hen vitamin D was discovered, it was named following the pattern of vitamins A, B and C – but further research has shown that it is in fact a hormone. The body produces it from exposure to sunlight followed by activation in the liver and the kidneys. It is then able to perform its essential functions such as maintaining bone and tooth health. Vitamin D deficiency is a global public health problem. In the UK 30 to 40 per cent of the general population are classed as deficient during the winter months. Humans get vitamin D from exposing their skin to UVB rays in sunlight or from dietary sources such as oily fish, red meat and egg yolks. However, it is only present in small quantities in foods. You can also take supplements. Recently studies have shown vitamin D to have a protective effect on our immune systems. Data also shows that optimal vitamin D levels may contribute to protection from respiratory disease. Here’s what you need to know.

Can vitamin D protect against respiratory disease? Vitamin D has a prominent role in the respiratory system. In fact it has been linked to tuberculosis, but its role has been overlooked thanks to the widespread use of antibiotics. With resistance to antibiotics increasing, many studies have focused on the effect of vitamin

“In the UK, 30 to 40 per cent of people are classed as vitamin D deficient in the winter months”

What are the vitamin D guidelines? Existing guidance recommends that in the UK, everyone aged one year and older should have a daily intake of 10µg vitamin D. The average dietary intake is just 2 to 5µg per day. The NHS recommends that adults and children over four years old consider taking a daily supplement containing 10µg (400IU) vitamin D during the autumn and winter. Research into the potential role of vitamin D in respiratory disease is continuing and as larger-scale trials take place, we may see some definitive mechanisms emerge. For now it is crucial for everyone to be aware of the importance of adequate vitamin D intake and the risks of deficiency, particularly during the winter months.

D supplementation in patients with tuberculosis but results have been mixed. Low levels of vitamin D have also been linked with a decline in lung function, while it has been shown to regulate the activity of the immune system in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Further research is required to characterise the precise role of vitamin D in COPD. Vitamin D has also been linked to asthma in adults, children and pregnant

A stutter or stammer can be difficult to deal with, especially for children – and strange theories about its origins don’t help…


Stuttering is a psychological problem caused by anxiety, stress, or nervousness This is a common misconception but it is not true. While anxiety or stress may worsen stuttering, it doesn’t cause it. Many children who stutter become anxious only after experiencing other people’s negative reactions.


women. Studies attempting to ascertain the relationship between vitamin D and asthma have produced conflicting results. It is thought that it may have a protective effect through easing the inflammation seen in people with asthma. During the coronavirus pandemic, some have suggested optimal vitamin D levels may be protective against the virus. Trials are being conducted to establish whether it has protective or treatment capabilities.

A person who stutters just needs to relax before they speak This really does not help. And telling a person

who stutters to relax, calm down or take a deep breath probably makes it worse because it increases the pressure on them to speak “normally”. Stuttering doesn’t happen because people are scared of speaking in public – it is linked to subtle effects in the brain and, in some cases, to mutations in specific genes.


Tickling a baby will cause them to stutter This is just one of several outlandish myths about the causes – along with letting a baby look in the mirror, cutting their hair before they’ve said their first words or leaving them out in the rain. They can seem amusing, but if you’re struggling with a stutter, it’s not funny to hear them!

72 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2021

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GreenLiving Re-used f r beauty, burgers and building Scientists from Bangor University are working on a three-year £3m European scheme to save millions of tons of waste from food production being dumped in landfill or left in the fields


team from Bangor University’s Bio-Composites Centre is aiming to turn unused leftovers from fruit, vegetable and grain crops into products ranging from chemicals for the food industry, building materials and beauty products. As part of the Pro-Enrich project, it is collaborating with public and private sector partners, including Mars and Tate & Lyle, from six different EU countries. The project aims to add value to a range of residues from crops, including rapeseed grown in north Wales, and oranges, tomatoes and olives from Spain and Slovenia. Currently most of it is used for animal feed, or ends up in landfill or is left to rot in the fields. The team from Bangor has been a key player in identifying protein concentrate from bio-refined rapeseed waste for use as pet food, in veggie burgers and in adhesive for plywood. They have also helped find uses for olive waste in skin care and developed a method for separating tomato seeds from the juice and pulp, with possible uses in antiageing and sunburn protection. “We’re looking at ways of using the waste to make Dr Adam Charlton, left, and a range of useful products,” process engineer Jon Nicholls

says Dr Adam Charlton, a member of the university’s project team. “We are working with plant-based byproducts which are underused because there is a real focus now on food waste.”

Pioneering process

The team also hopes to reduce the amount of chemicals and energy used in production processes. “Bio-refining is a bit like oil refining because you start with a raw material and at the end you have all sorts of products,” says Dr Charlton. “At present there are very few commercial biorefineries, so we’re still developing approaches to how we process these residues. We are doing it while minimising the use of chemicals, replacing them with more environmentally friendly enzymes. “This is technically very challenging, particularly when it comes to scaling the processes The project is recycling rapeseed up to commercial levels, which is what we’re trying to do here on Anglesey because it has to be economically viable. It’s very prestigious to be involved in a project like this and to get this kind of funding.”

Wales welcomes a green sh pping first A branch of Homebase in Bridgend is one of only five in the UK to have welcomed shoppers to the first ever “green shopping aisle” for environmentally-friendly DIY enthusiasts


green aisle – festooned with evergreen climbers and vegetation, a grass walkway and a canopy infused with foliage and butterflies – has been created at Homebase Bridgend to help eco-conscious shoppers find the section of the hardware store that will make their home more sustainable. Homebase has introduced five

of these super-sustainable areas in stores, in partnership with Smart Energy GB. The section of the shop is being used to showcase energy-efficient and ecofriendly home improvement products and information on how to get a smart meter installed. The aisles were created after research found “Items that 74 per cent of people range in the UK are keen to make from white their home greener, but half goods have no idea where to start. to smart appliances” Going green The study of 4,000 UK adults, commissioned by Smart Energy GB, found 71 per cent would like to make green home improvements in a bid to save money, while seven in 10 want to help the environment. Four in 10 of those polled are keen to use environmentally friendly paint when decorating, while others are

looking to install energy-efficient home appliances, smart home tech, a watersaving showerhead or a smart meter. The Green Aisle has been introduced to coincide with the launch of the government’s Green Homes Grant scheme, with items selected based on their energy efficiency credentials. Items range from white goods and electricals through to insulation and smart appliances. The Green Aisle is also available online at www.homebase.co.uk/the-green-aisle. Chris O’Boyle, trading director at Homebase says, “We know that more and more of our customers are looking to make environmentally friendly decisions as they embark on home and garden improvement projects. Whether it’s something as simple as a draught excluder, getting a smart meter or installing new insulation, there are hundreds of ways that can help people make a positive difference to their home.” January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 73

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Life is better with Pets


Treat your favourite furry and feathered friends to something extra special


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1. Water resistant rain jacket, £18, Joules; www.joules.com 2. Flexi lead, from £9.29, Petcetera in Bradeley Green, nr Whitchurch, Shropshire; www.petcetera.co.uk 3. Tom Chambers warbler birdhouse, £59.99, Fron Goch Garden Centre in Caernarfon, Gwynedd; www.frongoch-gardencentre.co.uk 4. Elverum peanut butter feeder, £6.99, CJ Wildlife in Shropshire; www.birdfood.co.uk 5. House of Paws rattan bone-shaped basket with lid, £57.99, Not In The Dog House; www.notinthedoghouse.co.uk 6. Dachshund dog bowl, £35.99, British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry, Shropshire; www.britishironworkcentre.co.uk 7. Engraved dog ID tag, £14.95, Joules; www.joules.com 8. Classic galvanised milk churn bird feeder and house, £18.99, British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry, Shropshire; www.britishironworkcentre.co.uk 9. Wooden castle, £12.99, Brown’s Pet Range; www.brownspetrange.com 10. Rabbit hideaway animal shelter, £36.95, Garden Woodcraft in Bomere Heath, Shrewsbury; www.gardenwoodcraft.co.uk


11. Dexas Mud Buster paw cleaners, from £9.99, Petcetera in Bradeley Green, nr Whitchurch, Shropshire; www.petcetera.co.uk 12. Rosewood small animal bunny fun tree, £12.99, The Range; www.therange.co.uk 13. Daisy’s Den poultry house, £231, Wynne’s of Dinmore in Leominster, Herefordshire; www.wynnes.co.uk 14. Rosewood Snuggles 2in1 carrot bed, £14.99, Charlies; www.charlies.co.uk 15. Rosewood luxury cat radiator tunnel, £26, Ginger&Browns in Blakemere Village, Northwich, Cheshire; www.gingerandbrowns.co.uk 16. Rosewood ceramic bowl, £4.99, Millbry Hill; www.millbryhill.co.uk 17. Personalised pet sofa bed, £44.95, Scotts of Stow; www.scottsofstow.co.uk 18. Zoon Nip-it refillable catnip mouse cat toy, £4.99, The Old Railway Line Garden Centre in Brecon; www.oldrailwaylinegc.co.uk 19. Oak dog bed, £200, Farmhouse Dog Beds in Northwich, Cheshire; www.farmhousedogbeds.co.uk

74 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2021

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Shire Magazine, the No.1 magazine

for holiday parks throughout Wales, Cheshire and Shropshire.

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advertising@shiremagazine.co.uk or simply call (01691) 661 270

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DID YOU KNOW? This is the world’s largest garden wildlife citizen science project!

Give an hour of your time to help combat the problems facing British wildlife as the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch returns for 2021


and 144 million birds have been undreds of thousands of people across counted, giving the RSPB an astonishing amount of insight the UK will celebrate into how our wildlife is faring. their love of nature to Beccy Speight, the RSPB’s chief count the nation’s garden executive, says: “We know that for birds over a weekend in many people, garden birds provide January for the RSPB’s an important connection to the Big Garden Birdwatch. wider world and bring enormous This year, we’ve seen Robins were number eight in 2020 joy. Lockdown brought few how important the natural benefits, but the last year has either started or world is to our mental health and wellbeing. reignited a love of nature for many people.” There has been a surge in interest in the In 2020, the house sparrow retained its nature on our doorsteps and many people place at the top of the Big Garden Birdwatch have come to rely on garden birds to bring rankings as the most joy and comfort in these unsettling times. commonly seen garden The Big Garden Birdwatch 2021 bird with nearly 1.3 takes place from 29th to 31st January. “Garden million sighted. The The idea is that people spend just one birds bring starling held down the hour watching and recording the birds joy and second spot, with the in their garden, balcony or local park, comfort” then send their results to the RSPB. blue tit completing the top three. With close to half a million people But a closer look at Big Garden Birdwatch taking part in the Birdwatch every year, it data shows that numbers have dropped is the world’s largest garden wildlife citizen dramatically since the Birdwatch began in science project. It’s now in its 42nd year,


1979. House sparrows may be the most common but their numbers are down 53 per cent, while starlings are down 80 per cent. Blackbirds and robins are down 46 per cent and 32 per cent respectively. “By taking part in the Birdwatch, you are helping to build an annual snapshot of how our birdlife is doing across the UK,” says Speight. “It is only by us understanding how our wildlife is faring that we can protect it. Together, we can take Record bird activity for an hour action to solve the problems facing nature.” For your free Big Garden Birdwatch guide, which includes a bird identification chart, top tips for your birdwatch, RSPB shop voucher, and advice on attracting wildlife to your garden, text BIRD to 70030 or visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch.

Daisy-dog, the mud-loving lab



Another Gizmo!

Dexter with his paddling pool

WE WANT YOUR PETS! Send us a photo of your pet for inclusion in Shire! Just email the picture, with the name of your pet, to editorial@shiremagazine.co.uk

10-year-old moggy Belle January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 77

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LOCKDOWN LED TO GREATER LOVE FOR ANIMALS While many of us were stuck at home during the lockdowns of 2020, we started to appreciate the wildlife around us – as revealed by data from web searches


s the nation entered lockdown in spring 2020, many of us took to our gardens. Searches for “How to attract wildlife to your gardens” surged according to Google Trends analytics, while other popular queries people put to the search engine included “what to feed hedgehogs”, “how to attract wildlife to your garden”, “what to feed wildlife” and “what to feed birds”. The UK is home to over 70,000 species of animals, plants, fungi and single-celled organisms, but most of us struggle to spot many in and around our homes. If you’re a nature lover, here are some animals to tick off your list.


Hedgehogs are sometimes seen in towns and cities but their numbers have plummeted by half in the UK’s countryside since 2000. Records have shown that there may be fewer than one million left in the country – a 97 per cent decrease since the 1950s. In 2020, UK residents took a keen interest in the hedgehog, with 91 per cent more Google searches for the term “what to feed hedgehogs” since lockdown began in March.

Pine marten

This was once the second most common carnivore in the UK, but the pine marten – which is approximately the size of an average domestic cat – was nearly wiped out in Britain in the early 20th century. It attained protected status with the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and since then numbers have started to rise again in small

pockets of Scotland, Wales and northern England, with some sightings in the New Forest as well as in Shropshire, here in the Shire patch. With a chestnut-brown coat, they have a diet consisting of carrion, eggs, fruit, insects, and small mammals, and are likely to reside in coniferous woodland.

DID YOU KNOW? Britain’s largest natterjack colony is on the Sefton Coast near Southport

Natterjack toad

This rare breed of toad – also protected by the Wildlife and Country Act – is found only in a few coastal locations in England and Scotland, and is most likely to be spotted in shallow pools and on dunes, heaths and marshes between March and September. Mainly nocturnal, it’s smaller than the common toad and more of an olive-green colour. During May and June 2020, Google searches for “natterjack toad” rose 23 per cent compared with previous months, hitting almost 6,000 searches per month.


Many of us welcome a variety of wild birds into our gardens and since lockdown began, Google has seen a significant increase in the search term “what to feed birds”. In March, at the very start of lockdown, the search term was up by 255 per cent, and the searches kept increasing over the next two months. Sparrows, starlings, robin and various tits are common, but look out for the nightingale with its warm brown colouring and its unusual habit of singing at dusk.

JOINING FORCES FOR NATURE CJ Wildlife, a Shrewsbury-based wildlife specialist, has united with the National Trust to help protect and care for animals


ime in our precious green spaces – no matter how big or small harmoniously – helped bring many people joy and a sense of wellbeing this and support year. To help care for that precious wildlife, while also raising vital our animal Feed wild birds while raising funds for conservation neighbours. funds to support conservation, CJ Wildlife of Shrewsbury has produced a range of high-quality products in collaboration with the “We are delighted to be working with the National Trust National Trust. These include bird and wildlife foods, and are very proud of the licensed product range,” says bird feeders, nest boxes and Claire Smith of CJ Wildlife. “Both of our organisations “Both are accessories, mammal and insect are passionate about supporting wildlife and caring for passionate the places where it can thrive. We look forward to the habitats and educational charts, about all developed by experts. coming years and the difference we can make together supporting directly for our wildlife and more indirectly by sparking Every purchase made from wildlife” the range over the course of the joy in people who connect more with nature.” collaboration will contribute The items in the range have been selected based on several key criteria, including material quality, effective and attractive design, to National Trust projects and directly benefit wildlife. The National Trust and sustainability. They will soon be available to order from CJ Wildlife and National Trust online shops as well as garden centres, Garden Wildlife Range is designed to allow us, as individuals, to continue to live supermarkets, pet shops, gift shops and other reputable sellers. Sustainable materials were used 78 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2021

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In-Store and Online petcetera.co.uk OPEN MONDAY TO SATURDAY 9AM-5PM I SUNDAY 10AM-4PM 01948 668 100 BRADELEY GREEN, WHITCHURCH, SY13 4HD

Are you a local artist?

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Shire Magazine, The best of North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Wirral & Shropshire Get in touch editorial@shiremagazine.co.uk or 01691 661 270 Stud Services | Friendly breeding stock & pets | Mid Wales

7 nights self-catering from £150 Bring a pet for just £25





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L K A K E HACW N A V P A A R R A K 30 T: 016

6 8 5 2 0 9 M : 0 78 6 0 8 4 3 3

www.haw klake. co.uk


We have 5 touring pitches each with a hook up and on hard standing, as well as 45 static caravan pitches.

Set beside Hawk Lake in the grounds of Hawkstone Park, this Caravan Park is great for a peaceful getaway. Close to the historic town of Shrewsbury, and in the heart of Shropshire, we are ideally located for exploring Shropshire and Mid Wales. We offer both Day and Season Fishing on Hawk Lake. The lake has a selection of fish, from big Carp up to 30lb, to Roach, Perch, Bream, Tench, Rudd and Pike. If it’s the Shropshire wildlife that you like, the lake is home to Kingfishers, Herons, Water Voles and Woodpeckers. Much of the lakeside is perfectly walkable, and there are places to sit and enjoy your surroundings in peace.

Contact Hawk Lake now to join the waiting list. ALL VIEWINGS BY APPOINTMENT Hawk Lake Caravan Park, North Lodge, Hawkstone Park, Marchamley, Nr Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY4 5GE

LET’S LOOK FORWARD TO 2021! Our Summer 2021 brochure is available now featuring a fantastic choice of coach tours throughout the UK & Europe and air holidays to Jersey.

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yfi Cottages and Aberdovey Holidays is a family-run company specialising in self-catering holiday lets on the Dyfi Estuary, overlooking Cardigan Bay. It provides an easy-touse, secure website that allow you to book a holiday direct from the owners. On the site you’ll find a range of properties available for every group size. Whether it’s a small, quaint fisherman’s cottage or a large farmhouse with amazing views, Beautiful holiday lets holidaymakers will find their perfect holiday home around this unspoilt seaside village. The village is beloved by those in the know: Aberdyfi’s fans prefer to

keep the village to themselves and it’s not difficult to understand why. All the classic ingredients of a small, unhurried seaside village are here – family-friendly sands, a picturesque stone harbour and jetty, yachts bobbing on the water, seafront pubs, bay-windowed houses in pastel shades, and shops selling bucket and spades, arts and Stunning views crafts and homemade ice cream. Some of Wales’s greenest hillsides sit above its rooftops, while around the corner there is the Dyfi Osprey Project, a delightful blend of woodland, dune and golden sand backed by the wild Cambrian Mountains. The area supports an extensive range of habitats including upland heath, broad-leaved woodland and a variety of grassland types, so it is a haven for birds and wildlife and those who appreciate both. www.dyfi-cottages.co.uk


o holiday in the Llyn Peninsula is complete without a visit to Bardsey Island, a wild island located two miles off the coast. With a rich wildlife, dramatic coastline and fascinating history, there is plenty to discover from a day trip or a holiday on this unique island. The island is 1.5 miles (2.5km) long and, at its widest point, just over half a mile (1km) across. In 1979 the island was purchased by the Bardsey Island Trust and is now managed by the trust with advice from Natural Resources Wales and CADW. Bardsey is designated a National Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is in the Llyn Peninsula Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The island has also been listed as a Special Area of Conservation for its habitats and species, as well as a Special Protection Area because of the breeding birds.


f you’ve been thinking of investing in a static at Hawk Lake Caravan Park on the edge of Shrewsbury – or settling yours there – then it’s time to get planning! Set beside Hawk Lake in the ground of Hawkstone Park, Hawk Lake Caravan Park is great for a peaceful getaway by the lake. In fact it has built up such a great reputation and is now so popular there is a waiting list for new owners. Close to the historic town of Shrewsbury, and in the heart of Shropshire, the site is ideally located for exploring Shropshire and mid Wales. There are five touring pitches available, each with a hook-up and on hard standing, as well as 45 static caravan pitches, with 14 by the lake itself. These are privately owned but do occasionally come up for sale, so if you visit and decide to make a more permanent move to Hawk Lake, it is worth keeping in touch. You can visit the site and have a tour, by appointment, so contact the Day and season fishing available team to arrange your visit.

The caravan park is in the picturesque grounds of Hawkstone Hall

Set in the grounds of Hawkstone Hall, a Grade I listed mansion, Hawk Lake was carved out of the Shropshire countryside around 1776 to form a representation of The Serpentine in London, where the owner, Sir Rowland Hill, also had a residence. The caravan park sits right on the banks and is particularly popular with anglers, as the site offers both day and season fishing on Hawk Lake. The lake has a selection of fish from large carp up to 30lb to roach, perch, bream, tench, rudd and pike. If it’s the Shropshire wildlife that you like to take in, you can visit the private section of the 1.75-mile long lake, which is home to kingfishers, herons, water voles and woodpeckers. There are lots of lovely walks and plenty of places to sit and enjoy your surroundings in peace. www.hawklake.co.uk January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 81

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lawrbetws Caravan Park is set in the grounds of 14 acres of idyllic countryside with panoramic views of the Berwyn Mountains. The Well-appointed pitches park has all the facilities and holiday options you could holiday, and benefits from possibly hope for. The new newly added fibre WiFi. development, Berwyn View, With all this, and options has eight newly built pitches, for touring caravans to stay, ready for holidaymakers to this peaceful family-run park call their own... and plots is great for an authentic are selling fast! This is on country holiday with scenery, top of the existing 70 fully wildlife and a rural lifestyle. serviced pitches, The park is perfectly each with mains positioned between “Great for electric, water Snowdonia National an authentic and piped gas. Park, the Clwydian country If you would Range and Dee holiday with rather stay in Valley Area of scenery, a traditional Outstanding Natural house, check Beauty and is an wildlife and a out the Farm excellent base to rural lifestyle” House at explore the local Llawrbetws, area. Snowdonia a self-catered luxury features many walks for all holiday let in the quiet levels of experience: from hamlet of Glanrafon. It determined mountaineers to has been refurbished to Sunday strollers, there is a the highest quality with walk for you, packed full of everything you need to wildlife and stunning scenery. have an unforgettable www.llawrbetws.co.uk

The scenery at Llawrbetws is magnificent

Northfield’s gorgeous gardens have a mix of native and tropical plants



here are many reasons to consider Northfield Holiday Park for your next vacation… but deciding how to get there should also be considered. This small, peaceful caravan and chalet park on the edge of the seaside village of Borth is not only a popular spot with families and couples, but also attracts many motorbike enthusiasts. The park has 13 comfortable, fully equipped caravans and two spacious timber chalets with beautiful views of Cardigan Bay, while the surrounding area boasts some roads that are crying out for a two-wheeled whirl. So don’t just choose where to go this summer – think about how you’ll travel. If you’re into biking, Northfield is well worth considering. Just six miles from Aberystwyth, the park has stunning gardens that have been landscaped with both indigenous and tropical plants, making Northfield a hive of activity for wildlife. Walk for five minutes from the accommodation and you’ll be in a quiet cove to snorkel or fish or the main beach of sand, rock pools and dunes. There are several public footpaths in the area, including the coastal path through Clarach to Aberystwyth and through pastureland to the neighbouring villages of Talybont, Dolybont, Llandre and Taliesin. The team at Northfield will do everything to give you an enjoyable holiday. Visit Wales inspection marks of 100 per cent were given for cleanliness, service and welcome last year. With its lush gardens and grounds, Northfield is the prettiest and most colourful park in the area. www.northfieldholidays.co.uk


fter our 2020 holidays were disrupted, now is the time to make sure you’ve got a good one in the diary for this year… or maybe even to splash out and buy your own place so you can get away from it all whenever you want or need to. If you’re hunting for your perfect place, in a great location and on a great park, have a look at what’s on offer at Morfa Lodge Holiday Park. This family-owned and operated park is nestled in the foothills of Snowdonia for an ideal family holiday. The park sits within an area of unspoilt parkland and offers excellent facilities while being served by a team of helpful and dedicated staff. Visitors can choose between two heated outdoor swimming pools, with patio areas and allocated play areas for children and a shop offering a wide range of groceries, fresh produce, newspapers and gifts. Morfa Lodge has a large number of facilities

Morfa Lodge is in a great location

available for guests of all ages and there is free WiFi across the whole site. The Clubhouse has a large family room and games room, which hosts amusement machines and a pool Choose between two heated outdoor pools table, while over 18s can also enjoy the Lounge Bar throughout the day and evenings. In the peak season there is entertainment to provide fun family nights, as well as a dance floor ready to be filled, while the popular hog roast evenings offer a more relaxed evening at Morfa Lodge. The site is close to many local attractions, such as Caernarfon Castle, Bangor Cathedral and the stunning Aber Falls. There are a range of lodges available to purchase or hire and with plots available in unrivalled locations, Morfa Lodge can offer the ultimate holiday idyll. For more information, visit www.morfalodge.co.uk.

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Penralley House

Historic Luxury Bed and Breakfast in the heart of Wales

Luxurious Log cabins in the beautiful Shropshire Countryside with an area of outstanding natural beauty Located just outside the market town of Shrewsbury A beautiful Georgian town house built about 1774 and extended in 1876, Penralley House has a striking façade of local granite, and a stunning Victorian yellow brick rear overlooking a lush large garden. It has been lovingly restored by Steve and Karen, retaining many of the original features to create a welcoming and relaxing environment. The house has a lovely garden with views to the Elan Valley and surrounding countryside. The Elan Valley reservoirs and estate are within 3 miles and

Gigrin farm, the Red Kite feeding station a few minutes drive along South Street. The rural area has much of interest to offer both those wanting a relaxing quiet break to those who want to experience one of the many outdoor challenges, take a look at our local area page for more information. This beautiful part of mid Wales can cater for all. The West Coast, Cambrian Mountains, Brecon Beacons, and Llanidloes are all within driving distance.

tel: 01597 811868 email: info@penralleyhouse.com www.penralleyhouse.com Penralley House, South Street, Rhayader, LD6 5BH

Four amazing properties for hire comprising of:

Ruth’s Retreat

Ruth’s Refresh

Ruth’s Rest

Ruth’s Repose


Please book our properties through Booking.com

Little Vinnals Bungalow, Lower Common, Longden, Shrewsbury, SY5 8HF

Private hot tubs • Built-in wet room • Smart TV with Netflix • WIFI • Self check-in

Situated alongside a working farm, with plenty of walks from the doorstep, our three Luxury Glamping Pods provide the perfect escape to relax and unwind. The accommodation has been individually designed and furnished in a bespoke style, to provide you with a restful stay.

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Shropshire Luxury Glamping, Purslow Hall Farm, Shropshire, SY7 0HJ.

01588 539089 info@shropshireluxuryglamping.co.uk www.shropshireluxuryglamping.co.uk

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or a remote, camping getaway with a little luxury, try the ultimate glamping experience at Purslow Hall Farm. This idyllic spot is home to Shropshire Luxury Glamping – a collection of three individually designed and furnished glamping pods set among the beautiful Shropshire Hills. With all the creature comforts you need for a relaxing stay, including towels, robes and spa slippers, this is the place for you to come if you want to feel refreshed and relaxed. Each pod has its own private hot tub, built-in wet room and Smart TV with WiFi. Self-check in means you can hide away from the rest of the world and just enjoy yourself. Choose your pod: there’s the Ludlow, designed in a modern industrial style and decorated A little luxury in a pod


All hot tubs offer amazing views

in denim blue; the Stretton, in a refreshing green with timeless Orla Kiely fabrics and Scandinavianinspired furniture; or the Wenlock, decorated in a warm cashmere grey with soft pastel shades and furnished in a contemporary country style. The surrounding area of the Shropshire Hills AONB is perfect for walkers, cyclists, paragliders, night sky watchers and anyone else who visits. Purslow Hall is the ideal place to relax, unwind and escape for a break this year. www.shropshireluxuryglamping.co.uk

he Caradoc, or Caer Caradoc, is an impressive 1,506ft (459m) hill located close to Church Stretton and within easy reach of Shrewsbury for visitors and day trippers. The summit offers spectacular views over the town and the Shropshire countryside, and also features the remains of an ancient Iron Age or Bronze Age hill fort, associated with the legendary first century AD Welsh chieftain Caractacus. Local legend has it that this was the site of the Battle of Caer Caradoc, the last stand of Caractacus against the legions during the Roman conquest of Britain, and that after the battle he hid in the cave near its summit. Others say his last stand was in the locality but that this was one of his fortresses… Either way it’s an intriguing site for an enjoyable walk with a bit of history and mystery thrown in.


his year get away from it all in style with a stay at Ruth’s Retreat, just outside Shrewsbury. Nestled in the beautiful south Shropshire countryside, Ruth’s Retreat is the perfect antidote to the stress of the past 12 months. The site has four properties for hire: a log cabin for up to three people and three chalets for couples. Each has its own hot tub and private garden, and visitors come to relax and unwind as well as to visit “Ideal for the many attractions the local area has to taking time offer. Just a few hundred yards down the road is out from the Shropshire Way with busy lives” great walking routes close by: the Caradoc, the Lawley, Stiperstones and the Long Mynd – ideal for taking time out from busy lives. Choose the accommodation that suits you and your requirements. Ruth’s Retreat is a Scandinavian log cabin with one double and one single bedroom and central Relaxing hot tubs

heating. Ruth’s Repose is a tastefully furnished chalet for couples with beautiful sunset Stylish decor views and a corner bath. Ruth’s Rest is also a one-bedroom chalet catering for couples who are looking for a peaceful and restful retreat, as is Ruth’s Refresh which also houses two breakfast bars to take advantage of the views. Ruth’s Retreat is close to the Shropshire Hills AONB with lots of great opportunities for walking, cycling and getting lots of fresh air. The beautiful market town of Shrewsbury, with all its heritage and facilities, is only a 15-minute drive away. www.ruthsretreatshropshire.co.uk

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2 stunning holiday parks with so much to offer! Luxury holiday home lodges with beautiful views and fantastic facilities

Holiday Park | Near Bala | North Wales

Your home away from home

We always have a wide selection of high quality holiday homes for sale. Call today on 01286 830205 to find your perfect home away from home.

Enjoy a slower lifestyle, away from it all Nestled in the heart of rural North/Mid Wales and surrounded by scenery, wildlife and top Welsh attractions. With great road links you are just minutes away from being on the road. to Snowdonia, Betws y Coed, Llangollen, Chester and the Welsh Coasts. Caravans available to view today, All new services including piped gas to all caravans.

DISCOVER MORE, CALL US TODAY info@llawrbetws.co.uk www.llawrbetws.co.uk 01490 460224

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Arts&Crafts A gem of an idea She’s a trained medic and a busy mum, but one Wirral woman has discovered a love of jewellery making that has launched a whole new career


t is fair to say that Fiona Haines discovered her creative side later in life. She didn’t go to art school, she didn’t spend hours in front of an easel and she didn’t wander wistfully around galleries dreaming of exhibiting. In fact, she did quite the opposite. A natural scientist, she studied medicine, becoming a doctor

and then specialising as an eye surgeon. Only when she stopped for breath many years later, with two children and a hectic life in full flow, did she stumble across a whole new outlet for her surprisingly transferable skills. “My journey to making jewellery is a little unusual,” says Fiona. “I started my working life by training and working as a doctor, then an eye surgeon. After a few years at the top, while looking for a bit of ‘me time’ alongside my busy job and frantic family life, I stumbled upon a silver jewellery making course and was immediately hooked!” Fiona hasn’t looked back, and she soon established a small home workshop to continue experimenting. “As my abilities grew, it quickly became evident that my previous career had furnished me with many of the skills I required as a jeweller: precision, problem solving, perseverance and patience,” she says. “I am finding my style and path but am not afraid of trying new approaches, which makes life great fun.”

Expensive hobby

Fiona’s beautiful gemstone work

It soon became clear that Fiona needed funds for her creative habit, so Wise Fig Jewellery was born and she began to create, market and sell her bespoke pieces. “Since those slightly confused

initial days it has found its identity, and grown from strength to strength,” she says. “I now focus on individual handmade pieces crafted from precious metals, and centred around gorgeous gemstones. Most recently I have introduced artisan-cut gemstones into the mix, giving my jewellery true individuality. “Along the way I have also developed a fascination with the beautiful gemstones I have come across. I was hungry to learn more, and signed up for the Gemmological Association of Great Britain’s foundation course in gemmology, closely followed by its diploma in gemmology. The more I learn, the more enthralled I become with the amazing selection of gems out there, and the more I want to pass that

appreciation on to my customers. I was lucky enough to travel to Bangkok before the pandemic to learn to cut gemstones, which was an amazing experience. Since then I have started cutting my own gemstones from rough in my workshop, and I am now developing my new collections based on my own range of individually designed, artisancut stones.” “Being a doctor furnished me with the skills I required: precision, problem solving, perseverance and patience”

Above: Fiona in her workshop, where she attempts to use as many eco-friendly and sustainable processes as she can

Giving back

Fiona’s appreciation for the natural wonders found on our planet means she is determined to give back whatever she takes from within the earth. She says: “I am a firm believer that we need to give back more than we take, and as such am striving to make Wise Fig Jewellery as eco-friendly and sustainable as I can. I strongly support using ethically mined and traceable gemstones, recycled metals and sustainable packaging. In my workshop I reuse and recycle materials where possible, and minimise my use of harmful materials in the making process.” To see more of Fiona’s work or to commission a bespoke piece, visit www.wisefigjewellery.com

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Virtual first for

AFONWEN CRAFTS 14th-15th January & 11th12th February, Eco Silver Jewellery by Sandra Roberts Sandra makes many of her lovely pieces of jewellery in her own studio, with reclaimed silver from the jewellery industry. Much of her inspiration comes from nature and all its colours and shapes.

long-running exhibition Unable to exhibit at the Williamson Art Gallery and Museum for the first time since 1950, the Wirral Society of Arts has taken its popular show online this year Genius Loci 4 by Mike Fenner

Gallery, beginning a relationship that has lasted ever since. In the 1980s, with membership

Mawrth by Catherine Taylor Parry


irral Society of Arts has been the premier member organisation for the arts on the Wirral since 1948. It was established as an exhibiting opportunity for professional and semiprofessional artists and has flourished into an organisation that champions the work of local artists and creators from across the peninsula. The Lady Lever Gallery in Port Sunlight was the home of the society’s first exhibition in 1949, but it was unable to offer space in 1950 so the exhibition shifted to the Williamson Art

Blue Lake by Roland Brandom

numbers falling, this evolved into an open exhibition, whereby artists from outside the membership were invited to exhibit alongside WSA members. Over the decades this has led to several exhibitions of great quality and a number of invited artists

the pandemic – but, with help from the Williamson, it has been able to display as many works from as many artists as usual via the internet, potentially bringing their craft and their stories to an even wider audience. The society is keen to encourage anyone interested in purchasing a piece of work on display, or commissioning one of the artists featured, to do so, and says that it is not as difficult or expensive as you may expect. Anyone who visits the online exhibition is encouraged to look at members’ work (some examples of which can be seen here) and choose a style they like, then contact the artist through the links given or email info@wirralsocietyarts.org. The WSA will put you in touch with the artist who can discuss your requirements and budget so you get the original artwork you wish for. Visit the exhibition at www.williamsonart gallery.org.

Still Life by Susan Brown

Changing times

Her Again by Gerard McGregor

23rd-24th January & 20th-21st February, Thelma Evans Local artist Thelma is one of the longest-standing artists to visit the centre. She has a delicate style and paints land and seascapes in pretty pastels, as well as many places of interest. Thelma is happy to chat and is also able to take commissions. 27th-28th January & 23rd-24th February, Elaine at Cherry Bea Elaine makes lovely and unusual pieces of jewellery, with many different and interesting beads, stones and sparkly crystals. Elaine is also able to offer a re-stringing service.

29th January & 25th February, Crafty Sisters The ladies have a fabulous collection of handmade jewellery, made with various materials, to include glass, resin, braided and more, in lots of different colours. In addition to their jewellery, they also have some cards, keyrings and hair slides. 13th-14th February, Marie at Earth Deva Marie has many different and unusual handmade items, including bowls, wall plaques and more, with some having a quirky mythical theme to them. Marie also has some fabulous one-of-a-kind artworks from her original drawings.

have subsequently become members of the society. This year the society has been forced to make even more dramatic changes. It was unable to open its annual exhibition to the public at all due to

21st January, 5th February, Weaving with Trevor Blackburn Trevor has some gorgeous woven items on display and for sale, including shawls and scarves, made from various yarns of silk, wool, cashmere, camel and alpaca. Come and watch Trevor at work as he weaves his wonderful creations.

Artist’s Table by Anna Clark

For the full calendar of visiting artists to Afonwen throughout January and February, visit www.afonwen.co.uk

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Until 18th April, Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings: In My Room, The Mostyn Art Gallery, Llandudno Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings’ first solo institutional exhibition brings together film, fresco painting and works on paper. As a new body of work, In My Room develops the artists’ inquiry into the politics, histories and aesthetics of queer spaces and culture. This inquiry builds on their travels across the UK while making the UK Gay Bar Directory 2016: a moving image archive of gay bars, responding to the systematic closure of LGBTQ+ dedicated social spaces. www.mostyn.org.uk

PHOTO COMPETITION CREATIVE AND COLOURFUL! Well, we asked for “A Burst of Colour” and we certainly got one! Thank you so much to everyone who entered our photo competition from the last edition – these splashes of brightness are just what we all need to cheer us up. Let’s hope this positive imagery carries us forward into 2021 with a smile. We’ve printed our favourites here but don’t worry if you didn’t make it into our pages this time – we have another opportunity to do so in the next edition! For our next competition we’d like to focus on the topic of Tasty Treats. You can take that as literally or abstractedly as you like – still-life fruit bowls are welcome, but so are beautiful banquets and sizzling sausages… Send your entries in to us at editorial@shiremagazine.co.uk. by Kathryn Hall

Until 23rd January, Outdoor/ Indoors: DAC Arts Prize 2020, Oriel Davies Gallery, Powys Last year was to have been Visit Wales’s Year of the Outdoors… then a global pandemic hit and it became our year of being indoors. Isolation is not something new to many disabled people, but for the first time we were all forced to self-isolate and maintain social distance. For many the only human interaction came via online calls or social media, and our experience of the mountains, sea, rivers and countryside was only virtual. This exhibition is the result of an open call to reflect that through art. www.orieldavies.org

Until 23rd May, Kandinsky video curation from the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao Thanks to the pandemic, some of the world’s most impressive galleries and most substantial art collections are inviting the world to see their collection online. This is a great opportunity for anyone to take a virtual trip to Spain and enjoy a comprehensive exhibition of paintings and works on paper from one of the most famous artists of all time at a worldrenowned gallery. These works by Vasily Kandinsky are drawn primarily from the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation’s rich holdings. Sponsored by the BBVA Foundation, the exhibition traces the aesthetic evolution of a pioneer of abstraction, one of the foremost artistic innovators of the early 20th century. In his endeavour to free painting from its ties to the natural world, Kandinsky discovered a new subject matter based solely on the artist’s “inner necessity” that would remain his lifelong concern. www.guggenheim-bilbao.eus

by Margaret Davies

by Kathryn Hall

by Mary Jones

by Callum Turner

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by Steve Thomas

by Margaret Davies

by Steve Thomas

by Pamela Richards

by Sue Mellor

by Kenneth Davies

by Sam Hulse

by Kenneth Davies

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Wrap up warm Stave off the cold weather in style with our pick of the best winter coats and accessories

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Bianca three-quarter length coat, £155, Out of Town in Oswestry, Shropshire; www.out-of-town-oswestry.co.uk Short quilted coat, £66, Lornashouse in Whitchurch, Shropshire; www.lornashouse.com Full-length quilted waterproof coat, £149, Out of Town in Oswestry, Shropshire; www.out-of-town-oswestry.co.uk Felicity wrap, £40, Tweedmill Shopping Outlet in St Asaph, Denbighshire; www.tweedmill.co.uk Luella gloves, £18, View in Ludlow, Shropshire; www.viewboutique.com Joe Browns cosy wool blend lightweight jacket, £60, Tweedmill Shopping Outlet in St Asaph, Denbighshire; www.tweedmill.co.uk Barts faux fur headband, £22.99, Peppers Menswear & Ladieswear in Church Stretton, Shropshire; www.peppersfashion.co.uk

8. Tog 24 Elcot knit hat, £20, Debenhams; www.debenhams.com 9. Wool shawl, £139, Morgan in Chester; www.morgan-shops.co.uk 10. Ugie Fair Isle ski hat, £38, cowl, £55, and wrist warmer fingerless gloves, £33, The Croft House; www.thecrofthouse.com 11. Schneiders of Salzburg classic wool cashmere coat, £279, Peppers Menswear & Ladieswear in Church Stretton, Shropshire; www.peppersfashion.co.uk 12. Porth coat, £130, Mistral in Ludlow, Shropshire; www.mistral-online.com 13. Suzy scarf, £35, The Stars & Grey; www.thestarsandgrey.co.uk 14. Helene Berman for Abi Fisher long coat with fur cuffs, £265, Abi Fisher in Willington, Cheshire; www.abifisher.co.uk 15. DENTS chunky knit hat with large pom pom, £18, Bodenhams in Ludlow, Cheshire; www.bodenhams.co.uk

January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 91

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Banish the January blues with stylish shades that are guaranteed to leave you feeling anything but glum




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Lyle & Scott pullover hoodie hoodie, £65, Smart Ass Menswear in Conwy; www.smartassmenswear.co.uk Jacob cleated casual boot, boot £42.50, White Stuff; www.whitestuff.com Barbour Whitton beanie, beanie £25, Smart Ass Menswear in Conwy; www.smartassmenswear.co.uk Pal Zileri hopsack jacket, jacket, £975 reduced to £478.50, Stephen Muldoon Bespoke in Prestbury, Cheshire; www.stephenmuldoon.com Barbour tartan lambswool scarf scarf, £27.95, Peppers Menswear & Ladieswear in Church Stretton, Shropshire; www.peppersfashion.co.uk Olymp button-down shirt with paisley trim trim, £59.95, Peppers Menswear & Ladieswear in Church Stretton, Shropshire; www.peppersfashion.co.uk Quizman soft-touch funnel-neck coat coat, £74.99, Debenhams; www.debenhams.com Barbour Highland Check 34 tailored-fit shirt shirt, £74.95, Bodenhams in Ludlow, Shropshire; www.bodenhams.co.uk

9. Aran Craft Donegal wool jumper, £69.99, Cherry Tree Country Clothing in Ruthin, Denbighshire; www.cherrytreecountryclothing.com 10. Cord comfort trousers, £35, Cotton Traders; www.cottontraders.com 11. Vintage flannel fine brushed cotton shirt, £50, Vedoneire; www.vedoneire.com 12. Luxury country design ties,, from £16.95, Cherry Tree Country Clothing in Ruthin, Denbighshire; www.cherrytreecountryclothing.com 13. Hoggs of Fife Argyll parka,, £169, Cherry Tree Country Clothing in Ruthin, Denbighshire; www.cherrytreecountryclothing.com 14. Barbour Essential lambswool V-neck jumper, £69.95, Bodenhams in Ludlow, Shropshire; www.bodenhams.co.uk 15. Gabicci classic polo shirt,, £42.55, Wood’s of Shropshire; www.woodsofshropshire.co.uk 16. Jacob Cohen leather sneaker,, £425 reduced to £255, Stephen Muldoon Bespoke in Prestbury, Cheshire; www.stephenmuldoon.com

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Shire Magazine, The best of North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Wirral & Shropshire Get in touch editorial@shiremagazine.co.uk or 01691 661 270

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Wales’s first and only sled dog adventure attraction takes visitors and college students on unique experiences full of activity and excitement


ynydd Sleddog Adventures is to putting together teams for training and hydration, feeding and grooming. A home to Xinaskyii Sled Dog Team, sled dog racer with 20 years’ experience, a well-respected racing outfit that picked up medals at the British National Joe believes this is an amazing Championships. As well as taking part opportunity for learners and will further in competitions, owner Joe Swiffen strengthen their relationship with Llysfasi. “It’s a great way to study dog also offers husky rides along the forest behaviour and management with our trails of Bwlch Hafod Einion, near Cerrigydrudion, Alaskan and Siberian huskies, as well as the German shortConwy. This haired pointer and year, she Scandinavian hounds has joined we have here at forces “Assistants carry out a range with Coleg of tasks, from harnessing dogs Mynydd Sleddog,” says Joe. “We Cambria’s and driving a quad to putting need help with the Llysfasi together teams for training” training of yearling site to offer learners sled dogs for use within the business and a rare and competitive racing, and exciting experience. there’s the possibility of one of the group Joe and the team get their mushing assistants to carry out a range of tasks, learning to drive a team if they show the desire to do so. I come from a different from harnessing dogs and driving a quad,

social background and didn’t have the chance to pursue my dreams when I College students gain was 16, so with these valuable experience placements I want to provide opportunities I never had in the hope they won’t make the same mistakes I did growing up.” Iain Clarke, assistant principal of technical studies and site lead at Llysfasi, says: “Joe is passionate about giving our animal care and management learners an exciting and rewarding position to gain valuable work experience. We’re so fortunate to have them on our doorstep.” For more about the experiences on offer at Mynydd Sleddog Adventures, visit www.mynyddsleddogadventures.com. Visit www.cambria.ac.uk for more on the courses available at Coleg Cambria

THE MYSTICAL STIPERSTONES The Stiperstones were formed 480 million years ago

Our walking columnist Clive Williams takes us on another mysterious route in Shropshire


ollowing on from the last edition of Shire, when I covered an inspirational Shropshire walk at Earl’s Hill, this time we travel a few miles further south to the spectacular Stiperstones. The Stiperstones are very distinctive, “The with their jagged outcrop of stones and quartzite quartzite formations, or tors. The highest sparkles in point is Manstone Rock at 536m above sea the sun” level; other formations include the Cranberry Stone, the Devil’s Chair and Nipstone Rock. The quartzite sparkles in the sun, which means the formations can be seen from miles away. The rocks were formed around 480 million years ago, when the area was a shallow sea. In the last Ice Age, the Stiperstones were surrounded by glaciers, and the intense cold caused the quartzite to split and shatter causing these rocky tors and scree. Stiperstones is now a national nature reserve within the boundary of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The upland area has an abundance of red grouse, whose alarm calls fill the hills along with the distinctive sound of the curlew. Red kites and peregrine falcons have also been spotted here.

Going underground

The Bog Mine Visitor Centre and Snailbeach Mine are good starting points to any of these walks. There are various circular walks that start at Bog Mine car park, and one spectacular circular walk that can be downloaded at www.shropshiregreatoutdoors.co.uk. The postcode for satnavs is SY5 ONG, but take care driving there as the roads are quite narrow. If you have some spare time, the mines themselves are well worth a visit. Snailbeach is a former lead mine where the workings have been lovingly preserved, and guided tours are available.

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Nissan’s upgraded SUV is stylish enough to stand out from the crowd, says Bob Hickman

Nissan Juke Tekna 1.0 DIG-T t is more than a decade since the Nissan Juke first appeared and its five-door SUV styling has proven to have huge appeal to the car-buying public over the years, with sales of over 1.5 million. There is no doubt that its latest incarnation is a quirky-looking vehicle. But the Juke now has more space for passengers, a bigger boot and a brand new infotainment system, which is a delight to work. The question, of course, is: with so much competition, is the Juke a vehicle that will tempt you to part with your hard-earned cash. The front is distinctive with “It is its wide LED running lights – in fact it can look quite aggressive, definitely especially alongside Nissan’s an outhuge V-shaped grille. The of-thenew wheel design and exterior ordinary colour combination are quite vehicle” outstanding, while the interior of our test car was an explosion of tangerine with ambient lighting and tangerine inserts around the gear lever. A Marmite moment, I think! The interior is fine for two adults to sit comfortably in the front. The rear has room for two but you may struggle if you are on the tall side. At 422 litres its boot is noticeably bigger than the previous Juke’s. The instrumentation and all the interior The tangerine interior

features are an absolute delight to use. There is an abundance of equipment for the driver including a lane assist, cruise control, a wonderful 8in touchscreen system and start/ stop. In addition there are monitors to detect any moving objects nearby, cross traffic, forward traffic – the technology is quite extensive.

Power and pace

The test vehicle was equipped with a onelitre three-cylinder engine producing 117bhp, which is sufficient to enable you to gallop up to 60mph in just over 10 seconds, while the top speed is 112mph where permissible. Economy isn’t bad at 44.1mpg on the combined figure, and the CO2 is on the low side at 116g/km. The seven-speed automatic gearbox was an excellent companion, seemingly able to anticipate the right gear for any circumstances. The on-theroad price for the Juke we tested was £25,860, which included the unusual leather seating. The Juke has come on in leaps and bounds, keeping pace with all its major rivals. It is now more spacious, • MODEL TESTED more practical and • PRICE easier to drive than the • ENGINE original and its design • POWER also stands out – it is • MAX SPEED definitely an out-of• 0-60MPH the-ordinary vehicle • WTP RANGE and not a clone like • EMISSIONS so many SUVs. FACTS AT A GLANCE


Bob is a devoted car and motorcycle fan. After a 30-year career as a police motorcycle patrol officer and latterly as a sergeant, patrolling the motorways of the Midlands, retirement beckoned and he embarked on writing about his love of transport. Bob is a member of the Guild of Motor Writers and the Midland Guild of Motor Writers. In his spare time he rides a Royal Enfield Continental GT motorcycle and drives a 1994 MG RV8.


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‘We believe Shire to be one of the best in the country. Full of interesting information, articles and features, Shire has plenty to offer its readers and it really helps us connect to our target market. The Shire team are one of our favourite to work with.’ Phil Sanders, Stokers Fine Furniture






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‘We have found the team always to be helpful, professional and supportive. They are brilliant at including us in features. The magazine is well read and it is effective advertising. We see how well the public react to the magazine here in the centre as they pick up their free copies. Its a great read.’ Janet Dallolio, Afonwen Craft & Antique Centre


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‘Shire magazine hits the perfect mark for us. Through a regular programme of promotions and editorial content, Shire is increasing our exposure and extending our audience reach. Our collaboration with Shire magazine is increasing awareness about us, our music and our considerable charitable work.’ Derek Jones, Wrexham Symphony Orchestra


SAVING FOR A RAINY DAY Ann Francis from Cambrian Credit Union shares her tops tips on avoiding financial trouble in the future


s well as having serious should aim for £3,000 in implications for people’s emergency savings. health, Covid-19 has had a Whatever you can afford significant impact on household to put aside, you’ll be getting finances, with the closure into the savings habit. And of businesses and a rise in small sums can add up quickly – saving just £3 a day will add unemployment. While people with secure incomes were able up to £1,095 over a year. to save money during lockdown, the pandemic left millions Necessary cuts struggling on reduced incomes. Once you’ve worked out how The UK’s unemployment much you need to save, go rate is at its highest for three through your outgoings and cut years and a report down on any unnecessary “Grow a by London-based payments. Pay off the savings think-tank Legatum credit card with the pot of at Institute showed highest interest rate least three that more than 15 first and shop around million people – 23% to find a zero per cent months’ of the population interest card to help outgoings” – are now living in stop debt piling up. poverty. Data from Citizens Switch energy providers Advice shows that around and TV subscriptions and six million adults have fallen leave overpriced tariffs by behind on at least one household using comparison websites. bill during the pandemic. Compare prices when you go shopping and cut back on the non-essentials like gym Comfort zone Credit unions are encouraging membership and nights out. And as 2021 begins, make people to build themselves a financial buffer. The Money the most important New Year’s Advice Service recommends resolution of them all: open a savings account with your nearest growing a savings pot of at credit union and build yourself least three months’ outgoings. a sound financial future. So, if you spend an average of £1,000 a month on mortgage or rent, food, heating bills For more information, visit www.cambriancu.com and other essentials, you

We always know when a Shire magazine hits the shops, as it gets our phone ringing. The circulation area is really well suited to our target market, and the magazine has a quality feel. We certainly get results from our advertising. The team at Shire are always helpful and friendly, making the whole process hasslefree.’ Linda Andrews, Cheshire Cat Narrowboat Holidays ‘We were delighted with Shire’s Chester Chester CH3 5UG CH3 5UG 01244 311160 01244 311160 help in producing a new look to our advertisements – they gave our ads a new lease of life and superbly promoted our products. The professional and personal approach of the sales team made them a joy to work with – nothing was too much trouble.’ Carla Huxley, Simon Boyd Ltd W WW W W. W. SI S IM M ON O NB B OYD O Y D..C COM OM

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‘Once we knew the team behind Shire magazine and understood the vision for the publication we were eager to be part of it. The quality of the magazine is equal to those that attract a £5 price tag, filled with useful and informative articles, rather than simply packed with adverts. The adverts are well thought out and the editorial opportunities often prove equally as valuable as the advertising space, promoting key products and positioning us as experts in our field. Communication is fantastic and pro-active, with a real understanding of how a business might Chester CH3 benefit from being in each issue. Shire Magazine is definitely one 01244 311160 of the first mediums penned into our advertising schedule ‘Shire Magazine is a very important asset for Premier Windows and Conservatories. Their team takes the time to understand our business which leads to carefully constructed adverts. We have greatly benefited from Shire’s features on our installations. We look forward to continued success with Shire Magazine.’ Caroline Chenery, Premier Windows ‘Shire magazine helps us to reach out to our audiences across the region with quality editorial, uptodate features and advertorial support. Dan and the team at Shire are great to work with and it’s the type of magazine you want to pick up and delve into to find out what’s on.’ Ben Walker, The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust ‘When I came across the Shire magazine I knew immediately that this was THE place to be seen. We were looking for a magazine that not only covered a wide area but moreover was informative and full of interesting articles on subjects that would appeal to people of all ages and lifestyle.’ Ann Wynne, Wynnes Countrystore

Call 01691 661270, email advertising@shiremagazine.co.uk or go to www.shiremagazine.co.uk to find out more

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Charities&Volunteering BIRTHDAY BOOST FOR LOCAL CHARITY their mobility. The charity, based in Oswestry, is aiming to raise more than £150,000 – the amount needed to transform the lives of 25 children through Targeted Training, the only therapy of its kind in the world. Targeted Training consists of a six- or 12-month course of The Movement Centre is 25! tailored physiotherapy, including campaign to raise enough the use of a specialist standing money to support 25 frame. It can help children to gain head control so they can children to reach life-changing movement milestones interact with those around them and has been launched as “The charity part of celebrations for become able to sit is aiming a Shropshire charity’s unaided. For some it to raise can even lead to gaining 25th birthday. £150,000” The Movement the ability to walk. For more Centre team is calling information about how you on people to support its 25/25 fundraising initiative to mark a can help the Movement Centre reach its target, visit quarter of a century of helping www.the-movement-centre. children with cerebral palsy co.uk or call 01691 404248. and other disabilities affecting



RJAH staff with the blankets


pinal injury patients at the Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH) in Oswestry have been wrapping up warm in knitted blankets made by volunteer-led group, Close Knit Friends. Each blanket is created with 25 individual squares made in the hospital’s League of Friends colourways, pink and blue. The squares are then joined together and a pouch added. “We’ve received so much support for this project and we’d like to say a huge thank

you to all of our knitters,” says Lady Trevor, vice-chairman of the League of Friends. “It has been a wonderful way to stay bonded with our volunteers and fundraising groups through the pandemic. Many of those taking part have had to shield – we’re happy to provide them with a welcome distraction.” The blankets are single-use items and are taken home by patients. For this reason, the group are on the lookout for additional members to support with the demand. If you’re interested, email rjah.leagueoffriends@nhs. net or call 01691 404401.

The Friends of Telford Town Park



voluntary group working to promote, conserve and protect the award-winning Telford Town Park has scooped the support of a new sponsor. Friends of Telford Town Park (FOTTP) is now sponsored by J&PR Ltd, based in Wellington, which will see the PR and content creation agency boost the profile of the group. FOTTP carries out woodwork, painting and gardening, and works alongside

council contractors to maintain the Maxell and Chelsea Gardens as well as other areas of the 450-acre site. Kirsty Smallman, codirector at J&PR, says: “We are delighted to support the work of FOTTP – its invaluable voluntary work ensures the gardens Kirsty Smallman look amazing for visitors. The gardens wouldn’t be what they are without the group.” www. friendsoftelfordtownpark.org

Students stride to success


tudents and staff at Derwen College, Shropshire, have been celebrating the success of their first virtual fundraising event, which raised more than £5,000. Six teams from the specialist Team Alexander further education college near Oswestry took on the challenge than £3,000. Tom Alexander and William Chapple took to of walking or running 874 walking, running and cycling miles during August in the around their local areas. Land’s End to John The event was O’ Groats Virtual “Walking five Charity Challenge. organised to recoup miles a day some of the fundraising Each team member for 30 days losses faced by the had to walk at least was a real college because five miles a day to challenge!” of Covid-19. All reach the target. donations will go College fundraiser Anna Evans says: “Walking towards the project to refurbish and renovate the Agnes Hunt five miles every day for 30 Village bungalows, where days was a real challenge for Derwen students learn and many of us. It meant we had develop their independent living to keep up the pace otherwise skills. To support the college’s we’d fall dangerously behind!” Two students and their fundraising efforts visit www. bit.ly/FundDerwenLEJOG. families took part, raising more

To see your charity event feature on these pages, please email editorial@shiremagazine.co.uk January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 97

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Top of the Class MAKING A SPLASH A

pupil and a member of staff from the Royal School Wolverhampton recently took part in the second season of the International Swimming League. Marc Spackman, head coach of the school’s swim club, and pupil Matthew Richards travelled to Budapest, Hungary in late October to take part in the event. Marc was called up to coach the New York Breakers, while Matthew was invited to compete with the team. The ISL swimmers and coaches stayed The New York Breakers swim team on Margaret Island in a sophisticated “bubble”, and the series ended without Champion Matthew – who had a cracker a single positive case of Covid-19. of a meet, swimming outstandingly Racing took place in Budapest’s Duna throughout the course of the series. Arena, home of the 2017 World “Athletes and coaches came together Championships and one of the top from different nations with unique swimming venues in the world. ideas and backgrounds to The racing really was a help the athletes perform to “The event sight to behold and it was their best ability,” says Marc. in Budapest great to see various strategies “The staff on the New York was a real applied, resulting in some really Breakers team were excellent celebration unpredictable outcomes. The to work with and came from of swimming production team really stepped up the United States, Denmark, power” to create an amazing swimming Holland, Russia, Poland and venue. Lights, colour, smoke Hungary. The different training and a poolside DJ turned the event into methods were fascinating to see.” a real celebration of swimming power. Marc Spackman is the head performance coach on the Royal School’s elite swimmers programme. He is a former swimmer for Superb swimming England and Great Britain, and once ranked As coach of the New York Breakers, Marc was responsible for some of Britain’s top as one of the top 20 200m freestylers in swimmers, including Molly Renshaw, the world. He raced at the 2000 Olympic Abbie Wood and James Wilby, along Games in Sydney as a member of Team with the Royal School’s European Junior GB’s men’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay.

THE HEAD’S COLUMN Wendy Martin, head of Bedstone College, Shropshire, talks about rebalancing the curriculum in 2021


n a world where change is the only constant, the decision to move away from compulsory lessons on Saturdays at Bedstones College enables a rebalance of the curriculum and an opportunity to introduce an enhanced programme of extracurricular activities. I have immediately received positive feedback from many parents who wanted more family time at weekends. Since joining the school in 2019, I have made an increased focus to move the school forwards in response to educational developments, including advancements in

Wendy Martin with Bedstone pupils

the use of technology, more extracurricular activities and continuing the academically rigorous teaching and learning. Bedstone is committed to supporting every pupil to be the best they can be, and the school’s commitment to tailored learning is at the forefront of what is provided, at all times. To contact Bedstone’s admissions team, email admissions@bedstone.org or call 01547 530961.


SCHOOL NEWS BRINGING MUSIC TO THEIR EARS An online platform that helped musicians find new ways of working during the pandemic has been supported by an academic from Wrexham Glyndwr University. The new site, Interface:Response, Dr Jason Woolley provides resources and inspiration to help musicians – many of whom have found work severely affected by public health measures designed to slow the spread of coronavirus – with a wealth of resources, advice, curation and more. One of those who helped with the project is Dr Jason Woolley, who lectures in creative media technology at Wrexham Glyndwr and whose research on musicians and employability is soon to be published. He was asked to support the project as a consultant after working alongside members of UCanPlay, the site’s developers, on curriculum and course design. The Interface:Response project was funded by Innovate UK, and works in partnership with the Musicians’ Union and NYMAZ. “The guys at UCanPlay are aware of my research into employability in the creative industries and my research interest as a musician in work and career pathways in the music industry,” says Dr Woolley. “I think my experience with creative digital technologies and my first-hand understanding of the plight of many musicians during the pandemic meant I could make a positive contribution to the project.” Drawing on research into how musicians operate in the modern economy, Dr Woolley believes many find themselves missing out on government support – and should consider using resources such as Interface:Response to adapt and strengthen their work. To find out more, visit www.interfaceresponse.com.

FLEXIBLE STUDY OPTIONS The new year brings with it loads of learning options at Shrewsbury Colleges Group as it launches a packed schedule of part-time courses starting from January. Around 100 courses, Study at Shrewsbury including professional qualifications, trade skills and hobby/leisure courses, are on offer at the London Road and English Bridge campuses. They’re ideal for anyone who wants to develop their skills, pursue a new career or climb the ladder in their current one by gaining an extra qualification, or for those looking for a hobby course. Qualifications from photography and beauty therapies to business and welding are available on courses that range from a single-day attendance up to a few hours a week for a year. In addition to part-time courses, the college also offers apprenticeships and higher apprenticeships, as well as free distance learning courses. These often have flexible start dates and can usually start at any time throughout the year. The college offers 27 higher education courses in subjects such as art and design, building, business, law and economics, counselling, engineering, music, performing arts, sport and outdoor activities and teaching and education, allowing students to stay local, save time and money, get back into education or progress in their current career. The full course listings are available on the college website. Find out more at www.scg.ac.uk/higher-education.

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SCHOOL NEWS HARRIET JUMPS FOR JOY A Shropshire student has her eyes on a showjumping career after taking first place in a national schools championship. Harriet Otter, a Year 11 student at Ellesmere College, raced to her biggest win to date when she and her 14-yearold mare, Annie, jumped clear to win the Just For Schools Harriet and Annie 1.10m Individual Final, held at Bolesworth Castle, Cheshire. The teenager is a member of the Ellesmere College equestrian team and also appeared with Annie at Hickstead, the mecca of showjumping, in 2019. “It was amazing to win at Bolesworth,” says Harriet. “I always go in the ring with the state of mind that we’re going to win but there were so many good riders there – we were competing against 17 other horses and riders on the day. I was so happy with the way Annie performed.” Harriet has been riding since she was four, and acquired Annie from her brother about three years ago. “My brother started first and then I really got into it,” says Harriet. “We competed quite a lot in 2019, but for quite a while last year we were unable to attend events because of the pandemic, so we trained really hard. We’ve been going out a lot more recently and although we are riding with no spectators, a lot more events have started to kick in since the national championships. It’s all systems go now! “The equestrian team at the college has some brilliant riders – we are a close-knit group and work so well together. I’m hoping there are many more big results to come in future!” For more information about Ellesmere College, visit www.ellesmere.com

GIRLS MAKING GAINS IN A MAN’S WORLD Butchery and meat processing have historically been male-dominated careers, but more and more women are blazing a trail in the meat industry. There has also been a sea change in the sector’s management roles, with colleges across the UK offering courses in various positions. Among these is Coleg Cambria, and one of its learners, Esther Dyke, has risen to become a supervisor at the Rhug Estate in Denbighshire. Esther is currently studying for a certificate of proficiency in food team leading and welcomes this trend. “I’m the only woman in a team of 14 at the cutting plant, but I’m fortunate that everyone is supportive and we all work well together,” says the 24-year-old. “The stereotype of a maledominated factory is certainly not the case here – it’s a forward-thinking organisation I am proud to be a part of it. I definitely encourage other women to think about a career in this sector.” Matthew Edwards, a food manufacturing assessor at Coleg Cambria, says the rise in the number of women in meat and butchery is a breath of fresh air. “It’s refreshing to see women coming into what has always been viewed as a maledominated industry. I believe the butchery trade is crying out for more female butchers,” he says. For more on the courses and qualifications available at Coleg Cambria, visit Esther Dyke www.cambria.ac.uk.



oleg Cambria has launched its own branch of Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, Cangen Cymraeg Cambria, bolstering the Welsh language opportunities for learners, staff and apprentices. Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol is aiming to develop quality modules, courses and resources for learners in collaboration with higher and further education institutions across the country. Cambria’s branch officer Haf Everiss says: “We take pride in our language and traditions and want to celebrate this by strengthening the Welsh language in our north-east Wales communities. Demand for Welsh-medium education has grown significantly as many employers are now seeing the benefits of having a bilingual Haf Everiss



o-educational prep school Moor Park aims to make the boarding experience a fun one for all its pupils, whether they are full boarders or only spend an occasional night at the school. The Shropshire school’s boarding team hosts exciting evenings from movies-and-popcorn to entire weekends of craziness that include themed Big Weekends, like Harry Potter, Wild West and The Great Moor Park Bake Off and, in November, Fright Night. On this year’s Halloween-themed night of fun, Moor Park staff came together to give the Year 8s the fright of their lives.

THE HEAD’S COLUMN Mark Cooper is headteacher at Thomas Adams, a state boarding school in Shropshire


et in 30 acres in Wem, Shropshire, the Thomas Adams School is a coeducational community school for students, a sixth form and a boarding house with an outward-facing approach to education. It isn’t too late to apply for sixth form and boarding at the Thomas Adams. Our sixth form offers an array of subjects at A-level and BTEC, combined with excellent pastoral care. While targeting the best results, we see each student as an

The new Cangen Cymraeg Cambria team

workforce. The branch will enable us to work with Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol to expand opportunities for our learners and apprentices both academically and socially.”

Proud partnership

“Establishing a branch of the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol at Coleg Cambria is an important step in realising the Further Education and National Apprenticeship Action Plan - “Towards Cymraeg 2050: a million Welsh speakers” – and in developing the bilingual skills of students and apprentices across Wales,” says Dr Lowri Morgans, Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol’s further education and apprenticeships academic manager. “We are very proud of this partnership.” For more, visit www.cambria.ac.uk. After devouring a spooky supper of ribs and finger hotdogs, complete with blood-coloured lemonade, the children headed to the sports hall where they played some games. Half of the group then headed into the woods for a spooky story, while the other half made their way to the science labs for some suitable spooky experiments. individual and offer priceless life lessons of self-reliance, respect and self-confidence. Increasingly, we find that parents are choosing state boarding schools ahead of the independent sector as they see they can obtain the education and pastoral care they are seeking for a fraction of the cost. It’s a unique setting that promotes common experience, friendship, trust and honesty between young people and adults. We celebrate diversity and are pleased to welcome students from a variety of backgrounds. Boarders have access to a strong support system, in school and at the boarding house. The lessons in life learned at Thomas Adams will lay a solid foundation for adulthood, and friendships are made that last forever. To take a virtual tour, visit www.thomasadams.net.

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Independent Boarding & Day School for ages 9-19

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for are welcoming and interested in other cultures. Having children of similar ages helps but isn’t the most important thing – many successful host families have no children, younger children or older children who have left home. Internet access is very important, and each student will need their own bedroom with a desk or somewhere quiet for homework.

Space and support



very year, thousands of school-age overseas students are educated at independent schools across the UK. When their school closes for half-term holidays and exeat weekends, they need a host family to provide a home away from home. Pippa’s Guardians has been providing high-quality guardianship services to international students for more than 20 years and understands the value of a good home and how a host family can have a positive impact on a student’s wellbeing. It is now searching to increase the number of host families interested in joining the organisation. The families it looks

As well as receiving a generous payment, becoming a Pippa’s Guardians host family provides the opportunity to make a difference to a student while they’re studying in the UK. The students come from all over the world, and it’s a marvellous and interesting way to learn about the cultures, traditions and daily life of young people and their families from “Make a countries very different to our own. difference The half-term holidays fall in October, to a student February and May. Exeat weekends take while they’re place up to six times a year and are usually studying in for two or three nights each time. The the UK” organisation’s local area managers look after the students during term time and are always on hand with support when it’s needed. If you have space in your home and an interest in becoming a host, email laura@pippasguardians.co.uk or visit www.pippasguardians.co.uk.



irchfield School near Albrighton, Shropshire, which currently educates boys and girls from ages four to 13, will welcome children up to the age of 16 from September – and will see a major investment programme, including new science and sports facilities. The school has become part of the St Philips Education group, which also owns St Dominic’s Grammar School in Brewood, Staffordshire, and the group’s co-owner, Gary Hartland, says pupils, parents and staff can look forward to a bright future. “We are delighted to be providing a sound financial platform for the headmistress and her staff to continue offering excellent education across academic, “This will sporting and so many other areas of school allow pupils life,” says Hartland. “We are passionate to stay on about providing the very best facilities, and with us at will be undertaking a major improvement the school programme, with the initial investment they love” being in the region of £500,000.”

Changing times

A range of changes are already under way, the main innovation being the launch of an extension to the senior school department. From September, Birchfield School will welcome pupils in Year 9, and will offer a three-year GCSE programme for pupils up to the age of 16.

Calling all entrepreneurs


student entrepreneurship competition that sees Wrexham Glyndwr University partner with leading logistics provider Farrall’s Group is under way. The Ambition Vault, which runs until February, offers participants the opportunity to learn from industry experts and receive one-to-one mentoring, with the winning team securing significant financial investment. “This is a major opportunity for Glyndwr students and recent graduates to work with leading local businesses and to develop their entrepreneurship skills,” says Megan Breakwell, entrepreneurship co-ordinator at Wrexham Glyndwr University. “Our competition will help take them through the entire process, guided along the way by leading industry figures. From planning through to marketing, pitching and financing – and, finally, to a pitch to

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“I’m thrilled that Birchfield School has joined the St Philips Education group, and we can look forward to an exciting future together,” says headmistress The initial investment will be around £500,000 Sarah Morris. “We will see investment in so many areas of school life, adding to our already highly respected educational provision, and allowing our pupils the opportunity to stay on with us at the school they love so much for their ongoing education. We are proud of our independent status, and the opportunity for pupils to continue their education up to Year 11 and GCSE allows the school to draw on its subject specialists to build on further success.” While both schools in the group will continue to operate fully independently of each other, Mrs Morris said she was looking forward to working closely with the team at St Dominic’s to provide the very best offering for all of its boys and girls. For more information, visit www.birchfieldschool.co.uk. Farrall’s Group for that all-important investment – our students will be given the help they need to make their ideas succeed.” The Ambition Vault is open to current Glyndwr undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as graduates who completed their studies at the university within the past two years. Matthew Farrall, managing director of Farrall’s Group, wanted to back the competition after seeing the need for the kind of support Glyndwr is providing. “There’s a gap between education and industry that I want to help bridge,” he says. “I’m passionate about providing students with opportunities to develop their ideas.” If you’re interested in taking part, email enhance@glyndwr.ac.uk. Matthew Farrall

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Traditional Values

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BEDSTONE Education With Imagination

Academic excellence in a caring environment Why choose us? • Wide choice of subjects – A Level and BTEC • Excellent pastoral care • Extensive bus routes and train links • Outstanding post-18 advice and guidance • Fantastic facilities in a rural setting • Set within a 30-acre campus • Supervised study hub sessions • Daily access to a tutor • Great range of enrichment activities • Full and weekly boarding available • Adams House - state boarding • A home away from home

Come and take a look for yourself individual tours can be arranged Telephone: 01939 237000 or email: enquiries@thomasadams.net

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THE HEAD’S COLUMN Andy Russell, headmaster at St David’s College, Llandudno, explains how the school treats each child as an individual

SINGING SENSATION WINS TWO MUSIC AWARDS A teenager from Shropshire has landed two top music awards Kizzy Lumley-Edwards and will now train with some of the industry’s leading experts. Oswestry-born Kizzy Lumley-Edwards, who attends Ellesmere College as a music scholar, is one of just eight people who will have bespoke training and performances alongside renowned capella choirs VOCES8 and Apollo5. The 17-year-old has also been handed the Robinson Award of up to £1,000 towards music education as part of the Future Talent Awards. Tony Coupe, director of music at the college, is thrilled for Kizzy. “This is marvellous news for Kizzy and Ellesmere College,” he says. “We are absolutely delighted that she is realising her ambition and being recognised by the industry’s leading performers. She is a very talented all-round musician and also shows great potential as a composer. Kizzy won the awards after auditioning in Manchester and then via Zoom to a panel that included alto Kate JeffriesHarris. It means she can now also take part in the VOCES8 International Summer School and Festival in July. The Year 13 student is a member of the Junior Conservatoire at Royal Northern and is auditioning for a number of UK conservatoires in order to study a BMus in performance (voice) in September.


Wrexham Glyndwr’s Nina Ruddle, right

Wrexham Glyndwr University is working to become a Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experience (TrACE)-informed institution – the first of its kind in the country. This means people who may have encountered trauma or adverse childhood experiences will be given the opportunity to progress while at Glyndwr – and the university hopes to develop this approach so it can be embedded in communities right across Wales. The project is being carried out in partnership with the Welsh government-funded and Public Health Wales-hosted ACE Support Hub. “It’s not about treating trauma,” says Vicky Jones, North Wales lead for the Hub. “It’s a fundamental approach recognising that adversity and trauma are a possibility for everyone and it’s about promoting opportunities for wellbeing, healing and recovery.” Wrexham Glyndwr University’s head of public policy engagement, Nina Ruddle, says: “Last year has really amplified our experience of trauma and vulnerability, and I think it’s even more important now we start shaping and understanding our approach to TrACE.” The TrACE-informed model will work alongside Glyndwr’s ongoing social inclusion work, which has seen the university rated the most socially inclusive university in England and Wales by the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide for the past three years.


ur aim at St David’s is a simple one – to create a unique whole-person education centred on the individual, built on Christian principles and embedded in a family atmosphere. Taking this approach allows us to find the gifts of each individual and tailor their education accordingly. We take the time to discover and unwrap each child’s gift by cultivating their interests in academic or extracurricular areas, while recognising and nurturing

extraordinary character traits. Our bespoke education package allows each child to grow much further than just simply gaining the knowledge to pass exams. We work hard to remove the barriers to learning. Students benefit from small class sizes and highly qualified staff delivering fun, engaging multimedia lessons. Our dedicated learning support centre is home to around 20 full-time one-to-one teachers, enabling students to access the support they need. We create a unique learning plan that guides each member of staff on how best each student will learn. Pupils leave St David’s with unique personalities, individual strengths and the core values of honesty, respect and loyalty. They head out into the world with the determination to succeed, the freedom to flourish and the will to never give up.

Students support hedgehog sanctuary


nimal care students at Coleg Cambria Llysfasi are rehabilitating four European hedgehogs and hope to release them back into the wild in the new year. In partnership with Hedgehog Help Prestatyn (HHP), they have been caring for them in a converted room which can hold eight of the creatures at any one time, providing warmth, shelter and regular meals. HHP’s founder Tracy Pierce says hedgehog numbers are dwindling nationally as hedgerows and field margins are lost to intensive farming and more people tidy and renovate their gardens. “The issue has got far worse, so I would like to thank the students and lecturers at Coleg Cambria for their support,” she says. “Wild hedgehogs are in sharp decline for a number of reasons but primarily the fact there are fewer places for them to shelter, fewer insects and bugs for them to feed on and they are unable to move around as they could before.

The Royal School wins award for working with vulnerable children


he Royal School Wolverhampton has been awarded the Boarding School of the Year Working with Vulnerable Children at the Boarding Schools Association (BSA) Annual Awards 2020. This prestigious award recognises that protecting and working with

Coleg Cambria students helping hedgehogs

“We are doing all we can to care for the hedgehogs and, with Cambria’s support, are trying to aid the aniamls that were under-nourished or injured so they can be released back to full health and into the wild.” Hedgehog numbers in the wild are believed to have been around 30 million in 1950, dropping to 500,000 by 2018. For more information, or if you find a hedgehog in need of care and attention, call Hedgehog Help Prestatyn on 07591 576765 or visit www.hedgehoghelpprestatyn.org.uk. vulnerable children who board at the school requires an in-depth understanding and an ability to approach each child’s situation in a unique way to best assist them. “This is wonderful recognition of the continued work of our boarding, teaching, domestic, catering and estates staff who support all our boarders and in particular, those vulnerable youngsters who are lookedafter children in all their guises over an extended period,” says the Royal School’s principal Mark Heywood. “Thanks to all the hard work of our dedicated boarding staff who work around the clock, weekends, and half-term holidays to present a stable home environment and life-changing experiences that enable our young people go on to an impressive range of destinations.”

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Retirement Living A HOME FROM HOME Residential home specialist Care UK has opened a new facility in Chester that epitomises luxury later living


eewater Grange in Huntington on the outskirts of Chester is a stunning and spacious new care home, where a compassionate team of experts delivers quality care you can trust, in a safe, warm and welcoming environment. Deewater Grange provides long-and short-term residential, dementia and nursing care, giving families reassurance that their loved ones can remain at the home should their needs change. The experienced team receives the latest training in all areas of care. Most importantly, the staff bring a kind and caring approach and a passion for keeping residents safe, happy and well cared for.

wishes. The lifestyle team organises a huge variety of group and one-to-one activities, with plenty going on each day.

Support for all

Living at Deewater The outdoor space is perfect for family visits Grange is all about quality of life. Every team member goes above and beyond to make every day fulfilling for residents, supporting them to do the activities Luxurious spaces they love, enjoy their favourite foods and keep in touch with the With safety a top priority for everyone right now, Deewater Grange people who are special to them. Staff at Deewater Grange support has enhanced its already robust infection control measures to keep residents to use electronic tablets to keep in touch with their families, residents and employees safe. Staff use the latest technology to keep especially via video calls on apps such as Zoom and Skype. The new the care home clean, including fogging machines to disinfect RelsApp is an easy-to-use social network where colleagues indoor spaces and can help residents enjoy and respond to messages, send thermal-imaging photos and videos, and share music with their loved ones. “Deewater cameras to check For all residents, but especially those living with dementia, Grange is being able to interact temperatures. all about Visits from loved with and hear messages quality ones are important from friends and family of life” to everyone, and is incredibly beneficial. Deewater Grange Deewater Grange has safe outdoor visiting is part of award-winning provider Care UK, one of options including a garden, The care home’s salon drive-in or closed-window the UK’s most successful care visits, and a dedicated indoor visiting space when the situation allows. home operators with over 35 The dining room The home’s manager, Sally Cooper, and her team do all this while years’ experience of delivering high-quality care to older people. For more information ensuring life stays as normal as possible for the people they care for – going the extra mile to make every day special for residents, with and to take a virtual tour of the home’s facilities, visit activities and experiences personalised to their unique needs and www.careuk.com/care-homes/deewater-grange-chester.

Helping you to keep in touch with tech

A telecommunications company in north Wales is helping older people to stay safe and independent in their own homes using wearable technology


t Asaph-based company Pinacl has developed a range of solutions to help people check on their loved ones from a distance using smart watches. The devices, worn by the older Pinacl’s Mark Lowe person and linked to their chosen contacts, monitor a range of indicators including body temperature, heart rate and sleep patterns, as well as tracking step count. Pinacl is now working with social care specialist Sensing247 to deliver its solutions and partnering with several local authorities to trial the products.

The wearable technology is supported by sensors in a home that collate a range of data including temperature and humidity, movement and power consumption. There is also a panic button sensor. “The combination of wearable and sensor technology has the potential to be a genuine game-changer for pre-emptive and outcome-based care,” says Pinacl’s business development director Mark Lowe. “We are seeing lots of enquiries from local authorities and social care providers faced with the challenges of looking after the elderly as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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Meet the ex p e r t Dr Sharon Wheeler is a senior lecturer in public health and wellbeing at Wrexham Glyndwr University What do you specialise in?

While I have taught a number of public health, mental health and wellbeing-related topics over the years, I would say I specialise in “people”: how people think and behave, what matters to people in life, how people depend on other people and social institutions, and the evolving nature of human beings and societies. Without understanding people, it would be difficult to work in public health. At the heart of this discipline is protecting and improving the health and wellbeing of individuals, communities and nations.

What’s required to get on your courses?

Dr Sharon Wheeler

Our new MSc health, mental health and wellbeing programme is designed for anyone inspired to promote happier and healthier lives and tackle social injustice. The programme is forward-thinking in its aims and scope, encouraging students to consider the public health challenges of today and tomorrow, and facilitating a creative and problem-solving approach in order to improve and reimagine ways of working. We also offer a BSc (Hons) in public health and wellbeing and a BSc (Hons) in mental health and wellbeing. Some students studying the MSc also did one of our short courses before applying: these range from introductory public health courses to fundamental and more advanced social prescribing ones. They attract people from a range of backgrounds with a diversity of interests.

What does the course entail?

The MSc programme comprises six modules that students can study on either a full-time or parttime basis – it’s designed maximum flexibility, to allow students to study alongside busy working and personal lives! Students can tailor the content to areas of interest or relevance to them, and choose if they want to learn in the classroom or online. There are two options modules, which also run as New approaches to public health

short courses. The first option module is “Strategies and innovations for developing health, mental health and wellbeing” and explores the evidence-base and practicalities, as well as encouraging students to think innovatively. The second is “Health, mental health and wellbeing in education settings”, which explores the health of young people in today’s society and considers the content, design “The course is and delivery of the health and wellbeing designed for aspect of the new Welsh curriculum. anyone inspired to promote What practical work do happier and students get involved with? healthier lives” The MSc programme includes work-based learning with many opportunities to develop and enhance practice, and we invite students to be involved in staff and wider university projects. This year, for example, we have two of our MSc students working with the wellbeing team at Glyndwr to support a student social prescribing project. They will be helping to boost the wellbeing of their fellow students through social prescribing - which matches students up to activities, groups and more which can boost their wellbeing – in a pilot scheme that could be a model for universities right across Wales.

What career opportunities can it lead to?

Students would be able to go on to, or advance, their careers in areas such as community health development, health-related research or education, the development of public health and mental health policy, the commissioning, delivery and evaluation of health services, the reduction of health inequalities, and social prescribing. Graduates may find work in any sector – public, private or charity – or even go on to develop their Studying people and communities own social enterprises.

Why should people choose Wrexham Glyndwr University?

I worked at three other universities around the UK before starting at WGU, and I couldn’t be prouder to be where I am now. I mentioned earlier my speciality in people, and I believe Glyndwr to have some of the best people I have ever worked with – both colleagues and students. It is a university that prizes widening access to people from a range of backgrounds and with a diversity in learning needs. Opening doors and social justice is something I very much believe in. January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 107

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Books&Poetry LIFE’S A BEACH FOR ALISTAIR Alistair Hare has visited, worked and lived by the seashore his whole life – and he has now written a book that details every single beach and cove around the coast of Wales That salty, seaweedy smell you get by the beach is the best smell in the world.”

“That salty, seaweedy smell you get by the beach is the best smell in the world”


listair Hare has lived most of his life in coastal locations in England and Wales. His passion for beaches has led him to seek out and explore every accessible shore in Wales, including some which are normally off-limits to the general public. He compiled his unique record of over 500 beaches over seven years spent exploring and taking photographs to help visitors find their perfect beach. As Alistair says: “It’s been a tough job, but someone had to do it! I’ve always lived by the sea and when I was young we always went down to the beach in the afternoon. I lived in Pembrokeshire and Cardiff, went to university in Swansea, lived in Weymouth, Dorset, and now I’m in Carmarthen – never far from the water.

Bay watch days

A keen surfer and distance swimmer, he has completed nine summers as a lifeguard on the beaches of Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire. “It wasn’t always that glamorous,” he says. “There were plenty of cold, rainy days spent in the hut watching a few people paddle but when it was sunny, the beaches were busy and you’d take a board out and paddle back and forth in the sun… that was a pretty good way to spend the afternoon.” Alistair first thought of turning his explorations into a book after he attended a course to learn how to make money on the internet. He started with a beach guide website, but since deciding to write a book he hasn’t looked back. “I just thought I’d do some beaches locally but then one beach led to the next and next thing you know I’d done them all,” he says. “I had to ask the MOD for access to some of them, and they were very helpful and took me on a tour, and the port authorities in Fishguard had to escort me to one there too. Other than that, it was just a question of travelling up

and down the country and scouring maps to see if there were any I’d missed.”

Splendid isolation

The Beaches Of Wales is the first ever guide to every beach and cove of the Welsh coastline, covering everything from Wales’s most popular beaches such as Porth Ceiriad on the Llyn Peninsula to isolated coves and remote sandy bays like Porth y Santes on Anglesey. Stunning photography features throughout, along with custom mapping and information such as parking and seasonal restrictions. Alistair does have a favourite beach – and it’s one not many of us will ever see. “It’s a little bay in Pembrokeshire that is 400m from the nearest accessible beach. You have to swim or paddle a board round to get to it, but once you’re there it has rocky outcrops and vast caves and it’s totally secluded. I’ve never seen another person on it.” You can order The Beaches Of Wales from www.v-publishing.co.uk for £14.40

LOC A L AU T H ORS Liverpool Kids Of WWII Part 1: After The Blitz by Bernard Fredericks The Liverpool Blitz is over and a seven-year-old boy who was evacuated comes home to face with changes to his life: new house, new districts, new faces… His trips into town bring the sight of blackened shells, once shops, now dark spaces between buildings, which had suffered direct hits. With his evacuation still fresh in his memory, he views his life ahead as a series of hurdles as the war continues. Bernard Fredericks, who lives in Prestatyn, explores the confusion that so many young children experienced in wartime in this book, which is out now. Day Return To Cocoa Yard by Mark Bickerton This anthology of 16 novellas and short stories charts the journeys of

underdogs, whether they are children, adults, murderers or tragic lovers. Mark Bickerton has been a writer on soap operas such as Coronation Street and Emmerdale, but has long yearned to return to his first love – prose. He has lived and worked in remote and often troubled parts of the globe, including Rwanda and the African Great Lakes, but now resides in Nantwich, Cheshire. Day Return To Cocoa Yard is his debut book. The Adventures Of Ruby The Cockapoo by Sue Tate Ethan and Lexi are five-yearold twins who get their first puppy at Christmas – Ruby, a playful eight-week-old cockapoo. Mum and Dad encourage the twins to take Ruby everywhere with them so they have fabulous

days out together. Ruby has lots of adventures in her first year with her family: she hides in the Christmas wrapping paper, is unsure how to talk to the billy goats, chases next door’s cat, licks strawberries in the fruit farms and travels by plane to meet new relatives in Africa. Retired office worker Sue Tate, who is based in Cheshire, enjoys her summers visiting different parts of the country in her motorhome with her husband and Ruby, her own cockapoo. This is Sue’s first toe dip into writing and she has thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Local authors… we want to hear from you!! Please get in touch if you’re a local person whose written a book or you’ve written a book about a local person or place! Contact editorial@shiremagazine.co.uk.

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Our friends from Linghams Bookshop in Heswall, Wirral, recommend a couple of great titles for younger readers Rhyme Crime by John Burgerman Like many parents, we love rhyming books for children and this is no exception! “Once upon a time, a thief committed a crime. Everything he stole was replaced with a rhyme”! There are lots of wonderfully silly rhymes in a perfect interactive story that will leave the kids and you in fits of giggles… and can you solve the mystery? Love From Lexie by Cathy Cassidy This is a heartwarming and emotional tale for teens or young adults. If someone is missing, where do they go? When Lexie’s mum mysteriously disappears, Lexie is taken into care and she tries to find her mum. She decides to create a group for “the lost” at her local library – but unfortunately someone gets the wrong end of the stick! Can music, friendship, letters and festivals help to save a place and find a person that she loves? You just won’t be able to put this brilliant book down! Beginnings by Margaret Siddall Let today be a new beginning The first day of the rest of my life. I’ll be calm and optimistic And change how I deal with strife. No longer get stressed and panic But take everything in my stride. Not let people and things wind me up And conduct myself with pride. Be assertive, but not aggressive Say what I mean and mean what I say. Focus on the future And forget about yesterday. I have to begin somewhere So here’s to a brand new start. Things will be different from now on From the mind and from the heart. Dog by Norman Marshall The dog is quite a friend, Someone you can always depend,

Wide-eyed and wagging tail, Such behaviour will never fail. My dog is like the church: Here, there and everywhere; When needed not around, Useless as a secular prayer. He is more a companion Than the disdainful cat But the wandering canine Can lead one into many a trap. There, on carpet, in home Where do his thoughts roam? Far up into Eurasian wood Before joining camp for good. Southward he came And there to reign Over man and his herd, Responding only to gentle word. Yet that silken skin Hides both fang and claw But, for now, there resides Domestication in upheld paw.

Now and beyond. The anguish is returning Repetitive advice in our ears. Some rebellion. Autumn soon to become winter. Changing colours. The beauty is there Different but constant. Hope is hidden but will emerge. Be patient. It will slow down and then we can Jump off! The Year That Was by Jo Young 2020 is a strange year Collectively we have shed many a tear As the world has been faced with Covid-19 Too many people have lost their lives – from our elders to our teens. For many, death rates have been too high And sadly, with limited people at funerals we have had to say goodbye.

Grey World by Marg and Steve Henson When, oh when did the world turn grey? It seems like only yesterday That decor was red and blue and white, A bright and colourful delight.

All of a sudden we have had to learn new ways and new vocab From “furlough” to “social distancing” it was difficult to keep tabs As the virus spread, so did the enormity of lockdown law Panic buying, limited travel, queuing and no takeaways – it has been a bore.

It is with sadness that I note Grey used to be an undercoat. It grieves me much, but I must say That everywhere you look it’s grey.

Our social and family networks were gone over night We all felt the loss of not seeing our loved ones – it was tight. As always stepping forward were our key workers Keeping everyone safe – they were not and have never been shirkers.

Furniture, bedding, cushions, floors, Fences, window-frames and doors, From palest dove to almost black. Please let us bring some colour back!

The volunteers who looked after our elderly neighbours knew no bounds For them, collecting vital medicines and shopping – they were sound.

They’ve even ruined Downing Street What idiot thought that would be neat? As you gaze upon that scene The brickwork now defiled has been.

This year we have all experienced the rollercoaster of emotions Whilst we all wait for a cure – the real potion! New technology most of us have had to embrace With new hobbies undertaken, DIY mostly done and new recipes we have had to taste!

The question now must be pursued, Does it reflect the nation’s mood? Earlier in this Covid year NHS rainbows did appear. Red and yellow and pink and green And all the colours in between. Redecorate now, everyone, And paint it bright for twenty-one. Here We Go Again by Helen Sweet The Merry-Go-Round is gathering speed, Fuzzy pictures moving past, Feel the exhilaration. Stay on, take control. There is no choice Be responsible, be loyal, be proud For our nation,

Who knows what the New Year will bring But collectively we have to sing Of what we have learnt Of the relationships rediscovered, communities united together – and not the dishes we burnt! Together we must remain united We are British and not ones to be blighted!!!

We want your poems! We’ll print our favourites each edition and share your creative spirit with our readers. Send them to Poetry Page, Shire, PO Box 276, Oswestry, Shropshire SY10 1FR or email editorial@shiremagazine.co.uk.

January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 109

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Subscribe to Shire magazine, and never miss an issue again!

Imagine having every copy of Shire magazine delivered to your door as soon as it’s printed. You’ll never worry again about missing an issue! Shire magazine is essential local reading, packed with great features and the best What’s On guide to our area.

! W E N

You can now set up a new subscription on the Shire website!

Just go to www.shiremagazine.co.uk and click “Subscribe to Shire”” at the top of the page Or simply fill in the order form below, choose how many issues you’d like to receive, and send with your cheque to:

12-month subscription

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£19.95 (6 issues)

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Shire Magazine Subscriptions, PO Box 276, Oswestry SY10 1FR Mr/Mrs/Miss First name: Surname: Address:

Choose which deal you’d like: 12-month subscription (6 issues) – £19.95 24-month subscription (12 issues) – £34.95 You can pay the full amount by cheque or cash. I enclose a cheque / cash amount for £__________ payable to Shire Magazine for which I will receive the next _______ issues of Shire magazine posted to the address provided (UK only)

Postcode: Tel number: Starting with which issue? This issue (JAN/FEB) or the next issue (MAR/APR)? Email:



Post this form with your cheque to: Shire Magazine Subscriptions, PO Box 276, Oswestry SY10 1FR If you have any queries, just call 01691 661270 and our friendly staff will help!

110 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2021

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hank you once again to all the readers who have been keeping in touch with us here at Shire. It means more than ever that you’re still reading, supporting and writing to us in the middle of these trying times. We’ve printed a few of our favourites here but please do keep them coming – we love hearing your thoughts and opinions, as well as the news you want to share. As always, please include a picture when you can and send your correspondence to us at editorial@shiremagazine.co.uk.

If you have missed an edition of Shire because you’ve been unable to get out and about recently, we have a supply of previous issues we’re happy to send out. Just send an A4 SAE for £1.83 to Shire Magazine, PO Box 276, Oswestry, Shropshire SY10 1FR, letting us know which issue you’d like to receive. An even safer bet to make sure you never miss an issue again is to subscribe to the magazine! See page 110 for details on how to do this. Keep writing, keep emailing, keep reading and, most of all, keep safe and well.

High Hollywood hopes

Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney

How exciting to see that actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have made such an incredible investment by taking over Wrexham FC. As a lifelong fan of the club, I can only hope this means we’ll see an injection of cash turning our fortunes around! I admit I was sceptical at first, but they both seem to be doing the right thing by the club and its supporters so far, and if press reports are to be believed they plan to stay involved for the long term. I do wonder if this means our friendly, community club will become a haunt for the rich and famous, or starstruck movie fans hoping for a glimpse of their idols… and not those on the pitch who the rest of us will be shouting for. I hope the club will use the investment wisely, and not let it change the club that has been part of my life since childhood. Roger Sandiford, Wrexham

Well done to all I wanted to express my appreciation to everyone involved in the Drive-in Home For Christmas events at the end of last year. I saw there was a showing of a Christmas film at Prenton Park, Wirral and booked to take the children. There were so few options available to us to celebrate the season, so we thought we’d go along even if it was a bit of a waste of time. Well I can say categorically it was a brilliant evening! It was well organised, and every member of staff was friendly and polite. We were happy to pay knowing it was raising money for the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, and every representative of the charity took the time to thank us for coming. When events are being cancelled left, right and centre, they managed to think of something safe, simple and fun for families at the same time as raising money for charity. Bravo. Joanna Rushforth, Wirral

READER F E E D B AC K Well done on doing such a brilliant job getting a consistently great quality magazine out there during uncertain times. It really is impressive. Eluned Thank you for responding to my query about where to buy Shire. I like the real deal to read rather than the online version and it’s absolutely the best – just fabulous. Thank you! Anonymous I just wanted to say how much I’ve been enjoying the magazine lately. I am shielding until I get the Covid vaccine so having something lovely to read while I’m stuck inside has been a godsend. Thank you so much. Fran Samson Great mag – keep up the good work and stay safe, everyone at Shire! William Arnold

Finding a family farm

Find me a mag!

Just under 100 years ago, in September 1928, there was a farm sale of Meadleys Farm on Lord Dartmouth’s estate in Pattingham, Shropshire The sale made £16,000 and among the lots were 10 horses; additional standing crops made a further £400. In 2018, Do you know who bought the farm? an estate agency prospectus from Knight Frank showed the whole estate was on the market and the Meadleys was one of a number being sold – this time for £32 million! I’m hoping one of your readers will know if the property was sold and for how much. My interest is that Elizabeth, my great aunt’s parents and brothers held the tenancy of the Meadleys between 1851 and 1928. Elizabeth was primarily responsible from 1917 while her brother was serving in the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. I have just published a book, Straws In The Wind, which is based on Elizabeth’s reminiscences. It is available from me for £10 in aid of Shropshire Rural Communities Charities, a cause that would have been close to her heart. I would be delighted to hear from anyone who knows more about the estate and its past. Caroline Sapsed, carolsapsed@gmail.com

I think your magazine is great but I only found out about it when relatives in Wirral passed me a copy. I live in Sandbach and have never seen Shire locally, perhaps because in Sandbach we only have a Waitrose and an Aldi. I’ve not seen it in Middlewich either. It’s a pity because I feel sure people in this part of Cheshire would love it! Sandbach is quite a bustling little town and there must be local businesses that would like to advertise. Anyway, keep up the good work! It must be a real struggle with so many events being cancelled and businesses on their knees. Well done! Angela Vokes Thank you for getting in touch, Angela. The magazine is sold in Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury and Tesco, but copies do get picked up fast! Why not think about taking out a subscription so you don’t miss out? See page 110 for details. January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 111

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What’s in your stars? Aries

20th March – 20th April The beginning of a new year shouldn’t make much difference to you as your life seems to consist of new beginnings! The difference now is the uncertainty facing you within certain groups you’re affiliated to. The best that can be said is that for every obstacle facing you there’s an opportunity to counterbalance it, leaving the scales fairly evened out.


21st June – 23rd July Everyone hopes for a happy new year better than the last, so wishful thinking begins on the first day of January. In the first week, Mercury in Capricorn cautions you not to skate on thin ice with feelings that a difference of opinion could unleash. It’s cold outside, so why not express your inner warmth and keep the home fires burning!


23rd September – 22nd October Your ruling planet Venus joins Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius during January and February, offering the potential of a different perspective and progressive approach to your usual methodology. Creative revolution of thought could lead to unexpected opportunities – it all depends on decision making, which isn’t your strong point. Please be decisive for once.


21st December – 20th January In classical mythology the constellation of Capricorn is linked to Pan, who jumped in terror into the Nile during the war of the Titans. Thus were formed the words panic, pandemonium and even pandemic. This year holds nothing to fear except failure – something you dread. But for every failure, there’s a success – look at feats accomplished for a change.


20th April – 21st May You have more energy at the start of this year than expected. The old has been wrung out and the new is ringing in! No, I haven’t misspelt it – you’ve had energy drain for a while, but 2021 is about learning from past experiences so you handle repetition without being overwhelmed. Have the courage to act instead of react.


23rd July – 23rd August This year, prepare to be met with some indifference, which isn’t suited to your personality. You like to be recognised, so there’s a test in store. Confucius once said: “It is not failure of others to appreciate your abilities that should trouble you, but rather your failure to appreciate theirs.” You now have the answer to pass the test!


23rd October – 22nd November Astrological Saturn represents the teacher or the taskmaster – work is regarded as a virtuous occupation, whether within a career, relationship or selfimprovement. You’re often accused of being inaccessible, but it’s more a case of having proof that something or someone is worth the effort. A little tolerance is the work most required to meet present challenges.


20th January – 19th February Recording lunar phases has been revealed on animal bones dating back to the Stone Age. Calculations are now computerised through trajectory – these tell me a February Aquarian new moon focuses on friendships and their significance in your life. Value those who find time for you on their calendar but cherish those who don’t refer to calendars!


21st May – 21st June You’re the sign of the twins – which one will you adopt this year? The introvert or the extrovert? May I suggest the latter to capitalise on one of your best assets – self-promotion. It’s you who in that act attracts others, who with their skills help you to be best at what you do. Quid pro quo, I’d say!


23rd August – 23rd September Einstein discovered that clocks in motion slow down and that the faster a clock moves, the slower it registers time – a metaphor for you running around in ever-decreasing circles! Something has been winding you up or is it that you’ve just taken on too much? Look forward to 27th February’s full moon in Virgo, which puts an end to this trend.


22nd November – 21st December You’re restless and idealistic and wondering what’s in store this year, but concentrating on the immediate future concerns a review of finances. The state of those now is very much a sign of where they’ll stay, so juggling skills are necessary. You are part of a current collective dilemma, so all you can really do is go with the flow!


19th February – 20th March It’s the season of snowdrops, and the meaning of this little flower addresses the power of overcoming issues and seeing light at the end of the tunnel. This you need to do because your worry chip has been overactive recently. The snowdrop bends under the weight of snow but springs gallantly up again expressing hope – so too can you.

Gloria Mans studied astrology and astronomy over an intensive two-year period at the Faculty of Astrological Studies in London 27 years ago. She has since written for many publications, appeared numerous times on television and has an impressive client list. The legendary Fay Weldon calls her “magic” and BBC icon Valerie Singleton calls her “sensitive”. You can reach her at starglow@pc-q.net or via her website, www.gloriamans.com. 112 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2021

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Another edition of Shire, another chance to win some fabulous prizes. Good luck!

You have to be in it to win it. Go on, enter today!

The prizes from last issues were so terrific we’re giving everyone another chance to enter. Those who have already entered will still be in the draw to win…

A TASTE OF LUXURY Win a virtual wine-tasting!

ANIMAL ATTRACTION Win a day at a safari park!

CLOSING DATE: 20th February

CLOSING DATE: 29th January

We’ve teamed up with Unique Wine Safaris, which runs winetasting events and trips, to offer one lucky reader the chance to enjoy some fine wines and expert advice in a virtual drinking experience. Our main winner – plus up to eight friends – will share three bottles of wine, while virtual tasting notes and expertise are given over a live Zoom session. The package, worth £45 per person, includes wine, tasting notes and an interactive virtual wine tasting. Two runners-up will receive a bottle of wine from the collection.

West Midland Safari Park in Kidderminster is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and endangered species, including southern white rhinos, giraffes, zebras, Ankole cattle, waterbuck, Congo buffalo, antelopes, tigers, cheetahs, African painted dogs and African lions. Not forgetting, of course, the fantastic African elephants. We have a family ticket up for grabs, valid until 14th February 2021, which covers entry to the park although rides must be paid for. The winner doesn’t even need to book in advance.


Congratulations to our lucky winner from the November/December issue of Shire, who won a hamper of goodies from the Shropshire Hamper Company


Win a day at GreenWood Park!

Escape to the Welsh countryside, where GreenWood Family Park in Y Felinheli is waiting for you. From the thrills of the people-powered rollercoaster and Solar Splash water slide to the enchanting Tree Top Towers and Tunnel Warren, you’ll find activities for the whole family here. We have a family day pass for one lucky winner, giving entry to the park for two adults and up to three children, plus a £30 gift voucher to spend at the park. The prize is worth over £100 in total. Carole from Colwyn Bay

CLOSING DATE: 20th February

HOW TO ENTER Fill in the form with your answer circled (you’ll need to read the magazine to find it!) and include your name, address, email and daytime contact number. Send it by the closing date to Competitions, Shire magazine, PO Box 276, Oswestry, Shropshire SY10 1FR

RULES OF THE COMPETITIONS The promoter of these competitions is Shire magazine, Superstar Publishing, PO Box 276, Oswestry, Shropshire SY10 1FR. The competitions are open to all readers of our magazine and viewers of our websites except employees of the prize providers. The winner(s) will be the first person or persons drawn after the closing date who has completed the correct answer. No cash alternative is available. The winners’ names can be obtained by writing to the competition address with a self-addressed envelope after the closing date. The winner agrees to participate in any follow-up publicity and must provide a photograph to be published in the following issue to claim their prize. Superstar Publishing may print the name only of entrants to this competition in subsequent issue(s) of Shire magazine. This is to enable competition entrants to fairly claim a promotional offer, for competition entrants only. By entering this competition you are giving permission for Shire magazine to print your name only. No personal information will be printed. No purchase necessary, answers on a postcard are accepted. For full details of our Privacy Policy, please go to www.shiremagazine.co.uk. DATA PROTECTION NOTICE Superstar Publishing Ltd will use your information for administration and analysis purposes and may contact you from time to time with relevant offers, information or for research purposes. Your details will not be passed on to third parties except the sponsors of these competitions. Please tick the relevant box if you wish to be contacted.

Q: How many Oscars has Lionel Richie won?

Name Address

a) One b) Two c) Four


Postcode Daytime contact number Email (please complete) Please send me further information about Shire January/February 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 113

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COMING NEXT ISSUE By the time you get hold of our next issue, we’ll all have a bit more spring in our steps! The days will be getting longer and lighter and our outdoor spaces will be bursting into life, so at Shire we’ll be putting together a positively blooming edition! Our March/April issue will give you all the information and advice you need to make the most of the season.



C H O C -A - B LO C K W I T H E V E N T S

With Easter upon us once more, we’ll be busy putting together everything you need to know for the double bank holiday weekend. Whether you’re looking for something to do with the kids, hoping for an egg hunt near you, searching for a dinner suggestion or checking out the best recipes for the season’s produce – don’t miss the bumper Easter edition of Shire.

Get ready to grow It’s time for signs of life to start appearing in our gardens, as well as in the magnificent public and open spaces across the region. We’ll pick some of our favourites sites for you to visit and will be on hand with hints and tips for your own horticultural projects.

SPRING BREAK Once the clocks go forward, our thoughts inevitably start to turn to the summer months ahead. We round up the region’s best caravan parks and holiday homes, and suggest some local tourist attractions you may have missed…

Put your heart into your home

Protecting the planet Our regular environmental section focuses on ways we can all do our bit for the planet. Whether it’s rethinking our transport, looking at how we heat our homes or remembering to recycle – we’ll help you think green.

CREATIVE AND KIND We talk to an Shropshire artist who has been exhibiting her paintings around the world for 20 years. She tells us about her latest show at the prestigious Royal Academy of Art in London, which raised vital funds for charity.

GETTING IT WRITE As well as our usual poetry, reviews and book events, we catch up with a Telford-based author who managed to complete and publish her first novel in the middle of a global pandemic! The gripping tale takes its main character into a dark and deadly nightmare… YO U R T OW N

As always, the next edition of Shire will focus on a couple of prime locations within the patch. Which towns we decide to visit will be announced in the new year!

CNI JanFeb 2021 FINAL.indd 1

We have delicious recipes to share, tasty wines to recommend and amazing local producers to shout about to make sure you’ve got everything you need for a delicious Easter Sunday dinner.

Are you planning some simple spring cleaning, looking for a whole new look, eyeing up some interior design or planning a dramatic remodel? We have everything you need to get started on your project in our homes and interiors section. D O N ’ T F O R G E T…

…to check out our What’s On guide for March and April. With the school break and a double dose of bank holidays, you’ll want to keep the next edition of Shire – with its essential guide to all the events and activities going on across the region – close to hand.

GET IN TOUCH Shire wants to hear from you!

1. Tell us about your upcoming events We work in advance, so 1st February is the deadline to let us know about events for our March/April issue. 2. Share your reader stories Have you got an extraordinary or exciting story to tell? We would love to share it with our readers. Send us an email and don’t forget to include a picture or two! 3. Contribute to one of our pages Send all your submissions and pictures by email to editorial@shiremagazine.co.uk or call 01691 661270. You can also get in touch via social media – just search for ‘Shire Magazine’ on Facebook or Instagram.

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Profile for Superstar Publishing

Shire Magazine January-February 2021  

North Wales, Mid Wales, Shropshire, Cheshire, Wirral, Whats on, magazine, days out, events, restaurants, reviews, homes, gardens, arts, craf...

Shire Magazine January-February 2021  

North Wales, Mid Wales, Shropshire, Cheshire, Wirral, Whats on, magazine, days out, events, restaurants, reviews, homes, gardens, arts, craf...