Shire Magazine January-February 2022

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How we can all make a difference in 2022












Wake up to 2022 Give your home a bright start to the new year Tying the knot? No-stress plans for your big day with our wedding guide Taste of Italy Start the year the Italian way with our chef’s easy dessert Straight from Strictly Dancefloor favourites Anton and Erin whisk us off on tour

Shire talks to local businesses about a better year ahead

Love living local? Join Shire as we explore two favourite locations: Bangor Oswestry HEALTH & BEAUTY | MINDFULNESS | PET PHOTOS | SHOPPING | BOOKS & POETRY MM Cover JanFeb 2022FINAL.indd 1

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Publisher Dan Bromage Editor Kate Speedie Chief Subeditor Wendy Reed Staff Writers Juliet Davies Helen Gordon Lynda Kenny Sarah Waterfall Designers Ella Knight Meryl McIntosh Advertising Design Sarah Norman Sales & Marketing Pauline Jones Distribution Manager Paul Howard Finance & Accounts David Kynaston Nicky Kynaston Jane Osman Contributors John Hargreaves, Gloria Mans, P Parker, Helen Cooke, Lizzie Deery, Deborah Law, Jennifer McKinney, Bob Hickman, Lisa Whelan, Adam Gaunt-Evans, Eryl Jones, Holly Johnson, Adele Barry, Catherine Buckley


elcome to the first issue of Shire for 2022! We’d like to wish all our readers and advertisers a very Happy New Year and hope everyone enjoys a healthy, peaceful and positive year ahead. We had hoped by now to be celebrating the return to ‘normal life’, and it looks like that will arrive very soon. One thing is certain: whatever the coming months throw at us, Shire is here to keep you entertained and informed. In this issue we’re reflecting on important events at the tail end of 2021, when climate change, global summits and the environment were top of the agenda. We’ve put together an in-depth piece that should help explain not only what it all means and how the climate crisis can affect us in this region, but also how we can all do our bit to help. As you’ll see, it’s far from doom and gloom – we’ve found plenty of projects locally that highlight a really positive outlook for our planet. Our other longer read in this issue meets local businesses to find out what impact Covid has had on them. Many have adapted and thrived in the face of adversity, others have been forced to put plans on hold or scale down operations, and some have struggled to survive. But with true Shire spirit they’ve battled on, embracing the local community in difficult times. Now it’s our turn to champion them. As always, our pages are also packed with homes and interiors, fashion and style, foodie favourites and all the arts, animals, books, schools, health and beauty sections you know and love. Enjoy! IN THIS ISSUE

Email Shire magazine

AFTER GLASGOW… What the COP26 climate talks mean for us all – and how you can help

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

LOCKDOWN LEGENDS The local businesses who pulled out all the stops page 48 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 © 2022 Superstar Publishing Ltd, all rights reserved. Registered Number: 10604188.


A FRESH START Get your coat, grab the kids, we’re heading out for some adventures around our glorious region!

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 124 for more.

Share your reader stories. Have you got an exciting or extraordinary 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:

Reader photos Taken a great shot recently? Email your best effort and you might get picked! See page 100.

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 our readers during this difficult time, if you’re having trouble getting to the supermarket and would prefer your copy delivered to you at home, just send us an A4 sae with £2 postage to Shire Magazine, PO Box 276, Oswestry, Shropshire SY10 1FR. We’ll send you the latest issue by return.

with their name and anything else you want to tell us. See page 89 for further details. 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 and send submissions and information by email to

TURN TO PAGE 40 for our fantastic subscription offer

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We are pleased to announce…



Shire magazine’s brand new What’s On app

FREE TO USE FOR EVERYONE! No need to download from the Apple App Store or Google Play

Imagine having Shire’s What’s On guide in your pocket!

We wanted to make our What’s On pages accessible to all – not just in print but also on phones, tablets and laptops! All events in our What’s On section are available to browse, like and share with friends. • • • •

previews and pictures for all events listed by date, by area and event type links to buy tickets you can save events as Favourites

You can also: • share your reviews of events • submit events to be added Y

















S e ing 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

Reasons to go rural


There’s no better time to enjoy life in the countryside

It’s a dog’s life

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

The ultimate guide to getting a canine companion

From medic to maker One woman’s creative career change Nice ’n’ spicy Try our easy recipe for a tasty winter warmer

Home sweet home

Make sure your pad is perfect, inside and out

Have a little Faith 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

IN T ER IOR S | FOOD | A RT & PH OTOG R A PH Y | FASH ION | LOCA L AUT H OR S 21/12/2020 10:27

Pets that alpaca punch Unusual animals and their adorable antics Ready for a break Have a holiday in mind to leave lockdown behind On song Meet the Fron male voice choir Get into the gardens As National Trust properties open their gates


Ready to go

Olly Murs is talking tours with Shire




Festive feasting Delicious recipes from the region’s top chefs to try at home

Going solo

Shire talks to Cheshire’s own Gary Barlow about his new album


Plan your escape Looking ahead to holiday options for 2021 Get your garden ready to grow Prepare now for spring success

A delicious Shropshire Hamper for Christmas Turn to page 121


23/10/2020 10:59


Make your home cosy for winter


lve Live, laugh,

The secrets to a happy long-term relationship

WIN Big cheeses Four top chefs share their dairy delights Short breaks Our top picks for an autumn escape New school rules Getting education back on track

Castles and coastlines at Conwy Beautiful border town Welshpool


E? N


Our guide to buying, selling and the stamp duty holiday

The perfect pad Make your home a happy haven this winter





On the


E? N


Find Christmas gifts they’ll love from our local shops




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Prestatyn – a perfect seaside spot Telford – the town with a bright future



Shop in

WIN a makeover and shopping spree with Olivia May worth £1,000 Turn to page 113


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Share this fab new app with your friends! Just go to the top left and tap “Share this app”



OR Go online to and it will take you straight to the app



Cover JanFeb 2021 FINAL.indd 1

Just scan the QR code with your camera, and follow the instruction to ‘Add to Home Screen’








Scan the QR code (top right) now with your phone to get the app!

A day at West Midland Safari Park, a home wine tasting event and a trip to GreenWood Family Park! Turn to page 121


We take a closer look at…



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Contents JA N UA RY/ F E B R UA RY 2 02 2

PAG E 9 2

6 What’s On Our listings cover all the events, shows and activities you might like to see and do at the start of 2022. Covid restrictions apply in some places and may yet change again, so please check with the venue or organiser before you go!

PAG E 4 8

Garden shoping

Better times ahead

14 Bangor The oldest city in Wales is bang up to date, with a bustling centre, lively student scene and state-of-the-art leisure facilities 27 20 Questions In the Shire hot seat this time is Zoe Ellis, of Palm Cocktail Bar & Eatery in Chester – and Curve festival fame 36 Oswestry Our second visit of the issue is a Shropshire favourite – a fascinating ancient meeting spot, now thriving modern town

PAG E 6 What’s On in North Wales

PAG E 1 0 6

38 Reviews The Shire team bring you the best of the season’s shows and pantomimes

Men’s fashion

41 Anton and Erin We recovered from the angst and awe of the Strictly final just in time to catch up with our celebrity interviewees as they head out on tour PAG E 8 9

Climate solutions

Your pets PAG E 1 0 7 Women’s fashion


PAG E 4 1 Celebrity chat

Weddings PAG E 1 0 2

PAG E 7 3 Home shopping

COVER FEATURE 42 Climate crisis With the Glasgow summit still fresh in everyone’s minds, we’ve compiled a Shire special dossier to explain the issues facing our planet – and what each one of us can do to prevent disaster COVER FEATURE 48 Covid recovery The last two years have been tough on us all and local businesses are no exception. We meet the resilient employers in the Shire patch to see how they’re faring now

PAG E 8 0

87 Active Try archery as a stress-buster with a difference 88 Pets & Wildlife It’s all about the birds this month – and your pet pictures too! 92 Snack time! Gorgeous garden feeders 94 Health Veganuary is here again – and it’s better for you than you may think 95 Plants & Gardens Follow us to Horatio’s Garden at the RJAH, Oswestry to see why Alan Titchmarsh wants your support. Plus winter jobs and planning ahead for spring 98 Arts & Crafts We’ve dragons, gorillas and a whole aviary of your bird photos from our last competition

40 Subscribe to Shire!

PAG E 4 2

80 Holidays With travel likely to be limited again this year, we have plenty of ideas for breaks closer to home – including a glamping wagon on the famous Gingerbread Line!

56 Homes & Interiors New year, new looks… Take inspiration from a stunning kitchen installation, Mid-Century simplicity and a smart way to conceal that giant screen 72 Green Living Join us down on the farm at Rhug and Oteley, where two different schemes are tackling the eco challenge

102 Weddings It’s not called The Big Day for nothing… With so much to think about, let Shire help with a guide to local specialists 106 Get fit, get active Sportswear for the lads 107 Wrap up warm Look stylish in the coldest snap 109 Top of the class Celebrating the achivements of schools, colleges and talented youngsters around our region – and an appearance from the Wimpy Kid himself! 120 Business & Finance Tax news and investment advice 122 Retirement Living Hope for weary farmers – and pensions demystified 123 Charities & Volunteering Good news from good causes 124 Books & Poetry New books from local authors, and poems from readers… what a talented spot we live in! 126 What’s in Your Stars? Forecast by Gloria Mans

73 Everything in its place Storage solutions for every room 74 Food & Drink Make a dreamy Italian dessert, meet Snowdonia’s first family of ice-cream and raise a glass to our new wine columnist

127 Letters to the Editor Send us your thoughts and news – we love hearing from you 128 Puzzles Keep that brain busy! 129 Over the Farm Gate Eryl Jones spurns caviar for dirty spuds and British beef

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Grit and glamour at Venue Cymru Banff Mountain Film Festival, 4th February Mind-blowing cinematography as explorers push themselves to the limit in the most remote corners of the globe. 7.30pm. Tickets £17.

Fascinating Aida, 9th February The hilarious, always topical trio are back with old favourites, songs you haven’t heard before and some you wish you’d never heard! 7.30 pm. Tickets £28.

Burn the Floor, 15th February. Strictly’s Kevin Clifton stars in this fiery mix of live music and ground-breaking moves. 7.30pm. Tickets from £28. RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Tour, 16th February Llandudno, prepare yourselves! Join Tayce, Bimini Bon Boulash, Ellie Diamond and Laurence Chaney for an evening of eleganza! 8pm. From £38.

Mini literature fest Pull up a chair and indulge in a day of stimulating and entertaining conversation at Hearth 2022 in Gladstone’s Library, Hawarden on 5th February. Improve your writing, discover how to publish your novel, get hints and tips and find inspiration at this micro-fest. Gladfest’s younger sibling aims to distil the best of festival life – book chat, comfy seating, tea and cake, and a good glass of wine – into a single day, with

opportunities to talk and create with four authors. Sample what to expect by listening to recordings from past festivals via

Winter at Galeri Caernarfon

Noson yng Nghwmni Gruffydd Wyn, 15th January A bilingual musical evening showcasing Britain’s Got Talent star Wyn, a classical crossover artist from Amlwch. 7.30pm.Tickets £18. Met Opera Live: Rigoletto, 29th January Enjoy this satellite screening, a bold new take on Verdi’s timeless tragedy that resets the opera’s

action in 1920s Europe. 5.55pm. Tickets from £12.

George Egg: Movable Feast, 11th February A comedyand-cooking show from the award-winning stand-up. 7.30pm.Tickets from £10. NT Live: The Book of Dust – La Belle Sauvage, 17th February. Set 12 years before the His Dark Materials trilogy, this gripping adaptation revisits Philip Pullman’s fantastical world. Live from London’s Bridge Theatre. 7pm. Tickets from £8.


In February, Wrexham will have some stunning displays of snowdrops – a sure sign that spring is on the way! Enjoy them on a walk around Chirk Castle’s Pleasure Ground Wood, which will boast a carpet of delicate flowers. And at Erddig, look out for the estate’s own special snowdrop, a double-headed variety and a rare and beautiful treat. Snowdrops will bloom on the elevated west front of the house, with sweeping views of the grounds as a backdrop. Details at

Sew so good!

Try a new hobby or re-acquaint with an old one at Abakhan in Mostyn on 29th January. Their Introduction to the Sewing Machine workshop covers basics from how to thread the machine to stitching curved lines. Whether you’re new to sewing or coming back to it, it’ll boost your confidence and you’ll go home with a drawstring bag and examples. There are also workshops for more advanced machinists, see

Wildlife watcher Enjoy An Evening with Iolo Williams at the Village Hotel, Ewloe on 17th February. Iolo is one of the UK’s best-loved nature and wildlife presenters, and has fronted countless TV shows including the BBC’s Watches. A committed conservationist and nature writer, he is also a very proud Welshman! Find out more about the man and his passions at this event, which includes a charity auction for the North Wales Wildlife Trust. Tickets via

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The team at Plas y Brenin, based in Capel Curig just live for Snowdonia in winter! Throughout January and February they offer lots of courses from beginner level to hard-core hiking. Winter Skills (two days) covers equipment, basic navigation and mountain safety; Winter Mountaineering offers five days of practical learning to build

confidence in walking and scrambling at this time of year, and Winter Scrambles is for those whose mountaineering skills are already pretty solid. Their Winter Welsh 15 Peaks Challenge is a true test of fitness over five days. See

Hats off to Mold

Racing into New Year

2022 will get off to a racing start at Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse with the New Year Meeting on 13th January, with some of Britain’s top jockeys in attendance. The Winter Meeting on 11th February offers a thrilling afternoon at the only jump racecourse in North Wales. See

DID YOU KNOW? The temperature fell to -22.7° in Corwen in 1981 – a record for North Wales

Have a go at making your own fascinator for a special occasion on 28th January at Cambria Costume House in Mold. Peaky Blinders more your style? Take along your own choice of fabric on 22nd January and fashion yourself an eight-panel cap or perhaps an ear-hugging trapper. See www.

Extreme gardening The Hardy Plant Society Clwyd is presenting two talks at Stamford Gate Hotel in Holywell. On 18th January join Tim Lever for ‘In Sight of Snowdonia’: an adventurous trek through North Wales in search of native alpine flora, with photos of rare plants growing in their natural habitat. On 15th February in ‘What on Earth is That in My Garden?’, Richard Lewis takes a fresh look at the pests and diseases affecting garden plants and debates methods of control. See

NEW BEGINNINGS IN ANGLESEY Canolfan Ucheldre Centre in Holyhead has regular activities throughout winter. Why not try Adult Art Workshops on Monday mornings or Saturday Art Club for the kids? Gardening on Thursdays welcomes beginners as well as seasoned growers. There are voice workshops for all levels and opera, ballet and theatre screenings. See www.

Running in Wrexham

8th January, George Michael Tribute with Dinner & Disco, Beaufort Park Hotel, Mold For those who couldn’t squeeze another party into December, why not meet up for this fantastic tribute? Enjoy a three-course meal, then bop till you drop! 7.30pm–midnight. Tickets £35.

8th & 15th January, Beach Clean, Rhyl Promenade and Porth Trecastell, Anglesey Kick-start your New Year by doing something positive for wildlife. Bring your own gloves and litter pickers. See www.

11th January, New Year ramble, Anglesey Meet at Bryn Aber car park to explore the coastal path towards Carmel Head. 11am–2pm. £2. Book via www.

14th January, Broken Witt Rebels, Tivoli, Buckley Modern Nashville meets cutting-edge pop. Playing tracks from their upcoming studio album, OK Hotel. 7pm. £12.

20th January, Kingfishers – and much, much more! An online talk introducing the wonders of Spinnies Aberogwen Nature Reserve. 7-8pm. Free. Book via www.

Blow away those winter blues by running the Village Bakery Half-Marathon in Wrexham on 20th February, renowned as one of the friendliest, flattest and fastest halfs in the region. It is a well-marshalled course with plenty of support and drink stations, and all finishers receive a bespoke medal as well as tasty baked treats courtesy of The Village Bakery! Entry costs from £23. For more information visit

20th – 23rd January, Snow White, Criccieth Memorial Hall. All the song and dance, laughs and ‘behind yous!’ you could wish for! 2.30pm & 7.30pm. Adult £8, child £6, family £26 via

20th-23rd January, Bastion 2022 meet-up, YHA Conwy Enjoy collectible card and role playing games, meet other gamers and make new friends. For details see

21st January, RSPB talk, St David’s Church Hall, Penrhyn Bay The Wildlife of Trinidad & Tobago. 2pm. £2.50. ww2.

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21st January, Secrets of Gwydyr Forest, North Wales Wildlife Trust Online talk about the history of mining and forestry around Betws y Coed, highlighting the rare species that now grow on abandoned spoils. 7pm. £2. Book via www.

From 21st January, Arts Together, St David’s Building, Mold Creative, fun sessions in a safe environment for those living with dementia and early onset memory loss. Crafts, music, drama and singing. Fridays 10.45am-12.30pm. Free.

22nd January, Mind, Body & Spirit Festival, the Wild Pheasant Hotel & Spa, Llangollen Lose the postChristmas blues on a relaxing day enjoying retail therapy and free workshops. Why not book a treatment at the Spa? 10am-4.30pm. Free entry. www.everbrightgrouphotels. com/wildpheasanthotel

27th-30th January, Breakthrough to Zen Retreat, Noddfa, Penmaenmawr Find your inner self on a three-day meditation retreat. This intensive format is suitable for those with no prior experience as well as those who have a developing practice. See

Variety at Rhyl Pavilion

Madama Butterfly, 30th January Puccini’s opera tells the heart-rending story of a beautiful young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American lieutenant. 7.30pm.Tickets from £26.50. Illusion: Impossible, 5th February Five incredible illusionists perform a non-stop show: appearing superbikes, impossible predictions, levitations and an explosive finale! 7.30pm. Tickets from £27.


Help to monitor local Marine Protected Areas via Shoresearch ‘have-a-go’ sessions on 17th-19th January. North Wales Wildlife Trust wants to train volunteers to survey species at Llandudno’s North Shore, Rhosneigr and Porth Meudwy. See

From 3rd February, online course, Printmaking at Home, Wrexham Glyndwr University Are you interested in trying a new craft? Explore your creativity designing and printing your own cards and fabric at home. Four hour-long sessions cover essential techniques. 5-6pm. Fee £50.

Jimmy Carr: Terribly Funny, 25th February Jokes about all kinds of terrible things… 7pm & 9.30pm. Tickets £31.50.

Dreaming in Bethesda

Until 16th January, experience the ‘Eye of the Moon’ art installation at Pontio in Bangor, featuring animated films by Jo Lawrence and an original score by Tomasz Edwards.


Return to Vienna, 7th January WNO Orchestra presents a rousing programme of waltzes, polkas and maybe a few surprises! 7.30pm. From £7.50. ROH Live: Tosca, 19th January Into the romantic 19th-century world of an idealistic painter and his sensuous lover Tosca comes the malevolent Baron Scarpia, with fatal results. 7.15pm. Tickets from £10.


2nd February, Friends – The Musical Parody, Venue Cymru, Llandudno A goodhearted romp through favourite moments from the hit TV show. You’ll laugh! You’ll cry! You’ll Unagi! 7.30pm. Tickets £33.

Menopause The Musical 2, 18th February Hilarious, heartfelt sequel to hit show. 7.30pm. Tickets £34.50.

DID YOU KNOW? Top Gear declared Jimmy the worst driver ever to appear on the show!

The Nick Beer 10k Memorial Race takes place on 13th February, commemorating the Llandudno athlete. The 30th anniversary event starts and finishes on Llandudno Promenade and snakes around the Great Orme. There will be cash prizes in each category and for breaking course records. Book via

Alaw, 3rd February Welsh supergroup share their passion for the traditional music of Wales with a deftness and sensitivity that is enthralling. 8pm. Tickets from £11.

LEARN TO SPEAK CYMRAEG Gwynedd and Anglesey residents can take advantage of discounted rates on Welsh courses at Nant Gwrtheyrn near Pwllheli. Sessions are online during January, and at their beautiful centre on the Llŷn Peninsula in February. Emphasis is placed on building confidence by speaking Welsh as much as possible during your stay! Beginners and improvers.


Join Large Outdoors for a Yoga and Walking Weekend on 21st January or 18th February. Enjoy gentle guided walking in the foothills of Snowdonia and beginners’ yoga sessions. Or venture higher on Snowdon in Winter (18th-20th February). In the evenings get hygge in the cosy guesthouse. For full programme visit www.

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Wrexham Symphony Orchestra Orchestra in Residence at Wrexham Glyndŵr University

From the New World Korngold - The Sea Hawk Barber - Knoxville: Summer of 1915 Dvorak - Silent Woods Dvorak - Symphony No. 9 “From the New World”


Conductor: Stephen Threlfall Soprano Soloist: Rachael Marsh Leader: Mark Lansom

Sunday 27th February 2022, 3pm ^ University William Aston Hall, Glyndwr


Mold Road, Wrexham LL11 2AW

Colwyn Bay / Abergele Rhuddlan / Buckley / Wrexham

Contact: 0845 310 5374 North Wales Music Tuition Centres

Tickets: £15 balcony, £12 stalls, £10 concessions £2 students, school pupils and young children, £25 family ticket Available at

Registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation No.1156684

Registered Charity No. 519295


MOSTYN Shop: The place to find unique cards and gifts for everyone! MOSTYN, 12 Vaughan Street, Llandudno LL30 1AB 01492 868191 Open 10.30 - 5 Tues - Sun Or visit our online shop

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Winter blooms at Penrhyn Castle While winter is a quiet time for the Castle’s garden and grounds, there are many seasonal gems to discover in the Walled Garden. Enjoy the viburnums and Japanese quinces with their flashes of orange and salmon. Savour the delicate scents of Jasminum officinale and find

the Chinese witch hazel with its strongly fragrant golden-yellow flowers and a stunning mass of snowdrops. Afterwards, warm up in the Stable Yard Coffee Shop or Castle Tea Room. See

Quality quilting Witness some of the finest stitching and most inventive quilt work in Wales at Quiltfest 2022 in Llangollen from 8th-18th February. The exhibition takes place across two venues – the Royal International Pavilion and the Museum & Art Gallery. See the collection of work by internationally renowned textile artist Irene MacWilliam, prize-winning quilts by the MeerKats and ‘Uncharted’ by the Contemporary Quilt Group. Discover the Quilters’ Guild challenge, ‘Towards the Light’, pieces inspired by difficult personal events which then provided a positive way forward. See

Hitting the high notes Enjoy variety at the Stiwt near Wrexham this winter.

North Wales Opera Studio: A Night at the Opera, 9th January Anne Williams-King (soprano) performs excerpts from The Magic Flute, West Side Story and more. 7pm. Tickets from £15. Woman Like Me: The Little Mix Show, 11th February A high-energy tribute show based on the hits of X-Factor winners Little Mix, as well as songs by Justin Bieber, Whitney Houston, Lady Gaga and more. Plus dance competitions and giveaways. 7pm. Tickets from £12. Book via

4th-5th February, Welsh of the West End, Theatr Clywd, Mold Steffan Hughes and his West End super-group perform musical theatre favourites from Les Mis, Rent and Phantom of the Opera. 7.30pm. Tickets from £16.

Until 6th February, Exhibitions at Mostyn, Llandudno The Ultimate Kiss by Jacqueline de Jong, and Anathemata: scripts, drawings and videos by four fellow avant-garde artists. Free.


Rhyl Music Club presents a series of classical concerts in the Town Hall, including a programme of Bloch, Debussy and Rachmaninov from Graham Walker (cello) and Ellis Thomas (piano) on 12th January. Enjoy jazz era piano from Jo Havlat on 26th January, while on 9th February Elizaveta Saul (violin) and Ana Manastireanu (piano) perform works by Schumann, Mendelssohn, Strauss and Piazzola. All 7.30pm. Tickets via

6th February, Sinfonia Cymru: Lucienne Renaudin Vary, Theatre Clywd, Mold French trumpet sensation. 7.30pm. Tickets from £10. www.

6th February, Gourmet break at The Mulberry Inn, Llwynmawr Enjoy a two-night break in the beautiful Ceiriog Valley and savour a specially prepared menu celebrating the wines of Argentina. For details visit


Join the Mountain Coach on two exhilarating walking events. The Anglesey Coast Hiking Weekend on 5th & 6th February takes in the majestic Southstack Lighthouse and Holyhead Mountain and then on to the amazing beaches, dunes and forests of Newborough and Llanddwyn Island. The Llandudno and Conwy Hiking Weekend on 19th & 20th February includes a ramble around the Little Orme and Angel Bay, then a longer trek up the Sychnant Pass and around the Conwy area. For details see

9th February, An Evening with Shane, Mike & Lee, Brymbo Sports Complex, Wrexham Wales and Lions legends Shane Williams, Mike Phillips and Lee Byrne reflect on their careers at the top of rugby. Enjoy a two-course meal and a chance to bid on some unique sporting memorabilia. 7pm. From £52.50 via

18th February, RSPB talk, St David’s Church Hall, Penrhyn Bay Illustrated talk by Chris Tynan on ‘Trials and tribulations of a city-dwelling peregrine falcon’. Non-members welcome. 2pm. £2.50. uk/groups/northwales

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18th & 19th February, Aisha and Abhaya (film screening), Venue Cymru, Llandudno An intoxicating theatrical rush as Ballet Rambert takes centre stage to a soundtrack of driving techno. 8pm. Tickets from £13 via

19th February, Let’s Run Rhyl 5 & 10 Mile This flat, fast course is sure to be a hit with runners chasing their personal best. Entry includes T-shirt and bespoke medal. 10am. Entry from £24. (Fun run 9.15am, entry £3.)


Try your hand at the ancient art of blacksmithing at the National Slate Museum in Llanberis on 6th February. The vintage forge of Gilfach Ddu will be rekindled, where generations of blacksmiths served the needs of Dinorwig Quarry. Under the guidance of Liam Evans, you will

20th February, Superstars of Welsh Wrestling, The Pavilion Rhyl Smack-down and enjoy this spectacle for all the family! 5pm. Tickets from £11.

•22nd-26th February,

Rock of Ages, Venue Cymru, Llandudno An LA love story lavished with over 25 classic rock anthems lose yourself in a city and a time where the dreams are as big as the hair! 7.30pm. Tickets from £23.

23rd February, Krysia Osostowicz, Clara Biss, Mary Hoffman, Rhyl Music Club Krysia has performed with groups such as Endymion; Clara with the Britten Sinfonia, whilst Mary is familiar from Beethoven in Wales .Unusually, each will take turns on violin and viola. 7:30pm. Tickets £15.

be introduced to forging, forming and cutting techniques and use hot steel to create your own poker to take home. The less energetic can watch Liam create iron hearts and dragons, or see a slate-splitting demonstration showing off the skills of the quarrymen. See

THE WELSH ITALIAN JOB Wirral Minis’ annual run from Bromborough to Llandudno takes place on 16th January. From the coast, the route winds up the Great Orme for views across Snowdonia before parking on the Prom. Open to both classic and modern Minis, each car will display its own special plaque. Entry via

19th-21st February, Engineous! Model Railway Exhibition, National Slate Museum, Llanberis Adjacent to Llanberis Lake Railway’s Gilfach Ddu station. See the models then ride on the real thing! 11am-3pm. Free entry.

DID YOU KNOW? Willow and Clash of the Titans were both filmed at Dinorwig

Music and laughter at Theatr Clwyd

Crooners, 29th January This show wows audiences with its laugh-out-loud silliness and superb musical numbers, featuring The Mini Big Band. 7.30pm. Tickets from £23.

Mark Watson: This Can’t Be It, 30th January At 41, Mark Watson is halfway through his days on earth, according to his life expectancy calculator app… 7.30pm.Tickets from £20.

ART AT TŶ PAWB WREXHAM Family play session, 6th January Drop into the Useful Art Space for den-building, wall-drawing and imaginative loose play! Ages 5-15. 4-6pm.Free. Porridge Radio, 29th January Emerging indie rockers, supported by Adwaith and Eitha Da. 7-11pm. Tickets £9 via porridge-radio-tickets Print International, until 26th February Catch the ongoing biennial exhibition celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Regional Print Centre. Galleries open 10am-4pm, Wednesday-Saturday. Visit

Six, 22nd26th February From Tudor Queens to Pop Princesses, the six wives of Henry VIII take to the mic to tell their tales. Various times. Tickets from £40.


Raising the roof at Tivoli Venue Buckley:

Ferocious Dog, 21st January A full-on six-piece sound that encompasses folk, rock, reggae and Celtic vibrations. 7pm. Tickets £16.50. Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, 2nd February During the pandemic, Frank streamed live gigs and raised nearly £300,000 to support small music venues across the UK. He was awarded the Music Venue Trust’s award for Outstanding Achievement for Grassroots Music Venues. The band’s ‘Never Ending Tour of Everywhere’ combines punk and English folk. 7pm. Tickets £37.50.

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Bang on target An ancient site, home to a cathedral, a castle, a university, its own mountain, port and estuary, and a hub for arts and innovation – Bangor has a lot to offer visitors and locals road (now the A5) and the famous Menai suspension bridge, and the railway arrived in 1848, Bangor was firmly on the map. DID YOU Geographically KNOW? it’s an interesting Penrhyn is location, with a loosely modelled busy estuary, its own on Hedingham mountain backdrop Castle in Essex and islands just off its shore. The main part of the city sits to the Penrhyn Castle was the setting for HBO’s Watchmen series west, but has spread s the oldest city in Wales, Bangor has to incorporate a large housing estate to the an ancient reputation and historical east, while a ridge rises to the north of the status that is hard to beat. Its population high street, dividing the city centre from the of around 18,000 love their small but lively south shore of the Menai Strait. So the city city, and more come and go, as the university falls into distinct areas, each with its own attracts students from around the world. community and topography. This has been a dwelling place for many Two rivers lie within its boundaries: the generations: its origins date back to the Adda which flows from near the Faenol founding of a monastery by the Celtic saint estate, and the Cegin which enters Port Deiniol in the early 6th century, on the spot Penrhyn at the eastern edge of the city. This where the cathedral now stands. The city was an important port in the 19th century, gets its name from the old Welsh ‘bancor’ – exporting the slates from Penrhyn quarry. the wattle that once encircled the religious site. Over the centuries, it has seen uprisings, Recent redevelopment changes of hands, peace and battle, but in To this day Bangor is a flourishing city and general has thrived, adding markets and fairs, has benefitted from plenty of investment over governance and charters along the way. the years. The former Bishop’s Palace has been refurbished as Storiel, the new home for Gwynedd museum and gallery, and displays Great connections Bangor remained a small settlement until art and artefacts along with an information the early 18th century, when it became a hub for Ein Treftadaeth (Our Heritage). post town on the developing route between Facilities include a leisure centre with pool London and Dublin. Nearby at Bethesda, and of course the popular pier where you can what would become one of the largest slate enjoy tea and fresh scones. quarries in the world began production, and There’s good shopping along what’s once Thomas Telford built the Holyhead reputed to be Wales’ longest high street, as

well as out-of-town destinations such as the Deiniol and Menai shopping centres. Neither of the two cinemas once enjoyed by the town still stands, but a worthy replacement can be found at the Pontio arts and innovation centre, where audiences can enjoy theatre, film, music and other performing arts. Outdoor lovers will enjoy the surrounding countryside, and in particular the dramatic Penrhyn Castle, set in beautiful grounds on the outskirts of town and managed by the National Trust, as well as nearby GreenWood Park, a popular family attraction.


Take in the view from the pier THINGS TO SEE AND DO Bangor Cathedral Cathedral Close, Bangor LL57 1RL Penrhyn Castle and Garden Bangor LL57 4HT Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre Deiniol Rd, Bangor LL57 2TQ Storiel Ffordd Gwynedd, Bangor LL57 1DT

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8th January, Met Opera Live: Cinderella, Aberystwyth Arts Centre A screening of Laurent Pelly’s storybook staging of Massenet’s Cendrillon, presented with a new English translation. 5pm. Tickets from £12. www.

Community art classes, The Hafren, Newton Art is back, under the guidance of Machynllethbased artist Zoe Mach. Whether you love being creative or haven’t tried your hand since school, there is always something to inspire you. 11am-1pm (online sessions from 5pm). Free.

13th & 19th January, Drawing Stories, Cletwr, Machynlleth Join three artists for drawing sessions based on treasures from Ceredigion Museum. This is for anyone and everyone over 15. No experience needed. 2pm-4pm. Free.

15th January, ‘Your winter garden: doing’, workshop, Grace Crabb & Company, Machynlleth Is your idea of winter gardening looking at seed catalogues? Here’s 10 exciting things you can do out there over winter! 10am–1.30pm. £65.

15th January, Clam Shell Boxes workshop, Make it in Wales, Cardigan Create two beautiful clam shell boxes for storing all your precious things. 10am-4pm. £87. www.

16th January, Winter Bird Walk, Llangasty, Tal-y-llyn Andrew King, of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, leads a walk at Llangorse Lake to look for birds that winter in Brecknock. 9.30am – 12.30pm. Free via

22nd January, Beat the Blues Women’s Retreat Day, Clarach Join a small group of women for a day of rest and rejuvenation, including gentle yoga, a mindful walk and songs around the campfire. £69 (inc vegan lunch). email

Music at Hay Globe

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Keith James: Concert for a Changing World, 5th February Dylan, Baez and Yusuf Islam were among those asked to contribute verses in response to 21st-century crises, performed here with courage and passion. 8pm. Tickets £12.

DID YOU KNOW? The Meadows won a coveted Fatea award for their debut album

The Meadows, 19th February. Rich vocal harmonies, haunting flute and violin from this Celtic crossover band. 8pm. Tickets £8.

Serious running

Need to work off those mince pies? Grab your trainers for the annual walk/run Reservoir Roundabout Challenge in the Elan and Claerwen Valleys on 8th January. The six dams offer a wonderful backdrop for this 13 to 20-mile event. Entry is £15; book via or just turn up on the day.

Blankets of hope

The National Wool Museum at Llandysul is hosting an Exhibition of Hope until 15th January. During lockdown the museum invited people to knit, felt or crochet coloured squares for a rainbow blanket to honour our key workers. Over 2,000 beautiful squares were crafted in every conceivable colour and fibre, and are now on display in this free exhibition. Afterwards the blankets will be given to charities around Wales.

Winter Watch Wales

Can’t get enough of wildlife shows on TV? Join the Welsh Wildlife Centre Watch Group at Cilgerran, near Cardigan, and you can go minibeast hunting, play nature-themed games and help campaign for wildlife. The group is for 8-12 year-olds and their families and meets monthly. New in: Explorer Backpacks to play along their themed trails. See

Swim wild Set in the heart of Machynlleth’s Dyfi Forest in a secret hideaway, join We Swim Wild for an unforgettable introduction to wild swimming on 8th January or 5th February. You will be guided through water safety before plunging into the crystal waters of the Dyfi River and then warming up in the wood-fired sauna. Book via

Scan the skies

Ever gazed into the night sky and wondered what’s out there? Dark Sky Wales may have the answers on their Cambrian Mountains Stargazing Weekend, 7th-9th January: two days of astronomical tuition amid the dark skies of Staylittle, glamping in wigwams! See darkskywales

Pencils and porridge…

From 8th January kids can get arty at breakfast with the help of Oriel Davies Gallery in Newtown. Learn new ways of drawing online over four Saturday mornings, with the chance to share your artwork. Using digital media and live demonstrations, themes will include whales, enchanted forests and drawing like a film director! The free workshops are for ages 10+; a materials pack is available to buy from the gallery shop or online.

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WHAT’S ON MID WALES DID YOU KNOW? Rich Hall appears briefly in Police Adademy 2 as a street punk


22nd January, Vintage, Antique & Makers Market, Clarence Hall, Crickhowell There’ll be oodles of vintage and antique delights, as well as an eclectic mix of artisan goodies on offer. Enjoy a brew in Smith & John’s vintage-themed tearoom! 10am-4pm. Free entry. www.

Art & antics at Aberystwyth Arts Centre Bolshoi Ballet: Jewels – live screening, 23rd January The legendary Russian company presents George Balanchine’s sparkling three-part ballet on the big screen, to music by Fauré, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky. 3pm. Tickets from £10. Rich Hall’s Hoedown Deluxe, 11th February Ever-evolving,

ever-changing, Rich’s acerbic stand-up and alt-country lyricism is a crowd-pleaser. 7.30pm. Tickets £17.

Choice Grenfell, 22nd February A wonderful tribute featuring Joyce’s hilarious songs and monologues, from Stately as a Galleon to School Nativity Play. 7.30pm. Tickets £15.

Variety at Crickhowell

Clarence Hall presents two very different events this winter:

Hymns & Pimm’s, 29th January. Sing to commemorate the Royal Jubilee, with hymns from the Coronation, Sankey and other favourite tunes. 7pm. Tickets £5 via 07541 121838

Natural spin

Denmark Farm Conservation Centre near Lampeter has a wealth of workshops using natural materials. Try spinning on a drop spindle on 6th February – or on 17th February make a jute twine plant hanger. Full programme at

Off-road adventure For a scenic driving challenge, join a guided 4x4 Explorer Tour on 27th February around the Elan Valley and take in the iconic Lower Claerwen green lane to the dam – where Top Gear filmed Richard Hammond being winched up the side! Details from

Ministry of Science Live – Saved the World, 27th February The popular science team are back and more explosive than ever! This time their anarchic show explores the engineers and inventors who have shaped the modern world. 2pm & 4pm. Tickets £15.

Toyah Willcox, 11th February. A unique chance to experience the singer up close and personal. Toyah will perform her hit singles and classic songs, alongside recalling stories from her colourful 40-year career. Tickets £27.50 from Crickhowell Resource and Information Centre or book online at

Don’t get lost!

Join mountain leader Andy Lamb on 12th February for a day of map skills training at the Brecon Beacons National Park Visitor Centre. Learn key techniques, then hone your skills with some outdoor navigation challenges! Book via

Until 23rd January, Tales from the Mabinogion, The Bleddfa Centre, Knighton An exhibition exploring the creatures and metamorphoses of the timeless stories through sculpture, ceramics, prose and paintings. Free.

23rd January, Dyfi Winter Warm-up, Corris Craft Centre, Machynlleth This off-road endurance cycle event heads into Dyfi Forest for a 12, 20 or 28-mile route. 11am. Entry £29.

25th January, Welsh Love Tokens – online talk, National Wool Museum, Llandysul On St Dwynwen’s Day, to honour the patron saint of friendship and love, explore some of the objects given as tokens, from the famous love spoon to knitting sheaths and staybusks. 7pm. £1.26–£5.58.

27th January, NT Encore: Leopoldstadt, Wyeside Arts Centre, Builth Wells Tom Stoppard’s new play is a drama of love, family and endurance across half a century. Filmed live from Wyndam’s Theatre in London. 7pm. Tickets from £12.

Romance isn’t dead…

Treat your Valentine in style at Penmaenuchaf Hall, near Dolgellau from 12th-14th February. In a stunning location above Mawddach Estuary, surrounded by forests and misty lakes, this country house hotel offers a relaxed atmosphere, cosy log fires and candlelit dining, plus a complimentary cocktail to get your romantic break off to a passionate start!

29th January, Silent Disco, New Quay Memorial Hall Help Working 4 New Quay by burning up the dance floor! Choose from three soundtracks – rock, pop, rave. 8pm. Tickets £11.37 via

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4th February, What’s Love Got To Do With It?, Aberystwyth Arts Centre Tina Turner fans will have the time of their lives celebrating the 60-year career of this rock and soul legend. 8pm. Tickets from £25.50. www.

New Year at Hafren Return to Vienna, 8th January WNO presents its sparkling New Year’s concert. 4pm. From £17. An Evening with Nick Butter, 27th January First to run a marathon in every country, Nick has a wild story to tell of muggings, war zones, dog attacks and our planet’s diversity. 7.30pm. From £15. An Evening with Shane Williams, 29th January The rugby star shares secrets from his illustrious career. 7.30pm. From £19.

Music at Mwldan

5th February, Lord Crawshaw Memorial Walk, Llanwrtyd Wells This annual event remembers Dick Crawshaw who did so much for walking in Wales. Choose between way-marked routes of 12 or 20 miles or join a guided walk of 5 or 8 miles. 8am start. See February, Roots •in5thDub, Y Plas, Plas

Machynlleth A night of meditative vibrations in the form of powerful bass and vocals powered by a heavy sound system. 8pm-2.30am. Free. Tickets via

5th & 6th February, Dino Nights! Museum Sleepover – online, National Wool Museum, Llandysul Kids can experience a funfilled night at the museum from their own home. Take a torch-lit tour with a dinosaur expert, design a mask, enjoy a film and in the morning join a family yoga class. 3.15pm-9am. Tickets from £5 via

•12th February, The Distractions, Live at the Cellar,

Cardigan Terrific power trio play hits of the ’60s & ’70s. 7.30pm. £8.

17th February, Winter Tree Identification, The Bishop’s Park & Gardens, Abergwili Join head gardener Piers Lunt for a fascinating journey through winter trees, learning to identify them without their leaves! 2pm4pm. £6.

Martyn Joseph, 27th January Passion and social awareness from ‘the Welsh Springsteen’! 7.30pm. Tickets from £17. Natasha Watts, 11th February. International soul with piano accompaniment. 7.30pm. £20

Art-house Abergavenny

Abergavenny Film Society is Wales’ longest-running film society. Its programmes are carefully chosen from the best of world cinema. This season includes Mr Jones on 5th January, the extraordinary story of the Welsh journalist who uncovered Stalin’s genocidal famine in Ukraine, and La Cha Cha on 16th February, an outrageous comedy set at a campsite on the Gower. www.

The Budapest Café Orchestra, 24th February A dazzling evocation of Tzigane fiddle maestros, Budapest café life and gypsy campfires! 7.30pm. From £15.

Ben Hur on bikes!

A uniquely wacky event, the World Mountain Bike Chariot Races take place on 15th January in Llanwrtyd Wells. Special chariots built using traditional steel and vulcanised rubber have been commissioned for the event, and are designed to be pulled by two mountain bikes. The winning team will have to demonstrate exceptional skill and courage to overcome challengers on the mile-long course. The event is open to teams of three and the entry fee is £25 per team.

Get creative in Cardigan

DID YOU KNOW? Nick Butter ran 5,240 miles round the coast of Britain in just 128 days

Make your mark

Get hooked on art in 2022 with tuition by Chapel Cottage Studio near Abergavenny. On 15th January learn how to use watercolours to produce a snow scene or on 19th February a seascape in winter. Experiment with mixed media to make a characterful portrait of nosy cows on 22nd January! The Studio also offers a fantastic week-long drawing course. See

Classics at Hay-on-Wye

Hay Music Trust presents two concerts at St Mary’s Church: Llyr Williams, 14th January Award-winning pianist performs Schumann, Liszt and Chopin. 7pm.

Make It in Wales hosts a range of craft workshops in its Stiwdio 3 in Cardigan. On 11th February create a beautiful stained-glass heart with Bean Sawyer. She will guide you through glass cutting, leading, soldering and polishing your heart ready to give to a special somebody. For full programme and prices see

Loré Lixenberg (mezzosoprano) & Bartosz Glowacki (accordion), 19th February Bartosz is a leading light of a new generation of accordionists. Programme includes pieces by Bach, Purcell, Eccles and Cage.

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Lle i Ddarganfod ... A Place to Discover ...

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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... the heritage and culture of Wales and the Celtic nations. • Free admission to the Reading Rooms and resources • Free exhibitions • A diverse programme of events and activities • Caffi Pen Dinas serving home cooked food • Shop selling Welsh products

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A tale of war, love and courage of the men who must leave home and of the women they leave behind. The characters that walk the pages of this book are fictitious, but their stories will be told many times and by many who have lived their nightmares, shared their joys and felt their pain. To those ends the word consequence was a word that they eventually understood. “Well written, with warmth and compassion and littered with historic detail throughout… and thought provoking, in showing how our past endeavours shape our future life.” ‘‘When you open the pages of this clearly written book, you enter a ‘time machine’ as you really feel that you are there with the characters who quickly become very real to you.”


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If you liked the Da Vinci Code, then take a look at local author Martin Kaye. His first book On Badon Field is available as a digital novel on the Amazon Kindle Store. You can buy a hard copy from, order it from your local bookstore or buy it directly from my website

The second book ‘A Banner of Dark Shadows’ will be available in January 2022.

Esther Wintringham I am a freelance artist who enjoys painting mainly in oils and watercolours. My favourite topics are some of the beautiful scenery in North Wales. I sell original pictures and prints and also accept commissions. My virtual shop is on Etsy.

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Culture club


Underground music

Go acoustic at The Cellar in Cardigan:

Samana, 5th February Inspired by eastern Europe and their forest studio in Mid-Wales, Samana shift between melancholic ballads and seraphic serenity. 7.30pm. Tickets £8. John Adams, 17th February Singersongwriter with a voice to rival Sam Smith, arriving at a sweet spot between today’s pop and traditional folk. 7.30pm. Tickets £12. Paul Cowley, 19th February Performing songs from his new album Long Time Comin’, Paul presents his mix of acoustic country blues and sophisticated urban lyricism. 8pm. Tickets £8. Book via

Wyeside Arts Centre in Builth Wells presents a selection of the performing arts this winter: Tosca – live screening, 23rd January The tension never lets up in this Royal Opera House production of Puccini’s classic. 2pm. From £15. The Snow Queen, 5th February. Join Ballet Theatre UK in their beautiful re-telling of Hans Andersen’s classic fairy tale. 7.30pm. From £10. Romeo and Juliet – live screening, 20th February Family feuding in dance, direct from the ROH. 2pm. From £15.

Hedging for health

In the picture MOMA in Machynlleth has five diverse exhibitions running until 26th February. ‘Top Gear’ is a series of portraits by Tecwyn Williams. ‘Young Welsh Artists’ showcases ceramics, photography and painting, while Woody Fox celebrates the centenary of Dr Doolittle with willow animal sculptures. Plus ‘The Sea’ and ‘Art in the Home’. See

‘Growing Better Connections’ is hedge planting at Penlan Uchaf Farm, Crymych on 15th and 16th January, to create a biodiverse corridor between woodlands. Join in if you want to learn more about tree-planting, or fancy some fresh air and a therapeutic dig! Book via

Wild Welsh wanderings

Wales Outdoors has an exhilarating programme of walks in the Brecon Beacons. Try the iconic Amazing Eight Waterfalls on 15th January or 19th February, or the 750m ascent of Carn Pica on 29th January.

17th February, Gravity Painting in Watercolour, Chapel Cottage Studio, near Abergavenny A paint-along session to discover this loose watercolour technique. Learn to cascade paint on artboard and use watermarks and drips to create a lively headland scene. 1.30-4.30 pm. Tickets £30 via

Crafts from the land

Grace Crabb & Company in Machynlleth is offering one-day winter workshops using natural materials. Kate Boucher leads Drawing with Charcoal on 20th January and 5th February, and rush basket maker Rosie Farey shares her skills on 27th January (basket) and 19th February (hanging basket). Workshops are suitable for beginners – see

19th February, Carpenters Gold, Pavilion Mid Wales, Llandrindod Wells An enchanting evening featuring the musical brilliance of Richard and Karen Carpenter. 7.30pm. Tickets from £20.

21st–22nd February, Weave a Rush Hat, Denmark Farm Conservation Centre, Lampeter Jane Welsh will lead you in weaving your own beautiful sun hat out of soft, aromatic rush. From 10am. Price £130.

23rd February, Freedom to Roam, Aberystwyth Arts Centre A fusion of classical, folk and electro music with African, Celtic and Indian influences, set to a stunning video backdrop. 7.30pm. Tickets £20. www.

Live in Llandrindod Wells

The Elvis Years – The Story of the King, 25th February Journey through three decades of hits with West End star Mario Kombou. Featuring film footage, authentic re-creations from the movies and over 12 costume changes! 7.30pm. Tickets from £21.50. The McDougalls’ Safari Adventure, 27th February A roaring musical adventure packed with action songs and audience participation. Come dressed as your favourite animal! 2pm. Free event.

26th February, Outdoor Hanging Workshop, Make it in Wales, Cardigan Using recycled metal, make a beautiful outdoor dove mobile. Your tutor will show you how to cut, shape, beat, file and polish your metal to create your hanging. 11.30am-4.30pm. £90.

26th & 27th February, Dr Sardonicus’s Winters Dream Psychedelic Festival IV, The Cellar, Cardigan Two days of psychedelic prog-rock, folk and electronica heaven, hosted by Sendelica, West Wales’ instrumental psychespace-rock band! From 4pm. Tickets from £30 via

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Start the year at Storyhouse Oliver Twist!, until 16th January A street-savvy production of the Dickens favourite. Big-hearted leads, feel-good songs, muggers and mutts, all live from the gutter! Various times. Tickets from £18.

Teddy Thompson, 19th January The singer-songwriter will be performing tracks from his highly anticipated new album, Heartbreaker Please, with special guest Roseanne Reid. 8pm. Tickets from £20. Northern Chamber Orchestra Soloists, 13th February String quartets by Haydn, Beethoven and Dvořák. 1.30pm. Tickets from £18. In Conversation with Stacey Dooley, 22nd February Stacey’s new book, Are You Really OK?, explores the mental health crisis in Britain


Follow the science…

Catalyst discovery centre and museum in Widnes is a great science-based family attraction with an excellent educational focus, open at weekends and during school holidays. There’s an interactive gallery, theatre and catalyst laboratory, an observatory gallery and the chance to investigate the development of the chemical industry through reconstructed scenes, computer quizzes and archive films. Catalyst is open 10am-5pm, and admission is £7.95 for adults, £5.95 for children (concessions and family tickets available). What’s more, when you pay for admission you receive an annual pass to return as many times as you like over the next 12 months! For more information and directions, visit

and its impact on the young in particuar. 7.30pm. Tickets from £25.

Dragons and Mythical Beasts, 26th & 27th February Enter into a magical world of myths and legends in this fantastic interactive show from the creators of the West End hit Dinosaur World Live. Spectacular puppetry. 11.30am & 2.30pm. Tickets from £14.

DID YOU KNOW? Stacey left school at 15. Her first job? Selling perfume at Luton airport

The 50th anniversary of the re-enactment of Holly Holy Day, also known as the Battle of Nantwich, will take place on 22nd January. The faithful troops of the Sealed Knot will once again gather to re-run the battle that marked the end of the siege of the town during the English Civil War in 1644. Nantwich Historical Society first commemorated the battle in a wreath-laying ceremony in Nantwich Square in 1971. Then the Sealed Knot Society, an organisation that perpetuates the memory of the Civil War and re-enacts its major battles throughout the year, became involved. The first modern re-play of the Battle of Nantwich took place in 1973, giving the town one of its most exciting spectacles, and it has taken place every year since. Crowds gather in the town centre at 10am, and battle commences at Mill Island at 2pm. Find out more at

Give them some space

Jodrell Bank is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where visitors can see the Grade I-listed Lovell telescope, join an informative talk and engage with a range of outdoor exhibits including the popular Whispering Dishes. Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre is open from 8th January–20th February at weekends and every day during half term (21st-25th February). There are timed arrival slots from 10am-2pm, and tickets cost £8.50 for adults, £6.50 for children. Visit to find out more.

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Finders, keepers... The half-term Explorer Quest at Beeston Castle and Woodland Park promises to bring out the detective in everyone! This brand-new attraction is open 10am-6pm from 19th-27th February. Track down the clues and solve the puzzles as you follow the family

Spot the scarecrows

Head to Tatton Park for the annual Scarecrow Festival over half term (19th-27th February) and search for dozens of scarecrows standing guard in the 50-acre gardens and throughout the farm. Visit for details and tickets.

Dive in!

A captivating underwater world is waiting for you to discover at Blue Planet Aquarium. Home to more than 100 living displays – and one of Europe’s largest collections of sharks – the aquarium offers plenty of marine life to marvel at. Find out about these animals’ habitats and what risks they face; discover the exotic freshwater fish of South America in the Flooded Forest;

DID YOU KNOW? Beeston’s stone wall was built to keep in the castle’s kangaroos. It’s true!

trail through the grounds of Beeston Castle – and enjoy a brilliant day out in history. Tickets from £6 (concessions available); English Heritage members go free. To book, call 0370 333 1181.

Salt of the Earth

The Lion Salt Works in Marston, near Northwich, is one of the last open-pan sites in the world. The intriguing warren of stove, boiler and pan houses has been renovated to reveal how salt was extracted from underground lakes and transformed into a coveted commodity, and recreates the story of the people who lived and worked in the industry. For opening times, dates and prices call 01606 275066.

explore the Coral Cave full of colourful fish that make their homes among the coral reefs; and take a wander through the 71m long Underwater Shark Tunnel to watch as a kaleidoscope of sharks and fish swim over your head… Tickets cost from £14.50, and various concessions are available. For opening times and details about the individual attractions and exhibitions, visit

1st January onwards, UA Trampoline Park, Winsford Get the kids active! Open every day, this park is filled with 50 interconnected trampolines, King Kong climbing wall, slam-dunking and tumble tracking facilities and an angled wall. Times vary. Tickets from £6, advance booking essential.

1st January onwards, Dagfields, Nantwich Browse seven giant emporia of antiques and collectibles, over 250 dealers and 25 craft workshops with everything from handmade soaps to bespoke garden furniture, then revive in the tea rooms. Daily 10am-5pm.

4th-30th January, Percy the Park Keeper’s Winter Wander Trail, Dunham Massey Join in the fun with Percy and his animal friends and give nature a helping hand. The trail follows flat paths and is accessible to all. Gardens open from 10am daily, last entry 3.30pm. £2 per trail pack. Book online at nationaltrust.

5th January, Jason Manford: Like Me, The Brindley, Runcorn It’s been a busy few years for Jason Manford, but fans of his Absolute Radio programme will know this nationally acclaimed comedian hasn’t changed a bit. With two sets (6pm & 9pm), tickets are £20 from 6th January, Networx4Business, •Mollington Banastre Hotel, Chester This supportive network runs meetings across the region, connecting like-minded business people in a friendly environment. This hybrid event (online and in-person) runs on alternate Thursdays, 9-11am. Details at networx4

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7th January, Open Art Exhibition, The Grosvenor Museum, Chester The Grosvenor has built up a reputation for presenting the best in contemporary art, and for the 14th year artists UK-wide are invited to display their work in this open exhibition. For opening times and tickets email cheshiremuseums@

Top performances at Parr Hall

Snow White, 7th-16th January Everyone’s favourite fairy tale will delight kids and adults alike. 1.30pm, 5.30pm & 7pm. Tickets from £10.50. Two Pints Live with Will Mellor & Ralf Little, 2nd February The stars of the cult sitcom build on their podcast with this live, unscripted show. 8pm. Tickets from £21.50.

8th January, Reaseheath Mini Zoo, Nantwich Set in the scenic grounds of Reaseheath College, the zoo is home to species from around the world. It’s open every weekend and school holidays 10am-4pm. Adult £6, child £5 (under-3s free). Book online at

Suggs – What a King Cnut, 3rd February Suggs is back to tell his story, with the help of trusty pianist

Writers assemble

12th January5th March, NeoRenaissance by Mark Sheeky, Nantwich Museum Sheeky enjoys exploring the links between different media and art forms, including painting, sculpture, video, music, writing and performance – both alone and in collaboration. For details and times email enquiries@

•16th January, Quilters Exhibition

& Fabric Sale, Nantwich Civic Hall The perfect start your creative year! This annual event is now in its 17th year and brings together patchworkers, quilters and stitchers of all ability levels and ages, with a huge choice of beautiful fabrics, wadding, kits, thread, sewing notions and more. 10am-4pm, hot refreshments.

DID YOU KNOW? The Foundations were the first multi-race group Deano, Madness classics to make no1 and his own compositions. 7.30pm. Tickets from £28.50. in the UK

Want to improve your writing or learn how to get your novel published? Find tips and inspiration at Hearth 2022, taking place at Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden on 5th February. As Gladfest’s younger sibling it aims to distill all the best bits of festival life – book chat, comfortable chairs, tea and cake, and a good glass of wine - into a single day. With opportunities to meet, talk and create with four authors over a day of book-based activity, it’s one of their most popular events. For prices and times email

22nd January, Silversmithing – Elegant Earrings, The Potters Barn, Sandbach Learn how to make earrings of your own design from sterling silver, using traditional silversmithing techniques. The course runs 10am-3pm and costs £125 including use of tools, equipment and materials. Call 01270 884080 or visit thepottersbarn.

Milkshake! Live, 20th February Family fun. Midday-3.30pm. Tickets from £15. The Foundations, 25th February Original guitarist/vocalist Alan Warner is keeping the band’s swinging Sixties’ sound alive. 8pm. Tickets from £23.

Action station

Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker stayed off the map for over 50 years but now you can explore the labyrinth of rooms and equipment used to run this defence site in event of national emergency. Kids can follow the Spy Mouse Trail for a free Small Spies manual. Daily 10am-4pm. Adult £11, child £7.

Floral fantasy

Snowdrop Walk at Rode Hall is a beautiful milelong stroll (with options for longer or shorter walks) through cascading carpets of over 70 varieties of snowdrops. Open 5th February-6th March, Wednesdays-Sundays 11am-4pm. Adult £6, child £2.50 (under 5s free).

No more bored boardrooms

Need to arrange a business meeting but fancy a day in the open air? How about a corporate golf day? Carden Park offers bespoke packages for the ultimate VIP experience, with all the trimmings to impress your clients and colleagues. Expect first-class service from a designated event coordinator, course exclusivity, scorecard management, drive competitions and personalised branding. Speak to the team on 01829 731 003.

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2022 FIXTURES MAY Boodles May Festival City Day Ladies Day Chester Cup Day Roman Day

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Summer Saturday Ladies Evening Summer Festival

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Ladies & Gents Evening City Plate Day Midsummer Meeting Family Funday

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Ladies Day


Autumn Festival Season Finale

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11th February, Ben Hart: Wonder, Northwich Memorial Court With the simplest of props, drawn partly from his audience, Britain’s Got Talent 2019 finalist and multi awardwinning magician Ben Hart conjures an altogether new kind of magic. Tickets cost from £15, available at ticketsource.

11th February, Biffy McClyro, Live Rooms, Chester A brilliant tribute band, Biffy McClyro has been formed by die-hard Biffy fans for die-hard Biffy fans. Their set comprises the big singles plus album tracks from the full back catalogue. 7pm. Tickets from £11.

12th Feb, Circus of Horrors, Northwich Memorial Court An amazing mix of acts, driven by a rock’n’roll soundscape, will have you on the edge of your seat when you’re not falling off it with laughter. Rock fan or theatre goer, The Circus of Horrors has something for everyone. 7pm. Tickets from £17.

•16th February, Living Islam, Chester Cathedral What is

it like to live as a Muslim? Hinnah Heydari’s talk will address misconceptions and stereotypes. Learn about the traditions and beliefs and ask questions. 4.30-6.30pm. Free; to book email chestercivic@

19th & 26th Feb, ’90s to Now, River Dee, Chester Sail through the hits of the last three decades. Departing at 7.30pm sharp from The Groves, your ticket includes wine on arrival, buffet supper, and disco. Fancy dress welcome! £33.50. www. chesterboat.

Curtain up at Crewe Lyceum The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, 18th-22nd January The American Gothic tale of teacher Ichabod Crane and wealthy heiress Katrina Von Tassel is a classic of love, revenge and bone-chilling evil. 7.30pm (2.30pm Wednesday). Tickets from £20. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, 10th-12th February Thrilling adaptation of RL Stevenson’s fantasy set in 19th-century London. 7.30pm (2.30pm Saturday). Tickets from £17.50.

Give yourself a lift!

The mighty Anderton Boat Lift, near Northwich, is one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways, lifting boats and barges from the River Weaver Navigation to the Trent & Mersey Canal. With its visitor centre, coffee shop, play area and nearby Northwich Woodlands, it makes for a great day out. Entry is free, with a small charge for parking. Well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome. Boat trips are open at weekends until 27th February. Visit

Perfect ten

The inaugural Watersons Hale 10k on 20th February is set to be a memorable event with a fantastic atmosphere. Entries are limited to 1,000 and those taking part will enjoy a closed-road route on a stunning course through Hale and Ashley. There’s also a 3k race through the grounds of Ashley Hall. Visit to secure your spot now!

DID YOU KNOW? The Bee Gees wrote hits for Celine Dion, Dolly Parton and Diana Ross

You Win Again, 13th February Celebrating the music of the Bee Gees. This authentic production ensures the Gibb Brothers’ legacy is stayin’ alive! 7.30pm. Tickets £30. Susie Dent – The Secret Lives of Words, 25th February Susie selects the funniest moments from her 25 years on Countdown and her favourite words from your town. Bring your questions! 7.30pm. Tickets £26.50.

Brave new worlds

Them & Us, being staged at Salisbury Studio, Chester Little Theatre on 20th-22nd January, features two short plays about machines. In From Little Acorns Grow, a robot built for gardening reflects on the centuries spent with her friends rebuilding the Earth’s ecosystem, while The Man who Built the Tin Man looks at AI and moral responsibility. Tickets from £6. Also, from 26th February, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, set in 1950s Brooklyn. Tickets from £7. ticketsource.

Heavy horse heaven

Set in 50 acres in the heart of the Cheshire countryside, Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre and Stud Farm is fun for the whole family. You can learn all about the Shire horse and its history carrying knights in armour, and meet British wildlife including rare breeds. Wander the trails to see the horses further afield, explore the woodland, then visit the lakeside cafe. The centre is open 10am-5pm, tickets from £8.50. Book your timed entry online at

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Zoe Ellis lives with her husband in Chester and is owner of the award-winning bar and restaurant Palm Cocktail Bar and Eatery in the city. She is also the creator of Curve festival, Europe’s leading plus-size fashion festival – a staple in the calendar for many retailers such as Boohoo, Marks & Spencer, River Island and New Look



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What’s your full (real) name (including any embarrassing middle names!)? Zoe Tracey Ellis, nothing embarrassing. My middle name is after my mum.

What do you do? I own Palm Cocktail Bar & Eatery in Chester – we’re known for our “Instagram-able” features. And I also run Curve, a major retail event. Who shares your life? My husband and two chow chows, Shelby and Bear. My brother Leo is at my house all the time, and my five-year-old nephew is around a lot. My parents are often there too, doing little jobs, because I’ve just moved in.

The highlight of the last 12 months? Working in the hospitality industry, when we re-opened it was such a joy to see all our customers back enjoying themselves. And the worst bit? Not being able to run Curve. We kept postponing, which at least gave us some hope. But having to cancel altogether was a low point.

What is your favourite drink? I’d say Palm 19, Palm’s signature cocktail.

If you had to take part in a reality TV show, which would you have the best chance of winning? Bake-Off is out, I can’t bake for toffee. And I have two left feet, so I’d have no chance on Strictly. I’m a go-getter and always up for a challenge so definitely I’m a Celeb.

What is your guilty pleasure? I love watching YouTube travel vloggers – where they’re going, their airport routine, what outfits they’re taking with them. When did you last laugh uncontrollably and why? We went to York Christmas market and my dad put on a leather cowboy hat. We thought it was a joke but then he said “Sold! No need for a bag…” and moseyed off, tipping his hat to everyone he passed.

If you could come back as any animal, what would you be and why? A bird in any Disneyland resort. The food is unreal and it’s everywhere!

You’re hosting a celebrity dinner party for four guests – who’s on the list? Kevin Hart and The Rock – they are so funny together and can keep everyone entertained. Walt Disney – I have so many questions for him. And Princess Diana, so we can talk fashion.




Your desert island single and what it means to you? Out walking I always listen to Boyz II Men. I love a good power ballad and they remind me of growing up. If you could have one superpower what would it be? To freeze time, so I can go shopping, whizz around for what I need and not queue to pay.

What’s your favourite place in the world? New York – I got engaged there so it’s special. And Disneyland, for the attention to detail and great service. And Chester, of course!




Who is your all-time hero? My family – and Walt Disney. My family are so supportive in everything I do. They have a definite ‘get back up again’ attitude. Walt Disney’s ethos for business and his passion for people is inspiring. He created a culture that valued and empowered employees, and it’s still relevant today.

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Fears or phobias? Not being in control.

What would be the first thing you’d buy if you won the lottery? I’d buy my younger brother a house so he can move out of my spare room. And buy my older brother a house so he stops threatening to move into my spare room!

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What would be your dream job (other than your own)? Prime minister or CEO of Disney World.

If you were representing your country in the Olympics which sport would you choose? Whatever needs the least amount of effort!

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And your proudest achievement? Coming through the last two years. When you start a business, you think of all the things that can happen, but you don’t expect a pandemic to bring the world to a standstill. Getting through it as a team makes me really proud.

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Until 9th January, Sublime Symmetry: De Morgan Ceramics, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight Famed for the lustrous glazed tiles and pottery with bird and dragon decoration, behind the fantastical beasts and fanciful flora that wrap themselves around De Morgan’s work is a rigorously planned mathematical structure. This stunning exhibition showcases around 70 objects on loan from the De Morgan Foundation. Open Tuesday-Sunday and bank holidays, 10am-4pm. Facebook @ladyleverartgallery


An art gallery with a difference… Based around its emerging Victoria Quarter, New Brighton has a fantastic array of open-air street art. Rockpoint Leisure commissioned works from both local and international street artists, and the result is a dazzling chronicle of key events, locations and


9th January & 6th February, Orchestra dell’Arte, Heswall United Reformed Church Serenades on Sundays include I Due Amici: songs and arias from two tenors, and Musica Argentina for guitar and string quartet. 3pm. Tickets £6. Visit to find out more.

The Hilbre Islands are one of the loveliest spots in Wirral for wildlife and can be reached on foot in an hour at low tide. Grey seals haul up on the sands, and dolphins have also been sighted. Check for tide times before you set out.

12th & 19th January, Candle-making Workshop, Wirral Candle Co., Heswall Over two sessions create a scented glass candle, a travel candle and tea-lights. Includes barista coffee/tea and locally made cake. 6.30-8.30pm. Tickets £45.

16th January, Thornton Manor Wedding Open Day Start planning your dream day with experienced and dedicated wedding coordinators and fabulous suppliers. Open midday-5pm.

28th January, Oh Yes We Can, Ellesmere Port Civic Hall Oh Yes We Can is a pantomime project created by the Action Transport Theatre working with Vivo Care Choices. 2pm. For details and tickets, contact info@actiontransport

DID YOU KNOW? New Brighton once had the world’s largest open-air pool

interesting characters from pirates to pier divers who have shaped the seaside town over the past three centuries. Check the map at to plan your art-spotting trip!


Need somewhere secure and fun to exercise your pup? Bark Park in Raby is a huge, purpose-built dog play park with a range of activities for you and your pooch to enjoy, including off-leash play and socialisation sessions and doggy daycare. You can even hire the park privately. Check times and prices at

Talent blossoms at the Floral Pavilion

McCartney - The Songbook, 15th January Masterworks spanning six decades from the producers of That’ll Be The Day. 7.30pm. £26.25

Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 13th February Are some things better left buried? Starring James Gaddas (Bad Girls, Medics). 7.30pm. From £22.75.

Kiki Dee & Carmelo, 25th February Acoustic covers of songs by Kate Bush and Frank Sinatra and of course Kiki’s own hits. 7.30pm. £22.50 Box office 0151 666 0000


All the fun of the farm

Jimmy Carr: Terribly Funny, 28th January Jimmy’s new show features all kinds of terrible things – just jokes, not the things. 8pm. £31.25

A masterpiece of landscape design and the inspiration for New York’s Central Park, Birkenhead Park is a designated conservation area. Escape urban life and enjoy the woodland walks and fitness trail. There’s also a visitor centre and café, a kids’ playground, tennis courts, bowling greens, football pitches and two fishing lakes. Email

Need to get outdoors after being cooped up all winter? Church Farm is re-opening on 18th February. A tractor ride is still included in the admission price, and there are lots of animals to feed, including alpacas, goats, sheep, ponies and emus! Kids can let off steam on the space hoppers, pedal karts, boats and mini diggers, and there’s an indoor play area with sandpit and tractor TV. Visit for times and prices.

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Ness Botanic Gardens spread across 64 acres, with stunning views of the River Dee and North Wales, and are open every day from 10am-4.30pm. In January you can enjoy the stunning tree barks, bright berries, a host of spetacular seedheads, the first clumps of snowdrops, and a surprising beam of colour in a bleak period – witch hazel.

In February the gardens start to spring into action, with early species of bumblebee out foraging on warmer days, and the plump flowerbuds of the magnolias preparing to burst into waxy glory. Check for entry prices.

Scavenger hunt SHIP SHAPE

Hoylake and West Kirby Sea Cadets need you! Whether you’d like to train as an instructor or just lending a helping hand, volunteers are always welcome You don’t need a background in the Navy or in watersports – just a positive attitude. Email to make a real difference.

DID YOU KNOW? Artificial ponds at Ness are used for climate research

In ‘What’s Left Behind’ at the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, Birkenhead, sculptor Brigitte Jurack explores environmental adaptability, focusing on animals that we share long cultural entanglements with, such as crows, foxes and monkeys. williamson

Kent is true blues

Legendary Delta bluesman Kent DuChaine has travelled and played with most of the great Blues men and women his whole adult life. And now you can share these experiences at West Kirby Arts Centre on 25th & 26th February for only £10! Book at

3rd February, Drink and Draw at Make Hamilton, Birkenhead If you want the chance to do some life drawing in a friendly atmosphere, check out this monthly class. Price includes a complimentary glass of wine and cheese plate. 6.30-8.30pm. Entry £12. Contact

7th February, Psychic Readings, The Halfway House, Childer Thornton Psychic Nights offers you a one-toone reading with one of their psychics, who do clairvoyance and Tarot readings. Pre-booking required. From 2.30pm. Readings £25 per person. Call 07950 350 810 or email

Voirrey Crafts, Carr Farm Garden Centre, Meols Our regular knitting and crochet workshops are very informal and welcome everyone, from complete beginners to those seeking a refresher course, as well as more experienced crafters. £16. Call 07887 399605 or email

THEATRE GOLD AT THE GLADSTONE Cinderella, 13th-16th January Join Hoylake & West Kirby Theatre Group as a sprinkling of fairy dust works its magic… Various times. Tickets from £8. The Grand Old Lady, 22nd January A celebration of over 125 years of football at Goodison, this play is based around the Everton Lock-Up (Prince Rupert’s Tower) which has stood on Everton Brow since 1787. 7pm. £17.50. An Evening with Liverpool Legends, 4th February HC Promotions proudly bring the stars closer to you. With John Barnes, Steve McMahon and Phil Thompson. 7.30pm. Tickets from £35 The Legends of American Country Show, 12th February Acclaimed tributes to stars including Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and Kenny Rogers. 7.30pm. £22.50

AN EDWARDIAN SOAP OPERA The Port Sunlight Experience allows visitors to not only uncover the history of this special village at the museum, but also experience what life was like over a century ago in the Edwardian Worker’s Cottage, and enjoy the story of soap at the interactive SoapWorks exhibition. Book this unique package at

19th February, The Beatones, Heswall Hall The 1960s – when Britain ruled the airwaves! Featuring songs from The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Herman’s Hermits, The Who, The Kinks, Small Faces, The Searchers and many more, this live show will transport you back to the greatest decade in music history. 7.30pm. Tickets £18 at

25th February, Night Beats, Future Yard, Birkenhead Texas psych-punks Night Beats released their fifth album, the acid-fried rock’n’roll riot Outlaw R&B in May 2021, and this promises to be a fearsome live show. 8pm. Tickets £13.75 from

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4th-6th January, Boxing Day. Orbit Cinema, Wellington Eke out Christmas with this festive feel-good movie about a British author living in the US who returns home to London to introduce his fiancée to his eccentric British-Caribbean family. Tickets £8, concessions available. 7pm. www.

6th January, Shropshire Wildlife Trust New Year Social, Ellesmere Town Hall A chance to celebrate the year with local wildlife photographs, a fun quiz, some nibbles and a few surprises! 8pm. £3 for members, £4 non-members. Booking essential. www.

6th-8th January, Beauty and The Beast, Shawbury Village Hall Shawbury Village Players are back on stage with their traditional panto, promising a fun evening out for all the family. Proof of vaccination or negative Covid test will be required for audience members, along with face masks for adults. 7.30pm. Adult £10, child £5 plus booking fee. www.

DID YOU KNOW? Back in the ’90s Steve Steinman won Stars in their Eyes as Meat Loaf

Rock ’n’ raunch at The Place There’s plenty to see at The Place, Telford, this new year. Here are some of the highlights:

Dirty Dusting, 18th January A laugh-out-loud adult comedy about three cleaning ladies threatened with redundancy, who chance upon their own idea to make some spare cash. Starring Vicky Entwhistle (Coronation Street) and Vicky Michelle (’Allo ’Allo!). Over-16s only. Tickets £24.50. Vampires Rock, 3rd February The musical sensation that has been rocking the nation for over 20 years, starring Steve Steinman. A tongue-in-cheek story

An Evening with Jasper Carrott and Alistair McGowan, 6th February The comedy legends split the bill – and your sides – with a night of stand-up and impressions. Age guidance 14+. Tickets £31.50.

Jog off your jumper

14th January, Flicks in the Sticks: No Time to Die, Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre For anyone who hasn’t seen it yet (or can’t turn down the chance to see Daniel Craig in a tux one more time) the latest James Bond outing No Time to Die (PG-13) starts at 7pm. Food and a licensed bar are available from 6pm. Adult £5, child £3, family ticket £15. Advance booking essential. www.shropshirehillsdiscovery 26th January, Autistic Bikini Queen Tour, Henry Tudor House, Shrewsbury Catch the sharptongued Scot and well-known TV persona Fern Brady in this solo stand-up performance. 8pm. Tickets £26.

and an incredible cast leave audiences dancing in the aisles. Expect over 30 of the greatest rock anthems of all time. Tickets £29.50

As the festive season draws to a close, here’s a last chance to wear your Christmas jumper! The one-mile fun run at Attingham Park on 3rd January starts at 10am, with registration from 9.30am. Runs will not be timed, but every participant will receive a medal. Accompanied children are welcome, and the route is accessible to all-terrain buggies. Booking essential. Standard entry to the park applies, plus £6 run entry.

Buzzin’ at The Hive

The Hive in Shrewsbury is screening several world cinema films throughout January and February, including Honeyland (PG-12) on 21st January. This absorbing documentary was filmed over three years and relates the life of Hatidže Muratova, one of the last independent keepers of wild bees in Europe. Tickets cost £6. To book, or to see full programme listings, visit

One for the fans…

Classic car enthusiasts can explore a wealth of traders, jumblers and service providers at the International Triumph and MG Spares Day on 22nd January at Telford International Centre. Meet fellow hobbyists and pick up tips. There may even be live restorations taking place. £14 (£11 in advance), under-12s free.

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The curious life of Marie Curie


The name Marie Curie looms large in the world DID YOU of science. The Nobel KNOW? prize-winner lived Polonium, the first an extraordinary life element Curie and made incredible found, was named discoveries against for her native unbelievable odds. Learn Poland more in this light-hearted musical comedy The Element in the Room. The award-winning show is performed by Tangram Theatre on 12th February at Wem Town Hall. 3pm. Tickets are £12 for adults, £5 for children.

Tour a distillery

For anyone not having a dry January, Henstone Distillery in Oswestry is offering tours on 29th January. Visitors will get to see the impressive 1000-litre hybrid still and learn how spirits are made. Tours are limited to 10 attendees and tickets cost £20 per person and must be booked in advance. The tour includes a G&T on arrival, a tour of the distillery and stores, tasting of all available products and a 10% discount on purchases made on the day. The tours run on other dates too. See

New life for old items

Telford Repair Cafe is one of 1,500 worldwide fighting climate change by bringing communities together to cut waste. On 29th January, it will be at Brookside Central to help mend clothing, furniture, toys, tech and electricals. Specialist repairs by arrangement. Donations welcome. 10am-2pm. www.

Crafty creatures

The Wild at Art at Maws studio has a full schedule of craft workshops throughout January and February, beginning with Recycled Wooden Animals on 9th January. The session is led by Ian Good from Tactile Timber, a Birmingham-based studio with a repurpose ethos. 11am-1pm. £35. Book via @wildatartatmaws on socials.

28th January, Beginners’ Crochet Workshop, Loudwater Community Arts Centre, Ludlow A morning workshop to get you started with crochet, from creating Granny Squares to understanding patterns. Price includes all materials and a hook to take home, to put all your newly acquired skills into practice. 10am. £20. www.


28th January, Oswestry Artisan Market A regular fixture on the last Friday of every month, selling the best in local produce including fresh pies and pastries, meat and fish, cheeses, cakes and much more. There is always something interesting to tempt you!

29th January, Burns’ Night Ball, Oswestry School Honour the famous bard at this black-tie and tartan event hosted by Friends of Oswestry School. Tickets include a three-course traditional supper, table wine and a dram of whisky. 7pm. Tickets £38, or £48 to include whisky tasting.

30th January, Bedtime Stories for Grown Ups, The Stiperstones Inn, near Shrewsbury Suki Silver Tongue straddles the worlds of storytelling and poetry in this entertaining evening, delivering decadent versions of classic tales as you’ve never heard them before. 8pm. Tickets £12.50.

The Rain or Shine Theatre Company returns to Theatre on the Steps, Bridgnorth on 4-5th February with Around the World in 80 Days. The swashbuckling tale of our hero Phileas and his valet Passepartout as they set out to win their bet and circumnavigate the globe in 80 days, in spite of the best efforts of some dastardly enemies, is played out with plenty of tomfoolery and lashings of laughs. 7.30pm. Tickets £10, concessions £7.

4th February, Carducci String Quartet, The Lion Hotel, Shrewsbury The versatile, award-winning string quartet perform their final ‘Vienna to Moscow’ concert, featuring pieces by Schubert, Beethoven and Shostakovich. 7.30pm. Tickets £19, under-25s £9.50. www.

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11th February, Darwin Day Run, Shrewsbury Sport Village Celebrate the birthday of Shrewsbury’s famous son Charles Darwin with this speed challenge event. 5k, 10k, half and full marathon options over what is expected to be a quick course. Chip-timed. 9am. Entry from £26.

Hunt for treasure in Oswestry

Oswestry Antique and Collectors Fair takes place at Oswestry Showground, Park Hall, on 19th and 20th February. You can expect to find an array of indoor and outdoor stalls offering an eclectic mix of antiques, vintage, collectibles, architectural salvage, mid-century and decorative items at affordable prices. On-site parking is free and the show is dog friendly. Admission costs £3.50 in advance or on the gate, and children go free. From 8.30am Saturday, 9am Sunday.

13th February, Jamali Maddix: King Crud, Henry Tudor House Critically acclaimed comedian Jamali Maddix, seen on C4 and BBC2, is on tour with a brand-new show, tackling more home truths and universal issues. 18+ only. 8pm. Tickets £16. www.

13th February, Darwin Memorial Lecture, Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury Robin Dunbar, Emeritus Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at Oxford University, discusses ‘Social evolution in Darwin’s World’ in this afternoon lecture, followed by audience Q&A. 2.30pm. Tickets £12.50.

18 & 19th February, Wrenbury and District Model Railway Club, Tythe Barn Community Building, Whitchurch The club will have several layouts running at this free-to-enter exhibition, adjacent to Sainsbury’s car park. Friday 6-8pm, Saturday 10am4.30pm.

January japery at Festival Drayton Centre Join one of the nation’s most soughtafter joke writers, Gary Delaney, for an evening of comedy at Festival Drayton Centre, Market Drayton on 29th January in his new show Gary in Punderland. A long-standing special guest on Mock the Week and star of Live at the Apollo, Gary has been described as having “more quality jokes in one hour than most comics have in their entire careers”. 8pm. Tickets £18. Age 16+.

Winter wander at Attingham Park •

20th February, The Royal Ballet: Romeo and Juliet (live screening), SpArc Theatre, Bishop’s Castle The modern ballet classic is shown via satellite in this matinée performance. The tale of doomed lovers is set to a moving score by Prokofiev. 2pm (includes two intervals). Tickets £8-£13.

From 8th January to 18th February young visitors to Attingham Park can enjoy Percy the Park Keeper’s Winter Wander Trail, based on the much-loved nursery character. Have fun giving Percy and his friends a helping hand as you explore the estate’s beautiful parkland, walled garden and ‘Field of Play’. Activity packs, £2, available from reception. 8.30am-3.30pm. Standard entry fee applies, pre-booking not required. www.

DID YOU KNOW? The Fair is held bi-monthly at the 34-acre site. See website for details


Eighties’ rockers Big Country bring their Wonderland tour to The Buttermarket, Shrewsbury on 14th January. Their signature sound – guitar-driven Scottish folk with pounding military-style rhythms – brought the band worldwide success in the early ’80s with the singles ‘Fields of Fire’, ‘Chance’, ‘Look Away’ and their major hit, ‘In a Big Country’. They have toured alongside many rockgreats including The Rolling Stones, U2 and The Jam. 7.30pm. Tickets cost £27.50 from

Art of the Borderland

Borderland Visual Arts presents its Art Show and New Year Open Exhibition at the Willow Gallery, Oswestry from 15th January to 5th March. Highly collectable artwork from this talented group includes sculpture, jewellery, paintings, textiles and more. Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-4pm.

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JAN & FEB 22


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DID YOU KNOW? The original Calendar Girls have raised £5 million for charity!


No need to sit out the winter at home, Shrewsbury’s Severn Theatre has something for everyone:

will have you ‘craughing’ – laughing until you cry. 2.30pm and 7.30pm. From £19. Age 12+.

Severn Jesters Comedy Club, 23rd January Discover the new stars of stand-up as the hugely popular comedy club returns. Tonight’s line-up includes Adam Rowe, Eddy Brimson, Sally Anne Hayward and Simon Lomas. 8pm. Tickets £12.

An Evening with Sir Geoff Hurst, 20th February England’s hat-trick hero talks amusingly about his career as a professional footballer with West Ham and England. 7.30pm. £26.50.

Calendar Girls The Musical, 3rd-6th February True story of one WI group’s extraordinary fund-raising escapade. Tim Firth and Gary Barlow’s musical

South Shropshire run is Icing on the Cake

Ray Mears: We Are Nature, 22nd February The survival expert shows how to improve your senses and highlights the problems facing nature today. 7.30pm. Tickets £27.


22nd February, Guided tour of Acton Scott Hall and grounds The Acton family continues to care for the historic house and grounds in South Shropshire and a family member will lead the tour. 10.30am-12.30pm. Tickets £20 (includes refreshments).

The Angel Gallery, Broseley This intimate independent gallery is open Wednesdays to Saturdays 11am-5pm. Refreshments are available. Entrance is free, and advance booking is not essential.

Fitness enthusiasts can enjoy trail running at its best on 5th February with the Icing on the Cake run – full and halfmarathon routes across the Shropshire Hills. 8.30am/9am start. Entry £35/£32 includes a medal and refreshments. Parking £2 at Church Stretton School. Booking via

The Shrewsbury Concert Band will perform an uplifting programme of music from stage and screen at The Silvester Horne Institute, Church Stretton on 21st January. Fancy dress is optional – come as a character from the featured shows: Chicago, Pirates of the Caribbean, Mission Impossible or Frozen, anyone? 7.30pm. Tickets £12 plus booking fee, includes a welcome drink. Book in advance at Church Stretton council offices or online at

The best of body art

On 5th-6th February Telford International Centre hosts Tattoo Freeze, a convention for all admirers of body art. As well as the opportunity to get some new ink, expect live music, burlesque and magic shows, plus plenty of stalls to browse. Resident tatooists are offering booked slots in advance and fewer ‘walk-ups’, so check how your chosen artist is working. Advance weekend tickets £20, under-18s free (with paying adult).

Family fun at Shropshire Kids Fest

Fun is guaranteed at Shropshire Kids Fest on 26th-27th February. Among the host of activities on offer at Telford International Centre are giant inflatables, a silent disco, STEM activities, Nerf wars, baking, arts and crafts, and an under-fives zone. Covid safety guidelines in place. Family ticket £35 (online).

Holly Farm Garden Centre, Whitchurch Thinking ahead to preparing your garden for spring? Holly Farm Garden Centre is open Monday-Saturday 9am5.30pm and Sunday 10am-4pm. Treat yourself to a cuppa and a slice of homemade cake in the café, which offers indoor and outdoor seating. www.

Weekends at Wroxeter Roman City Roman Britain’s fourth largest town is open at weekends during winter. Take an audio tour to learn all about the site, abandoned in the 7th century. 10am-4pm. Ticket prices vary according to peak/non-peak times.

Whitchurch Walkers This walking group offers two regular walks per month, as well as small group walks and occasional mid-week walks. New members are always welcome. For details visit www.

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Small town with big ideas Oswestry may not be the largest of places, but for growth, appeal and local status it certainly packs a punch particularly for eye complaints. Other historians argue that the Shropshire town was named after Oswy, Oswald’s brother, who battled King Penda here in 655. Whoever is right, one thing is sure – people have lived and thrived here throughout history, with the oldest settlement, Old Oswestry, being one of the most well-preserved Iron Age hill forts in Britain.

DID YOU KNOW? The very first Iceland food store opened its doors here in 1970!

Modern times

Enticing alleyways encourage you to explore


estled on the England/Wales border, midway between Wrexham and Shrewsbury, Oswestry has a mixed heritage that it is proud to shout about. The name Oswestry was first recognised in 1191 as the Middle English version, Oswaldestroe, which derives from the name Oswald and the word for tree, treow. Some records suggest ‘treow’ could have meant cross, so there is ambiguity – but we know for certain who Oswald was, and it’s a grisly tale. King Oswald of Northumbria died at the Battle of Maserfeld in 642 and legend suggests that his dismembered arm was carried by a raven to an ash tree, bestowing upon the tree miraculous powers. At the same time a spring, called Oswald’s Well, is supposed to have leapt from the spot where the bird dropped the arm, and the water was believed to have healing properties,

strong military connections, as a base for Canadian troops after 1945, and then as the home of the Royal Artillery until 1975. And war poet Wilfred Owen was born here.

Homes and halls

The town has preserved some beautiful architecture, not least the Guildhall, meeting place of Oswestry Town Council, which was completed in 1893. Brogyntyn Hall belonged until recently to the Lords Harlech; its future is currently under debate. Other local attractions include Cae Glas Park, Shelf Bank, Wilfred Owen Green, Oswestry Castle and the Cambrian Railways Museum. There’s a world-leading orthopaedic hospital and some of the best schools in the country. Canal, rail and road links in all directions add to the town’s appeal, while the former racecourse is a haven for wildlife.

Skipping forward several centuries, Oswestry was mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086, granted a market charter in 1109, changed hands between England and Wales multiple times, was burnt almost to the ground in 1400, was held siege by Royalists in 1644 and claimed by Parliamentarians, before being left to get on with developing into the town we know today. With a population of around 18,000, it still boasts a large The imposing entrance to Cae Glas Park number of ancient structures and historic buildings, and it is THINGS TO SEE AND DO still a market town – although after the foot and mouth outbreak in the late 1960s, the Oswestry Town Museum The Guildhall, Bailey Head, Oswestry SY11 1PZ livestock market was moved out of the centre. Park Hall estate on the outskirts, now Cambrian Railways Museum home to a children’s farm, was used by the The Old Station, Oswald Rd, Oswestry SY11 1RE Army for training in both world wars, but Park Hall Countryside Experience in the intervening years became well known Park Hall, Oswestry SY11 4AS as a motorcycle racing circuit. The town has

36 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2022

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Family Run Business trading in Oswestry for 32 years.

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If you have a show in the Shire area, we can send a reviewer – and your show can appear on these pages too! Email editorial@ Get in touch! Discover what Shire’s team thought of the concerts, live events and theatre shows they’ve seen over the past couple of months at local venues


experience, but highlights were definitely Eric Potts as the dame in the role of Widow Twankey, and John Evans, who had the audience in stitches with Wishee Washee’s oneHaving been forced into missing panto last year, it was liners and daft antics. Connor McAllister delivered another a treat to head back to Venue Cymru with the family for our superb character as the camp and colourful genie, complete usual festive outing of seasonal with twinkly kilt and glittery silliness. And what silliness there was. Perhaps garments, and the whole cast we had forgotten how bad the seemed to be as “We jokes always are, delighted to be laughed back on stage as or perhaps we from we were to be in were just giddy beginning the audience. at being back There were in the theatre to end” some spectacular surrounded by ensemble pieces, other people. some excellent Either way, we solo songs and of course plenty laughed from beginning to end of slapstick moments and of this fabulously over-thetheatrical ‘blunders’ to keep top production of Aladdin. us giggling all the way home. Stellar performances from Overall it was a great night out. several of the cast made Oh yes it was. KS HHHHH it a thoroughly enjoyable Eric Potts wowed as Widow Twankey


Teenagers weren’t left out: a fairground with high-speed rides kept them entertained. The 1.2-mile trail took us Christmas light trails are now the thing to do over the along the lakeside against the backdrop of Bolesworth festive period. Lots of people Castle. Father Christmas’s feel safer being outdoors and reindeer were waiting to greet the idea of mulled wine and us, and the trail also took twinkling lights drew more out than ever this year. in the sculpture garden. For adults enjoying the Bolesworth experience without House is the “Spend children, there was an latest venue to an hour exclusive Champagne host its own sipping Island – you could light event, and bubbly and travel across the there was much lake to spend up to to enjoy. A enjoying an hour away from range of festive the view” the hubbub, sipping stalls sold food glasses of bubbly and and drink – hot enjoying the view of the lights. chocolate, hog roast, cocktails You could easily spend a and sweet treats. A mini couple of hours at Bolesworth, festive market also had gifts but your ticket only includes for last-minute shoppers. the light trail. There are extra A synthetic ice rink offered charges for the ice skating, support penguins for nonmeeting Father Christmas, skaters, while little ones the fairground – and all that could meet the man himself Champagne! AB HHH in the grotto next door.

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The pandemic has hit the live entertainment industry hard, so it’s wonderful to have pantomime back on the theatre calendar. A return to live shows at the Crewe Lyceum did not disappoint. Sleeping Beauty was bursting with

Wes Webster Photography


“A great production… bursting with energy, fun and laughter” energy, fun and laughter. The heartwarming show saw comedian Bobby Davro as Muddles the court jester, alongside X-Factor star Amelia Lily as Princess Beauty. Malcolm Lord

MARK WATSON: THIS CAN’T BE IT AT FESTIVAL DRAYTON CENTRE “I was booked nearly two years ago,” Mark Watson quipped as he greeted the audience. “I’ve been advertised so many times I suppose you couldn’t avoid coming!” The theme for Watson’s This Can’t Be It tour arose when he couldn’t sleep and Googled ‘When will I die?’ There’s an app for that, it seems. Watson admitted he didn’t answer all the lifestyle questions truthfully, but even

so discovered that at 41 he was over halfway through. Watson’s banter was witty and good-hearted, and he channelled his neuroses brilliantly. When his 11-yearold son Googled Watson’s name, apparently, up came the option: ‘What is the point of Mark Watson?’ To make people laugh is the no-brainer of an answer. JH ★★★★

ANTONINA SUHANOVA PIANO TRIO AT FESTIVAL DRAYTON CENTRE Piano trios by Beethoven and Brahms captivated Market Drayton’s Festival Centre audience from the first note to the last, holding it as if spellbound throughout an enthralling performance. The magic was created by pianist Antonina Suhanova and violinist Sabine Sergejeva, both

from Latvia, and cellist Toby White. Their fresh, exuberant playing suited the exhilarating music, written early in the lives of both composers. The exchanges between the young performers were expressive and soulful, affecting many in their older audience. JH ★★★★★

returned to the stage as Queen Alexandra, and Bethany Alice Black played Carabosse, the wicked fairy. Chris Durtnal as Prince Harry of Haslington and Isabella Mason as the Good Fairy were fine support. Davro thrilled the audience with his cheeky antics and oldschool humour. He had something for everyone – children and adults were both entertained. Amelia Lily was the perfect princess. She was charismatic and showed us why she made it so far on the X-Factor with her amazing voice. There was plenty of action, and hilarious costume choices for Queen Alexandra and Muddles. The ensemble of professional dancers was fabulous too. The highlight was a rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas, props thrown into the audience adding to the fun. Everyone left with a smile. A great production, with a perfect balance of storytelling and song. AB ★★★★

MISTER SHAKESPEARE BRINGS THE BARD’S TALES TO THEATRE SEVERN, SHREWSBURY The stage is simple, the story created The Eva Cassidy Story, Shakespeare is explored as is not. Mister Shakespeare is the man, the father, the actor, a supermarket dash through and the entrepreneur. The the mind of the Great Bard. Set in London in 1606, the solitary actor on stage – all the story plays out as a plague other characters are merely voices through a window or spreads death while bewildered door from the streets below citizens try any quack remedy – here we see to halt its progress. Sound familiar? a very human “He’s Mister William Shakespeare. basically Ambitious, Shakespeare is troubled, funny, isolated in his a man loving, trying rooms to avoid in to make sense contagion, hassled lockdown” by voices from of the chaos the outside world. around him. He’s basically Actors shout for new roles, playwrights in lockdown, trying his best to get through with all that and contemporaries beg to collaborate, his brother whines his mind throws upon him. for help, his wife wants her I was drawn into this tale marriage back, his lover want… and felt as though I was there with him, hoping he wouldn’t love, and the great man feels be driven mad by the demons guilt and frustration over all clamouring at him. Willing these things as his waking and sleeping hours are disturbed. him to “work, work’”and get it In this new play by Michael all out on paper into the tales we cherish today. CB ★★★ Barry, from the team who January/February 2022 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 39

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November/December 2021 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 40

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o i d u r F o ag e t


Fresh from the latest series final, Strictly’s Anton Du Beke is heading back out onto the dancefloor with fellow professional Erin Boag. With tour dates on the doorstep, in Liverpool and Manchester, Shire asked about their plans


t’s been a long time coming, but the nation’s favourite ballroom couple are back on the dancefloor with a brand-new tour. Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag have been beloved household names since they appeared on the very first episode of Strictly Come Dancing back in 2004 and are still as popular as ever, both on screen and in a live setting. Regular fixtures up and down the country, their incredible touring productions have to be seen to be believed. Along with the rest of the world of live entertainment, the pair had to postpone their 2021 tour due to coronavirus restrictions, but they are delighted to be back, starting 2022 with a performance that is sure to be worth the wait – Showtime.

Puttin’ on the glitz

With stunning costumes, fabulous live vocals, a high-energy West End dance ensemble and a sensational 23-piece orchestra, Showtime is a glittering celebration that pays tribute to some of the world’s greatest icons of entertainment. It’s inspired by an array of classic performers including Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Judy Garland, Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Liza Minnelli and many more. Anton says: “The bottom line is you’re putting on a show that’s entertaining, where people will go home saying: ‘What a great night!’, so you don’t want to reinvent the wheel with obscure music or make it a contemporary dance thing, because that’s not what it says on the tin: it says Showtime. So the music has to be familiar. There may be pieces people won’t immediately recognise, or won’t have heard for a time, but they’ll still love them as they are iconic pieces. The choreography has to be spectacular, too. Even the dresses are iconic. So what’s being played, and what you’re seeing, everything has to come together. We want people just to be able to sit down comfortably and be whisked away.”

The very beginning

Anton and Erin were part of the Strictly phenomenon from the start, but both were wary in the early days as they had

“It’s a glittering celebration that pays tribute to some of the world’s greatest icons of entertainment”

no idea what the series would become. Erin says: “We had heard it was in the pipeline, but it had always just been Come Dancing before that, which sort of concerned us. That had been off the air for 15 years and was very dated. Ballroom dancing had moved on massively and we were worried they were going to take the mickey out of it! “We were at the peak of our professional career and were told the BBC were doing something with it and to put in our names. So, we had to decide if we wanted to be a part of it, but Anton said, ‘I’d rather be a part of it and know what’s going on than not at all.’” Anton nods. “We’re all prone to not getting involved in something and then complaining about it. I felt it was better for us to be involved, even if we thought it was going to be a car crash, as potentially we could, with our experience, help steer it away from that happening.” It didn’t take long for both dancers to realise they were onto something huge. Anton says: “It felt it right from series one – certainly judging from the fans. There were such huge viewing figures by the end of that first run, and immediately there was a huge upturn in interest in the show. As a by-product, you get well known – that’s all part of it. It was lovely though, and I enjoyed it from the off. I’ve loved it, in fact.” Tickets to see Anton and Erin perform together live in Liverpool on 19th February, and in Manchester on 20th February, are available from January/February 2022 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 41

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DID YOU KNOW? The UK’s Climate Change Committee website is a fantastic resource. See


With the Glasgow climate change summit still fresh in our minds and the environmental impact of everything we do under scrutiny, Shire takes a look at what is at stake and how we can help avoid a climate catastrophe

WHAT IS CLIMATE CHANGE? Planet Earth has seen many climate changes in its 4.55 billion years. For example, 27,000 years ago most of Britain was covered in ice and glaciers. Although changes to the climate are natural, current changes are a result of increasing human populations and activities. When talking about climate in relation to human activities, climate change can be said to mean the build-up of man-made gases in the atmosphere which trap the sun’s heat, causing unnatural alterations in weather patterns around the world.


t the end of last year climate change was the hot (excuse the pun) topic on everyone’s lips. The COP26 summit brought all things environmental to the forefront of the media and nations united in pledging to do more to help avert a natural disaster. But many of us still don’t really understand what it was all about and exactly what is at stake. Over the next few pages we’ll look at how the climate is changing and what it could mean for our area, as well as thinking about what changes we could all make to help the situation. First of all, let us explain more about the COP26…

money available to deliver on these aims. The ‘Paris Agreement’ was born. Countries committed to national plans setting out how much they would reduce their emissions – known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs. They agreed that every five years they would come back with an updated plan, and COP26 was the first time this would happen.

HOW IT WENT In general, COP26 was seen to be a success, with over 100 nations pledging to end deforestation by 2030. Some 28 countries signed up to the new forests, agriculture and commodity trade ‘road map of action’ and 45 governments pledged urgent action to protect nature and shift to more sustainable ways of farming. Over 100 countries pledged to reduce methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030. It was generally agreed that work to keep climate increases to 1.5 degrees at most was vital and most countries reaffirmed their pledge to do this. But it’s not just up to governments to make a difference – every one of us can make small changes that have a big impact on the future of our planet.

“Every one of us can make small changes that have a big impact on the future of our planet”

SUMMIT GOING ON COP26 was the 2021 United Nations climate change conference. For nearly three decades the UN has been bringing together almost every country on Earth for global climate summits called COPs, which stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’. In that time, climate change has gone from being a fringe issue to a global priority. Last year’s summit, held in Glasgow, was the 26th annual summit – hence COP26 – and it had a unique importance thanks to a previous summit, COP21, which took place in Paris in 2015. Something momentous happened at the Paris conference. For the first time, every country agreed to work together to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees and to aim for 1.5 degrees, to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate and make

WHAT IS CAUSING IT? Greenhouse gases are the cause of climate change, the most well-known being carbon dioxide or CO2. Others are methane, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide and water vapour. These substances are not all bad – we need some of them to survive – and without them the world would be 33°C colder than it is now. Life would not be possible. The trouble now is that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is higher than it would be naturally, and this is changing the world’s climate. In general, the planet is getting hotter. In some places it is also getting wetter. Others are getting windier, or drier. For example, the Sahara Desert is expanding and it is likely that this will continue due to climate change.

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WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR YOU? It might be hard to understand the impact the climate crisis will have on all of us, but there are worrying reasons we should act before big changes close to home


he first victims of extreme climate issues are likely to be tropical island nations or those living in extreme hot or cold climates where change is already being seen. But if we don’t act soon, these changes will be visible and felt across the Shire patch. We’ve spoken to some experts who have explained the potential impacts in some areas. According to oceanographers Dr Yueng-Dern Lenn, from Chester, and Dr Mattias Green, from Glan Conwy, the rising sea levels could cut North Wales’s main A55 road link, wash away railways, swamp holiday resorts and threaten businesses along the coast by the end of this century. The pair, who have worked with leading experts from around the world studying the oceans, their weather and climate and the challenges faced by the communities that live on their shores, have included their warnings in 30 Second Oceans, the book they edited and published last year. Featuring eminent contributors from around the world, it covers 50 topics about the challenges facing our seas and coastlines. Dr Green, originally from Gothenburg, in Sweden, has highlighted the threat to North Wales and he said: “Here our major infrastructure links, the North Wales Expressway and the main railway line, are very close to the coast and already flood due to heavy rain. They will be at risk as sea levels rise. A combination of heavy rain and a storm surge from the sea and we’ll be in trouble. The railway line would go first. Between Bangor and Llandudno would be the first section affected, and there are places along the North Wales coast that will flood, particularly in North West Wales. There and along the Dee estuary there are thousands of static caravans and a major industrial area at Deeside which could be affected. We have already seen the Conwy Valley railway line, which runs four or five trains a day, closed several times in recent years and the track has been washed away by flooding. Add in a rise in sea level and it will be worse so it is inevitable that flood defences will have to be put in place at very high cost.”

DID YOU KNOW? The world’s oceans hold an estimated 352 quintillion gallons of water (18 noughts, in case you’re wondering) Take a tour of the world’s oceans

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE… Coastal flooding around the world is set to rise by 50 per cent over the next 80 years, with millions of homes and businesses facing an uncertain future because of rising sea levels. Northern Europe, including the UK, is likely to be among the worst affected areas. Dr Lenn, originally from Singapore and a graduate of the University of San Diego in California, said: “We have already seen just south of Barmouth where the local council have decided they can’t defend a community from the sea. It’s like the parable about not building a house on sand. Living by the sea is all well and good, but the challenge for the UK is the effect of more extreme weather on where we live and where the sea starts.” And it is not just humans that will suffer if climate change is not brought under control, as animal experts have explained. Dr Cath Price, of Shropshire Wildlife Trust, has issued a video warning available on YouTube, where she explains the creatures most at risk. She points out that all of the top 10 warmest years on record have been since 2002, the warmest decade was the last one and the 21st century has been the warmest of the last three. “The ice sheets are melting and what goes up must come down,” she said. This has added to severe flooding. One of the most notable changes can be seen in our own gardens, which now have to be mowed earlier and later in the year as the growing season lengthens. Dr Price said that so far Shropshire habitats aren’t as badly affected as the Grampians or more extreme environments, but that some species are in danger of dying out, including some types of bee that live on the Long Mynd and Caer Caradoc, which are losing out as their environments change. Butterfies are also at risk from severe weather – heavy showers can destroy them when they are needing to migrate. “Most importantly we have to look after the habitats we have,” she said. “By looking after our wild places and special habitats we can give creatures time to adapt to changing conditions.”

“Coastal flooding around the world is set to rise by 50% over the next 80 years”

Dr Green with his colleague and co-author Dr Lenn

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There are plenty of ways governments and nations can agree to make big changes – but little changes from us can make a huge impact too


ackling the climate crisis comes down to several key factors, and most of us already play a part in most of them – whether we know it or not. So it’s up to us to do our bit to change our ways and help save the planet. First of all we need to change the amount of energy we use, how it is produced and how it is released into the atmosphere, perhaps by considering the following steps:

1. ELECTRICITY If you’re leaving lights on when you don’t need them, turn them off. Switch off electrical appliances at the wall, don’t leave them on standby. The less power we use, the less CO2 will be used in producing it.

2. HEATING There’s a good chance that your central heating and hot water system uses a gas boiler, so whenever the boiler is on, it’s burning gas and releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Try turning your heating thermostat down a degree or two – the ideal is 18-20°C. If you feel a bit chilly indoors in winter, try putting on a jumper first, don’t just turn up the heat.

3. INSULATION Once you have heated your home, it’s also important to keep that heat inside. So you could think about eliminating draughts, fitting heat-reflective panels behind radiators to make them more efficient and keeping doors and windows closed to keep the heat in and the cold out.

4. SUPPLY Consider switching to a green energy supplier for your home’s electricity and gas. We still use fossil fuels like gas to generate a lot of our electricity here in the UK, but there are several 100 per cent renewable tariffs around now. If you want to take this a step further you could think about installing renewable energy for your home. You can use solar heating panels to make hot water and photovoltaic panels to generate electricity. You could also consider greener heating alternatives like air-sourrce or ground-source heat pumps, which use far less energy and emit less carbon dioxide than gas boilers. 44 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2022

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5. TRAVEL Another huge area of concern is transport, so we should all think about how – and how often – we travel. Ideally we could choose to walk or take a bus or train, rather than going in the car, or even consider swapping our vehicle for a less-carbon-emitting electric one. Going on holiday closer to home would have a massive impact by cutting down on air travel. Every passenger on a long-haul return flight adds over a tonne of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere through burning jet fuel – that’s almost half of the annual CO2 emissions of an average UK citizen!

DID YOU KNOW? You can download traffic-free routes at

6. DIET Our food is another big contributor to the climate change situation. Cows and sheep produce large amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas that’s over 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Because methane breaks down in the atmosphere, its impact reduces to about 28 times that of the same amount of carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. But that’s not all, because many farm animals in the UK are fed with soya, much of which is grown in South America on land that has been cleared of rainforest. So eating less meat, especially beef and lamb, and cutting down on dairy products, makes a big difference to the climate crisis as well as to loss of habitats and wildlife around the world.

“We still use fossil fuels like gas to generate a lot of our electricity here in the UK, but there are several 100 per cent renewable tariffs around now”

7. HAVE YOUR SAY We can all make small changes, but as we’ve already said, we need entire governments to take big steps to tackle the climate emergency. So if you want to see changes made on a higher level – tell them! Write to the government, your MP and local action groups and see who is doing what and how you can help. Make sure you understand the different policies of different political parties and use your vote to make your feelings known – or even join a peaceful protest to demonstrate.

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THE GOOD NEWS Before you start panicking about the state of the planet, we want to reassure you positive things are being achieved – and across the Shire patch in particular there are great reasons to be hopeful


s a country, the UK has a lot to be proud of when it comes to acting on climate change. Between 1990 and 2019, we achieved record ‘clean growth’ – our economy grew by 78 per cent and our emissions decreased by 44 per cent, the fastest decline among the G7 nations. We have also decarbonised our economy faster than any other country in the G20 since 2000. And we were the first major economy to put into law that we will reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. We are the largest producer of offshore wind energy in the world – with huge amounts being sourced from the North Wales coast – and we have vowed to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars here by 2030, putting the UK on course to be the fastest G7 country to decarbonise cars and vans. What’s more, there are plans to plant trees on 30,000 hectares of land per year by 2025. So as a nation we are leading the world in tackling and adapting to climate change. At the same time, we are recognising this is a major economic opportunity for the UK, which will create new, skilled jobs. In Wales this is a crucial part of the country’s development as it has access not only to incredible natural resources along its coasts but also to environmental and technology experts and intelligence from its various climate knowledge hubs.

“Wales can become a UK hub for this exciting new power source, with other hydrogen projects ongoing on Deeside in Flintshire and at Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire”

STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION Anglesey has already been identified as a location with the potential to transform our energy supply and provide hydrogen technology across North Wales and beyond. Dr Jones, from Bangor University’s Business School said: “The UK Government made £4.8 million available to develop hydrogen power in North West Wales and that will help social enterprise Menter Môn develop the technology in the region and also support the economy.” Jones believes that North Wales has the infrastructure to make it the UK’s hydrogen capital, and added: “China, the EU nations and the USA see hydrogen as the rock star of new energies and are busy establishing a hydrogen economy. This is an exciting field and North Wales can be at the centre of it.

LEADING THE WAY “Wales can become a UK hub for this exciting new power source, with other hydrogen projects ongoing on Deeside in Flintshire and at Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire,” he added. “What makes Anglesey important is that we have the potential link with other renewable projects in the region, such as the tidal potential of the Morlais project at Holyhead that Menter Môn is also involved with.” Dr Jones believes hydrogen could also hold the key to powering transpOrt in future, through a Welsh invention from the 19th century – the hydrogen fuel cell was developed in Swansea by William Grove in 1842. Current electric car batteries are made using lithium and cobalt, chemicals that are difficult to extract and have major environmental hazards associated with them. They are also almost impossible to recycle. He added: “Hydrogen fuel cells provide a possible solution to the challenge of needing to transform the transport sector and because it is the most common element on earth, supply is not a problem. A vehicle powered by a hydrogen fuel cell could cover up to 500 miles, recharge in 15 minutes and instead of carbon monoxide produce only steam. In North West Wales we’ve enough potential for green energy to be able to manufacture hydrogen through renewable energy. “The world is uniting to fight climate change and North Wales is playing a vital part in keeping the planet on course for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.”

DID YOU KNOW? From March every household in Wales is being given its own tree to plant. Tree-ific news!

Bangor University economist Dr Edward Jones, left, and Menter Môn chief executive Dafydd Gruffydd

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When it comes to setting a good example, one local man has not only spent his career tackling climate change head on, he’s taken all the knowledge he has gained to inform his home situation too Martin and Caroline Schwaller with David Jones of Haford Renewables, at their home


hen Martin Schwaller worked for one of the UK’s biggest pub chains, he turned them green by slashing the firm’s multi-million pound annual electricity bills. Now he is doing the same, albeit on a smaller scale, by turning his Anglesey home into a renewables paradise. While he was working as renewables and sustainability manager for hospitality giants Mitchells & Butlers, whose 1,800 pubs and restaurants include Toby Carvery, Harvester and All Bar One, Martin made some huge changes. He said: “We’ve always been keen on green energy and when I was at Mitchells & Butlers their bills were so big they used to buy energy on the futures market. They spent £93 million a year and they had to pay for the 30,000 tons of carbon they produced annually, so I was able to save them a huge

amount by replacing old heating systems, putting in LED lighting and by encouraging a huge behaviour change programme among the 40,000 staff to make them aware of how to make savings.” So it’s only natural that in his retirement Martin and his wife Caroline follow the same green principles.

“Hafod have done a great job for us, which is why we’re having them back for a third time. I make pottery in a studio at the house and I even run the potter’s wheel and the kiln off green energy. This kind of technology is definitely the way forward for all homes”

DID YOU KNOW? 25% of electricity generated in Wales now comes from renewable sources


Award-winning Hafod Renewables is about to carry out its third installation for the couple. It installed air-source and solar systems at the 18th-century cottage they bought near Elim, and returned to do the same again at their new home, a five-acre property near Burwen. They also fitted underfloor heating and soon they’ll be back to put on more solar photovoltaic panels and a 9kw storage battery that should make the house carbon neutral – and save a lot of money. Hafod Renewables’ second installation for the couple was their 1,000th since the firm was set up by managing director David Jones, a graduate in renewable energy, and his late father Richard in 2010 when the concept of renewables-powered domestic homes was in its infancy. A decade later the company is among the UK’s leaders in the field and covers an area from Anglesey and Gwynedd across North Wales and into Cheshire, Staffordshire and Shropshire.

SUPER-POWERED David said: “We looked at ground source heating but due to the island being on rock it would have been impracticable to excavate. Anglesey has high annual air temperatures so the air-source system will be super-efficient, and we also installed 16 solar PV panels on a barn which generates 25kw of electricity a year. Underfloor heating works really well from the air-source and provides hot water, with electricity supplied via 16 solar panels on an outbuilding. It really makes sense for homes where there isn’t mains gas but even where there is prices have risen and renewable options are likely to become more and more attractive financially in the future.” Martin added: “Hafod has done a great job for us. I make pottery in a studio at the house and I even run the potter’s wheel and the kiln off green energy. This kind of technology is definitely the way forward for all homes. It is future proofing, not just for individuals but for the planet as a whole. I don’t know why the Government doesn’t just pay to put solar panels on every south-facing roof in the country – it would be the cheapest solution to the energy crisis.” January/February 2022 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 47

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LOOKING UP AFTER LOCKDOWN The pandemic put the country and citizens into unknown territory. Whilst many worried about their jobs, what happened with the people who provide some of those jobs?

“It was a brand-new set of circumstances I never had to confront before. I couldn’t see at the time of the announcement how we would get through this” Steve Burgin, owner of Steven Burgin Hairdressing in Nantwich

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“My main concerns were with my staff; keeping their jobs safe and giving them the support they needed” Beth Heath, owner and director of Fun at Shropshire Festivals, based in Ironbridge

COMPLETE SHOCK It came as a compete shock to David Easton, manager of Tweedmill shopping outlet in St Asaph. “To close a whole country… It was a time of fear and a lot of uncertainty. It was very sad to see the business close down not knowing if or when we would re-open.”

Beth Heath drew on her naturally positive outlook to stay hopeful


hat evening in March 2020 was unreal to pretty much everyone watching the PM’s statement – go home, stay at home, and leave only for essential reasons such as buying food and exercising once per day. People who had painstakingly built up their businesses and spent all of their time making sure customers were welcome were now told to lock the doors, for how long nobody knew. We spoke to the owners of a variety of businesses to ask about the impact that the pandemic and resulting shutdowns had on them, and their feelings about what’s next – which are remarkably upbeat! Beth Heath is the owner and director of Fun at Shropshire Festivals, based in Ironbridge. “It was a really worrying time, but I’m ever the optimist and hoped that by the summer we would be back enjoying festivals and events,” she told us. “How wrong was I! My main concerns were with my staff; keeping their jobs safe and giving them the support they needed, as well as looking after my own family.”

In Wrexham, Jenny Rawson, salon director of Lavender House of Beauty, was filled with uncertainty. “I hadn’t been through anything like this in the 21 years I’ve been in business!” she said. “I thought that the Government were going to have to do something to help out, which in part they did.” Steve Burgin, owner of Steven Burgin Hairdressing in Nantwich, was initially very fearful for his business. “It was a brand-new set of circumstances I never had to confront before. I couldn’t see at the time of the announcement how we would get through this.”

“It was very sad to see the business close down not knowing if or when we would re-open” David Easton, manager of Tweedmill Shopping Outlet in St Asaph

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“It was a desperately worrying time, for us and our customers” Claire Moore, managing director of Peakes Travel Elite in Shrewsbury

Claire Moore of Peakes

DID YOU KNOW? By the end of 2020 the world was spending 3.3 trillion minutes a year in Zoom meetings!

industry, closing borders right around the world and making most travel to and from the UK illegal for months on end, putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk.”


Top: social distancing became the norm for Claire and her team, while in Bayston Hill David Preston scaled up home deliveries

BREXIT CHAOS The lockdown news followed an already tough time for Peakes Travel Elite in Shrewsbury. Managing director Claire Moore was coping with all the chaos of Brexit, not to mention the recent flooding to Shrewbury town centre. “It was a desperately worrying time, for us and our customers,” she explained. “Peakes has suffered a big impact on sales as a result of the pandemic. We had to pour resources into re-booking and cancelling holidays whilst travel restrictions continued. It’s been a really tough 19 months in the travel sector. “Our travel agency is classed as non-essential retail, so the shop had to close over the lockdowns, but during that time our customers still needed our support, which meant putting a full team on furlough was not an option for us. Our dedication to customer service is the foundation of our offering and there was simply no way we couldn’t compromise that. The team have had to prioritise supporting our existing customers to re-arrange, refund and re-book holidays, through a period with severely reduced new bookings. “The pandemic has been a catastrophe for the wider travel

As a food store, Daisy & Tilly’s in Bayston Hill, near Shrewsburyremained open throughout. “But that wasn’t without challenge,” said owner David Preston. “I was sourcing significant additional product, scaling up home deliveries and managing restrictions and precautions in the shop itself.” The Government and local authorities offered financial help including grants, loans, furlough and SEISS. Beth told us it wasn’t possible to put the whole team on furlough; they still needed to plan for events, as they had no idea how long the restrictions would go on for. “We were very lucky to eventually receive cash from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, which gave us the resources to plan for our 2021 events,” she said. Claire was frustrated that while some sectors received tailored support such as specific grant schemes, many travel businesses were excluded from the general support available and others only able to access the bare minimum.

A HARD PILL “Whilst some sectors have had lots of support, the Government has been telling people not to travel, which has been a hard pill to swallow for travel businesses,” she explained. “We have no other means of generating income. If people don’t travel then we don’t make any money, it’s as simple as that. We were able to furlough some staff, but we couldn’t furlough everyone as our customers still needed our support.” David Preston received a Small Business Grant. “This was largely spent on expanding staffing hours, PPE and other costs associated with the significant impact on the business, including covering the cost of staff isolating at various points,” he said. “There were several financial initiatives that were hugely helpful,” said Eddie Davies, of United Carpets in Crewe. “My

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local authority, Cheshire East Council, offered a Small Business Grant which went a long way to covering the rent and other fixed costs whilst we were closed. My staff were furloughed and I topped that up so they were not missing any pay.”

GOVERNMENT MOVES Other Government moves were not so helpful. “They made changes without having the correct rules in place,” explained David Easton. “Some rules didn’t make sense. Two that stick out are the county lockdown, and the one where you could only have a soft drink when you went to eat out. “But from a personal point of view furlough was a godsend. It doesn’t bear thinking about what state we would all have been in now if the scheme hadn’t been put in place.” Beth was relieved that many events and venues were thrown a lifeline with the culture recovery grants, commenting that without them the state of live cultural events would be much bleaker now. The vaccination roll-out has also been great, she added. “But so much could have been done better. With the constant changing of rules and moving of goal posts, it has been impossible to forward plan through the pandemic, which is really tough for a small family-run business such as Shropshire Festivals.”

VACCINE ROLLOUT Claire agreed that whilst the speed of the vaccine roll-out was incredible, “the mixed messages, constant rule changes, releasing new guidance with no warnings – often on weekends when we couldn’t speak to anyone – and lack of clear information made it impossible to manage the situation efficiently.” “The furlough scheme helped lots of small businesses, as for many it would have been impossible to meet payroll with no money coming in,” Eddie told us. “I know a lot of self-employed people who were helped by the SEISS grants. But as many small business owners were encouraged to pay themselves via dividends (on which you still pay tax) they were not included in either furlough or SEISS so had no income at all. It was awful for them.”

“The vaccination roll-out has been great, but so much could have been done better”

Scenes from the pandemic: neighbourhood schemes, Zoom meetings, queues (oh the queues!) and more time for the little things

COMMUNITY SPIRIT During the lockdowns most people were at home, but as a food business Daisy & Tilly’s were open seven days a week, working flat out. “We were helped by a number of volunteers who delivered food orders to the vulnerable and others who were isolating, showing great community spirit,” David Preston said. “It was also great to see customers patiently and cheerfully queuing, often in the rain, so that we could manage the social distancing in the shop.” With the Tweedmill shopping outlet closed, David Easton made the most of it! “The first lockdown was great: spending more time with the children, getting all the projects finished around the house and garden,” he said. “Zoom chats with friends made the most of an uncertain situation. The next lockdowns were not as enjoyable as we were stuck in the house as it was winter. I certainly wouldn’t have liked to be living alone during lockdown.” Beth is always on the go, travelling around the county meeting sponsors, exhibitors, clients and networking. For her the lockdown meant more time at home, more time with the kids and more time getting jobs done around the farm.


“Once the shop was locked up and I knew that the staff would continue to be paid, there was not much point in worrying about it,” said Eddie. “A week or so into lockdown I got the shovel out and said to my wife, okay, where do you want his pond you’ve been talking about? Although if I’d known how hard it would be to dig, I don’t think I’d have suggested it!” Claire thought it was fantastic to spend time at home with the kids, “but the ongoing situation at work, rebooking holidays, reassuring customers, not knowing when sales would return was tough, so it was hard to enjoy it as much as I wanted to.” DID YOU Re-opening after lockdown meant complying with a raft of legislation and recommendations. KNOW? At Tweedmill they ensured their customers and staff Around 129 billion felt safe. “We implemented a one-way system,” said David face masks are used Easton, “and had a member of staff on the door asking around the world everyone to sanitise their hands and make sure facemasks every month! were worn. There were also sanitising stations around the Dispose of yours store. We had 2m distancing measures throughout using thoughtfully lots of signage and floor tape, screens at all till points and counters, and of course masks for all unless exempt.”

Beth Heath, owner and director of Fun at Shropshire Festivals

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“Salons were last to open which was really annoying - you could go for a beer but couldn’t get your nails done! ” Jenny Rawson, salon director of Lavender House of Beauty in Wrexham

DID YOU KNOW? Hair and beauty salons generate more than £7.5 billion in revenue for the economy

Jenny Rawson with a client at Lavender House of Beauty, pre-lockdown

HEIGHTENED CLEANING ROUTINES Beauty salons have always had super-high hygiene standards, but even more were put in place at Lavender House. “On re-opening we had social distancing, amended salon hours, heightened cleaning routines, masks, PPE… We spent thousands on air filters so even if we couldn’t have a window open then the air was safe,” said Jenny. “Salons were last to open which was really annoying – you could go for a beer but couldn’t get your nails done! We’d all be masked up with PPE, in a very hygienic environment, only one client with a therapist in each area, yet you could go into a pub and mix. That made me doubt the system in a big way and left me quite angry.” Claire changed the way she runs the travel agency, switching to appointment-only. “This meant we could ensure everyone was socially distanced and numbers inside were limited,” she said. “The nice surprise has been to discover this model works really well for us. It means we can make sure each customer is booked in with the agent who has the perfect expertise and knowledge, and customers can be seen to straight away. If someone wants to stop by without an appointment, we can usually accommodate that too.”

for all businesses,” said David Easton. “We have to forwardorder all our stock and it would have been a busy weekend just before Christmas. We did end up with some waste and gave what we could from the farmshop and cafés to a local foodbank. When decisions were made, they should have stuck to them.”

MORE STRAIN “We felt utter devastation that it wasn’t over,” said Claire. “January is a really popular time to book holidays, so hearing this news meant knowing the business was going to be put under more strain, with more uncertainty going forward.” Eddie said: “We were told by trading standards that although the shop was closed to the public, we were allowed to visit customers in their own homes – with full PPE – and the fitters could still work as they were classed as tradespeople. We had strict hygiene measures in place, so we were able to keep some turnover going which was a great help.” Beth’s reaction to the announcement? “Not again! After going through all that worry, home schooling, cancelling and postponing events, to know it wasn’t ending yet was heartbreaking. We had to start postponing festivals again, which is a lot of work refunding and moving tickets, and letting down all our suppliers and exhibitors who depend on our events for their revenue.”

LONG-TERM DAMAGE Jenny wondered when we were going to see the back of the virus. “What long-term damage are we doing to future

CIRCUIT BREAKER The English four-week national ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown in November 2020 came as a huge blow to businesses hoping to recoup some losses in the run-up to Christmas, with Wales taking action even earlier in October with a 17-day ‘firebreak’. Then on 30th December most of country was moved to tier four, and on 4th January 2021 the PM announced the third national lockdown to start on 6th January; schools, pubs, restaurants and non-essential retail were to close and people were once again ordered to stay at home. “We knew it was coming, but to close us down without any notice at 5pm on the Saturday before Christmas was very unfair

Pubs and cafes moved outdoors, schools moved back home…

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generations,” she asked, “and how will they get back into an economically resilient place? Because at the end of the day they will be the ones who pay the price for this. I’m not in the Government, I don’t see all of the statistics, but I do wonder whether the later lockdowns were necessary. On a personal basis, I think we could have continued with heightened precautions, but the powers-that-be thought otherwise, so that’s what we respected.” This lockdown would not start to lift until 8th March, when schools re-opened. From 12th April, non-essential retail and personal care services including hairdressers and beauty salons re-opened. Pubs and restaurants opened for outdoor serving after this date as well. In England, from 19th July, most of the lockdown restrictions lifted.

THE YEAR TO COME So how are our business owners feeling about the year ahead? Despite everything, Claire is optimistic. “We have survived the toughest time in the travel sector,” she told us. “I believe the appetite to travel is there, we just need the travel rules to make it as safe and as easy as possible for people wanting to plan their summer holidays. “During the pandemic some tour operators treated customers really unfairly, so we have taken the decision not to work with them again. That means the holidays we provide are with the most trustworthy operators, giving added reassurance to customers.” David Preston is hopeful that the supermarket dependency that had developed over the years may be broken. “Customers can now see that shopping local and supporting local and small producers can offer a more satisfying (and more tasty!) experience than the often chaotic and frankly sterile environment in big stores,” he said. “We plough the bulk of our income straight back into the local economy. ‘Of course, 2022 holds lots of challenges, not least commodity and energy price inflation, tax increases, further impacts from Brexit and ongoing Covid insecurities. But we always try to stay optimistic and we are looking forward to building on the ‘shop local’ dynamic.”

RIDING THE STORM Being a well-established business and having been responsible in the way she has conducted business in the past, Jenny thinks Lavender House is in a position where it can ride out the storm. “I’m hopeful for the future,” she added, “because I feel our skillset and knowledge is unique, and I think that as a team of highly professional women we will go forward and conquer. So, yes, on that basis I do feel that we will be okay through all of this. “But in terms of do I feel the world of business has changed from here on in, I think the ‘good old days’ have gone and it’s a rocky path to follow to find our way through to green pastures. I’m confident we’ll do it, but, that will simply be down to the resources and the determination of me and my team, as opposed to the Government paving the way for the future.”

NEW EVENTS FOR 2022 The Shrewsbury Food Festival and Shropshire Oktoberfest were able to go ahead in the autumn of 2021. “The ticket sales were brilliant,” said Beth. “It demonstrated the thirst for attending events again and gave me my mojo back! We now have lots of new events planned for 2022 – we hope to see you there. I am ever the optimist!” Steve also feels extremely positive. He reflected: “I think we have become far more valued as an industry because of the way our closure affected people’s well-being.” Trade at Tweedmill was initially slow on re-opening but over the months it has picked up. “It’s nice to see our regular customers return and we have seen an increase with the coaches,” David said. “There is still some uncertainty, but we will take each day as it comes and deal with anything if and when it happens.” Eddie concluded by telling us: “The flooring and furnishing sectors benefitted from pent-up demand from the various shutdowns, and people who had saved money for holidays spent it on their houses instead. I see 2022 possibly dropping in turnover a little, but levelling out going forward.” So, it may be a ‘new normal’ – but it seems that the view going forward is refreshingly optimistic!

“we will take each day as it comes and deal with anything iF and when it happens” David Easton, manager of Tweedmill shopping outlet in St Asaph

Here’s to a better year all round. Cheers!

Updates coming soon to a festival ground near you… January/February 2022 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 53

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Penthouses & Townhouses From £360,000 New for 2022 Just two penthouse apartments crown Albury Place Stylish fittings and a superb finish combine with generously-sized rooms and three balconies to create a truly exceptional, easily-managed home. The stunning kitchen with granite work tops, elegant lighting and high-end appliances opens to living and dining areas, and a west-facing balcony with far-reaching views. Exclusively occupying the 3rd floor, lift access and private parking.

Sophisticated Town Houses with a contemporary layout Design-led details are evident throughout these luxurious Townhouses. Full-width bi-fold doors connect the open-plan living/ dining/ kitchen to a courtyard garden. The private master suite with walk-in dressing room and large bathroom occupies its own floor. Two further rooms balanced in size are ideal for families, guests or home office. On top, a glass lobby leads to a huge roof top terrace.

Albury Place is close to Shrewsbury station and town centre, plus cycling and walking routes along former canals and green belts. A private road with controlled access, allocated parking and secure bike storage.

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Ready to move into this Spring, every property will be finished to the exacting standard of specification synonymous with SY Homes. Show homes open by appointment.

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Buying, selling or renting, Monks are the team for you. Call. 01743 361 422 Email. Visit.

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Homes&Interiors Kitchen dreams by the seaside Wirral kitchen designers H Miller Bros recently won Kitchen Design of the Year at the kbbreview Retail and Design Awards for this stunning installation for a busy family in New Brighton


hen Katherine and Alan decided to replace their existing kitchen – a long, narrow galley which had been looking tired for a while – they had very specific needs based on their growing family. The couple have three small boys, one aged seven and three-year-old twins, and when the pandemic hit, they approached H Miller Bros to redesign the space with a functional, yet beautiful handcrafted design. Katherine said: “Once the twins arrived, the layout of the house just didn’t work. The ground floor was a set of separate rooms that made being together and keeping on top of clutter practically impossible. For example, there was only space for one person at a time to be in the kitchen, and the adjacent dining room felt more like a corridor because access to the other spaces went through it! We wanted to move the kitchen to a larger room and we also wanted a kitchen island.” The couple asked Howard Miller to come up with some ideas and the team went to work. Howard said: “We advised moving the kitchen to a new room created by combining the existing dining and play rooms; it was the only way to create enough space for an island. They also wanted more drawers – their existing kitchen

The cabinets are fronted with cork

had a single cutlery drawer that didn’t open properly. In terms of aesthetics, appliances and features they were open to suggestions. Essentially, it needed a total re-think of how the space was arranged so that it could allow them to enjoy family life and meal times. We made sure to strike a balance between removing clutter and reserving space for the joyful paraphernalia that comes

“We made sure to strike a balance between removing clutter and reserving space for the joyful paraphernalia that comes with a young family”

56 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2022

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“Part of our early design process is set up to tease out what is unique about a project and a client” Designer Howa

rd Miller

with a young family. It was also important to get more natural light into the house and create a route from the kitchen to the garden that was a unique area in its own right.”

Personal passions

Howard explained the importance of capturing the essence of a client’s personality and style in the aesthetics of a design. Katherine and Alan are fans of live music and sports and the kids are very active and energetic, so they wanted to create something grown up but essentially playful. Howard said: “Part of our early design process is set up to tease out what is unique about a project and a client, so that they can create something individual to them. We noticed that they used their fridge as a kind of noticeboard to display pictures by the kids, reminders, lists, cards and so on, using magnets to attach them. In their new kitchen they wanted integrated appliances and for things to be neat, but we felt these drawings and cards needed a place to be celebrated and so we proposed a cork panel integrated into the cabinet fronts. The idea developed into a full band of cork, stained black to match the black front of the oven, to bind the design together. It acts as a bit of a sound absorber (important when you have three-year-old twins!) and sits over the splashback so that there is a lot of space to curate an evolving backdrop.” The island was designed to look like an elegant, standalone piece of furniture. It allows light and views through and around it,

Stylish yet practical

“They wanted more drawers”

The china blue vinyl gives a playful feel

Storage for grown-ups…

and while the cabinetry is quite adult, the coloured floor gives the design a playful feel to reflect the personality of the family. The same china blue vinyl was also used to line the bottom of all the drawers, so the user gets a splash of colour when they are opened. Another great personal touch came in the form of the cabinet door knobs. Howard said: “Katherine and Alan are serious music lovers and the knobs are enlarged versions of the volume knob from a 1970s record player they love.” January/February 2022 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 57

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Shire’s interiors expert Holly Johnson, of Cheshire-based Holly Johnson Antiques and Interiors, introduces a new range of Murano glass – the stunning style that looks perfect in every home Murano glass disk with fish decoration, £1,800


minerals blend with the liquid glass. he Venetian island of Murano is famed for its tradition of glass-making, dating back 700 years. At our outlet I have It is common for different colours to be layered over one another, as part introduced my own, unique Murano vase range, which has of a technique known as sommerso. been designed and produced in collaboration with some of Each design is completely Italy’s most prominent contemporary glass artists, including individual and the Murano craftsmen Alessandro Barbaro and Arnaldo Zanella. I am particularly each have their own signature look. drawn to the style as it is so distinctive, and wanted to share We suggest designs, drawing on some advice on selecting a piece for your collection. pieces from the Roman In 1291, glassmakers in Venice relocated to the and Art Deco periods small island of Murano to avoid the risk of fire, for inspiration. commonplace at the time. The island became a major “I’m international hub, and remains home to the finest glass particularly craftsmen. Today people flock to Murano to watch the Personal touch drawn to Layering is a favourite effect For those in the market artists working the blown glass, stretching and shaping the style for glass, my advice is to research which designers most it, setting it in the big kilns, then reheating it over as it’s so appeal to you. The big names have pieces in major and over to make collections globally, and all of their items are signed. something truly distinctive” In terms of price points, a vase from our collection sells special and unique. for around £1,800, although this varies. We currently have As part of the a black and gold leaf Pettoni vase with gold-dust decoration by process, small amounts of metal Silvano Signoretto (2016) priced at £2,200. More unusual items and minerals can be added to the include a stunning glass disk with fish decoration (2018), at £1,800. glass mixture to introduce beautiful, If you do intend to invest in a piece, I would urge vigilance. Do vibrant colours; iron and copper your research to ensure authenticity and visit a reputable dealer. Any are added for green glass, cobalt for items carrying names of factories based outside of Murano and Venice blue glass and manganese for pink. are most certainly fake. More information on our current collection As the mixture reaches extreme can be found at temperatures, the hot metals and

Distinctive colouring

V for Zzzzs E

go on to be used in the making of car seats, carpet underlay and other useful everyday items. What’s more, vegan mattress very January the charity Veganuary runs a month dedicated to veganism, inspiring people to adopt a fillings aren’t tested on animals as they’re made from recycled plastic more planet-friendly lifestyle. It’s been hugely successful and 1.5 million in the UK now follow a plant-based bottles – which also stops these diet. But if you thought it was just about food, think bottles ending up in landfill. For the environmentalist, it’s a win-win! again. You can show your support in other ways too. In response to demand, mattress manufacturers are Vegan-authenticated hypoallergenic adding vegan products to their ranges, using fillings Sleep peacefully knowing you’re doing your bit fillings allow maximum airflow from non-animal derivatives and plant-based materials. within the mattress, regulating body temperature for a comfortable, luxurious sleep. To top it off, they are What’s sleep got to do with it? wrapped in a plant-based cover that allows the mattress to breathe. Your mattress can have a surprising impact on the environment, not Newport Beds is excited to be a stockist of Vegan Mattresses by just in terms of materials but the carbon footprint from manufacturing Vogue Beds, accredited with the Vegan Society trademark. For those and its end-of-life story too. Vegan mattresses such as Vegan by wishing to have this as an option this Veganuary and beyond, visit the Vogue Beds contain no foam and are 100% recyclable, so they can showroom to ‘try before you buy’! 58 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2022

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BuildscapeUK is a Cheshire based family run business, established since 2013 offering a range of domestic and commercial based services.

“BuildscapeUK did a great job re-roofing our stables, they managed the job from start to finish and will most definitely use again. Thank you!”

We work with our clients from the design stage through to completion, whether it be a total garden makeover, building work or a home renovation. Working with other trusted suppliers including chartered surveyors, electricians, plumbers and gas engineers means we are able to quote, supply, fit and project manage all of your works. Our team work from our Malpas based office being well placed to cover Cheshire, North Wales and Shropshire.

n LANDSCAPE GARDENING n RENOVATIONS n BUILDING WORK 01948 860135 11 High St, Malpas, Cheshire SY14 8NN

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“Buildscape worked tirelessly to get our garden as we wanted – the transformation was amazing we expected it to take much longer than it did but they were very organised. The job itself was done exceptionally well with such attention to detail. “ ‘We were really impressed with the professional service they were able to offer. I would highly recommend BuildscapeUK, and I am glad I know who to call on next time.’

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The best of North & Mid Wales, Cheshire, Wirral & Shropshire

Whats On I Homes I Interiors I Food & Drink I Holidays I Activities Arts I Photography I Fashion I Gardens I Books & Poetry I Health Green Energy I Pets I Wildlife I Schools & Colleges I Charities Retirement I Personal Finance I Motoring

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A passionate crafter from a young age, Claire Manton started upcycling furniture as a hobby. Now the passion has turned into a successful business on the Shropshire border


laire Manton was planning a career in the corporate world when the trend for furniture upcycling suddenly took off and her onetime hobby started to take up more and more of her time. Bespoke commissions soon took over her every spare minute – and her home – and in 2013 Claire decided to give up the nine-to-five to concentrate on her burgeoning business. Claire’s CraftHouse was born. Now firmly established with her own studio and workshop located inside her paint shop in Middleton, Staffordshire, Claire works full time as a furniture artist, bringing to life bespoke commissions and teaching upcycling courses.

A family thing

Claire said: “The creative spark in me was first ignited by my mum, when she taught me how to sew at a very young age. She’s been a major inspiration in my life and, since then, I’ve turned my hand to make a whole host of handmade items. However, my main passion has always been in furniture refurbishment. Now as a full-time professional furniture artist, I’m in my element in the studio, with brush in hand – teaching others how to upcycle their furniture pieces on our popular Paint-a-Piece workshops, or providing help and

“I’m in my element in the studio, with brush in hand”

Transformed: from dull flatpack to eye-catching feature

Restoration projects are a labour of love for Claire (above)

advice on using our paint products in our shop at Coppice Lifestyle and Garden Centre. I’m immensely proud of the reputation we’ve built for both quality craftmanship and trusted customer care. Word of mouth from happy customers is how I hope to build Claire’s CraftHouse and create more lovely stuff, for more lovely people!” Claire’s commissions have seen her transform everything from neglected period pieces to mass-produced flatpack items, creating unique furniture using a variety of specialist techniques and paints – including Fusion Mineral Paint and Dixie Belle. Claire’s CraftHouse, which is run by Claire and her husband Mark, is a retailer for leading furniture craft brands, and the couple are happy to take commissions and advice instore and online on purchases by those keen to learn the art of furniture restyling. January/February 2022 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 61

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Photo: Historic England



Main Mill and the Kiln at Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings, May 2021


© Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

ite owner Historic England has committed to a multi-million pound project to bring the internationally significant Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings back to life. Located in the historic Main Mill – the world’s first iron-framed building and the grandparent of modern skyscrapers – the first office suites will be ready for occupation this year. More than 25,000 sq ft of converted office space located on the upper four floors of the Main Mill is available to let. Ranging in size from 1,000 sq ft to 6,308 sq ft, the offices will provide an attractive commercial setting, with tenants entering through the impressive Kiln building. The offices retain several period features reflecting the building’s industrial heritage, whilst also providing a modern working environment. Above: artist’s The space has impression of been restored with the first-floor sustainability to the fore, office space with features such as Right: the planned Kiln natural ventilation, a lowentrance carbon energy heat source and excellent natural lighting. Car parking will be available at the site, and it will also benefit from integrated cycleway links into the town. The Main Mill and Kiln at the Flaxmill Maltings will open in 2022,

with a visitor experience and café opening on the ground floor. The restoration of the Main Mill and Kiln at the Flaxmill Maltings is supported by a £20.7 million grant through The National Lottery Heritage Fund, with additional funding from The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership via its Growth Deal with government, and from project partners Historic England, Shropshire Council and the Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings.

Sustainable energy

As part of Historic England’s commitment to sustainable restoration, a low-carbon energy source in the form of a ground-source heat pump was installed in 2021. The pump will extract How the development will look heat from the ground on completion (artist’s impression) via vertical bore holes, which were created along the line of the former canal tow path by a specialist drilling rig. Natural ground heat will then be absorbed into a circulating agent, which will be carried through buried pipework to be processed through the heat pump plant. The resulting ‘green’ energy will then be utilised by the hot water and heating systems within the Main Mill and Kiln. The system will provide an estimated 69% of the energy required for the Main Mill and Kiln and reduce the traditional carbon emissions associated with space heating by an estimated 46%. For more information on the project’s progress, and details on office and venue hire, visit

Focus on fireplaces

Home heating specialist RN Williams in St Asaph tells us about some beautiful new stoves The Everhot electric stove, rrp £1,295 ‘‘Blending classic style with modern efficiency, and a 20-litre oven perfect for cooking small dishes, the Everhot electric stove offers an elegant and functional option, in a choice of 20 colours. The stove plugs into a standard 13amp socket – ideal whether you have a traditional fireplace, want to add a splash of colour to a conservatory or bedroom, or are looking for a simple heating solution for a glamping pod, holiday cottage or annex. The quality-engineered steel and cast iron construction will provide heat long after the stove has been turned off.”

Stovax Futura 5

Stovax Futura 5 wood-burning stove , rrp £1,345 “With the increased demand for stoves offering excellent efficiency and eco-design ready, we expect the new Stovax Futura 5 to be a popular addition to our range. Featuring a contemporary curved door and expansive viewing window, this stove has versatile appeal and would be suitable in traditional or modern homes. Many additional features including a convector heat system and single air control make this stove a stylish, simple to use, highly efficient option.

62 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2022

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Deeside Country Sport Collectables

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will New Applications onGovernment 31 March 2022 At theclose time to of placing this advert, the have not released the full details of the scheme contact Iheat ltd to register your interest.

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Middle management

Mid-Century design has never been so popular, with online searches at an all-time high. And design gurus predict the trend is set to continue through 2022 Atomic Blonde and Telstar cushions, from £42


places, and people want to create a earches for ‘Mid-Century’ within the Home & Garden category of Google Trends soared in 2021 as homeowners home where they can truly relax and unwind. Mid-Century has always sought to revamp their homes with the cool stylings made been my go-to style,” she adds. “It popular in the 1950s and ’60s. Characterised by clean lines and continually inspires me in my own fuss-free design, where function ruled and form followed – not designs, which beautifully bring to mention the bold use of colour and pattern – Mid-Century is distinctive movement that has always demanded attention. together the styling of the ’50s with the best of modern Helen Snell, the founder of retro homeware brand British manufacturing.” 20th Century Cloth, says: “Mid-Century has an “People enduring appeal. There is a real familiarity to the want a Mid-Century movement and following all the turmoil Furnishing favourites bit of of the pandemic, I think people have been yearning Helen’s favourite pieces from to surround themselves with furnishings that bring her current collection include: simplicity Favoured pastels a level of reassurance and comfort, while also ticking Atomic Blonde retro cushion, from mint, aqua and coral in their all the boxes £42. This design was originally a bestlives” when it comes selling dress fabric print, and our customers asked for it as to style.” an interior-weight fabric. It features a period-perfect 1950s Helen believes it’s a trend yellow background with a black and turquoise boomerang motif. that is going to stick around Ventura lampshade, from £46. 1950s-style drum shade featuring well into 2022. “There is tones of green with red and brown highlights on a cream background. something simplistic about Telstar retro cushions, from £42. Telstar features those favourite Mid-Century styling and 1950s pastel colours, mint green, aqua, yellow and coral pink on a I think people want a bit cream background. The design was inspired by Atomic Age imagery. of simplicity in their lives. Twilight lampshade, from £46 (not shown). A Modernist Our homes have become design in dark teal and black with orange and yellow accents. Ventura our sanctuaries, our safe All available from shade



new eco-friendly heating system has brought Condover Village Hall into the 21st century, providing what it’s hoped will be an example to other organistions across the region. Trustees Roger and Sue Nash say: “We wanted to update the Village Hall. It has a high ceiling and was heated by fans and electric convectors which were ineffective and expensive. It was often extremely cold and this was putting people off using the hall. “We wanted not only to improve Condor’s charming – but chilly! – village hall

the heating but also to try and make a contribution to the Climate Emergency recently declared in Shropshire. “We sought environmentally friendly solutions from local contractors, and were assisted in The floor and walls were our choice by CREST, based at insulated at the same time University Centre, Shrewsbury. Together, we came up with a ‘net zero energy building’ solution, which combines air-sourced heat pumps with solar panels and battery storage to power them. This has been part-funded with grants from the European Regional Development Fund and support from the local county council.” The installation was completed by iHeat. The Nashes say: “We now have an eco-friendly hall that local people can be proud of. We hope we have provided an example of what can be done to help address climate change.” January/February 2022 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 65

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Photo: @mybigfat1930snest

New Homes


We all like to enjoy the best of technology when it comes to watching films or gaming at home – but not many of us want a large screen taking over the room


early means you could elevision screens have got bigger and bigger over the years conceal nearly all of and are now a dominant feature in many homes. This is the everyday home great to add the full cinema experience to a family film night technology you love.” or to get truly immersed in a gaming experience – but not great The home cinema feel when you’ve spent time and money getting the look and style you is no longer the preserve want for your home. Rarely does a huge black screen add design of those with large flair to the setting! One Shropshire company mansions and has the answer – a range of concealed home “It’s easy dedicated cinema cinemas that should suit every style of home. to overlook rooms. Small The experts at Pure Theatre, an established important projectors are a engineering company based in Telford, say: Enjoy the view beyond the screen everyday fantastic all-round “Whether it’s a self-build, renovation or extension, entertainment so much time is spent perfecting the architectural elements solution, and teamed with an AV receiver allow you to create and interior design to create a beautiful home. It’s like TV” a connected system that can play your favourite entertainment easy to overlook the important everyday elements channels including Sky, Playstation, Xbox, Bluray and more. such as TVs, games consoles and music. How Pure Theatre says: “Our concealed home cinema products allow will these fit in without ruining your beautifully curated rooms? the projector, screen and speakers to recess into your ceiling. With a high-quality flush fitting they are barely noticeable when not in For every home use. At the touch of a button, or a voice “An alternative to installing an obtrusive static TV is to include a command, your projector and screen will concealed home cinema system. Thinking about this integration seamlessly lower to reveal your home cinema. And afterwards, they can disappear and leave you with an uninterrupted space. Not only are Pure Theatre projector lifts and screens an amazing addition to your home, they are also manufactured right here in Shropshire.” See for youself the latest projectors and speakers with UK-manufactured The discreet projector motorised projector screens and lifts at the Pure Theatre demo room in Telford. Designed to replicate a normal living room, you can see how the projector can cope with light and how the audio will perform with hard floors and no sound-proofing. Experts are on hand to advise and discuss your Transformed at a simple voice command requirements. 66 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2022

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If you have a house move coming up and are looking forward to being in your new home at the start of the year, one local company has all the advice you need to make it smooth sailing


oving house is stressful, it’s true. But if you plan ahead, it doesn’t need to be too traumatic. Shire spoke to Andrew Porter Ltd, who have been moving families and businesses around Cheshire and the North West since 1973. Their guidelines are a good starting point, leaving you free to focus on what colour to paint your new front door!

A month before…

you have no use for. We donate customers’ unwanted items to the charity we support, Derian House children’s hospice.

Two weeks before…

Arrange care for children and Research removal companies. Start locally and ask to see pets for moving testimonials. Look for accreditations such as membership day. There’s a blog “Declutter of the British Association of Removers: Andrew Porter Ltd post on our website so you’re is a proud member. Most of our customers come to us after about preparing not moving being recommended by their estate agent or friends. Others children for a read our testimonials and contact us for a no-obligations move, if you’d like items you quote and survey. advice. Dismantle have no Ask about extras like insurance We advise that the any larger items use for” company you choose such as self-assembly furniture or garden sheds. visits beforehand so they have all the right equipment on the The day before… day. Once happy, book your removal Pack a box of items you will need quick access to once you’re in: a as early as possible to guarantee kettle, mugs, tea or coffee, scissors, toiletries, pet food, light bulbs, the most convenient time and date. screwdriver and cleaning products. Defrost fridges and freezers. Ask about extra services too. At It’s fine to request references Andrew Porter Ltd, these include On the day…. insurance, full packing service and even taking up carpets if required. Pack your valuables safely and carry them with you. Check nothing Take the opportunity to declutter so you’re not moving items has been left. Remember to look in every cupboard in every room!

…Now to Rhyl

many big names closing stores both on high streets and on retail parks, has given us the opportunity to expand our portfolio on to a retail park, which pre-pandemic was unthinkable!” He confirmed the launch date as Monday 27th December, and ow to Bed, owned by the Burnet family, has taken the lease of said the new store has been well supported by suppliers, both in stock an ex-Carpetright store on the Clwyd Retail Park lead times and point in Rhyl. At 8,000 sq ft it will be their third and biggest of sale. “The space store, adding to the Prestatyn and Llandudno stores. The will give us the “The expansion comes 39 years after Paul Burnet first opened chance to showcase largest his company, PJ Furnishing Centre, in the town. “I am very the largest display display in pleased at returning to Rhyl after all these years,” he said. of branded beds and North and …Now to Bed has been trading since 2013, showing mattresses in North steady sustainable growth over that time, with a huge and Mid Wales.” Mid Wales” uptake since the successful introduction of an online For more presence at the start of the pandemic. Online orders information see or call accounted for 60% of the company’s turnover in 2020/2021. The new store, open now on the Paul added: “The current situation throughout the UK, with 01745 605495. Clwyd Retail Park in Rhyl


68 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2022

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he new year is always a time to reflect and renew. There’s much to love as the days lengthen, the first green snowdrop shoots appear and we set out afresh with new goals for the year ahead. A few simple changes – refreshing a garden room for sunnier days, creating a home office to focus the mind, brightening a sitting room with new curtains or using storage to declutter – can transform your home, making it a more serene and calming place to be.

Garden room style

systems to bespoke pieces like the Ardingly (right) – at once a pantry, desk and bathroom cabinet – there are myriad solutions to stay organised and clutter-free.


One of the joys of the new year is the are often tentative signs of life in the garden. While neglected frosty mornings are perfect for blowing away the cobwebs on a walk, the best place areas to enjoy early spring days is surely the in our garden room. While cane was the historic homes” choice for conservatory furniture, banana leaf and seagrass are more contemporary options. Yoga studio, craft workshop, light-filled dining space… your garden room is the perfect place to kick back and relax.

Super storage

Decluttering your home sets the tone for the year ahead, clearing the mind and destressing the body. Children’s rooms, groaning under the weight of Christmas toys, and home offices are a great place to start. From upholstered ottomans and clever storage

The Ardingly cabinet

Make your hall a home

Hallways are often neglected areas in our homes, but this spring, turn yours into a room. With statement pieces like Dorset hall stand the Dorset tall coat stand, hats, coats, dog leads and boots are handy but tidy, and there’s a comfortable seat to pull on your wellies as you head out for a walk. Hanging a mirror over a console, dressed with pillar candles and foliage, will give this space a fresh new feel for the new year.

Window shopping

Oxford home office

For refreshing existing schemes, new curtains are the perfect touch. With thousands of fabrics from design houses like Clarke & Clarke, Sanderson, Jane Churchill and Romo, Holloways’ interior designers will take time to understand your style and send fabric samples to your home. Holloways’ free interior design service will also help you find key pieces like sofas and dining tables, virtually on Zoom or in the showrooms, set in stunning countryside at Lower Court, Suckley, Worcestershire WR6 5DE. January/February 2022 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 71

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GreenLiving Farming for the future

Raising cattle on grass has real benefits, argue the farmers

As all environmental eyes fall on the meat industry, a local farming family is urging Shire readers to keep supporting Shropshire’s farmers, despite the negative press


he Oteley Estate is home to two herds of native breed British cattle – beef shorthorn and Highland. Earlier this year Ian and Clare Mainwaring, who own and farm the estate, launched a range of premium meat boxes, for sale to local residents and businesses at their own markets and via their website. Despite climate change commentary focusing on the need to turn to plant-based alternatives, the farming family believe their home-grown meat boxes are still a sustainable option. The Mainwarings introduced Highland cattle to Oteley five years ago. The animals stay out all year round, roaming themeres and mosses, eating rough grass and brambles.

Environment at heart

Clare says: “Our farming methods keep the environment’s best interests at heart. All of

the beef we sell direct to customers, particularly our Highland beef, is extensive 100 per cent grass-fed. This means we don’t have to rely on cereals and grains to feed them. We haven’t disturbed the landscape in order to raise them: they are enjoying what’s here already and in doing so they help to protect natural ecosystems and wildlife habitats.” According to the Government’s Committee on Climate Change, greenhouse gas emissions from UK beef are about half the global average. Clare adds: “Much of the land our animals graze on is suited to grass rather than crops. British beef is among the most efficient and sustainable in the world due to our extensive, grass-fed systems Keeping the land in use retains its biodiversity. Managed pastures are a good carbon sink, capturing CO2 in the grassland and storing carbon in the soil. Let’s eat locally produced food, eat in-season produce and waste less food, to be as environmentally friendly as possible.” Highland cattle are a native breed Order beef, lamb and pork boxes at

Local response to global issue As COP26 ended in Glasgow, another climate conference took place in Wales to look at its findings. One local eco hero was there to share her expertise


Mared Williams beside Rhug’s green energy supply ot on the heels of the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26, a second event took place in Cardiff, monitor the carbon footprint of the whole estate, including the looking at its implications for rural landowners and businesses, main farms and forestry, green energy, retail, wholesale and skincare and how they can respond to the challenges and opportunities. businesses. Rhug has taken its first steps and measured the footprint Among the keynote speakers at ‘Rural Wales of Rhug Organic Farm, discovering that due to work already – an excellent climate for green growth’ was undertaken, it is fortunate to be in a carbon negative position. “It’s Mared Williams, manager of Rhug Estate’s Low It is part of Mared’s remit to create a bespoke action plan to important mitigate emissions and enhance carbon capture on the estate. Carbon Project, who gave a presentation on her research into carbon management on the estate. we create Mared spoke alongside the Welsh Government Ahead of the curve a road minister for climate change, Julie James MS, Caryl Mared said: “We feel that it is crucially important that we create map for Jones from Wales YFC who talked about the a clear road map for the future. Climate change is our biggest the future” threat and we owe it to the next generation to do everything expectations and commitment of the next generation, and Dai Jones, chartered forester and managing we can to mitigate its effects. At Rhug we really care about director of HW Forestry Ltd, who discussed whether growing trees sustainability in everything we do: organic farming, organic skincare, or producing food is the priority for climate proofing Wales. green energy and caring for the environment. We are investing in The aim of Rhug’s Low Carbon Project is to measure and monitoring our carbon footprint so we can improve what we do.” 72 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2022

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in its place


Make your home work for you with these stylish storage solutions 3 6



5 10




11 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11 12. 13. 14.


Zircon metal wall storage unit,, £75.95, Cousins Furniture, Shrewsbury Bronx under-shelf basket, £24, Next Rack wall light and coat hook in matt black with opal glass, £60, Moon Lighting, Oswestry Brass wire shelf with hooks, £24.50, Rose & Grey World Factory black metal shelving unit with 3 baskets, £153, Maisons Du Monde Brushed bronze shelf unit, £29.75, British Ironwork Centre, Oswestry Penman Ledge wall-mounted log holder (small), £119, RN Williams & Sons, St Asaph Bensen hall tree with bench and shoe storage, sale price £159.99, Wayfair Dipped jute storage baskets (2 sizes), from £5.99, Cheshire Homewares Rattan letter rack, £60, OKA, Knutsford Eve storage stool (large), sale price £399, Stokers Furniture, Chester Leaf screen-printed fabric container by Folded Forest, £24, Mostyn Shop, Llandudno Felt bedside storage pocket £20, Uniiq, Shrewsbury Cream wooden 4-basket sideboard, £199, Make Your House a Home, Whitchurch


January/February 2022 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 73

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A sl ic e o f tra d it ion a l BU N E T

Did yo u kn ow?

A speciality of the Piedmont region, bunet is often flavoured with rum. Yum!

PASSION on a plate

As a nationality, Italians are famed for their foodie flair – and in one Chester restaurant all that style and hospitality is poured into every lovingly prepared dish

Valentina has charge of the menu while Fabrizio handles the wines


a Noi in Chester is run by husband-and-wife team Fabrizio Gobbato and Valentina Aviotti, who bring local diners an Italian dining experience straight from their hometown of Turin. The restaurant’s name translates as ‘At ours’ – and chef Valentina does everything she can to create menus that capture the rich and diverse tastes of Italy, whilst Fabrizio handpicks a selection of wines to serve by the glass

to complement each course. Like many Italians, Valentina’s earliest childhood memory in the kitchen is of rolling fresh pasta and watching her nonna, Marcella, prepare delicious traditional dishes. Valentina inherited her passion and turned it into something more when she trained at the prestigious Associazione Cuochi cookery school in Turin. After the couple moved to the UK for Fabrizio’s work, they realised there was a market for truly authentic Italian cooking in the North West and – despite Valentina’s trepidation – decided it was time to try their hand as restaurateurs. In just a few months, Michelin was at the door and shortly after Da Noi was awarded a prestigious Michelin Plate for 2020. Recently the restaurant confirmed the Plate for 2021, having remained committed to achieving exceptional quality even during the pandemic. Da Noi is famed for the fresh pasta that is lovingly crafted in

the kitchen daily, and the menu has some mouth-watering choices including truffle and ricotta ravioli, Taleggio gnocchi, and Cacio and pesto maccheroni. Fabrizio has paired a wine with every single dish to complement the food, and several of the traditional recipes that feature regularly have been in Valentina’s family for many, many years, most notably the delicious hazelnut cake. Valentina agreed to share another sweet treat favourite with Shire readers in this issue. Anyone interested in visiting the restaurant should check the regularly changing menu to see what delights are on offer. INGREDIENTS (makes 12 slices) 170g sugar 50g Amaretti biscuits, plus a couple more 4 eggs 50g cocoa, sifted 500g milk METHOD 1. Heat 100g sugar with a splash of water in a saucepan until it starts to caramelise. Pour over the base of a 1 litre rectangular dessert mould. 2. Crumble the Amaretti into very fine pieces, reserving a couple for decoration. 3. Whisk the eggs in a bowl and add the remaining sugar. Add the crumbled Amaretti and the cocoa. Whisk together, taking care not to incorporate too much air – you are aiming for a smooth, consistent mixture without bubbles. 4. Stir in the milk, then pour into the mould. 5. Bake in a bain marie (or stand the mould in an ovenproof tray and add water to three-quarters of its height) at 170°C for about 1 hour. Remove and allow to cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours. 6. Turn out the bunet, inverting it onto a serving plate. Garnish with whole or crumbled Amaretti.

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Any port

Bonnie Rowley

in a winter storm

Shire starts the new year with a new wine columnist – certified wine educator Gary Carter, DipWSET. Gary pursues his passion running Shropshire Wine School, holding tastings from informal starter events to WSET Level 3 (Advanced) professional courses, and hosting private and corporate wine events


t’s that time of year, with cold and dark nights, when Port really comes into its own. There is something just so right about enjoying a glass at the end of your meal – or for that matter, when your fancy takes you! The history of Port emphasises that necessity truly is the mother of invention, since to preseve a wine in good condition it was “fortified” with additional alcohol. This was all the more of a necessity from the 17th century onward, when the wine in question was supplied to the Royal Navy by England’s oldest ally – Portugal. This historical connection between Port and England is reflected in the many names associated with the trade to this day, such as Taylor’s, Graham’s, Dow’s and Croft. The grapes to make Port are grown in the baking heat of the Douro Valley, inland from Oporto where the River Douro enters the Atlantic. In these dry conditions, on steep-sided hills overlooking the river, the grapes are fully ripened with intense flavours and high levels of sugar. Port is always a blend of grape varieties, with the most important being Portugal’s own Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca with Tinta Roriz (Spain’s Tempranillo under its local Portuguese name). All red Port production starts out as conventional red-wine making, but the fermentation process (converting the sugar in the grapes to alcohol) is interrupted abruptly halfway with the addition of 77% abv Brandy, which raises the overall abv of the wine to 20%. As this is way beyond the level that yeast can tolerate, fermentation stops, leaving the wine as mediumsweet due to the sugar that has not been converted to alcohol.

Four to try Dow’s Trademark Finest Reserve Port 75cl (Sainsbury’s £10) Rich ruby colour. On the nose, packed with concentrated strawberry fruit and hints of spices. On the palate, well balanced, with a slightly dry finish that is the Dow’s hallmark. Taylor’s Late Bottled Vintage Port (Morrisons £10) (limited special offer, usually £15) Rich, velvety cherry and plum-laced late bottled vintage full of character. A perfect port from a massive name in the business. Red fruit packed, gorgeously coloured and deliciously smooth. Graham’s 10-Year-Old Tawny Port (Tesco £20) A decade of careful, slow oak maturation has resulted in a wine with complex nutty aromas, combined with hints of honey and figs. On the palate, rich mature fruit flavours, beautifully mellowed with a luscious long finish. Tanners Vintage Port 2017 (Tanners Wine Merchants £39.50) A deep, rich wine full of blackcurrant fruit with lovely concentration, allowing it to be drunk young or kept for 15-plus years to add complexity.

Pick of the

Gl asl yn Ic e C rea m Pa rl ou r

Producers Snowdonia’s first ice-cream parlour celebrates turning 50 with exciting plans for the future


onnie Rowley is the third generation of her family to take the helm at Glaslyn. The ice-cream parlour and pizzeria in Beddgelert recently marked its 50th anniversary, and while celebrations are on hold thanks to the pandemic, there are ambitious plans to expand. Ice-cream themed chocolates will join the product line-up of award-winning ices, home-made waffles and click-and-collect pizza. Bonnie, 32, said: “This is about marking 50 years in business, but it’s also Covid-19 and responding to a changing world. It would be nice to have a party but that will have to wait for now. “The business goes back to the 1940s, when my grandparents sold textile products across North Wales. In 1970 they bought the café and shop in Beddgelert, put a soft-serve ice-cream machine in the window – and the rest is history. It was my dad, Derek, who took advantage of his parents going away on holiday to throw out the textiles, turn the shop into an ice-cream parlour and concentrate “We all love on the café with my mum, Elaine.’ Home-made ice-cream has been Italy, its culture the cornerstone of the business ever and the food, since – the pizzas came later – and but we try to do Bonnie turned down a career with things our way” English Heritage to join the family firm in 2016. Now the University of South Wales graduate is in charge. She said: “I’ve bought the business I’ve worked in most of my life and we’ve now got a core team of 10 employees. Lockdown enabled me to plan a new winter product, the ice-cream inspired chocolates, and we moved into wholesale supplying tubs of our award-winning ice-cream. “We’ve always been innovative. We all love Italy, the culture and the food, but we try to do things our way – so the pizzas have Welsh names and our premium quality The pizzas have Welsh ice-cream is like traditional gelato names like Gelert, Eryri but using Welsh milk and butter. and Llywelyn January/February 2022 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 75

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“We wanted to create something a bit different with our savoury chutneys and wanted to link up with another Welsh brand”



Porthmadog’s Purple Moose Brewery raises a glass to a fruitful new collaboration


ark Side of the Moose, the multi-award-winning ale from Purple Moose Brewery, has been a favourite of beer drinkers and Shire readers for some time. But a recent collaboration has offered fans a new way to enjoy the tipple’s iconic flavours. The Porthmadog-based brewery was invited by food company Bwydydd Madryn to join forces in launching a tastebud-teasing chutney. The relish, part of its Calon Lân range, is infused with the deep malty and blackcurrant flavours of the Dark Side beer. According to Madryn’s managing director Geraint Hughes, they were looking to add a new line in response to customer demand. “We wanted to create something a bit different with our savoury chutneys and we wanted to link up with another Welsh brand, so we approached Purple Moose. We experimented with a few beers but Dark Side of the Moose was the one that worked best.” Purple Moose managing director Lawrence Washington is

A cut above

T here’s a new whisky on the block and it 's going fast The first release of Wardington’s Original Ludlow Whisky, aptly named the Distiller’s Cut, launched on 26th November and sold out online in under four minutes


ardington’s Original Ludlow Whisky is true small-batch production. Just 400 bottles of this English single malt have been made. Every bottle is adorned with a beautiful, tactile letterpress label, before being hand signed and numbered so you know exactly which of the 400 bottles you have. Ludlow is the creation of master distillers Shaun Ward and Mike Hardingham, who struck up a friendship in 2018 and worked together to create the ultimate dram. Finely crafted in what is believed to be the smallest commercial whisky distillery in the UK, the production also involves an unusual wood-fired German column still, the only

delighted with the outcome. “It’s brilliant to be able to collaborate with Madryn because it improves the fantastic offering from the food and drink producers we have in North Wales,” he said. Like Madryn, Purple Moose is going from strength to strength and now employs more than 40 people at the brewery, the town’s Australia pub and two shops in Porthmadog and Betws-y-Coed. Lawrence adds: “Dark Side of the Moose is a dark bitter – not quite a porter and not quite a stout. It’s one of my favourite beers and it’s won by far the most awards of any of our ales. It’s 4.6% and it’s got a really nice, deep flavour from the darker malted barley that goes into it. That rich, biscuity taste is balanced with the bramlingcross hops, which give an almost blackcurranty aroma. Geraint Hughes, managing director It works perfectly with the of Madryn Foods with Lawrence chutney. It’s a marriage Washington, managing director of Purple Moose Brewery made in foodie heaven.”

one in the British Isles. “We are a little bit obsessive,” Shaun admits. “Ludlow Whisky is the ultimate ‘slow food’ and it’s made with an incredible amount of care and love. The Distiller’s Cut, First Edition is all about hand-crafted excellence.” So, what about the whisky itself ? At its heart lies the combination of the finest English malt with the finest Scottish peated malt. As Shaun says: “It’s simple. To make the best single malt whisky, you must start with the finest ingredients.” The pair involved master brewer Jimmy Swan to develop a unique process to give the fullest flavour. Working in small batches, a longer fermentation ensured maximum results. At the heart of the distillation is their unique wood-fired German column still dating from 2001. Precisely controlled, the four copper plates gently quadruple-distill. The result is a refined spirit bursting with barley flavour. The whisky is then carefully poured into a single-use American bourbon barrel. It’s here that the spirit adopts its gentle oaky flavour. After some time, it’s transferred into a single malt Scottish whisky barrel for finishing, which softens the oaky bourbon notes. Only when it’s perfect do the master craftsmen gently water it down with purified water from the Welsh Marches, and then gently non-chill filter it to a hearty house strength of 42%. The result is an exemplary medium-bodied whisky with fragrant notes of heather-honey, Fancy a cocktail? malt, a subtle hint of butterscotch and crème caramel, balanced with has the ultimate a touch of peat. recipe guide! Distiller’s Cut Bottles 2-10 are currently on auction. Find out more at

Did yo u kn ow?

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Daisy & Tilly’s A village store – and a fair bit more... DELI • HOME BAKING • FINE WINES & BEERS • GREENGROCERY • REFILL STATION

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We’ll take care of all the catering & any other arrangements you need. All you need to do is invite the guests. Llanarmon Road, Glyn Ceriog, Llangollen, LL20 7EU

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he slightly weird and definitely wonderful Italianate village of Portmeirion was created by Welsh architect Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 to 1976, to show how a naturally beautiful site could be developed without spoiling it. The village and gardens are one of Wales’ premier visitor The Beatles loved Portmeirion – George Harrison spent his 50th birthday here attractions, welcoming over 200,000 visitors every year. mid-week break (Monday-Thursday) or a full seven nights Portmeirion is home to two hotels, a cluster of historic (arriving on a Friday or a Monday). Kitchens are fully equipped cottages, iconic archtecture, stylish shops, award-winning restaurants, casual cafes, an ice-cream parlour, exotic with crockery, utensils, glasses and a microwave oven. All cottages have TV, phone and wifi. Towels and gardens, sandy beaches and a a spa. Thousands visit “People linen are included while in the area but more and more people are extend in the price, and choosing to extend their trip and stay in the village itself – with beds are made their trip good reason. up prior to arrival. to stay in Guests enjoy A break here is the village free entry into like no other. Portmeirion Portmeirion Village itself” and Gardens and Village on the use of the heated North Wales outdoor pool. Complimentary coast has 13 individually transport from local train styled self-catering cottages A fairy tale come to life… and bus stations is available, all available to book for a as are dedicated parking bays. How better to experience three-night weekend break somewhere truly out of this world! (Friday-Sunday), four-night On the seafront

Glamping wagons at Overwater Marina


itting beside one of their brand-new luxury railway glamping wagons, Janet and Angus Maughan are a long way from where they started out. Angus began working life as a dairy farmer, while Janet lectured at Manchester Metropolitan University. Together with Angus’s sister Maria and late father Richard they created the award-winning Overwater Marina, near Audlem – a 230-berth inland marina Janet and Angus Maughan enjoying the evening peace on the Shropshire Union Canal. Since opening in 2010, in Audlem to be met by the family farm’s horse and cart. Overwater is now home to a range of boating services including Café at Bridge 80, a narrowboat workshop, and the It is Overwater’s links to the old ‘Gingerbread’ line that community-run Audlem Lass ferry and Wheelyboat services. inspired the theme for the new wagons. Bespoke-built by In 2017, the team added a small touring park of fully serviced Cedar & Oak of Holmes Chapel, each features little touches camping pitches, which proved hugely popular, and never ones to remind guests of the railway heritage. Each wagon has its to rest on their laurels, they own sleeping area and have just completed their full bathroom facilities with heating provided latest venture, Lakeview – a “Steps by Everhot cast-iron spacious seasonal touring away is site with four luxury glamping stoves. As glamping is, wagons. The wagons have of course, as much about access to been positioned to take the outside space, two the old of the wagons have their in the lake view, while GWR” own wood-fired hot only steps away is access to the old Great Western tubs, perfect for a dip as the sun sets. Guests Railway (GWR) line. Here Anyone for a dip? can enjoy picnics along the nature has taken over, and it is easy to forget this was once a busy track atmospheric railway cutting, glimpse moving people and freight. Angus the canal boats on the Shropshire Union as they pass by on remembers his father reminiscing about the aqueduct, or relax by the fishing and wildlife lakes. Overwater Marina’s Glamping Wagons are open all year and travelling home from school along the line as a boy, alighting at the station can be booked at or call 01270 812677. A cosy wagon interior 80 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2022

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f you’re planning on hitching up the caravan and heading off to explore the Shropshire countryside, make sure Hawk Lake Caravan Park is on your list of stopping points. Nestled in a magical setting in Hawkstone Park, it’s a peaceful spot despite being conveniently close to the historic town of Shrewsbury. The site is idyllically located on the banks of Hawk Lake, in the grounds of the Grade I listed Hawkestone Hall. The lake was carved out of the Shropshire countryside around 1776 to represent of The Serpentine in London, where the owner of the hall, Sir Rowland Hill, also had a residence. In the 1930s, the Ralphs purchased the park as a farm and “It’s ideal

habitat for kingfishers, herons and water voles”

Relax in the tranquillity of nature

after a period out of family ownership, Stewart and Irena Ralphs bought Hawk Lake back in 2011. Following substantial and careful restoration, the park provides

The perfect escape from daily routine

a quiet retreat for fishing, relaxing and observing the wildlife, away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Hawk Lake offers five touring pitches, each with electric hook up and on hard standing, as well as 45 static caravan pitches, and sits right on the bank of the lake itself. One of the main highlights for holidaymakers is being able to fish right on the doorstep. Keen anglers can make the most of it, as the owners offer both day and season fishing on Hawk Lake. The water is home to a good range of carp, roach, perch, bream, tench, rudd and pike, while the banks provide ideal habitat for a wealth of kingfishers, herons, woodpeckers and the shy water vole. For information and to book a pitch, please Look for the flash of the kingfisher call 01630 685209.

Pod at the parc


f you want action and adventure on your next break, why not head to Adventure Parc Snowdonia, where thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies will be in their element. There are few places on the planet where you are assured perfect, consistent surf, but the parc is home to a world-first surf lagoon and the only guaranteed surf breaks in the UK. And that’s not all! Check out the range of non-stop outdoor adventures, indoor activities and weatherproof options, as well as a sublime spa, newly opened, for those really wanting to get away from it all. For a truly Everything you need for a chill weekend relaxing break, it’s easy to design your own day from the experiences on your doorstep. Adventure “Everyone take your pick from woodland pods or a lagoonParc Snowdonia has over 10 different activities side setting. Each holiday pod comes with heating, can have on offer, ranging from surf sessions and lessons lighting, plug sockets and a decked seating area right through to indoor high ropes and outdoor out front. Guests use shared shower and toilet a go at facilities in a spick-and-span amenities block. adventures, something ensuring Each pod sleeps four, with one double bed truly everyone and two single beds (bedding is not supplied), can have and is lockable and fully secure. The pods are unique” a go at just a short walk from the lagoon and main something facilities, and breakfast is served from 8am in the truly unique. Surfside Deli. Smoking is not permitted in any of the pods. Leave the tent at The site has two accessible pods with ramped access, home on your next which sleep a maximum of three guests per pod. There are a limited number of dog-friendly pods which trip as the parc’s simple wooden can accept up to two medium-sized dogs per pod, as long pods are the perfect as they are not left unattended. alternative. You can To book, see

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New Moon for the new year I

f you need something to look forward to over the winter months, why not plan ahead and book a relaxed break on board a Cheshire Cat Narrowboat. This small family-run firm is based at the award-winning Overwater Marina, Audlem, on the Shropshire Union Canal. It’s a stunning location, just below the Audlem Lock flight, and only three hours’ cruising time to the beautiful and ever popular Llangollen Canal. In spite of early setbacks due to Covid lockdowns and restrictions, Mark and Linda Edwards enjoyed a busy hire season in 2021. Their new 60ft luxury four-to-six berth boat New Perfectly equipped Moon proved a bit hit. With a comfy

Relax as the world drifts by

lounge, two bedrooms and two showers, there’s plenty of space to relax and unwind. For the chefs, she boasts a large galley with full-size cooker, fridge, and real wood worktops. So successful has the boat been that the couple have commissioned another new boat for fitting out in the spring. And if you thought Mark and Linda would be spending winter with their feet up, think again. They’ve just completed five weeks of working in the historic Canal & River Trust dry dock in Ellesmere, painting and preening “the girls” ready to welcome guests next season. “Bookings are coming in fast, and we are also taking bookings for 2023, for those who like to plan well ahead.”



he team at Lyons Holiday Parks have been proudly making happy holiday memories for families for over 90 years, so it’s no surprise that they hit the mark when it comes to the perfect holiday in North Wales. Their site at Pendyffryn Hall Caravan Park & Country Club is an idyllic and serene holiday home and touring park sat between the Conwy Valley and the Edwardian village of Penmaenmawr. “Relax Perfectly located within Snowdonia National Park, on the it offers plots where you can relax on the balcony Caravans to suit every style and budget and absorb panoramic views over the Menai Straits balcony and Puffin Island. At Pendyffryn Hall, Lyons always has a range and Visitors will discover of caravans and accommodation for sale to a spectacular blend suit every style and budget and residents enjoy absorb of natural beauty a true community feeling with regular BBQs, the view” and a rich medieval live entertainment in the club and special heritage on the events throughout the year. The park can offer doorstep, and you are never far a finance service and always welcomes visitors to view from the alluring sandy beaches the new and pre-owned properties available to buy. See of the North Wales coast. The hills on your doorstep

Low-impact building

Your own holiday home, to your own design


ith the confusion and chaos currently surrounding our chances of holidaying abroad, you may have decided this is the time to invest in a little bit of luxury of your own and be considering a holiday home purchase. But if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, exactly where you want it – why not go a step further and have a unit built for you, to your own design, and then choose where to put it. One local company can help you do just that. Utilising years of timber frame building expertise, Lowfield Leisure lodges and pods are built to last, with the highest

quality finish. Lodges are built with a robust steel frame, meaning they can be easily relocated, reconfigured and repositioned, giving you flexibility as well as quality. With a range of holiday accommodation options available, from smaller two-berth pods to larger six-berth lodges, there’s plenty of choice, and Lowfield Leisure structures can also be transformed into non-accommodation specifications such as toilet blocks, offices or sales suites to suit your needs. Having completed the first ‘passivhaus’ (net-zero ready) social housing scheme in Powys, a new-build primary school in Welshpool and a social housing development in Shropshire, the firm has secured more passivhaus Think big… projects for the future. And as parent company Lowfield Timber Frames has invested in its own Warmcel insulation system, roof insulation can now be installed during the manufacturing process, reducing the time working at height on site. So make that holiday dream a reality. Find out more at or call 01743 891922.

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your very own slice

of the countryside

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.


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

Atlas Powys


Set beside Hawk Lake in the grounds of Hawkstone Park, this Caravan Park is great for a peaceful getaway. Atlas Powys, 2 bed, 36x12 Caravan An exclusivelly designed model with central heating, double glazing, . This model carries an indulgent feeling throughout with beautiful upholstered headboards, soft neutral furnishings and plenty of room to stretch out. Llawrbetws Caravan Park is located near Bala, North Wales and is surrounded by scenery, wildlife and top Welsh attractions, we are an excellent base to go and explore.


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



Self Catering Accommodation in our Bespoke Glamping Wagons Both with a Wood-Fired Hot Tub

Hard-standing Touring Pitches at our Award Winning Waterways Marina

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All enquiries please call us on 01270 812677

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Hit the road


f you’re still debating where to head on your next holiday, why not change tack and consider how to get there? Renting a motorhome will save on expensive hotel costs and give you the freedom to travel where you like, at your own pace. Perhaps you already have plans in place to attend an outdoor event or festival? Why not upgrade from a tent this season? Touring Cars motorhome hire at ES Hartley offers a fivestar luxury rental service. All rentals include unlimited mileage, luxury bed linen and towel package, a fully equipped kitchen, and collection and drop-off seven days a week, all from just £110 per day. The attention to detail means you will walk into your rental motorhome fully prepared and ready for your trip – it’s just like stepping into a luxury hotel room. There are a range of layouts and berths There’s no limit on mileage

Where next? Wherever takes your fancy!

available within the fleet, including two, four and six-berth motorhomes with a choice of single, double and bunk beds. There are even some pet-friendly vehicles, so your four-legged friends can come with you! ES Hartley has an unlimited mileage policy, “It’s like which means you don’t just have to stay in stepping the UK. You are insured to visit any European country if you have specified your travel into a arrangements when booking your hire. luxury To discuss hiring a motorhome call the hotel” team on 0151 350 6871 or email manchester@ Motorhome rental is also available in Malaga, Spain – contact us for more details.





everyone: from extensive or a truly relaxing break, let someone else do all five-day trips such as the the work on an organised popular one to Cornwall coach tour from a local firm to the Weston-super-Mare with decades adventure that takes holidaymakers of experience. “…known to explore the Owen’s Travelmaster, glorious South for their based in West, close to the care and Oswestry, offers lively cities of Bath attention and Wells. Shorter the very best coach and air to detail” stays include themed tours such tours, with the emphasis as the Country & on comfort, well-planned Western trip to Caernarfon. itineraries and excellent Days out include shopping service and cuisine. The in Manchester city centre or The Trafford Centre, and the schedule has something for company also runs evening theatre trips to incredible shows across the country. With their reputation for care and attention to detail, the team at Owen’s can also create an itinery to suit the requirements of you or your organisation or group. A wealth of experience

ooking to invest in a slice of holiday heaven? Check out this unique development of holiday cottages on the beautiful Llyn Peninsula. Phases 2 and 3 of the luxurious Natural Land site have recently been completed, offering 25 two, three and five-bedroom properties. Each cottage at the Nature’s Point development has been thoughtfully

Spectacular views

designed and built to a high specification, and finished to a luxurious standard. This select location will offer the perfect holiday home or rental investment. Natural Land negotiated the purchase of distressed

Quality finishing

assets from Yorkshire Bank, which were divided into three. Firstly, eight newly refurbished stone holiday cottages, farmhouse/ reception, 29 lodge pitches and services. Second, a 35-room disused hotel above Nefyn Bay, and third, Henbant Bach, a derelict farmhouse with 80 acres of land. Developer Natural Land said: “It’s our mission to share and preserve the world’s most beautiful spaces and create real, enduring value. To that end, we select projects based on their potential. Our expertise affords us the rare opportunity to craft resort communities that preserve the character, beauty and traditions of the landscapes they call home.”

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


Hire for a day, a weekend, a week or longer




Spend a day exploring the beautiful Shropshire Union Canal aboard our 10 seater, self-drive Day Boat • Ideal for family celebrations and team-building days • All-weather accommodation • Easy to steer – no experience necessary • From just £110

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.

Tel: 07867 790195 • Robin and Jane welcome you to Newnes Touring Caravan Park, where they have created a wonderful haven for visitors to escape from their busy lives and get back to the wonders of nature. For adults only.

Call us anytime 01691 624464 or 07972 066291 Ellesmere, Shropshire, SY12 9HH

7 nights self-catering from £150





Northfield Holiday Park

Bring a pet for just £25

Call us on 01970 871464

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AIM HIGH After the huge success of archery’s Big Weekend in the summer, more and more people have been taking up the sport once reserved for Robin Hood wannabes – and it’s easy to see why


ot only is archery one of the few common. At the end of the course, the sports genuinely suitable for club will normally invite you to join, everyone to have a go at, it also helps to at which time you would usually also build muscle endurance and flexibility, and develop hand/eye coordination and body strength. There are mental health benefits too, as it improves focus, drive and resilience, perfect for mindfulness and letting go of everyday stress. Archery is for all genders, ages and abilities. It’s a truly inclusive sport and those taking part are generally a sociable lot! They compete and learn together and love sharing cake or a barbecue away from the shooting line. All around the country, clubs run beginners’ courses tailored to the Master a new skill needs of their communities, which are delivered by qualified coaches. become a member of Archery GB. One of those promoting the current So if you fancy taking aim, visit www. surge in new recruits is local and use the club archery club Long Mynd finder tool to book your first course. Archers, which has been running since 1978 and Get ready “It improves counts six-time Olympian You can also try archery focus and Alison Williamson at one of many approved and Paralympian Kay centres, including at holiday resilience, and Lucas among its past parks, tourist attractions is perfect for members. The club and through organisations like the National Trust and now has almost 50 letting go of Scouts. All equipment is members, with a mix of stress” provided, and everyone is junior and senior archers insured during the sessions. from Shrewsbury, Telford, Wear flat shoes and tie back Bridgnorth, Much Wenlock your hair if long (you don’t want it and surrounding villages. tangling in the bow!). Sunglasses or a Courses can vary from club to club, visor are advisable in bright sunshine. but they will all share some things in As with many sports, archery can be done with basic equipment. As you progress, you may find tailoring your kit can help improve your technique – it’s up to you how technical you make it. Age is definitely no barrier: it’s not unusual to see people on the shooting line aged from eight to 80 – or even younger, as there is a ‘soft’ version of the sport with arrows fitted with suction cups instead of points.

Let the kids have a shot

CLOUD SURFER Clive Williams leads us high above the Cheshire Plain



walk over Bosley Cloud – ‘the Cloud’ – is a must if you’re near Congleton. The view from the 343m (1125ft) summit looks out over the Cheshire Plain and on a clear day we could see as far as Winter Hill transmitter in Lancashire, across to Fiddlers Ferry in Warrington, and my home hills of the Breiddens on the Powys border in the distance. The gritstone hilltop and adjacent slopes are owned by the National Trust, and you’ll find walking routes on their website. A popular starting point is Timbersbrook picnic site (CW12 3PP, parking free). Following the finger posts, you can choose You can see for miles between very steep steps on the lower slope or taking the right-hand path for a gentler ascent along part of the Gritstone Trail. Whichever you pick, the views reward the effort! We walked from the Plough Inn, just outside Congleton – a glorious seven miles in fine weather. However, the terrain near the top can be rough underfoot and you may wish to adapt your route to your party’s abilities. Download a map at

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SEEING RED Red squirrels were the UK’s native species until the introduction of their grey cousins all but wiped them out, leaving just a few sanctuaries where they still thrive – including one in the Shire patch


here are two species of squirrel in the UK, red squirrels and grey squirrels. The population of reds is currently estimated at just 140,000 compared to 2.5 million grey – although red squirrels lived here for around 10,000 years before their grey cousins were introduced from North America by the Victorians in the 1800s. Colonies of red squirrels once thrived across Shropshire and Cheshire, but sadly they were wiped out by the spread of their counterparts in the 1970s. But there is one spot in Wales where they are doing well, thanks to local wildlife schemes and the hard work of the Woodland Trust – Anglesey. The island is a red squirrel “Anglesey success story. As part of a is a success restoration project, grey squirrels story, home have been cleared from its to as many woodland and the population of reds has been boosted. Thought as 700 red to number just 40 individuals less squirrels” than 20 years ago, it is now home to as many as 700 red squirrels.

Not out of the woods yet

The flash of a red squirrel leaping from branch to branch is an unforgettable and increasingly rare sight in the UK’s woods. There is a confirmed population in Formby and occasional reports of sightings in other areas of England. In Scotland, in many cases, red squirrels have retreated to wilder, more remote locations. Unfortunately, without conservation management, they could become extinct in England in as little as 10 years. Time is really running out to save this childhood favourite with its familiar bushy tail. The red squirrel is famed for its orange-red fur but is actually quite Anglesey is a conservation success story variable in colour, ranging

DID YOU KNOW? Squirrels communicate by twitching their tails!

from vivid ginger to dark brown. In winter, the fur is often tinged with grey, and large tufts develop above the ears. Red squirrels have a large tail that is almost as long as their body. They rely on trees for their food, with their diet mainly made up of seeds and nuts. Pine seeds are a particular favourite, but they will also take hazelnuts and the seeds of larch and spruce. Tree shoots, bark, lichen and fungi are other sources of Th er fuel, along with fruit. Young ed birds and eggs may be scavenged but this is rare. In autumn, squirrels will bury seeds and nuts, ready to be eaten when food is scarce. They do not hibernate, although they may be less active in winter.

Against the odds

If you do head to Anglesey to try and spot a red squirrel, the best time to go is in autumn, when they are busy preparing their winter larder. Be prepared to look up, as they spend far less of their time at ground level than their grey counterparts. Red squirrels have undergone one of the most drastic declines of all UK mammals as they just don’t have the survival skills of their grey cousins. The larger greys are able to outcompete reds and they also carry the squirrelpox virus, which they are immune to but which is fatal to red squirrels. The Woodland Trust is helping to conserve the red squirrel by protecting its habitat, supporting grey squirrel management in red squirrel areas and by backing research that suggests the recovery of pine martens could help boost red squirrel numbers by reversing the spread of invasive greys.

88 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2022

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s t e P e Cut



a £25 voucher for Bradeley Green pet store in Whitchurch, to spend in-store or online at

Milo, Yoda and Spike

Solo Honey Bun the rescue Tilly showing off her w new che



Shady and Herbie

Rufus the standard Schnauzer

Dora on top of the world! Brodie


Sandy the golden retriever

Elle on border patrol

Scooby Lou

Douglas with his favourite read

Billy the Staffie Bobby

s tulation Congra wner of o to Sue, ho wins w Jorgie e’s Cute this issu etition! p m o Pets c

Lacey and Goji the kittens

Charlie Bradeley Green, Tarporley Road, Whitchurch, Shropshire SY13 4HD

Jorgie the bearded collie

Win some pet treats! To enter, email a photograph of your pet and their name to and the Shire team will pick the winner! Terms: The winner will be chosen by Shire and be given the option of receiving a voucher to spend in-store or a digital code to redeem online at The voucher will be valid for six months and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.

January/February 2022 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 89

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WATCH THE BIRDIE With figures still showing an alarming decline in our native bird species, charities and conservationists are urging people to help our feathered friends this winter


his is always an important month for bird-lovers as the RSPB holds its annual Big Garden Birdwatch (this year from 28th to 30th January) and asks as many people as possible to join in. To take part, you simply count the birds you see in your garden, from your balcony or in your local park, for a full hour anytime between these dates and let the charity know what you spot. Designed to be suitable for everyone, whether you’re a complete beginner or a fully fledged expert, you’ll get all the help you need when you sign up, from bird ID to caring for your winter visitors. You’ll find plenty of advice on how to attract garden birds and how to identify them – and you never know what you might see. Maybe you’ll enjoy a charm of chattering goldfinches or a flock of feisty sparrows? Or will it be the soulful song of a robin that wins your heart? Everything you log will help the charity in its vital conservation and protection work by informing them of which birds are in decline and which are on the up.

Reporting back

Meanwhile, finch numbers have continued to fall, with the lowest numbers ever recorded for greenfinches and chaffinches. The sad truth is that there are actually far fewer birds around. Over the past 50 years, 40 million birds have vanished from the UK’s skies. And it’s not just birds that are suffering. The RSPB’s latest State of Nature report found that around two-fifths of UK species are in decline, including turtle doves, red squirrels and water voles. Nature needs our help like never before. Find out how to join in and do your bit for birds and wildlife at

UK’s top ten most commonly spotted birds 1. House sparrow 2. Blue tit 3. Starling 4. Blackbird 5. Woodpigeon

6. Robin 7. Great ti t 8. Goldfinch 9. Magpie 10. Long-tailed tit

n bi Ro

More than 17 million birds were counted in Big Garden Birdwatch 2021. It was the organisation’s biggest Master of song, the blackbird Birdwatch ever, with over a million people taking part. Top spot went to the house sparrow; this plucky little bird took the Birdwatch crown for the 18th year running, although blackbirds and robins also did well, moving up the spotters’ table to come in at 4th and 6th place respectively.

The house sparrow has topped the charts for 18 years


th e


rde n

er ’s co



Cheshire Wildlife Trust shares its plans to turn exhausted farmland into a wildlife haven of meadows, woodland and ponds


aving successfully raised the money to buy some Cheshire farmland at the end of last year, Cheshire Wildlife Trust is about to start transforming it into a wildlife paradise. The Saltersford Farm plot, on the banks of the River Dane, is equivalent in size to 25 football pitches. But years of ploughing and fertilising have eroded the soil and sent chemicals into the water. The Trust plans to plant trees to join up “We can the existing patches and create homes for make this woodland dwellers like tawny owls. Digging a reality ponds will attract waders like curlew and but we lapwing, while species-rich new grassland still need will provide homes to bees, butterflies and other insects as well as small mammals. your help” A spokesperson for the Trust said: “Saltersford Farm is less than a mile from our Swettenham Valley reserve, so buying this land will help create

a corridor for plants and animals to move freely through the valley. Imagine wildflowers perfuming the air where butterflies drift by day and owls quarter by night. A pristine river invites jewel-coloured dragonflies and even the flash of a kingfisher. We can make this Will the kingfisher return? a reality in the Dane Valley but we still need your help.” Over the next two years they need to repay a £400,000 loan from the charitable trust that helped to buy the land, while the ambitious five-year restoration plan is expected to cost around £200,000. To donate, visit

90 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2022

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Gate Expectations Inwood (Cymru) Ltd

` ade to measure

wooden gates and side hinged garage doors


Happy New Year!

FREE £10 Voucher

to use in February When you spend £100 in one transaction in January!*

01745 362 444 Come and see us in our workshop! Unit A1, Cefndy Industrial Park, Cefndy Road, Rhyl, Denbighshire, LL18 2HJ

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Open Monday to Saturday 9am-5pm I Sunday 10am-4am 01948 668 100 I Bradeley Green, Whitchurch, SY13 4HD

Here at Mulberry Alpacas we have:

Alpaca socks Lovely knitted items Penrose alpaca duvets and pillows Alpaca yarn and fleece Cuddly toys And a herd of freindly Alpacas So, come and visit soon! Mulberry Grange, Red Hall Lane, Higher Penley, Wrexham, LL13 ONA


Tel: 07713 639 447 or 01978 710224 Email: We’re 4 miles north of Ellesmere



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Snack time!


Treat your garden visitors to an extra helping when Nature’s larder is low


2 3



7 8 9




13 14

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

National Trust CJ Wildlife Vierno Diner seed feeder feeder, £10, National Trust Shop Hanging feeder, £39.95, Metalbird Peckish globe window feeder, £9.95, Shawbury Garden Centre, Shrewsbury Oswald bird table, 155cm, £69.99, Minshulls, Crewe Curve, cavity nest box by Simon King, £22, Ginger & Browns, Blakemere Village Geneva feeding house, £29.99, CJ Wildlife, Shropshire Abbey table, £140,, Ellesmere, Shropshire

8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

Smart Garden 2m scroll-design triple garden hanger, £24.99, The Old Railway Line Garden Centre, Brecon Bittner suet bird feeder, £38.99, Wayfair Burgon & Ball apple bird feeder by Sophie Conran, £7.99, Sow Clever Acorn birdfeeder, £15.99, British Ironwork Centre, Oswestry Beach hut feeder, £6.99, Tweedmill Outlet, St Asaph Egg bird feeder in terracotta, £14, RSPB Shop Tribus bird feeder and bath, £16.99, British Ironwork Centre, as above

92 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2022

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OTE £35K per year Due to expansion and economic recovery, there is now an opportunity to join the Shire sales team. You’re a good communicator and enjoy building relationships with clients. If you want to work with the most popular glossy magazine for Wales and the Borders, we want to talk to you. You will work from home, with flexible hours to suit your work/ life balance, liaising with business owners and marketing teams directly to help them choose their campaigns and their coverage in Shire Magazine.

You are a proactive self-starter who enjoys working on your own initiative, and you are outgoing and personable. You are highly organised, and have good computer skills. We’re looking for someone who is keen to succeed and to become a key, permanent member of the Shire team. This position is PAYE, not freelance. You have at least three years experience in a sales role, preferably in media, but other sales experience will be considered. Above all else, you are a trustworthy and hardworking individual, someone who gets a real buzz from achieving results for clients and hitting targets.

Please send your CV and contact details to, call the office on 01691 661270 All applications will be treated in the strictest confidence. Telephone calls to discuss the role can be scheduled for out of work hours.

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Warm, friendly & welcoming Shire Magazine, The best of North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Wirral & Shropshire Get in touch or 01691 661 270

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24/12/2021 11:23

Health&Beauty START AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON Lots of us begin the new year with healthy intentions – and cutting out alcohol for Dry January is an increasingly popular option. But is it really doing us any good?


s another new year arrives in a flurry of streamers and the popping of champagne corks , we thought we’d have a look at alcohol – and the popular practice of knocking it on the head for the month of January. Millions of people take part in Dry January every year, but when most immediately start drinking again on 1st February, is there actually any long-term benefit? The initiative was started by the charity Alcohol Change UK in 2013, when 4,000 people joined in, and support has snowballed every year since. In January 2020, over 100,000 signed up via the website, although an estimated 4 million took part.

“Almost a quarter were now in the low-risk category”

Spot the difference


ey yo u’ll save!

Laying off the booze can bring huge benefits, says the charity – some more obvious than others. “On the outside, you’ll notice your skin getting brighter, your wallet fuller, your days busier. Feel your step get bouncier, your mind calmer, your nights sleepier. Seventy per cent of people sleep better, 86 per cent save money and 65 per cent notice generally improved health.” Research published in the British Medical Journal found that a month’s abstinence lowers blood pressure, reduces the diabetes risk, lowers cholesterol and reduces m levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood. But can e f th such a short-term commitment have a lasting effect? The Think o

charity worked with alcohol behaviour change expert Dr Richard de Visser from the University of Sussex to establish the facts. Visser volunteered his time to survey participants in 2020’s campaign. Encouragingly, he found that in July, six months after the campaign ended, seven out of 10 had reduced their drinking habits overall. Almost a quarter of those who had been drinking at ‘harmful’ levels before Dry January were now in the low-risk category.

Life skills

Being alcohol-free for 31 days shows us we don’t need alcohol to have fun or to relax. It helps us learn the skills we need to manage our drinking and means that for Challenge yourself… the rest of the year, we are better able to make decisions about when we drink and how much. That’s good news for our health in so many ways, because alcohol is linked with more than 60 health conditions, including liver disease, high blood pressure, depression and seven types of cancer. In fact, alcohol is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability for people aged 15-49 in the UK. Cutting back long term reduces your risk of developing these conditions. If you want to give it a try, or have started Dry January and need some support, download the free Try Dry app from Alcohol Change UK or visit the website for help.

This time: facts and falsehoods about shivering


Myth buster

Your body shivers when you’re cold to keep you warm Absolutely true. Shivering is one of the ways your body responds when your core temperature is under threat. (An increase in your breathing rate is another.) It happens involuntarily as your muscles contract and, amazingly, it can triple your body’s heat production.


People shiver with fear This one is also true – but it’s more like a tremble than an uncontrollable shiver. When we’re anxious, a region of the brain called the

amygdala responds to the threat by increasing the production of adrenaline, the ‘fight-or-flight’ hormone. This works directly on receptor cells in muscles to speed up the contraction of the fibres ready for fighting or fleeing, making us shake.


We shiver when we fall in love Odd but true! As we’ve just seen, we shiver not just as a reaction to temperature but to sudden changes to our adrenaline levels. When we feel emotions like love or sadness, our brain ups the adrenaline in our blood, triggering our muscles to contract. The sudden rush may cause goosebumps, sweaty palms, tearfulness and increased blood pressure, along with some good old-fashioned shivers down the spine.

94 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2022

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A HORTICULTURAL HAVEN While Shire loves to share public gardens around the patch with you, sometimes a smaller, more intimate green space can have an even bigger impact on people’s lives…


hances are you may not have heard of the charity Horatio’s Garden, but you will certainly have heard of its public ambassador – one Alan Titchmarsh MBE, the nation’s favourite gardener. Alan recently appeared in a BBC Lifeline Appeal to champion these very special gardens, which are created at hospital sites to offer sanctuary to patients and families. There are five Horatio’s Gardens in England and Scotland, with work in progress to add a sixth, in Wales, and another in Northern Ireland. The charity’s fourth garden, Horatio’s Midlands, opened at the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, near Oswestry in 2019 and was designed by well-known Gardeners’ Question Time panellist Bunny Guinness. One of the patients who found it an antidote to her situation was Pip, who spent months at the centre after a riding accident. The garden became a place of solace, where she could spend precious time with her husband, Tony. A tranquil space for healing and re-learning She said: “I’d not been outside for such a long time. I remember going to the garden for the first time; the sun was just peeking through and it touched some green leaves in front of me. It was the most amazing feeling.” After Pip’s accident she was left tetraplegic, and shortly after she contracted pneumonia. When she was finally strong enough, she was transferred to the RJAH and it wasn’t long before she became


Horatio’s Garden is a national charity that works to improve the lives of all those affected by spinal injury, through creating and nurturing beautiful gardens in NHS spinal injury centres. The team grows communities to support patients and their loved ones as they adjust to what are often life-changing injuries. The environments they create become an integral part of patients’ lives over many

a daily visitor to Horatio’s Garden Midlands. Finding pleasure in the simplicity of the great outdoors, she began attending every workshop she possibly could with head gardener Imogen.

Long journey

At first, Pip worked with an occupational therapist, who sowed seeds as she chose them in her horticultural therapy sessions. With the seasons shifting and her confidence growing, she began flower arranging, directing Imogen how and where to cut Pip with one of her creations each stem and where to place it in the display. Another project involved designing and planting up a miniature garden, with a “Seeing tiny hand-painted house. Fully absorbed, it was the sun only in hindsight that Pip realised how skilfully touch the the ventures had supported her rehabilitation, leaves was giving her the opportunity to practise directing an amazing the people helping her – a vital skill that would make her return home just a little easier. feeling” Pip said: “Everyone at Horatio’s Garden, especially Imogen, made a huge difference to my stay and recovery, just as the garden, garden room, craft and films have too. I can’t thank you enough for creating this beautiful place.” Regarding the appeal, Alan Titchmarsh said: “This is a chance to demonstrate what I’ve always believed: that gardens are great healers. The charity truly deserves the support of every one of us.” months, complementing the clinical care from the centres’ teams. The charity employs a head gardener and an admin assistant to care for each garden alongside volunteers, and to support the many activities organised by the charity. These include garden therapy, art therapy, book and poetry clubs, craft groups, concerts and teas. The charity is named after Horatio Chapple, a volunteer at the Salisbury centre who had the idea for a garden and researched its design, before his untimely death age 17. January/February 2022 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 95

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Ne w , r a e y

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It may be chilly and wet outside, but January and February are ideal months for planning your borders and vegetable beds and preparing for the arrival of spring


ow is the time to order seeds and plants, so spend those extra hours indoors leafing through catalogues, checking out suppliers and drawing up border and vegetable plot plans. It pays dividends to order fruit trees and the crowns and tubers of perennial vegetables such as asparagus, rhubarb and artichokes early, as you can get ahead as soon as weather conditions allow. Browsing through the latest collections can also make spring seem that much nearer! There are also plenty of jobs to do outside on calmer, drier days. Here Lis Morris, lecturer in horticulture and sustainable technologies at University Centre Reaseheath in Cheshire, shares some tips:

• • •

Get ready to sow and grow by cleaning your pots, tools and canes. Give sheds a good sweep-out and tidy up leftover bags of compost and fertiliser. Check stakes, supports and ties and replace any damaged in bad weather. Plant out bare-root roses, chit first early potatoes and start off sweet peas on a warm windowsill indoors. Regularly harvest sprouting broccoli and Brussels and lift leeks, parsnips, swedes and turnips while still tender.

Order seeds in good time


Make room in the garden for one or two of these plants to keep our feathery pals nourished through winter Pyracantha

This garden favourite is often called firethorn because the orange berries look like flames. It can be grown as a shrub or trained as a climber. Birds adore the tasty berries and perch on the branches among the evergreen foliage.


Sorbus (commonly known as rowan) is another berry-bearing plant beloved of birds. After flat clusters of white flowers in late spring, the leaves turn yellow in autumn, with orange-red berries on the stems adding some vibrancy to the shrub.

Prune deciduous shrubs and fruit trees, removing anything dead, diseased or damaged to encourage new growth. Dead-head winter pansies to stop them going to seed.

Remove snow from cold frames and brush off conifers to prevent branches snapping.

Have fun planning your dream garden

If you can’t “treecycle” your Christmas tree (see Tip), shred it into your compost. Only add a bit at a time though, or you might reduce the nitrate levels.

Regularly put out food and water for hungry birds and leave parts of your garden untidy until spring to provide shelter for small mammals and insects.

TOP TIP Shropshire Council “treecycling” is in aid of West Shropshire Talking Newspaper this year. So recycle!

See (for diplomas and RHS courses), (for degrees) and www. (adults)


The common teasel, also known as Dipsacus fullonum, is often associated with wild areas, but the shapely seedheads are great for structure in any style of garden. It’s a native plant and beloved of goldfinches, which have a fine beak for getting out the seeds.


Winter-flowering honeysuckle smells amazing and is perfect for covering walls and fences. In the depths of winter it produces flowers filled with nectar, attracting plenty of tasty insects for the birds.


Holly bushes are great for evergreen colour and produce red berries in winter that the birds love. The famous spiky leaves give protection from predators, meaning they will often roost among the branches.

96 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2022

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Sketching for survival

After enjoying success in a creative conservation competition, one Holywell artist is determined to turn her passion for painting into a viable business

Sonia loves to paint endangered wildlife in particular


onia Garner had dabbled with drawing for years, but when she was among the finalists selected from 1,000 entries across 47 countries in the ‘Sketch for Survival’ contest, she decided to take the next step and pursue her artistic dream. The competition, organised by Explorers Against Extinction, was to raise awareness of catastrophic issues including habitat loss, illegal wildlife trade and climate change. Sonia’s work was praised by the judges, which gave her the boost she needed. Now the artist, from Whitford near Holywell, is planning to open a studio, launch a new website and pursue a lifelong dream to turn her creative passion into a successful start-up. Sonia has produced hundreds of pieces over the years, from acrylic and oil paintings to sculptures and soft pastel sketches. With her strong social media following and the support of husband Mark and daughters Josephine and Kacie-Jane, she is ready to make the leap full time.

Business backing

Business Wales has been on hand with expert guidance and advice, as Sonia sets out to turn her vision into reality. She said: “I have always painted and had a natural talent for it, but it’s only ever been something I did in the background. I was very shy growing up and this was the only real way I could express myself, so it means a lot to me. I also love animals and wanted to be a vet when I was younger – painting them is the next best thing! “To be chosen among the finalists by Explorers Against Extinction has given me extra belief that I can and should be doing what I love, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.” As a child, the family business saw Sonia moving home all over

the UK, attending schools from Swinton to Doncaster before settling in North Wales. She studied Fine Art at Liverpool John Moore’s University, and then worked in manufacturing and administration, continuing to sketch and paint in her spare time. “I wanted to be an art teacher when I did my degree, but that never came to be. It dawned on me after years of working in admin roles and being a mum to young children that I was going to have regrets if I didn’t do something about it,” said Sonia. “I did put the brushes down for a while, but in the past few years I’ve been prolific, it’s been non-stop. And not just animals – I’ve painted landscapes, seascapes, portraits and more. I can cover most subjects, but I do have a huge passion for wildlife and conservation, especially animals under threat of extinction, which is why I entered the competition with the portrait of a wild dog. That will now be auctioned off for the charity, so as well as the honour of being shortlisted the piece will help the organisation as well.” Sonia is looking to give back to her community and hopes to feature in regional exhibitions before opening a studio. “I’m just going to go for it,” she said. “Turning this into a business is a difficult

“It’s terrifying and exhilarating in equal measure but I’m excited to see where my art takes me” thing to do because creative people tend not to be commercial, but I am determined to make a viable success of this. It’s terrifying and exhilarating in equal measure but I’m excited to see where my art takes me.” You can view and purchase Sonia’s artwork at www.sonia and follow Sonia on social media at soniagarnerartist

98 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2022

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Model with meaning

A stunning sculpture of a dragon is under construction, with a deep message – it’s made from weapons and knives handed in to police during an amnesty campaign

The Artists’ Gallery, Ludlow Farm, Bromfield, Shropshire The Artists’ Gallery proudly presents the work of a group of eight artists who collaborate to produce beautiful, innovative and highly skilled work in a spectrum of disciplines. Exhibits range from original paintings, collectible limited prints using a variety of processes, textile bags and totes, bronze and resin sculptures, to handcrafted bowls, art forms and jewellery made from unusual wood, all sustainably sourced. The gallery at Bromfield is open daily from 10am to 5pm (4pm on Sundays) and visitors can be assured of a warm welcome. More details at www.


nspired by sculptor Alfie Bradley’s imposing ‘Knife Angel’ sculpture at the British Ironworks Centre in Oswestry, Coleg Cambria has joined forced with North Wales Police, Wrexham Council and other stakeholders Dragon designer John Freeman (left) with project lead Karl Jackson, in the on an ambitious project college workshop for Wrexham. Using weapons safely handed in at local police stations as part of regional amnesty campaigns, a 3m dragon is planned at the college’s Bersham Road site, where students and staff will spend the next year welding and fabricating blades, knuckle dusters and other relinquished weapons onto a steel frame in the shape of a dragon. Assistant principal for the Institute of Technology and site lead at Bersham Road, Karl Jackson said: “This statue will form the centrepiece for multi-agency work that will inform and educate, in an effort to maintain low instances and reduce occurrences of knife crime in the area. District Inspector Luke Hughes, based at Wrexham Town, said: “Wrexham is a particularly safe place and knife crime isn’t as big a problem as it is in other parts of the country. However, through the very nature of offences involving knives, it only takes a single act to cause devastation. In a moment of madness, the lives of so many people can be changed forever. As such, it is particularly important that we create opportunities to highlight knife crime and what we can do to prevent it

Collect Art, Lymm, Cheshire Lymm-based gallery Collect Art has launched a unique complimentary service for those interested in learning more about starting an art collection. As part of their ‘Intro to Art’ initiative, gallery owner Martin Heaps and his team are offering in-depth art consultancy sessions for current clients and anyone keen on finding out more about art and art collecting. The move is particularly relevant given recent restrictions on access to cultural venues, and the Collect Art team is available online, over the phone, in the gallery or even for home visits. Martin explained: “Whether you are looking to acquire art for decorative purposes, as an investment or through a passion for the arts, building a strong collection requires time and knowledge, and navigation of potential pitfalls along the way.” For more about Collect Art or advice about starting your own collection visit, call 01925 759 988 or call into the showroom at 29 The Cross, Lymm.

Spreading the message

Karl said: “Our concept is that of a dragon protecting a child. The dragon will be welded by our skilled tutors and learners, and I’m sure will look incredible on completion. It will be placed on a concrete plinth of Welsh stone slate in front of the Institute of Technology, with red, white and green uplighting, to represent the dragon sitting amongst the remnants of a Welsh castle. But it can also be moved and transported, and used to help educate people to the dangers of carrying weapons and the devastation knife crime can cause.” “In recent months we have taken more than a hundred knives off the streets of Wrexham in our local amnesty,” said Inspector Hughes. “This project serves as a reminder that as a community we can protect our most vulnerable by working together to raise awareness and educate anyone who might otherwise make the wrong choices. Made with weapons we have seized from our own streets means they’ll never be in position to harm anyone again.”

Ruth Grellier Ruth Grellier is new to the art world and already displaying her work online, thanks to the ease of sharing photos on social media. Ruth retired in July 2018 after 30 years as an optician in Leg Street, Oswestry, and was looking for something to fill her much-prized free time. As her father had been an amateur artist for many years and had always encouraged her to give it a try, she decided it would be a good hobby for her retirement. Ruth started with water colours and has now branched out into acrylics and mixed media, experimenting with painting different subjects and using different techniques. Her work is available to view on Instagram – simply search @Ruth Grellier

January/February 2022 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 99

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PHOTO COMPETITION What a brilliant response we’ve had to our most recent photo competition. We have only been able to show a few of our favourites on these pages – we could almost have filled an entire magazine! You obviously all enjoy snapping the birdlife in your gardens, and out and about across the patch, as ‘Feathered Friends’ proved a popular theme. For our next competition we hope you are just as inspired and we’re giving you the challenge of capturing some great seasonal shots. So with the title ‘Winter Wonderland’, get out there and snap away! Please email your entries to – and good luck!

by Ji Parry

by Ji Parry

by Paul Lewis

by Ken Lawrence

by Sam Hulse

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by Ji Parry by Barbara Roberts

by Sam Hulse

by Khryn Ha

by Sue Meor

by Khryn Ha

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by Ty Walker

by Ji Parry

by Michee Boden

by Ken Lawrence

by Tracey Lewis

by Ken Lawrence

by Ken Lawrence

by Khryn Ha


by Ji Parry

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by Khryn Ha

by Ken Lawrence by Norman Marsha January/February 2022 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 101

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Newly launching in 2022, Parker & Penelope is a luxury driving service for exclusive and bespoke weddings. Our unique approach means that you choose from a range of vehicles, including top brand luxury for the bride, a choice of supercar for the groom, and luxury guest travel in our fleet of Range Rovers and Mercedes. We also offer a vintage and retro selection for you to self drive to your honeymoon aboard one of our partners’ helicopters or superyachts! Please enquire for our simple pricing structure and a bespoke quotation. We provide private drivers who are your own bodyguard and concierge for the entire event or your regular business or theatre trip. Contact us via WhatsApp on 07588 206321 or email

The Hall with it all A

rley Hall in Cheshire is a perfect, romantic venue for grand weddings, civil weddings and small intimate celebrations. With friendly, professional and relaxed staff, your day will go without any hitches. Intimate and peaceful or full of bustle and excitement, it can be whatever you wish. Set amidst breath-taking surroundings; Arley Hall is an impressive example of a Victorian country house built in the Elizabethan style and is one of the most interesting and attractive stately homes in the country. The lavish ceilings, elaborate carvings, fine plasterwork and stained-glass windows create a wonderful feeling of grandeur and make this the perfect setting for any wedding celebration.

We operate from our bases in the Midlands and the North West.

16th January, Wedding Open Day Come along and see the magnificent Hall set up for a wedding. Chat to the Arley staff, who will be able to answer any questions you may have about any part of your special day. There are various locations at Arley where you can get married, so your wedding can be as grand or as intimate as you’d like. In the Hall itself, in the gardens against the backdrop of our award-winning herbaceous border, or in the historic Cruck Barn – you can see them all at this open day. And Cheshire East Registrars will be on hand to talk you through the main points of the ceremony should you wish. The open day runs from 10am to 3pm. No booking is necessary, and entry and parking are free.

PIZZA @Pizza Peddlers





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DID YOU KNOW? Napoleon III stayed at Arley, in what’s now the Emperor’s Bedroom


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ddings Arrive in style P

arker and Penelope’s wedding service is second to none – the luxury of a private chauffeur with access to your choice of vintage or supercar for bride, groom and guests, to ensure that your special Fe event is a lifetime memory. el l ike ro With an emphasis on meeting yalty clients’ personal needs and requests and attention to the finest details, Parker and Penelope’s private chauffeuring service creates a personable, professional and luxurious experience, whatever the purpose of your trip. Whether it’s a journey to the airport, a personal driver to get you to and from a meeting, or a special event such as a wedding or evening out, comfort, relaxation and discretion are assured at all times from a fleet of top-of-the-range vehicles, all offering refreshments and gift packs.

Fun feasting P

izza Peddlers has been catering for weddings and parties from a funky vintage Citroën HY van for the past six years, serving authentic wood-fired pizzas. They offer a friendly, professional service and have been fortunate to be able Fe stiv al vibe to share special moments at many weddings, private parties, festivals and corporate events, including some exclusive celebrity engagements. Their award-winning pizzas are homemade and hand-stretched, using the finest local and Italian ingredients, and are cooked fresh to order from the beautifully restored pizza truck. The team can cater for all dietary requirements including vegan, vegetarian and gluten free, as well as meat-lovers, and work with you to create a bespoke menu that will impress your guests. You can find @pizzapeddlers on Facebook and Instagram, or call 07806 809797.

Raise the rafters! I

f you’ve always dreamt of a country-style wedding, Plas Isaf is the perfect venue for your special day. All the original features of this 17th-century listed barn have been retained, creating an authentic and truly unique atmosphere. Your ceremony will take place in the barn itself, and you have the choice of hosting your wedding breakfast in the main hall of the barn or in the marquee next to it, overlooking the open countryside. Plas Isaf has spectacular views over the Dee Valley and is ideally located, not far from the A5 near Corwen. It’s also very versatile, with impressive oak trusses and slate floors providing a blank canvas for whatever theme or decorations you choose. The marquee positioned next to the barn creates the opportunity for any type of celebration, from an intimate gathering for 30 guests to a party for 300. With the help and dedication of our family team, every effort is made to ensure your wedding will be the most memorable day of your life.

For romantic wedding settings, it’s hard to beat Plas Isaf Country Barn and Gardens, overlooking the glorious Dee Valley

DID YOU KNOW? Plas Isaf also has a cosy log cabin for your wedding night…

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Say cheese! A

fter something a little bit different for your big day? Cheese wedding cakes have really taken off in the past few years, with many couples now preferring one instead of a traditional Vis tiered and iced fruit cake. n o i it fo r a tasting sess Of course it’s perfectly feasible to have both, with the cheese cake providing a delicious course of the wedding breakfast. Other couples prefer to serve the cheese cake at the evening reception, where it’s guaranteed to add a real wow factor. Apart from delighting guests with a visually stunning centrepiece cheese wedding cakes are cost effective, too, with prices from less than £2 per person. Finding the right combination of cheeses for your special day is easy. Porter’s Deli in Llangollen is happy to advise – in fact, the team recommends you visit the shop for a private tasting. In this way, the best cheese can be selected to meet your particular tastes and budget.

Shire suggests… Along with the local suggestions on the rest of this page, we’d like to give a shout-out to some other local firms and suppliers that can help your big day go smoothly…


lanning a last sail before the veil? A private party charter with Chester Boat is a popular way to celebrate your last night of freedom – and an experience your bride-to-be won’t forget.

Your dream dress T

risha’s is an established bridal shop in Oswestry, and a trusted member of the British Bridal Suppliers Association. Since opening its doors in 1997, the business has gone from strength to strength. The shop now has two luxurious second-floor showrooms, showcasing over 250 designer gowns, which are constantly replenished throughout the year to keep up with the fashion trends. Trisha’s is delighted to be ‘by appointment only’ in the bridal suites, as this ensures that all brides have total privacy and the full attention of a bridal consultant while choosing their dream gown. To complete your wedding-day look, Trisha’s has a stunning range of bridal accessories. All five members of staff are passionate about being involved in every wedding and enjoy helping to create a unique and special day for you. The downstairs showroom features a wide range of bridesmaid dresses, prom and evening gowns in an array of colours and sizes.


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DID YOU KNOW? Until Queen Victoria wed Albert in white, brides often wore red

For a venue with thrills and excitement, consider Chester Racecourse – the oldest racecourse still in use in the world, complete with beautifully manicured lawns. This picturesque setting features 30 acres of breath-taking green space. See

To mums searching for the perfect mother-of-the-bride outfit: we recommend a trip to Daniella of Nantwich, at 29 Beam Street, where Jean and her team provide a friendly, relaxed and stress-free atmosphere, working with you to achieve an elegant, chic and stylish appearance. Alternatively, So Chic boutique at 154 High Street, Bangor, specialises in occasionwear including a selection of fabulous hats, shoes and jewellery.

Hughes of Welshpool has been catering splendidly for all types and sizes of occasions for over a century, from seated dining to full buffet or just drinks and finger food. They also offer gin and cocktail bars.

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Stockist of leading Designer Bridal Gowns Evening Gowns Cocktail Dresses Prom Wear Bridesmaids

Sizes Available 4 to 32 Accessories In house Ladies & Gents alterations

Our friendly, professional and dedicated staff will help you choose your outfit for your special occasion. Established since 1997 Monday - Friday: 9am - 5pm • Saturday: 8.30am - 1pm

57-59 Beatrice Street, Oswestry • Tel: 01691 671133 Email: •


At Butterfly Dental Practice we use the latest technological advances in the field of equipment and materials to provide our Patients with the highest standards of dental care. While the treatment plan is being prepared, we provide the Patient with opportunity to discuss the available treatment options with qualified Staff – the Patient makes the final decision about the amount he wants to invest in his healthy smile.

• Conservative treatment • Dental care for children • Cosmetic dentistry • Oral surgery • Endodontics • Periodontics • Implants • Crown and bridge • Dentures • Orthodontics

Your temporary financial shortage is not an obstacle to follow the treatment at all – we offer our Clients the interest-free loan that allows spreading the payment for the planned dental services across the convenient and easy-to-pay instalments at no additional cost (0% APR finance). We invite you to take an advantage of our offer – private quality at the affordable price. OPENING HOURS Monday – Thursday: 9am to 8pm Friday: 9am to 6pm Butterfly Dental Practice, Victoria Road, Oswestry, SY11 2PQ Telephone: 01691 656 360 Email:

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e v i t c A t e G , t i F 1

Whether you’re hitting the gym or braving the elements, get your exercise regime off to a slick start with these sportswear staples







7 6


13 11 15

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Paramo Grid neck warmer in flame red, £20, Pro Adventure, Llangollen Regatta Edley men’s half-zip fleece, £19.99, Anna Davies, Betws-y-Coed Saucony men’s Ride 14 ViziPro running shoes, £125, Up & Running, Shrewsbury Force men’s reflective water-resistant running jacket, £24.99, Mountain Warehouse Barbour Cascade sports cap, £19.95, Peppers Menswear & Ladieswear, Church Stretton Sprayway Roola men’s half-zip base layer, £31.49, Winfields Outdoors, Chester Musto Essential Evo microfleece, £42.50, Cherry Tree Country Clothing, Ruthin

8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

New Balance Fast Flash men’s singlet, £25, Up & Running, as above Fynch Hatton Basic sky blue T-shirt, £24.95, Bodenhams, Ludlow Nike Metcon 7 men’s training shoes, £114.99, Sports Direct Men’s seamless short-sleeved dynamic yoga T-Shirt in burgundy, £14.99, Decathlon GANT Men’s retro shorts, £69.95, Outdoor and Country, Chester Superdry Orange Label classic joggers in navy marl, £50, Smart Ass Menswear, Conwy Cushioning low running socks, £12, Runderwear Asics Lite-Show running tights, £49, Wiggle

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m r a W p U Wrap


Banish the winter blues with knits that are both stylish and snug

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Lexxie organic cotton fluffy Fairisle yoke jumper, £89.95, Thought Twist-knit pompom beanie in pink, £11.95, Cherry Tree Country Clothing, Ruthin The Shawl Wrap, £1,100, Douglas Attire, Ludlow Beatrice knitted dress in charcoal melange, £110, Boden Leah Collection scarf, £22, Roobarb, Bridgnorth Part Two pure wool knit vest by Karinlise, £79.95, So Chic, Bangor Barbour Peak Fairisle knit sweater, £69.95, Peppers Menswear & Ladieswear, Church Stretton Bea wrap jumper in navy, £45, Melin Meirion Mill, Machynlleth

9. Soya Concept jumper, £60, So Chic, Bangor, as before 10. Seasalt women’s cabin socks, £12, Polly Aberystwyth 11. Sugarhill Yvette cardigan, £60, Sleek Boutique, Nantwich 12. Check skirt, £49, Woolovers 13. Dorset knitted jacket, £46, Crew Clothing Co 14. Pleat front-pocket detail jumper in sauterne, £64.99, Mistral 15. White Stuff Olivia colourblock jumper, £49, Anna Davies, Betws-y-Coed 16. Dents women’s snowflake knitted gloves, £19, Bodenhams, Ludlow January/February 2022 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 107

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Independent Day & Boarding School for ages 9-19

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Top of the Class

SCHOOL NEWS LIBBY IS A PUBLISHED POET Many students from Abbeygate College entered the 2021 Young Writers Competition: Empowered. The theme aimed to encourage young people to make Animet lam as dolupta themselves heard and take back some control following the disruption of the pandemic. Year 11 student Libby Matthews’ poem was chosen from over 12,000 entries and will appear in an anthology called Empowered – A Fountain of Ink.



Jeff Kinney with librarian Zoe Rowley

International bestselling writer and illustrator Jeff Kinney visited Wolverhampton Grammar School on the UK leg of his global tour to celebrate the release of his latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book


from 800 schools across the country. Head he Diary of a Wimpy Kid Drive-Thru librarian at WGS, Zoe Rowley, interviewed Experience on 17th November saw Jeff about his new book and his journey to families from Wolverhampton and cities becoming a global bestselling sensation. across the UK enjoy a fun and interactive Students in Years 6 and 7 had the pleasure outdoor experience themed around Jeff of being part of the live Kinney’s new Wimpy Kid audience in Big School, and title: Big Shot. Families competition winners from drove through sportsthe Junior and Senior School themed scenery and were able to ask Jeff questions participated in basketball about his life and what and football challenges inspired him to write the before reaching the finish line, where Jeff series. Intriguing questions personally delivered signed were also posed by children as far away as Bristol, Cornwall, books and posed for photographs with his fans. Coventry, Nottingham, The following morning, A rapt audience in Big School Swindon and Plymouth. Zoe said: “The event was a Wolverhampton Grammar School, Puffin Books and Authors Aloud huge success and we felt extremely honoured UK organised a virtual event that was liveto welcome Jeff to our school,” adding: “It was one of the highlights of my career.” streamed to over 80,000 schoolchildren



Wrexham Glyndwr student has been named St John Ambulance Cymru’s National Cadet of the Year. Joshua Taylor, a first-year Professional Policing student, was also nominated for Volunteer Cadet 2020/21 at the Lord Ferrers Awards by the North Wales Police Citizens in Policing team. Joshua, from Caernarfon, has always wanted to be a police officer, and got involved in

volunteering at age 14. He now volunteers for the police and St John, and has invested an estimated 400-500 hours of time so far. As a representative of cadets across Wales, Joshua attended an event where Princess Anne was guest of honour. He said: “She was really nice, chatty, and very keen on youth voice, which is what being a cadet leader is all about – empowering young people.”

Joshua Taylor

An Aberystwyth University student has won a prestigious award for developing a new method that could help diagnose animal diseases and cancers. Sara Lind Valdimarsdottir, a student of equine and veterinary Sara Lind bioscience, has been awarded the British Society of Animal Science’s Undergraduate Thesis of the Year. Sara’s study aimed to develop and test a low-cost system for identifying changes to DNA chemistry during development or when an animal is under stress. She now has an opportunity to present her work at the society’s annual conference.

APPLE ACCREDITATION FOR ALDERLEY EDGE GIRLS Alderley Edge School for Girls has been re-accredited as an Apple Distinguished School for 2021-2024. This status, first granted in 2018, has been awarded for its ongoing commitment to providing a technology-rich environment to support students in achieving their goals in and out of the classroom. The use of iPads in class has allowed teachers to bring learning to life and has allowed students to broaden their skills in videography, photography and drawing.

CRIME CONFERENCE FOR PSYCHOLOGY STUDENTS Psychology students at Birkenhead School took part in a one-day conference about prison and life behind bars. Thought-provoking questions helped them Contemplating crime… consider whether prison is an effective strategy for crime reduction, and they were presented with a true-life case where they had to act as the jury. They were also able to interview ex-offenders.

RESTAURANT REOPENS AT DERWEN COLLEGE The popular Orangery has reopened at Derwen College. The restaurant has been closed since March 2020, and students and staff were delighted to usher the first diners to their tables. The restaurant has a new look but prices have been kept competitive. Commercial supervisor Sharon Jones said the college was “over the moon” that its outlets are now open. “The support of the public is vital to the success of the venues as work experience for our students.” Open weekdays 12pm-2pm.

First-class service

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SCHOOL NEWS LACROSSE SUCCESS FOR MORETON STUDENTS Lacrosse is thriving at Moreton Hall, with the 1st team currently dominating tournaments around the country. Moreton’s 1st team, U14s and U13s are undefeated against other schools, the U15s have lost only one match and the U12s have won every match except for one draw. In addition to team success, individual players have risen to national level, with more than half of the first team now playing for national teams. Another success is sixth-form student Hannah Legge, who has gained an athletic scholarship for lacrosse to attend the University of Mount Olive, USA, in addition to an academic scholarship. Head of lacrosse Miss Walsh said: “This demonstrates the commitment and hard work the girls put Hannah Legge in here at Moreton.”

NEW TECHNOLOGY AT NEWTOWN COLLEGE Fronlas Farm at Newtown College has welcomed the arrival of a Hereford calving simulator, one of only a few in the UK. The simulator, which is almost Students with the learning aid life-sized, will help teach all factors relating to cow reproduction and allow students to practise calving skills before entering the workplace. Although most cows birth unaided, there are times when assistance is required for a safe delivery. Agriculture lecturer Kath Jones said: “We’re so lucky to have this fantastic tool. Simulators are mostly found in veterinary colleges.”


100% pass rate

Performing arts plays an important role in co-curricular life at Oswestry School, and last term nearly 200 pupils sat a mammoth face-to-face exam session with the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art board (LAMDA). Pupils from year 2 through to GCSE and A-level took exams in Verse & Prose, Public Speaking, Acting and Musical Theatre. Every pupil passed with merits and distinctions, and a massive 86% received the top mark. Bravo!

AWARD RECOGNISES QUEEN’S PASTORAL CARE The Queen’s School in Chester has been recognised with an award for Best Independent Well-Being & Pastoral School – North West England, in the Education and Training Awards. Headteacher Sue Wallace-Woodroffe said: “I know the level of care and support all the staff at Queen’s provide is exceptional, but it is lovely for them to see it recognised officially. I am proud to be part of such a nurturing environment, enabling the girls to feel secure in their learning and truly achieve their full potential.” Sue Wallace-Woodroffe

Shrewsbury School awarded World Athletics Heritage Plaque


hrewsbury School has been named as one of seven recipients of a prestigious athletics award, as well as being placed in the distinctive virtual Museum of World Athletics. The World “…an Athletics Heritage outstanding Plaque is awarded contribution for “an outstanding contribution to the to the worldwide history worldwide and development of sport” the sport of track and field athletics and of out-of-stadia athletics disciplines such as cross country, mountain, road, trail and ultra-running, and race walking.” Shrewsbury School has been awarded the plaque alongside Japan’s first Olympic champion and the New York City Marathon, as well as

five other sites. The sport of cross-country running originated at Shrewsbury School in 1819 with the creation of the “paperchase” game across countryside. The event continues to A long tradition thrive, with around 70 boys and girls regularly training and competing each season both in the UK and internationally. Sign in to visit the virtual museum at

Education ‘Oscar’ for Myddleton College


ne of the newest private schools in the UK has scooped two major awards at the independent education sector’s ‘Oscars’. Myddelton College, Denbigh, which was founded in 2016, was the only school in Wales to be honoured at the Independent Schools Association awards, with wins for ‘Outstanding international involvement’ and ‘Outstanding sport in a small school’. The involvement award paid tribute to the college’s pioneering role in reaching out to schools in the USA, Russia and France to form a shared learning network, which began during lockdown. The judges were also impressed at the diversity of Myddelton’s sporting provision for a school whose numbers are below 300.

Delighted staff and pupils

Students have competed at international level at tennis, sailing, wheelchair basketball, fly-fishing and showjumping while their regular outdoor learning days involve scrambling and climbing, canoeing, kayaking and orienteering.



Jason said: “Butchery is a great career easeheath-trained butchery apprentice for young people, particularly if you like Jason Edwards has proved he is the nation’s best by winning a gold medal at the being active and creating things with your hands. There are also a lot of opportunities WorldSkills UK Butchery national finals. for progression”. Jason, 27, completed WorldSkills UK is the his FDQ Diploma in Professional Butchery nation’s largest celebration Level 2 last year and of vocational skills’ manages Littlers Butchers training, and showcases the technical expertise in Hartford. This is his and professionalism second medal at national required by apprentices. level and follows the bronze award that he won at the The ‘Olympic-style’ WorldSkillsUK finals in competition features more than 60 skills 2019. He will now go on to represent Team GB in the and contestants must demonstrate the Apprentice category at the standards required by World Butchers’ Challenge in Californiain September. Jason Edwards: “It’s a great career” their particular industry.

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Independent Day School for Boys and Girls Junior School ages 4-11 Senior School ages 11-16 Sixth Form ages 16-18

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RJAH and Keele University join forces M

edical students from Keele University are getting an exciting opportunity to explore their future career path thanks to a new partnership with Shropshire’s specialist orthopaedic hospital. “Students The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic are Hospital (RJAH) has joined forces with Keele’s School offered a of Medicine to offer medical students a four-week placement, marking the beginnings of a relationship four-week A chance to learn from specialists between the two institutions for undergraduate teaching. placement” At this stage of their studies, students begin to explore Keele University, said: “RJAH is an internationally postgraduate training, life as a consultant in different renowned institution that provides an outstanding specialities and spending time with junior doctors, educational experience for our medical students. speciality registrars and consultants to help inform career choices. We are delighted to be working closely with them, not only on Professor Christian Mallen, head of the School of Medicine at educational placements but also on their world-leading research”.

MEET THE HEAD Charlie Minogue, of Moor Park School, on levelling up and the transformative power of bursaries


f a random sample of British adults were to play a game of word association when the chosen words were ‘prep’, ‘independent’ or ‘private school’, the results would be Head Charlie Minogue predictable,” says Charlie Minogue. ‘Posh’, ‘exclusive’ and ‘expensive’ might make an appearance, although so might ‘excellence’, ‘results’ and ‘success’. Placed against these pre-conceptions, it is easy to see why some politicians believe the days of independent schools’ charitable status to be numbered. “Even as headmaster of an independent prep school, I sometimes struggle, morally, to reconcile the opportunities we can create with

Chester graduate tops the global catwalk


University of Chester graduate has been named as one of the world’s most up-andcoming designers of sustainable fashion. Lili Sipeki is among 10 emerging designers announced as finalists in the highly prestigious, global 2021 Redress Design Lily Sipeki Award. Recognised as the world’s largest sustainable fashion design competition, the Grand Final Show in Hong Kong was opened with Lili’s collection ‘REuniFORM’, which focuses on tackling the large amount of waste that results from school uniforms. By putting sustainable design talent in the global spotlight, the competition creates a unique platform for passionate and talented fashion game-changers to transform the fashion industry. Lili graduated from the University of Chester Fashion Design BA programme in 2020 with first-class honours. One of Lily’s designs

the reality for many children across the country, despite the best efforts of so many fellow professionals in maintained schools. “What is the answer? Well, we can look to the rest of the world for examples of how state and private education co-exist far more equitably. In this country, all taxpayers fund state education but only some are using it, the others choosing to pay “In other extra for their children to be educated countries, In other countries, the money the money privately. follows the child and parents may follows choose to top this sum up to have their the child” child attend an independent school. “We need to find ways of providing the best possible education to all children in the UK and, whilst there is a moral imperative on schools to offer bursaries and broaden access, there must surely also be a duty for Government to be more creative and forward-thinking.”



upils from year 1 at the Firs School Chester, an independent school for boys and girls aged two to 11, recently visited Chester Zoo. The children took part in this exciting trip as part of their science curriculum, learning about classifying animals into mammals, reptiles, birds, fish and amphibians. They participated in a ‘Curious Creature’ workshop and learnt lots of fascinating facts, understanding how to use terms like herbivore, carnivore and omnivore. They also enjoyed looking at teeth in different animal skulls and were amazed at the feel and length of the shed skin of the boa constrictor!

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WITH We have a variety of full and part-time courses starting January 2022, that will help you get your education back on track, upskill or progress at work or even start you on the path to your dream career. We have courses for everyone, including several full-time Fast Track to your Future courses that will help you get back into education. You may also be thinking of changing direction and our NEW courses have been designed so you can sample several areas and see what path you prefer. You can then be sure you are ready to progress in September 2022. We also have many part-time courses that can enhance job prospects or kick-start a brand-new career, especially those where there are skills shortages. You’ll be able to gain new skills and qualifications that local employers need, to help you progress, or to change careers altogether. Our courses run throughout the year, are flexible with small class sizes offering one-toone support.



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ennis is stronger than ever at one Shropshire school thanks to a blossoming reputation and stateof-the-art facilities. Ellesmere College currently “The has its biggest number of Academy high-level players and is putting on more tournaments showcases than ever before in the players on history of the school. a national Four years ago, it opened its level” indoor tennis centre, which has four courts – more than

Well played!

most other schools in the country – meaning that students can train every day, rain or shine. The Tennis Academy showcases players on a national level, many of whom are aiming for Wimbledon and turning professional after they finish their studies. In recent competitions 10 students won their categories.


Amélie Creer, a year 9 pupil at Rydal Penrhos school, competed in the Advanced category at the Great Britain Diving Federation competition in Cheltenham, where she was representing the Manchester Aquatics Centre Diving Squad as a guest .She performed six dives in tuck and Amélie in action pike positions across the 1m and 3m springboards and 5m platform. In her first national competition since February 2020, she contributed significantly to the success of the squad, which came away with six gold, six silver and three bronze medals.



erwen College, in Shropshire, is a vibrant, award-winning college with a determination to enable young people (aged 16-25) to achieve their goals. Many achieve the skills necessary to leave home and secure employment or further training. Students work in the unique on-site, commercial areas, which include a garden centre, charity shop, training hotel and print shop, and progress to work placements in the community. Public-facing skills in the community café William, who has a moderate learning difficulty and communication needs, learnt hospitality skills in the college’s “I learnt training hotel and Orangery restaurant. He says: “I learnt lots lots of of skills at Derwen, like cooking tea and getting a train to work on my own. I also gained my Bronze and Silver DofE skills and and took up running. I even did a half-marathon for charity. even did “At the moment I’m doing a catering course at my local college a halfand I am hoping to get a job and move into supported living.” marathon” Derwen College is located in Gobowen, with sites at Ludlow, Telford and Walford. Find out more at


Shrewbury School: committed to cricket

The Cricketer Schools Guide has included Shrewsbury as one of the top 100 senior schools in its annual supplement, which sees entries judged against an extensive set of criteria including commitment to cricket in the curriculum, facilities, fixture programmes and coaching. Also taken into account was how schools kept the game alive during the pandemic, and how they look to ensure cricket remains a central part of school life. Master in charge of cricket Andy Barnard said: “The tireless work of our outstanding cricket professionals Adam Shantry and Gwenan Davies, together with the support of our very experienced part-time coaches and ground staff, ensures that we not only provide a very high standard throughout the entire year but also seek to raise the bar year on year.”



r Heather Campbell, lecturer in entomology at Harper Adams University, was asked to work as an entomological consultant on Insects and Minibeasts, one of a series of Ladybird books on the natural world. Heather had a vital role in ensuring that the creatures it featured were correctly depicted and that the book was scientifically accurate. She said: “What they basically wanted was for someone to say ‘this is wrong’, or to tell them when there were interesting things they could say about each insect. What I would do is send them a lot of notes, saying things like ‘no, that leg runs from that part of the body’ or ‘no, that wouldn’t be that colour’. You don’t need to dumb things down because the readers are children – they understand

Some delighted medallists

Dr Campbell: no dumbing down

these concepts. For younger children, it’s at the point where they are often learning all kinds of words, so even something like ‘exoskeleton’ is just another word for them!”

The autumn term saw the return of the Welsh Schools Ski Championships in Llangrannog, Ceredigion. Schools from across the country sent teams to compete in the Primary and Senior competitions. This was the first time the event had been staged since 2019 due to Covid restrictions, and St David’s College sent a strong team of nine skiers to compete in both the boys’ and girls’ events. Both teams raced hard and came away with some fantastic results, including several gold medals. The St David’s College Senior Girls’ team was also invited to represent Welsh schools in the British Schools Championships in November.

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SCHOOL NEWS NSPCC WORKSHOPS RETURN The NSPCC supports schools with its ‘Speak Out, Stay Safe’ programme, which empowers children to speak about Keeping safe together their worries and stay safe from abuse. All workshops were moved online at the start of lockdown in 2020, and now Shropshire has been chosen as one of just a few counties across the UK to be involved in a small-scale pilot working to get the programme back into schools. St Winefride’s was the first to benefit from a visit from NSPCC Schools Service volunteers, who worked with children in years 5 and 6.

WGU WELCOMES NEXT-GEN SPEECH THERAPISTS The new BSc (Hons) in Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) at Wrexham Glyndŵr University is new to North Wales and offers local students an exciting opportunity to prepare for a career as a speech and A rewarding career language therapist for those with eating, drinking, swallowing and communication problems. The degree leads to a professional qualification, meaning that graduates can immediately uphold a caseload.

DRAPERS VISIT THOMAS ADAMS Thomas Adams School in Shrewsbury welcomed David Chalk, Master of the Drapers’ Company, for a David Chalk visits Thomas Adams visit at the end of November. Accompanied by Colonel Richard Winstanley (clerk), Robert Lumley (school governor) and Gillian Croxford (assistant clerk), the Drapers were keen to see the school in operation, and visited a number of subject areas as well as the boarding accommodation. The school was founded by Sir Thomas Adams, Master of the Drapers in 1640, and retains close links with the City livery company. In turn, the Drapers’ lends its support, both financially and on the governing body.

COLLEG CAMBRIA PROMOTES WELSH Coleg Cambria’s branch of Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol – Cangen Cymraeg Cambria – has been a huge success in the past year. Welsh medium students have enjoyed access to training, events and education online and on site, with over 50 students of all ages attending. Llinos Roberts, head of language said: “While we’re working hard tohelp the Government reach its target of 1 million Welsh speakers, it is crucial the programmes we deliver are Myfyrwyr coleg: college students relevant.”


Are you looking for high-quality yet affordable music tuition for your children? North Wales Music Tuition Centres can help. They are a not-for-profit charity operating out of five centres in Abergele, Colwyn Bay, Rhuddlan, Buckley and Johnstown. Their experienced tutors, all DBS-checked, teach in well-equipped studios and encourage learning up to exam and performance standard, but ultimately the learning is tailored to the needs and desires of the student. They also have a reasonably priced instrument loan scheme.

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Children’s University pilot scheme launches

Issuing ‘Passports to Learning’


chool children across Wrexham and Flintshire are being challenged to complete 30 hours of extra-curricular and volunteer activities, in order to gain an invitation to a special graduation-style celebration of their achievements. By the time a child turns 18, they will have spent just 9% of their waking life in a

classroom. The Children’s University is about making the most of the remaining 91%. Wrexham and Flintshire’s scheme works by issuing ‘Passports to Learning’ to young people whose school, college or organisation has signed up to become a member. The young people earn stamp codes by completing activities from “Children a Learning Destination – spend individuals and just 9% organisations of their that provide waking life exciting in class” opportunities in and outside of school, in the community and online. The pilot scheme will run until May and will be rolled out more widely from September.



ndependent film The Welshman, created by Bangor University graduates Lindsay Walker and Enlli Fychan Owain, has won a BAFTA Cymru Award in the short film category. “I can’t believe it’s won!” said MA Film Making graduate Lindsay. “The film was made completely independently. We were up against tough competition with much bigger budgets behind them – The Welshman was made with almost nothing.” The film is a documentary about the life of Owain Williams, one of the founders of Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru, the Movement for the Defence of Wales. Along with two others, Williams – now a councillor - was convicted and jailed for planting an explosive device at the Tryweryn reservoir project north of Bala in 1963. The act was in protest at people being forced to leave their homes in Capel Celyn when the village was drowned

Enlli Fychan Owain and Lindsay Walker

to create a reservoir. The project was granted planning permission by Westminster despite being opposed by every Welsh MP. Director Lindsay added: “Although the story of Tryweryn has been told many times, this is a film like no other. We think it should be viewed not only by Welsh people, but also by those outside of Wales to help understand our history on our terms.”

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St Winefride’s RC Independent School Belmont, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY1 1TE

Part-time and Distance Learning courses are available at Shrewsbury Colleges group • • • •

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Situated in Shrewsbury town centre, St. Winefride’s is referred to as, ‘the Little Gem in the Loop’. We are a small school with a big heart, founded in 1868 by the Sisters of Mercy, to provide precious opportunities, experiences and a sound education for all its children.

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Dr Vivienne Dacre, principal lecturer in therapeutic child care

child care programme. Its aim is to promote understanding about how stories and storytelling can be a fundamental way in which people make sense of their lives.

What’s your area of expertise?

I specialise in therapeutic child care, working with vulnerable children who are cared for away from home for a variety of reasons.

How did you get into this?

I originally trained as a nursery nurse and then went on to work in local authority day nurseries, where I found that occasionally we had concerns for children’s safety. This really got me thinking about how we take care of vulnerable children, when they’re going home to families experiencing chaos and various difficulties. I then trained as a social worker and later gained my Masters degree in therapeutic child care at Reading University. This unique course changed the way I approached my work as it focused on creating environments for children that are informed by psychology. I learnt about ways of working that promote resilience and well-being. After completing my Masters, I worked part time as field social worker and started teaching modules in social work alongside. It worked so well because I had real-life, current examples I could use in my teaching. When I saw an opportunity at Glyndwr on the therapeutic child care programme I was surprised; I hadn’t seen it taught anywhere at undergraduate level before. I applied because I’m passionate about helping students who want to work with vulnerable children.

How do you get on the course?

The majority of our students already work full time with vulnerable children and the course was created with that in mind. So the first two years are foundation level and focus on work-based learning. Students then have the option to complete another year, to graduate with a full BA (Hons) degree. Ideally applicants need to be working in the sector, but it can be volunteer work. They need to be doing at least 10 hours per week, and have access to case studies in their work. Additionally, applicants need the equivalent to a C grade in English and to have completed a Level 3 or 4 course in working with children and young people. The easiest way to find our course requirements is at We also run a short course of 12 weeks called therapeutic story work, which gives a basic introduction into what we offer on the

study in social work, teacher training or play therapy. It also opens up so many opportunities in this sector, as many organisations want to see that candidates have a thorough theoretical understanding What does the course entail? in addition to practical experience. During the first year we try and ensure We also find that many of our students that all our students have a solid theoretical are promoted within their organisations understanding, as many ideas around trauma during the course of the programme. We and attachment are want them to be well known but not confident with their clearly understood. ideas, as they are often “Glyndwr’s values We also give them the ones that know a strong academic the child the best. The promote a supportive grounding so they learning environment” programme enables feel confident in them to be confident studying at a higher working in a multieducation level. disciplinary context, so They go on to study modules such as child they can advocate on behalf of the vulnerable development and play, adverse childhood children they work with. experiences, attachment theory and child sexual exploitation. Why should people choose We develop those ideas in the second year Wrexham Glyndwr University? by focusing on the application of theory to Glyndwr’s values promote a supportive practice. We look at how attachment, trauma learning environment. We have so many and resilience theory can all be used in their support programmes in place because our work and we expore topics like the use of tutors come from practical backgrounds and creative methods, child sexual development understand the pressures of working full and the impact of sexual abuse. It’s a blended time. Many services can be accessed online, learning approach: students are only required which is more flexible for students too. to attend campus about eight times a year and can access all the learning materials online.

What practical work is involved?

Reflective practice is incredibly important. Students undertake a range of projects where they demonstrate how theoretical understanding underpins their practice decisions. Some modules require portfolio work: tasks and accounts of practical experiences. They also develop a creative piece on an aspect of their own life story, to develop a safe, informed approach to life-story work with children. In their final year they’ll conduct their own piece of research. It could be looking at the therapeutic use of animals in care, or the language used in a care environment, but it needs to be individual to them.

Students cover the theory and practice of supporting vulnerable youngsters

What are the career opportunities?

The programme can act as a springboard into postgraduate

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ne thing is for certain: the past 18 months will have had a substantial effect on children’s ability to thrive in the coming year. I’d like to share one of Mighty Minds’ best tools for positive mental wellbeing for you and your child today: the Magical Higher Pitch exercise. Take a large sheet of recycled paper. Then pick a sport – any sport. The Mighty Minds team loves football, so we’ll use a footie pitch as an example. You might go for a swimming pool or karate dojo. Now draw and design your own Magical Higher Pitch. There is one rule: only positive things get to go onto it. Only the things that you love. In your chosen space, draw, write and create everything that's precious to you and that you want to achieve – the more creative, the better. Allow

your imagination to fly! Attach your child’s page to the bedroom wall. Before lights out, ask them to pick one item and make up their own bedtime story about it, to ensure inspirational dreams. Encourage them to add to their Magical Higher Pitch once a month to maintain focus. Place your own Magical Higher Pitch where it will encourage you to stay focused. You have visualised your future with love and positivity; take those dreams and strive forward with one objective – to create your new reality. Be childlike and connect to the freedom that allows us all to thrive! Mighty Minds will be running six-week courses for children in summer 2022, on building positivity and mental resilience. For details email

Mighty Minds believes children and parents should be given the tools to strive and thrive

Lisa Whelan has dedicated the past 20 years to creating a firstclass wellbeing resource that is simple and fun. The results are Mighty Minds, a six-week animated positive resource designed specifically for children, and the ‘Calm Your Mind, Control Your Life’ Mind Flight course for adults. See for more. January/February 2022 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 119

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Limited company audits Financial Accounts preparation Corporateservices sales and purchases Self assessment Divorce & separation agreements Tax VATplanning Returns Business planning Accounts preparation Corporate sales and purchases Making Digitalaudits LimitedTax company Financial services VAT Returns Business planning HMRC enquiry investigations Tax planning Limited company audits Financial services Business & fault reviews Making Tax Digital Tax planning HMRC enquiry investigations Visit our website at Making Tax Digital Business & fault reviews HMRC enquiry investigations


he introduction of Making Tax Digital (MTD) for Income Tax Self-Assessment (ITSA) has been delayed by one year until April 2024. This change was announced in a Written Statement to Parliament. The reason for the delay was given as combination of the issues many UK businesses and their representatives are facing as a result of the pandemic as well as feedback from interested parties. MTD for ITSA will fundamentally change the way businesses, the self-employed and landlords interact with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). The regime will require businesses and individuals to register, file, pay and update their information using an online tax account. From April 2024, the rules will apply to taxpayers who file self-assessment tax returns with business or property income over the amount of £10,000 annually. General partnerships will not be required to join MTD for

“You will fi le, pay and update tax information using an online account” ITSA until a year later, in April 2025. The date other types of partnerships will be required to join will be confirmed in the future. The new system of penalties for the late filing and late payment of tax for ITSA will also be aligned with the new MTD dates. Some businesses and agents are already keeping digital records and providing updates to HMRC as part of a live pilot to test and develop the programme. The pilot is not affected by the delay and will be extended in 2022-23 in preparation for wider testing in 2023-24. Under the pilot, qualifying landlords and sole traders (or their agents) can use software to keep digital records and send income tax updates instead of filing a self-assessment return. The MTD regime started in April 2019 for VAT purposes only, when businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold were mandated to keep their records digitally and provide VAT return information to HMRC using MTD compatible software. From April 2022, MTD will be extended to all VAT-registered businesses with turnover below the VAT threshold of £85,000. At DRE & Co we have a wealth of experience with both MTD and accounting software and can provide assistance for those that require help with the transition. Rebecca Jones BA (Hons), ACA, CTA is a director at DRE & Co chartered accountants in Oswestry. Call 01691 654353 or see

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120 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2022

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Personal finance

Your “Whole of Market” Financial Advisor. At Commodore Finance we help all our clients achieve their financial goals, dreams, and independence. We will discuss your current situation and establish your financial objectives and more importantly when you want to achieve them. We can then develop a practical plan designed to help you meet your financial needs. We will never use jargon that you do not understand. TAKING CARE OF YOU - With 37 years’ service, we can say with confidence that you would find it hard to find a situation that we have not dealt with.


WE ARE RECOMMENDED - We are a “Top Rated Adviser” Verified by Vouched for 2020 and 2021 as shown in the Times and Telegraph. A 5* Gold Winner in the British Property Awards for Denbighshire.

Paul Williams of Commodore Finance Ltd explains the mortgage support available to would-be purchasers with a 5% deposit

Think carefully before securing debts against your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage or any other debt secured on it. Commodore Finance Ltd is an appointed representative of Julian Harris Financial Consultants, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Tel: 01745 850653 or 07766920035

Unit 9, Tai Tywyn Business Centre, Sandy Lane, Prestatyn, Denbighshire, LL19 9LW

Shire Magazine, supporting local universities, schools and colleges.

To ensure your school is featured, contact us now on or simply call (01691) 661 270


t was pleasing to see Rishi slightly different underwriting Sunak, Chancellor of the process when looking to accept Exchequer announce the an application, resulting in resurgence of the mortgage more people being accepted for guarantee scheme to help people 95% mortgage arrangements. with limited savings who are It is common knowledge looking to buy a property. that the Government is striving The scheme, which is capped to make home ownership a at a maximum purchase price of reality for as many people as £600,000, is likened to the 2013 possible so they can enjoy the help-to-buy scheme that helped benefits of owning their own to restore property sales after the place as opposed to renting. impact of the credit crunch. A The Covid-19 pandemic has benefit is that the brought about a applicant will have situation where few “More full ownership of lenders would offer lenders the property unlike 95% mortgage deals. are willing Under the scheme, shared equity or to offer shared ownership. more are willing to What’s more, offer loans to this level. loans to the scheme is Look for a mortgage this level” available both to intermediary who can first-time buyers offer advice from the and to existing homeowners whole of the market, as they who are trying to move to a will be better placed to help you new property, particularly where locate a lender and plan most they need to borrow 95% of the suited to your personal needs. purchase price or valuation. Think carefully before securing The Government’s aim is to debts against your home. Your encourage more lenders to offer home may be repossessed if mortgage funding to this level. you do not keep up repayments Whilst there are lenders who will on your mortgage or any offer 95% mortgages without other debt secured on it. the backing of the guarantee Commodore Finance Ltd is scheme, they typically look for an appointed representative applicants with an excellent of Julian Harris Financial credit profile with little or no Consultants, which is authorised evidence of poor credit history. and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Lenders who offer the guarantee scheme can apply a January/February 2022 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 121

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Retirement Living Time for pastures new?

The Government has unveiled plans to incentivise older farmers to retire in order to bring new blood into the sector


inisters hope that the Government’s planned ‘exit scheme’ that some farmers would like to retire or leave the industry but have for farmers, which has been out for consultation and is found it difficult for financial reasons. The proposal is to offer a lump awaiting a final report, will create opportunities for a younger, more sum to help them manage this, and the consultation is seeking views eco-savvy generation to own farmland. The average farmer could on who should be eligible and how payments should be calculated. receive a lump-sum payment of £50,000 (capped at £100,000 for The second area under consideration is delinked payments. This those with most land) as part of a major overhaul of agricultural addresses the fact that direct payments currently grants ultimately aimed at protecting the environment. made through the basic payments scheme are “It’s a Launching the consultatation, Environment Secretary, poor value for money and based on how much George Eustice, explained: “We need to address the twin land a farmer has, which inflates rent and can way of life challenges of helping new entrants deter new entrants. The Government plans to for some, fulfil their dream and gain access phase out direct payments over a seven-year not a job to land, while also helping an period, and potentially separate the payment to retire older generation retire with from the amount of land farmed, from 2024. from” dignity. Our exit scheme will offer Richard Corbett, partner with Roger Parry real incentive to confront what & Partners property services based in Oswestry can often be a difficult decision.” says, “We wouldn’t disagree with the Environment Nearly four in 10 UK farmers are over Secretary when he says that new entrants are the lifeblood of any the age of 65, with the average aged 59. vibrant industry. However, he has to appreciate that farming the land is a way of life for farmers and it is not necessarily seen as a job some would want to retire from as they get older. Perhaps Two-tiered strategy this lump sum could work for those who do wish to leave farming The consultation focused on two key The average age of the but find it difficult to generate the capital to do so.” areas. The first builds on evidence UK’s farmers is nearly 60


Perplexed by pensions? You’re not alone…


esearch by online investment service Wealthify suggests that 14 million of us are confused or overwhelmed by the subject of pensions. Only 14 per cent feel organised and just 11 per cent say they feel “in control” of their future retirement fund. The independent research, conducted for Wealthify amongst 2,000 UK adults and published at the end of 2021, found that one in three pension holders has felt worried about making the wrong decisions, while a further third have little confidence planning for their retirement because of the common use of jargon.

Making sense of the language

While a large portion of the public understand the terms ‘personal pension’ and ‘workplace pension’, only one in five knows what ‘SIPP’* means, suggesting many are unclear about the type of pension they hold. And only a third understand the meaning of ‘auto-enrolment’, despite it being compulsory in all workplaces since 2012. Those wanting help with their retirement planning can use

Many of us need a helping hand

Wealthify’s simple (and free) four-step pension calculator to find out how much they could have in their pension pot and what they might need for a fulfilling retirement. Chief executive Andy Russell says: “Many of us work hard for most of our adult lives and along the way we collect and pay into pension pots to help fund a healthy and happy retirement. But it can be difficult to keep track – particularly when you change jobs and leave one pension pot behind to start a new one with your next employer.At Wealthify, we aim to inspire anyone, regardless of background, age or experience, to build their wealth and the future they want.” See * Self-invested personal pension, in case you wondered.

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Charities&Volunteering Music to their ears


ollowing a massive project to refurbish music studios on behalf of a social enterprise team, Wrexham Sounds has opened its doors, with a focus on transforming State-ofthe lives of the-art disadvantaged equipment young people in is being the region. Formerly Vic installed Studios, the not-for-profit organisation has moved from the town’s Hill Street Daniel Haycocks, Managing to Rhosrobin, where builders are Director of DH Projects, and putting the final touches to the Pivotal Sound & Lighting interior of the facility. Director Darren Hughes putting Led by directors Chris Lloyd, the finishing touches to the new Wrexham Sounds studios Dave Gray and Caroline Richards, in Rhosrobin and general manager Olivia Gallagher, work has begun on installing state-of-the-art equipment ahead of freelance tutors delivering music-based sessions to children and teens from challenging and socially deprived backgrounds. There will also be sessions for pupils unable to access music lessons at school, plus activities for toddlers and infants. For more information or to join the team at Wrexham Sounds as a freelance tutor or volunteer, visit and follow them on social media at @wrexhamsounds

Wales Air Ambulance collects caravanning contribution

Lord Newborough of Rhug Estate hands over the £1,006.58 cheque to WAA’s community fundraiser, Debra Sima


ales Air Ambulance has benefitted thanks to the caravanning weekend held at Rhug Estate during the summer. The event was organised by this year’s Royal Welsh feature county, Clwyd. A cheque for over £1,000 was presented to the WAA by Lord Newborough, owner of Rhug, who loaned the site at no charge. The estate regularly raises funds for the

Air Ambulance in Wales, with events including a Christmas carol service. On presenting the cheque, Lord Newborough said: “I am privileged to be able to present this cheque to a very worthwhile cause. With a widely scattered population and diverse landscape, many in Wales live in isolated locations, far from a major or specialist hospital. For these reasons, there is a recognised need for the services of the Wales Air Ambulance.” WAA needs to raise £8 million every year to operate and relies on public donations for its day-to-day running. Capt James Grenfell, regional managing pilot offered thanks on behalf of the service, saying: “Your support means we are now able to provide life-saving emergency care in Wales, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Grateful family present £12,000 to RJAH

the team provided to her daughter following a spinal cord injury back in 2018. Janine said: “The care Eleanor received was phenomenal. When she came to the hospital she could only wiggle her toes, but 12 months on she’d learnt to From left: Polly Brown, play specialist; walk again. We are thrilled Suzanne Marsden, Alice Ward and we raised £12,000 – we can’t Children’s Outpatients Manager; Charlotte, Janine and Eleanor Bloor; and believe the support we’ve Victoria Sugden, RJAH charity rep received from friends, family and colleagues. I grateful family must say a special have presented “The care a cheque for £12,000 she received thank you to JCB and Laboratorios to the children’s on Alice ward at the Robert Phergal for their Ward was donations.” Jones and Agnes Suzanne Marsden, Hunt Orthopaedic phenomenal” Alice Ward and Hospital following a Children’s Outpatients Manager, six-month fundraising campaign. said: “I’m overwhelmed and Janine Bloor, mother of extremely appreciative to the 14-year-old Eleanor, decided Bloor family for the unbelievable to fundraise for Alice Ward amount they’ve donated.” as a thank you for the care


Headteacher urges support for lifesaving charity “So many people have no idea they have a problem” Llyr and pupils at Ysgol Gynradd Bontnewydd


eadteacher at Ysgol Gynradd Bontnewydd, near Caernarfon, Llyr Rees was a fit and healthy 50-year-old when he suffered a ruptured aorta a year ago. It was his daughter Catrin, four, who found him on the living-room floor before alerting her mum. The aneurysm and resulting surgery left Llyr close to death, with doctors fearing he would not survive the ambulance journey from Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor, to Liverpool’s Broadgreen Hospital, having been rushed there from his Anglesey home. He said: “It’s a serious condition. One doctor told me the first sign of it is usually when an autopsy is conducted. I find that terrifying.” Now Llyr is urging people to get behind North Wales NHS charity Awyr Las (Blue Sky) to raise funds for a mobile cardiac scanning unit to serve rural communities. “It would provide a vital service, because there are so many people out there who, like me, will have no idea they have an underlying heart problem.” Cath More, Awyr Las support manager, said: “Llyr’s recovery is inspiring and we’re so grateful for the support of everyone at Ysgol Gynradd Bontnewydd.” To donate, visit

To see your charity event feature on these pages, please email January/Febtuary 2022 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 123

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Books&Poetry BARLEY AND BASIL ARE BACK A Shropshire author has released his second book for children, continuing the adventures of Barley the dog and his nephew Basil in the county’s beautiful countryside about taking them on long walks all over the county. That was when I had the idea of turning

“I’ve always thought here would make a wonderful backdrop”

Proud author Roy Bradshaw


arley’s Biscuit: Ironbridge Gorge, A Paddle and the Golden Glow is the latest in what author Roy Bradshaw hopes will be a series of 12 books and follows the first release, Barley’s Biscuit: Broseley, Benthall Edge, written during lockdown. Roy, from Madeley, is a teacher at Madeley Academy and was inspired by his friend Mick and his two pet dogs. “He has one collie called Barley who’s mad about biscuits, and another called Basil, and he used to tell hilarious stories

LOC A L B OOKS The Consequence by Gerald Jones Gerald Jones was born in Newtown, Mid-Wales but raised in the village of Llandyssil where the book is based. The Consequence is the author’s debut novel and the idea for it came a long time ago, in his early teens, hearing of soldiers in action in Egypt during the First World War. It is a tale of war, love and courage, of the men who must leave home and the women they leave behind. Gerald dedicated hundreds of hours to research and there are many historical details unique to the local area. The characters are fictitious but their stories all too real. The Consequence, price £8.99, is on Amazon and Goodreads. A sequel, Sam, will be published in the new year. The Lost Child of Chernobyl by Helen Bate Helen Bate’s latest work is a powerful graphic novel inspired by the explosion

them into children’s stories. I set out to write two Barley’s Biscuit books but I’ve got enough material for 12! “I’ve lived in Shropshire for 30 years now,” says Roy. “It’s a beautiful county and I’ve always thought it would provide a wonderful backdrop for a series, with every book set in a different beauty spot – separate stories but on a similar theme.”

and it’s great to be able to say now,” says the author. “I hope they’ll take as much pleasure from reading it as I did writing it.” Roy has also self-published novels for adults, but says that was mainly for fun and as a way of honing his writing skills. Before joining Madeley, he taught in primary, secondary and special schools and worked as an engineer. “Being a teacher has helped me appreciate the joy a good adventure story brings to the young – and not so young,” he adds. Roy wants to follow up the release of his new book with signings and school readings. If you’d like to host an event, email or call Roy on 07874 706780.

Shropshire spots to star

Barley’s Biscuit: Ironbridge Gorge, A Paddle and the Golden Glow is published by YouCaxton and available from Amazon and local outlets. Follow Barley and Basil on Facebook @BarleysBiscuit


Big Boys Don’t Cry by Libby Allison and Francesca Varutti The first book from this Oswestry-based author/publishing team, Big Boys Don’t Cry is aimed at boys aged five to nine who have suffered upset or trauma. Although written for professionals working with young people, the lively illustrations and simple message are ideal for parents and carers to read with children at home too. The book is accompanied by a set of 11 activity sheets to promote discussion about feelings, good and bad secrets and hopes for the future. Order from, £6.99 (workbook/CD, £10.99).

The new book is set in Ironbridge and features more exciting adventures for Barley and Basil. “People have been asking for a while when it would be out

the Ukrainian power plant, published for the 35th anniversary of the disaster. One April night, people living near Chernobyl see a bright light in the sky. Everyone is told to move out, but two stubborn old ladies, Anna and Klara, refuse to leave… Helen, from Whitchurch, won a People’s Book Prize for her innovative work with Pictures to Share, creating books for people with dementia. The Lost Child of Chernobyl is published by Otter-Barry, price £12.99

Grandfather’s War by Les Broad When Les, from St Asaph, lost his mother, he realised he knew very little about her father – his grandad – so he began to dig. Charles Cook, he discovered, is one of 154,000 British and Calling local authors… Commonwealth war dead If you’re living in the Shire area or have written buried in Iraq. Les compiled about a local person or place, we’d love to their story in this moving feature you on these pages. Email editorial@ book, available via King’s Hall Productions’ Facebook page.

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BOOKS & POETRY Winter by Jo Young The days that were full of light Are gradually decreasing and turning into night In October, the clocks went back Leaving us mentally and physically out of whack


Our friends at Linghams Booksellers in Heswall are starting the New Year with two tales of witchcraft and wonder to keep you spellbound… Tidelands by Philippa Gregory Midsummer’s Eve, 1648, and England is in the grip of civil war between renegade King and rebellious Parliament. The struggle reaches every corner of the kingdom, even to the remote Tidelands – the marshy landscape of the south coast. A dangerous time for a woman to be different… Alinor, a descendant of wise women, crushed by poverty, waits in the graveyard under the full moon for a ghost who will declare her free from her abusive husband. Instead she meets James, a young man on the run, and shows him the secret ways across the treacherous marsh, not knowing that she is leading disaster into the heart of her life. For this is the time of witch-mania, and Alinor, living alone, skilled with herbs, suddenly enriched, arouses envy in her rivals and fear among the villagers, who are ready to take action into their own hands. The Manningtree Witches by AK Blakemore Fear and destruction take root in a community of women when the WitchfinderGeneral comes to town, in this dark and thrilling debut also set during the English Civil War. Rebecca West, fatherless and husbandless, chafes against the drudgery of her days, livened only by her infatuation with clerk John Edes. But then newcomer Matthew Hopkins takes over the Thorn Inn and begins to ask questions about the ‘women of the margins’. When a child falls ill and starts to rave about covens and pacts, the questions take on a bladed edge The Manningtree Witches plunges its readers into the fever and menace of the English witch trials, where the power of men went unchecked and the integrity of women undefended.

A poem supporting Guide Dogs for the Blind by Freda Davies Sight, do you take it for granted? Sight, it’s a wonderful thing Imagine your life without sight And all the problems that would bring Man’s best friend is willing to help us With much training he can act as your eyes Please support our fundraising efforts Training costs may come as a surprise But it’s worth it when you realise the difference A guide dog can make to a blind person’s day It’s also their best friend and guardian Giving independence and showing the way So give generously and think of others Blindness can’t be managed without aid Guide dogs have helped lots of people But their costs still have to be paid!

The dog walks and chats in the early balmy evening Along with the summer songs on the radio – have now left us believing That Winter has now arrived Differently we will now have to strive For three weeks the cold rains and winds we have faced But it is the freshly frosted morning we want to taste To face the day, getting bundled up against the cold Wearing scarves and woolly hats – now that’s me sold! Talking my Daisy dog out, feeling the snap of twigs under my shoes Fresh clear skies, friendly faces, nice views – takes away my blues! Here’s to dreaming And positively believing That come January, the light will gradually start to come Bringing brighter thoughts to some The lack of sun and light that made us feel sad Is soon on its way out – for that we say hurrah and don’t feel bad Thoughts will now focus on Spring and the future Now that truly is our suitor!

The Miner by Sheila Crozier The smoke pours out of every chimney All black and soot and grimy We feel it in our lungs and clothes It’s what gives our daily bread Oh please to God That he would give us something else instead I only have my labour to offer What more can a working man do? I’m not an educated man like you He takes himself up to his office The Ancient of Days by Norman Marshall All neat and clean and tidy When I am knackered and grey But me, I works here, where all the air With nothing in my purse, Is dirt, filth and grimy Except a wallet full of memories I crawls out o’ bed And some questionable verse; I puts on me boots I doubt people will sing my praise Thank God she got them cobbled Or come to visit me. For this week I’m on earlies So, I will take myself off And I would have to hobble To live by the sea. I wend me way to work each day I will look through the door, We meet and sing all along the road Listen for the mewing gull, This bloody long and awful road For there on the inviting shore I’m sick of earlies Is an inexorable pull. For when I rise, the sun is still in bed I will sit and admire the sunset, I wish I was still in bed Look up into a mackerel sky, Lying next to her Content with my character All soft and pink and red And there I will die. I love that woman The day is long, and dark and hard And we toil for puny wages We want your poems! The owners know how to Share your creativity – we print our favourite get their worth poems every issue. Send them to Poetry Page, Since we work here, for ages Shire, PO Box 276, Oswestry, Shropshire SY10 and ages and ages 1FR or email In this muck, this gold, this grimy.

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What’s in your stars? Aries

20th March-20th April You’re sometimes observed as hostile, angry and competitive, probably because your ruling planet is Mars, god of war. True, you’ll always fight your corner, but at the same time you’re also courageous, dynamic and energetic – and you’ve certainly needed those qualities in the past 12 months. All change now, so I’ll be first to wish you a Happy New Year!


21st June-23rd July Relationships are the focus of a new moon in Capricorn on 2nd January and a full moon in Cancer on 17th. It’s not how you start but how you finish that makes the difference. February, when the snowdrops push their way through winter’s dead wood, is a marvellous trine between Jupiter and the Sun, ensuring creative expression will flower for you too!


23rd September-22nd October Valentine’s Day indicates decisions. Will you, won’t you? – that’s a simple version of its meaning. It evolved in the 18th century as a celebration of love but St Valentine was in fact executed on 14th February – not very loving! Mars in Capricorn in February heightens romantic challenges. Look to the patterns of your past to make the right choice!


21st December-20th January The New Year starts with a new moon in Capricorn – so what do you secretly wish for? Emotionally you’re rather reserved, however this lunar phase is asking you to show your feelings more and let out the love child within! Heard the saying: ‘What goes around comes around’? Reveal how deeply you feel and a similar message might come back!


20th April-21st May Astrology’s diverse gods and goddesses help to articulate mannerisms and functions in life that the intellect cannot fully comprehend. Your ruling planet (goddess) is Venus, which equates to your love of beauty and the senses. January sees Venus retrograde and you going back over old ground, but February brings a new direction, especially within your love life.


23rd July-23rd August Legend has it that standing stones have the power to move on New Year’s Day. Hmm, I wouldn’t want to see part of Stonehenge coming toward me! You, however, would just roar and let it pass – nothing much fazes you. Something that will leave you standing, though, is time and you must strive to manage it much better this year.


23rd October-22nd November Folklore records that to dance around a tree on New Year’s Day brings health, wealth and happiness all year. That’s just too easy – especially for you who often battles for any one of those. However, Jupiter in Pisces this year is in marvellous angle to Scorpio, offering opportunities to reach out to new horizons for rewarding experiences. Take that, it’s progress!


20th January-19th February Auroras are streams of light in the upper atmosphere of Earth’s polar regions, caused when electrons from the Sun leak through the layers of charged subatomic particles that surround Earth, hence all the colours of the aurora borealis. Your cosmic colour is white, relating to independence, which is what you need to express now in order to initiate change.


21st May-21st June Jupiter moving into Pisces for 12 months is in awkward angle for you to navigate and could undo the progress you’ve made. Astrological advice is don’t go overboard or overextend yourself. Find precisely where you are and what your real needs are to take advantage of this transit. Knowing how much you can handle is the trick to avoid those pitfalls.


23rd August-23rd September Since this is the time for resolutions may I suggest one for you? Be less argumentative! You sometimes think you have all the answers and now a turning point has arrived and gives you the chance to see things from both sides. It’s a good place to be and saves so much energy, which is a bonus for someone as health-conscious as you!


22nd November-21st December Last year has finally departed, in with the New! For the clown of the zodiac you’ve been lacking humour of late – you’ve had your reasons, though. Working with positives, the energy of Saturn is productive now. Care and attention to commitments and honouring responsibilities will be recognised by those who count. You know who they are.


19th February-20th March The morning star or planet Venus resides in Capricorn throughout the first two months of 2022. For a romantic Piscean this means either a more serious look at romance or a serious love affair is waiting in the wings. Whichever it is, it’s certainly the start of promising developments as the year unfolds. Thank your lucky star!

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 or via her website, 126 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2022

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hanks for keeping in touch with us here at Shire. These certainly are strange times, and it’s great to know you’re still reading, still supporting and most of all still writing to us. We’re including a few of our favourites below, but please do keep them coming – we love hearing your thoughts and opinions as well as any news you want to share. As always, please include a picture when you can and send your correspondence to us at

In case you’ve missed an issue or not been able to get out to the shops, we have spare copies we’re happy to post out. Just let us know which issue you’re looking for and send an sae for £1.60 to Shire Magazine, PO Box 276, Oswestry, Shropshire SY10 1FR. An even safer bet is to subscribe to the magazine so you never miss a copy of Shire again! See page 40 for details. Keep writing, keep emailing, keep reading and most of all, keep safe and well.

Ready to run?

Although the official ballot for London Marathon places has closed, you can still join this iconic run in 2022 by applying for a charity place with The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Charitable Fund. The marathon is the biggest fundraiser on our calendar and all runners play a massive part in enabling us to provide the best possible support to patients and staff at RJAH. If you’re an experienced runner, do get in touch and we will support you all the way to the finish line. The 2022 Virgin London Marathon is planned to take place on Sunday 2 October. Runners offered a place on Team RJAH must commit to raising a minimum of £1,500 for the Trust. For details, visit the dedicated web page at Victoria Sugden, charity director

Business booming

Mold town centre is thriving. Twelve new shops have just celebrated their first Christmas, while others are expanding and employing extra workers. The success of events like NovemberFest, the Frost Fair and festive light switch-on, and the Totally Mold voucher scheme have also boosted sales. The spirit among retailers and the public has never been better. There is a real sense of togetherness, with shoppers buying local and the businesses themselves giving back to the community in so many different ways. Joanna Douglass, Mold Town Council

Getting together in Mold

READER F E E D B AC K My mother loves reading Shire. She’ll be delighted to get it on subscription. Shan Morris Best magazine in the world. Marguerite MacKenzie

Adam Haythorn was one of the 16-strong team that completed the 2021 marathon for RJAH

Winning stay

On holiday in Llandudno, I picked up a copy of Shire and was blown away. Needless to say, I want to be involved with such an outstanding glossy – however, living in Lancashire, I need something closer to home. Is there a Shire magazine for Lancs? Thanks for the stunning, informative magazine. It’s such a pleasure to read something real! Linda Denham-Bothas

Plas Weunydd Hotel, in Blaenau Ffestiniog

I’m afraid this is the one and only Shire in circulation, Linda, but we’re happy to post out copies to anyone with a subscription – wherever they are in the country.

Thank you, Shire, for our competition prize: an overnight stay at Plas Weunydd Hotel. The hotel was really good, everywhere was spotlessly clean, our room was so comfortable and the public areas were warm and cosy. Staff were very pleasant. Pizza in the evening and breakfast were delicious. Highly recommended! Denise Buckley

My wife and I love reading your magazine to plan our days out. Excellent quality for a free magazine. Keep up the great work. Cheers! Tony Walker

New start for old hall

I’m delighted to share the news that Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council (DVSC) has taken on the management of Ruthin’s grade II listed Market Hall. This ancient site has been been redeveloped as a multi-purpose venue for traders, artists and sustainable food and wellbeing organisations from across North Wales. It will provide a new and innovative community hub and boutique market space that DVSC will be managing with support from the Welsh Government’s Foundational Economy Challenge Fund via Denbighshire CC. With a ‘social supermarket’ and wellbeing cafe, it will be an exemplar in rejuvenating a historic local building, encouraging volunteering, promoting enterprise and inspiring young people to be social entrepreneurs. We also plan to support climate action, ethical trading and the circular and green economies, so it’s a very important initiative. Tom Barham, chief officer, DVSC

The boutique market space is ready to trade January/February 2022 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 127

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Rearrange the highlighted letters to find the name of a village on the banks of the River Dee


24 Alkanes 26 Nijinsky 27 Staël


10 Deimos 14 Resentment 16 Ruritanian 18 Adrian 20 Lusaka 23 Dojo 25 Kiss

1. Every square has to contain a single number. 2. Only numbers 1 to 9 can be used. 3. Each 3×3 box can only contain each number from 1 to 9 once. 4. Each row and column can only contain each number from 1 to 9 once.

1 Ballet by Igor Stravinsky (3,4,2,6) 2 Village near Shrewsbury that was the site of a lead mine dating back to Roman times (10) 3 Nom de guerre of Yugoslav statesman Josip Broz (4) 4 Site of a historic priory in Runcorn (6) 5 The fear of flying (10) 6 A cold, dry north wind experienced in and around Switzerland (4) 7 Unfinished fortress and UNESCO World Heritage Site on Anglesey (9,6) 10 The outermost moon of Mars, named after the Greek god of dread and terror (6) 14 What, according to Nelson Mandela, is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies (10) 16 Inhabitant of a fictional country in central Europe (10) 18 & 8 Across Poet from Birkenhead who featured in the popular anthology The Mersey Sound (6,5) 20 The capital of Zambia (6) 23 Where judo and aikido are taught (4) 25 The ____, a painting by Gustav Klimt or a sculpture by Rodin (4)

The highlighted letters when rearranged spell PARKGATE

Sudoku rules


Down 1 The Rite of Spring 2 Snailbeach 3 Tito 4 Norton 5 Aerophobia 6 Bise 7 Beaumaris Castle

8 See 18 Down 9 Series of children’s books by Malcolm Saville, many of which are set in the Shropshire Hills (4,4) 11 In botany, an underground stem that grows horizontally (7) 12 Henry David ____, American transcendentalist writer known for his book Walden and the essay ‘Civil disobedience’ (7) 13 River on whose banks Romulus and Remus were abandoned as infants (5) 15 Northeast region of China where soldiers were brainwashed in Richard Condon’s political thriller (9) 17 Aristotle ____, Greek shipping magnate who married a former first lady of the United States (7) 18 A type of arpeggiated bassline named after a classical composer (7) 19 Oskar ____, German industrialist who saved more than 1,000 Jews during the Holocaust (9) 21 Empire of the 15th and 16th centuries whose capital city was Tenochtitlan (5) 22 Structures that protect radar systems or antennae from the elements (7) 24 Hydrocarbons such as methane and propane (7) 26 Vaslav ____, ballet dancer and original choreographer of 1 Down, who inspired the name of a thoroughbred racehorse (8)

27 Madame de ____, writer and political theorist who was a voice of moderation during the French Revolution (5)

Difficulty: medium

Across 8 Henri 9 Lone Pine 11 Rhizome 12 Thoreau 13 Tiber 15 Manchuria 17 Onassis 18 Alberti 19 Schindler 21 Aztec 22 Radomes


Alice Leetham is a writer and puzzle maker from Cheshire. She works in the fintech industry and also enjoys creating quizzes and cryptic crosswords. Contact:

128 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2022

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DID YOU KNOW? The word ‘daffodil’ is from ‘asphodel’ – also a plant

I’m definitely a ‘glass half full’ man. I treat the short, dreary days of winter as an integral part of nature’s seasonal cycle. But even I have to admit, the recent incessant wind and rain has taken the edge off my usual joie de vivre sell meat from traditional British breeds and, more importantly, leave it to hang for long enough. Find one and support him. I don’t move in the sort of circles where caviar appears in front of me on a regular basis. I have only tried it once and it’s disgusting, like boiled tapioca with copious salt. Then there’s bird’s nest soup, made from the nests of the cave swiftlet. The idea of eating broth with bits of moss and twig floating around in it is revolting enough – but the cave swiftlet constructs its nest entirely out of its own saliva. Moreover, until various spices are added, it is tasteless. And these two culinary delights are among the most costly items you’ll ever find on a menu. It baffles me. Even after all these years, As I write, I am eagerly waiting lambing is still a special time. for the first lambs – always a And give me fresh veg over spirit-lifter at this time of year. caviar any day! But despite being in the depths of “The chickens, winter, my thoughts drenched from are already turning hat I wouldn’t give for a week of night beak to vent for to next spring. frosts and sunny days. As I look out the the umpteenth Parsnips, sprouts office window, the plastic on the polytunnel is time, have scuttled and leeks add a flapping alarmingly and the chickens, having been into their shed” cheerful splash of drenched from beak to vent for the umpteenth green to the garden time this winter, have scuttled into their shed. but most of it is now bare soil and Still, there’s always an upside. The first snowdrops have risen preparation for next year’s crops is a through the leaf litter and are thrusting their delicate, glossy white job I can’t put off for much longer. heads skyward. The lack of sub-zero temperatures has encouraged I always have a ‘post mortem’ early daffodils to poke their emerald shoots out a few inches, which Eryl Jones was brought this time of year: assess what grew bodes well for an extravagant display come St David’s Day. up on a small Welsh farm and studied agriculture in well and what didn’t and whether There are many delights to raising stock and growing vegetables Aberystwyth. He became a change of variety might be the for your own consumption. You are in full charge of what and how farm manager on a large they are fed and grown and moreover, there’s no financial pressure answer. Once life returns to normal estate and later farmed after the Christmas madness, I to use dubious methods to boost performance. Their provenance on his own account. spend a pleasant couple of hours is impeccable. An added bonus is that it has turned me into a bit Eryl does voluntary at our local garden centre, picking of a kitchen maestro. No one is about to fling Michelin stars in my environmental work with out seeds and ordering the potato direction any time soon, but I have become an enthusiastic amateur. I Denbighshire Council sets. It’s also an excuse to nip into urge you, if you fancy yourself as another Jamie or Nigella, make sure and has a passion for the rural way of life. you get the best produce you can afford. Find a farm shop that sells their café for a full English. Not that I need much of an excuse! dirty potatoes and carrots. There are still butchers who exclusively


January/February 2022 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 129

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Looking ahead to our next edition, we’re hoping it’ll be lighter and brighter – in more ways than one – so we’re putting together a positively blooming magazine to match the season! Our March and April issue of Shire will give you all the information and advice you need to put a spring in your step EGG-STRA SPECIAL

With Easter looming, we’re busy gathering everything you need to know for the double bank holiday weekend. So whether you’re looking for something to do, 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 March/April issue of Shire.

Blooming marvellous Finally it will be time for signs of life in our own gardens as well as the magnificent public and open gardens across the region. Gates will be opened to visitors once more, so we’ll pick some of our favourites for you to visit as the season starts – and we’re on hand with hints and tips for your own horticultural projects too.

Going green

Following on from our in-depth report on climate change in this issue, we’ll carry on our regular environmental focus and share more stories of local eco-heroes, as well as ways in which we can all do our bit for the protection of our planet. From recycling to energy saving and power supplies to diet changes, we’ll catch you up with the latest green news.


Shire’s March/April issue will also feature an interview with a talented local artist, and a round-up of the region’s exhibitions and events from across the art world. We’ll be printing our favourites from the photo competition too, so get snapping and send us your images in plenty of time! H O L I DAY P L A N N I N G

Once the clocks go forward in March we all start thinking of the summer months ahead – it’s the perfect time to plan your next holiday. After two years of international travel trauma we recommend looking closer to home, and we’re lucky in having so many top spots across the Shire patch to choose from. Don’t miss our guide to the parks and properties you’ll love to spend your holidays in.


From chocolate treats to new season’s specials, Easter is a great time to be thinking about food. As always we’ll be sharing a tantalising and tasty recipe from one of the area’s top chefs. If you’re planning a family gathering, turn to our food section first – and we’ll also have the pick of the drinks aisles to sample from our new wine columnist. YO U R T O W N

As always, we focus on a couple of prime locations in the Shire patch: this time, the Cheshire village of Lymm and beach bolthole Barmouth.

Inside knowledge

If spring cleaning your nest is not enough and you have desires on new designs, make sure you pick up your copy for its homes and interiors section, With everything from style suggestions to property renovations, we’ll help you make your house a home.


The Shire team are delighted to have venues and activities back open again. We’ll continue to keep you in the loop by reporting back from as many events and shows in the D O N ’ T F O R G E T… neighbourhood as possible, and share feedback in our extensive Don’t go anywhere until review section. you’ve checked our What’s On guide for March and April 2022! With the school holidays and a double helping of bank holidays you’ll need to keep the next issue of Shire to hand, with its 60-page guide to all the events and activities going on across the region

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 et us know about events for our March/April 2022 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 or call 01691 661270. You can also get in touch via social media – just search for ‘Shire Magazine’ on Facebook or Instagram.

130 SHIRE MAGAZINE | January/February 2022

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Ymunwch â ni yn un o’n



Yn bersonol neu ar-lein

Join us at one of our

open events In person or online

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