Shire Magazine Nov-Dec 2020

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Find Christmas gifts they’ll love from our local shops

On the

Move Our guide to buying, selling and the stamp duty holiday

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






Shop in

The perfect pad Make your home a happy haven this winter Plan your escape Looking ahead to holiday options for 2021 Get your garden ready to grow Prepare now for spring success


o l o s g n i o G

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

A delicious Shropshire Hamper for Christmas Turn to page 121


Castles and coastlines at Conwy Beautiful border town Welshpool


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


ere we are, heading towards the end of 2020 – and what a year it has been! None of us could have predicted the difficulties we’d face, but it has been an honour and a privilege to keep in touch with you all in the face of such adversity. This issue we’re feeling extra festive – we all deserve a little extra sparkle, after all – and have packed our pages with delicious recipes, tasty treats, shopping suggestions and, of course, as much information as we can about the events that are hoping to go ahead. As always, please check before you travel as we live in ever-changing times. Many of you are facing some restrictions in your area, and with the weather changing too we’re all ready to hole up at home for a while. Luckily, our homes and interiors section is bigger than ever this issue, offering design advice, new products and features for the home, as well as hints and tips on keeping cosy. If you’ve been thinking about a more dramatic change of scenery, the current relaxation of stamp duty makes this a great time to buy a new home. We have a feature looking at how best to buy and sell property so you can make sure you’re ready to go when you find that special somewhere. As always, there are our popular sections on arts, books, style, education and gardening too. We hope you enjoy our festive edition and, most of all, everyone at Shire hopes you enjoy a happy, peaceful and safe Christmas. See you in 2021!


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Turn to page 36 to find out how you can best support the businesses in your area this Christmas 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 © 2020 Superstar Publishing Ltd, all rights reserved. Registered Number: 10604188.

Festive fun Our guide to the events happening near you through November and December, from page 6

GET IN TOUCH! We want to hear from you…


Tell us about your upcoming events. Just remember that we work in advance, so 1st December is the deadline for events in our January/ February 2021 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 117 for more.

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

We have lots of regulars readers can contribute to:

Reader photos Taken a great shot recently? Email your best effort and you might get picked! See page 94.

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

A free copy of Shire delivered to your home! To help readers during this difficult time, if you’re having trouble getting to the supermarket and would prefer a copy delivered to you at home, please just send us an A4 SAE with £1.80 postage to Shire Magazine, PO Box 276, Oswestry, Shropshire SY10 1FR. We will send you the latest issue by return.

with their name and anything else you want to tell us. See page 84 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

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November/December 2020 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 3

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Contents N OV E M B E R / DE C E MB E R 2 020

PAG E 8 0 Gardening gifts

6 What’s On Check out what’s happening where before you make any plans in north and mid Wales, Cheshire, the Wirral and Shropshire

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

18 Welshpool We discover the beautiful town tucked away on the border of two countries

92 Arts & Crafts We talk to one of Ty Pawb’s inspiring lockdown artists, plus the exhibitions happening near you and online

27 Gary Barlow The king of popular music and Cheshire-born legend reveals his plans for 2021 COVER FEATURE 36 Shop Smarter This Season Christmas might feel a bit different this year, but there are still presents to buy! We hope you’ll join us in supporting our local businesses when doing your shopping – to help you we’ve rounded up some of the best

PAG E 9 7 PAG E 6 5

Seasonal sparkles

Brilliant ideas for home

42 Conwy A stunning castle, fabulous coastline and listed buildings aplenty. What’s not to like about this north Wales town?

PAG E 4 4

COVER FEATURE 44 Moving Times Whether you’re considering relocating to the country, want to downsize or add space for that home office, we can help make sure you’re in prime position to move home

PAG E 9 8

Looking to move?

51 Homes & Interiors Meet the company offering bespoke garden pods, plus interior design during lockdown and a new housing development in Shrewsbury

Lounge days

65 A Touch Of Sparkle Bring a festive touch to your home with these silver delights

PAG E 6 6 Recipes to try at home

PAG E 3 6 Shop local this Christmas PAG E 2 7 Gary Barlow speaks to Shire

COVER FEATURE 66 Food & Drink The region’s top chefs share their favourite seasonal recipes, plus a special nod to the area’s producers who’ve stepped up their game in recent months 75 Gardening Our guide to the winter jobs that will get your plot ready for spring, and a closer look at a local award-winning garden 79 Green Living Discover even more ways to be more environmentally friendly in your day-to-day life 80 Glorious Gifts For Gardeners Stuck for present inspiration when it comes to your greenfingered friends and family? We have many solutions! 83 Pets & Wildlife Updates from wildlife experts, as well as your pet photos

96 Health & Beauty Advice to keep you looking and feeling your best this season 97 Going For Gold Office parties might be a no-no, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dress to impress 98 Snuggle Up In Style Men’s loungewear for those long winter evenings at home 100 Active Our resident rambler Clive Williams takes on a new route in Shropshire, plus the key to marathon success 102 Motoring Bob Hickman reviews the electric Renault Zoe 107 Schools News from the area’s colleges and schools as they come to the end of the first term of the “new normal” 113 Charities & Volunteering A look at the organisations that do so much for so many good causes across the area 114 Retirement Top tips on how to get the most of your post-work years, including advice from a local expert on finance 116 Books & Poetry Meet the local author inspired by her daughter, plus we review the new releases and publish some of your poetry 118 Subscribe To Shire! Take out a subscription to Shire and get every issue delivered direct to your door. Also discover how you can set up a subscription on the Shire website 119 Readers’ Letters We hand over to you, our amazing readers, with a selection of the lovely letters you’ve sent in to us once again 120 What’s In Your Stars Check out what’s coming your way with our horoscope forecast provided by Gloria Mans 121 Competitions Fancy winning some brilliant prizes? Don’t miss our collection of exclusive competitions

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1st November, Yevgeny Sudbin, Piano, Theatr Clwyd, Mold Yevgeny Sudbin, one of the greatest pianists of the 21st century, has appeared with the Philharmonia, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. The programme includes Haydn, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. 3.30pm & 7.30pm. £10.

2nd November, Tots Confidence Clinic, EquiTi, St Asaph Aimed at beginner riders, this group equips children with the confidence they need to progress. A fun, relaxed session for any nervous riders. 4pm.

4th November, Crochet Clinic, Crafty Rhino, Colwyn Bay Enjoy a big mug of coffee in the comfortable crafting lounge and finish all those discarded projects or works in progress with some expert help. For crochet enthusiasts of all levels. 10am-1pm. £4.50, including unlimited hot drinks. Three guests per session. To book, visit

8th November, Mountain Scrambling, North Ridge of Tryfan, Ogwen Valley Join a guided climb to the summit of Tryfan via the world-class, grade one scramble up the North Ridge. This climb is suitable for mixed abilities and should take three to four hours. £40. www.

10th November, Baby & Child First Aid for Parents & Carers, St Peter’s Church Hall, Wrexham Come along to this award-winning, informal first aid session for parents, grandparents and carers, covering CPR, choking, burns, head bumps, meningitis awareness and more. 10amnoon. £20. www.wrexham. minifirst

Science discovery centre reopens to the public Xplore! Science Discovery Centre in Wrexham welcomed back visitors from across the local area as it marked its relocation and rebrand with a special weekend of activities. Previously based at Wrexham Glyndwr University as Techniquest Glyndwr, Xplore! boasts more than 100 exhibits at its new facility on Henblas Street, as well as a café and gift shop. The centre’s reopening went ahead as planned, despite local lockdown measures limiting

Race time at Bangor-on-Dee The year’s not over at Bangor-on-Dee racecourse. Anne Duchess of Westminster’s Charity Day takes place on 11th November, followed by the Late November Meeting on 28th November, the final Saturday meeting of the year. The Christmas Meeting on 11th December sees the final racing before Christmas, so expect festive activities and Christmas jumpers from those in the mood.

ticket sales to those living in Wrexham County Borough. “We couldn’t have wished for a better reopening,” says Scot Owen, Xplore!’s centre manager. “There was a huge buzz throughout both days as families interacted with all the new exhibits as well as the returning favourites.” Xplore! Science Discovery Centre is open 9.30am to 5pm, Friday to Sundays, as well as seven days a week during the Wrexham school holidays. To book, visit

Food, glorious food! Enjoy a feast for the senses at the Anglesey Food Festival on 14th and 15th November. The festival, which takes place at the Anglesey Showground, promises to be a wonderful farm-to-fork experience for all the family. Meet local fishermen, farmers and the best local food and drink producers, taste some great Welsh food, watch the cookery demonstrations and get busy with experiments, workshops and have-a-go sessions. www.anglesey

Visit Father Christmas’s magical farm This Christmas Greenacres Animal Park in Deeside will be transforming itself into a Christmas village full of elves, wrapping paper, ribbons and lights. So come and join Father Christmas and his elves at the most magical farm in north Wales! Visit Mrs Claus’s movie room, take a peek inside the elves’ craft workshop, enjoy unlimited rides on the festive fairground, meet the farm’s festive characters and furry friends, and find out all about the reindeer food workshop. All good boys and girls will receive an early Christmas present, and all good grownups will also receive a complimentary festive drink. Oh, and don’t forget that wherever Father Christmas is there is guaranteed to be snow for those magical Christmas family photos! The park is open from 10.30am every weekend throughout December and daily from 19th to 23rd December. To book your tickets, visit

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

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Catch the Santa express to Llangollen Santa is making a special visit to the Llangollen Railway between 5th and 24th December. Climb aboard a beautifully decorated steam train in Llangollen and enjoy a drink and a seasonal sweet treat before you steam through the beautiful Dee Valley to Lapland, where your Christmas adventure awaits. Jump off the train to see Santa in his grotto and receive a special gift from Santa’s elves,

who will amaze you with their magic tricks. Then pop into the café for a warm drink before the train heads back to Llangollen. Tickets cost £20 for adults and children over the age of one, and each party will reserve a private compartment on the train. For more information, including train times and how to book tickets, visit

14th November, Ben Norris: A Short Tour Of The Heart, Theatr Clwyd, Mold Fusing spokenword and music with his trademark storytelling panache, writerperformer Ben Norris – the former Theatr Clwyd writerin-residence – shares stories of lockdown, heartbreak and going home. 7.30pm. From £10.

15th November, Mountain Scrambling, Crib Lem Spur, Bangor Join a guided climb to summit of Carnedd Dafydd via the Crib Lem Spur. This grade-one scramble is one of the best-kept secrets in Snowdonia. The climb lasts five to seven hours. £40. www.

Whether you’re looking for a special gift or simply something unique, the Craft Fair at Oriel Ynys Môn, Anglesey, is perfect for all your Christmas shopping needs. The fair, which runs from 14th November to 24th December, brings together a range of artists and craftspeople. The museum is open Wednesday to Sunday.

Festive cheer at GreenWood Park

Getting festive underground

Gifts from Wales and the borders

The elves are busy tinkering away on the final preparations for festive fun at GreenWood Family Park. Things may be a little different from years gone by, but children can still enjoy a visit to Santa’s grotto, get creative with some Christmas crafts and spend some quality family time together. To find out more, visit www.

Meet Father Christmas in a setting like no other at Llechwedd Deep Mine in Blaenau Ffestiniog. Descend 500ft on Europe’s steepest cable railway on a memorable journey to meet Santa! The grotto is open from 28th November to 24th December, and carriages cost £50 – each family will have their own.

For its seasonal showcase, Mostyn gallery shop in Llandudno has selected some of the very best craftspeople and artists working in Wales and the Borders. From woodwork to knitwear, enamelling to glassware and prints to contemporary items, there’s bound to be something you’ll love. The showcase is on sale from 7th November.

Christmas comes to Caernarfon special Christmas Extravaganza Weekends will see artisans and craftspeople selling their beautiful products. There will also be Christmas lantern craft sessions, mulled wine and tasty food, as well as the Snowdonia Donkeys. And why not enjoy some late-night shopping in the runup to Christmas? On Thursday nights in December the store


Handmade treasures at Oriel Ynys Môn

Head to Fron Goch Garden Centre in Caernarfon to get into the festive spirit this December. The garden centre has lots of inspiring displays, a real tree forest, a festive Santa Express and a family-sized snow globe. Each weekend from 7th December,


will be open until 8pm for family and friends nights, with the restaurant serving a delicious Christmas carvery between 5pm and 7pm. For more details, visit www.

19th & 26th November, Festive Ladies’ Nights, Fron Goch Garden Centre, Caernarfon A relaxed evening of shopping, food and music. Enjoy a glass of prosecco, a delicious homemade festive carvery, a fresh filter coffee and a trio of desserts. £27 per person.

24th November, Book Club, Coffee V, Llandudno Join Pam for some literary chat at the Coffee V Book Club on the last Tuesday of every month. Current book details can be found in the coffee shop window, or message the Coffee V Facebook page for further details. 6.30pm-8pm.

25th & 26th November and 2nd & 3rd December, Wreath Making Masterclass, Fron Goch Garden Centre, Caernarfon Wrap up warm to spend a festive morning learning how to create a traditional, decorative Christmas wreath using a variety of foliage, lights and festive decorations. The course will be held outdoors, under a canopy, with social distancing measures in place. £35 per person. 10am-11.30am. www.

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4th December, Can It! For A Greener Planet, Wrexham Industrial Estate Do your bit to help the environment and join the North Wales Wildlife Trust for an hour of lunchtime litter picking around the Wrexham Industrial Estate. All PPE and equipment will be provided. 12.30pm1.30pm. Email henry.cook@

5th December, Puppy School, Black Park, Chirk An essential six-week course designed to get your puppy off to a great start in life and give you the perfect partnership. Held outside at Black Park Community Centre, the course costs £96 including a training manual, Natures Menu puppy pack and goody bag. Puppies should be under 20 weeks at the start of the course. Email

The show goes on at Theatr Clwyd Strange Creatures, 1st November Magical, theatrical chamber music exploring childhood and belonging. 11am, 1.30pm & 3.30pm. Tickets £6. Daliso Chaponda, 13th November. Jokes about Black Lives Matter, loneliness, unemployment and cancel culture. 7.30pm. Tickets from £10. Once Upon A Christmas, 5th December – 3rd January Step through a magical doorway into

Living in an advent calendar Residents of Marford and Gresford can count down to Christmas with the Marford & Gresford Living Advent Calendar, with life-size windows being revealed every day at 6.30pm. The windows will then remain on show until 25th December. Visit the event’s Facebook page for more details.

festive stories of joy and hope. Suitable for ages four to 10. Times vary. Tickets from £5. Jan Blake: The Zebu, 13th December A tale of mothers, daughters and fate. 7.30pm. From £10 The Panto That Nearly Never Was, 17th December – 3rd January A rock’n’roll, panto-esque show to keep you going this Christmas. Show times vary. Tickets from £10.

A festive treat in Portmeirion

Enjoy a couple of nights in luxury with the Portmeirion Festive Nights Package. The break includes a two-course dinner on the first night at the Hotel Portmeirion or Castell Deudraeth, a full Welsh breakfast both mornings and a festive afternoon tea with a glass of champagne on the afternoon of the second day. The offer is open from 1st to 23rd December and prices start from £300 for two.

Celebrating creativity at Ruthin Craft Centre

5th & 12th December, Breakfast With Santa, Pen Y Bont Farm Pub, Mold Enjoy a delicious sit-down breakfast and meet the big man himself! Santa will be stopping in on his way to the North Pole, visiting every table and giving each child a present. Tickets cost £10 and need to be booked in advance. 10am-11.30am.

8th December, Northern Lights Painting Technique Zoom Class, Tan y Ddraig, Conwy Paint a beautiful Northern Lights polar bear platter with full tuition via Zoom. The online painting class, which costs £25, includes a plate, ceramic painting kit, full tuition via Zoom and glazing and firing too. 6.30pm. Email

The galleries at Ruthin Craft Centre are open once more, allowing the centre to once again focus on its mission to “celebrate craft and the art of making”. Until 21st November you can see Egni: A Decade Of Creativity by Eleri Mills, which focuses on one of Wales’ leading textile artists, and Verity Pulford’s Gardens Of The Mind. Future exhibitions, running from 28th November, include Tidal Echos by Beverley Bell-Hughes and Monochrome, exploring many areas of craft and applied art. The gallery is open from 11am to 4pm, Wednesday to Saturday and booking is essential. Visit

Santa’s Drive-Thru Adventure Enjoy a Covid-safe Christmas experience from the safety of your own car as the UK’s first drive-through Christmas maze comes to Wrexham from 4th to 20th December. The attraction at Bryn-Y-Grog Hall, Marchwiel, uses actors, reindeer and special effects to give you a memorable experience. Drive through the enchanted forest, watch out for the blizzard and see Mrs Claus sorting through your letters. Tickets cost £21.99.

Lights to remember For a donation to St David’s Hospice, Llandudno, you’re invited to dedicate a light on a Rotary Tree of Lights to remember a loved one. There will be a virtual “switch on” on 29th November. Visit www.

Make tracks in the snow Enjoy a special day out on the Rhyl Miniature Railway as the popular Santa Specials return on 12th and 13th and 19th to 24th December. To keep everyone safe, the train won’t use the normal grotto this year. Instead, it will stop around Marine Lake so Santa can visit each compartment and give a special present to each child. Tickets cost £12 for children and £4 for adults, and all tickets must be booked in advance. Visit to find out more.

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Go on an enchanting reindeer safari The Reindeer Lodge in Mold is turning its wonderful world of reindeer into an enchanting drive-through trail and reindeer safari adventure this winter. Their elves have been busy creating an immersive festive experience that includes a drive-in theatre show, more than 1.3km of enchanted

Christmas lighting trails, paddocks of reindeer herds, magical woodland, a hidden elf village, a drive-through elves’ toy workshop and a visit to Father Christmas himself! With lots of snow, enchanted lighting effects, festive hot food and drinks, and great photo opportunities for the

family album, this is a magical Christmas experience that you don’t want to miss. The experience is available by day for £29.50 per car, with stunning countryside views, and by night for £35 per car with an enchanted lighting display. To book your tickets, visit

Seasonal splendour in Snowdonia If you’re looking for some decorating inspiration this Christmas, look no further than Snowdonia Nurseries & Garden Centre in Conwy, which will be transformed into a magical stage for all things festive. No corner of the garden centre goes unadorned in preparation for Santa’s twice-weekly visits. A sumptuous selection of decorations are on display, and traditional and modern festive themes run side by side, dazzling and inspiring customers in equal measure. Snowdonia Garden Centre is open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sunday. For more information visit

Ty Pawb celebrates lockdown creativity Witness incredible artistic endeavours completed during lockdown at a new exhibition at Ty Pawb, Wrexham. Following an open call for artists to submit works, the Ty Pawb Open is displaying 121 artworks, including the work of 60 Welsh artists. “The exhibition is a celebration of the creativity, innovation and resilience that has been developed by artists in lockdown over the last few months,” says Cllr Hugh Jones from Wrexham County Borough Council. “We have been phenomenally impressed with the huge variety and high standard of all the entries. The exhibition will include artworks across a range of mediums, from paint and sculpture to print and video.” The galleries are open 10am to 4pm, Wednesday to Saturday and the exhibition is open until 23rd December. For more details visit

9th December, Wrexham Living Landscape Birdwatching, Wrexham Join the North Wales Wildlife Trust for a guided walk around the Wrexham Industrial Estate to see many of the winter birds that can be found there, including redwings and woodcocks. 9am-noon. Meet at Redwither Tower. To book email henry.cook@

11th-14th December, Retreat Into Winter, Trigonos Centre, Caernarfon This long weekend of yoga and sound healing will leave you feeling open, relaxed, refreshed and re-energised, ready for the busy festive season. The yoga will be a mix of slow flow, restorative and yin, while gong baths, sound journeying and meditation will help you to clear your energy field. From £460. Email or

A pantomime that’s just right for all the family Take your family along to Theatr Colwyn and join Goldilocks & The Three Bears on a magical adventure this Christmas. The fantastic pantomime, which runs from 19th December to 2nd January, promises to be a festive treat that’s “just right” for all ages! We join Goldilocks on her inquisitive journey into the woods… what will she find behind the door of the secluded cottage? Audiences can expect magic, puppets, comedy, song, dance and lots of laughs in the fun-filled production by Magic Light Productions, the latest in a string of successful family shows including Cinderella, Jack & The Beanstalk, Dick Whittington, Beauty & The Beast and last year’s The Magic Of Wonderland at Speke Hall. Tickets cost just £14 for adults, £12 for seniors and £11 for children. To book, visit

12th & 13th December, Breakfast With the Elf, Plas Coch Inn, Wrexham Enjoy a delicious cooked breakfast and meet one of Santa’s little helpers. Breakfast is served from 9.30am to 11.30am and costs £6 per person. All children receive a selection box.

21st December, Elsa & Olaf Storytime, Plas Coch Inn, Wrexham Relax while Elsa and Olaf read the children a story! The kids will be given milk or squash and biscuits and receive a small gift. £3 per child. To book, call 01978 261470.

26th December – 1st January, Mince Pie Specials, Llangollen Railway Relax in comfort as you admire the beautiful Dee Valley from your specially decorated carriage. Adults receive a mince pie and a tipple, and children can enjoy a treat and a drink. Trains depart from Llangollen Station at 10.40am, 1pm & 3.10pm. Tickets £18 adults, £10 children.

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Live music at Aberystwyth Arts Centre Local events and entertainment company Haka returns to Aberystwyth for the fifth time with its flagship live music showcase, Hakoustic 5, on 20th November. Taking place in the intimate setting of the Round Studio,

the event provides a platform for some of the finest local talent to work and perform in a professional environment, and gives its audiences a top-quality night of live, local music at an affordable price. The performance will feature

local acts Sam Bennett, Laslo Xavia and Angelina & Ilona, before headline sets from Haka co-founder Kedma and vocal powerhouse Paul Dark. The show starts at 7.45pm and tickets cost from £10. www.

1st November, Halloween Fun, The Silver Mountain Experience, Aberystwyth With a whole host of activities fit for monsters big and small, this is one “not too scary” Halloween party! Solve the Trick or Treat Trail or take a tour into the dark history of the mine in The Black Chasm. www.

Shop local in Brecon Discover beautiful, handmade products at the Brecon Craft Fair, which takes place in the town’s historic market hall. Around 60 producers will be offering a unique collection of Welsh arts and crafts, from soft furnishings to hand-painted jewellery. The fair is open 9am to 4.30pm on 21st November, 5th and 19th December.

Festive fun at Cantref Farm Step into a winter wonderland at Brecon’s Cantref Farm Park this Christmas. Meet the elves in their workshop and then visit Santa, who’ll check his list to see if you’ve been good and choose a gift! Sessions include a timed slot in the indoor play area and a visit to Mary Christmas’s Kitchen to decorate a biscuit. To book visit

Find unique Christmas gifts at Corris Corris Craft Centre near Machynlleth is looking forward to welcoming visitors back to its studios, where you can browse and buy products. The centre boasts nine individual studios, where you can meet the talented designer-makers and buy their handmade items. With an amazing selection of candles and soaps, chocolates and fudge, contemporary Celtic jewellery, glass sculptures, gin, handmade pottery, herbal lotions, natural forest furniture and wooden toys and gifts on offer, there really is something for everyone at Corris. The Y Crochan café serves tea, coffee, homemade cakes and an all-day menu, so why not enjoy a full day out while buying some special items for Christmas?

Push yourself to the limit


Take on the legendary Special Forces selection test in the breathtaking Brecon Beacons on 28th November. The infamous Fan Dance is a test march that takes place over the highest point in the Brecon Beacons, Pen Y Fan, covering a total distance of 24km. Entry costs £40. To see if you’ve got what it takes, visit www.

Discover one of alt-folk’s best-kept secrets when Sam Brookes appears at The Globe at Hay on 5th December. Sam’s four-octave range, evocative lyrics and soaring melodies have made him a rising figure in the British folk scene. Tickets cost from £8 in advance. For details, visit www.globe

Hay’s Winter Weekend goes digital Enjoy a festive wonderland of free events at Hay Festival’s Winter Weekend from 26th to 29th November, which brings together writers and readers online for conversation, storytelling, comedy and music. The event promises a starstudded line-up of speakers and performers, and fun for all the family. For the full line-up, visit

7th-8th November, Traditional Welsh Quilt Making, Make It In Wales, Cardigan Enjoy two days of professional quilting tuition with Lesley Jenkins and learn the techniques to produce a quilt inspired by a traditional 19th-century Welsh design. All fabrics provided. 10.30am-4.30pm. £270.

8th November, 4x4 Adventure Tour, Rhayader A one-day adventure tour beginning at the Elan Valley and heading north to Nant-y-Arran. Suitable for standard and newer vehicles. 9am-5pm.

14th November, Nanteos Estate Dinner & Pudding Club, Aberystwyth The first of its kind at Plas Nanteos Estate, this evening will feature a sevencourse dinner with five – yes, five! – desserts. And not a “selection of” either, but all of them! 7pm. £45 per person.

15th November, Navigation For Runners, Brecon Beacons A one-day course for those wishing to gain and develop a full range of skills for safe and efficient off-road running. Learn how to understand the basics of maps, master your compass and get away from trails and marked routes. With a big dose of navigation training, you’ll also look at issues such as clothing and equipment, route selection, techniques, trail and mountain running ethos and safety and environmental issues.

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16th-17th November, Reiki Level One, Borth A course for those wishing to start their journey with reiki. Participants will receive four attunements over two days, engage in meditations, and learn the history of reiki, the hand positions for teaching and the role of chakras. 10am-4pm.

16th-17th November, Zero Carbon Britain: Live Online, Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth A two-day, interactive course offering an in-depth look at CAT’s flagship research project: Zero Carbon Britain. Connect with a network of others working and studying in the field and explore the changes needed to rise to the climate challenge. 9.30am5pm. £75.

20th-21st November, An Introduction To Trail Running Weekend, Brecon Beacons Stay at the Longtown Outdoor Learning Centre for a brilliant weekend of trail running, fun and exploration in the beautiful Black Mountains and Herefordshire borderlands. From £160 per person. Non-residential, £120 per person. www.

24th November, Free Virtual Yoga Session, Online Get Out Get Active has teamed up with a yoga instructor to bring you a free virtual 40-minute session. Her session will be aired via Zoom and can be adapted to all abilities, conditions and impairments. 6pm. Visit the Get Out Get Active Wales Facebook page to sign up.

25th November, Needle Felt A Robin Or Penguin, Denmark Farm, Lampeter Create a festive decoration at this workshop suitable for all abilities. Emma will guide you through the techniques and you can take home your bird at the end of the day. 10am-4pm. £45, plus £10 for materials. www.denmark

Birdwatching with Iolo Williams Join wildlife presenter Iolo Williams for a Christmas Birdwatching Day like no other at Ynys-Hir RSPB Reserve on 4th December. The day, organised by Falconry Experience Wales, will provide plenty of opportunities to explore the reserve and the special hides available. The area is an excellent habitat for white-fronted geese, golden plover, lapwing, wigeon and barnacle geese, as well as birds of

prey including peregrine falcons, hen harriers, merlins and the occasional short-eared owl. The afternoon will also give you the chance to visit Aberystwyth to look for coastal waders on the shoreline and watch a murmuration of starlings. The experience costs £165 and includes a full day with Iolo Williams, transport to the various locations and a two-course Christmas lunch.

Solve the maze in Corris

Beautiful images for Christmas

The Lost Legends Of The Stone Circle, next to King Arthur’s Labyrinth in Corris, has fully reopened. Visitors have an hour to navigate the winding paths to the centre of the maze; there’s also a quiz to complete and a Dragon Quest for younger visitors. Tickets cost £5.20 for adults and £3 for children. www.

Delight friends and family with unique Christmas cards and support the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway this festive season. The railway has created a series of delightful images from paintings by Jonathan Clay. The cards feature three wintry images of engines, and the message inside is in both English and Welsh. The cards are available in a variety of pack sizes, starting at £4.75 for five. To order, visit

Discover a magical world There’s something for the whole family to enjoy at the Silver Mountain Experience this Christmas. Visit the mine near Aberystwyth to discover a festive world full of magic and sparkle. Meet Father Christmas in his grotto, visit the Elves’ Workshop where there is a present for every child, have fun decorating a Christmas cookie, enjoy some festive

Make memories with your hands

Awaken your creativity and find your craft at Cardigan’s Stiwdio 3. The Make It In Wales Centre runs a huge range of craft courses taught by professional artists and makers, and ensures that everyone goes home with a sense of pride and achievement. From bookbinding to traditional Welsh quilt making, there’s plenty going on, and you’re bound find something to get your creative juices flowing. Workshops to choose from this November and December include Map Fold Bookbinding with Carole King on 1st November, Wet Felting with Ruth Packham on 22nd November, Textile Flags with Nia Lewis on 28th November and Make a Metal Flower Wreath with Susan Bain on 5th December. To find out more and to book your place, visit

treats in the Miner’s Rest Café, and get busy following the Christmas Reindeer Trail! Events run from 19th to 23rd December and the surface attractions are all open for you to enjoy.

Add your voice to the archive

The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth is collecting a variety of items, from newspaper cuttings to official publications, as a record of the Covid-19 crisis and its effect on the people of Wales – and it wants to hear your voice too so future generations can better understand this period and its effects. You can choose whichever medium you prefer – letter, diary, video, voice recording or image. Send it by email to story@ or by post to National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth SY23 3BU, along with a completed Covid-19 experience form which can be downloaded from

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A great day out at CAT The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Machynlleth is an inspiring place full of working examples of renewable energy, beautiful organic gardens, experimental green buildings and sustainably managed woodland habitats. Here you can discover all

Coastal run returns

Take on an epic challenge when Run to the Castle returns on 5th December. The 42-mile endurance race takes runners along the beautiful coastal path from Aberdyfi to Harlech, taking in the seafront at Tywyn, the village of Fairbourne, the famous Fairbourne Bridge and Barmouth along the way. Race entry costs from £40 and includes a fully marked course, food and drinks at four checkpoints, and a medal. www.

about renewable technologies through hands-on displays, see buildings built with cutting-edge green techniques and learn more about their construction, and enjoy a jam-packed trip full of informative and fun activities in a glorious setting.

Get your festive season on track If you’re looking to add some sparkle to the festive season, why not head to the Talyllyn Railway for a relaxing Turkey & Tinsel steam train ride? The special trains run on 2nd, 9th and 16th December. Compartments cost £40 for one to three passengers and £60 for four to six passengers. Visit

With plenty of open spaces to explore, the team at CAT are confident that they can deliver a great day out while keeping your safety a top priority. Pre-booking is essential; for more information and to book your ticket, visit

Get creative with willow weaving You can try your hand at willow weaving at Denmark Farm Conservation Centre in Lampeter on 11th November. During the relaxed Christmas crafts workshop, you’ll create a range of beautiful items to decorate your house or give as gifts to someone special. The workshop is suitable for all abilities and costs £50 per person plus £10 for materials, to be paid on the day. To book your place, visit www.denmark

Lift your eyes to the heavens

Put in your bid for a one-off treat

Marvel at the night sky on a stargazing weekend in Staylittle from 11th to 13th December. The event, organized by Dark Sky Wales, offers you two days’ astronomical tuition and observation and is aimed at all levels of experience. Accommodation comprises six deluxe wigwam cabins sleeping up to four adults or a family of five. Visit www.darkskywales

Vale of Rheidol Railway’s Chance Of A Lifetime auction is offering a range of one-off opportunities to lucky bidders, with all the profits going towards the upkeep of the line between Aberystwyth and Devil’s Bridge. The online auction takes place on 18th December. Visit


28th-29th November, Outdoor First Aid, NewbridgeOn-Wye This 16-hour course is suitable for outdoor professionals and those who want more confidence dealing with incidents in rural or remote environments. It covers all the most common injuries and illnesses and includes an EFAW certificate. £130. Booking essential.

29th November, Winter Artisan Market, The Barn at Brynich, Brecon There will be a wonderful range of handmade arts and crafts on display, ranging from stocking fillers and special treats to gorgeous gifts for all ages. 11am-5pm. Free entry and parking.

8th December, Group Stargazing, Brecon Beacons Enjoy the dark skies of Wales, accompanied by astronomers who’ll guide you around the night sky from constellations to nebula, learning the mythology and science of astronomy. All astronomical equipment will be provided. 7pm-9pm. £20. www.darksky

12th December, Learn To Make Macramé Christmas Trees, Make It In Wales, Cardigan Make your own set of adorable macramé Christmas trees to decorate your home. If you are new to macramé, the scale of these trees make them a good starter project. Expert tutor Alice Thomas will guide you through each of the steps to make a few trees during the session. 10am & 1.30pm. £48.

Take the plunge Open-water swimmers are invited to take the plunge in the Cool Mile & KM on 1st November. The event takes place in Tal-y-llyn, a stunning glacial ribbon lake at the foot of Cadair Idris. The course consists of four laps of 400m for the mile swim or two laps of 500m for


the 1km, and there will be hot Ribena available after each lap. The swim starts at 11am, and with the water temperatures expected to be around seven degrees it’s advised that you don’t enter unless you’re used to cold-water swimming.

29th December, Own A Pony Day, Cantref Adventure Farm, Brecon Give a child the opportunity to own a pony for a day! This perfect gift for a pony-mad child will give them a chance to groom, tack up, ride their pony and play equine games. Lunch is included and the child will receive a certificate and rosette to take home, along with lots of special memories. Ages six-plus. £59.95.

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Borderland beauty The town of Welshpool is nestled between a mountain on one side and Powis Castle on the other, and is just four miles from the border between England and Wales


elshpool boasts a well-protected location, which has seen it endure numerous conflicts during its proud past, and it is now the fourth largest town in the unitary authority of Powys. While its Welsh-language name, Y Trallwng, means “marshy or sinking land”, its title in English had to change from Pool in 1835 in order to differentiate it from the Dorset town of Poole. These changes have done nothing to hinder the continued development and thriving community of the town, which today boasts a population of almost 7,000. The centre of the town is an attractive

Powis Castle

DID YOU KNOW? Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway opened in 1903

mix of Georgian architecture with the odd ancient relic thrown in, such as St Mary’s Church. The Grade I listed building dates from about 1250, and remains of the original building can be found in the lower courses of the current church tower, which was rebuilt in the 16th century and restored again in 1871.

Defensive position

Long Mountain (Cefn Digoll), which provides a backdrop for most of Welshpool, has offered the perfect grounds for defence for the town’s fortresses over the years, but didn’t prevent the town being devastated by the forces of Owain Glyndwr in 1400 as he began his rebellion against the English king Henry IV. The town was granted an extended charter by Edward de Cherleton in 1406 as a reward for its loyalty through the conflict and in recognition of its historical significance, the waymarked long-distance footpath Glyndwr’s Way runs through the town. Another popular walking route, Offa’s Dyke, is a mile outside the town, and walkers can also enjoy the route along the banks of the Montgomery Canal.

Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway

Rural glory

The countryside surrounding Welshpool is bountiful and accessible. The Severn Farm Pond nature reserve is worth a visit and anglers will be drawn to the River Severn. For sports fans there is an interesting golf course nearby and various facilities at the Flash Leisure Centre including a swimming pool and indoor bowls hall. Welshpool has a football club and a rugby union club, as well as hockey and cricket clubs. Shoppers and diners are well served in the town centre and the annual Welshpool Carnival brings residents and visitors together to celebrate the town every May. By far the most visited attraction in the area is the 13th-century Powis castle – a towering sandstone structure overlooking the Severn Valley. It is an impressive sight, set in stunning gardens and home to an interesting museum displaying artefacts from 13 centuries of Welshpool’s past. THINGS TO SEE AND DO Powis Castle Welshpool SY21 8RF; www.nationaltrust. Powysland Museum The Canal Wharf, Welshpool SY21 7AQ 01938 554656 Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway Pool Road, Llanfair Caereinion, Welshpool SY21 0SF

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1st November, Litter Pick, Chester Join others for a socially distanced litter pick around Chester, solo or in groups of six or under. Litter pickers, bags, gloves and hand sanitiser will be provided. 1pm. Free event. To register visit

1st November – 31st December, Capture The Moon, Jodrell Bank, Knutsford Take part in Jodrell Bank’s astrophotography challenge, part of a new initiative, Science Learning at Home. Anyone can take part – just take a photograph of the moon and share it on social media, tagging @JodrellBank and using the hashtag #CaptureTheMoon.

5th November, Psychic Night, The Little Owl, Chester Want to peek into the future? Join one of the psychics at The Little Owl for a personal reading. From 5.30pm, last reading 9.20pm. £23 per reading.

Discover the magic of Christmas at Dunham Massey Explore an illuminated Christmas trail within the beautiful landscape of Dunham Massey from 20th November to 30th December. Enter a world festooned with seasonal cheer enhanced by a soundtrack of festive classics. Stroll beside colour-changing lakeside reflections and under

Spooky spectacular at Beeston Castle Gather your little monsters for ghoulish fun at Beeston Castle from 24th October to 1st November. Follow the trail to solve creepy clues and listen to spooky stories. There’s also a frighteningly fun fancy dress competition, so wear your scariest outfits. Booking required. www.

Dining days at Chester Racecourse •12th November, Wedding Showcase, Abode Chester

Guests will be welcomed with a glass of bubbly before the events team guide you through the showcase, which will be held in the Tattersalls Suite set up for a wedding ceremony and breakfast. A venue dresser will also be on hand throughout the evening to answer any questions. 5pm-8pm. Free entry.

14th November, Cheshire Wildlife Trust Virtual AGM Owing to Covid-19, this year’s annual general meeting will be held virtually. You will be able to access the meeting online, where you will hear members of the wildlife trust share news from this extraordinary year. 10am-11.30am. Register at

Head to Restaurant 1539 at Chester Racecourse for an afternoon filled with great food, drinks and the exclusive use of the Chester bet team for all your betting needs on 14th November (Cheltenham November meeting) and 12th December (Away Racing at 1539). All you need to do is book a table with the restaurant and they will take care of the rest. Visit

trees dripping with silvery shards of light, baubles, and stars. Huge snowflakes create an aerial kaleidoscope over the gardens and the tunnel of light returns with twinkling splendour. Don’t forget to watch out for Father Christmas along the way. The trail is open from 4.30pm, with the last entry at 8.15pm and

Treats at Blakemere Pirate Pumpkin Trail, 24th October – 8th November Spot the spooktacular pumpkins on this fun outdoor trail. There’s a craft activity with each completed trail form. Trail maps, £5.

Christmas Magical Woodland, 28th November – 31st December Cutting edge lighting and sound bring wonder. Adults £17.95, children £14.50.

a 10pm close. Tickets cost from £20 for adults, £13 for children, and £60 for a family (two adults and two children). Entry is free for carers and children aged two and under, while parking costs £7. Free for National Trust members when booked in advance. www.nationaltrust.

Chester Boat’s winter warmers Festive Fish & Chip Fridays, 27th November – 18th December Take in the Cheshire countryside while enjoying a fish and chip lunch. Turkey & Tinsel Lunch Cruises, 25th November – 16th December Twohour cruise on Wednesdays. Tickets £19.50 adults, £10 children. Booking essential. www.

Starlit scenes at Chester Zoo

Lanterns will transform Chester Zoo into a wonderland full of sparkle, a sprinkling of snow and some unexpected encounters, from 13th November to 23rd December. This year’s route will take you on a journey to discover faraway lands, and the popular underwater world will also make a return. The lanterns are lit from 4pm to 8.15pm. Tickets cost £16 adults and £13.50 children. Booking is required.

Dive with sharks at Blue Planet An underwater adventure is waiting for you at Blue Planet Aquarium in Chester. Home to more than 100 living displays, as well as one of Europe’s largest collections of sharks, the aquarium has plenty of marine life to marvel at, and the popular shark dives are also now back. Online tickets cost £17.10 for adults and £12.15 for children.

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DID YOU KNOW? You can meet Breeze the Jersey calf and Dancer (includes a gift from Father the reindeer! Christmas); £7 parking.

Terrific events at Tatton Park Run 10k and half marathon, 7th-8th November A weekend of running, live performances and food stalls. Race entry £26. Father Christmas at the Farm, 28th November – 20th December See Father Christmas and his elf helpers in a socially distanced grotto. Enjoy a live nativity and mini shows around the farmyard. 10.30am-2.30m. Admission £8 adults, £7 under-15s

Seasonal Storyhouse events Moonlit Drive-In @ Deva Stadium, 27th October – 1st November A Halloween edition with classics including The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Beetlejuice. Tickets from £26.55. A Christmas Carol, 7th November – 17th January Full of songs and laughter, A Christmas Carol will run until 2020 is the ghost of Christmas past. Tickets from £23.

Holly’s Festive Feast, 28th November – 3rd January Solve the puzzles to help Holly the Hare find her friends. 10am4pm (last entry 3pm). Children’s party pack £2. Normal admission to Tatton Park is £8 for adults and £6 for children, and is free for National Trust members.

Christmas wreath making At Norley Village Hall near Frodsham on 26th November and 3rd December, staff from Delamere Flower Farm will be on hand to help make your own Christmas wreath. The farm is also offering kits to make a home and ready-made wreaths to buy. Entry costs £35, including materials. www.delamere

Calling all Gruffalo spotters!

Lantern spectacular at Heaton Park Lightopia returns to Heaton Park with its award-winning and visually spectacular lantern and light festival from 20th November to 3rd January. Tickets cost from £20 adults and £13 children.

The Gruffalo and his friends are back at Delamere Forest from 4th December with a brand new adventure. Follow the Gruffalo Spotters trail and see what creatures you can find! Download the free app, pick up an activity pack and tiptoe into the deep, dark wood. Visit www. for more details.

A garden visit from Santa’s elves

Local produce at a local market

Candle-making workshop

Warrington residents could have a garden visit from cheeky elves on 5th and 20th December in this secure fun activity. The elves will arrive in your garden with treats for the children and take requests for any silly antics. Booking essential. 10am4pm. £45. www.facebook. com/mcr magicalelves

Come along to Nantwich town square on 28th November and 19th December for Nantwich Farmers’ Market. Most of the produce has been grown, reared, brewed or processed by the stallholder. 9am to 3pm. www.

Learn basic skills to make candles – rolled, moulded, dipped and tea – at Norton Priory Museum & Gardens, Runcorn, on 15th November. Discover all about beeswax and how to stay safe when melting it for candles. You’ll take all the candles you make home. The course costs £38.50, including tea and coffee.

14th & 28th November and 19th December, Alexander’s Live, Chester Crowded Scouse, a tribute to Crowded House, will perform on 14th November, followed by True Gold: The Spandau Ballet Experience on 28th November. On 19th December, take your seats for essential classic hits with System Eighties. Times and ticket prices vary. Capacity is currently reduced and tables are available on a first come first served basis. To book, visit

21st November, Hoole Christmas Lights, Chester Rather than the traditional light switch-on for its 21st year, Hoole is encouraging its residents to Stay Home, Decorate and Light Up Hoole! Residents are asked to decorate their front windows and gardens with Christmas lights, as a simultaneous bigger and brighter switch-on lights up the village’s shopping area.

22nd November, Festive Market, Springbrook Rotisserie, Warrington An outdoor festive market with some amazing local small businesses joining for the afternoon. There will also be some special guests – Father Christmas has already RSVP’d! 3pm. Free entry.

28th November, Christmas Market, The Peacock Grill & Pizza, Warrington This year’s market will be an outdoor event with local businesses selling all kinds of Christmas goodies from cakes to calendars. Covid-19 rules will be in place. Noon-4pm. Free entry.

28th November – 24th December, Christmas at Gulliver’s Kingdom, Warrington Climb on board the North Pole Express to Winter Wonderland! There will be special stops along the way and every child will have the chance to give Santa Claus their Christmas wish list. Enjoy a magical walk through a winter wonderland and choose your own gift at the Elf Workshop. Rides not operating. 10.30am-2pm. £10.

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Walk in the air at Chester Cathedral •29th November, Handbridge Christmas Market, Chester A Christmas market from Mill Street to Belgrave Place. Live music, Santa’s grotto, stalls including artisan food, arts, crafts, gifts and street food. Noon-6pm. Free entry.

20th December, Festive Lunch, Wychwood Park Hotel, Crewe Gather the family for a festive three-course lunch with Olaf. Not only will there be photo opportunities with the most famous snowman around, but also the chance to meet the main man with a visit to Santa’s grotto for every child. 12.30pm4pm. Adults £22, children £14.50, under-threes free.

Throughout November & December, Chester Ghost Tour Join your Chester Ghost Tour guide every Saturday at 7.30pm outside the Town Hall Visitor Information Centre on Northgate Street to begin your eerie journey through Chester’s haunted history. Ghost Tours are approximately 90 minutes long. Book tickets in advance on 01244 405340.

The Snowman returns to Chester Cathedral to enchant audiences of all ages on 21st December. Accompanied by a live orchestra including some of the UK’s top musicians, this unique screening of the iconic animated film promises lots of festive surprises throughout the event. Performances feature the much-loved Walking In The Air sung by a local young soloist chosen

Oulton Park goes out with a bang! The motor-racing season at Oulton Park culminates on 7th November with the Neil Howard Stage Rally, followed by a fireworks display. The Cheshire circuit will see competitors battle against the clock, with plenty of mud-slinging action guaranteed. Gates open at 8am, and tickets cost £17 adults and £11 for 13to 15-year-olds. For full details, visit

Warrington Winter Festival

Afternoon cuppa with Santa

The Winter Festival & Christmas Craft Fete at Padgate Youth & Community Centre, Warrington, on 22nd November is a great opportunity to pick up some festive gifts. There will be a wide range of stalls selling tasty treats and unique goods, ideal for Christmas presents. The festival opens at 11am and admission is free.

Enjoy a magical afternoon tea with Santa at Oddfellows in Chester on 13th and 20th December. The festive teas will be socially distanced in the beautifully decorated venue with a special visit from Santa. All children will receive a gift. Tickets cost £20.50 for adults and £12.50 for under-12s. Booking is essential.

Arts centre gets back on track •

Throughout November & December, Chester Roman Tours Chester Roman Tours offer a fact-filled entertaining story of 2,000-year-old Deva, Britain’s biggest Roman fortress. Legionary guides take you behind the scenes at key sites to explore the drama of life in the Roman army. Public tours take place every day at noon and 3pm, and are currently limited to 15 people. Book in advance at

The Pyramid Arts Centre in Warrington has reopened with a reduced programme to allow for social distancing. Events on offer during November and December include live performances, artists’ studios, weddings and classes. All events are examined on a case-bycase basis, with regular updates online. pyramid.

December, Virtual Santa’s Grotto Chester Pride has teamed up with Dial West Cheshire to bring a unique Zoom call with Santa. Tickets include a five-minute call, personalised card and small gift. For every ticket sold, a toy will be donated to a children’s charity. Times vary. Tickets from £5. Search “Virtual Santa’s Grotto UK” on Facebook for further details.

by audition, as well as a Christmas medley, a fun introduction to the orchestra and, of course, a visit from the Snowman himself. There will be a revised seating plan to allow for social distancing. Screenings take place at 11.15am, 1.45pm, 4pm and 6.30pm, and tickets cost from £12 to £28. For more details and to book tickets, visit

Online concerts with Sandbach

Sandbach Concert Series has moved online. Concerts follow the same format as always but in a slightly shortened and condensed way using Zoom. Breakout rooms of up to 10 people will be created for participants to mingle during the interval. Online doors open 6.30pm, and donations are welcome. To register visit

Get creative at Mojo in Lymm Knit a Chunky Woolly Hat, 8th November Learn how to knit on circular needles. A basic knowledge of knitting and purling is required. 10.30am. £65. Arm Knitting, 22nd November Knit a chunky throw in a choice of colours. 10am. £65. Christmas Card Making, 29th November Use stamping, colouring, embossing, die cutting and scoring. 10am. £35.

We’re going on an elf hunt… Santa’s elves are on the loose at Marbury Country Park in Northwich on 28th and 29th November. Can you help save Christmas and collect all their names before it is too late? The trail is open from noon to 3pm and tickets costs from £5. Search “Elf Hunt 2020 Marbury Country Park” on Facebook.

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Kate Rusby’s festive treats Join Kate Rusby at Parr Hall in Warrington on 3rd December for an evening of carols, humour and storytelling. Kate’s concerts celebrate what makes Christmas so special, as she and her fellow musicians perform fabulous songs brim-full of the goodwill and spirituality of the season. The show starts at 7.30pm and tickets cost from £20.

Live music at a distance Seth Lakeman will be playing a live, socially distanced set at The Live Rooms in Chester on 29th November. Seth is an English folk singer, songwriter and multiinstrumentalist, who is most often associated with the fiddle and tenor guitar, but also plays the viola and banjo. He has spent much of past few years touring the world as part of Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters. Doors open at 7pm. Tickets must be booked in advance and cost from £25 per person. For details, visit

Scott Matthews at St Mary’s

Roman Candle welcomes Scott Matthews back to St Mary’s Creative Space, Chester on 10th November. Join the man, his guitar and song for an evening of live music in the heart of the city. The show runs from 7.30pm to 10.30pm and tickets cost £15. Booking is required; visit www. stmarys creative space.

Weston Christmas light display

Graham Witter has once again created a Christmas spectacle at Carters Green Farm near Crewe, with thousands of lights and decorations for families to enjoy in aid of the Donna Louise Hospice. The drive-through Starlit Garden is open from 6.15pm to 9pm from 1st to 28th December, and there are visits from Santa on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Admission is free but donations are welcome.

Tabley’s treasures on show The Tabley House art and furniture collection in Knutsford is open until 1st November. Visitors get a free guide providing information about the house, the family and the collection’s treasures, while volunteers are also on hand to answer any questions. There are visiting slots at 15-minute intervals from 1pm to 4.30pm, Thursday to Sunday. Tickets cost £7 for adults and £3 for children.

Christmas at Arley Hall Christmas Market, 5th-9th December A festive market held in the courtyard stable. Pick up some festive treats and gifts while admiring the gorgeous setting. Festive afternoon teas will be available. 10am-4pm. Entry £6 for adults, £2 for children; under-fours free, parking £2. Christmas Wreath Making, 5th & 6th December Create a wreath under the guidance of Arley’s head gardener, using foliage from Arley Gardens. You’ll be able to take your creation home at the end of the session. 9.30am-11.30am. £30 per person. Parking free. Booking essential. Floral Demonstrations, 8th & 9th December Join Jonathan Moseley for a floral demonstration using fresh flowers and foliage from Arley Gardens. Guests will enjoy a winter punch on arrival. 11am & 2pm. £20 per person. Booking essential.

Winter exhibits at Warrington Museum Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival Open, this year’s exhibition at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery runs until 20th December showcasing sculpture, painting, print, collage, photography and more. The museum is open Wednesday to Sunday. Admission is free but tickets must be booked in advance.

A magical Christmas drive-in Head to Tarvin Sands Reindeer & Fishery Centre, Kelsall between 5th and 24th December for a 40-minute, fun-packed musical that’s sure to bring some festive cheer and can be watched from the comfort and safety of your own car. The show features a stage with 360° views, so no matter where you park, you will have the perfect view. All you need is a working, tuneable radio that can receive an FM signal – you’ll be given the frequency to tune it to when you arrive. Spaces are limited, so booking is essential. Shows are at 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm and tickets cost £10 per person.

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What with the Australian bushfires, Royals not being Royal anymore, leaving the European Union and a global pandemic... It’s safe to say 2020’s not exactly been a vintage year so far.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t still retire. Speak to us today 01691 670 524

Offices in Chester, Shrewsbury, Knutsford & Oswestry

Beaumont Wealth is a trading style of Beaumont Financial Planners Limited who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Company registered in England number 8707394. Registered address Emstrey House North, Shrewsbury Business Park, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY2 6LG

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ll a r e t f a n a m u h y l n o He's Gary Barlow may be one of the world’s biggest stars, but the Cheshire-born singer and songwriter still appreciates the simple things at home. He talks to Shire about his new solo album and his planned tour for next year weeks before lockdown. When I listen to it, it brings back some great memories.”

Fond friends

“The Crooner Sessions were some of the best times I’ve ever had – it was just brilliant!”


t may have been a quiet year for king of pop Gary Barlow, but when you see his plans for 2021 that may not be a bad thing. With a new solo album, Music Played By Humans, out on 27th November, Gary has a 15-date tour across the UK and Ireland planned for June 2021 that will certainly keep him on the move. Starting where he began, in the northwest, he’ll be joined on stage by Beverley Knight and plans to sing some of his old favourites as well as the new tunes. “It seems weird now because we live in another world at this point, but I came up with the album literally as we came off tour last year,” he says. “I started thinking, ‘Right, what’s next?’ And I thought, ‘Wow, all these years I’ve never done an album with an orchestra.’ But it’s not just an orchestra on this record – it’s quartets, it’s Latin bands, it’s jazz, big band sections. It’s all different types of people in a room playing together and that’s why I thought it’s music played by humans. “Little did I realise how poignant that would be in this period – we finished our last session with, I think, a 45-piece orchestra two

Gary describes the album as “a big, bright, beautiful sound” and it features numerous collaborations with artists including Michael Bublé, Barry Manilow and Alesha Dixon. Gary also got to work with friend and comedian James Corden on a track he wrote with Tim Firth. “I’m always in contact with James and I said, ‘Hey mate, it’s the 11th hour – take a listen to this’ and he was like, ‘Book me a studio!’ He stuck his vocal, all the banter bits – he actually wrote some of those bits for me to say because I’m not funny like him, but I thought it came out really well.

I’ve never felt closer to my friends and this song celebrates friendship in a northern way, in a British way. I enjoyed that one.” Throughout lockdown, Gary kept the nation entertained online with The Crooner Sessions on YouTube, recorded with various singers over video call. Gary is reluctant to choose one that he preferred above the others. “You can’t ask me to pick between my children, that would be terrible!” he says. “Honestly, a few people have said thanks for doing them but I say don’t say that – I had the best bloody time ever doing them. People were so kind and generous with their time, and the fun you all saw was a small fraction of the fun we had! It was some of the best times I’ve ever had – it was just brilliant.”

Lockdown life

Gary and his family had to adapt to lockdown living just like the rest of us, with Gary making the discovery “that I don’t want to live in a world without football!” Alongside missing his sports, he has also taken time to enjoy the little things and managed to keep fit too. “I’ve been mixing up running, cycling walking and swimming. Isn’t that a triathlon?” he laughs. “But I’ve also been cooking loads of curries and have been watching Schitt’s Creek on Netflix, which is amazing. Most of all, though, I’ve learned to relax – it’s quite nice. “But I love performing,” Gary adds. “I’ve missed it so much. I’m excited about how the new songs on the album will sound live and with an audience. I’m just really looking forward to getting out there and seeing everyone again.” November/December 2020 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 27

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Calling all

Gruffalo Sp tters

to Delamere Forest Follow the trail, spot the signs and see what creatures you can find

Christmas at Arley Hall Download the NEW Gruffalo Spotter 2 app before you visit!

Gin, glorious gin!

Raise a glass and enjoy two nights of gin tasting with Tappers Gin, based on the Wirral Peninsula. The events provide an opportunity to visit the Tappers nano-distillery, take a peek behind the scenes and relax in the intimate setting of the tasting room while trying a selection of delicious gins. Sample a selection of autumnal and winter gins at the Winter Gin Tasting Evening on 14th November, while some Christmassy tipples – including a limited edition Figgy Pudding Gin – are on offer at the Festive Gin Tasting on 5th December. Both evenings, which run from 7pm to 9pm, begin with a brief tour of the distillery and are followed by a tasting led by gin producer Dr Steve Tapril. To find out more, visit

Music at West Kirby Arts Centre

forestryeng gruffalospot gruffalospotters ters

Phil Chisnall & Split Level, 13th November Phil performs solo in the first half, then with Lynne as Split Level, performing Americana, pop, stage, folk and blues. 7.30pm. Tickets £5.

Forestry England

©1999 & TM Julia Donaldson/ Axel Scheffler. Licensed by Magic Light Pictures Ltd

Simply Dylan, 19th November Join John O’Connell and his band for an acoustic gig. 7.30pm. Tickets £17.50. Follow us on social media

Christmas at Arley Hall Christmas at Arley, 5th – 9th December

Stroll around the gardens and see them in their winter Christmas attraders Arley Hall glory, wander around the set in wooden chalets

Christmas at Arley Hall

selling Christmas gifts and visit the Arley gift shop. Enjoy delicious festive treats in The Gardener’s Kitchen Café. You can also enjoy a Festive Afternoon Tea either in the magnificent Hall or The Gardener’s Kitchen (additional cost applies for Afternoon Teas). 10am – 4pm. Entry per adult £7 (pre-booked £6), children 4 – 16 years £2, under 4s free, parking £2 per car. Pre-booking essential Follow us on social media

Christmas Wreath Making, 5th & 6th December

Create your own Christmas wreath under the guidance of Arley’s head gardener using foliage from the Arley gardens. You will be able to take your creation home at the end of the session. 10am & 2pm. £30 per person. Pre-booking essential

Pre-book by calling 01565 777353.

Pre-booking is essential as we cannot guarantee entry should un-booked entry numbers exceed our covid limit. Follow us on social media

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John O’Connell At Christmas, 10th December An eclectic set including new songs and classic tunes. 7.30pm. Tickets £15.

Get snapping!

Floral Demonstrations, 8th & 9th December

Join Jonathan Moseley for a floral demonstration using fresh flowers and foliage from the Arley Gardens. Guests will enjoy a winter punch on arrival. 11am & 2pm. £20 per person. Pre-booking essential

Keith James: The Songs Of Leonard Cohen, 28th November A concert of Cohen’s amazing material, including “Famous Blue Raincoat”, “Suzanne” and “Hallelujah”. 7.45pm. Tickets £14.

If you fancy yourself as a budding photographer, there’s still time to enter the Ness Botanic Gardens photography competition. The competition encourages everyone to explore the great outdoors and record how inspiring plants and gardens can be. Categories include Plants, Gardens, Wildlife and Abstract, all taken in Ness Botanic Gardens, as well as Outdoor Spaces, which can be taken anywhere. The overall winner receives £100, while the winner of the Young Person’s Prize will win £40. Entry costs £10 for three entries and the competition closes on 18th December. Visit www.liverpool. for more details.

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On stage at the Pavilion Liverpool Legends In Conversation, 9th November – POSTPONED until 16th June 2021 Former club captain Phil Thompson and goal machine John Aldridge discuss games, dressing room and training ground stories, managers and fall-outs – including a candid Q&A. VIP meet and greet tickets available. 8pm. Tickets from £31.75. Luther: A Luther Vandross Tribute, 13th November – POSTPONED until 4th November 2021 Fronted by international Luther Vandross


tribute Harry Cambridge and his 10-piece band, this is the world’s premier show in celebration of “The Velvet Voice”. Experience all his hits including “Endless Love”, “Your Secret Love”, “Shine” and many more. 7.30pm. Tickets £26.25. More Ghost Stories For Christmas, 2nd December Join Alfred St John Merrimoon as he

Lights, camera, action! Bring your budding actors along for free drama sessions, courtesy of Action Transport Theatre. Two sessions take place every Wednesday night: Drama Droplets, for ages seven to 11, and Drama Drop-In for ages 12 to 17. Both give children the opportunity to have a go, learn new skills, connect with their artistic sides and build their confidence while working with theatre professionals. There are no auditions and you don’t need to have done any drama before to take part. The sessions are all about exploring drama techniques and having fun in a relaxed and supportive environment. The classes take place at the Ellesmere Port Labour Club from 5pm to 6.30pm (Droplets) and 7pm to 8.30pm (Drop-In).

Get set for the Santa Experience!

Enjoy a magical trip to Church Farm in Thurstaston for the Santa Experience, a 40-minute drive around the farm, with colourful characters, real reindeer, magical lighting, special effects, farm animals and a visit to see Santa. It runs every weekend from 28th November to 20th December and costs from £40 for a car with two children. To book visit www.

DID YOU KNOW? Phil Thompson made 477 appearances for Liverpool

regales his audience with more unsettling tales of seasonal spooks, winter wraiths and Christmastime horrors. An amusingly chilling way to see in this special time of year! 7.30pm. Tickets £12.50

Wirral artists go on with the show

1st November, Xmas Cupcake Class, Carla’s Cake Toppers, Birkenhead Learn how to make 3D Christmas character faces using a variety of different techniques. All equipment will be provided and you get to take your creations home to enjoy! £55 per person. 11am2pm. Call 07763 638474.

1st November, Freaky Fungus Halloween Trail, Ness Botanic Gardens, Little Neston Full of scares, surprises and fair few laughs, this spooky trail, suitable for all ages, will take you through some of the peculiar species of fungi that inhabit Ness Gardens. 10am-4pm. Free.

The Wirral Society of Arts has been holding exhibitions in the Williamson Art Gallery since 1950, and although Covid restrictions mean they’re unable to hold a physical exhibition this year, the gallery has decided that the show must go on! The Williamson Art Gallery is hosting an online exhibition to share their members’ outstanding work, showcasing 100 works in a variety of media. Many of the pieces are available to purchase, so browse the gallery online and see if something special catches your eye. Full details of each listing are available in the online catalogue and prices start from as little as £52. Visit www.williamsonartgallery. org to find out more.

Classical music online

Enjoy a virtual Santa Stroll

The Wirral’s Orchestra dell’Arte is exploring a range of possibilities for bringing live music to their audiences. In the meantime, if you’re missing the thrill of watching music performed by talented musicians, head to the orchestra’s YouTube channel where you will find over 40 recordings, from classical to music hall. Visit www. dellarte. for details.

This year’s Santa Stroll, which was due to take place on 13th December in Birkenhead Park, has gone virtual so even more people can sign up, have fun, and raise money for Wirral Hospice! To get involved, simply sign up online and your very own Santa suit, glittery medal and personalised bib number will be sent to you in the post. You can then arrange your own mini event. Entry costs £14.99 for adults and £9.99 for children.

7th November, Young Writers, Action Transport Theatre This group for writers aged 1317, which takes place every Saturday, offers young people the chance to work with professional writers and get involved with exciting projects while building their confidence, developing their skills and learning new techniques in a safe and supportive setting. 11.30am-1.30pm via Zoom.

6th December, Liverpool Santa Dash Virtual Race The virtual version of this race means Santas will still be able to pull on their running shoes and take part in a socially distanced dash with a small group of friends. Enjoy a festive fun run experience wherever you are located and earn your bespoke Santa Dash medal! There’s still a choice of red or blue Santa suits. To find out more and to enter, visit www.

11th December, Beginners’ Tarot Reading Workshop, Healing Time, Birkenhead Get started on your tarot journey with this comprehensive course. Learn about the minor, major, arcana, court cards, different spreads and how to read using a variety of techniques. Learn about the history of tarot and, most importantly, get lots of practice in this interesting and fun workshop. The price includes a small manual, your own tarot deck, a certificate of completion and lunch. 10am-4.30pm. £55.

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Choose Newport this Christmas...

Newport Town Council would like to invite you to come and enjoy our vibrant and diverse High Street. Newport has something for everyone. There is bound to be an exclusive shop where you can buy the gifts you have in mind for your loved ones this Christmas. Whether its electrical goods, art work, something special for your home interior or just stocking fillers, there is something for all tastes. While you are here take a break in one of our many cafes and sample the sumptious food available or why not try one of our pubs for somewhere to catch your breath. On Fridays and Saturdays our towns indoor market is open with supplies of locally sourced fresh meat, cheeses and vegetables and to top it all off, all parking is FREE with in the town!

Look out for our Christmas themed reusable bags which most of our shops will be giving away with your purchases. Thank you to everyone who have supported our community during 2020.


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Aboard the Santa express The magic of Christmas chugs into the Severn Valley Railway, with Santa Trains available on 28th and 29th November, and 5th, 6th, 12th, 13th, 19th, 20th, 23rd and 24th December. Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with your family in a private compartment on a magical journey from Kidderminster to Arley. You’ll receive a drink and a sweet treat as you settle down in your own private compartment. The train will then steam through decorated stations to Arley,

Fireworks at Alderford Lake Don’t miss the annual bonfire and firework event at Alderford Lake, near Whitchurch, on 7th November. The sound-sensitive display is at 7pm, with the full spectacular at 8pm. There will be a funfair, food stall, hot drinks and a bar. Gates open at 5pm and tickets must be purchased in advance.

Zooming to a screen near you Arts Alive Online delivers Victor & Albert’s Virtual Village Hall Variety Show across Shropshire (and the world) on 7th November. The joyous evening of bespoke comedy, including original songs, quizzes and games, will be broadcast into your front room for £5.

where you’ll be entertained by a show starring a range of Christmas characters. You’ll hopefully also catch a glimpse of Santa himself, as he prepares for the biggest night of the year. Back on the train, present-shaped surprises will be waiting for the children, before you head back to Kidderminster. Compartments cost from £110 to £195, depending on dates and numbers of visitors (up to six). Food hampers are also available at an extra cost.

Santa sprinkles some magic Apley Farm Shop near Bridgnorth is full of festive cheer this Christmas, with Santa visiting every weekend from 28th November. Each child will meet Santa for five minutes, and must be accompanied by an adult. A photographer will be taking photos that can be bought on the day. Booking is essential and tickets cost £10, or £6 for under-twos.

CAROL ON REGARDLESS There’ll be no Carols in the Square in Shrewsbury this year, but Shropshire revellers are being asked to unite for Carols on the Doorstep on 16th and 24th December at 6pm.To get involved, visit

Back on screen at Kinokulture

Christmas is all wrapped up

This Is Not A Movie, 4th November A twisted, apocalyptic satire that envisions the end of the world through the bipolar mind of a strung-out pop-culture addict. 7.30pm. £8.60.

Love2Stay in Shrewsbury is pulling out all the stops this Christmas with a range of festive events. Santa’s Grotto runs on weekends from 21st November to 23rd December, when children get a chance to spend some time with the main man and receive a gift and souvenir photo. Tickets cost £9 per child; accompanying adults are free. A festive skating rink will also be open from 21st November to 23rd December, with tickets £8.50 for 45 minutes. From 2nd to 23rd December your family can have Tea With Santa, which includes pizza, drink and a treat for £10 per child and £5 per adult. And the annual Santa & Elves Dash will be virtual this year. For details, visit

Eternal Beauty, 7th November When Jane (Sally Hawkins) is rejected by a lover, her mind spirals into chaos. Can Mike (David Thewlis) rescue her? 7.30pm. £8.60. The Secret Garden, 27th-29th November When Mary Lennox’s parents die suddenly, she is sent back to England to live with her uncle. She meets her sickly cousin Colin and the two children find a wondrous secret garden lost in the grounds. Starring Julie Walters and Colin Firth. 7.30pm. £8.60.

5th November, Victoria Hislop virtual event, Booka Bookshop, Oswestry Best-selling author Victoria Hislop joins At Home With 4 Indies to talk about her new book, One August Night. 7.30pm. £18. Ticket price includes a copy of the book; the first 50 people to register will receive a signed copy.

7th-8th November, Wellness Weekend, Weston Park, nr Shifnal Recharge, relax and take a much-needed break from reality. The weekend includes a forest bathing session, threecourse dinner, à la carte breakfast, tour of the walled kitchen garden and cooking demonstration. £425 per couple, including overnight stay. Call 01952 852100.

8th November, Pastry Masterclass, Brompton Cookery School, Shrewsbury Learn how to make sweet and savoury pastry, focusing on blind baking skills and techniques to achieve that perfect pastry. You’ll also discover how to make great choux and puff pastry. 10am-4pm. £165. www.

Ludlow Castle Ludlow Castle is open and does not require booking for a visit. There is a one-way system in operation and a limit to numbers in the Norman tower and the gift shop. Dog friendly. Open 11am to 3pm. Adults £8, children £3.50.

Attingham Park, near Shrewsbury The parkland, walled garden and deer park are now open for booked visits, along with the Carriage House Café (for takeaway drinks and snacks, limited indoor seating), shop, Field of Play and most toilet facilities. For more information and to book your visit, go to www. uk/attingham-park.

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14th & 15th November, Frost Fair, Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre, Craven Arms With a wide selection of handmade crafts and Christmas gifts from talented Shropshire crafts people, you’re sure to find that special gift for your family and friends. 10am-4pm. Free entry.

14th & 15th November, Antique and Collectors’ Fair, Oswestry Showground An affordable and dog-friendly fair, with free parking and free entry for children. It is also fully licensed, with bar and catering facilities on site. A great day out for all the family. Saturday 8.30am-4pm, Sunday 9am-3pm. £3.50.

26th November, Wreath Making with Festive Afternoon Tea, Hawkstone Hall & Gardens, nr Shrewsbury Make your own Christmas wreath with a professional florist who will teach you the art of building a beautiful wreath, using a variety of seasonal colours and foliage. The day includes all materials, a homemade mince pie and glass of mulled wine or cider. Once your wreath is completed, you’ll be treated to a festive afternoon tea. £74.95. 10am-4pm. Call 01630 685242.

27th November – 23rd December, Steam In Lights, Severn Valley Railway, Bridgnorth Steam into the night and enjoy an illuminated adventure of magical creatures, sparkling lights, snow flurries and thrills from the warmth and comfort of a private compartment from Bridgnorth station. Steam in Lights runs on 27th and 28th November and 1st-5th, 8th-12th, 15th-19th, 22nd and 23rd December. Tickets from £40 for table for two up to £130 for a private carriage for six.

•27th November, Artisan Market, Oswestry This monthly

market is a fantastic opportunity to browse stalls offering quality locally produced crafts, food and drink. Held in Bailey Street and the Bailey Head. 9am3pm. Free admission.

Laughs and memories at Theatre Severn The Mersey Beats, 1st November Fans of The Beatles will be wowed by this leading Liverpool-born tribute to the Fab Four. 7.30pm. Tickets £23. Severn Jesters Comedy Night, 1st November Discover the new stars of stand-up and the best from the fringe at the popular comedy club in Theatre Severn’s Walker Theatre. The line-up includes MC Dan Nightingale, Tudur Owen, Jamie Hutchinson and Rob Deering. 8pm. Tickets £10.

Geoff Norcott, 21st November Whatever the subject, Geoff – who has appeared on The Mash Report, Live At The Apollo, Mock The Week and Question Time – will be honest and blunt in his inimitable way. 8pm. Tickets £15. An Evening With Kevin & Joanne Clifton, 4th-5th November Join the Strictly Come Dancing champion siblings for an intimate show produced for a socially distanced audience. 7.30pm. Tickets £37.

Fresh air for all the family at Dudmaston Hall The park, garden, tearoom and galleries are now open at Dudmaston Hall, near Bridgnorth. Advance booking is in place to keep everyone safe. However, there is no need to book to visit the countryside car parks in Comer Woods, Hampton Loade or the Sawmill. So why not plan a bike ride in Comer

Woods or discover the 3.5km explorer trail – a great way for families to run, walk or cycle together. Entry is free for National Trust members. For details visit,

Discover Santa safari adventure


Climb into a Land Rover for a magical adventure through the illuminated woodland to see Santa in his grotto at Hawkstone Park Follies, Weston-under-Redcastle, from 4th to 23rd December. Booking is essential. Vehicle tickets are for a maximum of five people and cost £111 for day visits and £121 for twilight ones. www.

Sam Brookes performs at Henry Tudor House, Shrewsbury, on 2nd December from 8pm. Inspired by the folk revivalists of the 1960s, a 16-year-old Sam began to perform music while training as a gilder in his father’s workshop. By his mid-20s, he was receiving critical recognition. Now the list of artists Brookes has worked with includes Scott Matthews and Basement Jaxx. Tickets cost £13. www. henrytudor

Conservation Centre open week RAF Museum Cosford’s Michael Beetham Conservation Centre opens its doors to visitors from 9th to 14th November, giving you the chance to get up close to the conservation projects undertaken by the museum. Entry is free but booking is essential. For tickets, visit www.

Magic of Christmas past and present Celebrate the most magical season of them all at Ironbridge Gorge museums in Telford. Blists Hill Victorian Town is recreating a traditional Christmas, with old-fashioned entertainment and music, stunning grottos and a real ice rink. The Winter Wonderland Grotto is returning to Coalbrookdale too, where children can meet Santa in a woodland glade.

Charity card shop opens in Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury’s pop-up charity Christmas card shop will be open as usual this year, bringing much needed funds to some struggling charities. Nearly 40 charities will be selling cards at St Mary’s Church until 5th December. The shop is open 10.15am to 4pm, Monday to Saturday. Last year the shop sold over £58,000 worth of cards, calendars, diaries and wrapping paper.

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Award-winning Markets



Visit Whitchurch Town Centre this Christmas

Wednesday, Friday and Saturday Social distancing and safety precautions all in place. Traders look forward to welcome back customers old and new.

Christmas Artisan Market 18th December – 9am until 3pm A collection of quality local craft and food producers held in Bailey Street and the Bailey Head with a Christmassy feel.

Whitchurch is open Come and shop safely at our wealth of independent retailers within the Town.


For further information call 01691 680222 or visit:

Contact Civic Centre directly on 01948 665761 #ShopWhitchurch

Christmas At Ludlow Farmshop

Christmas Orders

Hampers & Gifts

Christmas at The Clive

Time to order that turkey ready for a fabulous Christmas? Browse our Christmas Food brochure & submit your order in store or online.

We have a gorgeous range of gifts, perfect for the foodie in your life - our 2020 range has many old favourites, as well as some new ones we are sure you will love.

The Clive has so much going on this Christmas - Festive menus & Afternoon Tea, a glorious NYE tasting menu & hangover busting brunches.

Events & Vouchers Looking for an experience gift? Look no further, we have event tickets & vouchers galore for Ludlow Farmshop & The Clive Arms.

Al fresco coffee

Christmas shop

All winter you’ll be able to grab hot drinks, snacks and food at our Food 2 Go hut & enjoy them in our covered and heated outdoor area,

This year we have a dedicated Christmas room in the heart of the shop. Find everything you need for the perfect season. Ludlow Farmshop Bromfield, SY8 2JR 01584 856000

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



SHOWROOM ADDRESS Unit 5 Moreton Business Park, Gledrid, Nr Oswestry, Shropshire, LL14 5DG


If it’s Windows, Doors, Conservatories or a New Living Space you desire, we offer both quality and large choice to suit all budgets.

Why not pop into our Showroom... We believe our stunning indoor showroom is the biggest and best in the area showcasing everything we do, so it’s definitely worth a visit to view the finest array of options under one roof.

01691 7 73993 www.premierwindowsoswestr

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Swing into Christmas Enjoy an early festive gift at The Place theatre in Telford with Christmas With The Rat Pack & Marilyn Monroe on 18th November. The acclaimed David Alacey (Lovejoy) stars as Frank Sinatra, alongside Paul Drakeley (a BBC Musician of the Year finalist) as Dean Martin and former EastEnders star Des Coleman as Sammy Davis Jnr in the original Rat Pack show, now celebrating its 22nd year. Together they amaze audiences with their recreation of a magical Christmas at The Sands, performing all the hits including “My Way”, “Fly Me To The Moon” and seasonal classics such as “Winter Wonderland” and “White Christmas”. Charley Toulan performs many of the songs associated with Marilyn Monroe, including “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend”. Tickets cost £19.

Winter tipples

Classic tributes on the Steps Strictly Abba, 13th & 14th November One of the most authentic tributes to Abba, this act surpasses all others with the motto “The Winner Takes It All”. 8pm. Tickets £13. Surf’s Up, 27th & 28th November The spectacular Beach Boys tribute band returns with a show that plays all the hits. Whether you love the surfing hits, the sexy classics or the beautiful love songs, there’ll be lots here for you. 8pm. Tickets £16. The Stones, 11th-13th December An accurate and faithful tribute to the sound and look of The Rolling Stones, performing hits such as “Satisfaction”, “Honky Tonk Woman” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”. Show times vary. Tickets £18.

Musical lunch breaks

Join the experts at Ludlow Kitchen as they explore delicious winter tipples on 19th November. Get ideas for drinks to serve at winter gatherings, or just to put together when you need for tasty warmth. The event starts at 7pm and costs £20. www.

St Chad’s Church, Shrewsbury, resumes its free Friday lunchhour concert series from 6th November to 18th December. Performers include students from Chetham’s School of Music and organist Richard Walker. Seats must be reserved; email

CHRISTMAS PARTIES MADE SPECIAL Enjoy a memorable Christmas with a themed party at Lion Quays Resort, near Oswestry. The luxury hotel and spa has a Bond-themed Christmas Party Casino Night on 4th December; a 70s, 80s and 90s Disco on 11th December and Christmas Party Murder Mystery on 19th December. For prices and tickets, visit

Visual delights

Baby rhino makes history at safari park The team at West Midland Safari Park, near Bewdley, are thrilled that visitors will soon be able to meet their Indian rhinoceros calf, the first to be born on site in the park’s 47-year history. The park is now fully open and the Indian rhino can be seen as part of the four-mile safari. For tickets, visit

5th December, Mistletoe Murders, Haughton Hall Hotel, Shifnal It’s 1979 and the sleepy town of Mistletoe is about to wake up, as Chillingham College holds a Christmas reunion for the class of ’69. Is there a feeling of fun and excitement in the air, or will old grudges and rivalries spark off an explosive atmosphere? Could well-kept dark secrets be revealed with dire consequences, or are hatchets about to be finally buried? Come dressed in your finest ’60s or ’70s gear and all will be revealed. £37.30 or book an overnight package for £149.

Wonder wander Visitors to Whittington Castle are invited to a Mince Pie Tour noon on 27th and 30th December. Join a guide for a walking tour, then warm up with a hot drink and mince pie in the tearoom. £6.50. www.

Re-View Textile’s Identity & Place exhibition is at the Willow Gallery, Oswestry until 16th November. Re-View Textile is a network that draws its members from the Liverpool City region. The artists make 2D and 3D work in many sizes using felt, dye, paint, stitch, print, weave, and assemblage. Entry is free. www. willowgallery

5th-22nd December, Christmas at Hoo Farm, Telford Visit Father Christmas and his reindeer on weekends and selected days during December. Meet the elves in the Reindeer Barn to create a snowglobe or bauble before writing a Christmas letter. Each group gets five minutes with Father Christmas before heading through the Winter Walkway back to the farm.

1st-20th December, Christmas at Derwen College, Gobowen The Derwen College Garden Centre & Gift Shop will be open seven days a week selling seasonal and Christmas plants, unique gifts, cards and festive produce including handmade Made@Derwen chutneys, jams and mincemeat.

18th December, Christmas Artisan Market, Oswestry A collection of top-quality local craft and food producers held in Bailey Street and the Bailey Head. 9am-3pm.

19th & 20th December, Chronicle Christmas Market, Shrewsbury Festive cheer from the fields of Shropshire comes to Shrewsbury Square. Look out for delicious mince pies and steaming mulled wine, or be tempted by the best locally produced food. You can also catch up on your Christmas shopping, with handmade crafts and gifts from local makers and traders. 9am-6pm.

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Shop smarter

THIS SEASON We’ve appreciated our local shops and businesses more than ever before in 2020 – so let’s keep supporting them as we head into the Christmas shopping season


ur local shops and producers have really stepped up to the plate this year, delivering goods, offering flexible opening hours, changing approaches – whatever it has taken to get through, they have been there for us. Now it’s our turn. Small firms and local companies have had a pretty hard time lately and even though this Christmas is going to be a bit different for most of us, chances are we’re still going to be spending millions of pounds across the festive season. Here at Shire, we’re asking you to spend a little more wisely this year – and give something back to the businesses on our doorsteps that need our support through these tricky times.

all under one roof

If you like to get all your Christmas shopping done in one hit, you will probably be looking for a shopping centre or high street that really delivers the goods. Here are some of the best in the local area. THE GROSVENOR SHOPPING CENTRE in Chester is a great place to start, with more than 60 stores and plans for some festive fun too. The shopping centre will be bringing back its popular Thursday late-night shopping sessions from 21st November, an ideal opportunity to get your Christmas outfits as well as that perfect present! St Michael’s Square will also host weekly events, including a gingerbread colouring area, gingerbread decorating and a gingerbread hunt for the chance to win one of many prizes on offer. TWEEDMILL SHOPPING OUTLET near St Asaph, Denbighshire, has more than 300 top-quality brand names, a café, coffee shop and farm shop all under one roof – making it a one-stop destination for much more than shopping. With 50,000 square feet of great choice and value over two floors, the centre is also conveniently placed at the gateway to north Wales. There is a huge choice and fantastic prices, with up to 50 per cent off recommended retail prices, your favourite brands and the very best of local Welsh produce all in one place. Tweedmill has also announced the launch of a new online shop, with plenty of lines to Grosvesnor Shopping Centre in Chester is open for late-night shopping on Thursdays

Newport Market (above) and Arley Hall (top right) offer local treats

DID YOU KNOW? The avera ge British adult spe nds around £ 512 on gifts ove r the Christma s period

choose from, including garden ornaments, solar lighting, bird care, gifts and accessories. Go to to find out more. NEWPORT INDOOR MARKET, located in the centre of the Shropshire town, is packed with fresh produce, delis, sweet treats and artisan stalls, so you can find everything you need to feed the family, as well as a range of crafty gifts and local goodies. It has entrances located on Stafford Street or Market Mews off St Mary’s Street; there are free car parks very close to the market and a bus service that drops off just around the corner. Visit If you’re looking for something local that has celebrates the wonder of Wales, check out the range of gifts available at SHOP AROUND THE CORNER in Llangollen. The lower-altitude sibling of Shop In The Clouds (which can be found at the summit of the Horseshoe Pass), it sells a range of quirky Christmas gifts. Offering everything from Welsh dragon toys to rugby-playing gnomes and traditional handmade love spoons, this is a great place to go for the difficult-to-buy-for brigade. It also stocks the popular Charlie Bear range. Visit for more. We may not be allowed to mingle in person much at the moment, but the popular ARLEY HALL CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR is still going ahead – online. Running from 9am on 17th November midnight on 19th November, the event will be a mixture of shopping opportunities, prize raffles, special offers and general festive fun. The £10 donation for entry includes access to the site and an automatic raffle ticket for the chance to win one of 70 prizes. There will be more than 60 Christmas stalls and you’ll benefit from extra price reductions during the online event. All donations and 10 per cent of purchases go to charity too. Sign up now at

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Have a

CRAFTY CHRISTMAS You can boost the region’s economy, support independent local creators and buy a unique festive gift at the same time…


hat could be better than receiving a gift that has been lovingly created by a local craftsperson and sold by an independent outlet nearby? If you think there are those on your list who would appreciate this level of effort, why not visit TREFRIW WOOLLEN MILLS near Betws-y-Coed in Conwy? It is the ideal place to find Christmas gifts, offering everything from knee rugs and Welsh tapestry throws and cushion covers woven on site to a wide selection of pure wool knitted hats and mittens. It also sells sheepskin and wool slippers, interesting socks, craft kits, hotwater bottles and covers, china, decorated gin glasses, jewellery, glass friendship balls, amusing animal doorstops, recycled textile bobbin timers, folding fashion walking sticks, soaps and candles… among many other interesting items. Situated just five miles from Betws-y-Coed, the venue is easy to reach and many items are also available to buy online at Find a unique gift at Trefriw Woollen Mills in north Wales

Another great place to be inspired by all things creative is RUTHIN CRAFT CENTRE in Denbighshire, which promotes the creations of local artists. The centre offers contemporary work for sale from some of the country’s leading makers. Browse and

“contemporary work for sale from leading makers” purchase from a broad selection of Find beautiful jewellery, ceramics, glass, metalwork, textiles, books and stationery. Items are handmade items at Ruthin Craft Centre available at a range of prices, starting with mugs from £8 and earrings from £10, and commissions can also be taken. The centre is open daily from 10am to 5.30pm and there is a huge range of crafted items on display in the Retail Gallery. Visit Another range of arty offerings are available at THE ARTISTS’ GALLERY AT LUDLOW FARM SHOP, a co-operatively run gallery space in Bromfield, Shropshire. The venue has opened its

doors to a wide range of local artists and creative practitioners for a three-week showcase that supports those who have found themselves without a shop window for their work owing to Covid and the cancellation of so many fairs and events. Running until 22nd November, the event is focused around supporting local makers, and entry fees will be used in promotion and building the infrastructure to make the event look and feel like a large gallery space. By providing a longer-running event, the gallery is able to spread visitor numbers out, enabling the artists’ amazing work to be seen by a larger number of people over a longer period, making it a safer setting for buyers and sellers alike. Find out more at www. Worth a visit to admire the Makers show architecture and stunning their creations at interior as much as to grab The Artists’ Gallery (top); Mostyn’s some special Christmas gifts, contemporary spaces another place well worth a visit is Llandudno’s MOSTYN gallery. Behind the impressive Edwardian terracotta facade topped with a landmark gold spire, the original turn-of-thecentury galleries are merged with stunning modern spaces in an award-winning architectural design. The gallery’s wonderful shop presents a wide range of individually handmade items from local, national and international contemporary applied artists and makers, both established and emerging. From beautiful jewellery, ceramics, textiles and glassware to functional household items and a great stock of art-related books and magazines, the Mostyn shop is the ideal place to find that special gift or a treat for yourself. Some items are also available online – take a look at for more information.

DON’T FORGET YOUR PETS! As a nation, we’re spending more and more each year on gifts for our pets – and why not? So don’t forget to add their names to the list and check out this store that has a treat for every one of them PETCETERA has been supplying the nation’s pet lovers with new and innovative products for more than 30 years. Based near Whitchurch in Shropshire, the shop and showroom are open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday, while the 150-page online catalogue offers a wide variety of products for training to playtime, for home and away, grooming and showing and so much more. The business is run by two sisters who are passionate about animals and can help with any enquiries – visit to find out more.


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TREATS TO EAT There’s always a focus on food at Christmas. Whether you’re creating your own festive feast or want to give a gift of something tasty to friends and family, here are some local producers that have some great gourmet ideas this season


e might not be able to go out and party, but we can still raise a glass to the season from the safety of our own homes. So why not do it in style with something special from LUDLOW GIN? The company distils gin as it has been crafted for hundreds of years, using only the finest natural botanicals and no artificial colours or flavours. The site uses a traditional, copper-pot distillation – all that is added is water to bring the gin to bottling strength. Over many months and even more Ludlow Gin’s luxury handcrafted experiments, Ludlow Gin’s Christmas crackers experts have developed a range of cost £35.99 for four unique but traditionally juniperled recipes at a decent 42 per cent strength, including the classic house gin Ludlow Dry, the Navy Strength at 57 per cent and a range of delicately flavoured botanicals. If you’re finding it hard to make a decision, the gift set or cracker pack may prove the perfect present. For more information, visit For more tasty treats, check out the delicious delights on offer at PORTER’S DELICATESSEN in Llangollen. A family-run delicatessen in the heart of the pretty town, Porter’s sources the

“Championing scores of locally produced foods, wines and beers” Porter’s produces

a range of hampers very best cheeses, charcuterie, gourmet to suit all tastes foods and hard-to-find ingredients for local shoppers and visitors from all over the country. Championing scores of locally produced foods, wines and beers, it has an ever-changing range and is always on the lookout for new and delicious gourmet foods. Porter’s also offers a bespoke gift hamper service, while its famous multi-tiered cheesecakes are the perfect way to end a festive feast. Visit

Farm shops have served us well this year, with many stepping up their game during the lockdown. So why not indulge yourself at Christmas with all the goodies they have to offer, such as the

Celebrate the season with some ales from Wrexham’s Magic Dragon Brewing

DID YOU KNOW? One in 10 Brits begin th eir Christma s shoppin g as early as July

fantastic array over at LUDLOW FARMSHOP? Established in 2007 with the aim of offering the best fresh, local, seasonal and handmade food and drink, the shop is located on the Earl of Plymouth’s Oakly Park Estate on the outskirts of Ludlow, surrounded by fields that provide grass-fed beef and lamb, rare breed Gloucester Old Spot pork, wild venison and game, milk, honey, fruit and vegetables with minimal food miles and complete control on quality. Popular produce includes local honey, sirloin steaks, ribs of beef on the bone and homemade pies. Visit

We have many fabulous breweries on our patch, including MAGIC DRAGON BREWING at Plassey Leisure Park, Wrexham. The team have created several new brews, including Lockdown, a craft lager based on the old cream ale, and Lost Summer, an IPA. More bottled beers are in production, including a Welsh stout. There is also a Christmas gift pack available, containing three bottles of Sleigh Ride, a light hoppy beer with citrus and mandarin notes. Order at

PAMPERING PRESENTS... There’s always someone who deserves a bit of “me time” at Christmas, and this organic and luxurious local product could be the perfect treat for them RHUG ESTATE has launched a new Wild Beauty skincare collection that uses the highest-quality natural, organic, hand-picked and foraged ingredients from around the estate in Denbighshire, north Wales. Wild Beauty is a highly certified and luxurious face and body collection, handmade in the UK with integrity and care for the environment, using recyclable materials. It includes Purifying Cleansing Lotion with Dandelion; Nourishing Eye Cream with Elderflower; Protecting Day Cream with Blue Tansy Oil and Active Treatment Serum with Hyaluronic Acid, to name just a few. The range is available at

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Gifts to

GET YOU GOING If you have someone who is notoriously difficult to buy for, why not consider giving them a voucher that allows them to do something a little different from the norm?

For music fans Here’s the perfect idea for the frustrated musician in your life – vouchers from NORTH WALES MUSIC TUITION, based in Colwyn Bay. This teaching organisation offers a professional service from its friendly, qualified tutors, with lessons available across the region. NWMTC has plenty of tutors to choose from – you can even change your tutor at any time should you so wish – and provides training in a huge variety of instruments, all of which are also available to hire if you don’t own one yourself. For more information, including prices, visit

Instruments can be hired for lessons with North Wales Music Tuition

For adrenaline junkies The NATIONAL WHITE WATER CENTRE, which is located near Bala in Gwynedd, offers gift vouchers so you can give the action hero in your life the chance to enjoy fantastic white water adventures on natural rapids on the River Tryweryn, within the amazing setting of Snowdonia National Park. Surrounded by beautiful hills, the dam-controlled river has high flows that make it ideal for exhilarating white water activities throughout the year, and is open for adventures any day the Llyn Celyn reservoir is releasing, offering on average 200 days a year of reliable and impressive white water. With everything from rafting, kayaking and canyoning available at the centre, you can buy vouchers by value or for a complete experience, and they are available for children and adults alike. Vouchers are currently valid for two years from Fun on purchase, and are sent out as e-vouchers the water at only. For more information, visit the National White Water Centre

For animal lovers Give someone a great day out at WEST MIDLAND SAFARI PARK in Bewdley, Worcestershire, with vouchers available online. The park has different areas for visitors to explore and is home to animals including southern white rhinos, giraffes, zebras, Ankole cattle, waterbucks, Congo buffalo, red lechwes and the eland, largest of the antelope species. Big cats include cheetahs and lions, and the African elephants are always popular as they explore Elephant Valley. Check out the vouchers available as well as winter opening times at

THE FINISHING TOUCH... If you’ve got most of your shopping under control, there’s one more thing you’ll need to buy to top off your festivities – a tree! Why not get one that’s been grown locally and looks promises to look great into the new year? BACKFORD CHRISTMAS TREE FARM is a family-run business where you can be sure of getting a high-quality Christmas tree direct from the grower. The company sells a huge range of festive trees, all freshly cut at its farm near Chester. Trees up to 25ft in height are available, in varieties including Nordmann fir, noble fir, Fraser fir, lodge pole pine and, of course, traditional Norway spruce. Friendly staff are on hand at the farm to help you choose the right tree for your home from the hundreds on offer. For opening times, visit www.facebook. com/thebackfordchristmastreefarm or

Vouchers will allow your friends to meet the residents at West Midland Safari Park

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Make a

house a home

It’s always nice to receive a gift that helps to make your home a place you’ll love. Here are a few suggestions of gifts you can buy for the interior design buffs, garden lovers and cosy homebirds in your life


nuggle in style with some serious woolly wonders thanks to the amazing products from MULBERRY ALPACAS. The shop can be found at the Shropshire home of a small prize-winning herd of alpacas, which produce high-quality fibre in a variety colours that is then processed into yarn. You can buy socks, duvets, yarn and knitwear, as well as luxury alpaca duvets, pillows and mattress toppers. The shop also stocks a selection of bags Buy luxury and cushions, and – for the alpaca yarn from height of luxury and decadence Mulberry Alapacs – a selection of alpaca tea cosies, cafetière covers and egg cosies. If you’re looking for something unique, what about an alpaca iPhone cover? Browse the collection at

decorations and lights for sale, as well as composts, bedding plants, perennials, sheds, garages, greenhouse, summerhouses, fencing and paving. If you want your outdoor area looking its best for Christmas or think you know someone who would appreciate a garden gift, visit gardencentre.llay.wrexham.

For all manner of gift ideas for the home and garden, visit THE WOODWORKS GARDEN CENTRE in Mold. Filled to the brim with presents suitable for the whole family, you’ll be sure to find gifts for even the trickiest of recipients. The gift shop stocks locally made products, from “Filled to the brim hand-printed cashmere scarves and resin candle holders to indoor plants and Christmas wreaths. with presents The café has added a flavour of Christmas to the menu this winter, and tasty treats can be suitable for the enjoyed by an open fire in the cosy garden café. whole family” Follow The Woodworks Garden Centre on social media or visit Another great place to visit to buy something for your green-fingered friends is CARLTON GARDEN CENTRE in Llay near Wrexham. The traditional family-run garden centre is dedicated to selling items for all your garden needs, including seasonal specialities, and has everything from spring bulbs and trees to fireworks, Christmas Woodworks Garden Centre sells everything you need for Christmas, including the all-important tree!

Look ahead

to sunnier times with If you’re looking for an a gift from Carlton original gift and are thinking Garden Centre in Llay about investing in an antique, why not talk to the experts at ACORN ANTIQUES & COLLECTABLES in Wrexham? The business on the outskirts of town has been selling goods on behalf of traders since 2009. It has access to an unrivalled choice of gifts, antiques and collectables, creating a unique shopping experience with two floors to discover, selling everything from antique furniture, jewellery, silver, ceramics and porcelain to militaria, clocks and watches, glassware, collectable books A unique antique gift is and reference books, dolls and sure to be treasured teddy bears. Visit the venue for by the recipient a wander through the vast array of bygone treasures and you may find that bargain you’ve been searching for. For more see

Investing in good-quality scented candles is always worthwhile – and one local firm has a truly gorgeous range to choose from. Luxury candle supplier DEXTER & MASON is the brainchild of Alison Shea, who launched the business (named after her two dogs) when she couldn’t find a candle that suited her – one that combined sophisticated scents with natural ingredients, but not with the rustic look. This has developed into a gorgeous collection of scented candles that now includes complementary reed diffusers. The Christmas collection features Christmas Spice, Mulled Wine, Frankincense & Myrrh and Spiced Orange. Check out the full range on offer at www.

U DID YO ? KNOW r cent e p e lv Twe rs hoppe of UK s ir e leave th as Christm g in p shop t minute s la e to th

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TO OUR SPACIOUS SHOP IN A QUIET VILLAGE …. Winter woollies and Christmas gifts - knee rugs and Welsh tapestry throws woven on site, pure wool knitted hats, mitts and scarves, sheepskin and wool slippers, interesting socks, craft kits, hot water bottle covers, gin glasses, jewellery, glass friendship balls, amusing animal doorstops, recycled textile bobbin timers, folding fashion walking sticks, soaps and candles. Please see opening times on our website. Trefriw Woollen Mills, Main Road, Trefriw, Conwy Valley LL27 0NQ T: 01492 640462. W: Five miles north of Betws-y-Coed on the B5106

Margaret’s Farm pride ourselves


Christmas Opening Times: Wednesday 23rd December 8.00am - 3.30pm Thursday 24th December 8.00am - 2.30pm

on making our products with sustainable, locally sourced produce. Made with love and attention respecting the honest ingredients used whilst ensuring a low carbon footprint. @margaretsfarmuk

Moyden’s Handmade Cheeses Box of Goodness supply a varied are produced using traditional cheesemaking techniques tried and tested by generations of farmhouse & specialist cheese makers.

selection of fresh fruit and vegetables and seasonal English produce including eggs, bread, pasta and other culinary ‘must haves’.

Wickstead Butchers are local master butchers, supplying quality cuts of meat, specially selected from local family farms, that rear their animals using traditional methods. 01952 255987

Turner and Pooch Pet Supplies

supply an extensive range of quality pet food & bird seeds, together with a range of dog and cat beds made out of tough, quality fabric. Pet toys, treats and accessories are always in Fudgeways sell over 25 tantalising stock too. @newportindoormarketshropshire flavours of fudge and truffles to capture your imagination and taste buds. Italian Woman add something You can even try before you buy! new to their collection of one size clothes every week. New Christmas stock now in – rich warm colours I Can Eat sell gluten free, dairy free & vegan friendly foods including together with designer perfumes. cakes, pasta, biscuits, sweets, coffee, The perfect gift! spices, breads, nut roast and sauces. and many other stalls... Also loose grains, rice, nuts and pulses. Bring your own container or Newport Indoor we provide paper bags. 07309 090167 Market Shropshire

Telephone: 01952 820283 Email: Stafford Street, Newport, Shropshire, TF10 7LU

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Open Fridays & Saturdays 8.00am to 3.30pm

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Castles and coastlines As seaside spots on the north Wales coast go, it’s hard to beat the town of Conwy for its fabulous architecture, historic features and stunning shores giving rise to the common nickname for people born in Conwy. As well as its impressive fortification, Conwy was once the location of Aberconwy Abbey, DID YOU which was founded KNOW? by Llywelyn the Conwy Castle’s architect was James Great at the end of of St George, who also the 12th century designed Harlech and later taken over and Caernarfon by Edward and his troops. Visitors can still see some parts Conwy Castle, with the railway bridge (left) and suspension bridge of the original abbey church in the east and west walls. onwy is a historic walled market There are also two noteworthy bridges town on the north coast of Wales, to see in the town: the Conwy Suspension facing Deganwy across the River Conwy. Bridge next to the castle, designed by It’s popular with tourists, many of whom own second homes here, but also boasts a Thomas Telford in 1826 and now open to pedestrians only; and the neighbouring permanent population of just over 4,000. It’s Conwy Railway Bridge, built by Robert name derives from the old Welsh words cyn, Stephenson and completed in 1849. meaning chief, and gwy which translates as water, and the river the town perches on was originally called the Cynwy. Beautiful buildings A huge attraction in Conwy is its ancient Another stunning example of architecture castle and the walls that encircle its historic worth checking out is the National Trust’s centre. The castle and town walls were built Aberconwy House, the town’s only surviving between 1283 and 1289, as part of Edward 14th-century merchant’s house and one I’s conquest of Wales. Much of the structure of the first buildings built inside the walls. is still standing today, as well as a church, Nearby is Plas Mawr, an Elizabethan house which has been identified as the oldest built in 1576 that has been extensively building in Conwy and has stood in the walls refurbished to restore its 16th-century since the 14th century. appearance and is now in the care of Cadw The walls themselves are elaborate and and open to the public. often decorative structures, with towers But it isn’t just impressive stately homes and window that once formed sections of that have brought Conwy to the attention palace rooms. They are home to colonies of of architecture buffs – the town also claims jackdaws that perch and roost in the walls, to be home to the smallest house in Great

Britain. The diminutive dwelling has a floor measuring just 3.05 by 1.8 metres and can be found on the quay. Built in the 16th century, it remained in use until 1900, when the owner was forced to move out because he couldn’t stand up in the rooms. You can take a (short!) tour for a small charge. As well as boasting a proud and pretty past, Conwy is also home to several small independent shops, cafés, pubs and eateries, and offers visitors a perfect mix of old and new, as well of course as access to its stunning sands at Morfa Beach.


Plas Mawr, built in 1576 THINGS TO SEE AND DO Conwy Castle Rose Hill Street, Conwy LL32 8AY Plas Mawr High Street, Conwy LL32 8DE 01492 580167 Bodlondeb Park Bangor Road, Conwy LL32 8NU

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Ruthin Craft Centre for unique, hand-crafted gifts Please view our website for current visitor information Enquiries: call 01824 704774 or email: Wednesday – Saturday: 11am – 4pm

Premium Nordman Christmas Trees

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On the

move... DID YOU KNOW? The average price of properties coming to market was at an all-time high of £323,530 in October

The Covid crisis has led many of us to re-evaluate our living situations. Here we take a look at the pros and cons of moving home in the middle of a pandemic


he arrival of the coronavirus and the accompanying nationwide lockdown earlier this year slammed most of the property market to a halt in the UK. There were practical reasons for this cessation – without the option of going to view potential properties, potential buyers couldn’t decide on a house to purchase and sellers couldn’t find anyone to sell to. Estate agents shut their doors and only a handful of new homes were added to the market. Work on building new homes also stopped for a while, although construction was one of the first

industries to restart, and decorators, plasterers and plumbers were forced to reconsider how they could help with home improvements. As the lockdown restrictions eased these things all kicked back in again, but there was only one question on lips across the country: what is going to happen to property prices?

“Estate agents have seen a surge in transactions” It is something of a national obsession to talk about property prices. And it’s easy to see why – our home is usually the most valuable thing any of us will ever own and its value is something that affects our lives constantly. The entire country’s economy can be affected by the ups and downs of the housing market because it is closely linked to consumer spending. When house prices go up, homeowners become better off and feel more

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MEET THE AGENT If you want to know whether the stamp duty holiday has made much difference to the UK’s property market, just ask an estate agent


confident. Some people will also borrow more against the value of their home, either to spend on goods and services, renovate their house, supplement their pension or pay off other debt. When house prices go down, we’re more likely to cut down on spending and hold off from making personal investments.

What next? Early reports suggested that the pandemic would cause house

prices to plummet. At this point, that does not seem to be transpiring after all. The government stepped in early to help the sector stay buoyant with a stamp duty holiday designed to keep people moving – and it seems to have worked. In fact, estate agents have seen a surge in transactions, which led to an increase in house prices. So here we take a look at why now might be the right time to make that move…

n the first half-hour after chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a temporary holiday on stamp duty on 8th July, traffic to the online property portal Rightmove – the first port of call for most buyers and sellers – jumped 22 per cent. In fact, the total number of visits to the website on that one day hit 8.5 million – the highest ever since the site was launched 20 years ago. “This move will help to keep the nation and the wider economy moving because keeping the current momentum going will help prevent destabilising falls in property prices as unemployment grows, and enable a quicker economic recovery,” says Rightmove property expert Miles Shipside. “Lockdown prevented 175,000 would-be sellers from coming to market so we hope this stamp duty holiday will provide the spur for those missing movers to come to market. They will find there’s currently record demand for their properties from prospective buyers, with Rightmove enquiries to agents now double what they were before lockdown. “Home movers will be grateful that the changes come into effect straight away so they don’t have to delay their plans, and what we could see now is people rushing to get a price agreed before some sellers put their prices up in the hope people will be able to pay more because of the tax savings.”

The facts about stamp duty savings WHAT IS STAMP DUTY? Stamp duty land tax is a sum paid by the buyer of a property to the government on completion of a purchase. It can’t be incorporated into the mortgage (unless you over-borrow and use your deposit, but this isn’t necessarily a good idea) and you can’t pay it on a credit card, so it is often something that holds buyers back. HOW MUCH IS IT? The amount is a percentage of the purchase price, and there are standard discounts in place in England – there is no tax to pay on properties costing less than £125,000, for example, or up to £300,000 for first-time buyers. After that, it grows depending on the value of the property. In Wales, the tax is called land transaction tax and is due on properties costing more than £180,000. WHAT IS THE STAMP DUTY HOLIDAY? To boost the housing market in England, the chancellor declared a stamp duty holiday – raising the tax-free purchase threshold to £500,000. The Welsh government has also temporarily scrapped the tax due on properties up to a price of £250,000, but won’t apply the discount to second homes. HOW LONG DOES IT LAST? Both the English and Welsh stamp duty holidays are available until the end of March 2021, although there is talk of extending them.

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How to


Once you’ve decided to invest in a home of your own, make sure you’re doing it right


the home of your dreams

DID YOU KNOW? Nationally, it takes an average of 50 days to secure a buyer – quicker than ever before

uying a house is often the single biggest investment any of us make, so you don’t want to get it wrong. Here are a few key ways to make sure you’re in the best position before you start.

Know your budget Do your maths and do it right. Don’t just guess at how much

you’ll be able to save or hope a mortgage offer might be more generous than is realistic. There’s no point falling in love with a house only to realise it’s beyond your budget. There are mortgage calculators online but it’s often worth paying a broker to find you the best deal. And don’t forget to factor in hidden costs too, such as solicitors, removals, surveys and so on.

Do your homework Chances are you already know where you want to live, but even

the towns and villages you know and love will have some areas that are more appealing than others. Obviously this affects prices, but stick with your budget and go for the best area or even street you can afford; you can improve a run-down property on a great street, but can never change a great home’s less-than-perfect location. If

you’re moving into a new town, take your time – renting first may be a good idea. Check local schools if you have children and practise the commute – at rush hour – if you’ll have a new drive to work.

Be ready Houses in popular areas get snapped up fast. If you’re selling your

current home, don’t be afraid to do so even before you’ve found one to buy – you’ll be in a much better position if everyone knows you’re ready to go. If that means renting for a few months or even a year, it’s unlikely to cost more than you’ll save on a good purchase.

Get hunting Register with local agents and sign up for online alerts so you’re

the first to know about any new properties coming on the market in your desired area. Be patient, don’t rush into buying something that isn’t really what you want and when you do find the home of your dreams make sure to view it multiple times at various times of day – and with someone else whose opinion you trust.

WATCH OUT! There are many things you need to look out for when buying a property – but these are some of the most common pitfalls Lenders will look less favourably on properties that are: • Unusual constructions • Above shops or business where other people may have shared access • In high-rise flats • With short leaseholds • On brownfield sites • Too close to the sea • Listed buildings When viewing, keep an eye out for things that will be costly or impossible to remedy such as: • Damp • Roof problems • Dodgy electrics • Subsidence • Noisy neighbours • Problem parking

46 SHIRE MAGAZINE | November/December 2020

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How to sell your home Selling your home is just as important as buying one – you need to get it right to secure your next move and hopefully obtain the freedom to take the next step on your property journey


hen deciding to sell there is slightly less to consider than when planning to buy, but still several important points to take on board. Whether you plan to buy again – either a bigger or smaller property, or in a completely different area – or are cashing in your property to set sail on a new adventure, it’s important you get the right price for your home. Here are a few ways to make sure you get as much as you can for your bricks and mortar.

1 2 3 4

Presentation is everything

It’s said that most buyers fall in love with a property within seconds of stepping through the front door – so make sure they can see your home at its best from the moment they arrive. Clear away any clutter so every room feels spacious, and keep decor and furnishings as neutral as possible so they can easily picture their own things inside. Don’t let strong smells linger on the day you have viewings booked (although rumour has it freshly baked bread is a winning aroma) and don’t let excitable dogs greet potential buyers at the door. A property’s kerb appeal is vital, too, so make sure your front garden is tidy and even think about moving your car so people can park easily and feel like they’re at home already.

Price it right

MEET THE BUYER... We talk to one prospective purchaser who has been spurred into action by the new stamp duty holiday


enny Simpson has been living at home with her parents in Hoylake on the Wirral for the past two years since finishing her degree. At the age of 24, she is desperate to find her own place to call home. “I shouldn’t complain really because I’m lucky that my mum and dad didn’t mind me coming back to stay with them and that their house is big enough for all of us – but I just really want my own place,” she says. “I suppose I got a taste of independence at university, and I also know that getting on the property ladder as soon as possible is a good idea. “My gran died a few years ago and left me some money, so I have a decent deposit. And because I joined a good graduate recruitment scheme and have been employed ever since graduating, I’ve got a pretty good mortgage offer too. The only thing that has been holding me back was stamp duty – it’s a big cost on top of everything else and because I’m just starting out and expect to move again relatively soon, paying it now and then again in a few years feels like wasted money. “So with the stamp duty holiday, I’m really keen to find somewhere now while I can avoid that extra cost. I’ve looked at loads already and put a few offers in, without success – but the market is really picking up with loads of properties coming on all the time so hopefully it won’t be long. I don’t have anywhere to sell and I don’t even need to give any notice to a landlord, so I think I’m in a pretty strong position.”

Be realistic about the asking price you set for your home. Unless you are prepared to wait years for a buyer, you need to market your property at a sensible price that will attract buyers. Unless it is a very unusual property, others homes in the area should make its value clear. But remember, while you can always reduce the price, you can never increase it – so if you’re unsure, try it at a higher price and see what the response is.

Choose your agent

It is possible to market and sell a house without an estate agent these days, but in general they are worth the investment. Their commissions are pretty low at the moment and it is a competitive market so feel free to negotiate rates, but a good agent will get you a better price for your home and also help to smooth the process of the transaction once a sale is agreed. Ask around to find out who locals trust, but also just take a drive and look out for who has the most “Sold” signs in the neighbourhood.

Be prepared to move

If you get a brilliant offer the minute you put your house on the market, it’s only fair to act on it. So be prepared to take the offer and set a date, even if it means moving into temporary accommodation or renting for a while. You don’t want to risk missing out on the sale by waiting for further offers – the first good offer is often the best you’ll get because buyers react to how long a house has been on the market for too.

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It’s all location, location, location

MEET THE SELLER... We speak to one woman from Shropshire who is swapping town centre convenience for life at the coast

Many of us stay where we know when buying a home, but is now the time to look further afield?


he place you want to call home is an individual choice, but many of us are reconsidering our housing habits. Those who have been forced to reside within commuting distance of jobs are now enjoying the flexibility of working from home. If this continues, buyers will have a much broader area to search for properties. Obviously, no one in their right mind would consider leaving the Shire patch. But within our glorious corner of the UK, we have everything to offer a house hunter – from cities and suburbs to coasts and countryside. Here are 10 you might want to consider. Let us know your thoughts! Aberdyfi, Gwynedd Why not be on holiday every day? In this north Wales village you’ll find beaches, dolphins, pretty properties and a lovely climate – what’s not to like? Bollington, Cheshire This small neighbourhood of Macclesfield is often found on winners’ lists thanks to its strong community and location with easy reach of a number of cities. Knutsford, Cheshire Another Cheshire favourite, with everything from an arthouse cinema and exquisite farm shops to designer shoe stores – and all within spitting distance of the M6. Porthdinllaen, Gwynedd If you’re going to escape to a coastal idyll, you might as well do it to one that is home to the third best beach bar in the world! A tiny cluster of impossibly pretty properties. West Kirby, Wirral Wirral’s winner every time, described in the Times as “seaside for the sensible”. Sailing, seals, train connections and great education make it the perfect family choice. Shrewsbury, Shropshire The heart of the county wears its heritage with pride. Independent shops, historic buildings and stunning countryside on the doorstep make it a winning choice. Ludlow, Shropshire Another good-looking location, Ludlow is small but perfectly formed and has enough going on to give it its own arty and intelligent character. Llanbedrog, Gwynedd If you want to get away from it all and dream of being beside the seaside, this Llyn Peninsula town is renowned for its mile-long beach and watersports. Clun, Shropshire This town is popular with city dwellers heading for the country and boasts an ancient castle, attractive stone bridge and rising property prices too. Beddgelert, Gwynedd A scenic stone-built village often named as one of the prettiest villages in the country, set amid Snowdonia’s dramatic mountain landscape where two rivers meet.


ydia Wilkinson was brought up in Oswestry, moved to Shrewsbury in her 20s and has lived in the centre of the town ever since. But at the age of 47, she’s about to embark on a whole new adventure. “I love the area I live in, but I also adore being by the sea,” she says. “I head to the coast at every opportunity and am a real beach lover, always happiest with salty air in my face. “I brought up my family in Shrewsbury and it has been the perfect place for that – there are great schools, it’s handy for everything and it was easy with the kids as I was a single mum. But the children have left home now and I feel that I need to make a move that is best for me. I work online as a copywriter for an international finance firm, so essentially I can do my job from anywhere with an internet connection. So I have decided to make the move and head for the Llyn Peninsula – basically my favourite place in the world. “Property prices there are quite high, but I’m downsizing so I should be able to get something with a couple of bedrooms and ideally within walking distance of the beach. I’ve just accepted an offer on my four-bedroom semi, so with a bit of luck I’ll be able to move soon. I’m not going to rush things, though, and will probably rent for a while so I can find the perfect place. After all, as far as I’m concerned I’m not going to be moving again, so it’s got to be right!”

Escape to the country More and more people are heading for the countryside post-lockdown. According to the experts at Rightmove, areas with populations of under 11,000 saw the biggest increase in buyer searches in September, as people look to move to less densely populated areas. These are the most popular reasons people are making the move • • • • • • • • • •

Fresh air Undoubtedly a big draw in our polluted world Space Properties generally include more outdoor space Cost Most buyers find they get more for their money Wildlife Who doesn’t want birds and bats as neighbours? Community Rural neighbours create tightly bonded units Scenery Looking out across the countryside is always guaranteed to lift the spirits Safety Crime rates are generally lower and people feel safer in the country Adventure Whether you’re looking for watersports, hiking, horse riding or cycling Pace A lot of movers are seeking a slower pace of life Food Living closer to local producers means better quality and fewer food miles

48 SHIRE MAGAZINE | November/December 2020

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Abbey Kitchens, Shrewsbury Quality kitchens, cabinets and appliances We are a family run business established in 1993. We pride ourselves on supplying the best quality kitchens cabinets and doors in Shrewsbury with over 100 years of collective experience. Experts in design, planning and after sales service, we deliver an exceptional standard of product and service to our clients.

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

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STATELY HOMES WITH HIDDEN HISTORIES A new project is uncovering the secrets of some of our best-loved stately homes and revealing links to everything from royalty and pilgrims to slavery


team led by experts from Bangor University is to chart the development of four parishes on the borders of Flintshire, Wrexham and Denbighshire through the historic homes and estates of its landed gentry. It will be the first time any area of the UK has been examined in such detail, and its aim is to produce a special online “deep” map that shows Dr Shaun Evans of ISWE the stories not just of the people but also of the landscape from 1500 to 1930 as the homes and ways of life changed. The two-year project is being led by Dr Shaun Evans of the Institute for the Study of Welsh “It will be Estates (ISWE), based at Bangor University. the first Alongside him are Dr Julie Mathias from time any Aberystwyth University and Scott Lloyd and area of the Jon Dollery from the Royal Commission on the UK has been Ancient & Historical Monuments of Wales. examined in such detail” Small but significant “This area has an amazing number of these rather fine, relatively small yet longstanding landed estates, the likes of Bodidris, Colomendy, Gelli Gynan, Gwysaney, Nercwys, Rhual and Pentrehobyn,” says Shaun. “There is an immense amount of archive material from these estates, much of it housed in the North East Wales Archives in Hawarden and Ruthin and in the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. The Grosvenor family, who became the Dukes of Westminster, made much of their early wealth through lead mining in Flintshire, while others earned their fortunes elsewhere and brought back influences.” One of the first homes to be investigated is Pentrehobyn Hall, on the outskirts of Mold. 16th-century Pentrehobyn Hall

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It was built in 1550 by the Lloyd family with the proceeds of mining, textiles and farming – as well as the slave trade. Current owner Teddy Clarke can trace his ancestry back to the Lloyd family, who claimed descent from the legendary Edwin ap Gronwy, Lord of Tegeingl (which includes much of modern Flintshire) in the 11th century. The house still has its original great hall and oak screen partition with the marks of the carpenters’ tools on the wood, although extensions and upper storeys were added later.

Inside Pentrehobyn Hall

Family fortunes

“The family probably made their money through lead mining but the main income now is through letting the land and cottages, and as a wedding venue,” Teddy says. “One of the early owners of The house was built by the Lloyd family the house built a long range of llettau, little rooms where pilgrims on the way to St Winefride’s Well in Holywell could stay the night. The main road from Wrexham to Mold, which was a pilgrim route, ran right past the front door then. There is also a legend that a monk fell asleep beside the driveway and woke up 100 years later – a sort of Welsh Rip Van Winkle.” The project aims to create a Geographical Information System (GIS) on which historic records can be digitised and mapped. The map will incorporate these records and enable information from different archives to be viewed instantly and in combination. Dr Shaun Evans adds: “At the click of a button it will be possible to view and move through a full recorded history of the landscape and its individual features, built up through a layering of records from across the post-medieval period.” November/December 2020 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 51

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Banwy has a variety of pods, including those offering comfortable holiday accommodation

Be ready for the boom in UK tourism with a luxurious prefabricated pod that will fit in virtually any space


he past few months have been an unsettling time for everyone. There are many things we cannot be sure about, but one thing we can expect to see is more people staying within the UK when they take their holidays, thanks to travel restrictions abroad and lower travel budgets. With an increase in demand for accommodation, it is the time for holiday providers to make sure they’re serving holidaymakers. Banwy Pods is the manufacturer of bespoke pods, from accommodation pods to garden office pods and everything in between. The prefabricated and portable structures are manufactured offsite, then simply “Heating delivered and positioned ready to be connected. The means the pods are fully insulated and have a central heating pods can be system, which means they can be used all year used round, generating a regular income. Accommodation all year” pods come with a kitchen area and the option of a bolt-on en-suite to create a luxury pod. Banwy Pods is located in mid Wales but supplies pods nationwide. You can make an appointment to view a pod by calling 07497 908898 or visit for more information.

Stay safe at home

Regular checks of your gas appliances are important, as is having a carbon monoxide alarm


survey of 2,000 adults by British Gas found that one in four people in Britain don’t have a carbon monoxide alarm at home. It also found that half don’t worry about the safety of their gas appliances. Three in 10 say they don’t have time to service, repair or replace their appliances, and nearly half said it’s too expensive to pay for professional help, while more than a third (37 per cent) know they need to do it, but keep putting it off. British Gas’s engineers detected 26,000 unsafe or dangerous gas and electric appliances during home visits in the first eight months of this year. Elliot Barham, a safety expert at British Gas, says: “Carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas that has no taste or smell, and longterm exposure can be fatal. Fortunately, carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable

DID YOU KNOW? A third of those polled didn’t know the smell of gas meant danger

Experts will help identify warning signs

– as long as you have an alarm fitted, to warn you of any leaks before they become serious.” The most common faults found were on boilers and ovens. “Our engineers regularly visit customers who haven’t had their electrical wiring or gas appliances checked in well over a decade, which is concerning,” says Elliot. “Some of the unsafe appliances could have had a devastating effect. It’s so important that we educate people on the warning signs to look out for.” These signs include smelling gas, the boiler’s pilot light going out and a yellow flame on a cooker or boiler.

52 SHIRE MAGAZINE | November/December 2020

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PAVING THE WAY FOR AN ECOFRIENDLY FUTURE Oltco is combining recycling expertise with pioneering technology and design to create driveways that re-use waste plastic across Cheshire and beyond



KNOW? hat better way to make an entrance for Recycled Product of the Year in the National Each square than to arrive at your own front door Recycling Awards. Although mainly used on metre consists on a surface made entirely of recycled plastic? driveways, paths and patios for the domestic of 3,000 plastic Thanks to Oltco, a company that has been market, Recycle Bound has also been straws doing its bit in the fight against plastic waste for used on larger commercial projects. some time, this is a realistic driveway option. At the beginning of 2019, Oltco – with Global issue, local support Oltco’s founder, Tom Stringer, says: one of its main offices in Northwich – came Nick Evans “The issue of plastic waste has up with a unique solution to help tackle the long been a concern for us here at issue of plastic waste littering the globe. Over the months since, Oltco – we see first-hand the impact Oltco’s Recycle Bound product has recycled the equivalent of it’s having on our environment. more than 40 million plastic straws, and it is used not only on We have been thrilled by driveways up and down the country but also at the response to Recycle some of the UK’s leading hotels and attractions. “Recycle Bound. It has proved hugely Bound has Waste not popular with our customers, recycled the both residential and commercial, and the number of Recycle Bound is a durable, versatile surface made equivalent customers who are asking for it to be used on their using waste plastic (straws, plastic drink bottles and of over driveways, patios and paths is growing all the time. plastic food packaging) – each square metre of Recycle 40 million It is an awesome product that will last for years and Bound consists of the equivalent of 3,000 plastic straws” helps rid the world of some of the plastic waste.” straws. This means if Recycle Bound was laid on a Nick Evans, who heads Oltco’s Northwich branch, says: standard 50 square metre “We are grateful for all the individuals and companies based in drive, the equivalent of 150,000 plastic Cheshire who have come on board in a bid to help us tackle the global straws would be recycled in the process. issue of plastic waste. We are proud to have already installed many The team at Oltco were inspired Recycle Bound surfaces in areas including Crewe and Nantwich.” to develop the product after growing Director Johnny Pearce adds: “At Oltco we never rest on our laurels. increasingly concerned about the devastating It’s in our DNA to innovate and we are constantly looking for new impact plastic waste was having on the ways to reduce our impact on the environment. We are now working planet. It took two years to develop Recycle on another world-first product that will also utilise waste plastic and Bound, which is already a huge success will be a game changer when it’s launched, so watch this space.” story awards and was named runner-up

Shelby gets a new I look for 2020 The Range has launched a stunning piece in rich navy that could help you stop feeling blue this winter

n 2019, The Range’s Shelby chair was launched and its modernised-classic design caused a veritable shopping frenzy among customers as it became a hit both in stores and on Instagram. This October, the chair enjoyed a relaunch in the on-trend colour of the season – navy. Boasting a brushed-velvet finish, a scalloped back and a comfortable cushioned seat, this vintage-style chair provides optimum The all-new comfort as a statement piece in your living room, or Shelby as an admirable accent to the corner of any room. At just £149.99, the chair is still affordable for the majority of customers even as many armchairs reach the price of sofas. This inexpensive yet stylish alternative is accessible to customers scrimping and saving at Christmas time. The Range has stores across the Shire patch as well as products available online at

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here are many things has a boiler, gas fire, log burner you have to consider or any flues. Your CO alarm when buying a new home, but can be linked to your fire alarm what about fire and carbon system; you would then need monoxide (CO) protection? a control switch so you’re able If you’re buying a new build to differentiate between an property, it should meet the activation from a fire alarm or requirements of the British a CO alarm. This is because if Standards BS 5839-6:2019, the latter is triggered, you must which are as follows: open the windows and leave the • Fire alarms in the circulation property immediately; if a fire spaces on each storey (eg alarm sounds, you may want landing and hallway) to locate the activated alarm to • Fire alarms in the room most avoid the area as you evacuate. frequently used A control switch is for daytime living also beneficial if you “Carbon (eg living room) have mobility issues monoxide • A heat alarm in or your property has alarms are the kitchen high ceilings, as it vital to • A CO alarm where means you don’t have consider” there are fuel-burning to worry about pressing appliances (eg boiler) the test button on the alarm itself – you can simply If you’re buying an older press a button on the switch. home, however, it may not If you have additional needs, have an adequate system in such as being hearing impaired, place, if any. You may have to you may need accessories upgrade the current system or incorporated into your alarm install an entirely new one. system to ensure you’re alerted BS 5839-6:2019 recommends in the event of alarm activation. a fire alarm system should be At Aico, we offer a variety of interlinked, so if one alarm is these including high-output and triggered they all sound – and low-frequency sounders, strobe you can hear it wherever you are lights and vibrating pads. in the property. This can be done by installing cabling between For more information about each unit, or wirelessly through Aico, visit, the use of radio frequency. call 01691 664100 or email CO alarms are also a vital consideration if your new home


o many people are asking us was last on fire like this, but we about the property market do. That’s why we are highly at the moment. We often skilled in dealing with an answer the question with a unexpectedly buoyant market. question: “Do you remember For those thinking of buying back in March, how loo rolls before the end of the stamp became difficult to find?” duty reprieve, we recommend “It’s hard to forget,” most doing so now. Another national people reply. lockdown might only “No one We say: “That’s temporarily suppress could have what’s happened to the strong market, predicted property: houses are but big questions flying off our books.” still remain about what would While the country the market in 2021. happen to was in lockdown, no High levels of the market” one could envision unemployment, an what would happen to the unfavourable Brexit deal, tighter property market – including mortgage criteria and the end of us. We couldn’t know how the stamp duty relaxation could people would react to isolation, turn off the tap. Only time will changes in working practices tell. But in the meantime, what and the resulting opportunity to we do know is that property is commute less often but further. flying and we’re here to help Now, after several months of buyers and sellers fly with it. the most extraordinary market most of us can remember, we Russell Griffin is director have experienced the combined of Samuel Wood, which has effects of the Covid and Brexit branches in Shrewsbury, bounces, the relaxation of stamp Ludlow, Craven Arms duty and low interest rates. and Church Stretton. Many first- and secondCall 01743 272710 or visit time buyers and sellers won’t remember when the market

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Design from a distance As we all adapt to a new way of working and living, Suzanne Mercer from Kettle Design in Wirral talks about how her interior design firm has adapted to new needs and desires

Kettle Designs has shifted to an online service


he pandemic has forced us in the design world to change – but with the help of the technology available, that doesn’t mean we’ve had to compromise. We’ve shifted into what we’re calling an e-nterior design service – and we’re still delivering amazing ideas and solutions from anywhere. As we all get used to new ways of meeting, Kettle Design has embraced technology to make sure our clients can experience the full interior design service.

Technology to transform

How does it work? As ever, we start with a conversation. By telephone, email, WhatsApp – whatever suits you best. We encourage you to send photos and videos of your space, as well as images of what your dream

Clients send photos of the space

space would look like. We produce mood boards electronically and send these to you “Everyone by post (cleansed prior to packing). After all, needs to everyone needs to touch and feel the fabrics touch and and papers they are choosing. Any samples feel the can be sent straight to your home. Our fabrics” dedicated 3D modelling software enables us to recreate your room accurately. We can place furniture, lighting and accessories and even decorate your room with your chosen wallpapers and paint – it is sometimes hard to tell the difference between our 3D visuals and our finished rooms! Visits to your home are still permitted, and we use this time to check measurements and agree final finishes if needed. Project completion can be completed when you are elsewhere in your home or away from the property. For ideas, inspiration or more information, Mood boards are created visit

TREASURES HIDING IN YOUR ATTIC If you’re having a clear out, you could make some serious money as well as some space. Check out these toy treasures


his year many of us have taken advantage of having extra time on our hands to clear out all the nooks and crannies in our homes. Old toys may not seem like the most valuable items, but if you come across the right ones and they’re in perfect condition, you may have hit the jackpot. The experts at OnBuy have highlighted the toys and games that could earn you a fortune.

Trading cards

The highest amount paid for a trading card is £2.9m for a Honus Wagner 1909 card. Other trading cards of value include Magic: The Gathering Alpha Black Lotus and a Pokémon holographic first edition Charizard.

Comic books

In 2014, a first edition of Action Comics from 1938 sold on eBay for over £2.4m after the bidder put it up for 99c (76p). Other comics of similar value include Detective Comics and Marvel.

Some comics are worth millions

Dolls Pokémon trading cards

Soft toys

The most expensive bundle of Beanie Babies ever sold went for £458,000 and included a large Wallace the Bear, two regular-size Wallaces, a Cashew the Bear and a Huggy. Other valuable Beanie Babies include Rainbow, Valentino,

Bubbles fish and a Piccadilly from the Attic Collection.

The most expensive Barbie doll ever sold was the Stefani Canturi doll, which went for £231,000 in 2010. Other valuable dolls include the 1959 Original Barbie and Marie Antoinette Barbie.

One Barbie sold for £231,000

Toy cars

Beanie Babies

Hot Wheels cars have the highest number of monthly internet searches at 894,500. The 1969 Pink Rear-Loading Beach Bomb is said to be worth £134,000.

Hot Wheels

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New Homes

HOME BUILDERS REVEAL AMBITIOUS FUTURE PLANS Local MPs James Davies (left) and David Jones (centre) meet senior management of Jones Bros, including chairman Huw Jones, and their latest intake of apprentices at the new training centre in Denbigh

A local construction and civil engineering firm has moved into its new training base and has plans to develop the next generation of skilled apprentices at the same time as building 300 new homes


ones Bros has opened its new purpose-built training centre as same time provide Denbighshire with much-needed high quality housing.” part of one of north Wales’s most ambitious construction and restoration projects. It has now started training its apprentices at “This is a very exciting project that could the new facility on the site of the former North Wales Hospital in provide a great deal of employment to young Denbigh, where the company plans to carry out a major enabling people who want to enter the construction and civil engineering industries,” says David. development that will see it build 300 new homes over 10 years. “The prime minister has said the The Ruthin-based civil engineering and The hospital site name of the game is build, build, construction company has posted a planning “It’s great to application for a £75 million development that build and that’s exactly what Jones Bros is doing. It’s a great see a company will restore the central section of the historic opportunity for these young people and they definitely get like Jones Bros that. This is an industry to be in at the moment and they’re former hospital, a Grade II* listed building. investing in going to be at the forefront of it. It is good to see these Meanwhile its brand new, purpose-built new the future of young people from across north Wales in apprenticeships training centre is up and running on the hospital this country for careers that will serve them well in the future. site – with social distancing measures in place – by employing and new apprentices have already started courses “It’s great to see a company like Jones Bros investing promising in the future of this country by employing promising in plant operation, plant maintenance and general young people” young people from a very wide area of north Wales construction. Former Welsh Secretary David and it was also impressive that Jones Bros take on Jones, MP for Clwyd West, and Vale of Clwyd apprentices from all over the UK including Scotland.” MP Dr James Davies paid a visit to the new centre to meet developers Jones Bros and their latest cohort of apprentices.

Beautiful building

“The North Wales Hospital site is very important to the town of Denbigh,” says James. “It was completed in 1848 and came into being as part of a reform movement for the care of the mentally ill. As a Grade II* listed building, it’s vital that it should be restored, and all credit to Jones Bros and Denbighshire County Council for recognising this opportunity to return it to useful life. This is a very exciting project that will provide valuable jobs and training here in Denbigh for the next ten years and at the

Hospital homes

Jones Bros, which held a successful consultation into its plans for the hospital earlier this year, has submitted an outline planning application to Denbighshire County Council to redevelop the site by building 300 new homes as well as facilities for local businesses, shops and leisure activities. This will include the restoration and conversion of the central section of the Grade II* listed former psychiatric hospital as part of a 10-year project which will provide a £75 million boost to the local economy.

58 SHIRE MAGAZINE | November/December 2020

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BOWBROOK MEADOWS A new housing development in Shrewsbury offers residents spacious homes, open-plan living, great views of the surrounding countryside and enough room for the whole family


owbrook Meadows from Bovis Homes is located just a mile from the centre of Shrewsbury, meaning you can walk to town and enjoy the best this historic market town has to offer. It’s surrounded by open green space so you don’t need to go far to enjoy nature. It’s also ideally located for the hospital, and many existing residents have made use of the new extended keyworker scheme. Almost 95 per cent of this new community is now sold, and the remaining homes are dedicated to larger families in the form of the popular five-bedroom Oxford home. The Oxford offers great space, including a large open-plan kitchen and dining area with “We’re really French doors overlooking the garden area. pleased Downstairs has a utility area and the added with the bonus of a study – ideal for those now working quality of from home and wanting to separate the workthe fixtures life balance. The Oxford starts from £389,995. and fittings”

Helping hand

The Help to Buy scheme is still available at Bowbrook Meadows for second-time buyers who are looking to upgrade to a home with more space. The scheme means you only need a five per cent deposit to get moving with this option, making your deposit less than £20,000. In addition, the stamp duty holiday is still in place until March 2021, which could help you save thousands.

Appointments to view the development are now available

For those who are classed as keyworkers, Bovis Homes now offers a new extended scheme which includes a five per cent deposit option and a £500 John Lewis voucher to spend on your new home. Selected homes also come with a full home flooring package. “The house is very well built and finished, and we are really pleased with the quality of the fixtures and fittings,” say current residents Geoff and Vicky when asked about their new home. “The builders and tradesmen have been very friendly and helpful.” Need something a bit smaller? Then why not register for details about Bovis Homes’ brand new development, Oteley Gardens, which is coming to Shrewsbury The Oxford has five bedrooms in spring 2021 and will include a range of two-, three- and four-bedroom homes. To book an appointment to look around Bowbrook Meadows or speak to a member of the sales team, call 01952 305051 between 10am and 5pm, Monday to Sunday.

The open-plan kitchen and dining area 60 SHIRE MAGAZINE | November/December 2020

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Final call on spacious and serene family homes Coming soon

Oteley Gardens, Shrewsbury Spring 2021!

Make a fresh start this season with a brand new home at Bowbrook Meadows, Shrewsbury With a range of 5 bedroom detached homes, this brand new community offers the best in modern living with spacious gardens, contemporary features and flexible living spaces. Our homes are surrounded by open green spaces and within close proximity of the Shrewsbury town centre.

Bowbrook Meadows Shrewsbury 01952 305 051

Family 5 bedroom homes from ÂŁ389,995* Photograph depicts a typical Bovis Home exterior/interior. Elevation may differ to that shown. Internal images may include optional upgrades at an additional cost. Price & availability correct at time of going to print/ broadcast. YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON A MORTGAGE OR ANY OTHER DEBT SECURED ON IT. Ask our sales advisor for details. GD56911

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Cedar & Oak Handcrafted Shepherd Huts & Garden Buildings of Distinction

If you need extra space for a quiet office, snug playroom or creative studio a shepherd hut or garden building could be perfect. All our builds are made to order meaning we can change materials, add features or create a new tailored design to suit you. Call or email us for more information, prices from £7500.00

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Peter and Sal from Cheshire show us around their new build – a garden studio made by Cedar & Oak in Twemlow, which they’ve affectionately named “The Bothy”


t all started because we had two old sheds in one part of the garden, and our thinking was to replace them,” says Peter. “But then we felt that having a covered area as part of that could be quite interesting. “The idea somewhat morphed from there. We looked at various possibilities, including a log cabin, and then one of Sal’s friends at the Knutsford Community First Responder Trust said her future son-in-law – who turned out to be Peter at Cedar & Oak – built shepherd’s huts and garden studios. “Peter and I talked through some of the things we were looking for, and he was able to interpret our ideas and come Peter says. “Although we don’t need it back with designs. Originally we weren’t as a studio or a home office, someone in looking at a curved roof; I asked if that was the future might want to use it like that, a possibility, and he said he thought it was. and the insulation makes it much more We also were keen to have a covered area.” comfortable in winter. Although it was They also decided to take the plunge and more expensive, we’re delighted that we have the building insulated. “It’s sandwiched did it. We also said we wanted between the lining boards, which are all plywood, and electrics and hard-wired internet.” “The studio the external cladding has a has enhanced waterproof membrane too,” Multi-functional space the whole The workbench and cupboards are functionality all designed so they can be taken of that area of out and the room repurposed. the garden” “We thought we might want to use it as a model railway room, so the central set of doors are designed so we can put a model railway upright as they cantilever out,” Peter says. “The beauty of the building is its flexibility. My wife uses it for guitar practice, while my son uses it as a yoga studio. “Although he contracted out the electrics and the patio, Peter controlled the whole project. He was very flexible with the construction and installation. At one point, Sal decided she didn’t want to have a hook-and-eye system to hold the door back, so Peter and I designed an alternative system. He was infinitely patient with things like that.” Both Peter and Sal love the rustic nature of the larch cladding and they’re The studio has a covered patio area

The workbench, pictured left, can be removed and the space repurposed

delighted that it was supplied by a local sawmill a couple of miles down the road. If they’d had a simple shed, Peter says, it would have made no difference to the value or the functionality of the house. “But I suspect the money we’ve spent on this is probably going to go on the value of the house should we choose to sell it,” he says. “It’s an attractive, helpful feature from that point of view. But it has also enhanced the whole functionality of that area of the garden, which is a great thing.”


“When I first met Peter and Sal, we discussed a few ideas for a modestsized workshop to sit in an underused section of the garden. After some initial sketch work and another meeting, when we looked at pictures of other projects, a much grander and special build started to take shape. “The Bothy is one of the builds I’m most proud of. It really is one of a kind and was a pleasure to work on. The end result turned out even better than I could have imagined!” To find out more, call 01477 535848 or visit

November/December 2020 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 63

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

Five-stem candelabra, £59.95, Victoria James in Telford, Shropshire; Diamond-shape fairy lights, £16, Roobarb in Bridgnorth, Shropshire; Textured lustre vase, £17, The Cheshire Gift Company; Summer Bloom Tree wall art, £95 reduced to £76, British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry, Shropshire; Raised silver star candle plate, £9.99, Cheshire Homewares; Silver trees on wooden base, £11.99, Cheshire Homewares; Silver leaf plate, £42.99, Tweedmill Shopping Outlet in St Asaph, Denbighshire;


8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16.

Eucalyptus in glass pot, £9, The Cheshire Gift Company, 120-LED 3D star light, £35, John Lewis & Partners; Gustav table lamp, £95.99, Stokers Furniture in Chester; Silver wire LED lights, £9.50, The Silver Pear in Ludlow; Star blue and silver wall hanging (small), £29.50, Oliver Bonas; Aluminium pagoda lantern, £138.99, Tweedmill Shopping Outlet in St Asaph, Denbighshire; Handmade crackers containing five handmade chocolates, £28 for a six (special price for Shire readers), Maybird Design; Dorma circular decorative lantern, £14, Dunelm; Solo Stove Ranger fire pit, from £292.55, Ludlow Stoves; November/December 2020 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 65

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Food&Drink Recipes by local chefs to try at home It wouldn’t be Christmas without us all becoming more than a little bit obsessed with delicious dining, and here at Shire we don’t need much in the way of seasonal excuses to be thinking with our stomachs! So instead of just sharing a single recipe from one of our region’s top chefs, in this yuletide issue we’ve wrapped up a culinary collection from a few of our friends in the hospitality trade. Over the next few pages you’ll find simple snacks, delicate desserts, sumptuous sides and everything in between to make your Christmas a truly tasty time. Enjoy! Roasted chestnut, sour cranberry and sage stuffing starter

Mustard roast beef



(makes 10) 40g diced shallot 1 clove of garlic 15ml vegetable oil 10g fresh sage 65g salted butter 25g chestnuts 25g smoked almonds 25g blanched hazelnuts 50g sour cranberries 40g dried apricot Juice and zest of half an orange 25ml chicken stock 125g fresh breadcrumbs 25g soft dark brown sugar 10g ground nutmeg

Topside/silverside Angus beef roasting joint 3tbsp olive oil 2tsp crushed garlic 2tbsp wholegrain mustard 2tsp balsamic vinegar


10g salt 5g cracked black pepper 25ml cranberry liqueur Panko breadcrumbs (to coat)


1. Finely dice the shallots, garlic and sage, and add to a thick-based pan with vegetable oil. Cook gently on a low heat without colouring. 2. Add the butter to the pan. Once melted, add all the nuts, dried fruits, orange zest and orange juice. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes. 3. Add the chicken stock and cook for a further minute. 4. Remove from the heat and add the fresh breadcrumbs. Stir the mixture until it starts to bind together. 5. Add the brown sugar, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and stir in. 6. Add the cranberry liqueur and mix. Check for seasoning and add more if required. 7. Shape the mix into balls, and roll in the panko breadcrumbs. 8. Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes at 180°C/gas mark 4. Recipe from Grosvenor Pulford Hotel & Spa, Chester. For more information, visit

1. Heat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/ gas mark 5 and line a roasting tray with foil, enough to wrap over the whole joint. 2. Mix together the oil, garlic, mustard and balsamic vinegar in a bowl, adding a little salt and pepper to taste. 3. Rub the marinade into the joint of beef, coating all sides. Place the beef into the foil-lined roasting tin. If you have time, leave to stand for 30 minutes. 4. Roast for 15 minutes per 500g, adding an additional 30 minutes for medium beef. If the beef starts to catch, just wrap over the foil. 5. When cooking your side dishes, allow 10 minutes for the beef to rest before carving and serving. This allows time for the moisture in the meat to redistribute throughout, for a succulent, flavoursome roast. 6. Serve with homemade Yorkshire puddings, fresh steamed vegetables, roast potatoes and gravy. Recipe from Cheerbrook Farm Shop in Nantwich, Cheshire. For more information and advice, visit

The Woodworks Christmas cake

Lovingly made by Lorraine Whittle, an in-house baker at The Woodworks Café, Mold


6oz (170g) olive spread or butter 9oz (255g) brown sugar 21oz (595g) mixed fruit in brandy (can be made without brandy, and cherries can be added into the mix) 12fl oz (355ml) water 11/2tsp bicarbonate of soda

1tsp mixed spices 3 eggs, beaten 6oz (170g) plain flour 6oz (170g) selfraising flour Pinch of salt

Method 1. 2. 3. 4.

Place the olive spread, sugar, fruit, water, bicarbonate of soda and mixed spices in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then leave to cool for a few hours. Add the eggs, flour and salt and mix by hand until smooth. Place in a lined 2lb (1kg) loaf tin and bake in the oven at 170°C/gas mark 4 for 60-90 minutes, checking after the first hour.

To enjoy a slice of tasty Christmas cake at The Woodworks Café, Mold this December, call 01352 752555 and book a table 66 SHIRE MAGAZINE | November/December 2020

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Chai spiced Santa cookies These simple and delicious cookies will add that little something extra to Santa’s plate on his travels on Christmas Eve – and take just 30 minutes to make!

BAKED SUGAR & MUSTARD HAM GLAZE Lord Newborough of Rhug Estate Organic Farm says his family Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without a large organic gammon joint, smothered in a sweet and delicious glaze

Ingredients For the cookies 140g unsalted butter, at room temperature 200g granulated sugar 1 large egg 1 large egg yolk 2tbsp honey 270g plain flour 2tsp baking powder 1 /2tsp fine salt 2tsp ground cinnamon 1tsp ground cardamom 1tsp ground ginger 1 /2tsp ground allspice 1 /2tsp ground cloves


Rhug Organic gammon joint 2tbsp English mustard 2tbsp demerara sugar For the filling 155g icing sugar 110g soft butter (or baking spread) 1tsp orange blossom water


To make the cookies 1. Heat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas mark 5 and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. 2. Add butter and sugar to a mixing DID YOU bowl and mix until light and fluffy. KNOW? 3. Add the egg, egg yolk and honey My Little Persian and beat until combined. Kitchen is out 4. Add in all the flour, baking powder and now, priced spices and mix for around 3 minutes. £19.99 5. Roll the dough into 2.5cm balls and flatten gently with the back of a spoon. 6. Place in the middle of the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes or until just golden brown on top. 7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack until completely cold. To make the filling and assemble the cookies 1. Put the icing sugar, butter and orange blossom water in a bowl and mix with a whisk until soft and fluffy, which should take around 5 minutes. 2. Place the filling in a piping bag and pipe a little on to half of the biscuits. 3. Use the other half of the biscuits to create sandwiches together with the creamed half. 4. The biscuits can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. Recipe from Shropshire chef Rebekah Jones. For more, see her new book, My Little Persian Kitchen

Nelson’s Christmas punch Ingredients

(serves four) 50ml Nelson’s Special Edition Black Bottle Gin 50ml Nelson’s Signature Blend Rum 50ml triple sec 10ml angostura bitters 1 litre cranberry juice Large pinch of cinnamon Handful of seasonal berries


1. Add a handful of ice to a punch bowl and pour in the gin, run, triple sec and angostura bitters. 2. Stir and add the cranberry juice, cinnamon and berries. 3. Divide between four tall tumblers and garnish with a glazed cherry. 4. To drink hot, mull the ingredients in a slow cooker. Recipe from Nelsons Distillery. Visit


1. Cook the joint of gammon as you usually would. 2. Remove it from the oven and spread evenly with the mustard. Sprinkle the sugar over the mustard and press it down with your hands. 3. Return the gammon into the oven and bake for a further 20-30 minutes until golden brown.


If you’d prefer a sweet glaze, you might like to try the following…


6tbsp fresh orange juice 4tbsp apricot jam Pinch of ground ginger


1. Gently heat the orange juice, jam and ginger in a pan for 5 minutes. 2. Evenly spread the glaze all over the cooked ham. 3. Return to the oven and bake for a further 20-30 minutes.

Recipes from Rhug Estate Organic Farm. Visit

SAUSAGEMEAT, APPLE AND CRANBERRY STUFFING This tasty stuffing can be made quickly in a food processor


50g fresh breadcrumbs 2 heaped tbsp fresh chopped parsley 1tsp fresh chopped rosemary 1 large onion, chopped 225g sausagemeat Goose liver, finely chopped 2tbsp port Salt and freshly milled black pepper 2 dessert apples, cored and finely chopped, skin on 175g cranberries, finely chopped


1. Whizz the breadcrumbs in a food processor with the parsley, rosemary and onion. 2. When everything is finely chopped, add the sausagemeat, goose liver, port and some salt and pepper, then process briefly to combine everything evenly. 3. Place in a bowl and mix in the finely chopped apple and cranberries. 4. If you don’t have a food processor, just finely chop all the ingredients and mix together in a bowl. 5. Stuffing can be cooked separately from the goose. If stuffing your goose, place inside the neck flap and secure with a skewer. Remember, the cooking time should be calculated using the weight of the goose when stuffed. Recipe from Brisbourne Geese. Visit November/December 2020 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 67

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Introducing a new dining concept from the catering and events team at Chester Racecourse

at home Enjoy a top-class culinary experience from the comfort of home this winter, with a selection of hand-crafted dishes by our top team of executive chefs. With no curfews or restrictions on timings, our menus are lovingly prepared for you to finish and enjoy with your loved ones at your leisure. Each comes with a chef’s set of instructions on how to cook, plate and present each course, meaning you can wow family members at the dinner table. Delivery is free within a six mile radius and as we’re doing the driving, why not upgrade your order to include a paired wine for a token extra. Prices start from £18 per person for two courses (main & dessert). Additional courses available.

Find out more online at or call us on 01244 304 660 Terms apply.

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Frangipane cakes with roast plums and lemon thyme

Twice-baked blue cheese soufflé with warm pear and walnut dressing

Simple in concept but complex in flavour, this dessert celebrates the harmony of fruit flavours like plum and lemon alongside almonds, thyme and cinnamon



For the frangipane cakes 150g roasted almond milk (see below for method) 4.5g psyllium husk 45g water 100g peanut oil 200g granulated white sugar 120g organic plain flour 120g ground almonds 15g baking powder 5g salt For the roast plums Plums, quartered 10g granulated white sugar 5g salt For the lemon thyme syrup 600g caster sugar 300g water Fresh lemon thyme 2 cinnamon sticks


For the frangipane cakes 1. To make the almond milk, roast almonds for 20 minutes at 180°C/gas mark 4. Allow to cool and place in cold water for 48 hours. Strain and blend, adding water until the correct texture is achieved. 2. Whisk the psyllium husk with the water. Chill in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

3. Add all ingredients to a bowl and combine well. Place in lightly oiled moulds and bake at 180°C/gas mark 4 for 15-20 minutes. To make the roast plums 1. Place the plums in a bowl and add the white sugar and salt. Allow to macerate for 30 minutes. 2. Roast at 180°C/gas mark 5 for 20 minutes. To make the syrup 1. Warm the caster sugar and water in a pan until the sugar is dissolved. Do not allow to boil. 2. Add the lemon thyme and cinnamon sticks, allow to infuse on a low heat for 30 minutes. 3. Strain and leave to cool. Drizzle over cake when ready to serve. Recipe from Chester’s zerowaste restaurant Hypha. For more information, visit

(makes 4-6 servings) For the soufflé 250ml milk 1 /2 onion, diced 1 bay leaf 2 peppercorns Grated nutmeg 60g butter 60g flour 150g grated blue cheese 4 egg yolks 5 egg whites Chopped chives Grated parmesan For the dressing 1 pear, peeled, cored and diced Large pinch of sugar 20ml sherry vinegar 80ml olive oil 40g broken walnuts 1tsp chopped chives Salt and pepper

in the cheese, chives and egg yolks. 5. Whip up the egg white. Fold into the soufflé mix in three stages to avoid removing the air. 6. Pour the mixture into buttered ramekins lined with Parmesan and bake in a bain-marie at 180°C/ gas mark 5 for 20 minutes. For the dressing 1. Place the pear and sugar in a hot frying pan and cook until they start to caramelise. 2. Add the sherry vinegar and remove from the heat. 3. Add the olive oil, walnuts, chives and seasoning. Serve each soufflé on a bed of rocket leaves. Recipe from chef Graham Tinsley at Carden Park. Visit


For the soufflé 1. Place the milk, onion, bay leaf, peppercorns and nutmeg in a pan and bring to the boil. 2. Make a roux with the butter and flour. 3. Remove the onion, bay leaf and peppercorns from the milk. Gradually add the milk to the roux to form a thick white sauce, making sure you cook out the flour. 4. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir

Lord Newborough, owner of Rhug Estate Organic Farm, explains the best way to cook your Rhug Organic Dee Valley Turkey

• When choosing the size of your turkey • •

allow 1lb (450g) of turkey per person. When roasting the turkey, allow 15 minutes per 1lb plus 15 minutes extra. Stuff the turkey with stuffing of your choice. Traditionally a bread stuffing is put inside the bird and a second stuffing such as sausage and chestnut is put in the opposite end. Rub the turkey with oil or butter and

season well with salt and pepper.

• Cover the breast with foil to keep it from • • •

drying out. Some people use a muslin soaked in butter to do the same job. Place in a large tin in the oven at 185°C/ gas mark 5 for the required time. Insert a skewer into the thigh. If the liquid runs clear the turkey is cooked. Rest your turkey before serving. It’s time to pour yourself a drink...

Mulled Shire spice Ingredients

50ml Shire spiced gin 50ml red vermouth such as Paso Vermu 25ml gingerbread syrup 100ml cloudy apple juice

DID YOU KNOW? Over half of the Rhug Estate’s 12,500 acres is an organic farm

The perfect roast turkey!


1. Heat the ingredients slowly in a pan – do not boil. 2. Serve in cups garnished with cinnamon and apple slices. Recipe from Emma Glynn,

November/December 2020 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 69

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Gooseberry and elderflower jam Through the winter months, the best way to enjoy delicious fruit flavours is often by preserving your own jams and chutneys to see you through to spring. They also make a great gift idea for a personal Christmas present! Here, Helen Meek from Shropshire shares her top tips with Shire. “I’ve been making jams with fruit from my garden for years,” says Helen. “I inherited lots of gooseberry, blackcurrant and redcurrant bushes when I moved into my house many years ago. It can seem like a long process, but with time and patience you’ll end up with a delicious jam for your morning toast or a tasty gift to impress friends!”

DID YOU KNOW? Europeans used honey to preserve fruit before cane sugar arrived in the 1500s

You jammy devil!


1kg gooseberries 10 elderflower heads 500ml of water 100ml elderflower cordial (optional) 1kg granulated sugar

Method 1. First clean your jam jars, then put them either in a dishwasher or in the oven on a very low heat for 20 minutes to sterilise them ready to use. 2. Wash and dry the gooseberries and elderflowers. Top and tail the gooseberries, removing small dried flowers and stalk – this can be done with small scissors. 3. Add the water to the gooseberries and place the cleaned elderflowers on top to infuse.

4. Cook in a pan for 30 minutes – gently, so the gooseberries maintain their shape. 5. Remove from heat and leave to infuse for another 20 minutes. Take out the elderflowers and dispose of them. 6. Add the sugar and boil until the jam sets. Test on a cool saucer until the jam crinkles when pushed. 7. Add the elderflower cordial, if using, to give added flavour to the jam. 8. Setting may take 30-40 minutes, and the jam may change colour depending on the type of gooseberry to a pinky red. 9. Ladle the jam into your warm sterilised jars, seal with clean lids and label. The jam will last 12 months unopened. Once open, store in the fridge and use within six weeks.

HIGH HOPES FOR A LOCAL FOOD-FILLED FESTIVE SEASON Across the Shire patch, several of our finest food producers have adapted to the new circumstances, survived and thrived – and are now looking forward to a successful festive season with new approaches and systems in place


n 2020, driven by community concern and health and safety requirements, firms across rural towns and villages adapted their normal working hours and processes to meet demand and support customers when they needed it most, coming up with myriad approaches to supplying the public with fresh, artisan and homegrown items. As we head towards Christmas, these companies hope people will continue to support them and shop locally. Among them is Aballu Artisan Chocolatier, based in Rossett, near Wrexham, whose owner Jo Edwards was able to continue producing truffles and other sweet treats throughout the lockdown months.

Janet and Tim Costidell kept their pub going

came to collect – it helped us to survive. I only had to cancel one order, which was for around 300 truffles, and I donated those to staff at our local grocers to thank them for everything they’ve done.” Easter, one of the busiest times of Jo’s year, was tough but she powered through. “I had to enlist the help of family and was even out on Easter Sunday myself delivering chocolate eggs because I didn’t want to let anyone down!”

Sweet treats

“When lockdown was first announced I wondered whether I could work at all,” said Jo. “But because I can operate alone and live close to the unit where the chocolate is produced, I was able to keep going. The response from customers was amazing, and we started carrying out free deliveries locally, sending via mail order and people

The pub became a shop

Lockdown at the local

Janet Costidell, who runs the Cross Foxes in Nannerch with husband Tim, also says lockdown was a challenge they faced headon. “We formed a team to deliver meals and provide a takeaway service, and as the Cross Foxes is central to the community, we collected prescriptions for the vulnerable and elderly. We reopened at the end of July but only outside, and also set up a little village shop with milk and all of the essentials for local residents. We all really came together, and the support has been amazing.” Janet admits the chances of a traditional pub Christmas aren’t great but hopes the Cross Foxes will be able to reopen fully in the months ahead. These and other local companies are supported by Taste North East Wales, whose awards took place online this year. Visit

70 SHIRE MAGAZINE | November/December 2020

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Tried and Tasted

Do you like to give wine at Christmas? Here with advice about what to do and what not to do is our columnist Pip Gale of Gale’s Wine Bar in Llangollen


ou may be daunted by the idea of buying wine for a wine lover, but don’t be. We wine geeks love all wine and we just want to have a new bottle to try – and if you get us one we already have, it’s probably because it’s good! Your gift will be appreciated as long as you put a little thought into it, so here are the best ways to make sure you please the wine lover in your life at Christmas.

A white wine made from red grapes Give the gift of wine!


Some people like to give wines of the same vintage as the recipient’s date of birth. This is a lovely idea, but there is still some homework to do. Vintage port is always welcome, but they only make it three times a decade tops, so the chances are that someone’s birth year will be unavailable. Some houses make barrel-aged port, called colheita, from every year to look after this market but it’s not the same as a true vintage port. You’re in luck if your favourite wine lover was born in any of the following years: 1948, 1960, 1963, 1966, 1970, 1975, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1985, 1991, 1994 or 1997. But bear in mind any vintage port is a special gift, whether or not it’s from our birth year. In fact this rule is relevant to all wine. I often consider my birthday to be a month later to make sure any wine I receive is of superior quality – my birth year had no good wines made. If you’re thinking of bordeaux, generally any year divisible by five is a good vintage. But these days The right vintage it’s not hard to do a bit of research online and find out the best years for your recipient’s favourite wine. Another good rule is to pick a classic wine of quality – you are very unlikely to go wrong. Champagne, Chateauneufdu-Pape, barolo, rioja… Take your time to find a respected name and you should be on safe ground.

Quirky picks

“Pick a But if you look beyond those classic names, classic wine you might ultimately find an even better gift of quality – a quirky wine that broadens even a veteran – you oenophile’s horizons! The discovery of a new are very bottle to share with friends is perfect for a unlikely to wine geek. These would be my suggestions: go wrong” • A more obscure country such as Hungary, Greece or Romania. • A white or red from a region more famous for making the other style, for example a white Rioja. • A forgotten or up-and-coming wine region such Priorat or Sardinia. • An experimental wine from an established winemaker such as the new Bollinger PN VZ15. • Natural wines or biodynamic wines. As always, the best way to find a gift is to visit an independent wine shop – they will have lots of suggestions once you give them a few parameters. If you don’t fancy donning a mask and risking your health, most of them will sort you out over the phone and deliver safely. Merry Christmas!


his year Kerry Vale, a family-run vineyard near Montgomery, launched a new white wine called Illusion, made using only red grapes. At first sight it looks like a standard white wine, but you can just discern a touch of light pink. At first taste, it seems to be a bold, easy drinking white, not too acidic, with lots of fruit flavour – but you are left with a drier, balancing finish from the red grape skins. It’s certainly not a rosé, with their typical strawberry notes, but rather a very drinkable

and interesting white wine – and one Shire recommends wholeheartedly. Vineyard owner Russell Cooke explains the process of creating Illusion. “All grape juice is white – it’s the skins of red grapes that contain the dark pigment. If the juice is separated from the skins after being pressed, it remains white. Leaving juice in contact with red skins during fermentation makes it dark. We limit that contact, resulting in a really interesting Russell Cooke and delicious white wine.” Find out more at

Getting into the Christmas spirit

Tried and Tasted Christmas combinations from Nelsons Distillery & School Nelson’s Christmas Dinner Gin

They say: “Fuses cranberry sweetness with sage and hints of turkey (trust us).” Our tasters say: “A bold initial cranberry sweetness, followed by ‘meaty sage’ flavours that actually work well together.”

Nelson’s Christmas Gin

They say: “Aromas of cinnamon and vanilla meet a tang of orange and a pinch of pink.” Our testers say: “Strong flavours of orange and peppercorn, and the tiny gold flakes looked amazing in the glass.”

Nelson’s Christmas Brussels Sprout Vodka

They say: “A subtle blend of the nutty cabbage-like flavour.” Our tasters say: “Fabulous green colour, very festive – and much nicer than Brussels sprouts!”

Nelson’s Christmas Clementine Spiced Rum They say: “Warming nutmeg and a light zest of clementine.” Our testers say: “One of our favourites – a very light rum with delicious sweet fruit flavours.”

Nelson’s Christmas Gin

From £20 for 50cl;

72 SHIRE MAGAZINE | November/December 2020

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Plants&Gardens TATTON TOPS TRUST’S TABLE One local garden has always been worth a winter visit – and now it has been recognised with a national award

Simon. “I don’t know if it was a new appreciation of open spaces since lockdown, or people getting their social life back after self-isolating, but it has been a You must book joy to welcome our staff, volunteers and visitors, and to visit Tatton Park mansion to meet and work with people from all walks of life. at www.tatton ew online research has rated every National “I never lose sight of the fact that hundreds of years Trust garden in the UK, and Cheshire’s Tatton ago, this magnificent garden was created for the pleasure Park came in at number one. The stunning grounds of just one family,” Simon continues. have always been a popular choice, but visitor feedback and “My team’s job is to maintain its beauty reviews helped the gorgeous garden clinch the top spot. and make it accessible for everyone to enjoy.” The report rated all UK National Trust gardens against an index of visitor reviews on Google and photos on Instagram. It found that Winter wonders not only is Tatton Park Garden providing visitors with a welcome The park’s kitchen garden is one of the highlights change of scenery post-lockdown, it also has acres of inspiration for of any visit and reflects an almost forgotten budding gardeners looking for achievable, take-home ideas. People era. From mushroom sheds and onion stores find the Japanese Garden to barns and glasshouses, all areas have been especially inspiring and the restored to their former use. Some of the Walled Kitchen Garden produce offers insights into historical eating Deer roam the park evokes lots of interest for habits, with varieties including Scarlet Emperor visitors keen on growing runner beans, British Queen potatoes and quirky Fat Lazy Blonde their own fruit and veg. lettuces and other typically Edwardian types of fruit and vegetables. In autumn and winter, Tatton takes on an almost mystical feel Fabulous feedback and walkers delight in spotting the herds of red and fallow deer (or “It’s wonderful that reindeer for younger festive visitors!) that roam freely in 1,000 acres the photos and reviews of parkland. Not only that, but the mansion Tatton shines through winter house itself is truly magnificent when fully shared by our visitors have secured this top spot for us,” says Simon Tetlow, head decorated for Christmas and well worth a visit if restrictions allow this year. gardener at Tatton Park. “We’ve always known how beloved our garden is, but for it to be rated in this way is great.” Tatton wasn’t the only local attraction Simon and his team of gardeners and volunteers look after picked out for praise in the research. Nearby Lyme Park in Cheshire came sixth in the 50 acres of some of the most varied garden in the country. overall listing (see below). But then we’ve Specialised areas at Tatton Park include orchard, arboretum, always known we had some of the best Italian, rose, Japanese, fernery and pinery, to name but a few. The house at Christmas open spaces in the Shire patch… “It did feel extra special in the gardens this summer,” says

Did you know?



Images ©National Trust


Tatton Park may have won the top spot, but neighbouring Lyme Park also received brilliant reviews and was voted the nation’s sixth most popular National Trust garden

yme Park is another great garden to visit later “The park’s in the year, as the change of seasons brings trees really incredible colours to the estate. As autumn ends, come into visitors can enjoy late bloomers in the garden their own” and colourful canopies across the woodland, and hear the roar of the deer as the rut begins. The park’s trees really come into their own in autumn, especially the Vicary Gibbs area that contains several exotic trees brought to Lyme by Gibbs, a renowned horticulturist, in the early 1900s.

Look out for fiery reds from the Cornus kousa, or dogwood tree, as well as the flowering cherry. Near the Italian garden, the leaves of the spindle trees Dramatic scenes at Lyme start to turn a distinctive shade of pink as the season progresses. In the thick of winter, with frosty mornings and a windswept moorland backdrop, the views of Lyme from the garden terrace are dramatic and ever changing. November/December 2020 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 75

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WINTER GARDENING IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL – AND SPRING! Winter is on its way, but the shorter days and lower temperatures don’t mean you can’t enjoy being out in your garden


here are many satisfying tasks which will ensure that your garden looks at its best throughout the festive season and is prepared to welcome spring. Here Lis Morris, RHS Course Manager in horticulture and sustainable technologies at University Centre Reaseheath, Cheshire, gives us some wintry jobs to do when weather permits.

● Prune

roses to prevent wind-rock, and tidy ornamental grasses and bamboos. will continue to grow in mild weather so hoe regularly.

● Grab

● Clear

up fallen leaves, especially from paths that may become slippery and lawns to avoid grass die-back due to lack of light. Add the leaves to your general compost or store separately to make leaf mould. Clear leaves and overgrowth from your pond.

Plant spring bulbs

● Pop

into your greenhouse or potting shed to take root cuttings. Plants such as perennial poppies, verbascum and phlox will happily propagate using this method.

● Protect

tender plants by moving pots into your greenhouse or into a sheltered spot, insulating with bubble wrap or fleece, or mulching. to cut down and compost faded herbaceous perennials unless you’re leaving them for structure or as wildlife habitat. Lift and divide overgrown clumps.

LEAVES from trees like oak and sycamore take a long time to break down, so it’s better to store these separately.

● Weeds

the last chance to plant out winter bedding such as wallflowers, forget-me-nots and winter pansies. Add bulbs for additional colour.

● Attract

garden birds by providing regular supplies of food and fresh water.

● Continue

● Order

seed catalogues, seed and summer flowering bulbs for planting in spring.

Prune to prevent wind-rock

For more on diplomas and RHS courses visit For info on degrees visit

BEST FOR BERRIES The colder months can strip gardens of much of their colour, so it’s worth planting a few brightberried bushes to add some winter cheer…


This family of hardy shrubs offers an array of colourful, long-lasting berries but few are as dependable and as tough as Cornubia, whose clusters of berries weigh down the branches.



These flexible flowering plants can be groomed and shaped, used as hedging or shrubs and also become a popular nesting site for birds hidden beneath their protective spines. In winter many varieties offer a burst of colour.


DAMP soil is easier to dig up when tackling weeds with long tap roots, such as dandelions and thistles. CHOOSE goodsized plants and fill the space as winter growth is limited. Raise containers on pot feet to prevent waterlogging.


This festive favourite is lovely throughout the year but truly comes into its own in winter with a shin to its green leaves plus brilliant red berries.


These are splendid evergreens are true stars of borders and pots during December and January, providing glossy foliage and luscious berries. Buy male and female plants because the female needs a male nearby in order to produce the best show.





This member of the Sorbus family includes many berry-producing trees that are top bird attractions in early winter. Rowan trees are manageable, and adorned with berries once autumn starts. Enjoy a feast for the eyes before it becomes a feast for birds.


76 SHIRE MAGAZINE | November/December 2020

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Gate Expectations

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Trees, Shrubs & Bedding Plants GARDEN CENTRE & SHOW SITE OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK 9am to 5.30pm MONDAY to SATURDAY 10am to 4pm SUNDAY

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23/10/2020 15:47

GreenLiving Living Eating for the envir nment Food production is a significant cause of global environmental change – in fact it’s responsible for up to 30 per cent of greenhouse gases. But you can take action to reduce its impact


hen we consider ways to help the planet, we don’t often think about how our own diet could be having an effect. Now a large-scale study investigating the environmental impact of animalderived products compared with their plant-based alternatives, using margarine as the example product, has revealed shocking differences. Scientists looked at 212 plant-based spreads and margarines and compared the greenhouse emissions resulting from their production with those of 21 dairy butters. The mean average CO2 equivalent for plant-based spreads and margarines was 3.3kg for each kilogram produced, compared with 12.1kg of CO2 for dairy-based products – an output more than three-and-a-half times greater for dairy.

is in fact about 80 times more powerful than CO2 at trapping heat and is responsible for 25 per cent of global warming. Contrary to the arguments about the environmental benefits of locally sourced meat and dairy produce, the study revealed that when comparing the life cycle of a margarine or plant-based spread with dairy butter, margarine and plant-based spreads consistently had a significantly lower climate impact. Cattle-feed production and livestock rearing contributed significantly to climate change impacts, with a higher impact than most other factors.

Better balance

The life-cycle assessment, the largest of its type to date, concluded that margarines and plantbased spreads have lower impact than butter Trumped-up claims on the land, water and climate. “In order to Cows are a significant source of methane A key ingredient in dairy butter is raw achieve emissions targets designed to limit global milk – and 39 per cent of the greenhouse warming to 1.5°C by 2050, there needs to be a gases come from methane caused by cows burping and breaking fundamental transformation of our food system,” says Sally Smith, wind. Just one 250g pack of dairy butter results in the equivalent head of sustainability at margarine producer Upfield. “We currently of 1kg of cow emissions. And while carbon dioxide regularly rely too heavily on meat and dairy. A shift to regenerative agricultural gets the bad publicity when it comes to climate change, methane practices will be key for both arable and dairy farmers.”

The price of saving the planet A new online calculator is helping families work out the true cost of going green, so they can invest in the environment without breaking the bank


he Sustainable Living Calculator analyses the costs of 20 everyday household items, including apples, pasta, shampoo and toilet roll. To buy every item on the list in the “greenest” possible way would cost a family of four £5,915 over a year. But the equivalent shop, based on non-organic items, or cheaper plastic-wrapped goods than fresh alternatives, would cost the same family just £3,151. This makes green shopping 87 per cent more expensive over the course of the year. A bag of standard carrots costs an average of 75p in Tesco, with its organic equivalent adding nearly a fifth of the price, at 95p. Invest wisely Similarly, a pack

of supermarket-own brand bacon costs just £1.95, while rurally raised bacon from online organic retailers can set you back as much as £4.99.

Know your budget

“There are certainly more pros than cons when buying green,” says personal finance expert Salman Haqqi from consumer website, which developed the Sustainable Living Calculator. “As with all things, you should always budget for your outgoings. On occasion you might be spending a little more to be more sustainable, but the overall impact you can have by making small changes is surely worth it. “By avoiding products wrapped in plastic, eating seasonally and avoiding items with a large carbon footprint, consumers can really have a positive impact on our planet’s future.”

Is going green costing you more money?

Separate research by revealed 43 per cent of adults are happy to spend more on eco-friendly choices if it lessens their impact on the environment. Thirty per cent try to buy local produce, and four in 10 do their best to avoid plastic packaging where they can. The new Sustainable Living Calculator can be found at content/sustainable-living November/December 2020 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 79

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3 2




5 6 9


ts if g ous i or l s G er en rd ga for Treat your green-fingered friends to a gift they will love this Christmas







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

Name Your Own Rose potted gift rose, £38.99, Country Garden Roses in Hadnall, Shropshire; SeedBalls, £6, Ginger & Browns at Blakemere Village, Northwich, Cheshire; Burgon & Ball Passiflora trowel and fork, £23, Farrar & Tanner; Red teapot planter, £14.99, Minshulls in Crewe; White heather planting in dark ceramic container, £65, The Potting Shed in Alderley Edge and Tarporley, Cheshire; Solid brass herb sign, £9.99, The British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry, Shropshire; Love The Glove deco women’s gardening gloves, £15.99, Burgon & Ball; Cast iron watering can garden bell, £29.99, The British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry, Shropshire;


9. Twool Gardener’s Twooly Selection, £9.99, Dobies; 10. Anthurium table top plant in white, £24.99, Dobies; 11. Parlane ceramic pot critter, £19.95, Shawbury Garden Centre in Shrewsbury; 12. Snapdragons and giant sunflowers Growing Pots of Fun, £12.95, Little Pals in Peckforton, Cheshire; 13. Mexican giant cactus grow set, £3.99, The Range; 14. Bees Le Jardinier daffodil tete a tete bulb grow set, £6.99, The Range; 15. Woodstone rooster planter, £17.99, Minshulls in Crewe; 16. Plantpak glass pyramid terrarium, £12.95, Shawbury Garden Centre in Shrewsbury; 17. Vintage metal seed storage tin, £19.99, Gardening Naturally;

80 SHIRE MAGAZINE | November/December 2020

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Join Cats Protection Volunteers needed for new Cat Action Team Cats Protection's Wrexham Adoption Centre is creating a new group to help feral and community cats live safer and healthier lives, and needs enthusiastic and passionate volunteers to join its brand new Cat Action Team. It is looking for: • A Welfare and Engagement Team Leader to coordinate, encourage and support volunteers. • A Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) Team Leader to plan and support the work of the TNR team. • Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) Volunteers to undertake practical work to help manage the feral cat population. • Lost and Found Volunteers to help reunite lost cats with their families, liaising with owners and highlighting cases in the local area. Could you give a little time to make a B IG difference to the lives of needy cats? For more details on these roles and their requirements, please visit our website.

For further information please contact:

E: Reg Charity 203644 (England and Wales) SC037711 (Scotland)

081_SHIRE_ND2020.indd 1

W: : @cpwrexham

23/10/2020 15:48

Meet the Expert Shire talks to Lisa Watkins, a keeper at West Midland Safari Park, Kidderminster

Stud Services | Friendly breeding stock & pets | Mid Wales

WHAT IS YOUR ROLE AT THE SAFARI PARK? Head keeper of ungulates (hoofed animals) and the African Village. WHAT IS YOUR DAILY KEEPER ROUTINE? I carry out a morning brief with the team, to pass on and discuss anything expected to happen that day. I then assist the team with various tasks, preparation of feeds and ensuring our guests are safe and have an enjoyable day out. I also have to carry out paperwork such as rotas, animal dietary reviews, and “Our work closely Santa with the vet Safari is team to ensure a magical good health of day out” all our stock. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ANIMAL AT THE PARK? I have a huge soft spot for giraffe and rhino! WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BEING A KEEPER? There are so many great things. I love the variety of species we have at WMSP, many of which are endangered, and I feel privileged to spend time with them. We have an amazing team who are dedicated to providing the animals with everything they deserve, so it is great to be a part of that, as well as contributing to conservation, education and research.

DO YOU LOOK AFTER ANY BABY ANIMALS? Yes! We recently had a baby Indian rhino male called Inesh, the first calf of his kind to be born at WMSP. He is extremely cute and growing very fast! TELL US AN INTERESTING FACT ABOUT THE ANIMALS YOU LOOK AFTER Giraffes only have seven vertebrae in their necks – the same as humans. HOW DID YOU BECOME AN ANIMAL KEEPER? While at school I volunteered at a stables, kennels and cattery. I then studied animal care at college and volunteered at WMSP. I worked my way up from there. Studying is important, but experience goes a long way. WHAT IS HAPPENING AT WMSP OVER THE NEXT FEW MONTHS? Christmas is nearly here, which means our annual Santa Safari will be taking place. It’s a magical day out for the whole family, combining a four-mile safari drive-through with a visit to Santa in his grotto. We also have our Breakfast with Santa event, when the whole family can join Santa at Spring Grove House for an special Christmas breakfast. For more details about Christmas at WMSP, visit

07882 135027 | Kinnerton, Presteigne, LD8 2PF

stay with the alpacas at

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

Get in touch 01691 661270

82 SHIRE MAGAZINE | November/December 2020

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23/10/2020 10:41 15:52 23/10/2020


HIGH HOPES FOR A BRIGHTER FUTURE Our friends at the RSPB are ending a difficult year on a positive note, with their fingers crossed for a better future for Wales’s wildlife, birds and open spaces


ver the past few months, world-changing events have unfolded before our eyes. All in all, there’s plenty to think about in 2020. No one would blame you for feeling a bit overwhelmed with everything that’s happened, and there’s no shame in feeling a little daunted by what’s to come. But there is always a silver lining – and even though it has been a turbulent year, there are reasons to feel positive about the future. One example is the way we as a society have reacted to the Covid-19 pandemic, and it has given us a room for some cautious optimism. At the start of the year, when the pandemic was spreading from country to country, “RSPB we made massive changes to the way we lived Cymru has in order to stop it. Huge political and economic come up changes affected us all, altering everything from with a fivethe way we work to the way we socialise. step plan” All this change happened very quickly. And our reaction has encouraged us to feel positive because it goes to show that when push comes to shove, and when the will and leadership is there, we can act with purpose to make a real difference.

Time to tackle important issues

This gives us hope that we can do the same again in order to tackle two other big challenges. Right now, as you read this, the natural world is in trouble. We are in the middle of climate and nature crises. We are wreaking havoc on our environment

DID YOU KNOW? Wales has pledged to have a carbon-neutral public sector by 2030 There is still time to make a difference

This isn’t just a problem for countries on the other side of the planet. We’ve all seen the pictures of the polar ice sheets melting, or the terrifying footage of wildfires raging in different parts of the world, from the rainforests of the Amazon to the Arctic tundra. But this is happening here as well, and it has been estimated that one in six species in Wales is under risk of going extinct. Our climate is also changing rapidly and warming at an unprecedented speed. This is the reality we are now living in.

Not too late

This paints a bleak picture, but it isn’t too late. There’s an opportunity to take strong action to ensure that as we recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are also tackling the nature and climate crises head-on. We call this a green recovery, and RSPB Cymru has come up with a five-step plan that could help lead the way.

The five steps 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

The climate crisis is affecting Wales too

by destroying precious habitats, fishing the seas empty, farming unsustainably and polluting our air and water. Our actions are pushing plants, birds, animals, insects and everything between to the brink. It is thought that a million plant and animal species will become extinct unless drastic action is taken.

Creating sustainable jobs and infrastructure Strong environmental protections Resilient and nature-rich land and seas Healthy citizens Welsh government leadership

The five steps are the headlines for a whole suite of projects and policies that could help us start a green recovery. Working with communities and people across the country will be crucial to make this work. These steps can be a way for Wales to lead the way and show the rest of the world how it’s done. We have already shown an example by being the first nation to declare a climate emergency, and we were trailblazers when we established the Wellbeing for Future Generations Act. Now it’s time to show the way again. If you would like to learn more about RSPB Cymru’s five-step plan for a green recovery, keep an eye on our social media channels for more updates. November/December 2020 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 83

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TOP TREATS FOR PRECIOUS POOCHES When one Shropshire woman discovered that the occasional treats she was giving her beloved pet dog were doing him more harm than good, a new pet business was born


Bes, a five-yearold rare breed podenco ibicenco

Hugo the snoozy dachshund


of the treats we’d been giving him were full of arah had been the proud owner of Riley, a Patterdale terrier, from puppyhood nasty ingredients,” says Sarah. “So I started making Riley his own treats in our kitchen. and loved him dearly, making sure he was well fed and only given occasional treats. So It was a lovely feeling knowing I was giving him a nutritious treat and that I knew exactly when he started suffering bouts of extreme what was in it – and that he loved them!” pain at the age of six, it never occurred to her that it could be food-related. Sarah has now turned the research and development she put into caring for Riley “He suddenly started stopping, hunching his back and looking like he was in terrible into a thriving dog treat business that she pain,” says Sarah. “After many runs from her home in Shropshire. “I started sharing the treats with examinations and tests, our vet the dogs of friends and family, who diagnosed him with quite severe “I started intolerances to many food groups, making Riley loved them too, and before long the Life of Riley was born,” she says. including pork, beef, rabbit and his own The business produces healthy, eggs. It was a huge shock to us treats in our grain-free tasty treats, as well as and the vet stressed that if these kitchen” doggy birthday cakes and paw allergies were ignored, Riley balms. Ingredients are kept to could become seriously ill.” a minimum, and the treats contain no After many hours spent studying canine animal products or preservatives, and nutrition, Sarah discovered that although only natural colours and flavours. They Riley’s main food was doing him no harm, are available from local outlets and farm the commercially produced dog treats he had shops, or visit on occasion were causing his illness. “Many


Casey and Celyn

Dibble, Bugs and Tibbles

A lockdown hobby for a local woman has resulted in the publication of a fundraising book to help wildlife thrive


arole Gowers of Caernarfon has always been a nature lover, but that passion developed into something more focused earlier this year when the lockdown forced more of us to stay at home. “I have a keen interest in all things to with nature and wildlife and also like to take photographs,” says Carole. “During lockdown I was inspired to write poems, mainly about birds but some animals too. “One of my friends, who has lots of birds in her garden, took photographs that she then put on her Facebook page. She gave each bird a name and added little quotations. Her photos and quotations inspired me to write rhyming poems. I then decided to put a collection of poems and photos together and create my very first photo-poetry book.” Carole decided to self-publish the book, which included learning how to use publishing software. “It was a mammoth

task, but I finally released Furries, Birds and Rhyming Words. The book contains more than 30 poems and over 70 colour photographs – mainly taken by my friend Vivien Vardy-Smith and myself.” All profits from the book will be split evenly between North Wales Wildlife Trust and Many Tears Animal Rescue. “There’s no financial reward for me,” says Carole. “My reward came from finding the time to be creative during lockdown and really enjoying writing the poems, and helping to make other people happy and smile. To purchase your copy of Furries, Birds and Rhyming Words, go to and search for “Carole Gowers”.

Biscuit the chorkie


Terry the tortoise

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

84 SHIRE MAGAZINE | November/December 2020

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Penralley House

Historic Luxury Bed and Breakfast in the heart of Wales


A beautiful Georgian town house built about 1774 and extended in 1876, Penralley House has a striking façade of local granite, and a stunning Victorian yellow brick rear overlooking a lush large garden. It has been lovingly restored by Steve and Karen, retaining many of the original features to create a welcoming and relaxing environment. Ask about available plots on


of Caravan Parks in North Wales & Cheshire

The house has a lovely garden with views to the Elan Valley and surrounding countryside. The Elan Valley reservoirs and estate are within 3 miles and

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

tel: 01597 811868 email: Penralley House, South Street, Rhayader, LD6 5BH



Your Dream,Your Lifestyle! Find your next holiday home at: Lloyds Caravan & Lodge Sales Towyn Rd, Towyn, North Wales, LL22 9NW 01745 350 043 or Pensarn, Abergele, LL22 7PW 01745 832 050

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Warm, friendly & welcoming

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ow is the perfect time to The park is set in 14 acres of countryside be planning ahead to see Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. where next year might take you. If you’re looking to get away from it Llawrbetws is an excellent base to all on a perfect escape to the heart of explore north and mid Wales, as you can get to most notable destinations rural Wales, check out the beautiful within 30 minutes. The site setting and great facilities at is close to the renowned Llawrbetws Caravan Park. “Llawrbetws Set in 14 acres of idyllic Rhug Estate Farm shop and is close to countryside, with panoramic the renowned organic drive-through. The estate is well known for its views of the rugged Berwyn Rhug Estate organic bison cattle, and mountains, this is a quiet, Farm Shop peaceful family-run park the caravan park itself is and organic nestled in the heart of rural no stranger to wildlife with north Wales near Corwen. drive-through” views of grazing alpacas, a lot of sheep and Spot the If it’s an authentic country holiday you’re looking for, with dog welcoming guests on site. Owned and run by Geraint and Jane stunning scenery, wildlife and a rural Evans, who have run caravan parks for lifestyle, this site is well worth a visit. more than 30 years, Llawrbetws has The park is positioned between two upgraded facilities including piped gas of the world’s most notable national and WiFi. Book now for next year and parks, with caravans looking out on start planning your perfect escape to the Snowdonia National Park and the country. the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley

Llawrbetws is a great base for exploring north and mid Wales


ased at the British Ironworks Centre in Oswestry, Shropshire Sculpture Park is famous for its safari park of sculptures, mostly in metal, including its gorilla made of spoons. The centre also has various pieces of art and points of interest, including Knife Angel and Gorilla Apocalypse, to enjoy as you wander around exploring the grounds at your own pace. There are also two beautiful showrooms filled with a variety of unique products, from home and interiors to hardware and garden. The park also features an eclectic variety of handmade sculptures and artwork created by artisans from across the country and a resident silversmith, who can be visited at work in his studio space.


ove2Stay aims to transform caravan and camping holidays forever and is starting with its 22-acre resort near Shrewsbury, Shropshire. Here you can get back in touch with nature as you explore a new kind of UK holiday park, with instant access to a host of activities. All the touring caravan and motorhome pitches are superbly placed, extra wide and perfect for any weather. There are 120 fully serviced pitches, and you can choose a spot in the family zones or the adult-only area. If you’d rather the pitching and setting up was done for you, why not go for the extra luxury that glamping brings? Glamping makes sure you enjoy the best of both worlds, as you and your family can connect with nature and superfast WiFi at the

Love2Stay’s glamping lodges

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A caravan and camping park with a difference

same time. Love2Stay’s family glamping lodges sleep up to six and each lodge is like a home from home all year round, with its own outdoor hot tub, fire pit and sun deck. There are so many activities available on site at Love2Stay, it can be hard to choose what to do. The diverse selection includes swimming, kayaking, Zorbing, den building, bootcamps, cycling and more!

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hinking of booking a holiday or even buying your own slice of holiday heaven next year? Then it’s worth checking out the Lyons Holiday Park at Winkups, near Rhyl. This established site, operated by a company that has years of expertise in holiday parks, is situated in an ideal spot in the heart of Towyn, just The park is just steps from the beach minutes from the beach. Younger visitors will love the adventure There’s plenty to play area and there’s even a separate keep everybody entertained at Lyons Winkups, with the seashore soft play area for the under-fives so just a few steps away and a funyour holiday will be one for everyone packed entertainment to remember from the moment you arrive. programme running “The entertainment There is a launderette throughout the season. in the cabaret Guests can also enjoy the available and an on-site store makes sure you newly built swimming lounge brings won’t run out of supplies, pool, a hot tub and sports holidaymakers bar, the comfortable but if you don’t feel like back to Winkups coffee lounge and the cooking there is also food year after year” available at the lounge amusement arcade. area or in the American Diner, or you can even grab a bite to eat from the chip shop. The eight-screen sports bar proves popular late into the evening and the entertainment in the cabaret lounge is one of the things that brings holidaymakers back to Winkups year after year. With deals available right now, and many holiday prices for 2021 fixed at 2020 prices, now is the time to start looking ahead to your next getaway in north Wales. The newly built swimming pool

Picturesque Prestatyn is a short journey away


ith a large number of touring pitches, all with electrical hookups and a newly refurbished shower and toilet block, Lyons St Mary’s offers a comfortable base just down the road from the sandy beaches of north Wales.

Lyons St Mary’s provides a friendly, family feel atmosphere. The Crown carvery and public house is just a twominute walk away, and public transport – including a summer open-top bus service – makes it easy to get to the nearby towns of Prestatyn and Rhyl, or out further into countryside. Ideal for the lovers of all things equine, Bridlewood Riding Centre is just down the road from the park and guests at Lyons St Mary’s enjoy discounted riding lessons and pony trekking sessions. Guests are also welcome on board the free shuttle bus to make use of all the facilities at the flagship park, Lyons Robin Hood.



ronbridge Gorge in Shropshire, a World Heritage Site and the beating heart of the Industrial Revolution, is home to an amazing range of museums. Rocket back to the age of steam and experience life more than 100 years ago at the open-air Blists Hill Victorian Town, or explore the home of British tile design and see galleries packed with dazzling examples from the very best designers at the Jackfield Tile Museum. The Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron explains how this area changed the world forever and, of course, you can walk over the first ever cast-iron bridge, built in 1779 across the River Severn. Marvel at its strength and beauty and find out more about the fascinating era at any one of the many museums on site.

Guests enjoy a large amount of dogwalking space on the park, access to a private fishing lake and a children’s adventure play area all set in peaceful and relaxing surroundings. As part of the Lyons group, St Mary’s enjoys all the benefits and experience of this established company. The organisation has gone from being the very first holiday park in north Wales to being the biggest and best family-run holiday park operator in the area, and is still run by the same family today even after 90 years!

The play area will keep the kids entertained 88 SHIRE MAGAZINE | November/December 2020

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2 stunning holiday parks with so much to offer!

BERWYN VIEW, our new exclusive 8 pitch holiday home development, is ready to view now.

Luxury holiday home lodges with beautiful views and fantastic facilities

Welcome to Llawrbetws Caravan Park A slice of North/Mid Wales can be yours by owning your own caravan holiday home. Llawrbetws Caravan Park is set in the grounds of 14 acres of idyllic countryside with panoramic views of the rugged Welsh Berwyn Mountains, close to the A5 and A494 in an excellent location to explore North and Mid Wales.

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.

Holiday Homes Llawrbetws features 70 fully serviced pitches set within 14 acres, each with mains electric, water and piped gas.

Holiday Accommodation Llawrbetws Uchaf is a large traditional farmhouse featuring six bedrooms, a large family kitchen, traditional garden, hot tub, and a lounge complete with wood burning stove.

01490 460224 Llawrbetws Leisure, Glan-yr-afon, Corwen, Gwynedd, LL21 0HD

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inston Farm Lodges in Ellesmere, Shropshire, is a collection of three stunning cabins offering stylish self-catering breaks for the whole family. The luxurious lodges, which sit right alongside the Shropshire Union Canal, are brand new addition to the farm, and offer beautiful views of the waterway. What better way to enjoy a wellearned peaceful break than by watching narrowboats glide past your window?. There are three beautiful lodges to rent – Kingfisher, Heron and Lapwing – each with two bedrooms, an openplan kitchen/dining/lounge, a large decking and seating area, and outdoor hot tub. French doors open on to the decking area, making it easy to sit back and take in the breathtaking canal views. The lodges also have WiFi and Netflix. Visitors can bring their canoes or kayaks to explore the surrounding countryside by water. Lapwing is also a dedicated dog-friendly lodge, so


Each lodge has its own decking area and hot tub

Enjoy quiet days by the canal

your four-legged friend doesn’t have to miss out on the family getaway. Winston Farm occupies a stunning position in Ellesmere, and is close to many great places to visit, including the Montgomery Canal, which is an important site for nature – in fact, much of it is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest. Nearby Llangollen Canal, which crosses the border between England and Wales, offers a combination of picturesque countryside and breathtaking engineering. The lodges are also within easy reach of a walk along the promenade at The Mere, Ellesmere, which is teeming with wildlife. But while there’s plenty to explore near Winston Farm, once you step into your luxury lodge, you may well decide not to venture out at all! Visit for more information or book at


he gardens at Caerau Uchaf near Bala in Gwynedd were started in 1994, when Toby and Stephanie Hickish moved to a derelict farmhouse in a field with an overgrown hedge. They started on the outside space immediately by levelling lawns and planting yew and beech hedges to provide shelter. As the couple opened up doorways and windows in the house, they used the stone to build the garden walls and began to form a structure. Families with children are particularly welcome at Caerau Uchaf and there is plenty for them to do, including a large sunken trampoline close to the cafe, as well as a fort in the woods and zip wire to keep them busy – or just allow them to enjoy the freedom to explore and invent games in the old-fashioned way.



hen taking a relaxing break, why not let someone else do all the hard work with a fully organised coach tour from an Oswestry firm with decades of experience? Owen’s Travelmaster offers coach tours with the emphasis placed firmly on a high level of comfort, well“There are planned itineraries, excellent service and cuisine. Its holidays have something evening trips for everyone, and include extensive to incredible five-day trips such as the popular break theatre in Cornwall or the Weston-super-Mare shows” adventure that allows holidaymakers to explore the glorious south-west town on the edge of the Mendip Hills, close to the lively cities of Bath and Wells. Shorter breaks include themed tours such as the country and western trip that The firm has many years’ experience

makes a great escape from the cold winter, travelling around north Wales with some memorable musical evenings in Caernarfon. There are days out available too, including Owen’s coach tours include day trips shopping trips to Manchester city centre or the Trafford Centre, and evening trips to incredible theatre shows across the country. With a philosophy of always providing clients with the very best possible holiday, Owen’s has gained an enviable reputation for the care and attention to detail it places on tours. It can even create an itinerary to suit your requirements and offers a wide range of coaches for hire for UK and European trips for any organisation and groups. Keep an eye on for the latest available tours.

90 SHIRE MAGAZINE | November/December 2020

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Arts&Crafts Staying connected

and creative A local artist and lecturer is lending her skills to an online scheme to boost people’s positivity – with art projects they can carry out at home

Rhi Moxon in her studio

rainbows and ‘We love the NHS’ posters, and all sorts of bright and colourful adornments on people’s windows that made me smile. So I had an idea for the Positivity Press project – encouraging people to take up printing at home and spread some cheer.” As she designed her project, Rhi strove to ensure “I was inspired by all the techniques she used were ones anyone could the creative responses follow easily at home – without elaborate equipment. I was seeing pop up “It was important that it was accessible to everyone, everywhere – the regardless of age or prior knowledge of print,” she messages of positivity says. “Printmaking can seem daunting and technical and resilience” when you first start, but in its simplest form it’s just about reproducing marks on paper. It doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. My hope is that people have a go at these projects and it inspires them to find out more about printmaking and developing their own visual language.” Patchwork Town, 2016


hi Moxon from Wrexham is one of a series of artists taking part in Ty Pawb’s Arts At Home series, put together by the Wrexham-based cultural community resource and arts space to help encourage people to discover and develop their artistic side during lockdown. Rhi, who lectures in graphics at Wrexham Glyndwr University, was one of six artists chosen from a list of more than 40 who answered an open call for contributions. Each shared their work and ideas online while Ty Pawb was closed in response to the current crisis. “I responded to the open call at the start of lockdown,” says Rhi. “I’d just started mucking around with time-lapse videos and filming myself making collages and bookbinding and all the other stuff I play around with when I don’t feel like drawing – and that’s how I was feeling a lot at the beginning of lockdown!”

Lockdown inspiration

As she thought about the work she would produce for her videos, Rhi began to draw inspiration from the art she saw being made by members of the public in response to the crisis. “I was inspired by all the little creative responses I was seeing pop up everywhere, messages of positivity and resilience both online and off,” says Rhi. “Every day, on my morning run, I was seeing more and more

Taking her time The changes brought about by lockdown proved to have some unexpected positives for Rhi. “Lockdown brought with it space and time to play and experiment. I think you have to carve space in your mind for creativity and

sometimes with the hustle and bustle of daily life, that space gets filled up. Having this somewhat monotonous time at home has actually helped the creative mind.” To find out more about the Ty Pawb Arts At Home project, visit www. Rhi’s work includes illustrations (above) and printwork

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4th November & 3rd December, Weaving with Trevor Blackburn Beautiful shawls and scarves made using silk, alpaca camel and more.

Welsh landscapes

5th November, Handmade cards by Angela A large and varied selection of handmade cards, with anniversary and winter cards a speciality.

The Ruthin Craft Centre hosts a stunning exhibition by one of Wales’s most popular artists

Don’t miss your chance to see internationally renowned artist Eleri Mills’ work in Ruthin


he latest exhibition from artist Eleri Mills, Egni: A Decade Of Creativity, is taking place at Ruthin Craft Centre until 21st November. Eleri is a Welsh artist who depicts a multi-layered vision of Wales that is highly personal and timeless. Her work has been exhibited throughout Europe and America and around the globe, including at the Museums Of Modern Art in Kyoto and Tokyo, Museu Textil d’Indumentaria in Barcelona and the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas in Madrid. But her home is always at the heart of everything she does.

Where the heart is

Eleri is best known for her poetic paintings of Welsh landscapes, created from the place she lives and works in rural mid Wales, where she

– the international art fair for sculpture, objects and functional art. More recently, Eleri has exhibited with the Ruthin Craft Centre at Collect, the international art fair organised by the Crafts Council. Her work is also featured in national collections including the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Recent freedom

Eleri is one of Wales’s most successful artists. During her 40-year career there was also born and brought up. have been many high In 2010 Eleri won the Arts points, including winning Council Of Wales’s Creative the gold medal at the 1987 Wales Ambassador award, National Eisteddfod. followed by a three-month However, during the past 10 residency in New York at years, life has enabled Eleri to Columbia concentrate solely on her work, University exploring many avenues of and a creativity, unbounded and with showing at total autonomy. The current SOFA NYC exhibition at Ruthin Craft Centre surveys that decade “Eleri is best known for and reflects on her poetic paintings Eleri’s creative of Welsh landscapes, journey. created from the place she lives”

6th November, Crafty Sisters Handmade jewellery made using resin, fused glass and gemstones, including matching sets. 7th & 8th November and 5th & 6th December, Gill Benjamin Local artist Gill will be painting, and will have some stunning paintings for sale too. 12th & 13th November, pen and ink artist Huw Vaughan Jones Huw draws wonderful pictures, mainly of transport, places of interest and animals, and takes private commissions. 14th & 15th November and 12th & 13th December, artist Thelma Evans Thelma paints flowers and landscapes in pretty pastels on canvas in a very delicate style. 17th & 18th November, Jackie at Jewels Jewellery for all ages, with a varied selection of beads and stones. Jackie can also do some repairs. 21st & 22nd November and 10th December, Liz at Femme Fatale Liz makes lovely bags, with many being suitable for special occasions, plus some more casual options. 28th & 29th November, Eco Silver Jewellery by Sandra Roberts Sandra uses reclaimed silver to make her unique pieces, which are inspired by nature. 1st & 2nd December, artist Shirley McGaughty Shirley uses pastels for portraits of pets, landscapes and people from your photos. 17th & 18th December, Elaine at Cherry Bea Pretty and unusual pieces of jewellery using lovely stones and sparkly crystals, perfect for the festive season. 22nd & 23rd December, Marie at Earth Deva Unusual statues and bowls, featuring dragons, wolves, fairies and cats. For more, visit

November/December 2020 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 93

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The Old Union Workhouse

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ARTS & CRAFTS A R T I N YO U R A R E A 28th November – 9th January, Beverley Bell-Hughes: Tidal Echo, Ruthin Craft Centre A new display from north Walesbased ceramicist Beverley BellHughes, a gold medal Eisteddfod winner whose work is inspired by the coastline around her. There is also a group exhibition, Monochrome, exploring the many areas of craft and applied art. The Ruthin Craft Centre has changed its opening hours so it can safely showcase the creative environments, and access is now strictly with booking in advance between 11am and 4pm, Wednesday to Saturday. Until 30th November, For The Love Of Art, The Artists Gallery, Bromfield, Ludlow This autumn the Artists’ Gallery – a cooperatively-run gallery space – is proud to open its doors to a wide range of local artists and creative practitioners. The gallery is open daily and safety at this event is paramount – visitor numbers will be controlled in order for the maximum number to be able to come and appreciate the high standard of work on display. www. Until 23rd December, The Ty Pawb Open, Ty Pawb, Wrexham Welcoming back visitors to Ty Pawb’s galleries, this new exhibition follows an open call during which more than 350 artists each submitted up to three works for consideration. There will be 121 artworks shown across both gallery spaces, including work by 60 Welsh artists. The Williamson Open 2020, Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, online The Williamson Open Art & Photography Exhibition has gone virtual for 2020. Hosting an online exhibition rather than a physical one is a first for the Williamson Art Gallery. Although it cannot quite replicate the experience of visiting the galleries in person, the gallery’s staff have worked hard to document the exhibition in a way that they hope still emphasises the talent and accomplishments of the selected artists on display.


by David Atkinson

Once again you have shown your creative side and overwhelmed our inbox at Shire with submissions for our photo competition. This issue’s topic celebrates the natural world – and you didn’t disappoint! We’ve printed as many as possible here but don’t worry if you’ve missed out this time, as we have another contest for the next edition. We feel we’re all in need of a bit of brightness as this strange year ends, so we are challenging you to take a creative image based on the theme A Burst Of Colour. Whether you’re inspired by the rainbow images so prevalent in 2020 or just something blooming in the garden, just make sure it’s bold, bright and colourful! Send your entries to us at Good luck!

by David Atkinson

by Sam Hulse

by Kathryn Hall

by Kathryn Hall

by Mike Dunn

by Norman Marshall

by Kenneth Davies

by Margaret Davies

by Vanessa Alliband

by Margaret Davies

by Sam Hulse

by Kenneth Davies

by Ben Goodall

by Callum Turner

by Mike Dunn

November/December 2020 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 95

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’TIS THE SEASON… Winter may be packed with fun and festivities, but for some people the darker months are a genuine struggle


easonal affective disorder, or SAD, has become a common term over the past few decades. It’s not always taken seriously: after all, who doesn’t get a bit glum as the nights get darker, the days grow colder and the weather pushes us to our limits? But the impact of the season on our general wellbeing isn’t something to be taken lightly. Seasonal mood shifts can leave you feeling as though you have less energy, causing you to become less social, lose interest in favourite activities, crave carbs and see a change in sleep patterns – either having trouble sleeping or wanting to sleep more than usual. All these are natural reactions to external factors, and scientists know there are many biological and physiological reasons our moods tend to change with the season, one of the main ones being light – or rather, the lack of it.

Light fantastic

Studies have shown that the human body produces less serotonin – one of the hormones that helps to regulate mood and contributes to our feelings of wellbeing and happiness – in the winter months. The change in the seasons can also influence the body’s production of melatonin, another natural substance that plays an important role in sleep timing and mood.


This is pretty sound advice – as is the advice that you should never stick anything in your ear smaller than your elbow. Ingore this advice and not only will you probably push ear wax further into your ear canal, you also run the risk of doing serious damage by cutting

Alongside these chemical changes that can have an impact on how we feel, the weather also genuinely gets us down – physically as well as mentally. Meteorological changes can affect the immune system, putting it under strain as we head into the winter. This is one of the reasons there is a surge of colds and flu as the weather changes, which can also lead to a sense of prolonged fatigue and a sense of apathy. DID YOU

Serious issue

KNOW? Although most common in winter, SAD can occur at any time

This evidence helps us understand and accept the way we feel as the seasons change, and it is something most of us can manage and learn to live with. There are plenty of proven ways of avoiding the winter blues – such as getting outdoors whenever possible, enjoying plenty of exercise and seeing friends and socialising – but for about five per cent of people this generalised low mood can turn into something more serious. SAD isn’t a very well-understood condition, but it causes depression that can range in severity from mild to debilitating for months at a time. The good news, though, is that SAD is treatable, with light therapy, increased outdoor activity or even medication. So if you think you’re suffering with something more than a seasonal sulk, or if you feel your symptoms need treatment, SAD could be the culprit and it is worth investigating through professional diagnosis to avoid suffering a serious depression.

the ear canal, making a hole in the eardrum or dislocating delicate hearing bones, which can lead to hearing loss, dizziness and ringing.

Listening to loud music can cause deafness

There is some truth in this, although perhaps not as much as your parents made you believe. Listening to music that’s too loud can damage the cells and membranes in the inner ear (cochlea); in the short term it may leave them feeling “full” and affect hearing for a while. But it’s listening to loud noises or music over and over again that leads to more permanent damage and significant hearing loss.

Your ears burn when someone is talking about you

Itching or buzzing in the left ear is said to mean you’re being badmouthed by someone or are in for a run of bad luck. You won’t be surprised to hear there is no science behind this – it’s based in folklore. In many cultures, the left side of things including the body is linked with evil, sin and the devil. That also means it isn’t time to celebrate if your right ear starts to itch, no matter who says you may be in for some good fortune…

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It’s the season to sparkle, so add some glitter to your wardrobe and get set to shine! 10

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Roman embellished flapper dress, £65, Tweedmill Shopping Outlet in St Asaph, Denbighshire; Big Metal London gold-plated brass earrings, £11.50, The Stars & Grey; Tiered skirt, £485, Abi Fisher in Willington, Cheshire; Nuovo Borgo straight-leg trousers, £189, Olivia May; Head Over Heels Aimees pointed toe stiletto court shoes, £45, John Lewis & Partners; Limited edition sequinned dress, £79.99, Zara; Long-sleeve foil top, £29.99, SilkFred; Metallic thread knit cardigan, £25.99, Zara;


9. Ellie velvet wrap top, £55, Boden; 10. Thomas Sabo rose gold heart bracelet, £98, Mococo in Chester; 11. Beatrizz cross-body bag, £33, Dune London; 12. Envy sequin cami top, £25, Peacocks; 13. Rose sequin maxi dress, £140, Monsoon; 14. Klass paisley print asymmetric hem tunic, £24, Tweedmill Shopping Outlet in St Asaph, Denbighshire; 15. HotSquash tiered maxi skirt, £79, Debenhams; 16. Boks & Baum Audrey necklace, £250, Olivia May; 17. ASOS Design Hocco block-heeled sandals, £25, ASOS;

November/December 2020 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 97

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Berwick hoodie, £85, Reiss; Goodyear Ribble slipper, £16.95, Cherry Tree Country Clothing in Ruthin, Denbighshire; Barbour Monty slippers, £59.95, Vaughan Davies in Mold, Flintshire; Baileys half-zip sweater, £89.95, Trefor Jones in Ruthin, Denbighshire; Cosyshoe slippers, £32, Falke; Santiago cashmere blend hoodie, £115, Reiss; Colmar slim fit hoodie, £72 (reduced from £180), Stephen Muldoon Bespoke in Prestbury, Cheshire; Jack & Jones Wind hoodie, £35, Debenhams; Fine cotton striped pyjamas, £55, Peter Christian;

10. Pal Zileri wool drawstring trousers, £153 (reduced from £255), Stephen Muldoon Bespoke in Prestbury, Cheshire; 11. Brushed cotton check pyjama bottoms, £42, The White Company; 12. Brindisi 61 pure silk reversible eye mask, £65, Derek Rose London; 13. Ledbury 30 cotton batiste lounge trousers, £95, Derek Rose London; 14. ASOS Design longer length dressing gown, £35, ASOS; 15. Aran Crafts Irish Aran crew-neck sweater, £54.95, Cherry Tree Country Clothing in Ruthin, Denbighshire; 16. Thermoball™ V Traction mules, £50, The North Face;

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DID YOU KNOW? The world’s oldest marathon is the Boston event, which dates back to 1897

More people than ever took up running during lockdown, and they’re keeping it up now there are more routes and events available. So is now the time to tackle the big one – a marathon?


ith more than two million people in the UK now describing themselves as “regular runners”, it’s no surprise that running is among the nation’s favourite ways to stay fit and active. And when the world ground to a halt this year, with most of us advised to go out and exercise once a day, more people than ever laced up their trainers and decided to get running. The NHS running plan for absolute beginners, Couch to 5K, enjoyed record participation – more than 850,000

people downloaded the app between March and the end of June – and the sight of newbie joggers pounding the pavements was a common one across the Shire patch. But once you’ve mastered the basics, perhaps it’s time to take this motivation to the next level and aim for a marathon?

The next step

Running 26.2 miles is no easy feat, but experts say that with the right training, over the correct period of time and with a decent fitness level anyone can complete a marathon. If you’ve just taken up running, or have just mastered a 5k, the key is to build up gradually to increase your body’s endurance ability – slow and steady is the way. It’s also vital to take rest days or you’ll risk serious injury. There are numerous training plans available online, mostly for free, that will give you an idea of how to build up from your current level in a matter of months. And it will take that long – push too far too fast and your body may well never forgive you! In general, a proper marathon training plan will take a minimum of 16 to 20 weeks, during which time you’ll be

GOD’S LITTLE MOUNTAIN Shire’s resident rambler Clive Williams takes on a truly divine walk around Shropshire


expected to run three times a week. If you can’t commit to that schedule, it may well take longer – the key is not to rush.

Get the gear

One of the reasons running is so popular is its affordability. Most new starters can get a long way with a cheap pair of trainers, there are no gym memberships to keep up and you can fit your training around your other commitments. But if you’re serious about taking running to the next level, it’s worth investing in the right gear. Good shoes and proper running socks are invaluable investments. And there’s no limit to the amount you can spend on clothes. But the main investments you need to make to become a marathon contender are time and dedication. You won’t get there overnight, but with the right approach you’ll be on your marks in no time.

making a perfect habitat for wildlife such as woodpeckers, and dippers can be seen bobbing about in the streams. The walk transports you from the relative flatlands of Shropshire to the amazing little hill topped with a painted trig point. The summit is also the location of a former Iron Age hill fort, and from a distance the distinctive hill can also give the appearance of a sleeping dragon. This may seem fanciful, but the prospect of a plume of smoke would have been quite possible millions of years ago when the hill was a steaming volcano. us In the car park, there’s an information board pointing out two colour-coded waymarked routes – one easy, the other quite steep. The reward for completing either is a view from the summit that has a definite wow factor – on “From a a clear day there’s the chance of seeing the Berwyn distance it mountains as well as the Shropshire hills, the landmarks of Shrewsbury and the huge chimney at Ironbridge. looks like

hropshire’s romantic novelist and poet Mary Webb called Earl’s Hill “God’s Little Mountain” in her 1917 novel Gone to Earth – and she describes it perfectly. The land that stretches to the summit was so inspiring to her that it also features in her a sleeping novels The Golden Arrow and Precious Bane. dragon” Earl’s Hill and the adjoining Pontesford Hill sit above the quiet Shropshire villages of Pontesford and Pontesbury on the A488. To start this walking adventure, take the turn signposted to Earl’s Hill Nature Reserve off the A488 next to the tractor garage outside Pontesbury (postcode SY5 0UH). The lane is narrow, so please take care.

For more information visit

Starting point

There is a small, free car park at the base of the hills that is open all year round. The area is a nature reserve covering 46 hectares and belonging to Shropshire Wildlife Trust. The wooded lower slopes have an abundance of hazel, oak and wildflowers, 100 SHIRE MAGAZINE | November/December 2020

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Cambrian Credit Union has opened a new Rhyl branch and its general manager Ann Francis can hardly contain her excitement


e opened the doors of Cambrian Credit Union’s new branch at 83 High Street, Rhyl – previously the home of a high-cost credit company – on International Credit Union Day. We couldn’t have timed it better because not only does the new office help us expand affordable and ethical financial services to people in north Wales, it also gives a clear message that payday lenders are on their way out. A number of other credit unions in Wales have moved into new areas this year, replacing highcost lenders. This expansion comes as a combination of tightened Financial “A clear Conduct message Authority that payday regulations and lenders are compensation on their claims saw way out” the demise of payday lenders. Last year, we saved our members around £2m in loan repayments – that’s money that stays in our communities. The money that is saved with a credit union is lent responsibly to others in the community at

Ann Francis on ITV Wales news

affordable rates. There are no external shareholders; our focus is simply on providing the best services to our members. Across Wales around 80,000 people are members of a credit union and have £44m in savings and £25m in loans, an increase of around 25 per cent over five years. Meanwhile, there are more than 150 payroll partners in Wales – employers that help their staff save or borrow with a credit union. We have worked incredibly hard to increase accessibility to ethical and affordable financial services in these difficult times. We all need help sometimes, and everyone should have access to fair and ethical financial support.

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The Mayor of Rhyl, Councillor Ellie Chard, says: “I am delighted that an ethical savings and loan company such as Cambrian Credit Union is moving to our town centre. At a time when a lot of people are struggling financially, I would urge them to access the union for fair and reasonable financial resources.”

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23/10/2020 16:06

Motoring Renault Zoe GT Line R135 Z.E. DID YOU KNOW? A new electric car is registered every nine minutes in the UK

The 2020 revamp for the third generation of the Renault Zoe is extremely comprehensive, says Bob Hickman hen it comes to the basic styling of its popular small electric car, the Zoe, Renault’s attitude seems to be if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But under the skin there have been plenty of changes. A 245-mile range makes the Zoe a serious contender in the super mini range and will perhaps convert some petrol devotees to electric power. There is a power choice, between the 100KWR 135 and 80KWR 110 motors. The all-new 50kW battery is capable of up to 245 miles – an increase of 32 per cent from its previous incarnation. Plug it into the mains overnight and it will be fully charged in the morning. A quick charge at the supermarket will top it up; the big service station chargers can give 90-mile capacity in 30-40 minutes. Renault will also equip your house with a 7kW charger to allow rapid charging. One of the major selling points of the Zoe has always been its chic and stylish appearance. The remodelled version has different bumpers, incorporating LED headlights, and LED rear fog lights have also been added. The basic model benefits from air conditioning, digital instrumentation, DAB radio and automatic wipers.

If you step up to Iconic, you get climate control, wireless phone charging, satellite navigation and rear parking sensors. My particular test vehicle was the topspecification GT Line, which has a much larger infotainment system, front parking sensors and a rear parking camera. The five-door Zoe is primarily designed for a family with children; you could carry four adults, but rear seat space is limited.

Great around town

As is no surprise with an electric vehicle, the Zoe’s CO2 measurement is zero. Renault claims that approximately 134bhp is achievable with the R135, along with 0-60 in 9.5 seconds and a top speed of 87mph. In most cases, a Zoe’s life will be spent in and around towns, but on a lengthy journey incorporating dual carriageways and motorways, we found the Zoe more than adequate. FACTS AT A GLANCE


• • • • • • • •

In fact, to drive the Zoe is a bit of a revelation – 245Nm of torque gives rocket-like standing starts, while around town this responsiveness makes darting through traffic a mere breeze and even a joy in certain circumstances. The GT Line as tested has an on-theroad price of £28,620. This is high for a supermini, but you’re getting an awful lot of technology for that price. Such is Renault’s confidence in the EV Zoe, there is a five-year 100,000-mile warranty on the vehicle and a whopping eightyear, 100,000-mile battery warranty. My only reservation is that I would have loved to have tested the Zoe in the depth of winter, when it was necessary to put on the heaters, heated seats and headlamps, and then to see what happens to the 245-mile range. But I can see nothing but continued success for the Zoe as more and more of us consider electric or hybrid vehicles.



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Finance MEET THE EXPERT BEAUMONT WEALTH A financial crisis sounds like bad news for pensions – but proper fund management and a diversified portfolio can mean the opposite, says adviser Mark Evans In a pension portfolio, certain investments will behave very differently in different circumstances. How does Beaumont deal with this?

We review our portfolios every quarter, and make capital adjustments if necessary. We use certain economic indicators to decide whether we think the world is at risk or is likely to be safe. If we think it’s perilous, we will sell certain percentages of equities and move it into cash. If we are correct and there’s a blip in the markets, we will lose less money. This manages any client losses quite well. At the moment there is massive liquidity because, of course, we know we’re in a crisis. The crisis will eventually come to a conclusion. The government in the last budget produced huge spending plans and this would normally add some inflationary pressure. This has been put off by Covid, but the adjustment will come perhaps in the next two or three years.

Who makes these forecasts and decisions at Beaumont?

This is our investment committee, which I chair, and we have external consultants we use for economic forecasting. This happens behind the scenes, as it were, and we have discretionary powers because we have to act quickly. It means clients can rest easy while the committee does these adjustments. The principal reason is to minimise loss – if you can reduce your losses in the bad times, you will make more money overall. We also take a strategic view every quarter, which is about which assets to hold in the medium to long term, and what percentages we want – in emerging markets for example. What percentage do we want in America? Is there anything we want to avoid? Working with the Beaumont advisers

Is this tailored to suit individual clients?

Every client has an individual risk profile, and their investments match this. So for example, in European equities somebody with a higher risk will have a higher percentage of this, and those with a lower risk profile will have a lower percentage. We’ll analyse those

assets and decide how we will participate in European equities, which funds we want to hold in Europe, if we want to hold on to active funds and so on. In our client review we look at the level of volatility – with higher risk you’ll have more investment in equity, for example. So you’ll get bigger swings and potentially higher returns. With lower-risk profiles, you’ll have fewer international equities and when the market moves, you’ll move less. “We make a sensible return in a planned way that people can rely on”

What are the different investments that make up portfolios?

The first thing you hold is equities – stocks and shares – which give potentially higher returns but have greater risk. International equities can have really high returns, but also have bigger downsides in bad times. Being an active equities investor, you can also take a long-term view. There are always issues in the world. You could say that fossil fuels have got a limited lifespan, for example. Interestingly, in the past year ethical funds have performed well, whereas it used to be an area where returns were not as good. This is having an effect on companies’ behaviour more widely as they are seeing better returns.

What are the other main elements of an investment portfolio?

You’ve got fixed interest, which is Bonds, Gilts, International, Treasury Notes, Euro Bonds. These are affected by interest rates and the borrower’s ability to repay and interest rates to be on steady decline for the last 27 years. So bond prices are historically high, and yields are very low. Now, at some point, interest rates are going to go up, and bond prices are going to go down. So that is something to be interested in. Another area is commercial property. Office use is down, but this category also includes warehouses which are seeing a huge growth thanks to online shopping. The other element we use is cash, except we don’t use foreign currency as the fluctuations are too unpredictable. We make a sensible return in a planned way that people can live on and rely on. Beaumont Wealth So these the four main elements Oswestry Office that make a portfolio: equities, 01691 670524 fixed interest vehicles, property Chester Office and cash. But before doing 01244 621762 anything you’ve got to understand the market and speak to the fund Shrewsbury Office managers. We’re always interested 01743 297751 in their processes and seeing that Knutsford Office their process is repeatable rather 01565 748144 than just “having a punt”. November/December 2020 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 103

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





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Family lawyer Elizabeth Hassell on navigating Christmas during a separation ho could have predicted can help you get through it. a global pandemic Discuss arrangements for and the changes to everyday contact for the children well life it has meant? Throw into ahead of the holidays – the the mix “the new normal”, last thing a family needs is “furlough”, “social distancing” arguments about where a child and “lockdown”, and the impact is to spend Christmas Day. on society has been huge. Discuss spending limits If a relationship or marriage for entertaining and presents, was under strain at the and always discuss Christmas beginning of 2020, those plans openly, particularly as stress fractures will Covid restrictions may certainly have borne mean that mixing with further pressure in relatives is impossible. “Not every the past few months. process Divorce work Seek advice needs to be has its particular acrimonious” A specialist family lawyer challenges at will help with practical present. Assets can advice in a separation. be difficult to value, income This can be anything from streams can be far from constant dealing with shared accounts and the availability for housing and social media to the valuation for a party or parties to move and tax implications when to can be difficult. Pension running a family business. pots have fluctuated, and Not every process needs savings have been raided. to be acrimonious and our However, once a couple clients find it helps to know makes a decision to part, it’s that there are various methods vital to address legalities. To do of dealing with a family law nothing is often not an option situation, from traditional and can be dangerous, leaving litigation and mediation to collaborative law, a round-theone or both parties vulnerable. It can also cause a breakdown table process with a commitment not to go to court. of parental relationship, with parents unable to communicate about raising their children. Elizabeth Hassall is part of Jolliffe & Co LLP’s Festive frailties experienced Family Law This time of year can be team. To contact her, call fraught for any relationship 01244 356579 or email but is particularly challenging when families are separated. There are a few things that

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



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

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

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

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Join the Shire team Little things make life special

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

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

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onnie Besley, new headmaster at Abberley Hall School, Worcestershire, is passionate about the benefits of nature on our mental and physical wellbeing. And he is determined to share his long-standing love of treehouses as an escape from the stresses of modern life. “When I first visited Abberley Hall, I was stunned by its setting – acres of woodland, lakes and countryside where the children can run wild,” he says. “What particularly caught my eye was a treehouse, which took me back to my own childhood. “We rarely make time to stop and enjoy simple pleasures that are crucial to children’s mental health. Research shows that the pressures of exams, changing relationships, celebrity culture, body image and social media have triggered Mr Besley and family clinically diagnosable mental illness in one in 10 children aged between five and 16.



very year, thousands of overseas students are educated at independent schools across the UK. When their school closes for half-term and exeat weekends, they need a host family to provide a home away from home. Pippa’s Guardians has been providing high-quality guardianship services for overseas students for more than 20 years and is looking to increase the number of host families in the organisation. Families should be welcoming and interested in other cultures. Having children of similar ages

Abberley Hall’s treehouse

“More schools are embracing the forest school movement and seeing the positive impact of outdoor learning. It is crucial for everyone, especially children, to get off their screens and outside into the open air.” Abberley Hall recently staged open days as “Picnics in the Park”, showcasing the school’s natural environment. To arrange a personal visit and to see the school’s treehouse classroom for yourself, call 01299 891814. helps but isn’t the most important thing, but internet access is very important, and each student will need their own Host families wanted bedroom with a desk or somewhere quiet for homework. You will receive payment, but more importantly becoming a Pippa’s Guardians host family provides the opportunity to really make a difference to a student while they’re studying in the UK. If you’re interested, visit for more.

THE HEAD’S COLUMN Sue Wallace-Woodroffe and Iona Carmody from The Queen’s School, Chester, on the importance of a solid foundation


e all want to give our children the best start in life and recent events have shown us that a strong education provision has never been so important. We were so proud to see Queen’s adapt and adjust so superbly thanks to having the technology to do this reliably, ensuring a seamless transition to online learning overnight back in March. Now back in the classroom, our Queen’s community remains as strong as ever; the learning continues and, most importantly, the girls feel happy and secure. Passion

Sue Wallace Woodroffe and Iona Carmody

and warmth will always be a feature of the Queen’s experience – we are lucky to be in position where we’re small enough to get to know every girl, yet big enough to provide a wealth of opportunities that go well beyond the classroom. Our caring environment, where no one slips through the net, enables an individual approach to learning and a level of pastoral and academic support that is second to none. To arrange a tour, visit


SCHOOL NEWS ROYAL SCHOOL TAKES CROWN The Royal School in Wolverhampton has been handed a prestigious Happy pupils at the Royal School Award for Working with Vulnerable Children by the Boarding Schools Association (BSA). This honour recognises that protecting and working with vulnerable children who board at the school requires an in-depth understanding and an ability to approach each child’s situation in a unique way to best assist them. “This is wonderful recognition of the continued work of our boarding, teaching, domestic, catering and estates staff, who support all our boarders and in particular those vulnerable youngsters who are looked-after children,” says the Royal School’s principal Mark Heywood. “This is a collaborative multiagency approach involving the Wolverhampton local authority, the parents, and the young people themselves, who stand shoulder to shoulder with students from all over the world and grow by being immersed in an aspirational and positive environment.”

NEW HEAD FOR PREP John Bond has been appointed as the new head of Moreton Hall Prep in Oswestry, Shropshire, and will take up his post in April 2021. John, who grew up in Cornwall and has taught in both the state and private sector, is currently deputy head academic at Hatherop Castle Prep School. John Bond “My wife and I are very much looking forward to joining the Moreton community and to meeting pupils, parents and staff over the coming months,” says John. “I’m committed to continuing to foster the nurturing environment the school is renowned for, alongside providing a broad and first-rate academic education.”

TUMULTUOUS TIME, RIGHT RESULTS Oswestry School’s pupils are celebrating another set of fabulous GCSE results, with more than half of all grades in the A*-A/9-7 bracket. “This is a strong cohort and their grades are a clear testament to the academic strengths of Oswestry School,” a school spokesperson says. “It is easy to single out, deservedly, Freddie Angell-James, Jason Shao, Myra Kovalchuk, Tommy Bromage, Matija Vukcevic, Jay Richards-Evans, Oliver Tulloch, Alex Iskauskas, and Billy McIntyre, who all secured top grades across the board, all bar one of whom continue to the sixth form. However, there are many more tales of success at all levels.” “Now the confusion and frustration have died down, we should focus on the successes of our pupils,” says Julian Noad, headmaster of Oswestry School. “Not just in these excellent GCSE grades but also in their resilience in such challenging times. I am delighted and proud of them all and of our school.”

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Lorna Campbell and pupils Amelia and Jonty with two of Cornflower Farm’s feathered residents

Pupils at Moreton Hall have been enjoying bringing a piece of Shropshire’s farming life into the classroom this term with the development of a small farm holding. Cornflower Farm encourages pupils to acquire skills through outdoor experiences and practical hands-on work, and is home to pygmy goats, Welsh black sheep, hens and guinea pigs Salt and Pepper. “Some pupils this year spent three months learning in front of a computer screen. Now they need to re-engage with their learning through new, practical and positive experiences,” says Lorna Campbell, Moreton Hall’s development director. “Spending time with animals and looking after them develops a real sense of responsibility and empathy, as well as the fantastic benefits to wellbeing and mental health.” “The farm is a fantastic chance for pupils to learn how biology is applied in agriculture,” says Hannah Peel, head of biology and ecology. “They can really engage with the science of farming and develop a wider understanding of ecosystems, both natural and man-made.” ”Lorna and Hannah made such a compelling case for establishing Cornflower Farm,” says principal George Budd. “We are all excited to see it develop further over time.”

GUNNING FOR GOLD A brave student who recovered from a horseriding accident to complete her A-levels is now gunning for Paralympic gold. Leonie Saffy from Ruabon near Wrexham, shattered her pelvis and hip, and fractured a femur during the ordeal, which happened just weeks before the country went into lockdown in March. She only made it back to Coleg Cambria Yale in Wrexham in her wheelchair for a couple of days, to say goodbye to friends and lecturers before the end of the academic year. However, college staff kept in touch via email, social media and video conferencing, enabling Leonie to finish her qualifications in biology, chemistry and English, and she started studying biochemistry at Keele University in September. She will combine her degree with a place on the Podium Potential P3 dressage squad for Team GB, and pursue her dream of participating at the 2024 Paralympics in Paris. “The accident hasn’t put me off riding – I’ve injured myself plenty of times over the years!” says the former Ysgol Rhiwabon pupil, who also has multiple pterygium syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. “Horse riding is a high-risk sport and it’s something you have to be willing to risk if you want to participate in it, especially at a higher level.” Leonie Saffy

Room and board at Thomas Adams


homas Adams is a successful co-educational community school, sixth form and boarding house in Wem, Shropshire. Its caring ethos Boarders in Wem gives parents reassurance and students life lessons of self-reliance, respect and self-confidence. Adams House is the boarding site for students aged 11 to 18. “Increasingly we find that parents are “Parents are choosing state boarding increasingly schools ahead of the choosing independent sector as they can obtain state the education and boarding pastoral care for a schools” fraction of the cost,” says Corrina Cadman, marketing and admissions coordinator. For more information, visit

Double nomination for Moreton Hall


oreton Hall has been named as a finalist in the prestigious 2020 Independent School of the Year awards, in both the Performing Arts and Careers Guidance categories. “This is a testament to the continuing hard work and passion that’s so evident within the arts department at Moreton,” says Kate Howells, the school’s head of drama. “So many skilful and talented people work to produce outstanding events and opportunities for not only Moreton pupils, but the wider community. I am super-proud of everyone and this couldn’t have come at a better time.”



an Haycocks, an Oswestry School sports scholar, has been invited by England Golf to play in the North of England Amateur Championship. A member at Oswestry Golf Club (OGC), Dan also plays at Royal St David’s Dan Haycocks in Harlech to get experience playing on a links course. Dan, who plays off a scratch handicap, is determined to become an elite level golfer and trains for two hours every weekday and plays every weekend. “Oswestry School has given me great support in terms of my coaching outside school and entering big events,” says Dan. Oliver Leaver, director of sport at Oswestry School, says: “We wish Dan the best of luck in this competition.”

Moreton Hall’s Face2Face academy attracts over 70 budding performers from the community, and the school is also home to a £1.45m community theatre. “To be a finalist in not one but two categories underlines the breadth of educational excellence at Moreton Hall,” says principal George Budd. “We’re very proud of all the staff and pupils whose hard work contributed to this success.”

Moreton Hall supports the arts


is plenty of research suggesting that children’s attitudes and basic personal make-up is largely set in the primary age group. My firm belief is that investing in children’s education while they are young enables them to take on any challenge in any environment when they are older, but the reverse is also true: forming bad habits of mind early on affects their ability to make the most of their t Moor Park, we take children of all abilities and enable them opportunities later in their education. to punch well above their weight I would urge parents to bear all of this in mind when making decisions: your academically and/or in a sporting, musical or artistic sense. Most children are your most precious “In building resource and they only get importantly, they leave the school a house, with a sense of self and their one chance at an education. you start place in the wider world that Make sure that the those with the formative first few years lay enables them to fit in anywhere. In building a house, you start the foundations for what lies foundations” with the foundations and there ahead, whatever that may be.

Charlie Minogue from Moor Park School on the right age to move to independent education


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SCHOOL NEWS TOP SPOTS FOR STUDENTS Sixth form students at Kidderminster’s Holy Trinity School & Sixth Form Centre are taking up their places at university and starting life beyond school following this year’s Oliver Bryant is to do an A-level results. apprenticeship at Hyundai, Student university while Harriet Mole will study and apprenticeship mental health nursing at the University of Manchester destinations include law at Durham, animal biology at Worcester, motor apprenticeship at Hyundai, graphic communications at Birmingham City, mental health nursing at Manchester, media production at Birmingham City and geography at Birmingham. “For our students to have secured their first-choice destinations is a just end to what has been a turbulent year,” says headteacher Pamela Leek-Wright. “Given the hard work that students and teachers put into A-level studies and the importance of these qualifications in creating opportunities and allowing our young people to move on, I am truly delighted that this has been the outcome for our students and I wish them the best of luck as they move on.”

STARTING EARLY The Firs Prep School Chester, the city’s leading prep school for girls and boys aged two to 11, has announced the launch of its new Foundation Stage 1 class. Opening this autumn term, the new Education for all ages FS1 class, part of the preschool Fir Cones department, has enabled the school to further meet its continuing commitment to providing exceptional learning for all children in their care. The addition of the new class before reception ensures the school continues to offer excellent pupil-to-staff ratios from ages to two to 11. “Creative learning experiences that cater for individual learning styles and enable practitioners to become more involved with the children ensures the pupils at The Firs are exposed to the highest quality learning opportunities,” says The Firs’ headteacher Rosemary Blackburn. “The Fir Cones team work closely together, planning a coordinated curriculum based on the Early Learning Goals under the leadership of Mrs Milton, our EYFS leader. The children across all of our Firs Cones Pre School are thoroughly enjoying their return to school and teachers report happy, busy children who are loving to learn – what more could we ask for?”

Part-time courses at Shrewsbury Colleges Group


hrewsbury Colleges Group has a packed schedule of parttime courses starting from January, Part-time courses include and the gift of Digital Photography learning can even be bought as a present for Christmas. Over 100 courses including professional qualifications, trade skills and hobby/

leisure courses are on offer at the London Road and English Bridge campuses in the New Year. Those wanting to develop their skills, pursue a new career or climb the ladder in their current one by gaining an extra qualification, or enjoy a hobby course for fun, can check out the course listings on the college website. For more information, to purchase a course voucher or to enrol, call 01743 342325 or visit



Shropshire student has won a place at Cambridge University to pursue her dream of a life in music. Amber Coxill, 18, is “over the moon” but says it was only made possible by the generosity of a scholarship at Ellesmere Amber Coxill College. She is the fourth student to have “We are so benefitted from the Mullock Arts Scholarship. “I would not have very proud of been able to do it without funding from David and Robyn Mullock, Amber and and I’m sure the opportunities I’ve had at Ellesmere College the hard work would not have been available to me anywhere else.” says Amber. she puts in” In response, David and Robyn Mullock say: “We’re so very proud of Amber and all of the hard work she put into her studies.”

Digital developments


new course aimed at helping youth workers transform their digital skills is being launched by Wrexham Glyndwr University. The course – Digital Youth Work: An Introduction to Principles and Practice’ – will itself be delivered digitally, allowing students to take part wherever they are and in a way that suits them. It is among the latest innovations being launched by Glyndwr’s Youth & Community team, whose lecturers combine years of practical experience with the latest teaching and lecturing practice. The course costs £25 and youth work experience and practice are helpful. To find out more about the course, visit The course team



Students don their face masks

oleg Cambria is supporting a campaign urging students to socially distance and lower the risks of coronavirus. The campaign, led by Denbighshire County Council and backed by local authorities, the emergency services and education providers in north Wales, encourages learners to keep to the two-metre rule and help in the fight against Covid-19. “We must continue to be vigilant, adhere to guidelines and support each other,” says Coleg Cambria’s chief executive Yana Williams.


that can be pursued at Bedstone, some of which will become lifelong passions. These include activities such as horse riding, the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, Wendy Martin of Bedstone College, drama, mountain biking, photography and falconry. Shropshire, is inviting prospective parents This commitment to excellence has resulted in to take a virtual taste of life at the school the school being awarded Corporate Vision’s Best edstone’s doors are open and we have been Day & Boarding School – Midlands in the 2020 able to welcome back students this term. As Education & Training Awards, and we have worked well as continuing to deliver a full timetable, we to maintain this level by making all necessary have also produced a virtual open day, accessible arrangements to comply with Covid-19 guidance. via our school’s website, enabling prospective Bedstone is a co-educational day and boarding Visit Bedstone online parents to take a tour of our idyllic, rural campus. school committed to supporting every pupil to be We believe that it is beyond the classroom that a student’s the best they can be. We are open to new registrations; email character is really developed, and there are so many interests or call 01547 530961 to arrange a visit.


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BEDSTONE Education With Imagination

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

Come and join us.

Come and take a look for yourself individual tours can be arranged Telephone: 01939 237000 or email:

An independent school for boys and girls aged 4-18

The Thomas Adams School, Sixth Form and Boarding, Lowe Hill, Wem, Shropshire, SY4 5UB

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Graeme Park What do you specialise in?

I’m a senior lecturer in the Creative Media Technology department, part of the Faculty of Arts and Science at Glyndwr University in Wrexham. I work with students who are studying for degrees in music technology, sound technology, TV production, radio production, professional sound and video, sound design, live sound and broadcasting, to help them be creative and entrepreneurial with the technical skills they learn from other lecturers. Alongside lecturing, I am still a DJ, musician, performer, and broadcaster. I’ve also recently set up a record label, and work alongside industry bodies such as United We Stream GM to raise money for charity, and campaign to call for stronger government support for the creative industries.

How did you get into this career?

I started as a DJ in a record store in Nottingham, where I heard some of the earliest house records from Chicago, Detroit and New York. When the owner opened a club, he asked me to DJ there – which started me on a path that led to The Haçienda in Manchester, where I found myself at the heart of dance music as Britain’s interest in house music grew. From there, I became an international DJ, “As a smaller playing America, Australia, Asia and more university, our – as well as a producer and remixer who has students get worked with Inner City, The Brand New more individal Heavies, Eric B & Rakim, Sophie Ellistime with Bextor, Noel Gallagher and many more. I started delivering occasional guest lectures lecturers” at a variety of institutions about 20 years ago. Then in 2008, I was approached by a friend at Glyndwr about covering his modules for a year. It was the middle of the financial crash, so I decided to give it a go. I enjoyed it and it went well enough for the university to invite me to stay on as a sessional lecturer. After a couple of years, I became an official part-time lecturer – and I’m still here and still enjoying myself!

What’s required to get on your courses?

The usual qualifications for those leaving further education are generally required – but what’s key is an enthusiasm and passion for the subjects we cover. We do offer a foundation year for those who have that passion for their career but perhaps need a way to show they’re ready for higher-level academic study. We always have a few mature students who contact us about returning to education too.

What do your department’s courses entail?

There’s a lot of technical detail in our Creative Media Technology degrees and plenty of hands-on experience working in our recording studio, TV studio and radio station. Students are DID YOU actively encouraged to get involved in the various KNOW? TV sessions, studio recordings and broadcasts that Graeme w as take place on campus. This way they gain valuable runner-up in the work experience they can add to their CVs. inaugural World’s One of the modules, Creative Top DJ aw ards Futures, puts our students into in 1991 groups with art and design students to work together on group projects that echo real-life post-graduation situations of working with people from other disciplines. I also schedule a variety of guest speakers from across the creative sector, including musicians, tour managers, actors, designers, artists, photographers and more, to talk about their experiences and take questions from students.

What career opportunities can the degrees lead to?

By gaining valuable work experience while studying, building a CV and meeting respected and successful creatives who come Graeme has DJed around the world to deliver sessions, our students are able to apply for jobs, positions and contracts with confidence. I actively encourage them to make connections, which put them in a strong position for gaining employment in their chosen sectors.

Why should people choose Wrexham Glyndwr University?

As a smaller university, our students get more individual time with lecturers than they might do at a larger institution. All of our department’s full-time lecturers have a lot of experience in the fields they teach, and I’m one of a few part-time lecturers who still actively works in the creative sector. This leads to valuable work placements and experience that give students a big advantage when they graduate.

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Charities&Volunteering What a walk! Military charity Walking With The Wounded has announced the team taking part in its next fundraising expedition to walk across Oman


ormed of five ex-military personnel and one member still currently serving, the team chosen by Walking With The Wounded (WWTW) to complete a fundraising trek across the Omani desert all have physical or cognitive injuries. The team are due to set off on 20th November and reach their destination on 11th December, completing an epic trek inspired by Wilfred Thesiger. “The team The six men – David Adams, Ben will face McComb, Sean Gane, Brian O’Neill, temperatures Ashley Winter and Andrew Phillips – will as high as highlight the extraordinary courage of the 35°C” men and women who have been injured, both physically and mentally, while serving their countries, as they face temperatures as high as 35°C and trek between 20km to 22km a day. The walk will showcase the need for continued support in aiding the transition from the armed forces into civilian life.

The team taking on the Oman challenge

“The team face an immense challenge ahead of them and each member will be tested mentally and physically,” says Ed Parker, CEO of WWTW. “Throughout the selection week process, each candidate embraced the task ahead and cemented the bond formed between them that will put them in good stead for the Omani desert.” WWTW was established to support the employment aspirations and vocational outcomes of our wounded, injured and sick exservicemen and women who have been physically, mentally and socially disadvantaged by their service. The Walk of Oman is supported by the Duke of Sussex as the official Expedition Patron, along with support from the Sultan of Oman, Haitham bin Tariq, and in partnership with the Omani Armed Forces.


Volunteers and donations are needed to help rebuild a Shropshire bridge


estoration charity organisers are calling for volunteers to help rebuild Schoolhouse Bridge in Crickheath near Oswestry, the last blocked bridge on the Montgomery Canal in Shropshire. For the past three years, the Restore the

Montgomery Canal appeal has been raising donations to rebuild the bridge, while a team of retired civil engineers have been preparing designs for the project. “This is our call to volunteers to join this exciting project,” says Michael Limbrey, chairman of the appeal. “Next spring we have to build a bridge in the space of a few months and are looking for volunteers to help as site managers and site foremen, as well as to work on the site itself.” To register your interest, email The team is also looking for donations to cover the final expenses – visit www.

MURAL MAGIC FOR YOUNGER PATIENTS New artwork to bring smiles to children’s faces while in hospital


hree murals have been painted in the paediatric area of theatres at the Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH) in Oswestry. Local artist Rory McCann hand-painted each of the murals Artist Rory McCann, left, with one of his murals following an £1,000 investment from the hospital’s League of Friends. ways to improve children’s experiences “I’ve been a patient at “Rory has when having surgery at RJAH, and Rory has done a fantastic job of making their RJAH for 28 years, since being done a journey through theatre much more diagnosed with juvenile arthritis fantastic as a child, so it feels great to give child-friendly. Surgery is a nervous job” something back,” says Rory. and stressful time for both the child and their family, and I know these murals Claire Heathfield, RJAH’s recovery manager, adds: “We are always looking for will help relieve some of their anxieties.”

Rail industry backs Cheshire children’s charity Leading figures from across the transport sector have pledged support for a new event in aid of Sandbachbased charity Railway Children


undraising event Rail Aid has been launched in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, which has made the work of charity Railway Children with vulnerable young people even more vital. The fundraising extravaganza, dubbed “the railway’s answer to Children In Need”, will culminate in a live broadcast on 27th November and has seen rail industry leaders and businesses from across the UK committing to fundraise for Railway Children. Based in Cheshire, Railway Children has been reaching and protecting children alone and at risk on the streets and railways of the world for 26 years. The current pandemic has left a hole in its finances and more children than ever facing danger alone. To get involve, visit

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A safe place for you to enjoy life in comfort

A former HR man from Conwy has set up a business helping others to get the most out of retirement


bbeyfield Colwyn Bay is a registered charity, experienced and highly respected both in the local community and nationally, attracting people from all over the country mainly through recommendation. Abbeyfield offers safe, secure accommodation in three houses in Colwyn Bay and Rhos on Sea. All are in lovely residential areas, at the heart of the community, and have good access to the local shops and amenities. Their houses are professionally run and emphasis is on caring for the residents’ well-being – providing home-cooked meals, cleaning and company while allowing them to continue living a full and independent life, following their own interests. Two of Abbeyfield’s Houses have been recently renovated, including An emphasis on wellbeing gardens for the

Nigel Evans


The Abbeyfield house in Rhos on Sea

residents to enjoy. Prospective residents can arrange a visit to their houses while adhering to Covid-19 policies to see if the prospect of communal living is right for them. With the onset of winter and the turbulent times ahead Abbeyfield can ensure residents are “Abbeyfield safe and well cared can ensure for in the company of residents are like-minded people. safe and well The society has cared for” welcomed two new residents in recent weeks, while adhering to Covid-19 rules. They are now settled in for any local or national lockdowns that may occur.

s a senior HR leader, Nigel Evans supported hundreds of colleagues on the road to retirement – but his own turned out to be more difficult than he imagined. That was behind his decision to launch Riverbridge Coaching, a business focused on helping people with their retirement plans. Riverbridge helps with the financial side, physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing, and social support. “Structure, purpose, routines, deadlines, social interaction and a sense of accomplishment were your day-to-day life for decades,” says Nigel, who lives in the Conwy Valley with his wife Yvonnie. “Retirement should not be a struggle, not after decades of hard work. You can still enjoy your life and pursue your dreams. Everyone will have their own thoughts and beliefs on how they want it to be.” Visit

CARE HOME RESIDENTS GET ARTISTIC ADDITION Pendine Park in Wrexham has an unusual new presence in its garden in the form of a large wooden primate


alented chainsaw sculptor Paul Morris has carved a new masterpiece: a 5ft-tall gorilla, which has now taken pride of place in the garden of Pendine Park care home. The giant ape is now bringing smile to the faces of residents along with the existing menagerie of wooden creatures at the care organisation in Wrexham, where Paul works as part of the gardening and maintenance team. The leafy 11-acre grounds were already home to a grizzly bear, giant squirrels, owls and hawks thanks to Paul, who wanted to

The gorilla joins a bear, squirrels and more

add a bit of colour to brighten up the lives of the residents. The former art student discovered he had chainsaw carving skills by accident after deciding to make a garden owl for his wife’s birthday. He was inspired to carve the gorilla because Mario and Gill Kreft, Pendine Park’s proprietors, are keen conservationists who have been on several gorilla trekking expeditions in Africa. “I knew Mario and Gill have a real love of gorillas and other great apes so when we had to bring a tree surgeon in to fell an old maple tree that was in as dangerous condition I asked him to leave me a goodsized piece for a carving,” says Paul. “The block he left me was 5ft high and almost 3ft wide, and weighed close to a tonne I suspect. I managed to get it to the barn using a big digger we had on hire. I asked Mario if I could carve a gorilla and he seemed really pleased. His only stipulation was he wanted the carving to depict a thoughtful

Paul and his gorilla sculpture

and peaceful gorilla, not one that was angry and threatening. I don’t think he wanted a King Kong around Pendine Park!”

Emotional moments

Mario is delighted with Paul’s latest design. “Gorillas are gentle giants and display many human-like behaviours and emotions, such as laughter and sadness,” he says. “Paul is hugely talented and his chainsaw creations add interest to the gardens. I know how much residents like seeing them.” “He uses wood from storm-damaged or diseased trees we have to cut down,” says head gardener Andrew Jones. “Instead of the wood going to waste or just being burned, it’s been given a new lease of life.”

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n n n

Small care home, situated in the heart of Newport, renowned for providing high standards and individual care Our dedicated and committed staff pride themselves on promoting dignity, respect and choice Offering short stay, respite or permament long term security in a very friendly, comfortable and homely environment Excellent home cooking Delightful gardens Visitors welcome

Contact Collin Davies on 01952 814371 or 814350

Special Care for Special People Bank House, Chetwynd End, Newport, Shropshire TF10 7JE

Tired of living alone, shopping and preparing meals for one ? Are you worried about the onset of winter and the possibility of another lockdown? Get yourself sorted for winter by moving in with some like minded residents and let us look after you in these turbulent times. Abbeyfield Colwyn Bay Society offer an independent sheltered environment for the elderly and we are very proud of our three houses which have modern accommodation, conservatories and lovely gardens for you to enjoy. At Abbeyfield we aim to provide a peaceful and friendly atmosphere where residents can maintain their independence within a home from home environment. All washing and ironing undertaken, all bills paid and 2 home cooked meals provided daily. Community Alarm is provided for your peace of mind.

Call or email the contact details below and find out more about The Abbeyfield Colwyn Bay Society General Manager Anna Hamblett on 01492 533 724 Email:

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Books&Poetry WENDY’S TIME TRAVELLING TREAT Wendy Hobbs is a lawyer, a charity ambassador and the author of the Claudia Quash series – the most recent instalment of which is out now, offering readers a magical festive twist

“My aim was to write a story that capitivated the reader’s imagination”


endy Hobbs has won many awards in her legal career, including a Top 100 Businesswomen in Wales award, a commendation at the HSBC Forward Ladies National Awards and the first Welsh Wonder Woman in Style Of The City magazine. And while making her mark in the legal world, she also wrote a series of books. “I developed an interest in storytelling while studying for a degree in drama and theatre, and was inspired to write Claudia Quash & The Spell Of Pencliff by my daughter, who is also called Claudia,” says Wendy. The

young adult fiction appeals to all ages, and Wendy is thrilled that the series’ main character has been described by reviewers as a “wonderful role model” and a “unique and inspiring character”. “My aim was to write a story that captivated the reader’s imagination, and create a unique and inspiring character that encouraged children to pursue their dreams and never to give up,” says Wendy, and she certainly seems to have achieved her aim. Her book has received more than 50 great Amazon reviews.

Christmas twist

Claudia Quash & The Spell Of Pencliff is a story of mystery and magic. It starts on Claudia’s 13th birthday, when she receives a letter from her late great-grandfather Jasper Ratchet, a watchsmith and sorcerer. Later she receives a miniature grandfather clock and a doll’s house made by Jasper. On Christmas Day, the doll’s house grows in size, and Claudia and her cat enter the house and travel back in time in the grandfather clock to Pencliff (based on the historic

town of Tenby), an ancient town in West Wales. Claudia arrives inside the grand house of Hugo-Hamilton Barnes and they become friends. Here, Claudia meets a Moon Sorceress and a purple puffin, and battles an evil sorcerer. She discovers her special powers and creates a giant mechanical dog out of the torture tools she finds which destroys the soldiers. This story is bound to capture the imagination of young and old alike, and will delight readers with its imaginative twists and turns. And for readers who can’t get enough of Claudia’s adventures, Wendy has also written Claudia’s Special Wish for the charity Dreams & Wishes, which supports seriously ill children and their families. Wendy is an ambassador for the charity and was honoured to have passages read in the House of Commons at its launch, as well as visiting 10 Downing Street.

LO C AL AU T HO R S The Multiple Lover by JL Russell When office worker Matt Storm meets gorgeous Tom, love turns his world upsidedown. But the first night after they move in together, Tom hits Matt. Over the coming days, the facade of Matt’s perfect boyfriend falls away a little more with every insult, blow and swear word. Betrayal and deceit follow as Matt discovers more and more about the man fell in love with. With his perfect life crumbling to pieces around him, Matt must face two choices that seem equally devastating: lose Tom or lose himself. JL Russell lives in Newport and has written this book partly in

the hope that readers may recognise elements of it and be alerted to the fact that they need to seek help.

Hamish Bell, and as their relationship develops she finds her horizons being expanded beyond the dogs and films she loves. But after a trip to the Highlands, the two friends are confronted with a shocking discovery that forces them to rewrite the scripts of their lives. For more information on this book and the rest of the series, visit www. deborahrowland

The Sandglass by Deborah Rowland Deborah Rowland is a self-published author living in Shropshire who has just completed the third of a series of four books, collectively titled The Hertfordshire Chronicles. “Lockdown has allowed me to commit to writing full-time, as my previous life as an Alexander technique and meditation teacher has been suspended,” explains Deborah. “It’s amazing to read of the creative surge taking place – when have we ever had the time to allow such energy to surface?” Deborah’s latest novel is called The Sandglass and can be read as a standalone book or as part of the series. The contemporary Calling local authors… stories focus on selfWe want to hear from you! If you are an author discovery, community living in the Shire area or have written a book and the ties that bind. about a local person or place, we would love The main character, Libby to feature it on these pages. Please email the Spires, is unexpectedly details to befriended by local vet

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Time to unwind with a book – our friends at Linghams Bookshop on the Wirral have some gripping suggestions for the cold, dark nights… Reading With Patrick by Michelle Kuo After graduating, Michelle Kuo goes to teach in a small town in Arkansas that is poverty-stricken and rife with prejudice. The majority of the inhabitants are black and education is poor. Michelle is an exemplary teacher but family pressure causes her to leave after two years to study law at Harvard. She later learns that one of her most promising students, Patrick, is now in jail awaiting trial for murder. The town Patrick lives doesn’t have a functioning justice system, he has no lawyer to represent him and nothing is done “by the book” – things don’t look good. Michelle resumes teaching Patrick, now in a cell, and encourages him to write. Be warned – this is a true story and there is no fairytale ending but as heartbreaking as this book is, there is a lesson to be learned that literature is for everyone. The Ice by Laline Paull It’s the day after tomorrow and the Arctic sea ice has melted. While global business carves up the new frontier, cruise ships race each other to ever-rarer wildlife sightings. The passengers of the Vanir have come seeking a polar bear. What they find is even more astonishing: a dead body. One to make you think, especially in our current climate, with a thrilling twist. Under A Pole Star by Stef Penney From the author of the Costa-winning The Tenderness Of Wolves comes a dazzling historical tale of romance and survival. Set against the beauty of northern Greenland, as well as in New York and London, it’s a fascinating look at the golden age of exploration.

A Street Pigeon by Anne Harding I’m a street pigeon, A short beak pigeon, A peck at every crumb pigeon. Shrewsbury’s my home town, Where I strut around, But, I’m not earthbound. I’m a street pigeon, A sleek-cheeked pigeon, I wait outside caffs, Peck at fast food scraps, Considered a nuisance perhaps? I’m a street pigeon, A pink feet pigeon, A clock-what-humans-eat pigeon, Gregg’s flaky pastry, Crumbs always tasty, Dash and grab, I’m always hasty. I’m a street pigeon, A discreet pigeon, A bow to my lady pigeon, Though cheating is rife, I stay with my wife, Never been tempted by night life. I’m a street pigeon, An upbeat pigeon, A few sticks for a nest pigeon, Two eggs on a ledge, Two squabs to be fledged, Happy with life on the edge. Autumn by Norman Marshall Autumn has come as it will With a lash and bite from beyond hill: A sting to blink an eye And say summer has gone – its goodbye. The last martin has flown, had his day, Heading south along the way. Its now look-out for fieldfare and redwing Or down to supermarket for waxwing. Dormouse and bat commence their long sleep, And all else slows or begins to creep. Janus will soon be here, looking this way and that, And in halls people will chat: What do you want for Christmas dear? Something from the bag on Old Nick’s deer. Up in the sky is many a skein Indicating which way the year will lean. Autumn comes, a time for appraisal, Of picking berries and collecting hazel; Musing which way now will I go Seeking my star or drifting with tidal flow. I have observed many a season before And now I must focus: where is my shore? The year begins to dip and fall, And I too must follow nature’s inexorable call! Being Santa (excerpt) by Les Lacy

and boots. It was a department store tradition, which they featured every year to attract more paying customers and provide children costly cheer. They persuade me I filled the bill, sweet talked with generous praise. And anyway it was only for two hours in the afternoon or four Saturdays. But I discovered no one else had applied, I was hired as last resort and only agreed to do it for the pay and the working hours were short. Ice Cube by Jo Young I am proud to be an ice cube If necessary I can be the shape of a tube I am cold – I am Ice So don’t think twice Of adding me to your drink Or… to make you think To add me to your dog’s water bowl As the hot weather takes its toll. I am cold and refreshing And often a cool blessing To young and old Bring out the ice cubes – I am often told! Old Witch Mahully by Trish Brewin Old Witch Mahully lives down in Briar Wood, her clothes tattered robes of grey and black. Whilst out at night she wears a dark pointed hood, her shoes are old, well worn and slack. Her fingers are gnarled and twisted brown, a face well weathered and old. Hair of grey and long when down, stiff joints that suffer from the cold. She collects what she can for her steaming pot, wing of bat and eye of toad. A few herbs and grasses she has got, then shuffles back to her small abode. A little shack of mortar and wood, not much has she got there. Potions, lotions, balms o’ good, a table and a chair. She has a black cat with eyes of sapphire with nothing to distress or trouble him. A few more twigs Mahully throws on the fire to keep her cauldron bubblin’. Never a visitor does she have there, though children venture near to. They stay well hidden, if they dare, afraid of what she’ll turn them into. Her life aged, her body weak, with only her feline as friend. As she lays to rest her feeling is meek, what a sad and lonely end.

They offered me the job of playing Santa Claus in their annual display, a We want your poems! part-time Christmas vacancy Share your creativity – we print our favourite in a grotto with a sleigh, plus poems every issue. Send them to Poetry Page, genuine imitation snow and Shire, PO Box 276, Oswestry, Shropshire SY10 all the usual attributes. 1FR or email They’d supply my every need, the seasonal hat and cloak November/December 2020 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 117

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

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

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ur lovely Shire readers have been at it again! We’ve been delighted to receive so many letters from you, so thank you for keeping in touch and letting us know about the things that are important to you. We’re always touched when you share your stories and experiences with us, especially during times when many of us aren’t seeing each other as much as normal. We’ve printed a few of your letters here but do keep them coming, and if you have the chance to include a picture

too then so much the better. Whatever you want to send or share with us, please email We’re happy to send out old issues – so let us know if you’ve missed an edition or are shielding and unable to get to the shops, and we’ll pop one in the post. Just 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. See page 118 for details. Keep writing, keep reading and keep safe.

Memorial appeal launched I have launched a charity appeal to fund a memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum near Lichfield, Staffordshire, to honour those from the entertainment industry who did so much to boost morale during the Second World War. Between 1939 and 1946, there were an estimated 2,656,565 cinema and theatre shows with audiences of servicemen and women and civilians totalling in excess 500 million. Four Remembering the entertainers of World War Two out of five members of the showbusiness profession worked for the Entertainments National Service Association at some time. The entertainment output reached its peak in winter 1945, when nearly 9,000 performances were given every week, spread over two-thirds of the globe – around 40 per cent were live shows. We have set up an appeal to raise the money needed to commission a memorial to honour these men and women. Donations are welcomed in memory of anyone who served in the war or of a family member who was an entertainer between the 1930s and today. All names will be listed in a book about the appeal to be published after its unveiling. For more about the appeal, see Facebook and Twitter, or visit Thank you. Alan Crowe

Getting our heads together

One of Llangollen’s massive heedz

This year’s Llangollen Fringe Festival had to be a very different event from usual – but that didn’t stop those involved from celebrating in whatever way they could. Historical, mythical and living legends of Llangollen were commemorated in an art project helmed by Wrexham Glyndwr University, originally for a parade in which the huge sculptures or “massive heedz” were to be worn. Participants were invited to consider “Legends of Llangollen”; they then created a portrait of that person’s face or head, sent it in with a full-body image of themselves and these were combined and animated by students in fine art at Wrexham Glyndwr. The plan is still to parade the massive heedz at next year’s event, but for now anyone who wants to see the artistry and animation in action can visit Organisers, Llangollen Fringe Festival

READER F E E D B AC K I do hope you and your team are well, and well done on continuing to produce such a useful and interesting magazine. Edna Crosby What a treat to see that when so many familiar things are unavailable, I can still get hold of your lovely magazine. It has seen me through a few lonely evenings, so please do keep up the good work. Elizabeth Skinner What a lovely feature on relationships in your last edition. My husband and I have just celebrated our 42nd anniversary and it’s nice to know we’re not the only ones managing to make marriage work these days! Florence Goodman Thank you to the kind man who helped me set up my subscription. I’m shielding and it is a godsend to have the magazine delivered. Frank Collington

Festive favourite is back in Chester

I wanted to let your readers know that Chester Cathedral is still planning to entertain families this Christmas, despite restrictions and adaptations. Carrot Productions is bringing its highly acclaimed sell-out tour of the The Snowman film plus a live orchestra to the cathedral in December, and the performance is sure to enchant audiences of all ages. Booking is essential, and there’s a revised seating plan in place to allow for social distancing and make this a safe event for families. Accompanied by a live orchestra comprising some of the UK’s top musicians handpicked from orchestras including The Hallé and the BBC Philharmonic, the magical presentation of The Snowman is returning for its eighth year to delight audiences with a unique screening of the iconic animated film together with lots of festive surprises throughout the event. The performance features the much-loved “Walking In The Air” solo sung by a local young soloist chosen through audition, as well as a Christmas medley, a fun introduction to the orchestra and, of course, a visit from The Snowman himself. The Snowman shows always sell out quickly – even more so this year due to Covid-safe restricted capacities – so we are advising your readers, local schools and families to book as early as possible to avoid disappointment at Kevin Baxter, Chester Cathedral

The Snowman returns to Chester this Christmas

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What’s in your stars? Aries

20th March – 20th April November was once the ninth month of the calendar – “Novem” being Latin for nine – until the introduction of the Julian calendar introduced more modern time measurement. This is thought-provoking because you’re wishing time away, but you can’t change it and by thinking the day too long you may one day realise life’s too short!


21st June – 23rd July Sometimes you have to decide whether to act or react, deal your own cards or play with a stacked deck – and if you don’t decide which way to play with life it will play with you. It’s game on now as family dynamics take centre stage – your decision will complete a circle by the full moon in Cancer on 30th December.


23rd September – 22nd October A titanic battle for power is going on everywhere around us – we see it reflected in politics, financial markets, religious groups and cultures. It’s a very unbalanced world in which everyone’s trying to stand upright. One thing is vital – impartiality. Fortunately that’s a quality you own and will need in your personal world as festivities approach.


21st December – 20th January Your materialistic needs will be replaced by the spiritual energy surrounding the end of the year. For all your ambition, there’s part of you that’s quite modest; much planetary activity in Capricorn at present endorses the inner struggle to express this softer side. Streamline your life for this to flourish – you’ll lose nothing and gain everything.


20th April – 21st May We’re at the beginning of celebrating Bonfire Night, Christmas and New Year, and you’re not feeling at all comfortable. Mars in the 12th zone of your solar chart is a psychological expression of repressed energies, so pay attention to those niggles coming to the surface – they’re caused by disrupted routines. “Adjust” is your winter word of wisdom.


23rd July – 23rd August Promises we make to ourselves are often like the Japanese plum tree – they bear no fruit – but there’s one you can make that will. Your need to be seen and heard requires a nip and tuck. Your generosity and warmth are legendary, but craving constant attention is too – just a little cosmic seed of thought which when planted could bear fruit!


23rd October – 22nd November Christmas draws its name from Christ’s Mass, which originated from the angels’ song in Bethlehem, but long before that Solstice existed, when people hung evergreen boughs to encourage trees to grow their leaves again. You’ve grown too through recent experiences, and a new moon in Scorpio is a sign you’re looking ahead to a future unfurling before you.


20th January – 19th February The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change and the realist adjusts the sails. You need to know which of these fits a description of your present attitude to life. Direction is all you need, and from mid-December – when Jupiter moves into your sign – you’ll know exactly where it is you are heading, why and for what.


21st May – 21st June Astrology connects your sign to the lungs, and in Tibetan Buddhism “lung” means wind, breath or air – which you’ll need plenty of, especially around the lunar eclipse in Gemini on 30th November and the solar eclipse mid-December. Communication is the glue that holds you together and it’ll be in abundance whether talking, singing, or breathing deeply before a social event.


23rd August – 23rd September The planets represent a cast of characters; this November and December, Jupiter acting as a jovial grandparent and Saturn as a strict uncle are moving closely together in the zone of your solar chart concerning the younger generation. Potentially, a compromise is waiting to be made about how much freedom is allowed.


22nd November – 21st December As a seeker of knowledge, you may like to know that Ptolemy described having access to eclipse records as far back as 747 BC. That’s how long eclipses have been observed by humanity in search of celestial significance. The one in your sign on 14th December can best be explained as an opportunity to aim high – higher than ever before!


19th February – 20th March Once Mars, which appears to go backward in Aries (an illusion), starts to move forward again (a fact), you’ll stop seeing a conspiracy around every corner. Your belief system is a little faulty, which isn’t surprising with Neptune travelling through Pisces and causing all sorts of confusion. The truth is simple – why get to it through a complicated route?

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, 120 SHIRE MAGAZINE | November/December 2020

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

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

BOX OF DELIGHTS Win a delicious hamper of goodies! The Shropshire Hamper

Company is giving away a hamper worth up to £50 to one lucky Shire reader. It will be bursting with locally produced food and drink, such as beer from the Wood Brewery, hand-cooked crisps from Two Farmers, fruit juices from Heartsease Farm, treats from Heather’s Harvest, Cheese Nibbles, Patchwork Pâté and much more! The team at Shropshire Festivals, who work with all local food and drink businesses at their events, have launched the hamper company in time for Christmas. “Our hampers showcase the best in small local food and drink businesses,” says the company’s owner, Beth Heath (pictured left). “We hope our collection meets your gift-buying challenges – whether you’re shopping for a hard-to-buy for partner, or clients, colleagues or staff.” See the full range at CLOSING DATE: 19th December

The prizes from last issue were so terrific we’re giving everyone another chance to enter. Plus, all the entries already sent will still be in the draw to win!



Win a virtual wine-tasting!

Win a day at GreenWood Park!

We’ve teamed up with Unique Wine Safaris, which runs wine-tasting events and trips, to offer one lucky reader the chance to enjoy some fine wines and expert advice in a virtual drinking experience. Our main winner – plus up to eight friends – will share three bottles of wine, while virtual tasting notes and expertise are given over a live Zoom session. The package, worth £45 per person, includes wine, tasting notes and an interactive virtual wine tasting. Two runners-up will receive a bottle of wine from the collection. CLOSING DATE: 19th December

Escape to the Welsh countryside, where GreenWood Family Park in Y Felinheli is waiting for you. From the thrills of the people-powered rollercoaster and Solar Splash water slide to the enchanting Tree Top Towers and Tunnel Warren, you’ll find activities for the whole family here. We have a family day pass for one lucky winner, giving entry to the park for two adults and up to three children, plus a £30 gift voucher to spend at the park. The prize is worth over £100 in total. CLOSING DATE: 19th December

ANIMAL ATTRACTION Win a day at a safari park!

West Midland Safari Park in Kidderminster is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and endangered species, including southern white rhinos, giraffes, zebras, Ankole cattle, waterbuck, Congo buffalo, antelopes, tigers, cheetahs, African painted dogs and African lions. Not forgetting, of course, the fantastic African elephants. We have a family ticket up for grabs, valid until 14th February 2021, which covers entry to the park although rides must be paid for. The winner doesn’t even need to book in advance. CLOSING DATE: 19th December

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

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

Q: How many appearances did Phil Thompson make for Liverpool FC?

Name Address

a) 398 b) 477 c) 525


Postcode Daytime contact number Email (please complete) Please send me further information about Shire November/December 2020 | SHIRE MAGAZINE 121

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Looking ahead to our next edition, we’re hoping to welcome a new year that is a marked improvement on the current one! In our January/February edition, we’ll be thinking positive and looking forward to what the next 12 months will bring. Make sure you get hold of your copy so you can keep up to date with everything that’s going on across the region


We’ve all had a difficult year, so we want to start 2021 by checking that your mental health and wellbeing are in a good place. We’ll have expert advice and suggestions to keep your mind and mood in tip-top condition, so you’re ready to face the year ahead with a positive attitude and a happy head.

New year, new hobby If you need something to keep you busy during the cold winter evenings, why not consider a new pastime? We look at the options open to you, suggesting some of the hobbies that we think you might enjoy, including a few you’ve never thought of!

DIG FOR VICTORY The experts from Reaseheath College offer their guide to the garden jobs you should tackle now to ensure the best possible garden displays later in the year – from prepping and pruning to planting and protecting.

HOLIDAY HOPEFULS We’re all hoping 2021 will be a better year for getting out and about, so we’ll have our usual round-up of local holiday parks and lovely locations.

Make a house a home

Winter walks Don’t let the cold keep you inside! We suggests beautiful winter walks to enjoy in the New Year, as well as other ways to keep fit and active. When we live in such a beautiful area, there is no excuse for not getting out and enjoying our surroundings.

PICTURE PERFECT Our Arts & Crafts section focuses on local artists and exhibitions as always, and feature our latest photography competition. See if your image has made it into print and check out the topic for the next edition so you can get snapping.

Start the new year with a fresh living space, with advice from expert interior designers and products you’ll love. We’ll also have the latest news and updates on new homes across the Shire patch. YO U R T O W N

We take a closer look at some of the region’s prime locations, focusing on the places in our area we’ve learned to appreciate all the more over the past year. D O N ’ T F O R G E T…

Don’t go anywhere in January or February before you’ve checked out our comprehensive What’s On guide. Here’s hoping that restrictions will start to ease and we’ll all be able to get out and about more – so make sure you’re ready with the latest listings

FEATHERED FRIENDS See our Wildlife & Pets pages for the latest from the RSPB and Wildlife Trusts, as well as events taking place at the region’s nature reserves. We’ll also have shopping suggestions for your pets, and share your cute photos of your four-legged family members FOODIE NEWS

We’re not trying to totally scupper your new year resolutions (honest!), but one local chef has some spicy delights to warm up your winter in our Food section, while our resident wine expert is on hand to give advice on the best wines.

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GET IN TOUCH Shire wants to hear from you!

1. Tell us about your upcoming events We work in advance, so 1st December is the deadline to let us know about events for our January/February 1issue. 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.

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dewch o hyd i’ch lle. dechreuwch eich dyfodol. find your place. start your future. Darganfod mwy. Find out more.





gyrfa cryfach.

myfyrwyr Darganfod pam • find out why

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career prospects.


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