Page 1

Supplement

FASHION

PLACES

FACES

FOOD

BEAUTY

HOMES

TRAVEL

WINTER WARMERS WARMERS

OF LIVERPOOL

Seasonal style all wrapped up

NOVEMBER ISSUE 2011

BONFIRE

NIGHT Flaming-good displays

SANTA’S LITTLE HELPER Must-have toys of 2011

CalendarMAN Joe McGann reveals all about Calendar Girls’ role

WIN

HOMOTOPIA FESTIVAL//SALON SPOTLIGHT//FITNESS// WHAT’S ON // HOMEGROWN TALENT//FESTIVE PARTY VENUES//FAIRYTALE BEDROOMS

to Tickets Girls r Calenda


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BEST OF LIVERPOOL


Contents

27

15

NOVEMBER 2011

BEST

NOVEMBER 11

22

OF LIVERPOOL NEWS 04-05 TALK OF TOWN Snippets of city news and gossip

FASHION 06-07 SHOPPING FOR HER Winter style all wrapped up 08-10 SHOPPING FOR HIM The fashion frontline Steal Robert Pattinson’s style

HEALTH & BEAUTY 11 SALON SPOTLIGHT Trend-led tresses Win Neal & Wolf hair products 12 FITNESS Suzanne takes it all in her stride Get fit and fabulous for party season

ENTERTAINMENT 13 HOMOTOPIA FESTIVAL Festival highlights 14 WHAT’S ON Your guide to the month’s events 15 BONFIRE NIGHT Flaming-good firework displays 16-17 HOMEGROWN TALENT Joe McGann Stephen Fletcher & Rachel Rae Ones to watch

CHILDREN 18 MODEL BEHAVIOUR Liverpool’s got some talented tots

HOMES 19 SWEET DREAMS Fairytale bedrooms for your little princess

CHRISTMAS

Editor’s letter

LIVERPOOL ECHO EDITOR Alastair Machray

FOOD & DRINK

MAGAZINE EDITOR Katie McLoughlin

OUT & ABOUT 30 TRAVEL Staycation review

WRITERS Sarah Hooley, Emma Thompson, Paul Baker and Richard Lackey PHOTOGRAPHY Trinity Mirror photographers

what’s on and highlights of the Homotopia Festival. Theatre land is always a whirlwind of activity at this time of year and we meet three talented Liverpudlian actors in this issue. On page 17, we find that flying superlambananas and cancan-dancing nuns are all in a day’s work for Rachel Rae and Stephen Fletcher, who star in the Royal Court’s Christmas show – Little Scouse on the Prairie. Plus, on page 16, actor Joe McGann reveals all about his Calendar Girls’ role and why he loves Liverpool audiences. And, Christmas may be some eight weeks away, but like the good Scouts we once were, we like to be prepared. So, this month we dip our proverbial toe into all things festive. On page 25, we take a look at some alternative party venues – because who doesn’t get tired of turkey? On page 21, we take a peek into Santa’s sack and reveal the must-have toys for 2011. Plus, on page 22, we find some fabulously festive decorations to help you turn your home into a real winter wonderland. Enjoy!

FRONT COVER: James Maloney

Katie McLoughlin

SALES MANAGER Ros McGuire

GET IN TOUCH

COPYRIGHT Best of Liverpool is published monthly by Trinity Mirror North West and North Wales/Liverpool Echo. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission of the publisher.

DESIGNER Zoe Bevan SUB-EDITOR Vicky Andrews

X

FOR many people, the arrival of November means one thing – the countdown to Christmas is on. However, long before Mr Claus squeezes his rather ample figure down the chimney, good old Guy Fawkes has to put in an appearance. Like a big bunch of kids, Best of Liverpool can’t help but get excited at the prospect of Bonfire Night, so on page 15, we find some flaming-good firework displays to make sure your November 5 goes with a bang. To keep you warm while you’re making ‘oohs and aahhs’ at the fireworks lighting up the night sky, we’ve got winter style all wrapped up on our fashion pages. Little ones will be snug as a bug in a rug with our selection of mittens, earmuffs and scarves, while women will want an excuse to go outside, just to wear one of the truly covetable coats on pages 6-7. Men haven’t been forgotten and on page 8 we take a trip to the fashion frontline and find that the military look is far from uniform. As well as ogling the latest sartorial trends to hit the city’s shops, we’ve been out and about to find the best events for you to enjoy. Check out pages 13 and 14 for our guide to

21 SANTA’S LITTLE HELPER The must-have toys of 2011 22 HO-HO-HOMES Deck the halls 25 FESTIVE FROLICS Alternative party venues Win your Christmas party at Viva Brazil!

27 FRENCH FANCY New brasserie has ‘ooh-la-la’ factor Veggie delights

30

06

COMMERCIAL FEATURES EDITOR Sally Jones

STORIES 0151 330 4964 FAX 0151 330 4924 EMAIL magazine@liverpool.com WEBSITE www.bestofliverpool.com

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Talk of town Photos: David Munn Photography

HOLLYOAKS BALL SOME of Hollyoaks’ most popular characters took to the stage at Chester Racecourse recently for the fourth annual, Hollyoaks Ball. Cast members, including Jimmy McKenna, Alice Barlow and Stephanie Davis, performed for over 300 guests at the glitzy event, which has raised a whopping £100,000 for Alder Hey Imagine Appeal and Claire House Children’s Hospice in the last four years. Following the ball, which was organised by programme-makers Lime Pictures, cast members and guests continued to Cruise Nightclub in Chester, where the party carried on until the early hours.

SOCIALdiary Katie McLoughlin brings you all the news from the city’s social scene... Photo: Diane Thompson

A GLITTERING SUCCESS BIGGER, better, camper and more glittering than-ever, the third House of Suarez – Vogue Ball took place in the Black-E on Saturday, October 1. Organised by the fabulous Darren

SUZANNE’S MARATHON PAMPER

BOODLES’ BABY SHOWER BOODLES hosted every girls’ dream baby shower recently for long-serving staff member, Hayley Glover. Party-goers tucked into sumptuous canapés from Puschka and an amazing selection of sweets and

biscuits from The Sweetie Factory. To keep the glamorous guests looking their best, make-up artist Georgia Joseph was on hand to provide makeup touch ups, while DJ Cata Pereda kept the party going with some fabulous tunes. All this and the chance to wear some of Boodles’ most amazing diamond jewellery made it a very special evening.

ACTRESS Suzanne Collins was among five thousand runners who successfully completed the RunLiverpool Marathon on Sunday, October 9. An official ambassador for the marathon, Suzanne completed the 26.2 mile route in five hours 45 minutes with friend and fellow Brookside star, Ann Marie Davies. Suzanne says: “I raised over £1,000 for Diabetes UK and there’s still more to come in. I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of people – from friends and family, to complete strangers who’ve sponsored me too. It’s just amazing.” Following the October 9 event, Suzanne and Ann Marie enjoyed a post-marathon pamper day in Knowsley’s exclusive Chill Out Spa.

Suarez, the event, which had a dazzling Death by Glitter theme, saw some of the UK’s hottest dancers and vogue houses strut their stuff down the runway and perform amazing routines as they battled it out for vogueing supremacy.

The spa, which recently won Thalgo UK’s Spa of the Year UK Award 2011, treated the marathon-running friends to massages, a soak in the spa’s lavish hot tub, Thalgo facials, Shellac manicures and luxury pedicures. Sharon Carroll, MD at Chill Out Spa, says: “After taking part in the RunLiverpool Marathon, we knew Suzanne’s muscles would be in need of some TLC! We tailor our treatments specifically for clients and regularly have local athletes at the spa for treatments.”

We’re loving IF you’ve not yet experienced Liverpool Music Week, don’t miss this year’s festival, which runs until November 13. Highlights include a number of of free shows in Mojo on Back Berry Street, plus a spectacular closing party on November 11. Taking place in the Contemporary Urban Centre, the closing party will have a micro-festival within a festival feel, as 17 rooms in the Greenland Street venue will host performances from the likes of Ghostpoet, Outfit, The Whip, Vasco da Gama and Stealing Sheep to name just a few. Visit www.liverpoolmusicweek.com for more details.

04

BEST OF LIVERPOOL

Photo: James Maloney

LIVERPOOL MUSIC WEEK

EXTRA ‘SPECIAL’ NAILS

CHIBUKU

RED nails are a classic look and we’re loving the new, limited edition Special K nail varnish by Nails Inc. Kellogg’s has teamed up with Nails Inc to give away 100 limited edition, red nail polishes every day. The bespoke nail polish, which comes in Special K red, complete with a dazzling diamante lid, will be up for grabs until December 5. To be in with a chance of winning one of the limited edition nail polishes, simply enter a unique code, which can be found on all promotional packs of Special K, online at www.specialkfoods.co.uk/nails

CHIBUKU always rolls out the humdingers when October rolls around and last month was no different, with headliners including the likes of Skream, 2manydjs and Jackmaster. This month, Chibuku has pulled out all the stops to bring you a November 5 you’re sure to remember. Held in the Masque, the Bonfire Night event features Fake Blood, Andy George and Jaymo, James Rand and Jaguar Skills among others. While on November 19, Chibuku brings you Annie Mac, Subfocus and Sir David Rodigan. With line-ups like these, is it any wonder we love Chibuku? For tickets and info, visit www.chibuku.com


NOVEMBER 11 FEAST FIT FOR THE KING MATOU was All Shook Up last month when it was asked to feed a delegation of international journalists and special guests, in Liverpool to preview the new Elvis and Us exhibition at The Beatles Story. The waterfront restaurant may be famed for its pan-Asian cuisine, but co-owner Danny Boon thought it was Now Or Never to try something new. So, keeping with the Elvis theme, Matou created a selection of The King’s favourite foods, including hamburgers and deep-fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Danny says: “Journalists from all over the world came for this preview event, as well as special guests from Elvis’s home of Gracelands and members of his fan club. We thought it was a great opportunity to cater for them in a way The King would love.”

LOVE BLOOMS AT NESS GARDENS THEY say love blossoms in the most unusual locations, and never has that been more true than at Ness Botanic Gardens,

Photo: Martin Birchall

WEAVING ITS MAGIC FOR A YEAR CAVERN Walks’ independent menswear store, Weaver’s Door celebrated a successful first year in business by throwing an all-singing, all-dancing birthday bas attended by friends, family and customers. Guests at the event were treated to live music from Liverpool band The Loud and solo artist Johnny Sands, who performed acoustic sets while guests enjoyed food and drinks at the store in Liverpool’s Cavern Walks’ shopping centre. Store manager, Lee Fleming says: “The recession has hit retail hard, so we’re really proud to be celebrating our first birthday and a successful year in business. We want to thank everyone who came for their support.”

HAUNTINGLY GOOD NIGHT AFTER a massively successful, ninth birthday in September, monthly club-night Circus delivered another night of epic proportions on October 29. A night of ghouls and grooves, Circus’ annual Halloween bash is always one of the highlights in the city’s clubbing calendar and this year was no different. Tickets sold out well in advance of the hauntingly good event and creatively-dressed clubbers packed into Circus’ spiritual home – The Masque – to see Crosstown Rebels and Visionquest. Circus founder and Crosby native, Yousef warmed up

RUMBLE IN THE CELEBRITY JUNGLE

which held a singles night for plant-lovers recently. The event was organised by Mysinglefriend.com and the Flower Council of Holland after a study found that those with green-fingers are viewed as better prospective partners.

proceedings in the Theatre, before Jamie Jones and Damian Lazarus took to the decks. While one of the hottest labels of 2011 – Visionquest – hosted the Loft with Seth Troxler, Ryan Crosson and Lee Curtis. Continuing Circus’ penchant for colossal headliners, this month’s event is headlined by Cocoon’s Sven Vath. Making his Masque debut, Sven will play a three-hour set at the November 25 event, and for the very first time, the German techno legend is being unleashed on the Theatre. The Loft, meanwhile, will see tech-house giants, Joris Voorn and Nic Fanciulli go head-to-head in a five hour set. For tickets, visit www.chibuku.com/shop or call 3B records on 0151 353 7027.

A HOST of guests including Coronation Street’s Andrew Lancel attended a Rumble in the Jungle event at miniature golf course, Jungle Rumble in Liverpool ONE recently. Around 120 Indiana-Jones wannabes from across the city swung by the junglethemed course to try their luck at the venue’s two, 18 hole courses, putting their balls around 18,000 sq ft of wooden tikki huts, secret swamps and temple ruins.

LIVERPOOL LAD’S LYRICS WOW JUDGES AFTER five weeks and more than 1,000 entries, Toxteth-based rapper and director, Merki was chosen as the winner of ChildLine’s Final Verse 2011 Grime track competition, in partnership with SBTV. The competition offered young performers the chance to record the final verse to Teardrops, an uncompleted track by UK Grime artist, Devlin. Merki’s meaningful lyrics, impressive flow and performance won the judges over, and the 22-yearold travelled down to London to record his verse professionally as part of the prize.

BEST OF LIVERPOOL 05


Shopping for her

Baby it’s cold outside

Cape and dress from H&M

Sarah Hooley has this season’s coat trends all wrapped up...

Rupert zip knee-high boots, £110, from Schuh

AS Welsh legend Tom Jones and husky songbird Cerys Matthews once crooned, baby it’s cold outside – but with this year’s gorgeous range of coats, that’s fine by us! A stylish coat or jacket is a must-have in any woman’s winter wardrobe and offers a quick and easy way to make a favourable fashion statement. Over-sized men’s blazers are one of the key trends for this season and will give any outfit a smart and sophisticated twist. Classic macs are another style staple and 50s-inspired faux fur coats guarantee a touch of glamour. Edgy leather biker jackets and duffles are also en-vogue – and even country jackets have had an image overhaul, with a bevvy of luxe quilted or belted coats filling the shops. Team with a chunky woollen jumper, floral scarf and pair of Hunters and you’re all set for those winter walks. With so many stylish coats and accessories, make sure you button up in style this winter....

Brown handbag, £37, from River Island

Navaho tote bag, £40, from Next Wool toggle duffle coat, £75, from Topshop

06

BEST OF LIVERPOOL

Principles by Ben de Lisi belted tabacco coat, £90, from Debenhams


NOVEMBER 11 WOOL-DERLAND FIGHT off the frosty weather and keep fingers and toes toasty warm with these gorgeous winter accessories...

Leopard print earmuffs, £4.99, from Internacionale

Boots, £39.50, from Marks & Spencer Mixed yarn bootcuff, £12, from Accessorize

Sequoia suede double shoulder bag, £265, from John Lewis

Camel robin trapper hat, £14, from Dorothy Perkins

Sheepskin coat, £85, from River Island

Black gloves, £28, from River Island

Luxury faux fur coat, £199, from John Lewis Mister boots, £145, from Dune

Burgundy hat from Primark

Mittens,£12.99, from River Island

Fur Hood PU Bomber, £55, from Topshop

Mustard cable pom pom beanie, £14, from Topshop

AUDIO metallic heel boots, £75, from Topshop Black bag, £40, from River Island

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BEST OF LIVERPOOL 07


Shopping for him

T he

FASHION

Sebastian check scarf, £19.95, from White Stuff

FRONTLINE

Check army hat, £14, from Next

Paul Baker finds there’s more to getting the military look right than donning face paint and fatigues... Breton stripe t-shirt, £7, from George at ASDA

IT’S not all khaki and camouflage print, you know! The military-style has returned, front and centre to the world’s catwalks, store fronts and high streets. Attention! So, when you’re next rifling through the racks, remember that boots are good, the buttoned tunic is in, but lose the bandana and desert print, there’s a good chap. At ease, men.

Navy wool blend winter jacket, £115, from Debenhams

Neo cargo trouser, £49.95, from White Stuff

Lace-up work boots, £50, from ASOS.com

Rocha.John Rocha rucksack, £45, from Debenhams

10

BEST OF LIVERPOOL

Owen boot by Sendra Boots, £151, from Spartoo.co.uk

Khaki chinos, £105, from www.franklinandmarshall.com

Limited Collection cable knit jumper, £39.50, from Marks & Spencer

Cargo trousers, £40, from Next

Distressed brown-laced high military boot, £55, from Barratts Dr Martens lace-up boots, £159, from Spartoo.co.uk


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Shopping for him

NOVEMBER 11 Photo: PA PHoto/E1 Entertainment Films

Vamp UP YOURstyle With the upcoming release of the new Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn, Richard Lackey looks to its star, Robert Pattinson, for some fashion inspiration... BECKHAM is yesterday’s news. Ronaldo never made it. And Kanye West is just a bit too over the top for the humble man on the street. Today’s blokes have a new style icon to look up to – Robert Pattinson – whose just-got-out-of-bed look continues to be a real hit on the high street. The Brit actor is set to return to the big screen in the fourth Twilight film, Breaking Dawn, on November 18, so there’s never been a better time to copy his street style. The thesp is known for his messy, thrown together look. Stick to solid colours like black, grey and white. And layer up to smarten an otherwise casual look. After all, with screaming females following his every move, he must be doing something right!

A black leather jacket will give you attitude: Limited Collection leather jacket, £199, from Marks & Spencer

Gingham shirt, £17.99, from New Look

Limited Collection white t-shirt, £18, from Marks & Spencer

Always go for the more fitted look: Grey knit, £65, from Northesk Knit

Black bag, £89.95, from Garratt

TRACEY BELL

Remember, Rob tends to stick to greys, blacks and whites: Crafted chino, £39.99, from Republic

Either a pair of Converse or leather trainers will complete the look: Men’s black trainers, £12, from Sainsbury’s TU Clothing

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Health & beauty

NOVEMBER 11 Photos: Daniel Loy

Trend-led tresses It’s not just fashion trends that emerge from the catwalks, Katie McLoughlin visits Trimmers to find out more... FASHION’S always a step-ahead and, just as we’re heading into the depths of winter, the fashion industry is already working on its spring/summer collections. Both London and Liverpool Fashion Weeks have taken place recently, however, it’s not just fashion trends which appear on the catwalks. Hair trends begin to emerge too, as hairdressers look to the runways for inspiration. Keen to find out more about next season’s hair trends, I ventured out of the city centre to Trimmers in Maghull, where stylist, David recreated three of the styles seen at London Fashion Week using products from cult haircare brand, Neal & Wolf. A talented stylist, David’s no stranger to translating catwalk hair trends into wearable styles for

clients. Indeed David, who trained at Andrew Collinge, even teaches other hairdressers how to do the latest, high fashion styles, in seminars held at Trimmers’ sister salon in Preston. “Hair trends are moving away from tight textures and curls,” says David, as he begins to transform my tresses into a 70s-inspired, curly style as seen at Emily Wickstead’s SS12 show. After my locks were lathered up in Neal & Wolf’s beautifullyscented Ritual Daily Cleansing Shampoo & Conditioner, David blow-dried my hair into bouncy curls using Neal & Wolf Elevate Volumising Lotion and Form Sculpting Lotion to add some oomph to my usually pokerstraight locks. After a quick spritz of Fix

Instant Hold & Shine Spray, he used Cloud 9 straighteners to turn the big, volumous curls into the small, retro curls seen at London Fashion Week. The hair was curled away from my face and, with a centre parting and just a touch of volume at the crown, it had a distinctly 70s vibe. To finish the catwalk-inspired style, he combed through the curls with his hands, to give it a slightly undone look. “This is the next generation of curly hair – it’s a step away from big, overly-styled curls. It’s perfect for next season – the look is wearable and retro,” explains David, who has been at Trimmers for five years. For the second style, he gently brushed out the curls to give large, soft, tumbling Charlie’s Angelsesque waves, as seen at Issa London’s SS12 show. Slightly dishevelled plaits are another big hair trend for next season, so, for the third and final style, David created a soft, loose plait as seen at Jean-Pierre Braganza’s SS12 show. He says: “Moving away from the fishtail plait, which was a big look last year – particularly with Liverpool girls, looser plaits, with strands falling at the front, are one of the key looks for next season.”

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Contact:

Visit Trimmers at 5 Stafford Moreton Way (next to Morrisons), Liverpool, L31 2PH or call 0151 526 4024.

COMPETITION!

ONE lucky Best of Liverpool reader will win all of the Neal & Wolf products used during the review, including Ritual Daily Cleansing Shampoo; Ritual Daily Cleansing Conditioner; Elevate Volumising Lotion; Form Sculpting Lotion; Glow Super Shine Spray and Fix Instant Hold & Shine Spray. Combining pure luxury with ultimate results, Neal & Wolf’s range of decadent shampoos, conditioners and essential styling products give you an extravagant experience every day. Designed to give fantastic results without a hefty price tag, Neal & Wolf’s collection of 10 indulgent

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Post & Echo, PO Box 48, Old Hall Street, Liverpool, L69 3EB. Closing date for entries: November 18, 2011. Maximum one entry per person.

Q. How many products are in Neal & Wolf’s collection? Send your answer, along with your name, daytime telephone number and address to magazine@liverpool.com or post to: Best of Liverpool, Liverpool Daily

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BEST OF LIVERPOOL

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Fitness

CHRISTMAS RUSH! Emma Thompson starts the festive fitness countdown with seven weeks to go... WITH Christmas fast approaching, fitting into that little black dress for your big night out is looking less-and-less likely, so it’s time to turn up the exercise and shift those extra pounds! With just over a month to go there’s still time to nudge those stubborn scales in the right direction. You may not want to venture out too much now that the winter weather is here, but there’s still plenty you can do indoors. Even fitting in an extra 30 minutes at home, every couple of days, can help that dress slide over your hips and ensure you look fabulous for the festive party season! If you don’t know where to start, go back to basics – sit-ups, push-ups and squats are key in any workout, so start with these and introduce some cardio. You don’t have to own a treadmill to do cardio, even dance moves burn off calories, so turn up the radio and

NOVEMBER 11 TV TONE-UPS IF you want to get fit with a little help and guidance, there’s a fab selection of workout dvds and games available to get your blood pumping. Here’s a selection to get you started...

get yourself moving! Running up and down the stairs is another great fat-burner that you can do at home. Home fitness equipment, such as skipping ropes, arm weights, gym balls and yoga mats, can all be bought at a good price too, so you can turn your home into a makeshift gym without spending an arm and a leg. If you’re after something that works during your lunch break, then vibration boards are the big thing sweeping the fitness circuit at the moment, they claim just 15 minutes is the same as an hour-long gym workout! The vibration plate causes rapid muscle contractions which in turn is said to burn fat and tone up your body. There are a number of local gyms and salons offering them, so book yourself a session to see what you think!

Perfect for the Nintendo Wii is Zumba Fitness, £21.67, from HMV

Out December 5 on dvd is Pussycat Dolls 2: Dancer’s Body, £11.99, from Amazon.co.uk

Davina twist board with resistance tubing, £9.99; Davina rowing action exerciser, £9.99; and Davina deluxe skipping rope, £4.99, all from Argos

91cm Reebok trampoline, £49.99, from John Lewis

Shake weight, £34.99, from Sainsbury’s The Only Way is Essex; Essexercise Workout, £12.99, from HMV

Asaklitt gym ball, £8.99, from Clas Ohlson

Asaklitt yoga mat, £23.99, from Clas Ohlson

SUZANNE COLLINS’ MARATHON DIARY

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BEST OF LIVERPOOL

The gun sounded and we were off – being led by a group of cyclists and the Porsche lead vehicles. Our plan was to run for eight minutes then walk for a minute to recover, for the whole distance. As well as running with Ann Marie and Richard, my old youth worker, Jim, kept us company. He was a friend of my mum’s so it was good to have him with me, though I don’t know what they thought when I kept stopping to dance with my cheerleading troupe who were providing entertainment at various points on the route! Of course, as you’d expect it wasn’t all plain sailing, the Sefton Park stage of the course nearly had me beat. It was so repetitive. I kept saying to myself that mum was in constant pain all her life and never complained and that my pain was only temporary. It kept me smiling then and I’m smiling now as I write this. Finally, the home-stretch was in sight and I could hear the shouts of “Go on Suzanne, nearly there!” “Well done gal!” and it drove me on, I felt like the crowd were running with me! I experienced every emotion possible during the day and was thoroughly overwhelmed when I crossed the line at the Pier Head with a time of five hours and 45 minutes. I’d done it! Afterwards, my little cheerleaders performed again at the Hilton and I presented all 54 of them with medals to thank them for cheering all the runners on – I’m keeping the classes going to

support runners in March’s half marathon, so if anyone is interested, call 0151 653 3150. I want to encourage everyone to run for a cause close to their heart. It’s been a truly incredible experience, and who knows, you may see me on the start line of next year’s marathon!  

Released November 14, Strictly Come Dancing: Dance School dvd, £12.99, from Amazon

Suzanne x

Photo: Jason Roberts

WELL readers, it’s been a month or so since my last diary entry and I am delighted to report that I survived the RunLiverpool Marathon! I’m so proud that I granted my mum’s wish and ran for Diabetes UK, sadly she wasn’t with us to see me, but I know that she was there every step of the 26 miles. It was one of the best days of my life and I hope that the money raised – over £1,000 so far, will help others who suffer from diabetes. Of course, none of this would have happened without the unconditional support of my wonderful friends and family, Richard Othen, my incredible trainer and the kindness of strangers who believed in me. On the morning of the race dressed in my new running gear (thank you Mizuno!) I met up with my best pal and running partner, Ann Marie and we headed excitedly to the gates of Birkenhead Park. I’d had problems with my knees before the race, but with some intense physio, some acupuncture, strapping by Richard and many prayers that they would last the distance – they never felt so good! We joined Jamie Carragher and Andy Burnham MP who were starting the race, they both gave us loads of encouragement as did my pal Craig Phillips who’d managed to get a position at the front!

UFC Personal Trainer: Ultimate Fitness System available on the Playstation 3 (Move compatible), £32.99, from GAME Suzanne Collins is an ambassador for the RunLiverpool Marathon, which returns on October 14 2012, visit www.runliverpoolmarathon.co.uk for information.


Homotopia

OUTandABOUT A celebration of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender culture, the eighth Homotopia Festival takes place this month, with an eclectic programme of theatre, dance, film, cabaret and discussion to enjoy. Katie McLoughlin takes a look at the highlights... SAVAGE STYLE: COSTUMES FROM LILY’S WARDROBE

NOVEMBER 11 TRANNY HOTEL FOLLOWING a successful trial-run in Cologne, Germany earlier this year Tranny Hotel saunters into Liverpool for a weekend-long celebration of transgender arts on November 11-13.

HOMOTOPIA SHORT FILM NIGHT Photo: Colin Lane

ON November 15, there will be a specially curated night of five short films at Picturehouse at FACT. Starting at 6pm, the event features three new digital commissions – Shelter by Jonathan Larkin and Ben Youdan; Tom’s Coming Home, directed by Mies Mikkonen and The Vegetarian Opera by Gary Everett, which is a dark comic fable of an imprisoned clown set in a dystopian, twisted and queer world.

EDITS

SENSATIONAL costumes worn by Paul O’Grady’s alter ego, Lily Savage are being displayed for the first time as part of Homotopia. The Savage Style exhibition will see seven of Lily’s daring outfits displayed at the Walker Art Gallery, while four will be showcased at the Museum of Liverpool. Created by Birkenhead-born Paul O’Grady in the late 1970s, Lily Savage was famed for her acid tongue and daring dress sense, dominated by mini-skirts, ball gowns, animal prints and sequins. Running from November 4 until February 19, the exhibition features 11 costumes worn during Lily’s many stage and TV appearances. The striking costumes, which are displayed on life-size 6ft 1 mannequins, include a pale blue and silver ball gown, worn on Blankety Blank and a red beaded and sequined column dress with matching cape, worn for role of the Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. For more information, visit www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/savage

ALTERNATIVE MISS LIVERPOOL THE city will host its first-ever Alternative Miss Liverpool pageant next month, thanks to Homotopia and the support of local businesses. The pageant will see 30 contestants take to the catwalk to battle it out for the title of Alternative Miss Liverpool 2011. Competitors will take part in traditional day-wear and evening-wear rounds, with

quirky categories including: Butch/Femme Realness; Peacock Punks; Neo-Romantics; Tom-Boys; Liverpool Spinster; Confirmed Bachelors; Queens of the Nile, and more. Taking place in The Kazimier, the pageant will be judged by, Fenella Fielding; creator of Alternative Miss World Andrew Logan; MD of Voodou Rob Webb and Norwegian jeweller Borre Olsen. The November 12 event will feature performances by The Gary Clarke Dance Company; opera singer, Ernesto Tomasini and Le Gateau Chocolat. Tickets are priced at £13.50, available online from Unity Theatre www.unitytheatreliverpool.co.uk

ON November 9, all-male, contemporary dance company, The Featherstonhaughs will perform Lea Anderson’s highly anticipated new work – Edits – at the Contemporary Urban Centre. The six-strong Featherstonhaughs will wear stunning costumes from three-time Oscar winner, Sandy Powell for this innovative new dance piece, which features an original score played live and makes use of film editing effects. For tickets visit www.contemporaryurbancentre.org

UNDERCLASS HERO

PERFORMANCE starlet, La John Joseph presents his new work – Underclass Hero – at Unity Theatre on November 10. A true and frank tale of La John Joseph’s formative years on Liverpool’s council estates, this is the witty memoir of an oversexed, underage Catholic from the wrong side of the tracks. The show is humorous and genuinely raw, combining outspoken monologues and music. Tickets are priced at £8, available from Unity Theatre www.unitytheatreliverpool.co.uk

WIN

Held in the Adelphi, the event will see dozens of transgender artists from around the world perform in spaces throughout the hotel. Organised by Liverpool-based, transgender artist Mandy Romero, the event forms part of Homotopia and the Europe-wide Exchange Radical Moments! Live Art Festival, which takes place on Friday, November 11, across the continent. Liverpool is the only city outside London to have an Exchange Radical Moments! event, largely due to the uniqueness of Tranny Hotel and, on November 11, Tranny Hotel’s events will be streamed live as part of the live art festival. Renowned transgender performers and artists will be flying in from across the globe to perform at Tranny Hotel, which is believed to be the biggest transgender event in the UK this year. Acts include Spanish artist, Regina Fiz, who’ll perform her critically-acclaimed piece, The Ritual Wedding, and Tom Shaw, whose Drag Mountain piece will see the stairways and halls covered in a string of dresses, plus, Scottish, transsexual playwright Jo Clifford; drag, cabaret and performance artist Jonny Woo, and Canadian folk artist Rae Spoon to name just a few. Organiser, Mandy Romero says: “Plays, concerts, strange and wonderful encounters in hotel rooms – there’s something for everyone in Tranny Hotel. I hope that this will be one of those moments when transgender art moves to a new level and I’m proud that it’s all happening in Liverpool.” For more information visit www.11moments.org or http://tranny-hotel-liverpool.11moments.org. Weekend passes for Tranny Hotel are £20 and can be booked online at www.tranny-hotel.com

COMPETITION

BEST of Liverpool has teamed up with Tranny Hotel to offer one lucky winner (and their guest) the chance to experience three days of transforming encounters in stylish surroundings – as Liverpool’s Adelphi Hotel becomes Tranny Hotel, from Friday, November 11 until Sunday, November 13. The winner will win a pair of weekend passes, entitling them to entry into all of the evening concerts on Friday and Sunday evening, plus entry into the performances, which will take place throughout the hotel during Saturday

and Sunday daytime. To be in with a chance of winning, simply answer the question below: Q. Which famous Liverpool hotel will Tranny Hotel take over this November? A. Hotel Indigo B. The Liner Hotel C. The Adelphi Hotel Email your answer, name and daytime telephone number to: magazine@liverpool. com. Closing date for entries: 09/11/11. Maximum one entry per person.

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Things to do, places to see

NOVEMBER 11

With festivals, fireworks and fun for all, November’s going to be an explosive month, says Paul Baker

BY NIGHT

BY DAY ALICE IN WONDERLAND

EVERYWORD FESTIVAL

Photo: James Maloney

WIN

Photo: © Peter Blake. All rights reserved, DACS 2011

EVERYWORD 2011’s new writing festival is a two-week whirlwind of events, readings, discussions, debates and workshops. This year the festival moves to the Playhouse, taking full advantage of the different spaces around the building, including the reopening of the Playhouse Studio, from November 7-19. The internationally acclaimed, new writing company, nabokov returns to Everyword with a work in progress presentation of Liverpool playwright Michael McLean’s new play Grotesque Chaos, a one man show about Liverpool’s militant MP Derek Hatton, with Paul McGann taking the lead. Another highlight is High Hearted Theatre’s piece to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Playhouse Repertory Company. Throughout the two-week festival there will be workshops to inform and inspire writers, led by Punchdrunk, BBC Writers’ Room, Soho Theatre & Writers’ Centre and writers like Kaite O’Reilly and Mike Bartlett. www.everymanplayhouse.com

AN important new exhibition for Tate Liverpool, Alice in Wonderland takes, as its basis, Lewis Carroll’s timeless novels – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass – and explores the art that has been inspired by it. The exhibition presents Carroll’s own drawings and photographs, alongside Victorian Alice memorabilia, John Tenniel’s drawings for the first edition of the novel, surrealist artists from the 1930s onwards, alongside conceptual, pop and psychedelic artists in the 1960s and ‘70s. Not many exhibitions can mix works by artists like Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Peter Blake and Yayoi Kusama. Alice in Wonderland will run from November 4, 2011 until January 29, 2012. www.tate.org.uk/liverpool

INTERNATIONAL GUITAR FESTIVAL THE 24th International Guitar Festival of Great Britain returns to Wirral this month, running from November 4-30. Claiming to be the oldest and largest annual guitar festival, the International’s highlights include Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, Bellowhead, Phil Manzanera, classical guitarist Xuefei Yang and the Katona Twins. And, don’t miss the festival’s superb guitar workshops, including masterclasses from blues legend Catfish Keith and bluesman Woody Mann. The festival lands in venues across Wirral with concerts at The Floral Pavilion, New Brighton; Pacific Road Arts Centre, Birkenhead; the 12th century Birkenhead Priory and the Mersey Ferry Terminal at Woodside. Contact The Floral Pavilion box office for tickets: 0151 666 0000. Details of all concerts and workshops can be found on www.bestguitarfest.com

Q. Which Liverpool lad plays Danny in this version of Grease? To enter, email your answer, plus your name and daytime telephone number, to magazine@liverpool.com.

NIGHT VISION DO you believe in ghosts? If so, Night Vision Investigations – Liverpool’s very own professional Ghostbusters – invite you to spend the night in what is believed to be one of the city’s most haunted locations. The investigation takes place on Friday, November 11, when the team will be locked up in the chilling Old Police Station on Lark Lane, said to be frequented by the ghost of a former police officer and the murderess wife of the alleged Jack the Ripper. For more information visit www.nightvisioninvestigations.co.uk

CALENDAR GIRLS

COMPETITION!

BEST of Liverpool has a mega double-header of prizes up for grabs this month, courtesy of Liverpool Empire. First up, tickets for the opening night of Grease, the fab West End musical, when it rolls into town on Tuesday, November 8. To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets to the show, just answer this question:

performed on screen, famously, by Alec Guinness and, later, Tom Hanks – it promises to be a black comic feast. The show’s run coincides with the Playhouse’s 100th birthday. The celebrations will be marked by a gala performance of The Ladykillers on Friday, November 11, and the launch of a new book, Liverpool Playhouse: A Theatre and Its City, as well as a series of events throughout the day. The evening will include a preshow Champagne reception and a chance to join the cast and other members of the Playhouse family, after the show, to toast the theatre as a special birthday cake is cut. The book will be available from the Playhouse at the special price of £20. www.everymanplayhouse.com

Closing date for entries: Sunday, November 6. LATER in the month, the brilliant Calendar Girls takes over the Empire stage. For a chance to win a pair of tickets to the opening night on November 21, answer this question: Q. Which Scouse male and female stars play leading roles in Calendar Girls? To enter, send your answer on a postcard, along with your name and daytime telephone number, to Best of Liverpool, Liverpool Daily Post & Echo, PO Box 48, Old Hall Street, Liverpool, L69 3EB. Closing date for entries: Monday, November 14.

THE LADYKILLERS THIS month sees the exciting new adaptation of much-loved, Ealing comedy The Ladykillers make its world premiere at our very own Playhouse. Written by Graham Linehan (of Father Ted and IT Crowd fame) and starring BAFTA winner Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It, In the Loop) as Professor Marcus – a lead role

THE most successful play ever to tour the UK, Calendar Girls has taken more at the box office than the film it was based on! The tour appears at Liverpool’s Empire Theatre for one week only, from November 21-26, and tells the story of a group from a Women’s Institute who spark a global phenomenon by posing nude for a charity calendar! The all star cast includes Lynda Bellingham, Rula Lenska and Ruth Madoc alongside Scouse stars Jennifer Ellison and Joe McGann. www.liverpoolempire.org.uk

MUST DO MUST REMEMBER...

MUST TRY...

MUST DO...

FRESH from an electrifyin’ four year West End run, the smashhit musical Grease lands in Liverpool this month, rockin’ & rollin’ at the Empire from November 8 to 19. Following in the famous footsteps of John Travolta and Olivia Newton John, who starred in the 1978 movie version, local Liverpool duo Ray Quinn and Carina Gillespie take the roles of Danny and his sweetheart Sandy. www.liverpoolempire.org.uk

THE First National bar has a special charity day to celebrate mod culture! Whether you remember it the first time round, its second coming in the late 70s, or, if you’re just a big fan of scooters, Quadrophenia and all things mod, make sure you don’t miss Project 11 as it promises to be a superb event. Taking place on Friday, November 11, the event will feature 11 mod bands playing over an 11 hour period, to raise money for 11 different charities. Tickets are (you guessed it) £11. Call 0151 236 6194 for ticket details.

POLITICAL activist and singer, Billy Bragg has been running the Left Field at Glastonbury Festival since 2010. With a belief in making music with something to say, Bragg is taking The Left Field on tour and comes to Liverpool’s Picket for two nights – November 25 and 26, 2011. In an effort to showcase young artists who are mixing pop and politics, he is joined by The Hip Hop Shakespeare Company, Akala and also the hip hop poetry of Sound of Rum. Tickets are available from The Philharmonic, call 0151 709 3789 or go online at www.musicglue.com/billybragg

AFTER their sellout show at the Birkenhead Priory 2010, TJ & Murphy will be returning on November 19. Following the release of their second studio album, Hurricanes, the lads have toured extensively and are now set to bring their mix of acoustic and electric songs back to the Priory. This will be TJ & Murphy’s last show of 2011, bringing to an end a very busy year. After the success of last year, buy tickets early to avoid disappointment! Tel: 0151 666 0000, www.bestguitarfest.com

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Photo: Mike Warnes

MUST SEE...


Bonfire Night

NOVEMBER11

EXPLOSIVE SHOW

WINTER WARMERS

Emma Thompson finds some flaming-good events for you to enjoy this November 5...

Photo: Stuart Bogg

YOUR little ones will be pushing past their bed time and waiting for the ‘oohs and aahhs’ to come when watching the firework displays, so make sure they’re wrapped up warm. Hats, scarves, gloves and even earmuffs all need to be found as the winter weather draws in, and as Saturday, November 5 is Bonfire Night, they’ll need to be as snug as a bug in a rug during the dark evening displays! Here’s a small selection to help you find your children the ideal warm and wonderful winter warmers... Zip cardigan, £22, plus hat and mitten set, £16, from Mamas and Papas

Patterned trapper hat, £8, from Next

Photo: Gavin Trafford

LIVERPOOL LIVERPOOL is once-again planning fantastic firework displays in both Sefton Park and Newsham Park this Bonfire Night. The displays start at around 7.30pm and last for about 20 minutes on November 5. It’s best to get there early though, as these free events are hugely popular and attract people from all over the city. Photo: Andrew Teebay

RUNCORN & WIDNES

ST HELENS

SOUTHPORT ON November 5, Southport Hesketh Round Table presents a bonfire and firework display in Southport’s Victoria Park. The event, which is in aid of Help for Heroes, starts at 5pm when the gates will be opened and ends at 10pm. Tickets are priced at £7 for adults and £3 for children aged five to 14. Entry is free for children under five.

ST HELENS Council’s fantastic, free firework display – Spark in the Park – will once-again light up the sky above Sherdley Park on Saturday, November 5. The popular family event, which starts with a new, children’s firework display at 6.15pm, will end with a spectacular grand firework display, choreographed to music, at about 7pm. As well as dazzling fireworks displays, there will be a family funfair open from 5pm until around 9pm. Car parking will be £3 per vehicle and be available at Sutton Leisure Centre, Sherdley Park and Lea Green Train Station. It promises to be a great night out for all the family, so come along and join the fun!

A HOST of free, community firework displays will take place in Wirral on November 5. The events, which are all expected to start at around 6.30pm, will take place at Lingham Park, Moreton; Upton Park, Moreton; Woodchurch Leisure Centre; Birkenhead Park; Central Park, Wallasey; Mersey Park, Tranmere; Mayer Park, Bebington and Leasowe Adventure Playground (including a community organised bonfire). Meanwhile in Meols Park, on Sunday, November 6, there will be a fun day and fireworks display organised by Friends of Meols Park. The day starts around noon for all the community to enjoy and there will be a funfair, hot dogs, burgers and chips and, of course, mulled wine. The fireworks display is due to start at approximately 6.30pm (dependant on weather conditions).

Stripe knitted scarf, hat and gloves set, £10, from Marks & Spencer

Girls’ multi-stripe hat and mitten set, £4, from Matalan

Event details can change. Please check with the organisers that the event is happening before making travel arrangements. Photo: Rob Stratford

HALTON Council is also hosting a wonderful, free firework display on November 5, with entertainment from 6.30pm including music from the local radio station to entertain the crowds. The firework display will be starting around 7.30pm with an explosive, 20 minute show. Viewing is from Mersey Road, Runcorn and Victoria Promenade, and West Bank, Widnes. Free parking is available in Runcorn and Widnes town centres and Catalyst Car Park, Spike Island, Widnes.

WIRRAL

Boys’ skull fleece hat, scarf and glove set, £5, from Matalan

Pink bunny hat, £5, from Next

BEST OF LIVERPOOL

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The BIG interview

Photo: James Maloney

CalendarMAN Katie McLoughlin talks to Joe McGann about his role in Calendar Girls...

HE may only be on stage during the first half, but some may say that Joe McGann has the most important role in Calendar Girls – the smash-hit show which is at the Liverpool Empire later this month. Joe, the eldest of Liverpool’s McGann acting clan, plays John in the acclaimed show, whose death from NonHodgkin’s Lymphoma inspires a group of Yorkshire WI women to strip off for a charity calendar to raise funds for leukaemia research. “I’ve just died on stage,” says the 53-year-old actor, as I chat to him fresh from completing a matinee performance on Calendar Girls’ 21-venue tour. “I haven’t done a part before where I’ve been on stage so little, but it’s integral to the plot, the rest of the play is about John.” Based on the inspiring true story, Tim Firth’s stage adaptation of Calendar Girls has been phenomenally successful, with it’s box office takings even eclipsing those of the 2003 film version, starring Helen Mirren. Coming to the Liverpool Empire on November 21-26, this will be the show’s final tour before the amateur rights are released. Calendar Girls marks a return to the Liverpool stage for Joe, who last trod the boards at the Empire during the show’s 2010 tour. “I always love playing the Empire,” muses the actor. “They’re a nice crew there and it’s a big, wide theatre, so you have to remember to play both sides. Liverpool audiences are a great audience – if you’re sh**e, they’ll let you know and if you’re good, they’ll really back you and when you get them all laughing, it’s great.” With his sensitive, shaven-head performance praised during previous tours in 2010 and earlier this year, will Joe be doing anything differently for this, his third Calendar Girls’ tour? “Because my character is only on stage for the first half, it’s relatively easy to keep it fresh and it helps that it’s very well written. I come on, do half an hour and then I’m off! And, whether you’re playing a big place like the Empire, or a smaller place, it’s different every night because you get to feel what the audience feel.” Brought up in Kensington, Joe made a name for himself on TV shows like The Upper Hand and ITV soap, Night & Day. But it’s theatre where his true passion lies.

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“I’ve always preferred the theatre,” he says. “My view on TV work is that it’s all well and good if I can fit it in, and the script is good, then I’ll do it, but what I love is theatre work.” The theatre bug first bit Joe at an early age, as he explains: “I knew I wanted to work in theatre from a very young age. I went to watch The Ghost Train, I think it was as a reward for passing my 11 plus and, since then, I knew it was what I wanted to do. The next week I went and joined the Everyman Youth Theatre, it was local to me and it was also a way to meet girls!” As we chat, it’s clear that Joe is excited about his return to the Liverpool stage. With a part in a long-running production like Calendar Girls, he’s also enjoying that rarity in the acting trade – a sense of job security, which, he explains, allows him to do other, less commercial projects: “It’s nice to have a long contract – it

“I always love playing the Empire. Liverpool audiences are a great audience – if you’re sh**e, they’ll let you know and if you’re good, they’ll really back you.” enables me to make choices, to do the smaller things like Lost Monsters. There’s always been a play-off between commercial shows and TV work and smaller plays, I like doing new work mostly and things like this enable me to do it.” Joe earned rave reviews for his performance in Lost Monsters, a poetic play by Liverpool writer Laurence Wilson at the Everyman in 2009, but what has been his most memorable part over the years? “My favourite role is probably One Fine Day, a one-man-play at the Playhouse, which went on to the West End,” says Joe. “It was a very challenging piece

about a man who is wrongly accused of sexually assaulting his daughter. It’s interesting because I’ve been asked if I would do the play again, but no theatres will touch it now because of the content. The fact he didn’t do it is neither here nor there, it’s about the stigma. The guy I play, Eddie, never loses his sense of humour and, being on stage on my own for two hours, was a coming of age for me as an actor.” He adds: “I’ve been blessed that I’ve been able to do a lot of different things. Some people say there’s wisdom in specialising, but I like to diversify what I do. I know what I’m like, I’ve got the attention span of a mud fly and doing different things keeps me interested.” Joe, who received a LIPA companion accolade in 2009, has certainly done a wide variety of work during his 30-year-career. With many of his most notable projects – like One Fine Day, Lost Monsters and the Liverpool Nativity – staged in the city, has Liverpool had an influence on Joe’s career as an actor? “Enormously,” says Joe. “Growing up in Liverpool in the 60s and 70s was a great time. The generation above us, who had gone through the war, they wanted the best for us kids and, if you look at the generation that includes us lads, David Morrissey and the like, we were all encouraged to do things. Liverpool was the cultural centre of the universe in the 60s, it was everywhere. Growing up in that time, it was a hot-bed of talent. “The identity of Liverpool and its people, they are a great audience, they are a theatre-going audience. It’s different to the rest of England in the way that everyone goes to the theatre.” Proud of his home-city, the actor is certainly looking forward to his return stage later this month. And, with his charming nature and talented performances, we’re sure Liverpool audiences can’t wait for his return either. Joe McGann, Jennifer Ellison, Ruth Madoc and Lynda Bellingham star in Calendar Girls at the Liverpool Empire Theatre, for one week only from November 21 until November 26. For tickets, call 0844 871 3017 or book online at www.liverpoolempire.org.uk


NOVEMBER 11 Photo: Paul Heaps

A RIGHT ROYAL DOUBLE-ACT Flying Superlambanas, cancan-dancing nuns and a kung fu priest are all in a day’s work for Rachel Rae and Stephen Fletcher. Katie McLoughlin meets the young actors to find out more... FROM tinsel and trees to Santa and his sleigh, some things are just meant to go together at Christmas. And, in the world of festive shows, Stephen Fletcher and Rachel Rae are one Christmas partnership not to be missed. The pair have played a couple in three Christmas shows at the Royal Court, notching up an impressive 122 performances together at the Roe Street theatre. “Is that how many it is?” says Rachel in amazement when I catch up with her and Stephen to talk about their next show at the Royal Court together – Little Scouse on the Prairie. “I thought it would have been more than that because we’ve done Stags and Hens, Merry Ding Dong and Scouse Pacific, so this is our fourth show at the Royal Court,” muses Stephen. Written by Fred Lawless, the Liverpool writer who penned the smash-hit comedies Scouse Pacific and Merry Ding Dong, Little Scouse on the Prairie promises to be another fun-filled, festive extravaganza and, you guessed it, Rachel and Stephen have once-again been cast as a couple. “It’s pretty much the same family as Scouse Pacific,” says Rachel. “So I’m ‘Richard’ Head, you can put that in inverted commas,” jokes Stephen. “And I’m Donna-Marie,” adds Rachel. At the Royal Court from November 25 until January 7, Little Scouse on the Prairie picks up where last year’s Christmas comedy – Scouse Pacific – left off, as Stephen explains: “Where we left the story, is that we were all loaded and we went back to Liverpool to live happilyever-after. Only now it’s all gone a little bit pear-shaped again and the family has fallen on hard times.” Rachel adds: “They’re all living above Father O’Flaherty’s Catholic Club.” “And they’re trying to think of a money-making scheme to rescue the place,” Stephen continues. “But then, they’re having a karaoke party, a big knees-up do to try and raise some money. Then there’s a Wizard of Oz moment, when we go from normal life in Speke to

the fantasy wild west of Arizona, where everyone takes on the cartoon version of their life in Liverpool!” “And it’s all through the medium of song,” laughs Rachel. This being a Christmas comedy, there’s also a fair few gags, as Stephen explains: “There’s a flying lambanana, an Elvis tribute at the end, a kung fu Father O’Flaherty and French cancan-dancing nuns. We’ve got a Dick Dastardly kind of baddy in Paul Duckworth too and it’s pretty much the same team as last year, so it’s more of the same cast.” Rachel and Stephen in Scouse Pacific at the Royal Court

As well as Rachel, Stephen and Paul, the cast of this madcap, Scouse western includes Lindzi Germain, Alan Stocks and legendary Kirkby actor Andrew Schofield. Stephen adds: “The Royal Court is very much built as an entertainment venue, it offers value and people trust what goes on there. And, of course, they’ve got kind of a rep feel – seeing the same actors, the audience invest in them and know they’re going to have a good time if they’re in it.” With a stellar cast and a wonderfully witty writer

behind the script, Little Scouse on the Prairie promises to be another cracker of a Christmas show for the Royal Court. Meeting Rachel and Stephen, it’s easy to see why they’ve been cast as a couple so many times. The pair simply bounce off each other and have the kind of energy and rapport that only friends can. Yet, if it wasn’t for the Royal Court, they may never have met. Both LIPA graduates, Rachel, 26, and Stephen, 30, missed each other at the performing arts school by a matter of years. Rachel says: “I think we kinda knew of each other because of LIPA, but it was probably Stags and Hens when we first met properly.” “I think on our first meeting we had to kiss for the audition,” remembers Stephen. Having become good friends outside of work, playing a convincing couple comes naturally to the talented theatre stars. “It makes it easier because we are so comfortable with each other,” says Rachel. “After most shows, people always go: ‘Is that your fella?’” Their friendship off-stage also makes improvising onstage a lot easier. “If stuff goes wrong, you know what the other is thinking before you’ve even opened your mouth,” Stephen explains. “It’s interesting because the show starts with an average running time of, say an hour, for the first half. By the end of the show, you tend to have added an extra half an hour of ad lib!” It might make the shows a tad longer, but ad libbing and interaction with the audience are what makes the Royal Court’s Christmas shows so popular. “I think the Royal Court definitely allows you to do stuff that you probably wouldn’t be allowed to do at other theatres,” says Rachel. “The way the audience contributes to the performance makes every show different and that’s what’s so great about the Royal Court – the way it appeals to people who might not be regular theatre-goers, but once they go, they love it.” Little Scouse at the Prairie is at the Royal Court Theatre from November 25 until January 7. For tickets, visit www.royalcourtliverpool.co.uk or call 0870 787 1866.

ONES TO WATCH STE PORTER STE Porter is widely tipped as Liverpool’s next big comedy talent. Since turning professional, in early 2007, the funnyman has quickly earned himself a huge following and Ste is now resident MC at Liverpool’s legendary Laughterhouse Comedy nights. Ste is known for his quick wit, relaxed style and warm stage presence. His ever-expanding CV already includes stints at numerous venues and his rise to fame shows no signs of slowing down. Ste will be bringing his unmissable style of comedy to Laughterhouse Comedy nights throughout November at The Slaughter House on Fenwick Street. For more details visit www.laughterhousecomedy.com

ANGELA SIMMS AN actress from Stoneycroft, Angela Simms, is currently gracing our television screens in the latest instalment of adverts for Aldi supermarkets. The young starlet, 25, fought off competition from over 100 other actresses to play a woman ‘obsessed’ with mayonnaise! Angela, who is a graduate of prestigious Stella Adler Studio of Acting, New York, says: “I have been acting since I was 14 at the Everyman Youth Theatre, which really stood me in good stead for the audition as we had to improvise advertising a product. “I really enjoyed filming the advert and it was great to be able to film in Liverpool.” Angela also recently had a role in the stage version of Rita, Sue and Bob Too! at St Helens Theatre Royal.

GILLIAN HARDIE AND KEDDY SUTTON LIVERPOOL actresses Gillian Hardie and Keddy Sutton first met in 2008 while doing Willy Russell’s Stags and Hens at the Royal Court Theatre. During the stint, the idea of writing a musical together developed and after three years of ups-and-downs, Scotty Road the Musical: from Primark to prison – the hilarious story of Caz and Britney – was born. Gillian and Keddy have been performing numbers from the musical across the country, including The Frog and Bucket in Manchester, Liverpool Pride and most recently HMS President on the Thames. They can next be seen in Unity Theatre’s Lavender Girls, on November 5.

BEST OF LIVERPOOL

17


Children

NOVEMBER 11

STARS OF

SHOWTIME! Richard Lackey throws the spotlight on two of the many dance and drama centres in Liverpool giving kids the chance to be stars...

TOMORROW

Richard Lackey looks at the rise of talent agencies in the city CHILD modelling and acting agencies are springing up all over Liverpool. Thanks to hit shows like The X-Factor, America’s Next Top Model and its British equivalent, more and more kids fancy a career on the television, on the charts and on the catwalk. Since 2007, Allstars Casting, on Hope Street, has had some of the city’s most talented actors on its books, with many finding stints on TV, film and theatre. And, in the last six months, it has also set up its own modelling agency, testament to the recent rise of wannabe child models.

just offer a get-famous-quick scheme. She says: “There has been a real increase in children just wanting to be in the limelight, and wanting to be famous and rich, but we discourage that. “They have to be grounded and understand that they could be flavour of the month one minute and not the next. They have to enjoy the success, but realise the knock-backs are part of the process.” Instead, Allstars, with the help of top industry professionals who’ve worked with the likes of supermodel Kate Moss, provides its posing prodigies not only with such things as catwalk and make-up tips, but with the valuable life-skills needed to survive in what is a competitive, and at times, cut-throat, industry. Among its recent success stories is Chloe Thomson, aged seven, who has already enjoyed working as an actress and model on BBC drama Savage and BBC3 reality model show, Hot Like Us. Maisy Parsons may only be six-yearsold, but she’s already landed herself a modelling job for high street giant,

Sylvie Gatrill is Allstars’ director

FUNKY FEET

Allstars’ Maisy Parsons landed herself a modelling job for high street giant, Debenhams

Debenhams. And, when searching for new models, Sylvie and her team are looking for one thing – confidence. She says: “There has to be a bit of an actor in the model. Every photoshoot requires some acting skills. “So, I’m looking to see if they have the ability to be whatever the photographer wants them to be. Versatility is everything.”

FUNKY Feet is run by principal Helen Norton. Helen and her dance troupes have had much to shout about in recent years, having performed in spectacular venues such as the Royal Albert Hall in London, and our very own Empire Theatre. Funky Feet’s most recent triumph was its annual production show, which wowed audiences at the Contemporary Urban Centre in Liverpool. Born-and-bred in Liverpool, Helen trained at Merseyside Dance and Drama Centre, and graduated in 1999 with a distinction diploma and teaching qualifications in all subjects. She then spent many years travelling the world with Celebrity Cruises, and toured in musicals, theatre and arena tours for the likes of Ray Quinn. Classes are held in Fazakerley, Liverpool and Widnes, Cheshire. For more information call Helen on 07782 653599.

If you think your child has got what it takes to become Allstars’ newest talent, visit www.allstarscasting.co.uk

MERSEYSIDE DANCE AND DRAMA CENTRE Sylvie Gatrill is a star of stage and screen, and as Allstars’ director uses her wealth of experience to train the stars of tomorrow. In terms of models, Sylvie represents 30 individuals, from babies to adults, with an equal number of males and females. Potentials are invited to send in their photograph, along with a CV, and if they’ve got what it takes they’ll be called for an interview. Modelling jobs range from catalogue shoots to commercials, but, as Sylvie told Best of Liverpool, Allstars doesn’t

Allstars’ Chloe Thomson has already enjoyed success as an actress and model

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BEST OF LIVERPOOL

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Homes

NOVEMBER 11

Sweet dreams Sarah Hooley discovers that creating the perfect bedroom is child’s play... WHETHER your little princess has been enchanted by Sleeping Beauty’s spell-binding castle or Rapunzel’s magical hair, why not make her dream come true with her very own fairytale bedroom? A timeless theme for any young girl’s bedroom, princess décor is all about capturing the magic of their favourite princess, story or cartoon and can be easy to create. From candyfloss pink duvet sets and beautiful four poster beds to magic mirrors, your little princess can live happily ever after. Disney Princess royal shaped plush cushion, £9.99, from www.characterworld.uk.com

Princess nursery wall stickers, £40, from www.SpottyGreenFrog.co.uk

Fantasy coach, from www.poshtots.com Heart rug, £15, from Next

Dream word, £12, from Next Maypole pony hobby horse, £24.99, from Utility in Liverpool ONE and Bold Street

Classical white small mirror, £200, from Sweetpea & Willow

Four poster bed, from ASPACE

Disney Princess carriage toddler bed by Worlds Apart, available from Tesco, Amazon and Argos

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BEST OF LIVERPOOL


Dear Santa... Christmas

Now that November has arrived, Father Christmas’ postbag will be groaning under the weight of letters from children everywhere. Paul Baker finds out what they’re all asking for...

NOVEMBER 11 CLASSIC TOYS TOYS are getting more amazing and technological every year, but some toys have stood the test of time for hundreds of years due to their sheer brilliance! Give your child a vintage toy this year and watch their little eyes light up...

IT’S a pretty tough job for Santa to keep up with what the kids are into year after year. Some things, like Star Wars, dolls and cuddly toys never seem to go out of style, but who would have predicted Hexbugs and Air Swimmers would be top of the wee ones’ wish lists this year? Luckily Toys R Us gave Best of Liverpool the heads-up, so we can be totally prepared for all that Santa will be leaving under the tree this year... Will Star Wars’ popularity ever diminish? Not when cool toys like the Ultimate FX Lightsaber are available, but it’s more fun to make your own sound effects. Tzzzchooooom-tchuush – take that Vader! £39.99 If they’re not ready for a real dog, this huggable Fur Real puppy called Cookie might fit the bill. He even responds when you call him, £56.24 These beautiful vintage jigsaw blocks make for a simple puzzle for younger children, £14.95, from Cancer Research UK online: www.shoptobeatcancer.org.uk It’s good to see dolls are still much loved toys and Baby Annabel is much wanted this year, £44.97 Who would have thought Fireman Sam would make a return to the big time, over 25 years after he first hit the small screen? Mini fire fighters will love his Pontypandy Rescue Set, £24.99

Air Swimmers (left and below) are high on the must-have list this year. Be amazed as these balloon fish fly through the air, all remotely controlled by you, £39.99 each

A rocking chair is a wonderful gift for children to treasure. This one features Dylan the horse and his friend Boo, £125, from www.littlebirdtoldme.co.uk

Get grooving with Let’s Rock Elmo. The interactive Sesame Street character comes fully equipped with tambourine, microphone and drums for musical mayhem! £59.99

Barbie’s still as young and trendy as ever thanks to her Puppy Water Park, £19.99

Nice – the Monster High Lagoonas Hydration Station, £34.99

Hexbug Nanos. These mechanical bugs bump and scurry like real insects around tracks. £24.99

Fresh from recent Disney film Cars 2, Secret Spy Attack Finn McMissile comes complete with Michael Caine voiceover! £29.99

Skittles is a classic game that will still excite children today, £8.95, from Cancer Research UK online: www.shoptobeatcancer.org.uk

BEST OF LIVERPOOL

21


Christmas

Deck the halls...

NOVEMBER 11 Hanging bell star decoration, £10, from John Lewis

It takes more than a bit of tinsel to turn your home into a real winter wonderland this Christmas says Katie McLoughlin, as she takes a look at the latest festive decorations to hit the shops... Wool snowman tree decoration, £3.50, from John Lewis

Fill your own Christmas crackers, £5 for a set of six, from John Lewis

Wool toadstool tree decoration, £2, from John Lewis

Oslo chair, from £275; natural chunky knit cushion, £20; red stag cushion, £12; lit silver paper star lamp, £16; pre-lit silver sequin garland, £22; mini glitter trees (set of five), £6; santa stocking, £5; silver round twist mirror, £99; 6ft white flock tree, £60; 50 piece mixed shatterproof bauble set, £10; and red crackers (set of 12), £12, all from Next

Digital bauble, £15, from Marks & Spencer

Premier Nut Cracker soldiers, £7.99, from Taskers

John Lewis mini Lewis bear tree decoration, £3.50, from John Lewis

Finesse silver or gold glitter peacock, £1.99 each, from Taskers Christmas tealights, £3.50, from Sainsbury’s

Metal lantern tealight holder, £8, from John Lewis

Rapid has a range of fibreoptic trees to between, prices start from £10.99 Moose lights, £9.50, from John Lewis LED reindeer, £69.99, from Rapid

Wooden reindeer candle holders, £12, from John Lewis

22

BEST OF LIVERPOOL


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BEST OF LIVERPOOL

PARTY NIGHTS

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Christmas

NOVEMBER 11

FESTIVE frolics

Ephesus Restaurant Taverna

Emma Thompson turns away the turkey and discovers some Christmas venues with a twist... ROYAL COURT COMEDY MAKE sure your festive party’s one to remember at Rawhide Comedy Club at the Royal Court Theatre. With dinner prepared by an award-winning chef, top notch comedians and a compere from the national circuit, Rawhide is the complete Christmas package. There’s a delicious dining choice from chicken on roast chestnut mash to a fine fillet steak or even a Thai king prawn curry or fillet of sea bass, plus Scouse is even on the menu! Prices for food and comedy ticket cost £30 for a Thursday and £40 for Friday and Saturday. Log on to www.rawhidecomedy.co.uk or call 0870 787 1866.

LUNYA Photos: Andrew Teebay

THIS Catalan restaurant and deli sources the finest ingredients to provide a wide range of tapas and a la carte meals blending recipes, ideas and ingredients from Spain and the UK together. This year, Lunya is offering a delicious Festive Tapas Banquet which boasts five mouth-watering courses including luxury Spanish meats and cheeses, Chorizo sautéed in white wine, Catalan pigs in blankets, patatas bravas and so much more. From December 8, the festive dinner is £27.95. Lunya, situated on College Lane, Liverpool ONE, now also provides excellent tapas gift hampers that can be delivered anywhere in the country. Log on to www.lunya.co.uk or call 0151 706 9770.

AINTREE RACECOURSE THIS year, Aintree Racecourse will be holding a range of Christmas parties which will bring a taste of Monte Carlo to Aintree. Prices start from £34.50 a ticket and guests will be greeted with a red carpet entrance which leads into the millionaires’ casino and a glitzy Champagne bar. There will be a five course dinner and entertainment from the Show Girl Cabaret, Can Can dancers and aerial silk dances. Afterwards, guests can race on Monaco circuit Grand Prix simulators, dance in a state-of-the-art disco with intelligent

lights or race on a Deluxe Dodgem car circuit. Call 0151 522 2922 for details.

CHAOPHRAYA THAI RESTAURANT EXPERIENCE a delicious taste of Asia at Chaophraya this festive season in the elegant surroundings within Liverpool ONE. There’s two set menus to choose from, for guests of 10 or more, starting at £29.50 per person or £22.50 for lunch. You can opt for tempura prawns to start or four-seasons duck curry for your main or king prawns with ginger to name but a few delights. For parties of less than 10 guests, Chaophraya’s a la carte and standard set menus are available throughout the festive season. Log on to www.chaophraya.co.uk or call 0151 707 6323.

ANFIELD LIVERPOOL Football Club has some new and exciting acts, with popular favourites returning for the Christmas events package. The impressive line up features tribute acts such as Freddie Mercury, The Blues Brothers and Michael Jackson, along with the popular Wig Wam Glam, Street Level and Abbasolutely Live, all performing in specially themed rooms. Plus, all of the festive nights include a red carpet arrival, reception drink, superb entertainment and fantastic food by an award-winning chef. You’ll be able to pick from a delicious, four course meal or the fabulous carvery menu. Prices start around £35. Call 0151 263 7744 for full details.

MERSEY FERRIES FIND your sea legs this Christmas party season aboard Mersey Ferries’ unique Christmas venue on December 16 and 17. The resident DJ Krazy Lez will be on-hand to make sure the dance floor keeps on pumping with sounds from the 70s through to the present. Plus, pull on some fancy dress from your favourite era, and if yours is the best outfit, you could win a bottle of Champagne! The approximately three and a half hour cruise departs the Pier Head, Liverpool at 8.30pm and Seacombe, Wirral at 8.45pm. Price £15 per person, call 0151 330 1444 or visit any Mersey Ferries terminal for details.

COMEDY CENTRAL AT BABY BLUE OFFERING the perfect Yuletide mix of food and merriment, Comedy Central at Baby Blue on the Albert Dock is the ideal place to enjoy the festivies. Be entertained by some of the best comedians on the UK

WIN

circuit, while enjoying a three course dinner, priced from £45, which includes the likes of pan-fried Orkney scallops to start and mains like wild seabass or 6oz Cumbrian ribeye. Alternatively, you can opt for the tasty Christmas buffet, from £35, where you can enjoy mini cranberry and camembert cheese tartlet, roast turkey and roasted butternut squash and thyme risotto. Call 0151 702 5831 for full details.

EPHESUS RESTAURANT & TAVERNA OFFERING excellent Turkish, Greek, Italian and British cuisine, this restaurant and taverna is a great place to get in the festive spirit. Situated on Blundell Street in the city centre, Ephesus has elegant surroundings plus a big, Turkish barbecue where you can watch the chef cook! Ephesus has live entertainment, depending on the night, with professional belly dancers, traditional folk dancing and musicians. From the Christmas menu you can choose from spicy meatballs or feta cheese salad to start, and from Kleftico lamb shank to vegetarian moussaka for mains. Log on to www.ephesusliverpool.co.uk or call 0151 709 3060.

SAKURA THIS fabulous, Japanese restaurant offers dining and entertainment in one venue as the highly experienced chefs cook right in front of your table. Situated Exchange Flags (behind Liverpool Town Hall) the restaurant serves a mix of classic and modern Japanese cuisine while DJs explore their musical selection throughout the evening. On the set Christmas menu you can select from teppan griddled sweet shrimp with lime and garlic or red miso soup with tofu to start, or for mains, sirloin of beef sukiyaki with garlic to chicken teriyaki, along with Japanese desserts. Log on to www.sakuraliverpool.com or call 0151 236 2113.

in

YOUR CHRISTMAS PARTY AT VIVA BRAZIL!

BRAZILIAN steakhouse and bar, Viva Brazil is getting into the Christmas spirit by offering one lucky reader the chance to win a VIP Christmas meal for 12! “We thought we would spread some Christmas cheer by offering an extraspecial, Brazilian festive feast for one group of workers,” says Jaf Siddiqi, operations director at Viva Brazil. Viva Brazil, in Castle Street, brings the sounds and tastes of South America to Liverpool. This fabulous restaurant offers guests an authentic Brazilian dining experience, based

on a tradition dating back hundreds of years to the cowboys of South America. Passadors move from table to table hand-carving more than 15 select cuts of meat from large skewers, while mobile cocktail stations skilfully create the perfect mix at your table. The concept is simple – Viva Brazil gives you more – more of everything... food, service and atmosphere! Good luck, or boa sorte, from all the staff at Viva Brazil! To be in with a chance of winning this Christmas feast for you and 12 others, just answer this simple question (terms and conditions apply):

Q. What is the name of Santa’s Red Nose Reindeer? Email your answer, along with your name and daytime phone number, to magazine@liverpool.com. Closing date for entries: November 10. Maximum one entry per person.

BEST OF LIVERPOOL 25


­Food & drink

NOVEMBER 11

FRENCHfancy Richard Lackey finds a restaurant with the ‘ooh-la-la’ factor on Hanover Street...

EAT YOUR GREENS LIVERPOOL’S cherished son, Sir Paul McCartney, is arguably the world’s most famous vegetarian, so it seems apt that the city is to host the Incredible Veggie Roadshow later this month. Organised by Europe’s largest vegetarian and vegan campaigning group, Viva!, the event will feature veggie cuisine, cookery demonstrations, plus health and nutrition information for those tempted by the meatfree lifestyle. Juliet Gellatley, founder and director of Viva!, says: “There will be something for everyone, from the veggie curious to the seasoned vegan.” The event arrives at Liverpool Town Hall on Saturday, November 26. Entry is free and doors open from 10.30am-4pm. Visit www.viva.org.uk/liverpool for details, or call 0117 944 1000.

SUN-DRIED TOMATO AND ASPARAGUS PASTA WITH PESTO (SERVES 3-4) RECIPE FROM VIVA!’S TONY WARDLE

FRENCH brasserie, Hanover Street Social has all the hallmarks of a great restaurant. The food at this Liverpool newcomer is sophisticated, yet tasty. The interior décor is understated, yet stylish. The atmosphere is seductive and inviting. The service, impeccable, the prices, reasonable. And, although I have yet to fulfil my desire to visit Paris, this is how I imagine it to be. The restaurant is situated in the heart of the city, on, you guessed it, Hanover Street, and is a convenient hop, skip and a jump from Central Station. My visit took place on one particularly dreary mid-week evening in October – the perfect night for some home-cooked grub in toasty surroundings. The restaurant was quiet and relaxed, with only a handful of punters sampling the fine cuisine (although it was early evening and the eatery has plenty of time to garner a following). Inside, the owners (the brains behind fellow Hanover Street establishment, Salt House Tapas) have recreated an old-style café feel, the variety of which you would expect to find on the tree-lined boulevards of the French capital. The lighting is low and the furnishings fuse deep woods with copper industrial metal fixtures to a backdrop of exposed terracotta bricks. It instantly feels warm and cosy, and, if the food wasn’t so sumptuous, you’d be forgiven for taking a nap! On the food front, at first glance of the menu, I have to admit, I was somewhat perplexed. I’m no food expert and I don’t pretend to be, so a lot of the entries went right over my head. But, I am always up for wrapping my taste-buds around new and undiscovered flavours – and was confident that my love for good, honest food would be fulfilled. And it certainly was. For starters, I tucked into merguez sausage and bean cassoulet (£4.80), followed by a delicious main of pan-fried sea bass with lobster risotto (£13.50). The fish was cooked to perfection and the lobster risotto had a gorgeous, buttery flavour. A cheese board (£5) came next and perfectly rounded off my

27

BEST OF LIVERPOOL

gastronomic journey across the Channel. My fellow foodie in crime for the evening, Paul, ordered a classic French onion soup with grilled gruyére crouton (£3.95), which went down a storm, followed by the Hanover Street Social hamburger, with cheese, French fries and dill pickle (£10.50), which he described as “meaty” and “gorgeous.” He topped his three course feast off with Earl Grey crème brulee (£4), which was greeted with an equally euphoric reaction. Hanover Street Social is a wonderful new addition to the city and I will definitely be making a return visit, probably one Sunday morning for its Eggs Benedict breakfast. Its laid-back, classy Parisian ambience lends itself to the type of place I would want to slowly awake from my slumber.

Hanover Street Social is open from 7.30am for breakfast through until 10.30pm. You can enjoy a two-course lunch for just £8.95. For bookings call 0151 709 8784, or visit www.hanoverstreetsocial.co.uk

Ingredients: Half a pack sun-dried tomatoes 1 bunch asparagus 250g/8oz fusilli or penne pasta 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped Half a jar vegan pesto Handful of finely chopped fresh coriander Freshly ground black pepper and salt Method: Boil two kettles of hot water – most of this is to cook the pasta. Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water. Cover and set aside. Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus, chop the remainder into 2cm pieces and steam until just tender. Cook pasta in a pan of boiling water for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the chopped garlic and gently fry until lightly browned. Drain the pasta and mix in the cooked asparagus pieces, cooked garlic, vegan pesto and herbs. Drain the sun-dried tomatoes, chop into small pieces with scissors and add to the pasta mixture. Add salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.


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age, real skin solutions and choice, from a whole range of anti-aging products and procedures that we can combine uniquely for their needs and budget, and then be able to maintain the great results indefinitely.” It’s easier than you think to erase years of sun damage, pigment redness lines, veins, lax skin and scarring, even treating the symptoms of rosacea and acne are now relatively straight forward. The idea is to improve your looks by seeing the big picture and to regain one’s youthful facial contours and volume, which means smoother skin, a firmer jawline, fuller cheeks and, in effect, a youthful V-shape. As we age, our face loses volume and our V-shape is lost. We lose volume in our mid-face or cheeks, the eye area and the face drops into the jowls causing the V to tip upside down, with the wider part at the jawline, instead of at the cheeks. Linda says: “The aim is to

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Project8:Layout 1 24/10/2011 16:01 Page 1

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Travel

NOVEMBER 11 Photo: Hard Days Night Hotel

STAYTripper Sarah Hooley falls in love with Liverpool all over again...

Photo: Hard Days Night Hotel

Alma de Cuba’s Sunday Service Gospel Brunch

Museum of Liverpool

Photo: Colin Lane

BEST OF LIVERPOOL

One of the stunning stained glass windows inside the Anglican Cathedral

Photo: Andrew Teebay

30

Prices for luxury rooms start at £95. For more information visit www.harddaysnighthotel.com or call 0151 236 1964. Photo: Hard Days Night Hotel

The main lobby is filled with funky leather chairs, contemporary lighting and a grand sweeping staircase. Every nook and cranny is overflowing with quirky Beatles memorabilia and from the yellow submarine jukebox to the pages of sheet music hanging from the ceiling, it’s fun without being over the top. After checking in, we excitedly make our way up to our abode – an aptly-named luxury room (ask for a room on the opposite side of Mathew Street if you’re not a night owl). The room is sleek and sophisticated with inky blue walls, a round egg chair, dark wood furniture and a Mona Lisa-style picture of Yoko Ono hung on the wall. It’s also equipped with a king size bed, state-of-the-art LCD TV and luxurious bathroom – not to mention countless other little extras. We quickly unpack and head back down to the hotel’s cocktail bar – Bar Four. The chic bar is open to residents and non-residents alike and serves a unique selection of Beatles-inspired cocktails (reason enough to visit the hotel). The bar’s table service also means we don’t even need to leave the comfort of our booth and after trying a ‘Honey Can’t Buy Me Love’, we retreat to our room for an evening of laziness and lounging. And, luckily, the room has everything we could need – from fluffy white towels and aromatic toiletries, to in-house movies and 24hour room service – so we spend the rest of the night tucked up in bed, feasting on burgers and chocolate brownies. Sheer bliss.

The next morning we wake feeling relaxed and after a revitalising monsoon shower, head downstairs for breakfast. The extensive buffet is served in Blake’s, the hotel’s elegant restaurant, and diners have a choice of continental and hot food, with my husband declaring it the best hotel breakfast he’s ever had. Well fed, we begin our day of sight-seeing. Our mission is to explore a few of the places that we’ve been meaning to see for months (if not years) – and top of our to-do list is the Museum of Liverpool. An exciting new £72m attraction, the museum opened in July and delves into Liverpool’s rich history. It’s exhibitions look at how the port, the people and our creative and sporting history have helped to shape the city and we happily spend a few hours wandering from floor-to-floor. Next stop, it’s a quick lunch at Hannah’s Bar on Leece Street before making our way to the Anglican Cathedral, where we brave the dizzying ascent up its awe-inspiring tower. The tower, standing at 101m tall, is reached via two lifts and a narrow stairway of 108 steps. It’s more than worth the climb though and despite the grey, drizzly weather, we’re still marvelling over the 360 degree views at dinner and drinks later that night. In the small hours of the morning, and feeling slightly worse for wear, we eventually walk back to the hotel and gratefully sink into our uber-soft bed for a blissful night’s sleep. The next morning we tuck into another hearty breakfast and, after eating our body weight in toast, we reluctantly check out. Unlike other weekend jaunts there’s no time to be glum, however, as we still have a full day ahead of us. First up is a spot of retail therapy, and when our feet can’t take anymore, we head for the sanctuary of Alma de Cuba’s Sunday Service Gospel Brunch. It was, again, somewhere we’d be meaning to go for years and with the soulful tunes of the live choir, softly glowing candles and tasty food, it was the perfect way to round off our weekend. And, as we happily made our way home, we couldn’t figure out why we hadn’t done this sooner....

Photo: Hard Days Night Hotel

FROM world-class museums to award-winning restaurants, we’ve got it all right on our doorstep. So it was with great shame that I found myself struggling to remember the last time I’d had a chance to explore our fair city. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to of course, but, like most people, everyday life just seemed to have a habit of getting in the way. It was this realisation that prompted my husband and I to book a two night ‘staycation’ in the city – and where better than the Hard Days Night Hotel? A boutique four-star hotel, the Hard Days Night is a beautiful, Grade II listed building ideally located on the corner of Mathew Street. It’s already a favourite with celebs (Justin Bieber, Liam Gallagher, Michael Buble and Usher have all been guests) and on arrival I can instantly see why.


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Best of Liverpool Magazine - November 2011  

Best of Liverpool Magazine, featuring fashion, places, faces, food, beauty, homes, travel and what's on in Merseyside

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