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Home & Garden
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Just for Fun Puzzles
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The small print All competition entries for the January/February edition need to be received by 1st March 2017 and sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or posted to Office 28 – Suite 2, 28 Cleveland Street, Wolverhampton, WV1 3HT. Winners will be notified by email/telephone and listed in the January/February edition of Local Zest. No cash alternative to the prize. The competitions are free to enter but in doing so you agree to the terms and conditions as detailed above. We gratefully acknowledge the support of businesses whose adverts appear in Local Zest magazine and whilst every care is taken to ensure accuracy, Local Zest cannot take responsibility for loss, damage or omission in an advert or editorial. All artwork is accepted on strict condition that permission has been given for use in this publication. Adverts are accepted on the understanding that descriptions of good and services are fair and accurate. Local Zest Ltd does not endorse any advertising material included within the publication. No part of this magazine can be reproduced without prior consent. All rights reserved.
Welcome Note from the editors
ello readers, Welcome to 2017 and your first edition of Local Zest. Phew! What a manic couple of weeks, I don’t know about you but what is it about Christmas that turns some many of us into crazy busy, food binging, money spending
A big thank you to all the local businesses for their support in this edition of Local Zest, those that have been with us through 2016 and the brand new ones who have joined us for 2017.
home and tips on decluttering ready for a fresh start in 2017 as well as Consumer Champion James Walker telling you all need to know about getting the most out your energy supplier and what to do if you aren’t. Our “What’s On” guide this month has lots for you to do, plan yourself a well earned evening out to keep those post festive blues at bay!
Time For SomeZest!
beings! But for another year it’s all over and we have a brand new year ahead of us. So to kick off the new year for you we have a whole host of things for you to enjoy with lots of inspiration for the
So, with a fresh new year here, it’s a great time to turn over a new leaf, set a new challenge or kick that habit that has been holding you back. Whether, it’s a personal aim, professional aspiration or simply a new outlook on life we wish you every success in achieving your goal
throughout 2017. Although January can sometimes be perceived as quite a bleak month after all the festivities, I personally love the fresh start a new year brings, it’s the start of a new chapter in each of our lives and we wish each and every one of our readers a healthy and prosperous 2017. A big thank you to all the local businesses for their support in this edition of Local Zest, those that have been with us through 2016 and the brand new ones who have joined us for 2017. If the need arises for you to use one of them please remember to let them know you heard about them in Local Zest! A big congratulations to our winner of The Island Pool competition from the November/December edition. This month up for grabs on page 50 is the chance to win a meal for four at the newly refurbished Royal Oak in Alveley.
Sam & Marie xx Winner of The Island Pool competition: Claire Pardoe
Our “What’s On” guide this month has lots for you to do, plan yourself a well earned evening out to keep those post festive blues at bay!
Welcome to your Local Zest magazine
January / February
Home & Garden
Decluttering – the KonMari Way
Marie Kondo is a Japanese ‘organising consultant’ whose method for decluttering is taking the globe by storm. Called KonMari, the method is actually pretty straightforward. If something you own doesn’t ‘spark joy’, get rid of it. Simple right? KonMari isn’t for everyone, and Kondo certainly has a few somewhat bizarre suggestions. (Seriously, who has the time to unpack every item from their handbag, every evening?) But most of her advice is practical, easy to follow and actually makes a lot of sense. She also dips into the psychology of why we hold on to things, and why we should let them go. Kondo recommends collecting every item in a particular category and going through them in one go. So, for instance, you’d lay every item of clothing you own on the bed or floor, pick up each one and if it doesn’t ‘spark joy’ add it the charity pile. With this approach, you get the shock of realising just how much stuff you actually own, and are more likely to discard items than if you just flick through them when they’re in a drawer. She does, of course, make some concessions for items you really need but that don’t particularly spark joy. The main idea is that you should stop hoarding stuff that you might use one day, clothes that you only ever wear when the washing pile is teetering over, and items you feel guilty about getting rid of.
Kondo recommends collecting every item in a particular category and going through them in one go. So, for instance, you’d lay every item of clothing you own on the bed or floor, pick up each one and if it doesn’t ‘spark joy’ add it the charity pile.
January / February
Kondo also has some good advice when it comes to what to do with the things you keep. She advises against buying expensive storage solutions, and using shoe boxes to keep things tidy instead. She also recommends storing things vertically, e.g. folding clothes so that they can be stacked on end, meaning you can see them, rather than having them buried under other items. I’ve found this useful, to an extent. It does mean I can find a black t-shirt easily, but that I might have to unfold several black t-shirts to find the one that has the motif I want. Kondo lives alone, and it does feel sometimes that her method is mainly aimed at other single adults. She recommends leading by example, the idea being that if you get rid of clutter, your family will follow you. That has not yet happened in my house I have to say. Nevertheless, I have got rid of several bin bags and boxes full of ‘stuff’ since reading her book and have felt surprisingly relieved about doing it. If you fancy trying the KonMari method for yourself, her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, can be ordered from most libraries and book stores. By Kate Duggan
Home & Garden
Hayley Windows Find out more now at www.hayleywindows.co.uk
Garden View In the depth of winter garden birds bring us so much pleasure. Squabbling on feeders, their colours and songs brighten gloomy days. Birds play a vital role in our gardens’ ecosystems. They are feathered pest controllers, eating everything from snails to aphids to wind-fall fruits. If you’d like to attract more birds to your garden there are several things to consider. Lots of people hang up a bag of peanuts when the weather turns grim then become disheartened as it hangs there unused. So here are my handy tips. Food - When I was a child my dad told me to only feed birds in the winter, but now the experts advise putting out food all year round. There is a dizzying array of bird food available but a good starter mix includes sunflower seeds, canary seed, hemp and husk-free oats. Use a good tubestyle feeder and clean it regularly as a build up of bacteria and old food can kill birds. If squirrels are a problem you can by rodent-proof feeders. I also have one tube-feeder which is set within a sort of cage which keeps larger birds out, letting the smaller ones access the food unimpeded. Protect birds from prowling cats by planting something prickly and ground-hugging around the bird table or feeder – Berberis darwinii is a good one, but you can also confound cats with a collar, which fits around the bird table stand and prevents them from jumping up.
January / February
Water - A supply of clean water is very important for drinking and bathing. A sloping bath is best to accommodate different bird species, and add a flat stone or two to aid with getting in and out! Keep it topped up and check daily to see that it hasn’t frozen. If it has, melt the ice with warm water. Your feathered friends will thank you.
At Hayley Windows we treat our customers the way that we like to be treated as customers Honestly and with respect. We are a family run business and have been offering a personal, friendly and trusted service for the past 25 years.
Plants - Birds like cover so plant shrubs, trees and climbers. If you can manage it a mixed hedge of hawthorn, holly, dog rose, and rowan offers cover and food, and is also very pretty. Train honeysuckle and ivy over arches and pergolas. Pyracantha'Soleil d'Or', Cotoneaster frigidus 'Cornubia' and rambling roses that will produce lots of rosehips are great for house walls and fences. If you have room for a tree try the bird cherry (Prunus padus) or a crab apple such as Malus 'John Downie'.
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Family Run • Double Glazing • Windows • Doors • Bi-Fold Doors • Conservatories • Porches • Fascias & Soffits • Double Glazing Repairs • FENSA 10 year guarantee
Nesting - Dozens of bird species make use of nest boxes. Put up new boxes now because birds use the winter to scope out good breeding spots. If you already have boxes, take them down, remove any old nests and rinse the boxes with boiling water to sterilise them. Come the spring put out some extra nesting material for them to grab: sheep wool, pet hair, wool scraps can all be pushed inside a wire cage or a terracotta pot Hopefully this has given you some ideas. And don’t forget to take part in The Big Garden Bird watch on January 28th and 29th Rachael Leverton
Visit our modern showroom at
Unit 19 Enterprise Trading Estate Pedmore Road, Brierley Hill, West Midlands, DY5 1TX
Home & Garden
JAMES WALKER – “FIGHTING FOR YOUR RIGHTS” Consumer Champion – the man who helps you resolve your consumer complaints!
Broadband providers ordered to stop misleading ads – your rights if you feel you’ve been duped
Got some Juicy News? Tell us
With the Advertising Standards Authority ordering the broadband industry to stop advertising deals that hide how much contracts really cost, I look at how to get the best from your broadband Research by the ‘Advertising Standards Agency’ and broadcast industry regulator ‘Ofcom’ has revealed that most of us are confused about the actual cost of our broadband contracts. It found that 80% of us could not work out the full cost of a given broadband package, while just a quarter could understand the price of a package after being shown a TV ad for it. As a result, the ASA says providers will have to display upfront costs, monthly fees, contract lengths and post-discount prices in all their marketing and advertising. The new rules come into force at the end of October… so what can you do until then if you feel you’ve been mis-sold?
Call Sam on 01902 906020 or email email@example.com Get Involved - We want local residents and businesses to get involved and help shape future editions of Local Zest Limited. Tell us your good news, exciting news and send us the pics to go with it. If you are organising a local event or something big is happening in the area, we want to know about it! Keep us in the know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Complain! If you’re not happy with the price you’re paying, raise the issue with your provider. They will be under no obligation to change your payment structure, but may be happy to move you to a cheaper tariff (but be aware that this might be slower and/or have a data cap on it, limiting your internet usage). So what are the rules regarding cancelling a contract? When can a company impose a penalty on leaving and when can’t they? You should get a 14-day cooling-off period, depending on the type of contract, where you can leave with no extra charge. After that, a company does have the right to say that if you’ve signed up for something that you do have to pay a termination charge. This is often the period of time you’ve been locked into the contract for. However, if you feel you’ve been mis-sold, or you’ve been
signed up without consent, you have the right to cancel without being charged. Things need to be cleaner and clearer for the consumer to be able to better understand these situations. In addition, if a consumer is not getting the service they expect, we believe they need to be offered the opportunity to be able to cancel their contract. For example, if you’re not getting the broadband service you believed you’d signed up to, or your mobile phone’s not working, why should you be tied into a contract that you didn’t want and that is not right for you. Help, my broadband is too slow! Ancient copper phone lines are throttling our home internet speeds. According to an MPs’ report, 5.7 million of us are saddled with connections so slow they could be breaking regulations. So what can you do to get a better service? Know what speed you’re supposed to have Know your speed – there are plenty of free online checkers that allow you to test your broadband speed. The law says a broadband provider only has to deliver 10 per cent of advertised speeds. This means that if you’ve signed up to a 17Mb service, they’re only required to give you 1.7Mb. Check your service provider has signed up to Ofcom’s Code of Practice. If so, it has to give you an estimated speed of what you will ACTUALLY receive. How to get a better connection Upgrade to a higher-spec package. This sounds obvious, but you’ll get faster broadband if you sign up to a faster deal. And it needn’t cost you more if you shop around. Find out who’s fastest in your area – ask your neighbours. If one provider is consistently faster than others, think about switching to them. Remember, though, that the speed you get depends how far you are from the telephone exchange, thanks to BT’s old-fashioned copper wire (that everyone has to deal with). How to make the most of your connection Use good wire – and keep it short. Long, poor-quality leads from your socket to your router will slow you down. Microfilters – these split your phone line from your internet. And you must have them plugged into every phone socket you use. James Walker is the founder of online complaint-resolution service Resolver.co.uk Follow James via @resolvercouk, or email James@ resolver.co.uk www.localzest.co.uk
Home & Garden
Transform your bathroom with quality branded products at discounted prices. Visit our showroom or call for a free consultation today.
January / February
Bathroom Magic. Unit 35 Enterprise Trading Estate. Hurst LaneÂ
Brierley Hill DY5 1TX 01384 79300 www.bathroommagic.co.uk
Home & Garden
Winter Warmers for Safer Pet Ownership With the New Year behind us we are truly in the depths of the winter months. We have already been dealing with the shorter day lengths and by using reflective collars, halters and leads we are ensuring visibility to motorists and the like. But what else can we do to improve our pets lot during this cold season? It may not be obvious that slim dogs with short hair can, and do, feel the cold. Without the dense undercoat that many breeds have, for example huskies, they can be susceptible to hypothermia. Maybe you have a very young cat or dog? Maybe they are older? Like children and older people, pets will feel the cold, doubly so if they suffer from arthritis. Indeed, the cold will aggravate conditions like these. Rather than curtail their walks consider getting them a coat; fleecy lined for warmth with a wax outer to help keep them dry. Most dogs will be fine running around exercising but do consider those who just like to mooch around; they can chill easily. With the arthritic cat or dog consider providing a padded bed with a heat pad, hottie or hot water bottle for them to snuggle into; they will thank you for it in the long run! All cats love a warm spot, we have one that used to sleep on a ledge up our chimney (remnants of an oven from days gone by) so do be careful of open fireplaces, wood stoves and radiators as burns are a reality. Worth checking puss's paws if you suspect she has been too close for comfort! The further north you live, the more likely your winters will involve hard frosts and snow. Did you know it is not unusual to see ears, noses and paws with frostbite? Consider the paws of dogs and be aware that snow and ice can ball up between the toes and become quite uncomfortable to walk on. If walking on gritted surfaces be aware that the chemicals and salt added can irritate pads grazed by the grit; and be sure to wash off from underbellies as well as paws when you get home otherwise poisoning can become a reality when your pooch cleans himself after walkies.
the winter months... And this goes for our cats and dogs too! Without a doubt the shorter day lengths, colder and wetter weather mean we do not get out as often or for as long or as regularly as we do in the finer summer months. It is a good idea to monitor your pets weight and food intake and adjust accordingly. We regularly have clients popping in for a quick weight check and we will even put it on your pets record to monitor for you. Antifreeze poisoning, the dreaded ethylene glycol, is a real and serious threat to our pets (and children) and not uncommonly treated in the winter months. Puddles under cars from over filled radiators or drips left to run down bottles in garages are accessed by both cats and dogs. Sweet tasting and palatable even small amounts cause serious kidney failure and can be fatal. If you suspect ethylene glycol is the cause of your pet’s lethargy do contact your vet, as with all poisoning, the quicker the treatment is started the better the outcome. Finally, please ensure rabbits and guinea pigs hutches are well insulated and out of prevailing winds; ensure they have sufficient bedding to snuggle down into. As with all animals check water supplies are topped up and not frozen. Time to stretch those legs and get out on that walk... happy hiking folks. Danielle Giles, Heathside Veterinary Surgery www. heathsidevets.co.uk
VISIT OUR IMPRESSIVE BRIERLEY HILL CARPET SHOWROOM AND KARNDEAN STUDIO AND VIEW OUR EXTENSIVE SELECTION OF CARPETS AND HARDFLOORING. As always we continue to provide the best prices on top quality carpets plus a huge amount of clearance stock.
We also have a huge showroom in Kidderminster! Unit 8, easter park Kidderminster DY11 7AR 01562 743354
Top quality carpets from premium manufacturers. Carpet Factory Outlets offer you the instore and online opportunity to purchase carpets from the following, world renowned, Kidderminster manufacturers: Brintons, Brockway, Victoria, Woodward Grosvenor and Adam. • Full fitting service available. 158 High Street, Brierley Hill, DY5 3BP Tel: 01384 263149 Email: Sales@cfokidderminster.com
It is all too easy as we know to pile on the pounds during
January / February
Dreamland has been helping the people across the Midlands to get a good night’s sleep since 1976, and now Dreamland Bedding Centre is marking its 41th anniversary with their biggest winter sale they’ve ever held. During the winter sale there are large reductions on almost every bed in store.
Somnus mattresses and beds have up to 25% off, with Relyon beds have large savings across the board.
All Silentnight beds are coming with free storage in the base. The new display of Hypnos which are now in store, we are giving you a king-size bed for the same price as a double on all the Hypnos beds. If you require even bigger than King size, the Super king size beds have 10% off.
Located in Mill Street, Brierley Hill, just a few minutes’ walk from the Merry Hill Centre . you’ll find friendly and knowledgeable staff, all of whom understand the importance of getting the right bed for you. You’ll receive impartial advice and a tailor-made solution to meet your needs from the firmer to softer beds upon which to rest your head.
With Sealy products we have taken hundreds of pounds of many of their products. The Dunlopillo range has the highest models for the same price as the lower ones.
Naked Bed products have 15% off and many headboards, bed frames and electric beds have been massively reduced along with some clearance models.
King size luxury Hypnos beds for the same price as double
Over £100 off selected Sealy models
Founded by Mike Brown, Dreamland is a family business that is proud to serve the Black Country and the wider Midlands region.
cashmere, alpaca and silk help to regulate your body temperature. But whatever you choose, you’ll be delighted at Dreamland’s winter sale.
Mike says: “We’re ecstatic with surpassing the milestone of 40 years and we’re looking forward to continuing to serve our customers, old and new, for the next 40 and beyond.” We spend a third of our lives asleep, so there can be no better investment than a quality handmade mattress and bed.
Instead of a delivery charge, customers are asked to make a donation, all of which goes to charity. Over the past few years, it has raised more than £125,000 for the Mary Stevens Hospice, thanks to the generosity of customers who give in lieu of delivery charge. Dreamland will even collect your old bed and assemble your divan, more reasons why you’ll sleep soundly in your new bed!
Dreamland has come a long way since it first opened its doors in Mill Street, Brierley Hill, in the spring of 1976 with just 12 beds on show, it has now become renowned for quality and service, Dreamland stocks only manufacturers that are approved by the National Bed Federation, and offers premium handmade beds, with mattresses filled with natural fillings such as wool,
Dreamland, 23 Mill St, Brierley Hill, West Midlands, DY5 3JB
If you’re looking to replace your tired, old bed with a new model, look no further Dreamland Bedding Centre, with its large, free customer car park, is open seven days a week. Opening times are Monday to Saturday, 9am-5.30pm; Sundays 11am-4.30pm.
Home & Garden
A Good Read
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion There have been several novels published in recent years which feature an autistic character; The Rosie Project is one of them. Don is a scientist working at a university in Australia. In his late 30s he is single and largely contented. His day is meticulously mapped out, and routine is a part of everything he does. He is never early (a waste of precious time) or late (rude and puts everything out of time), and can’t abide small talk. He also has lobster every Tuesday. As the novel opens he is lecturing on Aspergers at a conference but it is not a lecture from a personal perspective. Don is undiagnosed yet many friends and parents of those on the spectrum will identify his traits. A chance conversation with the conference organiser leads him to consider if he can apply scientific methodology to the search for a suitable partner, and The Wife Project is born. Readers will warm to Don, and his naïve approach to relationships and life in general, and anyone who is currently negotiating the dating minefield might wonder if it would all be easier with the aid of his questionnaire?
North Child by Edith Pattou This Young Adult novel is published by Usborne Books. Based on the Norwegian fairy tale ‘East of the Sun and West of the Moon’ this sweeping fantasy story is set in the snow-covered lands of Scandinavia. Legend has it that children born facing north are destined to travel far from home and die, crushed under ice and snow. When Eugenia’s eighth and youngest child is born her belief in superstition leads her to fear for her daughter’s future. She lies about the circumstances of Rose’s birth but it would seem that fate cannot be deceived by a lie. As Rose grows up she feels out of place in the family and longs to travel, with a desire for adventure. Her unease, combined with a wanderlust means that when a white bear appears and offers her family a way out of poverty and ill-health if she will come away with him to a land far away in the north, she readily accepts. Here she meets a mysterious stranger in a castle hidden in a mountain. Who is he and why does he only appear at night? Faced with challenges she discovers her purpose in life in a tale of love, betrayal, and adventure. This rich story will appeal to readers from the age of 10 upwards and is a great introduction to epic fantasy. By Willow Coby
January / February
Home & Garden
the Plant of Month
There are hundreds of varieties of Heather, which is an easy to grow, low maintenance plant for your garden borders or pots. Adding colour to your garden, you can plant different species at different times A popular, basic species is a Mediterranean Shrub. With white, pink or purple flowers, this evergreen shrub blooms late winter and Spring to a height of around 6-12 inches. Heather is best planted in Spring and early Autumn, in acidic soil with good drainage. If your plants are autumn flowering, youâ€™ll need to prune them in the spring by removing old woody stems. Try mixing up different types of heather in each pot for bright colour and variety to your garden.
Househ old Tips
Remove Crayon Stains
Remove pesky crayon stains from childrenâ€™s clothing using methylated spirits.
In cold weather, keep your heating at a steady temperature of 15 degrees (even if you are away from home) to help with fuel economy and to prevent frozen pipes
Simply scrape away the excess wax before dabbing with methylated spirits then wash following usual garment instructions. Take care to check fabric type before using chemicals.
January / February
Home & Garden
JAMES WALKER – “Now's the hottest time to switch energy supplier” By JAMES WALKER, Founder and CEO of Resolver.co.uk There's no better moment to flick that heating and hot water switch - to change supplier for your electricity and gas. It's easier than ever to switch providers but people still don't bother, often just putting up with high-priced tariffs and poor customer service. Right now though you could be sitting on a pot of money after using less power during the summer. Research by uSwitch earlier this year showed 11 million British households are in credit to energy suppliers with 1 in 10 having more than £200 ready to be refunded. But in my own case, I'm nearly £480 in credit and almost a month after switching, I am still waiting for this back from my old provider. Switching doesn't always go smoothly either. We see many users raising issues around it when readings go wrong and are noted incorrectly leading to high initial bills. Energy complaints are generally lower than other regulated sectors, which chimes with recent Ofgem research showing complaint numbers around energy providers have halved since 2014. However, switching and billing issues are always key customer issues and I agree with Ofgem's findings that complaints about poor complaint handling are becoming more common and are causing people to switch. So, how can you head off issues with your energy provider and if you want to complain about a switch, or need to raise the issue formally with the Ombudsman Services, what can you do?
How to complain about a switch
General complaints to an energy provider
1) Watch for the variable rate - If you're coming to the end of a cheap introductory deal, make sure you know the date it finishes. Look through your bills and compare the cost of moving to the company's variable rate, taking a new deal with them or switching entirely to a new provider. It's important not to forget that not all variable rates are good value.
Complaining to your energy supplier
2) If you have a large credit balance - It's your money and now thanks to a rule by the regulator, you only have to ask for it back and can do so at any time. You could do this via templated email to your provider using resolver.co.uk. The system will then allow you to track the request and if things go wrong provide a timeline of your issues as proof of when it was asked for. Remember though, if you take too much back it could lead to a higher bill in the future to make up any shortfall created over the winter months. 3) Check your bills closely - Mistakes do happen. I've heard of cases where meter readings have been inputted wrongly leading to abnormal bills. Keep a regular check on your meter and take photos on your phone of the readings as proof. This is very important when switching or moving home. As soon as you notice a problem, raise it with the supplier. It can get very messy if you allow it to drag on and while the energy provider will be able to work out all the complicated numbers, it always becomes very confusing for the customer to do the maths. All suppliers will aim to deal with you promptly but if you do need to raise a complaint, doing it via Resolver allows you to easily and automatically escalate it all the way up to the Ombudsman Services for consideration if things do get heated.
January / February
The most important thing to remember when you want to complain about an energy supplier is that you must first follow the company’s own complaints procedures before you consider taking your issue to the Energy Ombudsman.
Secure your January/ February fitting date today
Most energy suppliers offer a fairly comprehensive breakdown of their own complaints procedures on their websites, but Resolver’s app will ensure you say the right thing at the right time - and to the right person!
January Sale now on
Helpful hints when making a complaint about an energy supplier • Get your complaint in writing - this is the easiest way of making sure it gets recorded properly • If you do need to make a phone call, Resolver can record it and store it for you in your online case file. • Record as many details as possible - who you speak to, their job titles, the dates and times of your calls with them. Resolver can do this for you, but it’s worth making the effort to record details yourself, too. • Be polite. You might well be really frustrated and irritated about the service you’ve received, but it’s important to keep calm, especially if you’re complaining to the Energy Ombudsman - effectively a third party that has had nothing to do with your complaint other than an intent to solve it. James Walker is the founder of online complaint-resolution service Resolver.co.uk Follow James via @resolvercouk, or email James@ resolver.co.uk
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Example COMPLETE job just £3,850 includes 90x90 quadrant cubicle with low level tray, 15 SQM wall tiles, tiled floor, replacement shower, new basin and WC.
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Leisure & Lifestyle
January / February
Leisure & Lifestyle
Chinese New Year 2017Year of the Rooster Chinese New Year falls on Saturday 28 January. In China many people will take a whole week off from work to mark the celebration. It is known as the Spring Festival. On New Year’s Eve, Reunion Dinner is eaten. Many Chinese believe this is the most important meal of the year. It is usually shared by several generations and consists of fish, dumplings, spring rolls, glutinous rice cakes and sweet rice balls. To mark New Year, red lanterns are hung in the street, red couplets are pasted on doors and images of prosperity displayed. Fireworks are lit and it’s believed that the person who launches the first firework of the New Year will have good luck. Lion and Dragon Dances take place and these are intended to scare away evil, and attract health, wealth and wisdom. Many New Year activities have links with Chinese legends. New Year is called Guo Nian which means ‘celebrate a New Year’ or ‘overcome Nian’. Nian was an ancient sea living monster who came onto land on New Year’s Eve to eat people and livestock. One year, an old man with white hair and a ruddy complexion managed to scare away the monster by pasting red papers on to doors, burning bamboo which made a loud cracking sound, lighting candles in the houses and wearing red clothes.
January / February
Another monster called Sui was said to terrify children whilst they slept. Parents would stay up all night watching and lighting candles to try and keep their children safe. One official’s family gave their child eight gold coins to play with. The child wrapped the coins in red paper and then played at unwrapping them and wrapping them back up until he got so tired he fell asleep. The parents put the coins under the child’s pillow and legend has it that when Sui came and tried to touch the child, the eight coins omitted such a strong light that it scared the demon away. This is the basis for why elders and those who are married give children and young unmarried people red envelopes with coins in them at New Year. The red envelope is called Yasui Qian which means suppressing Sui money and the purpose is to scare away the monster and bring good luck. According to Chinese astrology, each year is associated with an animal symbol. There is a 12 year cycle and 2017 is the Year of the Rooster. The China Highlights website says that those born in the Year of the Rooster are observant, hardworking, confident and courageous. They are best matched with those born in the Year of the Ox or Snake. By Susan Brookes-Morris
more out of your marketing with
Call Marie on 01902 906020 or email email@example.com
Leisure & Lifestyle
How to communicate better in your relationship By Sophie Personne - www.successful-dating.com
The world constantly evolves and since the second World War, we have seen some of the most amazing technological advances, especially in terms of communication. The way we interact with each other has been totally revolutionised, and today, we have the world quite literally at our fingertips. We are, without a doubt, the most connected that we have ever been... Unfortunately, we are also probably the loneliest.
SUCCESSFULDATING Attracting The Right Partner
By Sophie Personne - www.successful-dating.com Ask anyone currently going through the dating process and most of them will admit to having a ‘type’ of person that they like. There are certain physical and mental traits that we will actively and consciously seek in a partner. What people often don’t realise is that we also go for other elements of someone’s personality on an unconscious level. In fact, the relationships that we attract and choose to have are actually the direct reflection of the relationship we have with ourselves. For instance, someone struggling with their own self-worth will most probably attract those who will not make them feel so good about themselves. That person will unconsciously look for their partner to fill that gap and satisfy that need, where really, they are the only ones who can address the issue and will need to look within. In the same way that you shouldn’t want to change someone to fit what you would want them to be, you are only responsible for yourself. Any change that you should wish to go through will have to come from you. Nobody can make you happy or complete you, you complete yourself. Realising that, and more importantly accepting it, is probably the most important step forward to finding the right person for you. We don’t often allow ourselves to question our deepest needs and address them. We also sometimes
need a little help in recognising what exactly it is we are all about or want before we can acknowledge and change our habits. It sounds a bit mad really, we all think we know what we want but very few of us really do, which is why most people in settled relationships are often the first ones to be surprised as their partner is so different from what they were originally looking for. Time is of the essence here and before embarking on the emotional rollercoaster of dating, it is important to reflect on what you need to learn about yourself in order to stop repeating the mistakes of the past. People often repeat the same patterns of behaviours relationship after relationship, wondering why things don’t work out. A close friend of mine did exactly that and it has taken him 12 years to realise that the reason is purely himself. Up to that point, he would explain it with grand theories on timing, that he deserved better and generally blame the world and
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everyone else but him. Once he was actually honest with himself and realised that the reasons for finishing were always the same and down to him, it dawned on him that he was the only person that could remedy that and started to work on himself. As a result, he is now in charge of his own destiny as it were, happy within himself and in a relationship that is perfect for him. It is sometimes difficult to assess what we do ‘wrong’ and how we could improve as no-one likes to point the finger at themselves. This isn’t about being overly critical about yourself but more about asking the right questions. For example, if one of your main complaints is that you attract people who neglect you, ask yourself how you could be more attentive to your own needs instead of wanting someone else to do it for you. One of the secrets to attracting the right partner is to know yourself and be happy in your own company, only looking to someone else to add to your life as opposed to expecting them to complete it.
Pay attention to the people around you and be in the moment. We are actually disconnected from each other. Just go anywhere, anytime, and notice how people who are obviously out together, will check their phones. The world around them has disappeared. Literally, just like that… and you’ll struggle to get an answer out of them until they resurface.
We cannot not communicate. It isn’t just about what we say. In fact, the words we use only represent 7% of the way we communicate. 38% is about the delivery and the tone of voice that we use whilst 55% is body language. So, if you’re grumpy and tell someone that you’re absolutely fine, that person will get the vibe that something isn’t adding up. The actual meaning of your words won’t be in sync with the way you are saying it, or your physiology, and it will feel incongruent. Whether it’s face to face, by phone, text or email, the way we say things or the way we feel will transpire. Always be honest and voice how you feel
This shows the actual disconnection we are currently experiencing, not only with other people but with ourselves. We are no longer aligned with what we really want or need, but more with what we perceive the world to expect of us, and what we feel we ought to do.
This is just so crucial, as not doing so will create a vicious circle of misunderstanding and resentment. It also seems so obvious but we can all be guilty of ‘holding back’, often because we are worried about the consequences of our words. And it is worth noting that we should be aware that once something has been said, it can never be taken back. It is however, about the way we express our feelings that matters. Common adage but remember to treat people as you would like to be treated.
The science of communication
It’s ok to disagree
You may or may not be familiar with the concept of Neuro Linguistic Programming (otherwise known as NLP)? It is basically a set of tools and techniques which were developed in the seventies by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, for better communication and personal development. It can easily be explained like so: • Neuro - the mind • Linguistic - words & body language • Programming - patterns of behaviours learnt and repeated It is a method to understand yourself, why you act and react as you do or what makes you tick. It will help you change and influence your own behaviour, utilising language and other types of communication so you can create new ways of being. Better communication, not just with other people but within yourself, is a key element of happiness.
We all have different views on the world that have come from our life experience, our values and what we believe in. We shouldn’t try and force our point of view on somebody else but rather let them express where they are coming from. As long as both parties feel that their opinions are respected, it’s completely ok not to always agree. An argument will only occur where we are in our trenches and not even listening to what the other person has to say. Better communication is about reciprocal listening and understanding, as opposed to always trying to be right. Sophie Personne is a Relationships Expert and Author. Her first book ‘Your Other Half – The Guide to Better Relationships with Others & Yourself’ is available from the end of November. If you want to find out more, visit www. sophiepersonne.com.
Leisure & Lifestyle
Out and About
Whether you are planning a well earned night out with the other half or something with friends we have scoured the area to find out what’s happening and where during January & February. There is always lots going on over the festive season but give yourself something to look forward to in the New Year once all the fuss is over! The Rose Theatre Bee Gees Fever 2017 – Friday 3rd February Since 1999 Bee Gees Fever have been wowing audiences across the UK and Europe with their stunning live tribute to the music of the Brothers Gibb. Murdered to Death Nonentities – 23rd-28th January From soulful ballads to the high-energy disco classics, the band faithfully recreates the songs that made the Bee Gees musical legends. Bee Gees Fever perform all songs completely live: no backing tracks; no sequencers; just five guys; their voices and their instruments creating an undeniably authentic show packed with raw energy. MURDERED TO DEATH by Peter Gordon The Nonentities – Main House (A) A 1930’s country house, and an eclectic mix of ‘whoddunit’ characters combine for this affectionate and tongue in cheek take on the Agatha Christie genre. When the owner of the manor house dies in suspicious circumstances, it is up to the inept and bumbling Inspector Pratt to solve the case and arrest the murderer, Will he solve the case, or will the audience die laughing first... Curtain up 7.30pm £ Tickets Standard Ticket Prices For more information or to book tickets visit www.rosetheatre.co.uk The Granary Hotel, Kidderminster – Murder Mystery, 28th January If you have never done this sort of thing before – you will love this. A melodrama played out whilst you eat. You have to 32
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try and figure out what has happened and why. Nigel Reeves has had a successful career but was not happy. He quit his job and went travelling round the world to “find himself”. On the trip he met someone “special” – but all was not as it appeared and you are cordially invited to join the Wedding Reception.
lice, internet sensation Doreen Tipton as the Lazy Empress Of China, Britain's Got Talent finalist - soprano Lucy Kay as the Princess, magician Stefan Pejic as evil Abanazar and fabulous pantomime dame - Ian Adams as Widow Twankey.
What could possible go wrong?
Don't miss your chance join this magic carpet ride! With a lamp-full of laughs as you follow Aladdin, his brother Wishee Washee and of course Widow Twankey on a spectacular adventure.
For more information or to book your place call 01562 777535
Buddy – The Buddy Holly Show – 31st January – 4th February 2017
Hogarths Stone Manor - Wedding Fair – 22nd January 11am-3pm
This sensational multi award winning West End show returns to Wolverhampton.
The place where wedding dreams come true... Whatever the size and theme of your wedding, let Hogarths put your grand plans in action. Come and meet the Stone Manor Wedding team to discuss hosting your special day! Join us for a glass of bubbles and a tour of this newly refurbished venue. For more information call 01564 779988.
The Grand Theatre Aladdin – The Magical Pantomime Adventure – New Year – 22nd January 2017-01-03 From the producers of last year's swashbuckling pantomime, Peter Pan, Qdos Entertainment present ALADDIN Wolverhampton's biggest pantomime ever! Starring X-Factor winner Joe McElderry as Aladdin, Lisa Riley as the Slave Of The Ring, CBeebies' Mr Bloom - Ben Faulks as the Chief of Peking Po-
Forget feel good, Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story is FEEL GREAT! Experience the drama, passion and excitement as a cast of phenomenally talented actors and musicians tell Buddy Holly’s story, from his meteoric rise to fame, to his final legendary performance at The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. Featuring two terrific hours of the greatest songs ever written, including That’ll Be The Day, Oh Boy, Rave On, La Bamba, Chantilly Lace, Johnny B. Goode, Raining In My Heart, Everyday, Shout and many many more, this show is just Peggy Sue-perb! For more information or to book tickets visit www.grandtheatre. co.uk
Leisure & Lifestyle
Welcome to the Swan Shopping Centre in Kidderminster, Worcestershire. We have a host of stores and cafes alongside our secure 401 space car park for you to enjoy 7 days a week.
New Year’s Resolutions You’ll Want to Keep All too often New Year’s resolutions seem to focus on doing more of what we don’t enjoy, and less of what we do enjoy. So this issue, we thought we’d give you our suggestions for resolutions you’ll actually want to keep. Learn something new Whether you want to get a qualification so you can get a better job, or you just fancy trying a new hobby, make 2017 the year you try something new. www.futurelearn. com is a good place to start. It offers hundreds of free, short online courses. Many are delivered by leading UK universities. You could try writing fiction, exploring digital technologies, or learning about forensic science. If you prefer face-to-face tuition, check out the courses offered by your local college. You could improve your computer skills, take up a new craft, or find out how to delve into your family history. Enjoy time outdoors Nature is good for you. It’s been proven to help with depression, anxiety, stress and a whole lot of other issues. It may even help you to live longer. We know the great British weather doesn’t always make it the most tempting prospect. But if the sun breaks through the clouds, wrap up warm, pull your wellies on and head for your nearest green space. You’ll likely find you feel calmer and happier as a result.
Take time to cook Home cooked meals are usually much better for you than ready meals. They’re higher in vitamins and minerals, and lower in salt and sugar. So, try resolving to cook for yourself a few days a week. If you struggle to find the time, you could try a box scheme. Simply Cook, for example, post you the herbs, seasonings and recipes to make simple (but delicious) meals in around 20 minutes. You just add four to six items of fresh food and follow the instructions. Hello Fresh go even further. They send you everything you need to make a meal, including simple-to-follow recipes.
• Cheap Day Parking • Season Tickets available Car Park Open 7am-6pm British Parking Association Safe Parking Scheme.
Appreciate the little things We’re often so busy; we don’t get time to really appreciate the little things in life. A soak in the bath, your favourite radio programme, a chat with an old friend… Taking a moment to be thankful can make us happier and calmer, and improve our relationships. You could try listing three things that you’re grateful for before you go to sleep each night, or keeping a daily gratitude journal. Or just try to give thanks to the people you love a bit more often. Whatever your New Year’s resolution, we wish you all the luck in keeping it.
Hand Car Wash available
By Kate Duggan
The Swan Shopping Centre Kidderminster Worcestershire DY10 2BA Tel: 01562 753210 www.swancentre.com
January / February
Leisure & Lifestyle
Private Hire Booths Enjoy the red carpet experience and bring out your inner V.I.P, with an evening of luxury in one of our private booths - available to hire, enhancing your evening at the Grand. Each booth is named by the public and can seat up to six people and is situated on the balcony of Arthur's of the Grand.
The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton - For a night with that extra little something... I
An hour before the performance you will be greeted by your personal waiter and taken to your booth to indulge in the theatrical atmosphere before the show and during the interval. There are two packages for you to choose from to ensure that your visit is perfect for you.
was very excited to be invited to the recently refurbished Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton to watch Dirty Dancing and enjoy the brand new private hire booth experience, as was my plus one, mother! Now, I’m a lady who loves a little bit of luxury and can definitely appreciate the finer things in life. However, with a young family, me time is always limited so when it does happen, I am always one to make sure it’s something to remember and the booth experience at the Grand Theatre did not disappoint! The first thing that struck me about the refurbishment and in particular the booth experience was the attention to detail that had been considered. The gorgeous finishing touches of the interior design, the intricacies of individual booths each individually named after local celebrities and all the little touches of luxury that we got to enjoy. Natalie our waitress was so attentive, she greeted us and was instantly pouring the chilled prosecco, much to our delight. The chocolates and nibbles were also very welcome as was the heads up at show time and the offer of transferring our drinks into the appropriate ware to take into the show with us. It goes without saying that the guarantee of seats and convenience of the complimentary cloakroom before and during the performance really added that extra little something to the evening. My mom is a huge theatre lover and loves nothing more than enjoying a brilliant show in a wonderful theatre and The Grand Theatre has really taken the theatre experience to a whole new level.
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The investment in the refurbishment is clear to see and feels like it has been designed with the theatregoer in mind and furthers their theatrical experience once in the theatre. The venue itself has become more of a destination for an evening out or just a few drinks with two refurbished bars. Both bars offer atmospheric surroundings individualised by their own themes, Arthur's of the Grand, the new luxury bar pride of place on the Dress Circle Level and The Encore Lounge which has become a performance space in it's on right with a variety of intimate performances scheduled including comedy evenings, jazz sessions and many more. For many, many years The Grand Theatre has been bringing some of the very best talent and shows to Wolverhampton, 2017 is set to be no different with each season truly offering something for everyone. For more information or to book your Private Hire Booth or to find out what's coming up at The Grand Theatre this year, visit www.grandtheatre.co.uk. A big thank you to The Grand Theatre for their hospitality and a huge round of applause, I would go as far as to say, a standing ovation on the tasteful and luxurious refurbishment of this iconic local venue. I cannot wait to our next theatre outing at The Grand so I can book a Private Hire Booth and add that extra bit of sparkle to our evening!
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Leisure & Lifestyle
New Year, New Start S o it’s here! 2017! I personally love the feeling of a whole new chapter, a chance to refresh and reinvigorate our minds and bodies, set goals, make new plans and look forward! I think the biggest mistake many people make with a new year is not managing our own expectations and expecting a complete life overhaul! I will be quitting smoking, losing weight, going to the gym at least five times a week, I will cook from scratch every evening, take up a new hobby, pursue the career I have always dreamt about and nothing will stop me. Sound familiar? Now, I am all for good intentions but I am also a realist and know that unless we make our goals manageable and prioritise them accordingly we are setting ourselves up to fail. Take time to evaluate what is actually going to make the biggest difference to your life, have the most positive impact on how you live your life. I personally feel ready for a little bit more me time, I have a very busy life at home and work so grabbing an hour to myself is near impossible. So, I will be planning on dusting of the gym membership and visiting at least twice a week over coming weeks. Doesn’t seem like a huge amount but I
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want to be able to say, I did that and maybe, just maybe exceeded it too! I get to have a little me time and hopefully improve my health and fitness along the way, seems like a win, win situation. Even just to fit a couple of gym visits in a week I will need to plan to make it achievable, so I have worked around the children’s ever growing extracurricular schedules and found a couple of hours a week that I can make time for me. Whatever you are planning on achieving this year, good luck and remember to keep it in perspective. We’re only human and the secret to long term success is the small changes you can make each day! Remember, baby steps, a day at time, a week at a time. Our goals shouldn’t define us, goals are not just for January, set them daily, set them weekly, set them monthly, just set them so that you are moving forward and always trying to progress!
Business & Finance
MARTIN LEWIS Money Sins
By Martin Lewis @ moneysavingexpert Are you a sinner? Financially that is. There are a host of everyday money misdemeanours that millions of people do, costing them thousands, without being aware of it. These aren’t horrors like grabbing a payday loan, but the result of simple misunderstandings, bad habits or inaction. So having recently toured around the UK doing roadshows for the sixth series of my ITV show, I’ve collated five of the most common. 1. Saving while you’ve expensive debts Savings rates are depressingly low – the top easy-access rate is 1%. Credit card and other interest rates are depressingly high. So, £1,000 credit card debt at 18% costs it costs you £180 a year, the same amount saved in top paying savings account at 1% interest only earns you £10. If you had both, pay the debt off with your savings and you'd be £170 a year better off.
axAssist have over 280 locations across the UK and we are happy to meet you face-to-face, visiting clients out of hours, at home or business premises. Your local TaxAssist Accountant will determine exactly how we can best help you and your business. Your accountant will then supply you with a quote to cover all the work required, an agreed fixed price with no hidden charges and option to pay monthly. Customer Satisfaction is essential to us and the business standards in place ensure agreed services are delivered as promised.
Melvyn Shephard is an experienced accountant that offers clients a professional yet friendly and jargon free, personal service. Clients can benefit from the core accountancy and tax advisory services as well as additional specialist services when required. Melvyn also holds an MBA which enables him to provide financial advice whilst understanding the wider needs of businesses to be profitable and competitive. For more advice and no obligation chat visit us in our branches in Stourbridge and Stourport on Severn
Many of you will be thinking, "but I want to keep my savings, what if the boiler packs up or the roof falls in?" However, that’s a sentimental strategy, not a logical one. Let’s carry on the £1,000 debt and £1,000 savings scenario to show you why. - If you don’t pay the debt off with the savings and an emergency happens that cost you £1,000 to fix, you’d use all your savings and still £1,000 of credit card debt. - If you do pay off the debt with the savings, and a £1,000 emergency hap-
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pens, you’d need to pay for it on your credit card, meaning you still have no savings and £1,000 of credit card debt. The end result of them both is the same, yet by paying off the debt with the savings, you save in the meantime. The only exception is if the debt is at 0%. Then the financially savvy and disciplined can do what’s called stoozing, where you deliberately build up 0% debt only to save it and earn interest. Though with current saving rates so low, it’s not as easy as it used to be. Full help on that at www.mse.me/stoozing 2. Not at least asking your energy firm are you on its cheapest deal. Most people in the UK are on their energy firm’s standard tariff, which typically means they’re overpaying by £300 a year. I’ve talked about switching until I’m blue in the face, and, of course, the best plan is take five minutes to do a full market comparison via my www. CheapEnergyClub.com or any www. Ofgem.gov.uk approved comparison site. Yet for some that doesn’t hit home. So, let me be plain. Even if you won’t do that, just pick up the phone and ask your current provider “Am I on your cheapest tariff?” and, if not, switch to that as there’s no change but the price! For example, as I write (it can change daily), on EDF’s standard tariff someone with typical usage pays £1,070/year. It also has a 12-month fix at £880/year £190/year less. British Gas’s standard tariff with typical use is £1,044/year, but it also runs Sainsbury Energy (i.e., it’s the same company but a different name), and its cheapest fix is £804/year – saving £240/ year. This don’t ask don’t get saving works at all the big firms, so if you won’t do a comparison, at least do this.
3. Only making the minimum repayments on credit cards Credit card minimum payments are based mostly on a percentage of the balance, which only just covers the interest. So, you hardly clear any off. A 30-year-old with £3,000 debt on a credit card at 17.9% interest, who made only typical minimum repayments, would take 27 years to clear it. By then, they’d be 57 and have paid a total cost £4,000 in interest (see my minimum repayment calc at www.mse. me/minrepay to work out how long it’ll take you). Now you may be thinking ‘easy to say, but I can’t afford more than the minimum.’ Well, I have a solution. On £3,000 debt, the current minimum is around £70 a month. If instead of opting to pay the minimum, fix your repayment at £70. The debt will clear in five years at a total cost of £1,500 in interest, saving £2,400. Though if you’ve debt on more than one credit card, focus all spare cash on repaying the most expensive, making only the minimums on the others. That way you get rid of the most expensive debts first. 4. Don’t cover your home’s value on buildings insurance Your house price is the wrong figure; you only need to insure the usually much lower rebuild cost – literally how much it would cost to rebuild your home should it get knocked down. This is often far less than the market value. There’s information and a calculator on this at http://abi.bcis.co.uk. Martin Lewis is the Founder & Editor in Chief of Money Saving Expert. To join the 11 million people who get his Martin’s Money Tips weekly email, go to www.moneysavingexpert.com/latesttip
Business & Finance
Food & Drink
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January / February
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75g carrots, sliced 75g courgette 3 tbsp. vegetable oil 75g aubergine 50g button mushrooms 50g sweetcorn 1 small garlic clove, crushed 225g can of chopped tomatoes pinch of mixed herbs 8 tbsp. grated cheese 3 tbsp. butter 3 tbsp. plain flour ½ pint milk 4-5 sheets pre-cooked lasagna pasta
Vegetable Lasagne A variant on the usual meat based lasagne, packed with healthy vegetables for a filling and satisfying meal at lunch or dinner time. Serve with a fresh green salad and bread of your choice. Oven: Pre-heat to 180C/350f/Gas 4 Method 1. Finely chop the onion and carroty and dice the courgette and aubergine. Thinly slice the mushrooms. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the vegetables until softened. Add the garlic, tomatoes, herbs, and sweetcorn and bring to the boil. Then cover and simmer for about five minutes. 2. Melt the butter in a pan and then stir in the flour, add the milk slowly, stirring until the mixture thickens and boils. Stir in half of the grated cheese and some salt and pepper for taste. 3. Spoon about a third of the vegetable mix into a shallow oven proof dish, add a little white sauce, the add a lasagna sheet and continue to layer in this way until the last layer is white sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and cook for around 50 minutes until browned on top. Serve with fresh herbs on top.
Salt & pepper
Food & Drink
I Can’t Eat That! Food Allergies and Intolerances
Wondering whether that dicky tummy or rash could be down to something you’ve eaten? Read on…
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What’s the difference between food allergy and food intolerance? A food allergy affects the immune system. Symptoms usually appear within a few minutes of eating the offending food, and can include a skin rash, upset stomach (eg vomiting), stomach pains and wheezing. The most severe allergic reaction is anaphylaxis, which can affect breathing and send the body into shock. Without treatment, anaphylaxis can be life-threatening, which is why it’s so important for people with a known allergy to carry an EpiPen if they’ve been prescribed one, and to teach colleagues, friends and family members how to use it. Food intolerances are more common than food allergies. Symptoms include irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, stomach upsets, eczema, migraines and even arthritis. The immune system isn’t affected and symptoms might not appear for a couple of hours, which can make it harder to work out what type of food is causing the problem. While you can be allergic or intolerant to any type of food, there are eight common culprits: • Peanuts • Tree nuts • Eggs • Milk • Fish • Shellfish • Wheat • Soy If you have an allergy or intolerance to one type of food, you may well be allergic to other types in the same food group. Diagnosis You’ll need to see your GP if you suspect you have an allergy or intolerance, so that they can rule out any other causes for your symptoms. They’ll then likely refer you to a
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specialist for tests. Food allergies can often be diagnosed with blood or skin reaction tests. Intolerances are more difficult to diagnose. You may be asked to follow an ‘elimination and challenge’ diet, if necessary, to try to determine what foods you’re intolerant to. You’ll be asked to cut out certain types of food for a period of time, then reintroduce them gradually. Treatment If you’re allergic or intolerant to a type of food, you’ll need to avoid it completely. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Ingredients such as milk powder and egg white are often used in products you wouldn’t expect to find them in. And restaurants aren’t always as vigilant as they should be about cross-contamination. So you might be prescribed steroids, antihistamines, or an epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen) if you have an allergy. You may also be referred to a dietician, to make sure you’re still getting all the nutrition your body needs. The website www.allergyuk.org has a wealth of information about allergies and intolerances. If you don’t have access to the internet, try the helpline on 01322 619898. By Kate Duggan
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Food & Drink
How a Healthy Gut Can Help You Lose Weight, Reduce Illness and Live Longer Healthy eating is an ongoing debate. It seems that every week ‘experts’ contradict themselves by telling us that last week’s superfood is this week’s no-go. But one constant remains in their advice: their recommendations are always aimed at boosting the health of our hearts and brains. But what about our guts? Poor gastrointestinal health has huge implications on our weight, mood and immune systems, so surely it’s crucial to have a tip-top tummy? The good news is that achieving a happy, healthy and trim stomach is done through food. That’s right; eating can help you lose weight! But not just that, consuming the correct food will also boost your immunity and help you stave off a plethora of fatal illnesses. The crux of it all is that the food you consume needs to aid digestion and promote the growth and development of ‘friendly bacteria’ in the gut. By doing these two things, you can boost your metabolism (leading to weight loss), reduce inflammation of the gut and fight diseases more effectively. There are two types of food that you will need to achieve a healthy gut: ‘Prebiotic’ and ‘Probiotic’. Both effectively ‘feed’ the friendly bacteria in our gut,
but probiotics go one step further by delivering our resident gut bacteria a fresh ‘shipment’ of transient bacteria. All of this creates a healthy and diverse ‘ecology’ in our gastric systems, which promotes health and wellbeing. Katherine Tallmadge, author of Simple Diet states that ‘Research is finding that a healthy microbiome may play a role in reducing inflammation, a risk factor involved in illnesses ranging from colds to cancer, heart disease, arthritis and cognitive decline. In addition, the bacteria may help to burn body fat and reduce insulin resistance.’ (http://www. livescience.com/484 54-weight-lossssuperfoods-for-the-gut.html). In order to stay slim and healthy, you may want to consider more prebiotic and probiotic foods in your diet. The list is not extensive, but we will show you a few to start you on the right path. The foods we will recommend here have been collated through our own research. As non-medical professionals, we would like to emphasise that these suggestions are merely a reflection of our findings. For tailored health advice, specific to your needs, we would always recommend that you speak to your doctor or a certified nutritionist. 1. Yoghurt When you first read the words ‘friendly bacteria’ in this article, we would hazard a guess that a large percentage of you automatically thought of probiotic yoghurt. In recent years, the health benefits of live yoghurt cultures have been, thankfully, extolled. The general public are now savvy with the concept of drinking or eating live cultures in order to boost their health. Whichever type of yoghurt you opt for, make sure that the label does say ‘live active cultures’.
January / February
If you are lactose intolerant, certain soy yoghurts and soy milks also boast live active cultures. Many of these products are fortified with calcium and vitamin D and are alternative sources of good bacteria for vegans. For even more variety, you could try almond milk or coconut milk, which are also rich in probiotics. 2. Kefir Whilst some yoghurt with live cultures is better than none, more than often shop-bought yoghurts are not ideal. Many are high in sugar and fats. The bacteria in these yoghurts are often heat-killed too and then some bacteria is added back in, so the yoghurt is actually weaker in friendly bacteria content. But there is a solution to this: Make the yoghurt yourself! ‘Kefir’, as it is known, is easy to make (watch this video to find out how: https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=aHJp J23iaSc) and is far richer in bacteria. It’s also 99% lactose free, so is kinder for intolerant tummies to consume. You can of course buy kefir from most supermarkets, in the form of probiotic drinks. 3. Miso Did you know that the average age expectancy in Japan is 83? Their western counterparts, namely the UK and USA, have age expectancy rates of 81 and 78 respectively, so what are the Japanese doing differently? Although it’s not completely proven, many experts agree that diet is the key difference and suggests that a gut-healthy diet will not only help you lose weight, it can also prolong your life. There are several ‘Asian flavours’ on our list, but the first we will tackle is ‘miso’. Made from fermented soybeans, miso paste is bursting with probiotics. There are a variety of different types of miso
available, all differing in taste, which are low in fat and calories and can be used in soups, stir-fry’s and as glazes for simple fish and chicken dishes. Miso is also rich in protein, fibre and vitamin K- so all in all it’s a winner! You can buy miso online or from most Asian supermarkets. Some larger, mainstream, supermarkets are starting to stock it too, so keep your eyes peeled in the ‘International’ section. Sharon Palmer, author of Plant-Powered Life says that ‘While we need to do more research about how these types of fermented foods contribute to health, it’s a good idea to start to introduce more of them into your diet.’ (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/foodsgut-health/story?id=30855530). One
warning though: Miso is high in sodium, so be careful not to exceed your daily limits and be extra careful if you suffer from high blood pressure. 4. Kimchi Sticking with the Asian theme, we move slightly west to Korea and to one of our favourite dishes: Kimchi. This spiced cabbage is a Korean staple and is packed full of vitamin C. The lactic acid based fermentation process makes this dish a gut-boosting must. It’s also delicious and can be used in soups, a flavoursome addition to bland rice and vegetables or even as an accompaniment to meat. You can make your own, but we would recommend sourcing pre-maid kimchi at your local Asian supermarket or Korean restaurant.
5. Sauerkraut They may be over 5,000 miles apart, but evidently the Germans had the same idea as the Koreans when it came to cabbage. Normally found atop of a not-so-healthy hotdog, sauerkraut is fermented in the same way as kimchi and can be great for boosting the friendly bacteria in your gut. However, there is a huge difference between fresh sauerkraut and the pre-packed product found in a vinegar solution. For the most probiotic power go for the fresh option. 6. Tempeh and Natto Back to Asia, but this time to Indonesia. Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and grains and then moulded into a cake like shape and inoculated with beneficial bacteria, which gives it a slightly mushroom/meaty taste. This can then be cut into slices and eaten in a variety of ways. It’s rich in protein and iron and is, of course, great for your gut! An alternative to this is the Japanese ‘Natto’, which is similar but does not have the added bacteria and is slightly gooey in texture. The medical benefits for both these fermented soy products has become widely recognised, and include the prevention of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, osteoporosis and digestive disorders. 7. Gherkins Back to something recognisable on the list! Gherkins (known as a ‘pickles’ in North America) are simply pickled cucumbers. In their own right, the crunchy cucumber is a generally regarded as a healthy food, but pickling it ramps up its effectiveness. Pickling cucumbers, and many other vegetables, such as carrots, beetroot and green beans, encourages good bacteria to develop. I would recommend pickling your own veggies though, so that you know exactly what is going into the pickling solution. It’s easy enough to do: Simply use water, salt and spices to naturally culture your chosen vegetable. Delicious as a side dish, or a beneficial addition to a homemade burger (for those treat days!). However, once again, go easy on the salt intake, especially if you have high blood pressure.
8. Leafy Greens I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this, but leafy greens are good for you! Aside from the iron and vitamins they provide, they are also excellent at growing the micro-biome within your gut and encouraging increased metabolism. All leafs have different benefits, but all are generally beneficial to your gut. So listen to your mother and eat your greens! 9. Berries and Fruit According to Dr. Gerard Mullin, ‘The Food MD’, ‘When you think about foods that are good for your gut, you think about foods that are fibrous.’ one of his top choices are berries. He says ‘They’re loaded with fibre, so help to feed the good bacteria.’ (http:// www.Rodale wellness.com/food/ healthy-foods-gut). They also contain anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which
are disease fighters. Different berries have different benefits, for example, blueberries have been linked to heart health whereas strawberries have been reported to help protect against Alzheimer’s disease. But it’s not just berries that pack a gut-boosting punch; other fruits are beneficial to your health too, for example Dr. Mullin recommends seedless red grapes. He states that ‘Some people have intolerances to apples because they are high in fructose, but if you bake it, it’s full of pectin and pectin is great for your gut bacteria.’ (http://www.rodale wellness.com/ food/healthy-foods-gut). Grapefruits are also another surprising source of pectin, as well as being rich in anti-oxidants, folic acid and vitamin C. There are of course many schools of thought that suggest you shouldn’t eat too much fruit, owing to the sugar content. I would recommend that if you wish to start introducing fruit into your diet you consult an expert first, or, as a general piece of guidance, keep everything in moderation. 10. Nuts Nuts are high in fat content, but don’t let that completely put you off. The fats found in nuts are loaded with anti-inflammatory properties, so are good for your gut. They have also been associated with a reduction in the rates of colon cancer. Whilst nuts should be consumed in moderation, the best way of introducing them into your diet is by swapping them with unhealthy, saturated fats. Instead of snacking on crisps, try replacing these with a handful of nuts instead. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or boost your overall health, looking after your gut should be a top priority. By Charlie Reading If you’d like to know more about how to boost your health, wealth or welling in retirement, please call Charlie on 01572 898060 or email email@example.com. Alternatively, you can read more of Charlie’s articles and guides at www.dream-retirment.com/blog
Food & Drink
The Royal Oak Traditional Carve ry Restaura
Win a Meal for up to FOUR people A
longside our carvery we have an extensive menu with a range of foods to suit any and every palate. We are proud to offer exquisite beef steaks all cooked to perfection. Our carvery is available 7 days per week and you will enjoy a choice of four meats beef, pork, turkey & gammon, a selection of ten freshly steamed seasonal vegetables and crispy roast potatoes. Not forgetting to finish it off, stuffing, yorkshire puddings and of course our amazing gravy! For Bookings give us a call on 01746 781555! We look forward to welcoming you soon.
esday: 12pm – 8pm Wednesday – Saturday: 12pm – 9pm Sunday: 12pm – 8pm
Which of these would you typically find on an Oak tree? a) Conkers b) Acorns c) Fruit
January / February
Open 7 days a we ek from 11.30am - 11.00pm Monday & Tu
All competition entries for the December/ January edition should be received by 1st February and sent to sam@localzest. co.uk. One winner will be chosen at random from the correct entries and notified in the February/March edition of Local Zest. No cash alternative to the prize, terms apply. The competition is free to enter but in doing so you agree to the terms and conditions as detailed above.
Enjoy The Ro yal Oak’s be auti refurbished restaurant an fully d bar Large garde n with childre n's play area to rear. Larg e car park. No less than 5 real ales an d a real cider availab le
Book now on 01746 781555 Kidderminster Road, Alveley, BRIDGNORTH, WV15 6LL
We look forward to welcoming you soon!
Food & Drink
Tastes so good...
Lucy’s recipe corner INGREDIENTS Makes approx. 12 pancakes 100g (4oz) plain flour A pinch of salt 1 egg Sunflower oil 300ml (1/2 pint) milk (Eat straight away after cooking)
Tasty Pancakes 1. S ieve the flour and salt over a large bowl 2. B reak the egg into a cup. Make a deep well in the flour mix and pour in the egg. 3. A dd a tablespoon of oil and two tablespoons of milk and beat the mix together with a whisk. 4. A dd more milk, beating the mix well and carry on adding slowly until the mix turns into a smooth batter without lumps. 5. A sk an adult to heat a frying pan, add some oil to grease the pan, and quickly add about 3 tablespoons of batter, swirling to fill the pan evenly. 6. C ook the batter until pale golden, loosen the edge of pancake with a spatula and flip, cooking it until both sides are cooked. Place on plate. Repeat with remaining batter mix.
Ingredients 1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets Salt and freshly ground black pepper For the sauce 20g/¾oz unsalted butter
Grated nutmeg to taste 250ml/9fl oz skimmed milk 40g/1½oz mature cheddar, finely grated 2 tsp Dijon or wholegrain mustard 15g/½oz parmesan, or similar hard cheese, finely grated
Oven-Roasted cauliflower cheese Roasting the cauliflower imparts a lovely sweetness to the dish and the mustard means you need less cheese so it’s better for that post-Christmas waistline! Method
20g/¾oz plain flour
7.Serve with your choice of lemon juice, caster sugar, maple syrup or fruit. Delicious!
INGREDIENTS 250 g wholemeal bread mix 250 g white bread mix
Preheat the oven to 200C / Gas 6. Place the cauliflower florets into an ovenproof dish and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, or until tender and starting to brown.
A few raisins
Meanwhile, make the sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan, then adding the flour and cooking for 1-2 minutes, or until a light golden colour. Gradually add the milk until smooth, and then cook over a gentle heat for 3-4 minutes stirring constantly until thickened.
1 medium egg, beaten
Add the grated nutmeg. Reduce the heat then add the mustard and cheddar cheese. Put the roasted cauliflower into the sauce and mix so that all the florets are coated. Pour the cheese and cauliflower mixture back into the roasting dish, sprinkle over the parmesan and return to the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is golden-brown and the sauce is bubbling. Serve as a supper dish with a green salad.
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Extra flour, for kneading
Animal Shape Bread Rolls 1. Follow the bread packet instructions. After kneading for the second time, preheat the oven to 200ºC, fan 180ºC, Gas 6. 2 Divide the bread dough into 12 pieces, to suit the size of your child’s hands. 3. D ust a surface with plenty of flour, and start shaping. To make a Crocodile: make a long worm shape and use children’s safe scissors to make the scales on his back. Hedgehog: make a ball and point the nose, and use children’s scissors to make deep cuts in his back for the spikes. Snail, make a worm shape, roll up, add two eyes and make two antennae for the front. Stick them on with the beaten egg. 4. P lace on a floured baking sheet. Cover loosely with a clean, damp tea towel. Set aside to rise for 15 minutes or so. Brush with the beaten egg and bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.
Health & Fitness
Health Checks all Women Should Know About A routine blood test last year picked up the fact that I had very high cholesterol. I am 48, healthy, have a low body mass index, eat very little meat, no dairy, and I exercise several times per week, so it had never occurred to me to have my cholesterol levels checked. It turns out I have hypercholesterolaemia – my body makes too much cholesterol, and now I have to take medication to control it so I reduce my risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease in later life. This got me thinking, and reading. What sort of medical checks should we be considering in our 40s and beyond? Midlife MOT The NHS Health Check Programme is a free screening open to anyone aged 40 to 74. It targets the top seven causes of preventable death: high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, cholesterol, poor diet, physical inactivity and alcohol consumption – all the things that are more likely to cause us to become ill as we age and / or die prematurely. You’ll be asked about your lifestyle and family medical history, and have some blood tests. It was this blood test which showed up my own high cholesterol levels. Cervical smear Cervical cancer is most common in women between the ages of 30-35 but a fifth of cervical cancer cases occurred
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in women over the age of 65 so it is vital to have regular smear tests. You should have one every three years between 25-49, and every five years after that. A smear involves taking a small sample from the neck of the womb, called the cervix, to check for any abnormal cells that might lead to cervical cancer. Almost all cervical cancer is caused by the HPV virus, which is initially contracted by sexual activity. It may lay dormant for years before it starts to cause cancerous cells on your cervix. If you have bleeding between periods or after sex you should see your GP. Mammogram Breast awareness is very important at any age, because breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and affects one in eight women. A mammogram is an x-ray of both breasts to look for any changes that might suggest cancer. Depending on where you live you will be called for your first mammogram between the ages of 47 and 53. Regular self-checking is incredibly important too. Familiarise yourself with your family history if you can. If you notice any changes to your own breast tissue, such as irregular lumps, bumps, or skin dimpling, book an appointment to discuss it with your GP.
buy a testing kit from good pharmacies.
Eye examination Most healthy people should have an eye examination bi-annually. But if one of your parents has or had glaucoma, or macular degeneration, or you have certain underlying medical conditions such as thyroid dysfunction or diabetes, or you are aged 70+ attending annually is more sensible. An eye examination can pick up early signs of eye disease, as well as discover whether you need spectacles. Glaucoma and wet macular degeneration in particular have a much better prognosis if picked up in the earliest stages. Bowel checks Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK yet accounts for the second highest number of deaths, so it’s essential to have regular tests. A test involves submitting a specimen of your stool for analysis through a postal self test kit. The test can detect tiny amounts of blood in the stool which may indicate cancer or precancerous polyps. Polyps can be removed before they go on to cause any harm. Everyone aged 60 to 74 is sent a free home test kit every two years from the NHS, but you can take the test if you are younger than this and it’s a good idea if you have a family history of bowel cancer. You can
Bone density check The menopause can seriously affect bone health. Once we’re over 50 we are at risk of osteoporosis because a drop in oestrogen for a prolonged period can cause a loss in bone mass. If you have a family history of osteoporosis, are a heavy drinker or smoker, have rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s Disease then it is important to have your bone density assessed. Low radiation X-rays are used to take pictures of your spine and hips while you are lying down. You can also request a ‘bone turnover’ test. This is a urine test which detects whether you’re losing bone mass. If you are you may need calcium or vitamin D supplements. Remember, prevention is better than cure. Most test results will simply give you peace of mind but if a problem is picked up, treatment is more effective the earlier an issue is identified. Take charge of your health in 2017. By Louise Addison.
Health & Fitness
Pam Has A Spring In Her Step After West Midlands Hospital Knee Surgery
Pensioner Pam Davies has a spring in her step again thanks to knee surgery at West Midlands Hospital. The 69-year-old has undergone knee arthroplasty (knee replacement surgery) after enduring years of pain with osteoarthritis. When a series of pain relieving injections didn’t have any impact, Pam was pointed in the direction of specialist surgeons at the private hospital based in Halesowen. After meeting orthopaedic consultant Tom Clare, she was advised to undergo surgery and spent three days at the hospital recovering from the procedure. Now, after a full rehabilitation programme co-ordinated by the hospital’s physiotherapy team, Pam is thrilled with the operation which has completely changed her life. Pam, of Stourbridge, said: “I was in a lot of pain with the arthritis in my knee and it was very debilitating. “I’d put up with the pain for a long time and I’d tried lots of injections but I knew that the only way forward was to have knee surgery to make my life easier and more comfortable. “I had heard lots of good things about West Midlands Hospital and was very impressed with Mr Clare during the initial consultation before I came in for the surgery. “I was quite apprehensive about the surgery but I was put at ease from the moment I came in.” Knee arthroplasty is a surgical procedure to replace the weight-bearing surfaces of the knee joint to relieve pain and disability and is commonly performed for osteoarthritis, a joint disease resulting from the breakdown of joint cartilage and the underlying bone. Pam added: “I’m thrilled with the surgery and it has made such a big difference to my way of life. “I feel a slight ache from time to time but I just don’t feel the same pain anymore. It has been absolutely fantastic for me.
“I would recommend West Midlands Hospital to anyone, not only because of the quality surgery, but also the friendly nature of the staff and consultants make you really feel at home.” Orthopaedic procedures at West Midlands Hospital include hip and knee replacements, elbow and shoulder procedures and foot and ankle surgery. The Physiotherapy department has in and outpatient facilities and offers complete care packages to patients to aid them on the road to recovery. Jenny Torpey, Lead Physiotherapist at West Midlands Hospital, said: “Pam has visited us weekly for a physiotherapy programme following her knee replacement surgery. “The sessions have helped her get back to full strength and it’s wonderful to hear that she is now relatively pain free and is enjoying being much more mobile again.” For more information about West Midlands Hospital, please visit www.westmidlandshospital.co.uk or call 01384 560123. www.localzest.co.uk
Health & Fitness
What does a Physiotherapist do? Physiotherapy can be defined as the use of physical methods such as massage, heat treatment and exercise to treat those affected by illness, injury or disease, rather than the use of surgery or drugs. It can also be used to help reduce risk of injury or illness in the future.
Physiotherapists take a science-based approach and look at the whole person including their lifestyle and general wellbeing. They educate patients so they can become involved in their own care and often give advice about posture, lifting techniques and the correct ways to carry objects. They frequently recommend exercises to strengthen specific parts of the body and improve overall health and mobility. These may be exercises which are done at home or they may suggest exercises which are done in warm, shallow water known as hydrotherapy, or general activities such as swimming and walking. They also use manual therapy. This may be the aforementioned massage or other forms of manipulation. Some physiotherapists also use specialist methods such as acupuncture, ultrasound and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (where mild electric currents are passed through the skin). Physiotherapy is commonly used to treat back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain and sports injuries as well as movement problems following a stroke or resulting from multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease. It can also assist with rehabilitation after a heart attack, and lung and breathing difficulties such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cystic fibrosis. Some also use it in preparation for child birth. 60
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Physiotherapy is available on the NHS and via private therapists. To become a qualified physiotherapist in the UK, you must pass an approved degree. This will take three years if you study full time and around six years if you study part time. You will need three A Levels to get onto most courses and these will usually need to include a biological Science and possibly PE, as well as at least five GCSE’s including Maths, English and one Science. There are also some accelerated MSc’s available for those with non-cognate degrees. To be successful therapists need to show an aptitude for caring as well as knowledge of physiotherapy. Physiotherapists need to be good listeners, motivators and able to explain treatments clearly and calmly. In addition they should also have good manual skills and be physically fit themselves as the work can often be strenuous. To practice in the UK, physiotherapists must register with the Health and Care Professions Council and have professional liability insurance. They have to keep their knowledge and skills up to date and pay an annual retention fee. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists is the professional, education and trade union body for around 56,000 physiotherapists in the UK. By Susan Brookes-Morris
Motoring Sir Jack’s Restaurant is situated in the heart of Molineux Stadium, occupying a central pitch-facing position in the Billy Wright Stand, it has an enviable reputation for fine dining and excellent service with award winning chefs servicing its customers. Sir Jack's is the ideal place to celebrate any event, whether a small family gathering, a romantic meal for two or a lavish feast for 50. Diners can enjoy an unforgettable evening with a selection of delectable dishes. Starters include poached salmon and game pate, followed by main courses of pheasant or turbot, as well as medallions of turkey to give a new twist to an old favourite. Delicious desserts or a cheeseboard mean there's something for everyone before relaxing with coffee and petit fours. As well as offering a mouthwatering array of dishes, on both a la carte and table d'hote menu's, the restaurant is building quite a following for it's excellent five course gourmet evenings held every month. These events enable diners to feast on flavours from around the world, and each course is served with complimentary wines and liqueurs.
Whether looking for somewhere to entertain clients, celebrate a family affair or simply enjoy a romantic meal, Sir Jack's caters for every occasion and provides an unequalled standard of service. With the finest ingredients freshly prepared and served with pride, there is a setting and menu to meet every need, whether business or pleasure, intimate or extravagant. Sir Jack's is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 7pm, and Sunday lunchtimes from 12 noon till 2 pm. The Restaurant can also be opened for private parties, please call to enquire.
To book a table, call 0871 222 0010
January / February
If you would like to win dinner for 2 in Sir Jack’s answer the simple question below... Which of these is not a stand at Molineux? a) Steve Bull stand b) Steve Staunton stand c) The North Bank All competition entries for the January/ February edition should be received by 1st March and sent to sam@localzest. co.uk. One winner will be chosen at random from the correct entries and notified in the February/March edition of Local Zest. No cash alternative to the prize, terms apply. The competition is free to enter but in doing so you agree to the terms and conditions as detailed above.
Motoring The all-new Kia Niro will seat four-adults comfortably, or five at a squeeze. The load area is a decent size – certainly large enough for a regular sized family’s needs. The steering wheel is pleasingly thick to grasp and the switchgear and dials are intuitive and clear to use. The only difference between the Niro and a conventionally powered car is an energy flow meter replacing the rev counter. There’s also a drivetrain pictorial showing the energy stream between the Kia Niro’s engine, battery and wheels.
AUTOBIOGRAPHIES All-New Kia Niro
By Tim Barnes-Clay, Motoring Journalist -@carwriteups Hybrid vehicles are in vogue these days – or so it appears. Will this technology take over the conventional power plants we know one day? I don’t have the psychic wherewithal to tell you. But a lot of automakers seem to be following this trend – and now it’s Kia’s turn. The all-new Kia Niro hybrid is propelled by an orthodox 1.6-litre GDi petrol engine, paired up with a 32kW electric motor. There’s also a lithium-ion polymer battery where energy is saved. This layout is like with the one in Toyota’s Prius, and manages an official combined mpg of up to 74.3mpg, alongside CO2 emissions starting from 88g/km. The Niro is larger than its relative, the Cee’d, yet more pocket-sized than its other relation – the attractive and admired Sportage. The all-new Kia Niro is the South Korean car company’s first attempt at a hybrid crossover type of vehicle, but you wouldn’t know. Sure, there are copied elements, such as white plastic adornments inside the cabin, especially around the inner door handles. These are, undoubtedly, inspired by Toyota, but you can let Kia off because every car manufacturer ‘makes use of’ ideas. It’s a fashion thing and, by its very nature, fashion is all about making certain you’re ‘down with the kids’ on the hottest style. The new Kia Niro’s body is rectangular, but it’s not at all disagreeable. The Niro has a simple, fetching form, that has hints of Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) about it. At the front, the Sportage’s genetic material comes through – most markedly around the headlights. What’s more, the rump of the all-new Niro is easy-on-the-eye, with a conventional tailgate decorated with touches of silver trim.
On start-up, the all-new Kia Niro sounds like it’s not turned on. That’s because, as with all hybrids, the engine under the bonnet doesn’t cut in instantly. Instead of any tick-over sounds, you hear a chime, signifying that the Niro is running. It’s not long before the 105PS petrol powered unit makes its presence known, though. On the road, the Niro delivers even-tempered performance, thanks to a six-cog automatic gearbox. And, while the Kia Niro is no out and out performer, the additional power the petrol engine receives from the electric motor is appreciable. The all-new Kia Niro also feels planted and deals with the straights contentedly. It’s only on more blemished B-road surfaces that the Niro’s firm suspension results in a bit of jitteriness. The Kia Niro has to have a stiff set-up, though, to cope with the extra heft of the hybrid assembly. Luckily, there’s a silver lining to every cloud and this firmness means that body lean is hardly noticeable in corners. The all-new Kia Niro hybrid comes in four levels of trim, categorised ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’ and ‘First Edition’. All are well-appointed with driver assistance, comfort, and connectivity features. Every Kia Niro has a lane-keep assist system, hill-start assist control, cruise control and a speed limiter. The new car also comes factory-fitted with support smartphone connectivity, music streaming and a DAB radio. Pros ‘n’ Cons • Efficiency √ • Handling √ • Practicality √ • Kit √ • Unhurried Pace X Fast Facts (Kia Niro ‘First Edition’ tested) • Max speed: 101 mph • 0-62 mph: 11.1 secs • Combined mpg: 64.2 Engine layout: 1580cc 4-cylinder petrol + 32kW electric motor • Max. power (PS): 141 (combined engine + electric) • CO2: 101 g/km Price: £26,995
January / February
www.centralexec.co.uk (01902) 423 131
Central Executive can provide excellent chauffeur services to businesses and their clients at a competitive rate. With over 35 years experience in dealing with some of the worlds leading companies, football clubs and television studios we know what is expected from some of the most demanding clientèle. We specialise in providing First Class Travel to the Corporate Sector utilising our own fleet for Business and Personal travel for up to 8 passengers. Professionalism, punctuality and cleanliness are guaranteed. Our clients include Blue chip corporations, local celebrities, television companies and customers looking for that special VIP treatment.
Airport Transfers Central Executive also offer a 24 hour airport transfer service. We offer a comprehensive Executive transfer service to airports and seaports throughout Britain. The airport transfer package combines the following features:
24hr Flight Monitoring
Ensuring that we're always there if you're flight is early or delayed.
We offer a door-to-door service so your complete travel arrangements are taken care of.
We arrange alarm call if required for early morning departures.
Arrival Name Board
We will meet and greet inside terminal with name board.
All of our vehicles offer FREE complimentary WIFI for your easy access.
We can be that special little touch that makes your day complete.
January / February
Central Executive has a wealth of experience catering for the needs of clients looking for something special at an affordable price. Start your holiday off on the right foot with an Airport transfer or just that special night out to the theatre, Central Executive will transport you in style.
All of our vehicles come with complimentary wifi and are cleaned daily (extra legroom vehicles upon request). Make a real statement when you pull up in one of our chauffeur driven vehicles, we are sure you'll love our service and book again. Call us today and be surprised at how affordable personal luxury travel can be.