Bath Life – Issue 410

Page 1

Bath Life Awards 2020: shortlist revealed! @BathLifeMag


ISSUE 410 / 31 JANUARY – 14 FEBRUARY 2020 / £3




Blue’s in! (And green!)



ABOVE: A new kitchen for a new decade, this one by Neptune (page 26); BELOW: Want to ease back into things after dry January? Try a low-alcohol cocktail at The Ivy (page 73)

*I suspect it’s this one. ** I also suspect we’ll go huge on it next year; hey, we’re nothing if not fickle.


ne day, perhaps, we’ll do one of those giant list feature covers here at Bath Life. Q Magazine has its 100 Greatest Albums in the Universe; we could have Bath’s 100 Best Restaurants of All Time. GQ loves its Men of the Year; we’d love our Partier of the Year, running through the great and the good most often seen in Scene, our society pages. (Dave Dixon? Jack King? David Flatman? Who’d be number one?) It would be great, with one caveat. The trouble is, I think I already know what would triumph in most categories; we all do. Best loved street? Walcot Street, most likely. Most important room in the house? The kitchen. Most covetable car? An Aston Martin. Biggest event on the Bath social calendar? I’m biased here, I know, but it has to be the Bath Life Awards, doesn’t it? This issue, then, is already like a Bath Life greatest hits list, seeing as it contains pieces on all of the above within its pages. One thing you won’t find much on, though, is Valentine’s Day. Yes, I know it’s just around the corner – and yes, I know February doesn’t have much else going for it. But even so, this issue of Bath Life, unlike its equivalents in some previous years, is hardly awash with the roses and the chocolates, the teddy bears and the lingerie. (There’s a little bit on page 23, and again on pages 73 and 79, but we’re hardly going overboard here.) Why is this, I wonder? Could it be that I just forgot about it? (I’d like to say that’s the case, except my inbox is awash with V-Day press releases, so I doubt I’d sound convincing.) Could it be that this year has started off so strangely – every day seems to bring a world event more bizarre than the one before – that a clunky, polarising holiday like Saint Valentine’s hardly seems important? Could it be that it’s just desperately boring, and we’ve nothing new to say?* Whatever the reason, romance in its cheesiest, most lovey-dovey form seems to have taken a holiday from our pages this year. We still have a romance with the city, of course; that will never change. And we still love all of you; goes without saying. Hearts and flowers, though? Largely off the agenda, for this year at least.**

MATT BIELBY Follow us on Twitter @BathLifeMag Instagram @bathlifemag I BATH LIFE I 3

Issue 410 / 31 January – 14 February 2019 COVER Suffolk kitchen by Neptune: colour the very on-trend navy blue; our faces, green with envy


26 Update your kitchen for 2020 with top tips from local experts


37 ARTS INTRO Art meets music in this super-bright, in-your-

face piece from Bath Artists Studios

38 WHAT’S ON Theatre, music, exhibitions, comedy, family stuff,

and (perhaps just this time!) a bit of ballet too

45 BOOKS The team at Mr B’s each share their favourite new year

reads (and a mixed bag they are too)

47 FILM Sophie’s awards season picks, including Parasite


73 FOOD & DRINK NEWS Where to eat on Valentine’s Day,

and all the latest from Bath’s foodie scene


74 TAKE 5 Feeling Thoughtful with Duncan Glendinning 76 RESTAURANT Living the vegan dream at Nourish


79 INTRO A spoonful of love 80 CAR REVIEW The mighty Aston Martin Vantage AMR:

our new favourite playmate

85 WALCOT STREET Take a tour of Bath’s interiors epicentre


94 THE KITCHARI CLEANSE How to relight your digestive fire 97 HAIR REVIEW Meet BA1’s newest stylist 98 ANÉ Six life-changing beauty habits to adopt for 2020 114 LIVES Martyn Whittock, Puritan historian


101 BATHWORKS The local businesses making the headlines


111 SHOWCASE Fall in love of this pair of reborn farm houses




Editor Matt Bielby Deputy Editor Lydia Tewkesbury Managing Editor Deri Robins Senior Art Editor Andrew Richmond Graphic Design Megan Allison Cover Design Trevor Gilham Editor’s Photo Damon Charles Contributors Ané Auret, Nic Bottomley, David Flatman, Wendy Lyne, Sophie-Claire Mcleod and Clarissa Picot Group Advertising Manager Pat White Deputy Advertising Manager Justine Walker Deputy Advertising Manager Polly Jackson Account Manager Annabel North Account Manager Louis Grey Sales Executive Callum Staines Production/Distribution Manager Sarah Kingston Deputy Production Manager Kirstie Howe Production Designer Matt Gynn Chief Executive Jane Ingham Chief Executive Greg Ingham Bath Life MediaClash, Circus Mews House, Circus Mews, Bath BA1 2PW 01225 475800 @The MediaClash © All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without written permission of MediaClash. We’re a Bath-based publisher, creative agency and event organiser Magazines Our portfolio of regional magazines celebrates the best of local living: Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. We also publish foodie mag Crumbs (, @CrumbsMag). Agency From the design and build of websites to digital marketing and creating company magazines, we can help. Events We create, market, promote and operate a wide variety of events both for MediaClash and our clients Contact:


SPOTLIGHT Into the woods: Rag’n’Bone Man

Theatre Royal

MAKE GOOD ART Theatre Royal Bath has officially relaunched the Creative Fund, its arts funding programme for the South West; when it last ran, between 2015 and 2017, almost £90,000 was given to projects with local artists, hospital patients and disadvantaged children, or used to buy equipment for charities and organisations like AgeUK and the Golden Oldies. For 2020, there’s £35,000 up for grabs for the best applicants. “The idea is to offer financial support to innovative creative projects within a 20 mile radius of the Theatre Royal,” says chair Mel

Macer, “and the Fund construes ‘arts’ broadly, so we’ll consider projects involving theatre, dance, music, comedy, literature, sculpture, painting and the visual arts, including street performances. The Creative Fund has helped arts development in the Bath area in a unique and innovative way, and we’re delighted to be able to offer this again over the coming months.” Sounds great, but be quick: the deadline to apply is 28 February. For more: creative-fund

Forest Live

Rag’n’Bone Man is the latest addition to Westonbirt Arboretum’s Forest Live concert series this June. Known for his distinctive and soulful baritone rumble, Rag’n’Bone Man, otherwise known as Rory Graham, cemented his place in pop culture with the four times platinum number one album Human – and the multiple BRIT Awards that came with it. The Forestry Live concert series supports Forestry England’s work creating beautiful green spaces for people to enjoy, wildlife to flourish and – of course – trees to grow. For more:



Theatre Royal Bath: now giving something back

Citizens Advice


Citizens Advice B&NES, Bath City Football Club and Wessex Water have teamed up to help tackle Bath’s debt problem. Together, they’ve launched a new weekly debt management advice service for the residents of Twerton and Whiteway, areas last year listed as two of the most deprived in the country. “The effects of 10 years of austerity are really laid bare by the dire circumstances of some residents,” says Les Redwood, B&NES Citizens Advice CEO. “That’s why collaborations such as this one are vital for the future provision of support to some of the most disadvantaged people in our society.” The advice service launches 13 February, with booked appointments and drop-ins available every Thursday from 9.30am-2.30pm at Twerton Park, Bath City Football Club. For more: Sue Lindsey, Les Redwood and Carole Banwell I BATH LIFE I 7

SPOTLIGHT Gill and John McLay of Wonder

Valentine’s Day


Do you want to win in the romance department this Valentine’s Day? Then we suggest you ditch the last-minute bunch of petrol station-purchased blooms and instead go for something a little more bespoke and hand made. The Bath Flower School is running a ‘Man-Tie’ workshop on 13 February, where bemused boyfriends can create their own bouquet for bae. You’ll leave with a beautiful, seasonal and sweetly scented bunch of flowers you’ve chosen and arranged yourself – with a touch of expert guidance, naturally. Best of all – no experience necessary. For more:

Wonder festival


C’mon, who could resist this romantic chap?

Wonder is a brand new not-for-profit year-round series of children’s book events in Bath, Bristol and the surrounding area. Set up by Bath-based kid’s lit experts Gill and John McLay, Wonder will bring some of the biggest selling children’s authors and illustrators to the area. It’s about inspiring kids’ imaginations, celebrating emerging talent and also offering workshops and clubs around hobbies and popular characters to cultivate creative spaces on an ongoing basis. Their first event is coming up soon – on 4 February, award-winning illustrator of the Harry Potter House editions, Levi Pinfold, will be in town to celebrate Harry Potter Book Night at Waterstones. After that, on 8 February, Michelle Harrison, author of A Pinch of Magic, will be signing her brand new book, A



Bath-based author Jasbinder Bilan has won the Costa Children’s Book award. A graduate of the Writing For Young People MA at Bath Spa University, Jasbinder’s debut novel, Asha And The Spirit Bird, follows the story of 11-year-old Asha and her best friend Jeevan as they travel through the Himalayas in search of Asha’s missing papa. “I was absolutely thrilled to hear, first of all, that I had been shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award, and then to be chosen as the overall winner for my category was incredible,” says Jasbinder. “The Costa is one of the most prestigious literary awards, won by authors such as Phillip Pullman and Roald Dahl, so to be selected from all the wonderful children’s authors out there is a real honour. My debut, Asha And The Spirit Bird, is inspired by my grandmother and by my family roots in India, so I’m proud both for myself and my family to have been given the 2019 award.” For more:


Jasbinder Bilan: proud (and so she should be)

Sprinkle of Sorcery, also at Waterstones. In addition to their year-round programme, Wonder will stage their first festival from 10-18 October, with a wide range of events for young people. “Wonder is our chance to do something different for the young book-lovers of Bath,” says John. “We’ll be staging amazing events throughout the year, and not only each autumn during our big Wonder festival. There’ll be talks, signings, workshops, clubs, screenings – all with exciting big names from the world of children’s books and loads of new names too. We want to champion new talent, local authors and interesting venues.” Tickets for all Wonder events are on sale via The Bath Hive, For more:

SCENE T H E L AT E S T A DV E N T U R E S I N PA R T Y- GO I N G AC ROSS BAT H Helen Collingborn and Pete Helme Alexandra Mackenzie and Joe Haines

Helen Christina Mulloy Reid and Olivia Thomas

Louise Butt, Sheralie Margenout and Polly Rathbone Ward

Fiona Daymond and Nick Woodhouse David Ghent and Angela Ghent


Claire Rendall and Peter Stewart

Actually, it wasn’t that bleak, just a little rainy as the Bath business community came together for a mid-January back-to-work knees up at the Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa. The Bath Life Winter Reception spanned two packed rooms for a celebration of the endlessly overlapping business and creative aspects of our city over the past year, as well as an excited look forward at what’s to come. The night also served as a fun precursor to this year’s Bath Life Awards, coming up on 27 February; for more on those, turn to page 49. Continued on page 16. Photos by Chris Daw

Joe Cussans, Michelle Sames, Josh Tully and Flo Bowditch


David Flatman, Leslie Redwood, Tom Annear and Leanne Barrington

Lynda Bevan, Bill Vasilieff and Pippa Russell

Gemma Drew and Julian Drew

James Cheadle and Vicki Cheadle Hannah Downey and Caroline Davis-West

Sam Conybeare and Simon Cropper

Claire Hunton and Henry Hunton Zara Harris, Joe Grimes, Jess Oakley and Lucy Kane

Phil Bailey, Jamie Barrow, Anna Thuraisingam and Michael Musgrave Chan Purewal and Rosie Tanner

Debbie Harniman and Sue Grimsdell

Belinda Cooper and Jim Penaliggon I BATH LIFE I 13


Pippa O’Keefe, Polly Rathbone Ward, Stephanie Stewart, Rachael King, Robyn Blackmore and Jennifer Cufaude

Alexa Voisey, Ali Watson and Angie Barletta Sophie Overment, Lucy Kane, Jess Oakley and Lucy Overment

Joel Lea and Nick Lynch Nigel Hamilton, Rosy Hall and Connie Baldwin

Jonathan Davis-West, Frank Scott-Ashe and Mike Hansom Katya Bleszynska and Louise Rushford


Nick Steel and Mitchell Thomas

Madeline Blackburn and Beata Cosgrove


Emma Rose and John Rose

Trish Fairbeard and Mike Fairbeard

Julie Cooper, Lizzie Heffer and Tracey Parkinson Caroline Fox, Debbie Boulton and Kathy McCheyne

Andrew Summers and Emma Summers


Sarah Moon, Lisa Tucker and Heather Houlihan

David Newton and Sofia Newton

Fiona Hughes and Loraine Morgan-Brinkhurst MBE

James Davies, Matt Peters, Tom Weaver and Simon Jones

Marcus Whittington, Kalvin Simmons, Declan Gray and Hana Whittington


Annie Moody and Lana King

Claire Watson


Danielle Collins Lucy Aston and Bex Thibault, co-founders of The Hive, with Amy Williams

The Hive recently had its first birthday at the studio, as owners Lucy and Bex welcomed a bunch of their regular yogis to celebrate in true Hive style. The evening kicked off with a healthy juice-based mocktail from The Hive sober bar – guests enjoyed drinks from a professional mixologist who made everything in front of them on the night – and a fabulous spread of snacks from Goodness Grazers. After everyone was fed and watered, Lucy and Bex shared their new Conscious Buzz initiative – a community engagement plan that’ll see them work around a different theme every month; they’re starting with collecting for local food banks. The evening ended with a seated yoga session and intention setting for the New Year. Annie Moss

Photos by Daniella Marinos

Guests formed a Human Mandala (it’s a group massage, essentially)

Grace Burt, Kate Douglas and Bex Thibault Face yoga with Danielle Collins


Hannah Sime and Geri Best

Amazing food by Goodness Grazers


Natalie Drane, Emma Page and Elizabeth Dowler

Leah Tattersall and Patrick Brady

Chris Stevens and Dan Kenyon


If there’s one thing the Bath biz community likes, it’s a gathering – a chance to touch base and put faces to the names they email on a daily basis. In the spirit of that, Mogers Drewett held such an event recently to thank their clients and contacts for another year of partnership. Held in the vaults of Beneath, the Mogers Drewett team shared drinks and canapes with their clients and contacts for a casual mingle, with a DJ on hand providing the soundtrack for the night. Photos by Paolo Ferla

Mandi Turner and Giles Griffiths

Aaron Paisley, Steve Perrett and Nathan Robinson Luke Watson, Christa and Ian Taylor

Alison Treble, Luke Brady and Sean McDonough A DJ provided the soundtrack for the night


Halena Coury and Stuart Doughty

Jack McMullan and Alistair Colston

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True Romance

Flats embraces Valentine’s Day (but if he and his column could instead upsticks to page 80 this issue, he’d surely do so…)



“Everybody knows that the whole thing is a scandalously synthetic creation”

irstly, I’d like to say that I am a bit miffed. For years now I have been close friends with the owners of this very magazine (it’s who you know, guys). We holiday together, we laugh, we cry, we drink, and we eat loads together. What a virtual uppercut it was, then, to find that Matt Bielby was indeed offered the keys to the new Aston Martin and not me. How many times have I ruined grown-up dinner parties by again finding a way to talk about cars instead of Brexit or elections (our dinner parties are wicked)? Many times. That’s how many. I even have other friends who, when another petrolhead friend and I are at the same table, ensure they sit nowhere near us. We recently spent a full hour talking about how best to store a vintage tractor and how we might make it road legal for comedy trips to the Co-op. Oh, and neither of us owns or has ever owned a vintage tractor. Anyway, off swanned Matt, obsequious grin tattooed on, and had a ruddy lovely time. I should be happy for him. I should know my place as, in reality, he has worked his socks off for BL for years and does a brilliant job, and I just send in a few hundred rushed, late words every fortnight or so. But still, the DINNER PARTIES! If he was a real mate he’d buy one and let me play with it. If he doesn’t, well, I don’t quite know where we go from here. Less importantly, I am working on Valentine’s Day. It was optional this time and, having consulted the relevant and affected parties, I accepted the gig. Everybody knows that the whole thing is a scandalously synthetic creation, yet still we book babysitters and whack

a load of dosh into it. I mean, had this work thing not come up, that’s precisely what I would have been doing, so I’ll stop just short of the high ground here. The excellent and life-affirming thing about this work thing is, though, that 300 other people will be there. Now unless this is some Valentine’s-on-steroids event and nobody has told me, all 300 of them get it, too. Should it be 150 snogging, face-stroking couples, I’ll probably feel a small pang of guilt at some stage, but I predict that we will relish the rejection of all the silliness. I did have romantic plans, and I’m now trying to switch them to the night before. The plan was – and is – to go for a lovely meal somewhere overpriced, but to also invite my two little girls along too. They’re constantly – like most young girls, I expect – wanting to get dolled up and wear high heels and maybe even a crop top. So I thought that, for once, I’d embrace it and take them out on the razz! In reality, we’d book an early table and be home by about half eight, but it will be dark and they will feel extremely cool and grown-up. I want to do this for fun, but also because I’d love it to become a ‘thing’ we do together. Mainly, though, I want them to know that when they end up getting boyfriends or girlfriends, Daddy will be accompanying them to dinner on Valentine’s night, because that is how it has always been. Unless there’s some work going, obviously. David Flatman is an ex-Bath and England rugby star turned TV pundit and rent-o-mic. Follow him on Twitter @davidflatman I BATH LIFE I 23


Reach for the stars

This year’s Young Stars Awards event will be supported by ST.JOHN’S FOUNDATION


n our region, there are many extraordinary young people. Selfless and courageous children who have had to forsake some of the joys and freedom of childhood due to all kinds of adversity or personal challenges. Nevertheless, they continue to tackle life head-on and make special things happen. We sometimes hear their stories through the media, but mostly the actions of these children go unrecognised. We want to change this and help them to get the recognition they deserve. The Young Stars Awards was founded by Tim and Toni Warren and this will be its second year at The Apex Hotel in Bath. This year’s glittering event will be supported by local charity, St John’s Foundation. Director Louise Harvey applauds Tim and Toni’s dedication to the event and is delighted that St John’s is able to support such a wonderful cause, and to help give the young finalists an evening to remember. The organisers are now inviting friends, family members, teachers, charities and community groups to nominate children of all ages who they feel deserve recognition and to be treated like a star for the night. Nominations close on Friday 28th February, at which point our judges will have the unenviable task of selecting three finalists from each of the six categories: Courage, Creativity, Education, Kindness, Sport and Unsung Hero. Toni said “After last year’s humbling event, we cannot wait to see this year’s nominations and look forward to meeting and celebrating the lives of many more exceptional young people who show us the true values in life.”■

St.John’s Foundation, 4-5 Chapel Court, Bath BA1 1SQ 01225 486400

Do you know a courageous and selfless young person who deserves special recognition for what they do? We particularly welcome nominations where the young person has excelled against all odds. The six categories are:




2020 SUPPORTED BY Kindness



Unsung Hero

All finalists will receive three complimentary tickets for the Gala Awards Dinner, as well as gift vouchers for their special ‘red carpet’ outfits. To nominate your Young Star, or to join us for what is sure to be a wonderful and humbling evening, please visit Nominations close Friday 28th February. Tickets cost £65pp – including three-course meal and live entertainment.


Neptune’s bought into the black trend in spectacular fashion



“The days of 50 shades of cream are fading now”

This spring, kitchen design is serving up the style in increasingly audacious ways – more colour! More texture! More sparkling water taps! (Yes, they’re a thing.) Here’s how to keep yours fresh… Inspirational looks abound at Hobsons Choice

By Wendy Lyne I BATH LIFE I 27



ho loves a statement kitchen? Everyone, it turns out. This year, all our favourite elements – island units, knocked-through rooms, hot water taps, tiling that looks like it should belong in a 1960s public loo – are present and correct, but with added va-va-voom in terms of colours, texture and more. To find out how the smart money is being spent on the most important room in the house – the most expensive to put right if you get it wrong, at any rate – we caught up with a selection of local experts, some of them household names and others (perhaps temporarily!) slightly less well known, for all their best tips. One thing became clear: there’s rarely been so much choice available, from the richest greens and blues to the brightest whites, which makes it easier than ever – but perhaps a little harder too – to find your perfect style…


And thank goodness for that, right? “The days of 50 shades of cream are fading now,” says Stephen Graver, managing director of the eponymous family-owned business, one of the South West’s best known kitchen, bathroom and restoration specialists, “and clients are being bolder and more adventurous with their décor choices. Literally anything is possible. It helps that the choice of colour in natural materials has developed hugely over the past few years, with some really vibrant options now available in marble and stone. Interest can also be created by using natural textures rather than colour, though. Think a copper sink, or polished concrete worktop – it’s become totally personal.”


“Navy and petrol shades are proving increasingly popular,” says Nathan Shepherd of Saltford Building Services, “although grey is still just about holding its own as current favourite” – and others agree. (Not least as grey and navy tend to work very well together.) “Inky blues really suit classic kitchen designs,” says Rebecca Davies of Knees, the home and electrical specialists in Trowbridge and Malmesbury, while Rhianon Plain of indie furniture specialist Leekes, with a major store at Melksham, points out that dark kitchen cabinets in every shade seem set to grow in popularity this year. “But you can offset a navy blue or dark grey cabinet with lighter worktops, such as a white solid surface,” she says. “Two-tone kitchens combining a mix of dark and light are definitely on trend, as is open shelving. This helps display your prized accessories, while the straight lines work brilliantly with two-tone kitchens.”

“You get everything from black taps to black sinks really injecting drama and contrast into a scheme” 28 I BATH LIFE I

Natural textures are a great way to create interest in a kitchen – just like in this cool set up from Stephen Graver I BATH LIFE I 29


Pure white is no longer the only way to go; for proof, check out this amazing pink-and-brown design by Knees


“What’s the biggest colour trend? Black!” Tom Jones-Marquez, co-founder of Bath Bespoke, knows what he’s seeing, and it’s as if Darth Vader had retrained as a chef. “You get everything from black taps to black sinks really injecting drama and contrast into a scheme, but we also find we’re being increasingly asked to experiment with unexpected materials too. Corian, a unique blend of minerals and acrylic which creates a stone-hard surface, and Richlite – an incredibly durable, extremely versatile and highly sustainable material made from resin-infused paper – are both having a moment, for instance.”


“The most desired colour for 2020 is set to be deep green,” says Rebecca of Knees, “with our new Hunter Green already a firm favourite. This charming hue works seamlessly with warming tones, such as our Farringdon Grey and Portland Oak cabinetry, for a really show-stopping design.”


“The trouble with colour is that it’s just so subjective,” says Stephen Graver, “and what you go for is so much down to personal taste. Blue was once seen as adventurous, and it can certainly change the feel of a room, but we’re now seeing clients really start to use their kitchen as an experiment in bolder colour choices. Think, for instance, purples and oranges and bright fuchsia pinks behind brown cupboard doors.” At Knees they’ve found the biggest current trends revolve around mixing and matching colours, textures and finishes. “We encourage customers to think big with their schemes,” says Rebecca. “Why stop at two finishes, when you could mix three – or even four?”


“This season, we’re turning our attention to colour and how it affects the feel of a room” ESPECIALLY IF THE MATERIALS ARE INTERESTING

“Without doubt, the painted kitchen still has a place, but for those who are looking for something really bespoke, the sky’s the limit in terms of materials and finishes,” says Stephen Graver. “New cutting edge technologies can add huge depth and texture to a scheme, and composite materials have come a long way over the last couple of years especially. The possibilities are vast.” Indeed, and at Bath Bespoke (already fans of Corian and Richlite, remember?) they’re also experimenting with things like Ecoboard, the next generation of MDF but now made of high-quality natural wheat straw. “And then there’s Dekton, an ultracompact surface used as the highest quality quartz worktops, which offers a range of subtle textures to bring warmth and tactility to a space,” says Tom Jones-Marquez.


In fact, everyone sees wooden worktops as making a major comeback – “dark woods are very much on the up, such as walnut and rosewoods,” says Nathan Shepherd of Saltford Building Group – as improved finishing technology now allows these surfaces to be just as durable as any other. At Bath Bespoke, for instance, they predict that ash and beech – which actually benefits from natural antiseptic properties – will come to the fore.


THE NITTY GRITTY HOW MUCH WILL IT ALL COST? That’s the big question, of course – and the answer really is one of those ‘how long is a piece of string?’ type deals. That said, we do have a little bit of guidance for you…

Leekes knows that blue is so in right now

“Inky blues really suit classic kitchen designs” AND NOT JUST FOR SURFACES

‘The best way to guarantee an easy refresh at some point in the future is to choose solid wood cabinetry,” says Claire Birkbeck, a kitchen designer at Neptune Bath, the huge and excellent kitchen specialist on Walcot Street. “Unlike lacquer, for instance, it’s so easy to update. If you want to change your colour scheme, you can simply repaint the doors. This season, we’re turning our attention to colour and how it affects the feel of a room, and whether you’re painting the walls the same colour as the cabinets for a blanketed look or seeking stark contrast between cabinet and worktop, colour is the element that brings your home’s foundations to life. We currently have 28 core shades to choose from, but coming soon is our new seasonal shade, Saffron – it’s a grounded, warming yellow which works well as an accent to a neutral base, in a cabinet’s interior perhaps, or as your palette’s foundation.”


“Metro-style tiles have become very popular and look likely to remain so, but the colour of choice will probably change, and kitchen islands will become more furniture-led than before,” says Rhianon at Leekes. “Hot water taps are evolving too, and now have increased functionality for filtered or even – more recently – sparkling water.”


“As with buying cars, the choice is huge, and the higher your budget, the better the model you’ll be able to afford,” says Stephen Graver. “So whether your budget is £20k or £100k, you’ll find a kitchen to suit your pocket. It really comes down to how long you want it to last. With an increase in cost can come huge differences in terms of quality, durability, sustainability, choice, individuality and design, so it’s really worth thinking about how important the finished room is to you.” Er, quite important? “Then you’re like most people – and everyone wants the very best they can get for the budget they can afford. We’ve recently repainted a kitchen we fitted 20 years ago, and the only thing that gives the age away is the fact that it doesn’t have soft-close drawer runners – and only because they weren’t available back then! Spending money on new worktops fitted to old base units is fine as a temporary fix in many instances, and will certainly last a couple of years – depending on the quality – but it’s really a sticking plaster remedy. My advice would be to wait a little longer, until you can make the leap for something you really want to make a difference to your home.” A couple of years should do us. We’ll probably be moving on by then, anyway… “In which case, don’t spend any money unless you can afford to put a kitchen in that will positively affect the value of your home. We’ve taken out so many brand-new kitchens for clients who want to put their own choices in, so in many cases it’s money that really should have been saved.” Over at Leekes they point out that the style of kitchen you install shouldn’t be determined by your budget, as there are cheaper and more expensive versions in any style you can think of. Often, the main compromise you’re going to have to make is that you’ll just have to do without the latest gadgets and appliances. “Lighting is a particularly good way to enhance your space on a relatively low budget,” says Rhianon at Leekes. “It’s evolved through the use of LED lights, which can change ‘temperatures’ – from warm to bright white, say – in a space.” Some appliances can be overpriced, says Tom at Bath Bespoke, but going too cheap is a danger too. “Yes, luxury brands are appealing, but decent quality alternatives usually work just as well,” he says. “Don’t be lured into really cheap options, though – they’re a false economy, as you’ll have to replace them much more frequently. And for real long term gains, ensure the carcass of your kitchen is made to last from materials that will stand the test of time.”

Proud Finalist of

I T’ S AL L A BOU T THE LITTLE D ETA ILS‌ 8 Pulteney Terrace, Bath, BA2 4HJ Email: Showroom: 01225 481881 Mobile: 07796 554466 @kellymariekitcheninteriors | Supplier: Great savings on selected Siemens & Neff appliances when sold with kitchen


Take a leaf out of Bath Bespoke Kitchens’s book and be bold with your colour choices

“Often overlooked, attractive taps, hinges, knobs and handles really transform a kitchen” YOU’LL NEED TO KEEP ON TOP OF THE DETAILS “Often overlooked, attractive taps, hinges, knobs and handles really transform a kitchen,” says local kitchen design specialist Kelly Marie Hicks of Kelly Marie Kitchens. “It’s the little details that can make or break a design, and so I’ve tended to use lots of brass and copper elements – often paired with dark navy or polar white units – in 2019, and through into 2020 too.”


“In addition to being the hub of the home, kitchens are predominantly storage units, and have been for decades,” says Steven Graver. “With the environment at crisis point, producers need to rethink their packaging methods, and designers are responding with innovative and discrete storage and recycling methods. Plus, as life grows ever busier, so time and energy saving appliances – such as instant hot water taps and induction hobs – now seem to be permanent fixtures; they’re never going out of style.” For Rebecca at Knees, too, storage is key – especially if it’s clever, with shelves swinging down and out to make things easier to reach. “This decade, kitchens will start to become real storage havens,” she says. “Gone are the days when you’d need to reach to the back of a cupboard – or pull everything out – to find the item you were after. Beauty is more than skin deep, and our range of pantry systems offers the perfect accompaniment to a keen chef ’s kitchen.”



“Oh, definitely,” says Steven Graver, “and, if anything, we see this continuing. It’s actually cheaper to build open plan, easier to maintain, heat and manage, and it gives a feeling of space and openness. This means it’s also better for the environment, so it’s a trend that’s working out all round.”


“Though open-plan living is as popular as ever, the rise of ‘Broken Plan Living’ is not to be missed either,” says Rebecca at Knees. “What’s this? Well, people are increasingly thinking about the various ways in which their kitchen will be used – for preparing food, for dining, for socialising, for relaxing and so on – and each activity needs its own area within the larger space. Simple things, such as using different flooring or worktop finishes to break things up and add definition to the space, work really well for this.” On top of this, some are finding a cosy space to retreat to – far away from any cooking or cleaning practicalities – is also a musthave. “That’s why the snug is starting to become a must-have in many homes,” says Steven Graver. n


Bath Bespoke; Hobsons Choice; Kelly Marie Kitchens; Leekes; Neptune; Saltford Building Services; Stephen Graver;



Smarty, Bath 11 River Street Place, Julian Road, Bath, BA1 2RS

Smarty, Bradford on Avon Elms Cross Shopping Centre (next door to Sainsbury’s), BA15 2AZ

01225 444666

01225 862964


NORTHERN SOUL A one time DJ, art teacher and national swimming coach, the variety in Leonard Green’s career is certainly reflected in his artwork, which at various points has been across most mediums from oil and acrylic to inks, watercolour, collage and multimedia. His complex pieces demonstrate the push and pull of the artist’s dual interest in abstract and geometrical designs, with a focus on colour as the dominant theme. His DJing days have also sneaked into his new pieces too, many of which are named after the Northern Soul that was popular during his days spinning records in Wigan in the ’60s and ’70s. This piece, Exus Trek

from his latest collection, The Shape of Things to Come, takes its name from a 1966 Luther Ingram track. Leonard still considers himself very much immersed in the music of that time, its energy and romance permeating his works even now – naming his paintings after these songs celebrates a connection to music that has been so influential throughout his artistic career. Exus Trek, 50cm x 50cm, acrylic on canvas from The Shape of Things to Come, on display from 7 February – 1 March in the Roper Gallery, Bath Artist Studios; I BATH LIFE I 37



31 January – 28 February

Blue velvet: it’s the silky smooth Bolsoi Ballet in action

EXHIBITIONS Until 13 February

EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN IN BATH Epic ladies of Bath, please step into the spotlight. This exhibition at the BRLSI will highlight a few of the amazing women who have lived in the city – many of whom missed out on a commemorative plaque. Bluestockings, rebels, milliners, archaeologists, suffragettes, explorers and poets, amongst many others, make up this intriguing exhibition. 10am-4pm; Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution;

Until 21 March

MARINER Here, 14 artists consider the continued resonance of Simon


Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. “Inspired by language and rich visual metaphor, Mariner connects the past with the present to retell an epic tale for the 21st century,” says Dr Sarah Chapman, who is co-curator of the exhibition. “Our exploration is informed by the latest research into marine science and pollution, the movement and migration of peoples across the seas, hidden postcolonial histories and human vulnerability and isolation.” Tues-Sat, 11am-5pm; The Andrew Brownsword Gallery, The Edge;

Until 20 April

ART AT THE HEART: ALAN BROOK The latest exhibition to grace the walls of the RUH is the work of Alan

Brook. The travel photographer spent a year exploring Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands – and this evocative and colourful collection of images is the result. Mon-Sun, 8am-8pm; Art at the Heart of the RUH, Central Gallery, RUH;

Until 25 May

GRAYSON PERRY: THE PRE-THERAPY YEARS An exhibition built from Grayson’s ‘lost’ works crowd-sourced from around the UK following a successful public appeal in 2018. This reintroduction of the explosive and creative pots and plates he made in the ’80s will shine a light on his use

of pottery to address radical issues. Mon-Sun, 10am-5pm; £12.50; The Holburne;

8 February – 14 March

FIFTY BEES There’s quite a buzz (sorry, had to) around artist Lydia Needle’s latest offering. She’s created 50 life-sized bees out of wool and stitch to represent 50 of the 275 bee species in the UK. Each is paired with a piece created by another artist in response, showing how connected bees are with our ecosystem. Mon-Sat, 10am-4pm; Black Swan Arts, Frome;


WHAT’S ON The team at the VAG are bringing bohemian Paris to life through over 80 works by Toulouse Lautrec, Mucha, Steinlen and many more of the Parisian ‘street art’ era. Mon-Sun, 10.30am-5pm; £6; Victoria Art Gallery;

PLAYS/SHOWS 4–8 February

above: Top comic Alex Edelman will be coming to the Rondo soon left: Spend an hour in 19th Paris with this exhibition at the VAG below: Janey Godley and her soup pot (not pictured, sadly) are coming soon

BLITHE SPIRIT Jennifer Saunders returns to her side-splitting turn as Madame Arcati in the Noel Coward classic. Hapless novelist Charles Condimine finds himself haunted by the ghost of his ex-wife after a visit from Saunders’ eccentric clairvoyant – and not only that, but she’s determined to sabotage his relationship with wife number two. 7.30pm; matinees Weds, Thurs and Sat 2.30pm; various prices; Theatre Royal;

Their lives are dictated by the tide and the nightly storms. Lily stares dreamily up at the albatrosses that glide overhead and dreams of a better life… 2pm; £7.50 (£5.50 conc); Merlin Theatre, Frome;

18–23 February

SIX The musical you never knew you needed, SIX sees the wives of Henry VIII take centre stage to tell their stories as you’ve never seen them before. Nominated for five Olivier Awards including Best New Musical, this sounds outstanding. (In fact, we can’t wait.) Tues-Sat 8pm, matinee Wed and Fri 5.30pm, Sat and Sun 4pm; various prices; Theatre Royal;

20 February

TESTAMENT OF YOOTHA Yootha Joyce: glamorous sitcom legend, adored by friends and fans, dead at 53 from the acute alcoholism she hid from everybody. Caroline Burns Cooke presents a show that tugs at the heartstrings. 8pm; £16 (£14 conc); Rondo Theatre;

ALEX EDELMAN: JUST FOR US The comedian behind the show that became one of the Edinburgh Fringe’s most acclaimed in a decade is heading out on a tour across the UK for the first time. The show covers Alex’s Olympian brother, AJ; ADHD; and the time he met Prince William at the BAFTAs – amongst other things. 7.30pm; £15 (£13 conc); Rondo Theatre;

7–8 February

24–29 February

7 February

SALMON A blend of spoken word and original score, this is the surreal tale of a boy called Angus and his descent into self-destruction following the death of his dog. It’s an unsettling commentary on youth, drug abuse and male mental health. 7.30pm; £10 (£8 conc); Mission Theatre;

12–15 February

WOYZEK Generally considered the first modern play centring on a working class man, Woyzeck was originally discovered in 1836 after the death of its writer. The eponymous Woyzeck doesn’t have a happy time – experimented on, cheated on and filled with the need for revenge – so this is an intense piece from Playing Up Theatre Company. 7.30pm; £12 (£10 conc); Rondo Theatre;

18 February

LILY AND THE ALBATROSS A small family sit in a fishing boat far out in the ocean telling stories.

THE CAT AND THE CANARY The Classic Thriller Company returns with this creepy piece from 1922. The descendants of a rich eccentric gather on a dark and stormy night to discover who will inherit his massive fortune – after they prove to be of sound mind, of course. Easy, in theory – if they weren’t stuck in a house terrifying enough to drive anyone insane… Mon-Sat 7.30pm; matinee Wed and Sat 2.30pm; various prices; Theatre Royal;

25 February

JANEY GODLEY’S SOUP POT TOUR No one is safe when Janey Godley takes the stage. Known for the YouTube videos in which she overdubs political speeches with her own commentary, as well as her appearances on panel shows like Have I Got News For You, expect plenty of sharp yet cathartic political comedy. Doors 6pm, show starts 7.30pm; £15.50; Komedia; I BATH LIFE I 39


8 February

EMPIRICAL/GWILYM SIMCOCK The WMC’s Nimmo Artists in Residence for 2020 will perform the first concert of their tenure in February. A unique chamber jazz performance group, they will draw on work from both Empirical and Gwilym’s extensive back catalogues. 7.30pm; £16; Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon;

9 February

FROME SYMPHONY: A NIGHT AT THE MOVIES The Frome Symphony will peform all the greats, so expect classic tunes from James Bond, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, Gladiator and Lord of the Rings. 7pm; £12 (£5 under 18s); Cheese & Grain;

13 February

MARTIN SIMPSON A master of the art of storytelling, this folk musician has spent his career travelling the length and breadth of the country performing intimate, emotive solo performances that have audiences enraptured. Doors 7.30pm, show starts 8pm; £16; Chapel Arts;

13 February

JAZZ AT THE VAULTS James Morton will be showing off his saxophone prowess in this pre-Valentine’s day blow out. A sax player since his early teens, he’s a stalwart of the local jazz scene. 8pm; £9; St James’ Wine Vaults;

13 February

CLOUDBUSTING: THE MUSIC OF KATE BUSH Are you feeling a lack of Kate Bush in your life? Cloudbusting are here to help. Championed by the BBC as one of the most authentic cover bands out there, get ready to sing, “Heathcliff, it’s me…” etc. 7pm; £20; Komedia;

14 February

FAIRPORT CONVENTION Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the much loved album Full House, and Dave ‘Peggy’ Pegg’s membership with Fairport, on Fairport Convention’s winter tour. Winners of the BBC Lifetime Achievement Award, Most Influential Folk Album of All Time (for Leige & Lief) and subject of a


major documentary, they certainly know how to put on a show. 7.30pm; £23.50; The Forum;

15 February

MIDGE URE: THE 1980 TOUR, VIENNA & VISAGE To celebrate the new decade, Midge Ure is going back to the ’80s. Don’t question it. Playing songs from his time with Ultravox and Visage – a turning point in his own life and a big moment in music – he reckons looking back on that time serves as an important reminder that anything is still possible. 7.30pm; prices vary; The Forum;

20–22 February

BATH BACHFEST Calling all classical music fans: have you booked your Bachfest tickets yet? If not, get on with it – because they are flying. Comprised of five concerts over three days, this celebration of JS, JM and JC Bach features internationally acclaimed artists. Times, locations and prices vary;

FAMILY 9 February

THE BIRD SHOW The Last Baguette presents the tale of Henry the Heron and Sally the House Sparrow as they face the impact of the climate emergency. Fact-filled, funny and full of puppetry, live music and – we’ve heard – all of the bird puns, it’s a sweet and thought-provoking show.



above: Jennifer Saunders reprises her role as Madame Arcati left: It’s Kate Bush (if you squint) below: Travel photos at the RUH

WHAT’S ON 3pm; £10 (£8 conc); Kington Langley Village Hall, Chippenham;

£15; Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute;

9 February

JOHN BERCOW: UNSPEAKABLE Ahead of the publication of his much-anticipated memoirs, Unspeakable, John Bercow is making a handful of national appearances. In the book John casts his gaze over leading figures from recent times – from Tony Blair to David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson. John will be on hand for a book signing after the event. Doors 11am, talk starts 11.30am; Christ Church, Julian Road; £20;

PUSS IN BOOTS Patrick Lynch from CBeebies takes centre stage for this classic tale. Puppets, a working windmill and an avalanche of fruit and nuts bring the story of the talking cat who tricks his way to the top to life. 11.30am & 3pm; £9; the egg;

15–16 February

TOGAS AND TUNICS Not sure how to keep the young ’uns occupied during half term? Get them engaged with the city’s heritage at The Roman Baths, where they can dress up and play Roman games. 10am-12.30pm and 1.30-4pm; normal admission applies; Roman Baths;

18–19 February

LUNA: A PLAY ABOUT THE MOON Astronauts, werewolves, broken hearted science teachers and even the moon itself step forward to tell this story about the magic, history, science and music of the moon. 11.30am & 3pm; various prices; the egg;

OTHER 4 February

KINKY BOOTS The award-winning musical, inspired by the film of the true story of a Northampton shoe factory owner and a London drag queen’s collaboration on a fabulous line of man-size mules, is to be broadcast live this February. With songs from Grammy and Tony award-winning Cyndi Lauper, libretto by Broadway legend Harvey Fierstein and direction from Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots is a must. 8pm; £22; The Little Theatre;

8 February

BATH TRAMS SECOND ANNUAL CONFERENCE What might Bath look like with trams? This question is front of mind at the Bath Area Tram Association’s second conference. There’ll be talks by experts from tram-served cities like Edinburgh and Birmingham, as well as insights from companies like Egis, who installed many of the major tram systems in France. Doors 9am, conference 10am-4.30pm;


11 February

21 February

AN EVENING WITH JAMES NAUGHTIE Catch James Naughtie in conversation with Rod Morgan. The veteran broadcaster will provide his take on his long and varied career in current affairs, music and literature. 7.30pm; £15; St Swithin’s Church, The Paragon;

23 February

BATH WEDDING EXPO Calling all brides and grooms to be: Whitewed’s curated wedding planning hub is in town for one day only. You’ll find 50 of the finest wedding professionals under one roof along with a style and planning hub, live music, a café and a wedding outfit catwalk show to get you pumped for the big day. 10.30am-3pm; The Assembly Rooms;

23 February

BOLSHOI BALLET: SWAN LAKE The tragic love story of Seigfried and Odette is brought to atmospheric life by the Moscow-based Bolshoi Ballet Company. With music by Tchaikovsky and choreography by Libretto, this technically challenging, breath taking ballet just never gets old. 3pm; £22; The Little Theatre;

26 February

ROMAN BATHS WEDDING OPEN EVENING See the Baths all set up for a faux wedding; think romantic lighting, bubbly and a whole bunch of suppliers on hand to help you craft the perfect big day. 7-9pm; registration essential (call 01225 477786 or email bath_venues@bathnes. to register); n

above: Step into a gentler time with the Bath Bachfest; above: We can't wait to see Luna: A Play About The Moon; right: Patrick Lynch stars in Puss in Boots

BATH BOULES 17 March: Reception 24 March: team tickets on sale 12-14 June: Bath Boules, Queen Square The much-loved Bath Boules returns for its 30th year, having raised over £800,000 to date for local charities. Attendance is free to anyone; teams and sponsorships paid for.


Dream on

From dreamlike meanderings to nightmarish escapes, the logic of slumberland impacts on the waking world

“We always tend to love a novel with a bookseller heroine”


ast time I wrote about our latest family attempt to keep a notebook listing the books we’ve read this year. Well – amazing news, reader(s) – two weeks in and it’s still up to date! Nevertheless, I thought I’d deviate away from our reading this week to find out how my fellow Mr B’s booksellers had started their fresh decade of reading. Three of my colleagues have begun the year by devouring one of the most eagerly awaited American novels of the year, the hard-hitting American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (Headline, £14.99). We always tend to love a novel with a bookseller heroine, but this is one with a difference. There’s no gently lingering amongst the bookshelves to open up the story here. Instead, the action begins at a large family gathering in Acapulco. When Lydia takes her young son Luca to the bathroom they hear gunshots as all hell breaks loose down in the garden below. In what Juliette described to me as one of the most dramatic and heartstopping opening scenes she has read for a very long time, Lydia and Luca have to hide behind a shower curtain as the gunmen who have just annihilated their family scour the house searching for them. We soon realise though that, however atrocious it first seemed, this killing spree is not as unusual or surprising to Lydia as it is to us. This is life in cartel-controlled modern Mexico and, as Lydia’s husband was a journalist who had been investigating and writing about one particular cartel and its leader, she is all too aware who has now wreaked their revenge. And she’s also aware that the next requirement is immediate flight – she has to flee with Luca and if possible reach America before the cartel, or indeed the corrupt police, track her down. What follows is an action-packed journey north – a quest to reach American Dirt – coursing with emotion and underpinned by a crippling analysis of modern life in both Mexico and the US. We follow this grief-torn protagonist dipping deep into her reserves of endurance in order to protect her son; and we watch the strengthening in adversity of their bond and friendship. Despite the tragedy that has just enveloped her, Lydia remains level-headed, knowing to trust no one as she journeys across the country, stopping at hostels

and riding hobo-style on top of trains. Amidst all the lawlessness and desperation, though, there is hope, fuelled in part by the good people they meet who are willing to take risks on their behalf and help them in their monumental effort to get across the border. Lottie’s first read of the year could not be more different. The Shapeless Unease by Samantha Harvey (Vintage, £12.99) is a collection of essays from one of our region’s finest proponents of literary fiction. The overriding theme is insomnia, and the remarkable aspect of the book – and what gives it its distinctive and arresting style – is that the essays were largely conceived and written when the author was in that liminal state between wakefulness and sleep. Troubled by insomnia, after an avalanche of bad news ranging from bereavements to Brexit, Harvey decided to pick up her pen, and the result is a set of essays that varies enormously in style and form. Whether an exchange of pure dialogue, straighter essays on struggling with long periods of consciousness or tales interrupted by dreamscapes, the overall effect is a fascinating blend of the musings and subjects that the memory can happen upon when sleep deprived. Lastly, my colleague Tom – well, one of two Toms – has just finished Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Shua Dusapin (Daunt Books, £9.99), which is due out in February. It’s a debut novel that Tom described to me as textured, multi-layered and hypnotic. The story centres on a French/South Korean girl who is working the winter season at a guest house on the coast, not far from the demilitarised zone. In economic prose we follow the girl as she connects with a French comic book artist staying at the hotel and leads him on tours of the dour off-season town. The overall vibe is dreamlike and meandering, but punctuated by stark images of beauty and the grotesque. It might not be a novel full of plot, but it’s packed with atmosphere and covers a myriad of themes from gender and culture to identity and alienation. Making it a relevant novel in South Korea – and the rest of the world, as well! Nic Bottomley is the general manager of Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, 14/15 John Street, Bath; 01225 331155; I BATH LIFE I 45


A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood; Parasite; Kinky Boots: The Musical

Winter’s tales

Very different looks at class, kindness and the ways we treat each other in a trio of must-see releases


inter is always a fantastic time for films and special screenings, and this year’s early schedule is filled to the brim with excellent choices. We have a magnificent foreign language film making an important comment on the state of society, a sensational musical that will make you value everyone’s differences, and a touching drama to warm the heart. Parasite is the foreign language film taking the world by storm. Director Bong Joon-ho is best known for Snowpiercer and Okja, and his latest creation – having already won multiple awards – is now up for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. It’s an incredibly powerful story of class struggle, observing and dissecting the lives of two families with completely different social backgrounds in effective but entertaining detail. Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho) is the unemployed patriarch of a family of grifters – consisting of his wife Chung-sook (Chang Hyae-jin), his daughter Ki-jung (Park So-dam) and his son Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) – who all live in an overcrowded, mouldy basement. The Parks, meanwhile, live in a stunning house with their daughter and son, the latter having suffered a childhood trauma that occasionally causes him seizures and strange behaviours. When the Parks decide to hire Ki-woo to be the private English tutor for their daughter, the two families’ destinies cross. The explosive results highlight extreme class inequalities, creating an exceptionally powerful film. This brilliant social satire manages to alternate between funny, serious and shocking gracefully and expertly, with the growing class tensions particularly cleverly portrayed. An important and effective story that’s relevant to all of us, it makes

uncomfortable but important comments on the state of society; a must see, then, especially as we have a very special screening at The Little Theatre, followed by a Q&A with director Bong Joon-ho, on 3 February. For a very different experience, the fabulous Kinky Boots: The Musical is also strutting onto the big screen; this top-notch West End show, filmed live at the Adelphi Theatre, celebrates a true story of friendship, high-heels and British grit.

“The explosive results highlight extreme class inequalities” Charlie (Killian Donnelly) is a factory owner struggling to make ends meet at his family business, while Lola (Matt Henry) is a fabulous drag entertainer with an exciting idea. When this unlikely duo team up, they must each learn to embrace the other’s ideas and differences to create a line of sturdy stilettos unlike anything the world has ever seen. The most important thing, however, is their newfound friendship. Based on the cult 2005 film of the same name – a late entry in the gritty-yetheartwarming Full Monty/Brassed Off/Billy Elliot Brit-flick sub-genre – this spectacular stage musical adaptation is brought alive by songs from pop icon Cyndi Lauper. It’s a feel-good piece almost guaranteed to make you want to get up and dance, with Matt Henry’s joy-filled performance as Lola particularly strong; he makes you believe in his story completely. If you’re a

fan of musicals, experiencing this modern masterpiece on the big screen will be something you won’t want to miss. Finally, we have A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – a wonderful, heart-warming drama that will make you laugh, cry, think, and want to become a better person. Tom Hanks plays an icon of American pre-school TV, Fred Rogers; he’s little known in the UK, but starred in a heart-warming show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which ran from the late ’60s until the start of the 21st century. The film revolves around his real-life friendship with journalist Tom Junod – here fictionalised as ‘Lloyd Vogel’ – who wrote an famous Esquire magazine profile on the star in 1998; Matthew Rhys plays Vogel/Junod, who approaches the assignment with pure skepticism, finding it difficult to believe that anyone could really be as good natured as Rogers appears, but soon realises his mistake. Rogers’ kindness, empathy and decency break down Vogel’s walls, and help change his outlook on life. This poignant drama works as both a wonderful tribute to America’s favourite neighbour and as another showcase for one of Hanks’ impeccable performances, this one earning him his first Oscar nomination since Castaway 19 years ago. A sweet film, yes, but interesting in the way it explores the importance of kindness, and shows just how effective it can be.

Sophie-Claire McLeod is duty and marketing manager at The Little Theatre, 1–2 St Michael’s Place; 01225 466822; I BATH LIFE I 47




The Bath Life Awards take place on 27 February at the Assembly Rooms, celebrating the best of the city. In this special preview, we give you a taste of what to expect… I BATH LIFE I 49


s deeply, wildly glamorous celebrations go, the Bath Life Awards go a pretty long way. Each year, an unprecedented number of companies submit nominations; each year tickets sell out yet faster; and each year the drumbeat of expectation crescendos to Awards night itself. Truth is, you never know quite what to expect at any stage. And that’s a good thing. The nominations reveal


a profusion of clever companies and organisations – sometimes all-new and often barely-known; many well-known but telling of great new achievements. The judging session brings clever insights, as the wisdom-of-crowds effect means the collective decision making always arrives at sound outcomes. Awards night has everything from laughter to tears to boisterous celebration, idiosyncratic-totriumphant music, glitz, jubilation, attendees posing as cover stars, drama and just the most outré definition of überglam imaginable. Our host David Flatman will be very David Flatman, cheerfully yomping off piste as the whim takes him. Oh, and

HEADLINE SPONSOR The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa A five-star haven of elegance and tranquillity in the historic centre of Bath, The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa has proudly Headline sponsored the Bath Life Awards for many years. With 250 years of glorious heritage behind its doors, it provides an authentic experience with the perfect balance of modern luxury.


there’ll be an after-show party through to implausible o’clock, for the socially doughty, convivially hardy and, well, to be honest, the absolutely drunk. Maybe don’t schedule too many meetings on Friday 28 February… (We won’t!) The Assembly Rooms will be filled to its 500 maximum attendance again, with several dozen on the waiting list. If you can’t make it this time, do tune into social media on the night. Follow all the action @BathLifeAwards – we’ll be live tweeting the results. Thank you to all who have entered, sponsored and judged this year; and to those who will attend. It’ll be a blast. If you love Bath, nothing, but nothing, beats being there…

PLATINUM SPONSOR Datasharp Integrated Communications An award-winning, leading supplier of voice, data, mobile, video, network security, contact centre and collaboration technology for businesses of 30 to 3,000

staff. Currently celebrating its 20th year helping forward-looking companies become happier, more agile and generally more productive places to work. LEAD SPONSORS: Apex City of Bath Hotel,



INTRODUCING: BATH LIFE AWARDS GOLD To celebrate long-term business success, we will be unveiling the Bath Life Awards Gold on the night. This new award recognises companies which, year in, year out, have been a finalist (and even winner) at the Awards for a minimum of four out of the last five years. Our Awards have always celebrated excellence in a given year. And now we’re highlighting enduring value as well…

Bath Audi, Bath BID, Bath Life, Bath Rugby, Bath Volkswagen, Bryers, Curo, Enlightened, Hotel Indigo, inFund, Marsh Commercial, Kersfield, Minuteman Press, Novia Financial, Savills, Spaces, Stone King, Sub 13 and Truespeed.



As ever, a panel of completely independent judges will decide the Bath Life Awards winners. And this year they’re drawn from all areas of the city too DAVE DIXON Marketing director, Minuteman Press A local businessman and active community member, Dave has been deputy leader of B&NES, and is involved in the Bath Percent Club, as well as continuing his key role at Minuteman Press.

MATTHEW WEAVER Company chairman, Tile & Flooring Bath Starting his career in the property sector with chartered surveyors, Matthew then went into property development and interior and home improvement within London and the South West.

DAVID MACKENZIE Partner and head of the residential sales team, Carter Jonas Specialising in the sale of prime properties in the area, David has sold some of the most expensive homes in Bath and has a track record for excellent service.

ROSA PARK Co-founder and editor in chief, Cereal As well as her leading role on Cereal Magazine & Cereal City Guides, Rosa is the founding director of Francis Gallery, and author of a children’s book, A Balloon Away.

DEBBIE STILL Director, Walcot House With years of hospitality experience, Debbie and her family recently created a multi-use space for Bath to enjoy under one umbrella, Walcot House.

SERENA GUTHRIE Professional netball player Serena is a professional netball player from Jersey, who plays for Team Bath and England. She has earned 98 caps for the England Roses holding centre and wing defence positions.

CHERIE-ANNE BAXTER Marketing director, Unividual After joining the family business in 2015, CherieAnne created an in-house financial adviser academy, refreshed branding and implemented a growth strategy that led to a London branch.

LIZZIE HEFFER Director of marketing, Thrings An experienced marketing director with a demonstrated history of working in professional services as well as the local community and charity sectors.

TARQUIN MCDONALD Chief executive, Bath Rugby With a background in finance, Tarquin joined Bath Rugby in 2012 as finance and strategy director, progressing to managing director; he has has been chief executive since 2016. I BATH LIFE I 51


ARE YOU PREPARED FOR A CYBER ATTACK? It’s no longer a case of if you’ll be attacked, but rather when



very business is increasingly reliant on computers and are therefore susceptible to a Cyber-attatck, either directly or indirectly through their suppliers; our job is to work with our clients to minimise their risk. Despite our growth, CND is still very much a family firm with a caring ethos, we enjoy deep and meaningful relationships with all our clients, regardless of their size. Attackers target anyone and everyone, if you think that cyber security doesn’t apply to you, or that attackers wouldn’t be interested in you, please reconsider before it’s too late. Cyber Security is our passion, and, within our team, we have centuries of experience to call upon. Whether you only need your existing cyber security systems fine-tuned, or whether you would like us to help develop and support an entire security strategy, we are here to help you.


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to your questions and security issues, to conducting onsite visits, attending meetings and delivering briefings. 4. Vulnerability Assessment: Scanning your network and systems for vulnerabilities which an attacker might use against you. 5. Cyber Security Monitoring & Analysis: We monitor your security events as a managed service and alert you when we identify a threat. You can view our full range of services on our website, at

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BATH LIFE AWARDS I T’S N OT LO N G U N T I L T H E B I G N I G H T, SO H E R E’S A LO O K BAC K AT T H E FU N FRO M 2019… Cal Davies-Phillips, Kerry-Ann Markham and Tierney Cocoran

Elliot Mellen and Katja Kammerer


Sam Thomas and Simon Wainewright

Is it a film set? No, just the mesmeric Assembly Rooms

FLASHBACK! Were you there? Do you remember any of this? Each year the Bath Life Awards sell-out, with dozens left on the Waiting List, for one very simple reason: we can only fit 500 people into the Assembly Rooms, meaning that for years now the Bath Life Awards have been limited to our sponsors and finalists only. With luck you’ll be one of the lucky 500 this year, but if not here’s the sort of fun you’ll be missing, courtesy of last year’s shindig… Amy Williams

Amanda Brown, David Maxwell and Zara Perry David Ghent and Angela Ghent, Tim Moss and Annie Moss I BATH LIFE I 55


Standing tall were these gorgeous guests

Joe Stas and William Noad

Nickie Portman, Jon Rolfe, James Portman and Lauren Prince

Nicola McHale and Gavin McHale

Emilio Mudrak and Mark Hawkins Annette Hind and Annabel Hall

Greg Ingham wows the crowds

Tom Annear and Jonny Wheeler Rachael Risdale and Becky Pocock


Stephanie Pritchard and Robert Burrows

Evan Wienburg and Claire Wienburg



Declan Gray and Kalvin Simmons

Eddie Ilic and Aurore Coatantiec

Tom Bright, Holly Rose and Adrian Millard

Adam Powell and Claire Powell Alice Stevens and Fiona Gilbert

Kevin Murphy and Penny Murphy


Beth Denny and David Maxwell

Katie Cofferon and Abi Constanza

Emma Rome and Abi Pocock I BATH LIFE I 59


David Boddington, Elaine Roberts, Lucy Allen and Stephen Pierce There were hugs aplenty on the night

Louise Harvey selfie-styles it out An awards ceremony is nothing without a multitude of gigantic feathers

MP Wera Hobhouse

Sarah Moon, Laura Brewster and Kambiz Shayegan Me?! Fabia Selwood-Miller, delighted with the win for Marlborough Tavern


Family jewellery manufacturers Est 1979

Proud Finalist of



Forget the Oscars, it’s all about the mighty Bath Life columns Rafi White, Mary Stringer, Anthony Rizzo and Isobel Heather

Happy winners Georgina Tomlinson and Emma Heatley-Adams Jody Roblin and Samantha Fanthorpe

Helen Rich can’t believe it Jonathan xxx Stapleton


And finally, winners Marcus Harris and Sophie Rodger in a state of jubilation

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Mes Amis is a family run, independent café, deli & caterer based in the village of Beckington We believe fresh is best and prepare all our food in house, daily. We specialise in seasonal, healthy, and most importantly flavour packed salads which accompany our lunch specials on our deli counter. Our cooked to order breakfasts are a must try as are our mouth-watering cakes. Catering for events and weddings is very much at the heart of Mes Amis; we love being a part of that once in a lifetime, special day. The menus we offer for weddings are very much a reflection of the innovative and delicious food we offer at our café.


A MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE OF BATH FROM THE SOUL SPA Our vision for Bath is that it can become the happiest, most relaxed, productive, creative and socially-engaged city in Britain.

How can this be achieved? Here at the Soul Spa, we help the people of Bath create a meditation habit that transforms how they deal with stress and supports their ability to be the best version of themselves. Come and visit us today at 2 Hetling Court Bath, BA1 1SH (a few steps from the Thermae Spa) to see how we can help you do the same. Let’s become the happiest city in the country, by helping one person at a time create a positive meditation habit. Proud Finalist of

The team at The Soul Spa is proud and excited to have been named a Finalist in The Bath Life Awards.

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Are you feeling romantic yet? After all, Bath has got to be one of the best cities in which to spend Valentine’s Day. Not only does the presence of Austen and her romantic heroes hang heavy over everything, but pretty much every street makes a rom com-worthy backdrop for any date. Obviously no Valentine’s is complete without a romantic dinner – and there too we’re not short of options. If you’re looking to grab a hotel after (who isn’t?), Koffmann & Mr White’s at The Abbey Hotel is a great stop. With an exclusive Valentine’s offer of three courses for £49, despite the romance of it all you won’t be skipping dessert. If you’re looking for dinner with a view it’s got to be Underwood. Off Pulteney Bridge, the restaurant offers sweeping romantic views of the city. In addition to a special V-Day set menu, they’re offering a sharing cocktail served on a heart-shaped tray – aww. They’ve also got live acoustic music on to add to the romantic vibes. You’ll find that at Greek Park Brasserie, too, where they’ll be celebrating the big night with live jazz from The Lambeth Swing to create the mood while you give each other loving looks across the table. For more:;;

Bradford on Avon’s new wine haven

NEW KID IN TOWN Cru Wines is a new independent wine emporium and lounge in Bradford on Avon. The cosy and welcoming spot is owned by Leanne Oliver, who hopes to make getting into wine a friendlier business. At Cru, newbies will find an informal, unintimidating environment with friendly staff – where questions are very much welcome and encouraged. They are currently serving eight different house wines by the glass, with a further 200 available to take home with you – or drink in the lounge for a small corkage fee – and a menu of light bites that complement the wine nicely.



Feeling the love at Koffmann & Mr White’s

Eating out in January and February is hard. You want to stay healthy after the excesses of Christmas, but not at the sacrifice of your social life. With this in mind, The Ivy Brasserie on Milsom Street has come up with a healthy menu to help with the post-Christmas detox. Available as part of the a la carte offering you’ll find the Tossed Asian Salad (£7.50) packed with beansprouts, pak choi, watermelon, broccoli, cashew nuts, sesame and coriander with hoisin sauce, and the Jackfruit and Peanut Bang Bang Salad with chayote, Chinese leaf, mooli, crispy wonton, peanuts and more sesame seeds and coriander (£12.95). But your options don’t stop with salads – they’ve also got a bunch of low and no alcohol cocktails like The Temperance G&T, a blend of full flavoured G&T with very low alcohol content using Hayman’s Small Gin, Fever-Tree Naturally Light Tonic and a fresh twist of pink grapefruit, and many more options besides. For more:

Test out The Ivy’s selection of low and no alcohol cocktails I BATH LIFE I 73

FOOD & DRINK island in Fiji working as a sustainability manager on an ecotourism project. It was while I was out there that I decided that, upon my return, I would marry my two passions, baking and sustainability, and start the business.


And how do your concerns about sustainability impact how you run Thoughtful? Unlike many places awash with sustainability buzz words, it’s a mantra we live and breathe. Genuinely working hard to source locally and seasonally both supports the local economy and other small producers, and gives us access to the best local produce. Managing our waste very carefully allows us to keep 95 per cent of our waste from going to landfill. But sustainability runs so much deeper than this – we even encourage our customers to barter their surplus fruit and veg in exchange for bread.


Thoughtful Bakery celebrated its tenth year in business in 2019. Here, head honcho Duncan shares all on good bread, his own favourite bakes – and what true sustainability looks like So, Duncan, tell us about life at Thoughtful Bakery It’s a lovely little bakery cafe based on Barton Street in Bath, just up from the Theatre Royal. What few people know is that, as you walk into the shop, right under their feet in our basement a team of incredibly talented bakers and pastry chefs are busying themselves, making and baking absolutely everything we sell in the shop, fresh, every day, from scratch.


And how did you end up running Thoughtful? I was a bored web developer working from home and have always been a passionate cook. Experimenting in the kitchen got me onto making bread (which I was very bad at initially) – and it became real obsession. A chance appearance on a BBC 2 series called It’s Not Easy Being Green got me into sustainable building DIY projects, which then led to a six-month job on a remote

You do a lot of foraging, right? Sounds quite time consuming to us… Foraging is great. Not only does it really capture the whole essence of locally sourcing, but it’s free (other than your time) and keeps your creative juices flowing. There are particular times of the year where we forage more, such as when wild garlic is in season, but whenever there is time, I will be out seeing what mother nature has to offer. What’s your favourite thing on the menu? It’s got to be our vegetarian sausage rolls. We make delicious meaty ones too, but the veggie ones are something else. Filled with dates, Cheddar cheese and rosemary, this unlikely combination delivers such an incredible flavour – they are a must try. And all wrapped up in delicately laminated pastry as

part of the viennoiserie range my talented pastry chef produces too. But my favourite thing to make must be our sourdough bagels. If you haven’t had a freshly baked bagel, you haven’t lived. (Unfortunately, they’re only available on Saturdays.) You have a bakery school at Thoughtful as well – how did you get into teaching? Teaching was born out of wanting to share my passion for baking. Our dedicated bakery school is a lovely, cosy, well-equipped space where we run day courses sharing our tips and turning frustrated home bakers into accomplished ones. Course dates are online and we offer gift vouchers too, which make the perfect present. Any myths about bread making you’d like to dispel? So many myths! For one thing, you don’t need to put sugar in bread to feed the yeast, like most books say. Good bread is bread that is made slowly, so don’t go balancing the proving bowl on your radiator, putting it on top of your AGA or in your airing cupboard. Most importantly, though, I would say that bread is not the devil. Properly fermented bread (not the shop bought convenience stuff) is far more easily digestible, is very nutritious (even if made using white flour) and will put a smile on your face. The calories tend to come more from the lashings of butter we put on it. Finally, what are some of the challenges you face running the bakery? Running any business is hard. Running a business in our beautiful city, where rent and rates are sky high, is harder still. You only need to look at how many of our lovely independents we have lost in the last year to see there is a need for change and a proper strategy, or Bath will risk losing it’s own identity, drowned in the anonymity of a high street full of multinationals. I am very proud that we turned 10 years old as a business at the start of the year, and hugely proud of my incredible team; I’m so very thankful for our loyal customers, too.


How did Veganuary go for you? If it was comfort food you were missing, rather than meat itself, have we got the place for you… By Matt Bielby Pictures by Pete Helme and Lauren Scott


ourish is a bright and painless way into vegan food. It looks like a pub – heck, it used to be a pub, Filos (it stood for ‘first in, last out’), towards the edge of town on the London Road – and it feels relaxed in the same sort of way. There’s bare wood, plenty of space, tables big and small, a few nooks and crannies to hide yourself in, and eccentrically bright floral artwork everywhere; above, sound-deadening fluffy clouds hang from the ceiling, working hard to prevent an otherwise potentially echoey space being quite as loud as it might be. When owner Robbie Tack took over here maybe five years ago he renamed it The Beaufort and dramatically upped its foodie game, with a wide-ranging contemporary British menu. Times change though, as do people, and now a committed vegan, he’s more recently reinvented this space as the 100 per cent vegan Nourish. Long-term Bath Life editor Lisa is a big fan, but how would it appeal to those of us – in this instance, me and my similarly meat-toothed pal Lauren – who still like to chow down on animal on occasion? Rather well, as it happens. Robbie likes to describe what he does here as ‘plantbased’, and there’s something happily eccentric about Nourish. It doesn’t feel fine dining like Acorn – one of


Bath’s other prominent vegan restaurants – and it doesn’t feel particularly worthy, either; at a guess, the crowd here is about 50 per cent committed vegan and 50 per cent not. There’s no preaching, and the eclectic menu – with its twin emphases on local, fresh, sustainable ingredients and inventive, hearty food – is full of dishes that catch the eye. Portions tend toward the Brobdingnagian, with sharp flavours, a mix of textures, and not a little heat on occasion; you could bring rugby players here and they wouldn’t balk, feel short-changed, or want to pop into KFC on their way home. To drink, a glass of Don David Malbec Reserve (by the glass or £28 per bottle, excellent) and a Bath Culture House hibiscus kombucha (£4, floral and interesting) while we explored the menu of six starters and six mains, plus the odd special from the blackboards. Flicking your eye across the regular offerings indicates the approach here nicely: with quite a few of them you double-take, so meaty do they look and sound. The ‘scallops’, of course, are mushrooms; what looks like pulled pork is really barbecued jackfruit; the Bolognese is made with walnuts; the burgers are seitan, that top-notch meat substitute made by washing wheat flour dough until just the gluten remains. You could complain that there’s too much emphasis on fake meats of the ‘coconut bacon’ variety, but if that’s what it takes to get bums on seats, all power to them, I say.


Two £13.95 main courses we didn’t order – but might well do in the future – show the approach perfectly: the ‘fish’ and chips, which pairs the expected tartar sauce and pea purée with lightly battered, deep fried banana blossom, and ‘duck’ pancakes, where everything’s as you’d expect (spring onions, hoisin sauce, steamed pancakes), but the duck is actually braised tofu. So where to begin? From the starters menu we took the cajun fried mushrooms with barbecue sauce and salsa verde (£7.95), and the butternut squash and rosemary arancini with pesto aioli (£5.95). The first came on a wooden board (somewhat past its sell-by date as an idea, but this is not a hip place as such) and asked to be eaten with fingers, as we did, while the second arrived as a little trio on a rectangular tray, and had us fighting over the third one. Not delicate food, but lots of texture, plenty of flavour, and pretty satisfying. For mains, we went for a couple of specials: the bibimbap (a Korean rice dish meaning, simply, ‘contains various ingredients’) and the Mexican poke bowl, both £15.95. Each was a generously sized riot of colours and textures and tastes, the former including crispy tempura, spiced gochujang sauce (a sort of chilli pepper paste), pickled daikon (a mild, pale winter radish), shimeji mushrooms and assorted types of seaweed, and the latter revolving more around black beans and guacamole. Both were quite rustic but carefully arranged (with a bibimbap, in particular, it’s traditional to harmonise the colours prettily), and they filled us up a treat. Not so much so that we couldn’t enjoy the two options on the desserts menu, though: the raw salted caramel cheesecake with activated charcoal, berries and hemp seeds, and the chocolate torte with honeycomb and raspberries (£7). Both, again, were of Leviathan size – bordering on too big, you could argue – and, though fun to eat, gave a disappointingly mild sugar hit. All in all, though, this is a great place, with a relaxed, welcoming family feel that’s as eager to please carnivores as committed vegans; for an unpleasantly grey, cold midweek in January, it was impressively full the night we went too, so the message seems to be getting across. If you’ve a mixed group of vegans and non-vegans to entertain, have recently gone veggie but miss more ‘normal’ restaurant food, or simply want to give plantbased grub a go, this is an excellent alternative. You’ll all have fun, I suspect – and it’s a rare day any of you will leave here hungry, that’s for sure. n

“You could bring rugby players here and they wouldn’t balk” DINING DETAILS Nourish, 1 Beaufort West, London Road, Bath, BA1 6QB; 01225 422033; We ate Extremely well: a couple of the specials, both the pud options, and a selection of starters: an additional one we unexpectedly got to share, the king oyster scallops with truffle pea purée, coconut bacon and crispy kelp (£7.95), was especially memorable, being immensely similar in texture et al to its seafood namesake, but of course pure mushroom. Vegetarian options Well, drrr. Prices Around £5-£7 for starters, £14-16

for mains, and £7 for desserts; sides are £3, except for sweet potato chips (£3.50). Drinks Bubbles from £25 – £48 per bottle; a good selection of whites, reds and rosés, mostly Old World, some organic, and starting at £11.95 for a 500ml carafe of house Sauvignon or Merlot; plus beers (we’d have a Weeerd from local brewer Electric Bear) and a compelling a range of soft options, from iced teas to organic colas and locally made kombuchas. Service / atmosphere Very friendly, chatty and relaxed. What else? Pleasingly personal and nonjudgemental, this is the vegan restaurant for people who don’t think they like vegan food. I BATH LIFE I 77

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What does love taste like? (We’re ignoring you smutty ones at the back.) If we had to say, we’d suggest ice cream. Slips down easily, good all year around, goes with everything, can give you a headache if you over-indulge. Alessi – the cool Italian kitchen accessory and homeware designer that’s such a staple at Bath stalwart Quadri in Milsom Place – offers its Big Love heartshaped spoons in various sizes and materials, the steel ones (£6 each) being specifically intended for the sweet, cold stuff, though we reckon the smaller rose-gold plated teaspoons (£25.50 for a set of four) would serve just as well too. Since we all seem a little more chilled about Valentine’s Day – coming up on 14 February, of course – this year than most (hence the relative lack of hearts and flowers in this very mag, in fact), investing in a subtle spoon set for a moment of indulgence with your bae, before perhaps a bit of subtle spooning later on, might seem the way to go. Alessi Big Love spoons, from £6, are available at Quadri; I BATH LIFE I 79


Aston Martin’s newest Vantage features highlighter green details and a manual gearbox; it’s an old-school hooligan in Savile Row gear, the Kingsman movie franchise in the form of a car By Matt Bielby

We can definitely see Taron Egerton driving around in this one...



The Vantage AMR is super shark-like from the side, those giant ‘gills’ on the flanks a winning design detail


ruth be told, we were meant to be testing the regular Aston Martin Vantage for this piece – a highly desirable bit of kit in itself, of course – but at the last minute things changed. Turns out the guys at our local dealer – Dick Lovett in Bristol, which covers everywhere from Cornwall to South Wales – had just sold their demonstrator, so we got this instead. And yes, as you can probably tell from the subtle-yet-shouty stripes around the bottom edges, it’s something of an upgrade. The regular Vantage will set you back a little over £120k, depending on how fast-and-loose you’ve played with the options list, but what you’re looking at here is a £150,000 car. It’s also a 200mph one, which makes it both the fastest and most expensive vehicle we’ve ever tested here at Bath Life. Bloody hell. Hope I don’t scratch it. This thing, ladies and gentlemen, is called the Vantage AMR – that stands for ‘Aston Martin Racing’ – and they’re only making 200 of ’em. (We got quite excited at the legend ‘1 of 200’ engraved below the door, but it turns out they all say that – the days of being able to know if you’ve got the second or the hundred-and-ninety-ninth are sadly gone, presumably because with Aston Martins everyone wants number (00)7.) The Vantage is the accessible, entry-level Aston – these things, of course, are relative –

and was originally designed to be a Porsche 911 rival, but in its latest incarnation has been pushed a little further upmarket. Aston’s design chief Marek Reichmann – Sheffield born, Middlesborough educated, a man with an eye for a sharp crease and a smooth curve – has gone bold with its look, abandoning many classic design cues in favour of blatant

“This is a playmate that wants you, in suitable circumstances, to have the maximum amount of oldfashioned fun” aggression and eye-catching details, like the ‘shark-gill’ vents in the front wings. The proportions are strong – this thing is all bonnet – and it looks great in profile or from the rear three-quarters; it’s aerodynamically clever too, creating genuine downforce thanks to numerous underbody channels, a gigantic front splitter and that monstrous rear diffuser. TO MY MIND, though, the face lets it down a little: something of a problem

for a car that sells on sex appeal. Gone is Aston’s famous, handsome grill in favour of squintingly small headlights and a great big gaping maw. It’s macho, for sure, but somewhat Japanese-looking – like a giant Mazda MX5, maybe – and seems particularly colour sensitive; I’d personally be going for some deep metallic rather than the of-themoment ‘China grey’ you see here. Face aside, though, this is a car that’s easy to love. Inside, you nestle snug and low – the seats are excellent, something many expensive cars get bafflingly wrong – and though there’s plenty of room for two (this is a strict two-seater) you feel quite enclosed, thanks to the slim glasshouse and high shoulder line. The driving position is great, forward visibility too, but – though the giant door mirrors help – to the back and sides it’s less good; I was thankful for the (optional extra) reversing cameras, for sure. Controls? Well, there are certainly a lot of them – buttons everywhere – but they somehow never feel confusing or annoying, and it turns out you can manage most things without rooting too deeply into the entertainment system sub-menus. The most important new thing about this AMR version is its seven-speed manual transmission – which brings with it a minuscule weight saving and a suspension set-up geared for fun – and some of these buttons are dedicated to helping you get the most out of that. One just ahead of the gearstick activates flat upshifts and rev- I BATH LIFE I 81

CAR REVIEW AT A GLANCE Car: Aston Martin Vantage AMR Price: £149,995 Under the bonnet: The same turbocharged 4.0 litre V8 Mercedes-AMG as in the regular Vantage, just here paired with a manual gearbox; it has torque to burn and makes for a pleasingly old-school driving experience. Equipment specs: All the luxury kit you’d want comes as standard (save, perhaps, the useful optional all-round cameras), plus you get ace carbon ceramic brakes; this doesn’t mean, however, that Aston’s Q Collection won’t be happy to take thousands extra off you to upgrade everything. Performance: A little weirdly, this more expensive, more racy version is faster at the top end (this is a genuine 200mph car) but slower to get to 62mph (4 seconds plays 3.6 seconds) than the cheaper auto version. Fuel economy: Should you care, in miles per gallon terms you’re likely to get low to mid-20s. In a nutshell: Aston Martin’s sportiest, most accessible car remains striking to look at and easy to use, but now gets a more involving old-school manual gearbox. Dealer: Dick Lovett Aston Martin, Kingsheath, Cribbs Causeway, Bristol, BS10 7TU; 0117 321 6708;

“It’s the sort of baby supercar you could legitimately use every day”

matching on downshifts (in other words, makes you look like the smoothest, most talented driver ever), while others on the steering wheel allow you to cycle between suspension set-ups and other modes. (There’s no ‘Comfort’ on this thing, just Sport, Sport+ and Track.) Go for the more radical options and it’s very easy to make the car slide – but then this is a playmate that wants you, in suitable circumstances, to have the maximum amount of old-fashioned fun. IN MANY WAYS the seven-speed Graziano manual gearbox is both the best and worst thing about the car: best, in that it forces you to engage more closely with everything your Aston is doing; worst, in that its layout is slightly odd, with first gear on a dogleg to the left and back and the other six forward gears in a variation on the regular H-shape. It means you need to give getting going more conscious thought than you otherwise might, and – if I’m honest – a few times I wasn’t at all sure which gear I was actually in, which would potentially be embarrassing apart from two things. Firstly, a handy display right below the speedo reminds you, and secondly, thanks to all the torque it has, this doesn’t matter too much. Set off in second gear and you’ll be completely fine. Speaking of torque, the engine here is a magnificent thing, a 503bhp, turbocharged, entertainingly free-revving 4.0 litre V8 bought in from strategic partner Mercedes-AMG. In new manual form it’s a tiny bit faster at the top end than the existing paddle-shift version, and a tiny bit slower in terms of

Great details at the rear, and a tight predator-about-to-pounce stance; China grey is a very Marmite colour choice, though


day-to-day overtaking acceleration. Not that either matters a jot, because with this car it’s how it does things that matters. The whole point of the Vantage AMR, you see, is that it’s the sort of baby supercar you could legitimately use every day – it’s comfortable and relaxing and specifically designed to cope with British potholes – but at the same time can, on a dime, switch character into an athletic hoot. It doesn’t jiggle or jar, the steering’s precise, and though you occasionally feel its width, it never gets nervous or twitchy – unless you specifically ask it to become so. Perhaps fancifully, I felt it was possible to gauge the attentions of ex-Lotus handling boss Matt Becker in the deft way it responded to my inputs. AND IN THIS CONTEXT, having to learn a slightly eccentric manual gearbox arrangement could be considered part of the fun too; after all, buying a manual supercar in these paddle-shift days is something of an eccentric choice anyway. There’s a lot to get stuck into here, and I suspect you’d find it preferable, more entertaining company to most of its – also excellent, it has to be said – rivals on more UK roads, more of the time. Plus, it’s an Aston Martin. You’re paying a premium for the privilege of the badge, I suppose, but it genuinely feels special in a way many other cars do not, with that all-important sense of occasion in spades. If money was no object yet I could only own one car, it might well be this one.



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Walcot Street isn’t just Bath’s hippest neighbourhood, but an increasingly important player in the West Country’s interiors scene – here’s where to find it all By Matt Bielby I BATH LIFE I 85



here do you go when life’s getting you down? Sure, there are the parks, the Skyline Walk, the canal paths. But they’re a bit of a commitment, in the main – and muddy, at this time of year. Instead, when we’ve had enough of the traffic nose-to-tail around Queen Square and the Milsom Street hordes, here at Bath Life we like to wander off the beaten track – not far, just a few yards – to Walcot Street, Bath’s chillest neighbourhood. It’s a place you can just potter, take your time, and always see something new. It’s artisan, bohemian, alternative in all the good ways, an area where you can be sure to come away with something cool, whether your budget’s £25,000 or £2.50. Few cars honk, only the occasional truck ventures, and if cartoon bluebirds don’t fly around your head exactly, we always feel the weight lifting from our shoulders – at least for a little while. This is a handsome street, sure, but more than that it’s an eclectic, friendly and intriguing one. And the businesses that make it so – and there are far more of them than you might think – tend to love it here. That in recent years it’s upped its game notably in one specific area – interiors – only adds to the appeal. Once Walcot Street was simply an appealing pick ’n’ mix; now it’s an appealing pick ’n’ mix with focus. ONE OF THE GREAT JOYS of Walcot Street is how much of it is

hidden, but there to be discovered; it’s almost like a reef, with all sorts of unlikely but spectacular life tucked away in its nooks and crannies. What’s above that shop? What’s down that alleyway? The answers are almost always worth knowing. Wedged here, between the tall wall of houses that make up The Paragon and the slimy riverbank, is more than just the main Walcot Street drag, and some of the little off-shoots – like St Swithins Yard or Beehive Yard – extend back for ages.

above: Nancy and Cathy of Nancy Rose Hats and Sumptuous Designerwear; below: TR Hayes, on London Street at the top of the drag

“It’s almost like a reef, with all sorts of unlikely but spectacular life tucked away in its nooks and crannies” 86 I BATH LIFE I


Top artisanship at Framing Workshop

The Yellow Shop: the fashionista’s Cave of Wonders equivalent I BATH LIFE I 87


“I can’t imagine anyone walking along here and not finding something to fall in love with”



Earn your Insta-wings at The Hive!

Innovative yoga space with the most Instagramfriendly wall in Bath

Take Minuteman Press, for instance, one of the few remaining printers actually here in the city, and a real veteran of the strip, having been here for 22 years. The shop-front looks of relatively normal size, but enter the maze behind and it goes on forever, ultimately comprising – says operations and marketing director Dave Dixon – over half a football pitch of space. “We’ve a great mix of businesses on Walcot Street,” Dave says, “and a very supportive community; what keeps it so interesting is that many really successful ones are rather tucked away, and that new places crop up all the time. Consider F.east @ Walcot, just across the road from us, a new arrival that does mind-blowingly good eastern street food. Or the refurbished sandwich shop, Taylor’s Boutique Cafe, up at the other end. Didicakes is another little gem, always super busy with amazing cakes for all occasions walking out the door all day long.” But it’s not just newbies; many of the best-established businesses here are – like Minuteman – immensely loyal to the place. “We’ve been here 13 years now,” says Ben Smithson of Aqua, a topnotch all-day dining restaurant that’s part of a small local group that also includes two Bristol sites, “and really feel like part of the culture. Walcot Street has a wonderful neighbourhood atmosphere to it, and all the traders are so friendly and helpful. It’s great just to meander down too, but make sure you look up occasionally, as there are so many quirky things to take in. It’s only if you stand at the London Road at the top end of the street, for instance, that you’ll see the spire on the top of our building, an amazing old Arts and Crafts church house.” Ian Pittman at The Framing Workshop nearby, where they’ve been framing for over 30 years, tends to agree. “That it’s so interesting and friendly, having really retained its character, is to the credit of all the people here. There’s a palpable atmosphere of independence and history on Walcot Street, and it’s full of creative types and beautifully made items. In fact, I can’t imagine anyone walking along here and not finding something to fall in love with.”

Lucy Aston runs yoga and meditation studio The Hive, tucked away behind Beehive Yard on Old Orchard, with business partner, Bex Thibault; they’ve been here, just off Walcot Street, for twelve months now. “Our first year has been incredible,” Lucy says. “We offer a little sanctuary of peace and calm down by the river, with fresh plants, gorgeous candles, and our famous Bee Wings painted on the wall. (Naturally, lots of people like to stand in front of them for a picture.) We’re the only studio in town to run regular classes for children, teenagers and families, and offer a wide variety of yoga styles, taught by the best teachers around.” They even have a motto – ‘Live. Breathe. Fly’ – and an explanation for it, too. “As we’re all so busy with our lives, we need a little place to get away from it all, breathe and make time for ourselves, before flying back, feeling a little lighter and more relaxed.” Lucy thinks Walcot Street is the very best part of the city, “a secret little hidden gem away from the main tourist traps, but well-used by residents. The architecture is stunning, and fairy-lit in the evenings, and the atmosphere is friendly; the businesses all chat and try to help each other out. The parking’s great too, and on the street it’s even free on Sundays.” With everyone getting back into their fitness game after Christmas, the last few weeks have been the busiest since they opened. “Hopefully lots of them will stay with us,” Lucy says. “If you popped in tomorrow we’d chat about where you are with your yoga journey, and make sure we found the right class for you; we’re even taking a party of Hive yogis on a retreat to India in April, and – if that interests you – there are still a few spaces left!” For more,; @thehiveyogabath



SALCOMBE TRADING COMPANY WHAT THAT SOMETHING might be is, of course, up to you. It could

be a birthday card at Meticulous Ink, or the latest issue of Saga at American Dream – or, most likely of all, something for the home. “Walcot Street is having a real interiors renaissance at the moment,” says Sarah Howells at TR Hayes, an independent, family-run business that’s been in Bath since 1915 and remains the city’s largest furniture store. These guys began in Widcombe, but moved to the top of Walcot Street in 1927. “Between Neptune at the bottom and ourselves at the top, you’ll find an amazing array of interior shops all the way along. As a furniture business we feel Walcot’s current incarnation is a real blessing, as it’s bringing more people to the area specifically to shop for interiors. Couple that with the various trendy new eateries constantly popping up, and it’s quite the place to be!” As well as TR Hayes, The Framing Workshop and kitchen specialist Neptune, you’ll find Walcot Upholstery here, plus ceramics specialist Avenida, Enlighten for lighting, Looking Glass of Bath for mirrors, both Capitol Carpets and Haliden Oriental Carpets for the stuff under your feet, Katherine Fraser for textiles, Broadleaf Timber for beautiful wooden floors and doors, interior designers Etons of Bath, and many more. Graham and Green, right in the middle, is always spectacular. Another veteran of the street is Broadleaf Timber, maker of beautiful wooden floors and doors. These guys have been here since 2002; right now, parquet flooring remains their best seller, alongside

Salcombe Trading: a little piece of Scandi living in Bath


Famous family-run interiors business makes the move – to Walcot Now here’s a well-known name: Salcombe Trading Company’s been around for over 20 years, starting – surprise! – in Salcombe, Devon, but opening its first Bath shop as far back as 2008. “We moved from Broad Street to Walcot Street late last year,” says Michelle Sames, one half of the husband-and-wife team behind this place, “and haven’t looked back. We’re very lucky to have the whole townhouse here, including a beautiful courtyard garden and – we counted – seven working fireplaces.” The guys sell a Scandi-British mix of interiors, homewares and clothing, many locally made and all featuring clean, beautiful design. There’s currently an emphasis on spring cleaning, storage solutions and people generally freshening up their homes here, and Michelle is particularly pleased with some of the new items they’ve recently introduced in soft dusky pinks, dark greens and stone shades. “Candles are always a big seller for us,” she says, “either beautiful scented ones or our famous Danish hand-dipped candles in over 20 colours.” And what would improve this place? “We love to see the trams back,” Michelle says. “Can you imagine them rolling up and down Walcot Street? How fantastic that would be!” For more,



JIM LAWRENCE LIGHTING Some 25 years ago, farmer Jim Lawrence reinvented himself as a lighting guru; now he’s taken on one of Walcot’s most spectacular buildings for his new showroom

Jim Lawrence: another relative newbie to the street, and enviable occupier of one of the very best shop fronts in town

mid and darker toned floors. As Vanessa Garrett of Broadleaf says, “The great thing about Walcot Street is that it’s become a major destination for beautiful interiors, while retaining its ‘small town’ feel.” NOT THAT EVERYTHING is completely rosy, of course. Being one of Bath’s best-kept secrets can be a double-edged sword, for instance; yes, it helps keep the rents relatively – and usefully – low, but you still want more people knowing about, and using, the street. “Making the weekends here feel special, with more events taking place, would be a good start,” says Ben at Aqua. In fact, everyone’s into the idea of more events. “Perhaps we could close to traffic for a huge summer street party,” says Cathy Wilkin at Sumptuous Designerwear, the designer resale boutique, “but at the very least let’s get the Bath Carnival directed up through Walcot Street.” Then there’s that other long-running problem, the gap – taken up by Cattle Market car park – that separates the Hilton Hotel from the beginning of Walcot Street proper. This couple of hundred windswept metres psychologically cuts off Walcot from the rest of the city. “Don’t get me wrong, the car park is important,” says Dave Dixon, “but I still think there’s a huge opportunity being missed here. Maybe this space could hold some of the much needed office accommodation we keep hearing is lacking in the city, and there’s no real reason why we couldn’t keep the parking provision too – just tucked away underneath. Since the Hilton itself is undertaking a huge refurb, becoming a Double Tree by Hilton, the time would certainly seem right.” n


One of the latest arrivals on Walcot Street is Jim Lawrence Lighting, a family-run Suffolk specialist that’s taken on its first shop outside that county, in the form of the old Richard Hathaway Lighting showroom with its amazing curved glass frontage, at 114-116 Walcot Street. “The bow fronted widows lead into a jewel of a Georgian shop, complete with two beautiful original fireplaces,” says Jim. “It’s the perfect backdrop for our period lighting designs. Over the past eight months we have been beavering away on the renovation, as the building had completely fallen into disrepair.” Indeed, it’s been a real labour of love bringing this place back to life over the past few months. “This is a very special part of Bath,” Jim says, “and I’ve fond memories of delving for interiors treasures at Walcot Reclamation many years ago. You could fit your whole home out on this street, from carpets and paints to mirrors and kitchens; from upholsters and framers to interior designers and weavers. We’re really lucky to have a super creative trade association here too, working hard to remind everyone what a fantastic jewel of a street this is. In fact, there are early plans afoot to see if we can bring together an Interior Design Week in the autumn, where we can really showcase all the skills we’re so lucky to have here.” The Jim Lawrence style “sits somewhere between vintage elegance and modern country styling,” Jim says, so the guys were thrilled to find that the older part of the shop leads right through to a bright, more spacious warehouse-inspired area behind, a lovely light space to showcase the wide range of home furnishings they also offer, from classical door and window furniture to bespoke curtains and curtain poles. “Every piece in our collection, from the smallest curtain ring to the largest chandelier, is designed and hand-made at our Suffolk workshop,” Jim says. “We’ve over 150 people there, all proud to keep alive manufacturing techniques employed over many generations, and firmly believe in the old-fashioned values of exceptional customer service and great British craftsmanship. Essentially, we wanted to create a go-to space for anyone who loves period interiors.” For more,

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Now that’s our kind of cleanse


Lydia Tewkesbury tests out the Kitchari Cleanse, bringing balance to the body



hen my editor first raised the possibility that I should maybe undertake a digestive cleanse, my initial reaction was one of alarm. The word ‘cleanse’ conjured up images of a liquid diet, hunger, abject misery, the possibility of inflicting hanger-related injuries on my colleagues, et cetera et cetera. “Is it a weight loss thing?” I hesitantly asked, bracing myself for the worst. I was assured it was not. Or, at least, it didn’t have to be. Hannah Marshall and Kim Koniotes’ Kitchari Cleanse, fortunately for me, includes actual food. I agreed to give it a go. The Kitchari Cleanse is part of the Ayurvedic tradition, meaning it’s from India, ancient, and all about restoring balance. You’re supporting something called Agni, Hannah explained over a pre-cleanse cuppa. An Ayurvedic concept, Agni means fire – and we have a lot of different Agnis in the body, all serving different purposes. In the context of the cleanse, you can think of Agni sort of like your metabolism. It breaks down your food,


left: Kate and Kim with a fresh batch of kitchari; right: Eat your way healthy

separating the good from the bad – but, it’s important to note, according to the thinking of Ayurveda, Agni is much more complicated than any comparison to modern science terms like ‘metabolism’ or ‘enzymes’. Agni is more than automatic bodily process – it has intelligence, and (those that follow the Ayurvedic tradition believe) your Agni has an ability to distinguish what is good for you and bad. Strong Agni is crucial to good health, and it’s an interconnected system, so if one Agni is out of whack then the rest of them will soon follow. So, what happens if your Agni is weak? In a word: sludge. Or Ama, as it is officially known. Ama is formed of undigested food particles that decay in the body – sludge – wreaking havoc and weakening the allimportant Agni. Feeling dull, heavy, lethargic, bloated, without appetite and a bit glum are all signs of Ama in the body. I did this cleanse right after a festive break filled with Lindor and all the cheese I could eat, so as you can imagine I was experiencing all of the above. The Kitchari Cleanse is designed to restore and balance the Agni to its pre (in my case) two-week Pringle-binge glory. Traditionally a blend of lentils and rice, fresh ginger, ground turmeric and ground cumin served with fresh lemon juice and coriander, the kitchari crafted by Kim Koniotes at St James’s Cafe Deli that I would be living on for the next few days was the traditional recipe combined with Kim’s own, delicious take. Kitchari mixes ingredients that strengthen the Agni and restore digestive function by stimulating the production of the enzymes that aid digestion. The ingredients also support the body to absorb the nutrients and eliminate what we don’t need – hopefully improving the state of body and mind in the

process. So it’s not about depriving yourself at all, as I had worried, but actually about giving yourself exactly what it is that you need. And, I was relieved to discover, there is plenty of food. You can do either a one- or three-day variation of the cleanse, but I would recommend doing the three-day option if possible. In its most basic form, this means popping over to St James’s once a day to pick up your lunch and dinner (kitchari with a lemon and a handful of fresh coriander to garnish) – along with a couple of tea bags. Kitchari makes for a refreshing but hearty meal. Depending on whether you’re cleansing with weight loss in mind or, like me, just to

“It’s not about depriving yourself at all”

give your digestive system a bit of a kick start after much festive (and delicious) abuse, you can choose to either eat the full two pots per meal, or stick to one if you’re trying to drop a few pounds – though Hannah is launching a cleanse specifically for the purpose of weight loss on 24 February. You can find more on that on her website. Aside from the health benefits, it felt such a treat to have all my meals cooked for me. The cleanse does mean eating the same meal for lunch and dinner every day, but I found I didn’t mind it. For one thing, Kim’s kitchari was tastier than anything I’d ever make – I’m a lazy cook – and the novelty of not having to make any decisions about what to rustle up

for myself every meal made up for the ‘samey’ complaint Hannah said some of her customers sometimes struggle with. It’s easy to make positive choices when the food is already in your fridge. The cleanse has a layer of flexibility that allows you to really go as deep – or not – into the whole experience as you like. I went all in, which meant tongue scraping with a 100 per cent pure copper scraper – to clear the morning Ama off the tongue. It makes you gag, but you do feel somewhat refreshed afterwards. I also took a spoonful a day of Chyawanprash, an Ayurvedic Indian herbal jam that supports immunity and detoxification – probably my least favourite part of the whole thing, but not unbearable – and enjoyed a daily massage with Ayurveda Pura oil, which Hannah will help you select, depending on your body type. While the cleanse itself is very much one size fits all, if you choose to go deeper, finding out your body type is a great start – from there you can establish a routine that supports your constitution on a deeper level. Hannah has the resources to help with this. Honestly, the three days passed too quickly for my liking. The impact of the cleanse for me, more than anything, was how it made me conscious of the small ways I can take care of myself in my daily life. From feeding my body the right foods to taking a bit of extra time for a short massage before the shower, I was shocked at how these moments gave my days shape, purpose and a lot more satisfaction than my usual dinner of a chunk of cheese grated over a bowl of pasta... Sorry Hannah, I’ll try to do better from now on, I promise. I BATH LIFE I 95

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HEALTH & BEAUTY Lydia was still feeling the benefits of her Aveda moisturising treatment a week – and a couple of hair washes – later


Lydia Tewkesbury makes a long-awaited trip to BA1


henever I get my hair done it rains. This has been the rule for as long as I can remember, so I wasn’t surprised when Storm Brendan arrived on the day I was due to have my hair cut and styled by head stylist Leah at BA1 Hair on Bartlett Street. Even though BA1 is the chosen salon of many of my friends, I had yet to visit, so when the opportunity came up to go in for a chop I leapt at the chance. I am in general not the biggest hair and beauty fiend. I don’t get my hair done regularly enough, I’ve only had a facial once (for work purposes) and I’ve never set foot inside a nail salon. That said, despite my beauty treatment reservations, I really enjoy having my hair washed. And, I have to say, the washing at BA1 is on another level. Leah took one look at my winter ravaged hair and decreed it was in serious need of some extra TLC, so after a lovely shampoo, condition and head massage, an Aveda Botanical moisturising treatment was

carefully worked into my hair and then left for ten minutes or so. Before I had the chance to think damn I wish I had my phone to pass the time I was treated to a hand massage – a first for me. I recommend it. Whether you’re the lie back and relax type (the lady next to me) or the person that talks incessantly throughout (me), it really is lovely. WHAT YOU NEED IN a hairdresser more than anything is confidence, and Leah put me at my ease from the moment I sank into my chair. We bonded quickly over mutual appreciation of podcasts and Greta Gerwig as she expertly dealt with my mostly grown-out bob. The primary way I can describe the experience is one of infectious enthusiasm – whether we were chatting about hair or Everything I Know About Love. Leah’s an Aveda colour ambassador, and after talking to her, I have to say, I’m a convert. Aveda was all about clean beauty a long time before it was cool, Leah explained, and to this day their products are cruelty-free and contain around 90 per cent

organic raw herbal ingredients and organic essential oils, while 85 per cent of their skin and hair product packaging is almost entirely comprised of recycled materials. From the moisturising treatment to the Confixor styling gel, a lightweight product that kept my curls in place despite the less-than-ideal weather, to the Nutriplenish leave-in conditioner that left my hair softer than it has perhaps ever been, every product felt fresh, light and, best of all, guilt-free. You can see why Aveda is the chosen brand at BA1. The salon’s commitment to Aveda is part of what drew Leah, a fairly new (but already sought after) member of the team, to the salon in the first place. I was sad to leave – and not just because of the weather. But off I went, with a vow soon to return that I might even keep, my immaculately curled hair carefully tucked away under my waterproof, a handful of podcast recommendations to add to my repertoire and a new set of products for my wish list. n

“Hair washing at BA1 is on another level”

For more: I BATH LIFE I 97


Six sense

Here are a half-dozen great new beauty routines to get into for 2020; none of them are difficult, and they’ll each be better for the planet, your skin, or both


e may be coming to the end of January, and some of our best intentions may be becoming things of the past, but there’s one thing we shouldn’t give up on. It’s never too late to overhaul your beauty routine. With that in mind, here are six simple beauty habits that are my year-round tips for happier skin; even better, they can make a difference to the environment too.



Just like the songs says, and whatever the weather. This is always my number one go-to skincare tip, for anyone at any age. Just incorporating the simple daily habit of using broad spectrum sunscreen as part of your morning skincare routine can put you ahead in the anti-ageing game. It’s easy to spend a lot of time, money and energy on skincare products and treatments, but skipping your daily sunscreen could mean you just don’t see the results you want long term.


Let’s face it – we all know that it’s not a good idea to go to bed with a full face of makeup after a long day or night out, but do we always do it? And even if you don’t wear much or any makeup, your skin is still exposed to pollutants and bacteria during the day – not to mention the build up of oils, sweat, and dead skin that clog your pores in the process. This all means that, aside from sunscreen, cleansing really is the most important part of

your skincare routine. Skipping this key step can result in issues such as breakouts, irritation, dehydration, a blotchy complexion and even signs of premature ageing; it also reduces the effectiveness of the follow on products in your routine. There’s no need to overdo cleansing, of course, but creating a cleansing regime that you actually enjoy and look forward to goes a long way towards getting you into the habit every day.


Remember to wash your makeup brushes and blenders at least once a week, as dirty ones can wreak havoc with your skin and cause much more damage than just a simple breakout or skin irritation. Daily use accumulates sebum, impurities, pollution, dust, product buildup and dead skin cells that can even include harmful bacteria like staphylococcus, streptococcus and E. Coli. Putting time, energy and money into a skincare routine, and then undoing all your good work through dirty makeup brushes, is the epitome of counterproductive. Taking care of your brushes will also help with more flawless application and make them last longer – oh, and while we’re here, don’t forget to regularly clear out and clean your makeup bag as well.


As convenient as they may be, face wipes are incredibly damaging for the environment – and take years to break down in landfills. A

“The ‘Three Rs’ rule in the beauty world: Recycle, Reuse or Re-gift” 98 I BATH LIFE I

2019 report by Water UK found that around nine million wipes (including baby wipes) are being flushed down toilets every day, often causing severe blockages in sewers. Both The Body Shop and Holland & Barrett took the lead in removing their face wipe ranges in 2019, championing more environmentally friendly alternatives such as biodegradable options. Better still, switch over to reusable, washable face cloths. These are not only better for the environment, but can provide a much better, more thorough cleanse. (I’ve actually recently created my own double-sided face cloths and, combined with your favourite cleanser, guarantee they will help your skin feel beautifully clean and fresh.)


While we’re talking sustainability, there are better alternatives to disposable sanitary products too. Very few on the market are biodegradable, which leads to the same concerns about landfill and waste pollution as with face wipes. We also need to consider the materials used to manufacture these things, and how they may impact our bodies, especially when it comes to tampons. Synthetic fabrics used for sanitary products are often derived from crops sprayed with herbicides and pesticides, whilst the pearly white colour comes from chlorine bleach

and chemical additives. Companies like ohne ( provide 100 per cent biodegradable, unscented and bleach-free organic cotton tampons, wrapped in a hypoallergenic, recyclable plastic for protection. And there are also, of course, tampon-free solutions such as Moon Cup or Modibodi (a range of leak-proof, washable underwear for periods) that could be worth exploring.


Here’s my last one, and it’s kind of loose but also kind of important. revolving around the ‘Three Rs’ rule in the beauty world: Recycle, Reuse or Re-gift. Regularly taking stock of unused, no-longer-needed or never loved items (wellintentioned birthday or Christmas gifts, perhaps?) that didn’t quite fit in with your beauty routine, but might be of great use to someone else, is a great habit to get into. But instead of simply throwing items out, you could re-gift or donate to a charity such as Beauty Banks, which redistributes personal care and beauty items to women who need them. Locally, you can find one of Beauty Banks’ drop-off points at Found on Argyle Street.

Ané Auret is a self-confessed beauty obsessive and founder of Bath-based skincare brand Ané. Learn more at and follow her on Instagram @beauty_by_ane

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It’s the city’s business



Maeve England, David Hobdey and Allison Herbert

Shops and businesses in Bath are being asked to ‘shut that door’ to save energy. The campaign, supported by B&NES Council and Bath BID, aims to get businesses to keep their doors shut during the day – in fact, you might have started to spot their bright green ‘We Are Open’ stickers popping up on the entrances of participating businesses. “We want to see our local shops, cafes and restaurants adopt this policy, which will help them cut their energy bills, reduce carbon emissions and play a part towards addressing the climate emergency,” says Sarah Warren, Lib Dem councillor and cabinet member for Climate Emergency. “I know some stores believe an open door makes their business seem more welcoming, but studies have shown that closing the door doesn’t have a detrimental effect on profits and many major retailers and coffee chains are now adopting a closed-door policy.” To take part, and get a window/door sticker, contact; Councillor Sarah Warren and Eve Beddows from tea too are supporting the campaign

Best seat in town David Hobdey is the new chair for the Bath Business Improvement District (Bath BID). David, also chief exec of the St John’s Foundation, is thrilled to be embarking on his new challenge. “Bath BID is a not-for-profit that manages a significant budget to support city centre businesses,” he says. “We work closely with a wide cross-section of interests, and have made excellent progress over the last three years, so I’m pleased to be in the role at such an exciting time.” He replaces Maeve England, who’s stepping down after three years; a

partner at Mogers Drewett Solicitors, Maeve made her move due to her company relocating to just outside the current Bath BID area. She will remain a board member of Bath BID. “I have loved my time as chair, and it has been an enormous privilege to have this role in our beautiful, vibrant city,” she says. “There’s been a host of new initiatives, as well as a continuation of the core services, delivering a cleaner, safer and more welcoming environment.” For more:


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CREATIVITY SHINES Get involved in Bath’s biggest celebration of its dynamic creative, tech and cultural organisations, the Creative Bath Awards. “As a growing sector, Bath’s creative world is highly attractive to companies seeking new business,” says Vicki Cheadle, Creative Bath’s community leader. “Sponsors benefit from long-term marketing association, peaking in June.” Already on board are Headline sponsor Bath Spa University, Platinum sponsor Future Publishing, and category sponsors Anthem Publishing, Bath Digital Festival, Edit, Enlightened, The Guild, Half Moon Bay, Kaleidoscope

Collection, MediaClash, Minuteman Press, OJO Solutions, Richardson Swift, Royds Withy King, and Rocketmakers. “As well as choosing one of our categories, businesses can sponsor our shoulder events, which include the Finalists’ & Sponsors’ reception, the drinks reception on Awards evening and our Winners’ Dinner,” says Vicki. Nominations open in February. The Awards are free to enter, and you can enter multiple categories; Awards night is 11 June in Queen Square. For more, email Vicki Cheadle at;; @Creativebath

BOULES ARE BACK IN TOWN The legendary Bath Boules tournament, sponsored by Brewin Dolphin, returns to Queen Square in just over five months’ time for its big 30th anniversary – and there are plenty of ways to get involved. Running from Friday-Sunday, 12-14 June, the Boules takes over Queen Square in a huge public party open to all, which over the years has raised more than £800,000 for Bath charities. As well as the Boules tournaments in the daytime, which involves over 190 teams across the weekend, the festival features the legendary Friday Night Party with food, drink and music, sponsored by Savills. Team places are highly sought after,


Support one of Bath’s longestrunning charity events


and the only way to guarantee a place as part of this special anniversary year is to take a sponsorship position. These are available now, ahead of the remainder of team tickets going on sale on 17 March. Queen Square is uniquely closed to traffic on two sides for the Boules, making space for an enhanced street-food market sponsored by the award-winning foodie magazine, Crumbs, for which pitches are currently being allocated. “All proceeds from the event – including the bar and raffle – go to good causes,” says event director Steph Dodd. “If you can donate a prize, we would love to hear from you. The more money we raise, the more good we can do; it’s win-win!” The Boules is headline sponsored by Brewin Dolphin, and Big Boules sponsors this year include Archers Marquees, B&NES, Bath Ales, Bath Life, Crumbs, Great Western Wine, OJO Solutions, Novia, Ruffer, Savills and Simple Recruitment. To learn more, contact Nell at nell.robins@ For more:

MEA MEA is a firm of construction consultants, project managers, quantity surveyors and building surveyors, established in 1967. They’ve just set up shop in the city and love a blue brolly. So, guys, tell us all about you… MEA works throughout the UK for a wide variety of clients in the private and public sectors; our experience covers new builds, refurbishment, alterations and conservation projects. Why did you choose Bath to set up the new branch? Our South West office was in Chippenham, where we’d been since 1994. However, in the last few years we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of clients, fellow consultants and projects in the Bath area. In order to provide a better service to existing clients and develop new ones, we decided it would be better to move into the city. We’re currently working on several projects in the immediate area, including TCN’s Newark Works project, which is part of the Bath Quays South Regeneration. We continue to work with St John’s Foundation on several building projects, while others include conservation projects and schemes for high net worth private clients. Finally, what have been some of the most challenging and most rewarding moments? The biggest challenge in moving to Bath was finding the right office accommodation. We work in an open-plan style to encourage collaborative and enjoyable working, but Bath’s typical office space is located in Georgian town houses with multiple individual rooms which, whilst full of character, don’t meet our way of working. On the other hand, one of the most rewarding aspects is the ability to now walk to projects and meetings. Not only does it mean that we can be on-site or with a client/fellow consultant very quickly and easily without exacerbating harm to the planet, it also contributes to the well-being of our staff, who get the opportunity for a bit of fresh air and exercise in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We also enjoy the many professional networking opportunities that Bath has to offer. We are regulars at the Bath branch of Constructing Excellence South West and the Interact networking group; we also enjoy the lighter side of networking at Circo’s Bath Property Social evenings. For more:




Where the city gets a sweat on From networking breakfasts to invaluable evening courses, make a note of the workshops and classes that will help your business flourish

The walk follows the beautiful canal path through Bath

11 FEBRUARY HOW TO DEVELOP A CULTURE THAT FOSTERS EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT Richard Roberts, people director at Pure Planet, will give a talk for the HR Network all about how to create a culture of positivity in the workplace. The results of a recent survey suggested that as few as 25 per cent of the UK’s workforce consider themselves engaged with their jobs, so it’s an important discussion. 5.30-7pm; £10; Pure Planet;

STEP UP The next Bath Rugby Walk, in aid of Dorothy House Hospice Care and the Bath Rugby Foundation, takes place on 7 March. It all begins at 11am at Dorothy House’s Winsley base and follows the Kennet and Avon Canal to Bath Rugby in the city centre, – where walkers are then invited to enjoy a pie and a drink while watching all the Six Nations action together. “The Bath Rugby Walk is always a highlight of our year, and it’s great seeing so many people walking along the canal path in great spirits,” says Halena Coury, head of fundraising for Bath Rugby Foundation. “The money raised by walkers makes a huge difference to the lives of young people in Bath, many of whom have had the toughest start to

life. The fact that this money is raised by people having a lovely time – with a bit of light exercise thrown in – is a bonus.” It costs £25 to join the walk for adults, £17.50 for students and children aged 12-17. Those entering in large teams of between 12 and 20 people are eligible for some perks, like a private space to watch the Six Nations, or the chance to reserve a box at Bath Rec. “Last year’s walk was a fantastic success, with over 530 walkers getting involved,” says Emily Knight, event fundraiser at Dorothy House. “The funds raised for Dorothy House this year will help us provide patients with specialist palliative and end of life care and support for their families.”

For more:

20 FEBRUARY CREATIVE BATH INSPIRES: ROGER SAUL The founder of Mulberry, Roger Saul is coming to Bath to talk us through his long career, from his beginnings as a trainee buyer for Carnaby Street guru John Michael, to the launch of Mulberry and more recent projects like Charlton House Hotel; 5.30-8pm; Walcot House, prices vary; 25 FEBRUARY CREATING CONTENT FOR DIGITAL MARKETING At a loss for how to up your online presence? Then this is the workshop for you. You’ll learn about the benefits of blogging for business, as well as how you can repurpose content for different platforms. Packed with simple, actionable strategies, it’s perfect for even the most committed technophobe.


Carmelo Lattuca of MHA Monahans


South West-based Marshfield Farm Ice Cream has won a three-year deal with LW Theatres. The family-run organic farmers are now the official suppliers to venues including The London Palladium, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Cambridge Theatre, Adelphy Theatre, Gillian Lynne Theatre, The Other Palace and Her Majesty’s Theatre. “We are incredibly proud to be partnering with LW Theatres as their dedicated ice cream supplier,” says Dawn Hawking, owner of Marshfield Farm. “We want theatre patrons to have the best possible experience when visiting each venue, and our multi award-winning ice cream is already proving very popular.”


Independent chartered accountancy firm MHA Monahans has appointed Carmelo Lattuca as client portfolio manager in their Bath office. Previously of Milsted Langdon, Carmelo will be stepping into a client-centric role with MHA Monahans. “People invest in people, and I believe it is my role to connect with individuals on a level where I’m not just seen as their accountant, but as a trusted business advisor who can add value, be it through an efficient tax saving or helping with a restructure,” says Carmelo. I BATH LIFE I 103



Tim Bunting Tim recently joined Royds Withy King as a conveyancing executive. We met for a chat about his new role So, Tim, how did you get to where you are now? Having completed a business degree at the University of Nottingham, I decided working in law would be a good fit for me, so I completed a conversion course and the necessary vocational training. I worked in London for a few years in well-known law firms, working primarily on premium new build developments. I spent a huge amount of time in East Asia acting for high net worth individuals in Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, to name but a few. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with cancer at 28 and needed to step away from the profession for a year to recover. When I returned, I came to realise that working in London and flying around the world was not what I wanted. I moved to Bath and the rest is history.


Why Bath, in particular? I was drawn to the city as I was familiar with the South West – I’ve got family in Bruton. Working as a London lawyer for so long, I wanted a job that was similar in quality; the UNESCO heritage site of Bath, and all the surrounding historical market towns, provide that. And what drew you to working for Royds Withy King? I wanted to work for a recognised firm that had an excellent reputation. Royds Withy King is the leading firm in Bath and one of the largest in the South West. Having worked on the other side to them on various transactions, I was aware of their quality work and fantastic residential property team. Tell us about your new role with them. What will you be doing for the company? I will be looking to increase the firm’s residential property work in surrounding counties. I will be acting for clients in nearby market towns to Bath, extending all the way to Newbury, Cirencester and Malmesbury. I want to bring the quality and excellence of the firm to markets that may have thought our reach didn’t quite extend that far, but who want great quality conveyancing lawyers.

What are you most excited about for your new job? The thing I enjoy most about conveyancing has always been meeting new clients. Buying or selling a house can be a stressful occasion due to emotions and life changing circumstances. I enjoy operating within that context in order to make moving to a new house as enjoyable and exciting as possible. What are some of the biggest challenges about working in residential property? Property transactions are charged with emotion, and the reasons for selling a house aren’t always positive. Tight timeframes can be like adding fuel to fire. Keeping clients calm when everything seems to be going wrong for them has presented some challenging moments. What about Brexit? How much is that affecting things? It started to have an effect in late 2019, as the deadline to leave approached and people were waiting to see what happened. The same applied to the general election. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy; people wouldn’t move house because they were worried about the market but, as people didn’t move, it affected

the market. Certainty is a large factor in any transaction, and property transactions are no different. With certainty comes growth. I suspect that with the uncertainty surrounding the economy when the UK leaves the EU, the property market will move forward but perhaps not as much as homeowners would hope. However, it should make getting on the property ladder a little bit easier, as the market won’t be running away from people while they are trying to save deposits like it has in previous years. What do you feel are some of the biggest misconceptions about your profession? I think the biggest one is that lawyers don’t care about their clients, and are only in it for the fee. I can speak from personal experience that I, and a lot of my previous colleagues, get personally attached to transactions and are genuinely affected when it doesn’t go as smoothly as everyone hoped. When I act for clients, I want them to know I care and that they are not just another file on my desk. That trust is invaluable when dealing with what can be such an emotional purchase. Finally, what about outside of work? What do you like to get up to on your days off? As I have two young daughters, the concept of a ‘day off’ has greatly changed over the years. Any time spent with them is time well spent, of course, but it is often far from relaxing! Other than that, I am currently training for an Ironman Triathlon.

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Are the waters calming for apartment sales in 2020?


Peter Greatorex from THE APARTMENT COMPANY predicts a rise in confidence amongst homeowners this year

s we are racing into this new year, the newly elected majority government has given a sense of certainty. Rightmove have recently released their predictions for the price of property in Britain next year, so are the waters calming for apartments in 2020? Across Bath we have slowly seen the confidence of homeowners decrease with the political uncertainty, but as we look to the months ahead, Rightmove predicts a 2 per cent rise in property prices. Commenting, Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst said, “The greater certainty afforded by a majority government gives an opportunity for a more active spring moving season, with some release of several years of pent-up demand.” As we know, this is an overall view and there

are bound to be regional variations, therefore a more modest 1 per cent rise in the price of property is expected in Bath. Demand has been resilient despite the outlook over the last year or two, but supply has been outstripped. The number of properties coming onto the market has been extremely low, but we have started to see the tide turning this last week or so, with a rise in the number of enquiries of those looking to move home this year. The number of properties coming onto the market is also expected to increase in the forthcoming months, but it may not make up for all the lost ground. With demand for apartments across the city still high, we anticipate that demand will continue to outstrip supply during the months ahead. 2020 could be an exciting time in the Bath property market, and we can’t wait to see what it brings for all our clients, whether they

are first-time buyers, experienced sellers, or those looking to invest. Our expertise in the niche sector of Bath’s apartment market puts us at an advantage, as we’re able to give you an honest and specific insight into how your property will perform and when may be the right time to move. If you’re curious about what this year could bring for your home-moving plans, call The Apartment Company on 01224 471155. n

For more advice visit our blog at Sales: 01225 471144 Lettings: 01225 303870


O PIONEERS! Fancy the frontier lifestyle (by which we really mean ‘live on a farm’), but with all the home comforts? Then you’re doubly in luck… By Clarissa Picot


The mighty Longs Barn; The even mightier Mount Pleasant Farm; which one is a bit of you?



There’s glass and light everywhere at Longs Farm, even underfoot as you wander upstairs…


n Willa Cather’s famous novel of Nebraskan farmers struggling to survive on the Great Plains, O Pioneers!, plucky heroine Alexandra Bergson saves the family hogs, finds her brother murdered by a jealous husband, and dreams of a powerful, god-like man who carries her over the fields; the guy she marries, though, is actually her childhood friend. There’s always some romance to living on a farm, but these days little actual hardship is required; as proof, take this pair of uber-modern and up-to-date farm houses in neighbouring villages, Upper South Wraxall and Lower South Wraxall, just north of Bradford on Avon and east of Bath. They’re at quite different prices, and offer very different amounts of land – hey, how much do you want to be an actual farmer, rather than just live in a farm house? – but their appeal is quite similar: lots of space, thick stone walls, and the joy of existing cheek-by-jowl with nature, yet within striking distance of the city.


Take the cheaper of the pair, Longs Barn, a 400-yearold gaff that’s been imaginatively transformed into an amazing semi-contemporary home, mixing the traditional – exposed Cotswold stone, mighty oak beams, period details everywhere – with the 21st century in most winning fashion. Key to it all is how much natural light is encouraged to flood in through skylights, vast rows of glass doors and the cool transparent mezzanine that gives access to the upstairs bedrooms. Here a vast, open-plan kitchen/dining room/living room runs almost 46 feet under one of those high, pointy barn-conversion style ceilings, while there’s a large entrance hall, a utility room, a family loo/ shower room and two bedrooms downstairs too, one of them 17ft by 15ft with an en suite. Upstairs you’ll find a master bedroom with another en suite, a double bedroom and a family bathroom too, while outside there are decent sized lawns, a gravel driveway with parking for several cars, and a large paved terrace

HOUSE NUMBERS LONGS BARN, LOWER SOUTH WRAXALL Open plan kitchen/dining room/living room 46ft x 19ft Bedrooms 4 Outside Gardens, drive, terrace, BBQ hut Price


Knight Frank, 4 Wood Street, Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2JQ; 01225 325999;



Cosy and rustic – yet Mount Pleasant Farm has plenty of space for the hogs

with a BBQ hut that promises amazing summer-time entertainment possibilities. Your new local pub? It’s only The Longs Arms, one of the area’s best. BUT WHAT IF that doesn’t sound big enough for you? Step forward the mighty 17th century Mount Pleasant Farm, just a short saunter away. Yes, this one’s twice the price, but for that you get lots more room – an extra bedroom, plus garages and workshop – and a rather more traditional L-shaped layout, with all five bedrooms upstairs and separate drawing rooms, living rooms, dining rooms and libraries downstairs. Since they’re all of generous size, and some – like the kitchen and dining room – flow into each other, this is a better space for a larger family to put a little distance between each other occasionally, not least as there’s planning permission to convert one of the barns into a useful twobedroom annex.

Relatively low ceilings make it all very cosy inside, while outside are almost 10 acres, including lawns, a vegetable plot, a small paddock and one massive field. Which one would prairie pioneer Alexandra Bergson go for? Probably Mount Pleasant Farm (she’d need room for all her hogs, and would find the rooms easier to heat on her cold, lonely winters), but then you’re probably not a “splendid Swedish girl, who dares and achieves” – as it memorably said on the cover of O Pioneers! 1913 first edition – remember. All you need do is travel the seven miles to Bath (or three to Bradford) for comforts and entertainments Willa Cather could only dream of. (We’re lying, of course: Cather mostly lived in flapper-era New York. She might have written about the romance of the frontier, but she ran away from that life’s hardships as fast as she could. And now, with one of this pair, you too could enjoy her take-the-best-bitsand-leave-the-rest approach to country living.)

HOUSE NUMBERS MOUNT PLEASANT FARM, UPPER SOUTH WRAXALL Reception rooms 4 Bedrooms 5 Outside 9.52 acres of fields, barns, gardens and paddock Price


Knight Frank, 4 Wood Street, Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2JQ; 01225 325999; I BATH LIFE I 113


“50 per cent of them died that winter” The polarisation of politics and culture that’s affecting life

on both sides of the Atlantic was one of the triggers to writing my latest book, Trump and the Puritans (Biteback, 2020). What factors are driving some of the extreme views that are around in 2020? If we don’t understand each other, it is harder to talk to each other – and then reconciliation becomes difficult to achieve. All in all, I’ve now written 49 books, including secondary school

MARTYN WHITTOCK The local writer on the history all around us, the shocking bravery of the Puritans – and how their lives and beliefs echo down the centuries I spent 35 years as a secondary school history teacher,

retiring in 2016 to give more time to writing; since then I’ve had four books published. I’m also a licensed lay minister at St Thomas’ church in Trowbridge. I was born in Keynsham, went to Bristol University, and have lived in Bradford on Avon since 1992, so most of my life has been spent in the valley of the Avon. It makes me feel very rooted. There are lots of other lovely places, and I have lived in some of them, but it is the sense of continuity here that means a lot to me.

I live on the south side of BoA, near the canal; there’s something

about being beside water which makes you feel on holiday, even when you’re not! A stroll out to Avoncliff, maybe a drink at the


Cross Guns or a tea shop, and then back along the river is a pleasure. BoA is a lovely town with lots of history and hidden places. I also like how varied it is: the steep north side of the river cliff, and the town itself with its great variety of shops, pubs and restaurants. It could do with less traffic – but the days of plans to bypass the town seem long over. I also love Bath. It’s the city we come to shop in and stroll round.

I’m a big fan of Southgate and can remember how uninspiring and down-at-heel that area used to be; as a kid I often used the old bus station, and it was not a pleasant experience. As a historian I am, of course, fascinated by Bath’s Roman past, and I enjoy exploring the bits and pieces of medieval history that still hide within the Georgian city.

textbooks, on subjects ranging from the Romans to Hitler and Stalin. I got into this as a young teacher, and did most of my writing in the school holidays. Although I’ve written on a range of subjects, I have three (very different!) main areas of interest: Anglo-Saxons and Vikings; radicals and revolutionaries of the 17th century British Civil Wars; and Soviet Russia. I first got into the remarkable and controversial Puritans

while at Bristol University. I was fascinated by how their religious faith led to radical politics; including some shocking actions too, of course. I also have a personal interest. Researching my family in north-east Somerset, I discovered that two were accused of being for ‘rebellion’ and ‘riot’ during the Monmouth Rebellion (1685), the last uprising of the self-identified ‘godly’ in England. Another, Gustaphus Adolphus Whittock, was named after the Swedish Protestant hero of the Thirty Years War (1618-48) who was greatly admired among the so-called ‘saints’. I felt very connected to the world of the 17th century, and trying to understand it. It was from this interest that I wrote When God Was King (Lion

Hudson, 2018), Mayflower Lives (Pegasus, 2019) and – with the journalist James Roberts – Trump and the Puritans. What is surprising is that these people were not boring kill-joys, but passionate idealists who really thought it was their mission to change the

world. Now, we might not approve of lots of their outlook – but one cannot help but be impressed by their energy and idealism. What is remarkable is how things come around. In 2019 we

saw conflict between the executive and Parliament that had echoes of events in the 1640s – but without the fighting, I am glad to say! Even more so in the USA, we see a modern state which is deeply influenced by its 17th century roots. Puritan politics has certainly not finished with the USA. Trump and the Puritans looks at the deep story which helps explain the solid support for him from among the evangelical right in the US. It is a fascinating story and, because the USA is so important, impacts on all of our lives.

Working on this book has once more reminded me that what

draws me into history are the people. Ultimately it’s all ‘hisstory’ and ‘her-story’. Working on Mayflower Lives, I was, at times, variously amazed, saddened, amused and impressed by the people who got on a ship that had never crossed the Atlantic before, arrived in time for a New England winter and created homes in a new world. And it’s shocking too, since 50 per cent of them died that first winter. And yet, come the spring, they bravely got on with it. And there is humour too, despite the traumas. That takes guts… and faith. Talking about the book on

Adam Boulton’s All Out Politics show on Sky News was fun but scary – as it goes out live, there was no room for mistakes. Then, in May, I’m speaking about Mayflower Lives at the Historical Association Conference in Bristol. History is engaging, challenging and thoughtprovoking – and I’d encourage more people to get more involved with it. ■ Trump and the Puritans (Biteback, £20) is available now; www.

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