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Forest Life The lifestyle magazine of The National Forest

Forest School has got children thinking green and keen to learn To some a crumbled relic, Ashby Castle’s past is more intriguing than you may think Burton has a new home for contemporary art right at its heart


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Forest Life Editor George Dove Assistant Editor Mike Trott Contributors George Matthews, Jo Brown, Ephrat Livni, Suzanne Hind, Ian Hewitt, Dominic Stoney, Jeanette Dickson, Samantha Lyster and Stephen J Morgan

THE EDITOR’S LETTER Picture a forest in your head. For many people that image will comprise of luscious greens and clear blue skies. But by the time this issue of Forest Life is with you the leaves will already be shades of gold, brown and amber. Then, just in time for winter, they will have fallen to cosset the forest floors instead of the ceiling. The skies will often be paler, and they’ll wrap us in nightfall sooner and sooner.

Design David Stoney LH Design Services Group Editor Alan Kidd Advertising Executive Abigail Cooper Tel: 01283 553246 Advertising Sales Manager Colin Ashworth Tel: 01283 553244

For many, this is reason enough to remain indoors, only venturing outside when necessity dictates. When it’s cold and dark, I won’t blame anyone for this, as a cosy night in certainly has its own perks. But don’t get sucked into wasting your downtime, horizontal on the sofa and watching rubbish telly merely because it’s on.

Group Advertising Manager Ian Argent Tel: 01283 553242

Many forest dwellers hibernate, but by no means does that suggest that the woodlands are asleep. Yes, it is going to get colder and darker and probably a bit wetter too – although given recent rainfall I sincerely hope not. But, unless waterlogged, there’s joy to be had in donning extra knitwear and immersing yourself with nature. A walk with loved ones with crisp leaves or snow on the ground reignites a warmth inside that, in many cases, is reminiscent of childhood. If you peel them away from their iSlabs and tablets, this tradition will carry on for at least another generation and they’ll soon forgive you and enjoy themselves.

Publisher Sarah Moss Email: sarah.moss @assignment-media.co.uk Founder David Stoney Every effort is made to ensure that the contents of Forest Life are accurate, however Assignment Media Ltd accepts no responsibility for errors or omissions nor the consequences of actions made as a result of these.

But so rich is the National Forest, that the towns and villages across the region have plenty to offer, too. Within the pages of this issue we hope to provide you with enough reason to brave the elements and appreciate what the National Forest still has to offer, alongside a few ideas for Christmas gifts and family-friendly festivities. Whether you’re interested in food, local landmarks or the arts, we’ve got you covered.

When responding to any advert in Forest Life, you should make appropriate enquiries before sending money or entering into a contract. The publishers take reasonable care to ensure advertisers’ probity, but will not be liable for any losses incurred as a result of responding to adverts Forest Life is distributed by Self Select Distribution Where a photo credit includes the note CC-BY-SA, the image is made available under that Creative Commons licence. Details are available at www.creativecommons.org Cover Photo: “December Robin” by Brian Fuller @ Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 Forest Life is published by Assignment Media Ltd, Repton House, Bretby Business Park, Ashby Road, Bretby DE15 0YZ © 2019 Assignment Media Ltd ISSN 2633-1977 (Print) ISSN 2633-1985 (Online)

Rest assured, within the pages of Issue 5 you’ll find plenty to do across the Forest, places to go and reason to get out and appreciate it.

George Dove 5% of the profits of each issue of Forest Life are donated to I Can in honour of David Stoney – whose vision brought this publication to life.

Editor, Forest Life


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INSIDE ISSUE 5

Contents

4

What’s on this Winter

8

Castles of the Forest: Ashby de la Zouch

12

Taking the Bull by the Horns

16

A Few Festive Ideas

18

Edge Hill’s Forest School

22

National Brewery Centre’s New Escape Room

24

Fragile Centre for Contemporary Arts

28

Is Vicose Vicious?

30

Toyota RAV4 Review

34

Canal & River Trust Winter Makeover

35

A Look Inside Allen Brown Jewellery

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THERE’S NO NEED TO HIBERNATE… 16th November: Sounds of Simon When you think of Conkers, you think of letting the kids loose, beautiful natural surroundings, adventure and above all fun. You might not get all of those things on the evening of the 16th November, though, as Conkers’ Discovery Centre plays host to The Sounds of Simon – a full tribute band act to Simon and Garfunkel. On the Saturday night doors open at 6.30pm, 45 minutes before The Maz Mitrenko Band kicks the evening off in style, opening for the main event that will include all of the famous duo’s biggest hits. Tickets for the evening are priced at £22.50 and can be booked either online or by calling 01283 216633. As of 2019, the Watersedge Café will be serving a full range of drinks and snacks, whilst there will be a licensed bar throughout the evening, whilst the Gallery Restaurant will also be serving a two-course buffet. Spaces are limited, so Simon and Garfunkel fans should act quickly or be at risk of missing out.

20th November: Peter Chand – Dark Tales from India One of the Brewhouse’s Storytelling Nights for Grown Ups, this particular instalment is brought to you by British Indian storyteller Peter Chand. He will be telling stories that vary from dark and disturbing to erotic in nature.

Suitable only for an adult audience, Chand’s stories include a mixture of folktales and mythology. Learn of the damaging secret lurking in the Tamarind Grove; the gruesome curse placed on the mighty Lord Indra and how the goddess Kali is changed by the hunger of her poor stepdaughter. This wonderful evening is a ticketed event, with entry costing £7.50 and doors opening at 7.30pm. Full information can be found at brewhouse.co.uk, where you can also book your tickets.

23rd Nov – 24th Dec: North Pole Adventure The National Forest Adventure Farm is a year-round attraction for young families, but come late November and this venue is transformed into a winter wonderland. We all know that kids love Santa Claus, and on the Adventure Farm’s North Pole Adventure they will travel through time, meet festive characters and travel through a magic portal before meeting the big man himself. After journeying through the portal and to the North Pole, intrepid explorers will pass through a Victorian high street, help the elves get organised at the post office, see the Northern Lights and meet a talking polar bear, have a singalong with Silvermist the resident reindeer and then lend a


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hand to Mother Christmas in the kitchen with the festive treats. Then, of course, they will meet Father Christmas himself, where he will present a gift to round off the whimsical outing. Expected to prove popular as ever, the North Pole Adventure will be running on weekends from the 23rd of November through until Christmas weekend, when it will also be open on the 23rd and on Christmas Eve. Prices vary depending on age group with tickets available online until midnight the day of the visit – thereafter tickets are only available on the door. For more information and to book a place, all the information you need can be found at adventurefarm.co.uk/ northpoleadventure.

29th November: Firkin Comedy Club Everybody loves a laugh, right? Right. The folks at the National Brewery Centre are putting on an event that combines that with a few of mankind’s favourite things – booze and food. The evening will be compered by Yazz Fetto – a comedic writer, producer and stand-up who has works in development with BBC Radio and TV, as well as with Sky. Opening proceedings will be awardwinning Welsh comedian Matt Rees, known for his mordant delivery and his unique brand of ingenious jokes. Chelsea Birkby, who admit to letting the dogs out, will follow on and show why she was the Oxford Time’s Funny Women “One to Watch”, before David Tsonos closes the night with his quest to continue making people laugh until, erm, ‘Aliens with no sense of humour take over Earth’…

With tickets at just £10 each, plus the option of dinner at your table, the Firkin Comedy Club is as great value as it is a guaranteed hoot. Doors open at 7.30pm and you can secure your attendance on the National Brewery Centre’s website.

29th Nov – 1st Dec: Victorian Christmas Fayre To help everyone get into the Christmas spirit early, the Melton Mowbray Victorian Christmas Fayre will take over the town centre for three whole days, with the local switching on of the lights part of the spectacle. The event will kick off with a firework display on the Friday evening at 6.45pm with the fayre itself consisting of local food producers, artisanal craft stalls, vibrant street food, plus a full repertoire of street entertainment. Festive events will be taking place in the local churches, whilst Melton Mowbray Market will be packed with special offers from the independent caterers, hostelries and retailers from all over the town. There are spaces available for interested traders, who should contact merakimarketsandevents @outlook.com – and all other information for the festival can be found at meltonmowbraychristmas weekend.co.uk or on the event’s Facebook page.

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4th December: The P Word – Roy McFarlane and Liz Lefroy On this Wednesday evening, Gary Carr will be hosting The P Word, this time with accomplished poets Roy McFarlane and Liz Lefroy taking part. A former Birmingham Poet Laureate and current Birmingham and Midland Institute Poet in Residence, there is no doubting Roy’s credentials. No surprise, then, that his most recent collection The Healing Next Time was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Winter 2018. Liz has gravitas, too, having read on Carol Ann Duffy’s 2016 tour, and also winning the Café Writers Prize the same year and was also runner up in the 2017 Wigtown Poetry Competition. Again, details of the event can be found on the Brewhouse Performing Arts Centre website, where you can also purchase tickets priced at £7 each. “Ballet Shoes” by Kryziz Bonny @ Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0

7th December: Stephanie Parrott School of Dance – A Christmas Carol One of the most iconic Christmas stories of all time is brought to life by the Stephanie Parrott School of Dance when they perform A Christmas Carol at the Brewhouse Arts Centre. At the Shobnall Community Centre, Stephanie teaches dancers from the ages of two and up, to the standards of the Royal Academy of Dance and the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance, plus GCSE and A Level syllabuses, too. With two performances on Saturday 7th December – a matinee

at 2.30pm and an evening show at 7.30pm – Stephanie and her dancers will bring a fun show that includes dancing turkeys, ghosts and is wholly entertaining! To book tickets for either performance head to the Brewhouse’s website, and for more information on dancing tuition visit stephanieparrott.co.uk.

14th December: Annie Jr In the main auditorium, Stagescreen students will present both a matinee and evening performance of Annie Jnr. From a Tony award-winning book and score, the production includes the classic songs, It’s A Hard-Knock Life, Easy Street, I Don’t Need Anything But You and Tomorrow. You can bet your bottom dollar that this performance will be one to remember! Full event details and ticketing can be found at brewhouse.co.uk, or you can call the box office on 01283 508 100.

11th – 20th December: Illuminated Arboretum Within the grounds of the National Memorial Arboretum you will find copious natural beauty all year round. But for just over a week it will be enhanced by a swathe of captivating illuminations that show the memorials and wildlife in a different light. Not only will there be beautiful lighting, but other attractions will include the Semaphore Man, floating speech bubbles, plus a thread-led journey to discover the Votive Woods and Beacons of Light. The Illuminated Arboretum seeks to offer an immersive sensory experience alongside its moving tributes of remembrance. Only put on for these ten days, it is wise to book tickets in advance to avoid disappointment. Pre-booked tickets cost £12.50, whilst on the price will be £14 for adults. Tickets for children over the age of six are £7.50 and £8 respectively, whilst family tickets and discounts for NMA members are available.


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“Kedleston Hall” by David Nicholls @ Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0

that the Garden and Outdoors Manager at Kedleston Hall will be leading a walk around the gardens and parklands within the grounds is an opportunity for all to enjoy. Along the way, he will share with you an insight into the history of your settings along with the future plans and hopes for the landscape.

12th & 19th December: Supper with Father Christmas Not long before his busiest (and only) working period of the year, Father Christmas is making the time to pay a visit to Kedleston Hall. In the great kitchen, when all are enjoying a pie supper, Father Christmas will drop by to say hello, spend some time with the younger guests, handing out presents and taking photographs. Mr Claus has worked two dates into his diary, both of which will run between 4.30 and 6pm. Whichever session is attended it is recommended that visitors dress warmly, as it can get be cold in the great kitchen. Booking of tickets is simple, contact 01332 842191 and choose from the available timeslots. The hall is accessible for all, and all children must be accompanied by an adult. Full details can be found on the National Trust website.

15th December: Forgotten Queen: Lady Jane Grey talk Bosworth Battlefield played a part in shaping the Britain we all live in today (but don’t hold the ‘B’ word against it). It’s an appropriate

location then for an evening shining a light on one of the most interesting monarchs our realm has ever seen upon the throne. Not only is this talk on Lady Jane Grey held in a historic location, but it is being led by an author and historian in Harry J. Tomkinson, who is not only very well regarded, but has also written a book on the goings on at this very site – Treachery at Bosworth Field 1485. Harry’s talk will take place in The Heritage Room and will go into the details of how and why the Forgotten Queen was used as a pawn in the political Tudor landscape. Booking is essential for this hourlong talk – which will begin at 2.30pm – with tickets priced at £6. They can be picked up from the ticket office onsite, ordered online at bosworthbattlefield.org.uk or by calling 01455 290429 and booking over the phone.

26th & 27th December: Boxing Day Walk For many, one of the finer things to do in winter is to wrap up and embrace the freshness on a wintry walk. And numerous families traditionally take up this activity as a Boxing Day ritual, so the news

The walk will cover four miles, so it is advised that suitable footwear and clothing is worn by all – it is also worth noting that the route is planned with adults and older children in mind. Interested walkers will need to book on the tour in advance, which costs no extra over admission into the grounds. To reserve a place call 01332 842191 in advance, but if you prefer there is also an identical walk taking place the following day on the 27th, too.

27th-30th December: Scrooge: A Christmas Panto Is it even really Christmas if the family doesn’t take in a pantomime? Don’t worry, because Conkers have you covered on this one. Every day between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve a cast of professional actors are putting on a show. With singing and dancing and the whole family encouraged to join in and sing along. But, what will they be performing? Only Scrooge: A Christmas Panto! Some say that no other pantomime has such a valuable life lesson at its core, others just say that the story of grumpy old Ebenezer Scrooge is simply one of the best. Either way, the tale is told in its entirety, with a merriment throughout this beautifully rounded performance. It will be performed each of the four days in the Discovery Hall and is accessible with no added charge to your general admittance.

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CASTLES OF THE FOREST: ASHBY DE LA ZOUCH CASTLE I had long known of Ashby de la Zouch Castle, but this was my first visit. I knew nothing in advance about its history – other than that there was a ruined tower that could be climbed. In fact, I’d never even been to Ashby at all. Words and pictures by Jeanette Dickson

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For those who have not visited, the market town of Ashby de la Zouch is a picturesque setting, with high street butcher and greengrocer and boutiques giving it a traditional charm. Ashby Castle itself is accessed via a short lane past the Lawn Tennis Club, but it is worth noting here that the carpark is for disabled visitors only. But, those without a Blue Badge can find free parking on

nearby residential streets without too much difficulty, or there are several Pay and Display carparks nearby. Entry is via the gift shop and is free with English Heritage membership. But let’s move on to the history of the castle. There was a manor recorded at “Aschebie” in the Doomsday Book, and sometime around then the manor and surrounding areas were gifted to a family with the name de Zouch. But in its heyday, the land belonged to William Hastings, who turned it into a far grander estate. He enclosed 3000 acres and eventually came to build on the existing dwellings to create the tower and walls which we can see the ruins of today. Boards dotted around the site outline some of the history of the castle, and they focus heavily on

the Civil War period which is when much of the large tower became ruined. Following the surrender of the Earl of Huntingdon in 1646, the castle was used as a prison for a short while before being destroyed to prevent it being used defensively in battle. From that point, the tower became unusable. While the staircase can safely be climbed, all of the rooms which where once part of the tower disappeared entirely. Parts of the site remained lived in until 1789 however, until the death of Francis, the last Earl of Huntingdon. It is recorded that Ashby de la Zouch Castle became a tourist attraction only after it featured in a scene in Ivanhoe, a classic novel by Sir Walter Scott. The owner of the site, Lord Moira, began some repairs and pushed to establish the site as a place of literary interest.


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What interested me most about the site, however, was not actually the recorded history of the Castle, wandering through the damp cellar, or climbing the banks that are thought to have formed part of decorative gardens in times gone by. I was piqued instead by the layers of history which build up in a place after history has stopped being actively recorded there. Many tourist attractions of this type focus on one aspect or era of the history, in this case, the Civil War.

But what about everything that has gone on after that? While climbing the steep spiral staircase of the Kitchen Tower I was at first saddened to notice graffiti lining the walls. I tutted, drawing parallels to teenage boys drawing on tables in classrooms. Hearts enclosed pairs of initials, with Cupid’s arrow, and I wondered if any of the couples still knew each other. Then I quickly began to notice the more elaborate styles, many of them dated.


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Some were scratched onto the stone, possibly with a piece of rock. Fewer were drawn on with a marker pen. Then there were those which had survived up to 150 years. These examples were engraved deeply in a copperplate style, with initial and surname and some with a date. Climbing to the top of the tower, my son and I then played a game where we spied the oldest and newest. I felt it best not to photograph the very newest, as the culprit had

used their full name. But it had been done this year, unskilfully scribbled with a sharp rock. The oldest was beautifully carved, in what appears to be 1858. It is generally the organisation responsible for upkeep of the site, such as English Heritage, who decides which part of the history of an estate to tell. At Ashby, visitors learn a little about the heyday of the building, what each part was used for and a lot about its Civil War downfall. Yet the graffiti, to me at least, poignantly portrays the way in which the history of a place continues long after it is not in active use. The families who lived and served in the castle are long gone, and yet the buildings withstand the passage of time. Once, the Kitchen

Tower would have been full of the bustle of castle life. Now, at night, when the grounds are locked up and empty, the people who have added their names to the walls have recorded their own bit of history long after the castle’s deliberate ruination. Ashby de la Zouch may be a modern little town, but in its walls the castle still holds on to its own history. Ashby de la Zouch castle is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am until 5pm. Adult entry starts at £6.20, with concessionary prices available too. Castle access is via grassy lawns and there are steep steps to some areas which mean that accessibility is limited. It is a very short walk from the town centre with cafes and shops and is a worthy day out.

Ashby de la Zouch Castle was the first site visited in a new Castles of the Forest series. Next month, Jeanette visits Tutbury Castle

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TAKING THE BULL BY THE HORNS The Bulls Head in Repton is a bit of a local celebrity. It’s famous stone baked pizzas, hefty burgers and Yakitori sticks attract diners from far and wide, with many willing to travel a distance that suggests there is much more on offer than run of the mill pub food. Words by George Dove

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You just need to speak to anyone who has eaten there and it soon becomes apparent that, even though the name is one shared with pubs all over the country, the dining experience has a lot more about it. Despite never having been myself, I had only heard glowing praise from those who had so, believe it or not, I was entering with high expectations. Stepping through the door, you find yourself in a charmingly familiar British pub setting. A central bar with a few raised seats, then dining tables and sofas spread about the rest of the floor space – with a couple of fireplaces thrown in for good measure, too. It’s done with aplomb, though, with tastefully exposed brickwork and ornate logos upon the walls and the stone pizza oven on view in the corner.

There’s a reassuring heft to the wooden covered menus, then even more comfort when after only the briefest of glances you already know you’re facing a tough decision. Pages upon pages of food that would all be worthy choices sit before you, with dozens of options spread across gargantuan yakitori sticks, finessed burgers, steaks, ginormous pizzas and a plethora of mouth-watering sides, too. Then there is, of course, the tantalizing drinks list of both soft and alcoholic that is as wide as you’re likely to see. But before too long decisions were made and we’d be sampling a somewhat known quantity alongside something a little different. Before long the appetizer was sat on the table between us. A sharing option, the nachos were served in china bowl and were portioned ideally for two, generously lathered in a rich salsa, sour cream and guacamole combo. They were also melded together by the most satisfying state of cheese known to man – melted and stringy. A nice, relaxed starter and one that was delightfully tactile.


Forest Life Then it was the turn of the mains. Let’s start with the stalwart. The Smokey Cheese Burger. Beef patties grilled to perfection and dressed in a brioche bun with smoked cheese, rashers bacon, pungent and sweet barbecue sauce and crisp, fresh lettuce with a mug of fries – plus halloumi fries. It’s a sizeable affair, especially as the halloumi fries didn’t replace those of traditional potato variety, which were pleasantly light and crispy. As expected,

the halloumi fries were great – like many places it is a case of not ruining the halloumi as much as it is doing them well. With their simple dips of sour cream and salsa, they were a winner. The burger itself is one that a cautious eater may want to cut in half for safety. But it’s one that is crafted with poise and quality ingredients, executed to a standard that those who feel bad for always choosing a burger will find justification. Once finished, a sigh of “That hit the spot” followed.

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The other main opted for was an open steak sandwich with feisty peppercorn sauce, onions and of course, a mug of those crispy chips. Strewn with endless peppercorns, the intense sauce was sharp and aromatic throughout and more than adequately complimented the finecut tender steak. But, surprisingly, what stole the show on the plate was the loaf on which everything sat. Dense, doughy and undeniably fresh, it was astounding – especially in dealing with the last of the sauce.

It is plain to see why the Bulls Head garners so many admirers. It has a blend of approachability and finesse that results in a feelgood dining experience. The food is both presented and prepared with great care, and it is tasty enough that if a fuddy-duddy diner moans about chips in a mug they’re merely being facetious. There may also be a few initial murmurs about the price, but they’ll be quiet. Then they’ll only be heard by dogs once you see the generosity of the portion sizes – all in all, it is commendable value.

Now came a pivotal moment – do we reach for the dessert menu? We did. But it was swiftly put back. Not out of a lack of professionalism, but gluttonous intent. Choices were yet again that strong that in the post meal lull, making another big choice felt like a step too far. But the span of gelato, chocolatey contenders, dessert classics and the innovative Pizza Jenga did run us close. But appetites had already been truly satisfied and towards the end of the mains the pace had dropped off, so we were certainly content diners. A positive was taken from it, though, as it left cause to return and shift the two-course agenda on a stage.

Arriving a short ten minutes after the food service began, we were surprised at the number of diners already in place on a weekday – there were even a few in position on the barstools, too. Having witnessed just the smallest portion of the menu it comes as no surprise. That which we had was of a standard that you’d trust in the menu no matter what you choose. But, by the time this early lunch had come to an end, both the carpark and the restaurant were approaching capacity – and we didn’t visit at a peak time. If you’re thinking of having a family meal, celebration or whatever at the Bulls Head, we’d recommend booking as highly as we’d recommend going in the first place.


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The Bulls Head 84 high Street Repton, Derby, DE65 6GF 01283 704422 bookings@chilledpubs.co.uk

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A FEW FESTIVE IDEAS If you’re reading this magazine, you’re plainly aware of the National Forest, whether you’re visiting the area or are a native. For many outdoorsy types, a wintry walk is a favourite pastime – and with the National Forest at your disposal, why wouldn’t you make the most of it? It’s easy enough to head out to one of the numerous parks or green spaces, but for those of you who want to really explore and see the real National Forest, this may well be of interest. The National Forest OS Explorer Map 245 is the definitive map of the area. Working on a 1:25 000 scale, the ground covered includes

Christmas is a time of giving and sharing, and there are few things comparable to seeing your loved ones receive that something special. And this bangle and ring pairing from Allen Brown is most certainly something special. Both made with a combination of silver and 18ct gold, the delicately weaved pieces are perfect for both

the areas around Burton upon Trent, Swadlincote, Ashby de la Zouch and Coalville. Available in both standard paper versions and the coated weatherproof Active version, this will enable you to take on walks such as the Ivanhoe Way, the Leicestershire Round and The Way for the Millennium. Plus, being 2019 and all, the maps include a digital download code for use on iOS or Android tablets or smartphones. So, if you fancy taking that boxing day walk up a notch, or just know an avid walker native to the area, you know what you need. www.ordinancesurvey.co.uk

casual use and formal events. Plus, coming from Allen Brown’s gallery, you can trust that it finished to the highest standard. Available at the gallery – which you can read about on page 33 – the bangle is priced at £420 whilst the ring is available from £240.

Gin has been proving evergreen over the last few years, but this limited-edition seasonal rendition from Tarquin’s is certainly a game changer. This is Tarquin’s Figgy Pudding Gin. Taking the brand’s Cornish Dry Gin as a base, the festivities begin with the addition of dried fig, followed by clementine zest and brandysoaked cherry wood. The result is a lavish gin with a rich nose of dried fruit, eastern spice and candied clementine. A toasted spice flavour, with aromatic juniper and a ripe fig element combine for a strong flavour, culminating in a wintry festive warmth that really set this gin apart. This splendid bottle of gin, like so many other speciality alcohol products, are available from Doctor’s Orders – an independent bottle dispensary set in the heart of the English countryside on the outskirts of Lichfield.

www.allenbrownjewellery.co.uk

www.doctors-orders.co.uk


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HERITAGE BREWING COMPANY:

COMPETITION Festive Beer Giveaway

The Heritage Brewing Company are giving away some of their delicious festive triple packs to five lucky readers of Forest Life! These triple sets each include bottles of It’s a Cracker, Fireside Ale and the classic Heritage Gold – with the packs retailing at £12 each in the National Brewery Centre’s beer boutique. With hints of hedgerow nuts and a slight smokiness to its flavour, It’s a Cracker is a 4.4% mahogany bitter that is perfectly suited to anything festive – be it a casual gathering, a Christmas party or a night in with the family, this is the drink to get you in the spirit. A little stronger at 4.9%, the Fireside Ale is ideal for combatting the coldest and most wintry of days. The smooth dark ale is warming and has a joyously malty toffee flavour with a hint of coffee, too. Finishing off the trio is Heritage Gold, an easy to drink blonde beer from the company’s core range of ales, that is 4.8% and has a refreshing and malty palate. All of these beers are brewed by the Heritage Brewing Company at their brewery within the National Brewery Centre. Made using the same expertise and local ingredients, all of the beers are brewed on site, using the famous Burton on Trent well water that formed the foundations of Burton’s beer empire. HOW TO ENTER: To be in with a chance of winning a free trio of astounding, locally brewed and bottled beers, send your delivery address to enquiries@assignmentmedia.co.uk with the subject line ‘Festive Beer Giveaway’. Send your entry in by the 13th of December, after which winners will be picked at random and receive their beers in time for Christmas.

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FOREST SCHOOLS: EDGE HILL JUNIOR In recent times, less and less children have relished the chance to spend time in the great outdoors – a trend that goes hand-in-hand with increasing numbers of young ones living lives dominated by screens. But, thanks to a fantastic initiative at the heart of the National Forest, there is now more encouragement than ever to connect with nature – and learn from these experiences, too.ll. Words by George Dove, pictures by Mark Lloyd and Sally Hall

F “On our first day, this whole area was overgrown and about six-feet high. We had a week to go until our first lesson – but we managed to get it ready!”

Forest Schools might be a mystery to many of you reading this, but believe it or not, their earliest forms in the UK date back to the Nineties. Outside of Britain, the origins can be found much further back, and despite taking influences from the founder of the Scouts, Baden Powell, and philosophers from the UK and Europe much earlier in the 20th Century, the UK movement gained momentum after nursery nurses from a school in Somerset visited Denmark to witness their pre-school setup. That visit in 1993 planted the seed in home soil, with numerous Forest Schools popping up around the country.

At Edge Hill Junior School they have a very impressive Forest School setup. Run by Mark and Sally, the Forest School here is run passionately and in conjunction with the school’s curriculum. Both Mark and Sally have worked in schools for twenty years, and have been at Edge Hill for seven years now. It’s fair to say that they’ve built quite an establishment in that time. “On our first day, this whole area was overgrown and about six-feet high,” recalls Sally. “We had a week to go until our first lesson – but we managed to get it ready!” From that first week onwards the space has completely transformed. At the time, it was a mess of weeds that ran along the side of the school’s playing field. It’s a sizeable area, so the fact that it was cleared within a week was an early sign of the dedication the pair would and have put into the project. Seeing the patch as it is now, it is hard to believe that it was ever anything other than cared for. Through their hard work, what Mark and Sally have developed is a site that is truly remarkable. There is a wealth of facilities at their disposal, making the combination of learning and play a cinch. Before you get to the main entrance to


Forest Life the Forest School area, though, you see the most surprising facet – the shelters. Not shelters for the little ones, though, but for the goats, ducks and chickens. The children help out with their maintenance, assisting daily with either cleaning, feeding or, weather depending, walking the goats around the field. Go through the gates and to your right is the entrance into the homes of the furry and feathered residents, but before you to the left is a wonderful array of thoughtfully sculpted woodland. Immediately

you can see the campfire area and just beyond that a Forest Kitchen setup (not for real food, just fun). Walk down the path and you’ll pass a small pond, the space, complete with stump stools, for circle time just before you get to the climbing apparatus. The path takes you along the side of those obstacles, after which there is a willow tepee in growth and a World War II related project. The shelter made from disused tyres is a work in progress, but a fine example of how the Forest School supplements the classroom curriculum.

“If the kids are learning about World War II, for example,” says Mark, “we will incorporate that into what we do. “By encouraging the kids to enjoy themselves whilst they learn, for them to not be sat at a desk, you can see that they go back inside eager and energised – they see that they can enjoy learning!” In a nutshell, that is what has made Mark and Sally’s programme so successful. To keep the pupils raring to go, they have a swatch of activities to work alongside the facilities they have crafted. These

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range from functional skills, to educational activities through to out-and-out fun. Every morning a group of pupils take a moment to help out with maintenance in the form of either walking the goats or in poor weather they’ll support with the feeding of the winged contingent. Then from half past one, they will welcome a class outside throughout the afternoon until the clock strikes three and encourage them to enjoy education and their natural surroundings. My visit was only brief, but it did briefly cross paths with a cohort of students aiding in the morning feed – and even in drizzly conditions they were eager to get their wellies on and get going. So too was Poppy, the 18-month old puppy who comes into work with Mark.

Such has been the success of what custodians Mark and Sally have built, they often have other schools visit in the mornings and have consulted on how to improve or set up similar projects at other schools. “We’re very lucky that there are two of us. Mark and I often get calls from others who lead Forest Schools on their own, asking for help and advice,” says Sally. “Whenever we’ve been out the idea has been well received. Sometimes it can be difficult to convince the head teachers that a Forest School is worthwhile, but ours is fully on board and has supported us all the way.” Further proof of the appreciation of Edge Hill’s Forest School is the fact that a pupil’s grandparent helped build the extended section in which the goats roam. Come

winter, the Forest School makes adorable Christmas decorations, which it sells to staff and the local community as part of its bid to remain self-sufficient. Whether you’ve heard of Forest Schools before or not, it’s hard to argue with the positivity it encourages. The balance struck at Edge Hill means that children don’t miss out on their education, nor do they miss out on fresh air. The blend of work and play is just so that children are enthused by both. It is also worth mentioning that in the Forest School leaders, Mark and Sally, there is an evident enthusiasm and passion for the project and an aptitude to convey that to the pupils which is absolutely pivotal in the project’s continuing success.


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“We’re very lucky that there are two of us. Mark and I often get calls from others who lead Forest Schools on their own, asking for help and advice. Whenever we’ve been out the idea has been well received. Sometimes it can be difficult to convince the head teachers that a Forest School is worthwhile, but ours is fully on board and has supported us all the way.”

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NATIONAL BREWERY CENTRE ESCAPE ROOMS

We all know that the National Brewery Centre is about more than just beer. Yes, it is somewhat beer centric, but there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the site at the heart of the brewing capital. There are regular functions, comedy events, murder mystery evenings, plus the onsite bar and restaurant. But, there’s now something a little bit more challenging to be found here.

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The National Brewery Centre has teamed up with Hour Escape Rooms to bring you a braintickling, beer-themed experience that will really get your cogs turning. With the same expertise employed at their Peterborough headquarters, a brand-new room has been constructed especially for the Brewery Centre.

When you enter this bespoke room in Burton, you will face challenges that have been designed with the same intricate planning and testing process as the hit rooms in Peterborough. You’ll face a variety of puzzles that require a combination of teamwork, quick thinking and acute observational skills to progress through the challenge. But don’t worry, as with all Hour Escape Rooms you will have an expert on hand who will be monitoring your hunt for clues and is ready to step in – but only if you are really struggling!

Brewery Bandits will see you play out a story of espionage aimed at obtaining a secret recipe for a valuable type of golden nectar. Sent by a rival brewery, you will have to fathom your way into the office and then find the secret recipe before the head brewer returns. The second challenge on offer, titled The Secret of Silas, is a bit more of a gruesome tale. A murdered journalist has been found in the midst of an investigation into a secret society led by Silas. Dr Landons revealed


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previously the Opus Dei, and it is believed that the journalist was about to uncover a list of the society’s members within the museum when they were slain. Now, it is your aim to fight the society by finding that very list to expose them and end their tyranny! Each of the rooms are designed for two or more players, and are not only a great pastime and ideal for the school holidays but an enjoyable teambuilding exercise too. It is suitable for players of all ages with the tasks designed to take an hour – with a ten-minute allowance for faster or slower groups. Since opening in late September, the Hour Escape Rooms at the National Brewery Centre can be booked online using the respective websites for both parties involved. For full details, hit the web!

Each of the rooms are designed for two or more players, and are not only a great pastime and ideal for the school holidays but an enjoyable teambuilding exercise too.

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A NEW LICK OF PAINT The “death of the high street” is sadly symptomatic of modern times. This millennium, with financial crashes, the unstoppable rise of online business and duly uncertain political climates, it is no surprise that high streets haven’t been thriving. Uninhabited properties in town centres are not uncommon, and it is a damning spectacle, not to mention unwelcoming.ll. Words by George Dove, pictures by Dom Biddulph

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This was the case for one such spot on Station Street in Burton, formerly a nightclub under the guises of Barracuda, Burton Snatch and The Gravity. But it is now back with newfound enthusiasm driving it forward in a brand-new direction.

Having lived and worked in London over the last few years, Dom Biddulph initially hails from Burton-on-Trent and has recently returned to the area, with the plan to turn this empty lot into a community space for contemporary art. “I found this space through arts charity East Street Arts,” explains Dom. “They work all across the country as an intermediary to allow artists to use disused spaces, mostly as studios. But because this is so centrally located and easily accessible, they were interested in having something that was more of a hybrid space for public exhibitions and events. That sounded exactly like what I wanted to do.”


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Dom went to university at Central Saint Martin’s, initially studying graphic design, but moved onto more film-based work throughout his time in the capital. After university, this saw him working in film – a role which was rewarding but essentially exhausting. But good fortune was waiting just around the corner. “I was working long hours, six days a week, and since university I had missed working as a group with really creative people. I knew I wanted a break and then I found this space.” Plans for the repurposed site, whilst still young, are wideranging and will bring a breath of fresh air to the town centre.

From art classes and workshops to studio sessions and events for the local community, there is nothing truly off-limits – as long as it brings people together. For Dom, this is key. “I would like things to be happening every day, even if there weren’t events going on. There are plenty of things we can do during the day. We could have drop-ins, tea and coffee or whatever, I think even outside of art Burton is in need of a space that is happy and friendly.” And, on launch night, that is exactly how the atmosphere could be described. When I first visited Dom, the property was bare and still very much in its infancy. It still is in the early stages, as Dom only got the keys to the property in September, but using Freecycle and similar networks, the space has been transformed into something cosy and inviting just two weeks later.

The opening event itself was a double film screening that kicked off with local film maker Luke Kondor’s Keith – an award-winning short film that is no less than unique. With such an open space, Dom had initially held concerns over how best to set up for sound. But the event listing caught the attention of Victoria who runs Rose Melba silent discos, who was keen to sponsor the event and help out. “Being such a big, echoey space, I was worried about the sound,” Dom continues, “so when Victoria got in touch it was great – and it worked perfectly on the night!” The next event being targeted is an exhibition of work by Dom and others in AirWaifs – a collection of artists working in ceramics, video installation, print and sculpture. The motive behind which is that in moving away to study, work and create, Dom has met some very talented artists – and this exhibition is bringing that creativity back to his hometown.

The first exhibition at the Fragile Centre For Contemporary Arts is scheduled to open on the 5th December for Private View, with Open View running from the 6th-10th December. Burton-up-onBurton will feature work from artists including Ken Banks, Tom Voyce, Tommy Xiao Ji and Dom Biddulph. Follow them on social media to keep up to date with this and all future events.

“I want to show that it isn’t a one-way thing and give something back. There is a real concentration in London – and in larger cities – and I really want to spread that out and do my bit.” An early video work produced by Biddulph and featuring the experimental designs of fashion designers Rene Scheibenbauer and Emma Peer.

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A scene from Lost Friday, a collaborative workshop series co-hosted by Biddulph at Central Saint Martins in 2017.

Beyond that first exhibition, there is still a lot that is unknown. Much of Dom’s time day-to-day is spent researching what grants are out there and looking for funding for the project. This has also included talking to local businesses regarding one-off sponsored events, as the more support gained, the sooner the project is up and running in full – whatever form that may take. “I named it Fragile Centre for Contemporary Arts because the Fragile part relates both to my feelings towards the notion of contemporary art, but also the fragility of this space as a home for that. The really big thing is we are non-commercial, not for profit, which means we can only do what we have the resources for,” Dom shares. But that doesn’t mean that the space is sitting empty in the meantime. Other artists, including members of Airwaifs, will be using the space to work regularly. Working on five-metre square canvases, it is often tricky to find the room to paint. Dom is keen for the space to be multi-purpose and isn’t averse to holding classes and workshops whilst contemporaries


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Biddulph uses a standard digital camera to capture data from which he derives near photorealistic 3D models.

Do you want more confidence and a better mind-set? To be able to set goals to achieve better habits, resulting in a slimmer, happier and more energised you? Without being bombarded with information, spending too much time and money? In which case, I can help you.

Fragile Centre for Contemporary Arts 6-8 Station Street Burton upon Trent Derbyshire DE14 1AN Biddulph’s eclectic practice bridges digital and traditional processes, including screen printing.

are working elsewhere in the space. But, with so much still uncertain and the training wheels still on, Dom is keen to get the ball rolling and has a clear vision of what he wants to achieve. “Workshops are something that are key for me. I think the reason I was able to keep going at pace after uni was that I think a lot about creative exercise – the idea of working less with an outcome in mind, but focusing more on the process. “For example, I work a lot with ceramics. I haven’t incorporated anything into an outcome yet, it’s been more of a personal, meditative process. And I hope to be able to continue doing that here. To bring those kinds of creative exercises into people’s daily lives would be important to me and is good for people.

Facebook.com/FragileCCA Instagram: @FragileCCA Twitter: @FragileCCA “What I would like to see in twoor three-years’ time would be an enduring legacy of this space. For it to be bringing something to the community in the art space. It may be that we’re not here anymore, it may be that we aren’t anywhere in the town, but I hope for it to have built those networks. I hope it is still doing what I am aiming to do now, but I’m sure it would’ve mutated sixty times over.”

My name is Melissa Kuman; I am a Registered Associate Nutritionist, Confidence Coach and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner. I believe health and confidence is essential for a happy life. So, my mission is to improve the wellbeing of busy professionals by educating them with NLP and coaching techniques, evidence-based nutrition and simplicity. My sessions are built upon the fact that I believe in you and your capabilities no matter what. Therefore, I can successfully coach and educate you so you can reach all your health goals. All I ask is that you believe in the process. I keep it real and genuine and I am unique in the fact that I am a nutritionist as well. I also use the tools I have developed from being a coach and NLP practitioner to set my clients up for success and help them change bad habits, replacing them with good ones.  We only have one life to live, I believe there is no time for fad diets or diet shakes – the way forward is just getting back to the basics. Plus, I am always studying, so you can trust that I am always in a position to give you the latest nutrition advice and evidence too. My services include bespoke, one of a kind meal plans to suit both your taste and lifestyle, plus one to one consultations and confidence coaching. I offer my services at my clinic at Hoar Cross Hall, a stately home spa retreat in Staffordshire. Please email info@thedeliciousnutritionist. com for more information and follow me on social media (@thedeliciousnutritionist) for an insight into what I get up to!

Judging by the early signs, the future is bright for the Fragile Centre for Contemporary Arts. It is well placed, both geographically and socially, to be a welcoming space and a creative spark in Burton town centre.

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IS VISCOSE VICIOUS? If you love forests and want to protect them, checking the materials that make up your clothes is one way to help in the fight to save natural habitats. Words by Samantha Lyster, pictures by Stephen J Morgan

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There are a lot of trees being felled for fashion. People are often surprised to learn the shirt on their back was possibly once ancient habitat. While we have become somewhat more educated on the ethics of how clothing is produced, we’re still lagging on the problems with raw materials. The issues around conventional cotton growing are better documented, but many shoppers are still not familiar with the impact the production of viscose has on the planet. Viscose, also known as rayon, is a fibre invented as an alternative to silk. Its production involves a chemical mix that includes dissolvable pulp which comes from trees. It is now largely manufactured in China, India and North America, as well as Brazil and Indonesia. However, in the early half of the 20th Century the UK, Russia and Germany were also large producers of the material, with forests cut down across Europe to feed the production process.


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According to the environmental organisation Canopy, some 150 million trees are logged each year to be turned into textiles for the fashion and apparel industry. Within that figure, which Canopy estimates if placed end to end would circle the earth seven times, are trees from ancient and endangered areas such as Indonesia’s rainforests, Canada’s Boreal forest and the Amazon. “Between 2013 and 2020, it is expected that the number of trees being logged every year for fabric production such as viscose will have doubled,” says Canopy’s communications director Josee Breton. “Less than 20 per cent of the world’s ancient forests remain in intact tracts large enough to maintain biological diversity.” Deforestation not only takes away the habitats of species that depend upon them for survival, it’s also having a major impact upon human health. Not only does the clearing of forests play a part in flooding and mudslides, according to the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental studies their disappearance can promote the spread of life-threatening diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. Add to that the rapid release of stored carbon, and the loss of carbon sinks, and it’s a perfect storm for the acceleration of climate change. Think this only has implications for developing nations? Think again. The UK is experiencing extreme weather with an increase in flooding and drought conditions, and the organisation Antibiotic Research

UK has warned of an upsurge in infectious bites from insects such as horseflies that love the warmer temperatures just as much as the nation’s visitor attractions. The tragedy is that the world has lost vast expanses of forest, not just in the global south but in the north too, to produce clothing that further creates environmental problems when items end up in landfill. A 2017 report by the waste organisation WRAP estimates that in 2016 UK households sent 300,000 tonnes of clothes to landfill. However you look at it, that is a large figure. However, there are ways that individuals can help to protect the remaining forests by simply putting into place mindful shopping habits. Already around 160 brands from across the world have committed to end sourcing from ancient and endangered forests by working with Canopy, including Zara and H&M. Canopy raises awareness of better practice, better raw material supplies such as straw and recycled fibres and promotes sourcing from certified forests. One retailer missing from the Canopy list is Primark. In 2017, the independent retail industry network Fashion United released a report on Primark’s sustainability and ethics. While the retailer has made on-going progress in many areas, the report recommended it improve its sourcing of materials by reducing viscose and procuring the more sustainable tencel and modal. With the largest Primark in Europe now open in Birmingham, this

is an opportunity for people in the Midlands to take Canopy up on its suggestion of engaging retailers in a conversation on how they are ensuring they adhere to responsible sourcing practices by contacting Primark and asking about its use of viscose. However, if you really do want to be certain that your jacket was not previously home to several species, then choose explicitly ethical retailers and brands wherever you can. The outdoor clothing brand Patagonia is actively working to protect forests, not just through its own sourcing but also through promoting campaigners and activists fighting on the frontlines to save these amazing landscapes.

Samantha Lyster is a writer and communications professional specialising in the sustainability sector. In her spare time she runs circular fashion events, details of which can be found on her Instagram account @TheInspiringWild

“Deforestation is a huge problem that has enormous impacts on biodiversity and the climate,” adds Breton. “Keeping logging activities out of greenhouse gas storehouses such as Indonesia’s peat lands and Canada’s intact Boreal is a priority for us all.” The world’s precious forests are under pressure from clearing for agriculture and mining, as recently evidenced by the deliberately started fires in the Amazon, but critically also from illegal logging for the timber black market - the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and Interpol estimate that 15 to 30 per cent of the global timber trade is conducted through organised crime. By making better clothing consumption decisions we can all help to alleviate at least a little of the pressure on these natural wonders.

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TOYOTA RAV4 EXCEL HYBRID 2WD The Toyota RAV4 was the original soft-roader. It first came to Britain in 1994, when every other SUV (not that the term SUV had been invented yet) was still built to tackle hardcore off-road terrain, and it was like a cross between a miniature Landcruiser and a VW Golf. People didn’t know what to make of it, but they certainly flocked to buy it.

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Words by Alan Kidd, pictures by Toyota

A quarter of a century on, the RAV4 is now into its fifth generation. The all-new model, launched this year, is far removed from the original – but it’s arguably the best-looking yet and it’s certainly the classiest.

These days, the RAV4 is a more substantial, five-door family SUV. It’s powered by a self-charging hybrid system in which a 2.5-litre petrol engine is mated to an electric motor (or two, in the fourwheel drive model) – there’s no diesel option, and all models have an automatic gearbox as standard. Best of all, this is not a greedy vehicle. You can get a RAV4 for £30,485; the price jumps to £34,280 for the cheapest 4x4 model, but even at the top of the range it tops out at a relatively modest £37,490. Our test vehicle, meanwhile, a mid-

option Excel model, lists at £34,460 – and even with pearlescent paint and a panoramic roof, it would only cost you £35,470. In a world where you can go well into the forties for a Kia or Skoda SUV, that’s commendable value indeed. Let’s recognise that Kia and Skoda make very good cars, but let’s also recognise that Toyota is the world’s number one name in 4x4s. Not Jeep, not Land Rover, Toyota: go to Africa and all you’ll see is Landcruisers, and the RAV4 basks in the reflected glory of that credibility.


Forest Life We needn’t say much about its styling, because you can make your own mind up. However, we feel it’s perhaps the slickest looking mid-sized SUV around right now. That continues into the cabin. It looks and feels modern, classy and well made, with lots of horizontal lines giving its dashboard a really distinctive appearance. There’s plenty of space for all your odds and ends, with a couple of big trays in the dash as well as the usual glovebox, cubby and door pockets. You certainly won’t need to leave stuff floating around on the passenger’s seat. All the bits you’re likely to touch have a nice, rubberised feel to them and the switchgear is big, stout and chunky, just like a 4x4 should be. There’s an excellent multimedia screen mounted on the top of the dash, protruding slightly without looking in any way like it’s not meant to be there. If you’re really picky and you like everything to be neat, you might criticise it for not being completely contained within the overall body of the dash, but it is certainly not stuck on. It’s pretty easy to use, too, and you can pair your phone without needing a masters degree. Toyota still hasn’t adopted Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but its own system does the job and the graphics on the screen are as crisp and responsive as you’d like. The seat leather on our test car didn’t feel especially plush, but the seats themselves are very comfortable and particularly spacious. If you’re broad in the beam, you’ll likely find it easier to get settled than in some other SUVs, and even if you don’t need all the space the seats provide they’ll still hold you nicely in place as you drive.

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Forest Life On the road the RAV4 doesn’t fixate on the ‘sport’ aspect of SUV, unlike numerous competitors. It’s well controlled and agile in the corners, without having any great feeling of urgency or engagement to it – there’s plenty in reserve, but you definitely get the feeling that it’s happier keeping it that way than having its limits probed too keenly. Certainly, it’s very easy to drive, with a lovely natural feel to its steering and a smooth, quiet performance on the motorway. The suspension doesn’t fuss and patter on rough road surfaces, and around town it doesn’t crash or jolt in potholes. Basically, it takes a lot to upset the RAV4. Things are nice and quiet at lower speeds, too, as it’ll run on electric power alone whenever it can. The petrol engine cuts in automatically when you put your foot down – this is one of the moments of truth for hybrids, and the RAV4 comes through it with flying colours, transitioning smoothly and quietly with no jolts or gusts of engine noise.


Forest Life It’s nice and smooth when you get on the anchors, too, with none of the snatching you sometimes feel on hybrid vehicles with regenerative brake systems. Again, it’s just a really calm, smooth cruiser, whose assertive appearance turns out to be that of a confident boulevardier rather than a loutish speed freak. Not that it’s short on power, with 215bhp on tap in the front-wheel drive model we tested. The quoted 0-62mph time is 8.4 seconds, which sounds a bit conservative to us but emphasises the point that the RAV4 is not about hooligan antics. Much more to the point, with fuel consumption of 48.750.4mpg and emissions of 105g/ km, it’s about giving you a clean, economical way of getting about. In this spec it also gives you an impressive equipment list including dual-zone climate, adaptive cruise, sat-nav, online connectivity, reversing camera and a power tailgate, as well as loads of safety kit and, on the outside, a really nice set of 18” alloys.

That’s not to mention a good, big boot, which gets even bigger when the rear seats go down; they fold near-flat, and the boot floor is nice and low so it’s among the easiest to load of any SUV. People are well accommodated in the back, too – you can seat one six-footer behind another with no problems, and headroom is actually better in the back than in the front. Thus, the RAV4 is a hugely competent all-round family vehicle. The blend if offers of style, quality, equipment and practicality is very compelling and, when you combine that with value for money and low running costs you have a true winner. Add in Toyota’s legendary reputation for making 4x4s that go on forever and, if you’re shopping for a medium-sized SUV, it should be right at the top of your shortlist.

Price as tested: £35,470 0-60: 8.4 seconds Max power: 215bhp Max torque: 163lbf.ft Economy: 48.7-50.4 (WLTP) CO2 emissions: 105g/km

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EAST MIDLANDS’ WATERWAYS TO GET A WINTER MAKEOVER The Canal & River Trust, the national waterways and wellbeing charity, is about to begin an £800,000 programme of repairs on waterways across the East Midlands this winter.

“Swans” by header.baltica @ Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0

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Over the coming months, the Trust will be replacing a number of handcrafted lock gates and carrying out repairs to historic waterway structures. The works will start in November and continue until next March. The programme will include a wide range of works, to make sure the waterways are up to standard.

Among the works being undertaken, the Trust will be replacing and repairing lock gates in Leicester. This will include new bottom gates at North Lock in Frog Island whilst gates at Belgrave and Birstall will be repaired and relined to ensure a watertight seal. An extensive programme of works will also take place at Foxton Locks. These will see the replacement of three sets of gates and repairs to gates and historic brickwork at several other sites in the area. Brickwork will also be looked at on Potters Bridge situated on the Erewash Canal. A new control system to open the giant gates at Holme Lock on the River Trent is set to be installed, whilst the Sawley Flood Lock, which

provides flood protection when the Trent floods, will be repaired. As part of the rejuvenation programme, special open days will be held in Leicester and Foxton enabling members of the public to get a close-up view of the works and find out more about their local history.     Phil Mulligan, regional director for the Canal & River Trust, said: “Research tells us that time spent by the water can help us to feel happier and healthier, so this programme of works is about far more than bricks and mortar.   “By investing this money over the winter months we’ll not only be protecting the historic fabric of our waterways and making sure that they’re working well for boaters, but we’ll also be ensuring that local communities have safe, open waterways to enjoy.   “Our expert teams will be braving the elements to make sure that the waterways, which play such an important part in so many people’s daily lives, are in good working order.”   The lock gates on the East Midlands’ waterways weigh several tonnes and typically last around 25 years. Each new gate is made to measure and handcrafted from seasoned oak so that it fits perfectly in the lock chamber.     For more information on the works planned on the nations canals this winter visit the Canal & River Trust’s website, where details on the works and open days can be found.


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SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW Since 1986, Allen Brown Jewellery have specialised in handmade, quality jewellery using unusually cut and coloured precious and semi-precious gems. Coloured diamonds are also very much key within their collections, found at their gallery located within Heart of the Country Shopping Village in Swinfen, Lichfield.

“We are always happy to advise people who bring in their jewellery and we can help to explore the possibilities of what can be created.” Allen Brown

Allen working hard in our onsite workshop. It is a hive of activity everyday with our team busy designing, and making our collections, creating commission items for customers, or remodelling and repairs.

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Proving an ever-popular service, Allen Brown Jewellery offer a remodelling service, in which they can transform your older pieces of jewellery into something you can wear and enjoy – remodelled into a new design to suit your taste.

Often, it’s hard to visualise what can be done with old pieces of jewellery. There are plentiful examples of pieces both before and after the process at the Lichfield gallery, and the team will do everything they can to ensure the process is as smooth as possible for you. “We are always happy to advise people who bring in their jewellery and we can help to explore the possibilities of what can be created,” confirms Allen.

There is an area within the gallery where clients are able to browse portfolio books, see photos of the jewellery collections and to view remodelling case studies. Customers are afforded the space and time to browse these books showcasing past works and at the same time gaining ideas for the pieces they may wish to be created. This is beneficial with remodelling work, as many clients can have difficulty imagining just what can be created from their

“Over the last few years this has been a growing part of our business,” shares Allen. “We’re helping people carry forward all the sentiment of inherited jewellery into new stylish pieces that can be worn, but knowing it is made from old jewellery that was much loved.” This service is helping many customers take existing family heirloom pieces and successfully carry the sentiment forward and into the next generation. By carefully separating existing pieces, The Allen Brown team transform their metals and stones into new individually designed pieces.

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Before and after jewellery remodelling created into 9ct gold diamond and amethyst earrings.

old pieces of jewellery. Plus, an upstairs viewing gallery also gives customers the chance to view pieces being created firsthand in the onsite workshop by their talented team. A customer visiting their jewellery gallery with inherited jewellery will be welcome to discuss the possibilities and the type of jewellery they would like from the remodelling process with the expert team. From there, it will be assessed what exactly is possible with the particular item in question. The next stage sees Allen compile expert sketches and drawings of possible outcomes over two or three weeks, before the customer then revisits the gallery to take them in and discuss with Allen the various options. At this stage, the customer chooses the preferred sketch and is welcome to make any amendments, allowing the gallery to quote an exact price for the works to be undertaken. Once the drawings and quote are approved and agreed with the customer, it is only at this stage that any jewellery is very carefully deconstructed. It is very important to Allen and his team that they be aware of the sentiment connected to the jewellery, therefore wherever possible they can use materials from them in the new piece.

Before jewellery remodelling. A selection of customers rings. After jewellery remodelling with the selection of above rings remodelled into a 18ct gold diamond and sapphire ring.

For the entire process from the customer walking through the door of the gallery to collection of final item, it typically takes six to eight weeks, with two or three weeks spent drawing and typical crafting time being six weeks once the sketch is finalised – depending on the work involved. The gallery’s services also prove very popular with happy couples who are in the process of planning their wedding. Not only do they sell engagement and wedding rings, but they can also make bespoke rings in the workshop.

Plus, as Allen explains, remodelling work is often undertaken with a wedding day in mind. “Often we use inherited family wedding rings to incorporate into a couple’s new wedding rings, giving these very special items of jewellery even more of a sentimental significance.” You can rely on the talented jewellery designers to create unusual and unique jewellery items, to your specific requirements, with attention to detail throughout and a high quality, individualised service.

Allen Brown Jewellery Heart of the Country Swinfen Lichfield WS14 9QR Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm 01543 481948 www.allenbrownjewellery.co.uk


A stunning and awe-inspiring immersive experience, this event will see the Arboretum and some of its memorials ‘shown in another light’.

11 - 20 DECEMBER 2019 FROM 6PM

Visit www.thenma.org.uk or call 01283 245 100 for more information about our autumn and winter events and activities, and to book.

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EARLY BIRD* TICKETS FROM: Adult: £10 Under 16: £6 5 and under: Free Discounts available for Groups of 10+. Advance booking required. * Early bird tickets available until 31 October 2019. Standard tickets from £12.50. Image: Staffordshire Live

National Memorial Arboretum Part of The Royal British Legion

www.thenma.org.uk T: 01283 245 100 E: info@thenma.org.uk Charity No. 1043992


Specialists in designing and making, remodelling and refurbishing

Specialists in designing and making, remodelling and refurbishing ALLEN BROWN JEWELLERY Heart of The Country Shopping Village Swinfen, Lichfield Staffordshire WS14 9QR 01543 481948 www.allenbrownjewellery.co.uk

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Forest Life - November/December 2019  

Packed with plenty of things to keep your mind off the cold weather this winter. As usual, we have our guide to what is going on throughout...

Forest Life - November/December 2019  

Packed with plenty of things to keep your mind off the cold weather this winter. As usual, we have our guide to what is going on throughout...

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