J'AIME October 2017

jaimemagazine

Your local luxury lifestyle magazine

O C T O B E R 2 0 1 7

J’AIME

Y O U R L O C A L L U X U R Y L I F E S T Y L E M A G A Z I N E

GAME FOR A

LAUGH AT

BIRMINGHAM

IMPROV

FESTIVAL

There’s something

about

Marco

WE MEET THE GODFATHER

Win

AN AUTUMN

WARDROBE

UPDATE

WORTH

£150!

OF MODERN COOKING

The perfect brew FROM A

LICHFIELD coffee roaster


Welcome to J’AIME

It’s been another busy month here at

J’AIME HQ, and once again we’ve been

thrilled with the fantastic feedback from

readers and advertisers alike on the second

issue; we’ve had so many lovely comments

and people saying how much they like the

magazine, which is always fantastic to hear.

Now, we love all things food and drink here

at J’AIME, so it was huge excitement which

greeted the news that we’d managed to

bag an interview with none other than the

godfather of modern cooking, Marco Pierre

White. Marco was coming to Birmingham to

launch his new wine collection and we were

lucky enough to be invited along for a taster,

accompanied by the man himself. Marco

was thoroughly charming and fantastically

chatty, and revealed a couple of surprising

personal foodie favourites - including chip

butties and Walkers crisps!

As the autumnal chills well and truly set in,

we’ve got some fabulously cosy ideas for

styling both your home and your wardrobe

- and one lucky reader will win a £150

voucher to spend on some stylish updates

for your winter wardrobe from Boutique

Eleven. There are some great events to

keep you entertained throughout October,

including laughs-a-minute at Birmingham

Improv Festival, dedicated to the art of

improvisation, with a pair of tickets for the

opening night up for grabs.

We’d also like to congratulate the winners

of our first issue competitions; Jenny Danby,

from Lichfield, who was thrilled to discover

she’d won the £1,000 Allen Brown Jewellery

prize, and Elaine Collins, from Sutton

Coldfield, who scored a pair of tickets to

Everyman Cinema. Congratulations ladies!

EDITOR: AMY NORBURY

EDITOR@JAIMEMAGAZINE.COM

ADVERTISING: JAN ASHLEY

ADVERTISING@JAIMEMAGAZINE.COM

07388 335 931

DESIGN: DESIGN@JAIMEMAGAZINE.COM

CONTRIBUTORS: MARTIN PLOWMAN, JAMES

POMLETT, OLIVER BROAD, JILL HARTLEY, LISA

PIDDINGTON, SHAUN CRAVEN AND EMMA STEVEN.

J’AIME IS PUBLISHED BY ASHBURY

PUBLICATIONS LIMITED AND PRINTED

BY KEP LIMITED, TAMWORTH.

Check us out online at:

WWW.JAIMEMAGAZINE.COM

Find us on

/JAIMEMAGAZINE

@JAIMEMAGAZINE

@JAIMEMAGAZINE

3


CONTENTS

InsideJ’aime this month...

6 Shining Stone Coffee - We chat to Scott and

Emma Taylor from Shenstone artisan coffee

roasters Shining Stone

12 Property - Property of the month

14 Interiors - Luxe-to-the-touch velvet

18 Interiors - The timeless magic of monochrome

22 Interiors - Styling with geometrics

26 Marco Pierre White - The godfather of

modern cooking on his new wine collection

32 Marco’s steak recipe

34 Food and drink - Reviewing Harvey Nichols,

Birmingham

36 Food and drink - Cocktail of the month from

Le Rêve

38 Food and drink - A Michelin star dining

spectacular

40 Food and drink - An autumnal recipe from

Pom’s Kitchen

42 Travel - Get back to nature at the Tree

Hotel, Sweden

46 What’s On - Our pick of events around our

area this month

48 What’s On - The hottest tickets around

Birmingham

50 Competition - Win tickets to Birmingham

Improv Festival

52 Fashion - Feel the heat with autumn’s red alert

54 Fashion - Get cosy with Nero e Bianco

58 Competition - Win £150 to spend at Boutique

Eleven

60 Beauty - Contouring heroes from Harvey

Nichols Birmingham

62 Beauty - Autumn hair trends

64 In the news - Three decades in business; and

celebrating a tenth anniversary

65 Motors - Tamworth racing driver Martin

Plowman on a personal battle

4


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FEATURE

Brewed to perfection

A SHENSTONE COUPLE IS HELPING TO BRING GREAT COFFEE TO THE MIDLANDS

WITH THEIR OWN MICRO ROASTERY. AMY NORBURY DISCOVERS MORE

A PERFECT SHOT OF

SHINING STONE ESPRESSO

Walk down any high street, in any town in the

country and you’re sure to be greeted with the

sight of a large chain coffee shop or three. Coffee

is the most popular drink worldwide with around

two billion cups consumed each and every day,

some 56 million of them right here in the UK. Our

commitment to the great British cup of tea is still

strong, but it seems we’re becoming a nation of

coffee lovers.

But while large multinationals still dominate cafe

culture here, it has to be said that the coffee they

serve, well, isn’t actually all that good. If you’re lucky

enough to have a good independent selling quality

coffee on your doorstep - and there are a few notable

ones in the area - that’s great. But why do so many of

us put up with inferior coffee?

It’s a question Shenstone couple Scott and Emma

Taylor asked themselves repeatedly since moving to

the Midlands from Leeds, where there is a thriving

independent cafe scene serving up consistently

delicious brews. Fed up with the chance of a good

cuppa being few and far between, Scott and Emma

decided to do something about it.

Their business, Shining Stone Coffee, is a micro

roastery - currently based in the couple’s garage -

which is rapidly growing to provide quality, locally

roasted coffee to cafes and businesses around the

Midlands and beyond, as well as selling directly to

coffee lovers through their website.

“We’ve got a real passion for coffee, and after leaving

Leeds and moving here we were surprised at the

quality of the coffee available,” says 38-year-old

Scott. “There were a couple of places in Lichfield

and a couple in Sutton where you could get a good

cup, but your average place to go to have coffee was

either a massive chain or somewhere serving poorly

made coffee.

“The quality of coffee we were used to in most places

6


was really good, and it just felt there was a market

around here for upping the quality of the coffee.”

So Scott, who teaches design and technology in a

local secondary school, and Emma, who’s a stay-athome

mum to the couple’s two children Max, three,

and two-year-old Mia, set about investigating coffee

roasting as a business concept - something they could

do at evenings and weekends to fit around the school

day and family life.

“I spent quite a lot of time on the south coast

with some roasters down there, around six months

learning all the processes,” Scott explains. “And

then it was another good six months before we were

happy with the product, so it’s taken a year to get to

the point where we’re confident and consistent in

what we’re producing.”

The point of no return for the business was when

Scott and Emma made the decision to invest in an

sizeable piece of machinery - their roaster.

“At mid-life crisis time some blokes buy fast cars; I

bought a roaster,” laughs Scott. “There aren’t too

many people doing this around here, there’s certainly

no other micro roastery in Lichfield, so we thought it

was worth taking the plunge.

“We decided to go for a ten kilo roaster from the

beginning. A lot of people who set up like us buy a

five kilo roaster, but talking to other roasteries I found

that you can get up to capacity pretty quickly. And

with having to roast in the evenings and weekends

around work and family time, it was better to have

a beast which we can just roast once and get large

quantities from. We can get 30 kilos an hour from

ours.”

The roasting process gives Scott and Emma a chance

to get creative, with even the smallest changes

creating a very different end product.

“I’ve always been interested in coffee, how it’s grown

and the provenance,” says Scott. “The thing I love

about it more than everything is

the science behind it. There’s an

awful lot of science in the roasting

process, with huge variables. The

beans go through different stages

as they roast, and minor alterations

can have a massive impact on the

flavour.

“There are so different flavours

you can bring out through different

roast profiles; if you finish it a lot

earlier you bring out the fruity notes

whereas if you roast it a bit longer

you bring out more chocolate notes

and that’s so interesting, finding out

at which point these flavours develop.

“When it comes to flavour, there are definite

differences across the country in what people seem

to want. In London people want the sharper, fruitier

flavours whereas here people seem to prefer the more

chocolatey notes.”

From a core offering of two products, the Shining

Stone selection has rapidly expanded.

“We started out very simply; we wanted an espresso

blend and a decaf which would be our core

products,” says Scott. “And from there we’ve evolved

7


into single origin coffees, and going forward we’re

going to be going much more down the single origin

route. I see coffee going down the line of guest

roasters in cafes, much like guest ales in pubs, and

definitely focusing on single origins.

“And it’s a very seasonal product; your Brazilian and

Colombian stock will be coming in at a different

time to your African beans. A lot of the coffees I’ve

got at the moment are central and South American,

but we’re looking to progress to more lively, fruity

African coffees as we go into autumn.”

The house blend, now in its fourth incarnation,

currently comprises beans from Brazil, Colombia

and Sumatra and each origin has something to bring

to the party. The result is a smooth and full bodied

blend with chocolate, hazelnut and sweet caramel

flavours, and a hint of fruit acidity.

“We create our blends after the roasting process,”

says Scott. “A lot of roasters just whack all the

different beans in together, but they all roast

differently. Your Brazilian stuff is grown lower while

your Colombian stuff is high-grown and to roast

them all together means you’re not going to get the

best out of the flavours.

“We’re aiming to create a better quality product

by roasting each bean type individually to get the

optimal flavour out of it and then blending postroast.

Time-wise it means you’re roasting three times

instead of just the once, but the end product is a

much better quality.”

The roasting process is surprisingly quick, taking

under 15 minutes, but it takes time for the coffee

beans to develop their full flavours.

“The biggest struggle

is organisation,

both for me and

for customers,”

says Scott. “We

sometimes get

customers ringing

up saying they’re out

of coffee and need

some tomorrow!

The roasting process

may be quick, but

we need time to get

the best from the

coffee; you can use it

after four days, but

it really starts to take

on the best flavour

after around ten

days.”

With provenance of products becoming an

increasingly important issue to many of us, the name

Shining Stone brings a nicely local feel to Scott and

Emma’s coffee.

“We spent ages trying to come up with a name and

had loads of ideas but nothing quite right,” explains

Scott.

“The village of Shenstone, in the Domesday Book,

was called Shining Stone, or beautiful stone, and it

was a place where people used to come together to

EMMA AND SCOTT’S COFFEE ROASTER

HAS A HOME IN THEIR GARAGE

8


eat, drink and socialise. And that all linked together

with what we were doing; it’s everything we’re

aiming to achieve with our coffee.

“And we wanted the brand to be really graphic

design-led, really bold colours and a contemporary

look which will look fantastic on the shelves, so we’ve

invested quite a lot in the branding side.”

But even with a quality product and eye-catching

design, it has take time for Shining Stone to persuade

cafes to swap their big-name coffee brand for

something more independent.

“Getting people to understand the product and move

from the big chain brands has been a challenge,” says

Scott. “I definitely underestimated how difficult it

would be to go into cafes and get them interested in

taking the product.”

Shining Stone’s big break came when Packington

Moor farm shop decided to stock the coffee in their

shop as well as serve it in their cafe.

“I went in, had a chat and got on really well with

them, we did some taste-test samples and they just

said yes, let’s go for it,” says Scott. “And because

they’re quite a well-known brand, things have

escalated off the back of their support.

“Also Richard at 15 On The Corner in Lichfield has

taken some single origin coffees from us, which gives

us real credibility because he really knows his coffee.”

While the single origin coffees have been a universal

hit, Shining Stone’s decaf has proved to be one of

the most popular products.

“The decaf ’s really, really good,” says Scott. “It’s

completely natural with no chemicals, and you

honestly wouldn’t know it’s decaf. There are quite a

few clients who are perhaps locked into

EACH TYPE OF BEAN IS INDIVIDUALLY contracts with big suppliers so they’re

ROASTED TO CREATE THE BEST FLAVOUR

just taking decaf, but sizeable amounts.

“It’s a similar roasting process but

you’ve got to be a bit gentle with it

because it’s gone through an extra

decaffeination process so it can be a

little bit brittle. You can create decaf

in a few ways and a lot of mainstream

coffee is decaffeinated using chemicals,

but the one we use is decaffeinated at

source in Colombia using sugar cane

which is grown alongside the coffee.

They extract ethyl acetate from the

sugar cane which takes out the caffeine

during the roasting process. It does

impart a slight sweetness to the coffee;

usually the decaffeination process will

strip out some of the flavour but this

one actually adds to the it.

“We’re finding a really strong market for decaf; it’s

not something we anticipated but good decaf is hard

to come by.”

An exciting new development for Shining Stone is a

collaboration with Lichfield gin makers Fifth Spire

on a special new coffee liqueur, which launched to

huge acclaim at the Lichfield Food Festival over the

August Bank Holiday.

“Tom from Fifth Spire approached me a few months

ago because he was looking to develop a cold brew

THE SHINING STONE AND

FIFTH SPIRE COLD BREW LIQUEUR

9


coffee liqueur and wondered if I knew anything

about it,” says Scott.

“We spent a good couple of months developing

different cold brew coffee recipes which would work

to cut through the alcohol, testing different brews,

and we actually stumbled on a recipe which is

brilliant quite quickly.”

Made with the finest single origin beans from Peru,

Scott uses huge amounts of coffee in each batch,

carefully cold brewed over 20 hours to create a rich,

chocolatey coffee taste that holds unique flavours

inherent with the Peruvian region. The cold brew

concentrate is mixed with British wheat spirit and a

little demerara sugar to make a powerful coffee drink

that’s perfect for sipping over ice or as the backbone

to an espresso martini.

“Tom’s taken it to various people in the industry

and we’ve had amazing feedback, which is really

encouraging,” says Scott. “He’s also been to trade

fairs and tasted various cold brew liqueurs which

are already on the market, and ours differs because

it’s not as sweet as any of them. We found that most

of them are overly sweet so we’ve reduced the sugar

content in ours; it’s perfect over ice for sipping and

great in cocktails.”

The first batch of 200 bottles quickly sold out,

and luxury retail behemoth Selfridges are already

interested in stocking the liqueur.

With the success of the coffee, and the interest in

coffee-related products, Scott has an eye on what

might be next in the pipeline.

“I’m also looking at developing a non-alcoholic

version of the cold brew at some point, but for

now all our focus is on promoting the liqueur so it’s

something I’ll look into when I have a bit more time;

there’s not often much of that, what with the coffee,

teaching and being a dad!”

For more information visit www.

shiningstone.co.uk or find Shining Stone

Coffee on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

10


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PROPERTY

Property of the Month

WE TAKE A SNEAKY PEEK AT SOME OF THE HOTTEST PROPERTIES ON THE MARKET IN THE AREA

EACH MONTH. THIS MONTH’S SELECTION IS MAGNIFICENT 1930S GEM SET IN WONDERFULLY

LANDSCAPED GARDENS IN THE DESIRABLE VILLAGE OF SHENSTONE

The White Gables, St Johns Hill, Shenstone: £1,550,000

On the market with Aston Knowles: 0121 362 7878

THE AGENT SAYS: The White Gables has to be one of the

most outstanding properties to be found in the highly desirable

village of Shenstone. From the moment you walk through

the entrance door, it immediately becomes apparent what a

spectacular home this is.

The reception hall has a welcoming presence with spindle

staircase and Amtico flooring. The formal drawing room is

the most elegant and charming room with a beautiful Minster

fireplace, burnt oak flooring and ornate ceiling décor.

The kitchen, breakfast, family room is totally bespoke and

certainly provides the wow factor. The kitchen area is well

equipped with a range of wall and base units incorporating

a breakfast bar which are complimented with granite work

surfaces. The breakfast area is located next to the bi-folding

doors giving wonderful views over the garden. The family area

is extensive with contemporary gas log burner and French door

leading onto the sun area. White Gables has created what has to

be one of the finest examples of this style room which is highly

desirable and sought after to the modern family.

Spectacular has to be a word to describe the landscaped rear

garden, laid to lawn with mature borders. The creativity of the

seating areas positioned either on stone or decked platforms

throughout the garden, has to be viewed to be appreciated.

The skill that has been utilised to provide lighting, has created

ambience and a relaxing atmosphere. One of the bespoke

features of the garden is the firepit which is operated from the

mains gas. This garden really is magnificent.

W E L O V E : THE UNDERSTATED ELEGANCE

THROUGHOUT - AND THAT GARDEN IS A DREAM!

12


INTERIORS

luxe to

the touch

SUPER soft to touch and oh-so luxurious, velvet

is a welcome trend, bringing a stylishly cosy feel to

interiors as we head into the chillier months. With its

short dense pile and elegant finish, glorious velvet gives

all colours a vibrant feel, and this season autumnal

shades of burnt orange, deep cranberry, rich plum and

bold ochre create a warm and welcoming vibe. Make a

style statement with a striking sofa in luscious velvet to

add a real focal point to your living space. If you don’t

want to invest in a large furniture piece, opt for some

plain velvet cushions or a throw in pretty tones instead.

Velvet is the perfect way to add this season’s allimportant

texture to your interior decor scheme while

also allowing you to express your own personal style.

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ROMERO ARMCHAIR,

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£430

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INTERIORS

Monochrome

magic

IT’S one of interior design’s most enduring looks;

after all, there probably hasn’t been a time when

monochrome didn’t feature in lists of trends to look

out for.

The key to its timeless appeal is in its simplicity; the

marriage of black and white at opposite ends of the

colour spectrum creates a clean, classic vibe which can

be adapted in countless ways to suit your decor tastes.

From smart and contemporary to ultra-modern or

even retro styling, monochrome can find its place in

any room, in any home.

At its most striking, this is a seriously bold look but

you can easily add warmth with accents of wood and

metallics such as gold, bronze and copper to create

a rich elegance. Luxe materials including marble

and velvet add a splash of glamour to the scheme,

and choose accessories in both black and white for a

balanced decorative appeal.

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SHOWSHELL GLOBE HANGING LAMP,

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MAIKO CHAIR IN MATTAN STRIPE

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WEBSTER DRINKS CABINET, £599;

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INTERIORS

Shaping up

APPEALING to fans of architecturally-minded

interior design, geometrics are one of the hottest

home trends to emerge for autumn. From the classic

triangle to the more modern look of honeycomb

hexagons, it’s impossible to get past the minimalist

feel of timeless geometrics.

There’s a big emphasis on strong lines and unique

shapes on everything from wallpaper to cushions,

lampshades and beyond. And you’ll need to think

beyond print for this trend; geometric shapes can be

found hiding just about anywhere – from the base of

a table to styling up mirrors.

A vivid pattern or a well-placed pop of colour can

transform a room, creating depth and a rich contrast.

For bold impact, look at walls or furniture pieces to

make a real statement. For a more subtle approach,

you can soften the look with pastel and neutral hues

and clean lines. Even a simple geometric accessory or

two can bring a room to life.

£16

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BLOOMINGVILLE GEOMETRIC

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F E AT U R E

There’s something about Marco

HE’S THE ORIGINAL CELEBRITY CHEF AND NOW A SUCCESSFUL RESTAURATEUR WITH EATERIES

UP AND DOWN THE COUNTRY - INCLUDING THREE IN BIRMINGHAM. THE ONE AND ONLY

MARCO PIERRE WHITE CHATTED TO AMY NORBURY ABOUT HIS NEW WINE COLLECTION, LIFE

AFTER THE KITCHEN AND HOW HIS CULINARY TASTES HAVE CHANGED

He may have a Michelin starred palate capable of

creating the most exquisite food you could imagine,

but these days it appears that acclaimed chef Marco

Pierre White has somewhat simpler tastes. A classic

chip butty - made with chip-shop chips, slathered in

salt and vinegar and sandwiched between buttery

slices of white bread - is a simple snack which, he

says, really gets his mouth watering.

“I have very working class tastes from growing up

on a council estate,” confesses Marco. “I love a

chip butty but it has to be made with white bread,

in the old days it would have been Mother’s Pride

or Sunblest. When you put on those hot chipshop

chips, with plenty of butter and salt and malt

vinegar, the bread takes on the same texture as the

potato and it’s just delicious.

“And then there’s Warburtons brown bread and

butter; if we serve smoked salmon, or a lobster

cocktail or a crab cocktail, we serve it with sliced

brown bread and butter by Warburtons, cut into

triangles on the side because it’s traditional. It’s

how it was when I started my career as a boy in the

Seventies and that’s right.

“I don’t like this posh bread because it doesn’t

work, it’s not nice; they tried to give me rye bread

somewhere the other day and it just wasn’t right;

the texture and flavour doesn’t work with smoked

salmon, you want something neutral so the salmon is

the hero. Warburtons bread makes the salmon taste

better without dominating.”

Marco is also a huge fan of Birmingham’s very own

Bournville dark chocolate, and Walkers crisps - but

don’t expect to find crisps on offer in any of his

establishments.

“I don’t serve crisps because I think they’re terribly

fattening,” declares the 55-year-old. “But if I did I’d

serve Walkers.

“Walkers are the best crisps in the entire world. One,

26


they’re crispy, and two, they dissolve on impact with

an explosion of flavour. And I particularly don’t

like those posh crisps which are spiky and hurt your

mouth.

“I spent a lot of time in that three Michelin star

world and I understand flavour, I understand texture,

I understand quality, and Walkers crisps are the best

there is.”

These may be surprising admissions from the man

who changed the face of modern cooking. From

humble beginnings on a Leeds council estate, the

outspoken chef exploded onto the British culinary

scene at the tail end of the 1980s when he opened

Harvey’s restaurant in Wandsworth, earning a

Michelin star almost immediately. Star number

two followed, and the restaurant quickly became a

favourite among celebrities and critics alike.

Marco had a reputation as the enfant terrible of the

restaurant world, and tales surrounding his antics

are the stuff of legend. On one occasion when a

customer asked if he could have a side order of

chips with his lunch, Marco hand-cut and personally

cooked the chips, but charged the customer £25

for his time, while a young chef at Harveys who

complained of heat in the kitchen had the back of

his chef ’s jacket and trousers cut open by Marco

wielding a sharp paring knife.

He’s also known to have made a young Gordon

Ramsey - who worked under him at Harvey’s - cry,

and regularly ejected patrons from his restaurants if

he took offence at their comments.

Suddenly cooking was extremely cool - and that was

all down to the Marco effect. But behind the tales

and legends, Marco was simply a culinary genius,

creating gastronomic delights the like of which had

never been seen before; he was the rock star of the

kitchen.

At the age of just 33, as chef-patron of The

Restaurant Marco Pierre White at the Hyde Park

Hotel, he became the first British chef to

win the coveted three Michelin stars - and

the youngest chef ever to do so.

And in true inimitable style, right at the

top of his game Marco decided he’d had

enough and promptly handed his stars back,

retiring from the kitchen at just 38.

Despite the reputation Marco seems to have

mellowed with age, much like a fine wine.

And it is wine which brings us to the Marco

Pierre White Steakhouse and Grill at the top

of The Cube in the heart of Birmingham

on a breezy autumn afternoon - Marco’s

very own wine, in fact.

The wines have been created by Marco alongside

celebrated winemaker Jean-Luc Colombo and will be

exclusively available at Marco’s UK restaurants.

“Jean-Luc Colombo is a great wine-maker, he’s a

genius; he produces the most delicious wine and he

makes it affordable,” says Marco.

The Jean-Luc Colombo Marco Pierre White Blanc,

made from Vermentino with a splash of Sauvignon

Blanc, is perfect with seafood dishes, while the Jean-

Luc Colombo Marco Pierre White Rosé is light, dry

and subtle, perfect with fresh food flavours of the

Mediterranean and the Jean-Luc Colombo Marco


WHEN J’AIME MET MARCO

Pierre White Rouge is a rich and generous Syrah

with no oak, just lush, spicy fruit - it’s quite delicious.

“I think what’s important, for me anyway, is to drink

good wine when you eat,” says Marco. “And if a

bottle of wine costs four or five quid more, and you

get five glasses out of a bottle of wine, what’s an

extra quid a glass to have quality?

“We can buy a bottle of wine for £18 in a restaurant

and it’s of a standard, let’s just say that. But for

£22.50 you can have a very, very good wine, and I

prefer to go down that route.

“You’ve got people working in the kitchen who

are producing food of a very good standard, why

compromise their position by serving a mediocre

wine? You can call me a snob, I don’t care. But if I

have a good quality steak - and our steaks come from

Campbell’s who have the royal crest and supply the

Queen - let’s serve good wine with it.

“I came from very humble beginnings and I think

that when you go out for dinner it’s a luxury. You can

cook a steak at home but when you go to a restaurant

you want a steak of a certain standard, cooked

beautifully, and a good

glass of wine with it.

I’d rather pay a little

bit more for quality,

instead of saving a few

quid.

“I’m the same as

anyone else; I look at

my bill at the end of

the night and think,

was that good value?

Did we have a good

night? And that’s what

we’re in the business

of, selling a good night.

“We can buy steak for

our restaurants for

less than we pay, but we choose not to. The problem

is when you get steak at a restaurant which is a bit

tough because it hasn’t been hung sufficiently you

blame the chef, not the butcher, and that’s me being

brutally honest. There are certain things you can’t

compromise on, you have to start at a standard. Our

beef is all 35-day aged; we could buy beef that’s 21-

day aged but it’s not the same.”

Simplicity and quality are mantras Marco lives by

nowadays - sitting down to extravagant Michelinstarred

meals just doesn’t have the same appeal any

more.

“Nowadays I’m eating to live, I’m not eating to grow,

so one course is enough for me,” says Marco. “Give

me a great bowl of rigatoni with bolognese and a

nice glass of chianti, or a great steak with a glass of

Jean-Luc Colombo’s red wine and it’s fantastic.

“I’m not really interested in three Michelin starred

food any more; I don’t want 18 courses of little knick

knacks of lukewarm food and being lectured at –

that’s not a good night out. That’s why I like bistros

and brasseries, steakhouses and pizzerias.”

With three restaurants in Birmingham city centre - as

well as the Steakhouse there’s Mr White’s English

Chophouse and Bardolino, named after the northern

Italian area where his mother, Maria-Rosa, was born

- Marco spends a lot of time in the Midlands. And he

professes a great fondness for the second city.

“I like working class cities,” says Marco. “This part

of England was the birthplace of the Industrial

Revolution; there’s more talent in Birmingham than

almost any other city in Britain.

“I believe I have a duty whenever I travel to various

cities in the UK, that if we have a business in that

city then I’ll only go there. I think you have to be

28


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loyal to your own establishments and I’m here maybe

15, 20 times a year.”

He’s been married three times and dated more than

his fair share of models and actresses. But there’s

only one lady in Marco’s life right now - his teenage

daughter Mirabelle. The father-of-three lights up

whenever he mentions her name - she’s a student at

the Royal Ballet School and clearly the apple of her

father’s eye.

And far from the hustle and bustle of the kitchen,

these days Marco prefers the quiet life, pottering

around his ‘toy’ farm, which spans around 20 acres

in the countryside near Bath. And he enjoys the

privacy and freedom his own little hideaway allows.

“Before she died, my mother instilled one thing in

me, and that’s my love of nature,” says Marco. It’s

really important to me.”

One of the noticeable things about Marco’s

restaurants is the number of pictures of the man

himself which are on display.

“If I had my way we’d have none of them; I’m

very happy that people around me portray me as a

narcissist,” he laughs wryly. “It doesn’t offend me

though, because when I look at those pictures I don’t

see myself, it was such a long time ago.”

Many of the portraits of Marco were taken by his

great friend Bob Carlos Clarke, who sadly passed

away in 2006. The two worked together on Marco’s

seminal book, White Heat, a book which changed

the image of the culinary world and influenced

the careers of countless Michelin-starred chefs.

Published in 1990, it was part cookbook, part

autobiography and featured black and white shots

of Marco in and out of the kitchen. Two of the

book’s most iconic shots are the ones of Marco with

a cigarette in his mouth, and one with a cleaver in his

hand.

“We have one of the largest collections of Bob

Carlos Clarke pictures in the world,” says Marco.

“We have the collection from the last exhibition he

did and we’ve kept it as one, in memory of Bob. I’m

an emotional guy and that’s very important to me, to

keep his last collection together.”

Marco’s incredible story could soon be played out

on the big screen; Gladiator director Ridley Scott

is slated to make the film, while three actors will

play Marco at various stages of his life. Michael

Fassbender is first choice for the middle Marco, with

Russell Crowe rumoured to be in talks for the third

incarnation.

As a chef, Marco was well known for his fiery temper.

But, he claims that since hanging up his apron, he’s a

much calmer person.

“I haven’t raised my voice since I was 32,” he says.

“A conversation is an exchange of knowledge, an

argument is an exchange of ignorance.

“I just don’t lose my temper or get angry any more.”

30


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F O O D & D R I N K

Simply superb

IT’S TIME TO LEARN FROM THE MASTER AS MARCO PIERRE WHITE

SHARES A SIMPLE RECIPE TO GIVE YOUR STEAK THE WOW FACTOR

Marco says: “What could be less British-sounding than snails? We are used to seeing them as ‘escargots’ in

French restaurants - drenched in garlic butter and eaten with a forceps-type contraption that closely resembles

an instrument of torture - that we overlook the fact that there are many snail farms right here in the UK. It is

mooted that they actually taste better than their French counterparts.

“I had the pleasure of visiting a snail farm in the West Country that has been selling British snails to British

restaurants for over 20 years, so next time you order ‘escargots’, take a moment to ponder the provenance of

those tiny morsels. This recipe brings out their natural earthy flavours, which marry superbly with steak.”

Grilled rib-eye steak with

garden snails and herbs

Ingredients - serves six

200g unsalted butter, softened

30g parsley, finely chopped

15g shallots, finely chopped

10g garlic, finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2-3 tbsp vegetable oil

6 x 250g rib-eye steaks

36 pre-cooked snails, preferably fresh

but tinned will do

To serve:

Big chips

Béarnaise sauce

Beat the soft butter, parsley, shallots, garlic and a pinch

of salt and pepper together in a mixing bowl. On

clingfilm, roll out the butter mixture into a log about

4cm in diameter, wrap it and chill it for about 25

minutes until it is firm enough to slice.

Rub a little oil on both sides of the steaks and season

them generously with salt and pepper. Cook them

in a red-hot, ridged cast-iron pan or under a red-hot

grill. Cook them on each side for about 3-4 minutes,

depending on thickness, until medium rare. When they

are done, put a generous slice of the garlic and parsley

butter on top of each steak and place under a hot grill

until the butter melts. Set the steaks aside for a few

minutes to rest.

Quickly heat the snails in the remaining garlic butter,

being careful not to burn it.

When the snails are piping hot, arrange six of them on

each steak and serve with big chips and béarnaise sauce.

32


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F O O D & D R I N K

Exquisite dining in style

RENOWNED FOR ITS DESIGNER FASHION AND LUXURY PRODUCE, HARVEY NICHOLS

HAS ANOTHER STRING TO ITS BOW IN THE SHAPE OF A SERIOUSLY STYLISH

BIRMINGHAM RESTAURANT, AS AMY NORBURY DISCOVERS

It’s the first port of call if you’re after a glamorous new

outfit, a pair of designer heels, or if you want to stock

up on the best beauty products in the business. But

Harvey Nichols may not immediately spring to mind

when it comes to fine dining - or any dining, for that

matter.

And that’s something which needs putting right, as

we discovered when J’AIME were invited along to

try out the new autumn menu at the Harvey Nichols

Restaurant in Birmingham’s Mailbox.

Descend the sweeping staircase into the swanky bar

- OK, you can walk in from straight from the beauty

department but the staircase is the way to make an

entrance - and you’re immediately struck by the

opulence of the decor. It has a rather art deco feel,

with sumptuous leather and velvet, gleaming gold and

polished marble creating a seriously stylish setting -

nothing less than you’d expect, though,

from a store whose name has become a

byword for luxury.

And that feeling of understated elegance

continues as you venture into the restaurant

itself. It really has got to be one of the city’s

most stylish eateries.

The focal point of the restaurant is the

huge open kitchen, complete with seating

where diners can watch the chefs at work.

It’s a vote of confidence in the quality of

the cuisine on offer, and adds a whole heap

of theatre to proceedings for those lucky

enough to score a front row seat.

On the Friday evening of our visit, the

restaurant was a little on the quiet side so

we were offered our pick of tables by our

welcoming waiter, opting for the remaining

leather-clad banquette - perfect for a cosy tête-à-tête.

I’d been given the heads-up about the cocktail list just

the night before by a friend who described it as one of

the best places for cocktails in the city, so couldn’t resist

a cheeky aperitif. As well as classic cocktails, there are

some fabulous-sounding in-house concoctions. I opted

for the current cocktail of the month - the Chin Chin,

£11, which combines Jam Jar gin with strawberry and

Champagne jam and Harvey Nichols Champagne

syrup to splendid effect.

I’d already spied the

cocktail I guessed my

husband would plump

for, and he concurred.

The Astoria, £12, is

a heady combination

of Woodford Reserve

bourbon, fresh passion

fruit, passion fruit syrup

and orange bitters.

Long and refreshing,

with a sharpness from

the passion fruit playing

34


nicely against the smokey bourbon and sweet orange, it

was a delightfully decadent drink.

To accompany the meal we also ordered a bottle of

Harvey Nichols Rouge, £22, a medium-bodied, fruitdriven

easy sipper from the Ollieux Romanis winery

in Corbières. The combination of carignan, grenache,

syrah and merlot creates a well-balanced red which

brings juicy, dark fruits and an underlying smokiness.

Having taken a sneaky peek at the menu online

beforehand - it’s always nice to whet the appetite

in advance, I find - we were swift in making our

final decisions. The newly-launched autumn menu

showcases some of the best seasonal flavours, with

produce locally-sourced as far as possible.

To start, I opted for a perennial favourite - mussels

steamed with shallots, garlic, white wine and a touch

of cream, £8. The succulent mussels were perfectly

cooked, in a liquor

that was rich and

deeply satisfying.

And if the mussels

were a tantalising

start, then my

husband’s creamed

truffle tart with

pickled girolles, £8,

was nothing short

of sublime. The

delicate tart, with its

impossibly thin and

wonderfully crisp

pastry, was a thing

of culinary beauty.

The truffle filling was immensely flavourful, with

the generous truffle racing through, and the slightly

sweet pickled girolles providing a lovely contrast to the

creaminess.

Onto the main event, and for me it had to be the

Barbary duck breast with mango, carrot puree and

coriander oil, £15, while my husband stuck to his guns

with fillet steak - served blue - with skinny fries, slowroasted

onion and tomato, £32.

The duck was meltingly tender, cut into thick slices

and still pink in the middle, just how I like it. The rich

gamey flavour perfectly complemented the sweet carrot

puree, and even sweeter mango disks, which added a

refreshing bite to the dish.

My husband’s steak, although more rare than blue, was

beautifully seasoned and simply charred to bring out

the wonderful flavours of the meat - when a steak is that

good, simple treatment is best I think!

Side portions of Pink Fir potatoes, £4, and green beans

with shallots, £4, were worthy accompaniments - the

green beans were particularly moreish.

The dessert menu offers tempting treats such as an

autumnal take of Eton Mess and a sticky treacle tart,

but a couple of dishes immediately stood out for us -

and what delights they were.

My husband’s apple tarte Tatin was finely constructed

with thin slivers of pastry and apple soaked in rich

caramel and served with a sweet vanilla mascarpone.

Delicious as it was, my baked hazelnut cheesecake with

popcorn ice cream and blackberry compote just edged

it. Beautifully presented, this was a dessert as artistic

as it was mouth-watering. Sweet cheesecake infused

with nuttiness and buttery popcorn were adorned

with succulent, sharp seasonal berries, while a sesame

and hazelnut crumble added a layer of texture. It

was divine, and the perfect end to an exquisite dining

experience.

With a menu which hits the culinary high notes,

superb cocktail concoctions and exceptional service,

the Harvey Nichols restaurant really deserves to be one

of the hottest spots in town. As it is, it’s a hidden gem

which is sure to delight any discerning diner. And those

in the know can be suitably smug about discovering one

of the city’s culinary treasures.

35


F O O D & D R I N K

Cocktail of the month

SHAUN CRAVEN, FROM LE RÊVE COCKTAIL BAR IN LICHFIELD, SHARES A DELICIOUSLY

SWEET AND LUXURIOUSLY CREAMY CONCOCTION FOR YOU TO TRY AT HOME

Butter-Beer Cocktail

25ml vanilla vodka

25ml butterscotch liquor

12.5ml caramel

100ml double cream

12.5ml vanilla syrup

50ml Ginger beer

Add 25ml vanilla vodka, 25ml butterscotch liquor and

12.5ml caramel syrup to your Boston shaker. Fill with ice

and shake, then strain into your glass filled with ice and add

your 50ml ginger beer. Then into the same Boston shaker

(now empty) add your 100ml double cream and 12.5ml

vanilla syrup (no ice this time) and shake vigorously. Pour

slowly into glass to float on top.

36


Citma at Pom’s 2017

Introducing Bottomless Party Night with live music

from Keegan Hammond on Selected Dates

Santa’s Sunday Lunch perfect for all the Family

Sunday 17th December 12 noon till 6pm

Boxing Day and New Year’s Day Brunch

10am till 4pm

Serving fresh fruit cocktails

with passion and flare

For more information please pop in and pick up your

Christmas leaflet or download from our website.

T&C’s Apply to our offers and events

01543 250 085 info@pomskitchen.uk

POM’S KITCHEN & LICHFIELD, 20-22 BIRD STREET, LICHFIELD, WS13 6PR

pomskitchen.uk

LE RÊVE COCKTAIL BAR - 26 BIRD STREET - LICHFIELD

PHONE: 01543 253 663 - WWW.LEREVE-BAR.COM

FACEBOOK: LE REVE COCKTAIL BAR LICHFIELD - INSTAGRAM: LE_REVE_BAR

- COCKTAIL MASTERCLASSES AVAILABLE - PRIVATE TABLES/AREAS FOR ALL OCCASIONS

- DJ’s EVERY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY - LIVE MUSIC EVERY SUNDAY - OPEN EVERY EVENING

- OPEN TILL 1AM EVERY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY - OVER 21’s ONLY

POP UP MICHELIN STAR

FINE DINING EVENTS

We regularly deliver sell out, pop up fine dining experiences by Michelin starred chefs and highly

commended chefs who showcase their food and talents right here in Lichfield

To be notified of future events please visit saucesupperclub.co.uk and join the mailing list, or follow us on Twitter @saucesupperclub

Please advise any dietary requirements at time of booking

30TH OCT 2017 | MATT CHEAL 20TH NOV 2017 | TOM KERRIDGE AND FRIENDS 18TH DEC 2017 | LIAM DILLON

Tom Kerridge 2 Michelin star

The Hand and Flowers, Marlow

Luke Tipping 1 Michelin star

Simpsons of Edgbaston

Brad Carter 1 Michelin star

Carters of Moseley

Adam Bennett 1 Michelin star

The Cross at Kenilworth

Richard Turner 1 Michelin star

Turners at 69, Harborne

Rob Palmer 1 Michelin star

Peels at Hampton Manor, Solihull

Matt Cheal, Chef Patron of Cheals of

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Liam Dillon, The Boat Inn, Lichfield

£75 per head, 7 course tasting menu

with entertainment at The Boat Inn,

Muckley Corner, Lichfield

@saucesupperclub.co.uk /saucesupperclub.co.uk

Book online at www.saucesupperclub.co.uk

For more information please email beth@saucesupperclub.co.uk


F O O D & D R I N K

Stars align for Lichfield dining spectacular

TOM KERRIDGE HEADLINES A STELLAR LINE-UP OF CHEFS FOR LICHFIELD-BASED

SAUCE SUPPER CLUB’S MICHELIN-STARRED FEAST AT ALREWAS HAYES NEXT MONTH

Sauce Supper Club is hosting a Michelin star

spectacular at Alrewas Hayes, near Lichfield, on

November 20, where the main focus of the event, with

live music and a champagne reception, is its stunning

six-course menu - designed and delivered by six

different Michelin star chefs and their teams, including

two Michelin-starred Tom Kerridge.

Joining Tom in the kitchen for the evening is an

exciting line up of world-class chefs, who will each

serve one course, including Luke Tipping (one

Michelin star) of Simpsons of Edgbaston; Brad

Carter (one Michelin star) of Carters of Moseley;

Richard Turner (one Michelin star) of Turners at

69, Harborne; Rob Palmer (one Michelin star) of

Hampton Manor, Solihull; and Adam Bennett (one

Michelin star) of The Cross in Kenilworth.

The event is taking place in the stunning Grand

Pavilion, part of the completely refurbished Alrewas

Hayes, a much sought-after destination wedding venue

owned by Toby and Bonnie Williams.

Sauce Supper Club is the brainchild of local couple

Jon and Beth Toovey, who wanted to deliver a new fine

dining experience in Lichfield and have spent the last

year organising regular, Michelin star chef events in

the area.

“The evening we have planned at Alrewas Hayes is

incredibly special,” explains Beth. “I don’t actually

know of anything similar where such an amazing

offering has been brought together for one event in

Lichfield. We wanted to do something really big for

our end-of-year event and we are so excited to bring

together such talented chefs for this amazing gourmet

experience.”

Tom Kerridge is the incredibly popular and loveable

chef patron at the extraordinary two Michelinstarred

The Hand and Flowers pub in Marlow. In

2014, Tom took on the challenge of opening another

restaurant, The Coach, which is also in Marlow. It is

a relaxed modern pub, open all day, every day serving

breakfast, lunch, dinner and pub snacks and has a noreservation

policy.

Tom is well-known for his part on several television

series including The Great British Menu, Saturday

Kitchen and BBC’s Food and Drink, and has published

many books. His latest book, Tom Kerridge’s

Dopamine Diet, has been his best-selling book to date;

upon it’s release it soared to number one across all

hardback non-fiction book charts and has remained

a best-selling title ever since. The book is filled with

recipes that helped Tom to lose an incredible 11 stone.

Tickets, at £150 per head, have already started to sell

and it is expected to be a sell-out very soon. All details

are on the saucesupperclub.co.uk website.

38


The Pear

Tree

c r ê p e r i e

Good Morning

tatlowcarpets

& flooring

Quality flooring at affordable prices

Abingdon, Adam’s, Associated Weavers, Axminster, Brintons, Brockways,

Cormar, Crucial Trading, Penthouse, Ulsters, Karndean & Project Floors

Free estimates ✔ Free advice ✔ Free quotations ✔

Furniture moved ✔ Our own regular fitters ✔

Christmas

10-11.30am daily

With FREE Tea or Coffee

Fresh Berries & Fromage

Frais, Salmon & Cream

Cheese or for larger appetites

we have Smokey Bacon,

Cheese & Mushrooms.

From £5.90

Photos taken at The Creperie

* Turkey steeped in chardonnay

* Pulled pork with sage & onion stuffing

* Cherry filling with ice cream and a brandy flambé

* Stewed apples sultanas ice cream and cinnamon

Book your Christmas party

at The Creperie

Friday & Saturday evenings from 7.15pm

Set menus available

Live music with accordionist Barry Smith

Friday 15th December at 7.15pm

Call to book on 01543 481807

or email: enquiries@peartreecreperie.co.uk

Find us just off the A38 at the Heart of the Country

Shopping Village, Swinfen, Lichfield WS14 9QR

Daytime opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday: 10am-4.30pm

Evening opening hours: Friday & Saturday: 7.15pm-11pm

peartreecreperie.co.uk

LOOKS GOOD EVERYWHERE

IN THE HOME...

PROFESSIONALLY FITTED

ALL FLOORING FULLY GUARANTEED

THE NEW PARQUET

FLOORING RANGE IS NOW

AVAILABLE IN STORE

Please see our website for further details

www.tatlowcarpets.co.uk

Tel: 01543 264766

email: jayne.beard@tatlowcarpets.co.uk

Open to the public. Mon-Fri: 9.00am - 5.00pm. Sat: 10.00am - 4.00pm

Unit 4, Europa Way, Britannia Enterprise Park, Lichfield, Staffs, WS14 9TZ


F O O D & D R I N K

Decadent dessert

JAMES POMLETT, OWNER OF POM’S KITCHEN IN LICHFIELD, SHARES AN

INDULGENT DESSERT RECIPE WHICH IS SURE TO BE A CROWD-PLEASER

Delicious desserts feature heavily on the newly launched

autumn menu at Pom’s Kitchen - and we think that

the star of the show is none other than this amazing,

chocolatey brownie. It’s the kind of dessert every sweettoothed

diner will love - so why not give it a go the next

time you’re entertaining?

The autumn menu is packed with delicious dishes

created using the best ingredients from excellent local

suppliers, including bread from the newly-opened Bore

St Bakery in Lichfield.

To coincide with the new season menu, Pom’s has

also undergone a bit of a makeover, with swanky new

seating and some stylish decor additions to add to the

restaurant’s charm.

Enjoy!

POM’S BROWNIE

POM’S KITCHEN OWNER

JAMES POMLETT

Decadent chocolate

brownies

100g unsalted butter

250g caster sugar

75g honey

275g dark chocolate

4 eggs

70g plain flour

POM’S KITCHEN HAS

UNDERGONE A

MAKEOVER

Over a low heat gently melt the butter, sugar and

honey together. Do not boil. Take off the heat and

add the dark chocolate. Mix until smooth. Whisk in

the eggs one at a time then add the plain flour, mixing

until smooth.

Pour into a mould lined with greaseproof paper and

bake in the oven at 180C for approximately 30 mins

or until fully cooked through. If unsure insert a knife

into the top and if it comes out gooey then bake the

brownie for little longer.

40


• The best in care and assessed in 2017 as Good In All Categories by the CQC •

• Restaurant quality dining with professional kitchens led by our award-wining chef, Martin McKee •

• All-inclusive and excellent value for money for the quality care and services provided •

• Sector-leading Well-being Programme to support mind, body and soul •

• Monthly Coffee Mornings on the first Wednesday of every month •

S H O W R O O M S A L W A Y S O P E N T O V I E W

Call 01922 262692

or Search ‘Hawthorns Aldridge’

See our lovely home life at facebook.com/TheHawthornsAldridge

The Hawthorns Aldridge | Erdington Road | Aldridge | West Midlands | WS9 8UH


T R AV E L

Treetop marvels

OLIVER, FROM LICHFIELD LUXURY TRAVEL EXPERTS RB COLLECTION, TRANSPORTS US TO SWEDEN’S WORLD-

FAMOUS TREE HOTEL FOR A NIGHT OF SERENITY, ESCAPING EVERYDAY LIFE TO BE AT ONE WITH NATURE

THE CABIN

Let’s clear something up from the start: this is not

a tree house. Nor is it a hotel in a tree. These are

architectural, artistic, engineering and scientific

marvels; some suspended high in the woods, some

leaning on trees, each offering guests the chance to

spend the night deep in the heart of rural Sweden -

totally at one with nature.

Yes, they have wifi, mobile phone reception,

electricity and so on - but leave everything switched

off to gaze soothingly out of your picture window

or skylight and just breathe. Let the Northern

Lights dance and entertain you. This is the art of

‘disconnecting’ and something which I believe we

shall be searching for more and more as our modern

lives begin to engulf our every thought, movement

and decision.

If the thought of escaping to an area of pure, natural

beauty and the chance to experience one of the

world’s most unique places to sleep - in sumptuous

comfort, I may add - appeals then let me transport

you to the Tree Hotel.

The story behind the hotel is heart-warming. Kent

and Britta needed an idea to drive visitors to their

quaint little pensionat in the village of Harads,

Sweden. Situated alongside the Lule river, the

location was picturesque to say the least and the

view from the hill high up behind the guest house

stunning. Rolling hills, beautiful tall and strong

forests; total peace and quiet. Britta had high hopes

for her new venture, but sadly the visitors were less

forthcoming than expected.

Luckily, Kent had a friend who’d built a tree house

around 6km away from the guest house. A film

crew documented the project and after they left,

Kent arranged to rent it out as somewhere fun and

different to stay, with the hopes it would be linked to

Britta’s pensionat. The logistics were not that great,

though, with Britta having to make the 6km drive

just to change the bed!

THE TREE HOTEL ENJOYS

A STUNNING LOCATION

IN RURAL SWEDEN

42


INTERIORS ARE MODERN

SCANDINAVIAN DESIGNER

STYLE

It did, however, gain a lot of attention and that’s

when the lightbulb struck. Behind the main house

was plenty of land - and trees - and amazing views.

The area is a popular Northern Lights-watching spot

for visitors and a range of activities such as husky

rides and snowmobiling are already offered by local

companies. An opportunity ensued. Kent soon got

together the architects and off they went, to create

fun, unique hotel rooms in the trees.

Britta enthusiastically told me that, even before

they had started building the houses, they were

bombarded with press queries which resulted

in booking requests; neither of which they were

prepared for. Provisional designs ended

up making the front cover of architectural

magazines and the Tree Hotel brand

was quickly established, becoming a

phenomenon overnight - no building had

even commenced.

The interest poured in and soon,

television crews from around the world

were documenting the construction and

opening. Britta and Kent have never

looked back and today there are seven

accommodations in the trees to choose

from, each completely different.

I visited the Tree Hotel during the first

weekend of September. The weather

was just turning with autumnal leaves

and changeable conditions which only added to

the experience. I had just left the first stop on my

Swedish weekend adventure - the Ice Hotel, where

you can now sleep all year round in their permanent

building - for the drive of around three-and-a-half

hours to Harads. The drive was peaceful with long

stretches surrounded by forests, climbs over hilltops,

past lakes and reservoirs, through

traditional, quaint Swedish villages

and alongside the popular train line

which would be the preferred mode

of transport between the two hotels

in winter time. With very little traffic,

it was an easy journey and one I can

highly recommend during the warmer

months when there is no snow around.

On arrival at the Tree Hotel you are

transported back in time to a home

from the early 1900s. Decorated with

posters, trinkets and items collected over

the years, it was fun to see Britta proud

of her guest house, and you really feel a

sense of walking into someone’s home.

This is where you check in and take

breakfast and dinner, and we couldn’t

have been made to feel more welcome.

With great enthusiasm and intrigue we began the

walk that would take us through small grassy fields

and up through woodland before we finally stumbled

upon the hanging marvels that make up the Tree

Hotel. As we approached and caught sight of the

Cabin, we stopped, looked at each other and let out

a soft ‘wow’ which slowly disappeared into the forest.

It was silent all around; the sun had come out with

perfect timing and I quickly reached for my camera

to take my first (of many) photographs while the

light perfectly pierced the trees and reflected off the

various angles of the rooms.

THE INCREDIBLE MIRROR

CUBE REFLECTS ITS

SURROUNDINGS

I am so lucky to have travelled far and wide with

my job but I had simply never seen anything

quite like it and I was totally speechless. After we

passed underneath the Cabin we were introduced

to a handful of the other rooms, each completely

different and hanging or resting peacefully, waiting to

be explored.

We rushed straight away to the UFO, reminiscent

43


of something from the 80s family film Flight of the

Navigator. A sudden rush of childhood memories

came flooding back as we gazed up at the hanging

structure. Today’s UFO experience would begin with

a big red button the side of the nearest tree; once

pressed a mechanical ladder would begin to fold

out from its underbelly. Not quite the organic metal

witnessed in the Hollywood film but our own, more

realistic version was equally impressive. Stairs firmly

on the ground, it was time to ascend into the room

from outer space. Inside was a cutely fitted out spacethemed

interior with space for a small family, small

portholes with fun views the surrounding woodland

while cute touches such as a working desk with spacethemed

apparel add to the experience. After a quick

THE BIRDS NEST ALLOWS

VISITORS TO TRULY BE AT

ONE WITH NATURE

look around it was time to get back down to Earth

and watch the mechanical stairs rise once again to

seal shut the house from outer space.

As expected, this was one of the more fun and

conceptual hanging marvels to choose from. Others

which would appeal to the imagination included the

Birds Nest, completed covered in twigs, blending

naturally with the woods.

The Seventh Room is one of two newer hanging

houses, both of which are the only ones to come

with more luxurious comforts, a small kitchen, living

room and more space to accommodate

larger families and groups. Accessed

by conventional stairs, the furnishings

were more reminiscent of modern

Scandinavian style with light wood,

design-led furniture and fun touches

such as a netted outdoor relaxing

area made of strong (thank goodness!)

criss-cross rope often used in modern

children playgrounds. And this Seventh

Room was certainly designed with the

child at heart. You get all the modern comforts plus

the opportunity to lie around and relax outdoors

on this netting next to your bedroom or living area

among the trees to watch the daytime birdlife or

night-time aurora borealis dance, all ten metres up

in the air. A small walkway around the netting (with

glass balcony to offer safety) allows you to experience

the views for those a little more faint-hearted.

We continued exploring and discovered the sauna

block, home also to the traditional shower facilities

for those houses without showers of their own. There

was also the Mirror Cube, which is understandably

the most photographed of all the houses, perfectly

positioned to reflect images of the trees around it.

After wandering through the silent woods, it was

time to enter our own home for the night.

We had been allocated the Blue Cone,

which is actually red. Apparently, they had

intended it to be blue but it looked better in

red, so they stuck with the colour, but also

stuck with the original name. Considering

the location and surrounding of other

quirky constructions we didn’t question

this; instead we ventured up the ramp (this

one is wheelchair accessible), turned the key

and wow; we were home.

One of the less conceptual, more homely

houses, the Blue Cone offers a modern

whitewashed Swedish interior, with a fun

mezzanine for little ones who can look

up to the natural outdoors through their

skylight. A huge square picture window

offers direct views from the master bed

which is built into a cosy nook, with two comfortable

design chairs sitting either side offering another way

to witness the superb scenery. While less unique, the

Blue Cone was just what we needed after a few crazy

days at the Ice Hotel. It was so comfortable, homely

and relaxing that I could have drifted off there and

then with the Swedish forests beyond to keep me

company. Instead was time to head for dinner.

The pensionat has a main dining area plus a few

smaller rooms, which is where we sat for a lovely

private dining experience. Starting with a tasty dish

THE SEVENTH ROOM IS

THE LATEST ADDITION TO

THE TREE HOTEL

44


of locally-caught salmon, the main course

brought us moose and reindeer, cooked to

perfection with hearty vegetables and tasty

berries for flavour. Desserts are always a real

treat in Sweden and we enjoyed silky smooth

ice cream with more local berries which

boosted the colour and taste of the whole

culinary evening. The ambiance and decor of

the guest house juxtaposes brilliantly with the

unique tree hotel accommodation.

Needless to say, we enjoyed a wonderful night

in our tree home. It was absolute bliss to be

at one with the natural surroundings. We

decided to leave the blind up so we could

drift off with the vista beyond keeping a close

eye on us.

Morning soon came around, and there’s

nothing quite like waking to a natural fadein

of light. The scene was very different this

morning with thick, dense fog surrounding

us. Perfect I thought for a few more photos,

contrasting nicely with yesterday’s summer sunshine

scenes.

Most visitors would stay for a couple of nights and

make use of the opportunity to partake in a range of

activities, but sadly, it was time to leave. Not before,

however, I had one last quick walk around the woods

and a look at each hanging marvel one last time; it

was after all a very special place and one would never

know when we may return. A sumptuous breakfast

ensued as we caught up with Britta and Kent before

we said our goodbyes.

Without a doubt, the Tree Hotel is one of the

most wondrous places to visit and stay. I can highly

recommend it as to anyone seeking an escape from

the everyday; it will certainly create memories that

will live with you forever.

Travel facts

WHERE IS IT? In the village of Harads, Sweden.

HOW DO I GET THERE? Fly to Lulea then it’s a oneand-a-half

hour drive.

CURRENCY: Swedish Krona.

WHAT IS THERE TO DO? In the winter, there are husky

and snowmobile trips, ice fishing & much more. The

northern lights start to come out to play from around

September through to May. In the summer, there are a

range out outdoor pursuits including white water rafting,

bear spotting, kayaking, hiking, cycling, mountain archery

as well as a selection of family pursuits plus tree dining!

EXAMPLE PACKAGE: Combine the Tree Hotel and

Ice Hotel for a three-night break from £1,299 per

person, including flights, transfers, accommodation with

breakfast and evening dinner plus our exclusive info

booklet written by our Sweden holiday experts.

Reader offer

BOOK YOUR HOLIDAY TO THE TREE HOTEL

WITH RB COLLECTION BEFORE DECEMBER 30,

2017, AND RECEIVE A COMPLIMENTARY TREE

SAUNA EXPERIENCE DURING YOUR STAY.

MENTION J’AIME WHEN YOU ENQUIRE.

THE UFO IS A

FUTURISTICALLY

FUN ROOM

FOR DETAILS VISIT

WWW.RBCOLLECTION.COM/JAIME

OR CALL OLIVER ON 01543 258631.

45


LO CA L A R E A

What’s On Local

YOUR GUIDE TO THE BEST OF WHAT’S ON IN AND AROUND

SUTTON COLDFIELD, LICHFIELD, WALSALL AND BEYOND

WHAT:

Middleton Motors

Monthly

WHERE:

Middleton Hall

WHEN: October 1

What better backdrop

for an eclectic display of

vehicles than Middleton

Hall, with its moated

collection of Tudor and

Georgian Grade II listed

buildings? Middleton Motors Monthly regularly attracts

around 100 motor enthusiasts gathered in vehicles old

and new, fast and slow, to share their common love of

unusual motors. There is an overriding sense of pride in

the buffed paintwork and polished chrome, but it’s the

friendly atmosphere which keeps people returning.

Entrance is £4 per show car, or £5 per adult if you

are not showing a car, with under 18s free. Entrance

includes access to the main hall and grounds, walled

gardens and old buildings housing museum displays. For

more details visit www.middleton-hall.co.uk.

WHAT:

Barberama:

Welcome to

the Cabaret

WHERE:

Lichfield Guildhall

WHEN:

October 7

What do you get if you mix an excellent group of singers,

clarinetists and guitarists? With Barberama’s Welcome to

the Cabaret, you are assured of a great welcome and a

fantastic evening’s entertainment from a great group of

amateur performers who have come together to put on

their very first big show.

In their eight-year existence, Barberama have gone from

strength to strength, performing classic barbershop style,

popular show songs plus songs of fun and yesteryear to

raise money for various charities. Having received many

encouraging reviews, this year they took the plunge of

booking Lichfield’s Guildhall to put on their very own

first full-length show featuring two guests, the Lichfield

U3A Guitar group Don’t Fret, and a newly formed group

Clarinet Allsorts. On this occasion they will be raising funds

for Lichfield Pathway Project through a raffle. Tickets are

priced £8 from S&J Music, 23 Bird Street, Lichfield or

email tickets@barberama.org.uk.

WHAT:

Scummy Mummies

WHERE:

Sutton Coldfield Town Hall

WHEN:

October 7

The Scummy Mummies Show is

an evening of laughs for less-thanperfect

parents. Comedians Helen

Thorn and Ellie Gibson cover a

wide range of parenting topics,

from pelvic floors and play-dates

to farting and fish fingers. Expect

songs, sketches, stand-up and very scummy stories!

Based on the UK’s number one kids and family podcast, as recommended by The Guardian, The Sunday

Times, The Telegraph and BBC’s Woman’s Hour, The Scummy Mummies’ straight-talking humour is

something most parents can relate to. The Scummy Mummies book is out now – Ellie and Helen will be

selling and signing copies after the performance. For more details visit www.townhallsuttoncoldfield.co.uk.

46


WHAT:

Wait Until Dark

WHERE:

Lichfield Garrick

WHEN:

October 10 to 14

From the hand of Frederick Knott, author of Dial M For

Murder, and the producers behind Night Must Fall and

Birdsong, comes a major revival of the classic, edge-ofyour-seat,

thriller Wait Until Dark.

Set amidst the social turbulence of 1960s London, the

play follows the story of Suzy, a blind woman, who

left alone in her apartment becomes embroiled with a

group of conmen hatching an elaborate scam. As the

tension mounts, Suzy is left to fend for herself but with

the phone line cut dead and the house plunged into

darkness, can Suzy outwit the murderous visitors?

Wait Until Dark, made into a film starring Audrey

Hepburn in 1967, is often ranked as one of the top 100

scariest films of all time and this exciting new production

- starring Prime Suspect’s Jack Ellis and Oliver Mellor,

best known as Coronation Street’s Dr Matt Carter -

reclaims it for the stage. For more details visit

www.lichfieldgarrick.com.

WHAT: Screamfest

WHERE:

National Forest

Adventure Farm

WHEN:

Selected dates from

October 12 to 31

Prepare to be scared

this Halloween season as Screamfest is back and more

terrifying than ever, with five thrilling scare attractions to chill

your bones. In Love Hurts Professor Heart wants you to find

your soulmate at one of his famous speed dating nights. Just

pray you’re not one of the rejected… Roll up, roll up and

enter Freakout, full of crazy clown antics, frightful freaks and

terrorising terrors. In Soul Seekers you’ll join a TV crew as

they investigate the abandoned Helton Grand Hotel. Dare

you risk your soul and enter new scare Demonica? You will

be blinded by the pitch black with only the smell of sulphur,

the rush of air and the screams of the damned. In the maize

maze join the Dia de los Muertos festival.

Between scare attractions, enjoy the live entertainment

including extreme performers, live DJ, zombie paintball and

street theatre.But don’t enjoy yourself too much; you never

know what’s around the next corner. For more details visit

www.screamfest.co.uk.

WHAT:

Dangerous

Obsession

WHERE:

Sutton Arts

Theatre

WHEN:

October 26 to November 4

The peaceful lives of a married couple, Mark and Sally

Driscoll, are disturbed by the sudden arrival of John

Barrett, a man whom they had met vaguely on a past trip

to Torquay. With a sinister score to settle, Barrett enters the

Driscoll home hellbent on vengeance; will things ever be

the same again?

Written by acclaimed television dramatist NJ Crisp - whose

work includes The Brothers, Colditz and Dr Finlay’s

Casebook - Dangerous Obsession is a psychological

thriller that has so many twists and turns in the plot that

the audience will be kept in suspense throughout. This

production will have the audience on the edge of their

seats; don’t forget to lock your doors when you get home

and be careful who is watching. For more details visit

www.suttonartstheatre.co.uk.

GET INVOLVED: Have you got a local event

you’d like to promote? Then we’d love to hear

from you. From charity nights to local theatre

productions and more, send details to editor@

jaimemagazine.com and you could see your

event on these pages.

WHAT:

Sky-Fi: A

Galactic

Gathering

WHERE:

Drayton

Manor

WHEN:

October

27 to 29

Enjoy the last few days of Drayton Manor’s main season

in style with a spectacular fireworks display; the perfect

way to end a day of thrills and spills in the popular

theme park. The science fiction-themed display, Sky-

Fi: A Galactic Gathering, will leave guests enthralled

and entertained by fireworks set to music from popular

classics such as Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars and

Guardians of the Galaxy and many more.

Many rides will remain open, so the thrills can continue

into the evening. Europe’s first stand-up rollercoaster,

Shockwave, Air Race, which takes riders on an aerial

adventure and the drop-tower Apocalypse, will be among

those open until late.

For the younger visitors, there is Thomas Land, home

to more than 25 rides and attractions based on the ever

popular Thomas and Friends series, which families can

enjoy during the day before heading to the spectacular

fireworks finale. There are substantial discounts for

booking in advance online - visit www.draytonmanor.

co.uk/fireworks for more details.

47


LO CA L A R E A

What’s on Second City

A LOOK AT SOME OF THE BIGGEST AND BEST EVENTS

TAKING PLACE ACROSS BIRMINGHAM THIS MONTH

WHAT:

Glynn Purnell’s Friday

Night Kitchen

WHERE:

The Vox, Resorts World

WHEN:

October 6

Glynn Purnell’s Friday Night Kitchen is a live culinary

experience, with the added ingredients of laughter

and great entertainment! It’s all about letting your hair

down, kicking up your heels and enjoying a fun Friday

night with the people who mean the most to you. Enjoy

a delicious three-course menu created by Michelinstarred

chef Glynn, as well as live music from Sam

Bailey and the Subterraneans. There’s also the chance

to ‘Win Glynn’ included in the ticket price. The lucky

winning ticket will have the ‘Yummy Brummie’ and his

Purnell’s team come to their house to cook sunday lunch

for up to six people.

All funds raised through the event are donated to Cure

Leukaemia, Glynn’s chosen charity of which he is a

trustee. For more details visit www.gpfnk.co.uk.

WHAT:

Squeeze: Join

The Dots tour

WHERE:

Birmingham

Symphony Hall

WHEN:

October 6 and 7

London legends Squeeze are starting an extensive run of UK

dates with two shows at Symphony Hall this month. This

follows the success of their North American tour in 2016 and

the incredible reception to their 2015 album Cradle To The

Grave, the band’s first release of new songs in 17 years. The

follow-up, The Knowledge, is set for release this month.

Formed by Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook in 1974,

Squeeze are best known for their hit songs such as Cool for

Cats, Up the Junction, Slap and Tickle, Another Nail in My

Heart, Pulling Mussels (from the Shell), Tempted, Labelled

with Love, Black Coffee in Bed and Hourglass. The line-up

has gone through several changes over the years and past

members include keyboard maestro Jools Holland and Paul

Carrack, who went on to join Mike and the Mechanics. For

more details visit www.thsh.co.uk.

WHAT:

Birmingham Comedy Festival

WHERE: Various venues across the city

WHEN:

October 6 to 15

Birmingham Comedy Festival is the annual 10-day citywide

mirth-filled extravaganza that mixes big comedy names

with emerging talent. This year’s festival sees more than 60

performances including Greg Davies, Doctor Who and Little

Britain star Matt Lucas, Brian Pern (aka Simon Day), Henning

Wehn, and Monty Python musical Spamalot! You can also look

out for appearances from Simon Amstell, Mrs Barbara Nice, Phill

Jupitus, Comedy Central’s Impractical Jokers and two chances to

catch Joe Lycett.

The Birmingham Comedy Festival has been drawing attention

to the city’s vibrant (and often unsung) comedy scene since

2001 when the debut festival hit the road running thanks to

appearances from Peter Kay and Sean Lock in a programme of

more than 40 events. Since then, the festival has grown into one

of the largest independent arts festival in the region. For more

details visit www.bhamcomfest.co.uk.

48


WHAT:

Cilla - The Musical

WHERE:

New Alexandra Theatre

WHEN:

October 10 to 14

Cilla - The Musical is the

new spectacular and heartwarming

musical adaptation of the critically acclaimed

hit ITV television series by Bafta Award winner, Jeff Pope.

It tells the extraordinary story of the teenage girl from

Liverpool whose teenage dreams of stardom lead to her

becoming one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers of all

time.

It’s an introduction by a young John Lennon to music

mogul Brian Epstein that changes Priscilla White’s life

forever. By the age of just 25 she would be known as

singer and TV Star Cilla Black, Number One selling artist

and at the forefront of the Brit-Pop music scene

The musical score is the ultimate soundtrack to the 60’s

including Cilla’s greatest hits Anyone Who Had a Heart,

Alfie and Something Tells Me, Twist and Shout by the

Beatles, California Dreamin by The Mamas and The

Papas’ and many more. For more details visit

www.atgtickets.co.uk/birmingham.

WHAT:

Disney On Ice

presents Passport

to Adventure

WHERE:

Arena Birmingham

WHEN:

October 18 to 29

Celebrate the most memorable Disney tales with all your

favourite characters in Disney On Ice presents Passport to

Adventure. Join Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald,

Goofy and Daisy on a journey to the timeless worlds of

Disney’s The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan,

and Disney’s Frozen.

Explore the African Pride Lands with Simba and friends,

voyage to Ariel’s underwater kingdom and fly from

London to Neverland with Peter Pan and Wendy to meet

up with Tinker Bell. You’ll also travel to Arendelle for

an extraordinary adventure with sisters Anna and Elsa,

mountain man Kristoff and the huggable snowman Olaf.

What’s more, don’t miss the pre-show party! Enjoy every

second of this sensational show – starting with the chance

to warm up at the fabulously fun Fit to Dance pre-show

featuring Zootropolis!

Upbeat music, lovable characters and unforgettable

moments make Disney On Ice presents Passport to

Adventure an experience your family will cherish forever!

For more details visit www.arenabham.co.uk.

WHAT:

Crazy For You

WHERE:

Birmingham

Hippodrome

WHEN:

October 24

to 28

High energy, high kicking and gloriously glamorous,

the acclaimed Watermill Theatre production of Crazy

for You is the ultimate feel-good musical starring Tom

Chambers, Caroline Flack and Charlotte Wakefield,

featuring a fabulous score from the Gershwin brothers’

songbook

Crazy For You charts the troubled love story of Bobby,

son of a wealthy New York banking family and

frustrated Broadway hoofer, and Polly, daughter of the

proprietor of a failing theatre in Deadrock, Nevada.

Sent to close the theatre down, Bobby falls for Polly and,

in the guise of a Hungarian impresario, decides to save

the theatre by putting on a show. Mistaken identities,

heartbreak, happiness and a wealth of memorable tunes

all feature in this exhilarating celebration of the great

Broadway musicals. For more details visit

www.birminghamhippodrome.com.

WHAT:

Emeli Sandé

WHERE:

BGenting Arena

WHEN:

October 25

Emeli Sandé heads

to Birmingham’s

Genting Arena

this month as part

of the tour in support of her hugely acclaimed and

highly anticipated second studio album, Long Live

The Angels, which was released in November 2016.

Since winning the Brit Awards Critics’ Choice Award

in 2012, Emeli has two number-one singles across the

UK and Ireland with Read All About It with Professor

Green and Beneath Your Beautiful, a collaboration

with Labrinth. Her debut album Our Version of

Events spent ten non-consecutive weeks at number one

and became the best-selling album of 2012 in the UK,

with more than a million sales.

After the success of Long Live the Angels, which

debuted at number 2 on the UK album chart, Emeli

won the 2017 Brit Award for Best British Female Solo

Artist, becoming her fourth win in total. For more

details visit www.gentingarena.co.uk.

49


LO CA L A R E A

Unique comedy

BIRMINGHAM IMPROV FESTIVAL RETURNS TO THE CITY FOR ITS SECOND OUTING FROM OCTOBER 23 TO

29, BRINGING QUICK-FIRE COMEDY AND A BARREL OF LAUGHS FROM SOME OF THE IMPROV CIRCUIT’S MOST

TALENTED PERFORMERS. AMY NORBURY SPOKE TO FESTIVAL DIRECTOR JON TREVOR AHEAD OF THE FESTIVAL

TO DISCOVER WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT - PLUS, YOU CAN WIN A PAIR OF TICKETS TO THE OPENING NIGHT

“The highest accolade we get for our art is that people

think we’re cheating,” says Jon Trevor, the driving force

behind Birmingham Improv Festival. “Sometimes the

shows are so good that people start muttering that they

can’t be improvised, they must be rehearsed.”

And that’s the glory of good improvisation; shows

which are so well put together, so slick and professional

that it’s hard to believe they’re made up on the spot.

But rather than being rehearsed for hours on end and

performed over and over again, each improv show is

exactly that; one-of-a-kind and never to be repeated.

After the sell-out success of last year’s inaugural

Birmingham Improv Festival, this year’s event, which

takes place at the Blue Orange Theatre in the Jewellery

Quarter, promises to be “bigger, better, Brummier.”

“Last year we had ten shows and eight workshops

over one weekend, so this year we’ve doubled in size

and it’s lasting all week with 21 shows from different

performing companies and half-a-dozen workshops as

well,” Jon explains.

“The improv scene in Birmingham has been growing

over the past eight or nine years and it had come to the

point where there was actually a scene, rather than just

some people doing it! So our aim last year was to put

improv on the Birmingham map and Birmingham on

the improv map.

“Last year it was pretty much all invited troupes coming

into Birmingham, but this year it’s a balance of local

groups and headline acts being invited in from outside.

“The festival really helped to solidify the improv scene

in Birmingham. There’s a growing feeling that we know

who we are, that we’re seeing each other’s shows, and

it’s definitely coming together now.”

MC HAMMERSMITH 4

FOGHORN UNSCRIPTED

And the fact that there is such a scene in the city is

mostly down to Jon.

“I was a theatre director for about 20 years, which I

stopped doing in around 2000,” he says. “Then in 2008

I started getting a bit restless; I’d seen some improv

and read a book on it and thought it would be fun to

do, so I looked for a group in Birmingham and there

was nothing. The second biggest city in the country and

there was nothing happening.”

So Jon started Box Of Frogs, a Tuesday night

drop-in improv group based in Moseley, which has

been running ever since. And from that grew the

Birmingham improv scene.

“Box Of Frogs do a show once a month at the Blue

Orange Theatre which comes out of the weekly

workshop,” says Jon. “And of course we’re performing

at the festival. Because of Box Of Frogs, I get called

The Frogfather!”

From the Monday to Thursday, the festival will start

with a double bill of local improv followed by a

performance from a visiting troupe, while the weekend

will feature a variety of shows, including a charity gala

show on Sunday in aid of Birmingham Children’s

Hospital. There will also be improv workshops taking

place over the week.

“Most people’s memories of improv is Whose Line Is

It Anyway, which is a form of improv called short-form

improv, based around games and silly songs. That’s

thriving and there are groups in Birmingham who are

doing that style, but there are other forms too,” explains

Jon.

“People often confuse improv with stand-up comedy,

50


FESTIVAL DIRECTOR

JON TREVOR

which isn’t improvised;

stand-up comics spend

hours and hours

writing and crafting

their material, while

improv is based on

groups of people

creating stories, scenes,

songs and entire

shows in the moment

by working together

as a group to create

something that’s never

been done before.

“Each show is

unique, but some have certain genres or flavours.

Some of the shows we have visiting include one called

Murder She Didn’t Write, which as you can imagine

is based on a murder-mystery. We’ve got one called

Impromptu Shakespeare, who will devise a complete,

new Shakespeare play that’s never been seen before in

authentic Shakespearean language.

“Our headline group is Showstopper, who do a

complete Broadway musical improvised on the spot.

They did a nine-week run in London’s West End and

won an Olivier Award for a musical which doesn’t exist,

because they create a new one every night!

“The short-form games get lots of suggestions from

the audience; with Showstopper, all they get from the

audience right at the beginning is a title and they create

something based on that title. Showstopper are the

only group we’re having back at the festival and last

year they created a musical called Two Nights at the

Bullring, which was so funny.”

So how do improv groups work to create their shows?

WAITING FOR THE CALL

“The best analogy I’ve ever heard about improv is

football,” says Jon. “When you go to play a football

match you don’t know where the ball’s going to be

or how the game’s going to go but nevertheless you

practise your skills. You practise shooting, you practise

dribbling, you practise defence.

“Improv groups get together and practise a lot; not

the content, but the ways of generating content and

working together. They know each other and they’ve

often worked together for a long time and it’s all based

on trust and support. When you see it come together it’s

absolute magic.

“With improv, there are some basic rules; the first one is

to always say ‘Yes, and?’ rather than saying no, and the

second is to make everyone else look good instead of

trying to be the star yourself. If everybody concentrates

on making everyone else look good, then we all look

good. It’s very much a team sport.”

JUMPROV

And what can visitors to birmingham Improv Festival

expect?

“Expect to be amazed, certainly, to laugh a lot, and to

be excited,” says Jon. “I think it’s the most exciting art

form there is. And it’s unique; you’re going to have a

unique experience because no-one will ever see that

show again.”

For more details on Birmingham Improv Festival visit

www.birminghamimprovfestival.com or find

Birmingham Improv Festival on Facebook, Twitter

and Instagram.

Competition

FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A PAIR OF TICKETS TO BIRMINGHAM IMPROV FESTIVAL’S

OPENING NIGHT ON MONDAY, OCTOBER 23, SIMPLY ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTION:

JON TREVOR IS THE FOUNDER OF WHICH IMPROV GROUP,

WHICH WILL BE PERFORMING AT THIS YEAR’S FESTIVAL?

Send your answer, along with your name, address and telephone number, by email to competitions@jaimemagazine.com

with Birmingham Improv competition as the email subject. Entries must be received by 5pm on Monday, October 16, and our

winner will be notified by Wednesday, October 18. No cash alternative is available. Terms and conditions apply.

Visit www.jaimemagazine.com for further details.

51


FA S H I O N

Red alert

THE CHILLS MAY BE SETTING IN BUT THE FASHION WORLD IS TURNING UP THE HEAT,

BECAUSE THIS SEASON IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT COLOUR YOU’RE WEARING - AS LONG

AS IT’S RED, SAYS AMY NORBURY

The undisputed colour of AW17, red is set to

be unavoidable this season. The catwalks were

aflame with the most fiery of hues, and where

high fashion leads, the high street follows.

Sensational scarlet ruled at Emporio Armani

and Prada, while Fendi and Giambattista Vialli

opted for more raspberry shades and the brightest

tomato was showcased at Victoria Beckham and

Max Mara.

From cocktail dresses to coats, comfy knits to

colour-pop boots, there’s something for every lady

in red this season - you just need to find the right

one.

With his lipstick red soles, shoe designer

extraordinaire Christian Louboutin transformed

red’s image from sexy siren to luxury statement,

and this season’s reds are definitely erring on the

side of grown-up glamour. Rich wines and deep

oxbloods offer a subtle, wintry feel while the more

striking hues are vibrant rather than brash.

Fabrics are also key to keeping the look

sophisticated; think luxurious velvets, cashmere

knits and buttery-soft leather. Tactile fabrics are

big news this season, and bright red hues will only

add to the warmth of these cosy textures.

While pattern is a far easier way to incorporate

red into your everyday wardrobe, fashionistas will

want to lead the charge with block colours. Headto-toe

red may be a bold style statement for some,

but get it on point and you’re sure to make the

right kind of impact.

But if you’re just after a splash of red to liven up

your winter wardrobe then opt for a luxe piece

with plenty of wearability; coats, footwear and

handbags are all investment pieces which can set

your outfit alight on even the most dreary days.

PREEN SHIRT, £45,

SKIRT, £75, AND FAITH

SHOES, £49, ALL

FROM DEBENHAMS.

52


ATLAS WRAP SHIRT,

FROM HUSH.

£49

TINA DRESS ,£85,

FROM HUSH.

SAMANTHA SNOOD.

FROM HOBBS.

J’AIME

LO VES

£59

£99

AVELINE BAG,

FROM HUSH.

£75

£69

AUTOGRAPH TOP,

MARKS AND SPENCER.

VELVET PLEAT

DRESS, OASIS.

£125

£79

MINI RED PATTERNED

CROSS BODY BAG,

BIBA AT HOUSE OF

FRASER.

REENIE BOOTS,

DUNE LONDON.


FA S H I O N

Let’s get cosy

JILL HARTLEY, CO-OWNER AND DIRECTOR OF NERO E BIANCO EXCLUSIVE FASHION BOUTIQUE AT

BARTON MARINA, SAYS IT’S TIME TO UPDATE YOUR WARDROBE WITH SOME SNUG PIECES FOR AUTUMN

Autumn is here, there is a definite chill in the

air and the evenings are drawing in. The good

news is it’s time to start getting cosy in some

nice knits and feeling ready for the autumn days

and nights.

We ladies like to look our best; it makes us feel

good about ourselves. Keeping an eye on the

trends and looking out for what will suit our

body shape so we can make the most of what

we have isn’t always easy and as it can easily go

wrong!

The best advice when starting with your

autumn collection is don’t be afraid to try

something different. You will be surprised at

how new styles and shapes can flatter the figure,

feel comfortable and can become a ‘go-to’ in

your wardrobe.

Why not choose a style or colour that breaks

away from the routine and gives you an up lift

for the coming months?

We have chosen soft greys (the new black), blues

and aubergine, with a splash of taupe and lime,

colours that are on-trend with the designers this

month.

Here are a few ideas we have for those cooler

days and nights to come…

CARDI W I TH A T W IST

Trousers and cardigan? Well yes it is, but how

different does this look? A modern version of

the faithful cardigan, here we have a side zip

with asymmetry and step edge. The colour

is a rich blue with a grey thread that blends

perfectly. Worn with the wide-leg trouser with

over skirt panel (big news - the wide leg trouser

is back!) this is a very stylish look. We love

handbags and this soft grey leather bag is idea

for creating a new modern look.

54


www.neroebianco.co.uk

Nero e Bianco

Exclusive Fashion & Bridal

Barton Marina

Burton upon Trent

DE13 8AS

01283 346704


CONTEMP ORARY

KNI TS

Soft aubergine and fine knit with

amazing detail, this little top is

fabulous to give you a boost. The

detail is very flattering; it glides

over the tummy with an elongating

hemline; we love it!

This piece is an absolute winner,

the perfect modern sweater. We

have paired the sweater with a

super soft pair of trousers that

taper, again incorporating soft

grey - a must for this autumn and

winter.

SKIRTS APP EAL

Have you thought about a fine

knit long skirt? Well the time to

do so is now! This is so stylish,

comfortable and on trend. We

have chosen a full skirt; this feels

feminine, cosy and smart all in

one - and that is hard to do. Work

the skirt with a super fine knit

sweater that incorporates colour

and detail to ensure it stands apart

from the ordinary. The sweater

will also look uber cool with

skinnies and heels; equally pop

a silk blouse with the skirt for an

evening feel.

And not forgetting the hat. The

big winter essential, hats to match

your daywear is a must!

DRESS I T UP

We had to finish with this

absolutely fabulous fine knit

dress. What is there not to

like about this? Don’t panic if

you’re not a size 8, this dress is

magic; the design and shape is

super flattering! And of course,

remember the matching hat!

Remember ladies, it’s all about

looking good and feeling

wonderful and why not? You

deserve to!

56


CO M P E T I T I O N

Celebrating a decade in style

J’AIME HAS TEAMED UP WITH EXCLUSIVE WOMENSWEAR SHOP BOUTIQUE ELEVEN, BASED AT THE HEART

OF THE COUNTRY SHOPPING VILLAGE, TO OFFER READERS THE CHANCE TO WIN £150 TO SPEND IN STORE

A stylish womenswear boutique is celebrating ten

successful years in business at the Heart of the

Country Shopping Village, near Lichfield

Boutique Eleven combines sought-after brands with a

relaxed, personal shopping experience to offer ladies

everywhere a fantastic solution to their wardrobe

woes.

Owner Sandie Cottle says: “At Boutique Eleven

we focus on contemporary womenswear; our key

customers are 40-plus, but the styles we sell suit

differing age groups.

“Our brands offer unique looks; we aim to offer

something not found on the high street which is our

point of difference. We offer personal service

and are happy to help customers seeking

wardrobe revamps or a complete new look.”

Brands which can be found on the rails at

Boutique Eleven include The Masai Clothing

Co, Sandwich, Myrine, SoyaConcept, Mama

B, Two Danes and Grizas. Both Grizas and

Two Danes specialise in the use of natural

fabrics like linen, silk, cotton, bamboo and

hemp, while Masai Clothing offers oversized

elements in their designs which can suit fuller

figure ladies.

Sandie adds: “I have found over my years in

the fashion industry that not many women

are happy with their body shape; our clothes

flatter most shape, and seeing a lady happy

with herself and leaving us feeling more

confident than when she came in is the most

satisfying feeling we can have.”

While most of Boutique Eleven’s clothes

are perfect for everyday wear, there are

some gems which would fulfil more special

occasions

“We term this ‘wearagainwedding’ - we find

a lot of our customers want to be able to

wear outfits bought for a special occasion

again,” says Sandie.

“We offer loyalty cards to customers, to give

something back to our customers who spend

with us and support us; they also receive

special offers and news of new collections coming in.

I have some amazing customers who love what we

do and continue to support us. Our biggest challenge

is online shopping and the British weather, the latter

because our seasons seem to be non existent... layering

is the key here!”

While Boutique Eleven is hoping to launch a website

soon, Sandie still believe in the ‘shopping experience’.

“The experience of going to a boutique, with oneto-one

customer service, is second to none and

supporting and promoting Independent businesses

like mine is crucial for the future of bricks and mortar

retail.”

58


Competition

FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A £150 VOUCHER TO SPEND AT BOUTIQUE ELEVEN,

SIMPLY ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTION:

NAME ONE OF THE SOUGHT-AFTER BRANDS

TO BE FOUND AT BOUTIQUE ELEVEN.

Send your answer, along with your name, address and telephone number, by email to

competitions@jaimemagazine.com with Boutique Eleven competition as the email subject. Entries

must be received by 5pm on Friday, October 27, and our winner will be notified by Wednesday,

November 1. No cash alternative is available. The prize is a voucher to the value of £150, which

can only be spent on full price items and must be redeemed by Saturday, December 23. Terms and

conditions apply. Visit www.jaimemagazine.com for further details.

59


B E AU T Y

The art of contouring

FROM fabulously high cheekbones to pristine

proportions, shape your way to the perfect face

with the art of sculpting. Just as an artist uses light

and shade to add depth to their paintings, the

latest must-have products help to shape and define

your finest features, while subtle shadowing and

highlighting will accentuate your natural beauty.

LISA PIDDINGTON, from Harvey Nichols

Birmingham, shares her tools of the trade

Fenty Beauty Match Stix trio,

£46, is a magnetised trio of longwear,

light-as-air makeup sticks

curated by skin tone, with two Match

Stix MATTE Skinsticks to conceal

and contour, and one Match Stix

SHIMMER Skinstick to highlight.

The fantastic Iconic London contour palette,

£37.50, features six formulas to perfectly

highlight and sculpt - use one shade darker than

your skin tone to create shadow in the hollows of

the cheekbones, temples and hairline, then run the

darkest shade along the jawline, blending carefully,

and finally, use a highlighting shade on the top

of the

cheekbones,

cupid’s bow

and brow

bone.

Cover FX Enhance

Click highlighter,

£15, comes in a

convenient stick that

allows you to illuminate,

strobe, and highlight

your complexion with a

luminous glow.

Yves Saint Laurent’s Couture eye

contouring palette, £35, has five

different shades and textures from matts to

metallics to offer a multitude of finishes,

and a high-concentrated formula to create

infinite nude looks.

ALL PRODUCTS ARE AVAILABLE FROM THE GROUND FLOOR BEAUTY HALL AT

HARVEY NICHOLS, THE MAILBOX AND ONLINE AT HARVEYNICHOLS.COM.

NARS contour

blush, £32, duo

creates natural

looking dimension

for the face with a

lightweight luminous

finish. A deeper shade

enhances definition

while a lighter shade

illuminates the

highpoints of the

face.

Create your perfect highlight

with Hourglass Ambient

Strobe lighting powder,

£34, designed to sculpt the face

with light, creating depth and

dimension for a refined, natural

highlight.

Cover FX Custom

Cover Drops,

£36, allow you to

add pigment to any

product in your

beauty regime. Add

between one and four

drops - depending

on the depth of

coverage you want–

and transform

your moisturiser,

serum, oil, primer,

foundation or tinted

moisturiser, in an

instant.

60


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Celebrating

10 YEARS


B E AU T Y

Undone chic

AWARD-WINNING HAIRDRESSER EMMA STEVEN TAKES A LOOK

AT SOME OF THE HOTTEST HAIR TRENDS FOR AUTUMN

This season’s style update takes on a more relaxed,

casually cool aesthetic, with sleek polished dos out in

favour of a more effortless, undone look.

Styles

Emma says: “This season we’re seeing lots of undone,

messy, low into the nape ponytails, as well as a lot of

hair up; beehives and high crowns are back in a big

way. Top knots are another gorgeous way to create an

effortless up-do; the top knot is this season’s messy bun.

“When it comes to styling, we’re going back to using

blowdrying techniques rather than heat styling with

straighteners and curling tongs, which helps to create

that more cool, undone look.”

C olours

“Emma says: “Pink is the new blonde, and it’s going to

be around for a while yet, adding a warmer feel to this

season’s blondes. Rose gold is still something we’ll see

a lot of, as well as coppery and golden toned blondes

- it really is all about warm tones as we head into the

colder months.

“Balayage and ombres are still very on trend, as

opposed to flat colour; again, it’s all about a more

casual, relaxed chic rather than anything too perfectly

polished.”

Cuts

Emma says: “This season we’re going from one

extreme to the other. On the one hand, long flowing

locks with plenty of texture are perfect for autumn,

which follows on from summer’s love of all things

mermaid and beachy waves.

“At the opposite end of the style spectrum we’re

looking at really short styles, with bowl cuts and pixie

crops creating a really funky autumn look.”

LOW UP-DOS WHICH GATHER

IN THE NAPE OF THE NECK ARE

ON TREND FOR AUTUMN

LOW UP-DOS WHICH GATHER

IN THE NAPE OF THE NECK ARE

ON TREND FOR AUTUMN

62


BEEHIVES ARE BACK,

CREATING HEIGHT AND

VOLUME IN THIS

SEASON’S UP-DOS

LONG, RELAXED

STYLES CREATE

EFFORTLESS CHIC

A HINT OF PINK ADDS A

WARMER TONE TO THIS

SEASON’S BLONDES


I N T H E N E W S

Three decades at the

forefront of fabrics

With some

three decades

of experience,

you can be sure

you’re getting

the best quality

and service

from one of

the Midlands’

longest

established and most highly-regarded fabrics suppliers,

Hole in the Wall.

Owner Paul Broadgate is now celebrating more than

30 years at the heart of the fabrics industry in the area.

Starting as a market trader, Paul opened Hole in the

Wall - situated at the top of Goodall Street in Walsall

- 26 years ago, and today carries one of the largest

selections of fabrics in the country.

Whatever your fabric needs, Hole in the Wall is sure

to have the solution. Whether you’re looking to refresh

your home decor with stylish new curtains or want to

embark on a dress-making project, you are sure to find

the right fabric. The showroom showcases thousands

of rolls of quality curtain fabric from all the leading

designers, as well as dress fabrics and blinds, and Hole

in the Wall is one of the minority of textile businesses

to still stock fabric by the metre.

Hole in the Wall also carries a comprehensive

collection of curtain poles and tracks, and to finish the

look there is an extensive array of gorgeous wallpapers

and accessories such as tie backs and trimmings.

With Paul’s years of experience comes a level of

expertise which ensures every customer finds exactly

what they need. His business is based on strong values

of traditional customer service and value for money

which can’t be found on internet sites.

Despite a terrible fire in 2004 which destroyed part

of the building and shut down the business for three

months, Paul rebuilt his empire and continues to

provide a first class, made-to-measure curtain and soft

furnishing service from his on-site workroom, manned

by skilled and experienced seamstresses.

Complementing these services is one of the finest and

well-stocked haberdashery departments to be found in

the Midlands.

As well as Hole in the Wall, Paul has another store

named Fabric Direct situated in Kidderminster.

For more information visit www.holeinthewallcurtains.

co.uk or find Hole in the Wall Curtains on Facebook,

Instagram and Twitter.

Celebrating ten

successful years

Lichfield fire specialists The Fire Place are celebrating

their tenth anniversary in business, having completed

more than 7,000 jobs over the past decade.

In September 2007, Russell and Sue opened The Fire

Place, on Stafford Road, and the business has been

flourishing ever since. The Fire Place offers a fantastic

range of fireplaces, gas fires, wood burners and electric

fires to a wide customer base across the Midlands.

Russell and Sue are very pleased with the way the

business has grown, with increases seen consistently

year-on-year.

The Fire Place offers a complete service, covering all

aspects of installation and including free surveying

within 20 miles, fitting, any allied building work and

rubbish removal. On arrangement, Russell will come

to your home to advise on flue types, ventilation and

fitting fees. He will be able to tell you what you can

and cannot have - but usually if you want something,

Russell will be able to provide it.

The showroom houses around 70 displays - most of

which are working fires - and The Fire Place’s range

includes fireplaces in natural stone, marble and wood

and a fantastic selection of efficient, contemporary

gas fires which can be fitted on any external wall or

within a standard chimney breast. They also offer a

wide range of multi-fuel and wood-burning stoves

from brands including Contura, Heta and Purevision,

as well as contemporary electric fires by Evonic and

Flamerite.

Russell and Sue can’t believe that a decade has passed

so quickly, and will strive to continue the success of the

first ten years.

For more information visit the Stafford Road

showroom Monday to Friday from 9.30am to

4.30pm and Saturday from 10am to 4om or call

01543 263383.

64


Life in the fast lane

M OTO R S

THIS MONTH OUR RESIDENT MOTORING MAESTRO, RACING DRIVER MARTIN PLOWMAN, TALKS

ABOUT A VERY PERSONAL BATTLE AND STEPS UP TO SUPPORT NATIONAL CHARITY ANXIETY UK

MARTIN IN RACE MODE

WITH TEAM MATE KELVIN

FLETCHER

Martin says: “This month has been monumental for

me as I have taken the plunge and openly admitted

to the public and motorsport community that I have

been struggling with anxiety for the past 12 years.

“I have spent the majority of my life in the public

eye; I’ve addressed huge crowds and raced in front

of hundreds of thousands of fans, with many more

millions watching me on TV. However, the anxiety I

face almost every day is a real challenge that I have

worked hard to manage and overcome.

“I have a number of strategies that I use to minimise

the impact anxiety has on my life; this enables me to

function as a professional racing driver, and I hope

that I can show others who have yet to find their

strategies, that there is hope. If opening up about my

anxiety helps just one person, then it is worth it.

“I have taken the step of becoming a celebrity patron

of leading national charity Anxiety UK. Having

personal experience of anxiety and anxiety-based

depression, I am passionate about supporting the

charity’s efforts to increase awareness and access to

support for those experiencing anxiety, stress and

anxiety based depression.

“Anxiety can be debilitating and can take many

different forms, from mild

nervousness that grows to severe

panic attacks and an inability to

leave the house.

“Everybody may feel anxious about

something from time to time, but

for people suffering from anxiety,

it’s impossible to shut off those

anxious feelings, and any small issue

multiplies until you are rendered

paralysed. Symptoms include rapid

heart-beat, palpitations, panicattacks,

cold-sweat, restlessness

among many other things. There’s

an array of treatment and coping

strategies out there, and everyone

requires something different. The

first step is to seek help and try what

works for you.

“In joining forces with Anxiety UK, I hope to send

out a message to others that anxiety is not something

to be ashamed of, nor does it have to be something

that prevents you from leading a successful,

accomplished and meaningful life.

“The hardest part for me was coming out and talking

to someone about my struggles. The stigma that can

surround mental health can be immense, particularly

since I’m a sportsman where any perceived weakness

tends to be frowned upon.

BATTLING WITH ANXIETY

HASN’T PREVENTED MARTIN

ACHIEVING SUCCESS ON THE

RACE TRACK

65


“Ironically, living with severe anxiety, I believe

I am the opposite of weak, as the strength and

determination I have to have to overcome these daily

hurdles and still be successful prove how mentally

strong I have to be.

“Anxiety and mental illness is a very overlooked

issue, and I know it is far more common than people

may realise, but our stiff-upper-lip culture causes

us to brush our feelings under the carpet anytime

we don’t feel like our true selves. By helping to raise

awareness, I hope to help remove that stigma and for

those that need help, learn how to seek help and gain

the support and resources to lead a happy, successful

life.

“Anxiety UK have conveyed how delighted they are

to have me on-board to promote their continued

work in helping those who experience anxiety,

stress and anxiety based depression, and to help

raise awareness of the importance of changing

attitudes around mental health. Over the years they

have welcomed the support of a range of celebrity

patrons, who are passionate about the work of

Anxiety UK and ensuring that support is available to

those who need it most.”

As a national registered charity, established in 1970,

Anxiety UK provide support for those affected by

anxiety, stress and anxiety based depression. Building

on more than 47 years’ experience, the charity has

a strong service delivery arm offering support via

helpline, text, therapy and online services. Anxiety

UK was established to promote the relief and

rehabilitation of persons experiencing anxiety, stress

MARTIN, PICTURED WITH

WIFE NICOLE, IS SUPPORTING

ANXIETY UK

and anxiety based depression,

and raising awareness of such

conditions.

Nicky Lidbetter, CEO at Anxiety

UK, says: “I am delighted that

Martin has chosen to support

Anxiety UK through joining our

team of celebrity patrons. He is

living proof that anxiety does not

need to define a person and that

with appropriate support and

information, it is entirely possible to

function at a high level in spite of

anxiety. The world of competitive

sport can be a difficult space to

open up about issues such as mental

health and anxiety, and in being

as candid as Martin is about his

personal experience of anxiety, he

is playing a vital role in challenging

stigma. It is fair to say that Martin

is a wonderful role model for others.”

Martin adds: “I’m proud to lend my support to

Anxiety UK. I have suffered with debilitating

anxiety and panic attack disorder for as long as I

can remember. Since being diagnosed in 2014, I

have sought help to embrace ways to manage my

symptoms to not let it affect my career. My hope is

that my story will inspire at least one person who

feels helpless, or embarrassed to ask for help and

enable them to seek the help they need to be able to

chase their dreams.”

“The partnership between myself and Anxiety UK

will be kick-started with an official feature interview

with me in the charity’s quarterly magazine, Anxious

Times. Going forward I am also looking forward to

engaging with Anxiety UK’s on-going campaigns in

terms of both raising awareness and fundraising.”

MARTIN MEETING HIS FANS

66


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hole

in the wall

curtains • fabrics • blinds

Stockists of all leading designer fabrics.

Extensive range of haberdashery items to compliment.

Bespoke Curtains and Soft Furnishing Specialists

Quality and Service you can trust

"Our team of highly skilled seamstresses create bespoke curtains and

soft furnishings to your individual design in our on-site workrooms."

47 - 49 Goodall Street, Walsall WS1 1QJ · Tel: 01922 631512 · www.holeinthewallcurtains.co.uk

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