J'AIME APRIL 2020

jaimemagazine

Your local luxury lifestyle magazine

A P R I L 2 0 2 0

J’AIME

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Welcome to J’AIME

Well, the world seems a very different place

right now to what it was this time last month.

With the inescapable realities of the Covid-19

crisis having greater and greater impact as each

day passes, it has meant a devastating impact to

many small, local businesses - J’AIME included.

Over the past three years we have loved playing

a part in the local community; telling the stories

of inspirational local people, bringing a local

angle to a wide variety of topics and connecting

local businesses with our army of loyal readers,

and for that support we cannot thank you all

enough. However, it is with a heavy heart that

we have had to make the decision that this issue

will be the last printed and delivered issue of

J’AIME for the foreseeable future.

But fear not; this is not the end of the J’AIME

you have come to know and love. From the next

issue we will continue to publish the magazine

in its entirety in a series of digital formats. We

will have an enhanced online reader at www.

jaimemagazine.com as well as a brand new

J’AIME app coming very soon for phone and

tablet - so you’ll be able to keep your issue of

J’AIME right there in your pocket.

In order to be able to deliver this service, we’re

asking you, our readers, to like and follow our

Facebook page at www.facebook.com/

jaimemagazine as well as follow us on

Instagram and Twitter @jaimemagazine

or pop by our website www.jaimemagazine.

com for the latest updates.

As always, we want to continue to tell the stories

that are important and interesting to our local

community, so if you have a story you think is

worth shouting about, please drop us an email

and if you’re a business which wants to shout

about their services to our readership then

please get in touch. With your support, we hope

J’AIME can continue to thrive in these uncertain

times.

EDITOR: AMY NORBURY

EDITOR@JAIMEMAGAZINE.COM

ADVERTISING: JAN ASHLEY

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CONTRIBUTORS: MARTIN PLOWMAN, ROBBIE

SINCLAIR, LISA PIDDINGTON, THE GINTLEMAN,

PREET ANAND, RAUL ROMERO, JILL HARTLEY,

ALYCE WILLIAMS, LIAM DILLON

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J’AIME IS PUBLISHED BY ASHBURY PUBLICATIONS

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SPONSORED BY

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CO N T E N T S

InsideJ’aime this month...

6 The Wilderness’ Alex Claridge - The Brummie

chef on a chocolate collaboration with charity

SIFA Fireside

10 Property - Property of the month

12 Interiors - Spring storage solutions

17 Interiors - Sutton Coldfield interior designer

Preet Anand answers your design dilemmas

18 Food and drink - Reviewing Exose Grant at Sauce

Supper Club

20 Food and drink - A tasty recipe from The Boat Inn,

Lichfield

22 Food and drink - Just the tonic from The

Gintleman

24 Health - Counsellor Alyce Williams on staying

calm in a crisis

26 Health - Fitness advice from Lichfield personal

trainer Raul Romero

30 Travel - A Middle Eastern adventure in Oman

34 Fashion - Lounging around

36 Fashion - Summer style staples from Nero e

Bianco

39 Beauty - Men’s grooming must-haves from

Harvey Nichols Birmingham

40 Health - Back pain advice from Spire Little

Aston

41 In the news - An announcement from Richard

Winterton; and a leading hairdresser’s new move

42 Motors - Martin Plowman takes a look at the JRM

GT23 race car

SPONSORED BY

4


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昀 椀 琀


F E AT U R E

Into the wilderness

FRESH FROM TACKLING THE GOVERNMENT OVER THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS ON BEHALF OF THE

HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY, BIRMINGHAM CHEF AND WILDERNESS RESTAURATEUR ALEX CLARIDGE

HAS SET HIS SIGHTS ON RAISING AWARENESS OF THE ISSUES OF HOMELESSNESS IN THE

SECOND CITY - THROUGH THE MEDIUM OF CHOCOLATE. AMY NORBURY DISCOVERS MORE

Alex Claridge is no stranger to a

little controversy. The Brummie chef

and restaurateur - the brains behind

acclaimed Jewellery Quarter fine

dining eatery The Wilderness - made

a splash during his recent appearance

on BBC favourite Great British

Menu when he adorned his first dish

presented to Midlands heat mentor

Paul Ainsworth with mealworms,

locusts and ants. It was a move which

may well have captured the brief

perfectly, encapsulating the children’s

literature theme by taking inspiration

from the Revolting Recipes found

in Roald Dahl’s much-loved books.

But it proved a divisive choice with

Ainsworth and his fellow chef

competitors.

Anything but shy and retiring,

outspoken Alex hit the headlines a couple of years

ago for replying with his trademark ‘dry humour’ to

myriad Tripadvisor reviews.

But these days, he’s using his voice more

constructively.

In the wake of the current Covid-19 crisis - which has

had a devastating impact on the hospitality industry

across the country - it was Alex who launched a

petition imploring the government to do more to

support the country’s third largest industry sector and

safeguard the jobs of more than three million people

who work in hospitality, following Boris Johnson’s

‘advice’ to the public to avoid restaurants, pubs, bars

and other such establishments.

Garnering more than 200,000 signatures in just

48 hours, the campaign was backed by leading

industry professionals including MasterChef judge

and restaurateur Monica Galetti, and celebrities

including Piers Morgan, who tweeted: “Do pubs,

CHEF AND OWNER OF THE

WILDERNESS ALEX CLARIDGE

bars, restaurants, cafes, theatres, cinemas close or not?

Ridiculous of Boris Johnson to just ‘suggest’ it and

not ban it. Not least because these businesses will be

forced to close but can’t claim on insurance if they’re

not ordered too. This must be clarified – urgently.”

He also worked with industry charity Hospitality

Action to set up a support fund for those worst

affected in hospitality - a lot of critical action to take

in just a few short days.

And this passionate mobilisation for causes close to his

heart is something Alex is no stranger to.

He has been a longtime supporter of Birmingham

charity SIFA Fireside, actively speaking out on the

issue of homelessness in the city; a growing issue in

the metropolitan area, and often with nowhere for

those affected to turn to.

“SIFA Fireside are a charity in Birmingham, based in

Digbeth, which looks after mainly homeless people,

who they call clients, but also vulnerable people, so

they deal with things like modern slavery, domestic

6


abuse,” says The Wilderness’s marketing manager

Emma Tronson.

“They’re a hub who also deal with loads of different

charities out there, so they don’t just feed their clients,

they offer showers and loads of additional services

like doctors, dentists, vets, they’ve got a safe where

homeless clients of theirs can store important personal

belongings like passports that they don’t want to lose

while they’re on the streets.

“It’s a charity that’s very close to our hearts here at

The Wilderness; Alex is a patron, and we feel very

strongly about their work.

“We’ve looked at various ways that we can fundraise

for them over the past year or so; we’ve done events

like Sip for SIFA in collaboration with Downtown in

Business, which was a fundraising event, we’ve done

the ‘No Bab’ T-shirts with Punks and Chancers where

a proportion of the sale of each T-shirt went to SIFA,

and that’s raised about £2,000 for them so far with

just that initiative.”

The latest collaboration between The Wilderness and

the charity is inspired by a growing area of Alex’s

business.

Last year Alex launched The Wilderness’s boutique

chocolate strand, selling bespoke and handcrafted

confectionery shaped as hearts, lips and skulls

and filled with an array of tempting flavours in limited

edition collections.

And the next collection to launch will be inspired by

SIFA Fireside’s work - and the individual stories and

experiences of people the charity has already helped.

“For me, the important thing is the awareness side,

and the story side,” explains Alex.

“Fundraising is great and we’ll do that wherever we

can, but with homelessness in particular - and I’m as

guilty of this as anyone - is that it’s easy to be quite

tokenistic. You buy someone a sandwich or you

donate ten quid at Christmas, whatever the case may

be, but fundamentally that doesn’t assist in a cultural

change, which is the only thing which will eradicate

it as a problem. If you feed someone, you’re dealing

with the short term problem of welfare and it’s not

that simple.

“We’re fortunate to have a platform to say stuff, and

to have an audience who will listen. And I think as

important as anything else we do about this, is to try

to tell the story.

“This collection came about from the desire to tell the

story of individuals, to de-homogenise the term. The

term ‘homelessness’ in itself is quite problematic for

me, because it turns individuals into a collective mass.

It turns them into a problem, rather than individuals

THE WILDERNESS’S

CHOCOLATIER BHARAT

CHANDEGRA

who are going through situations which are all

infinitely complex.

“And within the parameters of creating a singular

product which can in some way speak of these

individual’s experiences, I think chocolate suits really

well.

“Chocolate is such an exciting medium to work with

creatively. With any other food you have multiple bites

and textures, but you don’t have that with chocolate.

Instead, it’s a singular mouthful in which you have to

achieve whatever you want to say with it.”

In order to gain ideas and inspiration for the

collection, Alex and his Wilderness pastry chef Bharat

Chandegra - a former Bake Off: The Professionals

finalist - paid a visit to some of SIFA Fireside’s clients,

to hear individual tales of life on the streets directly

from the people affected.

“These are not stories which are easy to listen to; these

are deeply affecting stories about how cruel life can

be, how unfeeling society can be if things go wrong

for you, and how quickly life can go south,” says Alex.

“We interviewed a few of the guys there and they

spoke of childhood memories, of the chocolates and

flavours they loved, as well as the things they enjoy

eating in general,” added Bharat.

“There are quite a few interesting ideas which have

come up, perhaps the most difficult one to translate

into chocolate is chicken wings! But we’ll get there

with some work and development, we’re going to

work on some flavours and take them back to see what

the guys think of them.”

7


Always looking to push culinary

boundaries, Alex found the

inspiration process for the chocolate

collection a refreshing one.

“It’s good for both myself and

Bharat, because if you only take

inspiration from food it’s quite

a closed circuit, and the kind of

inspiration you get from sitting

with someone who’s not from that

world really pushes you out of your

comfort zone,” says Alex.

“These are not flavours that chefs

would perhaps think of, but in

learning to manipulate ideas which

seem out of the obvious lexicon

of flavour, it actually does more to

progress what we do from a culinary

perspective than just sitting there looking through

another recipe book from some beautifully attractive

French man!”

And transforming those off-the-wall ideas into a

harmonious collection has proved to be no easy task.

“It’s quite challenging because one person will design

or pick the flavours they like for one chocolate, but

then to make four people’s ideas merge into a whole

collection and work together is the difficult part,” says

Emma.

“That’s one of the hardest things about any chocolate

collection; you have to look at it as a cohesive

collection; it’s not just a singular selection of tracks,

you have to make an album,” adds Alex.

“They have to be engineered to eat together; you

don’t want to eat one chocolate then put the next one

in and have it not work!

“The first fella loves olives and loves coffee, and

while coffee is the more obvious flavour I think we’re

going down the olive route. We’ve actually done

an olive caramel chocolate before, and I think it’s a

very rewarding way to replace the salinity of a salted

caramel.

“For him, there’s a lot of sentimentality around the

experience of sitting and eating olives in the sun -

which is something we can all relate to - and I think

it’s really special to capture happy memories, because

memories are sometimes all a lot of these guys in

these horrible situations have. When you’re going

through horrible stuff you do have to return to happy

places and happy memories, and chocolate can be

very nostalgic in that way; it’s very powerful.”

The next piece in the collection will be inspired by a

confectionary classic; the walnut whip, created using

THE WILDERNESS’S BESPOKE

CHOCOLATE BUSINESS

LAUNCHED LAST YEAR

marshmallow and 50/50 milk and white chocolate.

“There was this beautiful moment where he wanted

us to do a 50/50 chocolate because he said that

mirrors his experience of life, where it’s 50/50 and

you either get lucky or you don’t,” says Alex.

To incorporate the spice and chicken wings elements

inspired by one story, Alex and Bharat are turning to

Frank’s Hot Sauce as a predominant flavour to create

a chilli caramel chocolate, while the final treat in the

collection incorporates mushroom - incidentally, an

ingredient already used in one of The Wilderness’s

signature desserts.

Since launching just over a year ago with a Christmas

chocolate box, The Wilderness has produced some 14

confectionery collections. The aim now is to develop

the chocolates into a brand of their own.

“I like chocolate and I cannot lie,” laughs Alex. “It’s

an exciting medium, I like the aesthetic of it. And

there’s a lot more up Bharat’s proverbial sleeve; we’ve

worked on other patisserie items and things like our

alcoholic gummy bears, which we’re keen to expand.

“The Wilderness is my first-born and I love that, but

realistically it’s a special-occasion kind of place, it’s

not an everyday luxury. We make it as inclusive as

possible but it’s a different vibe.

“The patisserie side of the business is about finding

products that are still without compromise on quality,

but which are little everyday moments which can

make people happy. Because that’s essentially what it’s

all about; making people happy.”

For more details on The Wilderness x SIFA Fireside

chocolate collection visit the online shop at

www.wearethewilderness.co.uk/shop

and follow The Wilderness on Instagram

@thewildernessrestaurant

8


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Call 0121 514 7034


P R O P E RTY

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 A STUNNING FIVE BEDROOM FAMILY HOME

ON A SIZEABLE PLOT IN SOUGHT-AFTER SUTTON COLDFIELD

The Summer House, Park View, Sutton Coldfield: £1,500,000

On the market with Fine and Country Sutton Coldfield: 0121 272 6900

THE AGENT SAYS: This beautifully extended and

refurbished five bedroomed property sits in a stunning plot

of 0.71 acres of carefully landscaped and mature gardens.

Approached through electronic gates on a private road,

The Summer House offers spacious and modern living

accommodation which flows nicely, with all the primary

rooms leading off the welcoming reception hallway.

There is a modern shaker-style kitchen in a pale grey finish

with light composite marble tops, a Smeg dishwasher and a

built-in Siemens microwave. The kitchen leads onto a light

and airy family room with French doors opening onto the

rear gardens. There is a formal dining room off the kitchen

again with doors out to the gardens.

The drawing room is a very elegant room which features a

wood-burning stove and can be separated from the adjoining

garden room with bi-fold doors, or left open to create a lovely

open space for entertaining. The garden room itself is a new

addition to the property and is flooded with light from the

two lanterns in the vaulted ceiling and the full height French

doors leading to the rear garden. There is a good-sized study

on the ground floor which is situated at the front of the house

with a window overlooking the front gardens and a recently

refitted downstairs cloakroom.

On the first floor there is a galleried landing leading to the

master suite which is a lovely large space which includes

a dressing area with a comprehensive range of fitted his

and hers wardrobes. There are glazed double doors in this

room with a floating glass Juliet balcony which overlooks

the gardens and park beyond. The en suite bathroom is

luxuriously appointed with a Villeroy and Boch suite, Aquata

corner shower and Grohe shower fittings with twin body jets,

there is also an overhead Halo heating unit incorporating

four high power heat lamps.

W E L O V E :

THE GARDEN ROOM MAKES A

PERFECT LUXURIOUS HIDEAWAY

10


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I N T E R I O R S

Time to

declutter

WHETHER it’s under the guise of spring cleaning, or

you’re finally taking inspiration from the experts and

Marie Kondo-ing your living space, a good declutter can

work wonders. And with more and more of us set to be

working from and spending ever more time at home over

the coming months, it’s important that our environments

are as chaos-free and calming as possible. The old adage

says ‘A place for everything, and everything in its place’,

and that mantra is a great one to live by when it comes to

decluttering.

With that in mind, good storage solutions are key to

creating the serene, tranquil and ordered homes we crave;

from open shelving units to neatly display our greatest

treasures, to clever multi-use units where we can stash

those necessary items we don’t necessarily want to see,

there are some great options out there at the moment.

Start by taking a look at your bigger furniture pieces; do

they offer enough storage for your decluttering needs?

Storage baskets and boxes can provide essential extra

space, while organised shelving units lend to an overall air

of orderliness and tidiness.

RUSH NATURAL STORAGE BASKET, £18;

WOODEN STORAGE BASKET, £22; CREAM

MACRAME BASKET, £12; AND BELLY BASKET,

£10, ALL DUNELM. WWW.DUNELM.COM

£90

£105

SET OF TWO JUTE WOVEN BASKET, CULT

FURNITURE. WWW.CULTFURNITURE.COM

£25

KIN BLACK WOVEN SEAGRASS

LAUNDRY BASKET WITH LID, HABITAT.

WWW.HABITAT.CO.UK

£23.95

VINTAGE RETRO MAGAZINE RACK, MELODY

MAISON. WWW.MELODYMAISON.CO.UK

CIRCULAR METAL SHELF, MATALAN.

WWW.MATALAN.CO.UK

12


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14


HEALTH |

07815 460786

01827 892952

Carpal Tunnel Surgery

An Excellent Outcome

Put your hands in our hands

Do you find you are waking in the night with a buzzing

sensation in the hand? Do you have problems doing your

shirt buttons up due to decreased feeling in your fingers?

You may have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome which affects about 5% of the UK population and it is

caused by pressure on a nerve in your wrist. But don’t despair as The Midland Hand Clinic can

diagnose immediately with same day tests.

A recent patient shares his experience with The Midland Hand Clinic…“I was suffering with

pins and needles, numbness and pain in the night. Injections from my GP only temporarily

improved my symptoms and I was told I had Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Reading the testimonials online about Mr Shyamalan

gave me a high degree of confidence so I decided to

travel. It was quick and easy to gain an appointment

and communication was very professional. They

accommodated my every need and it was also very

cost effective.

My outcome was excellent. So much so that I sought

out Mr Shyamalan when I had problems with my other

hand. For any hand or wrist problem and for an expert

opinion I’d certainly trust The Midland Hand Clinic”.

Don’t struggle on with pain in your hands, book an

appointment today with The Midland Hand Clinic.

Midland Hand Clinic lead by

Mr G Shyamalan FRCS NHS

consultant hand surgeon.

All patients welcome.

Ask us about our self funding

prices for minor hand surgery.

Hand Clinic PA: Pam Dziubany

Email: pdziubany@hotmail.com

Call: 07815 460786

01827 892952

www.midlandhandclinic.com


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BROOKVILLE SHELF UNIT, £287.50, COX AND COX.

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16


Preet on interiors

I N T E R I O R S

SUTTON COLDFIELD INTERIOR DESIGNER PREET ANAND, OF MOOD INTERIORS,

OFFERS SOME COLOURFUL HOME INSPIRATION

Quite frankly, the UK has been in panic lately over

the virus I dare not mention, so I felt we needed a

fresh new topic to talk about and wanted to brighten

up the mood to talk about colour. We have seen so

many gorgeous new paint colours come out from

brands such as Little Greene, Farrow & Ball and,

my personal favourite, Craig & Rose. With 11 new

colours added to their range, it’s a real delight that

we can go beyond our usual safe colours in the home,

and add a touch or more of vibrant coral reds, soft

baby blues and warm mustards. Whether it is pastels

you prefer, or something a little more vivid, there is a

lot to be excited about in the world of paint.

We are really confused on what colour to

paint our new house; how can we decide?

It’s all down to the atmosphere and feeling you want

to create, are you going for more cool or warm? That

doesn’t mean to say if you went to the blue route your

room would feel cold, but to choose a colour tone

based on the overall feeling you wish to create is a

good way to start. Fresh shades such as greens, blues

and greys versus more cosy shades of yellow, orange

and reds would be a great starting point. Don’t

dismiss the complimentary shades too, and actually

mixing blues with oranges or greens with reds can

give that welcome compromise.

How can I make a statement in my tiny

downstairs cloakroom?

Good things can come in small packages! Take

advantage of the minimal wall space with a more

premium, statement wallcovering or perhaps consider

one of the epic new paint colours on the market now.

Statements don’t need to be made just on the walls;

you could go bold with floor tiles, or a statement

piece of furniture. Just because the space is small

and perhaps underused, doesn’t mean it can’t create

an unexpected impact. I love the idea of iconic loos

when visiting restaurants, friends or anywhere really.

The design of the downstairs toilet can be a strong

way to communicate a wild side, or add a bit of fun

to the rest of the house.

INTERIOR DESIGNER PREET ANAND

What wallpaper style is in fashion at the

moment?

Interior trends are ever changing, along with fashion

so it can be expensive to keep changing it. Wallpaper

is something that does always remain a constant and,

with a vast range of designs out there, it really comes

down to the style or scheme you’re going for in your

room. We see new geometrics, textures, florals and

even plains coming out in the market all the time.

Whichever you choose to go with, realise the power

of wallpaper. Busy rooms can be made to feel calmer,

rooms without any atmosphere can start to sing and

it even has the ability to make rooms feel bigger or

smaller. Whether you’re looking to spend £100s on

rolls, or budget your interiors, ensure the impact

created is in keeping with the overall style you’re

looking for.

Send your questions on interiors to

info@moodinteriors.net and you might

find Preet answering your dilemma in

next month’s issue.

SPONSORED BY MOOD INTERIORS

0121 809 7333 - WWW.MOODINTERIORS.NET

INFO@MOODINTERIORS.NET

17


F O O D & D R I N K

A master at work

MASTERCHEF: THE PROFESSIONALS FINALIST EXOSE GRANT COOKED UP A STORM FOR

DINERS AT LICHFIELD’S SAUCE SUPPER CLUB EVENT, AS AMY NORBURY DISCOVERED

PHOTOGRAPHY BY BECKY TRANTER PHOTOGRAPHY. WWW.BECKYTRANTER.COM

If, like me, you were an avid viewer of the recent

series of MasterChef: The Professionals, you couldn’t

help but be wowed by Exose Grant.

The Manchester lad made his mark early on in

the competition by turning out exciting, flawless

dishes which impressed judges Marcus Wareing and

Monica Galetti no end and saw him progressing

through each round at a rate of knots.

And as if his culinary skills weren’t enough, Exose’s

affable demeanour and that killer smile certainly

marked him out as a fan favourite.

While my personal money was on Brummie lad and

eventual champion Stu Deeley - at the time head

chef at one of my absolute favourite restaurants,

Jewellery Quarter gem The Wilderness - it was clear

that Exose had what it took to go the distance.

As a chef de partie and head of pasty at James

Martin’s flagship Manchester restaurant - not to

mention a former Bake Off: The Professionals

contestant and owner of a cake business which he

set up at the tender age of 17 - it should have come

as no surprise that Exose’s delectable desserts were a

particular strength on the show.

And it was one such delectable dessert which

really got the diners talking when Exose popped

up in Lichfield at St Johns House for an evening to

remember, courtesy of Sauce Supper Club. But more

on that sweet treat later.

After the success of last year’s tour, once again,

Beth and Jon Toovey of Sauce Supper Club got the

Masterchef: The Professionals finalists on board for

a series of exciting pop-up fine dining events around

the country, beginning in champion Stu Deeley’s

home city at Simpson’s with all three finalists - Stu,

Exose and Olivia Burt - before heading off on their

travels. When the Lichfield leg was announced as the

Exose show, we couldn’t wait to discover what this

talented young chef had in store.

We arrived at St Johns House to a packed dining

room; the foodies of Lichfield were obviously as keen

to sample some Masterchef cookery as we were.

Once seated, it was our first chance to glimpse the

evening’s menu; and all eyes headed straight for

the dessert course. The rather innocuous sounding

sheep’s yoghurt parfait and strawberries was to be

the grand finale - so how was Exose going to elevate

these simple flavours to Masterchef heights? Well,

more on that later.

18


A platter of freshly baked sourdough with beef

dripping and beef vinaigrette served to whet our

appetites nicely for what was to follow. And the first

course proper was certainly a treat.

A silky smooth Jerusalem artichoke veloute with a

nice textural contrast from confit artichokes and

a slightly sweet, smoky hint from a scattering of

onion ash was a beautifully balanced and extremely

moreish dish; to be honest, I could have eaten a large

bowlful and still gone back for more.

It was followed by a rather lovely selection of fresh

and flavoursome heritage tomatoes, ribbons of

courgette and a little tempura, finished with a rich

baba ganoush - a real celebration of the intense

flavours you can get in a vegetarian dish.

Perhaps surprisingly for a chef heavily influenced

by the tastes and spices of his African heritage, the

menu was full of classic combinations. And the confit

salmon with cucumber and a buttermilk and dill

sauce which came next exemplified classic cooking.

The salmon was perfectly done, a thick, succulent

piece treated with the utmost care, a little sushi-esque

salmon and cucumber roll and a charred cucumber

bringing wonderful depth to the dish, alongside that

luscious sauce. As a fish lover, it was a heavenly little

plate.

Chef Exose continued to hit the heights with his final

savoury offering. A slice of poached chicken breast

which was quite possibly the most moist, tender

chicken I’ve ever had, a crispy chicken bonbon,

baby leeks and hen of the woods mushrooms, with

an unctuous sauce packed with umami goodness.

If was, once again, careful consideration of simple

ingredients to create something memorable.

And finally. Finally, we reached the dish everyone

had been waiting for. As one of the later tables to

dine, we’d heard rumours of a bonbon described as

‘out of this world’. And when dessert arrived, it was

certainly worth the wait.

The smooth, rich parfait was luscious with a slight

tang, the flavour of strawberry busting through

every mouthful on the plate. And then, there was

the bonbon. An edible take on a strawberry daiquiri,

it was filled with a delicious rum and strawberry

concoction and coated with crisp meringue pieces

- best eaten in one go, lest you spill any of that

delectable filling. It was the thing which had guests

begging the kitchen for spares - one just wasn’t

enough.

At the end of the evening - and after a long day

of cooking for a packed dining room of eager

guests - Exose popped out of the

kitchen to chat to diners. Stopping

at each table in turn, he was full

of enthusiasm as he answered

questions and posed for selfies with

everyone who asked.

So what does the future have in

store for this prodigious talent? Will

we see an Exose restaurant any time

soon?

It is, he said, a dream to run his own

place but the ever-humble 22-yearold

believes he’s still got a lot left to

learn before he’s ready to take that

step.

On the strength of our evening with

Exose, I have the feeling that dreams

may come true much sooner than

he thinks.

19


F O O D & D R I N K

Dining delights

LIAM DILLON, CHEF PATRON OF THE AWARD-WINNING THE BOAT INN,

LICHFIELD, SHARES A DELICIOUS QUAIL RECIPE TO TRY AT HOME

Recently voted ‘Best Independent Restaurant in Staffordshire’ by readers of What’s On, Lichfield’s The Boat Inn is

a jewel in the Midlands dining crown. And in response to the current coronavirus crisis, chef patron Liam Dillon has

launched The Boat Shop, offering essential packs and high quality produce aimed at those who are self isolating or

unable to source food items, as well as hot meals and meals prepped and ready to cook at home. For more details call the

restaurant on 01543 361692 or visit www.theboatinnlichfield.com

Quail and courgette

Ingredients: serves four

4 patty pan courgettes

2 baby courgette

2 courgette flowers (where possible)

30g pak choi cress

2 whole quail

1l white chicken stock

1 garlic bulb

3 sprigs thyme

500ml brown stock

Butter

Carrot

Onion

To prepare the quail remove the head, legs, wings

and the innards. Remove all blood from the quail

and clean out with a cloth. Salt the legs with herb

salt and then leave them for an hour. After this time,

wash them off and lightly colour them in a pan with

butter and thyme. Place in a larger pan and cover

with brown stock.

Roast the carrot, onion, garlic and thyme and add

to the pan. Cover with baking parchment and

simmer for two to three hours until the legs are

tender. Once cooked remove from the heat and

allow to cool in the liquid.

Once cool, remove the thigh bone carefully so as

not to damage the rest of the leg and place onto a

clean tray until time to serve.

Poach the quail crowns in white chicken stock with

garlic and thyme for two to three minutes until the

breasts slightly tighten. Chill the crowns, remove the

breasts and store ready for service.

Blanch and refresh the patty pan courgettes, then

slice into quarters. Slice the baby courgettes thinly,

dress in rapeseed oil. Reheat the quail leg under the

grill while lightly blow torching the quail breast skin.

At The Boat, Liam serves the quail and courgette

with walnut puree, lentils and a fried quail egg.

Finish

the dish with baby pak choi cress or courgette flower

leaves.

20


The

Boat Inn

Lunch menu

TWO COURSES FROM £8 THREE COURSES £10

Christmas Party Menu

et, Lichfield, Staffordshire, WS13 6DP – Tel: 01543 257 986

Lunch 321 – 3 Mondays Courses £10

Woodburning &

SERVED 5.45-6.30 TWO COURSES multifuel £10 stoves

Visit our showroom to be amazed by the choice -

from traditional to modern

With such a wide range of fires, fireplaces and stoves

there is sure to be a style to suit you & your home

Dinner

TWO COURSES £15 THREE £18

THREE COURSES TWO PEOPLE

AND A CARAFE OF WINE £30

STARTERS

Early doors menu

otato & Coconut Soup with Crusty Bread & English Butter v GFr

3-5 LOMBARD STREET, LICHFIELD. WS13 6DP

01543 257986 - NEW WEBSITE LIVE WWW.WINE-DINE.CO.UK

Sherry Pate served with Orange and Cranberry Compote &

Toasted Brown Bread

Beetroot, Stilton and Walnut Gallette v

WE OF F ER

A C OMP LE T E

INST ALLA T ION

SERV ICE

t he heart of t he home...

Chestnut & Tarragon Casserole with Gnocchi Dumplings v GFr

rel, Horseradish & Dill Mousse served with Oatcake Biscuits

and Pea Shoots

We are now offering

‘essential packs’ to those self

isolating or unable to source

essential products.

Meals can also be collected

and possibly delivered on

request.

Order online or call

the restaurant

01543 361692

See our website

for the menu

the boat inn, Walsall Road,

Lichfield WS14 0BU

MAIN COURSES

Visit our showroom and be amazed by the choice! With such a wide range from traditional to modern, there’s sure to be a style to suit you!

rizo Meatballs Served on Penne Pasta in a Rich Tomato,

& Spinach Sauce topped with Mozzarella & Cheddar

Roast Potatoes, Root Vegetables, Cranberry & Stuffing Vol-au-Vont

with a rich Gravy £1 supplement

ignon Served on Horseradish Mash with Glazed Carrot

& Kale Savoury Crepe topped with Shropshire Blue Cheese Sauce

5 Stafford Road, Lichfield WS13 7BZ - Tel: 01543 263 383 • www.thefireplacelichfield.co.uk • Email: sales@thefireplacelichfield.co.uk

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9.30am - 4.30pm • Sat 10am - 4pm. Closed Sundays and bank holidays. FREE ON-SITE PARKING.

with skin-on fries or Green Salad


F O O D & D R I N K

Just the tonic

THIS MONTH THE GINTLEMAN, THE MIDLANDS’ LEADING RACONTEUR AT HOUSE PARTIES

AND VENUES ACROSS BIRMINGHAM, CHECKS OUT SOME MARVELLOUS MIXERS

TO provide a quick pick-me-up within this current

period of uncertainty, until a newfound sense of

normality returns and we all then make up for lost time

by helping an ailing hospitality industry and affiliated

suppliers get back on their collective feet, for this

month’s brief musings I wanted to focus on the other

50-75% of your gin experience, showcasing its partners

in crime; mixers. With a few new flavour combinations

you may want to experiment with if staying in

ultimately becomes the new going ‘out’ this summer.

After the relentless juggernaut that has been the

dominance of Fevertree since 2005, the mixer market

leader has seen a slowdown in market share this

year, recently diversifying into flavoured sodas for

those who just can’t enjoy the subtle quinine taste

of contemporary tonics or want to steer clear of the

overtly sweeter rose lemonade.

Having been working on the flavours throughout 2019

to accentuate a variety of spirit profiles, the one that

jumped out was their white grape and apricot soda

- perfect for your new peach or floral gins and fruity

summer spritz. Wonderfully tart white grapes pair

perfectly with the sweet apricot top notes from Italy

with a complex herbaceous back note balanced with

the subtle floral French verbena oil.

Anybody who’s ever done one of my tastings will

vouch for my penchant for the self-styled champagne

of tonic - 1724. This has been a staple for me since its

introduction, along with savoury Gin Mare in 2010.

Seventeen Contemporary Mixers, launched in

February, is an expansion of new products to sit

alongside 1724 and, although the tonic’s liquid remains

the same with a new branding makeover, the other

flavours piqued my interest and were worth bringing to

your attention:

Ginger Beer: a soft and balanced ginger beer with

hints of pink grapefruit and guayana (giving the mixer

a little caffeine kick) for a new gin twist to a classic that

influenced the Moscow Mule and Dark and Stormy;

the Gin Buck.

Apple Kombucha: a blend of fermented black tea,

fermented apple and pear flavours, not something I’ve

jumped onto the bandwagon from a flavour perspective

but the profile sounds intriguing, especially with an

orchard-inspired gin.

Spicy Tomato: A tomato juice mixer with hints

of fino sherry, a big kick of celery and pepper could

potentially rival Big Tom as your Sunday morning

mixer to complement a savoury gin inspired Bloody

Mary alternative; the Red Snapper cocktail.

And finally, Gascoigne’s Tonics & Mixers based in

Yorkshire are offering a case of 12 available from www.

haworthsteambrewery.co.uk priced £19.50, including:

Marmalade Tonic: the best Spanish oranges pressed

with a little zest then filtered to give a clear punchpacked

mixer for a citrus gin taste sensation.

Pomegranate Tonic: for herbal or spicy gins.

Red Gooseberry Tonic: the finest pressed

Gooseberries from Norfolk fruit growers create a

powerful unique flavour blended with all natural

quinine and will compliment Elderflower or lighter gin

flavours

Gascoigne’s Sour Bramley Apple Mixer: sour

pressed Bramley apple juice which has been filtered

and paired with unripened English apple varieties to

give a sour crisp mixer which will enliven a gooseberry

gin.

Fingers crossed normal service returns for May’s

musings and you can all start planning belated

ginspired experiences...

22


Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea on Tuesday 7th & Thursday 9th April

Afternoon tea and a live choir. Adults: £24 | Children: £16

Dirty Dancing Tribute Evening on Friday 10th April

3 course dinner and entertainment. £47pp

Magical Family Sunday Lunch on Sunday 12th April

A 3 course lunch with a visit from the Easter Bunny and

a family magic show. Adults: £30 | Children 12 & under: £21

Peaky Blinders Murder Mystery on Friday 17th April

3 course dinner and entertainment. £41pp

St George's Day Lunch on Thursday 23rd April

3 course dinner and entertainment. £32pp

Abba Tribute Evening on Saturday 25th April

3 course dinner and entertainment. £47pp

Best of British Celebration Dinner on Friday 17th April

A delicious four course dinner with a British flavour. £35pp

Spring & Summer Flower Arranging

on Wednesday 29th & Thursday 30th April

Includes coffee on arrival, a flower arranging

demonstration and a three course carvery lunch. £25pp

Afternoon Tea with Swing Classics on Sunday 3rd May

Afternoon tea and a live choir. Adults: £22 | Children: £15

An Evening with Lola Lamour on Friday 15th May

3 course dinner and entertainment. £33pp

Sherlock Murder Mystery Evening on Friday 19th June

3 course dinner and entertainment. £35pp

Moor Hall Drive, Four Oaks, Sutton Coldfield B75 6LN

0121 308 3751 www.moorhallhotel.co.uk

Bird Street, Lichfield WS13 6PR

01543 414822 www.thegeorgelichfield.co.uk

FURNITURE • GIFTS • ACCESSORIES

Inspirationally French

La Maison Bleue, Heart of the Country Village, WS14 9QR

Tel: 01543 481414 - Email: info@lamaisonbleue.co.uk

www.lamaisonbleue.co.uk

Open 10.00 - 5.00 Tues to Sun

THANK YOU!

TO ALL OF OUR LOVELY

CUSTOMERS WHO HAVE

SUPPORTED OUR EVENTS.

WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD

TO BRIGHTER TIMES AND

SHOWCASING MORE

INCREDIBLE CHEFS WITH

YOU SOON.

OUR GIFT VOUCHERS MAKE GREAT

PRESENTS AND ARE CURRENTLY

ISSUED WITH NO EXPIRY DATE.

#STAYHEALTHY #SUPPORTLOCAL

www.saucesupperclub.co.uk


H E A LT H

Facing crisis together

COUNSELLOR ALYCE WILLIAMS TAKES A LOOK AT THE MENTAL HEALTH IMPACT OF

THE CURRENT CORONAVIRUS SITUATION, AND OFFERS SOME TIMELY ADVICE ON

LOOKING AFTER OURSELVES IN TIMES OF CRISIS

There is no doubt about it; as a nation we are feeling

the impact of the pandemic Coronavirus. There is

an air of uncertainty in the air and this is leaving

many of us all feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed and

insecure.

Feelings such as these are quite normal when

something big like this happens; as humans we desire

a certain amount of certainty to feel safe so when

that safety feels at threat, we become anxious. In fact,

uncertainty is a breeding ground for anxiety and

when we feel anxious, we often want to feel more in

control to create a sense of safety.

This explains why people are panic-buying hundreds

of loo rolls and all the pasta in the shops. The belief

system around this is ‘I’m protecting myself by

having all this stuff now I can feel safe’, however this

is a false sense of security because it further down the

line, the panic buying will create other problems, like

the anxiety of a food shortage. So, trying to control

the uncontrollable is futile and exhausting and often

creates a cycle of anxiety, which is trickier to get out

of.

I think the truth now is we are all going to feel some

level of anxiety over the coming days, weeks and

months as big changes are in process and change is

scary for everyone. It seems to me that the key is how

we collectively respond to this to help look after our

own and other people’s mental health.

Being a counsellor and working in mental health I

have spent some time reflecting on how I think we

can all achieve this to a level and try to stay mentally

and emotionally as fit as we can in such turbulent

times. Here is what I have come up with somehow,

and I really hope it is a help.

Firstly, talk to people. Express how you feel and don’t

think you are alone in those feelings; most of us, if

24


not all of us, are having a similar response. By talking

about how you feel it lightens the burden and helps

us realise we are not alone in our feelings, we are

not so different from the next person. I think this is

important, this creates a sense of ‘we are all in this

together’ and I think that feels good.

That leads me nicely onto self-isolation. Even the

term is intimidating, and for many of us this is going

to be our new reality. So how can we help others who

are either faced with or currently in this situation?

Stay in contact, call, write, email, set your Granny

and Grandpa up on social media - anything that will

alleviate feelings of loneliness, it is simple, and it is

important. Humans are pack animals and we thrive

off human contact. It’s a case of all hands-on deck

here; we need to keep everyone linked to the outside

world and other humans.

High on my priority list next is exercising a little

kindness. Kindness mostly costs nothing or very little

at all, but it also carries us a long way. I encourage

you all to get outside of yourselves and show some

kindness. A few daffs out of your garden in a jam

jar on the doorstep of your neighbour, dig out some

old magazines and reading material and post them

or drop them into someone in need, run errands for

people, take them some cake when it’s safe. Kindness

creates hope and hope helps sustain us during dark

times. I am all over kindness!

GET BACK TO NATURE,

SAYS ALYCE

ALYCE WILLIAMS IS

A PERSON-CENTRED

COUNSELLOR WITH

CLINICS IN SHENSTONE,

RUGELEY AND

SWADLINCOTE

Get creative. See this time as creative space to do

the things your busy life does not always allow you

to do. Paint, write, make music, bake, cook, get a

jigsaw; this stuff is good for your soul and, in my eyes,

feeding your soul helps keep you emotionally more

balanced and centred. Good mental health relies on

nurturing mind, body and soul so take this downtime

and use it wisely.

Finally, get back to nature. Whenever you can, get

your feet on the earth; connecting to the earth keeps

us feeling more grounded and relaxed so get in your

garden and put your feet on the grass, plant some

flowers or pull up the weeds. If you are able, take a

walk and get some exercise. Nature stabilises us and

the fresh air is rejuvenating so don’t underestimate

its healing properties, particularly if you have been

cooped up and unwell in doors for a period.

So good luck all and try to keep in mind that

sometimes out of crisis can come opportunity; stay

hopeful in these dark times as they shall pass.

Alyce Williams is a person-centred counsellor

with clinics in Shenstone, Rugeley and

Swadlincote, as well as offering telephone

consultations. For more details visit www.

alycewilliamscounselling.co.uk and to book

an appointment call 07546 465652 or email

alycewilliamscounselling52@gmail.com

25


H E A LT H

Fitness begins at home

THIS MONTH, LICHFIELD BASED PERSONAL TRAINER RAÚL ROMERO

SHARES HIS TOP TIPS ON KEEPING FIT FROM HOME

Keeping fit from home is an ever increasing trend,

especially in the current climate. Although there is

that certain special spirit and exhilarating energy

of going to train at the gym or training studio, in

today’s society, it is not always possible to take time

out of every day to hit the gym, hence why keeping

fit from home is a fab alternative.

With ever evolving technology, there are a plethora

of options for keeping fit from home, from Les

Mills on Demand and Peloton, to Youtube channels

galore. Although each have their advantages, the

key is ensuring you choose quality over popularity or

ease. Whichever option you select, it is a great way of

not only keeping fit, but also working out with your

family.

For a more personalised approach, it can often pay to

look local. With technology working it’s magic in our

society, there are various online options available that

can motivate and help keep you fit from home with

more personalised training tailored to you.

At Ambition PT, we are proud to help our clients

achieve their goals face-to-face as well as virtually

through 1-2-1 online programmes and virtual group

sessions.

Quite simply put, there is a solution for everyone

to keep fit and healthy from home. Even if online,

virtual training doesn’t tickle your taste bud, we can

all easily do certain exercises at home that don’t

require any equipment at all, yet can still make all

the difference in helping us achieve our fitness goals.

So with that in mind, here are five simple yet highly

effective exercises to do from the comfort of your

own home with no special equipment required:

1. Pulse squats

Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width

apart, resting your arms down at your sides.

While bracing your core and keeping your chest up

and neck neutral, bend your knees and push your

hips back as if you’re going to sit in a chair. When

your thighs are parallel to the floor, pause.

The benefit of pulsing is that you are constantly

PULSE SQUAT

stimulating and engaging the muscles. This also

allows you to hold the movement longer as you are

not releasing and re-engaging that connection. You

can do more reps with smaller movements (like squat

pulses), which work your muscles in a different way

than doing full-range.

2. Press ups

Yes, one of the good old classic exercises that even

after years, is still one of the best exercises you can

do equipment free.

The best way to do a push-up is to think of it as a

moving plank. The correct setup for a standard pushup

is to position your hands shoulder-width apart, or

a little bit wider. As you bend your elbows and lower

toward the ground, your elbows should be at about a

45-degree angle to your body.

26


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3. Running on the spot

This is ‘exactly what it says

on the tin’! A great fat burner

where you can choose the

intensity level to suit your

needs.

Begin by standing with the

feet shoulder-width apart snd

hands by your side. Engage

your core, lift your feet only

an inch or two off the ground,

hopping from foot to foot.

Move your arms as you jog on

the spot.

4. Side plank leg lift

This is fab for not only

working the abs, but also

toning legs, bums and tums!

Lie on your side with your

elbow directly underneath your shoulder and your

forearm perpendicular to your body. Shoulders

should be stacked and chest perpendicular to the

ground. Stack your feet together and place your top

hand on your hip. Then drive your hips up to form a

straight line with your body from head to toe.

Continue to keep hips elevated and avoid sagging

of the lower hip. Be mindful of contracting your

abs, quads, and more significantly your glutes. Raise

your top leg into the air and maintain a straight leg

throughout the movement. Hold this position for 2-3

seconds for each rep.

BIRD DOG

SIDE PLANK

LEG LIFT

5. Bird dog

With this exercise, you can really zone in and work

your back, glutes and core. Kneel on the floor and

support the body with both hands and both knees.

Position the back so that it is flat and neutral.

Simultaneously raise the right arm and left leg until

the extended arm and leg are horizontal.

Pause briefly before lowering the arm and leg in the

same path as the upward movement. Alternate the

side of the body worked with each repetition.

As with all goals, the key is taking the plunge

and starting; however small the step, every little

counts when it comes

to building and

maintaining fitness.

Keeping fit and active

impacts and helps us

in every aspect of our

daily lives, from mental

health to keeping

physically fit.

Now more than ever,

the importance of

making a conscious

effort to move and keep

fit is key.

For any further

questions about

keeping fit from home,

contact Raúl at raul@

ambitionpt.co.uk.

28


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WATCHESOFSUTTON

WATCHES_OF_SUTTON


T R AV E L

A heartfelt Oman

ROBBIE SINCLAIR REFLECTS ON A MAGICAL MIDDLE

EASTERN ADVENTURE THROUGH AMAZING OMAN

VIEWING PLATFORM AT THE

MOUNTAIN TOP ANANTARA AL

JABAL AKHDAR RESORT

Nothing could have prepared me for the kindness

of the people I encountered in Oman. It wasn’t the

first time I had visited the region, but it was definitely

one of the most memorable and enjoyable, a more

enriching experience than I had previously.

I had heard great things about Oman; the beaches,

mountains, shopping, culture, historic sites and

variety of areas to visit so I was keen to explore. My

overnight flight was only six-and-a-half hours so I

tried to get in as much shut eye as possible because I

had a busy day of excitement ahead once we landed

in Muscat.

After collecting our baggage (many of them half

empty in preparation for the shopping I predicted I

would do), we jumped in our rental car and hit the

road to head to the W Hotel which was only a 15-20

minute drive away. EASY! The roads were quiet and

easily navigated.

Our room was perfect with pretty garden views and

a large comfortable bed, the space was ideal. The

rich mix of traditional Arabic design and modernism

still looked fresh as the hotel was only three months

old. We ditched our bags, showered and changed,

and jumped back in the car ready to explore.

First stop! The souk. Muscat’s topography is unique,

with mountains behind the main city centre and

small canyons separating a few of the different areas.

We drove just 20 minutes over the rugged landscape

that surrounds the city and found a parking space

and entered the treasure filled market. As the opulent

aromas of frankincense and rich oud hit my nose

I could feel myself getting more excited about the

new world I was about to enter. When travelling

I think it’s important to throw yourself in and try

EVERYTHING, and I did.

I’m always a little nervous when going to souks

because I don’t want to get hassled but the Mutrah

Souq was much more relaxed and everything I

needed it to be. The traders were so respectful and

friendly it really was like nothing I had experienced.

Just under two hours later I emerged from the souk

carrying a silk embroidered jacket, four pillows, two

footstools and a bag of freshly cooked sambosa (what

we know as samosa) to keep me going. These spicy

pockets of mixed vegetables or falafel are the perfect

tasty snack at the end of a shopping spree, and easy

to find in the souk.

Feeling a little tired, we decided to head back to the

W Hotel for an afternoon rest. The hotel’s pool area

is beautifully landscaped and perfectly designed with

vast amounts of room and great service too. The W

brand has a more vibrant image. Music was playing

which added to the fun atmosphere and it was

great to see younger families enjoying the afternoon

30


vibe. The hotel is great for young

couples but also with little ones in tow,

offering a range of activities and daily

programmes.

As we sat in our cabana sipping

on margaritas, we debriefed the

excitement of the souk and discussed

plans for the rest of our trip.

The next morning we ate breakfast at

D’arcy’s Kitchen, a cheery vintagethemed

eatery with a great menu of

pancakes, international treats and

familiar favourites matched nicely

with gingham check and sunflower

yellow decor. It was only a few

minutes walk from the W and an ideal

area with cafes and restaurants for a

change of scenery from the hotel.

On our return, we witnessed local

fishermen returning to the beach with the early

morning catch. Families gathered around to assist

and purchase fresh buckets for their family feast later

that day. This was a lovely glimpse into daily Omani

life.

Feeling ready to start the day we jumped in the car

and headed to Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. This

incredible place of worship took almost seven years

to build and is made from 300,000 tons of Indian

sandstone. Non-Muslims can enter between 8.30am

and 11am but even if you don’t make it inside, the

impressive architecture and gardens are still a must.

We couldn’t resist a little more shopping to hunt out

unique finds from the Middle East and surrounding

regions. After more of the souk we stopped by a

humble but delicious restaurant called Cornich

Cafe for sambosa, olives and the best hummus I’ve

eaten before heading back for some all important

relaxation by the pool.

After watching the sunset behind the pools gorgeous

TAQAH CASTLE, SALALAH

BEACH AT AL BALEED RESORT

SALALAH BY ANANTARA

backdrop of palms and glimmering waterfalls we

headed for dinner. We tried out the Siddharta

Lounge in the W where we enjoyed succulent

chicken and fresh sushi. The restaurant is attached to

the hotel’s popular and lively rooftop nightclub with

its own infinity pool. The atmosphere was electric

and cocktails flowed all night long, a total contrast

to the walk around the traditional souk. We really

enjoyed this aspect of Oman, the old and new which

existed harmoniously together.

For our final night in Muscat, we once again drove

through the meandering canyon highway, watching

the evening buzz of the city come alive. We were

heading a little further this time, along the famous

Mutrah Corniche to watch the sun set at Al Alam

Palace. This peculiar palace was re-built as a

Royal Residence in 1972. It isn’t the palatial grand

structure one would expect in the Middle East,

especially having stayed in some pretty opulent hotels

in the past. It has become somewhat an Instagram

icon due to its unique retro design and colourful

paint work. There is nothing ornate,

or even palatial about it, but its

unique look and surrounding area

make it a worthwhile trip.

We continued our journey along

the coast for an evening visit to the

Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton

Hotel. This is the most opulent of

all the luxury hotels in Muscat. The

grand lounge and reception area is

most impressive and the hotel offers

beautifully landscaped gardens and

a stunning beach.

On the way back to the city we

stopped at Bait Al Luban for a

traditional Omani evening and it

31


was the perfect end to our first few days. We sat on

floor cushions around a large wooden table and as

we filled our stomachs on homemade breads and

curries of chicken, fish and spinach, and we spoke of

our experience so far.

The next day, our morning flight took us south to

Salalah where we stayed forfour nights at the Al

Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara, just a 25-minute

drive from the airport. We were greeted by Precious

who took us to our garden view pool villa which

really did exceed our expectations. High walls offered

total privacy to the pool area and sundeck, perfect

for romantics and honeymooners. For dinner we

ate dim sum and fresh fish at the hotel’s Mekong

restaurant.

I knew the Al Baleed resort was beautiful but I

hadn’t realised how great it was until I sat down for

breakfast on our second morning. Overlooking a

pristine beach and pool area, the breakfast buffet

gave me everything I needed and more. Warm

flatbread filled with cheese and thyme, classic

breakfasts from around the world and a sweet station

that would keep my dentist in business for the next

year!

With our stomachs full we hit the road in search of

historic sites in the area. We heard great things about

Salalah, an often overlooked beach resort that has

never hit mass commercial tourism which means

it keeps its small-town charm. An easy 25 minute,

quiet drive and we had arrived at the 19th century

Taqah castle in Dhofar. As we paid our small cost to

enter the building, the guard instantly doubled up as

a tour guide and gave us lots of information about

the family who lived here and what life was like back

then. I thought about other heritage sites and castles

I had visited over the years but couldn’t think of

another place where such pride and willingness to

share stories about one’s culture existed.

Once again we were back in the car

headed towards an old settlement

but not quite sure what to expect.

We pulled up at the 6,000 year old

site and were blown away by the

views, and the fact that we could walk

among the historic foundations of

early settlers. As we walked around

the walls I closed my eyes and tried

to imagine what life was like here

back then. Children had played here,

families had prayed and cooked

together, and as I stood there in my

bright white trainers and printed

vacation shirt I chuckled at the

absurdity of it all. Two very different

worlds coming together albeit

thousands of years apart. I said a silent hello to the

people who had been here before me and thanked

them.

On our way back we had just enough energy

for another souk. As a designer, I’m an obsessive

collector of ‘things’, so wherever I go I love to hunt

out great fabrics and objects to inspire my day job

and I have to say that Oman was one of my favourite

spots for such items. We pulled up to the gold souk

and I dashed around soaking up all the clashing

patterns and filling my lungs with the rich scents of

amber, saffron and leather oud.

Forgetting my very British nervousness around

bartering, I negotiated some great prices for fabrics

and jewellery and a beautiful smelling incense burner

which smokes away as I write this article, helping me

transport myself back to that magical place.

We woke the next morning and after a delicious

breakfast we headed to the airport for our short flight

back to Muscat for our next leg in our exploration.

Fueled by coffee we jumped into our 4x4 and

prepared for the exciting road trip ahead. The next

leg of the journey took us two hours drive inland

from Muscat and up... quite a way up to the top of

the cool mountains where (if Google is anything to

go by) I was about to see some of the most incredible

views in the Middle East.

We passed the checkpoint at the foot of the

mountain and we were greeted by a friendly guard

who chatted with us about our trip and told us about

all of the places we have to see before we leave. After

advising us on which setting to put our 4x4 in, he

waved us off and wished us a safe journey.

Jagged mountains and rocks jutt upwards from the

ground as if they are trying to grab the stars that will

no doubt glitter across the ink blue sky that is due to

arrive in a couple of hours time. With only a short

time to go before we enter the Anantara Al Jabal Al

PRIVATE POOL VILLA, AL BALEED

RESORT SALALAH BY ANANTARA

32


Akhdar Resort, we drove in silence soaking in

the views stretched out all around us.

Sipping on Arabic coffee as we check in,

we are offered macaroons and dates and of

course we oblige. The time is 17:23 and the

sun is about to set at any second so as I make

polite chit chat with our porter, I rummage

around for my camera in preparation for the

plummeting sun. As I sat on the glass terrace

looking at our surrounding mountain view at

the red, pink and orange glow that beamed

from behind the ad-hock silhouette of the

mountains, I thought about how lucky I was to

visit such a place.

We rose early and grabbed our cameras to take

more pictures of the fresh morning sky and

rocky mountains and as we caught a view of

the incredible pool area we decided that a lazy

tanning day is a top priority. This just isn’t any

hotel swimming pool. Comfy lounge chairs

look out across the cavernous mountains and

the infinity pool makes you feel like you are

floating amongst the rocks. As I sit in silence

I feel the last of my worries melt away. I can’t

imagine going back to my desk and checking

an email or meeting a deadline, for now all I

need to do is close my eyes and relax.

It would be hard to pick a favourite hotel as

they all offer such different experiences from

the W’s glamorous pool area and delicious

cocktails to the hidden oasis of Al Baleed

Resort Salalah by Anantara or the Anantara

Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort’s otherworldly

mountain retreat. I know that I would visit all

of them again in a heartbeat.

The Middle East always divides opinion and,

before visiting, I too was influenced by the

media and had my reservations about coming

but nothing prepared me for the kindness I

felt in Oman. It is a very special country and

will always hold a dear place in my heart.

The people are warm and welcoming and

the culture seems to hold a magical mysticism

that reminds us of its rich past that people still

respect today whilst still embracing change.

As I write this article I’m reliving all of the

fond memories I made and I feel Oman

tugging at me to come back, and I can’t wait.

MOSQUE, MUSCAT

For Oman travel ideas and holiday

packages speak to the experts at RB

Collection on Boley Park, Lichfield,

on 01543 258631 or email vip@

rbcollection.com rbcollection.com/

oman

33


FA S H I O N

Stay cosy

WITH THE PROSPECT OF SPENDING INCREASING AMOUNTS OF TIME AT HOME ON THE HORIZON,

AMY NORBURY CHECKS OUT SOME OF THE LATEST LOUNGEWEAR LOOKS SO YOU CAN KEEP

COMFY WITHOUT COMPROMISING ON STYLE

STAYING in is set to become the new going out. In

the wake of the C-word crisis, more and more of

us will be spending ever increasing amounts of time

indoors. If you’re one of those people (and who isn’t?!)

who reaches for the comfort of PJs the second they

get home from work, then the prospect of spending

all day lounging around in your favourite comfies is

probably an enticing one; after all, there’s no denying

the comfort of slipping into something cosy to give us

a mental health boost in these uncertain times.

For those who will be starting to work from home

though, getting dressed can be one of the best ways to

boost your mood and keep productivity levels high.

However, it can be tricky to know what to wear for a

day in the make-shift office, with the pyjamas that you

just rolled out of bed wearing deemed too uninspiring

and wholly inappropriate should the need for a video

call strike, while pulling on your usual office regalia

means compromising on comfort.

The solution here is to dress in clothes that hit the

sweet spot between workwear and PJs.

Thankfully, acquiring a wardrobe that you can proudly

hunker down and work hard in without getting dolled

up to stay at home has been made much easier thanks

to that perfect workaround - loungewear.

Everyone from luxury nightwear brands to high street

heroes have been getting in on the loungewear act,

delivering everything from cashmere co-ord tracksuits

to luxurious cardigans, on-trend hoodies to slippers

packing some serious style. The time has come to

forget the sofa-bound stereotype because staying in

never looked so good.

And while slipping on your high heels or office shoes

is set to become a thing of the past, it doesn’t mean

settling for your battered old slippers as the indoor

footwear of choice.

Ever since the Gucci furry slides became the fashion

icon of 2015, comfort-seekers have witnessed a

blurring of lines between outside and indoor shoes,

with fancy slides and satin slippers becoming the

ultimate in luxe footwear.

Once mocked for their distinct lack of aesthetic

appeal, the rubbery pool slides and moccasin slippers

of the past have received a luxury makeover and now

come adorned with embellishments galore.

So fashion lovers rejoice, and embrace the style of

staying in.

IVORY TOP, £15, AND JOGGERS, £15,

MISS SELFRIDGE

34


£185

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FA S H I O N

Style it for summer

JILL HARTLEY, FOUNDER OF LUXURY BRIDAL AND FASHION BOUTIQUE NERO E BIANCO,

AT BARTON MARINA, LOOKS AHEAD TO SOME OF THE HOTTEST SUMMER STYLES

It’s time to start thinking about those staple pieces for your summer wardrobe. As always at Nero e Bianco our

mission is to help women look amazing and feel empowered. Here’s a selection of styles that will put you in the

lead for on trend style in the coming month.

One of the biggest trends is stripes; featured here

with this beautiful blouse and pleated skirt duo. This

playful ensemble is the perfect statement look for the

summer. The sunshine yellow and sea blue colours

offer much-needed calming vibes. You can easily wear

this for both daywear and evening events by switching

up the footwear and accessories. Both items can be

worn separately with more simpler pieces for a more

subdued look.

Another trend is the ultimate female power-suit. This

is the blazer of dreams; with mesh panelling detail and

a chiffon cape it not only elongates your torso but also

gives you a slender figure. This ecru white is incredibly

on trend as lighter colours are perfect for the summer.

Add a pop of personality with colourful shoes and

accessories to minimise the white look, or keep it sleek

and sophisticated by sticking to the light-coloured

trend.

36


w w w . n e r o e b i a n c o . u k

Nero e Bianco Exclusive Fashion & Bridal

Barton Marina, Burton upon Trent, DE13 8AS

01283 346704


These trousers look also phenomenal paired with the

jacket we’ve just seen, but why not mix it up with a

simpler top and still create a killer look. This lilac shirt

featuring an abstract design pocket is so stylish; pastel

colours are everywhere at the moment. Shirts are so

effortless and always make you look put together. This

outfit looks great paired with a sandal heel or mule but

is equally as stylish matched with a white trainer for

the ultimate casual look.

This vibrant orange shirt dress is one of our favourite

looks because you can dress it up or down no matter

the event. It is the kind of dress you can throw on

quickly and head out the door and still look incredible.

A shirt dress is so flattering as it suits all body types.

Pair with stylish sandals, wedges or trainers, or dress

up with heels for a more evening look. For a different

take, we love this layered look with an organza blouse,

belt and statement jewellery.

This tear patterned dress features pearl detailing

on the straps and these gorgeous blue tones scream

holiday by the sea. The wrap-around fit of the dress

creates such a flattering look and the bow adds a chic

detail. This would not only be perfect for holidays and

trips abroad but also barbecues and summer parties.

Finally, this little green number has become the little

black dress of the holiday season – it’s a must-have!

In a beautiful khaki colour, it’s a simple dress but

should not be underrated. It’s one of those dresses

that we all need, because it’s just so effortless to style.

Featuring an A-line fit, it is so flattering on every body

type. Pair with a statement belt, jewellery and sandals

for the ultimate summer look!

View a wider range of our summer collection at www.neroebianco.uk

or visit us in store at Barton Marina, Barton under Needwood.

38


B E AU T Y

Tackling men’s

skincare needs

FROM CONCEALERS TO ANTI-AGEING EYE CREAMS, GROOMING IS NOW A MULTI-BILLION POUND

INDUSTRY WITH FIGURES SHOWING MORE THAN 40% OF MEN AGED 31-45 SPEND UP TO 45 MINUTES

PREENING EVERY MORNING. TO HELP GET YOUR SKINCARE ON POINT, LISA PIDDINGTON REVEALS THE

MANLIEST MUST-HAVES FROM HARVEY NICHOLS BIRMINGHAM

GIVE NATURE A HELPING

HAND: There are days when we

could all do with a little help when

it comes to our skin, and tinted

moisturisers are designed to not

only even tone and brighten the

complexion but also cover those

blemishes. The Let’s Face It

BB Tinted Moisturiser, £25,

from Shakeup, is available in

three shades. It’s suitable for all

skin types and contains vitamin E,

peppermint and eucalyptus oil to

cool and freshen.

FIND YOUR SKIN TYPE: Do you

have dry, oily or combination skin?

This can help you pick the right daily

essentials. Because most men have

combination skin it’s best to opt for lightweight,

easily absorbed products that can

add hydration to areas most in need.

ESPA’s lightweight Hydrator,

£32, works to nourish and soothe skin.

Mineral-rich birch sap and hyaluronic

acid maintain optimum levels of

moisture, while antioxidant vitamin E

replenishes.

ADD PRODUCTS

TO YOUR SHAVING

RITUAL: You may well understand

how to shave correctly, but aftercare is

equally important to keep skin in tip top

condition. Opt for products that protect

and repair post-shave damage, improving

texture and adding nourishment. The

SOS Shave Oil, £40 from Heaven,

is designed to improve the texture of

your skin. It’s easy to use; simply add a

few drops to your shaving cream or leave

on overnight for added nourishment.

OPT FOR ANTI-

AGERS: As your skin

ages, its requirements

change – it may be less

hydrated and fine lines

and discolouration

start to appear. Serums

are an effective way of

feeding and plumping

your skin and can

be teamed with

your favourite daily

moisturiser.

Sisley’s Sisleÿa

L’Intégral Anti-

Age Anti-Wrinkle

Concentrated

Serum, £350, boasts

a powerful combination of plant-based active

ingredients that smooth the visibility of fine lines.

LOOK AFTER YOUR EYE

AREA: The skin around your eyes

is much more sensitive than the skin

on the rest of your face, so you need

to choose creams that are not only

effective for this delicate area but

also lightweight.

The anti-ageing Elemis Time

Defence Eye Reviver, £42, is

clinically proven to help smooth

lines while at the same time it also

boosts hydration.

ALL PRODUCTS FEATURED ARE AVAILABLE

FROM THE BEAUTY HALL AT HARVEY NICHOLS

BIRMINGHAM, THE MAILBOX, AND ONLINE AT

HARVEYNICHOLS.COM.

39


H E A LT H

Specialist says ‘you don’t

have to live with back pain’

CONSULTANT ORTHOPAEDIC SPINAL SURGEON MR AMIT BHALLA FROM SPIRE

LITTLE ASTON HOSPITAL IN SUTTON COLDFIELD DISCUSSES THE MAIN CAUSES

OF BACK PAIN AND HOW WE CAN AVOID IT

BACK AND NECK PAIN CAN

AFFECT UP TO 90 PER CENT

OF THE POPULATION AT

SOME TIME IN THEIR LIVES

Back and neck pain can affect up to 90 per cent of

the population at some point in their lives and is one

of the most common causes for GP appointments.

It’s also the most common cause for absence from

work in those aged under 45.

“I see patients of all ages; unfortunately no one is

immune to developing back pain. The most common

risk factors are age (over 40s tend to be the most

common group), a physical job and family history

of back conditions,” says Mr Bhalla, consultant

orthopaedic spinal surgeon at Spire Little Aston

Hospital.

In most cases, the pain isn’t caused by anything

serious and will resolve itself in time. Treatment

can be as simple as a course of anti-inflammatory

medication combined with gentle exercises.

“Maintaining an active lifestyle is really important

when managing back and neck pain. If your pain

has not settled within six weeks then I would insist on

further investigation,” Mr Bhalla adds.

The following symptoms, however, do require

investigation:

• Back pain lasting more than six weeks

• Back pain in patients with previous history of cancer

• Bowel/bladder dysfunction

• Fever/unexplained weight loss

• Muscle weakness/footdrop

Not all back conditions require surgery and Mr

Bhalla offers a variety of treatments to suit the

patient.

“Non-invasive treatments are always my first port

of call,” he says. “Physiotherapy and manipulation

therapy combined with medication is often a good

starting point. Other treatments I offer include spinal

injections, and the final option is surgery such as

spinal decompression, discectomy and fusion.”

For routine surgery, patients can expect to go home

within 24 hours and a normal return to activities

within six to 12 weeks.

“My goal is to recondition the back; it’s the most

rewarding part of my job to see my patients return to

the hobbies and lifestyle they love - pain free.”

To book an appointment with Mr Bhalla please call

0121 580 7119.

40


I N T H E N E W S

Military collection up for auction

He’s been described as ‘the ultimate

professional soldier’.

But now former SAS trooper Peter

McAleese is bidding a farewell to

arms – in fact his entire archive

documenting his explosive career is

coming up for auction.

Glaswegian McAleese, 77, has served

with Britain’s Parachute Regiment,

the SAS, Rhodesia’s SAS and the

South African Defence Force.

He’s battled drug barons in

Columbia – including a covert

operation to locate and “deal with”

narcotics baron Pablo Escobar –

trained bodyguards in Moscow and

taken on security work in Algeria and

Iraq.

Now McAleese’s personal collection

is to go under the hammer in Richard Winterton

Auctioneers’ Fine Arts and Specialist Sale.

At the helm is his three-bar General Service Medal

named to Trooper SAS as part of a unique group of

nine medals.

The collection, which also includes McAleese’s

berets, dog tags and even a handmade ceramic

plaque painted by staff in Algeria as a tribute during

his stint organising security, is estimated to fetch up

to £22,000.

The divorced dad-of-three has decided to part

with the archive of a lifetime’s soldiering after

downsizing to a one-bed flat in his adopted home of

Birmingham, where he once ran The Gunmakers

Arms pub.

“I’m just an ordinary person, who happened to find

himself doing extraordinary things. I mean that from

the bottom of my heart,” McAleese said.

PETER’S EXTENSIVE

COLLECTION

FORMER SAS

SOLDIER PETER

MCALEESE

“I’ve had a great life. I’m extremely happy at the

moment and I have a marvellous relationship with

my family.

“I enjoyed the Army – the Army was good to me. It

just came to an end.

“I was a professional soldier and like a guy who is a

brickie, for example, you go where the work is.”

He added: “I’ve ended up with quite a lot of

personal militaria relating to my career and there

was just too much stuff – it was just gathering dust.”

McAleese has detailed his extensive experiences in

several books, including the stone-cold classic No

Mean Soldier.

Nick Thompson, medals specialist at Richard

Winterton Auctioneers, said: “Peter McAleese not

only served his country with distinction but led a very

colourful military career throughout.

“Because of the secretive nature in which the SAS is

run – for all the right reasons – it’s sometimes very

hard for the collector to find out the story behind the

medals but not in this case. It’s all there in the books.

“This collection represents a unique insight to the

tough world of a professional soldier.”

Due to COVID-19, Richard Winterton Auctioneers’

Fine Arts and Specialist Sale is currently rescheduled

to a one-day auction on Monday, April 27. Please

keep checking www.richardwinterton.co.uk as dates

continue to be subject to change.

Messages and emails are picked up daily –

contact 01543 251081 or

office@richardwinterton.co.uk.

41


M OTO R S

Life in the fast lane

J’AIME MOTORING EXPERT AND RESIDENT RACING DRIVER MARTIN PLOWMAN TAKES A LOOK

AT AN EXCITING NEW ROAD LEGAL RACE CAR WHICH IS ABOUT TO START PRODUCTION

Now here’s something to hopefully cheer you up

from the doom and gloom we are all facing… JRM,

a UK-based advanced engineering company that

has a history steeped in motorsport success, has

taken their world-championship winning expertise

and developed a limited-edition race car that is road

legal!

As GT1 title winners in the Nissan GT-R Nismo

GT1, as well as building and running the GT3 for

customer racing, JRM is releasing their version

of the ultimate race car for the road. Limited to

a run of only 23 cars, all hand-built at their UK

headquarters in Daventry with each limited-edition

chassis individually numbered, JRM’s GT23 will

commence production in Spring 2020. It will be

available to customers around the globe and preorders

started being taken in December last year.

In creating the GT23, JRM has reviewed all the

major systems in the car, and where appropriate r

edesigned components to enhance track

performance. The holistic approach has included

significant changes to weight, weight distribution and

inertia which required significant changes to engine

position, gearbox, and suspension architecture. The

engineering behind the JRM GT23 has been totally

functionally driven to make it a car that can deliver a

real race-driving experience.

JRM managing director Jason King says: “To

develop a car of our own has always been a goal

for JRM and we’ve been working behind the scenes

to make this a reality. It’s time to show people what

JRM can do. It’s always been hidden away, putting

someone else’s label on our work in performance

engineering. We know the GT-R inside out and our

team of designers, engineers and racing drivers have

taken this cult car to a whole new level - the GT23 is

incredibly special.”

JRM technical director Elliot Dason-Barber says:

“With a full aero package and light weighted to

achieve 500 bhp per ton, the GT23 is an impressive

package. This car is born from racing. Every

system the team has put on it has racing pedigree

and they’ve done a great job. To take a car that is

already a serious machine and hone it to our racing

specification, that includes the new JRM sensor

system, has been incredibly rewarding and enabled

us to demonstrate our capabilities to a market that

really know their cars.

“The racing elements this car delivers are like

nothing else on a road car, not even the very special

ones. It really is an authentic race car. ”

If you’d like to register your interest in a JRM GT23,

visit www.jrm-gt23.com or email Graham Prew on

gprew@jrm-group.com.

THE JRM GT23

42


COMING SOON

Fine Arts

&

Specialist Sale

Lot: 50 Lot: 181

Lot: 64 Lot: 776

See our website for updated details

Secure Online Bidding

View & Bid On All Sales From Home

Lot: 42

The Winterton name has been synonymous with

auctioneering throughout Staffordshire since 1864

View the catalogue online

https://t.co/ctRYL70kKM

The Lichfield Auction Centre, Wood End Lane, Fradley Park, WS13 8NF

44 (0)1543 251081 | www.richardwinterton.co.uk | office@richardwinterton.co.uk

INSURANCE VALUATIONS | PROBATE SERVICES | SPECIALIST SALES | HOUSE CLEARANCES

Due to COVID-19 we are temporarily closed to the public

Messages and emails are picked up daily. To arrange a valuation or

quotation, please contact: richardwinterton@richardwinterton.co.uk

SUPPORTING

LOCAL MEDIA

J'Aime Ad 190x280_April REVISED 2020.indd 1 30/03/2020 14:20

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