J A N U A R Y 2 0 2 1
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
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Welcome to J’AIME
Here at J’AIME we’re very excited to be starting a
shiny new year with all the possibilities that brings.
We’re hopeful that life will gradually start to return to
normal this year and that we’ll get some of our muchmissed
freedoms back. Oh for days when we can go
out for dinner with a group of friends, catch a film,
sit in the audience of a brilliant show at the theatre
or even just hug the people we love. Those days will
2021 brings exciting developments for J’AIME. You’ll
see the address of our website across the bottom of
each page in this magazine and that’s because we’ve
given www.jaimemagazine.com a wonderful
revamp. You can now visit the website to read
everything you see in the magazine plus much, much
more. The website will be updated each day and will
include positive, uplifting lifestyle articles from right
across the Midlands.
As well as being delivered to homes in selected
postcodes J’AIME is now available to pick up free of
charge in major supermarkets around the Midlands.
You can also read a digital version of the magazine
free of charge at read.jaimemagazine.com
Within the January magazine you can enter a
competition to win £100 of soft furnishings, read
about Birmingham’s craftsman bespoke tailor and find
out about the best walking spots in the region.
Add to that our usual mix of interiors, property,
fashion, beauty, travel, fitness, what’s on and food and
we hope we have something for everyone.
At the time of going to press we have no idea of when
coronavirus restrictions will ease in the region. We
hope our upbeat, positive content will bring a little
positivity to your life.
Please don’t forget to support your local independent
businesses. When you buy from a small business you’re
supporting your community and helping to keep
people in jobs.
From everyone at J’AIME, may we wish you a very
happy new year. We’re looking forward to sharing
2021 with you.
EDITOR: AMY NORBURY
ADVERTISING: JAN ASHLEY
07388 335 931
CONTRIBUTORS: JENNY AMPHLETT, HOLLY
THOMSON, RAUL ROMERO, DEBORAH MITCHELL
J’AIME IS PUBLISHED BY ASHBURY
PUBLICATIONS LIMITED AND PRINTED BY KEP
Check us out online at:
Find us on
InsideJ’aime this month...
6 Suits you, sir - Meet Birmingham’s craftsman
12 Property - Prepare to be stunned by our
property of the month
14 Interiors - Embrace the colour teal
18 Interiors - Give your lounge a new year update
22 Food and drink - Take it easy with a restaurantquality
24 Travel - Why a holiday close to home could be
just the ticket
26 Travel - Get your groove on in Cuba
32 Fitness - Why you should be setting your
summer fitness goals now
34 Fashion - New year, new boots
36 What’s on - Great ideas for the month ahead
38 What’s on - Four beautiful gardens to visit
40 What’s on - Our guide to some of the best
walking spots in the region
42 Positive thinking - Why 2021 really can be your
44 In the news - Meet the writer and the schoolgirl
who are both winning at life
46 In the news - Meet the award-winning Pakistani
author who chose to publish her book 4,000
miles away, in Staffordshire
48 Competition - Win £100 of soft furnishings
49 Health - The little pill that could kickstart your
weight loss regime
50 Beauty - Why great-looking skin starts from the
Shine a light on 2021
Discover a new space and a new you...
Is it time for a reboot? Maybe you need more space or maybe you now
need less room. Whatever your reasons we’ve got homes that suit
everyone. From stylish open plan living for the whole family to study and
snug spaces to hide the kids away (or yourself!) we’ve got it covered.
For more information
01785 788 312
Bovis Homes Mercia
We have 2, 3, 4 and 5 bedroom homes from £199,995
Appointment visits and virtual tours available!
Don’t worry if you don’t feel comfortable to visit us just yet,
you can still talk to us over the phone or via a virtual call.
Mortgage Paid for 12 months offer is available on selected homes only, not in conjunction with any other offer. Paid as a cash lump sum upon legal completion and calculated as the cash equivalent of monthly mortgage repayments
of £600 per month for the period of 12 months from legal completion. Cash lump sum capped at a maximum of 3% of the purchase price, subject to lender’s criteria, qualification and acceptance of cash incentives. Not applicable
to second homeowners or investor purchasers. We reserve the right to withdraw the incentive at any time without prior notice. ^Flooring is provided from our standard range unless otherwise specified. Photograph depicts a typical
Bovis Home exterior/interior. Elevation may differ to that shown. Internal images may include optional upgrades at an additional cost. Price & availability correct at time of going to print/broadcast. YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED
IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON A MORTGAGE ORANY OTHER DEBT SECURED ON IT. Ask our sales advisor for details. 5-star home rating based on the independent. Offer ends 31-12-2020. 5-star home rating based on
the independent annual home owner survey conducted by the Home Builders Federation. GDD57897
F E AT U R E
Suits you, sir
MARK PURCELL IS BIRMINGHAM’S LAST REMAINING APPRENTICE-TRAINED
BESPOKE TAILOR. JENNY AMPHLETT WENT TO MEET HIM
A three piece suit handmade by Mark
Purcell using British woven wool is
likely to set you back around £2,800
and take at least three months to be
made - yet he has people queuing up
The 52-year-old, who works out of a
converted garage at his Handsworth
Wood Home, has made suits for
everyone from pop stars to wealthy
businessmen. He makes plus fours for
the landed gentry and has even made
frock coats for an ancient order of
woodsmen, including leather pouches
to hold their arrows.
His USP is that he’s a true craftsman
in an automated age - doing
everything from measuring to design
concept and from pattern cutting
to sewing personally, often using
“A lot of people call themselves a
tailor and a lot of people use the work
bespoke, but there aren’t many people
around who are doing what I do,” he
“I’m the only remaining
apprentice-trained bespoke tailor in
Birmingham. I like to think of myself
as a true craftsman, a true tailor.
“I’m first and foremost a coat maker,
although I can do every other part of
what it takes to make a three piece
Mark didn’t actually start his tailoring
apprenticeship until the age of 27,
after first training to be an engineer.
It may seem an odd transition, but he
says there are definitely transferable
skills between the seemingly very
different worlds of work.
“I spent four years working in a factory, training
to be an engineer and initially thinking that was
what I wanted to do with my life. It was only
later, when my love for tailoring developed, that I
realised that was where my passions really lay.”
Mark was house sharing with friends who were
in a band during his engineering years and found
himself hankering after a taste of their creative
“I thought it looked like they were having
an awful lot more fun than me. I’d always
wanted to be a craftsman. I decided to pack
in the engineering, do some travelling with my
friends’ band and then look at finding a career
“So I basically did an engineering apprenticeship
then ran away with the circus. When I wasn’t
driving them to gigs I was learning to sew at
night school and making shirts and suits.”
Mark was making clothes for himself and his
friends, sometimes the more flamboyant the
better, and getting involved in the local music
“A chain of events led to me working with
fashion designer Patti Bell, of the fashion label
and boutique Kahn and Bell opposite the
Hippodrome in Birmingham.”
Patti Bell was at the forefront of New
Romantic fashion and made outfits for many
of the best known pop bands of the day.
“She could call Boy George and the
members of Duran Duran her personal
friends. She was Birmingham’s answer to
Vivienne Westwood. It was very exciting for
me to be a part of that.”
Mark is himself a good friend of Pete
Williams, the bass player from 80s band
Dexys Midnight Runners, and made suits for
a series of shows the band performed at the
Duke of York Theatre in London.
“Pete put in a request for a suit and I
knocked it up for him as quickly as possible.”
He’s also made suits for a member of punk
rock band The Ruts.
Mark set up on his own as Mark Purcell
Bespoke Tailoring in 2013, aiming to use his
experience working for Patti Bell and other
later employers to offer a unique service as a
complete craftsman tailor.
“I just wanted to be a craftsman. I didn’t
want to work in retail or to buy in then sell
ready-to-wear items. I just wanted to use my
skills to make coats, suits and other items for
people to invest in and wear for many years.”
As well as working directly for individual
customers he has, over the years, made very
special coats for a luxury brand in the south of
England that supplies none other than Captain
Tom with his coats.
It generally takes Mark at least three months
to make each item, which includes fittings,
pattern cutting and stitching the garment.
A three piece suit made with British woven
wool costs in the region of £2,800, although
Mark says people are less inclined to order
business suits at the moment and more likely
to be looking for bespoke countrywear.
“People aren’t in the office and they aren’t
wearing a suit to work from home, so instead
they’re investing in clothes for outdoor
“At the moment I’m making a naval peacoat
for a gentleman. It’s one key item that
he’s going to be wearing for many years to
come and probably handing down to future
“It isn’t cheap to have it made but it isn’t until
he’s owned it for 20 years and looks back that
he’ll realise that it’s been a cheap garment
because he’s had so much use out of it.
“A ready-to-wear coat might last you for three
years before the cloth starts to go thin and you
get rid of it. Where’s the economy in that?”
Mark says his customers are drawn from
all walks of life: businesspeople, pop stars,
enthusiasts for a particular era of fashion.
He says they can often be categorised as either
connoisseurs or people with an unusual figure
who buy items to fit them off the peg.
He even has one client who was bitten on the
arm by a shark and needs clothes created to fit
Perhaps because of his interest in the music
scene Mark says his own preference is for
flamboyant clothes, but that he always tries to
gauge what might work best for the customer
rather than himself.
“If you have flamboyant tastes then go for a
suit with a flamboyant lining, but if you don’t
then you should avoid that because it’ll start to
annoy you and you won’t want to wear it.
“People are very critical of what they see. If
someone walks into a room wearing clothes
that don’t fit very well then we critique them,
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it’s a natural instinct.
“But if someone walks into a room in perfectly fitting
clothes then it almost gives them an air of mystery,
we don’t immediately feel that we know something
Mark mostly creates menswear but he does make
clothes for women too, such as tailored country
He still makes clothes for himself when he has time,
and tries to make sure he treats himself to at least
one Mark Purcell Bespoke Tailoring item each year.
“It reminds me of the days when I used to go to the
fancy silk stall and buy fabric to make a shirt I knew
nobody else would be wearing when I went out.
“Most recently I’ve made myself a nice tweed
bomber jacket. It’s good to be able to show these
things to customers to give them ideas for the sorts of
things they could have made too.”
A far cry from 80s pop bands, Mark says his biggest
style icon was The Duke of Windsor.
“I admired him sartorially. The way he matched his
clothes together was fabulous. When his possessions
were sold off a catalogue was put together, and the
suits were just fantastic. The colours and designs
were fabulous. Such an inspiration.”
Mark Purcell Bespoke Tailoring,
https://markpurcell.co.uk, 07890 003523
夀 䔀 䄀 刀 匀 伀 䘀
B E S P O K E F I N E
J E W E L L E R Y
䈀 䔀 匀 倀 伀 䬀 䔀 䘀 䤀 一 䔀 䨀 䔀 圀 䔀 䰀 䰀 䔀 刀 夀 ꀀ
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Specialists in designing
and making, remodelling
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P R O P E RTY
Property of the Month
EACH MONTH WE SHOWCASE ONE OF THE MOST LUXURIOUS PROPERTIES
CURRENTLY ON THE MARKET IN THE MIDLANDS. THIS HOUSE HAS TO BE ONE
OF THE MOST SPECTACULAR YOU WILL SEE ALL YEAR.
Wall House, Green Lane, Wall, near Lichfield. Guide price: £4.25 million.
On the market with Aston Knowles: 0121 362 7878
THE AGENT SAYS: Wall House, located in the historic
Hamlet of Wall on the outskirts of Lichfield, is a residence
that’s steeped in history and charm. It offers a rare
opportunity to escape the city and acquire an enviably
located country pile.
The remarkable eight-bedroom, Grade II listed Georgian
property is reported to have been built on the site of a
sixteenth century residence and still contains part of the
structure as well as some of the panelling from the earlier
Wall House stands in beautiful formal gardens with more
than four acres of grounds and commanding views over the
Over a century later, Wall House still retains many of its
exquisite original features and has been sympathetically
enlarged and luxuriously appointed by the current owners,
who have also obtained planning permission for a singlestorey
structure of circa 1900 sq. feet in the secret garden,
next to the walled garden. The extension is planned to house
a state-of-the-art leisure complex with swimming pool or
alternatively could be used as a contemporary guest annexe
to the main house.
Wall House really is the perfect home for the discerning buyer
and there is truly very little to rival it as a prime example
of authenticity existing comfortably within the luxurious
W E L O V E :
THE MIX OF HISTORIC CHARACTER
FEATURES AND MODERN COMFORTS.
MANUFACTURER OF LUXURY BESPOKE KITCHENS
MANUFACTURER OF LUXURY BESPOKE KITCHENS
Family Business Est. 1974
MANUFACTURER OF LUXURY BESPOKE KITCHENS
MANUFACTURER OF LUXURY BESPOKE KITCHENS
WE HAVE MOVED TO A NEW LARGER SHOWROOM
Visit our Birmingham showroom to see and feel the quality.
Call to discuss your kitchen project and book a FREE,
no-obligation design consultation today!
SUTTON COLDFIELD 0121 353 4999
A photograph of one of
our most recent installations
Visit our Birmingham showroom to see and feel the quality.
Visit Call our to Birmingham discuss your showroom kitchen project to see and and book feel the a FREE, quality.
Call to no-obligation
Visit our new,
discuss your kitchen design
project consultation Sutton Coldfield
Visit our Birmingham showroom to see and book today!
feel the a FREE,
no-obligation showroom to see and
consultation the quality
Call to discuss your kitchen project and book today!
SUTTON COLDFIELD 0121 353 4999
Call no-obligation to discuss your design kitchen consultation project and today! book a
FREE, no-obligation SUTTON COLDFIELD design consultation 0121 353 4999today
SUTTON COLDFIELD 0121 353 4999
Hardwick Rd, Sutton Coldfield B74 3DP
Tel: 0121 353 4999
I N T E R I O R S
AS we head into a brand new year after the
unprecedented chaos that has been 2020, it’s time to take
a moment to reflect and reset. And it’s only natural that we
want our spaces to mirror that need for contemplation and
Paint specialists Benjamin Moore have encompassed just
that in their Colour of the Year for 2021 - Aegean Teal.
Intriguing, balanced, and deeply soothing, Aegean Teal
creates natural harmony.
“This year’s Colour of the Year is a balanced and
soothing blue-green hue, softened with a touch of grey to
create spaces with a casual elegance.” says Helen Shaw,
marketing director at Benjamin Moore UK.
This ocean-inspired shade works well in a multitude of
settings, bringing joy to all interior spaces. Adding a fresh,
crisp feel to a decor scheme, it also creates a relaxed and
soothing atmosphere - exactly what we need in the current
TEAL VELVET THROW, £220, THE FRENCH BEDROOM CO.
CHEVRON THROW, SHIMU.
PORTO LINEN LAMPSHADE,
CARNABY FOOTSTOOL IN TEAL VELVET,
ATKIN AND THYME.
ARPEN DESK IN TEAL AND BRASS,
£67 £135 £779
VILLA NOVA SAMI CUSHION, SWEETPEA & WILLOW.
BROSTE COPENHAGEN AIR LOUNGE CHAIR,
PINEAPPLE GLASS FLOOR LAMP
WITH TEAL VELVET SHADE, AUDENZA.
TEAL AND GREEN GLASS MARBLE EFFECT
LAMP, NEEDWOOD LIVING, ALREWAS.
EICHHOLTZ SET OF TWO COOPER DINING
CHAIRS, SWEETPEA & WILLOW.
TANDY DRESSING TABLE,
FINCHLEY TWO SEATER SOFA, £699,
SUBMARINE BLUE HERITAGE LOUNGE DESIGN
BY NAOMI STARR AT NAOMI STARR DESIGN.
BENJAMIN MOORE COLOUR OF THE YEAR
2021 AEGEAN TEAL, FROM £24 FOR 0.94L.
ACHILLES TEAL MIX FISH SCALE TILES,
£39.95 PER SQM, WALLS AND FLOORS.
THE REBEL THREE SEATER SOFA IN
A BOX IN TEAL, £899, SNUG SHACK.
LEO LIGHT TEAL KING SIZE BED, £549,
DULWICH MMIDI SOFA, £1,218, DARLINGS OF CHELSEA.
Fully bespoke &
5 The Lanes
340 Birmingham Road
0121 377 6090
Based in the heart of Staffordshire in the picturesque
villages of Alrewas & Tutbury, our shops are packed
with ideas and inspiration for your home. Incorporating
Jo Raybould Interior Design within, for those who
require the services of a professional designer.
136 Main Street
Alrewas, DE13 7ED
01283 711 272
7A High Street,
Tutbury, DE13 9LP
01283 813 322
Curtains | Blinds | Wallpaper
Refresh your home with
soft furnishings from our family
owned and run business
3 year guarantee
Expert fitting service
Best of Lichfield «««««
Top brands across all price ranges
Sale starts Jan 4th
25% off Selected ranges
By appointment only. FREE parking. Please book in
online: www.interiorchoice.net or call 01543 406162
I N T E R I O R S
AS ‘lockdown’ became not only a new buzzword for our
vocabulary but a way of life in 2020, it meant that we
spent a whole lot more time at home. And more time at
home means making sure our spaces are as cosy as can be.
If your living room has been multitasking as an office and
classroom for much of the past nine months, it might just
be time for a little refresh now life is getting a bit more
back to normal.
The sofa is the heart of the living room so choose wisely;
opt for something luxuriously comfortable to ensure you’re
relaxing in style, and because it’s not a piece you’ll want to
replace year in, year out it’s always best to invest in quality.
Elsewhere, small updates can make a big difference; try
switching up your soft furnishings to change your colour
scheme, or add a new lamp to two for some extra ambient
lighting - perfect for creating a cosy vibe.
VIVIAN COCKTAIL CHAIR, £149, MONKEY SIDE TABLE, £149,
AND ACCESSORIES FROM A SELECTION AT DUMELM.
DION THREE SEATER SOFA, £999,
AGRA TEALIGHT HOLDER,
CORDELIA GLASS AND MARBLE
TABLE LAMP, CULT FURNITURE.
NESTING SIDE TABLES, FROM
A SELECTION AT AMARA.
WOVEN CUSHION IN CORAL, HABITAT.
TEDDY SOFABED IN PLUM SMART VELVET,
FERM LIVING POUF, AMARA.
LEXON MINA LED LIGHT IN DARK PLUM,
WARM NORDIC CAPE LOUNGE CHAIR,
AUZERA ARMCHAIR IN PLUM AND BRASS,
HARRIET SOFA IN BLUSH PINK, £1,050, LIVING IT UP.
COPPER FALLS COLLECTION BY
PRESTIGIOUS TEXTILES, AVAILABLE FROM
INTERIOR CHOICE, LICHFIELD.
ABACUS SOFA AND GARY FLOOR LAMP
BY PORADA, AVAILABLE FROM CHAPLINS
AIDA TWO-SEATER VELVET SOFA IN
AUBERGINE, £499, DFS. WWW.DFS.CO.UK
GIGI TABLE LAMP PINK, £35, JUNGLE LUXE
NAVY WALLPAPER, £12, AND ANYA LARGE
SIDEBOARD, £499, ALL DUNELM.
SONA STORAGE COFFEE TABLE, £195,
FREE no obligation multifuel design stoves service with our kitchen specialists
16 -18 Britannia Way Britannia Enterprise Park, Lichfield WS14 9UY • 01543 263340
firstname.lastname@example.org • www.lichfieldkitchensandbedrooms.com
Opening Hours: Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Saturday 10:00am - 4:00pm
t he heart of t he home...
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
WE OF F ER
A C OMP LE T E
INST ALLA T ION
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!
5 Stafford Road, Lichfield WS13 7BZ - Tel: 01543 263 383 • www.thefireplacelichfield.co.uk • Email: email@example.com
Opening hours: Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am - 4pm. Closed Sundays, Monday’s and bank holidays . FREE ON-SITE PARKING.
F O O D & D R I N K
Take it easy
IT MAY STILL BE MORE DIFFICULT TO EAT OUT AT THE MOMENT BUT THAT DOESN’T
MEAN YOU CAN’T ENJOY RESTAURANT QUALITY FOOD. HERE ARE SOME OF OUR
FAVOURITE PLACES TO GET A LUXURY TAKEAWAY THIS MONTH
WHAT: BREAKFAST, BRUNCH AND LUNCH
WHERE: THYME KITCHEN, LICHFIELD
From soups and sandwiches to coffees and cakes,
brunch eaterie Thyme Kitchen is offering a full
If you’ve been hankering after a full English (but
not the washing up afterwards) then this is the
place for you.
We can heartily recommend their Persian eggs
(the prettiest poached eggs team J’AIME have
ever seen) and the luxury hot chocolate that is so
substantial it’s practically a meal in itself.
WHAT: A TESTING MENU PREPARED BY AN
WHERE: SAUCE SUPPER CLUB, DELIVERED
TO YOUR HOME
You don’t even need to step outside your front
door to enjoy amazing food created by one of the
best chefs in the Midlands (and we’re not talking
about your other half).
You can order a Sauce Supper Club menu online
and have it delivered to your doorstep. It’s as
simple as that.
The food, created by chef Tom Shepherd, is
available for home delivery from Thursday to
Sunday each week.
WHAT: DELICIOUS FRESH BAKES
WHERE: ON THE BREAD LINE, FOUR OAKS
The delicious aromas hit your nostrils long before you step into
Sebastian Clough’s independent bakery.
We’re talking seriously fragrant, freshly baked bread, cakes,
pastries and tarts - our mouths are watering just at the thought
A professionally trained baker with French pastry skills, Sebastian
has been working hard throughout both lockdowns to keep
delicious treats on tables right across the region.
WHAT: CAKES AND BAKES
WHERE: NOMS FROM TOM, BURNTWOOD
Established just last year as a hobby for keen
home baker Tom, Noms From Tom has quickly
turned into a full-time business.
Tom’s specials include weekly lucky dip sweet
treat boxes containing five randomly selected
slices of brownies, blondies and traybakes. The
postal boxes ‘go live’ every Sunday evening and
usually sell out quickly.
He also makes the sort of special occasion cakes
that are almost too beautiful to actually eat.
WHAT: DELI AND FRESHLY PREPARED FOOD
WHERE: POM’S KITCHEN AND DELI,
Not only can you get a take out of delicious
breakfast, brunch or lunch from Pom’s Kitchen,
you can also stock up your fridge and pantry at
Fresh, locally sourced produce is the key here -
for both the kitchen and the deli alike.
You can pick up everything from teabags to
ketchup and from luxury dog treats to a bottle of
gin - and buy your lunch and a coffee to go at the
WHAT: TAKEAWAY MEALS, FRESH
PRODUCE AND MORE
WHERE: STRAWBERRYFIELDS FARM AND
COFFEE SHOP, BURNTWOOD
From pizzas to fish and chips to Sunday roast
baps, the good folk at Strawberryfields have
been cooking up all manner of delicious meals
for people to take away.
The beauty of this place is that you can also
pick up pretty much everything you could
need for a weekly shop at the same time.
There’s always a tempting array of fruit and
vegetables, much of which is grown on the
You’ll find something new every time you
visit, depending on what’s in season.
T R AV E L
Cheshire - where science meets nature
HOLIDAYS CLOSER TO HOME HAVE BECOME THE NORM IN OUR NEW COVID-19
WORLD. JENNY AMPHLETT DISCOVERS THAT YOU NEED GO NO FURTHER THAN
A COUPLE OF COUNTIES TO COMPLETELY GET AWAY FROM THINGS
The moon landings were 200,000
miles away, but there’s a strong link
just a couple of hours up the M6.
It was one small step for man and
one giant leap for mankind when
Neil Armstrong set foot on the
moon, and it’s just a handful of
junctions along the motorway to a
place with serious connections to
that momentous occasion.
On July 20, 1969 the planet’s
population looked skywards as Neil
Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed
on the moon.
More than 200,000 miles away, back
on Earth, their mission was being
unofficially monitored and recorded by telescopes
close to our neck of the woods.
Jodrell Bank Observatory was keeping a close
eye on the Russian and American space race and
monitoring signals from both lunar missions.
Signals intercepted at Jodrell Bank, now a World
Heritage Site, caught the moment the astronauts
touched down on the surface.
I’ve seen endless images of the vast Lovell Telescope
but I’d never been to Jodrell Bank before.
The sheer size and scale of it takes your breath
away in person. We watched engineers who looked
like Lego Minifigures ascend in a lift and then walk
around the structure, like something from a science
Our knowledge of astrophysics extends little further
than watching too many episodes of The Big Bang
Theory, but you don’t need to be an expert to enjoy a
visit to the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre.
There are lots of interactive exhibits. My young
daughter’s imagination was
captured by rolling balls into a
black hole and sending messages
via the outdoor whispering dishes.
Admission is £8.50 for adults,
£7.50 for concessions, £6.50 for
children and free for under-4s, with
various family tickets available,
making it cheaper than a visit to the
It’s so close to home that a visit to
Jodrell Bank combined with time
in one of the woodlands or rural
beauty spots around Cheshire
makes for a well-rounded day out
or short break, with just a short
drive back home afterwards.
Lyme Park, at Disley, is an ideal choice for a stroll
after a visit to Jodrell Bank.
Garden-only admission to Lyme Park is from £8 for
adults and £4 for children, with group and family
However we headed to Tatton Park, at Knutsford,
and discovered that rather than an add-on to a
daytrip it was a day out in itself.
Our first port of call was the rare breeds farm where
we were able to pet and coo over donkeys, goats,
reindeer and freshly hatched chicks.
We watched piglets causing mayhem while mummy
pig closed her eyes in a mud bath just out of their
From the farm it was onto the mansion house, which
held my young daughter’s attention much better than
I had anticipated. Remember to ask for a trail sheet
for any little guests to fill in.
We paid a few extra pounds to ride on the old
fashioned carousel in the stableyard and to ride the
land train between the adventure playground and
farm, which both felt well worth the price.
On another visit we’d hire bikes, which are available
from around £5 per hour.
If you have the time to explore, the 50 acres of
gardens at Tatton and stunning. You’ll find yourself
constantly whipping your phone out for just another
At Tatton you can buy a discounted admission pass
for all three attractions but then use the tickets on
different days. Combined tickets are £13 for adults,
£7 for children or £33 for a family which could
potentially offer you three separate days out.
It was close enough to drive home, but instead we
headed for dinner at Cottons Hotel in Knutsford. It’s
a four star hotel that’s smart but family friendly.
Cottons has a child-friendly spa which is well worth
a visit with your little people if you’re in the area,
and not just for the mini robes with ‘V I Little P’
embroidered on the back. We spent a happy few
hours in the pool, whirlpool, sauna and steam room.
You don’t have to travel far to enjoy a break.
Sometimes the perfect day out or short break might
be right on your doorstep the whole time.
For more information on the places mentioned in the
Cheshire: Where Science Meets Nature,
Cottons Hotel, 01565 650333,
Jodrell Bank, 01477 571766, www.jodrellbank.net
Tatton Park, 01625 374400, www.tattonpark.org.uk
Lyme, 01663 762023, www.nationaltrust.org.uk
T R AV E L
Cuba - Get Your Groove On!
HOLLY THOMSON LEAVES RAINY OLD BRITAIN
BEHIND TO EXPLORE VIBRANT CUBA
When choosing a destination to holiday, Cuba may
seem like an odd choice. For those fond of history,
Cuba will be well remembered for the infamous
Cuban Missile Crisis and its tumultuous history
with the USA. Those interested in politics may be
intrigued by the country’s ties to communism and a
way of life unlike our own. Others may know Cuba
for its lucrative rum and cigar trade but maybe only
a few would associate Cuba as a holiday destination.
I also had these varied assumptions of the country
before I set foot on its soil. I had learnt about
the Cuban Missile Crisis at school, its politics at
university and as a result of student life, also became
fond of the rum Cuba supplied as well!
As I boarded my flight to this secretive country,
weighed down with presumptions about what I
would encounter, I wasn’t quite prepared to be
greeted with warm hospitality, rich and vibrant
culture and a zest for life which I haven’t experienced
Over the course of two weeks I travelled across
Cuba, from Havana to Trinidad, and broadened my
ideas of the world from within this small, secretive
and secluded nation.
My journey across this Caribbean island started in
Havana. I stayed in a guest house a stone’s throw
away from Old Havana and spent four days in the
The city has expanded, with the outskirts of the old
centre becoming more and more high rise, adapting
to the demands of the 21st century. Whilst this part
of the city may seem cold and lifeless, the larger and
more tempting Old Havana certainly doesn’t lack life
A short stroll through the market streets and squares
will reveal colourful and varied store fronts, selling
everything from original artwork to cigar cases.
Alongside these tourist shops are produce stores,
filled with the tempting colours and aroma of
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In the rooftops and balconies above the streets sprawl
bars and restaurants, often with live bands, the
collision of these different sounds coming together to
create a vibrant celebration of life.
Amongst the expansive choice of bars that line
and atop Old Havana’s streets there are a few with
history sealed within the walls. One of these is El
Floridita, which was a favourite of the Nobel Prize
winner Ernest Hemingway. Story has it that the
famous author would finish the day with a Daiquiri
here. The atmosphere is always vibrant with
large crowds coming each day to try the famous
Hemingway Daiquiri. Although this bar does get
busy and is perhaps not best suited for your everyday
local, it is a great spot to end your day amongst the
hustle and bustle of the shopping district.
Old Havana is also home to many traditional
squares often inspired by Spanish and European
architecture. Admire the cathedrals and other
historical buildings and take the time to notice the
difference in architecture from one property to the
next. I was amazed at how one property could so
closely resemble a spanish courthouse and the next a
Of course, one of the famous images of Cuba and
a must do whilst in Havana is to take a trip in a
classic car. Although the country is slowly beginning
to import more modern cars, the absence of widespread
trade with other countries has meant that
many parts of Cuban life have lagged behind the rest
of the world. Many cars used by locals date back to
the 1950s, as new parts are a lot easier to obtain than
a new car.
Make sure to research a fair price and
enjoy a friendly barter with the many
Havanans offering classic car tours.
On our trip our guide took us through
the streets of Old Havana as well as
along the beachfront and into the more
modern portions of the city where
history is still found. The famous Plaza
de la Revolución was our mid-way
point on our tour where you can witness
the huge steel memorials of the two
most celebrated heroes of the Cuban
Revolution, Che Guevara and Camilo
The capital is certainly the hub of
history and nightlife in Cuba but I was
most surprised by the variety on offer
only a few hours away from the city.
Our first stop after Havana was in
Vinales, a small town nestled within a
countryside of sloping green fields and
dramatic limestone cliffs. This town
and province are most famous for their
tobacco growing and we were lucky enough to visit a
tobacco farm and learn the art of cigar rolling from
the experts themselves.
This is a popular attraction in the area and even as
someone who has no interest in smoking, the process
and craft was fascinating to learn about and watch.
My biggest take away was that nicotine is most
prevalent in the stem of the tobacco plant, therefore
it can be removed to create a virtually nicotine free
cigar. After watching the demonstration we were
given the opportunity to purchase cigars directly
from the farm itself which is much preferred as not
only do you get a better price, but also the benefit of
supporting a small local business.
During our evenings in Vinales we were invited to
join the locals for salsa in the square.
This entailed dressing in our best flowing
dresses and hitting the make-shift dance
floor whilst the local band played lively
Latin music. The local townsmen were
keen to show off their moves and give us
impromptu dance lessons in the process. I
was put through my paces by a local salsa
teacher who after dancing with me for
quite some time declared that I needed
more work and I should attend his dance
class the next day.
Cubans love to dance and this was clear
to see as all of the locals took to the dance
floor to show us how Salsa should really
look. I was mesmerised by their flawless
moves and impressive synchronisation
with their dance partners. I was also
impressed by the amount of rum that can
be consumed on a typical salsa evening!
Events like this are a common occurrence
around all of Cuba. Please do join in
if you stumble past a square filled with
dancing and music. I was warmed by
the local’s hospitality and enthusiasm in
introducing us to a fundamental part of
Our final stop on our trip was Trinidad.
On the journey to this cultural heart of
the country we spent several nights in
various beach side towns where we were
treated to the warm and clear waters
of the Caribbean. Do make sure to also
make this part of your trip to Cuba, the
beach resorts are untouched and a real
Trinidad is the cultural hub of Cuba and
for good reason. Originally home to the
sugar industry in the country, the town
has since left its industrial past behind
and embraced tourism. Due to the city
no longer being seen as a major town
for industry in the region, very few new
buildings have been erected, allowing
the charm and colours of the traditional
buildings to shine. Nowhere is this more
prevalent than in the Plaza Mayor which
is like stepping back in time.
Amongst these buildings are art museums,
restaurants and places of worship. In the evening
the stairs off to the right of the plaza come alive with
dancing and music leading to more magical salsa and
In the day, walking the streets is enough to simply
soak up the culture and feel of this amazing city,
ut the outskirts of Trinidad are
filled with goodies too. I chose to
take a horse ride to a waterfall
nestled in the neighbouring
Escambray Mountains. On the
way, along a rocky path, we were
offered sugar cane juice and
other refreshments. When we got
to the waterfall we were able to
swim, all while surrounded by
tropical jungle - a far cry from the
colourful buildings we had left
behind only a few miles away.
Back in Trinidad we also
discovered more about the way
of life for Cubans all over the
country. Every other evening or so
I would make my way to a local
park, which was always full of
people and life. Although from
the outside this may seem idyllic, the parks are so
busy as for many they are the only source of internet.
A wifi card can be purchased from a shop on the
edge of the park and with this you will get an hour
of internet on one device. The parks were lined with
tourists and locals alike, all trying to update their
friends and social media with what they had been up
to in recent days.
With only an hour of internet, accessible only in a
park, you may be wondering how Cubans manage
to watch movies, TV shows and access other media.
The Cubans are nothing but resourceful and use
their community spirit to make sure everyone has
access to what they want or need. Although shops
are available to buy basic clothing, Cubans often opt
to shop out of their neighbours’ spare bedrooms,
trading clothes or selling items purchased on recent
trips to Mexico.
Life may seem constricted and oppressed from an
outsider’s perspective but after spending some time
on this mysterious island what was apparent to me
was how community spirit and camaraderie can
make anything possible. Cubans are proud of their
country, its industry, politics and people. They are
well educated and are not ignorant of their place in
the world. However, whilst they listen to our stories
of fast-paced lifestyles they remain content with their
lot in life.
Cuba was more than I expected, a breath of fresh
air and full of surprises. The country has attractions
aplenty and makes for a fantastic trip with a fabulous
mix of adventure and relaxation. With the country
only set to become more modernised in the future,
there is no better time to see Cuba than now or in
the near future.
To plan and book your holiday to Cuba call or
WhatsApp RB Collection on 01543 258631 or
email email@example.com. Book before
February 28, 2021 and mention J’aime Magazine to
receive a free Cuba guide book with personal hints
and tips added in www.rbcollection.com/cuba
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My offices are situated in the historic city of Lichfield and I have been providing personal
wealth management advice to my clients for more
than 25 years.
I specialise in the following key areas
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• Investment Planning
• InheritanceTax and Estate Planning
• Pre and Post-Retirement Planning
• Care Fees Planning and Funding for Care
Telephone: 01543 417342
Office: 6A Market Street, Lichfield, WS13 6LH
Jean Lamb Wealth Consultancy is an Appointed Representative of and represents only St. James’s Place Wealth Management Plc (which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority)
for the purpose of advising solely on the Group’s wealth management products and services, more details of which are set out on the Group’s website www.sjp.co.uk/products.
H E A LT H
Summer Bodies Are Made In Winter
LICHFIELD PERSONAL TRAINER RAUL ROMERO LOOKS AT
WORKING ON A LONG TERM FITNESS PLAN FOR THE NEW YEAR
Bitterly cold weather, short dark days and icy winter
mornings...all perfect excuses to stay at home in front
of a toasty fire with a hot cuppa, binge watching the
latest TV shows and filling our boots with satisfying
comfort food whilst repeating the mantra as old as
time of ‘I’ll start tomorrow’ in reference to our fitness
Or, another way of looking at it, creating and
envisaging your fitness goal, having the grit,
determination and self motivation to get up and out
especially on those dark, dreary, cold wet days, one
day at a time to make those goals a reality.
Many of our New Year’s resolutions include health
and fitness goals of all types. The start of the New
Year can be such a great opportunity to properly
plan and create a realistic fitness training plan that
suits your individual needs and lifestyle.
The key is sticking to your plan one day at a time
and keeping momentum even on those long, dark
and difficult winter nights.
As straightforward as this sounds, this is not usually
what we see in the glossy magazines. Here we often
find glamorised ‘six week beach body’ type plans that
focus on the short term, usually for those who are
looking for a last minute solution before a holiday or
special occasion. Whilst there is nothing wrong with
this, these types of regimes aren’t usually suitable for
everyone or sustainable for the long term.
There are various reasons for this:
- Our bodies need to build a solid foundation of
fitness before we push ourselves to higher levels.
Some of these short term programmes are extremely
demanding on the body and could do more damage
than good. Preparing our bodies to become stronger
and fitter is key!
- Technique! Training with the correct technique in
the execution of exercises is vital to avoid injuries.
This is something that is learnt and perfected over
time, which fits in perfectly with long term goals and
- If exercises are too demanding for our unprepared
bodies they aren’t usually enjoyable. Naturally
if something is not enjoyable we are going to
lose motivation a lot quicker and usually give up
Suffice to say, there is no magic pill or diet that can
transform our bodies in the blink of an eye. Short
term extreme fitness regimes or diets may work for
a while but are almost never sustainable and it is so
easy to regress and be in an even worse fitness state
Achieving our fitness goals, just like achieving any
other goals worth having, takes planning, hard work,
dedication and time.
The key is finding a way of exercising that we truly
enjoy and that can be incorporated into our daily
lives, and a way of healthy eating that again we enjoy
and can then sustain, thus resulting in a lifestyle
change rather than a short term temporary fitness
stint. Another way of looking at it is keeping in shape
all year round, then having some ‘peak’ times in the
year where we push ourselves even more, maybe in
preparation for a special event or holiday.
In order to achieve our summer bodies we have
to start the hard work now, by planning carefully
and realistically, then maintaining motivation and
dedication and working hard, even through the
Seeking professional guidance with the planning and
execution of fitness training and nutrition planning
is a very helpful tool which also helps add a layer of
accountability, thus making it easier not to fall off the
I have many clients who start training with me in
January after the Christmas binge and who very
often have a holiday booked in July so want to
physically see results by then. That means there are
around 75-80 training days to make the most of
before the holiday. That is enough time to learn and
develop good technique, create strong foundations
and gradually build up the volume and intensity of
training for them to have made noticeable gains by
Training in this structured way, consistently, every
week without any excuses, not only helps achieve
fitness goals but also gives a much lower chance of
developing pain or injuries.
Training with a mid to long term goal like this
eliminates any losses to fitness goals in case you have
to miss a few days of training due to illness.
Similar planning strategies can be applied to our
nutrition habits. Planning and making small, steady,
realistic changes to improve our diet and nutrition
can work hand in hand perfectly with a structured
training regime. Small changes over a period of time
really can help us achieve massive noticeable results.
That leads me on to my top tips to be
successful with your health and fitness goals
1) Establish a routine.
2) Start with exercises you like. Make it fun.
3) Seek expert support.
4) Join group sessions for that extra support
5) Be kind to yourself.
6) Try and find a training buddy.
7) Track your progress.
Happy New Year to all & happy training! If you
would like any help or advice on anything health and
fitness related please feel free to get in touch with me
at firstname.lastname@example.org or via social media
FA S H I O N
WINTER-PROOF YOUR TOOTSIES WITH SOME OF THE HOTTEST BOOTS
STYLES AROUND. AMY NORBURY HUNTS DOWN THE BEST PICKS TO SEE
YOU THROUGH TO SPRING
AFTER the ubiquitous winter coat, boots are the biggest ticket
purchase for any fashionista’s winter wardrobe. An essential
piece of kit to combat the vagaries of the great British weather,
boots are a seasonal must-have; the go-to footwear pick until the
thermometer starts its springtime rise.
In past seasons, boots have become a style statement in
their own right; from sky high and thigh high to full-on
embellishments, there have been some seriously showy offerings
glamming up the catwalks and high streets alike.
But this winter, things are a little more pared back. Throughout
2020, fashion trends have erred towards the practical - after all,
we’ve been lounging through lockdown in our comfiest garb,
and casualwear has replaced office chic for working from home
and Zoom meetings galore.
And that ethos has carried through to footwear; from gum boots
at Christian Dior to hiking boots at Chloé, we’ve all fallen for
footwear with function at its heart.
When it comes to heels, it’s all about taking it low. Sturdy
block heels have taken over, with not a stiletto in sight, and
highly wearable ankle styles have become a firm favourite, with
chunkier biker and combat boots offering the perfect balance of
practicality and attitude.
If you’re looking at knee high or above, opt for an equestrian
vibe with either flats or a sturdy heel in classic black or tan.
For easy everyday chic, a classic Chelsea boot hits the right note,
while the ever-popular Western styles which have been top of
the wishlist for a few seasons remain a solid pick.
And while suede has been having its moment in the fashion
spotlight recently, the tide has once again turned back towards
the practicality and durability of leather. Forget dodging
downpours in your new suede numbers; this season opt for boots
that’ll have you splashing in puddles without a second thought.
PASSO BOOTS, £140, DUNE LONDON.
ADJUST BOOTS, OFFICE.
PAXTONE2 BOOTS, DUNE LONDON.
OLIVIA BLACK ABOVE THE KNEE
BOOTS, MISS SELFRIDGE.
PICTOR BOOTS, DUNE LONDON.
PER UNA BOOTS, MARKS AND SPENCER.
A TOUCH OF BOHO SLOUCHY
BOOTS, JOE BROWNS.
SLOAN ANKLE BOOT, JIGSAW
AT HARVEY NICHOLS.
ASSERT BUCKLED BOOTS, OFFICE.
LEIGH HYBRID HIKER BOOTS, £75,
NEWBURY HIKER BOOTS, £85, CROSBY
LINED LACE UP BOOTS, £75, AND
OTHERS FROM A SELECTION AT
BIKER BOOTS, £45, GREY ANIMAL PRINT
TOP,£38, AND PU LEGGINGS, £32, ALL
W H AT ’ S O N
What’s On Local
START THE YEAR AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON BY GETTING
OUT OF THE HOUSE AND FINDING SOME FUN
WHAT: DRIVE-IN CINEMA
WHERE: SANDON HALL, SANDON, STAFFORDSHIRE
WHEN: DATES THROUGHOUT JANUARY
Drive-in entertainment was able to restart at the end of the national
lockdown, despite many indoor entertainment venues having to
remain closed. It’s seen a resurgence of drive-in cinema screenings
around the country.
The Great British Drive In, at Sandon Hall, is one of our absolute
favourites. Members of the J’AIME team have been paying
customers and heartily recommend it.
It feels very safe and you have the backdrop of a stunning stately
home behind the massive cinema screen.
There’s no need to leave your car at all but if you do you can buy
food prepared by Digbeth Dining Club.
January’s films are set to include Grease, The Greatest Showman
WHERE: ALEXANDRA THEATRE, BIRMINGHAM
WHEN: JANUARY 15 TO 31
At the time of going to print, Birmingham is still set to get a good old
fashioned pantomime, Robin Hood, starring Craig Revel Horwood
from Strictly Come Dancing as The Sheriff of Nottingham.
The socially distanced, one-act show has been shortened so that
members of the audience won’t risk mingling during an interval.
The line-up is also due to include Richard Cadell and Sooty, Black
Country favourite Doreen Tipton and Matt Slack who usually
appears in panto at the Birmingham Hippodrome.
Expect traditional panto fun at the end of a very untraditional year.
WHAT: CHINESE NEW YEAR
WHERE: LOCATIONS AROUND BIRMINGHAM
WHEN: JANUARY 24 TO 26
At the time of going to press Birmingham city centre was still set
to play host to elaborate celebrations to mark the Chinese New
COVID-19 may cause some plans to change, but you can still
anticipate a riot of colour in Birmingham’s Chinatown.
There’s due to be a wish tree in Grand central that visitors can
add their own wishes to.
There are also set to be stalls, street entertainers and
WHAT: SELF-GUIDED WALK
WHEN: WHENEVER YOU LIKE
You can enjoy a guided heritage walk around Birmingham with
members of your bubble without even needing to interact with
Curious About has organised two different walks around the city,
both with a treasure hunt theme.
You simply need to download the guide from the website and then
get out and about at a time and day to suit you.
You can find out more by visiting the website at
WHAT: ART EXHIBITION
WHERE: IKON GALLERY, BRINDLEYPLACE, BIRMINGHAM
WHEN: THROUGHOUT JANUARY
Ikon Gallery’s new group show, Faster Than Ever, is an
exhibition invented out of necessity in response to the
challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Involving more than 20 artists from across the world, it is
an exercise in capitalising on chance, making the most of
incongruity and happy accidents.
Participating artists include Thomas Bewick, Julie Brook,
Alice Cattaneo, Lee Bul, Edmund Clark, Martin Creed, Kate
Groobey, Graham Gussin, Arturo Herrera, Carmen Herrera,
On Kawara, Lutz and Guggisberg, Haroon Mirza, Ivan
Morison, Nástio Mosquito, Grace Ndiritu, Cornelia Parker,
Navin Rawanchaikul, Noguchi Rika, Shimabuku, Dayanita
Singh, Bosco Sodi, Nancy Spero and Beat Streuli.
Admission is free of charge.
WHAT: LIVE MUSIC
WHERE: LICHFIELD GARRICK
WHEN: SATURDAY, JANUARY 30
At the time of going to press live music was still set to return
to Lichfield Garrick in January, including tribute evening The
George Michael Legacy.
International tribute artiste Wayne Dilks and his band pay tribute
to the late George Michael in this show.
Wayne has been a George Michael tribute artiste for almost 20
years, dedicating his professional career to pay homage to the late
He delivers his heartfelt tribute to the global superstar in
a sensitive and spectacular way, receiving five star reviews
LO CA L A R E A
Escape into a Garden
WHATEVER THE WEATHER, VISITING SOME GLORIOUS GARDENS WILL STILL BE
WONDERFULLY SOOTHING FOR MIND, BODY AND SOUL THIS MONTH. HERE ARE
SOME OF OUR FAVOURITES, RIGHT ON THE DOORSTEP
Shugborough, Milford, near Stafford
The gardens and parkland of this National
Trust-run property are due to be open between
9am and 4pm every day in January. Visitors are
asked to book in advance wherever possible, to
avoid disappointment on the day. Takeaway food
and drink are available and the play area is still
Wightwick Manor and Gardens,
Wightwick Bank, Wolverhampton
The gardens at Wightwick Manor are due to be
open to visitors every day in January, but you’ll
need to book your visit in advance. You will also
be able to buy takeaway food and drink from
the tearoom. The gardens at Wightwick were
redesigned by Thomas Mawson in 1904 and
have plenty to discover, even in the depths of
Birmingham Botanical Gardens,
The glasshouses are currently closed due to
coronavirus restrictions but you can still visit the
gardens and playground. Booking in advance is
requested and you will be able to buy takeaway
food from the cafe. If you’re very lucky you may
well catch some early flowers in bloom.
Winterbourne House and Garden,
The house and tearoom may be closed but the
gardens and shop remain open to visitors at
Winterbourne. People are asked to book their
visit in advance and follow the suggested route
around the garden. Winterbourne is one of the
best surviving examples of an Edwardian Arts
and Crafts suburban villa garden in the country.
eyond the horizon
Let’s create something to look forward to
Nothing can beat personal advice when you’re looking to put
the last few months behind you and make plans to look
forward, whether that’s a last-minute getaway or you’re
planning ahead to next year.
You will always have the support of a real person,
be it face-to-face, by video, phone or email -
whenever you need me.
0121 314 6650 or 07860 944207
Proud to be a family run business for over 35 years
HOME IS WHERE THE WARMTH IS
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Telephone: 0121 384 5251 - www.abbeyfirecentre.co.uk
Open: Mon - Fri: 9am - 5pm (closed Wednesdays), Sat: 10am - 2pm
Suppliers of: Contura, Jotul, Gazco, Paragon, Scan, Town
& Country Fires, ACR Heat Products and many more
Installers and suppliers of gas fires, bespoke limestone
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For your safety and to observe social distancing we are
asking that you telephone or email to arrange a personal
viewing of our showroom.
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LO CA L A R E A
Walk this way
WHETHER IT’S AROUND THE BLOCK OR UP A HILL, WALKING HAS KEPT SO MANY OF
US GOING THROUGHOUT LOCKDOWNS AND RESTRICTIONS. HERE ARE SOME OF
OUR FAVOURITE WALKING DESTINATIONS TO GIVE YOU A LITTLE INSPIRATION
Birches Valley, Cannock Chase
Birches Valley is the perfect place for a magical
walk in the woods. There are so many different
trails to try, but we particularly love the childfriendly
walk that includes a fairy garden and
Gruffalo statue. There’s no admission fee, but
you will need to pay for parking. There’s a
brilliant free playground, and don’t forget to take
along some money for a takeaway coffee or even
an ice cream.
Downs Banks, Oulton Heath, near Stone
Take a leisurely stroll along Downs Banks brook
and you may be lucky enough to see a kingfisher
catching his lunch. On a clear day there are
brilliant views from the highest point of the
downs and you should be able to make out Mow
Cop and the Wrekin. There’s plenty of parking
at the site, but it can get busy when the weather
Kinver Edge, Kinver
You’ll find miles of waymarked footpaths at
Kinver Edge, including plenty that are suitable
for all the family. We particularly like the
woodland trail, which has natural play areas
to explore along the way. It’s quite steep in
places but the magnificent views make the effort
worthwhile. Dogs on leads are very welcome too.
Canalside stroll, a towpath near you
A walk along a canal towpath is a walk that
just keeps on giving. You’ll generally find the
paths easily accessible and you’ll see plenty of
interesting things along the way. If you’re lucky
you’ll spot some interesting barges and perhaps
be able to watch a canal lock in action. We
particularly like the stretch of the Trent and
Mersey that runs through Stone, and not just
because a walk can be combined with a trip to
the lovely town itself.
Sutton Park, Sutton Coldfield
It’s right on our doorstep and it’s free, so make
the most of beautiful Sutton Park. A designated
national nature reserve, it’s one of the largest
urban parks in Europe. Back in the time of
Henry VIII it was a hunting forest but now
you’re more likely to spot great crested grebes.
Tittesworth Reservoir, near Leek
You’ll need to drive to visit this man-made
beauty spot, but it’s well worth the journey. You
can take a 4.5 mile trail which loops right around
the reservoir or a short 1.5 mile walk if needs
be. After all that walking you can refuel with
takeaway food and drink from the on-site cafe.
Sandwell Valley, West Bromwich
If you’re looking for a stroll that isn’t too taxing
then this RSPB nature reserve could be a good
choice for you. There are walking and cycle
routes and you’re almost guaranteed to spot
some spectacular wildlife. Depending on the
time of year you may see kingfishers, skylarks
Rudyard Lake, near Leek
In decades gone
by a visit to
was the equivalent
of a day at the
seaside for many
families, for very
scenery and the
opportunity to go
out on a boat or
travel aboard a
is plentiful on-site
Chatsworth Estate, Derbyshire
It’s a bit of a drive, but the parkland
at the Chatsworth Estate is among the
most beautiful you will find anywhere
in the country. You can talk a circular
walking route around the Devonshire
family’s stately pile completely free
of charge without even stepping foot
inside the house itself.
P O S I T I V E T H I N K I N G
A happy and positive
2021 really is possible
JENNY AMPHLETT LOOKS ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF 2020 AND SAYS YOU SHOULD
MAKE IT YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION TO FIND POSITIVITY IN THE YEAR AHEAD.
I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions.
Those dark days of January, when people are
reining in their social life or counting the cost
of the festive season, can be depressing enough
without denying yourself life’s small pleasures.
The thought of 31 days without a decent night
out might just be bearable if you allow yourself
to finish the rest of the tin of Quality Street and
that bottle of Advocaat from the back of the
cupboard. Or at least that’s the way I usually
look at it.
If you want to start a new health regime then
I reckon you should do it in the middle of
summer when the sun is shining, when it feels
less tortuous and when you actually stand a
fighting chance of sticking to it.
Instead of devising ways to get fit, lose weight
or generally make myself miserable, I tend to
spend some time at New Year looking back over
the previous 12 months and trying to remind
myself of the things I have to be thankful for.
We all have some, even if we need to hunt them
out for what has been a difficult and unusual
year for so many of us.
The list is obviously different for every one of us, but
for me it usually includes the likes of managing not to
lose any loved ones during
the past year, time spent
with close family, having
In a more normal year
my list would include
holidays, days out, theatre
and cinema visits, and
meals. Most of that has
been nigh on impossible to
achieve this year, but I can
still add managing not to
kill any houseplants, books
I’ve read, work projects
I’ve felt proud of and things I’d been putting off but
finally got around to doing to that list.
For me it’s been a year of being brave, taking chances
and leaping into the unknown in a way I may well not
have been prepared to do had 2020 been just any old
Unlike most years I can also add a serious amount
of walking to my list of happy moments, getting to
know the village I live in a bit better by pounding its
pavements each day and becoming more attuned to
nature by disappearing into the woods or across fields
whenever the opportunity presented itself.
It’s a year when I’ve picked nettles and turned
them into soup, cooked all manner of puddings
from windfall apples and photographed every wild
mushroom I’ve laid eyes on.
Every single one of us has had low points during the
past 12 months, I know that I certainly have. But look
at them in the right way and they can be reasons to
be thankful too. However tough those things may
have been, and perhaps continue to be for some of us,
we’re still here on the other side of them. And we’re
looking a shiny, hopeful new year in the face; a year in
which we may well be able to get some of our muchmissed
Looking for the happy moments from the past 12
months and finding ways to have more of the same in
the coming 12 months is a much more positive way of
dealing with the New Year than picking out the things
you don’t like about yourself and deciding how to
If you’re going to make a New Year’s Resolution,
please make it to embrace all the positive things
that 2021 brings. Resolve to never take the people
in your life for granted again, to support your local
community in any way you can and to realise that
happiness really can be found in the small things.
I N T H E N E W S
The write stuff for author Lisa
A STAFFORDSHIRE AUTHOR HAS WON A LITERARY PRIZE FOR HER
BOOK INSPIRED BY STRONG WOMEN FROM THE COUNTY
A collection of short stories inspired by feisty
Staffordshire women has been awarded this year’s
Arnold Bennett Literary Prize.
It’s Gone Dark Over Bill’s Mother’s, written by Lisa
Blower, was revealed as the winner in an online
The book had been shortlisted alongside former
Coronation Street actress Deborah McAndrew’s play
The D Road, Peter Cash’s poetry anthology Pitying
The Planet and academic John Shapcott’s Arnold
Bennett and Frederick Marriott Parallel Lives.
“I’m pleased as punch to win, chuffed to bits, in fact I
did have a little cry,” Lisa said.
“As part of the awards ceremony the shortlisted
writers each read out an extract of their work. I was
so completely mesmerised by the others that I was
convinced I wouldn’t win.
“When they said my name I was so shocked I just
literally hadn’t thought it would be me in the face of
such strong opposition.”
The 46-year-old has received a £500 prize and the
prestige of following in the footsteps of previous
winners such as Guardian culture columnist Charlotte
Higgins, who was awarded last year for Red Thread:
On Mazes and Labyrinths.
Lisa now works as a senior lecturer and course leader
in creative and professional writing at Wolverhampton
After studying at Sheffield, Manchester and Bangor
universities, she began her career lecturing in creative
writing at Bangor University.
She taught the first course in working class fiction at
a UK university and has been a guest lecturer on the
topic at Staffordshire University .
Lisa’s debut novel, Sitting Ducks, was shortlisted
for the inaugural Arnold Bennett Prize in 2017 and
longlisted for The Guardian’s Not the Booker in 2016.
It’s Gone Dark Over Bill’s Mother’s features
strong, working class women including Lisa’s own
grandmother, Nellie Edwards, who died in her 90s
after a lifetime of working as a dipper for various
potteries across Stoke-on-Trent.
died I sat
down to write
the eulogy for
all the things
she used to
say to me
when I was a
“She was a
she fell out
with a shop
work she’d walk across the road and start working for
another potbank instead.”
That funeral tribute turned into a short story which
won Lisa The Guardian National Short Story Award
in 2009, was shortlisted for the BBC National Short
Story Award in 2013 and was longlisted for The
Sunday Times Short Story Award in 2018.
It was only natural then that it should form part of a
collection of short tales featuring the likes of Ruthie
the ‘happy hooker’, sleep-deprived Laura and young
“It’s fiction but there are some autobiographical
moments in there, like the journey my family used to
make to Barmouth during the Potters Holidays every
“They’re mostly stories about women but I remember
growing up with a lot of women around me. I was
surrounded by chattering matriarchs who were always
telling stories and gossiping.
“The women of that time didn’t think they were doing
anything interesting or significant or contributing to
history, but of course they were.
“I remember telling my nan that I’d like to write her
life history and she said whatever for as she hadn’t
done anything. Those women were accepting rather
than expecting. They worked their whole lives, they
made armaments during the war – but they didn’t
think they’d done anything interesting.”
The title of the book is a phrase that Lisa’s nan used
to often say to her. It means that it looks like rain is on
“It’s Gone Dark over Bill’s Mother’s felt like an apt
title for a collection of stories that mine the pits, pots
and poets I grew up with, where I played in the backs
behind the Leek New Road, or sat listening to my
nan’s stories and scruffy wisdom.
“We’d spend weekends walking the towpaths around
Stockton Brook before heading home to tape the
charts, a pan of lobby on the stove.
“It was a peachy childhood, despite the smog, strikes
and Thatcher gunning for the unions back in the early
80s; my mum making us all wipe our feet on a Vote
Conservative board before she put it out for the dog to
do his business on.
“The stalwart citizens of the Potteries working class
owned neither a car, passport or a mortgage but were
the vital participants in its industry. Any potter worth
their salt will flip over a plate seeking Made in Stokeon-Trent
because at least someone in their family
will have had a hand in making it. And that’s what I
wanted to capture.”
It’s Gone Dark Over Bill’s Mother’s is published by
Myriad and priced £8.99. Lisa’s novel Pondweed will
be out in paperback in April 2021.
Music to her ears
A LICHFIELD TEENAGER HAS WON A NATIONAL COMPOSING AWARD
A Staffordshire schoolgirl has won a national
composing award and had her work broadcast to the
nation on BBC Radio 3 despite it being her very first
Eilidh Owen, 17, says she was surprised and excited
to pick up the Young Composer Award 2020 from the
National Centre for Early Music.
The year 13 pupil at Lichfield Cathedral School will
have her work performed at a concert at the Cadogan
Hall in March. It will then be broadcast on BBC
Radio 3’s Early Music Show.
She said: ““I was so surprised and excited when I
heard my name announced as the winner of the
NCEM Young Composers Award. This was the first
choir piece I’ve ever written and I didn’t expect to do
“I still can’t believe that Radio 3 played part of my
piece on the In Tune program and the nice comments
made by Katie Derham. I’m really looking forward
to hearing the Tallis Scholars perform my piece in
London in March.”
based on the first and
last verses of George
Herbert’s poem The
Dad Richard Owen
said: “It was exciting
for us to see and
hear Eilidh’s piece
performed and a
total shock when she
won. The reaction from friends and family who were
able to watch online has been incredible.
“We just want to say thank you to the NCEM for
organising the competition and for everyone who has
trained and encouraged Eilidh at Lichfield Cathedral
School and Lichfield Cathedral Choir.”
You can see and hear all the finalist’s pieces sung and
the awards being announced here:
I N T H E N E W S
Through The Cracks
A PRIZE-WINNING PAKISTANI AUTHOR HAS CHOSEN TO PUBLISH HER NEW BOOK
IN STAFFORDSHIRE. JENNY AMPHLETT FOUND OUT WHY A COUNTY IN THE
MIDDLE OF A COUNTRY 4,000 MILES AWAY WAS SO APPEALING
An award-winning Pakistani author has chosen to
publish her latest book four thousand miles away - in
Bushra Naqi, who lives in the historic city of Lahore
in the Punjab, was awarded the prestigious Patrus
Bokhari Prize by the Government of Pakistan in
honour of her literary contribution to the country.
Her latest book, Through The Cracks, has been
published by North Staffordshire Press and is being
released simultaneously in the UK and Pakistan.
Written in English rather than Urdu, it is a
collection of short stories that give an insight into
Pakistani culture and look at both traditional and
“Pakistan is a very conservative country. Writing in
English gives me more freedom,” she said. “The
majority of people in Pakistan don’t understand or
read English. The people who do read English are not
the conservative types, so you can get away with a lot
more things when you’re writing in English.”
The 69-year-old says that living in what she calls a
traditionally conservative society encouraged her to
‘become a reactionary’ and challenge a ‘stagnant and
static’ way of life.
The book, which Bushra says is partly
autobiographical, gives snapshots into the lives of
everyone from committed spinsters to women fleeing
abusive relationships and from immigrants struggling
to fit into their new country to people engaged in
clandestine love affairs.
“There’s no state censorship in Pakistan,” she said.
“People do write whatever they want to in my country.
I wanted to publish in the UK because I thought there
would be a market for my work there too.
“I found North Staffordshire Press on the internet and
have found them very good to deal with, via emails
and video calls.”
Bushra chose the book’s title, Through The Cracks,
as each of her stories gives an insight into a different
“We never really see people in their wholeness, we
don’t get the whole picture, there’s always something
concealed. I’m looking behind that,” she said.
Bushra studied creative writing in New York after
being introduced to classic English literature at a
very young age by her father, who had studied at
“My father told us a lot about life in England,” said
Bushra. “I was reading the English classics at a very
young age - Dickens, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, the
Brontes. It helped me to develop a love for literature
“I started writing poetry when I was 19 and had my
work published. I then found the medium of short
stories more effective to articulate my observations
about human nature.
“My stories are partly autobiographical - I had all of
these stories inside of me somewhere.”
Through The Cracks is published by North
Staffs Press priced £10. It can be ordered
from all good book sellers using the ISBN
code 978 1 8 380893 9 9.
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independence and individuality whilst
being fully supported to live a fulfilled
and enjoyable life.
Rosemary Lodge Care Home is a family
run concern, and has been a highlyregarded
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almost 30 years. Offering 24 hour care,
our fully trained staff work together to
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person-centred approach, thus building
an important relationship of trust and
Our two qualified chefs offer a
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creates a perfect space for residents,
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enjoy coffee and snacks and take
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All rooms are en-suite, and are
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residents the opportunity of keeping in
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Regular activities and entertainment
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is also ensured in this beautiful
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Our commitment to offering just the
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CO M P E T I T I O N
Win £100 of soft furnishings
WE HAVE TEAMED UP WITH LICHFIELD-BASED INTERIOR CHOICE
TO GIVE AWAY A £100 VOUCHER TO SPEND IN STORE
With more than 35 years of soft furnishings
experience and two-and-a-half years of running a
family business, opening a Lichfield showroom was a
natural next step for Interior Choice.
The first floor showroom above Sure Storage in
Eastern Avenue, Lichfield, stocks all the leading fabric
and blind brands as well as offering a design and fit
service if required.
Customers can choose from more than 6,000 options
across curtains, blinds and wallpapers with tracks,
poles, awning and automated blinds also available.
Interior Choice aims to have the largest selection in
the area and to compete with internet prices.
Key brands include Romo, Voyage and Prestigious
Textiles plus ILiv, Bill Beaumont, Curtain Express,
Villa Nova, Luxaflex, Silent Gliss and ILiv Contract
All budgets are catered for, from entry-level express
curtain and roman blinds to machine-sewn and
bespoke hand-sewn products.
Everything comes with a three year warranty, subject
to fair usage rules, with a five year warranty on certain
Luxaflex lines. All blinds are fitted with child safety
devices as standard.
If you’ve just moved into a new home or need your
new purchases quickly then an express service means
that some blinds and curtains can be delivered and
fitted within seven to 10 days.
And if you’re looking for blinds or curtains for a
commercial premises then Interior Choice even has
ranges designed specifically with your needs in mind
which carry commercial grade specification.
Visits to the 512sq ft showroom are currently by
appointment only, which means that you can browse
the collections with peace of mind.
There is a seven day no-obligation booked
appointment system in place. When you arrive you
can park free of charge and will have exclusive, no
obligation to purchase use of the showroom for
up to two hours. No other customers will enter the
showroom during your slot and refreshments will be
During the friendly and personal consultation you
will get to see lots of samples and will have all of the
options explained to you so that you can choose the
right option for your family and your home.
NHS track and trace systems are in place and plentiful
free hand sanitiser is available.
Late night appointments are available to fit in around
busy work and life schedules.
Interior Choice is a family-owned and family-run
local business with a reputation that is growing daily.
They have become a five star rated Best of Lichfield
approved supplier. If you’re looking for new soft
furnishings then they could be the right choice for you.
Interior Choice’s January sale starts on January 4, with
25% off selected ranges.
Interior Choice, 1st Floor, Sure Store, Eastern Avenue,
Lichfield, WS13 6UY, 01543 406162
WIN A £100 VOUCHER TO SPEND IN-STORE AT INTERIOR CHOICE.
FOR THE CHANCE TO WIN, SIMPLY ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTION:
WHICH THREE KEY BRANDS DO INTERIOR CHOICE STOCK?
Send your answer along with your name, address and telephone number via email to firstname.lastname@example.org with Interior Choice competition in the
email subject box. Entries must be received by midday on Friday, January 29. Terms and conditions apply. Visit www.jainemagazine.com for further details.
I N T H E N E W S
Kick-start your weight loss
A BALLOON PILL AND A GLASS OF WATER COULD BE THE
ANSWER IF YOU’RE LOOKING TO LOSE WEIGHT THIS YEAR
A slimming ‘balloon pill’ that can be taken with a
glass of water has been introduced to Spire Little
Aston Hospital in Sutton Coldfield.
The Elipse ‘balloon pill’, developed by Allurion,
works by filling the stomach and making the patient
feel full more quickly and so enables them to cut back
on the amount they eat.
Unlike the gastric band, sleeve or bypass there is
no need for surgery, a general anaesthetic or an
overnight stay in hospital.
Instead a small capsule that contains the balloon
is attached to a thin tube and swallowed. Once it
reaches the stomach an X-ray is taken to check it is
in the correct position before the balloon is released
and filled with up to 550ml of saline.
Designed to deflate after four months before passing
naturally through the body, the Elipse is aimed at
people with a BMI of 27 or above in order to help
them kick-start their dieting regime.
The procedure is overseen by Consultant General
Surgeon Mr Amir Khan who explained: “It isn’t a
miracle pill, it still needs the patient to eat less and
choose their foods more wisely, but it is a great aid to
those who are serious about weight loss.
“The balloon will reduce the hunger pangs but the
patient still has to show willpower and determination
in order to get the very best results from the process.
It may be that the patient is advised to stick to a
liquid diet for a couple of days after taking the pill
but they will then be able to move onto solid foods.
“What is really important is that they use the feeling
of fullness provided by the balloon to help them
change their eating habits. Smaller portions and
healthier options really are the key to success.”
Patients lose an average of 10 to 15kgs (1.57 to 2.36
stone) in 16 weeks by using the balloon.
Mr Khan is offering free virtual mini consultations
on Thursday, February 4 between 4pm and 6pm.
Call 0121 514 7034 for more information or to
make an appointment.
B E AU T Y
Beauty Is More Than Skin Deep
KICK-START 2021 WITH A RESOLUTION TO GIVE YOUR SKIN A MUCH-NEEDED NEW
YEAR BOOST. WE TALK TO ROYAL FACIALIST AND FOUNDER OF HEAVEN SKINCARE
DEBORAH MITCHELL ABOUT HER LATEST RANGE DESIGNED TO TACKLE SKINCARE
WOES FROM THE INSIDE OUT
Renowned around the world for her
Heaven Skincare saviours, Deborah
Mitchell has been treating countless
famous faces for more than 30 years.
From Tess Daley and Dannii Minogue
to the Duchess of Cornwall, her client
list reads like the ultimate who’s who.
Her sought-after products are sold in
some of the most famous hotels and
spas from New York to Dubai, and
she recently appeared in the Netflix
documentary Un(well) showing how
she makes her renowned Bee Venom
Now the celebrity facialist has
unveiled her latest line of defence
for anti-ageing – a range of seven
supplements that work in tandem
with her bestselling skincare essentials.
Each of the carefully selected vitamins
and minerals are designed to tackle a
whole host of complexion issues, from
hair and nail strength to protection
from free radicals.
“In all of the 30 years I have spent
healing and treating anti-ageing from
the outside, I realised through my
extensive research that many of the
skin problems we suffer from are often
caused by what is going on inside our
bodies,” explains Deborah.
“By learning how to match the needs
of the skin on the outside to the needs
of the skin from the inside I discovered I can quickly
treat complexion issues and at the same time provide
much-needed health benefits too.
“As an example, if a client comes to see me because
they suffer from eczema, I know it can often be
blamed on a dairy intolerance or deficient vitamin
absorption on the inside and an overgrowth of
microbes on the outside.
“Now, with the launch of my new supplements range
I can recommend the correct combination for their
skin: my new Inner Nettle Shoots combined with my
Hydro Cleansing Milk and Nettle Venom Cream; or
my Inner Bee-ing and Silver Bee Venom Mask.
“Because these contain the natural amino acids and
vitamins needed to help ease their eczema from the
inside, they will keep their skin in great condition on
the outside too.”
Heaven’s new Inner Beauty supplements are priced
at £37 each and are available online at
heavenskincare.com and from selected Heaven
Probate and formal valuations
for inheritance tax purposes
Our reliable and sympathetic
team can assist all executors in the
administration of deceased estates
From jewellery and large collections
to cars, furniture and household
items, we handle everything
and silver valuations
by appointment only
at The Lichfield
clearance service and
We handle clearance of an entire
estate from houses, bungalows and
flats to offices and all other buildings
We specialise in:
Antique and modern jewellery
Coins, medals and militaria
Works of art
Whisky and wine
Stamps and ephemera
Cameras and record collections
Antique and modern furniture
More than 3,800 bidders from
all over the world joined our
online auctions last month
Online services available
Virtual estimates, online auctions
and contactless collections.
Valuations and viewing by
All members of our jewellery
department are certified
gemmologists and diamond graders
Established – Professional – Transparent
The Winterton family name has been synonymous
with auctioneering in Staffordshire since 1864
Wood End Lane,
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