Fringe Wines And A Bit Of Geo-Political History‏

I recently got to know through Twitter a US blogger whose site, Fringe Wine, is dedicated to “unusual grape varietals and/or grown in unfamiliar regions all over the world”.

I love this idea and went through my own Fringe Wine phase a while ago in search of something local when my business travels regularly took me to central and Eastern Europe. However, there’s only so many ropey Czech wines you can try before you inevitably ask for a beer instead and move back to the classics.

However, my Romantic streak remains and in the spirit of friendly competition, I thought I would try out a few vaguely Fringe Wines at the London International Wine Fair. Here are my top Fringe Wines – they all brought back a few memories of travel to these countries as well:

Slovenia

First was a Å ipon (“shipon”), the Slovenian name for Hungary’s Furmint from Dveri Pax.

Tiny, rural Slovenia will never be a volume player, but I am increasingly impressed by the wines from this former Yugoslav nation now a member of the EU which look set to become of more than mere niche interest or curiosity value.

Romania

I have to say, I never really liked visiting Romania on business, but I did always enjoy the wines there – well-made and fruit-driven but still balanced and European in style, they seem to have a bright up-front openness which belies the dark, murky, inscrutable superstition that for me characterises Romania.

All the grapes here from Prince Stirbey were pretty obscure with a Negru de Dragasani, Novac and, for me the best, a Fetească neagră.

Hungary

Hungary is hardly a Fringe Wine country these days due not least to the fame of its Tokaji wines; historic Budapest is, for me, the least beautiful of the three great central European capitals (the others being stately Vienna and picture-perfect Prague).

My friend Ryan Opaz, however, disagrees with me and prefers it to Vienna – perhaps as an American, he appreciates more its lively buzz and determination to move forward, compared to Vienna which got there years ago and no longer has anything to prove

The most obscure (in terms of quantity produced) wine here was the Eszencia; made from the free-run juice of botrytised furmint grapes it is produced in tiny quantities.

With around 5 times the residual sugar of even a top-level 5-puttonyos Tokaji, it was extremely syrupy, yet surprisingly fresh.

Ukraine

Historically – and to this day – fought over by competing Empires, but officially independent since 1991, Ukraine is still the “borderland” that its name suggests between its vast overbearing northerly neighbour and the European Union which ends tantalisingly at its various borders with Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.

Perhaps the most obscure here was a red semi-sweet sparkler, Krimart from Artemovsk winery, which included Saperavi along with Cab and Merlot in the blend; however, for quality, the most enjoyable was their dry white fizz Extra Brut.

Links

Dveri Pax – http://www.dveri-pax.com/

Prince Stirbey – www.stirbey.com

Crown Estates Tokaji – www.tokajwinetrade.com

Artemovsk Winery – www.krimart.com

Recommended reading:-
Borderland: A Journey Through The History of Ukraine by Anna Reid (Paperback – 6 Mar 2003)
Balkan Ghosts by R. Kaplan (Paperback – Mar 1994)

Image reproduced from longgame.org/2009/11/geopolitics-and-realpolitik-a-layman%E2%80%99s-view/

2nd August – New Members Night – Cambridge

City Connect supports Cambridge events from numerous organisations. We are proud to promote these Cambridge events to our City Connect readers making them accessible to all. If you are interested in this Cambridge event, either leave a comment below or go to the CitySocialising website. If you have any suggestions for other Cambridge events for us to promote, contact us directly.

City Connect highlights the following CitySocialising Cambridge event:-

Event Name: New Members Night

Date: Tuesday 2 August

For more information and to RSVP online visit CitySocialising and sign up for free.

All new members are entitled to attend one free Social when signing up to the CitySocialising site.

Event Description:

If you’ve registered with us but haven’t been to a Social, or if you just want to get a feel for what we’re all about, we’d love to invite you to come along to our New & Free Members’ evening. Meet some great new CitySocialisers, relax and enjoy a great evening of Socialising and making new connections in your city!

Have a chat and a drink or two with CitySocialisers at this relaxed friendly bar and get your first taste of the best new way to meet people in the city. The first meet up is always the most nerve-wracking but once you’ve been to one, as any regular will tell you, it becomes second nature!

One of our CitySocialising hosts, will be on hand during the evening to welcome you, introduce you to other people and answer any questions you might have about us, but really it’s just a great opportunity to take the plunge and start Socialising! We’re sure that by the end of the night you’ll find that CitySocialisers are as laid-back, chatty, friendly and as sociable as we say they are.

It’s the perfect opportunity to kick-start your social life. We look forward to seeing you there!

If you like this CitySocialising event as promoted by City Connect Events, you are only a few clicks away from being able to attend the event and meet new people. Please click the image below.

Create an acccount

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Find friends with shared interests

Use the site to find people who live or work near you or who share the same interests, send messages and create a friends list.

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From Boot Camp to Bootylicious!

Get ready this October for the launch of the Bootylicious Weekend Boot Camp by elite boot camps. The Bootylicious Weekend Boot Camp is a unique ladies only weekend boot camp run by a specialist team of personal training instructors who understand your limits and will provide you with the ultimate fitness experience.

These highly skilled instructors, led by elite boot camps owner and lead trainer Paul Jewiss, will support and encourage you to reach your personal goals.

You’ll be motivated to push yourself to your limits and inspired to work towards the body you’ve always desired.

If you are looking to kick start your fitness routine, need something different, want to feel good or just want to see what your boundaries are, elite boot camps is for you.

elite boot camps are run outside all year round in the beautiful Norfolk countryside and are aimed at helping you achieve your goals, push your physical & mental barriers whilst having fun with like minded people. Everyone is catered for no matter what their current level of fitness.

The team at elite boot camps provide everything you need during your boot camp weekend such as camping accommodation, nutritious meals, refreshments & snacks, equipment but most importantly bags of motivation and enthusiasm from the fully qualified & experienced PTI’s. The boot camp programme includes training sessions such as core strength & stability, cardiovascular training, kettlebells, powerbags and team building exercises.

BOOTYLICIOUS BOOT CAMP LAUNCH EVENT

elite boot camps are running their first ladies Bootylicious Weekend Boot Camp on the 1st & 2nd October 2011.

This unique weekend event is limited to 20 places and has been discounted by an amazing £100 to a special reduced price of just £200 per person!

Such an amazing offer means that you should book your place TODAY before spaces get filled up!

For more information about elite boot camps and to sign up to the Bootylicious Weekend Boot Camp, please click here or call Paul on 07919 202 282.

Hundreds Sign Up for Family Fun Day at Grafham Water Centre

Over 450 people will be making a splash at Grafham Water Centre, on Saturday 6 August, for a special family day for local disabled children and their families.
The family fun day, which runs from 10:30am to 4:30pm, will give disabled children the chance to make use of new facilities at Grafham Water Centre which enable wheelchair users to be hoisted into canoes, specially equipped powerboats, sailing dinghies and slings to experience the thrill of a climbing wall.
The free event has been arranged by Cambridgeshire County Council and Action for Children’s Inclusion Project Cambridgeshire, to showcase the opportunities and activities available to families with disabled children in Cambridgeshire.
On the day there will also be archery, specialist tandem bikes to try out, a barbecue lunch and hot chocolate and marshmallows by the campfire.
Linda Simmons, Project Manager at Action for Children’s Inclusion Project Cambridgeshire, said: “The sign-up for this event has been incredible and highlights the support and need to provide accessible activities that offer disabled children and families the same opportunities as any other children and young people.
“It promises to be an action-packed day and will be the first time many of the children and families attending will have had chance to take part in anything like this.”
Cllr David Brown, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children & Young People added: “The Council’s Aiming High project substantially funded improvement works at Grafham Water Centre, including installation of specialist changing and washing facilities, overhead tracking in a dormitory, through to a fully equipped bathroom enabling disabled children and young people to experience not only daytime, but overnight inclusive events.
“Action for Children’s Family Day will showcase this excellent centre and give disabled children and their families an opportunity to have a go at something new. Over the past 18 months Grafham Water Centre has substantially increased its level of support to disabled children.”
Action for Children’s Inclusion Project Cambridgeshire, was opened in April, 2010, and supports disabled children and young people, aged between 0 and 19, in accessing mainstream activities.
To contact the Inclusion Project Cambridgeshire contact Linda Simmons or Graham Tuffrey by phone on 01480 451775 or by e-mail at Linda.simmons@actionforchildren.org.uk  or graham.tuffrey@actionforchildren.org.uk
http://www.grafham-water-centre.co.uk

July – Pay Day Drinks – Cambridge

City Connect supports Cambridge events from numerous organisations. We are proud to promote these Cambridge events to our City Connect readers making them accessible to all. If you are interested in this Cambridge event, either leave a comment below or go to the CitySocialising website. If you have any suggestions for other Cambridge events for us to promote, contact us directly.

City Connect highlights the following CitySocialising Cambridge event:-

Event Name: Pay Day Drinks

Date: Saturday 30th July

For more information and to RSVP online visit CitySocialising and sign up for free.

All new members are entitled to attend one free Social when signing up to the CitySocialising site.

Event Description:

Join fellow CitySocialisers we celebrate the glorious moment that is pay day by spending our hard earned cash in the best means possible – on a quality night out! We’ll have an area reserved for us at the pub, where a host will be waiting to welcome you when you arrive and settle you in to the Social. (Make sure you check here before the Social to see who is hosting).

Keep your eyes peeled for a CitySocialising logo on the table or ask the venue staff for the table reserved under the name CitySocialising. Non-attendees will be available to view the guest list 48 hours before it takes place.

You’ve spent all month earning it, and now that the cash has hit your bank it’s time to let your hair down and join other Bronze & Silver members in our monthly pay day drinks!

Our pub pay day drinks is an excellent way to meet new people in your city, as you’ll be in a big crowd with lots of new people and regulars.

We’ll start off at a great pub right in the heart of Cambridge which will give us the chance to get to know each other over a glass of wine.

If there’s one social you should sign up for in Cambridge it’s this one, it’s a firm favourite on the CS calendar and always a great night!

If you like this CitySocialising event as promoted by City Connect Events, you are only a few clicks away from being able to attend the event and meet new people. Please click the image below.

Create an acccount

Free to sign up & try the service. Attend your first social, join groups, search for people, send and receive some messages and more.

Find friends with shared interests

Use the site to find people who live or work near you or who share the same interests, send messages and create a friends list.

Attend socials and have fun

Meet people offline too at fun socials organised by others and organise your own!

Image reproduced from City Socialising
Press release: LC

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Goodbye Pain… Hello Pain Pod!

The Pain Pod is providing a new wave of relief for sufferers across the UK. Just arrived here direct from the USA via Australia, the Hidow Pain Pod is the very latest super technological advance in effective electronic massaging.

This super powerful pod is hand sized – about the size of a small MP3 player – for easy, everyday use.

The Pain Pod uses Transcutaneous Electronic Nerve Stimulation or ‘TENS’ technology to replicate the effects and sensations of massage or acupuncture.  Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is the electro stimulation of nerves by a device for a variety of therapeutic purposes.

Pain Pod sends up to 120 bio-electrical pulses per second through the skin, stimulating muscle and nerve tissue to create the sensation and effect of massage which can relieve pain and tension while also providing deep relaxation.

As the Pain Pod can be used just as effectively for massage in addition to pain relief, its compact size means that the office, the plane, the car or even a sofa at home can be transformed into your very own massage parlour with no interruption to your day.

There are numerous benefits to users of the Pain Pod, whether you need massage therapy or pain relief. Here are just a few of the ways the Pain Pod can improve your health and wellbeing:-

– Relieves deep tension in muscles providing drug-free relaxation

– Can provide release of endorphin – the “happy hormone”

– Promotes ‘micro-circulation’ in the area of use helping reduce inflammation and accelerating the healing process

– Blocks the pain signal from nerves in areas of pain providing drug-free non-invasive relief

– Provides genuine massage sensations of ‘cupping’, ‘tapping’, ‘scraping’ and ‘pushing’ which saves you time and money instead of paying for expensive treatments from a professional.

– The device is pocket sized so can be used anywhere and any time at your convenience – it’s like having your own massage therapist on hand whenever you need some relaxation

– Gives drug free and side effect free pain and stress relief

– Has 6 modes of therapeutic benefits unlike only a single mode found with many other machines

– Uses a Therapeutic acupuncture feature and acupuncture chart for relief from numerous ailments

– Treats with a unique 6th Random mode that ensures the continued effectiveness of the TENS machine. Older style TENS machines usually have a limited number of modes. After a period of time, when the brain registers a stimulus it can get used to it, therefore becoming less and less effective. The patented 6th mode changes too often for the brain to register the stimulus

– Uses a rechargeable lithium ion battery which lasts for up to 16 hours and should never need to be replaced

– Comes with a two year warranty

– Is FDA approved, CE certified, TGA approved,  also a registered medical device in the UK

Hi-dow Pain Pod costs £129 and is now available online at www.hidow.co.uk and www.amazon.co.uk. However City Connect viewers are lucky enough to get a special discounted price of only £100 when ordering direct from Pain Pod UK Representative George Sugden. To qualify for your discount, please quote “City Connect” when contacting George on 0780 901 6482 or at george@hidow.co.uk

For those of you based in Cambridge, you can also purchase Pain Pod for £129 exclusively from Holistic Harmony at 14 Fair Street, Cambridge, CB1 1HA. If £129 is beyond your budget, then why not make an appointment to see Claire Davis IIHHT Dip – who owns and runs Holistic Harmony – who offers a range of reasonably priced treatments from massage to reflexology and much more. Check out all available treatments with prices on the Holistic Harmony website.

Below is a promotional video on the Hi-Dow Pain Pod device followed by a Channel 7 news report about the use of the Pain Pod device in Australia:-

Images and video courtesy of Hi-Dow UK

Steve’s Grenache – and The Grape Escape‏

Many men of a certain age approaching their mid-life crisis often start thinking of ridiculously powerful sports cars and pretty young girls.

But for Steve Hovington – briefly a synth pop star in the 80s with B-Movie and now manager of the Cherry Hinton Road branch of Cambridge Wine Merchants – things were a little different.

Instead of a trip to a Porsche dealership, he went to the south of France to the Languedoc and arranged to have use of four rows of vines for a season from Chateau Viranel and to make one single barrel of his own wine, with the assistance of the estate’s winemaker Nicolas Bergasse.

The overall plan was to sell the wine at a later date after writing a book about the experience, but it turned out that it took rather longer to write the book than to make the wine and so now Steve is only just releasing his 2007 “Steve’s Grenache” to co-incide with the launch of his book, The Grape Escape.

I stopped by the launch party last week to catch up with Steve, meet Nicolas and try a couple of the wines.

First I tried Nicolas’ Chateau Viranel Viognier – with lots of varietal peach and apricot on the nose and palate and good rounded acidity it was very well made and enjoyable. It has the fruit and instant appeal of a warm-climate wine, but is also sensible and food-friendly enough to maintain interest beyond first impressions.

Nicolas explained to me that his family has been involved in farming in this part of the world for over 500 years and that they started making wine more as something to have with family meals rather than as a purely commercial venture.

I rather suspect that it was this “art for art’s sake” approach that appealed to the creative musician in Steve, but in any case he made several trips over to the vineyard during his year’s tenure to prune and tend the vines himself, arrange picking and work on the blend with Nicolas.

And so we moved onto “Steve’s Grenache”, a blend of local Syrah, Grenache and Mouvedre varieties.

With lots of ripe plummy fruit, good balanced acidity, a soft texture and long finish, it is a very impressive wine – especially for a first attempt.

Like the Viognier, it has plenty of warm up-front appeal, but is also restrained, sensible and noticeably “European” in style.

The one barrel Steve has made equates to around 300 bottles, so supplies of the wine are fairly limited. It is available either from Cambridge Wine Merchants on Cherry Hinton Road or via the B-Movie website, in both cases for £12.

Steve’s book, The Grape Escape, is available from Heffers in Cambridge, the B-Movie website and on amazon.

Links

Cambridge Wine Merchants – http://www.cambridgewine.com/

Steve Hovington on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/steve.hovington1

Chateau Viranel – http://www.chateau-viranel.com/

B-Movie (official site) – www.bmovie.co.uk

The Grape Escape on amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Grape-Escape-Steve-Hovington/dp/1848765975

Copyright Tom Lewis 2011

East End Celebrity Goes Fishing for Funds

The second annual Big Fish event looks set to be a big catch in raising money for local charity, The Sick Children’s Trust, with special guest actor Scott Maslen bringing star quality to the day.

Held at Great Linford Lakes in Buckinghamshire on September 3, the event is being organised by Dominic Morgan as a thank you to the charity that helped his family through one of the worst times of his life.

His daughter, Jodi, from Colchester, died last year after an 18-month battle against aplastic anaemia, a condition where bone marrow does not produce sufficient new cells to replenish blood cells.  The Sick Children’s Trust provided free accommodation for the family at its Acorn House in Cambridge, during the final weeks of Jodi’s life.

Dominic said: “We are so grateful for the support The Sick Children’s Trust has given us that we wanted to give something back. Last year we raised in excess of £1,000 for the charity and we hope to double that this year as the event continues to grow in size and stature within the fishing community. We and also to be able to donate several laptops and Nintendo DSI’s to Addenbrooke’s Hospital’s children’s wards.

“We are particularly grateful to David and Nicola Marle, who own Great Linford Lakes, for donating the venue free of charge.  Fishing novices and experts alike should come down for what promises to be a fantastic family day out with so much to see and do and even get to meet some of the biggest angling stars.”

The event kicks off with a 48 hour carp fishing tournament for singles and pairs, followed by the family fishing show where children can try their hand at the free fishing camp with experts. The first place anglers will walk away with more than £2,500 of top carp fishing gear, a fishing holiday abroad and a money-can’t-buy session with a top celebrity fisherman. All tournament anglers will also be treated to a free hog roast.

Scott added: “As a keen angler I am more than happy to come along and support what promises to be a fantastic event. I’ll be doing a bit of mingling and then will be on stage to conduct the prize giving ceremony at around 4:30pm.”

Lydia Solomon, community fundraiser for The Sick Children’s Trust added: “We are thankful for Dominic for putting on such a wonderful event again and I’m sure it’ll surpass last year and raise lots of much needed funds for our charity.  We encourage anyone in the area to come along and support this fabulous event!”

For details of the event please go to www.thebigfish.tv

For more information please contact: Sarah Wallace on 020 7931 8695 or email sarah@sickchildrenstrust.org

August – Monthly Bowling Night – London Event

City Connect supports London events from numerous organisations. We are proud to promote these London events to our City Connect readers making them accessible to all. If you are interested in this London event, either leave a comment below or go to the CitySocialising website. If you have any suggestions for other London events for us to promote, contact us directly.

City Connect highlights the following CitySocialising London event:-

Event Name: Monthly Bowling Night

Date: Sunday 14th August 2011

For more information and to RSVP online visit CitySocialising and sign up for free.

All new members are entitled to attend one free Social when signing up to the CitySocialising site.

Event Description:
We’re back for our monthly bowling club when, every 2nd Sunday of the month, we take over a private bowling room in London for a chilled out Sunday session of socialising with 2 bowling lanes, a cocktail bar, milkshakes, cream sodas and some all American food to keep us amused!

Everyone bowls for free and the kind folks at the bowling alley will help us run a fun, friendly bowling tournament to make sure that everyone gets at least 1 game while the rest of us chill out, socialise together and make use of the rest of the fab facilities.

As we’ve got the place to ourselves we’ll have plenty of room for mingling and enjoying the afternoon. If you’re new to CitySocialising, don’t worry, some of our friendly hosts will be on hand to introduce you to everyone.

This London event is FREE to Silver members, only £5 to Bronze members & £10 to Free members but everyone needs to book beforehand as we’ll be operating a guestlist on the evening. Non-attendees will be available to view the guestlist 48 hours before it takes place.

If you like this CitySocialising event as promoted by City Connect Events, you are only a few clicks away from being able to attend the event and meet new people. Please click the image below.

Create an acccount

Free to sign up & try the service. Attend your first social, join groups, search for people, send and receive some messages and more.

Find friends with shared interests

Use the site to find people who live or work near you or who share the same interests, send messages and create a friends list.

Attend socials and have fun

Meet people offline too at fun socials organised by others and organise your own!

Images reproduced from City Socialising and nicksenger.com
Press release: LC

Olympic Gold Geraint Goes Tandem for Charity Challenge

There’ll be no rest for Olympic gold medallist Geraint Thomas MBE when he returns home to Wales from the Tour de France. A gruelling 170 mile charity cycle ride awaits him on Saturday 30 July to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, and The Stroke Association.

Geraint, 25, plans to complete the mammoth charity cycle in one day, setting off from Cardiff early in the morning, heading north via Corwen and finishing at the cricket club in Denbigh. He’ll swap his mountain bike for a tandem and his girlfriend Sara Thomas will pedal with him from the back saddle. The ride is a tribute to Sara’s granddad (taid), William Glyn Thomas, who died earlier this year.

Geraint, who lives in Cardiff, explained his motivation for taking on this challenge and supporting Alzheimer’s Research UK and The Stroke Association:

“Sara’s taid was a long serving member and chairman of Denbigh Cricket Club and loved the game, so it will be great to finish the ride in a place that meant a lot to him. Sara’s taid suffered a series of mini strokes which then lead to dementia. This is our way of raising much needed money for the pioneering research being carried out by Alzheimer’s Research UK and the Stroke Association.”

Sara, 21, from Bonvilston in the Vale of Glamorgan, added:

“My taid was a true gentleman and was loved enormously. It’s hard to express how cruel these illnesses are and the impact they have on the whole family. Taking on this cycling challenge is our way of helping to raise awareness and raise urgently needed money to find new preventions and treatments, and also a way of remembering and paying tribute to my lovely taid.

“Lots of our family and friends will be cycling with us. Anyone who wants to join us is welcome, even for just part of the journey – as long as they’re prepared to make a donation to Alzheimer’s Research UK or the Stroke Association. We want to do everything we can to help these charities progress with their vital research.”

Miranda Mays, Community Fundraising Manager for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“We’re thrilled that Geraint and Sara are taking on this exiting but strenuous bike ride to help defeat dementia. Every £20 they raise for us will pay for an hour of vital research, bringing us closer to finding ways to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

“Over 36,000 people in Wales are living with dementia today but funding lags far behind that of other serious diseases. We rely entirely on our wonderful supporters like Geraint and Sara to fund our world-class research.”

To help Geraint and Sara raise funds for pioneering research donate online. To take part in the cycle challenge contact Gayle Howells by email at gayle@seren-pr.co.uk.

For further information, photos or to speak with Geraint Thomas, Sara Thomas or Miranda Mays, please contact Sue Armstrong, Media Officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK on 01223 843304, 07500 119514 or email s.armstrong@alzheimersresearchuk.org

Image courtesy of Media Wales Ltd.

A Prosecco for the Garden

I used about half of this bottle from Cambridge Wine Merchants for a recipe that I was test-driving a few weekends ago for MasterChef finalist Alex Rushmer who, amongst other things, is about to open a new restaurant somewhere in Cambridge – recently revealed as The Hole in The Wall in Little Wilbraham.

It seemed a shame to waste the rest, and as the weather was so good that day, we sat in the garden and finished it off.

On pouring, it froths and foams enthusiastically; the nose is spritzy, lightly fruity with Conference pears and a slight seaside tang.

The palate shows more pear fruit, ripe, rounded acidity and some complex, citrus sweetness; the finish is dry, balanced and lingering.

Overall, it is refreshing, elegant and balanced; it does not gain particularly in complexity with air – rather, it remains straightforward and up-front, and impresses by being well-made and more-ish rather than through, say, the diverse flavours and aromas one finds in a good Champagne.

It also costs a lot less than a good Champagne, too.

The weather has been a little mixed in Cambridge since that day, but when the sun returns, this is just right for sitting in the garden.

La Delfina Special Cuvee Prosecco £8.49 from Cambridge Wine Merchants.

Links

Cambridge Wine Merchants – http://www.cambridgewine.com/

Alex Rushmer – http://alexrushmer.com/

Copyright Tom Lewis 2011

Nurse HawthoRNe Sizzles on TNT

Direct from America, Clara Freeman – freelance columnist, and self-confessed celebrity gossip mogul – discusses the twists and turns of one of TNT’s hottest shows: Nurse HawthoRNe (sic). Nurse HawthoRNe has proved very popular in America and stars the talented Jada Pinkett Smith and the handsome Michael Vartan.

Okay, I admit it again. I love the drama of TNT! The most watched show of Tuesdays nights have gotten even hotter since the addition of Latin crooner and recently separated, Marc Anthony appeared in 2 segments August 2010, before returning on semi- regular basis. Marc Anthony is best known for his Latin style of music where he sings in his flavor of salsa, even pending a duet with
estranged wife, Jennifer Lopez back in 2007, El Cantante.

Marc Anthony might be having marriage woes as reported in the media of late, after announcing a separation as of Friday, July 18th from Jennifer Lopez after 7 years of marriage and fathering twins. However, in spite of the constant attention revolving around the couple, Marc Anthony’s career in television appears on the rise. If his sizzling performance on Tuesday night’s Nurse Hawthorne is any indication of his longevity in the Movie & Television arena, he will have little concern for worry. His acting abilities are sharp and on point.

To recap a bit for those of you who haven’t caught the fireworks, Jada Pinkett Smith plays an ER nurse working to save patients under pressure on the Medical Drama. Doctor Tom, played by Michael Vartan, happened to be the best friend of Christina’s deceased husband and therefore, the two initially denied their feelings for one another.

In the first season Christina and Tom started to have ups & downs. Tom survived an accident and had a brief encounter with a member of the hospital board. Meanwhile, over in Christina’s camp, her friendship with a homeless mother, was investigated by none other than Detective Renata (Marc Anthony) when the mom stole back her child from adoption – get it?

Christina knows that she loves Tom. She’s intrigued by this detective who gallantly befriends her and advises her to go get her man (Michael) but that he will be waiting in the wings if she needs him. Christina and Tom reconcile their love for each other. The end of season 2 finds her pregnant with Tom’s Child.

Season 3 is the most traumatic, dramatic & sizzling season to date! Christina marries Tom, suffers a brutal attack, loses her baby and wonders, “Where was Tom when she needed him”? Enter Detective Nick Renata assigned to investigate the case. He’s back and determined to get the man who attacked the woman he secretly loves. Nick is under investigation for the murder of the man who victimized Christina and caused her to lose her child.

As Tom and Christina become distant in their relationship, Christina seeks solace from the wisdom of Nick’s mother, who tells her that she (Christina) does love Nick and wonders where Christina will land. Apparently, viewers of Tuesday night’s Nurse HawthoRNe didn’t have to wonder for long. The two lit it up with sensual, sexual tension and finally in the wee hours of a new dawn; they made love in Detective Nick Renata’s backyard, as the stars and left over cake from Mama Renata’s 85th birthday watch!

Before the love scene happened between the actors, one line uttered by Marc Anthony as Detective Nick Renata sort of got me to thinking… “It’s about a man in love with a married woman’. Hmmm, Will Smith, were you there?

About the Guest Author
Clara Freeman is a freelance writer/blogger/book reviewer and self-confessed celebrity & gossip mogul with a history in nursing stretching over three decades. Connect with her insights at Clara54’s Weblog or follow her on Twitter @C50something

Images reproduced from sonytv.com, bvonmoney.com and bleedingcool.com
Video reproduced from Youtube / scootermovies

Is It OK to Recycle Your Wardrobe?

London Life Coach & Relationship Expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams talks about Kate Middleton and recycling your wardrobe. Follow Sloan Life Coach on Twitter @SloanSW_London and check out Sloan’s Life Coaching website www.sloansw.com

Thank you for your question. When I first read your question it was slightly misleading as I thought you were referring to donating your clothes to charity. Although this was not what you were getting at I stress to your and other readers that if you are worried about wearing the same item of clothing on more than one occasion, there are many worthwhile charities that would happily accept donations. In the event this would pinch your pocket too much there is always the likes of eBay to resell your items as long as you follow their policies and classify the items as old or worn.

However as I reached the end of your question it became more apparent that your concern was more about peer pressure and what your friends at college would think of you for wearing the same outfit.

My advice to you is two-fold:-

1. It is a dangerous game especially from a young age to succumb to peer pressure. It is better to be a leader rather than a follower even if you have to make your own path and walk it alone. All schools have the popular girl who taunts others for wearing the same Alice band, shoes, jacket etc. but she’s just a big fish in a little pond. If you were to take her out of her comfort zone she would be nothing more than a little fish in a big pond. What you describe in your penultimate paragraph is very close to bullying and I would suggest that as you say you can’t speak to your parents about this that you at least seek comfort from the school counsellor.

2. On a purely fashion basis, celebrities have now made it perfectly acceptable to reuse handbags, shoes, leather trousers, shoes etc. and not worried about the paparazzi snapping them more than once in outfits that they like. In fact the latest demonstration of this was none other than the Duchess of Cambridge who only this month revamped one of her dresses that had been in her wardrobe for approximately four years and she looked stunning as usual. In addition she has a penchant for hats and wore the same one twice this month alone even though she has many to choose from. If that’s not enough to put your mind at rest she has also been spotted wearing her Jane Troughton coat on more than one occasion and the public still adore her.The Duchess of Cambridge, or K-Middy as many like to call her, has clearly paved the way for you to wear what you want when you want.

Good luck in wearing the same favourite outfits and gaining the courage to stand up to the bullies. If you want to be even more on trend accessorize with gold chunky jewellery and a dazzling smile.

I hope this answer has been of help to you. Please do feel free to comment further below and I also look forward to hearing comments from anyone going through a similar situation.

Image reproduced from mirror.co.uk

Take That Returns

Take That, reunited in their original line-up of for the first time since 1995 (with Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, Howard Donald, Jason Orange and Robbie Williams) , are currently touring through Britain and their current tour “Progress” has reached Wembley Stadium. The statistic for this concert are eye-watering: 1.76 million tickets were sold, of which 1.36 million tickets were snapped up in the first 24 hours of the sale. This makes their tour the biggest tour of any pop band or pop star in British history. The tour costs a rumoured £15m and as an additional attraction, the Pet Shop Boys sing as a support band.

The atmosphere in the stadium was extremely energetic when I walked in with my friends. Huge masses of people populated the ranks and were waiting with anticipation for the concert to start. The Pet Shop Boys were embraced very warmly by the crowd and the people were singing along to their classic songs. They really got the people into the right mood. However, when Neil Tennant announced that Take That would come on stage soon, the crowd started to become extatic. A magnificent atmosphere!

Finally, a huge countdown appeared on a screen that was centred on the stage. The spectators counted down the last minute and then … Take That appeared. 

The concert was divided into three stages. Firstly, Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, Howard Donald, Jason Orange appeared as a quartet. They very quickly announced that: “someone will join us later”. They performed some songs from their career as a quartet. After that, Robbie Williams appeared in a giant glass chariot and was welcomed by the crowd very warmly. He performed five songs of his solo career. Finally, all five members of the band appeared and started performing some of the newer songs from the new Progress album. The crowd was ecstatic! The band also sang some of their old hits, such as Back for Good. This really got the crowd going and some people indubitably started to reminisce about old times.

The whole show was loaded with special effects. Huge water fountains, elevating platforms, a glowing stage, dancing trees, roller-skating bees, ghost-like dancers and a huge caterpillar helped build up a very energetic atmosphere. A giant robot in the middle of the stage started moving during the second half of the concert. 

How long the reunion will last is uncertain. However, when the quintet sang Never Forget in front of the giant illuminated robot so tall it almost towered above the stadium, it almost felt like a mythical event.

This tour will certainly be one to be remembered by many people. Take That are reunited and their “group hug” towards the end of the performance marks unity. I am looking forward to seeing what happens to this famous pop quintet in the next few months and years.

You can obtain Take That’s albums, such as their latest album Progressedfrom Amazon, by clicking here:

   

Image reproduced from http://www.mosaicodiffusion.com

Treasures at the Fitzwilliam Museum

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has a fascinating exhibition on at the moment called “Treasure Under Your Feet” which runs until 4th September 2011 in the Octagon Gallery. The exhibition consists of displays of various discovered treasure from the East Anglia region which have helped archeologists understand the life and times of our ancestors. These precious objects not only look beautiful but they are a physical and emotional link back to the people who used them hundreds of years ago.

Exhibits in the “Treasure Under Your Feet” exhibition are from local public and private collections – such as the above jewel from Colchester Castle Musuem – in addition to pieces from the Fitzwilliam Museum itself. Notable items from the exhibition include a Bronze-Age torc which was a piece of jewellery worn around the neck, a Tudor jewel, hack-silver used by the Vikings as currency and gold coins from the English Civil War which date back to the 17th century.

The Fitzwilliam Museum was described as “one of the greatest art collection of the nation” by the Standing Commission on Museums & Galleries in 1968. It houses an extensive world-class collection of art and antiquities covering hundreds of years of history from ancient civilisations to the present day.

Highlights of the Fitzwilliam Museum include an extensive collection of British and European paintings from the 14th century to 20th century, sculpture, furniture, armour, European and Japanese porcelain, illuminated manuscripts, and antiquities from Egypt, Greece, Rome and other ancient civilisations from the Mediterranean and Near East.

After working up an appetite wandering around the museum, you can stop off for a drink and bite to eat at the Courtyard Café which serves sandwiches and light lunches together with morning and afternoon refreshments. The North Lawn Café is now open until October and serves al fresco refreshments for visitors who want to enjoy the open air when the days are warm and sunny.

Admission to the Fitzwilliam Museum is free but we recommend that you make a small donation which will pay for the maintenance of the galleries. The museum is closed on Mondays but is open between 10am and 5pm Tuesday to Saturday. On Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays it is open between 12pm and 5pm.

Image reproduced from Colchester Castle Museum

A Cup of Coffee in Vienna

For me, Vienna is synonymous with many things – the seat of the Habsburgs, the Holy Roman Empire, historic palaces and grand cathedrals, the waltzes of Strauss and clandestine assignations between cold-war spies and their spymasters.

So, it’s hard to pick one thing that sums up the city – and that diversity and wealth of heritage is one of the reasons I love it so much.

One of the things I also loved when I lived there was sitting in coffee house, making a small cup of coffee last several hours, if I was in the mood, without ever feeling like I was being encouraged to move on.

In 1683, Vienna lay on the edge of civilised Christendom (some locals believe it still does); the Ottoman armies had lain siege to the Austrian capital and were only defeated when the combined forces of King Jan Sobieski of Poland and Duke Charles of Lorraine came to help.

Amongst the silk tents and banners left behind by the retreating Turks (who would take another 200 years to leave Europe) were sacks of mysterious brown beans.

Eschewing the other, more obvious plunder, one of the Austrian spies, a Polish-Ukrainian named Franz George Kolschitzky, took the beans and opened Austria’s first coffee shop – mixing the thick, dark Turkish brew known as “Kahve” with milk and thus inventing the melange (ask for a cappuccino in Vienna and it will come with whipped cream on top).

The culture of the coffee house later received a boost from an unlikely source – namely, Emperor Franz Josef’s eating habits; a bluff military man, he was a picky eater. However, as custom dictated that not only the sovereign be served first but also that everyone else stop as soon as he put down his knife and fork, this left many an attendee going hungry at what should have been a grand banquet and relying on a visit to the coffee house afterwards for sustenance.

Vienna’s coffee houses have a rich tradition, then, of supporting courtiers, poets, musicians and even the odd exiled revolutionary, but when I lived in Vienna, my favourite coffee house was always the shabby but unhurried faded glamour of Cafe Hawelka – its Slavic name both indicative and typical of the mass immigration from the vassal states which Vienna experienced.

Situated just off the main pedestrianised street, the Graben, Hawelka epitomises gemütlichkeit – Austrian gentrified, down-at-heel cosiness; all the furniture has a reassuring romantic faded-glamour and a well-worn shabbiness to it and the welcome is as warm as any in Vienna.

One of the things we noticed living in Vienna was how low rents were compared to London. This is due to low land values, in turn as a result of a closed socialist economy.

It is these low overheads which allow a cafe in the centre of the city to welcome visitors for a coffee costing just a few Euros and not encourage them to leave the minute they have finished.

What I also like about Hawelka is how genuine it feels – in some cities it would have been turned into a quasi-tourist attraction, with a queue to get in, high prices and t-shirts plus other assorted souvenirs available for purchase as you exit through the gift shop.

That said, the Austrians are not too shabby when it comes to marketing themselves and there is a range of Hawelka merchandise available from coffee (obviously) to posters and playing cards.

In other cafes, you would feel the need or at least the obligation to move on as soon as you have finished, but here an atmosphere of relaxed, calm lounging pervades, in which it feels rude to move on too quickly.

This love of la dolce vita in a Germanic country confirmed my suspicions that the Austrians must be the missing link between the Germans and the Italians.

Yes, they like to lounge and they have a propensity for petty politics and scandal, but they can also make the trams run on time and keep the street clean.

It’s one of the reasons Austria is such a special place for me and why, for me, coffee is one of the things that symbolises Vienna above all.

As the Hawelka website puts it: while the Glory Years may have passed, it is the outside world that has changed and not the Café Hawelka. It still provides a refuge for many artists, writers and musicians.

Images reproduced from cambridgewineblogger.blogspot.com

X-Factor 2011: Style Wars

It’s no surprise to UK viewers that for the last few seasons of X-Factor Cheryl and Danni have been playing a quiet game of battle of the dresses which luckily for us kept raising the fashion stakes. During the audition process I was sometimes mesmerised by the outfits rather than the atrocious off key wannabe hopefuls. As we got closer to the live performances, although the singing was fabulous, I and no doubt many others couldn’t take my eyes off the dresses, make-up and hair that Cheryl and Danni rocked each week.

Sadly these two fabulously gorgeous women have now left our screens and we have four new leading ladies entering the fashion wars. On the UK side we have Kelly Rowland, of Destiny’s Child fame and Tulisa Contostavlos of N-Dubz versus Paula Abdul (who needs no introduction) and Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger taking centre stage Stateside.

The sexy awards so far definitely go to Kelly who has been showing off her tiny waist and fabulous long legs in superb short dresses but respectfully with a high neck-line and Nicole who oozes sex appeal with bold colour choices and low cut numbers to envy Jennifer Lopez’s infamous Versace dress. It’ll be a close call as to whom Kelly or Nicole will win sexiest female judge.

No strager to the X-Factor, Paula Abdul keeps her spot on the American judging panel and although she managed to pull off chic, simple and occasionally very daring to pull off a mini prom dress, it is my opinion that her years as a X-Factor judge are soon to come to an end.

As for Tulisa, she has a hard road to follow as she is often seen in British high street labels and tries to keep on trend with animal prints and cute floral blooms. Her stylist really has a lot of work cut out for her to help her reach the standard of the old pros. We wish her luck but the only fashion item I have liked on her so far were her neon T-Bar Zara heels which detracted my attention from her Olivia Ruben dress.

I am looking forward to Sky +ing Saturday night X-Factor and reporting later in the series who was my overall style queen. It seems like an unfair battle as Nicole quite clearly gives even Cheryl Cole a run for her money when it comes to looking fabulous.

Images reproduced from meanmassive.com, mirror.co.uk and idolator.com

Do You Support the Re-Opening of the Playboy Club?

London Life Coach & Relationship Expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams talks about corsets, Jessica Rabbit and her views on the Playboy Club. Follow Sloan Life Coach on Twitter @SloanSW_London and check out Sloan’s Life Coaching website www.sloansw.com

Thank your for your question, I can tell by the tone of your missive that you are anti the opening of the Playboy Club and can understand that it is your view that it degrades women and objectifies them.

Having not been old enough to have frequented the Playboy Club the first time round, I’ve only heard the horror stories of how the Bunny Girls were treated very strictly with their corsets being so tight that after a days work they would have red marks, lines and bruises down their back from their uniform. However with today’s legislation and more women standing up for themselves, I would argue is the Playboy Club any different from a club such as Peter Stringfellow’s.

The first good thing that I think comes out of bringing back the Playboy Club is that such outfits bring back the hourglass shape such as Marilyn Monroe’s figure.

If this has in any way helped our younger audience to appreciate that size zero is not a size then I would be all for the club, however I have yet to frequent it myself even though being invited.

 In terms of sales, looking at high street brands that stock corseted frocks, Forever Unique – a brand often seen on Alicia Dixon – has reported nearly a 60% rise in corset frocks since last year’s projections. A similar priced high street brand – Rare – has also reported just over 25% rise in the last six weeks of frocks that look as if they’ve been inspired by the outfits seen in the Playboy Club.

Kelly Osbourne for many years has been showing her assets off by pairing corsets with jeans, jackets and even skirts proving that corsets are for all shapes and sizes as this lady is famous for fluctuating in weight. If this is not enough, the red carpet has also seen the likes of Blake Lively, Emma Watson, Halle Berry and Reese Witherspoon all looking fabulous in their corseted ensemble for the cameras.

Jessica Rabbit was a hugely popular cartoon character back in the day and as long as Hugh Heffner is being ethical towards his bunnies it appears that this launch of his latest club has only done fashion a service and hopefully won’t send women back fifty years.

If anyone disagrees (or agrees) with me, I would love to hear your comments.

Images reproduced from playboyclublondon.com

Norwich Family’s Daughter’s Plight Eased by Local Charity Support

This week, City Connect reports on a family from Norwich who was supported by the Sick Children’s Trust.

One afternoon last summer, our 15 year old daughter Jade complained of feeling unwell. Over the following days her face began to swell up and she developed a pain in her leg so I took her to our local doctors in Norwich where they immediately did blood tests.  When the tests came back later that day they showed signs of leukaemia so we were blue-lighted in an ambulance to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, an hour and a away from our home.

My husband, Kevin, had to stay at home initially as we have two dependent parents to look after and needed to organise care for them, but I remained by Jade’s side until we arrived at the hospital. It was there on the ward that I learnt about The Sick Children’s Trust and the wonderful work Acorn House does.

We initially stayed at the house for 11 weeks whilst Jade was being treated for her illness before being moved to Bristol Children’s Hospital so she could undergo her bone marrow transplant.

When I arrived with Jade on the first day I just had the clothes on my back and not much else so being at the house and having access to the washing facilities and all the other amenities meant I didn’t have to worry about the little things like where I would wash my clothes or eat that night.  All my energy could be focused on Jade and her getting better.

During this time Jade would often join us at the house and sit outside in the sunshine. It must have been a lot for her to take in, going from a normal healthy girl overnight to having to battle this awful disease, and I think that moments like this away from the ward helped her feel normal and behave like an average teenager.

Also, when Jade was undergoing chemotherapy she’d crave different foods which sometimes the facilities at the hospital couldn’t cater for, so whether it was chicken dippers or ice cream, it was nice to know I could pop down to the local shop and cook her favourite foods over at Acorn House.  The joy we got from small things like this can’t be put into words.

Jade also took great comfort knowing that we were okay.  She’d often worry about me and ask where I was sleeping at night so having the space at Acorn House really reassured her that mum and dad were coping fine.  Also for me, having to sleep by the bedside really drained my energy and without a full night sleep it would have been hard to face the day ahead.  Staying at Acorn House meant I woke rested and could face the day fresh.

In December 2010, after Jade’s transplant, we came back to Addenbrooke’s Hospital as it was renowned for its specialist care for Leukemia patients. We were then transferred back here under the watchful eye of hospital staff whilst she recovered and fortunately we were lucky enough to once more receive a room at Acorn House.

During this time there were lots of ups and downs as Jade battled through recovery, but thanks to Acorn House I could be by Jade’s side day and night. My husband would join us on the weekend as it was too far for him to travel and work every day, but even this meant we could have special family time away from the wards together. To help Jade’s recovery she would often come over to the house and hang out with me and her dad.  We’d sit on the big, comfy sofas and watch DVDs and when friends would visit her, it’s so much nicer to be able to bring them to Acorn House than having to sit around Jade’s hospital bed.

Jade even came over and stayed the night at the house once or twice and I think this helped her recovery no end.  Being away from the beeps and sounds of the ward in a room with her parents was the next best thing to being at home and gave her a real boost whenever she visited.

Being surrounded by families who are going through the same situation also helped me deal with the stress and I’ve made some great friends out of my time at the house – a positive out of a truly awful situation. There is one family in particular we speak to about twice a week, just to get updates and see how each other are doing.

The ward had to call me on a few occasions as Jade wanted her mum, and the relief that I could just put on my clothes and pop across the road to reassure her was immense.  If I had had to travel all the way from Norwich to do that, I don’t think I would have been able to cope.

It’s been eight months now since Jade underwent her transplant and every day she is getting stronger.  They say it takes 18 months until you are fully recovered so we do have a long road ahead but for now I am just happy that she is getting her strength back and she is at home with us.

We still have to visit Addenbrooke’s Hospital every two weeks as part of her post operative check ups and often call in on the house.  It’s funny to think that even though we went through one of the worst times of our life here, we have such fond memories of our time spent at The Sick Children’s Trust. We spent 94 days there in total and I’ll always remember the support we received and be grateful for that.

Relax and Rejuvenate

London Life Coach & Relationship Expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams talks about favourite spas. Follow Sloan Life Coach on Twitter @SloanSW_London and check out Sloan’s Life Coaching website www.sloansw.com

The Telegraph and Ultratravel have done a survey on the top ten best spas. We have reviewed their article and choices and agree that five of our favourite spas in the world are included in their list. In no particular order we have listed them below.

The most important thing about spa life is to remember that you are worth pampering and that if you cannot get away for a full retreat, do make time for yourself and run a bubble bath, light some candles, put on a face mask and indulge yourself in the quiet relaxation you have created even if for only 30 minutes. Yes, that goes for men too!

Sha Wellness Centre
Location: Alicante, Spain
Specialities: Anti-ageing and macrobiotic therapies.
Website: www.shawellnessclinic.com

Sense, The Carlyle
Location: Rosewood Hotel in New York, USA
Spa Brochure: Sense Spa Brochure
Website: www.rosewoodhotels.com

Six Senses Destination Spa
Location: Phuket, Thailand
Specialities: Signature treatment is a Thai Massage
Website: www.wellbeingescapes.co.uk

Fortina Spa Resort
Location: Fortina Hotel, Malta
Specialities: Laser hair removal, colonics and bootcamps.
Website: www.fortinasparesort.com

Como Shambhala
Location:Bali, Indonesia.
Specialities: In house resident psychologist
Claim to Fame: Celebrity hang out including Donna Karen
Website: www.comoshambhala.bz

If you have recently been to one of the above spas or think another spa should have made our list, do comment below.

Images reproduced from shawellnessclinic.com and wellbeingescapes.co.uk

Maxi Dresses for Maximum Impact

The maxi dress has been adorning the red carpet and the high street for a long time now however we have taken it upon ourselves to highlight a few of our favourites for you to experiment with this summer.

If you’d like to sizzle in style as the lady in red, this evening maxi dress look by Elie Saab was worn exquisitely by Catherine Zeta Jones at the Tony Awards in New York.

Taking it from demure to sexy, Heidi Klum rocks a Michael Kors thigh high split dress that reminds us of Liz Hurley-esque with a dangerously low plunging neckline that makes even Versace shudder however this mother knows how to work this turquoise maxi at a prestigious gala event in New York.

Diane Kruger goes for demure in an off white partially lace number by designer Alessandra Rich. At the forefront of fashion, Diane knows how to maximise her maxi with a neon tangerine (colour of the moment) belt to make sure she is a show-stopper at the gala event in Paris where she was photographed.

The film festival in Shanghai highlighted two of this month’s hottest A list frocks. Fan Bing Bing emulates an exotic beauty in this light lavender George Hobeka maxi which is a personal favourite of mine. However I was pleasantly surprised to see Mischa Barton at the same event looking fully recovered from her “time out”.

If these dresses are not enough to maximise the green-eyed monster in any girl, Blake Lively rocks the most amazing white maxi Chanel wedding dress layered with Lorraine Schwartz jewellery and with her long luscious locks she’s as beautiful as ever.

For those of you with a more modest pocket, Lisa Snowdon stepped out in a beautiful 100% silk maxi dress by Autograph at Marks and Spencer bringing new glam to Sunday casual.

Even cheaper still, Jennifer Metcalfe was not only seen out in a yellow Miss Selfridge strapless maxi dress (£50) but she also accessorized with this season’s hottest look gold, gold, gold!

Again we are spoilt for choice as Colleen Rooney’s latest line for Littlewoods also contains a fabulous red bird print maxi dress with the added feature of it being a halter neck which will add the va va voom to any occasion. This dress can be snapped up for just under £100.

Look luxurious in lace. This sheer black lace maxi is only £85 from pretaportabello.com. A skin coloured slip will keep your modesty whilst still looking fabulous in one of this season’s key looks.

The latest in maxi dresses is a deep V front cut which is more flattering to curvy ladies. Our two favourites so far are an animal print from Jarlo at just £70 and a purple pleated maxi from Asos at just £65. The best thing about the Asos dress is that it is rumoured that pleats will be massive for autumn so you’d be hitting two hot trends (the maxi and pleats) in one fell swoop.

If you’re looking for a real bargain, look no further than the labels Fuse, Apricot and Isabel where you can pick up maxi dresses for under £50. The quality is not as good but you can still keep on trend.

Images reproduced from whatbesttowhere.com and aqku.com

Favourite iPhone Apps

Our readers asked us if we could do a list of the most popular iPhone apps. Mobile phone technology has become an integral part of everyone’s live and smart phones have become more and more popular. With the increase in demand, the applications that one can download these days have increased exponentially and it gets harder and harder to choose which applications to install. City Connect recommends the following apps:

(1) Google Maps

The google maps application seems to be an all-time favourite. It is very self explanatory and intuitive. It is particularly great in big cities if you want to find your way around. Hint: the GPS works even abroad when you have switched off your roaming. You just cannot browse the map, but you can load it using a WiFi and then track your position without a internet connection.

(2) Around me

This application allows you to quickly find information about your surroundings, such as banks, bars, coffee shops, ATMs, hotels, pubs and many more. This is particularly useful if you live in a big city or travel a lot. It makes life much easier and navigation very easy in busy places.

(3) Viber

Viber allows you to phone other contacts who also have Viber installed for free via the internet. This is particularly useful if you want to talk with friends abroad as it incurs zero costs. This is a great way to save money!

(4) Angry Birds

For one the greatest iPhone game ever, for the other a waste of time. Angry birds is the ultimate game for the iPhone and very popular. It is very simple: a bunch of birds have to be catapulted to hit some evil pigs. It is dead simple to play and a great way to release aggression and anger. Try it out and decide if it is for you!

(5) AllRecipes’ Dinner Spinner

Have you ever come home after a hard day at work indecisive about what you can cook with the few ingredients that are in your fridge? Ever wondered how to quickly conjure a romantic dinner virtually out of nothing to surprise your loved one after work? This application is a great way to make the ingredients in your fridge into a great tasty dinner.

(6) Runkeeper

This application uses GPS to track your exercise. Whether you want to walk or run, you can monitor your performance very accurately. Each workout will be sent to your e-mail address and you can thus easily monitor your fitness over time. This is a must have for runners.

(7) Shazam

Have you ever wondered what the song was that played in the background in a restaurant or pub? Just open shazam and it will recognise any pop song and give you title and singer. This is a great app to give more peace to your mind.

(8) Dragon Dictation

This app is the beginning of a new area of mobile technology. Now you can dictate your text message and have it typed out for you on the screen. The app works in many different languages and makes texting so much easier. Make sure you speak relatively slowly and pronounce the words well.

(9) Top 100 hits

This app gives you a list of the 100 top hits in any major country, such as the UK, the States, Germany, France, Canada and many more. You can listen to parts of the songs but unfortunately you have to buy it on iTunes if you want to listen to the whole song. Another great thing about this application, is that you can find music which is similar in style to the songs you like and automatically make playlists.

(10) Trip it

This app is great to help you plan your travel itineraries. The great thing about it is that you can just use your reservation conformation e-mails and forward it to the applications. It will build up a list of recommendations straight away for you.

 

 

Brasserie G̩rard РCambridge

It is one of a chain of nineteen countrywide and it is situated on Bridge Street, not far from Jesus Green. The brasserie offers a variety of menus chosen from a rustic part of the French cuisine.

The atmosphere in the establishment is very quaint and classy and the service is very good and professional.  It has a light and airy feel and is a perfect place to experience the world-famous French kitchen. The menu is diverse, including a breakfast menu, a menu à la carte, a dessert menu and they also offer weekend specials on Saturday and Sunday with a main course for only £9.95.  All the food is very affordable, keeping an average bill for a two-course dinner at around £25 – £35 (depending on drink). The restaurant is busy at weekends and I recommend to book a table, but there is usually no problem to find a place for breakfast or lunch.

The location in Cambridge makes it an ideal place to go for a brunch on a Saturday or a lunch for those who like to participate in outdoor sports activities on a weekend, such as rowing, as the Brasserie is situated very close to the river.

I personally used to dine there many times on a weekend and always experienced very professional service and enjoyed the great continental atmosphere. The staff have always been very friendly and I was amazed by the French charm of the restaurant.

My personal recommendations are:

From the breakfast menu:

Oeufs Brouillés: Scrambled free range eggs on toasted brioche – £4.50

Oeufs Bénédictines Royales: Two poached free range eggs on toasted brioche with smoked salmon and Hollandaise sauce – £6.95

From the à la carte menu:

Demi Poulet: Half a chargrilled chicken sprinkled with herbs and your choice of sauce: honey and mustard, garlic butter or mushroom and red wine – £12.95

Filet de Loup: Pan-fried sea bass with Provençal potatoes, braised fennel and a roasted tomato oil – £13.95

Confit de Canard: ‘Maison Lafitte’ duck leg confit served on sautéed potatoes with slices of onions, bacon lardons and wilted spinach in a red wine jus – £13.95

Contact details:

Telephone
01223 448620
Address:
27-28 Bridge Street,
Cambridge,
CB2 1UJ
Opening times:
Monday – Saturday : 9am to 11pm
Sunday : 9am to 10.30pm

For table booking click here.

Image courtesy of: www.hi.nelso.in and www.srimg.eu

Dating Statistics in the UK

London Life Coach & Relationship Expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams talks about the UK dating scene. Follow Sloan Life Coach on Twitter @SloanSW_London and check out Sloan’s Life Coaching website www.sloansw.com

After a request from a client to know more about our current dating climate, I have collated the following information from research conducted by YouGov of just under 2500 people across Great Britain and other research I have sourced on dating statistics in the UK. So what does Britain’s dating environment look like?

Supposedly Britain’s dating community is currently 8.6 million strong, with singles spending a whopping £8 billion every year on searching for that special someone. 15 million people in the UK are currently estimated to be single, but only half of these are looking for a long-term relationship. Three quarters of singles have not had a relationship last beyond 2 years yet the current average age for a person to get married is 29 as opposed to 24 in 1851.

So if you are single it is suggested that the average cost of a date in Britain today stands at a whopping £200 including outfit and preparation. Men spend almost ten times as much on the actual date as women, however us females are said to spend nearly that on clothes and prep for the date.

London is still the most expensive area to date with Wales housing the keenest date hunters in UK. London contains 33 per cent more singles than any other county, but conversley it is considered the worst place to be single due to cost and competition.

42 per cent of singles are looking for love by the photocopier. Yet 52% think they are most likely to meet a potential date in a bar or club setting. Scots are more likely to stick to old fashioned methods of dating, spending just a quarter of the national average on unconventional dating. 15 per cent of daters in Britain want to find new ways to meet ‘the one’ and are bored with traditional methods.

However with technology becoming more a part of the dating scene, 43% of people have admited to Googling their first date before they meet them, with 4.7 million people in the UK having visited a dating website in the past year.

Not satisfied with just websites, the dating revolution has now come to the iphone and ipad, with applications like SmartDating, Facebook Dating, DNADating and Zoosk, to name but a few… have we perhaps gone  a bit too far? In just minutes on some of the apps, you can find someone within as little as a mile radius, that wants to meet you as soon as in the next 30 minutes. Although, it is brilliant that there is less stigma to dating sites than even just a few years ago, as it is now possible with the help of some of these apps to use the GPS on your device to show people where you are, be it your home or a Starbucks are we perhaps not taking dating too lightly?

I do wonder if technology is not superceeding the safety aspect once afforded to us by online dating. Just because a person is close by doesn’t make them right, all it takes is for them to walk by and try and find you which could be considered romantic if they turn out to be the much talked about ‘perfect partner’ but more often that not 5 minutes later you wonder what your iphone has got you into! Operator impulse control issues aside, geographical advancements in technology do add a nice twist on the dating theme but where will it end? For a faster ‘more effective’ or more accurately ‘quicker’ means of reaching out to someone on cyberspace should we really be comprimising our safety? That too, if it was that easy to find you, how do you know it isn’t that easy to cheat on you?

Unfortunately one-third of online dating users admit to lying in their profile, and that too about being in a relationship. It has even been suggested more actually lie than admit it. Despite this negative slant, one in five married individuals aged between 19 and 25 met their spouse online, which is the same number of people that marry a co-worker.

But before you get your hopes up for an office romance, be warned that half of all workplace romances are over within three months.

And on the topic of break ups, only 30% of relationships are ended face to face, although I only know of one instance (which was fictional – Sex in the City) where a character was crass enough to break up with a girl by Post-it note!

Dating is a mine field but whichever way you choose to go – old fashioned versus technology – a good match is no doubt not far from reach with the right outlook and perspective.

If you have any information you would like to add or further questions please do ask or leave a comment.

Please read here http://victoriaheartsreview.com/.

Photo: courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Cambridge Shakespeare Festival

July sees the return of the UK’s best-loved open-air Shakespeare Festival. The Cambridge Shakespeare Festival 2011 runs from 11 July until 27 August. The festival takes place in a number of Cambridge University private gardens and promises to deliver some of Shakespeare’s greatest works in the timeless and magical surroundings of the College Gardens.

The Cambridge Shakespeare Festival includes performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Anthony & Cleopatra, Macbeth and Romeo & Juliet. Eight plays will be performed throughout the summer and up to 25,000 visitors are expected to attend the productions across the eight weeks of the festival.

The actors perform in period costume with live Elizabethan music adding authenticity to each production and the garden setting offers a unique atmosphere as the setting sun and moonlight provides the open-air venues with special lighting that could never be recreated inside a theatre.

Before each evening’s performance, the audience can picnic in the picturesque College Gardens before settling down to watch the actors bring Shakespeare’s plays to life with their dramatic interpretation of the Bard’s work.

The absence of the usual trappings of a stage production means that the focus remains on the actors themselves and brings the audience closer to the action. The Company presents each play in such a way that even those who are unfamiliar with Shakespeare can enjoy their first experience of the tragedy, comedy and history of Shakespeare’s plays.

Performances take place every evening during the Festival except Sundays and begin at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £15 and can be purchased on the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival website, on the door or in advance from City Centre Box Office on Wheeler Street.

Special charity matinee performances will be held on Saturdays at 2.30pm and support the Children’s Hospice in Milton and St. John’s Hospice on the Wirral. Click here for further details.

Below is a list of productions taking place during the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival:-

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream – 11 to 30 July – St John’s College Gardens
  • Anthony & Cleopatra – 11 to 30 July – Robinson College Gardens
  • The Winter’s Tale – 11 to 30 July – Downing College Gardens
  • The Comedy of Errors – 11 to 30 July – Girton College Gardens
  • Much Ado About Nothing – 1 to 20 August – King’s College Gardens
  • Macbeth – 1 to 20 August – Trinity College Gardens
  • All’s Well That Ends Well – 1 to 27 August – Robinson College Gardens
  • Romeo & Juliet – 1 to 27 August – Girton College Gardens

Click here to see a video about the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival and experience the magic for yourself.

Images reproduced from cambridgeshakespeare.com

Picnic Concerts at Audley End

The sun’s out. The days are getting longer. Sandals can now worn without the risk of frostbite. Summer is finally here. So what better time to plan a picnic. I don’t mean any ordinary picnic though. I’m talking about the fabulous English Heritage Picnic Concerts happening this Summer at Audley End House.

Audley End House in Saffron Walden is the stately venue for a wonderful schedule of concerts this July with performers ranging from Tom Jones and Katherine Jenkins to Scouting For Girls and The Saturdays. This breathtaking setting is the ideal location to enjoy a picnic with friends and loved ones whilst listening to great music in a relaxed atmosphere.

Here are the details of July’s concert schedule at Audley End:

  • Saturday 9 July – Bootleg Beatles & Björn Again
  • Saturday 16 July – Scouting for Girls with Sophie Ellis Bextor
  • Saturday 23 July – The Saturdays
  • Saturday 30 July – Tom Jones
  • Sunday 31 July – Last night of the Audley End Proms starring Katherine Jenkins

VIP packages are available and include hospitality in a marquee which has the best views of the concert stage and a two course cold buffet with wine. Guests can either bring their own picnics or special hampers can be pre-ordered from Carluccio’s and collected on the day. Every concert at Audley End finishes with a spectacular firework display that is the perfect end to a perfect evening of music and entertaining.

On 31 March 2011, the Cambridge News quoted Joel Smith, concert organiser for IMG, as saying that: “The picnic concerts at Audley End bring together fine food and marvellous music in a breathtaking location for a celebration of the British picnic tradition. With the estate boasting a rich musical history – Audley End was built for the entertaining King James I, a strong campaigner for reforming and promoting the teaching of music – the site is the perfect location for magical nights of incredible al fresco entertainment”.

These concerts are extremely popular – especially the ones with big stars like Tom Jones. The last night of the Audley End Proms also gets booked up quick. Therefore it is recommended that you purchase tickets early to avoid disappointment.

Images reproduced from www.picnicconcerts.com, sugarscape.com and getmein.com