Buyers Guide: First Class Cuppa

The Stamp Collection is the chic creation of Gift Republic, a multi award-winning gift company who produce mugs bearing designs using iconic Royal Mail stamps. This is the ideal gift if you’re looking for something quirky and unusual for a friend or loved one. They look so beautiful that it’ll be hard to resist treating yourself to one as well.

The stylish bone china mugs are hand finished in the UK. They don’t just look good but are also fully dishwasher and microwave safe. The range has the Royal seal of approval as it is officially licensed by Royal Mail Ltd and the British Postal Museum & Archive.

A popular design is the Sent With Love mug shown below. Designs are based on the familiar red first class stamp or the blue second class. There are also a range of multicoloured designs which will add style to every cuppa.

Other designs in the range are tailored for a First Class mum, dad, brother, sister or friend. There are also tongue-in-cheek designs called “I Rule” and “Queen of Everything”!

A Stamp Collection mug will add a bit of posh to every tea or coffee break. They are generously sized and made to a very high quality. The mugs look very tasteful on your desk or dining table. Who would have thought that stamp collecting could be so stylish?!

Gift Republic also sells a range of other stylish gifts on their website.

Images reproduced from Gift Republic

ENTJ – The Field-Marshall / General

London Life Coach & Relationship Expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams talks about personality type and characteristics of an ENTJ. Follow Sloan Life Coach on Twitter @SloanSW_London and check out Sloan’s Life Coaching website

I have been asked to elaborate on each personality type with a few characteristics and examples for each. It should come as no surprise that I have decided to start with ENTJ, my very own type!

ENTJs have a natural tendency to lead. They like to direct circumstances for a greater good. They are often seen delegating to those they feel competent enough to complete the task. Their leadership ability, if you are lucky, can be expressed with the grace and finesse of a world leader but beware they sometimes have a tendancy to be more like a bull in a china shop with the linguistic clumsiness and directness indicative of only an NTJ.

ENTJ’s are very vocal about upcoming projects, this trait can take hold by making them extraordinary salesmen, compelling story-tellers, enthusiastic scientists, directors of global enterprises or influential high ranking politians. ENTJ’s are decisive creatures, often found making plans. They are however happy to include others in their bid for world domination!

Alternatively, cross an ENTJ and you would be a braver person than I. You may be lucky and only receive one of their death stares that serves notice harsher than a bankruptcy order, more likely though you will be reaching for that white flag and waving it more furiously than a free faller without a parachute. Suffice to say, the ENTJ is not one to take on in battle, as it is not a question of if you will lose but when.

Having said that experience teaches the ENTJ both patience and restraint are the better part of valor. This allows them to put their mental energies into more productive pasttimes. An impressive trait of the ENTJ once the art of acceptance has been learnt, is that of living on a level that allows them to appreciate all types/people even above the very high standards and principles an ENTJ expects of himself and others.

All in all to have an ENTJ by your side will be a help not a hinderence, if you can get over their constant wish to learn, grow, improve and teach.

In my observation, famous ENTJ’s include many world leaders, some of which I have mentioned below, successful entrepreneurs and a man everyone loves to hate but has revolutionised reality talent shows. In no particular order ten ENTJ’s are…

1. Bill Gates
2. Margaret Thatcher
3. Winston Churchill
4. Donald Trump
5. Vladimir Putin
6. Franklin D. Roosevelt
7. Napoleon Bonaparte
8. Julius Caesar
9. Charles de Gaulle

And last but not least

10. Simon Cowell

For those of you who wish to know if some of your favourite characters exhibit these qualities, in my opinion fictional ENTJs include…

Jean Luc Picard (STNG) and Patrick Stewart the actor who plays him
Barney Stinson (How I Met Your Mother)
Stewie Griffin (Family Guy)
Ari Gold (Entourage)
Bart Bass (Gossip Girl)
Perry Cox (Scrubs)

If you are an ENTJ or know one, I would love to hear your opinion on this description.

Garra Rufa Fish Pedicures

The pedicure has got fishy with the introduction of Garra Rufa fish pedicures across the UK over the last 12 months. I have been familiar with this intriguing aquatic foot treatment for many years thanks to my travels in Asia where this treatment has proved very popular and I am pleasantly surprised to see tanks of Garra Rufa fish popping up in sometimes the least expected of places – most recently in the Grafton Centre in Cambridge.

You may already be familiar with the concept but for those of you who have not heard of this fish spa treatment please allow me to fill you in.

Garra Rufa fish normally live in Turkish hot springs like those found in the small town of Kangal. For centuries in the Near East, locals have been visiting such springs for one of nature’s most bizarre reversals of the food chain. The Garra Rufa fish love to feed on dead skin and have been used extensively for hundreds of years in the treatment of skin conditions.

Sometimes known as Doctor Fish, these little fish use their suction-cup mouth to delicately remove dead skin from the feet. The toothless mouth and rasp like lips of these fish mean that there is no pain involved during the treatment unlike some more traditional forms of pedicure. The exfoliation of the skin feels like a gentle massage and the fish only remove the dry dead skin on the surface of the feet without touching the soft healthy skin underneath.

Garra Rufa fish are said to stimulate acupuncture points in the foot during the pedicure and they are also believed to release a special enzyme called diathanol in their saliva which aids the regeneration and healing of the skin.

In the last couple of years, the use of Garra Rufa fish has become somewhat of a novel way to get a pedicure and they have entered the mainstream world of beauty treatments with tanks appearing in spas and salons around the world. The first Garra Rufa fish spa opened in Sheffield in early 2010.

My first experience of a Garra Rufa fish pedicure was on a holiday to Bali in Indonesia. The treatment left my feet feeling smooth and soft after the fish had nibbled off the dry skin around my heels leaving my feet looking great for flip-flops and sandals. I would definitely recommend a Garra Rufa fish pedicure to anyone who wants healthy feet that look good on show in the latest summer footwear this season.

If you’d like to try this unique pedicure for yourself, there are a couple of places in Cambridge that you can visit. Kismet Therapy Rooms in the Grafton Centre is a conveniently situated spa in central Cambridge and is reasonable priced. A 20 minute treatment only costs £15. Do as I did and finish your fish pedicure with a relaxing aromatherapy foot massage for an additional £5. The Garra Rufa fish at Kismet are very well looked after as I was told on my recent visit that each individual tank is UV filtered 17 times an hour and each tank of Garra Rufa fish are only used once every 2 hours. There are plenty of tanks available so this shouldn’t be a concern but booking is always advisable. Kismet has a policy of checking clients feet for broken skin or infections and foot spas are used before a treatment.

Skin Deep Salon is another Cambridge beauty salon where you can experience a fishy pedicure from the Garra Rufa fish. An express treatment at Skin Deep only costs £25. The salon is located in south Cambridge close to the Cambridge Leisure Centre and offers a range of treatments in addition to the fish pedicure.

In London, one of the smartest salons offering Garra Rufa fish pedicures is Aqua Sheko which claims to be London’s first fish therapy concept spa. Aqua Sheko has two salons in Kensington and Soho and the ambience is sleek oriental chic. The Soho salon offers fish hand treatments and even has a full body option for those who want to go for the all over fish therapy experience. Prices start from £30.

Fish pedicures are as controversial as they are unusual. There is a health concern debate about the possible risks associated with Garra Rufa fish pedicures. Although spa owners use ultraviolet filters in the tanks and change the water regularly, concerns have been raised about possible health risks and cross contamination. Fish pedicures have been banned in 14 states in America. However, the UK’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) say they are currently unaware of any cases of infection linked with the use of Garra Rufa fish pedicures in Britain. HPA guidelines are due to be published in the near future following an investigation into the claims. It is recommended that you check with the spa to find out what hygiene practices are in place to prevent client infection and, if in doubt, do not feel obliged to go ahead with treatment – it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Images reproduced from and

Belgo – Belgian for Beer, Mussels and More Beer

Belgium – famous for beer, Belgian chocolate, Hercule Poirot, and earlier this year it achieved the record for the country with the longest time without a government in modern history. But before the political deadlock, Belgium was also famous for its national dish of moules et frites – otherwise known as mussels and chips.

Which brings us on to one of London’s most popular Belgian restaurants – Belgo Centraal – where they’ve been serving mussels and other Belgian dishes since opening in 1992. Nestled in the heart of Covent Garden, this flagship restaurant of the Belgo restaurant chain specializes in simple Belgian dishes and Belgian Beer at a very reasonable price.

Belgo Centraal is on Earlham Street and the subterranean location is very atmospheric. It is noted for its open kitchens and its waiting staff dressed in monastic inspired uniforms. As well as offering a good selection of wines, Belgo is renowned for serving over 70 different types of beer – everything from Stella Artois and Leffe to more unusual fruit beers flavoured with strawberry, banana or even chocolate. The latter perhaps should be reserved for the more adventurous drinker!

There is an appetizing selection of Starters to choose from. The Goose & Sauterne Pâté is delicious. Or why not try the Warm Salad of Smoked Bacon, Shredded Duck, Eggs & Black Pudding if you want something more substantial. The Salmon Fishcakes are also very good and come served with baby spinach and lime hollandaise.

When it comes to Mains, the signature dish is unsurprisingly the Mussel Pots – a kilo of steamed mussels served in one of four sauces: flavourful Traditionnelle, creamy Marinière, tomato-based Provençale, and oriental Green Thai. Platters and bowls of mussels are also available for diners with smaller appetites. For those who’d like to try a classic Belgian dish, go for the Waterzooi – a tasty combination of chicken, leeks and potatoes in a light cream & chicken broth. Other popular mains include the Rotisserie Chicken – a half chicken basted in Belgian blonde beer & apple juice and served with a choice of delicious sauces; the Beef Carbonnade – beef braised in sweet Gueuze beer with apples & plums; and the Wild Boar Sausages – served with Belgian stoemp mash & berry jus.

If you still have room for Dessert, the Crème Brûlée is highly recommended as is the Brussels Style Waffle. For those wanting to be more indulgent, try the Bread & Butter Pudding or the Belgian Dark Chocolate Cheesecake. If you fancy some fruity liquid refreshment after your meal, the selection of Genever Schnapps is sure to please – the bartender will line up a random choice on a Mixed Stick for that touch of Russian roulette.

Belgo have a range of promotions on offer throughout the week. The Express Lunch Menu is available daily between 12pm and 5pm and is a very good deal – £7.95 gets you one of a selection of main courses served with a choice of Cristal lager, a glass of house wine or a soft drink. There is the special “Beat The Clock” menu – every Monday to Friday between 5pm and 6.30pm, your main course costs the price of the time you order, e.g. order at 6 o’clock and pay £6. There is also a reasonably priced children’s menu if you’re treating the little darlings to a meal out.

As well as Belgo Centraal, the chain also has restaurants in Bromley, Camden, Clapham and Kingsway. The Belgo brand is owned by Tragus Holdings, which also owns the French-styled Café Rouge chain and two chains of Italian restaurants – Strada and Bella Italia.

So, if you’re in the mood for mussels, a visit to Belgo Centraal is highly recommended.

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Buyers Guide: Kumar’s Curry & Bumbu Sauces

New to the UK is the most amazing range of curry sauces that are like nothing you will have ever tasted before. Kumar’s curry sauces and bumbu’s will give you the true taste of South Asian cuisine in convenient ready-to-use pots that are now available in the UK for home delivery. “Bumbu” is the Indonesian word for spice or seasoning. Bumbu commonly appears in the names of spice mixtures, sauces and seasoning pastes from countries within Southern Asia.

Kumar’s range of 13 fresh curry sauces and bumbu’s take you right back to the literal “roots” of many familiar sounding, and some less well-known curry dishes, originating from southern India, Thailand and Indonesia. The curries and bumbu’s eaten by the people of Southern Asia are typically a much dryer dish than the anglicised versions of curry we are familiar with in the UK and these authentic dishes also contain many fresh ingredients that simply cannot be bought locally over here.

For those who want a more authentic taste experience, help is at hand from Suresh Kumar who is a talented Malaysian chef working for the Verstegen food group. Suresh knows nothing about the fake anglicised curries the British have suffered over the years. He bases his recipes purely on his own knowledge of ingredients from Southern Asia which he combines with the expertise necessary to carefully blend and balance the many complex flavours contained within every Kumar’s sauce and bumbu paste.

These ready-to-use sauces are very thick and paste-like when you first open the pots. Kumar’s sauces are not runny or full of oil like those that we have become accustomed to using. Preparing a curry at home couldn’t be simpler with the help of Suresh’s delicious and easy-to-use sauces. Just add the entire pot of sauce to 500g of seared meat, fish or vegetables, stir well, and simmer. You can always add a little water to the sauce to thin out the consistency or add plain yoghurt if you want a milder flavour.

Kumar’s sauces are nothing like the sickly sweet, creamy, violently coloured, flavour enhanced imposters being sold under the name of curry sauces in Britain today. Be warned that your palate could be pleasantly surprised by the unfamiliar spicy sensations you experience the first time you taste the curries, especially with the ones you think you are already familiar with.  The Kumar range includes Korma, Madras, Tikka Masala and Vindaloo sauces as well as some special Indonesian varieties and they are all available for home delivery.

Making the effort to cook with the more unfamiliar sauces from Indonesia is highly recommended for a new taste sensation. Use Kumar’s Rendang Sauce to make a classic Indonesian Beef Rendang curry . Chicken goes very well with Kumar’s Bumbu Bali Sauce. Slow-cooked pork is delicious cooked in Kumar’s Babi Ketjap Sauce. For a tasty duck curry, use Kumar’s Besengek Sauce to make an authentic Indonesian dish known as Bebek Besengek.

Suresh Kumar shares his great passion for south Asian cuisine with a growing customer following here in the UK. His aim is to blend inspiration, generations of knowledge and fresh ingredients together in perfect balance, leading you to new experiences, lasting memories and most importantly, flavoursome authentic South East Asian cooking that you will truly love to prepare and enjoy with friends and family for many years to come.

Kumar’s sauces are available by mail order from Verstegen Direct. Each 350g tub costs £3.99 plus P&P. Check out their website today for the special introductory offer of any 6 varieties from the Kumar’s range for only £19.98 with free UK delivery.

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What Has Happened to Sports Stars?

There was a time when sports stars were respected; revered throughout our nation. The likes of Sir Bobby Charlton or JPR Williams gave out a professional, gentlemanly conduct that was seen and loved throughout the country. Now, however, there is little to suggest that our sporting personalities do anything to be respected. The conduct shown both on and off their respective fields of play has lead to constant bombardment from media outlets, and rightly so. So due to this negativity, there is the overwhelming question – what has happened to sports stars?

With the obscene amount of money they earn combined with the fact that they are in the public eye 99% of the time, you would think that athletes would show a better demeanour, especially knowing that people will jump on any story and turn it in to a negative assault.

The prime, and most current, example of this is the England rugby squad. Travelling over to New Zealand, they were briefed on how they should behave, a briefing that did not include non-misogynous dancing, chauvinistic behaviour or even ferry jumping. So what image does this give our youth, our rising rugby talent on how to behave? Of course they may see the negative headlines and understand that they need to act differently, however they likelihood is, is that they are seeing their idols act, for lack of a better word, unfavourably.

It is not just rugby that gets a bad rap. Every year Andy Murray gets berated for his lacklustre performance in Wimbledon. Dwayne Chambers’ drug use was given a two-page spread in one newspaper. And of course, the antics of footballers such as John Terry, Wayne Rooney or Joey Barton, to name a few, leave a lot to be desired.

A point that has been made before; but it seems that sports stars deem themselves above the law. Ever since George Best’s first demand of a pay rise, it has become apparent that athletes can attempt to go and do as they please, without facing too many of the consequences. And is that our fault? Have we, as a media-based nation, given these people, and they are just people, the right to abuse the stature they hold? Of course we furrow a brow when there is misconduct. We tut our way to work, complaining about the money people make for doing something we’ve seen done ten times better for ten times less, and we make our opinions heard to the unlucky soul closest to us.  However, the next week, that animosity will have changed, as we applaud their conduct in doing something we desire.

Perhaps it is the case with any public figure. Politics has shown in the past that it can hold the same rollercoaster of opinions, based on decisions made. However, the difference being that with politics, business or even most other media front-runners, the consequences will be a lot more dire for them, if they were to do something half as bad as someone in the athetic world.

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Wine of the Month – October

October has been something of a mixed month so far with a late Indian summer to kick things off, some distinctly wintry temperatures a few days later, and a bit of mist and mellow fruitfulness in between.

However, one thing remains constant and that is the need for bigger, warming wines to go with some appropriately seasonal food.

All the wines this month come from the warmer parts of classic wine countries and have a greater degree of ripeness and up-front fruit as a result.

In general, we are looking at grape varieties that score highly in terms of personality rather than for classical restraint and good food matches will be something appropriately full of spicy, herby flavours, such as good butcher’s sausages, spiced game, meaty stews and roasted mediterranean vegetables.

Concertino Corbières 2008 £8.99 Cambridge Wine Merchants

 Made from an unoaked blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre, there is smokey prune fruit and eucalyptus on the nose.

On the palate, there is juicy, dark berry fruit with some gentle grip on the finish. 

Vedilhan Syrah Viognier Languedoc 2009 £8.49 Bacchanalia

 This mix of northern Rhone gapes shows dense cassis with liquorice and vanilla spice on the nose.

 The palate is soft and full with a touch of peachiness from the Viognier. The acidity feels rounded and mouthfilling with some vanilla sweetness on the mid-palate.

 Masseria Pietrosa Salice Salentino 2010 Noel Young Wines, £9.25

 From the “heel” of Italy and made from the big Negroamaro grape which is native to the region, this is the most crowd-pleasing wine straight out of the bottle.

 The nose is full of ripe elderberry fruit whilst the palate is rich and warming with sweet fruit and hints of cooked Christmas spices, balanced with good acidity and ripe tannins.

 On the finish, there is just enough grip to let you know this a food wine.

 With such unpredictable weather and temperatures this month, it is hard to make a recommendations based on seasonality – on a warmer day the juciness of the Corbières might suit, whilst the warming fruit and spice of the Salice Salentino will keep any wintry damp and chill away.

However, for me, the most enjoyable wine here is the Veldihan Syrah Viognier for its complexity and soft, peachy texture.


 Bacchanalia –

Cambridge Wine Merchants –

Noel Young Wines – 

Main image credit –

Copyright Tom Lewis 2011

CitySocialising Cambridge Events: 17-24 October 2011

City Connect supports the Cambridge events held by CitySocialising Cambridge where you can meet new people, enjoy socialising at events in Cambridge and increase your social circle. We are proud to promote these Cambridge events to our City Connect readers making them accessible to all. If you are interested in the following Cambridge events, either leave a comment below or go to the CitySocialising website. If you have any suggestions for other Cambridge events for us to promote, please contact us directly.

City Connect highlights the following CitySocialising Cambridge events happening this week. For more information and to RSVP online visit CitySocialising and sign up for free.

New Members Night
Date: Wednesday 19th October
Time: 7pm
Event Description: Come along to meet new and existing CitySocialising members, mingle over drinks and enjoy a fun evening hosted by Cuty Connect’s Alan Philippe. This is the perfect event for those you haven’t been to a Social yet, those who want to make friends with new people and those who want a taste of the best new way to socialise in Cambridge. Meeting new people can be a bit nerve-wracking but once you’ve attended a Social, as any host or regular will tell you, it becomes second nature! Alan Philippe will be on hand during the evening to welcome you, introduce you to other CitySocialisers and answer any questions you might have about CitySocialsing Cambridge, but really it’s just a great opportunity to dive straight in and start mixing with new people! We’re sure that by the end of the night you’ll find that CitySocialising members are as laid-back, chatty, friendly and as sociable as people say they are.

Bijoumiyo Live – Freestyle Funk and Soul
Date: Thursday 20th October
Time: 9pm
Event Description: With 500+ international performances across UK, Europe and the Middle-East, Bijoumiyo’s five-piece funk/soul/rock jam-band are one of the most successful music acts to come out of Cambridge in recent times and always know how to get the place moving the way it should. They are influenced by a range of renowned artists from James Brown, Santana, Funkadelic, Herbie Hancock and many more. Attendees to this Cambridge event will be meeting up at a central Cambridge bar, just around the corner from the music venue to have a few drinks before heading to enjoy a night of funk and soul, performed live! The gig starts at 10pm, giving plenty time to mingle with other CitySocialisers!



Images reproduced from


Moscow State Circus on Midsummer Common

The Moscow State Circus performance is an adaptation of the Russian novel, ‘Twelve Chairs’, first published in 1928 and written by IIf and Petrov. This satirical novel tells the tale of a family caught in a new soviet regime, which stripped the ruling classes of property and possessions. Like many who remained in Russia, they had to do what ever they could to protect what they owned. The main character, a desk clerk and former member of nobility, is told by his mother- in- law on her deathbed, that the family’s jewelry has been hidden in one of the twelve chairs from the dining room set. He then goes on a quest to find the chair containing the lost treasure, only to discover that the chairs have been split up and sold individually.

Circus Acrobats

When you think of the circus you may not necessarily think of a classic Russian novel, unfortunately in this case it was completely lost on the audience. The amount of confused looking young children was easy to spot in the half empty stalls, playing with aluminous swords and other distracting souvenirs.

It seemed the tale of the twelve chairs was an afterthought, an easy way to try and amuse the audience in between setting up the main acts, using clowns as the main characters from the novel. This was a little disappointing, until a few mystified members of the audience were summoned from the front row into the main ring, the look on their faces whilst trying to play ridiculous home made musical instruments had everyone laughing. This embarrassment was especially noticeable for one poor woman as she bounced her bottom up and down on a squeaking horn.

Audience Participation

Nevertheless after a confusing start, and putting the loosely followed story line aside, the main acts were truly amazing, displaying strength, agility and coordination that would have impressed the Russian Olympic gymnast team.

This two hour energetic evening included, a trio juggling clubs to pin point accuracy, whilst spinning around the ring at speed on a very cleverly built platform. The concentration the three wore on their faces was very noticeable, not only did they have to throw their clubs at a precise speed and distance, but also to an empty space where their partner will arrive a few seconds later. Also a young girl performing the splits from the heads of two male tight ropewalkers, over nine meters from the ground. An arial hula-hoop act that was also suspended high above the circus ring, and many more bewildering gymnastics.

Tightrope Performers

The show seemed to get better and better as the night went on, exploding into the final act, where eight jesters showed off their acrobatic skill, flipping and somersaulting over each other. The costumes were bright and inventive, adding to the creativity of the performance.

It wasn’t only the acts that were impressive, but also the way the show was put together. A large applause must go out to the staff behind the scenes. When the Moscow State Circus turns up on Midsummer Common its like watching a small village arrive. The hard work that goes into putting the shows together is undeniable. The last show ended at 7.00pm on Sunday 9th October, by Monday lunchtime it was as if the circus had never been there.

World Mental Health Day 2011

City Connect proudly supports World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2011 which raises public awareness about mental health issues. The day promotes open discussion of mental disorders, and investments in prevention, promotion and treatment services. The World Health Organisation created World Mental Health Day in 1992 – it has been a yearly event since then and is celebrated globally.

It’s thought that one in four people are likely to experience a mental health problem every year so it’s likely that you or someone you know will be affected by mental health problems during your lifetime. Therefore it is critical to raise awareness and promote good mental health for the benefit of all members of society.

Charitable organisations such as MIND and RETHINK campaign vigorously to educate people about mental health issues and work to create a society where those who suffer from mental health problems are treated fairly, positively and with respect. In addition, the groundbreaking Time to Change coalition campaigns to reduce the stigma and discrimination faced by people with experience of mental distress.

To find out more about these charities and how to support them, please check out their websites. Below is the Time to Change interactive YouTube advert that looks at what’s the worst thing that could happen when you talk about mental health.

The Five Steps to Well-being give guidelines on ways to improve your mental health. Each step relates to very practical things that everyone can do to improve their mood and feel significant and connected to the people in their lives and world they live in. Listed below are the five steps with suggestions on how to put each one into practice.


1. Connect
Make connections with the people around you; with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours.  These are the cornerstones of your life so invest time in them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.

2. Be active
Go for a walk or run, step outside, cycle, play a game, do gardening, dance or just get moving. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.

3. Take notice
Be curious. Catch sight of beautiful things. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.

4. Keep learning
Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that new course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well being fun.

5. Give
Do something nice for a friend or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, as linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.

I hope these examples give you some practical suggestions to try out. Enjoy finding out which ones work best for you in your journey to improving your well-being.

Do you have any examples to share about the things you do to improve your well-being? Please leave your comments below.

Video reproduced from YouTube / ttcnow2008
Image reproduced from

CitySocialising Cambridge Events: 10-16 October 2011

City Connect supports the Cambridge events held by CitySocialising Cambridge where you can meet new people, enjoy socialising at events in Cambridge and increase your social circle. We are proud to promote these Cambridge events to our City Connect readers making them accessible to all. If you are interested in the following Cambridge events, either leave a comment below or go to the CitySocialising website. If you have any suggestions for other Cambridge events for us to promote, please contact us directly.

City Connect highlights the following CitySocialising Cambridge events happening this week. For more information and to RSVP online visit CitySocialising and sign up for free.

Tyrannosaur at the Arts Picturehouse
Date: Tuesday 11th October
Time: 4pm
Event Description: “A great deal more than a misery memoir on film, this character study is as gripping as any hardboiled thriller, delivering emotional content that’ll stay with you for a long time. Highly recommended.” ~ Empire Magazine Film of the Week

Midweek Meal Out
Date: Tuesday 11th October
Time: 7.30pm
Event Description: Enjoy a delightful dinner at a central Cambridge restaurant which has recently opened with a charming ambience and delicious food.

Midweek Drinks
Date: Thursday 13th October
Time: 7.30pm
Event Description: Come and chill out at a friendly central Cambridge pub for some midweek drinks and socialising.

Social Triathlon – Part 1: Brunch
Date: Saturday 15th October
Time: 11am
Event Description: Indulge in the opulent splendour of Browns for a full English, Veggie Brekkie, Bacon Butty, Croissant or whatever takes your fancy. Or really go to town and splash out on a Champagne Breakfast.

Social Triathlon – Part 2: Cambridge RFC Vs Fylde
Date: Saturday 15th October
Time: 3pm
Event Description: Come and enjoy some quality rugby at National League Division One’s Cambridge Rugby Club or just come to lust after some seriously athletic men – whichever tickles your fancy. Check out the Rugby Club at Match tickets cost £15.

Social Triathlon – Part 3: 5th Cambridge Oktoberfest
Date: Saturday 15th October
Time: 5.30pm
Event Description: CAMRA members get free admission, otherwise £2.50 gets you into to a paradise of cheap beer, genuine German Oktoberfest lagers, ales and ciders. Good food also available.

Sushi Saturday
Date: Saturday 15th October
Time: 7.30pm
Event Description: Enjoy a friendly dinner hosted by City Connect’s Alan Philippe at Cambridge’s favourite Japanese restaurant for a celebration of sushi (or cooked food if you prefer!). Sushi Saturday is a chance to meet up with like-minded people who enjoy oriental cuisine and want to start off their weekend with a whack of wasabi!

If you like these Cambridge events as promoted by City Connect Events, you are only a few clicks away from being able to attend other CitySocialising events and meet new people. Please click the image below for further information.

Create an account

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!

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19th October – Irish Pub Drinks & Live Music – London

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: Irish Pub Drinks & Live Music

Date: Wednesday 19th October

Event Description:

Craic: “a term for fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation, particularly prominent in Ireland”. This Wednesday night come along as we head to a famous Irish beer-house to do just that! We’ll have an area reserved for us, where a host will be waiting to welcome you when you arrive and settle you in to the Social. We’ll be meeting up in a warm, welcoming and popular Irish pub near Leicester Square for a few drinks and plenty of laid back conversation with a great crowd! Live music from 9pm.

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

Image reproduced from


Fitzbillies, Punting and a Perfect Day Out In Cambridge

Cambridge is not a big city – in fact it’s more of a market town with a big university. 

Actually, it’s probably more correct to say that it’s a market town attached to a university, since the “gowns” own most of the “town” and have much of the best of the city as their college grounds either side of the Cam. This central section of river with college courtyards, dons’ gardens, open spaces and grazing cattle is collectively known as the backs and is perhaps the best part of a city that you can easily walk round in under a day.

In volume terms, there are not all that many sights in Cambridge and not a huge variety – it’s just that those we do have are absolutely world class.

It’s easy to get complacent about living in Cambridge and treat the various colleges (31 if you’re counting) as just so many museum pieces along with the odd church, chapel and a castle that is little more than a mound of earth but gives spectacular views over the city skyline.

So occasionally, when the sun shines, as it has finally done recently, it’s nice to remind oneself that we are living in a unique and very beautiful place. 

And so it was that at the weekend we packed a picnic and took the short walk into town to Scudamore’s to take a punt up and down the river along the backs – which is pretty much the only way to see them properly as all the colleges criss-cross the river and it is impossible actually to walk along this stretch of the river. 

I was first taken punting over two decades ago when visiting a friend studying for a Masters here – I had a go and made a complete hash of it and it was only years later that I learnt the golden rule of punting – use the pole to steer the boat. 

The second thing to know is that the front of the punt turns in the opposite direction to the pole and once you know this, it is a relatively easy and relaxing way to get about – albeit not a quick one as speeds of around 1 mile per hour are pretty normal, if not quite good.

It’s certainly a lot more idyllic than the challenge of racing yachts which I did for the first time recently.

Our trip up and down the backs done in just under an hour, we found a spot by the river to watch other people exerting themselves on the longer run to Grantchester and had a picnic lunch. At this point, I wish I could drop in a review of a perfect picnic wine, but the reality is that with two small children to entertain, there was no scope for a bottle of something pink and fizzy followed by a snooze. However, anyone looking for a picnic wine review can find a couple, here and here.

Instead, we took the couple of minutes’ walk to the city’s largest play park at Lammas Land where swings were pushed, roundabouts whirled and general encouragement given.

Instead of the usual ice-creams afterwards, we decided to head to the newly re-opened Fitzbillies to check it out.

I first became aware of Fitzbillies and their famous Chelsea buns many years ago when travelling on business to eastern Europe and I mentioned my home town to an expat there.

“Cambridge,” she said. “Have you tried Fitzbillies’ Chelsea buns ?”. At this point I confessed that although I knew of the shop, I had not tried their buns and vowed to go there as soon as I got back to the UK. 

Heavy, sticky and syrupy, Fitzbillies’ Chelsea buns were legendary and rather delicious in a very rich and satisfying sort of way.

Sadly, somehow or other, the company went out of business a year or so ago, but was bought and recently re-opened by Old Persean Alison Wright.

I know some of this because my daughter is in the same class at school as Alison’s and when we walked in, she said “Look Daddy, there’s her Mum”.

We made our introductions and I explained about my blog and the various other local publications I write for and suggested that perhaps we might do a story on the renaissance of a legend.

Alison agreed and explained that the focus now is much more on the lunchtime food with the cake shop as an add-odd rather than it being primarily a cake shop.

And as our daughters were in the same classes, she very kindly suggested that the children should take a cake each of their own choosing with something for at adults as well.

Number one child picked a cupcake with pink icing and an iced flower on top whilst number two child decided he would like a cream meringue and I selected some mini Florentines.

At home, we sat out in the back garden with coffees and juices and divided up the cakes between ourselves.

All proved to be wonderful – fresh and beautifully cooked from good-quality ingredients.

The cup cake was light and delicious, with the icing not too sweet, the meringue was crisp with rich, thick whipped cream whilst the Florentines were an indulgently chewy, sticky and chocolatey.

One of the things I like about central Cambridge, other than the wonderful architecture, is that we do not have rows and rows of soulless high-street chain shops.

Yes, all the usual suspects are here but the city has preserved its mediaeval street layout and small buildings so that shop sizes are generally small with a decreasing but still large number of independents.

So it is good to have Fitzbillies back as a Cambridge institution – and it’s good to be able to report that the cakes are at least as good as they ever were.

I’d also like to think that it says something about the quality of the schools in the area that it was an Old Persean who not only saw the opportunity and had the vision and tenacity to resurrect, Phoenix-like, a local independent, but also made sure that it was done properly with high standards.

I have previously noted that we are very lucky in Cambridge to have three excellent independent wine merchants. 

The same is true of Fitzbillies and the city would have been all the poorer without it, had it not been brought back to life.


Fitzbillies – no new website yet.
52 Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1RG, UK
Telephone: +44 (0)1223 352500
Opening Days: Mon – Sat (12:00 – 14:30 18:00 – 21:30), Sun (12:00 – 15:00 18:00 – 21:30)

 Scudamore’s Punts –

 Main image credit –
Chelsea Bun image –

 Copyright Tom Lewis 2011

Affordable Celebrity Fall Fashions

Clara Freeman, City Connect’s American correspondent, turns her eye from Entertainment to take a look at what the fashion world is offering Stateside this season. Whether you call it Autumn or “Fall”, get ready for some hot fashion tips from Clara…

Okay, I’m sure everyone who’s anyone made an appearance at many of the September Fashion catwalks extending along the street haunts of New York City to the cobblestone sidewalks of the Paris elite where designers got to show off their best models adorned in Spring fashion. A memorable fashion frenzy of glitz, glamour and glam!

But, what’s in store for frugal fashionistas this Fall?

Fall became official on Sept 22nd. Already, consumers are being bombarded with answers to what’s appropriate and what’s not when purchasing clothes for Fall. Fashion is a big deal worldwide and if you’re not a celebrity fashionista, come join my pity-party, because neither am I. You can start by scouring the numerous fashion magazines to find the latest fashion styles and compare prices. Some of my favorites include the fashionable Vogue, InStyle Magazine, Essence Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar.

But, that doesn’t mean we cannot live vicariously through celebritydom and at affordable prices to boot. If you follow fashion trends, you’ll know that many famous designer labels and big name Hollywood celebrities have their clothing placed with discount retailers where regular shoppers can get to feel like a celebrity, at less than half the price of a celebrity cost. Some of the designer labels include the following:

Missoni for Target – whose designs cost an entire website to crash during fashion week!

The Kardashian Dash Collections at Sears – can’t seem to get enough of those Kardashians.

Jennifer Lopez and estranged husband Mark Anthony recently unveiled individual clothing lines at Khols Department Stores.

Calvin Klein at Marshalls.

Isaac Mizrahi also at Target.

Jaclyn Smith offers age appropriate designs at Kmart and if you have a fetish for fab and affordable shoes, there’s Christian Siviano shoes and accessories at Payless Shoe Stores. The young designer has made a name for himself in celebrity fashion since winning Bravo’s Project Runway Fashion Design Competition during the show’s first season.

Now that you have an idea where to look for celebrity fall fashions that won’t empty your pockets, how about a few tips on what’s hot for fall and what’s not?

The look for fall includes everything from Polka Dot, Pastel, Navajo, Suede and leather, to peep toe booties. Some style mavens give a thumbs up to wearing summer pieces straight into Fall.

The emphasis is on creativity, pairing and knowing it’s ok to break traditional convention when it comes to wearing after season clothing. Some clothes given the green light to wear into Fall include:

  • Maxi dresses paired with chunky knit and belted at the waist.
  • Capri pants (fitted to the leg) worn with tall boots.
  • White trousers fitted with cashmere sweater and colorful elongated scarves.
  • White blazer paired with tweed fabric, printed blouse, or, leopard pants.

According to the fashion experts, the “it” top for Fall that every fashionista must have is the Turtleneck.

A true lover of gorgeous and age appropriate fashion, my motto continues to be: Have fun, think affordable, dress for comfort and look and feel like a billion bucks…

Real Dracula at Cambridge’s ADC Theatre

“There, in one of the great boxes, of which there were fifty in all, on a pile of newly dug earth, lay the Count! He was either dead or asleep, I could not say which – for the eyes were open and stony, but without the glassiness of death – and the cheeks had the warmth of life through all their pallor, and the lips were as red as ever.”

This extract, from Jonathon Harkers journal in Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, conjures up the most iconic image of this sinister character. Without a doubt he is one of the most famous of all the legendary horror figures.

The book was first published in 1897, and is a story told through journals and fragments of letters, that recounts the struggle of a group of men and woman (Dr Seward, Dr Van Helsing, Jonathon Harker and his wife Mina), to destroy a vampire who’s earth filled coffins are found in a ruined chapel next to a mental asylum. For today’s standards this may not sound that bad, in 1897 this would have been a pretty terrifying read, not to mention some of the underlying themes that would have appalled certain prudish Victorians, such as female sexual repression and incest.

Bram Stoker brought his character to life after reading about a Prince of Romania, the ruthless warlord better known as Vlad Dracula or Vlad the Impaler.

This barbaric leader, who reigned in the 1400’s, and favorite method of torture was impaling his enemies, completely inspired Stoker to create this monster. The life of Vlad the Impaler was far more bloodcurdling than the fictional creation. Now a days Dracula and Vampires have been turned into a brand, being used in popular culture time and time again, comic strips, cartoons, computer games, over 170 films and more recently inspiring the Twilight saga, the list is endless.

In 2004 just south of Transylvania, Romanian police were called to a graveyard to investigate a violation to one of the graves. Later six people were arrested; it was believed that a family, who thought their Uncle had returned from the dead as a vampire, was visiting his niece when she was asleep and feeding on her heart. They had broken into the graveyard, dug up the corpse, cut out his heart and burnt it on the stroke of midnight. Police then discovered about twenty other similar rituals had taken place over the last few years. This is the power of literature crossed with folklore and history.

It was this true story that inspired this Pleasant Danger Productions creation ‘Real Dracula’, directed by Paul Holloway and written/produced by David Geasor. It was showing at the ADC theatre in Cambridge from 20th – 24th September, also on 30th September and 1st October.

Real Dracula is a story of love and survival set in a remote Romania village. The two main characters, an Englishman Jonathon, and Ileana (played by Andrew McKeane and Mia Keadell) are a young couple that met whilst teaching at a school in the city of Bucharest. Together they travel back to Ileana’s family home to attend her Uncle’s funeral. After the funeral, strange things start to happen and Ileana falls mysteriously ill. Both these actors give a performance to remember as their characters love develops on stage. Andrew McKeane’s small slip up of one of his lines, in a crucial point in the performance strangely made the scene more realistic and added to Jonathon’s terror. As Ileana becomes frailer and dreams more frequent, you found it hard not to be on the edge of your seat, as Jonathon is desperately trying to come to terms with the problems they are facing.

The first scene is set with Ileana’s beloved Uncle lying in an open coffin in the sitting room. Here we are introduced to her frail and emotional Auntie Magda (played by Priscilla Gray), you could not help but feel sorry for the widow, as Priscilla convincingly takes her character on a roll a coaster of melancholy and despair as she grieves her loss, and a strange family friend Dragana (played by Andrea Miller). Who’s mysterious air in which she presents the character on stage was exceptional; it was obvious she added her own personality to Dragana, and on a number of occasions she pleased the audience with a very dry sense of humor.

Alexandru is Ileana’s jealous childhood friend and want to be lover (played by Oliver Tilney, who has had nightmares of vampires since the audition) keeps reminding the audience of his macho status, he’s a very crafty character and has a huge presents on stage.

The faceless Uncle who appears in Ileana’s dreams was the star of the show, thanks to the technical director Mathew Maude, who mixes up a combination of well-timed atmospheric music and sound effects, with a drab and dark set design. This seemed to seize a perfect ambience for a chilling tale.

It is very difficult to portray horror convincingly on stage; Pleasant Danger Productions seem to do it effortlessly. Pity and terror are aroused continuously throughout the play and there is always a sense of something horrible about to happen. I await the next Pleasant Danger Production with baited breath.

Wines That Improve With Some Air

I have written a couple of times already about the effect of air on wine (here and here).

In the simplest terms, a wine will generally open up and improve with a bit of air, but too much exposure to air will eventually spoil it.

Getting the right amount of exposure of the wine to air is more a case of trial and error than of there being any hard and fast rules.

I often take a couple of days to finish a bottle of wine – if we don’t finish it all off one evening or if it’s something I’m reviewing and I want to see how it develops.

From my unscientific observations, it seems that full-bodied wines with lower alcohol contents, and for reds plenty of tannins, seem to be able to take more air than riper, more fruit-driven wines with an extra few degrees of alcohol.

This is about as much guidance as I can give on the subject and I should also add I’ve found plenty of exceptions to this rule-of-thumb, too – such as 14% wines from the Rhone or the Wachau which don’t reach a peak until they’ve had a couple of days’ airing in an opened and resealed bottle.

However, a friend emailed me the other day with a related question; he explained that he and his wife were until recently in the habit of sharing a mid-week bottle of wine, but as she is now pregnant, he finds a full bottle a bit too much if he has work the next day.

However, saving it until the following evening doesn’t seem to work either as by then the wine has faded.

Did I have any suggestions ?

Options I considered and rejected were:

– only buy half bottles (too limiting)
– change to beer (just not a long-term option)
– cocktails (ditto, and too fiddly anyway)

Instead, I suggested he buy wines that will improve with a bit of air and then they will actually be better on the second day.

It turns out that he buys a lot of his wines from the Sunday Times Wine Club (supplied by Laithwaites) and Naked Wines.

Of the two, I am more impressed by Naked (read what I think of Laithwaites here), but in both cases the wines generally tend to impress straight out of the bottle rather than improving significantly with extended airing.

However, I thought back to the wines that I have found most improved with a decent amount of air and that are priced at a similar level to Naked and Laithwaites and came up with a list of four priced around £8-£10 from Cambridge Wine Merchants, as their wines often seem to improve significantly with some air.

I then emailed Hal Wilson at CWM to ask if he could recommend two more wines to make up a half case and the result is my suggested mixed half-case of wines that you do not need to drink all in one go as they will actually improve with some air and be better on the second day.

To get the most out of them on the first day, I suggest using a decanter and plenty of vigorous swirling in a large glass.

Collines De Laure – an autumnal, inky, northern Rhone Syrah (reviewed here)
Rousseau de Sipian – a wonderfully textured Bordeaux (reviewed here)
Dom Sarabande 2009 Faugeres

Domanie de la Rablais – a classic minerally Loire (reviewed here)
Alpha Zeta Garganega – a mouthfilling and crisp Italian (reviewed here)
Chablis 2009 Jean Marc Brocard

Cambridge Wine Merchants are based not just in Cambridge, but also Royston, Amphill and Edinburgh; they also deliver nationally.

Cambridge Wine Merchants –

Image credit:

Copyright Tom Lewis 2011

Festival of Ideas

The Festival of Ideas, the UK’s only arts, humanities and social sciences festival, occurs throughout Cambridge during 19-30th October. There are more than 160 free events for all ages, which last year attracted over 9,000 visitors.

World-class speakers, celebrity writers and leading academics will be on hand to engage, explain and examine today’s burning issues – and looking at what lessons we can learn from the past.

As the population imminently approaches the seven billion mark, we ask leading academics to debate whether the Earth can sustain this many people.

Meanwhile, whistleblowers, computer security researchers and policymakers will discuss whether the Internet should be censored in light of the Wikileaks revelations;  and experts will debate the consequences of the uprisings, protests and civil wars in the Arab world.

Organiser Sophie Smith said: “The purpose of the festival is to examine the biggest questions facing us today and not shy away from contentious issues. That is why we’re holding debates on everything from the right to have reproductive freedom in light of an ever-increasing world population, to Mau Mau torture claims, to the Arab Spring.”

The main day of the festival, on Saturday, October 22, is bursting with free events for the whole family to enjoy. There will be talks by world-famous children’s authors Marcus Sedgwick and zombie-loving Charlie Higson; debates by pioneering academics and dozens of hands-on activities for adults as well as children.

Popcorn comedy for kids sees Holly Walsh and CBBC’s Ed Petrie present some of the funniest videos online mixed with stand-up comedy for all the family.

Also on October 22, Dr Michael Scott will explore Delphi and Olympia; and the fate of the English language will be questioned by Dr Andrew Dalby and Dr Stephen Pax. Leonard, just returned from a year spent recording the language of the Inughuit people of north-west Greenland, the northernmost settled population in the world.

Further details for all of the events can be found on the Cambridge Festival of Ideas website ( You can also find us on Facebook ( and Twitter (!/camideasfest).

The d’Arry’s Cambridge Case

Cambridge cook house and wine shop d’Arry’s is set to launch a “d’Arry’s Cambridge case” of d’Arenberg wines. The gastropub which first set up in Cambridge in 2006 is to start selling a mixed case of some of its most popular d’Arenberg wines via its website, priced at £60 – a discount of 50% on the restaurant price.

Manager of d’Arry’s Cambridge, James Storey said “The idea behind the d’Arry’s Cambridge case is two-fold – to introduce those who have not yet tried d’Arenberg to the wines and also to enable our existing d’Arry’s customers to buy our range of d’Arenberg wines to drink at home.”
The mixed case features six of the most popular d’Arenberg wines, but is also available in all-red or all-white versions. The wines are:

White Wines
The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne
The Stump Jump White Blend
The Stump Jump Lightly Wooded Chardonnay

Red Wines
The High Trellis Cabernet Sauvignon
The Stump Jump Red Blend
d’Arry’s Original Shiraz Grenache

D’Arenberg, established in Australia’s McLaren Vale in 1912, has become famous for being strikingly individual, turning individuality into an art form; their wines are made with minimal irrigation, gentle basket presses and foot pressing for the reds.
The d’Arenberg philosophy is to be deadly serious about their wines right up to the moment they go into the bottle – but that everything afterwards should be about enjoyment.

Wine critic Robert Parker says of d’Arenberg: “This admirable portfolio, made by the multi-talented Chester Osborn includes brilliant quality at the top, very fine wines in the mid-range, and terrific values at the bottom.” Robert Parker Junior. The Wine Advocate, Oct 2004

To promote the launch of the d’Arry’s Cambridge case, d’Arry’s will be holding a series of informal tasting events in the restaurant’s private dining area on Monday nights during October and November. Tickets for the tastings are priced at £12:50 each with the cost refunded for anyone who buys a case on the evening and are available from d’Arry’s.
“The idea of the tastings is to stay true to the spirit of d’Arenberg”, says James. “We want people to come along for a fun evening, trying out some great wines which are all about enjoyment.”
Cambridge Wine Blogger and member of the Circle of Wine Writers, Tom Lewis, who will be presenting the tasting evenings, said “These d’Arenberg wines are just what the New World should be about at this level – lots of up-front fruit and delicious flavours that go really well with the kind of sophisticated but unpretentious food that d’Arry’s offers.”
The tasting events start on Monday October 10th; visit the d’Arry’s website or call 01223 505015 to book.

TNT Networks Cancels Nurse HawthoRNe

I really want to say “What’s that about?” after learning recently that one of the viewers favorite television shows is being cancelled! Nurse Hawthorne is getting the ax after 3 seasons of what I would perceive as good television-a virtual gossip mogul’s food for fodder. It was an exciting show with Jada Pinkett Smith at the helm as executive producer! One might want to argue that the medical drama wasn’t realistic in some characterizations like that of a nurse becoming CEO of a hospital, but as a seasoned nurse, I’d still give Nurse HawthoRNe a shot of praise for being one of the best in comparison to some of those other medical shows. In light of the media speculation in regards to the show’s leading stars, Jada Pinkett Smith and Marc Anthony alleged infidelities, there could have been behind the scene decisions on whether the show should continue. Whatever the reasons for pulling the show, It doesn’t set well with the expectations of viewers, like myself, who was looking forward to finding out who shot detective Renata in the season finale! Didn’t catch the final episode of Nurse HawthoRNe? Recap: If you didn’t catch the season finale of Nurse Hawthorne, I’m back to give you the 411! It’s a no brainer really that in the 3rd season of Nurse HawthoRNe, viewers would be left with a cliffhanger. Don’t all good television ends this way? Okay, so we get to the segment where Christina reluctantly signs those divorce papers Tom so hastily delivered to her doorstep. Christina, upon reflection, comes to the realization that she’s in love with two men. Her soon to be ex husband Tom Wakefield, and her new found love, detective Nick Renata Before leaving for some much needed heart mending and soul searching, Christina goes to the hospital to drop off divorce papers to Tom, wishes him well and departs. Next, she drops off a letter at the precinct addressed to detective Nick Renata where she questions his innocence in the murder of her assailant. Although she loves him, she’s decided to end their relationship. Camille drops her mom off at the airport and heads back to James Rivers Hospital where she severs her own relationship with young doctor Miles ( the married Miles) and meets up with Tom to talk about her starting college. Tom promises that no matter what happens with his marriage to Christina, he will always be there for Camille. Meanwhile, having boarded the plane, Christina gets a call from Nick informing her of his mother’s death. Christina hurriedly aborts her vacation plans to go be with Nick. She helps to organize funeral arrangements and coax the feuding Renata brothers into squashing burial disagreements- it’s what their mom would have wanted. Back at James Rivers, Tom has helped to save a friend’s life, questioned his haste in delivering divorce papers to his wife and heads home to Christina’s to apologize after seeing her at the hospital, following the funeral. Christina is greeted at the hospital by Kelly and thanks her for intercepting the letter meant for Nick. Kelly excitedly shows her own letter to Christina, having passed the scrub nurse certification. Christina tells Kelly she’s special. Christina becomes CEO of James Rivers Hospital. Tom makes head surgeon. Bobbie keeps Christina’s old job and get funding for the Cancer treatment center. Morrissey becomes spiritually grounded and the 3rd season of Nurse HawthoRNe ends with a bang-literally. THE CLIFFHANGER: Tom drives up to the house he once shared with Christina. He rings the doorbell and Christina answers, wearing one of Tom’s old shirts. Tom relates the harrowing events of the day and his “aha” moment. She sits on the edge of a chair and listens. Tom haltingly and emotionally tells Christina how much he truly loved her and how sorry he was that he wasn’t there when she needed him to be on the night of her attack. He hoped they could someday get past the “stuff’ and become close again. Christina cries… the two hug… Truly a scene for the hankie! As Tom leaves the house, he encounters a weary and beat looking detective Nick Renata on his way to visit Christina. The men give a long stare in passing. Admittedly, Nick looked more menacing. Tom is seen sitting behind the wheel of his car. Nick knocks and Christina goes to answer the door. He comes in and tells her to sit down. She’s taken aback by his appearance ,but, tries to stay calm. She tells Nick about the visit from a friend and fellow officer earlier at the hospital. The officer said Nick had been missing for 4 days… She asks if he’d been drinking. Nick sits across from Christina. He tells her that he read her letter and takes out a gun. Christina is clearly shaken. Nick asks if she’s afraid of him. She’s about to say she loves him, but, Nick interrupts by placing the gun next to his heart…”You and me Christina.” He caresses his chest with the gun. “You and me.” Nick abruptly leaves. Before Christina can sit down again, she hears a gun shot. Racing outside, she glimpses a car speeding off and Nick fatally shot at the wheel of his car. Screaming for help, Christina pulls detective Renalta from the car, clutches him in her arms and continues to scream for help! Who shot detective Nick Renata? Sadly, It seems we’ll never know. Thanks TNT!

22 Years of Music at Audley End House

Warm summer evenings gently cease, then autumn shows her face expertly painting the landscape into a patchwork of colour, but then it seems she is always too eager to welcome the shorter days and longer nights of winter. Nevertheless during the colder months reminiscing about warm evenings of July and August is something we all have in common.

I love to listen to music, with friends and family sitting on a blanket with good food and a bottle of something special. No place is better to do this than on a weekend at Audley End House near Saffron Walden, Essex when there’s a concert in full flow.

This idyllic Jacobean stately home does have many other events on during its opening months, showing off its extremely well maintained gardens and fine collections of English art and tapestries, but if a typical day out with English heritage isn’t enough for you, then there’s no better way to enjoy the views of this picturesque mansion than experiencing the summer concerts.

Over the last 22 years, music at Audley End House has changed a lot.

Before the open air concerts, playing popular genres of today, music at the house was limited, but could be heard inside its Great Hall, or marquees in the grounds. Classical music was usually played to a smaller, formal audience who could buy a cheaper ticket.

On July 22 and 23 1989, a Glyndebourne – style evening of formal dress and Mozart was played, by the Chillingrian Quartet. This night was named ‘The best of Austrian music’. During the interval, guests had the opportunity for a picnic outside on the lawns with a marquee on standby for bad weather.

Other entertainment at the house in this month was a two – day presentation of theatre, music and dance by a traveling theatre company called Miracle Theatre. They put on an Elizabethan weekend and instruments like the lute were played accompanied by a mezzo soprano, singing some of the top 10 hits of 1589.

On July 20th 1990, a special event known as the ‘beating retreat’ took place where 4 military regiment bands of 150 musicians performed in aid of the Army Benevolent Fund. They were the 2nd King Edwards VII’s own Gurka’s rifles, the 9th / 12th Royal Lancers, the 3rd Battalion of Royal Anglican Regiment and the Royal Highland Fusiliers. The beating retreat has its origins back in the 17th century when soldiers would gather in their regiments to ‘stand easy’ after a day’s battle and listen to the regimental bands play.

The ticket price was £5 per car and only £1 for pedestrians, 9,000 people were estimated to have turned up.

During the next few years’ music at Audley End House was very similar and hadn’t changed from historical, classical or the odd evening of jazz, but in 1994 the genre of music changed. In this year, a stage went up on the lawns behind the house for an evening of classical music, guests were encouraged to bring their own picnic food and drinks whilst enjoying the summer evening with friends and family, listening to Handel’s Water Music, Albinoni’s Adagio and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto in G major, finishing with fireworks, which now happens every year. Instead of the stage being taken down after the show finished and reassembled for the next night of music, the stage stayed where it was for a Chris de Burgh concert three weeks later.

Chris de Burgh had just released a new album ‘This way is up’ and chose Audley End for his venue to hit off his 70 – date European tour, which was his first for over 2 years. Fireworks finished this extremely successful evening. 8,000 people attended each paying £10.50 – £14.00. Many local people thought the change in music genre wasn’t the right decision as it would encourage a different sort of crowd to the concerts, causing problems in noise and traffic congestion because of an increase in ticket sales.

A local resident in Audley End village which is directly impacted by the concerts believes the weekend of music not to be a problem despite the traffic congestion. The local resident Said ‘It’s only a few weekends a year, and if I don’t like the music I don’t mind sticking my ipod in’.

10,000 people turned up each concert night for the next 2 years in 1995 – 1996 to watch Glen Millers band. Thousands again turned up the following night for the Last Night of the Proms, the National Symphony Orchestra played and soprano Sarah Poole was also there singing Rule Britannia, but a sizable number of the audience treated the whole event as a sociable occasion making far too much noise and not paying attention to the music, apparently ruining it for those who wanted to listen. This was a first for the Audley End concerts; in the past the evenings were always a lot calmer.

Up until the end of the 90s the concerts were organized by English heritage but IMG the events management company took it over, promising to keep the same style of evenings as before.

Since this company has been organising the concerts the demand and price for tickets has risen because of the popularity of the acts. Adult tickets are now £32.

In the last decade, audiences at Audley End have had the pleasure of listening to Tom Jones, Jools Holland, Music from the Movies, James Bond Night, Bjorn Again, The Rat Pack, Status Quo, Van Morrison, James Morrison, Jamie Cullum, Simple Minds, West Life, Bryan Ferry, Buena Vista Social Club, Gypsy Kings, Katherine Jenkins, Scouting for Girls, Will Young and many more, with the last night of the proms always finishing on the last weekend with a fantastic firework display.

The earlier years still had some very memorable moments. In 1996, Carolyn Grace flew her famous Grace Spitfire over the crowd whilst the National Symphony Orchestra played Walton’s ‘Spitfire Prelude’. In 1997 a nationwide appeal for strawberries was launched because of a low yield caused by heavy rainfall. Eventually 1 ton of the little English red fruit was found in nearby Hatfield Broad Oak Essex and delivered to guests for free. Britain ruled at an evening in 1999, when a sold-out night at the last night of the proms caused 10,000 people to sing along and wave Union Jacks to Rule Britannia and Jerusalem.

Every summer, the concerts have always been a huge success, entertaining a large variety of people - they never seem to disappoint.

Electronic music is probably a long way off and would defiantly challenge local residents further, but is there a possibility of another genre of music moving into the summer line-up?

Whatever happens let’s just hope they keep entertaining people in the years to come.