Hotel Du Vin & Bistro – Cambridge

City Connect’s wine critic Tom Lewis – the Cambridge Wine Blogger – shares his experience of a lunchtime visit to Hotel Du Vin & Bistro in Cambridge.

Central Cambridge is a beautiful place and a regular feature on the tourist circuit, but rather as a result of this, the quality of restaurants in the centre of town is not generally that great.

However, in recent years, the city has smartened its act up a little and with ever more London commuters living in and around the city, demand for decent restaurants has increased.

A few years ago, hoardings went up in front of a row of late-Victorian townhouses on Trumpington Street just opposite the Fitzwilliam Museum. What emerged shortly afterwards was Cambridge’s newest sophisticated bistro and luxury hotel, the Hotel Du Vin.

Hotel Du Vin is an upmarket chain of over a dozen hotels owned by the Massey Partnership which oddly claims to be a PR firm, albeit specialising in luxury travel and luxury goods. The Hotel Du Vin website talks of “quintessential British style. Elegant and unpretentious. Combine this with great spirit, wit, an unquestionable devotion to wine, and you have captured the essence of Hotel du Vin”.

I had popped in there a few months ago for a quick, informal business meeting with a contact after work and was very impressed by the quirky and sensitive use of space and the cosy, yet modern and unpretentious feel.

For this visit to the bistro, I was attracted by the homegrown and local menu on offer and wondered what seasonal east Anglian produce might be on offer in late autumn.

One of my principles of eating out is to try something different from what we might normally have at home and more or less as a result of this, our choices for all three courses were made for us. Eschewing the sausages (a staple of CWB dinners), we went for pork pie followed by pollock.

The pork pie was dense and meaty, with a satisfying pastry crust; it was served with garnished leaves and a delicious plum chutney with just the right amount of spice and a great balance between sweet and sharp.

The pollock came with chorizo and a gently spiced tomato sauce with again, a noticeable-but-restrained flavour of cumin, and sat on a small bed of wilted dark green leaves.

As it was lunchtime and we had two small and demanding children to get back home to, we limited ourselves to a couple of glasses of Manzanilla sherry; salty, dry and pungently yeasty, it was also superbly well-balanced with great length and depth of flavour.

When the dessert menu came round, we had already decided and ordered the sticky toffee pudding and chantilly cream without hesitation. Like the rest of the meal, it was simple yet full of delicious flavour and excellently made – the pudding light, just the right amount of rich toffee sauce not to be too cloying and the sweet chantilly cream balancing it all out perfectly.

And thinking back, that balance was the theme of the meal – nothing too flashy or obviously crowd-pleasing, but really well-cooked and well-balanced food kept simple yet sophisticated.

In a city like Cambridge with so much passing trade, it takes a certain degree of confidence, if not bravery, to serve food which impresses not with immediate flashiness but with quiet, understated confidence. As a Cambridge resident – and not a tourist - it’s a decision I appreciate.

A lunchtime meal for two from the Homegrown and Local menu with drinks, service and charitable donation cost £60. Click here to see a sample menu.

Hotel du Vin & Bistro Cambridge
15-19 Trumpington Street
Tel: 01223 227 330

Image reproduced from

Film Review: Love and Other Drugs

London Life Coach & Relationship Expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams reviews “Love And Other Drugs”. Follow Sloan Life Coach on Twitter @SloanSW_London and check out Sloan’s Life Coaching website

Love and Other Drugs came out on DVD today and, although had mixed reviews in the cinema, is what I would call a beautiful adult romance. Adorning our DVD shelves at the moment, love stories tend to be targeted at the teenage demographic so it was a pleasant surprise to find a story written in such an honest raw way depicting a complicated relationship where love is not always enough.

Released in late 2010, Love and Other Drugs has an amazing cast led by Jake Gyllenhaal who plays Jamie Randall, a womanising yet lovable rogue who works as a drug rep spreading his business and his person amongst hospitals over the country. His leading lady Anne Hathaway plays Maggie Murdock - a charming whimsical free spirit who sees right through Jamie. At the young age of 26, for reasons that will become evident throughout the film, she has dissociated herself from meaningful relationships and it is this very action that draws Jamie in to get beyond Maggie’s boundaries. This proves harder for Jamie than his normal conquests and leads to an interesting and moving drama.

Both Gyllenhaal and Hathaway perform well in Love and Other Drugs, repeating the successful performances of their past movie roles by providing strong acting and believeable characters which nicely complement the intriguing yet moving story. This was reflected in Golden Globe Award nominations in January 2011 for Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway as Best Actor and Best Actress respectively. In terms of the supporting cast, Gyllenhall and Hathaway are accompanied by Hank Azaria, who plays Maggie’s doctor; Oliver Platt, who plays Jamie’s business partner; and the likes of Josh Gad, Gabriel Macht and Judy Greer.

The screenplay was based on the non-fiction book “Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman” by Jamie Reidy. There is an attempt at a statement about the ethics of the pharmaceutical industry and it’s influence on doctors and patients alike and given that the movie is set between the years 1996 and 1999 (when Pfizer released Viagra) I can see why they attempted this approach. In my opinion, the greater aspect of the movie is the human interaction between Jamie and Maggie and the tonal shifts between happiness, tension, closeness, comedy, insight and confusion are all displayed expertly and never seem awkward.

The director and co-writer of this movie - Edward Zwick - is better known for his television work. He was involved behind both thirtySomething and Once and Again – both of which I personally enjoyed. His move to the big screen has paid off as he has brought the more adult relationship drama mixed with comedy to a wider audience.

All in all I would give this film four stars and for me Gyllenhaal and Hathaway had a good balance of flirtation, chemistry and passion to believe that they were a well-suited couple. It is the second time this pair has been brought together since Brokeback Mountain in 2005 and hopefully their performances, which show the breadth and depth of their abilities, will enable them to seek even great heights and adorn our screens again in even more moving dramas and/or romantic comedies.

Love and Other Drugs is out on DVD on Monday 23 May. For those of you who didn’t think it was worth seeing at the cinema I do urge you to rent it as it brings forth a lot of questions about how some things are worth fighting for and circumstances should not deter the passionate – be it about love or life in general.

Image reproduced from 20th Century Fox
Video reproduced from YouTube / TheTubeTrailers

The 38th Cambridge Beer Festival – 23 to 28 May

City Connect recommends the Cambridge Beer Festival for a good day out. The event supplies British beer, Foreign beers, ciders, perry, mead and wine (from our very own Cambridgeshire Chilford Hall)

CAMRA itself explains the history behind the event and provides more information below…

The Cambridge Beer Festival was first held in 1974. This festival is the branch’s largest and its main beer festival. During its long run, the festival has had several homes but since 2001 has been held on Jesus Green in late May. The festival is the United Kingdom’s longest running CAMRA beer festival and currently the second largest regional beer festival. The festival features a wide range of local and national beers of all styles, as well as cider, perry, mead, wine and bottled & draft beers from around the world. The festival is also famous for its CAMRA Cheese Counter, where a very wide range of fine cheeses, together with locally produced bread, pork pies, ham and other savoury items are available.

The Cambridge Beer Festival has been held on Jesus Green since 2001. Jesus Green lies just to the north of Cambridge city centre, in easy walking distance of the main bus station in Drummer Street, bus stops in Bridge Street and Chesterton Road and Victoria Avenue.

Beer is the centrepiece of the festival, and we have beers from around the British Isles, featuring over 230 beers from around 100 breweries. We’ve got beers from some of our oldest family brewers and our newest microbreweries for you to try and enjoy.

A lot of time and research has gone into choosing the beers for this year’s beer festival and it has been hard work at times but the dedicated beer ordering team have been sampling beer from up and down the country in order to bring you a range of the best beers on offer. We have a very dedicated cellar team, who will be working hard to ensure that the beer is well looked after.

Cambridge CAMRA Cheese Counter returns… Fine cheeses, breads, pork pies, scotch eggs, hams, smoked fish, olives and more. We will also be offering premium pork scratchings and plain crisps, which will be available from the cheese counter and from the bars. A selected range of snacks – pies, scotch eggs – will be available in carry out bags from the cheese counter after the main cheese counter closes, until the end of the session.

Monday the 23rd to Saturday the 28th May 2011

Opening Hours & Admission

  5:00pm — 10:30pm   £4.00
Tuesday — Friday
  12pm — 3:00pm   Free
  5pm — 10:30pm   £4.00
  12pm — 10:30pm   £2.50
We are pleased to offer free entrance to all CAMRA & CURAS members at all sessions upon producing a valid membership card.

John Cage at De La Warr Pavilion Until 5 June

Anybody who is familiar with the silent work 4’33” (4 minutes 33 seconds) will have some idea of the avant-garde style of John Cage.

I had heard of it but never listened, it’s just silence after all. But after visiting the De La Warr Pavilion, I found a performance on YouTube and discovered that there’s far more to John Cage than meets the eye.

Just like this exhibition at the De La Warr, look beneath the surface and you will begin to discover hidden depths of the man. As you walk into the main exhibition space you will find lesser known framed works in various media, pencil, etching, lithograph, aquatint etc; simple shapes and patterned abstracts.

It’s not until you sit and listen to the video documentaries that you begin to realise that the works, created through random but complex processes, point to a new translation of the world around us.

These are not works for those looking for energetic visual effects and quick sensationalism but if you have the time you will find art that deserves a deeper sense of thought and reflection.

A haunting, self-playing grand piano and works by a selection of artists inspired by Cage, appear throughout the building. Other events including live performances will be held throughout the season.

Image reproduced from International Review of Music
Video reproduced from YouTube / morbidcafe

The Big Book Comes to Cambridge

One of the world’s biggest books is coming to visit Cambridge University Library on May 19-21. It is a 2.2 metre high walk-in book entitled Imagine. It invites readers to enter and write their own individual answer to the question: “What do you imagine?”

The sculpture has been designed by artist Diana Bell (click here to visit her homepage) and will be displayed at the entrance of the University Library for three days. It was first displayed in Oxford last year and has since also been exhibited in London, where it was displayed in front of the British Library. The next stop-over will be in Bonn/ Germany early this summer (June 2nd-5th).

The book is aimed to represent the huge role books play in our society and to demonstrate how the individual can shape society with his/ her contribution. The book has collected comments from people in 57 different languages so far. Diana Bell said: “The reason the contributions are all handwritten is to emphasise the huge role individuality and imagination plays in our lives, and the empathy and interaction it allows us to have. I didn’t think contributing online would have the same impact, but all the contributions are scanned and placed on the Big Book website, so I am definitely embracing the digital age too!” The comments that have been written in the book can be found online on the website of the Big Book.

Diana Bell invites absolutely everyone to participate. For Cambridge in particular, she would like to see what scientists and mathematicians may think about the central question of the book. Are we the only being who has imagination? What are imaginary numbers? There are scientists in Cambridge from all over the world and some of their contributions might be very interesting and very different to the questions other people have asked. This book is a great way to get an insight to what moves people from many backgrounds and cultures.

This project is an ample opportunity for anyone to actively participate in one massive gathering of ideas and information on a question so central to human existence as existence itself. Imagination is in the centre of our being and so invaluable to our mind. Are you imagining right now and what do you imagine? Are your imaginations the same as those of your family, friends and neighbours?

So far almost 2000 people have contributed to the book, with about 250 comments per page. Some comments include: “Imagine a world without pollution”, “Imagine if everyone loved each other”, “Imagine if humans were not the dominant race in the world”, “Imagine if pandas ruled the world”, “Imagine if this book led to Narnia”, “Imagine complete happiness” and “Imagine a world were we give more than we take”.

Now it is time for the people of Cambridge to write down their comments in the big book. The Big Book will be outside the main entrance of the University Library and can be visited the following times:

Thursday May 19th: 10am-7pm, Friday May 20th and Saturday May 21st: 10am-5pm.

Image reproduced from

Men’s Fashion Trends for Spring 2011

Make sure you’re in style this season with our guide on how to update your wardrobe now that Winter is over. The Spring/Summer 2011 designer collections were shown at the end of last year in London, Paris, New York and Milan. These couture creations have filtered down to the high street and now everyone can get their hands on the latest looks to keep up with the ever-changing world of Men’s Fashion. The woven belt below from Ralph Lauren is just one of the hot new styles which have now reached the high street this season.

Here is a full list of the key trends every well-dressed man about town should be sporting this Spring.


  • Every man should have a woven belt in his Spring wardrobe – team with jeans or chinos for a casual relaxed style.
  • Stay on-trend with leather strap sandals – stick to simple designs to avoid that “gladiator” look!


  • Avoid the double denim look – pair denim jeans with soft knitwear or denim jackets with block colour trousers.
  • Go for vintage, faded and worn denim to keep up with the latest trends.


  • T-shirt with a suit is a key look this Spring but make sure it’s a good quality plain dark t-shirt to keep things smart.
  • A linen suit is essential and best kept relaxed so don’t worry about the creases.
  • Sports jackets can be worn for a super smart casual look – choose from single breasted or double breasted styles depending on your build.
  • Key colours are navy blue and khaki this season.


  • Fisherman’s jackets are very in season and are both trendy and practical for those Spring showers.
  • Trench coats and stylish macs are also fashionable this season.
  • Choose from navy, khaki or bright primary colours.


  • Bright and bold knitwear makes a statement this season – choose from either colourful knits (red is a key colour this season) or bold stripes.
  • Cardigans follow the statement look and are best worn unbuttoned over a plain t-shirt if you have a broad chest.


  • Wear coloured chinos to stay on trend – ditch khaki in favour of fresh bright colours perfect for a summery look.
  • Grey jeans were featured heavily in the S/S 2011 collections so buying a pair will keep you part of the in-crowd.
  • Smart shirts work best kept paler than pastel – wear with contrasting ties or button up right to the neck to copy the catwalk look.
  • Red is hot this season so make sure you have one or two key items in this trendy colour.

Image reproduced from Ralph Lauren

Making a Royal Appointment

With royal wedding fever still in the air, the people of Cambridge are in for a real treat in June when Senior Director and Sotheby’s international jewellery expert, Alexandra Rhodes will be giving an illustrated talk.

Ms Rhodes will speak at a Cambridge Fundraising Committee’s wine reception on Thursday 9 June at Newham College in Cambridge.  She will talk about the Exceptional Jewels & Precious Objects formerly in the Collection of The Duchess of Windsor; offered at Sotheby’s in the original 1987 sale, and the subsequent auction in Geneva last November.

The Cambridge Fundraising Committee was set up in 2000 to raise funds for The Sick Children’s Trust’s Acorn House. Since it was established, the committee has raised over £200,000 through their programme of events that run throughout the year.

Alexandra has over 30 years’ experience within Sotheby’s International jewellery department and as a specialist she has participated in Sotheby’s major jewellery sales, playing a primary role in historic sales of various collections. She said:

“The Sick Children’s Trust is such a wonderful charity and I am happy to lend my support through this talk. The ‘Home from Home’ accommodation they provide is invaluable and it is heartening to know that such a worthwhile charity exists to support parents and children alike during what must be most difficult times for them.”

“Jewellery is a real passion of mine, having worked in this fascinating field for more than 30 years, and I hope to provide a real insight into these renowned royal jewels, and pass on some of my enthusiasm.”

Patsy Glazebrook, vice president of the Cambridge Fundraising Committee added: “With royal wedding fever gripping the nation still, this is an event not to be missed!”

The money raised will go towards Acorn House, The Sick Children’s Trust’s ‘Home from Home’ accommodation for families who are currently being treated at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, and once it is open, the new Rosie hospital, where the charity is building a new house.

For tickets to the event, costing £10 (including wine) please call Nigel Bullock on 01223 311877 or email

For more information: Please contact Sarah Wallace on 020 79318695 or email

About The Sick Children’s Trust:
The Sick Children’s Trust was founded in 1982 by two paediatric specialists Dr Jon Pritchard and Professor James Malpas. They believed that having parents on hand during hospital treatment benefited a child’s recovery.

Today the charity has seven ‘Homes from Home’ at major hospitals around the country where families can stay free of charge, for as long as they need whilst their child is undergoing treatment. There is a growing demand for ‘Homes from Home’ as children must increasingly travel long distances to get the specialist treatment they need. Over the years The Sick Children’s Trust has provided more than 35,000 family stays.

Susan Hiller at Tate Britain Until 15 May

Having known little or nothing of Susan Hiller’s work (and travelling miles up from Folkestone) I was pleasantly surprised and relieved to find a show that was thought provoking and unique.

Hiller’s work excavates the overlooked and ignored aspects of our culture, finding meaning in the mundane and outlandish through collected images and objects, to reveal other meanings and contexts that take on a life of their own. Each work, the result of painstaking research and gathered data, rehashed and presented as something akin to a serious scientific study, invites the viewer to consider the oddities in life as something remarkable, even beautiful and definitely humorous.

Dedicated to the Unknown Artists 1972-6 gives unexpected focus to works of the forgotten artists who photographed, painted and hand-tinted seaside town postcards, at the same time reminding us of our obsession with weather. Hiller’s postcard collection features huge waves frozen in their full glory pounding British seaside coastal towns. When framed together, these otherwise discarded reminders of a not-so-hot holiday, have a dated, eerie beauty through their repetition and the use of sepia and muted colours of a by-gone era.

Walking into a darkened space empty except for what seems like hundreds of star like objects, are in fact speakers each suspended by wire from the ceiling. As their metallic surfaces shine out in the darkness and draw you in, there is a murmuring of distant conversation which rises and falls in intensity. You soon realise the speakers have their own individual voice each telling its own story, a witness’ encounter with UFO’s or alien being. Witness: 2000 has an almost religious feel, that of walking through a cathedral with the whispering of prayer echoing and rebounding, but here giving the usually discredited a sense of heightened belief and importance.

Magic Lantern 1987, a film projection and sound work, reminiscent of early trade test cards and colour eye tests, explores the body’s response to colour as a pure form. As I sat watching and listening through headphones as if a volunteer in some experiment. Scratchy sound recordings of an obscure Latvian scientist (who believed to have identified language in noises recorded in empty rooms) and Hillier’s own rhythmical chanting voice, added to the notion of my being part of a bizarre Pythonesque lab test.

Image reproduced from Tate Britain

Olympian Backs Big Walk for Alzheimer’s Research UK

Britain’s number one female javelin thrower Goldie Sayers is putting her weight behind Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Big Walk in Cambridgeshire on Sunday 22 May. Goldie is urging everyone to step up to the challenge and help the UK’s leading dementia research charity raise £10,000 to pay for 500 hours of pioneering dementia research.

Hundreds of people are expected to take part in the ten mile Big Walk, which starts and finishes in Great Shelford, home to Alzheimer’s Research UK. The route heads towards the centre of Cambridge, via footpaths and countryside, passing the Botanical Gardens and on through Grantchester Meadows.

Cambridge-based Goldie, 28, who represented Britain at the Beijing and Athens Olympics, said:
“This is a Big Walk with a fantastic focus – to raise desperately needed funds for dementia research. It’s a marvellous opportunity to keep fit, have fun and see some beautiful areas of Cambridgeshire that can only be fully appreciated on foot. And keeping fit can help reduce the risk of many serious diseases, including dementia, so everyone’s a winner!

“It’s great to know Alzheimer’s Research UK is there for us all, dedicated to finding new treatments for dementia so that future generations can reap the benefits.

“Representing Britain and competing in the Olympics takes real dedication too and my training for the London 2012 trials takes up all my time. My thoughts will be with everyone on the day of the Big Walk and I hope as many people as possible will join in to help Alzheimer’s Research UK defeat dementia.”

Miranda Mays, Community Fundraising Manager for Alzheimer’s Research UK, added:
“Our Big Walk is a first for Alzheimer’s Research UK and we plan to make it a regular date on the Cambridgeshire calendar. It’s just brilliant to have Goldie’s backing for this event and we look forward to following her progress with the London 2012 Olympics.

“We’ve been amazed by the support we’ve received so far and there’s still time for people to sign up to take part, or come along as a volunteer, and help us achieve our goal of raising £10,000. Every step taken and every penny raised will bring us closer to finding ways to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure dementia.

“There are over 6,000 people in Cambridgeshire living with dementia today and over 820,000 across the UK, with numbers forecast to rise substantially in the next generation. Dementia can only be defeated through research but funding lags far behind other serious diseases and we rely entirely on our wonderful supporters.”

To take up the challenge or volunteer to help on the day, contact Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Big Walk team on 01223 843899 or email To register, adults £15, under 18s £7.50. More information is also available online at

About Alzheimer’s Research UK: Alzheimer’s Research UK is the UK’s leading dementia research charity specialising in finding preventions, treatments and a cure for dementia. Based in Cambridge, they believe that science and innovation hold the key to defeating dementia. Alzheimer’s Research UK conducts world-class research to prevent, treat and cure dementia. They help people to understand dementia and the progress they are making. Alzheimer’s Research UK forges partnerships with Government and other key organisations to make dementia research a national priority. For further details, check out the Alzheimer’s Research UK website.

Image courtesy of Alzheimer’s Research UK

Janet Cardiff at Fabrica Gallery Until 30 May

On a day when the Brighton anti-capitalist protest march was kicking off just outside the gallery, it may have not seemed like the best time to view some new artwork. But seeking sanctuary off the street in the former church, now Fabrica Gallery, had a surreal and spiritual effect as 40 angelic voices delivered the Spem in Alium (1573) by Thomas Tallis, one of the most influential English composers of sixteenth century. You can listen to an excerpt of the piece in the following video:

No live singers here though. The Forty Part Motet is a sound installation by Canadian artist, Janet Cardiff, based on the renaissance choral music piece by Tallis and sung by the Salisbury Cathedral Choir. It has been exhibited all over the world since its creation in 2001. Spem in Alium is not often performed, as it requires at least forty singers capable of meeting its technical demands. The piece is widely regarded as one of the best examples of renaissance polyphony and has been described as astonishing and magnificent, often having a profound effect on the audience.

Here each voice in the choir has been separately recorded and played through a circle of 40 speakers. Set to head height and surrounding the nave they act as representations for the human form. You can sit at the centre and take in the total effect, or freely wander along the line from one speaker (or voice) to another – when would you have an opportunity to do this at a live performance?

You can’t help but be moved by the strength of this music and the clever simplicity of the installation. Janet Cardiff is well known for her sound installations, working together with her partner and fellow artist, George Bures Miller. She has created an artwork that combines space with intimacy - a sculptural experience of the Tallis work where music connects with you in such a physical way that you feel enveloped by it.

On her website, Janet Cardiff is quoted as saying:
While listening to a concert you are normally seated in front of the choir, in traditional audience position. With this piece I want the audience to be able to experience a piece of music from the viewpoint of the singers. Every performer hears a unique mix of the piece of music. Enabling the audience to move throughout the space allows them to be intimately connected with the voices. It also reveals the piece of music as a changing construct. As well I am interested in how sound may physically construct a space in a sculptural way and how a viewer may choose a path through this physical yet virtual space. I placed the speakers around the room in an oval so that the listener would be able to really feel the sculptural construction of the piece by Tallis. You can hear the sound move from one choir to another, jumping back and forth, echoing each other and then experience the overwhelming feeling as the sound waves hit you when all of the singers are singing.”

City Connect suggests: The month of May is an ideal time to enjoy Brighton and while you’re there a visit to Fabrica to experience this installation is highly recommended. Brighton is approximately one hour from London by train. The Fabrica Gallery is within 15 minutes walk of Brighton station and the gallery is open every day between 7 and 29 May from 12pm to 7pm. Late night openings are on Saturday 7 May & Saturday 28 May until 11pm. The last day to experience this wonderful artwork is the Spring Bank Holiday on 30 May when the gallery is open between 2pm and 5pm.

Fabrica Gallery
40 Duke Street
East Sussex
Tel: 01273 778 646

Images courtesy of Tony Foster
Video reproduced from YouTube/theprof1958

Source Code’s 8 Minutes Won’t Last Too Long

In 2009, British filmmaker Duncan Jones burst onto the scene with his highly acclaimed sci-fi drama Moon. His current film, Source Code, is another sci-fi thriller. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Captain Stevens, an Afghan helicopter pilot who inexplicably wakes up on a combat mission in the body of another man on a commuter train heading to Chicago.

Soon enough, he discovers that he is part of a government experiment known as Source Code, that allows someone to cross over to a dead person’s body to relive the last 8 minutes of their life – the exact amount of short term memory still intact when a person first dies. The commuter train explodes at the end of the 8 minutes and the mission involves finding out who planted the bomb and who is responsible. Consequently, Captain Stevens is sent back into the 8-minute memory sequence until all the mysteries are unravelled. Each jump to the train allows Stevens to take a slightly different approach to the mission – creating moments of subtle humour, tense drama, and surprisingly believable sympathy.

The film’s lead, Jake Gyllenhaal, gives an adequate performance as Captain Stevens and shares a fresh, comedic chemistry with his female commuter train counterpart, Michelle Monaghan. Gyllenhaal portrays his character’s confusion, mission, and personal story effectively. That said, for a character that’s written as a master of details (and memory) – the script fails Stevens by routinely showing the Captain’s difficulty at understanding the most basic elements of the Source Code premise.

Despite an over-complicated premise, Source Code succeeds at being an above average sci-fi thriller. The audience will definitely enjoy the film with it’s fast moving story beats, but the film falls short of being as smart as it aims to be and the ending may leave the audience a bit disappointed with the director’s approach. Overall, the film is thoroughly entertaining and just the right length, but the film is a better candidate for a rainy night of DVD watching than a trip to the cinema.

Image courtesy of
Video reproduced from YouTube / MovieManiacsDE

Insidious Creeps from Somewhere Unfamiliar

Director James Wan makes a nice contribution to the haunted house genre (or what appears to be the haunted house genre – you’ll have to see the film to fully understand). In recent years, he has become a polarizing figure amongst horror geeks. He co-wrote and directed the first Saw film, a low budget, immensely successful independent horror flick, and has made two mediocre follow-ups in Death Sentence and Dead Silent.  With Insidious, though, Wan seems to have gotten his groove back.

The film debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in 2010 in the festival’s Midnight Madness series. Being one of the lowest budget films that Wan has worked on hasn’t stopped this film from getting some great critic reviews or from being picked up by Sony Pictures.

Insidious is a film that will crawl right under your skin. It has the perfect recipe for what horror movie junkies are looking for today – unpredictable frightening moments, a unique plot, and a new insight to the concept of a parallel ghost realm. The fact that Insidious is able to accomplish all this without spilling a single drop of blood is even more impressive.

Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne play the married couple in the film and both give good performances, along with Barbara Hershey who is now becoming a household name in the scary movie genre after this film and the widely successful Black Swan of 2010. If this film could speak a single phrase, it would blurt out something like “Hold the blood and guts, let’s get straight to the haunting”.

Image adapted from:

Matthew Jukes 100 Best Australian Wines Roadshow

The Matthew Jukes 100 Best Australian Wines Roadshow rolled into Cambridge on 31 March as Noel Young Wines held a tasting at John de Bruyne’s Anstey Hall. Tom Lewis, the Cambridge Wine Blogger, was there and shares his recommendations from the roadshow with City Connect.

Described by award-winning Daily Mail writer Jukes as “a legend in the wine industry”, Noel had selected 40 of Matthew’s 100 wines to present that evening and anyone wishing to get a sense of what Australia has to offer could do much worse than turn up at one of these roadshows.

Arriving half-way through the event, I speed-tasted my way through the wines and then had a chat with Matthew to find out more about how he chose his top 100.

Tasting 30,000 to 40,000 wines a year – that’s an average of 100 wines every single day – Matthew keeps a note of all those which he scores 18.5 or over and then whittles them down to 100 by focusing on what is available for the UK market.

He does not moderate his list in any way; that is, he does not put in wines he feels “ought” to be included or add in a few worthy, but underachieving, wines to round out the list of grape varieties.

Rather, he just lists his top 100, noting that each year there ends up being a small number of fizzes and stickies, with an approximate 50:50 split for the remaining reds and whites that simply represent his personal preferences and assessment.

There is not room here to record all the wines I tried and in any case you can find the full 100 list here, but after all the tasting what struck me was that it was the varieties for which Oz is known best that generally stood out – Chardonnay, Cab and Shiraz.

I asked Matthew about his thoughts on where Australian wine is, and should be, going.

Explaining that what he admires most about Australians is their open frankness and ability not only to take criticism on the chin but also to act on it, he told me he had been invited to talk at a marketing conference on Aussie wines not for any in-depth subject knowledge, but for his own plain-speaking no-nonsense approach.

His view is that Australia needs to continue turning away from the volume-driven supermarket turf war area and focus on its terroir and wines in the mid-range where it has huge potential – three-for-a-tenner wines, he explained, are now the preserve of South Africa, not Oz.

In short, then, Australia needs to grow up and become more serious, more European even – and whilst certain retailers’ shelves may currently be awash with cheap, overly fruity and sweet Aussie plonk, this could be a final hurrah before exchange rates and rises in duty make this cease to be an attractive area for business.

He also believes that Oz’s future lies in its most well-known, international varieties – he is not a fan of Spanish or Italian varieties being grown in Oz and says they usually end up being not as good as, but more expensive than, the styles they try to emulate.

However, he does believe Australian Pinot Noir is getting better all the time and is one to watch.

The full list of the wines on show that evening is here, but what follows is my condensed summary of the ones I liked.


NV Jacob’s Creek, Blanc de Blancs, Australia – this was light, crisp and fresh with a good finish. Price not available as, bizarrely, Jacob’s Creek refuses to tell Noel Young the trade price.

Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc

These wines were lean and crisp in a cool-climate sort of way; not typically Australian at all.

2010 Shaw and Smith Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills, SA (£12.99) had a smokey, flinty nose, crisp acidity, a full palate and good length on the finish.

2005 Tyrrell’s Belford Single Vineyard Semillon, Hunter Valley NSW had a complex but restrained nose with hints of diesel and a ripe, linear and balanced acidity.


There were a number of quite good ones here, but the 2009 Pikes Riesling, Clare Valley, SA (£15.99) showed perhaps the best overall complexity and balance between fullness, acidity and minerality.


There were two very good Chardonnays on show – but neither cheap. Both were quite pale in the glass with great complexity and structure, toasty oak and impressive finishes; 2008 Yabby Lake Vineyard, Chardonnay, Mornington Peninsula, Vic (£24.99) and 2008 Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay, Margaret River, WA (£38.95).

Pinot Noir

The two Pinots on show were pale, almost rose-like, mushroomy and pleasant enough, but I’m not sure I quite share Matthew’s enthusiasm for them at this stage.

Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot

Unlike the cool-climate feel of the whites, the style here is still mainly New World – soft, smooth and full of blackcurrant fruit, with the odd more seriously-textured wine thrown in at the upper end of the price range.

The 2008 Wirra Wirra Church Block, McLaren Vale, SA (£16.99) was good, but the 2009 Mitolo Jester Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale, SA (£12.99) made partially in the amarone style was ripe, mouth-filling and smooth with minty eucalyptus.

Also very impressive for its texture and tannic structure was a 2007 Petaluma Coonawarra, SA (£30.75).

The “weird and wonderful reds”, all lighter and more fruit-driven, were an enjoyable diversion into more affordable, everyday-drinking wines before the hedonistic delight that was the final run of Shirazes.

Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvèdre

2009 Glaetzer, Wallace Shiraz / Grenache, Barossa Valley, SA (£17.50) had sweet prune fruit and minty eucalyptus.

2007 Plantaganet Shiraz, Great Southern, WA (£24.99) had ripe prunes and plums, a soft-but-full texture and a toasty finish.

2007 Mitolo Savitar Shiraz, McLaren Vale, SA (£29.99) had a complex mix of mouthwatering fruit, dense texture, minty blackcurrant, a toastiness and good grippy finish.

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Wittgenstein – an Exhibition

A new exhibition on Wittgenstein and photography is currently being shown at the Old Examination Hall in Cambridge. The world famous philosopher was a keen photographer himself, using it as a means to exemplify many of his arguments. He carried out a lot of photography when he was an architect and primary school teacher. In his writings there are numerous references to photography, demonstrating how important he saw modern media in communication.

Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein was born in Vienna/ Austria in 1889. He grew up in Austria-Hungary and arrived in Cambridge in 1911 to commence his studies at Trinity College. His revolutionary views on the meaninglessness of existential propositions soon challenged many of his peers. He held the professorship in philosophy at the University of Cambridge between 1939 and 1947.

He wrote one of the cornerstones of modern philosophy, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. This book describes the limitations of our own personal thinking directed by the limitations of language. The work contains almost no arguments, but rather declarative statements meant to be self-evident, needless to be defended. He explains the world as cases, which are defined by states of affairs and introduces the mathematical parameters of a truth function, determining any statement. The book funnels into the final statement: “Whereof one cannot speak, one must pass over in silence.” Having read the book myself, I must say it is not an easy read at all. After re-reading many pages I still only claim to merely understand some parts of it, despite being fluent in German. The book really makes one think, whether we can say we truthfully know anything at all.

Wittgenstein’s personal circumstances were not easy. Not only was it difficult for an Austrian to live in Britain during war-times, but his homosexuality also made an open and truthful life difficult. How his philosophical thinking and personal circumstances influenced photography are certainly worth a look and this exhibition itself is rare and thus a must-see for anyone interested in modern philosophy.

Photographic & Illustration Service
First Floor
Old Examination Hall
New Museums Site
Free School Lane

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The Eagle – Cambridge

Whether you are new to Cambridge or have been living here for many years, The Eagle Pub offers something for everyone. It is situated on Benet Street just off King’s Parade right in the heart of Cambridge. Whether you want to meet your friends, have a good night out or meet new people to discuss the latest Cambridge news, this pub is perfect for any occasion.

The Eagle is beautifully decorated and offers a wide range of cask ales, draught beers, wines and other beverages. They have a very good menu, mainly encompassing traditional English cuisine. Their Lamb Shank has a very good reputation and is highly recommended. Click here for their full menu.

The pub also offers a great deal of local and international history. It is one of the oldest inns in Cambridge, dating back to the 14th century. At the back is the Royal Airforce Bar, with signatures of pilots all over. This room is also decorated with the pictures of history of the Veterans of the Second World War. If that is not history enough, legend also holds that Watson and Crick stormed into the pub in 1953 to announce that they had discovered the secret of life. They meant of course their co-discovery of the structure of DNA with Rosalind Franklin. Their work was based in the adjacent Cavendish Laboratory, the Physics Department of the University of Cambridge. A plaque outside the pub on Benet Street is in memory of the two scientists. Whenever my brother comes to visit Cambridge, we meet in the Eagle and wait for our own scientific Eureka moment.

The pub is very popular and also offers seats outside, ideal for the spring and summertime.

8, Benet Street
Tel: 01223 505020

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Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Great news for Cambridge! The Royal Couple have been given the titles of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge following their wedding today. The titles were given by Her Majesty the Queen as part of a long standing tradition of giving new titles on the wedding days of members of the Royal Family.

This is fantastic news for Cambridge and will help the status of the city nationally and internationally. It will also help the city in its bid for Lord Mayor status, which it is currently applying for. Duke of Cambridge as a title was first mentioned as a designation for Charles Stuart (1660–1661), who was the eldest son of James, Duke of York. However, Charles died in his infancy and he was never formally created Duke of Cambridge. A string of childhood tragedies hit the family with the title being bestowed upon his next sons, who also died very young. The title was created in 1664 for his son James Stuart and again for his son Edgar Stuart in 1667. The dukedom was created a third time in 1706 when George, Electoral Prince of Hanover (1683–1760), only son of George, Elector of Hanover (later King George I) would become Duke of Cambridge. The title was later merged in the crown. The Dukedom of Cambridge was again created in 1801 but after the death of the last Duke of Cambridge in 1904, it became extinct.

Duke is the highest title that can be given in the British peerage. The re-establishment of the dukedom of Cambridge has been celebrated in the local Cambridge news and will help the city of Cambridge and the county of Cambridgeshire.

The wedding today attracted large crowds in London and was watched by millions of people all over the world. But will Kate and William last? Read more in our exclusive article by Sloan Sheridan-Williams on City Connect.

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Children’s Charity Searching for Thrillseekers to Take to Skies

Action for Children is on the look out for high fliers in Cambridge to parachute out of a plane at 12,000 feet and help raise money for vulnerable children, young people and families across the UK.

The children’s charity is hoping to sign up 100 jumpers to take part in The Big Jump at March airfield on Father’s Day, Sunday 19 June. No prior experience is needed to take part in the event as a full training course is provided on the day and the tandem skydive is free for all jumpers who raise £395 or more in sponsorship.

Laura Hanratta, who is the regional fundraiser of Action for Children, said: “The Big Jump is an extremely exciting way to support Action for Children. It’s a hugely popular event and the thrill of falling through the clouds at 120 mph has people coming back year after year.

“If it’s something you’ve always wanted to accomplish or that you simply can’t wait to do again, then we urge you to show your support for Action for Children by signing up and helping to raise money for disadvantaged children and young people supported by Action for Children in Cambridge.”

Actress and comedienne Jessica Hynes took part in last year’s Big Jump. She said:  “I’ve taken my action for children by jumping out of a plane from 12,000 feet.

“It was the most exhilarating and terrifying experience of my life so far! And do you know what the best bit is? By doing my skydive, I’m helping Action for Children to support the UK’s 1.5 million neglected children. I’d recommend it to anyone…So come on guys – take your action for children and show your support.”

For a free information pack about the Big Jump please call Action for Children fundraiser Laura Hanratta on 01284 755953 or email

Media contact: Jonathan Street on 07809 595240 or email

Press release from Action for Children , a charity that works with the most vulnerable and neglected children and young people: whose families need support, are in care, who are disabled and who experience severe difficulties in their lives.

Quality of Life Highest in South Cambridgeshire

In answer to your question about moving out of London to a rural area for a fresh start, we thoguht the following survey results would be of interest.

According to a survey by the Halifax on every rural area in the UK, South Cambridgeshire is the best place to live. It is on the top of the league table followed by East Herfordshire and Uttlesford. The area offers great job prospects with an employment rate of 79%, an average life expectancy of 81.6 years and 95% of people reported to be in good health. Most of the prosperity in the area is generated by the university city it encircles and a plethora of biotech companies around the city of Cambridge. The average income in the area is one of the highest in the country with £739 a week. Employment in the R&D sector is 18 times that of the national average and the unemployment rate is below 2%, one of the lowest in the entire European Union. This also has resulted in a strong increase of housing prices in the area in 2010, showing that the recession has barely touched the area.

All rural areas of Britain were measured by this Halifax survey and criteria included employment, crime, weather, traffic, school exam results and health to name but a few.

Interestingly, people in South Cambridgeshire get better weather than most of the rest of the UK, with a third less precipitation than most of the country. Maybe the forefathers of the university who settled here over 800 years ago noticed that at their arrival? Now the 140,000 residents of the region can enjoy an elevated level of sunshine compared to the rest of the UK.

The top of league table was dominated by regions from the South and South-East of England. However, rural areas in the North generally scored higher in exam results, had lower traffic levels and a better environment. Although austerity have not greatly touched South Cambridgeshire, the area has seen some public spending cuts on transport over the past two years. There is a high reliance on cars in the area, which congests in particular the city centre of Cambridge.

Another great contributor to local prosperity is tourism, which attracts people in particular to Cambridge.

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Film Review: Red Riding Hood

London Life Coach & Relationship Expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams talks about “Red Riding Hood” and the story’s metaphors. Follow Sloan Life Coach on Twitter @SloanSW_London and check out Sloan’s Life Coaching website

A cross between ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, ‘Peter and the Wolf’ and ‘Twilight’,  this version of Red Riding Hood delivers on the sweet romance front however rests on the precipice of veering into dark unsettling terrority never quite taking the leap needed to scare the audience.

Amanda Seyfried plays the lead protagonist Valerie, a beautiful charming vibrant young woman torn between two men. She is bequeathed to a wealthy gentleman by the name of Henry but is in love with Peter, as a mysterious brooding outsider, portrayed Shiloh Fernandez.

Valerie and Peter brought together by a love so strong are planning to run away together to avoid Valerie marrying Henry. They then learn that Valerie’s older sister has been killed by a monster that prowls the dark forest that surrounds the village. Just like in the film ‘The Village’, until now there has been a truce with the beast where so long as the inhabitants bring the creature a monthly sacrifice they will come to no harm, but unlike ‘The Village’ this beast is real and that to a werewolf. It appears the blood red moon has become too much for the wolf who has now taken a human life and that obviously breaks the truce.

Enter Gary Oldman, as Father Solomon, whom the people of the village call upon to kill the werewolf in an act of revenge. The twist although not unexpected is that Father Solomon explains to the village that the wolf can actually take human form and can be any one of them. The death count continues to increase with each new moon and Valerie begins to suspect that the wolf may be closer than she thinks. Once Valerie’s suspicions are aroused she becomes both the suspect and the next potential victim.

I must say as an original fan of the 1984 film ‘The Company of Wolves’ I was prepared to be disappointed by yet another remake of Red Riding Hood. There is definitely visual appeal far greater than anything achievable in 1984 without the use of CGI, however the dialogue seems somewhat lacking. Perhaps the market is quite like Twilight and aiming for the teenage female audience, however if you look deeper into the underlying psychological issues such as repression, desire, revenge and longing, this may just have the makings of a psycho–thriller. Unfortunately for some this is a PG13 film in the States and has a similar classification here, therefore there is an absence of blood and gore which does leave it somewhat lacking for the Saw genre fans requiring a good dose of true horror.

Red Riding Hood does have it good points, it has at least stayed grounded in the medieval style fantasy of allowing the viewer to escape to a place where werewolves and witches exist and the church is a higher power setting rules by which to live by. It is easy to fall in love with Seyfried’s character Valerie no doubt she will be universally loved, she is virtuous, she is tempted, she is trusting and she has good intentions but like the majority of us she leaves herself open to the pitfalls of love, life and seduction. Artistically Valerie’s fondness for wearing a vibrant red cloak is stunning in look and clever in its underlying meaning of sexual awakening.

The film also attempts to retain some of the framework of the children’s story, albeit with artistic variation. Fairy tales are often used to speak to both our conscious and unconscious, therefore do not need to avoid contradictions because these can easily exist in our subconscious. This does not translate into film as well in this instance. The original fairytale speaks of human passions, oral greediness, aggressive behaviour and sexual desires. In the original there is no conspiracy of adults, the heroine is forced to mend her ways via her own conscious and not the way society demands. With the presence of Father Solomon, Gary Oldman’s character inhabits a moral grey area but the script does not delve quite how I would like it to on the complexity of his motivations

The original also know as Little Red Cap concentrates on the child-like view about whether to live by the pleasure principle or in the real world. It deals very well with situations where we are at a cross roads and we make the wrong choice. What is interesting in both this film and the original fairytale, is that the wolf at all times has the ability to eat both Little Red Cap and Valerie yet chooses not to do so at the beginning of the story. Cynics may say that this is because Valerie cannot be eaten in the first 20mins of the film but psychologists may look at this as the fact the grandmother must be eaten before Little Red Cap in a bid for the transformation into adulthood. Perhaps the film is trying to portray the wolf’s selfish, violent and potentially destructive tendencies as representative of the id, in contrast to the unselfish, thoughtful attributes of the ego who may or may not be a character who will save Valerie.

Hardwicke as a director is remarkable in playing the red herring game and although I did guess the werewolf, I hear that many did not. To me the disappointment of the film was the lack of romantic chemistry, however the highlight was indeed the mastery displayed when it comes to creating atmosphere.  I really did get a sense of the isolation in the village and the power wielded by Father Solomon and appreciated the lack of blood and gore although I do realise not all will take this view. It is a beautiful motion picture potentially appealable to the Twilight crowd but also reaching a further audience. Well worth a view, but I would only rate it 3 stars out of 5.

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Trailer reproduced from ClevverTV/Warner Bros Pictures

William and Kate – Will They Last?

London Life Coach & Relationship Expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams talks about Prince William and Kate Middleton giving her opinion on the likely success of their relationship ahead of the forthcoming Royal Wedding. Follow Sloan Life Coach on Twitter @SloanSW_London and check out Sloan’s Life Coaching website

Well a question no doubt on everyone’s lips is whether Wills and Kate are destined to be together. Many people wonder whether the temporary split is still a niggle between them or whether it is the foundation that will hold them together. When people are not pondering about this they are questioning whether Kate has what it takes to be part of the Royal family given her different background, but perhaps it is these differences that make this couple so special.

I think the official interview (courtesy of the Royal Channel) given by the couple as shown in this clip below is a good indicator as to the success of their relationship.

In the beginning of this interview, Prince William is asked about how he proposed. All in all he seems proud that he was romantic and the setting in Africa seems idealistic. It is interesting to note around 58 seconds into the clip, he purses his lips almost as if he is holding some information back. He then licks his lips which could be as simple as a comforter or could be because his mouth is dry which is one indicator that someone could be withholding information. At the end of the day, this couple should have some secrets and be allowed to not reveal everything so I would conclude that the proposal story is genuine and although a long time coming was actually perfectly timed for this happy couple.

It is interesting to note that William’s comforters increase when Kate is talking. For example, his hands touch each other more, at some stages actually rubbing his fingers. This is seen throughout the clip, a good example is just after a minute in but if you watch closely it is pretty constant. He is obviously no stranger to media questions so I would also hazard a guess it is because Kate is now being subjected to questioning, which she has not been accustomed to in such a way before.

The couple are however very natural at times, William more so. A good clip to see this is approximately 2:18 minutes in when he is talking about how he feels like a duck calm on the surface of the water but little feet paddling frantically beneath. William is full of genuine smiles, animated language and hand gestures. He continues to openly discuss his feelings and how it was difficult to hide the engagement which again seems genuine, his hand gestures are open and there are no signs of deception on his face. It appears he also kept quiet about the engagement to give Kate time to adapt and change her mind. Luckily she didn’t as they do seem like a potentially good couple, it is almost beautiful to watch as the interviewer proceeds in asking about children (approx. 4:18mins in) and Wills has a shy but excited smile and Kate’s face lights up with a full on nervous giggle to boot. It is a shame that this natural burst of emotion is quickly maintained by both parties and you see Kate very aware of the cameras again. This is not a criticism as no doubt it must be hard for her. You cannot choose who you love.

The interview continues on with a lot of hand comforters from William and a few mouth indicators from Kate showing at times a repressed desire to speak and at others a frustration and tension.

At 9:18mins in the interviewer has asked about the break up and you can see immediately Kate brushes her hair back, then you can see her physically relive some obviously very tough moments for her. Her lips turn down showing outwards signs of sadness and displeasure but she brings it back with a vocabulary that makes her appear like the strong woman that she will have to be to live in this media spotlight.

The couple no doubt have extra stress and strain from the press but when William talks about the relationship being fun (11:10mins) you see a genuine interaction and exchange between the couple which is no doubt how their friends see them

The interviewer then takes it to a point which I think a little unfair, but perhaps that is just life in the spotlight, when he mentions Diana and how Kate will live up to her memory. William quite obviously looks sad and it does not take an expert to see this. Kate on the receiving end of the question deflects it as best she can but her body language including nose flair, pursed lips, deep swallow and even a lick of her lips during the word intimidating tell a very different story. It seems an unfair question as no-one is asking Kate to be Diana but one that they both did well to recover from considering how difficult they found it.

Another potential unfair question (in my opinion) was when the reporter asked Kate how she felt about criticism. No doubt anyone would be lying if they said they were ok with horrendous rumours going around about them whether they are true or not, so it was no surprise to see deeper swallows (15.10mins onwards) with Kate looking down, lips turned downwards, and an outright deflection of the question. This reporter didn’t give up and repeats the question and Kate shows that she is already learning to deflect questions, she needs more practice in controlling her body language but I think that will come in time as her vocabulary although slightly stilted is very good at avoidance.

It is nice to see the couple return to a happier state at around 16:32mins in when they both have very genuine and animated reactions to the question about whether they are excited about the wedding. It is even sweeter to see Wills comfort Kate at 17:10mins by patting her on the knee while she is talking about learning the ropes and working hard at being his wife.

The interview finally ends as expected with relief from the couple that they survived.

I think this video showed Kate can handle the press, yes she needs work but it will come. It was a valiant effort; Will is obviously there to support her through it all. As a couple I think they will do wonderfully, although a quick brush up on controlling a few of their indicators from their experts and speech writers would probably hold them in good stead for the future as the media can be a tough forum to start out a marriage.

I wish them all the best and hope for sunshine on their happy day.

Top image reproduced from MamaPop
Bottom image reproduced from Bespoke Wardrobe

Buyers Guide: Top 5 Home Accessories

There is so much choice out there when it comes to accessorizing the home that deciding what items to go for can be a bit of an interior design headache. Debenhams has an excellent range of home accessories and I’ve chosen my top 5 must-have items that highlight the best of their selection. Whether you’re going for the vintage look or contemporary style, there’s something to suit any taste at Debenhams with many items now reduced in their Easter Extravaganza sale.

Retro Telephones
Add some retro style to your home with a classic telephone. This Wild & Wolf trim telephone takes you back to the 70s with its bold turquoise colour and funky design. Create a chic vintage look by coordinating it with other retro accessories or position it on its own as a bold statement piece.

Union Jack Cushions
With the Royal Wedding and St George’s Day both coming up this month, there is a visible patriotic influence appearing in home accessories. Union Jacks are on everything from teacups to plant pots. Cushions are a simple way to reflect this style trend in the home and they can be a talking point amongst your guests. This BDL by Ben de Lisi cushion has a trendy Union Jack design on the front with a bright red back and a contrasting yellow trim.

Lacquer Photo Frames
Bright colours aren’t just a trend for your wardrobe – update your decor with bold photo frames in glossy bright colours. Add accents of colour to a room using brightly coloured frames. The Butterfly by Matthew Williamson lacquer frames in bright blue are a personal favourite and is available in two sizes – 4” x 6” and 6” x 8”.

Artificial Flowers
Flowers help make a house a home – but using fresh flowers can be costly as they are usually past their best after a few days and often need replacing. A great alternative is to use quality artificial flowers to decorate the home which last for years and never need watering! Artificial flowers already arranged in a vase will add instant colour and warmth to a room. Top florist Jane Packer has designed a beautiful plastic floral collection for Debenhams. The prettiest and most unusual item from the collection is this blue hyacinth in square glass vase.

Decorative Table Lamps
Lighting has always been the ideal way to transform a room and table lamps are perfect to add atmosphere and decoration to the home. The best designs to go for are lamps that look just as decorative when they’re off as when they’re on – which is why I love these stunning rocha.john rocha cut out lamps. They are subtle as well as stylish and look like an attractive ornament when not lit. The lamps are available in small and large.

All these home accessories plus many more are available from the Debenhams website or visit your nearest store by using their Store Finder.

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Buyers Guide: Colourworks

It’s time to celebrate the first birthday of the Colourworks collection – a comprehensive range of cookware that combines functional materials with stylish design and bright colours perfect for this time of year. Designed by the award-winning kitchenware company – Kitchen Craft – and launched at the beginning of 2010, the collection is a versatile and cost-effective way of adding funky colourful style to any kitchen. Versatility comes from the option to mix, match and co-ordinate items from the Colourworks collection which are available in a selection of fun colours including this season’s on-trend colour – orange. Prices start from £6 making the range very cost-effective.

Different high quality materials such as silicone, nylon, stainless steel and melamine are used throughout the collection, giving choice and adding their own benefits to suit different cooking scenarios. Hygiene and flexibility come from the use of silicone which is totally safe to use on non-stick surfaces. Colourworks utensils are also stain resistant and heat resistant up to 260°C which makes them perfect for all cooking applications. The majority of utensils are dishwasher safe. What’s more, every item in the collection comes with a 5 year guarantee which demonstrates their durability and longevity.

Kitchen Craft is one of the UK’s largest kitchenware companies and has won numerous industry awards year on year. The company was first established in 1850 by Thomas Plant and is still a family-run business to this day, being owned and managed by members of the Plant family who are direct descendants of the founder. Kitchen Craft is an international business and their products can be found in leading department stores, cookshops and mail order companies in the UK and around the world.

Selected items from the Colourworks collection can be found in all good cookshops and department stores nationwide, including the BHS and Debenhams stores in Cambridge’s Grafton Centre. Below are some of my favourite items from the collection available at BHS.

Reversible Chopping Board
This chopping board is made from polyethylene which is non-toxic, non-stick and stain resistant. Because it is reversible, you can safely cut raw meat on one side and vegetables on the other thus avoiding cross contamination of food. The polyethylene is also gentle on knives which means that you can chop away with the confidence that your blades will stay sharper for longer.

Measuring Spoon Set
This five piece measuring spoon set includes measurements of 1/4tsp, 1/2tsp, 1tsp, 1/2tbs and 1tbs so they are ideal for use when following recipes that require exact measurements for perfect results every time.

Silicone Cupcake Cases
These silicone 7cm (3”) cupcake cases are sure to brighten any day of baking. Being silicone these cases are re-usable as well as being heat and stain resistant. They are available in a pack of twelve containing cases in each of the Colourworks colours to enable you to co-ordinate with other items in the range.

Melamine Colander
This colander is made from virtually unbreakable melamine and is perfect for draining pasta or vegetables. It features a stylish two tone design – white on the inside and coloured on the outside – and has a capacity of 2.5 Litres.

Ice Cream Scoop
This ice cream scoop has a wide angled ergonomically designed handle with soft touch panel which makes serving ice cream easy and comfortable every time.

‘Y’ Shaped Swivel Peeler
This swivel peeler has a fully rotating stainless steel blade on its ‘Y’ shaped head which is specially designed for fast and efficient peeling.

Can Opener
This can opener with wide angled, soft touch ergonomic handle which is comfortable to use and makes opening cans a quick and easy task.

Wing Corkscrew
This wing corkscrew with double soft touch handles and body is sure to brighten any kitchen or dining table. The double handles are comfortable to use and will make opening wine bottles quick and easy.

Silicone Tongs
These silicone tongs have stainless steel arms and are 30cm long. Available in a range of colours, they are guaranteed to brighten up any kitchen or barbeque. They can be used safely on non-stick surfaces and are heat resistant to 260°C as well as being stain resistant.

Flexible Silicone 28cm Splatter Guard
This long handled silicone splatter guard is heat resistant to 260°C and will protect you and your surfaces from spitting fat when frying. It is a really useful addition to the kitchen battery of tools and utensils.

To see more of the Colourworks collection, pay a visit to BHS Cambridge:
29 Grafton Centre
East Road
Tel: 0845 841 0154

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Gabriel Orozco at Tate Modern Until 25 April

The Orozco exhibition, unlike Susan Hillier’s at Tate Britain (to be reviewed next week), has no constant themes. The accent is on diversity. Like Orozco himself his works are not rooted to one place, each is a focused response to a particular place and time resulting in a diverse approach to each work.

Yielding stone: 1992, a giant ball of plasticine sits on the floor as a brooding grey boulder in the gallery space. As an exact weight of the artist, it was rolled through the streets of New York collecting dust, dirt and imprints along its journey, a reflection of the artist’s movement at that time as a response to his life and the environment.

Sitting within the same gallery space sits Elevator: 1994, clean and illuminated on the inside, the open doors inviting the viewer to enter while its old rusting, rarely seen outer mechanical body provides a stark contrast. Orozco has cut away a section of the lift so as to relate it to the human scale as a sculptural piece. The work is a fascinating object, rarely seen in this way as a whale out of water, Orozco likened the piece in a gallery to “turning the peel of a half orange inside out”.

In a separate room stands a pool table named after the French variation,Carambole with pendulum:1996. Unlike any other pool table this one is oval and with no pockets. Two balls sit on the table while a third hangs suspended slightly above, challenging the viewer to try and hit it. There are no winners or losers in this game although the viewers are invited to make their own rules. The table applies some interesting physical laws including Foulcault’s pendulum that demonstrated the earth’s rotation whereas I only wanted to hit the dangling ball and almost succeeded in taking out an innocent bystander.

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The Willow Tree – Bourn

The Willow Tree is a charming gastropub situated in the pretty village of Bourn. The delicious modern menu, great selection of wine & beer and friendly welcoming staff make this pub a treasured find in the Cambridgeshire countryside.

Entering The Willow Tree is a pure delight. From the designer wooden stag head on the wall and rococo mirrors to the eclectic mix of dining chairs and vintage leather sofas, the inside of the pub is simultaneously comfortable, quirky and stylish. Open fires, candles and Louis XIV style armchairs add to the elegant continental ambience.

Attentive and knowledgeable, the waiting staff are always warm and friendly. They provide a professional service to all customers whether you’re a familiar face or new to the establishment. The charming atmosphere is complemented by live music evenings of Jazz, Blues, Soul or Folk on certain Sundays in the month. Here is a list of artists due to perform at The Willow Tree this Spring/Summer:

April 24th – Rebecca Hynes (deep soul)
May 1st – Phil Marshall Quartet (jazz funk)
May 22nd – Ben Smith (funky blues)
June 5th – Polly Rose Band (vocal jazz)
June 26th – Tom Copson (alternative folk)
July 3rd – Tom Rickard Quartet (vibraphone jazz)
August 7th – Brant Tilds Band (latin jazz)

Highlights from the extensive Wine List include a decadent Taittinger champagne, a dry and light Sancerre from the family-run Domaine Tissier, an elegant Provençal Rosé from Château Léoube, and a fruity Gatekeeper Shiraz from Australia. These are the more expensive options but there is a wine to suit every pocket and most wines can be served by the glass. There is also a wide selection of beers, spirits and soft drinks.

The seasonal menu has a continental influence but includes pub classics interpreted with style and flare. Ingredients are sourced locally where possible such as vegetables grown at nearby South Farm. The daily specials board promotes the best seasonal produce available and delicious roast dinners are served on Sundays. Whether you’re a carnivore, fish lover or dedicated vegetarian, you’ll find something to delight your palate from The Willow Tree menu. Tapas and pizzas are available on the menu in addition to more hearty fare. Below is just a small selection of some recent dishes served by the talented chef and his team:

Mozzarella, chargrilled figs, radicchio & balsamic syrup
Carpaccio of beef with horseradish cream & wild rocket
Bruschetta of chicken liver pate & wild mushrooms

Ricotta & polenta torte, marjoram, mixed leaves, apple & fig chutney
Seabass with lyonnaise potatoes, caramelised leeks & saffron sauce
Bourn burger with cheese and hand cut chips
Fillet steak served with hand cut chips, grilled mushrooms & stilton sauce

Sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream
Lemon meringue with vanilla honey & lemon jelly, & candied lemon zest
Movenpick ice cream or sorbet

So whether you’re looking for somewhere to have a relaxed lunch with friends, a romantic dinner with a loved one or you want to treat the family to a traditional Sunday roast, head for The Willow Tree in Bourn. You won’t be disappointed!

The Willow Tree
29 High Street, Bourn, Cambridge, CB23 2SQ
Tel: 01954 719775

Images reproduced from

Artificial Pancreas Tested at Cambridge University

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have demonstrated the usability of an artificial pancreas for patients with Type 1 diabetes. The apparatus allows the regulation of the patient’s blood sugar levels during night time and thus prevents hypoglycaemia, i.e. low blood sugar levels.

If blood sugar levels fall to low, patients can experience warning signs such as irritability, shakiness and heart pounding. At night, however, these signs often remain unnoticed, leading to permanent damage or even to fatality. Dr. Roman Havorka at the Institute for Metabolic Science of the university has been leading two studies on the applicability of the artificial pancreas. After the promising test results, he proposed that the device might be applicable for the usage at home, which will be included in the next test series.

The artificial organ itself includes two parts, an insulin pump and a glucose level monitor. It is the first time that both technologies have been successfully combined. Active research in the UK also encompasses the creation of a bioengineered pancreas including beta cells to create insulin. However, research in that area is still in its infancy as we reported previously.

The new technology tested at the university may help many people in the UK. Since the year 1996 the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK has increased from around 1.4 million to 2.6 million. It is estimated that by 2025 over four million people will have diabetes in Britain. These alarming figures show that diabetes is one of the major health challenges over the next decades. Although most of these people are predicted to have Type 2 diabetes due to an aging population, a strong increase in Type 1 diabetes is also expected due to wrong dieting. New technology such as the one demonstrated here will potentially benefit millions of people.

Image: courtesy of the University of Cambridge

Easter at Hotel Chocolat

As Easter is almost upon us, it’s time to start thinking about chocolate and who better to meet the needs of chocoholics than Hotel Chocolat. They are the only British cocoa grower and origin chocolatier in the UK and have been passionate about real chocolate for the past 20 years. The company is all about originality, authenticity and ethics. It’s great to see a UK company do so well using innovative creative flare and maintaining a classic British style and wit in their approach to luxury chocolate.

Hotel Chocolat’s commitment to produce premium quality chocolates has allowed chocolate lovers from the UK, Europe and America to receive gorgeous chocolates via mail order. Hotel Chocolat retail stores can now be found up and down the UK and grow in number every year so that consumers on the high street can now get their hands on these high quality chocolates. I popped into their Cambridge shop on Petty Cury to see what treats Hotel Chocolat has in store for us this Easter. Here are my recommendations for the Easter Eggs you should consider buying for friends and loved ones:

The Original Extra Thick Easter Eggsâ„¢ – £24
Hotel Chocolat has been making these extraordinary Easter eggs for the past 18 years. It is refreshing to find an Easter egg which consists of a chocolate shell which is three times thicker than the average Easter egg – we have suffered for long enough in this country with the super thin chocolate shells made from sickly sweet inferior chocolate found on supermarket shelves. Hotel Chocolat do a range of shells made from milk, dark and white chocolate so you’ll definitely find something to please any chocolate lover. As with all their eggs, Hotel Chocolat has gone back to the Easter of our childhood and have hidden a tasty selection of Easter chocolates inside each egg. My favourite is the Serious Dark Fixâ„¢ Extra Thick Easter Egg – lovers of dark chocolate will enjoy this egg made from Hotel Chocolat’s award-winning 70% house dark chocolate with one shell studded with crunchy cocoa nibs. The chocolates inside include praline, rum truffle, chilli praline and single malt whisky truffle.

Easter Eggsposé™ Half Eggs – £14 or any 2 for £25
These are new to the Easter range from Hotel Chocolat. They consist of half an extra thick egg made from either premium milk, dark or white chocolate which is then filled with a tasty selection of Easter chocolates that are ready to burst out and tantalise the taste buds. The Easter Eggsposé™ Half Egg is an ideal Easter gift when a whole egg might be a little too much. My favourite for boys of all ages is The Nibblatron – five cute little chocolate robots nestled in an extra thick egg shell made of 40% mellow milk chocolate.

Easter Egg Sandwichesâ„¢ – £8 or any 3 for £21
These quirky handmade chocolate eggs are made with two slices of premium chocolate between beautifully decorated hollow shells. The unusual Egg Sandwiches are a fun gift to give someone and different from the norm so they would be received quite well I think. The quirkiness of these eggs are the perfect way to make someone smile this Easter. My favourite is the Strawberry Melt – two slices of meringue-studded strawberry and white chocolate sandwiched between creamy white shells.

Gigantic Ostrich Easter Eggsâ„¢ – £65
It’s an understatement to say that Hotel Chocolat’s exclusive Ostrich Eggs are large – these Easter eggs really are gigantic! Each one weighs a staggering 1.3kg! Available in milk chocolate or dark chocolate, they definitely would make a big impression on someone really special but I think they’ve been designed more for sharing so one would make the ideal gift for a family. My favourite is the Milk Ostrich Egg made from 40% milk chocolate which has been covered in cookie pieces, crispy rice and chocolate chunks. Inside is a gorgeous selection of chocolates including truffles, caramels, macadamia and pistachio pralines and lots more.

Whichever egg you go for, I hope you have a lovely Easter this bank holiday weekend with friends and loved ones. And don’t forget – chocolate is for life not just for Easter!

Hotel Chocolat
3 Petty Cury
Tel: 01223 308045

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