The Nook Urban Retreat Is the first dedicated yoga space in the very heart of Coventry, situated less than 2 minutes away from the Lady Godiva Statue. It’s the perfect little Haven from the hustle and bustle of everyday city life, as soon as I walked in I was completely blown away by how calm and quiet it was and I honestly forgot I was in the busy city centre.
The year is 1862 and Sarah Bonetta Davies (Shannon Hayes), an African girl adopted by Queen Victoria and raised within her circles, resides in Brighton on the eve of her return to Africa. The question: will she go?
Opening up on a picturesque scene of a pristine white apartment, two young women sit perched on the sofa in flowing ebony gowns, a tea set before them. Straight away, they looked like a painting from the Victorian era. The perfect picture soon became one of the funniest scenes of the play, with the maid, Aggie (Donna Berlin), learning how to be a hostess. With her exaggerated laugh and comments on the weather, Aggie took the lead as the comedian of the scene, much to the dismay of her teacher, Sarah. The back and forth between Hayes and Berlin was brilliant, having the audience laughing one moment and cringing for them as they muddled through the lesson the next.
The tone soon shifted, as visitors arrived with preconceived perceptions about Sarah, from overly familiar questions to casual racism. A particular credit to the play was how seamlessly it moved between comedy and the darker subjects.
Fast forward to present day and Sarah, a middle-class black woman has come to stay in a Cheshire village with her husband, James and young child, Victoria. Intertwining with the past, the modern day setting also looks at cross-racial adoption, but reversed with Sarah Bonetta Davies who was adopted by a white family, while modern Sarah and James have adopted a white child.
The modern day storyline immediately drops hints about the underlying mystery of the scene; why does James have a broken arm and cuts on his face?
A visit by supposedly well-meaning neighbours may have something to confess, but not before they have given their own opinions on race and political correctness. Much like the scene from 1852, the audience was almost crying with laughter at outrageous dance moves and uncomfortably listening to Ben (Richard Teverson) explain why he thinks modern Sarah’s opinions on how she feels about her own race are wrong the next.
The second half of the play leads to an almost surreal scene as both Sarahs have tea with Queen Victoria, though only Sarah Bonetta Davies can be seen by her majesty. Though it is not explained how modern Sarah has come to be in the scene, she encourages Sarah Davies to stand up to the Queen and confront the racist attitudes that have been placed upon her from childhood.
Throughout the play, The Gift explores topics of race, cross-racial adoption, imperialism, cultural appropriation and of course…tea. Every scene includes some kind of tea party and gave thought provoking glimpses into both a historical figure and fictional character’s lives. It gave an interesting insight into the prejudices that people had to deal with both in the past and today.
The Gift is an important play that should not be missed.
The Gift is currently on tour around the UK until Wednesday 11th March 2020. Look on eclipsetheatre.org.uk for further details.
Get ready to celebrate the New Year again, because the celebrations are just about to begin with the Lunar New Year around the corner, starting Saturday 25th January to Saturday 8th February.
Also known as Chinese New Year, the Lunar New Year is widely celebrated across East and South East Asia, along with diaspora communities around the world. This year, the Belgrade Theatre will also be getting festive with a brand-new production of Madam Butterfly, retold from a female, East Asian perspective.
Premiering 6th February at the Belgrade Theatre before touring the UK, critically-acclaimed Ruth Chan has re-orchestrated this new English translation of Puccini’s work with a diverse cast of singers.
But the celebrations don’t end there! After last year’s highly successful collaboration, the Belgrade Theatre will be teaming up with Coventry University’s Confucius Institute to offer an exciting range of activities on Saturday 1st February, all for free!
From 9am-12pm practice your hand at Chinese Calligraphy, perfect your Traditional Crafts skills and learn and relax at a Thai Chi Taster Session at this drop-in event. Try as much or as little as you want! With the Year of the Rat being said to be auspicious, what better time to learn something new?
There’s no need to book, so turn up on the day with family and friends for an experience you will not forget.
February is an exciting month for The Belgrade and everyone in Coventry as you can access so many free events. You do not want to miss out!
Chinese Crafts for Lunar New Year takes place at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry on Saturday 1 February, followed by OperaUpClose’s Madam Butterfly on Thursday 6 February. Tickets for the show are available to book now by calling the box office on 024 7655 3055 or visit www.belgrade.co.uk for cheaper prices.
Come along and join the Lunar New Year celebrations!
- Drink with Moderation
Christmas might be the time for all those warm glasses of mulled wine and just wine in general, but we should not justify the 6th glass of wine consumed on the same day by the fact that it’s Christmas and ‘tis the season to be jolly!
It is indeed the season of family gatherings and unforgettable moments spent together with your loved one, therefore you might want to cut down on the alcohol so you actually remember these moments.
Here are some numbers to demonstrate how many calories a nice glass of wine can pack:
Large glass (250ml) of average strength red wine = 214 calories = one bag of Cheesy Wotsits. A bottle of average strength red wine = 644 calories = 14 jaffa cakes or McDonald’s Cheeseburger and medium fries. Large glass of medium dry white wine = 190 calories = two and a half digestive biscuits.
As in every other aspect in life, moderation is key, treat wine as a delicacy and enjoy a glass or two on special occasions.
- Consume lots of fruits
As the weather is getting colder and colder outside it is important to get you vitamins and minerals in, to help you stay in good health. Make sure that your Christmas Shopping List enables you to get enough fruit to fill up the fruit bowl and get your recommended daily portion of fruit and veg. Fruits like oranges, clementines, pomegranate, persimmon, pears and nuts are perfect for snacking in between meals or while watching Home Alone with the family.
Vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potato, beetroot, brussel sprouts and pumpkin are perfect side dish options for the Christmas Meal.
(FYI: Wine is not a grape salad, it doesn’t count!)
- Get out of the house
There’s nothing better than building your first snowman or snowwoman of the year after a fresh snowfall!
Take some time off cooking and cleaning and enjoy the great outdoors with your beloved ones. Snowball fights, rope towing in the snow, ice hockey and ice skating are some of the best ways to burn off some extra energy. Make sure no one gets hurt (physically and emotionally) in the process.
If you got no kids to play outside with, then go for a walk after dinner, walk the dog, walk the neighbours dog, play with the dog, no matter whose dog it is!
Also, fresh crisp are will help with better sleep, while a nice stroll will aim digestion, so you definitely don’t want to miss out on that one!
- Increase the number of your strengths workouts
You’ve worked so hard all year to gain muscle, so why should you risk wrecking your progress over the winter holidays? It is important to increase the number of your strength workouts in order to maintain muscle mass, so if you’re less of a runner then you are in for a win, because you can burn just as many calories by lifting weights as you’d if you went for a long run. Also, those extra calories might even help you get a new PB in the process!
- Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water and staying hydrated is even more important during the holidays, since most of us consume more alcohol than any other times of the year. Even on nights out, it is important that you drink enough water. Don’t worry if your friends are offering to buy you drinks but you ask for sparkling water with lemon/lime. After all, who wants a bad hangover anyways?
- Make sure you consume protein with each of your meals
In order to feel satisfied and stay fuller for longer, it is essential that you try to incorporate some kind of protein with each meal. Getting a good amount of protein in each meal is therefore beneficial for lessening cravings for potentially unhealthy snacks between meals. Helping to maintain muscle mass during a calorie deficit. For example, eggs in any form are an amazing breakfast option, this will keep you satisfied till lunch time.
- Carefully select treats
Treats are allowed during the festive season, but you have to choose them wisely. A good plan would be to only eat treats that are available during Christmas only and not goodies that are readily available year round.
- Catch up with friends over fitness related events
Plan on seeing your friends over the Christmas Holidays for fitness related catch ups. This is so much better than going for brunch only. Why not go for a yoga or spin class together with your girls and then enjoy a nice and nourishing lunch together afterwards. Also, signing up for sport related events, or trying out the new class at your local gym together could be a lot of fun.
- Mindful eating
If you really think about it, the food around Christmas isn’t actually that bad. It’s the portion sizes that seem to get to us. You may be looking forward to the pigs in blankets, but you don’t have to pile seven on your plate. Keep things realistic and enjoy the food in moderation.
A really good tip is to not to eat till you feel so full, you can’t even move. Yes, the food might smell delicious and look tasty, but do you really want to slump on the sofa and complain about how much you’ve just eaten?
Also, try not to go back for seconds and prioritize time when eating. Eating slower will not only lead to better meal satisfaction, but you’ll better your digestion and actually realise when you feel full up.
- Enjoy your time with your loved ones!
Staying fit during the holidays shouldn’t sounds like a chore, after all it is the season to be jolly. Make sure you don’t go crazy and choose gym session over spending time with your family and loved ones. Time them right and you’ll be able to do both!
Don’t restrain yourself from foods you love, instead, enjoy them in smaller portions, or maybe share them with your family. (hah! Jokes, no one likes to share their favourite treats)
Cov Bloggers pottery painting party
In October, members from Coventry Bloggers were invited to attend a discounted pottery painting party with The Cool Pots Co at Esquires in Coventry.
The Cool Pots Co
The Cool Posts Co is a newly established mobile Pottery painting company managed by April. She provides pottery painting sessions for:
- Children’s parties
- Baby prints
- Hen parties
- Corporate events
- School bookings
- Team building
April only created The Cool Pots Co Facebook Page on 23 April 2019. And it’s already proved tremendously popular, she has attracted 984 followers in about 6 months! That’s amazing, why don’t you give her a follow to help get her past the 1000 mark?
Our Pottery Painting Party
During our pottery painting party, we had a relaxing two hours to design and paint a mug and/or a coaster.
Before I started, two hours seemed like plenty of time. Afraid, I am a bit artistically challenged when it comes to painting. So, I spent two hours quietly concentrating on trying to perfect the paws on my mug. As a result, I sadly ran out of time to paint my coaster.
This masterpiece took me two hours! I’m a photographer, which means that I like to try and make things look their best. Can you tell?
I would suggest that you think about what design you plan to paint on your pottery before your painting session with Cool Pots Co. You can draw your design in advance and copy it onto your mug, plate or coaster.
If you are a bit artistically challenged like me, the good news is that April will draw a design in pencil for you. So, you would only need to paint!
Bespoke designs & Commissions
The Cool Pots Co has a vast range of figurines, plates, mugs, plaques, clocks, posts and more.
Prices start from £8 up to £35, which includes glazing and kiln firing.
April studied Illustration, so her drawings and designs are fabulous! I probably should have told her what I wanted and asked her to draw my design because I am a little bit better at the calming art of colouring in.
Despite my low-level painting skills, I had a great time during our pottery painting session and I think my paws mug looks pretty cool.
Art activities are relaxing, and a popular mindfulness tool. Whilst I was focusing deeply on the task of painting, other thoughts and anxieties drifted away. One of the reasons I love photography is because it often helps me de-stress and focus my mind on the beauty before me.
Group bookings for painting parties
Fancy a few hours focusing your energy on feeling calm and creative?
All of the Coventry Bloggers who attended our pottery painting party with The Cool Pots Co had an enjoyable, arty, and relaxing evening.
In addition to being an incredible painter and illustrator, April is super organised, extremely friendly, and great with families and children.
Why don’t you organise a pottery painting party with The Cool Pots Co? Or commission a special Christmas Gift for a loved one?
Regan Thacker, Dusky blue skies
The custom-made eat-as-you-go healthy food group, Wok to Walk, opens the hottest show in town with its first restaurant in Coventry on Friday, 15 November.
Wok to Walk prides itself in offering something a little bit different, serving simple, sizzling Asian food in a flash. The new restaurant, in the heart of Coventry at 2 Cross Cheaping, has created 11 jobs, seats 38 and will be open until late every night.
Wok to Walk aims to give customers total flexibility and involve them in the cooking experience through the use of open kitchens.
Explains Wok to Walk’s Coventry manager, Hassan Kamara: “We’re about firing up fresh, healthy ingredients, before your very eyes. Customers design their recipe picking the base, ingredients and sauce of their choice, and we stir it on the spot. All sorts of cravings are welcome: our 3-step menu has thousands of possible combinations!”
Hassan added: “But that’s not the only thing we’re known for. We’re also referred to as the hottest show in town! Our fearless wokkists love to play with fire, and that’s what they do while cooking customers’ delicious custom recipes. There are options for everyone, from vegans to meat lovers. Each meal is prepared in less than five minutes, so it is fast but, make no mistake, this is not fast food.”
Wok to Walk offers rice and noodle bases cooked with a choice of meat, fish and vegetables, with a selection of sauces stirred through. Options include udon noodles with prawns, bamboo shoots and teriyaki sauce, and brown rice with tofu, broccoli and Asian hot sauce. Meals can be eaten inside or taken out.
Wok to Walk’s first restaurant opened its doors in Amsterdam in 2004 and is now one of the leading noodle food groups with over 70 outlets around the world. It has restaurants in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Reading.
Santa Claus is back in town this Christmas with Imagine Theatre’s festive family show Santa’s Dizzy Day returning to the Belgrade Theatre. Last staged at the Belgrade in 2014, this interactive, song-filled production offers little ones an ideal introduction to the magic of live theatre.
Aimed at kids aged 2-6, Imagine Theatre’s popular Santa shows have fast become something of a seasonal tradition for Coventry families, each one including a chance to meet Father Christmas himself and receive an early Christmas present.
Previous shows have included Santa’s Sparkly Surprise, Santa’s Mixed-Up Martian, Santa’s Polka dot Pirate and Santa’s Rusty Robot all written by Belgrade panto legend Iain Lauchlan, drawing on his extensive experience in the children’s entertainment industry. In addition to his 25 years writing, directing and performing in pantomime at the Belgrade, Lauchlan created the BAFTA-winning children’s series The Tweenies, and has worked on a wide range of other successful television programmes including Playdays, Fun Song Factory and Fingermouse.
Iain Lauchlan said: “I think it is really important for children to be introduced to theatre at a young age, and even more important that they have a wonderful experience. Santa’s Dizzy Day has been specially designed to get them involved in what is happening in the show, shouting out and joining in with the songs before meeting Santa at the end.”
Coventry-based Imagine Theatre specialises in pantomime and children’s theatre, co-producing the annual Belgrade panto, as well as creating its own shows and supplying sets for productions across the country.
Steve Boden, Managing Director of Imagine Theatre and producer of Santa’s Dizzy Day, said: “Since our ‘Santa’ series first began five years ago, it’s been wonderful to see them go from strength to strength, receiving fabulous feedback from families who have taken their children to see the shows. This year, we’re delighted to be returning to the show that started it all off in 2014, and introducing the story to a whole new audience of little ones.
“Running at around 45 minutes long, it’s great for children who are just a bit too young for panto, combining a Christmas show with a visit to Santa – although in my experience, the adults seem to enjoy it just as much!”
Santa’s Dizzy Day shows at the Belgrade Theatre from Thursday 12 until Tuesday 24 December. Tickets are available to book now by calling the box office on 024 7655 3055, or visiting http://www.belgrade.co.uk where prices are even cheaper.
I have never heard so many people singing along to a show that was not a concert and I loved it!
A multi-award winning West End show, we follow the life of Buddy Holly and his phenomenal rise to fame in just 18 months, culminating in his astounding final performance at Clear Lake Iowa.
What a show! With so many talented actors and musicians, it’s hard to know where to start. Everyone flawlessly played their roles, embodying stars of the past and the people around them. While all the actors shone, a particular mention should go out to Harry Boyd, our narrator who played multiple roles from the radio host to the producer who gave Buddy his big break. He moved seamlessly between roles and a range of accents, making the transitions between roles effortlessly and believably.
Christopher Weeks, playing Buddy Holly, was an uncanny likeness to the late star, his voice and musician skills perfectly embodying the role. He brought an innocence to the role that truly presented Buddy as he was, believing that his talent was made for more than small time music, while remaining humble when he reached fame. Between the friendships, romance and passion, Christopher Weeks portrayal of Buddy made him endearing and admirable.
Along with the actors, the music was brilliant, making me want to jump out of my seat and dance. Thank goodness we finally got that chance at the end, when everyone in the audience was up on their feet and singing their hearts out.
From the 50s costumes to the sets, it felt like I was really at a concert back in the day, especially during the second act.
Whether you are a Buddy Holly fan, a lover of the 1950s or even don’t know anything about him, go Johnny go to the Belgrade Theatre and watch this show.
Runs at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry until Saturday 9th November 2019
Photo credit: Buddy-The Buddy Holly Story team
The boots have been filled for Belgrade’s panto of the year, Puss in Boots!
Writer and director, Iain Lauchlan, returns with his 25th panto for the Belgrade Theatre, along with a brilliant cast that are sure to have us feline great during this festive season (it’s November, so basically Christmas and yes, do expect many cat puns to come).
Lauchlan returns alongside Craig Hollingsworth, back on stage as Matilda and Simon Puddings, a son and mother duo journeying in search Puss in Boots to help them save their village of Baggy Bottom on the Bog from cat-astrophe, as it is threatened by a treacherous ogre and his notorious henchman, played by Peter Watts.
Cast in the infamous role of Puss in Boots will be Joanna Thorne, who Belgrade panto fans will recognise as Sleeping Beauty’s Prince from last year. Aiding our heroes will be Aimee Louise Bevan, acting as Fairy Flutterby who wants to defeat the villainous pair.
Miriam Grace Edwards, a recurring actor in B2 alternative Christmas shows, will play the role of Princess Sophia, with her father being played by David Gilbrook, otherwise known as King Collin.
Along with the ensemble roles done by Ema Astarloa, Dylan Hones and Daniel Teague, they will be supported by a Junior Chorus of local children aged 9-16.
If it is anything like Belgrade’s previous pantos, then it is sure to be the purrfect event to get you feeling ready for the festive season. Full of hilarious hijinks, fantastical costumes and a classic story retold, Puss in Boots is not one to be missed.
With a cast like this, Puss in Boots is sure to be one that will leave you feline great!
Now the cat’s out of the bag, go and book your tickets today.
Puss in Boots shows at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry from Wednesday 27 November until Saturday 11 January.
Photo credit: Belgrade Theatre
An emotional rollercoaster from the start, My Beautiful Launderette followed the story of Omar (Omar Malik) and Johnny (Jonny Fines), two young men trying to find their place in the world and prove what they are worth, all while previous feelings are being rekindled between them.
Set against the backdrop of London during the Thatcher years, My Beautiful Launderette explored sexuality, gender inequality, cultural conflicts and many other topics that were revolutionary for the 1980s, when the screenplay was originally released.
From the moment I walked in the theatre, I was curious to know what was happening. Amongst the grey, graffitied set was a man in bed, while three other men lay on the floor, before the show even began. Everything about it was visually stunning, capturing the midst of London one minute and hopping to several different households the next. The set was brilliant, constantly being moved around and completely transforming the scenes.
The true stand out of the play were the actors. Each perfectly captured their role, whether they were playing one or multiple characters. Omar and Jonny played their characters in a way that slowly built up the romantic tension, making the audience root for them and eager to confess their feelings. Though their relationship was a secret, it was one of hope for a better future and showed the tender side of their characters, as well as laddish banter.
While the main focus of the play was their relationship and building up their business, the sub plots really stood out, each leaving you wondering how they would resolve throughout. From Tania (Nicole Jebeli) determined to break the traditional female role to Nasser’s (Kammy Darweish) unraveling affair, every moment challenged ideas of tradition, love and cultural tensions. Each topic was flawlessly dealt with and left me thinking long after the play was done.
If you are a fan of the screenplay, romances or just looking for an enjoyable night out, go and see My Beautiful Launderette at the Belgrade Theatre. It is sure to leave you with a warm feeling and tears in your eyes.
My Beautiful Launderette runs at the Belgrade Theatre until Saturday 2nd November 2019
Photo Credit: Ellie Kurttz