Purr-fect family Christmas celebrations at cat café!

Purr-fect family Christmas celebrations at cat café!

THE owners of a cat café in Stratford have decided to create the purr-fect family Christmas by bringing the celebrations to their extended family – of cats.

Jayne Richman-Bolt and Rio Roberts are locking the door on their home in Alcester and bringing family and friends – and Christmas dinner – to Shakespaw in Union Street.

The ten resident kitties will also be treated to a turkey dinner for the private family Christmas with a difference.

Shakespaw Cat Cafe, Jayne Richman-Bolt, Rio Roberts
Jayne Richman-Bolt and Rio Roberts

The café which marked its first anniversary last month, works in close partnership with Pepper’s Pet Rescue in Halesowen and acts as a feline foster facility while new ‘forever homes’ are found, often through customers.

Rio is aided by a cat carer manager who carries out weekly weight and health checks on all the cats as well as a band of keen volunteers who take their turns on ‘cat cuddling’ duty every evening. And in those rare midnight hours with no adult company, there’s even a cat cam keeping a watchful eye on their antics.

Jayne said: “The cats are family so we treat them that way. We will cook the food at home and transport it to the café so we’re able to spend the maximum amount of time with them.

“The cats are already enjoying Christmas and have been having great fun swinging off the paper chains we have made even though we hung them as high as we could from the ceilings!”

Manager Rio, who has been known to sleep overnight to settle in new cats at the café, now runs regular community events, including tarot card reading sessions, Wednesday craft clubs and, in the school holidays, cupcake decorating workshops for children.

Rio said: “When we initially opened a lot of people didn’t really understand what a cat café was. Some people thought it meant you could bring your own cats – or even dogs. But the idea has quickly caught on and it is going down really well. We have people in here now from all over the world.”

Shakespaw is closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Visit at http://shakespawcatcafe.com

To find out more about Pepper’s Pet Rescue or to make a donation, contact Sophie at: pepperspetrescue@hotmail.com

A show to really immerse yourself in!

A show to really immerse yourself in!

JUST when you think you’ve seen all types of show after nigh on 30 years of reviewing, along comes Club 2B – a theatrical experience like no other.

Club 2B, Belgrade Theatre

This immersive performance not only smashes through that fourth wall but actively encourages the audience to become a part of the story and even explore the room as the action unfolds around you.

Seated at cabaret-style tables in the Belgrade’s flexible B2 auditorium, the scene is immediately set for an interesting – and intriguing – night ahead, complete with food, drink, live music and gaming tables.

First the story. It’s a bit loose to be honest. It’s a retelling of Zeus and Hera’s search for happiness via godly embodiments of historical figures such as Lady Godiva and Marilyn Monroe. Yes, you read it right!

Club 2B’s mysterious owner Z is not all he seems. This larger-than-life, charismatic figure is none other than Zeus, the Greek king of gods and men, descended from the heavens in human form and driven by his love for the goddess Hera. Taking on the form of any man or woman, we watch as their story of passion, jealousy and revenge plays out across the ages.

Berlgrade Theatre, Club 2B
Aimee Powell (Daisy) and Corey Campbell (Zeus). Photo by Robert Day.

It does take a while to get going. The snack plate (don’t skip your dinner for this) and interaction with cast members mingling at the tables, goes only so far to detracting from this, but one does find themselves wondering when the show has officially started.

The good news is, when it does, it’s worth waiting for and we are in for a treat. The talent of this small but strong cast shines through with a stunning mix of music and storytelling all around us, capturing our imaginations.

Belgrade Theatre, Club 2B

The addition of gaming tables (you are given playing chips) is a clever touch – although it’s easy to lose your focus on the action around you. Still, I won a glass of wine for my troubles so worth it!

The show is helmed by Strictly Arts Artistic Director Corey Campbell, his first developed at the Belgrade since his appointment as one of the Theatre’s three Co-Artistic Directors for Coventry’s year as City of Culture in 2021.

Iona Coburn, Meg Forgan, Aimee Powell, Charis McRoberts and Katy Anna-Southgate make up the rest of the cast but it’s Forgan’s stand-out vocal segment as Marilyn Monroe that stole the show for me – and many others – on the night. The girls also share an obvious rapport and joy in their roles, which is definitely infectious.

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Club 2B
Iona Coburn (Hera), Aimee Powell (Daisy) and Charis McRoberts (Godiva). Photo: Robert Day.

It’s not one for the introvert. Anyone is fair game to be pulled up for a dance or become part of the performance, but it’s part of this show’s charm.

This marks a proud world premiere for the Belgrade Theatre, running until 31st December. Tickets are available to book now by calling the box office on 024 7655 3055 or visiting www.club2b.co.uk.

Escape room fun – Hatton have it cracked!

Escape room fun – Hatton have it cracked!

WE all feel like escaping reality sometimes (particularly in the current climate!)

Even for those who have thus far evaded the escape rooms phenomenon, there’s no denying they have grown massively in popularity over recent years and it’s a concept we’re now all familiar with.

For my family, it is not so new however. We’re seasoned ‘escapees’ now having succeeded – and failed – in a wide variety of themed rooms over recent years.

So it was with a sense of cautious optimism that we signed up for Mutiny, one of the new Tulleys escape rooms which recently opened around the corner from us at Hatton Adventure World in Warwick.

Hatton Escape Rooms, Mutiny, Tulleys
We made it out – just – in time!

As the name would suggest, the game adopts a pirate theme and after a short introduction and scene setter, we were ‘locked’ in and left to our own devices – and wits – to make it out again in under an hour.

It’s daunting how quickly those seconds tick down and you realise there’s no time for a casual approach to the game. We are straight in identifying the clues and cracking those all-important codes, leaving no stone unturned. Or so we thought. . .

It was slow progress at first as we tried to make sense of the maps on the wall, a jigsaw of symbols and various other puzzles and codes. And it’s difficult to measure success because you don’t know how many rooms await, each with its own new set of challenges and puzzles.

Avoiding spoilers, I’ll leave it at that – but let’s just say – Mutiny throws plenty at you!

The theming is among one of the better escape rooms I’ve encountered and difficulty level was about right for our family of four (youngest 14) – although having been informed it is the easier of Hatton’s two rooms, I do worry for our next visit as we only made it out with literally seconds to spare! And you really do feel the pressure.

Clues are available on request (parrot fashion!) and don’t be too proud to use them sometimes when, as we did, you hit a mental block on certain puzzles. But you’re in control of the game so can ask for as much or as little help as you need.

Exhilarating and frustrating in equal measure, successfully completing this quest requires top teamworking and communication skills as well as lateral thinking in abundance.

And it’s teamwork that really is at the heart of a successful escape. As those minutes disappear and the pressure mounts, it’s important to play to each other’s strengths. Divide and conquer but also work together when required for the best chance of results – or you’ll definitely have mutiny on your hands.

Mutiny is one of the best fun escape room experiences we’ve enjoyed as a family – (there’s even hidden bones and a firing cannon and physical challenges!) and, in what is fast becoming a crowded market, would highly recommend it.

They offer vouchers too so a nice idea for a Christmas present for that impossible to buy for person. Details here.

Counting down to South Pole Challenge for Molly Olly’s Wishes

Counting down to South Pole Challenge for Molly Olly’s Wishes

AIMING to raise £20,000 for children’s charity Molly Olly’s Wishes, businessman Dean Attwell is undertaking a gruelling three-week expedition to the South Pole, with every penny donated to the charity supporting children with terminal or life-threatening illness.

Self-funded and leaving on Monday 30th December, Dean, the Group Chief Executive of Redditch-based business Oakland International, said: “I know that we all get constantly bombarded with charitable donation requests, but I urge everyone to stop and take a look at Molly Olly’s Wishes, and when you do, you’ll see why I am pushing so hard to raise money for this great charity.”

Dean Attwell, Oakland International, Molly Olly's Wishes
Dean Atwell in training for his South Pole Challenge.

Molly Olly’s Wishes was founded by Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw following the death of their daughter Molly Ollerenshaw who was diagnosed with a Wilms tumour. Sadly, following her five-year battle Molly passed away in 2011.

The charity grants individual wishes to children ranging from providing specialist equipment to help with day to day living, to alternative therapy treatment, and by granting wishes to ensure a child doesn’t become isolated. They have also created a therapeutic toy lion, Olly The Brave, and book, ‘Olly The Brave And The Wigglys’, to help with a child’s emotional well-being at the start of their treatment journey, which are donated to hospitals and individuals across the UK. In just two months the charity has received 79 wish requests. Wishes can vary from a request for a hoist for a hot tub to ease chronic muscle pain, to a bed, wig or a visit from a child’s superhero.

Molly aged eight.

Molly Olly’s Wishes Co-founder and Trustee Rachel Ollerenshaw commented: “Molly Olly’s Wishes are extremely grateful to Dean and all the team at Oakland for their support. This is an incredible challenge that Dean is taking on and we wish him every success. Every day children and families that Molly Olly’s help face physical and emotional challenges that they have no choice about. The money raised will help make those dark days brighter. Our work would not be possible without the kindness and generosity of companies and individuals and the wishes and Olly the Brave packs that make a real difference to children’s emotional well- being.”

Undertaking a demanding training regime leading up to the expedition, these last few weeks have seen training increase to ensure Dean can deal with the extremes of weather, temperatures and icy and snowy conditions he’ll find at the South Pole.


Dean Attwell, Oakland International, Molly Olly's Wishes

Said Dean: “We’ll be skiing up to 10 hours a day at an altitude of approximately 3,100m before we finally arrive at the South Pole on the 14th January 2019.

“Molly Olly’s Wishes has helped over 1,500 children ranging in ages from 0-18 across the country and donated Olly the Brave therapeutic toys and books to over 50 UK hospitals. All expedition costs are covered, so every penny donated goes directly to support the work of Molly Olly’s Wishes which does such amazing work.

“Thank you everyone in advance for donating as it means a great deal to me personally and to the many children the charity supports every day!”

To donate and support Dean please visit his fundraising page: https://lnkd.in/eNCwNjX and you can follow Dean’s training journey on Facebook: oakintuk Twitter: OaklandIntUK LinkedIn: oakland-international-limited

You can find out more about Molly Olly’s Wishes by visiting visit: https://www.mollyolly.co.uk/

Latest panto is the cat’s pyjamas!

Latest panto is the cat’s pyjamas!

PANTOMIME season is upon us and one of the best every year in my opinion is The Belgrade Theatre’s offering. And Puss in Boots has real welly.

In fact, the production’s first return to the Coventry stage since 1991, proves to be the purr-fect way of getting us all into the festive spirit.

It’s in no small part due to the talent of the show’s writer, director and Dame Iain Lauchlan who this year celebrates his landmark 25th Belgrade pantomime.

Peter Watts as Victor Grabbit and ensemble. Photo by Robert Day.

This thrilling adventure ‘tail’ follows the adventures of a crafty cat in fabulous footwear who rescues the village of Baggy Bottom on the Bog from the clutches of an evil ogre and his horrible henchman, Victor Grabbit.

Lauchlan is reunited with comedy co-star Craig Hollingsworth in the roles of miller’s wife Matilda Pudding and her would-be rap star son, Simon. The pair’s chemistry never fails to win over audiences – I don’t even mind the repetition of their refreshed scene sequences each year as they don’t stop being funny.

Joanna Thorne as Puss in Boots and Peter Watts as Victor Grabbit. Photo by Robert Day.

Joanna Thorne is back getting her claws into the role of Puss in Boots following her stint as the handsome prince in last year’s Sleeping Beauty and Peter Watts makes a suitably wicked panto villain as the Ogre’s henchman, Victor Grabbit.

The show is packed with amazing sets, crazy costumes, music, magic and so much more, plus a rather clever metamorphosing ogre to catch our attention later on. Intrigued?

And there’s a clever twist which proved effective in engaging even the older child (I dragged my 14-year-old along who ended up loving it) with the chance of a big screen appearance! A few people’s ‘ogre selfies’ tagged in to Hollingsworth’s Instagram alter ego rap character Baggy B, were shared to audiences in the second act – to riotous laughter and applause.

And the spectacular set was a fitting backdrop to the five star fun. Congratulations all round for another fun-packed festive hit.

Craig Hollingsworth, Iain Lauchlan and David Gillbrook. Photo by Robert Day.

Puss in Boots shows at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry until Saturday, 11th January. Tickets are available to book now by calling the box office on 024 7655 3055 or visiting www.belgrade.co.uk where prices are cheaper.