Fighting for good in Solihull!

Fighting for good in Solihull!

Rotary Club of Solihull St Alphege, Boxing

Amateur fighters from Solihull are preparing to battle out it in the name of good causes at a charity boxing evening organised by local Rotarians next month.

Young members of Solihull Amateur Boxing Club will compete for judges in eight bouts of four rounds at the annual event, on March 1st, at The National Conference Centre.

The evening, being organised for its 34th year by The Rotary Club of Solihull St Alphege, is expected to raise several thousand pounds for national and local causes including Young Carers Solihull, Shelterbox, Aquabox, Rayner House Newspaper and Young Rotary Photographer of the Year.

Rotary Club of Solihull St Alphege, Boxing

Phil Barham, Chairman, Boxing Committee and member of St Alphege, Solihull, Rotary Club for 14 years, said: “It’s great to see the event return. Last time we raised more than £5,000 so we’re hoping to do as well or even exceed that figure this year.

“This is a traditional fundraising event for the Rotary Club of Solihull St Alphege and is always successful, raising more than £287,000 in total. It offers a great chance for

businesspeople to get together with friends and colleagues and have a good night out as well as enjoy the boxing. Some people have been coming for 34 years!”

Raffles will also take place on the night, including the chance to win a £750 cash prize.

Paul Archer, of Solihull Amateur Boxing Club, said: “The club has been supplying the boxing for the Rotary club boxing dinner shows for the last 14 years or more. These shows help sustain our community club which helps to keep young girls and boys off the streets, giving them a safe place to train and keep fit and healthy whilst instilling the hard work ethic. We would like to thank Solihull St Alphege Rotary Club for supporting us.”

Tickets to the black tie event, which include a meal, are available by contacting Rotarian David Newman at rcssta.boxing@gmail.com. Sponsorship and advertising in the souvenir programme is also available. Contact Rotarian David Caldicott for details at: david.caldicott@sky.com

Anyone interested in hearing more about The Rotary Club of Solihull St Alphege, is invited to contact Norman Kaphan at norman@kaphan.co.uk or visit:

www.rotarystalphege.org.uk

Friends put their weight behind charity challenge for school

Friends put their weight behind charity challenge for school

Rowing machine, Henley School

Two good sports from Hatton are ‘pulling’ together to raise money for a cause close to their hearts.

Friends Grace Lessard and Charlotte Foss have pledged to row the length of the River Avon within six weeks to fund new equipment for their school in Henley-in-Arden.

And the girls, aged 13 and 12, already have the finishing line in sight – without even getting their feet wet!

They have already clocked up nearly 50 miles of their combined 83-mile challenge and raised £1,200 of the £1,500 target. It follows regular twice-weekly sessions on the rowing machines at Everyone Active gym in Warwick.

Grace said: “At the end of last year we entered the south Warwickshire Rowing Competition for our school with no experience of rowing. We are very proud of where we placed but would like to improve for the next competition.

“We are therefore fundraising so our school can buy two rowing machines and other PE equipment. Doing this will not only benefit the school’s rowing teams but will enable all students at Henley to discover new sports and enable to PE department to widen its curriculum.”

Charlotte added: “We believe it is extremely important to keep fit, whether at home or at school as it helps improve the mental health and physical wellbeing of pupils. It gets students awake at the beginning and end of the day.

“We know it is important to look after your mental wellbeing because it improves learning skills and memory. It is also important that you broaden horizons for the future and by doing this we believe we can help the school.”

The fundraising stunt has also captured the attention of the Morrisons community fundraising team in Leamington who have donated a hamper of goodies for the girls to raffle off for further funds towards the cause.

Rowing machine, Henley in Arden School
Alex Pearson, community fundraiser at Morrisons, presents the hamper to Charlotte and Grace at Henley School

Joseph Roper, Associate Headteacher at Henley-in-Arden School, said: “I am so proud of Grace and Charlotte for their inspiring fundraising efforts for the school – to help us purchase facilities that will further benefit the students. They have shown resilience, kindness and community sprit throughout their time at Henley so far and this is a great continuation of this. Well done girls!”

Grace’s mum Emma added: “I am unbelievably proud of the girls. They are such an inspiration and are working incredibly hard so the whole school will benefit.”

Donations can be made by visiting here

Take possession of rare Banksy print – for a mere £50k!

Take possession of rare Banksy print – for a mere £50k!

Banksy, Lambert Fine Art, Stratford

A rare artwork by pseudonymous street artist Banksy is on sale at a Stratford-upon-Avon gallery – and it could be hanging on your wall for a mere £50,000!

Lambert Fine Art, in Bell Court, has taken possession of Grannies, one of only a couple of examples of his work that come onto the open market each year.

Published by Pictures On Walls, the framed 57.5×76.5cm limited-edition print from 2006, was obtained by the gallery through a mysterious ‘private source’ linked to the artist and comes complete with a certificate of authentication.

Rendered in Banksy’s signature black and white stencil style, the pair of grannies are set against a block pink background, serving to heighten the humorous contradiction between scene and message, a technique mastered by the artist.

Director Mark Lambert said: “We are so excited to bring to the market this wonderful piece. I have personally sold many prints by Banksy over the years including an original spray work on canvas which in today’s market would be worth millions.

“This Banksy titled ‘Grannies’ is truly exceptional and in perfect condition. It’s framed and glazed with museum quality glass to protect the work for the future.”

“We are also very lucky to be working with the neo-psychedelic-cosmic-abstract-expressionist street artist Sickboy who personally worked with Banksy on many of his shows including The Bristol Museum exhibition and Dismaland in Weston-Super-Mare.”

Banksy, Lambert Fine Art, Stratford
Mark Lambert outside his gallery in Stratford’s Bell Court.

Active since the 1990s, Banksy’s works of political and social commentary have appeared on streets, walls and bridges throughout the world but the identity of the England-based artist remains unknown.

Banksy’s paintings at auction set numerous records. However, the most expensive piece ever sold at auction was the seminal Love is in the Bin which famously went for £18.6m in 2021 at Sotheby’s.

Picasso, Degas, Monet, Warhol, Lowry, Renoir and Henry Moore are among some of the other international artists handled by Mark Lambert, who opened his first dealership in Stratford’s Bell Court in November. The gallery specialises in original 19th-21st Century works as well as contemporary paintings and sculpture from Royal Academy level artists.

Mark, from Knowle, has 24 years in the art business, having previously worked for two of the UK’s top international art dealerships, galleries including in The Cotswolds, London, New York and San Francisco and is connected with the major auction houses around the world such as Bonhams, Christies and Sotheby’s.

He said: “We truly believe that now is the time to bring the very finest examples of high-end original paintings and sculptures to Stratford-Upon-Avon which is something that has been missing for many years, as well as bringing with it our wealthy clients.”

Review: The Bush Hotel, Farnham

Review: The Bush Hotel, Farnham

The Bush Hotel, Farnham

As a guest of The Bush Hotel in Farnham you enjoy the best of all worlds. Steeped in history but embracing contemporary design and offering a personal touch in the way that only an independent family-run hotel can.

Surrounded by the Surrey hills and nestled in its own private gardens in the heart of this attractive historic town, the hotel still feels like it’s away from the hustle and bustle of the high street, with its quiet and relaxed ambience.

After parking in the secure – and free – car park at the rear, the first feature we noticed as we headed down the path was the beautiful ivy-clad original elevation which overlooks the private garden lawns and terrace area.

The Bush Hotel, Farnham

Inside more than lives up to initial impressions and a warm welcome on a chilly January Saturday strikes exactly the right note for the stay ahead. The interior is adorned with original features and there’s an abundance of history and character to be appreciated in every room of the main building, including 17th century beams and exposed wall frescos.

This individuality and charm also extends to the hotel’s 94 bedrooms, each, I’m told, uniquely designed, our Bush Suite being the largest and grandest room located in the oldest and most characterful part of the hotel. Elegantly decorated, the opulence of space and contemporary décor was a welcome touch of luxury. I particularly appreciated the walk-in wardrobe, also containing a mini fridge and safe. And as for that sumptuous bed, well, a full night’s sleep is all but guaranteed!

Nice too to have the option of a soak in the bath after a busy day exploring.

The Bush Hotel, Farnham

A pre-dinner tipple in the intimate Bush Bar was the perfect way to whet our appetites. It’s also an incredibly comfortable space in which to hang out with a roaring fire on the go, an unobtrusive wall-mounted TV showing sports, for those who want it, and tasty bar snacks, local ales and sommelier-selected wine list available.

The attractive Garden Restaurant and Oak Lounge offer all-day dining options, with seasonal menus for lunch and dinner as well as afternoon tea. The Garden Restaurant is where we enjoyed a hearty breakfast – a combination of cold buffest items and a good choice of freshly cooked hot plates from the menu. The perfect start to the day.

The Bush Hotel, Farnham
Ham Hock Croquettes

But it was the dinner menu, taken on this occasion in The Oak Lounge, that posed a challenge – what to choose? Classic British dishes done well is the mantra here – think Fish and Chips, Bush Burger, Chicken Supreme, Sirloin Steak as well as Braised Pig Cheeks, Beetroot and Brie Tart and Pan-fried Seabass. Prices range from a palatable £16.50 through to £25 (for the steak).

From the Small Plates Menu we opted for Ham Hock Croquettes, which were flavoursome and plentiful (perhaps too plentiful for a starter) and Sweet Potato Falafels, served with hummus and toasted croutes. While these lacked in flavour, I feel that any of the alternatives – Asian chicken, Mini Fish Bons Bons, Skewered Prawns or Homemade Soup of the Day may have proved a better bet on the tongue.

I’m convinced I chose my main well, however, with the Bush Cottage Pie – served piping hot with buttered greens and rich thyme gravy – I was relieved I’d resisted the temptation earlier in the day to snack as this was a very generous sized portion and I wanted to devour it all. Mission not accomplished however since I’d already spotted Apple Tarte Tatin on the Desserts Menu and absolutely had to make room. No regrets here! Hubby’s Pan-Fried Seabass was also a hit, beautifully enriched by the flavour of the noodles peppers, sugar snaps, onions and chili stir fry it was served with.

He was equally as satisfied with his Sticky Toffee Pudding, served with lashings of toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream – another British favourite that didn’t disappoint.

The Bush Hotel, Farnham
The Bush Cottage Pie

Chocolate and Raspberry Fondant with raspberry sorbet; Seasonal Berries Cheesecake with berry compote and Selection of Cheeses made up the other options. Priced at £7 – and £9.50 for the cheeses.

With a Light Bites Menu offering the likes of Minute Steak, Smoked Salmon Ciabatta and Fish Finger Sandwich, among others, there’s every excuse to call in for lunch when in the area too.

The Bush Hotel forms part of Farnham’s Heritage Walk and should be anyone’s stay of choice while in the area. It punches way above its three-star rating.

The Bush Hotel, Farnham
Pan-fried Seabass

And if you have time to explore, be sure to spend a couple of hours at The Sculpture Park in nearby Churt. With more than 650 contemporary sculptures from 300 internationally renowned artists displayed throughout 10 acres of arboretum and water gardens, this makes for a fascinating stop-off. This hidden gem provides a tranquil and peaceful escape for anyone who enjoys art and nature and is open all year round.

The Bush Hotel, Farnham
The Sculpture Park in nearby Churt

There’s also a delightful country inn, Bel & The Dragon directly across the street so perfect for pre- or post-visit refreshments.

Known for its Georgian streets, historic buildings and craft heritage, Farnham offers you the chance to enjoy quintessential England – and only an hour from the capital. Designated in 2013 as ‘England’s Craft Town,’ the roots of Farnham’s engagement with crafts can be dates back to the time when the town exported white clay to the Romans. Fast forward to today and craft still sits at the heart of its distinctiveness. If, like me, you’re never happier than whilst whiling away hours in craft centres and markets, this place is a must visit.

The Bush Hotel, Farnham
The Garden Restaurant

Other points of interest while in the area:

Waverley Abbey – England’s first Cistercian abbey still gives an impression of the solitude experienced by the monks who founded a monastery here almost 900 years ago.

Farnham Castle – Founded in 1138 and sits above the town.

Museum of Farnham -The vast range of artefacts from the town include a mammoth’s tusk and skull cap worn by Charles I during his stay at Vernon House, on his way to his trial and execution.

Birdworld – This 26-acre park is home to hundreds of unusual birds, a fabulous farm and an aquarium.

The Rural Life Centre – A museum of past village life set in over 10 acres of garden and woodland and plays host to numerous events throughout the year.

Markets – From the award-winning certified farmers’ market to the Maltings Monthly Market, there’s usually plenty of opportunity to browse local goods and produce.

Review: Moxy Chester and Artezzan Restaurant and Bar

Review: Moxy Chester and Artezzan Restaurant and Bar

Moxy Hotels, as a brand of Marriott, are designed to stand out from the crowd and Moxy Chester is no different.

Just a five-minute walk from the city centre and train station, first impressions upon arriving at the hotel are positive. Themed throughout with stylish nods to its locality near the racecourse, a stunning steel horse installation and series of murals themed on racing set the vibe for our stay.  A unique artist’s interpretation of the infamous Shot Tower landmark has also been specially created inside.

One might say Moxys are proud to be different and are a particularly good choice of stay for the seasoned traveller who seek practicality, but not at the expense of comfort. Moxy Chester has been cleverly designed to work with our modern-day ways of living, from the Grab and Go 24/7 snacks and beverages stand to the bar which doubles a check-in, communal ironing rooms and multi-use lobby area where you can eat your breakfast or drink the night away with friends or chill with one of the games or books available.

Moxy Chester, Marriott

The mezzanine level continues the relaxed vibe upstairs with more squashy sofas and quiet corners but, if you’re feeling competitive, there’s also a pool and football table and board games, as well as books, at your disposal.

Our Moxy experience gets off to the best possible start with the offer of a complimentary welcome cocktail to settle us in. Very welcome indeed following our two-hour road trip and a great way to kick off the mini break.

I love the playful spirit of this small chain boutique hotel which succeeds in setting a relaxed vibe throughout your stay – even for dog owners.

Moxy Chester,Marriott

The stripped back contemporary theme continues into the rooms, which are cleverly designed to maximise every inch of space, including wall hanging pegs. Better suited for shorter stays in my view but there’s also a small hanging area as well for dresses and suits. The space is also equipped with flat screen TVs, built-in USB ports and nifty motion-activated LED guidelights around the bed. Perfect for those trips to the bathroom in the dead of night.

Moxy Chester, Marriott

A stand-out touch was the personalised welcome message on our bathroom mirrors. (We were asked about our hobbies beforehand!) Very instagrammable!

The location is perfect with a pretty 10-minute canal-side walk into town – and even a Waitrose literally across the way for those inevitable emergency purchase of forgotten toothbrush or other sundry item!

Moxy Chester, Marriott

Verdict

This 194-bedroom boutique hotel overlooking the canal, is an ideal clean, fresh and modern base for both the weary business traveller and city tourist. But for those looking for rooms in which they can spread out in plenty of personal space, luxuriate in a hot bath or enjoy a spa treatment, there are more suitable options.

Visit Moxy Chester here

Artezzan Restaurant and Bar, Chester

Dining

When in Rome (well Chester!) and seeking that special meal out, I urge you to look no further than Artezzan Restaurant and Bar.

Just 15 minutes’ walk from the hotel (or, in our case, an inexpensive Uber ride) it’s clear to see why this culinary oasis achieves the holy grail of five stars in TripAdvisor. What a find!

Artezzan takes an honest approach to Mediterranean inspired food served in a modern, fresh and feel-good way. Its unique dining experience even extends to food preparation at your table, for certain dishes. And the team make it their mission to ensure all your needs are met throughout your time in the restaurant.

Artezzan Restaurant and Bar, Chester

The food and drinks menus are extensive and delightfully varied with plenty of vegan and vegetarian options as well, something welcomed by my vegetarian companion who is more often than not faced with slim pickings.

My Lamb Shank Tajine, which blended the meat with authentic Moroccan spices, mint and pomegranate pearl couscous, apricot and sweet potato stew and candied pine kernels, was simply divine, albeit too hearty to polish off. Plus I had spied the desserts menu early on and was determined to leave space for the Loukoumades (lightly fried Greek doughnuts rolled in cinnamon sugar and a biscuit crumb with choice of dipping sauce.)

Artezzan also enjoys a reputation for its mixology prowess and we were delighted to be able to sample from their splendid range of signature cocktails.

Artezzan Restaurant and Bar, Chester

Artezzan delivers the very definition of the foodie ‘experience’ where you can sit back, soak up the cool vibe and watch the theatre of cooking, pizza tossing and cocktail making going on all around you.

Although not ordered by us, a real highlight was observing the preparation of the Artezzan Grand Carbonara – flambeed with aged grappa and rolled in a huge wheel of Grana Padano cheese and served, at a neighbouring table.

When in Chester, be sure to include this on your itinerary. You won’t regret it.

Visit here

One of Artezzan’s signature cocktails

In The Area

Chester’s City Walls are the longest and most complete in Britain and offer great vantage points from which to appreciate the city’s main sights. They can be accessed via four main gateways, including Eastgate, site of the world-famous Eastgate clock, apparently the second most photographed clock in the UK after Big Ben.

Further along the walls overlook Chester Racecourse, aka The Roodee, the oldest working racecourse in Britain, set in the former Roman harbour. Fun fact – this is allegedly the place where the term gee-gees was first coined after Sir Henry Gee, who first allowed racing to take place here in the 16th Century.

Moxy Chester,Marriott

Other highlights of the city include The Grosvenor Museum with its collection of Roman gravestones and stories of gladiators in pictures and words; Chester Zoo – one of the most visited attractions in the UK; Grosvenor Park and its open-air theatre; Chester Basin or take a stroll along the River Dee.

For us though, shopping was at the top of our agenda so we headed to the city centre, including The Rows, a unique medieval network of open galleries at first floor level that line the main streets. We also spent our final day at Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet, just outside the city near Ellesmere Port. The UK’s first designer outlet opened in 1995 and remains its largest. You’ll need comfy shoes for this one – but if you don’t have them packed – you won’t be short of choice here.