Makers to ‘pop up’ at theatre’s outdoor market

Makers to ‘pop up’ at theatre’s outdoor market

ALL things bright and beautiful are arriving in Coventry with the Belgrade Theatre’s first Outdoor Makers’ Market from 11am-4pm on Saturday 29 August.

Organised by Craft On, the Belgrade’s resident needlecraft for wellbeing group, the event will see 16 local artists and makers assemble to sell their wares outside the theatre in Belgrade Square.

Pop-up craft shop, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

A wide range of handmade items will be available to browse and purchase, including greetings cards, wall plaques, paintings, jewellery, dolls, dreamcatchers, felt and fused glass ornaments, knitted baby clothes and accessories, and more.

The event is child-friendly and free to attend. Throughout the day, the Belgrade café bar will also be open and serving a selection of snacks and drinks which you can enjoy either outdoors or inside the theatre’s spacious foyers.

A wet-weather contingency plan has also been putting place, allowing the market to take place inside the building while maintaining social distancing, should it be unable to go ahead outside as planned.

Pop-up craft shop, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Craft On group leader Niki Doughty Lee, who is managing bookings for the pop-up shops as well as the Makers’ Market, said: “We’re grateful to the Belgrade Theatre for all they’ve done to accommodate our weekly craft sessions and to support and promote our work, so we’re delighted to be able to help them in return as COVID restrictions start to lift. We hope events like this will send a clear message that the theatre is now open and accessible to the community, even if shows are still unable to go ahead.

“I set up Craft On with the aim of reducing isolation and promoting mental wellbeing in Coventry – something which has never been more important than it is now that we are beginning to emerge from lockdown. Theatres like the Belgrade play a vital role in holding the community together, so we want to do everything we can to help keep them going through this difficult period and ensure their work can continue in the future.”

The Outdoor Makers’ Market will take place in Belgrade Square from 11am-4pm on Saturday 29 August. For any enquiries, email needlecraftforwellbeing@gmail.com.

Good option for entertaining the family in post-pandemic school holidays

Good option for entertaining the family in post-pandemic school holidays

AS we’re still getting to grips with the realities of a post-pandemic lifestyle – while the rest of the school holidays span ahead of us – there are now fewer ways that we’re comfortable in spending our family time.

So when Go Ape in Coventry recently reopened after lockdown it presented a tempting option in our ‘neck of the woods.’

Go Ape, Coombe Abbey Country Park, COVID-19, safety measures, Coventry

Set in 500 acres of historic woodlands at Coombe Abbey Country Park, there is no shortage of excitement – but also with a choice of courses for different thrill levels.

My teenage sons and three friends took on the Tree Top Challenge which is open to all experience levels (over 1.4 metres). But this doesn’t mean it’s a pushover for the more confident adventurers as there’s a mix of crossings cleverly designed to test everyone’s limits.

If you’re supervising someone younger, you’re not restricted to following in all their footsteps as the crossings do split off in various places offering different challenge levels while reuniting at the other end.

Go Ape, Coombe Abbey Country Park, COVID-19, safety measures, Coventry

And, despite traversing a few of Go Ape’s 35 courses over the years, the boys were delighted by Coombe’s new elements, such as a dual Tarzan swing and the exclusive Alpine zip-to-zip – a series of zip wires. Exclusive to Coventry, this feature soon has you swinging through trees with abandon, culminating in a 200m double zip course landing. Plummet – a vertical drop from a 12-metre-high platform is currently suspended but, from previous experience, I can report, is particularly exhilarating.

 

The zip to zip provides a thrilling finale to a course that, in my opinion, helps Coombe stand out from the others we’ve experienced.

For the younger ‘apes’ there is also The Tree Top Adventure (for all ages over 1 metre) and Tree Top Adventure + (for six plus and over 1.2 metres).

Compared to our first visit just after it opened last spring, the woodland area has matured and now and, more than ever, participants feel like they’re truly swinging in the trees.

But, in a new climate of cautiousness that’s been forced upon us, did we feel reassured by Go Ape’s COVID safety measures?

The equipment is regularly cleaned, there’s a hand sanitisation station, screens at the booking kiosk and distancing is encouraged between groups on the course. Instructors also wear visors.

Even the pens we borrow to sign the waiver form are deposited back into a separate container for wiping down once we’re finished.

But it’s the peace of mind of the open air and sensible, yet unobtrusive, safety measures that left us feeling comfortable on the day.

What better time than post lockdown to appreciate the freedom of the great outdoors – and from what better vantage point than the canopies of beautiful Coombe Abbey Country Park.

So swing on by, you won’t regret it.

Further details at: https://goape.co.uk/locations/coventry

Can you solve the Murder on. . . the Northern Belle?

Can you solve the Murder on. . . the Northern Belle?

IT’S going to be murder on the Northern Belle, the luxury British train once owned by the Orient Express group, when it pulls into the Midlands this month.

Passengers must use their detection clues to solve a dastardly crime while sipping champagne and tucking into a slap-up seven-course meal.

The Northern Belle, Murder Mystery, Coventry, Birmingham

The Murder Mystery Lunch trip, on March 27th will be the first ever held aboard the train as actors play out a dastardly scene in the 1930s-style Pullman carriages.

“We’re dying to see how it goes,” laughed Northern Belle managing director Jeanette Snape.

“Passengers will have to exercise their little grey cells while they eat lunch to try and discover whodunnit. Even I don’t know the culprit – although I can exclusively reveal that it probably wasn’t the butler this time!

“But even if passengers don’t solve the crime, they’ll still have a great day out. For our chef Matthew Greene has devised a menu to die for!”

The Northern Belle, Murder Mystery, Coventry, Birmingham

The Northern Belle, widely regarded as one of the most luxurious trains in the world, is now celebrating its 20th year of operation.

The seven carriages – one of which was formerly used by the Queen on her Royal Train – are always pulled by a heritage locomotive.

And every year around 18,000 passengers drink their way through 7,000 bottles of champagne and 12,000 bottles of wine.

Jeanette said: “Nothing is too good for them. They are pampered from the moment they step on board to the time we wave goodbye.

“This is travel the way it was in the golden era of railways.”

The Northern Belle, Murder Mystery, Coventry, Birmingham

The train departs from Coventry at 12.05pm before picking up more passengers at Birmingham International at 12.20pm.

It is scheduled back  at Coventry for 5.50pm and then Birmingham at 6.25pm.

The train will be back in Birmingham in April to take passengers for a blooming lovely day out at the Harrogate Flower Show and again in May to the Chelsea Flower Show.

Then dig out your top hats and fascinators, because in June the Northern Belle will take race-goers to Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot.

There will be several more excursions during the summer and autumn before a Christmas Lunch Trip in December.

The Northern Belle will make three more visits to Coventry this year, including one to the Dorset Seafood Festival at Weymouth.

Fares start at £210. For more details see www.northernbelle.co.uk or phone 01270 899681.

REVIEW COMING SOON.

Revving up for the new year!

Revving up for the new year!

NEED something to blow away the post-festive season cobwebs but feeling too chilly to venture outdoors?

Coventry’s newest state-of-the art go-karting track is fuelling a lot of excitement – and ticks all the boxes.

Teamsport Karting, Coventry,

Eager to get a piece of the action, we geared ourselves up to take the wheel for a spin around TeamSport’s latest venue.

Even seasoned karters will be impressed with the lengthy 500m circuit on multiple levels, featuring more bends, ramps and straights than your average track.

But it’s geared to all ages and abilities, whether you’re looking to improve your skills or take part in a team event, the karts – and the team – are revved up and waiting.

www.team-sport.co.uk/go-karting-coventry

So there’s as much scope for competitive adrenalin junkies to showcase their skills in the 200CC petrol karts as there is to simply enjoy some family fun.

The track can accommodate younger drivers (under 13) in specially designed Cadet Karts and offer birthday party packages as well, in the dedicated party room. Older party-goers aren’t forgotten either and Stag and Hen celebrations are also welcomed.

The flexibility and inclusiveness is great. But the most impressive feature of Coventry’s venue is the track itself. And with multiple short sessions to familiarise oneself with the layout, there’s plenty of opportunity to build your confidence and put your pedal to the metal for a genuinely thrilling ride.

Team Sport Karting, CoventryAll that said, nervous onlookers are quickly put at their ease as it’s clear safety is also at the forefront. No drivers are permitted on track until they’ve watched a lengthy safety video where, amongst other things, the all-important flag signals are explained. Plus the karts are slowed on the track at the first sign of a driver experiencing problems. But that doesn’t mean the brakes are continually put on the fun. The marshals are sensible about when they feel the need to intervene so the ‘flow of traffic’ can be maintained wherever possible.

Balaclavas, to be worn under helmets, are compulsory. With a choice of material ones for £2.50 or disposable ones for 50p, the reusable washable variety are better value if you’re likely to return – and, let’s face it, look way cooler on your teenagers!

Teamsport Karting, Coventry,

It’s a pleasant experience for non-participants as well with a comfortable bar area with food and drinks are available for purchase and a balcony area with seating for the perfect viewing platform. (Take a jumper in the colder months though as the cavernous building isn’t particularly warm for long periods spectating.)

The minimum age for taking part here is as low as eight and there are family karting sessions available so you can all compete against each other. (How many dads dare open themselves up to a thrashing from their fearless offspring?)

Great fun and highly recommended. Check out regular offers on their website. For further details and to book visit: www.team-sport.co.uk/go-karting-coventry

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.