More fun than you can shake – or throw – a stick at!

More fun than you can shake – or throw – a stick at!

Boom Battle Bar, Coventry, axe-throwing, crazier golf, shuffleboard, cocktails, American pool, augmented reality darts, beer pong

LET battle commence – a new concept in leisure and entertainment has arrived in Coventry.

The city has become home to the latest in the UK’s only Battle Bar franchise – a venue that combines a premium bar, food offering and competitive games – the likes of which you won’t have seen all under one roof before.

From American Pool and Electronic Beer Pong to Shuffleboard and Augmented Reality Darts, there’s also the chance to take in a round of so-called ’Crazier Golf’ (more on this later) and even. . . a spot of axe-throwing!

If, like me, you’re instantly horrified by the concept of axes and alcohol co-existing in the same space, fear not. The axe-throwing lanes are segregated and only available to those not ‘under the influence.’ An hour’s hire includes personal supervision and instruction. – Not that this helped my technique much! Turns out, chucking axes into a target is not in my skillset. It’s harder than it looks.

Great fun though – and where else can you partake in some indoor axe-throwing as part of a night out with friends and family? Great pre-curser to a hen or stag night or ice-breaker on a works night out.

My personal favourite of the activities was the shuffleboard table – as deceptively tricky as it is competitive.

The great concept of Battle Bar is also its fresh take on traditional games, including the ‘Crazier’ Golf course which delivers what it says on the tin. This short set of compact and quirky holes will test even the most experienced of mini-golfers (I include myself in that). Or maybe it’s so named as it has the potential to drive you crazy? Either way, it’s a ‘hole’ lot of fun. (Pun very much intended!)

And forget any notion of darts as you know it. Battle Bar’s Augmented Reality version adds a new dimension to your game through a series of new dart-based team games. All the fun and none of the mental arithmetic!

Battle Bar is undoubtedly an exciting new offering for families and friendship groups but, I sense, is set to be a particular favourite among the university students upon their return, especially as it’s over 18s only after 7pm when, no doubt, the venue will really come into its own.

Every activity is available to hire, in most cases, by the hour, but those who just want to enjoy a cocktail – or two – from the menu and soak up the vibe, are also welcome.

It’s not a destination of choice for diners however – but in fairness, nor does it profess to be. It’s an extremely limited menu offering here (if chicken wings aren’t your thing you’ll be left wanting) but was always designed more as a complement to the fun – because that’s what Battle Bar is predominantly all about – competitive fun with a capital F!

There are clearly a couple of early minor technical hitches that needed smoothing out, including one of the golf holes being out of action when we visited, but Coventry is lucky to have Boom Battle Bar – one of just a handful in the country. And in these uncertain times for the hospitality and leisure industries, it is particularly great to see it open its doors in Broadgate this month.

Why not check it out in the New Year? The perfect way to go into good-natured battle with your family and friends – and still come out laughing. (Well, I certainly hope so!)

Visit: https://www.boombattlebar.co.uk/coventry

Indian dining experience to surpass the rest (Review)

Indian dining experience to surpass the rest (Review)

My involvement in the recent Coventry & Warwickshire Foodie Awards brought me into closer contact with some of the best food and drink businesses and chefs in the region.

I have felt privileged to enter a world of exceptional culinary talent which has also has prompted a new list of must-visit destinations over the coming weeks and months.

Turmeric Gold, Coventry, Jay Alam

But the place to start was definitely a trip to the winner of the Restaurant of the Year category Turmeric Gold in Spon Street, Coventry.

As well as being a local gem, Turmeric has already earned lots of national and, even, international recognition since it opened 20 years ago. And my experience last week soon confirms why.

Located in a stunning 13th-century cottage in the heart of medieval Coventry, the restaurant more than lives up to its setting. The interior is decked out to resemble the authentic Indian dining experience and the friendly greeting at the door sets you up for what you immediately know is going to be a memorable experience.

Here, owner Jay Alam lives by his ethos that ‘food does not conform to the norm but challenges your taste buds and provokes the senses in exciting and sublime fashion. A labour of love and passion.’

Turmeric Gold, Coventry, Jay Alam
Turmeric Gold Railway Lamb & Aloo Bharta

Indeed, that passion radiates from every plate of food placed in front of us.

Set aside your previous notions of Indian restaurants because this venue raises the bar considerably. The Turmeric Gold experience (or should I say ‘Gold-standard’) fills a void I have only just realised exists – the opportunity to appreciate fine dining standards of Indian cuisine. Think taster menus as well as a la carte!

Three-way Chicken Jalfrezi

If you’re not a curry aficionado though, all the favourites are there – they’re just that cut above. There’s a particularly impressive vegetarian selection as well. If you are, however, a curry aficionado, you’re in for a real treat. If you’re relatively local to Coventry and haven’t yet visited, what are you waiting for? This place will deliver in abundance on food quality and will have you returning again and again.

But it’s also that attention to detail and those unique touches that help make this place so special, from the mango yoghurt appetiser through to an amuse-bouche selection which puts a cleanse on our palate as well as a smile on your face.

Turmeric Gold, Coventry, Jay Alam
Vegetarian Green Korma

Little wonder then that Turmeric Gold is the proud recipient of so many awards across the past two decades, recognising everything from food quality to service, ambience and overall experience.

Jay Alam said: “We have always taken pride in not only delivering the highest quality of service, but having the ability to evolve to ensure we meet the ever changing needs of our customers, but never losing sight of our commitment to providing the ultimate dining experience.”

Turmeric Gold, Coventry, Jay Alam
Our amuse bouche

There’s also an emphasis on creating healthy food and only minimum oils, colouring and salt is added to their dishes. Always good to know you are enjoying good food without too much of the indulgence factor!

A slightly higher priced menu is more than outweighed by the high quality of cuisine and overall experience and it is a winning choice for any special occasion.

Turmeric Gold is open Monday-Saturday between 5.30-10pm and Sunday 5.30-9.30pm. Takeaways are also available for delivery or collection via their website: https://www.turmericgold.co.uk/

The restaurant’s website boldly claims that Turmeric Gold offers ‘a culinary experience not to be missed.’ I certainly wouldn’t disagree with that – and will soon be back.

  • I was gifted this experience but all views are honestly held and my own.

For more about Turmeric Gold’s win at The Coventry & Warwickshire Foodie Awards, click here

Turmeric Gold, Coventry, Jay Alam
Roaring Tiger House Special Biryani
Belgrade Theatre to reopen its doors on May 17th

Belgrade Theatre to reopen its doors on May 17th

The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – the UK City of Culture for 2021 – is to reopen its doors to the public on 17th May – the first day that the government’s roadmap allows – with socially distanced audiences able to enjoy Joe Pasquale and Sarah Earnshaw in John Godber’s April in Paris, which kicks off its UK tour at the Belgrade.

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Those first audience members through the doors will also be able to enjoy the brand-new upstairs Café Bar Nineteen58 and newly refurbished downstairs Belgrade Café which has been created in the building as part of the £5.5m 2020 Redevelopment Project for the theatre; as well as the enhanced food and beverage offering, this has provided new spaces for audiences, visitors and additional capacity for workshops and community groups.

Prior to this, from 12th April, The Belgrade Café will be offering a full range of locally sourced food and drink for patrons to takeaway and enjoy on tables outside the theatre on Belgrade Square. The refurbishment was inspired by and named after the theatre’s founding year and is decorated with vintage show posters and artwork from across the decades.

Above and right: The new-look cafe (Artist’s impression by Corstorphine + Wright Architects)

Coventry, Belgrade Theatre, cafeThe Belgrade is Coventry’s largest professional theatre, producing and presenting a diverse range of shows, events and ground-breaking community and education initiatives. In its landmark building, across the region, the UK and online, it uses theatre to entertain, inspire, share the city’s stories, uncover hidden histories, and unleash the creativity of diverse communities.

Joanna Reid, Executive Director of the Belgrade, said, “The whole team can’t wait to reopen on 17 May and to welcome shows and audiences back into our two auditoria as soon as possible.  We are delighted that we are launching a tour of APRIL IN PARIS on Monday 17 May and are continuing to work to secure more shows during May to August. We’re excited that we’ve been able to complete our 2020 Redevelopment in time for City of Culture despite the challenges posed by both the pandemic and Brexit.  We hope to see you back at the Belgrade soon!

Following April in Paris, the Belgrade continues to book in performances at short notice and audiences will be able to enjoy an eclectic mix of music, theatre and comedy  over the summer months The theatre’s digital offerings also continue: Jabala and the Jinn, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Private Peaceful and the MT Festival UK will stream at various times between the end of March and the beginning of June.

The UK Asian Film Festival will also be hosted at the venue, with socially distanced audiences watching five film premieres in the Belgrade’s B2 auditorium, including the world premiere of Beatles and India. These films have been selected by five Coventry locals, after training in film curation. The UK Asian Film Festival celebrates the art of storytelling extending from ancient oral traditions to tales told in today’s digital age, giving wings to South Asian roots since 1997. This year’s programming theme is Ray of Hope to mark the birth centenary of Satyajit Ray. The film choices reflect the shift in power that bring hope to the lives of the protagonists. Further details to be announced.

An autumn season of non-socially distanced work from 1 September will be announced on 1st June.

A key partner of Coventry UK City of Culture 2021, the Belgrade Theatre’s 2021 programme is being delivered by three diverse artists under the role of Co-Artistic Directors alongside members of the local community.  Corey Campbell, Balisha Karra and Justine Themen are developing a new vision and way of working for a 21st Century Theatre, bringing with them a unique perspective that celebrates the City’s diversity and drives positive change.

As well as directing the City of Culture opening event, Coventry Moves, Justine Themen has commissioned a brand-new digital version of Like There’s No Tomorrow (Weds 19 May – Sun 13 June 2021), one of the first National Theatre Connections plays to be specifically commissioned for and created by young people. Originally devised by Belgrade Youth Theatre in March 2020, in 2021 it will amplify the voices of Coventry’s young people and their views on climate change, across the country. The Belgrade will also be hosting the region’s NT Connections Festival this summer, showcasing work by local youth theatres across the West Midlands.

The new Roundabout pop-up theatre

Another cornerstone of the City of Culture programme, The Belgrade will co-present with Paines Plough, a festival of new world-class plays and community-led activities in the world’s first plug-in, pop-up and play theatre Roundabout (Monday 26 July – Sunday 8 August 2021). Balisha Karra will direct Coventry based playwright Frankie Meredith’s May Queen, and the other plays that will be played in repertory throughout the festival are Hungry by Chris Bush, Really Big and Really Loud by Phoebe Eclair-Powell, Black Love by Chinonyerem Odimba, with music by Ben and Max Ringham.

Belgrade Theatre, Seaview, Coventry
A scene from Seaview

Filming has also begun on SeaView, an original digital series developed by Strictly Arts Theatre Company and Belgrade Film and Digital Ltd using theatre techniques, conceived before Covid-19 took the world of theatre online, and directed by Corey Campbell. Inspired by a true story, and lived experiences, SeaView is a supernatural drama centred on urban, working class communities in the Midlands. It follows the story of Steven, a high-flying university student who appears to have a bright future ahead of him… Release dates and further information to be announced shortly.

Whilst – as with so many theatres across the country during 2020– The Belgrade wasn’t able to present live work on stage during much of the year, the whole team worked hard to keep engaging with local audiences and communities. The theatre rapidly adapted to making its offerings digital, including taking their annual pantomime online – Jack and the Beanstalk was watched by 55,600 people in the UK and in 25 countries across the world. The team behind the theatre’s renowned participation programme Click Spring also continued to offer workshops, Summer School and Acting Classes over Zoom. They also kept engaging with audiences on social media, including Facebook pub quizzes and online play-reading groups, and created podcasts, education packs and Spotify musical theatre playlists.

Councillor David Welsh, from Coventry City Council, said, ““There has been so much work happening throughout the Covid outbreak to improve facilities at the Belgrade Theatre and I am really pleased that they can now take the first tentative steps by announcing what future productions they will be able to host. I want to thank all those involved for the hard work they have put into getting the Belgrade Theatre ready, and I wish the theatre every success.”

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