Review: Fizz stopper by Avina

I’ll be honest, being a fizz fanatic, it’s rare that a bottle will be left unfinished long in my fridge, especially over night.

However such is my love for the bubbles, I won’t run the risk of a flat fizz and like to put a stopper in the bottle even between ’rounds’.

For you and only for you, I have taken one for the team and tested this gifted fizz stopper on not only one bottle in between glasses in one session, but on a second bottle which I left for five whole days (that’s five days) between the first four glasses and the penultimate two. I know. I’m becoming the best version of myself.

Made and brought to us by Avina Wine Products, I’ve seen a fair few fizz stoppers in my time, but this one is reassuringly sturdy and perhaps even a little stiff.

But not too stiff that even this weakling here can’t manipulate it. It takes confidence. And there is nothing worse than a flimsy fizz stopper releasing those bountiful bubbles left right and centre before you’re ready.

No this fizz stopper leaves no room for escape.

And it was with nerves that I left this beautiful drop for five days. Five whole days. The reason I hate to do this with sparkling wines is because  I’ve got a drinking problem been let down before with broken promises of air-tight solutions.

As for the spoon trick? I’m sorry, but either I’m inserting it wrong or it’s an urban myth (like Anton Du Beke really being called Tony Beak).

Extracting the stopper, I prayed to the gods of fizz that my delicious drop would be as good as the day it was first opened. The ferocity and pop with which the stopper came away and that reassuring vapour appeared, it was like uncorking a bottle.

Sadly my dexterity doesn’t lend itself to performing this action and getting a pic for the ‘ gram, but I assure you of the drama described.

When I had reluctantly put the bottle in the fridge and inserted the stopper for the final time that fateful evening five days previous, it had been around a third full (still, kudos to me) and whilst there are a lot of good stoppers out there, they really only seem to work on an almost full bottle.

And so my new Avina fizz stopper is now my go-to bubble preserver and I would encourage sparkling wine aficionados to give it a go and trust it with their precious cargo.

For more information, visit

Avina Wine Products are the sponsor of the Best Sparkling Wine Rest of World category at this year’s People’s Choice Wine Awards –

To read more about last year’s awards on my sister blog , and my love for fizz in general, visit:

An A in Fizzical Education – Altrincham Fizz Festival

Drink alone? You’re having a giraffe





Meet the Experts event at ONE aesthetic studio

I was determined to turn 40 non-plussed. That’s why I didn’t do one of those 40 before 40 affairs.

I didn’t want it to be such a big deal. That and an element of laziness.

It was an achievement in itself and I had a kind of excitement about saying

I’m 40.

However, reaching a milestone age forces you to take stock whether you intend to or not.

As you move to another decade, you can’t help but reflect and consider what’s gone before, what is now and what will be.

My main focus has been my mental health and finding calm. This won’t be ‘the post’ where I talk about this aspect of my life, particularly. I may do at some point, but for now I want to talk about striving to find an inner peace, an inner calm and an inner perspective.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the first of a series of forums hosted by Renowned Surgeon and Global Beauty Lecturer, Dr Jonquille Chantrey, at her clinic, ONE aesthetic studio, in Alderley Edge.

The headline being:

Body image and self-esteem start with the mind, not the mirror

But this is a beauty clinic, is it not? The mind turns to cosmetic procedures – the outer beauty.

The mind, being the thing, I came away with so much more from the session than a complimentary facial.

One of a series of assembled experts, meditation teacher, Ashleigh Guthrie, asked us sit and stare into a hand held mirror, focusing on one eye. There was initial discomfort, all ready to obsess over any lines, bags, shadows, spidery mascara etc and so forth, but this was soon replaced by discomfort of a different kind, which in turn led to strong emotions on this part.

You see, it was a ‘mirror soul connection’ exercise.

Oh what on earth is that

Well when we do look into the mirror, we probably only see the aforementioned so-called physical attributes. But try staring into what is perhaps sometimes glibly referred to as the gateway to your soul, focus on one of your eyes and stare into your pupil, watch as it flickers and moves.

We were asked to let our minds drift to what we wanted to say to ourselves. It’s a personal thing but I wanted to say ‘please be kind to yourself’. Watching your left eye suddenly brim with tears may sound deeply dramatic, but is pretty powerful.

It also reminded me of the bizarre phenomenon that I only seem to cry out of one, said left eye, these days. Hey right eye – where yo tears at? Must look into this…Anyway that’s something for another day.

That’s probably as deep as I’ll go personally on this post, although I can’t promise not to revisit in future.

The event included a panel of experts from the industry alongside Dr Chantrey and  Ashleigh Guthrie; Hairstylist, Calum Tierney; Reiki Master and Wellbeing Coach, Penelope Silver; Personal Trainer, Mark Bohannon; and Celebrity Stylist and Fashion Expert, Lorraine McCulloch.

Joining me in the intimate ‘audience’ were well known faces – actresses who knew only too well what it was to have their outer beauty scrutinised, such as Catherine Tyldesley, Sarah Jayne Dunn, Nicole Barber Lane, Natalie Anderson and Sophie Austin.

Whilst set up theatre style, the event was less Q&A and really flowed into a passionate discussion about the importance of how inner beauty can influence the outer and the importance of the former.

Taking place during what was Mental Health Awareness week, there was a focus on body image and the challenges faced in an era where everything is documented, shared and, indeed, skewed.

My friend who joined me at the session, told me bluntly (that’s why I love her) that my own body image was ‘warped’.

I came away grateful at how generous many in the room were at sharing their own insecurities and challenges both mentally and physically, and how each can have such a strong effect on the other.

Whereas this can often lead to the deeply negative; I feel ugly, therefore I am – the effect can just be as powerful if you reverse the equation – I feel happy, therefore this will radiate into what I see in the mirror.

You see, I’m used to thinking that I’ve seen something horrible in the mirror, and this has led to…let’s call it one of my bad episodes. But it’s quite definitely the other way round – if I’m not feeling at peace on the inside, that will reflect on what I see in the mirror.

And it was this session that reaffirmed what I need to take care of as I enter this new decade.

Back to the session, and as we all talked, everyone brought something inspiring to the table. Now don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t an inspirational meme brought to life, with well-rehearsed pseudo psychiatry and empty declarations that, according to most of those horrendous memes, Marilyn Monroe said first (poor Mazza, it’s a wonder she had any time to make those movies given how much jabbering people have put her down to have done).

It was insightful and honest.

Just some of the lines I brought away with me from the group;

People come to me saying they want to look better. As time goes by, the deeper reasons come out. They want more energy, confidence, less anxiety. This is what they’re striving for. The physical tends to be a by-product


Society needs to be educated and reassured, especially young people, that the pictures on social media and filtered, with good lighting and taken from the ‘right’ angle. They’re not real.


Be your best self, don’t compare.


There is a correlation between how we feel and how we see ourselves


It’s important to eat real food, good quality protein


We’re not taught how to be ourselves. Self reflection  creates clarity and the space to focus.

There were many more and the more I list, the more I realise that this is, in turn, becoming an inspirational meme. I don’t want that – it’s not enough and out of context can tread a fine line.

The value of such a forum is to discuss such matters in the moment and feel a sense of camaraderie and feeling of ‘it’s not just me’. And so this is why I encourage attendance.

My stand-up favourite quote of the evening was, however, this;

Psychopaths mellow after 40


What I thought would be a straightforward evening of Q&As and top tips for looking good was in fact so much more.

And, so, what I thought would be a straightforward blog post of reiterating those tips whilst feeling slightly uncomfortable that I was peddling one of those ten a penny beauty blog posts that others have got down so much better than me (and have a YouTube channel to boot – I mean I’ve got one, but it was shocking and short-lived), has led to me sharing more about myself than I thought I would, and probably heralded the start of something more down this path.

Additionally I learned about ‘Hypersensitivity Personality’. Not to self-diagnose, but perhaps this is why I’m always too hot, too paranoid, too ‘please would you mind turning that down just a tiny bit even though, granted, we can barely hear it to the point I’ve got subtitles on’.

In case you’re interested, with the messages from that evening firmly in mind, these are some of the tools I have been using over the last year to find that inner peace and ‘beauty’ (whereas some may have started to fall by the wayside, I’ve been inspired by that evening spent at ONE to step matters up…

Therapy, Meditation, Swimming, Breathing Exercises, Sound Therapy and, indeed, just taking time just to stop. I’ve always craved silence and whilst I might find that externally sometimes, it’s nothing if I can’t do the same for my inner voices.

I’m even going to try being kind to myself.

It’s far from a done deal but everyone has to start somewhere and I recommend perhaps starting at one of these wonderful forums.

I’ll give the last word to Dr Jonquille Chantrey,

Beautiful aesthetic work can transform quality of life but for over a decade, I have always aimed to improve self-esteem. My vision is to support patients as a whole – encompassing evidence-based nutrition, anti-ageing medicine, psychology and meditation techniques.

This is where complete beauty lies.

Ok, one last word from me.

We all place some value on the outer – it’s human nature, but if you feel at peace with yourself, the rest will follow.

To be continued…

The next forum is on 26 June 2019 at 6.45pm –

For more details of this, all future events and the range of services available at ONE aesthetic studio, please visit


Easter ‘Staycation’ – Glamping in Cornwall

I love a glamp and I love a camp – and I never used to think I’d be good at either.

I’ve even glamped in December and February – note glamped, not camped – I’m not that brave…February Glamping – it’s a thing.

I love the Easter holidays – spring is springing, we’re getting to bask in those few extra hours of daytime and it feels like the literal light at the end of the dark winter tunnel.

There’s nowhere I’d rather be in springtime than our own excellent U.K. and this year I chose a happy return to both Cornwall and Devon.

Ever since I enjoyed childhood holidays in the former, and, being born actually in the latter (I was a native for about 10 days – long story), it’s an area I hold close to my heart.

That said you don’t need any historical reason to love both counties with their beautiful beaches, atmospheric coves and dunes, local foods and ciders and hospitality like no other.

With a laidback, back to nature vibe, a visit is the equivalent to a course of therapy sessions and month’s free subscription to your favourite meditation app. Probably.

St Ives, Cornwall

For the first four nights, our destination was St Ives, Cornwall.

Known for its beaches and art scene, i pinpointed it as the perfect place to relax whilst get an injection of culture at the same time.

Booked through the rather marvellous Air bnb we stayed in a shepherds hut at St Ives Glamping, on a hill with views of the ocean. This was very important to me.

I don’t care where we go

I did

But I’d like to see the sea

And so we did.

The site is lovely, eclectic and serves a hearty serving of (and we’re all going to roll our eyes and tut as one, when I say this), seaside, shabby chic.

I’m sorry but it’s the only way to describe it – and it was lovely.

The hut we stayed in came with some wonderful outdoor props conducive to lounging around, sighing and reprogramming your brain from work-mode to human being-mode.

See that picnic bench, beanbag, hammock? We lounged and lolled around on all.

The chiminea was lit each night and we both relaxed into our respective country-living chill-out comas. Snoozes? Periods of relaxation. We relaxed. We were calm, is what I’m saying.

The website will provide details but I’d rather talk about how I felt rather than what I had (ok, a cosy bed, a kettle, a toaster, a ukelele and electricity). I felt like a weight had been lifted from my dramatic shoulders.

With a hot tub for hire, firewood for sale, a delightful cooking and communal area and clean showers and toilets, it was what we glampers are looking for – a great space for a bbq, a bottle of wine, a big old listen to radio 2 (age spoiler) with nature, whilst feeling clean and catered for at the same time (and a bit zen to boot).

We bravely left our haven, over the 3 days, to venture into the wonderful town of St Ives.

A 20 minute walk down country lanes, takes you into the town. It is no exaggeration to say that there is a gallery on every corner, none more so famous than Tate St Ives

On the site of the old gasworks, would you believe, the view from within looking out is an artistic masterpiece in itself. And no coincidence, I’m sure.

The calming space is complimentary to its coastal setting.

The current exhibition, featuring works by Anna Boghiguian finds its natural home, as Anna has created work inspired by Cornwall’s industrial history; fishing and mining.

I knew I was in the Tate when I saw this sign on the approach to the exhibition…

FYI it’s weirdly pleasant walking on salt.

FYFI I saw Jenny Eclair…

The other of the more famous galleries and indeed museums is that of the Barbara Hepworth studio and sculpture garden

Yorkshire-born, and long term St Ives resident, a visit to see the beautiful works against a backdrop of Barbara’s tranquil English garden is like an intravenous shot of pure mindfulness. Honestly.

I shall let the website give you the history and my photographs try to amateurishly convey the beauty…

As for the town itself?

The cobbled streets bedecked with galleries, the windows full of paintings of the town itself (meta), independent craft shops and bakeries, they’re a joy to saunter up and down.

Never more than a few feet away from a Cornish pasty, I plumped for one from St Ives Bakery (say what you see…)

Huddled round the corner in the shade (the weather really was incredible) my husband and I attacked our steak Cornish pasties with glee.

I say attack – whereas he ate it with dignity like a normal human being, I managed to make a holy show with pastry flying and carrots and potato cascading down from me onto the pavement like there was no tomorrow, such was my fevered approach.

I kept hold of that succulent steak though – amazing.

The beaches speak for themselves – golden sands, jewelled waters, and a testament to how the British seaside is more than a worthy rival to shores further afield.

Taken from The Rum and Crab shack

4 nights and it was time to leave and head to North Devon. But St Ives is good for the soul. And I’ll leave it at that.

ØNE Aesthetic Studio, one blogger, one ULTRAcel treatment…

Thursday saw ØNE Aesthetic Studio open in the heart of Alderley Edge.

Here’s what you may have missed from last week’s launch.

When I gleefully accepted the invitation to take a look round little did I know at that point that not only was going to be stepping inside what I have to say is a very lovely and stylish building but into the world of ULTRAcel…

I turned 40 a couple of months ago. I was looking forward to the milestone if truth be told.

Without sounding trite, getting older is a gift not a curse, because as a lovely lady I know remarked to me last week…

what’s the alternative?

However, whilst feeling blessed and fortunate yada yada yada I can’t ignore the cons. I’m 40 with no children (that’s a whole different blog post. Nay, series, of blog posts) and as you get older whilst your mind is enriched (I’m constantly trying to nourish the spiritual side of things), the physical side of things start to rebel.

I’ve never had so called ‘work’ done. My rap sheet of ‘things done to my body’ includes:

  • Pierced ears (3 ‘pairs’, 2 now healed);
  • A pierced naval (now healed although I’ll never say it’ll never happen that one day I’ll have a middle aged meltdown and ram that god forsaken gold bar straight through that healed hole, as god is my witness etc etc
  • 3 tattoos – a mcr bee on my right wrist, three little birds on my left foot and a little heart behind my left ear; and
  • A regular session of ‘Russian lashes’.

I want to hammer home that I don’t see it myself AT all, but I do get ID’d for alcohol a few times a year.

Yes, I totally agree that this is ludicrous, I honestly do. But it happens and each time I’m mortified, not joyous. Perhaps as I (touch wood) slide deeper into my 40s and it happens I’ll start to feel the joy, but all I feel at the moment is like a naughty kid trying to get away with buying a bottle of nice wine to go drink down the park.

Anyway, what may seem like a ‘casual brag’ aside, whilst I’ve never had ‘work’, I was offered the opportunity to try ULTRAcel at the launch evening.

Is it ‘work’? I asked’What on earth are you talking about’, said…well actually no one but to paraphrase Haddaway (in case you were in any doubt as to my age)…

What is work?

I guess for me, anything invasive (i.e. going through, piercing through, cutting through the skin) is ‘work’ (yes i have piercings and tattoos, I know, but these are add-ons so ner).

And again, whilst I will never say never, that’s not my bag right now. ULTRAcel is a non-surgical, non-invasive, non-piercey/cutty/injectiony alternative, but more on that in a second.

Anyway and so ready to attend the launch of ØNE… to do a general blog piece covering the studio, ready to observe, photograph, write, comment, I was asked by top PR boss, Laura, how I’d like to try a complimentary treatment on the evening. The treatment would be on my neck, jowls and lower face.

Agh. I hate my jowls. Now this is good, surely? I hate them so a treatment is good, no? But no, this is me. I search for the negative.’

‘Will I be jowl-shamed?’ (What does this even mean…)’

‘No. No you will not be jowl-shamed’.

Ok. No jowl shaming for me.

Next consideration , what would happen to me, precisely (are we’re getting there…)?

Well ULTRAcel is a revolutionary concept which is ‘non surgical skin tightening and lifting’.

But how? Well, glad you asked.

The first stage is the use of radiofrequency to apply heat to the skin (in my case my lower face and neck). This encourages the growth of collagen (see – encouragement! Aka gentle! Non-aggressive!)…

Ultrasound waves are then applied to the same areas; specifically to the posture muscles which lie beneath the facial tissues. This tightens and gifts lift to the tissues.

So that’s the science but how did it actually feel in practise?

Personally absolutely fine. A ‘bit funny’ is the worst I can level at it.

I have to say this was down to being in the expert hands of Lead Medical practitioner, Victoria Armstrong, who was lovely, reassuring, and calming, and throughout the treatment kept me informed of all the stages, what to expect and an assurance that if at any stage I felt too much heat, I could request a reduction in temperature.

As I lay there, quietly reminding myself that this was a TREATment, a new experience and that writing and indeed life was all about new experiences, I really had nothing to worry about.

In fact, to be honest, my biggest concern was the fact that this was happening at an event – an event I had attended without a scrap of make-up on, with hair that was at best ‘a mess’ after heading straight to Alderley Edge after a busy day at work, a frantic dash to the shops after realising that I’d forgotten a change of clothes, and a run upto Piccadilly Station in the rain after missing my first train.

A lie down in the big white chair was frankly a relief, no matter what was going to happen to me there.

And so the heat application was never too hot – I’d go as far as calling it warming and relaxing.

It was the next stage that was ‘a bit funny’. As the probe passed over my skin, I felt a light vibration and occasionally what felt like a little pin prick. And I mean a little pin prick. I guess like pins needles.

See how I smile serenely?

It was all over in about half an hour and I was good to go.

No need to rest or take to a chaise longue in dramatic fashion, take pain meds (although I was advised that if I did have any aches, paracetamol were sufficient – I didn’t) or perform any self ‘after care’.

The next day I felt a reassuring slight ache and tightening or the muscles round my jaw and that was it.

Also note this is was occurring at my desk whilst I was at work – no downtime!

I was told that I might see a small difference immediately but that is the gift that keeps on giving; skin appearing smoother, neck area more defined, things generally a lot more contoured, with the full effect realised after 3 months. However, and here’s the even better news, the results can last upto 2 whole years!

As I write, it’s day 5 since the treatment and I already feel like there’s an improvement, especially round my ‘problem area’ – those dreaded jowls.

(Jowls is a horrific word, isn’t it. It’s almost onomatopoeic – jowls just sounds saggy and swollen.)

My skin certainly feels smoother.

These are no make up pics taken today…

I will provide updates on my lower face, jowls and neck as things progress (you lucky lucky people) but days 4 and 5 and I do feel improvement…

What I can comment on with certainty at the moment is the due care and attention given to me by Jonquille Chantrey, Victoria Armstrong and Dr Michael Barnish, both before and during my experience in the big white chair.

To be continued…

For more information about ØNE Aesthetic Studio and ULTRAcel, please visit their website, read about ULTRAcel here or contact the clinic team on 01625 585990 or 07412 532 637.

You can also find them on Twitter: @oneaesthetics1 and Instagram: @oneaestheticstudio

Photography – Elspeth Moore

Event managed by Laura Graham of Vital Publicity:

ØNE Aesthetic Studio throws open its doors to Alderley Edge

It was a glamorous night in Alderley Edge (let’s be honest, when is it not?) when ØNE Aesthetic Studio launched its fabulous wares to the great and good on Thursday evening.

(Photo – blogger’s own)

Combining art and medicine, ØNE is different to most clinics as they’re not all about what’s on the outside, but what’s on the inside too, with equal focus on health and spiritual wellbeing.

(Photo – blogger’s own)

Miss Jonquille Chantrey, one of the leading aesthetic doctors in the world, has responded to demand and expanded her existing Expert Aesthetics practice to create ØNE.

Photography – Elspeth Moore

ØNE comprises of six light and modern treatment rooms, private waiting areas and a contemporary multi-purpose studio for yoga and meditation sessions plus seminars for visiting international professionals, keen to learn from her experience.

Taking a look round the studio, it was clear that Miss Chantrey knows her aesthetics just from the interior design and calming interior taking in a mix of cool and natural hues, promoting a sense of relaxation before you’ve even taken off your coat.

The services on offer include aesthetic medicine, nutrition, health, yoga, meditation, spiritual and personal development.

As Miss Chantrey says,

So many of us are becoming disconnected with our true selves, or neglecting our appearance, our mental or physical health.

With my team of unrivalled specialists in their unique fields, we have created a multi purpose space that blends our set of principles into an artistic movement.

Photography – Elspeth Moore

Joining Miss Chantrey on the evening was actress and former Coronation Street star, Catherine Tyldesley, who is also a client of ØNE

Photography – Elspeth Moore

I have been a regular client of Jonquille for my facials and ULTRAcel for some time, and this has changed my life.  I’m so much more confident about my skin. Her knowledge and advice is second to none. The team at ONE are true experts in their field.

Photography – Elspeth Moore

On the evening, Catherine took part in a guided meditation and sound healing, demonstrating the spiritual techniques to assembled guests which included former colleague and Coronation Street actress  Katie McGlynn,

Photography – Elspeth Moore

Leanne Brown, Lorna Bancroft, Nermina Peters Mekic, Ashley Taylor Dawson, Nicole Barber Lane, Jade English and Sophie Austin.

Photography – Elspeth Moore

Whilst the champagne flowed, DJ EMA entertained on the decks, with a beautifully blended mix of electric classical and soulful house music.

Photography – Elspeth Moore

But Laura (I hear you cry. Kind of), Catherine Tyldesley mentioned ULTRAcel. What on earth is that?

Well, thank you for asking. As that takes me neatly onto a tale of a 40 year old immersing herself fearlessly and bravely into the occasion, all for you reader. Why would I recommend somewhere without checking it out personally, and selflessly for you?

Read about my own experience of ØNE Aesthetic Studio on this blog, coming soon…

In the meantime, for more information about ØNE Aesthetic Studio, please visit their website or contact the clinic team on 01625 585990 or 07412 532 637.

You can also find them on Twitter: @oneaesthetics1 and Instagram: @oneaestheticstudio

DJ EMA – Twitter: E_M_A_DJ and Instagram: @e_m_a_dj

Photography – Elspeth Moore

Event managed by Laura Graham of Vital Publicity:

WA14 – Friday Chippy Tea, the great British institution

I grew up near the sea, on the Fylde Coast.

With Fleetwood a pebble’s skim away, you were (almost) close enough to hear the rustle of the fishing nets.

Needless to say we were not short of chip shops (for some reason I’ve never been able to call them ‘chippys’. Always chip shop. Like a formal Victorian).

This battered sausage is divine. From the chip shop, you say?

The nearest was a 5 min walk away and it would be on a Friday that those magical words would be uttered…

What would you like from the chip shop?

(ah it makes sense now – my mum says chip shop too).

My answer, by the way, would be

Everything. I’d like everything please. Except mushy peas. For me they’re the work of the devil, and I just don’t understand them.

When I moved to Manchester in 2000, I couldn’t understand where all the chip shops were at.

I mean there was quite often a tribute to the chip shop in that the takeaways offering kebabs etc might offer chips or even a jumbo sausage, but the traditional chip shop didn’t appear to exist.

There does appear to have been a shift in this regard over recent times. Even that great leader of our times, Manchester City Centre, has opened up a few chip shops in addition to stalwart Kingfisher…

I mean, no doubt there’s some irony involved, but still…

But it will always be the ‘burbs that don’t let us down. And so imagine my incredible (and I do mean incredible) excitement when a new chip shop opened a stone’s throw from home. I mean we even share the same postcode…

Residents of Hale, Bowdon (and definitely should be, if not actually) beyond will be no stranger to WA14 Fish & Chips

I mean it literally does what it says on the tin. It’s fish and chips, it’s in WA14. And on a Friday that’s where you’ll find a good proportion of its neighbours.

Now a grown up (I really am) it’s my job to stand in line on a Friday, listening to the frying of the fish, those dulcet tones of the chips being plunged into the hot oil, the chatter of the people in line – the communal excitement growing in anticipation of their pending supper, happy in the knowledge that the working week is over, and chippy tea is incoming.

But never have I stood in a chip shop line in such stylish and perfectly branded surroundings.

But fear not, Hale, Bowdon and beyond, fish, chips and, ok, mushy peas (if you have to) haven’t given way to a 16 course tasting menu with wine pairing. It’s all there. The pies are there, the gravy’s there, the jumbo sausages are there…

see there they are.

so it’s still the chip shop. Our lovely chip shop. But then some..

A range of fish choices, not only scampi but made with monkfish, and a pie menu like a gift from the gods.

Last night there was a distinct chill in the air in Hale (it’s ok – I don’t mean the parking rates have gone up again) and whilst Friday night chippy does not discriminate in terms of time of year, it is definitely best indulged in in colder climes.

And so anticipation at a peak as our food was seasoned (I don’t like vinegar – what an oddity I truly am reader)…

…it was time to leave with our boxes of delights.


I was heard to exclaim as we headed off down the cobbled passageway that is Bath Street, our cardboard wares reassuringly hot to the touch…

Home in two minutes, front door shut to the world, no work the next day, the aromas of the chip shop filling our senses (and those of the cat – for the final time, just get off…)

…life is about these moments.

All this romanticism, nostalgia, talking of branding is all very well, but what was the actual food like, I hear my one reader cry (hi mum).

Bloody delicious.

You know that food term we all loathe and I would never lower myself to use…well here is some not food porn:

I opted for good old cod and chips. Served with a slice of lemon and pot of creamy tartare sauce , the chips were double cooked and with the effect that they were seemingly coated in a light batter. The cod was reassuringly white, soft in all the right places, mouth-melting, and the batter delicious and non-greasy.

My plus 1 in proceedings went with a chicken and black pudding pie and chips…

Every chip is the perfect chip



And basically silence as he emptied the box.

And along with a glass of wine, a beer, a can of pop, some trashy telly and a deep deep sense of relief and satisfaction that another working week has drawn to a close, what more can you want from your Friday night.

WA14 (and surrounding areas)? Take your place in that gastronomic waiting room on Ashley Road that is…WA14

And remember. Chippy tea is not just for Fridays, it’s for Mon – Saturdays. 1130-2100 (with a little rest from 1430-1630, Mon-Thursday’s).

For menus and full details head to

A Brett-B-Q – The full story…

Imagine, if you will, a Brett-B-Q.

Now you don’t have to for I am to tell you of it.

The thing that is the Brett-B-Q.

Your classic Brett-B-Q begins with a drink (more hospitable hosts never there was) from Brett and Emma and an anecdote from the former.

We didn’t have any coffee at work.

Declared Brett.

All week. I drank tea instead.

We await the punchline that never quite came.

We all shuffle uncomfortably in our seats.

It’s 4pm and time for Brett to take a break from his litany of…stuff, and light the Brett-B-Q.

Meanwhile, Emma acts ever the perfect hostess, deftly tipping the magnum of prosecco into flutes of the assembled party guests.

After much fannying about…

Brett got to the job in hand.

Beer in hand.

Brett is the ultimate ranconteur whilst grilling meat and vegetables.

I watched in fascination as whilst trying to convince me of his welsh credentials, he expertly turned a piece of chicken over without incident.

Even when others briefly became part of the process, Brett is on hand to guide, advise and basically point where stuff should go.

Take the arrival of these kebabs, for instance.

There was much confusion from John about how he should introduce them to the grill, and where.

Brett stepped up and with a flourish and reasonable panache, provided firm direction.

Talk soon turned to Italian cider.

Well naturally – it really was that kind of night.

Now Brett spoke lovingly, passionately, excessively, exhuberantly about this tipple and dreams were realised when he offered to share said tipple around.

These dreams were soon dashed when John noted with intrigue the difference in quantities poured out – our esteemed host securing a sizeable majority of the said cider on offer.

However, Brett explained…

Well I bought it

And John soon understood and there was no need to call in the big guns…

And so that moment came – the moment that comes to many a man at a Brett-B-Q – the moment that Brett debated whether to climb a tree.

The debate was swift and resulted in


And so it was back to the grill for Brett and back to those chooks and snags (that’s Australian for chicken and sausages).

And whilst men observed, amazed, transfixed by meat…

Brett took matters in his stride, drawing strength from the knowledge that this is his world. This is his manor.

This. Is his Brett-B-Q.

Spend a happy hour or two on the new Altrincham Pub Tour

The word ‘tour’ adds a certain sense of panache to an activity doesn’t it.

It evokes a sense of discovery, education, gravity.

I mean it depends on the context of course.

I’m buying tickets for the Little Mix (or insert band you’ve heard of but are old enough to have given birth to – albeit amidst scandal as you were doing your GCSES) Tour

does not suggest this.

But replace

I’m going on a pub crawl


I’m going on a walking pub tour

and you’re literally good to go.

So. Imagine my glee when I found a new justification for going out for a drink, when the lovely people at Altrincham Unlimited kindly invited me to join them on the inaugural said tour – part of the new campaign Explore Altrincham.

Hosted by celebrated and hugely engaging Manchester writer and tour guide extraordinaire (honestly he was ‘extraordinaire’) Jonathan Schofield, the event takes you on foot to four of the best drinking establishments in Altrincham, interspersing historical fact with witty and entertaining anecdotes.

Yes I laughed out loud at a story about buttermilk and a potato – and I rarely ‘laugh out loud’. I usually make a kind of expelling of air type gesture at best.

Starting off at the Orange Tree Inn, walkers/drinkers/’pupils’ can buy a drink and settle down to listen to tales from Jonathan of the area, the pub (and the tragic tale from 1880 of its previous incarnation and site) and local life back in the day (a handy phrase I bandy about to cover a multitude of dates and decades).

We were even treated to anecdotes (and sandwiches) from the lovely landlord, Damien, of ethereal happenings in the establishment.

For anyone concerned about the physical aspects of the tour, the four stops are not too far from each other, the first three really aren’t and the first two certainly aren’t.

For the next destination was next door neighbour, the Old Market Tavern.

Indeed, Damien informed us that at one time we wouldn’t even have needed to step outside to get to our next destination, as you could used the adjoining cellar to gain access. However given the haunting story of who currently hangs out down there, I was relieved to hear that the passage is now bricked off.

Here we learned of local tales of political skullduggery and underhand tactics to pull in the voters – astonishing! Thank goodness systems across Britain and indeed the world are now free of such practise.

Almost using the green cross code, a short hop across the road takes you the very floral Old Roebuck. Or Roebuck. I’m never sure but have you seen the delightful beer garden?

It was here that we learned of bizarre pub games and sports back in the day even odder than Beer Pong. What? It’s weird.

And all I’m saying that is that I’ve never seen an entire cow’s head consumed on Man v Food.

Ribs schmibs.

It is at this point that walkers/drinkers/’pupils’ are treated to a trivia test – musical interlude, if you will. In small teams, we were to ‘name that tune/artist/band’ – all with local links.

Top tip – make friends with somebody on the tour who is essentially a walking Shazam (hi Richard).

The final destination (and what an apt phrase given its name and origins – I’m smug right now) is and was the subterranean Belgian bar Mort Subite.

Here, the lovely owner Wyn gave us a potted history of the building (the rumours are true – it was the mortuary) and raison d’etre of the bar.

It was here that our memories and concentration skills were tested, as the quiz and indeed tour reached its climax and us ‘pupils’ had to demonstrate what we’d learnt.

Some of us demonstrated it better than others. Then again some of us had enjoyed their Sauvignon Blanc more than others (what, I don’t even like wine…👀).

And so endeth the story of a lovely group of local residents and Altrincham enthusiasts who one evening this week, embraced history and Beer and left leaving a little more wobbly informed.

It is at this point I emphasise that I remember a lot more detail from the stories than I have shared – I simply don’t wish to spoil the tour for you. Ok?

Genuinely, I urge you to delay no more and head to Altrincham Unlimited – Explore Altrincham for details, dates and booking information for both this event and the general walking tours.

Occurring on the last Thursday and Saturday of each month, they’re already proving popular.

So head along and learn a little more about this market town we all think we know but definitely love.

Juniper Cafe Hale – bringing style to daytime dining

They do say that when one door closes another opens and that bittersweet fact is certainly true in Hale Village at the moment.

Whilst we mourn the disappearance of restaurants and businesses, there appears to be a plethora popping up in their place.

The latest arrival on the scene is Juniper. Now the fact the Juniper plant is an evergreen (yes I’ve performed a Google), bodes well for longevity.

I arrived like this (not really I walked).

Already successful in Bramhall, the stylish cafe has thrown open its doors in Hale and having already given its attractive fascia inquisitive side-eye over recent days, I was eager to step through.

Credit – Juniper Hale

The first thing that struck me was how tasteful and chic the furnishings and general look of Juniper are and is.

I had to double check that the establishment really did close at 7pm without an evening service as (and I don’t mean this in any way negative) there does tend to be a distinct difference in ambience between daytime eateries and those which venture into the evening. And Juniper has a feel of the latter.

If you’re heading to Juniper for breakfast, brunch, lunch, an afternoon snack or perhaps early bird dinner with the children, it has the feel of a destination place.

And indeed there’s no missing that that destination is Hale, given the beautiful local artwork on display by Hale artist, Neil Roland, especially commissioned for Juniper…

But does the food look as good as the decor?

Well yes!

But does it taste as good as it looks?

Also yes.

The menu covers a range of light food favourites, although don’t let ‘light’ fool you into thinking that you’re going to leave hungry.

Watching the dishes come out of the kitchen, I went full on meerkat sneaking a peak at those ordered by my fellow diners; smashed avocado, American pancakes, Belgian waffles, toasted bagels, Cheshire spring lamb kleftiko, Cajun chicken and a very exciting looking signature burger were just some of the plates promenaded by my table.

Eyes wide, mouth open, dignity just about intact, I allowed the procession to delight my senses but also to instil the terrible emotional state that is…


Dear god, what if I’ve chosen wrong.

I mean I had no option but to choose my choice.

Aside from the fact that it’s one of my favourite dishes, the name play was a pun after my own beating heart:

Behold the salad that is, the Hale Caesar:

You say Caesar, I say Geezer.

I was so smug when my dish was set down.

I mean of course I wasn’t.

Well yes I was.

Every single classic ingredient of the caesar was present (yes I’ve adopted such an affinity to it that I don’t even need to say the ‘salad’ bit now) and striking.

It came with parmesan. However, it was a parmesan basket. And parmesan crisps!

The chicken and bacon strips were plentiful, the leaves generous and crunchy, the croutons garlicky and the dressing classic.

My plus 1 (honestly he’s down with being made to be reduced to that insipid description) had to wait a little longer for his but…

*he’s a very patient man (he has to be – see me);

*it was only a very short wait; and

*he got to sample some pancakes whilst he waited.

His fajita chicken wrap was worth the wait.

Crunchy where it should be, soft in all the right places, the flavours worked wonderfully (I tried them just to make sure – my gender confusing name is on the line here) …

And never underestimate the power of a great chip.

They were great chips (again I tried them to allow me to keep on living my truth).

Great chips

I agree, great chips

Nigel Slater and your wonderful way of adding emotion, romance and nostalgia to your food descriptions? Eat your heart out.

And so thanks and praise go to the Head Chef, Saleh Ahmed and Manager, Imad Ammar, who, along with their charming and friendly team, are bringing an additional touch of style to Hale and its dining credentials.

For menus, bookings and indeed all the ‘deets’ please visit the Juniper website.

Now let’s end on another nod to the wonderfully named dish

Hale Caesar!

– second only to Hale Geezer in an exclusive list of locally influenced puns…

Hale Barns Carnival 2018

I love summer.

With it brings a whole host of happiness in the form of holidays, festivals, galas and carnivals.

And so it’s that time again when the wonderful Hale Barns carnival rides into town.

Or does it ever leave in the first place?

Is it always there, waiting, anticipating and then finally manifesting itself magically onto St Ambrose Playing fields on a chosen weekend each July?

Fellow residents, brace and prepare yourself for this Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 July for the second coming!

Attractions include 2 spectacular concerts, over 280 performers, bars aplenty, an outdoor cinema, gift and craft stalls, a fair and lots more fun, food and fireworks!

But wait. There’s one f missing from that alliterative statement – football!

At the time of writing, England are a mere 90 minutes away (maybe plus 30minutes, maybe plus penalties) from reaching the World Cup Final. And you won’t miss a thing. The Final (England or no England) will be broadcast via a big screen at the event, thanks to sponsors Benchmark Security and Robinson’s Brewery.

So there are no excuses not to head along this weekend. To find out more details (and there are lots!), head to for a full list of activities, times and tickets.

For now, behold the Hale Geezer gallery, with a few snapshots from my own day last year at the inaugural event…