Author: beestonia

Oxjam: They think it’s all over (Part 2)

By the time you read this, the Oxjam Beeston Music Festival will be over for another year and you will know that we have raised a record-smashing £22,000.

Just to put that in context, last year we raised a creditable £14000 and the previous year, a brilliant £17400, which was our previous best and the highest raised at any Oxjam Festival in the country that year. This year, unsurprisingly, we have raised by far the most money of any Oxjam Festival in the UK.

Oxjam Festivals take place in over forty different locations around the country, often large provincial cities and towns such as Bristol, Bournemouth and Glasgow, as well as different areas of London. So how come little old Beeston tops the lot?

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Olivia & Finn

Maybe it’s something about the place: nice and compact, so for ‘Takeover’ you can walk between the furthest venues in less than a quarter of an hour; maybe it’s the fact that the folks round here are good-hearted and like their music in all the different forms that Oxjam offers; maybe it’s because we have some brilliant venues or the fact that, over seven years, now, we have established a format and a recognisable ‘brand’ that people love; and maybe it’s the Team!

This year it all began way back in January when, amidst rumblings that it might not happen this year, a group of about twenty people met in the upstairs room at The White Lion and started making plans. In that group there was special expertise – in marketing, music production and local music – specialist local knowledge, experience of running the Festival before, and a mixture of ages and backgrounds. From there we gradually evolved a structure, with a team devoted just to the Takeover day, others handling individual fund-raising events, a sponsorship and marketing team and individuals looking after finance and IT.

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We are also especially proud of the breadth of music offered: on Takeover day itself we had a very well attended Operatic Arias concert, as well as DJs, Americana, blues, choirs, covers, punk, indie, rock, barbershop, folk, singer-songwriters, jazz and a silent disco! Our other events have included a rock night featuring Madeleine Rust (who organised it for us since they couldn’t make 14 October), an ‘Unplugged’ event back in July, a ceilidh and our regular classical concert. We are struggling to think of a musical genre or style that we missed!

Oxjam Beeston has grown into a true community event. Lots of venues love being involved: our sponsors this year included Nottingham University (stage sponsors at Bartons), NET ‘the tram people’ (sponsoring the stage in The Square), local estate agents CP Walker (stage sponsors at The Crown), Foster Industrial (sponsors of The Hop Pole stage), The Breeze magazine and PN Design who did all our design work for flyers, posters and the programme. Of course, this year we had a special  ‘headline sponsor’, The Star, who celebrated their CAMRA LocAle award. Apart from the Uni, other community or public organisations involved were Beeston Library (venue), Beeston Methodist Church, Chilwell Road (venue and rehearsal space for the Operatic concert), Beeston Parish Church (venue), Middle Street Resource Centre (venue and loan of equipment), Royal British Legion Social Club (venue), local councillor, Kate Foale (grant from NCC Divisional Fund), local folk club Second Time Around (‘Friend of Oxjam’ sponsor) and several schools (distribution of flyers).

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Lia White

Overall we calculate more than two thousand people have been involved as either paying customers, non-paying (but ‘donating’) customers on Takeover afternoon, artists and volunteers. There were over 100 ‘acts’ on Takeover day, appearing on twenty stages across 18 venues over 13 hours.

Have you got a hankering to help? If you’ve got some time and skills you think would enhance our team, look out for a ‘call’ in January. We need people with design, PR and IT skills, or who know about local music or ‘project management’. If you want to perform, registration will begin about May/June and if you just want to help ‘on the day’ visit our website in August to ‘sign up’. Because, remember, you CANNOT assume people who have done it before will have the time and energy to do it all over again – they are all volunteers and most have full time jobs to do as well! It’s hard work – but very rewarding. Help keep Beeston at the top of the Oxjam pile and contribute to raising astonishing amounts of money for the fantastic work of OXFAM. Look out for notice of a meeting in January 2018 and come along if you want to join our team.

CT

Beeston Beats

Ey yup beatsonite readers,(be you a regular or casually stopping by).

This column tries to bring you news and snippets of the musical variety (plus any extra added adventures I may have been on) from our loveleh neck of the woods, so grab a cuppa put them weary feet up and reach for the chocolate hobnobs…

Back in October Many of you lovely people headed to Oxjam, for those that didn’t you missed out, the event was a complete corker,  jam packed full of fantastic variety of talent, Barton’s bus depot hosted the voice star Lia white, punk pioneers 3 Stone Monkey and the funky styling’s of Dirty Scrounging Bastards. While new venues Totally Tapped, and The Berliner added a bit of  spice, good ol’ faithfuls White Lion, Hop Pole, The Star, Rye, The Crown and many more got together to raise monies for Oxfam. On top of volunteering for the event I also took part in Stoptober for Macmillan, no booze, one month, shares in Pottle of Blues were possibly hit…

Back in the last issue we brought news the legendary Greyhound was to close its doors for good following extortionate hikes in council rates to an eye watering 64k a year.  The venue celebrated with an almighty farewell bang with the usual slots of open mic, rock band guitar hero, an evening of alternative rock and Morderstein, Yorkshires Rammstein tribute band who filled in for Rammlied due to an illness cancellation. I shall always fondly  remember the night moshing to the band performing ‘Du Hast’  followed by  DJ Lee Dowling buckling to my request for the Prodigy’s No Good Start the Dance to be played, at which a room full of metal heads descended back to carefree teenagers.

The Boat and Horses hosted their Christmas Craft Fayre on Saturday 11th November showcasing some handmade and local goods with charity stalls for Treetops Hospice and Beeston 2nd Sea Scouts, the five year old child in me brought some wax melts called reindeer poo and monkey fart, it really is the little things in life… The Victoria Hotel also had an alternative Christmas event for local creatives on the same day. I purchased a print of some artwork from Lauren Butler whose company Seek the Truth had a stall, her images are truly beautiful and slightly more grown up than the wax melts. Also munched on a Bakewell pudding muffin from Justine’s muffins and washed it down with a mulled cider (as it was November and the end of stoptober I had some catching up to do). That leads me nicely to wish everyone a fantastic Christmas – Til next year.

Christmas gig guide!

Ooo what do we have here then? 

  • The Chequers host Verbal Warning
  • Dec 30th (B.Y.O.D bring your own ducks)
  • New years eve Buster and d.j Soul man at the Chequers five quid tickets
  • The Berliner big fat quiz of the year, Dec 27th
  • White Lion Second time around folk club present the Smugglers Dec 1st £5 Tickets
  • Zephyr 4 at the Victory Club

LD

Foodprint

Taking a step in the right direction…

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We’re all familiar with the phrase ‘reduce your carbon footprint’ when it comes to doing your best for the environment and climate change by recycling, watching your energy usage, and re-thinking how you travel. But there’s now a project taking that idea and applying it to food and food waste, appropriately named Foodprint. I met up with the project’s team leader Sam Deuchar for a chat.

Sam, 20, is a third year psychology student at the University of Nottingham and originally joined the Foodprint team as Marketing Director after one of his best friends in first year was HR Director and advised him to get involved. Originally named ‘Zest’ the project is part of Enactus Nottingham, who help set up a variety of social enterprises such as this one.

“We’re trying to tackle food waste and food poverty in Nottingham,” says Sam. “The UK throws 10 million tonnes of food waste every single year. That’s the equivalent of enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall every single day. At the same time there are so many families that can’t afford to feed themselves. The food is there so those two problems shouldn’t co-exist. This is just one step along the way to try and tackle that.”

The model consists of Foodprint working with businesses such as supermarkets, cafés and other places which end up with a surplus amount of food. The business will donate what food they can, and Foodprint will sell it on at a vastly reduced price at their very own supermarket which is due to open in Sneinton. Their supermarket will be ideal for people who may be uncomfortable with going to food banks, and instead can enjoy a shopping experience without having to count the pennies.

“Ideally we’re looking for food that’s still packaged, past it’s best before date.”

Since the project was originally set up around a year and a half ago, the team have built strong connection with the council, and have managed to gain a substantial amount of funding from various organisations. “We’re very lucky with the amount of funding we’ve had to start us off,” Sam tells me. “We’ve had £8000 from the Uni of Nottingham, £3000 from the Ingenuity 2017 competition, and then we got £5000 from Ford. We also did a crowdfunding campaign with Jumpstart which got £1,300.” That comes to an impressive total of £17,300 which they will use towards the rent for the supermarket, employing a van driver to transport the donated food, and for the general upkeep, employee wages and food supply.

They’ve already had a great response from businesses, including the café at Middle Street Resource Centre in Beeston who donated some leftover bread (and recently offered Sam 130 boxes of eggs which, obviously, he had to turn down at this point), and allotment owners near Beeston Marina are letting them harvest their allotment and take away the produce, because there’s more than he needs. “Everyone’s been so supportive and helping us out so much. It’s exciting, it makes me happy that people are even thinking of us,” says Sam.

The main objective is for Foodprint to secure a strong network with local businesses who can offer them a supply of food which can be sold on. “Ideally we’re looking for food that’s still packaged, past it’s best before date. So many cafés might have cookies that are in packets and for the sake of quality purposes get thrown away,” explains Sam. “Whereas we’ll take them, we’re selling lower quality food but for a cheaper price.”

For example, if you were to go to the Foodprint supermarket, you can expect to find prices such as 40p for a can of beans, and 50p for a bag of pitta bread. They’re also working on future plans to implement a member’s scheme.

“We’ve got partners in Advice Nottingham, a number of social eating events, and social housing organisations,” reveals Sam. “The council work with Age UK where people might be disadvantaged. They’ll have access to a member’s scheme where they can get discounts on their shop, so if they couldn’t afford it they’ll get 50% / 75% off. Our objective is to ensure the food is going to the people that need it most.”

He adds: “We’re trying to bridge the gap between foodbanks and standard supermarkets. You can get caught in a cycle of dependency on food banks, so by giving a cheaper alternative to supermarkets you can work your way back on. You’re getting your choice back, you’re getting fresh food, and there’s no limit on how often you can go.”

Their slogan sums up perfectly what they’re trying to do: Eating for today, thinking of tomorrow. Not only will they save surplus food from being thrown away, they’re offering a more positive alternative to foodbanks for people who can’t afford to put food on the table. The contracts for the physical store have been signed, and by the time this article comes out, the social supermarket should be up and running.

You can increase Beeston’s support of Foodprint by working with the team. They’re always looking for volunteers, and you can contact Sam directly on 07769312531 or visiting the website at www.foodprint.io. The physical store will be located at: 101 Sneinton Road, Nottingham, NG2 4QL.

The best way for this project to reach its maximum potential is through social networking. If you know a business who could donate food, tell them about Foodprint.

JM

Bow Selecta

If I haven’t overstepped my deadline (something I do on a regular basis) this issue should be out in early December, just in time for the Beeston Christmas Lights Switch-on.

Almost every end of year magazine issue is full of ‘Round ups of the past year’ or ‘What will next year be like?’ articles and it would be wrong of The Beestonian to avoid such traditions, of course – but as I’ve written about my traumatic past year in previous issues and the coming year will be pretty trying too, let’s talk Christmassy stuff.

Robin Hood-ing for me is a very seasonal business, with summer tours at the Castle ending around the time of the October Robin Hood Beer Festival, yet again a splendid event albeit very moving as four local breweries had all made beers named in honour of my late wife Sal; the Robin Hood Pageant a week afterwards (except this year as it was cancelled due to extreme weather);  November’s MySight Nottingham Charity Firewalk which I’ve done annually for eight years now and the Nottingham Christmas Lights Switch on (which I confess this year I missed for the first time in about as long as I was at a prog rock festival in Wales).

But I do get to be Robin at several festive tours of the Castle caves, lots of tourism promotions and some banquets – and even get to change my costume colour from green to red (like some abstract mythical traffic light) as I’m also going to be Santa at the Albert Hall for the second year running, which is great fun.

And this year I’m going to Lapland to meet the real Santa.

In fact by the time you read this I’ll have been and come back, and I have no doubt it’s going to be very moving and emotional, as I have the huge honour to be travelling with a group of very poorly children and their families on a plane chartered by the ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’ charity, a superb Nottingham-based organisation who specialise in making very sick children’s dreams come true. A few years ago when I was doing medieval banquets at Center Parcs we did some shows for them and they were astounding – the joy, laughter and sheer fun we had just blew away our concerns it would be a sad or gloomy time, and I can only imagine the happiness on everyone’s faces as they meet Santa inside the Arctic Circle, see the Northern Lights and even get to meet husky teams in the frozen forest!

Of course the children being so ill makes a difference and it’s a long day for everyone – a 3am start and returning to East Midlands airport about 10pm at night (so the return journey will probably be a bit less riotous than the outbound one) but I was so pleased to have been asked, I love the idea of Robin Hood helping local children and their families have an unforgettable trip, and it certainly puts a lot of things in perspective.

And although Sal’s and my three year-old daughter Scarlett (who’ll be four on Boxing Day, where does the time go?) won’t be travelling with me she’ll be seeing one or more Nottingham-based Santas over the festive period. Last year she saw about three on various visits with family and friends and firmly decided the last Santa was the best because he greeted her by her name, knew all about her Gran-Gran Joy, her special cuddly White Bunny and not only gave them all a chocolate frog but also gave her one for Mummy who was poorly at home. And rather marvellously, Scarlett then asked for another one “For my Daddy, because he’s working”.

That was a truly beautiful moment and Santa was very moved. Because, dear reader, I was that Santa. And what’s more, she actually gave me the chocolate too. So from us both (and Santa) may we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

https://www.whenyouwishuponastar.org.uk/

Tim Pollard
Nottingham’s Official Robin Hood

The Living Wage

“World Class” University of Nottingham should do the right thing and pay the Living Wage say campaigners

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An alliance of trade unions, student organisations and other campaign groups has called on the new University of Nottingham (UoN) Vice Chancellor Professor Shearer West to do the right thing and officially commit the university to paying the Living Wage to all its staff.

Last week [Tuesday 14 November 2017] demonstrators brandishing mops, buckets and brushes held a “clean-in” demonstration to show solidarity with the hundreds of university workers, including cleaners and catering and estates staff, they say are being “underpaid and undervalued”.

The Nottingham University Living Wage Campaign (made up of trade unions UCU, Unison and Unite, together with Nottingham Citizens, Nottingham University Labour Students, UoN Feminists, Socialists Students Nottingham, Young Greens and UoN Left Society) says that hundreds of university employees are struggling to live on pay levels below the “real” Living Wage rate of £8.75 an hour (or around £17,000 per year). This hourly rate is set independently and updated annually each November by the Living Wage Foundation and is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK. It is the minimum that employees need to get by and considerably higher than the statutory National Living Wage rate of £7.50 an hour (which only applies to those aged 25 and over).

One cleaner explained how she is struggling to make ends meet as a result of being paid less than the Living Wage:

“My wages here just cover my Council Tax and rent. I’m paid on Thursdays at the end of the month, by Saturday I am already overdrawn again. I cut down on all bills as much as possible, I use the car only to go to work, all my expenses have to be tightly calculated. I depend on bargains when shopping for clothes and food, things on half-price, the sales. I don’t go out, I simply can’t afford to go out.”

Campaigners estimate that the maximum cost to the university in raising the pay of all its staff to at least the £8.75 an hour Living Wage rate would be about £1 million in the current financial year. This represents less than 6% of its £18 million surplus (in 2016) and around 0.3% of the total amount spent on staffing (£324 million in 2016).

The campaigners believe that signing up UoN as an accredited Living Wage employer could be massively influential in promoting the Living Wage both locally and across the Higher Education sector.

“The University of Nottingham prides itself on being a World Class University, a member of the “elite” Russell Group and one of the most popular universities in the country for student admissions,” said Nottingham University Living Wage Campaign member and UCU UoN Vice President Andreas Bieler. “The quality of education is closely linked to fair working conditions of members of staff. But despite paying the previous Vice Chancellor a basic salary of £295,000 and holding a surplus of £18 million in the financial year ending 31 July 2016, the University has failed to commit to paying all its staff a Living Wage. We are calling on the new Vice Chancellor, Professor Shearer West, to do the right thing and make a commitment for the university to become an accredited Living Wage employer   today.”

According to Shearer, UoN “paid the equivalent of the Voluntary Living Wage in the 2016/17 pay round and has every intention of doing so again in the 2017/18 pay round”. But the campaigners point out that because the Living Wage is re-calculated every November to take into account rising living costs and inflation, the cleaners’ wage is below living standards for nine months of the year.

Following the demonstration Shearer, UoN’s first female vice chancellor, confirmed that she will meet with some of the cleaning staff. The campaigners believe that signing up UoN as an accredited Living Wage employer could be massively influential in promoting the Living Wage both locally and across the Higher Education sector.

To find out more about and get involved in the University of Nottingham Living Wage Campaign see https://www.facebook.com/UoNLivingWage/ or contact Andreas Bieler: andreas.bieler@nottingham.ac.uk

For more information about the Living Wage campaign across the UK see www.livingwage.org.uk

AO

Motherhood #4

Motherhood at Christmas…

Crikey, that swung around as quickly as a toddler with a loaded paintbrush. Christmas is here again, the shops would have you believe that they are selling out of this years craze and school friends are swinging the vote for my daughter’s requests from Santa. This is our 6th Christmas as parents, and here’s my completely serious, helpful guide to a stress-free festive period.

Go abroad. Honestly, leave the country. I’m not talking about taking your partner and kids either, just you. Get on a cheap flight anywhere and even 2 weeks trekking the Gobi desert with no water will be a comparative breeze.

Fake your own death. Only until the January sales, mind. Don’t want to miss out on those 7O% off bargains in Debenhams do you? It’ll be a late Christmas present to your kids when you re-emerge, Lazarus-like, on the 6th. If you time it right the decorations will have put themselves away, too.

“Pop a box of mince pies to a mate or neighbour you haven’t seen in a while and don’t be worried about ignoring social media.”

Adopt an inappropriate wild animal. Accidentally trouser a baby squirrel from your local shelter. The entire family will be so focussed on hourly feeds and instagramming it wearing hats that they won’t notice your absence. You can spend Christmas in the local and by the time it’s all over the animal will be grown up and you can sell it for parts on the dark web.

Create a family treasure hunt which just leads them really far away. Hide clues at service stations up the M6 until they are on the Scottish border and you’ve turned the kid’s bedroom into a games room and are 29 hours deep into Call of Duty. When they inevitably call home just pretend you’ve got amnesia and don’t remember your former lives together.

Introduce the kids to horror films. This serves the duel purpose of keeping them very quiet AND brings up questions about their own mortality. Start with The Exorcist and work backwards. They’ll shore up a huge amount of appreciation for not being possessed by a demon over the festive period that you’re guaranteed to be lathered with gratitude come Christmas morning.

Now obviously I’m being a tad over-dramatic here (except about the baby squirrel – this is just plain sensible) but it’s worth keeping in mind that not everyone loves this time of year as much as they might seem. Pop a box of mince pies to a mate or neighbour you haven’t seen in a while and don’t be worried about ignoring social media, it can be an utterly false picture of how happy everyone else is. Look after yourselves first, and everyone around you will be happier as a result. Take care, kids, and if it all goes wrong I’ll see you in the Gobi desert.

DL

The Beeston Maltings

In 2013 Beeston lost a chunk of its heritage for ever and lost a historical industrial site.

The heritage and site in question was the former Beeston Brewery and later Beeston Maltings. The Beeston Brewery Company was formed in the late 1870s and a brewery was built in 1880 alongside the Midland Railway line between Nottingham and Derby. The company had its own railway sidings running off the mainline. The company had both malting and brewery functions on the same site. The architects were Wilson and Company and the builders were Waite, Corbould and Faulkner. It was the first brewery in England to have pneumatic maltings.

“Malt had been produced there since 1878, but closure meant not just the end of malting at Beeston, but the end of Nottinghamshire’s once extensive floor malting industry.”

An extension to the brewery was made in 1884 and a new barley store was added in 1898. In 1881 the manager was Alexander Anderson and who was replaced by Samuel Theodore Bunning in 1883. Bunning continued to manage the company until it was taken over by James Shipstone and Sons Limited in 1922. Brewing ceased and in 1924 Shipstones converted the buildings to a maltings.

In December 2000 the production of malt ceased at Beeston Maltings. It was the last floor maltings to operate in Nottinghamshire. Malt had been produced there since 1878, but closure meant not just the end of malting at Beeston, but the end of Nottinghamshire’s once extensive floor malting industry.

In 2009, plans were submitted to Broxtowe Borough Council to demolish the site to make way for 55 new homes, these plans were initially withdrawn. The Beeston and District Civic Society attempted to get the buildings listed by English Heritage. This bid was unsuccessful as well as an unsuccessful attempt to include the building within a conservation area – which would have given it a greater protection against alteration and demolition.

In 2009 a spokesman for the then current site owners Heineken – who had applied for permission to demolish the building – commented: “The maltings at Dovecote Lane have been redundant for many years. Over the last decade, the four-storey building has become unsafe and unsightly and the building has been a target for many acts of theft and vandalism, which have used up valuable police time. We believe that demolition offers the most viable way to end the constant safety and security problems associated with the building.”

Despite all the plans and campaigns to save the maltings nothing could be done to save the site. The site was deemed “unsafe” and “beyond saving”. The remaining buildings survived until 2012 when demolition started. The site was completely cleared in early 2013.

JN

The Yorkshireman Speaks

This month our Yorkshireman talks about the joys of being a young fogey…

Young fogey

Dear readers, its official, I am a proud “Young Fogey.” This body I inhabit is too young for me, don’t get me wrong I’m thrilled with its agility and thick, majestic blonde hair (my best feature by a mile) but the old guy in the control room is at least forty years ahead. I’m like a new model of Terminator, made from clothes collected from the PDSA charity shop, powered by Horlicks and pockets crammed full of Werther’s originals. This new model, lets call it the “T-with two sugars”, spends most of his time tutting about the younger generation and obsessing about all the trivial annoyances life throws his way. It doesn’t help that I’ve just bought a car primarily driven by pensioners. I didn’t realise this until I was in the dealership and I said to the salesman, “seven years warranty, what happens after that?” He said “I’ve no idea Mr Bennett, no-one has ever made it.”

“It’s strange to think that the younger generation of today will be in the old folk’s homes of tomorrow.”

Let’s look at the evidence for this “Young Fogey” phenomenon. Firstly, let’s take fashion. I always considered myself to be fairly trendy young man. The fact I’ve just used the phrase “trendy young man” would indicate that this isn’t probably true, but I find fashion today utterly baffling. I’ve recently embraced skinny jeans, much to my wife’s dismay. “All jeans are skinny jeans when you have legs like yours love, they just don’t look right, you’re thirty-eight and a father of two, it’s over, let it go.” She’s right of course, I can’t pull that look off. I was complaining the other day of pains in my calf muscles, I was going to book an appointment at the physio. I’d gone as far as to dial the number when it occurred to me to remove my jeans, instantly the pain stopped.

I’m just so confused by it all. I’ve seen the youngsters in their high trousers, with bare feet and leather slip on brogues. It looks like they’ve been to school, done a session of PE, lost their socks and put on their mate’s clothes by mistake.

Some of today’s fashion is so permanent, take tattoos for instance.  That’s quite a commitment to make, misjudge that one and you need lasers and surgery to put it right. More alarming than that is the holes in the ear lobes, stretchers they call them, plastic hoops forming gaping windows in your ears. I’m all for individualism but I think it makes your face look like a camping ground sheet, imagine what that will look like in your eighties? I suppose it’ll give somewhere for a nurse to hang a drip, when the NHS goes down the tubes they’ll be the ones laughing. I can’t talk to people with these things in, I just stare through these holes, I’m mesmerised and every time people are moving in the background, I think it’s the opening titles to a James Bond film.

It’s strange to think that the younger generation of today will be in the old folk’s homes of tomorrow. That’ll be an odd sight in that day lounge. They’ll be an old man, by the bay window, in a 3D printed wheelchair, with sleeve tattoos, vaping. The district nurse approaches, “Hi Jordan” Jordan?!? An old man called Jordan, a grandad called Jordan! “Jordan, it’s Sylvia the nurse love, turn down Stormzy and listen, I’m here to clean your nipple piercings.” This is only twenty years away from being a reality.

My grandad had stories to tell, he’d been on battleships in the war, he’d made it through seas with waves seventy-foot-high, torpedoes thundering towards them, what anecdotes this generation have to pass on? “I remember when I met your Grandma, remember her, Grandma Mercedes? We were doing zero-hour contracts at Sports Direct at the time, it was tough. I remember when we moved into our first house, last month actually, it took sixty-eight years to get on that ladder. I still recall our first date, her on her I-pad, me on mine, sharing videos on Lad Bible.”

Find the Scott Bennett Podcast on SoundCloud and iTunes

SB

I Am Beeston: Special Edition

For this issue of the magazine, I was asked by Matt, our editor in chief if I could do a more in depth interview for the #IamBeeston project.

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“Who was going to be the subject?” I enquired.  “Sandie Deacon of the Boathouse Café at Beeston Marina. She’s retiring after spending twenty five years in catering”.

Beeston Marina is always a great place to visit, with the narrow boats, the water and the scenery. There were quite a few people in the Café drinking tea and eating cake when I arrived to chat to Sandie. She was busy in the kitchen. So I drank a cup of hot chocolate whilst I waited.

To begin the interview I asked Sandie where she was born, and how she came to the Rylands. “I was born in Hurley, Berkshire. It was similar to the Rylands as there was one road in and out and close to the river. When I left school, I went to catering college in Slough. I got into cooking through my aunty. She was the catering manager at Handley Page, the aircraft manufacturer. I sometimes went to see her and she let me do some cooking. She used to cook for big events like Ascot and the Farnborough Air Show. I got my City & Guilds 706/1 and 706/2, which meant that I was allowed to wear the big white chef’s hat.”

Moving through the years a bit, Sandie met her partner Tony when they were both doing a sports course at the Lilleshall National Sports Centre in Shropshire. But Tony, a qualified PT instructor, lived in Birmingham, whilst Sandie was nearly a three hour journey away in Wokingham. So Sandie moved to this area, so she wouldn’t have so far to travel to be with Tony. “I saw a vacancy at a place in Stapleford, but was turned down, as I was over qualified. But Tony and I saw a job going at the bar next door to here. So I started there in October 2006. Then a few weeks later this café came up for sale. So we took it over, and have been here ever since. We also do outside catering for weddings, parties etc. We live in a mobile home around the corner. Which is good, as we are often here from five thirty in the morning.”

“Tony works four to five days a week. My daughter Sarah is the manager now that I’ve retired. Although I do help out when needed, as we sometimes get very, very busy. Take this morning, when we had a lot of fishermen in wanting a breakfast.”  I asked Sandie how she would be spending her time, now that she’s put down her mixing bowl. “I like photography. Especially birds. I’m always at the nature reserve, seeing what’s flown in. I do like kingfishers. I see them a lot, but they are difficult to photograph. I got a new Nikon camera for my birthday. I’m just saving up now for a better lens. I also like walking and reading.”

I asked Sandie about the history of the café. “It’s been here about twenty five to thirty years. Tony is into local history, and is a member of the Bramcote History Group.” Sandie highlighted a number of wooden plaques that were fixed to one of the doors. “These are of local people and customers that had sadly died. Here’s Owen’s.” Sandi touches the carved rugby ball with affection, and remembers Owen Jenkins, who unfortunately drowned this summer in the nearby weir whilst saving two girls that had fallen in the water. “It was so sad when Owen went. I knew him and his family. The way in which the people of Beeston responded was amazing. We did the catering at the funeral. No charge. It was the least we could have done.”

“We received four thousand votes on the Canal & River Trust’s recent ‘Best Riverside Café’ competition. We had a mystery diner in here.”

I noticed a photo of the late Mikk Skinner, who I had photographed for the #IamBeeston project a few weeks before he died. “He lived in one of the mobile homes too. Lovely bloke. The photo was given to us by one of his friends. Beeston is such a friendly place and the people are lovely. So laid back. I love it here. I sometimes think I’m at the seaside when I look out the window. There’s always something different to see throughout the year. There’s always something to do in Beeston, but I do wish events etc would be advertised more. There always seems to be a lack of advertising for events, even down here. I don’t know whose fault it is, but it should be improved.”

I also noticed some certificates and press cuttings about the café. “We are best known for our breakfasts and have received many comments in the Post newspaper. We received four thousand votes on the Canal & River Trust’s recent ‘Best Riverside Café’ competition. We had a mystery diner in here. The final is in Loughborough next week.”

Congratulations are now in order; as the Boathouse did indeed win in the East Midlands Waterside Hospitality Awards, and now have a certificate to prove it. I saw a photo on the back end of a Nottingham City Transport bus of the cafe. “I took that photo of the café. One of our customers spotted it on Mansfield Road and managed to get a shot of it.” The number of the bus is 908. So if you see it on your travels around Nottingham, give it a wave. “Buses around here are a bit hit an miss. I think there should be better transport in the Rylands, as people have missed hospital appointments, as their bus hasn’t turned up. I think the tram is good, and I will drive into Beeston and take it into town. You can park all day for two pounds.”

On the subject of transport, I’m sure many people will have seen the old World War II landing craft moored near the café. “That’s been in quite a few films now. The latest one starred George Clooney and Matt Damon (The Monuments Men) and we were hoping that they would have paid us a visit. But alas they didn’t. Suggs from Madness filmed here for an episode of a TV series called ‘WW2 Treasure Hunters’, which is shown on the History channel.”

The late afternoon sun was starting to set as we went outside, so I could take Sandie’s photo of her holding the now famous I Am Beeston sign. The last of the customers were leaving, and Sarah was collecting cups and plates from the tables as I said goodbye. And yes, I can see Sandie’s point about being at the seaside, with the water, the seagulls flying by and the pirate staring out from his crow’s nest.

CDF

Sojo Publishing Mouse

There’s a new publisher in town. They’re called Sojo Publishing Mouse, and they are a children’s publisher who are throwing the publishing rule book out of the window, and are seeking the best stories around. Here’s theirs…

Helen Goodbarton and Sophie Johnson-Hill are the creative minds behind the publishing company, and I met them both at The Milk Lounge in Beeston, surrounded by children…which was the ideal setting really!

Helen, 39, runs a performing arts school for young children in Beeston called Sprouts, and has been for the past 10 years. It was through this that her and Sophie, 36, both met, as Sophie’s children used to attend the sessions.

Sophie is the creator of Sojo Animation, which she started whilst doing an MA in Puppetry and Digital Animation at Nottingham Trent University. Her research on the course was focussed on encouraging creativity in children.

“I’d just chat to a little one and find out how they think and how they feel about certain things,” says Sophie. “If they said something particularly brilliant I would take that sentence and get them to draw a self-portrait and I would animate their words coming out of their artwork.” She called these individual animations ‘Thunk of the Day’, and they can be found on the Sojo Animation YouTube channel.

So while Sophie was doing this, Helen was working with children through Sprouts. “There’s a theme each term and a story the kids follow. There are poems and songs that we learn that I wrote,” explains Helen. “I’ve written four years’ worth of adventures.”

It was when Sophie was in the process of making some puppets that she had an idea to involve Helen in her preparations for a Christmas workshop with children. “I wanted to make giant puppets out of willow and paper, I wanted to make glowing snowmen,” Sophie tells me. “I asked Helen to join forces with me so the kids can understand the story of this snowman. I asked her to make up a story about a snowman who swallowed a firefly by mistake and then doesn’t know what to do about it. I handled the making of the puppets while Helen took them on this huge adventure,” says Sophie. “Afterwards Helen read me the story and it was a beautifully written book with rhyming couplets.”

The Glowing Snowman tester9

“I’d written a few things before and I’d even sent one story off to a publisher,” explains Helen. “Then I wrote this. You know they say everyone has a story in them that needs to be told? This is mine.”

At this point, they both decided to see if they could find a publisher, going with the idea that the story would be Helen’s, and Sophie would be the illustrator. But after exploring the world of children’s publishing, they discovered a few rules that would stop them in their tracks.

“Aside from lots of other rules that publishers have, a lot of them won’t take a book that’s already illustrated by somebody else, because they have in-house illustrators,” Helen tells me. “I feel it would be wrong if it wasn’t with Sophie’s pictures.”

Sophie adds: “There are rules about which of the pages needs to be a double page spread regardless of what’s happening at that point in the story, or how many times a theme should re-occur within the story. It’s like a guide to how a kids book ‘should’ be.

“We needed this creative publishing company that cut out all of these ridiculous rules”

In an industry that is all about something that is so beautifully creative, to cut creativity with rules is just frankly insane,” she says.

This made them realise that there must be other people out there in the same position as them. Sophie says, “We’re not the only fantastically, originally talented authors and illustrators in Nottingham, there’s loads of us, and there must be loads of people who aren’t telling their stories because of the restrictions.”

Helen adds: “That was where we stopped and went, shall we do this ourselves? How do we do it ourselves?”

And that’s exactly what they did. They set up Sojo Publishing Mouse with the intention of throwing the rule book out of the window.

“We needed this creative publishing company that cut out all of these ridiculous rules,” says Sophie. “We’re gonna set out our book just as we want to, just as it’s calling to be set out. The whole ethos was calling for people to get behind it and be a part of our journey.”

The Glowing Snowman tester

They actually had the idea a couple of years ago, but with Sophie doing her MA and Helen having a baby, they’ve only just got round to launching it properly. They set up a Kickstarter campaign as a way to get more people involved in their vision for children’s publishing. Sophie described pressing publish on the campaign as a “moment of impending doom.”  When I met them, the campaign for their first book The Glowing Snowman had only recently gone live, but they already had around £800 raised.

They had no reason to panic, as their final total came to £3, 986 which was almost £1000 above their original target. After this incredible result, Helen has this to say:

“We were so pleased and overwhelmed with the success of our Kickstarter campaign; to see so many people take interest and belief in our project, and not just to reach our target but to surpass it so well. It means we’ll have more funds not only to invest in selling this book, but in creating our next one too! We’re very excited to get cracking with this little publishing mouse!”

Make sure to like them on Facebook at: @sojopublishingmouse

JM