Author: Isaac

Featured Artist – Connor Hattamsworth

With an extensive range of subjects, so meticulously detailed, it might surprise you to know that all of Connor’s early illustrations were drawn by hand, which is a method he still favours. It’s pretty time consuming but mindful at the same time. He started off in pencil or pen then scanned his work into an old Mac Pro, using Photoshop and sometimes Illustrator to refine the image. More recently he has been transitioning to using an iPad so most of his current work is now produced digitally, which allows Connor to complete his commercially sold work more quickly and lends itself better to large print runs like his popular greetings card range. He is keen to maintain control over the process though, so is still printing to order at his home studio on the university side of Beeston. He particularly appreciates choosing the paper for his prints.

I first discovered Connor’s work a couple of years ago but he tells me that his drawing style has been developed over a number of years. He loved art growing up in Coventry, and at school was incredibly lucky to have access to graphic design and ceramic lessons as well as classic drawing and painting. This lead him to undertake a one-year Foundation Art Degree in nearby Leamington which he especially enjoyed. He saw this experience as ‘a great leveller’ – whatever their skill or ability everyone has to start at the same point and undertake the experimental and practice drawing activities before refining their individual style.

His early work draws a lot on nature and mentions his bear illustration as one of his favourites. Living on the edge of the urban landscape of Coventry gave him access to the countryside and opportunities to hang out with his friends, camping in woodlands and temporarily experiencing the ‘mountain man’ lifestyle. Whenever one of the group would undertake some kind of ‘basic survival’ activity the phrase ‘ mountain man makes fire’ or ‘mountain man cooks’ was a familiar call. This in fact where the name ‘Mountain Man Draws’ originates.

It took a few years and a couple of direction changes for Connor to become the successful illustrator that he is today. The art history course at Nottingham University was shelved simply because it wasn’t a good fit but also he was starting to think about how he could combine his creative imagination with a job that would pay the bills. He made the switch to an education degree at Trent. The Primary Ed course is pretty intense and didn’t leave much time for anything else, consequently, Connor began to realise how vital his art was to his well-being and executed another U-turn. He finished the course a year early, having made the decision that teaching wasn’t working for him either, and hasn’t looked back since.

Yellowstone by Connor Hattamsworth (Mountain Man Draws)

2019 was a pivotal year for Connor. It was the year he identifies as one of ‘opportunities and growth.’ He stopped seeing illustration as a creative hobby and began to view it as something he could make into a fully-fledged business. Kicking off the year with an exhibition of his nature drawings at Pepper Rocks in February, standing at a number of craft fairs with his wife Nic, and expanding his range of stockists out of Nottingham and as far as Devizes he was encouraged by the response to his work. Nic supports the business with her social media skills and selling at markets, which Connor sees as greatly instrumental to his success. He has allowed the business to grow organically and doesn’t want to become a servant to social media – maintaining his authenticity is a key focus.

When I talk to Connor about his work, he is both exacting and modest. He knows what he is good at but he doesn’t like to shout about it. He loves ‘bikes, woodwork, nature, dogs, coffee, beer and of course drawing’ which happen to some of my favourite things too. He also appears to have a soft spot for Bill Murray, which I fully endorse! The man who has a passion for mountains also values his place in his community. In among the easy conversation we are having on the steps at Lakeside he tells me about his inspirations and how he doesn’t feel that being an illustrator is a ‘real job’ – it feels too easy! He is enthused by the support for his art and clearly finds a great deal of joy in what he does. This is evident in his attention to detail. There is something about the permanence of pen that encourages him to favour it as a medium, once the mark is made it is committed forever.

The pandemic has been a productive time for the mountain man, with his mountain woman working from home in her role as advisor for the IntoUniversity programme.  Connor embraced the new pattern of life. Being motivated to work in the morning leaves time for a wander to the post box with orders in the afternoon, building fresh air and exercise into the working day. Although there is a fair bit of commission work, most of his sales are acquired through Etsy.

It is through Etsy that Connor connected with the man who commissioned him to illustrate his latest book. A gentleman in his late 80s, who writes books about what he is really interested in, has provided another interesting opportunity for Mountain Man to draw. Although nature has been a constant subject, you will also find playful illustrations of film stars, dinosaurs and regional maps when you browse Etsy or his social media feeds. I am particularly taken with the recent illustrations for an upcoming children’s book, which from what I can see will be pretty magical.

You can browse Connor’s range of illustrations on his website and catch him in person at the new White Rose (or any charity shop really), The Bean, the Crow Inn or Lagan.


Bow Selecta: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!” sang the late and very much lamented David Bowie, commenting on the state of the world (unless he was pretending to be a steam train approaching a major station, which I doubt), and I’d love to know what he’d make of the state of the planet now. Personally, I think when he and the equally missed Lemmy (from Motorhead) died, that was the start of the world slipping into some form of dark, unpleasant alternate right-wing Trumpian universe… but I digress before I’ve even started, which is good going even for me.

The world always has and always will change; people have gone through times of feast and famine, peace and war, joys and sorrows, Bowie and Jedward (etc). Since time began and we have more change ahead of us here in Beeston too. In a couple of hours, I’ll be heading off to one of our newly re-opened pubs for a (hopefully lovely) socially distanced Sunday lunch sat outside in what looks to be glorious weather. How different from a few months ago when the world was cold and grey, everything was closed, the news was relentlessly depressing and the only social interaction I had was with postie and Amazon drivers.

We’ve lost a few shops and businesses too in that time (indeed one near me appears to have closed without ever having open up; an empty shop had a big refurbish, new window signs in anticipation of opening and then… nothing. Signs gone, windows whited again…). However, more shops, restaurants and venues are opening up now and there seems to be a dynamism and buzz about Beeston that’s impossible to repress (not that I’m trying). Older readers may recall a time when Beeston had a cinema, but now we have a new facility on the verge of opening, the market is back and whilst we may lament some old favourites (I miss you, Chimera Games) we have loads of new restaurants and shops to support.

But what about *us*, the people of Beeston? How has this past year (and longer) affected you? Not at all – or at least very little – for some; massively for others in terms of health, wealth and happiness. Some losses will stay with people for the rest of their lives, but I hope as a community we can pull together to support each other even though it’s been a tough time.

It’s easy (especially in a world where we’ve been hiding away and deliberately avoiding human contact) to retain that wariness and suspicion and allow it to grow into mistrust or even fear; reports of pet and bike thefts or the antisocial behaviour of children and teenagers in parks can take hold and colour a world view more than is desirable. Are things worse than they used to be? There are quotes from ancient Greeks bemoaning the lack of respect youngsters show to their elders, I think it was ever thus. Bike thefts in the area do seem appalling, but a friend in the Police tells me the whole ‘pet napping thing really isn’t an issue (or at least certainly nowhere near as bad as the media (and social media) frenzy around it suggests.

And maybe it’s the weather but I’m feeling a bit more positive too; even though there’s still no Robin Hood work around I’m getting things done in the garden and around the house and something’s changed in my head too – it feels like a genuine determination to move forward, to be positive and not to let a bleak past claw me back into the black and grey.

A positive attitude has to be a good thing I’m sure – for me and for all of us, and for Beeston. For as the great Mahatma Gandhi (himself a one-time visitor to Beeston)* said to the little boy who had swallowed a number of coins and wanted to know how to get them back, “Just Wait. Change is inevitable”.

* I know, he didn’t really say it, Disraeli did – but he never visited Beeston, so Gandhi’s way cooler.


Difficult roads, beautiful destinations

(noun) an unusual, exciting or daring experience, journey or series of events.

In the spirit of the approaching summer and Covid restrictions easing, stretching our legs further afield or planning a little holiday may be at the forefront of our minds. A longing to escape the confines of the borough will have driven some of us to scrutinise the new ‘rules’ and look at what kind of accommodation will be open to use should we wish to plan our escape. Some would say that this ‘lockdown’ has been a long trek.

One of the easiest ways to get away and stay Covid safe is to go camping. Now it might still be a little chilly for some of you to consider getting your tent out, but if you own a caravan or campervan then you are likely to be able to load it up with all the essentials and motor off somewhere this summer. Campervans are possibly the greatest, and coolest, invention to date. A compact home on wheels, they can take you anywhere, plus they allow you to access all basic amenities with minimal set-up on arrival. Not only that, they are great fun!

It was one local couple’s love of the campervan lifestyle that lead to a delightful creative project that captured our imagination for this issue of the Beestonian. James and Alice Kellett embarked on their children’s book almost five years ago. ‘Dub! A Campervan Adventure’ was written by James and Illustrated by Alice, who has a little bit of an obsession with the VW campervan and left behind a career in teaching to pursue her dream of becoming an artist – mainly painting the classic VW split screen campervan.

James started the story, asking Alice to illustrate it, knowing that Alice’s young daughter Isla would love it. Shortly after getting together, Alice started her business Pretty Splitty and James was kept busy running Froth at Chilwell’s Creative Corner, which later became known as Canvas & Coffee. Getting married, buying their first campervan and then having their first child meant that Alice didn’t get much spare time to work on the illustrations for Dub, and it wasn’t until the national lockdown last spring that Alice returned to them. With the coffee shop closed and Alice heavily pregnant with their second child, having the book to work on was a real positive focus.

The book

Alice completed the illustrations in May and their son was born shortly after. The book still needed to be digitised, layout defined, a cover added, and edits completed before it was ready for publishing. The couple self-published, and due to the second lockdown, they were able to get off to print ready for release in December 2020. Since then Dub! has been shipped to Japan, Australia, the USA, Canada, Spain, Sweden and all over the UK.

Isla is the ‘baby’ at the front of the book amusing herself with the jangly keys when Dub becomes detached and tumbles into the gutter. He appears to have been woken from a slumber by the fall, and free from the chains of the keyring he embarks on his own adventures. The call of the open road beckons but it was a lonely life for Dub. He tries to make friends and meets an assortment of characters along the way with humorous but also disastrous consequences.

Reflecting on his less than perfect adventures, he is nevertheless filled with an air of contentment, a poetic parallel for those of us who may be looking back over the past year remembering the challenges with an air of relief, reassured that somehow we got through it. Sometimes the journeys we find ourselves on are less than smooth, but we learn from them and we grow. And judging by the final image in the book, Dub is definitely a lot surer of himself than he was when he first started his journey! These adventures end with him basking on a sun-baked beach and giving us a cheeky wink.

James enthused about how well the book has been received: “We’ve absolutely loved receiving feedback from the little ones who have read our book. To think that there are Dub books all over the world, potentially being enjoyed at any moment is a really cool thought. We had a friend who brought their little boy over this week and he saw our campervan on our drive he said “look Mum it’s Dub!”, which was amazing! Our lives have been so full-on during lockdown looking after our children and home-schooling that releasing the book feels like a distant memory at times, so whenever we get a bit of feedback it makes our day.”

The book is gorgeous. A great introduction to Dub and so well written and illustrated.’ (Paul) ‘My son loves it and asked me to read to him 3 times when we got it.’ (Emma)
Work has already started on Dub’s next adventure, though James realises that finding time in their busy life will be a challenge. Nevertheless, he is really looking forward to his coffee shop reopening, seeing his customers again and their reactions to Dub, which will also be on sale as well as their famous waffles!

Click here for the Canvas & Coffee website
The book can also be purchased here



Nicholas Cage*: The inside scoop

We’ve had many famous types pass through our town, and some even make it their home.

One who is more prominent than most is Nicholas Cage, who for several years has been staring from his window for several years now, like a sentinel watching over the Square ensuring that harmony reigns. Despite being notoriously taciturn, and made of cardboard, we still decided to approach the star of The Croods, Color Out of Space and other films you somehow overlooked existing and get the inside story:

Sorry the Oscars overlooked you this year. How you feeling?

Yeah man, I really thought I had a fighting chance with my new film, Jiu-Jitsu (it’s on Netflix, go watch) but it’s all politics man.

You took up residence above the High Street crossing in Beeston a few years back? What attracted you to the town?

Was drinking in this little pub the Pottle and one thing led to another and I moved in with this Irish guy, nice guy, but always made me do the pots.

You subsequently disappeared for a few years, causing much distress among Beestionians. Where did you go, and why did you desert us??

Ah man, I had to go get in fighting shape for my new film Jiu-Jitsu, have you seen it? You should see it. And then Covid hit and I couldn’t get back to my Irish Bro…

We’re grateful you’re back and looking better than ever. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen from your excellent vantage point?

Couple of pigeons fighting over a Greggs sausage roll. Not Jiu Jitsu style though.

You once appeared on an edition of Channel 4 News when they recorded a piece from Beeston. Was this the highlight of your screen career?

I did?

Yes you did.

Man. I guess my highlight so far is living in Beeston, want my face on that wall next to Tesco though.

What words of wisdom have you for the people of Beeston?

Wear your mask dudes and dudettes or we’ll be having a Face-Off…


Many thanks to Cardboard Nic Cage’s agent, Peter Daly, for arranging this interview. Jiu Jitsu is now available on Netflix. Spare yourself, and don’t watch it. Honestly.


I am Beeston: Ron Neighbour

“I am originally from Birmingham and came to Beeston on the Easter Bank Holiday in 1964, to view a business which was for sale on the High Road. I was pleased to see the road packed with shoppers and many small independent businesses supplying a wide range of goods. So, I bought the butchery business from G Eddowes.

“Beeston and the High Road have proved to be a great place to work and live, with many amenities within walking distance.

“Having had the pleasure of serving many Beeston residents over many years, I don’t believe that you would find better people anywhere.

“Kind, amicable and with a fun sense of humour. I remember once asking a customer how they cook their meat. They said; “Until smoke comes out of the oven.

“I believe that many Beeston residents today would love to be able to go back to personal face to face shopping at small independent shops and be served by a smiling assistant.

“But alas time moves on”.


How outdoor sport in Beeston is bouncing back

After the darkest winter in recent memory, spring has arrived with blossom on the trees and the country now having the freedom to play outdoor sport again. Isaac Seelochan speaks to the sports club chairman, secretary and those who are delighted that their daily exercise is no longer just walking and jogging.

Most local sports clubs across the country would have been fearing for their future when lockdown first struck Britain in March last year.

Despite being given a temporary rest bite last summer, they soon had to close their doors again during a second national lockdown in November.

This was followed by a third at the start of the year which many believed to be the worst yet.

But after the dreary winter months of January and February, the country is outside again and enjoying the smell of freshly mowed grass and the thunderous sounds of an ace.

Any club without its members cannot survive so those in charge are understandably pleased to be back.

“We’re absolutely delighted because we know how much people want to play,” says Chris Clift, chairman of Chilwell Tennis Club who were voted club of the year by LTA Nottinghamshire for 2020.

“Obviously we can only have up to six people but if we find that it gets booked up then we have another six who play later on.”

Left to right: Chilwell Tennis Club treasurer, Peter Whitehouse, and club chairman, Chris Clift, with the club of the year award

The clubs enforced closures over the past year have given them time to upgrade to all-weather courts.

They will now be open beyond the spring and summer months after years of attempting to improve the club.

The 67-year-old added: “We managed to get funding from Sport England, Nottinghamshire County Council and the Chilwell Memorial Institute have pitched in as well.

“The dream has virtually become a reality.”

Whilst many will be eagerly returning to the clubs they have missed; some are taking part for the first time.

Denise Preet, 58, recently had her very first experience of Chilwell Tennis Club and is thrilled that the lifting of restrictions allows her to play the sport she loves on a brand-new surface.

“My friend has been a member for a few years, and she told me we ought to come down and have a look at the new surface because we like to play,” she said.

“The surface is innovative and with my knees being of an older age I will hopefully be able to play for longer.”

Denise Preet, 58, hopes the new court at Chilwell Tennis Club will help her play on for longer 

Nottingham Croquet Club are also enjoying being back as club secretary Ellen Gee explains.

She said: “We were well and truly ready to open again because a lot of our members have been stuck at home, so it was nice for them to come back and play.

“Membership has been static since we reopened which is good as some clubs have lost a lot of members because people are having to shield.

“We’re also having three open days this year as our first one was invitation-only due to us having to facilitate a reduced lawn capacity because of covid restrictions.”

The club held a junior day for school children during the Easter holidays with one of those in attendance being eight-year-old, Tilly Hallam, who enjoys the social side of croquet as well as playing several other sports.

“I enjoy that I can see friends as well as playing,” she says.

“I also do swimming and hockey.”

Eight-year-old Tilly Hallam is a fan of croquet

The lifting of restrictions has arrived at the perfect time for Adam Plumbley, chairperson of Beeston & Toton Sycamore Cricket Club, as preparations for their season get underway.

The 32-year-old research librarian began his tenure when they were struggling for volunteers and players after suffering several relegations on the bounce.

Several players were tired of the negativity at the club and started holding secret pub meetings before Adam and several others took over from the previous long-standing board in 2019.

They were one of the few clubs last summer who met the necessary criteria to play on public land under Covid restrictions and Adam is pleased that remains the case.

He said: “It was relief in the fact that we know we’re going to get a season and I think it was key that you’re allowed to go and do sport before you can go to somewhere like the pub.

“The big thing about cricket is that it is a very social sport in terms of the time that you get to spend with a wide group of people who you wouldn’t necessarily meet anywhere else, as well as the idea of being able to go outside and enjoy the summer days that we’re hopefully going to get.”

The club has worked hard like most to ensure that they can re-open with several safety steps needing to be considered before opening their doors again.

“We’ve had to do quite a lot of covid based risk assessments including all the steps that we’re taking to reduce transmission,” Adam says.

“We have a set of guidelines from the ECB (the England and Wales Cricket Board) including that we’re only allowed to practice in groups of six and if we are at games, we need to have breaks every six overs to make sure everyone’s washing their hands.

“A few players who are more vulnerable chose not to play last year but many have come back recently because of the vaccine rollout and their confidence in the procurations we’ve taken, which I think demonstrates the positive work we’ve done.”

The one clear message from everyone is the welcome return of the social side of sport which has been sorely missed over the past year.

Normality in everyday life may still be some way off but the return of outdoor sport signals the road towards it.

Click here to find out more about Chilwell Tennis Club.

Those interested in joining Nottingham Croquet Club should contact them here.

Email if you are interested in joining Beeston & Toton Cricket Club.


Featured Artist – Anjana Cawdell

You might recognise Anjana’s delightful impressionistic work from local craft events and the annual
ABC Art Trail, where she has become a regular exhibitor. Summoning up the courage to apply for a
stall at a small craft market in the town hall, she was so excited when she sold her first painting. This
gave Anjana the push she needed to join the ABC Art Trail at the end of May 2015 and then exhibit
for the I Love Beeston art trail in August 2015, organised by fellow artist Helen Stevenson. She was
pleased with how her watercolours glowed ethereally from the blank walls of Cheryl’s Curtains at
the bottom of Chilwell Road, and was delighted by the way local businesses connected with artists in
the community, generating interest in locally produced art.

It was as a child that Anjana first experienced and enjoyed painting with watercolours, but she didn’t
really develop her style until after her children were born and she joined a watercolour class at
Artworks on Chilwell Road, just over ten years ago. She recalls the instructor Rob Sharple’s
‘incredible loose style’ and how she quickly she became hooked on this form of expression.
Eventually this would inspire her to run her own workshops, something she has really missed
delivering this past year. She enjoys sharing her passion for painting with others and the social
connections she has made through her art.

Anjana attributes her success with watercolours as patience, practice and being in just the right
frame of mind when she sits down to paint. She favours a relaxed style where she can achieve a
mindful state and really enjoy the positive effects of the process. She recognises that painting in
watercolours can be frustrating, the consistency of the paint has to be spot on for the desired
outcome and overworking a piece is something she tries to avoid – I admire the way that she creates
such detail with minimal marks.

With Attenborough Nature Reserve on the doorstep, Anjana is never short of influences and
attributes her love of the natural world to time spent living in Kalyani, a very green suburban town of
West Bengal and visiting her dad’s village home. He loved nature and would continually reference
the names of plants and wildlife as she played and took walks around the local area – much to young
Anjana’s annoyance! However, his passions definitely rubbed off on her and she looks back on these
memories with great fondness. Later when they moved to Kolkata her dad facilitated the planting of
trees at every available opportunity, to supplement the sparser green spaces.

Although she didn’t appreciate it as a child, a respect for flora and fauna and the wildlife that
inhabits it was ‘sown in’ her and she is now realising the impact this has had on her, especially during
the pandemic. Nature is such a relief when you are confined to your home, you really do appreciate
its presence again when you can go out and explore. She identifies the pull being the way nature is
constant, it changes everyday and it give us hope. If ever she was feeling low, Anjana would find
solace by walking in the nature reserve and would always return home feeling better.

With her two children at home for much of the past year, Anjana has struggled to find time and
space to paint but the creativity hasn’t stopped altogether. She is using this time for research,
making detailed sketches that will inform future work and this has been very satisfying. She has
recently taken up running, another excuse to get outside and immerse herself in nature. Anjana
enjoys the way that flowers mark the changing of the seasons. There is beauty in every stage, from
first buds to the dried seed heads. She recalls fondly, “my dad used to buy so many flowers we used
to get fed up of arranging them, ‘more flowers!’ my mum would exclaim." And with a keen gardener
for a husband Anjana has plenty of subject matter close to hand.

She is so inspired by nature’s allure, almost sighing when she describes the sight of ‘sunlight falling
on tree trunks and light filtering through leaves.’ It is those sensory experiences, moments of calm,
and snapshots of her surroundings that truly sparks her imagination. Birds, bees and butterflies have
also become part of her growing repertoire and Anjana believes it is important to paint what you
like. If your soul doesn’t connect with what you see, then “your best work doesn’t come out.” She
doesn’t allow herself to think commercially and is always really flattered when people are
complimentary about her work, even more so when they want to own it. She tells me that she is
never quite happy with where she is at artistically, “the goal keeps moving, but that’s how you

She has been really grateful for all the support she has been shown via social media and sales
through the website, it really has been a tonic in amongst all the ‘doom and gloom.’


‘It’s very peaceful, it’s relaxing and has done a lot for my health’ – Beeston canal boat owner describes his experience of life on a boat

Normal life revolves around buying a house, creating a family and having a successful career. But for these two men, life wasn’t just about sticking to social norms, they wanted to explore life in a new way; through water. Moored on the Beeston canal, John Dubson, 75, and Jim Goodsin, 64, describe life on board.

Mr Dubson has been part of canal life for 31 years and has had his wide-beam boat, the Neveah, since 2016.

John has had three boats in his life but prefers his dutch-barge styled boat which is bigger than his previous ones with a fitted kitchen and living room area.

He said: “I am limited to where I can go because of the size but I can still go to rivers because they are wide. This’ll be the last boat for me and it is too much for just one person.”

The boater explains how covid has restricted his movement but is now excited for the return to normality.

He added: “We can’t move at the moment. I’ve always been a continual cruiser so you move every 14 days. I’m waiting till later this month to have some repairs done to the boat.”

The Neveah on the Beeston canal

Jim Goodinson has lived in Beeston since the mid-90s and has had canal boats for 23 years.

The Whirligig is a second-hand cruiser stern boat that Jim got back in 2012.

Jim said: “Whirligig was the name on it, some people believe it’s bad luck to change a boat. I rent my house out and live on the boat most of the time.”

Even with the pandemic, Jim explains last year was the busiest year for him as a painter and decorator as he booked lots of jobs but is looking to retire soon.

He adds: “Covid has slowed boating down and the Canal and Riverside Trust has asked us to try not to move if it’s not essential but you can move for things such as fuel.

“99% of boaters have stuck to that rule.”

Jim with the Whirligig all dressed up for D-Day

The boaters have known each other for over eight years and last summer travelled to Lincolnshire together.

Jim said: “I would say there’s a community vibe, majority of people all know each other in Beeston. We look after one another.”

They both enjoy the benefits of nautical living and how it’s given them the opportunity to experience new ways of life.

John said: “It’s a good life. You just relax and chill out.

“I’ve seen some really lovely places and I’ve been all around England. Boating is a fantastic life.”

Jim, like John, agrees with life being more peaceful: “Living on the water you get a lot of chilled out time and there aren’t as many pressures.

“It’s got a lot of nature, I have swans tapping on the windows most mornings, something you don’t always get to see if you live in a house.

“It’s very peaceful, it’s relaxing and has done a lot for my health”.

Jim Goodinson’s boat in the winter where he has decorated it for Christmas day

The canal cruisers explain the importance of understanding boat life before taking the plunge and buying a boat.

John’s advice is to hire one out first and see if you like it as boating life isn’t always easy.

John said: “People have died on their boat from the cold in winter. If you do like boating but are not retired, hire a boat. You’ve really got to be retired to travel.”

Jim said: “Boating is something you either take to or you don’t.

“You get a lot of people walking around in summer and saying how nice it looks.

“When winter comes those boats are for sale. You’ve got to be a certain breed to get through winter.”

The Canal and Riverside Trust have stated that canal boaters can cruise freely and stay overnight on their boat. No indoor mixing on boats is allowed until 17 May, in line with Government restrictions.

Boat travelling suspensions were lifted 12 April 2021 meaning Jim and John can enjoy their freedom of movement across the waters.


Beeston Film Festival returns for it’s seventh edition!

The Beeston film festival is set to return this March for its seventh year to celebrate and showcase international short films in the heart of Beeston.

Festival organiser, John Currie, deliberately associated the festival with Beeston, to give something back to his community, a community of strong artists and performers:

“When we started there was not a Nottingham Film Festival at the time, and we could not call ourselves that. So, we deliberately said ‘we are going to be the Beeston Festival’, this is what we wanted”.

The Festival, which is the biggest international Top 100 Best Reviewed short-film festival, will see a wide range of short-movies competing for the BOscar, the Oscar of Beeston.

The programme, which will run from Monday 22 to Sunday 28 March, will be online for the second time this year and will present over 150 films from over 80 different countries at 3 local venues:

“It is going to be a totally jam-packed international program with movies from Africa, America, France, all around Europe, China and Australia,” said John.

The festival will also host famous actors, such as local famous BAFTA-winning actress, Vicki McClure, Dame Maureen Lipman and Helen Lederer among new and emerging talents.

A wide range of genre will be presented, going from Horror, Comedy, Drama to Women’s Voices and Pride. Selections were accurately made by a team drawn from the local community of film enthusiasts:

“This year we had over 650 entries to the festival. So, our local team of film lovers have been reviewing them and going through the selection process. This means we had to watch all the films carefully and respectfully to make the right choices” added John.

Helping with the festival organisation are also 10 NTU interns working full and part-time behind the scenes. An opportunity for them to really get involved in the organisation.

“They are great. They are really helpful and really help enable us to do things that we haven’t done before. The interns will be very much involved in creating a preview program. So just before the festival starts”.

The preview of the program will include interviews with the directors of the films which have been shortlisted for the best and festival awards.

Like last year, the festival will go ahead totally online, and John and his team have had to find new ways to engage people in a covid-safe environment:

“Last year we utilised Facebook Live. But, over the past few years there has been a real growth in new platforms so that is why our social media manager Francesca has been working to explore the opportunity of expanding into TikTok, which is taking over the world”.

Excitement and hopes are also high for the opening of the Arc Cinema, which is scheduled to open its doors in the centre of Beeston this summer. The brand-new cinema, which will offer digital

laser projectors, immersive surround sounds and luxury seats, other than a café/bar area, is set to bring new opportunities and changes for Beeston and its Film Festival, to create a real festival atmosphere in the town:

“I am really excited about it, especially because I have spoken with Arc, and they are actually excited about getting involved with the festival but also having short film nights during the year, to give filmmakers additional screenings. When the cinema will open up, we will look into having regular monthly screenings where we can share some of the back catalogue of films that have been submitted earlier because… Let’s have a break from Netflix!”.

Talking about the future of the festival and for the Beeston community, John has really high hopes:

“Once we get the next in-person festival out of the way our inspiration is to move from one week to two weeks of screening. And we will start introducing feature films as well. We really want to move into a space where we have a longer festival. So, I am very excited about the future”.

Tickets are available to purchase here. Costs range from £10 pounds plus booking fee for the whole festival to £2.50 for individual sessions.


The Staggering Optimism of Students

It’s a turbulent time for everyone, none more so than for the thousands of students currently studying at our city’s university who are nowhere near our city.

Most students have gone back home, wherever home might be. It could be abroad, or hundreds of miles down the road to the coastal parts of our country, but they’re still part of this broken and haphazard group we call the student body. As a university student myself, this year has been the most difficult so far, completing all our lectures, seminars and assignments from the dining room table whilst the rest of your family bustle around you and try and find the small piece of normality they still have left.

It’s been hard to remain positive for many, with social interaction with other students confined to a fortnightly Zoom quiz and Netflix party. It’s been a shock to the system and a change that many weren’t prepared for. But there are a few ways that students are keeping their spirits high during these unprecedented times.

Olivia Stock, 21, an English student at the University of Nottingham, has found refuge in her extracurricular opportunities that have found a way to continue throughout the pandemic.

She said: “Student media has been a lifeline for me during the pandemic. When things were unsettled, it offered a real sense of purpose and constancy. Having the time to indulge in creative projects has been brilliant and for students who often feel anxious or overwhelmed by small-group study sessions, the online learning environment has made for a more comfortable and reassuring experience.”

Olivia also noted how moving back in with her parents helped prepare her for her life after she finishes university as she fully expects to have to live with them for a while again whilst searching for a job.

She added: “For me, living at home for periods of time during the pandemic has helped eliminate that irrational student fear about moving back in with parents post-graduating. I think there’s a real stigma about not walking straight into a job after university, so the pandemic has really shown me that it isn’t all bad!”

“This third lockdown has been particularly tough, being stuck inside all day during the winter months can be really tolling at times.”

Lewis Tibbs, 22, a Broadcast Journalism student at Nottingham Trent University also admitted that he has found it more difficult to concentrate during the current lockdown but has found small ways to stay motivated.

He said: “This third lockdown has been particularly tough, being stuck inside all day during the winter months can be really tolling at times. But there has been a lot of positivity to come out of it as well. I’ve used lockdown to recuperate and refocus and to really think about what I want to achieve and what I want to do with my life. I’ve thrown myself into my work and tried my best to prepare myself for my life post-graduation. It’s given me a purpose every day and something to wake up for.”

Lewis also added that the changes to his university degree have been significant, but he managed to find the positives in those as well.

He admitted: “University isn’t the same in the slightest, of course, it isn’t how I expected to be finishing my degree at all, but the staff work really hard to provide a good quality learning experience, so it’s been okay. I try and talk to my friends as much as possible because it does help. Despite the obvious challenges, I’m doing good.”

Lilith Hudson, 22, an English and Philosophy student at the University of Nottingham, has also found these last few months more difficult than previous lockdowns. However, she has found spending time outdoors as the key to keeping her spirits high.

She said: “There’s no denying that the last few months have been a struggle. Life has become routinely boring in the absence of any spontaneity. As a final year student, it’s easy to think that because there’s nothing better to do you should spend your time studying, but this approach won’t do you or your grades any favours.”

“As contrived as it may be, I’ve been trying to spice up drab days with impromptu jaunts; mid-mornings spent meandering along the Trent and afternoons plodding along the canal. When exercise doesn’t appeal, I do some impulsive baking or randomly call a friend. It’s the little things like this that help you to find something positive every day.”

She added: “The faint possibility that I’ll actually have a graduation was the motive I needed to keep me going, so I’m holding onto hope!”