Checking Out is so Hard to Do

For those of you who are of a nervous disposition, you may remember just before the pandemic struck, a large shipping container appeared next to the Lakeside Arts Centre. It was for an aural experience called Flight. A 20 minute trip on a plane in total darkness, where you may or may not have ended up dead.

The group responsible for that, Darkfield.Org have returned with another submersive audio sensory show called Eulogy. This time you have booked into a hotel, rather than being on a plane, but the experience is just as disconcerting. Why are you there? Who is the strange companion who never leaves your side? These and many other questions may or may not be answered, as you sit in a laundry trolley, in complete darkness. I don’t know what Pantone colour they would call the blackness, but mushrooms would probably grow very well in it.

I caught up with Artistic Director Glen Neath, he and his team were making the final adjustments to the world premiere of this 35 minute experience and asked him about his latest creation. “This is our fourth show. Our last was Coma in 2019, where people laid down on beds”. “So, what was the idea behind the story?” “It’s a collective dream. You are all in this hotel, being pushed around from floor to floor, by your designated chaperone”.

“How long did it take you to create?” “We started during the first Lockdown, and continued building and recording the soundtrack during that period. We’ve used 300 tracks in the show”. Of course, I had to ask about the shipping container “It’s actually a refrigerated one. It came ready padded, which helps to keep out any external sounds”.

You listen to the soundscape through headphones. The sound is so accurate, that it could be in 3D. Your chaperone whispers in your ear. So close that you could almost smell their breath. My companion sounded so sensual, that I was disappointed she was only a voice, and not someone I could have a drink with. Other voices appear and disappear without warning. So too do other noises. I’m sure I added to the soundtrack, as I yelled out several times at loud noises behind, or at the side of me.  Time seems to stand still, as you move from floor to floor, down to the bowels of the hotel.

After it had finished, I emerged blinking into the daylight. Feeling like a mole who has just moved the last bit of earth before popping its nose out from the hole in the middle of a lawn. Slightly shaken by the experience. I feel like a blind man who has listened to The Shining, but without seeing the madness of Jack Nicholson’s acting.

If you want to experience this surreal, haunting event yourself, it’s on between 22 September & the 3rd of October, then 19th October to the 31st. During the gap, it will be situated on the South Bank in London, as part of the BFI London Film Festival.


Beeston Bounces Back

I’ve lived in Beeston for all my life, and over the years I’ve seen many changes, big and small, but never as much as the last year or so. Where so many businesses have struggled under the pressures of the lockdowns, and highstreets in places like Arnold and Long Eaton have withered away, Beeston has been thriving in spite of the circumstances.

We’ve seen many welcome additions to the town centre, the most obvious one being The Arc Cinema, which opened back at the end of May. After a couple of visits, I still stand firmly by my recommendation that you check it out as soon as possible! Another fantastic addition has been the new Turkish restaurant, Anatolia, which I could recommend on its excellent service alone, but the food is pretty good too. Just across the street is the newest branch of The Pudding Pantry, a coffee shop and dessert restaurant, and while I haven’t managed to pop along myself, I have it on good authority that it’s another great inclusion to our high street.

It doesn’t end there however – there’s way more coming to the town over the next few months. One of Nottingham’s best success stories – or as you might know them, Doughnotts – is upgrading from a market stall to a whole new store. Speaking of, there are plans for one of the units under the cinema to be filled by a new bar called “The Beeston Social”, the latest in a chain of indie bars from Fletcher Gate Industries, who run popular joints in the City Centre such as Das Kino and The Hockley Arts Club. Another chain making its presence in the town is Ohannes Burgers, and on top of that pastry giant Greggs is opening its second branch on Queen’s Road later this year, with plans for an indoor and outdoor seating area too.

Although the new additions have been, and surely will be fantastic, another great boon for the existing businesses in Beeston will be the easing of lockdown measures. Safety is of course paramount in times like these, but I’m sure that many locations are breathing a sigh of relief now they have the freedom to deliver a safe yet improved service to their customers. One change among many that I don’t think will be going away will be the increased use of outdoor dining. Originally envisioned as a way of slowing the spread of Covid-19, I think having people out in the fresh air, especially on hot summer nights like these, has brought a revitalised feeling to Beeston’s high street. Dare I say it even makes the town seem a little sophisticated with all our favourite places going al fresco.

I can’t pretend it’s not great to see that Beeston is looking better than ever despite the trying times we’ve all been through over the past year and a half, and like many of you I’m glad to be getting out and enjoying what’s here. Whether it’s our longstanding local businesses, favourite new additions, or most anticipated openings, Beeston is putting itself on the map in a big way.


Welcome Doughnotts!

Beeston is about to get “proper freshly baked doughnuts”
Welcome Doughnotts!

Yet another new, fun and entrepreneurial business is moving into Beeston this October in the old Thorntons shop!

In our printed edition we told you that Doughnotts would be moving in under The Arc cinema, it is all change! As the Doughnotts team have updated their plans… “Due to ongoing setbacks, rising costs of materials and availability of tradesman etc we have made the hard decision to look for a smaller store in Beeston. Thankfully we’ve been pretty lucky that the Thorntons on the high street became available and after negations we’re pleased to say we’ve got the keys and work has begun behind the scenes on our counter, neons etc for a planned Halloween opening! “

We’re thrilled to be welcoming Doughnotts into our thriving and growing town and even have a competition launching on our website ( around the time they open their doors so do keep an eye out online.

When asked why Beeston was the newest location to serve their oh so tasty Doughnuts doughnuts, one of the founders Wade Smith (29) waxed lyrical about Beeston being “… a vibrant and up-and-coming town – with such a friendly community atmosphere”.

You may know that Doughnotts are no strangers to Beeston, as they’ve been providing freshly baked delicious goods to our community on their pitch at the Farmers Market for a while now.

Wade shared:

“We’ve had a stall at the farmers’ market there for a couple of years and the welcome we’ve had has been amazing. There’s been nothing but positivity from the people of the town and when we found out this development was happening we knew it was somewhere we wanted to be.”

This will be Doughnotts’ fourth location and their new flagship store. They also cater for many types of events and offer a delivery service in England, Scotland and Wales with the intent to be offering the same service in Europe come Christmas this year and soon after, next day delivery to New York!!!

Doughnotts are a company that have been ambitious since they started back in 2015. When the business began in Clifton, with locals Megan and Wade who decided to start making and selling doughnuts with just £10, a wok and a mother’s kitchen in order to pay for a holiday. Talk about a success story!

A few months later they had their own micro-bakery, stocking cafes and bars around Nottingham and attending food fairs which led to them opening their very first shop in Nottingham in 2016. Fast forward to 2021 and with the help of a growing team of dedicated and hardworking staff, DoughNotts is soon to have 4 stores and a multitude of wholesalers spanning the Midlands.

What can Beeston residents expect?

  • A range of hand-made Doughnuts including vegan options and fresh coffee from another Nottingham business, 200 Degrees.

  • There’ll be a selection of indoor & outdoor seating and a grab and go area for those catching buses or trams

  • A welcoming feel like they have established in their other stores in Lincoln, Leicester and Nottingham city centre.

This new central Beeston location will be bringing the same friendly atmosphere, with seating inside and out and will be equipped with sockets etc. So if you fancy working away from the home office for a break or just grabbing a treat on the go, with the longer opening hours of 8am – 8pm planned, they’ve got you covered!

The magic of making the doughnuts, testing and experimenting with flavours and fresh baking happens in their 5000-foot bakery in NG2. This is where on a day-to-day basis, they make between 2000 to 3000 doughnuts, on average. This large number is distributed between fulfilling the needs that the shops sell, wholesale suppliers, deliveries, events and weddings. They really have it all going on.

We’re really looking forward to welcoming them to Beeston. How excited are you? Have you tasted a Doughnotts doughnut before?

Doughnotts is looking for Store managers, key holders, baristas and team members for the new store, full time and part time positions available. If you’re interested, please send a cover letter and CV to and don’t forget to make it fun!

To keep up with the announcements and sneak peeks of how the new shop is shaping up then join their enormous and growing social media following at

Instagram – @doughnotts_official
Facebook –
Website –


Summer Trees

Summer Trees: an appreciation of three trees along Queens Road*

*Or just off it

As I write this issue of Trees of Beeston, the sun is scorching and a heatwave has kicked in, so I wanted to reflect on the glorious street trees that provide shade and respite from weather extremes in our town. In particular, the trees on or just off Queens Road. There are too few where once there were lines of poplar trees, these have now been replaced by driveways and parking. I was genuinely gutted to witness the cutting down of the silver birches that were once on King Street, the first trees I wrote about for The Beestonian back in 2018. I am sometimes concerned that this column could perform a Medusa style kiss-of-death whenever I mention the notable trees beloved of the community! I missed the silver birches very much walking past in the blazing sun earlier. Same with the large tree that was next to the Rockaway / now private flats along Station road near the slip-road to the train station.

So I want to dare to salute and acknowledge three trees: the Alder on the corner of Station Road and Queens Road (behind the billboard and what was once public toilets latterly Vicky’s beauty bar), that provides dappled shade while waiting to cross at the junction of Station Road and Queens Road, where birds perch and sing.

Further along Queens Road heading into Nottingham there is, on the right-hand side the copper beech tree of Queens Road near Alexander Crescent with its seasonally changing leaf colours, and tall aspect for blackbird song in the spring. Every time I see it, I am reminded of the Sherlock Holmes Copper Beeches mystery (if you haven’t read it, do so, it’s a joy, Beeston Library has a copy). This is a spectacular tree, casting its shade and cover across the road and providing shade to anyone waiting for the bus into town.

Finally, I want to mention the majestic Tree Preservation Order protected (so I have been unofficially informed) sycamore tree of Henry Street where owls are heard to hoot and bats have been seen. Plaques have been placed on this tree to reflect the local love for it, a reminder that our Beeston trees are loved and appreciated beyond the short term cutting-down profiteering of the absentee landlords who appear to target this part of Beeston for rental properties, levelling down any trees or plants that might serve as a financial loss in their maintenance.

I am reminded walking down Station Road towards Beeston centre that the house with the plaque ‘The Beeches’ on it was likely named after trees that were planted along the road a century ago. Many towns that developed their roads after WW1 began street tree planting programmes in order to create idealised living landscapes for those returning from the Western Front. The remains of one old beech tree – its low-cut trunk and roots bears witness to the likelihood of this.

A majestic tall mature tree is a privilege to behold and be around. Trees are recognised to add value to properties (think of the lovely leafy trees along Devonshire Avenue!), so when there are few tall street trees, they should be treasured.  In the cold of winter, tree canopies trap in the warmth and provide shelter from the rain and snow. Tree canopies provide splendid shade and cool temperatures in the heat, especially good if one is waiting for a bus (thank you copper beech of Queens Road!), and the evapotranspiration of water from the leaves has a cooling effect on the surrounding air. Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30% and in the winter save energy used for heating between 20 – 50%.  In addition to this, trees provide habitat, food and protection to plants and animals, increasing urban biodiversity which is good for the wellbeing of humans and animals.

Of course, trees need to be maintained. Coppicing a tree, maintaining its branches helps both the tree and the humans around. Make sure you find a qualified tree surgeon though, then they will maintain and care for your tree.

If you don’t have a tree, have a look around on your wanderings around Beeston, choose your favourite tree, and adopt it. Look out for it. Take care of it. Give it a hug. Artists and scientists recognise the enriching capacity of hugging a tree, and it will do you a world of good.

If you have space in your front or back garden, consider planting a tree.  Even miniature trees in pots on a balcony can improve your quality of life and that of the insects and bird wildlife. As the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree is yesterday, the second best time is now.


Reference: Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations website / benefit of urban trees.

It’s Coming Home

Been up to much since last issue? I’d imagine you have, unless you’ve been stuck at home poorly. As I write it’s the evening of July 19th, inaccurately dubbed ‘Freedom Day’ by some elements of the press – but oddly enough there’s an element of truth in that libertarian soubriquet for me, as today was the final day of my and my daughter’s sixteen day period of self-isolation – we’ve had Covid.

I thought I’d done pretty well to avoid it and was *extremely* happy when I had both of my vaccinations but just over a couple of weeks ago I received an email from my daughter’s school saying they believed she (and her class) had been in contact with someone who had tested positive. Ten days couldn’t be that bad, I figured – we’d done longer in earlier lockdowns. Maybe we were getting blasé about it, even.

But a few days into our new quarantine Scarlett complained of a nasty head and stomach ache; just to be sure I gave her a Lateral Flow Test and there it was, a positive. I did one for myself and was relieved to find it negative but booked us both in for a PCR test the next morning at the University Walk-in site. It was a doddle, thankfully – and Scarlett’s symptoms, such as they were, had already vanished by the time we’d been ‘done’ and told to expect the results in two days.

That afternoon though I began to feel pretty rough and by the next morning I didn’t need the result that arrived on my phone, less than 24 hours after taking the PCR test.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to admit that blokes are generally *dreadful* when poorly (unless I’m just judging you all by my feeble standards, in which case I apologise unreservedly), but it really was bad. I’ve had proper influenza once before and that was horrendous, and this was right up there with it – literally going from sweating like a polar bear in a sauna (No idea, not seen it, it just sounded like a descriptive turn-of-phrase) to proper teeth-chattering cold, with goosebumps and nothing in between.

Scarlett, now full of energy and with not a symptom in the world was wonderful, covering and then uncovering me as my latest temperature episode kicked in and generally fussing me wonderfully. Of course the worst bit for her was us both having to start eleven days self-isolation again on top of the time we’d already done; this time I could almost hear the heavy ‘clang’ of the prison door as it swung shut.

It. Was. Horrendous.

The temperature changes, the acute muscle-pain, headaches, the cough and shallow breathing, the vomiting (thankfully very short-lived) – I got all the symptoms except for the diarrhea (and I’m glad I didn’t, that combined with coughing…eeuuwww!)

Normally I’m fine at being ill. Just give me a bed, Radio 4 and a bit of sympathy and I’m good (especially with a diet of Tunnock’s caramel wafers and pineapple juice) but add in a bored seven-year old who is absolutely fine who’s asking “Daddy, do you want to see what I can do/sing/draw/dance/create in Minecraft?” every five minutes and the next few days became a grumpy purgatory for us both in which I tried to sleep and Scarlett didn’t…

And yet, after what seemed like an eternity (but was about five days) I felt able to move again, wracked by guilt at having dismissed her so often but glad to be alive; I daren’t think how poorly I’d have been had I not had both vaccinations…

So I guess we’ll see how well ‘Freedom Day’ goes for us here in Beeston but please don’t be fooled into thinking the ‘mild ‘flu like symptoms’ you may suffer if you catch it are actually ‘mild’ in themselves. I still can’t smell or taste anything, but that was the least of my worries.

So no trite joke at the end this time, just a heartfelt ‘look after yourselves’. Please.


Lighter Fluid and Lava Rock

It’s thirty degrees in the shade, I’m sweating so much even my man boobs have started to cry, weeping endless tears into my Sports Direct vest. The inside of my underwear is now frankly like a war zone, it’s just chaos down there, everything is just smashed together, I have to keep lunging just to bring some peace to the region.

In this oppressive heat what can you do? Stay inside drinking ice cold drinks and wait for the rain to come? No, that’s a stupid idea, what you need to do is have a barbecue.

So, you spend three hours, on the hottest day of the year, stood behind an actual fire. Its absolute madness isn’t it? It’s the food you’re meant to be cooking, not yourself. It makes no sense, it’s like having a Cornetto in a snowstorm.

The only time you enjoy a barbecue is when you are a guest at one. If you’re on that grill it’s a miserable afternoon. Everyone else is sat there on the decking, sipping beer and having a great time. Meanwhile you’re stood at the end of the garden, totally engulfed in smoke, eyes streaming like you’ve just been tear gassed.

Occasionally one of the guests will come and check on you to see how you are. You think they might be concerned for your welfare, but all they are interested in is when those sausages will be ready. You are just the staff to these people now. If this was the Titanic, they are in the ballroom and you are downstairs in front of a boiler, shovelling coal into the furnace.

The reality of a barbecue is never as good as the fantasy. In Australia they are so casual and relaxed about it. A barbecue for them just happens organically, because they have the weather. In Britain, all ours are done in a panic. As soon as the temperature creeps above twenty five degrees, we lose our minds. You can hear the rallying cry being carried on the breeze, “go get me some charcoal briquettes Susan, today is the day to set fire to some meat!”

But if you’re not in that supermarket in the next twenty minutes your barbecue dreams are crushed quicker than the garlic in your marinade. You had big ideas involving kebabs on skewers, Peri Peri chargrilled chicken, fresh shrimps and organic lamb steaks. Unfortunately, so did everyone else. Is there anything more depressing in life, than the sight of an empty meat isle in a supermarket? It’s like the end of the world’s worst game show.

Now you’re facing the prospect of having to feed a family of four on a six pack of sausages and some king prawns that a so passed their best before date they have started to grow beards.

There is so much prep to do a barbecue properly, some people get really into it. “I’ve been rubbing this meat all morning with infused chilli oil” –  “Cheers Kev, nice one, I thought you were cooking it not giving it a massage!”

But no matter what happens, there is only one rule. You cannot, under any circumstances, switch on that oven. That is like an athlete taking performance enhancing drugs, it’s cheating, and it would bring shame on your family. If the cavemen only had fire and they still managed, well so can you.

It’s that hunter gatherer instinct that makes having a barbecue so exciting. It connects us to our primal ancestors. The only difference is we didn’t have to hunt anything. Many of us didn’t even gather. We’re stood there in shorts and flip flops cooking meat we’ve had delivered from Asda, we haven’t had to go out at daybreak and spear a wildebeest.

It does tap into something in the male psyche though. Ask a man why he loves to barbecue and he even starts to talk like a Neanderthal. His eyes widen and he goes all monosyllabic. Ranting at you with his top off, whilst rubbing a honey and mustard glaze on his nipples, saying things like, “MEAT” “FIRE” “BEER” “FIRE!”

Men and women do tend to act differently at a barbecue. The women tend to congregate together, they are interested in each other, the garden is alive with excitable chatter.

The men are huddled together around the barbecue itself, with cans of lager, like tramps gathering around a burning barrel. Conversation is stilted and awkward, with many of the men hypnotised by that powerful combination of meat and flames. Occasionally someone will break the silence:

“I think it’s hot enough now Steve, if I were you, I’d pop another bag of coals on there.”

Traditionally it’s the man who likes to be in control of the barbecue. There is nothing more manly than standing there in your own garden, lager in hand, just casually poisoning the rest of the family.

The misconception that women can’t use one is ridiculous. In fact, they are often better at in than the men and the food they produce is actually edible.

The hygiene always worries me. You can never get that grill clean enough. The first ten minutes of any barbecue is spent burning off the remains of the last one.

It always amazes me, some restaurants have been closed down because of their poor food hygiene practices, yet on a summers day, I’ll gladly tuck into an undercooked burger, served by some Dad I hardly know, who’s stood there next to the bins, with his hand down his shorts.

Barbeque models are like cars, some people don’t really care as long as its practical, but others get really passionate about it. You can see the men eyeing up each other’s cooking stations, they can’t hide their jealousy. “Look at him with his triple burner, who does he think he is!” “Was that hotplate an optional extra?” “How many steaks to the gas bottle does it do pal?”

I’ve been to barbecues where the guy behind it has so much kit I’m surprised he didn’t have to employ roadies. It was like Iron Maiden on tour. Hundreds of utensils dangling from everywhere, tables for the raw meat, tables for the cooked meat, separate grills to cater for the vegetarians along with oils and rubs of every description. This man was like a conductor in his own meat-based orchestra. He even had a meat thermometer, presumably so he could check if his pork chops were a bit under the weather.

The designers of the barbecues have tapped into this too. Even the names of them are very masculine. They are called things like “Beefmaster” “Matador” they may as well just go all out and release a model called “The meat Bastard 3000”.

The most impressive display of barbecuing I have ever witnessed was on a holiday in Sidmouth in Devon. We were sat on the beach and a man in a wetsuit walked into the sea holding a fishing rod. Five minutes and he had reeled in about three fish. He then went back onto the beach, arranged some pebbles into a pit, brought out an old grill from his bag and proceeded to cook the fish in front of us. I was so in awe I was almost aroused. He was like an aquatic Ray Mears. They only way he could’ve been more manly was if he had emerged from that ocean with those fish between his teeth like a giant grizzly bear.

Sausages are always an issue for me. They are a logistical nightmare on the bars of that grill. I’ve never made it through a full cook off with all my sausages accounted for. They just seem to have a death wish those guys. And there is no trauma like seeing a sausage give up and fall through the bars into the abyss below. This must be how a child feels when the top of their ice cream falls off, or they let go of a new helium balloon at the fair. There is nothing you can do to rescue that fallen comrade. It had so much potential, it was ninety five percent pork, but now it’s just one hundred percent ash. It looks like something found in the ruins of Pompei after the volcano erupted.

You can try and recover it, but it’s over. Because let’s be honest, there is nothing bleaker in life than having to rinse your sausage under an outside tap in front of your family.

Scott Bennett Comedian

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A Bit of a Blur

Spring 2010 and experimental band Gorillaz were trundling down the motorway promoting their
newly-released album Plastic Beach. Pop-star tummies began rumbling when the junctions hit
the twenties. The Sat Nav was consulted, some tour-bus googling was conducted and the
perfect place was found. A short drive from the motorway, good nosh, good drinks and a
genuine, family-run free house with the type of reviews most bands would eat a drum kit for.

They pulled off the M1, and headed for the legendary Victoria, in some suburb called ‘Beeston’.
“I’m a chicken, and I’m having a ball” I was singing as I walked down the corridor of the Vic, at
exactly the same time the band walked in. Not the most sophisticated of songs, admittedly, but I
was only five, and was pretty proud of my effort. It was Easter, after all. As I serenaded anyone
passing in the pub, I saw some interesting men get repeatedly asked to sign things -2010 still
pretty much the pre-selfie era – and was intrigued.

One man with shaggy sandy blonde hair noticed me singing, smiled, and approached. And
that’s how I ended up duetting with a man who had Brit, Ivor Novello, Mercury and numerous
other awards under his belt. Damon Albarn and I performed, for the patrons of the Vic, my
freshly composed song.

My grandad, Neil Kelso, is well known and much missed by many Beestonians. He transformed
the Vic into Beeston’s standard-setting pub, with much work put in to give our town a pub that is
never short of quality and atmosphere. And, that day, rock stars.

The five year old me probably didn’t much know a great deal about Gorillaz, Blur or the Clash, so when I saw one of the members of the band – probably Mick Jones, founder member of The Clash – at a table I told Damon he looked like Blakey off On The Buses.

This tickled Damon immensely – not just the fact I’d made that comparison to a punk god, but that I even knew who Blakey was ‘I watch it when I have tea with my step-dad’. The whole band thought this hilarious, and a smiling Damon crouched down, scooped me onto his shoulders, and posed for a photo.

If Damon ever gets to read this, then I’m more than happy for you to use ‘I’m a chicken, I’m
having a ball’ in your next live set.


Like a Boss!

An email pings into The Beestonian inbox: “Did you know we have the National Governing Body for a Paralympic Sport right here in Beeston?” Well, no we didn’t. Beeston consistently  punches above its weight – one of the reasons we set up this mag a decade ago – but considering that the Paralympics is imminent and one of its most fascinating sports is based here, we have to find out more. I jump on my bike and pedal round to one of the buildings near the Padge Road sorting office.

Boccia England (BE) have been based here for 3 years after moving from just over the Nottingham border in the Lenton Science Park with Cerebral Palsy Sport. “It’s ideal in many ways” Cally Keetley, BE’s fundraiser tells me “Being so central to everywhere in England”. Their office could be that of any modern office, apart from the floor, which is marked out with a Boccia court, and the set of leather balls on the table we talk at. What, however, is Boccia?

Considering it is perhaps the most inclusive sport in the world, it has probably not appeared on many of our reader’s radars. Pronounced ‘Bot-cha’ (the name is the Latin for ‘boss’) it’s one of only two sports at the Paralympics that doesn’t have an Olympics counterpart (the other being goalball). It resembles boules or petanque, with players trying to get their balls as close to a jack as they can. What makes it a wonderful sport for the Paralympics is its sheer accessibility: it can be played with hands, feet, or even for those with severe disabilities, a ramp to direct the ball. There are resources that allow the visually impaired to play, and, provided they stay seated, the able bodied can join in. It’s difficult to imagine a more inclusive sport.

Making it’s paralympic debut in 1984, it currently has 54,000 regular players spread over 60 clubs in the UK alone and is fast growing worldwide. And no wonder. A glance at Boccia games on YouTube  is not dissimilar to how people get drawn into seemingly simple looking sports and realise the fiendishly wonderful tactics required. Remember when the UK went curling crazy at a previous Winter Olympics, and we all became experts at broom technique and stone angling? Similarly, Boccia is a gripping sport to watch. “You haven’t seen sport until you’ve seen boccia” wrote Times sports editor Simon Barnes in 2012. He’s not wrong.

But it’s more than that for those who take part. “It’s a wonderful way for people to socialise, to have a challenge to work at, and to grow confidence” Cally tells me. “It changes people’s lives”.

It also saves them: “I had a real horrid time after my accident…Boccia pulled me round. It gave me friendship, it gave me skills…it literally saved my life” says one player in a BE video. Its amongst numerous testimonies saying similar: this is more than a sport.

But on a purely competitive level, things are gearing up ahead of the Tokyo Paralympics. Cally’s colleague, BE’s Team Administrator Dan Headley, is preparing to fly out to Japan when I visit in his role as an international boccia referee. “Boccia will be streamed online throughout the Games” he explains “And Team GB is confident of medals”.

His hot tip? “David Smith. It’s amazing he’s not better known”. Absolutely. David Smith, MBE, should be as well known as Mo Farah or Becky Adlington. His Paralympic medal haul – 2 gold, a silver and a bronze – when added to his multiple World and European titles makes him the world’s most successful Boccia player ever, an inspiration to those, like him, with Cerebral Palsy – and anyone who loves a world class athlete. He also pulls some mean doughnuts in his wheelchair.

They are doing great things down on Padge Road, and that work will hopefully pay off in medals at Tokyo – as well as giving many thousands of disabled individuals a sport that adds so much to life.

If you’d like to find out more, check out BE’s website: where you’ll discover a huge amount of info and resources- including how you can help raise money for them.


Tree Guardians Wanted!

Summer here in Beeston is increasingly unpredictable. Of course, the British love to discuss the weather, but extremes of cold and heavy rain, hail and flooded gardens one week and scorching hot sun the next is a marked reminder that our planet is heating up and extreme weather conditions become more extreme and more predictably unpredictable!  Such changes mark a significant shift in our landscapes, activities and the survival of species on our planet, not least that of human survival.  As regular readers of Trees of Beeston column will know, I am passionate about valuing and protecting the arboreal inhabitants of our part of Nottinghamshire.  Trees bring multiple benefits – oxygen production, carbon-dioxide absorption, providing habitats for bugs, birds and mammals, food provision for all kinds of animals, to say nothing of the shade in the summer, water absorption capacities when heavy rain and snow descend. Everyone should have a tree that they look after.

Trees of Beeston column is handed over to the fantastic Helene who is spearheading a campaign to reforest Broxtowe. I’ll let Helene explain more. If you would like to become a tree guardian and grow some acorns, please see the end of this article for more details. If everyone planted a tree what a phenomenal legacy it would be for future Beestonians! Here’s Helene with more:

OK, in a nutshell, national government climate change targets are talking about increasing the urban tree canopy to 30% (currently around 15%). Do you want to make sure that happens on our patch, on our watch?

As I was planting a few acorns collected on the Bramcote Ridge in Autumn, I mused, wouldn’t it be great if everyone grew and planted a few trees each year? I know plenty of people like me with gardens or allotments. Do you have a little outdoor space for a few pots to grow a few saplings? The basic idea is to get as many people as possible who will be willing to plant and look after 20 or more saplings in their gardens/allotments.

The Guardians will grow the tree saplings from seed or cuttings, look after them for approximately 2 years and then either give them back or plant them out themselves in the places designated by Broxtowe Borough Council. The aim is to give growers a vested interest in their trees, from seed to planting out, and into the future with watering and perhaps surveying. I would love for people to be able to plant their trees local to them so they can watch them grow to maturity.

I wanted to start this project in Autumn 2021 with some organized forays into woodland areas to collect seeds, nuts and acorns. Broxtowe Borough Council were very supportive of the idea.

However, fate or Mother Nature had other plans. Apparently 2020 was a bumper year for acorns. The council were contacted by a couple who have a 180 year old oak in their garden. They had sacks and sacks of acorns and were trying to find a good home/use for them. We were put in touch and I couldn’t refuse. So this year we start with oaks.

I first did a little pilot survey with members of a local nature reserve ‘Friends of’ group and some friends. After a very positive response to the idea I decided to go ahead. I already have over a hundred growers and around 2000 acorns distributed. But I still have a lot more if you have space and the inclination. All it takes are some pots, some earth and water to keep them damp. I’ve been storing the acorns in damp leaf mulch and they are sprouting nicely, they just need foster homes. They really are no trouble.

In future years the project will expand to include birch, hazel, holly, hawthorn, black poplar, alder, ash, aspen, beech, wild cherry, bird cherry, crab apple, field maple, juniper, lime, poplar, scots pine, rowan, yew, white beam, willow, wych and elm, basically any native species bar a few.

Since this venture began, I have made contact with a lot of people and one of the nicest surprises has been to find many people who already grow trees or rescue them from their lawnmowers and flower beds. I was happy to be able to help some of these people who had large saplings to find a permanent home for them in a place designated by the council. So the project has already had its first planting out session too.

What I would also love to see in the future is people participating in tree surveys. Check out the site. By surveying an urban tree or two we can contribute to a Nationwide database. The data collected will help future town planners with their tree planting choices, the aim is to put a value on each tree in terms of carbon capture, diversity and pleasure.

Could you be a tree guardian?

Please contact Helene or 07852 818178/0115 8775304.

Canopy 2050 website and email to come soon.


Shop Fronts

We love links to the past Beeston, and in recent times a bit of refurbishing work has seen a couple of old shopfronts revealed from the days of typewriters, black and white TVs and rickets. Bizzy Kids on Queens Road was once home to an early DIY store, whilst on the High Road what is due to become Yellow Wood café was evidently a shop that sold Golden Meadow Butter.

There are probably loads more of these in Beeston currently buried behind modern frontages, but if any are spotted then we’ll do our best to include them in here.