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
grow.”

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.’

www.anjanacawdell.co.uk
www.facebook.com/AnjanaCawdell

DU

‘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.

ED

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.

IB

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!”

FP

“Techno Techno Tech-NO!” – The frustrations with technology

Let me just start by saying the last year has been tough, but I think it was the best era for a pandemic like this to happen.

Netflix, Deliveroo, the internet, can you imagine trying to get through this nightmare twenty years ago?

Sitting there for eight hours a day, with terrestrial television, a box set of Bergerac on DVD and snake on a Nokia 3410, it would have been agony. That’s not a lockdown that’s a wet caravanning holiday to Rhyl.

Technology has helped us keep in touch with family. I’ve been stunned by how quickly my parents have adapted to this new online world.

My father is called “Roy”, which is the perfect name for a working-class, Yorkshire Luddite. You don’t get many baby Roy’s these days, do you? That’s not a baby that’s the name of a sixty-year-old bloke with a moustache and a smokers cough. Babies called Roy would come out of the womb already able to grout a bathroom. I reckon my dad was already a tradesman before he even took his first breath. Apparently, he was born by cesarian section, I imagine he probably used his first words to give his mother a quote for the damage. “We can plaster over that love, no worries, two hundred quid, see you Tuesday.”

He got this iPad so he could Facetime my children. He never got the hang of it, because he used to ring us first, half an hour before, to see if we were “prepared for the Facetime” what did he think it was? Live Aid or something? Just be spontaneous Dad!

He couldn’t use the camera either. For weeks we were being Facetimed by a Fridge Freezer. There was nothing there. Then all of a sudden accompanied by some heavy breathing, this eye would come creeping into view. “Here’s Grandad!” the kids didn’t sleep for weeks!

Now he’s setting up WhatsApp groups, video calls, Skype sessions. He’s learnt new words like, “bandwidth” and “emoji” I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before he goes viral on Tik Tok.

Technology is incredible, but it does make our lives more complicated.

I feel like we have to remember more passwords than an MI5 agent these days. I’m running out of options now. I’ve used the children’s names, birthdays, old teachers. I’ve been through the cast of Neighbours, including Bouncer the dog, I’m really struggling now.

Everything is encrypted now too, which just causes more stress. I hate the person who invented that Captcha system. I think we should find them and take them hostage, and only let them go if they manage to spot three fire hydrants a zebra crossing and seven bicycles out of a window. I’m obviously not a robot. As if a robot would be online at two in the morning, googling “What is MC Hammer’s real name?”

I’ve signed up for so much stuff online and I can say with some confidence that I’ve never read those terms and conditions either. Who has time for that?

No one knows what is written in that small print.

I could have just agreed to donate a kidney if I miss a payment, but I want that phone more than I want to be thorough, so I’ll instantly click accept.

During lockdown, I’ve been in a toxic relationship too.

With my inkjet printer.

It’s the year 2021, we’ve put people on the moon and yet we still can’t design a printer that isn’t an absolute arsehole.

“Sometimes our baby monitor would pick up the radio from the local taxi rank. Either that or our youngest was trying to book a minibus to the airport.”

I know they’ll be people reading this who have an inkjet printer, I just want to ask how many times, today alone, have you sworn at it and threatened to sling it through the window? I bet it’s at least fifty.

Mine is possessed. HP, which stands for “Higher Power” I swear it’s trying to break me down.

Once, I got so angry with it, I pulled the power cord out of the back, the light stayed on, that defies physics. There is only one thing powering that, resentment.

Having that printer is like having a teenage boy in the house. This thing just sits in the corner all day, just grunting, there’s a light on but nothing’s happening, I’m always feeding it and it’s costing me a fortune.

I got that printer for thirty quid, an absolute bargain. I remember having to do a double-take in the shop. “They must be making a loss; they couldn’t manufacture it for that price?” This is because they know that they will get you on the ink. That’s not a printer, that’s a gateway drug!

That printer cost me thirty pounds; the ink is costing me over six hundred pounds a year!

That’s like someone selling you a car for five hundred quid and you then find out that it only runs on Unicorn pee!

It’s a scandal, people would march against these companies, but they can’t afford to print the placards.

I’ve got an idea for a new Terminator film; I’m going to email James Cameron this week. It’s the perfect concept, something that pitches man against machine in the ultimate battle to the death. But they’ll be no guns, no gadgets, no time travel, it’d just be one man trying to print a Ryan Air boarding pass for three hours!

We are obsessed with putting technology into things now too. Everything has to be internet ready and it’s getting out of hand.

I got bought a video doorbell for Christmas, it connects to the internet and you can tell you who is at your door when you’re away from home. When you’ve been in lockdown for over a year that’s just what you need. They may as well have got me vouchers for British Airways.

I’ve had a cheaper version of this gadget that has been working well for over fifteen years now, it’s called the front room window. It’s cheap, it’s low maintenance and doesn’t text me like a needy girlfriend every time some stranger looks through it.

I have enough stress to deal with in my life without my doorbell being able to contact me. I’ve got two kids, a cat and a mortgage, now I’ve got a doorbell to look after, I can’t deal with that!

If you’re already an anxious person, this is the last you need in your life. Imagine being sat on a beach in Greece (when we are allowed) on your holidays, trying to relax. Then your phone flags up a notification and you have to watch in real-time, someone trying to burgle your house, whilst you’re sat on a sun lounger, powerless and panicking, holding a Cornetto

“I swear sometimes, in the early hours, I’ve actually heard that poor smart speaker sobbing.”

You can buy a slow cooker that connects to the internet now. Just in case you want to monitor a casserole remotely. How boring is your life if part of your day is to check in on your slow cooker?!

“Everything okay Pete, you’ve gone pale”

“I’ve had an emergency at home”

“Oh no, is it the kids are they okay?”

“It’s worse than that, the slow cooker has got stuck on simmer!”

You can buy a Pepper Spray with a Bluetooth connection, camera and 4G. So, you can spray the assailant whilst sending a photo of them to the police. Imagine trying to do that?

“Mate, I know I’m terrified and you’ve got a knife, but can we do another one, I had my finger over the lens!” “Sure, I didn’t like that one anyway, my chin looked a bit fat”

You can buy an internet ready onesie so you can put your baby online too. With an accompanying app that monitors the heart rate and oxygen levels.

The perfect gadget for those parents on the edge who are already terrified of leaving their kid alone. Having a baby is nerve-wracking enough without having it wired into the grid. It’s bad enough having a baby monitor. That’s meant to bring you peace of mind, but all that happens is you’ll be sat in the front room having a cup of tea listening to your exhausted partner swearing at your child. Very embarrassing, particularly if the midwife is there.

Sometimes our baby monitor would pick up the radio from the local taxi rank. Either that or our youngest was trying to book a minibus to the airport.

It was really weird, you’d be listening to the sound of her breathing, a lullaby being played on the mobile, then it would just get interrupted by Darren at Cable Cars.

“Tony, pick up at Oceana night club mate, you nearby!”

“Can do mate, Roger that!”

Can I just say at this point, I’m ashamed of the way I speak to my Alexa. It’s appalling.

I’m just barking orders at that poor woman all day long. “Alexa, play Radio 2” “Alexa, set the timer for my eggs, Alexa what happened to Zammo from Grange Hill?”

I can just see her at the other end, just running around all stressed and flustered. I never give her a break. If I spoke to my wife like I speak to my Alexa she’d hit me with a frying pan.

The worst thing is sometimes Alexa gets told off for stuff that isn’t even her fault. She gets caught in the crossfire during our marital arguments.

She’ll be playing the radio as I’ve told her to do, my wife will be annoyed with me for some reason and when she walks into the kitchen who does she shout at first? Not me, poor old Alexa!

She turns to that blue light and with venom and hatred she yells.

“ALEXA……..OFF!”

“SHUT YER FACE ALEXA!”

I swear sometimes, in the early hours, I’ve actually heard that poor smart speaker sobbing.

We should have an adoption agency for mistreated appliances like this. Kindles who haven’t been charged for years, old I-phones that have been discarded in drawers and Fitbits that were worn once and then slung angrily into the corner of the room, after the owner realized that running was yet another thing in life that they’ve failed miserably at.

I think technology has changed arguments forever. They aren’t as much fun as they used to be, are they? It used to be an angry shouting match, people screaming down telephones, tears, maybe even actual violence.

Now, just one sentence sends us into a panic, “David has left the WhatsApp group!” “On no!” “What have we done to David!”

When technology lets you down, there is nothing worse.

We’re in a constant battle with our broadband at the moment. It’s become an essential service and ours is appalling. I rang up to complain to my service provider, I was all charged up, foaming at the mouth, ready to give these clowns both barrels.

But what I’ve noticed is that some of these companies have what seems to be, a secret Nanna department. It’s so clever. I was expecting to get some seventeen year old idiot called Gavin who I could have happily unloaded both barrels on. But instead, I got Dorothy, a softly spoken Scottish woman with a voice like Mrs Doubtfire, and it totally threw me.

I reckon it wasn’t a call centre at all. Just a care home, with a load of lovely old ladies, sat in rows with headsets on and a tartan blanket on their knees. Taking calls in between Countdown and Homes under the Hammer.

So, I tried to put my complaint to her.

“Listen, this broadband isn’t good enough Dorothy, I’m trying to work from home at the moment, we’ve got the children being home-schooled, it’s slow, expensive and unreliable and frankly I’ve had enough of it”

She paused and then her little gentle voice piped up.

“ahhh, two wee girls, what are their names?”

“Olivia and Sophia”

“Beautiful names, I’ve got two wee girls myself. They’ve grown up and left home now, one of them is in Canada, I rarely see her. They all leave dear; I suppose you’re going to do the same are you?”

“Errr…..right okay, sorry about that. No, I don’t want to leave but it’s the upload speed that’s the problem, Dorothy, It’s useless”

“I know my dear, and that’s the one thing we don’t guarantee, I’m so sorry”

“Where I live is the same, my little cottage here on the isle of Sky, we have to make do dear. There are people dying in this pandemic, but I know that a little bit of buffering whilst you’re trying to watch Bridgerton is more than anyone should have to deal with”

“If I could I would come down there with some cable, a shovel and a wheelbarrow and put in that fibre myself. I would my dear, but I can’t do that poppet, I’m 83, my best installation days are behind me now!”

So, I rang up to complain and all I did was have a chat with an old lady for twenty minutes. Worse thing is, she was so good, I’ve not even left, I’ve signed a contract for another three years.

Scott Bennett Comedian

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The power of friendships, old and new

When living and working in the Rylands you become very aware of the long-established families and friendships within the community. What’s less obvious are the new relationships and friendships being formed through social groups such as Friday Club (the weekly social dining club for the over 60’s). Here’s the story of two Friday Club regulars Peggy and Freda, and what their friendship means to them.

Around two years after her husband’s death, Peggy was only going out to do her shopping and was struggling with her grief and feeling lonely. She was told about Friday club through a friend in the Rylands. She went the first time with a friend and started to look forward to going. Freda joined the group a little later and in Peggy’s words their “friendship just exploded from there, it was so easy to be friends with her they just clicked straight away.”

The first adventure was to Bardills garden centre and they started walking together locally once or twice a week. They attended Janet’s 24-hour danceathon in October 2019 where
they danced and laughed the night away till 4 am.

Their birthdays are two weeks (plus ten years) apart and they started a tradition of having fish and chips on Queens Road to celebrate. Social distancing wasn’t going to deter their
friendship this year as they sheltered on opposite ends of the bus shelter to enjoy their feast.

Peggy shared that if she didn’t have Freda she might have not gone out as much over lockdown and have “locked myself away again – I am really pleased about being friends, we
can just laugh and be at ease.”

Following the death of her husband Bob, Freda moved to Beeston to be nearer her daughter. Freda knew no one else, and would just go walking. Like Peggy, Friday Club was
recommended to her, and a regular called Frances met Freda at the car park so she didn’t have to go in on her own. At her first meeting, she sat between the regulars Peggy and
Sheila where there was a space. Peggy, Sheila and Freda just got chatting, and after a while, she started joining them on little trips to places like the film club at the heritage centre.

Sadly Sheila passed away, and Peggy and Freda’s relationship just developed. Freda explained that they go walking and have little adventures, “It’s just nice – and it’s a laugh. We
speak every day on the phone. She came to my birthday party last year and my 70th this year so she knows all the family – they think Peggy is lovely and they’re amazed at how I’ve
opened up. When I have bad days – sometimes she senses it – it’s weird.”

Peggy explained that another Friday club member has christened them the “lively birds” – “lets face it, we all know each other at Friday club, before Friday club when my husband was still alive I would see people around the Rylands and say hello, but life was so busy I never really knew them. Friday Club brings people closer together, we all have grief in common, friendship is important. I don’t laugh with anyone else as much as Freda.”

Friday Club is open to all residents over 60. Meetings are every Friday between 1.30 and 3.30 pm for food, friendship and fun. Since the latest COVID-19 restrictions it’s changed to
phone calls, Zoom meetings and food deliveries, but Friday club will be back as soon we can meet safely again.

JB and NR

Students and the pandemic

Since March last year, students have been plunged into the deep end, forced to keep up the same standard of work in very abnormal circumstances. It’s been difficult for all the university students finishing their degrees, but arguably even harder for those starting and moving to the city for the first time.

Not only were these ‘freshers’ trying to navigate their way through a strange city, meet new people and succeed in their studies, they had to do it all in the middle of an international healthcare crisis, exacerbating any feelings they may have had of feeling isolated and out-of-place.

Irene Bisoni moved to Nottingham from Italy in September to start her degree, but did not expect living and studying during a pandemic to be so isolating.

“I had a lot of hopes about moving to another city and starting anew. The first lockdown was bearable for me but during this lockdown I’m really starting to feel isolated and I’m incredibly homesick. Not talking to people in real life makes things incredibly hard at times.”

Irene also felt like the presence of a lockdown has severely affected another key aspect of university life.

“In terms of my student experience, it is virtually non-existent. I haven’t been able to truly experience university as a fully functioning student. I also feel like university students are forgotten easily because people think they’re older, more mature, and more able to cope with the workload, but I don’t agree at all. A lot of emphasis has been put on students partying and breaching rules during the pandemic, and although I am completely against the breaching of rules, there have been circumstances where we have been wrongly demonised. I’m hoping that after the pandemic is over I’ll be able to see Nottingham in a different light.”

University of Nottingham student Lauren McGaun has also just started her second year studying Politics and American studies. She expressed her discontent with the clarity surrounding the ever-changing regulations and understands students’ frustrations.

“I think the constant changing of rules is just frustrating for students as there’s no clarity around the decisions. We were assured that we would be given a relatively easy return to campus from September and that blended learning would continue throughout this year, but that quickly changed. I, and I am sure many others, feel that it would’ve been better to just continue with home learning so that students didn’t waste thousands of pounds on accommodation that simply isn’t being used.”

Lauren also went on to say that she feels students have been forgotten by the government, aggravating students’ frustrations over the past several months.

She said: “There’s rarely ever a mention of university students in government briefings even though we’re a generation whose futures will be most affected by this crisis. It seems that all students are grouped into one perception of all acting irrepressibly even though, for the most part, this isn’t true. The student experience has been hugely different this year but I do commend the university for taking the steps they did for keeping the campus safe and covid-secure.

Lauren added: “It has been very difficult to adjust as most of what was meant to be some of my best years at university have been spent working at home and struggling to focus which is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.”

Throughout this pandemic, the lives of students at university have been turned into a chaotic string of events, despite the fact that university should be some of the best years of their life. Students have been at the forefront of this pandemic, often for rule-breaking, but here’s hoping when we eventually return to normal, the scapegoating of students will return to normality too.

FP

Mellow Yellow

I have been watching with great interest since the beginning of October, the renovations at 42 Chilwell Road. Ever since my childhood when dad used to take me onto building sites (his job was to lay the foundations), I have been fascinated by how buildings are constructed.

Quite recently a general store, this particular ensemble of bricks and mortar had been empty and neglected for quite some time, but its sturdy Edwardian exterior held the promise of another reincarnation. I was particularly excited when I passed by mid-October and noticed that the original signage, on the top part of the large front window, had been uncovered – the past was being slowly revealed. I found myself looking for excuses to walk past just to keep an eye on progress.

By the end of November, the rotten window frames had been replaced and the surrounding brickwork repaired. More renovations, including the installation of a fire escape, which could have had embarrassing consequences – they knocked through to the neighbouring pharmacy’s upstairs toilet! Luckily nobody was sitting on it at the time, there might have been some very red faces.

Things were really taking shape at the end of December. New pipework, rewiring, new ceiling, concrete floor and the framework for shelving went in. The beginnings of Yellow Wood Café were in place. Cheered at the thought of Beeston’s burgeoning independent café scene gaining a new venue,  I felt it was time to catch up with its creator to hear all about future plans.

It’s Saturday afternoon and the Farmer’s Market is ‘safely’ bustling in the square, cheerfully masking the closed and empty businesses. There is a lightness in my tread as I make my way down the High Road to the corner of Colin Street and knock eagerly on the whited-out glass door, delighted to be getting the opportunity to see what was going on inside. Iain greeted me warmly and invited me to look around. There had been significant work done on the ground floor and I could see the future of this room, full of people enjoying coffee and each other’s company to the backdrop of a busy street scene.

Iain got the keys in August but started the project and negotiations back in March 2020, just as it became apparent that we were in the throes of a pandemic. Not everyone was as enthusiastic about his vision, nevertheless, the opportunity was too good to pass up. Ever since he was fifteen, Iain had a passion for cooking and felt this was something he would enjoy doing for a living. Instead, he studied engineering and forged a successful career as a sound engineer at one point working at the BBC as a radio engineer and more recently as an associate professor in acoustics at Nottingham University.

Taking voluntary redundancy in June left Iain with new options to explore, and just like Robert Frost in his poem ‘The Road Not Taken’, Iain knew that he had to choose the right path thus enabling his teenage dream to materialise. This poem resonated with Iain and the ‘yellow wood’ came to symbolise the community café space that Iain was keen to create – no regrets, no looking back just enjoying the journey.

Iain has done much of the restoration work himself. He talks me through this with all the enthusiasm and trepidation of a man who knows he has taken on a huge project but is driven by a desire to restore and expand on the building’s former glory. He talks me through some of the horrors he has discovered dismantling the modern fascia and signage revealing the rotten lintels, and of course the most precious of all the things he has been working hard to preserve, those fabulously authentic windows! There have been a few tense moments, but Iain tells me that working with an enthusiastic local builder helped to reassure him that they were in good hands and with someone who really appreciated the attention to detail that was required.

Cornish-born but with much of his early life spent growing up in Yorkshire, Iain has lived and worked in Beeston for over twenty years now and resides in one of the network of terraced streets that have been part of Beeston’s heritage since the 1800s. An all-absorbing career, raising a family and recent ill-health left him feeling quite detached from his local community and this is definitely something he would love to remedy – also something we both recognised as incredibly important in light of recent events.

As we walk around the shell of the old shop (at a safe distance of course), Iain talks enthusiastically about his plans to integrate his love of good honest food and fresh coffee with his passion for music, one he shares with his wife Kay. There is ample space over the three floors to provide music and ‘soul food’ to customers, bookable rooms that can be used for study or work and space for Kay to operate a counselling service. A definite feel-good space, Iain smiles as he describes the feeling he gets as he arrives at the shop to work in the mornings. Fortified with fresh coffee, the radio and the morning sun streaming through the windowed frontage, he approaches each task with care and curiosity – weighing up what will work best in each room and how it will eventually look. It has definitely been an antidote to the doom and gloom in the news.

With all the major wiring work and fire regulations adhered to, apart from the spiral staircase fire escape from the first floor out to the garden terrace at the back, Iain is hoping to be open for business by the end of April.

To accompany Iain on his renovation journey, follow on Facebook and Instagram.

Visit their website here.

DU

I am Beeston: Jamil Ahmed – Postmaster

“I grew up as a migrant child in greater Manchester. We lived in some of the poorer areas of Manchester. At the age of 10, my father got a job in Nottingham and we made the big move from Manchester to Sneinton. I went to Greenwood School which later became the Nottingham Academy. We moved to Beeston in 1994, as it was a friendly area and also well known for good amenities.

“In 2013, an opportunity arose to buy the local post office on Broadgate. I decided to take this opportunity, as I wanted a change from my previous job. Living in Beeston and having a business in Beeston, allowed me to stay connected with my local community and allowed me to contribute to the local area. It also helped me to gain knowledge of the local community. The post office plays an important part when it comes to serving the local community, and I don’t just mean the products and services that it offers, but from helping customers with non-postal related issues to conversing with some of the elderly and vulnerable customers who don’t have anyone to talk to, but love coming into the post office to have a chat. I often see the majority of my customers in and around Beeston, and some of them I know so well, that I have built up a good relationship, that even when they move out of the area they still come back to use my post office.

“What I like about Beeston, is that it’s very lively with the university and there are many prominent businesses around. A lot of green spaces such as university park and Rylands. Beeston is very diverse and very friendly and I think that’s what makes the town so unique. Most people are very relaxed and this creates a great atmosphere. Since 1991 the town centre has been transformed a few times. The old shops such McDonald’s, Superdrug, Be Wise and many others have all gone. But the construction of Tesco’s and now the new cinema bring new opportunities. Not forgetting the tram.

“One thing I have done is the development of two derelict commercial properties on Chilwell Road and transformed them into a modern retail premise and two flats.  My brother and I bought the shops back in October 2015. They were derelict and completely ruined and so we spent most weekends and evenings fixing it up. The work took us 18 months in total. These were featured on the TV series ‘Homes Under the Hammer’. I had great fun doing the show, and the episode was aired in 2017. After that, it was nice to get recognised around Beeston when shopping and at work. It still turns up on daytime TV, and someone will say that I’ve been on TV again”.

“There are so many funny stories that have happened at the post office. If I had to pick one it would be when a student came in and handed me an item, unpacked, and with no address on it. They simply walked out whilst I was walking back to the serving counter. Another one is that someone once posted a parcel, and then three years later he received it back and he asked me why. 

“I’m proud to say that as a sub-postmaster, I enjoy serving the local community and I hope the local community will give me the opportunity to serve them. I would ask everyone who reads this article to use their local post office and encourage friends and family to use theirs. Post offices are run by individual Postmasters, and we rely on the customers’ footfall to keep us open. We offer a wide range of services such as postal services (Royal Mail and Parcel Force worldwide), local collect services, currency exchange, travel insurance, DVLA services, passport check and send and many more. We also sell greeting cards, stationery, toys, gifts and household items. You can even drop off your dry cleaning.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the lovely people of Beeston for making it such a great place to live.

CF

Beestonians through lockdown: Suzanna Plimmer, secondary school teacher

How volunteering for a foodbank opened a Beestonian’s eyes…

We were told by my school that we’d be off for two weeks, so leave everything on our desks and we’d be back in a fortnight. That night, Boris told us we’d be having the full shutdown. I’ve got three kids away at different unis, so I called them home – get back quickly. One of them, studying in Liverpool, thought it was all a fuss about nothing. I didn’t get to see her for six months.

I had a couple of weeks just doing my Joe Wicks and whatever, but I felt in limbo. I was sewing scrubs and that was something, but I felt I needed to do more.  I went to my local Co-op and said: “If you want me to help stock the shelves then I’m happy to help”. Remember, back then it was hard to get anything, and I thought volunteering to help might make it easier for them, and for my community. They said yes, and I got to work.

One night, the manager told me he was sending a load of food down to the Haven food bank in Stapleford. I was curious, so found out more, and ended up asking a bloke working there, Richard (Macrae, Stapleford Community Group Director and local councillor) if I could volunteer more. I started by going to the food bank twice a week at the food bank picking the food. There’d be people with short term needs, people with long term needs, people with mental health issues: we’d serve them all. I was shocked at how many people needed help.

I moved on to deliveries, and what shook me was how there were people I knew, who never in my mind did I imagine they were needing help. I visited one set of flats, a building close to me which I had somehow not really noticed before. I gave the woman living there some nappies. She burst into tears: her baby hadn’t worn nappies for two days. That moment did something to me. I thought how the evening before I’d opened my fridge and thrown away all the crap I hadn’t yet eaten that week. I was struck by what a waste it all was: I could afford to throw food away while this poor woman couldn’t afford nappies.

Since then, I only buy exactly what I need, nothing else. It’s morally corrupt to throw stuff away. I will never do so again and will encourage others to do so. I take my lunches to work, and every scrap of leftovers is eaten. Until I worked at the food bank I didn’t know the extent to which this was all happening. We’re a rich nation, yet people have to rely on these silent heroes to help them. The last few months have given me the opportunity to have some clarity. Life before was a hamster wheel, working long hours and not having time to think about much outside work. I’ve seen what is important and what isn’t important.