Down on the Reserve: Bumper Harvest!

A combination of one of the warmest springs in the last 100 years and a wet and mild June has provided the perfect growing conditions for plants and there is currently a wonderful display of colour at Attenborough Nature Reserve.

The most noticeable as you walk around the Reserve at the moment are the flowers and
blackberries on the bramble. This familiar thorny shrub grows almost anywhere on the Reserve and can commonly be found in woodland, grassland and within the hedgerows. The white and pinkish flowers are literally covering the bushes and on sunny days attract a huge number of bees, hoverflies and other pollinating insects.

Bramble is incredibly valuable for the wildlife at Attenborough. Not only do the flowers provide opportunities for pollinating insects, but the fruit provides food for mammals and birds – particularly during the autumn migration. The dense spiky bushes give valuable protection for nesting birds and also provides a habitat for a range of other small animals.

Whilst the blackberries are the most obvious fruit, a vast array of edible delights can be found around the Reserve including dewberry, elder, cherry, blackthorn, hawthorn and rose to name but a few

Incredibly some 400 micro-species of wild blackberry grow in the UK!
Following an abundance of flowers on the bramble this year it seems that we are going to be in for a bumper crop of blackberries! The fruit ripened some weeks earlier than we
would typically expect.

I have fond memories of foraging with my parents as a child. My mum in particular was a keen jam-maker and would have a large jam pan on the stove from late spring to autumn as different fruits became available. Blackberry season was always one of my favourite times of the year, and I possibly ate as many berries as I put in my ice-cream tub for the jam.

There is some evidence to suggest that trees and shrubs are fruiting up to three weeks earlier than they were 50 years ago, the result of global climate change. Although it would take many more years of data to confirm this, as an indication of just how far the seasons have come forward in the last 30 years, it would have been in the week before I went back to school after the summer holiday that we would head out to pick blackberries. In the last few years, I have taken my son out picking in the first week of the school holiday.

Wild foraging is certainly a great way to engage children in the wonders of the natural world. Whilst the blackberries are the most obvious fruit, a vast array of edible delights can be found around the Reserve including dewberry, elder, cherry, blackthorn, hawthorn and rose to name but a few. Most are wild set, but others such as crab apple, pear and plum serve as a reminder of the Reserve’s history within an agricultural landscape.

Whilst we do not discourage visitors from picking blackberries, we kindly ask that if you are going to go foraging on Nature Reserves such as Attenborough that you stick to the footpaths and do not trample the vegetation in order to get to the juiciest fruit. In 2011 we had a similarly early crop ofblackberries and the actions of blackberry pickers, trampling down the vegetation, led to a bird’s nest being uncovered – the chicks, unprotected by the prickly vegetation, were subsequently predated and died.

Please enjoy the wild harvest, but only pick what you know you will use/eat, leave some for the birds and other wildlife and finally only pick what you are certain is edible and that you have identified correctly.

TIM SEXTON, ATTENBOROUGH NATURE CENTRE.

The Bean at Twenty

How The Bean reached 20

Coffee shops and Beeston have become synonymous over the last few years. It’s become a caffeine-lovers hotspot, and although some grumps seem to think this is a negative most Beestonians recognise it as a sign of a strong town: if enough local, largely-independent businesses can survive on the disposable incomes of residents, we’re doing alright.

Hipsters and their caffeinated contemporaries would be shocked to know that just a mere 20 years ago, a cappuccino was as exotic as it’d get and the default coffee was a cup of bitter Nescafe. The café that ushered in this new era back in the late nineties was The Bean. To mark 20 years of excellence, we talked to owner Alex Bitsios-Esposito to find 20 facts about the shop that started it all…

  1. The Bean was set up by Silvana, a Canadian Italian who moved here in the nineties. Her son Alex explains “There just wasn’t anywhere in the town to get a decent coffee. Italy and Canada both have developed coffee-cultures, so she took a gamble.”
  2. Beestonians were initially cautious, but curious. “The idea of a coffee shop being a social meeting point wasn’t really there, and took time.”
  3. Alex was just 8 years old when he started helping out. “I’d take orders, do bits and bobs. I could barely reach the till.”
  4. It swiftly gained accolades: in 1999 it won a national survey of coffee shops.
  5. It was unprecedented in carefully selecting its coffee: “Mass produced coffees tasted burnt – we wanted to show off the vast range of flavours and subtleties.”
  6. Back then, it was a Cyber Coffee (readers under 30: ask an older person). People would queue to pay £3.50 per hour to tediously wait for a message board about Star Trek to refresh on Windows 98, and sip on their Latte thinking they were living in the future.
  7. “We still get people a bit confused, and asking what the wiffy is and why its free.”
  8. As it grew in popularity, more coffee shops opened up to cope with the demand. We currently have around 12, mostly independent. Do Beestonians sleep?
  9. Alex is a fan of these other coffee shops. “They’ve created a healthy competition, keeping us on our toes to innovate.”
  10. Handily for our international issue, they’ve always been one of the most global of employers. Alex: “Spanish, Turkish, German, Czech, Chinese, Ghanaian, Australian, Vietnamese, Latvian, New Zealanders…and many more.”
  11. Many people met their partners here, not least Alex, whose wife used The Bean as a place to write a book. Staff have married other staff; customers have married other customers.”
  12. He’d be able to retire if he’d taken a commission on all these couplings…
  13. They became the first café in Beeston to be part of the Suspended Coffee programme: customers can buy a coffee for those less fortunate than them, and those who can’t afford a drink for whatever reasons can receive one, no questions asked. Nice.
  14. It has a city-centre sister shop, Cartwheel: “It’s less of a community place, being located there, a different buzz.”
  15. One fan is the superstar author Jon McGregor, who voted it one of his cultural highlights in an article for the Guardian.
  16. Quite cheeky considering he’d just won the Costa award, if you think about it.
  17. Other famous Cartwheelers are Dylan Moran and Ronan Keating: “he had a juice.”
  18. The Bean, and many other cafes and pubs, seems to be the de facto office of The Beestonian. If you’re reading this in one of those places and see a harassed looking chap bashing away at his keyboard while muttering to himself, you’re probably watching the next issue in progress.
  19. Alex took over as owner in 2018. With two young kids and one on the way, is this a start of a dynasty in Beeston? “When they can reach the till.”
  20. Favourite drink? “Same as my mum: straight espresso.” When I look disappointed, he replies, “It’s a perennial classic”. As The Bean moves into its third decade hepping-up Beeston, it’s a description that serves that corner of Stoney Street well.

MT

Creative Beeston: Soul Food at The DoughMother

I first learned of The DoughMother, about a month ago, when Mr U presented me with a white paper bag containing a couple of still warm sourdough baguettes and a fruit syrup glazed koulouri which was nothing short of divine!

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Baked goods have a way of invoking feelings of reassurance; of being hugged from the inside. We ate the baguettes with a bowl of homemade soup later, perfect! The creativity was evident, and so I had to find out more.

Baking is an experience we can all appreciate in a holistic way. Getting back in touch with all our senses, particularly our sense of smell, can revive happy memories of early childhood. Scent is the first way we recognised our mothers, and contributes to us feeling safe and loved. According to psychologist and columnist Linda Blair, who wrote an article extolling the virtues of The Great British Bake-Off, ‘the act of baking is a process, not a soundbite. It takes time to read a recipe, gather the ingredients, mix the dough, let it rise, shape it, and then bake what we’ve created.’ It’s how we humans are most comfortable operating, understanding what we are doing, step by step. It’s good for our wellbeing, and all this effort brings us great rewards.

…she had lived in various parts of Beeston and fell in love with the place. She liked the convenience of not having to go into the city to buy essentials and felt drawn to the town, ‘It had a good feeling.’

We have been back a couple of times since and it seems word has got out already in the neighbourhood about the artisan boulanger in the middle of Central Avenue. Each time we visit we are greeted with a generous welcome, Houlia tells me that they celebrated their two-month anniversary on New Year’s Day and already she and her partner Alican have attracted regular customers. Houlia is ‘The DoughMother.’ She is responsible for the warm scent of bread baking in the busy oven out back. The aroma alone is enough to entice you in, but they have more than delicious loaves on offer to tempt you. Alican is the maker of the sweeter treats. The koulouri is his speciality, but they also have a range of cakes and pastries in their antique glass cabinet. The flour they use for the breads is locally sourced, from Green’s Mill in Sneinton. They are proud of the space that they have built together and overwhelmed with the support they received from friends in bringing their dream to reality.

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Using reclaimed bits and pieces, transported by supermarket trolley in the absence of a car, they have created a welcoming café space which encourages you to stay, have a coffee, read a book or just enjoy the eclectic mix of music playing in the background. It is an honest place where everyone is welcome. Alichan tells me about their plans to develop the secure back yard into an area where children can play safely, whilst their parents enjoy a coffee and a catch up with a friend. Houlia tells me how the whole idea for The DoughMother came about and why she chose this area: she tells me that since moving from a small island in Greece to Nottingham in 2011 to study for a Biology Masters, and then her PhD, she had lived in various parts of Beeston and fell in love with the place. She liked the convenience of not having to go into the city to buy essentials and felt drawn to the town, ‘It had a good feeling.’

Living close to Central Avenue, she noticed that lack of opportunities for locals to buy the wholesome, home-cooked food that would have been available in her home town, and how important this experience is to communities. Both she and Alichan talked of the alienation that is occurring in society and how providing spaces like The DoughMother is encouraging people to come out of their homes in search of nourishment after a busy working day, to enjoy a bit of escape from that in a space that breathes a nurturing warmth into their lives. It’s a place to meet friends, enjoy community and celebrate the very basic nourishment of life, eating together.

I look around and appreciate the emblems of a simple life: a wire basket of milk bottles reminds me of Mr Jeffries, our copper-topped milkman, who dropped off our daily pint as we still slumbered, and came around cheerily on a Friday afternoon for his milk money. There are accents of nature, lush greenery against the soft tangerine walls, and the mismatched furniture harks back to a time when things were built to last.

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If you haven’t discovered this little gem yet, then you really should pay them a visit. You can’t miss the clever signage, designed by Houlia herself, thankfully you won’t find any Mafiosi drinking the Greek coffee and beating you to the pastries.

You will find The DoughMother at 109 Central Avenue, Beeston, NG9 2QS Or on Facebook at facebook.com/thedoughmother

DU

Don’t miss Beeston’s first High Road Hustle!

Save a space in your diary for the 27th May and come down to Beeston’s premier High Road Hustle on Chilwell Road for an eclectic mix of delicious street food and live music.

You’ll be met with a wide range of delectables, such as the Eastern flavours of Deckard’s boas, as well as the wonderful Yim Thai stall, and authentic Korean cuisine from A Taste of Korea. The Chef’s Cottage are equipping their stall with their menu’s unique fusion of Caribbean and Thai dishes. Dubbing Good Food will be there to provide high-flavour healthy meals, including veggie and vegan options, and Pick’s Organic Farm will be showing off their farm-fresh local produce.  Cakes and pastries will be offered by Mumma G’s Bakery, and The Nice Lolly Company’s funky home-made ice-lollies can satiate your sweet tooth.

The Berliner’s George told me that ‘I wanted to bring a street food festival to the High Road as I believe Beeston could benefit massively from something that happens annually in the summer. I hope that this draws people from all over Nottingham and puts Beeston on the map as a fun and happening place. We have good bars and places to drink.’

This is clear by the amount of bars and restaurants that are getting involved with the festival, such as The Berliner, Totally Tapped, The Frustrated Chef, The Bar, Milano Express, The Hop Pole and The Chequers, all of which will be hosting their own entertainment during the festivities.

From 3pm to 10pm The Berliner will be presenting live music of multiple genres, from the acoustic music of George Gadd, to The Ramshackle Boys’ rock covers, all tastes are catered for. More information about their entertainments can be found on their Facebook page.

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Photo credit: High Road Hustle

What’s more is that The Berliner have teamed up with Southern Comfort and Deckards to give away a free day at the High Road Hustle. With four Southern Comfort cocktails and some free SoCo merchandise, as well as four mouth-watering baos from Deckards up for grabs.

You only have to share the competition on The High Road Hustle’s Facebook page to have a chance of winning. The winner will be picked on Thursday 24th May, so get sharing!

The food stalls are setting up for 12pm and will be going through to around 9pm. I hope to see you there for a celebration of good food, good music, and a good time all round.

AS

Beeston Beats: Bendigo review

Happy New Year Beestonians! Let us hope you have all recovered from the toils of the festive season and the super dry period of abstinence that is now upon us.

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I may be a little late to the party with this one so to speak. January is always quiet, and we are all recovering from the shear indulgence and hedonism of the month prior to that really, aren’t we? I decided to take this one a little more low-key and finally check out the (relatively) new lounger’s venue that has opened in Beeston. The Bendigo Lounge, named after Beeston born, bare knuckle fighter ‘William Abendigo Thompson’ AKA ‘Bendigo’. Bendigo moved to Beeston a little later in his life and lived in a house on Wollaton road until his passing in 1880, where to this day a blue plaque is left in commemoration.

Proudly occupying a prime spot on the High Road, the former McDonald’s site has been re-claimed and put to use. The re-fit has been quoted as costing £580,000. The Bendigo lounge opened its doors to the general public on the 15th November 2017 and I must say, I feel quite proud to live in a town where “trading patterns” were not sufficient to allow the fast food giant to take hold.

The space is an intermediate between coffee shops and pubs and has a welcoming feel

The arrival of the Bendigo lounge has filled a much needed gap in the high street and also within the town’s night-time economy. The venue serves food from the morning right through until the evening and has a menu to cater for all needs and/or preferences, including a separate vegan menu and a comprehensive list of gluten free options.

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Typical fayre on offer comprises of typical British favourites such as; sandwiches, panini, salads, burgers, tapas, curry and steak. Breakfast options (for both veggies and carnivores) and a variety of coffees are also on offer. A trip to the Bendigo lounge won’t be too damaging to the pocket either. Most menu items for mains are priced at around about £10. Brunch options are served all day and are a little less expensive at around the £6- £8 mark.

 

Not forgetting drinks, again we have the typical selection of teas soft drinks, wines, cocktails and draft beers. In addition there is also a variety of smoothies, milkshakes, juices and home-made favourites.

Décor is eclectically quirky. An array of lampshades litter the ceiling, whilst the walls are decorated in colourful wallpapers, set behind a showcase of artworks, mirror’s and portraits. There is even a wall decorated in stylised images of Bendigo adopting a fighting stance. The furniture has an up-cycled feel and the table tops are brightly painted in an array of designs. The space is an intermediate between coffee shops and pubs and has a welcoming feel. At the front of the venue there is outdoor seating. I noticed the presence of bi fold doors. Obviously due to the weather these haven’t been opened yet, but I can imagine this would add a nice airy feel to the place come summer time.

Current offers include the “Cheeky Monday’s” Where you can get a free drink or dessert with any special, burger or main, and “Tapas Tuesdays” (which is when I went) offering 3 tapas and a glass of wine for £9.95. This offer is particularly good when shared. My companion for the evening and I both got this. We made sure to order a different trio of tapas each and found between us we had a lovely mix and match of dishes to enjoy. Service was polite and reasonably quick. The staff were all very friendly and seemingly on point despite the venue not having been open for long. For me this place gets a definitive thumbs up, and I shall most certainly be visiting again.

The Bendigo Lounge is typically open from 9am until 11pm, On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays the hours are extended until midnight. For more information please see the website on http://thelounges.co.uk/bendigo/

DB

Foodprint

Taking a step in the right direction…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JM

I Am Beeston: Special Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CDF

Creative Beeston: Not Another Coffee Shop in Beeston

Trading places…

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Here at The Beestonian we are always on a quest to find out what makes out town so special to its inhabitants.  The I Am Beeston project addresses this perfectly, with comments straight from the local’s mouths and a more recent mission ‘Buzzword’ the search and finding of a poem for Beeston, also revealed what Beeston represents to many of us.

We were rather more than a little bit thrilled then to find that a group of studious guests of Beeston, who came from Thailand back in 2007, made it their home for the duration of their studies and were so taken with the place they decided to create their own little bit of Beeston back in Bangkok. They describe Beeston as the ‘perfect home from home’ and the memories they shared of their time in our special little town clearly illustrate how inspired they were by their stay here.

“They have carefully crafted a ‘laid back and friendly’ venue where they serve up lovingly prepared home cooked food.”

I have been messaging an affable gentleman, who introduces himself as Ball, which is apparently a ‘Thai nickname’ but I am too polite to ask why. He says he found Beeston ‘comfortable and sincere’ then goes on to mention the joy of waking up with the sound of church bells, the friendly atmosphere and enjoying shopping in the local shops in preparation for a feast at a friend’s house. He also alludes to the Christmas lights and barbecues in the warmer months, in fact food features quite a lot in his recollections of his time here. Favourite hangouts were The Bean and The Last Post, he recalls being amused by seeing a friend strolling out of Ladbrokes, on one of his visits to the latter, whilst ‘relaxing on a cold day.’

Within this group of Nottingham University engineering and business students lay ‘amazing chefs, food lovers and a talented baker’ that delighted in producing ‘simple but hearty dishes’ to share and socialise around. This was a hugely important part of their life in Beeston and one they have taken back to Thailand with them. When they designed Beeston Café in 2016, their intention was to recreate all of their positive encounters. They have carefully crafted a ‘laid back and friendly’ venue where they serve up lovingly prepared home cooked food. Taking influences from their favourite places in Beeston, and other places in the UK, they have developed a menu which demonstrates their desire to share their wonderful experiences with their customers back in their homeland.

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Obviously curious, I typed ‘Beeston Café Bangkok’ into my search bar and eagerly awaited the results. What greeted my eyes was a slick website with visions of plump juicy grilled tomatoes and sizzling chicken, surrounded by lots of happy guests in a contemporary setting. The décor is just as sumptuous, a subdued palette with accents of exposed brick and industrial shelving occupied with gleaming glassware.  The Bean’s influence is most noticeable in the banners attached to the low barriers that mark the seating area outside the café but the menu is much more eclectic. For 230 Baht (around a fiver) you can get all day breakfast that would easily rival JD Wetherspoon’s and there are hints of some of their ‘pub classics’ too. I have to say though, I was most intrigued by the ‘Croissant Pudding.’ They do seem to have found many uses for this humble pastry, including cross breeding it with a waffle at some point.

With Menu Options such as ‘Fill My Belly’ I would be surprised if they hadn’t sampled the local takeaways at least once. Incidentally they do deliveries but since the last parcel I awaited from Bangkok was sent by slow boat, took three months and was mouldy on arrival, I won’t take my chances that they will be ‘filling my belly’ tonight. Each of the former students has their favoured UK dish on the menu and they take their coffee seriously. It is described by Ball as ‘debated to perfection.’

Set in Ekamai, Bangkok’s hippest neighbourhood, Beeston Café is tucked away down a small side street in an area full of cool coffee shops, pop-up bars and vintage shops.  According to Trip Advisor it’s where the ‘city’s well-dressed and well-heeled spend their nights sipping cocktails.’ They could be talking about our Beeston then, with its abundance of cool cafes, and its burgeoning night-time economy which has been driven by stylish bars like The Berliner and Rye then fortified by the recent opening of The Bendigo Lounge.

When I saw that Nottingham Post had run an article about Beeston Café a couple of weeks back I sent Ball a few more questions in a bid to add a bit of extra insight into this article. Unfortunately he didn’t quite round to answering them so I guess we will never know if he ever had his photograph taken with the Beeman, watched a wrestling match at The Victory Club or enjoyed an afternoon boating on the lake at Highfields. It is however, wonderful to know that the legacy of Beeston café culture lives on 5,934 miles away (according to Google) so kop-khun-kha Beeston Café!

You can find Beeston Café on facebook ,their website is www.beestoncafe.com. Be sure to expect the warmest of welcomes if you are ever in the area and you do decide to pay them a visit.

DU

Food…And Film!

 

Food scenes in films have always existed to remind the audience that even though the people onscreen are much hotter, richer and more talented than the viewing audience, they still need a decent meal like ordinary folk from time to time.

This month I list my all time favourite food scenes while binge eating a bag of own brand peanuts. Please enjoy.

Lady and the Tramp spaghetti scene:

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Until I was 4 years old I didn’t really believe in love, I thought it was a dystopian ideal circulated by a corrupt government to get people to pay more taxes, but then I watched 2 dogs kiss by accident while eating Italian food and I knew love was real. I still think Lady could do better, though.

Jurassic Park jelly wobble:

jpark

This scene still makes me anxious. We learn that raptors can open doors and it still frightens me as much as when my toddler managed it for the first time and caught me plucking my ‘tash.

What We Do in the Shadows:

shadowes

Regardless of a hilarious late-night chippie takeaway scene, seek this film out for its sheer hilarity. A bunch of vampires film a mockumentary about the perils of modern life, one of which is not having chips after a mental night out. I definitely could not be a vampire, you couldn’t even have garlic sauce on them.

9 ½ Weeks:

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This entire film marked my transition to womanhood and gave me a lifelong interest in top of the range fridge-freezers. Bet theirs was A+ for energy conservation. Not sure about a blindfolded buffet though, I’d prefer toast and Netflix if I’m honest.

The Martian:

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Matt Damon becomes a farmer on Mars. Stay with me, he does science stuff too and is funny with some actual jokes, but mainly he’s a space farmer. How many crops have YOU grown on Earth? EXACTLY. Impressive stuff if you like extreme farming. Which I do.

Beetlejuice:

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Do yourselves a favour and rewatch The Banana Boat Song scene on Youtube. I’m assuming you know what I mean, and if you don’t then I’m afraid we probably can’t be penpals any more. I once showed this to my daughter and she had nightmares about hands coming out of soup for months. She just really doesn’t like soup.

Daisy Leverington

One Lump Or Two

Like the White Queen in ‘Alice Through theLooking Glass’’, I try to believe six impossible things before breakfast, but Trump becoming US President was a one too many. So when I found out that an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ themed café had opened up near the Nottingham Railway Station, I just had to go down the rabbit hole and find out all about it.

The Wonderland Café is situated in the basement of the old Hopkinson building on Station Street, and began trading in December. It is the creation of Beestonian Ash Hudson, who lives in the Rylands, but is originally from Chesterfield. Ash had previously worked there selling watches from a stall. When the tearoom closed down, he had the crazy idea of running one himself, using his favourite book as inspiration. And so Wonderland was born. It is currently open seven days a week between 12 & 5pm.

Hopkinson’s began as a Victorian engineering business, but in 2010 the building became an arts centre. In fact I exhibited some photographs there in that year, as part of a Flickr group that I was involved in. But now it contains three floors crammed with antiques and collectables:  real nostalgia trip down Memory Lane.

There are two ways to reach the café. One is to hunt out the stairs amongst the shelves of bric a brac, while the other is more direct, being down the side alley, where signs and a mannequin direct you. Due to the high winds that day, Ash had had to lock those away, so the stairs it was.

The café area is quite large, with twelve tables and seating for fifty people. Motifs from the book are everywhere, although Ash was keen to point out that he has followed Carroll’s original novel, rather than the 1951 Disney film. Ash of course is the Mad Hatter. There isn’t really anyone else he could be. He employs two waitresses, who become The Red Queen and Alice, when they are looking after the customers.  Of which there are many, especially on a Saturday.

There is a small, but interesting menu, with teas, sandwiches, and a stew on offer. And of course cake, some of which come courtesy of our very own Beeston Brownie Company.

Tea parties, either for two people, or groups, are welcomed, and themed events are in the pipeline for this year, the first being a ‘Lonely Queen of Hearts’ speed-dating event set for St Valentine’s Day.

The café has been kitted out with props sourced directly from Hopkinson’s. Someone that works in the building has specially made some of the more intricate and unusual items, while two flamingos came courtesy of eBay.  Local graffiti artist ‘smallkid’ has used spray paint to create a forest scene of giant mushrooms along one wall, and a row of grinning Cheshire Cats and the signage outside.

The Internet has been brilliant for Wonderland, as its story was one of the most locally shared on Facebook during 2016, with over 11,000 mentions. Ash originally wanted to open a café in Beeston, as he loves the town so much, and was looking at the former estate agents on Wollaton Road, but was beaten to it by what is now home to vintage café ‘Time For Tea’.

The future looks exciting, as Ash has plans to turn the rest of the basement area into a bar/restaurant. He is going to launch a Kickstarter project in May, which we wish him luck with.

‘Drink Me’ cocktails anyone?

Wonderland can be contacted on 07930 877496.

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