Star Q&A: Justin Fletcher

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TV megastar Justin Fletcher MBE tells us about his influences as he steps out to a venue near you for his all-singing and dancing live show Justin Live – The Big Tour!

Q. Hello! You’ve been a children’s TV star for more than 20 years. Who inspired you? “As a child I used to watch Playschool with Jonny Ball, Derek Griffiths and Floella Benjamin and loved acting out the stories. During my three-year drama course, I was inspired by Philip Schofield and Chris Jarvis in the CBBC Broom Cupboard. I put a show reel together, secured an audition for the Playdays theatre tour and I landed the part of Mr Jolly. That started my career.”

Q. The Big Tour will be full of slapstick. Who are your comedy heroes? “Slapstick comedy has such wide appeal. It’s great when children and their families laugh out loud watching routines by performers like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. It’s a timeless format and you can’t beat the sound of belly laughter from the audience. I was inspired by Laurel and Hardy. I used to watch their slapstick routines over and over. They had such amazing chemistry between them.”

Q. Do you think family entertainment has changed? “The choice on TV is now huge. When I was a child there were very limited programmes. However, having a good strong story-based script and engaging characters is still the key.”

Q. How important do you think live theatre is for children? “Creating many family theatre productions over the last two decades has been incredibly important to me and hugely enjoyable. There is nothing like performing on stage and meeting the families that support you and your TV shows. Children’s theatre is quite often their first live show experience. We are hoping to inspire the next generation of theatre-goers.”

Q. What do you enjoy about touring? “We have an amazing production team who work extremely hard to prepare the show before it goes out on the road. We are like one big family. From the performers to the lighting and sound operators, the catering team, and the back stage crew, we’re all working together. We also support each other out on the road, which is really important when you’re away from home for fairly long periods of time. Touring provides a fantastic opportunity to experience so many different towns and theatres across the country and to meet so many new friends along the way.”

Q. You have written this show. Tell us a little about this process… “It always starts with a storyline. Once you have that in place, I think about the music content. Music is a vital element and I try to write some original songs myself.”

Q. Any favourite songs in the show? “You can’t beat seeing the audience join in with Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, If You’re Happy and You Know It and The Hokey Cokey. Then, in a heartbeat, all singing and signing Twinkle Twinkle.”

Q. It’s likely some parents who saw you on CBeebies now bring their children to see you live. How does that feel? “I feel very proud and flattered. This inspires me to continue entertaining generations to come. It’s been a very long time since we’ve been able to tour. I can’t wait to get on the road and meet all of our friends again.”

To book your tickets, please visit imaginetheatre.co.uk/justin-live-the-big-tour

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Looking for an exclusive costal gem?

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Mill Rythe – Away Resorts is the place for everyone this summer!

A little bit of luxury, taking a chance to make your holiday in Hayling island memorable and a relaxing experience. Located right on the Hampshire coast is the place to be this summer.

Taking a dip in the swimming pool to grabbing some lunch (highly recommend their Moules of the Day!) to enjoying the outdoor cinema nights and acoustic vibes over a freshly poured cocktail.

From a relaxing break just the two of you, enjoying a hot tub or a family with kids and the dog, Away Resorts can tailor your holiday to the perfect break away that is just what you needed.

As our first family holiday we spent the week at Mill Rythe – from the most amazing accommodation with a coastal breeze, outstanding food and service we received whilst enjoying our break.· The Islander Train – on the seafront.

Top things to do when staying at Mill Rythe;

· The Islander Train – on the seafront
· Staunton Country Park
· Blue Reef Aquarium
· The hovercraft over to Isle of Wight
· Ferryboat Inn

Away Resorts will always be top of our list for our staycations; as a family or as a couple; www.awayresorts.co.uk

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Southern Pro Musica’s two new concerts

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Southern Pro Musica has two exciting concerts for the new year. Songs from the Shows: Musical highlights from stage and screen on Friday, 14th January

Start the new year with a sensational show featuring Songs from the Shows courtesy of Southern Pro Musica at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

Following the last two sell-out collaborations with the superb singers from Guildford School of Acting, Southern Pro Musica is delighted to return on Friday, 14th January, to once again present an evening of musical dazzle. There’ll be numbers from the very best Broadway and West End hits, as well as the most enduring film scores, compèred by Julian Woolford and under the baton of renowned conductor Jonathan Willcocks.

The audience will enjoy spirited ensemble numbers such as ‘Hello, Dolly!’, ‘The Best of Times’ and ‘I won’t send roses’ by Jerry Herman; ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’ and ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’ by Irving Berlin and much more. The orchestra will bring you iconic film music by John Williams – Superman and Raiders of the Lost Ark; the Great Escape music by Elmer Bernstein; the Pink Panther theme, to name a few. This will be an evening for all lovers of music theatre and film.

To purchase tickets go to www.yvonne-arnaud.co.uk, call 01483 440 000.

G Live will host Family Classics: Fun with classical music for all the family on Sunday, 20th March.

This popular annual event provides the opportunity for people of all ages to have a go at trying all sorts of musical and percussion instruments in workshops led by Southern Pro Musica musicians. The afternoon will be rounded off with a fun classical concert performed by the full professional SPM orchestra with exciting, family-friendly classical music, a narrated musical story and a song for the audience to join in with. There’ll also be guest appearances by SPM’s ‘Strictly Strings’ scheme pupils from Sandfield, St Thomas, Boxgrove and RGS Prep School, as well Guildford High Junior School Lower Choir.

To purchase tickets go to www.GLive.co.uk, call 0343 310 0055.

Southern Pro Musica is firmly established as one of the leading freelance professional chamber orchestras in the south of England. It includes among its core players many of the finest orchestral players to base their work in the south. In 2013 Southern Pro Musica was appointed by Guildford Borough Council as their ‘principal provider of Classical music’, encompassing a broad range of orchestral concerts and educational outreach work in Guildford.

Entrance is FREE to all Music for Guildford concerts for 18s and under.

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Music brings people together

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Haslemere Methodist Church is the venue for a series of stunning lunchtime and evening concerts

Haslemere Methodist Church is bringing a varied programme of instrumental classical music to the community through its ‘music brings people together’ series of concerts.

The project, spearheaded by flautist Susan Milan, embraces not only a concert series, but also an educational programme to inspire young musicians in local schools through workshops and a woodwind competition planned for May this year. Susan is a professor of the Royal College of Music and Trinitylaban Conservatory of Music and Founder and Director of the British Isles Music Festival.

The new year brings three evening concerts given by members of the London Chamber Music Group, the resident ensemble of Haslemere Methodist Church, and three lunchtime charity concerts given by young musicians from UK conservatories of music.

The concerts are held in the beautiful Sanctuary of the church with its friendly atmosphere and lovely acoustics.

The first charity concert of the year is on Thursday, 20th January at noon and this will be given by a young piano trio from the Royal College of Music consisting of flute (Ziqin Chen), oboe (Junhao Fu) and piano (Yihan Jin).

Ziqin Chen, flute
Junhao Fu, oboe
Yihan Jin, piano

Admission is free with donations welcomed for charities chosen by Haslemere Methodist Church. Enjoy cappuccino and cake in the coffee room before the concert.

The next lunchtime charity concert will be on Thursday, 10th February at noon featuring The Chiltern Winds, a wind quintet from the Royal Academy of Music.

The first Thursday evening concert on February 24th is a cello and piano recital featuring Christopher Jepson, co-principal cello of the Basel Symphony Orchestra in Switzerland and UK pianist Daniel King-Smith.

Christopher Jepson, cello
Daniel King-Smith, piano

The woodwind competition and workshops are planned for March in collaboration with local state schools, with the competition winners’ concert in May.

TICKET INFORMATION

Tickets: £18, age 12-17: £9, under 12: free.

Enquiries telephone: 01428 652202 / 07876 198498

Email: Online: www.wegottickets.com

From: Chamberlain Music, Wey Hill, Haslemere and at the door.

Refreshments available in the interval. Doors open at 7.30pm

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Your Will, your way

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David Robinson, Director of Templar Estate Planning discusses the importance of everyone having an up to date and valid Will. If you do not have a Will or changes have happened in your life, please read on!

Thinking about your Will and how you want your property and assets shared out after you die is something that no one really wants to do… but you know you should. I speak with people every week about this, and one thing is clear – there is always a great sense of relief once your Will and other Estate Planning has been completed.

It has been estimated that two thirds of people in the UK do not have a Will or any other form of estate planning in place, with the average person thinking:

• I’ll sort it later, there is plenty of time.

• What is the need? Everything I have will go to my spouse

• No need, my family will be able to agree on how to divide it all up

• Or.. I’m just not sure how to go about getting it all sorted.

Are you like this?

If you are, I would greatly encourage you to get your affairs in order now. Don’t let your family or loved ones down by dying without a Will. Here at Templar Estate Planning we specialise in providing a bespoke service whilst making the process as easy possible for our clients.

What happens If you don’t have a Will place?

In short it will mean that your loved ones, the people you want to benefit, may have a very big job to sort your affairs at a very difficult time in their life.

Without a Will you will be declared as “Intestate” – this means that your estate will be shared out to your family under certain rules – that may not be in the manner that you would like. This is particularly relevant if you are not married because under intestacy rules, your partner may not get anything.

If you are declared intestate there is a real potential that the courts will need to get involved in order to process the distribution of your estate; this can be costly, take a lot of time and even possibly cause issues within the family at a vulnerable time for them. All of which can be avoided with a Will.

Without a Will, parents of younger children are often surprised to find that should the worst happen, Guardianship of children can be contentious and decided by the Courts – someone who you may not want, could be asked to look after you children. With a Will, you can clearly state who should be the Guardians.

It probably seems obvious to say this, but with a Will you can clearly state who you want to leave your assets to. This is not just any money you might have, but also your personal and loved possessions. Importantly it also means that you can say who should not benefit.

You might have a particular cause or charity that you support and want to leave a legacy towards after you have gone. With a Will you can clearly state who this is, how much they should receive and the reasons behind your gift.

With a Will you can also lower the risk of potential family disputes. We have all heard stories where families have sadly fallen out with each other over a relative’s estate. A clearly written Will with commentary can remove any contention and leave your beneficiaries understanding and respecting your bequests.

Types of Will

We often get asked about simple Wills compared to a more sophisticated ones using Trusts. My view on a simple Will is that, although they are better than nothing, depending on your personal circumstances they can leave you exposed to avoidable threats and lose your family money. When you are planning to get your first Will or checking to see if yours still meets your requirements, think about:

• If you have a larger estate – these days that could mean even just owning your house – you could be exposed to unnecessary Inheritance Tax.

• Care home fees could result in your family home being lost to future generations.

• You may want to ensure that your children’s inheritance is protected if you spouse or partner get married again after you have gone.

• Whether your beneficiaries, for whatever reason, may not be able to manage their inheritance without help. This could be because they are in debt or threatened by creditors, or even not have the mental capacity to cope, through to you not 100% trusting their partners.

These and other threats to your estate can be mitigated by an experienced Will writer and estate planner, utilising more sophisticated Wills with Trusts.

With this type of robust planning, you will leave your estate in good hands and will minimise the work and upset for your beneficiaries.

I urge you to not delay in this vital planning. There are many options to get a Will these days and who you go to will depend on your own circumstances and what you feel comfortable with. The most important thing is to ensure that you have a valid and robust Will and if needed, further estate planning in place, to match your specific needs.

Here at Templar Estate Planning we are happy to, and without charge, take the time to discuss with you, and to ensure that all your needs are covered and importantly that you understand the whole process before you commit to our services.

Contact us today to book your free and absolutely no obligation consultation, we look forward to meeting you.

Call: 0118 948 4381
Email:
Visit our site: www.templarestateplanning.co.uk

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning allows you to put together a clear plan that details exactly your wishes regarding how you would like your estate to be managed and distributed on your death, or managed during your life should you become incapacitated.

What is an estate?

We all have an estate. Granted some may be bigger and more complicated than others, but we all have one. That is why you should be thinking now what should happen to your estate when you die or should you become incapacitated in your lifetime.

Your estate is made up of everything you own: your home and perhaps other property or land you might have, your car, your savings, investments, bank accounts, your business, and your personal possessions right through from jewellery to your golf clubs!

The basic planning you should think about:

Your Will

Number one on the list is your Will. There are many reasons to have a Will, the main is to avoid being declared intestate and therefore having your estate distributed by intestacy rules that may be in a manner that is not to your wishes. This is particularly important for unmarried couples.

Trusts

Trusts are effectively a protective wrapper around your estate or parts of it, which provide the extra protection that your requirements might demand. There are many uses for Trusts, including but not limited to; ensuring that a partner can stay in your family home after your death, protecting younger or vulnerable beneficiaries’ inheritance, or ensuring that your loved ones do not pay unnecessary tax after you have died.

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA)

A lasting power of attorney is a legal document that lets you appoint one or more trusted people to make decisions on your behalf in your lifetime should you lose mental capacity to do so. This gives you more control over what happens to you if you have an accident or an illness and cannot make your own decisions.

Transparency

Transparency and clarity of your wishes. On the whole, Wills and other estate planning is very much about the “what” and the “how”, but not about the “why” of your wishes. We can work to provide clarity on the reasons for your decisions and gifting through our Will Clarity and Statement of Execution documents to leave no room for misinterpretation or possible claims against your Estate.

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Renting in retirement with Birchgrove

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The start of a new year is usually a time when some sort of thinking and planning gets underway. Maybe it is a cue for change, and time to look at a retirement option that could be practically perfect in every way.

Renting is no longer the preserve of the young, and like millennials, many in later life are turning towards the flexibility and benefits it offers. The appeal may not be immediately obvious to those accustomed to home ownership, but for a variety of people and reasons it can uplift your whole quality of life and be liberating.

Renting in retirement opens up all sorts of possibilities for people who may otherwise have been excluded from retirement living. They may want to pass wealth on to their children or move to a more expensive area to be near them. At Birchgrove, we’re 100% committed to renting in retirement.

Why rent?

Flexibility is one of the reasons residents find renting so attractive. Such is the case with Diane, who told us why she chose to rent rather than buy. “Flexibility. I’ve moved into a two-bedroom apartment at Birchgrove but I can move into a one bedroom if I want to. I’ve also got the flexibility to move out and into a different retirement facility if I don’t like it here. I really don’t know what my needs will be in the future but renting here gives me the flexibility to move quickly into a care home environment or in with my family without the burden of the house to sell.”

Another reason rental is popular with older adults, is many have already built their wealth. They see a lot of money going into the maintenance and repair of their family home and think that money could be put to better purpose. Perhaps into retirement funds that benefit the family or using it to enjoy a better quality of life. So, whilst some argue that paying rent is throwing money down the drain, the truth is this more applies when you are building your wealth. Late renters have a different perspective, they are working out the best way to disperse their accumulated funds and planning and preparing how best to enjoy their future years.

There are of course many advantages to buying off plan. Peter, a retired director, thinks renting his two-bedroom apartment at Woodbank Apartments, Hook Heath is the best decision he’s made. As he explains: “We decided to sell the house and rent somewhere so we could release capital to our children. What persuaded us to rent was we found people had bought flats and then died leaving their families struggling to sell their parents’ flat because people could buy brand new at the site next door. My wife and I fell in love with Woodbank Apartments. We bought early off plan, so we could take our time designing the apartment exactly as we wanted it.”

Birchgrove apartments are not for sale, so you won’t find our retirement advisors pressurising you to buy; they are simply here to help you think about things differently and work out what options are open to you. To find out more visit www.birchgrove.life or call 020 3929 5599.

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Star Q&A: Ray Mears

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Local television star & bushcraft expert Ray Mears, 57, tells us more about his new We Are Nature book & theatre show to help us “tune in and turn on” to nature…

Q. Hello Ray. When did you first fall in love with nature? “When I was about seven or eight and I started to learn about edible plants. In those days, there was no internet, so I went to the library. I came across this plant in the woods called wood sorrel. I took ages to study it in books before I plucked up the courage to try it. It tasted of apple peel… And I’ve never looked back.”

Q: Can you tell us about your theatre show? ”This show is all about thinking and feeling the depth of our ability and turning up the volume of the senses that we normally suppress. Effectively ‘tuning in and turning on’ to nature. I will show how we can reconnect with an evolutionary heritage that stretches right back to the earliest of our ancestors. We will look at the extraordinary work that the National Wildlife Crime Unit do to protect our local wildlife. There is a good chance people coming to this show will find their lives forever changed.”

Q: We love your book We Are Nature. You regard animals as teachers, don’t you? “Yes. I try to learn from the animals I meet. So, the crocodile, for example, is the master of stillness. It stays so still that it weaves a psychological spell over any potential prey. Even if you know it’s there, you forget it’s there, and that’s the danger. We can use exactly that stillness to observe wildlife and to protect ourselves.“

Q: What’s the closest shave you’ve had with wildlife? “I’ve had many but one that comes to mind is when I saved a director from putting his hand on a venomous eyelash pit viper. We were on a reconnaissance trip for a programme I was making with Ewan McGregor and had just been dropped by helicopter in the Honduran rainforest. I was showing him how to put up his hammock for the first time and he was just about to wrap his cord around what looked like a vine…”

Q: What can you tell us about “rewilding”? ”There are some very good books written about rewilding but if we’re going to look after the planet and nurture it, we need to rewild ourselves. That means understanding ourselves and our place in nature and feeling a deeper connection. Many different cultures talk about Mother Earth.  I believe in that philosophy.”

Q: Why do you think we’ve lost touch with nature? “Our dependence on electrical goods and gadgetry has accelerated in our lifetime. We spend more time looking at a screen than we do at the natural world. The willingness to employ old-fashioned field-craft is disappearing. I think it’s something we need to bring back.”

Q: Tell us about your cookbook, Wilderness Chef.“My son said, ‘would you write some of your recipes down?’ It’s become popular. Cooking is important outdoors. If you’ve had a bad day, cooking a good meal outdoors pushes the reset button on morale and helps you feel good again.”

Q: Do you have any animals of your own? “Yes. We have a Labrador, and now we have a Labrador puppy, who is causing mayhem! Pets are wonderful. Dogs are the most amazing companions. In times of difficulty, they are a distraction, and are excellent security. They also remind us daily how intelligent other animals are.”

Ray will star in Guildford, Basingstoke, Oxford, High Wycombe & more. Visit www.raymears.com

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Star Q&A: Gok Wan

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Television star Gok Wan, 47, talks to us ahead of his dazzling star turn as the Man In The Mirror in Snow White at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre from 4th December to 2nd January

Hi Gok! How did you get involved in pantomime? “I’ve dreamt of being on stage forever. I first began to think about panto some years back. I was fascinated… Then one evening, maybe 2012 or 2013, I was with Lionel Blair and the very naughty Louie Spence. They said I really should give it a try. I spoke with my agent and Channel Four got involved. I first met Snow White then. There have been other pantos since then but it’s really great to be back with Snow White.”

Q. What’s your character The Man In The Mirror like to play? “Man In The Mirror sounds like a piece of furniture! I’m not and it isn’t! The script is amazing. I finished re-reading it again this morning – the tradition has again been tweaked for the 2020s and I’m excited. The mirror has messages. The mirror motivates. The mirror is magic.”

Q. And your costume… do you have a professional opinion about it? “Do I have an opinion? Oh yes I do! I like it. I was encouraged from the start to contribute input, although the designer anticipated so much that my suggestions could be called incidental. There’s a vital aspect, though, and one I insist on. An aspect that’s seen and unseen – the fit! My costume has to fit and over the Christmas period that could mean adjustments… It’s gotta be done.”

Q. Do you have any pre-show dressing room rituals? “Haha! Not only in the dressing room! Yes, I’m superstitious and my rituals – as you call them – go on throughout the performance; I don’t leave them to lurk alone in the dressing room. What can I tell you? Ahh, there’s ‘first on stage.’ Of course there is going to be stage crew but I like to be the first cast member on stage before a performance. What else? This year in Snow White I am required to fly and when I’m up high, without fail, I whisper a hello to my Mum. I love the flying bit. Love it, love it!”

Q. What is the secret to a great pantomime? “Three ‘secrets’: the first is definitely the audience; the second is likely to be the audience and the third, in my experience, is probably the audience. I like to open the show, to greet and welcome everyone and I can predict within 20 seconds
just what sort of evening it will be. People
have probably had tensions at work, frustrations with traffic, delays or hold-ups – it’s important to me that everyone feels wanted.”

Q. We’re enjoying your new TV show Bling… “I believe you can get a lot from the series. Jewellery can mean so much more than ‘an accessory’ – so often there is special significance attached to a piece. The series sparkles with stories, memories and emotion, as well as amazing technical skills and explanations. It is fascinating. I learned a lot.”

Q. Do you know this part of the world well? “Not really. My home’s London so I’ll commute. I like town and city life. The hustle, the bustle, the noise, the rush, the dirt, energy, sweat, the crowds. I am a absolutely a city boy! I was brought up and lived over a restaurant so it’s what I’m used to.”

To book, call 0333 009 6690 or visit atgtickets.com

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Make it a Turquoise Friday!

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Treat yourself to a luxurious holiday in the Maldives or Mauritius and enjoy some fabulous Black Friday deals with Turquoise Holidays

Turn Black Friday Turquoise with 50 per cent off selected holidays to the Maldives and Mauritius booked from November 26th to 29th.

Turquoise Holidays is offering guests exclusive deals with fabulous prices on spectacular hotels for 2022.

The idyllic Indian ocean paradise of the Maldives and Mauritius offers holidaymakers glorious tropical sunshine amid breath-taking natural beauty, not to mention endless sunshine.

Choose from Constance Moofushi and Constance Halveli in the Maldives both including flights and seaplane transfers.

Travel in May and seven nights in a beach villa at Constance Moofushi, all-inclusive, will cost £2,649 per person, saving £3,100 per couple.

Holidaymakers can enjoy 50 per cent off water villas for travel from April 1st to December 26th, 2022 and 50 per cent off beach villas between May 1st and October 31st, 2022.

Constance Halveli offers seven nights in a water villa, bed & breakfast, from £2,499 per person for travel in May, saving £2,750 per couple. Water villas enjoy a 50 per cent discount for those holidaying from January 4th to December 26th, 2022 and the same amazing saving on beach villas from May 1st to October 31st.

Mauritius invites you to sample the delights of the Constance Prince Maurice and the Constance Belle Mare Plage at prices reduced by 50 per cent for the accommodation.

Junior suites are available at the Constance Prince Maurice for travel from January 7th to December 22nd from £1,549 per person (based on travel in June). Stay for seven nights on a bed & breakfast basis and enjoy return private transfers and flights included in the price, a saving of £1,500 per couple.

Constance Belle Mare Plage has stunning deals for both couples and families. Couples will love benefiting from 50 per cent off prestige rooms, prestige beachfront rooms, junior suites and beachfront junior suites for travel from January 7th to December 22nd, 2022. Spend seven nights half board in a prestige room with return private transfers and flights from £1,449 in June, saving £1,180 per couple.

Treat the family (two adults & two children under 12) to seven nights in paradise staying in a junior suite for £4,600 when travelling in August, saving £2,400 per family.

These exclusive offers and savings are only applicable to bookings made between Friday, 26th November and Monday, 29th November for the Maldives and Mauritius.

Visit www.turquoiseholidays.co.uk or call 01494 678400 to find out more and to book.

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My Journey as a Belly Dancer

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Elizabeth Gordon’s book details the extraordinary moves that took her from legal secretary to belly dancer

From legal secretary to belly dancer may not sound like an obvious career move but for Elizabeth Gordon it proved to be the perfect one.

Her moves as a belly dancer set her off on a path that would change her life forever and one which she has captured in her book My Journey as a Belly Dancer.

After the breakdown of a relationship in Barrister’s chambers, Elizabeth took herself off to the more exotic climes of Morocco, keen to get away from her broken heart and feeling rather uncertain about her future. Not knowing which direction to take other than to board the plane and bring about a break from her daily routine, she became inspired having watched an Arabic belly dancer perform in a hotel.

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From that moment, Elizabeth says she knew “that I would be in her shoes one day” and on her return home she signed up for classes. Her true story “delves into the glitz and dangers of a world she found herself caught up in, when she began dancing at a Turkish Cypriot restaurant in London”.

Elizabeth features in the book as Shariffa, highlighting her experiences as a dancer in Northern Cyprus in the late 1980s for a couple of months. Here she met Mr Bedis at his taverna and danced for soldiers in the barracks.

Fascinating and insightful, she hopes it will be “an inspiring tale of how anyone can find something new within themselves when they believe all is lost”.

Her book is available to buy on Amazon.

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