Love brilliant deals and scrumptious pizza? Visit one of Oakman Inns’ pubs to nab yourself some as part of their two-for-one deals with summer!
Priding themselves on the quality of their pizzas, Oakman Inns invite you to taste the quality through their two-for-one deals. Offered in multiple places, including Berkshire, Surrey, Oxfordshire, and Buckinghamshire, it provides a perfect opportunity for a meal out.
CEO of Oakman Inns, Peter Borg-Neal, commented that ‘eating together is so important’ and, by putting out this offer, friends and families can grow closer through eating together. It also can act as ‘the end of a family day out, the beginning of an evening’s fun or standalone treat’. This offer can pose as a celebration or outing for a range of different things across the summer.
The deal means a group of four could eat our for less than £50, affording four pizzas, two soft drinks and two Peronis.
The restaurants also have lovely locations with their own delightful gardens with weatherproof awnings. The Royal Foresters is especially beautiful, having its own boutique rooms, whilst also being close to major sites of interest such as Windsor Great Park and Ascot Racecourse.
Oakman’s handcrafted, wood-fired pizzas are made to an original Neapolitan recipe, using traditional Italian techniques and ingredients selected for their taste and authenticity. The dough is proved for 48 hours and cooked on the premises by their expert pizzaiolos.
If you love a traditional Italian pizza, these pubs are the best place for you, as they serve handcrafted, wood-fired pizzas made to an original Neapolitan recipe, using traditional Italian techniques. Each ingredient is selected is selected for its taste and authenticity.
Places to enjoy this deal:
Berkshire: Royal Foresters, Ascot The Rose Inn, Wokingham
Have fun taking part in Create and Grow activities with your young ones at Squire’s Garden Centres this summer!
Looking for something fun to do with your children this summer? Squire’s Garden Centres has just the thing for you!
Running from Monday, 24th July to Friday, 25th August, Squire’s Garden Centres welcome you to participate in their fun Create and Grow activities. Whether you choose to ‘decorate a pair of pebble animals’ every Monday between 9.30am and 12.30pm, or simply have fun doing their worksheets, Squire’s Garden Centres have a variety of exciting things to do.
Chairman Sarah Squire says they are ‘delighted to welcome young visitors back’ and that their activities will take ‘just the right amount of time to keep little ones busy’. All centres, excluding Chertsey and Reigate, are participating in this wonderful event, so there is plenty of opportunity for you to take part.
If decorating a pebble takes your fancy, get along and book your place either in store or online. Your child can create a cool create for only £3, and with this comes a range of fun after, as they will now have a brand-new toy to play with.
With the painting itself taking around 20 minutes, Squire’s also offer a free, wildlife themed activity sheet every day. Once your child finishes crafting their pebble pet, they will be able to take part in a range of games and challenges. From the ‘Pond Word Search’ to the ‘Butterfly Maze’, your child will never find themselves short of fun things to do. Once completing the challenge, they will be rewarded with a sticker, and what child wants to miss out on that prizw?
If you begin to grow hungry after your hard work as an artist, feel free to grab a light bite to eat at the Centre’s Café Bar. The ‘Little Gardeners menu’ contains a range of delicious meals for your child to munch on.
Overall, it sounds like a great morning out with your kids and prevents the cries of boredom at home.
I have decided that watering is a very specialised subject and I feel I could run a 10-week course on the subject!
The challenges for getting water to the roots of plants this year and last is off the scale. I remember saying how important it was to harvest the rainwater as it is so precious and would love to know how many of you did that?
Anyone who knows me knows that I champion soil improvement and liken it to the gut biome! My go to compost to improve fertility and water retention is wool and bracken compost. I have covered my garden in it this year and those of many clients. We are reaping the benefits.
Harvesting the rain
We complain about it in the winter but in the last two summers have prayed it will fall out of the sky! I have been like a mad woman filling up water bottles by the thousand and installing water butts everywhere as well as leaving out trugs and trays to put in thirsty plants. I am now watering my plants with harvested rainwater as another hosepipe ban looms!
Watering the garden
New planting will need watering. If you have improved the soil or mulched this will be possible. If it’s just dusty dry soil it will just run off. Mulch now to absorb the water you put on. Spray to wet the mulch and then allow as much water into the soil as you can. If you are not sure just scrape the surface or dig down with a trowel to see if it’s wet. Use spiked bottles or tubes to get the water to the roots, do not just spray the plants.
Watering the lawn
Do not waste water doing this! A sign of a good gardener is a ‘dead’ lawn in the summer. It will revitalise as soon as the rain comes, it’s not dead it’s summer dormant.
Someone once said to me ‘It doesn’t rain in pots’ so make sure you still water. If it’s hot and sunny you will need to water more than when it is cool and cloudy. Do the plants need it? Are they wilting because they are dry, waterlogged or damaged by pests? Is the pot heavy or light? Is it normal multi purpose compost or wool compost? Is it a desert plant or a tropical rainforest plant?
If in doubt stick your finger into the soil!
Please ask for details as I am now meeting potential students for Autumn and Spring Courses as well as bespoke workshops. I can also come and teach you in your own garden and am happy to chat over a coffee at Ashdene. Consultancy gift vouchers available too.
At last the weather is being kinder and we feel like getting out into our gardens. The CGS pruning courses are in full swing and many students are volunteering their gardens for a summer prune!
Some roses flower once, spectacularly, in early summer. American Pillar, Rambling Rector, Wedding Day, Banksia and many others are a delight when scrambling through trees, over pergolas and even over arches and along ropes. Unlike other roses these are pruned after flowering to remove flowered branches and tie in new ones. They really are not for the faint hearted and many mistakes have been made. They are happiest rambling through a large tree or hedgerow where they can be left without pruning like our native dogrose.
Trained apples and pears are summer pruned by reducing the long growths to a couple of buds encouraging fruit spurs. This helps keep them tidy and reduces growth as well as allowing light and air into developing fruit. Best done in August/September otherwise you may be doing it twice! Plums, Cherries, Almonds, Apricots and all stone fruit should always be pruned in summer and never in winter due to disease risk. It’s easy to remember just prune when picking!
Spring flowering shrubs
These include Weigela, Forsythia, Chaenomeles, Philadelphus, Deutzia, Syringa and Kolwitzia. I see many of these trimmed with hedgecutters and clients wonder why they have never flowered. This is because they flower on two year old wood so if trimmed every year you are cutting off next year’s flowers. I prune ornamental quince (Chaenomeles) constantly in Summer so you can see the flowers and developing edible fruit. It fruit on older wood and you can clearly see where it flowers if you look carefully. If any of these shrubs have become overgrown and need cutting right back you can start the pruning regime again after the second year.
This needs it’s own heading!
Anyone who owns one will know how mad it can grow in the summer. Cut off the long whippy shoots to a shorter one ready for the February prune. Don’t start too early after flowering or you will be repeating it several times! Leave until September if you can but sometimes it does need an untangle from tiles, drainpipes, sky dishes as well as preventing it actually growing into windows!
Hedges, topiary and large evergreen shrubs can be pruned all Summer to encourage new growth and regeneration. Laurel hedges should be done with secateurs to avoid leaf shredding. New hedges should be left until they reach the desired height before pruning the tops but do a formative prune to encourage side shoots.
Please ask for details as I am running pruning courses throughout spring and autumn. Each plant has a different requirement and learning about pruning techniques is addictive! I can also come and teach you in your own garden.
Summer holidays and longer warmer days are just begging to be filled with fun and with so many attractions and events to enjoy, you’re spoilt for choice
Bracing yourself for cries of “I’m bored, what can I do?” Don’t fret, there are so many activities and events on offer to entertain the little ones and not so little ones this summer, they’ll soon be wanting time to just do nothing!
Hatchlands Park is bringing everything but the sea to Surrey this summer. Children will love dressing up and captaining the straw bale boat in the Walled Garden complete with ship’s wheel and bell! There’ll also be games and sports on the lawn and early years play by the new donkeys’ stables. Inside the house, discover extracts from the letters between Admiral Boscawen and his wife, Frances and explore the fascinating stories of some of the sailors who sailed with the Admiral. Plus outdoor theatre in the evening! www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/surrey/hatchlands-park
Journey back through British motorsport and take a trip in a vintage-style car up the infamous Test Hill or along the Members’ Banking of the old race track at Brooklands Museum near Weybridge.
There are animals to view and pet at Godstone Farm, hop on-board the popular tractor ride, explore the indoor and outdoor play areas or simply enjoy the cute farm animals. Want more animals? Merrist Wood near Guildford has recently been granted a zoo license, so this summer you can get up close to an amazing array of animals.
Here’s a different but charming way to spend a day during the hols. Meet The Llamas at Merry Harriers where every Saturday you can dine and meet the furry creatures. The trekker will take you to the field where you can feed them, stroke and learn a little about the lovely herd of 12 llamas. Book at [email protected]
For a more relaxed day out explore the woods at National Trust property Hughenden during the school holidays with geocaching. Compete against each other in garden games or croquet on the lawn. Dress up in costumes for the performance stage area and get creating in crafting workshops. Booking not necessary for the Summer of Play which runs from July 22nd to September 4th.
Buckinghamshire’s much-loved family arts and literature festival, WhizzFizzFest, is back for 2023 and this year it’s going on tour over three weekends in July sharing the creative activities and memorable experiences all on the theme of friendship. Sunday 2nd, WhizzFizzFest @Aylesbury on Sea with Aylesbury Town Council lands in Vale Park bringing a vibrant celebration of children’s creativity alongside plenty of beach-based fun at Aylesbury on Sea. Saturday 8th WhizzFizzFest @Desborough Carnival with High Wycombe BIDCo for a celebration of music and culture, free creative workshops, circus performances, street entertainment and more. WhizzFizzFest at Hats Off Chesham with Chesham Connect celebrates Chesham’s High Street, with added creative fun for all the family. Music, magic shows, crafting, climbing walls, giant bubbles and more on Saturday 15th – just don’t forget your hat!
Zip wires, Tarzan swings, rope ladders and a variety of obstacles and crossings are the challenges in store at Go Ape Wendover Woods. High up in the Chilterns, the leafy hideout is a hidden gem in the county and includes an ‘extreme’ site where you can take on the thrills and spills of the Chilterns Crossing and the Monkey Shuffle among other feats. Tree Top Adventure gives younger adventurers a chance to battle through obstacles and fly down zipwires with over 30 different crossings and two 80m zipwires for your little monkeys to try out.
Experience the thrill of being a medieval falconer and get up close and personal with magnificent birds of prey. Witness these graceful creatures soaring through the air, diving for their prey, and showing off their incredible hunting skills in Oxford Castle & Prison’s Castleyard on July 22nd. Join Knight School this summer there too. Don your armour, sharpen your sword and prepare to set out on a quest. Join in the Castleyard for medieval weapons training, jousting and archery – all under the supervision of the Castle’s knights. Once you’ve been trained, you will be knighted and presented with your own sword to take home. Select dates between July 24th and August 14th.
Abingdon’s Abbey Meadows is the scene for The Puppet Theatre Barge, one of the UK’s most unique venues, a 50-seat puppet theatre inside a converted Thames barge. The theatre will visit Abbey Meadows this summer with their new show The Selfish Giant, a puppetry production for all the family from July 22nd to August 13th.
Cogges Manor Farm‘s legendary Beer and Cider Festival is back with a bang on August 5th. Join them for a celebration in the Barns, for the 10th annual festival. Try over 40 different craft beers and 15 ciders, with live music to get the crowd dancing if the beer doesn’t help to loosen your inhibitions. The historic farm is also the location to enjoy summer theatre in the barn with Wind in the Willows on July 9th while Illyria bring Pride and Prejudice to the lawn on July 11th and Robin Hood on August 23rd.
Keep younger members of the family amused with Oxford Playhouse shows during the holidays including Zog, July 18th to 23rd, with his adventures through dragon school; go on an interactive adventure around the brain with Mind the Monsters at BT Studio, July 19th to 30th for 5-11 year olds. Blippi: The Wonderful World Tour is the ultimate curiosity adventure with monster trucks, excavators, and garbage trucks galore. Shake your wiggles out and OJ Twist your way through this brand-new musical party from August 15th to 26th for 2-7 years.
West Berks & Wiltshire
Wildfest 2023 on July 15th is BBOWT’s summer celebration at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham. Guided walks, talks, music and family activities will fill the day, with local food and drink to enjoy. The newly-refurbished visitor centre offers a fun day out while the lakeside location is a haven for wildlife, woodland and trails to explore. bbowt.org.uk
The beautiful surroundings of Shaw House are the setting for a Summer Fair on July 16th where you can browse over 45 craft stalls from local makers with hot food and drinks from local caterers. Live music, craft activities with Ugly Duckling Pottery, performances from Mr Muddle the Magician and children’s rides will add to the fun and don’t forget your four-legged friend to enter into the dog show.
A monster truck display and rides, a motorcross display team, skydiving and aerobatic flying displays, hot air balloons, arena displays, live music and fireworks are all part of the attraction at Newbury Summer Fest on July 22nd, new for 2023. This big family day out is the way to start your summer holiday.
Top Gun: Maverick screams across the open air big screen at Cobbs Farm, Hungerford on July 22nd and there’s Shakespeare in the Garden the same night at The Hinds Head, Aldermaston when four actors will play numerous parts in Open Bar’s production of Twelfth Night.
All summer long you’re invited to come and play at Basildon Park. From July 1st to August 31st, take part in a variety of outdoor play activities. Test your skills on the wild play trail, where you can balance on logs, create your own ball run, and explore the great outdoors. Or try your hand at some lawn games, perfect for a family friendly competition. For the more active family members, there are a range of outdoor games to keep you moving. Don’t forget to take a picnic and enjoy a break in the beautiful grounds. Go along and join an adventure-filled summer at Basildon Park.
Building Royal Connections: Three women of Greys Court is a new exhibition running at the charming Henley property from July 20th until the end of October. Learn about the exceptional lives of three women, and how their influence contributed to the shifting landscape of Greys Court. Enter the worlds of Lettice Pennyston (c.1485-1558), Katherine Carey (1523-69) and Lettice Knollys (1543-1634).
Silent Summer Screenings are your go-to outdoor cinema for an unforgettable movie experience this summer. Whether you’re looking for a romantic night out, a family-friendly activity, or just fun with friends there are a variety of movies to choose from including at Henley’s Mill Meadows where you can enjoy Notting Hill on July 13th and Cool Runnings on July 14th.
Here’s a great way to get the summer off to a spectacular start. The Vyne Music Festival runs at the popular National Trust site from July 7th to 9th with three nights of music featuring Feel Good Friday when The FB Pocket Orchestra come complete with all of their electronic gadgets and the Still Moving DJ’s with their upbeat vibes, live percussion, ships’ lanterns, original vinyl records, gramophones, tankards and…dinosaurs! Absolutely Elton John takes to the stage on Saturday with a Gin & Jazz Party rounding off the weekend when you can grab your pearls and party like it’s 1929! Booking essential, https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/hampshire/the-vyne/events
This summer, join young Mary Lennox on a journey of discovery as she is sent to her uncle’s house in the countryside, where mysteries and secrets lurk around every corner in The Secret Garden… As she makes new friends and encounters magical creatures, Mary has one burning question: where is the location of her uncle’s secret garden, and where has he hidden the key? This enchanting story, loved by children and adults alike, is presented in the historic surroundings of Winchester Cathedral’s Lower Deanery Garden. Relive this tale of secrecy and curiosity in what will be one of the highlights of the summer on July 29th. Book at winchester-cathedral.org.uk/event/the-secret-garden-by-chapterhouse-theatre-company/
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Bracknell’s fabulous shopping centre is celebrating and you’re invited to join them
Celebrate The Lexicon’s fifth birthday with forest giants, seedling sprites, night forest theatre and a special birthday proms taking place in the town centre from August 24th to September 4th.
The Bracknell Giants, so popular last year, will return with two new friends. Bracknell Forest Guardian Elderma and the adventurous Will Wildwood, boasting an integral slide.
Also new for this year is The Night Forest theatre show, where younger visitors and their families will meet five fabulous forest creatures. Using holographic technology, these characters will appear to come to life as part of this interactive show. Places to attend The Night Forest Show can be pre-booked, with all proceeds going to The Lexicon Charity Fund.
Younger visitors and their families will meet five fabulous forest creatures
There’s also a Seedling Sprite Trail to follow, pick up a trail sheet and unlock the secrets for the chance to win some wonderful prizes, a host of fun entertainers, giveaways, a special birthday Proms taking place on Saturday, 3rd September and much much more.
The birthday proms will feature performers giving away birthday badges, tote bags and cupcakes.
From Monday, 5th September The Lexicon will be giving away five fabulous prizes donated by Beaverbrooks, Pandora, Marks & Spencer, Wagamma and Primark so keep your eyes on their Facebook page!
They will also reveal which local community groups have been awarded £5,000 each from The Lexicon Charity Fund.
Bracknell Forest Council and The Lexicon have teamed up to create the Bracknell Forest Festival so make sure that you put a note in your diary now.
The Royal Life Saving Society has invaluable advice to help you enjoy the water safely this summer
With temperatures set to soar again this week there’s always the temptation to jump in the water and cool down but make sure you do so safely, especially if you’re taking the plunge at an open water site.
Sadly, a very high proportion of accidental drownings take place at lakes, rivers, canals, reservoirs and quarries where the lure of cool water on a hot day can be too much to resist.
The Royal Life Saving Society say: “The benefits of swimming and dipping in open water are well documented. Not only does being in or on open water allow new adventure it also has documented benefits for both physical and mental wellbeing. All of these hazards can be controlled through proper organisation and planning.”
Risks to consider in open water include: the shock of cold water which can make swimming difficult and increase the difficulty of getting you if you should get into trouble; lack of safety equipment; the hight of the fall or jump; depth of the water – this can change and be unpredictable; underwater objects which may not be visible; obstacles or other people in the water; uneven beds or banks; strong currents that can sweep you away rapidly; water pollution.
Sadly, a very high proportion of accidental drownings take place at lakes, rivers, canals, reservoirs and quarries where the lure of cool water on a hot day can be too much to resist.
Drowning is preventable, yet over 400 lives are lost to drowning across the UK and Ireland, every year. If you see someone in trouble, the RLSS advises:
Step 1. Keep alert
Don’t expect a casualty to be shouting for help. They may be struggling to breathe, and drowning looks very different to how it is portrayed in the movies.
If you’re not sure, shout: ‘Do you need help?’ If they say yes or don’t answer at all, it’s time to act.
Step 2. Resist temptation
Don’t be tempted to go in. The water might be cold, which will limit your ability to swim. And whatever has caused the casualty to need help is likely to happen to you too. Stay well back from the edge.
Step 3. Call 999 or 112
Call the emergency services before you do anything else, so help will be on its way.
Or ask someone else to call while you try to help the casualty. If you’re alone without a phone, find someone who can call for help.
Step 4. Shout and signal
From the shore you have a better view of the area than the casualty. Shout and encourage them to reach a life ring in the water, a jetty, or a shallower area of water. Remind them to kick their legs.
5. Find a rescue aid
If there is a life ring, throw bag (filled with rope), or other public rescue aid equipment nearby, quickly read any instructions then throw it to the casualty.
If there is no public rescue aid equipment, throw anything that will float.
Step 6. Safe rescue
Before you pull the casualty in, get down on one knee or lie down so you don’t fall in.
Remember, even if your rescue attempts fail, emergency services are on their way. Keep sight of the casualty to help the emergency services locate them quicker.
Find out more
Visit the Royal Life Saving Society (rlss.org.uk) for more tips and invaluable advice.
Lesley Joseph chats to us about meeting the Pope, Birds Of A Feather, her pal Maureen Lipman and the joy of starring in Sister Act at the Apollo until 28th August
Q. Hello Lesley. Is this show as much fun as it looks? “Oh my God yes! It’s such a feelgood show. The audience have been on their feet going beserk; it’s hard not to get emotional. Everyone on stage is so glad to be there, after the two years we’ve had, and who doesn’t enjoy singing, rapping nuns!? Alan Menken, who has written the songs, is a genius and Sister Act is a story everyone knows, thanks to the film.”
Q. You have so much energy: what’s your secret? “Well my mother died just shy of 104 – she still did yoga and tennis in her nineties – so I hope I’ve got her genes. I walk everywhere. I keep my brain active. And I love what I do – it’s a privilege to be in a show like this.”
Q. Did you expect Birds Of A Feather to be such a hit? “No I didn’t have a clue. It’s a great show and was one of the first, along with The Liver Birds, to celebrate women of a certain age. My father, when we filmed the first one in front of a live audience, asked the writers, ‘do you think this will go anywhere?’, and they said ‘we’ll still be here in ten years’. Well, we kept going 33 years, with a break in the middle, and it’s still well loved, because it was so well written.”
Q. Do people expect you to be Dorien? “In the early days they expected me Dorien-esque, all in leopard print. But we’re so different. I was always very careful to make sure Dorien wasn’t a silly caricature. And I’m nothing like her – if you could see me now in my training clothes, no make-up, hair awry, you’d believe me!”
Q. What was it like meeting the Pope? “Yes, for Pilgrimage [on the BBC] we walked from the Swiss Alps to Rome, and had an audience with the Pope, unexpectedly. I said ‘I’m Lesley Joseph, I’m 72, I’m an actress, and I’ve just walked 100 miles and feel rejuvenated’. He burst out laughing and said ‘you don’t look 72’. We hugged and I came out with ‘oh bless you!’ Haha! One of the highlights of my career.”
Q. Do you enjoy watching your pal Maureen Lipman in Coronation Street? “She’s brilliant in everything she does but no, I don’t watch much television. I am staying with her at the moment, up here in Manchester. We go back 50 years, were at drama school together. So we’re these two ancient flatmates together again!”
Q. Do you have a favourite author? “I love Hilary Mantel; I can read her books again and again. I love reading about Thomas Cromwell.”
Q. If you could make one wish for the world, what would it be? “Peace. I just wish people could live in harmony, believe in what they want, without greed, envy or corruption.”
Book your tickets for Sister Act, which also stars Beverley Knight & Jennifer Saunders, at London’s Eventim Apollo at eventimapollo.com
Kim Wilde chats to Liz Nicholls about performing at Heritage Live, alongside Boy George, Lulu, Gabrielle & more, including Ardingly on Saturday, 16th July and Englefield House on Saturday, 23rd July.
Q. Hello Kim – where are you chatting from right now? “From home. I’ve got a beautiful garden – it should be after the inordinate time I’ve spent on it! Everything that could be out is out looking amazing. Because of my experience and because of my love of flowers I’ve got lots more flowers to look forward to later in the summer. I don’t have a favourite flower but I have a real soft spot for roses – we called our daughter Rose.”
Q. We’re looking forward to seeing you at Heritage Live. How does it feel to be out on tour again? “Great! I think top of the list of things people really missed over the pandemic was live music; getting together with a crowd of like-minded souls and singing their heart out. Music has a great way of bringing people together in a beautiful way. It does a much better job than most other things in achieving that. I’ve already been doing quite a few gigs and the atmosphere has been noticeably ecstatic. Not just because they’re coming to see me – haha – but we’re all so excited to be back together. These are great days to be a live musician.”
Q. Your dad Marty is on tour right now – do you still enjoy going on stage with him? “Yes! I’ve been hitching a lift in the back of his car, jumping on stage for a few numbers, I just love it! I’ll continue to do that if I’m not working. It’s fantastic being on stage with my dad – his voice is still amazing and his ability to perform is astonishing for his years . I think keeping going, doing what you love keeps you young. He’s no gym bunny, my dad, but he does a lot of golf, a lot of walking, always has done. He doesn’t smoke any more, and he drinks very moderately. I think it’s in the genes.”
Q. Yes – your whole family, including your children, all have musical genes? “It has definitely descended through the generations. Not just in my family but my brother’s family and sister’s family, so it seems to be in the blood.”
Q. Do you have a rider? “I do but I’m very easy to look after before a gig. I don’t really eat much – maybe a few sweeties but I don’t ask anyone to take out different colours for me and I don’t drink alcohol.”
Q. Is it nice to hang out with your old mate Boy George, who is also starring? “It’s great. We’ve done a lot of things together over the years – all kinds of TV and concerts and benefits – we have a real shared history. We recorded a song together which went on my greatest hits album called Shine On. So yeah I can’t wait to see him again. He’s a wonderful person to be around.”
Q. What is it about 1980s music that is so popular – even with younger people now? “It’s very eclectic, you know? Everything was in the 1980s – it wasn’t just sharp haircuts, shoulder pads and synthesisers – there was a lot of prog rock, rock soul, disco, R&B. All kinds of different grooves all happening in parallel. There was something for everybody and it all came under that beautiful umbrella that we call pop.”
Q. What new artists do you like? “I’m listening a lot to Lizzo, really enjoying what she does and how she’s doing it. Thomas Paul, too; I did a bit of work with him over lockdown on his first album Black Country Disco which is awesome! I went to his album launch for Life In Plastic the other night at the Vauxhall Tavern which was fantastic.”
Q. What’s your first memory of music? “I was born in 1960 and the first memories I can trace back are ’67 & ’68 when I was seven and eight. The Beatles – listening to Penny Lane in the back of the car, while my dad was driving us up to Liverpool to see my nan. I remember Cilla Black Anyone Who Had A Heart and Richard Harris MacArthur Park and Gene Pitney 24 Hours from Tulsa. All these beautiful epic songs.”
Q. Thanks Kim we can’t wait to see you. “Thank you! And may I just say that anyone who misses these shows can come to my Pop Won’t Stop Greatest Hits Tour in September when I’ll be up and down the country. There’s a lot of sadness and there are terrible things in the world right now, but there’s a lot of beauty too, so don’t think it’s wrong to focus on that.”
Blenheim beauty is the backdrop for Nocturne Live stars. Singer/songwriter Mick Hucknall chats about being back on the road performing as Simply Red get set to star at Nocturne Live at Blenheim Palace on 15th June
“What I’m most looking forward to about going back on tour is the audience because I think all of us have been through so much,” says Mick. “Some of us have lost family and friends, which is clearly a very emotional thing, and I just want to be a reassuring figure to the audience that we’re here, you know, entertaining them with the music they clearly love because they’re at the shows.
“The other part of it is that there’s great camaraderie between the band and I’ve missed them and very much look forward to being on a stage. And I know that we’re all gonna be really proud and thrilled to be performing to the audience.”
Q. Is there anything you don’t like about being on tour? “Well, you know, maybe three years ago I would have said yes, but I’m now saying there’s nothing, because I’m actually quite thankful to just even be on tour.”
Q. Without being able to perform over lockdowns, what has helped you cope? “Well, during the pandemic I’ve been lucky enough to have a family and we’ve been in it together, and we’ve had to deal with it like every other family has. I feel particularly for those people that don’t have a family, who have been on their own throughout this time. And again, that’s one of the beautiful things about being on the road is that you can actually be part of their family by having them come to the show and share the experience. The other thing I’ve been doing in the pandemic is writing songs, so that’s been a very positive experience and I’m hoping to share some of that music with you when the time is right, in the autumn I would think.”
Q. What can the fans expect from the tour? “Well, I want to effectively give the fans what they want. We’re gonna perform our ‘best of’, we’re gonna perform the biggest songs of our career and some familiar album tracks from over the years, but it’s just gonna be a real review of the story of Simply Red from 1985 to now, and we hope to give you the big hits.”
Q. Do you have a favourite song to perform and why? “I guess I have to say the favourite song to perform will always be Holding Back The Years. It’s just such a key song on so many levels. But then again there are others. Stars is always a favourite to perform. But always I think, for everybody, Holding Back The Years, it’s the first major song I ever wrote, and it’s something that will always be played.”
Simply Red join headliners Lionel Richie, Simple Minds, UB40 featuring Ali and Astro, and David Gray (celebrating the 20th anniversary of his seminal album White Ladder) on the line-up for the popular concert series, which will run across five nights from Wednesday June 15th to Sunday June 19th 2022.
Support acts for next summer’s event include the likes of Macy Gray, Deacon Blue, Brand New Heavies, Nerina Pallot, Jimmy Cliff, Aswad and James Morrison (full details below). Tickets, along with a limited number of VIP packages – which provide an exclusive opportunity to dine in the State Rooms of Blenheim Palace – are available from www.nocturnelive.com.