Welcome to this, our last newsletter of 2020… – FU Loves The Midlands #38

Welcome to this, our last newsletter of 2020. A year ago, having just moved to a new home and following an exceptionally busy year, all I wanted to do was skip the usual family Christmas and have time alone, just us two and the fur babies in front of the fire in our new home. “Next year”, we said. Be careful what you wish for, eh?

So, a year on and here we all find ourselves working out how and who we can see whilst being mindful of the mental and physical health of all. By the time you read this it’s probably all changed again anyway… It’s emotionally exhausting and not helped by the constant backtracks and changing of rules and guidelines. All I ask for is clarity and time to prepare for it – I am more than a little OCD and must have a plan, although it seems even I couldn’t plan for this!

Anyhow, instead of circling a copy of the Radio Times for what to watch this year we will be scheduling Zoom quizzes, organising watch parties, streaming shows and walking the dogs off their feet to keep ourselves entertained. We always try to focus on the positive and one good thing about a virtual family Christmas is the aftereffects of brussels sprouts cannot be experienced over a webcam – the dogs’ angelic reputations this year will remain intact.

Enjoy the break, however long, and remember to make time for yourself and what you need. Take time to breathe, take stock, and get ready for a fresh year that will undoubtedly be full of challenges but also possibilities, friendships, laughter, love, chocolate and the return of hugs. Big style.

Let’s raise a glass to that

Merry Christmas

Jon, Kevin, Rebecca, Francesca, Scarlett and Carey; your #FUFighters


OBLIGATORY BAD JOKE

Why is it best to think of 2020 like a panto?

Because eventually, it’s behind you.


LEICESTER CREATIVES RELEASE CHARITY CHRISTMAS SINGLE: THERE WILL BE ANOTHER RAINBOW

A new Christmas charity single has been produced to raise funds for the NHS. The song called ‘There will be another Rainbow’ is based around the children’s book ‘The Fearless Fox & Daring Deer’ which was written by Leicester author Joe Nixon back in March. Listen to it above and find out how it was made and how you can help support it here.


WIN LUXURY CRAFT ALES AND FOOD HAMPER WORTH £150

BRC Collective was launched in Warwickshire in the summer by Paul Rowe and Lucy Scrivens and is built on the couple’s passion for wines and ales – boasting a selection from local breweries through to hard-to-find favourites from vineyards across Europe.

They’re offering one lucky winner the chance win a hamper containing five of BRC Collective’s award-winning Warwickshire-brewed craft beers worth £150.  To find out how to enter and more about them click here.



HIGHCROSS FORECASTS A WHITE CHRISTMAS

‘Tis the season of comfort and joy this December in Leicester as customers dreaming of a white Christmas can experience fresh snowfall every day, without the cold noses and soggy toes, at Highcross- find out how here.


CAMPAIGN LAUNCHES TO SECURE HOPE FOR THE REGION’S HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY

The Midlands’ hospitality industry has launched a campaign calling on the Government to deliver urgent support to venues affected by the latest tier three restrictions. ‘Hope for Hospitality’ sees local business owners come together with Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, and Downtown in Business Birmingham, to secure the sector’s survival- watch the campaign above and find out more about who’s involved here.


FIRST COVENTRY 2021 MERCH GOES ON SALE IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS

Coventry City of Culture Trust has opened a ‘pop up’ shop at Coventry Transport Museum and includes everything from t-shirts and aprons through to mugs and coasters, which carry the Coventry 2021 branding that was first revealed earlier this year. There are also postcards available as well as a range of limited-edition Christmas cards- find out how the range was designed here.


APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN FOR LIFE-CHANGING SCHOLARSHIP

Students across the West Midlands once more have a life-changing opportunity to apply for a fully paid-for degree in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths), with the launch of the Millennium Point Charitable Trust Scholarship 2021- find out who is eligible to apply here.


IS COVID-19 MAKING YOUR HAIR FALL OUT? YOU’RE NOT ALONE

The stress of the pandemic is definitely affecting hair loss and with latest studies showing that male-pattern baldness is exacerbated by the stress of lockdown restrictions throughout the pandemic, we spoke to Sam Cinkir  of Birmingham’s Este Medical Groupe for some top tips on how to improve the quality and quantity of your hair.
Read them here.


NEW YEARS RESOLUTION #1: GET A DIVORCE

Is it true that you see a spike of enquiries about a divorce in January?  Why do you think January is so significant? We talk to the divorce team at Dodd’s Solicitors to find out what makes the festive period the time that many couples choose to make a change. Read it here. 


AGE UK LAUNCH NOT FORGOTTEN THIS WINTER CAMPAIGN

Age UK Leicestershire & Rutland is determined that our older people will not be forgotten this winter and have launched a campaign to remind the people of Leicestershire and Rutland that older people still need our practical support and befriending without which this festive season could be the loneliest that they have ever experienced. Find out how you can help here.


LEICESTER’S MAHALIA WINS BIG AT MOBO AWARDS

A firm favourite in the FU offices, Leicester’s Mahalia Burkmar has won two awards, taking home Best R&B/Soul and Best Female at the 2020 MOBOs following her acclaimed 2019 album Love and Compromise and her 2020 EP Isolation Tapes, recorded in part during the first coronavirus lockdown.

Following her win, she said: ” As a young black female artist, it really is special to be here and to be recognised in this way.”


WARNING AS PANDEMIC PUSHES UP PRICE OF GOLD

Midlands homeowners who own expensive jewellery  are being warned that they risk losing thousands of pounds if they fall victim to burglars  as the pandemic pushes up the price of gold – find out what you can do to prevent that happening to you here.



BELGRADE THEATRE LAUNCHES SEASON OF MUSICALS, DRAMA AND FUN

The Belgrade Theatre is getting set to bid 2020 goodbye with an exciting programme for spring 2021, leading into the start of Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture and will include an eclectic mix of musicals, drama, family shows and live music, with highlights including West End hits SIX and Groan Ups– get all the details here.


CHRISTMAS MAGIC FROM CURVE WITH STREAMING OF SUNSET BOULEVARD IN CONCERT

I think this will be my first Christmas ever that doesn’t include a trip to the theatre. But the team at Leicester’s wonderful Curve theatre aren’t going to let Christmas 2020 pass by without putting on a show and, in a Curve first, will be streaming a HD concert performance of their amazing production of Sunset Boulevard for you to enjoy from the comfort of your own home between Tues 22 Dec – Sat 9 Jan.

Starring the amazing Ria Jones and Danny Mac, tickets are priced at just £20 making it the best value theatre ticket in town! So switch off the soaps, bring out the sweets sit back and enjoy – I know we will be! Book your tickets here. 

PS. We interviewed the wonderful Ria Jones ahead of Sunset Boulevard’s UK Tour – read what she had to say here.


WEST MIDLANDS CRAFT RUM IS SPICING UP THE SEASON

Drink local this winter with the Birmingham based craft flavoured rum Burning Barn, perfect for spirited Christmas gifting and seasonal sipping. Find out what goes into making this delicious range of drinks when it arrives on the family farm in Eastcote here.


CRUELTY-FREE BRAND CHANTECAILLE LAUNCHES EXCLUSIVELY AT HARVEY NICHOLS

Clean and cruelty-free skincare and cosmetics brand Chantecaille is available exclusively at the luxury store in Birmingham and features products that are free of mineral oil, petrolatum, palm oil, synthetic colour, synthetic fragrance, and GMOS, and are 71-100% natural. Chantecaille products have never been tested on animals- find out more about them here.


ZEUS BRINGS CHRISTMAS EARLY TO LOCAL CHARITIES

Award-winning local manufacturer, The Zeus Group, is spreading cheer this year by awarding two Birmingham charities with generous donations, just in time for Christmas. Pledging 100% of December’s profits raised by sales of its Cerberus range to Birmingham Dogs Home and 1,000 bottles of hand sanitiser to homeless charity, St. Basils, The Zeus Group is hoping to make a tough year a little brighter for the two causes- find out what’s involved here.


ESCAPE HUNT’S HOSTED CHARITY GAME NIGHT – HELPING END LONELINESS THIS CHRISTMAS

No one should have to spend Christmas alone this year, which is why Escape Hunt is launching Escape Hunt’s Ultimate Game Night: Christmas Eve Edition, a virtual gaming event which will see teams come together to raise money for national charity, The Campaign To End Loneliness. Get involved, have fun and make a difference here.


RUTLAND PUB NAMED UK PUB OF THE YEAR

The Good Pub Guide 2021 has named The Olive Branch of Clipsham, Rutland, as overall UK Pub of the Year. The Olive Branch is a small village pub in England’s smallest county. Three friends bought it in 1999 and, with the help of family and villagers, rescued what was then a closed pub from an uncertain fate. Since then, The Olive Branch has achieved many accolades, including the same Pub of the Year title in 2014.

The Good Pub Guide says: “In this most difficult of years, we are delighted to award Pub of the Year 2021 to The Olive Branch in Clipsham, Rutland. To compete in the Pub of the Year category a pub has to have unanimous enthusiasm from all readers on all aspects of its business – it has to be top of its game and The Olive Branch is most definitely that.”


CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS: WHERE DO THEY ORIGINATE?

To celebrate a Christmas that means more, Denby have gathered Christmas traditions from every decade over the last century to show how we eat, drink and be merry has changed. And some of them may surprise you… read them here.


LEICESTER GIFTBOX SERVICE LAUNCHES

Still not sorted out your Christmas shopping?  LE BOX pulls together products from Leicestershire and Rutland businesses into one fabulous giftbox. Choose one of their own or create your own selection from products including food and drink and homewares all delivered across the county. Visit www.le-box.co.uk to build yours.



CHOOSE THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS DRINK BY STAR SIGN

Limoncello for Librans or a Snowball for a Sagittarian, if you’re struggling to choose a Christmas tipple to slip in a loved one’s stocking, online cake shop, Jackandbeyond.com, has teamed up with PsychicWorld to reveal which Christmas drink each zodiac sign should enjoy with their meals this year! Read them here.


M&S FOOD DONATES £10,000 TO LEICESTER CHARITY FOR THOSE IN NEED THIS CHRISTMAS

This Christmas, M&S Food is putting charity firmly at its heart. In a year when charity funding has declined almost 25%, M&S Food is proud to donate £10,000 to a Leicester based charity – find out who benefitted and why here.



BRITAINS MOST GOOGLED FESTIVE FOOD REVEALED

As food makes up part of the Christmas festivities, thortful has released a new festive food tier list, featuring four tiers from God Tier to Give it a miss Tier. In the God tier, with more than 200,000 UK searches a month were eggnog (probably because most of us don’t actually know what it is!), as well as mince pies, roast potatoes, and a classic Christmas dinner.

Food with 100,000 – 200,000 monthly searches fell into the Good tier with Yule logs, cranberry sauce, parsnips, stuffing and Bucks Fizz all fell under the Meh tier, with 50,000 – 100,000 monthly UK searches each. Meanwhile, in the Give it a miss tier, traditional festive treats like sherry, brandy butter and redcurrant jelly all had less than 50,000 monthly searches!


GO ON SAFARI WITH A STAYCATION IN THE WEST MIDLANDS

With many of us already planning staycations for 2021 how about staying on Safari? West Midland Safari Park have announced that they are now taking bookings for their new luxury Safari Lodges that are set to open on the 13th February next year- get all the details here..


LIVE STREAM THE BRB’S NUTCRACKER THIS CHRISTMAS

Birmingham Royal Ballet will move their 2020 adapted version of The Nutcracker online with the magical Christmas production being streamed live from The Birmingham Repertory Theatre on Friday 18 December at 7.30pm, delivering a live theatre experience  to your living room.

Find out how to watch it for just £15 until Midnight Christmas Eve here.


BULLRING BULL CHILLS FOR CHRISTMAS 2020

The iconic Bull’s tenth Christmas outfit was unveiled and this year he’s keeping things casual with his very own Christmas pyjamas.  His bright blue pyjamas complete with handmade penguin motifs and Santa hat were created by his official costume designer, Kate Unwin.

The much-loved Christmas tradition of giving the Bull a festive make-over began back in 2011 and since then his outfits have become a huge talking point for visitors to the city. This year, local illustrator, Shelli Graham, has even created a ‘Dress the Bull’ paper doll-style card, which is currently on sale  with 10% of sales going to the centre’s charity partner, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Charity.


BUTCHERS SOCIAL GETS FESTIVE AT HOME

The Butchers Social, has launched an at-home service just in time for Christmas. Live cookery classes with award-winning chef proprietor Mike Bullard are on offer, as well as pre-prepared meals featuring some of the restaurant’s best-loved dishes, seasonal hampers, Christmas menus, wine, gifts and more. Get all the info on the festive treats available here.


PHOENIX RECEIVES £645,000 ARTS COUNCIL GRANT

Phoenix cinema and art centre has been awarded a ‘Capital Kickstart’ grant of £645,586 in support of the charity’s Phoenix 2020 expansion plans. The Capital Kickstart award is designed to support cultural organisations which have already been awarded capital grants by the Arts Council, but whose projects have been delayed by Covid-19. Phoenix was awarded £4 million of National Lottery money towards the project by Arts Council in April 2019- read all about it here.


HOW MUCH EXERCISE DO YOU NEED TO DO TO BURN OFF FESTIVE FOODS?

With the timeless phrase “why not, it’s Christmas?” uttered throughout the festive season, is it any wonder many of us come to regret overindulgence in the New Year when the Christmas weight just won’t budge. With this in mind, the experts at GolfSupport.com decided to look into how many exercises we’d have to do to burn off our favourite festive foods. After finding the top 15 most popular Christmas foods, GolfSupport.com calculated the average calories per serving to find out how many squats, burpees, lunges, planks, and jogs you would have to do to burn those Christmas calories off. It’s not pleasant reading…


CURRY FAVOUR WITH AN AFTERNOON TEA WITH A DIFFERENCE

Veteran Leicester restaurant Mirch Masala have launched an unforgettable afternoon tea takeaway that will brighten up the bleakest of midwinters! To accompany your choice of masala chai, English breakfast or ginger tea, enjoy a selection of traditional delicacies that have been given the Mirch Masala treatment such as  pinwheels cut through with a spicy Bombay potato and panna cotta flavoured with a heady house masala chai blend.

Beautifully presented and ready for you to enjoy at home for just £15.95 for one person or £26.95 for two to share, book yours on 0116 2610888, email [email protected]


ROYAL MAIL AT SELFRIDGES LAUNCHES IN BIRMINGHAM

Selfridges Birmingham has stationed a special Santa postbox and writing station in-store, to allow the littlest of Selfridges customers to send letters to the Big Man this Christmas! An exclusive Royal Mail-themed product range is also available to buy in-store and online at Selfridges.com. View the range here


IKON FOR ARTISTS ANNOUNCE OPEN CALL

Birmingham-based artists are invited to submit one artwork with a value of up to £1,000 for Ikon for Artists, an exhibition in 2021. Exhibiting artists will receive 100% of the proceeds from the sale of their work. Ikon for Artists seeks to support local artists whose income has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Submissions are open from now until the 15th January 2021 with complete applications that fulfil the submission guidelines are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Find out more here.


GET YOUR FESTIVE BINGE ON

We all need a little light relief at the moment and with searches for ‘Christmas specials on TV’ having risen by 400% this year, according to Google, the TV experts at OnBuy sought to find the best Christmas episodes from the TV shows we love the most. After surveying 3,256 sitcom devotees to find the ultimate sitcoms of all time, the TV team looked at the highest-rated Christmas episodes per show, according to IMDb, to reveal the best Christmas specials of all time. The Results are below…


INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE

“We are like snowflakes, all different in our own beautiful way.”

– Unknown

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