Restless Minds: Ward Thomas

Round & About

Marlborough

Ward Thomas – AKA 24-year-old twin sisters Catherine and Lizzy who went to school near Cranleigh – tell us about their influences ahead of their gig this month.

Millennials face a barrage of criticism as well as being burdened with the anxiety social media can cause. So Lizzy and Catherine Ward Thomas come across as a thoroughly refreshing duo.

Lyrically the twins have tackled issues close to their hearts on their new album Restless Minds, with observations on social media, the women’s movement, what “the truth” means today and mental health, which inspired #NoScrollSunday.

With support from The Wandering Hearts, they will perform at Guildford’s G Live on Tuesday, 26th February, which is almost a home gig. “We know Guildford very well,” the sisters tell me. “We grew up only 20 minutes away and went to school near Cranleigh. We’ve been to the Borderline a lot to watch fellow musicians play as well as playing there ourselves.”

Catherine and Lizzy grew up in a very musical family. “Our parents were in a band and they played a lot of The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles. Our cousin introduced us to country music and we became obsessed with Dixie Chicks and many others. We’ve listened to a whole range of genres growing up and still do now. We’re drawn to a great melody, an authentic storyline with great lyrics. We also feel strongly that – in this modern digital age – we all crave honesty, authenticity and things that take us back to our roots. So that could also be what’s drawing people into country more nowadays.”

Country music might be enjoying a surge in popularity but the twins dislike pigeon-holing their music when it comes to genres… “So when we write, we go into the room with the attitude of ‘let’s write what we feel today’. Then when we get to the studio we always have fun experimenting with what kind of production works best for a particular song. So we’re always wanting to be open-minded to blending genres together within an album.”

I wonder what it’s like performing and making music as twins? “It’s great! We’ve gone through a lot together growing up but have different perspectives on the same topic or event. So it really works in the creative process. And performing together is a real treat as we have a lot of fun connecting with each other musically on stage and singing together in general. We’re really excited to get back on the road!”

● Ward Thomas will play at Guildford’s G Live on Tuesday, 26th February.

For more information please visit www.wardthomasmusic.com/live

Bowie & beyond

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Liz Nicholls chats to Woody Woodmansey ahead of the Holy Holy show this month…

Three years on from Bowie’s death, his bandmate Woody Woodmansey still finds the concept of him being “gone” utterly surreal.

“He’s probably in my thoughts most of the time,” says Woody, “but it’s the same for everyone – he doesn’t go away. The music we created has lasted the test of time. We never ever thought the music we made 40 years ago would still be on the radio.”

Together with producer Tony Visconti, drummer and “Spider Man from Mars” Woody are getting set to take their Holy Holy tour around the UK with an all star band including glorious Bowie-esque vocals from Heaven 17’s Glenn Gregory. The group will perform Bowie’s material from 1969-73.

I ask Woody about meeting David for the first time, when he arrived at his flat in a big gothic building in Beckenham… “I had all these questions in my head,” says Woody. “Like: was he clever or thick? Could he write? Mick [Ronson] had raved on and on about him. I was expecting this curly-haired folkie from Space Oddity but he opened the door in a rainbow T-shirt, silver belt and red corduroy trousers and shoes he’d painted blue stars on. We chatted about music and I could tell he was intelligent. Then he picked his 12 string up and amazed me with his presence – he never flinched for a moment.”

Woody duly turned down the tempting offer of a managerial job at a glasses factory in his native Yorkshire to join Bowie down in London and make history. “The music industry had become so

boring and we wanted to give it a kick up the ****, which I guess we did!” laughs Woody.

I ask Woody whether his love of music started at school. “No! I didn’t become aware if music until after school,” he laughs his throaty, smoky cackle. “I just played Hendrix, Led Zep and Cream records, putting my finger on the vinyl to slow it down a bit and hear what the drums were doing so I could copy it. I only learned the rudiments later.”

This time three years ago, Woody and the band were playing the High Line in New York, not far from where David lived. “It was his birthday and Tony decided to call him. We played a bad karaoke version of Happy Birthday. The audience joined in and he loved that. He asked them what they thought of Black Star, which had come out that day and they went wild! We said we’d catch up soon but of course never did because two days later his son messaged the news. David had always seemed invincible. On the Ziggy tours he was barely eating and was often really ill but he always got on stage and smashed it. After the news we weren’t sure whether to carry on but David would have so we did, in celebration of him. And here we are now, still celebrating him. Our rider might be a bit less rock and roll but the spirit is just the same.”

● The Holy Holy UK tour runs from 8th to 24th February, including shows at Guildford’s G Live and London Palladium.

BEAT cancer…

Round & About

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A Woking couple have launched a “BEAT” awareness campaign for ovarian cancer.

The husband of a Woking woman who realised she had ovarian cancer after reading an article about it, is leading a campaign to make 20,000 women aware of the signs.

Kathryn Norris was diagnosed in March 2017. She had been eating less, felt tired and noticed her breasts were swollen. Her GP referred her for a transvaginal ultrasound, but before this she became uncomfortable with abdominal bloating. She remembered a magazine article highlighting the key symptoms of ovarian cancer; B for bloating, E for eating less and feeling fuller quicker, A for abdominal pain and T for toilet changes.

The ultrasound revealed the 66-year-old did indeed have stage 2 ovarian cancer. After a hysterectomy and six months of chemotherapy she is being monitored every three months. “I feel so lucky my disease was caught early enough to be treated and to give me the chance of staying healthy,” says Kathryn who is now a grandmother.

Her husband Graham, the men’s captain at Hoebridge Golf Club, is using his term to spread awareness of the signs of the disease and is leading a BEAT campaign to tell 20,000 women about the symptoms and raise £20,000 for ovarian cancer charities. The idea is that every woman told will tell 10 more and he is starting with the 120 lady members.

Graham and ladies captain Pat Collins aim to reach their target by December helping charities Ovacome and Ovarian Cancer Action and have fundraising events planned including a golf day in July. He says: “If this helps to save one life it’s has been worth it.”

   For more about ovarian cancer please visit www.ovacome.org.uk or www.ovarian.org.uk

Magic of musicals: Anton & Erin

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Strictly Come Dancing’s “Mr Debonair” Anton du Beke tells Peter Anderson about his upcoming show in Guildford, together with dance partner Erin Boag.

Dance those Magic Musicals will present a marvellous world in which ballroom meets musical theatre with song and dance numbers set to iconic shows which have delighted audiences for decades.

Anton and Erin will be joined on stage by a sensational West End dance ensemble to present dances to Phantom of the Opera, Mary Poppins, 42nd Street and many other well-known musicals. They will be accompanied by the London Concert Orchestra conducted by Richard Balcombe who has also arranged the music, and the brilliant star vocalist Lance Ellington who may well be joined by Anton in some numbers!

I wondered, with this wide variety of musicals, which was Anton’s favourite decade for dance in musicals? “It’s not a choice I could make,” he laughs. “Each had some brilliant points, from the “big bands” of the 1920s, of which I’m a great fan, through to the spectacular choreography of Busby Berkeley to the incredible musicals between the 1950s and more recent times with shows like Wicked and Jersey Boys.”

Anton says this will be more a show-within-a-show with a selection of music from each musical, and then of course all the evenings will conclude with the now popular Q&A session with Anton and Erin. A desire by the couple to stretch themselves means neither of them have choreographed any of the numbers in the show that has fallen to Nikki Woollaston. As well as choreographing a number of Anton & Erin’s recent tours, Nikki has also choreographed many operas and musicals including Oklahoma at the Chichester Festival Theatre.

With all these numbers from musicals, would Anton fancy touring with a musical himself? “Maybe some time in the future,” he tells me. “One of the problems with musicals is they tend to stay at a theatre for a week, and with my twins as young as they are I just don’t want to be continually away from them. Doing the shows like I do, for the most part I can get back to south Bucks and be with my wife and the twins at night.”

Speaking of venues, is there one that Anton would love to take one of his and Erin’s shows to? There can only be one, he says. “The London Palladium! I so loved working with Sir Bruce Forsyth on Strictly and it was a place he made his own.”

Dance those Magic Musicals is on Saturday, 23rd February, at Guildford’s G Live.

For tickets please visit www.glive.co.uk or call 01483 369350.

Party popper! Abigail’s Party in Woking

Round & About

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Jodie Prenger leads the cast in Abigail’s Party, Mike Leigh’s ground-breaking play at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre from Monday, 25th February, to Saturday, 2nd March.

Welcome to 1970s suburbia and its heady mix of free-flowing cocktails, classic disco and cheese and pineapple sticks…

Mike Leigh’s iconic Abigail’s Party is one of Britain’s most celebrated comedies and was described by The Guardian as “one of the greatest plays about the human condition ever written”.

Jodie says: “Abigail’s Party is a true British classic and a real bucket list part for me. I’m thrilled to be involved in something so wonderful. I can’t wait to get started!”

Jodie landed the role of Nancy in Cameron Mackintosh’s revival production of Oliver! at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane after winning BBC One’s I’d Do Anything.

She has guest presented for Elaine Paige and Paul O’Grady on many occasions with BBC Radio 2. Other BBC Radio 2 appearances include Wogan, co-hosting Going Out With Alan Carr, Chris Evans’ Breakfast Show, The Olivier Awards 2010 and Children in Need 2009 with Graham Norton. Recently, Jodie starred in the one-woman UK tour of Shirley Valentine and has just finished playing the role of Kelly in the production of Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends on its UK tour with music written by Nick Lloyd Webber.

● New Victoria Theatre is in the Peacocks Centre, Woking, GU21 6GQ.

  To book tickets call 0844 871 7645 or visit www.atgtickets/woking

Grape expectations: Albury Vineyard

Round & About

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Enjoy a wine time at Albury Vineyard and take a bit of the vine home with you.

If your passion for wine goes beyond just enjoying a glass or two then how about taking a bit of a vineyard home with you?

Albury Vineyard in the beautiful Surrey Hills produces organic English wines without the use of chemicals under the watchful eye of owner Nick Wenman and vineyard manager Alex.

Join Alex, one of the few female vineyard managers in England, for an informative and insightful pruning demonstration on Saturday, 16th February, have a go yourself and then take a bit of Albury Vineyard home with you in the form of a vine cutting and who knows where that could lead…

Find out about what goes into planting and maintaining a vine to produce the perfect wine such as the still rosé and the sparkling whites at Albury. The vines are the traditional Champagne varietals of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, as well as some Pinot Gris and Seyval.

Nick planted the vineyard in 2009 having retired from the IT industry to fulfil his dream of owning a vineyard and believes the commitment to organic production together with the winemakers themselves are the key to their success.

The vineyard is situated on the southern slopes of the North Downs, just outside Guildford.

Tickets include a glass of Albury Estate Sparkling Wine to enjoy after the demonstration.

For more information about the vineyard go to www.alburyvineyard.com and to book tickets go to www.eventbrite.com

Mixing it up! Improv comedy

Round & About

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Expect to be involved in the show in the latest improv offering from The Noise Next Door.

Lightning-quick wit and comedic talent have helped improv troupe The Noise Next Door take the comedy world by storm.

They have sold out the Edinburgh Fringe 11 times with their distinctive brand of off-the-cuff comedy which the foursome have been performing together since meeting at university.

The boys – Charlie Granville, Tom Livingstone, Sam Pacelli and Robin Hatcher – are back with a new full-length adult show, The Noise Next Door – Remix and you can find out what all the fuss and noise is about for yourself when they bring it to Farnham Maltings on Friday, 8th February.

If you’re going along be prepared to be part of the show – the guys take audience suggestions and transform them into funny scenes and songs in the blink of an eye with a combination of characters, one liners, epic stories and ‘explosive physicality’.

They have appeared on numerous TV shows and alongside established British comedy names such as Michael McIntrye, Al Murray and Harry Hill. But their appearances don’t stop there, as they’ve also played to the British armed forces, secondary school students (a tough crowd) and even on stage at Download heavy metal festival.

They have been described as ‘comedy gold’ and as offering ‘a superior kind of chaos’. Remix will see them at their most creative yet with this new cutting edge and hilarious show.

  To book go to www.farnhammaltings.com but if you miss them there or had such a good time you want to go again, they’re at Cranleigh Arts Centre on 15th March.

Chocalicious! Woking festival

Round & About

Marlborough

Now the festive season is a memory, cheer-up treats are needed and what could be better than The Fantastical Chocolate Festival in Woking?

Chocolate… nothing more needs to be said to get your attention, who doesn’t love it? So all chocaholics listen up…

Woking’s H G Wells Centre is hosting The Fantastical Chocolate Festival to get the month off to a delicious start.

Kids of all ages can enjoy a day of delectable confectionery, sing-along live music, chocolatiers, tasty treats and Willy Wonka-inspired characters to keep you entertained all day.

An array of chocolate and confectionery goodness is on offer with everything from chocolate fountains and fondues to artisan traders and tasting experiences. If you decide you have perhaps overdone the chocolate, then how about candyfloss flowers, candy apple stalls and ice cream to dive into..?

You can also enjoy artisan hot chocolate to keep you warm and if you fancy something stronger, how about chocolate vodka, wine, gin and beer for the “bigger” kids?

Younger members of the family can even enjoy playing with the stuff – how lucky are they? – as well as having a go at decorating an egg and getting creative at the arts and crafts station.

Included with your ticket price are a cotton chocolate festival bag to collect your goodies, a festival mug and a sweet or savoury skewer for dipping in the fountains.

This feast of chocolate is on Saturday, 9th February, 11.30am to 8pm.

  For more details and ticket prices email [email protected]

Purls of wisdom: unravel knitting festival

Round & About

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Farnham Maltings will once again host unravel… a festival of knitting, between Friday, 22nd and Sunday, 24th February.

“It’s amazing to see the community of knitters, crochet and craft enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds return year after year to celebrate their love of yarn,” says festival organiser Gemma Curtis. “Whether you’re new to knitting and crochet or have years of experience, there is something for everyone.”

Since its launch in 2009, unravel… a festival of knitting has become one of the leading independent events, with yarn enthusiasts visiting from across the country and around the world.

The hub of the festival, unravel’s marketplace, allows visitors to buy products from more than 70 quality exhibitors from across the UK and Europe. Exhibitors include locally based The Little Grey Sheep and international vendors including Dye Dye Done from Poland, Fine Fish Yarn from Belfast and Lanivendole from Genova as well returning favourites and some new to the show for 2019.

As ever, unravel is offering expert-led workshops and talks on a range of disciplines. Classes include a mystical lantern class by crochet expert Jane Crowfoot, international tutor Kate Atherley introducing participants to the skills of glove-making and renowned knitwear design Alison Ellen leading an Entralec skills class.

Running throughout the whole Maltings building, visitors can enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the show in this unique setting.

• Tickets £8 in advance / £10 on the door and workshops can be booked in advance and include the price of same day entry.

  Call 01252 745 444 or visit www.farnhammaltings.com

A cut above: best Christmas roasts

Round & About

Marlborough

Turkey is a traditional favourite but there are so many choices of meat when it comes to the festive table, and many excellent local producers

What scene depicts Christmas more traditionally than a large cooked bird being brought out to the table and carved by the head of the household?

Turkey is, of course, the popular festive choice. Tom Copas Jnr says: “Turkey is what you’re meant to have! We’ve been rearing the best turkeys in Britain for over 60 years and nothing tastes better on Christmas Day, especially knowing all the care and attention that’s gone into their welfare.” Visit www.copasturkeys.co.uk.

Walters Turkeys is a family business running since 1911 on the Yattendon Estate in the Berkshire Downs. The team are passionate about animal welfare and expert in the best way to cook and store your bird for the perfect feast; call 01635 578 251 or visit www.waltersturkeys.co.uk. Tell your butcher how many guests you have (and how greedy!) to select a bird or joint of the perfect size.

Excellent traditional alternatives to turkey include goose and duck, which are more expensive and do not give as much meat per size as a turkey. Cockerels (male chickens) clock in at about the 10lb in weight and are becoming a popular alternative to turkey. For more adventurous of home cooks there is also the three-bird roast, with a wide variety of bird breasts one inside another (such as turkey, pheasant and partridge). These have plenty of meat but need to be carefully cooked.

Hungerford butcher Christian Alba says: “In all the places I’ve worked, Christmas meat is usually turkey. But I grew up on a turkey farm, so I have beef fore rib.” Phil Currie, head chef at The Greyhound in Letcombe Regis says: “I like to use beef shin as the bone provides so much flavour which leaves you with a great sauce. For Christmas we serve it with classic bourguignon garnish and a twist with a blue cheese dumpling. It’s a great alternative to turkey.” Visit www.thegreyhoundletcombe.co.uk or call 01235 771969.

Jesse Smith Butcher & W.J Castle in Cirencester has a unique dry-aging process for its beef featuring a room lined with Himalayan salt bricks. The company, which goes back for several generations, are passionate about animal husbandry and welfare and also offer the very finest poultry, game, pork and lamb for the well-stocked Christmas larder; visit www.jessesmith.co.uk or call 01285 653352.

Recipe queen Lyn Deveson says: “I’ve always cooked turkey and a gammon; cold turkey, ham, turkey curried, stir fried, in sandwiches is a big part of the appeal. But I cooked a cockerel last Christmas and won’t go back to turkey – it has more flavour. I remember my mother cooking the turkey all night on a low heat but the French way is best; higher heat and less time. People complain it can be dry but if cooked properly, it isn’t. Good gravy makes all the difference, too!

“I also remember my mother cooking the turkey all night on a low heat, but the French way is best – higher heat and less time. People complain it can be dry but if cooked properly, it isn’t. Traditionally we cook turkey, stuffing, bread sauce, sausages wrapped in bacon etc. with the head male at the top of the table, carving! That’s the  picture we all have in our heads and everyone wearing paper hats and pulling crackers! Because turkey meat can be quite bland, you can go to town with the other flavours. A good gravy makes the difference and thanks to chefs such as Jamie Oliver, we are learning that Bisto is not the essential ingredient but I am shocked by the number of English who still use it! The trouble is we are so spoilt nowadays and can eat anything any time of the year, so Christmas lunch or dinner isn’t such a treat as it used to be.”

Enter our competition for a Christmas In A Box foodie hamper – including a 6kg turkey!