Sleaford Mods get political review in the Torygraph

Since this article BBC6 Music cannot get enough of Nottingham’s edgy duo.


The best coffee I get is still at home | Nottingham Post

“Coffee’s popularity seems to have no end; apparently the number of coffee shops in Nottingham will continue to rise in the next few years.
In my youth, coffee was granulated and called Nescafé. You added boiling water and a bit of milk. It was as simple as that.”

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Tasty Willows Cafe – Daybrook Nottingham

My recent feature in the Nottingham Post

When it comes to our lunch preferences, generally in my experience there is a marked difference between men and women.

Men treat lunch a bit like their hair cut; avoiding any planning and going for spontaneity. Lunch; a bit like a haircut is something that you do when you have a few minutes to spare during the day, even if you happen to be somewhere unfamiliar.

Women, on the other hand, either plan it in advance or tend to choose somewhere that they can trust such as a supermarket. Depending on which supermarket is available will determine whether to go for the salad bar or the sandwich counter!

I admit to being a ‘grab a sandwich/haircut’ type of bloke and to take my chances.

I put this to the test recently whilst passing through Daybrook.

Opposite the Home Brewery offices and water tower, there is a row of about six shops. Both retain their 1930’s art-deco style. Historically the shops would have been a grocer, butcher and baker; all serving the residents and workers of the brewery and factories in that part of Arnold.

I noticed that the shop on the end of the row is now a Caribbean café named Tasty Willows.

My last visit here was, without doubt on 13th March 1996. It was a convenience store of some description and I had called in to ‘grab a sandwich’. I had realised it was the last shop on the A60 Mansfield Road as you leave the conurbation. I probably ate a pre-packed cob of some description. Whilst eating in my car the radio news was reporting the Dunblane school murders. That is how I know the date!

Home Brewery has since gone, replaced by a large Sainsburys supermarket and a MacDonalds Restaurant. Whilst I have the utmost respect for both of these fine companies, neither can satisfy my lunchtime ‘spontaneity’ like an independent trader.

And so it was Gary, the proprietor of Tasty Willows (now the last café on the A60), that got my custom on a damp and grey autumn morning.

The menu has a selection of standard Caribbean dishes, jacket potatoes or baguettes. The café is clean and tidy with a well-stocked counter plus seating for about 20 people. Comfort food was what I needed and it came in the form of a chicken stew in a large dumpling with a mug of tea. The chicken had been cooked in a rich mushroom gravy and encased in an oven cooked dumpling that was the biggest I’d ever seen!

A hugely satisfying meal, and prices so reasonable that I could have been back in 1996, but on a good news day this time! 

Coronation Buildings in Daybrook Nottingham

Coronation Buildings in Daybrook Nottingham

Nottinghamshire History -Mapperley

Brickmaking. Brickmaking has for centuries been the staple industry of Mapperley, for in 1682-3 several persons were charged with digging clay upon “the Playnes,” and the Council ordered that their kills (kilns) and hovels should be pulled down, and although in 1688 Thos. Elliott supplied bricks to the Corporation, yet the year following he was fined 5/- “for a brick kilne upon the Plaines.” These kilns were probably on the south-eastern side of the road. It is usually thought that the lost art of brickmaking became considerably developed through the great fire of London in 1666 showing the danger of timbered buildings, but it had been used locally earlier than this. In any case for centuries bricks have been made at Mapperley, justifying the saying that “Nottingham once stood on Mapperley Hills,” and from that range of hills more than a thousand million bricks have been made, and many millions have gone to London, to build among other places St. Pancras Station. The bricks in the olden time were made of top clay only, trodden by children, or beaten with clubs by men; then came a grinding between rollers, turned by a horse going round a mill-race; then followed steam power, and revolving pan, and iron grinding mills, mixers, pug mills, wire cutting machines, heated floors, continuous kilns, etc. The Suburban Railway (1877) has been helpful to the trade.


Nottingham – National Water Sports Centre

Trent Bridge in Nottingham has international recognition due to the Test Cricket ground of the same name. Sport fans are also aware that within a mile of Trent Bridge are two professional football clubs, horse racing, dog racing, ice hockey, rugby union and a variety of water sports. The London Olympics of 2012 overlooked Nottingham’s sporting facilities; except for archery practice at Trent Bridge!
Three years on our National Water Sports Centre remains a sought after location.
Here are some terrific photographs to prove it.

Nottingham’s Goose Fair

My latest feature in the Nottingham Post.

Any tradition that continues for 700 years must retain links to its history whilst adapting to the future. The Nottingham Goose Fair is our finest example.


The entrance to The Forest from Mansfield Road

The entrance to The Forest from Mansfield Road

Nottinghamshire’s residents rely on The Goose Fair to signal the start of autumn and the longer nights. It is a time when all generations meet up and enjoy the colour, noise and smells that create such a special atmosphere. It is time when we are reminded of things like coconut and brandy snap; only to then forget about them until next year.

Fairs are exciting places for children, and childhood memories of them stay with us for our lifetime.

Even though the Goose Fair has changed over time, we like to retain our personal connection to it. We can then pass on our own experience and offer advice such as; to use the highest ride first in order to get your bearings, which waltzer is the fastest, or which caterer does the better ‘pale green’ mushy peas.

In my childhood, I always approached the fair along Gregory Boulevard from Mansfield Road. Never being a fan of burgers or hotdogs, we would save ourselves for mushy peas from the Boys Brigade stall as we left.

The coconut would rarely make it home; usually smashed open on the corner of a wall and eaten in the street.

My traditional form of ‘street food’ still exists but the fair is much more cosmopolitan. This year I walked from Mansfield Road down the slope passing the pavilion. This allows for a good view of the fair and also offers many food outlets to consider. For those that prefer to sit down and eat the pavilion is now open all year as the Homemade Café. They were offering a “Goosey Special” of fish and chips with a glass of Prosecco.

Homemade café at The Pavilion

Homemade café at The Pavilion

Continuing into fair itself and there were American, German, Dutch, Jamaican and Oriental caterers. These were interspersed with a ‘traditional’ mushy pea stall that even has an appreciation group on Facebook!


As I reached the Noel Street entrance there was a roasted chestnut vendor and a scout hut that offered another chance to sit and eat.

I chose to stand and eat.This way I could reflect on the fair’s continued fascination to the thousands of visitors. I could also reflect on the demise of the sideshow type of attraction. I was sure that where I was stood there used to be a woman that lived in a bottle!

Without revealing what I ate (and having checked this for spelling mistakes) I will say that it was not from the stall that was selling “potato’s” or food with no “addatives”!

Traditional fairground fare

Traditional fairground fare

Exploring the veggie options along the tram | Nottingham Post

Since my last feature, I am pleased to say that my vegetarian adventure is firmly ‘back on track’, literally. My recent feature in the Nottingham Post reflects this.

There is also some good news that The Plains Fish Bar in Mapperley now has Battered Halloumi Sticks on the menu. Judging by the 7.5k views on Facebook’s Mapperley People, it should prove to be a popular choice.

The Plains Fish Bar's latest offering

The Plains Fish Bar’s latest offering

Recently I used the extended tram route from Hucknall to Toton. To make it interesting I sought out a sample of places to eat along the way. I used social media in order to find them, so I apologise to those I may have missed.

From a vegetarian point of view, there was nothing in Hucknall that inspired me to visit. That said, I am fond of the town, having regularly visited to walk the civic trail that celebrates its history. No other town can lay claim to the jet engine, Lord Byron and the composer of the Dambusters march. The other downside to the Hucknall tram-stop is that it is on the edge of the town and is more of a park and ride for commuters rather than servicing the town centre. Toton on the other hand is without doubt a park and ride facility, surrounded by fields.


The view from Toton

Offering my apologies to Hucknall and Bulwell where again my research didn’t find me any vegetarian attraction, I continued on to Hyson Green, where the tram meanders through the town. Hyson Green has always been a ‘melting pot’ with many nationalities adding their flavours to the food outlets. On my list was the Boavista Portuguese café on Radford Road. Having seen the positive reviews I was looking forward to the opportunity to visit. Unfortunately it is closed on Tuesdays and I will have to wait to try their vegetarian lasagne, made with courgette, pumpkin, carrots and tomato sauce. Boavista is opposite the junction with Berridge Road so I took a walk away from the tram line and sought out The Screaming Carrot vegetarian bakery. Not an eatery as such, although they have a small seating area; nevertheless well worth a visit for the fresh bread, savouries and cakes.

Returning to the tram I had decided my evening meal would be at Café Roya in Beeston, so I sat back, seeing Lenton, The Queens Medical Centre, Dunkirk and the traffic queues from a different perspective.

High Pavement Nottingham (from the tram)

High Pavement Nottingham (from the tram)

Café Roya is a five minute walk from the Beeston tram stop. Less a café and more a high quality vegetarian restaurant that genuinely makes vegetarian food exciting. They have also created a great atmosphere in the building. The walls and floors have been stripped back, subtle lighting added and, to top it all for me David Bowie playing as background music.

The Persian noodle soup was richly flavoured and a substantial starter combining fresh herbs, spices, pulses and spinach. Topped with fried onions and turmeric mint oil. The main course of Spanish marrow stuffed with roasted pepper and tomato and vegan chorizo. Served on a bed of salad with various superfoods, it was as tasty as it was nutritious. It is worth mentioning that the chorizo had the flavour but not the oily taste that the meat version has.

Great stuff! I’m a happy chap again, all thanks to the tram.