Love Objects

Book Review – LOVE OBJECTS by Bloomsbury

LOVE OBJECTS – Edited by Anna Moran and Sorcha O’Brien

ISBN 978-1-4725-1719-7
(published August 2014 by Bloomsbury)
RRP £19.99

List of Illustrations
Notes on Contributors
Editors’ foreword
Four Main Sections

Fifteen contributors: consisting of doctorate and degree holders, and academics, who all use the literary writer’s style of language which is channeled in essays with particular intention. An anthology then (a collection of literary works), but remaining a book that will sit in the non-fictional category of any book seller outlets. 166 Pages of lengthy text (in small fonts) where commentators are critically exploring, with great intensity and insightfulness, the emotional relationship people have with objects.

Photographic Images: there are a fair few, half page in the main and printed in black and white.

For anyone studying or having avid interest in Art History and Family Histories, people observation; symbolic representation (religious or otherwise); arts and crafts; the material world, sexualized goods; vintage and retro goods, heritage and memory tracing activities – you will find the content in this book candidly revealing.

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Stage Review – Of Mice and Men at Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Michael Legge (George) Benjamin Dilloway (Lennie)

Michael Legge (George) Benjamin Dilloway (Lennie)

Steinbeck’s novella, which is so, essentially, American has been a school curriculum favourite in the study of English Literature for many years; this famous tale is wonderfully articulated in this stage play.

The heavy-handed Lennie is a big guy, and his companion and protector, George, is always, defensively, describing him as being ’not bright, but a hell of a good worker and a nice fella’, to any potential bosses and other ranch hands they meet, in his desperate effort to secure them both some short term work and short term shelter. The meek and mindless, Lennie, and the stolid and staunch-like, George are sublimely characterised by actors, Benjamin Dilloway and Michael Legge.

You get a real feel of the remoteness of a farming community and the hard times Steinbeck’s characters are experiencing. It is obvious, because of the way they are living, that there is little reward for the sacrifices they are making and for their hard work. The music, played by members of the cast, adds to that southern American feel and there is no dodgy dialect that is detectable. One of the many poignant scenes is when Lennie, on his way to pet the newly born puppies, falls upon stable buck, Crooks (Dave Fishley) who is lying in desperate agony on top of his bunk because of his ‘busted back’. Of Mice and Men is all about the human condition, but the conversation in this short piece of dialogue between these two characters is particularly insightful.


Michael Legge (George) Benjamin Dilloway (Lennie)

The fiction book is not much more than hundred pages, but Steinbeck managed to write a Two Act stage version. Act II is short however. Review night started at 7 and the night was over by 9.15 pm which included an interval break.

We know the writing has it all, but the cast and the creative team are gunning ahead to deliver what I regard to be the best theatrical production I have seen this year.

Benjamin Dilloway and Lorna Nickson-Brown as Lennie and Curley's Wife

Benjamin Dilloway and Lorna Nickson-Brown as Lennie and Curley’s Wife

Directors, Roxana Silbert and Nicholas Pitt, and the Players, of course, render the complexity of each character well and the expert stage direction just draws you in. There appears to be no limit that designer Liz Ascroft sets for herself, her set design is once again, breathtaking. The stage floor is planked, and incorporates reed beds and a rivulet. The scene changes are lengthy, but each one interweaves with the storyline. The stage light is extremely atmospheric; quite beautiful.

Michael Legge, Benjamin Dilloway in Of Mice and Men

Michael Legge, Benjamin Dilloway in Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men is showing in THE HOUSE at Birmingham Repertory Theatre until 01 November.

Reviewer, Debra Hall attended the press night showing of Of Mice and Men at Birmingham Repertory Theatre on Tuesday 14 October. This review also appears on the events website Remotegoat

All photos copyright credit: ©ELLIE KURTTZ

Featured Illustration copyright credit ©DEBRA HALL

Cast List:

Lennie – Benjamin Dilloway  – Credits include: National Theatre, Film, and TV

George – Michael Legge  –  Credits include: Theatre, Angela’s Ashes (Universal), BBC Radio 4, and TV

James Hayes – Candy – Credits include: TV, Film, BBC Radio 4 and Theatre (Shakespeare’s Globe, Birmingham Repertory Theatre/tour)

Jan Knightley – Carlson/The Boss/Musician – Credits include: Theatre, TV (New Tricks), Film, BBC Radio 4 (The Archers)

Lorna Nickson-Brown – Curley’s Wife – Credits include: Theatre (Birmingham Repertory Theatre) TV (BBC), Film,

Claran O’Brien – Curley – Credits include Theatre (Sheffield Crucible), TV (Ripper Street) and Film

Nicholas Goode – Whit/Musician – Credits include Theatre (Nottingham Playhouse, Birmingham Repertory Theatre)

Dave Fishley – Crooks/Musician – Credits include Theatre (Royal Shakespeare Company) TV (Macbeth BBC Schools) Film (Bridget Jones’s Diary)

Norman Bowman – Slim – Credits include Theatre (West End) TV (BBC) and Film

strictly 1

Review of Strictly Come Dancing Puzzle by Ravensburger (1000 pieces)

Very pleased with the Ravensburger puzzle of Strictly Come Dancing.
The puzzle pieces are of very good quality and lots of colour.
There is so much detail of all the dancers in their glitter.
It tells you the name of the dance with the dance partners.
An excellent puzzle”

From Jennifer M (Poringland, Norfolk, UK)

Jennifer is the perfect choice to provide feedback about this item, and in just a few sentences she is confirming that Ravensburger has encapsulated the spirit of ‘Strictly’ in a puzzle form. Jennifer will also be attending professional dancer and Strictly regular, Brendan Cole and his Night To Remember touring show when the date falls close to her home next February. As Jennifer herself goes dancing regularly, and tunes into this autumn show and all the extra TV slots devoted to it; she is truly a voice of wisdom on the subject.

Note – the dancers and contestants illustrated on the puzzle  are that of last year’s 2013 participants.


croissants packaging

The Breakfast and Sweet Treats, Gluten-Free, Range by Genius

The Breakfast/Sweet Treats Range consists of croissants, chocolate chip brioche, pains au chocolat, iced cup cakes and sliced fresh Bread all of which are gluten-free, dairy free, and wheat free.

Croissants and Pains au Chocolat were launched in 2012. The rice flour and tapioca content is very obvious, with both pastries having a slight graininess to them in terms of taste and texture, this is not a negative but merely an observation. If something forms a base and is contained within food then of course it will be evident in a product’s make up. Both are pre-baked items and need to be heated in the oven, to warm them through. Both items have enough margarine (hydrogenated) content for the items not to be too dry. Croissants are a little plain, better when served with strawberry jam.

brioche rolls

chocolate chip brioche rolls

Chocolate Chip Brioche Rolls – launched in Tesco this year this product has a tear and share kind of texture; is sweet, reasonably light and a good match for its wheat containing counterparts. This is a gluten, wheat, dairy free product – Contains sunflower oil. This gets the vote for being the most liked Genius breakfast item between TSS testers; thoroughly enjoyed with our morning coffees!

Chocolate Cupcakes (2 pack) if the sponge has any kind of dryness to it at all, the moist toppings counter balances it with a sugary icing creaminess. There’s been a storm in a teacup of late around the humble cup cake, but whichever variegations and inventions are out there, this alternative is a joy to behold for anyone with special dietary requirements. Cake for breakfast? Why not! Nice accompaniment with a good cuppa. Also available in a Lemon version.

sandwich loaf

Gluten Fee sliced bread by Genius

Sandwich Gluten-Free Bread is one of a range of fresh bread this is not only gluten free, but a wheat free, dairy Free, high in fibre, sandwich loaf made by Genius. The surprise for us, and our introduction to the bread range, is that these loaves are not anything like the hugely dry and uninspiring alternatives sold in vacuum sealed packs with a long life; these breads have a short use by date and are presented in plastic bread bags tied at the neck. Gluten is, of course, the thing which sticks things together because of its very structure, so our slices, we found, struggled to remain whole because of the absence of gluten. Crusts tend to fall away when removing bread from the pack and when being handled, but still the freshness and quality is there; will be delicious when served with your favourite spread and it toasts very well.

TSS says:
Our contact said she couldn’t wait to hear what we thought of Genius. The first job, in regard to reviewing the breakfast range, was to check online to see if Genius is recommended by The Coeliacs Society – which will signify that their products can be ingested harmlessly by a high percentage of Coeliac patients. Genius is, indeed, on their list of approved suppliers which was an excellent indicator from the start. The breakfast range has a better taste, has improved texture, and is more appealingly presented than many other like for like brands selling dietary alternatives. ‘Pleasantly surprised’ is our overall verdict.

witches brew candle 3

Halloween from Yankee Candle – A Blog Feature

Now and again a guest blogger provides us with feedback about a product they have put to the test. Briony S from Tacolneston in Norfolk has sent through her thoughts on the Witches Brew 2014 (Medium Jar) RRP £16.99 from The Yankee Candle Company and she also talks in her engaging and friendly way about the spirit of Halloween and what the festival means, or doesn’t mean, to her particularly.

Halloween is never a holiday I’ve really celebrated. We always have sweets in the house for the Trick or Treater’s who never come, and I often turn a Pepper into a lantern as it’s cheaper, easier, and smaller than a pumpkin, but that is the extent of things. This year with the little one I’m a little more intrigued but not a huge amount, I’ve got him the cutest Halloween sleep suit! There’s a jar of lollipops at the ready in case we do get a knock at the door; and then there is my lovely Witches Brew scent Yankee Candle Jar.

I love the Yankee Candle Jars, they are always so pretty or in this case spooky, with the lids they are easy to store away when not in use and as the medium jar has an impressive burn time of 65-90 hours it will last me several Halloweens.

This will save me the hassle of carving little faces into peppers and gently dropping in a tea light which I’ve then got to light without burning myself. It looks great on my window sill, the black jar uses white and orange to create a night time scene of witches and pumpkins and all things spooky above the houses below. In general it just fits nicely with my very half-hearted and British way of celebrating the day.

I would have hoped for more light to shine through the jar, maybe glowing through some of the white sections to create a bit more a scene, maybe it doesn’t as I haven’t burned it low enough yet, that will take some time to find out but I can’t see it happening so am in no rush. I do think that the black wax is a great touch though, it’s make it look more like an actual Witches Brew than a plain white wax would have done, even orange wouldn’t have been so effective.

As for the scent, well Witches Brew is a very descriptive name, just not of the scent! You know what you’re going to get with something called Spiced Apple, or Rose, or any of the variety of normal scent names out there but Witches Brew? Well to be fair you expect something pretty awful, thankfully it’s not. I can’t quite place the scent, which doesn’t help me describe it, so I looked the website which describes it as ‘a spicy sweet aroma of exotic patchouli’. I’m not sure that helps much, it certainly wouldn’t help me and I’ve got it next to me to sniff! What I can tell you is that it smells nice, sweet and warm, not remotely like Halloween but still really nice and a scent I would pick again for just a general candle throughout the year.
So if you, like me, enjoy a token gesture to celebrate Halloween or you go all out with costumes and decorations every year then this candle will be a perfect fit. It looks great, smells lovely and lasts for ages.

Thank you to Briony for this contribution to our consumer focused blog. From Debra – Editor at tssreviews


Review of the Premium Apple Pie Portions from the selection range by erlenbacher (trade business)

We were sent a number of portions of the Premium Apple Pie for review. The items had been preserved in dry ice which is a shock freezing technique using carbon dioxide.

Note: The official message we have received from Food Safety in Catering governance is that frozen items should be defrosted in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature, so we followed this protocol before testing.

This is an apple pie without a pastry top, the base is made from short crust pastry, although short there is not much bite to it and it is more cake-like in texture. Recent methods adapted by many chefs when making fruit pies is to poach fruit in pan with a little butter and sugar, spices and other filling ingredients, first, before settling in between the pastry components. If the apple used is a variety that will hold its form then the result does not need to be mushy mix whether you pre cook in a pan first or put it uncooked straight into the pie. The apples used in this instance are of the Cripps Pink variety, and are chunkily sliced. The Cripps Pink Apple, is primarily an eating apple that cooks well even though it is juicier than some cooking apples. It is extremely sweet tasting, but not a tart or tangy variety and some people prefer the taste qualities of an old fashioned ‘cooker’ in an apple pie, especially if you are adding sugar as it can end up overly sweet. This erlenbacher has many good qualities, but taste-wise borders on being a little too sweet, because rather than topping with a pastry layer they have played a little with cooking sugar and fat to arrive at this golden look of presentation.

Note: above is sold in portions to the retail trade

Note: above is sold in portions to the retail trade

We found the apple filling in our Premium Apple Pie portions, although cooked through, did have a slight rubbery, slightly under cooked texture about it when served cold, and, whether served warm, chilled or at room temperature, there was no crispness evident to the almond flakes on the top. A Premium Apple Pie slice certainly looks the part however, it has a nice colour and sugar glaze, and good depth and generosity to the portion size, so would appeal to the sweet lovers eye when being displayed. We found it difficult however, to maintain the magnificence of the freshly defrosted structure for much more than a few hours, especially when passing a slice from plate to plate. Our testers preferred their slices served warmed through rather than chilled.

About erlenbacher

Many of us Europeans have probably been served an erlenbacher dessert at some time or other. The company have been manufacturing premium frozen cakes and desserts for decades. They are suppliers to the hospitality industry in the main. 200 varieties of sweet pastry pies and fancy cakes are brought in by restaurants, bars, clubs and hotels and served in sliced portions by the hosts to visitors at their tables.

Despite the recent rise in small food businesses offering artisan baked goods straight out of home kitchens, the company is still experiencing a demand from the retail trade for their products. The large automated production and factory staff employed on the lines means that the company can offer a competitive unit trade price to a wider market in most cases.

Available to the retail trade are portions that are individually packaged, altogether the aim is to convey that the items have been homemade in the traditional sense of the word. Erlenbacher uses only natural ingredients, so there are no hydrogenated fats or oils present and no added preservatives, colourants or flavours in any of their recipes; therefore this working ethos runs in line with their mission statement.

See erlenbacher at THE RESTAURANT SHOW 2014 at Earls Court 2 on the 6th, 7th and 8th of October – Stand C58

For more information about the selection range visit the website

wafer thins

TSS Business of the Month for October 2014 is PRESTAT

Halloween choc thins

Figure 1

The sun is appearing lower in the sky and the nights are drawing in and we are full of good feelings for being able to identify Prestat as our Business of the Month for October. Aside from the fact Prestat have their own almost story-book tale behind it; we have arrived at an early in the month conclusion, to feature the business, because there are some special chocolate items available; especially fitting for serving at events and occasions which falls within the autumn season. Namely the Orange and Cardamom Chai wafer thins (see featured pic and Figure 1); the Black Forest Gateau Truffles and the Thundercloud truffle, but more about these and other award winning products at the end.

The company’s background in brief:

  • Past owners (the Dufours) happened to be the French inventors of the first ever chocolate truffle. From 1902 through to the 1950s Antoine Dufour, and later his son, Tony, made and sold high class Prestat Chocolates from central and fashionable London based premises
  • Under the Croft ownership of the business (which lasted over 20 years), Neville Croft acquired many well known and returning customers because of a link he had with high profiled thespians

Purveyors logo

  • Prestat has been the only Purveyors of Chocolates to hold two Royal Warrants
  • Author, Roald Dahl actually mentions Prestat by its very name in one of his books, not Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, but another title called My Uncle Oswald where he talks most definitely of a Prestat truffle.


shop front

No 14 Princes Arcade, London

  • The chocolate business was one of many strands for another of Prestat’s owners, Stanley Cohen. Cohen was the owner of the business from 1980 onward, but other priorities, including his charity work, received the lion’s share of his attentions. Cohen was responsible however, for locating Prestat to the current London Piccadilly premises – 14 Princes Arcade (see above). Prestat remains secure and loyal to its London heritage which dates back to the turn of the last century
Nick Crean and Bill Keeling

Nick Crean and Bill Keeling

  • On the Prestat website Under ‘Our Story‘ in the menu, present co-owner MD Bill Keeling tells of his excitement in discovering a secret room with hidden ‘treasures’ when he and half brother, Nick Crean acquired the business in 1998

HarrodsHarrods concession

Harrods concession

  • Prestat has concessions in Harrods (see above)  as well as Liberty and Selfridges, the brand appears in John Lewis and other high end outlets both in the capital and countrywide, and the whole, extensive Prestat range is available via the website online. Production and Worldwide dispatch is now handled in and straight out of the chocolate kitchens at Park Royal, West London; yet fresh chocolates are still taken down to Princes Arcade on a daily basis. Prestat have been actively selling in the US for over three years


Bill Keeling with Farmers in Ghana

Bill Keeling with Farmers and workers in Ghana

Esoko office

  • The company have a social responsibility policy with a focus on the upkeep of good communication channels, so that Fair Trade farmers in Ghana are better advised in regard to trading matters centred on their raw cacao products. Prestat offers support to an organisation called Esoko who operate a helpline and offer expert advice for Ghanaian farmers


chocolate bars

Figure 2

  • Prestat have always handcrafted all of their own chocolates, these are of the finest quality. The vibe around this artisan brand is that it balances the classical with the more experimental, contemporary approach to the mixes and flavours synonymous to fine chocolate production of late.  A vibrant rebrand in recent years reflects Prestat’s traditional links with the theatre

great taste award

  • The previous award winning Prestat kitchens, have recently received six further Gold Star wins for their six entries submitted to the Great Taste Awards 2014. The six award winning chocolate products include the three mentioned in the first paragraph plus the Knickerbocker Glory Art Deco and the Classic Earl Grey Tea with Twist of Lemon Milk Chocolate bars, pictured with other chocolate bars available (Figure 2), and last, but by no means least, the delicious Red Velvet truffles we at TSS reviewed earlier in the year. Read the review here

Badge Business -of the month