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Wilder cover

Review of WILDER (a book of 21 fashion knits for women)

By Kim Hargreaves
Edition: Paperback
Publication: April 2016
ISBN: 9781906487256
Size: 215 x 280 mm
Pages: 105
RRP Price: £17.95 Amazon


LAKE from the knitting pattern book called 'Wilder' by Kim Hargreaves

LAKE from the knitting pattern book called ‘Wilder’ by Kim Hargreaves

SONG from the knitting pattern book called 'Wilder' by Kim Hargreaves

SONG from the knitting pattern book called ‘Wilder’ by Kim Hargreaves

PRAIRIE from the knitting pattern book called 'Wilder' by Kim Hargreaves

PRAIRIE from the knitting pattern book called ‘Wilder’ by Kim Hargreaves

TSS Says:

21 Knit or crochet patterns to make women’s knitted fashion pieces i.e. LAKE (a long line tunic with deep vents); SONG (a semi fitted sweater with cables and braids); WEST (a lacy scarf), PRAIRIE (a sweater with eyelets and button edgings) and BIRCH (a crochet beret). The ‘how to make’ methods are in the traditional knitting pattern format, with text being black on a white background which means instructions are very clear and makes reading easy on the eye in any daylight setting or under artificial lighting. The design of this book and the photography is extremely pleasing. The three images above are from the book (image source:, you will see that the model is pictured wearing the knitted items in natural outdoor settings in green or farmed fields, or in front of heritage style  buildings and fixtures. The Rowan yarns used are natural i.e. cotton and soft yak, and in colour tones with nature evoking names like Parsley and Sandstone. A must have book for those who love handmade fashion and working with yarn. Recommended




Children’s Picture Books by Tom McLaughlin


I have added a new review of a picture book called Up, Up and Away by Tom McLaughlin, it joins a previously published review of The Cloudspotter by the same author.



ISBN 978-1-4088-5496-9 The Cloudspotter Author – Tom McLaughlin Published by Bloomsbury in hardback – Release date 18 June 2015 RRP £10.99 A Picture StoryBook for children aged up to …

Source: Children’s Picture Books by Tom McLaughlin



100 little crochet

Guest reviewer and crochet worker extraordinaire, Sue P from N W Leicestershire, UK reviews craft title 100 Little Crochet Gifts To Make

Publisher: Search Press
Edition: BC Paperback
Publication: 19 April 2016
ISBN 13/EAN: 9781782213338
Size: 216 x 280 mm
Illustrations: 500
Pages: 240
RRP Price: £12.99

The book cover is bright and colourful, and the mixture of illustrations make it an attraction. It certainly draws attention to anyone who is interested in crochet.

The range of projects is very comprehensive, from toys, hats, jewellery and hearts to name a few. It gives a wide variety to choose from. I particularly like the break down, explaining how to crochet for beginners and the techniques used to help all levels of skill. There is also a variety of yarns used, from very fine to chunky. This makes crocheting more interesting using different textures.

The instructions are well set out and are self explanatory. I also like the coloured illustrations of the finished project on every page. The coloured edge of the pages and numbers one third down is practical and makes it easy to look up. The indexed coloured illustrations at the front gives a quick reference to your project and page required for the instructions. The detailed assembly instructions are set out well and are very detailed.

I think this book has good full colour photos and comprehensive illustrations and would appeal to any craft person interested in crochet from beginners to experienced.


Sue P is pictured right in full crocheting flow!

Thank you so much for a full and thorough review, Sue!

*Also available 100 Little Knitted Gifts to Make

girl vs boy band

Book Review GIRL vs BOY BAND by Harmony Jones

Girl vs Boy Band THE RIGHT TRACK

Author – Harmony Jones

Published by Bloomsbury in Paperback –

Release date 02 June 2016

RRP £6.99

A Children’s Fictional Book – for 12 + years

Overview: The first title in the Girl vs Boy Band series. Lark is twelve and music is her world. Lark secretly writes songs and is always keeping look out for ideas for new lyrics. Mum, Donna, is a music producer and divorced from dad, a session musician, who lives away. The boy band from England, called Abbey Road, are Donna’s new proteges who come to live, study and work alongside Lark and Donna in their LA home. Lark is excited at first, but things do not run smoothly with the boys

Comment and Guide:
Lark is very much the central character and author, Harmony Jones, makes the most of the idea of this young girl being right in the thick of what is deemed as an artistically enriched, glamorous lifestyle. Thus appealing to the adolescent readers who may imagine their idols being close in their own everyday lives, and who daydream, in those quieter moments, of fandom passions around pop star crushes and their music. Yet in the author’s efforts to convey a rather soft moral message about ‘keeping it real’ she decides the way to do it is to make the personalities of the boys rather shallow. Though written in third person perspective, we only get a feel for other characters through the responses of Lark. However, Jones manages to avoid the stereo typifying of a spoiled brat kind of existence for Lark, by introducing melancholy surrounding the marriage split of her parents and the concern Lark has for Donna (and to some degree herself) when involved in music business dramas and legal matters to do with the boys. There we have it! It’ll not win any prize awards for fiction but there is just about enough here to be excited about the continuation of the story in a new title from the series in Summer 2017


High-End Kitchen Business PROVENCALE is TSS BotM for June 2016

After having a face-to-face meeting with Provencale founder, Ian Philliskirk, TSS Ed. decides to profile Ian as well as his company in this Business of the Month article, as Ian is very much the embodiment of the Provencale business

ian philliskirk - founder of Provencale

Ian Philliskirk – founder amd owner of Midland’s based Provencale

About Ian and Provencale
Please meet, Ian, a personable man, a no fuss professional, who has well and truly earned his stripes within the KBB industry. Not just as a business owner but as a fitter, a designer and a planner. He is a small business supporter and commentator and a known community figure in his long established surrounds of South Derbyshire. Ian has 35 years of total involvement in the kitchen industry as a whole. Ian has valued connections with other skilled workers and chooses to deal with only one or two tried and tested suppliers/brands with a reputation for manufacturing quality, and who offer Ian a high standard of customer service that he can pass on to clients

The Product
Complete fitted kitchens including related building works i.e. flooring, lighting etc. and the supply and installing of contemporary domestic style fitted kitchens including taps, sinks, worktops and integrated appliances. Service includes, the designing process and the planning and ongoing project management and customer liaising. Ian also offers handmade, bespoke kitchens

Provencale frontage, Church Street, Swadlincote

Provencale frontage, Church Street, Swadlincote

The Place
Provencale concentrates purely on the domestic market operating within areas of the Midlands UK. The premises/showroom (situated in Swadlincote town centre) has a fully fitted and fully functioning kitchen and visits here are to be made by appointment. Swadlincote is near to the NWLeics/South Derbyshire borders and so is easily accessible from the A42/M42, and the A38 (close to Burton Upon Trent). Ian will also travel out to Midland’s customers directly, his business reaches as far north as the Derbyshire Peaks and drops down as far south as Birmingham

showroom, low light setting

The Price
Choosing Provencale is expensive in comparison to buying your kitchen from Magnet Kitchens as an example (a comparison TSS makes, not Ian). Ian makes no bones about placing himself at this end of the market. He says his kitchen carcasses are MFC and doors are laminated (in the main) using the latest technologies, and, as well as the high-end spec of the kitchen fixtures and fitments, the level of skilled workmanship and the personal service he provides; by involving his clients at every stage, must reflect in the overall costing. It is a complete service


The Promotion

Latest news from Provencale is the addition of Laura Ashley kitchens to the portfolio. Ian says this is a range of beautiful soft colour finishes. Coming soon to Provencale Showroom a Laura Ashley Kitchen installation. Images from a range of Laura Ashley Kitchens above

Swadlincote community

As already mentioned and acknowledging again that Ian is a treasure in his local community, and so a further string to his bow, is that the Provencale showroom, with its fully working kitchen and table and seating space doubles up as a private function space available for hire. For example: workers involved in a local community project have held, and are holding fun and informal meetings there. Provencale and its quaint, off street courtyard setting is often the hub of Swadlincote events, and the kitchen plays hosts to regular cookery demonstrations from local chefs

If you’ve enjoyed getting to know Ian and his kitchen business called Provencale – Visit the Facebook Page and give it a LIKE

Ian and Provencale also receives more positive profiling and showcasing at Houzz


Competition is open to UK Midlands based page likers and sharers of Provencale on Facebook only. When the page arrives at 500 LIKES there will giveaway of TWO luxury food hampers containing local Derbyshire products and some luxury foods. LIKE the page and share the competition post to be in with a chance of winning. Prize winners will be required to visit the Swadlincote showroom to collect their hampers so please ensure that you would be able and free to do so if you happen to be a winner before entering.
Please note: TSS is not operating this competition, if you should have any queries contact Ian directly on 01283 224633 or email


Kirstie Smith as Peggy Sawyer

Stage Review – 42nd STREET at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre, UK

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This show is absolutely charming. It is tuneful and colourful and there is plenty to enjoy. However, Broadway flair is somewhat drip-fed rather than is wildly unleashed in the House. Pitching and pacing is a bit slow to start but there are some special moments, especially in the more clipped and classier Act 2

Such love bubble musicals, like 42nd, where main characters prefer to either court their own egos than be appreciative of the business (as diva, Dorothy, demonstrates in this one). Or, are more fanciful with the idea of being a star rather than embracing the reality of it (as is the case with 42nd’s starlet Peggy Sawyer) … are successful reoccurring themes within this genre when it comes to their character portrayals, and across many decades of musical theatre writing

The cast is large, and the choreography brings in some traditional ‘top hat and tails’ style tap dancing steps and ballet moves and positioning. Girls sing in high pitched American tones synonymous to musical comedy holding back the sounds in their throats to a large degree. The male singing is hearty and rich. Speech is deliberately affected. Musical direction and the music playing is well rehearsed and professional and the sound technician has achieved excellent aural balance within the theatre’s walls. The design work is a real triumph, wardrobe and the changing sets really enhance scenes

Two stand out performances for me: Kirstie Smith as Peggy and Josh Smith as Andy Lee

The Coventry Musical Theatre Society (CMTS) is long established, and it is obvious, because of the quality of this production overall, that they have a supportive team behind them and many loyal and talented members. It is evident that there is some good work going on

Review by theatre critic, Debra Hall who attended press night of 42nd Street in an official capacity on 23 June 2016

Production Photography supplied by CMTS


Jersey Royals and two hob cooking potato recipes

About Jersey Royals: Jersey Royal New Potatoes ‘Jersey Royals‘ have Designation of Origin protection (PDO) under the EU Protected Food Name Scheme. The scheme identifies locally produced food and drink products which have a unique heritage. In the case of Jersey Royals, we are presented with a premium, branded, new potato which dates back over 130 years of being uniquely grown, cultivated and harvested on the island. The PDO ensures that it is only Royals grown in Jersey can be called “Jersey Royals”. The Jersey Royal Company says ‘The unique Jersey soils are treated with vraic (seaweed) and early crops are grown on the steep slopes. Each potato is lifted and packed fresh to guarantee the unique and nutty flavour the Jersey Royal Potato is famous for”


Jersey Royals are a fibre-packed, low GI carb that keep you fuller for longer and are arguably the healthiest potato on the market. Asda supermarkets states that the Top Seven Health Benefits of Jersey Royals are:

  • that they’re high in vitamin C for healthy teeth, bones and hair
  • that they have more fibre than courgettes, strawberries or cornflakes
  • have less calories than rice or pasta (21 calories per serving)
  • and less fat than couscous
  • that Jersey Royals are a completely unprocessed wholefood
  • and are, of course, 100% gluten free
  • is a Green coloured (Food Standard Agency)
     Nutrition Traffic Light


It can get unbearably hot in the kitchen sometimes, when cooking, and so better to prepare something delicious on the hob that can be created in under half an hour. Turkey roasts we always associate with High Days and Holidays and we don’t think to serve turkey with seasoned potatoes and sprouts in the summertime, so the first recipe is a pan-fried version of this classic combination. The second recipe is a tasty potato omelette recipe using a classic mix of fresh herbs, and served, unashamedly, with baked beans and a dash of brown sauce!


600g Baby Jersey Royal New Potatoes (available from Asda in 400g sized bags and from Asda’s Extra Special Range)
8 x Asda British Turkey Breast Mini Fillet Pieces
500g Sprouts
Light Olive Oil
Garlic Infused Olive Oil
Salt and Black Pepper for seasoning


FIGURE 1 Prepare the JRs and the Sprouts as described in 1 and 2 of the instructions below

1. Rinse the Jersey Royals and cut each potato in halve. There is no need to remove the skins by scraping or peeling if that is your preference, but my family prefer them without their skins in this particular recipe
2. Prepare the sprouts by cutting off the bottom and removing the top leaf layer, and rinsing under the tap

3. Place potatoes and sprouts in a pan, cover with water, add a pinch of salt, heat to boiling and parboil for approx 10 mins. In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a griddle pan and add the turkey fillets and fry

3. Drain the vegetables and add to the griddle pan with the turkey. As it all begins to brown, add a good sized glug of the garlic infused oil and drizzle a little more olive oil if required. Sprinkle over a pinch of salt and use milled black pepper – Cook until the oil is absorbed and everything is nice and brown.







600g Baby Jersey Royal New Potatoes (available from Asda in 400g sized bags and from Asda’s Extra Special Range)
2 or 3 sprigs of Fresh Parsley, Fresh Sage, Fresh Rosemary and Fresh Thyme
a teaspoon of Za’atar mix (optional)
4 eggs (beaten)
80g of a cheese of your choosing (sliced or grated)
Light Olive Oil
Garlic Infused Olive Oil
Salt and Black Pepper for seasoning


FIGURE 2: Prepare the JRs and the herbs as described in 1 and 2 of the instructions below

1. Rinse the Jersey Royals and cut each potato in half. There is no need to remove the skins by scraping or peeling if that is your preference, but my family prefer them without their skins in this particular recipe
2. Rinse the herb sprigs under running water and pat dry on kitchen paper, then remove leaves from the stalks, chop up finely then add the Za’atar mix and season it well (see pic above)


3. Place potatoes in a pan, cover with water, add a pinch of salt, heat to boiling and parboil for approx 10 mins

4. Drain the potatoes. Heat the olive oil and the garlic infused oil in a large frying pan, add the potatoes a sprinkling of salt and fry for approx 10 mins until they begin to brown

IMG_41715. Add the herb mix. Add seasoning


6. Pour the beaten egg over the contents in the frying pan and allow it to cook for a minute or two before adding the cheese

7. Take a large spactula and flip the setting omelette over

8. Everything should be golden in colour, the cheese melted, and the egg should be cooked through before slicing into segments and turning out onto plate






the birthday party

Stage Review of The Birthday Party – A LCT Production

Approaching the last few days of a long tour across the UK and Ireland which started in Cheltenham in the middle of February, and which ends in Coventry this weekend on June 18. I have reviewed a couple of shows previously under Michael Cabot’s direction (Equus and Absent Friends) but this falls some way short in comparison, and is not as good as I had expected or had hoped

Setting is a room inside a seaside boarding house. Proprietors, Meg and Petey have only one long term guest staying, named Stanley, who rarely ventures out. Therefore, the arrival of two physically strong male guests: one middle-aged, confident, who engages in anecdotal storytelling about himself all the time, while the second guy is younger; uptight; intense, who both become a distraction for Meg (albeit a mild one as there’s not much going on between the ears there). Whereas their arrival and possible intention is not so much of a surprise for Petey (probably).
The presence of the two men is hugely unsettling and confusing for Stanley however; but he’s not quite sure why!

An impromptu, seemingly innocent birthday party put on for Stanley turns what is already a squalid and miserable atmosphere, into something more secretive and sinister

The play is properly weird, and, at the same time, properly mundane, and what seems to have passed unnoticed in this body of work is that the onlookers eye balls need exercise in their sockets and the brain needs stimulating over the course of three Acts. With the stage lighting being fixed when on, or turned off completely, this did not really work on The Belgrade’s traditional main stage setting with its auditorium seating arrangement as it is. I am sure the experience would be quite different for audiences seated in a smaller venue, around, or closer to the what little stage action is occurring, but for me, in the stalls at the back, it became painful to remain focused and engaged

The dialogue is sometimes super slow and builds in scenes to being fast and fluid, but as far as the text goes it is all there and Harold Pinter is not a builder of personality, or does he seek sympathy for characters in quite the same way as Arthur Miller. Pinter is not in anyway condescending to his audience as frequently as Edward Albee. Nonetheless, I did not like this play, and the script is potentially not the main reason why on this occasion, to me it lacked a certain kind of authenticity and sadly performances are nothing to shout home about. A very average night spent at the theatre I’m afraid

Sharing a video presentation featuring the London Classic Theatre (LCT) production of 2016

Review by theatre critic, Debra Hall, who attended press night of The Birthday Party at The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry on Tuesday June 14, 2016

Hairspray 3

Stage Review of HAIRSPRAY at Lichfield Garrick Theatre

With a mix of dialogue (General American) and music/lyrics by American composer, Mark Shaiman and lyricist Scott Whitman, these melodious songs are played by a live ‘orchestra’ and we see Kitty Roberts starring as the vivaciously funny and morality driven, Tracy Turnblad, wearing that distinctive oversized wig. Roberts is just perfect in the lead role

What comes across in the performances is that everyone is enjoying what they do. The solos are strong, and backing singing is very good, but when tunes require more voices one or two are not quite hitting the right key. Generally, however, there’s some quality singers in this set up, the song ‘I know where I’ve been,’ is stunning – such ‘nice pipes’ Marsha Webbe, and some great harmonies from others. And the song ‘You’re Timeless to Me’ is another highlight, a duet by Edna (Mark Skett) and Wilbur (Tony Orbell). Edna is traditionally a female character played by a man, and Skett is just great! His Edna lands somewhere between Les Dawson’s Ada and the theatrical Shirley MacLaine! While Chelsea Greathead plays Tracy’s best pal, Penny Pingleton reminiscently of perhaps a Brady Bunch kid and most definitely Scooby Doo’s Velma. Congratulations for your good work to all five mentioned above

Hairspray 2

Cast members of Hairspray including Front middle; Patrick Jervis as Corny Collins and Front right: Sally Jane Adams as Amber

These more outrageous of caricatures, are, of course, supported by some snazzy and snappy, whiter than white movers; hoppin’-and-a-boppin’ on the Corny Collins Show, sporting exaggerated smiles and boundless enthusiasm. While, comparatively, school detention sees Tracy in with a group of African-American students- and we see a whole new vibe going down! Overall there is some lovely staging and scenery, with detail and special touches, and the wardrobe is excellent. The three black singers with their back combed hair set high, and their velvet dresses are extremely glamorous

Hairspray 1

Cast of Hairspray including Front left – Kitty Roberts as Tracy and Front right –  Helen Gilfoyle as Velma

The youth, spirit and popular culture of the US in the early sixties and its underlying racial tension, is the theme. ‘Hairspray’ is not really equipped to make one think-on, nor is it a capturer of the imagination, nonetheless the music is uplifting, the songs full of character, and the colourful visuals twinned with well designed choreography means there is much to admire with this sizeable and quality production. Therefore, if you’re going this week to the Lichfield Garrick, know your day will end being all the brighter for it

Review by theatre critic, Debra Hall who attended Hairspray at the Lichfield Garrick Theatre on Tuesday 31 May 2016