Friday, 15 August 2014

Get Up And Go Guide To Nottingham

Photo courtesy of Travelodge

Welcome to the City of Nottingham! In association with Travelodge let us confidentially reveal to you our top favourite Nottingham haunts, fabulous secrets and absolute must-sees for your perfect Nottingham day.

First, fuel up for your busy day with the best slap-up fry-up in town at the breakfastalicious Brown Betty’s on St James’s Street, just a close couple of streets away if you book your stay at the Travelodge on Maid Marian Way in the heart of the city centre.

Now you’re all set up to get down to the serious business of shopping! For under-one-roof chain stores including our massive flagship Boots shop plus an indoor market try Victoria Centre, the lovely shops in The Exchange located inside the Council House in the Old Market Square or the beautiful Bridlesmith Gate which leads up to Nottingham designer Paul Smith’s flagship Byard Lane store. For independents, try the extraordinary Ice Nine in the arty area of Hockley for gorgeously-unusual sterling silver jewellery and fun trinkets. For vintage music fans, the second hand vinyl treasure-trove Rob’s Record Mart in Hurt’s Yard is a must.

Lunchtime already and step briefly out of Nottingham and into the enchanting wonderland of The White Rabbit Teahouse on Hound’s Gate. With daintily-beautiful mismatched china teapots and teacups, confidentially, our favourite treat is the adorably-indulgent afternoon tea, tiered with sandwiches, jam and cream scones and mini cupcakes. Or try lunch with scenic views of the city in the cafĂ© at Nottingham Castle, for a small entrance fee you can visit the castle’s museum, art gallery and beautiful grounds.

Ready to get scared? Check out the spookily-fascinating Galleries Of Justice Museum, pre-booking is advised, as at the mysterious City of Caves. If you’re staying at the Wollaton Travelodge you’re right on the doorstep for free entry to the glorious Wollaton Hall which starred as Wayne Manor in Batman film The Dark Knight Rises, read the exciting story of how it all happened here

Dinner time already and you’d better be hungry for the awesome Annie’s Burger Shack! Located in Nottingham’s beautiful Lace Market area, these epic mouth-watering burgers are the most popular in town, so make sure you book well in advance! Follow up with drinks at legendary ‘England’s Oldest Inn’ Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem or if cocktails are your cup of tea, follow our confidential clues to the superb secret speakeasy Boilermaker bar.

Night time and let us entertain you with top class theatre and shows at the Royal Centre. Capital FM Arena is within easy walking distance of the city centre where you can catch entertainment’s biggest names or head next door to the National Ice Centre where you can skate in the footsteps of Nottingham Olympians Torvill and Dean. Fancy a dance? Try the famous ‘sticky floor’ at Rock City or end up all the way back in St James’s Street at the Cookie Club where Nottingham’s singing-songwriting superstar Jake Bugg has been seen hanging out.

Finally, here are Five FREE Things To Do for that genuine Nottingham experience:

1. Strike a bow and arrow/raised arm clap pose at the Robin Hood/Brian Clough statue
2. Engage someone with the traditional Nottingham greeting ‘Aye Up Me Duck’
3. Skip (carefully!) through the fountains in the Old Market Square and watch the trams go by whilst the Little John bell chimes in the Council House.
4. Visit the plaque of Nottingham’s most loved busker Xylophone Man who couldn’t actually really play the xylophone at all.
5. Never, never, never refer to football club Nottingham Forest as ‘Notts Forest’.

Have a fantastic time in our City! From Nottingham Confidential with love x

You can check out our full Get Up And Go Guide to Nottingham together with full details of all Nottingham and natioanl Travelodge hotels on their official website here

Monday, 26 May 2014

Nine Inch Nails At Nottingham Capital FM Arena REVIEW

Photo © Nottingham Confidential
After calling it a day in 2009, with a twenty year career that spawned countless releases, Grammy awards and worldwide recognition behind him, Trent Reznor has revived the Nine Inch Nails name for another worldwide trek in 2014.

Nine Inch Nails has always been one man (Reznor) on record, with a huge roster of talented musicians joining him for live performances – like an electro-gothic Mike Oldfield. Certain members of this backing band roster have become fan favourites, and it's nice to see two of them back in the band for this tour - Robin Finck and Alessandro Cortini. So with all of the ingredients in place for a classic return, thousands of excited fans piled into the Capital FM Arena to experience the show they thought might never happen again.

Never one to disappoint, Trent's 2014 show covers all areas of the NIN catalogue. Newer material from recent years such as Everything, Disappointed and All Time Low from 2013's Hesitation Marks album sit well with the audience, and don't seem out of place compared to the much older and more well known “greatest hits” represented tonight. The band have been playing a slightly different set each night, with the classic 1989 track Terrible Lie being a treat for the Nottingham audience only so far. There are certain songs one would expect to hear from Trent tonight and indeed he did deliver the classics Closer, Head Like a Hole and March of the Pigs to a frenzied crowd. The set list perfectly marries the old and new seamlessly, keeping current and old school fans alike on side.

Having seen Trent performing as Nine Inch Nails back in 2007, I knew that a highlight of the show would be the song Hurt, the band's most famous song (which you may also know from the 2003 cover by Johnny Cash.) From the seminal 1994 album The Downward Spiral, Hurt has always been thought of as Trent at his most honest and vulnerable. Tonight at Capital FM Arena, NIN closed the show with the song, thousands of voices singing along in unison up to the final crash of drums – a truly had-to-be-there moment, with an atmosphere that cannot be described in words.

The crowd tonight were clearly glad that NIN are back on stage, and judging by the performance, so were they.

Photo © Nottingham Confidential

Monday, 19 May 2014

Splendour 2014 PREVIEW

Nottingham looks all set up for a very happy Saturday indeed on July 19 when Splendour Festival returns to Wollaton Park with head-liners the Happy Mondays and Tom Odell.

Bringing their famous party atmosphere to Nottingham, Madchester legends the Happy Mondays' full reunited original line up includes dancer Bez and promises a set including hits such as ‘Wrote for Luck’, ‘Step On’ and ‘Hallelujah’.

Appearing at Splendour in front of up to 20,000 people will be singer-songwriter Tom Odell's biggest headline performance to date. The No 1 artist and Brits award-winner will play singles from his debut album ‘Long Way Down’ including hits ‘Another Love’, ‘Grow Old With Me’, ‘I Know’ and ‘Hold Me’.

Scouting for Girls, Foxes and Ron Pope will also be joining the headline acts on the main stage whilst The Boomtown Rats with lead singer Bob Geldof will headline the Confetti Stage which also features Reverend and the Makers, The Rifles, A Plastic Rose, Uncle Frank, and Keto.

“After last year’s barnstorming headline set by local hero Jake Bugg we’re delighted to give another rising young artist a chance to play to such a large crowd. Tom Odell has become a big star over the past year while the Happy Mondays are a brilliant live act and a real crowd favourite." said George Akins of promoter DHP Family. "We've added an exciting mix of established acts and rising stars to the bill. It's important to get a variety of acts at Splendour for a different experience at each of the three stages. I think Foxes will become a big star and will be a big hit with younger people in the audience while Scouting for Girls and Reverend and the Makers will appeal to fans looking for melodic indie-rock."

With comedy acts, dozens of market stalls and a children’s fun fair, Splendour will also feature the winners of the Future Sound of Nottingham competition who will appear in the opening slot on the main stage.

Tickets for Splendour are on sale now priced from £15-£42.50. All the latest news about the festival can be found on the official Splendour website

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Natalie Imbruglia In Things We Do For Love At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

It's a tale of unrequited love and requited love, illicit passion, ardent desire and secret, pervy admiration and it's into this hilariously lovable bizarre love rectangler Nineties Alan Ayckbourn revival that Neighbours legend and worldwide pop sensation the divine Natalie Imbruglia makes her stage acting debut.

Jolly hockey sticks ex-prefect and confirmed singleton Barbara - played like a magnificently perfectionist Titan by the extraordinary Claire Price - lives in the middle flat of her converted house and in a tantalising peep-show stage set up which reveals just the calf-skimming floor of the flat above and the ceiling of the basement flat below, home of lovelorn Barbara fan and DIY lackey Hamish. Into Barbara's inch perfect conversion world skips her sweetie-pie old school friend and freshly engaged Nikki - a breathlessly animated and Brit accent-perfect Natalie Imbruglia followed by Edward Bennett as hunky Scot fiancé lover-man Hamish to temporarily live in the flat above.

But brewing beneath the conversational social niceties, the tea and sherry and nibbles and nice blouses is a crazy-houseful of animal passions, let loose by Barbara's insanely disastrous dinner party, which confidentially ends up hosting possibly one of the best on-stage drunk scenes EVER by Simon Gregor as the gloriously peculiar lovesick Gilbert.

With cosy and civilised domesticity mixing dangerously with rampant lust that confidentially leads to possibly the funniest and most outrageously-choreographed on-stage lovers' fight scene EVER, this play is an acting-quartet triumph by the cast as Barbara and her heart-breakingly heart-meltingly passionate too-close-for-comfort subarban neighbours

Love, laughs, fighting and an Aussie goddess in the flesh, three curtain calls from an enraptured audience can't be wrong, there's not many things not to lurrve about the most bonkers and anarchically-romantic love story in town, fall in love with it at Nottingham Theatre Royal until this Saturday.

Things We Do For Love is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 3rd May. Full details including ticket prices can be found on the Theatre Royal website here

Friday, 25 April 2014

Hambleton Bakery Opens In West Bridgford

Baker Julian Carter, left and owner Tim Hart

If you prefer your daily bread to be traditionally made, preservative and additive free yet still last to up to a week whilst tasting honest-to-goodness wholesomely scrumptiously crustalicious, then the latest Hambleton bakery shop opened by local gourmet supremo Tim Hart of Nottingham's Hart's restaurant and Hambleton Hall is sure to fulfil all your specialist loaf needs- as well as any additional tart, cakes, bun and pastries cravings.

Patient, peckish queues spilled out of the shop into the seasonal April showers today to sample the bakery's range of artisan breads baked using stoneground flour and slow fermentation methods which maximise vitamins and mineral content leading to much more nutritious loaves.

It's a fabulous new foodie destination for Melton Road but why was West Bridgford in particular chosen? "We found a site that we like where there's other nice food retailers, a really good butcher, fruit and veg shop and a fishmonger where we buy our fish from," said Tim Hart. " It's a good place to pop in and you can often get a car in here. We thought of different places but we worked out West Bridgford would be the best spot."

Master Baker Julian Carter, voted 'Baker of the Year' at the prestigious National Industry awards (with Hambleton Bakery itself winner of Britain's Best Bakery 2012) agreed that West Bridgford was ideal for the bakery's new shop which also has retail outlets in Exton, Stamford and Oakham.

"People tend to go into the city centre not to buy food but to buy clothes and other things and I think you need to be near other good food retail shops like fishmongers and then it's a destination," he said. "We had so much demand from customers that wanted the bread that we opened our first shop in Oakham, that was a great success so we opened two more and now West Bridgford, I think it's perfect here."

It's a beautiful little shop packed with tempting and tasty treats."We want to appeal to everyone, not just bread fans, but anyone that likes bread at all and so we offer a wide range. But we're in control of it from start to finish from the pastries to the fillings, everything is made by us," said Julian. The specialist breads on sale are more expensive than supermarket breads but the extra quality and health benefits justify the price, he adds. "People will happily spend three pounds on a cup of coffee and that's for one person but they can spend the same on a loaf of bread that will feed four people for two days.

"When you stone-grind flour everything comes through. When you roller mill everything is stripped away bar the white flour, you're stripping away the wheat-germ and the important stuff. "

"The other aspect that makes the difference in terms of nutrition is Julian's long fermentation process," adds Tim Hart. "Industrial bread is made very fast with a lot of yeast and our bread is made very slowly and during very long fermentation the gluten in the bread is transformed into something much more digestible and so you get better digestion, better nutrition and better taste. Bread was always made very slowly until they invented these new processes."

Confidentially, the lemon and treacle tarts and the Campagne Bloomer and Hambleton Local loaves are catching our eye, whilst the Rutland Pippin, invented for Britain's Best Bakery Competition, an apple-shaped crusty dough encasing Lincolnshire sausage meat, ham hock and Stilton had already sold out, sigh. But which is their favourite Hambleton bread?

"My favourite is the sourdough," said Tim."If I was to take a loaf home, I'd always grab the sourdough, it's a bit of everything, you can make a sandwich with it, you can toast it or even have it on its own, it's got a good strong flavour and it smells lovely."

"I think I'd like to mention the Borodinsky which is a rye bread," said Tim Hart. Brilliant with smoked fish and it has a great crumpety texture."

Hambleton Bakery is now open on Melton Road West Bridgford, full details can be found on their official website

Monday, 21 April 2014

Hit The Deck Festival Nottingham REVIEW

The annual Hit The Deck festival, held over four venues in the city centre, promised a packed day of punk, rock and metal, and boy did it deliver.

With plenty of Nottingham talent on show, HTD spans all of the top local venues; The Forum, Stealth, Rescue Rooms and of course, the world famous Rock City on Talbot Street. Boasting 100 bands there was something for everyone.

Our first band of the day, local punk influenced rockers Eva Plays Dead, performed in the basement at Rock City. Front-woman Tiggy did a superb job of getting the audience pumped up for the rest of the day. Her haunting vocals and strong stage presence commanded the whole room's attention. With great songs and four supremely talented musicians, they will definitely be going places in rock.

Next we headed upstairs to Rock City's Main Room, to check out Australian band Hands like Houses. Hailing from Canberra, they play melodic punk influenced rock with thought-provoking lyrics and an energetic stage show. The crowd reaction was huge, especially for 2pm on a Sunday afternoon – a fact gratefully noted by their lead vocalist, a charismatic and quite dashing expert on working the microphone.

The festival itself was packed with young and trendy fans, with plenty to catch their eye. Stalls from the scene's top brands such as Atticus Clothing lined Talbot street, with a marquee pitched next to the Black Cherry Lounge selling merchandise from all of the day's bands. The layout was well arranged, allowing fans and bands to mingle and shop in a friendly, stress-free atmosphere.

Having spent some time over at Rock City, it was time to head over to The Forum to see exciting new band People on Vacation. Consisting of singer-songwriter Ryan Hamilton and Bowling for Soup front-man Jaret Reddick, POV are in the UK touring their new material in a full band set-up for the first time. Backed by local boys Michael Richards and Rob Lane (of Teenage Casket Company and Straight to Video fame) Jaret and Ryan's new material went down a storm with the gathered masses. Highlights for me were Lonely Fish (from POV album “The Summer and the Fall”) and an updated rendition of Bowling For Soup's The Bitch Song. Finishing with a gentle cover of Slade's Cum on Feel the Noise, Jaret suggested we stay to watch their touring buddies Patent Pending, and boy, are we glad we did.

Patent Pending turned it up to 11 – no, 12 – with an 8 song half hour set that had The Forum roaring from start to finish, including a “crowd surfing championship” match, male on male intimacy, a guitarist soloing from atop the bar on the opposite side of the room from the stage and a front-man who brings to mind Freddy Mercury when it comes to crowd participation. They have to be seen to be believed. Not usually one for listening to hype, now I've seen them with my own eyes, I have to say it's well deserved.

After a break for dinner, we went back over to Rescue Rooms, where Kris Rowe, lead singer of The Ataris, was preparing for an intimate acoustic set in the bar area. Usually fronting a hard rock band, Kris seemed just at home with nothing but a microphone and a guitar to keep him company. Rowe performed lots of Ataris hits, including a stripped down version of Don Henley's Boys of Summer which was a hit for the band in the early 2000s, on their legendary So Long, Astoria album. I was impressed with Rowe's humility, professing genuine gratitude that so many people had chosen to watch him when there were still bands on in five other rooms. Also impressive was his ability to let the crowd choose the songs he played, rather than relying on a prepared set-list. Kris and the Ataris are working on some more acoustic material to be released this year, which will definitely be worth listening to based on tonight's performance.

As the evening went on, the crowds seemingly began to concentrate into one huge mass. Queues started to form outside Rock City, with doormen frantically checking wristbands. It was head-liner time. This year's head-liners: New York City's Brand New. Brand New have a strong following since their formation in Long Island in 2000, and at Hit The Deck 2014 the were undoubtedly the main draw. Their 90 minute set was peppered with hits and fan favourites such as Gasoline, Millstone, and Okay I Believe You, but My Tommy Gun Don't. Front-man Jesse Lacey was the latest in a long day of incredible front-people, with the crowd fixated on him and his crew from beginning to end.

As the lights went up, a tired, sweaty, but fulfilled crowd made their way outside into the night air, completely spent but completely satisfied. Hit The Deck 2014 was amazing, and based on the smiles and excited chatter as everyone prepared to make their way home, 2015 will be even better.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Play That Goes Wrong At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

If you think you're having a bad day then you really need to go and see The Play That Goes Wrong. Like most bad days, it all starts optimistically enough with Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society enthusiastically staging their amateur production of period murder-mystery drama The Murder At Haversham Manor with an endearingly hammy cast peppered with talcum-powdered-aged hair, notes written on hands and a lovably belief-suspending actor who claps along delightedly whenever the audience applauds him. But after an unfortunate false start, followed by various unlucky mishaps, every few seconds in the play something - or several simultaneous things- go wrong. And confidentially, it's probably the funniest catalogue of absolute unmitigated ill-fated and downright dangerous disasters you'll ever see in your life.

With valiant determination to Stick To The Script Whatever Happens whilst every conceivable nightmare -plus a hundred more problems you wouldn't dare to dream of - crash and hurtle around their ears, the cast gamely stagger on in spite of corpses that can't stay dead no matter how hard they try and heart-stoppingly break-neckingly precarious scenery-induced accidents that result in nothing less than girl-on-girl armed combat whilst a running gag of prop mix-ups leaves the hapless detective/director character resignedly reduced to writing notes on a vase. With a set of keys.

But if that old "Am-Dram theatre going awry"  theme sounds a little bit like familiar territory- and in some ways it is, particularly with the play's occasional Basil Fawlty/Ripping Yarns undertones - it's the incredible side-splitting split-second timing, choreography and ingenuity of this insane physical comedy that lifts it all the way up from likeable-enough silliness to a top-notch ding-dong stellar performance in an absolute classic class of its own.

Deserving a First Class Degree with Honours in Funniness and proving so many wrongs do make a right, lovably shambolic, accidentally anarchic - and don't forget to look out for a dogged little performance from a special guest star from Nottingham who may/may not make it onto the stage -  confidentially, this play can do no wrong in our eyes, do the right thing and catch it at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday this week.

The Play That Goes Wrong is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 29th March 2014. Full details about show times and ticket prices can be found on the Theatre Royal website here

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Miranda Hart: My, What I Call, Live Show At Nottingham Capital FM Arena REVIEW

Clap your breasts in joy and be upstanding and then accidentally fall over for our national comedy Queen of goofiness, galloping and glorious girly fart jokes is in town right now, dividing her subjects into the many who Ardently Revere Her versus the few who are, what I call, wrong.

Plunging onto stage to the strains of the Chesney Hawkes's classic The One and Only mixed with the heady whoops and cheers of thousands and thousands of elated fan-girls and fan-women (plus a few fan-guys) Miranda Hart promptly invited the entire arena to a massive mad-cap feel-good party complete with buffet, catapulted sweets, sing-alongs and wonderfully dodgy dance routines.

"This is the biggest live audience I've played to so far" she tells the sell-out Nottingham Capital FM Arena and launches merrily into her hilarious and huggably-endearing set peppered with wee-wee jokes, playful flirting, delightful audience participation, trademark naughty asides to the camera and some cheekily impressive ad-libbing.

With priceless tales of bumbling awkwardness, camp cavorting and musical theatre jokes "I'm a gay man in a woman's body!" it's a comedy night of epic and magnificent silliness that all wraps up with a very satisfying completeness and to a thrilling standing ovation, but amongst the gags and humour are important messages and themes, the heartfelt encouragement to let go, feel free and enjoy being yourself, to make mistakes, to have more fun, to be more childlike and to hell with it and go ahead and eat that dessert.

Irrepressibly and irresistibly strutting her comedy-goddess stuff, such Miranda-shaped fun is still to be had in Nottingham so clutch your ticket to your bosom and prance, skip and thrust yourself Capital FM Arena-wards for the hot-damn funniest lady show in town.

Miranda Hart is at Nottingham Capital FM Arena Friday March 7, Saturday March 8 including an extra matinee show and Thursday October 16 2014. Full details about ticket availability and prices are available on the Capital FM Arena website here

Sunday, 2 March 2014

EM-Con East Midlands Sci-Fi And Fantasy Convention PREVIEW

Nottingham, get ready to change that light bulb and step up to red alert because this month the city's Albert Hall will be invaded by aliens, fantastical figures and bona fide legends including- count 'em- the ENTIRE cast of cult sci-fi TV show Red Dwarf, smegging smeg!

The first of its kind to be held in the region, EM-Con East Midlands Sci-Fi and Fantasy Convention will also be bringing to Nottingham stars from Doctor Who, Torchwood, Star Wars, Game of Thrones and Star Trek PLUS comedian and Primeval and Death In Paradise star Ben Miller.

Mingling with prominent comic book artists and authors will also be Daleks, Predators and Stormtroopers and together with opportunities for signed autographs and photographs there will be Q&A panels throughout the day where you can put your questions to the casts of Red Dwarf, Doctor Who and Game of Thrones.

It's all promising to be an out of this world event with over thirty stalls in the showroom selling an array of merch and goodies whilst full on fan-girls and boys can really get into the spirit by dressing up as sci-fi characters in the EM-Con Cosplay competition and this fantasy day will even wrap up with an after show party at The Approach bar in Nottingham, so pack up your Space Corps Directive, grab your companion and set the controls for Nottingham Albert Hall, Sunday March 16 2014.

Full details and ticket prices including more information about autograph and photo prices and the after show party are available on the official EM-Con website

***UPDATE*** You can now see our photo album of Em-Con 2014 in glorious technicolor on our Facebook page here

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The Secret Kitchen Cafe

There's something scrumptiously secretive cooking in Sneinton in Nottingham and this innovative project is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK...

The Secret Kitchen was initially set up in 2011 by Marsha Smith to serve both Sneinton locals and beyond with a cafe offering no fixed menu but instead focused on making each meal a freshly cooked 'special' that was tasty, vegetarian and organic or locally sourced wherever possible.

Then last year the kitchen opened the Family Cafe and this innovative and unique latest project actually UPCYCLES donated supermarket food surplus that might otherwise have been thrown away into delicious meals for children and families in return for a donation of either money or time with a super-affordable price list. The aim of the cafe, now open at St Christopher's Church Hall Tuesday-Friday from 4pm-5.30pm, is to set up a space where people can share food and get together as a community to make the most of what they have and to tackle food poverty, offering an alternative to food banks.

Meals include the mouth-watering Melty Crispy Cheese-Avalanched Potato Bakes, Olive Pasta, Cucumber Salad, Garlic Roasties, Pickles and Ginger Cake, Vegetable Pasta Bake and Homemade Apple and Almond Cake, Thai Veg Curry, Veggie Shepherd's Pie and more and more delicious menus being concocted all the time.

Offering affordable food, eaten socially and cooked with lots of love, the project also brings together teachers, police officers, youth workers, parents and anyone they can persuade to come and cook so that kids can see that everyone cooks and eats together. Changing the world, one scoff at a time, it's an incredible and imaginative local project open to all to eat, to help and to share.

Want to volunteer at The Secret Kitchen Cafe? Full details, menus, opening times plus details of the monthly social evening and Marsha's new project The Super Kitchen, a social eating consultancy, can all be found on their official website