by Fiona Duncan-Steer

Recent Posts

The Hilton Nottingham

The Hilton Nottingham

Nottingham Hilton Hotel (formally the prestigious Victoria Hotel) for those of the generation to remember was my recent ‘home for the night ‘as I visited to experience what facilities they had to offer and I was not disappointed… I decided to take along my mum […]

Saco Nottingham- Beautiful Spacious Self-Catered Apartments

Saco Nottingham- Beautiful Spacious Self-Catered Apartments

Susanna and Peter were very welcoming as the first faces we were greeted with upon arrival at Saco Nottingham, located in the affluent Ropewalk/Park Estate border of Nottingham. It was Peter’s first day in training and he did very well in making us feel welcome […]

Birdhouse Cafe, Nottingham

Birdhouse Cafe, Nottingham

The Birdhouse Café located on the corner of Middle Pavement and Weekday Cross, in Nottingham recently opened its doors with owner Dan Shaw present to offer a warm welcome to those who attended the launch evening.  Dan brings a wealth of experience from his background in retail; in particular for designer brands including Burberry, hence his intention for working with local independents in the retail sector, with the hope of bringing together local businesses to provide a cosy space for work and tea breaks, with free Wifi on offer, as well as USB charging points, they encourage you to want to stay as long as you like.   The café has a contemporary feel with artwork produced by local artists donning the walls and is in a fantastic location for ‘people watching’, with its large glass windows looking out across the popular Lace Market area of Nottingham.  Birdhouse Café’s ethos is really about supporting the local Nottingham business community, housing local produce such as Belvoir sparkling presses and juices, 200 Degrees coffee and delicious homemade cakes all sourced locally and bought to you under one roof.  They also have a no plastic policy and serve their teas and coffees in ceramic mugs in-house and encourage you purchase one of their reusable cups made from bamboo.  The Belvoir juices all come in glass bottles and they even sell’ canned’ water!

Commenting on the VIP event and the café’s launch, Dan Shaw, director of Birdhouse Café, said:

“When it comes to launch events, quite often it’s only the big names that get invited but we wanted to do something to show our appreciation for some of Nottingham’s unsung heroes – the people that go out of their way to give something back to the community. That fantastic spirit is something we are really passionate about at Birdhouse Café, not just for our customers but also down to the suppliers we choose to partner with too.

“We want Birdhouse Café to be a welcoming space for all and we’re really looking forward to working with even more local businesses and local talent to help them get the most out of Birdhouse Café, whether that be providing them with a space to sell their products or showcase their artwork on our walls.”

Birdhouse Café is open Monday-Saturday 8.30am-6pm. 

For more on Birdhouse Café, follow @TheBirdhouseUK on Facebook and Instagram.

Any independent brands interested in exhibiting at Birdhouse Café should email

SACO Derby Apartments- The Millhouse

SACO Derby Apartments- The Millhouse

Set in a stunning refurbished mill, Saco have converted what was once a mill house into a set of beautiful self-serviced apartments just a short walk from Derby city centre… Located within a private courtyard behind electric gates the security is high and as this […]

Brewery Experience Day- Brewhouse & Kitchen

Brewery Experience Day- Brewhouse & Kitchen

Masterclasses are quite obviously on trend at the moment and due to their vast array of themes they are also extremely popular group activities to undertake- gin making/cocktail making/flower arranging you name it there’s a masterclass for it, all making for perfect team building or […]

All You Yoga

All You Yoga

I’m so pleased to have recently discovered All You Yoga ran by Lee-ann Cordingley.

As a self-confessed, not by any means expert but enthusiastic yogi, I have practised yoga for many years- different types, different classes, different teachers and have enjoyed all experiences, as I find it really helps me to calm my mind and tones my body at the same time- win win!

Lee-ann invited me to one of her themed classes recently based at the John Godber Centre in Hucknall, Nottingham to try out her class- named Lunar Practise, a salutation to the moon as opposed to the sun, which is often a common practise in yoga.

My friend and I went along to the centre which has free parking after 6pm to the rear (very handy as the class starts at 8pm).  The class was full but with still ample space to swing your arms without knocking out your neighbour.  We were asked to bring our own mats which I own, however blocks and other equipment were provided.  Interestingly this was the first time I was asked to use a yoga strap for foot stretches, something that I found immensely satisfying and will buy for myself to continue at home in my own time.

Lee-ann started with a rather loud yoga chant to focus our attention.  Once the practise started, I noticed her very soothing, gentle voice as she explained the moves and each position very well, assisting where necessary.  She gave a very in-depth introduction into what we were to expect from the session and it actually went very quickly, as I must have been in the zone enjoying it all too much.  After our yoga practise we then went into our meditation section of the evening and were told we should put on any additional clothing such as our hoodies, socks etc and cover ourselves in our blankets if we had bought them with us (I had done, as this is one of my favourite parts of any yoga session!) we get to lie back on our mats, close our eyes, breathe deeply and relax…there have been classes I have attended in the past where at this point some folk in the class have actually fallen asleep- I know this because they let out a great big snort.

The meditation part of the program (or savasana) allows you to re-connect with your breathe, your body and yourself after working hard in your practise and positioning.  It is almost like a “well done you deserve this rest and recuperation now.” 

Following our savasana we were then offered the opportunity to write in our journals- a really lovely touch to end a yoga class and something I have not encountered before but really liked. Lee-ann provided us with our own booklets explaining a few main yoga poses, a few tips and techniques on healthy living and there was even space in the back to write about our positive intentions and to doodle and let our minds be free and wander.

That evening I slept like a baby having returned home for around 10pm, I climbed straight into bed in such a relaxed and content state I’m sure I fell asleep with a smile on my face 😊


More information on All You Yoga and the class timetable can be found on their website:  

Brewhouse & Kitchen – New Menu

Brewhouse & Kitchen – New Menu

Brewhouse and Kitchen recently opened in Nottingham in the popular West Bridgford area located directly on Trent Bridge over looking the river Trent, so the perfect location for drinks in Summer with a view, local to the vibrant centre of Bridgford and near all of […]

Mike Lawrence Holistic Therapies

Mike Lawrence Holistic Therapies

Mike Lawrence has been hailed in the media as having a ‘gift’  being the ‘go-to’ person when considering a holistic treatment… Treatments advertised on Mike’s website range from stress management and life coaching to cognitive behavioural solutions and Chinese therapies.  Many of these therapies are […]

Acupuncture at Acu Spirit

Acupuncture at Acu Spirit

Acu Spirit Healing Centre situated on Wollaton Street in the centre of Nottingham state that they are dedicated to maintaining a balance of body and mind using a holistic approach catered to the patient. 

Bing -the owner recently invited me along to experience a consultation and treatment and  having heard a lot about the positive benefits of Chinese medicine, I was intrigued to know more…

The centre is fairly small and intimate with a reception area and display cabinet full to the brim of Chinese herbal medicines and teas and to my delight I was offered a cup of white tea on arrival taken of course without milk or sugar- just as is.  I instantly felt as though I had entered a healthy environment and was at the very beginning of my Chinese holistic health journey.

Bing the owner and practitioner specialising in acupuncture, asked me to complete an in-depth form about my health and then we began my consultation.  For years I have suffered with digestive/stomach issues being passed off by Western doctors as IBS – which can cover all manner of things and cannot be cured- simply managed.  Made worse by stress, certain foods, alcohol or general unhealthy living I have had to learn to manage it as best I can and now know the signs of a pending flair up.   Having made my way through all kinds of prescribed medicine and blood tests over the years, the best results have always come from natural, alternative therapies and so I was completely open to hearing what Bing had to suggest. 

Bing’s diagnostic techniques are both interesting and impressive, he will be able to pin point where your issues are on your body and get to the root of the causes just by going through a series of questions, feeling your pulse ( to which he will close his eyes and concentrate), look at your face /skin and relate this to the five elements of Chinese astrology- metal, wood, water, fire and earth.  

The treatment room is also small and cosy but warm with soft mood lighting.  I was asked to lay on the couch, relax, close my eyes and take a few deep breaths.  Bing spent some time looking at my posture and the alignment of my body, shaking my feet to see where they fell and walking up and down from my head to my toes correctly diagnosing that I have long standing pelvic issues (I was born with ‘clicky hips’ and had to wear a splint for the first two years of my life), also noticing that I tend to stand on one leg more than the other, which has subtly made my posture lop sided- something that my osteopath already stated a few months before!

My acupuncture session began and lasted 45 minutes.   For those not experienced in this popular Chinese treatment, acupuncture aims to promote all aspects of health and well-being; physical, mental and emotional.  Good health is a positive state rather than merely the absence of illness or pain.  In the view of traditional Chinese philosophy, this positive state of health depends on the smooth flow and balance of the ‘chi’ – our body’s motivating energy – as it moves through a series of channels under our skin.  The flow of chi can become blocked or put out of balance by physical or emotional factors such as infection, trauma, poor nutrition, anger, grief or stress, resulting in illness.

Very fine acupuncture needles are inserted at points along the channels of energy appropriate to the condition being treated.  Thus the body’s own healing system is stimulated and the correct balance restored.  The aim is to treat the cause of the condition as well as your symptoms, often resulting in (or leading to) a more permanent solution to your health problems.

I received the fine needles mostly on the right side of my body, in my fore-arms, legs, feet and my third eye (forehead between my eyes).  You can feel them going in slightly and some areas are more sensitive than others, but once in you very quickly forget they are there and do not cause any discomfort if you lay still and relax.

Bing then left the room and set the mood lighting to my colour of choice – this is forced downtime if anything for the busy, so an excuse to lay still and not be able to go anywhere for 45 minutes of your life which isn’t a bad thing!

I was told that this treatment can bring out all kinds of emotions if causing a blockage in your mind/body and he was correct, as I did feel extremely emotional at one point- it came from nowhere and I couldn’t avoid the tears.  Having asked Bing if that was normal following the treatment he stated that yes he sees it a lot- some people literally release everything in that room and feel so much better afterwards  – like a weight had been lifted.  This may not happen in just your first session- it may take a few goes, but will be different for everyone.

Interestingly Bing also mentioned that as there is a lot of emotion and energy released in his treatment room, he has installed an large extractor fan to suck out all of that energy to cleanse the room ready for his next patient!

I have since booked a series of sessions at Acu Spirit which include 5 sessions of acupuncture with 2 free and this includes a consultation and a lifestyle plan for £190.00

I’d highly recommend trying it for yourself and at least booking in for a consultation whatever your reason – Bing is extremely knowledgeable in a lot of areas and also offers various types of massages, cupping and other treatments within the centre.

Fiona Duncan-Steer

The Hockley Arts Club, Nottingham

The Hockley Arts Club, Nottingham

My recent visit to The Hockley Arts Club in Nottingham took place at lunchtime on a Friday- the perfect way to spend a few hours winding down at the end of a busy working week… Hidden away behind the busy streets of Nottingham’s Hockley area […]

My Diary

Belvoir Castle

Belvoir Castle

Belvoir Castle has been on my list to visit for years and so when I was recently invited for a tour of the castle and gardens this June, I was delighted to accept…

My fiancé and I checked the weather leading up to our Sunday visit and were pleased to see a scorcher of a day was forecast, so we planned a picnic with our new wicker basket, complete with china crockery and napkins – well if you’re going to do it, do it properly!

After checking into the ticket office, we walked through a tree lined pathway, which led to the crossroads to which you could choose which garden/trail you visited – we opted to do ‘The Duchesses Garden’ and a good choice it was to, as this turned out to be our most favourite of them all and the destination choice of our picnic a little later in the day.

The four acre garden (rediscovered in 1970 by Frances, the Dowager Duchess of Rutland) is within a valley with stone steps leading down to a small pond with an elegant statue at the foot and beautiful flowers, plants and trees along the way.  The top of the hill featured an unusual structure- ‘The Moss House’, built in 1818 and restored again in 2014.

We then found ourselves in ‘The Hermits Garden’, a seven acre plot adjoining ‘The Duchesses Garden’, which we were pleased to learn had just undergone a huge clearing, regeneration programme, which is clearly an ongoing project and something we look forward to revisiting in years to come, when it has matured.

After doing a U-turn, we then found ourselves in ‘The Japanese Woodland’, aptly names due to the amount of Japanese and Chinese plants in the area.   As the area is again within a  valley dip, it provides a natural shelter for many exotic plants that thrive there.

A steep walk led us to ‘The Rose Garden’, where for the first time the astounding first sight of Belvoir Castle is awaiting- what an impressive view!

Various statues live in the grounds of Belvoir, including the striking statue of ‘Winter’ by Caius Gabriel Cibber and a further six statues in ‘The Rose Garden’, which amazingly are some of the oldest statues in England and the current roses you see there were all planted by the current Duchess of Rutland- Emma.

The pathway from the rose garden then led us around the castle, offering beautiful views over Leicestershire, eventually leading to the castle entrance…

Pre-booked tours of the castle do take place regularly (timings are all on their website), however we opted to take a leisurely walk around ourselves and there were several friendly tour guides along the way to offer assistance or answer any questions, advising the best route to take to ensure you didn’t miss anything.

Interestingly the family of Belvoir have resided in the castle unbroken for almost a thousand years and is the ancestral home of the Dukes of Rutland.  The land was a gift from William The Conqueror and many works of art and portraits don the walls of past kings and queens, giving you a real feel of history as you wander around the ornate rooms.  My most favourite room was the ‘Elizabeth Saloon’, intended for ladies to reside to after dinner.  With gold gilt, plush cherry red and coral fabrics and extravagantly designed furniture, including of course a chaise longue or two.

It was also nice to see modern photographs of the current family in each room, giving you a real feel for the families who have resided there through the ages. Interestingly the castle was given its French name ‘Belvoir’ meaning ‘beautiful view’ (now pronounced ‘beaver’).

At the end of our tour, we visited the castle gift shop and naturally bought some Belvoir shortbread to take home, however there were also a lovely selection of homemade jams- made by the Duchess herself as well as several country style items on sale.

A tea room can also be found at the end of the tour offering afternoon /cream tea and a selection of refreshments and lunch items.

As mentioned we opted for a picnic in the beautiful surroundings of the Duchesses garden and the weather did not disappoint, we managed to sunbathe as did a few others in the area and thoroughly enjoyed our first visit to Belvoir, which most certainly won’t be our last.

Entrance into the castle and gardens on a combined ticket costs just £15 for Adults and £8 for children aged 4-16 (children under 3 are free).  It is also possible to just have garden tickets at a cost of £8 for adults & children are free.

Fiona Duncan, RSViP