Artist of the Week – Zoon Van Snook

 
 

Nic Matthews shares a word with one of Bristol’s most acclaimed musical exports, star-collaborating electronicist, Zoon Van Snook.

A passion for genre-spanning melody, field recordings, found-sound and electronics – combined with the utility of guerrilla techniques (encompassing household objects) – has seen ZvS create affably sinister sonic sketches and ambionic audio montage. After releasing his debut 12″ on acclaimed Brighton label, Cookshop, towards the end of 2008, a perfectly honed relationship was achieved by signing to legendary LA label, Mush Records. The debut LP ‘(Falling from) The Nutty Tree’ was released around Christmas of 2010, to the delight of album and gig reviewers alike.

The subsequent remix album boasted collaborations from the venerable Daedelus, Grasscut, Tunng, Cian Ciaran (Super Furry Animals), Fujiya & Miyagi, Yppah, Ape School, Alka, Lost Idol and Bristol’s own Woos. Second LP, ‘The Bridge Between Life & Death’ – named after a bridge in Kópavogur, Iceland, so-called by locals because it has a nursing home on one side and cemetery on the other – will be released on Lo Recordings (UK), !K7 (US) and Kimi Records (Iceland) on Mon 20 May.

INTERVIEW

Could you tell us how and why you started making music? I had been playing in bands around Bristol and the South West since about the mid-90s, but due to a mixture of members either touring with other bands or having serious illnesses, I decided to start writing my own music in the summer of 2007. I had always played in bands with my older brother, Sean, who taught me the subtleties of writing and arranging songs – so I built a little studio in my spare room in Bedminster and off I went. Luckily, due to my friend Owen of Canola Tenderfoot sending my tunes to Brighton’s Cookshop label, my first set of songs got signed almost immediately. This EP led to an infamous interview with Stephen Merchant.

What have you got going on at the moment? My second album ‘The Bridge Between Life & Death’ is being released on two of my favourite labels: Lo Recordings (UK) and !K7 (US). It is based around 12 field recordings that I took when I was in Iceland at the end of 2009, and is 12 songs for, about and inspired by Iceland. I have collaborations on there with some of my favourite Icelandic artists such as Amiina, Sin Fang and Benni Hemm Hemm. Múm (a huge influence on my music and life) are contributing a special remix for the second single, along with Ulrich Schnauss. Halldór from the band Seabear has painted the album and single artwork.

What inspires your song writing? I get inspired by hearing the natural rhythm in everyday situations (the first LP on Mush Records incorporated lots of found-sound recordings); I also love snippets of conversations – subject matter unknown – that I hear when I’m out and about. The songs on the new album are largely built around the field recordings that are included in each. More often than not, I would play the recording and then write the piano chords around it. With ‘Inclementine’ I started with the guitar parts over the recording, ‘Lyre! Lyre!!’ I played the lyre part and then found the best recording that fitted with it. ‘Thufur Thoroughfare’ was built around an iPhone app that I recorded in and then manipulated – it also includes a specially recorded field recording from Benni Hemm Hemm of his family in the mountains of Iceland.

Who are your role models/idols and why? Other than my brother, who did two ’50 States in 50 Days’ tours of the US with Kevin Montgomery (son of Bob Montgomery, who co-wrote and played with Buddy Holly): musically, Super Furry Animals have been my biggest contemporary influence – Cian Ciaran, the keyboard player, especially. His mixture of folky piano/electric piano and squelchy synth lines, coupled with his techno rhythms, was a revelation when I first heard them in the mid-90s. For me, there is a huge comparison between the way the Welsh and Icelandic languages sound. When I listen to SFA Welsh stuff and Sigur Rós Icelandic/Hopelandic, I don’t need to know what the words mean, the vocal intonations just become another harmony instrument – I can create my own meaning each time I listen. I’ve also spent a lot of my life wishing I was in The Small Faces – the tunes, attitude, lifestyle, clobber, Hammond organ…it’s all there

What do you have planned for the future? I’m building my new live set as we speak, which can be quite difficult to do as a solo show, due to the multitude of acoustic instruments on the album. I’m using Ableton with the Launch Pad, sample pads, keyboards, Kaoss Pads and melodica/percussion, etc. It will be less danced-up than the first set, but the songs will definitely still be re-worked and improvised live. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to (or even want to) recreate my songs live, but I tried it and got a really positive reaction from the audiences at NXNE in Toronto, and in the Netherlands when we toured there with Bristol’s Inner City Grit Records. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m talking with a French booking agent at the moment, so hopefully there will be a European tour around the time of the LP – summer time.

LISTEN

SoundCloud

WATCH

I’m just finishing off the new live set as we speak. I did NXNE in Toronto, a week-long European tour and an exclusive live radio session for Tom Robinson’s BBC6 Music show on the back of the first record, and hope to be touring extensively with this one, of course including Bristol.

READ

From Venue’s back pages

Clash Music

Data Transmission

Dots and Dashes

More from Clash Music, on remixing James Yorkston

LINKS

Lo Recordings

Mush Records

Artist page

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YES SIR BOSS: VENUE BOTW

 
 

Nic Matthews talk to one of the hardest working bands in Bristol.

Yes Sir Boss’s diverse up-tempo sound takes the rhythmic foundations of ska and funk and injects them with bluesy guitar riffs. spaghetti-western tinged jazz horns and pop-infused vocal melodies to create an irresistibly catchy mix with more than enough bite to cater to fans of all genres. They began reaching a wider audience in 2011 after being asked to perform live sessions for BBC Radio London and Rob Da Bank’s Radio 1 show. Last year the band totalled 150 live shows across the UK and Europe, including support on Joss Stone’s European ‘Soul Sessions 2’ tour. Not to mention a 25-date UK album tour in October, where the band sold out their launch party at Camden Jazz Cafe for debut album, ‘Desperation State’, produced by Steve Greenwell (Arrested Development, Joss Stone).

INTERVIEW

Could you tell us a how the band got started? The band started way back at uni, down at Dartington College of Arts in Devon. Matt (the singer) put it together as a kind of bluesy three-piece outfit and from there it just grew and grew. We ended up moving to Bristol together as a six-piece and have been here since 2008. Jesus, has it been that long?!

What have you guys got going on at the moment? We’re just gearing up to release our new Joss Stone-featuring single, ‘Mrs#1’, on April 15 (Stone’d Records). It’sfrom our debut album, Desperation State, and you can see the video on Youtube now. We filmed it at The Plough in Easton, which is my local and is now run by Mancub, the lead singer from Babyhead. It was wicked fun to make and we all love Babyhead (they’re like our Bristol mentors) so it felt right to immortalize ourselves in their pub! This year we’re playing a lot around Europe and we have a mini UK tour in April for our new single, plus a couple of Bristol shows. We’re also writing new songs, so it’s all systems go in the land of Boss.

What inspires your song writing? Songs can come from anywhere but we get most of the seeds of a song from jamming. We stayed in a little place in South France earlier this year and basically drank wine and played music for a week solid, in between some gigs. We got tons of fodder for the cannon in that time, some big riffs and decent chord sequences. We’re starting to rock a lot harder then we used to and we’re enjoying the new directions it’s taking us in. Of course we all listen to a lot of music and that always keeps the fire burning as well. My main inspiration is the hope that one day Tarantino will pick up our music for one of his films. That would really make my week!

Who are your role models/Idols and why? I guess our role models are the brave people who do what they do with gusto and balls. Anyone from Dali to Attenborough, Mandela to Bowie. People who do it their own way and change things. I don’t think we idolize anyone though, I’m sure we all used to when we we’re kiddies but we’re getting a bit old for that now!

What’s the best part about playing music together? The best parts are the little moments you get in gigs when you’re all playing your best, sounding tight and the audience are loving it. If you all catch each other’s eyes at that moment there’s a flicker of connection when you all think ‘we did the right thing being in this band’. Getting stupid drunk after gigs is always fun as well. We also enjoy drawing moustaches on TVs before gigs and waiting to see Cheryl Cole or Carol Vorderman sporting a bushy black beauty.

What do you guys have planned for the future? Who knows, but there’ll be music!

REVIEW
See what God Is In The TV had to say HERE

LISTEN
You’ve eight YSB songs to listen to if you have a nose HERE

WATCH
The band’s next local show comes at Thekla on Sat 27 April.

MORE ONLINE
www.yessirboss.com
http://www.facebook.com/yessirboss
https://twitter.com/YesSirBossMusic

VISIT – www.venue.co.uk

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Band of the Week – Marmalade Sky

rsz_marmalade_sky

Nic Matthews talks to the Bristol rock’n’rollers who want to wake you up.

Marmalade Sky are a Bristol-based five-piece rock’n’roll outfit playing classic indie punk – and aiming to ‘make people believe all over again’. Namely, MS are Dan Warren (lead vocals), Luke Mayo (guitar, vocals), George Shelton (rhythm guitar, vocals), George Hall (bass guitar) and Jay Ham (drums, vocalist).

INTERVIEW

Could you tell us a how the band got started? Marmalade Sky originally was started about three years ago by schoolmates Mike, Luke and Jamie, who were going out playing cover songs from 1960s acts (The Who, The Sonics, The Birds etc), but back then Mike played bass, Jamie drums and Luke was the guitarist and lead singer. We played in a few venues for six months or so before Luke met Dan through work and began chatting about the band and whether he would like to come in as the lead singer, allowing Luke to concentrate more on the lead guitar and writing. So the band was now a four-piece and writing their own tunes and gigging regularly up and down the country. After about a year of this, we then felt our sound needed beefing up so that’s when we brought in George on rhythm guitar – he’d been going to our gigs as a fan. We got chatting to him and he seemed like the right kid to join. Until recently that was the line-up for Marmalade Sky: travelling doing gigs and recording for over a year. The recent change in the band has been Mike leaving due to commitment issues and us getting in the new bassist George.

What have you got going on at the moment? At the moment the band is very busy and working hard on our debut album to be released in the early part of summer. Also we are still gigging up and down the country and have just signed up to an independent record label.

What inspires your songwriting? Our songs are inspired by real-life situations, whether it’s from a social aspect or political issues, and it speaks to everyone who is in our shoes, living a working-class life. Music means a lot more if people can relate to it and we are glad that we can shout about the same problems we experience everyday as they do.

Who are your role models/idols and why? With four songwriters in the band, there are many role models and idols which give us inspiration for writing, and it’s this combination of idols that gives Marmalade Sky our sound. The main role models for us are bands which have spoken to a generation, bands like The Who, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Oasis, Kasabian , Stone Roses, The Jam and Jimi Hendrix. These artists were so inspirational to millions of people and some carry on influencing after 40 years, so if you can write songs like these bands which gain new fans every day then you have to look at them not as role models but gods!

What’s the best part about playing music together? Simply the buzz you get when you create a new song or you’ve just played a really good gig where the crowd has gone mental to your songs. A really good part in playing together is you feed off of each other, and sometimes you try to outdo the other person by how you play, and this is really good, not just for the crowd, it keeps us all on our toes a little.

What do you have planned for the future? Who knows? Obviously everyone wants to be a mega-famous rock star, but we just take things as they come, and as long as we are gigging and writing new material then we are happy.

More info here – www.venue.co.uk

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Hit the catwalk

You’ll find more than just the latest trends at Bristol Fashion Week. Suzanne Savill can’t wait

There will, of course, be fabulous fashions for spring/summer 2013 on display during the 18 shows that will take place during Bristol Fashion Week. But anyone who’s ever sat alongside the runway at The Mall in Cribbs Causeway will know that the city’s biggest fashion event offers far more besides.

This is an event for which you need to bring a hanky in your designer handbag, because when you walk out of the vast marquee in which the hour-long shows are held, you may find yourself with tears in your eyes – either from laughing at the banter of co-hosts Mark Heyes, the ITV Daybreak stylist, and celebrity hairdresser Andrew Barton, or from hearing the stories of some of those who’ve taken to the catwalk after having a makeover.

“Last year we had our first-ever male makeover model, who walked down the catwalk and presented his wife with a rose as a thank you for nominating him,” says Maria Crayton, head of marketing at The Mall, and the driving force behind Bristol Fashion Week, which is now in its 15th season. Read more here – www.venue.co.uk

 

 

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Band of the Week: Bite the Buffalo

Brothers Stos (guitar/vocals) and Miti Goneos (drums/vocals) form fuzz-riddled rock ‘n roll outfit Bite The Buffalo. The pair did most of their growing up in the mining towns of the Copperbelt, Zambia, where they got good tans and nice accents. Releasing their ‘Bromigos’ EP in 2012 got the boys all around the UK / Europe and through to The United States. Following up that successful year, the guys will be releasing their new LP ‘Blue Lips” in February 2013. Armed with a 70s Hofner, a Marshall stack, and a shedload of filthy fuzz, Stos holds up the riffs and melodies whilst Miti is the backing vocalist and harmonica howlin’ sticks man.

INTERVIEW
Could you tell us how the band got started? As a couple o’ brothers, we’ve been making noise together for a good long while. When we moved over to England I guess we just decided to put a name on it, release a record or two and essentially just keep doing what we’ve always done.

What have you guys got going on at the moment? We’ve just wrapped up our debut album, ‘Blue Lips’, which is set to be pre-released in Bath on February 28th at Banglo, a few weeks before the official online release in March. It’s really just a great excuse to throw one hell of a party in our home town, where you can get the album before anyone else can and drink ‘n’ dance all the way through to the after party and then the after-after party. Everyone here’s been so supportive of what we’re doing and, ah man, they really do love to party.

What inspires your song writing? Beards. All kinds of beards.

Who are your role models/Idols and why? Right now? I’d say musicians who know their way around a studio, the guys that write a song and take it all the way through to the mastering stages, the self-producers. We’d decided to record our album at home, just the two of us in the garage. It can be very frustrating trying to make an album when you know that there’s a deadline just around the corner, and every time you step outside to have a ciggy you’re literally burning into your budget. There’s so many producers we’d like to work with one day, but I suppose if you want your album to sound dirty and fucked up like it’s been recorded in a garage… go and record it in a garage.

What’s the best part about playing music together? That it’s pretty easy to walk on a stage and just smash out a set together. I think we take for granted how lucky we are to know each other so well, we’re constantly a step ahead of one another. Improvising’s a big part of the show – we want every show to be a little different.

What do you guys have planned for the future? We’re off to the United States on March 3 for a second outing. This time we’re touring from California to Texas’ SXSW Festival 2013. From there we play through to Nashville, back through the desert to California and then head up to Seattle and we’ll be playing all the main cities in between (Vegas baby!). We’ve got a real good thing going on over there in the States, it’s going to be fantastic to see a nice big chunk of it this time round. Back in the UK in April for our first full tour, with some (fingers crossed) big festivals on the way. Looking forward to the New Year.

REVIEW
“It’s greased lightning, it’s chrome plated rods, it’s Kenickie in the back seat of his car with Rizzo. It’s the embodiment of rock and roll, given the opportunity to grow up and become aware of itself. ” Richard Beach, Wales Online

LISTEN
http://soundcloud.com/bitethebuffalo/captain-membrane-the-skeptical/s-jXqij

WEBSITES
www.bitethebuffalo.com
http://www.facebook.com/BiteTheBuffalo

Copyright Venue Publishing/Nic Matthews 2013
More reviews on www.venue.co.uk

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Band of the Week: Spectres

Nic Matthews puts in the earplugs for Bristol noisemakers Spectres.

Spectres are a very uncompromising band. For three years now, they have created music that has driven people out of venues and made their own ears show the white noise flag, but they have ploughed through regardless, as the band says themselves: “We are loud.”

INTERVIEW

Could you tell us a how the band got started? We were formed from the ashes of three different bands from Devon; all with the need to escape and all pulling in the same direction. Football and a hatred of banality also featured.

What have you got going on at the moment? We are putting out our first ‘proper’ release for well over a year so we are pretty excited. ‘Hunger’ will be our first vinyl all to ourselves (we were on the Howling Owl Record Store Day compilation with Towns, United Fruit and Fairhorns) and that is a treat. We’ll be launching it at a super special gig at the Motorcade/Flashparade in BV Studios, which should be pretty mental, like all Howling Owl shows tend to be.

What inspires your song writing? Frustration, mainly. The new EP ‘Hunger’ is the product of us playing some brutally noisy shows in front of sometimes lots of people and sometimes nobody. We are a pretty uncompromising band, and though it is a massive cliché, we don’t really take into consideration how others will react… and that’s pretty obvious sometimes.

Who are your role models/idols and why? Sonic Youth would probably be our biggest influence, both musically and for how they have gone/went about things for three decades. No other band sums up the DIY frame of mind quite like them: a very brave band who created their own luck. Also Spector, for reminding us that the world is a funny place.

What’s the best part about playing music together? The bit where it goes silent at the end and we ask each other ‘how was that for you?’, and we just nod as we’ve got away with it: it’s like purgatory up there.

What do you have planned for the future? Hopefully growing if people want us to. This EP won’t exactly be make or break for us, but it will be a good gauge of whether or not people want to invest in us as a band. We hope they do.

LISTEN TO THE BAND

https://soundcloud.com/spectres
And EP teaser HERE

LOCAL SHOWS

Sat 23 Feb: Spectres EP Launch – Motorcade Flashparade, Bristol. Ffi: https://www.facebook.com/events/517448081628479/

Wed 27 Feb: Cardiff Buffalo

Thur 14 Mar: Bath Moles

REVIEW

Artrocker New Blood Gig review at Hoxton Bar & Kitchen: read it HERE

WEBSITES

www.facebook.com/wearespectres
http://wearespectres.tumblr.com/
https://soundcloud.com/spectres

Copyright Nic Matthews/Venue Publishing 2013

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Spreading the love

Valentines pic

Whether you’re already happily matched or still looking for love, Melissa Blease can help you make the most of Valentine’s Day.

 Love it or loathe it, Valentine’s Day – the annual love-in shebang (or sickly schmaltz fest, depending on your perspective) – comes around every 14 February. But not everybody will be in the mood for lurve. You might still be reeling from the shock induced by a recent relationship finale. You might have decided to accept that you just ain’t gonna find that all-too-illusive soul mate. You might be thinking that there’s no room in your life for a relationship, or that the partner you do have doesn’t need any fuss making over them just because of a date on the calendar, or that you’d really like to give it a go with a ‘special someone’ but just don’t know how to catch their eye. Or, you may be embarking on a first date… blimey, the permutations are endless! But whatever your situation, circumstances or attitude this Valentine’s Day, being caught in Cupid’s line of fire doesn’t have to hurt.

SINGLE? GET SOCIAL!

Social groups 2013-style exist in a vibrant, fun-lined bubble far, far removed from the age-old, clichéd image of awkward gatherings attended by long-term, ageing singletons who have to be home by 10pm to have their cocoa with mum and dad – and the best groups are meeting up right here on our Bristol and Bath doorsteps.

The Bristol Social Group is a “socialising organisation” that arranges events including supper clubs, parties, weekend breaks, holidays and all manner of activities designed to offer members a ready-made group of friends, an instant social life… and the prospect of meeting that special someone in a natural, relaxed manner. Membership normally costs just £100 for one year – but we can do better than that. The lovely, lively Bristol Social Club folk are offering Folio readers a special offer membership package for just £50 – yup, a whopping 50% discount. All you need to do to qualify is state offer code “SG Folio 13” when you make your application, but do it now: this offer expires on 31 March 2013.

Urban Social is a one-stop shop bringing online dating services, speed dating, singles parties, news, gossip and Be On TV notices (one way of making sure you’re really out there!) together as one slick, stylish portal, resulting in an online singles community that’s specifically aimed at young urban professionals. Urban Social host loads of events in Bristol and Bath, including speed dating, wine tastings and champagne parties. Or you could, of course, just sit back and join in from the comfort of your own home….

Grape Vine Social offers speed dating parties with a subtly stylish difference, offering single people the chance to taste wine, champagne or cocktails – and get a flavour of the people who are sipping alongside them at the same time! If the idea is popping your cork, visit the website for details of the next Bristol event taking place in Po Na Na on Queens Road, Friday 22 February, when the £25 ticket includes six different wines to taste, a wine quiz, a party in a funky late-night bar and the opportunity to mingle with a crowd of sociable singles just like you. Tasty!

Spice, meanwhile, is described as “the social, adventure and activity group for ordinary people who want to do extraordinary things”. There are currently over 10,000 Spice members nationwide, all of whom are offered a packed schedule of activities to choose from every month. February events in Bristol include a Crazy Golf ‘adventure’, a Cider Tasting evening and a Masterchef Challenge (yes, really!), while Bath members have got a Skyline Walk, pub quizzes and the Not-a-Valentine’s-Dinner to look forward to. Monthly membership starts at £12, but Preview Nights are free to attend, and offer a preview of what you can look forward to if you decide to Spice up your life this year.

BRISTOL SOCIAL GROUP 08456 121770, WWW.BRISTOLSOCIALGROUP.COM

URBAN SOCIAL WWW.URBANSOCIAL.COM

GRAPE VINE SOCIAL WWW.GRAPEVINESOCIAL.COM

SPICE BRISTOL AND BATH 07429 598414, WWW.SPICEBRISTOLCARDIFF.COM

 

SOPPY SHOPPING!

We’re all aware of the uplifting effects of a bout of retail therapy on any day of the year and as Valentine’s Day approaches, the shops are packed with all kinds of tempting delights: gifts, outfits, luxury food and drink – the high street has gone into lurve-struck overdrive! If, however, you’re not romantically inclined, it can all get a bit too – well, sickly to say the least. Want to know how to cope? We say: know exactly what you’re looking for before you go a-wanderin’, and take our shopping list with you – and for our purposes right here, right now, there’s not a single teddy bear holding a stuffed satin heart in sight.

The Mall in Bristol has really pushed the boat out for Valentine’s Day this year, offering all-kinds-of-everything-special to create a romantic backdrop and add a subtle splash of sensuality to your domestic environment. In a hurry? Dash into John Lewis and grab yourself a bottle of Palmes d’Or – whether you’re planning to pop that cork for a loved one, a group of friends or even simply treating yourself (’cos, hey, you’re worth it!), it’s one of the fabbest fizzes on the V-Day block. If you’re off on a special date (or maybe just in the market for one?), you’ll find a stunning selection of evening dresses at Coast and Karen Millen. But don’t overlook what’s going on underneath that fabulous outfit. Chic lingerie has a retro twist this season, and you’ll find a selection of simply gorgeous lace longline bras in neutral peach tones of the kind that’s guaranteed to add 1950s-style glamour to your boudoir routine. There are some stunning sets available in Topshop, La Senza, M&S, Next and John Lewis, at surprisingly skimpy prices too – gentlemen, don’t say we didn’t warn you… All told, The Mall’s your ultimate one-stop Valentine’s Day shopover.

THE MALL, CRIBBS CAUSEWAY, BRISTOL BS34 5DG. FFI: WWW.MALLCRIBBS.COM

SPA-ING PARTNERS

Can there be anything more romantic – or indulgent – than a spa treatment? We don’t think so. So think outside the box (of chocolates) this year, and undertake a treat-for-two. If, however, you don’t happen to have a special smoochy ‘someone’ in your life, don’t wait – take your mate! What can be more uplifting than splashing out with a friend?

Forget a bunch of red roses. Men who want to treat their partner to something a little bit more imaginative this Valentine’s Day are set to create a swoon-fest with this one: the Dozen Red Roses Massage at the Vale Resort in South Wales, waiting to be booked as part of a romantic overnight break. Wales’s largest spa – undoubtedly one of the most gorgeous in the UK – has taken the traditional gift of a dozen red roses and given it a unique twist by developing a one-off massage treatment inspired by the ancient symbol of love and beauty. The massage treatment uses warm oils infused with the sweet fragrance of pure rose to deliver a relaxing, all over body treatment finished off with a glass of bubbles. Gentlemen, meanwhile, haven’t been overlooked: while their partner is being pampered, He can enjoy a Mood Enhancing Massage which works warm tangerine and patchouli oil deep into the muscles of the back, easing out stress and tension. The Romantic Valentine’s Break includes champagne and chocolates on arrival, a three-course dinner in the Vale Grill, full Welsh breakfast and a full day enjoying the Vale Spa’s new relaxation and leisure facilities and spa treatments, with prices starting from only £265 per couple. For further information contact the reservations team on 01443 667800 or visit www.vale-hotel.com

Or perhaps a trip to the Heritage City is in order? If so, you’d be a ditz to overlook the delights of the Thermae Bath Spa. Their Time for Two package offers a choice of treatments, a two-course meal in the Spa’s Springs Restaurant and four hours to relax and bathe in the natural thermal waters just as the Celts and Romans did nearly 2,000 years ago, for just £189 per couple. Meanwhile, old and new romantics alike couldn’t fail to be entranced by the Twilight Package: relax in the open-air rooftop pool and take in the beautiful views while the sun goes down over Bath, bathing the historic buildings in rich, golden hues. Indulge yourselves in a three-hour package that includes complimentary use of towel, robe and slippers and a light supper all for £42 per person. The Twilight package-for-two, meanwhile, costs £80 per couple – delicious.

THE VALE RESORT HENSOL PARK, HENSOL, VALE OF GLAMORGAN CF72 8JY. FFI: 01443 667800, WWW.VALE-HOTEL.COM

 

THERMAE BATH SPA HOT BATH ST, BATH BA1 1SJ. FFI: 0844 888 0844, WWW.THERMAEBATHSPA.COM

GOOD MOOD FOOD

Whether you’re planning a hot date or dinner with a mate, we know where you can feed your heart’s desires this Valentine’s Day.

Set in four acres of gardens on the fringes of the UK’s most beautiful Georgian city, the Bath Priory epitomises grace and style at its most luxurious. The food is fantastic, the surroundings are gorgeous and the level of luxury is the stuff that dreams are made of – this elegant, luxurious retreat feels as though it’s in a world of its own, when actually it’s only a brief hop from the city centre itself. And it’s got a Michelin star. What more do you want? Well, a taste of France might be nice. All those who have eaten at Casanis – a mini-oasis of Gallic delight tucked away on one of the prettiest lanes in Bath – claim that chef Laurent Couvreur’s seductive, authentic French menus easily beat music to the number one spot in the ‘Food of Love’ stakes. Steaks! Now there’s an idea. Firmly established at the heart of the eclectic Walcot Street/London Road scene, the Hudson Steakhouse is a super-stylish, supremely easygoing split-level NY-style bar and grill specialising in top-notch contemporary versions of surf’n’turf, perfect steaks (all with impeccable credentials) and cocky cocktails. Meanwhile, in Bristol…

Formerly an authentic Arts & Crafts-period manor house, now a glorious boutique hotel and restaurant, Berwick Lodge – just 10 minutes away from the M5/M4 – is set in 15 acres of private garden and woodland, offers views across the Bristol channel… and boasts superstar chef Chris (Bell’s Diner) Wicks at the helm in the kitchen, all of which combine to guarantee a magnificently memorable, magical experience. Fancy dining out like royalty? The crowned heads of Europe turned it into a playground, all manner of titled posh folk have cavorted in the gardens and the kitchen has inspired numerous gastro-anecdotes, many of which food writer Nigel Slater was happy to share in his award winning autobiography ‘Toast’: for glorious modern British cuisine in historic Tudor surroundings, we salute Thornbury Castle. While you’re there, take a peek at (or even stay in?) the Duke’s Bedchamber, where King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn once stayed for a slice of gothic romance at its very best.

BATH PRIORY WESTON RD, BATH BA1 2XT. FFI: 01225 331922, WWW.THEBATHPRIORY.CO.UK

CASANIS 4 SAVILLE ROW, BATH BA1 2QP. FFI: 01225 780055, WWW.CASANIS.CO.UK

HUDSON STEAKHOUSE 14 LONDON ST, BATH BA1 5BU. FFI: 01225 332323, WWW.HUDSONBARS.CO.UK

BERWICK LODGE BERWICK DRIVE, BRISTOL BS10 7TD. FFI: 0117 958 1590, WWW.BERWICKLODGE.CO.UK

THORNBURY CASTLE THORNBURY, BS35 1HH. FFI: 01454 281182, WWW.THORNBURYCASTLE.CO.UK

SINGLE ON VALENTINE’S DAY? ENJOY YOURSELF!

If you’ve recently experienced a break-up and still feel a little rough around the edges, don’t attempt to go it alone on Valentine’s Day – and don’t, whatever you do, allow yourself the opportunity to call or text your ex in a “tired and emotional” rage. Instead, arrange to hook up with friends who understand: remember, many couples ignore V-Day altogether, while fellow single friends may really appreciate the opportunity for a good night out, whatever the date on the calendar. Or consider inviting friends and/or family members to your place for a V-Day get-together, or offer to take young relatives – or your friends’ kids – out for a special Valentine’s Day treat, leaving mum and dad free to “act all soppy”. You’re not avoiding Cupid, you’re helping him out!

Once you’re back on your feet again, don’t spend any more time looking back over what didn’t happen – it’s time to look forward to what’s to come. Forget on-line/speed dating, overpriced agencies and small ads listings; follow your real passion in life, and work on becoming the person your dream partner would want to fall in love with. From samba dancing classes to cookery schools, book clubs and film societies to foreign language courses and circus skills masterclasses, it’s time to indulge your life-long passions away from your search for that illusive “other half” – and remember: “it is into the fullest lives that love is most likely to fall.”

Copyright Melissa Blease 2013

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Win free tickets to see WE ARE THE OCEAN in Bristol

 

WIN TICKETS TO SEE 'WE ARE THE OCEAN'

More hotly tipped than a bunch of asparagus that’s been dropped in a barrel of chilli sauce, Essex four-piece We Are The Ocean headline The Fleece, Bristol, this Saturday (2 Feb), promoting latest album ‘Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow’ and off the back of an intimate European club tour and massive radio play for singles ‘Bleed’, ‘The Road’ and Radio 1 A-listed track ‘Young Heart’. Fancy seeing ’em in Bristol? Venue has two pairs of tickets to give away for Saturday’s show and if you want to stand a chance of winning a pair, simply tell us why you want to go to the gig: the two suppliers of the smartest/funniest/wittiest/most oceanic answers (as decided by us) win the tickets. Email your answer HERE This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with the subject line: COMP We are the Ocean.

Watch the ‘Young Heart’ video HERE

Winners will be informed on Friday 1 Feb.
WWW.VENUE.CO.UK

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rsz_main_steptoe_and_son

Steve Wright books a place in the scrapyard.

We’re always thrilled by the return to these parts of Kneehigh, the inimitable theatre company who turn out wonderfully inventive, physical and beautifully soundtracked theatre from their home in a series of barns off the south Cornwall coast. Over the past 10 years, shows like The Bacchae, Hansel and Gretel and Brief Encounter have been among the very best and most exciting theatre that Bristol and Bath have hosted: playful, dramatic stuff, shot through with a wonderful love of storytelling. And the very good news is that Kneehigh are back in town this winter with Steptoe and Son at the Bristol Old Vic. It’s a stage show of the much-loved TV comedy, adapted from Ray Galton and Alan Simpson’s original scripts. Bound together by birth, business and bloody bad luck, Cockney rag-and-bone men Albert and Harold Steptoe wake up every morning to the same old, sickening sight of each other. Joined at the hip and heart, they bother, bicker and banter their way through life – but do they even notice the world turning as they cling on? Kneehigh founder Mike Shepherd stars as the gap-toothed, leering Steptoe senior. STEPTOE AND SON BRISTOL OLD VIC, 23 JAN-9 FEB. FFI WWW.BRISTOLOLDVIC.ORG.UK

Copyright Steve Wright 2013 – www.venue.co.uk

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