ICE ICE BABY… Roll up, roll up to Cathedral Gardens Manchester, which from 9 November will host the UK’s first Ice Village, the most ambitious undertaking to date by Hamilton Ice Sculptors. Every year since 2011 they’ve created the Magical Ice Kingdom, a centrepiece of Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park, so it’s about time the North West landed a piece of the action. There will be animals, ice cogs and pistons to reflect Manchester’s industrial past and, in the Ice Cave, nods to local history such as a female train driver wearing a ‘Votes for Women’ badge. There’ll be chalets for corporate bookings, an ice rink and a Woodland Market, in case those adventuring across from the main Christmas markets suffer from mulled wine withdrawal symptoms.


YOUR BARD… Anyone who’s had the pleasure of going deep down into the Cheshire salt mines might have nodded with approval this week, when it emerged that Professor Glyn Parry, who is co-writing a book on William Shakespeare’s life, had hit paydirt below the Cheshire plains. The National Archives use part of the mines for storage, as the salt air prevents damp spoilage, and documents unearthed by Parry have shed light on the colourful career of the Bard’s father John. As well as being a glover, leather-maker and alderman, Shakespeare senior was accused of illegal money-lending and wool-dealing – hey, we’ve all been there.


Image courtesy of the Royal Shakespeare Company

PRESSURE POINT… Cheshire West & Chester Council is urging residents to find out if their heart is happy and get their blood pressure checked for free as part of Know Your Numbers! Week. The UK’s biggest free blood pressure testing event is being held at ‘Pressure Stations’ until Sunday – an estimated 37,000 people in CWAC have high blood pressure, which is linked to at least 50% of all strokes and heart attacks, but aren’t aware of it. It’s probably best if none of them watch planning meetings.

Fireworks 2017

LIGHT IT UP… Bands from across Merseyside with “that extra spark” are being encouraged to fire up their amps and get involved with the 2018 British Musical Fireworks Championships, running for three nights from Friday 28 September. The event is of course run by Sefton Council at Southport’s Victoria Park each year – a location as intrinsically linked with fireworks as Wimbledon is with tennis. This year will see three pre-fireworks gigs to entertain crowds before pyrotechnic companies battle it out, and the slot to open prcoeedings on the Friday is still up for grabs. Contact for info, and for the full low-down about the Fireworks Championships visit

BOOK… As part of its 80th birthday celebrations, Manchester Airport has published its own children’s book, Reach For The Sky. The book, aimed at primary school children, tells an enchanting story about travel, determination and achieving your dreams – a quip like “such as getting through Arrivals within an hour” at this point would be cheap, and below THING’s level. The airport, weighing in to support children’s reading across its catchment area, has 5,000 copies of the book to give away to schools across the region and is inviting schools to get in touch to get copies for a full class, along with the chance to have an “aviation assembly”. Up, up and away.


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