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Village Food & Drink

How to enjoy Christmas…

Posted on October 19 2009 at 1:48:42 0 comments

Our Office Grouch discovers he knows more than he thought about making the most of the festivities.

Christmas? “Write about Christmas,” they say. “What do you mean… as if it’s a good thing?” I ask. “Well, of course it is,” they reply. “Everyone loves Christmas.”

They should know me better. Admittedly, as age and sentimentality take a stronger grip, the fear of pound notes slipping quickly out of my wallet is no longer my initial reaction at the sight of the first bauble of the season. So perhaps I am more qualified than I thought to lead readers through this seasonal scene, especially as I seem to invest ever-larger quantities of money in it each year.

I know how these features usually go: Christmas is almost upon us and, whoopee, it’s an excuse for everyone to go silly, forget the so-called cash crunch and get spending.

Oh, and here on these pages you will see X, Y and Z, all hoping to help you through this tough assignment. The funny thing is, I’m looking at the adverts surrounding these words as I write and they do seem very tempting. That’s the beauty of The Village, I suppose – it’s so local, there’s always something that catches your eye.

Some do more than that straight away – and I don’t need Christmas to open my wallet to them. Starting with the essentials, the offerings from Weatheroak Ales provide the perfect accompaniment to Christmas Day, or Eve, or the day before that – whatever they might call it – and many other days of the year.

Then there is the Dodford Inn, a pub rescued by real ale enthusiasts from the big brewery takeover roundabout which had jettisoned it into near oblivion. I’ve only passed through quickly to take some pictures so far – but I’m currently pushing for it to be the venue for our office Christmas “party” (I have to go on that because I’m paying). We always choose a Village advertiser for this outing; last year it was the Coach & Horses at Weatheroak, and now the Dodford Inn qualifies too.

Meanwhile, The Abbey Hotel is a favourite simply by dint of having a golf course as its backdrop. What could be better than a round in the crisp winter air followed by a slap-up meal? It is also a great venue for a Christmas party because of the added attraction of a room for the night, so you’re not stuck in the nearest manger after a few too many.

The same is true of Hillscourt Conference Centre, which offers great Christmas party nights and also has rooms in its recently refurbished hotel facilities. You could also play golf nearby, too, on the Rose Hill course if you were that keen, which I would be.

To make sure you get round the course before check-out time, lessons at Bromsgrove Golf Academy would be a good investment – or, hint, hint, a great present for the golfer in your life.

If music is more your style, then the piano is a wonderful instrument to learn. Local piano teacher Andrew Clarke is offering lessons as well as lesson vouchers as a Christmas gift idea.

For more traditional gifts, The Sweet Bank in Barnt Green will be a popular destination during November and December. The shop is also planning to stock a range of novel gifts and will be holding a toy and stocking filler “preview” this month.

Another great Christmas gift emporium can be found at Little Heath Garden Centre, where owner Barry Hall prides himself on the displays on show there every year. Another Christmassy selection can be found at Fresh@Burcot Garden Centre, venue for The Village charity fashion evening on November 11. 

I do actually feel in some way qualified to write about the Mint Lounge Indian restaurant in Bromsgrove as I used to edit an Indian food magazine and have eaten at the “best” in Britain. Both The Mint Lounge and The New International Dilshad in Alvechurch, which is also featured in this magazine, have reputations for great food and I have never been disappointed by either. And I must admit that, living fairly close to the Dilshad, I have entertained the idea of going there for dinner on Christmas Day one year.

I’m now about to stray out of my comfort zone… into the realm of hair and beauty. Sally tells me that Bliss Hair Therapy in Alvechurch is offering party “hair-ups” and sparkly hair extensions for a great look at Christmas events. In the same village, there’s also @15 Hair & Beauty where GJ (who has been known to swing a golf club with me from time to time) offers cuts and colours.

For the romantics among you, looking to buy that special gift – this is Sally writing again – it has to be jewellery. Our regular advertiser, RF Collyer, of Rubery, offers a full range and we are also featuring Cupitts, the long-established Bromsgrove jeweller.

Finally – and this is so far out of my comfort zone I’m not sure what the zone is called – Sandy Cherry, of Very Cherry Photography, is offering to take a glamour picture to create a very special, and different, gift.

Hmmmm, well actually, after a few moments pondering this idea, it might be the best present you could ever get – or give!


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