Comedy - Paul Foot: Tis a Pity She's a Piglet, Sept. 21st at the Arts Centre

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In his first new show in two years, the master of surreal comedy joins forces with a Camembert piglet join forces to tackle the big issues, such as terrorism, immigration and Ant 'n Dec.

Fans of comedy will need no introduction to Paul Foot - a man often described as a sublime and original comedy genius. In between regular outings at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and collaborations with other big-hitters, such as Noel Fielding and Russell Brand, Paul has found time to get back on tour with the show that offended a thousand piglets. Ahead of his date at the Colchester Arts...
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Arts/Events - Pop-Up Art Market and Open Studios

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Part of the Essex Summer of Arts, a chance to view and buy original pieces from local artists, and explore the history of our newest creative space, all in one day!

This Saturday, 16th of September, two venues in Colchester's cultural quarter will be hosting events perfect for art lovers. Firstsite is the location of a pop-up market where you will have the opportunity to buy directly from regional artists, artisans and makers. Perhaps you're after an original print for a newly decorated room, a unique gift for someone special, or a one-off just for you?...
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Community/Charity - Auld Nag's Folly Pantomime Horse Race

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Why the long face? This Sunday Colchester will see our first ever pantomime horse race. Oh, yes, we will!

Age Concern Colchester have come up with the genius that is the Auld Nag’s Folly Pantomime Horse Race, generously supported by Fisher Jones Greenwood Solicitors. For the past few months teams have been making, shoeing, grooming, breaking-in and training their very own pantomime horse, with help and guidance from Age Concern, all in preparation for Sunday’s events.  The High Street will...
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Local Business Heroes - Style Junki

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Style Junki's Melanie Kelly gives upcycled furniture the love it needs to become a bespoke showstopper

The artist behind Style Junki grew up in the small Essex village of Finchingfield, and has fond memories of visiting Colchester as a child. Wanting to move somewhere with more space once her son left school, she says her fondness for Colchester and its friendly, arty atmosphere made choosing a new location a no-brainer. Always creative, Melanie's first few upcycled furniture pieces were made...
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Local Business Heroes - Sam Kelly, Photographer

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There's a lot to love about our beautiful town, but sometimes it takes a fresh view to discover it. Meet Sam Kelly, a photographer new to Colchester, who tells us, in his own words, why he believes it's the perfect place for his business.

We came to Colchester one year ago to start a new chapter in our family's life. Our son was due to finish secondary school and the town in which we lived, we felt, lacked the variety and opportunity that we needed to move our lives forward.  Coming to Colchester has really changed our paths for the better, the town is vibrant and full of interesting places to discover, you can't get bored...
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The Classic Shaver - Mews Barbers - Church Street

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Do you own a beard? I don't mean 'wear' or 'have' a beard, I mean 'own'. I thought I did. Like many modern gentleman my decision to have a beard has stemmed from the recent trend for a rugged, masculine appearance.

Beards are seen as fashionable and hipster, but do we know what to do with them? I was under the impression that I did, but truth be told, I was probably making it up as I went along. It should be simple to grow a beard- don't shave, and many men do just that and end up with the resulting facial hair. Attitudes to men's grooming has changed enormously in recent years. You only need to take a...
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Kids - Book Review: The Bag by D.J. Cattrell

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The popular Colcestrian children's author has released his new book, the sequel to The Bucket. Colchester Life's youngest member gives her verdict!

D.J. Cattrell (Jason to his friends) doesn't want to educate kids - he wants to inspire them, and believes giggling should be compulsory in any syllabus! As well as conducting story-telling sessions and encouraging kids to perform poetry, he writes magical novels for children that are proving extremely popular. The second, The Bag, has just been released. Colchester Life's youngest member,...
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Kids' Workshops - 'Summer Shorts' Digital Filmmaking

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Summer holidays are looming, and while there is a proliferation of sports and theatre options for kids, if your child is less outdoorsy and would prefer to be behind a camera than in front of it, it can be hard to find something they'll enjoy - until now!

Have you got a budding producer, location scout, lighting technician or documentary maker on your hands? Looking for something interesting and affordable for them to do over the summer holidays? Then read on! CreaTech Academies run summer academies where your child can learn brilliant new digital skills such as filming, editing and digital post-production.  And while we all know digital...
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Community - Rice & Spice Festival

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What is Colchester's 2nd annual diversity festival made of? Why, rice, spice and everything nice, of course!

The second annual Colchester Rice and Spice festival is taking place at Firstsite this Sunday, 9th July from 12 to 5pm The festival brings together Colcestrians from many diverse communities to celebrate the richness of our local culture through food, music and dance. The volunteer-led event is being organised by the Colchester Multi Ethnic Forum, an informal group that brings people together...
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Colchester Food and Drink Festival - 24th June

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The ever popular Colchester Food and Drink Festival returned to Castle Park last weekend, packed with hoards of hungry Colcestrians, keen to try the delights on offer from a variety of local businesses.

We were among those crowds, looking for treats to tempt us and tempted we most certainly were, having stumbled across a business we had been hearing loads about on social media, the Norwegian Bakers. The Norwegian Bakers incorporate vegan ingredients (though they are not an exclusively vegan baker) within their baking to produce a delightful array of cakes and breads. We got rather excited and...
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Arts/Community - Colchester's BIG Sunday

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It's back, and bigger than ever! 600 performances across 19 venues, and it's all FREE!

Colchester's BIG Sunday will take place this Sunday, July 2nd. The free family festival was started as a direct result of the unavoidable cancellation of the well-regarded Colchester Free Festival, leaving a vacuum in our town's annual festival calendar. Dorian Kelly (the man behind the movement) felt something had to be done to showcase the incredible music and arts that make Colchester the...
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Arts & Crafts/Community - Yarn Lovers Monthly Meet-Up

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Knitting is the new yoga - but as an added bonus to the therapeutic benefits, you end up with a beautiful, unique item! Whatever your yarn passion, this new monthly group welcomes crafty Colcestrians.

Erin Summers Norman believes firmly in the benefits of yarn crafts - crochet is her weapon of choice to beat stress and anxiety and, she says, it's helped her through tough times, dealing as she does with a chronic and debilitating illness. On bad days Erin is bed bound, but she's never idle. She teaches crochet privately and sells her gorgeous creations online, but she got to thinking,...
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Learning/Community - Colchester Festival of Lifelong Learning

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Whether you're 16 or 60+ Colchester offers a plethora of adult education opportunities. Come along this weekend and start on a journey of learning something new!

Did you know Colchester is lucky enough to have an organisation dedicated to learning in adult life? Called Learning Never Stops, the charity is made up of local educators and historians (and a certain well-known ex-mayor!) and evolved out of their involvement in Greyfriars when it used to be an adult education college. The trustees believe fervently in the benefits of lifelong learning and...
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Arts/Community - Living Library

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'Borrow' someone fascinating and learn how they live their life at Young Art Kommunity's meaningful event tomorrow.

Kei Patrick is a young Wivenhoe resident volunteering with the Young Art Kommunity in his gap year. Inspired by an event he attended when visiting Oxford, Kei has organised a Living Library, which will run tomorrow, Saturday, June 24, from 10:00 to 17:00 at Firstsite. In this library the books are living people, talking about their own life experience. 'Readers' can ask questions that are...
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Arts - Interview with Ed Gold ahead of his Other Worlds exhibition at Firstsite

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Friday, June 16th sees the opening of Colchester-educated photographer and documentarian Ed Gold's Other Worlds exhibition at Firstsite. With searing honesty he opened up to us about his life and work.

A self-taught photographer, Ed Gold began documenting people and communities whilst working as a farm labourer in Essex in the 1980s. He did a degree in design at the Colchester Institute and an MA in Interactive Multimedia at Central St Martins, but in 2001 he began taking photographs full-time. His major exhibition opening at Firstsite tomorrow is made up of 100 photographs taken over a...
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Competition - Search for a Song!

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Students from UCC compose road safety jingles for new children's book series

Godfrey Obwoya and Rebecca Hamilton are students in their final and penultimate years respectively at the University College Colchester's BA (Hons) in Film Music & Soundtrack Production. They are also finalists in a competition launched by the creators of Larry the London Bus and Friends. Larry the London Bus and Friends is a new children’s book series that teaches children about the...
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Community - The Great Get Together

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We have far more in common than that which divides us - let's get together as a community to prove the late Jo Cox right.

This Saturday, June 17th at GO4 Cafe at the Rec and this Sunday, June 18th at Firstsite, Colchester will hold two of the more than 100,000 events being staged throughout the UK, to bring the entire community together and breathe life into the words of the late Labour MP Jo Cox: We have far more in common than that which divides us. Paella in the Park is a collaboration between Emmaus...
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Community - Frock Swap!

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Get shot of all the clothes you have gone off or (ahem) grown out of, and get a lovely new (to you) outfit instead!

If you operate a one-in, one-out system when it comes to your wardrobe (and if you don't, now's a good time to start!) then Saturday's event at the marvel that is the Arts Centre will be totally up your alley! Mother and daughter team (and Colchester ward councillors!) Jessica and Lesley Scott-Boutell came up with the idea. "Most of us have items hanging in the back of the wardrobe that...
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Events - Weird and Wonderful Wedding Fayre

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Getting married but don't want the meringue dress and disco reception? Then be at the Town Hall on Sunday, for a chance to source some weird and wonderful alternatives!

From the team behind Secret Vintage comes the unique and alternative world of weddings! Hosting its inaugural event on Sunday 4th June in the iconic venue of Colchester Town Hall, the Weird and Wonderful Wedding Fayre was born in response to the requests of both shoppers and traders alike.This inaugural event will bring a whole new world of wedding possibilities to the many vintage,...
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Foodie Friday - Exotic Meat/Vegan Canapes and Cocktail Night at Wild at Spirit

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What to expect from this meat/vegan combo evening? We thought we might be drawing comparisons with Channel 4's 'The Island' but in reality the canapes were intricate, the flavours exotic and the cocktails heady...

The evening cost £25 each, which included a cocktail on entry - particular favourites of the Colchester Life team, were 'Dark and Stormy', a spiced rum and ginger combination and the 'High Tea Martini', a Vodka and Gin based drink, served with a dash of elderflower, cucumber and apple. 10 courses of canapes followed at intervals throughout the evening. Vegans and veggies, don't be put off by...
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Events/Community - Nothing New & Bazaar at The Minories

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Running alongside the ever-wonderful Bazaar this Saturday is a spring market with a difference, selling only pre-loved items creatively recycled, upcycled or repurposed to be given a second life

Like many people in Colchester the Minories are really keen to reduce the impact they have on our environment through waste and consumption, so when it came to planning their annual spring fair they decided to do their bit to help. Now in its third year Nothing New is a fair with a difference, selling only goods that have been recycled, upcycled or pre-loved. The...
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Arts - Letters to Windsor House, Sh!t Theatre

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We talk to the pair behind the performance piece coming to Lakeside Theatre next week which shines a timely light on the comi-tragedy of the lives of Generation Rent.

Colchester-born Rebecca Biscuit and long-time friend and collaborator Louise Mothersole live and work together in an inner London Borough, renting a flat from a 'dodgy' landlord in the regally named Windsor House. When ominous-looking post piled up on their welcome mat addressed to numerous previous tenants, the pair discovered that, under certain circumstances it is not in...
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Arts - How To Survive A Post-Truth Apocalypse: Interview with Francesca Beard

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Lies, lies and damned lies! Colchester Life talks to the ‘Queen of British performance poetry’ ahead of her new show at the Colchester Arts Centre on May 24th, and asks, as democracy dissolves into satire around us, how can we possibly know what is true?

Francesca Beard thought she had already written the vast majority of her crossover theatre/spoken word show, when suddenly in the last year, lying went truly mainstream. Did she have to do a lot of rewriting, I wonder. “Yes, it was a real labour of love," she concedes. "On top of the personal, the philosophical issues, came the zeitgeist of Brexit (“Vote ‘Leave’ to release £350...
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Events/Community - Sofar Colchester

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Sofar is a global network of artists and music lovers who are bringing the magic back to live performance, and Colchester, with its history of creativity, is helping it thrive.

Sofar Sounds started in 2009 when 3 friends, Rafe, Rocky and Dave, attended a gig and found that, with people chatting loudly, clanging glasses and holding up their phones, no-one was really paying much attention to the music. Certain that they weren’t the only ones who went to a performance in the hope of actually listening to the music, they decided to host an cosy gig in a living room in...
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Foodie Friday - Jolly Cakes and Bakes

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We love Foodie Friday here at Colchester Life, and whether you're crazy for cupcakes, or partial to a pasty, today's local business can deliver - with love!

Tatiana Cavalcante is a big-hearted Brazilian with Italian heritage, who spent 10 years in Brighton, working in catering firms big and small, before making a move to Colchester – a town she describes as beautiful, open-minded, family orientated and full of history. (Oh, Tatiana, you had us at ‘beautiful’!) Tatiana’s plan was always to have her own catering business where she could...
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Local Business Heroes - Aster la Vista

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Bespoke floral decorations for events and the home, with a discount for Colchester Life cardholders... Wait, have we missed Mother's Day?!

Gwyn Bilby was made redundant two years ago, but rather than feeling sorry for herself she decided to use her new found freedom to retrain in her real love of floristry. And voila, Aster la Vista was born (and let's face it, who doesn't love a flower-based pun? No? Ok, take it or leaf it. No, really, I don't want to be the bud of jokes. OK, I'll stop now, once and...
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Events/Community - The Trinity Street Festival

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Back by popular demand! A day of free fun in arguably Colchester’s prettiest street, full of great independents! What’s not to love?

It’s official – the street closure signs have gone up: Trinity Traders,the association of independent businesses that line beautiful Trinity Street, has long been an example of what a difference indies can make to a town, with their efforts for Colchester in Bloom and their support and promotion of each other and Colchester itself. Last year’s one-day event, the very first...
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Events - The Secret Vintage Fair

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The location has been revealed, the stallholders are retro-ready and the burlesque dancers have curled their bangs! The Secret Vintage Fair is well and truly back and Colchester Life will be in the mix!

Annnnnd they're back! The Secret Vintage fair is back in Colchester this Sunday, at the Town Hall from 10:30am to 4pm for their usual vintage shenanigans and more! As always they've pulled together over 50 traders selling the finest vintage and retro clothes, accessories and homewares they can lay their hands on. Some are even coming from abroad just for the...
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Community - Jane's Walk

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A long weekend of free walking tours, organised and led by local people, to encourage us to explore, reimagine and celebrate our neighbourhoods.

This May 5th-7th will see Colchester host our 7th Jane’s Walk event (which leaves us all the more shamefaced that until recently we had no idea it existed!) It’s definitely time for us get involved in this wonderful, worthy initiative that sees local people, of all ages and backgrounds, devise and lead walking tours that can focus on almost any aspect of a neighbourhood, and on almost any...
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News & Reviews - Updates from our Recently Featured Arts, Events & Social Enterprise Blogs

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Colour at The Minories, exposure for JaJaJa Books, opera tickets from Colchester Classics, support for Find Your Spark & Colchester Life at the Vintage Fair! Wow!!

The Colchester Life family grows every week, it seems, and there is so much to update you on, gentle readers, that we've decided to create a mega blog, to make sure we don't miss anyone out! First up, you'll remember we previewed the Between Things exhibition at The Minories recently. Well, we attended the opening and we loved it! This is a show full of colour and texture. You move through...
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Local Business Heroes - Fit4Life

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A fitness company where all levels are welcome, which promises massive results (and 10% off all sessions to Colchester Life cardholders!) is launching a new 60-day concept on May 1st.

Fit4Life run group fitness classes which offer the additional benefit of the expertise of personal trainers. This system, they say, means that clients get much more out of each session than if they were to go to a larger gym, which can often a bit soulless and can certainly be intimidating to those of us who aren’t natural gym bunnies. Fit4Life is made up of Steve and Marty, who are...
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Competition - Essex’s Best Youth Tourist Attraction 2017

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The search is on to find Essex’s Best Youth Tourist Attraction, and if you're aged between 16 and 25 you could be the one to spread the word about Colchester, and grab yourself some prizes into the bargain!

Essex Business School at the University of Essex is celebrating the launch of its BSc Tourism Management degree with an exciting competition for 16 to 25 year olds, offering a prize package of summer days out worth up to £500. Budding photographers, and fans of the fantastic tourist attractions around the county, are invited to post a pic of their favourite Essex place to visit...
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Competition/Local Business Heroes - Colchester Classics

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Partial to Puccini? With a 10% discount for Colchester Life cardholders and an EXCLUSIVE competition to win tickets to see La Boheme, Liz is a gal you'll want to get to know!

This year Colchester Classics is celebrating 11 years as a classical music service to clever collectors and those just starting their love affair with music, choirs and concerts. Founder Liz Leatherdale is a Colcestrian with an impressive classical music heritage and a passion for providing great, personal service to help people on a journey of...
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Vegan Week - The Den and the Best of the Rest...

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Colchester's original 100% vegan cafe has blazed a trail for all these other enterprising vegan businesses.

The Den at Twenty-Three, the very first vegan cafe in Colchester, was opened in 2015 by husband and wife team, Jennifer and Rob. Their aim was and still is to show how diverse vegan food can be, and that a vegan diet can still include the food you may have loved as a kid, such as burgers, cake and ice-cream! While they still face...
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Vegan Week - Tea by the Sea

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Need a little vitamin sea? Beach hut hire with a difference, plus vegan afternoon teas, created by Eden Living

Colcestrian Joanne Penny grew up in her parents' restaurant and hotel, cutting her teeth as 'Chief Sampler' for the Italian chef, and moving on to work in catering and customer service for all sorts of events and celebrations. As a home cook for her three children Joanne was always keen to use organic, home-grown and locally-sourced ingredients. When her daughters...
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Vegan Week - Wild at Spirit

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This new whippersnapper of a coffee house in lovely Eld Lane boasts an ice-cream parlour and fresh breakfasts & lunches - and it may just save a few relationships!

Are you a vegan whose partner is comfortably carnivorous? Or perhaps you're a meat-eater but you're dating a vegetarian you'd like to impress? Well, dear reader, newbie in town, Wild at Spirit may just be the place to score you some brownie points. More than just a cosy little coffeehouse, Wild at Spirit, which opened just two months ago, offers good quality vegan and vegetarian...
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Vegan Week - Organic Alex

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Don’t just survive, thrive on a plant-based diet, with the help of vegan catering and coaching from raw vegan specialist, Organic Alex – with bonus exclusive recipe!

Born in Suffolk and educated in Colchester and Ipswich, Alex Cave returned from a life in London to our town 17 years ago. With an interest in healthy living he began running an organic wholefood shop and his customers soon nicknamed him ‘Organic Alex’. When he qualified as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach at the end of 2015 it seemed like the perfect moniker for his new vegan catering...
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Arts/Events - Dr. Phil's Health Revolution at the Arts Centre & Between Things at The Minories

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We can hardly keep up with all the amazing stuff going on in Colchester lately! So much so, we’ve had to combine two fantastic events into one bonus blog (and on the day of rest too… ah, well, eternity in hell was pretty much a certainty anyway!)

Get a health check with a difference this Thursday, April 13th at the Arts Centre. Dr. Phil Hammond comes to Colchester with his funny, thought-provoking and extremely topical show, Dr. Phil’s Health Revolution. (That’s the English Dr. Phil, not the big, bald Texan guy who says things like, “Well, you’re just meaner than a junkyard dog, ain’t ya?”) Described by the...
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Events/Kids - JaJaJa Books presents Ranvir Cannot Hear

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Got curious little ones? Then you’ll want to be at the GO4 Café @ the Rec on Good Friday, for a delightful, inclusive event.

Is there no end to the talents in our town?! Genevieve Yusuf may be exotically named but she’s a born-and-bred Colcestrian who after a few years of living abroad and across Essex has returned to roost with her young family in a town she feels has a great sense of community and opportunity. Genevieve is the founder of JaJaJa Books, a company that holds a dominant place in a niche market...
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Foodie Friday - Jack's Food Shack Catering

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A little ol' place where we can eat together.

The Jack behind Jack's Food Shack Catering is Colchester born and raised, with a background in home cooking and a knowledge of nutrition from his work in health and fitness. Wanting to do something he loves in his historic home town, he started Jack's Shack, which fits perfectly into the quirky and enterprising atmosphere we seem to be creating in recent years. Jack's Shack is keen to...
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Arts & Community - Signals

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Signals is a multi award-winning arts and education charity based in the heart of Colchester.

Signals provides creative digital learning through projects that enable disadvantaged groups to work in mediums they wouldn't otherwise have access to. Beginning as a community media and video workshop back in 1988 and backed by the Arts Council and Essex County Council, among others, it has now become a regional hub for filmmaking and digital arts. In 2016 Signals’ Dig Deeper project...
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Arts - BP Portrait Award 2016 Exhibition

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Colchester is one of only three locations outside of London lucky enough to host this stunning exhibition, opening this Friday, April 7th. Definitely unmissable!

We are so excited about this exhibition, and can't quite believe our town's luck! Travelling from the National Portrait Gallery to Lincoln, Edinburgh and Colchester only, you won't want to miss the chance to see the winners and finalists of the 2016 BP Portrait Award, coming to Firstsite from April 7th. Selected from 2,557 entries by artists from 80 countries...
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Local Business Heroes - The Wright Fit

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Fitness for people who don't do fitness! Personal training to help you achieve health and happiness. And with a 10% discount for Colchester Life cardholders, there really is no excuse (dammit!)

Madelyn Wright came to Colchester 13 years ago to study psychology at the University of Essex and has never left! Now with strong roots in our town she has taken the step of starting her own business as a healthy living mentor, incorporating personal training with self-development, to create a holistic approach to health and fitness. Madelyn makes the somewhat...
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Local Business Heroes - Optical Revolution

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Should’ve gone to….? Naaah! Get treated like an individual at Colchester’s independent opticians and get a very worthwhile 10% off your glasses!

Optical Revolution on the High Street is one of a small group of independent opticians who are eager to provide the best customer service and help everyone to improve their vision with a touch of originality and style. They offer a full range of eye care services including eye examinations, contact lenses, all types of frames and lenses, sunglasses and much more. They pride themelves...
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Arts/Activities - The Wrong Film Club

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Who doesn't love the guilty pleasure of mocking your way through an absolute stinker of a movie?! Well, now you can do it in a cinema setting with absolute impunity, and enjoy the heckles of like-minded viewers!

The Wrong Film Club's philosophy is to break all the rules of the cinema. There is no reverential silence, no shushing inconsiderate people who feel the need to discuss the film as it's showing, no tutting at loud rustling of sweet wrappers. Instead, the audience is encouraged to berate, mock, and heckle the film as much and as loudly as possible. The only real rule is, if...
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Essex Vegan Festival

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Last weekend Colchester's Charter Hall played host to the Essex Vegan Festival. Over the last few years Colchester has become a bit of a hub for veganism, so it was only fitting that the very first Essex festival should be hosted here.

Colchester has become an awesome place to be a vegan! With a total of three plant based cafes in town - The Den, Nourish Co and Découverte, venues such as Cafe Sala selling (incredible) cakes, and even the Warehouse offering a vegan menu; a trip to Colchester should be on every vegans to do list. And last weekend it got even better. The Essex Vegan Festival was...
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Arts - Love at Firstsite

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If next week is anything to go by the big golden gallery is pulling out all the stops to rekindle its fledgling romance with Colcestrians

You told us what you wanted from Firstsite and we believe next week's menage a trois of exhibitions will tick a lot of boxes. More community involvement? Check! More local works and pride in our heritage? Check! More art on those huge curved walls? Check, check and check. On Thursday, March 9th, Firstsite will be the venue for a pop-up exhibition...
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Social Enterprise - Find Your Spark!

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Colchester has a fine history of effective social enterprises doing valuable work – Find Your Spark may be a relative newcomer, but it’s certainly marking its mark!

Originally from South London, Michelle Pritchard was first introduced to the charms of Colchester by the TV programme Escape to the Country (Series 16, episode 2! Honestly!). She settled in leafy Lexden about 18 months ago and has focused on relaunching the social enterprise she began in Newham, East London, after the London riots. Keenly aware that young people, in particular those...
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I Roll Up My Sleeves - Business Networking With A Difference!

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Last week Colchester Life's Liz attended an event run by ‘I Roll Up My Sleeves’, who have taken an entirely different approach to networking - one which not only helps local businesses, but the community too!

Most small business owners have been to networking events at some stage or other. Sometimes these can be a great experience, where you meet some good people and learn something. Other times they can be a bit deflating. One thing that all these groups have in common is that initial awkwardness of walking into a room full of strangers and talking about yourself – proactively telling others...
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Local Business Heroes - Valentine’s Offers

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Last week we featured the gorgeous Valentine’s menus and treats being offered by the Cardamon Tea Lounge (which are still available, by the way!), and we promised you some more Valentine’s offers to get you all loved up.

Mersea Road hairdressers, Models Hair and Beauty have come up trumps with a cracker of a deal – treat yourself to a Hollywood wax, Brazilian manicure and a wash & blow dry, all for just £60. This offer is only valid until the day after Valentine's Day and the conditions are one deal per person and all elements of the package must all be done on the same day. Thai 1, the...
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Community - Colchestersoup

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Providing a positive and encouraging environment for all community-minded people who want to make a difference - and a bit of cash too!

Colchestersoup is celebrating its two-year anniversary this month. In that time there have been 19 events, which distributed £14,216, donated by 902 people. At least 76 hours have been devoted to making 19 different soup recipes, served accompanied by 1,900 locally-sourced fresh bread rolls. 73 groups/individuals have had the chance to pitch an idea to a room full of positive,...
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Community - Colchester Poetry Project

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The Colchester Community Poetry Project is a book of poetry to help raise awareness for our town’s homeless in connection with Emmaus and the GO4 Café in Trinity Church.

Can you write poetry? Alice, of Interesting In Colchester, has come up with The Colchester Community Poetry Project, which aims to support our homeless guests and involve as many local people as possible. Her vision is of a hard-back book, of around 200-250 pages. It will consist of 100+ poems, all on a theme relating to Colchester (the castle,...
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Arts – [UNIT], a unique experimental live audio/visual project, hits the Colchester Arts Centre

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Colchester Life talks to Bill Vine, one-third of [UNIT], a collaboration between two musicians and a visual artist, with strong Colchester connections. They bring their new show to the Arts Centre on Wednesday, January 18th.

Bill Vine has a PhD in Electroacoustic Music. My immediate reaction upon hearing this (which I’m rather afraid says a lot about me!) is to ask if he uses the title of doctor at every available opportunity, as I undoubtedly would. “Only on official documents,” I’m told. Bill’s modesty is charming – he played his first ever gig at the Colchester Arts Centre when he was a 17-year-old...
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Events - Hunt and Darton's Colchester Arts Centre Jumble Sale

Colchester Arts Centre's annual jumble sale promises not only bargains but a performance art experience! We talk to Hunt & Darton themselves before tomorrow's big event.

Tell us about yourselves and what inspired you to work together? Hunt & Darton are a Live Art Collaboration between Jenny Hunt and Holly Darton. We have both practiced art since graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2003 and been working together for 10 years. Approaching Live Art from a Fine Art background we work across mediums with a sculptural approach to performance, choreographing...
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Local Business Heroes, Special Event - The Big Vintage Jolly!

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Lesley's Girls Vintage at the GO4 Market is having one last big blow out on 21st December- vintage gifts, drinks, live music, the works!

Tell us some more about your business and why you decided to start a small business? Well, for starters I love history and I love vintage and so I started Lesley’s Girls Vintage in 2011 after I had my second child Jonny, when I wanted to get back to work but do something different from my previous HR consultant career. Initially I launched it with my sister Susannah, and we named it after...
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Local Business Heroes- Melissa Faux Design

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Colchester Life met Melissa Faux at the Made in Colchester Fair on the 3rd of December and we were drawn in by her beautiful products and the unique limited edition prints designed by herself so we decided that she had to be the feature of one of our small business hero blogs. We also made a cheeky purchase of her stunning make up bags so one of our lucky friends will be receiving this Christmas...

Tell us some more about your business and why you decided to start a small business? My business launched in September 2016, after graduating last year and after a string of bad luck this year, I decided to focus all my energy into making something of myself and creating a brand, and in all honesty I have been completely overwhelmed by the response and the positive comments I have received...
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Local Business Heroes - Models Hair & Beauty

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A hair and beauty salon with exotic roots, keen to spread a little samba-style to Colchester, and a discount for Colchester Life cardholders - don’t say we don’t spoil you!

Models Hair & Beauty on Mersea Road is owned by Maria, a Brazilian with 30 years of hairdressing experience, much of it in her native land, who believes our growing town of Colchester was the perfect choice of location for her salon, which she opened just over a year ago. The unisex salon offers a wide range of services, from the usual men’s and children’s crops, to intricate bridal...
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Small Business Heroes- Revolver Retro

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The whole of Colchester shred a tear when Revolver Retro closed it's shop on Sir Isaac's Walk but we have been treated to their return to Colchester when they opened a pop up in Red Lion Walk in mid December. Colchester Life caught up with Revolver's Karim...

Tell us some more about your business and why you decided to open a pop up shop in Red Lion Walk? Revolver opened its doors in Sir Isaac's walk over seven years ago. We sold mainly vintage clothing and accessories. Over the years we have definitely seen a change in people's shopping habits. The footfall in town lessened as people began to shop more and more online . Sadly we decided...
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Colchester's New Creative Hub - 37 Queen Street

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Colchester Life was at the official opening of 37 Queen St, Colchester’s new creative hub, this week, and we were impressed by the possibilities!

As part of the first steps towards the regeneration of the St Botolph’s area, SPACE, a leading visual arts organisation, has converted the old police station in Queen Street into an attractive, practical creative hub, providing studios, desk space for co-working and networking facilities for creative and digital businesses, artists and makers. This lovely listed building is set over three...
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#RedforRobin - 10th December 2016- Lighting up Jumbo

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On the 10th of December, the Robin Cancer Trust will be painting the town red by lighting up Jumbo, we caught up with Toby Freeman CEO of the Robin Cancer Trust to tell us more...

Tell us some more about your charity and why it was set up? The charity was set-up following the untimely death of my brother Robin, aged just 24. He was diagnosed in early 2011 with a rare form of germ cell cancer, and following a ten month battle he passed away on Saturday 10th December. Whilst he was ill we swiftly realised that there was a lack of...
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Colchester Arts - The Box, by Badac Theatre Company

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Essex-based Badac Theatre Company returns to Colchester Arts Centre on Wednesday, 7th December with their intense, visceral immersive theatre experience, The Box.

Born originally out of Badac founder Steve Lambert’s stumbling upon a documentary about the use of segregation in prisons whilst channel hopping, The Box is simultaneously a stand-alone piece and part of the company's aim to explore a range of human rights issues and share, through an intense theatrical experience, that work with audiences. Steve’s late night viewing moved him to...
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Foodie Friday- Lunch by Lancaster

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It's a great British tradition, the cooked breakfast. Mr S and I are perpetually on the hunt to find the best that Colchester can offer. This task has become more difficult since I took the decision to become veggie.

Enter stage left, Lunch by Lancaster on St Isaac's walk. Renowned for it's American inspired sandwiches, Mr S has a firm favourite in the North Carolina panini. Lunch has become the place to get your ultimate takeaway lunch. All the preparation of the meat is done in house and all of their paninis are inspired by Amercian states. recently a range of burgers have been added to...
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Local Business Heroes - Maddison's

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Run an independent local café, restaurant or canteen and have need of a reliable, fast and resourceful stockist of catering and janitorial items? Then look no further – Maddison’s is on the case (with a discount for Colchester Life cardholders, of course)!

Maddison’s are an independent non-food wholesalers, specialising in disposable catering and washroom products. They supply business to business – mostly restaurants, schools, canteens and factories, and they love working with and helping independent local businesses and meeting like-minded people. Maddison’s started 21 years ago as a man in a van supplying to restaurants...
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Local Business Heroes - Secret Hamper

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Colchester Life has fallen in love with this new local business, which offers a lovely way to make someone else feel very special, and an opportunity to enhance your karma! And for Colchester Life cardholders, an extra incentive to spread some warm and fuzzies!

When you think of hampers what comes to mind? Luxurious bottles of fizz and indulgent chocolate truffles packed in an unwieldy wicker basket with lots of wasteful packaging? Such an ostentatious gift may get your name remembered till the goodies are gone, but Secret Hamper has an altogether different and far more altruistic aim in mid. Secret Hamper offers a service which enables all of us...
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"What I Learned From Johnny Bevan" by Luke Wright

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A review of "What I Learned From Johnny Bevan" performed by Luke Wright at Colchester Arts Centre

On Wednesday 23rd November, I had the pleasure of attending my first ever live performance of poetry. The poetry, rendered in the guise of a play, was performed by our very own Colcestrian Luke Wright. Wright told us during a Q&A that they play format was chosen with the intention of bringing poetry to the mainstream masses. I consider myself to be part of that group. "What I...
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Local Business Heroes - Eclettico

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A family-run design-led retail shop situated in a beautiful Grade II listed building in the heart of Colchester, offering a special treat for Colchester Life cardholders

Those Colcestrians who, like me, have been away from our town for a number of years may recall a pretty little shop called The Craftsman in Trinity Street, which always had a cheerful window display and offered some gift-giving inspiration. Well, when the owner of that shop made plans to retire some years ago the Naylors decided that, rather than bemoan its closure and look elsewhere for their...
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Local Business Heroes - Salon Thirty

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A new concept salon in picturesque Priory Street offers London-levels of training and cutting edge sensibilities without the eye-watering price tag - and if you’re a Colchester Life cardholder in need of a new style there’s an attractive discount on offer!

Colchester Life has high hopes for the St Botolph’s regeneration area, what with the opening of the new creative business centre at 37 Queen Street and the forthcoming Curzon development, so it’s good to know young business owners also see the potential – Salon Thirty is a new hair and beauty salon offering, among other innovations, a buffet of super quick 30-minute blow dry styles...
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Foodie Friday - Seasonal Offerings from Colchester Life favourite, the Cardamon Tea Lounge

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Gorgeous details are sure to put you in a festive spirit, and there's even special workshops for the little ones!

It's no secret that the Cardamon Tea Lounge is one of Colchester Life's favourite places for a cuppa, but we are truly bowled over by the sumptuousness of Izabela's latest holiday creations. I am definitely taking Bean for a Snowflake Brunch - I just know her eyes will light up! And adults are just as well catered for with the North Pole...
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Interview with Colchester-born poet Luke Wright

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Ahead of his performance of the epic poem, What I Learned from Johnny Bevan, at the Arts Centre, on November 23rd, Colchester Life and Luke Wright find themselves discussing definitions – of success, of one’s self and of his show.

Colchester born and educated Luke Wright has been described as “the funniest and most brilliant poet of his generation” and “the most celebrated live poet” working today. Before we even talk I have begun to fret on his behalf, that boy, that’s an awful lot of lot of hype to live up to. When I express my concerns Luke laughs wearily. The trouble is, he says, “if you believe the hype,...
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Review - Antarctica by Chris Dobrowolski, Colchester Arts Centre, November 2nd 2016

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Colchester-based artist Chris Dobrowolski performed his Antarctica show, recounting his time as artist-in-residence in our southernmost continent, to a packed Arts Centre last week. Colchester Life was in the crowd.

As many of you will know the Arts Centre's 'pay what you can afford' Wednesdays offer a chance for the less financially lubricated among us to see emerging and established artists’ exhilarating, intriguing or just plain bonkers performances we may not otherwise be able to access. Occasionally you might see something life-affirming. Chris Dobrowolski's Antarctica is just that, but uncommonly...
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Foodie Friday - GO4 Café's Soup Bar Appeal

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Our local ‘coffee with a conscience’ cafe is an independent business responding to a local need – and they could do with your help.

For some time now the good people at the GO4 Market Café in Trinity Church have been running a ‘pay it forward’ breakfast scheme, where customers can add an extra fiver to their bill to pay for a cooked breakfast and hot drink for a homeless person, or simply make a donation when passing by. The café has been amazed by Colchestrians’ generosity and is serving anywhere up to 20...
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Foodie Friday - A ComplEAT Tapas Service? Si, Senor!

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Popular family-owned caterers now running ComplEAT Tapas at The Blue Ivy on North Hill - and offering a great deal for Colchester Life card holders!

Do you like the sound of authentic Spanish tapas tickling your tastebuds? Then, Colchester, you are in for a treat! Offering everything from the adventurous vieiras con morcilla (scallops served with a Spanish-style blood sausage) to the more familiar (but equally tasty) tortilla and paella, Karen Leach’s catering company, ComplEAT, now has a permanent home at the Blue Ivy Hotel on North Hill...
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Local Business Heroes - Atlantis Office

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Family-run specialist posture seating and office furniture, with a Colchester Life card-holder discount and free gift offer - don’t sit for anything less!

Born and bred in Colchester Joel Ivell decided as a young man that studying business wasn’t quite floating his boat. Instead he dived right into getting a business running, and started Atlantis Office originally as an online shop selling office furniture. Over the years he started to specialise in posture seating (or what he calls bad back chairs!), and soon realised that people need...
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Colchester Artist Comes in from the Cold

Colchester-based fine art maker Chris Dobrowolski returns to Colchester Arts Centre on 2 November with a re-edit of his performance lecture, Antarctica.

What’s a fine art maker? What exactly is a performance lecture? And how on earth did a Colchestrian find himself in the world’s southernmost continent and what did he do there?! So many questions came to mind when Colchester Life met up with Chris for a swift pint last week that we weren’t quite sure where to begin. Braintree-born and Colchester-based Chris Dobrowolski, who is at once...
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​Local Business Heroes – Tendring Fruit

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Pressing otherwise-unloved apples into useful service!

Tendring Fruit grows fruit for the retail sector, but, like any orchard, they often end up with a lot of grade 2 fruit - still delicious - but too small, too large, or just plain too wonky to go to the super-picky supermarkets. Tendring Fruit refuses to bin these less attractive fruits and instead presses them into all-natural juices, bursting with tangy goodness. Their award...
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The BIG Garden at Highwoods Country Park Celebrated its Annual Apple Day

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There may not be a ‘appley’ ever after for this much-loved community garden, and that’s something we should all be concerned about.

Saturday, 24th September saw The BIG Garden invite fans of all things appley to come and enjoy the glorious sunshine in this vibrant and fruitful space, sample some apple treats and have a whole lot of fun. Bean and I pitched up after lunch and had a wonderful afternoon helping to create fresh-squeezed apple juice so full of flavour and goodness it will blow your socks off, sampling...
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Review - Grain Restaurant

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I must admit I mourned a little when Hudson and Hudson closed its doors. It's understated smart dining, ever-changing seasonal menu and reasonable pricing made it a firm favourite of mine. Fast forward several months later though and I spied something that could refill that gap in Colchester's dining landscape. Grain, a crowdfunded project by a couple of local chefs started popping up over social media and I couldn't help get a spark of excitement for them.

Their ethos seemed to surround everything I love, local and seasonal produce, simple but beautiful dishes and the idea of serving more of a tasting menu rather than the usual three course format. I mainly love this idea of lots of little plates as it means I can be a total pig and try everything! I finally found the time to try out the restaurant last month and...
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Colchester Castle

Heritage Weekend provided the perfect opportunity to visit a faithful old friend, with much to offer.

From fond memories of being led around Roman exhibits on school trips, running around the stone ruins under the walkway, to the thrill of hearing the distinct ‘plop’ upon throwing copper coins down the well in the entrance lobby, Colchester Castle Museum has been such a constant in many of our lives that it’s easy to take its presence for granted. Not having visited for over a year, Bean...
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Local Business Heroes - AJ Photos & Designs

A new photography studio in town offers professional shots, instant printing, gift personalisation, and brings a little colour to Eld Lane!

AJ Photos and Designs was opened recently by Jonathan and Angeles, a married couple who have been visiting friends and relatives in Colchester for the last 11 years, and finally decided that our town was the place for them! They cite the relaxed feel to the town and its friendly residents as instrumental in their decision to call Colchester home. With a wealth of photography experience...
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Local Business Heroes - The Cardamon Tea Lounge

Master tea blender Izabela opened the Cardamon Tea Lounge to share her passion for the finest teas, but she has also managed to create a little oasis of calm in the centre of Colchester. Colchester Life visited one of our absolute favourite places for a cuppa, and asked Izabela to explain her vision.

Izabela has been interested in tea for seven years and since those very first few months she has been planning the details of her own tearoom. Now she has made her dreams a reality in the charming Cardamon Tea Lounge. After many years travelling, including 3 years running a vegan restaurant in Barcelona, trilingual Izabela arrived in Colchester 11 years ago. She set about...
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Colchester Vegan Fair

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Over the last few years, Colchester seems to have become a bit of a vegan hot spot, with three vegan cafes and numerous other ventures operating in the area. So it was no surprise that Colchester's third vegan fair last weekend was packed out.

Held at one of our favourite venues, the Waiting Room, a variety of stalls sold everything from cupcakes to a vegan version of scotch eggs.  One of the busiest stands was Battered, selling a delicious take on 'fish' and chips.  Healthy options were also available from Nourish Co, a local cafe owned by Colchester Life's very own April!
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Colchester Castle Bee Trail

There’s a buzz in the air, as Colchester’s Castle Park plays host to a beehive trail this summer!

There are 17 hives to spot, each decorated by a local pack of Cubs (2016 being their 100th anniversary) dotted around the Upper Park and Hollytree meadow. The hives have plaques on them bearing a nugget of information you must use to answer the questions about bees on the reverse of the trail. The map and quiz is available here: Bee Trail Leaflet Castle Park really is...
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Town to Sea Trail (and on to Wivenhoe!)

As the photos show Bean and I did this walk on quite a cold, blustery day, but with our current good weather, I would think it would be an even more pleasant experience, so make haste while the sun shines!

You’ll have seen from our last post that Bean and I don’t mind getting a bit muddy, so we were undaunted by the prospect of tackling the 2-mile long Town to Sea Trail from the town centre to the quayside of the River Colne at the Hythe. In fact, we were enjoying ourselves so much that we carried on to Wivenhoe, another couple of miles down the river bank! The trail is marked by 15...
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Small Business Hero- Lamb and Bear

Lamb and Bear is a delightful children's wear brand, launched in 2015. Colchester Life caught up with Alex, the creative force behind the brand to find out what she loves about Colchester.

Firstly tell us a bit about your business and why you decided to start it? I run a children’s clothing line called Lamb & Bear which I started at the end of 2015. I decided to launch my own brand after becoming a little obsessed with printed leggings for my son, and through blogging I’ve noticed there’s a huge demand for quirky prints on children’s clothing. Prints that aren’t too...
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Colchester Mum - Highwoods Country Park

​Hi! I’m Jade and I have an eight-year-old daughter, Bean (her nickname since the womb).

We recently moved back to Colchester after many years abroad and we’re enjoying exploring all that the town has to offer. However, as a single mum (who doesn’t drive!) it can be difficult to come up with ways of keeping Bean entertained that don’t cost the earth - luckily Colchester keeps coming up trumps with fun activities to while away the weekends. This week we got down and dirty in...
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​COMEDY IN COLCHESTER!

Colchester's has always had a comedy scene – the Arts Centre plays hosts to a number of big names, as well as the Funny Farm in Wivenhoe – and in the last three years, it's grown into something much bigger.

The Colchester Comedy Festival has acted as a great catalyst for performers from all levels to test their mettle, with high profile acts rubbing shoulders with first timers in the ever popular New Comedian of the Year Competition, as well as providing workshops for those wanting to take steps into the world of comedy. On top of that, The Unmistakable Scent of Leopard – the name deriving from...
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Christmas Secret Vintage Fair Venue is... Firstsite!

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The festive Christmas edition in Colchester of the Secret Vintage Fair in Colchester's own Firstsite!

As always we're pulling together over 60 traders selling the finest vintage and retro clothes, accessories and homewares they can lay their hands on. Featuring once again live music from the likes of Tallulah Goodtimes, Fox, Wiggle and Sass and more, as well as workshops, vintage hair tutorials and fashion show. There will be live music on the day from acts to be announced. What is more the...
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‘No 1 Balkan Express’ Arrives in Colchester

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BOF Productions are hosting a benefit event for Fresh Beginnings, a local charity supporting refugees in to the area. The event will be held at Firstsite in the evening of 28th November after the Secret Vintage Fair which takes place there during the day.

BOF productions in association with Firstsite and the Secret Vintage Fair present a Gypsy, Balkan and Electroswing extravaganza supporting Fresh Beginnings refugee support organisation, with live music from Band of Fools, and coming down from London - Gypsy Dynamite. Diverse Entertainment in Cultural Hub The Band of Fools, who are brains behind BOF productions, will be performing at the Secret...
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Colchester On Sea

This summer Firstsite is hosting Colchester on Sea. The field behind the gallery has been transformed with tons of activities for children on offer. The event is open every day throughout the summer holidays from 10am to 5pm.

Full details can be found on the Firstsite website.
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Colchester's Hidden Gems - GO4 Market Cafe

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This weekend marks the relaunch of one of Colchester's hidden gems, GO4 Market Cafe

The GO4 Market Café is one of Colchester’s real hidden gems. As well as a café, which make a fine cup of coffee, the market is an amazing place to shop. You will find stalls from some of Colchester’s best small businesses, offering everything from beautiful handmade items to stunning vintage fashion. If you have yet to discover GO4, this weekend is a great time for your first visit. GO4 is...
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Ten Things we Love.....Foodie Havens

Colchester has an amazing selection of place where you can wine and dine yourself but the team at Colchester Life always find it to the smallest details that make you fall in love with a place so we share why we have fallen for some of Colchester foodie havens.

1.Pop ups alongside local music and pies with yummy mash from The Waiting room and the Orange vans of Burger and Beyond gracing the kitchen of The Bull, you know you can enjoy your dinner and listen to great music without even having to change venue. 2.Staring at all the art, butterflies and vintage China plates on the walls in the Church Street Tavern whilst sipping an elderflower...
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Seven Days

Stuck for something to do over the next seven day, never fear the Colchester Life team has searched high and low for the pick of Colchester's wealth of activities to keep you occupied...

Shop 20th June Apple and Pears Pop Up Shop Colchester Life's own Liz, takes up residence in Red Lion Yard for 2 days only so step in to her world of stunning plus size fashion and find yourself something pretty to wear for the weekend. Can't make it down over the weekend, head over to her website and support one of our amazing independent businesses. Eat 20th June The Waiting Room...
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Seven Days

Stuck for something to do over the next seven day, never fear the Colchester Life team has searched high and low for the pick of Colchester's wealth of activities to keep you occupied...

13th June Renegade- Twisters A new alt music night storms in to Colchester at Twisters, who are teaming up with local heroes Revolver Vintage for a night of bopping along to Northern soul classics, 60s garage and 90s Britpop. As a little extra incentive to get those dancing shoes on, the kind peeps at Revolver and Twisters are giving out a goodie bag and there are 2 bespoke cocktails to...
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Small Business Heroes - Sash and Veil

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Our latest small business hero is Heather and her beautiful business Sash and Veil.

Firstly tell us a bit about your business and why you decided to start it?I design and create luxury bridal accessories from my home studio in Wivenhoe. I have always had a love of fabrics and embroidery going back to when I was a child and was taught to sew by my grandmother. I went on to study Fashion illustration at at London College of Fashion and then did my degree in Fashion Design and...
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Eating Out - The Den at Twenty Three

When I first heard that Colchester was getting its very own vegan restaurant, along with every other vegetarian and vegan in the area, I was extremely excited. I was also a bit nervous - I so wanted it to be amazing. And thankfully The Den didn't disappoint!

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Small Business Blogs - Eranox Creations

This week’s featured Colchester business is Eranox Creations. Founded by Gail Schomberg, three years ago, Eranox Creations is an eclectic range of jewellery with something for everyone. As Gail explains the range is “handmade jewellery for both adults and children. Mostly costume jewellery but I do also use semi-precious gem stones as well”.

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On The Election Campaign Trail - Bob Russell

As our election series comes to a close with 2 days until the General Election, we caught up with our current MP hoping for re-election, chatting about Colchester's green spaces and those lazy Sunday afternoons....

How long have you lived in Colchester and tell us one of your favourite things about the town? Aged four, I moved to Colchester (from Nayland) with my parents and older brother in 1950. We lived in Nayland Road for around four years and then we moved to Mile End Road. I love Colchester, so to select one of my favourite things is difficult......but I will choose Castle Park from amongst...
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