Stay Cool This Christmas

Article by Daniel Browne 16.12.15

Christmas is supposedly a time for peace, love and joy to all mankind. However, it can so often become a stressful period fraught with worrying, fall outs, and trying to live up to what society has come to view as being a perfect Christmas. It doesn’t need to be like that, though.

With so many people saying that the festive period is a stressful time of year, I’d like to share my top tips for ensuring Christmas is indeed filled with peace, love and joy.

Cut down the ‘to do’ list

There’s just so much we have to do at Christmas time, right? Wrong. The question to ask yourself here is ‘what will happen if I don’t do this?’ If the answer is anything less than COMPLETE DISASTER, consider removing it from the list. The aim here is to cut down on the amount you have to do at Christmas by realising that you don’t actually have to do all those things.

Reduce the gift list

Have a look at the gift list you’ve written and consider whether you need to buy presents for all of those people. If you only see someone once a year (at Christmas), is it really necessary to buy them a present? Thinking about who you really need to buy presents for should help you reduce your gift list and in the process alleviate any stress you may feel about affording to buy all the presents or wondering what on Earth to get someone.

Tell yourself that grand gestures are not really necessary

It can be easy to get carried away at Christmas, but are the grand gestures really worth the stress that can accompany them? If you feel the need to get a present for someone, it doesn’t need to be expensive. Smaller, simpler gestures can often mean more to the recipient, so keep this tip in mind when planning for the big day.

Wrap as you go

I don’t think anyone likes to spend Christmas Eve wrapping all of the presents. It can be time consuming and you could be doing more enjoyable things with your time. Wrapping presents as you buy them can make it seem like less of a chore.

Cut down on the obsessive cleaning

If you have family or friends coming to visit you over the festive period, by all means clean up the public areas of your home, such as the kitchen, bathroom and living room. The private areas of your home (i.e. the rooms where your guests won’t be going) can wait though. Letting standards slip slightly over Christmas isn’t such a bad thing. Once the festivities are over you’ll be able to get all of the housework done, but it’s good to be able to take some time out to enjoy yourself and not worry about how clean the house is.

A bit of cheating is ok

It’s lovely if everything is homemade and perfect, but the reality is that it’s time consuming, often more expensive, and can be stressful. Buying items such as ready-made stuffing, gravy granules, and an easy to carve turkey crown can save you time, money, and a whole lot of stress. This allows you to relax a bit more and enjoy the day.

It’s all in the planning

I’m a big fan of making lists for just about everything in life. It provides a focus and shows a concrete plan for something. Making a list in advance of all the things you need to do in the lead up to Christmas can help bring order to chaos and you may well find that everything runs a bit smoother than usual. Plan who you are going to buy presents, what you are going to buy them, and what your budget for gifts is. Work out what food you need for the period and start buying items in advance. Doing things this way can be much easier than leaving it all until the last minute and going into meltdown.


It’s not all up to you. If you have a partner, children or other family members, be sure to get them involved and delegate certain tasks to them. Not only will it make your role a bit easier; it’s also positive to involve others in the preparation for this special time of year. Even if you feel something may be done quicker if you do it yourself, involving others could help them to feel part of the festive preparations and it will surely relieve any pressure you feel.

Make sure you have some ‘me time’

It can be so easy to get caught up in the Christmas whirlwind that we end up neglecting our own needs. ‘Me time’ is important all year round, but it’s even more crucial during the festive season. Whether it’s taking the dog for a walk, meeting friends for coffee, or sending everyone out for the day so you have the house to yourself, taking some time out to indulge in yourself is something that you’ll thank yourself for later (and your family may thank you for it too).
I wish you a very merry Christmas.

Daniel Browne

Hypnotherapist and Mindfulness Expert

To stream or not to stream, that is the question…

Article by Rachael Richardson-Bullock 02.12.15

On the 15th October, I was very excited. My friend and I were off to watch Benedict Cumberbatch play Hamlet in the Barbican. But we didn’t travel to London. Instead, we bought our popcorn and our sweets and took our seats inside the Vue Cinema in Leamington Spa. The live stream was provided by National Theatre (NT) Live and was so popular two screens had to be used for the performance. Posters of Benedict as the famous, troubled Dane were everywhere. Even in the ladies toilet, squealing young girls were taking selfies with his photograph. I smirked, my fan girl days long behind me, but I was also pleased that they were enthusiastic. If Benedict Cumberbatch’s only success with this project was to get more young people to listen to Shakespeare for a few hours, then I am happy.

I have been enjoying the works of William Shakespeare since primary school. So it would appear fitting that I have ended up living in Shakespeare’s county. I remember the first time I visited his birthplace and grave in Stratford and I was completely blown away. I have seen countless plays at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and have enjoyed every one of them. Though my days of 16-25 £5 tickets are over, I try to go as often as I can afford.

Most people’s bugbear with theatre is that it is costly, and they are not wrong. Tickets for major plays in London like Phantom of the Opera and Book of Mormon can reach a whopping £100 each. Even in Stratford, tickets for Wendy and Peter Pan this coming season were £50 each for adults. I saw the play last year and I assure you it is worth every penny, but it is still a high sum, in particular if you are hoping to take your family.

In light of this, these live streaming events are becoming more commonplace and increasingly popular. Venues like the Vue, Warwick Arts Centre and the Spa Centre are all joining in, streaming all kinds of plays, ballets and concerts. Earlier this year I was thrilled to see Swan Lake performed live from the Bolshoi in Russia. The Bolshoi has a long standing reputation for providing some of the most iconic ballet in the world. To visit there in person would be magnificent. But then there’s the flights, the hotel, and tickets to the theatre itself to consider. It would be pricey. Instead, I was immersed in this incredible story, music and dancing from the comfort of my cinema seat with a handful of friends for a fraction of the cost.

Principally, these streaming events give everyone an opportunity to enjoy these tales; the theatre is not just for a privileged few anymore. The cost is reasonable, the venues are local and the availability of previously recorded events only serves to add to the already expanding choice of entertainment on offer.

By far, the most wonderful thing about streaming theatre is how personal the viewing becomes. Unlike watching a film, when you’re at the theatre your perspective is fixed by the distance and position of your seat. What you see and hear is dictated solely by this. However, when watching a play streamed live you are treated to the best seat in the house, with a variety of perspectives including close ups. Now I have seen Hamlet at the RSC and it was incredible. But to watch Benedict Cumberbatch in close up crying as his character contemplates suicide was some of the most moving acting I have ever seen. Upon leaving, my friend and I agreed we had been through the emotional wringer and were now experiencing what could only be described as a full on existential crisis-how amazing!

Performances stirring any of these emotions in people young and old must live long and must reach as wide an audience as possible. Everyone should have the opportunity to discover something new and hopefully enjoy the experience, and now we can.

Some great streaming events to look forward to locally:

The Spa Centre

The Nutcracker-Bolshoi, 20th December

Jane Eyre-National Theatre Live, 8th December
Vue Cinema, Leamington Spa

The Nutcracker, Royal Opera House, 16th December 

The Magic Flute, ENO, 9th March

Warwick Arts Centre

Hamlet, National Theatre live Encore screening, 15th November

Of Mice and Men, National Theatre Live, 22nd November

The First Leamington Hour’s Christmas Business Fair

Article by Gary Jones 06.11.15

I am proud to announce a partnership with Love Handmade Fairs for our first Christmas Business Fair.
We have over 50 spaces available for you to exhibit your business. The handmade fair starts at 5pm and the networking starts at 7pm and finishing at 9pm.
You have the opportunity to meet with over 10 suppliers of the nicest handmade goods in Warwickshire. You can buy your presents there and the other half with never know (well until Christmas that is!).

 We have 3 great presentations starting at 7.30pm from Zak Roby, Kelly Taylor and a special guest speaker!! 

Food and drink will be available on the night and if you wanted to sponsor this or bring food along then please let me know. 

Expecting over 200 people to visit the exhibition and come to the networking event!!

If you would like to get more information or get a stall then email me at 

The stalls are FREE but spaces are limited. (Please note we cannot supply tables or props but the spaces are large enough for them). We will have space for leaflets and pull banners. 

If you have a pull up banner then you can exhibit!!

To get your free ticket then click on the link below.

See you there!!