Plus, a delicious winter warmer recipe and popular December events View in browser

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Cava to indulge

Fill the bath, grab a good book, light a candle and pour a glass of Organic Cava. Sounds like an impeccable evening.

This Christmas Gift Pack from Vilarnau feels like the perfect present, particularly for 2020. Contained within the beautifully designed presentation box are two bottles of vegan-friendly Organic Cava – one Brut Reserva and one Brut Reserva Rosé Delicat – and also a decorative candle inspired by Gaudi’s famous mosaics. Give the Christmas gift of a relaxing minibreak in Barcelona for the senses and the soul, but without leaving the comfort of home. Established in 1949, Vilarnau is a boutique and modern Cava producer with a touch of the Barcelonian avant-garde about it, £37.

Fine stationery and frames

The Bath Framer, owned by Kelly, is a friendly boutique picture framers that has a beautifully quirky front of house and a workshop, stacked with all kinds of frames. It’s a joy to visit not only to see beautiful print and frames but also to watch how frames are created. As well as a bespoke framing service, there’s an whole selection of unique cards, gift wrap and some very interesting traditional Brass stationery (shown below) – a perfect gift for a maker or creator with prices starting from £15. Brass stationery, prices starting from £15.

14–15 Walcot Buildings, London Road, Bath;

Beautifully crafted jewellery

The Gold & Platinum Studio is one of Bath’s most loved independent jewellers. On display in the studio are many unique and beautiful pieces while upstairs in the workshop client commissions are being designed and created by a team of highly skilled goldsmiths. The studio is owned by renowned goldsmith and designer Michael Parsons. Michael has always been fascinated by gemstones and is a qualified gemmologist. He specialises in sourcing gemstones and crafting bespoke, one-off fine quality pieces. Shown here is a selection of Michael’s highly desirable sapphire stacking rings in 18ct gold, starting from £875 each.

19 Northumberland Place, Bath;

A portrait of your pet

The perfect gift for Christmas (or any special occasion) is to commission North Somerset artist Andy Lowe to create a beautiful, bespoke hand-drawn portrait of your much-loved pet in pastel. Prices range from £80–£250.

Tel: 01275 853258, email: or visit:


Great writing, great reading

As always, there's a lot of great reading to enjoy by our team of wonderful writers and contributors as well as beautifully presented advertising by Bath's best businesses. Every month 15,000 copies are delivered door to door and, until mid-month, copies can be picked up at many places around town and from our stands at the main supermarkets: Waitrose, Sainsbury's (Green Park Station), M&S Foods (Twerton) and Tesco Weston village. The December issue is just out and we hope you'll love this month's read.

Alternatively visit our website to read online.


"Will a centrally positioned retail environment have to become more of a social one?"

The pandemic hasn’t helped some of the big names of the High Street in their fight for commercial survival and it looks as if it may have delivered a final blow for Debenhams UK and the Topshop owner Arcadia – who employ more than 25,000 people between them.

The loss of both well-known retail names would knock a big hole in our Southgate Shopping Centre at a time when Britain’s ‘High Street’ is under siege and facing a bleak mid-winter. However, despite the knock-on effect of Covid 19, economists are quick to point out that Debenhams has been fighting to survive since going into administration in April and there are many other factors that have created the collapse.

This is further evidence showing that the High Street IS changing. Should we accept it’s going to shrink in size and force town centres to take on a different role? Will a centrally positioned retail environment have to become more of a social one? In the end footfall and business rates and rents will decide just what sort of inner-city commercial landscape Bath will have.

The fate of the chain stores is not in our hands but the local council could do something to help the city’s independent shops in securing their future and letting new traders put down roots and grow.

Amidst the gloom – currently lifted after dark by Bath BID’s festive Light Trail – l have spotted signs of retail regeneration. They are small but significant and point towards a more social use of town space. In Abbey Church Yard a young couple are planning to open a Swedish cafe, while on the approach to Pulteney Bridge we’ve a Portuguese Bakery coming soon. Meanwhile, across the road from the Guildhall, the old Patisserie Valerie cafe is being transformed into an oyster bar and fish restaurant.

It’s almost as though the old concept of what makes up a shopping area is being ploughed over and new commercial seeds planted. Those little ‘parklets’ that have sprung up in Kingsmead Square and Milsom Street are taking us in the same people-based direction. Places to park your bike or just sit and enjoy life passing by.

Streets become cleaner and quieter. Seating areas replace parked cars. Cafés and restaurants spilling out into the streets when the weather allows. Around all of this the independents are allowed to flourish – offering a real experience to everyone who spends money there. A High Street that is different from town to town, not just yet another set of the familiar names we see in every shopping centre.

B&NES needs to get down to talking to some retail visionaries and come up with a new future for its commercial heartland. One based on people rather than profit.


"Not just changing lives – often saving lives"

This Christmas, you can help rebuild someone's life by donating to Julian House. 2020 has been a difficult year for us all. Yet imagine facing the dangers of sleeping on the streets during a pandemic or having to choose between staying with an abusive partner or becoming homeless.

Your donation can help rebuild a life and give it the positive future it deserves.

Find out more about Julian House and how to make a donation here


Recipe by Melissa Blease
Gnocchi with mushrooms and blue cheese

You need warming comfort food – and you need it now? This treatsome meat-free dish is as comforting as treatsome dishes get... and it can be on the table in just 10 minutes.

If you're not a fan of boisterous blue cheese, creamy goat's cheese, mild-mannered camembert or salty ricotta all work well here too. And if you're all out of gnocchi, tagliatelle makes a great substitute.

Ingredients (serves 4, easily halved to serve 2)

2 x 500g packs fresh gnocchi
500g chestnut mushrooms, roughly diced
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
200g creamy blue cheese of your choice (or see above)
Oil and butter, for frying
To serve: handful of chopped parsley


  1. Cook the gnocchi according to the instructions on the packet; drain well and set to one side.
  2. Meanwhile, heat around 1 tbsp butter with a splash of olive oil in a large frying pan. Sauté the onions and mushrooms together over a fairly high heat for a couple of minutes before turning the heat down to medium, covering the pan and allowing to cook for a further 5–6 minutes until the mushrooms have stopped releasing their moisture. Add the crushed garlic, sauté for another minute then stir the cooked gnocchi and most of the cheese into the mix, reserving a few nuggets of cheese for serving.
  3. Serve immediately in warm bowls topped with the reserved cheese, a scattering of parsley and a generous dusting of freshly ground black pepper.


Mallory's Most Wannted

Le Petit-Fils de L.-U. Chopard & Cie S.A., more commonly known as Chopard, is a Swiss manufacturer and retailer of luxury watches, jewellery and fine accessories.

Founded in 1860 by the 24 year old Louis-Ulysse Chopard, the son of a farmer in Sonvilier, Switzerland, Chopard's innovative designs helped him gain a reputation by making watches for 19th-century nobility such as the court of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. The precision and reliability of his pieces were highly sought-after qualities, and remain the foundation of the business today. Louis-Ulysse Chopard has been owned by the Scheufele family of Germany since 1963 and the brand is one of the most respected houses of highly desirable luxury items across the globe.

As well as an excellent range of ladies' and gentlemen's watches, here are just two of Chopard's most popular and wanted pieces.

Chopard Classic Black Acetate Polarized Sunglasses; £305

Chopard Ice Cube Lady Black Quilted Calfskin Leather Handbag; £1,730

Discover more at Mallory:


By The Great Wine Co.

As we are now firmly in December, we don’t feel guilty getting in the full festive spirit… I think we’re allowed to this year. So, to add a little Christmas cheer to all, we have taken an extra 15% off ALL our sparkling wines and Champagnes. Combined with our 10% saving when you buy any 12 bottles or more, that’s a 25% saving off your festive bubbles!

All you need to do is use the voucher code SPARKLE15 when you checkout. 

Go on, you deserve a treat. This offer is running until 7 December, all info can be found on our website.

See more from the Great Wine Co. here


Bespoke Overnight Oats

Wake up to porridge+, ready when you are! Mix 50g rolled oats with 100ml water, milk or non-dairy milk alternative (oat milk – naturally! – works well here); cover and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, loosen the mixture with a little more water or milk if necessary before creating your bespoke oat-based breakfast: top your basic mix with yogurt, fresh or dried fruit. Add a nut butter of your choice and/or a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. Spice up your life with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg; go nuts with chopped nuts and seeds; get your day off to a sweet start by adding vanilla extract to your basic mix.

Classic Flapjacks

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4. Grease a 20cm square baking tin and line with greaseproof paper. In a large pan over a gentle heat, melt 150g butter with 75g soft brown sugar and 3 tbsp golden syrup, stirring continuously until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Take the pan off the heat, tip 250g porridge oats into the butter/syrup mixture and stir thoroughly before turning into the prepared baking tin and spreading with the back of a spoon to create an even layer. Bake for 18–25 minutes until golden brown (keeping a close eye on proceedings, as flapjacks can burn quickly.) Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a board and slicing into rectangles.

Oaty Plum Crumble

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4. Halve and stone 8 large, ripe plums and place them, skin side down, in the base of a large, lightly greased ovenproof dish. Drizzle with 2–3 tbsp maple syrup or runny honey and roast for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, blend 50g rolled oats, 50g plain flour, 1 tbsp golden caster (or soft brown) sugar and a pinch of cinnamon together in a large bowl before adding 50g cold, cubed butter. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the oat/flour mixture until you have a rough breadcrumb consistency. Cover the roast plums with the crumble topping, a drizzle of maple syrup/honey and a handful of flaked almonds; bake for 15 minutes until the crumble is golden and serve warm, with custard.

Easy Congee

Simmer 100g porridge oats in 700ml chicken stock for 8-10 minutes or until the oats have reached a soupy consistency. Take the pan off the heat, season with 1 tbsp dark soy sauce and 2 tbsp rice wine or mirin and cover to keep warm while you fast-fry 1 finely chopped garlic clove and 1 shredded nub of fresh ginger in 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a large frying pan until crisp. Push the crispy seasoning to one side of the pan, reduce the heat, add a little bit more oil if needed and fry two eggs until the yolks have set. Serve the savoury porridge in a bowl topped with the fried eggs, sprinkled with the crispy seasoning and drizzled with sriracha or chilli oil.


In our latest issue, John McLay of Events of Wonder delves into a selection of books, all of which are poised to entertain bright young minds. Here we choose two brilliantly written and illustrated books that would make the perfect Christmas present...

Written by Lu Fraser and illustrated by Kate Hindley
The Littilest Yak

“On the tip of the top of a mountain all snowy, where the ice-swirling, toe-curling blizzards were blowy, in a herd full of huddling yaks, big and small, lived Gertie . . .the littlest yak of them all.” So begins this winning wintry tale that is perfect for fans of Rachel Bright and Julia Donaldson. The Littlest Yak by debut author Lu Fraser is a joyous, rhyming adventure about Gertie who is feeling stuck in her smallness. She wants to grow UP and have bigness and tallness! It turns out that there are some things that only Gertie can do and she comes to see that she’s perfect just the way she is. The witty art and characterful creatures by local illustrator Kate Hindley make this a rollicking and heartwarming tale. The whole book has the feel of a story perfect for the colder season now upon us.

Simon & Schuster, £6.99

By Chris Riddell
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Another classic gift for Christmas is Chris Riddell’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a brilliant full-colour illustrated edition. Many great artists have drawn Alice, but I think this sumptuous hardback and jacketed version by the
ex-Waterstones Children’s Laureate is my personal favourite. Lewis Carroll’s story is more than 150 years old, but the drawings are brand new and quite stunning. Every page has something to look at – from the map of Wonderland at the beginning to the amazingly detailed and amusing depictations of favourite characters such as Alice herself, White Rabbit, Cheshire-Cat, the Mad Hatter and Queen of Hearts. We famously follow Alice down the rabbit hole to a world full of crazy creatures, magic… and danger. Decapitation-crazed queens must be avoided at all costs! It’s a very readable story for young people – a bit mad, but still great after all these years.

Macmillan, £25


Mank (2020)

The Golden Age is reevaluated through the eyes of alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), racing to finish Citizen Kane (1941). Mank is steeped in glamour and sleaze, corruption and glory. Filmed entirely in black and white, the atmospheric cinematography makes this film ever-more enticing.

Directed by David Fincher and written by his father Jack in the 1990s, David originally intended to film it after he completed The Game (1997), with Kevin Spacey and Jodie Foster as the leads. It never came to fruition, and Jack died in 2003. The film was picked back up again in 2019 and Hollywood legend Gary Oldman takes on the title role.

Released in cinemas in November but out on Netflix on Friday, the film stars big Hollywood names including Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins and Arliss Howard. Mank is not one to miss this weekend.

Watch it on Netflix on here

Look out for...

Digital events at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution

Throughout December, the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (BRLSI) is hosting a selection of unmissable online events, exploring some of the world’s most prominent thinkers. 

On 15 December, Professor Robert Morrison of Bath Spa University will give a live lecture about Christmas in the Regency, as experienced by some of its most notable figures, including poet John Keats and novelist Walter Scott.

On 17 December, viewers can also tune into a lecture with Professor Joanna Bryson of Hertie School of Governance titled Artificial Intelligence and Human Lives: Looking forwards 2025-2070, which is about wealth, power, and intelligence, and how we are communicating these due to the digital transformation.

Bath Contemporary Artists' Fair

Bath Contemporary Artists’ Fair is committed to bringing the best of contemporary art from the city and beyond right to the heart of Bath. Following on from their successful and popular inaugural October fair, the next event is on 13 December, where visitors can browse the brilliant works of local artists and admire fine art, photography, sculpture and textiles, all under the vaulted glass roof of Green Park Station.


Queen's Parade, Bath

A superb opportunity to purchase a one bedroom, second floor apartment in a highly desirable Grade II listed building located between the prestigious Royal Crescent and Queen Square. 

This apartment offers excellent space and light, with city centre views and comprises of a spacious open-plan sitting room with the benefit of a triple bay window (with beautiful views across Royal Victoria Park) and a well fitted kitchen. The master bedroom has an en suite shower room, and off the hallway a cloakroom with WC and wash basin and a utility cupboard and storage area.  

Nearby the city centre offers the full selection of cafés, restaurants, shops and a wealth of entertainment options are only a short walk away. On the market at £320,000.

For more details about the property and to arrange a viewing contact: The Apartment Company.

Popular on our website this week:
Unlimited thinking: Bath Unlimited
The Tokachi Millennium Forest project
Bath Society of Artists’ open exhibition
Interiors: focal energy
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2 Princes Buildings,
George Street,
Bath BA1 2ED

© MC Publishing Limited 2020

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