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All Posts By Cristina Diaconu

Consumers Want to See More Christmas Trees

There is no such thing as too early when it comes to dressing venues with Christmas trees and decorations, according to new research.

A survey of 1,000 UK adults carried out by Christmas Tree World, the UK’s leading retailer of artificial Christmas trees, has revealed that more than half (56%) of British consumers believe it is appropriate for venues to display Christmas trees and decorations before December.

In fact, as many as 1 in 6 (17%) believe venues such as shopping centres, restaurants or pubs should put their Christmas decorations up as early as October.

The data suggests that consumers want to see festive decorations displayed in a venue earlier, and real trees don’t last that long, which makes sense as to why 59% said they believe an artificial Christmas tree looks better.

When quizzed further on how Christmas decorations made them feel when in venues, 1 in 3 feel seeing Christmas decorations can improve their mood, highlighting the positive impact it can have on consumers.

Almost 1 in 5 (18%) believe there is no such thing as ‘too much’ when it comes to Christmas decorations and displays in leisure venues.

The research also revealed that festive displays can have an impact on customers’ dwell time in the venue – almost 1 in 5 (18%) said they are more likely to spend longer in the venue.

“We’re seeing Christmas decorations and displays appear earlier in places  such as shopping centres and leisure venues every year, and so it’s understandable that businesses want to maximise on the opportunity. The fact that many consumers would like to see festive displays as early as October should be seen as a real business opportunity, and using a real Christmas tree during this timeframe can present some challenges,” said Stephen Evans, managing director at Christmas Tree World.

“In order to meet consumer demand, artificial Christmas trees are a great option for businesses. We receive orders for artificial trees as early as July, and we are seeing this more than ever as hotels, pubs, restaurants, bars and shopping centres wise up to the benefits of using artificial Christmas trees over real trees. Artificial trees last throughout the season, costing less to the business and therefore make more sense. They are also extremely low maintenance and don’t succumb to needles dropping like a real tree,” Evans added.

Christmas Tree World is one of the UK’s premium artificial Christmas tree etailers, providing unique and realistic decorations to provide a truly magical Christmas for all the family. For more information, please visit www.christmastreeworld.co.uk

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Mobile Phone Signal Boosters

Anyone with a mobile phone is aware of the issue of low or no signal. Modern office buildings with complex electrical and climate efficient infrastructure often drown out signal, while rural locations and even urban homes can suffer from lack of mobile signal depending on their proximity to the nearest transmitter.

CEL-FI has developed a range of easy-to-install OFCOM licence exempt products that amplifies the mobile signal within any building, allowing multiple users to make and receive calls and browse the internet with strong and reliable connectivity, whilst conserving their mobile device’s battery power.

The CEL-FI product range is the best and most cost-effective solution on the market for addressing the universal challenge of poor mobile signal coverage at work or home. Unconditionally network safe, with an exceptional coverage footprint and multi-network approved for 3G/4G/LTE voice and data, all CEL-FI products comply with OFCOM regulations (OFCOM SI 2018/399) and can be used without a licence.

Key features:

  • Complete solutions from £399
  • Everything supplied in kit form
  • Easy to use app allowing for quick set up and network change
  • Plug and play set up
  • No need for broadband coverage

CEL-FI is the perfect solution for small and medium sized businesses that lose valuable working time through missed calls, dropped calls and staff having to move away from work stations to make a simple call. Once installed, the system is seamless and integrates with the existing mobile infrastructure.

Why is CEL-FI better than using WiFi calling?  Because once you walk away from the WiFi signal, the call is dropped, keeping you tethered to your location.  This is not the case with CEL-FI, as it uses the cellular signal, allowing calls to be continued once on the move.

Products are available for all the UK’s major Networks – Vodafone, O2, EE and Three (and associated MVNO’s) – and the CEL-FI Wave app allows users to switch networks depending on their requirements, and, therefore, future proofing the customers investment.  In locations where all Networks require amplification, such as office blocks, leisure locations or factories etc, multiple CEL-FI units can be installed.

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Festive Office Menu from EatFirst

EatFirst, the UK’s finest gourmet takeaway company are proud to announce the launch of their festive office menu, featuring the best selection of Christmas seasonal menus–perfect for all Christmas parties and events.

The EatFirst Festive Office Menu offers an array of foods to choose from, including sandwiches, canapȇs, sharing boards and desserts. EatFirst aims to make the holidays and party planning as seamless as possible, which is why they do everything for their customers with three simple steps:

1.    Tell EatFirst how your team likes to eat and EatFirst will help build a delicious personalised menu.

2.    Schedule your delivery, whether that is in advance or next-day delivery.

3.    EatFirst will deliver right to your office, meeting, or event space, beautifully presented on wooden platters, ready to eat.

Driven by award-winning chef Benn Hodges (2017 Great British Takeaway Chef of the Year), EatFirst are industry leaders in the gourmet food delivery sector and have seen great success already in the retail market, where they are hoping to revolutionise the ready-meal industry. Benn’s culinary background includes running some of the world’s top restaurants such as The Ivy and Roka in London and personally oversees each dish hand-crafted in the EatFirst kitchens.

Designed for busy foodies looking for high-quality wholesome meals that include vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, EatFirst is filling a gap in the market by meeting the needs of the modern consumer. The UK is an increasingly health-conscious country and EatFirst provides a dynamic dining experience that’s passionate about bringing new, fresh and nutritious options to the consumer.

EatFirst is constantly driving innovation across all aspects of the business. Each meal strives to be at the forefront of the ready meal market; Benn uses unique processes and ingredients to create small batch meals that are hand-finished into eco-friendly compostable packaging.

“By creating the ‘next generation ready-meal’ we’re trying to change the current worldview that ready meals are unhealthy and mass produced.” He continues, ”We wanted to show the UK consumer that to get a gourmet meal you don’t necessarily need to splash out at restaurants,” said Founder, Rahul Parekh.

Not only has EatFirst won Four Great Taste Awards in 2018, they have also proudly won the coveted 2017 Great British Takeaway Chef of the Year, 2017 Great Taste Awards and 2016 British Takeaway Awards for their dedication in creating healthy, clean and ethically sourced meals that contain no artificial colours, flavours, additives or preservatives.

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How Brits Embraced ‘Growing Your Own’ During Two World Wars

By Posted on 3 m read

After the First World War ended, no one expected the same scale of war to be rekindled just twenty years later. The Second World War lasted six years and left millions dead, and not only on the battlefields. The risk of starvation was all too real — back in the 1930s, Britain relied on imports for 70% of its food, which totalled around 20 million tonnes of shipping each year. Naturally, our enemies could cut off such supply leaving Britain to starve.

Britain needed to implement measures to prevent this, and the idea of growing your own food rose to vital importance.

Rations

At the start of 1940, Britain used a rationing system to ensure a fair distribution of food during a time in which food supplies were low. A typical weekly food ration for an adult included:
 4oz margarine
 1 fresh egg and a dried egg allowance
 2oz butter
 4oz bacon and ham
 The equivalent of two chops (monetary value of one shilling and two pence)
 Three pints of milk
 4oz cooking fat
 2oz tea
 12oz of sweets every four weeks
 8oz sugar
 2oz cheese
 1lb of preserves every two months

It doesn’t seem like much, does it? Well, that’s because it wasn’t! And while the war ended in 1945, rationing wasn’t abolished until 1958. It was looked upon as a way to regulate food production and usage.

A push to grow your own

Around 25% of butter and 50% of cheese imports had to be shipped from New Zealand all the way to the UK. 80% of fruit was also imported. This led to the Dig for Victory campaign being launched by the Ministry of Food in October 1939, one month after the outbreak of the war. Professor John Raeburn, an agricultural economist who was recruited by the Ministry of Food led the campaign until the end of the war.

The campaign was intended to encourage people to transform open spaces, such as their gardens, into vegetable plots where they could plant their own seeds to grow. Its aim was to replace imported food with locally grown produce in a bid to free up shipping space for more valuable war materials and also replace any goods that were sunk in transit – German submarines were responsible for Britain losing out of 728,000 tonnes of food by the end of 1940.

Even public parks and the lawns surrounding the Tower of London became valuable vegetable patches. The campaign proved to be a roaring success, with it estimated that home gardens were producing over one million tonnes of produce by 1943. By the end of the war, there were nearly 1.4 million allotments in Britain according to the Royal Horticultural Society. By 1945, around 75% of all food consumed in Britain was locally produced as Pig Clubs – it’s estimated that 6,000 pigs were kept in gardens and back yards in this year, chicken coops and rabbit keeping also became popular as Britain attempted to grow their own source of protein.

The invaluable Women’s Land Army

The Women’s Land Army, set up during the First World War, grew to be crucial during the Second World War. Here, females would help farmers and market gardeners by replacing the workers who had gone to war. By 1944, over 80,000 women were in the British Women’s Land Army, before it was eventually disbanded in October 1950. Without this workforce, Britain would have struggled to continue their harvesting.

The idea of ‘grow your own’ is coming back into the public eye, with people embracing the benefits in
cost and health from growing fruit and vegetables. People are transforming their gardens, with decking
boards and grow bags, to both provide places to entertain as well as supporting a healthier kitchen. So
much so that in recent years, the government urged Britain to return the Dig for Victory campaign in a
bid to combat possible food shortages and the ‘disastrous’ consequences it could bring.

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Fruity New Pudding Gins from Hedgepig

Just in time for Christmas, the team behind Pinkster gin has launched two new flavours of their small batch, fruit gin liqueur, Hedgepig. Cambridge Gage, a member of the plum family, and Glorious Gooseberry join the existing Wild Bullace & Quince and Rampant Raspberry drinks.

Made using fruit grown in local orchards or foraged from the East Anglian hedgerows, the liqueurs accompany cheese and desserts especially well. Sugar levels are lower than many other fruit gin liqueurs, whilst the ABVs are higher.

“In our mind, Hedgepig is the definitive pudding gin and a quirky alternative to port or sweet wine at the end of an evening. Or a festive long lunch perhaps. All the fruit is locally sourced from our Cambridge HQ and it’s been well worth the effort rummaging around on our hands and knees to find the perfect ingredient,” said Founder, Stephen Marsh.

In a new charitable partnership, 50p from every bottle sale across the range will be donated to The British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

Founded in 1982, the charity offers help and advice to those with sick, injured or orphaned hedgehogs. Patrons include Ann Widdecombe, Ben Fogle, and Twiggy.

“The plight of the hedgehog makes for desperate reading. In rural areas, numbers have fallen by half over the past two decades. These snuffly little fellows have a special place in people’s appreciation of nature and as a business rooted in the countryside, we’re delighted to be supporting the fine work of the unsung heroes at the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. Every little counts,” added Marsh.

All the Hedgepig Liqueurs are available to purchase online from www.fruityhedgepig.com

Cambridge Gage 50cl, 28% ABV RRP: £36.00    20cl: £16.00

Glorious Gooseberry 50cl, 27% ABV RRP: £36.00   20cl: £16.00

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Peakz Stocks in Circle K Stores and Google HQ, Ireland

Peakz, the simply delicious ‘must-have’ for die-hard vegan chocolate fans are proud to announce they are now being stocked in over 132 Circle K (formally known as Topaz) stores and in Google’s HQ.

Now Irish residents and visitors will be able to get their hands of Peakz Caramel Crunchy Chocolate Squares, which is made from a delicate blend of caramel and chocolate, followed by a hint of sea salt to perfectly balance the flavours together on the palate, and Google employees can snack on all three flavours during working hours.

Vegan co-founders, Aalya and Linnea launched Peakz in 2017 as a way of shedding light on the effects of climate change and its impact on biodiversity across the world through their delicious, nutritious and wholegrain snacks, with Nanook – a young polar bear, whose adventures are a driving force behind the brand.

Each square is packed with Iron and B12, made without any palm oil or GMO ingredients, are free from artificial colours, flavours or preservatives and are a perfect pick-me-up for any time of the day.

“We are very excited to be partnering with Circle K as part of our launch in Ireland. There is real focus on making healthier snacks more accessible in this market and our Crunchy Chocolate Squares fill the gap perfectly by offering an indulgent vegan friendly chocolate treat at your local Circle K forecourt,” Peakz co-founder Aalya commented.

“Circle K is a game changer for convenience retail- we could not be more pleased to be launching with their new rebranded stores,” Peakz co-founder Linnea added.

Peakz, conceptualised in 2015 but officialy launched in 2017 by vegan co-founders Aalya and Linnea are Crunchy Chocolate Squares, which come in three delicious flavours and follows the adventures of a young polar bear named Nanook; a driving force behind the brand, as they shed light on the effects of climate change and its impact on biodiversity across the world.

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Thai Restaurants Launch in Soho

Reinvented Thai food will be hitting the streets of Soho this December in the form of new restaurants, Wild Rice and Mamasan. Wild Rice will be the ground floor restaurant focusing the menu on small plates to share, showcasing traditional, bold and vibrant Thai flavours, paired with seasonal British ingredients to create reinventions of classic dishes. The underground basement casual concept will be Mamasan, offering street food dishes such as Thai fried chicken and bubble tea alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails.

The Wild Rice interiors will feature an entire wall of windows inspired by the richly coloured timber buildings that are ubiquitous with the old town of Bangkok. The Mamasan décor will be themed on Chinatown in Thailand, with lanterns, neon signs and colourful lights for a vibrant but mysterious atmosphere.

Wild Rice and Mamasan are the first restaurants from the young Thai duo, which was conceived from their love of trying new things and believing that tradition is ever changing and being constantly recreated. The Wild Rice menu features authentic Thai dishes passed through family generations that have been reinvigorated and refreshed. Dishes will change seasonally and be ever changing on the menu with lots of healthy options. Wild Rice will cater for all dietary requirements including offering vegan and vegetarian dishes as well as gluten and dairy free alternatives.

Dishes include:

Goi Pla Thai Ceviche 

raw seabass, lime, red chilli, fish sauce, toasted rice 

‘Yum’ Chargrilled Beef Salad 

grilled beef, garlic, cherry tomatoes, fish sauce, red chilli, lime 

Pulled Chicken Leg ‘Khao Soi’ Soup 

turmeric, shallot, galangal, coconut 

Plaa Salmon 

Salmon sashimi, chilli, lime leaf, lemongrass, lime 

Thai Avocado Salad 

avocado, courgette, garlic and lime dressing 

Pad Thai Woonsen in Claypot 

Vermicelli, beansprout, carrot, peanut, tamarind 

Mamasan offers casual dining with an innovative drinks list in the downstairs Soho space inspired by the Yaowarat Thai bars in Bangkok. The signature dish will be their Southern Thai Fried Chicken, available as wings or boneless thighs marinated in various Thai spices such as coriander root, garlic and soy sauce and topped with crispy shallots. On the side guests can order the Crispy Fries dusted with Thai seasoning such as the Spicy Larb Fries with toasted rice, lime and chilli.

Wild Rice can hold a maximum of 36 covers seated and Mamasan can seat 25. Both restaurants will open on 3rd December for a two-week soft launch period where guests will receive 20% off the food bill. The restaurant will fully open from 1st December, six days a week and Mamasan dishes will also be able to order for takeaway.

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Onima Launches New Lunchtime Offering

Just weeks after opening, Onima in Mayfair is already creating waves with its incredible décor, superlative menu and impeccable service.

Offering a complete lifestyle experience, this gorgeous townhouse is now becoming a firm favourite amongst those looking for a very different lunchtime experience, be they local workers and residents or visitors to the capital.

Now as Onima unveils its exceptional new set lunch menu, its reputation for stylish daytime dining looks set to grow. With the daylight flooding in through the full height windows, leave your cares
behind, sink into one of the comfortable velvet-clad armchairs or sofas and enjoy an aperitif before heading to your table.

Here you can choose from a set menu featuring an array of dishes all infused with Onima’s signature amalgam of Mediterranean and Asian flavours. Start with some warm “Saganaki” cheese with lemon purée & crispy salad or perhaps zucchini & aubergine fritters with tzatziki. Mains include favourites such as slow cooked rabbit with green olives & capers and roasted seabass with aubergine purée & sautéed Italian chicory. Finish with some baklava with pistachio cream & vanilla ice cream and you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve been transported back to whitewashed, sea-splashed, sun-dappled Mykonos!

Served Monday to Friday from 12pm to 3pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12pm to 3.30pm, Onima’s set lunch is priced at £32 for two courses or £38 for three; the full a la carte menu is also available.

2 Courses £32
3 Courses £38

Starter

Warm “Saganaki” cheese, lemon puree and crispy salad

Melanzano Salata

Zucchini and Aubergine fritters with tzatziki
Greek salad with DOP feta cheese

Mains

Roasted corn-fed baby chicken marinated with miso sauce
Roasted seabass with aubergines puree and sautéed Italian chicory

Tonnarelli cacio e pepe

Rigatoni pasta with lamb ragout and pecorino cheese
Slow cook rabbit with green olive and capers

Dessert

Tiramisú with coffee mousse and caffé latte ice cream
Baklava with pistachio cream and vanilla ice cream

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Glen Moray Launch New Whisky

The team at Glen Moray Single Malt Whisky has launched Glen Moray Fired Oak Cask 10- Year-Old Single Malt Whisky as they continue to develop their ‘Gateway to Flavour’ by adding an American twist to their single malt whisky and producing a whisky which is intensely sweet and smooth.

Master Distiller, Graham Coull was inspired to created Glen Moray Fired Oak Single Malt Whisky by the increase in popularity of American Bourbon and the success of the sweeter flavour within the drinks market. One of the key elements for producing American Bourbon is that the spirit has to be aged in a new charred (virgin) oak cask which gives the resulting spirit a sweeter flavour.

Glen Moray Fired Oak is a Single Malt Whisky matured for 10 years in ex-Bourbon casks and finished in heavily charred American Oak casks, resulting in a whisky which is sublimely smooth with intense spice and toasted vanilla flavour. Graham has used a 2008 vintage Glen Moray Elgin Classic as the basis of the new spirit.

The attention to detail is imperative. Graham Coull has worked closely with the distillery’s cooperage to source the finest new American Oak barrels for finishing, as the consistency and security of the supply of casks is very important.  Once this meticulous process has taken place the clock is ticking as any delays in transport and shipping can affect the impact the cask can have on the spirit.

Graham then selects the precise firing regime to achieve exactly the right level of char to impart intense flavour and colour to the whisky. As Glen Moray’s wood finished expressions are growing in popularity, Graham is working at least two years ahead to ensure that the distillery can satisfy the growth in demand.

“Fired Oak is all about enhancing flavours rather than adding different character. The Virgin Oak intensifies the existing vanilla and spice flavours which have come from the ex-Bourbon barrels.  Two elements are key – quality of cask and timing, both are crucial to obtaining just the right flavour infusion. To create a balance I have selected Virgin Oak casks with differing lengths of finish to ensure that the final whisky is consistent,” commented Graham.

Over the final maturation period, the spirit slowly changes, the colour deepens and the taste profile takes on intense notes of vanilla sweetness and smokiness from the oak. Only when it reaches its peak, after 10 months, is it ready to be bottled and enjoyed.

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A Festive Toymaker’s Workshop at German Gymnasium

German Gymnasium will transform its terrace into a magical toymaker’s workshop in partnership with über-cool gin brand, Monkey 47 this winter. Complete with warming cocktails, hearty German fare and a festive ambience, the terrace launches Friday 23rd November and runs until the end of January 2019.

The terrace will feature cosy wooden huts taking inspiration from Christmas Markets of the motherland and adorned with winter foliage, twinkling fairy lights, warming throws and vintage toys.
For some winter warmers, the cocktail menu features bold and flavoursome serves including a hot Mulled Monkey Magic with Monkey 47, Pinot Noir, house chinato, cinnamon, oranges and vanilla, and Doll’s House Midnight Delight, mixing Monkey 47, Reisling, lemon, pineapple, Jagermeister Manifest, ground cinnamon and nutmeg.

Adding to the experience, Executive Chef Bjoern Wassmuth’s terrace menu focusses on popular German winter classics such as Roasted fresh chestnuts and a selection of Germany’s favourite sausages, including Currywurst and Bratwurst. Those looking to further indulge in the festivities can opt for luxurious dishes including oysters and caviar.

Formerly a fully functioning gym and the venue for the first National Olympic Games in 1866, German Gymnasium by D&D London opened in King’s Cross in November 2015. Offering a stunning all-day Grand Café, a sophisticated first floor restaurant, two bars and an outdoor terrace, enjoy the Mittel- European inspired menu for breakfast, lunch or dinner and late night glamour at the chic Meister Bar.

Monkey 47 is a Schwarzwald dry gin distilled in the Black Forest of Germany using a recipe inspired British Commander Montgomery “Monty” Collins and named after Max, a monkey he sponsored in Berlin Zoo after World War II. It contains 47 botanicals which combine exotic spices with native plants found in the Black Forest and is bottled at 47% ABV.

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