Friday, 30 January 2015

MK Library Events

You may just think of them as a place to borrow books from, but the Libraries in Milton Keynes also have a whole host of activities and events taking place for all the family to get involved with, which you may not have known about. See below for a selection of activities and events taking place over the next month at the local libraries, the majority of which are free and are well worth taking a look at.

Rock and fossil fun day on Saturday 31st January, 11am-3pm. Come along and explore some geological treasures with The Bucks Earth Heritage Group in the event space at the Central Library, Milton Keynes.

Harry Potter book night at Newport Pagnell Library. Thursday 5th February from 4-5pm. Come along and celebrate all things Harry Potter. Dress code is wizarding robes, Harry Potter fancy dress or your best muggle attire! Come and join in the Treasure hunt to test your skills as a Finder or take part in a quiz on the wizarding world. Recommended for children aged 7 and over. Tickets are available from Newport Pagnell Library.

Tuesday 10th February is 'Bring your own book' night at Newport Pagnell Library. Do you have a book you'd love to share with others? This is a new monthly book chat group where you can have an informal chat about what you love to read. Tea and coffee will be supplied.

'Swimming with Ichthyosaurs' on Thursday 12th February from 6.30-7.30pm at Central Library, Milton Keynes. A talk about Milton Keynes' very own Ichthyosaur by Mike Palmer, the Curator at Bucks County museum. He will explore the Caldecotte Ichthyosaur from 150 million years ago to the present day and look at other marine animals which lived alongside it. The talk will be followed by a question and answer session. Tickets are required in advance at £2 and are available from the Library.

Special story times for children under 5 with Red Phoenix Storytelling and Productions. From 2-2.30pm at Newport Pagnell library on Friday 13th February.

'Meet the keeper' at Central Library, Milton Keynes on Thursday 26th February. Mike Palmer, Curator at Bucks County museum, brings a hands-on display of rocks and fossils and talks about a variety of natural history exhibition pieces from the Bucks county museum collections. Come along for free between 10am and 2pm to find out more.

There's lots to get involved in over the next few weeks at the Libraries, for more information visit the Libraries website.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

MK Wedding Show- This weekend

This weekend one of the largest wedding shows in the region comes to Milton Keynes. With over 120 wedding experts exhibiting to help you plan your special day, there's everything you could need: From clothing to cakes, DJ's to jewellery. The exhibitors come largely from the surrounding local areas, which is perfect if you live locally or are getting married locally, as you will be able to take advantage of using local businesses for some great prices. If you're not local do still give it a visit, as the variety of items on offer can be great for providing some great inspiration and ideas.

On Saturday and Sunday there will be some great catwalk shows, featuring all the wedding clothing you could need. From gorgeous gowns and bridesmaids dresses, to mother of the bride, grooms suits and more, don't miss the shows at 12, 2 and 4pm.

The wedding show is held in Middleton Hall in the Centre MK, and will be open from 9.30am-8pm on Friday, 9am-6pm Saturday and 11am-5pm Sunday.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Ice skating in MK

Ice skating in Milton Keynes is usually a big thing over the Christmas period when places like Frosts Garden Centre bring in a temporary ice rink for Christmas. However, MK Lightning now has a new home, at the permanent ice skating rink, Planet ice. It's now a great ice skating rink with various events, from parent and toddler ice skating, to ice skating disco nights, as well as being able to learn to speed skate.

On top of that, there's the option to watch MK Lightning play ice hockey, a great game and another thing to add to the list of what makes Milton Keynes a different and interesting place to be! If you haven't yet seen it, why not give it a visit, either to skate or watch!

Monday, 26 January 2015

MK Midnight Moo

July is the time of year we start to hear a lot about the city's 'Midnight Moo', the ten mile walk around Milton Keynes in aid of Willen Hospice, so why are we mentioning it now? Well, the registration is now open for those hoping to take part to sign up. This year is set to be even bigger and better than the last, so sign up now and get collecting sponsorships in advance for a great cause.

The walk gets its name from the fact that it starts at midnight, and the fact that Milton Keynes is known as the home of the concrete cows. It takes place this year on the 4th July, and this year's theme is glow in the dark. It's a great night to raise some money for charity while having some fun with friends, whether you've done it every year or have never done it before, it's open to all, click here to sign up now, spread the word!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Juice diets- healthy or not?

The idea of a juice diet - consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, can sound like a good idea, and surely has to be a lot more healthy than a slice of pizza or cake. It's one of those diets celebrities often attempt, and is often talked about at this time of year- with the new years resolutions and health kicks. You would think that having liquid rather than food would help you lose weight, and while this is somewhat true, there are a number of downfalls and health risks to juice diets.

Fruit has a high amount of sugar, making it quite high in calories. Not only can this sugar damage our teeth, but can hinder the weight loss regime. One suggestion is to drink fruit juices and smoothies through a straw, to prevent the sugar from resting too much on the teeth and causing tooth decay. Studies show that we need more vegetables than fruit in our diets, and a diet of fruit juice doesn't typically cover this, rather it provides the opposite. One way around this is to introduce vegetable juices and vegetable based smoothies into the diet, such as a spinach smoothie, which provides a good number of health benefits while helping even up the fruit/vegetable ratio.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Wear it. Beat it.

Two weeks today, join people across the nation in wearing red to support the British Heart Foundation. Wearing red shows a stand of support for all those with heart conditions, and by getting involved and fundraising, you can help raise funds to go towards the life-saving research of the British Heart Foundation. With one in four people lost to heart and circulatory diseases, money for research is key to helping find cures and better ways of treatment.

You can sign up now for your free fundraising pack, and throw a fundraising event at work or in your local community, encouraging people to stand together in support of heart disease research. As well as wearing red, there are a number of other ideas of ways to raise money for the cause. These include holding quizzes, raffles, red-themed movie nights, red-themed meals, red cake sales, the possibilities are endless! Why not get involved and help raise money for a great cause by sending off for your fundraising pack now? You've still got two weeks to spread the word and plan for your event, and original ideas can also be used- just make sure there's an element of red involved!

Click here to visit the website for more information, and to download your very own fundraising pack.

Burns Night- This weekend

Robert Burns was a great Scottish poet, who died in 1796. Burns night has become a celebration of his life, held on, or near, his birthday, the 25th January. Burns night traditionally involves a Burns supper, where groups of people gather in order to eat a traditional Scottish meal and enjoy Scotch whisky, and also traditionally his poety would be recited.

Nowadays, the emphasis is often on the whisky, and pubs will tend to advertise Burns night as a great excuse to drink their Scotch! However, the tradition of meals on the night is still around, and a number of restaurants will be offering a Burns night special this weekend.

  • The Loch Fyne in the Hub, Milton Keynes is one of these places, offering a special menu for Burns night featuring some of the best Scottish foods.

  • More locally, the Cowpers Oak in Olney is holding it's annual Burns night supper on Saturday night from 8pm, featuring the best Scottish cuisine and of course some classic malt whisky.

  • Similarly, the Rose and Crown in Newport Pagnell will be serving haggis, neeps and tatties and whisky gravy from 6pm.

Check out your local restaurant or pub for some burns night events, and enjoy remembering the works of the great poet.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

The weekend's events:

Friday and Saturday: 

MK Job Show @ Middleton Hall - FREE

If you're looking for a job, thinking about changing career or want help with your CV, the MK job show is hosting a great selection of employment and training opportunities from some of the most respected International, National, Regional and local employers. There will also be workshops and seminars, making this an event not to be missed if you're interested in improving your job opportunities.

Saturday 24th: 

Olney Rugby Football Club WW1 Commemorative Charity Match @ Olney Rugby Football Club, West Street Olney

In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WW1, Olney RFC are commemorating the sacrifices of many members of Olney RFC during the Great War. From 12 noon into the evening, a selection of events including a welcome from the Chairman, drummers, a minute's silence, Olney ladies v British Army and Olney v. the 1st Btn the Yorkshire Regiment RFC, guest lunch, speeches and then a hog roast and disco in the evening to finish off the day.

Talk: Our Changing Wildlife @ Howe Park Wood, 2-3pm

Come and enjoy a talk about how the wildlife is changing, exploring which British species are decreasing and increasing, and why. For over 16's, meet at Howe Park Wood education centre. Tickets cost £2 per person.

T'Pau: Pleasure & Pain Tour @ The Stables MK

T'Pau is a hugely successful pop/rock band fronted by Carol Decker. Most famous for their tracks: 'Heart & Soul' and 'China in your hand', T'Pau celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2013 with a successful UK tour. Back again, they will be at the Stables MK starting at 8pm this Saturday. Tickets cost £21.50 each.

Sunday 25th: 

Complete History of Comedy @ Stantonbury Theatre 

The Reduced Shakespeare Company presents comedy through the ages, from Aristophanes to Shakespeare and Moliere, Nick Clegg to Charlie Chaplin. 90 minutes of rolling comedy should have you laughing in the audacious and outrageous bawdy show. Tickets cost £17.50, concessions are £16.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Try Wheelchair Rugby, aka 'Murderball'

Wheelchair Rugby is a Paralympic sport, and is played competitively in over 25 countries around the world. The game was first developed in Canada, where it was known as 'murderball', due its aggressive and full-contact nature.

The governing body Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby, have teamed up with Milton Keynes and Stantonbury Arts and Leisure Centre to bring the sport to the town. Unlike wheelchair basketball, which has always been the most popular team sport for wheelchair users, wheelchair rugby allows for full-contact. It is one of the only full-contact disability sports, and was one of the most popular at the Paralympic Games in 2012.

Wheelchair rugby is played inside, on a court with the same measurements as a basketball court. It is a mixed-gender sport, and teams can have up to 12 players, although no more than four from each team can be on the court at any one time. Players score by carrying the ball across the goal line.

If you have a disability and are over 16 years old, there is the opportunity to try this sport in one of four upcoming taster sessions. The sessions will be held at Stantonbury Leisure centre from 1-3pm, and are run by experienced coaches, with rugby chairs provided.

The first session will run on Saturday 31st January, then Sunday 15th February, Thursday 28th February and Sunday 8th March.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Review - MK Theatre's The Full Monty

The Full Monty is at MK Theatre until Saturday, January 24th. 

Last night I ventured out in the cold to Milton Keynes and saw the latest production to grace the stage, an adaptation of The Full Monty. 
The stage production stayed true to the film but was able to add all the subtle nuances that only a live production can offer. The set was the inside of a disused factory and the attention to detail was impressive. The director made good use of the different levels with a few pyrotechnics thrown in to make the audience jump!
What really makes the show is the great casting and the ability of the actors to engage the audience at every point in the story, music and dance scenes. All the actors have a great track record but the little boy who played Nathan really impressed the audience and some of the loudest noise was for him.
But of course you all want to know just how much of a `full monty` did the boys do!? Well, you will have to go and find out! You won`t be disappointed!
The Full Monty is on until Saturday, 24th January, at MK Theatre.


Gym from home for free

It seems to be the time of year for fitness kicks, whether that's due to the idea of New Year's resolutions or following having had a bit too much to eat over the Christmas break, there's a bit of a general idea of January as being the time to start getting fit and healthy. Gyms everywhere seem to be advertising membership deals, and healthy foods, and recipes are taking prime position on the shelves (along with all that reduced chocolate!).

If you were aiming to start the year with a bit of a fitness kick but can't quite afford a gym membership, or aren't sure if you'll use it, why not create your own home gym? A great way to trial whether you'll keep up the dedication to fitness, or maybe to work out that a gym membership is what you need to get you motivated, exercising from home can be a great way of saving money, and time.

We've come up with a few top-tips to get you motivated and exercising from home...

  • Grab a mat- Exercise mats are pretty cheap to come by, or you could use a towel if you find yourself without. There are a whole range of floor work exercises you can do on a mat, from sit-ups to planks, leg-lifts and crunches, there are hundreds of workout plans online which can provide some great exercise workouts and routines.
  • Slightly more active, are the burpees and star jumps. Include them into a workout with some floor work, and get the heart rate rising. Repetition of these sorts of exercises is the way to ensure you get a great workout.
  • If you're wanting to include a bit of light weights into the workout, to tone rather than build muscle, grab a couple of cans from the larder and do some bicep curls with them. They should start off feeling pretty light and gradually get heavier the more you use them.
  • If you have stairs in your house, set yourself a target number and do some step-ups, either by stepping on and off the bottom step, or walking all the way up and down the staircase. Make your body work harder by adding a bit of weight, by holding carrier bags or again cans of food for a lighter, more subtle weight. Walking up and down the stairs can burn over 500 calories an hour, and the more effort you put in, the greater the outcome will be.
  • For a more subtle workout that you won't notice so much, turn up the music and get moving. Dancing around the house at your own pace will burn calories, and as long as you're moving and get get your heart rate raised, it's exercise. 
  • Don't panic if you don't think you've got time to exercise, as did you know that housework burns a fair few calories? Not only can you exercise and burn the calories, but you'll also be getting the house clean at the same time. The more effort you put in, the greater the benefit, and it won't only be your body that benefits, but your house too! Hoovering burns over 190 calories per hour, as does mopping floors. If you're after a bit of fresh air as well, then gardening is also a great calorie burner, around 290 calories per hour.
  • If you're feeling a bit more adventurous, or just don't have much space in the house, then going for a run, jog or even a brisk walk can get you on the right path to fitness, while enjoying some fresh air too.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Another first for MK...

Milton Keynes is becoming known as a place of biggest, bests and firsts, being home to one of the largest indoor snow slopes (Xscape) as well as one of the largest shopping centres (15th largest in the UK), and driverless cars, which are set to be trialled here later in the year.

This year there's another 'first' coming to the city, with the UK's first ever 4DX cinema. Home to 3D, D-Box and now a shiny new 'Super Screen', Milton Keynes' Cineworld has been undergoing renovations for some time now, and 4DX is rumoured to be the next big thing.

If you've been to certain theme parks across the world, you'll have probably come across 4D cinemas; the same as 3D but with added effects such as water and moving chairs. The 4DX sounds like it's going to be going that one step further, showing films in both 2D and 3D with the added effects of high-tech motion seats, fog, wind, lightning, strobes, bubbles, water and rain. As if this wasn't all enough, there's apparently also going to be 'scents', which, depending on the film, could be good or bad. Most children have sat in front of the TV screen thinking how amazing it would be if we could have 'smell-a-vision' and now it appears to arrived, on our very doorstep.

If it all goes as well as it sounds, it's sure to be one of the biggest and best experiences of cinema to date, making you really feel as though you are well and truly in the movie. How much this is going to cost hasn't yet been revealed, but it's sure to be a novel experience which, being the first in the UK, will definitely bring people from near and far to the city.

The experience will be launching later this month, on the 30th January, with the first film to be shown in the screen being 'Kinsman: The Secret Service'. 4DX in considered the biggest step in cinema technology to date, and as the first place to have it in the UK, Milton Keynes is an exciting place to be right now. If you love cinema and want to be right in the action, then this is a must try. Whether the multitude of effects will be all too much or will really make you feel like you're there, we'll have to wait and see, but it's definitely going to be a big thing for milton Keynes, we can't wait to try it for ourselves!

Sunday, 18 January 2015

National Soup Month

January is the national month for soup, which you can understand why, with the cold weather it's the time of year you're wanting hot meals and snacks, and for those in a January health kick, it's a fairly low-calorie meal.

Soup also has a great importance though, particularly for some in our city. Milton Keynes is home to a number of soup-runs, which not only operate throughout January, but all through the year. Groups of volunteers head to meeting-points across the city, and hand out soup and sandwiches to the homeless people there. With their set stopping places, people in need know when and where to go for some warm soup, and it really is a lifeline to some of those who are sleeping rough on the streets. A number of cafes, coffee shops and restaurants are also involved, donating leftover food at the end of the day to be given to the homeless.

These volunteers head out into the cold to serve those in need, and spend time chatting and listening to those for whom life can often get quite lonely. This January, why not let the fact that it's soup month encourage you to help out, either by donations or by getting involved with the soup run yourself.

Click here to visit the MK Soup Run website for more information.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

1 month 'till the Pancake Race!

The countdown is on to one of the biggest and best events of the Olney calendar; the Olney pancake race. Each year it attracts hundreds of spectators, as well as participants, and this year, with pancake day falling in half term, the number of spectators is sure to be bigger than ever.

Each year on Shrove Tuesday, the ladies of Olney pick up their frying pans and aprons and race down the High Street, tossing a pancake as they go. Tradition states that the first race was run back in 1445, and then revived again in 1948. The story that a flustered housewife heard the church bells and realised she was late for the service, so ran from her house with her frying pan and pancake still in her hand, is supposedly how the race began, and so today the ladies race on the chime of the Shriving bell from the church at exactly 11.55am.

It's always great fun for all, with the children's races starting off the event with a number of pancake races, from the little ones up to secondary school aged children, set off by the special guests of the event. TV chef Lesley Waters will be on hand in the Market Place doing some cooking demonstrations and being on hand to mingle with the crowds and answer any food or cooking questions you might have.

Last year the race was live on itv's daybreak, but if you've somehow missed the pancake race up until now, why not make this the year you experience it for the first time. It's even an international event, which links with the pancake race in Liberal, USA, the winner with the best time between the two will be crowned the International Pancake Race winner of 2015.

The pancake race is a great event for the town, which really brings people together and gives a chance to celebrate a day which often just gets passed by.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Big old quiz of 2014

Did you manage to see the Big Fat Quiz of the year this year? It's always a fun way to see how much you can remember from the previous year, and be reminded of some of the most random and most popular news stories.

We've put together a short quiz for you, using a few of the top news stories from last year. Scroll all the way down to see the answers and find out how well you can remember the news of 2014, both local and national.

  1. Luis Suรกrez bit a footballer during one of the World Cup matches, what team were they playing at the time?
  2. Which Milton Keynes store last year had over £1 million worth of goods stolen from them in the early hours of the morning?
  3. Where was the huge warehouse fire which took place in Buckinghamshire in January last year?
  4. UKIP councillor David Silvester declared last year that he believed what had been caused by gay marriage?
  5. What was the name of the robotic spacecraft which landed onto a comet, for the first time in history?
  6. MK Dons thrashed which football team to which score in August last year?
  7. Which animated film in March last year won two Academy Awards and became one of the few films to take more than $1 billion at the box office? (hint: there's a snowman involved)
  8. Which ex-MK Dons player featured in this year's 'I'm a Celebrity Get me Out Of Here'?
  9. Which famous former boy band member posted a video of his wife's labour, featuring him singing and dancing?
  10. What was it that put Milton Keynes into the Guinness World Records last year?  

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Carers MK

Being a carer is a tough and demanding job in any circumstance, but when you become a carer through a family member or friend becoming ill, it is very often as a need rather than a career choice. Further still, for children and young people whose parents become ill, being a young carer can be an extremely tough job, both mentally and physically.

Thanks to charities and organisations such as Carers MK, these all-important carers can themselves be supported and cared for. Carers MK supports families and carers of all ages and offers services including counselling, social events, advice and information, training, emotional support and more, all for free.

One of the key things which Carers MK provides are support groups. There are a large number of these existing across the city, and they allow carers to meet other people who are in similar positions to them. This can really provide a sense of community, and reassurance that they are not in their position alone. It also gives them a chance to have some time out, and spend time enjoying the hobbies and activities which they often just don't have the time or opportunity to do.

If you are a carer or know someone who would benefit from these services, click here for more information and to see the various support groups on offer.

The Newport Pagnell support group meets at the United Reformed Church on the High Street on the last Wednesday of the month from 1.30-3.30pm for a chance to have a coffee and chat.

The Olney support group meets at The Olney Centre on the first Thursday of the month from 2-4pm.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Milton Keynes City Orchestra Concert- Tomorrow Night

Tomorrow, you'll be well and truly in for a treat with the Milton Keynes City Orchestra. Conductor Damian Iorio has a great night in store for a great musical start to the new year, with music including Mozart: Overture to Magic Flute, Sibelius: Symphony no. 3 and Brahms: Symphony no.1.

Starting at 7.30pm at Milton Keynes Theatre and ending around 10pm, it's a great opportunity to enjoy an uplifting and beautiful concert with family and friends.

Conductor Damian Iorio began his career as a violinist, and studied conducting in Russia before his first major role as Artistic director and chief conductor of the philharmonic orchestra of Murmansk. There he played a large role in sparking the growth of the orchestra in opera and concert. He has since travelled the world, conducting performances with some of the most celebrated orchestras in many great concert halls and theatres. Tomorrow night you can see for yourselves the skill of Damian and of the Milton Keynes Orchestra, as he conducts them in a repertoire chosen to showcase their musical talents and professionalism.

A night not to be missed, tickets start at £10, click here to book.

Monday, 12 January 2015

How to beat those winter blues

As the dark mornings and early evenings continue, many people find it can become a bit depressing. SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is said to affect around 2 million people in the UK and over 12 million in Northern Europe.

The causes of the winter blues, or SAD, are thought to be linked with the shorter days, and lack of sunshine. The dark makes us feel sleepy, and when the days are predominantly dark, it can be hard to feel active and awake, resulting in sleepiness and low energy levels.

So how can we shake off the winter blues? We thought we'd share the NHS' top 10 tips...

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Race for 2015- Sign up now!

If your New Years resolution is to get fit and running, you might find it helpful to have something to aim for. Often the big events aren't noticed until the day, when you might find yourself wishing you'd signed up if you'd known about it (or being glad you didn't!). Why not make 2015 the year you sign up for a race or event, and give yourself the January kick-start to get up and out?! We've found a collection of local running events for you to choose from...

The Milton Keynes Half Marathon and Festival of running take place on the 8th March, which gives you just under 2 months to train if you start now! The races start on the central dual-carriageways of Milton Keynes and then continue around some great scenery. There are 5K, 10k, the half marathon and a new one for this year, the MK20 miler. This means you've got the choice with whether to aim high and train hard, or go for the shorter 5k, which will still be a challenge but a bit more fun and relaxed (you'd hope!) Entry fees vary depending on the distance, but prices start at £8 for the 5K. For more information, prices and to sign up, click here.

Friday, 9 January 2015

HULA January get-together

This weekend, why not visit the HULA animal rescue at South Midlands Animal Sanctuary, for their January get-together?!

Form 1-3.30pm tomorrow, come along for a variety of activities, including a sale in the Bazaar and Pet Bed shop, and the opportunity to help feed the farm animals at 1.30pm. As alway, dogs are welcome, and there will be a dog parade at 2.30pm. Refreshments will also be on sale, in 'The Trough' cafe.

HULA is a registered charity which aims to relieve suffering and distress in animals, by providing refuge and care to unwanted domestic animals and facilitating their rehoming. The charity has been helping animals and their owners since 1972, where it started out in a back garden in Luton, and has since grown. Today, as well as rehousing small pets and animals, HULA also rescues larger animals, such as sheep, pigs, cows, ponies and more.

Come and find out more about HULA, and help them fund their work by enjoying their January get-together. Admission is £2 per adult, and children go free.

Friday, 2 January 2015

New Year's resolutions- Take them or leave them?

Happy New Year!

It comes round every year, and every year we're faced with that question: 'What's your New Year's resolution?' If you're anything like me you'll pull out a classic but vague line such as 'eating healthier' or 'doing more exercise', the sort of resolution which you may attempt but won't make any particular effort to keep. Or, if you are more dedicated to your New Year's resolutions, you are probably more likely to make one which you know you will be able to stick to, but how often do you manage to keep it for the whole year?

This year, why not make a resolution to make a difference? There are so many ways you can do this, and maybe having a resolution which will benefit others will encourage you to keep it. If you never normally make New Years resolutions, why not make 2015 your first! 

The small changes are the ones which are easiest to keep and are more likely to stick. Here at the Phonebox magazine we have been a collection point for the local Food Bank. Why not make it your New Year's resolution to drop off as little as one item a week for the Food Bank to your local collection site? It's such a small amount and you can always do more if you like, but even a small amount can make a huge difference. 

The same idea could be adapted to any charity or cause, giving or helping in some way, for example volunteering, can make a huge difference to people's lives. Even making the simplest of resolutions, such as to smile more, or to offer help to a neighbour or friend, can really have a positive impact on those around you... why not spread a little cheer this New Year!