April 23, 2014

Further News On Going Nude This Summer – Beauty Wise That Is….

Sitara Warren wrote an article on getting your skin ready for summer (see it here), in line with the trend for ‘nude beauty’ as featured in Vogue and elsewhere. Here is her promised follow up regarding hands & nails:

If your hands and nails are in great shape – lucky you! But if you’re anything like me – forgot to wear gloves or use hand cream throughout the bitterly cold winter months, your hands may look slightly the worse for wear.

Rough Hands After a Hard Winter? Read On...

Rough Hands After a Hard Winter? Read On…

Let’s start with a little maintenance. I never use any specific exfoliation for my hands, whatever I use on my body works equally well on my hands, a good scrub at least once a week does the trick.

I do use hand cream religiously now, both to moisturise and protect my hands and nails. Whatever your budget and preferred scent there is something out there for you. I do suggest something heavy duty for night time, ideally made with shea butter. Try giving your nail beds and cuticles a bit of extra attention here too.

Nail hardener has become a recent addition to my routine as I have noticed my nails cracking and becoming quite thin. My two favourites to address this are nail hardeners by OPI and Sally Hansen.

Get Your Nails Nude Ready With A Hardener

Get Your Nails Nude Ready With A Hardener


To Go Nude you Need to be Hard As Nails

To Go Nude you Need to be Hard As Nails

So with hands now sorted – what are we doing nail wise?………..Nude nails are very popular for spring/ summer this year.

Colours that suit just about every skin tone, are light pink (just a tad lighter than your own nail colour) and this nude I discovered from OPI – Don’t pretzel my buttons!

OPI Nail Colour 'Don't Pretzel My Buttons'.

OPI Nail Colour ‘Don’t Pretzel My Buttons’.

I’m sure many of you are wondering which brands to go for here. The high street has really come into its own in providing us with all manner of colours to deal with every conceivable trend. If you are very experimental by all means give this a go. I prefer a brand which has a good colour range, great quality varnish and all things being well, my manicure will last the week – OPI and Sally Hansen definitely have this covered.

A quick word on stick-on nails. No raised eyebrows, please, these have changed considerably in the last few years and are easy to use, inexpensive and are great as a one-off when you need an intense shot of glamour.

Essie A to Zebra nail stickers are impressive…

Essie A to Zebra

Essie A to Zebra

Elegant Touch Express – Trend Empty Heart…….

Elegant Touch 'Empty my Heart'

Elegant Touch ‘Empty my Heart’

Elegant Touch False Nails in Classic Pink……..

Elegant Touch 'Classic pink'

Elegant Touch ‘Classic pink’

I’d love to know how you get on – you can post pictures of your favourite nail looks via Twitter and FB.

Twitter: @sitarawarren  Facebook:



April 22, 2014
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BBC’s Great British Menu, A Banquet For D-Day Vets Where A Fingerprint In A Marshmallow Is “Unforgivable” – Just Like Inaccessibility At A Restaurant.

18.04.2014 Update on Hand & Flowers the inaccessible restaurant by Judge Tom Kerridge. With regard to accessibility here’s what they say, “The Hand and Flowers is a grade two listed building. We do have a few steps going down into the pub, however our front of house team will be more than happy to help you down these stairs, you are more than welcome to bring a ramp. Unfortunately we do not have a disabled toilet.”

When I asked why they didn’t have a ramp and where the nearest DT was they responded “Unfortunately we do not have a portable ramp ourselves. There is a disabled to toilet located at Marlow Park, which is just down the high street from us.”………..Not good enough Tom!!


Great British Menu is back on BBC2 and this time top chefs from around the country compete to cook at a banquet marking the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. A wonderful idea and we love the programme as it highlights just how good and imaginative British cooking can be. It also alerts BBS to new eateries to visit i.e. the restaurants of the competing chefs.

This year, for fun, we thought it would be good to look at the accessibility (or not) of the restaurants run by the chefs. Especially as the banquet is for a generation of people who may well be disabled or just a little ‘less able’.

Last week to kick off, the chefs came from Northern Ireland

N. Ireland Chefs on GBM - Chris McGowan, Will brown & Ray McArdle - Cooking up a D-Day Storm But is There a Victory for Accessibility ??

N. Ireland Chefs on GBM – Chris McGowan, Will brown & Ray McArdle – Cooking up a D-Day Storm But is There a Victory for Accessibility ??

They were judged by Tom Kerridge who owns the Hand &Flowers in Marlow. Not a good start as his restaurant had great food but terrible access and no disabled facilities (see our previous review in 2012), even though it’s Michelin Starred….We’ve asked if they’ve changed anything but no response as yet.

Hand and Flowers - Michelin Starred But No Ramp or Disabled toilet

Hand and Flowers – Michelin Starred But No Ramp or Disabled toilet

So we called the other chefs’ establishments and thank goodness all passed our accessibility tests. Here are the findings:

Raymond McArdle’s Restaurant 23 in The Balmoral Hotel, Warrenpoint, has a lift to its first floor location and there’s a permanent ramp into the hotel. The disabled toilet is on the first floor near the restaurant. He won last year with his starter of ‘Black Truffle & Bacon Soup’. This year he came second in the heat but at least he won in terms of accessibility and Restaurant 23 is rated one of the best in Northern Ireland. We did like his starter called ‘Pigeon Post’ – a confit of pigeon leg with blackberry sauce, carrying a message in its claw……I’d eat that, as I’m sure any hungry soldier would.

Restaurant 23 One of the Best in N. Ireland For Food & Accessibility.

Restaurant 23 One of the Best in N. Ireland For Food & Accessibility.

The Winning Starter Last year, Black Truffle & Bacon Soup - One Reason to Visit N. Ireland

The Winning Starter Last year, Black Truffle & Bacon Soup – One Reason to Visit N. Ireland

Next was Will Brown and The Old Schoolhouse Inn. He’s a newcomer to GBM as you can see from the clip, but again a winner in the accessibility stakes as the Old Schoolhouse Inn has flat access and a disabled toilet… they sounded bemused that I should even ask such a question! He came last in the heat but he’s got a good pedigree having worked for Marco Pierre White and at The 2 Michelin Star restaurant, The Square (see BBS review here).

The Old Schoolhouse Inn, Belfast Has Full Access and in The Good Food Guide 2013

The Old Schoolhouse Inn, Belfast Has Full Access and in The Good Food Guide 2013

Finally the winner for Northern Ireland was Chris McGowan, protege of one of my favourite chefs, Richard Corrigan. He is also Head Chef at Corrigan’s in Mayfair (accessible via a portable ramp with a v. roomy & lovely disabled toilet, located just off the restaurant). See our review as it’s one of our favourites! The judges loved his fish course, “We Are Captains of Our Soles” – a play on a Winston Churchill speech. It consisted of Dover sole, long neck clams and horseradish, you can see his full menu here.

"Captains of Our Soles" by Heat winner Chris McGowan. As Head Chef at Corrrigan's he's also Victorious in Accessibility.

“Captains of Our Soles” by Heat winner Chris McGowan. As Head Chef at Corrrigan’s he’s also Victorious in Accessibility.

So shame on Tom Kerridge as the only one who doesn’t cater for disability……As he said, with regard to one of the desserts, fingerprints in a marshmallow are ‘unforgivable’!!!

The Hand & Flowers by Tom Kerridge Needs to Recognise That accessibility Shouldn't Resemble a D-Day Landing

The Hand & Flowers by Tom Kerridge Needs to Recognise That Accessibility Shouldn’t Resemble a D-Day Landing



April 22, 2014

My Gimpy Life – A Show That Actually Accurately Portrays Life In A Wheelchair?

My Gimpy Life is a hit online comedy series about less able people, by less able people and for less able people (although able bodied people will equally enjoy it). It’s been going for a while but we’ve only just come across it and want to share it because we really like its message and tone.

The show centres around the trials and tribulations of wheelchair user, Teal Sherer, who plays herself in the main role and is trying to breakthrough as an actor in Hollywood. A difficult career path in the first place, it’s a struggle made more difficult by the day to day problems she faces as a wheelchair user. Unsurprisingly, she finds that stairs are far from being her only obstacle as producers label her ‘inspirational’ just for getting out of bed, able bodied people use disabled facilities and random men come up to her in the street to ask if she’s able to have sex. These are all experiences that we know many less able people have been through themselves and the show mines comedy from these situations.

The show has a really good message, with Teal refusing to define herself, or let others define her, by her disability – bang on message for BBS. Whereas often disabled characters in other programmes are either helpless victims or boring goodie goodies, here the disabled characters are portrayed as real people who aren’t afraid to be a bit vulgar (actually, a word of warning, it is occasionally quite rude).

It’s an approach that we think is striking a chord that other shows do not, but it wouldn’t mean much if the show wasn’t good entertainment in its own right. The reviews from viewers and critics have been great and the first season won online comedy awards and has been named as one of the best 25 web series of the moment. The misadventures of Teal Sherer will resonate with many wheelchair users and other less able people alike.

All of My Gimpy Life is up on YouTube and is well worth watching. Take a look at the first episode below, find out for yourself and let us know what you think:


April 17, 2014

It’s Not Just Cricket, It’s Cricket For Less Able Bodied People

The sun is out, spring has arrived and we find ourselves on the cusp of summer. All this means that the rough and ready, loutish football season is nearly over and, although the World Cup will soon follow, we can embrace the return of the gentleman’s game, the thinking man’s football – Cricket… Blind Cricket and Disability Cricket that is.

Yes, it’s time for the beginning of the Cricket season and whether you’re  a bowler, a batsman or just a spectator, like our blind friend Andy Gemmell, this most civilised of games is accessible to everyone. We’re going to take a look at each of these adaptations of our national sport and find out the easiest ways to get involved. We’ve found that, although there aren’t loads of different places to play, there are a fair amount of chances to give Cricket a go. Let’s start with Blind Cricket…


Blind Cricket was originally adapted from the standard version of the game in Australia in 1922, but it was really during the Second World War that the game caught on in Britain when it was used as a form of recreation for injured servicemen. It quickly became a huge success, thanks to its inclusivity and the camaraderie it encouraged. In fact, the founding members of British Blind Sport - the organisation that now governs all blind and partially sighted sports (and shares initials with us at Blue Badge Style) – were blind cricketers. Nowadays, the other BBS helps to run the game on a national level and hosts the sport’s main cup competition.

For many people the able bodied version of  Cricket has proved to be impenetrably complicated, so it might not be that helpful when we say that most of the rules are the same in Blind Cricket. However, we are going to have to make a bit of a generalisation and assume that most people looking to get into Blind Cricket will be largely familiar with the rules of Cricket. In case you’re not, an over-simplified explanation is that one person throws a ball at somebody else, who then has to bat it away (a much more thorough version is available here – Cricket is somehow both remarkably simple and extraordinarily complex).


The British version of Blind Cricket has contrived to break away from the rest of the world, using a different set of rules to other countries, but in the UK the main difference between Blind Cricket and standard Cricket is that the balls and wickets used by Blind Cricketers are both slightly larger. They use a size three football because it’s easier for partially sighted people to see and the ball is filled with a number of ball bearings, so that the totally blind players can hear it move. Additionally, there are teams of eleven, four of whom must be totally blind. Pitches towards totally blind batsmen have to bounce twice, rather than once, before reaching the wicket, but cannot be rolling and totally blind batsmen cannot be stumped out. The bowler has to ask the batsman if he’s ready before bowling and then shout “play” as he  releases the ball. Finally, a totally blind fielder is allowed one bounce to catch someone out.

If you, a friend or a family member are looking to try out Blind Cricket the most obvious place to start is the Blind Cricket England & Wales (BCEW) website or the British Blind Sport contact page. There doesn’t seem to be a particularly large number of clubs playing Blind Cricket and there are even fewer for women. You may have noticed that the rules of Blind Cricket are written with male players in mind but there is an all women’s team at the Cricket For Change centre in London and there doesn’t seem to be any reason that ladies can’t play at other clubs, there just don’t seem to be many examples of it happening.

There doesn’t appear to be one convenient online tool for locating local Blind Cricket clubs, so it’s best to personally get in touch with the governing bodies. One would hope that this is due to the fact that it’s just easier for visually impaired people to use the phone to find out about Blind Cricket, rather than a lack of organisation. It seems like a very enjoyable sport and a good way of socialising too!


Time to move from Blind Cricket onto Disability Cricket. Mixed Disability Cricket was pioneered in Oswestry in May 1989 to give people with mixed disabilities the chance to play. They made three categories of disability – Zephyr (now known as CC3) for those with a low level of disability, Zenith (now CC2) for a medium level of disability and Zodiac (now CC1) for high level of disability – to ensure that those players with a higher level of disability would have equal opportunities to develop

Again, the game is played with very similar rules to Standard Cricket, with a few differences thrown in. Disability Cricket matches use lighter balls, such as Incrediballs, Windballs or occasionally tennis balls (although CC3 category games may use a standard cricket ball) and lighter or plastic Kwik Cricket bats.  The high level disability category, Zodiac (CC1), play on a shorter pitch which is 16 metres long, rather than the standard 22 metres. There’s extra marking to reduce the length of distance run by players in wheelchairs/on sticks which bowlers with very weak arms may also use and any player disadvantaged in a team due to disability may request a runner. So, just a few minor adaptations to the famous old game.


Finding somewhere to play Disability Cricket may be even trickier than with Blind Cricket. The Cricket Federation For People With Disabilities might be a good place to start and has a page of links to regional clubs where you can play. However, this is not an exhaustive list, at least we hope it isn’t as it’s quite a small collection of clubs. As with Blind Cricket it may be easiest to contact the CFPD, The British Association For Cricketers With Disabilities or the ECB to find out about how you can get involved (if anyone reading knows of a better resource, please let us know in the comments below).

Cricket is a great way to improve your stamina and balance, while enhancing your social and team working skills. It’s non-contact and it’s not too taxing physically, so it’s can be a really good sport to take up casually in the summer. Although it can be quite serious, it can also be the ideal leisurely, gentlemen’s (and lady’s) game and is accessible to everyone.


April 17, 2014

Weekly Wrap – Holborn Dining, Easter Egg Shortages & Where to Buy Last Minute Chocolate

Last week Lieutenant No1 told me of good new restaurant in Holborn, The Holborn Dining Room at the luxury Rosewood Hotel, in Holborn of course. So I had to give it a review, however when I arrived I realised I’d been there before, it’s past life was Pearl restaurant run by Jun Tanaka. I had eaten there and his food was wonderful, he’s apparently opening a new restaurant later this year. I was therefore curious to see how the place had changed, access was really easy as it’s via the hotel courtyard which has some cobbles but taxis/cars can drop off right next to the restaurant and once in there’s plenty of room.

The Dramatic Courtyard of the Rosewood Hotel Which Gives Easy Access to the Holborn Dining Room

The Dramatic Courtyard of the Rosewood Hotel Which Gives Easy Access to the Holborn Dining Room

The only disadvantage is the disabled toilet is down one floor via a lift. The food is very much up-market brasserie style, we started with the charcuterie board to share and I followed with half a lobster with chips. All good but it’s the atmosphere of the place that’s a winner, it’s large , not too noisy and the staff are accommodating and intent on you having a good experience. It’s a glamourous venue in an understated way. The Telegraph said it provides

“Comfortable, but impressively cool dining at its best….” producing “Classic dishes that showcase the best of British produce”.

Comfortable & Glamourous in The Holborn Dining Room

Comfortable & Glamourous in The Holborn Dining Room

I agree and I should mention that the experience is flexible as you can have drinks, drinks & nibbles or a full meal. They get a well deserved 2.5 BBS Ticks. (N.B. The hotel say they have fully accessible rooms but I had too much to drink to review them this time. I’ll be back……..) 

I also thought I’d treat my family to some Easter Eggs and I didn’t want to buy them on-line so I went in search of a chocolate shop. Apparently this year there’s a shortage and many shops have sold out! The supermarkets have had a an ‘Egg Price War’ leading to many of them running out of certain lines – no doubt adding to the obesity crisis! I therefore took to looking for independent egg stores. I found a hidden gem in Richmond, Danieli, which sells homemade chocolate all year, but even they were running low so I quickly grabbed the last few. To help the rest of the UK in the hunt for Easter Eggs I thought we should look at other independent retailers.

Something Different From Danieli Chocolates in Richmond

Something Different From Danieli Chocolates in Richmond

In London there are quite a few but a favourite has to be the Italian chocolate shop, SAID, in Soho (see our review)….and luckily Channel 4 and Red magazine have done the research for me so here are their lists, just in case there’s a shortage in your area:

SAID in Soho for a Trendier Chocolate Treat

SAID in Soho for a Trendier Chocolate Treat

Channel4 includes CoCo Chocolate in Edinburgh, L’Artisan du Chocolat in Birmingham, Choccywoccydoodah in Brighton …. see full list here

Choccywoccydoodah in Brighton is Just Tad Extreme

Choccywoccydoodah in Brighton is Just a Tad Extreme

Red Magazine includes Chococo in Swanage, Chocolate House in Ponytpridd, White Rabbit Chocolate, Beverley E. Yorks……. see full list here.

White Rabbit Chocolate in Beverley, Keeping E. Yorks Chocked up

White Rabbit Chocolate in Beverley, Keeping E. Yorks Chocked up

Hope this helps and Happy Egg Hunting !! See you next week.

Happy Egg Hunting - Forget the Obesity Crisis for the Weekend

Happy Egg Hunting – Forget the Obesity Crisis for the Weekend