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How to Get Money for Nothing!

New website iMember encourages UK consumers to ‘remember you’re a member’

We all have memberships of one sort or another - do you have a list?

We all have memberships of one sort or another – do you have a list?

The UK may have avoided a triple dip recession but in these tough economic times many of us are relying on cashback offers, online discounts and voucher codes to save money on everyday items. So why do so many membership offers and deals go unclaimed? It is simply because we don’t know they exist.

Remember you’re a member!
Motoring organisations, trade unions, gyms, clubs, alumni bodies, professional societies, and even newspapers and banks offer thousands of rewards and benefits that most of us never use.

“Only after paying for tickets and attending an exhibition at the Royal Academy, I found out that as a Barclays Premier customer I could have got in free,” said Richard Brown, Founder of iMember. “and as a member of so many other organisations, I realised that there was a whole world of benefits out there of which I had little or no knowledge at all.”

iMember is a revolutionary new website that makes it easier than ever for UK consumers to claim the many benefits to which they are legally entitled – and it’s completely free of charge!

Developed with the everyday consumer in mind, iMember changes the way people use the entitlements they have as members of clubs, societies, unions, and professional bodies, as well if they subscribe to motoring organisations, gyms, banks, newspapers and more. And if you were going to buy a product or service anyway – it makes sense to know how much money you could save.

iMember will help you get the most out of your subscriptions. It reminds you when you are entitled to a discount or a special offer because you have joined an organisation or subscribed to something great. Just tell iMember what you belong to and it’ll tell you what benefits you should be enjoying – simple as that.

Nero has a popular system of rewards using their stamp a card scheme - Seems this chap can't wait for his fix!

Nero has a popular system of rewards using their stamp a card scheme – Seems this chap can’t wait for his fix!

Using the service will become even easier this summer when the iMember app is launched for both iPhone and Android smartphones. Consumers can get the best deals whilst on the move and never again miss out on discounts that are rightfully theirs.

Membership deals offer money for nothing; you just have to remember you’re a member. And that’s where iMember comes in. Bear in mind  all these reductions reflect a lower profit margin for the organisations. Seemingly a good investment if they attract regular, faithful followers. Do you have coffee shop cards? I do!

Currently in Beta mode the website is free to register … have a look you might have a lot of fun!

Val Reynolds, Editor


What on earth can I give my lovely dad on Father’s Day?

Fathers day high resWith two weeks to go why not choose food? There’s time enough to order and receive a pie or two from Adams & Harlow.

An interesting variety of pies with unusual ingredients to choose from we rather liked the sound of the pie with seasoned pork and a layer of Lincolnshire Poacher cheese through the middle, topped with sweet roasted baby onions. It looks very tasty. We were rather taken with the named pies with pastry lettering.

PicfordandhYou might even be interested in the hamper entitled The Way To A Man’s Heart… £35.00, consisting of the following;

  • 2 x 1lb Traditional Pork Pies (Serves 2-3) The most extraordinary of all pork pies.
  • 1 x 1lb Huntsman Pork Pie (Serves 2-3) A jellyless pie, layered seasoned pork meat and tender chicken breast topped with a classic sage & onion stuffing.
  • 1 x 1lb Poachers Pork Pie Seasoned pork with a layer of Lincolnshire Poacher cheese through the middle, topped with sweet roasted baby onions.
  • Sloe Gin Chutney (220g)
  • 2008 Berrys’ Good Ordinary Claret (75cl)

Where to buy: The Father’s Day Pork Pies will be available from & Fortnum and Mason. The full range of pies and where to buy on

Another suggestion: Take your dad to a Fyne’s restaurant for some super fish dishes. We’ve eaten twice here and both times loved the menu offering interesting and tasty dishes. The presentation is always excellent.

Loch Fyne smoked salmon fishcake served with baby roasted vegetables

Loch Fyne smoked salmon fishcake served with baby roasted vegetables

Their menu is seasonal and for Father’s Day a Specials Menu has been carefully put together. Could be brunch, lunch or dinner. Dining after 6? Then you will receive a complimentary glass of prosecco or a bottle of Old Golden Hen beer.

The specials on offer include the Fisherman’s Plate starter, a feasty combination of potted and peppered Scottish mackerel, classic Loch Fyne smoked salmon with capers, Brandan Rost fillet, Kinglas fillet sashimi style, rollmop and Madeira-marinated North Sea herrings with crusty brown bread.

Mains include a half lobster tail with chargrilled octopus and clams and, for those unable to decide between the delicious meat and fish dishes, there is a Father’s Day Surf & Turf option, tender sirloin steak with a half Canadian lobster tail served with bernaise sauce and french fries.

There are some mouthwatering desserts, or a luxurious cheese choice served with a dram of Glenfiddich whisky.

If your dad isn’t a fish lover there is an a la carte menu that includes a large selection of meat, poultry and vegetarian dishes.

To find out more information or to make your reservation visit:

However if pies and restaurants are not your thing, why not make him a really luscious strawberry dessert.

image010Sweet Eve is a new variety promising a sweet full flavoured berry. This impressive Strawberry Victoria Sponge is easy to make, so great for kids to prepare ahead for Father’s Day, with a little help from Mum. Serve Dad up a mighty, manly slice.

There are more recipes to choose from, have a look at We were impressed!

Whatever you choose for your dad I’ll bet he’ll love it! It’s good for you both to make him feel special.

Lucy Trengar Guest Food writer


A Fantastic Overnight Stay – Cumbrian Hospitality

thIt’s not often an overnight stay  in a hotel or bed and breakfast is anywhere near as comfortable or pleasant as being at home.

The offending sugar bowl

The offending sugar bowl at a five star hotel

All too often  beds are uncomfortable, or the bathroom has mould in the grouting, or the carpets need a real clean in the corners, or the windows rattle, or worse they don’t open. Or there are just not enough towels, or the heating won’t turn down, or the air conditioning needs attention – too noisy!  The breakfast is fine but the seats are uncomfortable, or the cutlery needs a polish, or there are fingermarks on the sugar bowl plus a ring of coffee on the base – that happened in a  five star hotel in Birmingham. I passed a photograph to the manager. He promised to post it on the staff noticeboard! Which all reflected badly on the establishment which was a shame because the eggs benedict was scrumptious.

As you probably gather I have stayed overnight a lot as a travel writer in mostly top quality hotels in many different countries and I am so pleased to say we were very impressed with our night’s stay at  Swanson House in Brough, Cumbria. Booked without recommendation or from a list of where to stay, just a search on the web for somewhere to stay in the nearest town to where we had a meeting.

We found the room welcoming, the beds comfortable, the decor pleasing, the en suite a good comfortable size and beautifully clean. In fact everything was clean and appealing, not in the least pretentious. The complimentary beverages were high quality. Fresh ground coffee in a well sealed container, crockery was clean and shiny as was the cutlery. There was a sitting room next door we could use with complimentary fresh baked cake to sample and for those who wanted to, there was a microwave to heat up anything required.

After a good night’s sleep – the  room was at the back of the building, away from traffic and street noise – we went down for our breakfast. We can’t face a full English first thing in the morning and we had requested a continental breakfast. It was just right. Not too much, not too little. Appetisingly presented,  great to taste, the table laid out with crisp white tablecloths, sparkling cutlery, glass and crockery, fresh coffee, beautiful curled butter pats, prepared fresh fruit in bite sized pieces. The effort Pat Jones, the owner, put into presentation made it a memorable breakfast and how many times have I ever written that? I think this is the first!


The picture was taken from Brough Castle, courtesy of The Westmorland Gazette.

Before becoming a consummate cook and most welcoming host, Pat was sub-Postmistress. She  ran Brough Post Office with her husband Philip for many years before it was closed in the Government programme of closure about 5  years ago despite tremendous resistance from the local community. A protest march was held, a local resident dressed as Queen Victoria, and told the crowd of her displeasure at the proposed closedown. Then around 130 local residents gathered to show the strength of feeling in the community by spelling  out their plea to save their village post office. All to no avail sadly.

Pat and Philip decided to renovate and convert the Post Office into a restaurant with bed and breakfast and continue living there.  Swanson House is now a popular restaurant for locals and tourists alike.

Rural business is having a hard time economically and Swanson House is an outstanding example of triumph over adversity, it was ‘Good Taste’ winner in the Upper Eden Business Awards 2012 and 2013 runner-up.

So the killer question: Would we go again?  The answer? A resounding yes, and yes again!

Swanson House restaurant

Swanson House restaurant

Next time we will be sure we allow enough time to sample the mouthwatering menu. And be sure to book in advance, giving details of our choice from the menu. This is Pat’s way of making quite sure your meal will be cooked to perfection using the highest quality local fresh produce, a hallmark of your visit to Swanson House.

The wine list was attractive too … Ooh, can’t wait to go again!

Val Reynolds Editor


Art Exhibition Confronts Fashion For High Heels

Screen Shot 2013-05-12 at 18.11.12A humorous exhibition of kitsch ‘unwearable shoes’ by award-winning artist Anne Tilby entitled ‘Tortured Soles’ will open to the public on Wednesday 15th May in the heart of London’s Soho, and aims to subtly confront women’s fashion choices in wearing high-heels, given the potential health issues this can cause to their feet in the future.

The free pop-up exhibition will run for three weeks at 23A Frith Street, Soho, London W1 until 7th June 2013, and then goes on tour around the UK.  The exhibition features over thirty kitsch handmade women’s ‘unwearable shoes’ and ‘shoe art’ created by Tilby, together with lush prints, an animated slide show of associated and philosophical issues, and fun workshops.

While the shoes are stunning works of art in their own right, the exhibition aims to confront the real health damage high-heels can cause to women’s feet in the long-term, and is designed to inspire women to reflect on their fashion choices.  In the US and UK over 80% of foot surgery is performed on women, often as a result of their long-term choice of footwear and Tilby hopes the exhibition will provoke discussion and debate around the issue.

Screen Shot 2013-05-12 at 18.12.12The ‘Tortured Soles unwearable shoes’ range from the sublime to the surreal and have been created in a wide variety of unexpected materials such as nails, seashells, twigs, metal, paper, peanuts and even one from cow dung entitled Shit Shu!

There are shoes with legs, shoes wearing rollerskates and even a shoe ‘couple’ kissing!  Tilby has a particular talent for creating kitsch recycled chandeliers, so there is even a ‘shoe chandelier’!

Some of the design is so appealing, it is highly likely Tilby will be inundated for commissions for real shoes like those she has created and for other commissions for her art and design. In fact Tilby is currently designing a ‘fried egg flipflop’, which she hopes will be ready for the launch next week.

Tilby has a long history of creating stunning modern art and pushing boundaries with humour.

This is the second time she has used bodyparts as inspiration for her work, having previously created the cheeky ‘Twin Cheeks’, a surreal range of painted ‘bottoms’ which were depicted variously as plum puddings, landscapes, and Minnie Mouse, for example.  These too can be seen on her website under her portfolio.

Screen Shot 2013-05-12 at 18.11.46Celebrity Julian Clary, who has been a client of Tilby for many years, and for whom she produced a giant motorized glitter shoe for one of his shows, says of her:

“You have to learn to go with the flow with Tilby.  Her imagination can suddenly take a turn for the surreal, and if you can’t hitch a ride at a moment’s notice, you might miss out!

Other well known clients have included the Royal Opera House, Spitting Image, Father Ted and Ken Russell, plus significant private and corporate commissions and Tilby has worked nationally and internationally.

Tilby also runs Trash Factory which offers workshops for adults and children to turn everyday recycled materials into stunning and useable pieces of art, furniture and fashion – such as hand decorated chairs, recycled chandeliers, waste-paper baskets made from waste paper (!), hats, edible fashion and jewellery. Customised workshops can be arranged.

For further information on Anne Tilby’s art, the Tortured Soles exhibition or Trash Factory please visit Tilby’s website at

Tortured Soles will also be on tour around the UK at the following locations throughout 2013:

Hatfield Galleria Shopping Centre

Birmingham Theatre

Lythe in Scotland

BookArt Bookshop in Hoxton London N1

Bad Behavour, Brixton

Other locations and dates for 2013/2014 will follow and full details for all exhibitions will be posted on Tilby’s website.

This article has been reproduced from Stylezza,

Would you like publicity for your work? Get in touch to talk about your ideas.

Val Reynolds, Editor


Facelift Gone Wrong? Bodged Botox? Lumpy Liposuction?

Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 21.00.31

Should I tell her? Part of the frieze round The Meeting at St Pancras

I would guess most women have thought about having a beauty enhancementat some time in their lives. Certainly when my throat started to look a bit turkey like it occurred to me. But the idea of something going wrong has kept me from venturing into that land of uncertainty.

However, with people like Katherine Whitehorn advocating it and most celebrities looking unnaturally young, I do occasionally yearn to join them.

Then there are the naysayers – it will make you look stretched, your mouth will look odd, your eyes will go awry, all kinds of warnings. Did you watch Last Chance Salon? The unbearable results of procedures that went wrong are miraculously righted by experts in the field.

A second series is in the making and the search for suitable disastrous case studies is on.

image001Have you had disastrous plastic surgery or a beauty treatment you need help fixing for free?  Maverick TV are making “Last Chance Salon” with world renowned experts in beauty for the face, hair or body and we can help you put it right.  Has your plastic surgery left you physically and emotionally scarred?  Do you have a terrible trout pout or bodged botox?  Or did a trip to the hairdressers leave you with the hairstyle from hell?  Maybe it’s a DIY beauty fix which has left you unhappy and wishing you’d gone to the professionals?  Our world renowned cosmetic surgeon, award winning hairdresser and skin doctor to the stars are waiting to hear from you. This is one beauty appointment you can’t afford to miss.

Email or call 0121 224 8439 for a confidential and no obligation informal chat.

Val Reynolds, Editor

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