Panda ‘threequel’ fizzes with PLEASING wit and energy… Film Review by Gareth Jamieson

When Kung Fu Panda was released in 2008, it was a pleasant surprise – comedic, with an underpinning of adult themes, and a range of animals doing kung fu; what more could you want!

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The Easter Rising, Dublin 1916

This Easter marks the centenary of the Easter Rising against British rule in Ireland and it is much misunderstood.

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A Sydney stopover

Nigel Heath joins a party of backpackers on a memorable trip to the Blue Mountains.

The lady in the Sydney tourist office listened attentively as we explained that ‘yes’ we wanted to go to the nearby Blue Mountains but ‘no’ we did not want to go on a coach tour around the various stunning view points.

We actually wanted to get out and walk in the hills and that, it appeared, was going to be easier said than done. Continue reading

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March is the time to get planting in the garden

March is the month for sowing seeds and getting the garden ready for the summer months ahead, which includes a general tidy up, some essential pruning and getting some colour back into borders and pots.  Continue reading

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The Stig talks F1, Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson

“I had a pretty unusual career,” says Perry McCarthy, best known for his short stint in Formula One and as the original Stig on BBC’s Top Gear.

Once dubbed “the world’s unluckiest F1 driver,” McCarthy once said in an interview that “Dick Dastardly had more luck than me” after a motorsport career involving thrills and more than a few spills.

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A 21st birthday to remember for Hallam Amos

12.11.13 - Wales Rugby Training - Hallam Amos during training. © Huw Evans Picture Agency

Hallam Amos during training
© Huw Evans Picture Agency

Hallam Amos has plenty of cause for celebration at the moment.

Not only has he been called up for the Wales starting lineup for Wales’ World Cup game against England, but today he celebrates his 21st birthday.

The former Monmouth school student was called up instead of struggling Alex Cuthbert for the Group A clash, and will be looking to build on previous good performances in the red shirt after scoring his first World Cup try last Saturday against Uruguay.

Headmaster of Monmouth School, Dr Andrew Daniel, said: “As Monmouth School’s new headmaster – and a dedicated rugby fan – I was immensely proud and excited to see three former pupils so heavily involved in the opening weekend of the Rugby World Cup in Cardiff.

“Not only is Hallam Amos a diligent medical student, he’s now also scoring tries for his country.

“Watching Wayne Barnes at work during the Argentina vs New Zealand match, it’s no surprise I’ve heard him described as one of the game’s finest referees.

“And who can fail to recognise the authoritative voice of former Wales rugby captain Eddie Butler commentating on the matches, keeping us all on the edge of our seats?

“Their brilliant contributions helped to make the event’s dramatic opening particularly thrilling for us in Monmouth.

“I can’t wait to see what they do next.”

Meanwhile, there are also starts for Exeter tighthead prop Tomas Francis and Wasps lock Bradley Davies, and Jamie Roberts and Scott Williams are Wales’ centre pair.

And Wales head coach Warren Gatland is relishing the weekend’s battle, as his side look to progress from the ‘group of death.’

“Saturday is a huge occasion for both teams and for the tournament and we are really looking forward to it,” he said.

“Both sides kicked their tournament off with a bonus-point win but we know we will need to step up at Twickenham on Saturday.”

Wales: Liam Williams, George North, Scott Williams, Jamie Roberts, Hallam Amos, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies, Gethin Jenkins, Scott Baldwin, Tomas Francis, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (Capt), Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Ken Owens, Aaron Jarvis, Samson Lee, Luke Charteris, Justin Tipuric, Lloyd Williams, Rhys Priestland, Alex Cuthbert.

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Castell Roc kicks off in ground of Chepstow Castle

This Thursday sees the start of the two week long “Castell Roc Festival” that is held within the stunning historic arena at Chepstow Castle. After the fabulous show held in 2014 this long awaited Event is a major attraction for the Town and County as thousands flock to see the big names hitting the big stage.

Former Casualty and Hollyoaks star James Redmond will be performing stand-up comedy on Thursday

Former Casualty and Hollyoaks star James Redmond will be performing stand-up comedy on Thursday

The Festival has been nationally recognised and “relaxed and chilled” and provides some excellent entertainment that is usually not seen outside of National Theatres or Concert venues. From major touring Artiste’s to Chart hitting stars to West End shows, the Festival has something for everyone all very neatly wrapped up in what must be one of the most beautiful open air venues in the UK.

We are highlighting the shows on offer this week as Castell Roc kicks off with some style.
Thursday sees a totally free Event. “The Big-C Charity Bash” has free entry with donations taken throughout the evening for Marie Curie Cancer Care. This Cider & hog roast themed night will include performances from two bands, a female vocal diva, a collection of four community choirs, comedy from James Redmond (from BBC’s hit drama Casualty) and finishing the night with a party will be Big Mac’s Wholly Soul Band. The Event is un-ticketed so it is simply a case of arrive and enjoy, but with entry limited to the fits 1500 we advise readers to be early to avoid disappointment.

Friday sees a switch of pace as three of the Uk’s finest rock tributes storming the Castle. “Monsters Of Roc” reminds us of the heady days of the massive rock concerts held in the late 80’s. The show will include high octane performances from ‘Hells Bells’, ‘The ZZTops’ and ‘Letz Zep’. These bands have a fabulous reputation for their dynamic shows and with a plethora of rock tunes blasting out in will be a classic trip down memory lane, just have your air guitars at the ready.

Saturday is a chance to see the hitmakers of the Mod and Ska era. Bruce Foxton’s ‘From The Jam’ and Buster Bloodvessel’s ‘Bad Manners’ will be taking to the stage in this double headed one off spectacular. Expect hit after hit as these two heavyweights come together for a night of pure “Mod:Ska Gold”. Bruce Foxton who with Paul Weller knocked up some of the finest tunes of the 70’s & 80’s with ‘The Jam’ such as Eton Rifles, Going Underground & Town Calles Malice joined with the 80’s stars ‘Bad Manners’ with their Special Brew, Lip Up Fatty & Can Can, the night is sure to be a corker.

The Simon and Garfunkel story will be appearing on Sunday night

The Simon and Garfunkel story will be appearing on Sunday night- straight off the back of their West End show

Sunday sees a calmer night with the chance to experience the story of the American duo that became one of the most revered recording Artiste’s off all time. “The Simon & Garfunkel Story” arrives at Chepstow direct from London’s West End and a sold-out UK Tour and consists of a collaboration of projection photos and film footage blended with a full live band. It’s a fabulous trip down memory lane, told in a wonderful way. Described as “Fantastic” by BBC Radio 2 & “Authentic & exciting” by The Stage magazine and including all the hits such as Mrs Robinson, Cecelia, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Homeward Bound, we can’t think of a nicer way to spend a Sunday summers evening.

All shows commence open at approximately 6:30 and for those that haven’t already bought tickets a limited number will be on-sale at the gate.

Next week, we’ll have a review of this week’s shows and details of the Festivals second week.

Full details of all the shows are available at

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