What’s going in your celebration swag bag?

Back in July 2014, June was tagged in a Facebook post inviting people to join in The Big Birthday Swag Bag Hop.

With both a holiday and a birthday on the horizon at the time, she was happy to jump on board and share a few of the essentials that would find their way into her suitcase were she to join a group of friends heading off for a special celebration.

Almost six years on – how time flies! – and, with the UK currently under lockdown, she’s already started planning her own post-coronavirus celebration.

So she’s revisited her original list and made a few adjustments to the must-haves that will be going into her swag bag this time around…

Scroll down the page to find out what they are – but before you do, how about telling the Girls Around Town what you’d put in yours?

To get involved, simply follow this link to a short survey listing the things to include, answer the questions and submit your response by Sunday 12 July.

No personal details will be stored or shared – as always with GAT surveys, it’s just a bit of a fun for a feature on one of the first Sunday mornings when the show returns to air on 107.8FM.

In the meantime, here are June’s answers to the questions – it goes without saying of course that these are all in addition to the things on the legendary (and very lengthy) spreadsheet packing list she compiles every time she goes away…

The destination

Well, it has to be Italy of course but for once I won’t be heading to my usual ‘home away from home’ in Amalfi.

Inspired by the book below, this time I’m off to Florence for a few days. And on the way home I’ll be nipping over to Milan – what’s a 200 mile detour when the fashion capital of the world beckons?

The book

As an avid reader, for me one of the hardest things about the current lockdown is not being able to nip into Newark library two or three times a week to pick up a good supply of books.

After just a few days of self-isolation, I’d already started searching through my bookshelves for something to re-read. And the first one I chose was one of my  absolute favourites, Bella Figura by Kamin Mohammadi. who left London in January 2008 to spend a few months in Florence and is still there!

Subtitled How to live, love and eat the Italian way, it tells the story of her first year in the city, month by month – the places she visited, the people she met and the meals she learned to make and enjoy, with many of the recipes included too.

During my own relatively brief time in Florence I’m planning to spend a day with Kamin on one of the workshops she has devised to bring the book alive to readers and hope to visit her home on a 10th-century castle estate in the countryside of Chianti for a simple Tuscan cooking class and olive oil tasting.

The beauty product

I’m still a martyr to mozzies so the White Tiger Balm on the original list will be in my bag again but my real beauty hero these days is a lovely berry-coloured lipstick…

Cast your mind back to the summer of 2017 and you may remember a slightly hysterical conversation between Rachel, Sue and me about how to choose the right shade of lippy.

Picked precisely in the recommended way (if you missed it, you’ll find details in the first 10 minutes or so of the podcast here), my berry lip gloss is a constant companion both at home and away so it will definitely have a place in the swag bag this time. 

Snack food

With lots of lovely Italian meals to enjoy, snacks won’t be much of a priority on this trip. But I’ll be adding a few of my favourite Vive Bars to that packing list to keep me going during the journeys to and from my two destinations – a far tastier option than airline food!

The music

My holiday playlist will mostly feature the wonderful Andrea Bocelli but there’ll be one extra track on there from the last time around…

After all, what could be more appropriate for the trip of a lifetime than Bill Medley‘s I’ve had the time of my life?

One last thing

Well, two things really…

A second (large and empty) bag – and a credit card to pay for all the extra swag going into it when I hit those Milanese shops!

So are you up for the challenge?

If you are, don’t forget to fill in the questionnaire and share your own swag bag essentials with the Girls Around Town.

Then watch this space to find out when they’ll be discussing their answers and yours on 107.8FM soon…

Wall to wall talent

Twenty of the UK‘s top artists will be joining forces to showcase their work when Meander and Mooch brings a unique new exhibition to Newark next month…

After a private view and launch party on Friday 7 February, The Wall opens to the public at 10am on Saturday 8 February, when visitors will be able to meet some of the artists as they explore what’s on show in the gallery.

One of those whose paintings are featured is the aptly-named Jackie Whall, who together with gallery owner Susi Wright joins the Girls Around Town next weekend to talk about the three-week event and some of the stories behind it.

“Our aim is to take people on a journey through walls in history and music, from the Berlin Wall to Bowie‘s Heroes and Pink Floyd‘s unforgettable film and music The Wall,” says Susi.

“And if you’re a fan of Pink Floyd, there’s another treat in store for you in Newark too, with tribute band Think Floyd performing the music from The Wall at the Palace Theatre on the evening of Friday 7 February.

“No prizes for guessing where we’ll be headed after our own launch party!”

Join June and Rachel on 107.8FM or listen online between 10am and 12 noon next Sunday to hear what Susi and Jackie have to say about the exhibition and find out how you can even add your own personal touch to the event.

“We’ll be raising money for Beaumond House Community Hospice and, for a small donation, visitors will be able to write their own message to a loved one on the wall in the gallery window to help support this worthwhile charity,” adds Susi.

The stage is set…

Given that their shows are all about speech and music – with the occasional bit of drama thrown in – how appropriate that the Girls Around Town are starting the new year this Sunday discussing a festival dedicated to those very things!

And even more appropriate that Rachel, who’ll be joining June as co-presenter, is one of the trustees of the organisation behind the event.

As is this weekend’s guest Lucy Kitchen, who’ll be in the studio to talk about the 22nd Wolfit Festival of Drama, Music and Verse Speaking, which takes place here in Newark next month…

Named after Sir Donald Wolfit, who was born in Balderton and made his first appearance at The Robin Hood Theatre in Averham, the Wolfit Endowment Fund was established to support drama students who live in Newark or Balderton or attend schools there.

Its annual festival, which this year takes place between Thursday 26 and Sunday 29 March, is an opportunity for entrants of all ages to showcase their music, drama and speaking skills in a total of 36 different classes which range from school and church choirs to barbershop groups, duets to dramatic dialogue and Shakespeare solos to choral verse speaking.

Tune in to 107.8FM or listen online between 10am and 12 noon on Sunday to learn more from Lucy, who will also be sharing details of the Festival Showcase which takes place Tuesday 31 March.

And, with the closing date for entries approaching fast, how to get in touch if you want to take part this year…