The Belgians are here! Head of Steam opens in Leicester

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On the edge of Leicester’s newest bar you’ll find a pink elephant, a gnome and two Trappists from Belgium. This unusual quartet is among 150 UK and international beers at Head of Steam in Market Street. The elephant, AKA Delirium Red, is a silky smooth cherry brew, the gnome is…

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Western Park Beer Festival is coming next month

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It’s Western Park Beer Festival on September 15 and 16. It’ll be ace. This year we’ll be spreading the love for Loros, the local hospice, and saluting the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. Drinks-wise it means 16 cask, six keg, four ciders and liver-shaped swimming pools of gin…

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Leicestershire’s surprising rock credentials

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If you flick through the pages of rock’s vast and sticky encyclopaedia, it won’t be long before you come across a Leicester or Leicestershire-related entry. Here, I’ve done some of the leg-work for you. So prepare to be pleasantly surprised by three blokes called Jo[h]n.   1. Disarming rock lunatic…

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Tigers at Passchendaele 100 years on

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It’s that time of year again when passports and European health insurance cards get squirrelled away into luggage containing two-pin adaptors and phone chargers. Tomorrow (Monday, May 8) we are taking the EuroStar across the channel and heading for Belgium. Our visit this year coincides with the impending anniversary of…

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Around the world in 80 Plates: Day two, Portugal

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Portugal was founded in the 14th century by a Leicester woman. Seven centuries later and Portugal is being founded (okay, it’s a liberty) in Leicester. Our table for six was at the Madeira a Vista in Woodgate on a drizzly Friday night. The restaurant is sandwiched between Celebrity Pizza and…

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The Walcote murder and the hanging of William Henry Palmer

The Walcote murder; the notice in the Leicester Daily Mercury.

Yonks back there was a series in the Mercury on the men hung and buried inside the steep walls of Leicester Prison. William Henry Palmer was among them…and he didn’t go quietly.   They’re supposed to do it with weary resignation; a sniff, a sorrowful glance, sometimes even with a…

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Recent images of Leicester and Leicestershire

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Ulverscroft Priory, just minding its own business, 13th century. Aylestone Meadows on Sunday, January 22. Poplar skeletons at Western Park on Wednesday, January 25th. Twin Lakes in Melton, back in December. Imagine saying house to that. Twin Lakes. Nothing says Christmas like meerkats shivering under a heat lamp. National Space…

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Around the World in 80 Plates. Day one. Cyprus/Greece.

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The suggestion came at the end of a terrifyingly large Greek meal. “We should do this again, but somewhere new,” said Emma. “…there’s Madeira a Vista in Woodgate,” I respond. At that moment it was settled. Our group of four had probably eaten enough after the second of five courses…

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“Presently both sides were out of their trenches, shaking hands and exchanged tobacco for cigarettes and chocolate. Four of us went over and were met by six Germans.”

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On Christmas Eve, more than a century ago, a brave officer from the 1st Leicestershire Regiment climbed out of his trench and walked steadily towards No Man’s Land. Major Archibald Buchanan-Dunlop, who was serving on the frontline at Ypres in Belgium, hadn’t lost his mind. And he hadn’t gone accidentally…

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When it’s actually okay to get yourself arrested

COPY PIC of Marlene Yeo being arrested. Story by Cat

It’s a tough question. Marlene Yeo looks skyward and then slides her eyes to the left in the hope of tweaking out the answer from a corner of her brain. The grey-haired 74-year-old looks defeated – she can’t remember how many times she’s been arrested. “I should keep a tally,”…

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The mud was scraped away and one word could be seen…Leicester

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  It was February and raining when they found him, covered in a century-old cloak of earth and chalk. In the dirt near his bones, attached to a shred of uniform, they found a brass shoulder title, green with age and a little twisted. One word could be seen clearly…Leicester.…

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When St John’s lads carried swords

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In classical parlance I am ‘knackered’. In recent days there’s been a double funeral in France, a christening in South Wigston, an orchestral concert and film on the Somme at Leicester Cathedral, and an archaeological dig at Castle Hill Country Park. Which is why I am sat in my comfies,…

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You’ll never look at Simon de Montfort the same way again

The statue of Simon de Montfort on the Clock Tower, Leicester

Simon de Montfort drew his last exhausted breath on a bloody Worcestershire battlefield. Outnumbered four to one, the powerful sixth Earl of Leicester had refused pleas to escape to safety as the Royalists continued their charge forward. “Our bodies are theirs, our souls are God’s,” he boomed as a hit-squad…

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Filth and more filth: The Leicesters at Vimy 1916

  The 4th Leicesters had sat in trenches overlooked by the Boche on the Messines Ridge and at Hill 60. And now at Vimy the enemy were at the top of the ridge again thanks to those responsible for our shortage in guns and munitions. If you had wished to…

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I read the news today…oh boy

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We are doomed. I love my cousins in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Portugal, eastern Europe – all of them. Many EU policies embrace better environmental legislation, better laws regarding employment and family, and many have better attitudes towards equality. Sat here this morning, mournful at the…

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Kilworth House – a little cakey kiss from heaven

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Leicestershire, through agriculture and industry, has always had fairly deep pockets. Which means we have quite a number of lovely homes nestled within the gentle gold and green of our shire’s undulating countryside. Kilworth House (Hotel and theatre) is one such place. Former home of genuinely lovely Black Sabbath guitarist…

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\,,/(*_*)\,,/ It’s Download time \,,/(*_*)\,,/ \,,/(*_*)\,,/ \,,/(*_*)\,,/

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It’s that Paganistic time of year when 120,000 tattooed, long-haired, skinny jeanists come to worship upon the sacred fields of north west Leicestershire. Roll ups? Check. Leather boots? Check. The ability to lose one’s mind/wallet/friends? Check. This weekend, Download festival is serenading Donington Park. Rock’s General Synod first hooked up…

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Leicester city on Leicester City today

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  Some clever artist from London came up and sprayed this all over a wall off King Richard’s Road. It’s a corker. Just after taking this pic this morning, I called into Dayman’s DIY store “If you’re going to do it, do it with Dayman’s” – which is a stone’s…

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The Wheatcroft Collection

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   Tour of the museum at Donington Park - Donington Grand Prix collection.
Kevin Wheatcroft.

With the annual French/Belgian battlefield experience rapidly approaching and Download rock festival soon after, my thoughts are currently turning towards Donington, which combines military on one hand and music on the Devil-horned other.   Cue an article from 2012…                                                          Kevin Wheatcroft next to a German half-track   Some people…

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Recent photos of Leicester and Leicestershire

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What says Mothering Sunday more than dressing as one of Simon de Montfort’s knights at the Battle of Evesham (August 4, 1265)? Exactly. We were back at Jewry Wall Museum on Sunday to join in the 50th birthday celebrations. There were demonstrations, from Leicester’s many different periods, my daughter had…

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The Fashion Gallery at Snibston Discovery Park. Part 1 of a Snibby series.

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The clothes you see below have recently been put into storage. The exhibition has been dismantled. Packed into boxes and put in a loft at Beaumanor Hall. To see them now you require a special appointment. Snibston Discovery Park in Coalville – and I’m going to stick my neck on…

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I never spoke out until I was 40. It was taboo. Men aren’t victims of abuse

Tony Magee is searching for the right words as he absently taps his fingers on the table in an airless conference room at Mercury headquarters. “What do you call it when something is like something else?” asks the grey haired 55 year old, his accent a disarming patter of Midlands-softened…

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The future of Leicester Central

PICTURE ALEX HANNAM - inside of part of the old Great Central Station with plans to turn it into 100 bed hotel - STORY CAT TURNELL

It’s one of Leicestershire’s unofficial tourist destinations. Tucked away down a side street, removed from the bustle of the city centre. “I get plenty of visitors,” nods Mukhtar Shah, who has a car workshop in Great Central Street. “Sometimes 10, 15 people come a month, a lot of people who…

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Images from LE1 and elsewhere

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Currently on display in Dover Street, Leicester. Just excellent.   Walkers. Best pies. No contest. Leicester Market vinyl stall.   Leicester Fridge do Naked Comedy at Manhattan 34. Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival on Friday, February 5. Leicestershire love god drops by the Mercury offices and visits the newsfloor. Pre-Eurovision. Nicely…

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46 interesting facts about Leicestershire…

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    Leicester City FC won the league in 2015/16. But what do you know about the city and county which spawned them?   1. Leicestershire is the Spiritual Home of Rock Music. It started back in 1980 with the first Monsters of Rock at Donington Park. It continues today…

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The Anchor Centre

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John Chalmers thinks for a moment about what time would be best for a visit. In the morning, he says, there might be nobody there, but in the afternoon, they might be too far gone to make sense. In the end, he suggests coming along at noon. “Welcome to the…

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Letzgo Hunting – the Leicestershire dads bringing hebephiles to justice

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Fingers clatter across an iPad and up goes the internet chat room profile of 14 year old Jess. A couple of seconds pass and the phone vibrates to indicate a message. The date is December 14, 2014 and this is the first contact from Peter Hyam in Essex. “Hello Jess…

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So you thought you’d like to go to the show, to feel the warm thrill of confusion, that space cadet glow

  In the moth-tattered annals of De Montfort Hall, many a band have turned up, plugged in and rocked out. Yet none have executed an edge-of-your-seat show with quite the same singular panache as Pink Floyd. Technologically advanced and technically adept, Floyd swept into the city on February 10, 1972,…

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Vicar bonking, Toffos and such like

It’s a riches-to-rags story where the ponies, nannies and chauffeurs are swallowed in the vortex of a collapsing city knitwear firm. It’s a story where the finishing school-raised family matriarch, recently divorced, finds herself making a living changing roller towels in pubs and clubs across Leicestershire. It’s a story which,…

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Stoneywell – our National Trust piece of skirt in Charnwood Forest

  Newish among the artillery of the National Trust is an Arts and Crafts family home nestled in the scenic folds of Charnwood Forest. “This is the postcard shot, really,” grins Joe Thompson, the head gardener, as he leads us down the proverbial garden path, past a crest of heather…

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Audrey takes a bow with The Smiths…Muse, Coldplay, Foo Fighters, etc.

  There’s a smidge of a lady talking in the middle of The Smiths’ Pretty Girls Make Graves. “Oh, really?” says the voice. And that’s it. Many years later and the identity of that voice’s owner is still adding intrigue to numerous Smiths’ biographies. Each time, the writer invariably points…

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