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Interesting ideas for the empty Debenhams in Milton Keynes

Lee Hall

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Debenhams in Milton Keynes

Debenhams in Milton Keynes has remained permanently closed since the lockdown was lifted at the end of June. Spread over three floors, the vacant store is one of the biggest units inside intu Milton Keynes.

With shoppers returning to intu Milton Keynes and no confirmation on what is going to happen to the empty unit, we started a discussion on Instagram and Twitter to look at interesting ideas for the empty Debenhams. Below are a few of the interesting ideas that were submitted.

Milton Keynes Indoor market

1. Indoor independent market – Gemma Hayden

“Indoor independent market, each floor different. Shopping, food court, fresh flowers and food produce.”

Despite the fact that Milton Keynes has an outdoor market, there is a demand for an indoor-market; specifically for independent businesses and traders. With three floors and ample space to use, social distancing will not be a problem as a one-way system could easily be put in place. Each floor could be themed meaning intu Milton Keynes could benefit from an independent food court offering cuisine from across the world on one floor and, fresh locally sourced flowers/food produce on another floor.

2. Indoor botanical garden – Solidpr0

“Demolish it and build a garden with a boating pond, pollinating flowers and sculptures contributed by artists across the city.”

First question… what is a botanical garden? Simply a large garden dedicated to the collection, cultivation, preservation and display of a wide range of plants labelled with their botanical names. The Barbican Conservatory opened in 1984 and is an example of what an indoor botanical garden in Milton Keynes could look like.

Building an indoor botanical garden in Milton Keynes will be extremely beneficial for the people of Milton Keynes. Yes, there are plenty of outdoor spaces but a purpose built indoor garden could be used all-year-round and offer wellbeing/educational benefits to those who don’t currently have access to outdoor spaces.

3. Indoor aquarium / underwater zoo – SpeedyStartups

“Go for something big and different. An indoor aquarium like they have in Dubai mall.”

Anyone who has been to Dubai will tell you about the amazing Dubai Mall Aquarium & Underwater Zoo. A great attraction (and distraction) for children, this multi-floor underwater zoo offers free-to-view displays and paid tours. Adults and children alike are fascinated by aquatic displays. The perfect blend of entertainment and education, an indoor aquarium will tick most boxes for parents and families.

Could Debenhams in Milton Keynes be turned into this?

Could Debenhams in Milton Keynes be turned into this?

If Debenhams in Milton Keynes could be turned into an aquarium, it would certainly draw in people from near and far. It would also give shoppers somewhere to take younger children. Costs and construction would certainly hold back a project of this size but many probably said the same about Snozone in Xscape.

4. Artisan Hub – Raindrops_Ribbons_Vintage

“A place full of little independent shops from MK. Handmade, artistic, vintage and creative. A create hub for events and a quirky cafe.”

The quickest and easiest option would be to divide the empty space into shell-scheme booths that could be rented to local artists to sell artisan products. Milton Keynes has its fair share of skilled artists who create everything from handwoven textiles to personalised ceramics. Create various zones such as furniture, sculpture and jewellery to make it easier for shoppers to find what they are looking for. Add a food hall and we are on to a winner.

Debenhams in Milton Keynes

These are just a few interesting ideas for the empty Debenhams in Milton Keynes. What would you like to see replace Debenhams in Milton Keynes? Vote or leave your thoughts in the comments.

Lover of all things FAST. If I am not in the office, you can find me near a track or under a car. I also work with great people in TrendLife's Editorial team.

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St Albans’ favourite Chloe James Lifestyle prepares for reopening

Lee Hall

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Chloe James Lifestyle prepares for lockdown reopening

As one of St Albans’ favourite destinations for all things haute couture, we are excited that Chloe James Lifestyle have announced they will be reopening this coming Monday 12th April.

Regular St Albans shoppers will know Chloe James Lifestyle has been a fixture on High Street St Albans for over 10 years. Despite being extremely busy preparing for the reopening, Owner Donna Nichol has shared her thoughts on reopening Chloe James Lifestyle and what changes fashionistas can expect.

Chloe James Lifestyle owner Donna Nichol

Chloe James Lifestyle owner Donna Nichol

What are you looking forward to most at Chloe James Lifestyle?

Personally, I’m really looking forward to the buzz of a busy shop again – lots of chat and laughter and the general feel good vibes of helping people look and feel their best. Nothing beats it! When we reopen, we are going straight back to our normal hours i.e. 10-5.30 Monday to Saturday and 11-4 on Sunday. We can’t wait to open the doors again and welcome our customers back in!

What new changes can we expect at Chloe James Lifestyle?

The shop has had a complete refresh. Every single inch has been cleaned and there are lots of new products for our customers to enjoy, including great gift lines and a new jewellery brand as well as our Spring fashion collections. One of my personal favourites is a new French fashion label called FRNCH which we are currently featuring in our window – the colours are just stunning!

We love what independent businesses bring to St Albans. How do you think shoppers will respond post lockdown?

I believe there’s going to be a real return to shopping small. After all, we are the ones who have carried on throughout the pandemic, finding ways to adapt to our customers’ needs, offering Click & Collect and always being at the end of a phone to help find the perfect birthday gift. We’ve even personally delivered them on a specific date when it was possible!

We’ve also kept our windows vibrant to cheer up the daily walk and many people have said how much they loved this. It’s become apparent to everyone how much small independent businesses add to their community and we really must make sure they don’t disappear!


About Chloe James – Chloe James Lifestyle is an elegant lifestyle boutique based in St Albans specialising in fashion, art, stylish interiors and beautiful gifts.

TrendLife Magazine is available from a network of stockists across Beds, Bucks and Herts. For more info, contact us.

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Foodies For Thought : What are you doing when lockdown eases?

Lee Hall

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TrendLife talks with local Three Counties foodies about life after lockdown

With a number of our favourite eateries across Beds, Bucks & Herts getting ready to open their doors (and gardens) next week, TrendLife have spoken with six of our favourite foodies to find out where they plan to visit and what they plan to do as lockdown eases across the Three Counties.

In our first of two features, we speak to local foodies Chris of @meat_with_beer, Rachel of @bucksfood and Nadia of @MyRudeFood.

@meat_with_beer

Meet With Beer - Foodies For Thought :: What are you doing when lockdown eases?

How has lockdown been for you?

Honestly I can’t complain. No one has had it easy, but I’ve got a job, I’ve not been furloughed, work’s been pretty busy, and family and friends are all safe and well.

Food and drink are social activities for me though and I love nothing more than going out with friends for drinks or to try somewhere new to eat. It’s my passion and before COVID it is what I would be doing most weekends. Obviously lockdown changed that, so instead I’ve cooked more, used some of the money saved by not commuting to upgrade my BBQ, and tried some of the great meal kits that are around now. Those really helped bring a flavour normality home.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the same but it can be fun. I’ve also tried to check out more local businesses, meaning I have come across some great places across Herts I didn’t know about before. That’s as well as supporting local places I love and want to still be there after lockdown. So generally I’ve tried to make the most of it.

Hertfordshire lockdown highlights for me have included: cheese from the Little Deli (Hitchin), beers from Beer Shop (Hitchin & St Albans), wine from Wee Vinoteca and Hedley Wright (both Hitchin), breakfast baps from The Bull (at Gosmore) and The Groundworks (Hitchin), meat from Chapman’s butchers (Baldock), plant based delights from Chia (Hitchin) and Vutie Beets (Letchworth) and desserts from Pudding Stop (St Albans) and Neighbourhood Bakes (Hitchin).

Hitchin has had some awesome hot food places open during lockdown too, like Cawsburger, Chicken George Jr and Major Crusts.

What is going to be the first drink you order at the bar?

First will be a draft beer at the Kite in April, but I’m also looking forward to sangrias at Los Reyes, wine flights at Wee Vinoteca and some IPAs at Beer Shop in May.

Where have you missed visiting the most during the lockdown?

Los Reyes and Beer Shop in Hitchin both get my top vote.

Where is the first place you plan to visit when the restrictions are lifted?

Not everywhere is opening in April, but if those that are I am looking forward to having a few beers and some food at the Kite at the Red Hart in Hitchin. I’ve got a table booked at Los Reyes in May too.


TrendLife talks with local Three Counties foodies about life after lockdown
myrudefood

How has lockdown been for you?

It’s a weird one for me, I have been living with chronic illness (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome & Adenomyosis) since 2001. Lessons of acceptance and gratitude that had already become part of my tool kit, have helped so much during lockdown. I have also improved my Skype skills, texted more and generally communicated more regularly with friends old and new.

I also attended a few distance learning courses & a couple of online seminars, which on all likely-hood I wouldn’t have done in ‘normal’ circumstances. Like many others home cooks I also grew and nurtured a “Mother” (sour dough starter) I lovingly called Birtha. Using Birtha I mastered sourdough bread making fairly successfully.

I made more banana bread and cookies than was strictly necessary. I don’t want to make light of the situation, but I am aware I was better prepared than a lot of people. The general sense of appreciating the little things, the joys that can be found in nature and music was already part of my general outlook.

Where have you missed visiting the most during the lockdown?

It’s been a mixed bag, obviously I have missed my loved ones enormously. I’ve missed going out to restaurants , pubs, shopping, just the feeling of freedom that we used to take for granted. But truly, I just feel incredibly lucky that I wasn’t directly impacted by Covid-19 and was merely inconvenienced by Lockdown.

Where is the first place you plan to visit when the restrictions are lifted?

Really looking forward to a meal at the Alford Arms in Frithsden and my sister has already got us a table booked at Prime in Chandlers Cross

What is going to be the first drink you order at the bar?

Hoping that I’ll have a fruity Pimms in a pub garden on a sunny spring afternoon.


@bucksfoodie

BucksFoodie : TrendLife talks with local Three Counties foodies about life after lockdown

How has lockdown been for you?

This latest lockdown has been hard, I think with the cold weather and the shorter days it’s been difficult for a lot of people.

I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to work full-time ( & not just working from home) as it’s meant I’m out and about & can actually finance my #TakeawayTuesday that I started at the beginning of this year! I’ve tried to spend the money that I would’ve done at restaurants on food stalls & takeaways – supporting small, local businesses where I can.

I have enjoyed the odd day working from home – it’s meant I’ve had additional time to create content & experiment. I’ve LOVED the TikTok trends that have hit the foodie community. What better way to get people into cooking! I’ve definitely tried my hand at a few – the baked feta pasta is eaten at least twice a month in our house!

I think I’ve also found a lot more time to talk to fellow bloggers & businesses. I’ve made some truly wonderful friends like the lovely Fliss from @berkshirecollective_ but it’s all been virtual! I can’t wait to meet her & others in person! It’s a funny old thing Instagram, but I’m so grateful for the people it’s brought into my life & the relationships I’ve been able to establish with businesses, even if we’ve not seen each other face to face… yet! I won’t lie though – I’ll be glad to see the end of zoom!

What is going to be the first drink you order at the bar?

Well – definitely a STRONG cosmopolitan! I’ve missed cocktails, I just cannot seem to make good enough one’s at home. Or a G & T, hopefully with a local Gin, Bucks is bursting with amazing Gin distillers!

Where have you missed visiting the most during the lockdown?

I’ve definitely missed bars! Especially places like The Snug & Bar Botanic in High Wycombe. As well as some of my local coffee shops that haven’t been able to open at all for takeaways. That being said, I love a coffee shop in general and it’s been hard to get that ‘experience’ when you’re just picking up a takeaway coffee.

I kept my love for some restaurants alive by ordering takeaways from them – I loved the Lata Lata at Home takeaway, it was a delight to experience the brilliance of their food at home – but I’m very excited to get back to their gorgeous location. I can’t wait to sit in a restaurant, and get that buzz & excitement of reading a menu, placing your order and eagerly waiting for its arrival.

Where is the first place you plan to visit when the restrictions are lifted?

Probably my local pub – The George & Dragon in West Wycombe they’re a fantastic team and they deserve all the support possible. I’m also hoping to go to The Full Moon Pub in Little Kingshill, Lata Lata in High Wycombe and Pluma in Amersham. I’m going to stick to independents as much as I can. Besides actual venues I’d love to go to more food markets, and visit more food stalls.

Foodies For Thought : What are you doing when lockdown eases?

If you are a foodie from Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire or Hertfordshire, get in touch as we would like to hear from you. We will be working with eateries in the Three Counties this summer and have a number of opportunities for foodies and food bloggers.

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Hertfordshire resident fined for selling illegal squirrel eggs

Lee Hall

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Isabelle Ringing is believed to have sold between 60 and 80 squirrel eggs she claimed to have found in a nest at the bottom of her garden - although the actual number may never be known.

A 32-year-old Hertfordshire woman sold illegal squirrel eggs from outside her Hertfordshire home.

Isabelle Ringing is believed to have sold between 600 and 800 squirrel eggs she claimed to have found in a nest at the bottom of her garden – although the actual number may never be known.

Now she has been hit with a £4,000 fine despite pleading her innocence to the offence. Her defence of ‘finders keepers’ was thrown out by Judge Friendly.

Trading Standards Officers started and ended their investigation within a day as they drove passed and witnessed Isabelle Ringing selling squirrel eggs right outside her home next to her self-made advertising billboard.

Isabelle Ringing is believed to have sold between 60 and 80 squirrel eggs she claimed to have found in a nest at the bottom of her garden - although the actual number may never be known.

Richard Weiner, from the council’s trading standards department, said:  “I really could not believe what I saw. We got a call about a women selling squirrel eggs outside her home so we decided to drive by in plain clothes. We drove past a few times and I couldn’t believe how brazen she was. What is more worrying is that people were forming a queue to purchase the eggs.

“After approaching Isabelle Ringing and shutting down her illegal roadside activities, we then had to tell those queuing that what she was doing was illegal and purchasing squirrel eggs was illegal too. They have got to be from out of town as Hertfordshire residents in most cases are law abiding citizens.”

“Two independent vets confirmed that most of the eggs were indeed squirrel eggs. We have seen cases in Bedfordshire where criminals pass off store-bought hen eggs as squirrel eggs.”

As well as the fine, costs of £1,500 were awarded and she was ordered to pay a £120 victim surcharge which will be donated to the local squirrel sanctuary.

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