Author - Stuart | YLF

Maaya chef wins Best Indian Chef at the Euro Asia Curry Awards 2019

Maaya Indian Kitchen & Bar’s very own Head Chef has been crowned Best Indian Chef at the Euro Asia Curry Awards 2019.

Shanoor Miah, scooped the prestigious award at a ceremony at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in London on Monday 11 November.

The annual Euro Asia Curry Awards are committed to celebrating the success of the curry industry and the people behind it. They were established in 2015 and aim to boost the UK economy, shout about the success of small businesses, support up and coming business stars, and celebrate diversity in the food industry.

The good news comes just weeks after the multi award-winning Maaya Indian Kitchen and Bar was a finalist in the ninth English Curry Awards 2019 and has been shortlisted for the British Curry Awards 2019, which take place on Monday 25 November.

Judges selected Shanoor for his outstanding passion, creative approach, unrivalled skill and constant dedication to creating the best and most delicious Indian food.

Mo Abdul, joint owner and manager of Maaya, said: “We are so proud of Shanoor! We only employ the very best chefs here at Maaya. Shanoor’s heart is truly in his food and his Best Indian Chef title is fully deserved. We are very proud!”

To find out more about Maaya, visit

The Big Chill Sweat Studios invites you to de-stress and relax

Feeling exhausted, stressed, over-wrought, in need of a rest but struggling to sleep? Then award winning, independent yoga business, Sweat Studios, has the perfect workshop for you! ‘The Big Chill’ takes place on Sunday 17 November at 3:30pm – 5:30pm, at their new Buckingham studio, and is designed to reduce stress and anxiety.

A 2018 study* commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation found that almost 74% of UK adults said they felt so stressed over the previous year that they were overwhelmed or had been unable to cope – The Big Chill is a two-hour workshop focused on helping you find relief from the busy, stress-filled lives many of us lead.

The session will begin with some light mediation and breathing techniques designed to help calm your body and mind. You’ll then have an opportunity to learn and practice some slow, restorative yoga poses which can help reduce stress and anxiety, before the session concludes with a long, guided relaxation.

The workshop also offers you an opportunity to talk to your instructor, Lucinda Memery, who will explain the benefits that this type of yoga practice has on you physically and mentally. She will also share with you tips to enable you to take the learnings from the day into your daily life and leave you better able to manage stresses and anxieties.

Sweat Studios owner, Kirsty Lowe, said “Many people tend to think of yoga as an activity that just stretches muscles, however there are a series of yoga poses that are designed to work with your central nervous system to reduce your fight or flight response, which is what kicks in when we are stressed. The Big Chill workshop has been created to help you reap wellness benefits during the session, so you will leave feeling much calmer, as well as teaching you techniques you can use day-to-day to help make feelings of stress and anxiety a thing of the past.”

The Big Chill takes place at Sweat Studios Buckingham studio, 28 Candleford Court – free parking is available in Cornwall’s Meadow Cap Park, a one-minute walk away.

As well as The Big Chill, Sweat Studios are introducing a new class to their winter timetable: Candlelit Chill-Out. These take place in their Milton Keynes studio on Mondays at 8pm and Buckingham on Tuesday at 8pm. This seasonal class is perfect for all abilities and is designed to help beat the winter blues. It comprises slow, floor-based, simple-to-do yoga poses to deliver the benefits of rest without the sleep.

Classes are easy to book online, and Sweat Studios is a contract-free zone. You can sign up for a group of classes or just drop in and pay for each class as you go – offering you maximum flexibility to tailor your workout times to suit you and your lifestyle. Sweat Studios also provide everything you need for a yoga class, including yoga mats, climate-controlled studios and cushioned flooring – all you have to do is turn up!

To find out more, or to book your place at The Big Chill visit, or call 01280 823220.

Salt Shack takes up permanent residency at intu Milton Keynes!

Salt Shack – a business which has been taking part in the Etsy MK Artisan Market since the markets began – is joining intu Milton Keynes for good as a result of the incredible success it’s had at the events.

From 4 November, it will be in its new spot between Superdry and Levi’s, selling Himalayan salt lamps and other products, all of which are genuine, fair trade and beautifully made items. With prices starting at just 99p, the lights make brilliant Christmas gifts.

Luke Timberlake, who runs the business with his partner Dannielle Beale, said: “We thoroughly enjoy the Etsy MK Artisan Markets at intu Milton Keynes and each one has been very successful for us. It’s really exciting to be taking up a permanent spot!”

Shelley Peppard, general manager at intu Milton Keynes, said: “The right businesses really can flourish here at intu Milton Keynes. By taking part in our Etsy MK Artisan Markets, small retailers are able to gauge what kind of success they might have. Salt Shack has always been so popular at the markets, so this is natural progression. It’s a wonderful business. We wish them every success and can’t wait to have them on board!”

Luke and Danielle’s passion for salt lamps began when their son, Tristan, was born six years ago. Along with Down syndrome, poor hearing and eyesight, and a serious heart condition, Tristan was also born with a disease that affected his airway. After Danielle bought him a salt lamp to help alleviate his symptoms, she was inundated with interest in it and decided to start selling them. Salt Shack has now been up and running for three years.

Salt lamps are thought to: cleanse the air; reduce asthma and allergy symptoms; ease coughing; increase energy levels; improve sleep, mood and concentration.

Find out more about Salt Shack at or

The Etsy Christmas market returns on Saturday 30 November and Sunday 1 December, giving local businesses a place to showcase their products and for shoppers to buy unique gifts.

The Etsy markets will be returning in 2020 and more details about how to take part will be announced in the New Year. If you want to register your interest in getting involved now, you can email the Etsy MK team on

Or for more about intu Milton Keynes, head to

Joe Pasquale confirmed for biggest ever City Centre Christmas Light Switch On

This year’s city centre Christmas Light Switch On, organised by MyMiltonKeynes, will take place on Saturday 16th November and it’s now been confirmed that comedy favourite Joe Pasquale will be switching on the lights alongside Father Christmas and the Mayor of Milton Keynes.

The free event will take place at the front of intu Milton Keynes from 4.15pm with an hour of live entertainment before the main switch on. Performances from two local dance schools; Romeo Academy and Dancebox Studios will get everyone in the festive mood, plus local singers and local school children will perform with Salvation Army brass band to truly raise the Christmas spirit.

Joe Pasquale is starring with Lee Mead in the pantomime Aladdin at Milton Keynes Theatre this year which opens on 7th December, so he’s flying in for a quick visit – but just not on a magic carpet this time!

Look out for the three giant Kings lit on the roof of Christ the Cornerstone Church, as well as the sparkling parcels and brand-new tree lights along Midsummer Boulevard – bursting into festive life. A spectacular pyrotechnic and laser show will light up the sky, signalling the start of the festive season across the city.

And, don’t miss out on the chance to win £1000’s worth of prizes, join this year’s MyChristmas campaign by sharing your Christmas moments in Milton Keynes on social channels using #MyChristmasMK.

The Christmas lights and switch on event is organised by MyMiltonKeynes (the Milton Keynes Business Improvement District) along with other key partners across the city centre.

The Blossom Room set to bloom in the heart of Milton Keynes

The Blossom Room – a luxurious new bar concept – is coming to the heart of Milton Keynes.

Set to open on Friday 15 November, The Blossom Room in The Hub Milton Keynes is a Japanese-inspired, high-end bar offering a breath-taking opulence and sophistication that you won’t find anywhere else in MK.

From its ceiling adorned with a canopy of beautiful cherry blossom and an insta-perfect flower wall, to its luxe velvet booth seating and muralled walls, The Blossom Room will give the people of Milton Keynes a taste of the ‘Instagram perfection’ usually reserved for London’s elite bars.

With hand-selected spirits, a curated wine list, artisan cocktails and premium gins not available anywhere in the region but here – each of which comes paired with the perfect tonic and delicate garnish to elevate its flavour – this a new taste of class to excite the city centre.

The Blossom Room menu will consist of small plates during the day and into the early evening, created by head chef, Martin Burnside who has worked alongside multiple Michelin starred chefs across the globe.

By day, The Hub Milton Keynes’ newest addition will provide the perfect setting for a crisp white wine over lunch, coffee-fuelled afternoons on the laptop, or a celebration afternoon tea. When the sun goes down, expect The Blossom Room to move to a different beat. Live DJs will spin the decks on Friday and Saturday nights, and live jazz, piano and comedy events will be bring new and exciting experiences to The Hub.

The building – formerly home to Gourmet Burger Kitchen – has undergone a truly fabulous £500k transformation to turn it into the exquisite bar it is today.

Renoire Da’Silva, General Manager at the Blossom Room, said: “The Blossom Room is MK’s hottest new bar. We have spent months planning every tiny detail, so that we can give the people of Milton Keynes the type of bar they truly deserve. From the floral ceiling and the copper top bar, to the plush booths, exquisite menu and even the luxury toilets – the whole place screams glamour. We cannot wait to open our doors so everybody can enjoy it.”

He added: “When it comes to our gin menu, we are confident that you will not find better anywhere else. Our gin-tonic-garnish combinations have been meticulously planned and look just as incredible and insta-worthy as they taste. Prepare to be amazed!”

To enquire about bookings at The Blossom Room, email

Find the bar on social media in Instagram at @blossomroom_mk and @BlossomRoomMK on Facebook.

Christmas shopping starts now – the Etsy MK Artisan Market is back!

It’s back! The Etsy MK Artisan Market is returning to intu Milton Keynes on 28 September, giving you the chance to start your Christmas shopping in style.

Stock up on beautiful, handmade gifts that your friends and family won’t have seen anywhere else and enjoy spending the day at one of intu Milton Keynes’ best-loved and most popular events – one that’s guaranteed to make shoppers smile.

From 9.30am-6pm, local independent businesses will set up shop on the mall outside Hollister and Gap, where they will showcase their creations.

Confirmed stallholders include upcycled fashion designer White Rabbit Apparel, fudge maker Bella’s Fudgery, teething jewellery creator Mummy’s Bubble, leather goods designer Miller & Jeeves, and jewellery maker Park Road Jewellery. They’ll be joined by many other brilliant sellers including Hazey Daze Wax Melts, Little Prints Charming, Ellie’s iPad Art, Salt Shack and Alle Interiors, to name but a few.

Kirsty McGiff, marketing manager at intu Milton Keynes, said: “We are focused on creating compelling events that help our retailers flourish and make our customers smile, and the Etsy MK Artisan Market does both. Everybody loves it! And we love partnering with Etsy to deliver a positive impact for the community, independent businesses, and the local economy.”

It will be the sixth time that the event – which runs in collaboration with Etsy MK – has taken place since its launch in 2017.

The Etsy Made Local Christmas market will also be back for two consecutive days on 30 November and 1st December, with full information being released nearer the time.

Xscape announces partnership with YMCA Milton Keynes in support of local young people

Xscape Milton Keynes is delighted to announce its partnership with YMCA MK as their official charity of the year. They’ve also announced a three-way partnership involving the MK Festival of Running for 2020.

With YMCA MK currently in the middle of the redevelopment of its new campus, which is due to open in early 2020, the partnership with Xscape Milton Keynes will help to raise awareness and the much needed funds for the fit out of 199 rooms that will help the charity support its young people with affordable accommodation and a dedicated pathway of support, including well-being, training and employment opportunities.

Xscape has supported the MK Festival of Running for over 10 years and in announcing this three-way partnership between themselves, the event and the charity – it’s hoped the profile of the YMCA MK project can get a greater reach and an increased level of support.

“We’re delighted to be chosen as Xscape MK’s Charity of the Year. We’re offering a bold solution to the youth housing crisis right here in MK and to have the backing of organisations such as Xscape MK is vital for us to succeed. We’re excited about our partnership and the benefits it will bring to our young people.” – Simon Green, CEO, YMCA Milton Keynes. 

The MK Festival of Running takes place on 15 March 2020 and organisers have already set up a donation link on their website for entrants to make a voluntary contribution to YMCA MK when they sign up.

Xscape will also have collection buckets for the charity at their annual free Santa’s Grotto this Christmas which will open in November.

Keep up to date on what’s coming up at Xscape MK – visit or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For more information about YMCA Milton Keynes, visit:

Fang-tastic, FREE-ky half term fun at intu Milton Keynes!

If you’re looking for some FREE ‘spooktacular’ events to take part in this half-term, then look no further than intu Milton Keynes for ‘wicked’ Halloween fun!

Dress your little ones up in their most BOO-tiful Halloween outfits, and head to your local shopping centre where – from Saturday 26 October to Sunday 3 November – they’re invited to come and bust some ghostly creatures, in a monster-hunting mission like no other!

All that your little witches, wizards, mummies and monsters need to do is collect a sheet from the customer information desk then head off on their hunt. Tick off each Halloween ghoul you spot hiding around the shopping centre, then head back to the customer information desk to collect a treat!* Not only that, there will be free craft activities on Monday and Tuesday.

But that’s not all – because on Thursday 31 October – the big Trick or Treat is back! From 2pm, visit the customer information desk to collect a pumpkin bucket, then visit the retailers with the pumpkins in the window for a sweet treat or twoooooo.*

Plus, intu Milton Keynes will be doing pumpkin-carving with families on Wednesday 30 October. Just pop along to have a go. It’s totally FREE of charge for Family Club members – or just £2 otherwise, and all the money raised is given to the MK Food Bank which intu Milton Keynes has partnered with this year.

By joining the intu Family Club, you’ll make sure you’re always first to hear about exciting events, plus you’ll get access to exclusive offers and discounts and even a free gift for your little one. Find out more at and sign up online or at the customer information desk.

Kirsty McGiff, marketing manager at intu Milton Keynes, said: “It’s not often we say this, but vampires, spiders, bats, cats, mummies and mini monsters are all very welcome at intu Milton Keynes this half-term! This event has been created with the aim of making our shoppers – however old – smile, and to encourage families to spend time together enjoying special moments. We hope you’ll come along and get involved!”

For more information, visit


*While stocks last.

Learn life-saving emergency medical skills at intu Milton Keynes

Shoppers can brush up on their first aid and pre-hospital emergency medicine skills while out shopping at intu Milton Keynes, thanks to medical students from the University of Buckingham.

On Thursday 29 August and Thursday 5 September, the medical students will be at intu Milton Keynes demonstrating these essential life-saving skills to the community.

Members of the community will be able to take part in short, two-minute demos. These include CPR using a resuscitation dummy, and how to successfully apply bandages and slings in a medical emergency. The team from the University of Buckingham will also hand out leaflets explaining the all-important ‘ABC’ (airways, breathing and circulation) of first aid.

The students will be accompanied by Dr Tom Evans, GP and Clinical Competency Lead, and Dr Jacqueline O’Dowd, Quality Lead and Senior Lecturer, both from the University of Buckingham Medical School.

Jacqueline said: “Our community engagement project is something we run with our medical students. Our aim is to give people the opportunity to test their knowledge and practice vital lifesaving skills. It’s as easy as ABC to save a life! These skills may one day save a member of your own family so please come along and see us. Our students will only take up a couple of minutes. We can help people from every age group to save lives.”

This is not the first time intu Milton Keynes has partnered with the University of Buckingham on an event like this. Following the success of the previous collaboration, both parties decided the event should be repeated to help educate as many members of the public as possible.

Gail Buckland, customer services manager at intu Milton Keynes, said: “It’s so important for people to learn these skills as you never know when you might be faced with an emergency situation. To be able to collaborate with a local university to help educate the public is wonderful. Having strong community relationships like these means that we can have a positive impact on the society around us.”

For more information, visit

Businesses challenged to compete to raise money for the Henry Allen Trust

This week, Aqua Parcs officially launched its Business Challenge with the help of Dawn Allen mother of Henry Allen and Founder of The Henry Allen Trust.

For each participant that takes part in the challenge, the Trust will receive £5!

So, what do you have to do?

Simply complete a circuit of the Aqua Parcs course in the fastest time. The sessions are on each Thursday at 7pm and costs just £15 to take part. You’ll swim out to the starting point, receive a walk-through of the course ahead and then it’s back to the start to record your time. You get one shot to make it to the end.

The top 20 times make it onto the leader board in the park’s reception and the winner will receive £250 PLUS exclusive usage of Aqua Parcs for an hour. There are also prizes for 2nd and 3rdplace. A £200 Aqua Parcs gift voucher, and third place will get a £100 Aqua Parcs gift voucher.

This is a Business Challenge so each person will represent their own business – no matter how big or small!

Dawn Allen and friends kicked off the Business Challenge and set the first series of times, making it in just over 2 minutes. Can you beat them?

Joe Grix, co-owner of the park, said: “As well as supporting an amazing local charity, this is a great chance to challenge your colleagues, set your own business challenge and see who’s the fastest in the company.”

Wetsuit hire is included in the £15 price.

Aqua Parcs is open seven days a week until September. For more information or to book, visit

About the Henry Allen Trust:

The Henry Allen Trust was founded in memory of Henry Allen who lost his battle to STAGE 4 HIGH RISK MYCN AMPLIFIED NEUROBLASTOMA, a childhood cancer in October 2013 to bring ‘happiness’ to children and families battling childhood cancer. Dawn, Mark and everyone involved with the trust have worked tirelessly to ensure no family is alone during their journey.

The Henry Allen Trust is there for these families from initial contact, all the way through the rest of their journey, be it treatment, remission or palliative/end of life care and beyond. The Trust do this by providing treats and wishes, financial assistance and emotional support to the families as well as holding a monthly THAT Support group where families come together to enjoy quality time with each other and share their experiences. The Henry Allen Trust also work with hospitals providing care packs, toys, arts and crafts, ward visits and even specialised equipment. For more information on The Henry Allen Trust please visit their website, and if you would like to become involved and volunteer for them drop them an email via their website or a message via their facebook page