Monday, 23 February 2009

A bit of spit, polish, and make-up for the website

Hi there all of you who may wander this way...considerably fewer now as i've not posted for about oooh ages. but there are changes afoot which means i will be cranking up the blogging tool once more...

So, in the time i've been absent, all has been ticking along quite nicely here at Continental HQ. We've got lots of music, bands, theatre, live literature, and a whole lot more on in the 'Continental arts space' venue which is what used to be known as coconuts. ok, so it is still known as Coconuts in our hearts, but i couldn't justify buying the neon sign of the girl kicking her leg out of the cocktail glass while the word coconuts flashes on and off. having said that, when we looked at our licence, we were unsure if we could have burlesque performance (an artform!). Apparently we're not allowed any naked adult entertainment. so there we go, the girl in the cocktail glass will have to ensure she is wearing her fans at the appropriate angle. Anyhow, you can find out more on the events side of things at

We're currently having our website overhauled. The new one will be all bell, whistles, and small exotic dancers (no, sorry, i was just back in coconuts for a moment). It will be at the same address, but it'll look different. Shinier. Newer. More depth. More content. Like the geeky, clever girl / boy in class when they get over the teenage angst phase and into some decent clothes. Not that we don't love our current website, but it could do with a bit of spit, polish, and make-up, so that's what we're doing.

But we'll still have a blog space. So I was thinking about that, and feeling very guilty for not blogging more. I think i'll go down a different road with the new this space, as it'll be coming this way before too long. And possibly, just possibly, we'll put some flashing neon on there, too.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The Judgement of Mr Jenkins - Saturday 1st November

The Continental gets its first taste of studio theatre from the award-winning Second Nature Theatre Company on Saturday 1st November 2008 at 8pm.

Ross Andrew's Manchester Evening News Award Winning dark comedy is touring again, and taking in The Continental along the way. If you missed this last time around in Manchester’s 24:7 Theatre Festival, here's another chance to see it, and if you've already seen it - come and see the new extended version.

Developed with the support of OLDHAM COLISEUM
''Mr Jenkins wakes from a disturbed sleep in the early hours of the morning to find a smartly dressed stranger in his living room. The stranger is as reluctant to give answers as he is to leave... Can our everyday choices and seemingly irrelevant actions have serious consequences? Has anyone told Mr Jenkins?

''sharply written by Ross Andrews and compellingly presented...'' Kevin Bourke MEN * * * * *

''the drive and pace were fantastic and the packed audience were howling with laughter. Make sure you don't miss this show - even if you have to bring your own seat!'' Caroline May, UK Theatre Network

First and my favourite was 'The Judgement of Mr Jenkins', a darkly humourous morality tale...there were plenty of laughs, what with the afterlife having been privatised and the criteria for entering heaven changed. New modern day sins included not rewinding the cassette before taking it back to the video shop, and it certainly struck a chord with me...''
Caroline Dutton, Lancashire Evening Telegraph, Sept '06

Prices: £8, £5.50 concessions (OAPs & Students, ID required)

Tickets available from the Continental (telephone & over the bar)
Also available in person or by telephone from Preston Tourist Information, Lancaster Road, PR1 1HT. Opening Hours 10am - 5.30pm Monday – Saturday. Tel 01772 253731 (telephone booking fee £1).

Pre-Theatre menu available with tickets - £11 for 2 courses, £13 for 3. Bookings required, available 5pm - 6.30pm

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Beer Festival this weekend 23rd - 26th October

Beer Festival this weekend!!

The inaugural Continental Beer Festival kicks off on Thursday 23rd October at 6pm for the whole weekend in the Continental’s events space.

The festival will be a paradise for ale drinkers with 100+ beers available, including 60 cask ales, a cider & perry bar, plus foreign beers including those brewed specially for the Oktoberfest in Munich. Speciality food will be available throughout the weekend including a hogroast. In addition, the kitchen will be open lunchtime and in the evening as usual, serving up the usual excellent fare to soak up the ale.

There will be live music every evening. Thursday sees smooth jazz trumpeter Nick Holme rolling out the standards to help the beer slip down. On Friday, Preston 6-piece Saraban have promised a mix of songs and genres, from jazz to pop, folk to rock - songs that you'll know, some that you won't (but you'll love anyway) and some that you'll think you don't know then realise that you do. Saturday sees the magnificent Dr Butler's Hatstand Medicine Band, who will do two sets of insanely entertaining blues & jazz Music for Sunday evening comes from contemporary jazz guitar duo Bailey & Mockler, whose sweet jazzy grooves are sure to make the approaching week a little sweeter.

The Continental’s famous authentic Boddington’s Beer large outdoor pub lit sign, which spent generations lighting the outside of the pub, will be auctioned off to raise funds for the Neonatal Unit at Royal Preston Hospital during the first beer festival run by the pub this weekend.

The auction will take place on a rolling basis over the 4 days. The sign will be on show during this time. It will be a pound to place a bid and the daily highest bid will be announced at the end of each day to start of the following day’s bidding. Bidding will finish at 5pm on Sunday afternoon 26th October, and the winner and total announced at 6pm.

But here is no doubt there will be lots of beer drunk!

see you there

Team Continental

Friday, 3 October 2008

crazy photo

no, that photo isn't supposed to be like that. i'll try and sort it out!

Chicken Licken at the Continental

Upcoming Children’s Theatre at The Continental

The Continental opens its doors on Sunday October 12th 2008 to the first in a series of children’s theatre events. Chicken Licken is a one-man show for early years from internationally touring Preston Company, Dynamic New Animation (DNA). DNA will be returning to the Continental in December with a 2 week run of the acclaimed A-Tishoo!, a theatre piece for the under 6’s.

Further information about A-Tishoo will be circulated in October. Chicken Licken information is below.

Chicken Licken
An early years show & workshop by Dynamic New Animation

"DNA’s wonderful blend of classic tales is one of the best children’s shows touring the UK" - Barney Jeavons, The West End Centre, Aldershot

“A one-man and several-puppet show from the innovative storytelling outfit Dynamic New Animation, it's cuddly farmyard friends are brought to life in an avuncular narrative and a attractively rustic set: all good wholesome fun for new theatregoers” - Ronnie Haydon in Time Out, May 17th 2000

A baby chick is born and thinks the sky is falling down. On the way to tell the King, she meets Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky & Turkey Lurkey, but there's a shocking surprise! Chicken Licken grows up to be the Little Red Hen and asks her friends to help her make bread, but no one wants to play! Mixed into this recipe of food, puppets and music is the story of Little Red Hen and the sly Foxy Loxy. Will she outwit him and save her stuffing?

This one-man show is a trilogy of classic tales from the Ladybird books - Chicken Licken, The Little Red Hen and The Fox and the Hen. Starting as a baking demonstration, the show rapidly becomes the adventures of a growing chick and her encounters with a hungry fox.

This show uses shadow and rod puppetry and has an original musical score by Jon Owen.

Family Workshop

A special workshop for early years, to extend their participation, and aid audience development and family learning.

The Chicken Licken performance is accompanied by a simple shadow puppet workshop. The kids cut their favourite characters from the show out of card.

If it's a chicken they bring it to life with a magic feather. If it's a pig it gets a pipe cleaner curly tale. They make a cellophane window in the creature, tape on a bendy straw and hey presto! It's a shadow puppet!

They get to try out their creations on the actual stage set, two by two, in a 'Parade of Poultry' with music from the show as the others applaud. All materials supplied.

Family theatre & dining deals are available for those wishing to dine before or after the show & workshop. For further information please see


Performance date Sunday October 12th 2008
The Continental, South Meadow Lane, Preston, PR1 8JP
Suitable for age 3 – 6
Show running time 45 minutes
Workshop running time 40 minutes
Children must be accompanied by an adult

Shows 11am & 2pm, followed by workshops.
Prices: £5 per performance ticket & £3 per workshop place. Workshop discount: 2 children for the price of one (accompanied by an adult)

Tickets available from the Continental
Also available in person or by telephone from Preston Tourist Information, Lancaster Road, PR1 1HT. Opening Hours 10am - 5.30pm Monday – Saturday. Tel 01772 253731 (telephone booking fee £1).

Monday, 22 September 2008

Drinks reception to launch the place

Here's the invite!

We'd like to officially invite you to our opening reception on Friday September 26th, from 6pm - 8pm. Ok, so we've been serving up great food, beer and music for a month now, but we thought we'd like to throw the doors open, show the place off a bit, and thank everyone who has helped us with the journey to get here - plus, we've just finished the first phase of the new events space, and are itching to try it out! By then, we should even have finished off the garden electrics, although looking at the rain I think finishing the outside of the conservatory is too much to ask!

We'll put on a spread from the kitchen, and some drinks from the bar - we'll also have some words from our local councillors. This will all be complemented by a great music set from local Latino guitar blues band, Lava. You can see them here on The reception will be followed by an all-welcome disco, with the Continental's resident dj spinning soul, funk, reggae and maybe some disco if you're up for it... All of this will be in the newly refurbished events room, which is through the conservatory at the back of the building.

Saturday night will see Preston's very own slam winning poet, Mark Mace Smith aka Thud Dub. A regular Apples & Snakes Seconds Out slam winner, alongside BBC Radio 4 North West Slam winner 2007, and Commonword Superheroes of Slam finalist 2008, Thud Dub won 2008 Glastonbury Festival's poetry slam. He steps up in the Continental's snug on Saturday 27th September. You can hear him here:

The weekend will close up with the SUNDAY NIGHT JAZZ CLUB, 28th September 2008 from 9PM. This month we're hosting a very special session from MIKE WALKER.

Fresh from the Ditson Festival of Contemporary Music in Boston, the Salford born guitarist plays The Continental Jazz Club for the first time. Expect to hear world-class improvisation from the man the Guardian called "one of the most powerful jazz guitarists in Europe" - this is a rare opportunity to catch him in such an intimate venue. Mike's debut album, "Madhouse and the Whole Thing There" is out now on Hidden Idiom records - if we're lucky, he might bring a few copies with him... Check him out at

He'll be playing with Harold Salisbury - we're sure Harold needs little introduction to the Preston jazz aficionado. The sax stalwart has become something of a local legend, having blown all over the northwest for the best part of 50 years. Backing up Mike and Harold are the rock solid rhythm section of ex-Free Parking bassist Gary Culshaw, and Jonathan Hartley on drums. All we can say is you'll need to be there early to grab a seat!

To ensure you're on the guest list for Friday night, email us back at with your full name - also include the full name and email address of any guests you want to bring. See the invitation for further details.

See you there!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

The New Continental is back on the map

The New Continental
The New Continental

Many of you will have travelled through Preston on a train at some time and, for most, it's not a particularly interesting journey. However, if the weather's good, the last moments of the journey, travelling over the River Ribble and looking over into the city's Avenham Park, can provide a glimmer of glamour before you trundle into the decrepit train station.

A decade ago, there was a pub in Preston that utilised these views wonderfully. Situated at the base of the bridge over which the trains roll, The Continental was the perfect place to spend a summer's evening, before the clientele and the standards of food and drink drove even the hardiest fans away.

Now The Continental has been reborn, thanks to an ambitious revamp from a young couple, Ruth Heritage and Jeremy Rowlands. They have also attracted some impressive collaborators - Stephen Kerfoot from the Running Pump in Catforth is the head chef, while ex-Marble Brewery manager Warren MacCoubrey is in charge of the cask ales.

MacCoubrey in particular is doing a good job. It was genuinely difficult to find a spot at the bar, but when we did, we were greeted by Marble's own 1334 (£2.40), one of the Manchester brewery's lighter, more delicate drinks, but it was surpassed by something from further afield. Whim Ale (£2) from Buxton was a real find, a light citrusy beer perfect for summer supping.

The money spent by Heritage and Rowlands on the decor also catches the eye. The old pub is still visible underneath, but there's some subtle tiling and lighting, plus a complete renovation of the large conservatory, which brightens the place up considerably. Taking a table in the conservatory near the large beer garden during the post-work bustle of a Friday evening, it was almost like being back at the Continental of yore.

When the food arrived however, it became clear that rather than returning the pub to its former glories, Kerfoot had surpassed them in the kitchen. A savoury fresh herb-baked cheesecake (£4.50) was testament to the risks being taken; nothing unusual in a celebrated city kitchen, here in a pub it seemed gloriously out of step. Bursting with tangy Lancashire cheese flavour that went well with the red onion relish, it was a clear statement of intent.

So, too was the warm ham hock salad (£5.50), basically a dish of Bury black pudding, Lancashire cheese and meaty strips of ham on a bed of rocket. It ticked all the boxes for those looking for locally sourced grub, but more importantly, it also impressed those around the table for whom salad is a dirty word.

Whether red snapper served with stir-fried vegetables (£9.50) is native to Lancashire is up for debate, but any concerns over food miles were forgotten after the first mouthful. A huge piece of fish offered a clean, meaty taste - it actually would have been better served on its own or with plain veg, as the sweet chilli sauce tasted a bit too close to the type you find on a supermarket shelf.

There were no such worries with the other main, a pan-fried French cut of chicken (£9.50) stuffed with black pudding and that Lancashire cheese again. A seemingly innocuous cheese, it can be inexplicably offensive to some, but having been brought up on the stuff, I cannot think of a dish that wouldn't be improved by it. It certainly added a lovely creamy counterpoint to the rough texture of the black pudding here, served on a hefty bed of mash.

To go with the mains, we decided to forgo the ales in order to examine the wine list. A 2006 bottle of Orballo Albarino Rias Baixas (£16.95) was a good choice, aided by a casual recommendation from the jovial waiting staff. Light and only slightly dry, it went well with a hearty meal, but might not be as successful sampled alone.

Both our mains were chosen from the extensive specials list, as were the desserts, scribbled down by the chef and narrated to us by the waiter (once he'd deciphered the handwriting). Opting for a chocolate fudge brownie and vanilla crème brûlée (both £4.50), the massive portions that arrived at our table suggested we had either chosen well, or that the puddings are designed to finish off any appetites still left standing. They may have lacked the surprising touches found elsewhere, but both desserts made up for it with sheer sweet delight.

It seems that Heritage and Rowlands have done an impressive job, hauling the Continental back on to its feet and adding some exciting flourishes. Solid choices in the kitchen and behind the bar have obviously helped, but there's an ambition to the whole project (plans are afoot for a performance space to be opened) that is obviously their own. Next time you're delayed at that train station, you know where to head.

South Meadow Lane, Preston. Food served Mon to Thu noon to 2.30pm and 5pm to 8.30pm; Fri noon to 2.30pm and 5pm to 9pm; Sat noon to 9pm; Sun noon to 8.30pm. Tel: 0177 249 9425.

see it here:

Really is a team effort that's got it that review - good on everyone!