Colors: Cyan Color

When a successful young corporate manager announces to friends and family that he is leaving his job to start a business, the normal response is one of wariness. Now imagine telling your loved ones that you will be starting this business during a pandemic in a country that you have never visited and where you have zero business contacts.

Though this scenario is far from normal, it happened in real life for Investment Banker Michael Ramsay. Michael left his job at one of Jamaica's leading financial institutions in December 2020 to join his wife Shenika in the United Kingdom.

"I did it for love" he said when asked what dared him to make the audacious move. When the couple's relationship started getting serious in 2019, they agreed that they both had to be in the same country for a lasting healthy union.

Though Michael had plans of pursuing his doctoral studies in Canada, they ultimately decided on settling in the U.K., where Jamaican-national Shenika has been living for the past five years. Having worked for the Jamaica Tourist Board for over 14 years, Shenika has now set roots in the U.K.

The idea for the coffee business was the influence of Michael's uncle and mentor, Donald Salmon a 30-year veteran in the Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee Industry. "A month after I told him of my plans to migrate, he pitched the idea of me importing our family beans and selling them across the U.K.", Ramsay explained.

"I discussed it with Shenika, and within a week, we had a website up and running," Ramsay continued. Two months later, the couple had their first shipment of beans to England.

Business is not without challenges, and this new business has endured its fair share. "When the coffee arrived in the U.K., we could not clear it, as we did not have an EORI number. We had not yet registered the company. We thought that since it was sent under Shenika's name, we could clear it using her credentials.

This approach didn't work, and we had to quickly register the company and pay for one-week additional storage at the custom brokerage," Ramsay recalled. After clearing the freshly minted Mikah Blue Limited's coffee, the couple then stored it in a rented locker.

As time went on, the rent accumulated. Two months in, a global lockdown meant cafes and restaurants were apprehensive about their future and were not eager to have the world’s most luxurious coffee beans in their inventory.

Michael had also planned to join Shenika in March 2020, but this plan was shackled as countries grappled with the onset of COVID-19 Pandemic. "I had to rip up my letter of resignation and stick it out for nine more months. We also had to postpone our May wedding," he shared. The couple eventually got married in November in a small ceremony. In January 2021, Michael migrated to England accompanied on the trip by his wife.

Mikah Blue Limited, affectionately named by combining Michael and Shenika's first names, is a wholesaler and retailer of 100 per cent Blue Mountain Coffee. The beans are sourced directly from their family farms located in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. While not giving specifics, the couple said business is doing well, especially considering that the country is in lockdown.

"We got our first order hours after I arrived in the UK. Someone with whom we had been in discussions from last year called while we were driving from the airport in London to our home in the Midlands. We sent the invoice the next day, and the money was in our account three days later," recounted the Mikah top man.

Mikah has since formed strategic relationships with many large coffee roasters and has seen an uptick in its online retail sales. The company is currently in discussions with luxury chain buyers and have booked display booths for some of the premier Speciality and coffee events planned for later this year.

What's next for Michael and Mikah Blue? "I still plan on pursuing my Doctorate, but after the company has achieved certain goals," asserted Ramsay. The Blue Mountain coffee beans are grown chiefly in the Sir Johns’ Peak region and consistently score among the best in the world. Stored in the UK, the beans are sold as wholesale and retail primarily in Europe, North America, and the Middle East.

 

For your chance to win one of 10 bags of Mikah Blue Coffee, just answer this simple question!

On which famous mountain is Mikah Blue Coffee grown?
a) Purple Mountain
b) Blue Mountain
c) Yellow Mountain

Just email your answer, with your name, address and contact number to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject "Mikah Blue Coffee Competition". Competition closes at 23.59 on 23rd April 2021. There is no cash alternative.

The film that gave the world one of its greatest movie heroes, Indiana Jones, is back and better than ever before! Relive the magic on the silver screen with the original great adventure… Raiders of the Lost Ark, with John Williams’ epic score performed live to picture by a full symphony orchestra!

For your chance to win a pairs of tickets to see Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark in Concert! at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham on the 21st September, just answer this simple question!

Which actor portrayed Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark? a) Tom Hanks b) Harrison Ford c) Sean Connery

Just email your answer, with your name, address and contact number to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject “Indiana Jones Competition”. Competition closes at 23.59 on 19th September 2018. There is no cash alternative.

Jamaicans are a passionate people, so perhaps it’s no real surprise that one of their most remarkable contributions to world cuisine is a bold, full-bodied cake that leaves you wanting more.

Rum cake is a delicacy with deep cultural and historical roots: the sugar, molasses and rum which make the cake so unique, rich and enjoyable are also a reminder of hundreds of years of Jamaican history, rooted in the island’s colonial past.

Vie’s Jamaican Rum Cakes are no different, made to a secret family recipe passed down from generation to generation, mother to daughter, brim full of juicy fruits and real Jamaican rum.

Agnes Viola Henry, aka “Vie”, was a strong, kind Jamaican woman, a descendent of slaves whose ancestors worked the island’s sugar cane fields.

Like many who travelled to Britain in the 1960’s hoping for a better life, she settled and worked hard for her family, but never forgot her Jamaican heritage, becoming renowned for her very rummy rum cakes.

Sadly, Vie is no longer with us. However, her youngest daughter Elaine was determined to mark her passing with a fitting tribute to her inspirational mother and Jamaican heritage. The idea of Vie’s Jamaican Rum Cakes was born.

Elaine was born in Aldershot, Hampshire, spent most of her adolescent years in Ash Vale, Surrey and lived in France for over 20 years of her adult life.

When she moved to the tranquil surroundings of the Lake District in 2019, she certainly wasn’t expecting to find one of the key ingredients for Vie’s cakes right under her nose, let alone a whole host of links to her Jamaican roots.

Exploring her new home, Elaine took a visit to the coastal Georgian town of Whitehaven, discovering The Rum Story and Jefferson’s.  Founded in 1785, Jefferson’s is a family wine and spirits business. The company plied its trade across the globe until 1998.

Like many merchants from Cumberland and Westmorland, including the Lutwidge’s (of Lewis Carroll fame), Jefferson’s had interests in the Caribbean, interests with deep-seated links to the ‘Triangular Trade’ (slaves, sugar and rum).

Jefferson’s 1785 Dark Rum bears testament to that. Jamaica and Cumbria have a shared heritage which links them indelibly, even to this day, with references across the island to these deep-seated connections: Westmoreland, Kendal, Carlisle Bay and Cumberland.

Inspired by her journey of discovery, Elaine set about working with expert cake maker Lisa Smith from Ginger Bakers, to craft a superlative range of cakes - some made with Jefferson’s rum - to honour her mother Vie, her roots and Cumbria’s shared heritage with Jamaica.

Vie’s Jamaican Rum Cakes launched a crowdfunding campaign in July to raise £5000 to buy a van for the blossoming company.

Company founder Elaine Rémy chose the 6th July as it is her parents’ wedding anniversary and the secret rummy recipe that inspired the business was her mother Vie’s.

Elaine explained further: “My parent’s were married for 54 years and gave me so much in their lifetime, their wedding anniversary just felt like the right day to launch.  “In all I do, I want to honour them and in particular my mother, Agnes Viola Henry, aka “Vie”.

“Her family recipe passed down from generation to generation is now being enjoyed by so many people and I’m sure if mum was still here she’d be very proud.”

The campaign was successful with 131 backers raising over £6,000. This was matched by NatWest Back Her Business who donated a further £5,000 bringing the grand total to over £11,000.

Elaine adds: “It’s an amazingly uplifting feeling to be supported by people who want to see Vie’s Jamaican Rum Cakes succeed, especially as many of these people are strangers.

“I am incredibly grateful to all who have supported me so far.”

Vie’s Jamaican Rum Cakes are baked in The Lake District, Cumbria in an award-winning bakery which has achieved “green certification”.

They are hand wrapped and sustainably packaged using biodegradable, compostable, cellulose (cellophane) food grade bags, raffia and card. Box filler is shredded paper.

The cakes have a shelf life of 6 months from production and the 600g fruit cakes come whole and are best cut into 6 100g slices using a cake knife.

 

COMPETITION:

 

First Prize :  Any 3 Cakes

Second Prize :  Any 2 Cakes

Third Prize :  Any Cake

For your chance to win one of 3 prizes of Vie’s Jamaican Rum Cakes just answer the very simple question below!


What is the name of the family owned Wine and Spirit
company that Elaine found when she moved to the Lake District?

a) Jefferson’s

b) Murphy’s

c) Henry’s

 

Just email your answer, with your name, address and contact number to
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject “Vie’s Rum Cake Competition”.  Competition closes at 23.59 on 18th December 2020. There is no cash alternative.

The Festive Gift Fair, the fabulous Christmas Shopping Fair is coming back to the NEC in Birmingham from the 16-19th Noveber with even more new and exciting stalls than ever!

Christmas means gifts for your loved ones, hanging decorations on the tree, excitement on children’s faces, party games, movies by the fire and a table fit for a festive feast…! Often the most time-consuming part is finding clever presents. There’s no need to be stuck for ideas, start with a trip to the Festive Gift Fair and you’ll see how fun and easy Christmas shopping can be!

From the moment you arrive, you’ll be caught up in the excitement of the day, exploring 350 stalls overflowing with thousands upon thousands of cracking gift ideas and decorations that don’t cost the earth.

The variety is HUGE, with presents for all ages – from babies to teenagers, and parents to grandparents.

When your bags are full, you can drop them off at the Present crèche and continue to shop, or stop for a bite to eat in one of the four sparkly catering/entertainment areas, where you can enjoy watching a great line-up of live musical acts – to get you rocking round the Christmas Tree!

No wonder The Festive Gift Fair is one of the most popular Christmas shopping events in the UK!

We’ve teamed up with the Festive Gift Fair to give away 10 pairs of tickets to the event to our lucky readers.

For your chance to win a pair, get your Christmas brain into gear and answer the question in the box below via email!

 

For your chance to win one of 10 pairs of tickets to The Festive Gift Fair at the NEC Birmingham, just answer this simple question!

Which Famous Reindeer had a very shiny nose? a) Prancer b) Blitzen c) Rudolph

Just email your answer, with your name, address and contact number to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject “Festive Gift Fair Competition”. Competition closes at 23.59 on 3rd November 2017. There is no cash alternative.

 

Much-loved wine brand Black Tower has the perfect offering for Christmas with their Smooth Red wine, soft, fruity and bursting with red berry flavours.  Easy on the palate, the wine has notes of blackberries and a subtle spice, making it perfect for the colder months.

Smooth Red is now available to buy in Tesco supermarkets nationwide, along with Fruity White, priced at £5. ASDA, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s also stock a range of Black Tower wines.

Black Tower white and rosé wines can be served cold or lightly chilled for the most refreshing glass to satisfy your taste buds, while the red should be served at room temperature. 

Enjoy a glass of Black Tower on its own or with your favourite food

For your chance to win one of many bottles of Black Tower Smooth Red wine, just answer the simple question below.


What flavour notes does the Smooth Red wine have?

a) Strawberries & cinnamon

b) Blackberries & subtle spice

c) Cherries & lemon

Just email your answer, with your name, address and contact number to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject “Black Tower Competition”.  Competition closes at 23.59 on 18th December 2020. There is no cash alternative.

Mekazoo, which we first looked at back at EGX 2016 at the NEC earlier this year, has now launched onto Playstation 4 and Xbox One in Europe. The free-flowing neon-infused platformer takes inspiration from the great and nostalgic platformers of old, giving players access to 5 Mekanimals, each with their own individual strengths. From Frog, to Armadillo, Wallaby, Panda and Pelican, you are able to swing, boost, bounce, climb and fly your way through each level.

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