We are only a month away from Christmas eve and  winter is well upon us now , with with long dark nights , and and lots of wind and rain. But don’t despair as DGWGO brings you a wee ray of sunshine into your dark evenings as we have our latest monthly installment of the  adventures and banter from Dumfries and Galloway Musician ‘ Zoë Bestels wonderful family.

1 a 1 a bestels cuppa with heather

Living in D&G I get the chance to pop in for a cuppa and a catch up with the most interesting, talented and wonderful people and I can’t wait to introduce you to them.

1 a 1 a heather usualplaceLast month I had the pleasure of visiting The Usual Place which seems from first appearances to be an ordinary cafe set in an extraordinary building. Housed in the former, now fully refurbished Townhead Church on the corner of Lover’s Walk and Academy Street, this meeting place certainly is a truly unique setting.

But look a little deeper and you will see that the stunning features and stained glass windows are not all that makes this cafe truly special. The Usual Place is a fully accessible building being wheelchair-friendly throughout including a changing places toilet and it’s core objective is to create employability, training and wider citizenship opportunities for young adults with additional support needs.

We were delighted to be given a guided tour by Linda Whitelaw and Heather Hall, the two ladies behind this wonderful idea.

The Usual Place means that popping out to meet friends for a coffee is now something available to absolutely everyone. This makes my heart sing. As a former lecturer of people with additional support needs, I know how this wonderful place will make everyone feel welcome, seen and supported. We will be back often!


photo: Zoë with Linda and Heather


1 a 1 a bestels watchwithpeter

The Water Diviner

1 a 1 a water diviner

I started writing these movie reviews trying to highlight films that may have slipped your attention, under the radar as it where. Well, it’s difficult for a Russell Crowe film to slip by unnoticed, especially after garnering plaudits and awards in Australia, but UK box office figures suggest that Crowe’s directorial debut may have done just that.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t quite a failure but to gross just a shade over $1.5M in UK cinema tickets is a bit woeful. To put that into some perspective and ignoring the big blockbusters that gross around $100M mark, the Minions movie sold in excess of $72M, 50 Shades of Grey $50M and even a Peppa Pig film sold twice as many cinema tickets than Crowe’s historical drama – I’d say that warranted an “Under the Radar” sticker at least.

So it’s a shame, but box office statistics suggest you probably didn’t see this film and I really think you ought to. I get the feeling that I might not like Russell Crowe should I meet him but there’s no denying that the man can act and it appears he can direct extremely well too. The Water Diviner, Crowe’s directorial debut, is loosely based on a true story about a father who, having lost all three of his sons after the Battle of Gallipoli, goes off to search for their bodies to bring them home.
Crowe’s character, Conner, is a water diviner.

He has the uncanny knack of locating water hidden deep underground of his Australian homeland but as his heart-broken wife points out, he can’t find his own sons. We follow his journey to Turkey from where he must find his way to Gallipoli. Conner must also deal with his emotions after meeting the enemy, a Turkish officer, Major Hasan played by the excellent Yilmaz Erdogan.

Oscar winning cinematographer, Andrew Lesnie applies his exquisite touch to the entire movie and the beautifully lit shots of Australia and Turkey clash appropriately with the stark, flashback scenes of war, death and desolation. This is a film that reminds us of the futility of war and the emotions of a grieving father are handled appropriately and with finesse.

In my humble opinion, The Water Diviner is a must-see movie if only to further demonstrate the horrors and stupidity of war, timely reminders as if we needed them.

[vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL3WU3fMc1U”]


1 a 1 a bestel travelswithzoe

1 a 1 a logo GivemberI’ve been really busy recently, as well as doing all my music stuff; I’ve been part of a little project called Givember. It’s a kindness movement that encourages people across the region to give back in non financial ways, and this Friday (the 27th) instead of getting caught up in all the madness of ‘Black Friday’ we say “Hey, let’s be nice to each other” i.e. ‘Give Back Friday’.

You can find out what it’s all about and how to get involved on the website: http://www.givember.co.uk and we’re on Facebook and Twitter too.


Because of all the sad things that have happened in the world this month, there’s all the more reason to spread kindness and be nice to one another.

My track of the month is my favourite song from the soundtrack of one of my favourite films, Amélie, which I really need to watch again soon. Funnily enough the film is about random acts of kindness, so it all ties in. I regularly listen to the soundtrack and this song is stunning. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

[vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dyo4tNwNIvQ”]

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