So then, August, what is there to do? Well, I can safely bet that kids and teachers alike have downed their weapons of mass-education in order to recharge their batteries, ready for the next round in September. So what better way to saviour their youth then running around like a mad thing for an entire month? I remember that kids’ TV programme in the ’80s called Why Don’t You? used to sing, ‘…switch off the TV set (and hand-held devices) and do something less boring instead…’ (Ironic given the fact it was on the television). And so, I bet you are probably thinking, “Where can I take the kids this summer, so they won’t get bored and start the teenage fad earlier than they should?” Let’s get into the treasure chest of summer fun for the kids.
Sometimes it’s enough to just turn up and enjoy things that are happening; and this is true of the Hurst Horticultural Show. Hurst Horticultural Show (22nd August) encapsulates the quintessentially British experience. What could be more British then sampling cream teas, listening to the Waltham St Lawrence Silver Band whilst nursing local, delicious ales? The organisers actively encourage you to sharpen your enjoyment of the day by entering one of their competitive classes throughout the day, allowing willing participants to get their heart rate elevated. So what can you enter? Well, there will be categories from cakes, preserves, fruit, veg, flower and handiwork. There’s also the eagerly anticipated ‘men-only apple flan class’ and a photo class themed with the title ‘Sky’. The show takes place at Hurst Village Hall and is open from 1.30pm. Call Kathy (cooking) on 0118 9785101 or Julie (fruit, flowers and veg). For more info, visit www.hursthorticulturalshow.org
It is expected that with any family fete; castles should be bouncy, faces should be painted, meat should be barbecued, entry should be free, fun should be with family, ice should be creamed and cream should be iced. So for any terrific family day out, you’d want all these ducks lined up. And at the Cantley Park fete, they are perfectly aligned. I can personally guarantee all of the aforementioned list will be met at the Summer Fun Day in aid of the Ollie Young Foundation, which will takes place on Sunday 16th August at Cantley Park. There, the cream will be deliciously iced, the castles are going to be the bounciest you will ever see, the entry is priceless (in that it is without a price) and the meat will be immaculately barbecued. Get there anytime between 11am and 6pm and have yourself a fun family day out for a great cause!
Given the drought in their stateside namesake, I’m beginning to feel that the California Gardeners’ Club are somewhat ironically named. That said it’s obviously not intentional. So hopefully the notoriously litigious sensitivity of the Amercans won’t be brought upon the great and the good of the club anytime soon, though it would make rather an interesting story. The Michael Hyde of Woodland Trust will be at the California Gardeners’ Club to give a talk on ‘Keeping Woods Alive’ on August 10th at the Ratepayers Hall, Finchampstead Road, important stuff from a incredibly knowledgeable chap. If you’d like to catch the talk, pop along at 8pm on Monday August 10th. And if you’re not yet a member you’ll need £2.
What would your choice of subject be to paint a picture of a summer’s eve? I reckon there are two strong candidates; the sunset on a colourful countryside background or the capturing of idyllic flowers in full bloom. But then what media will you choose? Again, let’s look at what might be on offer. Oils tend to be a little heavy, so it’s going to be a choice of either watercolours or pastels. Given that pastels are gaining popularity, I reckon this would be the best choice, don’t you? The Wokingham Art Society seem to agree with me, as on the evening of August 18th, they will lift the lid on the tips and secrets behind painting flowers and all sorts with pastels, bought to you by the Virgil that is Freda Anderson, whom will guide you through a journey beginning with getting to know pastels, until reaching the “Paradiso” that will be perfection in everything you draw with pastels. The demos take place on the evening of August 18th (7:30pm – 9:30pm) at the Methodist Church on Rose St in Wokingham. If you’re not yet a member, you’ll need £4 to attend the event. For more information, please contact 0118 9731556 or go to www.wokinghamartsociety.org.uk
It’s always nice to know what has happened to the money you’ve sent the way of local charities. Not out of being nosey, but out of the fact that we are keen to see how your donation has helped changed somebody’s life. So it’s good to know the Wokingham Lions have used £5,000 from their record-breaking fundraising at this year’s May Fayre to help Camp Mohawk launch new youth groups from September. Camp Mohawk is a multi-functional day centre for children and young people with special needs near Wargrave (RG10 8PU). They also provide a secure and caring environment for individuals with high functioning autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, in which they can play, socialise, learn and experience new skills to immerse their senses in. Well done Wokingham Lions, very well done!
Britishness: it’s an elusive, morphing hybrid of selected behaviours, institutions, attitudes and hang-ups. But I feel there is one day out (summer fayres aside) that encapsulates true Britishness. One place that simply by going there should allow you the right to expect reasonable queueing. And this is of course found in a day out at one of the National Trust properties. Whether it is the ‘50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾’, the ball run, the splendid gardens, the honey bees, the amazing walks, the staggering nature of the buildings or just the simple, unadulterated Britishness of the trust itself; it really is a day out which can and should be done over and over and over again. So do it, do it now, go to Basildon Park, The Vyne or Cliveden or any of the other wonderful locations in our area, and have a cracking, thoroughly British day out. Go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk
When we harp on about the good old days, how far back should we go? Surely it can’t be that far (indeed we should be uncertain about the validity of the old days being any good at all), but not as far back as the Tudor times. The life they lead was brutal, smelly and cold, and then a little bit more ruthless. Do you want to know how bad it was in Tudor times? Then get along to the ‘Stinking Tudors’ day at Reading Museum where you can find out just how they tried to hide their oppressive odours as well as how they squeezed into their finery, you can even have you picture taken with Elizabeth I! Sessions cost £3 and last an hour starting at 10am, 11.15am, 1pm and 2.15pm after which you can explore the museum for free. Go to www.readingmuseum.org.uk
Those of you with children of a certain age know the summer holidays is about maximising each day in terms of entertainment. Some people like to pre-fill and pre-plan each day, i.e. write in the days’ activities in calendars. On those days, knowing what is coming is half the battle; it’s just a matter or navigating through it, which is the hard part. So for those gaps in anyone’s summer schedule, I recommend going to the local library and seeing what might be on offer. In Wokingham we have; Animal Habitats on Wednesday 5th August from 10.30am -11.30am where Quirks Animal Roadshow will take children on a journey through different animal’s habitats, £3.50 per child, aimed at ages four to 12 (call 0118 9781368 to book); Hugless Douglas Story time on Friday, 7th August, from 11am–midday for a fun story and activity session about Hugless with a free book give-away for a £1.50 entrance charge, aimed at children eight and under; Storytelling with Alice on Monday, 10th August, 10.30 –11.15am, £2 charge; Mini Animal Models on Wednesday, 12th August, where they can create Plasticine animals in this fun modelling session for ages eight plus (£2), and then on Thursday, 13th, and Friday, 14th August, from 2–3pm there will be a Myths and Legends Poetry session led by Emma Press aimed at children aged nine to 12. Call 0118 9781368.
At this moment in time, I have a friend competing in a triathlon with ironman proportions. Which got me thinking; we seem to be living in an age of fitness freaks. I mean it used to be that there was the odd bicycle on the road, now everyone’s at it. Or at the very least, people find time in their busy lives to either run, swim or just doing anything to burn the odd calorie. Big bike rides are now huge, marathons are run-of-the-mill (pun very much intended) and just to think they used to be rare. So it has got me thinking, when will the time come for orienteering? It has to be round the corner in terms of the popularity race; the thrill of humans against maps, further set against the evil mistress that is time, what is there not to love for any health conscious person or hearty explorer? If you want to get involved, go to Lily Hill Park on Wednesday, 5th August, 1–3pm, you’ll find an orienteering open event, suitable for all. Call 01344 354441.
Speaking of resurgences, it seems dogs are making a bit of a comeback of late (not that they went away, of course). So if you love your dog, then you should take it to the Paws in the Park at South Hill Park, Bracknell (RG12 7PA) on Saturday, 8th August, as it boasts that it is the UK’s largest indoor and outdoor dog show. The event has been created to promote responsible dog ownership and includes demos, products displays, competitions and veterinary advice all for free. For more information, call 01344 354441.
Did you know there’s an allotment open day on Saturday, 15th August? There will be proud allotment owners who can answer any allotment or horticultural questions. As well as that, you’ll have an opportunity to look around the famous allotments on Ormonde Road. And you can add children’s activities and competitions. If you’re interested in the Good Life that comes with allotment ownership, get along! Turn up from 2pm.
Right, at the moment we’ve have just annihilated the Aussies in the First Test of the Ashes (hoping I don’t look ruefully back on those words in three weeks’ time), so I thought it’d be a perfect moment to cash in on some cricket goodwill, and encourage you all down to the Wokingham Cricket Club. You needn’t have to play (though new members are always welcome) – a good turn-out by avid cricket fans is the sort of thing that keeps local cricket clubs thriving. Also, the Wokingham Cricket Club proves to be a nice spot for a drink on a Saturday afternoon as you watch the sun set. So come along and support some grassroots cricket; you’ll barely notice the difference in standard or waistline compared to the national side.
Okay, now all there is left to do is to perhaps wrap this up. Checking out is all that’s left to do, and these very words are the checking out words of choice. Well thought out they might not be, they serve a purpose…possibly. So enjoy all of these enthralling activities that I mentioned, and we will meet again in the sunny month of September. Goodbye!
Windrush Innovation Centre, Howbery Park, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BA