Pantos, parties, bazaars, fairs, fetes and fireworks... That pretty much sums up November’s Ramblings! And so begins the flurry of fun in the run-up to Christmas. You either grab it with both hands and get into the festivity, or you channel Scrooge and his ‘bah humbug’ approach.
I keep saying every year that we should flee the country and try to forget about the 25th, but that’s just miserable of me, so you’re going to hear nothing but Christmas cheer from here on in.
With the new bar and box office area all finished there’s plenty of opportunity to check it out at any of the Corn Exchange’s events this month. First off, there is Beauty and the Beast on the 13th, 7.45pm. It’s an exciting mix of dance, theatre and original music offering a funny, moving and subversive look at male group dynamics. Keeping with the fairytale theme, the panto this year is Dick Whittington, and it runs from the 27th November to the 3rd January. To find out more and to book tickets visit www.cornexchangenew.com or call the box office on 0845 5218218.
Kennet Opera’s next major production, in from the 5th to 7th, will be Verdi’s La Traviata – a favourite with principals, audience and chorus alike. As always they will be singing in English; but they have a new venue in the 250-seater auditorium of Arlington Arts, just outside Newbury. Guiseppe Verdi’s La Traviata is the story in music of Violetta, the beautiful, pleasure-loving, sexual mercenary, who dares for the first time to commit her capricious heart, only to be asked to make the most terrible of sacrifices. Tickets are £15 from www.arlingtonarts.co.uk or call 01635 244246.
One of the iconic, ceramic poppies, which last year attracted over five million visitors to the capital, will be on display at The Co-operative Funeralcare in Newbury until the 11th. Members of the local community are invited to the funeral home during this time, to see one of the famous ceramic poppies created by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper ahead of Remembrance Sunday. Raffle tickets are now available so please feel free to call in or call 01635 37343 for further details.
Kingsclere’s firework and bonfire display will take place on Saturday 7th at the Fieldgate Centre. The gates open at 5.30pm, with a fantastic firework display at 6.30pm (no pets or sparklers allowed). Refreshments will be available and include a barbecue, with a vegetarian option. Great value tickets will be available in advance from Swan Street Stores or Kingsclere Primary School. All proceeds from this event go to FKS and provide much needed support for Kingsclere Primary School, supplying equipment and extra curricular opportunities for the children.
Continuing with fireworks, Lions Club of Newbury is holding another Charity Fireworks Spectacular this month, on the 7th at Newbury Racecourse. Gates open at 5.30pm and the display is at 7.30pm. Tickets before the event cost £4 for adults, £3 for children (aged five to 16) and £12 for a family. It costs £5 each on the gate. There will be a barbecue, bar facilities, a funfair and all proceeds go to the Welfare Fund that supports local people in need throughout the year. Visit www.newburyfireworks.org.uk for full details and ticket outlets.
The first of many craft fair mentions now, and St Bartholomew’s School is having theirs on the 15th, from 11.15am to 4pm. There will be over 60 stalls selling a wide selection of homemade crafts and gifts. There will be plenty of refreshments too. Admission is £2, concessions £1 and under 16s free. The next Neighbourhood Watch Meeting is being held on Monday 23rd at 7.30pm in West Berkshire Council Offices, Market Street, Newbury and there will be an interesting talk by Gary Baldwin, Head of Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Forensic Collision Investigation unit speaking on ‘Crash Investigation’. Representatives of the Neighbourhood Policing Team and the Fire Service will also be attending to give crime updates and both will be available to answer any questions. Just a reminder that there is parking close by and the evening charge is £1. Anyone is welcome to attend the meeting.
Looking for that special Christmas present? Then visit Newbury Art Group’s Picture Sale at Newbury Town Hall from the 23rd to 28th. Choose from a wide selection of original paintings, prints and cards. And if you enjoy painting, they offer members an extensive programme of events throughout the year: weekly painting afternoons in Highclere and Speen, workshops and demonstrations by contemporary artists, coach trips to London galleries, annual exhibitions and a rotating display of pictures at the Gallery Café, West Berkshire Community Hospital. New members are always welcome. See www.newburyartgroup.co.uk for more details or call Amanda on 01635 523409.
The Watermill’s Christmas production is Alice in Wonderland, on stage from the 19th until 3rd January. Join Alice in an enchanting world of talking animals, a bad-tempered Queen and a Mad Hatter for an unforgettable musical adventure. Chasing a mysterious white rabbit with a pocket watch, Alice tumbles down a rabbit hole and into a world of fun and adventure. There she meets the colourful characters of Wonderland and hears their fantastical tales. After a mad tea party, a curious game of croquet and a nail-biting trial to find out who stole a very special plate of jam tarts, will Alice find her way home? Written for The Watermill by Robin Belfield and Simon Slater, this brand new production reunites the creators of the Newbury theatre’s 2014 sell-out Christmas show, Peter Pan. Book tickets online at www.watermill.org.uk
Greenham WI meet in the Baptist Church Hall on Cheap Street on the second Monday of each month at 2.15pm. There are usually lots of interesting speakers throughout the year, as well as outings, a raffle and competition each month, plus refreshments afterwards. For more details ring Judith Walton on 01635 524238.
As Christmas gets closer the National Trust is gearing up for some fantastic festive treats for visitors. The Enchantment of Christmas at Basildon Park starts from the moment you step into the woodland trail to the house. The gnarled old trees become the homes of fairs, complete with tiny coloured doors. Twinkling lights lead the way to the beautifully decorated country mansion with huge Christmas trees emblazoned with swags and garlands and glistening with glass baubles. Their Christmas Trail is open daily from the 28th to 5th January, costing £2 per trail (normal admission applies). At Greys Court near Henley, from the 1st to 31st December, Lady Brunner, founder member of the Women’s Institute welcomes you to a perfectly crafted Christmas, with festive decorations in the house inspired by archive W.I. magazines. Have a go at wreath making too, from the 28th to 5th December (£45). For more details see www.nationaltrust.org.uk
My Wild Life: Under the Microscope is a new workshop put together by the BBOWT at West Berkshire Museum on the 28th, 10am to 1pm. Ric Mellis will show you what you can you see under the microscope. After a visit to the My Wild Life Exhibition at the West Berkshire Museum, this is an opportunity to see things really close-up. You can drop in any time between 10am and 1pm and your Local Wildlife Trust experts will be on hand with microscopes, to show and explain what you can see close up. Another nature-themed event at the museum is ‘Barn Owl Pellets’, also on the 28th, 10am to 4pm. It won’t be pretty, as Becky O’Melia will be dissecting barn owl pellets to see what local owls have been eating.
New Era’s Winter Production is ‘Foxfinder’ by Dawn King. William Bloor, a ‘foxfinder’, arrives at Sam and Judith Covey’s farm to investigate a suspected contamination. He is driven by his beliefs to destroy an animal that threatens man’s civilisation. The events that follow change irreversibly the course of all their lives. Book your tickets now for performances from the 2nd to 5th and 8th to 12th December. Call the New Era Theatre box office on 07919 916009.
The Rotary Club of Reading is holding their annual Santa Run in the centre of Reading on the 6th December. Up to 2,000 runners are expected to take part and there will also be a mini Santa Run for under 10s. The route starts and finishes in Forbury Gardens and takes in the Kennetside paths, Oracle shopping Centre (Riverside), Broad Street and Butter Market. There’s a free Santa suit, medal and goody bag for all runners in the main event, plus medals and free Santa suits in the mini run. The Mayor of Reading, Sarah Hacker, will start the run and present the prizes. Last year’s run raised around £25,000 for local charities and the organisers are expecting that figure to be beaten this year. Register online now at www.readingsantarun.co.uk
Aldworth’s Turkey and Tinsel Bazaar will be held in St Mary’s Church (RG8 9SB) on Saturday 21st from 9.30am to midday. Enjoy free turkey tastings and mulled wine while you peruse the charity stalls. Find handmade children’s clothes and gifts in aid of The Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice now being built in East Berkshire and the R.N.L.I. stall’s Christmas cards and gifts. Father Christmas hopes to visit and say hello with a bag of sweets for children. There will also be fresh produce, foods and Christmas plants/wreathes, as well as refreshments. The weekly Saturday Market hopes to move into Aldworth’s new village hall by December. Call 01635 578090 or 579344 for more details.
Last but not least, the Reading branch of the British Cactus and Succulent Society will be welcoming Andy Young for a much anticipated illustrated talk entitled ‘Conophytums’. These miniature gems from South Africa, often called living stones, are a wonder to behold. The date is Saturday 21st. The time 7.15pm. The venue is Chapel Hall, Loddon Bridge Road, Woodley, Reading RG5 4BG. Non-members are welcome. A token entry fee of £2 includes tea/coffee and biscuits together with a ticket for the raffle. See the website www.reading.bcss.org.uk . For more details call Alice Vanden Bon on 0118 977 5273.
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