Ooooh! Ahhhhh! I don’t know about you, but I turn into such a big kid on bonfire night. All those apple-cheeked youngsters with stars in their eyes, wrapped up cosy to watch the sparkles is a real winter highlight for me. Remember remember the fifth of November? I’ll never forget it!
Seven November 5ths ago, fireworks showered their light through my nearest hospital window (this was during my time living in Wembley, where Divali packs an extra-glittery punch) waiting to give birth to my daughter. I remember thinking how wonderful: her birthday will be marked with such sparkle! (She wasn’t born for another three long days, but let’s not spoil the reminiscing there, and don’t start me off on a rant about childbirth, for God’s sake...). Fireworks displays spark off many heart-warming thoughts in our little family..
First, story with a happy ending now, in time for Christmas! Local Stage School, StageAbility, were on a roll with their annual pantomime – the cast of children looked forward to it throughout the year, as did their families. The audience was growing and growing. However, when Jackie Stuart, principal of StageAbility received a letter from the theatre telling them to find another home, it “pulled the rug from under their feet”. Jackie told us, “We’d been using the 350-seat theatre at Bearwood College for several years. We knew the venue well so that we could make best use of the lights, sound and exits and entrances – all sorts of things. It always made our shows feel special.” However, Bearwood College, recently bought by Reddam House, is no longer hiring the theatre to external companies. StageAbility was notified in May that their booking could not be fulfilled. That sounds like plenty of notice, but they had booked the theatre over a year in advance because finding a theatre at Christmas time is tough! Burghfield Community Sports Association came to the rescue. “The team there were very accommodating and moved things around to allow us to do what we need. They’ve been really patient with all our questions in using a new venue and we can’t wait to get into rehearsals now! We have over 40 kids from Bracknell, Wokingham, Earley, Tilehurst, Burghfield and beyond! We’d like to say a big thank you for rescuing our pantomime!” Book tickets for Cinderella at www.stageability.ticketsource.co.uk . The show takes place on Sunday 6th December, 3pm and 7pm. Tickets are £10 (£8 concessions) with discounts for groups of 10 or more.
Would you like to make a difference? The Link Visiting Scheme is a charity befriending service for those in our community who feel isolated and lonely. Social isolation and lack of contact is more worrying to many elderly people than health or financial pressures. Weekly visits from someone interested and willing to listen makes a huge difference to someone’s life. If you have a little time and energy to help elderly people, please call Mandi Eagle, volunteer coordinator, on 0118 9798019 or 07823 772716. For more information, visit www.linkvisiting.org
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 November. The time 7.15 pm. The venue is Chapel Hall, Loddon Bridge Road, Woodley, Reading RG5 4BG. Non-members 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 encouragement and any questions, call Alice Vanden Bon on 01189 775273.
If you are community spirited and want to expand your social circle, you may be surprised at the irreverent fun entailed with getting involved with Reading Abbey Rotary Club. After some successful fundraising over summer, November features after-dinner talks about the Queens Flight by Squadron Leader JD Marshall (on 5th November) and the Henley Standard by Editor Simon Bradshaw (12th November). A visit to Binghams Brewery is planned, in addition to a Sunday walk and pub lunch. The club will also be supporting mock interviews for local school children. Reading Abbey is an active and expanding club – its Thames Walk raised £15k for End Polio Now, the AMAM Golf Day £2k for Riding for the Disabled and the Englefield 10k Run was the club’s largest yet, raising £4k for Hope for Tomorrow and supporting the Berkshire Mobile Chemotherapy unit.
Reading Valley Ladies Circle is a social group for ladies aged 18-45. They meet twice a month (on the first and third Thursday) to make friends, have fun and fundraise for local charities. Past activities have included murder mystery parties, cinema nights out, pamper evenings in and trampolining! Find the circle on Twitter (@ReadingValleyLC), Facebook or you can visit www.ladiescircle.co.uk/readingvalley
Now, how about some music to warm the cockles? Readifolk, Reading’s Folk Song and Music Club, has another wonderful array of highlights for the upcoming month. This starts on Sunday, November 1st with a Halloween special along the theme of Ghoulies & Ghosties. The next date for music-lovers is Jody Kruskal on tour from the US of A with some traditional American songs from yesterday, with dazzling Anglo concertina accompaniment. On 15th it’s Broom Bezzums; a whirlwind of trad British tunes along with “cheeky, off-the-cuff patter”! And, on 29th, it’s the turn of Steve Turner who will dazzle with his songs and concertina. These gigs take place 8-10.30pm at The Conference Room of Reading International Solidarity Centre, 35-19 London Street, RG1 4PS. Admission is £6 for guest nights. For more info or to book, call Una on 01189 483145 or Anne on 01189 613586.
We have some wonderfully creative people out there, not least members of the International Feltmakers Association. On the weekend of 21st and 22nd November, from 11am-5pm, it is well worth taking a trip to gaze on the beauty of a display of work and demonstrations by members of the Reading Group, Region 5, at Sonning Common Village Hall in Wood Lane, RG4 9SL. If you’d like more information about the association and all it does, visit www.feltmakers.com
The Berkshire Group of The Hardy Plant Society will hold its next meeting at St Peter’s Church Hall in Church Road, Earley (RG6 1EY), on Tuesday, 10th November. Doors open at 7.15pm for a 7.45pm start. Thomas Stone, a professional gardener since 1989, will give a talk on Underplanting Roses. His many years of working at the Harold Hillier Gardens, the Mottisfont Abbey Gardens, and across a number of private gardens in West Sussex and Hampshire make him the best speaker for this thorny subject! Visitors are welcome for an admission fee of £3 per person is payable at the door by all non- members of the Hardy Plant Society – Berkshire Group. Plants and refreshments will be available for purchase.
Bracknell Flower Club, winners of a silver gilt medal at this year’s Chelsea flower show has recently celebrated their 45th birthday. The group’s Christmas evening this year will be held at the Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park, Bracknell. The evening is entitled A little touch of Sparkle by the NAFAS demonstrator David Ryland and tickets can be purchased by calling Gillian Lowe on 01344 886861 or South Hill Park on 01344 484123. Club meetings are held at the Priestwood Community centre in Bracknell on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month and new members are always welcome. For more information call Alison Phillips on 01344 882733.
Which women inspire you in business? It’s time to nominate your chosen females for the Sue Ryder Women of Achievement Awards. The awards, now in their 10th year, honour inspirational women from Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire and are split into seven categories. Two new categories are women of achievement in services (aimed at public servants such as police officers, fire-fighters, teachers, councillors or military personnel in need of a pat on the back) and the Sue Ryder woman of courage award. Judges will accept nominations until February 5th. To make a nomination, call Sue Ryder on 01491 641 384 or visit www.sueryder.org/swoa.
Looking for laughs? You should make a date for Andy Hamilton – he’s a hoot! The award winning co-creator and writer of Outnumbered (BBC1), What We Did On Our Holiday (BBC Films), Ballot Monkeys (Channel 4) and Drop The Dead Donkey (Channel 4), star of Old Harry’s Game (Radio 4) and regular guest on The News Quiz, I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, Have I Got News For You and Q.I. looks back on his 60 years on this planet when he heads to Reading’s Concert Hall on Thursday 26th November. Warning, readers: the show contains ‘mild peril’.
If you are community spirited and want to expand your social circle, you may be surprised at the irreverent fun entailed with getting involved with Reading Abbey Rotary Club. After some successful fundraising over summer, November features after-dinner talks about the Queens Flight by Squadron Leader JD Marshall (on 5th November) and the Henley Standard by Editor Simon Bradshaw (12th November). A visit to Binghams Brewery is planned, in addition to a Sunday walk and pub lunch. The club will also be supporting mock interviews for local school children. Reading Abbey is an active and expanding club – its Thames Walk raised £15k for End Polio Now, the AMAM Golf Day £2k for Riding for the Disabled and the Englefield 10k Run was the club’s largest yet, raising £4,000 for Hope for Tomorrow and supporting Berkshire Mobile Chemotherapy unit.
Also on Saturday, November 28th is Sonning Common Primary School’s Christmas Fair. This will take place from 12-3pm and will have lots of gift ideas, while helping a great cause. Visitors have the chance to win a luxury hamper, enjoy mulled wine and mince pies, and meet Father Christmas in his grotto!
We have some wonderfully creative people out there, not least members of the International Feltmakers Association. On the weekend of 21st and 22nd November, from 11am-5pm, it is well worth taking a trip to gaze on the beauty of a display of work and demonstrations by members of the Reading Group, Region 5, at Sonning Common Village Hall in Wood Lane, RG4 9SL. If you’d like more information about the association, visit www.feltmakers.com
The Reading and District Probus Club welcome new members. Probus is a club for men who are retired or approaching retirement, and who enjoy a meal once a month in the congenial company of like-minded men. Lunch is followed by a talk, which may be on a variety of interesting subjects. The club meets at the Caversham Heath Golf Club on the second Monday of each month. For further information visit the club’s website www.probusclub-reading.org.uk If you are interested in joining, call secretary David Laird on 01189 470709.