Castle to Coast

Round & About

Berkshire

Take on a triathlon with a difference from Windsor to Brighton

Travel from Windsor Castle all the way to the coast at Brighton on a journey covering more than 81 miles –  but you’ll be completing it in a one-day triathlon. 

You’ll start with a 1.2 mile swim at Eton Dorney followed by a 67mile open road cycle through the Surrey Hills before finishing off with a 13.2 mile run up Ditchling Beacon and over the South Downs. 

There’s no competitive side to it and no timings instead it’s just about enjoying the adventure of the swim, cycle and run on Saturday, 10th August. 

Lee Brown, director and founder of Fullsteam, the endurance events company, says: “In 2019 we wantedtocreate something new in the world of triathlon.Castleto Coast’s sportive format will appealtothose lookingtostep uptoa middle-distance triathlon without the pressures of racing and beating the clock.” 

Swimmers will start the event in the water, in waves, and take on the continuous lap before taking to the saddle and embarking on the cycle ride which is fully supported with a feed station, toilet facilities, mechanical assistance and marshals at key locations as riders make their way along the route and 3,400ft of climbs. 

Then you’ll hand over your bike over to the transport team who will either take it on to Brighton for you or back to Windsor. All equipment for the run and changing facilities will be available in a sports centre. 

A finish line party will greet you on the seafront in Brighton where you’ll collect your medal. If you’re then heading back to Windsor, support staff from Fullsteam will take you back on the organised transport. 

Entry, which is limited to 500, costs from £160 before 1st August. 

  For more information about the event and full entry information, including costs, visit www.fullste.am 

Whiteknights Studio Trail

Round & About

Berkshire

Join the studio trail around Whiteknights and uncover some treasures

Thirty-eight artists, designers and makers in the Whiteknights area of Reading will once again open their doors for the Whiteknights Studio Trail.

Artists will invite people to come, view and buy their work, enjoy a pleasant stroll around the area and have cake and tea at various venues.

The trail which takes in 21 venues on Saturday, 15th and Sunday, 16th June, will also showcase Reading’s creative community by including events, activities and demonstrations. Visitors can see and buy artworks ranging from fine art paintings, ceramics and printmaking to jewellery, furniture and photography.

Join the walk around the area and wander into artists’ homes and studios. Discover the wealth of creativity in the area, such as the piece pictured from Carole Stephens, as well as buy artwork at affordable prices. You can browse and chat with the artist about their work while stopping for lunch and refreshments on the way.

This year the Whiteknights Studio Trail is trialling a new enterprise, Whiteknights Studio Trail Introduces encouraging young artists between the ages of 16 and 21 to develop their creativity – three have been chosen including Bulmershe School student Charlie who uses ink and acrylic for her self portraits.

Among other artists exhibiting their work are those working in mixed media, ceramics, photography, quilting, sculpture, glass and jewellery workers. Twelve of the venues will also feature demonstrations of tools and techniques used by the artists to make their work.

The studio trail is about more than just art with open houses and open gardens to be enjoyed too.

 For more details about the artists and their work and to see the map of venues involved, visit Studio Trail

Sit and sip

Round & About

Berkshire

Former Wokingham schoolboy James Mattingley has brewed up something special for the town with the opening of Sit & Sip Tasting Room in the town’s highly anticipated Peach Place development.

Sit & Sip serves up delicious craft beers from local brewers, as well as artisan spirits created by small family businesses, which can all be enjoyed with Tasting Boards featuring meats, cheeses and accompaniments, many of which have been sourced locally by Berkshire producers.

This is the second branch of Sit & Sip Tasting Room, which is owned by James, 38, and his dad Brian Mattingley. The first Tasting Room launched in Chichester last year and has been a huge success in the town.

The Sit & Sip concept is now closer to home, with the second Tasting Room opening within Peach Place’s courtyard area, which has been transformed from an old car park off Rose Street to a pedestrianised shopping and dining destination as part of the town’s regeneration.

I wanted to bring in produce that tastes great and is non-mainstream, drinks that you won’t get anywhere else.

Sit & Sip serves up delicious craft beers from local brewers, as well as artisan spirits created by small family businesses, which can all be enjoyed with Tasting Boards featuring meats, cheeses and accompaniments, many of which have been sourced locally by Berkshire producers.

This is the second branch of Sit & Sip Tasting Room, which is owned by James, 38, and his dad Brian Mattingley. The first Tasting Room launched in Chichester last year and has been a huge success in the town.

The Sit & Sip concept is now closer to home, with the second Tasting Room opening within Peach Place’s courtyard area, which has been transformed from an old car park off Rose Street to a pedestrianised shopping and dining destination as part of the town’s regeneration.

James, who lived in Earley for 10 years and attended Reading Blue Coat School in Sonning, is excited to have brought his Sit & Sip business to the town, as he says he always hoped to open a branch in Wokingham.

The business was founded after James quit his job in the corporate world working for a large health and fitness brand so he could focus on Sit & Sip.
The inspiration came from family holidays in the South of France and South Africa, where he discovered the concept of tasting experiences.

James said: “I’m a beer drinker, I love a traditional beer. But my wife isn’t the biggest fan of pubs and unfortunately I don’t particularly like cocktail bars, so we struggled to find somewhere we both liked to visit and enjoy a drink together.

“I started to wonder is there a gap in the UK market for somewhere that has a cool, funky, and relaxing environment that’s attractive to both men and women, where I could develop this tasting concept I had seen elsewhere.

“I wanted to bring in produce that tastes great and is non-mainstream, drinks that you won’t get anywhere else.

“I took the leap and quit my corporate job. We didn’t know if this would actually work. It’s been really successful in Chichester and really well received. Now we’re bringing it to Wokingham and I really hope people will enjoy it. It’s something new for the town.

“We’ve worked with some fantastic producers, and for me that’s been the real appealing side of the story behind all of this.

“One of the gins we serve in Chichester is made by a husband and wife team in their garage. Sit & Sip is such a marriage between these cottage industry suppliers trying to get their brands out there and us wanting to bring something a bit different to our customers.”

Visitors to Sit & Sip can choose from a revolving selection of drinks, with several choices from local breweries and small producers on offer at all times. At Sit & Sip you can pick a pint, or glass, of your choice or go for a flight of a paddle in order to taste the different range of what the tasting room has to offer.

The Tasting Room also offers a takeaway option allowing you to take your favourite brews home with you.

Local suppliers will include Siren Craft Brew, based in Finchampstead, and West Berkshire Brewery, based in Yattendon.

Sit & Sip hopes to hold two monthly themed tasting events where visitors can find out more about the creation process behind their favourite drinks, and sample some special guest products.

There will be regular events such as Tap Takeovers from companies such as West Berkshire Brewery and spirits tastings and masterclasses with Gorilla Spirits.

James adds: “We want to create an experience for the customer that is a little different and takes them out of their comfort zone by offering a quality range of different craft and artisan products that you can’t get elsewhere.

“At Sit & Sip our Tasting Rooms are all about the cool environment, quality products, great people and good times!

“But we will also serve the familiar to people who just want to come in and have a drink, rather than go for something quirky. If you want to come and try something a bit different you can, but there’s still drinks people will be familiar with.”

People in Wokingham wanting to get all of the latest information about Sit & Sip and future tasting events, can sign up to The Tasting Club and receive updates by visiting www.sitandsip.co.uk

Prophet Sharing

Round & About

Berkshire

Two great religions. Two great comedians. The descendants of Abraham may have gone their separate ways, but now stand-up comedian friends Ashley Blaker and Imran Yusuf are joining forces in the most-unlikely double-act since Kermit and Miss Piggy, the pair are travelling the UK uniting people of every faith and none for an evening of laughter and come to South Street Arts Centre this week. Peter Anderson caught up with the pair to chat about the show and their love of comedy.

With the current divisive nature of politics, it is nice to see comedy trying to bring unity, where did the idea for the show come from? Ashley replies “: I had thought for a while about doing something like this and then Imran came to see my Edinburgh show and really enjoyed it so I thought it would be worth asking him”. Imran agrees;” The show was Ashley’s idea I went to see him in Edinburgh last year and afterwards we got talking and he pitched this format.”

Speaking of the format, what can audiences look forward to? “Authentic experiences of two people from religious backgrounds who actually know what they are talking about.” Imran explains, whilst Ashley entices us “We perform separately and then do half an hour together. Thereafter I don’t want to give too much away.” He smiles.

Would there be the possibility of a sequel, together or perhaps with comedians of other faiths following your splendid lead? Imran replies “I hope this inspires other comics to explore something similar. Ashley and I are both quite well read into our faiths with some hardcore experiences, I hope to see more of something like this rather than the pedestrian narratives that are well worn out now.

I’m already working on another solo show and have vowed to read every major religious book over the next few years to help understand the multiple world views we are all so devoted to.” While it seems, Ashley has a partner lined up for 2020! “I have asked Tom Cruise if he’d like to do a show with me – orthodox Jew and Scientologist. Not sure how funny he is but I thought he would probably shift a lot of seats.”

You are coming to Reading, is this somewhere you have happy memories of? Ashley replies “Yes I’ve performed my last two solo shows in Reading, so I am very much looking forward to coming back.” Imran has also performed here “Yes, I’ve performed in Reading a few times before. At the Uni and for two previous solo shows”.

For your chance to see them together, they are at South Street Arts Centre on 4th June.

  For information go to Reading Arts.

Medieval Jousting at Stonor Park

Round & About

Berkshire

Stonor Park are hosting the Knights of Royal England for a weekend of medieval jousting on the 29th – 30th June.

A truly memorable jousting tournament including horse riding events to test courage and skill as well as foot combat with Medieval weaponry.  Support the winners and heckle the losers – this is an event not to be missed.

There will also be falconry displays, archery and dancing dragons to add to the Medieval experience.

EARLY BIRD TIER1 TICKETS ARE CURRENTLY ON SALE AND PROVIDE A SAVING OF £3 PER TICKET.  BOOK NOW WHILE THEY ARE STILL AVAILABLE.

Pictures include those by the Knights of Royal England.

Get your tickets here

Community shop

Round & About

Berkshire

Visit summer market ad find out what makes Hampstead Norreys Community Shop an award winner

Congratulations to the Hampstead Norreys Community Shop which has been named south east regional winner in the village shop/post office category of the Countryside Alliance Awards.

The awards dubbed the ‘rural Oscars’ are now in the 14th year and recognise the skills, produce, tradition, enterprise and the people behind the businesses.

All the regional winners in five categories – local food/drink; butcher; rural enterprise; pub and village shop/post office – will now attend the national final at the House of Lords in June to see who will be crowned the overall champion.

The community shop and café opened in 2011 and has become the hub of the village. As well as stocking a wide range of groceries at good prices there are a range of ‘made for Hampstead Norreys’ goods such as jam and marmalade and items that make good presents. And if they don’t have what you want, they’ll try to get it for you!

Speciality bread comes from Hetherton’s in Newbury, meat and fish from Vicars Game of Ashampstead as well as locally produced fruit, veg and free-range eggs.

This amazing community shop has also introduced Paypoint, has a prescription drop off and collection service and allows you to have parcels delivered there too.

And they say if there are other services you would like to see introduced just speak to the manager Mandy and they’ll do their best to help.

The courtyard café serves delicious foods for breakfast and lunch and if you have any specific dietary requirements let chef Jamie know  and he’ll do his best to help.

If you’ve not discovered this village treasure yet then make sure you visit the summer market on Saturday, 1st June. There’ll be more than 30 stalls including food and drink from Noi’s Thai Kitchen and Tutts Clump Cider, health and beauty, arts and crafts, homemade cakes, fashion and jewellery, live music and Armadillo Images in the orange tent.

Admission is free, there’s parking and toilet facilities.  
Pop along and see for yourself and find out what makes the community shop so worthy of its regional award.

Fingers crossed for the national final!

Find out more about the Countryside Alliance Awards

Photo: Manager Mandy and chef Jamie celebrate the community shop’s 8th birthday earlier this year

Hero police dog

Round & About

Berkshire

Britain’s bravest police dog who was stabbed in the line of duty has visited Heathfield School with his handler to discuss the role of police animals, perseverance and resilience.

Britain’s bravest police dog who was stabbed in the line of duty has visited a school with his handler to discuss the role of police animals, perseverance and resilience.

Eight-year-old German Shepherd Finn was stabbed with a 10-inch blade when tackling a suspect in October 2016. His handler PC Dave Wardell has campaigned since then to make it an offence to harm or abuse an animal in the line of duty.

So called Finn’s Law became law in April this year.

The pair were at Heathfield School in Ascot on Thursday, 23rd May to chat to the pupils and to say an extra special thank you for the use of their stage to practise their act for Britain’s Got Talent.

Finn and PC Wardell wowed the judges even bringing a tear to the eye of Simon Cowell with their dog show/magic act – they will find out today (25th May) if they have made it to the finals.

Girls at Heathfield watched a video of the performance, heard about the incident in which Finn was stabbed and about PC Wardell’s attempt to get the law passed.

The duo were joined at the school by PC Wardell’s former colleague and officer Sebastian Ellis. They both spoke about facing adversity, the importance of resilience and perseverance, careers in the police force and how to become a dog handler.

The session was finished with a demonstration of how scent tracking works.

PC Wardell said it was lovely coming back and being able to say thank you for the use of the stage. He added: “I really enjoyed sharing my story with a younger audience that that found at the House of Parliament! It was a pleasure too, to take questions on dogs, my career and dealing with the Government.”

Headmistress Marina Gardiner Legge said: “Standing up to adversity, perseverance and resilience are important qualities we work to instil in our girls.

“PC Wardell had an extremely moving story to tell and we were delighted he, Sebastian and Finn were able to share it with us.”

Helen & Douglas House Bubble Rush

Round & About

Berkshire

Burst though bubbles and help raise funds for Helen & Douglas House

Frothy, foamy, fabulous fun is on offer all in aid of a good cause next month where you can join hundreds of others fit to burst and fundraising.

Run, jump and dive through thousands of coloured bubbles at the Helen & Douglas House Bubble Rush on Sunday, 2nd June at Cutteslowe Park, Oxford and in Prospect Park, Reading on Sunday, 9th June, in a 5k challenge with a difference.

Anyone of any age is welcome to join in the fun and running isn’t compulsory, you can walk or even toddle your way through the family-friendly fun.

Burst through four colour stations with cannon pumping bubbles up to four feet high and get engulfed in light, foamy fun while wearing a Bubble T-shirt which you’ll get on the day. Once you’ve completed the run, special Bubble Rush medals will be handed out.

The route is 2.5k which you can choose to tackle once or twice but remember if you choose to do two loops it’s double the fun – you’ll get covered in colour eight times!

Funds raised at Helen & Douglas House Bubble Rush will help towards the £3million it costs annually to run the hospice and make a real difference to local terminally ill children and their families.

Helen & Douglas House helps families to cope with the challenges of looking after a baby or child who will die prematurely and allows them to spend time together creating memories.

Places for the Bubble Rush are limited so book as soon as you can, entry is available at various prices for families, individual adults and children and the run takes place in two waves at 10am and 11am.

To register to take part visit eventbrite and visit Helen & Douglas House for more information about and how you can help through their other fundraising events.

Photo credit: Helen Stuwart

Chilterns Walking Festival

Round & About

Berkshire

There are a wide variety of walks to enjoy – however you like to take yours – as part of the Chilterns Walking Festival from Saturday, 18th May to Sunday, 2nd June.

Are you an ambler? Do you like to saunter? Would you consider yourself to be a plodder or are you a trekker?

However you like to stroll, trudge, wander or roam, the Chilterns Walking Festival is the right route for you if you like to put one foot in front of the other. The 16-day event offers spectacular views, local stories and fun activities to enjoy as you get out and explore the countryside on one of more than 50 guided walks and special activities this month.

There’s a wide variety of walks to choose from, ranging from short gentle ambles to more challenging hill hikes, all to the backdrop of the stunning Chilterns countryside. The walking festival offers the chance to meet artists, craftspeople, farmers, food producers and storytellers.

You might choose to “meet the maker” with an art and craft walk from Nuffield, visit a blacksmiths and a furniture maker and be inspired by the scenery around you or perhaps you’d like a walk to a woodland camp where a simmering kettle and chance to cook lunch over a campfire await?

For something rather different how about discovering “powerful places in the Hundreds of Aylesbury”: an Iron Age fort, a medieval castle and the Prime Minister’s country residence at Chequers. Discover Henley, explore its history and go on the trail of Midsomer Murders and filming locations – you’ll hear personal anecdotes and details not found in the guide books.
There’s lots of history to enjoy along the way, too. Follow in the footsteps of your ancestors along the Tuddingway, a medieval route along the Thames corridor with divisions up into the beechwoods and take a guided tour of the historic Jordans meeting house (complete with tea and cake at the end) in the company of a life-long resident of the Quaker-founded village of Seer Green.

How ever you decide to walk the Chilterns, there’ll be a trail for you with walks for different ages, interests and levels of fitness; walks for young families, those with limited mobility and dog walkers. Each walk is guided by an experienced knowledgeable leader.

The main event sponsor is camping shop Complete Outdoors. Managing director Andrew Inkley said: “For over 35 years, we’ve been helping people to prepare for their adventures, whether walking in the park, or climbing a mountain. As a Chilterns company we loved the idea of supporting a local walking festival that helps people to discover what’s on their doorstep.”

The festival is also sponsored by family-owned and run brewer and pub company Brakspear and many of its 132 pubs are located along the routes of the Chilterns, so why not pop in to in and enjoy a well-deserved pint along the way?!

  Most of the walks and events are free but must be booked in advance. For full details and to book head to Visit Chilterns

Let’s Rock the Moor

Round & About

Berkshire

Get ready to rock the moor in Cookham

It’s festival season and there are so many to suit every musical taste – if retro style is your thing then Let’s Rock The Moor in Cookham is for you.

Celebrating 10 years this year, Let’s Rock The Moor began in 2009 as a charity event attended by 1,200 people and headlined by Nick Heyward (who remains part of the Let’s Rock family). In 2019, almost 10 times that audience will be treated to non-stop entertainment and hits from many of the biggest names from the 80s including Erasure’s Andy Bell, Marc Almond, Shalamar, Jason Donovan, Go West and Nik Kershaw.

This is the first of 12 Let’s Rock festivals taking place over the summer, expected to attract in excess of 150,000 party goers who will be entertained by some of the biggest names of the era, with different line-ups.

Let’s Rock organisers Nick Billinghurst & Matt Smith said: “We’re really proud of what we’ve created with Let’s Rock and it’s such a thrill to work with so many iconic artists.

“What makes Let’s Rock truly special is our amazingly loyal and up-for-it audience, and every year we strive to improve their experience. Here’s to our best Let’s Rock summer yet!”

Let’s Rock continues to work with many amazing charities including Child Bereavement UK, The Wooden Spoon, and The Link Foundation. They also work with local charities wherever possible. To date almost half a million pounds has been raised for children’s charities by The Let’s Rock brand.

Let’s Rock is a family-friendly festival; children can enjoy complimentary activities within the ‘Kids’ Kingdom’. For adults, there are multiple bars and a ‘Club Tropicana’ VIP area, plus of course the all-important posh loos.

To find out more and book tickets go to Let’s Rock the Moor