Avenue Q

Round & About

Berkshire

An irresistibly charming tale of the loveable characters on a downtown New York street trying to make sense of life’s burning issues comes to the Reading Hexagon this week.

Avenue Q was created by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez, co-creator of Book of Mormon and writer of the songs for Disney’s Frozen. It won the Tony Awards “Triple Crown” for best musical, best score and best book.
Peter Anderson chatted to Lawrence Smith who plays Princeton in Avenue Q.  “I came late to acting,” he says, “my first love was singing. As a teenager, I sang with the National Youth Choir of Scotland. I trained as a classical singer with the Royal Academy of Music and Royal Scottish Conservatoire before moving into musical theatre. If the acoustics are right, backstage there is always a chance I may burst into some Purcell!”
Who has been the inspiration for Lawrence as he has widened his skillset from being a classical singer? “Without a doubt, Audra McDonald. Like me, she trained as a classical singer” in her case at the Julliard. She has won six Tony awards across all four acting categories and is equally at home on Broadway or performing with Houston Grand Opera.

Speaking of widening his skillset, is this the first time Lawrence has worked with puppets? “Absolutely, it’s a challenge combining acting and being true to the character and also manipulating the puppets and keeping everything under control.” He may have not worked with puppets, but he has certainly learned how to handle gadgetry on stage, one of his recent roles was the lead in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd!

What can the Hexagon audience look forward to? “An evening of mischief, bad behaviour and political incorrectness! There are loads of funny songs, and everyone knows it has adult content. But I think the thing that the audience can look forward to is being surprised by the story. With people concentrating more on the songs, etc. I think the story and what it says about human relationships is something that almost tends to creep up on people without them realising.

Princeton has recently graduated with a BA in English – useful for – well we’ll see, he thinks he is a “bright young thing”. Heavily influenced by what he has seen on television he moves to New York, the place where all bright young things hang out. He arrives at Avenue Q, a veritable modern day Cheers, the apartment block where everyone knows your name! There he is greeted by a mixture of loveable and unforgettable characters who help not to not only guide him through New York, but also help him to discover who he is.

Well Avenue Q is the apartment block where Princeton ends up, but who would be the neighbours in Lawrence’s dream apartment block? “Dream is probably an interesting thought. It would be a dream for me, but perhaps not others in the area. I think I would love to live in an apartment block with Billy Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. They would be a lovely group to sing with.”

New York is Princeton’s dream place to live, but does Lawrence have some dream places where he would love  to perform “I have been lucky enough to perform at The Globe and the Old Vic and being Scottish it is great that the run of Avenue Q is taking me up to some Scottish venues. The one place I haven’t managed to perform at so far is the National Theatre, that would be great.”

Avenue Q is part flesh, part felt and all heart.

An evening of mischief, bad behaviour and political incorrectness!

The show runs from today until Saturday, 27th April (advisory age 14+ mature themes). To book your tickets call 01889 9606060 or visit the Hexagon website

Craft beer & music festival

Round & About

Berkshire

Craft beer makers are brewing up a treat at Reading’s South Street Arts Centre

Beer, music and food – exactly what you need to make the perfect festival!

So with all the right ingredients, the Craft Beer & Music Festival at South Street Arts Centre, Reading, is sure to be popular.

Back for its third year after enjoying success previously, it takes place today (19th April) and tomorrow (20th) featuring a fantastic selection of beer from local, national and international breweries.

Among the local breweries whose beers you can enjoy over the two days are Elusive Brewing who produce beer at a small site in Finchampstead; Wild Weather in Silchester who draw inspiration from new world hops; Double-Barrelled, based in Stadium Way, Reading, who brew a variety from dark stouts to tangy sours with ‘cheeky’ pales in between and West Berkshire Brewery in Yattendon who brew with a combination of “passion for beer, a respect for the local community and a disregard for convention”. Finchampstead also lays claim to Siren Craft Brew which aims to introduce exciting, full-flavoured and forward-thinking beers.

Breweries  from further across the country you can sample are Beatnikz Republic, a microbrewery based in Manchester; Magic Rock Brewing from Huddersfield and Little Earth Project in Sudbury, Suffolk.

You’ll also get the chance to meet the brewers as you enjoy fab music from quality DJs while munching on some delicious street food.
And this year, there’s an extra fourth session for you to enjoy too: Friday 12pm-5pm (child friendly) and 6pm-11pm and Saturday 12pm-5pm and 7pm-12am.

Tickets are on sale now for £15 including a branded glass, 50p goes towards Reading Soup charity, a grassroots funding project which supports community projects, charities and ideas in the Reading area.

To buy tickets, go to www.readingarts.com 

Seesaw success

Round & About

Berkshire

After 78,871 bounces, Richard March and Michael Jones beat the non-stop seesaw record having gone up and down for 80 hours, 10 minutes and six seconds.

Richard, 38, from Sandhurst, and Michael, 36 from Ruscombe, celebrated in Twyford having beaten the previous record by 10 minutes.

The pair started at 11am on Saturday, 13th April and were cheered on in their efforts over the next four days by a constant stream of local residents who came to watch at the former Polehampton Boys’ School.

They emulated the achievement of Twyford Youth Club members David Turner and David Sutch who set the previous record 50 years ago, bouncing up and down 57,810 times in 80 hours.

Richard and Michael beat the record on a seesaw constructed by David T complete with seats from his own car.

Funds raised from the effort will go towards a new charity called Twyford Community Hub which plans to turn the former school into a library and central venue for local groups.

Richard, a project manager, said he was very tired but that it had not been as bad as he had imagined. He added: “I am amazed at the interest there has been in our attempt. It has had a global reach. A friend of mine told me he had seen it on television in Majorca.”

Microsoft consultant Michael was also overwhelmed by the interest shown, adding: “The lack of sleep has been the toughest part, but now I can go home and be with the family.”

  Pictured: Michael Jones, left, and Richard March celebrate exhausted after beating the record

Photo: Tony Phillips

Green party: April recipes

Round & About

Berkshire

Watercress & cheese scones

Ahead of Alresford Watercress Festival on Sunday, 19th May, The Watercress Company has teamed up with chef Keri Astill Frew. Watercress, which grows in the flowing spring waters of Hampshire and Dorset, is one of the healthiest plants known to man and has been revered since ancient times. It contains more than 50 vital vitamins and minerals and, gram for gram, even contains more calcium than milk, more folate than banana, more vitamin C than oranges and more vitamin E than broccoli. Watercress has been scientifically proven to help prevent cancer and other diseases.

(Prep: 10 mins – Cooking: 15-20 mins – Makes: 9)

Ingredients:

100g watercress
• 225g self-raising flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp mustard powder (optional)
• A pinch of salt
• 50g butter, cubed
• 75g mature Cheddar cheese, grated
• 200ml buttermilk plus a little for brushing the tops
• A pinch or two of cayenne pepper

Method:

A tangy alternative to the traditional sweet scone, these are delicious with butter or perhaps topped with a cream cheese.

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas mark 7.

Reserve a few small sprigs of watercress (to decorate the tops) and finely chop the rest.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder and mustard into a large bowl. Add the salt and butter; rub into dry ingredients with your fingers. Stir in watercress and two thirds of the cheese, mix well.

3. Make a well in the centre, add buttermilk and mix with a round bladed knife into soft dough.

4. Very lightly knead on a floured surface, then use a floured rolling pin to roll dough to a thickness of 2.5cm. Use a 6cm plain round cutter to press out circles of the dough, rerolling lightly, as necessary. The mix should make nine scones.

5. Place the scones on an oiled large baking sheet. Brush each with a little buttermilk (or milk), top with a sprig of watercress, then scatter the remaining cheese on. Dust with a pinch of cayenne if liked, then bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 mins or until golden on top. Leave to cool for five mins before serving warm.

Chocolate, orange & watercress brownies

…with chocolate ganache topping

Chocolate, orange and watercress may not seem the most obvious combination but by golly, it works! The sharp pepper of the watercress contrasts deliciously with the citrus flavours and bitterness of the chocolate to make a truly mouth-watering treat.

(Prep: 40 mins, Cooking: 40 mins, Makes: 16 squares)

Ingredients:

• 300g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
• 200g unsalted butter
• Zest of one orange
• 350g caster sugar
• Four large eggs
• 100g plain flour, sieved
• 50g cocoa powder, sieved
• 50g watercress, finely chopped

For the topping:

• 250g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
• 250ml double cream
• 1 tbsp Cointreau (optional)

Method:

1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C and line a square tin with greaseproof paper. Place 200g chocolate, all the butter and orange zest in a heatproof bowl and microwave, full power for 30 seconds at a time, stirring and repeating. Be careful the chocolate doesn’t get too hot and burn.

2. Use an electric whisk, or stand mixer with whisk attachment, to beat the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy. Leave the chocolate mix to cool for at least five minutes before stirring in, then mix in the flour and cocoa. Stir in the remaining chopped chocolate and watercress, then pour into the tin. Bake in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes, using a skewer or knife to test it’s cooked. Remove and cool completely.

3. Bring the cream to the boil in a saucepan, being careful it doesn’t boil over. Remove from heat, then stir in the chocolate, stirring until melted and mixed. Finally, stir in the Cointreau if using.

4. Allow the ganache to cool a bit, then pour on the brownies in the tin. Smooth using a palette knife or spatula, then leave for 30 minutes before cutting into squares.

5. The brownies can be kept for three-to-five days in an airtight tin or frozen (up to three months).

Visit www.thewatercresscompany.com for more recipes. For details about Alresford Watercress Festival visit www.watercressfestival.org

Street parties

Round & About

Berkshire

Don’t miss out on your chance to party in Reading

If you want to get your friends and neighbours together this summer for a street party you only have a week left to get your application in to Reading Borough Council. 

Communities are being invited to hold a get together without paying the usual road closure fees but must complete and return a form by Monday, 22nd April.

There are three weekends in June and July when residents are being invited to hold street parties for the Big Lunch on the weekend of Saturday 1st/Sunday 2nd June, The Great Get Together on Saturday 22nd/Sunday 23rd June and  Reading Summer Street Party Weekend on Saturday 6th/Sunday 7th July.

The Great Get Together is a chance for communities up and down the country to get together to celebrate kindness, respect and all we have in common, and was inspired by MP Jo Cox who was killed in June 2016.

The  Reading  Summer Street Party Weekend is an extra opportunity for local communities and neighbours to spend some time together.
Councillor Tony Page,  Reading’s lead  councillor for strategic environment, planning and transport, said: “It is important to recognise the many things we all have in common and to come together to celebrate our communities.

“We often only catch a glimpse of our neighbours as we go about our every-day business so this is an opportunity to stop and get to know the people living in our street.

“As in previous years, the  council  is keen to help enable these street parties by waiving the usual road closure fees and I would encourage residents to get their applications in as soon as possible.”

Anyone who wishes to apply to hold a street party on any of the specified weekends should complete the form available at www.reading.gov.uk/streetparties  and send it to: Street Parties, Communications Department,  Reading  Borough  Council, Civic Offices, Bridge Street,  Reading, RG1 2LU.

Permission will normally be given, without the usual road-closure fees, subject to it not affecting a main through-route or public transport route.

The deadline for applications is 22nd April 2019. 

  Helpful tips, advice and support for organising a successful event can be found on the Street Party website  and The Big Lunch website 

Seesaw record

Round & About

Berkshire

Seesaw record bid promises more ups and downs than Brexit 

If you’re in the Twyford area – and even if you’re not – you won’t want to miss this! 

Beginning on Saturday, 13th April, a record attempt is taking place for the amount of time spent going up and down on a seesaw. The event is set to last until Tuesday, 16th April. 

‘Bouncers’ will be attempting to recreate the efforts, 50 years ago, of Twyford Youth Club members David Turner and David Sutch, who remained on the same seesaw for an impressive 80 hours, bouncing 57,810 times. 

Now David T is masterminding an attempt to equal if not better that. But it’s not for the faint-hearted, he says: “It really does mean at least 80 hours continuously. Participants will sleep, eat and deal with calls of nature without getting off the seesaw.” 

He has built a giant-sized seesaw, complete with seats from his car and designed it for the users’ comfort. 

It’s all in aid of a newly-established charity Twyford Community Hub, a plan which aims to turn the former Polehampton Boys School, where the challenge will be attempted, into a library and central venue for local organisations. 

David has yet to name the two people who will attempt the bouncing and helpers are always welcome, but as David says the key to success for him is to raise the money to refurbish the former school building. 

He says: “For that I need people to sponsor the attempt, make donations, or meet some of the inevitable expenses. 

“This is one event where we can guarantee that will be ups and downs along the way but just imagine the kudos for a business sponsor who can say ‘We are world record breakers’. “ 

Check out the facebook event

Doctor Who at Escape Hunt

Cherry Butler

Berkshire

Worlds Collide, the new Doctor Who escape room in Reading, proves challenging for Cherry Butler.

Worlds Collide, the first escape game officially based on the BBC series, gives players an hour to solve various puzzles and stop the Doctor’s arch-enemies, the Cybermen, breaking though a tear in the fabric of space and time and “upgrading” the human race.

You don’t have to be a true Whovian to play, but you do need your thinking cap on to make sense of the numerous puzzles.

There are some fun pieces referencing the TV show, but they seem to be window dressing rather than knowledge about them being integral to the game. This adds to the entertainment for fans but means you can play even if you haven’t watched Doctor Who since Tom Baker was in it.

Some of the scene setting was a clever surprise, while some was a tad lengthy without really helping us get to grips with the clues.

Not all the puzzles are Doctor Who or sci-fi related. There are so many that we found it a bit tricky to focus and follow the thread; one thing distracted us for ages, but only worked later. With few of the standard letter/number codes, combination locks or hidden keys, they make for a genuine challenge.

Escape Hunt’s rooms are high tech in comparison with more home-grown games. This slickness works well for the sci-fi theme; the sleek-looking setting lives up to the screen version with plenty of light-up gizmos. On the flipside, automation can occasionally cause frustration when items break down or don’t quite connect.

The minimum age to play is 10, accompanied by an adult. Having young Doctor Who fans with sharp brains and curious minds on your team might be handy! As long as they are prepared for a taxing – but not too tense – time.

A game costs £30-£33 per person depending on the number of players (up to six in a team), so Worlds Collide is priced higher than the other rooms at Escape Hunt Reading. Alice in Puzzleland, Wild West, Viking and pirate themed games cost £20-25 per person, with concessions for students and over 60s.

Reading’s games are upstairs in Kings Walk shopping arcade. Escape Hunt also has rooms in Oxford, Bristol and other cities around the UK and worldwide.

You can find out more and book at escapehunt.com

Image courtesy of Escape Hunt

Mums in business

Round & About

Berkshire

Being a mum and running a business at the same time are tough but help is at hand from a business networking group. 

Mums in Business Association (MIBA) started as an online community in 2017 after sisters and mums Leona and Estelle felt there was a lack of support for mums in business. 

MIBA currently has 38,000 members and the same year the group launched local child-friendly networking events including in Berkshire and this week they are proud to hold their first in Newbury. 

The inaugural event tomorrow – Thursday, 4th April – is in the private room at the Slug & Lettuce, Wharf Street, Newbury, from 10.30am-12.30pm. 

Mums in business (MIB) attending can expect not just support and the benefit of networking as well as a warm friendly welcome but inspiring guest speakers who cover all manner of business topics, the opportunity to promote your business and a free goody bag and all without wondering how you’ll be able to attend such a meeting with your child. 

MIBA is keen to point out that their events are not restricted to mums only – all women are welcome, mums, soon-to-be mums, business owners, those thinking about starting a business and even those just in need of a positive female environment. 

The group’s main aim is to create “welcoming inspiring events where women feel comfortable to bring along their children”. 

Oh and there’s plenty of space to park buggies and the doors to be the private room can be shut to keep the little ones inside. 

For more information visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mibaberkshire 

Cycle Safely

Round & About

Berkshire

More and more of us are cycling, but are you wearing a helmet? A Reading-based charity is encouraging everyone to Cycle-Smart.

Cycling is a great way to get fit, not to mention the benefits to the environment and the number of children and adults getting on their bikes has increased.

But are you getting on your bike and wearing a helmet? Often considered uncool, they are quite simply lifesavers and one charity is out to promote the importance and benefits of wearing one as you cycle.

The Cycle-Smart Foundation in Reading is committed to saving lives through the promotion of safer cycling, and helmets in particular. The award-winning charity was founded in 1998 by paediatric nurse Angela Lee who through her work saw the devastation head injury can cause, not just to the child but to the whole family.

Helmets have been proven to be effective in reducing potential brain injury and the charity works with parents, teachers, police, road safety officers and healthcare professionals to get this message across. Children’s skulls are thinner than an adult’s and their heads are bigger in proportion to their body, making them top heavy so if they do fall they are more likely to fall head first.

There are a few ‘rules’ to follow when fitting a child’s helmet:

• It should sit snugly and be comfortable to wear
• The helmet should remain secure when the child shakes or nods their head
• The rim should sit on the forehead, just above the eyebrows
• The helmet should not be tilted backwards leaving the forehead exposed and should not be worn too far forward as to cover the eyes
• Straps should not be twisted and there should be no slack in them
• Ensure the helmet does not affect the child’s ability to hear
• Cycle helmets have a use by date on them – a little known fact

Angie says: “Cycle-Smart educates children to understand the importance of their brain and that it is the body’s computer/games console, meaning it’s responsible for speech, feeling/touch, sight, hearing and more. Surprisingly, head injury can follow a low speed accident and not just high speed or impact as you may presume. The use of a helmet may dramatically reduce the injury sustained. We often get sent photos of damaged helmets from people who have been in a cycling accident and they say the helmet saved their life.”

Cycle-Smart go into schools to teach in peer groups, finding this the most valuable method to change attitudes towards helmet wearing, with pre-teens and teens the hardest to reach group as much of their decision making is swayed by image, peer pressure and the need to blend in.

“Through our programme we help to empower them to make an informed choice about their physical safety. We survey the children and young people who have attended our programme and many have reported back to us how they now wear a helmet and also encourage the rest of their family to as well,” says Angie.

Cycle-Smart has been chosen to benefit from the Co-op Community Fund this year. Go online to www.coop.co.uk/membership and search for Cycle-Smart Foundation.

For more information visit cycle-smartfoundation.org

Get away!

Round & About

Berkshire

Fancy a night away? Refresh yourself (and perhaps your plus one) with an overnight break right here in the UK, writes Liz Nicholls.

What with all the political hokey cokey over the past couple of years (Brexit), we thought we’d turn our sights to staycation options close to home.

After all, amid all the frustrating / upsetting (delete as appropriate) wranglings over backstops and borders, surely now is a good time to celebrate the best quirky, wonderful resources Blighty has to offer?

Well, our eccentric island nation of “Marmite, village fetes and country lanes” (to quote Bill Bryson) certainly has plenty to offer so you’re sure of a great break to suit any budget, without having to get your passport out.

Two Hoots Glamping near Alresford has some beautifully British shepherd’s huts and camping pods where you’re sure of cosy, comforting TLC right in the heart of gorgeous Hampshire countryside. The eco-friendly pods and huts feature king-size beds are perfectly located for visiting Jane Austen territory and you can travel there by steam train, thanks to the idyllic Watercress Line. For full details visit www.twohootscampsite.co.uk or call 01962 772242.

Are you a lady of a certain age who’d relish time away from the male of the species? If so, I hear you! Slipper Camps in Tenterden, Kent, specialise in ladies-only uplifting getaways, full-board, in a boutique country hotel, featuring creative workshops so you can share new experiences and laughter with other like-minded ladies. Visit www.slippercamps.co.uk or contact 07774 294309.

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The Chilterns View in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside is the ideal choice for a romantic rendezvous. Book into one of the south-facing lodges, which each boasts a floor-to-ceiling glass front and raised veranda, elevated to give you unrivalled views across the Chiltern Hills. Two of the five lodges are open-plan and each comes with its own private side balcony and a 24-hour heated hot tub for two. Visit www.thechilternsview.co.uk or call 01491 836 353. 

If you’re looking for a gorgeous group or family staycation you’re sure of lovely accommodation with character, stunning light and scenery to die for with Coronet Cottages. The family business has a holiday home on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast and another in Cotswold Water Park each offering a breath of fresh air. www.coronetcottages.co.uk

Just to prove how much the UK does offer, there is even a super safari option – courtesy of Port Lympne in Kent. As featured on ITV’s This Morning, this 600-acre reserve and luxury hotel is run by the award-winning Aspinall Foundation and is home to more than 760 animals and 90 species. Book a rhino or tiger lodge for a once-in-a-lifetime experience while helping conservation. Visit
www.aspinallfoundation.org/port-lympne

If camping is more your jam, Wigwam Holidays has loads of comfy glamping options which can incorporate your passion too, be it hiking, photography, surfing, climbing, archery, fishing or water sports; visit www.wigwamholidays.com

And Henry’s Campsite, right on the tip of the The Lizard in Cornwall, offers pitches with sea views, sunsets to die for and a location boasting coastal and inland paths (careful if you’ve partaken of a few rosies!). Visit www.henryscampsite.co.uk or call 01326 290596.

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Also in Cornwall, Carbis Bay Holidays offer a five-star collection of cottages in St Ives, from penthouse apartments overlooking the white-sand beaches to designer country homes a pebble’s throw from the coast; call 01736 630015 or visit www.carbisbayholidays.co.uk

Luxury Lodges offer stunning stays in Cornwall, the Lake District & Wales; www.luxurylodges.com.

For a healthy break, you’d be hard-pushed to beat the pampering packages at Grayshott Health Spa near Hindhead, 2018 winner of the World Spa Awards, no less; visit www.grayshottspa.com or call 01428 602020. Or top up your sunshine levels by booking in for a stay at Donnington Valley Hotel in Newbury where the new Aqua Sun package will massage your cares away, bathing you in low-level UV canopy light. The privately owned hotel and golf club is set in stunning parkland. Visit www.donningtonvalley.co.uk or call 01635 551199.

Spectacular splendour is the name of the game at Great Fosters in Egham, voted AA Hotel Of the Year England. It’s a wedding venue to die for & Michelin-starred foodie mecca; visit www.greatfosters.co.uk or call 01784 433822.

Whether you favour the voluptuous Yorkshire Dales or cute Cotswolds, Together Travel have superb luxe glass-fronted eco-lodges. Visit www.togethertravel.co.uk or call 01386 897179. And Cool Stays has incredible treehouse, cabin and “boatel” break ideas for groups and couples at www.coolstays.com

For bucolic country cottages in some of the UK’s most heart-stoppingly beautiful landscapes check out Home Away (there are also cute continental options if you do want to travel beyond the white cliffs…). Visit www.homeaway.co.uk

De Vere Cotswold Water Park, GL7 5FP, is a tranquil spa haven sure to rejuvenate you; www.devere.co.uk. Top up on sunshine with a stay at Donnington Valley Hotel in Newbury where the new Aqua Sun package will massage cares away, bathing you in low-level UV light. The privately owned hotel and golf club is set in stunning parkland. Visit www.donningtonvalley.co.uk or call 01635 551199.

I just had a houseful of Canadian friends to stay… It’s amazing how playing tour guide in your home city (mine’s Oxford) opens your eyes. For the perfect Dreaming Spires stay try The Porterhouse, OX2 0AL, just a hop from the station, for the best steak in Christendom and hip, comfy rooms; 01865 248546 or www.theporterhouse-oxford.com. Another quirky choice is Malmaison’s reincarnation of the old prison in the castle quarter; www.malmaison.com. And if, like me, you’re a fan of that 1950s American vibe, you’ll love Mollie’s Motel & Diner near Faringdon, SN7 8PY. I can’t wait to try this celeb honeypot (brainchild of Soho House founder Nick Jones) for a milkshake and adult sleepover! www.molliesmotel.com

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One thing we do best in the whole world is a great pub! The Fat Fox Inn in pretty Watlington, OX49 5BU, is a foodie’s dream with gorgeous rooms too; www.thefatfoxinn.co.uk or 01491 613 040. The Bear & Ragged Staff in Cumnor, OX2 9QH, is an original Tudor beauty lavished in TLC serving award-winning food; 01865 862329 or www.bearandraggedstaff.com. Also find cosy charm at The Fleece in Witney, OX28 4AZ; 01993 892270 or www.fleecewitney.co.uk and I had one of the best dinner dates/stays ever at The Lion at Wendlebury, OX25 2PW; www.thelionwendlebury.co.uk or 01869 388228. Oh, and just up the road in Bicester, OX26 1UE, The Chesterton Hotel offers truly fabulous cream teas and dinners, with rooms to match; 01869 326 550 or www.thechestertonhotel.com

There’s even a safari option on this sceptred isle! Port Lympne in Kent, featured on ITV’s This Morning, a 600-acre reserve and luxury hotel, run by the Aspinall Foundation, is home to 760 animals; www.aspinallfoundation.org/port-lympne

For bucolic country cottages in heart-stoppingly beautiful British landscapes check out Home Away (there are also sweet continental options if you do want to travel beyond those white cliffs…). Visit www.homeaway.co.uk

Enjoy your stay!

Wherever in the UK you choose to stay, we hope you have a lovely time and please share your experiences with us on social media @randamag