Disability day

Karen Neville

Ascot

Event at The Oracle promotes disability awareness

Reading residents are invited to a family event which aims to promote disability awareness, with a wide range of activities on offer.

Reading’s Physical Disability and Sensory Needs Network (PDSN) is hosting the Disability Awareness Day 2019 tomorrow, Thursday 15th August, under the theme of ‘Staying Healthy – Mind & Body.’

The free event at The Oracle Shopping Centre in Reading will run from 11am to 3pm and will offer fun, interactive and informative sessions.

A wide range of activities will be on offer for all age groups and abilities, including blood pressure checks from the Stroke Association, lip reading learner sessions and hearing tests from Action on Hearing Loss, shoulder & neck massages, as well as musical entertainment.

For further information and/or additional support at the event, please contact [email protected] or call 0118 937 2383.

Simone Illger is chair of the PDSN (Physical Disability and Sensory Needs Network) and a disabled Reading resident. She said: “There is so much on offer at our event this year – with some great activities and stalls offering advice and support. I’d really encourage people to stop by and find out more.”

Have your say!

Today is also the last day for you to have your say in a consultation called Active Reading which aims to help develop healthy, active lifestyles. To find out more and have your say

Full of pride

Round & About

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There’s extra reason to take pride in the Royal Borough as The Lions of Windsor & Maidenhead 2019 sculptures go on display for the next three months.

The public art event will feature a giant pride of super-sized lions displayed from 10th August to 27th October to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria and raise funds for local charities.

The colourful individual lions are sponsored by a range of businesses and organisations and have been decorated by leading artists, designers and illustrators. There’s also a mini pride of lion cubs which have been decorated by schools across the area.

The display also has a serious message with the aim of highlighting the plight of lions, which have become endangered with only 15,000 left in the wild.

The pride will go on show on the streets of Windsor, Eton, Ascot, Datchet, Maidenhead and beyond for the duration before being auctioned off for charity.

You’ll be able to ‘go on safari’ and follow the lion trail with maps available from the start of August and take a tour of the borough visiting the noble beasts on the streets.

The lions were created by sculptor Alan Dun who had previously created the Lions of Bath in 2010 and last year’s Owls of Bath.

Having shaped and moulded the original lion, a fibreglass mould was made to create the prototype from which the pride was born.
He also sculpted the lion cub to be decorated by schools, charities and community groups to then display on the trail.

Once the lions are taken off display they will be restored by the artists and then gathered together for one last roar goodbye on 9th and 10th November before the charity auction on 21st November.

All proceeds from the auction will go to local charities – Thames Hospice which provides care for people with life-limiting illnesses in East Berkshire and South Buckinghamshire; Windsor Lions Club which helps a wide range of people and organisations in the community; Look Good Feel Better equips people to face cancer with confidence and wildlife charity Tusk.

Lions represent nobility, royalty, strength and stateliness so are the perfect choice for the Royal Borough and to raise awareness of their decline – over the past 50 years, the number of wild lions in Africa have fallen from 200,000 to less than 15,000. Tusk, which is working to highlight the decrease in numbers, has declared 2019 to be the Year of the Lion.

Find out more

Visit the Lions of Windsor site

Right at Home

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The Right at Home Reading & Wokingham District Team have earned a well-deserved round of applause after scooping two awards recently.

The team won a Top20 Homecare Provided 2019 Award for being one of the top 20 homecare providers out of 1,358 agencies in South East England.

And this award came hot on the heels of the Twyford-based company being given a 5 Star Employer 2019 award. This award came from independent research agency WorkBuzz after an extensive survey of Right at Home employees.

Right at Home managing director Kevin Lancaster is quite rightly delighted at the success. He said: “When I opened the 50th UK Right at Home in Twyford I was determined to build a care company of the highest quality, delivering at a level that I would be proud to offer my own family.

“It’s heart-warming to get such great independent feedback from our employees, clients and their families that our approach to providing care is working so well with our local community and our super team.”

Right at Home is the only Top20 Homecare Award Winner in both the Reading and Wokingham area, and the Reading & Wokingham branch joins nearby Right at Home Maidenhead as one of only three homecare companies in the whole of Berkshire with a 10/10 rating on the homecare.co.uk independent review website.

For more information

Visit the Right at Home site

August’s recipes: Sophie’s choice

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Chef & TV star Sophie Grigson shares two recipes ahead of her food & photography courses starting next month…

Fougasse

(Prep: 130 mins – Prooving: 90 mins – Cooking: 25 mins – Serves: 6)

Ingredients:

• 450g strong white bread flour
(I use a Canadian strong white)
• One sachet easy-blend /
fast-action yeast
(or 14g fresh yeast)
• One teaspoon salt
• Three or four tablespoons
extra virgin olive oil, plus
extra for preparation
• Either 150g lardons or 70g black olives, pitted and sliced
• One or two teaspoons dried thyme, or oregano, or finely chopped fresh rosemary

Method:

Make a soft bread dough. In other words, mix flour, yeast, salt and olive oil in a large bowl. Add enough tepid water to make a soft slightly sticky dough (around 300ml). Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead vigorously for about 10 minutes, working in a little extra flour or water if required. The final dough should be as smooth as satin, and delightfully soft and fairly floppy. If it feels heavy or over-firm, knead in a little more water to relax it.

Roll into a ball, place in an oiled bowl and turn until evenly coated in oil. Cover with cling film, or a plastic bag, and leave in a warm place until doubled in size. Oil a baking sheet generously. Oil the palms of your hands, then turn the dough out on to an oiled worksurface. Knead briefly for a few minutes to smooth out.

Now spread out on the work surface and cover with lardons (no need to precook) or olives, and the herbs. Fold the sides and ends over the filling, then knead again until evenly incorporated. Transfer the dough to the baking tray and spread out to form a mega leaf shape. Using a sharp cutter, make a long cut from tip to stem without cutting right through to the edges. Next make three cuts on either side, like the veins of a leaf. Lift the sides and gently pull away from the centre to open up the cuts (remember the dough will expand when cooking). Spread a little more oil over the fougasse, then cover loosely with cling film and leave to rise for another half an hour or so. Remove the cling film.

Place a baking sheet in the oven, then preheat the oven to 200 C/Gas Mark 6. Place the fougasse tray directly on top of the hot tray in the oven, and then bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Cool for a few minutes on the tray then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Girasole with spinach, ricotta & pancetta

(Prep: 30 mins – Prooving: 90 mins – Cooking: 25 mins – Serves: Pleanty!)

Ingredients:

• 500g puff pastry
• A little plain flour for rolling
• One egg yolk

Filling:

• 250g fresh spinach
• One onion, chopped
• 75g pancetta lardons
• A splash of olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 90g freshly grated Parmesan
• 250g ricotta
• ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• Salt and pepper

 

Method:

Cook the spinach lightly, then leave to cool and drain in a colander set over a bowl. Fry the onion and pancetta in a little oil, over a moderate heat, until onion is very tender. Add the garlic and cook for a minute
or so longer. Let them cool.
Now back to the spinach. Squeeze it hard to get rid of all that water, then squeeze it a bit more. Chop finely. Mix all the filling ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Mix the egg yolk with a tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Preheat oven to 220C/200Fan/Gas 7. Now divide the pastry in two and roll each one out thinly to form a square. Using a large plate to guide you, cut out two circles. Lay one on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Take a cup, turn it upside down in the middle of the pastry. Press down gently so the edges print a neat circle in the middle of the pastry. Lift the cup off. Mound about a third of the filling in the middle of the inner circle. Use the rest to make a ring around the outer part of the pastry.

Brush the edges and the bare ring around the central mound with the egg wash. Carefully lift the second circle of pastry over on top of the first. Use your cup to gently press the pastry down around the mound. Leave it there. Seal the outer pastry layer.

Make 16 evenly spaced cuts from the rim of the cup out to the edge of the pastry. Twist each section through 90 degrees, always twisting in the same direction. Lift off the cup – it’s done its job now. Brush the pastry with the egg wash, then slide into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 190C/170 Fan/ Gas 5. Bake for a further 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Eat warm.

Wisley garden

Karen Neville

Ascot

Make the most of the longer evenings thanks to some highlights this month at RHS Garden Wisley in Woking

Various events “after hours” at RHS Wisley should have you enjoying summer to its fullest. Quad Cinema will screen three films from 11th – 13th July including Mamma Mia, Bohemian Rhapsody and The Greatest Showman.

On Wednesday, 17th July, join Surrey Bat Group for an evening walk, and on 24th July pet owners can bring their dogs for walkies. On 26th visitors can enjoy and evening stroll and some live music in the garden until 9pm. There will also be an open-air theatre performance of The Wind in the Willows on Sunday, 28th, at 5.30pm.

Fuchsias are the focus of the Glasshouse display at RHS Garden Wisley from 6th July to 18th August, with a colourful display from Wisley’s fuchsia collection. The Glasshouse Gallery hosts the Carnivorous Plant Society for its show between 20th and 21st July with talks, advice, sales and a special presentation each day at 11an and 3pm entitled The Natural History of Carnivorous Plants.

Jazz in the Garden will take place each Saturday afternoon, 1-4pm at RHS Garden Wisley, when Chi Jazz entertain Wisley visitors from the Butterfly Pavillion. RHS Garden Wisley invites you to help celebrate 50 years of The Very Hungry Caterpillar with some fun family adventures in the Garden. They will also explore lifecycles and help children understand where their food comes from and how it grows.

Info

RHS Wisley, GU23 6QB; call 01483224234, email [email protected] or visit their website

Get into gear

Karen Neville

Ascot

Join Wokingham Bikeathon on 30th June and take on 15 or 35 mile route

This year’s Wokingham Bikeathon on Sunday, 30th June, is literally bigger than ever – in addition to the 15-mile route, there’s a 35-mile challenge for riders to take on as well.

The new relatively flat route should be an easy ride and at an average speed of 12 miles per hour, should take about three hours to cycle.

This longer distance builds on the success of the bikeathon which started in 2008 with just 143 riders – since that time thousands have taken part with the invaluable help of volunteers, local businesses, charities and organisations.

Run by a committee, headed by Wokingham ‘champion’ Stan Hetherington the original aim was to get people out on their bikes and enjoy the local area, over the years it has developed into a vehicle for fundraising with many charities benefitting.

Money from entries each year goes back into the event for the following year with any surplus after covering bills going to good causes.

Cyclists of all ages and abilities are welcome to saddle up, with many cycling as families. For these the 15-mile route is perfect, it provides the quietest route for families, is easy and should take around 60-90 minutes to complete. There is a drinks stop at 9.3miles with snacks available too.

Over the years it has developed into a vehicle for fundraising with many charities benefitting

Course split points will be used to highlight where the route divides between the 15 and 35 mile courses. For those taking on the longer distance, there’s a drinks stop at 19 miles.

Registration is open now for those wishing to do so online but you can just turn up at Cantley Park on the day.

Get involved!

For all the important information you need to take part and to register in advance

July’s recipes: Thrills & grills

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We’ve teamed up with the team behind ZIGZAG to bring you the perfect recipes to rustle up on the grill this summer!

Lamb

(Prep: 15 mins – Cooking: 12-15 mins – Serves: 4)

Ingredients:

for the lamb:
• French trim lamb chops – allow three per person
• Garlic
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Fresh thyme leaves
• Rosemary
• Balsamic glaze

Method:

• Marinade lamb in oil garlic and thyme for 2 hours prior to cooking
• Heat up pan in the oven,
• Roast lamb chops for 3-4 minutes on both sides,
• Serve with fresh rosemary leaves.
• Drizzle with balsamic reduction for extra sweetness

Roast asparagus

(Prep: 15 mins – Cooking: 12-15 mins – Serves: 4)

Ingredients:

And for roast asparagus:
• Bunch of fresh British Asparagus
• Olive oil
• Lemon wedge
• Rock salt
• Black pepper
• Parmigianino Reggiano

Method:

• Drizzle olive oil over the asparagus
• Place into the oven on a baking tray or metal handled pan.
• Remove from oven when soft and golden brown,
• Serve hot with slice of lemon, rock salt, pepper and a few  shavings of parmesan.

Aubergine

(Prep: 15 mins – Cooking: 12-15 mins – Serves: 4)

Ingredients:

for the aubergine:
• Two large aubergines, cut into disks around 1cm
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Tahini
• One pomegranate, cut in half and with seeds removed
• Fresh oregano

Method:

• Lay out cut aubergines face down in a pan or baking tray
• Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper• Roast until golden brown
• To serve overlap aubergine, drizzle with tahini and sprinkle with fresh pomegranate seeds.
• Garnish with oregano

Fish

(Prep: 15 mins – Cooking: 12-15 mins – Serves: 4)

Ingredients:

And for roast fish:
• Whole seabass – around 35cm long scaled and gutted
• Potatoes, sliced 1cm think and par-boiled to soften
• Lemon
• Sunblush tomatoes,
• Fresh dill & parsley
• 2oz of fish stock

Method:

• Lay out cut aubergines face down in a pan or baking tray
• Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
• Roast until golden brown
• To serve overlap aubergine, drizzle with tahini and sprinkle with fresh pomegranate seeds.
• Garnish with oregano

June’s recipe: Fiery & fresh

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Star chef Kay Plunkett-Hogge shares two recipes from her new book Baan: Recipes & Stories From My Thai Home

Gaeng keow wan gai

A classic green chicken curry

(Prep: 15 mins – Cooking: 12-15 mins – Serves: 4)

Ingredients:

for the paste
• ½tsp coriander seeds
• ½tsp cumin seeds
• 1 tsp white peppercorns
• A good pinch of salt
• 1 tbsp finely chopped & 1 tbsp finely chopped lemongrass
• Two Thai shallots or one regular, peeled and finely chopped
• 12 green Thai bird’s eye chillies, de-stemmed and chopped
• Two long green chillies,
destemmed and finely chopped
• 4 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) root, with some stem attached
• One garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
• 2cm / ¾-inch piece of fresh turmeric, finely chopped
• zest of one kaffir lime
• 1 tsp kapi (shrimp paste)

And for the curry
• 2 tbsp vegetable oil
• One 400ml / 14fl oz can of coconut milk
• 350g / 12oz chicken thighs, cut into 2cm / ¾inch dice
• 1–2 tbsp nam pla (fish sauce)
• a pinch of caster (superfine) sugar (optional)
• 65g/2¼ oz pea aubergines (eggplants)
• Two Thai round aubergines (eggplants), cut into quarters
• 100 g/3½ oz bamboo shoots, chopped
• Two long red chillies, diagonally sliced into three pieces
• Large handful Thai sweet basil
• One long orange chilli (optional)

Method:

Pound all the paste ingredients in a pestle and mortar (hardest first, as listed, working down to the softest), until you have a uniform, close-textured paste. If it’s not completely smooth, don’t worry. If you prefer to use a food processor or a blender, again work from hardest to softest, and add about 1 tablespoon water or more to bring the paste together. Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan and fry the paste until it smells fragrant (about a minute). Add half the coconut milk, bring to the boil slowly, stirring to dissolve the paste. Let the coconut milk simmer a little until you see oil appear on the surface. Then add 200 ml/7 fl oz/a cup of water and bring to the boil.

Add the chicken and bring back to the boil, then add the rest of the coconut milk. Bring back to the boil and simmer for about six minutes. Add the nam pla and the sugar, if using. Taste and adjust the seasoning. If it seems a little thick, add a little more water – you want a soupiness, not a thick gravy. Add the aubergines, the bamboo shoots and one of the long red chillies. Simmer for another three minutes or so. Taste – you want this to taste vibrant, hot, salty and herbaceous. Add the basil, the remaining red chilli and the whole orange chilli if you have one, and serve with some jasmine rice and nam pla prik (fish sauce with chillies).

Khao pad goong

Fried rice with prawns

Method:

Heat the wok or frying pan (skillet) until it’s very hot. Add the oil, then the garlic and stir-fry until golden. Add the prawns and the chillies, and carry on stirring, adding the nam pla, soy sauce and sugar, until the prawns are cooked. Add the cooked rice and stir through well, breaking up any clumps. Add the onion and the spring onion and incorporate well.

Season with white pepper, then turn on to plates and serve sprinkled with coriander and with the cucumber slices and lime wedges on the side.

Fried rice is one of the great comfort dishes – it’s filling, soothing and satisfying. I’ve used prawns in this version, but you can use slivered beef, pork, chicken, tofu, whatever. Feel free to pull back the chilli, too, if you like. You can always add extra heat later with some nam pla prik (fish sauce with chillies).

Three words of cooking caution: firstly, when you add the rice, you may be tempted to add more oil… Don’t do it! It will make the dish claggy. Keep breaking up the rice as you stir it through the wok, and work through it. Secondly, if you want to make this for more than two, by all means do. But don’t double up all the ingredients and throw it all into one wok. Make the dish once, wipe out your wok, and go again with the second batch. Thirdly, make sure the cooked rice is at room temperature when you make this. If it’s too warm and steamy, it will clump and stick. If it’s too cold, it will turn out as hard as a rock.

Whiteknights Studio Trail

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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

Community shop

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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