Beer-fuelled Bard

Round & About

Caversham & Sonning

Peter Anderson catches up with Stacey & Saul of Sh*tfaced Shakespeare which lands at Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre on Tuesday, 12th November

A smash-hit, internationally acclaimed, award-winning, multi sell-out fringe phenomenon comes to Swindon this month presenting Shakespeare in a way none of us remember it from our schooldays. We all know about pre-show drinks, but what if it is a random member of the cast who spends the four hours before a show having the pre-show drinks? Welcome to Sh*t-faced Shakespeare and their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With a gin in one hand, a cup of wine in the other and a flagon of ale in the other… What could possibly go wrong?

I catch up with Stacey & Saul from the group to find out this combination of beer and the Bard, came about. “We had one of those sessions where we all put our heads together and came up with ideas on how we can make the improv different. This was the suggestion that someone came up with. I don’t remember whether we said yes or no to it at the time, but it was a little while later that in a radio interview someone mentioned that this was something, we had thought of doing. From then on, we had to it, and it seems to have been well received as we are still filling theatres after some years.”

Is there a chance the plot could change? “Oh yes, when you are one of the sober cast you have to be ready for just about anything, from Juliet deciding she is not going to commit suicide to characters appearing in the wrong play which adds to the spice and fun – for both us and the audience especially. There are rules that we use in improvisation and these can usually keep the play flowing. The important thing is that we are providing something enjoyable for the audience, there is no question of deliberately making one of the cast look stupid.”

You are quite a close-knit group of actors to be able to do improv, especially with the additional jeopardy of alcohol, but if you could have a famous actor join you for a show, who would you love? “Now, there’s a thought! I think the one actress who always seems good fun in the things she does is Helena Bonham-Carter, I am sure she would be up for it and extremely good fun whether she was drunk or sober.”

The Evening Standard said of this show “There is no doubt this is a hoot to watch”. To get your chance to see what could be subtitled for one actor A Midsummer Morning’s Hangover the show is on Tuesday 12th November at the Wyvern Theatre

Want to go?

Get your tickets here

Sue Ryder Awards

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Caversham & Sonning

Nominate inspirational women for 2020 Sue Ryder Southern Women of Achievement Awards

Do you know a woman who deserves recognition for their achievements in the community, business, public service or sport?

If so nominate them for the Sue Ryder Southern Women of Achievement Awards – nominations open on Thursday, 7th November.

The charity for palliative, neurological and bereavement support is calling on people across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire to put forward the names of those who deserve to be celebrated.

The awards, which have been running since 2006, remain one of Sue Ryder’s biggest fundraisers of the year. They are a fantastic way to celebrate the incredible achievements of local women, while also reflecting on the amazing achievements of Lady Ryder – legendary philanthropist and the charity’s founder.

 

There are seven categories:

Community – sponsored by Invesco

Business – sponsored by Invesco

Sport – sponsored by Russell Partnership Collection

Innovation

Mentor/coach of the year

Public Service

Robyn Jones Courage Award – sponsored by CH&Co

 

Nominations will be open for a month, closing on 7th December. Successful nominees for each award category will then be contacted by a member of the Sue Ryder Fundraising team by 20th December.

Winners will be decided by a judging panel, including representatives from each sponsor, and announced at the Southern Women of Achievement awards ceremony on the 13th March 2020 at Phyllis Court in Henley. The awards will be accompanied by a black-tie drinks’ reception and three course dinner. Attendees on the night will also be treated to live musical entertainment, a raffle and silent auction.

Fern Hayes,  Head of Fundraising at Sue Ryder, said: “Celebrating the incredible achievements of so many amazing women across the region is a cause very close to our hearts and something we look forward to year on year. However, we need help to find our wonderful nominees.

“We were overwhelmed by support for the 2019 awards – especially from our brilliant volunteers and sponsors – and hope to drive just as much of a buzz around the 2020 event too.

“The awards are always such a fun and heart-warming event. We encourage everyone across the three counties of Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire to think about all the fantastic women they have in their networks and consider putting them forward for nomination. We want to make the 2020 awards our biggest and most successful yet.”

To make a nomination

The best bar none!

Round & About

Caversham & Sonning

If you live in Hampstead Norreys you have an extra special reason to be proud of the fact – the community shop has beaten 17,000 entries to be named the best in the country.

In May we told you how the community-run store had been named as the best in the south east by the Countryside Alliance which stages the “rural Oscars”.

And now the shop and café which opened in 2011, quickly going on to become the hub of the village, has been given the ultimate honour, beating off nine regional finalists.

Avril, Lesley and Barbara went to the awards ceremony at the House of Lords to represent the shop and await their fate where they were joined by MP for Newbury Richard Benyon.

Declaring Hampstead Norreys Community Shop the winner in the Village Shop/Post Office categor , the judges said: “This vibrant and well-stocked village shop is the hub and lifeline for people in this rural area, serving the community on so many levels.

“The shop is always evolving and has recently embarked on an initiative to reduce plastic waste. From fairs to an art gallery there is always something going on in this lively shop.

“Partly run by volunteers and non-profit making, it is a perfect example of ‘where there is a will there is a way’.”

The team behind the shop have been overwhelmed by the congratulations they have received, saying: “To all who have helped make our community shop what it is, including our customers, thank you. We hope you feel proud too!”

Sir Ranulph Fiennes at Cranford House

Round & About

Caversham & Sonning

Junior pupils at a South Oxfordshire school have been exploring polar ice caps, arid deserts and yawning caves thanks to an exciting project focused on exploration and the environment.

And now they can look forward to sharing their hard work with none other than the world’s greatest living explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

Cranford House, a small independent school in South Oxfordshire, has been running the inspiring project in parallel with several local primary schools whose Years 5 and 6 pupils will also be there on the day to meet the great man himself. As well as enjoying the chance to discuss their work on exploration and climate change with Sir Ranulph, they will also hear him speak of his experiences of life in some of the world’s most extreme places.

Among his many achievements, Sir Ranulph Fiennes successfully climbed Mount Everest, becoming the first person ever to have climbed Everest and crossed both polar ice-caps. He is also the only man alive to have travelled around the planet’s Circumpolar surface.

His latest challenge will see him attempting to become the first person to have crossed both polar ice caps and climbed the highest mountain on every continent. His expedition will raise funds for the Marie Curie charity and Cranford House is proud to be backing his expedition fundraising.

Cranford House’s pupils’ focus on exploration will culminate in a spectacular community event on the morning of Saturday 9th November with balloon rides, climbing walls, viking longships and desert dunes all on offer, and all free of charge.

The school has a history of attracting luminaries from the world of science and literature and Sir Ranulph joins the likes of recent visitors such as astronaut Helen Sharman OBE, and author Marcus Sedgwick in meeting and inspiring pupils.

Find out more

Half term at National Trust

Round & About

Caversham & Sonning

Autumn is the perfect time to get outside with the family and create unforgettable moments this October half-term. With all kinds of family-friendly events, woodland adventure days and spooktacular Halloween trails on offer, the kids won’t get bored at the many National Trust properties in the area.

Here are just a few ideas for you –

Basildon Park, near Reading, RG8 9NR  
01491 672382
Whether it’s brilliant autumn sunshine, or slightly damp autumn drizzle, there are plenty of opportunities for children to get out of the house this October half-term and enjoy Basildon Park. There’s the Wild Play Trail, open all year round, the half-term trail, and a natural play area for little ones. Come along and get stuck into a day out at Basildon Park from Saturday 26th October until Sunday 3rd November.
Half-term trail: Minibeasts 
Pick up a trail leaflet from visitor reception and search the parkland for creepy crawlies to win a prize. £2

The Vyne, near Basingstoke, RG24 9HL (just over the border in Hampshire) 
01256 883858
Young witches, ghosts and all manner of things can wander The Vyne’s gardens enjoying Halloween trails for all ages. Two mysterious trails will keep under 7s and over 8s entertained. Families can embark on their challenge by paying normal admission and £2 for each Halloween trail sheet at Visitor Reception from Saturday 26th October to Sunday 3rd November, 10am-5pm
Halloween spotter trail (up to age 7)
In the gardens, collect your £2 activity sheet from the Halloween tent and look out for 10 photos of animals mistakenly linked with witchcraft. Return your completed sheet to the tent for a chocolate prize. £2
Halloween rune trail (ages 8+)
On this mystical adventure through The Vyne’s gardens, decipher 16th-century runes to reveal a secret word. Collect your £2 activity sheet from the Halloween tent and look out for ten signs hidden around the gardens. Each sign will translate a symbol into a normal letter. Write each letter in the corresponding box on your activity sheet to work out the mystery word. At the end, return to the Halloween tent to collect your chocolate prize. £2

The Buscot and Coleshill Estates, near Faringdon, SN6 7PT 
01793 762209
As we head into Autumn, we’re making the most of the last summer sunshine and welcoming in the season of golden hues. With half-term fun at Badbury woods on our Autumn Scavenger hunt for children, flower arranging with pumpkins workshop and our November term of Coleshill Critters.
Autumn scavenger hunt at Badbury Woods
Monday 28th October – Friday 1st November, 11am-2pm
Become a nature detective and see what you can find in the woods. £3

Chastleton House and Gardens, near Moreton-in-Marsh, GL56 0SU 
01608 674981
Join the Halloween spooky ghosts and ghouls themed trail at Chastleton in the Cotswolds, abundant in local tales and legends of spooky happenings and ghoulish goings on. The house at Chastleton, however, is not known for its ghost stories and there are no tales of spooky sightings or strange feelings passed down from generation to generation.
But this Halloween half term, explore some of the local legends and stories from around the area in the ghosts, witches and ghouls trail running from Saturday 26th October to Sunday 3rd November, 1pm – 4pm. £2.50

Greys Court, near Henley, RG9 4PG
01491 628529
Whether it’s brilliant autumn sunshine, or slightly damp autumn drizzle, there are plenty of opportunities for children to get out of the house this October half-term and enjoy Greys Court. The half term trail will run from Saturday 26th October to Sunday 3rd November, where you can pick up a trail for £2 and find clues to win a prize.
October half-term: Loads of leaves 
Pick up a trail leaflet and wander the estate in search of clues celebrating the autumn colour. £2
Den-building 
Create a shelter for yourself this October half-term in the den-building area down near the play area. You’ll find plenty of sticks, logs and twigs to create your ideal hideout.

Find out more

For more details about these and other events at National Trust properties

LoLo app

Round & About

Caversham & Sonning

How about being rewarded when you shop and eat? That’s the simple idea behind a new app – LoLo which has just launched in Reading.

The loyalty app encourages customers and businesses to be true to their high street and buy and eat at local retailers and restaurants.

And it couldn’t be simpler to use, all you need to do is download the app and you’ll get free access to £20 of ‘loyalty tokens’ to receive discounts at multiple participating businesses.

The mobile app has three functions: LoLo Local – for local high street retailers businesses, tradespeople and more all giving discounts by accepting local loyalty tokens; LoLo Eats – whether eating in or enjoying a takeaway at home there’s a discount to tuck into too; LoLo Mall – major retailers will offer exclusive discounts to members.

The app means shoppers enjoy discounts and businesses get to connect with customers to help them build creating vibrant communities.

LoLo co-founder and CEO, Ian Jones said: “The beauty of LoLo is the more local businesses and customers that join the free loyalty platform, the more they will all benefit.  Each time a customer makes a purchase with a local business using their loyalty tokens, they receive more tokens back that they can then spend again at the same business or redeem at another participating shop, mechanic, butcher or restaurant. LoLo is the gift that just keeps giving.

“Every time people spend money they are casting a vote on the future community they want. If we want vibrant local communities then we must support the local businesses who employ local people and pay local business taxes.

“When we spend money with international online giants we send the money away from our community and add to the local decline.

Supporting local businesses helps to keep the money circulating in our local community.”

You’re a winner and the business is a winner too – so what are you waiting for! 

Download the app

Reading gaol hug

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Caversham & Sonning

A mass hug is taking place at Reading gaol tomorrow (Sunday 13th) to show some love in a bid to save the historic site and it couldn’t be more timely.

It was revealed on Wednesday that the Ministry of Justice has put the building up for sale with interest expected from housing developers but many in the town want it used as an arts venue.

Campaigners have been working to save the gaol and a petition from Reading East MP Matt Rodda reached more than 6,000 signatures.

The hug is set to take place at 2pm with the idea being participants will hold hands and surround the prison with a “mass hug”.

There is interest from many groups in Reading including the Civic Society which wants to see the prison, where Oscar Wilde was locked up, used as a cultural hub for the town.

Theatre and Arts Reading wants to see the gaol feature performance space, an art gallery, a digital hub, maker space and a museum giving people the opportunity to meet for arts, crafts and cultural activities.

Artist Sally Castle has produced a new logo for the campaign which has been reproduced on T-shirts with many people expected to wear them today.

Register

If you want to join the hug you need to register, it’s free but organisers need an idea of the numbers

Chilterns Walking Festival

Round & About

Caversham & Sonning

Photo – Walkers at the Chilterns Walking Festival, credit: Chilterns Conservation Board

If you want to get out and enjoy the fresh air over the next fortnight how about trying the Chilterns Walking Festival?

Now in its third year the festival, 5th to 20th October, has more walks, more activities, more crafts and more dates, and is set to be bigger and better than ever.

The walks provide opportunities to meet artists, craftspeople, farmers, archaeologists, historians, countryside rangers, food producers and storytellers of the Chilterns, and each walk is guided by an experienced walk leader who will bring their story to life.

Whether you’re interested in sampling local drinks and produce, finding out about the history of the Chilterns heritage, or trying out a new activity or experience with your family, there is something for everyone at the Chilterns Walking Festival.

How about…

Spending quality time with the family?

From Iron Age time travelling and stunning autumnal walks with breath-taking views, to ghostly tales from the riverbank, there are so many to choose from

Exploring and discovering?

The Chilterns is brimming with history and heritage and with so many places to explore it is no surprise there are many walks offering the chance to discover more about our rich heritage and ancient landscapes. Why not take a ride on a heritage steam railway from Princes Risborough to Chinnor, explore and discover Grims Ditch or hear the story of the 1830 machine breakers’ riot

Learning something new?

Whether it’s mastering tree identification, practicing map and compass navigation, or having a go at Nordic walking or a watercolour workshop, there are lots of opportunities to get involved and try something new

Time for a rest?

What better way to end a scenic walk than by sampling some of the fabulous food and drinks by local producers. Why not try a gentle guided walk around Wilstone Reservoir Nature Reserve followed by a distillery tour and gin sampling? Or sample the famous “Bedfordshire clangers” on a ranger-led walk around the beautiful Barton Hills National Nature Reserve and Farm

Joining a storytelling walk?

For those looking to escape the everyday and immerse themselves into something a bit different, why not try one of our storytelling walks such as Ghostly tales from the Riverbank: complete with hooded monks, phantoms & headless horsemen

Improving your health and well-being?

Focused on sharing techniques and tips to increase health and improve general well-being, there are a number of walks from yoga and mindfulness to a visit to Amaravati Buddhist monastery

More details

Details of the more than 80 guided walks, events and activities available in the autumn programme can be found here

Most are free of charge though some require a small fee which is advertised. To assist walk leaders with expected numbers, most events must be pre-booked

Animals exhibition

Round & About

Caversham & Sonning

An exciting new exhibition has launched at Reading Museum offering an extraordinary glimpse of art work inspired by the animal kingdom.

ANIMAL: World Art Journeys delivers a visual treat inspired by the animal world, from lobsters and lions, to donkeys with dragons, and fabulous birds & beasties!

The free exhibition runs until 18th April 2020 in the John Madejski Art Gallery.

Drawn from across the collections of Reading Museum, the Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL) and Reading people, this is a show with something for everyone – from families to art lovers alike.

Visitors will be able to journey through time and around the world, where great art meets great craft. See how artists have transformed the animal world into stunning stylised forms such as Peruvian weavings and Javanese batiks. Enjoy the work of artists from as far afield as ancient Egypt or 19th century Asia to contemporary Britain.

Star objects include a breath-taking 19th Century Chinese court robe and the acclaimed 19th Century artist Charles Burton Barbar’s stunning Gelert – which illustrates the legendary story of the faithful dog who protected the Welsh King Llywelyn’s infant son from a wolf.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an exciting activity and events programme including an ‘animal’ themed half term for children at Reading Museum, as well as talks and events at The MERL. There may even be animals who escape into the town…

More info

Find out more at Reading Museum or

Cllr Karen Rowland, Reading’s lead member for culture, heritage and recreation, said: “The exhibition offers a fantastic opportunity to enjoy art from both Reading Museum and The MERL’s collections.

“There will also be lots of animal themed fun activities available for children over the half term to look forward to, as well as lots of interactive activities in the exhibition itself.

“We are delighted to be drawing on the strength of combined collections and shared expertise to showcase a very special exhibition in the town centre.”

Kate Arnold-Forster, director of the Museum of English Rural Life said: “This is the second exhibition supported by Museums Partnership Reading  where Arts Council England is helping create exciting new collaborative programming for our visitors.”

Autumn walks

Round & About

Caversham & Sonning

Photo: National Trust – John Miller

Autumn casts a new light on familiar landscapes. When trees blaze with orange, red and gold, shady woodland is transformed into a dappled golden path. Nature’s last hurrah before the long sleep of winter, it feels rude not to enjoy the show.

I’m lucky enough to work for an organisation that loves and looks after woodlands. The National Trust cares for more than ten million trees across the country and last year we funded 38 different tree and woodland projects across the South East.

Everyone is welcome in the woods we look after. We want them to be loved, explored and enjoyed by as many people as possible. There are also things we can all do to help look after woodlands, such as taking our litter home, picking up after our dogs, not allowing them to chase wildlife or disturb nesting birds and keeping to the paths.

A mature oak tree has about 700,000 leaves, providing food for the tree and enough oxygen for 10 people for a year. As leaves start to die, the tree takes back reusable proteins and green chlorophyll, revealing the yellow and red pigments produced by sugars remaining in the leaf. The best and most long-lasting colours develop with warm, bright days and cold nights, slowing the transport of sugar from the leaf. Try to catch a falling leaf – it’s trickier than you think! A good way to identify wildlife is to look for nibbled nuts; an excellent high-protein food for fattening up before winter.

Here are some favourites in your local areas…

Berks & Bucks

Hughenden, near High Wycombe, is a National Trust beech woodland with a German Forest of yew trees planted by Victorian Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Normal admission and there’s a café and facilities at Hughenden Manor.

Wendover Woods – Forestry England woods with cycling routes, fitness trail and new café. Free to visit (charge for parking).

Bradenham Woods, near High Wycombe, is a typical Chiltern woodland with valley view, cared for by National Trust. No charge. Café in Red Lion pub in the village.

Burnham Beeches, near Farnham Common, is a National Nature Reserve with walking and cycling trails, a visitor centre and café. Free to visit (charge for parking).

Cliveden, near Maidenhead – a National Trust beech woods with glorious green avenue, far-reaching views and routes down to the river. Normal entry. Facilities and café at Cliveden.

Basildon Park near Goring – National Trust woods with different walks and children’s play trail. Normal entry. Facilities and café at Basildon Park.

Swinley Forest, near Bracknell – Look-out Discovery Centre, walking cycling and Go Ape. An Iron Age hillfort surrounded by a mile-long ditch.

Sulham Woods, near Tilehurst – Mix of deciduous and coniferous woodland with lots of footpaths and far-reaching views of the Thames Valley. No charge, no facilities, walks online.

Bowdown woods near Thatcham – Woodland Trust dense ancient woodland. Waymarked wildlife walks. No charge, no facilities.

Greys Court near Henley – Chiltern beech woods on the estate. Short and long walks online. Normal admission. Café and facilities.

More information

Visit the National Trust website for more information about any of these walks and those further afield