Whiteknights Studio Trail

Round & About

Twyford & Woodly

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

Medieval Jousting at Stonor Park

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Twyford & Woodly

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

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Twyford & Woodly

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

Helen & Douglas House Bubble Rush

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Twyford & Woodly

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

Let’s Rock the Moor

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Twyford & Woodly

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

Henley Arts Trail

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Twyford & Woodly

How many of the 300 exhibitors will you see and enjoy around Henley?

This year’s Henley Arts Trail is the biggest to date with almost 300 artists and makers at 33 venues covering an area of 50 square miles of countryside.

Taking place over the May bank holiday weekend, 4th to 6th, the trail showcases the vibrant visual arts and crafts scene around Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

The trail attracts around 10,000 visitors across the region taking in Bix, Twyford, Shiplake, Sonning, Hurst and Waltham St Lawrence with work displayed in studios, garden sheds, garages and village halls.

Such is the variety of work in the trail that life-size sculptures sit alongside delicate jewellery and abstract paintings nestle next to detailed nature art.

Many of the venues are dotted in villages along the Thames, offering a great opportunity to enjoy some splendid countryside at the same time. However many venues you are visiting it couldn’t be easier with the help of a map you can download from the website or pick up a leaflet from libraries or in village newsletters.

Organiser, Jo Keiller, says: “The standard of work on show is exceptional. Where else can you see the work of an artist who exhibits internationally, alongside emerging talent taking part in their first show? Talent is often hidden in spare rooms and garages, so the trail gives artists the chance to connect with the public and the public to discover new and exciting makers.”

Many venues offer refreshments and some boast demonstrations or workshops for visitors to get fully immersed in the art trail experience.

Find out more and see the map on the Henley Arts Trail site

Green Day’s American Idiot

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Twyford & Woodly

Here’s why you should catch this powerful musical at Reading’s Hexagon between now and Saturday, 4th May, writes Peter Anderson

Three childhood friends in post 9/11 America are each seeking for a meaning. That was the inspiration for Green Day’s Grammy winning album, fifteen years ago “American Idiot”. Ten years ago, came the musical with lyrics Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong and a book by Billy Joe and Mike Mayer. The musical won two Tony awards and another Grammy award for best show album. Now the musical is touring the UK and comes to Reading and Wimbledon as part of the tenth anniversary tour. The show stars singer-songwriter Luke Friend (X-Factor), Tom Milner (The Voice and Waterloo Road) and introducing Sam Lavery (X-Factor and Capital FM) as Whatsername.

Peter Anderson caught up with the lovely Sam and asked how she discovered her love and talent for singing. I had often sung around the home as a child, then we had a school trip out to Holy Island that included a talent competition. A lot of the lads did football tricks, some of the girls did dancing and for some unknown reason I had a go at singing. From that moment on that was the way I wanted to go, when I came back from the holiday, I started singing lessons and entered competitions.

Whereas unlike Tom she did not have the chance to sing for Tom Jones, one of her relatives and her inspiration has. “I only have one inspiration, my grandfather. When he was younger, he was a backing singer for a while for Tom Jones and could have made a career of it. But that career would have been in London and he had a young family in the North-East. He decided to forgo the possible career and go down the mines to look after his family. I am so glad that he can now enjoy my success and see what I am doing, and he has been very supportive to me.”

So, what can audiences look forward to in the explosive rock musical that is “Green Day’s American Idiot”? “Very like a gig combined with an emotional roller-coaster ride, we have a live backing band between the three of us. I think it is the kind of show where you leave it humming the tunes and then slowly the issues that the musical also raises dawn on you.”

The three of you are more known as singers than for acting, how did you work on the characterisations? “All three of us major characters have been given a lot of help about the research to do with the complex issues the songs raise. The other idea that I really found helpful was that we were made to read the lyrics time and time again without the music. This gave us the time to really grasp the meaning of the words and who we were singing them to.”

For your chance to see this powerful musical that has introduced a new generation of theatregoers to Green Day’s music the show comes to Reading this week and Wimbledon later in May. It is at the Hexagon from Tuesday 30th April to Saturday 4th May, and the New Theatre Wimbledon between 14th and 18th May.

  For full information on performances and tickets visit www.readingarts.com or www.atgtickets.com/venues/new-wimbedon-theatre.

Reading beer & cider festival

Round & About

Twyford & Woodly

We’re here for the beer and much, much more at Reading Beer & Cider Festival

It’s summer – well the sun’s out at least or trying its best – and one of the best ways to celebrate is at the ever-popular Reading Beer & Cider Festival.

Located in Christchurch Meadows, its fully accessible and home to one of the largest beer festivals in the country from 2nd to 5th May.

Visitors can enjoy more than 450 real ales as well as a large range of ciders, perries, foreign beers, UK wines and mead, many from local breweries – a full list can be found online and during the festival a live beer list will offer an up-to-the-minute update on what’s available.

In addition to the great range of drinks there are a variety of food vendors – some newcomers and some returning favourites with everything from Cornish pasties, curry and kebabs and a hog roast to German bratwurst and olives and chocolates and truffles for the sweeter toothed.

It’s not all about the beer though – ok, it is mainly all about the beer – but starting on Thursday and throughout the festival there’ll be a range of traditional pub games to enjoy. Long alley skittles, shuttleboard, table skittles and toad in the hole are on offer for £1 a go or enjoy six for £5.

The outdoor games area will be back with great prizes to be won and if you’re feeling lucky have a go at the tombola for the chance to win beer and pub-oriented prizes.

Ticket prices vary depending on day and session required. Sunday is the family day and you can buy a season ticket for access to all festival sessions over the four days.

Posted by Reading Beer and Cider Festival on Saturday, 12 January 2019

For more details, the list of beers and to buy tickets visit the Reading Beer Festival website

Avenue Q

Round & About

Twyford & Woodly

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

Twyford & Woodly

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