Sit and sip

Round & About

Wokingham & Winnersh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Community shop

Round & About

Wokingham & Winnersh

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

Round & About

Wokingham & Winnersh

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

Henley Arts Trail

Round & About

Wokingham & Winnersh

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

Reading beer & cider festival

Round & About

Wokingham & Winnersh

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

Craft beer & music festival

Round & About

Wokingham & Winnersh

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 

Street parties

Round & About

Wokingham & Winnersh

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 

Doctor Who at Escape Hunt

Cherry Butler

Wokingham & Winnersh

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

Let’s Sing: The Hexagon

Round & About

Wokingham & Winnersh

Photo credit: Reading Arts

Choirs to battle it out for Mayor of Reading’s Let’s Sing 2019.

A “fantastic night of entertainment” is promised when 14 local choirs sing their hearts out to be the Mayor of Reading’s Let’s Sing champion 2019. 

Six youth and eight community choirs will be battling it out for the trophy at The Hexagon on Wednesday, 6th March 

The youth choirs are: Calcot School Choir, Crosfields Chamber Choir, Jewel Tones, JMA Performing Arts, St Anne’s Primary School Choir and St Martin’s Glee Club.  

The line up for the community choirs is: Arborfield Military Wives Choir, Acquired Taste, The Barberettes, Reading Borough Council Staff Choir, Reading Community Gospel Choir, Readiphonics, Time to Sing Choir and Wargrave Community Choir.  

A winner will be chosen in each category and an overall Let’s Sing champion.  

Proceeds from the show will go to Mayor Debs Edwards chosen charities for the year – Berkshire Women’s Aid, Launchpad, Berkshire West Your Way and the YMCA. 

Cllr Edwards says: “We have got an outstanding selection of choirs taking part in this year’s Let’s Sing final. I think my fellow judges and I will have our work cut out selecting the winners. 

“It is going to be a fantastic night of entertainment and I would love to see The Heaxgon packed with supporters and music lovers enjoying the show and raising money for the Mayor’s Charity Fund.” 

The final starts at 6.30pm and tickets are £9.50, concs £4.50, family ticket £20.

  To book call the box office on 0118 960 6060 or visit www.readingarts.com

Thames Valley Hospitality Awards

Round & About

Wokingham & Winnersh

Picture credit: Dijana Capan, DVision Images
Picture caption: Organisers Marc Allridge and Hilary Scott

 

Nominate your favourites for 2019 Thames Valley Hospitality Awards.

The 2019 Thames Valley Hospitality Awards are open for nominations celebrating excellence and outstanding staff in the sector. From hotels to B&Bs, bars to restaurants, it’s time to share who you think deserves to be honoured. 

In addition to last year’s categories, there are three new ones – Achiever of the Year, Wedding Venue of the Year and Outside Caterer of the Year. This is the second year of the awards and the organisers are delighted to be building on the success of last year. 

Co-organiser Marc Allridge of Cherubs Floral Design said they were very excited about the new categories. He added: “We would love people from managers to brides to nominate in the Wedding Venue of the Year category. And we want to hear form all those caterers who work away behind the scenes and often don’t get recognised for their efforts – winning Outside Caterer of the Year would fix that. 

“We also want to see lots of entries in Achiever of the Year – this is for a youngster who has overcome physical or mental issues to shine in the trade.” 

The gala awards dinner this year is being held at the De Vere Wokefield Estate on Sunday, 28th April and hosted by leading chef Daniel Galmiche. Fellow organiser Hilary Scott encouraged entries for this year, saying: “We had so many entries in our first year it was amazing. I hope that we can get more this year now we are a bit better known. And remember if you missed out last year you can enter again.” 

This year’s categories are: 

Hotel of the Year sponsored by TVHA 

Independent Hotel of Year sponsored by Newsquest Berkshire 

Bar of the Year  sponsor Matthew Clark 

​Restaurant of the Year 

Hotel Manager of the Year sponsored by Cream Design 

​Front of house star sponsored by H&D Food Solutions 

Back of house star sponsored by Cherubs Floral Design 

Warm welcome  

Best breakfast 

Apprentice of the Year 

Three new categories for 2019: 

Achiever of the Year – a youngster who has overcome physical or mental issues to shine 

​Wedding Venue of the Year – in a competitive market who stands out for their venue, service and professionalism 

Outside Caterer of the Year – in a growing market, we want to find the best 

  For full details and to nominate visit www.tvhawards.co.uk and don’t forget to share with us who you are nominating and why!