Tuesday, 10 December 2013

A very Newbury Christmas

Went to the pantomime at the Corn Exchange last night so now, for me, Christmas can officially begin!

If you haven’t already got tickets for Jack and the Beanstalk, well I can thoroughly recommend you do. This really is fabulous, traditional entertainment for all ages – there were lots of families with littlies (some of whom shouted out the most wonderful, innocent and often hilarious comments) but plenty of grownups without offspring were there too, having just as much fun. There is lots of audience participation (and I recommend you join in because if you don’t it ... you have been warned!) and a few surprises falling from the heavens ... but you’ll have to go yourself to find out what.

The husband and I got parked up well before showtime to get a chance to admire the Christmas lights in Northbrook Street, Market Place and Parkway – all different, all pretty, all stylish. And there is always something Christmassy and special about strolling the shops after dark for a spot of late-night shopping ... and sneaking in the odd mince pie (thank you Newbury Building Society!) and bubbly refreshment (thank you John Lewis!).

Young musicians in a steel band in Northbrook Street provided the entertainment – and how brilliant they were, with a talent that belied their years.

This was, of course, the ideal opportunity for a second visit to Victoria Park and the Christmas Market. My first visit had been in the daytime, but approaching from the bridge alongside Camp Hopson at night the stalls and fairground made a truly magical sight with lights aglow. Although this is the first year Newbury has hosted such a market, there was a nice mix of stalls – gift ideas, Christmas decorations (there is always room for a new one on our tree) and a tempting range of food and drink. Perhaps I shouldn’t have had that mince pie ...

The donkeys are very cute (and something different from other Christmas Markets I’ve been to) and I had to smile at the sign about the reindeers being sent home for being naughty!

As we made our way towards the Corn Exchange and rounded the corner into Market Place, a small group of carol singers were another treat that added to the festive atmosphere. The foyer of the Corn Exchange was busy with excited children and we enjoyed seeing the pantomime-themed mural created by local schoolchildren. I lost the husband briefly in the crush around Beansprout’s Bazaar where I wanted to bag myself a Candice Cabbage Patch wand ... but them someone pointed out: ‘He’s behind you!’ (Saw that one coming, didn’t you?)

On that note I will sign off with my very best wishes for a joyful Christmas. See you in the New Year!

Biddy x

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

'My' Newbury...

I was asked the other day what I like about working in Newbury. I came up with quite a list, so let’s kick off with three – not in any particular order.

Walking by the canal at lunchtime
After a morning at my desk, I need to get some fresh air. Sometimes it is just a quick dash to the shops to get a sandwich or Auto Express, but what I most enjoy is a break from the bustle and to get a proper leg-stretch along the towpath. Whatever the season, there is always something going on – and it gives great ‘thinking time’ too.

Coffee shops for business meetings
It has become a bit of standing joke that my ‘second office’ is one of the many coffee shops in town. I have a particular favourite – perhaps no coincidence that it is the closest to my workplace so very convenient, but it’s by no means just that – the staff are always welcoming, the coffee always good. On top of that, it provides the atmosphere I am looking for when I want a more relaxed style of business meeting. (And the caffeine can be a real boost to get the ideas flowing.)

A34 and M4 links
Newbury is fortunate in being so close to these two major roads and as my job involves me regularly travelling to other towns I appreciate being able to get ‘on the road’ fairly swiftly. Admittedly, there can be quite a bottleneck at certain times of day at the Robin Hood roundabout, but there is nothing wrong with setting out 10 minutes earlier and using the time to make a phone call or two (hands free of course), or making those minutes a pleasure by listening to the radio.

I’ll tell you more about ‘my’ Newbury next time....