I enjoyed it last year ... and I enjoyed it even more this year! Meandering through Newbury, checking out who’s done what with their shop windows to make them magical for Christmas is becoming something of a tradition for me. And there is still time if you want to do it too, and if you vote for your favourite you could be in with a chance of winning a fabulous prize: a £50 voucher to open a Newbury Building Society savings account plus an extra £100 courtesy of Newbury BID. But hurry, entries need to be in by 5pm on Wednesday 3 December.
This year my two-year-old grandson, DD, joined me, and what fun we had – it’s a great way to start getting in the Christmas spirit. We collected a form from Newbury Building Society to find out which shops and businesses are participating and set off on our trail around the town – we love a good walk; well I do ... he sits back in the pushchair most of the time and points and claps and shouts out ‘Christmas!’ quite a lot!
So, we wondered, would there be sparkles and spangles or sherry and mince pies? Who would go for a Father Christmas and fairies theme? Who would choose baubles and balloons? And what about red-nosed reindeers? And would anyone keep it traditional and have a nativity scene?
We examined the list while enjoying refreshments at Pret a Manger (with ‘Manger’ spelt like ‘manger’, as in the nativity, it seemed appropriate). Coffee and a Danish for me, water and compulsory chocolate cake for DD ... ssssh, don’t tell his parents!
There are loads of shops taking part this year and making Newbury look absolutely fantastically festive, and many who are not entering the competition have also gone to town which is brilliant: for example, FiFi & Moose in Weavers Walk look suitably silvery and glamorous; and Newbury Building Society has their cuddly mascot Barry Bear dashing through the snow on a sleigh. The competition itself falls into several categories: best independent retailer; best charity/not for profit; best chain or group; best overall; and, of course, the public’s favourite (don’t forget to choose yours, fill in the form and be in with a chance of winning the prize).
So ... which were our favourites? There were so many, it is quite hard to say but to mention a few ... I thought Temptation Gifts’ window fun and it gave me a warm glow as I gazed in; I also enjoyed JoJo Maman Bébé’s huge clear baubles containing cute cuddly toys; Just Add Grapes in Weavers Walk has lots of Christmas goodies looking very festive too – perfect ready-wrapped gifts for foodies; Hotel Chocolat with its stylish ‘gift-wrapped’ window is beautiful and elegant in its simplicity; and I can’t help but love those fairy wings at Marks & Spencer (wonder if I can borrow them?). DD was very taken with the elves and Christmas present sacks in Trutex (we had to go back twice to see it so it must be good!); and those penguins are getting everywhere this year, including at Rainbows in Inches Yard where they are wearing waistcoats and cosy scarves.
I must add that last year’s overall winner and the public’s favourite, florist Willow & Blooms in Bartholomew Street, has excelled once more. Despite a relatively small shop front, they really make the most of it with a gorgeous theme in red. Will owner Helen Vickers ‘do the double’ and take top prize again? It’s going to be up to YOU, so do go and get your entry form from Newbury Building Society soon! It’s fun and it’s free (and a walk around town is great exercise!). But remember – 3 December is the deadline!