Thursday, 10 December 2015

Christmas is coming ...

Hurry along to Newbury on the weekend of 12 and 13 December to meet Father Christmas (by Christmas magic he will be in more than one location!) and join in the beautiful Lantern Procession on Sunday.

On Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 December you can meet Father Christmas on his special Santa Boat Trip. The iceboat Jubilee departs from The Wharf in Newbury at 12noon and 2pm on both days and sails along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Greenham Land. During the trip there will be a Christmas story, festive songs and a present for the children (plus a mince pie and mulled wine or a hot drink for the grown ups). Tickets are £8 and available from Newbury Visitor Information Centre. Other dates are also available; call 01635 30267 or email

If you prefer to see Father Christmas on dry land, he will be at the Kennet Centre on both Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 December too! His sleigh is being prepared for Christmas Eve so on this occasion he will be arriving by none other than a marvellous Batmobile at 10am on the Saturday with some special super hero friends before parading around the Kennet Centre and settling in to meet lots and lots of children. Do pop in and see him over the weekend!

As darkness falls on Sunday 13 December, Newbury will be aglow with the annual Festival of Light Lantern Procession, a fantastic family event organise by the Corn Exchange. Take along your own lantern or just go along and join the procession or simply enjoy the spectacle as it passes by. Meeting time is 4pm and the procession starts at 4.30pm in Northbrook Street, wending its way to the Market Place where the huge Christmas tree stands in all its glory.

And if you still haven’t met Father Christmas, there will be a chance to see him in his grotto opposite Debenhams in Parkway from 17 to 23 December (Monday to Saturday 10am–5pm and Sundays 11am–4pm).

And make sure you’re in Newbury on Thursday 17 December as both during the day and evening the town will be awash with entertainment, late-night shopping opportunities and choirs.

Activities start at midday with children’s rides throughout the town, street entertainers and festive market stalls … and even three wise men on camels!

Road closure is extended to 9pm for a safe, traffic-free environment, and there is free parking 5–9pm at Parkway, Kennet Centre and Northbrook multi-storey car parks.

As it starts to get dark, local choirs will be out and about singing in different parts of town, before everyone gathers in the Market Place for the grand finale: the fantastic Choir of 1,000 Voices – a truly special annual Christmas event in Newbury. You don’t need to be in a choir to join them, just turn up and you will be given a free song sheet so that you can join in the singalong (and hold on to that song sheet for a chance to win a £100 John Lewis voucher).

It’s always a very Merry Newbury Christmas!

Friday, 4 December 2015

Biddy: Like a Kid in a Toy Shop at Camp Hopson

I love a good toy shop and was delighted when Camp Hopson opened a toy department earlier this year. It was my first port of call when my grandson, DD, turned 3 a few weeks ago and now with Christmas fast approaching I made another pilgrimage.

Situated on the first floor of Newbury’s famous department store, what I really like about Camp Hopson toy department is that it is not too big. I find those ‘toy supermarkets’ overwhelming – just too much stuff and too much choice in my opinion – so having it all in a contained area at Camps suits me very well.

Another thing I especially like is that there is a fantastic range at very sensible prices. Yes, you can get a rocking toy lion for several hundred pounds if you feel the need, but there are lots of toys and games for well under £10 too.

And yet another thing I like (I know, I do go on!) is that many of the items are ones that will give children something to do – so they are often educational but in a fun way. There is a good range of Lego, for example, and activity books and craft kits – the sorts of things that will keep children entertained for hours, and certainly well beyond Christmas Day.

Rest assured there are, of course, plenty of hard-to-resist cuddly toys, cars, dolls, trains and so forth, too … something to delight every child on Christmas morning.

It is no surprise to me that the family-run Morleys group (who took over ownership of Camp Hopson a year ago) were named Toy Retailer of the Year 2015, claiming the crown above such toy legends as Hamleys and Harrods.

If you have little ones to buy for, I’d recommend putting Camp Hopson at the top of your Christmas shopping list.

And what have I got for DD? Well, that’s between me and Father Christmas …

Happy shopping … and Happy Christmas!

Biddy x

Friday, 27 November 2015

Santa Claus is coming to town!

Christmas is fast approaching and there are lots of fun things happening in Newbury in the lead up to the big day.

Hurry down to Newbury town centre on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 November which is when Father Christmas arrives. The man in red will be in his grotto in the Market Place from 10.30am to 4pm on Saturday and 12.30 to 4pm on Sunday. Pop in and meet him and his reindeer and have your photo taken.

From 12 noon on Sunday 29 November Newbury is going to be action packed with festive fun and entertainment on the main stage in the Market Place and at Parkway Shopping. The word is that there will be some special characters out and about just longing to have a ‘selfie’ taken with you!

Who doesn’t love ‘Frozen’? Then get along to Parkway between 11am and 4pm on Sunday 29 November. At Debenhams’s Piazza there will be a ‘Frozen’ singalong and ‘meet and greet’, plus live music from local singing sensation Emma Lawrence and local choirs too.

As dusk starts to fall, there will be magic in the air as from 4.15pm Father Christmas will be on board his sleigh and the Christmas parade will wend its way from Market Street, past the Kennet Centre, along Northbrook Street to the Clock Tower, then along London Street to Parkway to finally end in the Market Place. Pick your prime spot to wave as the parade goes by or follow it through the town.

And then … the lighting of the magnificent Christmas tree in the Market Place, when we can truly say Christmas in Newbury has begun.

But this is only the start of the festive activities. If you miss Father Christmas on 28/29 November, don’t worry – you can still seek him out in his grotto at Parkway, opposite Debenhams from 4–6 December and 17–23 December (Monday to Saturday 10am–5pm and Sundays 11am–4pm).

Thursday 17 December is definitely a date for your diary as both during the day and evening Newbury will be awash with entertainment, late-night shopping opportunities and choirs.

Activities start at midday with children’s rides throughout the town, street entertainers and festive market stalls … and even three wise men on camels!

Road closure is extended to 9pm for a safe, traffic-free environment, and there is free parking 5–9pm at Parkway, Kennet Centre and Northbrook multi-storey car parks.

As it starts to get dark, local choirs will be out and about singing in different parts of town, before everyone gathers in the Market Place for the grand finale: the fantastic Choir of 1,000 Voices – a truly special annual Christmas event in Newbury. You don’t need to be in a choir to join them, just turn up and you will be given a free song sheet so that you can join in the singalong (and hold on to that song sheet for a chance to win a £100 John Lewis voucher).

Here’s to a very merry Newbury Christmas!




Monday, 2 November 2015

Biddy at Newbury Artisan

What a busy half-term it’s been in Newbury, with the brilliant Halloween Haunt Hunt running all week in the town and then hot on its heels the first Newbury Artisan Sunday market taking place on 1 November.

Despite it being a cloudy day there were lots of sunny smiles in the town centre which was buzzing with families, couples and individuals out and about enjoying both the Farmers’ Market in Market Place and Newbury Artisan running the length of Northbrook Street.

The Farmers’ Market had a great choice of meats, fish, eggs, cheeses, apple juice, beers and fresher-than-fresh seasonal vegetables. Yummy. (And despite the fact that I’m told it’s going to shorten my life, I could not resist buying some delicious dry-cured bacon from a lovely lady from Dews Meadow Farm Shop.)

And then onto Northbrook Street where stalls stretched for just about as far as the eye could see.

Artisan is a well-used word at the moment but it perfectly described the eclectic, exciting displays of food, drink and crafts on offer.

Having arrived on lunchtime, the senses were alive with a huge choice of street foods, from paella and pulled pork rolls to pies and pastries. The bread, buns and patisserie were right up my street and mouth-wateringly good; never mind a sliced white, give me a rustic sourdough or seeded spelt loaf any day.

Tutts Clump Cider put in an appearance and was doing its usual roaring trade, and there was another stall with sparkling wine which was proving popular. Oh yes, and some gorgeous fishcakes to take home; they will be putting in an appearance on our dining table later this week.

And what else? Bags, cushions, hand-felted plant pots, and a clever idea of 3-D paintings crafted from your own photograph. The silver jewellery which you could have personalised, for example with your child’s finger print or your four-legged-friend’s paw print, looked very cute and would make a perfect present.

Then there were very pretty shabby-chic home furnishings, and vintage clothing put in an appearance with some cleverly reconstructed pieces that gave them a whole new look.

Jack FM was providing lively musical entertainment and children were enjoying colouring in masks at the Newbury BID stand, but one particularly intriguing stall that was attracting a lot of attention was the one offering the chance to hold a wild creature for £1. Personally I did not feel the need, but there were plenty of others who were enjoying having Hissing Sid draped around their necks!

Shops, restaurants and cafés that were open were also making the most of the extra footfall and drawing in the crowds, so it was good news all round.

All in all it was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday, and it’s great to know that Newbury Artisan is going to be a regular monthly event in 2016.

See you there next time.

Biddy x




Thursday, 22 October 2015


Remember remember the 5th of November … but also this year the 7th of November too!

Guido Fawkes really started something and because of what he did – or more to the point, failed to do – back in 1605 there are two great firework celebrations happening in and around Newbury this year.

On bonfire night itself, Thursday 5 November, Chieveley village hosts its traditional bonfire party – in fact it is believed to be the longest running village firework show in the UK. It has been held for an incredible 47 years and people come from miles around to enjoy the spectacle.

In 2015 the event will not only feature a bonfire and fireworks, but also two Guy competitions (where prizes are to be won for Best Traditional Guy and Best James Bond Character Guy), and a fabulous torchlight procession.

The event takes place at the Recreation Centre in Chieveley High Street. Gates open at 6.15pm – with entries for the Guy competitions being received 6.15– 6.30pm at the Village Hall – followed by judging at 6.45pm. Next comes the torchlight procession of the Guys through the village at 7pm and the lighting of the bonfire at 7.15pm, where the Guys will, of course, meet their fate! The fireworks themselves will begin at 7.45pm.

To keep out the November chill a selection of locally sourced food, including a BBQ and hot doughnuts, will be served, and refreshments will be available, including a licensed bar with home-made mulled wine and award-winning local beers.

All tickets are cash only, and available beforehand from the village stores in Chieveley, Hermitage and Cold Ash at the special price of £14 per family or £4.50 per person. Tickets at the gate on the night will be £19 per family or £5 per person. All proceeds will go to the local community.

Further details:

Newbury Racecourse is the fantastic setting once again for the Lions Club Annual Charity Firework Spectacular which this year is on Saturday 7 November and promises to be the biggest, brightest and loudest yet.

The Lions Club mascot, Roary, will be there, making the most of the great entertainment and great food too. Gates open at 5.30pm, with the main event of the firework display starting at 7.30pm.

Tickets are already on sale and you can make great savings by buying them before 12 noon on 7 November. Prices on the gate on the night are £5 for adults and children, but pre-bought ticket prices are: family ticket (two adults and two children over 5) £12; adult ticket £4; child ticket £3 (under 5s go free).

Tickets are available from the Lions Club stall in Newbury Market on Saturdays up to 31 October, and at Thatcham Market on Friday30 October.

Until noon on 7 November, tickets are also available from: The Corn Exchange in Newbury, Newbury Building Society (Newbury and Thatcham branches), Tesco Stores at Pinchington Lane, Northbrook Street, on A4 and Northfield Road, Thatcham, and at RBS in Market Place, Newbury.

Further details:

Monday, 19 October 2015

Newbury Artisan - Sunday 1 November

The first Newbury Artisan – a new type of market in the pedestrianised part of town – takes place on Sunday 1 November, with a focus on food, crafts and ‘suitcase sales’.

Edible offerings will include street food to feast on there and then, and farmers’ market-style wares, such as artisan breads, local cheeses, fresh veg, hand-made pies and cakes, local beers and ciders … all great for taking home to enjoy later.

Alongside the food stalls will be handcrafted goods and gifts from designers and craftspeople who aren’t usually on the high street. Something a little different will be ‘suitcase sales’, where micro-businesses can, as the name suggests, create a diminutive market to sell from a suitcase. This might be anything from jams, chutneys and honey to vintage treasures and trinkets.

Newbury Artisan will be a diverse, quality, shopping experience that celebrates independent producers. Equally importantly, it will create a place where you can enjoy a day out, meet friends, eat, drink, browse and chat to the craftspeople, making for a social shopping experience.

Brought to you by Newbury BID, plans are in place to introduce the market as a regular monthly feature next spring. Taking over the whole of the pedestrianised area, Newbury Artisan will be held on the second Sunday of the month and offer a new social event on the Newbury calendar.

Monday, 12 October 2015

It’s Halloooooween! Time for some half-term holiday fun

It’s that time of year when West Berkshire is awash with pumpkins and witches, cauldrons and bats, ghouls and ghosts, and things that go bump in the night …

From Friday 23 to Saturday 31 October, join the Halloween Haunt Hunt in Newbury town centre, brought to you by Newbury BID. Collect your special form from the allocated venue in Parkway Shopping Centre and follow a trail of cauldrons around the town collecting clues. Those who work out and find all 15 clues and crack a code will be in with a chance of winning something spookily special at the prize draw which takes place on Sunday 1 November at Newbury Artisan market.

From Saturday 24 October to Sunday 1 November there is the Bucklebury Giant Pumpkin Hunt at Bucklebury Farm Park ( where you can take a walk on the wild side through their new spooky woodland maze.

Cobbs Farm at Hungerford ( have some great Halloween activities planned:
· Pumpkin carving takes place in their marquee Monday 26–Friday 30 October, 10am–4pm. Just turn up and get carving.
· Friday 30 October sees the Cobbs Farm Halloween Extravaganza. Dress up in your scariest outfit to enter their fancy dress competition and play some traditional Halloween games, including apple bobbing and pumpkin hurling.

Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre ( has lots of Halloween entertainment:
· Tuesday 27 October – drop in between 11am and 4pm and make your very own ghost puppet at their Recycled Arts Workshop.
· Thursday 29 October – pre-booking is needed for the Spook-tacular Science event where you can make gooey Halloween slime in a wonderful workshop for ages 3–10. Sessions run 10–11am, 11.30am–12.30pm, 1–2pm, 2.30–3.30pm.
· Friday 30 October – another drop in event between 11am and 4pm: Green Halloween. Dress up in your best spooky outfit and enter the fancy dress competition, and watch out for all sorts of fun activities including Teresa Queen Bee with her Bee Punch & Judy Show, see the magical Mr Alexander's travelling show, create bubbles with pedal-power, make spine-tingling discoveries about hedgehogs … and much more.

Go Pumpkintastic at Five A Day Market Garden at Englefield, near Theale, ( from Tuesday 27 to Friday 30 October. Family activity sessions run 10am–1pm where you can carve a pumpkin lantern, decorate a magic wand, and find out about spooky and magical wildlife and traditions.

Or how about a Creepy Cruise? Children can dress up in their Halloween costumes and take a trip on the Jubilee Narrowboat from The Wharf in Newbury where Halloween horrors await! Creepy Cruises sail Tuesday 27–Friday 30 October, 2–3pm. Pre-book at Newbury Visitor Information Centre (tel 01635 30267).

Many people’s favourite Halloween creature has to be a bat, so why not go on a Bat Box Building Workshop? These batty half-hour workshops happen at Beale Park, Lower Basildon ( on Wednesday 28 October, 10.30am–12.30pm on a first-come-first-served basis.

Shaw House in Newbury is in on the spooky happenings too:
· Join their Scuttling Rat activity day on Wednesday 28 October, 10am–4pm. This is where children aged 4–11 can make a scuttling rat and take part in a Halloween-themed trail. No need to book, just drop in. (Tel 01635 279279 for more details.)
· It will be Halloween Party Night on Saturday 31 October, 6.30–8.30pm. This promises to be ghoulishly good fun as in the grounds of Shaw House there will be Halloween trails, apple bobbing and snapping (make sure you take a torch). In the house there will be Halloween crafts, ghostly story time, and trick or treating throughout the night. Arrive dressed for the fancy dress competition at 6.30pm. Suitable for age 4 and upwards and must be pre-booked at Shaw House or Newbury Visitor Information Centre (01635 30267).

West Berkshire Museum in Newbury (01635 519562) is housed in a very old building, the perfect venue for these family-friendly Halloween activities:
· Make a Spooky Spider at their family activity day on Thursday 29 October, 10am–3pm, or get busy with tissue and glitter making a stained-glass pumpkin or ghost on Friday 30 October, 10am–3pm. These activities are aimed at 4–11 year-olds but older and younger children are welcome.
· As darkness falls, which members of the family will be brave enough to tour the  Museum at Night by torchlight on Friday 30 October, 6–8pm? Take your own torch and explore only by its light ...

Spooky-Tacula Shows take place in the Kennet Centre in Newbury on Friday 30 October at 10.30am, 12noon and 2.30pm. These shows are presented by CBeebies very own Alex Winters with lots of fun, games, music and challenges for fiendish young shoppers. Prizes for the best spooky fancy dress costume too!

2 Wild at Path Hill Farm, Goring Heath, near Reading will have a Halloween Extravaganza for ghouls, ghosts, witches and wizards on Friday 30 October, 9.30am–3.30pm. Dare to scare by arriving in fancy dress costume. Spend a ghoulishly ghostly time in the hair-raising Hardwick Woods. Make a broomstick or a woodland monster. Create your own spider’s web. Follow the pumpkin treasure trail and munch marshmallow ghosts. Play giants, elves and wizards, quidditch relay and ghoulish Guess What. Book in advance, ages 5 and over (

Eddie Catz in Newbury ( is hosting a hauntingly good Halloween Party on Friday 30 October, 5.30–7.30pm. Magic and entertainment, dancing at the Halloween disco and a fancy dress catwalk competition with prizes for the best costumes. Entrance by ticket only and suitable for ages 2–8.

The Skeleton Ball at the Corn Exchange in Newbury is going to be a spook-tactular extravaganza on Saturday 31 October at 1pm, 3.30pm and 6pm. There will be ghostly activities, spine-tingling story time, dancing at the bone-jangling disco, prizes for the best fancy dress and much more. (Free but must be pre-booked:

And finally, nothing will chill the blood as much as darkness falls on Halloween itself, Saturday 31 October, as hearing wolves howling. Do this at Wolf Howl Night at 7pm at the UK Wolf Conservation Trust at Beenham, near Reading ( You’ll find out lots of fascinating facts about wolves at this event which must be booked in advance. You won’t see the wolves but you will hear them hoooooowl …

PLEASE NOTE: Parental supervision is required at most activities. A fee is chargeable for several of them and admission fees may also apply. Some events need to be pre-booked. Contact the venues for full details.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Newbury Michaelmas Fair

Newbury Michaelmas Fair
14–17 October 2015

The sun is a-rising to welcome the day.
Heigh-ho! Come to the fair!

So go the words of the old song, and fingers crossed that the weather will be set fair for the Newbury Michaelmas Fair this year, which takes place in Goldwell Park, Newbury RG14 1RS.

The centuries-old Michaelmas festival is named after ‘The Feast of St Michael the Archangel’ and was one of the four days in the year which marked the changing seasons. The tradition of Michaelmas celebrates the end of harvest.

In Newbury, this has evolved to become a traditional fair held in the autumn and the fun of Michaelmas Fair starts on Wednesday 14 October and doesn’t end until Saturday 17 October, so there are plenty of days on which to go and enjoy all that the event has to offer.

The fair is officially opened on 14 October at 6pm by the Mayor of Newbury. This is ‘half-price night’ so you can enjoy all the fun for only half as much as you would normally be paying.

Over the course of four day there is much to see and do, with over 20 fabulous fairground rides – including white-knuckle thrills on the Oribitor, where you spin 150 feet above the ground, to the ever-popular dodgems and, for those who like to take things at a more gentle pace, the pretty carousel.

Michaelmas was traditionally a time for feasting on goose, but in the 21st century you can feast on all sorts of tasty treats at the Newbury Michaelmas Fair while browsing over 50 stalls, including the chance to win prizes on lots of games. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a fair without a fortune teller.

On Friday 16 October at 9pm there will be much ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ when the fuse is lit for a spectacular firework display.

Finally, there is the last night to look forward to on Saturday 17 October before Newbury says goodbye to the Michaelmas Fair for another year.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Biddy at Luna Boutique

One of the best boutiques in town is also one of Newbury’s best kept secrets.

It’s called Luna and it has become my favourite place to shop when I’m looking for something new to wear because this little boutique is packed with the most exciting range of clothes (and handbags and jewellery) I’ve come across in a long, long time.

Now, I am the first to admit I am a big fan of M&S for lots of basic items (their jeggings have long been making an appearance in my wardrobe) but when I want something a little bit special, a little bit edgy (ooh get me) but don’t want to break the bank, Luna is the place I head for. (The husband might say I head there a little too often …)

Luna opened nearly a year ago and since then I have revamped my wardrobe with some very stylish but easy-to-wear pieces. There is lots I like about Luna:
  • The way the clothes are racked by colour, so you can head for your favourites and find lots of different styles and designs in varying shades. (Though having said that, do try other colours too … I’m usually one for muted taupes and greys but surprised myself discovering how much coral suits me.)
  • The chic Italian/French influence. Luna stocks a great range of different fashion houses, and many of their pieces have a little twist that makes them a little bit different, a little bit unusual – maybe a polka-dot pocket on a plain top, or striped sleeves on a plain tunic, or an asymmetric hemline.
  • The sizing. Very cleverly, much of what Luna stocks is in a one-size-fits-all sizing system – and believe me it really does, thanks to the fluidity of many of their styles. I’ve been in there with a friend who is a very different body shape to me (she has the curves I was never blessed with, but my legs are a lot longer!) and the same item looks good on us both. Amazing!
  • The prices. When I first went into Luna I had to look twice at the price tags – and for all the right reasons. With such unusual, original pieces, I was expecting them to be at a much higher price point. Picking up a top, for example, for around £35–£45 that you won’t see everyone else wearing is good news in my book.
  • The regularly changing stock. Luna only stocks two or three of each item, and quite often these are in different colours. So I know the chances of me seeing someone else wearing my fab new jumper are slim. And once the pieces are gone, that’s it … so my advice is: if you see it and like it, buy it, because it’s unlikely to be there next week.
  • The staff. Without exception they are friendly and helpful, always glad to suggest, advise and comment when you are trying on (endlessly patient, and happy for me to try on as many things as I want, however long it takes).
Autumn is here: I’ve just packed away my summer dresses until next year and can hardly wait to wear my new poncho, courtesy of Luna. If you are in need of some stylish new items now that weather is turning cooler, I really recommend you give Luna a try.

There’s only one thing left to tell you … what makes Luna secret is that it is tucked away behind Costa in Parkway. The perfect post-Luna coffee stop! 

Biddy x

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Hungerford Food Festival

Hungerford Food Festival - Sunday 4 October 2015

With over 50 stalls, sizzling street food and the buzz of live cooking demonstrations, this year's Hungerford Food Festival 11am - 3.30pm Sunday 4 October promises to be another inspiring celebration of local and seasonal fare.

This year's demonstrator chefs will include best-selling What's for Dinner? cookbook author and head of the Honesty Food Group, Romilla Arber; Head Chef of Blandys@Inglewood Gert Pienaar and leftovers queen Ilja Harvey for Love Food, Hate Waste.

As usual there will be plenty for local foodies to do. Come and test your ingredient knowledge (as well as your flexibility...) on the Young Farmer's Food Challenge version of Twister. Get your pinny on and enter the Hungerford Cook-Off or take up Barney's Pumpkin Challenge: last year local head gardener Barney Barnes displayed the largest pumpkin of his crop which weighed in at a whopping 95.5 kilos. Can you beat Barney this year? More details on how to enter our competitions can be found on

Local and award-winning food and drink producers will offer a tempting array of fresh produce, local meat and game, pies, beer, cider and wine, rapeseed oil, apple juice, honey, mushrooms, cakes, artisan bread and preserves ... with many offering free tasters and samples. And there will be plenty to feast on from Secret Pizza Society's popular wood-fired pizza, Andi's Finest German sausage and T.H.Burrough's burgers to Mrs B's saucy salads, Hog Crackle hog roast and Asian street food.

Hungerford Food Festival is proud to be part of British Food Fortnight and is kindly sponsored by Doves Farm, Audley Inglewood and Cobbs Farmshop.

Entry only £1 for adults (U16s free).

For more information please visit or contact 01488 648534 or

Thursday, 10 September 2015

The Royal County of Berkshire Show: 19/20 September

With summer holidays a fading memory and autumn in the air, it’s time to look forward to The Royal County of Berkshire Show – one of the best shows of its type in the country and a wonderful weekend of entertainment for all ages.

This year’s show is on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 September, and with gates open from 8am to 6pm on both days you can really make the best of a full day out. 

The fun-packed show takes place at its fabulous site, the enormous 150-acre Newbury Showground at Priors Court, Hermitage RG18 9QZ, right in the heart of the Berkshire countryside. It is easily accessible and well signposted for those arriving by car, east–west via the M4 and north–south via the A34. (You are advised to follow the AA signs rather than sat nav as the organisers put a special traffic management system in place to ensure you reach it by the best possible route that keeps the traffic flowing.) Alternatively, there is a bus service operating from Newbury bus station and Thatcham Broadway to the showground.

This year’s star attraction in the main arena will be world-class quad bike stuntman the Kangaroo Kid who is sure to thrill the crowds with daring wheelies, rolls and jumps. He has been known to jump over everything from a steamboat to a plane in flight!

The success of the ‘have a go’ theme of 2014 is being built on this year, with even more opportunities to try ‘taster sessions’, for example on an inflatable Army assault course, riding Segways and skateboards, learning how to milk a cow or build a den … or why not try your hand as a would-be celebrity chef in the cookery theatre?

Food is an important part of the show, and the food tent is always a big draw. Around the showground, too, will be lots of food stalls, with delicious treats to suit every tastebud.

But remaining true to its agricultural origins, a favourite feature of the show is always the livestock classes, with the best breeds of cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry coming from all over Britain. 

Horses are also a mainstay of the two days, and the show provides a great finale to Britain’s outdoor showjumping season, with some of the best international showjumpers competing. Something that will delight everyone in the main arena is the charming Shetland Pony Grand National, a qualifier for a national event for this team of small ponies and young jockeys who are making their first visit to Newbury. Other equine competitions such as scurry driving and the heavy horses are great fun and always attract large audiences.

The shopping village is highly popular and the out-of-town shopping experience offers 500 outlets. This coupled with the not-to-be-missed craft tent makes it the ideal place for a spot of early Christmas shopping.

Looking forward to his first Royal County of Berkshire Show is Daren Bowyer, who took on the role of Chief Executive of Newbury Showground earlier this year. Show Chairman is local businessman George Becknell, who has been involved with the show for four decades, and who is working alongside this year’s Show President Sir John Madejski, well known as Co-Chairman of Reading Football Club.

Entry on the day is £20 for adults, £16 for concession and £7 for children (free for under 5s), but you can make great savings by pre-booking tickets online from or purchasing from Newbury Visitor Information Centre.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Newbury Real Ale Festival 2015

4,500 people can’t be wrong. That’s how many attended Newbury Real Ale Festival last year, and what fun they had consuming 18,000 pints between them. Join them this year for what promises to be another fabulous event, and something of a musical extravaganza to boot.

The event takes place at Northcroft Fields, Newbury RG14 1RS on Saturday 12 September, with gates opening at 12 noon.

The organisers have selected the ‘best of the best’ ales and ciders from around the country, and there will be around 140 ales and 100 ciders to choose from, including those from local brewers Two Cocks, West Berkshire Brewery and Tutts Clump. (But if beer or cider is not your thing there is a selection of wines to try instead.)

Tickets can be bought on-line in advance, and included in the admission price of £10 are THREE, yes THREE, drink tokens. All drinks are bought via tokens – this speeds up serving time with no change needed – and additional drink tokens (which are non-refundable) can be purchased on site.

This is a family friendly event, so there will be a tuck shop selling snacks and soft drinks. Although the family dog is not invited, under-18s get in free but must be accompanied by an adult. Anyone lucky enough to look under 18 will need to show ID to be served alcoholic drinks.

This year there is a fantastic mix of music genres performing, from rock to reggae, from blues to indie, from dance to acoustic. The Main Stage features some of the finest tribute bands around, including Guns 2 Roses, Noasis and The Doors Alive, and original work from the likes of Echotape and In Darklight. The Tent, too, has some fabulous offerings, including from popular local artists such as Oli Hill and Jenny Bracey.

There will be plenty of opportunities to tuck in and soak up the beer, with no less than four hog roasts supplied from Graham and Charlie Plank’s Bucklebury farm. Beer and barbecues make a wonderful pairing – try America-style treats from Sal’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Q and slow-cooked delights from Pit Smoked BBQ. California Taco brings the joys of tacos, fajitas, quesadillas and the like from native Californian Laura Hunt, who now lives in Newbury. There will also be authentic wood-fired, handmade pizzas from Little Reds. Or how about a kebab or burger and chips from local seller Ghassan? And if you’ve got a sweet tooth you won’t be able to resist Crown Ice Cream.

Thanks to the sponsorship of several local companies, the festival is once again raising money for Naomi House, the local children's charity, who last year were presented with a cheque for £10,000. There are all sorts of benefits to being a sponsor – including Cider Friday, need we say more? – so if you want to be part of the mix next year, check out the website for details.

The music draws to a close at 10pm, with an expected festival finish time of 11pm when weary but happy festival-goers will be wending their way home and looking forward to the next one.

Further details of the event from 

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Biddy at Beale Park

Have you been to Beale Park? It’s at Lower Basildon, not far from Pangbourne.

It’s a great family day out and the husband and I took our grandson DD there recently. He is pre-school and there was much there to entertain him, but it is great for bigger children too and I am sure many schoolchildren have passed through its gates over the summer holidays.

There is lots here for adults as well, so don’t for one minute think it only appeals to children. The animals are a big draw for all ages and it would be hard to choose between the ring-tailed lemurs, the meerkats and the monkeys in terms of cuteness. However, DD had different ideas and his favourite area was the one that the guinea pigs and such like call home … mainly because there is a tunnel there that he could run through, all very exciting when you are only two and a half.

They are big on birds at Beale Park, and we got to see a peahen strutting her stuff very nonchalantly with two of her brood, as if on a royal progress. We enjoyed the beautiful parrots with their flashes of bright colours and, having had a bit of read up, I learned that they actually have 120 species of birds here, one of the biggest collections in Europe. And all thanks to Mr Gilbert Beale, who in 1956 had private land converted into parkland so everybody gets a chance to enjoy it. Thank you, Mr B! 

For some time-out, the gardens are a lovely place to sit and relax or take a stroll to enjoy the water features, and there is a small museum with a model boat collection in the Pavilion. Another museum, particularly appealing to those of us of a certain generation, is Treasured Toys, where if you were a child in the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s you are sure to say, ‘I had one just like that!’ Happy days.

There were a couple of school trips underway when we visited, but you would hardly have known it as the park is so vast. The children just could not get enough of the various play parks; DD was straight in there too and had great fun on Pirate Island, and especially liked the sandpit. Then there is the 12-inch-deep paddling pool … but be warned it is a tad chilly! There are changing rooms, so remember to pack swimming gear.

Best of all for car-mad DD was the Little Tikes Village, full of the plastic houses and cars that youngsters so love. He would, I am sure, have spent all day there, but having driven every vehicle several times and run in and out of every little house, we managed to persuade him away with promises of lunch. (By the way, there is an indoor Little Tikes area too; great for rainy days.)

You can take your own picnic to Beale Park – the deer park is all geared up for this, and there is even a zipwire should you have the urge to fly above the scene. However, we opted for the Peacock Restaurant where there is plenty of seating, both inside and outside. Whilst DD had a child’s lunchbox with a variety of goodies, the husband pushed the boat out with burger and chips and I had a hot beef roll, and we both voted them very good choices.

We saved the final treat of the day to the end of our visit – a ride on the miniature narrow-gauge diesel railway; the price of one ride is included in your entry ticket. The driver was lovely and friendly, clearly enjoying his job and never tiring of waving to the children watching the train go by.

If you want a day out in Berkshire, with or without children, I would recommend a trip to Beale Park ( for more details). It definitely gets the thumbs up from me.

Biddy x

Monday, 17 August 2015

Biddy on the Canal

A warm summer’s afternoon. Lunch in town then something I had been wanting to do for ages but have never quite got around to doing – taking a boat trip on the Kennet & Avon Canal.

Boat trips take place from April through to September, floating on Saturdays and Sundays at 12 noon and 2pm, and on weekdays every Thursday at 2.30pm. You can pre-book tickets in person at the Visitor Information Centre at the Town Hall in Market Place, or call them on 01635 30267 to book by phone. You can even pop in and book up to half an hour before the boat is due to set sail, or take a chance down at the canal (at the Wharf, by the Tea Room on the Canal) and see if there is space. (The boat takes a maximum of 29 passengers, so best to book if you want to guarantee a space on a specific day). 

The boat itself is called the Jubilee, built in – you’ve guessed it, the Queen’s Jubilee year. But which one? You’ll find out when you go on the trip! The Jubilee is a lovely, traditional narrowboat. On the fine day I went on it the sides were open to the elements and the gentle movement of fresh air was most welcome. But on cooler or wet days, there are zip-up plastic windows to keep you enclosed and dry, so you can see out without getting wet.

I arrived well ahead of sailing time (you are asked to arrive 15 minutes beforehand) and the crew – all of them volunteers – were already busy getting everything ready. However, there was a very warm welcome and the plank was immediately put down so that I could climb aboard and enjoy the view from the water until we set off. There was much banter between crew and passengers, making for a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. 

Bang on time, and following the essential safety messages from Boat Master Trevor, we were off, with Chris at the helm. Now it was time to sit back and relax… pure indulgence at a wonderfully slower pace of life than most of us are used to these days.

Trevor gave us lots of fascinating facts about the boat, the canal and what we were seeing from our vantage point. Did you know, for example, that the bridge at Northbrook Street is the oldest on the waterway? And that’s all I’m telling you!

Trevor’s wife Jill was on hand to serve liquid refreshments of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties as the mood takes you, and also chipped in to answer questions. For anyone who has never been through a lock before, this is a great experience. Luckily the passengers don’t have to lend a hand as we had husband and wife team Julian and Sarah there to do all the hard work. 

The gentle round trip takes around an hour and a quarter, and the half-way turning point is near Northcroft Leisure Centre. Apparently it would take four hours to get as far as Kintbury … which you can do if you choose to charter the Jubilee for a private function, which I think would be great fun. 

The Jubilee also lays on special trips for children during some school holidays: Pirate trips in August (AAAR!); Halloween Trips in October (WOOOOH!); and Santa Trips in December (HO HO HO!). (See the website for more details about the boat and trips, and the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust in general:

Despite the leisurely pace of the trip, it went by all too soon (and don’t worry, there is a loo on board!) and everyone aboard had clearly had a wonderful time. And then, of course, there is the delightful Tea Room on the Canal for a cream tea once you disembark – a perfect ending.

With the joy of having a waterway running through Newbury I am not quite sure why it has taken me so long to get around to doing the Jubilee trip, so if you haven’t either… well, what are you waiting for? It’s the perfect way to while away a summer afternoon… 

Biddy x 

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Biddy takes a Guided Walk

Did you know there are several different guided walks around Newbury? I joined one recently, and very much enjoyed the experience. 

You pre-book tickets at the Visitor Information Centre at the Town Hall in Market Place (01635 30267) and that is where you meet for the start of the walk. Each walk is for a maximum of 15 people, and tickets are £5 (with reductions for concessions, or free if you are under 16) and proceeds are all in a good cause as they go to the Newbury Heritage Fund.

The walks are led by local historians, members of The Newbury Society. Our group had the pleasure of being led by Phil Wood who started by giving us a potted history of the Market Place itself. We then made our way to the Wharf where we stopped again to hear about the area, the buildings and local characters.

We walked down to the canalside for more explanation and exploration, meandering slowly to the swing bridge and, eventually, back along the other side of the canal to St Nicolas church. 

We spent some time in the church – its cool interior most welcome on a hot day – before making our way outside and heading to the war memorial where the walk ended, with time for more fascinating facts and a chance to ask any final questions.

The walk is advertised as lasting approximately an hour; I got a lot more for my money as it ended up being a good hour and a half, but it all depends on how many questions get asked en route. However, rest assured it was all at a very gentle pace, with plenty of stops – definitely not a route march!

Walks take place throughout the summer on some Sundays at 2.30pm and some Fridays at 11.30am, with the next ones being on:

Friday 7 August 
Sunday 16 August -
Friday 4 September -
Sunday 13 September -

As some of the walks take in different parts of the town, I am looking forward to going on another one soon.

Biddy x 

Monday, 27 July 2015

Battle Proms at Highclere Castle

A summer’s evening in the grounds of Highclere Castle (‘Downton Abbey’ to many fans); what could be a more perfect setting to wave the patriotic flag and sing a rousing rendition of ‘Rule Britannia’? 

This year’s Battle Proms takes place on Saturday 1 August, and is a chance to picnic in the splendid grounds of Highclere Castle – historic home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, and where the ever-popular television series ‘Downton Abbey’ is filmed – whilst enjoying eclectic entertainment, magical music and fantastic fireworks.

You are welcome to take your own picnic and relate equipment, or you can pre-order and let someone else do all the preparation so that you just turn up, relax … and have fun. 

The Battle Proms themselves have been staged since 1997, the first event taking place at Battle Abbey in East Sussex and the purpose being to create a stage for the live firing of dozens of replica Napoleonic cannon to the strains of ‘Beethoven’s Battle Symphony’. This year, of course, the event will be extra special, marking 200 years since the Battle of Waterloo.

The programme of events starts when the gates open at 4pm. Time to lift the lid on those hampers, pop the champagne corks and soak up the atmosphere.

Early evening sees a Napoleonic display of mounted cavalry taking to the battlefield.

Fast forward more than a century and see the vintage-style group The Rockabellas performing songs to mark milestones in the Second World War, reflecting the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the end of the Second World War 70 years ago.

At 7.25pm comes the Battle of Britain Gun Salute, leading in to the main event: the magnificent musical programme.

All eyes will be drawn to the skies as the Grace Spitfire performs in perfectly choreographed style to the opening pieces of this evening of classical favourites, performed by the New English Concert Orchestra, conducted by Douglas Coombes and hosted by the BBC’s Pam Rhodes.

The event draws to a close at around 10pm, with, as you would expect from all the best Proms, a flag-waving sing-along, culminating in a spectacular firework display as a finale.

Pre-booked tickets from now until 31 July are £36 for adults (£40 cash on the gate and subject to availability so pre-booking is strongly advised); children age 5–15 £17 (free to those age 4 and under). Discounts for advance group bookings. 

To book tickets, reserve picnic hampers and furniture, and for all further details visit: Tickets are also available locally from the Visitor Information Centre and Corn Exchange in Newbury.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Dubai International Arabian Races

Dubai International Arabian Races - Newbury Racecourse 26 July

This full day of Arabian racing was run under the Dubai International Arabian Races banner for the first time in 2014, and in 2015 this flagship event comes to town on Sunday 26 July. For anyone who has not been racing before this race day is a great introduction to the ‘sport of kings’. Not only is entry absolutely free to everyone, but there is fun to be had for all the family. 

The Dubai International Arabian Races are part-organised by Shadwell Estate Company Ltd, based at Nunnery Stud in Thetford, Norfolk, whose horses have been running in the famous blue and white colours of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum since 1980. 

From its origins in the Middle East, Arabian racing has become increasingly popular across Europe as it aims to emulate Thoroughbred racing, and Shadwell Arabian stallions have been at the forefront of this sport since the beginning. Shadwell’s Chairman, Mirza Al Sayegh, explains the reason behind developing the Dubai International Arabian Races: ‘The idea is to help countries by supporting racing, in particular Arabian racing, to develop it as a sport, and we are encouraging breeders, owners and trainers to get involved.’

A horse that people might want to follow is last year’s Shadwell Dubai International Stakes winner Al Hibaab, trained by Newmarket handler Gill Duffield. He is likely to contest this race again in 2015 to try and emulate former Shadwell star No Risk Al Maury who won back-to-back Dubai International Stakes in 2007 and 2008 for the same trainer. 

So what will be happening at Newbury Racecourse on 26 July? With no need to pre-book free entry tickets, gates open at 12 noon and there will be eight races to enjoy. There will be plenty of outlets where you can enjoy a variety of food and refreshments, but if you want to dine in real style you are advised to pre-book The Hennessey Restaurant.

Something special this year will be an exhibition by the Society of Equestrian Artists entitled ‘The Arabian Horse in Art’; a children’s art workshop will be running on a ‘first come first served’ basis and there will also be artists painting ‘live’ around the course during the day.

Continuing the art theme, children from 14 local schools will be there hoping to win the Arabian Rainbow competition, a community arts project that challenges pupils to use their imagination to paint life-size horse sculptures. The competition has generated more than £60,000 in prize money for primary schools in the region since its introduction in 2009.

Along with Shadwell Stud, sponsors this year include Jebel Ali Racecourse, Emirates NBD (Bank), Emirates Airline, Rotana Hotels & Resorts, Emirates Equestrian Federation and National Academy of Indian Payroll, all of whom are supporting the organisers to ensure that once again this will be a fun day out for all ages, with henna artists, face painting, magician Marc Oberon and Newbury Racecourse mascot Harry the Horse out and about. As in 2014 there will be a free draw to win an amazing brand new car and the chance to win fabulous holidays to Dubai, courtesy of Emirates Airline and Rotana Hotels & Resorts. Two other exciting competitions to enter will be for the Best Dressed Lady and Best Children’s Hat. 

For further details about the Dubai International Arabian Races visit

For further details about Newbury Racecourse, and to book The Hennessey Restaurant on 26 July, visit

(A longer version of this article appears in the summer edition of In Newbury magazine © Newbury BID. Photographs © Shadwell Estate Company Ltd.)

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Parkway Summer Series

There’s lots of summertime fun to be had in Parkway Newbury this July!

Saturday 18th July: Proms at Parkway

This musical extravaganza takes place from 11am to 4pm with three amazing acts performing live on stage in the Debenhams piazza. 
  • If you haven’t already heard local singer/songwriter Emma Lawrence, you’re in for a treat. With an emphasis on folk and R&B fusion, she performs both acoustic originals and fabulous covers in her own unique style. 
  • Marvel at the wonderful Classical Reflection who competed in the BBC television programme The Voice this year as part of ‘team Ricky’. Identical twins Naomi and Hannah Moxon bring a whole new angle to their speciality area of classical music and light opera, which is a true delight.
  • Then there is the magnificent Harmony Choir. With choirs being so popular and of the moment, this is one Newbury’s finest. This mixed-voice choir has a wide repertoire, with many songs performed in the fabulous a capella style. Come along and enjoy!
Remember there is plenty of parking at Parkway and it costs just £1 for the first hour.

Visit for further details.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Summer Events at Shaw House

High summer and high time you high-tailed it to the magnificent Elizabethan Shaw House on the edge of Newbury where some very special events are taking place in July and August.

Shaw House Summer Fair: Sunday 19th July

Come along from 11am to 4pm on Sunday 19th July to enjoy a truly traditional English country fair, with craft stalls, garden games, music, bouncy castle, a magician, barbecue and much, much more besides, all in the lovely setting of the grounds of historic Shaw House. 

(Both of the above events are part of NewburyFest 2015, which runs until 26th July)

Open-Air Cinema at Shaw House: Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th August

Watching a film on the Great Lawn at Shaw House as the sun goes down adds a spectacular dimension to going to the movies, and this summer sees two quite different productions:
  • Top Gun, on Saturday 8th August, is the award-winning 1986 classic action drama starring Tom Cruise as Naval aviator Lieutenant Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell, and Kelly McGillis as love interest Charlie Blackwood.
  • The Theory of Everything, on Sunday 9th August, is the award-winning 2014 film based on a biographical work about theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, and is a romantic drama about his relationship with Jane Wilde, who became his wife.

Gates open at 7pm, films start at sunset and refreshments are available.
Tickets: available from – £12.50 (deckchairs) or £15 (bean bags).

The Taming of the Shrew Open-Air Theatre: Sunday 30th August

An evening performance of William Shakespeare’s wonderfully comic The Taming of the Shrew. This is a battle-of-the-sexes comedy, brought to Shaw House by Illyria Open-Air Touring Theatre Company, in which fortune-hunting Petruchio seeks to tame the wealthy, acid-tongued Katherina. But is everyone who they appear to be?...

Gates open at 5.30pm for 7.00pm start.
Tickets: Adults £15, children £8.

Family Activity Wednesdays

On Wednesdays during the school summer holidays, Shaw House is hosting special family activity days. Starting from 10am and running until 4pm (last entry 3.30pm), there are all sorts of activities aimed at children aged 4 to 11 (all children must be accompanied by an adult). Just drop in at a time to suit you – there is no need to book. Entry to Shaw House is, as always, free of charge but there is a small charge for each activity.

This is a great way to keep the children occupied during those long summer holidays, so bring them along and prepare to have fun!

Visiting Shaw House

Shaw House and its grounds are open to the public on weekends from 11am to 4pm and on weekdays during school holidays from 10am to 4pm until 28th September, reopening in February. Entry is free and there is a café and gift shop on site.

Further details from the website or enquires by phone to Shaw House on 01635 279279.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Parkway en Provence

There’s lots of summertime fun to be had in Parkway Newbury this July!

Saturday 11 July: Parkway en Provence 

This event sees Parkway turned into a charming and compact French market for the day … or should that be un peu marché Français?

Look out for wonderful French breads, cheeses and wines from boulangerie, pâtisserie and café PAUL, and at Marks & Spencer. Pop in to Café Rouge for tasty taster treats. 

Be indulged with a hand massage and samples from L’Occtaine, the natural beauty skincare specialists, with their Mediterranean-inspired techniques and products.

Whilst you enjoy all this, there will also be entertainment from French mime artists, accordion players … and you can even have your caricature drawn. 

It’s going to be a très bon jour! 

Remember there is plenty of parking at Parkway and it costs just £1 for the first hour.

Look out for another fantastic event at Parkway on Saturday 18 July.

Visit for further details.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Summer At Newbury Racecourse

There is so much happening at Newbury Racecourse during July and August! Take a look at what’s on – there is truly something for everyone this season. And if you have never ventured to the races before, there is no better place to start than Newbury Racecourse. It makes for a great day or evening out, with a whole host of places to choose to eat and drink.

It’s not all about the racing either – there are some fantastic musical extravaganzas and other entertainments this summer too.

Thursday 9 July: Proms in the Paddock. Not only can you enjoy an evening of races, with a selection of live classical music on offer throughout, but after the race meeting there will be wonderful proms-style classical music with Proms in the Paddock. 

Friday 17 July: July Afternoon Racing. This is a relaxed and informal afternoon of top-quality flat racing; gates open at 12 noon and the first race starts at 2pm.

Saturday 18 July: Weatherbys Super Sprint Day. After an exciting day’s racing, stay on for a night of fun at Party in the Paddock with Radio 1 DJ Danny Howard and drum and bass legend DJ Fresh – two of the biggest names in dance music.

Thursday 23 July: NSPCC Charity Race Evening & Comedy Night. A great evening supporting a great cause. Come on your own, with a friend, or as a larger group, and enjoy a drink and a bite to eat while watching the racing. After the racing, head for the Crafty Filly – specialising in local real ales and fresh pasties – for a fabulous live comedy show. Perfect for a night out after work!

Sunday 26 July: Dubai International Arabian Raceday. With FREE entry to this event, it makes a great day out for all the family. Not only can you enjoy watching the magnificent Arabian horses race but there is lots of entertainment for all ages too – and all sorts of prizes on offer as well.

Friday 14 August: August Afternoon Racing: The first day of Newbury Racecourse’s two-day August fixture kicks off with a great afternoon of flat racing. Come along and enjoy this relaxed and informal event, with gates opening at 12 noon and the first race starting at 2.20pm. 

Saturday 15 August: Betfred Ladies Day. The second day of the two-day August fixture is the famous Ladies Day, this year in support of Breast Cancer Care. As there is a wonderful prize for the ‘Most Stylish Racegoer’, Ladies Day is something worth getting dressed up for! There will be all sorts of entertainment and treats taking place throughout the day, and the racing is followed by a brilliant party featuring ABBA tribute band Bjorn Again. 

Tuesday 25 August: August Evening Racing. As we head towards the August Bank Holiday weekend, make the most of the long, light days at the last evening fixture this summer. Gates open at 3.30pm, first race is 4.40pm.

Further details about all these events, facilities at the racecourse and how to get there on the Newbury Racecourse website

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Newbury Carnival & Fete 2015

The Carnival is back! Come along to Newbury town centre on Sunday 5th July and join thousands upon thousands of people who will be lining the streets to enjoy the amazing spectacle that is the Carnival Parade.

This year there are over 60 entries so there will be plenty of floats, walkers and dancers to see. As the Carnival is set to be one of the biggest ever, the competition for best entries in a range of categories will be hotly contested! There will be lots of music to accompany the Parade, from the traditional – such as the Reading Scottish Pipe Band – to the more exotic, such as the Rampage Mas Band with its Caribbean influence.

The Parade starts at 2pm, wending its way via Bartholomew Street, Northbrook Street and the Clock Tower (with certain roads closed 1.45–4pm so that everyone can travel safely), and culminating in Parkway. 

From there, hop over to Victoria Park where the fabulous Carnival Fete takes place from 12noon to 6pm, with stalls, entertainment, small rides, giant inflatable slide and loads of other fun for all the family. 

As always, music and dance at the Carnival Fete will be a highlight. As well as further performances from the Reading Scottish Pipe Band and the Rampage Mas Band, look out for Newbury & Thatcham Rock Choir from 12 noon, and Hungerford Town Band playing in the bandstand 3–5pm. Throughout the afternoon, all sorts of other genres will be performing in the Fete Arena, such as the acclaimed Mini Band, the brilliant Sticky Fingers with their ukuleles, Interakt Community Theatre and Arts, West Berkshire Sway Dance, Steps Ahead Dance School, and not forgetting the wonderful Bruce Hogg on his guitar.

Further details on the website

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

There’s lots of summertime fun to be had in Parkway Newbury this July!

Saturday 4 July: Parkway Summer Street Party

Parkway is THE place to be on Saturday 4 July. This is the day Parkway hosts its fabulous and popular Summer Street Party, just one event in the Parkway Summer Series.

This is a party for everyone so bring the family and enjoy the fun! Back by popular demand are the Covent Garden Entertainers, thrilling the crowds with their circus skills. There will be face painting for the children – so look out for painted tigers, lions and pandas prowling around Parkway, and maybe some pretty butterflies too.

You can also make huge savings at Parkway on the day by downloading a Street Party Pass. Everyone loves a bargain, so print out or reserve your FREE Street Party Pass at to receive an incredible 20% discount at lots of Parkway stores and cafés, including Jack Wills, Animal, H&M, Ecco, Jones the Bootmaker, Café Rouge … and many more. This is a special one-day-only offer so make the most of your 20%!

Remember there is plenty of parking at Parkway and it costs just £1 for the first hour.

Look out for two other fantastic events at Parkway on Saturday 11 and Saturday 18 July.

Visit for further details.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Team GB Athlete Visits Newbury College

With the examination period in progress and the end of term looming, Newbury College welcomed Team GB 400m champion Lesley Owusu to motivate and inspire students.

Lesley gave a presentation about her sporting journey and how sport has shaped her life. Following the presentation students were able to take part in a question and answer session and fun activities involving team work. 

Sports Maker at Newbury College, Aimee Kaur, who organised the event said, “It was hugely inspiring for Lesley to share her sporting journey with us. She is an extremely passionate athlete with the ability to influence the lives of many young people given her experiences. One of the key messages from the day was that hard work and dedication will lead to success; everyone has the ability to fulfil their potential. Sport isn’t just performing better physically, it has the ability to bring people together, build confidence, and overcome barriers faced by many”. 

Raised in Ghana, Lesley felt a sense of isolation when she came to England and could not speak the language. The power of sport helped Lesley overcome many childhood barriers including racism, low self-esteem and bullying which encouraged her to pursue her dreams and achieve on and off the track.

Lesley has gone on to represent Great Britain at European, World and Commonwealth levels. She has not only excelled in sport, but along her inspirational journey has also achieved a BA degree in Broadcast Journalism and Literature and an MA in Mass Communications and Political Science. 

There’s something for everyone at Newbury College. For more information about the hundreds of full and part time courses available visit or contact 01635 845000.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Shop Local Week 2015 – Celebrating Newbury’s Independents

Monday 29th June to Saturday 4th July is Shop Local Week and an opportunity to celebrate the independent retailers who help to make Newbury the special town it is. Everyone is encouraged to support them by making a determined effort to ‘shop local’ … and hopefully enjoy the experience so much that it becomes a habit.

Many people enjoy living in or visiting a town with independent shops, restaurants and businesses, and they are an important part of our street scene here in Newbury. Not only that, the goods and produce on offer, and the friendly service you receive, make it a pleasure to go there. 

Shop Local Week is organised by Newbury BID (Business Improvement District) as part of NewburyFest. BID MD Russell Downing says, ‘We are throwing down a challenge for you to buy everything you need in Newbury town centre. As an added incentive, many of the independent outlets will have special offers in place – look out for what these are on the NewburyFest website and print out the leaflet to take advantage of some great discounts. By logging on to the website you will also be in with a chance of winning a special prize. Go to NewburyFest to find out more.’

Just some of the independents offering great deals include Luna Boutique in Parkway, with chic and wonderfully original fashions. For men, there’s Dapper Street with urban styles from designer labels, or for something more formal try Suits Newbury. Time to try a new hairstyle? Seek out the local hair studios with brilliant discounts. If you’re feeling peckish – and whether you want breakfast, coffee and cake, or a great meal – there’s everything from The Empire Café, TIY Tea Bar, Brebis French Restaurant and many more to try. If you’re stocking up the fruit bowl, AJA Foods has a great deal all week long. Thinking of taking up a musical instrument? Hogan Music will give you the best advice as well as a great discount. If you’re a keen crafter, Rainbows in Inches Yard is a crafter’s dream – go and see what their special offer is. Need a picture framed? Nip along to Artifax on Bartholomew Street. Flowers for a friend? Near-neighbour Willow & Blooms is the place to go. And these are just a few of the many places with offers. Be sure to check them all out on the NewburyFest website.

In addition, all week long it is hoped that local buskers will bring colour to the town with their individual talents. As a grand finale, Shop Local Week draws to a close on Saturday 4 July with Independents Day (in line with American Independence Day) and the return of the Covent Garden Entertainers who will be touring the whole town and keeping the crowds entertained with their amazing skills. 

Come and join the fun and make this year’s Shop Local Week one to remember!

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Here It Comes… NewburyFest 2015!

Time to get your party shoes polished – NewburyFest 2015 starts on 27th June and this year it promises to be bigger and better than ever before.

Now in its third year, NewburyFest takes over the town this summer for a whole month, with fabulous, fun activities for all the family.

There’s lots happening the first weekend with:

  • Saturday 27th & Sunday 28th June: Strongman Competitions. So popular, this has been extended into a two-day event and takes place in the town centre.
  • Saturday 27th June: Party on the Pitch at Newbury Rugby Club. An afternoon and evening of games, sport, live music, food, ale, cider and lots more. You can even camp for the night! 
  • Sunday 28th June: Newbury Rotary Club Boules Tournament. Teams need to pre-register for this charity event which takes place in Market Square, though individual entrants can join in a public competition on the day.
  • Sunday 28th June: Newbury Food & Craft Fair. A full-on day of local food, craft and fun, with lots of stalls selling their wares in the town centre.
  • Sunday 28th June: Ring of Fire Cycle Ride. Test yourself, cycle with the family or just go along and watch this day of fun cycling events, all starting and finishing at The Wharf in Newbury. The circular routes are 10, 30 and 60 miles long, taking in beautiful West Berkshire countryside. Proceeds go to two good causes: ÉFirefighter's CharityÉ & Camp Uganda. (More details and registration here)
The rest of the week is jam-packed with excitement too:

  • Monday 29th June - Saturday 4th July: Shop Local Week. Go on, support your local independent shops by making the decision to shop with them for one whole week – and beyond. Enjoy entertainment from buskers as you shop. (If you would like to register to busk, contact Suzanne Young at Newbury BID – / 01635 760505.)
  • Thursday 2nd July: Newbury Racecourse Key4Life Charity Race Evening & 80s Disco. The first of two great charity evenings during NewburyFest. Enjoy seven races then roll back the years with an 80s disco with Jack FM. 
  • Thursday 2nd July: Summer Cyclocross in Goldwell Park. The final Thursday evening of six in this year’s fabulous cycling challenge for cyclists of all ages on grass tracks designed for all levels.
  • Saturday 4th July: Independents Day with Covent Garden Entertainers. The final day of Shop Local Week sees entertainment throughout the town from this brilliant team of entertainers.
  • Sunday 5th July: Newbury Carnival. The parade starts at 2pm in Pound Street and finishes at Park Way, next to Victoria Park, where the Carnival Fete takes place 12pm–6pm. Register for your group, organisation or business to join in the parade… there’s lots of prizes! 
That’s just week one! Next up comes:

  • Sunday 12th July: Wiggle MagnifiCat. Starting from Newbury Racecourse, join over 2,000 cyclists in this exciting event, with an ultimate ride of short (44 miles), standard (85 miles) or epic (128 miles) proportions, taking in the rolling Hampshire countryside and South Downs. (Register here)
  • Sunday 12th July: The Three Musketeers at Shaw House. Enjoy an afternoon in the sunshine with this open-air performance of Alexandre Dumas’ most famous work, with exciting comedy and dazzling swordplay. 
  • Friday 17th – Sunday 19th July: Newbury Balloon Festival. Three days of afternoon and night-time fun at Newbury Showground. As well as the balloons (weather permitting) there will be all sorts of stalls, activities and entertainments, plus live music and a funfair. All proceeds will go to charity. Look out for further details on the Visit Newbury website
  • Sunday 19th July: Vintage Fire Engine Day. Come along to Newbury town centre to see these magnificent machines.
  • Sunday 19th July: Shaw House Summer Fair. Craft stalls, garden games, music, barbecue and much more, all in the lovely setting of the grounds of historic Shaw House on the edge of Newbury.
  • Wednesday 22nd July: RSC Live – The Merchant of Venice at the Corn Exchange. The melting pot of Venice and one of Shakespeare’s finest tragedies, brought to you via live broadcast from no other than the Royal Shakespeare Company. (Details at the Corn Exchange)
  • Thursday 23rd July: Newbury Racecourse NSPCC Charity Race Evening & Comedy Night. The second of two great charity evenings during NewburyFest. A summer evening of racing followed by live comedy in the Crafty Filly, and all in a good cause. 
NewburyFest 2015 goes out with a bang on the final weekend with two celebrated local festivals:
  • Saturday 25th July: CultureFest. Get along to Newbury Racecourse where CultureFest is back, celebrating ethnic diversity with performances, presentations, workshops and demonstrations in art, music, dance and foods from around the world. Voluntary organisations, businesses and traders who would like to be involved should contact
  • Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th July: Newbury Waterways Festival. With this year’s theme of ‘Flower Power’, The Kennet & Avon Canal Trust’s spectacular event has a flotilla of boats transforming the wharf all weekend. In Victoria Park on the Sunday there will be stalls, entertainment, food and fun for all – and the very popular duck race! (More details here)
Look out for further details of NewburyFest 2015:
Visit Newbury 

NewburyFest is brought to you by Newbury BID (Business Improvement District) who arrange and/or support and promote the events (