Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Biddy Samples Breakfast at Bill's

I was in town for a (very) early meeting recently and with no time for breakfast beforehand it seemed a great idea to treat myself post-meeting. 

Bill’s is a fairly new kid on the block (well, the Market Place anyway) and a great addition to the choice of eateries here in Newbury. 

First impression as you walk in is good – the staff charming and attentive. They’ve created a very comfortable atmosphere here, with leather seating, pretty lights and plenty of tables. And I was able to have a window seat – a great vantage point to watch the world go about its business.

I had not had a coffee as yet so I enjoyed my first one of the day while I studied the menu. And darn good coffee it was too. I also liked the fact that you automatically get offered water for the table – I wish more places would do this as a matter of course. 

The breakfast menu has lots of lovely choices: bacon or sausage brioche roll; buttermilk pancakes; granola (with yoghurt and berry compote – yum); porridge (with bananas, hazelnuts and honey – double yum); scrambled eggs on sour dough toast (add salmon or bacon it you fancy it), to name but a few. Or of course you can go the whole hog and have Bill’s Breakfast – just what you’d expect, bacon, sausage, egg, mushrooms, tomatoes and toast (and add baked beans, black pudding and crispy potatoes if you’re really hungry!) – and there’s an equally filling veggie option too. But what I really wanted, and so what I had, was the wonderfully comforting eggs benedict (eggs royale or florentine also available).The sour dough toast was delicious, the eggs cooked to perfection, served with ‘proper ham’ (none of your pre-packed rubbish here!), a fabulous hollandaise and all topped with a tasty sprinkle of pumpkin seeds. A generous portion and truly delicious.

Bill’s clearly appeals to a wide mix of people – enjoying breakfast or coffee and cake (scones and toasted teacakes on offer too) were other lone diners like me, couples, parents with small children and those engaged in business meetings. You get the feeling nothing is too much trouble here – the chap on the next table wanted to swap an item on the full breakfast: ‘no problem’.

Breakfast aside, the lunch and dinner menus look great too – but that’s for another day. But I ought to mention there’s all sorts of ‘Bill’ items you can buy to take away, too: Bill’s marmalade and jam, oaties in a tin, truffles, olive oil, gift boxes for the foodies in your life … definitely worth a look.
Do go and give Bill’s a go. The breakfast certainly gets a big Biddy thumbs up!

Biddy x 

Friday, 16 January 2015

Biddy at Bucklebury Farm Park

The husband’s birthday and a day off work … so we decided to have a day out at Bucklebury Farm Park with our small grandson, DD.

We’d not been before but can certainly recommend this as a really good day out for children (even ones who have a beard and are over six feet tall!).

We started with a late breakfast (husband)/early elevenses (DD and me) at Woody’s Cafe & Tea Room, and a jolly good one it is too. It was a bitingly cold day so stepping into the warmth generated by the wood-burning stove was very welcome … as was the delicious coffee, bacon roll and cakes. Incidentally, anyone is welcome to go to Woody’s, you don’t need to be going round the farm, and there were several locals doing just that. 

And so onto the farm itself. Top tip – if you are going in the winter months, wrap up very warmly and take wellies as you will get muddy. (Well, it is a farm after all!) And if your littlies can manage without a pushchair I would recommend you leave it in the car, as although you can push it around many parts of the farm it is mostly on grass and … well, let’s just say that too will get muddy!

There is lots of open space for children to run free, and plenty of animals to admire – Shetland ponies, donkeys, llamas … and lots of fluffy guinea pigs in the guinea pig hotel. There are specific times during the day when you can pet some of the animals, too.

There are bigger animals that are not of the petting variety as well: cows, wild boar and, our particular favourite, lots of deer. You can get up close and personal with some of them on a tractor ride, and as DD loves tractors this was something of great excitement. Our lovely friendly driver told us all about the various types of deer as he ploughed us through the mud, and we had a chance to feed them. Big Ron had a particularly fine sets of antlers, and I am pretty sure I’ve seen him pulling Father Christmas’ sleigh before now. (Didn’t see that any of his friends had a red nose though….)

There is also a nature trail and wild walk which no doubt are lovely to explore in all seasons. However, this is something we will save for next time when DD’s little legs can cope with a bit more serious walking. But what he did love was the play park, especially as there were two (static) tractors on which he could sit, pull levers and turn the steering wheel – it was hard to drag him away from them! The enticement was the playbus, converted into a soft play area where he was able to run around safely and zoom down the slide to his heart’s content (we were there mid-week in term time, but at busier times of year you get a limited time on the bus to give everyone a chance). There is another indoor area with much bigger slides too, which looked great fun, if a bit scary!

After all that fresh air we were ready to go back to Woody’s and warm ourselves with lunch – delicious homemade soup for me; ham, egg and chips for the birthday boy (and he voted the ham the best ever, and he is something of an expert); and a child’s lunchbox for DD (he loved all the farm animals decorating it, and the gingerbread man was a big hit). There is gift shop next to Woody’s and a farm shop as well, with all sorts of delicious goodies to take home. I was particularly keen on their great range of frozen foods by ‘COOK’, really good hand-made meals, and very reasonably priced. Worth stocking up for those times you really don’t have time to make a lamb tagine yourself!

After another trip around the farmyard, we voted it a really good day out and wended way home, and are looking forward to a return visit in the spring.

Check out directions, opening times and prices at And remember to say ‘Hi’ to Big Ron for me.

Biddy x