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 http://goo.gl/ZwdhwG 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 www.shopatparkway.com 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 www.newbury-college.ac.uk 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 – suzanne@newburybid.com / 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 waheeda@all2gether.org.uk
  • 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 (www.newburybid.com).

Monday, 1 June 2015

Biddy at Shaw House

Have you been to Shaw House? It’s a masterpiece of Elizabethan architecture right on Newbury’s doorstep and makes for a fascinating visit … and entry is free!

Generations of local people know Shaw House in a former guise as a school. My goodness, what an amazing place that must have been to be educated back in the day (from 1943–85 to be precise). But you need to wind the clock back several centuries to appreciate its origins.

It was built in 1581 for wealthy cloth merchant Thomas Dolman, and stayed in his family for six generations – welcoming several members of royalty over the years – until 1728. It remained a private house for another two centuries until requisitioned by the military during the Second World War, during which time Newbury Senior School was bombed-out and saw Shaw House adapted to accommodate the displaced scholars. Structural issues in 1985 meant this piece of local history closed for 20 years, until a huge renovation project began. Completed in 2008, the magnificent Shaw House is now open for all to enjoy.

And enjoy it I did when I visited recently. It is open on weekends and during school holidays, February to September, so pick your moment to go. (Not only is it a visitor attraction but also a popular conference and wedding venue, and the Register Office is here too.)

Parking is nice and easy, and the first view of this beautiful red-brick manor house is quite breathtaking. There’s a warm welcome in reception and an explanation of all that you can do here. You may be fortunate, as I was, to meet Judith who kindly gave me and another handful of early visitors a potted history in The Hall before letting us loose on a self-guided tour. 

There are plenty or rooms to explore, where you can uncover a detailed history of the house. I’m not going to give too much away about what you can see and do, but I particularly enjoyed the exhibition which gives an insight into the lives and experiences of the people that have spent time here – rich owners and their families, their visitors, their servants, military personnel and school children.

With lots of opportunities for children to enjoy hands-on activities, a visit to Shaw House is an excellent way to keep them entertained for a few hours, and in particular on Wednesday Family Activity Days during the school holidays.

The grounds are currently undergoing a major project to bring them back to some of their former glory – image the days when the view from Shaw House swept down to what is now the Robin Hood roundabout! – so this latest restoration will add another dimension for future visits.

Over the coming months Shaw House is making the most of its enviable setting with, for example, open air cinema and theatre, and a summer fair. Have a look at their website or pick up a brochure to find out more about these and other events (http://info.westberks.gov.uk and follow the Leisure, Parks and Countryside link).

Can’t possibly sign off without mentioning the Shaw House café, situated in the old kitchen, which sits above an Elizabethan bakehouse, discovered during the most recent renovations. The café has the most enormous fireplace, giving a real sense of days gone by – as do the inscriptions on the tables, such as an inventory from 1622. It’s a great setting to enjoy good coffee and delicious home-made cake, which are most definitely of 21st-century calibre.

Biddy x