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