The one where we go on the set of Friends

“So no one told you life was going to be this way…”

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“And if you have a look in the freezer, you’ll find Joey’s Stephen King novel”.  For Friends fans, this sentence makes perfect sense set in the context of Chandler and Joey’s apartment referencing the episode where Rachel encourages Joey to read Little Women.

We were at Blenheim Palace on the set of Friends, celebrating the 236 episodes of a series that had a remarkable impact on hair dos, friendships, and even the way we speak: “Could I BE any more excited?” “That is SO not true!”

Small son of course had never heard of it, so our first stop at FriendsFest at Blenheim was to plonk ourselves  in front of a giant screen showing clips from all nine series. He loved it and ever since has  been quoting Joey in particular.

 

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“The third day. All right? Monday, one day. Tuesday, two day. Wednesday, when? Huh? What day? Thursday! The third day! Okay?”

“JOEY DOESN’T SHARE FOOD!”

“MY SANDWICH!”

“Are you wearing two belts?”

After educating him in all things Friends, we looked briefly at the Lincoln High photo shoot and the Las Vegas chapel before launching straight into Central Perk where we sat on the sofa and pretended to sing “Smelly Cat”.

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We then recreated the opening titles and then checked out Chandler and Joey’s reclining chairs and boat, the hallway and then Monica and Rachel’s apartment. It was great to see it, but we were among hundreds of other people so it didn’t feel particularly real.  The timed tour also gave fans the opportunity to see some of the costumes, including the ‘holiday armadillo’, plus the famous white dog statue and other props.

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Small son was taken with the cop car and Phoebe’s taxi, while I was tickled by the quotes everywhere and the food options including Monica’s Moondance diner.

It was slightly pricey, but now small son is as obsessed as I am and the two of us haven’t stopped singing the theme tune since, so it must have been good.

Now sold out for the rest of the dates, the tour takes in Hylands House in Essex and then Clissold Park, London.

http://www.friendsfest.co.uk

 

 

 

Regent Lettings, Newbury, marks its 10th anniversary

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Pic by Stuart March

Newbury lettings agency Regent Lettings has marked its tenth anniversary with a celebratory cruise along the Kennet and Avon Canal.

The firm was founded by husband-and-wife team Graeme and Gill Leech in 2007 and since then has grown in strength and reputation as a specialist, local residential letting agency.

Along with staff, clients were invited to the special event on the horse-drawn ‘Kennet Valley’ barge that departed from Kintbury.  The evening included a buffet from Inner Circle Catering, and champagne to celebrate.  There was a speech by Mr Leech and a raffle in aid of West Berkshire Mencap.

 

Regent Lettings is an established, independent agency that is a member of ARLA (Association of Residential Lettings Agents).  It offers managed and non-managed services, including impartial advice on property investment in the local area. Regent carries out accompanied viewings, full referencing, video inventories for accuracy, prepares tenancy agreements, lodges deposits with the DPS (Deposit Protection Service), carries out regular property visits and keeps up-to-date with the ever-changing legislation.

Mr Leech said: “We’re so appreciative to everyone who has supported us on our lettings journey over the last 10 years and delighted that they are able to share the celebration with us.

“Our ethos is to treat every property we work with as if it is our own. We work hard to match the right tenant with the right property and all of the rental properties in our care are supported by our team of local property specialists.

“Our aim is to be the most trusted and respected agency in the area by providing expert advice to clients.”

 

 

 

SPX GETS IN THE FLOW OF VOLUNTEERING WITH WEST BERKSHIRE MENCAP

SPX Flow volunteers at West Berkshire Mencap

Staff from SPX Flow in Newbury have volunteered their time to help West Berkshire Mencap this week.

The team of five engineers and fitters spent a day carrying out an extreme makeover of the charity’s sensory garden and sports field at the Enborne Gate headquarters.

As well as mowing the grass which had grown to waist height, plus cutting back weeds to make the field usable for team events and sports for children with learning disabilities, the volunteers completely transformed the sensory garden just in time for the charity’s open day.

The sensory garden provides a quiet space for people with learning disabilities to immerse themselves in and to explore their senses.

SPX assembly supervisor Mick Whittaker, who is set to retire from the firm later this year after 49 years of service, said: “We wanted to do something practical to help so we took an in-house poll to see which local charity staff wanted to support. West Berkshire Mencap received the most votes, so we got in touch to see if there was anything they wanted done.

“It’s been really good to see the results of our work and the impact it’s had on the people who have benefited.”

Leila Ferguson, chief executive of West Berkshire Mencap, added: “We are so grateful to the volunteers from SPX Flow who have made such a difference to us by offering their help.  We have been absolutely astounded by their willingness to throw themselves into helping in such a practical way. They have already made such a visible difference to the charity’s surroundings.”

 

 

Sports day

 

Like most people, I’ve been transfixed by the World Athletics Championships from the comfort of my sofa. You wouldn’t think so to look at me now, but I used to be a keen sprinter and would happily participate in other events such as the high jump and middle distances to earn points for our athletics team. Then middle age and a love of food/beer took over and now the only time I exercise is when I get exercised by the self-service tills in the supermarket and such like.

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So the last athletics event I watched was small son’s school sports day a couple of weeks ago. The school had drawn out lanes going downhill across the field along with gazebos aplenty.  The children were divided into their houses (small son had happily been cheering the successes of all four so I wasn’t sure which one he was in until day) and were summoned up when required to the start line of the running races which also doubled as the venue for the throwing events.

When it came to his turn, I observed him sprint competitively to the start line. Four of them lined up and the race was started faltering by an older child who couldn’t decide  whether to say “1,2,3 GO!” or “one your marks” and was so confused by this that he allowed one of the competitors an absolutely appalling false start, while the rest, including small son, dawdled gamely to the finish line.

Without having the opportunity for me to explain the concept of racing, he was back on the start line – this time for the hurdles, while parents, other children and stray jumpers multiplied across the running track and behind the finish line (which was incidentally being held by two girls who kept chatting and then letting go of the finish line before the runners had reached it, rendering it useless).  Small son then took part in the hurdles where he was so busy waving at me and congratulating himself on successfully negotiating the first one that he swanned in second, completely oblivious to the concept of racing or competition. Compare that to when I jokingly suggest we race to the house and he throws a tantrum if I edge in front of him.

 

Having said that, the mums race was split into two halves and I only came third in mine. I did have a dislocated knee and 20 years on the winner though.

Having watched the heartbreak of the Botswana athlete who was refused entry to the World Championships tonight, I wonder if the school sports day might be deliberately chaotic to help future sports stars deal with heartbreak?

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Brick Safari

Visitors to Marwell Zoo this summer can enjoy seeing an additional 81 animals this summer – only these ones are amazing LEGO sculptures!

Bordon-based LEGO building company Bright Bricks used over two million bricks to make the incredible sculptures which are inspired by Marwell’s own animals. The collection represents 27 species and includes a 1.5-tonne elephant, a Bengal tiger and a lion plus an ostrich and a pair of warthogs.

My five-year-old son was enthralled by all of the Lego animals and particularly loved the 1.5 tonne elephant – which took a team of six builders 1,600 hours to build – and the cheeky animatronic meerkats.

But it wasn’t just the children who were captivated by the trail, the adults were also wowed and seemed to relish the opportunity to get creative after gaining inspiration from the experts. A marquee guarded by two more sculptures gives visitors the chance to help with a record-breaking attempt to build the world’s longest Lego python and you can also build a Lego penguin to add to the March of the Penguins display. There is a Lego pit containing 140,000 bricks which means you can really put your imagination to the test and build your own creation!

Visitors have the opportunity to win a tour of the Bright Bricks headquarters in Bordon, by guessing the number of bricks that were used to build the elephant named “Earl Grey” in a public vote.

The Great Brick Safari is included with general admission and runs from 1 August until 1 October.