Ping Pong

Most times we go shopping, we do not find that an entire unit in the Kennet Centre has been devoted to the art of ping pong!


Three tables, complete with bats and balls, mean that the stage is set for some competitive fun.  And we found ourselves there for hours, in a Isner-Mahut style stand off. I refused to back down and little one was enjoying smacking the ball across the neighbouring tables and even into the shop opposite a couple of times.

I can’t say whether our ping pong skills improved, but this was very sociable and a lovely way of burning off steam and getting to chat to the good people of Newbury!

Not sure how long it’s there for, but we’ll be back!

Northcroft Lido

northcortf.jpgAnyone who loves an outdoor pool will know that we are blessed with an absolute stonker of a lido here in Newbury. And the good news is, it’s set to open in the next couple of weeks!  It’s been fixed and is being filled with water, ready for a few weeks of glorious swimming.

There is no finer place to be on a hot summer’s day, but personally, it’s those duller days, and even when it’s pouring with big fat drops of rain that I love. You’re going to get wet anyway, so why not head down there when it’s quiet and enjoy the gentle splashing and birds warning each other that there’s a crazy person in the pool?

The pool is one of the longest in the country, at 71m and dates back to the 1870s.  There’s plenty of spectator space and free parking for three hours. It is a gem!

If you can’t wait until early July when the pool is scheduled to open, then the nearest outdoor pools to Newbury are:

Thames Lido in Reading,    The Rolls Royce of pools with restaurant and massage treatments onsite. A pure 25m of heaven, but consequently pricier than your normal swim.

Hincksey   Another beautifully-refurbished pool – this one’s in Oxford, so limited parking, but worth the drive! Slightly funny shape for swimming laps, but definitely worth a visit and taking part in one of their lovely special events. I got up at 4am for their early morning swim and it was one of the best sunrises I’ve ever seen.

Woodstock   a bit of a drive from Newbury, but something of a hidden gem. Diving board!

Aldershot   This one is just like loading the Ford Anglia and heading back to the 1960s to a holiday at Butlins. Massive water slides, and unusually, a DIVING board!  Lots of space to sit and picnic and changing rooms that have defied history.

Petersfield Again, a bit of a trek from West Berkshire, but a gorgeous community-run pool with plenty of events.

Guildford A gorgeous pool in a beautiful setting. A bit of a drive and the toilets are ….hmmmm.

Cheltenham       Sandford Parks Lido has two fabulous slides, and is a beauty to behold.

and last but not least, Abingdon, which is on the banks of the River Thames and has opened this week after a million pound refurbishment.

Sign up for the Lido Guide for a proper guide to all of the UK’s outdoor pools!

Learn how to give an Indian Head massage (Kingsclere)

Nicki Lee is a Kingsclere-based sports therapist and all round good egg. She’s hosting an Indian head massage workshop so you can give friends and family a real treat!

Her next event takes place from 1pm to 5pm on Saturday, 16th June at the Kingsclere Club on the village High Street.

You just need to wear comfortable clothes – everything else is provided including tea and cake! £45 pp.

More info and future events are here:

Reading, watching, listening to – May!



Reading: Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine

Oh what a lovely book! I try to steer clear of books that contain human misery, and while this does contain a bit, it’s an uplifting story about one of life’s misfits and the importance of kindness. I absolutely loved it.

Watching: Brooklyn 99

I’m unfashionably late to the party, but decidedly happy to be here! I love this comedy cop show as it’s this decade’s Sledge Hammer! A catchy theme, an immature but handsome joker in the lead role, a brilliant cast, hilarious storylines, but this time set in Brooklyn.

LIstening to: Hollie Cook


I hate to admit this but I saw Hollie Cook live a couple of years ago and wasn’t really into it. I now wonder if it was the wind blowing her gorgeous voice in the wrong direction. Now that the weather has got better (it’s just started raining as I type this), this laid back vibe is just the thing for a summer’s day.

Working with:

favourite client this month has been my lovely declutterer!

Father’s Day AND National Fudge Day!

National Fudge Day! It always sounds a little bit made up, but I promise it isn’t! It started in the States but as we believe the its spiritual home is Cornwall, we have brought it to the UK on 16th June! And as Father’s Day this year lands on the same weekend (17th June), it makes sense to combine the two with a round-up of fudgey gifts!

artisan tin

First up is the artisan tin which retails at £11.99. Filled with three of your favourites, the  crumbly fudge, the honeycomb and creamy milk chocolate and the Peanut Brittle (which we’ve discovered is extremely popular with dads), it’s available here






Perfect as a gift for someone special, or to put out as petit fours at the end of a meal. A decadent treat whatever the occasion.


Butter tablet

Last,  but not least, if your dad loves Cornwall, then check out Buttermilk’s multi-award winning, traditional tablet. It’s handmade in Cornwall and is one of Buttermilk’s best-ever sellers, but comes from a traditional Scottish recipe handed down from the original Scottish owner of the Buttermilk shop in Padstow.


#ad #buttermilk #cornwall #fathersday #nationalfudgeday


For more info or an interview with Buttermilk @newburymummy



Prize of £1,000 to the creator of the winning dish plus £1 donated to West Berkshire Mencap every time the dish is ordered

Amateur and professional chefs have a shot at getting their signature dish on the menu of the award-winning Newbury Pub.

The pub on Bartholomew Street is partnering with West Berkshire Mencap to come up with an eye-catching, and of course, delicious main course for their a la carte menu.  There’s a £1,000 cash prize for the winner and £1 for West Berkshire Mencap every time the dish is ordered by a customer.

All you need to do is email the recipe with clear step-by-step instructions on how it’s prepared and cooked, plus where the ingredients can be sourced locally and all emailed with name, profession and contact number to 

Initial recipes need to be submitted by 30th June. The best three will then be cooked in front of a panel of judges including a TV chef to be announced shortly, Newbury Pub owner Pete Lumber and West Berkshire Mencap CEO Leila Ferguson on Sunday, 8th July.

All finalists will be given some assistance and tips by the Newbury’s head chef Gary Basham on the evening.

Newbury owner Pete Lumber said: “We think this is an innovative way to see what dishes local customers would like to see on our popular menu and hope it will raise funds for West Berkshire Mencap. We like to support local charities and this is a brilliant one that has really won me over with their support for local people with learning disabilities and their families despite limited resources.”

Leila Ferguson added: “We are so grateful to the Newbury Pub for helping us in such a fun way. Pete has a real talent for finding inventive ways of helping the local community and we are lucky he has chosen us as one of his beneficiaries.  Anyone over the age of 16 can enter and be in with a chance of winning the huge £1,000 prize!

“We are very much looking forward to playing the part of Gregg Wallace and John Torode while raising money at the same time.”

Reading, watching, listening to – April

It’s going to be May this week! Not that you’d know by looking out of the window.  You, like me, may be fed up to the back teeth of hearing about GDPR, so I’ve decided to just delete my database and Mailchimp account and won’t be sending out marketing emails anymore! My work blog will still talk about current projects and will offer PR advice, and my inane witterings and updates will stay here.  At the bottom of my marketing emails (long after everyone had stopped reading), I used to talk about what I was reading, watching and listening to. And here it is!


The husband has just bought me a copy of “Coal Black Mornings” by Suede frontman Brett Anderson as he knows how much I love this band. I haven’t told him (my husband, not Brett Anderson), that I read this earlier this month. In one sitting.

Screenshot (145).png

It is a beautifully-written autobiography about Anderson’s pre-fame days, before Suede won any Mercury Prizes and before the release of Dog Man Star, one of my favourite albums of all time. Far from being the posh boy I thought he was, he grew up in dreadful poverty on a council estate with eccentric parents.

Anderson calls it a “book about failure” but it is far from it. It explains everything about their music and their raw, blistering lyrics. There’s no romance or luxury here and when you read about Anderson’s upbringing it explains Suede’s gritty, real lyrics and the classical undertones to their music. It is this incredible musicality that drew me to them in the first place – I remember hearing So Young when I was in sixth form and feeling blown away. As a huge misfit myself, this was a band that I could identify with. Their first two albums are a major part of the soundtrack to my life and they were the first band I ever saw live. He is a phenomenal frontman – so energetic and passionate. And so beautiful….


I came across The Good Place on Netflix by accident and stayed as it has the always-brilliant Ted Danson as the architect of the afterlife and Kirsten Bell, she of the voice of Anna in Frozen in a brightly-coloured afterlife.   Eleanor Shellstrop dies and owing to a mix-up (they think she was a human rights lawyer), turns up in the Good Place in error. What I didn’t realise until a few episodes in is that this ‘Son of a Bench’ was getting a ‘forking’philosophy lesson. (You can’t swear in the Good Place).


There’s a twist at the end of series one that you’ll see coming, but The Good Place is the first time I’ve ever seen a comedy that has moral philosophy at its heart.  Eleanor is a self-centred, terrible person, but you’ll love her and admire her for trying to get better. Moving into series two, Eleanor has become inspiring. Though she isn’t perfect, she’s fascinating and has inadvertently inspired me to be a better person too.

Listening to:

Emily Barker

Let me know what you’re reading, watching, listening to! @newburymummy

Athena – what’s on May -June



Making a good impression is integral to networking and is one of the subjects of the next month’s Athena Network meetings gs for West Berkshire businesswomen.

Speakers for May and June include Rachel Maunder, the ‘Mindshift Mentor’ who will be discussing the ‘power of speaking as part of your business promotion’ and will be offering tips on writing and delivering a presentation at the Hungerford meeting that takes place on Friday May 11th at Audley Inglewood.

The Thatcham meeting takes place on Tuesday May 15th at The Regency Park Hotel, Thatcham where Victoria Lochhead of Frankie & Ruby will be offering tips about personal style.

The Newbury Central meeting takes place on Wednesday May 16th at Arigato, Newbury; Jodie Green, tax accountant at Wilkins Kennedy will be offering expert advice on tax.

The Newbury West meeting takes place on Thursday ​June 14th at T​he Red House Marsh Benham where Lara Lauder, Presence, Impact and Image Consultant will be discuss how to ensure you and your business create a positive first impression.

Debbie Miles runs the four West Berkshire groups and said: “At the Athena Network we pride ourselves on the quality of our speakers and the relevance of the topics to supporting our members’ business and personal development.”

All meetings take place from 12pm to 2pm and visitors are always welcome but must book in advance.



Cornish Chocolate maker Chocolarder launches its crowdfunding campaign!

Artisan chocolate maker Chocolarder is launching a crowdfunding campaign for a factory expansion including a unique community hub in Porthleven which will be the only location in Cornwall where confectionery lovers can see world-class chocolate being made from scratch.

Chocolarder, based in Ponsanooth, near Falmouth, is a bean-to-bar producer making chocolate from start to finish. Currently, Chocolarder is just one man in a cold concrete production space in a Cornish valley but it’s hoped the crowdfunding campaign will raise the £30,000 required to equip a new factory to keep pace with growing markets. The money raised will also help founder Mike Longman to refurbish an antique Victorian cacao roaster to accommodate the increasing demand for fine quality, ethically-produced chocolate.

Once complete, the new facility will be a real destination for chocolate lovers, hosting a café and space for chocolate workshops and events.

Mike founded Chocolarder in 2012 and since then has won acclaim and a loyal fanbase for his exquisite premium chocolate range with unique ingredients ranging from sea buckthorn to wild gorse plus gold, frankincense and myrrh! Chocolarder currently supplies selected farm shops and delicatessens across the West Country as well as high-end retailers Harrods and Selfridges.

The larger production facility will enable Mike to keep up with the growing demand for his products. Additionally, Mike will be able to share his passion and knowledge of the growers, the entire chocolate-making process and its health benefits when produced correctly.

The crowdfunding campaign will get underway at midday on 14th March at

where donors can enjoy exclusive gifts and experiences such as tours, corporate events and products ranging from just £10 to £5,000.

Prior to launch, the campaign has already drawn the attention of judges in a competition supported by Crowdfunder, Go Daddy, Exporting is Great and Capital IFX, and has won £1,000.

Donors can get exclusive access to Mike’s ever-expanding range of experimental products and other rewards include:

  • An invitation to the launch party which is scheduled for July and will include a hog roast and of course, Chocolarder chocolates, for £40 a head
  • A hot chocolate and a personal thank you from Mike at the new café for £10
  • A feast night with three-course meal with Mike and also Chris Eden, the first Cornishman to be awarded a Michelin star for £100 per head
  • An exclusive Chocolarder subscription giving you three bars through the post every month for a year for £150
  • An exclusive surfboard with other Chocolarder merchandise for £1800


You can also buy the opportunity to name the new roaster for just £1,000 and you’ll also be the person who uses the machine for the very first cacao bean roasting!

Mike said: “This next chapter is a giant step for Chocolarder.  My intention was to create a product based on the principles that have always been at the heart of great food – unadulterated enjoyment without compromise. We are genuinely thrilled to be able to open up the workshop so that people can see and feel a part of the amazing work we are doing, by bringing chocolate-making back to an artisan level and bringing about a revolution in its production!”

Chocolarder is proud of its strong ethical principles and all aspects of the business are run as sustainably and ethically as possible.  Mike is committed to buying raw ingredients at above-market prices and shipping both the raw and finished product with minimal impact on the environment. Packaging is 100% plastic free and is completely recyclable.

Mike added: “We are so grateful for all the support that we’ve had from our incredible community of luxury chocolate lovers. We often say that our customers feel like friends more than strangers and we’d love to involve even more people to share in our next adventure!  By crowdfunding this way, we hope to remain true to the qualities of our business that make it so special. Come and join us!”


Launch of Ridgeway Nutrition!

You could be forgiven for being confused by the massive array of diet options available at the moment – there’s keto, paleo, GI and the juice diet to name just a handful.

It can be hard to know where to start and which nutrition plan is best for you. To guide people through the maze, Flick Lucas, a West Ilsley-based mother-of-two, has set up a new specialist nutrition consultancy called Ridgeway Nutrition for anyone wanting to get help and guidance on being healthier.

Passionate about good food and healthy eating, Flick is a Diet and Nutrition Adviser registered with the International Association of Holistic Therapists and the Complementary Medicine Association. She knows all about being too busy to find the time to cook, let alone to prepare healthy meals. With a career in IT that meant an early commute to London, returning late at night, she realised that her health was suffering.

When her two children were born, she decided not to return to her demanding job and looked to her passion for food as a career option.

Flick is able to provide a range of services for anyone who wants to overhaul their eating habits, whether that’s embracing veganism, giving up refined sugar or even avoiding Palm Oil. Her specialist plans include a nutrition ‘reboot’ programme, dietary guidance for toddlers and young children; three-month weight management programmes and nutrition tune-up packages and cookery classes.

She also can help new mothers and mothers-to-be who she says can be ‘bombarded’ with conflicting information about what to eat.

She said “I realised that healthy eating doesn’t have to mean denying yourself and I can show you how to reach your goals in a balanced, healthy way. Whether this is losing weight, adjusting to a new diet due to medical reasons or allergies, or just being more mindful about the food you eat. Eating healthily doesn’t mean your food has to be bland!”

Flick, who wants to spread the message of healthy eating, has already approached her local school and offers healthy cooking as part of an after-school club.

She said: “I can also help with animal welfare concerns and give advice and guidance on how to eat more sustainably or if you want to pick a more specialised diet such as pescatarian.

“On some diets, it’s often difficult to find a source of nutrients such as protein I can advise on making things that contain these nutrients, as sometimes people will hear from the doctor that they need to lower their cholesterol, that they’re actually intolerant to dairy or have an iron deficiency. It may be even as simple as someone wanting to reduce the cost of their weekly shop, yet stay healthy.

Potential clients can book an initial nutritional assessment costing £50 where Flick can assess BMI and basal metabolic rate. Clients complete a seven-day food diary to get the complete picture of what their intake of calories, protein, carbohydrate, fat, fibre, caffeine, alcohol, and all vitamins and mineral looks like so that Flick can personalise a three-month plan.

She added: “For a small extra charge I can come and guide you through preparing healthy meals in your kitchen and support you staying on track. I can work closely with clients to not only give them a personalised plan but show them how to cook the meals without breaking the bank or taking up loads of time.  What works for one person may not necessarily work for another.”


For more information, click onto