No more dreary packed lunches; MrsB set to open a new cafe in Faraday Road, Newbury



Newbury’s latest food offering is about to open in the heart of one of the town’s burgeoning business districts catering for corporate lunches, weddings and events and for anyone who enjoys healthy wholesome food.

Emma Benson, who runs Mrs B’s Kitchen, an established local catering company, will be opening a new café in the former Crescent Signs site on Faraday Road site later in November. Mrs B’s Kitchen Café will be open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea six days a week. The ethos is to provide an informal space where people can come and meet and enjoy simple good homecooked food.

The café will seat 30 indoors with further covers outside. The menu will change daily and will cater for a range of dietary requirements including vegetarians, vegans and free from.

Emma said: “The catering kitchen and café are in a warehouse, and everything will be visible and open – it will be like welcoming our customers into the heart of the kitchen itself.

“We will be offering everything from home-made sausage rolls and cakes to salad boxes and simple wholesome food that will sustain you without breaking the bank. Pretty much everything will be made from scratch on site and ingredients are sourced locally where possible. Just as important as the food, will be the fantastic coffee from Extract Coffee in Bristol.

“The menus will change daily, so you’ll be able to see what’s on offer on social media or on the chalk boards outside.”

As well as informal dining, there will be a meeting room that can be hired and a bespoke room for event tastings. The new venture will run alongside ‘Mrs B’s Kitchen’ catering business and will create an additional full-time job and between three to five part-time jobs. Mrs Benson is passionate about employing people that share her love of food and are willing to pitch in throughout the whole business.

She said: “Everyone will be trained in every aspect of the kitchen café and I want it to be a place where my staff can be proud to work.

“There are many capable people out there who don’t necessarily want a stressful career anymore but are looking for a job where they feel part of a dynamic team.  I am looking for high energy, multi-tasking people who enjoy serving delicious food to the public!”

Mrs B’s Kitchen has a minimal waste policy and uses plastic only where necessary.

She added: “As a catering company, we’ve been established for 15 years, growing by personal recommendation and repeat business. We are so excited about opening this new venture in Newbury and the café will open up our food to a whole new group of people, as well as providing a central venue for our existing customers!”

Mrs B’s Kitchen was started when she was asked to provide the canapes for a friend’s party and grew from there. The new business is set to open in November and an official launch will take place shortly after that.

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The Red House and the Castle Pubs raise £1674 for West Berkshire Mencap

The Red House at Marsh Benham and its sister pub the Castle on Oxford Road have so far raised an incredible £1,673.50 for West Berkshire Mencap thanks to almost a year of fundraising initiatives.

A successful comedy night held at the Red House in April was attended by more than 60 people and raised £300 for the charity. Further funds were raised via donations by a special ‘West Berkshire Mencap Dish of the Day’ and other events and incentives.

Events manager Tim Hirst said: “We’ve been proud to support this great local charity and are delighted with the support from our customers in helping support this important work, caring for people with learning disabilities.

“Everyone on the team really gets behind the quizzes and events and we are particularly happy to support a charity based here in West Berkshire.”

Leila Ferguson, CEO of West Berkshire Mencap, said: “We are delighted at the inventiveness and enthusiasm shown by the teams at the Castle and Red House pubs and would like to say thank you to all of their customers who got involved and donated.

“The money raised will support 18 children with learning disabilities to attend West Berkshire Mencap’s “Summer Play Scheme.”


Athena visitors day – come and try women’s networking!

The Athena Network is holding a ‘visitor’s day’ for potential members to come and try out women’s networking at a discounted price.

The visitor’s day takes place at Thatcham meeting at the Regency Park Hotel on Tuesday, 20th November from 12 – 2pm and costs just £20.

As well as structured networking, there’s a light lunch and refreshments hosted by the Athena Network regional director Debbie Miles.

She said: “We are fortunate to have Nicola Lyle from Fired Up Careers as our speaker at this meeting. She’ll be sharing her wisdom on time efficiency and helping us to look at how well we use our time as well as offering tips on how to get more done in our working day.

“With many women juggling work, business and home life, Nicola’s advice will be invaluable!

“If you are looking to increase your customer base, or simply would like the support of other women in business across West Berkshire, you are very welcome to come and tell us about your business and share your passion.”

For more information and to book, contact Debbie via

The countdown to Christmas can now begin! Buttermilk launches a new advent calendar!



Buttermilk Christmas advent calendarWhether you’re looking for a unique advent calendar or a memorable stocking filler, Buttermilk has an array of brand new products to make your Christmas merry and bright!

New for 2018, the Cornish confectioner has launched a beautiful advent calendar that has a serving of delicious fudge behind every door. Each one of the 25 helpings comes in a home-compostable wrapper – not plastic – and will get you into the festive spirit with a Christmas song title printed on the door that you can act out as a charade. There’s even a bonus serving for Christmas morning itself!

The Buttermilk advent calendar is priced at £14.99 and is available from Waitrose, National Trust shops, Amazon, Moonpig, Debenhams plus selected independent retailers.


If you’re looking to make Christmas go with a bang, then Buttermilk has a Cracker presentation box in two sizes.  The larger of the two (300g) is priced at £9.99 and contains Mince Pie, Gingerbread and Rum Hot Chocolate all in compostable wrappers.  These are available from Waitrose, Amazon and selected independent retailers.

A smaller version (150g) is priced at £5.99. These are available at Co-op, Amazon, Debenhams and selected independent retailers.

Additionally, Buttermilk has put together a selection of five Yuletide flavours in one exclusive Christmas Collection (500g), RRP £15 which contains all of the confectioner’s boxes of festive fudge together for the first time. The collection includes 100g of Mince Pie, Bellini, Cranberry & Orange, Gingerbread and Rum Hot Chocolate.

Last year’s selection of Christmas goodies proved so popular that they are also available again for 2018. These include seasonal flavours: Mince Pie, Bellini, Irish Cream, Cranberry & Orange, Gingerbread plus the beautiful best-selling Christmas bauble which is a gorgeous Christmas tree decoration filled with 50g of Buttermilk’s ever-popular Caramel Sea Salt fudge.

The entire Christmas collection is available at



Eating healthily is now a piece of cake thanks to a new book by a West Berkshire author!

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You can now have your cake and eat it too thanks to the launch of an innovative recipe book by inspirational baker Kate Saunders.

She has launched – Cakes with Secret Ingredients from Aubergine to Zucchini. The book draws on her unique expertise and the thousands of cakes she has made through her award-winning business, Blackberry Cottage.

While many people wouldn’t hesitate to put carrot in a cake, Kate’s recipes include incredible combinations such as savoy cabbage and mocha torte to Jerusalem artichoke, mango and lime cake.  There are festive options for Christmas such as sweet potato mince pies and a turnip Yule log plus a Halloween themed turnip and pineapple cake.

There are recipes for everyone – including gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar free, egg-free and vegan options.

Cakes with Secret Ingredients from Aubergine to Zucchini is priced at £24.99 including postage and packaging.

Kate adds: “It would make a lovely Christmas present or stocking filler for the foodie in your life, or a parent who wants to get more veg into their children’s diet!”



Networking for Newbury businesswomen in November



The Athena Network has its final meetings of 2018 scheduled for November before coming back with a bang next year.

The Thatcham group meets on Tuesday, 20th November at the Regency Park Hotel where Nicola Lyle of Fired up Careers will be offering tips on how to work more efficiently and effectively while Athena regional director. Debbie Miles will be encouraging the group to practise their listening skills.

The Newbury Central group meets on Wednesday, 21st November at the Arigato restaurant in Newbury where Tamsin Regnes a MBTI® Certified Practitioner will be demonstrating how differences in people’s preferences for information and decision making can present challenges when working with others.

Attendees will have a better appreciation of the behavioural cues of others, enabling them to adapt and reduce any frustration. In the Networking Training Debbie Miles will discussing the qualities of ‘leading ladies’ .

Debbie Miles said: “With themes concerning effective communication with our colleagues and effective use of time, we aim to help our members develop essential skills for running a successful business.”

Visitors are always welcome to the meetings which meet at midday. Please contact Debbie for an invitation:






Studio 12 Designs brews up a storm with refurbishment of new HQ for LE International

One of Theale’s most prominent and well-loved buildings is enjoying a new lease of life after being bought by an international firm as its new headquarters.

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The Grade II listed Old Brewery building on the town’s high street has sat unoccupied for nearly three years but is now in new hands after being purchased by LE International, who specialise in the distribution of industrial lubricants across the globe.

Claire Tull from Studio 12 Designs was approached by LE International who saw the potential in the building and who wanted to transform it into its international headquarters.  The 2,000 sq ft building was once part-owned by Sir Tom Jones, and also, as its name suggests, spent many decades as Blatch’s brewery. A 14-week refurbishment overseen by Claire in partnership with Frasers Office Interiors has transformed the drab Georgian building into a luxurious head office for the company.

Jackie Clark, general manager at LE International, found Claire through recommendation and invited her to come and see the empty building. Together, they worked on creating a plan to restore the building’s character and accentuate its Georgian architectural features whilst making it a modern hub for a busy, international company.

Jackie said: “We wanted to give the building back its beauty while still remembering that it is an office and not a residential property.  Claire listened to what we wanted to achieve and then provided us with ideas on lighting, furnishings and colour schemes which incorporated our company colours.”

Claire added: “It was a little unloved after all this time, but we could see that it had the potential to be a fantastic head office thanks to its location and room for the team of six, with more space for new staff when required. The building wasn’t in bad condition all things considered and retained its stunning entrance hall and staircase, but it needed to be brought up to the standards required by an international company. The finish and decor were very basic, not in keeping with the Georgian heritage and not up to the standards required in terms of lighting and data cabling provision.”

Claire began by working on the colour scheme to reflect the company’s ethos and branding, plus listing all the work that needed to be carried out. The first job was to install the CAT6e cabling as arranged by Frasers and strip out the kitchen and toilets. The Painting Partnership team replaced the lighting, upgraded electrics and plumbing installed the new kitchen and toilets and thoroughly redecorated inside and out. Fine Design Flooring replaced all of the carpets to the offices and public areas and walnut Karndean to the toilet accommodation. After gaining Listed Building Consent the front and back doors could be painted a different colour, the ugly shutters removed and the secondary glazing replaced.

Claire added: “While we wanted to retain the Georgian heritage, it was also important that it was modern, not a museum piece so we combined contemporary with traditional. You’ll see that while the magnolia walls are out, the original coving, plasterwork and woodwork are very much in. Key also to the look was to replace the dreadful strip lighting with energy efficient LED down lights that can be dimmed. More traditional light fittings sourced from Elstead Lighting and Vaughan Lighting were used for the public areas and the chief executive’s office.

The sash windows also needed to be refurbished as many had been painted shut, now they can be opened to allow natural ventilation which is very important. The original secondary glazing was flimsy and totally impractical. Working with Selectaglaze, and the Windsor Box Window Company, the windows are now the stand-out feature of the bright façade.

Once the building was ready, Claire worked closely with Nick Clark, director at Frasers Office Innovation who provide a one-stop shop for business needs. His company’s role was to provide the Verco furniture and to assist staff with the move.

He said: “I like to visit to get a real understanding of each company’s bespoke requirements and it was immediately apparent that moving to this magnificent building was not your ordinary office move. There was no budget mentioned and the choice of the interiors needed to be of a quality to match the building.

“We arranged for the networking of the telecommunications first and organised a relocation of the existing business at a time to suit the client. We ordered the office furniture from Verco with a six-week lead time.”

Finally, the finishing touch was the splendid Thai Sapphire blue front door with polished brassware which has been attracting comments since it was painted.

Jackie was delighted with the results and the move into the new office has fitted smoothly around work commitments.  She added: “Claire has achieved a stunningly beautiful office, she has highlighted the original features of the building and the building now has a calm, relaxing feel about it making it a pleasure to work in.”

Claire added: “The building now has a sense of calm as well as splendour. It’s supremely well-designed and built; the interior is cool during summer and warm in winter. The last thing we did was to power wash the inner courtyard which was very much neglected but has now been restored to its former glory, making a lovely place for LE International staff to enjoy a well-earned quiet moment.

“The whole project has been a real team effort and we’d also like to thank Blind Fashion, Adby Interiors, Whitehead Designs and Infinity Blinds for their fabulous contribution to the new jewel in Theale’s crown.”

For more information, click onto www. and


Athena news for Oct/Nov


The power of collaboration is the theme of the next month of meetings for West Berkshire’s Athena Network.

The Thatcham group meets on Tuesday, 16th October at the Regency Park Hotel. Gina Balarin of Verballistics and author of The Secret Army is the speaker, plus Athena regional director Debbie Miles will be encouraging visitors to think about how they can increase their ‘social capital’ with all the people they work with.

The Newbury Central group meets on Wednesday, 17th October at Arigato in Newbury where Cristina Barton of Cristina Barton Photography will be discussing how to create visual content for social media, on a budget. Debbie Miles will be talking about how to realise the potential of ‘who knows who’ in a networking event.

The Newbury West group meets on Thursday, 8th November at The Red House in Marsh Benham where Simone Bonnett of the Social Managers will be demonstrating ways to improve LinkedIn profiles and Debbie Miles will be discussing The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey.

The Hungerford group meets Friday, 9th November at Audley Inglewood Kintbury where Charlotte Riley of Being Truly Me will be explaining why businesses need a blog.

Debbie Miles said: “The focus this month is very much on the collaborative nature of our women’s networking events and also how we can get the most from our social media presence”.

All meetings take place from 12pm to 2pm and visitors are always welcome but must book in advance by contacting Debbie via


Make your own bespoke perfume with Uncommon Scents!


When it comes to bespoke fragrances, it doesn’t need to be just the likes of Kylie Minogue and Beyoncé who have all the fun.

While it can cost literally thousands of pounds to create a personalised bottle of perfume, Berkshire-based beauty therapistJanette Hammond from Uncommon Scents can help those who would like to create something special on a more modest budget. She is launching regular flagship scent events in association with the Perfume Studio, which will be held at Malmaison Hotel in Reading, starting on Saturday, 6th October.

Janette will guide you through the world of bespoke perfume and the 21 fragrance blends designed by the Perfume Studio’s Master Perfumier.  Guests will learn about the different ingredients, top notes, middle notes and base notes and how to structure a lasting fragrance.  Not only do you get the chance to make your own perfume – which you can take home in a presentation bottle or atomiser – but you’ll also have the fun of naming it too!

Since setting up her own business, Janette has helped hundreds of people to make their own scent, whether it’s a bride creating a signature scent for their wedding day, a bride-to-be wanting a fun and unusual hen party activity, or a mother and daughter making something special for a birthday. When her sons presented her with a birthday voucher for a perfume-making workshop back in 2008, she realised very quickly that this was her vocation. She trained with the Perfume Studio almost immediately after her workshop and now is one of only a handful of perfume stylists covering the south east.

Janette said: “Our workshops are fun, interactive and informative. You’ll learn a little about the fascinating history of perfume, our sense of smell and how important it was to our survival, how perfume became the massive business it is today and also hear some of the stories behind some of the current perfumes we know and love.

“You’ll find out about the way smells are extracted from fruits, roots, petals, plants and bark, but also why synthetics have an important part to play.”

The workshop takes place at 10.30 on Saturday 6th October at Malmaison Hotel, Reading and costs from £39 per person. For 2019, workshops start at 11am and take place on Saturday 19th January and 27th April.

Cheers! Buttermilk and Pinkster Gin launch Pink Gin Fudge!

Buttermilk and Pinkster pink gin launchFudge fans will be in the pink to hear about the launch of an exciting new flavour from Cornish confectioner Buttermilk.

The family-run firm has joined forces with Pinkster Gin to create a sharing box of crumbly fudge, flavoured with gin-soaked raspberries.

Pinkster founder Stephen Marsh has long been a Buttermilk fan having visited the well-known Padstow shop as a child in the 1970s while on holiday. Years later, by happy coincidence, Buttermilk approached the Cambridge-based gin connoisseur, suggesting that their inebriated British raspberries, known as Boozy Berries, would be a fabulous addition to the range.

Tracy McDonnell Goad, director of Buttermilk, said: “Fudge and gin is a match made in heaven, making it two treats in one, so we are delighted to collaborate with another craft producer to create this scrumptious indulgence.

“The famous Pinkster raspberries have given the fudge a beautiful fruity flavour and everyone who has tasted the fudge so far, agrees with Stephen that it evokes lazy summer days on holiday on the Cornish coast!”

The 150g sharing box retails at £3.99 and is exclusively available at Waitrose.