Who needs New York when one resides in Newbury?

To be honest, one has been feeling a tad glum of late.  Things have not been going too well for me work wise, however I’m all about positive thinking and looking at the bright side of life.  I’m also into reading positive quotes and  poetry of which I can identify with and generally doing everything I can to keep my pecker up.  I’ve taken to writing a journal, and am having a bit of therapy to get any negativity out of my mind and must say this really helps.  Whilst maintaining a positive stance, I decided to seek the positives in the home town that I reside in,  as all too often we can become consumed with gloom.  I hope that this will be useful for any one visiting or just a general reminder to my neighbours!

Here we go then, in no particular order.

1- The Racecourse.  I’m no expert on racecourses, but I believe it to be a decent course.  I certainly have a jolly good time whenever I go.  I tend to go racing maybe three or four times a year.  I’ve got a good mate who invites me to her box, and I get very merry on the endless champers.  I love a day at the races, never win anything but it’s a good craic.

2-The Corn Exchange. I love this little theatre, I prefer going to the cinema here too, it’s much more intimate, and you can take a glass of vino in with you.  I’ve been to many a production here, and the Pantomimes are hysterical at Christmas.

3-Highclere Castle.  It’s stunning and full of Downtown Abbey charm.  Events happen here all the time.  Its wonderful for the odd tour, also it’s a fabulous Wedding venue.

4-The Vineyard Hotel.  I of course have to mention this place.  The hubster runs it, one of the most special places to dine, with the most amazing wine list.  The bedrooms are luxurious, service is sublime.  If they don’t get a michelin star this year, then I’ll be well miffed. The afternoon tea is awesome too.

5-The Woodspeen. Another lovely place to eat.  Michelin starred, but very relaxed whilst being high end at the same time.  One of the best steaks I’ve eaten demolished by moi recently.  Really like this place, plus there is a cookery school too.

6-The Walks.  There are plenty of local country walks, from The Chase at Woolten hill, to Snelsmore Common, to The Ridgeway. Great for the canine babies.

7-Golf.  We seem to have an abundance of Golf courses.  Donnington Valley is one of the best, but seriously there are loads to suit all budgets.

8-Spas. Again The Vineyard hotel and Donnington Valley both have lovely Spas where one can chill and luxuriate one.

9-Shopping.  Well, this is a tricky one, as our Town centre is a bit of a patchwork.  There are a few nice shops and chain restaurants, but also a few dire ones.  It’s probably best if you’re going to venture into Town to park at The Parkway end.  We have the usual favourites plus some goodish coffee shops.  Waterstones has been revamped and worth a little pop into for a coffee and a flick through some pages.

  • 10-Must say I’m struggling now! But Angelica’s Terrace in Camp Hopson, Newbury’s main department store is worth a little jaunt to.  It’s recently been refurbished and sells coffee, teas, Proscecco and Artisan products amongst other things. The furnishings are very glam, it’s quite lovely and you can sit Al fresco on the terrace and look across lovely Newbury!

Ten great reasons to stay at The Berkeley….

Last weekend the fam and myself treated ourselves to a petit getaway.  Due to dwindling funds caused by monster school fees, tutoring, paying for offspring’s post exam trauma holidays, a petit, petit minibreak most certainly had to be the order of the day.  So we decided upon an over night stay at The Berkeley and had the most amaze balls time.  Here’s why….

  1. Welcome- what a welcome, door men and reception staff deserve special kudos for their unbelievable attention to detail.  Extremely helpful with parking, rooming, knowledge etc etc.
  2. Floristry – quite simply the most beautiful flowers I’ve seen anywhere and they were everywhere ( girlie thing I know).
  3. Corridors- newly being refurbished, very swish, chic and full of grooviness.
  4. Lifts- very cute with a little sofa in them which my son took full advantage of.
  5. Bedrooms- love, love love….beautifully spacious      we had two connecting which we just left open and wandered about with a lovely lounge in the middle.  Nice touches, very cute goodie bags for the children, biscuits, macaroons, fruit and the all important champers    ( thank you muchly).
  6. Showers- I can only say that I’ve waited 43 years to have the best shower, oh my goodness you nailed it.  (Mention must also go to the peppermint toiletries that made parts of me tingle that I thought were dormant).
  7. Swimming pool- I did not hit the Gym or Spa but had two great swims.  Beautiful luxuries, perfect temperature, perfect size…    ( think the roof opens in the Summer), loved the little garden. Loved the teas handed to you as soon as you get out of the pool.  Fab robes and slippers, felt like a Greek Goddess swimming and padding around.  Read some great articles and found three new people to follow on Twitter.  Overall mind and soul top nourishment marks.
  8. Location- sadly did not dine in the hotel, we braved the Gorgeous English weather, and popped out for a light lunch, went to Soho for dinner. Harrods literally was a few minutes walk away, we took the children to look at all the things that if they study really hard, they may be able to afford one day. This  Actually has given my son a real kick, and he’s been  studying since we got back relentlessly so very educational me thinks.  Basically the location of The Berkeley is extremely convenient and when sadly finally departing, if driving literally you are out on the motorway really quickly.
  9. Good nights sleep- beds, pillows, duvets all wonderfully helpful in giving me a dreamy night of catching up on my sleep.  Next day the bags under my eyes had reduced significantly ( my eye bags are designer – just saying).
  10. Breakfast- for me the highlight.  Best buffet I’ve seen, loved it loved it.  My omelette was amazing, loved the fact I could see Pierre Koffman in the kitchen actually prepping with his chefs and cooking.  Bravo for breakfast! Those flowers again…..

I loved my stay, cannot wait to go back again maybe in the Summer.  Want to test out Marcus Waring’s culinary offer and swim with the roof off! I also picked up a bargain coat from Zara which was a real added bonus… 

   
                 

The Vineyard at Stockcross.

  • I know, I know what you’re all gonna say.  You’re reviewing the gaff where your hubby works.  Well yes I am, but dearies I have always loved the Vineyard from when my former colleague David Sharland was Head chef.  I literally live 6 minutes away but associate The Vineyard with sanctuary. Over the years the quality and consistency has always been on par from the rooms to the food.  Let’s talk about wine, well the owners are wine makers too and the Michael family vineyards in California produce award winning and to die for wine.  The hotel boasts stunning wine, unrivalled food, non stuffy service.  The service in fact is non intrusive with a sprinkle of just right humour.  This adds to the overall feeling that the team on site are genuinely delighted to be with one another. I believe The Vineyard is entering a very exciting new era.  Service is bang on, business is booming and the golden gem of a brand new head chef in the form of Robby Jenks is just the ticket.  I had the pleasure of tasting the new Spring Menu last week, and for me frankly the food is the best I’ve tasted.