Tag Archives: The Wokingham Paper

Nellie Knows – The Wokingham Paper – 15 May

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This was previously published in The Wokingham Paper on 15 May 2015

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Another week has flown by and it’s now only a week until half term and the late May Bank Holiday, here’s hoping that the weather is clear, dry and bright for everyone’s plans. I do like it when a new month starts on a Monday however unlike a diet the month carries on! June isn’t far away and is wedged between the month of Bank Holidays and the manic month of end of term activities and the start of the summer holidays. I don’t want to wish the year away but we’re nearly halfway through and I know I am turning into my grandmothers when I say I have no idea where the time has gone!

In the garden

I do know where the time has gone as I have been in the garden when time permits, however I do lose track of time and was in the garden so late one evening last week that I didn’t realise how dark it had got until I walked back into the house. There I was busy untangling the clematis and attempting to train it along the top of the trampoline (as useful and fun as they are they are ugly so I am hoping for it to be covered with pretty pink flowers) not noticing that it had got much darker and considerably cooler! The apple tree is full of blossom this year, maybe this is the year we have a good crop of apples!
Health and wellbeing

We normally go to France in the May half term but our friend is undergoing treatment for brain tumours so it will be too much, but all is not lost as I will be flying out to Bordeaux for a few days next month to hold her hand. When Charch my schoolfriend and the inspiration for my bonkers Husky Trail was very poorly we used to turn up in Cardiff with gifts and she particularly liked the knitted bed socks and Niki McGlynn’s Warming Balm so I will be taking some of that for Mme Cholet. I’ll also be taking some Dairy Milk because that’s her absolute favourite, but I wont be eating it as I must knuckle down with my training for my Husky Trail.

Sledging and sleeping in the snow

I can’t believe I have signed up to go on a Husky Trail in Norway next March because I am not what you would call a natural camper, I don’t like being cold and to be honest as lovely as huskies are they are not my favourite so it’s going to be a challenge. Why am I going then? Well, my schoolfriend Charch died last year and in her last few months she was an inspiration to us all, so I am going to Norway for a week without creature comforts and WIFI to raise awareness of the HeadSmart campaign and The Brain Tumour Charity. All joking aside I am really looking forward to it!

Telly

Having said last week that I didn’t watch much telly I seem to have had a telly overload recently and even carried on watching some Teen Beach movie that the children were watching when they walked out of the room. I’ve been glued to Home Fires and practically jumped out of my seat squealing when my cousin came on the screen. I also shot out of my seat watching Enfield Haunting, but I still watched it. I’ve got a big huge pile of ironing to get through and have a load of stuff on the planner so I will look forward to that. No really I will!

Food and drink

I met up with my friend Naomi Slade the Horticultural Journalist and author of The Plant Lovers Guide to Snowdrops last week over at The Blackbird Cafe in Bucklebury where we enjoyed a fair few coffees and a cake, she kindly gave me a bottle of Dr Grandad’s Apple Juice which is delicious and went down very easily. I have also been making cakes for my hungry lot and as I always take one in to the studio when I am on BBC Radio Berkshire I have been making lots of lemon drizzle and chocolate cake. The children often ask me to make Welsh Cakes so out comes the hot stone and as quickly as they are made they children devour them. I now know why my mother in law bakes when there’s no one else in the house!

Out and about

I have really enjoyed seeing lots of photos on Social Media of people’s walks and bluebell woods. There really is no other smell like it and the sight of the bluebells is enchanting. I have also been plotting our NGS and National Trust visits, I do love nosing around gardens and old houses, but for me there’s no place like home!

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Nellie Knows – The Wokingham Paper :8 May 2015

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This was previously published in The Wokingham Paper on 8 May 2015

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As I have said before I do love May with its Bank Holidays and this past weekend has been a crazily busy weekend not just for us but countless other families as they enjoyed a 3 day weekend. We didn’t get to the May Fayre this year what with one thing or another but I heard it was good and the weather was brilliant. Let’s hope we have a dry spell for the next Bank Holiday and half term! We were glued to the telly on Saturday following the arrival of the new Royal Baby, Princess Charlotte looked so gorgeous in the photos. I’m certainly not broody and I don’t envy anyone who has a newborn with broken nights as I love my sleep so much, but I do love a cuddle with a baby. Thankfully a friend had a baby on Thursday so I can have a cuddle and then hand him back. I try and have an early night at least once a week which is my way of recharging the batteries and also gives me the chance to read without interruption.

Books
I’ve got a massive pile of books to review which include If You Go Away by Adele Parks, Yellow Room by Shelan Rodger, The Silent Hours by Cecsa Major and M. D. Murphy’s Dark River Melody. I love reading and once I get started I struggle to put it down. I’ve thankfully passed my bookworm habits onto my children who all enjoy reading and one of them was the inspiration for the name of a character in Christina Jones’ Love Potions so that book is always going to be special. Whilst sorting out a box that had been in the back of a cupboard until recently I found the Jilly Cooper books we all read at school as teenagers, as well as Shirley Conran’s Lace!

In the garden
A few weeks ago I had great plans for one of my borders but now that everything is flowering I will leave it and just remove the dandelions and nettles, I will have to get to the dandelions before the children do as their seeds are the last thing I want anywhere near my garden! I really do relish being in the garden and like nothing better than a cup of coffee outside first thing, with the lovely weather it has been so nice to sit outside in peace knowing that as soon as someone stirs then the rest of the house will follow. Breakfast is the loudest meal of the day in our house and every week my lot change their mind about what cereal they actually like, but thankfully they all like fruit so we have heaps of it in a bowl as well as frozen blackberries we picked from various hedgerows last autumn which I throw into a smoothie or yoghurt or make into a summer pudding or crumble.

Telly
Speaking of hedgerow fruit leads me nicely onto Home Fires and Jambusters, I see that Jambusters by Julie Summers is the No 1 bestseller in Women’s studies on Amazon which makes me hugely proud. We enjoyed the first episode and are looking forward to the next 5 Sunday evenings as the plot unfolds, the cast is amazing and the location is Cheshire where a branch of my family live so I have a certain fondness for it. I’ve recorded The C Word but will have to find the right time to watch it as a friend who had breast cancer now has brain tumours and it will be rather close to home. I don’t watch much telly but I do enjoy watching reruns and films, we watched Paddington at the weekend which was great fun and if you’ve not seen it then I would recommend it!

Food
Last week I wrote that I would be picking up a box of treats from Wellington Farm Shop one of my favourite farm shops, as well as ingredients that I turned into a tasty birthday meal for my husband I also picked up some Spitfire Cheese and some chilli and lime Cheddar, both had a real kick and it’s no surprise that it’s all gone. I really enjoy cooking and when I eat something out I will then recreate it at home. This week it was Mango Curry which was so easy to make. I fried some onions, leeks, garlic and chicken then in a separate bowl mixed Crème fraîche and mango chutney, added them all together and shoved in the oven (which is now working thanks to Kevin of Domestic Appliance Care and Repair) whilst I cooked the rice and prepared a salad. I made a meringue which I bashed up and added some soft fruits to make Eton Mess. I think it’s safe to say that the meal was well received as there were no left overs! On Sunday I made Lamb Curry with a sauce from Mama Eti’s which is an Indonesian street food company run by an old friend from my Holme Grange schooldays, that also went down well and we will be exploring more of the range over the coming months.

Sport
The football season is over but that doesn’t stop my girls kicking the ball around whenever they can. My youngest plays for Wokingham and Emmbrook Girls U10s and is taking part in the Futsal tournament next month, having just learnt the rules for football I now have to get my head around a different set of rules! She recently took part in an inter school football tournament playing against some of her Sumas team which was great fun for the girls and her school came 3rd. My husband used to play cricket and has been glued to the cricket on the box, however none of the girls have shown any interest in the game but they could be tempted to join their friends for the Friday Club Evening at Hurst Cricket Club for an early evening drink or something to eat, between 6pm and 830pm which runs until the end of July. Maybe we’ll see you there?

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Nellie Knows : The Wokingham Paper : 27 March 2015

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I was thrilled to be asked by the Editor if I would like to be a columnist for The Wokingham Paper, the new weekly paper for Wokingham.  Of course I jumped at the chance!  Here is my first column which was printed on Friday 27 March 2015.  The paper is now weekly and you can pick it up for 50p from shops and newsagents across the Wokingham Borough.

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“It’s a time of new beginnings with a new paper for Wokingham, the clocks going forward, the Easter holidays are fast approaching and gardens all over Wokingham are showing signs of fresh new shoots and lush green grass. What’s not to be happy about?

We really are very lucky living where we do and Wokingham is often quoted as being one of the best places to live. Having lived in the borough all my life I will have to agree. I grew up in Hurst when Dinton Pastures was just fields which subsequently became gravel pits when the aggregate was used for the A329M, now it is a hugely popular country park that attracts heaps of visitors yearly. I moved to Wokingham 25 years ago tempted by the bright lights and by the time I realised the bright lights were infact the level crossing lights it was too late and I’d already put down my roots in the town and it’s where I am raising my family.

The town centre is going through many changes and I would urge you to get involved and have your say. I’m a big fan of independent shops that give a little bit more and I assure you the town IS still open, yesterday I spent 2 hours after school running errands in town and picking up bits, not only did the shopkeepers welcome thecustom they also gave the customers some good old fashioned customer service with a smile. And that to me means a great deal.”

Sport

Popped into John Wood Sports to pick up a stud spanner for one of the girls’ football boots, whilst there they asked about the football teams the girls played for and supported. One of my girls plays for Ashridge Park U14s and one of them plays for Wokingham & Emmbrook U10s and are undeniably proud of their clubs and their achievements. Back in the day girls didn’t play football so it is refreshing to see so many girls getting involved and my husband is often badgered to go into the garden (or next door to retrieve a ball) or the park for the girls to practice their skills.

Books and reading

One of the great pleaures of my childhood was reading. I grew up on a diet of Famous Five and Mallory Towers, then I started reading pony books and the Flowers in the attic series. I still read loads and review books for authors and publishers which has introduced me to many great authors. A number of our local book shops and libraries have author events which are hugely enjoyable and very popular. I regularly keep an eye on Wokingham Libraries, Bookends and Chapter One website and Twitter feeds to see who is coming along and over the coming months I will be arranging a number of events which you will be able to learn more about in this column.
Shopping

One of my hobbies is shopping, not just for buying new things but also finding new things and am often asked where I find things. Quite simply there’s loads of places to look and in supporting local shops I am playing a small part in keeping our town centre alive. Sometimes it might be considered easier to buy something online because it could be cheaper but when you add in the P&P and the time spent finding out how to reclaim your parcel if you are not in then that all takes time. My children often (regularly) complain that I spend too long in shops but I like the personal touch.

Food and drink

According to my friend Fiona I cook like her Welsh Nana cooked, which is opening the fridge to see what’s there and then creating a tasty and wholesome meal for all the family. If she times it right I will send her home with a dish of food for which she is grateful for (funny how she always manages to time it right!). I’m a big fan of slow cooking and have known Netherton Foundry for some years, they have a great range of cast iron cookware which can be found in Robert Dyas as part of the Theo Paphitis SBS selected items. Just this morning I threw in some tomatoes, chopped onion, garlic and carrots together with some mince and seasoning so that by the time the children are home from school or clubs, the homework is done and the kit required for the following day is located I can just lift the lid of the slow cooker and supper is ready.