Weekly Newsletter

Penny Post
Penny Post Weekly Newsletter Dec 21-28 2017
Local News  

this week includes cascading trains, vanishing angels, celestial turnips, business rates, flood defences, a peek in the NWN’s letterbox, business rates retention, Citizens Advice in peril, road and railway travel, Sandleford (again) and Thames Valley Police’s league-table position

Local Events – see below
Local Activities

• Looking for New Year’s resolution inspiration? There is something for everyone in our Guide to January Courses.

• Nightingale Fitness are holding their first ladies Health & Fitness Retreat 12-15 January which includes lovely accommodation, ten fitness sessions, healthy cordon bleu meals and helpful seminars. A chance to unwind and look after yourself.

• Free Public Speaking Workshop with the Newbury Speakers Club 1.30-3.30pm Sat 20 Jan at Newbury Museum.


• Joel Loader in Kintbury recommends Orange Key Architects in Hungerford “A very enjoyable experience working with the Orange Key team. It’s unusual to have access to this range of expertise in a single practice. The way they adapted our home has improved the way we live as a family. Highly recommend.”

• Joyce Marques recommends The Swan in Great Shefford“One of the exceptional family pubs in the area.”

• Can anyone recommend someone who can service an Aga? If so, please contact caroline.bayly@hotmail.com.


Penny Post 2017 Quiz – win a meal and room for two at the lovely Queens Arms in East Garston. Entry deadline: Fri 12 Jan

Local Jobs

See the Penny Post website for local jobs including:

Pastoral Support Assistant, Hungerford • Facilities Officer, Hungerford • Customer Service Advisor, Marlborough • Chef, Froxfield • Care Assistant, Froxfield • Swimming Instructor, Hungerford (closes 31 Dec) •  Duty Manager for Leisure Centre, Hungerford (closes 31 Dec) • Carer for disabled teenager, Hungerford  • Homecare Staff, throughout the area • A range of catering and hospitality career opportunities, Chilton Foliat • Volunteer AONB Ambassadors, throughout the area • Volunteer Co-responders, throughout the area.

Friendly and organised student looking for holiday work. Flat rate of £9 per hour for any work. Available 28/29 Dec and 4-7 Jan. Please contact Tom Shaw Stewart (21 years) at tshawstewart@gmail.com 01488 648 829 or 07780 588 542.

Local Businesses 

Animals & Agriculture • Automotive • Business Consultants • Family Life •  Food & Drink •  Health, Beauty & Wellbeing • House & Garden • Legal & Finance • IT, Media & Web • Visual & Performing Arts • Retailers • Travel & Tourism • Tuition & Training

Please support the businesses which support Penny Post!

Road & Travel News

• For the latest disruptions on the M4 visit this website (there are various roadworks in the J12 to J14 Junction area which will result in closure of some or all lanes).  M4 westbound carriageway will be closed from Junction 12 (Theale) to Junction 13 (Chieveley) from 9pm TONIGHT till 6am Friday morning.

• Connect bus timetable for Newbury, Thatcham and West Berkshire over Christmas and New Year.

• MP Richard Benyon has been banned from driving for six months for texting in heavy traffic in London. You get six points for that now. A warning to us all. According to nopenaltypoints.co.uk if you are sat in the driver’s seat of a vehicle with the engine running you are considered to be in charge of a vehicle so the penalties that apply to using a mobile while ‘driving’, apply to you – even if you are pulled into a lay-by.

• “The satnav says we’re going the wrong way,” my son Adam told me on the way to pick up a friend from Heathrow yesterday (we obviously didn’t need the map to get to Heathrow, we were just checking google for road congestion updates). “It must be wrong” I laughed…until we passed a sign to Junction 15.  How embarrassing. I had obviously taken the wrong turning onto the M4 at Junction 14. Actually it all worked out fine because the flight was delayed by over two hours so it was easy to pop back home for a bit, in the process avoiding the aftermath of an accident near Reading. My husband Brian was slightly exasperated, believing that this kind of geographical vagueness should have been punished more severely. (Mind you, when it comes to stupid things, click here to see what he did to himself on Sunday…)

• Adam has turned 17 today so we are looking for a driving instructor who can collect him from school in Newbury and let him drive home to East Garston. Please reply to this if you can recommend someone.

• Just had an email in from Steve Smith of the Bedwyn Trains Passenger Group saying that GWR has supplied him with contact details for their senior managers who’ll be on duty from 27 Dec to 2 Jan. If you have an unresolvable problem connected with GWR’s services at this time, or just need to let off a bit of steam, email him on steve@meip.co.uk and he’ll contact the person available on the day.

• All professional lorry, coach and bus drivers are required to have continual CPC skill and knowledge training. This Driver CPC Training is provided locally by Cate at CAE Logisitics based in Lambourn.

Charity Plugs

• Well done to West Berkshire Homeless who are providing not only warm and safe accommodation for rough sleepers in Newbury but helping them find work and permanent housing so they don’t have to go back to the streets. If you are an employer who can give someone a second chance in life please contact Erica Gassar on erica.gassor@googlemail.com 07799 492235

• Thanks to Swindon blogger Angela Atkinson for shouting out about the Swindon Hindu Temple and the community library that they run from their temple in the Cheney Manor estate.

• Volunteer Centre West Berks now has a useful Big List of all the local volunteer opportunities. To apply, fill out this form using the reference number from the list.

• See this week’s Local News for a round of applause to just some of those who’ve raised money for or otherwise supported good causes recently. (If you know of any person or organisation that deserves a mention in this way, let us know.)

• Lots of local treats, tips, good causes and funnies in our sparkly 2017 advent calendar
• Don’t panic – here are some last-minute gift ideas
• Festive discounts on tipples from The Naked Grape including wine, champagne, port, whiskey and gin.
• Homemade Christmas goodies from Baking Around delivered to your door – we just received some totally awesome homemade marshmallows!
• Delicious locally-raised Rooksnest Beef is perfect for the holiday season
Eating Out in December
Last chance to book your festive meals and events at:
• The Queens Arms in East Garston • Blandy’s at Inglewood, Kintbury • The Swan in Great Shefford (fully booked for Christmas Day) • The Harrow at Little Bedwyn • The Wheatsheaf in Chilton Foliat • The Crown & Garter in Inkpen • The Bell at Ramsbury • The Pheasant in Shefford Woodlands • The Bear in Hungerford.Christmas Spirit
• Free wrapping service offered with love at the Kennet Centre in Newbury by Churches of Newbury until 8pm today (Thurs) and 10.30am-5.30pm Fri and Sat. Children’s activities available while you wait.
• Caroline Billington from Newbury started the national Community Christmas campaign after volunteering locally at Christmas and discovering how many elderly people are alone on the day. Meeting new people on Christmas Day can help people find company and friendship throughout the year. Please support them by helping run an event near your or making a financial contribution here
• See end of email below for summary of local Christmas church services
• Why Christmas can be so stressful by Siobhan Nell, Cognitive Hypnotherapist
• 10 Tips for a Mindful Christmas from Sheila Bond at Living Well Mindfulness

Christmas Chuckles
• 12 Rules of Engagement for a Successful Christmas (especially useful if you have belligerent siblings…)
• Christmas as a Scrooge (advice for when the jollity starts to get too much)
• A Christmas Scene (a classic painting robustly re-appraised by ‘the rudest man on television’)
• Important seasonal council information (though we’re not sure from which council)
• Five ways to entertain your children over the holiday (for free)
• A self-serving round-robin letter (from that ghastly woman who just signs herself ‘xxxx’)

• In case your crackers don’t have bad enough jokes, here are some for you:
Why was the snowman looking through the carrots? He was picking his nose.
What did Santa do when he went speed dating? He pulled a cracker.

Why was the turkey in the pop group? She was the only one with drumsticks.

• Did you assume that Santa’s reindeer are male? Rudolph surely? Turns out they must all be female as male reindeer shed their horns in winter and also have much lower body fat, whereas the females can withstand temperatures down to minus 43 degrees Celcius. Some say of course that only females (perhaps not this one given my M4 experience above) would be able to drag a fat old man in a red velvet suit all around the world in one night and not get lost….

• Some New Year resolution suggestions for the mentally and physically lazy from my old school friend Theresa Lancing…

Seasonal Snippets

• Last year we loved making these Mini Christmas Pudding Truffles from an unopened pudding we found in the back of a cupboard. This year we will try them with mincemeat which will hopefully stick together if we mix in enough chocolate…

•  Happy Winter Solstice! Thank goodness today is the shortest day of the year with 7 hours and 49 minutes of daylight and from now on it starts to get lighter again. Why not celebrate with a Winter Solstice Walk at Avebury 2.30-4pm Fri 22 Dec walking through the ancient stones and up to Silbury Hill.• It might be mild today but a cold snap is forecast so here some winter tips about how to walk safely on ice from CPR First Aid trainer Mike Samuels and how to keep warm by the team at Bluebird Care.

• Snippets from Newbury’s Thousand Voices late night Christmas shopping evening last Thursday with local community and school choirs.

• See this week’s Local News for our regular Thursday dash through the stories, newspapers and websites in the area (and sometimes a bit beyond it), including cascading trains, vanishing angels, celestial turnips, business rates, flood defences and a peek in the NWN’s letterbox.

Quick Review of 2017

2017 has been a busy year for us, seeing our 500th newsletter in September and our Best in Business Award in November. We are very grateful for the continued support of our readers, advertisers and contributors.

We love it when Penny Post readers connect with each other. For instance local PR maven Angie Howard spotted our post about Marlborough author Vanessa Lafaye‘s moving blog Living While Dyingand prcoeeded to get Vanessa’s story into the Daily Mail and the Sunday Times. We also love making a difference – for instance when we helped Cards for Good Causes in Hungerford recruit more staff so they could raise more funds for charity and when we posted local woodworker Chris Allen’s appeal for silver birch which was answered by the BBOWT Wildlife Trust.

During the year we have highlighted numerous appeals, consultations and campaigns across the area and examined some issues in more depth in our weekly Local News section and associated posts. We have also promoted a large number of local businesses, large and small, and helped many organisations recruit staff and publicise events – for more on their reactions, please click here.

In January 2017 we launched Penny Post Hungerford, a monthly e-newsletter that covers more details of life in and around the town. This has helped us publicise a number of important and often complex local issues including Salisbury Road, the proposed neighbourhood plan and the future of the library and the post office.

We would like to thank our webmaster Mike Vince and volunteer website updater Alistair Mills for keeping our website running smoothly and we are delighted to have regular contributions from recipes and gardening tips to financial planning and book reviews. We run regular quizzes and competitions and a wide range of humorous articles, short stories and literary parodies.

We’re aware that there are more stories out there than we can research or write ourselves. If there’s anything you would like suggest that we cover or anything that you’d like to submit in 2018, please reply to this email.

This is our last newsletter of 2017 so we wish you a happy, healthy and relaxing Christmas and all the best for 2018.

Please see below for a selection of upcoming local events to look forward to over the next few weeks.

Local Events
There’s a wide range of events and activities on the PP website calendar
Click here for all the Christmas events on our calendar
See end of email below for summary of local Christmas church services.Pantos: Beauty and the Beast at the Newbury Corn Exchange until Sun 7 Jan. Peter Pan is at the Swindon Wyvern until 31 Dec.

Sat 23 Dec

Newbury Market full of festive cheer with choirs and the ‘Best Dressed Stall’ competition.

Sun 24 Dec (Christmas Eve)

Hungerford Outside Market – last chance to get fresh veg, local apple juice and meat.

Tues 26 Dec (Boxing Day)

Boxing Day Meet at Windsor House, Lambourn RG17 8NR. The hounds will arrive at 11.30am and move off at noon. There will be a raffle for a hamper and other goodies. If possible please don’t bring dogs to the meet as it helps to prevent the spread of kennel cough to the hounds. Park in the central car park behind Universal Stores and walk 500 yds up the High Street to the meet. If you would like to come on horse please contact Christina Dunlop on 07968 830 443 / dunlopchristina@hotmail.com for more details

Boxing Day Lunch at The Bear Hotel Enjoy a two- or three-course set menu with smoked salmon and venison.

Thurs 28 Dec

5 Mile Fun Run Meet 10.30am East Garston Village Hall. Mens, ladies & children’s prizes. Prize for the best fancy dress.

Sat 30 Dec

Ghana Gig  7pm East Garston Village Hall – in aid of ATEGhana (based in Ramsbury) which supports families living in poverty in Upper West Ghana.

Sun 31 Dec (New Year’s Eve)

New Year’s Eve at the Swan Inn, Great Shefford. Book a sumptuous meal and party with pop duo Larkin from 8.45pm (free entry). Donations to Great Shefford Primary School
New Year’s Eve at The Bear Hotel in Hungerford – enjoy a five course set menu or buffet.
New Year’s Eve at Blandy’s – enjoy champagne and canapes at in the stately setting of Audley Inglewood.
New Year’s Party at Donnington Grove – enjoy a sumptuous four course meal and dance the night away. £65 per person.

Coming Soon in 2108

Film Night I, Daniel Blake 7.30pm Tues 2 Jan, East Garston Village Hall

Charity Christmas Tree Mulching, Sun 7 Jan, Hungerford High Street. Bring your tree to be chipped by The 41 Club’s Jim Smith for a donation to local charity. Entertainment provided by Rock Choir (starting soon in Hungerford)

Vagina Dialogues 7.30pm Weds 17 Jan, DoubleTree by Hilton Newbury. An entertaining seminar for females over 14 who are non-judgmental, curious, have an open mind – and want to make a difference in the world. If you’ve never been before I highly recommend it!

Pericles – All At Sea Fri 19 Jan East Garston Village Hall. Multistory Theatre return with a tale of

Talking Bollocks Fri 26 Jan, Hungerford Town Hall. For men only. Would you like to create a better relationship with the women in your life? Would you like to understand yourself better? Do you want to have a fun, thought-provoking and inspiring night out? Here are some great testimonials from men who have been before.

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Christmas Eve
Morning Mass
 9am Our Lady of Lourdes, Priory Road
Carol Service 10.30am Methodist Church
Christmas Worship 11am United Reform Church
Crib Service 4pm St Lawrence’s Church
Midnight Service 11.30pm St Lawrence’s Church
Midnight Service 11.45pm United Reform Church (mince pies from 11.15pm)

Christmas Day
Morning Mass 9am Our Lady of Lourdes, Priory Road
Jesus’ Birthday Service 10am St Lawrence’s Church
Christmas Celebration 10.30am Methodist Church – all welcome

St George’s
St Nicolas’s
St Joseph’s Roman Catholic
Newbury Quaker Meeting

Lambourn Valley Benefice (Lambourn, Eastbury, East Garston)
East Garston Quaker Meeting

Ss Peter & Paul
Wantage Community Church

…plus more on the PP website Calendar.

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