Baby steps to better world

Liz Nicholls

Berkshire

Lucy Todd tells us about her journey from journalism to founding sustainable children’s clothing site My Little Green Wardrobe which has just turned one

Within a year, I went from being a mother of two with a steady job (and income), to the owner of an online business start-up in sustainable baby and childrenswear.

I have no background in fashion, sustainability or e-commerce. So what prompted such madness? Well, it started with a pair of wellies.

I learned of the impact the textile and fashion industry was having on the environment in my job at BBC News. The fashion industry is the third-largest manufacturing sector in the world, and one of its most carbon-intensive and polluting. It is also responsible for some of the most appalling working conditions, with child labour and forced labour among the litany of abuses. The change towards fast fashion over recent years has only made these problems worse.

While reducing my clothing consumption was fairly easy (after all, I already had a wardrobe of clothes that fit me), it wasn’t quite so simple for my children. They grow. ALL. THE. TIME.

My Little Green Wardrobe sells only brands that act more ethically than the current norm.

Deciphering the more sustainable brands from those that were greenwashing was hard. It took me a whole afternoon to buy just two products – a pair of wellies and a puddlesuit – from brands I was happy with. I’d gone down so many internet rabbit holes checking a brand’s ethos, where they manufactured, materials etc… Each time, I found the product or brand weren’t as planet-friendly as they made out. Why wasn’t there a website that sold only ethical and more sustainable kids clothing from pre-vetted brands? And when I eventually bought those wellies (from a lovely Swedish brand, by the way), I decided that’s what I’d do.

My Little Green Wardrobe sells only brands that act more ethically than the current norm. I’ve come a long way since buying those wellies, when I felt like I needed a degree in materials science to understand the info some brands were giving. I’ve tried to make sustainability accessible to explain what brands are doing to improve their impact across the supply chain.

And don’t just take my word for it. Whether it’s organic cotton or recycled materials, all the brands I work with are certified, or use materials certified, by third-party organisations that guarantee environmental and social criteria. There is no perfectly “sustainable” item. – we’re looking for progression, not perfection.

What I lack in knowledge, I make up for in passion. And, if in doubt, to fall back on my old journalistic training: to ask questions. That’s what I’d urge you to do of the ethical brands you shop from too. After all, without transparency, there can be no sustainability.

Find out more

To shop My Little Green Wardrobe see their website mylittlegreenwardrobe.com

Summer dining at The Oarsman, Marlow

Karen Neville

Berkshire

The perfect place to enjoy lunch or dinner in the sunshine

The Oarsman, the recently-opened Bistro-pub situated in the riverside town of Marlow is looking forward to welcoming you to enjoy its new outdoor terrace and summer menu.

The Oarsman is a contemporary Bistro Pub & Wine Bar on Spittal Street which serves bistro-style seasonal dishes from the open kitchen and small plates from the charcuterie and larder counter for lunch and dinner.

The stunning new  terrace is now open for drinks, small plates and dining every day which you should be able to enjoy now enveloped in sunshine.

A strong environmental ethos and pledge to support local suppliers where possible will ensure The Oarsman will serve the finest, seasonal produce.

Heading up the kitchen is chef Scott Smith (previously Head Chef at Sugar Boat, Scotland) who has created a menu which honours the very best of British, giving the occasional nod to Scottish and Mediterranean influences and using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients that champion small producers.

Smith’s menu brings his Michelin-starred training to bear – diners can expect elevated bistro-classics such as Potted shrimp, crumpet & pickled cucumber, Trotters, bacon & beef dripping or Moules marinere with fries.

If you like your wine, there’s an extensive list of fine & rare wines, as well as a wide range of wines by the glass.

A strong environmental ethos and pledge to support local suppliers where possible will ensure The Oarsman will serve the finest, seasonal produce.

Find out more

Visit The Oarsman’s website (theoarsman.co.uk) for more details.

Wild Watlington

Liz Nicholls

Berkshire

Nicola Shafer tells us how her love of the natural world led her to the publication of her new book

We are lucky to have beautiful natural local habitats. From our precious chalk grasslands to our rare chalk streams, from the beech woods filled with bluebells and wild garlic, to our ancient hedgerows rich with native species, to old oak trees and meadows, to the gardens and green spaces in the town.

My love of wildlife started as a child, encouraged by my parents and grandparents and a small flowerpress. However it is only since I got involved with the Green Plan, a collaboration between Watlington Climate Action Group and other local groups interested in conservation that I realised how much I didn’t know about ecology. I joined Watlington Environment Group and started to learn the names of flowers, the types of insects, the song of our birds and the importance of our chalk stream. Last year, I acquired a macro lens with which to take better photographs of our local wildflowers, and a whole new world of beauty opened up in front of my eyes. Previously on walks I might notice the flowers in passing but now, stopping to take a closer look the variety, colour, and structure of these wildflowers astounds me. Looking closer you often see that a single flower can be home to various small insects, and a food source or a resting place for a bee or a butterfly.

Thank you to Watlington Library for displaying Eleanor’s artwork from the book in July, and to The Granary Café for hosting an exhibition last month.

Wild Watlington, The Creatures of Watlington Parish is a tour of just some of what can be found on our doorstep. Written as a story book, it is full of information that will be appreciated by young and old alike, as we find out about the habitats that make up our landscape, and the creatures that share it. The book was illustrated by young artist Eleanor Short, who is a Year 8 student at Icknield Community College. Thank you to Watlington Library for displaying Eleanor’s artwork from the book in July, and to The Granary Café for hosting an exhibition last month.

In the last year, with the aid of apps, my grandmother’s guide to wild flowers, and patient friends with more knowledge than me, I’ve been able to learn a fair proportion of the flowers I find on the local hills and verges. In times gone past, we were intimately acquainted with the plants around us – what was edible, what was not, what could be used for a medical treatment, what could be used for warding off evil spirits, and what smelt good when added to bedding. Now most of us don’t even know the names! As a society we have lost so much of this knowledge, but it is worth the effort to reclaim it. Looking closer and recognising the flowers and plants around us bring a greater understanding and connection to our natural world and with it a greater desire to protect and restore it.

Around Watlington my favourite places for wildlife spotting are:

1. The Chilterns way through Greenfield and College Woods is beautiful and I often see deer there

2. Incredible wild flowers can be seen on the chalk grass of the Aston Rowant Nature Reserves

3. The Chalk Pits at the bottom of Watlington Hill is a quiet retreat to listen to birdsong

4. The Paddock behind Watlington Library is beautifully planted with pollinator friendly plants, a great place to spot different types of bees and butterflies

5. Watlington’s historical chalk streams and spring fed ponds such as the Willow Pond and Horse Pond host amphibians, invertebrates, ducks, and occasionally a water vole.

Get your copy

The book is on sale at So Sustainable on Watlington High Street, priced at £5, and limited edition prints are available at wildwatlington.uk

Music to pianists’ ears

Karen Neville

Berkshire

Pianoz.com opens a new flagship store on Maidenhead High Street

High-end piano store Pianoz.com has opened its flagship store on Maidenhead High Street. The new shop in the Old Post Office will add to the extensive retail offering in the area.

Spread across two floors, this new location offers one of the largest displays of high-end pianos in the country. Pianoz.com has around 300 pianos on display, from Steinway, Bosendorfer, and Yamaha to a selection of new digital instruments. Locals can ‘tinkle the ivories’ of exceptional antique and bespoke pianos, instruments of historical significance, and even some from blockbuster films.

Even if you are not buying a piano, you can still visit and make use of these interactive spaces

The flagship store also features a flexible performance space with two Steinway concert grands, practice rooms, a YouTube recording studio and teaching facilities – which are already being used by local community groups. Pianoz.com has plans to host events and masterclasses for local schools, with some of the top concert pianists and pop musicians who have purchased pianos from the brand, as well as lunchtime recitals and other events further down the line.

Pianoz.com owner, Adam Harper said: “We are thrilled to have opened our flagship store on Maidenhead High Street in this wonderful location. For us, this space is more than just a store, the outstanding facilities we have incorporated, such as the practice rooms, YouTube recording studio and teaching facilities mean that even if you are not buying a piano, you can still visit and make use of these interactive spaces.”

Book your visit

Pianoz at the Old Post Office is currently open on an appointment-only basis to give customers one-to-one attention and the opportunity to play the instruments without distraction. Appointments available on 0203 888 0880 or

Cliveden Literary Festival revels speakers

Karen Neville

Berkshire

The stunning Berkshire stately home will once again welcome a wealth of authors for the festival in October

A stellar line-up is being assembled for this year’s Cliveden Literary Festival which returns on October 15th and 16th at the iconic stately house in Berkshire.

This year’s festival features expert panels on Putin’s Russia, chaired by Simon Sebag Montefiore, and Zelensky’s Ukraine, with Serhii Plokhy and Anne Applebaum; Vogue’s editor-in-chief Edward Enninful on his rise to the top of the fashion world; a constellation of all-star novelists on their craft; expanding history’s horizons with William Dalrymple and Peter Frankopan; Succession’s Brian Cox on becoming Logan Roy; and Louise Perry daring to question the sexual revolution.

Renowned as a forum for lively discussion, innovative ideas, and political debate, the Cliveden Literary Festival has been described by Ian McEwan as ‘probably the world’s best small literary festival,’ and by Alain de Botton as ‘the most dignified and beautiful literary festival on the planet’.

Daniel Spiller has reached the finals in the Schwarzkopf Professional Colour Technician of the Year category and now awaits his fate at a black-tie event on November 28th at Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London.

The stylists submitted four photographs each demonstrating the breadth of their hairdressing expertise, showcasing evidence of both technical skill and creative ability. They will now submit a further four images for the final round of judging, which takes place in September.

A stellar line-up is being assembled for this year’s Cliveden Literary Festival

Run by a committee of writers and historians – Andrew Roberts, Natalie Livingstone, Catherine Ostler and Simon Sebag Montefiore – the Cliveden Literary Festival draws on Cliveden House’s unique history as a literary salon frequented by writers and thinkers including Alexander Pope, Alfred Lord Tennyson, George Bernard Shaw, Jonathan Swift and Sir Winston Churchill.

Natalie Livingstone, Chairman of the Cliveden Literary Festival, said: “We’re delighted to announce some of the speakers who will be joining us at the Cliveden Literary Festival this October. As ever, this year’s festival will see our fascinating line-up of speakers discuss – and at times fiercely debate – the most pressing issues of our era.”

Monica Ali • Brian Cox • Peter Frankopan • Edward Enninful • William Boyd • Anne Applebaum • Robert Harris • William Dalrymple • Clarissa Ward • Sebastian Barry • Abi Morgan • Serhii Plokhy • Olesya Khromeychuk • Louise Perry • Jonathan Freedland • Howard Jacobson • Tina Brown • Ben Okri • Mark Galeotti • Julia Samuel • Merve Emre • David Nott • Katy Hessel • Radek Sikorski • Yana Peel • Flora Yuchnovich • Michael Gove • Andrea Marcolongo • Inaya Folarin Iman • Daisy Dunn • Nadhim Zahawi • Robert Hardman • Wesley Kerr • Sam Leith • Joanne Cash • Jonathan Haslam • Mikhail Zygar Harry Mount • Antonia Romeo • Luke Johnson • Albert Read • Octavius Black • Simon Heffer • Andrea Elliott • Lucasta Miller • Alice Thomson • Camilla Tominey • Roy Foster • Wyre Davies • Natalie Livingstone • Simon Sebag Montefiore • Catherine Ostler • Andrew Roberts

More info...

A sell-out success every year, tickets are on sale now clivedenliteraryfestival.org

Marc Antoni’s hair heroes!

Round & About

Berkshire

Senior stylist of Bracknell salon makes headlines with British Hairdressing Awards nomination

If you are a customer of Marc Antoni in Bracknell you know your hair is in good hands – the senior stylist of the Berkshire salon has been shortlisted for a national hairdressing competition.

Now in their 38th year, the HJ’s British Hairdressing Awards 2022, are an annual celebration of excellence, recognising the achievements of stylists from across the country.

Paola Giamattei has reached the finals in the Newcomer of the Year category and now awaits his fate at a black-tie event on November 28th at Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London.

The stylists submitted four photographs each demonstrating the breadth of their hairdressing expertise, showcasing evidence of both technical skill and creative ability. They will now submit a further four images for the final round of judging, which takes place in September.

“This is such a proud moment for us”

Paolo was nominated alongside his fellow Marc Antoni stylist, Daniel Spiller, manager at the Fleet salon who has reached the finals of the Schwarzkopf Professional Colour Technician of the Year category.

“This is such a proud moment for us,” said Daniel. “These awards always bring together such exceptional talent and to see our salon and our names alongside those shortlisted is mind-blowing. This is the third time I have finalised in the colour category so it really is an honour.”
Paolo added: ‘We’d love to bring a trophy or two back to Marc Antoni and hope the judges will recognise the love and hard work that has gone into our collections.”

Jayne Lewis-Orr, Executive Director of HJ’s British Hairdressing Awards said: “Every year, HJ’s British Hairdressing Awards serve as a reminder of the passion, artistry and expertise that this incredible industry has to offer, and it is a privilege to celebrate the talent and brilliance of creative individuals from across the country.

Finalists!

“In reaching the finals, Daniel and Paolo have demonstrated excellence in all areas of hairdressing, and an ability to bring together the magical elements that make a photographic collection stand out from the competition.”

Thame Food Festival bursary winner announced

Karen Neville

Berkshire

Popular food festival runs on September 24th & 25th and this year more than 180 artisan producers are set to take part

Hartley’s Cookery School, based in Haddenham, has been awarded the Thame Food Festival bursary for 2022.

The bursary, reinstalled after sponsorship by Pinkster Gin, was established a few years ago to celebrate and promote newly-formed artisan food business within a 30-mile radius of Thame.

Hartley’s Cookery School aims to offer cookery class and chef table experiences which explore food, why certain ingredients or techniques are used and how to prepare and cook it. While also creating an environment that is fun and appealing for everyone – whatever their ability.

Creating an environment that is fun and appealing for everyone

Simon Hartley, Chef and owner of Hartley’s Cookery School said of the win: “I am delighted to be receiving this bursary and the support of the team at Thame Food Festival. Since opening our doors at Bradmoor Farm in January it’s been amazing to welcome and cook with our first guests at the school. We want to be a community-led business and have so enjoyed building relationships with other food producers and suppliers. Our vision for the school is to share my knowledge and passion for food in a relaxed environment, offering fun-filled courses for all abilities. Whether you’ve never picked up a knife or are a seasoned foodie, there’s something for everyone!”

The bursary includes an award of £1,000, a free pitch at this year’s Thame Food Festival, content in the festival programme, the opportunity to have an interview in the Food Glorious Food marquee and help with PR and social media.

Previous winners have included Ozi Lala, who has gone on to win Great Taste awards for his unique food products and the original winner was Lisa Hartwright of Tess’ Brilliant Bakes. Both of whom are going from strength to strength and still play an active part in the food festival too.

Supporting young businesses that have the same ethics as the festival is an important part of what we try to do

Patron and event co-ordinator Lotte Duncan said: “We are delighted to be in a position to offer a bursary again – thanks to Pinkster Gin. As a Community Interest Company, supporting young businesses that have the same ethics as the festival is an important part of what we try to do. It was such a pleasure to meet Simon and his partner and hear what they are trying to achieve by giving people friendly, fun cookery courses while learning about the provenance of their food.”

What will he spend the bursary on? Simon said: “As we have only been trading for just over five months, we are looking to use the bursary to invest in upgrading our website, signage and professional photography. Plus, use the support of the judges to broaden awareness of us and explore how we can potentially look at supporting initiatives in the community too.”

Find out more about them at Hartley’s Cookery School and to book tickets for the festival go to Thame Food Festival

Reimagining a classic

Round & About

Berkshire

The Watermill Theatre brings Whistle Down The Wind to the stage for the first time in over a decade.

Running from Friday 22 July to Saturday 10 September, this thrilling musical will transport you to 1959, Louisiana. Change is in the air, and in a small rural town, three motherless children are hoping for a miracle.

Exploring themes of belief, grief and family

When Swallow discovers a man hiding in her family barn, she becomes convinced he is Jesus, at the same time as the community is on the hunt for a missing convict. Convinced he is their saviour, the children of the town unite to protect him. Exploring themes of belief, grief and family, Whistle Down The Wind follows Swallow’s journey from innocence to adulthood and asks the question what does it mean to grow up?

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jim Steinman’s epic soundtrack is performed by a talented cast of actor musicians and local young people. Directed and Choreographed by Tom Jackson Greaves The Watermill’s revival will be gritty, evocative and powerful. You can find out more about the show at a Creative Insight Talk with Tom Jackson Greaves on Thursday 28 July, bar opens at 12.30noon, and the ticket price includes lunch in The Watermill Theatre’s Riverside Restaurant.

An Audio Described performance will take place on Saturday 3 September at 2.30pm with a Touch Tour at 1pm.

Book tickets

Via The Watermill’s website or by calling the box office on 01635 46044.

It’s come home – at last!

Round & About

Berkshire

Now it’s over to you… be inspired by our Lionesses and get involved in football where you are, whatever your age and ability

Football has come home, it’s taken 56 years to win a major honour but it was well worth waiting for as England women’s captain Leah Williamson lifted the Womens Euros 2022 trophy at Wembley on Sunday.

The amazing achievement of beating eight-times winners Germany 2-1 was immense and while many backed the Lionesses as the favourites for the tournament on home soil, the result is truly outstanding and the women deserve all the plaudits and honours that will come their way.

One of the key aims for The FA and the England Women has been ensuring that this fabulous celebration of football creates a legacy for future generations and encourages as many women and girls as possible to get involved in the beautiful game.

Whatever your age and ability, football is for all and offers a huge opportunity for women and girls to engage in a healthy lifestyle through football, promoting both physical activity and mental health benefits too.

Follow in the Lionesses’ footsteps there are many options open to you.

Whether you just want to have a kick about with your mates, have a go at walking football or want to join a local club and perhaps follow in the Lionesses’ footsteps there are many options open to you.

There’s never been a better time to get involved in football and with the FA’s Gameplan for Growth aiming to double participation, Berks & Bucks FA has a number of initiatives for you to join in.

Girls aged 5-11 can become a Weetabix Wildcat, non-competitive football for girls who want to give it a go for the very first time or want to play with other girls their own age. Most importantly, Weetabix Wildcats is all about having loads of fun and meeting new friends. Join a youth club or leagues across the counties and further your skills or just enjoy the physical and social benefits for fun.

And it’s not just for girls, there’s a wealth of options for women at club and recreational level too. More at www.berks-bucksfa.com/players/women

Get involved!

As several players and commentators said after the epic win, this has to be the start of something even more special.

Get on Newbury town trail

Round & About

Berkshire

Newbury BID launch new Town Trail Maps to support Local Businesses

Newbury Business Improvement District (BID) is supporting the local independent retail sector with the launch of its brand-new Newbury Independent Retail Map.

The handy pocket is helping to raise awareness of Newbury’s growing independent scene and to support the local independent retail sector.

The handy pocket is helping to raise awareness of Newbury’s growing independent scene and to support the local independent retail sector.

Physical copies of the map have been distributed in matching display boxes to the 44 independent businesses featured. The map includes a brief description of each retailer and also signposts to specialist markets that take place in the town centre. You can view the map online here: visitnewbury.org.uk/independent-retail-map.

The aim for our Town Trail Maps is to help support and raise the profile of our local independent businesses and our wonderful town centre

Copies of the map produced by the BID are being introduced as part of a series of town centre maps for Newbury under the umbrella term ‘Newbury Town Trail Maps’.

Newbury BID, the not-for-profit organisation behind the Visit Newbury brand, is happy to announce the theme for the next map in the series will be a Dog-Friendly Trail Map. This map will promote 26 dog-friendly hospitality venues across the town centre and highlight five prominent dog-walking routes within walking distance of the town.

The map will also highlight the location of dog waste bins in the town centre and its surroundings to discourage dog litter and to encourage dog-walkers to use the map on a regular basis. With National Dog Day 2022 coming up in late August, the map is expected to launch in time for this nationally recognised day for dog-lovers in West Berkshire and across the country.

The map will also highlight the location of dog waste bins in the town centre

The BID has also confirmed that the third map in the Newbury Town Trail Map series due to launch this year will be an up-to-date and reformatted version of the Vegan-friendly Map. First launched in October last year, the updated map is due to be released around the year anniversary of the initial launch and will come in the new fold-out pocket size format.

Kirsty Lemberger, Marketing Manager at Newbury BID, says: “We’re delighted with our new Independent Retail Map for Newbury and hope these handy and beautifully illustrated maps will be kept in the pockets and handbags of local residents and visitors alike for their next visit to the town centre.

“The aim for our Town Trail Maps is to help support and raise the profile of our local independent businesses and our wonderful town centre, and we hope the new look and feel of these pocket maps will make it even easier to do so.”

Maps are available to collect across the town centre at most businesses featured on the map, and from Newbury Library, West Berkshire Museum, and in the Old Town Hall.

If you run a business in Newbury town centre and would like to be included on an upcoming map, please email:

Find out more

To find out more about what’s happening in Newbury this summer, please visit: visitnewbury.org.uk/newburys-calling.