Headlines for our August 2021 issue

A NEIGHBOUR recently commented on the diversity of people who call Caversham and Emmer Green their home, which is coincidently reflected in this edition of the Caversham Bridge. The BBC Monitoring Service employed people from around the world, many of whom settled in Emmer Green and Caversham. On this page we report on the plans for its former home, Caversham Park.
Our article about Marie Rogers, who has been painting portraits during lockdown (p3), features both NHS staff and local Gurkha ladies who attend her English classes)…. Read more

Monitoring change
THE BBC HAVE announced the sale of Caversham Park to Beechcroft Developments. The developer has stated it intends to renovate the site for “high quality retirement housing” and will add new buildings for independent and assisted living. It is also Monitoring change Caversham Park from the south photo Yablochko, Wkipedia proposing a new care home and affordable housing for sale and rent. Beechcroft also said it will be consulting on its proposals in the autumn and intends to submit detailed plans to Reading Borough Council by the end of the year.
The Victorian stately home and 93-acre (38-hectare) estate, which occupies a prominent position above the Thames Valley, was bought by the BBC in 1941. … Read more

For your bookshelf – A simpler life
THE CHILDREN’S book I have selected is ‘I’m almost always kind’ written by Anna Milbourne and illustrated by Asa Gilland. It was ‘Indie Book of the Month*’ in June. The book shows us what it means to be kind, considerate and thoughtful, and that sometimes, even though we try to be kind it doesn’t always work out that way. The warmth of this book will make you smile, and each page is packed with illustrations, with cute holes cut into the page which add creatively to the picture, depending on the page you are reading. This book really is delightful, with a good message throughout … Read more

In celebration of Caroline Munyamana
REGULAR customers at the Henley Road Post Office were shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Caroline (Carol) Munyamana, known to many as Whoopi Goldberg. Carol was born and educated in Kenya and moved to Reading in 1999. She lived in Caversham Park for the last 15 years, and worked at the Henley Road Post Office for the last six. Carol, who was 50 years of age when she passed away, was popular with her customers, ‘a ray of sunshine’, whose cheery banter and wonderful smile brightened up the day. … Read more

A ride on Barrow’s Bus
THE BUS in the picture may or may not have belonged to Mr Barrow, but it is certainly a double-decked horse drawn bus, standing outside The Prince of Wales in Prospect Street in about 1899. It’s a very well-known picture, and my reason for digging it out is because an interesting document has recently come my way which may relate to it.
The spelling of the word ‘bus’ with the double ‘s’ suggests that any kind of bus was something new in Reading in 1899.
From the letter, it seems that Mr Barrow had been running the Caversham service since around August 1898, and two buses are mentioned, Nos. 43 and 77. All of this makes one wonder how big an operation this was – did he really have 77 vehicles, and if he did, why is he not better known? Or maybe 43 and 77 were the numbers of the route… Read more

WILDLIFE – Shut the Cat Flap!!!
IT IS NOT the most decorative corner of the garden, but one morning recently the whole family was gathered round a window, eyes fixed on the downpipe that takes water from the gutters into the sewer system.
The object of our attention was a large brown rat preoccupied with the plastic grid that covered the drain to stop leaves from blocking it.  First reaction from the most practical (alarmed?) of us was “Shut the cat flap!” Then we resumed watching. No-one had any thought for the safety of our two cats who were both out on their morning prowl. Indeed, one was also watching with great interest, but no enthusiasm for what cats are supposed to do…. Read more

Pledge your veg
DO YOU have some beans to spare or a bumper crop of salad leaves? Does your apple tree always give more than you can eat? If so, why not pledge your veg to the Reading Town Meal.
First held in 2011, Reading Town Meal is an annual event that takes place in Forbury Gardens each September. Reading Town Meal aims to celebrate and promote home grown and locally produced food. Food4families developed Reading Town Meal as part of its broader vision for a significant increase in the amount of food grown locally and more sustainably. This embraces a broad approach to sustainability, incorporating economic, health and well-being, community capacity and resilience, and carbon reduction aspects.
This year’s event, scheduled to take place on Saturday 25 September, will see a delicious meal, cooked by Reading College catering students from produce grown and donated by local allotment holders and home growers served free to over 1,000 people. The meal is accompanied by music from local bands, family fun activities, plus the chance to learn more about growing your own food, shop with local producers … Read more

Tell it to the trees
I’M A VOLUNTEER for local social enterprise, Ethical Reading. We aim to make Reading a better place to live and work, mainly by encouraging businesses to prioritise doing the right thing.
One of the ways we do this is by offering organisations the opportunity to fund the planting and care of trees around the town, through our Trees for Reading initiative.
Urban trees can make a massive difference to the local environment, helping to cut air pollution, regulate the temperature, reduce flooding and erosion, and increase biodiversity… Read more

AS A GARDENER, are you like me and always seeing advertisements for plants that you think you really should have in your garden? Some weeks ago, the Saturday Daily Telegraph had an offer of Erysimum, those so-called perennial wallflowers. The enticement included one called ‘Constant Cheer’. I am easily persuaded and perhaps after all these months of lockdown constant cheer was something I needed. Anyway, I bought the collection of Erysimum and to be truthful I am pleased I did… Read more

House plant of the month Spotlight on: Caladium
CALADIUMS, or Angel Wings, as they are often known, are a truly outstanding foliage plant which have experienced something of a resurgence among the indoor gardening community. Favoured for their large, paper-thin, and highly ornate leaves, caladiums are deserving of attention and can give the impression of cut flowers.
Caladiums are native to Central and South America and so are accustomed to warm and humid weather. … Read more

A Crafty Cuppa– with Gunja Bhatt
I’VE ALWAYS been drawn to blues and greens, so when I set eyes on Gunja Bhatt’s coaster paintings, I knew I’d found a kindred spirit!
With a few reds thrown in here and there, Gunja’s palm-sized pictures painted on small wooden coasters bring to life exotic lands and favourite foods from her upbringing in India, plus landscapes near and far.
Gunja, her husband and six-year-old son moved to Reading after a few years of living and working in the US… Read more

Community Connections – Jacopo Lanzoni
JACOPO CAME to the UK from his native Italy 13 years ago on a scholarship to study. He has a PhD in Applied Mathematics from UCL, and works as a lead software engineer in London. I first became aware of Jacopo when he started to post about his weekly litter picks in and around Nire Road and the Amersham Road estate. He is one of those amazing people who put themselves out there to make the environment better for themselves and the people around them.
Good deeds attract good people, and Jacopo now has a regular group of 25 litter pickers who join him weekly to keep the local area clear and tidy… Read more

If you see someone quietly sketching while enjoying coffee in a Caversham café, it may well be Mary Phelan. She tells Elestr Lee why drawing and painting play such an important part in her life

PEOPLE WITH busy lives need to find some way of balancing life’s pressures. Some may enjoy sport or physical activity, but for others a creative outlet is the perfect solution.
Mary Phelan, who grew up in Stockport near Manchester, trained and has worked most of her life as a social worker. But art – both drawing and painting – has always been there for her, and now more than ever it is how she finds refuge from the stresses of everyday life… Read more

JANINA MAHER’S drawing this month is a charming celebration of the facades of three businesses in Prospect Street in the heart of Caversham. The restaurant, Quattro, is a popular favourite and was originally opened in the 1980s; the coffee and cocktail bar, Chapter, and the Fourbears Bookshop are very welcome relative newcomers – their premises, however, date back to the nineteenth century. One of my own treasured books is a copy of Smith’s Directory of Reading for the year 1921 and it records that exactly one hundred years ago number 14 (Quattro) was Milward & Sons, bootmakers, number 18 (Chapter) was Talbot Sisters, confectioners and refreshment rooms, and number 20 (Fourbears Bookshop) was a tobacconist, stationer and newsagents owned by Edwin James Menday… Read more