ONE OF OUR aims at the Caversham Bridge is to help build a sense of community and belonging for the people of our area. We have always carried advertisements for local businesses, from plumbers to estate agents, and have consistently supported local enterprises and the creative residents of our area.
On Friday 3rd December, starting at 17:00, Caversham Traders will be welcoming visitors to their annual Late-Night Shopping event. This year promises to be bigger and better than ever. Caversham boasts a whole host of independent and family-owned shops, eateries and businesses, which makes it a great place to stock up on festive gifts and to eat out. …Read more

Time to celebrate
AS WE COME to the end of 2021, we are still living under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have all been affected in some way or other over the last 21 months, and it is not clear what will happen in the coming weeks and months. However, we have started to see more freedom, with many clubs resuming their activities and a growing What’s On section (p5). This month we report on events, such as the Halloween Costume Parade (p11) and the Fourbears Book Festival (p6) which would not have been possible last year.
We celebrate local enterprise in this edition, with the Cavmas Late Night Shopping event (Friday 3 December) and Small Business Saturday on 4 December (above). Other local businesses featured include the Caversham Health Club – Sophie and Isaac are the subject of our Community Connections article (p11), Fourbears Books (p6), CJ Barbers (p13), and Caversham’s own Jam Lady (p15)…Read more

Scout Christmas Post 2021
THE CHRISTMAS POST service provided by the 89th Reading Scouts for the delivery of Christmas Cards in Caversham, Caversham Heights, Emmer Green and Caversham Park Village is back! We delivered nearly 2,500 Christmas cards in 2019, but could not operate last year.
The Scout Christmas Post, at just 35p per card, is much cheaper than the Royal Mail and provides a great service to the local community. The 89th Reading Scouts ran this service continuously for nearly 40 years until last year and it’s great to be back. In the run up to Christmas, Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, and Explorers take on the responsible job of delivering Christmas Cards to local residents posted in our Scout Post boxes across the area, raising funds for the Group in the process…Read more

The Caversham Bridge – a gift for 2022?
LAST MONTH we confirmed we would maintain the current price of the Caversham Bridge for 2022. We also provided details of how you can pay your annual subscription by direct bank transfer. A number of you have already done so – thank you. Details are repeated below for those who would like to use this option. Early payment is helpful, as we can then advise your deliverer you have paid your subscription.
We have had an enquiry regarding gift subscriptions. You may purchase a subscription for anyone in the Caversham area for just £5…Read more

Update from our local surgeries
THESE ARE remarkably busy times for our local GP surgeries. They are working hard to provide the best care they can despite the vast increase in demand and staff absence due to illness and isolation. For example, Balmore Park surgery took more than 8,900 telephone calls in October. This demand is far greater than anything experienced before, and 30% above pre-pandemic levels…Read more

For whom the bell tolls
THE AUGUST edition of Caversham Bridge, in the ‘Prospect Street Shops’ article, referred to Edwin James Menday, the newsagent at 20 Prospect Street.
To the bell-ringers of St Peter’s church this is a very familiar name, as it appears on the marble tablets attached to two walls of the belfry recording peal performances by the ringers around the turn of the 19th/20th centuries. In fact, as well as Edwin, there was also an Ernest William Menday, and the two of them took part in many peals at St Peter’s between the 1890s and 1920s. The photograph is of one of the peal tablets, showing Ernest ringing the 5th bell and Edwin the 6th bell…Read more

Windows on Advent
ADVENT MEANS ‘coming’ and is a time when we remember the coming of Jesus into the world. During Advent we sometimes remember the long journey that Mary and Joseph went on to Bethlehem, and so this year, we are encouraging the people of Caversham to go on a journey (just a short one… and no donkey required)!
This journey will take the form of an Advent Trail which is being run by St John’s Church in partnership with Thameside Primary School.
Twenty-five houses (split into 2 mini trails) around Caversham will display a special lit-up Advent window depicting part of the nativity story. Windows will be available for viewing from 1-25 December and will be lit roughly between the hours of 16:00 to 21:00…Read more

For your bookshelf – A magical time of year
Welcome to ‘Fourbears Reviews’ where we briefly review a couple of titles chosen from our bookshop ‘Fourbears Books’ on Prospect Street. Christmas is nearly here. Please do pop in to say hello; we have lots of excellent gift ideas for every reader. We opened properly last December, so thank you for reading our thoughts over the last year and for all your custom and support.
THIS MONTH’S books are all about Christmas for kids. It’s a magical time of year, especially if you throw yourself into the Christmas spirit.
Tom Fletcher has been brilliant on Strictly, and he’s written several books. His popular book ‘The Christmasaurus’ has been re-released in a shortened version picture book for ages 3+. ‘The Christmasaurus’ is about a Christmas dinosaur who can’t fly to pull the sleigh with his reindeer friends…Read more

Fourbears Fest
DURING THE Autumn half term, Fourbears Books hosted its first Children’s Book Festival. It also had visits from authors Robin Ince, Tuesday and Kaya Holder and Anita Frank.
There were 11 events in 7 days, which required a lot of planning. Children were able to meet and listen to several authors of children’s books. AF Harrold, Iszi Lawrence, Kate Poels, Fiona Barker, Patch Pegg the portly Pirate, Holly Webb and Tim Tilley all took part. The week was supported by Reading Children’s Book Group, who also run monthly sessions for children in the shop…Read more

Happy Wanderer celebrates Charles Dickens, Reading and Christmas
OUR WAYS of ‘keeping Christmas’ over the last few hundred years have changed considerably. During Cromwell’s Commonwealth in the mid-17th century, it was actually forbidden to celebrate Christmas, and there are presently some Christian denominations who do not recognise 25 December as anything special.
Charles Dickens, in ‘A Christmas Carol’, reminds us of the situation in 1843 when the story was first published. Turkey was being consumed for Christmas dinner where, in the past, it had been goose, but Bob Cratchit, clerk to Ebenezer Scrooge, was still expected at the office at the usual time on Christmas morning…Read more

A new look for an old friend
MANY OF YOU will have noticed the evidence of construction work in progress at Caversham Baptist Church at the junction of Prospect Street and South Street. Behind the hoardings, work is going on to improve accessibility and to make other improvements to the building designed by famous Victorian architect, Sir Alfred Waterhouse. This follows a survey in 2016 of the church family, other building users and the local community. We appointed Caversham-based DLK Architects to help with the redesign and Reading-based Morris & Blunt Ltd to carry out the construction works.
A ramp will be installed to provide street to lobby access, and the alternative steps will be renewed We’ve adopted a contemporary design making use of steel balustrades and glass panels. A new main door, wooden framed with etched glass…Read more

Garden Ghosts
THE FRIENDS of Caversham Court Gardens used the Gardens and their Gothic features to set up a Halloween Trail this year.
The idea for this followed the success of the Caversham Halloween Trail organised in 2020 with support from the Warren and District Residents Association. For this, local residents decorated their front gardens and then registered themselves on an on-line map. Children could then enjoy hunting for the spooky gardens without any ‘trick or treat’, keeping Covid 19 risks to a minimum.
The historic riverside gardens at Caversham Court are owned and tended by Reading Borough Council with support from the Friends. With its ancient trees and yew hedges, it is a very atmospheric location for Halloween decorations…Read more

Green Christmas Tree Sale at Caversham Court Saturday 4 December 2021
PLEASE JOIN us for the annual sale of Scots Pine Christmas trees at Caversham Court on Saturday 4 December from 9:30-13:00.
These trees are the by-product of heathland management on the Camberley Special Protection Areas. Lowland heath is a rare habitat in Europe, and we are lucky enough to have most of it here in the UK. The trees hold their leaves, smell beautiful, but are a more open structure than the standard Norway Spruce. We’ll also have holly, mistletoe, willow wreaths and stars, and bundles of ornamental greenery for sale.
Our charities selling environmentally friendly Christmas gifts are back this year…Read more

I KNOW this will shock you, but I have prejudices. I am talking about gardening here, not about the programmes on the television. No, I am moaning about flowers some gardeners love and ones which I am not so enthusiastic about. I dislike those huge dahlias which look like over-blown cauliflowers, and I have never really liked Hellebores. Other people raved about them and I thought they were quite pretty, but they seemed to me always to be holding their heads down in sorrow.
Then last Christmas one of my wife’s friends gave her two large pots of Hellebore ‘Christmas Carol’. You can imagine my reaction; “What does she want to give you those blinking things for?” I muttered as I trudged out into a chilly garden to plant them. How wrong could I have been because they were delightful? They had beautiful large glowing white flowers for weeks…Read more

Plant of the month – Cyclamen hederifolium
LET ME introduce you to one of the most enduring and surprising of plants that give at least six to seven months of pleasure throughout the autumn and winter months. Its name is Cyclamen hederifolium.
Each plant grows from a tuber, which is essentially an underground storage device from which the stem grows. They look so unpromising in their dormant state; flat, round, dark brown and quite boring really. It sits around doing absolutely nothing from May to late August but then suddenly, as if by magic, exquisite little nubs of flowers in pink or white emerge without their leaves and sparkle for weeks in the low early autumn sun, giving sustenance to bees and other pollinating insects…Read more

A frightening competition
THE WARREN and District Residents’ Association (WADRA) took to Halloween in a big way for 2021. Caroline Foulkes set up the Caversham Halloween Hunt in 2020, with some support from WADRA. This year the Association sponsored the event, along with a Halloween Costume Parade. Caversham residents certainly worked hard to treat the community to some creative and scary decorations.
The costume competition was held in the refurbished Mapledurham Playing Fields Pavilion – WADRA’s first community event since 2016. The competition attracted around 60 children and adults on 31 October 2021. The entrants were definitely in the Halloween spirit, despite the awful weather!…Read more

Community Connections
THIS MONTH we meet the lovely young couple that are Sophie and Isaac from Caversham Health Club by IST Fitness, based in the heart of Caversham.
This entrepreneurial pair are passionate about fitness for your body and mind, with a strong emphasis on a luxurious experience. They have poured their lives into creating a beautiful club and curated a varied fitness program and membership offers.
There is a healthy smoothie bar and complimentary fruit and snacks, so you can come in, do a class/work out, grab a bite for breakfast and even work from the relaxation area using their complimentary WIFI, not forgetting the free parking! …Read more

Creative Caversham – Pine cones, berries and oranges add a touch of festive magic
If you venture down to Marsack Street, there’s a great opportunity to become wreathed into the Christmas spirit…Elestr Lee investigates.
WHILE many of us create hand-made cards, gifts or food items as part of our Christmas preparations (with varying success), it is also possible to combine enjoying a social get-together with learning a whole new craft – and coming home with a splendid festive ornament. Since the opening of Creativ.Spaces in Caversham just two years ago, owner, Tamalia Reeves, and her mother, Sue, have been offering Christmas wreath making workshops, which have been popular right from the start…Read more

CJ Barbers – The Local Scene
THE BUILDING that comes to a tapering point with one side at the beginning of Gosbrook Road and the other in South Street has always fascinated me. The architect has made such good use of the awkward plot, and the triangular shape makes for oddly-shaped rooms. Janina Maher also found the building a great subject for this month’s drawing when she sketched it in the snow last winter. I dropped in to talk to CJ of the Turkish Barbers, hoping to get some background information and was delighted to discover CJ himself was fascinated by history and had lots to tell me.
As I entered, my attention was immediately attracted to two cabinets full of vintage barbers’ equipment and ephemera. Hanging on the wall was a framed chronology of the people and businesses that had occupied the premises since they were built in c.1900…Read more

First Impressions Matter – Changing Direction – Where Next?
In a study by Jobrapido, nearly two thirds of the UK workforce want to change their career path, and when Totaljobs conducted a survey of 5,364 Brits affected by Coronavirus, it found one in five used their free time in lockdown to search and plan for a career in a new industry.
SWITCHING INDUSTRY can be really daunting – your job is to show a recruiter what makes you a good candidate for the role compared to someone who is already in the industry.
Which career?
Spend time considering your options and the impact on your lifestyle, family, finances, mental health, happiness etc. Do you want to work more from home or are you happy to commute?…Read more

IT WAS a close thing, but Covid-19 nearly killed us off. Of course, the important thing is that our members survived. But during the year-and-a-half closure, some moved away and others left for personal reasons. Ordinarily, when people leave, replacements are sought, but this was not possible due to Covid-19. So, our membership is now well down and we are looking for new members…Read more

Get Jamming with the Jam Lady – Fig and Earl Grey Jam
This month’s recipe is a great one for your Christmas list. I use Turkish figs from the Istanbul Supermarket on Oxford Road. It’s a treasure trove of Eastern Mediterranean food and well worth a visit.

1kg chopped figs
1kg sugar
10g Earl Grey tea leaves
1. Wash the jars and lids in hot water. Put into a warm oven (175°C) for
15 minutes to sterilise them. Mix the chopped figs and tea leaves in
a large, heavy based pan with just enough water to cover…Read more

Wellbeing – A time for reflection
THIS IS the time of year when we often start to look back at our lives over the last 12 months. As a result, some of us feel overwhelmed, lonely or even sad as we approach the festive season.
To help ourselves, we could start by accepting fully what celebration means to each of us, however differently we might interpret it from others, and enjoy whatever form it may take.
Insight, rumination and reflection are all vital to our sense of self and can contribute greatly to our wellbeing. Being grateful has been shown to have a huge impact on mental wellbeing, and little mini-reflections on gratitude can be a wonderful gift interspersed amongst all the material gifts we give and receive this festive season.…Read more