Headlines for our March 2021 issue


Painting by J Maher

THE PEOPLE of Caversham and Emmer Green have been shocked to learn of the closure of the one remaining bank serving our community. Members of the Nationwide Building Society who use the Caversham Branch received a letter at the end of January headed ‘Information’ with the title ‘We’re sorry to say your Caversham branch will be closing’.
The letter, from Regional Director Andrew Westhead, told members the Society had ‘decided to close your Caversham branch on Thursday 22 April 2021’. He put the closure down to inadequate numbers of members using the branch and the cost of bringing it up to ‘the standards you deserve’. Branches at Tilehurst, Woodley and in Reading town centre are identified as ‘nearby’ alternatives…. Read more

Out in the snow

Reasons to be cheerful
IN RECENT weeks we have had snow, floods and daffodils. We have also seen local surgeries calling retired GPs to the front line to administer the Covid-19 vaccine. Volunteers have been marshalling car parking at Emmer Green surgery and an orderly procession of patients have rolled up their sleeves. Care home residents and staff have had their jabs, and our older and vulnerable residents now have their vaccination cards.
This winter has been a particularly difficult time for many of us. … Read more

A new look for the Caversham Bridge
IN RECENT months we have been looking at the results from our reader survey and considering what these mean for the paper. This month we address the comments you made about the appearance of the front page. Not every response touched on this. However, a number of readers suggested changes to the appearance of the front page and the ‘Masthead’ at the top of the page in particular. A regular reader, artist and former lecturer in graphic design, Martin Andrews, offered to develop an alternative ‘logo’ for the Caversham Bridge. …. Read more

Spiderman calls

Spiderman cleans up
CHRIS SMALLEY-WARD, a window cleaner working in Caversham, has blown the cobwebs off a superhero costume to provide some much needed relief to a close friend who, like many parents, is battling with the home schooling challenge. Her son is a superhero fan so, on her regular window clean, Chris decided to arrive as Spiderman  …. Read more

World Day of Prayer
THE THEME of the World Day of Prayer this year is ‘Build on a strong foundation’. It is the women of the Republic of Vanuatu who have prepared this service. The scattered islands of Vanuatu lie just over 1,100 miles to the east of Australia in the south western Pacific Ocean. The black and white sandy beaches, coral reefs with coloured fishes, lovely birds, fruit and nuts in the forest, all make the islands…. Read more

Design a Pancake
ST JOHN’S Church has recently joined with local primary schools Thameside and Micklands to run a DESIGN A PANCAKE competition for pupils in Key Stage 2. Their task is to draw, decorate and describe their very own pancake in the most mouth-watering way possible, with entries being judged on creativity, originality and appeal!…. Read more

John Mullaney recommends reading….The God Paradigm Revisited
A FOLLOW-ON to the author’s Darwin Disproved? (2020), where he traced the sceptical voices of a number of scientists to Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution, this volume has a similar theme, but with an emphasis on Alfred Russel Wallace as co-discoverer of natural selection…. Read more

Canon Giles Goward (1965-2021)
ON 29 JANUARY, the Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Reverend Bernard Longley announced, “It is with great sadness that I am writing to let you know that Canon Giles Goward, the Rector of St Mary’s College Oscott, died peacefully yesterday afternoon (Thursday 28 Jan) in the Seminary after a brief illness.” He was 55 years old….. Read more

What next for our young people?
NOW WE’RE in ‘Lockdown 3.0’ and schools are closed again, what is next for our young people? Where do they go to ask questions and to get help, particularly if they don’t have the support at home? A challenging job market, hours of education missed and worsening mental health are just a few of the ways young people are being affected by the Covid-19
pandemic….. Read more

Pavilion help needed
THE WARREN and District Residents’ Association (WADRA) is organising a weekly ‘open afternoon’ at the Mapledurham Playing Fields’ Pavilion. As soon as we are past the Covid restrictions, we will be serving drinks…. Read more

Building our community
Planning update from Caversham and District Residents Association (CADRA), bringing you a summary of planning and transport matters affecting the RG4 area A new outline planning application for 257 new homes on the Reading Golf Club site has been submitted. CADRA will be looking at it carefully and commenting. Comments made on the previous application will not be carried forward automatically. …Read more

Cutting Food Waste – Food Waste Week
THE ROLL out of food waste collection bins has been completed in Caversham, but please remember that reducing your food waste is a much better option for your pocket and the climate than filling the food waste bin. This month sees the inaugural Food Waste Week where retailers, manufacturers and Local Authorities work together to encourage everyone to reduce their food waste… Read more

The Bear recommends…

Dreaming of Lions
Welcome to ‘Fourbears Reviews’, where we review a couple of chosen titles from our bookshop ‘Fourbears Books’ on Prospect Street.
THE ADULT book this month is The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech, published by Orenda Books. Ben had a dream to work with lions, but when it happens, it’s not for the reasons he imagines. Ben also keeps meeting Andrew in unexpected places, ….Read more

THE PHOTOGRAPH that accompanies this article looks nothing like a town hall clock, I know, but the flowers of this small plant look out at right-angles at the tops of the stems, like tiny tower clocks. And there’s a fifth flower, which looks upwards. The whole plant is only a few inches tall, and it’s all green, including the flowers, making it hard to see, but you can find it around Reading, here and there. …Read more

Give trees some love.
MANY OF us have been going out for long walks and spending more time in nature over the last year. Perhaps we have been drawn to our local parks or woodlands, wandering among the fellowship of trees, whose qualities may remind us of the strength and forbearance we have been asked to cultivate together in these times. …Read more

photo Rob Stallard

Wildlife – The cosiest nests in town
RED KITES are a familiar sight wheeling and swooping over Caversham. They were once seen all over the country, and were common in dirty medieval London, where they were encouraged to feed on carrion and waste littering the streets. As London was cleaned up, the kites moved out to the countryside, but then keepers shot them to protect their game birds.
By the end of the 19th Century only about a dozen breeding pairs survived in mid-Wales, From 1989 Spanish red kites were reintroduced into the Chilterns, and soon spread to Cambridgeshire and Norfolk….Read more

Eat Ethical Easter Eggs
EACH YEAR, we eat over 8 kilogrammes of chocolate per head in the UK. We eat more than almost anywhere else on Earth and much of it at Easter. Around 80 million Easter Eggs are sold each year in the UK. Most are packaged in cardboard or plastic, generating around 3,000 tonnes of packaging waste….Read more

You don’t have to go to Bogota to see an Andean Oak tree!
VARIOUS Friends of Clayfield Copse walk around the ash dieback areas regularly looking for ash survivors – it is estimated that maybe 5% of the trees may be resistant and could survive this deadly disease. Other trees coming through are being monitored, though it is difficult for young trees where the bramble has become rampant.
Many native trees, such as oak, hawthorn, birch, rowan are there,…Read more

Trying Trees
AS WITH many television viewers, I watch ‘Countryfile’. Recently, the presenters, in conjunction with the Woodland Trust, were urging us to plant trees. I admit my knowledge of trees is very basic, but I do have a few growing in my fairly small garden. I have a crab apple called Red Sentinel and another called Wedding Bouquet. They have lovely white flowers turning pink, followed by small bright red apples. They were both delightful in 2020, and let us hope they will be as good this year….Read more

Super-easy soda bread

Simple soda bread recipe
I AM OFTEN asked by customers and people trying my preserves, what is the best way to use different flavours? I always think home-made jam deserves to be enjoyed on something homemade. This is one of my most favourite recipes, from my friend Kim’s blog. It’s the easiest bread recipe you could ever hope to find!….Read more

Every Cloud
As a parent or relative of a young person, have you ever wondered what you could do to encourage them to become more resilient? It’s a question I am often asked and for which I have only ever previously offered a multi strand answer. However, having attended a webinar recently on resilience and after watching a powerful TED talk by Dr Lucy Hone on the topic, I feel better equipped to share an answer providing both informed and practical suggestions….Read more

Community Connections
MARK BROWN is a youth worker based at Grace Church Caversham, in Emmer Green. His work is not exclusive to those who are part of the church, all young people are welcome.
Mark and his team run the Sync Youth Club from Grace Church on a Friday evening, fortnightly, 19:30 – 21:00 – pre Covid, they were getting 50-80 young people attending…Read more


A stitch in time
THERE has always been a tendency for the art world to regard embroidery or stitched work to merely be ‘craft’ – despite great examples down the centuries from tapestries to fashion clothing, not to mention contemporary pieces by artists including Grayson Perry and Tracey Emin.
Local artist Lou Jessop is determined to make the case for her art and was very pleased that her embroidered picture entitled ‘Running With Wolves’ was selected as part of the exhibition, ‘Animal – World Art Journeys’, on show at the John Madejski Gallery in Reading Museum until April, and available to view online…..Read more

A Fair Trade Journey – Fairtrade Fortnight
A LONG long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away – actually in the early 1990s in West Reading, a young couple attended St George’s Church, where the minister’s wife ran a Fair Trade stall once a month. This young couple supported her stall, and when the Minister and his wife moved, they were asked to take it over. So started our involvement with Traidcraft and the Fair Trade movement. Since leaving St George’s, with a toddler, a new baby and two boxes of Traidcraft goods, and moving to Caversham, it would not be an exaggeration to say our lives have not been the same …Read more

Caversham Heights Post Boxes
AS I JOIN the many walkers around the streets during lockdown, I have looked more closely at the variety of post boxes we have.
In my area, Caversham Heights, I have found a Victorian cylindrical box in Kidmore Road at the junction with Richmond Road, (probably placed there due to the rapid housing development to the north of Caversham), and a cylindrical Edwardian one, initials E VII R, along The Warren,…Read more

David Baldock

Wine Gums 
IF I ASKED you what rouses your emotions, you might answer that it’s a piece of music, a particular song, a royal parade with pomp and pageant along the Mall, or the sight of a new-born baby. I doubt any of you would answer ‘wine gums’. Nor would I until recently!
I have always loved Maynard’s wine gums…Read more

The mystery of Balmore House
One of our readers sent in the following message by e-mail this month. We wondered if any of our readers know anything more about this. What was the building used for in the Second World War?
I REMEMBER a few years ago chatting to an elderly gentleman, in his 90s I should think, whilst waiting for the bus on Peppard Road, opposite Newlands Avenue. He told me Balmore House was once the Forces Payroll Office craft workshops for both adults and children, birthday parties, baby showers and hen dos …Read more

Can you ‘Grow for Reading’?
FOOD4FAMILIES, and its sister project Veg4Reading, are encouraging people to ‘Grow for Reading’ by sowing seeds at home this spring; the seedlings will then be planted out at community gardens across Reading. The resulting vegetables will be distributed to people who join in with Food4families community gardening sessions (when this is possible again!) as well as going towards the Veg4Reading project…Read more

Weller Reindeer

A reindeer is for life…
WE ENDED 2020 on a real high with Santa and his Elf visiting homes across the estate delivering presents to the children. These gifts were donated by Caversham residents, Reading Family Aid and The Salvation Army. We saw lots of children smile, and a few cry, during our visits. There were lots of photographs of Santa, his Elf and his reindeer (socially distanced of course)…Read more