Headlines for our May 2021 issue

MAY is a month of tree blossom and new hope. Over the last year or so, the Caversham Bridge has reported on the impact of Covid-19 on our community and the many ways we have adapted to successive lockdowns. For example, residents have set up WhatsApp groups for their streets, such as the group in Chazey Road who organised front garden displays for Easter (photo this page). Their next project is sunflowers.
This month we look back again at the life of Mary Kift, this month her time in the Land Army at another time of crisis for the country … Read more

Books for the people

Caversham Library – Janina Maher

CAVERSHAM Library is perhaps one of the most recognisable and distinctive buildings in Caversham, and Janina Maher has captured the spirit of the architecture in her lively and affectionate drawing. Often used as a landmark in the heart of Caversham, it is an essential part of our community and has provided a valued and loved service for us all for well over a century.
The Official opening ceremony was on Wednesday 11 December 1907 with the Caversham Fire Brigade on parade and the front doors were… Read more

Lucy’s trees for Captain Tom
I AM WRITING this almost exactly a year since the first lockdown started 23 March 2020. This was a new experience, shared by us all. None of us knew what to expect or how long the virus would be impacting on our lives; and certainly one local family had no inkling of what lay in store for them.
We all followed the progress of Captain Tom, who became a rallying point for the nation and for our support of NHS staff and the work of carers… Read more

Write to the editors
My friend Mary
What a joy, to open the Caversham Bridge and find an article about my friend Mary Kift.
We met when I moved to Caversham in 1975 and began to worship at St Margaret’s Mapledurham. We became friends through the work we did with the children in our monthly Saturday Workshops… Read more

The Piano Player
It was interesting to read of Balmore House, but more interesting to me was the talk of Wilf, the piano player.
My parents always went to the evening service at St John’s and usually brought someone home with them to spend the rest of the evening… Read more

Never give up…
Welcome to ‘Fourbears Reviews’ where we briefly review a couple of chosen titles from our bookshop ‘Fourbears Books’ on Prospect Street. At the time of writing we are just about to re-open, so we are eagerly looking forward to welcoming customers back into the shop.
THIS MONTH is a little different, I would like to talk about two books which are predominantly aimed at children, but can be enjoyed by all ages.
The first is from the popular ‘Little People, BIG DREAMS’ series. Anyone who has visited the shop will have seen we stock many titles from this series… Read more

OF COURSE, no-one is in a hurry to get up early; it’s Lockdown and it’s snowing. Standing at the cooker in my dressing gown stirring the porridge my mobile rings, and it’s a WhatsApp call. I’ve never had one of those before. So, I answered the call only to be confronted with my face and two other of my friends’ faces – male friends I should add – school friends from the 50s… Read more

The Lizard Orchid

Happy Wanderer asks  – Will the Reading Lizard Orchid flower again?
The first-ever ‘Happy Wanderer’ article, back in 2005, was about a plant that had turned up unexpectedly in the flower-bed by the door of Caversham Library. For some people, this would have been just a weed to be got rid of as soon as possible, but the plant was allowed to flower and set seed and, for me, it was a chance to see an unusual species at close quarters, to look for it in books, and to learn about it.

When I first arrived in Reading, now over 50 years ago, it was because I’d been offered a job, but one of the incidental inducements to come here was that I’d be in the south, and on chalk. I’d grown up on acidic soils in the north of England where many wild plants just don’t grow… Read more

THERE are three kinds of woodpecker in my neck of the woods.
Curious phrase ‘neck of the woods’. The Concise Oxford Dictionary, my bible, let me down with the etymology – pity I gave away the full edition. However, there has been keen debate online about the phrase. It was used in a book ‘Tour Ireland’ in 1780, and in another book ‘Americanisms’ in 1871. One theory is that it comes from an old Scots word neuk (nook or corner), or the German … Read more

Common Blue Butterfly

Taking flight in May
IN THE April edition I wrote about inviting wildlife into your garden. This month I highlight three May visitors. Can you spot these in your garden?
At the beginning of May, the blue butterfly in the garden is a Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) The upper side of the wings of males is bright blue, whereas the female has a noticeable black band across about a quarter of the upper wing. You’ll find them flying high towards and around holly trees, where the female lays eggs on the flowers.
You might see Tree Bumblebees… Read more

A Crafty Cuppa – with Pam Chatfield
IT WAS SO lovely to have my first ‘A Crafty Cuppa’ with Pam Chatfield, Caversham resident and maker of bags, garden aprons and bunting. We chatted ‘virtually’, as is the way, but it didn’t stop us having a good natter about all things sewing!
“I grew up just knowing how to sew,” Pam told me. “My mother made our clothes on her Singer machine, which I learnt to use. When I left home to train as a nurse, the first thing I did was to go to John Lewis and buy my own sewing machine.”… Read more

Come on Chelsea
IT’S MAY “the merry month of May”; well let’s hope so. But it’s not a good start when due to the pandemic the RHS have postponed the famous Chelsea Flower Show until September, after it was called off last year.
It might surprise you when I say, over the years, I have attended the Chelsea show more than fifty times. That should make me very knowledgeable but sadly I have spent most of the time standing around trying to sell delphinium seed. Admittedly during breaks I have had a chance to look around… Read more

House plants
FOR A long time the modern home has featured plants; the practice of bringing the outside in, although influenced by changing interior trends, has persisted. It began with modest and practical pot plants, brought into the home for medicinal purposes and their ability to perfume stagnant air. In the 17th century efforts were made to cultivate highly prized citrus fruits in elaborate orangeries and glass houses. Curiosity evolved into botany, and advances in the discipline gave us the Linnean system of classification and nomenclature. We embraced indoor gardening like never before… Read more

Walk they all welcomed
AT MICKLANDS Primary School, we pride ourselves on our community spirit, which is why the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) wanted to take the opportunity to show our love for the amazing Micklands’ teachers, staff, parents and students. The winter lockdown had been hard for us all, so we decided to create an explosion of colour along Micklands Road to welcome everyone back to school on Monday 8 March. This Welcome Walk was a perfect way to thank teachers and staff, say well done to parents and welcome back to children!… Read more

Community Connections – Chris Walton
CHRIS WALTON opened Waltons Jewellers and Goldsmiths as a fresh faced 26-year-old back in December 1986 and has been a goldsmith for over 40 years.
A local lad, Chris attended Chiltern Edge School in Sonning Common, where his parents ran the Bird in Hand Pub. Chris always enjoyed and excelled in the practical elements of school and knew from an early age that he wanted to be a jeweller. He learned his craft by completing a 5-year apprenticeship in goldsmithing at Jobins Jewellers in Henley… Read more

Fireplace that lit a passion for sculpture
This month Elestr Lee meets long-time Caversham resident Roger Smalley, who discovered a talent for working in stone through one of those classic 80s DIY projects…
OUR ARTIST grew up in Earley, Reading. Having moved to Gosbrook Road during the 1980s, he was faced with the familiar 80s horror story – a boarded-up fireplace. Having freed up the fireplace, Roger decided it would be good to replace the stone surround that would originally have been a feature of the room, so he visited the stonemason AF Jones – many of us will have passed their outlet on the A4074 near Ipsden … Read more

Mary Kift – life in the land army
Our April edition featured an article on Mary Kift, who was best known for her book – Life in Old Caversham – to mark what would have been her 100th birthday.
In preparing the article, a wealth of information about her eventful earlier life came to light. This second article draws from Mary’s own words in an interview recorded at the Museum of English Rural Life. It provides an insight to rural life in the 1940’s and the work of the women of the Land Army.
Read more

A shot in the dark – photo competition
THE NIGHT is a magical time to be out with a camera and can become a creative opportunity to immerse yourself in a surreal world, out of reach of your own eyes.
The compression of time in a long exposure photograph – the trails of light crafted in the fourth dimension has forever been captivating to me, especially since picking up an SLR camera in 2006. As a night photographer, I grew from shooting any interesting scenes I could find around Emmer Green, Caversham and the Reading area, to travelling across much of Eastern Europe… Read more

First Impressions Matter
DID YOU know there’s more than one type of CV format? All showcase your skills, experience and achievements, but in different ways. Below are outlined three types of CV and why you might use them… Read more

Learning, laughing and living
INTERNATIONAL organisation u3a is a charitable, self-help learning platform for people who have completed careers or finished raising a family.
Reading u3a, with over 600 members, provides the opportunity to make new like-minded friends… Read more

Heads Down
“I HAVE PUT A coloured marker under the ball. When you’ve played your shot, tell me which one I’ve put there,” Carol Jamieson told Pam Briggs, a former nurse, on her first lesson in croquet.
Carol, a Caversham Croquet Club member… Read more

Get Jamming – Raspberry Jam
This jam is an absolute family favourite, my daughter won’t have any other flavour on her toast! Raspberry Jam is one of the simplest and quickest recipes to follow. You’ll be making your own in no time! This recipe will make 5-6 jars which will keep up to 12 months in a dark cupboard… Read more