We celebrate our deep pool of talents
ALMOST TWO years ago, Caversham Bridge began its monthly Creative Caversham feature, with the initial idea of highlighting the work of artists and craftspeople who would have taken part in the Caversham Arts Trail, which was suspended due to the pandemic: in June 2020 we featured the work of weaver Gloria Pitt. The wealth of local talent of those who live or regularly exhibit in the area, as well as writers and musicians, is clearly extraordinary.
We are rightly proud of the creative people within our community, some of whom have attained national, and even international, recognition for their work – like industrial photographer Matt Emmett and artist Nicolette Carter, who won an episode of TV’s Home Is Where The Art Is…Read more

All in the mix for May
OUR THEME for May is creativity – musical, artistic, in the garden or in the kitchen. We mark the return of the Caversham Arts Trail, after a break of two years, with an expanded paper which includes a map of the trail and details of the artists involved (p10-11). Our regular Creative Caversham article features the founders of the Arts Trail, Julie Simmonds and Lauren Denney (p9), while our lead article looks back at the artists we have featured in recent editions of the paper (this page). We also have our regular Local Scene, with a drawing of St John’s Church by Janina Maher and background history from Martin Andrews (p16).…Read more

Making connections – Engage
ENGAGE BEFRIENDING tackles isolation by matching one of our team of volunteers with someone in need of a friend. We have 20 volunteers visiting or telephoning older people in Caversham.
However, we are in need of more volunteers in the area. As a volunteer you would visit a friend once a week or fortnight. It may be for a cuppa and chat, a short walk, out for a coffee or to visit a place of interest nearby. Two of our older clients say: “…such a valuable service, just seeing someone once a week or so when we wouldn’t have much contact, my befriender has been such a support and a good friend”…Read more

Caversham Jam
APRIL WAS the month of traffic chaos in Caversham, as captured in these photos. Extended work to install new broadband cables for CityFibre by contractor Instalcom has affected many parts of our area. But the work over Caversham Bridge and through the centre of Caversham has been particularly disruptive, with temporary traffic lights causing lengthy queues.  In addition, work by the Last Crumb, although completed quickly, added to the problem…Read more

The Road Home
THIS BLANKET uses a pattern called “Safe at Home” and was knitted over a period of 10 weeks by a team of ten crafters from the St Peter’s Church craft group.
There are 103 houses in the blanket, each of which is different and the woolly road keeps them all together. The blanket will be given to Berkshire Women’s Aid to provide warmth and comfort to someone who needs it.…Read more


Back to the future
We asked Rob Sproule, who is overseeing the refurbishment at Caversham Baptist Church, for an update on progress. His response was: The hoardings are still up but we’re in!
OUR CONTRACTORS, Morris & Blunt Ltd, handed back all internal parts of our building on 21 March – and what a transformation! The building is warm, the loos are modern, the upper hall is almost unrecognisable with its dramatic new look, kitchenette and other services. A new assisted hearing system has been installed in both the main hall and lounge…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.
THE END OF March brought news on two major schemes. The Secretary of State will not ‘call in’ the Reading Golf Club site application 211843 and the formal approval has been issued. As far as we know, the appeal on the refused application (210018) will proceed in June. The planning application for Caversham Park is now online.
It includes: conversion of the main building for 64 assisted living units; a new 64-bed care home; retirement dwellings on the car park and by the previous satellite dishes; 28 affordable and 5 family homes near the site entrance; and refurbishment and extension of the pavilion to provide changing facilities and a café/studio supporting facilities for croquet, bowling and tennis…Read more

For your bookshelf….
Welcome to ‘Fourbears Reviews’ where we briefly review a couple of chosen titles from our bookshop ‘Fourbears Books’ on Prospect Street. We are coming up to the summer so a great chance to pick up some holiday reads.

THE FIRST BOOK this month is ‘Insomnia’ by Sarah Pinborough. Visitors to the shop know what a fan of Pinborough I am. This tells the story of Emma, who is approaching her 40th birthday. Emma is a little anxious as her mum stopped sleeping just before her 40th birthday, and went mad before committing a terrible act. A couple of days before her 40th Emma suddenly can’t sleep, and she is terrified history is repeating itself. Sarah Pinborough is a talented writer who can capture a whole scene and an array of feelings with just a few words. This is a real page-turner…Read more

CAVERSHAM-BASED musician and composer Janet Sherbourne is celebrating the re-release on cassette of an album originally made in the 1980s. ‘Walks Abroad’ was composed by Janet and fellow composer Mark Lockett, with tracks all performed by Janet, Mark and Janet’s husband and saxophonist Jan Steele. “We made around seven albums on vinyl, CD and cassette during the 80s. People still get in touch, sending emails asking us ‘are they still available?’, but they sold out yonks ago!” she told us…Read more

Happy Wanderer gets a taste for: Wild Garlic

FOR THE month of May, I thought it was high time I wrote something on a natural history subject for a change, so here’s a picture I took in Great Chalk Wood near Goring in May 2011, showing the flowers of the Wild Garlic, or Ramsons.
It’s not exactly a common plant, and it tends to occur in damp places, under trees, and often in large colonies. The Reading Natural History Society reported it growing ‘near Kent Woods, Tilehurst, and in Hardwick Woods’, in their book, ‘List of the Flowering Plants … of the Country near Reading’, published in 1900. The broad green leaves make it hard to mistake for anything else. They are nothing like the narrow leaves of other garlic species, and the bulb is much smaller than cultivated garlic, and without the masses of cloves wrapped in a papery skin…Read more

OH DEAR! In a recent issue of the Caversham Bridge we made clear the old Caversham Heights Bridge Club was in trouble. It became an indirect victim of Covid-19 and had to close. Although some new people were interested, the existing membership became so depleted that, in the end, there was nothing to join!…Read more

AFTER SERVING my country for two years in the Royal Air Force in the 1950s, like so many young blokes, I returned to civilian life a changed man. I had learned quite a few things during my national service, mostly knowing how to swear, and discovering dance bands and their music. In those days there wasn’t any television, so we listened to the wireless and heard tunes with lyrics we still remember to this day, songs such as ‘The Yellow Rose of Texas’ by Mitch Miller, and ‘Put Another Nickelin the Nickelodeon’ by Teresa Brewer…Read more

Following a two-year break, the Caversham Arts Trail is back – and celebrating its 10th anniversary. Elestr Lee gets to meet Julie Simmonds and Lauren Denney, the event’s organisers

IT WAS back in 2010 (which now seems a very long time ago!) that two local artists, Julie Simmonds and Lauren Denney, got together in a pub with a few other artistic friends, and started to plan the very first Caversham Arts Trail (CAT).
“The other artists were Mary Phelan, Gloria Pitt, Charles Burns and Nina O’Connell,” Julie recalls. “We wanted to reveal that there were many artists working quietly behind closed doors in Caversham and Emmer Green. We decided that peoples’ homes and studios should be the venues, as it was important that visitors could see the artists at work. During the very first trail there were 17 artists whose work was displayed in seven venues…Read more

Dying Matters Week
DYING MATTERS is a national organisation working for the benefit of people affected by death and dying. It collaborates with hospice members and partners who work in end of life care. National Dying Matters Week this year is from 2 to 6 May and local events have been planned to coincide with this.
Reading Mayor, Rachel Eden, is passionate about everyone having a positive end of life experience, and she has been co-ordinating Dying Matters’ activities at a local level in Reading for several years…Read more

After Life … Afterlife? – by John Symons
IT SELDOM happens that someone writing a book review actually talks to the author of the book. But, thanks to a friend, on this occasion, I was fortunate enough to speak on the telephone to John Symons, author of ‘After Life … Afterlife?’.
He acknowledges that he feels great sympathy with, and respect for, those who do not believe in the life of the world to come. He admits he was once the same. He explains frankly what he now believes and why. It is a book for all, whether Christian, belonging to another faith, or none…Read more

Planting for a greener future
LOCAL VOLUNTARY groups have been working hard this winter to increase carbon storage and biodiversity in the Caversham area.
The Tree Wardens and Reading Borough Council have planted lots more standard street trees in Caversham, whilst volunteers from Conserve Reading on Wednesdays and Keep Emmer Green put in the first 40 metres of a new hedge alongside the Peppard Road by the Emmer Green shops, which will provide winter shelter and spring nectar for wildlife. Hopefully, this area will turn into a useful place for the community, with reduced vehicle fumes and street noise. This hedge line will be continued in future years.
Friends of Mapledurham Playing Fields planted another 65 whips in the scrub area alongside Hewett Avenue, to give wildlife more nectar in the spring and fruits and nuts for the autumn, as well as leaves and cover during the summer months…Read more

IF LIKE ME you have been around for some while, you will realise how, over the years, things in the garden world have changed – some for the better and some, possibly, for the worse. Many chemicals such as DDT, dieldrin and aldrin, which we used to spread around with not a care in the world, are now thankfully banned. We used deadly asbestos sheets n our shed roofs with aplomb, and some people gaily puffed away at a cigarette or two as they made sure they deep dug two spits down for their potato patch. Instead of gravel and cars, our front gardens then had neat beds of marigolds and antirrhinums.
Sadly, these days some flowers which were once so popular have also tended to fade a little into the background. Here I am mostly thinking of the three old favourites: chrysanthemums, dahlias and roses…Read more

The Workhorse of Summer
I WAS FIRST introduced to a variety of this plant on a trip to a garden centre around thirty years ago. They were a bargain – 3 for £5 – lovely blue flowers and foliage. Duly planted at the front of my then empty border, they flowered for a month or so. I cut them back not thinking I would see them again and they flowered again, with new fresh foliage. What was this miracle plant? It turned out it was a hardy geranium. It was wrongly named, I found out later, but the correct name of this blue flowered wonder is Geranium Himalayense.
My next purchase was a Geranium Psilostemon, which grew much bigger and beefier with large leaves and bright magenta flowers…Read more

The Local Scene – St John’s Church
I HAVE always been struck by the huge expanse of terracotta roof on St John’s, so clearly featured in Janina Maher’s drawing; unusually a single tiled roof covers the nave and the aisles of the church. This contrasts with the beautiful knapped flint walls and stone detailing.
Situated in St John’s Road, it was built on a plot of land that was originally part of Bryant’s Farm. The population of Caversham greatly increased in the second half of the nineteenth century as a result of the expansion of the trades and industries of Reading, in particular the ‘three Bs’; biscuits, beer and bulbs…Read more

From Georgia with love
IN OUR APRIL edition, we reported on some of those who had responded quickly to the war in the Ukraine in support of the charities working with refugees and the injured.
For local café owners Keti and Zezva, the war was an unwelcome reminder of the Russian invasion of part of their homeland, Georgia, in 2008. The family moved to Caversham in 2007 and eventually opened the Geocafé in Prospect Street in 2018. They also have a shop in Henley. During the Covid-19 lockdown, the business changed its focus to sell fresh, local produce and bread baked on the premises, as well as takeaway refreshments…Read more

Primary Care
LOCALS BRAVED hail and sleet on Saturday 2 April to attend a bake sale for Ukraine held at Albert Road Park. Eleven-year-old Joel Bellingham dreamt up the idea, and roped in some enthusiastic Year Six classmates from Caversham Primary to help.
Planning and promoting the whole event themselves, they created posters, got friends and family to spread the word on social media and, of course, got baking…Read more

Let’s Talk Menopause
Shilpa McQuillan is a local resident, GP and menopause specialist, accredited by the British Menopause Society, who has set up a private menopause service – Berkshire Menopause Clinic – in Henley-on-Thames.
I AM A menopause specialist, GP and community gynaecologist. Alongside my career as a GP, I am now specialising in my lifetime’s passion to support women who are experiencing symptoms of peri menopause and menopause across South Oxfordshire and Berkshire.
Why has menopause become such a talked about subject? It is the time when important female hormones (oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) dramatically decline.
These hormones not only control the menstrual cycle, but have receptors in most parts of the body- heart, brain, musculoskeletal, skin, urinary tract and genital systems. If these hormones are not replenished, it can result in a range of symptoms…Read more

RG4 Academy
THE WELLER CENTRE is planning to bring new life to the green space next to its building and increase the use of the area for everyone. Although we plan to incorporate football facilities for children and young people, we will be improving the green space for everyone by increasing seating and bin provision, and ‘greenscaping’ wider area to protect the local nature and expand the variety of native trees and plants growing here. The Weller Centre will be funding this project, with support from The Earley Charity, and is committed to making it a success and increasing the use of this under-utilised space…Read more

Wellbeing with Ami Roy – Mineral wealth!
CALCIUM IS a mineral most often associated with healthy bones and teeth, although it also plays an important role in blood clotting, helping muscles to contract, and regulating normal heart rhythms and nerve functions.
We need regularly to replace calcium in our bodies to keep our bones and teeth strong, but it’s not just milk that can boost our calcium levels.
Calcium is the most common mineral found in the body. Hosted almost exclusively in our skeletons, calcium firms the structure of our bones, which are made mostly of flexible collagen…Read more