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Newsflash! Hot foodie, festival and film news

Cool new foodie hangouts, Hollywood films shooting in the 'hood, and more gin than you can shake a cocktail umbrella at - it's all going on in Berkshire.

FOOD & DRINK

Blue Collar Corner Reading

Ready for shipping container chic? Blue Collar Corner – a super-cool street food arena – will open in Reading on 12 March. The Blue Collar Food team have taken a derelict site on Hosier Street and transformed it into a hip hangout celebrating the best local food and drink producers.

Blue Collar Street Food Concept

The new venue will feature a bar, two floors, four kitchens and a huge beer garden.The beer is from Reading brewery Double-Barrelled, cocktails from the bar, rooftop vibes, banging DJ sets and award-winning fried chicken from Gurt Wings, Neapolitan pizzas from Sarv’s Slice, incredible bao buns from YouBao and vegan tacos from The Taco Tree.

Another new opening coming down the track, and we’re giddy with excitement at Muddy Berks HQ. The Ivy Royal Windsor will finally open this summer. The team had to press pause on the project during the pandemic, but they’re now recruiting staff and will swing open its stylish doors when the weather warms and (and just in time for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. The brasserie sits opposite the gardens of Windsor Castle in the in a former Tower Hotel. We think you’ll love the old school feel of the red brick facade, with interiors that add a flash of colour and funky fitting.

Image: doughnuttime_uk/ Instagram

Life is sweet in Wokingham. So sweet, in fact, it’ll give you toothache. Doughnut Time – the pop culture-inspired artisan doughnut company – opens its second shop on Denmark Street in Wokingham this weekend. The bonkers creations are made to make your Insta feed pop – that’s providing you managed to get a snap before sticking it in your mouth. 

This will be the brand’s third outpost in Berkshire. The Reading shop opened on Riverside last year and you’ll find a funky van parked outside Bills at The Lexicon Bracknell. Doughnut Time became a foodie destination when social media obsessed foodies went (dough) nuts for the handmade creations; when the first store opened in Soho back in 2017. Head to the Wokingham shop between and 9.30am and 2pm for free samples. 

U. artisan bakery wokingham

It’s carb heaven in Wokingham right now, because as well as doughnuts, a new bakery has launched. U. Bakery offers a stunning selection of breads and pastries inspired by owner Uri’s childhood in Tel Aviv and travels around the world. Everything’s baked in house, by hand and Uri specialises in long fermented sourdoughs. Although I’ve got my eye on the cinnamon buns and chocolate babka look amazing. The best bit? You simply order online for local collection or delivery to your door and you can buy par baked to finish off in your own oven for that freshly baked magic. Carb lovers will be in clover.

Also a sad goodbye to the current team at Goring and Strearley’s characterful and award-winning pub, The Miller of Mansfield, which closed recently after the current owners couldn’t reach an agreement with landlords on the rent. After surviving a fire and COVID, Mary & Nick said the price hike was the final nail in the coffin. There’s hints of a new venture, which will be foodie and local, so I’ll let you know when I hear more.

Now onto the subject of local gin (my Mastermind specialist subject in case you hadn’t twigged), there are even more ways to enjoy it thanks to Cookham Cocktail Club. Launching 4 March, this is a party that comes to you – in the form of a gin tasting event, mixology class or any gin-themed shindig you can dream up. Cocktails can be locally themed using ingredients that are sourced nearby, or if you’ve got the mixologist bit down pat, you can just order a bottle of its signature gin ‘No.5’ (which, fun fact, is developed and distilled by Jacob at The Henley Distillery!).

PLACES TO STAY

And here’s another gorgeously renovated beauty because, hey, you’re worth it… Boutique country inn Hare & Hound has reopened in Speen, just a smidgen outside Newbury, after a stunning refurb. The 16th century inn is still a whole lotta Georgian grandeur with a cosy vibes of a country inn – all brae beams, stone flags and roaring fires. The 30 bedrooms have a mix of wet rooms, standalone copper tubs, some have connecting rooms. Downstairs you can enjoy farm-to-table dining (and fab cocktails). #awaitsastampede

ARTS & CULTURE

MORCHEEBA Readipop
Morcheeba @ Readipop Festival

Get your diary out for a summer of fun. Readipop Festival (8-10 Jul) has just announced its first line up. Hip hop legends Sugarhill Gang (with Melle Mel and Scorpio from Furious 5), Morcheeba, British soul and trip hop pioneers with over 10 million global album sales, and Mercury Music Prize winner Badly Drawn Boy are the star names at this year’s three day festival at Christchurch Meadows in Reading. All money raised by the popular family-friendly festival helps support Readipop’s charity work providing access to music for vulnerable young people and other underrepresented communities locally.

R&B singer Craif David in back and white jacket pink background Newbury Racecourse Party in the Paddock

A little further down the Thames, Henley Festival (6-10 Jul) has just announced The Script, Craig David, Tom Jones and Pete Tong will be playing at this year’s event. So dust off you evening gown and tuxedo for a p;osh party with lashings of Champagne. Henley Festival is celebrating its 40 year anniversary (kudos!) so it’ll be an extra special do.

The phenomenon that is Rewind Festival is back with a bang in 2022 and has rounded up some massive names from bygone pop to delight its adoring fans – Frankie Goes to Hollywood lead vocalist Holly Johnson, Mica Paris, Chesney Hawkes Kim Wilde, Belinda Carlisle, the Human League, and Martin Kemp will all grace the stage in Henley on 19-21 August (there’s also events in Scotland in July and Macclesfield in early Aug). Expect the usually refined Henley streets to be filled with festival goers in all sorts of neon get-up, meanwhile inside there will be all sorts of antics around the inflatable church, silent disco, riverside stage and many many bars.

Although Amazon Prime’s hotly anticipated, big budget Lord Of The Rings TV series is not due to hit the streaming service until this September, filming is about to start on season two – in Bray. The second installation, starring Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur and Nazanin Boniadi, will be filmed in the UK (rather than New Zealand) and Bray Film Studios will be the big budget series’ base. It boasts almost 54,000 square feet of studio space and a 183,000-square-foot backlot. Mamma Mia and Rocketman are among the productions to have used the studio, as well as the series Dracula.

WINNERSH FILM STUDIO VIRTUAL PRODUCTION STAGE

Hollywood hottie George Clooney will be filming The Boys In The Boat in his own backyard (well almost). The star is co-directing the film at Stage Fifty’s new Winnersh Film Studios, which boasts a super whizzy virtual production stage. The Boys In The Boat, stars Callum Turner (Emma, Fantastic Beasts), is about how the University of Washington’s men’s rowing team shocked the world to win gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, defeating their elite rivals, including Adolf Hitler’s German team. The project, based on a book by Daniel James Brown, starts shooting in the spring.

AND FINALLY…

Want a blink and you’ll miss moment on the big screen? The Casting Collective has put out an urgent call for extras needed in Wiltshire for a major new 1930s feature film. Filming is taking place from now until end of June 2022 and they’re looking for extras of all ages, gender and of ethnicities. Filming will be taking place in Wiltshire and London, and you’ll need to be able to get to Reading for costume fittings. So if you’re aged 17+, this could be your time to shine.

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