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Cork popping fun at Basildon Park

Fun, fizz and my new Muddy friends at the Muddy Awards winners' party.

It was a Muddy takeover at Basildon Park on Thursday. The bottles of bubbly were on ice, the sun was shining and the coach loads of visitors to this stunning National Trust property looked utterly bemused as we tottered in with more and more fizz to celebrate the success of our 27 Berkshire winners.

We had the stunning Garden Room and rose garden all to ourselves and the winners had come to party. The prosecco was flowing, Ma’ Muddy was on hand to pass around the nibbles and new friendships forged. I had feared the heatwave would require more Club Tropicana vibes with bikinis, paddling pools and Pina Coladas. No bad thing, but not quite the classy affair we were going for. But the temperature dropped long enough to enjoy the sunshine and not melt into a puddle of sweat. HURRAH!

Turn out was brilliant. Nearly all the winning businesses made to our Muddy bash (for those of you on trips abroad, or busy dressing people for events, we missed you!) and once we’d all got over the gob-smacking gorgeousness of the venue, we relaxed and had a really fun couple of hours.

Everyone thought photographer Mel Baston-Hall was fantastic and I always surprise myself at how easy it is to quaff a few cheeky glasses of fizz before midday! The food was provided by last year’s Best Cafe winners The Pantry. Pimped up sausage rolls, scones with jam and cream, cheese cones with soured cream and chive the yummiest brownies ever. The food was a triumph, everyone raved about it – and not a morsel was left. Not one bite. A massive thank you from me to David, Gemma and Lara, and make sure you pop in and see for a cuppa and lunch in Yattendon. You won’t be disappointed.

It was so relaxing, I almost forgot I had to actually do a bit of work and throw a speech together! I am in awe of the businesses in Berkshire. The passion, the commitment, the ambition is really inspiring. Who needs London, when we have the best of the best on our doorstep? With Antonia and Holly from Timpanys in Sunninghill looking like they’d stepped out of the pages of Vogue – I am seriously coveting both their dresses, I’ll be heading to Antonia’s boutique soon to rifle through the rails.

We were in the presence of local royalty when Alan Hayward arrived to accept his Best Farm Shop Award for Casey Field Farm Shops at Vicars Game. Unfortunately the boys from the The Oxford Blue (Best Restauarant) were busy serving the Ascot crowd, but the gorgeous PR diva Charlotte Davey was despatched to West Berkshire to accept their award. They’ve only been open for six months and I’ll bet money on a Michelin star being awarded for Stephen Ellis’s epic food experience. In our two newest categories Best Photographer winner Chris Kemp was sunning himself abroad as was Hellin the owner of the Shepherd’s Hut Chievely but her lovely parents stepped off a plane a few hours earlier to receive her award.

In case you missed it, here is the full list of ALL our wonderful winners. Please make sure you pay them a visit and use their services over the coming months. I know they’d be delighted to see you, and they are winners for a reason! That goes for all our finalists actually, because there were some brilliant last minute tussles for first place and it was really gutting for some of them to have missed out by just a couple of votes in some cases. Show them your support by knocking on their doors!

So that’s it, the first Muddy Stilettos Berkshire Awards are over! Thanks to Basildon Park for letting us host the event in such a glorious setting, and to all our wonderful Berkshire businesses who took part, and to the thousands of you who voted for them. It really has been a true testament to how much you value our wonderful independents by making the second Muddy Stilettos Berkshire Awards such a success.

A few more bottles of fizz and I’ll be ready for the Muddy Awards 2018!

Rachel x

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