Lights, camera… outdoor cinema action

Three of my guilty pleasures – watching movies, lounging outside and getting tipsy in one delicious bundle at The Swan at Streatley's first ever outdoor film night.

Three of my favourite unholy activities – watching movies, lounging outside and getting tipsy – are currently combining in one delicious bundle as the outdoor cinema nights kickstart in Berkshire. If you’re partial to the same, get your deckchairs and picnic rugs at the ready and don’t forget to pack your extra strong mints if you’re looking for action in the back row. First up, The Swan at Streatley with its first EVER al fresco film night.

In terms of location, it doesn’t get prettier than this. Set up in the garden of The Swan at Streatley you’re surrounded by weeping willows, bobbing boats, swans and their goslings, and the sound of moving water. This may result in multiple trips to the loo but, let’s be honest, when you’re settling in to watch a classic – Top Gun, no less – it beats the VIP seats at the multiplex and your living room sofa hands down.

It is June, it should be sunny. It’s not! I’m wearing the warmest coat I own, the rain is not holding off, but no one seems to care. Got to love a the true Brit spirit. That said, we had had a fair few drinkies as we waited for darkness to fall. Gin and tonic, rosé wine – all the summer classics were sampled.

While The Swan’s hotel and restaurant are undergoing a mahoosive makeover, you’ll find gourmet street food popping up for their live music nights and, lucky for us, for the outdoor cinema. Chilli Dogs were on hand to serve up the pimped up daddy of all dogs. I chose the classic Chilli Dog – smoky sausage, topped with chilli con carne, cheese and fresh chillies. I’m not gonna lie, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever eaten. But and there is a big BUT, it was sooo good you just wanted to stick your face in it. Yes I probably did look a hot mess. But the rain had already taken care of that, so whatever.

At dusk, we grabbed our wireless headphones took a seat in the garden, festooned with twinkly lights and a giant inflatable cinema screen on the edge of the river. I chose the more dignified chair option for fear the neon inflatable double cushions would result in an undignified entry and exit. It would be like watching Bambi on a bouncy castle.

Then, Top Gun came on in all its glory. Tom (pre-cosmetic dentistry and Scientology) looking pretty hot in and out his uniform. Yes it’s cheesy, but I love love LOVE this film. I can even tolerate Kelly McGilliss’s naff acting because who doesn’t feel the need… the need for speed (sorry, not sorry).

Anyway, the sound was great, I rocked the headphones (next stop Ibiza set at Pascha) and the location is just so blinking beautiful, you simply cannot help but relax, unwind and enjoy. I sincerely hope this becomes a regular thing throughout the summer months because I cannot think of a better way to spend a Thursday night. Drinking, eating, watching one of my favourite 80s films in one of the prettiest places on earth.

The Swan at Streatley, High Street, Streatley-on-Thames Berkshire RG8 9HR. Tel: 01491 878800 theswanatstreatley.com 

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