The Berkshire Show

mnberksMy Trip to the Berkshire Show

The Berkshire Show, organised annually by the Newbury & District Agricultural Society, is a weekend jam packed full of things of family friendly things to do and see all related to country life. There is so much to see including lots of animals, agricultural machinery, areas to shop for hand-made goods and so much more.

My husband and I took our two year old and our one year old to the Berkshire Show on Saturday 20th September. The first thing that struck us was that it was quite well organised. There are plenty of car parks (some that are free and one that charges £5 for the day) each labelled with a colour and they even had row numbers. They do pack you in and we did complain that there wasn’t a lot of room to reverse your car without risking hitting a car parked in the row behind. There was also poor sign posting for getting out of the rows of cars in the car park to leave the car park but that was our bugbear for the day.

My two year old was amazed from the start because we started off looking at some beautiful birds of prey and although we have plenty of Red Kite where we live, you don’t often get a close up view. We also saw a variety of snakes & lizards, enjoyed the petting zoo with goats, chickens, rabbits & donkeys, and enjoyed going to look at all the show animals including Lamas, pigs, sheep and poultry. On that note, I didn’t like the Poultry tent because all the animals were in very small cages and I felt quite uncomfortable about that. Whilst I appreciate it is only for a weekend event, the thought of them being cooped up and crammed in really rather upset me. The larger animals had a lot more space to roam about.

bs1There were tractors, diggers, combine harvesters and all sorts of machinery on show. Whilst it’s not really my interest, my husband and son both really enjoyed looking at them all. I was very entertained to discover that there is also a Police tractor – something I had never given any thought to.

As well as lots to see, there were many tents with kids areas for them to sit down for a bit and do some drawing, enter competitions and get some nice freebies! I was particularly happy to see a tent specifically for baby changing and feeding with a nice play area for the little ones to let off steam. I had been walking around for a few minutes trying to work out where I was going to change a nappy without being right in everyone’s way. There were also volunteers walking around telling parents where this tent was which I think was very handy.

The animals were in lots of competitions so you could listen to the judges and commentary on what was being looked for amongst the animals to pick a winner.

I was really impressed by and really enjoyed looking at all the hand made wooden crafts from benches and chairs to garden animals & walking sticks. The talent is fantastic. I only wish a few more had been Berkshire based!

Some of you would recognise them from Britians Got Talent – Bolddog Lings Freestyle FMX team were there doing a Motorcycle stunt display. We didn’t get to see it but heard from others that it was fantastic to see. The Main arena also featured show jumping and heavy horses.

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Along with crafts, photography and cookery demonstrations there was something for everyone. We noticed that most of the people there were older and not so many families. That’s a bit disappointing for us because we thought it was a great place to take the children.

berkshire showThere was plenty of seating but not enough toilets. The toilers they did have always seemed to be a long walk from where I was and at one point I had a debate about whether I could hold it or not. So for future years they really need more toilets especially with the huge number of visitors attending.

Overall, a great day with lots to see and do for all the family. You can buy tickets in advance or on the day but it is obviously more expensive on the day. For more information on the Berkshire show, visit their website here: http://www.berkshireshow.co.uk/

My tickets were free but this in no way influenced the outcome of my review.

Mumsnet Berkshire does Pan Asian dining!

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My review of Cosmo Restaurant, Reading, Berkshire

I love food. I love eating out. It’s something I rarely do these days with a toddler and a baby because it’s usually too much hard work entertaining a toddler and not really relaxing. So when Cosmo, Reading invited me to come along for a free meal with my husband to see what their restaurant is like, I called in the babysitters AKA Nanny & Grandad!

Cosmo is a pan Asian, world food banquet dining restaurant – or to you and me, an all you can eat comprising Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Pizza and good old English food.

As you enter through the front door, the queue is split into two lines – those who have booked and those who haven’t. This makes it so much quicker to get in if you have booked a table and the queue did get very long so its clearly a popular restaurant. There is also a small area to leave your buggy. Unfortunately, its not possibly to take your buggies into the restaurant.

03292013022001-2We went on a Sunday lunchtime at midday so it had only just opened when we arrived. As you walk in the room is split into three dinstinct areas: seating, food, more seating. It’s massive!! The food was laid out and presented beautifully. As well as looking fresh and smelling great, you can also watch some of the food being cooked at live cooking stations.

I was struck by the décor. The walls are a modern grey and the chairs are cream and very comfortable to sit on. It was very atmospheric. We were shown to our seats and ordered our refillable soft drinks (sadly no alcohol to consume when you have to go back to looking after the littlies) and the staff explained we could go up when we were ready. So we did!

You go up and take a plate, help yourselves to what you want and then go eat it! Simple. I like buffet dining because it is instant and being a mum, time is usually of the essence. I don’t like buffet style because I always worry about freshness of food and hygiene. But it was very clean and the majority of dishes had lids on which I appreciated. There is an area in front of each row of food where you can place your plate which is really useful for having a nosey under the lids of the food before making your choice.

As well as starter, main and side options, they also have a wide variety of small desserts. So even when you are stuffed from the mains, there is ALWAYS room for a small pud. There was a fruit option, was well as cakes & ice cream. Children were well catered for with many simple kiddy foods as well as sweeties for on your ice cream. But if they were feeling adventurous we definitely thought it is a great place to introduce children to new flavours.

Cosmo is family friendly. I didn’t see any high chairs but then I didn’t see any really young children when we arrived. There were people of all ages there enjoying their lunch and it got very busy. It was a little bit weird to finish your plateful to have it whisked away before you have even put your fork down but it stops the table getting cluttered.

We did stop and rest for a while between platefuls so I could assess how full I was and just enjoy some people watching. This was the only time I felt rushed because the staff assumed we had finished and were tidying around us and asking if we wanted any tea or coffee. I don’t think that was meant purposefully to hurry us up though. It is run in an efficient manner and we found the staff very polite.

The tables are very close together so if you had lots of bags, it would be quite a squeeze to get through to your seat and if you love to know what others are talking about then you can easily listen in because you are so close. But this is the problem of modern dining and not something I’ve seen only at Cosmo.

The food was delicious. The mains were tasty and flavoursome (and I tried as many as a could haha!) but I found the desserts a little bland. That said, my husband liked his choices of dessert. It would have been nice to have the desserts labelled because it wasn’t always obvious what it was i.e you think its chocolate but its coffee flavoured (this always upsets me because I hate coffee – love the smell of it though!).

Overall, we really enjoyed our meal out at Cosmo and would recommend it as somewhere for the whole family, meals out with friends, and it has the space for larger parties too.

You can find out more about Cosmo Reading here.