8 of the best ideas for Mother’s Day 2019 in Berkshire
PUBLISHED: 12:38 05 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:31 08 March 2019
The UK sends around 30 million cards and spends £55 million on chocolates for Mother’s Day. How about this year, instead of saying it with flowers and chocolates, you share an experience together you won’t forget?
A visit to a spa is a Mother’s Day classic, and we’re blessed with a great selection of them here in Berkshire. Click here to find out more.
Take to the water
Have lunch onboard a boat on the River Thames. The French Brothers are launching this year’s boat trips on Mother’s Day with a special Sunday lunch cruise. Board the boat at Runnymede Boathouse for the three-hour cruise through Old Windsor Lock, past Datchet village and through the grounds of Windsor Castle. Tickets cost £44 per person.
Be with the birds
Get up close and personal with some of the amazing birds at Feathers and Fur Falconry Centre near Reading on any of their experience days. Mum could handle and fly a variety of raptors including a Harris Hawk and Barn Owl during a three-hour session. If you’re looking for a memory she won’t forget, it costs £65, and for an extra £15, you can be there to take photos.
Crazy for castles
Visit Highclere Castle near Newbury, known for the famous Downton Abbey series. Lord and Lady Carnarvon are hosting a special Mother’s Day event on 31 March. Take the guided tour of the castle followed by Champagne Afternoon Tea in the State Dining Room, then explore the Egyptian Exhibition in the cellars. £120 per person, which includes a gift bag.
Shaw House in Newbury has had a turbulent history since it was first built in 1581. Now a space for schools, marriages, exhibitions, shows, and tea and cake, it’s much more than a museum to its past. Take mum along on 28 March for a special spring flowers workshop, where you can join in creating seasonal flowers in a basket. Tutor Kim Harrison will be providing all the materials you need to make something really special for the table on Mother’s Day. It costs £30, which includes all materials.
www.westberkshireheritage.org, to book call 01635 279279
Beautiful gift for the history buff
We are lucky in Berkshire to have some fabulous old historic properties that anyone can visit. But there are many private period properties too in Berkshire, with the older ones having listed building status due to their special architectural and historical importance. If you or your family are fortunate enough to own a period home, you might wish to find out more about its past, such as when it was built and how it has been developed over time, but it is also fascinating to discover who else has lived there.
At Benchmark House Histories, they produce bespoke histories of properties, which are presented in hardback book form or as a print that can be framed. Launched in 2010 by Carol Fulton and Cathy Soughton, they have worked on a range of properties all over the UK, from cottages to castles. Having viewed the building, they spend time in the archives delving into records to piece together the history of the property. “We like to compare it to doing a jigsaw, where you are not aware at the outset whether you have all the pieces or what the finished picture will look like!” says Carol. “We try to find out about the owners and occupiers of houses, as that can provide the most interesting detail. When beginning a project you never know what you will find out and we have discovered a few bigamists, ex-convicts and scoundrels − whilst more unusual occupations have included Henry VI’s Keeper of the Royal Lions, a Roman Catholic recusant who nearly lost the house, a Master of the Mint, an adulterous music hall actress, a wealthy Champagne importer and a WW2 double agent who played a key role in misleading the Germans about D-Day.”
Each book is individually designed with an equal balance of archival material and text. There is also the option of including photographs of the house and garden for a more colourful presentation − or commissioning a line drawing of the property for inclusion in the book or print. What a lovely bespoke gift idea for Mum this Mother’s Day.
Laura Ashley The Tea Room at Burnham Beeches Hotel
Mum will be thrilled if you take her to the recently opened Laura Ashley Tea Rooms at Burnham Beeches Hotel on the Berkshire/Buckinghamshire borders to enjoy the most British of past-times. This place is stunning; draped from floor to ceiling in Laura Ashley design, and featuring products from the brand’s accessories collection. I was a little bit in awe when I walked into the room. It had beautiful chandeliers and large windows that flooded the room with light and offered gorgeous views over the hotel grounds. Yes, this is the perfect spot to while away a few hours.
Perusing the menu, my mouth started to water. I opted for the Traditional Afternoon Tea (£24 per person), which includes a selection of freshly made finger sandwiches, scones and cakes. I loved the cucumber, cream cheese and dill on granary bread, which was light and delicious, the Montgomery Cheddar cheese with chutney on tomato bread was tasty, and I also devoured the Wiltshire ham with grain mustard on onion bread and the Loch Duart smoked salmon and lemon butter on rye bread, but my favourite was the egg mayonnaise and cress in a brioche bun.
If you’re vegan, they have also just launched a vegan afternoon tea menu, with sandwiches including hummus and roasted vegetable, tomato and shallot chutney, and avocado and lime crostini. There’s vegan scones with jam plus sweet treats such as double chocolate cake, banana cake and fruit skewers.
I think the best course is always the scones, and these were divine. Served freshly baked and still warm, there was a sultana and plain scone each, served with artisan jam and lashings of Cornish clotted cream. Do you put the jam or the cream on first? I went cream then jam. Either way, they were heavenly.
When we came to the top tier, we were pretty full, but it was hard to resist the attractive cakes and patisserie selection by Head Pastry Chef Laura Zilio.
You can wash all this down with your choice of tea or coffee, or Prosecco or Champagne.
One thing is for sure: Mum will love this treat. It’s such a stunning place to go and spend time together; and the food and service was first-class.
Make it personal and create your own fragrance
Berkshire based perfume expert Janette Hammond, from Beenham, runs Uncommon Scents perfume workshops for people to create their own bespoke fragrances. This Mother’s Day, you and Mum can learn about the history of perfume, our sense of smell and how important it was to our survival, and how perfume became the massive business it is today. Hear the stories behind some of the current perfumes we know and love, and find out about the way smells are extracted from fruits, roots, petals, plants and bark, but also why synthetics have an important part to play. Explore fragrance families and sample a range of essential oils and fragrance oils, then try bringing them together to create your very own perfume.
• The best Berkshire restaurants - Whether you’re looking for fine dining, pub food, a romantic meal for 2 or a taste of something from further afield, eating out in Berkshire really has something for everyone. Here’s our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs