Reading Festival 2013

Reading Festival was INSANE this year. One of the perks of being a reporter based opposite the entrance to the festival site is covering the festival, which this year was immense.

Friday included a quick hop, skip and jump from the office to the field after work just in time to interview RX Bandits ahead of their set. This is the first year I have done interviews at the festival and the reserved pair certainly didn’t make my first interview easy. Check out the awkwardness here.

After a quick fan snap with Frank Turner…….Image…..I caught a bit of his set on the main stage.

Then it was back to the press tent to interview the lovely Nick Douwma aka Sub Focus, ahead of his headline set on the Radio 1 dance tent. Much less awkward and a bit easier (view here.)

Highlights of Friday included Sub Focus and Bastille but the real highlight was Skrillex who ripped a new ******* in the Radio 1/NME stage.

I caught the end of Green Day but wasn’t that bothered.

Saturday began with an impromptu interview with Charles from White Lies – here followed by an interview with Chase & Status who looked particularly bored by the stream of interviews!Image

Celeb photo opportunities on the Saturday included the sexy Matt from The 1975 Image


ImageAnd both guys from New Found Glory:

ImageImageHighlights included White Lies and Foals but it was Chase and Status and Eminem who made the night the best show. Read what Reading Post features editor Caroline Cook thought about their performances here and here.

Eminem did an amazing mash-up classics towards the end and it was great to see Dido performing the vocals for Thank You live at the festival.

On Sunday Haim were the band I was looking forward to but their performance was disappointing. Although I can listen to their recorded tracks on repeat, the live performance was strained and out of tune.

Highlights included holding the camera for colleagues who interviewed Dog is Dead, Fall Out Boy and Phoenix.

I can’t wait until next year!








Lollipop man ordered to stop ‘high-fiving’ children on primary school crossing
July 11, 2013, 8:14 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This is my story on the Metro website. Here’s the original! http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/local-news/parents-shock-lollipop-mans-high-five-5065781

The world’s weirdest museums
July 9, 2013, 8:39 pm
Filed under: Random | Tags: ,
Spam Museum

Spam Museum

From poo and pinball to parasites and pork, every day tourists around the world are mindboggled by the weird and wacky museums on offer around the world.

So I thought today would be a good day to explore some of the most zany and bizarre…

-Spam may be more e-mail killer than sandwich filler these days but visit the US state Minnesota and you can feast your eyes on a plethora of pork at the SPAMŸ Museum.

Home to the world’s “most comprehensive collection of spiced pork artefacts”, the attraction offers a meat-packed day of fun for all the family.



-From pork to porn, Sexmuseum, is the world’s “first and oldest” museum of sex taking visitors on a journey of the history of bonking through 4,000 years of civilisation.

Situated on the edge of Amsterdam’s red light district, expect provocative porno and plenty of sex toys. (WARNING: Don’t buy souvenirs if you’ve got hand luggage only mind, as airport security might not take too kindly to handcuffs even if they are JUST a toy.)

– Translating literally as house of the nuts, (not THOSE type of nuts), Maison de la Noix in Dordogne, France, can tell you everything there is to know about….walnuts.

This small nutty vault displays “EVERYTHING” connected to walnuts, as well as an exhibition of um.. crafts.

Cockroach Hall of Fame

Cockroach Hall of Fame

-Moving from Omega 3 to…pee, a doctor has set up a museum of toilets in New Delhi, India.
The Sulabh International Museum of Toilets shows various bog standards was inaugurated by Maneka Gandhi in 1994 – let’s hope she wasn’t a mystery plopper….

– A bug exterminator has set up the Cockroach Hall of Fame and Museum in Texas where the rank roaches are ranked and even dressed up in fancy dress – crazy.

Owner Michael Bohdan says he has a love/hate relationship with the pests – he loves them in his museum but hates them in homes.

– Even smaller and perhaps more grim, Japan dedicates a whole centre to the “world’s only parasite museum”.

The Meguro Parasitological Museum in Tokyo even sells cased bacteria on a keyring to take home to your nearest and dearest.

– Some might call her loony, but Leila Cohoon built a collection of hair after picking up a small wreath made of human hair.

Leila Cohoon

Leila Cohoon

Leila’s Hair Museum in Missouri, US, is inundated with daily calls with people wanting to part with their locks but its website does not make clear whether the retired teacher has an heir to her collection.

– Skeletons come out of the closet at the Museum of Osteology in Oklahoma, which has more than 300 on display.

Billed as “America’s ONLY Skeleton Museum’ it is hoped punters will be impressed with dem bones, dem bones dem dry…etc.

-From bones to boners (cheeky, sorry!) a penis museum in Iceland has more than 80 “parts” on display.

The Icelandic Phallological Museum claims its displays are arranged in an “organised and scientific” fashion.

Icelandic Phallological Museum

Icelandic Phallological Museum

-Crazy cat ladies will feel at home in San Francisco where a Cat Museum celebrates “5,000 years of the relationship between cats and people”.

– A museum devoted to pets is probably acceptable but dog collars maybe don’t have as widespread appeal.

However, anyone who fancies wagging down to Leeds Castle in Kent can look at five centuries of canine couture.

-Pinball is the name of the game at the National Pinball Museum in Baltimore where visitors can play the retro game as well as learn.

“It’s a scrapbook of American tradition and folklore and a looking glass of culture,” according to its bosses.

-If the thought of the dentist makes you squirm or false teeth are a sight for sore eyes then perhaps the National Museum of Dentistry isn’t for you.

What George Washington's teeth may have looked like

What George Washington’s teeth may have looked like

But if you can brave it in order to see former president George Washington’s gnashers then open wide and take a trip to Maryland, US.

-More body parts, from breast implants to stretched skin, can be seen at the Wellcome (corr) Collection in London, which displays all manner of medical wonders.

Better still it’s free so if it weirds anyone out, they can leave without being out of pocket.

-My mum hates the stuff but Colman’s Mustard has its own museum in Norwich, Norfolk.

Maybe the display of the yellow stuff should be sandwiched next to the SPAM place.

– Less likely to make some people’s mouth water, a different waterworks display is on offer at the Paris Sewer Museum.

Colman's Mustard Shop and Museum

Colman’s Mustard Shop and Museum

Yes, that’s right Le MusĂ©e des Égouts de Paris is dedicated to sharing knowledge on the history of where the other yellow and brown stuff travels to in the French capital.

– Where better than to delve into oodles of noodles than Japan?

The Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka offers a history of the slurpy snack and a full range of shapes and sizes.

– ‘Sausages, schnitzel and weiners’ is the tagline for the German Butcher’s Museum in Boblingen, Germany.

Offering a bit of competition to the Spam collection in America, the attraction offers the “curious visitor” everything they might need to know about meats.

Meat you by the hog roast!

Some meat

Some meat

-Last but not least if you’re taking a trip to Liverpool and don’t fancy The Beatles, the British Lawnmower Museum offers punters a unique experience.

Set up, surprisingly by an ex-racing champion, the museum will tell visitors everything they want to mow about grass cutters from Blighty.

Review: Quite Nice Theatre Fundraising Gala
July 9, 2013, 8:28 pm
Filed under: Theatre reviews

An evening in the company of Quite Nice Theatre will leave you with an aching jaw from spending the whole time smiling from ear to ear.

A fundraising gala at the Shehnai Olympia Ballroom last week, to mark the start of the theatre company’s journey to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, showcased award-winning This Was Your Life and previewed new show Snakes! The Musical.

It isn’t hard to see why snappy and devilishly witty This Was Your Life has won three prestigious awards – the writing is genius, the acting is sharp and the comic timing is meticulous.

The inventive and quirky black comedy production sees the audience cast as a studio audience in a mock version of an iconic biographical TV show, who get to vote on the fate of a recently deceased contestants – should he go to heaven or hell?

Three actors take on 25 roles to show the contestant recalling moments from his life through key family members, friends and enemies coming on as guests.

Writer and director Thom Sellwood has been cultivating the show for six years and the latest version, which has been developed while it is has toured during the last two years, is a laugh-a-second.

The trio of actors manage to deliver every word with vigour and provoke uncontainable laughter from the audience while still transforming themselves within a split second to varied and well-crafted characters.

Will Guppy delights with his characterisation of bewildered contestant Will transforming to a number of characters including smarmy yet hilarious show producer Alec.

Sam Harding dazzles with his sparkling performance as German temptress Mimi, whizzing from fishnets and a wig back to suited and booted presenter Dann Starshine.

Marina Waters plays the most versatile range of characters – from dreaded ex Fiona to cantankerous grandad – and her singing and harmonies hold the show together.

Fresh, funny and FUNtastic, this show sets the bar high for Thom Sellwood’s next creation.

And Snakes does not disappoint.

A seen-for-the-first-time sneak preview opts for a similar format – a show within a show where the winning combination of intelligent songs and ironic poking fun works.

This time the audience are Broadway producers with actors demonstrating a potential musical based on a film and asking for millions of pounds worth of funding.

Think Book of Mormon and Jerry Springer the Musical – this production once again flips the traditional idea of a musical on its head and produces something far more dangerous and sexy.

Both productions will be part of Edinburgh Fringe from August 1 to 25.

You can catch Snakes! The Musical at the Reading Fringe Festival at Watlington House on July 19 and 20.

Read the original article here.

Food review: Bina Tandoori Caversham
July 9, 2013, 8:26 pm
Filed under: Food reviews

After a long day at the office, sometimes the best remedy is to ‘Keep Calm and Curry On’. At least that’s my new mantra after sampling the onion bhajis, fresh pickles and tasty curries at Bina Tandoori in Prospect Street.

The Caversham restaurant has launched a Wednesday Gourmet Night, offering a mixed starter, main dish, vegetables, rice or naan, and tea or coffee for £13.95, and it’s an ideal way to perk up midweek.

After baptising our on-arrival papadoms by dunking them into the generous dips (a sharp pickle, fiery chutney and cool cucumber raita), our hospitable waiters presented us with a plate of mixed starters.

A zesty fish pakora and a crispy onion bhajee sat next to an aromatic piece of chicken tikka, and a piece of equally tasty lamb tikka.

The starters might have looked bite-sized to a hungry diner, but when hot plates filled to the brim with curry arrived, we were glad to have not over-indulged at the first hurdle.

Gorging on the saucy Murgh Razala, chicken cooked with fresh herbs and spicy sauce, (ÂŁ9.95 outside the offer), I could understand why director Mohammed Siraj had told me it was a bestseller as he took my order.

Creamy and full of flavour, it went well with pilau rice and a glorious bowl of Aloo Palak (potatoes cooked with potatoes and spinach).

My companion’s Chicken Passanda, diced and tender chicken cooked in a mild sauce with cream and cashew nuts, (£9.50 without offer) was too rich for her, but that meant all the more for me to munch on while she raved about her vegetable Mushroom Bhajee.

After the initial disappoint that this was not a mushroom equivalent of the onion bhajee but instead Asia’s answer to Provençal’s ratatouille, she left very little of the dish for the kind staff to pack up for me to take home (thankfully Bina is also a takeaway).

By the end of our meal we had no room for dessert, or even the tea or coffee included in the offer but, if you plan to bring kids, then Shrek (ÂŁ4.25) and Kuaky (ÂŁ3.75) ice creams, are on offer.

Nestled in central Caversham’s bustling shopping street, which lights up at night with takeaways, restaurants and pubs, the Bangladeshi and Indian restaurant was relatively busy for a Wednesday evening when we visited.

Indulging in the moments of eavesdropping and people-watching that the relaxed and slow-paced atmosphere of the place allowed, I gathered many diners were regulars, proving what I had heard about the restaurant having a sterling reputation.

“People come back because we have built our reputation in the last 22 years,” said Mohammed.

“Local people tend to come back because the food and service provided is really consistent and makes people come again and again.”

Furthermore, Bina’s website promotes its British Curry Award and its award from the AAA Guide of Excellence.

At ÂŁ13.95 for an Indian feast, Bina would be an excellent choice for a midweek office party, or just a little treat to keep you going until the weekend.

Read the original article here.

Food review: BHOJ Reading
July 9, 2013, 8:23 pm
Filed under: Food reviews

Belt-loosening, rich, stodgy food is usually what I expect when eating at an Indian restaurant.

It’s usually straight to bed for me afterwards because I’m barely able to move after eating so much curry. But when I dined at Bhoj it was a different story.

Having secured a five star chef who worked for the Taj Group before moving to the UK, the Singh family who run the restaurant are proud to serve up subtle and thoughtfully presented food.

“The menu is inspired by our home cooking, not specifically for a Western market,” explained head of the family Updesh Singh, who hails from Punjab in Northern India.

We started with papadums and dips (50p to ÂŁ1) before tucking into a pre-starter of potatoes dipped in honey, sesame and chilli.

It was clear, even at this early point, the food was better than your average Indian restaurant. This family of self-proclaimed foodies proved in one dish that their menu has a real emphasis on layering and balancing spice and flavours.

Another special and my favourite starter was ‘star’ fried chicken with a twist. The chicken was so tender it fell apart on my tongue and the twist – it was cooked with curry leaves, tomatoes and tumeric on a crispy naan. The dish had a slight kick but was cooled off with Paneer Tikka Hariyali (£4.95) – home made cottage cheese marinated with yogurt and spinach.

The Boti Kebab (ÂŁ6.95) again showcased the intense layering of flavours with cubes of lamb marinated with yogurt and fruity spices. As you would expect the usual Korma, Jalfrezi, Madras and Vindaloo options are available, (all ÂŁ6.95), but the Chicken Korma was not rich or sickly like some I have tried before. It was sweet, fragrant and creamy and much more subtle than Kormas I have had in the past.

The chef recommended lemon rice mixed with cashew nuts to go with the mild curry and he knew what he was talking about as the flavours really worked.

Updesh also recommended Matar Methi Malai Chaman (£6.25) – fenugreek leaves mixed with green peas, cubes of cottage cheese and cooked in an onion gravy with a dash of cream.

I wouldn’t usually pick a veggie option when there is meat on offer but I will in future as this dish could easily rival its meaty competitors.

The Rara Lamb (£7.85) was something I haven’t tried before, but it was good to delve further into the more adventurous side of the menu. Lamb cubes were mixed with minced lamb and cooked with chopped onion tumeric and fresh spices. Like the other sauces I tried there was no oily residue, just lots of different flavours.

A basket of tasty homemade bread and naan, soon to be on the menu, was ideal for dunking and scooping up the tasty sauces and just thinking about the garlic naan and buttery aloo paratha makes my mouth water now.

Water, as it happens, is something I should address, because Bhoj doesn’t have an alcohol licence so it serves soft drinks, lassis or masala tea.

If you want alcohol you will have to take your own, which is a point to remember.

Another thing to mention, is my visit to the restaurant reminded me to never judge a book by its cover.

Bhoj is right on the Oxford Road and is also a takeaway, and right now the front looks like it is just that.

But the Singh family said a makeover will be completed soon, which should see the exterior and interior match up to the quality of the food. It was lucky that they do offer takeaway as it meant I could take my leftovers home, along with some pudding. A tub of sweet Kheer (ÂŁ2) was a nice milky finish to the meal at home and curry warmed up nicely for a tasty work lunch the next day.

Food can be ordered via JustEat.co.uk.

See the original review here.

My favourite stories: May to July
July 8, 2013, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Journalism

Here are my favourite stories I have covered from May until now:

1) I had the privilege of going to visit this couple on their special day. Probably one of the oldest bride and groom ever to get married!

“Special day of memories” as 92-year-old weds his terminally ill 83-year-old sweetheart

2) This story affects everyone in Bracknell – make sure you check the public notices trainee reporters!

Drivers may face 12 weeks of roadwork misery as 25 roads close for repairs

3) The Bandstand being bulldozed has provoked lots of reaction from our readers and is a big one in terms of the ongoing regeneration stories.

Iconic’ bandstand will be bulldozed for regeneration

4) Debbie is a really brave lady and after this story, Boy George has tweeted me and will be meeting Debbie.

Terminally ill mum desperate to fulfil dying wish to meet Boy George

5) One of our most popular stories which became a bit of a worldwide sensation and was copied on news sites all over the world!!

Bracknell UFO photo “one of the best”, says expert

Did you spot Bracknell UFO? Lights in the sky over Harmans Water

6) A nice feelgood story where a man who performed in the Olympic opening ceremony proposed to his Gamesmaker girlfriend.

Olympic proposal at Buckingham Palace garden party

6) Had to be quick to get a photo of the graffiti and then try and find Muslims to speak to.

Muslim man “proud” to live in Bracknell despite anti-Islam graffiti appearing in underpass

7) An important story for my Crowthorne patch.

End of the line for Crowthorne’s only toy shop

8) A successful FOI request.

Posties attacked by dogs 48 times in the last year


A year in as a trainee reporter
April 24, 2013, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Well it was a year three weeks ago…

This year has been a whirlwind and I have learnt so much. I still love being a reporter and how every day is different. At the moment I feel like I am stalking the Mayor of Bracknell Forest as I have seen her about five times in six days.

Yesterday was a Royal visit with Prince Philip and tomorrow I will be reviewing up and coming band Peace at Sub 89.

Here are some features I have written lately:

Review: Blackeyed Theatre’s Teechers at South Hill Park

The Reduced Shakespeare Company bring shortened classics to South Hill Park

Amelia Lily gets ready to rock Reading

Restaurant review: Bhoj

And a selection of news stories

Smoke alarm saves family from dishwasher blaze

Raven Haven’s plea for funds to deal with influx of injured birds

In other news I am thinking of writing blog posts about my reduced section bargains and thinking about learning how to sew as a result of the Great British Sewing Bee. I also left an art exhibition last week armed with art materials – I can’t resist a bargain.

Interviews with Paloma Faith and Zoe Lyons and today’s paper

Most journalists love the variety of the job and I’m no exception. As I have mentioned before, working in the offices of the Reading Post means there’s loads of opportunities to write features.

Here’s my recent interview with Paloma Faith (felt quite star struck when I saw her on the Brits last night, just days after I spoke to her).

And then here’s a chat with the lovely Zoe Lyons, who brings her show to South Street Arts Centre in Reading tomorrow.

The 46th Bracknell Forest Standard I have worked on came out today. It was an issue fellow reporter Jennie and I were really proud of. We work well as a team, if I may say so myself!

We splashed on this fireworks story. A ridiculous tweak in the law means Bracknell fireworks firm Star Fireworks – who do displays for all the big names and celebs – could go bust.

We also did an online story after we noticed tweets about a certain celebrity spotted in Bracknell today. It resulted in me getting a tweet from MasterChef’s John Torode which I was pleased with. But I would have preferred it if Jon Snow had replied to my tweet I sent to him last night. (No offence John!)

We also got some saucy pics of some brave beauties who bared all in a naked calendar for charity – that should get people picking up a copy of the paper.

Today, I also went out on a police patrol and it was so cold my knuckles bled. But it was worth it to get some good video and coverage for next week’s paper.

Oh and finally our Reading web editor James stumbled across a video of pupils from Wellington College in Crowthorne doing the Harlem Shake here. Now Jennie is trying to persuade Bracknell Forest councillors to make a similar vid…or just me and her!

Night all.


Rave patrol news feature sparks fashion advice
February 4, 2013, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Journalism

Police hunt for illegal raves

Here is a video and report I did when I shadowed police on a rave patrol. Thankfully Hugh, our web editor, edited out my Blair Witch-esque close-up filming.

This report has triggered some fashion advice from one of our kindly commenters (they also love to slam food reviews which mention burgers).

Thankfully I am far more concerned about keeping warm and alive when it is snowing than worry about whether my high-vis jacket goes with my ‘lavender hat’ and ‘eau-de-nil scarf. Thanks though :).