During lockdown when shop windows were empty, lights were off and people were few and far between the town felt like it was a filming location when everyone had nipped off to the food trucks, now it’s looking busy and vibrant, the lights are on and the window displays are bright, cheerful and welcoming. What a wonderful sight.
Of course Wokingham like many towns looks different with the bollards and when I’ve driven through it’s not been rush hour or school run so I’ve maybe had a distorted view but I’ve not been inconvenienced. Unlike going to or from town and Finchampstead with the Tesco bridge closure. Crikey it just goes to show how much one takes a familiar route for granted.
I often ask people why they moved to Wokingham and what they love about where they live. When I’m asked I say my I grew up in Hurst and moved to Wokingham when I was 21 and have been here ever since. What I do love is my house, garden, walking distance to town, great dog walks, close enough to M4, easy access to airports and of course my friends so I naively thought that people might say the same about where they have made their home.
However I often get told the negatives like it’s too built up, the traffic is dreadful, there’s nowhere to walk and then there’s the biggest bugbear there’s too many cafes and restaurants - back in the day Wokingham had many more pubs and I doubt anyone complained about that! During lockdown I have been walking 8-12 miles a day, believe you me there are plenty of places to walk.
Granted the town and infact the borough has changed and it might not suit everyone but the cafes and restaurants are popular (and busy) which encourages people to flock to them. Everyone has their favourite coffee spot, now I no longer drink caffeine my visits have been infrequent but I still meet up with friends (less so nowadays since COVID-19) and it’s great to support local businesses and watch the world go by.
One friend who I was pleased to catch up with recently was Nicky Allpress who has been busy in lockdown directing a play under strict COVID-19 guidelines. ‘Moment of Grace’ written by Bren Gosling and produced by Backstory Ensemble in association with The Actors Centre and The National HIV Story Trust, the online debut was at The Actors Centre on Friday 31 July and it will stream until 9 August.
Created as a three-character play, Moment of Grace looks at the famous visit of Diana, Princess of Wales to London’s first AIDS Unit in 1987, where she shook a patient’s hand without wearing gloves and in doing so triggered a momentous shift in public and media perceptions of people living with HIV and AIDS. For more information and tickets see www.actorscentre.co.uk/theatre/moment-of-grace/booking-infomation