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Nellie Knows : 1 February 2018

My weekly column which also appears in The Wokingham Paper, in the shops each Thursday!

A few weeks ago I nipped into town on a mission, well two missions actually. The first was to negotiate my way around the roadworks and the second was to buy a pair of black trousers that fitted in both length and width.

I negotiated my way around the roadworks successfully and got into M&Co where I grabbed 4 pairs of trousers, headed to the changing room and within minutes I returned triumphant as the first pair I tried on fitted. The very sweet lady at the till (let's call her Natalie) was so polite and charming with a ready smile and a genuinely helpful nature when I explained that I don't get excited about clothes shopping (for me or my children) so to search, locate, try on and purchase in minutes was a bonus! We had a chat about clothes shopping in general and I went on my merry way buoyed by good customer service with a smile.

Then I made my way back through the roadworks and my good mood diluted. I have been told I shouldn't be negative about the town but I do feel really despondent. But, hold on - if I feel despondent then I hate to think how the shops and businesses are feeling. Love them, use them, leave them, lose them. Imagine being a visitor driving through town or going from Rose Street to the bottom of Denmark Street, they'd think they were in a remake of The Prisoner (yes, let's make Wokingham's buildings jolly like Portmeirion). I digress. (For my non Wokingham related readers Wokingham is an historic market town in Berkshire, 39 miles from London with easy access to the M3/M4, close enough to LHR for friends to come and park at mine and then get dropped to the door, with good train links to London, Reading and Gatwick. The town has been changing over the years with the increase in property developments and more recently the town centre regeneration has begun, bringing with it roadworks, demolition and a loss of shops whilst the rebuild takes place, I can't wait to see what shops are coming to town!).

I think back to the days when I was NAG chair and it was all gung-ho and Peach Place was going to be redeveloped, that would have been disruption 10+ years ago but the roadworks today are a different story. The one gripe I do hear from people is what shops are going in? Yes, exactly what shops are going in? What have we got to look forward to? What would complement the town? What would pull shoppers into the town? No one can tell me I'm negative about the town, I'm saddened and frustrated, not negative. I've lived here a long time and seen some changes.

Now I'm desperate to see vibrant shops and no roadworks, in the meantime we can all do our bit in town. Take a look at Just a Card.

On Wednesday l headed off to Somerset and had a delicious breakfast in Lovingtons in Wincanton with James Law who has taken over Ella's Kitchen Company whose Nordic inspired cabinets are fabulous.

Then a quick chat with Julia Hartley-Brewer on TalkRadio about the headteacher who will expel pupils if they are in a relationship. Harsh. I said it's all part of growing up and as long as it doesn't affect their studies then I don't necessarily see a problem.

After putting the world to rights I headed to Common Farm Flowers which is run by author and

British flower grower Georgie Newbery (whose flowers are #grownnotflown, arrive in perfect condition the very next day and aren't sprayed in nasty chemicals) to attend a blogging workshop run by the very lovely Lucy who also has a great blog and photographic backdrop business. We see each other so infrequently that when we do there's lots of squeaking and laughter. I told her next time she visits her sister we really must catch up, she then told me her sister, Natalie, works in Wokingham. In M&Co. Then it clicked. They're so alike!

If you were at a girls' boarding school before 1980, or later as I was you will be crying with laughter at the book I mentioned last week Terms & Conditions : Life in Girls' Boarding Schools 1939-1979. I have had to stop reading it and share excerpts with friends on the phone whilst spluttering with laughter. It has really tickled me. I loved boarding school, it was all I knew, I didn't leave with masses of O levels I was too busy scraping ice off the windows and hiding posters of Shakin' Stevens in Dosser's bed!

Next week I'm talking about sleep, spring cleaning and who knows what else pops up.


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