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Nellie Knows : The Wokingham Paper : 22 January 2016

This was previously published in The Wokingham Paper on Friday 22 January 2016.

It’s been a while but I’m back with my column sharing news and recommendations for you lovely readers. Thank you to everyone who has told me that they have missed my column, it means such a lot to know that you have read it. If you are new to the paper and want to catch up on my past columns then take a look at my website In amongst the blog you can find book reviews, recipes, general ramblings and recommendations I’ve got a lot to say so why not grab a cup of coffee and settle down to read this!

A new year

Here we are in January, more than half way through and as I type it’s the coldest morning of the year so far, by crikey it was chilly this morning when I went to the car. You don’t see cars with newspaper or blankets on the windscreen so much these days though, oh no not with modern cars with their heated windscreens and a whole range of anti-freeze products. Oh those were the days! I don’t do New Year Resolutions but I do New Year Endeavours. This year my endeavour is to keep on top of the ironing. So far I am not doing too well but as it’s so cold and the garden is rock hard I will retreat into the warm cocoon of the house and start ironing.

The place to eat

Speaking of those good old days there’s a new Facebook group set up by local man Steve Armstrong called Memories of Wokingham which has been both hilarious and informative. I moved to Wokingham 25 years ago but growing up in Hurst we came to Wokingham to do our shopping so I class myself as a Wokingham person. I started my career at 80 Peach Street which back in the day was the Weir building. It’s now been knocked down and my poor children have switched off when I say “I used to work where that building was”. It’s called change! One question I posted was “The town is now full of places to eat but as children our "treat" was The Berni Inn, where was yours?”. Guess what it was? The Berni!! Yes the place to go in Wokingham way back when was The Berni with its glass of orange juice or prawn cocktail, steak and chips and ice cream in a metal bowl so cold that you jabbed at the ice cream! That was a real treat for us and countless other families! Where was your favourite place to eat? Do join the group, it’s been hilarious to look at old photos and catch up with people.

The end of an era

Towards the end of last year I made two unscheduled trips to Bordeaux to see my very best friend Clare Chauffepied. Some of you might remember her as a French or form teacher at Yateley and I am heartbroken to report that she sadly died in November following a long battle with cancer. She lived in Wokingham for a number of years before moving to Bordeaux and all through her cancer battle she was never negative or woe is me. We knew the end was near but hoped for some miracle. Sadly not. It’s hit me really hard as she was a piece of my life’s tapestry. When I saw her for the last time I told her to get a seat with a good view and a bottle of wine and I would find her. She’s certainly got a good view now and with the passing of so many characters she’s got front row seats. Which leads me onto grief.

How to grieve

I have never witnessed such a public outpouring of grief as I did last week when David Bowie died. It came as such a shock to everyone who didn’t know he was ill. In this day and age of social media and sharing it seemed impossible to comprehend that Bowie who had turned 69 on Friday had died on Sunday and had been fighting cancer. My all time favourite song is All The Young Dudes by Mott the Hoople which of course Bowie had a hand in. The news on Monday that Dale Griffin the drummer had died was another blow. Then as I set my alarm clock I saw that Glenn Frey had died. The death of someone makes me sad, even if I don’t know them. It’s the association of that person, their values and contributions to your life that leaves a gap. I don’t profess to be an expert and I won’t be told how to grieve, nor will I tell anyone. It’s a very personal thing and I have written about grief on my website.

Next week's column (printed and in shops from Friday 29 January to Thursday 4 February) is on page 17 of The Wokingham Paper and will be here on Friday 5 February, do pop back!


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