Celebrating The Very Seasonal Produce of Game

To celebrate the Glorious Twelfth and the start of the shooting season, one of our chefs Rocky has looked at the very seasonal produce of game.


Towards end of August beginning of September we start to see fresh, in-season game available. And two of my favourites have to be venison and pigeon.

Venison is a great substitute to beef, and can be used and cooked in many ways. Now that the deer have had most the year to graze and grow they are at the perfect size, with the perfect depth to their meat. The haunch is where you’re likely to find the best flavoured meat. And of course, the loin needs no describing.

Anyone for venison steaks? If you are cooking for yourself at home, always keep the meat pink, no more than medium as it will start to dry and lose its rich flavour. Also while cooking keep basting it, really helps to keep it succulent.

It is worth remembering that anything you can do with beef, venison can do, and sometimes better. Venison sausages for breakfast, venison burger on the barbecue the last of the sun goes…even warming cottage pie with venison mince on the colder nights. Combinations I’ve always found to work well together are dark chocolate, as it helps bring out the richness. Also berries are a good friend of venison meat and a venison steak with berry compote or slow-cooked venison with berries is divine.

Pigeon is another favourite of mine, but don’t think you can just swap it for chicken in all your dishes. Best at the start of September when they are at their plumpest, there is a high danger of overcooking pigeon and making it tough. It just needs to be lightly fried in a hot pan. Marinating in red wine (or any spirit) helps to maintain its tenderness and add a little more flavour to it.

For a little home comfort, pigeon pie is a good option and one I often make at home myself. The great thing is that all of the bird can be used, even its legs. Fruit again is a good companion for pigeon, but go for your less ‘fruity’ fruits. Apricots and apples work well as a marinade, sauce or even fried with the breast.

Alternatively, pop in to the hotel and there will be a good chance that you’ll see it on one of my menus in the WinePress restaurant: ready for you to experience something new.

Wedding Tips at Donnington Valley

In our final of our series of wedding planning blogs we finish with top tips on choosing the wedding entertainment. Our Special events co-ordinator Katie Foulds gives a few tips –to help you plan the perfect day.

Weddings at Donnington Valley Hotel and Spa tumblr_n1cddg2EnO1rb1u9do1_1280

Entertainment is a huge factor to consider in the wedding planning process, and it should be given due consideration sooner rather than later! Because admit it; more often than not, your guests will not be able to recall the theme of your wedding cake or your beautiful centrepieces, but they will remember gettin’ down without a care with all the new friends they’ve made. And you will never forget seeing all of the most important people in your world dancing together as if they’ve known each other for ever. Or… you’ll remember how the wedding ended at 10:30pm…

There is a lot to consider, starting with the big one: wedding band versus DJ? While there are certainly pros and cons to both wedding bands and DJs, it’s hard to bring a party to life the same way live music can. Still, even once you’ve decided this, there are so many more questions: a harp player or an acoustic guitarist? Should the ceremony music be the same as the reception? What style of band is best for all wedding guests? To avoid becoming overwhelmed, consider your vision for the wedding reception. You know you’ve always had at least a semblance of one. Close your eyes and imagine it. Different visions call for different music: a soothing acoustic set would be perfect for a casual daytime garden reception, while a rollicking variety band has something for everyone and can set the tone for an unforgettable dance party.

To bring a touch of class to your drinks reception or even your wedding breakfast a modern harpist will bring some sophistication to your wedding. I could not recommend anyone better than Angela Moore, who adds notes of sophistication and emotion to everything from the smallest wedding party to celebrity marriages.

After such a wonderful day, the best way for everyone to let their hair down and to finish with a bang is with a fabulous live band. It will help add the wow factor, of a band that will play everyone’s favourite party songs and ensure a jam packed dance floor with an absolute guarantee that if you book the right band, this is the part everyone will be talking about in the following weeks, months and even years to come!

The awesome five piece ‘got it covered’ band will ensure to get the party going for your evening reception. Professional line up for weddings, events and parties – You name it, they’ve “Got It Covered”

While these are heady questions, fear not: we have a fantastic residential DJ- Shake Discos who will make your evening reception a day to remember. They ask all the important questions such as what songs are a no go to be played and all your favourite tunes to keep the guests dancing the night away, and ensure your evening reception will be a night your guests will not forget!

Angela Moore: 01189810311/07850154867

Got it Covered: 07886361088 www.got-it-covered.co.uk

Shake Disco: 0163536258 www.shakedisco.co.uk

Donnington Valley Golf Club Championship Singles

With summer well underway we welcomed all our budding golfing enthusiasts to join us for our annual Donnington Valley Club Championship Singles.


Over Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th July, members from Donnington Valley Golf Club competed in the annual event. Where there are medal competitions each day plus overall 36-hole winners for the various categories, based on gross and nett scores, age and gender.

The overall Club Champion, for men aged 18 – 55 was won by Gareth Clarke who shot 2 over gross for the 36 holes, which is an amazing result. This is the fourth time Gareth has won this.

The other amazing winner was Zhana Powers winning the Ladies 36 hole nett competition, shooting an amazing nett 66 on day one followed by an even better nett 64 on day two.

Not without forgetting to say congratulations to our other winners which were:

Tess Chantrey
Michael Cowley
Clive Teixeira
John Sayers

Well done to all the winners, we look forward to seeing you all next year.

Golf Club’s Annual Charity Day.

At Donnington Valley Golf Club we pride ourselves on community and team spirit.


On Saturday 18th July 160 golfers took to the fairways to take part in the golf club’s annual charity day and raised an amazing £9,000 for West Berkshire Therapy Centre as we as Babies in Buscot Support.

We had 16 hole sponsors, ladies selling bacon butties on the course, beat the pro competition on the 9th, Tombola, Raffle and some of the male golf members made cakes which were judged by the ladies and then sold.

Auctions for 2 cars for the weekend kindly offered by Harwoods Basingstoke.

Thank you for all the support and money raised for these wonderful causes.



Upcoming Events this August

The kids have broken up for Summer and imagination take a front seat when planning things to do. Here is a host of our favourite days out and events that will guarantee to have a smile on everyone’s face. The sun doesn’t always need to shine to ensure you have a fabulous time.


Newbury Retro Festival
Friday 7th August – Sunday 9th August

A fabulous weekend for all the family. Get the sleeping bags together for the three day weekend at Newbury’s 9th Retro Festival. With a variety of activities to keep all the family occupied, including three amazing stages, dance floors, show arena and a vintage funfair, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been before!

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Open Air Cinema at Shaw House
Saturday 8th August – Monday 6th September

Four fabulous evenings of al fresco cinema in the beautiful grounds of historic Shaw House. With films starting after sunset what a perfect romantic evening to escape to or even get girls and guys out the house to enjoy. Bring the popcorn – as the venue provides the deckchairs and bean bags.

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Monday 17th August – Monday 31st August

Stockfest is a unique event that will be taking place in the picturesque West Berkshire village of Stockcross. Inspired by their vibrant village community, it is a celebration of local talent, arts, music, culture and sport. It celebrates the area’snumerous successful events  including Jazz on the Glebe, Street Fairs, an annual sell-out Pantomime and the very popular Open Gardens days. A few things to look forward to this year include a weekend of music, watercolour workshop, classic car rally and village show, mystery pop-up events and a children’s picnic. See you there!

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Live Music and Afternoon Tea
Wednesday 26th August 3pm – 5pm

Enjoy an elegant afternoon tea in the stunning setting of The Vineyard with music from Composer and Cabaret Pianist Fiona Bennett at The Vineyard. Hear Fiona sing, play the piano and tell a few stories about her life in television, radio and how she sang her way around the world.

£25 per person
Call 01635 897640 for more



Summer Holiday Essential Tips

Feeling your best before going on a Summer holiday is essential. Here are three major tips from our Spa Manager Hannah Henley-Thrift to ensure you are ready for anything!


With such busy lifestyles, getting body-ready for sunny climes before we go away often seems like a lot of effort. However, the results really are worth it! Envision yourself feeling great on holiday and follow these following tips for tanning, tinting and slimming.

Firstly, a healthy radiant glow will set the tone. A perfect tan comes with precision preparation. It might sound an effort but it will pay off! Exfoliating the body 24 hours before your tan is essential. For the best results apply your chosen body scrub to dry skin before showering, pay particular attention to dry areas, for example the elbows, knees, ankles and knuckles. Don’t forget any hair removal should also be done 24 hours before a tan but can be done after your exfoliation. Products containing oils should be avoided as the oil can remain on the skin resulting in a not so even tan.

If you are new to tanning, try a gradual tan which builds up as applied or get it applied professionally. For a long lasting tan, we treasure the Vita Liberata range – their pHenomenal (two to three week) tan is a tinted mousse making application very easy and giving you an instant glow.

For a flawless look throughout the summer tinting your eye lashes is a simple solution, rather than worrying about your mascara smudging. (IT is also great for swimmers and gym goers for the same reason! Eyelashes and eyebrows can be tinted and will last four to six weeks. A vegetable-based dye is used by your beauty therapist and applied to the desired area. A variety of colours is available and this will be discussed at the consultation stage. A patch test is required at least 24 hours prior to your appointment, so don’t forget to plan this into your pre-holiday calendar. (Another one for the list!)

We are a massive fan of Thalgo’s Ocea Draine detoxifying products. Recommended before starting an intensive slimming regime, it triggers the elimination and weight loss process. This ten day intensive course will help you reach your goal – or just feel less bloated and trim.

Happy holidays!

Wedding Tips at Donnington Valley

When planning for your wedding day, catering will be one of the biggest decisions you will make. The food is one of the main things your guests will remember from the day, what they had, was there enough, was there too little and how did the food reflect you as a couple? Here are our best tips.


When it comes to deciding on catering for your big day there are a number of choices: a traditional three course wedding breakfast; a relaxed summer barbecue or even a Champagne afternoon tea. Try and be different – and think about the best bits from previous weddings you would have attended. Make it more about you and your partner.

Upon arrival following your ceremony, guests might be a little peckish; the perfect little appetiser would be individually handmade canapés. Time of year is key as to what this might entail – hot, cold, heavy or fresh. You might want the freedom to choose, some venues are more flexible here than others.

Drinks are also a very important part of the day and not everyone wants to drink, though some do! A range of beverages for your reception depending on the time of year including a Summer Pimms or hot winter cider toddy will go down well and don’t have to break the bank.

The main meal, often called the wedding breakfast, can come in a variety of guises – and our Head Chef, Kelvin Johnson, is happy to design a menu for our guests’ wedding day. Kelvin’s menus are influenced by the seasons, using the freshest ingredients from our local suppliers. Importantly for many, wines to compliment your menu sounds like a minefield but needn’t – our award winning wine sommelier, Chris Neeves would assist on selecting exactly what went with your chosen dish. Whatever you choose though, again consider what you and your partner like.

It is also nice to cater for others for example the vegetarians and children who might need something different to the rest. At Donnington we create ‘Little Meals’ – mini fish & chip cones or mini burgers and chips . If you have a large number of evening guests attending or have a family with a large appetite, a finger buffet is perfect, and we are able to customise to suit any dietary requirements. If you fancy something simple; a bacon, egg or sausage roll will go down a treat too and once the party starts can often be the saving grace!

And throughout the evening, something fun will keep everyone entertained and energy levels high! How about going for your favourite retro sweets, a popcorn machine or even candy floss! A great Summer treat is a slush machine which you can make alcoholic, adults only or even an ice cream stand- everyone loves ice cream!

It can be overwhelming trying to accommodate all of your family and friends’ needs. But most importantly remember the day is your day, and if you choose to have it at Donnington, we are here to make your day as special and memorable for you as possible.

Wedding Tips at Donnington Valley

Choosing a wedding venue is a source of great enjoyment – but also can be one of the most stressful and difficult decisions of the occasion. Our Special events co-ordinator Katie Foulds gives a few tips – her first in a series of top wedding tips – to help you plan the perfect day.

 Weddings at Donnington Valley.

When it comes to choosing a wedding reception venue there are of course a lot of factors which need to be taken into consideration. This can be very overwhelming to a couple and I often speak to brides who simply don’t know where to start.

The best place to start is for you to sit down and work out what type of reception venue you are drawn to. Are you interested in historical properties such as a country manor, castle, period hotel, or stately home? Maybe you’d prefer a barn style venue or even a marquee. I advise writing a list between you and your partner of what you’re looking for from a venue, such as: high ceilings, natural light, outside space, traditional features etc. By starting at this point you can easily eliminate the types of venues which don’t appeal to you both. This will instantly make the venue finding process easier and a lot less time consuming.

The next thing to do (if you haven’t already) is to plan your guest list. Knowing how many guests are attending your wedding reception will help eliminate down the venues that are too small or even too large for your needs. Having a number in mind also helps the venue quote for your wedding.

If you plan to hold your wedding ceremony at a different location from your wedding reception try to look for venues within a radius of a thirty minute drive from your chosen location.

Once you’ve narrowed your search down to a list of approximately ten, get in touch with the venues and organise a show round with the wedding co-ordinator.

When making your first enquiry always give the venue the following details:

  •  You and your fiancé/e’s full name
  •  The number of guests you’re interested in having attend your ceremony and/ or reception
  •   A date if you have one (if you don’t have a date, a rough month and year will always help give you an accurate quote)

Giving these details will mean the wedding co-ordinator at your venue can give you a quote as accurately as possible to your requirements and budget.



Trim up for holiday, hit those target areas

The sunny weather and social season is upon us and in the back of your mind you will have that niggling wish you’d done those extra couple of minutes in the gym, attended that spin class or lifted a heavier weight. Phoebe McCully our Senior Fitness Instructor helps you make that change.

Trim up for holiday

If you always do the same routine in the gym, your body won’t make the changes you want to see. Yes you might have seen some positive developments in the beginning but as you go on, your body adapts to what you are doing and will plateau. So make a change and get the results you want.

Try a different cardio machine that will work you harder. For example if you always tend to use the treadmill switch to the Stair Climber, you’ll feel your heart rate pick up, helping to push those fitness levels higher. The Stair Climber will also help add some toning work to your legs.

Try a different exercise for the muscle you want to train. By changing your routine around, you will find that you will be bringing other muscles in to play that you wouldn’t have used before, helping you get that shape and toned look you have been fighting for. There are many different exercises you can use to tone and strengthen each body part. For example, if you always do squats to help train your lower body, why not try a walking lunge? It still trains your lower body as well as hitting different areas.

Try swimming; this is also a great form of all-round exercise. It’s ideal if you want to be more active and stay healthy, whatever your age or ability. Swimming can help tone muscles, correct posture and improve core stability. Try to vary your strokes to eliminate boredom and ensure every muscle group gets a workout.

Try a class

If the thought of pushing weights or different exercises bores you, then classes are surprisingly easy and addictive alternative – and prove results.

If your target area is to train and strengthen your core, then come along to one of our abs classes; you will come away with new ideas. Aimed at giving you an intense workout to strengthen the core abdominal and lower back muscles, it will help you get over that plateau. Or for better body tone and shape, Body Toning class will sculpt the entire body, helping you burn fat, gain strength and produce lean muscle.

This month why don’t you try and get yourself out of your comfort zone and make the changes, so you get to see the results you want?

Local Events this July

Summer is upon us and the British Social Season is here with plenty to do in West Berkshire: why not plan a couple of days out to enjoy the great British weather with the family.


Summer Street Party
Saturday 4th July
Kick start your Saturday shopping trip and join Parkway’s incredible summer street party. The Street Party will include a whole host of entertainment for all the family from Covent Garden performers, live music, and free face-painting. There are also some fantastic offers to be used in Parkway stores on the day.

Newbury Balloon Festival
Friday 17th July – Saturday 19th July
Although balloon weather is not always guaranteed, this event is a weekend packed with activities and entertainment for everyone. Enjoy live music every day from local bands and performers, a giant funfair and various ‘have-a-go’ activities. There is plenty to see and do for all ages.

Champagne Summer Jazz lunch
Sunday 19 July
Our sister hotel The Vineyard at Stockcross offers the perfect Summer Sunday; live jazz, great food and unlimited Champagne! Sit back, relax and listen to the soulful sounds of jazz whilst enjoying a three course lunch and unlimited Champagne with friends and family.

Donnington Valley Hotel Wedding Open Evening
Monday 20th July
Needing a bit of inspiration for the big day, come along and join Donnington Valley Hotel for our wedding open evening. Discuss your plans for your special day and book a guided tour with our dedicated wedding coordinator. We’d love to show you around and spend time with you to completely understand your wedding day wishes.
Whether you prefer a small and intimate gathering or a larger event, the flexible design of our elegant spaces offers you a wide choice of size, layout and entertainment. To make sure that everything goes exactly to plan.

West Berkshire Brewery Tours
Saturday 25th July
Why not support a local brewery come on a tour and gain first hand insight into all parts of the brewing process from the arrival of the raw ingredients to the finished article and, of course, there’s always plenty to sample. Get your friends together to join for a guided tour a few pints of beer and take a glass home for the goodies you can purchase in the shop open on the day.