Tag Archives: Donnington Valley

Christmas Cocktail Recipe: Chrimbo Cosmo

The Christmas season is here and this calls from some relaxation and perhaps a tipple or two. Lovingly crafted, you can either try these at home or pop in to Donnington Valley Hotel and our bar team would be delighted to make these for you.

tumblr_mj6oxiqXuW1rb1u9do1_r1_1280Here is the first in three of our Seasonal cocktails from Iain our Bar Manager. Called the Chrimbo Cosmo, it is fresh, warm and fruity with flavours of citrus, cranberry and ginger in there, adding a little winter spice. Go on, try it!

Chrimbo Cosmo

Ingredients:

  • 25ml Citrus Vodka
    25ml Cointreau
    25ml Ginger Wine
    25ml Cranberry Juice
    Lime Rind to garnish
    half of a Lime

Method of making

  1. Fill a shaker with ice and add all the ingredients.
  2. Shake well and strain into a chilled Martini Glass.
  3. Garnish with lime zest and serve.

Delicious!

Local Events this December

This month there’s a plethora of festive local events and activities happening in the  area. We’ve picked our six of the best:

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Bucklebury Christmas on the Farm
1st December to 23rd December
Opening times: 09:30 – 17:00
Call: 0118 971 4002
Ticket prices apply
A magical place at Christmas, Bucklebury Farm is stunning: the holly is chock-full with berries, the tree is up in the barn and the fairy lights are shining bright. All this and Santa is here! He is dropping in every day to meet the children and check up on his reindeer who are right next door to his grotto and busy getting fed ready for the busy time ahead. With home-cooked Christmas lunches up to 23rd December booking is essential and as we are now licensed you can enjoy a small alcoholic beverage with your food.
With a deer park, farm animals, indoor play, pedal go-cart track, tractor rides refreshments, adventure playground, a wild walk, Be a Farmer Club and den building, this is a fantastic day out for everyone, whatever the weather.


Watermill Book Club – The Story of Alice
Tuesday 1st December
Opening time: 7pm
Call: 01635 46044
Ticket prices apply

A good part of our cultural heritage is based on wonderland, and artists, poets, writers and many others have used this theme for over a century. Among this heritage sits the complex history of the author Charles Dodgson, the quiet academic, and his better-known counterpart, Lewis Carroll – storyteller and innovator. This author dreamed up Alice Liddell’s fictional alter ego in the seminal storybook that has spanned generations.
In this evening, Professor Robert Douglas-Fairhurst uses previously unpublished material to bring the timeless legend of ‘Alice’ to light.


Wine School at The Vineyard – Christmas Wines
Wednesday 2nd December
Opening time: 630pm to 8pm
£30 per person

This evening is quite simple. A collection of bottles suitable for the festive lunch and some tips on what to match with, serving ideas, plus a host of tips on making the most important lunch of the year stress-free!


Champagne Jazz Lunch at The Vineyard
Sunday 13th December
Opening time: 12pm to 4pm
£55 per person

The perfect way to begin the festive celebrations;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.
**Unlimited Champagne will only be served during lunch from starter to dessert.


Dick Whittington At The Corn Exchange
27th November 2015 to 3rd January 2016
Call: 0845 5218 218
Ticket prices apply

The 2015 Corn Exchange Christmas Pantomime is full of adventure, danger and magic. Joined by his cat and Sarah the Cook, Dick Whittington is trying to seek his fortune. Will he defeat the devilish King Rat, or save his love, Alice? Sure to be lots of fun and laughter, some performances are sold out already so book your tickets quickly!


A Merry Christmas At Basildon Park
28th November 2015 to 5th January 2016
Opening Times: 10:00 – 15:00
Call: 01491 672382
Ticket prices apply

This Georgian Mansion, surrounded by parkland, will be beautifully decorated for Christmas. Explore the wintery gardens with their trail and see the lovingly restored mansion with fine paintings, fabrics and furniture which you can still see today. Make the most of your visit by treating yourself to cream tea, explore the refined house, or breathe in the fresh air by taking one of their marked trails through the 400 acres of historic parkland.


How To Make The Perfect Roast Potatoes

Much taken-for-granted, the potato is often overlooked or rushed when creating the Sunday Roast. Here, our kitchen provide a quick yet foolproof recipe to ensure you get them just right. Plenty of time to perfect them for Christmas!

PotatoesGather a selection of large potatoes, peal and place in pot of cold water.

Prepare a roasting tray by spreading goose fat around the edges and placing in the oven on a medium high heat.

Cut potatoes up in to around the size of 2 to 3 inches in circumference, place back into the pot and bring up to the boil, in till slightly soft.

Once ready, drain into colander and rumble the potatoes around in the colander until fluffy.

Carefully removing the roasting tray from the oven, evenly place the fluffy roast potatoes in the hot goose fat and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Using a spatula toss the potatoes to ensure they are evenly covered with oil.

Place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, keeping a regular eye on them and regularly turning the potatoes over with a spatula. Voila!

All Hallow’s Eve

The origins of the Hallowe’en are well established, but not always well known. Our Bar Manager Iain Hewitt sheds some light on this ever popular occasion, and offers some tasty beverages to go!

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Based on a Pict/Scots Celtic tradition and adopted by the Catholic Church and renamed All Hallow’s Eve in an attempt to ease the transition of the barbarian hordes to the new Christian sect; it has become one of the most popular holidays, especially in America, where the adopted tradition of trick and treating has become one of the most popular excitements for children and adults alike. This is slowly making its way over here, as kids look to supplement their sweet intake without having to wait the extra few days to go door to door with a stuffed Guido Fawkes.
Of course, more interesting to people of my mind-set are the parties that go on into the early hours, where the drink flows steady and the guests slowly slip into gentle inebriation. In that vein, of course there are a few interesting things you can do with the drinks to help the atmosphere of the party. Simple things like the addition of Blue Curaçao (a slightly tart orange liqueur) to orange or pineapple juice will turn things a nice sickly green; drop in some grenadine or a red liqueur such as Cherry Brandy or Campari and suddenly things start to look rather ghoulish (much like our special Hallowe’en Cocktail this year – the delightfully named Ectoplasm!). Of course you can mix those flavours up with the addition of whatever takes your fancy – a whisky adds a great smoky finish, while Fruity liqueurs can subtly amend the flavour in other ways – experimentation is the key. In the same way, you can mix things up long or short; in a classic martini glass, dropping things through can look particularly effective.
For alternatives, thick red liqueurs mixed with apple juice or even lemonade can look fantastic. Mixing Campari into a classic Collins is easy and interesting, but do look out for that sharp edge!
As I always say – experiment, find your own mixes, and what works for you works for you, but be wary of drinking too many before the kids have gone to bed!

A Professional’s Top Tips For Winter Golf

Golf Director Peter Smith has a wealth of experience playing in all weathers and seasons. Here are a few of his top tips to help you continue practice and improvement over the fothcoming months.
Winter Golf

Playing golf over the winter months has its challenges, therefore ‘Winter Rules’ are introduced at golf clubs. Below are the main details of how they affect the game and what you are allowed to do.

Winter Rules

During the winter months most golf clubs bring in ‘Winter Rules’ for golf for two main reasons:
1. The ground conditions are much wetter either through rain or by dew.
2. The ground due to its softness, make the ball collect mud and dirt. Therefore the ‘winter rules’ help a golfer rather than penalize a golfer, so that they can play their best golf when playing on a much wetter playing surface.

The two main benefits to these rules are as follows:

A Ball lying on a closely-mown area through the green (fairway, approach or collar to the green) may, without penalty, be marked, moved or lifted, cleaned and placed within six inches of where it originally lay, but not nearer to the hole and not in a hazard or on a putting green.

A player may move or place his ball once and after the ball has been moved or placed, it is in play. Relief from embedded ball (Appendix 1, Part 2, Point 3) ‘Through the green’, (not just closely-mown areas) a ball that is embedded in its own pitch-mark in the ground, other than sand, may be marked, lifted without penalty, cleaned and dropped as near as possible to where it lay but not nearer the hole. The ball when dropped must strike a part of the course through the green.

Other considerations for golf in the winter months

In the autumn period, many leaves fall on the golf course, which makes finding a golf ball quite difficult at times, therefore if you hit your golf ball to an area where it may not be found, play a ‘provisional’ ball.

If you do not find your first ball but you find the second ball ‘the provisional ball’ you can then play that ball, but you must add on an extra two shot for that hole. I.e. tee off (1 shot), play a provisional ball (1 shot) and the next time you hot the provisional ball that is then your third shot. Make sure you ‘mark’ your golf ball, to make it easier to identify and prevents hitting somebody else’s golf ball my mistake. You can mark your ball in many ways, put coloured spots in a few dimples, add your initials etc. If you are playing when the course is frosty or frozen and everything appears white, then it is often a good idea to play a ball with a different colour than white, to make it easier to find. Many people play with yellow or orange golf balls in these conditions.

Change Your Routine to Keep Seeing Results

You’ve set yourself a hard gym routine to help get you through the summer season, now it’s time to make a change to keep on seeing those results. Phoebe McCully, a Senior Fitness Instructor at our Health Club, gives us some top tips.

 Matrix gym cardio suite at Donnington Valley

Sticking to the same routine can be very easy and comfortable, but at some point, your routine may not give you the results you want, so you need to shake things up. Changing your workout routine can be a motivator and may make things more interesting for you.

You work hard in the gym trying to find the routine that suits you. You start the routine and you notice that it is helping you make the changes that you want, so you stick with it. However, after a few months you may notice that the changes you liked to see have stopped appearing. The reason this happens is because repetition means the body can adapt. It will know what to expect and will then use less energy.

So here aresome signs that you can look for when deciding if you should change up your routine.

Do you get bored in the gym? Are you noticing fewer results? You find the workout less challenging? If you have answered yes to any of these questions then you need to mix things up!

Instead of just spending your amount of time on the treadmill, or cross trainer at a constant speed, I recommend our clients try our new ‘Sprint 8’ software. It is designed to help improve fitness levels, and burn away fat. It will be hard and will kick-start your body into making those changes again.

Mix up your strength routine by adding in a super set, to challenge your muscles even more. Finish the reps on the exercise that you are doing and then go straight into another one for the same muscle group. Super sets will help improve your endurance and build muscle.

If you make changes you will keep seeing results, and you will stay motivated. Try to make a change every four to six weeks. To help you make the right changes, why not book in for a review with the Fitness team? We would be only too happy to help and you never know how it will change the way you feel about your routine fore the better.

Upcoming Events this September

With summer drawing to a close and early signs of the Autumn onset starting to show, Newbury continues to maintain its calendar of ever- buzzing activity to get us out in the Autumn sunshine!

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Royal Country of Berkshire Show

19th September – 20th September   

This annual family event is a highlight in Newbury’s social calendar. It’s a fun filled weekend for all the family to enjoy. Don the wellies and wrap up warm – it is sure to be a wonderful weekend with something to keep everyone happy. From furry farm animals to a selection of Britain’s finest foods, this is one for all the family.

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Newbury Real Ale Festival

12th September 

Live bands and beer… just what Saturday dreams are made of. With over 150 real ales, ciders and perrys for everyone to try and also a range of food options, including multiple hog roasts. Newbury’s annual Real Ale Festival is back and with a growing cult following, this year is bound to be better than before. Join and support local bands and breweries – and enjoy yourself very much! Opening Hours from 12 noon.

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Music in Victoria Park Bandstand

6th September      City of Oxford Silver Band

13th September    Hannington Silver Band

20th September    Cholsey Silver Band

27th September    Reading Spring Gardens Band

This September, take time for yourself and get lost in our local talent playing at the bandstand at Victoria Park in Newbury. Wrap up warm and join for a couple of hours of relaxation alongside the Kennet & Avon canal. Pack the picnic rugs and refreshments and pick from a selection of dates to suit you.

Playing between 15:00 – 17:00

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Burgundy Grand Cru Dinner

Wednesday 9th September

7pm arrival for 7.30pm

Grand Cru – The best of the best. There are 32 Grand Cru vineyards in Burgundy, accounting for less than 2 percent of all Burgundy wine production.  Esteemed by wine experts and cellar aficionados alike, this region also makes wines that match superbly with foods. Join our hosts for the night, including our wine expert James Hocking to learn more – and to enjoy imbibing! This is a unique event at The Vineyard; the first time that we have raided our cellar to show off some of our very best wines. Often referred to as “the holy grail” of wine producing regions, this is a dinner not to be missed!

Five course dinner with matching wines £150 per person

Stay the night with breakfast from £173.50 per person*

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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.

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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.

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?

Great British Summer Cocktails

The British Social Calendar is upon us – something that drink and food go hand in hand with. Whether making them at home or choosing from the bar menu, fresh, fruity cocktails needn’t be tricky yet will enhance the fun, attests Iain Hewitt, our Bar Manager.

Festive cocktails

 

Our Great British Summer is the season for cocktails. Whether you’re entertaining friends at home or out on the social scene (Wimbledon, Ascot, Henley to name a few) the fresh and varied flavours lend themselves to balmy summer evenings and picnics out on the lawn.

A personal favourite is the classic Tom Collins: homemade lemonade with a good shot of old fashioned Old Tom style gin. You can mix the same recipe up with a range of different bases, but somehow I always come back to Christian Jensen’s self-named 1830’s recipe Jensen’s Old Tom Gin. Naturally, adding summer fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries into the mix before we shake makes for another experience altogether.

The same can be said for the Mojito or the Caipirihna: fresh fruit makes all the difference in these rum-based cocktails and when you throw in something extra into the concoction, you can tease your palate with a wholly different experience. Mixing things up like that is the mark of a true cocktail bar – somewhere you can trust the bar tender to adjust the recipes to your needs and desires at a moment’s notice (assuming they have a fully-stocked kitchen to help out with the ingredients!).

Champagne is a versatile drink on a warm summer’s evening, whether as an aperitif, alongside food or as a digestif afterwards. Simple additions like fruit purée for a Bellini (traditionally peach, though raspberry, strawberry or even mango purées are delicious too) is a longer, fresher drink that will keep you going for a while.

That said, alcohol, fun as it is, isn’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to cocktails, especially with kids present, being the designated driver, or if you just don’t fancy it. A good Florida Cocktail, Mockito or Cranberry Crush will refresh and hydrate wonderfully while keeping you sober to enjoy your days and evenings in the sun.

So now onto the making!