Following last week’s post about walking in Caversham here’s an interview with Sarah Roy, aka Caversham Jam Lady. She’s been in Caversham for 11 years and has been running her jam making business for just over a year. She shared some of Caversham and business secrets with me.
You’ve been living in Caversham since 2005, so you must know the area pretty well. Where does Caversham Jam Lady spend her days?
I really like Caversham Court Gardens – it’s so peaceful there. I like to walk along the river, not just in Caversham but all the way to Sonning. I like walking – I did London Moon Walk and walked all the way to Henley (about 10 miles). I also like Christchurch Meadows. The playground and crèche there are really good. Kids like to go to Alto Lounge in Caversham town centre. We’re really lucky in Caversham as we have everything so close to us and there’s a lot going on.
So do you need to go to the other side of the river to Reading town centre at all?
Not really, unless the kids want to have a ride on a bus. We have everything we need in Caversham.
Do you feel at home here?
Definitely, it’s a great place to be and to live. My son goes to Micklands Primary School, we meet friends on the school run and I’m involved in our local community.
Do you think that this close-knit community has helped you to set up your jam making business which operates on local level?
Yes, most definitely. Caversham is basically a large village. Everyone knows each through someone else. This gives me lots of contacts for fruit. I like to think of myself as a community jam maker. People give me fruit from their gardens, I turn it into something yummy and give them back a jar to say thank you. It works really well, everyone benefits!
How Sarah, the teacher, became Sarah, Caversham Jam Lady?
I used to work as a primary school teacher but the work was very stressful and time-consuming, so after I had my second child I decided not to go back to teaching and be a stay-at-home mum. I’ve been always making jams. It’s a kind of tradition in my family and I though I could sell them not only to my family and friends.
So one day you just turned it into business?
I was happily making jam as a hobby and one day someone asked if I ever thought of selling it. Another person asked on Facebook if anyone knew who the ‘jam lady’ was and that’s where it all started! I’ve never thought I would be making jams for living but I do. It’s not yet profitable but can be in the future. After all, there are people doing similar things and making the living. I started last summer and developed the business through Facebook mainly. I used Caversham Gossip Girl, which is a Facebook group where you can advertise your local business. I now have over 600 likes on Facebook and over 200 followers on Twitter. In the beginning most of my customers were family and friends but now a lot of them comes through Facebook and events I attend.
What do you like the most about being your own boss?
Having your business at home can feel lonely at times, so I love the fact that I can partner with other like-minded people from independent foodie scene. I do a lot with Pop-up Reading and recently I made tomato jam for I love Paella that is based in The Horn pub in central Reading. This Saturday I’ll be at community centre The Oasis just off Baker Street selling my jams and coffee from Tamp Culture at a pop-up bakery event. I also like learning new techniques, bases. It gives me something to think about.
How does/would your perfect day in Caversham look?
A perfect day in Caversham would probably involve a lot of walking! Breakfast in Alto Lounge, walk along the river, a coffee from Whittington’s Tea Barge, continue down to Sonning, lunch in the café by the lock, back to Caversham for dinner in Mya Lacarte and end the evening with a movie in the Outdoor Cinema at Caversham Court Gardens.
Any secret places in the area that you could recommend?
Ahh I can’t give all the secrets away! But my Jewel of a place is Bugs Bottom. Just 5 mins from the centre of Caversham along Hemdean Road and you could be in the Berkshire Downs. It’s where I go with my dog Rusty, when it’s just him and me. Perfect relaxation!
Want to experience Caversham, Reading for yourself? Download list of places to see and things to do in Caversham when you sign up with your email below*.