As I write this, we’re counting down to a week in Cornwall. I’m so looking forward to it – I have such happy memories of family holidays there when I was a kid. Having said that, the most exciting part then was being bundled into the car in the middle of the night to make sure we avoided traffic and made it to the beach in good time. Not sure I have the organisational skills or the motivation to pull off such an early start, but when beaches and beer gardens are calling... who knows
what miracles I can work. In the meantime, there’s plenty of summer fun to be had without travelling far at all – here are some of the highlights coming up this month...
In case you hadn’t heard, a world championships is coming to town! To be in with a chance of winning a world title, pop along to Langel Common on Sunday, 7th June, for the World Pooh Sticks Championships. As well as races on the River Windrush there will be entertainment and refreshments on the common from 2pm. It is the first year the popular fundraising event, organised by The Rotary Club of Oxford Spires together with other local Rotary clubs, has been staged in Witney. Nearby Cogges Manor Farm is also joining in with the fun, hosting a Stick Day from 10.30am until 5pm. For full details of the championships see www.pooh-sticks.com and to find out more about events on at Cogges see www.cogges.org.uk or call 01993 772602.
There are some lovely summer fetes and fairs coming up, including a traditional school fayre at Hailey Village Primary School on Saturday, 6th June. The fayre will run from 1pm until 4pm with attractions including a food hall, bar, auction of promises, art and craft stalls, traditional stalls, tea and cakes and rides. Entry is free and there is parking, although dogs are not allowed.
It’s worth a visit to Eynsham on Saturday, 4th July, for the village’s annual carnival. The fun starts with the shirt race and queen’s parade at 12.15pm, followed by a craft fair and plenty of family entertainment all afternoon on the Queen Elizabeth Playing Fields off Oxford Road. Attractions will include go-karts, a fun fair, face painting, Punch and Judy and spectacular arena events such as Joseph Peace Fire Stunt Show and Eagle Heights falconry display. Tickets are available from Evenlode DIY and Eynsham Post Office and on the gate and cost £5 adults and £2.50 for seniors and children. Visit www.eynshamcarnival.com
And for an afternoon of riverside fun, head to the Swinbrook and Asthall Riverday on Saturday, 20th June. Held every other year, the event takes place in the lovely surroundings of the Windrush Valley between Swinbrook and Asthall opposite the Swan Inn. Attractions include a raft race, duck race, Aunt Sally, welly-wanging, hog roast, barbeque and live entertainment and music in the evening. The gates open at midday, with the raft race at 2pm and evening entertainment starting at 7.30pm. For more details, go to www.swinbrook-riverday.com
A little further up the Windrush Valley, the biennial Burford Festival is taking place from Friday, 5th June to Sunday, 14th June. The programme includes contemporary and classical music concerts, talks and tours, a wide range of literary events, film and theatre plus a weekend of open gardens. For details of all the events and how to get tickets, go to www.burfordfestival.org
It’s also a great time of year if you enjoy mooching around gardens. Bridewell Organic Gardens is holding an open afternoon on Sunday, 14th June. The walled and vineyard garden at Wilcote, which is run by a charity working to improve the emotional wellbeing of adults who have suffered from mental illnesses, will be open to the public from 2pm until 5pm. Plants, teas and Bridewell organic wine and produce will be on sale. Admission will be £3 and free for children. For more information call 01993 868313 or visit www.bridewellorganicgardens.co.uk
In Freeland several gardens will be opened up to the public on Saturday 27th and Sunday, 28th June from 1pm until 6pm. There will also be exhibitions, cream teas and musical entertainment courtesy of West Oxfordshire Clarinets, as well as a raffle and a quiz. Admission is £4 per person, and under-16s can enter for free. Proceeds will go towards the memorial tree planting project, which commemorates the Freeland soldiers who lost their lives during the First and Second World Wars, and the extension of Freeland play park. For further details please call Hanne 01993 882002.
And Freeland Gardening Club will hear a talk on The Fragrant Garden and its Plants at its meeting on Monday, 22nd June. The talk will be given by Howard Drury in Freeland Hall at 7.30pm. There will also be a bring and buy plant sale. Visitors are welcome, and it will cost £3 for them to attend.
Another treat for green-fingered fans is Witney Horticultural Society’s annual Sweet Pea and Rose Show on Saturday, 4th July. The event will be held at Witney’s Methodist Church with entries welcome in the various cakes, flowers, vegetables and photography classes. Refreshments will be served from 10.30am and viewing will be from 12.30pm. For more details please call 01993 779749.
The Blenheim Palace Flower Show returns this month from Friday 19th to Sunday, 21st June. Indeed the Palace has a busy month coming up, with the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research Blenheim Palace Triathlon on Saturday 13th and Sunday, 14th June, not to mention a visit from Gifford’s Circus from Thursday 4th to Monday, 8th June. For full details of all events see www.blenheimpalace.com
Staying in Woodstock, where The Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock is hosting the launch of The Lie at the Heart of Waterloo, a book which focuses on the last half-hour of the battle. On Thursday, 18th June, on the very day of the battle’s bicentenary, author Nigel Sale will give a talk revealing how Wellington was saved from defeat by the Soldiers of Oxfordshire. The event starts at 2pm and is free to attend with admission to the museum reduced to £3 for those attending the launch. For more information call the museum on 01993 810213.
Just next door, The Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock, will see two talks this month focusing on fine art. On Saturday, 13th June Janina Ramirez, a medievalist, art historian, and writer and presenter of the recent BBC 4 series Saints and Sinners, will talk about the Black Prince, known also as Edward of Woodstock, who died in battle in 1376. And on Saturday, 27th June, art historian, art tour guide and lecturer Alice Foster will discuss and present images of medieval altar pieces. The lectures, organised by the Friends of The Oxfordshire Museum, will start at 2.30pm. Tickets cost £7 and can be bought from the museum, the Woodstock Bookshop, or Trevor Hendy on 01993 812103.
Also at The Oxfordshire Museum on Saturday, 6th June is a talk on the history of the blacksmith’s craft. The talk being given by Hector Cole at 2.30pm will trace the history of blacksmithing from the Iron Age to the present day. The talk accompanies the museum’s current exhibition, Forged in Fire, which tells the story of Oxfordshire’s metalworking past and is on until Sunday, 5th July. Tickets for the talk cost £7 and can be booked by calling 01993 814106.
Over in Bampton you can check out an exhibition called Witney’s Forgotten Airfield. The exhibition, which is the work of Peter Davis, tells the story of the airfield from its opening in 1918 until its closure in 1951 during which time it served as an RAF training unit, base for tennis, horse racing and motorcycle speedway, and for Witney and Oxford Aero Club and Witney Aeronautical College. At the outbreak of World War Two it was taken over by the De Havilland Aircraft Company and was instrumental in returning into service hundreds of aircraft, including Hurricanes and Spitfires. The exhibition is on at the Vesey Room, Bampton Library Building until Saturday, 27th June. It will be open from 11am until 1pm and 2.30pm until 4.30pm Monday to Saturday and from 2.30pm until 4.30pm on Sunday.
Slightly further afield, a group of artists living in the village of Hanwell, near Banbury, is putting on a new art exhibition and classical music concert. HanFest, which takes place on Saturday 6th and Sunday, 7th June, will see an exhibition of paintings, sculpture, photography, textiles, ceramics, jewellery and film in 12th-century St Peter’s Church. On the Saturday evening the church will also play host to an organ recital by Matthew Johnson, a piano recital by Mark Heller and some contemporary ballet by Richard Jones. To find out more see www.hanfest.co.uk
Sarah Deere-Jones will give a lecture on the history of the harp at the June meeting of the Cotswold Decorative and Fine Arts Society. Using illustrations from carvings, wall paintings, pottery, mosaics, sculpture, stained glass, illuminated manuscripts and 18th and 19th century paintings, her lecture will trace the history of one of the world’s most ancient and beloved musical instruments. It will take place on Wednesday, 10th June, at Bradwell Village Hall, near Burford, at 11am, with coffee and tea available from 10.15am. Non-members are very welcome and will be asked to make a suggested donation of £8. For full details about the society see www.cotswolddfas.org.uk
The Wychwood Project is hosting a talk on permaculture on Wednesday, 24th June. Think. Grow. Eat will be given by Caroline Aitken, who lives on a smallholding in Dartmoor and is co-author of Food From Your Forest Garden with Martin Crawford. Her talk will be given at Lower Farm, Ramsden and will be followed by a summer barbeque. The event runs from 6.30pm until 9.30pm and costs £15 per person. To book online please see www.wychwoodproject.org/cms/content/events
The Secret History of Enterprising Women is the title of a talk being given to Witney U3A by Jane Robinson on Thursday, 4th June. And on Thursday, 18th June the group will hear a talk by Mark Underwood called Bad or Mad. Both will take place at 2pm at Witney’s High Street Methodist Church. For more information see www.witneyu3a.org.uk
As always there is plenty of live music on this month at Fat Lil’s in Witney’s Corn Street. One of the highlights will be an appearance by folk-influenced group The Cadbury Sisters. Interestingly, the three members are all sisters and, yes, they are members of the Cadbury chocolate family. Supporting will be Oxford-based Americana/folk artist Miriam Jones. Doors open at 7.30pm with music from 8.15pm. Tickets £8 in advance or £10 on the door. They can be bought from the Rapture music shop in the Woolgate Centre or at www.wegottickets.com
From concerts to cars, and the Oxfordshire section of the MG Owners’ Club is again holding its MGs in the Park event at the Cotswold Wildlife Park on Sunday, 7th June. Last year’s event attracted 500 vehicles made by the iconic Oxfordshire car manufacturer. Entrance to the show and the park is free for MG drivers, with passengers paying the park’s group discount price for entry (£11.50 for adults and £8 for children aged three to 16, and over-65s).
Car-booters will head to Carterton Lions’ next sale on Saturday, 27th June. It will run from 9am until 12.30pm at the Recreation Ground, Alvescot Road, Carterton. Entry is free and pitches cost £6 for a single, and £12 for double or trade. For more details call 01993 772241.
The Great British Tennis Weekend returns this month, with thousands of families set to hit the courts for free. On 13th and 14th June, venues up and down the country will open their courts to the public, including Witney Lawn Tennis Club which is hosting an event on the Sunday from 11am until 4pm. Visit www.lta.org.uk/gbtw
And lastly, if you’re a lady who likes a challenge (and doesn’t mind a bit of mud) I’ve got just the event for you! The Pretty Muddy Oxfordshire race is a 5km muddy obstacle course for 13-year-olds and over taking place in the grounds of Cornbury Park on Saturday, 27th June, in aid of Cancer Research UK. Or if you want to support the cause, minus the mud, there will be a 5km Race For Life at Oxford’s University Parks on Sunday, 12th July. To sign up for either see www.raceforlife.org
Windrush Innovation Centre, Howbery Park, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BA