July – over halfway through the year... How did that happen? There is a saying associated with July, of particular interest to us weather-obsessed Brits. According to an ancient tradition, if it rains on St Swithin’s Day – July 15th –it will rain for the next 40 days. The story began in the year 971, when the bones of St Swithin (who had died more than a century before, were moved to a shrine at Winchester Cathedral, and there was a terrific storm that lasted for 40 days. People
said the saint in heaven was weeping because his bones had been moved. So, dig out your raincoat and umbrella if it rains on the 15th; you know you’re going to need it throughout the summer – the Gods will be crying! Moving on to what’s happening this month, to activities both indoor and outdoor and hoping that tradition doesn’t hold true. Also bear in mind that the school holidays start for most schools so there’s lots to entertain the small people.
Cliveden, near Maidenhead (SL1 8NS) is opening its doors for some summer delights to entertain the whole family. There’s the chance to explore the unfolding pleasure of Cliveden’s magnificent gardens every Tuesday and enjoy a garden tour, 2–3pm. The tours are led by enthusiastic staff and volunteers. First come, first served and they are very popular, so an early arrival is suggested. Alternatively, if you fancy a tour of the gardens during the evening, you can enjoy a glass of champagne at the same time, followed by a two-course National Trust supper in the Orangery, on 14th and 21st July, 6.15–9.30pm. Booking is essential for this one –call 0844 249 1895.
Family fun now, and an event that chimes in perfectly with the theme of our main feature this month... It’s time for the annual Moths and Moonlight campnight in Cliveden’s woods. A fun-filled evening under the stars including moth-trapping, bug-hunting, toasting marshmallows over the fire, all rounded off with some storytelling. Bring a picnic for dinner and there’s a delicious breakfast when you wake up. This takes place on the weekends of 10th & 11th July and 17th & 18th July, 4pm to 11.30am. Booking is essential – call 0844 249 1895.
Talking of hunting bugs, one of Britain’s most recognisable and distinctive species, the stag beetle, is becoming increasingly rare, with only 384 recorded at the end of May this year. The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) is asking volunteers to join their annual Great Stag Hunt Survey and record any sightings of stag beetles on their website – www.ptes.org/stagbeetles . It’s easy to use and it will help to PTES to understand more about the declining stag beetle population. The website also informs on how to create a stag beetle-friendly garden, giving them a better chance of survival. Simple things like leaving dead wood on the ground to rot down as food and shelter for the larvae and being mindful of cats out in the evening (who love to play with stag beetles) will help to increase the population.
If you’d prefer to leave bugs to their own habitat but still fancy a walk in the countryside, the National Trust has an event that might be perfect for you. The NT is organising an Archaeology and Flower Walk on 26th July at the very precise time of 10.10am to 1pm. There’s an opportunity to learn about orchids and bronze age barrows of Cock Marsh. Booking essential –call 0844 249 1895.
It’s the annual Village Beer Fest in Penn Street (HP7 0PX) during the weekend of 10th, 11th and 12th July. From 11am until late, the award-winning pubs of Penn Street will be hosting their ninth Beer Fest. This is a hugely successful event and attracts more than 3,000 people who can enjoy more than 100 British ales and ciders. There’s live music throughout the day and lots of children’s entertainment, including bouncy castles, slides, a coconut shy and more. There’s plenty of food to choose from to soak up all that beer, including barbecues, a hog roast, a salad bar and plenty of bar food. The Beer Fest raises money for several charities.
If you fancy filling another weekend with Beer Fest type activities, the Maidenhead Beer Fest will be taking place during the weekend of 24th, 25th and 26th July. At their new venue – Desborough College, Shoppenhangers Road (SL6 2QB) – Chris Brown, the Royal Borough’s award winning Town Crier will once again open the festival. The event offers visitors the opportunity to sample more than 100 beers and, for the first time at the festival, there is also an offering of fine wines. The annual Maidenhead Festival takes place in Kidwells Park during the same weekend, featuring stage events and a firework display on Saturday evening at 10pm.
It’s Holy Trinity School’s (SL6 9QJ) Summer Fete on 4th July, 12pm to 4pm. Head there for loads of fun for all the family.
Talking of talks (which I wasn’t, but I like the phrase), there are several on offer this month. Starting with the Buckinghamshire Family History Society on 14th July. Punchily entitled ‘Why I can’t find stuff and what to do about it’, the talk takes place at the usual venue, the Community Centre, Bourne End (SL8 5SX), 7.45pm and focuses on managing the results of your research. Richard Jones will be delivering the talk and looking at the life of an ancestor, records on the family tree and looking at life events, records of events, how the records survived and locating records in a collection.
Bucks’ major family history event will take place on 25th July, 10am to 4pm at The Grange School, Wendover Way, Aylesbury (HP21 7NH). This is the day when all of the society’s research libraries will be available in one place, including the Buckinghamshire names database, containing well over 5million entries. Parish register transcripts and other Society publications will be on sale and there will be lots of help and advice from friendly, experienced family historians. For further details, visit www.bucksfhs.org.uk
The Marlow and District Horticultural Society is hosting a talk on 14th July, at Liston Hall, Marlow (SL7 1DD). Doors open at 7.30pm and the talk starts at 8pm. The talk is entitled ‘The Green Isle’ and is given by John Negus who will be covering the famous and not-so famous, but no less lovely, gardens and plants of Ireland. For further details, call 01628 486206.
Slipping into music now and in date order, so you can plan your aural pleasure. Friday, 3rd July, is our first concert this month and takes place at Taplow Court, Cliveden Road (SL6 0ER). It’s a summer concert and features the Willshire Piano Duo and Alke String Trio.
The Windsor and Maidenhead Symphony Orchestra will be performing on 13 July at Newbold College Church, Binfield (RG42 4AT), starting at 4pm. The soloist is Martin Bartlett who, apart from winning the Windsor and Maidenhead Young Musician competition, has recently won the BBC Young Musician of the Year keyboard final. The programme also includes Tone poem Tintagel by Bax, Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini by Rachmaninov and Scheherezade by Rimsky-Korsakov. For further details and tickets, contact the WMSO hotline on 0118 966 5149,
Rossini’s one-act opera, L’inganno Felice – The Happy Deception, is being performed at the Englefield Long Gallery (RG7 5ES). This takes place on Sunday, 19th July, 6pm to 7.15pm, by a group of 23 aspiring young professional musicians trying to raise funds to go towards a tour of Italy. For further details, tickets and a short video, visit www.rossiniontour.eventbrite.com
Finally musically, one of our regulars. Maidenhead Electronic Organ Society (MEOS) hold monthly concerts on the last Tuesday of the month, featuring top artists from the electronic organ festival and concert circuit. All concerts take place at Knowl Hill Village Hall (RG10 9XB). The next one is on 28 July, doors open at 7pm for 7.30pm start. This concert features David Thomas who became a full time professional musician in 1990 which enabled hime to perform his middle of the road / easy listening music at many organ societies where he has worked with some of the top names in the organ world. Further details and tickets, visit www.meos.org.uk or contact the social secretary on 07899 791579.
Toe-tapping towards more energetic activities and a chance to learn some new dance techniques. Tappy Feet is holding beginners tap lessons every Wednesday at Marlow Methodist Church (SL7 3HJ). Classes take place from 8pm to 9pm and the first taster session is free. For further details, call 07773 529161, or for more details and updates visit their Facebook page www.facebook.com/pages/TAPPY-FEET
If you’re more of a Jive Talker, how about beginners’ Jive Dance lessons, also on a Wednesday evening. Doors open 7.30pm with beginners jive starting at 8pm at Frieth Village Hall (RG9 6PR). Further details visit their Facebook page www.facebook.com/therockingrebels
Are you Fast as Lightening? A friendly and fun Self Defence and Kung Fu class welcomes people of all abilities (aged 11 to adult) who are looking to get in shape and build their confidence. They are in the Marlow Bottom Village Hall (SL7 3NA) every Sunday from 10.15am to 11.15am, next to the Barn Club, just opposite the One Stop Shop on the main road. All you need to wear is tracksuit bottoms and a T-shirt. For further details visit www.phoenixfist.com or contact Steven, call 07711 251078.
The National Trust is giving us some perfect summer evenings over the next few months by combining live entertainment, a tasty picnic and a beautiful setting. The picnic is up to you but they’re supplying the other two elements. Starting with Waddesdon Manor (HP18 0JH) and they’re offering a showing of ‘Twelfth Night’ on 25 July, starting at 7.30pm. For further details and booking, call 01296 653226. West Wycombe Park will be performing The Taming of the Shrew on 18th July, 7.30pm. For further details and booking, call 0844 249 1895.
More showings later in the summer – further details to follow in August’s Ramblings.
As we’re all aware, July is the start of the summer holidays for school-age children and most public places are filled with families all seeking some fun. There’s lots of exciting activities for children of all ages in this area including trips to Legoland, Thorpe Park, the Roald Dhal museum, the River & Rowing museum – the list is endless. However, if you and your child or children are feeling the need for a break from each other there’s also opportunities to entertain them without you. There’s a Summer Holiday Club for Cookham Kids from 27th to 31st July for five-to-eight year-olds and eight to 11-year-olds (which one do you go to if you’re eight?!) Activities include games, songs, drama, craft, music, sports and bible stories. Tickets are available from the Stationery Depot, Cookham (SL6 9BR).
There’s more summer fun at Furze Platt School (SL6 7NQ) from 27th to 31st July, 9am to 3pm for nine-to-13-year-olds. Activities include kayaking, raft-building, fencing, cricket, arts and crafts, dance and other sporting pursuits. Contact the school for further details by calling 01628 625308.
A really fun family event, now, for parents. Following a successful event last summer, The Little Welly ‘Goes Wild’ is back for another day of fun and mud. This year the event will take place at Culden Faw Estate in Henley. Little ones can take part in an action-packed obstacle course. Challenge the brood to a game of laser tag, learn new bush craft skills, ride a pony, zen out in a yoga class and get creative at arts and crafts stalls. Adding to the excitement will be a string of organisations that are passionate about kids, education and the great outdoors. Go Kids and Soccer First will be on-hand to highlight the importance of staying active while the Woodland Trust, WildLife Trust and RSPB will dish out inspiration and ideas on how to enjoy and preserve the natural environment. Children’s tickets cost £13 and adult’s tickets cost £2.50. To find out more and secure tickets to the event, visit www.thelittlewelly.co.uk
Windrush Innovation Centre, Howbery Park, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BA