I just love those summer holidays. Six weeks of parks, picnics and family fun time. Even better – six weeks of not having to be out of the house dressed, fed and almost clean by a quarter past eight for the school and nursery run every morning! There’s nothing quite like a pyjama morning. And the good news is that if/when we do make it out of the house, there are loads of great things going on over the next few weeks. Here are some of the highlights – have a lovely month!
Volunteers are also needed to help youngsters in Abingdon learn to read. ARCh (Assisted Reading for Children), which helps primary schoolchildren in Oxfordshire who are struggling with reading, is looking for volunteers in Abingdon. Volunteers should be available to help for one-and-a-half hours twice a week during the school day. You don’t need any qualifications – just patience, enthusiasm and kindness. Full training is given and the charity provides ongoing support and reimburses travel expenses. To find out more, visit www.archoxfordshire.org.uk or call 01869 320380.
Young volunteers are being sought to help out with this year’s summer reading challenge at libraries across the county. The challenge, which encourages children to read six books over the summer, is being run with Guinness World Records and has a record-breakers theme celebrating achievements. The volunteers, who can be aged 13 to 24, are needed to enrol children, help them to choose their books and assist with storytime and craft sessions. To find out more ask at your local library, visit www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/libraries or call 01865 810239.
And you know the summer holidays are upon us when the famous Millets Farm Maize Maze opens. This year’s will be the 19th maze and the gates to it are opened on Thursday, 16th July. It will then be open daily from 10am until 6pm (with last entry at 4.30pm) through August, and on Saturday and Sunday only for the first two weekends in September, closing on Sunday, 13th September. Other events on at Millets this month include gnome painting for kids on Wednesday, 22nd July and T-shirt-designing and decorating on Wednesday, 29th July. See www.milletsfarmcentre.com for times and prices of all events.
Pre-school children can enjoy some outdoor nature play, games, stories and crafts at Sutton Courtenay Environmental Education Centre. Nature Tot sessions aim to give the youngsters the chance to interact and learn from nature. They will run at the centre on Wednesday, 15th July from 9.30am until 11.30am and then 1pm until 2.30pm. They will also run from 9.30am until 11.30am on Thursday 16th and Friday, 17th July. All children must be accompanied by an adult. The sessions cost £4 per child, and tea, biscuits and mud are provided. Booking is essential, and this can be done at www.bbowt.org.uk
You can also let your youngsters go Wild about Dinosaurs at the Sutton Courtenay Environmental Education Centre this month. Meet Denis, the centre’s friendly dinosaur, go hunting for dinosaur eggs and dig for bones as well as learn more about dinosaurs’ distant relatives who live on the reserve today. The drop-in sessions will run on Tuesday 21st, Wednesday 22nd and Thursday, 23rd July from 10am until 3pm and there is no need to book. Families are also welcome to bring their own picnics. The week after the centre is running Marvellous Mini-beast sessions for six-year-olds and over on Friday, 31st July from 10am until midday, and 1pm until 3pm. The workshops will include a mini-beast safari and the chance to create your own mini-beast to take home. It costs £4 per child and places need to be booked online at www.bbowt.org.uk
All Saints Church in Sutton Courtenay is hosting its sixth season of Sunday Parish Proms. Concerts this month include Flautist’s Fancy featuring James Thompson on flute on Sunday, 19th July, and In the Spotlight, with vocal classics and standards for a summer’s evening, with soprano Lynne Winter and others, on Sunday, 26th July. The series continues with concerts on 2nd and 9th August. Each concert starts at 6pm and will last around an hour. Tickets at £6.50 per event include a complimentary apéritif and nibbles, with proceeds going to church funds. For further details please contact 01235 426109 or 07788 715873, or see latest updates at www.w2.suttoncourtenay.co.uk
Huw Rhys James of the Vienna Konservatorium will play piano works by Beethoven, Scriabin and Debussy at Abingdon’s St Michael’s Church in Park Road on Saturday, 11th July. The concert starts at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £9 or £7 for concessions in advance or £10/£8 on the door, with children under 16 able to get in for free. Advance tickets available from Mostly Books, Stert Street, Abingdon.
Talented young musicians will be performing at Dorchester Abbey as part of a summer celebration of music. On Friday, 3rd July Oxfordshire County Youth Orchestra will give a concert, which will include Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin. The following night, on Saturday, 4th July, it is the turn of Oxfordshire Schools Symphony Orchestra, Oxfordshire Youth Wind Band and Oxfordshire Schools Orchestra, with a programme of music to celebrate American Independence Day. Both concerts start at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £8 and £5 and are available from www.oxfordplayhouse.com/ticketsoxford
If live music is your thing you’ll be looking forward to the brilliant Truck Festival in Steventon, which is back again with another great line-up. Basement Jaxx and The Charlatans are headlining at the event at Hill Farm on Friday 17th and Saturday, 18th July. For full details of the acts and ticket prices, go to www.truckfestival.com
And if you fancy a festival promising a celebration of ideas, music and fun you might want to head to Peace in the Park at the Global Retreat Centre in Nuneham Courtenay. The family-friendly event runs from Friday, 24th July to Sunday 26th, July, and entry is free, although tickets do need to be booked in advance. For more details see www.peaceintheparkfestival.org
Talking festivals, and the biennial Dorchester Festival held in May helped raise more than £45,000 for charity – more than twice its previous record. The community festival run by local volunteers at Dorchester Abbey saw more than 4,000 people attend almost 50 events. Proceeds were split equally between Dorchester Abbey and family support charity Parents And Children Together, which received a final donation of £23,874. On the second day, ten intrepid charity supporters abseiled down the 100ft tower at Dorchester Abbey, raising more than £15k in sponsorship. Abseilers included PACT chief executive Jan Fishwick, Rector of Dorchester Abbey Sue Booys, former High Sheriff of Oxfordshire Richard Dick and South Oxfordshire District Council Leader John Cotton. PACT plans to use the funds to provide therapeutic support services to Oxfordshire families to help adopted and fostered children to address painful issues from their past.
The Seven Stars in Marsh Baldon is putting on its beer festival again, with this year’s event extended to take place over three days. The festival runs from Friday, 3rd July to Sunday, 5th July, and features 25 to 30 beers from around the country, including from local breweries White Horse and Loose Cannon. There will also be live music across all three days. To find out more see www.sevenstarsonthegreen.co.uk
And in Didcot the Cornerstone Arts Centre is hosting its seventh annual beer and music festival, promising three days of free music, hearty hog-roasts and choice drinks. The festival, which runs from Friday, 31st July to Sunday, 2nd August, will feature more than 25 beers, ales and ciders, and some great musical acts playing on a pyramid stage in the Cornerstone meadow from 6pm each night. Headline acts are Dubwiser on Friday, Flights of Helios on Saturday and Paul Liddell on Sunday and entry is free. For the full line-up and more see www.cornerstone-arts.org
Sweet tooth? the Abingdon Community Hospital League of Friends has a cream tea event on Saturday, 11th July. The charity will serve scones with cream and jam, from 11am until 2pm, at the Charter Day Centre near Abingdon Library. There will also be stalls and a tombola.
Fancy taking a walk on the pink side? Against Breast Cancer’s Breast Walk Ever is back for its second year on Sunday, 6th September. The route will follow the River Thames from either Abingdon or Wallingford to Beale Park in Pangbourne with walkers choosing between a half or full marathon course. The event will be raising funds for the charity’s ground-breaking research into improving early detection and increasing survival rates after breast cancer diagnosis. For full details or to find out more see www.breastwalkever.org or call 01235 534211.
Also coming up in September is your chance to join an eight-mile culture crawl in aid of Maggie’s Oxford. Walkers will head out into the night taking in Oxford Castle Unlocked and Christ Church Cathedral and Great Hall, by way of County Hall, getting exclusive access to these buildings and enjoying delicious food and drink along the way. Discover some of the city’s cultural, architectural and artistic delights while raising money to support people with cancer and their family and friends. For more information, and to register for the Culture Crawl on Friday, 11th September, see www.maggiescentres.org/culturecrawl
Pull on your best cape and mask and unleash your inner superhero – all for a great cause. The Oxford Moonlight Stroll returns for the ninth time on Saturday, 11th July and is this year following a superhero theme. The nine-mile night-time sponsored walk through Oxford in aid of the Sobell House Hospice Charity starts at 10.30pm from St Edward’s School. The event is an important fundraiser for the hospice, which provides palliative and end-of-life care to the residents of Oxfordshire. For further details see www.sobellhospicecharity.org.uk or call 01865 857007.
Oxford’s 5km Race for Life takes place on Sunday, 12th July around the city’s University Parks in aid of Cancer Research UK’s work to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. The charity is also holding the UK’s first ever women-only marathon in London on Sunday, 4th October. To find out more or sign up see www.raceforlife.org
Hop on your bike if you’re looking for a midsummer cycling challenge. The Oxford 100/50 ride on Sunday, 5th July offers cyclists the choice of either a 100 or 50-mile route, both of which start and finish at Oxpens Meadows, and tour beautiful Oxfordshire country lanes and cross the Chiltern Hills. Participants can raise funds for the Prostate Cancer Research Centre or Midlands Air Ambulance. For details or to sign up see www.bike-events.co.uk
A teacher at Abingdon School has inspired five men to cycle from Budapest to London this July to raise money for the charity started in memory of his late son. Clym Buxton, Jon Durbin, Matthew Landells, Robert Noyes and Marcus Woods, all from Oxford, are taking on the 2,500km challenge for Blue Skye Thinking. The charity was set up by Sally and Andrew Hall, both from Oxford, last year in response to their four-year-old son Skye being diagnosed with medulloblastoma, an aggressive and cancerous brain tumor. Sadly, on August 29th, 2014, Skye died peacefully at home, aged five. All the money the charity raises will go into much-needed research into new treatments for childhood cancer. The team fly to Budapest on July 14th and hope to arrive back by mid-August. You can sponsor them at www.justgiving.com/Clym-Buxton1
A man embarked on a 500-mile solo hike across Spain to help raise funds for Muscular Dystrophy UK. Josh Davis, 25, assistant manager of New Coronet Bingo Club in Didcot, was inspired to take on the epic trek by his brother who suffers from muscular dystrophy. He followed the Camino de Santiago starting in St Jean Pied de Port in the South of France, hiking over the Pyrenees all the way across Spain to the north west city of Santiago de Compostela. He took four weeks on foot averaging 20 miles a day carrying his gear and persevered while suffering with tendonitis, swollen ankles, hiker’s knee and blistered feet. You can sponsor Josh at www.justgiving.com/Josh-Davis2
People with mobility impairments now have much better access to the riverside in Abingdon, thanks to a new footpath installed by Vale of White Horse District Council. The council worked with the Vale Disability Access Group to create the path, which runs from Hales Meadow car park to the river towpath. It makes the area much more accessible for wheelchair and mobility scooter users, who previously had to use a steep path down from the bridge.
And while you’re out and about this month keep an eye out for stag beetles. People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), which is working to halt the decline of the insect, is appealing for people to take part in its annual Great Stag Hunt Survey by recording any sightings. The species has suffered due to habitat loss, is also at risk from humans, cars, cats, magpies and other predators above ground. You can log a sighting at www.ptes.org , where there is also advice on how to create a stag beetle-friendly garden.
Noel Coward’s comedy Hay Fever is being staged by The Studio Theatre Club. It will be performed by the local amateur drama club at the Unicorn Theatre from Wednesday 22nd to Saturday, 25th July, 7.30pm. For more information or to order tickets, which cost £10, or £8.50 for over-65s/under-16s, see www.studiotheatreclub.com
Following a smash-hit West End season (we know because we went to see it in Leicester Square) Scamp Theatre’s adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s children’s book Stick Man is coming to Wantage. The show is on at The Beacon on Monday, 6th July, with shows at 1.30pm and 4.30pm. The publicity material describes the show as “touching, funny and utterly original” and, having seen it, I would wholeheartedly agree. The award-winning production features a trio of top actors, puppetry, songs, live music and funky moves. The show is suitable for children aged three and above. Tickets are £8 or £30 for a family of four. Visit www.beaconwantage.co.uk , call 01235 763456 or buy in person at The Beacon.
Also at The Beacon in Wantage this month is a meeting of the Wantage, Wildlife, History and Archaeology Group. The group will be hearing a talk on the Archaeology of an Oxfordshire Village, namely Stanford-in-the-Vale, by David Ashby on Friday, 10th July at 7.30pm. Visitors are welcome, and it will cost them £3.50 to attend. For further information please call 01235 751646 or 764258.
Abingdon Anglo-German Club will hear a presentation from David MacGregor and Ryan Kouroukis at their next meeting on Thursday, 2nd July. The pair’s talk, called From Thief of Fire to Herald of Freedom: Prometheus the Rebel from Aeschylus to Goethe, will be given at Abbey Chapel, Checker Walk, Abingdon, at 7.30pm. There is no formal charge, although donations will be invited. Call 01235 533887 or see www.abingdonagc.wordpress.com
A week of activities, talks, outings, food, fun and friendship is once again on offer for over-50s. Christ Church on Northcourt Road in Abingdon is again running its successful Prime Time Activity Week from Tuesday 11th to Friday, 14th August. Programmes and application forms from the church office or by calling 01235 539172 and the closing date for applications is Monday, 13th July.
The Alzheimer’s Society will hold a fundraising sale in Abingdon town centre on Saturday, 11th July. The society provides services across the county for people with dementia and those who care for them, including memory cafes, carers support groups, singing for the brain, one-to-one dementia support and day support in Abingdon. The sale will take place in the Market Place from 9am, and will include cakes, produce, clothes, books and bric-a-brac.
Also, on Saturday, 11th July are mosaic-making sessions at Abingdon County Hall Museum, 10.30am to 3.30pm. Marvellous Mosaics takes place in the Kempster Room, next to the Mouse Hole cafe in the museum basement.
Oxfordshire Mind has a new short craft course. It will run on Mondays from 10am until midday from 13th July to 3rd August at Abingdon Wellbeing Centre, 1st Floor, Charter Complex, Broad Street. There’s a suggested donation of £3 per. Call 01235 522096.
Creative types – make a date for Nettlebed Art and Craft Show. This year’s show on Saturday 1st and Sunday, 2nd August will have paintings, drawings, and craft by local artists. It takes place at Nettlebed School from noon until 6pm on Saturday and 10am until 5pm on Sunday.
Lastly, an Oxfordshire woman has launched a national database for creative and entrepreneurial mums. Claire Joy is the driving force behind The Mothership Network, based in Woodcote, which aims to enable mums to promote their skills and their existing small business and products. Visit www.themothershipnetwork.com
Windrush Innovation Centre, Howbery Park, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BA