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!
Also in Wolvercote, the Ashmolean Natural History Society of Oxfordshire will be meeting to hear about habitat requirements for butterflies, on Tuesday, 7th July. Dr Dennis Dell, of the Upper Thames Branch of Butterfly Conservation (see our main feature!), will give a talk discussing the factors contributing to butterfly habitats being lost, the specific requirements of certain endangered species and the work being undertaken by conservation bodies to save habitats. The meeting will start at 7.45pm at The Old School Room, in the grounds of St Peter’s Church, First Turn. It will cost visitors £2 to attend.
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 super hero theme. The nine-mile night-time sponsored walk through the streets of 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 residents of Oxfordshire. For further details see www.sobellhospicecharity.org.uk or call 01865 857007.
Don’t forget, 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. Or if you fancy a longer-distance challenge, the charity is holding the UK’s first ever women-only marathon in London on Sunday, 4th October. To find out more or sign up for either see www.raceforlife.org
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 whilst 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
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 choose to raise sponsorship for either the Prostate Cancer Research Centre or Midlands Air Ambulance. For further details or to sign up see www.bike-events.co.uk
Five Oxford men are cycling from Budapest to London this July to raise money for a charity started by a local teacher. Clym Buxton, Jon Durbin, Matthew Landells, Robert Noyes and Marcus Woods are taking on the 2,500km challenge for Blue Skye Thinking. The charity was set up by Abingdon School teacher Andrew Hall, and his wife Sally, both from Oxford, last year in response to their four-year-old son Skye being diagnosed with medulloblastoma, an aggressive and cancerous brain tumour. Sadly, on August 29th, 2014, Skye died peacefully at home, aged just five. All the money the charity continues to raise will go into much-needed research into new treatments for childhood cancer. The team fly out to Budapest on 14th July and hope to arrive back in London by mid-August. You can sponsor them at www.justgiving.com/Clym-Buxton1
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 holidays, is being run with Guinness World Records and has a record breakers theme celebrating real-life achievements. The volunteers, who can be aged 13 to 24, are needed to enrol children onto the challenge, 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.
Volunteers are also needed to help youngsters in Oxford learn to read. ARCh (Assisted Reading for Children), which helps primary school children in Oxfordshire who are struggling with reading, is looking for volunteers in Oxford. Volunteers should be available to help out 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.
Annie Boon, from Oxfordshire, has published her first novel six years after she started writing. Annie spent quite a lot of time sitting having coffee and developing her characters in Georgina’s in Oxford’s Covered Market. It is no wonder then that Georgina’s became a favourite meeting place in the book. Protecting the Truth is a romantic tale of a young girl, Nicola Cowan, on her path from school, through university and finding her true self. It is available from Amazon at £6.99 and on Kindle at £4.74.
Oxford will once again host its annual celebration of Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s fantasy Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alice’s Day takes place on Saturday, 4th July and will see more than 20 venues across the city hosting events, including walks and talks, tea parties and croquet, with most free to attend. The event, co-ordinated by The Story Museum, celebrates the city’s links with Carroll, who was a maths don at Christ Church and was inspired to write his Alice stories by the daughter of the Dean of the college. This year promises to be an extra special occasion as it is 150 years since the publication of the much-loved book. Venues taking part include the Bodleian Library, the Ashmolean Museum and Christ Church. Highlights of the day include The Story Museum’s hosting of a Mad Hatter’s tea party, the chance to sing and dance a lobster quadrille at the Natural History Museum, the Frabjous Food Fair at Oxford Castle, and croquet with the Queen of Hearts at the County Court. For full details of what’s on see www.storymuseum.org.uk/alice
Music, stories and activities with a green theme are on offer at picnic afternoons being held in the glorious grounds of Oxford’s Botanic Garden. The first in the series of drop-in sessions will take place on Alice’s Day on Saturday, 4th July, and there will also be picnic afternoons on Saturdays 18th July and 1st August. They will all run from 1pm until 4pm.
Don’t miss out on the city’s biggest street party. The colourful spectacle that is the Cowley Road Carnival takes place on Sunday, 5th July. As well as a carnival procession, there will be music, dance, entertainment, food and stalls at the event which brings together the many different people in and around Oxford in a celebration of diversity and creativity. For full details see www.cowleyroadcarnival.co.uk
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
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 see www.peaceintheparkfestival.org
And Cornbury Music Festival is also on this month. As well as an eclectic mix of music across four stages, there is also comedy, children’s activities, gourmet festival caterers, an extensive range of arts and crafts stalls, a fairground and a therapy and massage zone, plus a fabulous Disco Shed. The festival runs from Friday 10th to Sunday, 12th July in the grounds of Great Tew Park. For the full line-up and tickets see www.cornburyfestival.com
Back to Oxford and the Ashmolean Museum has launched a public campaign to raise the final £60,000 needed to secure a major work by Joseph Mallord William Turner. The High Street, Oxford (1810), which has been on loan to the museum from a private collection since 1997, has been offered to the nation in lieu of inheritance tax. The painting would settle £3.5 million of inheritance tax - which is more than the tax liable on the estate – so the Ashmolean must raise the difference, £860,000, to acquire the painting. More than 90 per cent of this sum has been secured already thanks to grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Art Fund plus funding from the Friends and Patrons of the Ashmolean. Over the summer, the Ashmolean will be running events to encourage people to engage with the painting in the place where it was created. Full-size reproductions of the painting will be displayed in prominent locations and the museum will also run a photography competition encouraging photographers of all ages and abilities to capture their personal view of the city. To find out more about the painting and the fundraising campaign see www.ashmolean.org
At Blenheim Palace the iconic Battle of Blenheim painting is being displayed for the first time. Visitors will be able to see up close the historic victory that was fought and won by the 1st Duke of Marlborough in 1704, giving Blenheim Palace its name and the Duke and Duchess their vast estate – a gift of thanks from Queen Anne. The oil on canvas, which is attributed to Jan Van Huchtenburg, is on loan from the Churchill family and will be on display until December.
This month also sees two favourite events back at Blenheim. The first is the annual Battle Proms Picnic Concert on Saturday, 11th July featuring music, fireworks, Spitfire, cannons and cavalry. From Friday, 31st July to Sunday, 2nd August, there will be a jousting tournament on the South Lawn of the Palace with The Knights of Arkley and their mighty steeds. The weekend will also include falconry displays, archery and dragon-themed puppet shows. Visit www.blenheimpalace.com
Waterperry Gardens is staging its annual arts festival from Thursday 16th to Sunday, 19th July. Art in Action will see up to 400 artists, craftsmen, performers and musicians demonstrating their skills and showcasing their work. The festival will be open from 10am until 5.30pm each day. For further details or to book tickets see www.artinaction.org.uk
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
And if you run a small business and have been thinking about taking on an apprentice, there’s an event on Thursday, 2nd July at Oxford Town Hall you won’t want to miss. The Making Sense of Apprenticeships event, being run by Oxfordshire Apprenticeships and Oxford City Council, will have experts on hand to answer questions and explain the benefits of taking on an apprentice, including details of the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers. You can also hear from employers and the apprentices themselves talking about their experiences and how it has worked for them. The event will run from 9.30am until 11.30am and is free to attend. Visit www.oxford.gov.uk
A couple of musical treats this month. On Saturday, 11th July, Ian Brown, pianist of the Nash Ensemble, joins the Pavlova Wind Quintet to celebrate their 16th anniversary. The concert at the Holywell Music Room, Oxford, starts at 8pm with a programme that includes music by Mozart, Poulenc, Hindemith, Francaix and Debussy. Tickets £15/£12 from www.ticketsoxford.com
Ave Maria, a concert in honour of the Virgin Mary, is being performed in Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday, 25th July. The evening, featuring music by Britten, Bruckner, Joubert, Rachmaninov, Villette and others, starts at 8pm, directed by John Padley and will feature the talents of organist Benjamin Giddens and the Cathedral Singers of Christ Church. Tickets are £14, or £12 for concessions, and are available on the door or by calling 01865 305305 or at www.ticketsoxford.com
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. The species, which has suffered due to habitat loss, is also at risk from humans, cars, cats, magpies and other predators in the short time that they live 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.
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