What summer sight sets your heart soaring? For me, Oxfordshire aflower with natural beauty is one of the best places in the world to be. Nothing lifts the spirits like basking in a sunny spot such as Warburg Nature Reserve as butterflies jumble along. What’s more, thanks to the advice from Sir David Attenborough and local wildlife groups, all of us can play a part to preserve the whimsical sights which inspired Lewis Carroll’s madcap Alice In Wonderland, 150 years ago this month – read on!
We’ve really enjoyed putting this summer issue together – we might just bump into you at one or two of the sizzling summer events taking place. From sedate fetes to rocking festivals, there really is something for all the family this month. Think you’re too old for festivals? Read about Lulu and Pam Ayres, both performing this summer, who impressed me with their take on growing old gleefully! Keep your Ramblings coming in, as well as telling us about members of your community who are worthy of a mention. Hopefully August will be a scorcher, too!
Bix Fete will be held on Saturday 12th July at 2pm. Once again, the event welcomes Watlington Concert Band all afternoon. You’ll also find a selection of stalls, a fabulous tearoom, the bar, a raffle and games for children. Don’t miss the fun dog show, which starts at 2pm.
Children can swim with their parents at this year’s Henley Mile race on Sunday, July 12th. Organisers have added a family category to the event, which offers swimmers the option of a 200m course around temple island, off Remenham Lane, or a half-mile distance for stronger swimmers. Participants’ names will be entered to win tickets to the Open Water Swimming Show on the same day. For the mile event, hundreds will race along the Henley Royal Regatta course. Visit www.henleyswim.com
Fancy a dip? Henley club’s second Pub Swim returns for its second event on Saturday, July 25th. Participants have to swim 1.5km upstream from Henley rowing club to Marsh Lock and then down to the Angel on The Bridge. The swim will start of the 7pm chime of the bells at St Mary’s church, and the heat is on to cross the finish line before they ring at 8pm. Almost 170 swimmers took part in last year’s inaugural event. Brakspear again provides all swimmers with a bottle of commemorative Two Bells beer and a barbecue and party at the Angel on the Bridge for all those who support the event and take to the water. Finishers will also receive a medal which doubles as a bottle-opener. Any Brakspear licensee who takes the plunge will have their entry fee paid by the company. The event is one of a number of open-water events organised by Jeremy Laming, co-founder of the Henley Swim. To enter, visit www.brakspear.co.uk or visit www.henleyswim.com
Now, summer is here, so Christmas seems a long way off. But yet mayor of Henley has called for a revamp of the town’s annual Christmas festival and late-night shopping event. The award-winning Henley Living Advent Calendar, which helps local charities, features 24 nights of entertainment from singers, dancers and musicians at a range of town venues in the run-up to Christmas. Last year, about £3,500 was raised, split between five good causes. Volunteers are needed to help with the event, from venues to performers, sponsors and marshals. To sponsor or volunteer, visit www.livigadventcalendar.co.uk
Tempted by our All Aflutter feature to get your garden blooming? Woodley Flower Club are having their monthly Flower Arranging Demonstration on Tuesday 6th July at Coronation Hall, Headley Road, Woodley (RG5 4JZ) at 7.45pm. See Katheryn Goddard from Surrey demonstrate arrangements based on Pennies from Heaven – and maybe win one of them in the raffle! Doors open 7pm, arrive early for a cuppa and chat with the friendly bunch. Visitors’ admission is £5 each. For further details, call the club’s chairman on 0118 969 5697.
Young volunteers are being sought to help out with this year’s summer reading challenge at libraries across Oxfordshire. 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.
Creative types should make a date for Nettlebed Art and Craft Show. This year’s show is expected to be another quality arty experience on Saturday, 1st August, from 12noon to 6pm and Sunday, 2nd August, 10am to 5pm at Nettlebed School. This is an opportunity to see excellent work by local artists with plenty of paintings, drawings, and craft to admire.
Henley Citizens’ Advice Bureau has issued a warning to pensioners about scammers targeting their pension savings in the wake of the new pension rules. Five types of scams have been reported. The first is pension “transfers”, with scammers charge pensioners high fees for moving their pensions but nothing happens; or the money is moved without their permission; or, if the pensioner agrees to the transfer, the money vanishes or is transferred to fraudulent schemes. The second is pension savings becoming “investments” with victims told that they can get more out of their savings by investing in goods like wine, or projects. Thirdly, beware pension “advice” – a review of the victim’s savings, which can cost money and be useless, or might just be a cover for obtaining crucial personal details.
Four: pensioners are offered services for a fee. In some cases no service is provided at all. In others, a service is provided but it is either expensive or not in the consumer’s best interest. And, fifthly, contacting people by email or telephone, scammers persuade victims to hand over personal data like their National Insurance number and bank account details. Sometimes the scammers will use information they already have, such as name of the victim’s employer or pension provider. If you know anyone who might be well-equipped with this advice, tell them to call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 040506.
You can report a potential scam to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. People approaching retirement with a defined contribution pension pot can get face-to-face help from a Pension Wise expert. Make an appointment by phoning 03444 111444 or dropping in to the bureau. For CAB opening hours, see www.caox.org.uk
Based in Oxfordshire, The Mothership Network is a national online database for creative and entrepreneurial mums. Happy to offer their skills, or promote their existing small business and its products, the network makes juggling family commitments and building a dream business that little bit easier. They meet for coffee mornings, workshops and network, so find out where and when online at www.themothershipnetwork.com
Wildlife groups across Oxfordshire are channelling a bug’s life as ever, with lots of encouragement to build a Bug Hotel in your own garden. My daughter and I excitedly assembled our own little Milton Hilton at the weekend, which is now home to guests including a centipede, a party of several woodlice and numerous others who come and go. Visit www.bbowt.org.uk for details of how to get stuck in… and cure those phobias of all things leggy at the same time… possibly!
Isn’t Henley a supremely artistic neck of the woods? On that note, talented Henley artist Camilla Dowse has been offered her first London solo exhibition, which is worth a visit in town this month. This January, Camilla was selected as Artist & Illustrators Magazine’s Artist of the Year for 2014. Jonathan Cooper Park Walk Gallery in Chelsea was pleased to be among the judges for this award, whose prize included the opportunity to work towards a solo show with the gallery. Impressed by the crisp palette and bold composition of Camilla’s winning painting, Quay Hill, Lymington, the gallery will be holding a solo exhibition of Camilla’s latest works from July 16th to 25th. Trained as a graphic designer, for many years Camilla has balanced her artistic practise with a career as a picture editor. She is fascinated by buildings, and the changing play of light on brickwork, windows and rooftops. Finding inspiration in the urban landscape, she develops her ideas on gesso board in her studio, a barn belonging to the sculptor Dick Budden. In this exhibition Camilla will explore the character-filled streets of London, Brighton, and Oxfordshire. The Chelsea gallery is open Monday – Friday 10am – 6.30pm and Saturday 11am – 4pm, with free admission. Pop along, and/or visit www.camilladowse.co.uk for a flavour of her evocative paintings, and perhaps even buy one.
Now, if you’re reading this freshly delivered copy of Round & About nice and early in the month, choo-choo down to Cholsey and Wallingford Railway on Saturday, July 4th and Sunday, 5th. The evocative treasure is hosting a children’s fun weekend featuring face-painting, lucky dips, a colouring competition, bouncy castle and more. On Friday, 10th July, the railway hosts a Fish and Chip Evening Special – join the gang for an evening trip along the Bunk with supper too – book your table by calling Pat Hatch on 07799381535 as places are limited. Saturday 18th and Sunday, 19th, is Guinness Weekend when you can enjoy a pint of the black stuff from the Brake Coach Bar and a ride on the train hauled by one of the three Guinness Diesel locomotives from the Guinness Royal Park Brewery. And/or, on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd August, head trackside for a Teddy Bears’ Weekend when you can take advantage of free travel for those aged eight and under when you bring a teddy bear for a ride on the train. All trains – apart from the Fish and Chip Special – depart from Wallingford Station hourly from 11.05am to 4.05pm, and from Cholsey Station from 11.35am and 4.35pm (the 4.35pm train is to Wallingford only). For further details, please visit www.cholsey-wallingford-railway.com
Now, to Ewelme! If you haven’t visited the village, which has a lovely village has an unusual history and a wonderful church, you’re not the only one. I hadn’t until I had a friendly visit from a neighbour, telling me it was well worth a trip. (Seeing as Ewelme isn’t really on the way anywhere, a special visit is needed, and most rewarding.) The Church of St Mary The Virgin is unique in the area and, along with the almshouses and school, historically and architecturally fascinating, not least on a sunny day. Visitors to the church are always welcome and the volunteers can provide guided tours and delicious refreshments for groups of almost any size, throughout the year. To find out more, call the events and visits co-ordinator on 01491 824 822.
While we’re ‘round and about’ in Ewelme, Ewelme School will be hosting visitors for summer teas on July 5th. So, if you’ve received this magazine in time, do head along and make a day of it in this beautiful village!
A secret garden worth sharing is in Preston Crowmarsh. Just 100 yards from Benson Riverside Cafe is a hidden horticultural treat (which I’m tempted to just keep to myself). Twenty yards down the first farm track on the
left-hand side is a little gate into the marsh area of Millbrook Mead Nature Reserve. Follow the path and, through another gate, you’ll find a charming gravel garden, which is open every day and set in a small wildflower meadow, often alive with butterflies, bees and damselflies. You are requested to make a charity donation of £1.
Do you enjoy a cappella harmony? Have you considered singing with a barbershop choir? Are you free on Tuesday July 7th between 7pm and 9.45pm? Hopefully, if the answer is ‘yes’ to the above and you’re male (or know one who is), an open-minded singer and willing to try new genres then Thames Valley Chorus would love to see you at their free taster evening. The Why Not Try Barbershop event is taking place at Waingels College in Waingels Road, Woodley (RG5 4RF). Visit www.tvchorus.co.uk or call Peter on 01491 641021.
Space – the final frontier... And you can explore some out-of-this-world science this month when Harwell science and innovation campus opens it doors. On July 11th, visitors are invited to the site, which is home to 150 organisations including the United Kingdom atomic energy authority, the European space agency and diamond light source. Families are welcome to find out more about the state-of-the-art research that goes on there, including lasers, space missions, dinosaur bones, 3D printing, nanotechnology and treatments for cancer and HIV. Entry to the campus, the research facilities and all activities are completely free of charge. There will also be many activities for children and adults alike, including, extracting DNA from strawberries, rocket-building and launching and programming mini robots to navigate around a map. See you there!
Ian Brown, pianist of the Nash ensemble, joins the Pavlova Wind Quintet to celebrate their 16th anniversary. On Saturday, 11th July, from 8pm, Holywell Music Room in Oxford will lend its magnificent acoustics to a Mozart quintet for piano and wind Poulenc sextet for piano and wind, Hindermith Kleine Kammermusik Francaix Quatuor a vents and Debussy’s Two Preludes. Tickets are £15 (£12) from www.ticketsoxford.com . Visit www.pavlovaquintet.co.uk or call 07775 904626.
Now, if you’re one of the many good people who enjoyed Dorchester Festival, give yourself a pat on the back! The event’s organisers have been in touch to tell us that the biennial event raised £45,000 – more than twice their previous record. Run entirely by local volunteers and based around Dorchester Abbey, more than 4,000 people attended in May. The proceeds were split equally between Dorchester Abbey and family support charity Parents And Children Together. Jan Fishwick of the charity said: “We are overwhelmed by the final total raised and would like to thank the festival organisers for choosing PACT, and for holding such an amazing festival. This money will help many PACT families in Oxfordshire. Children who have been adopted or fostered have usually had a traumatic start in life and our award-winning therapeutic services help the whole family come to terms with what has happened and to look forward to a bright future together.”
Now, to a creative endeavour from Benson Art Group. The artists are staging an exhibition of their work on Friday, July 17th (7-9pm) and Saturday, 18th (10am-noon) at Millstream Day Centre in Benson, (OX10 6RL). No only will you be able to see the wonderful work produced by community, with all profits raised will go to the day centre, which supports elderly and disabled people in of Benson, Ewelme Berrick Salome, Roke and Preston Crowmarsh.
Know of a local business whose service is tip-top? Didcot First’s seventh annual Business & Community Awards (BACAs) are now open for nominations. The BACAs recognise and reward excellence within Didcot, the surrounding villages and business parks such as Milton Park, Culham Science Park, Harwell Oxford and Southmead Industrial Estate. Entries can be made at the launch from anyone who would like to recommend a charity, community group or organisation that deserves to have their good work acknowledged at an exciting award ceremony later this year. Nomination forms can also be found at Soha offices, Newbury Building Society, and Cornerstone in addition to Didcot First’s website – www.didcotfirst.org.uk from the launch date to closing date 25th September. Everyone who completes and submits a nomination form can also enter a free prize draw to win two tickets to the awards gala event on 13th November. The awards and gala evening are organised by Didcot First and supported by Didcot Chamber of Commerce, Didcot Rotary Club, Jennings, Soha Housing, Taylor Wimpey and Wallingford & Didcot District Rotary. Tickets can also be purchased to attend the BACAs ceremony and are available from Cornerstone’s box office.
While I think of Cornerstone, which really is a treasure in Didcot, with a lovely cinema, there is a great community event on July 24th. Access All Areas is a free day, starting at 10am, dedicated to creative activities for people aged 16+ with learning disabilities, their families and friends. From dance to theatre to crafts and beauty there’s plenty to get stuck into! Cornerstone is a fully accessible building with wide doors, a lift and disabled toilets on all levels. For more details, visit www.cornerstone-arts.org or call 01235 515144.
Excited about the Jurassic World film? My kiddie most certainly is! If you have youngsters in your family who are Wild About Dinosaurs, this aptly named July drop-in at Sutton Courtenay Environmental Education Centre (SCEEC for short) is for you. On Tuesday, July 21st, pop along any time between 10am and 3pm for Jurassic-inspired fun in this mini-oasis tucked incongruously in Milton Business Park. You don’t need to book for this one, but you do for Marvellous Minibeasts at SCEEC on Friday, July 31st, either from 10am to 12noon and 1–3pm. It’s also worth alerting you to a Shoreline Detective Drop-in session on Tuesday, August 4th to Thursday, August 6th, 10am-3pm. For more events, visit www.bbowt.org.uk/whats-on
The Old Vicarage Support Group of Friends of the Elderly invite you to join them at their summer fair on Saturday, July 20th, from 10.30am to 12noon. This summer highlight takes place in the beautiful setting of the Old Vicarage Moulsford and includes cakes, books, cards and bric-a-brac for sale as well as a tombola. There will also be refreshments available for £1 and proceeds will go to Friends of the Elderly.
On Wednesday, 22nd July, Reading Outdoor Group, which has many members in the Wallingford area, is organising a three to four-mile evening walk from Goring-on-Thames. To find out more, get in touch by visiting www.readingoutdoorgroup.org.uk or phone the group’s membership secretary on 0118 961 6506. Reading Outdoor Group is a long-established outdoor activity group that welcomes members of all ages from Reading and surrounding areas. Events are arranged and led by our members and the range of activities is varied including walking, cycling, weekends away and social events.”
A fun family event, now. Following a successful event last summer, The Little Welly ‘Goes Wild’ is back for another day of fun, excitement 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 energetic 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 be dishing out inspiration and ideas on how to enjoy and preserve the natural environment. From pre-schoolers to pre-teens, The Little Welly ‘Goes Wild’ is guaranteed to be the most fun the family has all summer. Children’s tickets cost £13 and adult’s tickets cost £2.50. To find out more and secure tickets, visit www.thelittlewelly.co.uk
Ever wanted to try acupuncture, but worried about the expense? Henley now has its first multi-bed acupuncture clinic. Patients are treated in a peaceful group setting, and can choose to pay what they can afford, from £15 to £40. Find out more by visiting www.henleycommunityacupuncture.com , call 07904 588395, or drop in for a free taster session.
Windrush Innovation Centre, Howbery Park, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BA