I’m off angling with the Fish Wives tomorrow. I’ve not once picked up a fishing rod. The closest I got was when I went to the canal with a fishing-mad ex-boyfriend and stood, freezing cold, watching him not have a bite all day... At least with the Fish Wives there’s a picnic involved (and plenty of sunshine, hopefully). It’s good to try something new sometimes, don’t you think? I don’t expect I’ll become a fan of fishing. However, there are lots of things for you to try this month. From singing to badminton and bridge. If that all sounds a bit much, we’ve always got the usual fetes, fairs and festivals to tempt you outdoors.
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
Rachel Mahon, St Paul’s Cathedral organist, will be giving a recital at St Nicholas Church, Baulking at 7.30pm on Friday, 24th July. Rachel is an accomplished organist and has played for a number of churches and cathedrals in England and Canada. She has a wide musical repertoire, so you can expect a varied evening. The entry fee will be £10 and tickets will be obtainable from John Deakin by calling 01367 820542. Refreshments will be available on the evening.
For the first time, Blenheim Palace is displaying the iconic Battle of Blenheim painting, attributed to Jan Van Huchtenburg, on loan from the Churchill family. Initially on loan until December, visitors to the Oxfordshire World Heritage Site will be able to see the painting which has always been hung in Sir Winston Churchill’s Dining Room in his Hyde Park residence. Visitors will be able to see up close the historic victory that was fought and won by the 1st Duke of Marlborough, giving Blenheim Palace its name and the Duke and Duchess their vast estate – a gift of thanks from Queen Anne. The painting depicts The Battle of Blenheim, 1704 and shows the arrival of the Duke of Marlborough to receive the submission of Marshall Tallard.
You will need a palace, park and gardens ticket to see it though, which costs £22.50 for adults, £12.30 children and £18 concessions. See www.blenheimpalace.com
East and West Hendred Women’s Institute will meet on July 16th at 7.30pm at West Hendred Village Hall. Rev. Nicolas Henderson will talk on two of Henry VIII’s half-forgotten queens – Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard. Visitors are welcome and for more information contact Anne Pagett on 01235 797405.
Cholsey and Wallingford Railway are holding a great event for children this month, taking place on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th July. It’s officially Children’s Fun Weekend with face painting, lucky dips, colouring competition, bouncy castle and more. Then, on Friday, 10th July there’s an evening trip along the Bunk with a Fish and Chip Supper. You need to book for this one, so contact Pat Hatch on 07799381535. Also this month, on Saturday, 18th and Sunday, 19th July it’s Guinness Weekend. 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. Last but not least, on Saturday 1st and Sunday, 2nd August, it’s Teddy Bears’ Weekend where there is free travel for those under eight when you bring a teddy bear for a ride on the train. All trains, apart from the Fish and Chip Special, will depart from Wallingford Station hourly from 11.05am to 4.05pm, and from Cholsey Station from 11.35am and 4.35pm. For further details check the website at www.cholsey-wallingford-railway.com
Wantage Parish Church of SS Peter and Paul is holding a Table Top Sale on Saturday, 11th July from 10am to midday. Weather permitting, they hope to have the Tower Open for splendid views over the town and will have delicious coffee and cake to help you relax as you enjoy browsing the stalls and exploring the beautiful church. For further details contact Sue Thwaite on 01235 223554.
As always, there’s lots going on at Wantage Library this July, starting with The Chocolate Digestive Reading Group, who are scheduled to meet on Saturday, 4th July, for an hour from 9.30am. It’s a Junior Reading Group for children aged 10 and 11 (in years 5 and 6). This meeting they will be celebrating Alice’s Day. Go along and join the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. On the 7th, it’s Knit and Natter from 2pm to 4pm. Share your interest in knitting, crochet, needlework or any form of textile work. On the same day, but nothing to do with knitting, is an Author Talk, to be given by Eliza Graham from 7.30pm. She’ll be discussing her books and writing, then answering any questions you may have, and to sign copies of her books. Reserve your free place. Take along your pre-schooler on 8th July for Rhymetime, from 10.30. They can enjoy singing, musical instruments, action rhymes and very short stories. No need to book, just drop in. This will be the last Rhymetime until September.
There’s also an adult reading group on Thursday, 16th July, from 11am to midday. Plus, don’t forget, every Saturday from 9.30am and Monday from 9.30am, there are computer sessions at the library, but remember to book! Also, every Wednesday, from 9.30am there will be a volunteer at the library to help you research your family tree. Oh, and don’t forget to round up the month there is a book sale on the last Saturday of every month, all day.
For more details on all the events contact the library on Call Wantage library on 01235 762291.
Staying at the library for just one more thing, from July 11th to September 12th children can discover weird, wonderful and wacky records from around the world by getting involved with Record Breakers Summer Reading Challenge 2015. Children should read at least six books over the summer holidays and collect amazing rewards on the way. On completion the children also receive a wristband, a medal and a certificate. Visit the library three times to complete the challenge. Simply join up at Wantage library – it’s fun and it’s free!
The Carducci Quartet is returning to Sparsholt on Saturday, 4th July, 7.30pm. They are recognised as one of today’s most successful string quartets and will be performing Haydn ‘Joke’ Quartet Op.33 No. 2, Shostakovich Quartet No. 3 and Mendelssohn Op.80 in F Minor. There will be interval drinks at the manor by kind invitation of Sir Adrian and Lady Judith Swire. Tickets are £15 to £20 from Henry and Josephine Newton on 01235 751540.
The Wantage, Wildlife, History & Archaeology Group will be meeting on 10th July in The Beacon (Civic Hall) Portway, Wantage, at 7.30pm. The illustrated talk will be about the ‘Archaeology of an Oxfordshire Village’, namely Stanford-in-the-Vale, by David Ashby. Visitors are very welcome for an admission fee of £3.50. For more details, call 01235 751646 or 764258.
Faringdon & District U3A are holding their monthly meeting on Thursday, 9th July in the Faringdon Corn Exchange at 2.30pm. The speaker by popular request is Hugh Granger, who is returning to give a talk on ‘Interactive Language’. Hugh will present a selection of the odder aspects of the English language, involving the audience with this talk. This afternoon is free to U3A members but £1.50 to visitors. Further information from the chairman at www.faringdondistrictu3a.wordpress.com or on 01367 241 241. They are also holding a Summer Lunch on Thursday, 13th August in the garden of Steve and Jenny Braithwaite. Numbers are limited to 120 so book up soon.
If you love brass band music then you will be pleased to know there are some open-air concerts planned this month in the grounds of the Bandhall, Tugwell Field. On the 5th, Wantage Youth Brass will be there, and on the 19th, it’s Wantage ‘B’ Band’s turn. Both concerts start at 4pm and you’re welcome to take chairs along and settle in for a couple of hours. There will be a bar and barbecue too.
Also, The Wantage Band, conducted by Phillip Bailey, will perform some of its favourite marches, overtures and music from stage and screen at Wantage Parish Church on Saturday, 18th July, 7.30pm, with guests Wantage Youth Brass. Tickets are £8 adults, £6 seniors, £1 children (under 11) from Regent Bookshop in Wantage, Brett’s Pharmacy in Grove, from Ann Chadwick 01235 770378 or via the website www.wantageband.org
It’s time for another fete now, this time Faringdon Grand Peace Fete taking place on Saturday, 4th July, from 2pm at Clock House, Coleshill. All the family will be entertained by games, stalls, traditional, funky and alternative crafts, circle dancing, raffle with great prizes, books, tombola, white elephant, circus workshop, teas and curries, brilliant music – and a lot more. Visit www.faringdonpeacegroup.org.uk or phone 01367 241707 or 01367 710308.
The Wantage and Grove ME/CFS Support Group are holding a few meetings over the next couple of months that I want to tell you about. The first one is on Wednesday, 2nd July, from noon at The Lord Nelson in Wantage. The second is on Monday, 21st July, 1pm to 3pm, at The Cornerstone Cafe in Grove. Then, on Thursday, 21st August, 10.30am to noon, also at The Cornerstone Cafe in Grove.
Grease is still the word, apparently. There aren’t many readers out there I’m sure, who haven’t seen the original movie, set in 1959. It tells the story of Danny and Sandy, and how America was changed in the 1950s by rock ‘n’ roll. Grease doesn’t have a message, it gives a flavour of being a teenager in the ’50s when rock ‘n’ roll and putting grease on your hair were the most important things in life. It’s the original high-school musical featuring the unforgettable songs from the hit movie including You’re The One That I Want, Summer Nights, Greased Lightnin’ and many more.
On 11th and 12th July, Wantage Junior Showstoppers will be performing this feel-good, pick-me-up musical at King Alfred’s Academy, Portway, Wantage, so dust off your leather jackets, pull on your bobby socks and hand jive the night away with the show that will make you want to stand up and shout ‘A-wop’! Tickets are £8 (£5 concessions) which can be purchased from Bretts Pharmacy in Grove or by calling 01235 223847.
The annual Wantage to Winchester Cycle Ride, now in its eighth successful year, will take place on Sunday, 19th July. Already riders from different parts of the country have registered to ride the 50-mile route, which winds through quiet country lanes and ancient landscapes. The Wantage to Winchester Ride celebrates the historic connection between Wantage, King Alfred the Great’s birthplace, and his final resting place, Winchester. It regularly attracts more than 120 riders, many of whom return year after year, riding anything from the latest carbon-fibre racers to shopping bikes with baskets on the front. The ride leaves the statue of King Alfred in Wantage’s historic market place at 10am. Heading east along the Vale of the White Horse, riders then cross the Marlborough Downs, the Thames Valley and North Hampshire Downs, before a gentle descent into Winchester through the picturesque villages of the Bourne Valley. The ride finishes at Winchester’s statue of Alfred in the Broadway.
The ride is non-competitive and there is no sponsorship requirement unless participants wish to support their own charities. The route is sign-posted and marshalled, with refreshment stops on the way, and at the finish where riders will be welcomed with tea and cakes at Winchester’s Bike Hub at the YMCA café. For more details and to register for the ride visit www.Hyde900.org.uk
Stanford Drama Group will be performing Speakeasy by Jane Quill at Stanford in the Vale Village Hall from Thursday, 2nd July to Saturday, 4th July. The story centres on Keith, who has a problem, but then so do Bettina, Rachel, Mary and Michael. They all attend a self help group run by Gary in the local Community Health Care Centre on Canvey Island. Come and observe how the group gets on discussing the issues in this engaging comedy, which contains strong language and adult humour. Tickets are available from Stanford Post Office costing £6 on Thursday, £8 on Friday and £12 on Saturday (includes food). Doors open 7pm for pre-performance drinks. For further information contact Evone or Barry on 01367 710400.
Ever thought of taking up badminton? Now’s your chance as you can have two free evenings of play at Fairford Badminton Club. All you need to do is go along at 8pm any Monday during July and August and have a go.
Faringdon Bridge Club has announced that it will be starting bridge lesson for beginners from this summer and is calling for expressions of interest from anyone who is thinking of learning this wonderful game. The teaching will follow the English Bridge Union syllabus and will lead to achieving a competent standard for playing in a club, and at home with friends. No previous knowledge or experience is necessary – just an interest in playing cards!
Faringdon Bridge Club meet at 7pm every Monday evening (including most Bank Holidays) at the Old Crown Coaching House, Market Square, Faringdon. Visitors and new members are always welcome. If you are interested, contact either Faye Slade, chair of the club on 01793 782935; Françoise Stacey, secretary of the club on 01367 241813 or Malcolm Higgins, teaching on 07788 582244. You can also visit www.bridgewebs.com/faringdon/
It’s about time to register for Bike Oxford, in time for Sunday, 13th September. Following on from positive feedback the routes will follow a very similar course to last year. With a choice of 25, 50 and 80 miles, there should be a suitable challenge for riders of all abilities. The event this year will start and finish at The Cherwell School (Harlequins Rugby Club) on Marston Ferry Road, Oxford. The school has huge cycling fans and have the highest proportion of students who cycle to school in the UK
They might have a new venue but they’ll still be the same (if not better) post-ride atmosphere back at the event village. Riders can relax and reminisce with friends whilst enjoying post-ride food, a well-earned pint of Hook Norton from their pay bar and take your bike to Beeline Bicyles who’ll be on hand to give your bike the once over. Visit www.bikeoxford.co.uk for more details.
Next up, it’s the West Ilsley Village Fete & Dog Show On Sunday, 5th July, from midday until 4pm. It’s held on the cricket pitch opposite The Harrow pub in the village of West Ilsley. This year’s fete has lots on offer including owls and birds of preys display, classic cars, helicopter, crockery smashing, inflatable go-karting, bouncy castle, raffle, silent auction, boxing ring, sweets and popcorn stall, vintage clothing, fun dog show and agility clear round, pizzas, ice cream van, barbecue and much, much more. Entry is £2 for adults and children are free. Free car parking.
One of Britain’s most recognisable and unique species, the stag beetle (Lucanus cervus) is unfortunately becoming increasingly rare to find. For 15 years, People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) has been actively working to halt the decline of this iconic insect. PTES is asking volunteers to join their annual Great Stag Hunt Survey and record any sightings of stag beetles. The survey, which can be found on their website, www.ptes.org , is easy to use. It’s worth taking time to help because, with your input, PTES can better understand how stag beetles numbers are faring in the UK. By the end of May this year, only 384 stag beetles have been recorded, so all contributions are vital to this survey. Unfortunately, the stag beetle’s tough exterior and formidable-looking mandibles encourages some people to kill them without realising they are not harmful to humans.
Ever wondered how a wind turbine works? Now’s your chance to get up close and personal to the world’s largest community owned sustainable energy farm. There will be free 45-minute tours of the Westmill Wind & Solar Farm
at Watchfield, taking place on 18th July, 5th August, and 16th September at 3pm and on Saturday, 17th October at 11am. Places are limited so you will need to contact them by emailing wesetbookings@westmill . coop to reserve your free place. For more details visit www.weset.org
Windrush Innovation Centre, Howbery Park, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BA