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!
It’s carnival time in Witney! The fun on Saturday, 11th July starts with a nautical-themed carnival parade, which will leave The Leys recreation ground at around 10.30am and make its way through the town centre before returning to The Leys at about 12.30pm. There will then be an afternoon of entertainment on the recreation ground, with attractions including a static display of military vehicles and a Spitfire displayed by the Spitfire Club from Enstone Airfield. David Alexander, the travelling Victorian musical hall entertainer, will be attending, as will Pedro the circus entertainer, who will be teaching circus tricks to the children. There will be a dog show, an annual donkey derby, with donkey rides for the children, and youngsters will also be able to help bottle feed young lambs and goats from Farmer Gow’s. There will also be music entertainment throughout the afternoon and local charity and craft stalls. The annual event is organised jointly by The Witney Rotary Club, Witney Lions, Witney Round Table and Witney Air Training Corps, with profits from the day divided between the four groups and distributed to deserving causes through the year.
And while we’re on the subject of carnivals, just a reminder that Eynsham’s is on Saturday, 4th July. Festivities kick off with the shirt race and queen’s parade at 12.15pm, followed by a craft fair and plenty of family fun all afternoon on the Queen Elizabeth Playing Fields off Oxford Road. For further information see www.eynshamcarnival.com , and tickets can be bought at the playing field gates.
Now the idea of an evening sampling beer and cider at Cogges Manor Farm sounds pretty appealing. The beer and cider festival on Friday, 31st July and Saturday, 1st August will showcase more than 30 speciality beers and ciders from a range of local breweries. There will also be a summer bar with wine, Pimm’s and lemonade, and food stalls as well as live music co-hosted by Witney’s Glovebox and Rapture. The event for over-18s runs from 6.30pm until 11pm and will be raising funds for Cogges Heritage Trust. Tickets cost £8 in advance or £10 on the door, and include a half pint of beer or cider. They are available from Cogges or Rapture, or online at www.cogges.org.uk
If you’ve had your fill of current day politics recently, maybe those of medieval Britain will make a pleasant change. Gloucestershire’s acclaimed Festival Players will be performing a spirited adaptation taken from Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 at Cogges Manor Farm on Wednesday, 15th July. The historical drama brings to life the humanity, the politics, the battles, and the humour of this period in a colourful two-hour production, performed by an all-male company. Doors open from 6pm and the performance starts at 7pm. Tickets are £12.50 for adults and £8.50 for under-16s and from Cogges or at www.cogges.org.uk
A performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream will take place in the grounds of The Old Swan and Minster Mill in Old Minster. The performance will be given by The HandleBards – a four-strong, all-male company who are touring the UK on their bikes carrying all the necessary set, props and costumes for their performances. The group, who also use their bikes to power various surprises and contraptions on stage, will be performing at The Old Swan on Tuesday, 7th July at 7.30pm. Tickets are available online at www.eventbrite.co.uk
Witney Theatre Company’s second production will see it perform Accidental Death of an Anarchist. It will be staged from Thursday 9th to Sunday, 12th July at The Corn Exchange with shows starting at 8pm. The company was set up to provide top quality professional theatre to the residents of Witney at affordable prices. From the crew, to the cast, to the director, it only uses local, professional talent. Tickets cost £12, or £10 for concessions, and they are available from Rapture and Witney Town Council offices.
A Safer West Oxfordshire community day will be held in Witney’s Market Square, on Tuesday, 14th July. The event offers a one-stop-shop of free advice and information on topics including local policing, cold callers and doorstep crime, recycling and green issues, youth services and housing association support as well as drug and alcohol support services. The event will run from 10am until 2pm. See www.facebook.com/saferwestoxon to find out more.
And Thames Valley Police will be security marking bikes and scooters at Madley Park Hall in Witney on Friday, 31st July. They will be offering the free service from 11am until 2pm.
Witney Horticultural Society will be holding a sweet pea and rose show at the Lower Hall, Methodist Church in Witney on Saturday, 4th July. There will be coffee and cakes, with a produce stall running from 10am, and ploughman’s lunches served from 11.30am before the show opens for viewing at midday. Entrance will cost 50p. There will be a prize-giving ceremony at 3.30pm. For details of categories and entries please contact Eady on 01993 779749.
Take a look round Bridewell Organic Gardens at its next open afternoon on Sunday, 19th July. The walled garden and vineyard at Wilcote will be open to the public from 2pm until 5pm. Plants and refreshments as well as Bridewell organic wine and produce will be on sale. Admission will be £3 and free for children. Call 01993 868313 or see www.bridewellorganicgardens.co.uk
Conservationist Mark Avery will give a talk to Witney U3A on Thursday, 2nd July. Mr Avery, who was the RSPB’s conservation director for 13 years, will talk about his new book, A Message from Martha, which looks at the extinction of the North American carrier pigeon. Witney U3A organises a programme of talks and runs a range of self-teaching interest groups for anyone who is no longer in full-time employment. For full details see www.witneyu3a.org.uk
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 of stag beetles. 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.
Moving to Blenheim Palace, where 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 Huchtenberg, is on loan from the Churchill family and will be on display until December.
This month also sees two firm 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. Later in the month, 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. For further details see www.blenheimpalace.com
Talking spectacular events, the Royal International Air Tattoo – billed as the world’s greatest airshow – takes place at RAF Fairford from Friday 17th to Sunday, 19th July. As well as plenty of flying action with fast jets, giant transporters and historic aircraft all taking part, visitors can also meet the crews, get close to the aircraft and enjoy a feast of first class entertainment on the showground. For full details see www.airtattoo.com
Freshcakes, snacks and light meals, will soon be on the menu at the Windrush Leisure Centre cafe. The Yellow Submarine charity, which provides opportunities for young people with learning disabilities in Oxfordshire, is set to take over the management of the leisure centre cafe. It will be run by some of the adults that it works with, giving them the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and new skills. As well as a new menu, the cafe will undergo a makeover, with new furniture and a revamped serving counter. It will be run as a social enterprise by Yellow Submarine, which already operates a successful cafe in Park End Street, Oxford.
Carterton Lions are holding their next car boot sale on Saturday, 25th July at the Recreation Ground, Alvescot Road, Carterton. Entry is free and the sale will run from 9am until 12.30pm with sellers able to set up from 8am. Pitches cost £6 for a single and £12 for double and trade. Please call 01993 772241 to find out more.
Young volunteers are sought to help with this year’s summer reading challenge at libraries. The challenge, which encourages children to read six books over the 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.
Oxfordshire Play Association is holding a couple of play and activity days locally. The first is in Carterton Market Square on Saturday, 18th July and the second will be held at the Marlborough School Playing Field in Woodstock on Wednesday, 29th July. Both free events will run from 11am until 3pm. Call the Oxfordshire Play Association on 01865 779474 or see www.oxonplay.org.uk
Staying in Woodstock, John Forster, an archivist at Blenheim Palace, will give a lecture at the next meeting of the Friends of the Oxfordshire Museum on Wednesday, 1st July. The talk will take place at the museum at 7.30pm and will cost visitors £2 to attend. See www.FriendsOfTom.co.uk or call 01993 811456.
Oxford’s vOx chamber choir will be performing Bach’s B Minor Mass in Witney on Sunday, 5th July. The concert will take place at St Mary’s Church, Church Green at 7.30pm. Tickets are available in advance from www.wegottickets.com/vOxChamberChoir
Charlbury’s Riverside Festival returns. The free music festival will see more than 30 acts playing across two stages on Saturday, 25th July from midday until 10pm and Sunday, 26th July from 11am until 8pm.
Fans of family-friendly Cotswold festivals might also want to head to Cornbury Music Festival. With an eclectic mix of music across four stages, there is comedy, children’s activities, gourmet caterers, of arts and crafts stalls, a fairground and a therapy and massage zone plus Disco Shed. The festival runs from 10th to 12th July in Great Tew Park. See www.cornburyfestival.com
Another fab festival that’s well worth a visit. Chef Jamie Oliver and Alex James, a former member of Blur, will again stage The Big Feastival at Alex’s farm at Kingham between Friday 28th and Sunday, 30th August. Foodie highlights include appearances by Raymond Blanc, Ashley Palmer-Watts, Nathan Outlaw, Monica Galetti, and Gennaro Contaldo. Music includes Paloma Faith and Groove Armada. See www.jamieoliver.com/thebigfeastival
And lastly, the next Wychwood Forest Fair will be held on Sunday, 6th September. The popular annual event, which is moved around, this year takes place at Lodge Farm on the Ditchley Estate, between Charlbury and Woodstock off the B4437. Celebrating all things rural, it raises funds for the wildlife and landscape conservation work of The Wychwood Project. See www.wychwoodproject.org
Windrush Innovation Centre, Howbery Park, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BA