So, let’s start with a heartwarming mention to little Casey Marie Blake of Didcot who has behaved very well for a good cause and deserves praise. Casey, who’s six and a pupil at Stephen Freeman Community Primary School, let her mum Lucy cut off her waist-long tresses for a charity which helps make wigs for youngsters who have lost their hair through cancer treatment. The Little Princess Trust has helped thousands of young boys and girls since 2006 and young Casey was inspired to donate her locks after watching a YouTube video called Emily’s Hair. Now, I’m hoping my little tyke, whose hair is approaching Rapunzel lengths (but more tangled) might do the same at the end of the summer holidays. You need about seven inches of hair. Visit www.littleprincesses.org.uk or call 01432 363505.
Swimming is fantastic exercise, and very relaxing. But sharing a pool with dozens of families and their kids..? Not so much. With this in mind, The Didcot Swimming Club are calling for swimmers to get in touch about adults-only dips. There is a 40-minute adult swim session at the Didcot Wave Leisure Pool every Sunday evening and swimmers of every ability are welcome to join the fun. To find out more call Darren Baker on 07527 034926.
Show time! On Saturday, August 8th, from 12.30-5pm, Cholsey’s Big Annual Show will be back in the Whitehead Meadow, Church Road. This promises a full afternoon of family entertainment and hundreds of exhibits in the Grand Marquee. This year, visitors can enjoy Punch & Judy, The Goring Growlers’ Dog Agility display (plus “have a go”), Birds of Prey display, Cholsey Silver Band, vintage vehicles, Fire Engine, Bowl for the Pork, coconut shy and children’s games, tombola, big raffle, charity/trade stalls, plant stall and more. You should also arrive hungry – the show will boast the usual barbecue, bar, afternoon tea cafe and ice creams. If you’d like to enter something into the show (though time is short!), call 01491 652100 to request a schedule/entry form.
Sometimes the beauty on our very own doorstep can elude us. Exhibit A: The Ridgeway National Trail which ribbons its way through an area of outstanding natural beauty. Annette Venters of Chilterns Conservation Board was kind enough to invite me to a launch of The Ridgeway Partnership. This new body will involve a wide range of organisations representing users and other stakeholders alongside Natural England and the local authorities that manage The Ridgeway at present. The Ridgeway is an ancient path, widely recognised as England’s oldest road, dating back to the Neolithic Age. The central part of this route was designated as a National Trail in 1972, one of a family of 16 National Trails in England and Wales. The trail, which runs for 87 miles between Overton Hill in the Avebury World Heritage Site in Wiltshire and Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire, passes through ancient landscapes in our great outdoors, including open downland, secluded valleys, woodland and a stretch by The Thames. For half its length it runs along the spine of the Chiltern Hills, from Goring to Ivinghoe. To find out more, visit www.chilternsaonb.org
One group of generous souls who have helped The Footsteps Foundation are the staff from Hedges Law, which has branches in Wallingford and Oxford. Seven of the Hedges team travelled to the Brecon Beacons to take part in a TrekFest. Originally billed as 29 miles, managing director Nicola Poole explains: “It turned out to be 32 miles and was wonderful but truly brutal! I think we all had different parts of the walk when we felt we couldn’t go on but pulled each other through. We set off at 9.30am and the last one of our team crossed the finish at 10pm. Apart from a quick soaking as we waited to start, the weather was kind to us and the sun even shone! Everything hurts but we raised over £3,000 for Footsteps so well worth every step.” To sponsor this gargantuan effort, visit www.justgiving.com/teams/Hedgestrekfest
If you’re looking for an August Bank Holiday treat, make a date for the Didcot Hospital Summer Fete on Monday, August 31st, 1.30-4pm. At the Wantage Road site, find a raffle, hook-a-duck, face-painting and glitter tattoos, a brass band, bric-a-brac, tombola and refreshments including candyfloss and fresh doughnuts.
Enthusiastic and ambitious players are required to join Wallingford Hockey Club for the start of the 2015/16 season. Wallingford Hockey Club has five men’s and four ladies’ sides as well as its thriving junior section – one of the most admired academies in the country with more than 250 juniors. The men’s teams play from the Regional Division 1 to Division 9 of the MBBO leagues while the ladies play from the South League 3A to Division 5 of the TrySports leagues. The club is keen to hear from all players wishing to play at these levels, but particularly those in the local area who may wish to test themselves at a higher level than their current clubs can offer. Equally those who have to settle for a reserve role in a higher league team are encouraged to gain a starting role in WHC teams. Half-price subscriptions are available for all new members for 2015-16, so there has never been a better time for a new challenge with pre-season starting this month. Visit www.wallingfordhc.org.uk for more info.
Are you a fan of Stoke Row market? I am. Any excuse to visit this idyllic village is worthwhile as far as I’m concerned, and if that means a spot of lunch at The Crooked Billet while I’m there… Anyway, I digress. The Nuffield Church Fundraising Committee have written to us to announce that they have reluctantly decided to close the market during summer, so that means the August and September events will not be happening. The next Stoke Row market date is 17th October. The organisers add: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have supported us over the past 20 months - both stallholders and buyers. We hope to see you all back in October and look forward to seeing old friends again. We wish you all a wonderful summer.”
Now, from one Stoke to another: South Stoke Open Gardens and Church Flower Festival will take place on Bank Holiday Monday (31st August), 1pm till 6pm. At this great community event, find WI tea and cakes served in the village hall and Perch and Pike pub offering lunches. Visitors can enjoy free parking in the recreation ground with the community village shop selling plants and children will be kept busy with ice creams and fun. Admission is £5 for adults, with children going free (includes entry to all gardens and church flower festival). Tickets are available at the recreation ground and church gate and all proceeds go to St Andrew’s church and village hall.
Upton Fete is rolling around and we’re happy to share details of the community gem. The event is set to take place at St Mary’s Church Fete, Upton, (off the A417 between Blewbury and Harwell) on Saturday, 5th September, at 2pm on Upton Recreation Ground. Visitors can enjoy highlights including a brass band, birds of prey, vintage vehicles, white elephant, books, plants, preserves, cakes, tombola, sideshows, a raffle and teas and there’s an adventure playground to keep children busy. For more information, call Jessie West on 01235 850126.
Have you been to the lovely Dorchester Abbey Tearoom, which has its home in the guest house in the grounds of the abbey? It was established almost 40 years ago and is still going strong. It is run by volunteers with all proceeds going to abbey charities. All cakes, scones and jams are homemade by the tearoom’s small team of helpers and the tea and coffee are Fairtrade. The prices are modest (tea gets cheaper the more you drink!) and you can sit inside or outside in the courtyard. You can make the most this local highlight up until the last weekend in September: Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays 2.30-5pm, Wednesdays 3-5pm. You’ll be sure of a warm welcome!
Perhaps you attended the Music At St Peter’s concert at St Peter’s Church, Wallingford, on 1st August? The celebrated Sacconi String Quartet paid their 15th visit to St Peter’s with works by Haydn and Mozart and a quartet by Jonathan Dove which he describes as ‘a serenade for someone I never met’, which sounds impossibly romantic. On Saturday 22nd August, the eminent counter-tenor James Bowman with his accompanist Andrew Plant will give a recital of English songs from the 18th the 20th centuries. Concerts start at 8pm. Tickets are £12 in advance or £14 on the door – you can get them in advance from Just Trading at 17 St Mary’s Street, Wallingford, or by post. You can find full details on the new website www.musicatstpeterswallingford.org.uk or, for a fully detailed brochure with a ticket order form, call Laurence Attewill on 01865 343336.
Harwell Gardeners’ Club will hold a garden fete on the lawns of Harwell Rectory on Saturday, August 8th, 2-4pm. There is free entry for this, so pop by to browse the stalls run by village organisations, buy some plants for your garden, have a cup of tea and a cake and relax in a beautiful setting. If you would like to see the bells in the tower of St Matthew’s Church or see the view from the very top, the tower will be open. Harwell Young Singers will entertain you in the church during the afternoon. Another highlight not to be missed is the Human Fruit Machine! Proceed will go to Didcot Hospital Garden and Harwell Gardeners’ Club.
Students and graduates in Wallingford are asked to share their inspirational university tales. The University of Surrey is searching for stories and photos that show the most inspirational moments of university life, be it a proud shot of your award-winning project or the moment a guest speaker helped you to realise your dream career path. Whether it’s making lifelong friends, meeting your future spouse or taking part in an event that will go down in history, they want to hear about it! So, if you’re a university graduate or current student in Wallingford with a wonderful photo and inspirational tale to tell, get involved for a chance to win a hot air balloon flight, survival and bushcraft weekend or half-day cookery course at the Raymond Blanc Cookery School. Simply share your photo with the University of Surrey by visiting www.surrey.ac.uk/photo-competition/ and uploading it with a caption. The entrant with the most inspirational photo and story will receive their chosen prize. Dr David Ashton, vice-president and registrar of the University of Surrey, said: “We see how people across our campus grow during their time at university, not only academically but also socially. “With these experiences come memories and we want those in Wallingford to share theirs with us and show prospective students what university is all about.”
On Sunday, 9th August, Reading Outdoor Group is organising a 12-mile day walk from Ipsden back to Reading. If you are interested in finding out more, get in touch at www.readingoutdoorgroup.org.uk or call the membership secretary on 0118 9616506. Reading Outdoor Group is a long-established outdoor activity group that welcomes new members of all ages from the surrounding areas. Events are arranged and led by members and the range of activities is varied including walking, cycling, weekends away and social events.
We included an article in our July issue for the fantastic local garden firm Muddy Brilliant and now, however, have a clarification to make. The Muddy Brilliant team are headed up by parents-of two-Helen and her husband Ken, along with their colleague Richard Smith, and aided by a small, dedicated team of gardeners, each of whom have many years’ experience. Helen’s dad – David Wear – founded Wear’s Nursery in Brightwell cum Sotwell (though has now retired). As well as advice for the green-fingered and non-gardening alike, Muddy Brilliant can install artificial lawns; an ideal choice for parents and dog owners, especially, who are looking for a maintenance-free option. Call the team on 0843 8862212.
Now to Wallingford & District Art Club. There is no demonstration in August but members are reminded there is a Painting Day on Saturday, 15th August. Untutored painting evenings continue as usual 7.30–9.30pm every Tuesday at Centre 70, to which anyone is cordially invited.
Benson Weir is a step closer helping provide some green energy. Benson Parish Council has given £2,000 to the village’s hydro project to get things moving. This is one of the oldest locks on the Thames, which can be traced back to the 14th century. The project would involve the installation of two Archimedes screws, which – it is estimated – would generate 100kw of electricity. The machines are usually used for transferring water from a low-lying body of water into irrigation ditches. A water abstraction licence from the Environment Agency would be required before the project could begin. The group has established that there is only one viable site for the hydro facility — on land adjacent to Preston Crowmarsh Mill that belongs to the agency, which has agreed the preparatory work should continue. Watch this space!
Are you aware of the work by Re-Vitalise, which runs regular weekend yoga retreats at Braziers Park in Ipsden? If you’re looking to stretch yourself with a retreat organized by the same lovely people, Re-Vitalise are organising a six-night Holy Isle Tai Chi, Meditation and Yoga Retreat, which runs from September 24th-30th. This takes place off the coast of Arran in the Firth of Clyde. The island has a long sacred history with an ancient healing spring. Don’t miss this once-a-year opportunity to join this truly remarkable experience. Call 0800 0191 635 or visit www.re-vitalise.co.uk/braziers to find out more about yoga, tai chi and retreats to help you get centred.
Are you au fait with Twitter? How about a camera? Entry is now open for the Ashmolean’s #MyOxfordView Photography Competition. Organisers want to know what your personal view of Oxford looks like. Capture it on camera and share it with on social media to be in with a chance of winning a variety of prizes, and for your image to go on display at the Ashmolean Museum later this year. JMW Turner’s painting High Street, Oxford (1810) is currently on display in the Ashmolean’s Welcome Space. Capture any view of Oxford using your camera or smartphone to participate. Competition entries must be submitted via Twitter, Instagram or Flickr using the hashtag #MyOxfordView by Monday, 17th August.
Blewfest is back for its fifth year on Saturday, 12th September, 12.30-9pm on the school playing field, Westbrook Street, Blewbury. Organisers hope it will be the biggest and best yet with two stages of live music, real ale and cider, a ‘Posh Pimm’s & Fizz’ bar, family-friendly activities and a daytime barbecue followed by a chilli supper. Free entry – for more details see www.facebook.com/blewfest
Another September date for your diary, now. Ewelme C of E Primary School will be hosting their last afternoon of tea and cakes on Sunday, 13th September. Head along to enjoy homemade cakes and teas from 2.30pm to 5pm. All proceeds will be donated to the school.
Is all looking rosy in your garden? Wallingford Gardening Club’s summer garden visits are well under way. Isabelle Darby has been in touch to say that, on 11th June, the club had a splendid visit to Oxford college gardens, led by Dr Stephen Head (“It was comprehensive, inspiring, amusing and the sun shone!”) followed by the annual garden party on 9th July, by kind permission of Mary Dunn at Brightwell. On Thursday, 13th August, at 6.30pm, the club will return for a visit to ‘Hearn’s House’ at Gallowstree Common, RG4 9DE. And mark Thursday, 3rd September (6pm), in the diary, too, when the club will visit ‘Home Close’ at Southend, Garsington (OX44 9DH). All visitors welcome. For further details, call 01491 836867. Talks at Ridgeway Community Centre will resume on 8th October.
Do you have pets? I said no to this repeated request, in spite of my daughter’s puppy dog eyes, for ages, until caving in and getting two (now three; long story) naughty male kittens. Pets can be hard work, so I’m offering this to you, as it might tug on your heart strings: the Oxfordshire branch of the RSPCA needs fosterers for cats and kittens! This independent branch in Abingdon, which is run by volunteers, have been in touch with us about the animals in their care, which frequently rescued from distressing situations where they may have been neglected, abandoned, or mistreated. If you can help by offering a temporary, caring home for a few weeks while the team search for a permanent loving home with new adopters, you will be supplied with everything you need and reimbursed with all out-of-pocket expenses, as well as doing a very rewarding thing. Call Rosemary on 01865 821749 or 07887 475403 if you think you can help.
Style Acre, the wonderful charity that supports people with learning disabilities is a neighbour of us here at Round & About on the idyllic Howbery Park. The Style Acre team are holding a fantastic, unique fundraising event – Getting To Know You – on Monday, September 7th. From 12noon until 2.30pm, special guests Dame Steve Shirley and John Craven OBE will quiz each other on their lives and life lessons, followed by a two-course lunch at Harris Manchester College in Mansfield Road (OX1 3TD). The exceptional Steve arrived in the UK in July 1939 as a five-year-old unaccompanied Kindertransport Jewish child refugee. In the 1960s, she smashed the glass ceiling by setting up her own software business. Since her retirement, she has spent her considerable energy giving back to society, especially with projects in the field of autism. Her son, who died following an epileptic seizure at the age of 35, had Asperger’s syndrome and Shirley was inspired to set up research charity Autistica and is a major supporter of The Oxford Internet Institute. Tickets for this event are £46. To book a place, call Philippa on 01491 827591.
Now to another neighbour of ours here on Howbery Park! Starbuck & James offer architecture, interiors and design services and a quick browse of their projects will show you some truly lustworthy homes! However, they are also a firm all about giving back to the community. With this in mind, they offer a ‘brainstorming’ service, which, for a small, fixed fee, allows you a few hours of architectural creativity to help you clarify your options and realise the potential of your property. Starbuck & James donate 10% of their fee to Oxford Homeless Pathways (OxHoP). “These guys do a fantastic job providing support and services to the homeless population of our county,” says Oliver Margison of the firm. ”We feel honoured to be working with those who already have homes and we want to be part of something that gives back to those who are struggling to find a home.” Learn more about the brainstorming service by visiting www.starbuckandjames.co.uk/brainstorming or call 01865 600559.
St Giles Jazz starts its series in a spectacular way on September 26th. The great legendary saxophonist Art Themen, Stan Tracey’s favourite sax man (and incidentally, a distinguished orthopaedic surgeon!) will perform, accompanied by brilliant quartet 3bpm. On October 10th, St Giles will host a return visit of world-famous jazz diva Jacqui Dankworth, daughter of Dame Cleo Laine and the late Sir John Dankworth. Jacqui will appear with her Butterfly Quartet, consisting of genius composer pianist David Gordon (familiar to St Giles’ audiences), alongside famous violinist/composer Chris Garrick, and Ben Davies on cello, making for an unusual and magical sound spectrum for jazz. For more details about this and lots more musical delights for an excellent cause, call 01865 514575.
Henley Regatta for the Disabled is worth a mention. The sixth annual disabled event will be held at Phyllis Court Club on Saturday, September 5th, from 10am-4pm. This will include a climbing wall, Punch & Judy show, pony rides, trade stands, inflatables, an interactive zoo, live music, food and a bar. Free leisure trips run throughout the day on the Rivertime, which has wheelchair access and a trophy will be presented to the overall winners of the dragon boat racing. Tickets for the regatta are £5, with carers going free. For more information, visit www.regattaforthedisabled.org for information and details of how to donate to the cause or volunteer as a marshal or promoter. Or call Carolyn on 01491 635332.
This year’s Summer Reading Challenge encourages children to read six or more books from the library over the holidays, is run with Guinness World Records and has a record breakers theme. Aimed at children aged four to 11, it is run in libraries across Oxfordshire and is free. There will also be fun activities, storytime and craft.
A mum from Oxford is encouraging people to turn their old car into cash to raise money for the charity her family started after her son was diagnosed with brain cancer. Sally and Andrew Hall founded Blue Skye Thinking last July in response to their four-year-old son Skye being diagnosed with medulloblastoma, an aggressive and cancerous brain tumour. Sadly, on 29th August, 2014, Skye died peacefully at home aged five. The charity, which is raising funds so that all children diagnosed with brain tumours will have a better chance of survival and a better quality of life post-treatment, has signed up to Giveacar to assist with its fundraising. The not-for-profit social enterprise encourages people to turn their old car into cash for charity. Visit www.giveacar.co.uk/charities/blue-skye-thinking
Windrush Innovation Centre, Howbery Park, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BA