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
Are you a morning person? I’ve been reading recently (in my quest to become better and better organised) about how the most successful people in various industries do their very best work and networking first thing, putting off menial, detail-heavy work until that post-lunch slump in the afternoon. So, earlybirds looking to network with other businesspeople will be glad to make a date for this one. On Friday, August 21st, 8.30-9.30am, head to the next 3FM Henley Business Partnership Breakfast Meeting at Strada in Bell Street (RG9 2BG). Here you’ll meet lots of like-minded business people in the community, and it’s well worth a visit.
Can I get a Rewind? Fans of ’80s music (and there are many, many out there – not just us oldies who remember and regret it from the first time around) are getting excited about Rewind Festival. This nostalgic funfest takes place on Temple Island Meadows, Henley, (RG9 3DD), August 21st-23rd. The line-up will include Billy Ocean, The Selecter, The Human League, Kim Wilde, Bananarama, Nik Kershaw, Midge Ure, Belinda Carlisle, T’Pau, Hot Chocolate, Joy Division’s Peter Hook and many, many more stars. There were still a few Sunday tickets left at the time of going to press. Call 0844 888991 or visit www.rewindfestival.com to buy and for more information.
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 in Wales to take part in a recent challenge event, 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 in the process so well worth every step.” To sponsor this gargantuan effort, visit www.justgiving.com/teams/Hedgestrekfest
Celebrate the best in local produce at Henley’s next Farmers’ Markets on Thursday, August 27th and Sunday, 30th, from 10.30am. In Market Place, you’ll find up to 25 stalls with a wide range of food, plants and flowers grown and produced within a close range of our doosteps, which is better for our environment, as well as our tastebuds. This event runs alongside the traditional town market.
Henley Regatta for the Disabled is also well worth a mention, now. 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 will run throughout the day on the specially adapted Rivertime, which has wheelchair access and a trophy will be presented to the overall winners of the dragon boat racing. The Dongola Challenge Cup was originally presented to Lt Col FC Ricardo in 1899 and will now find a new victor. 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.
Have you ever ventured to Russells Water? It really is a truly scrumptious setting and I’ll tell you why. The hamlet, about six miles north of Henley, boasts a large duck pond which was made famous when Sally Ann Howes drove Chitty Chitty Bang Bang into it. Russells Water is a beautiful setting, with a welcoming community and a village hall perfect for any occasion. Whether you want to set up an exercise class, book club, wine tasting group, host a party or simply use the hall as a meeting place to explore the Chilterns, look no further. Check Russells Water’s events page to find out when to join them for zumba, circuit training or head to quiz night! Visit www.russellswater.org.uk
Make a date for The Chilterns Craft & Design Show, which returns to the splendour of Stonor Park, near Henley (RG9 6HF), from the 28th – 31st August. The most prestigious craft show in the country, it’s a chance to discover beautiful pieces for the home including furniture and glassware as well as jewellery, luxury beauty products and leather goods. As well as browsing the crafts marquees, visitors can take part in demonstrations, workshops and relax in the beautiful grounds of the house and gardens. The Good Food Live area will feature farmhouse cheese, handmade chutneys and curry sauces, to nuts and seeds, fine wines and spirits and luxury chocolates. You’ll find live cookery, with mouth-watering recipes from chef Paul Da Costa Greaves. The Café Eatons Bar will be open each of the show days to offer visitors the chance to sit down, relax and enjoy restaurant quality food and drink Italian coffees, hand-made cakes, afternoon teas and a full bar with Champagne, Prosecco, Pimm’s, wines and beers on offer as well as a selection of food. Children’s fun includes face painting, bouncy castles and a children’s play area. Live music and craft workshops will also help to keep youngsters entertained. The Graduate Marquee by Informed Design brings a range of stunning work from newly qualified designers to snap up exquisite pieces at fantastic prices from the next ‘big names’. The Birds and Beasts Roadshow will feature live animals, creepy crawlies, reptiles and birds, the latter of which will be showcasing exciting Falconry Displays by The Hawking Centre. Buy tickets at www.ichfevents.co.uk or call 01425 277988.
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 Saturday, 20th October. “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.”
A big pat on the back to neighbours living in and around Stoke, by the way. They have raised more than £5,000 for two community defribillators. The devices are installed in the pavilion at Newlands Lane and the village hall in Main Street, and are accessible using a code which residents in need can get from the emergency services. The fundraising drive was organized by Jo Lowe with her neighbour Rita Gregory after the pair realised how far Stoke is from the ambulance station. The life-saving equipment was bought through the Millie’s Dream appeal launched two years ago by Sarah Roberts, who named the project after her daughter who has a heart and lung condition.
Now, from one Stoke to another: South Stoke Open Gardens and Church Flower Festival will take place on Bank Holiday Monday (31st August) from 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 at the recreation ground and church gate and all proceeds go to St Andrew’s church and village hall.
Have you ever been to the elegant and historic Phillis Court Club on the banks of the Thames? During August, non-members are invited to book lunch, dinner or afternoon tea at the venue’s Dining Room, Orangery, Loung or (when available), Riverside Pavilion. To book and find out more, call 01491 570500.
Film fans should make a date for Henley Film festival, which takes place from September 4th to 6th. The Shorts, screened at The Regal Picturehouse, are well worth seeing – featuring films officially selected from all around the world, including Alarm Clock Kid by local filmmaker Charlie Tod and Beachcomber, starring Larry Lamb. To book tickets, call 01491 578631 or 07974 793342. Also, visit www.henleyfringe.org to find out more.
An end-of-summer highlight not to be missed is, of course, the Henley Show. The event on Saturday, September 12th, from 9am-6pm at Henley Show Ground in Dairy Lane, Hambledon (RG9 3AS), is organised by the Henley & District Agricultural Association. This local charity is dedicated to promoting and improving agriculture, horticulture, breeding and rearing of livestock. The show will feature all the rural highlights including a ploughing match, sheepdog trial and more. Call 01491 410948 or visit www.thehenleyshow.co.uk
The River and Rowing Museum in Henley (RG9 1BF) is entering into the spirit of summer with a ‘Toad’s Ancient Egyptian Fete’. It’s all the fun of a traditional fete with an Egyptian twist. Meet Toad-ankhamun and try to hook a duck from the Nile. Dress up like an Egyptian in the fancy dress competition, and have a hieroglyph face paint! The event will be open from 10.30am to 4pm. For further details visit www.rrm.co.uk
Windrush Innovation Centre, Howbery Park, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BA