How on earth have we got to August already? It doesn’t seem two minutes ago I was making pointless new year’s resolutions about jogging and abstinence. And now, suddenly, we find ourselves in the middle of summer. I am writing this having spent most of the weekend blowing up and filling up a paddling pool (with no outside tap this truly is a faff), only to discover the pool is punctured so having to traipse into town to buy a new one and start the whole process again. Still the sun is shining, and both the paddling pool and my glass are full. Long may all of this continue!
First off, don’t miss your chance to have your say on how Botley’s West Way and Elms Parade shopping area could be developed. The Vale of White Horse District Council is drawing up a planning document for this area which will contain guidance to assist any redevelopment and improvement work, and set out the type and scale of new development. People will be asked for their views and the plan will help potential developers understand the expectations of the community and council. Consultation was due to start at the end of July and will run throughout the summer holidays. Visit www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk
On to art and The Fishes pub in North Hinksey is once again playing host to the Summer Oxford Art Fair on Saturday 8th and Sunday, 9th August. More than 40 artists will transform the pub’s garden into an outdoor gallery filled with unique pieces of modern and contemporary art. Paintings, sculptures and ceramics, photographs, jewellery and even antiques will be on show, and visitors can talk to the artists. There will also be live music and entertainment over the weekend. The fair will be open 11am until 5pm on both days and is free to enter. For more information see www.theoxfordartfair.com
Over in Summertown and you’ve still got time to view the Turrill Sculpture Garden’s first exhibition by an international sculptor. The figurative and abstract work of Zimbabwean artist Tinei Mashaya, called Living Stone – Hidden Beauty, will be on show until Saturday, 15th August. The garden, behind Summertown Library on South Parade, is open from 9.30am until 5.30pm on Mondays and Fridays, from 9.30am until 7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 9am until 4.30pm on Saturdays. For further details see www.turrillsculpturegarden.org.uk
Staying in Summertown; a warm welcome, coffee and free Wi-Fi, are all provided at The North Oxford Association. The association has been providing a space for people to meet, and enjoy classes, activities and events for almost 50 years. The volunteer-run centre next to the Ferry Sports Centre is open from Monday to Friday, 10am until 4pm, and is a great place to enjoy a hot drink or a light snack with friends. The centre now has free Wi-Fi, and children are welcome. If you have any time to spare volunteers are needed to help out in the coffee bar, reception or garden, and the NOA news team is looking for writers. Pop in any day of the week or see www.northoxfordassociation.org
The North Wall Arts Centre in Summertown has unveiled the line-up for its autumn season. The varied programme features theatre, comedy, dance and music events including dark, satirical puppetry for adults, William Blake remixed by a beat-boxing world champion, and a dance-theatre adaptation of Milton’s Paradise Lost. Visit www.thenorthwall.com
Watching Shakespeare performed outdoors is a highlight of the summer in Oxford. Whether it is done by a student group in a college quad or a professional company, there is something special about seeing the Bard’s work put on in the great outdoors in the city of dreaming spires. This summer has seen the brand new Oxford Shakespeare Festival taking place at Oxford Castle. As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, and Titus Andronicus have already been staged, and the festival draws to a close with performances of The Comedy Of Errors in the castle yard Monday 3rd to Saturday, 15th August. Tickets are £15, or £13 for concessions, and can be booked at www.oxfordcastleunlocked.co.uk or call 01865 260666.
From a festival celebrating Shakespeare to one that promotes the benefits of ping pong. Yes, the annual table tennis festival, Ping! Oxford, is back in full swing, and runs until the end of August. It’s the third year the city has taken part in the national festival, which encourages people to have a go at the sport and get active during the summer. Last year saw more than 74,000 people of all ages and abilities across the city taking part. To find your nearest table, where you can pick up bats and balls and play for free, visit www.pingoxford.co.uk
And the Foodies Festival returns to Oxford’s South Park over the August bank holiday for its sixth consecutive year. The event, from Saturday 29th to Monday, 31st August will once again feature a feast of culinary treats from demonstrations by top chefs to a whole host of food, drink and produce to try and buy. For the full line-up and ticket information see www.foodiesfestival.com/oxford
Sports fans will surely flock to see the Rugby World Cup trophy when it visits Oxford at the end of the month. The Webb Ellis Trophy will be in Oxford’s South Park on Sunday, 23rd August, as part of the build-up to the tournament, which starts in September. From 10am members of the public will have the chance to have their photo taken with the trophy. There will also be a variety of rugby-related activities and the chance to meet representatives from local clubs. Visit www.rugbyworldcup.com/trophy-tour , or for more on the Oxford event, see www.oxonrugby2015.com or follow @oxonrugby2015 on Twitter.
As I write this the weather is lovely and warm, and (without wishing to tempt fate in any way), if this is still the case by the time you read this, you may want to cool down. Pop to Hinksey heated outdoor pool for a refreshing al fresco swim. The much-loved local landmark, which has been open since 1934, will remain open, weather permitting, until the end of October. It offers an area for lap swimming as well as space for family fun, and there is also a cafe on site. For full details, including opening times and prices, please see www.oxford.gov.uk/leisure
Oxford Castle Unlocked is offering kids free entry on weekdays this month. The incentive means children can enter for free when accompanied by a full-paying adult. It applies to online bookings only and excludes the weekends. For full details see www.oxfordcastleunlocked.co.uk
Monkeys, bears, socks and mud! Nick Cope sings about everything children are really interested in. Ex indie-rocker frontman of The Candyskins Nick performs at The Story Museum in Oxford’s Pembroke Street on Saturday, 22nd August from 10.30am until 11.30am. Visit www.storymuseum.org.uk or call 01865 305305.
Also on at Blenheim this month is a Festival of Transport. The event will start on Sunday, 30th August with a Classic Car Show and on Monday, 31st August the classic cars will be joined by motorcycles, minis and VWs, hot rods and American vehicles, plus kit and sports cars. The festival will run from 10am until 5.30pm on both days.
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 just five years old. The charity, which is raising funds so all children with brain tumours will have a better chance of survival and a better quality of life post-treatment, has signed up to Giveacar. The not-for-profit social enterprise encourages people to turn their old car into cash for their chosen charity. For each car scrapped the charity receives around £80. To support Blue Skye Thinking through Giveacar please visit www.giveacar.co.uk/charities/blue-skye-thinking
Money is being raised in memory of an Oxfordshire toddler. David and Hannah Cole’s son Oscar was 16 months old when he died last June from encephalitis. The couple from Kirtlington have since set up a charity, Thinking of Oscar, to raise funds to improve the quality of life for young children and their families whilst in hospital care through investment in medical and diagnostic technology. Sadly Oscar had to undergo a large number of blood tests and intravenous procedures, and because he was so young the doctors and nurses often found it hard to locate a vein viable enough to insert a cannula (a tube used to extract blood and inject medication) which was painful and distressing for him. One of the solutions the Coles came across in the wake of their son’s death was a non-invasive vein finding device AccuVein. Fundraising is under way to provide the Oxford Children’s Hospital with two AccuVein devices. Visit www.thinkingofoscar.com
And an Oxfordshire man, whose daughter has leukaemia, is appealing for people to register as potential blood stem cell donors. Arun Kumar and his wife Helen, from Wheatley, have launched the appeal to try to find a suitable donor for their daughter. Two-and-a-half-year-old Elsie was diagnosed with myeloid leukaemia in Down’s syndrome (MLDS) last October and went into remission following treatment. Unfortunately she relapsed in April, and now needs a blood stem cell donation to get better. Elsie, who is being treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital, is an only child so doesn’t have any siblings who could have a matching tissue-type and is therefore dependent on finding a matching donor amongst those who have registered to be on standby to donate blood stem cells. Her parents are appealing for people to register with Delete Blood Cancer UK to help find a match for Elsie and others like her. Visit www.deletebloodcancer.org.uk/en/a-match-for-elsie
Heads up (or should that be heads down?) for a 100-foot charity abseil at the John Radcliffe Hospital next month. The Oxford University Hospitals Trust event on Sunday, 20th September is raising money for head and neck cancer research, the Cancer and Haematology Day Treatment Unit and Outpatients Fund, The Silver Star Society, and Oxford Children’s Hospital. I have done one of these at the JR before, and found it a brilliantly terrifying experience. The abseils cost £20 to enter and details can be found at www.ouh.nhs.uk/charity/events/abseils
Just a quick word of warning of likely delays at Cutteslowe and Wolvercote roundabouts and their approach roads. Work was due to start late July on a raft of measures to increase capacity at these two major junctions. The work is expected to take up to 16 months to complete. For full details and the latest information see www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/A40roundabouts
We end with the great news that the Ashmolean Museum has raised the money to acquire Joseph Mallord William Turner’s painting of The High Street, Oxford. More than 800 people responded to a public appeal launched in June, sending in more than £60,000. Together with grant funding this has enabled the Ashmolean to reach its fundraising target in just four weeks. Over the summer, the painting will be on display in the museum, and 12 full-size reproductions will be installed in around the city.
Windrush Innovation Centre, Howbery Park, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BA