September is with us with it that dreaded back-to-school feeling. That sinking sensation of counting down the last few days of freedom that I had when I was younger has returned now I’m a mum. And, while I’m sure this will soon be tempered by the peace, quiet and tidiness of a child-free house, at the moment I am wishing we could have the last six weeks all over again. On the topic of education, we hope you enjoy our eight-page Education special in this issue. And, at least I can console myself with the fact that it will be Christmas before we know it. I know this is true because I’ve received my first festive Rambling...
We start this time with a couple of events coming up in the first week of the month. Royal Ballet dancers and world-class jugglers will share the stage at the Oxford Playhouse for a collaboration that promises “pulsing rhythms, jaw-dropping choreography and a good dose of humour”. 4x4 Ephemeral Architectures visits the Beaumont Street theatre on Wednesday 2nd coming direct from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Tickets start at £11.50 and are available by calling 01865 305305 or online at www.oxfordplayhouse.com
Award-winning journalist and author Peter Taylor OBE is giving a special lecture in Oxford on Tuesday 1st in aid of the Thames Valley British Red Cross. The lecture entitled Terrorism from the IRA to Al Qaeda and ISIL will be given at Corpus Christi College on Merton Street. Wine and canapes will be served from 6.30pm with the lecture at 7pm. Tickets cost £20 and can be booked online at www.redcross.org.uk or call 01865 552680.
Staying with talks, and the 1,748th meeting of the Ashmolean Natural History Society of Oxfordshire takes place on Tuesday 8th at 7.45pm. This month’s talk will be by Dr Pascale Nicolet and is called Million Ponds Project: Successes and Lessons Learnt from Monitoring New Ponds. Dr Nicolet, who has worked with the Freshwater Habitats Trust since 1999 as an ecologist, is the national co-ordinator of the Million Ponds Project and the Secretary of the European Pond Conservation Network (EPCN). The meeting will be held in The Old School Room, in the grounds of St Peter’s Church, First Turn, Upper Wolvercote. It will cost non-members £2 to attend.
Celebrated mountaineers will gather in Oxford to mark the 40th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest via its notorious South West Face by a British team. The event at the Sheldonian Theatre on Wednesday 23rd will feature a talk by the 1975 expedition leader Sir Chris Bonington, who will be joined by Doug Scott CBE, Pertemba Sherpa, Paul ‘Tut’ Braithwaite, Mike Thompson and Dr Charlie Clarke. The talk, which starts at 7pm, is in aid of Community Action Nepal and will support communities affected by the recent earthquakes. Tickets are available online via www.canepal.org.uk or from Elmer Cotton Sports in Turl Street, Oxford.
Five beautiful gardens in beautiful Boars Hill offering, yes, you’ve guessed it, beautiful views over Oxford will be opening up their gates to the public on Sunday 13th. Herbaceous borders, mature trees, ponds, and a range of colourful plants and flowers are among the delights that will be on display. The gardens will be open from 2pm until 5.30pm as part of the National Gardens Scheme. It will cost £5 for adults to get into all five gardens and children can enter for free. Homemade teas will be available. For more information see www.ngs.org.uk
For an afternoon of bee-themed fun for all the family head to Botley on Saturday 26th. St Frideswide’s Church on Botley Road is staging a Bee-Friendly Festival between 2pm and 5pm as part of its work with other local groups and Friends of the Earth to improve the environment for bees. The festival, which will serve as a launch event for projects in West Oxford, will feature workshops, information, afternoon tea, fun and games. On Sunday 27th the church will hold a 10.30am service celebrating God in creation to round off its bee-themed weekend.
From bees to bikes and there will be even more of them than normal in Oxford on Sunday 13th as Bike Oxford returns. More than 1,000 cyclists are set to take part in the event which features rides of 25, 50 and 80 miles, all of which start and finish at The Cherwell School playing fields on Marston Ferry Road before heading out into the surrounding countryside. To enter see www.bikeoxford.co.uk
Summertown’s North Wall Arts Centre gets back into the swing this month after the summer break. The centre at St Edward’s School, North Oxford, starts off with We Want You To Watch by RashDash, commissioned by the National Theatre, on Friday 18th and Saturday 19th. On Wednesday 23rd, Curtis Productions and Theatre By The Lake bring The Bogus Woman to the South Parade theatre. Last up this month is a family production, Chicken Licken by Dynamic New Animation. This month’s art exhibition at the North Wall is Jonathan Shapley’s What Kind Of A Place Is This? For full details of all events or to book, go to www.thenorthwall.com or call 01865 319450.
Jazz at St Giles is all set for a third season, starting on Saturday 26th with a concert featuring legendary sax star Art Themen and jazz trio 3bpm. The performance will take place at St Giles’ Church at 7.30pm and tickets, which cost £15 or £13 for concessions, will be available on the door. The autumn programme will see fortnightly concerts through until December featuring a range of top-class jazz musicians. Proceeds from each concert will support St Giles’ work with the homeless and charities helping children in war-torn countries throughout the world. For further information call 01865 514575.
Families can fall down the rabbit hole in North Oxford as acclaimed professional theatre company Creation presents Alice in the gardens of St Hugh’s College. To mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Creation has set loose the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts in a new adaptation for Alice fans young and old, adding magic, music, puppetry and acrobatics to one of Oxford’s most famous stories. It runs until Sunday 13th. For information or to book see www.creationtheatre.co.uk or call 01865 766266.
Over in Woodstock, Blenheim Palace is staging its first Festival of Literature, Film and Music. Previously ‘just’ a literary festival, this year’s event will be the first to combine (as the name suggests) literature, film and music. The festival takes place between Thursday 24th and Sunday 27th. Highlights include Turkish Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, who will be launching his first new novel in six years, and Dr Maki Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s eldest daughter, who will discuss the life, legacy and art of her father. From the world of music, Alfred Brendel, one of the greatest pianists of all time, and Andrew Gant, the former organist, choirmaster and composer at Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal from 2000 to 2012, will be guest artists. Max Mosley, the former head of world motorsport, and Paul Gambaccini, who presented on BBC Radio 1 for 16 years, will also appear to speak about their new books. Visit www.blenheimpalaceliteraryfestival.com
And if you are heading to Blenheim, you can view Winston Churchill’s Woodward guns, now on display in the newly curated Churchill exhibition. The guns, never seen before, offer a look at Victorian master craftsmanship and an insight into young Churchill. The pair of Woodward Under & Over guns are thought to have been a 25th birthday present to Churchill from his grandfather, the 10th Duke of Marlborough. They will be on display at the palace until it closes for the season on Sunday, 20th December.
Can you go the distance to fight heart disease in Oxfordshire? The British Heart Foundation is holding its annual half marathon and 10km races at Blenheim Palace on Sunday, 4th October. Both routes start in front of the palace before winding through the estate. The event also offers a 2km family fun run finishing in front of the palace alongside the 10km and half marathon runners. Call 0845 130 8663 or visit www.bhf.org.uk/Blenheim
Oxford’s Sobell House Hospice is appealing for people to take part in an autumn walk at Farmoor Reservoir. The five-and-a-half-mile walk on Sunday 27th costs £10 to enter and all money raised will help the hospice to continue its work providing palliative and end-of-life care to the residents of Oxfordshire. To sign up either complete an application form at www.sobellhospicecharity.org.uk or call 01865 857007.
Or join an eight-mile culture crawl on Friday 11th in aid of Maggie’s Oxford. Walkers will head out into the city by night on a route steeped in history, art and culture, enjoying exclusive access to some amazing buildings, including Oxford Castle Unlocked and Christ Church Cathedral. It costs £25 to take part and all walkers are asked to raise £100 for Maggie’s Oxford, which offers practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer, their families and friends. Visit www.maggiescentres.org/culturecrawl
Why not catch up with some friends over a cuppa in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support? The charity is asking for people to host a coffee morning in aid of its work. All you need to do is invite some friends, and ask them to make a donation for the coffee and cake you serve. This year the official coffee morning date is Friday 25th but you can hold yours on whatever date is most convenient for you and your guests. For full details and to sign up for a free coffee morning kit see www.coffee.macmillan.org.uk
Volunteers are also needed to provide temporary homes for cats and kittens who have been neglected, abandoned, or mistreated. The Oxfordshire branch of the RSPCA is appealing for foster carers to look after rescued cats and kittens for a few weeks while the charity searches for a permanent home with new adopters. The fosterer will be supplied with everything they need and reimbursed for all out-of-pocket expenses. To find out more call Rosemary on 01865 821749 or 07887 475403.
Experience Oxfordshire has launched a new guidebook for Oxford, and what’s more it is now available in seven languages. The Quick Guide to Oxford is now on sale in English, German, Japanese, Chinese, French, Spanish and Russian. All guides are priced at £1.95 and are available from the city’s Visitor Information Centre.
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