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. On Tuesday 1st North Leigh History Group is meeting for a talk about the Swing Riots in the 1830s given by Shaun Morley. The meeting will take place at North Leigh Memorial Hall at 7.30pm and all are welcome. It will cost visitors £4 to attend, or membership of the society is £18 which gives free entrance to all its talks. For further details call Diana Power on 01993 880368.
Don’t forget the Wychwood Forest Fair on Sunday 6th. The fair, which celebrates all things rural, offers a wide range of entertainment, rural craft demonstrations, music and food. This year the fair takes place at Lodge Farm, Ditchley Estate (between Charlbury and Woodstock off the B4437). Proceeds raised will help support the Wychwood Project’s local wildlife and landscape conservation work. To find out more about the project or the fair see www.wychwoodproject.org
Next up and there’s a couple of not-to-missed opportunities to show off the results of all that hard work in the garden. The annual Hailey Village Show will be held on Saturday 5th in the Village Hall. There will be a range of classes including flowers, fruit and vegetables as well as cookery, photography, floral arrangements and categories for children. All are welcome to enter. There will also be bric-a-brac and other stalls at the show, which starts at 2pm. See www.haileywestoxon.org for a schedule of classes or for more details call 01993 899125.
A week later and Witney Horticultural Society will hold its autumn flower and vegetable show on Saturday 12th. The show will take place in the Lower Hall of Witney’s Methodist Church. There will be a produce stall, and coffee and cakes served from 10am and ploughman’s lunches from 11.30am. Viewing of the show starts at noon and entrance will cost 50p. And on Wednesday 23rd the society will hear a talk from Timothy Walker, retired director of the Oxford Botanic Gardens, on Being a 21st Century Gardener. The talk will also take place in the Methodist Church at 7.30pm. All are welcome. It will cost members £1 and visitors £3 to attend, and this includes tea or coffee.
Still on horticulture, and you can enjoy a look round the walled garden and vineyard at Bridewell Organic Gardens at Wilcote which is hosting a community afternoon on Thursday 10th. The event will run from 2pm until 4pm, and refreshments and plants will be on sale. Admission is £3 and free for children. For further information call 01993 864530.
Meanwhile learn all about the history of kitchen and walled gardens at Cogges Manor Farm this month. Dr Julie Charlesworth, a volunteer gardener at the National Trust’s Chastleton House, and a university lecturer, speaker and writer on historic gardens, will lead Kitchen Gardens Pot to Plate – Past and Present on Sunday 27th from 11am until 2pm. It will cost £20 or £18 for concessions, book at www.cogges.org.uk or in person at Cogges.
Also at Cogges on Sunday 27th is the chance to swap your unwanted items for lovely new things for free at an autumn swap shop. The event, being organised with Sustainable Witney, will run from 10am. Goods, which can include books, clothes, jewellery, CDs and DVDs, toys and games, unwanted gifts, and electrical items, can be dropped off from 9am. It is free to attend.
The Carterton Lions monthly car boot sale takes place on Saturday 26th on the Recreation Ground, Alvescot Road, Carterton from 9am until 12.30pm. Stall holders can set up from 8am and pitches cost £6 for a single, or £12 for double and trade. Entry to the fair is free. For more information call 01993 772241.
Staying in Carterton, Colin Davies, a police community support officer based in the town, has been named Oxfordshire’s PCSO of the Year. Colin received the Thames Valley Police Community Policing Award following nominations from members of the public and partners commending him for his great work in his three neighbourhoods of Carterton, Bampton and Burford. Feedback from the community also highlighted his constant visibility, knowledge of the area and how he goes the extra mile to reassure and support victims of crime. He was also praised for his work building excellent relations and trust with the traveller community site in his area.
The Cotswold Decorative and Fine Arts Society will hear a lecture on 500 Years of Portraiture by Sarah Kelly on Wednesday 9th. The lecture will focus on a range of portraits, some by the famous, some by less well-known artists, spanning 500 years of Western European painting. It will take place at Bradwell Village Hall, near Burford, and will start at 11am. Non-members are welcome and will be asked to make a suggested donation of £8. For more information see www.cotswolddfas.org.uk
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. For full details see 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 been seen before, offer a look at Victorian master craftsmanship and an insight into the 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. To register either 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 for a much less strenuous way of raising funds for a good cause, you can 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
Back to Witney and it’s time again for one of the town’s much-loved events - the Witney Feast fun fair! The annual Feast of St Mary, which dates back to 1243, will be celebrated on Monday 14th and Tuesday 15th on The Leys, behind St Mary’s Church.
A local mum living in the village of Stonesfield has launched a food website for toddlers - which she describes as Come Dine With Me toddler style! Claire Cattanach, the woman behind Taster Tots, says her new site is all about getting toddlers to try new foods by getting them together and involved in food. For more details, including recipes and tips, see www.taster-tots.com
A successful sports programme created in 2014 for young people with disabilities or behavioural difficulties is being expanded across West Oxfordshire as it enters its second year. Since the launch of the district council’s Inclusive Sports Opportunities (ISO) project nearly 280 young people aged 14 to 25 with a special educational need or disability have taken part in activities ranging from basketball, dance and football to tag rugby, boccia and climbing. For more information about the inclusive activities in West Oxfordshire, see www.westoxon.gov.uk/residents/leisure
In case you haven’t tried it yet – the new cafe at the Windrush Leisure Centre has opened. The cafe, which is under the new management of the Yellow Submarine charity, has had a makeover with new décor, new furniture and a revamped serving counter. It also has a new menu including homemade food and barista-served coffee. The cafe is being run as a social enterprise to provide opportunities for young people with learning disabilities in Oxfordshire to gain work experience. The charity already operates a successful café and hub in Park End Street in Oxford. The Witney cafe was officially opened earlier in the summer by David Cameron, Prime Minister and Witney MP.
Moving to music, and the Brize Singers are giving their annual concert at Witney’s High Street Methodist Church on Friday 25th. The concert will also feature Yarnton Brass Band for an Evening of Voices and Brass. It will start at 7.30pm and tickets will cost £6 each. The Singers are also giving a concert earlier in the month, on Saturday 5th, at Southmoor Village Hall, at 7.30pm.
Windrush Innovation Centre, Howbery Park, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BA