Usually, this time of year sees me defiantly still wearing sandals and refusing to wear a jacket in a desperate bid to cling on to the last remnants of summer. Maybe it’s my age, but this year I’m embracing autumn, and all its associated cosiness, and have welcomed back my winter boots, scarves and jumpers like long-lost friends. For me this month is all about lovely weekend walks, cottage pies, soups and crumbles, and mindless Saturday night television. What’s not to love? Oh, and as it is my birthday month I have a valid excuse for eating cake and drinking wine. Happy days indeed!
Stop press... and don’t miss your chance to get some top-quality baby and children’s clothes and equipment at bargain prices straight from their loving owners at Witney NCT’s next nearly new sale. It will be held on Saturday 3rd at Langdale Hall and will be open for pregnant ladies and NCT members from 10.30am and for everyone else from 11am. Entry costs £1 in aid of the NCT.
On Thursday 1st a talk on jazz and the influence of Irving Berlin being given to Witney U3A by Nick Gill. On Thursday 15th Gillie McNeil will talk to the group about Serge Diaghilev and the Ballets Russe from 1909-29, the company and its cultural impact on 20th century design, choreography, music and art. Both meetings at the High Street Methodist Church start at 2pm. Visit www.witneyu3a.org.uk or call 01993 779168.
Take a step further back in time at a talk called The Salt Way from the Iron Age on Tuesday 6th. Dr Janice Kinory will give the lecture to North Leigh History Society at the village’s Memorial Hal in Park Road at 7.30pm. Call 01993 882301.
Witney Museum and Historical Society’s next talk on Tuesday 20th will be an update on the Mary Rose, given by Steve Griffiths. The meeting will be held in the Wesley Room of the High Street Methodist Church, Witney, starting at 7.30pm. All are welcome.
On to local history, and an exhibition of one man’s investigations into the mystery of the castle at Bampton which has all but disappeared is on at the Vesey Room, Bampton Library. Bampton Recapturing The Castle is the work of artist Matthew Rice. The exhibition shows what has been worked out so far and ideas about what the castle might have looked like in its brief heyday 700 years ago. The free exhibition is on until 1st November and is free, open 10.30am-12.30pm & 2-4pm Mon–Sat, 2-4pm on Sundays.
An exhibition designed to make you rethink and reuse your rubbish in innovative ways is on in Woodstock until the end of the month. Everything in the Treasure From Trash collection at The Oxfordshire Museum was once something else. Waste paper, metal, glass, textiles and rubber have been made into sustainable, useful and often beautiful objects. The exhibition runs until 1st November and admission is free.
Continuing with waste, don’t miss out on having your say on plans to reduce the number of rubbish tips in the county. Monday 5th is the deadline for comments in the public consultation by Oxfordshire County Council on its proposal to close some of its household waste recycling centres in a bid to save money. To view the proposals in full and to make your views known, see www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/consultation or call 01865 816043.
Trainers at the ready with two opportunities to raise funds for great causes at Blenheim Palace this month. On Sunday 4th you can take part in a half marathon or 10km run around palace grounds in aid of the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to help the charity’s research into heart disease. Two weeks later, on Sunday 18th, the Rotary Club of Woodstock and Kidlington are organising 10km and 5km runs to raise funds for UCARE, the Urology Cancer Research and Education charity, which works to improve the treatment and care of cancer patients through research and education. Visit www.bhf.org.uk/blenheim or for the rotary club run see www.rotary-ribi.org/clubs/homepage.php?ClubID=1569
Step out around Oxford on Sunday 25th to rhelp find a cure and improve life for people affected by Parkinson’s. The Parkinson’s UK sponsored walk begins at 9.30am at The Cherwell School, Marston Ferry Road, with 1.3, four or eight-mile routes on offer. Visit www.parkinsons.org.uk or call 0207 9639367.
What could be better than a stroll in the countryside this autumn. The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens will lead a number of walks this month including a 3.5-mile one around Blenheim Palace on Tuesday 13th, starting from the Combe Lodge, in Park Road. The walk starts at 2pm and should take two hours. Meanwhile, The Spendlove Centre in Charlbury will be the starting point for a nine-mile walk around historic Wychwood Forest on Halloween. The walk, which starts at 10am on Saturday 31st will take in Cornbury Park, Finstock, Chilson and Shorthampton. It is free to join the walks, although donations would be welcome. For more details of these and other warden-led walks see www.escapetothecotswolds.org.uk/walking/guided-walks or call 01451 862000.
Keeping things autumnal and Cogges Manor Farm is celebrating apples on Saturday 10th. We’re talking tasting, pressing and toffee apple and crumble making, not to mention apple-themed crafts and activities. Apple Day takes place from 11am until 4pm. Don’t forget to take your own apples along to have a go at pressing them, or for help identifying what variety they are.
With half-term looming, The Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock has fun for the kids. Sessions include craft activities for children of all ages, 2-4pm on Tuesday and Thursday, £2 per child, and stories, songs and crafts for under fives, from 10.30am on Tuesday, which cost £1.50 per family. Visit www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/oxfordshiremuseum or call 01993 811456.
Blenheim Palace has a spooky week of fun to entertain your little ghouls during half-term. From Saturday 24th through till Sunday, 1st November you can hop on board the ghost train and be taken through a creepy tunnel to the Pleasure Gardens where a cackle of witchy goings-on are to be found, including a pumpkin trail, pumpkin-carving, Halloween-themed crafts and storytelling sessions. There will also be spooky tours running throughout the week with a special candlelit tour at 5pm on Friday 30th. For full details, or to book on to the candlelit tour, see www.blenheimpalace.com or call 01993 810530.
Also at Blenheim is a new exhibition showcasing the work of American artist and founding figure of conceptual art, Lawrence Weiner. The exhibition, which opens on Saturday 10th, will feature works conceived by the influential artist over the last decades, in addition to significant, site-specific works, created for the palace. Within a Realm of Distance, the second exhibition by the Blenheim Art Foundation, on show until 21st December.
Members of West Oxon Decorative and Fine Arts Society will hear a talk called Pomp and Grandeur: The Gardens of the Stuart Court on Thursday 8th. The lecture, by James Bolton, is at Witney’s Methodist Church at 7.30pm. Visitors are welcome at a cost of £6.
Medieval wall painting in Oxfordshire is the topic of a lecture at The Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock on Wednesday 7th. Meg Haynes Latham will give the talk, organised the Friends of The Oxfordshire Museum, at 7.30pm, which will cost £2 for visitors. On Saturday 24th, the museum will host a Woodstock Literature Society lecture on Evelyn Waugh and the secrets of Brideshead. This talk will take place at 3pm, will be given by renowned biographer Paula Byrne, and will cost visitors £6 to attend.
Cotswold Decorative and Fine Arts Society’s lecture this month is entitled Rag-dolls to Robots: A World History of Toys. The talk, on Wednesday 14th, is being delivered by Chloe Sayer. Chloe is a fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, the author of numerous books and has worked on a number of television documentaries for Channel 4 and the BBC. The lecture will take place at Bradwell Village Hall, near Burford, at 11am with coffee and tea available from 10.15am. Non-members welcome for suggested donation of £8. www.cotswolddfas.org.uk
If you are interested in art, give the Buttercross Art Society a try! The group meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 7.30pm in the Bethany Room, Wesley Centre, behind Witney’s High Street Methodist Church. Visitors are welcome. For more details call 01993 834853.
Moving on to Christmas – and if you’re starting to think about present shopping, I’ve got the very event for you. Back by popular request is the Christmas bazaar and craft market on Sunday 25th at North Leigh War Memorial Hall. The event will run from 10am until 4pm and will include many arts and craft stalls, and refreshments will be available. It will cost 50p for adults and children can enter for free. For more information call 07879 653011.
On the subject of Christmas, we can bring you news that Witney’s festive lights will be turned on at an event on Friday, 27th November. This year, for the first time, the event will be run by Witney’s Lions, Rotary and Round Table clubs. It will take place from 5.30pm until 8pm in the Market Place. Full details will follow next month!
Colourful illuminations can be viewed at Fairytale Farm near Chipping Norton. The visitor attraction will be lighting up its enchanted walk gardens every Saturday and Sunday this month and every week night during half-term, staying open until two hours after dusk or 9pm, whichever is earliest. Evening admission is £2 for adults and £1.75 for children (from 5pm onwards). www.fairytalefarm.co.uk
Back in Witney, Base 33 a charity that provides support to vulnerable young people, is holding a fundraising concert. The event will be held on Tuesday 20th at the Congregational Church, Welch Way and artists appearing will be Base and Harmony – a choir formed by Base 33’s own young people Becki Reed and Cotswold Voices Choir. A stew and bread supper will be provided. Tickets £10 – call 01993 881154.
Witney Music Society’s first concert of the new season on Friday 9th. The society, which organises six live classical music concerts on the second Friday of each month, is this year celebrating its golden anniversary with some special concerts. This month’s at Wood Green School features Witney-born Martin Jones, one of Britain’s most highly regarded solo pianists. The concert will start at 7.30pm. Visit www.witneymusicsociety.org.uk
Take in a lunchtime recital in Witney on Thursday 29th. Emily White, Annabel Molyneaux, Peter Cowdrey and Paul Molyneaux will perform Voices of the Angels at the High Street Methodist Church, starting at 12.30pm lasting an hour. It is free to attend and you can arrive at any time.
And if you live on Madley Park you can find out what the residents’ association has been working on over the last year at its annual general meeting on Wednesday 28th. The meeting is at Madley Park Hall from 6.30pm.
Witney Horticultural Society holds its annual general meeting on Wednesday 28th at 7.30pm at the Methodist Church in Witney.
Witney Quakers hold an open evening on Thursday 8th. The theme of the evening, in the Bethany Room in the Wesley Centre at the rear of Witney’s High Street Methodist Church is called From Stillness to Action: A Quaker Approach to the Challenges of Today. It will run from 7.30pm until 9pm, and refreshments will be served.
Have a great month!
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