Are you frazzled? Even though October is supposed to be the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness, sometimes keeping up with the frantic pace of life wears us out! It was fantastic to speak to Ruby Wax for our Talking Point interview in this issue. Her words of sanity have helped me to keep a bit more mindful and reassess my priorities so that my much-needed energy is not frittered away on worrying. Since my daughter broke her leg (poor brave girl!) and I’ve had several important life deadlines looming, this little bit of mental hygiene has really helped me stay positive. I hope you enjoy Ruby’s book (and show) as much as I did, as well as this edition. Wishing all our readers a wondrous harvest of downtime, be it Half Term Fun, Halloween preparations or one of Lyn D’s delicious apple puds...
First up, Sustainable Wallingford Swap Shop, which takes place on Saturday 3rd October in the Regal Centre from 9.45am to 11.30am. As usual, it is free to everyone; an opportunity to pass on unwanted items to a good home, and/or pick up something useful, instead of adding to the waste problem (no clothes, shoes or paint, though, please, readers!). Items for swapping must be brought by 10.30am. For large items, bring a photo or description to display. You can swap small portable electrical items after testing to show that they work (they must have a “CE” mark); no TVs or computers. Fluorescent light tubes, low energy light bulbs, CDs, video/audio cassettes and mobile phones can be collected for recycling. A great, green, local event to save your pennies… and the planet.
Following sell-out runs and tours over the last few years of The Manifesto, comedian Mark Thomas is back. Mark will be bringing his now 2015 total sell-out Fringe show Trespass to the Didcot Cornerstone on Friday 2nd October, asking the question: “If the ramblers of the 1930s were here now, what would they do to open up the cities? How do we turn the skyscrapers and corporate squares into our playgrounds?” Inspired by the mass trespass of Kinder Scout in 1932, Mark turns his eye to how the government have sold off the majority of our communal spaces, from playing fields to public rights of way, setting out to try and carve a small space in the urban world where mischief and random chance can lurk. To book tickets, call 01235 515144.
After a summer of wonderful garden visits, Wallingford Gardening Club is returning to Ridgeway Community Church for the winter programme of talks. At the club’s October meeting, Geoff Hawkins will give a practical talk on pruning. Geoff worked as head gardener at the Mill Court private estate in Hampshire, and retired from there after 35 years. As a head gardener he ran the small estate of 30 acres working in greenhouses, vegetable and fruit gardens, herbaceous and shrub borders as well as looking after the trees, ponds and natural features on the estate, so you’ll be in good pruning hands! The talk will be held at Ridgeway Community Church, Wallingford at 7.30pm on Thursday 8th October. Visitors are very welcome – £2.
Oxfordshire writer and historian Tony Hadland returns to The Wallingford Historical and Archaeological Society with a further talk; “What my DNA test told me!” After years of wondering whether it was worthwhile, Tony took a comprehensive DNA test. His aim was to prove (or disprove) a family tradition that his great-grandmother, Mildred Gill, was of Spanish descent. The test confirmed a cover-up going back several generations, but also threw up fascinating information about his Oxfordshire agricultural labourer ancestors, possibly linking them to the spread of agriculture from the Fertile Crescent. Tony is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors; a historian specialising in local, family, recusant and cycle history; honorary president of the Moulton Bicycle Club; and chairman of the Oxfordshire Local History Association. He has made numerous appearances on radio, particularly in recent years on BBC Radio Oxford, and has also appeared in documentary films and on regional TV. This talk will be held on Friday 9th October, 7.45 for 8pm, at Wallingford Town Hall. Visitors (£3) are most welcome. www.twhas.org.uk
Following the success of a Wallingford folk evening last year, the same Oxfordshire bands will return to the town for a repeat performance to aid two charities. Tickets go on sale early this month for the evening with the acclaimed Three Pressed Men supported by the popular musical family group, The Fensoms. The long-established Three Pressed Men, who play a variety of instruments including accordions, will perform at Wallingford Methodist Church at 7.30pm on Friday October 9th. The Fensoms, mother, father and daughter, have a more modern take with some of their folk repertoire. Refreshments will be served during the interval (included in the £10 ticket price). Proceeds from the event will be split between two charities being supported by the church, a clean water project in Uganda and Response, a mental health charity. Tickets are available from the Wallingford town information office or by calling 01491 836649.
On Friday 9th October, the Wantage Wildlife, History & Archaeology Group will meet in The Beacon, (Civic Hall) Portway, Wantage at 7.30pm. The talk this month is entitled Archaeological Adventures in South India by Dr Wendy Morrison. Wendy will talk about unearthing evidence for production and trade at Pattanam, Kerala. Visitors welcome (£3.50). Call 01235 751646 or 764258.
A date for your diary: Saturday 10th October. This is when a Voices for Hospices event in aid of Sobell House Hospice Charity will take place. Steventon Choral Society will be supporting this worthy cause by presenting A Gala Evening at 7.30pm in Steventon Village. Tickets are £10 (accompanied children go free) to include interval refreshments. Buy tickets by calling Trish Napper on 01235 848292, or Caroline Miller on 01235 834015 or pop in to buy from Steventon Post Office.
Have you heard of Synergy, the local variety group based in Didcot? Synergy perform for local groups and charities as and when required for a very small fee (to cover insurance, costumes and equipment). New members are always welcomed and they are available to perform for anyone wishing to raise funds in the Oxfordshire, Berkshire area. Synergy perform Musical Magic at Didcot’s Northbourne Centre on 10th October. The variety show will include songs from Hollywood, musical magic, comedy and much more. Tickets are £6 and doors open at 7pm for 7.30pm and you can buy them from the Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary, the Broadway, Didcot (opposite Barclays Bank) or by calling Leslie on 07903 887272.
Autumn brings many mellow delights, and Apple Day is most certainly one of them worth bobbing along to! Brightwell cum Sotwell will celebrate the British fruit on Sunday, October 11th, with a giant apple display made up of more than 70 different heritage varieties of apple presented in the traditional exhibition style. These are apples you might never have heard of and will never see in supermarkets. In the Pop-up Food Market you can taste and buy more than 10 varieties of apple including Ashmead’s Kernel, Lord Lambourne, Ingrid Marie, Spartan, Laxton’s Superb, Ellison’s Orange and Blenheim Orange. You can watch apple juice being made and taste the juice as it flows from the press. Try each combination and see which flavour you prefer! Why not bring some of your own apples to press? The delicious autumn produce includes jams and chutneys made from village fruit as well as honey from village bees; cake tasting is always very popular. Children can have fun bobbing for apples and have a go at other apple games as well as help to make juice. Apple Day starts at 11am and lunches at The Red Lion will be served noon-2.30pm – to book call 01491 837373.
Fancy a regular swim in an adults-only swimming session? Didcot Swimming Club have a 40-minute adult swim session at the Didcot Wave Leisure Pool every Sunday evening and welcome swimmers of any ability. Call Hannah on 07965 659795 for more info.
The RSPB Vale of White Horse Local Group will meet in Didcot Civic Hall on Monday 19th October 2015 at 7.45pm. The illustrated talk this month is entitled Costa Rica, Central Americas’ Best Kept Secret by Steve Lovell. Steve will explore the birders’ paradise of Costa Rica and take visitors to places few have been! Although a new speaker, he is well known on the circuit and comes highly recommended. Visitors are welcome (£3). The outing this month will be on 11th October to Titchfield Haven in Hants, which is a wetland nature reserve with varied habitats including river, marshland and scrapes. The coach will leave Didcot Civic Hall at 8am. For more information contact Steve Bastow on 07900 213698 or visit www.rspb-vwh.org.uk
Calling all mums, dads, grandparents, godparents – whoever is looking to buy something special for the little people in their life. Hickory Dickory Shop is an exciting new event organised by local mum Susie Barber and it sells brand new quality items for kids from producers across Oxfordshire. The event is on Sunday, 25th October, 2-4pm, at the Regal Centre in Wallingford. (9 St Martin’s Street, OX10 ODP). There will be more than 20 stalls of gorgeous clothes, fun toys, stunning artwork, beautiful home decor for playrooms, fancy dress outfits, books, sweet treats and lots more. Entry is £1 and kids go free. (Please note some stalls don’t accept card payments, so bring cash). The Regal Centre is pram and pushchair-friendly and baby changing is available. For more updates, visit www.facebook.com/HickoryDickoryShopPopUp
Sinodun Players’ autumn production will be Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard performed at the Corn Exchange, Wallingford from October 14th to 17th at 7.45pm. Director Ric Harley has chosen to use Tom Stoppard’s 2009 translation of this classic comedy drama set amid the turmoil of social change in early 20th century Russia. Tickets are £10 from www.cornexchange.org.uk or call 01491 825000.
Who hasn’t been left cursing about their broadband at some point? The Better Broadband for Oxfordshire project aims to bring fibre broadband to over 90% of homes and businesses in the county by the end of this year. A collaboration between Oxfordshire County Council, BT and BDUK, it is hoped to bring this pretty part of the world into 21st century broadband speeds, which is a relief. It is timely, then to pass on a word of caution from Citizens’ Advice Bureau about flashy broadband deals. “Price promises made by broadband providers are misleading customers and costing them up to six times more than advertisements imply,” say the CA, which analysed advertisements from the six main providers and found deals touted as free during the probation period cost internet users anything from £20 to £45 per month. Before taking out a new contract and being tempted by ‘teaser’ deals, customers are advised to ask their supplier for the average monthly cost over the full contract period. For further help on any problems stemming from misleading broadband deals, call Adviceline on 03444 111444 or drop in to your nearest Citizens’ Advice Bureau. For opening hours, see www.caox.org.uk
Hanney Royal British Legion proudly present UPTOWN TRAFFIC, a ‘60s and ‘70s Rock ‘n’ Soul Band and featuring brass instruments, guitars and drums. This will be on Saturday 24th October from 8.30pm at Mill Orchard, East Hanney. Entry is £5 at the door.
If you glanced at last month’s issue, you’ll know the huge admiration I have for the Women’s Institute, which celebrates its centenary this year. On this note, East & West Hendred meet at Snell’s Hall, East Hendred on October 15th at 7.30pm. Entertainment will be provided by Peter Wentworth, a magician from Faringdon. For more details call Anne Pagett on 01235 797405.
Now, in amid this season of spirits, here’s a spiritual one! The Karenza Spiritual Network hold monthly demonstrations of mediumship in Cholsey and donate all profits to charity. Since March 2014 the team have been able to donate £1,571 to various charities voted for by attendees.The network will hold An Evening of Mediumship with Donna Stewart at Cholsey Pavilion in Station Road on Saturday, 17th October, at 7.30pm. Donna has toured extensively with Colin Fry and Tony Stockwell as a guest on their live theatre shows and has ‘reunited’ thousands of people with their loved ones on the spirit side of life. Entry is £8 on the door and all profits from this evening are to be donated to the Crisis At Christmas appeal. Intrigued? Visit www.karenzanet.co.uk
We know our readers love craft and so I’d like to tell you about a craft and gift fair on Sunday, 18th October. At Court Place Farm in Marsh Lane, Marston, (OX3 0NQ) Oxsrad holding their annual event is held to raise funds for improvements to the community centre. From 10.30am to 4pm, pop by to buy handmade items and gifts including soap, cards, jewellery, paperweights, card-making materials, knitted items, sewn items, handmade handbags, painted glass, wooden items and more, including refreshments and a raffle. For any more information, contact Helen Wharton-Smith, Oxsrad’s craft and gift fair organiser, on 07866 651326.
We’d like to congratulate Andrew Baker of Didcot who, in case you’ve missed previous mentions of his valiant efforts, set up Play2Give charity in 2007. Play2Give raises many thousands each year for local charities, primarily the Oxford Children’s Hospital. Respect to Sainsbury’s Didcot, and its customers, who donated the record sum of £4,300 over the course of 12 months leading up to July. Well done all! For more on Andrew’s efforts and how to help, visit www.play2give.org.uk
South Oxfordshire Archaeology Group are holding a series of lectures through the autumn and winter worth sharing. The lectures are held generally on the last Thursday of the month at Goring Heath Parish Hall, Whitchurch Hill and start at 7.45pm. The next lecture is on Thursday, October 22nd, by Dr Alex Smith (University of Reading), titled New Light on the Romano-British Countryside: Current results of the Roman Rural Settlement Project. Non-members are welcome. For details of future lectures, visit www.soagarch.org.uk
The most recent research on Wallingford’s history will be made public at this sixth conference organised by The Wallingford Historical and Archaeological Society. This conference is called Castles of the Thames Valley and takes place on Saturday, October 24th, in conjunction with Wallingford Museum. The last eight years have seen major advances in understanding the importance of Wallingford’s role as a royal Saxon and Medieval stronghold. TWHAS has undertaken new documentary research, as well as being actively involved in the Burh to Borough Project, led by the Universities of Leicester, Exeter and Oxford, including taking over completion of the project’s Urban Test Pitting programme. A new publication with the latest research will be available at the conference: Wallingford: the Castle and Town in Context. The latest documentary work has finally revealed Wallingford Castle in its rightful place among the great royal castles of the Thames Valley, so TWHAS are delighted to have brought together a group of eminent speakers, each of whom has been involved in new research concerning these significant royal strongholds. The conference will be held at the Methodist Church Centre in St Leonard’s Square, Wallingford, from 9.45am to 5pm. For anyone wishing to visit the site of Wallingford Castle there will be a brief guided tour led by Judy Dewey. The event’s cost is £30 per person, including a buffet lunch, and refreshments during the day. Advance booking is essential – booking forms are available from Wallingford Museum. You can also visit www.twhas.org.uk
As the nights draw in, getting cosy with a really good film appeals more and more! Didcot Film Club meet monthly at Cornerstone Didcot at 8pm. Annual membership costs just £5 a year. On Wednesday, October 28th, the club will watch Life Is Beautiful, directed by Roberto Benigni. This heartwarming, moving tale manages to infuse goodwill, humour and imagination into the horrors of the Holocaust and is well worth seeing. November’s film (on 25th) will be On The Waterfront. Search for Didcot Film Club on Facebook and/ or visit www.didcotfilmclub.org.uk or call 01235 515144
Now, amid all the Halloween fun, here’s a thoroughly wholesome event for your diary. The Wallingford branch of Save the Children will hold their autumn fair on Saturday, October 31st, 10am-4pm. All money raised will help vulnerable children and visitors will find many stalls catering for all tastes and pockets, a chance to shop early for Christmas for goods of high quality, variety and design. A wide range of Save the Children Christmas cards, wrapping paper, tags etc. will be on sale. There will be a home-made cake stall with a huge variety to tickle your taste buds and a chance to try your luck at the raffle. Coffee, tea and cakes will be available and you’re invited to arrive early to enjoy the fun and give your support to the valuable work of this charity. Entry is £3. For more details, call Sue Lovegrove on 01491 200558.
I love hearing about readers who give so much time and energy to local causes close to their hearts. Hazel Pattison’s inventive knitted tortoises (see this issue for more on this and the story behind it) will be on sale at a charity craft fair in Benson Parish Hall, 10.30am-4pm on Saturday 31st October, where you’ll also find cards, cakes, greetings cards, wood-turning and more goodies.
Building work if progressing well for the first phase of a new equine hospital facility at Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary in Brightwell Cum Sotwell. The purpose-built hospital comprising of a treatment and convalescent area, two holding pens and a veterinary and staff hygiene area will provide facilities for essential veterinary treatment, in a warm, sterile environment.
The start of the sanctuary’s project was, however, tinged with sadness after the sudden passing of one of its main fundraisers, Keith Lawrence. Keith, who lived in Grove with his wife Heather, was regularly seen at the sanctuary manning his Equine Hospital stall. He also helped run fun dog shows with his daughters Jackie and Michelle. Judy Gibbons, chair of trustees said: “We were all very shocked and saddened to hear of Keith’s passing. He had been instrumental in getting the project off the ground. Everyone at the sanctuary, staff and fellow volunteers, extend our sincere condolences to Heather and the family.” To donate to the appeal, call 01491 833938 or visit www.donkeyrescue.org.uk
On Remembrance Sunday, November 8th, Wallingford Parish Church Choir will sing Faure’s Requiem at 6.30 pm in St. Leonard’s Church, Wallingford. The choir will be directed by Sue Huntingford-Ledger and accompanied on the organ by Gaby Clements. As this will be an Act of Worship there will of course be no ticket required and all are welcome. This evocative piece is sure to provide a fitting end to Remembrance Day.
And finally, a huge thank you to the youngsters who entered the World Map competition in our September education special! We had more than 100 entries, which will make a lovely map of all the comments from children in our January education follow-up. One entry came from Hugo, aged three, who lives in Brightwell and would most like to visit... “Africa because they have lions, giraffes and hedgehogs!”” We like your style, Hugo, and hope you enjoy your prize (and our hedgehog special)! Thank you everyone who entered – what a lovely response.
Windrush Innovation Centre, Howbery Park, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BA