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!
In North Oxford, the popular Tea and Talks at St Margaret’s Institute on Polstead Road starts up again on Wednesday 7th. The series sees experts speaking on a range of topics of interest on the first Wednesday of the month from October to April. Each session runs from 1.30pm until 3.30pm with the talk starting at 1.45pm, followed by tea, cake and conversation. Visit www.smi-oxford.org.uk
And I’ve got yet more talks for you... with a lecture in Wolvercote about a leading local environmental learning charity. The Ashmolean Natural History Society of Oxfordshire will hear the talk called The Earth Trust: Working towards a Sustainable Future at the Old Schoolroom in the grounds of St Peter’s Church, First Turn, Wolvercote, on Tuesday 6th at 7.45pm, by Dr Kerry Lock, head of research and skills at The Earth Trust based at Little Wittenham, who will provide an overview of the charity’s aspirations and its evidence-based research approach to developing sustainable land management models. Admission £2 for visitors.
Learn about the history and ecology of Port Meadow at a talk being given to Wolvercote Local History Society on Wednesday 21st. The talk by Alison McDonald will follow the society’s annual general meeting, which will take place at Wolvercote Village Hall at 7.30pm.
Turrill Sculpture Garden in Summertown is playing host to an exhibition of work by members of the Bicester Sculpture Group. Their show, entitled Forming, is on until Halloween. The exhibition features a variety of figurative and abstract works in metal, bronze, resin, stone, ceramic and found objects. The artists are based at studio facilities in Bicester set up in 1998 in memory of the sculptor and teacher George Muller. The garden, behind Summertown Library on South Parade, is open 9.30am to 5.30pm Mondays and Fridays, 9.30am to 7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 9am until 4.30pm on Saturdays. For further details see www.turrillsculpturegarden.org.uk
Staying in Summertown, Oxford Photographic Society’s annual exhibition starts this month. The exhibition at The North Wall Arts Centre is designed to showcase the broad range of photography skills and interests that its members engage in. These include land and seascape photography, portrait, street, creative, documentary, sport, wildlife, studio and fine art photography. The exhibition will be open from Wednesday 28th until Saturday, 14th November in The North Wall Gallery, which is open Monday to Friday from 10am until 4pm, and from 12pm until 4pm on Saturdays.
Over at Blenheim Palace 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 several decades, in addition to significant, site-specific works, created especially for the palace. Within a Realm of Distance, the second exhibition by the Blenheim Art Foundation, will be on show until Monday, 21st December.
Trainers at the ready with not one but two opportunities to raise funds for great causes at Blenheim Palace this month. On Sunday 4th take part in a half marathon or 10km run around palace grounds in aid of the British Heart Foundation to help the charity’s research into heart disease. 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
The Oxford Half Marathon takes place on Sunday 11th. The 13.1-mile run starts at 10am and follows a new route that takes runners past Oxford’s best sights. Why not cheer on the runners, and see if you can spot the team from Helen and Douglas House, the event’s official local charity partner, being led by one of its most dedicated running supporters Ewan Gordon, who recently ran from John O’Groats to Lands End dressed as Forrest Gump. To find out more visit www.oxfordhalf.co.uk where you can also find a map to help you find the perfect vantage point.
Step out on Sunday 25th to raise funds to help find a cure and improve life for people affected by Parkinson’s. The sponsored walk, organised by Parkinson’s UK, 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.
Oxsrad is holding its popular annual craft and gift fair on Sunday 18th from 10.30am until 4pm at its centre at Court Place Farm, Marsh Lane, Marston. The event will feature a range of stalls selling lovely handmade items and gifts including soap, cards, jewellery, paperweights, card making materials, knitted items, sewn items, handmade handbags, painted glass and wooden items to name just a few. There will also be a cake stall, raffle and refreshments. The event is held to raise funds for improvements to the centre to ensure all users can continue to enjoy its facilities. Call event organiser Helen Wharton-Smith on 07866 651326.
With half-term looming at the end of the month, there’s plenty on all week at The Story Museum in Pembroke Street, including the chance to learn to dance like Dracula! Learn the zombie moves to Thriller or the Monster Mash at a workshop on Saturday 31st from 3pm led by choreographer Emma-Jane Greig. No prior experience is necessary but loose clothing is advised. Or why not dress up as your favourite Halloween character? The workshop is suitable for children aged seven and over, and all who take part are invited to stay for an optional Dracula Disco at 4pm. For more on this or other events, call 01865 790050 or see www.storymuseum.org.uk
If it’s spooky fun you’re after Oxford Castle Unlocked is surely the place to go. The visitor attraction’s Halloween festival, Ghost Fest, features ghost hunts, spooky tours, Terror Tuesdays and murder mystery evenings. There are ghost tours on the Saturday 10th, Friday 16th, Saturday 17th, Friday 30th and Saturday 31st, during which attempts will be made to summon the 15 spirits said to dwell in the castle boundaries. Terror Tuesdays, described as “an intense fright-night experience”, take place every Tuesday throughout the month at 7pm, while spooky tours run every Thursday at 6pm, 6.30pm, 7pm and 7.30pm. On top of this is a Victorian murder mystery evening on Friday 23rd, not to mention trick or treating evenings on Friday 30th and Saturday 31st, plus Sunday, 1st November. See www.oxfordcastleunlocked.co.uk for details of all events and prices, including a half-price child entry offer over half-term
Ever thought about giving folk dance a go? If so you’re in luck as the North Oxford Folk Dance Group is looking for new members to join its friendly group. They meet every Thursday at The Pavilion in Cutteslowe Park at 7.45pm and all ages are welcome. Instruction can be given and you do not need a partner. To find out more call Ann on 01865 552715.
Acclaimed ensemble Casa Margarita return to The Holywell Music Room on Saturday 10th with a performance of Spanish music, stories and song. The show, which features the music of renowned composers Granados, Rodrigo, de Falla, Torriba, Albeniz and others, starts at 7.30pm. Tickets t www.ticketsoxford.com or call 01865 305305.
Don’t miss out on the chance to have 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 being carried out by Oxfordshire County Council on its proposal to close some of its household waste recycling centres in a bid to save money. Visit www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/consultation or call 01865 816043.
This month sees the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of Cuba. To mark this and the end of the Cold War, two Oxford photographers will be joined by the Cuban photographer Juan Manuel Cruz del Cueto in an exhibition in the Barn Gallery at St John’s College, Oxford (OX1 3JP) from October 10th to 24th. The exhibition is open 10am-4pm daily and entry is free.
Windrush Innovation Centre, Howbery Park, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BA