I’m starting to think November is the new December... Back in the day, the Christmas festivities didn’t get into full swing until the first chocolate from the advent calendar had been wolfed down. Now, as this month’s Ramblings will testify, it seems the run-up starts as soon as the Guy Fawkes Night bonfires have gone out. Talking of getting ahead of ourselves, I couldn’t believe Valentine’s Day cards were on sale in my local shop the other day. Now, I like to plan ahead, but surely that’s going too far? In case I forget, Happy Easter!
We start off with a few events coming up early in the month. And if you want to know how make colour work for you, then you should pop along to Radley WI’s meeting on Thursday 5th. Kate Dyer will be speaking on the subject at the open meeting, which starts at 7.30pm at Radley Village Hall.
Moving to an event for the youngsters. A festival-themed storytelling and craft session for primary and pre-schoolers is being held at St Helen’s Church on West St Helen Street on Saturday 7th. It will include folk tales and Bible stories about festivals and other celebrations followed by crafts. It runs from 10.30am until midday, is free and there is no need to book. An added bonus – teas and lovely cakes will be available.
Remember, remember the 5th of November! And if you’re looking for an organised event to head to this Bonfire Night, The Friends of Pangbourne Primary School’s annual fireworks fiesta sounds like a good one, featuring a bonfire, barbeque, chocolate tombola, West Berkshire beer, mulled wine and hot drinks. It’s on Saturday 7th at the school on Kennedy Drive. Gates open at 5.30pm. Tickets for adults and children of 12 or over are £7.50 in advance or £10 on the gate, but under-11s go free. Family tickets are £30 for up to five people. They can be purchased online at www.fopps.co.uk or in selected shops in Pangbourne.
If you’re male and like to sing, Oxford Harmony wants to hear from you! The welcoming, enthusiastic group, which sings in styles ranging from barbershop to modern ballads and everything in between, rehearses at Cumnor Old School Hall on Wednesdays at 7.45pm. Visit www.oxfordharmony.co.uk or call Mike on 01235 831352.
Staying with music and The Didcot Divas and Wantage Male Voice Choir are joining forces for a fundraising concert in Abingdon on Saturday 28th. The concert will take place at Trinity Church at 7pm with all proceeds being donated to the Oxfordshire Branch of the Alzheimer’s Society. For more details call Jeff on 01235 868327.
Sutton Courtenay’s All Saints’ Singers will be giving their advent concert on Sunday 22nd. The programme will include performances of Missa Sancti Nicolai by Haydn, together with three Mozart pieces Regina Coeli, Tantum Ergo and Te Deum. The concert, which will be led by music director Alexander Berry, will take place at All Saints’ Church at 7.30pm. Tickets are £12 and are available from Burgreys Stores in Sutton Courtenay, the Bookstore in Abingdon’s Bury Street Precinct or call 01235 848205, 01235 848997 or 01235 522978.
If you want to feel the blues, you’d best head to Abingdon Royal British Legion on Spring Road on Saturday 21st from 8.30pm. Performing on the night will be The Abingdon Music Club blues band AMC Blues, a group of ten enthusiastic blues musicians including harmonicas, guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. Entry is free and there is no need to be a member.
A family show to entertain old and young alike is being staged by Kingston Bagpuize Drama Group. The group is presenting The Emperor’s New Clothes in Kingston Bagpuize and Southmoor Village Hall, Draycott Road from Thursday 26th to Saturday 28th. Doors open at 7pm with the shows starting at 7.30pm. There will also be a matinee performance on the Saturday. Tickets are £8.50 for adults and £5.50 for children or £25 for a family ticket for two adults and two children. For tickets call 01865 821812.
Jigsaw Stage Productions are taking their Big Variety Show on tour this month. The show, which takes a peek at each of the four seasons in song, dance and sketches, will be performed at villages halls in Uffington on Friday 13th, West Hagbourne on Saturday 14th, Challow on Friday 27th and Sutton Courtenay on Saturday 28th. Tickets are £7 and available from Wantage Museum or call 01235 767509.
Radley Cricket Club is also on the look-out... for players or paid umpires for next season. The club, which describes itself as small and friendly, has teams in the OCA League divisions one and six, and plays its home games at Radley College. For more details call Richard on 0777 6172977.
Abingdon resident Joe Samways is on a mission to raise £1,000 for children’s charity Action Medical Research. The 20-year-old has set up a local fundraising group with friends and family members and will be collecting for the charity at Oxford United Football Club’s Kassam Stadium and the Madejski Stadium in Reading as well as at local supermarkets. Joe was inspired to support Action Medical Research, which funds much-needed research to help save and change the lives of sick and disabled babies and children, by his dad Jeff Samways, who has multiple sclerosis, and he hopes that people will give generously to the cause. To support Joe by either helping with fundraising or making a donation you can call him on 07825 313330.
Calling all artists! If you are one of those creative people who use the time as the evenings draw in to pick up a paintbrush, sculpt pots, carve wood or create delicate jewellery and you’d love to show more people than just family and friends then, although it seems early, now is the time to think about taking part in Oxfordshire Artweeks for 2016. Registration is now open at www.artweeks.org , and will close on 31st December.
And for all those who enjoy the fruits of other people’s creative labour you will be happy to hear Oxfordshire Artweeks is once again hosting its festive event this month. A whole host of artist exhibitions and open studio events will be taking place across the county on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th, offering lots of unique and stylish gifts, and sparkly arts and crafts for Christmas. To find out what is happening near you see www.artweeks.org
Some of the county’s leading craft makers and designers will be showcasing their wares in Woodstock in the run-up to Christmas. The popular Oxfordshire Craft Guild’s selling exhibition will feature jewellery, textiles, ceramics, treasures and keepsakes by more than 25 artists. It will be on at The Oxfordshire Museum from Saturday 14th to Wednesday, 23rd December. Admission is free.
There are plenty of chances to start getting organised for Christmas whilst supporting some great local causes. First off, and a Christmas bazaar takes place on Saturday 21st in Christchurch Hall on Northcourt Road, Abingdon. The event will be on from 10am until midday, and will cost £1 to enter, which includes refreshments. All proceeds will be donated to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. For more information call Joy Batty on 01235 525065.
Fun for all ages is promised at Our Lady’s Abingdon’s annual Christmas Fayre on Saturday 28th. The event will include festive stalls, Christmas music, fun games and crafts, and not forgetting Santa’s grotto, 10am until 1pm.
Abingdon Baptist Church in Ock Street is holding its annual Christmas fayre on Saturday 21st. There will be stalls selling cakes, preserves, gifts, handmade crafts, cards and decorations. Children will also be able to see Father Christmas and visitors to the event can enjoy a free drink in the 35 Ock Street café next to the church. The fayre will be open from 10am until 2pm and entry is free. Proceeds will help the church’s project to modernise its premises.
Sunningwell is holding its Christmas arts and crafts fair on Sunday 15th. All products at the fair are handmade locally, and will include cards, paintings, jewellery, beautiful drum lampshades, fabric noticeboards, decorations, paper art pictures, upcycled furniture and treasures, felt and knitted gifts, metalwork, scarves, cushions, magical wooden gifts for children and more. The fair will take place in Sunningwell Village Hall from 10am until 4pm. Hot drinks and homemade cake will be available. Admission costs 20p and is free for children.
Help is at hand if you are looking for a gift for a loved one who is experiencing cancer or ill health. Serenity Hampers, set up by cancer patient Alicia Dent, can provide compassionate and practical gifts to help people recover from treatment and live life in comfort. It also donates a percentage of all sales to Cancer Research. Visit www.serenityhampers.com or call Alicia on 07985 577550.
Back to Abingdon where a visit from Sir Vince Cable proved a highlight at Our Lady’s Abingdon School’s annual reading festival. The former Business Secretary spoke at a special event of his own love of reading, before talking about his new book After the Storm. He also took questions from the audience and explained economics in a way that everybody could understand and relate to. The evening event was organised in partnership with Mostly Books as part of the annual week-long festival, which saw other author and journalists visiting the school.
Find out how Abingdon Community Hospital League of Friends has helped support the hospital over the last year at the league’s AGM on Wednesday 25th. Progress at the hospital and equipment purchased this year will be announced at the meeting. The big raffle will then be drawn followed by refreshments and musical entertainment. The meeting will take place at St Helen’s Church Centre at 2pm and all are welcome. If you can’t make the meeting but would like to support the league it is always keen to hear from anyone who has ideas for fundraising or who would like to join. Or why not show your support by buying tickets for the raffle, which has prizes including a Miele vacuum cleaner, meals, hampers and wine? Tickets from Simon’s News on East St Helen Street in Abingdon, Vickery’s Hardware Store in Drayton or by calling June on 01235 527668. To find out more about the league visit www.achlof.weebly.com
The history of John Lewis is the topic of the next lecture being given to Abingdon and District’s National Trust Group. The talk on Tuesday 24th will be given by Gavin Henderson, the archivist of the John Lewis Partnership and will cover the business’s origins as a single draper’s shop in Oxford Street opened by John Lewis in 1864 to its present day position as a market leading retailer. It will start at 2.30pm, and will take place at Trinity Church, Conduit Road. The lecture is free to members and will cost £3 for non-members.
Marcus Ferrar will be talking to Sunningwell and Bayworth WI about his experiences growing up with a Foot in Both Camps as the son of Anglo-German parents after the war. All local ladies are welcome to attend the meeting, which will be held in the Village Hall in Sunningwell on Thursday 12th starting at 2pm. Entry is free for WI members, and a donation of £3 is requested from non-members. There will be refreshments after the talk.
Also on Thursday 12th, also in Sunningwell, the well-known horticulturalist John Gibson will talk about Plant Portraits. He will be speaking at Sunningwell and District Gardening Club which meets at Sunningwell Village Hall at 7.30pm. Entry is £2 for members and £3 for non-members, which includes refreshments after the talk. Visitors are most welcome.
The Story of the Camel is the title of Abingdon Area Archaeological and Historical Society’s monthly lecture. The talk will be given by Dr Sally Crawford and Dr Katharina Ulmschneider at the Northcourt Centre at 7.45pm on Thursday 19th. Entry for members is free and visitors are welcome for a suggested donation of £3.
The Wantage Wildlife, History and Archaeology Group will meet on Friday 13th this month. The talk at 7.30pm in The Beacon is on Wantage Past and Present and will be given by David Castle. Visitors are welcome. For more information call 01235 751646 or 01235 764258.
The RSPB Vale of White Horse Local Group meet on Monday 16th at 7.30pm in Didcot Civic Hall for an illustrated talk entitled The Horn of Africa by Richard Pople. On Sunday 22nd the group will go on a coach outing to Pulborough Brooks, which has a great variety of habitats including wetlands, woodlands, and heathland teeming with ducks, geese and swans. For more information about the group contact Steve Bastow, group leader, on 07900 213698 or visit www.rspb-vwh.org.uk
From birds to bats, and did you know there are strict rules when it comes to any building work or other development that may disturb the under-threat mammal. With populations of bats in Britain in decline through loss of their natural habitat, more and more bats are seeking shelter in houses and buildings. This has prompted the publication of a new set of guidelines by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) to make homeowners and developers aware of the steps they need to take if they wish to develop premises where bats are in residence. To find out more visit www.cieem.net
Finally, we’re really sorry if you missed out on free compost last month. Unfortunately the venue for the event changed from Rye Farm to the White Horse Leisure and Tennis Centre after we had gone to press. Apologies again.
Windrush Innovation Centre, Howbery Park, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BA