Ooooh! Ahhhhh! I don’t know about you, but I turn into such a big kid on bonfire night. All those apple-cheeked youngsters with stars in their eyes, wrapped up cosy to watch the sparkles is a real winter highlight for me. Remember remember the fifth of November? I’ll never forget it!
Seven November 5ths ago, fireworks showered their light through my nearest hospital window (this was during my time living in Wembley, where Divali packs an extra-glittery punch) waiting to give birth to my daughter. I remember thinking how wonderful: her birthday will be marked with such sparkle! (She wasn’t born for another three long days, but let’s not spoil the reminiscing there, and don’t start me off on a rant about childbirth, for God’s sake...). Fireworks displays spark off many heart-warming thoughts in our little family.
Anyhoo, fireworks! As ever, there’s a wealth of shows on locally, all giving money, as ever, to local good causes. The South Stoke Firework and Bonfire Night will take place on Friday, 6th November, at South Stoke recreation ground. Gates open at 6pm, fireworks start at 7.15pm and a truly spectacular display is promised. There will also be a barbecue and bar, not forgetting the chocolate tombola and glowsticks for the kids. Remember, readers, lighting your own fireworks can be dangerous, so please take care this Guy Fawkes night!
Now, to Kenton Theatre where you can enjoy Mike Hurst and the Springfields on Sunday, November 1st, from 8pm, if you’re reading this bright and early! Mike returns for his annual show, joined this year by Andy Marlow and Alice Pitt Carter, who make up the Springfields. The first half is a feast of 1950s rock classics and ’60s hits performed by Mike, from Buddy Holly and Elvis to Johnny Cash and Willies Nelson. The second half is a riot of Springfield hits, from Silver Threads and Island of Dreams to Seekers hits (written by Tom Springfield), and Cat Stevens, Manfred Mann and Showaddywaddy hits produced by Mike. The original Springfields were jointly and severally responsible for 80 hit records, and achieved the first ever hit by a British group in the USA. Tickets are £18 for adults, £16.50 concessions.
The Henley Symphony Orchestra is delighted to open its 46th season with a celebratory concert at The Hexagon, Reading on Sunday, 8th November. The concert will mark the 70th birthday of Ian Brown, the orchestra’s music director since 1995 who will appear as soloist in Beethoven’s ebullient Piano Concerto no 1. Ian has for many years been the pianist of the Nash Ensemble, the UK’s leading chamber group. He will go on to conduct Sibelius8uijnm . For tickets at £18, £15 or £12, call 01235 859210 or visit www.henleysymphonyorchestra.co.uk Under-16s and students go half price, one child goes free with a paying adult, and group rates are available.
Things that can spoil your day at sea and Cruising the Med with a Camera are the two topics beinf discussed at Henley Offshore Group’s next meeting on Monday, November 9th. Viv Cox, engineer and sailor, will address these topics at Henley Golf Club from 8pm (the bar will be open from 7.30pm in that entices you slightly earlier). Vyv worked for 30 years in the petroleum industry, responsible for the diagnosis of engineering failures and, originally based in Anglesey, has cruised with his wife Jill between Scotland, Ireland and France in their Sadler 34. Visitors are welcome to attend – entry to this event is £5.
Calling all collectors of stamps, postcards and other post-related items! Henley Philatelic Society have been in touch, to invite all our readers to join the gang and find more enjoyment from your hobby. Anne Stammers writes: “We are delighted to see newcomers, and if wanted, advice is willingly given. There is always time for a chat over coffee during the evening.” Meetings are usually held on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at Bix Village Hall at 7.45pm. The next two dates for your diary are November 11th which will be a Postcard Evening of members’ displays, up to nine pages, on any subject. Then, on November 25th Stephen Marks from Oxford will shows his display of Albania to 1945. If you’d like more details, call 01491 681739 or visit www.henleyphilatelic.org.uk
Do you know about the work done by Wyfold Riding for the Disabled? This independent charity provides horse-riding facilities for people with physical or mental disabilities and recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. On Saturday 14th November, the Aliquando Choir will be putting on a concert in aid of Wyfold RDA. This will take place at St Mary’s Church in Henley at 7.30pm. The choir, with the help of some international soloists and musicians will be performing Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. This will be an inspiring and popular evening and is Wyfold’s main fundraising event of the year. Gill Rushworth got in touch with us to say: “We’re very grateful and excited to be Aliquando’s chosen charity for this concert.” For more information, visit www.aliquando.co.uk
I love the University of the Third Age and its inclusive approach to learning in later life. If only I could get my father to sign up, I’d have less of his ramblings about ‘breaking the internet’ and other silver surfing woes to bemuse me… On Wednesday, 11th November, the U3A Henley on Thames will present a talk by speaker Graham Tolfts. Graham will share his experience of writing The Devil’s Manor, his first e-book. Graham is a retired criminal defence solicitor; could this murder mystery be based on his former career? I’ll leave that question hanging there to whet your appetite! This will be held at The YMCA Hall in Noble Road, Henley (RG9 1NZ). Entry fee is £1 for members and £2 for non-members. There’ll be a prompt 2pm start, followed by tea and biscuits and you’ll find free parking. Contact Penny Evans on 07901 674779.
On Saturday, 14th November, Aliquando Choir will perform the wonderful Handel Oratorio Solomon in St Mary’s Church, Henley. All the biblical drama will be magically brought to life by superlative soloists, a double choir and orchestra, promise the organisers. The top-billing soloists Patricia Rozario MBE sings the role of the Queen of Sheba, countertenor Timothy Morgan is Solomon, the two harlots Maryl Davies and Helen Withers, fighting over a baby highlights Solomon’s wisdom as he resolves this thorny situation. To learn more about the soloists and performance details please visit www.aliquando.co.uk
Aliquando’s concert is in aid of Wyfold RDA riding for the disabled, who are well worthy of a plug, now you mention it. Wyfold Group Riding for the Disabled is an independent charity providing horse riding facilities for people with physical or mental disabilities in the South Oxfordshire and Reading areas. For those unable to ride, carriage driving is also available –see page 24 for more on this! Buy concert tickets from a member of the choir, or call 01491 578238. Reserved seating tickets are £20 and free seating is £16.
A dramatic staging of Handel’s Messiah by John Ramster is well worth catching on November 14th. This will take place at St Leonard’s Church in Pyrton Lane, Watlington (OX49 5LX), from 7.30pm. This performance is brought to you by The Merry Opera Company, which is a registered charity, and tickets are £18 each – buy them at www.ticketsource.co.uk/stleonardschurch
Now a chance for you to do some Christmas shopping locally while raising money for a good cause – both key objectives here within the Round & About team and among you readers out there! Watlington Hospital Charitable Trust’s Christmas Fair takes place on Friday 20th November from 9.30am to 3pm at Benson Parish Hall. This popular gift fair attracts hundreds of people each year and is the major fundraising event for the trust, with all money raised supporting the nursing home. You’ll find everything from children’s stocking-fillers and bargain books to luxury cashmere sweaters and men’s socks. See you there!
This year the Christ Church Annual Fair will be at the Christ Church Centre in Reading Road, Henley, on Saturday 21st November from 10am to 2pm. Do take your friends! A wide variety of hot and cold lunches will be served followed by delicious home-made desserts. You can even buy a meal to take home to eat later. As well as the Charity Christmas cards stalls there will be Christmas cakes, festive candles, beautiful hand-crafted goods, a Fair Trade stall, a fun zone for the children, great raffle prizes and more stalls with old favourites and new ideas. Entry is free and there’s lots of parking.
The artists and crafters who form the Bix Six and Friends have been busy as Christmas elves! They have been beavering away designing, stirring, weaving, turning, carving, firing and painting to name a few of the skills they use to produce the highly individual items which we will be ready to present to you on the weekend of 28th and 29th November. The Bix Six Christmas Do is held in the charming village hall on the edge of Bix Common. Car parking is available and entry is free. Open from 10am to 5pm, you can shop for high-quality items for all pockets (and stockings!).
The multi-talented Bix Six will also be using their baking skills to tempt you to join them for light refreshments – the proceeds of which will be donated to the Riding for the Disabled Association. The Bix Six and Friends Group of Artists and Crafters comprises of feltmaker Carol Crowdy, photographer Tracy Florence, woodworker and jeweller John Parrey, silversmith and jeweller Matt Hitch, natural handmade skin products from Midori, woodturner Alistair Phillips, weaver Gloria Pitt, silk painter Stephanie Gay, oil & acrylic painter Lynda Hopkins and ceramicist Debbie Page.
Brrrrrr, even thinking about open-water swimming in this weather gives me the collywobbles (talking to tough nut Doug Allan about his experiences of frostnip and Antarctic diving had a similar effect this month). However, hopefully you’re made of sterner stuff than I am so might light to know about this… The organisers of Henley Swim have confirmed the details of their dawn event next summer and invite you to join in the fun. Sponsored by new open-water swimming brand Selkie Swim Co (their kit is quite sexy, truth be told), the dawn dip will take place on Sunday, 26th June at 4.30am, just before the Regatta. This will be an elite race. The Henley Mile will take place on Sunday, 10th July, and is a day-long downstream event for swimmers of all abilities, from elites to children. The Club To Pub swim, starting at Henley Rowing Club, will take place on Saturday, 23rd July and the Bridge To Bridge will make its fifth appearance on Sunday, 7th August. Plenty of time to get used to the idea! For those who would like the challenge, registration details are available at www.henleyswim.com
Disney’s Aladdin lands on the stage from Wednesday, November 4th until Sunday, November 8th. This amateur production is suitable for all ages. Tickets £15 – call 01491 575698 to book.
Friend of Benson School and the Youth club are holding a Christmas fayre to raise vital funds, and we’re very happy to help spread the word. The hard-working organisers say more than 900 people went to the summer fayre, enabling the school to raise a huge amount of money for the school; well done, readers! Promising to be an afternoon full of magic and sparkle, this event takes place on Saturday 28th November at the Parish Hall in Benson village from 1-4pm. Here you can enjoy an afternoon of Christmas cheer, with mince pies, mulled wine, tea and cakes, craft activities, games, tombolas and a Christmas raffle with amazing prizes. There will be many wonderful gift and craft stalls with an opportunity to buy all those unique presents and Santa will be in attendance “ warm and snug in his magical grotto”! Lucky Santa! Entry is £1 for adults, free for children. For more information contact Jo on 07939916209.
Are you a Jane Austen fan? Who isn’t?! (Rhetorical question – please don’t write in). Jane Austen’s Emma is 200 years old next month and, on Thursday, 12th November, you can enjoy Hotbuckle Productions’ Emma, starting at 7.30pm at Kenton Theatre. Following on from the wildly successful Persuasion (“pure theatre magic” – The Stage) and David Copperfield (“superb... a master class in stage adaptation” – BBC Radio), Hotbuckle return to the stage with Austen’s most perfect novel. Emma’s Highbury – full of eccentricities and secrets - is brought enchantingly to life with live music and Hotbuckle’s trademark ensemble style. Tickets £15 – call 01491 575698 to book.
Following five previous sell-out performances, The National Youth Jazz Orchestra returns to Henley for a special concert to celebrate its 50th birthday. Led by Professor Mark Armstrong, the artistic and music director and renowned trumpet player, the 22-piece orchestra with vocalists will play a specially selected programme of NYJO’s music, with a mix of its own compositions and special arrangements of some of the great Jazz Standards on November 13th. The afternoon Open Rehearsal (starting at 3.30pm, which is open to all, but principally for school and college students) reveals the supreme artistry in the lead-up to the evening concert at 7.30pm. Open rehearsal tickets are £5 and evening concert tickets are £23/£21. Visit www.nyjo.org.uk
If you are community spirited and want to expand your social circle, you may be surprised at the irreverent fun entailed with getting involved with Reading Abbey Rotary Club. After some successful fundraising over summer, November features after-dinner talks about the Queens Flight by Squadron Leader JD Marshall (on 5th November) and the Henley Standard by Editor Simon Bradshaw (12th November). A visit to Binghams Brewery is planned, in addition to a Sunday walk and pub lunch. The club will also be supporting mock interviews for local school children. Reading Abbey is an active and expanding club – its Thames Walk raised £15k for End Polio Now, the AMAM Golf Day £2k for Riding for the Disabled and the Englefield 10k Run was the club’s largest yet, raising £4k for Hope for Tomorrow and supporting the Berkshire Mobile Chemotherapy unit.
Now, how about some music to warm the cockles? Readifolk, Reading’s Folk Song and Music Club, has another wonderful array of highlights for the upcoming month. This starts on Sunday, November 1st with a Halloween special along the theme of Ghoulies & Ghosties. The next date for music-lovers is Jody Kruskal on tour from the US of A with some traditional American songs from yesterday, with dazzling Anglo concertina accompaniment. On 15th it’s Broom Bezzums; a whirlwind of trad British tunes along with “cheeky off-the-cuff patter”! And, on 29th, it’s the turn of Steve Turner who will dazzle with his songs and concertina. These gigs take place 8-10.30pm at The Conference Room of Reading International Solidarity Centre, 35-19 London Street, RG1 4PS. Admission is #6 for guest nights. For more info or to book, call Una on 01189 483145 or Anne on 01189 613586.
Bracknell Flower Club, winners of a silver gilt medal at this year`s Chelsea flower show has recently celebrated their 45th birthday. The group’s Christmas evening this year will be held at the Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park, Bracknell. The evening is entitled A little touch of Sparkle by the NAFAS demonstrator David Ryland and tickets can be purchased by calling Gillian Lowe on 01344 886861 or South Hill Park on 01344 484123. Club meetings are held at the Priestwood Community centre in Bracknell on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month and new members are always welcome. For more information call Alison Phillips on 01344 882733.
Windrush Innovation Centre, Howbery Park, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BA