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 5th 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 Diwali 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.
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, chocolate tombola and glowsticks for the kids. Remember, readers, lighting your own fireworks can be dangerous, so please take care this Guy Fawkes night!
Alternately (or as well, if you’re as obsessed as me) make a date for Wallingford bonfire and fireworks at The Kinecroft on Saturday, November 7th, from 6pm. This event is organised by Wallingford 1155, a charity organisation formed in 2008 to help continue the work of the Round Table in and around the town. Chairman Mark Brett told me: “We encourage all visitors to the charity fireworks to purchase food and drink from the official 1155 bar and food stalls only, sparklers and glow products can be purchased from volunteers wearing 1155 high-vis vests. All proceeds go directly to Wallingford 1155 and the local community. Please give generously!” For more info and to find out about this year’s Guy Fawkes Night competition (if you make the best movie-themed Guy you can win super-dooper prizes and the chance to light the bonfire.) visit www.wallingford1155.co.uk
Now, I was banging on about this in our October edition but here’s another reminder for such a great local cause. The Felix Fund, based at Didcot’s Vauxhall Barracks, takes care of bomb disposal experts working on the front-line, sometimes with traumatic results. Chief executive of the charity Melanie Moughton has had a great response from Round & About readers (well done, everyone!) who have got in touch to take part in the Big Blast Appeal. The idea is simple; if you’re having your own show, or a few sparklers in the garden for the kids, take a collection for this life-changing cause. For details and a fundraiser pack, visit www.felixfund.org.uk
If you are feeling thirsty or peckish on Saturday 7th, pop into Wallingford Methodist Church’s charity coffee morning. Save the Children cards and wrapping paper will be on sale, along with cards designed by local artist and church member Val Kirkman, in aid of a clean water project in Uganda. The coffee morning runs from 10 am to midday at the church centre in St Leonard’s Square.
Another event on the same evening. The autumn concert of the Langtree Sinfonia will be held in St Mary’s Church, Wallingford, on 7th, at 7.30pm. The evening will start with the sparkling overture Tancredi by Rossini, always a bright start to any concert. Set in Sicily in AD 1000, it tells of family betrayals, battles and, in the natural way of all such things, eventual triumph. Rossini’s work sets the tone for the evening which continues with the Piano Concerto No 2 by Camille Saint-Saens. Written in 1868 it was described as “starting with Bach and ending with Offenbach” and was first performed by Saint-Saens himself, with the great Russian pianist Anton Rubenstein conducting. Some act to follow! English pianist Simon Watterton has given recitals as soloist and chamber musician all across the world. In recent years he has performed in China, Canada, the USA, Sweden and Italy as well as extensively in the UK and Ireland. Simon studied at the Purcell School of Music with Patsy Toh and the Royal College of Music with Yonty Solomon, where he won a range of prizes and awards. Rounding off the evening will be Beethoven’s Second Symphony, written in 1802-3 at the same time Beethoven realised his deafness might be permanent, it nevertheless brims with confidence and shows him pushing the boundaries of what was possible in music. A thoroughly inspiring concert for all; read on, for how to buy and more on the orchestra...
Langtree Sinfonia began as a music class in adult education in 1971 and went on to establish itself as an independent orchestra to further its development. When the orchestra celebrated its 40th anniversary the orchestra combined with local choirs to perform Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, a work which combined vocal and instrumental soloists with the orchestra. Other works played have included Brahm’s Academic Festival overture and Dvorak’s 6th Symphony. Paul Cox conducts at the concert on 7th. Tickets (£10 adults, students £5, under-16s free) are available at the door or call 0118 9415498 to buy.
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 shows his display of Albania to 1945. If you’d like more details, call 01491 681739 or visit www.henleyphilatelic.org.uk
Ever wanted to grow your own organic produce? I have, ever since I read somewhere that it cures cellulite! Sadly, chomping on the odd homegrown tomato has not proved an instant fix (the similar Holy Grail tip that organic wine leaves you hangover free was also a let-down), but it’s extremely rewarding... I’m just working my way through a freezerload of plum and apple crumble. The November meeting of the Wallingford Gardening Club is Grow Organic. Christie Leary, who lives in Goring, will lead this. She was a founder member of the Village Greenfingers gardening club and is a keen amateur photographer and a member of the Garden Organic (Henry Doubleday Research Association), The Hebe Society and the Reading & District Fuschia Society. The talk is at Ridgeway Community Church, Wallingford, at 7.30pm on Thursday 12th. Visitors are welcome – entry fee is £2.
You might remember I wrote about a mum, Christine McRitchie earlier this year, when she was crowned for Britain’s Best Online Business in the Venus Awards. Real Easy, the washable nappy manufactured by her Didcot-based green business Wonderoos has just won the coveted Consumer Choice Award in the Best Baby & Toddler Gear Awards 2015 in the reusable nappy category. Christine says: “Having acquired Real Easy nappies in October 2014, we relaunched the brand at Harrogate International Nursery Fair in March 2015. To have now won the Consumer Choice Award, which is awarded to the product with the most online votes, is a demonstration of the amazing support and loyalty of our customers.” Find out more about these great green products, and others, by visiting www.earthwisetrading.co.uk
This month’s talk to The Wallingford Historical and Archaeological Society (TWHAS) will be by Ian Wheeler. He will present Fair Mile Hospital, Cholsey. In its 133-year life, Fair Mile Hospital had a significant influence on its surrounding area – notably the village of Cholsey and its inhabitants. Ian Wheeler represents the fourth generation of his family to work there. This talk explains the old asylum’s origins and objectives and examines its buildings and daily operation as seen by family members, spanning a period of more than a century. Visitors are welcome for this talk on Friday 13th November, 8pm at Wallingford Town Hall, £3. www.twhas.org.uk
Make a date for the Cholsey & Wallingford Concert Band’s winter concert on 14th November. Head to The Great Hall in Cholsey Meadows to hear some wonderful music from 7.30pm (doors 7pm). Tickets are priced £5 (£7 on the door) and can be purchased by contacting Kalinda Francomb on 07590 280507.
It’s your last chance to see this year’s special exhibition Wallingford’s Royal Castle Revealed at Wallingford Museum. The museum closes on 28th November to prepare for new major presentations in 2016. Alongside, to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta there is the additional display; Magna Carta and All That! highlighting Wallingford’s role in the events of 1215, and why it is only one of four towns mentioned in Magna Carta. King John was at Wallingford Castle on several occasions during his falling out with the barons which led to Magna Carta. There is also the Midsomer Murders display and the growing At Home with the Queen of Crime: Agatha Christie created with input from several people in the town who came into contact with the crime writer. The museum is open until 28th, Tuesdays to Fridays 2-5pm, Saturdays 10.30am -5pm. www.wallingfordmuseum.org.uk
On Saturday, 14th November, Aliquando Choir will perform the 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 (and highlighting Solomon’s wisdom as he resolves this thorny situation, not to spoil the plot!). To learn more about the soloists and performance details visit www.aliquando.co.uk. The concert is in aid of Wyfold Group Riding for the Disabled, the independent charity providing horse riding facilities for people with physical or mental disabilities in the South Oxfordshire and Reading areas (see inside this issue for more on this excellent cause). Buy concert tickets from a member of the choir, or call 01491 578238. Reserved seating tickets are £20 and free seating is £16.
The Band of Music launched its concert series as a joint venture with St Mary’s Church in Wallingford this autumn. The series aims to raise money for St Mary’s church tower, and bring more high quality live music to the town. The band is made up of full-time professional players on historical instruments, four of whom live in Cholsey. They are Frances Norbury (oboe), Daniel Edgar and Nia Lewis (violins), Tim Smedley (cello) and Christopher Bucknall (harpsichord). The next concert is on Saturday, 14th November, at 1pm with Mozart, Haydn and JC Bach for music-lovers. For more information and details on how to purchase tickets visit www.thebandofmusic.co.uk
Now, we love a little local trivia here at Round & About, not to mention sharing the pecadilloes of the various readership areas we reach out to! Did you know there is an unusually high number of professional musicians living in Cholsey? There were a dozen at the last count, according to one of that number, Frances Norbury, who got in touch this month. Frances writes: “Four of us, in our group The Band of Music, are doing a three-part series at St Mary-le-more, Wallingford, to raise money for the church tower. The second concert is on Saturday, November 14th, at 1pm, with music for oboe and strings by Mozart, Haydn and JC Bach.” Tickets are £10, free for children, and available from the Town Information Centre. For more information visit www.thebandofmusic.co.uk
If you are one of those wonderfully 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, we’re looking at you with this one! Although it seems early, now is the time to think about taking part in Oxfordshire Artweeks for next year. Registration now open at www.artweeks.org and closes at the end of December.
I get such a rewarding response from you Round & About readers whenever the topic of wildlife is mentioned… So, here’s one for bird-lovers. The RSPB Vale of White Horse Local Group will meet on Monday, 16th November, at 7.30pm in Didcot Civic Hall for an illustrated talk entitled The Horn of Africa by Richard Pople. Richard will talk about the wildlife of Ethiopia. On Sunday 22nd November the group will go on a coach outing to Pulborough Brooks which has a great variety of habitats including wetlands, woodlands, and heathland. In winter the flooded meadows teem with ducks, geese and swans. For more information contact Steve Bastow, group leader, on 07900 213698 or visit www.rspb-vwh.org.uk
Good news for parents in North Moreton! The village’s playground on the recreation ground is about to enjoy a boost. Thanks to generous grants from WREN and South Oxfordshire District Council, financial contributions from village organisations, and some hard fundraising work by the Playground Action Group (PAG), the village is doubling the equipment on the playground, with pride of place going to a zipwire. The total project costs will be about £40,000. There will be a Grand Opening on Saturday 21st November at 11.30am, to which all are welcome. This project has been a joint effort by the Parish Council and Playground Action Group led by local resident Dave Powell. The facilities have always been reasonable for a small village like North Moreton, but some of the equipment was getting a bit tired, and it was felt that there was a need to provide more interest for the oldest and youngest children. The PAG organised two circus events and a Burns Night Supper. Roger Haycock of North Moreton Parish Council told me: “Everybody is looking forward to seeing the new facilities being used – and some smiley faces on happy children.” Well done to all those involved!
Quiz time! It’s time to get your entries in for Wallingford’s fiendish annual quiz held at the Methodist Church. Teams of six will compete for a £30 prize on Saturday 21st. As usual the quiz will feature a chilli supper, or vegetarian option, followed by delicious homemade cakes midway through the evening. Tickets, including food, cost £10, with proceeds going towards church funds. To request an entry form, call Esther Chamberlain on 01491 837242.
Join the friendly Ewelme residents on Friday, 27th November, from 6.30pm in Ewelme Village Hall for the annual village preschool Christmas shopping evening. This is a wonderful evening that allows you to shop for all your Christmas pressies, whilst enjoying a glass or two of mulled wine, mince pies and beauty treatments. Put the date in your diary to support this community event, and take all your friends and family!
I hadn’t heard of The Didcot Divas before, but these big-hearted singers sound like my kind of women! They will perform, with Wantage Male Voice Choir under the direction of Judith Sawyer, and guest soprano soloist, Sarah Hobbs, at a joint fund-raising concert at Trinity Church in Abingdon on Saturday, 28th November, starting at 7pm. All proceeds will go to the Oxfordshire Branch of the Alzheimer’s Society. For more details call Jeff on 01235 868327.
You’ll find a great choice of Christmas cards in the Cards For Good Causes pop-up shop at 53 St Mary’s Street, Wallingford. This is in the blue building, next door to the yellow building, where the gang have been for the last few years. The shop is staffed by volunteers, and sells cards for at least 25 different charities, plus advent calendars, wrapping paper, decorations and small gifts. It is open from now until Thursday, 17th December. Monday to Saturday 10am to 4pm.
If you know anyone aged 18 to 35 who has used the county’s mental health services in the last year, please pass this on. Healthwatch Oxfordshire is working with researchers from Saïd Business School, asking “how can we better design mental health services for the young people of Oxfordshire?” The researchers want to find out how to make it easier for young people with mental illness to continue their appointments with NHS staff and use voluntary or online mental health services as well. You could win £25 for taking part. Visit www.surveymonkey.com/s/HWO_SAID
Didcot Choral Society present Michael Haydn’s Requiem in C, described as ‘the most beautiful piece of music you’ve never heard’ in December. Haydn was a huge influence on the young Mozart, and those with sharp ears will notice how much this piece obviously ‘inspired’ him in the writing of his own Requiem. Well, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery… Together with the starkly beautiful Funeral Sentences by Purcell (made famous as the main theme for Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange, this is a rare chance to hear both works with a full orchestra and soloists drawn from the most talented young professionals in the South of England. This takes place on Saturday, December 5th, at 7.30pm at St Peter’s Church Didcot, Newlands Avenue. Tickets are £10 (£8 concessions) on the door or in advance from the Didcot One Stop Shop or call 07915 094842.
Aren’t people wonderful? (That’s a rhetorical question… please don’t write in, people!) Just when life feels like a total ****er (insert your own letters here, readers, we’re not going to spell it out!) you find out about someone who’s taken time to help, takes a bad situation and uses that as impetus to give a **** (ditto!). One shining example is Courtney Hughes, a 17-year-old who lives in Didcot. You’ve probably heard of Courtney. For the last three years, she’s run her own Christmas charity appeal and we’re more than happy to spread the word for this great cause. Courtney arranges a Charity Secret Santa – she collects gifts from members of the public and distributes them to local charity groups, vulnerable and sick people who are either alone or in hospital at Christmas. The charities she helps are The Meadows in Didcot, Didcot Community Hospital, Helen and Douglas House Hospice, Sobell House Hospice, the baby units at John Radcliffe Hospital, Life charity in Didcot, Hanover Court and any other people who are in need at Christmas.
We have some wonderfully creative people out there, not least members of the International Feltmakers Association. On the weekend of 21st and 22nd November, from 11am-5pm, it is well worth taking a trip to gaze on the beauty of a display of work and demonstrations by members of the Reading Group, Region 5, at Sonning Common Village Hall in Wood Lane, RG4 9SL. If you’d like more information about the association, visit www.feltmakers.com
Back by popular demand, Sunday Jazz is on again at Blenheim Palace with performances of live classical and contemporary jazz most weeks from now until the palace closes for Christmas. Performances will take place from 10am until 12.30pm in the Water Terraces Café. For full details of who’s performing when see www.blenheimpalace.com
An annual lecture to promote public understanding of science takes place this year on Friday 6th at Oxford Playhouse. The Simonyi Lectures are a series of annual lectures in the city set up in 1999 by Professor Richard Dawkins. For this year’s event Professor Melissa Franklin, the Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics at Harvard University, will give a talk entitled Putting the Higgs Boson in its Place, followed by discussion of her work at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. The lecture starts at 5pm. Tickets are £7 and can be booked online at www.oxfordplayhouse.com or by calling 01865 305305.
Some of the county’s leading craft makers and designers will showcase 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, 14th to 23rd December. Admission is free. The guild is also staging shorter exhibitions in Chipping Norton Town Hall from Friday 27th to Sunday 29th and at the arts and crafts market in Broad Street, Oxford on Saturday 5th and Sunday, 6th December.
Oxford’s new Alliance Française is organising a French language visit to the Pitt Rivers Museum on Saturday 14th. The visit is for children aged five and over, starts at 2pm and costs £4 for a family. The Alliance Française d’Oxford is a not-for-profit organisation independent from the French government. Its mission, common to all Alliances Françaises, is to offer French classes for all ages and abilities and to promote the enjoyment of French and Francophone cultures through classes and events. To find out more see www.af-oxford.org
Next up and knitters are needed - the Big Knit is back. The campaign asks knitters to make tiny hats for the top of Innocent smoothie bottles. For every ‘behatted’ bottle sold, 25p will go to Age UK to help keep older people warm and well in winter. For more details, and knitting patterns, see www.ageuk.org.uk/oxfordshire/bigknit . Hats should be sent to The Big Knit, Age UK Oxfordshire, St Edmund House, 39 West St Helen Street, Abingdon, OX14 5BT, by Friday, 4th December.
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 their treatment and to live life in comfort. It also donates a percentage of all sales to Cancer Research. To find out more see www.serenityhampers.com or contact Alicia on 07985 577550.
Windrush Innovation Centre, Howbery Park, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BA