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!
Talking of getting ahead of ourselves, I couldn't believe that Valentine's Day cards were on sale in my local shop the other day. Now, I like to plan ahead, however, surely that's going too far? But just in case I forget, have a happy Easter.
We start off with a couple of chances to delve into the past at lectures coming up early in the month. Firstly, Blenheim's Georgian Scandal is the title of a talk being given to North Leigh History Society by Alan Ledger on Tuesday 3rd. The society meets at North Leigh Memorial Hall at 7.30pm and it will cost visitors £4 to attend. For more information call Diana Power on 01993 882301.
Churchill's Secret Army is the subject being explored at the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum's next talk. Gilly Halcrow's lecture at the museum on Park Street, Woodstock on Wednesday 4th will offer an insight into some of the secret missions that helped shorten the war. It will start at 7pm and tickets cost £15. To find out more call 01993 810210 or see www.sofo.org.uk
Sticking with the past, you can learn about the history of the illustrated poster at Witney Museum and Historical Society's November meeting. Graham Twenlow will talk on Tuesday 17th at 7.30pm in the Wesley Room of the High Street Methodist Church, Witney.
Artist Andrea Bates will be giving a demonstration of seascapes in pastel at Witney's Buttercross Art Society on Tuesday 3rd. The meeting will be held in the Wesley Centre behind the High Street Methodist Church at 7.30pm and visitors are welcome. For further details,call Jenny on 01993 834853.
On to gardening and Rob Jacobs, horticultural manager of the gardens near Wheatley, will be guest speaker at Witney Horticultural Society's meeting on Wednesday 25th. The meeting will be held at Witney's Methodist Church at 7.30pm. It will cost visitors £3 to attend. Call Diana on 01993 702444.
From borders to bees. Freeland Gardening Club will hear a talk on The Incredible World of the Honey Bee at its next meeting on Monday 23rd. The talk will be given by Steve Moll at Freeland Hall at 7.30pm. There will also be a bring-and-buy plant sale. Visitors are welcome, and it will cost them £3 to attend.
It's bingo time at Madley Park Hall which is hosting a special session for children on Sunday 8th. The event starts at 3pm and will cost £4 per child for six games with plenty of prizes up for grabs. Drinks and refreshments will be on sale, but please note children must be accompanied by an adult.
Staying on Madley and volunteers are needed to help out at the estate's next litter pick. The clean-up, organised by the Madley Park Residents' Association, will take place on Saturday 7th from 10am until noon, with volunteers asked to meet in the square outside the Co-op.
Moving to music, and 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
The Lower Windrush Choral Society will perform Mozart’s Requiem and Vivaldi’s Gloria on Sunday 15th at St Mary’s Church on Witney's Church Green. The concert will start at 4.30pm. Tickets, £10 each, are available by calling 01993 773283 or 01865 300625.
Oxford Welsh Male Voice Choir will be give a concert in St Giles' Church, Standlake on Saturday 7th at 7.30pm. Tickets, which cost £10 and include wine and nibbles during the interval, are available by calling 01865 300849 or 01865 300807.
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. To find out more see www.oxfordharmony.co.uk or call Mike on 01235 831352.
To an event for the ladies, with an evening of pampering on offer. Treat yourself to a mini beauty treatment and browse a selections of stalls selling jewellery, scarves and books at the event being organised by the Friends of Ducklington school. The pamper night takes place at the school on Thursday 12th from 7pm until 10pm. Tickets can be bought on the night, and cost £3.50 which includes a glass of wine or soft drink.
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 that 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 more visit www.artweeks.org
Quality, original artwork at well below gallery prices will be on offer at Eynsham Art Group's annual Christmas exhibition. The exhibition will be on in the Bartholomew Room, Eynsham from Saturday 14th to Sunday 22nd. For full details see www.eynshamartsgroup.org.uk
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. The guild is also staging 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.
Staying seasonal with a quick reminder that Witney's Christmas lights will be switched on at an event in the Market Place on Friday 27th. The festive fun will run from 5.30pm until 8pm.
Adderbury will once again be hosting its traditional Christmas market on Saturday 28th. The event at St Mary’s Church from 11am until 4pm will see cards, crafts, perfumes and unusual gifts and jewellery on sale. There will be homemade soup or hot dogs for lunch, tea and cakes in the afternoon in Church House, or mulled wine and mince pies in the church and Santa will be in his grotto from 11am until 1pm and 2pm until 4pm. For more details see www.adderbury.org
A fairytale-themed Christmas fayre is on at West Witney Primary School early next month. The event, on Saturday, 5th December, will feature Christmas stalls, a fair ground, games and competitions, mulled wine and mince pies, a raffle, and lots more. It will run from midday until 2pm at the school on Edington Road. Entry is free.
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.
Back to Woodstock, where a host of poets will be taking part in the town's poetry festival, including Tony Harrison, winner of this year’s David Cohen Prize for literature. The festival runs from Friday 13th to Sunday 15th with Mr Harrison reading at 6pm on Sunday. For the full line-up see www.woodstockbookshop.co.uk or contact the shop on 01993 812760.
Two talks on portrait painting take place at The Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock this month. On Saturday 7th Dr Robert Edwards, a collector of portrait miniatures, will talk about 18th century artists Richard and Maria Cosway, and on Saturday 28th Karen Wiseman, head of education at Blenheim Palace, will give a talk about the portraits in the palace and the stories of the people in them. Both lectures, organised by the Friends of The Oxfordshire Museum, will start at 2.30pm. Tickets are £7 and are available in advance from the museum, by calling Trevor Hendy on 01993 812103 or on the day.
West Oxfordshire's Decorative and Fine Arts Society will be hearing about English Cathedrals on Thursday 12th. Dr Catherine Oakes will explore the development of cathedrals through the medieval centuries from the rebuilding of Winchester and onwards. The lecture will take place at Witney's Methodist Church at 7.30pm. It will cost visitors £6 to attend.
The Cotswold Decorative and Fine Arts Society will hear a lecture on Art and the Napoleonic Wars by Lois Oliver on Wednesday 11th. The lecture will take place at Bradwell Village Hall near Burford at 11am. Visitors are welcome to attend and will be asked to make a suggested donation of £8. For more information see www.cotswolddfas.org.uk.
An exhibition of photographs by Year 12 and 13 pupils at Burford and Chipping Norton schools will be on show at the Beaconsfield Hall, Shipton-under-Wychwood on Saturday 7th. The exhibition, sponsored by the Cotswold Decorative and Fine Arts Society and Cotswold Woollen Weavers, will be open 10am-4pm.
Just up the road and award-winning gastro pub The Kingham Plough is hosting a fundraising quiz night on Sunday 22nd. The event starts at 7.30pm and is in aid of Cotswolds Dogs and Cats Home.
Windrush Innovation Centre, Howbery Park, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BA