The GREAT outdoors!

Round & About

Cookham

We’ve never appreciated being outside more than we do now and with more gradually opening up to us, let’s get out and enjoy it

It’s the time of year when we’re normally thinking about going on holiday and spending as much time as possible outside – and with more of us likely to opt for staycations and short breaks closer to home this year, where do you start?

Fingers crossed, campsites are preparing to reopen this month with social distancing measures and a limited number of places, some will reopen second fields while others will introduce measures such as a system including timed use of showers.

If you’re a camping virgin, The Camping and Caravanning Club is a great place to start with all you need and some helpful advice:

• Stay in the open air – there are many physical and well-being benefits of camping and caravanning thanks to spending time in the fresh air

• Stay local – there will be a campsite near you, there’s no need to travel far for a change of scene and the local economies will benefit too

• Stay comfortable – there will be social distancing measures in place when they’re able to re-open campsites

The Club’s Director General Sabina Voysey said: “We believe the great outdoors will never feel greater and we can’t wait for the day when we’re able to welcome people back to our campsites. By sharing our handy guides, top tips and online content we hope we can introduce even more people to the joys of camping and caravanning.”

TV presenter Julia Bradbury is president of The Camping and Caravanning Club and created The Outdoor Guide (TOG) website to share her love of all things outdoors.

She said: “Green spaces are incredibly important to me. And they don’t have to be big, wide open landscapes. Yes, I love the Peak District and the Lake District, and Dartmoor and I love exploring the wilds of Scotland, but green spaces, parks, gardens, even simple window boxes. These ‘little bits of green’ or smaller green environs are equally important.

“Growing something, for example, in a window box is a way to connect with nature. And that is something that we have evolved to do. And it’s an important part of our makeup. We know for example, that time spent in green spaces, whether that is parks or bigger landscapes, either of those, time spent in green spaces is good for us.”

For many time spent in outdoor spaces means enjoying a walk and while Julia won’t commit to a favourite she explained that was the reasoning behind TOG: “People have been asking me for years and years about my favourite walks or where I like to stay or the pub that I was at, or where I was when I had that pie and pint, or that little woodshop that I called into, or the blacksmith/carpenter I talked to…

“So we’ve put all of that information up on the website and there are hundreds and hundreds of really good walks up on there. It’s not fair for me to say a favourite walk because I just like being out there.

“And it depends where you live. Some people will never get to the other side of the country. They’ll explore what they’ve got on their doorstep and that’s absolutely fine as well.

“Of course, the Peak District would always have a special place in my heart as will the Lake District because that’s where I made my first TV walks – The Wainwright walks – filming in the footsteps of Alfred Wainwright, so those two places are special.”

Julia believes it’s just important for people to get out and enjoy it, especially now. She added: “A University of Exeter study of nearly 20,000 people in England last year revealed people who spend at least 120 minutes a week in nature are significantly more likely to report good health and higher psychological well being, than those who don’t visit nature at all.

“One hundred and twenty minutes a week is nothing but the benefits to all are enormous, quite simply nature and green spaces help to keep us healthy. Governments that don’t recognise this are being incredibly foolish – it’s almost like having a second health service… This study found the majority of nature visits took place within just two miles of people’s homes.”

There’s lots more information on Julia’s website The Outdoor Guide, www.theoutdoorguide.com

UK tourism industry site Visit Britain is developing a quality mark for tourism businesses, including campsites, in response to Covid-19. It aims to reassure visitors businesses are complying with government guidelines.

The National Trust is reopening some of its properties but with many restrictions still in place. Visitors can now walk in some of its open spaces locally – White Horse Hill at Uffington; Buscot and Coleshill Estate in Wiltshire; the Chilterns countryside; Ashdown, Lambourn; Bibury, Gloucestershire and Stonehenge landscape. Car parks have reopened at these sites, some with limited space on a first come first served basis.

Some sites have been able to reopen further with gardens, parklands, estates and car parks welcoming visitors. Booking is essential at all properties although the houses themselves will not be open. Those you can now visit locally include: Cliveden and Basildon Park in Berkshire; Stowe, Waddesdon and Hughendon, all in Buckinghamshire; Buscot Park and Greys Court in Oxfordshire.

Visit the National Trust website for details
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/how-to-book-your-visit-and-what-to-expect

A National Trust spokesperson said: “We knew that once we started a gradual opening of our gardens and parklands, tickets for our places would be very popular; particularly with such fine weather.

“We’ve made careful decisions about which gardens and parklands can open, and we have limited their capacity to ensure everyone can adhere to social distancing to maintain the safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers, which remains our top priority.”

Historic Blenheim Palace in Woodstock has also reopened its formal gardens and walks for visitors to enjoy. Again booking for dates and times is essential as numbers are limited. The Palace has introduced a number of safety measures such as installing hand washing facilities and sanitisers, operating a cashless system and screens at kiosks. Visit www.blenheimpalace.com/ for all you need to know.

Walk around the beautiful gardens of Stonor Park near Henley which has welcomed visitors again and enjoy the offerings from street food vendors too. Pre-booked tickets are a must with timed entry only. The street food will also need to be booked in advance. For more information and to book visit www.stonor.com

You can also enjoy a walk around Windsor Great Park, observing the now customary restrictions and Savill Garden has reopened to friends and members as well with a further phased opening planned to welcome more people to appreciate the splendour of the gardens.

Make the most of the English outdoors and celebrate it as The Camping and Caravanning Club says on its website ‘the good times will never feel better’ and ‘the outside will never feel greater’.

• Share with us where you like to go. Which places are you longing to get back to? Get in touch with us via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and share your pictures

Mini plays in response to Covid-19

Round & About

Cookham

Four Reading writers have penned mini audio plays about their town and their relationship to home in these challenging times.

Reading Rep has partnered with the UK’s leading new writing company Paines Plough to commission the work.

The plays, part of the project called Come to Where I Am, are available free online and, in a first, people who may find it difficult or even impossible to access digital content can hear the plays over the phone. Prospect Park Hospital which treats mental health and Purley Park Trust patients with learning disabilities will receive the free telephone and online readings.

Links to the plays will also be available www.readingrep.com.

The Reading writers are:

•Sam Butler, co-artistic director of Fevered Sleep which works across artforms making performance, installation, books, films and digital art.

•Camile Ucan, a comedy writer-performer and one third of comedy sketch group Birthday Girls whose podcast Birthday Girls’ House Party is available on BBC Sounds now. She has an extensive body of work in TV, film and theatre.

•Ali Taylor, an award-winning playwright and teacher who has created work for stage and radio.

•Adrian Tang, Artistic Director of Exit Pursued By Panda, a theatre company promoting the interests of East Asian writers, directors, actors and other creatives.

Reading Rep founder and artistic director Paul Stacey says: “We have loved collaborating with Paines Plough to create this unique project and it joins the educational outreach work we have been undertaking since theatres shut and Britain went into lockdown.

“The plays also allow isolated audience groups to access on-demand culture.

“We are also excited that we will host live performances of the plays when we begin our first season next year at our new theatre on King’s Road which is currently being built. We have plans that will incorporate social distancing if this is still the guidance by then.

“Meanwhile, please have a listen to the plays and learn more about what Reading means as home to all of us. We have all spent so much time in our home town for the last few months that it makes them especially poignant.”

Actors including David Bradley, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Lisa Hammond and Sally Dynevor will read the plays over the phone for isolated audiences. In total, 30 short plays are being commissioned.

More info

Links to the plays will also be available at…

Barry the pig

Round & About

Cookham

Barry the pig needs your help – his home is flooded and he can’t swim!

He lives with dogs, cats, sheep, alpacas, ponies, parrots and tortoises at the Berkshire branch of the National Animal Welfare Trust at Trindledown Farm, in Great Shefford, near Hungerford.

The ten-acre site is a rescue and rehoming centre specialising in the care of elderly animals and needs your help to stay open after being hit by flooding.

Barry hates water and the branch has launched a Just Giving campaign called Barry Can’t Swim with the aim of raising £5,000 to build ditches along the boundary to enable the flood water to drain away naturally into the flood alleviation stream further down in the village.

The centre is totally self-funded and receives no help from anywhere except its fundraising activities and relies on being open to the public for events as well as the income from the café and onsite charity shop.

Ellie Humphreys works for the charity and says: “We are flooded and on the verge of having to close the centre to the public until the water subsides.

“The rehoming of animals does not cover the cost of vets bills, accommodation or maintenance of the 20-year-old farm.

“Not only is this impacting on our funds, all of our field animals have been put on higher ground which is not ideal for elderly animals and their joints.”

And it’s far from ideal for Barry in particular. He lives with a sheep called Bjork who has special needs and was rejected by the other sheep, but now their area is becoming inaccessible.

Ellie adds: “The last time we flooded was 2014 where our fields were out of action for three months.

“Unfortunately we are in the Lambourn Valley so we receive the overflow of water from the higher ground which then runs through half our grazing land, our dog exercise areas and our car parking field.”

Not having the fields also means they cannot rotate the field animals to eat the grass so the centre is forced to buy hay and feed adding to the costs.

Help Barry

The Just Giving campaign aims to raise £5,000 to pay for the ditch work, to help click below

Journey of discovery

Round & About

Cookham

Fi Harding tells us more about Chiltern Arts Festival 2020 which takes place at various venues between Friday 28th February and Saturday 7th March

As the world celebrates 250 years since Beethoven’s birth, Chiltern Arts is celebrating overcoming adversity in the arts, with its usual array of venues including those in Henley, Marlow, Wallingford and, for the first time, Princes Risborough.

‘It’s a busy year for Chiltern Arts,” says founder and creative director Naomi Taylor, “and an exciting one! I’m particularly excited to have a theme linking all events for the first time and I hope people will get on board and follow the festival as a bit of a journey of discovery. There are also lots of opportunities to get involved as well as sitting back and enjoying; a Come and Sing day, poetry competition and Youth Music and Art Day… come and join us for what we think will be a brilliant week!”

Chiltern Arts offers an array of concerts for all musical tastes: Septura Brass Septet celebrate the music of female composers; the Come and Sing Company invite you to explore Tippett’s Five Spirituals alongside Tippett’s biographer Oliver Soden; the Marian Consort uncover the Catholic music kept under wraps in Elizabethan England; the Phoenix Piano Trio present piano trios from Beethoven and Fauré, both of whom suffered hearing loss; pianist Danny Driver presents Beethoven and the loss of Vital Senses with music from Gabriela Lena Frank and Rodrigo partnering Beethoven’s impressive Hammerklavier; and the City of London Sinfonia close with Beethoven’s famous Septet.

One of the highlights is undoubtedly a mini-residency from eminent solo percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, performing with Trio HLK a piece called Extra Sensory Perception; and we’re thrilled to be commissioning a piece from Stephen Goss for Dame Evelyn and Matthew Wadsworth. The piece will be premiered at the Candlelit Lute recital in Great Missenden on Thursday 5th March. Dame Evelyn and Matthew both also precede their respective events with pre-concert talks.

Chiltern Arts’ popular concert and dinner event returns to The Gatsby in Berkhamsted with music from members of the Piccadilly Dance Orchestra, featuring cabaret and a seven-piece band.

Three outstanding young professional ensembles feature at the festival: the Salomé String Quartet, baroque quartet Ensemble Hesperi and wind group the Magnard Ensemble. The first entirely youth-focused event features music from several local young musicians and performers, including students from the Mary Hare School for the Deaf, Amersham Music Centre, Tring School and Chiltern Music Academy, as well as a massed choir led by the Marian Consort.

More info..

The poetry competition also returns, open to writers of all ages. There’s information about all of these events online, where you can also request a brochure, buy tickets and find out how you can get involved with Chiltern Arts. You can also call the box office on 01442 920303.

Banff film festival

Karen Neville

Cookham

Picture credit: Ben Tibbetts

Celebrate the great outdoors with exhilarating stories and intrepid characters as the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour returns for 2020. 

The tour features two different collections of films from the world’s best film makers, with super-human challenges, inspiring journeys and stunning cinematography from the four corners of the globe.

The tour’s films are chosen from hundreds of entries into the Banff Mountain Film Festival, which is held every November in the Canadian Rockies. The UK and Ireland tour visits 60 locations along the way. As well as thrilling films, each event features a free prize draw for exciting outdoorsy goodies from the tour partners.

UK tour director Neil Teasdale said: “We can’t wait to share the latest inspirational films from the world’s most prestigious mountain film festival on our biggest tour yet.

“As well as exhilarating stories starring intrepid characters and pioneering journeys, an evening at Banff is a celebration of the great outdoors, with a vibrant atmosphere and a real sense of community. And we guarantee audiences will leave inspired to have an adventure of their own.”

For more information about the films and to book tickets visit www.banff-uk.com

The tour comes to Oxford’s New Theatre on28th January; The Hexagon, Reading on 29th January and 18th March; Abingdon’s Amey Theatre on 5th February; Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe on 11th February; Cheltenham’s Town Hall on 12th February and 28th April; Wyvern Theatre, Swindon on 19th February

Oxford, Reading (29th Jan), High Wycombe, Swindon and Cheltenham (12th Feb) are showing the ‘red’ series of films – Charge, Danny Day Care, The Flip, Home, Up to Speed, The Imaginary Line, The Ladakh Project and Thabang

Abingdon, Reading (18th March) and Cheltenham (28th April) are screening the ‘blue’ series of films – A Nordic Skater, Return to Earth, The High Road, Spectre Expedition – Mission Antarctica, The Frenchy, The Long Rover Home and The Running Pastor

All programmes may be subject to change.

Health research study

Round & About

Cookham

People in the Thames Valley can now find more than 100 research studies taking place in the NHS, public health and social care using a new interactive online map.

The map, at thamesvalleyresearch.nihr.ac.uk, features pins that show where studies are taking place at locations including hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes.

Users click on the pin to browse studies at that location. They can also search all studies in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and Oxfordshire by medical speciality, location, keyword (for example diabetes), postcode and study name.

After finding a study they are interested in, users visit a webpage for more information including a summary of the study, health inclusion and exclusion criteria and contact details.

The website lists studies supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands.

Prof Belinda Lennox, Clinical Director for the NIHR Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands, said: “Health research is vital for developing new treatments in the NHS and improving the quality of the care that we provide.

“We rely on the public to take part in this research, which can range from filling out a questionnaire or giving a blood sample to trialling a new medication or treatment.

“This map provides people with the opportunity to actively seek out studies that they could take part in.”

Participating in health research helps develop new treatments, improves the NHS, public health and social care services and save lives.

Studies are offered to NHS patients that are relevant to their condition. Healthy people can also take part so results can be compared to those with a condition.

We rely on the public to take part in this research

Paws for thought!

Round & About

Cookham

Shops, restaurants and businesses taking part are encouraged to display a Dog Paw sticker in their window, so dog parents, and their furry friends know they are welcome.

So far more than 50 businesses have taken part, including independent and national companies such as Barclays Bank and Clarks.  Wallingford, well known for its excellent Independent shops, has seen the benefits and taken on the campaign with great enthusiasm.  With over 26% of us being dog parents, businesses can see the benefit from a higher footfall when dogs are welcomed, as people walking into town with their dogs can visit shops, and dine at their favourite restaurants.

Le Clos wine bar & French restaurant was one of the first to welcome the idea.  Other restaurants such as Shellfish Cow also see the value, and display the Dog Paw sticker with pride. Most pubs have signed up and many even have dog-friendly rooms.

The vast array of shops taking part include the lady’s clothes shop First Edition; lifestyle shops such as Raspberry Tart and also The Lamb Arcade – an Aladdin’s Cave of antiques. The shops you would also expect in a market town are also behind the campaign including shoe repair shops, newsagents, florists and hardware stores.

Joe Quilter, one of the founders of the scheme and a dog parent to Bramble, a Cockapoo said: “After a visit to North Norfolk and seeing written signs in shops inviting dogs into their premises, I thought it not be a great idea to have a standard Dog Paw Sticker for my town so local people and visitors know they are welcome with their dogs.

People don’t like to ask, as they don’t like to be refused entry, so this takes the issue away.

I’m also a big supporter of local business, and thought this is a win-win for both dog parents and our fantastic shops, restaurants and businesses.”

Joe also mentioned the security aspect and went on to say “One in 20 dogs taken are outside shops, and I just don’t want anyone living or visiting our town to ever suffer this experience.”

Since starting the campaign, other towns and villages have signed up to the campaign including Goring, Streatley, Didcot and Pangbourne, and the Dog Paw Sticker is in print again to the reach further afield than the founding town.

Where's dog friendly?

To find out the shops, restaurants and businesses taking part

Cat’s whiskers

Round & About

Cookham

Peter Anderson chats to Roy Marsden, producer of the classic thriller Cat and The Canary at The Theatre Royal, Windsor, 15th – 25th January

Staying sane seems so simple, until 20 years after the death of Mr West, his descendants have to gather at a remote mansion to learn who will inherit his vast wealth and the hidden family jewels. When the heir is revealed, the heritage hunters turn to prey and a chain of macabre events is set in motion. Will the heirs dare to face the haunting presence toying with them? When the cat prowls, the flock takes fright…

The Cat and The Canary, the original chilling country house thriller comes to the Theatre Royal Windsor next month. Peter Anderson caught up with the producer, Roy Marsden perhaps known to many as the PD James detective, Adam Dalgliesh.

What can we look forward to with this play?” We are looking forward ourselves as rehearsals start. This is a play written in 1920s America which has seen a number of versions including a silent movie and a comedy thriller written as a vehicle for Bob Hope. Sadly, some of the play adaptions have been lost. We have moved the setting of the play from the Louisiana swamps to perhaps our most chilling of locations – Bodmin Moor.”

When did you discover your love for the theatre? “I grew up in the East End of London, and I was about eight years old when I discovered at that age you could easily travel on the Underground and nobody asked for tickets. I also found I could sneak into the gallery at the Victoria Palace Theatre. I watched the Crazy Gang, Flanagan and Allen, and the rest of them every night I was hooked. When my parents realised where I was going and what my interest was, they sorted out a kids’ drama school for me. “

Does coming to the Theatre Royal bring back happy memories for you? “I remember asking my Dad why he preferred the Theatre Royal, in Stratford East near where I grew up, to the National Theatre. He said that when you walk into the National Theatre it is the same ambience as a library, everyone talking in hushed tones. But in the Theatre Royal, if someone recognised you in the bar, they would call out and welcome you from the other side of the room.

“I love coming to the Theatre Royal – there is such a warm and welcoming atmosphere. You always get the impression that all the staff who work there are all part of one big happy family, and it is that atmosphere that really makes an audience member feel welcome when they come in to watch something.”

More info

The Cat and The Canary runs from 15th to 25th January. For tickets & more information

Driving force

Round & About

Cookham

Can you help local people in need this winter by joining Twyford Volunteer Drivers?

Mike joined Twyford Volunteer Drivers 10 years ago. “Now that I’m semi-retired I can make some space in my diary. This enables me to offer help to people who otherwise might have to rely on taxis – at some expense and probably some inconvenience. It is satisfying to be able to help people in need and who are usually very grateful. Who knows, I may need similar help in the future.”

Passengers must be able to travel without assistance. They contact the office to book lifts in advance and then driver volunteers, who are paid a mileage allowance for using their own cars, volunteer for the jobs that fit in with their schedule.  This can be as many or as few as they want.

Additional drivers are needed to ensure the service continues to run smoothly. Karen joined the volunteer drivers three years ago

“I was worried when I first began volunteer driving that I might have taken on something too time-consuming but nothing could be further from the truth. I can choose the job that suits me and there is never any pressure to do anything more. The people I meet are so interesting and I’ve learnt a lot of local history and driving shortcuts, I would never have discovered any other way. For me it has been a brilliant way to give back and it really feels like a win-win”.

Bob, who chairs a seven-strong committee which runs the charity, said: ‘We have approximately 270 people depending on us – and demand is growing.’

More info

Please call 0118 934 3010 or email [email protected]

Wintry wonders

Round & About

Cookham

Head to the River & Rowing Museum to enjoy The Snowman™ and The Snowdog Exhibition until 19th January

This year the River & Rowing Museum’s magical festive programme of activities has been inspired by the much-loved animated film The Snowman and The Snowdog, the sequel to Raymond Briggs’ classic picture book The Snowman, first published in 1978 and then adapted for screen in 1982.

The museum invites you to continue the adventure of the UK’s favourite festive characters with a beautiful exhibition and special screenings of both animated films.

Follow the wonderous adventures of The Snowman and The Snowdog, in a stunning exhibition displaying over 40 original original illustrations and sketches from the animation.  This celebration of the innocence and magic of childhood adventure will appeal to all generations. The detailed hand-drawn artwork and charming characters are universal and timeless. Together they reveal the wintery wonder and warmth that make the season special.

Take a selfie with The Snowman, dress up as your own character from the animation and join The Snowman’s party in this interactive exhibition.  Put on your own puppet show or enjoy the opportunity to curl up with a book in the story corner and dive into the magical world of The Snowman.

Screenings of the animations and an appearance from The Snowman™ will last for an hour, with an opportunity to take photos with the festive icon, making delightful memories that will last a lifetime. The perfect family festive outing.

More Info

Go to  http://rrm.co.uk and www.thesnowman.com