Making merry with Robin Hood

Round & About

Windsor

Join Robin Hood and his friends from Sherwood Forest this month in The Savill Garden, Englefield Green, thanks to an outdoor special from Chapterhouse Theatre Company

A dashing new theatre production of Robin Hood, adapted by award-winning writer Laura Turner, will be brought alive with sword play, song, dance and stunning medieval costumes. Producer Richard Main says: “The best thing, is each night is like an opening night. For the cast and audience each performance is an opening. If you imagine at the beginning of the summer the sun is high in the sky and there isn’t a star in the sky but as you work through the months the atmosphere changes. Unlike in a theatre, the audience has a chance to relax and see friends in a garden setting and there is a sense of freedom.

“I love the creative process of putting the tours together and creating the opportunities for arts to be brought to people up and down the country. I had toured Shakespeare as an actor as well, and these were always open-air productions, so the passion for gardens and being out in the open to deliver some of the most beautiful words ever written just became a part of who I was. Chapterhouse was a culmination of years of hard work and learning and I am still amazed to find myself in the very privileged position of performing at some of the most glorious venues in the world.”

Robin Hood & His Merry Men will  perform in The Savill Garden, Wick Lane, TW20 0UU, at 7pm (gates open at 5.30pm) on Monday, 27th August; tickets £11-£18. Visit www.chapterhouse.org

Drink quench marks

Round & About

Windsor

Our beautiful part of the world is full of fantastic food & drink producers. We uncork some of our favourites to enjoy this summer…

If summer joy could be encapsulated in a sound, surely it would be the “pop” of a perfectly chilled bottle? And when you’re uncorking the fruits of your own labours, success is sweet indeed…

“This land is a b***** to cultivate,” says Henry Laithwaite as he stands on the undulating Chiltern slopes alongside his wife Kaye. “It’s so flinty that the harrow kept breaking when we started working the soil, which inspired our name. But it is a very special spot.”

Indeed, this beautiful Thames Valley terroir is one of the many magical ingredients (along with lots of hard work) which have helped conjure up the lush velvety blushing fizz we uncork and sample in Harrow & Hope’s adjoining state-of-the-art winery. This non-vintage brut rosé, made exclusively from pinot noir grapes, won a gold medal in the Sommelier Wine Awards. Produced using traditional methods and the precious fruit from these relatively young vines, Harrow & Hope’s sparkling wines are flying the flag for the Great British food and drink revolution. Visit www.harrowandhope.com

Here at Round & About Magazine we are passionate (not to mention greedy and thirsty) supporters of local pubs, restaurants and producers. After all, anyone working in the food & drink industry will know all too well that it takes a lot of hard graft to create the perfect recipe for punters to enjoy.

Chalgrove Gin

Gin has seen a surge in popularity and there are some interesting local producers in this spirited part of the world. Chalgrove Artisan Distillery use juniper berries, coriander seed, angelica root, cardamon and black peppercorns, honed in an alembic copper still, to create their OX44 Gin; visit www.chalgroveartisandistillery.com.

Did you know gin started out as a medicine (it was thought to cure gout and indigestion)? In the 18th century, alcohol was safer to drink than water and gin was cheaper than beer; it was untaxed until the government cottoned on, sparking hooch production. Much of the gin was drunk by women (with historians blaming it for child neglect and citing wet nurses giving gin to babies to quieten them), landing many in debtors’ prisons or the gallows, or driving them to madness, suicide and death (hence the term Mother’s Ruin). However, these days it’s a more joyful summer spirit, and can even be considered a beauty tonic…

Young In Spirit is the world’s first company which combines spirits with pure collagen. Oxford “gintrepreneurs” Camilla Brown and Liz Beswick have earned attention from Vogue and The Daily Mail, among others for their Collagin; www.collagin.co.uk.

The artisans at Toad in Oxford craft gin, absinthe, vodka and rye whiskey worth a shot – and there’s a new cocktail bar at Bicester village; www.spiritoftoad.com. And Mr Hobbs Gin, part of the Hobbs of Henley Experience, has launched two new fruit flavoured gin liqueurs; Rhubarb & Ginger and Raspberry & Elderflower www.mrhobbsgin.co.uk 

Is beer your tipple? Hoppy bunnies are spoilt for choice. For tours, tastings and hearty ales, check out Witney’s wondrous Wychwood Brewery (www.wychwood.co.uk). Cirencester’s Corinium Ales (www.coriniumales.co.uk), Chipping Norton’s Hook Norton Brewery www.hooky.co.uk. A passion for good beer and social justice fuel Botley’s Tap Social, where the team offer live music and street food every Friday and Saturday in August as well as the monthly comedy night and reggae night, www.tapsocialmovement.com. Ciderniks near Kintbury has been making natural ciders, pure apple juice and cider vinegar since 2003; www.ciderniks.com

Spice up your life…

Variety is the spice of life and there are so many restaurants to enjoy this summer. Michelin-starred Atul Kochhar (the father of Benares in London and Sindhu in Marlow) hosts Indian nights in August at his divine Hawkyns in Amersham; www.hawkynsrestaurant.co.uk. The Bottle & Glass Inn in Binfield has made a splash, gaining a nod from Harden’s Guide and a Michelin Plate; www.bottleandglassinn.com. For summer dining in style, check out The French Horn in Sonning (www.thefrenchhorn.co.uk), The Crooked Billet in Stoke Row (www.thecrookedbillet.co.uk) and The Nelson in Brightwell Baldwin www.thenelsonbrightwell.co.uk. Feast on fresh Lebanese and Middle Eastern delicacies (many vegan or veggie) including colourful salads and wraps at Comptoir Libanais in Oxford’s Westgate; www.comptoirlibanais.com
We also love the rustic summer vibes of The Highwayman (www.thehighwaymaninn-checkendon.co.uk). Cheers!

So, we’d like to know what’s your favourite pub or restaurant and why? Join in the conversation and comment below.

Flying high with Alice Marshall

Round & About

Windsor

Peter Anderson chats to Alice Marshall, winner of the Brighton Fringe Best Comedy Award ahead of her shows this month.

Alice Marshall has won plaudits for her weird and wonderful characters, including bold and brassy Hispanic air stewardess Maria, once dubbed “the angriest woman in the skies”. Now she’s welcoming the Farnham audience on board for their 50-minute, non-stop flight into the Twilight Zone.

So, I want to ask Alice, where do the ideas for your characters come from?

“My characters come from all over the place. Some of them are heightened versions of different aspects of my own personality, some of them are based on people I’ve met in real life, and some of them are coping mechanisms I’ve invented to help me get through difficult situations. I came up with the main character in my new show, Maria the air hostess, to help me deal with my intense fear of flying. By turning myself into her, I can sometimes convince myself I’m not going to die at 30,000 ft.”

What can visitors expect from this show?

“My shows are something a little out of the ordinary. The characters are incredibly varied, and the concept of the show is also a little unusual… it  won’t be like anything you’ve seen before.”

Is there a place or venue you would really love to perform?

“As both a comedian and an actor there’s definitely a part of me that finds traditional West End theatres completely magical. I would love to do a show in one of them one day – The Apollo on Shaftesbury Avenue is my favourite; it’s spectacular. That would be a dream come true…”

Comedy can be a tough gig – one you are excelling at with flying colours! What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever had to help counter the nerves?

“Always look towards your next show; never get hung up on what you’ve just done. Whether a performance has gone brilliantly or terribly, it doesn’t matter. Don’t weigh your self worth based on what an audience thinks! If they love you, don’t get carried away. If they hate you, don’t let it affect what you do. It’s not about you, it’s about the work you’re making and that has to be all that matters.”

Alice Marshall will perform at Norden Farm Centre For The Arts on Thursday, 5th July; visit Norden Farm or call 01628 788997 and on Saturday, 14th July; visit  Cutty Sark Theatre or call 020 8312 6608 to book. Also visit www.alicemarshall.co.uk

By Royal Approval

Round & About

Windsor

Anne Denholm, Official Harpist to HRH Prince of Wales will perform one of Mozart’s most popular works for Grayshott Concerts on Friday, 15th June.

The harp is an important national instrument in Wales, and although the role of Official Harpist to the Royal Household, was discontinued during the reign of Queen Victoria. HRH Prince of Wales restored the position in 2000 in order to foster and encourage young musical talent.

The Prince of Wales has a £150,000 gold leaf harp, made by Italian harp makers Salvi Harps. It is this harp that is used by the official harpist, who is currently Anne Denholm, the sixth Royal Harpist. Her recent role was to keep the guests entertained during the Royal Wedding last month.

But you can have your very, own special performance with Anne, at St Luke’s Church, Grayshott, this month, on Friday, 15th June. She will perform Mozart’s Flute and Harp Concerto with award-winning flautist Emma Halnan, winner of the Arts Club-Sir Karl Jenkins-Classic FM Competition in 2016.

Patron, Sir Karl Jenkins, says: “This concert brings a number of strands together. The harp is particularly dear to my heart, so it’s a pleasure to see Mozart’s Concerto performed in Grayshott by Anne and Emma.

The programme will also include Debussy’s Dances Sacred and Profane for Harp and Strings, composed in 1904, accompanied by Grayshott Concerts’ orchestra-in-residence, the illustrious London Mozart Players. Also featured in the programme will be Britten’s Prelude and Fugue and Mozart’s Divertimento in D.

Tickets and more information at www.grayshottconcerts.co.uk.

Elegant Equine

Round & About

Windsor

The Royal Horse Show celebrates 75 years at Windsor Castle, writes Rachel Wakefield

Windsor Castle will once again open its gates to the public for the Royal Windsor Horse Show, from Wednesday, 9th until Sunday, 13th May, for a spectacular 75th year.

With all eyes on Windsor ahead of the highly anticipated Royal wedding the following week, more than 55,000 spectators are expected to attend for top-class sporting action, entertainment and shopping across the five days.

This event is respected as a world-class equestrian competition. Last year, there was more than 3,000 entries; and, because of its upgrade to 5-star status, attracts the sports’ most prominent competitors. It is also the only show in the UK to host four of the eight The International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI) disciplines: show jumping; dressage, carriage driving and endurance.

The CSI5* Show Jumping category will return to the Castle Arena from Friday, 11th until Sunday, 13th May. It also includes a Saturday evening performance, with the climax of the action, being the Rolex Grand Prix taking place on the final day. Current World No.1 and reigning champion, Kent Farrington will be returning from injury to defend his title. Speaking after his victory in 2017, Kent said: “The Royal Windsor Horse Show, is one of my favourite shows. There’s a combination of, amazing setting, an unbelievable crowd, top course designing and great footing.”

The CDI4* Al Shira’aa Dressage Grand Prix and Freestyle to Music category will take place on the evenings of Thursday, 10th and Friday, 11th May respectively. Riders will have the unique opportunity to be judged by Susan Hoevenaars, one of the judges at the upcoming FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018, an unmissable chance for hopefuls heading there this September.

The CAIO4* Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix, a FEI World Cup™ qualifier adds to the roster of top international competition.Competitive Endurance action will take to Windsor Great Park on Friday, 11th May, as the CEI2* Royal Windsor Endurance supported by The Kingdom of Bahrain sets off about 120km of the countryside of Windsor and Ascot for the ultimate test of stamina for both horse and rider.

More than 120 showing classes will join the four FEI disciplines in the action-packed schedule with many of HM The Queen’s horses regularly in the starting line-ups. Competitors will strive to follow in the footsteps of HM The Queen’s Barbers Shop to be crowned Royal Windsor Supreme Showing Champion on the final day.

Visit www.rwhs.co.uk or call 01753 860633

Great expectations

Round & About

Windsor

Youngsters – of all ages, from tots to teens – can enjoy a taste of wildlife and the countryside thanks to volunteers helping with events in Windsor Great Park, writes Peter Anderson

There are lots of super-natural events in Windsor Great Park’s educational centre.

Windsor Great Park Environmental Centre is an exciting five-year partnership project between the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust and The Crown Estate. From the Nature Tots to the Young and Teen Ranger meetings, there are monthly sessions where children can get real hands-on experience of life in the countryside, and the flora and fauna you can find here, with guidance from skilled supervisors.

Nature Tots is a parent-and-toddler group with a difference. You can head along with your pre-school little one and introduce them to the great outdoors. The 90-minute sessions spend about the first 15 minutes outside before coming indoors and there are a wide-range of activities to spark their curiosity and have fun in natural surroundings. Each session will include seasonal nature discovery, games, crafts and lots of fun! Story-time and drinks also included. Children must be accompanied by a supervising adult, and younger brothers and sisters are welcome.

Young Rangers is a monthly wildlife group which meets in the early evening for children aged between eight and 12. Here they can become nature detectives and find all about the birds, bats, deer, mini-beasts and more, which live in the park and forest. Activities include pond-dipping, bug hunts, animal tracking, shelter building and bushcraft. Drinks will also be provided during the sessions, and they will require a signed consent form from an adult. There are two sessions per month, but the second one is a repeat to allow for any children who cannot make the first session.

Teen Rangers is a monthly group of budding naturalists aged between 12 and 16 who meet in the early evening. Here you can spend time in the forest discovering who and what lives there, but it may not be them you spot first! You may need to use your tracking skills, but you will have skilled volunteers and trainers from BBOWT to help you with that, as well as shelter-building and bushcraft, as you learn all about the flora and fauna in this marvellous location.

For further information on dates, times and suggested donations, please visit www.bbowt.org.uk. The website also has information on other events organised by the trust and how you can donate to help the valuable work BBOWT does to protect and preserve natural surroundings around the three counties.

Have you tried a TFKC?

Round & About

Windsor

Malaysian, Portuguese and a sprinkling of London sophistication is what inspires the cusine created by husband and wife team Test Kitchen Food, writes Rachel Wakefield

The Test Kitchen van has been seducing late night drinkers, near the Windsor and Eton Brewery, for more than a year now. It’s also been turning heads every Saturday morning near the Loading Bay Cafe, with its tasty, cooked-to-order food.

It’s easy to understand why – just talking to owner, Milly O’Connor about what she serves is beyond distracting. Take for example, the popular Super Bon Bon: marinated pork loin, in paprika, garlic and thyme, grilled and served with melted cheese, fried mushrooms and a garlic aioli sauce, in a ciabatta roll. Or, the TKFC: deboned chicken thighs, marinated in mirin sauce, soy sauce, garlic and ginger, then covered in sweet potato flour, deep fried and finished with a maple syrup and soy glaze, with a spiracha dip. In my mouth!

Milly and her husband John, who is the chef, met through a mutual love of food. She was managing the Kensington restaurant and nightclub, Dirty Bones, he was a cook at Fulham’s Malthouse. They both have interesting foodie heritages, he’s from Portugal and her mother is Malaysian.

“I was nine months pregnant when we bought the food truck,” recalls Milly. We had just moved back to my home town of Windsor, as we had made a decision to bring up our son Salvador here. “We had this idea to bring the London, foodie sophistication in the neighbourhood.”

It has not taken John long to establish good relationships, with his main supplier being the Royal Windsor Farm Shop. “Our menu is based on good, local, seasonal produce and Tony, the butcher always delivers from there,” says Milly.

“We called the business Test Kitchen Food, because we wanted to be flexible in the food we offered. Not sticking to one style of cuisine.”

The adventurous pair will be curating a foodie event on Friday, 25th May, called Hawkers Bazaar. This event is inspired by the vibrant night markets and hawker centres of Malaysia. It will take place at the Loading Bay Cafe, Vansittart Estate, Windsor SL4 1SE. It will be a showcase of local talent including an experimental cocktail truck, an exotic ice cream roll trader, lots of authentic hawker style food plus local musicians performing late into the night. Tickets available to book online, visit: www.eventbrite.co.uk

To keep up-to-date with what’s cooking in the kitchen, take a look on the Facebook page @testkitchenfood.

Free Spirit

Round & About

Windsor

Her Majesty chose The Free Spirit Horse Memorial Project as a partner for this year’s Royal Windsor Horse Show, writes Rachel Wakefield

The Free Spirit Horse Memorial Project, is a charity which acknowledges the horse’s unfaltering service to mankind throughout history, through war, sport, industry, therapy and recreation. This charity has been announced as the official partner of Royal Windsor Horse Show, taking place from Wednesday, 9th to Sunday, 13th May, in the private grounds of Windsor Castle.

The project has been created to raise funds for a memorial, named The Free Spirit Horse Memorial, which will be located at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and will be unveiled, this year, to coincide with the centenary anniversary of the end of the First World War.

The memorial will be accessible to able bodied and disabled people, providing a tactile as well as a visual experience, with seating for reflection and contemplation, information plaques in braille for those who are visually impaired, Makaton symbols and dyslexia approved font to aid communication. This accessibility was of paramount importance to the project organisers as it mirrors the horse, who does not judge but treats and respects each person as an individual, bringing together all members of the community without prejudice.

As part of its charitable aims, the Free Spirit project also provides education around the role of the horse through art, music and history to ensure that the significance of the horse is taught to future generations.

The project has released a charity single to help raise funds which is downloadable through Spotify and I-Tunes. The song brings together young people from a variety of backgrounds and is an expression of their thoughts and feelings in regards to the horse now, and in the future.

Ambassador of the project, Sarah Clegg says the song is: “Sensitively written and beautifully performed, the Free Spirit Song represents the very best of young creativity in honouring the horse.”

Horse Show director, Simon Brooks-Ward says: “We are delighted to be supporting The Free Spirit Horse Memorial Project. Royal Windsor Horse Show is an annual celebration of top equestrian sport and entertainment, so this partnership is a natural fit, commemorating the role of horses in society, past and present.”

Further information on events that pay tribute to this honourable and emotive creatureå can be found at www.freespiritmemorial.co.uk

Digging deep

Round & About

Windsor

Peter Anderson chats to history buff and television star Sir Tony Robinson.

Q. What sparked your interest in history; was it Baldric as Blackadder went through the centuries?!
“It goes back to when I was a child and my dad told me of his time in World War II. He was posted to Scotland, met up with some Canadian soldiers and spent the war touring in a Canadian dance band. That made me think of him as a child learning what his father had done, and his father before him – the continuum of history.”

Q. Of all the stories of folklore, why do you think King Arthur has lasted so well?
“The Dark Ages are shrouded in mystery, but the stories of King Arthur held a romantic appeal. They were also seized upon by the Norman Kings keen to use their lineage from King Arthur to legitimise their claim to the throne. They sought to publicise all the stories that came out regarding King Arthur’s time.”

Q. What’s the significance of Round Tables?
“The Round Tables were a common item at tournaments as everyone could be equal in standing and speak. There is an example at York where guests sat in niches around the table and stepped forward to speak. But the best thing to compare is the corporate boxes around modern-day sports grounds like Wembley, where a lot of networking can be conducted alongside the sport or entertainment.”

Q. Did your time with the experts on Time Team,
including Jonathan, prepare you for this next event?
“Jonathan impressed me when he appeared on Time Team, and we have been friends ever since. He is an archaeologist, but specialises in standing archaeology, a lot of the work in Time Team was looking at holes in the ground and assessing what had been there; his expertise is looking at buildings still standing. He can look at a building and then guide you through clues he has spotted to all the various phases of construction within it. It is a remarkable skill.”

Q. Do you have a favourite period of history and would you fancy travelling back to it?
“I think Ellen Degeneres was right when she said now is the best time. There are so many things we take for granted now that were not available. However, from a point of intellectual curiosity I would love to go back to the time of King Alfred I. I find it so intriguing that someone could go from a small kingdom in the South West of England and in the space of a couple of years take on the invading Vikings, beat them and have the leader of the Vikings paraded through the streets wearing white and converting to Christianity. I would so love to find out how he achieved it.”

Q. Is there anything from history you’d still like to do a programme or talk on?
“So many! But the main one would be a programme that shows wars were not won so much by fighting on the battlefield but by organisation, the ability to move troops and equipment quickly, to supply them. I was lucky enough to film out in the middle of the Sahara Desert, in the middle of nowhere, the shifting sands had cleared to reveal a metalled road thrown up quickly by the Germans in World War II to move equipment. Now taken back and covered by the desert sands…”

Q. Who would be your perfect dinner party guests?
“King Alfred, Archbishop Asser, Oliver Cromwell, Sir Francis Walsingham, William and Robert Cecil. We are a little light on the ladies, so I think Eleanor of Aquitaine; rumour has it she was the one who was running the country.”

Q. Is there anything we could learn today from the Age of Chivalry?
“Definitely: the Chivalric Code held people together in times of crisis. It was a code of politeness, being honourable, with honesty and courtesy.”