Indulge in the Foodie Festival

Round & About

Oxfordshire

Enjoying food with your family, is always a great combination, add music, great attractions and a festival and that’s a whole new take on fun!

Food and family, always go together, add music, great attractions and a festival and that’s a whole new take on fun!

The Foodies Festival returns, with a whole lot of master and bake off chefs all descending on South Park, Headington over the Bank Holiday weekend, August 25-27.

Included in the star-studded line up of culinary geniuses, is MasterChef 2018 runner-up Nawamin Pinpathomrat and Kenny Tutt, the bank manager who beat him to the MasterChef 2018 title. Both will be cooking their favourite dishes in the Chefs’ Theatre.

Great British Bake Off winner Sophie Faldo, the TV contest runner up, Steven Carter Bailey and Italian chef Giancarlo Caldesi, who presented the BBC2 series, Road to Tuscany, will also cook live.

Local chefs Paul Bell, of the Cherwell Boathouse, Paul Wellburn, The Oxford Kitchen and Chris Bentham, The Black Boy gastropub, will share their signature dishes in the chefs’ theatre.

Street Food Avenue features more than 30 food stalls and a chance to sample and buy from more than 100 artisan producers taking festival-goers on a culinary trip of the globe.

This year the festival will also celebrate live music into the night on the newly-launched stage with performances from much-loved 90s headliners Toploader, power pop group Dodgy and hugely admired band The Hoosiers.

Supported by Musicians Against Homelessness, the live music stage will see talented emerging bands and solo artists perform with tickets raising money for UK-wide homelessness charity Crisis.

As well as lots to see and eat, there are a mouth-watering array of attractions including fun cream-pie throwing, chilli-eating and cheese-stretching contests.

Visitors can try their hand at chocolate-making, cake decorating and brewing health-boosting Kombucha tea.

The Drinks Theatre will welcome expert mixologists and sommeliers to the stage and give wine-buffs a chance to sample varieties from around the world. And, thirst-quenching cocktails will be available at Tequila Shack, Tikki Rum Bar and Gin Station.

Younger foodies can have fun in the Kids Cookery Theatre, craft area and play zone with bouncy castle and face painting. A ferris wheel and carousel will add to the festival atmosphere.

Naturally, you’ll want to be at this ‘gastronomical’ event and the festival organisers have partnered up with Round & About Magazine to offer visitors, two for one tickets.

Simply visit www.foodiesfestival.com and type in the code: FOODIES241 or call 0844 9951111 

Wheelyboat fundraising appeal

Round & About

Oxfordshire

A Wheelyboat will really help The Wallingford Accessible Boat Club (WABC) members. Can you help them reach their £65,000 target?

WABC Wheelyboat

The Wallingford Accessible Boat Club (WABC) mission is to make “messing about on the river” enjoyable for everyone. It is a voluntary, community organisation where able-bodied and disabled folk are encouraged to participate independently in river-borne experiences, such as picnicking, fishing and boating on the Wallingford stretch of The Thames.

A wheelchair-accessible powerboat, the Coulam Wheelyboat V20, will make access a reality for all members of the WABC. It is a boat that has a drop-down bow facility that allows wheelchair users the ability to simply roll on to the flat bottom of the boat. ”

To get a Wheelyboat,  the WABC need £65,000.  Three major donors have come forward to give this community project a great start to its drive, but they are hoping the public can help them reach their final target.

Andrew Risk, WABC, head of marketing and communications, says: “We have been extremely fortunate in attracting three significant early donations which have given us a real head start to our fundraising appeal.  We are very grateful to the donors for their help at this time –‘early money’ makes such a difference.  Now the hard work is to keep the momentum going.  I appeal to individuals, grant-making organisations and local companies to please help us.  Any financial assistance, small or large, will be much appreciated, as it will improve the quality of life for many local, disabled people.”

Please donate via www.wabc.org.uk or email andrew.risk@wabc.org.uk

Mud in your eye

Round & About

Oxfordshire

Reaching your full potential is the name of the game at Abingdon RFC, writes Sam Colmer, the club’s chairman of the mini and youth teams

Abingdon RFU

Abingdon Rugby Club is a community club with a current emphasis of encouraging every player to achieve full potential while enjoying both the sporting and social aspects of the game.

Founded in 1931, Abingdon RUFC boasts a playing membership of 250+ with a full range of Mini and Junior teams to compliment the three senior sides.

Abingdon RFU

Fully qualified coaching is available to those of any age or gender who wish to improve performance or who have simply never played the sport and want to give it a go!

We enjoy our own dedicated facilities of a large modern clubhouse with four pitches and a floodlit training area. For any further information or details of membership opportunities (playing or otherwise), please don’t hesitate to contact us.

The Mini/Juniors Rugby Season at Abingdon RUFC starts on the first Sunday in September, and the Senior sides kick off the second Saturday in September.

Abingdon RFC Minis welcomes players from age 5 years to 16 years. The practical lower age limit is 6 although well co-ordinated rising 5s would not be turned away.

As a club we are proud to champion Rugby’s core values of Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship which we hope inspires  lifelong bonds between the children, adults and a our sport.

Our philosophy within the Minis and juniors section is to put the children at the heart of everything we do and all the decisions that we make, that is why we have taken the Quilter Kids First Pledge for the U7-U13 age grades.

Abingdon RFU
Abingdon RFU

Within the U14 – U18 age grades  our core values are strongly upheld and the ethos is to be competitive and to enjoy winning but not at all costs, as it’s the fun of playing with your mates that we as a club support above all.

We have an amazing group of RFU qualified and very dedicated coaches who help create a safe, fun and inclusive environment for our children to learn and prosper through rugby.

Using rugby union as a vehicle for developing a young  person’s “Personal and Social” skills can have a dramatic impact an all aspects of their life.

We also have a Colts team and 2 Senior sides and it doesn’t matter how old you are if you can run around and pass a ball we will welcome you with open arms.

Senior preseason training starts are currently runing every Tuesday and Thursday. We welcome anyone over the age of 17, to senior preseason training – whether you have never touched a rugby ball in your life or are a seasoned pro, we welcome you to join in.

Abingdon RFU

We also run the RFU O2 touch rugby session on a Sunday throughout the summer and mid

O2 Touch is a fun and friendly non contact game environment for both men and women of all abilities to get involved in touch rugby.  Whether its about honing your fitness or having a great time exercising as a group, this is social fitness at its best.

For more information call 01235 553810 or visit www.abingdonrufc.co.uk

Dive in to some terrific tales!

Round & About

Oxfordshire

Take your little minnows to see Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales, adapted from the best-selling books by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, at Oxford Playhouse

Prepare to go under the sea, out on the farm and into the jungle, as four terrific tales are bought to life on stage with live music, puppetry and a host of colourful characters

Funky moves, toe-tapping tunes and giggles are guaranteed from beloved Julia Donaldson titles Tiddler, Monkey Puzzle, The Smartest Giant in Town and A Squash and a Squeeze.

Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales weaves together four stories by the multi award-winning author of some of the world’s best loved children’s books, most notably the modern classic The Gruffalo which has sold more than 13 million copies worldwide. Julia is best known for her popular rhyming stories for children, especially those illustrated by Axel Scheffler, which include Zog, Stick Man and Room on the Broom. Tiddler and other Terrific Tales is directed by Sally Cookson, with music and lyrics by Benji Bower, design by Katie Sykes, lighting design by Elanor Higgins and musical direction by Brian Hargreaves. The puppetry and associate director is Chris Pirie, and the associate director is Georgia Green. The cast features Maryam Grace, Anna Larkin and Alex Tosh.

Tickets for Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales, from Wednesday, 22nd until Saturday, 25th August. Call the ticket office on 01865 305305 or visit www.oxfordplayhouse.com

Guess how many macarons?

Round & About

Oxfordshire

Guess the correct amount of macarons in this tower, and you could win four tickets to the all-star Didcot Food Festival!

Saturday, October 27th serves up the third glorious helping of foodie and community fun, courtesy of Christine Wallace and Jeanette Howse of Well Preserved and the founder of the annual Didcot Food Festival. Christine says: “Of all the good things that have come out of appearing on one of the most successful programmes of all time, Great British Bake Off, becoming so involved with my home town is one of the best. We formed Didcot Events and one of these events is this wonderful festival which is my particular ‘baby’.”

Benoit Blin from Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons will open the event, 10am-4pm, which also offers mouth-watering street food, live music, a vintage café, local food and drink producers, lots of fun for the whole family and the chefs’ theatre. Among the stars cooking up a storm will be Nick Bennett and Andrew Scott of the acclaimed Restaurant 56 at Sudbury House Hotel in Faringdon. Andrew says: “I look forward to Didcot Food Festival every autumn for its great food producers and excellent demo kitchen.” Nick adds: “At Didcot last year we had a great time demoing our dishes, and interacting with the audience. Make sure you come this year!”

Christine has created this wondrous tower of sweet treats. Can you guess how many macarons (including spares and breakages) it took Christine to build it (FYI the “macaron” is the whole cake with the filling)? Please email lnicholls@roundandabout.co.uk (subject line “Macaron tower”) before 1st September and the person whose guess is closest will win four tickets to Didcot Food Festival.

Visit www.didcotevents.co.uk

Drink quench marks

Round & About

Oxfordshire

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.

Awakening the dragon!

Round & About

Oxfordshire

Crowd participation will be very welcome this Saturday, 28th July, as The Henley Dragons celebrate it’s new racing boat with a naming ceremony – Boaty Mcboatface is not an option – but a rather more superstitious tradition will be followed. Club secretary Cat Cassell tells us all about it…

The Henley Dragons, who are part of the Eyot Centre, have recently accepted delivery of a new racing dragon boat. We are now in the throes of organising a ‘Naming of the Boat’ ceremony to be held on Saturday, 28th July, at 7pm, which is traditionally called ‘Awakening the Dragon’. We thought it would be a great opportunity to invite the public to come and celebrate this with us. We are to hold this event on the riverside at Hobbs of Henley who are sponsoring this event.

Rowers at Henley Dragon Club
Rowers at Henley Dragon Club

By way of background, in ancient China, the Dragon Boat with ornately carved dragon’s head and tail, was used for religious purposes as a way of appeasing the rain gods. The history of dragon boats can be traced back to more than 2,000 years ago, along the banks of the life-sustaining rivers in Southern China, such as the Chang Jiang (now the Yangtze).

There are two main legends popularly related to the custom of racing dragon boats.

Awakening the dragon – Chinese Dragon Boat Festival

The traditional Chinese Dragon Boat Festival is held on the 5th day of the 5th Chinese lunar month (varying from late May to middle June), which is traditionally considered a month of death and disease, evil and darkness, due to the high, summer temperatures (in China). Therefore, venerating the awakening Dragon was meant to avert misfortune and encourage rainfall, needed for the fertility of crops and prosperity of the people.

The Dragon Boat Festival was primarily held as a ceremony to awaken the hibernating ‘Heavenly Dragon’. Sacrifices, sometimes human, were involved in this ritual and it could be a violent clash with the crew members of the competing boats throwing stones and striking each other with cane sticks. Originally, paddlers (or even an entire team) falling into the water could receive no assistance from onlookers as the accident was considered to be due to the will of this ‘Dragon Deity’ and could not be interfered with; and, if people drowned it was considered a sacrifice for the greater good.

Dotting of the Eye Ceremony

The ceremony called ‘Eye Dotting’ or ‘Awakening the Dragon ‘traditionally involves a Taoist priest dotting the protruding eyes of the dragon head carved on the boats, thus ending its slumber. The ceremony is practiced at many Dragon Boat events throughout the world today. 

Traditional Chinese Lion dancers
Traditional Chinese Lion dancers

We have invited the new Mayor of Henley, Councillor Glen Lambert, to perform the ‘dotting of the eye’ – awakening of the dragon. The ceremony, in respect to Chinese custom, will open the dragon’s eyes, ward off evil spirits and prepare the river for voyage. The ceremony not only blesses and cleanses the area for competition, but also the spectators and competitors.  It is considered very bad luck to paddle or race in a dragon boat that has not been properly awakened or has its eyes closed.

This whole ceremony will be a big celebration and spectacle at the awakening of the dragon.  Among the naming, a traditional lion dance will be performed around the boat. We have engaged with the local lion dancers who will be putting on a vibrant, loud and spectacular performance for us, to share in our celebrations.

Everyone is welcome to attend this free evening event, with the ‘dragon awakening’ at 7pm.

Visit www.henleydragons.online

Summer favourites from Atul Kochhar

Liz Nicholls

Oxfordshire

We asked Atul Kochhar the twice Michelin-starred chef, and owner of Benares in London, Sindhu in Marlow and many other restaurants, about his summer favourites

Atul Kolchhar
Atul Kolchhar

Q: What’s your favourite kitchen gadget?
“I wouldn’t be without a wok or a karahi. A slightly heavier wok is best as you can stew, braise and fry. It’s a good idea to season a new wok before using it for the first time; Put plenty of salt in and heat then take a kitchen cloth and rub the salt all over the sides and base, wash with weak soapy water and dry.”

Q. What’s your fave al fresco dish?
“Anything I can do on the barbecue, meat, vegetables or fruit. You don’t need to add lots of spice; keeping it simple with salt, pepper and lemon juice is ideal. Try to retain the juices as much as you can by grilling on a high heat so the food seals quickly and retains flavour.”

Q. Do you have a favourite pub or restaurant?
“I love The Footman in Mayfair where, once in a while, I go for a pint with my team. A great place.”

Q. What about a fave farm shop or supplier?
Laverstoke Park Farm [in Basingstoke] does the best cheese, especially buffalo mozzarella.”

Q. Which British summer produce do you love?
“Early this year I made a pact with the family to spend less time travelling and more time at home so I’m mostly in the UK. Strawberries are my favourite. Chard and rhubarb I love, too, especially at this time of year. Chard is best blanched quickly, used in the same way as spinach. If I’m cooking a chicken curry I’d add the whole leaf to the pot – which makes it slightly salty but amazing, since it absorbs all the juices. The eating is fantastic! If you’re a vegetarian chard is a great option.”

Visit www.atulkochar.com

Feast of fun

Liz Nicholls

Oxfordshire

Liz Nicholls chats to musician, cheese maker and dad Alex James, 49, ahead of The Big Feastival which takes place 24th-26th August, in the Cotswolds

Q: How do you start planning each new Big Feastival?
“The first thing we do is invite The Cuban Brothers and Justin Fletcher; then we’ve got a party. Justin turns up and marches on stage with his little red nose on to sing One Man Went To Mow and brings the house down, without fail, every year. As time goes on it gets easier to attract the big stars. I’m delighted Marco [Pierre White] is involved this year; the whole British food revival started with him. Raymond Blanc and Pierre Koffmann complete the trio of culinary granddaddies.”

Q. Do you love the local food scene?
“Totally. We’re lucky with such a brilliant culture of food, starting with Daylesford just up the road and that’s drawn loads of brilliant chefs to the area. I love all the great pop-ups, farmers, producers…”

Q. Do you get to enjoy the festival once all the hard prep work is done?
“Yes; it takes all my charms and the odd cheese parcel, as well as loads of hard work. But when the sun’s shining and everyone’s jumping up and down, having a good time, it’s worth it. I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun as this – it’s an absolute scream. I get the whole family involved; everyone’s got a role.”

Q. You make parenting look easy, with your big brood!
“Haha! Yeah but I do get stressed too, man. Having a big family teaches you to roll with the punches, focus on the horizon, keep pushing.”

Q. You seem very productive?
“I’ve made five children, six cheeses and seven records. That’s the only reason I can do a food, music and family festival. You’ve got to care to make it happen.”

Q. How do you stay so svelte, making so much cheese!?
“Thanks for saying; I don’t feel it! I’ve got two new cheeses out this year so each one is quite a bit of time in the gym. It’s difficult not to invent cheese without eating loads of f***ing cheese!”

Q. Where do you want to travel next?
“Marco and I were talking about this the other day – he wants to go round Europe. South America, for me, is mind-blowing. The last time I was in Chile with the band I had a great meal and there wasn’t one ingredient I recognised. There’s interest in doing a festival down there, actually. I love travelling as a family; it’s so easy to travel in the 21st century.”

Q. Do you still love astronomy?
“Yeah; I watch lots of videos on YouTube; science, physics. It’s a good way to zone out at the end of a long day. Since the kids arrived I’ve got more down-to-earth concerns but my love of astronomy has gone into a more abstract realm of higher maths.”

Q. Who’s your favourite author?
“I like to re-read those books I’ve always loved, especially Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson.”

Visit www.thebigfeastival.com

Hurry! Enter for our The Big Feastival Competition – ends Friday, 27th July

Super natural photography

Round & About

Oxfordshire

Local photographer and wildlife enthusiast Ewan Jones shares his love of all creatures great and small, right on our doorstep

Feathered, furry, scaly or smooth, I love animals of all shapes and sizes. As a small boy, my bookshelf was full of monumental wildlife encyclopedias.

Growing up in Dorchester on Thames and moving to Clifton Hampden at the age of eleven, I was blessed with seeing countless creatures that many from my generation have not had the privilege of.

I distinctly remember one Sunday morning, my parents excitedly whispering across the kitchen to alert me to the spectacle in the garden. There, in all its splendour, was a tiny weasel running back and forth to the garden shed, climbing up the walls, crawling underneath it, at a pace that even made a child tired. I think I fell in love.

As a young adult, I shared my nature passion with a special friend. We’d go on walks together in the hope of seeing mustelids, especially weasels or stoats… Any nature-lover could have told you I was practically hoping to win the lottery. My friend had a camera, a pretty good Canon with a decent lens. While I was looking on, in the hope of a miracle, they’d stop at every tree, attempting a snap of any bird or butterfly that crossed our trail.

At first I was rather unimpressed by their slowing of my searches, but when I saw their results when we got home, my preferences quickly began to change. It was no longer all about the mustelids, it was about the joy and the beauty of all the creatures, and capturing them in a moment of perfection. It was time I got myself a camera.

Many pass-me-downs and purchases later, I am a well-prepared twitcher. I’ll travel far and wide to get a chance of adding new bird species to my collection. I’m lucky to have a Spanish mother so I can travel to the country, which is simply jam-packed with African migrant species.

Yes, I have a life list. Yes, I have my favourites. But to me, wildlife photography is about capturing the perfect posture, in perfect colour, in exquisite detail. Only then, is that beautiful creature yours.

Ewan’s tips!

Photography is subjective; everybody has a different view on what makes a beautiful photo. If you are a fan of colourful lighting, get yourself up at the crack of dawn for the early-morning sunlight. If you’re a fan of scientific accuracy and crisp detail, save up your pennies and splash out on quality gear. To locate rare species, especially local birds, I highly recommend www.oxonbirding.blogspot.co.uk. My humble advice to anyone wishing to take wonderful photos of nature is to start simple, put the hours in, explore your passion. Just get out there and take photos of everything that moves…. Oh, and a little photography course won’t go amiss, either.