Botley, Cumnor & Summertown
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
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
Botley, Cumnor & Summertown
The popular annual Wallingford Vehicle Rally & Parade has been cancelled this year but the organisers are keeping their fingers crossed for a ‘mini lockdown parade’ on August 2nd.
They say: “We are currently in negotiations to hold a short driving tour around the area on Sunday 2nd August for all those purchased any ticket for this year’s event.
“We are currently working on a route that won’t cause disruption to the usual traffic and will contact everyone via email very soon with details.”
It will be free of charge, but they ask you make a small donation in the collection buckets on the day or via the crowd funder link that will be set up nearer the time so we can then share this with the local charitable causes who usually benefit and are struggling for funding during these trying times.
Organisers added: “Thank you for your patience, we are disappointed we are unable to hold the event this year but the health of participants, traders, staff and general public have to be our prime concern. Stay safe and we will be in touch with ticket holders this week and please keep an eye on our social media for updates for Sunday 2nd August 2020 mini lockdown parade.”
Botley, Cumnor & Summertown
Young people are being urged to help shape West Oxfordshire District Council’s response to the climate emergency.
Students, schools and youngsters from across the district are invited to express their views and ideas in a special online consultation at www.westoxon.gov.uk/environment/climate-action
As part of that WODC have arranged a competition which encourages them to get creative and submit their art to express how they feel about climate change and how their perfect, future world would look.
All entries will be considered whether working alone, with siblings or as a team of remotely-working friends. The cross-party Climate Action Working Group will be judging the entries and sharing with you all their favourites.
Post your videos – songs, raps, poems, dance, whatever grabs you – to describe what climate change means for you. Let them know what you’d like to see happen to make a change for the better and help protect the natural world.
Share your videos with everyone by posting them using this hashtag #climateactionwoxon.
If you love to draw, paint or take photographs, use the medium of art to describe your perfect, future world where we have come together and successfully tackled the issues of climate change.
What does your perfect world look like? Are we still driving cars? What do our buildings and homes look like? How do we heat and power them? What jobs are we doing? What technologies are we using? How are we living with nature? And what do our natural landscapes and pathways to school and work look like?
Your future world may be the whole planet or just your street. Release the artist in you and illustrate what you see.
Share your art and post it to: Your Views on Climate Action, West Oxfordshire District Council, Witney OX28 1NB or email [email protected]
This consultation is open until June 16th.
Botley, Cumnor & Summertown
Local artists open up virtual exhibition for Oxfordshire Artweeks Festival
Artists looking forward to welcoming the public to their studios for Oxfordshire Artweeks are now doing so virtually until May 25th.
The 13 resident artists and associate members of Ayres House Studios, Wallingford, were looking forward to inviting visitors into the previously derelict building; throwing open their studio doors to exhibit both art work and studio space – now sadly impossible due to social restrictions.
In October 2019 the artists took over Ayres House on Station Road. The building was used as a rectory until the 1950s and had been empty for many years and was officially opened with a launch celebration in December.
Studio Manager, Emma Souter of Adumbration Arts said: “It’s such a lovely building with so much potential, I think it needs us as much as we need it.”
On show ‘virtually’ will be paintings, ceramics, sculpture, textiles, upholstery, jewellery, photography, installations, artist’s books, performance and art restoration. The artists are from both academic and self-taught backgrounds, including those from high art, conceptual, fine art and applied crafts.
Daily content will be shared to provide a creative overview from the studios, highlighting what the artists have been doing before and during the coronavirus.
Among those helping out has been Becky Colwell who has used her textile skills to help make scrubs for the NHS and is looking forward to being able to teach sewing classes when the studios re open to the public.
Emma of Neoteric Dance Company has created a new dance film A Home in Isolation, documenting the experiences faced by so many at this time. Alongside this she is also supporting individuals who may be struggling emotionally and physical at this time, by offering virtual spaces to talk and process their experiences, seeing her transfer her Dance Movement Psychotherapy skills to a virtual platform.
During lockdown the studio is welcoming applications from artists who would like to join the studios and for those who would like to join as associate members. They are also seeking proposals for community and collaborative projects so they are ready for when restrictions are lifted. Once back they will re-open Monday Makers and the various courses, workshops and exhibitions which were suspended due to Covid19.
Until then why not visit Ayres House Studios online from the comfort of your homes throughout May.
During Artweeks there will be a chance to view works online via https://www.artweeks.org/festival/2020/ayres-house-studios and on the Studios social media pages https://www.facebook.com/ayreshousestudios and https://www.instagram.com/ayreshousestudios where new posts will be shared daily throughout the festival.
Botley, Cumnor & Summertown
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.
Botley, Cumnor & Summertown
Plans are blooming for the ninth annual Garden Re-Leaf Day, which takes place on Friday, 13th March.
This year, Chilton Garden Centre will be the central hub for fundraising activity, as it hosts the fifth Garden Re-Leaf Sponsored Walk and Cycle Challenge.
Members of the gardening sector and hopefully local residents will trek across the Chiltern Hills to raise money for the children’s hospice garden charity, Greenfingers Charity.
Gardeners young and old are invited to take part in fundraising events – either a gentle 10-mile stroll or complete a more challenging 20-mile route through the Chiltern hills. There will also be a Garden Re-Leaf Cycle Challenge for bike enthusiasts. With a 25km route through the Oxfordshire countryside entrants are invited to complete as many rotations around the course as they can throughout the day.
Garden Re-Leaf Day is to celebrate the start of the garden year with fundraising events to raise money for Greenfingers, a charity dedicated to improving the lives of children in hospices through the creation of magical gardens.
In total, 58 Greenfingers gardens have been built since the charity’s creation in 1998 with many being funded by monies from Garden Re-Leaf Day.
In 2017, a new Oxfordshire based garden was opened at Helen & Douglas House, enabling children who call this hospice ‘home’ to find a moment of calm away from the hustle and bustle of daily hospice life. The Kaleidoscope Garden, designed by Oxford garden designer Nicola Wakefield and built by local landscapers GreenArt Garden Design and landscaping, features a colourful and protected garden pavilion that is now being enjoyed by patients, their families, friends, carers and hard-working hospice staff.
Last year in 2019, the charity’s 20th anniversary, four sensory and therapeutic gardens were built in London, The Wirral, Sunderland and St Austell, offering children and families the perfect out door space in which to make memories.
More gardens are in the pipeline to be built this year and this is where Garden Re-Leaf Day comes into its own, raising much–needed funds.
Linda Petrons, director of fundraising & communications at Greenfingers said: “Each year, Garden Re-Leaf Day helps over 350 life-limited children to enjoy a quiet place of relaxation and contemplation away from the hustle and bustle of hospice life, something that is so incredibly important for them and their families.
“Being able to do offer this for seriously sick children and their families is only possible due to the fundraising activities that our supporters undertake.
“Garden Re-Leaf Day offers a great opportunity to get involved – it’s just one day of the year where you can help make a difference. Whether you raise £10 or £10,000, every single penny counts. We hope that the people of Oxfordshire will get involved on March 13th!”
Botley, Cumnor & Summertown
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.
Botley, Cumnor & Summertown
Dance, theatre, yoga, music and making your own bedroom decorations are among the fun activities for young people at Cornerstone’s Youth Festival.
The week-long extravaganza which runs during half term, 16th to 23rd February begins on Sunday with The Elves and the Shoemakers. Meet Sam who is big on imagination but short on business knowhow until one night, two small green visitors climb in and start stitching, cutting and gluing… Suitable for ages 3 upwards, tickets £9.50, concs £7.50, family £30.
Get active with a series of classes focussing on movement with fun from 18th to 21st starting with a children’s art and yoga class, £15, for school years 1-6 and unleash your inner dancer on Wednesday with beginner’s Latin and ballroom dancing, £25, school years 1-6 – perfect for those with an eye on being a Strictly star in the future.
Thursday and Friday it’s the turn of those in years 7-13 with break dancing for beginners, £15, where you’ll learn the basics and then develop the confidence to explore your own style. Friday sees a physical theatre workshop, £20, in which you’ll learn techniques for creating a narrative through movement and storytelling which will be performed at the end of the session.
Award-winning comedy musicians Bowjangles will be putting on a magical show taking you through myths, legends and folklore through a portal in a cello case – where else? – to find a priceless relic, a magical violin bow known as Excalibow. Suitable for all ages, £14, and may contain a few well-known ABBA hits!
Join Yana on Sunday 23rd as she journeys through a strange land, all alone and far from home, unable to understand anything other children are saying and then she encounters a Yeti… This cast of extraordinary puppets are out to show friends come in the most unexpected shapes and sizes in Yana and the Yeti, £9.50, concs £7.50.
If craft is your thing there’s also the opportunity to spruce up your bedroom for years 1-6 by making your own bedroom decorations on Saturday 22nd, £25, with collage, paint, printing and mark making.
Cornerstone also offers a range of courses for children and young people including theatre, photography, dance and young reviewers.
Botley, Cumnor & Summertown
Didcot’s own Matt Richardson tells Peter Anderson how much he’s looking forward to his show at the Cornerstone – not least because his mum always helps his home gig sell out!
Matt’s first tour at the tender age of 21 was called Hometown Hero, and now he brings his latest tour Imposter to his home town. With this tour, he’s celebrating a decade delighting audiences, both as a stand-up and as a link on many television shows. When I caught up with the lad from Didcot I found, among other things, his mother is still one of his best, and busiest fans.
“I love the show at The Cornerstone whenever I do it,” says Matt. “It’s full of familiar faces and it’s always a lovely sell-out! My mum basically does all the leg work and promotes it to everyone she knows, so it’s a very stress-free show for the promoter!”
What can the audiences look forward to?” It’s loads of new material, about growing up and settling down with some stories about my slightly unusual life on the fringes of the public eye, with one or two of my old routines thrown in from my previous shows as a slight celebration of my decade in the business!”
Feeling he is an imposter as an adult now 28, what’s Matt favourite age? “About 21 or 22. You’ve broken into the world and feel like everything is in front of you and anything is possible, but a lot of the reality hasn’t set in yet. And your parents are still happy to cover your rent once in a while.”
His career has included television work, does the stand-up experience stand him in good stead? “Yes, I really think it does. I’ve done a lot of shows that require dealing with members of the public, and I think years on stage talking to them really sets you up for that. Live TV is such a different beast to stand-up, but I’ve had to make up 10 minutes of a show after the autocue failed and there was nothing to prompt me. The one thing live TV and stand-up have in common are this – when it’s going badly time slows down to a crawl!”
Is there somewhere he would love to perform? “I’d be quite keen to gig in America. I’ve filmed there lots over the years, but I’d be really interested to see how my act goes down with their comedy club audiences. I’ve got a lot of routines I worry are far too UK centric, and I am planning on world domination (once I can sell out Didcot without my mum, of course).”