Unique Unicorn

Round & About

Wallingford & Didcot

Photo: Shackleton Trio

The new year has already got off to a great start for Music at the Unicorn with two fantastic pieces of news.

Dave Pegg of Fairport Convention and guitar virtuoso PJ Wright have once again agreed to be patrons for MATU and they have a new programme curator in the form of Duncan Chappell of Big Ginger Tom Music.

Both Dave and PJ are delighted to be continuing their links with the popular music venue and Duncan has already been hard at work putting together an exciting mix of acts for the 2020 programme which will feature acts old and new as well as many local treats.

He said: “This is an exciting time for me and I’m very proud to be part of this wonderful organisation. I know I can do a great job for MATU. We’re all looking forward to a fantastic 2020.

“The new programme will be ready soon and we will be distributing it early in the new year. Come and see us!”

Among the goodies Duncan has lined up for the Unicorn are the stunning vocals of Me for Queen who kicked off the year in January. March brings Jim Moray with Tom Moore on the 26th, one of England’s finest interpreters of traditional song who has changed the sound of folk music.

Among other highlights Duncan has put together are the Shackleton Trio on 21st May. The musicians have played to great acclaim on the folk circuit with their original work blending with imaginative re-workings of traditional folk songs often with a twist.

Multi-award winning folk duo Ninebarrow have impressed audiences across the country with their innovative take on folk favourites and their delivery of old songs rooted in the landscape and history of the British Isles and are named after Nine Barrow Down in Dorset’s Purbeck hills. Ninebarrow are at the Unicorn on 10th September, but definitely worth the wait.

As 2020 draws to a close there’s no let up in the great music on offer with the aptly-named  The Willows playing on 1st October as autumn blows in with their music influenced by both sides of the Atlantic.

Warm up with family trio Cup O’Joe on 12th November, the two brothers and sister have been playing together since they were in their teens and were due to release a new album in January featuring many original tracks.

More info

To find out more about the fabulous bands playing at the Unicorn in 2020 and ticket information

Seal of approval

Round & About

Wallingford & Didcot

Main image: Sleeping like a Weddell by Ralf Schneider Highly Commended 2019, Black and White. Left: Canopy hangout by Carlos Pérez Naval, Spain Highly Commended 2019, Young Wildlife Photographers: 11-14 years old . Middle: Lucky break by Jason Bantle, Canada Highly Commended 2019, Urban Wildlife. Right: The climbing dead by Frank Deschandol Highly Commended 2019, Plants and Fungi

The world-renowned Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, on loan from the Natural History Museum in London, will open at The Base on Friday, 7th February.

“It’s a delight and privilege to bring this exhibition to The Base,” says Corn Exchange Newbury director Grant Brisland. “The previous instalment launched the building [last February] and was enjoyed by over 3,500 people. As we individually and collectively take steps to reduce our impact on the environment, these pictures remind us what we’re aiming to protect for future generations.”

This year’s 100 award-winning images have embarked on an international tour that will allow them to be seen by over a million people. Catch the exhibition at The Base from this month until April.

More info

There are also special events such as Relaxed Days (20th Feb & 8th Apr), a Clay Animals workshop on 22nd February and a Cartoon Animal Drawing workshop on 1st March. Visit the website or call 0845 5218 218. www.facebook.com/WildlifePhotographerOfTheYear

Take a peep at new app

Round & About

Wallingford & Didcot

What started as a family surprise has developed into an app letting you countdown to celebrations and special events – a digital advent for any occasion, any time. 

 

MyPeep is the brainchild of Cholsey couple Pam and Darren Evans. Pam wanted to surprise her sister with a countdown for her 50th birthday but couldn’t find what she was looking for – husband Darren came to the rescue and created the app. 

They tested it on their son Dylan with a seven-day countdown of things he liked including his favourite songs, photos and news of a treat but while it was created for fun, the couple hope to see the app used to help combat social isolation. 

Darren said: “We’d love to see “peeps” being sent to people who live alone or far away from family – just that little surprise could really make their day. We are also now in discussions with initiatives for mental health (PTSD specifically) and well-being, as well as fitness and nutrition type services.” 

With MyPeep you can include text and emojis, photos, images and links as well as short clips via the in-app video. Once you’ve created all the content for your windows, invite friends and family to download MyPeep so you can share it with them.  

The fun of MyPeep is in the anticipation. Recipients can only open one window at a time – the rest of the windows stay locked until it’s time to open the next one.  

The UK’s first customisable digital advent can be used to countdown to birthdays, reunions, parties, weddings, holidays – or simply for brightening someone’s day. 

Other opportunities have also been identified including one that will help improve end of life care experience and therefore the quality of palliative care for patients, family members and others important to the patient through a product called Treasured. 

Treasured will help in creating daily content, storing memories and allow patients to post for future events. Data is securely held until a specific date and can only be unlocked/made available to relatives and loved ones on that specific date. 

The aim is to work in partnership with a national charity who have indicated that Treasured will also assist loved ones in the grieving process. 

More info

For more information visit

Business School

Round & About

Wallingford & Didcot

Make money from your passion at Pop-Up Business School in Didcot 

Have you always wanted to start your own business but don’t really know how or what the next steps are? 

Help is at hand at a Pop-Up Business School in Didcot next week when you’ll be able to get advice on starting a business with no money, marketing, all the legal stuff and much more. 

The five-day course at the Civic Hall will help new and established businesses get going and to  kick start them in the right way. You don’t need to attend every day but the more workshops you can visit the better, the more you’ll learn and the more you’ll get out of it. 

The Pop-Up Business School has been running live events for seven years and shows a new way of thinking and practical ways to get your business off the ground. 

Each day is split into two sessions and the week starts with help on how to start a business for free and the quickest way to do so. Tuesday is all about sales and marketing before website Wednesday teaches you how to build a website for free and setting up online payments. 

Thursday focuses on social media – where are your customers online and using social media to find them before the week ends with a guide to the legal stuff on Friday. 

In addition to the workshops, Pop Up also provides one-to-one support whenever possible and continuing online support to all participants after the event. 

All sessions are free, but places are limited so booking is essential for the course which runs from 27th to 31st January, 10am to 3pm daily except Friday, 10am to 1pm. 

More info...

To find out more and register for your place to make money from your passion visit

Banff film festival

Karen Neville

Wallingford & Didcot

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

Wallingford & Didcot

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

Wallingford & Didcot

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

Motown magic

Round & About

Wallingford & Didcot

Book in for the smash-hit West End musical Motown The Musical which roars into the New Theatre Oxford from Tuesday, 17th December to Saturday, 4th January.

 

Motown The Musical tells the story of Berry Gordy’s world-famous Motown record label, which gave rise to huge stars such as The Jackson 5, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.

The record label celebrated its 60th anniversary on January 12th this year. With just $800 borrowed from his family, Motown founder Berry Gordy went from featherweight boxer to heavyweight music mogul, discovering and launching the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and many more. Motown the Musical uncovers the true story of the legendary record label that changed music history and created the soundtrack of a generation.

With music and lyrics from the Motown catalogue and book by Motown founder Berry Gordy, Charles Randolph-Wright’s production features a live orchestra playing 50 Motown tracks, including Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, I’ll Be There, Dancing In The Street, Stop! In The Name of Love, My Girl and I Heard It Through the Grapevine and tells the story behind the classic hits.

The show features Edward Baruwa in the leading role of Berry Gordy, Karis Anderson as Diana Ross, Nathan Lewis as ‘Smokey Robinson’ and Shak Gabbidon-Williams as Marvin Gaye.

The original Broadway cast recording of Motown the Musical is available via Motown Records, a label of UMG Recordings – www.classicmotown.com

Tickets

For tickets & more information please call 01865 320775 or visit

Santa steams in

Round & About

Wallingford & Didcot

Father Christmas will take time out of his busy schedule to hop on board the Cholsey & Wallingford Railway again this month

He will make six return trips from Wallingford (five from Cholsey) – on 7th, 8th, 14th, 15th, 21st and 22nd December.

 

Trains depart a little earlier this year, with the first train leaving at 10.15am and then at 75-minute intervals until the last round trip train leaves at 4.30pm. If boarding at Cholsey the departures are between 10.55am and 3.55pm.

All adult passengers receive seasonal refreshments and all children 10 years old and younger will be collected by Mother Christmas and her helpful elves and taken to visit Santa in his grotto to receive their gift on board as the train travels through the south Oxfordshire countryside.

“There will be plenty of time for family photos with Santa,” says volunteer Tony Stead. “We have spoken to Santa’s elves and they are currently working hard to try to make sure that this year Santa’s train will be hauled by a steam loco.

Last year Santa saw a massive increase in the number of children that he saw and so there is an extra train each day but we expect many trains to be sold out – especially the first and second trains of the day and those closest to Christmas so advance booking is strongly recommended.

“There is always a great Christmas atmosphere on the train which is decorated throughout and gifts are arranged to be age-dependant so why not come along and join in the fun. We hope to see you there!”

Tickets

Book at…

King pin

Round & About

Wallingford & Didcot

Liz Nicholls visits The Kingham Plough near Chipping Norton which has just been named as a Good Food Gastropub award winner

Our corner of the Cotswolds is prized for its heart-stoppingly beautiful views. But all the dishes arriving from the kitchen on a recent wintry evening could give those regal oak-framed landscapes and chocolate box villages a run for their money.

At one point during our meal, I was embarrassed to be caught snapping my starter on my phone, like the tourist I am. Not cool. But then I wanted to record for posterity (above) the prettiest slice of chicken liver parfait in Christendom. Encased in a pale marbled butter and herb jacket, it tasted even more sumptuous than it looked, fit for a queen, in fact. Accompanied by a cute mini brioche, quenelle of shallots which were sweetly pickled on red wine and glistening currants, this dish showed from the off that the team here really really dig their flavour combos.

So mesmerised was I by this that I didn’t get a look-in on my partner’s equally sexy salmon starter. But the mains carried the party on – my flat-iron steak was perfectly charred on the outside and pink within, dunked in perfect Béarnaise with delicious chips – perfect with a rich and fruity Malbec. Its sister dish was a tablet of beautifully cooked pearlescent hake on a bed of kale and tatty under a blanket of creamy sauce. To complete the trio of courses, I was elated with my deconstructed black forest gateau with tonka bean chantilly that tasted heavenly and sinful.

The Kingham Plough achieved stellar fame under chef patron and Great British Menu winner Emily Watkins so its new owners, Matt and Katie Beamish, had a tough act to follow. Luckily, not only is Matt possibly the most charismatic and enthusiastic foodie you might ever meet, but the old inn, which has rooms, is drop-dead gorgeous; a vision of classy muted F&B walls (which I was caught fondling. Again: not cool), vintage finds in cosy fireside nooks and stunning artworks (we had a Dali sketch next to us) which is all for sale.

I’m thrilled that the couple and of course the team, under head chef Jonny Pons, recently scooped a Good Food Gastropub award. Talented Jonny and co are spoilt for choice with local riches such as exceptional cuts from Paddock Farm and cured meat from Chippy’s Salt Pig. Their skill more than does these justice in this, Daylesford country. And, if our meal sounds too meaty for you, the vegetarian options are amazing, too, and check out the Christmas and NYE menu for pure food porn.

More info

Call 01608 658 327 or visit