Paws for thought!

Round & About

Wantage & Faringdon

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

Wantage & Faringdon

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 –


For tickets & more information please call 01865 320775 or visit

Santa steams in

Round & About

Wantage & Faringdon

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!”


Book at…

King pin

Round & About

Wantage & Faringdon

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

Wintry wonders

Round & About

Wantage & Faringdon

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Info

Go to and

Above & beyond

Round & About

Wantage & Faringdon

Please join us in supporting the Children’s Air Ambulance whose life-saving helicopters are going green. Anna Phillips tells us more.

Oxford-based Children’s Air Ambulance is the only life-saving service of its kind in the UK. The charity has chosen to locate one of its two brand new, specially equipped, bright green Agusta Westland 169 helicopters here in the heart of Oxfordshire, at Kidlington airport, with the other in Doncaster.

This charity is solely dedicated to providing a specialist emergency medical transfer service which is currently changing the face of paediatric care across the country through the high-speed transfers of critically ill neonates, babies and children. The bespoke helicopters are specially adapted with intensive care equipment and on board BabyPod incubators transferring critically ill babies and children from local general hospitals to specialist paediatric hospitals across the country when they need extra specialist life-saving treatment further from home. When a child is too sick to fly, the Children’s Air Ambulance fly a specialist team of clinicians to them and with flight times commonly over four times faster than transfer by road, time saved is a life saved.

The Children’s Air Ambulance receives no NHS or government funding with its life-saving work being totally reliant upon donations and fundraising activities and events from its diverse range of supporters and private individuals. These currently include support from small companies to large corporates, Charity of the Year nominations, community organisations, sports clubs, nurseries, schools, universities, pubs, hotels, breweries as well as a broad and diverse range of interest groups, clubs and associations.  There are also 21 Children’s Air Ambulance charity shops located across the country including three in Oxfordshire – in Abingdon, Headington and Banbury.

The charity has also launched its very own Green Agenda, working to ensure all of its operations are as sustainable as possible with minimal impact to the environment. Achievements to date include its Re Use programme, successfully diverting over 600 tonnes from landfill, the launch of closed-loop plastic recycling and recently receiving recognition for its Data Wiping and Asset Recovery service at the 2019 Charity Retail Awards winning Best Use of Innovation and Technology.

Some of the ways you can help

  1. Donate :  Either online or by donating unwanted clothes and goods to its shops
  2. Charity of The Year: Nominate The Children’s Air Ambulance as your Charity of the Year
  3. Volunteer: Help to raise both funds and awareness of the charity in your community
  4. Events: Organising and taking part in fundraising events, challenges and activities
  5. Shop: Shop and donate through The Children’s Air Ambulance charity shops

The Children’s Air Ambulance would love to hear from you, your company, organisation or local community group if you would like to know more about its work and some of the patient stories of lives it has saved.

Children's Air Ambulance

For more information or to arrange a talk or visit from a member of the Oxfordshire team please call   0300 3045 999, email [email protected] or visit

Christmas every day

Round & About

Wantage & Faringdon

Secret Santa founder Courtney Hughes has been helping to spread festive cheer for seven years and now does so all year round

Didcot’s very own Secret Santa has come a long way since it was founded in 2012 going from an idea to help those alone at Christmas to becoming the year round fundraiser it is now.

And behind it all is Courtney Hughes. She was inspired by her grandmother Elsie who was taken ill over the festive period to buy gifts and decorations to take to the ward she was in.

But the caring, then just 13-year-old, wasn’t just touched by her gran but the others in hospital with her who were isolated and alone. Courtney lost her beloved gran in March 2013 but went on to set up Charity Secret Santa in her memory.

With a little help, she soon collected 250 gifts to give to elderly people on the wards at the John Radcliffe. That amazing effort has now grown and over the years more than 50,000 gifts have been given to the elderly, sick, lonely and vulnerable in our community.

And last month her hard work was recognised when she was officially awarded the British Empire Medal as given in The Queen’s birthday honours earlier in the year. The 21-year-old was honoured for services to older and vulnerable people in Oxfordshire.

But not content with just helping those in need at Christmas, the Secret Santa appeal is now Secret Santa 365 with tea parties and community outreach projects throughout the year to aid the elderly and needy.

Courtney’s activities now also support women’s refuges by supplying furniture and food and care packages throughout the year.

This year’s appeal was launched on 1st September and already she has been overwhelmed with the amount of toys and gifts being donated. She is now fully engulfed in sorting the donations, packing and arranging drop offs – all while working full-time as a senior nursing assistant at the John Radcliffe.

Launching this year’s appeal, she said: “It is lovely – the appeal has become like a child to me.”

Secret Santa 365 helps a wide variety of charities including among others SSNAP supporting sick newborn babies and their parents, Headway Oxfordshire which works to raise awareness of brain injuries, Helen & Douglas House providing hospice care for children, Homeless Oxfordshire, Style Acre providing support for people with learning disabilities and Be Free YC improving the lives and well being of young carers.

To help with Secret Santa 2019, you can drop gifts off at Cornerstone, SOHA, The Marlborough Club, Boundary Park GWP, The Beacon in Wantage at Sainsbury’s in Didcot on 7th December and at The Giving Tree at Berro Lounge in the Orchard Centre among other venues.

Secret Santa 365

For a full list and for more information about how you can help Secret Santa 365


Round & About

Wantage & Faringdon

Local children set to star in Pinocchio at the Cornerstone 

If you’re going to see this year’s Christmas show at Didcot’s Cornerstone don’t be surprised if you recognise a few of the young faces on stage. 

Alongside the professional performers are 45 local children, chosen from open auditions held earlier in the year, to join them in teams of 15, the three groups rotating through the busy schedule from 7th to 29th December in The Adventures of Pinocchio. 

In this fun family Christmas adventure, meet Gepetto as he creates Pinoccho and follow the puppet with the growing nose as he learns to make sense of a confusing world. Join him on his journey finding fame and fortune to ending up in the belly of a whale – will he side with the good Blues Fairy or fall foul of the tricky Fox? 

The classic tale of Pinocchio is brought to life with music and songs beginning at the Spinning Yarn Storytelling Bar with The Blues Fairy and her band The Crickets telling the story. 


The Adventures of PInnochio runs at the Cornerstone from 7th to 29th December. 

Tickets £16, concs £14.50, family ticket £52. 

To book call the box office on 01235 515144 or visit…

Birdland Park

Round & About

Wantage & Faringdon

If you’re looking for a day out to avoid all the pre-Christmas chaos that already seems to have taken hold, how about a day out at Birdland Park & Gardens?

A pandemonium of parrots has flocked there in recent weeks with some colourful new residents moving in to the park which is now home to 16 different parrot species.

The Cotswold-based wildlife attraction has constructed six new aviaries with two more to be completed in the coming months where visitors can view the new species including the kea and long billed corella.

As part of the new features Birdland in Bourton-on-the-Water is also raising awareness about the conservation and welfare work being done by the World Parrot Trust. The charity is currently focussing on raising funds and awareness to help support the endangered scarlet macaw.

Birdland manager Simon Blackwell said: “We’re very pleased to be able to support such a worthy cause here at Birdland.

“The conservation work the World Parrot Trust undertakes is vital in raising awareness about the risks faced by all parrot species in the wild which include loss of habitat and capture for the illegal trade in wild birds.

“The additional aviaries which have been constructed here are already home to a pandemonium of parrots, the collective term for a group of the birds, and they’ve settled in really well,” he added.

There are 387 species of parrots, known scientifically as Psittacine, and most species are native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Australia, Asia, Central and South America and Africa.

For video of just some of the attractions at Birdland, click here:

Citizens Advice S&V

Round & About

Wantage & Faringdon

Photo: Chair of trustees Jane Richardson and manager Liz Johnson celebrate 80 years of Citizens Advice 

Volunteers and staff from Citizens Advice Oxfordshire South and Vale celebrated 80 years of service to the local community at a ceremony recently.

Citizens Advice was founded on 4th September 1939, the day after the Second World War was declared, to help people deal with the impact of war.

Volunteers gave advice on evacuation, ration books, new housing for those whose homes had been bombed, and even provided recipes using the limited ingredients available on rationing.

Eighty years on, the issues may have changed, but the core values of Citizens Advice remain the same: to provide free, confidential and impartial advice to everyone everywhere.

Last year, Citizens Advice Oxfordshire South and Vale, an independent charity, helped 11,999 people resolve 20,200 problems including debt, housing, Universal Credit, benefits, family problems and consumer issues. For many people this service is a lifeline.

Jon Bright, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Oxfordshire South and Vale, said: “This service is only possible thanks to the dedication and commitment of our 160 highly trained volunteers who give up their time to help people in our community find a solution to their problems.”

The number of people in need of help and advice has risen by 30 per cent over the last three years and local offices are in greater need of volunteers to help keep the service running with posts including advisers, receptionists, administrators, IT support and fundraisers.

Find out more

If you are interested, contact Citizens Advice Oxfordshire South and Vale for more information on 01235 550553 or email [email protected]