Half term at National Trust

Round & About

Marlborough

Autumn is the perfect time to get outside with the family and create unforgettable moments this October half-term. With all kinds of family-friendly events, woodland adventure days and spooktacular Halloween trails on offer, the kids won’t get bored at the many National Trust properties in the area.

Here are just a few ideas for you –

Basildon Park, near Reading, RG8 9NR  
01491 672382
Whether it’s brilliant autumn sunshine, or slightly damp autumn drizzle, there are plenty of opportunities for children to get out of the house this October half-term and enjoy Basildon Park. There’s the Wild Play Trail, open all year round, the half-term trail, and a natural play area for little ones. Come along and get stuck into a day out at Basildon Park from Saturday 26th October until Sunday 3rd November.
Half-term trail: Minibeasts 
Pick up a trail leaflet from visitor reception and search the parkland for creepy crawlies to win a prize. £2

The Vyne, near Basingstoke, RG24 9HL (just over the border in Hampshire) 
01256 883858
Young witches, ghosts and all manner of things can wander The Vyne’s gardens enjoying Halloween trails for all ages. Two mysterious trails will keep under 7s and over 8s entertained. Families can embark on their challenge by paying normal admission and £2 for each Halloween trail sheet at Visitor Reception from Saturday 26th October to Sunday 3rd November, 10am-5pm
Halloween spotter trail (up to age 7)
In the gardens, collect your £2 activity sheet from the Halloween tent and look out for 10 photos of animals mistakenly linked with witchcraft. Return your completed sheet to the tent for a chocolate prize. £2
Halloween rune trail (ages 8+)
On this mystical adventure through The Vyne’s gardens, decipher 16th-century runes to reveal a secret word. Collect your £2 activity sheet from the Halloween tent and look out for ten signs hidden around the gardens. Each sign will translate a symbol into a normal letter. Write each letter in the corresponding box on your activity sheet to work out the mystery word. At the end, return to the Halloween tent to collect your chocolate prize. £2

The Buscot and Coleshill Estates, near Faringdon, SN6 7PT 
01793 762209
As we head into Autumn, we’re making the most of the last summer sunshine and welcoming in the season of golden hues. With half-term fun at Badbury woods on our Autumn Scavenger hunt for children, flower arranging with pumpkins workshop and our November term of Coleshill Critters.
Autumn scavenger hunt at Badbury Woods
Monday 28th October – Friday 1st November, 11am-2pm
Become a nature detective and see what you can find in the woods. £3

Chastleton House and Gardens, near Moreton-in-Marsh, GL56 0SU 
01608 674981
Join the Halloween spooky ghosts and ghouls themed trail at Chastleton in the Cotswolds, abundant in local tales and legends of spooky happenings and ghoulish goings on. The house at Chastleton, however, is not known for its ghost stories and there are no tales of spooky sightings or strange feelings passed down from generation to generation.
But this Halloween half term, explore some of the local legends and stories from around the area in the ghosts, witches and ghouls trail running from Saturday 26th October to Sunday 3rd November, 1pm – 4pm. £2.50

Greys Court, near Henley, RG9 4PG
01491 628529
Whether it’s brilliant autumn sunshine, or slightly damp autumn drizzle, there are plenty of opportunities for children to get out of the house this October half-term and enjoy Greys Court. The half term trail will run from Saturday 26th October to Sunday 3rd November, where you can pick up a trail for £2 and find clues to win a prize.
October half-term: Loads of leaves 
Pick up a trail leaflet and wander the estate in search of clues celebrating the autumn colour. £2
Den-building 
Create a shelter for yourself this October half-term in the den-building area down near the play area. You’ll find plenty of sticks, logs and twigs to create your ideal hideout.

Find out more

For more details about these and other events at National Trust properties

Headlines & Hedgerows

Round & About

Marlborough

Our countryside & its wildlife is at risk. We encourage you to join the campaign to save our endangered hedgerows and share an exclusive extract from John Craven’s new book.

The hedgerows that criss-cross our countryside are not only an iconic sight, but a vital habitat and corridor for many of our native species. However, they are becoming increasingly fragmented which is threatening the wildlife that depends on them.

We’ve lost about half our hedgerows since WWII. Although the rate of direct hedge removal has been reduced, hedgerows are being lost simply through how they are managed.

“With 70% of UK land being agricultural, hedgerows offer the safest route for wildlife to travel across farmland,” says Megan Gimber, key habitats project officer at PTES. “Sadly, many hedgerows are becoming ‘gappy’, which fragments this amazing network. And, without more sensitive management, many hedgerows are at risk of being lost altogether. This is problematic, especially when we’re seeing a fall in numbers of the animals that depend on them, such as hedgehogs, bats, hazel dormice and song thrush.”

In Britain, habitat fragmentation is thought to be a limiting factor for the distribution of some species and a threat to others’ survival. Corridors play a vital role preserving a number of species deemed ‘at risk’. Some 16 out of the 19 birds included in the Farmland Bird Index, used by government to assess the state of farmland wildlife, are associated with hedgerows.

Healthy hedgerows reduce soil erosion, flooding damage and air and water pollution. They provide forage for pollinating insects, predators to keep crop pests in check and shelter for livestock, reducing deaths from exposure and improving milk yields. Hedges help us fight climate change by storing carbon and reduce the damage from flooding.
To take part in the Great British Hedgerow Survey or find out more, visit hedgerowsurvey.ptes.org

Hedgerow. Credit Allen Paul Photography & Shutterstock.com
annie-spratt-cZFe4oIIPg8-unsplash
An extract from John Craven’s new book

Headlines and Hedgerows is published by Michael Joseph

We have all heard that well-known piece of advice first coined by W.C. Fields: “Never work with animals or children.” Well, I’ve done both throughout my career (in fact, I couldn’t have succeeded without them!) so in my case at least that old adage is totally wrong.

I suppose one reason for my longevity is that I have never been very ambitious. I have not sought the headlines, never seriously courted celebrity nor been tempted to take chances on high-profile but potentially risky and short-lived programmes – apart from one, and that was Newsround, which was a six-week experiment in 1972. Thankfully it is still going strong so, as it turned out, it was not much of a gamble and a recent poll in Radio Times placed Newsround at number three in a list of the top 20 children’s programmes of all time.

And Countryfile is often in the top 20 of most-watched shows. During my 30 years there I’ve seen rural issues ranging from social isolation and deprivation to the way our food is produced climb higher and higher up the national agenda. That our audience is split pretty evenly between country dwellers and townies proves to me that, united as a nation in this at least, we want to preserve, protect and enjoy our glorious countryside…

For my Countryfile interview with Prime Minister David Cameron, we met for an hour at Cogges Manor Farm, a rural heritage centre in his Oxfordshire constituency. The cameras were set up around the kitchen table and before he arrived a lady who seemed to be in charge of his “image” wanted to know where he’d sit. She checked the angles and saw a large Welsh dresser in the background. “Could we move some of those plates and ornaments,” she said. “It’s too fussy.” It proved that politicians have learned to be careful what’s behind them on screen. An exit sign, for instance, would be the last thing they wanted.

When Mr Cameron came in, dressed casually in a jumper – this, after all, was Countryfile – he said “I was brought up on you, John!” I don’t feel particularly old but it’s alarming when the man leading the country says you were part of his childhood! We had a wide-ranging conversation and he had no idea of the questions beforehand. I challenged him on his plan to make his administration the greenest government ever (which didn’t really happen) and overdevelopment threats to the landscape. “I care deeply about our countryside and environment,” he told me earnestly. “I’d no more put them at risk than I would my own family.”

Today, I wonder what he’d make of the report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England revealing 15,500 new houses have been approved in areas of outstanding natural beauty in the years since. We also talked of his plans for a free vote in Parliament on bringing back hunting with hounds (which never happened) and persuading all other EU countries to enforce farm animal welfare laws as diligently as the UK (still waiting for that). I was impressed by his detailed knowledge of rural issues, even when pressed for details. A few months later at a Downing Street lunch for people involved in all aspects of the countryside, he smiled and said he hadn’t expected to be grilled by “a rural Jeremy Paxman.”

The Great British Hedgerow Survey

To take part in the Great British Hedgerow Survey or find out more

Think pink!

Round & About

Marlborough

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month – support the cause by buying these items & wearing pink on Friday, 18th October

1. Tickled Pink Ben & Jerry’s Love Is Topped, £2.50.

2. Dove Pomegranate, £2.85.

3. PG Tips, £2.

4. ghd gold ink on pink styler, £139.

5. Simple wipes, £3.

6. Pot noodle.

7. Vaseline Rosy Lip Tin, £1.50.

8. Lulu Guinness Breast Cancer Now Natasha in chalk blush, £145 .

9. ELEMIS Breast Cancer Care limited-edition Pro-collagen Marine Cream, 100ml.

Find out more

Please visit website to join the campaign!

Literary heaven

Round & About

Marlborough

Marlborough is set to welcome writers and readers of all sorts as it celebrates 10 years of its LitFest

Award-winning writers, established names and emerging authors are all on the bill at this year’s Marlborough LitFest which is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Children’s authors, poetry events and themes including history, archaeology, mental health, travel, sports, food, nature and adventure should guarantee that there truly is something for everyone to enjoy this month.

Among the well-known names set to appear are Ben Okri, who is this year’s Golding Speaker, and favourites such as ian Rankin, Joanne Harris, Carol Ann Duffy, Robert Harris and David Baddiel.

Chair of Marlborough LitFest, Genevieve Clarke, said: “The LitFest has come a long way in 10 years. We’re thrilled to be celebrating our first decade with established literary names, plenty of writers just starting out, a mix of themes, creative workshops and a fabulous children’s programme. We’ve also stepped up our commitment to outreach as a way of drawing in new audiences from Marlborough and beyond. I’d like to thank our committee, volunteers and sponsors for all their help in putting together an exciting programme for 2019.”

The festival which features nearly 40 events this year will begin with poet Carol Ann Duffy on Thursday, 26th September at Marlborough College where she will read from her latest collection, Sincerity as well as some of her earlier work.

The Golding Speaker Ben Okri will address the audience at the Town Hall on Friday 27th. The Nigerian-born writer came to recognition in 1991 when aged just 32 he was the youngest winner of the Man Booker Prize for his novel The Famished Road.

Debut authors will feature alongside the established with Elizabeth Macneal and Stacey Halls showcasing their novels on Saturday 28th. Macneal’s The Doll Factory is set in 1850s London and tells of a woman who is both artist and artist’s model. Halls’s novel The Familiars is set at the time of the Pendle witch trials when 10 people were hanged for murder by witchcraft.

Among the other attractions is this year’s Big Town Read, Raynor Winn’s The Salt Path,

chosen for local book groups to enjoy and telling the true story of a homeless, penniless, jobless couple who walk the 630 miles of the South West Coast Path from Minehead to Poole. Their walk and the story of it is defiant and life-affirming.

Festival favourite, Poetry in the Pub returns and new for this year is LitFest’s own What the Papers Say on Sunday morning.

A key feature of this year’s festival is the growth of its outreach events which intend to bring the best of good writing to Marlborough and this year includes a partnership with Save the Children, links with HMP Erlestoke and increased activity with local schools.

Find out more

To find out more about everything that’s going on and to book, visit

Restless Minds: Ward Thomas

Round & About

Marlborough

Ward Thomas – AKA 24-year-old twin sisters Catherine and Lizzy who went to school near Cranleigh – tell us about their influences ahead of their gig this month.

Millennials face a barrage of criticism as well as being burdened with the anxiety social media can cause. So Lizzy and Catherine Ward Thomas come across as a thoroughly refreshing duo.

Lyrically the twins have tackled issues close to their hearts on their new album Restless Minds, with observations on social media, the women’s movement, what “the truth” means today and mental health, which inspired #NoScrollSunday.

With support from The Wandering Hearts, they will perform at Guildford’s G Live on Tuesday, 26th February, which is almost a home gig. “We know Guildford very well,” the sisters tell me. “We grew up only 20 minutes away and went to school near Cranleigh. We’ve been to the Borderline a lot to watch fellow musicians play as well as playing there ourselves.”

Catherine and Lizzy grew up in a very musical family. “Our parents were in a band and they played a lot of The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles. Our cousin introduced us to country music and we became obsessed with Dixie Chicks and many others. We’ve listened to a whole range of genres growing up and still do now. We’re drawn to a great melody, an authentic storyline with great lyrics. We also feel strongly that – in this modern digital age – we all crave honesty, authenticity and things that take us back to our roots. So that could also be what’s drawing people into country more nowadays.”

Country music might be enjoying a surge in popularity but the twins dislike pigeon-holing their music when it comes to genres… “So when we write, we go into the room with the attitude of ‘let’s write what we feel today’. Then when we get to the studio we always have fun experimenting with what kind of production works best for a particular song. So we’re always wanting to be open-minded to blending genres together within an album.”

I wonder what it’s like performing and making music as twins? “It’s great! We’ve gone through a lot together growing up but have different perspectives on the same topic or event. So it really works in the creative process. And performing together is a real treat as we have a lot of fun connecting with each other musically on stage and singing together in general. We’re really excited to get back on the road!”

● Ward Thomas will play at Guildford’s G Live on Tuesday, 26th February.

For more information please visit www.wardthomasmusic.com/live

BEAT cancer…

Round & About

Marlborough

A Woking couple have launched a “BEAT” awareness campaign for ovarian cancer.

The husband of a Woking woman who realised she had ovarian cancer after reading an article about it, is leading a campaign to make 20,000 women aware of the signs.

Kathryn Norris was diagnosed in March 2017. She had been eating less, felt tired and noticed her breasts were swollen. Her GP referred her for a transvaginal ultrasound, but before this she became uncomfortable with abdominal bloating. She remembered a magazine article highlighting the key symptoms of ovarian cancer; B for bloating, E for eating less and feeling fuller quicker, A for abdominal pain and T for toilet changes.

The ultrasound revealed the 66-year-old did indeed have stage 2 ovarian cancer. After a hysterectomy and six months of chemotherapy she is being monitored every three months. “I feel so lucky my disease was caught early enough to be treated and to give me the chance of staying healthy,” says Kathryn who is now a grandmother.

Her husband Graham, the men’s captain at Hoebridge Golf Club, is using his term to spread awareness of the signs of the disease and is leading a BEAT campaign to tell 20,000 women about the symptoms and raise £20,000 for ovarian cancer charities. The idea is that every woman told will tell 10 more and he is starting with the 120 lady members.

Graham and ladies captain Pat Collins aim to reach their target by December helping charities Ovacome and Ovarian Cancer Action and have fundraising events planned including a golf day in July. He says: “If this helps to save one life it’s has been worth it.”

   For more about ovarian cancer please visit www.ovacome.org.uk or www.ovarian.org.uk

Bowie & beyond

Round & About

Marlborough

Liz Nicholls chats to Woody Woodmansey ahead of the Holy Holy show this month…

Three years on from Bowie’s death, his bandmate Woody Woodmansey still finds the concept of him being “gone” utterly surreal.

“He’s probably in my thoughts most of the time,” says Woody, “but it’s the same for everyone – he doesn’t go away. The music we created has lasted the test of time. We never ever thought the music we made 40 years ago would still be on the radio.”

Together with producer Tony Visconti, drummer and “Spider Man from Mars” Woody are getting set to take their Holy Holy tour around the UK with an all star band including glorious Bowie-esque vocals from Heaven 17’s Glenn Gregory. The group will perform Bowie’s material from 1969-73.

I ask Woody about meeting David for the first time, when he arrived at his flat in a big gothic building in Beckenham… “I had all these questions in my head,” says Woody. “Like: was he clever or thick? Could he write? Mick [Ronson] had raved on and on about him. I was expecting this curly-haired folkie from Space Oddity but he opened the door in a rainbow T-shirt, silver belt and red corduroy trousers and shoes he’d painted blue stars on. We chatted about music and I could tell he was intelligent. Then he picked his 12 string up and amazed me with his presence – he never flinched for a moment.”

Woody duly turned down the tempting offer of a managerial job at a glasses factory in his native Yorkshire to join Bowie down in London and make history. “The music industry had become so

boring and we wanted to give it a kick up the ****, which I guess we did!” laughs Woody.

I ask Woody whether his love of music started at school. “No! I didn’t become aware if music until after school,” he laughs his throaty, smoky cackle. “I just played Hendrix, Led Zep and Cream records, putting my finger on the vinyl to slow it down a bit and hear what the drums were doing so I could copy it. I only learned the rudiments later.”

This time three years ago, Woody and the band were playing the High Line in New York, not far from where David lived. “It was his birthday and Tony decided to call him. We played a bad karaoke version of Happy Birthday. The audience joined in and he loved that. He asked them what they thought of Black Star, which had come out that day and they went wild! We said we’d catch up soon but of course never did because two days later his son messaged the news. David had always seemed invincible. On the Ziggy tours he was barely eating and was often really ill but he always got on stage and smashed it. After the news we weren’t sure whether to carry on but David would have so we did, in celebration of him. And here we are now, still celebrating him. Our rider might be a bit less rock and roll but the spirit is just the same.”

● The Holy Holy UK tour runs from 8th to 24th February, including shows at Guildford’s G Live and London Palladium.

Magic of musicals: Anton & Erin

Round & About

Marlborough

Strictly Come Dancing’s “Mr Debonair” Anton du Beke tells Peter Anderson about his upcoming show in Guildford, together with dance partner Erin Boag.

Dance those Magic Musicals will present a marvellous world in which ballroom meets musical theatre with song and dance numbers set to iconic shows which have delighted audiences for decades.

Anton and Erin will be joined on stage by a sensational West End dance ensemble to present dances to Phantom of the Opera, Mary Poppins, 42nd Street and many other well-known musicals. They will be accompanied by the London Concert Orchestra conducted by Richard Balcombe who has also arranged the music, and the brilliant star vocalist Lance Ellington who may well be joined by Anton in some numbers!

I wondered, with this wide variety of musicals, which was Anton’s favourite decade for dance in musicals? “It’s not a choice I could make,” he laughs. “Each had some brilliant points, from the “big bands” of the 1920s, of which I’m a great fan, through to the spectacular choreography of Busby Berkeley to the incredible musicals between the 1950s and more recent times with shows like Wicked and Jersey Boys.”

Anton says this will be more a show-within-a-show with a selection of music from each musical, and then of course all the evenings will conclude with the now popular Q&A session with Anton and Erin. A desire by the couple to stretch themselves means neither of them have choreographed any of the numbers in the show that has fallen to Nikki Woollaston. As well as choreographing a number of Anton & Erin’s recent tours, Nikki has also choreographed many operas and musicals including Oklahoma at the Chichester Festival Theatre.

With all these numbers from musicals, would Anton fancy touring with a musical himself? “Maybe some time in the future,” he tells me. “One of the problems with musicals is they tend to stay at a theatre for a week, and with my twins as young as they are I just don’t want to be continually away from them. Doing the shows like I do, for the most part I can get back to south Bucks and be with my wife and the twins at night.”

Speaking of venues, is there one that Anton would love to take one of his and Erin’s shows to? There can only be one, he says. “The London Palladium! I so loved working with Sir Bruce Forsyth on Strictly and it was a place he made his own.”

Dance those Magic Musicals is on Saturday, 23rd February, at Guildford’s G Live.

For tickets please visit www.glive.co.uk or call 01483 369350.

Party popper! Abigail’s Party in Woking

Round & About

Marlborough

Jodie Prenger leads the cast in Abigail’s Party, Mike Leigh’s ground-breaking play at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre from Monday, 25th February, to Saturday, 2nd March.

Welcome to 1970s suburbia and its heady mix of free-flowing cocktails, classic disco and cheese and pineapple sticks…

Mike Leigh’s iconic Abigail’s Party is one of Britain’s most celebrated comedies and was described by The Guardian as “one of the greatest plays about the human condition ever written”.

Jodie says: “Abigail’s Party is a true British classic and a real bucket list part for me. I’m thrilled to be involved in something so wonderful. I can’t wait to get started!”

Jodie landed the role of Nancy in Cameron Mackintosh’s revival production of Oliver! at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane after winning BBC One’s I’d Do Anything.

She has guest presented for Elaine Paige and Paul O’Grady on many occasions with BBC Radio 2. Other BBC Radio 2 appearances include Wogan, co-hosting Going Out With Alan Carr, Chris Evans’ Breakfast Show, The Olivier Awards 2010 and Children in Need 2009 with Graham Norton. Recently, Jodie starred in the one-woman UK tour of Shirley Valentine and has just finished playing the role of Kelly in the production of Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends on its UK tour with music written by Nick Lloyd Webber.

● New Victoria Theatre is in the Peacocks Centre, Woking, GU21 6GQ.

  To book tickets call 0844 871 7645 or visit www.atgtickets/woking

Grape expectations: Albury Vineyard

Round & About

Marlborough

Enjoy a wine time at Albury Vineyard and take a bit of the vine home with you.

If your passion for wine goes beyond just enjoying a glass or two then how about taking a bit of a vineyard home with you?

Albury Vineyard in the beautiful Surrey Hills produces organic English wines without the use of chemicals under the watchful eye of owner Nick Wenman and vineyard manager Alex.

Join Alex, one of the few female vineyard managers in England, for an informative and insightful pruning demonstration on Saturday, 16th February, have a go yourself and then take a bit of Albury Vineyard home with you in the form of a vine cutting and who knows where that could lead…

Find out about what goes into planting and maintaining a vine to produce the perfect wine such as the still rosé and the sparkling whites at Albury. The vines are the traditional Champagne varietals of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, as well as some Pinot Gris and Seyval.

Nick planted the vineyard in 2009 having retired from the IT industry to fulfil his dream of owning a vineyard and believes the commitment to organic production together with the winemakers themselves are the key to their success.

The vineyard is situated on the southern slopes of the North Downs, just outside Guildford.

Tickets include a glass of Albury Estate Sparkling Wine to enjoy after the demonstration.

For more information about the vineyard go to www.alburyvineyard.com and to book tickets go to www.eventbrite.com