Star Q&A: Raymond Blanc

Round & About


Liz Nicholls asks star chef Raymond Blanc about feeding the soul in isolation, finding your calling & his surprising favourite foodstuff…

Q. Many of us parents have been home schooling, or stressing about home schooling over the last few months… Being self-taught, do you have any encouraging words about how youngsters can find their calling, school or no school? “The key is to find your passion and follow it. I am self-taught in the sense that I didn’t ‘study’ my craft but I did ‘learn’ my craft from the best. This includes my maman who taught me so much as a child about taking the best local, seasonal ingredients and turning them into wonderful, hearty, family dishes. I learnt from great chefs who I worked under – I paid attention, I practised, I pushed forward and made my own way into a world that inspired me so much.”

Q. Your childhood sounds idyllic. What’s one thing parents can do to nurture their children’s love of food? “There is nothing that will inspire children more or make them want to try new tastes and textures than to have been part of the creative process of preparing and cooking the dishes. To this day certain dishes like a simple and delicious apple tart evoke such strong and joyous childhood memories of being in the French country kitchen, cooking with my mother.”

Q. Is there anything you don’t eat or drink? “I do all I can to avoid processed food. I once bought a processed loaf and could not believe that after two weeks there was no mould on it! In France, every little village has a boulangerie and the French buy fresh bread sometimes three times a day. Today there are a wealth of wonderful artisan food producers in the UK and they must be supported.”

Q. What’s the one food or drink that you just couldn’t do without? “Not a food I can’t do without but one I have only recently discovered – brown sauce! Yes, who would imagine a Frenchman loving the humble brown sauce. I had been Living in England for almost 40 years when one day a friend offered me a bacon butty with brown sauce. I can tell you now, it was a revelation. I cannot believe I waited so long!

Q. What’s the most useful kitchen gadget or kit no kitchen should be without? “I think most chefs would agree when I say a great set of kitchen knives. Having the correct sharp knife for each and every task in the kitchen will make everything so much easier and so much more enjoyable. Good knives are easy to handle, they are well balanced and, looked after properly, can last you a lifetime.. Another piece of kit I love is my Kenwood Chef kitchen mixer. I’ve used these machines for over 30 years, in my kitchens and cookery school, and the precision and durability is fantastic.”

Q. We’re supporting our hospitality heroes – how important it is this industry? And do you have any words of solidarity for your fellow hospitality heroes? “The UK hospitality industry employs over 3 million people, many of them just starting out on the career ladder – young, eager and full of high hopes and expectation. For them, and for the whole of the hospitality sector I say try and stay strong. It has been such a hard year but we are all in this together and we know that once this if over our restaurants, pubs, hotels will be the first places people will want to visit to reclaim some normality and joy. We live to deliver those special moments of magic and will be back to doing what we do best very soon.”

Q. What one piece of advice would you give to anyone wanting to start out as a chef? “One route is via apprenticeships. There are very many excellent apprenticeships that will give you a superb introduction to commercial kitchens. We run them at both Le Manoir and at Brasserie Blanc and can take someone with basic skills, give them the best training they could hope for and set them up for a successful career with no limits. Some of the best known chefs in the UK started this way, including Michael Caines and Ollie Dabbous who were both apprentices at my Le Manor!”

Q. How have you coped throughout the last year & what have been your go-to sanity savers? “I was at home, and isolated from most of my family – as well as my team of chefs at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and Brasserie Blanc. My way of keeping sane was to cook and cook! I chose simple dishes that evoked happy memories and provided the connection to those who I missed so much. I used ingredients that were easily-available and needed only basic kitchen equipment and out of this came the inspiration for my new television series and book Simply Raymond.”

Q. Who would be your five dream dinner party guests, living or dead, real or fictional? “Other than friends or family, of course, what could be better, I think it would be amazing to have one big table with all the great chefs I have been lucky enough to train over the years. What great things they could teach me now.”

Q. Like me, you eat regularly at Brasserie Blanc… What are your favourite dishes on the menu? “Yes, I live very close to our Brasserie Blanc in Oxford so I am in there at least once a week. I help to create the seasonally changing menu with our Executive Chef Clive Fretwell who learned his craft under me at Le Manoir – we have worked together for over 30 years now – amazing! I know all of the dishes very well, every season I have a new favourite but some dishes are classics and stay on the menu throughout, including our very special cheese soufflé. I enjoy this as a starter but also on its own for a light lunch – it is so incredibly light in texture that you can almost imagine it is calorie-free!”

Q. What other exciting plans do you have on the horizon? “I currently have the new television series Simply Raymond Blanc running on ITV on Saturdays mornings. This will be repeated over the summer on weekday evenings so if you have missed any of them don’t worry! My new recipe book is also coming out any day now – Simply Raymond. Like the television series the book is a collection of my favourite, simple home-cooked recipes – nothing fussy or over-complicated. These dishes are the ones that mean the most to me; the ones that connect me to my dearest family and friends.”

Star Q&A: Andy Triggs Hodge

Round & About


Three times Olympic rowing gold medallist Andy Triggs Hodge started rowing because he thought it would be fun, now he is sharing that sense of fun through Race The Thames 2021, we chatted to him about his career, the importance of sport and the event taking place in March

How did you get involved in rowing in the first place and why, what was it that attracted you to it?

I started rowing at Staffordshire Uni – not a typical rowing uni – because a friend suggested it would be fun. I had no idea what that innocent moment would lead to. From there I found something that sparked my imagination, passion and vitality in life as a whole, and I found myself getting better grades, improving my outlook in life, everything seemed to get better when I took up the oar. It really does conform to the saying, ‘the more you put in the more you’ll get out’.

Were you sporty generally?

I was always last to be picked for school sports, football, running, etc. I used to play a bit of rugby in the second row, but I never scored a try or flourished. I challenge everyone who thinks themselves as unathletic, I believe they just haven’t found ‘their’ sport. It’s why giving young people a chance to try all forms of sport through school is key to their development as well-rounded individuals. Sport plays such a big part in life, everyone will be good at one sport, they just have to find it. This also applies to adults.

Lewis Hamilton said winning the seventh F1 world title was beyond his wildest dreams, but that he had ‘secretly dreamt as high as this’, when you got into rowing was that your ‘secret dream’ to get to the top, winning Olympic and World titles?

I started rowing because I enjoyed it, and I’m lucky enough to say that I finished rowing enjoying it. Winning was always and only a by product of the elements I held dearest – self-improvement; enjoyment and being with friends in a common goal, the sacrifice; achieving one’s potential in anything is directly proportional to the sacrifices made.

Do you miss that competitiveness now you’ve retired or are you someone who has to win at everything you do?

Winning has never been a driver for me, since I retired, I replaced my passion to achieve something (which only started when I found rowing) with two things: First, trying to be a good husband, to make up for the time my wife had to put me first despite the hardships in her life, and to my sons who saw a dad who was reduced to the knackered shell of a man each day as I returned from a training programme designed to keep the human body on the red line seven days a week. Secondly, to find a way to create something for the sport I love. Rowing needs new avenues and opportunities as the sport risks becoming obsolete. Now my focus is on Race the Thames – an event for London Youth Rowing. I’m very excited and can’t wait to see how it lands in March!

Tell us about Race the Thames 2021, how can people get involved?

The event is trying to be as open and inclusive as possible, primarily an indoor rowing event, but you can also contribute to the challenge on any indoor machine. There are two challenges for the teams of eight (male, female or mixed) to choose from; the Race the Tidal Thames, 72km completed in a week or a day, and the Race the River Thames, 342km completed in a week. The ‘field of play’ is an amazing online map that we’re going to bring to life in an exciting way. We’re looking for teams of rowers and non rowers alike: friends, families and colleagues, schools and places of work, across gyms, home machines, anywhere people can access a machine, and any time in the week of 19th to 26th March.

And it’s in aid of London Youth Rowing, what’s that all about and who does it help?

Teams choose their own charity to support, as well as LYR with proceeds split 50:50 – I’m really proud to be able to support many charities through this event. LYR supports young people from backgrounds and communities that would make it very difficult for them to find rowing. I had a comfortable up bringing and I discovered rowing through luck and my ‘privilege’, and it still had such an impact on me it’s hard to comprehend. So many young people who are trapped in the hardest walks of life won’t have that chance without LYR, and knowing the benefits it could have on those individuals, not necessarily to achieve Olympic success, but simply to improvements to life by just participating like I had at uni, is motivation enough for me to live through LYR.

The LYR website says one of the aims is to ‘help young people recover their physical and mental health in 2021’ – with the events of 2020 just how important is this for everyone and how can exercise play its part in this?

Sport is so important at many levels, lockdown has decreased sport across the board. Rebuilding that is essential to getting back on track to increase activity in young people and adults alike, but also to recover our sense of wellness and vitality in our communities. I hope Race the Thames is the motivation to our participants to keep our spirits up and the inspiration to those who LYR help to keep striving and pushing forward.

To find out more and get involved visit

Unique moment of time

Round & About


Professor Stephen Hawking had a fascinating relationship with time and this year Bremont are marking that and honouring the eminent scientist with the launch of its Bremont Hawking watch collection.

The brand has worked with the Hawking family to create something unique and special dedicated to the British scientist whose stud of time enhanced our understanding of the universe and beyond.

The classically styled Bremont Hawking Limited Edition watch features a retrograde seconds hand and grand date and contains four wooden discs inlaid into the back of the watch taken from the desk at which Hawking contemplated the mysteries of the universe.

Only a limited number of watches will be made and all with unique features setting them apart as a truly stunning timepiece.

To complement the men’s watch, Bremont is also releasing a limited edition number of women’s watches, the first it has produced and around the face lies a bezel of diamonds – another first for Bremont.

Bremont co-founder Nick English said of the collection: “Professor Stephen Hawking was arguably one of the most pre-eminent scientists of the last hundred years. We wanted to celebrate this incredible man’s life and his fascinating relationship with time.”

Bremont is an award-winning British company producing beautifully engineered chronometers at their headquarters in Henley.

The GREAT outdoors!

Round & About


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

t’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. 120 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,

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 another taking its first tentative steps to reopening some of its properties and the sheer joy of being able to set foot somewhere other than your doorstep or local park is overwhelming.

With many restrictions still in place, the Trust has welcomed visitors to walk in some of its open spaces locally – Runnymede; Witley and Milford Commons; Frensham Little Pond; Hindhead Commons; Swan Barn Farm, Black Down and Marley Common in Haslemere; Petworth; Lavington Common at Woolbeding; Selborne Common and Hydon’s Ball and Heath, Godalming. Car parks have reopened at these sites, some
with limited space on a first come first served basis.

As from the beginning of June, some of its 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 are: Hinton Ampner, Mottisfont and The Vyne in Hampshire; Polesden Lacey, Hatchlands Park, Claremont and Winkworth Arboretum in Surrey and Standen House and Garden and Nymans, West Sussex.

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 Painshill is welcoming visitors again with appropriate social distancing measures in place. The grotto, upper floors of the Gothic Tower and gift shop are closed but the tearoom is open for takeaways and picnics can be enjoyed in the grounds. Bookings must be made in advance and entry numbers are restricted, visit
RHS Wisley has also partially reopened to the public, again with limitations on numbers and with areas such as glasshouses, alpine houses, bird hides and play areas staying closed.

Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, said: “We are delighted the government has said it is safe to reopen our RHS Gardens because it is proven that spending time outside in green open spaces surrounded by plants has an immensely positive effect on our health.

“We look forward to welcoming our members and visitors safely back and to bringing the joy of plants, flowers, trees and nature back into people’s lives, which for so many will be a much-needed tonic.”

There is limited capacity to comply with government guidelines and booking is essential. Visit

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’.

Make your own garden for wildlife 

Round & About


Photo credit: Adam Cormack

A new campaign launched today by The Wildlife Trust and RHS is asking you to pledge some garden space for butterflies and moths

This year’s Wild About Gardens campaign is calling on gardeners to get growing to help the UK’s falling numbers of butterflies and moths.

The new campaign draws inspiration from a new film adaptation of the Frances Hodgson Burnett classic, The Secret Garden, starring Colin Firth, Julie Walters and newcomer Dixie Egerickx as Mary Lennox. The film will be bringing the magic of wildlife, childhood and gardening to the big screen this spring when it blooms in cinemas across the UK from Good Friday, 10th April.

The Wild About Gardens campaign, run jointly by The Wildlife Trusts and Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), looks at butterflies and moths as important pollinators, who, along with caterpillars, are vital food for birds like robins and blue tits as well as bats. However, their habitats have faced catastrophic declines and once-common species like the small tortoiseshell have dropped by up to 80% in the last 30 years in some areas.

An ideal butterfly garden has a wide variety of plants throughout the year to support their life cycles – for butterflies and moths emerging from hibernation, egg-laying females, caterpillars and then as adults. Early-flowering species such as dandelions, aubretia and native bluebells are good sources of nectar; these could be followed by buddleia and red valerian and, finally, ivy flowers which are a great late-season asset in the autumn. Many wildflowers and long grasses are also excellent larval food-plants. Whether your garden is large or small – or simply a flowering window-box – it could throw these declining insects a lifeline, especially in urban areas.

The Wildlife Trusts’ gardening champion, horticulturist and TV presenter Frances Tophill said: “Our garden flowers and plants provide a rich source of rejuvenating nectar for these much-loved garden visitors as they emerge from hibernation to herald the start of spring.

“Go wild in your garden and leave the dandelions and daisies in the lawn to provide a meal, aim for year-round flowers and include a wildflower area for egg-laying females as well as gardeners’ favourites like lavender, nasturtium and verbena.

“The Wild About Gardens website is packed with information and easy actions we can all take to support butterflies and moths throughout their impressive life cycle.”

The Wildlife Trusts and RHS believe every butterfly garden counts and want to know about every new wild area, box or border that’s being grown for butterflies. Each garden contributes towards the network of green spaces that nature needs to survive and they ask you to pledge a bit of garden for butterflies and put it on the map here 
In the story of The Secret Garden, the garden eases grief, heals rifts and brings the joy out in all who experience it. Make a special place for wildlife – your very own Secret Garden where you can replenish your soul, reconnect with nature and help wildlife to thrive. You’ve probably noticed how spotting butterflies or birds, or walking through woodlands, or alongside rivers and streams can help to lift your mood. Make some time for nature today and enjoy the restorative benefits!

Download or pick up a booklet 
The Wildlife Trusts and RHS have published a beautiful – free – booklet with colourful advice and easy tips designed to make our outdoor spaces more attractive to butterflies, moths and their caterpillars. Available here and on the Wild About Gardens website from today, 12th March. 
These will be available at special events during the spring including the Chelsea Flower Show and promoted through Wildlife Trust events, visitor centres and community action groups including the In Bloom network.

Find more

Find the full range of wildlife gardening booklets, advice and inspiration here 

World Book Day

Round & About


Thursday is the annual worldwide celebration of books and reading that is World Book Day. 

The registered charity is on a mission to give every child and young person a book and champions authors, illustrators and books generally. 

This is the 23rd year of World Book Day which promotes a love of books and reading and gives children the opportunity to have a book of their own. Book tokens are sent to schools along with age-ranged World Book Day resource packs full of ideas and activities for book-related fun. 

Children just take their tokens to a bookshop and can use it for one of the new and completely free books or to get £1 off any book or audio book over £2.99.  

Among the £1 books you can choose from this year are Meet Amelia Fang, the tale of a young vampire by Laura Ellen Anderson; Evie in the Jungle by Matt Haig – meet Evie who can hear what animals are thinking; Chris Smith and Greg James’s Kid Normal and the Loudest Library; a murder most unladylike mini mystery The Case of the Drowned Pearl by Robin Stevens; teen super spy Alex Rider returns in Anthony Horowitz’s Undercover: Four Secret Files and Beth Reekles’s story of young love in The Kissing Booth – Road Trip among others for all ages. 

More info

To find out more visit

British Pie Week

Round & About


Never has the saying ‘nice as pie’ been so apt – who doesn’t love a tasty pastry pie and what better time to indulge than in British Pie Week. 

With so many great recipes to choose from all you need to do is decide whether it’s savoury, sweet, crumble or pasty – why not make a different one every day this week and get all members of the family involved in the cooking too? 

According to the most common internet search results, here’s our top 10, love them or loathe them:- 

1: Cottage Pie 

2: Fish Pie 

3: Shepherd’s Pie 

4: Chicken & Leek Pie 

5: Chicken and Mushroom Pie 

6: Steak and Ale Pie 

7: Meat and Potato Pie 

8: Pork Pie 

9: Steak and Kidney Pie 

10: Corned Beef Pie 

We asked our star baker Christine Wallace to share a pie recipe with us so why not put this on the menu this week? 

Left over turkey, leek and mushroom pie 


• You will need an 8” (20cm) Pie dish.
• 500gm block of butter puff pastry.
• 1 large leek – cut into large chunks
• 120g button mushrooms
• 300g cooked turkey meat
• 1 tsp dried thyme
• 1 tblsp oil
• 50g butter
• 50g plain flour
• 1 pint milk
• ½ tsp onion salt
• White pepper
• Beaten egg for glaze


• Place the oil and butter in a pan and add the leek, gently sweat for 5 minutes but do not brown.

• Add the mushrooms and thyme, cook for a minute.

• Stir in the flour and gently cook for a minute.

• Slowly add the milk until you have a nice thick sauce, add the turkey meat and cook for a couple of minutes.

• Add the onion salt and a little pepper then pour into your pie dish

• Roll out the pastry and cover the pie, sealing well and fluting the edges.

• Brush with beaten egg and cook for 30 minutes or until the pastry is well risen and golden brown.

N.B. If you are making the pie to freeze, do NOT add the turkey meat until the leek and mushroom sauce is completely cold. Use fresh puff pastry if you are freezing, not frozen! 

Food, friends and fun

Round & About


Host a supper club on 7th March and raise funds for Eva’s Friends

If you enjoy food, friends and fun while raising money to change children’s lives then Eva’s Friends Supper Club is the event for you.

It couldn’t be easier to get involved – just invite some friends round for dinner on Saturday, 7th March and ask them to donate to Eva’s Friends what they would have paid if they’d gone out to eat and if you don’t fancy cooking, drinks and nibbles works as well.

Last year more than 40 supper clubs were run in aid of the Oxfordshire-based charity and they’re hoping for more this year which will also feature an online auction and competitions too. Chefs Tom Kerridge and Richard Bertinet donated raffle prizes last year.

Eva’s Friends works to fund research into rare neurological conditions in children and is currently helping to fund a gene therapy project to find a cure for Rett Syndrome which affects thousands of children, almost exclusively girls, leaving them unable to walk, talk or use their hands.

There is no known cure and it is thought to affect about 1 in 12,000 girls born each year such as Eva after whom the charity is named.

If you can’t make the main Supper Club event on the 7th, why not arrange another foodie treat in the week beginning 2nd March, how about brunch with friends, afternoon tea, cakes at work – whatever you fancy.

Simply register by emailing to receive a fundraising pack and get cooking!

More info..

To find out more about the charity and how you can support their work visit

Journey of discovery

Round & About


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.

More info..

The poetry competition also returns, open to writers of all ages. There’s information about all of these events online, where you can also request a brochure, buy tickets and find out how you can get involved with Chiltern Arts. You can also call the box office on 01442 920303.

Golf: Hole lotta love

Round & About


“Golf is a good walk spoiled” according to some but to others there’s nothing like the challenge of hitting that small round ball to the best of your ability, avoiding hazards and wayward shots along the course and eventually seeing it drop in the hole.

Whether you’re a fair-weather golfer or are out bright and breezy on a chilly morning, you get to play in some of the most stunning scenery and well-maintained land around and none more so than in Surrey and Hampshire, where you literally can’t hit a golf ball without
coming across a course.

Some of the many clubs in our area have been telling us about their course, favourite holes and offering tips for how to play it as well as sharing their thoughts on this year’s Ryder Cup, the biennial tournament between Europe and the USA. Europe are the holders but will they retain the trophy this time in the USA who will have the support of their vociferous fans?


liphook golf club, liphook gu30 7eh

John Douglas, Secretary

Favourite hole on the course & why? My favourite hole is the 18th. It’s a great risk and reward hole where you can pick up a birdy just as easily as a bogie! It’s also nearer the bar!

Best and worst features of it? It is very picturesque. You come over the hill and the green with its bunkers can be seen with the clubhouse behind. The worst aspect is that you can overshoot the green and end up on the clubhouse car park or worst of all hit the windows to my office!

Any tips for how to play it? A good drive down the left hand side of the fairway is essential. The lay of the land will result in your ball ending up in the middle of the fairway.

Looking ahead to the Ryder Cup, what do you expect? Who will star? I expect Europe to win with (Tommy) Fleetwood being the star! I have no idea really!

clandon regis golf club, west clandon GU4 7TT

Favourite hole on the course & why? The 11th hole, a long par three from white tees with carry over water.

Best and worst features of it? It’s a beautiful and testing hole. Requires a carry of 170 yards.

Any tips for how to play it? Practise your putting before playing the course!

Looking ahead to the Ryder Cup, what do you expect? I expect Europe to win.

Alresford golf club, so24 0pn

Favourite hole on the course & why? The 11th, All Aboard!, so called because the old railway carriage that was the clubhouse from 1953 to 1969 was sited where the 11th tee now stands. It’s the best looking hole on the course and is a lovely dog leg right to left with a tricky raised green with mature trees as a backdrop.

Best and worst features of it? A long testing par 4 hole, visually challenging with the drive played through an avenue of trees. The green slopes back to front and can be slick. A cavernous deep front right bunker is to be avoided at all costs.

Any tips for how to play it? A draw from the right to maximise distance – but make sure you find the fairway. Play your second to avoid the fairway bunker. For handicap golfers lay up well short of the green and take an extra club to the raised green. Two putts and run to the next hole…

Looking ahead to the Ryder Cup, what do you expect? Who will star? Tommy Fleetwood will lead from the front again. The outcome will be close, but the Europeans will retain the trophy.

bramley golf club, GU5 0AL

Favourite hole on the course & why, best & worst features? The 17th is a great par three, measuring 176 yards, from the highly elevated tee you get fantastic views of Chinthurst Hill but with the beautiful take to the left of the green and out of bounds to the right it can be an intimidating tee shot.

Any tips for how to play it? To play Bramley well it is key to hit accurate tee shots and plan your round with precision. The start is challenging but once you’ve reached the 6th you can loosen up and let the ball fly. Make your way down the hill to the 16th and prepare for the three most demanding finishing holes in the area.

You may not know… Bramley Golf Club is the ony club in the area that offers a flexible weekend membership for those members who work during the week but are keen to play at weekends. This also gives members the opportunity to play after 5pm in the summer after work. With around £120,000 being invested in the course over the next three years and excellent practice facilities with a 7-bay covered range, short game area and indoor studio, Bramley is investing in its future.

Looking ahead to the Ryder Cup, what do you expect? Europe to win!

chobham golf club, knaphill GU21 2TZ

Favourite hole on the course & why, best & worst features? The 15th hole is Chobham’s signature hole requiring a long iron or fairway wood to carry the large lake that extends 170 yards from the tee. The well-guarded green with three bunkers makes this par three a true test. Walk off here with a par and you’ll be very happy.

You may not know… Colin Montgomerie laid the last brick at the club and our function room upstairs is named after him.

Looking ahead to the Ryder Cup, what do you expect? Europe to win, of course!


Newbury & Crookham Golf Club, Thatcham RG19 8BZ

Gareth Williams, General Manager

Which is your favourite hole on the course and why? My favourite hole is the 8th hole, the legendary golf commentator Peter Alliss described it on air as one of the hardest holes in Berkshire.

What are the best and worst features of it? A 424-yard par 4 with a stream 270 yards from the tee, with out of bounds to the right.

Any tips for how to play it? A long iron or fairway wood are ideal but a driver would make the second shot easier. The first half of the dog-leg hole is flat, left and up the hill, the second half always plays longer. The green slopes from back to front the trick is staying below the hole with your approach and decide whether to go for a par or accept a bogey and play it as a par 5.

Looking ahead to the Ryder Cup, what do you expect/who will win? With it being in Wisconsin, I would expect the Americans to be favourite. I think Jon Rahm will be strong for Europe. Justin Thomas has a good match-play record for USA.

Ogbourne Downs, Marlborough SN8 1TB

James Short, General Manager

Which is your favourite hole and why? The 14th hole, ‘our signature hole’, called The Long Valley.

What are the best and worst features of it? The hole follows a steep sided valley, the tee is raised and gives a great view down the valley.
Any tips for how to play it? It’s a par 5, the big hitters can go for it in two, it’s really important to get the drive straight as there is a lot of trouble both sides of the fairway.

Interesting fact about the club… Ogbourne Downs Golf Club has had three different names North Wilts Golf Club, Swindon Golf Club and now Ogbourne Downs Golf Club

And looking ahead to the Ryder Cup, who will win? Who will be the star? Europe of course! Tommy Fleetwood will be the star yet again.

Frilford Heath, Abingdon OX13 5NW

Which is your favourite hole on the course and why? 9th on the Red Course is a signature of the club and firm favourite of many. Recently one of our 95-year-old members achieved a hole in one here!

What are the best and worst features? Best thing is having 54 holes of championship golf available, our day rates mean visitors can enjoy unlimited golf for one fee when they play. Worst thing is there aren’t enough hours in the day to play them all, unless you fancy a challenge!
Any tips for how to play it? Each course has its own defence whether it be the tricky greens on the Green Course or the length on the Red. My advice would be to identify and adapt to the defences quickly.

Interesting fact about the club… The late Roger Bannister was a member for over 35 years. We have hosted English Amateur Championships for men and ladies since the club opened and for the last couple of years have hosted the Brabazon Trophy, European Tour Q School and Regional Open Qualifying.

Which Ryder Cup Team will win this year? Europe. We hope our own Eddie Pepperell will be in consideration. Frilford hosted a trial for the Ryder Cup in 1931, we’d love to be involved again.

Temple Golf Club, Hurley, Maidenhead SL6 5LH

Keith Adderley, Club Secretary

Which is your favourite hole and why? I’ll plump for the par 4 18th, it’s a classic risk and reward. The green is in reach but beware the meadow rough and refurbished bunkers. A well-positioned drive leaves a short approach to the green and a very realistic birdie opportunity and then it’s off to the clubhouse for a well-earned drink and meal, with more time to take in the stunning views before heading for home.

What are the best and worst features? Temple is built on chalk and drains very well so it really is a year-round golf course. On the downside we can’t accommodate all the visiting golfers who want to play here at weekends as there isn’t enough car-parking available.

Any tips for how to play it? Temple is a Willie Park Jr. course with a challenging and interesting layout – difficult enough to test low handicap players but friendly enough to encourage those with higher handicaps.

Who do you think will win the Ryder Cup and who will be the star player? Whistling Straits is a links-style course and should suit the Europeans more than other US Ryder Cup venues. Jon Rahm could be the most influential player on the European team.

Bearwood Lakes, Wokingham RG41 4SJ

Which is your favourite hole on the course and why? The 9th, it’s a little par 3 over the water.

What are the best and worst features of the club? We’re friendly and welcoming. Our Sunday carveries are so delicious they are bad for the waist line!

Any tips for the club? Even if you don’t play golf, you could be a social members to make use of the Clubhouse and restaurant.

Interesting fact about the club… Featured in the top 10 most exclusive golf clubs in England.

Who will win the Ryder Cup? Europe, of course!

Harleyford, Marlow SL7 2SP

Which is your favourite hole and why? The best holes at Harleyford are on the back nine, notably the 12th, a picturesque, short par 3 enclosed by steep banks of white chalk. With danger both short and long, the correct club selection is vital. The 14th, a driveable risk and reward par 4, only 314 yards, surrounded by tight, steep pot bunkers, so a wayward tee shot may cost more than your par on this hole.

What are the best and worst features? Throughout the course and grounds are hand crafted driftwood sculptures by James Doran-Webb, notably the iconic stag, standing proudly above the 1st tee. The fantastic short game facilities and range may mean you’re so caught up in your practice you’re late for your tee time!

Interesting fact about the club… Harleyford is the home club of Tyrrell Hatton, who played here as a junior and still practises here regularly.

Who do you expect to win the Ryder Cup? Who will be the star? A tough assignment, but I’m hopeful of a successful trip to Whistling Straits for the European team. We hope Tyrrell will excel again and expect Jon Rahm feature successfully.

Bird Hills Golf Club, Maidenhead SL6 3ST

Ian Richard, Course Manager

Which is your favourite hole on the course and any tips for how to play it? The 17th, it’s a fantastic short par 4. It is well protected with three fairways and two greenside bunkers. If you are out of position from the tee then you will have to navigate around a beautiful large oak tree. Once at the green you will need to read your putts carefully and look out for subtle breaks.

Looking ahead to the Ryder Cup, what do you expect? Who will be the star? Europe to win, it would be nice to win away and relive the memories from Medinah in 2012. Tommy Fleetwood has been flying high for a few years now. I can see him taking this form into the Ryder Cup and bringing it home.

Badgemore, Henley RG9 4NR

Which is your favourite hole and why? 13th is our signature hole, a great challenge! 192 yard for the men and 159 for the ladies. It’s a par 3 across a valley playing to a large green. Once you’ve hit your way across, it makes three putting a distinct possibility.

Any tips for how to play it? It is certainly advisable to know your yardages, with dog legs and sometimes tight flags you’ll have some tricky but exciting shots.

Interesting fact about the club… It was opened in 1972 by Sid James of Carry On fame who was a keen golfer!

Who will win the Ryder Cup? And who will be the best player? We have to back Europe and with Rory McIIroy back to World No. 1 he’ll have a point to prove.

Henley Golf Club, RG9 4HG

Mark Howell, Head PGA Professional

Which is your favourite hole? Hole 18

What is the best feature of it? Hitting the shot into the arena of the 18th green with people watching from the terrace.

Any tips for how to play it? If you think you can go for the green be cautious, it is well guarded with bunkers left and right but it does provide a great opportunity for a birdie finish!

Interesting fact about the club… The peace and tranquillity of nature when playing the course.

Which team will win the Ryder Cup? And who will be the best player? Europe and Justin Rose.