Patek Philippe Rare Handcrafts exhibition

Round & About


Patek Philippe to host the inaugural London edition of the Rare Handcrafts Exhibition 2024 from Friday 7th to Sunday, 16th June

The Patek Philippe event offers the public a rare insider’s perspective into the art of Rare Handcrafts within the family-owned watchmaking company.

The exhibition will take place on the first floor of Bond Street House, 14 Clifford Street in London.

Open to the public with free admission, the exhibition celebrates Patek Philippe’s dedication to preserving rare handcrafts which have been used to decorate timepieces for more than four centuries.

Visitors will be able to explore 83 exhibits over 250sqm. The themed spaces, which include artisans practising their savoir-faire, will take guests on a journey of discover; techniques including enamelling, wood marquetry, guilloche and gemsetting. This is the manufacturer’s largest showcase of rare handcraft timepieces outside of Geneva. The exhibition is open to the public via pre booked ticket reservations on Patek Philippe.

The “Rare Handcrafts 2024” collection (a total of 83 pieces, comprising dome clocks and small dome clocks, table clocks, pocket watches and wristwatches) once again shines the spotlight on a vast range of artistic skills, whether centuries-old techniques (Grand Feu cloisonné enamel, miniature painting on enamel, grisaille enamel, flinqué enamel, paillonné enamel, champlevé enamel, hand engraving, hand-executed guilloché work, or gemsetting) or techniques that are innovating in horology, such as micro wood marquety and Longwy enamel on faience. And not forgetting the growing number of pieces adorned with what are known as “mixed techniques”, uniting, for example, cloisonné enamel and hand-executed guilloché, or hand-engraving and wood marquetry.

The “Rare Handcrafts 2024” collection is also extraordinarily rich in creativity, drawing on multiple sources of inspiration, with motifs ranging from traditional art forms to modern leisure activities, and with subjects inspired by the cultures and landscapes of every continent. These 82 pieces, with their ever-more original and astonishing decorations are presented to great effect in an elegant, specially devised decor divided into three areas.

The Rare Handcrafts Exhibition London 2024, Friday 7th to Sunday, 16th June.

Opening times: 10am until 6pm, Monday-Saturday. From 12pm until 5pm, Sunday.

Address: 1st floor, Bond Street House, 14 Clifford Street, London, W1S 4JU.

To register for free admission to the exhibition, please visit

Content written and supplied by: Patek Philippe

Henley Festival & Regatta extend partnership

Round & About


Henley Festival and Henley Royal Regatta are delighted to announce the continuation of their partnership after signing a new five-year agreement to stage the Festival on the iconic Regatta site.

Running from 2025 to 2030, the agreement, granted by Henley Royal Regatta, will witness the UK’s only black-tie music and arts festival assuming control of the stunning riverside site during the week immediately following the conclusion of Henley Royal Regatta.

The two internationally renowned events are set to make a return at the onset of July, drawing in thousands of visitors to the breath-taking banks of the riverside in Henley-on-Thames.

Founded as a charity more than 40 years ago, Henley Festival’s mission – through its charitable programme RISE – is to champion the next generation of emerging talent. This year, Henley Festival Presented by Westcoast will be held from Wednesday 10th July to Sunday 14th July, featuring a world-class music programme spanning pop, world, classical, folk, and jazz genres, complemented by comedy, art, galleries, sculpture installations, dining, dancing, and jaw-dropping fireworks. The five enchanting summer nights will play host to headliners including Nicole Scherzinger, Dave Stewart’s Eurythmics Songbook, Trevor Nelson, Gladys Knight, Rylan, Nigel Kennedy, Sam Ryder, and more. For all ticket information, visit the festival website: Henley Festival | 10th-14th July 2024 (

Sue Laing, Chair of Henley Festival, said: “We are thrilled to have a new five-year agreement with Henley Royal Regatta. It marks our commitment to the Festival’s future, as well as to the growth of our charitable programme RISE – which is at the heart of everything we do. We couldn’t be prouder of our home in Henley, and are very excited to welcome festival-goers to our stunning riverside in July – to see headline acts on our unique Floating Stage, including Nicole Scherzinger and Gladys Knight with her final ever show, and to be part of something truly amazing.”

Henley Royal Regatta, founded in 1839, is the best-known rowing Regatta in the world: celebrated for its match-racing, it is a true highlight of the Summer sporting calendar with over 400 races of an international standard, featuring Olympians and emerging stars from around the world. The 2024 Regatta will take place from Tuesday 2 July until Sunday 7 July, with tickets and further information available on Home – Henley Royal Regatta (

Sir Steve Redgrave, said: “As Chair of Henley Royal Regatta we are so excited to have at least another five years linking the Regatta and the Festival together. We all know that the local community and further afield love both events; Henley Royal Regatta being the largest rowing event in the world, a highlight of the summer season with thousands of visitors travelling to Henley-on-Thames to see world-class racing and the Festival showcasing some amazing acts and entertainment bringing the local community together in a fantastic celebration.”

Mercers Solicitors – Justine McCool

Round & About


Meet Justine McCool, head of the Litigation and the Contentious Trust and Estates team at Mercers Solicitors.

Justine, a Partner at Mercers Solicitors, based in Henley-on-Thames, specialises in the following areas:

Contentious Probate and Trusts, this includes the following:

• Any challenge to the validity of a Will for reasons of lack of testamentary capacity, the testator was unaware of the terms of the will or was unduly influenced, or a failure to follow the legal requirements.
• Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
• Claims against Executors or Trustees for breach of duty.
• Resolving disputes between Executors or Trustees.

Disputes between co-owners of property, this includes the following:

• Often these disputes are about whether and when a property should be sold and how the owners of the property should split the proceeds of the sale.
• Justine has extensive knowledge on the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996

Commercial and Residential Property disputes, this includes the following:

• Business lease renewals
• Breach of lease disputes, including rent arrears
• Forfeiture
• Residential repossession claims
• Dilapidation claims
• Rights of way and easements
• Residential lease renewals

Justine and her team regularly prepare articles and guidance on the above matters, but also key considerations such as how to avoid lengthy litigation and why alternative dispute resolution might be appropriate.

Take a look at our most recent articles here… Latest News | Read Our Blog (

If you require assistance regarding a dispute, please contact Justine McCool, who will be happy to help.

Producer Profile: Graham Beck

Round & About


Our wine columnist, Giles Luckett, catches up with Graham Beck’s Cellarmaster, Pierre de Klerk

I’ve called this piece a producer profile as that’s technically what it is, in the same way that a Ferrari is technically just another car. This is probably closer to a hymn of praise. As regular readers of this column will know, I’ve recommended Graham Beck’s wines on many occasions – and rightly so, they’re fantastic, and offer a mix of quality and value that’s hard to find. I’ve been an admirer of their wines for over twenty years and I’ve never had a bad bottle.

So what makes Graham Beck’s wines so good? To find out I caught up with their Cellarmaster Pierre de Klerk to discuss his vineyards, his wine, his thoughts on climate change and wine, and the future of South African wine in general.

Giles: Graham Beck is based in Robertson, one of the cooler areas of South African wine production if memory serves. How important is this location to the quality of your wines?

Pierre: The site is everything. You can have the best vines, the best winery, and the best winemakers in the world but if you don’t have great sits to produce great grapes, you can’t make great wine. Robertson has a cool climate, but within any one vineyard you can have microsites that produce different results. It can be challenging, but it also gives you amazing raw materials to work with.

Giles: How would you sum up your winemaking philosophy?

Pierre: For me, winemaking is about nurturing and respecting what nature gives you. When making sparkling wines, you need to keep your eye on the ball as there are just too many pitfalls. Most of the time you’re working with a mix of grapes from a number of different sites and to get consistency and harmony you need to be vigilant.

Graham Beck Brut (Majestic £11.99). White gold with amber lowlights. It’s elegant, fresh and refined, with a lovely nose of Granny Smith apples, limes, coconut, and yeast. On the palate, it’s clean yet rich and offers plenty of white fruits with hints of honey and spice. It’s perfect as an aperitif, with seafood or white meats and creamy cheeses.

Giles: South Africa makes great wines across the board. I’ve had fantastic Chardonnays, Cabernets, and Pinot Noirs from districts such as Stellenbosch, Walker Bay, and Paarl. Why do you think South Africa is so well-suited to producing sparkling wines though?

Pierre: It’s cool enough to give grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay the long ripening season they need. The sunny, dry climate, low levels of disease and the diversity of the South African soils add colours to your palate to paint the final picture. Chardonnay on limestone in Robertson [very similar to those found in Champagne] is completely different to Chardonnay on granite in Stellenbosch. It’s ideal for world-class, sun-kissed sparkling wine.

Graham Beck Vintage Rosé (Simply Wines Direct £17.99). Deep pink with an inviting bouquet of red berries and blossom, this is fuller than the Graham Beck Non-Vintage Rosé (Majestic £16.99 or £11.99 on mixed six) and has cherry, mulberry and blackcurrant notes, good intensity and sufficient weight to partner with food.

Giles: ‘Right grape, right site’ is a mantra I hear a lot these days, and it’s one that seems to have played a significant role in the elevation of the quality of wines in Australia, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa. Is site selection important to you?

Pierre: Respect the best combination of soil and climate. Site selection matters hugely. Come into our cellars and taste 200 base wines [still wines from which the final sparkling wine will be made] and from two cultivars [Pinot and Chardonnay], you’ll be flabbergasted by the differences.

Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs (Majestic £18.99) is 100% Chardonnay, it’s golden, with a nose that’s delicate yet weighty and complex with apples, pears, toasted brioche, citrus and yeast. On the palate, it’s soft and yielding, with white peach, yellow plum, and red pear fruit offset by honey, spices and vanilla. There’s an intriguing mix of delicacy and intensity that is the hallmark of a great blanc de blancs, and the obvious bottle age has added depth.

Giles: How do you see the future for South African sparkling wines? More innovation? New wines?

Pierre: The future is bright for varietal [single grape] wines. We traded some Pinot Noir for some Pinot Meunier [one of Champagne’s black grapes] a few years ago and we were impressed with the results. We have now planted our own Meunier vines which will give us our first vintage in 2026. That should be very exciting.

There’s been a trend in sparkling wines in recent years to offer ‘ultra-dry’ styles. These low or no dosage – dosage being a mix of wine and sugar that’s added to balance acidity and improve mouthfeel – can be delicious, particularly when they have had some bottle age. These wines leave a winemaker with nowhere to hide, however. Underripe grapes, blending miscalculations and winemaking errors are laid bare.

Get it right though and you have marvellous wines such as the Graham Beck Ultra Brut 2016 (Vinum £19.95), a wonderful expression of this style. Deep gold with a rich, dried white fruit nose, it’s ripe on the palate and displays white fruits, honey and a touch of cocoa bean creamy bitterness. The finish is bone dry, clean, and mineral-laden. This is an intriguing style of sparkling wine that’s well worth trying.

Giles: Is climate change having an impact on South African wine?

Pierre: Climate change isn’t happening, it’s happened. It’s getting drier and it’s getting hotter. I was in Elgin, one of the coolest regions in South Africa, in February and it was 23 degrees at 7 in the morning. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir might not be the be-all and end-all in the future. We’re experimenting with new varietals. We’re excited about the possibilities, but there are challenges ahead.

Thanks to Pierre for his time and keep up the great work!

My last recommendation is the Graham Beck Cuvee Clive (Frontier Fine Wines £42.95) – this is their top wine, their cuvée prestige as they say in Champagne. Made in the finest years and using their best fruit, it doesn’t just take South African sparkling wine to new heights, but sparkling wine in general. Made from vines in Robertson and Darling, it receives three months of ageing in oak before spending five years on its lees (yeast and other bits left over after the second fermentation in bottle) ahead of its release.

The resulting wine is amber in colour, with a complex nose of apricots, dried pears, vanilla and blood orange. The palate is weighty and nuanced and floods the mouth with sweetly tinted green and yellow fruits, vanilla smoke, lime, and salt-tinted minerals. This is a mighty wine that somehow manages to remain balanced and refined.

Green & easy! Wonderful watercress recipes

Round & About


May brings us the start of British watercress season, thanks to The Watercress Company’s recipes

Watercress is packed with over 50 vitamins and minerals, including exceptionally high levels of vitamins C, E and A, folate and calcium.  It is also rich in iron (nearly twice as much as spinach) that’s more easily absorbed, making it an essential addition to any vegetarian or vegan diet.  

Another little-known fact about watercress relates to amino acids; compounds that play many critical roles in the body, including regulating the immune function and building muscle. The best sources of essential amino acids are animal proteins like meat, eggs, and poultry but, unusually for a plant, watercress has a full complement of the nine essential amino acids.

Hot honey salmon  & watercress salad


• 80g watercress

• Two salmon fillets

• One lemon, quartered

• One avocado, sliced

For the hot honey:

• 50ml honey

• Two garlic cloves, halved

• 1-2 tsp chilli flakes

For the quick pickled red onions:

• ½ red onion, thinly sliced

• 2tbsp vinegar – white wine
or apple cider

• ½ tsp salt

•1tsp sugar

“Watercress has a full complement of the nine essential amino acids”


1.        For the hot honey, warm the honey gently in a small pan. Add the garlic and chilli flakes and allow to infuse. Once fragrant and spicy, remove from the heat.

2.        For the red onions, in a bowl or jar with a lid, add the sliced onion. Pour over the vinegar before sprinkling
in the salt and sugar. Give it a mix, or shake, to combine and
let it sit while you prepare everything else.

3.        Brush one side of the salmon with the hot honey. Lay it coated side down in a hot pan and cook for five or six minutes. Brush the topside with a little more of the honey, flip and repeat.

4.        To assemble the salad, split the watercress between two plates. Add ½ the avocado to each plate. Top with the salmon fillets and a spoonful of the red onion. Drizzle everything with a little more of the hot honey.

5.        Serve with the lemons, squeezing fresh lemon juice over everything.

Ä Roast broccoli, Parmesan & watercress salad


• 140g broccoli florets, about half a head of broccoli

• 40g watercress

• 30g Parmesan, shaved

• 15g pomegranate seeds

•Oil, salt & pepper


1.         Preheat the oven to 180°. On a baking tray, arrange the broccoli florets. Spray or drizzle a little oil over the broccoli and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 10-12 mins, until the broccoli is cooked.

2.         In a bowl, toss the cooked broccoli together with the watercress and arrange on a plate. On top, shave the parmesan over the salad. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds for a pop of sweetness.

For these and other inspiring watercress recipes, visit or find LoveWatercress on Facebook and Instagram

Summer of love! 2024 festivals guide

Liz Nicholls


Ready to rumble? Liz Nicholls looks at the fabulous festivals on offer this summer, for happy campers & fairweather fans, with tickets up for grabs, too!

Miss out on Glasto tickets!? Never mind: there are so many festivals to choose from, large and small, with something for everyone. And Astonbury might well give Glastonbury a run for its money! Read on…

Cookham Festival, 2nd to 19th May, has a line-up of literary and musical stars, including Lorraine Kelly, Theresa May, Ross Kemp, Will Gompertz, Terry Waite, Stars of the West End with Toby Cruse, Rogue Opera, Formosa Fest, Cantorum Choir, local comedians, The Cookham Ceilidh team and more. Enjoy art, at this community fave;

Immerse yourself in the magic of live classical music with the Investec International Music Festival, with world-class concerts, walks and talks across the Surrey Hills, including RHS Wisley, West Horsley Place & The Menuhin Hall in Stoke d’Abernon 7th-18th May;

The 45th Newbury Spring Festival offers a fortnight of world-class classical music, including the Sheepdrove Piano Competition, 11th-25th May;

Wholesome family favourite WOOD is back at Braziers Park in Oxfordshire, 17th, 18th & 19th May with children’s fun including the marvellous Nick Cope, music and more workshops than you can shake a stick at;

Live music and horse racing is odds-on for a good time, and Newbury Racecourse has both! Firstly, Lovely Laura & Ben Santiago will star at the Lockinge race day on Saturday, 18th May. Then the mighty Sigala will star on 20th July & Dizzee Rascal on 17th August for Party In The Paddock sizzlers!  

An amazing team of volunteers have been working flat out to make the 51st Chippenham Folk Festival, 24th-27th May the best yet. Melrose Quartet, Breabach, Tim Edey, Bruce Hamilton, John Tams, patron John Kirkpatrick & more will star; visit

Chesham Fringe Festival, 25th-27th May, will offer you a vibrant array of local, national and international talent, music, comedy, theatre, cabaret, spoken word, book and poetry readings, food & drink; visit

Sorted for Cheese and Fizz..? That’s not me making yet another (wholesome) reference to Jarvis Cocker’s lyrics. It’s the name of a fantastic local four-piece band who’ll bring their ’90s bops to Shynefest. This fun, family-friendly festival returns to Merrist Wood College in Worplesdon, on 31st May & 1st June. Other stars set to keep all the generations entertained include (the actual) Dodgy, Counterfeit Kylie and The Faux Fighters, with kids’ fun including a climbing wall, Bubble Fairy, football and circus skills, with camping & glamping options. Please visit

Returning to Cheltenham Racecourse for its 18th year wondrous Wychwood will dazzle you with music, comedy, kids’ fun, literature & workshops, 31st May to 2nd June. Sister Sledge, The Coral, Seth Lakeman, Seasick Steve, Dexy’s, Stereo MCs and CBBC’s Hacker T Dog and Katie Thistleton will star;

Witney Music Festival on 7th & 8th June will dazzle The Leys with Lucille & The Lightning Soul Train & more;

The Lightyears will star at Astonbury, 3-11pm on Saturday, 15th June at Aston Rec near Didcot, with a perfect blend of music, family fun, food & drink. Limited £15pp tickets at

Madness, Tom Jones, Nile & CHIC, Placebo, Air, Paloma Faith, Loyle Carner & more will star at Southampton Summer Sessions, in Guildhall Square, 16th-30th June;

Hampton Court Palace Festival is the jaw-dropping backdrop for Tom Jones, Nile & CHIC, Jack Savoretti, Sam Ryder, Björn Again, Sheryl Crow & Paloma Faith, as well as a Tudors live edition of The Rest is History Podcast, 11th-17th June. Visit

Raise vital money for Hampshire Medical Fund by enjoying action-packed, family-friendly highlight Good Festival at Dummer Down Farm near Basingstoke on Sunday, 16th June. Activities include bushcraft, bubble football, alpaca walking, crocodile encounters, yoga and delicious food & drink Visit

Hold tight! The Prodigy and The Streets will help get The Isle of Wight Festival, 20th-23rd June off to a flying start on the Friday. Pet Shop Boys, Green Day, Suede, The Pretenders and Johnny Marr will also star. Visit

Award-winning Beacon Festival, Oxfordshire’s best family-friendly festival, is back at Watlington Hill Farm, 21st & 22nd June with local bands & loads more;

Hold tight! The Prodigy and The Streets will get The Isle of Wight Festival, 20th-23rd June, off to a flying start. Green Day, Suede, and Johnny Marr also star;

Nathan Moore will host another marvellous Marlow Rock Bottom with Coldplace, beer aplenty, family fun, live music, street food on 29th June; visit

Legends The Stranglers will star at Guilfest which returns to Stoke Park, on 29th & 30th June. Other stars on the impressive line-up include Sam Ryder, Peter Hook & The Light, Black Grape and The Blockheads. Please see our competition & visit

I’m still buzzing after my chat with Chaka Khan (see our Q&A). She’ll star at Love Supreme Jazz Festival in Glynde Place, 5th-7th July; You can also catch her and Sister Sledge on 13th June at Blenheim Palace thanks to Nocturne Live. And Soft Cell & Heather Small star here on 14th, Sugababes & Melanie C on 15th with Crowded House & Sheryl Crow on 16th; visit

Run entirely by volunteers on a not-for-profit basis in a stonking Cotswold location, Nibley, 5th-7th July, prides itself on being the friendliest festival of the bunch! General Levy, local legends EMF, The Hoosiers & Dodgy will star, with fun such as retro gaming & The Flying Seagull Project;

Small & mighty Childreyfest will bring you a winning blend of family-friendly music and fun to Childrey in Oxfordshire on Saturday, 6th July:

Celebrating disability lifestyle & inclusivity, the award-winning Parallel Windsor on 7th July, in Windsor Great Park’s Long Walk, will offer live music, storytelling, arts & craft, sport, wellbeing, dance, family fun and more, all accessible, with a quiet space & sensory zone. Tickets just £7.50pp;

Ash, Echobelly, a Goldie Lookin’ Chain DJ set, Republica, Fabio & Grooverider, Dub Pistols and Reading Community Gospel Choir are among the delights at Readipop in Caversham, 12th-14th July, with Purple Turtle bars and an indie market, all for a great cause helping local people;

Gladys Knight, Rylan, Nicole Scherzinger, Nigel Kennedy and Sam Ryder will make for another sparkling riverside black-tie Henley Festival 10th-14th July;

Barrioke (EastEnders’ Shaun Williamson) will star at Fi.Fest in Maidenhead on 13th July, with Cast, Heather Small & Rick Parfit Jnr; And Monty Don, Ronan Keating, Beverley Knight & more will star at Kew the Music, 8th-14th July;

Sadly the organisers of PennFest have made the tough decision (after our May editions of Round & About went to press) not to hold a festival this year, but the Bucks favourite should hopefully return next year!

Fleur Fest is back at The Fleur De Lys in East Hagbourne, 19th-21st July, with Miss Disco, The Style Councillors & more. Plus Ronnie Scott’s All Stars & Fleur Stevenson on 16th June, and AJ Clarke & Richard Digance on 17th August & more!

Raising funds & awareness for mental health in memory of the much-missed Caroline Flack, Flackstock will offer music, dance & comedy galore, including Olly Murs, Joe Wicks, Shaznay Lewis, The Neptunes Choir & a Gok Wan DJ set at Englefield House near Pangbourne on Monday, 22nd July; visit Also at Englefield, enjoy Madness with the Lightning Seeds on Friday, 19th July, Pete Tong’s Ibiza Classics, a Groove Armada DJ set & more on 20th and Elbow on 21st;

WOMAD brings cultural delights from the whole wide world to Wiltshire (Malmesbury’s Charlton Park to be exact) 25th -28th July. Expect a huge array of genres from R&B, rap, rock, blues, punk and jazz all the way to New Orleans brass bands, Qawwali, mambo and flamenco. The line-up includes Young Fathers,  Sampa The Great & Alison Goldfrapp with food galore on the Taste The World stage. You can chill out in style in the World of Wellbeing and WOMAD Spa, plus you can enjoy spoken word in the World of Words, science exploration at World of Physics and fun in the World of Children; visit

Bestival’s little sister Camp Bestival, organised by BBC Radio 1 DJ Rob Da Bank will star Pete Tong with his Ibiza Classics, one of my fave star Q&A interviewees the mighty Paloma Faith, Orbital and manny more at Lulworth Castle in Dorset, 25th-28th July;

Jamie T, Wet Leg, The Streets, Idles, Holly Humberstone, The Snuts and Sub Focus will star at tremendous Truck Festival, 26th-28th July at Hill Farm, Steventon;

Multi Grammy-winning songwriter, composer, producer and guitarist Nile Rodgers & Chic will star at Cheltenham Racecourse on Friday, 26th July, as part of the sizzling Summertime Live highlights; visit

Wilderness will thrill the wild crowd at Oxfordshire’s Cornbury Park, 1st to 4th August, starring Michael Kiwanuka, Faithless, BICEP, Alison Goldfrapp, as well as banquets, wellbeing including lakeside hot tubs and theatre, workshops and more;

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be! Rewind to a simpler, better time, 16th-18th August in Henley on Thames. Stars set to dazzle include Billy Ocean, The Jacksons, Gabrielle, Jason Donovan, Kim Wilde & more, plus funfairs, a silent disco, inflatable church, kids’ zone and much more. Check out the fabulous Jenny Powell trailer & book at

Inspired by late beloved music-lover Jody Dickinson, J Fest will dazzle in Carswell near Faringdon on 2nd & 3rd August. The highlight, powered by bass, features accessible elements including DJ workshops, glamping & more to prove dance and festivals are for everybody;

Strap in for a Revolution of Imagination with chapter three of Boomtown, 7th-11th August, near Winchester. This fabulous parallel world promises sensory overload, with 12 main stages, 50+ hidden venues, and one red-hot secret line-up. I went for the first time last year and had a blast. (I recommend you book the following week off work). Visit

Dreadzone, Kosheen, Dub Pistols & more will star at wondrous Weyfest at Tilford’s Rural Life Museum 15th-18th August;

Jools Holland & his rhythm & blues orchestra will star at Windsor Racecourse on Friday, 16th August, as part of the sizzling Summertime Live highlights; visit

Groove Armada, Leftfield, Dillinja and more will star at Stowaway, 16th-18th August at Stowe which also offers immersive theatre, comedy, paddleboarding, feasting and a roller disco. See our competition to win tickets & also visit

Fred Again.. Lana Del Rey, Liam Gallagher, Raye, Pendulum and Skrillex are sure to thrill at this year’s Reading (& Leeds), 21st-25th August. Visit

Or head on up to Creamfields in Cheshire 22nd-25th August to rave to Robbie Williams’ dance project Lufthaus, Calvin Harris, Chase & Status live, Tiësto & more;

Shambala in Northamptonshire, 22nd-25th August. This summer’s line-up includes Sampa The Great, The Congos, The Beatbox Collective and a brand new stage show from HENGE; visit

Towersey Festival, which is the UK’s oldest independent music festival, will deliver a new programme of delights for its 60th anniversary celebration, 23rd to 26th August on the Claydon Estate near Buckingham. Comment & Comedy, curated by Gavin Osborn, will offer comedy straight from Edinburgh Fringe, award-winning short films, authors as well as Billy Bragg, The Staves and Seth Lakeman. See our separate article & visit

CarFest lands at Laverstoke Park, 23rd-25th August; You’ll also love Billing, June 29th & 30th, the UK’s largest 4×4 show, with two off-road courses, 100+ trade and autojumble stands and family fun family;

Big Feastival on Alex James’ Kingham farm will serve up family fun, food and frolics, 23rd-25th August. Becky Hill, Ministry Of Sound Classical & Snow Patrol will headline with Raymond Blanc & George Egg on the menu, too. See our competition &

Idles, Slowdive, Bonnie Prince Billie, Ty Seagull, Yo La Tengo & more will dazzle at the award-winning End Of The Road, 29th August to 1st September in Blandford Forum; visit

Beloved Bunkfest is back with bounce in Wallingford, 30th August to 1st September;

Hop down the rabbithole with Congo Natty, General Levy, LTJ Buken, Beans On Toast & more at the Wonderland-themed Mucky Weekender, 5th -7th September near Winchester. Visit

Leftfield, Orbital & more will star at The Last Dance Dreamland in Margate, 14th September, as well as other bangers!

Great Barn Festival returns to Great Coxwell, SN7 7LZ with music, family theatre, art and nature for all; visit

Take care of each other & enjoy! LN

Liam Gallagher photo credit: Gavin Bond

Q&A with music legend Chaka Khan

Liz Nicholls


Liz Nicholls shares a chat with singer Chaka Khan who will star at Nocturne Live at Blenheim in June & Love Supreme festival in Sussex in July

Q. Hi Chaka, wonderful to talk to you! What’s your first memory of music?

“Hello! I was lucky to be born to parents who are artists. I recall hearing a lot of opera and jazz growing up: Billie, Ella… my father played Max Roach a lot. My mother was a dance instructor, she taught modern and ballet, so we did a lot of dancing around the house. We had a big ol’ Zenith hifi and big ol’ speakers and we all sang, danced and did our chores on Saturdays. I thought everybody did that, haha! We had murals, frescoes on every wall in the house. In our bedroom we had a circus scene. In the kitchen we had flowers, fruit. It was great to grow up with art everywhere.”

Q. You’ve worked some greats in your time, including Prince. Are there any other artists you’d love to collaborate with?

“Well I’ve done some stuff with [the R&B star] H.E.R and Sia and I are doing some stuff together.”

Q. How do you decide who to work with? Do you listen to the radio or stream new music?

“Well they [the collab artists] mostly find me! I’m not on any kind of quest, haha! I don’t listen to the radio, no. I listen to as little music as possible because it’s what I do for a living. I think too much and if I listen to music I have a hard time having fun with it. I don’t go out to clubs any more – when I was younger I did a little bit. For me a fun day is doing absolutely nothing, lying on my chaise lounge watching telly, a movie… passive entertainment!”

“I’m not nostalgic, I’m really a next girl”

Q. Do you feel nostalgic looking back on your 50 years in the biz while curating this year’s Meltdown festival?

“No, I’m not nostalgic, I’m really a next girl! I don’t live in the past, I don’t remember a lot. This is a good thing! The only thing I’m interested in is what’s happening in the moment. All we own is this moment right now. And how it’s going to affect what’s going to happen next. I don’t get caught up in things I can’t do nothing about, like yesterday. But I can influence tomorrow.”

Q. What’s been your personal biggest achievement?

“Getting out of the city and moving; leaving LA is the biggest and best thing I’ve done. I’m communing with nature here in Georgia, with all this beauty here. I truly get rest here, I get silence. And I’ve got my family here with me. My mother lives in the east wing, I’ve got my sisters, my nephews.”

Q. You lived in London for 30 years. Did you like living in the UK?

“I loved it but I’m happy now as my neighbours are miles away! I did a lot of great work in the UK, including with the London Philharmonic and worked with a lot of people I’ve loved for years. I’ve lived in many places; Germany, Switzerland… Why?! Well, I live on Earth, the whole planet, that’s the way I look at it! I’ll be in the UK all summer which will be great.”

Q. So many of your songs have been covered many times. Are there are songs that are so precious you wouldn’t want them covered?

“Well I wouldn’t want any of my songs to be copied or covered if they weren’t done well or with the best of intentions, honorably… I don’t want anybody to do a shlock job! But having said that, music is a free agent unto itself – it doesn’t belong to me, it’s for everybody.”

Q. You’re considered one of the great divas. How do you feel about the term ‘diva’ and do you embrace it?

“I know inside what I am. Whatever everybody wants to say about me, so long as it’s in a positive light, I’m happy. Titles don’t mean a lot to me, they do not define me.”

Q. You’ve achieved so much. Anything you still want to do?

“I can’t think of anything else but believe me that doesn’t stop stuff happening. I’m just very open and willing, that’s all I can do. I’ve been doing a lot of talks with children in schools. We have an open floor and they can talk about anything. I’m looking to start doing some podcasts with younger kids, young adults. That’s half of my job right now as a human being. I love my grandchildren and the focus on young people because they’re our future. We owe them a great deal of our time, energy and respect.”

Q. What advice would you give young performers paving their own way?

“Be true to yourself. Honesty is the best policy, even if it hurts! Especially if it hurts: that means it’s meaningful. This is the best thing you can do for yourself and everyone who’s around you.”

Q. How will you cater to a jazz crowd at Love Supreme festival?

“I’m not doing anything specific! I’m a multifaceted singer, I can sing anything. The best thing I’m doing is getting rid of that Queen of Funk s***. I hate to be boxed in. I do as much as is humanly possible on that stage. And everyone’s happy! I’m going to start implementing strings in my show, so I can do To Sir With Love and Big Spender and all that. I’ll be very happy to be doing shows. And I have my hits. I keep it moving, changing, that’s how you keep it interesting.”

Q. What do you think is most challenging about the music industry today for new singers coming into the industry?

“There is so much that needs to change, it’s horrific. First of all how women are set up to compete with one other. There’s no place for competition in self-expression. But often labels count on us [women] being competitive with each other, which is stupid.”

Q, What advice would you have for younger singers and your younger self?

“I think be honest and faithful with yourself and don’t be afraid. You have to keep yourself clear on what your goals are and stay true to yourself, which is a tough thing to do for young people, I think. I control my life and I’ve never let success run away with me. I’ve taken it and ran. The only thing that could threaten my stability is me. I’m my only threat and my own worst enemy. You’ve gotta follow your own path, trust your heart and listen to the warnings. You can’t argue with the universe. It’s not about that. It’s more about relaxing and knowing that you can handle it and feeling empowered. Knowing you have the power to do whatever the hell you want to do! That’s what it’s about. It really is.”

Paloma Faith April music star Q&A

Liz Nicholls


Musician Paloma Faith tells us about her new break-up album The Glorification of Sadness ahead of her UK tour which starts this month

Q. Hello Paloma; congratulations on your album, your best yet! Are you happy with it?

“Thank you. Well, yes but it’s difficult! I’m the sort of person who takes any sort of success with a pinch of salt… When people say ‘oh it’s really great’ you never know whether that’s going to translate into popularity or streaming figures.”

Q. Do you have imposter syndrome?

“Yeah and I think it’s part of what drives me. We live in a real era of isolation; it’s all internet or social media-led and quite confusing. I’m not quite sure what’s real and what isn’t. I look at my following of 800,000 and then I look at peers of mine, who have 2 milllion and they don’t sell as many records. So I tend to be a bit blinkered and just go: ‘oh I’m gonna give the best show that I can’.”

Q. Do you think women have to play a role to win popularity?

“It’s funny, I didn’t announce my break-up but when the press reported it all the comments underneath were either ‘she’s a bloody handful’ or ‘I’m sorry he cheated on you’. It’s so weird that people think in those two narrow-minded terms and neither one is correct. As a woman either you’re a victim, and if you’ve got kids with them you’re expected to stay and suffer, or you’re perceived as this nightmare femme fatale character. I don’t think I’m either! So it’s wrong on both counts. There’s the expression of sadness [on this album] and remorse and vulnerability but also there’s a lot of empowerment, standing up for myself and saying this isn’t for me. In this way society needs to catch up. Quite often I listen to songs by women and they’re celebrated when they express vulnerability or victimhood but not so much when they express their strength.”

Q. You were moved by something Madonna said…

“Yes, Madonna says the most controversial thing she did was to stick around & I relate! A woman’s longevity is always under attack more than a man’s. I’m lucky; I’ve always looked quite young for my age, partly because I don’t do the injectables that, I think, make people look old. I hope to stick around!”

Q. Who would be your dream collaborators, alive or dead?

“I think I’d like to stick with the people who are still alive, please! I would love to work with SZA and Miley Cyrus.”

“Performing is my favourite thing to do and the only time I’m not anxious”

Q. How do you take care of your mental health?

“I do exercise and I go to therapy. I’ve done EMDR [eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing] and think it’s really good. One thing I’m learning more recently in my life is that avoidance or distraction mean your issues just come back to bite you in the bum. You can choose to address & face your issues and own up to who you are or else you’re just prolonging the agony.”

Q. Do you like being on tour and will you take your children on this one?

“I’ll take my youngest but the oldest is in school so she can only come for the dates in the Easter holidays; she’s gutted about it and has real FOMO! I love touring. I get a bit nervous beforehand but performing is my favourite thing to do and the only time I’m not anxious.”

Q. Are you looking for love?

“I tried dating for a bit and it just feels difficult to navigate when you’ve got children. The last time I was single I didn’t have any kids and I wouldn’t ever put anyone before my children. And I just don’t have the tolerance I used to have. When we as women are looking to pursue relationships and we don’t have kids, we compromise a lot. People keep talking to me now about compromise but I think ‘oh f***  off with your platitudes, I don’t have to compromise, I’d rather be on my own’. Maybe I am a nightmare woman after all, haha! You know better than you did when you were younger that you can do it without anyone.”

Paloma Faith is on tour including the Hexagon in Reading on 3rd April and New Theatre Oxford on 14th May as well as starring at Southampton Summer Sessions on 28th June. Visit

Cosy crime

Round & About


Author and journalist Michael Smith is talking murder this month with the popularity of whodunnits, a good mystery and quirky characters all adding to the killer plots

Those easy-paced detective novels – where you try to solve the crime before the detective – are perennial bookshop favourites. Witness the recent success of Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club novels or Robert Thorogood’s similarly titled The Marlow Murder Club series.

Now the Crime Writers’ Association is getting in on the act with a new addition to its legendary Dagger awards. The Daggers have tended to go for more complex and innovative crime thrillers, with interesting settings and psychological twists rather than the more traditional Agatha Christie-style detective mysteries. But the Whodunnit Dagger will celebrate the increasingly popular “modern cosy, traditional crime, and Golden Age mysteries”. The association says the new award “will focus on the intellectual challenge at the heart of a good mystery and revolve around often quirky characters”.

The quirky character is of course one of the most important staples of the ‘whodunnit’. Dilly Knox, himself one of the quirkiest of the Bletchley Park codebreakers, and his two brothers Evoe, a journalist, and Ronnie, a successful writer of murder mysteries, devised a set of 10 strict rules to which whodunnits must adhere. They included that the killer must be mentioned in the first five chapters, and that no supernatural causes, no previously unknown poisons and no more than one secret room or passage were allowed. The rules were adopted in 1929 as the Solemn Oath of the Writer’s Detection Club, which included such luminaries as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers.

The small south Oxfordshire town of Wallingford, where Round & About is put together and published, can fairly claim to be “cosy crime central”. Agatha Christie was one of the town’s most famous inhabitants. She and her husband bought a house there beside the Thames in 1934 and she was still living there when she died in 1976. There’s a bronze bench statue looking out over a park where you can sit beside her.

The town and the surrounding villages have also been repeatedly featured as locations in that long-running cosy crime series Midsomer Murders. Now Marlow, just down the river, is to be featured on television as well with Thorogood, a successful television writer and producer with Murder in Paradise, bringing The Marlow Murder Club to the small screen. Samantha Bond plays the lead character Judith Potts, a retiree living alone in a Thames-side mansion who drags two of her friends into investigating murder.

Can’t wait!

The Nature Sketchbook: March

Round & About


Artist Helen Grimbleby shares her love of the natural world through her work in a monthly series of observations

March many weathers is here. Although, the first month of meteorological spring, March is such an unresolved month, sometimes clinging on to freezing conditions and snow, unsure whether or when to allow the slow warm fingers of spring to get a hold.

It is nevertheless a joyful month with spring flowers ignoring the meteorological hesitancy, harnessing the sunshine to bring us verges of yellow primroses, cowslips, celandines, dandelions and narcissi/daffodils.

Where there are flowers, there are usually butterflies. In March we begin to see them emerge and arrive. Red admiral butterflies typically migrated from North Africa and were seen from spring onwards. In 2023, there was a 400% increase in their UK population. Experts suggest this may be due to the species now overwintering here rather than migrating due to warmer temperatures resulting from climate change.

Many of our early spring flowers are yellow as early pollinators, mainly insects, are attracted to the colour which appears as ultra-violet blue to them.

And it is attraction which brings us to the final association with March, and idiomatic mad hares. I have seen hares in West Berkshire but not engaged in the boxing behaviour which inspired the phrase. This is a tale of unrequited ardour with male buck hares pursuing female doe hares in the hope of mating and then, it seems, taking it too far. The unimpressed doe will demonstrate her lack of interest in dramatic fashion by turning on the buck and thumping him, initiating the boxing when fur may fly!

Helen Grimbleby is a West Berks/North Hants based artist who is inspired by the natural world’s changing seasons. After exploring outside, she enjoys writing and illustrating her Nature Sketchbook and painting larger landscapes at her home studio (@burbleartstudios).