Hogs Back celebrates the hops

Round & About

Community & Charity

Hogs Back Brewery blesses hop garden and continues ‘beating the bounds’ tradition

Hogs Back Brewery has held its annual Hop Blessing at its brewery and hop garden in Tongham to encourage a bountiful harvest.

Around 100 people gathered in the evening sunshine to enjoy the ceremony and the ‘beating the bounds’ walk, back as part of the event for a second year.

The Hop Blessing took place on Ascension Day (9th May), the day on which crop blessings were traditionally held for centuries. Rev Claire Holt, of St Paul’s Church in Tongham, blessed the crops and, with Hogs Back Brewery managing director Rupert Thompson, led guests on the walk around the 8.5-acre hop garden.

Image: Guests raise a glass at the Hogs Back Brewery Hop Blessing with managing director Rupert Thompson and Rev. Claire Holt 

Image: Rev. Claire Holt with Hogs Back Brewery managing director Rupert Thompson and brewery dog Basil

Blessings of crops was observed in rural communities and Hogs Back revived the tradition in 2014 when they planted their original hop garden over the road from the brewery and continued it when they relocated to the current, larger site. Currently, the 6,000 hop plants in the Hogs Back garden are climbing up strings, spurred by the recent rainfall, and the brewery is hoping for an ample crop to harvest in late August.

Rev Holt said: “Blessing the Hogs Back hop garden continues a tradition that would certainly have been part of the cycle of hop growing in Farnham for centuries. It gave me great joy to lead the prayers for the Hogs Back hop garden, the brewery, and all who work in them, for this year and long into the future.”

Thompson said: “The Hop Blessing is always a wonderful event, bringing together the local community to remember how important hop farming was to this region. We’re grateful, as ever, to Claire for blessing our hops and delighted to see so many people enjoying the ‘beating the bounds’ walk and a pint or two back at the brewery.”

The Hop Blessing has always been a free event but this year guests were asked to make a donation of £5 to British Heart Foundation, the brewery’s chosen charity for 2024. Hogs Back will be fundraising all year for BHF, especially at the Hop Harvest celebrations in September.

With the hops blessed, the Hogs Back team will now be tending the bines carefully until harvest. Three varieties are being grown: Fuggles – used in the brewer’s flagship Tongham TEA ale; English Cascade – used in its Hogstar lager; and Farnham White Bine – a local variety that Hogs Back revived from near-extinction.

Hogs Back’s Hop Harvest celebrations take place from 13th to 15th September, starting with a ‘Roots’ session featuring original music on the Friday, followed by a musical festival style event on the Saturday and a more family-friendly TEA Party on the Sunday. Tickets are available on the Hogs Back website.

Jump into the GAP

Round & About

Community & Charity

Have you got your GAP Festival tickets yet? Ten day extravaganza kicks off on June 7th

The biennial cultural GAP Festival in Goring and Streatley will welcome festival goers to its incredible programme of over 50 exciting events in June.

Some events still have a few last tickets remaining. So if you haven’t got yours yet, or you are looking for a last minute opportunity to try something new, visit The Gap Festival to book yourself in and join this cultural extravaganza! As a registered charity, every ticket purchased goes back into bringing culture to the community. How about…

World-class mandolin player and wit Simon Mayor and Friends in a relaxed evening of magical music and humorous anecdotes on Friday 7th June.

The spectacular red carpet premiere of the shortlisted Children’s Film Festival short films, alongside a screening of The Super Mario Bros. Movie (PG) on Sunday 9th June.

For crime drama and true crime lovers, An Audience with Author Helen Saxton, with actors will re-enact key events and discuss the controversial story of Amanda Knox in the murder of Meredith Kercher on Monday 10th June.

Outdoor family theatre in an idyllic setting on the banks of the Thames, with a performance of The Adventures of Doctor Dolittle on Thursday 13th June.

A one hour family show of songs about science, maths and the wonders of the world around us with Helen Arney: A Voice of an Angle – as seen on BBC2, Channel 4 and Discovery – on Friday 14th June.

Step back in time, put on some 40s/50s glamour (or not!), sit back and tap your feet to the doo-wop harmonies of the Ding Dong Daddios on Saturday 15th June.

Enjoy a Glyndebourne-style opera experience, with GAP Opera: The Marriage of Figaro. Picnics, pimms, fizz and top class opera in three performances Friday 14th – Sunday 16th June.

Alongside the amazing variety of ticketed events, there are also a host of free activities and performances taking place, no ticket required – just drop in.

On Friday 7th June, pre-schoolers can bring their parents to join a morning of games, free play and interactive story with a Teddy Bear’s Picnic.

Join the cosmic fun of Saturday 8th June and experience all that Space Day has to offer, including blasting off a water rocket, space crafting, scale-model solar system treasure hunt and the chance to track the International Space Station live with local satellite company OrbAstro.

Visit Goring’s Rectory Garden on Sunday 9th June to join the Festival’s contribution to the national Great Big Green Week – The Great Green Food Day. Head down and discover creative ways to let eating and food play a vital part in helping tackle climate change, reduce waste and protect nature. Bring a picnic and enjoy live music, ask the experts question time, stalls, children’s activities and more, or pick up lunch from the collection of food and drink stalls and enjoy all the day has to offer.

Saturday 15th June hosts the return of the popular Festival Market Day. Enjoy browsing crafts, arts and skills from the local community, alongside face painting, refreshments and live music.

Meet and Greet the Owls at Withymead Nature Reserve on Saturday 15th June and learn all about owls, how they hunt, owl conservation and have a go at pellet dissection.

For art enthusiasts, there is a celebration of community art with a weekend long Art Exhibition from Saturday 15th – Sunday 16th June.

A chance to have a go at bell ringing with the Goring and Streatley ringers, followed by a lunchtime Festival Picnic Concert with Goring and Streatley concert band on the final day of the Festival – Sunday 16th June.

Plus a host of ‘fringe’ music events, popping up in local venues where you can sit back and soak up the Festival atmosphere with a drink in hand.

Find out all you need to know to make the most of this year’s Festival during the ten-day period and book your last minute tickets by visiting https://www.thegapfestival.org/

Support Thames Valley Air Ambulance

Round & About

Community & Charity

Thames Valley Air Ambulance celebrates 25 years and you’re invited to join the party and help their life saving work

In 1999, Thames Valley Air Ambulance first took to the skies to treat patients in critical need. Now, a quarter of a century and nearly 35,000 call outs later they are celebrating this milestone with a fun-filled family day for the whole community on June 22nd at Penn Estate.

Amanda McLean, Chief Executive Officer at Thames Valley Air Ambulance said: “Both the care we deliver at the scene and the support we offer long afterwards are funded solely by our community. It’s your generous donations that have allowed us to be there for these 35,000 people in their time of need.”

Their ‘Big Birthday Bash’ will include a variety of fun activities for both kids and adults to enjoy, from circus shows and workshops to special demonstrations from their crew plus plenty of delicious food and drinks from local vendors.

Tickets start from £4 and all proceeds go to help Thames Valley Air Ambulance continue to be there for those in most need across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. More at Big Birthday Bash – Thames Valley Air Ambulance

Did you know:
• Last year, we were called out 3,293 times to help people in need of urgent critical care.
• We are called out on average 9 times a day.
• The flight time between our base at RAF Benson and anywhere in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, or Oxfordshire is just 15 minutes.
• To find out more about the work of Thames Valley Air Ambulance and donate visit Thames Valley Air Ambulance

The FA’s ‘The Greater Game’

Round & About

Community & Charity

Following last year’s successful pilot programme, The FA’s ‘The Greater Game’ is being rolled out nationwide.

The FA’s announcement of ‘The Greater Game’ campaign is a commendable initiative aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of 12-16 year-olds across the UK. By partnering with organizations like Nuffield Health and M&S Food, they’re addressing crucial aspects of physical and mental health.

The focus on grassroots programs is especially promising, as it allows for widespread participation and engagement. The positive impact observed during the pilot phase underscores the potential for significant change on a national scale.

Addressing the concerning statistics regarding young people’s attitudes toward exercise, diet, and sleep is vital. The introduction of initiatives like ‘DROPS’ and featuring well-known football stars adds excitement and relatability, making it more likely for young people to get involved.

Given the staggering number of youth experiencing mental health issues, promoting physical activity as a means of improving mental wellbeing is crucial. Providing practical tips and techniques across various health elements is a comprehensive approach to supporting healthier choices.

The statistics concerning sleep and diet habits among young people highlight the urgency of such campaigns. Encouraging adequate sleep and nutritious eating habits is essential for their overall development and wellbeing.

Overall, ‘The Greater Game’ campaign has the potential to make a meaningful difference in the lives of young people, promoting healthier lifestyles and fostering positive habits that can last a lifetime.

The Greater Game ambassador and former England international, Jill Scott, said: “I’m a huge believer in the importance of being active, not just through football, but throughout your everyday life. What’s important about The FA’s Greater Game campaign is that it educates young people on the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, whilst providing them with the tips and tools to go out and put that into practice. I’m looking forward to seeing grassroots clubs across the country start to introduce The Greater Game programme, allowing us to make a real difference. I also can’t wait to have a go at playing DROPS myself!”

View The Greater Game content on the newly launched YouTube channel here.

Wildlife garden & nature photography competition

Round & About

Community & Charity

We’ve teamed up with Adam Henson to invite you to send us pictures of the wildlife in your garden – or local park – and win seeds to help improve biodiversity

One of the UK’s best-known farmers and TV presenter Adam Henson has launched a range of British Wildflower Seeds, the first product line to launch from his new online store, Wildscape.

Developed in collaboration with leading experts in ecology and sustainable agriculture, Wildscape promise to create beautiful spaces, bringing joy to all those who experience them and creating essential habitats to foster biodiversity.

“I believe everyone should consider growing wildflowers,” says Adam, “not only are they beautiful native British blooms, but they also support local biodiversity. No matter if it’s a small pot in an urban setting or large garden, wildflowers create a mini ecosystem right outside your window, attracting a variety of birds, insects, and other delightful creatures.”

Someone who is doing their bit for nature and enjoying it is Chris Waymouth who has shared some pictures of some creatures in his Buckinghamshire garden.

“I was brought up in a small village in Northamptonshire and my father was a lover of wildlife and the outdoors,” Chris tells us. “I used to roam the fields beside the River Nene, absorbing all that the countryside had to offer.

“I used to roam the fields beside the River Nene, absorbing all that the countryside had to offer.”

“As a youngster I wasn’t allowed to touch my father’s prized Rolleiflex camera. I had to make do with a Kodak Brownie, until I was given a simple Agfa for my 21st birthday and this really kickstarted my lifelong interest in photography.

“When I met my wife she had some pro-quality Canon kit and this took me to another level. Digital cameras arrived on the scene and this was another step forward. Finally, three or four years ago, I became pretty serious about my hobby and invested in a mirrorless camera with extremely high resolution and I’ve expanded my range of lenses to seven. These include macro for close-ups of insects and flowers etc, and very long telephoto lenses for bird and wildlife shots.

“My garden in Jordans backs on to beech woods. It is not a showpiece; I prefer a more natural look including a wild area at the back. It is through here that my four-legged visitors arrive: muntjac, roe deer, fox, badger, hedgehog, not to mention the two or three rabbits who are usually trimming my lawn when I pull back the curtains in the morning. Plus, of course, the squirrels. I enjoy stretching my longest lenses to maximum reach to get full-face shots of all of these.

“Then there are the birds. Lots of them! I have half a dozen feeders in the front garden and a couple at the back and clearly the word is out among our feathered friends that this place is good for a meal or two. The list of regulars include all the usual garden birds: robin, blackbird, song thrush, chaffinch, bullfinch, blue tit, great tit, long-tailed tit, dunnock, wren, jay, green and great spotted woodpeckers and just recently a brambling, not to mention the ever-present woodpigeon, collar dove, magpie, jackdaw, crow, green parakeet and the red kite circling majestically overhead.

“Although I do not have a huge array of flowers, there are plenty to attract bees and a variety of bugs and this is where the macro lens comes into its own, capturing the subject at 1.4x life size. With the high resolution of the camera (a Canon EOS R5) I can then “crop” (zoom into) the photo once it is on my computer and end up with some highly detailed, sharp images.

“I have something like 35,000 photos on my computer – here are just a few for you to enjoy.”

To enter, upload your pictures to Instagram or Facebook and tag @roundandaboutmag with the hashtag #RAphotocompetition to be involved and we’ll choose a winner to receive the seeds. The competition ends June 1st.

Sophie Davenport’s best bits of Bucks!

Liz Nicholls

Community & Charity

For our May vox pop, Sophie Davenport, managing director of Widmer End-based SFE Services, shares her favourite things about local life

Q. Hello Sophie! Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
“I am a mum of two daughters aged 13 and eight. We’ve lived in Holmer Green with my husband Grant for five years now. I’m originally from Maidenhead, and Grant is from High Wycombe.”

Q. What does your company do & what do you have on the horizon?
“SFE Services Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Ltd serves commercial and residential clients in Bucks. This year we’ll be sponsoring and attending the Holmer Green Sports Association Beer Festival, continuing our sponsorship with Wycombe Wanderers Football Club and supporting events for Rennie Grove Peace Hospice Care charity.”

Q. What do you most love about where you live?
“Holmer Green has a lovely village feel. The common has a fantastic playground and is great for the kids to play and for a picnic in the summer. Having shops in the village and close by in Hazlemere is so convenient and saves trips into town.”

Q. What pets do you have?
“A British Bulldog, Lola, a Boerboel called Kion and my daughter has a pony, Jim. Our favourite places to walk or ride are the fields in Little Missenden, Penn Woods and West Wycombe. We take our dogs to Posh Paws in Widmer End and I recommend The Barking Barbers in Stokenchurch.”

Q. What are your favourite restaurants or pubs?
“Old Oak in Holmer Green for the best Sunday roasts! The Hit or Miss in Penn Street, Old Queen’s Head in Penn. Browns & Prelibato in Beaconsfield and Zaza in Amersham.”

Q. What about star businesses?
“Nathan’s fruit & veg in Holmer Green; the staff are super-friendly, and it has a great selection of quality produce. Hildreth Garden Centre in Prestwood is my go-to for a mooch and has a lovely café. The Square café in Holmer Green has the best hot chocolate. I go to Mulberry’s in Beaconsfield when I need pure relaxation! B2 Chalfont Clinic also deserves a shout-out: acupuncturist Kate is second to none.”

Q. Any hidden local gems?
“The bluebells in Penn Woods and Common Wood are a must-see. And the trip wouldn’t be complete without a stop at The Squirrel or Hit or Miss.”

“The bluebells in Penn Woods and Common Wood are a must-see.”

Q. What highlights are you looking forward to later this year?
“Holmer Green Sports Association’s beer festivals in May & August and garage night in September. Hell Fire Caves at Halloween is great fun. Then, at Christmas, visiting Waddesdon Manor with the family.”

Q. Are you a member of any groups?
“BoB [Business Over Breakfast] Club in Wycombe, run by Tina Duggan from Oven Loving. I’ve met so many talented local business owners.”

Q. If you could make one wish for the world, what would it be?
“Id wish for a world free from judgment and full of empathy, where individuals are celebrated for their uniqueness rather than condemned for their differences.”

Gardeners’ World is free therapy

Round & About

Community & Charity

If you can’t afford a therapist…actually, even if you can, watch Gardeners’ World. It’ll do you the world of good says Robbie James

Last month I deployed myself on a giant rant about competitive busyness, and I promised to follow it up with something more joyful this month. I’m a man of my word (sometimes), so for April, I’m revelling in the tranquillity that is Gardeners’ World.

I had a sad day recently. I was anxious, worrying about everything, and generally feeling overwhelmed by the world. Thankfully that same day marked the beginning of the 55th series of the gardening programme. For the first time since (insert a long time ago), I found myself waiting for a TV show that wasn’t a sport to begin. I wasn’t watching something on-demand. Let that sink in… waiting for a programme to air on actual television. Remarkable.

Eight o’clock eventually rolled around, and when I tell you it was worth the wait… the theme tune was enough for me to feel ten times lighter. (I’m a complete nerd when it comes to theme tunes, and in case you are too; the theme is an arrangement of ‘Morning Light’, composed by Will Gregory and recorded by the BBC Concert Orchestra, obviously).

When I looked at the credits there were a team of five on Sound. I’d like to use this column to formally and openly advocate a pay rise for all of them. The hour is soundtracked by birds, secateurs slicing through shrubs and spades sinking into the depths of a vegetable bed. You notice the sounds, but there’s no sense of clumsiness or overegging.

There is of course one crucial sound I’m missing off the above list. The calm, reassuring tones of Monty Don. The only way I can describe that man (and Monty, if you’re reading this, please know I mean this in the best possible way), is a walking, talking log fire. The best broadcasters are the ones that you feel a personal connection with despite never having met them. If I had a problem or wanted to sink a few Earl Greys, Monty Don would be on my top five phone numbers I’d go searching for.

Another aid to the programme’s peace is in canine form, and it’s quite frankly a miracle I’ve got this far into the column without mentioning them. Previously Nigel and Nellie, and now Ned. A Golden Retriever of the golden (not white) variety. A very good boy following in the footsteps of Don, lying in the sun, avoiding descending forks while in pursuit of a tennis ball, was only ever going to bring a slice of joy to proceedings. A non-essential but also deeply essential ingredient.

The bridging of the gap between relatable and fantasy is fascinatingly done. Longmeadow garden in Hertfordshire doesn’t dazzle you like many things on TV are designed to do. You look at it and can see yourself having a garden just like it. That is, until you realise it’ huge, split into four separate gardens, has taken years to create. (Don bought the house in 1991), and probably only attainable for those with a very successful television career.

What I enjoy about Monty Don and more generally Gardeners’ World, is that you can consume it for whatever purpose you wish. If you’re a keen gardener, his deep rooted (I couldn’t help myself) knowledge is beautifully paired with personal preference. If, like me, you’ve had a bad day and want a metaphorical hug, they can do that too. Or if you’re OFCOM looking for a show to carry the BBC’s mission to ‘inform, educate and entertain’, Gardeners’ World is in sweet spot territory.

There’s a reason that so many of us benefit mentally from running, walking, or cycling. We’re in our natural habitat. We were created to eat, and reproduce, and that was kind of it (words of a philosopher). Scrolling your ‘For You Page’ on TikTok, driving your Skoda Fabia, and researching savings accounts, are not really what Mr or Mrs Inventor of Humans had in mind. (Admittedly, I doubt televisions came up in the initial boardroom meetings either).

In essence, Gardeners’ World allows us to feel like we’re outside when we’re in. It allows us to feel in touch with nature all from the comfort of our nylon sofa. One hour of Gardeners’ World is one deep breath for your brain, and I think you should try it.

Volunteering with the Schoolreaders charity

Round & About

Community & Charity

Peter Henry tells us about his rewarding role as a volunteer with Schoolreaders… Perhaps you could sign up to change lives, too?

Schoolreaders is a national children’s literacy charity which helps children to catch up on their reading by recruiting, training and placing volunteers into primary schools in their local area.

I am happily retired after a successful career however; I can truthfully say that nothing I did in my professional life seems as worthwhile and satisfying as watching the children I read with improve their literacy.

Why is this so important? One in four children leave primary school unable to read to the expected standard.

This means they cannot fully access secondary education and only one in 10 of these children will get a GCSE in English and Maths. This can severely diminish their life chances. One in seven adults in England (7.1 million) are functionally illiterate so cannot read instructions on a medicine label, sit a driving theory test or fill in a job application form. That is why helping children to improve their literacy at primary level, has never been so important.

Nothing I did in my professional life seems as worthwhile and satisfying as watching the children I read with improve their literacy.”

I volunteer in a local infants’ school and my role is to focus on those children, especially those from more disadvantaged backgrounds, who need a little extra help learning to read. Fortunately, one thing of which you can be sure is that all children aged between five and seven are eager to learn and great fun to be with!

I, like many other Schoolreaders volunteers, could share a great many heart-warming stories. These include the boy who, for over a year, had really struggled, then one day was comprehending sentences and asking questions about the book, to the girl who not only reads the stories, but gives each character a different voice. I always return home from school with a spring in my step!

We are always in need of readers especially as more and more schools are asking for our help, which is provided absolutely free. So, if what you have read here has inspired you to think about joining us, and you can commit to an hour a week during term-time for a year, the next step is easy – please just visit School Readers to learn more.

Give something back…volunteer!

Round & About

Community & Charity

Find your perfect volunteering opportunity at OCVA’s Volunteer Recruitment Fair at the Westgate Oxford Shopping Centre on 20th March 2024

Oxfordshire residents are invited to pop into the Westgate Shopping Centre on 20th March (10am-2pm) to find out more about the huge range of volunteering opportunities on offer across the county.

Oxfordshire Community & Voluntary Action (OCVA) has been supporting the voluntary and community sector to flourish in Oxfordshire for 90 years and their Volunteer Recruitment Fair will bring together more than 20 different groups, including charities working in health and wellbeing, education, the environment and more. They are all keen to chat with potential volunteers.

With recent research from the National Lottery Community Fund finding that half of UK adults intend to take part in local volunteering activities in 2024 – and one in ten (14%) planning to volunteer for the first time – this is a fantastic opportunity to find the perfect role to suit you.

Jenny Bowley, Volunteer Development Officer for OCVA, said: “OCVA is delighted to be working with Westgate Oxford to raise the profile of volunteering in Oxfordshire. We know volunteering is a lot of fun, can help you to use existing skills and to learn new ones, and is great for health and wellbeing, so we hope this fair will link more people with some of the amazing charities working across the county.”

Brendan Hattam, Centre Director at Westgate Oxford, said, “By hosting the OVCA’s Volunteer Recruitment Fair, we hope that our guests will learn about the missions of an array of fantastic regional and national charities, and the tangible impact they have on their communities, whilst also encouraging them to get involved in volunteering.” 

If you’re interested in volunteering, why not visit OCVA’s website or the Oxon Volunteers website?

Raffle to support Berkshire Music Trust

Round & About

Community & Charity

Help to raise the necessary funds to continue their work and maybe win some great prizes

“Making music for everyone” is at the heart of what Berkshire Music Trust do as a registered music charity with the aim of providing musical opportunities for all. They run various activities across Berkshire including lessons, ensembles, early years classes and adult opportunities including singing cafes for people with Dementia and Parkinson’s across Berkshire community. They also have music centres in Reading, Newbury, Windsor, Bracknell, Wokingham and Caversham, and they also teach in Berkshire schools.

The Music Trust are running an online fundraising raffle and the money raised from this raffle will help to raise the necessary funds to continue their work.

There are over 45 prizes currently all from organisations across Berkshire, and tickets are only £2! (Winners drawn on 19th March) Follow this link to join the raffle, you’ll also find displays of the prizes.