Charlbury festival

Karen Neville

Cirencester & Lechlade

Free festival fun down by the riverside in Charlbury

Head down to the river this weekend for free family fun in Charlbury at the ever-popular Riverside Festival.

Held on the banks of the Evenlode, it has grown over the past 24 years, attracting thousands of music lovers who this year will be able to enjoy the US rock band The Pixies among many others. For youngsters there will be free pixie fun activities to join in.

There’s a packed programme of music on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st with more than 40 acts playing across four stages – rock, indie, jazz, and folk on the main two stages and all sorts on the Fringe and Buskers stages!

Headlining the main stage on Saturday is four-piece Oxford band Kanadia. Their big and bold alt rock sound and impressive stage presence has won them a growing fan base in Europe and a big following across the Atlantic in Mexico, the US and Canada.
Sunday headliner is popular upbeat garage punk band Self Help.

Other acts to look out for are Riverside favourites 2 Tone All Skas, The Knights of Mentis, Mighty Redox and eclectic Turkabilly band, Brickwork Lizards.

The second stage, run by independent record stores, Rapture in Witney and The Truck Store in Oxford has an impressive line-up of local bands including Peerless Pirates, Death of the Maiden and Ghosts in the Photographs.

The festival takes place in The Mill Field, Dyers Hill, Charlbury with entry opposite Charlbury railway station.

For more information and details

Blenheim Palace Flower Show

Grace Tracey

Cirencester & Lechlade

From classy garden furniture to wacky ornaments for your backyard there was no end to the inspiration on offer at Blenheim Palace Flower Show.

Some of the creative displays stopped me in my tracks and there was so much to see and learn. You need to go round at least twice to see everything.

As someone who knows nothing about flowers, I was inspired and excited to improve my garden this summer and bring in some of the more quirky ideas I saw. Succulents in household objects was a personal favourite. I saw a lot of people had purchased foxtail barley (Hordeum Jubatum) and my FOMO made me buy some too – I’m planning to build an ornamental grassy display with a variety of sizes and colours.

The Grand Floral Pavilion greeted us with an array of gorgeous colours and smells that filled the marquee. The floral carousel was a highlight, created by RHS Medal winner Mig Kimpton – impossible to pass without taking a snap.

In the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies (NAFAS) Marquee I was expecting to be impressed and was not disappointed. The arrangements showed off their amazing talents and encouraged some to create their own at the hands-on workshop.

Their creations would have been worthy of guest speaker George Clarke who shared how his love of architecture sprouted and grew during a question and answer session on Friday, 21st June, and later presented the Best in Show award.

As with any good outdoor extravaganza, there was a fabulous Food & Drink Pavilion to tuck in to too right next to the entrance and having arrived with an empty belly, we sampled some delicious gins, fudge, olives, baclava, cheeses and more, not least the amazingl-named cheese The Drunken Monk from the Great British Cheese Company.

There were plenty of artists and designer stalls as well which caught my eye – especially UK Pet Portraits where your beloved furry friends can be made into a work of art.

A fantastic day made even better by sunshine and lots of dogs. I would definitely recommend putting it in your diary for a future visit – lovers of all things floral, home and inspirational won’t want to miss out.

Missed the flower show?

Don’t worry, we have plenty of ideas for days out this summer in your area!

Thames Valley Hospitality Awards

Round & About

Cirencester & Lechlade

Picture credit: Dijana Capan, DVision Images
Picture caption: Organisers Marc Allridge and Hilary Scott


Nominate your favourites for 2019 Thames Valley Hospitality Awards.

The 2019 Thames Valley Hospitality Awards are open for nominations celebrating excellence and outstanding staff in the sector. From hotels to B&Bs, bars to restaurants, it’s time to share who you think deserves to be honoured. 

In addition to last year’s categories, there are three new ones – Achiever of the Year, Wedding Venue of the Year and Outside Caterer of the Year. This is the second year of the awards and the organisers are delighted to be building on the success of last year. 

Co-organiser Marc Allridge of Cherubs Floral Design said they were very excited about the new categories. He added: “We would love people from managers to brides to nominate in the Wedding Venue of the Year category. And we want to hear form all those caterers who work away behind the scenes and often don’t get recognised for their efforts – winning Outside Caterer of the Year would fix that. 

“We also want to see lots of entries in Achiever of the Year – this is for a youngster who has overcome physical or mental issues to shine in the trade.” 

The gala awards dinner this year is being held at the De Vere Wokefield Estate on Sunday, 28th April and hosted by leading chef Daniel Galmiche. Fellow organiser Hilary Scott encouraged entries for this year, saying: “We had so many entries in our first year it was amazing. I hope that we can get more this year now we are a bit better known. And remember if you missed out last year you can enter again.” 

This year’s categories are: 

Hotel of the Year sponsored by TVHA 

Independent Hotel of Year sponsored by Newsquest Berkshire 

Bar of the Year  sponsor Matthew Clark 

​Restaurant of the Year 

Hotel Manager of the Year sponsored by Cream Design 

​Front of house star sponsored by H&D Food Solutions 

Back of house star sponsored by Cherubs Floral Design 

Warm welcome  

Best breakfast 

Apprentice of the Year 

Three new categories for 2019: 

Achiever of the Year – a youngster who has overcome physical or mental issues to shine 

​Wedding Venue of the Year – in a competitive market who stands out for their venue, service and professionalism 

Outside Caterer of the Year – in a growing market, we want to find the best 

  For full details and to nominate visit and don’t forget to share with us who you are nominating and why!

Phil Hall’s Wallingford Wishing Well

Round & About

Cirencester & Lechlade

Phil Hall’s new fantasy action novel Wallingford Wishing Well is set in our lovely town of Wallingford.

Phil Hall, whose last book, Bangkok to Ben Nevis Backwards was quite autobiographical, has taken a different angle this time.

Wallingford Wishing Well is a fantasy action novel set locally and in the present day. Phil says it’s partially based on real-life characters (with a few fictional ones thrown in) and that the story is fast-paced enough to keep you reading until the last page.

It features various local landmarks including The Kinecroft, Wallingford Bridge, pubs The Old Post Office and The Coach and Horses and Castle Gardens. The plot is loosely based on William the Conqueror’s occupation of the town but is mainly set today. The plot includes an ancient curse as well as hijinks and skulduggery.

“With a few references to the fascinating history of Wallingford, there are plenty of twists and turns that ensure the reader never gets bored,” adds married dad-of-one Phil. “If you live here or have visited, please have a read of this 140-pager because it’s most likely you’ll recognise the overall vibe and can imagine the rest.”

It ends on a massive plot climax, and Phil hopes it might one day provide the basis for a funny short TV movie, appealing to people who enjoy quirky storylines and even quirkier characters.

Wallingford Wishing Well is stocked at Wallingford Book Shop or you can buy on Amazon.

Jeff Koons exhibition at Oxford’s Ashmolean

Round & About

Cirencester & Lechlade

A new exhibition by American artist Jeff Koons at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum includes work never seen before in the UK.

A new exhibition which provokes a conversation between the artist’s work and the history of art is set to be unveiled at the Ashmolean Museum.

The work of American artist Jeff Koons, which is self-curated, will feature 17 important works, 14 of which have never been seen in the UK before.

Since Koons burst on to the contemporary art scene in the 1980s he has been described as important, subversive and controversial, consistently pushing the boundaries of contemporary art.

Director of the Ashmolean, Dr Xa Sturgis says: “In showing Jeff Koons at the Ashmolean, the world’s oldest public museum where the collections range from prehistory to the present, this exhibition will provoke a conversation between his work and the history of art and ideas with which his work engages. I am sure it will also provoke conversations among those who see it.”

Among the pieces on display will be examples from Koons’s most well-known series including Statuary, Banality, Antiquity and the most recent Gazing Ball sculptures and paintings.

His work is exhibited all over the world including at New York’s Rockfeller Center, Guggenheim Bilbao and at the Chateau de Versailles.

The Ashmolean exhibition will include important works from the 1980s with which Koons made his name with pieces such as One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (1985); Rabbit (1986) and Ushering in Banality (1988).

It will also explore his more recent focus on the meeting of ancient and modern art which come together in his singular vision, with the highlights including Balloon Venus (Magenta) (2008-12) featuring his signature motifs of monumental scale and the mirror-polished surface which positions the viewer in the work.

Ashmolean curator Sir Norman Rosenthal says: “Putting his work in the Ashmolean – the first museum in the very heart of academia, Oxford University – we can take his experiment a step further. For those of us willing to share in his visions, Jeff Koons makes art a magical transformation.”

Jeff Koons at the Ashmolean runs from 7th February to 9th June at the John Sainsbury Exhibition Galleries. Tickets for the show cost £12.25/£11.25 concessions on the door or online.

 For online tickets

Concert: Violin virtuoso

Round & About

Cirencester & Lechlade

Former Young Musician of the Year Jennifer Pike will be playing the piece that won her the title when she appears at Marlborough College.

At the age of just 12, Jennifer Pike became the youngest ever winner of the Young Musician of the Year in 2002.

Three years later she performed at the Proms and has gone on to build an international career which has included many more accolades, not least being the only classical artist to win the South Bank Show/Times Breakthrough Award.

Jennifer is passionate about helping other young people enhance their lives through music and is an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust.

You can enjoy her music on Sunday, 20th January when she takes to the stage in the Memorial Hall at the college, as part of the World Class Musicians in Marlborough series when she will perform Vaughan William’s The Lark Ascending alongside pieces by Bach and Wieniawski.

Following the redevelopment of the Memorial Hall (which Marlborough College provides as sponsors of the concert series) the town now has a state-of-the-art concert hall.

The £6.5million project retains the charm of the original design while adding contemporary touches to create a state-of-the-art facility. The acoustics received accolades after a BBC National Orchestra of Wales concert recently and with improved front of house facilities, a concert at Marlborough College will be a true treat for the senses.

  Tickets available at Enquiries: 01672 892566 or

Blacksmith forging ahead

Round & About

Cirencester & Lechlade

Celia Stone finds out more about John Ward, the blacksmith of Donkeywell Forge in Quenington

John Ward is not only keeping alive the skills of craftsmen, he is also interesting young people to take up and maintain its traditions, by from time to time recruiting new apprentices.

Very few villages have their own forge these days – as they also no longer have a post office, local shop or their own school. Quenington’s forge however differs in its line of work from those of older times, which carried out mainly farriery and the casual odd job of repairs to metalwork.

Although John Ward still carries out farriery, his main occupation is in blacksmithing and creating decorative architectural ironwork. This includes for churches, for private individuals, and at prestigious locations such as Buscot Park, working for the National Trust.

John, who has been at his current base for about eight years, followed an apprenticeship in February at the start of his career, but has always had an interest in the blacksmithing aspect and he now specialises in this.

People walking through the village of Ampney St Peter will be able to admire the new gates he has made for the entrance, and those who attend services at Compton Abdale will be able to have a safe passage up the steep and winding path to St Oswald’s Church with the aid of the handrail which the forge has made.

John works with architects and designers. A recent commission on which he has been working this year is four chandeliers to hang in a new wedding venue at Bolton Abbey, a stately home in Yorkshire.

The chandeliers are described by John as ‘gigantic’, measuring two metres high and two to three metres across. He expected the whole project to take about three months to complete.

Originally from Bristol, he started out in welding and fabricating, then having always had an interest in horses he started at the age of 22 his four-year apprenticeship in farriery, at the town forge in Malmesbury.

This was to stand him in good stead later in his career, when he was doing work for racehorse trainers. He shod a winner of each of steeplechasings most high-profile races, the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National. His Grand National winner was a horse named “Don’t Push It”.

But while farriery was his main focus during his apprenticeship, he also followed in his own time his interest in blacksmithing.

At the age of 27 he was able to start his own business which in this year of 2018 celebrates its 21st anniversary. He initially based the business in a workshop in Coln St Aldwyn, there concentrating on blacksmithing.

He moved to Quenington about eight years ago, to Donkeywell Farm, which is owned by the Ernest Cook Trust, a well-known supporter of the continuation of traditional skills and crafts.

John has a staff of four, plus apprentices. This is very much a family business, with his wife Fiona dealing with the secretarial side and their two sons and their daughter enjoying helping out after school and at weekends.

John takes satisfaction not only in the creation of his ironwork, but in seeing it in its new setting.

Once a project has been completed, he and his team carry out all the installations themselves. “I like new gates to settle in looking as if they have always been there,” he says.” If a client says that this is how they appear, then we have succeeded,” he says.

“The greatest thing is to make sure that we are proud of what we are making.”


Young minds

Liz Nicholls

Cirencester & Lechlade

Kevin Leivers of The Naked Pharmacy explains how parents can help boost children’s mental health to cope with their learning journey at school

September summons our youngsters back to school, college and university. Increased screen time, pressure to succeed and the inability to switch off can tip the nervous system into permanent “sympathetic nervous system” mode. This is the “fight or flight” mode the body originally evolved as a mechanism to protect us from imminent danger. The anxiety response in the brain causes a cascade of hormones with wide-ranging effects such as shortness of breath, a racing heart, paling or flushing of the face, sweaty hands… The list goes on and, if left unchecked, may lead to more regular and extreme symptoms.

Youngsters who suffer from anxiety may feel abnormal and isolated. Depression is deeply personal and masks itself in varied symptoms. Research by the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that perhaps the most effective treatment is personal empowerment of the sufferer’s own treatment. This means that they can learn to recognise and manage their symptoms, assisted by their parents.

Finding the tools that work for the individual is key to success. A regular exercise routine is both physically and mentally beneficial for health, especially within a group or team which will help reduce isolation. Regular sleep and a bedtime routine is very important, so turn off all blue light-emitting devices, avoid late food or drink (give at least two hours to digest) and avoid caffeine and sugary drinks after 1pm. Encourage children to express themselves by drawing or writing; it’s such a beautiful tool as an outlet to release thoughts.

Correct breathing is also vital. The hormonal cascade during an anxiety response causes us to shallow breathe and suck in more air than we breathe out, making panic worse.

Tony Ulatowski has used “The Big Breath” with more than 400 students in London, from pre-schoolers to secondary students, for the last year and received overwhelmingly positive feedback from parents, teachers and pupils. He says: “One of the teachers told of a four-year-old girl with anger issues who’s learnt to take herself away, regulate her emotions and just two or three of the big breaths help her feel better.”

A healthy diet including “live” foods, vegetables and fruits is hugely helpful; 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut. A study from New Zealand in 2017 found depressed patients significantly improved on a modified Mediterranean diet. There are also some natural supplements which are safe, effective, non-addictive and adaptogenic that provide an evidence-based approach for mood imbalance and anxiety in children and teenagers. One of the most widely tested is the ancient spice saffron. Saffron targets the gut as well as the brain.

Dr Paul Clayton, Fellow at The Institute of Food, Brain and Behaviour, believes saffron should be considered in place of current therapies. He says: “By targeting core aspects of mood and anxiety, saffron works far more rapidly than the pharmaceuticals, which shoot at the wrong target. Saffron restores normal nerve function; if you have chronic inflammation, the “brakes” are put on a few key processes. Moreover, it acts very fast (hours, not weeks or months), has no withdrawal symptoms, no side effects, and is safe to use with children.”

Visit or email or call 01483 685630.

Did you know?

1 In the UK 16 million people experience mental illness.
2 Three out of four mental illnesses start before the age of 18.
3 10% of school children have a diagnosable mental illness.
4 Three out of four young people with mental illness are not receiving treatment.
5 The average wait for effective treatment is 10 years.
6 Suicide is still the biggest killer of young people in the UK.
7 People with severe mental illness die 10-20 years earlier than the general population.

Acting up

The Boost! School of Acting team believe taking part in drama-based group activities can help develop social skills and reduce anxiety. They offer Saturday morning lessons in Oxfordshire for 4-6-year-olds and 7-10-year olds in Clifton Hampden and Monday morning sessions for pre-schoolers in Didcot. They also want to start a new group for teenagers – parents and teens themselves who might be interested, please get in touch! Visit

Calling carers

Round & About

Cirencester & Lechlade

Aura Care Living is looking to reward the best carers in the Cotswolds – and they need your nominations for these unsung heroes

Aura Care Living’s team are looking for the unsung heroes of Gloucestershire.

The award-winning care group, who run Cirencester’s Stratton Court nursing home and retirement village, have launched a competition to find the county’s best carers. The winner will receive a week’s respite at their care home and a luxury hamper.

“The nominee doesn’t have to be a relative or a friend, or someone caring for you, just someone who you feel is changing someone’s life for the better,” says Cliff Hasler, Aura Care Living’s managing director.

“As care home operators we understand the difference it makes to a person’s life when they are looked after so we want to hear from you if you know someone who is making that difference who is not a professional carer. This is your chance to say thank you to that person.”

You are allowed to nominate one person, who can be of any age and be providing any kind of care or support. Enter online at or pick up an application form from Kings Lodge. The nominees will be chosen at the beginning of September and as well as the respite package the winner will receive a luxury hamper.

For more information about Aura Care, or to book viewings, please call 01285 283132 or email

Drink quench marks

Round & About

Cirencester & Lechlade

Our beautiful part of the world is full of fantastic food & drink producers. We uncork some of our favourites to enjoy this summer…

If summer joy could be encapsulated in a sound, surely it would be the “pop” of a perfectly chilled bottle? And when you’re uncorking the fruits of your own labours, success is sweet indeed…

“This land is a b***** to cultivate,” says Henry Laithwaite as he stands on the undulating Chiltern slopes alongside his wife Kaye. “It’s so flinty that the harrow kept breaking when we started working the soil, which inspired our name. But it is a very special spot.”

Indeed, this beautiful Thames Valley terroir is one of the many magical ingredients (along with lots of hard work) which have helped conjure up the lush velvety blushing fizz we uncork and sample in Harrow & Hope’s adjoining state-of-the-art winery. This non-vintage brut rosé, made exclusively from pinot noir grapes, won a gold medal in the Sommelier Wine Awards. Produced using traditional methods and the precious fruit from these relatively young vines, Harrow & Hope’s sparkling wines are flying the flag for the Great British food and drink revolution. Visit

Here at Round & About Magazine we are passionate (not to mention greedy and thirsty) supporters of local pubs, restaurants and producers. After all, anyone working in the food & drink industry will know all too well that it takes a lot of hard graft to create the perfect recipe for punters to enjoy.

Chalgrove Gin

Gin has seen a surge in popularity and there are some interesting local producers in this spirited part of the world. Chalgrove Artisan Distillery use juniper berries, coriander seed, angelica root, cardamon and black peppercorns, honed in an alembic copper still, to create their OX44 Gin; visit

Did you know gin started out as a medicine (it was thought to cure gout and indigestion)? In the 18th century, alcohol was safer to drink than water and gin was cheaper than beer; it was untaxed until the government cottoned on, sparking hooch production. Much of the gin was drunk by women (with historians blaming it for child neglect and citing wet nurses giving gin to babies to quieten them), landing many in debtors’ prisons or the gallows, or driving them to madness, suicide and death (hence the term Mother’s Ruin). However, these days it’s a more joyful summer spirit, and can even be considered a beauty tonic…

Young In Spirit is the world’s first company which combines spirits with pure collagen. Oxford “gintrepreneurs” Camilla Brown and Liz Beswick have earned attention from Vogue and The Daily Mail, among others for their Collagin;

The artisans at Toad in Oxford craft gin, absinthe, vodka and rye whiskey worth a shot – and there’s a new cocktail bar at Bicester village; And Mr Hobbs Gin, part of the Hobbs of Henley Experience, has launched two new fruit flavoured gin liqueurs; Rhubarb & Ginger and Raspberry & Elderflower 

Is beer your tipple? Hoppy bunnies are spoilt for choice. For tours, tastings and hearty ales, check out Witney’s wondrous Wychwood Brewery ( Cirencester’s Corinium Ales (, Chipping Norton’s Hook Norton Brewery A passion for good beer and social justice fuel Botley’s Tap Social, where the team offer live music and street food every Friday and Saturday in August as well as the monthly comedy night and reggae night, Ciderniks near Kintbury has been making natural ciders, pure apple juice and cider vinegar since 2003;

Spice up your life…

Variety is the spice of life and there are so many restaurants to enjoy this summer. Michelin-starred Atul Kochhar (the father of Benares in London and Sindhu in Marlow) hosts Indian nights in August at his divine Hawkyns in Amersham; The Bottle & Glass Inn in Binfield has made a splash, gaining a nod from Harden’s Guide and a Michelin Plate; For summer dining in style, check out The French Horn in Sonning (, The Crooked Billet in Stoke Row ( and The Nelson in Brightwell Baldwin Feast on fresh Lebanese and Middle Eastern delicacies (many vegan or veggie) including colourful salads and wraps at Comptoir Libanais in Oxford’s Westgate;
We also love the rustic summer vibes of The Highwayman ( Cheers!

So, we’d like to know what’s your favourite pub or restaurant and why? Join in the conversation and comment below.