Go wild this June for BBOWT

Round & About

Oxfordshire

Do one wild thing every day for a month this summer, as the UK’s biggest free nature challenge returns for its 10th anniversary from June 1st to 30th.

Could you do one thing to connect with nature every day for a month and feel happier and healthier as a result? That is the 30 Days Wild challenge being laid down by Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT).

This June promises to be a bumper 30 Days Wild – people of all ages and abilities are urged to participate and BBOWT are offering free herb seeds and an inspirational guide to everyone who signs up to do one wild thing every day during the month. There are also special packs for schools, businesses and care homes.

Estelle Bailey, Chief Executive of BBOWT, said: “With wildlife in crisis across the UK, it seems fair to ask – are we still a nation of nature lovers? I believe the answer is a resounding yes. This year is the 10th anniversary of both 30 Days Wild and my own time with Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust. Over those 10 years I’ve had the privilege of seeing our communities’ commitment to restoring nature where they live and enjoying all it has to offer. While our first year of running 30 Days Wild saw just over five hundred people sign up across our three countries, last year more than four thousand took on the challenge, which is brilliant.

“This momentum comes as no great surprise – connecting with nature is so important for our sanity and general wellbeing. My top tips to enjoy 30 Days Wild: Sit, walk, run, lay on the grass, look up, look down, fix on something, don’t be afraid to touch or smell it. Smile at the sun, throw your arms out in the rain, get wet, walk barefoot on grass and bare earth, have a cuddle with a tree – be in the moment.”

Supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, 30 Days Wild encourages individuals, families, schools, and businesses to connect with nature on a daily basis during what many argue is the best month for wildlife spotting. It could be going on a snail safari, eating your breakfast outdoors or closing your eyes to listen for bird song, to more adventurous endeavours such as outdoor yoga or forest bathing. This year’s participants will receive a special 10th anniversary park, designed to make their 30 days even more fun.

The 10th anniversary marks a real milestone for The Wildlife Trusts’ flagship 30 Days Wild initiative. The nature challenge has grown from 12,000 participants nationally in its first year to over half a million last year alone. 30 Days Wild has helped people to get outside, enjoy and connect with nature as part of their everyday lives.

Research has consistently highlighted the positive impact of nature on well-being. A study found a significant increase in people’s health, happiness, and connection to nature through participating in 30 Days Wild. People reported feeling more relaxed, reduced stress levels, and a greater motivation to protect wildlife which lasted long after the campaign ended.

So why not get in touch with your wild side this summer? Sign up today and receive a free pack in the post, plus lots of inspiration for activities: bbowt.org.uk/30-days-wild

Iconic film flies as magical

Round & About

Oxfordshire

An Officer and A Gentlemen will soar into New Theatre Oxford from Monday 27th May until Saturday 1st June. Director Nikolai Foster shares his thoughts.

An Officier and A Gentlemen: The Musical follows the hot-headed and determined naval candidate Zack Mayo (played by Richard Gere in the movie) who has a fiery, passionate relationship with factory worker Paula Pokrifki (Debra Winger on screen) before sweeping her off her feet in the soaringly romantic finale.

The film’s writer Douglas Day Stewart co-wrote the book with Sharleen Cooper Cohen for a musical which had a short run in Sydney in 2012, with original songs by Ken Hirsch and Robin Lerner. Now, Oxford audiences can look forward to a brand new, perhaps surprising, outing, directed by Nikolai Foster.

“I think a lot of people associate it with being cheesy ’80s romcom,” says Nikolai when asked about the stage version of the film… “There’s nothing wrong with a cheesy 80s romcom – and we offer some tasteful cheesy choices in our production – but audiences will be surprised by the depth of this story and how moving the show is. It is genuinely uplifting because we invest in the lives of these characters and care about them.

“Audiences will be surprised by the depth of this story”

“It delicately charts the lives and experiences of working class people in Pensacola, Florida. In some ways these appear to be ordinary and unremarkable lives but the characters created by writer Douglas Day Stewart (based on his own experiences) have remarkable stories to tell. When you throw a load of ’80s pop hits into this world, it truly is uplifting and sings in the way only a musical can. The songs in our show don’t propel the narrative forward but express something of the characters’ inner lives and emotions that they are unable to speak in their everyday lives. The music heightens the emotions.

“All of these characters are seeking some kind of escape, including from a factory which doesn’t allow women to move up the hierarchy. In our play Casey Seeger is the first woman in history to ‘get jets’ and Lynette believes her only escape from an abusive, alcohol-soaked home life is literally on the wings of a naval aviator.

“This is a completely new production, created by our incredible team at Curve. Alongside original screenwriter Douglas Day Stewart we have worked with his writing partner Sharleen Cooper Cohen and the team at Jamie Wilson Productions to take the film from screen to stage. It’s been an exhilarating ride for all of us – almost as exciting in taking off in a fighter jet!”

To book your tickets visit atgtickets.com/venues/new-theatre-oxford/

The Seasons in Time concert

Round & About

Oxfordshire

Head to Northend Village Hall on Sunday, 9th June for a ‘brilliant collaboration’ between Eleanor Grant & Gus McQuade (voice, guitar & double bass)

The unique duo to Eleanor Grant and Gus McQuade are a brilliant collaboration, equally at home with Dowland or Gershwin, Joni Mitchell or Benjamin Britten, embracing as they go classical, folk and jazz influences.

The duo are the latest to appear at Northend Village Hall as part of the Northend Concerts series bringing the very best chamber music to audiences locally.

Enjoy a programme from Eleanor and Gus that includes:

• John Dankworth (1927-2010) – It was a lover and his lass.
• Robert Johnson (1583-1633) – Where the Bee Sucks John Wilson (1595-1674) – Now the Lusty Spring is seen.
• David Shire (b.1937) – Autumn.
• Eric Wetherell (1925-2021) – How Like a Winter Eric Wetherell – Shall I Compare Thee?
• Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) – Cherry Blossom Wand John Duke (1899-1984) – Loveliest of Trees.
• Elizabeth Machonchy (1907-1994) – Ophelia’s song.
• Robert Johnson (1583-1633) – Have You Seen But a White Lily Grow Elizabeth Poston (1905-1987) – Sweet Suffolk Owl.
• Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) – The Trees They Grow So High Joni Mitchell (b.1943)- Circle Game.

For a sneak preview click HERE to watch them perform Shakespeare Song: How Like a Winter

Tickets £20, includes complimentary glass of wine. Buy tickets HERE (and available on the door subject to availability).



Henley Dragons rebound, seeking new paddlers

Round & About

Oxfordshire

After months off the Thames due to fast flows, Henley Dragons are back on the water and spreading the word!

The town’s Dragon Boat and Outrigger Canoe team had their first race of the season last weekend – a 7km slog up the river and back in Wraysbury. They powered in – in first place, over 2 minutes ahead of the second fastest crew. This weekend saw their outrigger canoe crew bring back a stash of medals from the National Sprint Championships held at Eton Dorney. The mixed crew claimed gold in both the 500 and 1000m. The men earnt themselves a couple of bronzes and Henley women added two more golds and a silver.

And it wasn’t just in the UK. The dragons wander far and wide with two members of the club making it all the way to Venice to paddle in the spectacular 33km ‘Vogolonga’ river marathon.

With four newly trained coaches, the dragons are raring to go and very much welcoming new members so if you fancy giving it a go – get in touch! [email protected]

Six of the best from Nico

Liz Nicholls

Oxfordshire

Six by Nico is the newest addition to the Westgate in Oxford. Liz Nicholls was lucky enough to be among the first to try it at the weekend

As the city of dreaming spires (with a wondrous view of them from the top of the Westgate) Oxford is known for its old-school charm.

But when a newcomer to the foodie scene creates a buzz, it’s a real thrill. And when that newcomer is an original foodie fanatic who has made his name in other, bigger, brasher cities before landing here, I’m sniffing about for titbits and tasters.

This is how I found myself absorbing the neon genius of an Irn Bru sorbet with a perfect ‘deep fried mars bar’ (actually a very classy chocolate pave & associated bits) in the intergalactic bonsai zen den at Six By Nico.

If you haven’t been to one of Nico Simeone’s restaurants (there are branches in Leeds, Belfast, London, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester and his native Glasgow) the concept is magically enjoyable. For £50 a head you can sit back and relax while you’re served a six-course tasting menu (dietary requirements catered for if you’re that person) that changes every six weeks, drawing inspiration from a memory, place or idea. For an extra £39 you can enjoy an expertly matched wine with each course, which I highly recommend you do.

Now, you might hate a ‘tasting menu’. Weeny portions and a lack of imagination at other restaurants might have given them a bad name, but not here. Thanks to hard graft, his Italian heritage, a flawless service team and a real passion for food, Nico knows exactly what he’s doing. The first menu is ‘the Chippie’, a nostalgic chip shop-inspired half dozen.

This is no bodged assortment of battered bits, instead you’ll find the courses deconstructed and dreamed up as better variations. From the starter, a mindbending parmesan and tatty concoction with curry oil, through the mains including a ‘steak pie’ of meaty magic which arrives in a smoke-filled cloche for a theatrical flourish to that incredible pud, you’re taken on a journey. But, amid a stonking interior (top marks for the amazing banquettes and yellow leather scalloped sofas) the food manages to sing. It’s not fancy for the sake of itself, either, but the flavours and originality should, hopefully mean this place is here for many changing menus to come. Oxford is stony ground for people to take root (as I know, 12 years after landing here myself) so I hope the Westgate crowd take it to their hearts.

I can’t wait for the next one. And, take it from me, you won’t leave hungry or hammered but with a spring in your step.

Bookings from 20th May. Visit Home – Six By Nico

MEZEMAS bringing the Greek meze magic!

Round & About

Oxfordshire

We chat to Panny Skrivanos whose authentic & high quality MEZEMAS fresh feast boxes are spreading the love from his homeland, and his beloved relatives

Filoxeno is the famous Greek spirit of hospitality and Panny Skrivanos has managed to box this concept and deliver it to food-lovers’ homes.

No wonder, then, that Panny has been winning rave reviews for his meze boxes, delivered across Bucks and Oxfordshire, complete with lovingly written menus and heating instructions. He’s even made a playlist of Greek music on his website if you want to ramp up the Greek vibes (plate smashing optional).

Panny set up the business with his family in 2015 to bring truly authentic, fresh and high quality Greek food to Oxfordshire and Bucks. Originally The Souvlaki Brothers, they spent years catering festivals, events, weddings and parties, opening a busy takeaway in Oxford’s Covered Market but the shop closed following the drastic reduction in footfall after 2020.

“We looked at a way to bring our food directly to our customers and broaden our menu to include the dishes we grew up eating, which inspired us in the first place,” he says. “And MEZEMAS was born! Since lockdown, shopping habits have changed, and it can be very expensive to eat out these days. Our business model allows us to provide really high quality food at a reasonable price. The past few years have also confirmed the importance of sharing time with friends and family, and we hope our sharing feasts will contribute in some way to helping people spend quality time together.”

Panny grew up in Torquay, where his family ran tavernas. Now he loves living in Chinnor with his wife, young son, cat Patti and Dot the tortoise. “Our local restaurants and takeaways are good, but, like a lot of villages, Chinnor lacks a little variety for food, and this also inspired us. Way back, my family originated from Smyrna (now Izmir, Turkey) but relocated in the early 20th century to Chios, in the North Aegean. It’s a beautiful island with great food culture and recipes. I’ve always been proud of my heritage. I’m conscious of a connection to my past when I’m cooking. I often think about my YiaYia and Thea Stavroula who were just the most amazing cooks. They’d probably have improvements to make with my food, but if I can get close to their cooking I’m doing OK!”

“I’ve always been proud of my heritage. I’m conscious of a connection to my past when I’m cooking.”

One myth about Greek food is that it’s meat-heavy… “In fact, for a long time, for much of the population, meat was a precious and expensive commodity. Many traditional recipes make good use of small amounts of meat, and lots are vegetarian and vegan-friendly. Our box contains a mixture of all of these, for all tastes.

“That’s the beauty of meze! I recall one holiday to Lesbos searching for food in a quiet, small village but the only taverna was just closing after lunch. The owner said he had some leftovers; lemon potatoes, dolmades, saganaki etc – and could put some on a plate for us – delicious! That’s a fine example of Filoxeno.”

Visit Mezemas

Henley Festival & Regatta extend partnership

Round & About

Oxfordshire

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 (henley-festival.co.uk)

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 (hrr.co.uk)

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

Oxfordshire

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 (mercerslaw.co.uk)

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

Jump into the GAP

Round & About

Oxfordshire

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/

Nik Kershaw comes to Oxford

Round & About

Oxfordshire

Nik Kershaw and his full band announce June & July 2024 shows coming to Oxford – O2 Academy on Friday 28th June.

Nik Kershaw and his band are excited to announce intimate festival warm-up shows at O2 Academy, Oxford on Friday, 28th June, Epic in Norwich on Saturday, 29th June, and Roadmender in Northampton on Friday, 12th July.

The performances will be devoid of dance moves, lasers, pyrotechnics, or any other showbiz elements. Instead, attendees can anticipate a focus on exceptional music, with minimal sartorial extravagance and a close-up, high-energy experience.

The setlist will feature Kershaw’s hit songs such as ‘Wouldn’t it be Good’, ‘The Riddle’, ‘I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’, among others, along with selections from his extensive discography and possibly a few surprising cover versions. This presents a rare opportunity for fans to witness the acclaimed songwriter, once praised by Elton John as ‘the best songwriter of his generation’ (with a disclaimer acknowledging Elton’s possibly altered state when making the statement).

June & July 2024 shows include:
Friday 28th June: Oxford – O2 Academy
Saturday 29th June: Norwich – Epic Studios
Friday 12th July: Northampton – Roadmender

All tickets are priced at £32.50 advance plus any BF’s/levy’s that may be applicable.
Tickets are available from Nik Kershaw (thegigcartel.com)